Pumpkin King

Chapter 66

While Lorelai and Azusa had been fighting Angel and Rose, the members at Pumpkin King were having an ordeal of their own.

"Now I have a few questions for you…Man from the Magic Council."

Corwin didn't show any recognition at being called that. He simply studied the old man. He was trying to decide if this was the real Bertrand or just another fog clone. He didn't want to waste energy with useless attacks.

Bertrand scowled at him. "Now don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about." Corwin didn't say anything. So Bertrand decided he needed some reminding. "Several months ago, there was an incident involving our guild. Two of our members had been on a job to help a small town. And while they were there, they got held prisoner. They were tortured by a heinous man. We sent members to rescue them and they managed to succeed. They even captured the individual involved." His words started to become heated. "But then, and tell me if I'm off on any of this, a man appeared who informed us he was aligned with the Magic Council. And instead of allowing us to get information out of the captive, he took him away." In his anger, he hit his cane against the ground. "And here you are, a man fitting his EXACT description. So please tell me. What were you doing in Lighten Town!?"

Corwin didn't give any explication or monologue. With quick, sure movements, he pointed two fingers at Bertrand and glowing vines of light wrapped around the older man. Bertrand didn't seem impressed. He tested the strength of his bindings and glared scornfully at the dark guild wizard. "I presume this is the same spell you 'escorted' Jilo away in?"

Corwin smirked. "Indeed. Odd though. The edges should be sharp enough to cut you in half, old man." He kept his distance, but he observed his opponent for a moment. Then he saw what was wrong. It was hard to make out from the distance, but he could see it. There was a thin layer of fog in between Bertrand and the light bindings. "Interesting. Your fog appears to have some amount of defensive application."

"You don't reach my age without learning a trick or two." Bertrand replied. "You aren't the first to try to kill me and you certainly won't be the last."

Light coiled around Corwin's arm as he raised it to be level with Bertrand's head. "I beg to differ." The light released, like a bolt from a crossbow. Unfortunately, Bertrand couldn't move. The restraints kept him rooted in place.

So there was nothing he could do as the beam went through his skull. Corwin smiled. "You shouldn't have let your emotions get the best of you." He said confidently. "In your anger, you hit the floor with your cane. A fog clone can't do that."

But his victory was short lived as Bertrand smiled at him. There was a spear of light protruding from his forehead. He shouldn't be capable of smiling. He shouldn't be alive! Then the old man started laughing. "Like I said," he started dissolving into fog, "you learn a trick or two."

Corwin was instantly on guard. The fog around him thickened, like it was trying to strangle him. That image was slightly disturbing. He didn't know enough about his magic. For all he knew, he could very well strangle him.

"I may not be Guild Master, but I am an old, old man. And I view all of the youngins here as if they are my own." His voice echoed all around, making it impossible to locate him. It was unnerving, but not frightening. But then the voice got darker. "You were involved in the death of one of mine." The voice was suddenly right behind him. "You will pay dearly for that."

Jekyll struggled and kicked against the hound that was dragging him through the mist. But it was useless. Struggling only works against things you can hurt. You can't hurt the dead.

But luckily the canine had decayed considerably since its demise. After kicking at its jaw enough times, the bone snapped and he managed to roll free. Once he got to his feet, he looked around to get his bearings.

He growled in frustration. "Damn fog." He moved in a circle, trying to keep as much in view as possible. Then he saw the glow. It was faint through the fog. But he could definitely see it. He approached cautiously, not wanting to fall into a trap.

But as he got closer, the fog started to thin. And then he found the source of the light. It was Rosemary. The magic circles around her were…wait. Circles? When the hell did that happen? He searched his memory and, sure enough, he remembered there being only one magic circle when they first got there. But now there was a second. He kept a wary eye on Rosemary, but she wasn't paying him any attention. Her eyes were closed and she was completely enveloped in her magic. He didn't try approaching her. He didn't need Taboo to tell him that the seals around her were dangerous. He dare not try to break them.

But he did study the second circle. There was something strange about it. It was too slim to be an entire circle. Like it was just the first part of something much bigger. Then something caught his eye. There were stray lines coming out from it, into the room. He approached one of the lines only to find that it extended into the room.

Then it hit him. The second circle didn't look complete because…he wasn't seeing the whole thing. He ran around the circumference just to make sure. And he was right. He ran to the nearest wall and there it was. He looked up into the ceiling and it was there too. On the floor, on the walls, in the rafters, everywhere in the building were symbols and circles only found inside a magic seal.

