This week marks the second of my WeSeWriMo (Web Serial Writing Month) posts. If I'm to meet my goal, August's #FridayFlashes will all have a UCF flavour with, all being well, something a little unusual, at least for me, coming up towards the end of the month.
Aftermath is the eighteenth installment in my on-going flash fiction serial, The UCF Stories. If you'd like to read the story from the beginning, please go here.
Following the fairy attack, Swazzle and Botchett mourn Pogmorton's demise.
'Wait!' Aveena knelt beside Pogmorton's body and stared intently at it for a moment. She saw a swelling blue aura begin to blossom from Pogmorton's mouth.
'There's still a chance. The spirit has not yet left the body.' Golden ink flowed into Aveena's right hand, solidifying into a finely wrought torc, which she passed quickly to Botchett. 'Slip this around his neck. Quickly.'
Botchett did as he was bid, and Aveena noticed with satisfaction Pogmorton's aura start to drift back into his body.
'Is that it? Will he be all right?' Swazzle asked in a small voice.
'Not yet,' replied Aveena, 'That was just the first stage of a long and dangerous process. I'm not even sure it will work, but it's the only chance he's got.'
'What happens next, bonny lass?' Botchett couldn't see any change in Pogmorton's condition.
'I need somewhere safe to keep him,' said Aveena, 'While I do some research.' She cast her eyes over the assembled company and sighed. 'There's only one thing for it.'
Aveena stood and began unbuttoning her jeans. She pushed them down to her ankles and hunkered down next to Pogmorton again. Rev Beresford tried not to look, and failed.
Aveena took hold of Pogmorton gently under his arms. 'Give me a hand there, Master Gnome,' and with Botchett's help she managed to position Pogmorton over her right thigh.
'Now back off a bit, I'm not sure how well this is going to work.' Botchett took Swazzle by the shoulders and the pair stepped back, watching in fascination as Aveena began to chant quietly.
Rev Bereford, his face somewhat flushed, dabbed at his brow with a large white handkerchief, never once taking his eyes off Aveena.
After a few moments Aveena's chanting grew louder, her face contorted in a grimace of pain. As Botchett and Swazzle watched, Pogmorton's body seemed to dissolve and sank into Aveena's thigh. With a final repetition of the chant, which ended in a blood curdling scream, Pogmorton disappeared beneath Aveena's skin, leaving behind a perfect picture of himself, complete in every detail.
After a few moments Aveena struggled painfully to her feet. 'By the gods, but that smarts a bit, so.'
'That's one heck of a trick, like' marvelled Botchett. 'Is that how your other tattoos were done, bonny lass?'
'Oh no, Master Gnome,' Aveena smiled, 'My other pictures are something quite different. What I've done with, err...'
Aveena nodded. 'What I've done with Pogmorton is another thing entirely, and it's only temporary. I've no idea how long it'll last, so if you'll excuse me, I'm after sticking my nose in a few of Simeon's books. Master Gnome, would you be so kind as to collect up as much of Pogmorton's blood as you can, and that puddle of fairy blood? Make sure the two don't mix, mind.'
Botchett did as he was asked.
Once the blood had been gathered, Aveena picked up her sword and without a word to Rev Beresford swept from the room, closely followed by Swazzle and Botchett.
Simeon groaned and sat up slowly rubbing his head. 'There were fairies,' he mumbled.
* * *
For the next two days Goddess Rising looked like an explosion in a library. Botchett and Swazzle rushed this way and that, collecting and returning one obscure tome after another while Aveena sat, cross legged in the middle of the shop table with piles of open books and notes scattered all about her, moving only to stretch her aching muscles or answer the call of nature brought about by Simeon's endless cups of tea. Simeon himself seemed positively eager to help, even if his sole contribution was, at Aveena's insistence, to keep out of the way and make tea.
In the early hours of the morning of the third day, Aveena suddenly sat bolt upright.
'Aha!' she crowed, 'I've got it.'
'Got what?' mumbled Swazzle who had fallen asleep through sheer exhaustion atop a nearby bookcase.
'I've got it,' Aveena repeated, 'I think I know how to help Pogmorton.'
Swazzle was wide awake in an instant, looking expectantly at her.
'I said, I “think” I know what to do, there are no guarantees, but it's the best chance he's got. Where is Master Botchett, I'm going to need the both of you to help with this.'
'Botchett!' roared Swazzle.
Botchett's head appeared around the kitchen door. 'What, bonny lad?'
'Aveena's on to something, and she needs our help.'
Once Aveena had run through what would be required, Botchett thought for a while. 'The blood we've got, the herbs are easy enough to find, and I'm sure Master Swazzle will be able to locate whatever you need from the Other Realm.'
He paused and rubbed his beard, 'The amulet's the thing that's going to cause the most problems. They're very hard to come by, like. There's only one thing for it, we will have to pay a visit to Lady Mandrake.'
Botchett shuddered at the very prospect.