For links to previous chapters: http://herebemagic.blogspot.com/p/round-robin-story.html
Without further ado...
PART FORTY-TWO: THE GRAND FINALE
(Note: The answer to the universe may or may not be in this chapter.)
By Jody Wallace (www.jodywallace.com)
Aurora, her eyes and nose red from weeping, screamed and dropped her bouquet. Her white dress, covered in tiny gems, glinted blue as the glow from Dash’s shapeshifting power faded.
“Oh, thank Horus!” she cried.
Beside her, Ainmire’s eyes bugged out with rage. He was a tall man with a face like someone who’d smelled something bad. In contrast to Aurora’s crystalline white, he was dressed completely in...hot pink.
Well, that was unexpected.
“Hello, there,” the old abbot said, standing on tiptoes to peer past Aurora, who was quite tall. There was no golden cord around the wrists of Aurora and Ainmire yet which meant she and Dash were in time to stop the wedding. “Aren’t you newlyweds supposed to be on a honeymoon?”
“Off with their heads!” Ainmire demanded, quite unoriginally.
Male soldiers, including Stride, moved forward to grapple with Dash. That left Delphie unattended. None of the djinn dudes would risk touching her and granting her any wishes.
Quick as a barghest, Delphie skipped forward, up the steps and straight for the evil king, hands outstretched.
“Oh, no, you don’t.” A lime-haired female blocked her access to the angry king. She was stealthy, agile...and familiar. “Troublemaking pixie.”
“Hey, I know you.” There was no mistaking that hideous fluorescent hair. “You were Aurora’s maid—and you’re a spy.”
“You’re daft,” the woman declared. She dodged right and left, the same as Delphie, preventing her from approaching the king. “I am loyal to my Queen Aurora.”
“Seize the pixie!” Ainmire thudded his gaudy brass scepter on the ground. “Her life is also forfeit.”
“No!” Dash bellowed. He sparkled blue for a moment...and nothing happened. Struggle as he might, he’d apparently used the last of his power to sprint himself and Delphie into the palace. Beside him, scimitar at his brother’s throat, Stride bowed his blond head in failure.
Well, rats. If Stride wasn’t even going to rebel, knowing the truth like he did, this was definitely a pickle.
Several female guards converged on Delphie, their brass armor gaily festooned with ribbons. Delphie fought dirty, but she was small and they were many. Within moments they had pinned her.
“Why is my life forfeit?” Delphie demanded. “Or Dash’s? I married him so his death sentence would be lifted. Your own abbot performed the ceremony. You can’t just make up new laws on the spot.”
Could he? He was a king, but from what little Dash had shared about djinn hierarchy, it sounded like their laws were already set in stone.
The large audience, which had been silent, began to shift and murmur. It was composed of female djinn on one side and male on the other, with a glowing blue line down the center. If Dash was right about Aurora’s secret marriage and this wedding revealed it, Aurora and her husband, whomever he was, would be executed along with Delphie and Dash. Also, the Clan Aurora women in the audience would be slaves to Ainmire for a year and a day.
Since the males could compel wishes out of an entire clan of female djinn, that would give Clan Ainmire unlimited power. They could use it against other clans. They could use it off world. Delphie was beginning to see why this situation—executions aside—was a dire suck fest.
“Ask your husband why you’re both as good as dead,” Ainmire said with a sneer. He strode forward, his chest puffed out like a pigeon. Her captors dragged her down several of the dais’s steps so she had to crane her head to look up at the king. “For one, he molested my betrothed yesterday. He will have his hands cut off before his head for that.”
“Whatever, your Craziness.” Delphie jerked at the women restraining her, and they gripped her tighter. “He didn’t molest Aurora or even try to.”
“I have it on good authority they touched one another.” He glanced at the green-haired spy who’d fought Delphie, and she scowled.
Oh ho. Perhaps the spy girl didn’t like her job. Perhaps Ainmire was holding something over her poorly-dressed head. Delphie could work with that.
“So what?” she told the King. “Djinn can’t have friends?”
