My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter Nine–I Charge One Village An Hour for Babysitting–Edit #3

I decided to do what I’d planned: stop the wars. To do this, I decided I had to negotiate. I dragged Kaye and Li along.

I picked out a leader, a “permanent president,” standing at the very edge of the battlefield on the Kliid side and supervising.

“Call off the war,” I shouted over the thwap of arrows and clang of swords.

I was rewarded by chortling laughter. “Go home, girl.”

“I happen to be the new leader of this tribe,” I shouted. “I govern the entire village. Face it, buddy, I’m at your status. Call off the war or I destroy your people. I am a Star Anoki!

The warriors stopped. We were rushed by arrows, swords, even just thrown rocks. I shielded my tiny group.

“Nice to hear that. So am I.”

My turn to giggle. “As if! Star magic is too rare.”

“I learned your little flight trick and found the magic months ago.”

“I bet you don’t know how to use it. Call off the war or I’ll destroy you now!” I was starting to feel queasy from panic and looking down in flight. I wasn’t scared of heights, but I was getting really disoriented.

“No.”

I threw a fireball at him. He shielded. “Overused!” he taunted. I flooded his immediate area, but he used Air magic to keep breathing. I had the trees nearby uproot themselves and choke him, passing him from branch to branch until he was at eye level. I kicked his nose, hard, and blood squirted out. He started cutting through the branches, but I just told the tree to drop him anyway, maybe 100 feet to the floor. I sent another fireball just as he was snapping his wings out, and he couldn’t shield well.

“Your toupee’s on fire.”

I saw that his eyes were dark; I couldn’t tell where the pupils ended and the irises began. Which told me something: he’d been taken over. I shot him; he healed himself and yanked the arrow out. Wrong order! He kept bleeding.

I realized something more, and grinned. When he’d reached the bottom, I twisted his arm, shin-kicked you know where, and applied a fist to his temples hard enough to make him black out on the ground. What had I realized? Magic didn’t mean he was physically strong.

“Are you going to kill him?” Li asked.

“No. I’m taking him prisoner.” I picked up the scrawny person, who looked like he was in his early twenties, and flew him off to the Zepha dungeon. I waited until he’d woken up, but I kept my shields. I let Kaye and Li leave.

“You have three options,” I said casually. “You can sit here the rest of your life. You can ally with the Zephans, call off the war, and I’ll let you go. Or I can destroy your guts. Pick.”

He fired spell after spell at me, but I made up a spell to prevent him doing magic for the next hundred years. I was hoping that the spell would outlive him, but Anoki life span might prevent that. Oh well. I’d deal with him.

“Release me. I’ll fight you, if you aren’t too chicken.”

“I’m supposed to be the immature one, remember? I’m… um, thirteen, I think. Now I gave you options. You can sit here the rest of your life. I won’t hesitate.”

His eyes narrowed.

“And if you think that’s too good for you, I can cut off all food supply. Put you in a cell made entirely of metal. Maybe a sealed cell, so you can suffocate instead of starving. And I’ll put Fire magic on it so you can’t melt the bars. I’m sure you’d love that. You can go crazy in there. I’ll even supply Sharpies for you to doodle Kill-Amanda pictures on the walls. Unless you want to go for the cliché and use your own blood. I’ll give you some oatmeal paper if you want to do that.” I smiled.

“You do realize that the more you threaten me, the less I want to negotiate.”

“Hey, me too. I’m getting some good ideas, and they’d be a heck of a lot easier than dealing with you. Destroying your guts has its appeal, too.”

I don’t think he minded the threats, but my being young and female was definitely taking its toll.

“Do you want an Etch-A-Sketch?” I said, smiling more.

“Shut up!”

I grinned. “You are the immature one. Maybe I should just keep you by my side. You make me look older.” Okay, yes, I’m mean.

“I killed the elders of this village to free it. Why don’t I free yours now?” I said, pacing back and forth in front of his cell. I was feeding the flames, waiting to see what he was really prepared to do.

“Yes, why don’t you? You haven’t killed me yet. You’re too soft.”

“Do you really want my response to that?”

“I won’t negotiate. You’ve killed all my generals, and I’ve had to replace my best fighters.”

“Uh, that’s because you killed my generals and my best fighters?” I said in a “duh” tone.

“This anti-magic curse is taking your energy. I feel it. You can’t kill me.”

“I have a fifty-pound bow right here. Do you want to test that?”

“I have my own weapons.”

“Are they as fast as a bow?” I queried.

“You don’t want to kill me. You don’t want the village. That’s why you’re not hurting me.”

“Amazing, genius! He can read minds.” I clapped slowly in that “bored” way.

The kid fumed. I wasn’t sure why he wasn’t acting like the Darkness Anoki did when they got possessed by bad magic. Maybe the Light area was affecting him. When someone takes too much magic all in one go, a part of them that normally takes backstage comes forth and houses the extra magic. That part of them becomes full of magic, and since it wasn’t full of the person, it has the most magic in it. The person is locked into their normal personality, which now takes backstage to the other part, and the magic becomes sort of the dominant force. It kind of depends what the person was like and what kind of magic took over to know how they’ll start acting over being possessed. It’s complicated. I wondered if there was a way to un-possess someone, if you’re a Star Anoki.

I made up a spell to do so, hoping not to remove all the magic. The kid ruler dropped to the floor. I picked him up, skinny thing, and carted him out to somewhere else in the forest, a long way away. Using some Dream magic, I convinced him that he was an elf who thought he was too good to hang around Anoki.

