Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Form In The Smoke

Author's note: I almost forgot about this today... been a little distracted. Must do better.

Arbiddance sat at the table and contemplated ripping the seal off of the bottle. Of course, he was schooled to avoid such rash decisions; sigils must be translated and weighed against his admittedly scarce knowledge of otherworldly beings such as the one he suspected was inside.

So he sat, with his head resting on one fist, and turned the bottle slowly... allowing the engravings to soak in. Qova sat at the other end of the table and patiently watched him.

Hern was busy transforming the campfire into a round fireplace in the center of the room. He had recently brought in a hearty supply of Mistwood... long on heat but short on smoke... to replace the oak they had been using. Now he cemented stones together to form a large circular fireplace that would serve their purposes.

He stopped and gazed at his companions... one entranced by a piece of art and the other fixated on the observer. After placing a stone, he stood up, dusted his hands, and approached the table.

"So, when will you open it?" he asked the wizard.

"Patience, my friend," Arbiddance paused to push back a lock of his long hair. "Whatever's inside, we can't rush into this." He straightened up in the chair. "I strongly suspect this is a Brareq ha-Abadani."

"A what?" Qova spoke up.

"It's Ak'Kori... roughly translated, it means 'Abode of the Cunning' and that should be enough to give you pause. It does for me," Arbiddance turned the bottle upside down for the fourth time. "If it is, then it contains a powerful and dangerous tool... an ef'fretah. Know anything about them?"

"No," Hern replied.

"Sounds like an exotic dish," Qova retorted.

"It's a being from another place of existence," Arbiddance went on. "A powerful servant bound to the possessor of this bottle... the ef'fretah serves its master to the letter, but constantly seeks a method of escaping its servitude.

"On the other hand," he sighed, "supposedly these things are egotistical as hell... play them right, and you've a strong ally. In any case, the servitude lasts only a year and a day... so you sort of want to be nice to something that will escape one day and remember how it was treated."

"So, best to keep it in there until we really need it, right?" Qova asked. "It sounds much too dangerous to let loose, in my opinion."

"That's a good idea, except that it could do us some great good in here. For instance, looking forward to lugging that lumber around and building the house? This creature could do it in minutes... if I'm right," Arbiddance scratched his face and looked at her. "If I'm right."

"Have you read the sigils?" Hern asked. "Around the seal... what do they say?"

" 'I AM THE GREAT SERVANT K'ALI AQA' it says," the wizard replied. "Guessing that's the name of the occupant." He rose. "What the hell, ready to try it?"

"Now?!" Qova shouted. "Five minutes ago you were preaching patience. Why now?"

"Five minutes ago, I was five minutes younger," he smiled. "Don't question my ways."

"Okay, fine," Hern said. "Where will we do this and how?"

"Right here and very diplomatically," Arbiddance said, and took the bottle to the far end of the room. He sat it down on the floor, drew his dagger, and cut open the seal.

Nothing happened. He turned at looked at his comrades, and then removed the stopper.

Nothing was still happening... at first... and then a thin stream of smoke began to issue from its depths, growing larger and darker until it became a cloud with a vague humanoid form. It's "head" looked to each side until it settled on Arbiddance.

Who summons K'ali Aqa? A voice like hurricane winds ripping through trees vibrated in their ears. Who dares to disturb his sleep?

"I dare, gret Ka'ali Aga," the wizard replied. "I am Arbiddance of Ydric, and it is I who unsealed your prison. By the plutonian names of Qeshic, Aqasha and Vien-Roor, I command you now to take a form that is pleasing to my eyes."

The form in the smoke quivered with each eldritch name spoken, and slowly coalesced into the gigantic form of a dusky skinned girl. Is this form more to your liking, great Arbiddance of Ydric? The voice changed to that a female even as it spoke.

"It is," Arbiddance replied. "Now, I ask of you, great K'ali Aqa, to tell me how you came to be in that bottle, and I ask you to tell me truthfully whether or not you are ef'fretah."

I am ef'fretah, the form replied. I was the guardian to the gates of the fifth tower of Melek-Taus until that tower was toppled.

Oh, shit, Arbiddance thought, but tried not to let his shock show in his face.

I was bound to the bottle by the greatest wizard of that conquering army and cast among his belongings until he forgot about me. Since then I have languished in this bottle. A spark of... madness?... flashed for a second in her deep eyes.

"K'ali Aqa," Arbiddance replied, "I have opened the door to your prison and, by the ancient laws, you must serve me for a year and a day. After that time, I will destroy your bottle and allow you to go free. I swear this by the twelve faces of Abaoth the Merciful."

I know of Abaoth, and I know that you would be a fool to swear to his name falsely, wizard, the form replied, thus I trust you to keep your agreement with me.

"Then return to your abode, K'ali Aqa," Arbiddance tried to hide the relief from his voice, "I will replace the stopper, but I will not seal it. Know that I will call on you again for your daily task in the morning."

The form returned to smoke and descended into the bottle. Arbiddance gingerly replaced the stopper and picked the bottle up, turned to his friends, and smiled.

"Tomorrow, we build a house," he said.

"Is that thing really safe?" Qova asked.

"Those were the biggest breasts I've ever seen," Hern laughed.

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