“Non-clan members of the opposite sex aren’t allowed to touch royalty,” Ainmire explained pompously. “It’s automatically counted as molestation. Why am I surprised you don’t know this or anything else about our ways? The main reason you and your treasonous husband are sentenced to death is because he didn’t quench you, you filthy little outlander. That is treachery beyond anything else.”
“Oh, he quenched me, all right,” Delphie said, sparing a wink for her furious, struggling husband. “Like, four times. Bet you can’t quench anybody that good.”
The king’s skin turned an unattractive beet color with rage. “Ignorant wench.”
“Seriously. I’m not even thirsty.”
Ainmire, studying her with evil intent, steepled his fingers like some stereotypical prime dimension movie villain. Delphie considered what Dash had told her about Ainmire—his dark, twisted imagination and his hatred for other fairy species in particular.
She really didn’t want her wings torn off by rabid griffins!
“You think you can come into my world and steal our magic?” Ainmire ranted. The crowd murmured louder, in agreement. “You deserve death. You deserve worse than death. Pray that I execute you quickly.”
Some guy in the audience shouted, “Yeah!”
The crowd grew restless—lots of shuffling and thumping. Oh, dear. Fighting the king and the soldiers was bad enough. She didn’t want to fight five hundred djinn too. “If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to pray that you don’t execute me at all.”
“Shut up, you unquenched hussy,” spat the king. “You and your traitor husband get no say.”
It occurred to her she probably should have found out about this quenching stuff before now. Every time it had come up, nobody had explained it. Quite frankly, nobody had had time to explain it.
They kept calling her an outlander—someone from outside their secret dimension. They really got their drawers in a tizzy over that. Xenophobia? Maybe. Or did their fear stem from the fact she could snag wishes from people, like she had Stride, and they couldn’t snag wishes from her? That gave her a pretty huge advantage.
It would give anyone from outside a huge advantage. Outlanders could enslave the djinn. Hence this being a Very Secret Dimension whose residents were believed to be a myth.
It was almost understandable Fart Face wanted to execute her for stumbling around here.
That being said—no way.
“I am quenched,” she declared, putting her plan into motion. “You can’t kill me or you’re breaking your own laws.”
The crowd, bloodthirsty at this point, watched the proceedings as if it were a special show, hosted just for them. Considering how speedy her wedding to Dash had been – I do, I do, and now you’re wed – this might end up being the longest, most exciting wedding ceremony in the history of the djinn.
“Enjoy your last breaths, outlander. Don’t waste them on lies.” Ainmire turned his back on Delphie and addressed a horror-stricken Aurora. “My betrothed, I really must thank you for your part in giving me this wonderful wedding gift.”
Aurora’s skin blanched to the same white color as her wedding gown. “If we could talk in private for a moment, Ainmire, I could explain--”
“I love having choices,” Ainmire said, interrupting her. “Do I execute first? And if so, which traitor? Or do I marry my dear, beloved Aurora? Decisions, decisions.”
Delphie kicked one of the guards holding her, but the brass plating on the guard’s shin prevented Delphie from doing any damage with her spike heels.
“I told you, I am quenched,” she yelled. “And I can prove it.”
She hoped. She only had a half-formed idea of what it meant.
“You think you can touch me to prove it?” Ainmire laughed. “I’m not a stupid troglodyte. I’m not falling for that.”
“No,” Delphie said. “I’ll touch Dash and prove it. I’m quenched, so he won’t feel the tiniest bit of a wish compulsion.” Ainmire wouldn’t know, yet, that Dash possessed the secret to break the compulsion entirely. Aurora, without Dash here to prove it, wouldn’t have told him. And now that Delphie had met Ainmire, she didn’t think anybody should give him anything but a boot to the ass.
“Like that would work.” Ainmire thrust at her with his scepter. Replacement phallus, much? “You and that traitor were bound with the golden cord in marriage. There are no wishes between you but those of the heart.”
Oops. Delphie glanced frantically around the room for another idea, and her gaze locked with Stride’s.
All the misery in the world burdened that man. She almost felt sorry for him, if he hadn’t been such a tool this whole time. He clearly didn’t want to kill his brother, or her, or Aurora. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, the man looked like he’d rather be dead right now than where he was.