The seal wasn't just around Rosemary. It was around all of them. The entire building was one giant magic circle. It boggled his mind. To need a seal this big would mean you were trapping something equally large. And this was no two-bit spell. Whatever she was planning to trap, she wanted it to be permanent.

He needed to let his team know, but he couldn't find them in this fog. And now that he thought about it, he would have trouble getting Taboo to listen. He had thought it odd when the smaller wizard had gone berserks over the fog. But it wasn't just the fog pressing against his senses. I was the seal as well. Both magics layered on top of each other could cause more pain for him than he had ever encountered. And no matter where he looked he wouldn't be able to get away from it.

So Taboo was out. He would have to rely on Corwin. And just because the fog kept them from seeing each other it wouldn't stop them from hearing each other. "Corwin!" He shouted, as loud as he could. "They're buying time! Don't toy around with them! They plan on trapping us in here forever! They're setting up a spell to-."

He was stopped midsentence as something grotesque and slimy slammed into him and pinned him to the floor. He was horrified to see the corpse of a mostly decomposed fox sitting on his chest, staring down at him with mangled eyes. What little meat remained on the body was barely hanging on. The smell coming off it was nauseating but Jekyll forced himself to ignore it.

"Tsk, tsk." Someone, a woman by the sound of her voice, said. "Can't have you go around shouting out our master plan, now can we?" That's when Tamashi stepped into view above him.

Jekyll glared at her. "Tamashi Pyke." He said slowly. "Should have figured. The dead beast should have given that away."

Tamashi just smiled her sultry smile. "Because there are so many other people that can command the dead."

"Actually, there are." He replied. Hopefully Corwin had heard him. All he had to do was keep her talking until he got here and killed her. "There are plenty of necromancers in the Dark Guilds around the country. To think yourself unique in this world of magic is…ignorant at best."

She dropped the smile and rolled her eyes. "No shit, genius. I learned from a few of them." She didn't even need to gesture it, but the fox moved and put its teeth on his neck. "Funny thing is, none of them could keep up with me."

He was oh so aware that she could end his life in this moment. So he did the one thing he could do, talk. Which was actually quite uncomfortable when there were fangs on his throat. "I have to give you that one. Which is why we wanted you in our guild. You should have accepted our offer back when you still had the potential for greatness." He made the tiniest head nod towards the fox. "I mean, look at this situation we're in. Had you joined us and been taught properly, you wouldn't be letting me talk like this. You would have killed me the moment you caught me off guard. But now that you're in an official guild, you've grown soft. Weak. Being here in this place has taken away what could have been a glorious and powerful future."

Tamashi didn't exactly glare at him, but her demeanor became irritated. "Look, hot shot, you've got a point. Back in the old days I would have killed you and then had tea with your lovely corpse." She sighed forlornly. "But now I have to obey the rules or risk being sent back to that god awful prison. You can't imagine the kinds of creeps they keep there." She curled her nose in disgust. "Besides, it's more fun here than it would have been with you. At least here I know that I won't get stabbed in the back." The fox tightened its grip. "So now I'm going to keep you like this until my friends are done with kicking your collective asses."

He really couldn't help it. Jekyll started laughing. It was just too good. "Kick our asses, huh?" He let out another round of laughter, which caused the fox's fangs to make small cuts on his neck. They bled, but he didn't pay them any mind. "You might have me in a pinned and separated from my team, but I have three reasons why that isn't happening."

"Reason one: Corwin can't be beat by either some spunky kid new to the guild or an old man that has spent the last few years being lazy growing moss." He ever so subtly moved his hands in circular motions, making sure they went unnoticed. "Reason two:" with a shout, he flooded his hands with magic, which then created a pulse that went of them in waves. The fox tried to stop him, but it didn't even move. Tamashi jumped away to get distance between them just as the mammal collapsed into a heap of bones and spoiled meat. Jekyll pushed it off with contempt and sprang to his feet. "I'm a Magic Breaker. I specialize in fighting other wizards, like you."

He got into a fighting stance. He kept his palms pointed to the floor and let his arms go limp while making sure he could still move his wrists. "Reason three:"

Across the room, near the bar, Reese was watching his opponent writhe in pain on the floor. He didn't know what to do. Fighting wasn't really his thing. He might not even need to fight if his opponent was just going to flail around on the floor. But just as he was about to take a step away, the writhing stopped. Then slowly, very slowly, the form got to his feet. Then his eyes opened. There was blood leaking from them, but he still smiled wickedly.


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