Beautiful Chaos: Part Twelve
Opening his eyes, Cedrik the Draik realised he was in a room that was on fire, and it took a minute before the panic set in.
He was lying on the floor, with every bone in his body aching and his head thundering. Dazedly, he tried to sit up and look around the room.
And then the panic hit him.
Ignoring the searing pain in his head, he leapt to his feet and covered his mouth as thick black smoke engulfed him.
A short distance away Leo was lying on the ground, and he looked like he was stirring slightly. A little Grarrl that Cedrik vaguely recognised was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed, clutching a wand.
Cogs turning, Cedrik reached down to grab the wand, tapping the Grarrl's head lightly with his finger. He did not stir.
Turning around, he pointed the wand he recognised as Leo's at some of the flames and sent a jet of water towards them. They hissed and flickered, but continued to grow.
"Leo!" he yelled over his shoulder, coughing as more smoke swirled around his face. "Leo, wake up!"
The Lupe mumbled something incoherent as he opened his eyes and dragged himself up into a sitting position.
"Whatwherewhy?" he grunted before noticing that the room was on fire. Yelping, he scrambled to his feet and over to his friend. On the desk a glass container exploded with a loud bang and the walls quivered.
"This cave is going... to collapse..." Cedrik wheezed, handing him his wand back. "But there's nothing... flammable... outside this room. If we let it burn... it should... burn out."
Nodding, Leo shoved his wand in his back pocket and pointed at Griffin. Wordlessly they each hooked an arm around his waist and hoisted him up on his feet.
"Thank... Fyora... he's so... small."
They dragged him out of the room as various objects exploded in balls of fire around them, and the flames licked at the rocky walls.
Leo felt tears streaming from his eyes and Cedrik felt the heat singeing his nose as he breathed in, but they kept moving through the cave.
In their arms, Griffin started to stir. His feet dragged uselessly and his head lolled to one side, but he tried to lift it up, his words slurring.
Concentrating on the Grarrl, Cedrik didn't look up when something cold landed on top of his head.
"Ced... you're making it snow," Leo whispered, looking up at the ceiling. Soft flakes were cascading down, swirling in the air. They floated slowly and delicately, and Leo couldn't help the laughter that was bubbling up in his stomach.
After all the stress and pain and worry and lack of sleep and everything that had happened over the last few days, he just stared up at the falling snowflakes and felt a strong surge of relief flow over his whole body, rendering him exhausted. It was over.
It was a strange feeling to be so mentally drained yet feeling his strength slowly returning to his body, his magic settling back in. He felt like he could sleep for a week.
Once they were a safe distance away from the burning room, they set Griffin down on the floor and sat down next to him, leaning against the wall of the tunnel. He curled into a ball and started snoring.
Cedrik looked at him with amusement.
"I like him," he said, his throat still raspy. "He should come back to Meridell with us."
Leo sighed and rested his head against the wall.
"Who was he, Ced?"
The Draik grunted and pulled a face.
"I don't even know. I can't remember much, but what I can remember... it's not good. Do you think they're looking for us? Kayla and Lisha?"
"Probably," Leo shrugged. "But there's nothing that would lead them here, unless they talk to Sinsi or something. Then again, all that might've been in our heads too. I don't even know what's real anymore. Is he gone? Completely?"
"Yes, I think so. I hope so."
The two friends looked down at Griffin, who had woken up again. He rolled over and looked up at them, his face streaked with dirt and ash.
"Well, good morning, sunshine," Leo said, prodding him gently with his toe. "How're you feeling?"
"Like death, but worse," he groaned, covering his face with his hands.
"See, now I get most of what happened," Cedrik began, a strange look on his face. "But what I don't get is how you stopped him. Leo was out, I was out and you were almost out. How did you fight him? He had all the power from both me and Leo."
Griffin lowered his hands and looked at them with an expression similar to the Draik's.