“Then I’ll touch some other djinn. What about him?” She pointed at Stride.
Aurora pressed trembling hands to her mouth.
“No,” she pleaded. “Don’t touch him. Ainmire has more wish compulsions owed to him than you can get from Stride. He will outwish you, pixie.”
“But I won’t be getting any wishes from Stride,” Delphie said, fingers crossed for luck. “I’m not looking for a wish battle here. I just want to prove I’m quenched.”
“Ah,” the king said. “That might work. Enforcer, I order you to touch her.”
Stride, his expression pained, walked across the room and held out his hand. “Do your worst, pixie.”
Delphie jerked her arms free of the female guards holding them. “I need that, thank you very much.” She clasped Stride’s broad hand in her own.
Nothing happened. No flash of blue, no compulsion, no nothing. Thank goodness her hunch had worked and he was still immune to her after she’d stolen wishes from him yesterday.
She raised herself onto her tiptoes and kissed her brother in law on the cheek. “Give this to your brother, would you?”
“Enough!” Ainmire bellowed. “Fine, I’m convinced. You have been quenched. But your husband is a traitor who molested my betrothed. He shall die.”
Ainmire threw back his head and laughed: “Muahahahaha!”
Oh, good gravy.
“You sure you want to do that?” she asked the king when he’d finished posing for the cover of Villians Today. “Dash holds the secret to solving the wish compulsion entirely, and if you kill him, it dies with him.”
The crowd started whispering amongst themselves so urgently, it sounded like the hiss of a giant cobra.
“Have any female djinn touch him,” Delphie suggested.
“You quenched him,” Ainmire accused. “It can be done to djinn too.”
“How could I quench him? I’m quenched myself, and I can’t grant wishes either.”
With a flick of his scepter, Ainmire directed the green-haired spy to touch Dash. And when she did, the male guards holding Dash steady, nothing happened.
Aurora’s cheeks gained some much needed color.
“How did you do this thing?” Ainmire asked, eyes wide. “I demand you tell me, or I will execute you both on the spot.”
“With this magic herb.” Delphie withdrew the bottle of catnip she’d been planning to give her husband on their honeymoon. Their second honeymoon. She shook most of the herb into her hand. “Watch what it does to him.”
With the female guards following her step for step, Delphie crossed the room as well and sprinkled some catnip on Dash. Immediately, he began to sparkle with blue power. A tiny whirlwind erupted around him, and then POP! He morphed into his magnificent gryphon form—only four times the size she expected.
What a man! The guards holding him scuttled away, terrified. Dash raised himself to his hind legs and roared, pawing the air. His golden wings flapped, sending ribbons and flowers and other weddingy type things flying through the air.
The audience screamed. Many began rushing the exit. Basically, pure bedlam erupted.
Ainmire’s scepter clattered to the ground from nerveless fingers. “Shapeshifting is not a skill I’ve gifted to my clan! What is the meaning of this?”
“When a djinn is transformed by this herb, grown only in the Earth Two dimension, he or she gains the power of, ah, telekinetic translocution...ah...” Delphie sought impressive enough words to get Ainmire to come closer. “Anyamungus pyrographicamogorum.”
Ainmire goggled at her. “What the what?”
“It means I’m an all-powerful djinni,” Dash said, in as exasperated a voice as possible. His beak clacked as he gnashed it. “The most powerful being in the entire dimensional stratosphere!”
“Then why did you allow us to capture you so easily?” Ainmire growled. “You are a ridiculous liar.”
“And you’re a creepy xenophobic shut-in who has no idea of the advances in the magical sciences we’ve been making on Earth Two,” Delphie retorted. “Can’t you see he doesn’t want people to get hurt in the chaos? We only want to stop this wedding. I think you know why.”
Ainmire’s expression glinted with greed—and understanding. Oh, yes, he knew about Aurora’s secret wedding. Delphie resisted the urge to fist pump, since that might reveal how excited she was that she was right. Boy, was she gonna rub that into Dash later! Along with some edible massage oil.
“If I have all the power in the universe, I won’t need her paltry lady clan,” Ainmire said, casting Aurora a slitty-eyed glare. “Tell me more.”
