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20 November 2016 @ 08:41 am
_Smugglers' Ring_ part 6  

"One. Well, the gates are all within a two mile square. I know where the Embassy gate is, but not where we’d be coming out. It couldn't be too hard to get from one to another. Except the security cameras will see right through your invisibility spells."

"We can probably take care of that, too. Just warp light." Crimson obviously braced her shoulders. "It takes a lot of power and concentration and we can't keep it up for long. But we can do it. For a couple of miles."

Walnut nodded. "We can ride to Tannay, take the corridor to Gate Town. The gate to your Home World, and then the gate to Embassy. It's not that difficult." She reached out and waved her hand over Fean's head. "There, that'll take care of the itching. And a bunch of other spells. I can't believe you drank some of the hex."

"Idlo wasn't going to touch it, and he's the one we need to worry about. He's a very strong magician." Fean sighed over the delicate cascade of intrictely linked charms. Comet Fall Magic was so different from the One’s. Or perhaps it was just the training.

Walnut nodded. "Depending on what was in those hexes. If there was one to remove the magic genes, you’re in trouble—although I killed everything that was still active. I suppose though, that we'd better get going. We've got enough money to buy supplies on the way."

"Remove magic genes!" Fean shivered.

***

Shaman Harnay gave a final spin, his ceremonial robes and strings of beads and bones swinging wide. Then he collapsed in mock weariness. Struggled back to his feet.

"The Village is cleansed. There are no evil spirits within. They will not return for a moon."

The older folk looked suitably grateful. The teenagers were doubtful. No. Worse. They were bored. They don't believe at all. He snorted, and walked slowly away, slumped and tired. Or a close appearance of it. He was only thirty, and with the witches' potions, he might well live forever. He scowled at that thought. But he didn't know any chants of Long Life. He had to use the foreign magic.

He hung his robe carefully, and relaxed on his back porch in the afternoon sun. The Chief's wife always sent an excellent dinner around after a ceremonial dance. He'd enjoy that, nap until midnight, and be gone before dawn.

***

"Comet Fall spells." Idlo worked carefully through the next one and killed it. Waved the counter spell on the other men. "We must have been dosed with a potion. I should have been looking for something like that." He ran his hand through his hair, wiped it on his pants. Loose hair. Lots. Eight spells so far, and there were still more, still working away.

"Could we have actually found them, or was this just their Native partners hitting us?" Obsi's hair was cut so short the hair loss didn't show. The rest of them, including Idlo, looked like they had the mange. They were camped in the wilderness between villages because the Inns wouldn't let them in.

Ucco shook his head. "It had to be the Fallen, otherwise they wouldn't have known you were an Agent."

Kanay nodded.

He had to agree. "I'm sorry they felt they had to get all of us. It's not like you were threatening them."

Bekay looked indignant. "We're threatening! Look, big strong muscles. I'll bet that woman who served your beer – and drank half of it – was one of them."

"I didn't notice her, err, coloring being any different than the Villagers." Idlo flushed at the snickers. "Yes, I did happen to notice the boobs she practically rubbed on my face. I am not going to enjoy what my boss has to say about that!"

They all laughed. Bekay sobered first. "The thing is, how are we going to catch them?"

"Probably not until their next trip." Idlo hauled out his comp. "I might as well let the Director know I just missed them . . . and see what Izzo has sent me . . . Dear One. He says that Q 'closed a gate to the north she just noticed' . . . But when?" He lifted his eyes and saw the grins spreading.

"Before or after? Are they trapped on this side?" Ucco's eyes gleamed. "What will they do, if they are trapped here?"

Idlo took a deep breath and thought it out. "If they have someone who can open gates, they'll be gone. If they don't, they'll have to sneak through the gate to Home and then the gate to Embassy, and then wherever they came from."

"You don't think they are Comet Fall spies?"

"Could be, or they could be Rior's Gang, or part of it. We won't know until we catch them."

"Could they be Earthers? I've heard they're figuring out how to shield thoughts from us." Obsi scratched his scalp and growled. "Whoever they are, I want to talk to them about what they've done to us."

That got a chorus of agreement.

Kanay smiled. "My Da were a hunter. He taught me how to track through rough land. If we circle that village, maybe we can find where the smugglers left to go through their gate, and just see if they made it in time, or not."

With that as a goal, they reversed course the next morning. Skipping the two villages in between, they were carefully bumping over the countryside before noon. Kannay was riding with his body halfway out of the lead truck. He tracked three bunches of hoof prints to remote pastures before they found one of interest.

"Look, they rode up this faint path. Nine horses. Then they stood and shifted about for a bit, then split up and wandered all over. All of them separate, so all nine horses are being ridden. They met up over here, and rode off that way, avoiding the Village. That's a bit strange."

"Maybe they don't want their contacts here to realize there's a problem." Obsi bounced on his heels. "Now, let's look at the satellite map. If they are headed for Tannay, they'll take the big trade trail down the river as far as Ortay Shoals. They'll either cross the river there and take the West Wind passage, or veer east through Broad Pass, the one the road goes through."

"If we hustle, on the roads, we should just about be able to catch them at the shoals."

 
 
 
ekuah on November 20th, 2016 07:15 pm (UTC)
I hope...
... that the Oners don't realize how much more tricks the Fallen have. And how dangerous they can be when cornered. By the way, does any of the smugglers have some human-to-beast transformation? Maybe something creative (not the same old bunnies, goats or frogs) and embarrassing. Something where there are no ready-made reversal potions.
matapampamuphoff on November 20th, 2016 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope...
No. They've never had any interest in the Goat Spell, unlike the Black Island Gang/Hors de Combat who have studied it and developed a few variations themselves. I'm punchy from lack of sleep, but I think Heliotrope, in _Darkside_ hit Jade with a "Black Widow" spell.

But the smugglers are practically honest.
ekuah on November 21st, 2016 12:20 am (UTC)
Re: I hope...
Hmm.
Weren't they schooled by Eldon? One of the masters of transformation spells? Maybe they picked some spells up. Because sometimes some morphing can come in really handy.
"Damn all we could hunt here are stringy coyotes."
"Okay, no problem. Let's turn them into some juicy lambs, so we can roast them."

And about honesty vs. dangerousness. I think some of their children are with them. And I'm guessing that threatening the cubs of a lioness is nothing when compared to endangering a witch's children.

P.S.
Please understand that I'm in no way try to promote that idea further, but just wanted to explain my reasoning.

P.P.S.
Good night. Sleep well.


Edited at 2016-11-21 12:21 am (UTC)
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on November 21st, 2016 02:08 am (UTC)
RE: Re: I hope...
I do remember that Fean knows several transformation spells and I think she had learned them from eldron.
ekuah on November 21st, 2016 08:23 am (UTC)
Re: I hope...
You mean her pony transformation while the third alternative philosopher period?
I think that was much later.
By the way, Pam when is this story located? Before or after lodge in the mountains?
matapampamuphoff on November 21st, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope...
This is after _Black Point Clan_ and after _Exterior Relations_ Yes, Fean knows how to turn into a pony, and possibly a cat. But she's never turned someone else into anything.

The smuggler sisters don't even know that. They are moderately well trained traditional Ash witches, who probably get nagged to practice their Half Moon exercises more often.