I set him on the forest floor, and did some basic healing magic. I removed the anti-magic curse. He smiled, and I immediately protected myself against the same spell.

“Now it’s time for me to destroy your guts,” he said. I guess my magic didn’t work.

“Yeah. Whatever. Too bad I can’t just fast-forward through this stupid fight with Time magic to the point where I’m standing over your cold, dead body.”

“That’s because it won’t happen.”

“Ooh!” I said. “I love witty banter! Can I put the poison in both cups and heal myself?”

He growled and lunged at me with a fireball.

“Overused!” I chirped. The trees sniggered. I socked his nose again (which just stopped bleeding), and it broke this time. I went in with ice shards to the neck, but it only cut away flesh.

I tried invisibility, and when he copied me, I simply did a spell to undo his. He didn’t know the spell’s motions, though, because I was invisible when I did them. I pulled out the bottle the spy, Alicia, had given me, hoping it was still water because I was really thirsty, remembering that it would be anyway because I needed it, and having it snatched away by the leader, who gulped all of its contents. Bad thing? The bottle hadn’t been invisible as I was, because I hadn’t been directly touching it when I cast the spell. Uh oh—the contents of my backpack were probably floating in space.

“No water for you, girl!” he proclaimed triumphantly.

I decided, right then and there, that what I needed was poison. I smiled. Then I wished I’d specified a fast-acting poison. Oops.

With another spell, the Kliid leader got caught up in a nasty localized tornado. It seemed to last just long enough to dislocate his shoulder. But he knew where I was now, if not by my levitating nail clippers, then by tracing the magic. I ducked to avoid a spell and fired a bunch of my own. His face had gone blank–very blank. The magic was taking over. I knew, because he’d gotten a lot better. But that meant that his melee defenses were down. I took the rabbit knife out. Grimly, I neared him fast. Better to die than be possessed.

Then he actually hit me! The dweeb! The jerk! How dare he have good aim all of a sudden! He’d hit me in the leg with a Fire spell, and it was a little too much to stop and heal, since the healing spell would take too long and give him too much opportunity. I snapped out an Air spell and bent slightly to rub my leg, but that gave him enough time that he could hit me with a Darkness spell. I dropped fast, crashing against the ground.

Whimpering pathetically, I set a healing spell before I collapsed out of physical exhaustion, which would be too degrading for me. Collapsing from magic? Sure. Collapsing because I couldn’t take a hit? Never.

But I was on the ground now, and dignity was the least of my worries. My enemy had his sword drawn and was holding it like a wand, conjuring up a certain Darkness spell. And I recognized it: it was the strongest Darkness spell of all. Though it had taken me ten times to do the spell, I could tell that he, as a possessed Anoki, was about to succeed on the first try. I could feel my own energy draining as well; the spell that was about to kill me was sapping my own energy to do so.

Then someone moved in the forest—I assumed at first that it was one of his comrades, a Kliid soldier, but it was a woman. With dark hair. And a lot of wooden beads.

She ran, fast, and leaped into the air with extra lift from these huge wings that I vaguely recognized in my state of not-quite-consciousness. She was really glittery all of a sudden, contrasting with the darkness that was falling over the forest slowly as the spell built.

Then I heard the loudest, longest stream of cuss words, a musical cacophony that put the phrase “blue streak” to shame. I learned some new ones.

With my last burst of adrenaline and wonder, I sat up to see Alicia the spy football-tackling the eighteen-year-old Kliid ruler, both swearing nonstop. A duet.

I summoned all—all—of my remaining magical strength, healed myself, and stood tall and strong. Even taller and stronger than usual. And I got out the rabbit knife.

But Alicia shook her head: it wasn’t right. She pinned the Kliid ruler down with a spell and walked toward me to hand me my sword, which I don’t want to know how she found since it was in a deserted outhouse (the sword still smelled horrible).

And I took it, approaching the Kliid ruler slowly, as if I didn’t want to disturb the leaves coating the ground, or make a disturbance in the smooth path of the wind, or anything. It was bright in the forest now that he’d been interrupted and the Darkness spell had been canceled. Leaves drifted from the tops of the tallest trees, oak leaves, orange ones. It was serene. But someone was dying.

Someone was dying; that was the fact. I started to cry, just a little. It was too nice right here for anyone to die, but I couldn’t do anything about that. Because in the moment that I was taking all this in, I also knew that I had to kill him while he was still on the ground and moaning, because he’d nearly done the same to me.

He’d done the same thing. I was doing what he had been doing. But I was the good guy… right?

People had died because of me. Kliid had died. Zephans had died. Friends had died, either defending kids that were normally my responsibility, or fighting the war in general in my absence.

But people had died for him, too.

More people.

Then I thought how many more people would have died, because of him, if I didn’t exist. And I thought how many people would die if I left him alive.

I was performing necessary actions, not enjoying a hobby, I told myself. I wasn’t happy about it. I don’t enjoy killing people. I just can. I’m just good at it. I don’t enjoy it. Really.

Thoughts raced through my mind.

Am I the villain?

NO! Um… no.

Just get it over with. You’re doubting yourself.

As respectfully as possible, I touched his shoulder with the blade of the sword, mouthed, “I’m sorry,” and prepared myself, taking aim.

I can’t!

Do it!

Now!

Go…

And I cut, with the sword, from his shoulder to his hip, in one smooth movement.

From there, I cried harder. My vision blurred. I raised the sword and shoved it up to the hilt into the soil, staining the leaves with blood. There was no keeping my composure now.

I turned to the spy lady, and demanded, “Who are you?”

“Amanda, I’m your mother.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at 8:56 pm and is filed under Star. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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