“If I just had more fairy dust, I could show you. You let us all go free, and I’ll give you the power instead of Dash. There can be only one, you know. Unfortunately, I’m fresh out of dust.”
Ainmire snapped his fingers at one of the female guards. “You there. With your last wish, order Stride to fetch me some fairy dust.”
“The good stuff,” Delphie said. “None of that bottom shelf White Sands crap.”
The guard complied. Stride strode off, and within moments returned with a small wooden box.
“Madam Pixie.” He presented it to her and bowed. “Your dust.”
She mixed it with the last of the herbs and quirked an eyebrow at Ainmire. “Don’t be so standoffish. I have to touch you to assign Dash’s power into you.”
She put one hand on Dash, as if preparing for a transfer ritual, and held the other out to Ainmire. She could have snagged wishes from any of the male djinn during the hubbub, but it had to be Ainmire. She had to compel him alone.
Ainmire, almost as if he couldn’t believe he was falling for this, touched her skin.
The wish compulsion flared blue between them, so bright it hurt her eyes. Apparently royals really packed a wishy punch.
Ainmire fell to his knees. “Noooooooooooooooooooo!”
“Haha!” Delphie cackled. No “muahaha’s” for her—she wasn’t the villain here. She was the hero! “You there! Stupid King Ainmire! I wish you’d get up and do a stupid dance!”
Ainmire hopped to his feet and began cavorting. The rage on his face pleased Delphie to no end—and apparently a lot of other people too. Lady guards hugged other lady guards. Male guards pounded each other on the back. What was left of the crowd, the intrepid ones more curious about the proceedings than they were scared of a giant gryphons, cheered and whistled.
And Aurora...hugged Stride? What was up with that?
Dash sparkled back into his original form. “You wasted a wish on that?” he fussed.
“Oh, I’ve got two more.” She began to clap her hands along with King Ainmire’s horrible capering. “Kick those legs. One, two, three!”
The abbot came to Delphie’s side, still holding the golden cord of marriage. “You must not let vengeance and meanness drive you, my child. Do what needs to be done with a modicum of cruelty.”
“What about little more cruelty?” she asked, her eyes still on Ainmire. Every time he managed to cavort closer to one of the female guards, she backed away from him, laughing. Why he didn’t attempt to out-wish her, she didn’t know. Maybe it had something to do with the fact he was too compelled to obey her?
“Delphie,” Dash whispered into her ear, his hand at her back and his voice a purr. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can finish our honeymoon.”
Oh, right. She’d given him catnip. Yes, time to finish this.
“I wish you would tell us all,” Delphie ordered King Ainmire, “how you installed an illegal spy into Queen Aurora’s staff long before the wish feud began.”
“That is considered criminal,” the abbot said. “Any wishes owed between djinn, any wish compulsions granted to those who aren’t outlanders, must be registered on the rolls. It keeps us in balance—keeps us in harmony, so that we can live our lives in security and secrecy. Surely Ainmire wouldn’t...”
“I did,” Ainmire snarled. “I have spies everywhere. I am going to take over the world. Muahahahaha!”
What was left of the crowd gasped. Ainmire opened his mouth, probably to tell everyone about Aurora’s illicit wedding so she would still be in deep doo-doo too.
“I wish you’d shut up now,” Delphie said quickly.
Ainmire did. As soon as he did...he bolted. Silently. But he bolted.
“I wish you’d come back and take it like a man!” Unfortunately telling him to shut up had been her last wish. Perhaps she shouldn’t have used the first one to make him dance like a monkey after all. “Oops.”
Dash blurred into Ainmire’s path and stuck out one muscular arm. Ainmire bounced off it and to the ground, clotheslined. “Fairy dust. Infinity bottle!” he yelled at Delphie.
She ran forward, threw a whole honking handful of dust on Ainmire, and stuck out the bottle. “Get in there,” she said.
Since this wasn’t White Sands dust, her desire and intent structured the magic correctly. Ainmire, a look of total horror on his fart-smelling face, shrank smaller and smaller and smaller until he was suctioned into the bottle.
Delphie hoped he liked the smell of catnip, because he was going to be stuck inside this infinity bottle for a long, long time.
