Anacrusis

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Of Potions And Home Invasions

Of Potions And Home Invasions



- - The Sad Heart of the World - -

Out in a secluded office surrounded by a purple haze, the Professor works himself to the bone. With fabric hands he shuffles his papers and looks out onto a world he no longer feels a part of, but knows in himself that he is the sole reason for its survival. For the violet halo above him breathes life into the quiet yet content land, a star with finite power and a sad heart. The Professor sings no more tunes, as with sad hands and wire-strung bones he punches numbers into enigmatic machines and takes readings,

And looks up to the gazing stars,

And looks away,

And fears a sudden bloody crescendo to end the World’s quiet song.

The Witch towered above the entirety of Tripphire’s remaining squad. She was very tall and very scary, and her face looked strangely ancient, eyes like age-polished blue slate. Hell, she looked old, but didn’t move like it. She was... Unnatural. The house they were in looked like any other Witch’s lair multiplied by a hundred, potions and herbs stocked on shelves along one side and a rustic, bare lightbulb hung from the ceiling. A strange furnace crackled and fizzed angrily at Tripphire from where it was perched halfway up the riverside wall and moss clung to just about everything except the floor, which was oddly shiny and clean.

Adrien stood outside munching a bagel he had been given to keep him quiet, unable to fit through the tall but slim door to the odd mill-house.

This was a home invasion, as Tripphire had reiterated many times to their host. The squad needed supplies and directions, and being Lieutenant meant it was her responsibility to acquire this.

“Hey, you old hag! Hurry up with that map!” She called up the attic, sounding impressively convincing considering Mulberry had her shaking in her polished metal boots.

Mulberry had suspected this might happen if a soul managed to escape the Overworld and His grasp: September would stop at nothing to ensure that the following events took place in Her kingdom, where everything was under Her control. This was bad news for Ahbon; Her forces would march endlessly into this world until she got what she wanted.

That was not going to happen.

“Ah’ll be swift, dear!” called Mulberry down the attic hatch, and tripped over a small toy organ.

Tripphire groaned and slammed a metal fist into her metal palm. “Yeah yeah, just hurry it up will you!? Or we’ll... Break things. Yeah! We’re going to break your property if you don’t do exactly what I demand! You’re messing with a royal lieutenant here this is a home invasion and I am Lieutenant Tripphire Onyx of the Tricloptic Circle.”

Nothing but silence came from the attic.

“Hey!” called Tripphire to an oddly quiet attic. “... Alright, McKracken! see those shelves with the bottles and herbs on them? Topple them!”

“Sure thing, Lieutenit ma’am!” McKracken obeyed, hobbling over to the stocked shelves. he clawed round the back of them, digging his fingers into the small gap between the shelf and the wall. It just wouldn’t budge. After a while he stopped, straightened himself out, turned to Tripphire and saluted with his one remaining arm. “Lieutenant, it’s nailed to the wall.”

“Damnit!” She cussed under her breath. “This old hag knows her tricks, eh? She’s a wise one, she is! This old prune might be smarter than me however I, lieutenant Tripphire, am more clever! ’Zurei! Take each bottle from the shelf and smash it with my sword! I’ll keep shouting at this ominous attic hatch!”

And so she did, quite proud of herself for being so assertive and intimidating. It felt good to be an authority figure. She wasn’t even shouting words anymore, just noises that let the old bugger know who’s boss.

’Zurei took her sword and felt around blindly as ever. The shelf eluded her; where in this fuzzy, blurred and unclear world was it? Finally, her hand reached up and found something that felt like a glass bottle. She hummed a note of satisfaction and swung the Lieutenant’s sword.

The Lieutenant, who just so happened to look over at that moment, right on time to shout “’Zurei NO! THAT’S -”

*SMASH*

“... The lightbulb.”

All went dark, and all became even darker when not a second later the slender door slammed shut and broke Adrien’s nose. He gave a yelp of pain, and the rest of the squad gave a cry of fear as the Witch reappeared, a looming, stalking figure like a monolith by the shelf. Seeing her was terrifying, but what was more terrifying was not seeing her; she had disappeared again. All weapons were drawn, Tripphire grabbed her own weapon back, and Irig paraded fearlessly around the room shouting confident taunts. “PUT ’EM UP, YE SCRAWNY GRANNY!” She said.

When Mulberry showed herself again, the dwarf punched at her ankles, and was lifted off the ground by grey fingers in the scruff of her neck.

“FIGHT ME!” Yelled Irig, punching the air and suspended at arm’s length.

Mulberry whispered a spell that temporarily turned the soldier to stone, and she fell to the ground with a clatter.

“No! Curse you, you hag of flatulence!” Tripphire cried, “You’ll pay for turning my dwarf into stone, you will! Minions, avenge her!”

Turning the squad dwarf to stone is considered extremely disrespectful, or at least, that’s what Tripphire considered it. McKraken and ’Zurei charged forward, unsheathing no blades, bows or arrows in their empty hands - for the Witch now held their weapons tauntingly before her own eyes - and disbelieving were the eyes of the Lieutenant as she found that her own sword was no longer in her hand.

“Leave here, young Lieutenant.” Said the Witch, taking a ribbon from off of her hat (which, by the way, has a lot of tartan ribbons up the length of its conical form) and pinching it threateningly in the air.

Never had a Triclopse been so frightened of a ribbon before. “y-you will let us out of this filthy shack immediately… Th-this instant, actually! Or I’ll -”

“Call ‘jer captain?” the witch taunted, “Inform him of yer faliure at d’hands of an ol’ gorgon.”

