Divide By Dragon
They herd us out like elephants. I try to ask questions, but the janitor won’t reply. What has happened with Gomagog?I can’t imagine him dying, but on other hand– someone is dead. As soon as we’re out of the Athenaum proper, the headspeakers mounted in each direction blare: “There has been a murder. We’re evacuating the school.”
We get it! Specifics someone?!
And outside? Outside is chaos. Despite the fact that the clock is almost ten, the fog still covers Ochre and Hermannstadt. Someone in the Drama-class cries out and points to the right. A black light burns beckoning from a tree. “If you see a Fell light,
followed by the bright white,
followed by a blight.
Then run away
run away“, someone rhymes in a musing voice. I ignore them. Drama-queens.
I open my mouth and try to get a bearing on that scent. I try–
— and fail this time. I get nothing. How? That scent is unmistakeable, a dead body moving again, a violation walking. I grit my teeth in frustration. Several cars swerve to an halt next to Ochre: five of them in the blue and yellow of the police, and one in the yellow and dark-green of an ambulance. Claire and Anders get out together: two sides of the same coin. They immediately start to shout orders to direct what has to be the search for the killer. And who exactly is dead?
They wouldn’t bring an ambulance for a dead person, right? What if he is dead? And I could’ve prevented it?
Isocrates and the janitor lead us to the bicycle-stalls. “Listen up. You get out of here, and you don’t come back, not til Monday.” Isocrates looks at each of us for a second. “I do not joke here. There is a murderer at large, who has killed twice now. Don’t think he won’t do it again.”
“But who is dead?”, I ask, needing to know the answer. “I don’t know”, Isocrates lies. I can smell the subterfuge, sweet like sugar on him. “The school will forward an answer when they know”, he says in a dismissive voice.
I am about to leave when I hear a hoarse shout, and they wheel Gomagog out on a stretcher. It looks as if he is clutching his left shoulder. So there is one person dead, and Gomagog is injured? Insensitive as it might seem, but if Gomagog is anything like me, then he’ll heal. I think. I hope. Probably.
I get up on my bike and cross the Crimson Bridge. Stupid adults.Midway I stop and take out my phone. The clock is 9:55. If I know Elena, and I do know Elena, she is preparing, fixing her hair, oblivious to what has happened.
I call her. “Heey Rune. Sup?” “School is canceled. Somebody is dead. Coach is hurt. Can I come?” “Wait, what?!” “I had a Drama-class. Then the janitor came in, telling us that someone had died– I don’t know who, they won’t tell us. They ushered us out. They’re taking Gomagog away, I don’t know who injured him, and I don’t know why. You said that you wanted to hang out?”
There is a pause at her end. I think I’ve surprised her. How novel. “Yeah sure. Have you told the rest of the class that school is canceled?” “No, how would I?” “I’ll do that. But sure, come over.” “See ya.” I end the call.
For some reason, I feel like there is something I am forgetting. I have this habit of forgetting important things, things that will come back and bite me in the ass later on. I look down on the Crimson Bridge, and Hermannstadt… Hermann?!
I quickly dial my home-number. “This is Mr Schwartz.” “It’s me, Rune.” “Hmm. You never call. In fact, you have never called. Ever. So what’s wrong?” I tell him. “Rune Fallowfell, you get back here right this second!” “Erhm, I’d thought I’d hang out at the Orchard, with Elena.”
” Sven-Erik’s Stones. Yes, that might work.” “Who what?” ” You haven’t been to the Orchard since you bonded with Verde, right?” “Nope, why?” I can actually hear the smile in his voice. ” Let’s just say that you’re in for a surprise. Be home by ten.”
“Eleven.” ” Ten-thirty.” ” Eleven-thirty.” He sighs. “Eleven-thirty it is.” “I have one question though… Will Gomagog heal?” Hermann starts to laugh. And laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“Let’s just say that Gomagog has been hurt by things that have poisons that makes that of the barrowman taste like milk. And Rune?” “Yeah?” “Stay safe. I don’t care what Greyscale has said to you, or what he is trying to teach you. Gomagog has fought warriors since Jesus was but a tinkle in the eyes of the Almighty. To think that he been injured….Running is the better part of valor.” “I won’t forget it.”
I jump on my bike and make my way to Elena’s ancestral home.
The Fallowfells, my family, gave up any trappings of power a long time ago. But not all of the Founding Families did. The Havenius ancestral home, the Orchard, is built on a site that used to host a house with a roof of straw, which in turn used to host a hut. It’s that old.
But the first detail that strikes me as I race down the gravel-road is the force-field. Like something out of Star Trek, concave, surrounding the familiar house. The field extends maybe a hundred meters around the house in all directions and is a milky white in color.
I stop just in time before I touch it. A field is meant stop something. I could not see this field as a human, only as a berserker, which means that it is meant stop something supernatural. Probably. I drop my bicycle on the ground and reach for a wooden stick. I tap it against the field. Nothing. Hmm.
I extend my pinky with the rationale that if the field is going destroy my finger, then atleast it’s one I can live without. I touch the field and it feels like someone is running a mild electrical current through my body. Vaguely unsettling, but not lethal. I grab my bike and walk through the grassy plains that surround the Orchard. I want to know where the field originates from.