“Well done,” the abbot said. “You have spared our new king from the necessity of beginning his reign with an ugly execution.”
“What?” Delphie asked. Wouldn’t they need to have elections or something?
Stride, looking a lot less miserable and strangely noble, stepped forward to the edge of the dais. “My people,” he said. “I hereby renounce Clan Aurora’s debt to Clan Ainmire due to the perfidity of the previous ruler. There will be no year and a day of service. You are all free to go.”
“Why are you the king?” Delphie asked.
“The King’s Enforcer is the king’s heir,” the abbot explained.
“Thank you, King Ainmire,” Aurora said, coming to stand beside Stride. Wait, no, he was Ainmire now. Holy Dryad, these djinn naming conventions were hard to keep track of.
Hell, she was just gonna call him Stridemire.
“And there is still the matter of a royal engagement and wedding,” the abbot said. “The clans agreed it should take place, and that still stands.”
Stridemire and Aurora glanced at each other, and Aurora’s cheeks turned pink.
“All right,” she said.
Wait a minute. Delphie stared at Aurora, and then Stridemire. If the abbot tried to marry them, the truth about Aurora’s secret marriage to a commoner was still going to come out, and she was still going to get executed. Why would she so easily agree to this royal wedding?
Dash slipped an arm around Delphie. “It’s all right, wife. You’ll see.”
The crowd settled back into their seats and quieted. Aurora and Stridemire stuck out their wrists, and the abbot placed the golden cord around them.
“We do,” they said, before the abbot spoke.
“Well, eager to get to the honeymoon, are we?” The abbot chuckled “Then let it be so!” The abbot waved over the cord that held their hands together. It glowed a bright blue—and then remained as solid as ever, on their wrists.
Delphie gaped. “When we got married, the cord disappeared into our skin.”
“Hm.” The abbot waved his hands above the cord again. “Let it be so!”
The cord glowed blue...and did nothing.
The abbot cast a sharp eye over the couple standing before him. Delphie noticed their free hands were clasped between them. And she remembered, too, that they’d embraced when Ainmire had been vanquished. Were they not worried about wish compelling each other?
“I gather the two of you are already wed,” the abbot grumbled. His body blocked the audience’s view of their extended wrists. He deftly whipped the cord into his voluminous robes. “I’m disappointed. You got illicitly married and you didn’t even ask me to do it. I’d be offended if I weren’t so glad to see the back of that rascal Ainmire.”
He raised their clasped hands over his head and turned to the crowd.
“May the cord that binds these souls never chafe, and may their love burn ever bright as the seven suns of Palafinia. Let their only wishes be those of the heart. I now pronounce you husband and wife until the end of time.”
A blue glow burst from the royal couple and out through the crowd like a sonic boom. They began to cheer, throwing hats and headdresses into the air. And someone threw a shirt. Then someone threw shoes, and a dress, and another shirt, and...
Delphie gaped as the djinn in the audience started ripping off their clothes and chasing each other around like satyrs. Giggles, cries and excited screams filled the air as Aurora and Stridemire watched their subjects with indulgent smiles.
Delphie liked an orgy as much as the next pixie—when she was single, that is—but a djinn orgy seemed like it would have certain wish compelling consequences.
“Oh, don’t look like that.” Dash’s hand dropped lower, to cup her rear. “The wedding of a royal couple gives the joining clans a certain...temporary immunity. Wouldn’t you jump the closest guy you saw if you’d been celibate for years?”
“No,” Delphie said, leading her sexy new husband to a more private location. “As long as we’re still married, I would only jump you.”
THE END...FOR NOW.
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://www.meankitty.com
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Round Robin: The Final, Mindboggling Chapter
Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
About us: I'm the world famous Meankitty who lives with Typing Slave (Jody Wallace), Food Slave, Pink Thing, Loud Thing, and Big D (another cat). Typing Slave is a published author who's supposed to be at my beck and meow, but instead she sits in front of the computer muttering to herself. This is our shared blog to discuss her career and the mean things I do to her to maintain my status in the SOHC (Society of House Cats) as well as assorted musings and felinious advice.