"I don't know... I tried to use my sword, but I was too weak. So I grabbed his wand and... I don't know. Blew up his machine, I guess."
"But you aren't a magician," Leo said, pulling out his wand and twirling it thoughtfully. "Nothing should have happened."
"That's not all," Griffin continued, looking uncomfortable. "He tried to get a memory from me; he was inside my head, but I pushed him out. Is that normal?"
Cedrik and Leo looked at each other.
"No, that's definitely not normal. You... don't make sense," Cedrik said.
"You aren't a magician," he continued. "You haven't got magic blood and you haven't learnt any wand skills or anything, let alone defence of the mind. You're an anomaly."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Griffin asked, looking unimpressed.
"I don't know, but it sounded good," Cedrik replied with a laugh. "If you come back to Meridell with us, I'm sure Kayla and Lisha can come up with something of an answer."
"Aw, I couldn't. I've lived at the Citadel my whole life; I can't just up and run to Meridell. I'll be alright here, I always am. Maybe I'll go and find that fortune teller, see what she's go to say for herself. Thanks, though."
"She was very unhelpful. Tell her that from me," Leo said with a frown. He got to his feet and stretched his back, sighing contentedly as it cracked with a satisfactory pop. "Homeward bound, then. Oh," he reached into his pocket and fished around for something. Fingers closing over it, he tossed the small gold coin that Chen had given him at the Grarrl. "Keep that. It was a gift from a nice Darigan, but I want you to have it. To remember the crazy Meridellians."
Griffin turned the coin over in his hand with a look of incredulity on his face.
"Who gave this to you?"
"A Kacheek," Leo replied with a shrug. "Why?"
"It's from the Museum. It was from Lord Kass's collection while he was in reign, after he was defeated the coins were on display. This one's been missing for years; it was presumed lost during the War."
Leo's eyebrows shot up as Cedrik looked between them, confused.
"Well, you can tell that fortune teller," Leo said with a smirk, "that she can expect another visit from me in the near future."
"Hey, try something for me, will you?" Cedrik asked him randomly, thrusting his wand at him. "My curiosity will eat me alive if I don't ask. Just try a simple spell."
Griffin took the wand and frowned at it.
"I don't know any spells."
"Most aren't verbal, try thinking of one. Try this," Leo gave him a basic water spell and the Grarrl screwed up his eyes in concentration.
A minute passed, and nothing happened.
"Whoa, you might pull something," Cedrik said with alarm as Griffin's face turned an odd shade of purple.
He let out a great whooping breath and handed the wand back.
"It's no use," he panted. "I'm not a magician. I don't know what happened in that room, but it's not happening here."
"Maybe it was the room," the Draik mused thoughtfully. "He had put up so many spells and wards; the whole place was humming with power. Maybe it found some dormant magic in you and briefly let it come out. How fascinating..."
"Oh, now he'll want to write all this down and study it for three years," Leo groaned, looking pained. "And he'll want me to help. Ugh, maybe I'll stay here at the Citadel with you."
Cedrik rolled his eyes at his friend.
"I can see where I'm not appreciated. Kayla will care, even if you don't. Still, we'd better get going. We've been gone for way too long, and it's a big journey ahead. Let's hope this one is less eventful."
"I'm coming with you," Griffin said, and looked like he was trying to fight a smirk."You two are hopeless. You'll never get through that Forest again. Now we know how you got through it the first time, I know you won't be as lucky this time, without a higher power making sure you got here in one piece. So, I'm coming with you. And you still owe me a new sword."
Cedrik and Leo exchanged a glance before grinning at the Grarrl.
"Sure it's not just 'cause you like us so much?"
"No chance," he snorted. "You two are crazy. C'mon. To new beginnings."
"New beginnings," Leo echoed, smiling at Cedrik. "Try and stick with us this time, eh?"
The Draik grinned back and punched him lightly in the shoulder.
"To new beginnings, the long road ahead, and all the beautiful chaos that's sure to follow."