Walking right, the field grows thinner and thinner, until I reach one of the Rune Stones. The field is anchored, or perhaps interwoven into one of the Stones. Which raises all kinds of interesting questions. The two Stones that surround the Orchard were raised, supposedly, by Thane Sven-Erik Havenius himself, at the founding of Fallowfell.
I trudge up to the entrance of the Orchard. Did the Founders know magic? And there is the issue of when Fallowfell was founded. All the books agree that Fallowfell was founded by the Seven Families. But the date of the founding– that’s when the books disagree. Some say the year 503, other 710. Each account seems to contradict itself.
I knock on the door. An older copy of Elena opens it. I step in–
— and she lifts me up in a hug. Normally, this is where I would kick myself free, but this woman is an special exception to the rule. “Look how tall you’ve become Runey! I swear, it feels like it was yesterday you ate a full cake of marzipan and you vomited all over Elena.”
I sigh. “Must you constantly remind me about that?” Aquamarine eyes roll at my comment. “Always. She is in the atrium. Have fun.” I nod. “See you later, Miss Havenius.” “Are you ever going to call me Julia?”, she shouts on her way out.
“Never”, I shout back.
I walk up a wooden stairway like something out of a movie featuring Scarlett O’Hara, I turn left, then right, then up, then left again, and then inside an old atrium. The room is furnished with a couple of loveseats, a big screen and the ceiling is made out of glass.
In one of the loveseats Elena sit. She is furiously typing away at a laptop. “What you’re doing?” “I am making a Facebook group for our class. Really, you have no idea what a hassle it is to call every single person and tell them that school is canceled. I am trying to find something on the school’s website regarding what has happened, but all they have released is a bulletin saying that somebody is dead, and that they’re not at liberty to tell who.” She motions to a radio. “I have even tried, and failed, at finding the police’s channel.”
My phone chimes. “And that would be your Facebook- invitation. Accept it or…. else?” “Else what?”
Elena shuts down her computer and launches herself at me. “Ah no, no Elena. No! Agh! Not there. You know how I am ticklish.” I hold up my hands across my chest in a universal gesture for defense. She lies next to me, her head held in one hand. “Nevena huh.” “Nevena indeed.” “You sly dog, you. Before we started the gymnasium, you were all melancholic and ‘nobody will ever love me’, and you now you’ve got three people in just our class that likes you.”
“First; I don’t know if she likes me. And what do you mean with three people?” “Well, it appears that Nevena is not the only one that can be counted among your admirers.” “Who?”, I demand. “Shirin and Kai.” I stare at her. “You must be wrong.” But as I say it…
I think of all the times Shirin has stared at me. During the dinner at Charlie’s, where we all presented each other, she would give me these covert looks, come to think of it. And just now, during our Drama-class, didn’t she look at me before starting her improvisation?
And Kai… when were at Pontus’ house, and we talked about who we liked, he looked at me before we were interupted by the delivery…. “You might be right.” I look her in the face, confounded. “But why? I mean, I am not ugly, but I have an eye-patch that makes me look like a comic-character, half of the time I pretend that I am alright, that I know what I am doing or saying when I really don’t and why are you laughing at me?!”
Elena shakes her head. “You don’t get it, do you?” “No, so tell me what.” “They like you, well, partially because you do look kinda fine. But the bigger reason is because you’re you. Because even with your antics, and that fucking seat you can’t give up, you’re honest, you’re kind and let’s face it, you’re kinda innocent.”
I turn away. “Geez, Elena, what the hell! You’re making me blush.” She shrugs. “It’s the truth, and nothing but the truth. Ouch, don’t hit me.”
I glance up, at the transparent ceiling. She called me honest. But if she knew what I am, what the world’s really like… I accidentally touch the necklace.
/Don’t./ What? /I know what you’re thinking. You think that if you tell her… that she will understand. But she won’t./ How do you know?
Verde sends me several pictures.
One of a group of farmers, wielding pitchforks, hunting a smaller red wyrm in what looks to be some kind of lowland. It screams and a larger wyrm of the same color lands behind it, incinerating the mob with a fiery breath. The next picture is of a large serpent with two hands and wings, a serpent with white feathers. That serpent slithers up a step-pyramid, singing in a mournful tune as conquistadors hoot and laugh in pursuit behind it. The feathered serpent takes to the sky, and as it looks down, it spots a hummingbird the size of a airplane being shot down. A third picture of eggs, broken, and a city which looks Roman with white pillars and ancient boats moored to a pier– a city now burning as a volcano spews lava behind it. The volcano cracks at the top as a black wyrm climbs out, one that makes Verde look like a small kitten.
What are these pictures? /Memories. Greyscale’s memories. Memories of when humans and us supernaturals have tried to coexist.Beware the treachery of man, Rune. It knows no bounds./
“Rune?” I blink. “Yeah I zoned out a bit. What were you asking me?” “Which movie we should watch?”
“Let’s go with the one with about superheroes in 1985….”