“No, I’ll… I’LL-”

Just then a vile green vial smashed onto the polished floor and spread a lot quicker than liquid should round the feet of all in the room. From the now swampy-like floor came a sound like a gargling phantom, and sure enough a posse of gargling green phantoms emerged from the marsh like cabbage juice draining through a sock. They howled in dissonant unison, and the crew bolted, screaming for the door. Irig regained her flesh, which was not all that different from stone.

“Irig!” Screamed Tripphire, “Fall back!!”

“AYE, LIEUTENANT!”

The door swung open to reveal a bubbling Adrien blocking their way. The four piled into him, and he fell over backwards and kept going - rolling the crew flat around him like a toffee apple in sprinkles. Onwards and away they tumbled, and Mulberry laughed and dismissed her phantoms, who solemnly obeyed and climbed back into their vial.

“And stay out!”

About half an hour later, after loitering unsurely with a sponge in her hand (she didn’t quite remember what needed cleaned) did she think it a good idea to call Eigengrau. She loitered by the phone for an extra minute or two, so as to not seem desperate to talk. Old bones nimble and quick entered the number “16161” into the old rotary phone, and Eigengrau answered on the other end immediately.

He wasn’t desperate or anything; such things never really crossed his mind.

“...” Said Eigengrau.

“Professor.” Said Mulberry.

“... Hello, Eithne”

“Evenin’ you ol’ sack o’ mud.”

Eigengrau tried to speak again, but found himself coughing horribly, which sounded like someone smashing an organ. It was as if the sound was coming through a large metal pipe.

“Jeh been smoking cigarettes again?” Mulberry said with a hint of sadness.

“Only a… packet or such. To take the edge off of things. You know how… morose all this is.”

Mulberry spat, “MOROSE!? How can you be morose now, you depressed pincushion? The Hero ‘as come; Nostradookus’ prophecy is fulfilling itsel’, things are about to change eit’er for d’better or become a lot, lot worse - both of which are excitin’! Yet you’re still morose as bloody ever. ‘course y’ are, you sad bleet’n patchwork parade o’ morosity.”

The Professor sat back in his desk chair, his fabric hands completing paperwork as he held the phone between his ear and shoulder. “What… Has happened, that you should pester me approximately thirty-two seconds earlier than the average time? Were you just so desperate to chat?”

Mulberry grit her teeth. “No, Eigengrau. I, in fact, was not desperate to ‘chat’ at all.”

Then, un-clenching her jaw the Witch continued in a lighter tone, “Well y’see, we have a little situation on our hands.”

“Our decrepit… Tattered hands.”

“Speak for yourself. Anywho, it turns out our little prediction we had about Queen Shiny-briefs sending troops after the Hero was right on d’money. I ‘ad a few visitors this evenin’ and they wern’t very kind.”

“Were they in flashy golden… Armour?” Eigengrau asked.

“A couple o’ them. One was swallowed by the Blackwater, I disarmed the rest and sent them on their merry way. The river didn’t want ’em, so I doubt they’re the sort to cause the Prophecy any greif.” the Witch clicked her fingers and over hobbled her armchair. She sat down.

“Yes, but if you want your Prophecy, we… ought to be safe. This group may not be a threat but… The next person to come through that portal could be September herself.”

“What are you suggesting?”

Eigengrau didn’t hesitate, “Destroy the well, close the… portal.”

Mulberry did hesitate, for she did not want to close the portal. “I have that bottle of transvoidal elixir left, only enough to send the Hero home and no more. Should I close that portal, Coda’d be stuck here forever.”

“Are you forgetting why she is here? She has escaped the… grip of The One, sending her back will only doom her to Him yet again. If you want what is best for her then… I would think it a good idea that she stay here indefinitely. Besides, she’s already lived out her life on Earth I presume, however short.”

Mulberry nodded to herself and sighed, “Yes, that’s a fair point.” Then a strange question dawned on her like a soft slap to the back of the head. “And exactly, how d’you propose we go about closin’ said portal?”

“Destroy the well… Close the portal.”

“How d’you know, ye’v never done it yoursel’?” The Witch interrogated.

“I shall do some research on the matter, I have no doubt in my mind that… The required information should be found somewhere in the University’s… Library.”

Mulberry nodded, and Eigengrau had no idea. “Right, well I guess ah’ll just go make sure everythin’s in order down ’t the glade in the meantime then.”

The sounds from the kitchen were not of any concern for Mulberry; they were normal sounds. For a Witch’s kitchen, at least. Too bad Mulberry had lost her sense of smell aeons ago, for a small slice of bacon had come to life and decided to fry itself. It smelled pretty good!

“Tabbes… Called earlier.”

“Oh?”

“They’re… all safe and sound. That’s what I think he said, anyway.”

“Oh good. But why the blazes didn’t he call me!?”

Eigengrau sighed, “He… said he forgot your number.”

“Argh! That boxhead can’t remember anything.”

“Indeed. Though he… is not entirely dim-witted either.”

There was a pause, and Mulberry absent-mindedly nodded, and Eigengrau absent-mindedly approved two civil engineers’ build plans, signed five rather important documents, wrote a short essay on how the fashion industry could better utilize their machinery to aid in an emergency lockdown during an invasion of Ahbon’s capital if such an event were to ever occur, and rolled himself another dogend. He did all this with only one hand during the long-ish pause, after which he said “Well Eithne, shall we converse… Some more?

Mulberry’s voice it up, ”Shure, lest ye are eiger to get away I have a list here I found on d’internet of interestin’ reasons why ye should never eat polystyrene in a number of different positions and situations.”

Eigengrau hung up. How rude.

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