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part five.

The Castle

“We’re not creating any new spells today,” Zed, the patron deity of Brazil, confirmed as he ran his finger down the document he had conjured up a moment before. “We’re just going to strengthen the ones Aura put in place when she created Shaman.”

He glanced up and turned his dark eyes to rest of the room’s occupants in turn. Once Arthur had given the go-ahead, Zed had sent word to the other originals to come immediately, and had teleported across Shaman to retrieve the pantheon inhabitants. Rhaegar, the patron deity of Scandinavia; Xephyr, the forgotten deity of a land long gone; and Charlton, the patron deity of the United States of America, were all stood around the table, along with the King and Prince of Shaman. Charlton had been the first to arrive on the scene once Zed had sent the summons, and his tight-lipped, grim smile indicated his understanding of the seriousness of the situation. Xephyr stood slightly apart from the others, his face unreadable, and Rhaegar was sporting his usual scowl.

After reassuring him that his employer was not gone forever, Zed had quizzed Chen for everything he knew on what had happened with the ancient creature, but turned up disappointingly few details. Fear of the creature’s power over the spoken word had prevented Tsi from saying much on the subject, evidently. Once he had determined all he could from the scribe, Zed had conjured documents from the Divine Scribe archives containing complex spells originally co-penned by Aura and Khasekhemwy, written on delicate papyrus in the ancient language. None of the other deities questioned his authority. When the Chairman was missing in action, it was customary for the council members to gather and draw the name of the deputy. Each Chairman wrote the name of their deputy on a piece of paper and placed it in a secure box, revealing the identity to no one, so that in a time of crisis the name could be drawn and an Acting Chairman appointed. Although no one ever knew the identity of the deputy until the name was drawn, it was widely assumed that Tsi would have elected Zed, his closest and most responsible friend, to the difficult role. Drawing the name would just be a time-wasting formality at this point.

Zed had just opened his mouth to speak when the doors burst open and a thin, hunched figure scurried in, wringing his hands nervously. Khasekhemwy, the patron deity of Palestine, scuttled over to the table with surprising speed for someone who spent most of his day sat behind a desk, and tried to find the least frightening place to stand. He originally took up a place next to Zed, but upon realising that he was standing opposite Rhaegar skirted very quickly around until he was next to Arthur.

“Khasekhemwy, I’m glad you’re here,” Zed greeted him in the warmest tone possible under the circumstances. “I believe what we need is for you and – ”

He was interrupted by the sound of general commotion outside, followed by a loud BANG. All eyes turned to the door, and Arthur frowned. Charlton coughed.

“Now, Zed,” he smiled, his eyes glinting with amusement. “You did remember to schedule the summons so that Mallos and Allianah wouldn’t arrive at the same time, didn’t you?”

There was just enough time for a look of guilty realisation to pass across the Brazilian’s face, when the doors burst open a second time and Mallos, the patron deity of Spain, strolled in. He looked as he always did, dressed all in black with a difficult-to-read expression, but with one crucial difference: his right arm just below the elbow had been sliced clean off. The missing arm was quickly located in his other hand, where he was gripping it by the wrist. If he had hoped for sympathy, he was disappointed: only Arthur looked concerned. Zed’s lips had set grimly, Rhaegar only glowered and Tristan’s eyebrows disappeared under his hairline.

“She cut my hand off,” Mallos said to Zed in a distinctly miffed tone which didn’t quite match the smug expression playing at the corners of his lips. “That was my favourite hand, too.”

“Where is Allianah?” Zed asked, a slight frown creasing on his brow as he glanced back at the door. Mallos scratched his chin with the dismembered hand.

“Well actually, I think I was lucky.” He conceded. “I think she was aiming for my – ”

“Mallos!” Zed rumbled in an uncharacteristically sharp voice. “Where is Allianah?”

Without a word, the Spaniard thrust his hand at Khasekhemwy – who looked like he was about to faint on the spot – reached into his pocket and pulled out a teacup. It was pretty teacup, white china with a dainty pink floral pattern around the edge, like the sort one might find at an upper class lady’s tea party. The implication, and the insult, were clear. Allianah, the patron deity of Nubia and a renowned radical feminist, took incredible offence to expressions of stereotyped femininity.

“She volunteered to help me practice locking spells,” Mallos replied innocently over Rhaegar’s furious growls.

It was certainly an impressive feat. Divinity was theoretically equal in all deities, and the only variants were talent and practice. For one deity to lock another inside an inanimate object without them being able to escape must have taken enormous skill and effort. It was typical of Mallos to apply that talent to petty attempts to irritate the other originals, instead of helping solve the big crises. With a stern instruction from Zed, he obliged in releasing the spell and instantly hopped back from the table as the teacup transformed into the tall and imposing woman. The atmosphere of the room altered instantly, and the rage seemed to radiate off her like a beacon of anger. Apparently not noticing the rest of the room, she leapt off the table and started towards her offender, but was stopped in her tracks when Zed placed a calming hand on her shoulder. She threw the dirtiest look she could muster at Mallos, who smiled pleasantly back, and turned her back on him so that she was facing the rest of the group. The Spaniard shot the King a gleeful look, who returned it with a pointed one of his own at the trail of blood which had been left across the hall. The deity clicked the fingers of his still-attached hand and the blood vanished as though it had never been there.

“As I was saying,” Zed continued, carefully positioning himself between Allianah and Mallos while the latter started screwing his arm back on. Once the arm was lined up correctly, a bead of warm yellow magic ran around the wound and healed it completely, leaving not even a scar. He flexed his fingers and waggled them at Rhaegar, who clenched his into fists. Zed shot him a warning look. “This is the spell we’re using, so take a moment to study it if you’re not familiar already. Remember: we’re strengthening the enchantments already in place, not creating new ones, and we’re doing it collectively. We’ll form a collective consciousness outside and everyone will throw everything they’ve got into it, except Mallos and Khasekhemwy, who will work on precision and focusing the spell. Everyone understand?”

Only Charlton and Khasekhemwy nodded, but as there were no questions Zed took that to mean yes. He rolled up the papyrus and started towards the door, followed by the unenthusiastic party. The sooner this was over with, the better.

    • part six. -
    • part seven. -

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