Henry and the Falling Vernia!
by Michael Brewer
In this pulp style story, the Sindran Loreseeker Sir Henry and his magical girl assistant have been captured by a Kovali Sorceress who plans to crash a Vernia into Sevenroad! Can they stop her?
When last we left our heroes, Sir Henry Covenant and his assistant Magical Star Platinum, they had been investigating the secret Kovali base, where they were ambushed!
Magical Star Platinum regained consciousness slowly. Hmmm... wha... Where.... Oh no! They must have gotten me! I hope Sir Henry got away. ...Where am I anyway? It feels like we're moving... but... is this stone?
She opened her eyes slightly and looked down at herself. No visible restraints, but she still couldn't move. Someone must have used a restraint spell on me. Maybe I'll be able to distract them enough to get them to release it? She continued assessing her surroundings. Whoever it was must have taken her to a high mountain somewhere, because all she could see were clouds and scrub and bare rock.
...And the evil Countess Nyx Noctis and her goons! And a bunch of ritual paraphernalia! So, it was her lab we found. They must be planning another evil ritual! Well, I'll just take care of this! "mmph" ...Of course she gagged me, I used my Voice of Friendship on her the last time we fought. And she's taken my wand. This could be bad...
"...So, it was your lab we discovered. That explains a few things." Sir Henry! Oh no! He's been captured too?!? Star looked around again and this time she spotted him, sitting up a little ways away, near the Countess, presumably magically restrained just like Star. Somehow the Loreseeker Knight still managed to look dignified and unruffled, despite the grim situation and loss of his hat. "So, why did you bring us here instead of simply killing us?"
"Ohohohoho!" The traditional Kovali villain laugh never failed to grate on Star's ears. "After you had gone to so much trouble trying to find out what I was up to, I could hardly fail to let you down, could I, Dear Henry?" The Countess laughed again for a moment, before giving an icy glance to her goons. "...That was a joke you morons! Laugh!" The goons looked at each other before giving mild laughs. The Countess simply sighed. "...I am surrounded by idiots. Still at least you must have figured out what is going on, Dear Henry? After all, you were in my lab for over five minutes." She sneered at Sir Henry, daring him to fail.
"Well, aside from the fact that you've deprived me of my enhancement scrolls, my assistant of her wand and voice, and brought us up to one of the Vernia ...probably Limne unless I'm very much mistaken... I really don't have any idea what you're up to." Oh, one of the flying islands. That's why it feels like we're moving!
With a triumphant grin on her face, the Countess said "Ha! I've brought you to Limne to witness the destruction of your pitiful nation! Once our ritual is complete, we shall destroy the city of Sevenroad and demand that Sindra surrender to the Kovali Empire! I brought you here to join in their demise!" Sir Henry looked confused, though Star guessed he was probably stalling for time. "Even if you did throw fireballs or other attack spells from up here, Sevenroad is well defended. Why would you think you could break through the barriers now?"
The Countess gave an evil smirk. "Because we're going to drop Limne on it!" "What! But the vernia have been flying over Uresia since time immemorial! Not even our best wizards have figured out how to change their directions, let alone how to stop them from flying!" "Which only proves what I've long suspected, that even the vaunted Sindran magical academies can't hold a candle to Koval's magical might! Now watch as I destroy your pitiful city!"
The Countess stepped into her magical circle and started intoning the spell. Sir Henry and Star struggled in their bonds, but could only watch in horror as the Countess's chanting reached a crescendo. The floating rock swayed under them as she pricked her finger and dripped three drops of blood onto the stone to end the spell. "Ohohohoho! And now watch! The magics holding the stone in the air will soon unravel, and you will watch helplessly as you all plummet into your city!"
"Soon, you will all die!"
"......The Plummeting will begin any second now."
"...Maybe if you tried-" "Shut up! This will work! Just you wait! I had enough magical power to confine you both, I can do this too!"
".........Fall you stupid rock!" The Countess stamps hard on the stone a few times before slumping slightly. And then a gleam comes into her eye. "...Wait. You figured something out, didn't you? You saw my research and watched me cast the spell. You know what I ...miscalculated."
"Even if I did, you could hardly expect me to tell you and help you destroy a city." "Oh I don't know. I think you might agree ...to save the life of your precious assistant!" Star suddenly found herself yanked into the air and pulled towards the two of them. She let out an involuntary "mmph!" as the restraining spell started squeezing her!
"......Stop!" "Why should I? If I can't take over Sindra in the name of Koval, I can at least rid myself of you meddling adventurers." "I'll ...do it! Just Stop!" Star's eyes filled with tears as she saw Sir Henry slump, giving up in the face of the Countess's torture. "Excellent. Now. Tell me how to control the Vernia."
"First, I'll need you to place my hat back upon my head." "Your hat?" The Countess sounded very suspicious. "Yes. It has a mental enhancement scroll woven into it. I'll need to be much more intelligent to properly appreciate your complex ritual." "Naturally you will." And, with the Countess mollified, she floats his hat over to land on his head, where it glows for a few moments, before fading.
Sir Henry concentrates visibly for a few moments and then starts rattling off complex magical formula and instructions to the Countess. "Hmmm... Oh...Oh, yes, I see. That could work!" And she starts redrawing the circle while telling the goons to go grab more supplies from the balloon. Star looks on helplessly. No, Sir Henry. You can't let her do this just to save me, especially when she won't even keep her promise...
All too soon, the preparations are complete. The Countess looks smug as she starts casting her new and improved ritual, intoning a new and much longer spell. As she watches the Countess chanting with a hopeless look on her face, Star feels the binding spell around her shift slightly. Eh? What's going on? Why is she letting me go? Star looked more closely at the Countess and noticed that her face was paler than usual, then she glanced over at Sir Henry, who winked at her.
...He tricked her into casting a ritual that needed so much power that she wouldn't be able to hold us. Heh, I should have known he'd never really give in like that. Star smiled at him as she felt the last vestiges of the confining spell fall away, then called to one of the goons "Oh, sir, could you help me with something please? I seem to have dropped my wand. Would you please go get it for me, friend?" She batted her eyes at the goon, which wasn't strictly necessary for her Voice of Friendship spell, but it did help somewhat. The other two goons, noticing the situation started to come after her ...which meant that Sir Henry got the drop on them. Soon they had all three of the goons restrained with some of Star's ribbons.
Which left only the Countess, who was still lost in casting her ritual. She looked almost ready to pass out, with only the magic sustaining her. "I say we let her keep casting until she kills herself." "Star, remember. No unneedful deaths. Besides, she might manage to complete the ritual and, with that much magic behind it, something is bound to happen." "....So, how do we stop it without releasing all the magic?" "Well, I did slip in a few key phrases, which will harmlessly-" "Ok, got it Sir, but you should use them now, unless you actually do want her to die." "...Ah, Right."
Sir Henry quickly shouted "Treguna, Makoidees, Trecorum, Sadis Dee" and the Countess slumped over clearly exhausted, while the circle stopped glowing. "Perfect sir. I'll have her tied up in just a second and then we can use their balloon to get dow-"
The Vernia shook under them, and then started to move upwards. "...what? Sir Henry, what did you do?!?" "...Facinating. Apparently releasing the extra magical energy into the surroundings enhanced the Vernia's magic. It's ascending. ...Quite rapidly it would seem."
"We're shooting up into the stars!?!"
Oh no! Is this the end for our heroes?!? Can they stop the Vernia from leaving the planet? Can they keep the Countess from escaping? What about the passing star ship? For answers to all this and more, tune in next week for...
Sir Henry and the Shooting Stars!