Cleric’s eyes flew wide, and her jaw dropped. “What do you mean the horse might never regain her wits? What have you done to Mystery’s mind?”
One of the snow devils buzzed loudly. It sounded angry. We did what we needed to do. And now, you will help us. We have been too long gone from our world.
Cleric clenched her fists at her side. Her face flushed and her eyes narrowed as she glared at the snow devils. “I will render no assistance until you release your hold on this horse.”
Cleric walked over to Mystery and patted the small horse on her neck. Mystery responded by briefly nuzzling Cleric before turning back to snatch another mouthful from the pile of hay. The little horse stood there, calmly chewing, seeming oblivious to the conversation and activity around her.
The angry buzzing of the snow devil became more intense. As soon as we depart, our hold on the horse will be broken. The disembodied voice in the minds of Cleric and Dragon sounded belligerent.
Cleric shook her head. She paced back and forth, punctuating her words with broad gestures. “That is not acceptable. The horse is the favored creature of the one I serve. I must protect this animal. You claimed it is also favored by the one you serve. How dare you do something potentially harmful to one of your deity’s favored creatures? You will release your hold on its mind immediately, or you will receive no cooperation from me.”
Another snow devil swooped down and confronted Cleric. If we release our hold on this horse, we may well lose our ability to communicate with you. If you want to help the horse, open the magical conduit that brought us here. When we depart, the horse will regain her wits.
Cleric ran her hand through her hair and bit her lower lip. She began pacing again, and remained silent for several long minutes. She stared at Mystery, still standing quietly and chewing a mouthful of hay. The horse twitched her ears back and forth, the only sign she was aware of anything around her save her food. Finally, Cleric sighed and nodded curtly to the snow devils. “Very well.” She turned to Dragon. “Do you have any idea how to open the conduit and facilitate the snow devil’s return to their own world?”
Dragon, still in her familiar guise of an elf maiden, shook her head and scoffed. “How would I?”
You would know, creature, because you and another of your kind caused us to be caught up in the magical conduit that brought us to this place.
Dragon glared at the snow devil. Her eyes were narrowed and her mouth was drawn into a thin line. “So you have said, but how can that be? You claim you are not from my world. My world and this world are the only worlds to which I have been.”
Fabricator! Prevaricator! The telepathic message assaulted Dragon’s mind.
“What?” Dragon’s eyes flashed, her nostrils flared, and her face turned bright red.
A third snow devil descended. You, creature, are a liar.
In a flash, Dragon shapeshifted into her true form. “You dare question my veracity?” Fire shot from her maw, scattering the snow devils. “It is not wise for creatures of ice and snow to anger one who could evaporate them.”
Cleric grabbed Dragon’s arm. “Stop!”
Dragon growled and shrugged out of Cleric’s grasp. “What care you if I vaporize them?”
Cleric’s eyes flashed. “Other than the fact we know not what would happen to Mystery should the snow devils be harmed, there is a substantial possibility you could set fire to the barn!”
Dragon growled and lashed her tail. She spewed large clouds of black smoke from her nose, but she made no further displays of fiery anger.
Cleric straightened her robes and addressed the snow devils, who had gathered once more in the rafters. “I happen to believe my friend.”
Then you are a fool.
Cleric felt her face grow quite hot, but she noticed Dragon did not react.
You are correct in your assumption. We did not allow the creature to hear us this time.
Cleric nodded. “Suppose you explain how my friend and her companion caught you up in a magical conduit. Then, mayhap I can conceive a plan to return you to your world.”
We were on a remote mountaintop on our world, reveling in a blizzard with our brethren. Suddenly the six of us were sucked into a vortex. We were powerless against the strong current of energy. We were carried along between various universes and deposited here in this world, along with this creature you call friend and another beast, almost identical to her. They were the ones who had created and traversed this passageway.
This time, even thought the snow devils were addressing Cleric, they apparently allowed Dragon to hear as well. The big beast looked thunderstruck. She morphed, changing in color to a pale blue, and bubbles of smoke dripped from her nostrils. She shook her head several times. “No. No, it is not possible. Not unless . . .” She turned red again, and glared menacingly at the snow devils. “You must be from my world. That is the only other world I and my companion visited.”
One of the snow devils scoffed. You journeyed to at least one other world, creature. Our world.
Dragon frowned. She though back to her recent travels, and shook her head again. This time she appeared to be trying to recall events rather than deny them. Suddenly, she paled once more. “Wait. I do remember another world, a world in which I was but a shadow, unable to interact with the people and creatures I encountered. But surely you are not from that world! https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/the-situation-worsens/
No, creature, we are not from that world.
“Then I do not understand.” Dragon’s shoulders slumped and her reptilian brow furrowed.
The snow devils huddled together, buzzing, whirring, and droning. Finally one separated from the group and returned to face Dragon. You seem genuinely confused, creature. Perhaps you honestly do not remember being in our world. Or perhaps you and your companion never actually set foot on our world. Perhaps your conduit intersected our world, or passed so near as to capture us in your power stream. It matters not. All that matters is that you return us.
Immediately. Another snow devil buzzed angrily. Our power to maintain our corporeal existence wanes in this environment. Even now, I feel myself dripping as the temperature rises.
Dragon gaped. She raised her hands, palms up, in a gesture of frustration. “But I do not know how to return you to your world. I do not even know where your world is, or how I could find it.”
Would the other of your kind know?
“Mayhap. But I have no way to contact her. She is no longer present in this world, and it is my understanding the conduit between her world and this one has been collapsed permanently.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/the-odyssey-ends/
The snow devils started keening. We are doomed. We will soon perish if we do not return to our own world.
Cleric gaped at the snow devils. She turned to Dragon. “Can we do nothing to prevent their demise, to find a way to return them to their own world?”
Dragon shrugged. “If there is a way, I know not how.”
“What did you say?” Cleric stared at Dragon.
“I said if there is a way, I know not how.”
“I heard that. I meant what you said after that.”
Dragon furrowed her brow and shrugged again. “I said nothing else.”
Have faith. The voice was louder.
All eyes turned toward Mystery, as the little horse whinnied shrilly. She tossed her head and pawed the ground furiously.
Have faith. The voice seemed to be coming from the horse.
What is happening with Mystery? To whom does the mysterious voice belong? Be sure to come back next week and find out what happens. And for readers just now joining us, please take the opportunity to explore the past episodes of our little adventures. Nine characters – Dragon, Cleric, Sorceress, My Old Dwarf, My Young Hero, My Gypsy, My Foreman, My Arrogant One, and My Bounty Hunter – have fallen from the pages of my fantasy manuscript. They have taken up residence with my husband, Miles, and me – Mistress Writer – in this, the real world. This has resulted in some pretty unreal consequences, sometimes dire, sometimes comical, but always entertaining. We would love for you to join us. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.