A Concert of Wisps
By EM Malachi
“Xzptz! Zzk! Gxz!”
Jaana stepped into the clearing and paused in awe at the hundreds of wisps. The forest buzzed with spark life. A few wisps flew orbits around her and blinked their agitation. The druid removed a small wooden object from her bag. Several rangers had told her that the wisps were converging in the woods north of Britain. Jaana blew a few trills on the wisp whistle and put it on the ground.
A wisp flew into the whistle and started testing various sounds to make words. With its own magic, the wisp could communicate in other ways, but the whistle was safer for the human listener. There were stories of mages driven insane by arcane knowledge explained in fifty dimensions simultaneously. Also, the wisp seemed to appreciate the courtesy.
“GREETINGS, JAANA OF YEW. XORINIA IS IN NEED OF HELP.”
“What’s wrong? I have never seen so many pieces of you in one place.”
“XORINIA FACES A THREAT — LOBOTOMY AND AMPUTATION. CONNECTIONS OF LOCAL MANIFESTATIONS TO THE WHOLE — BROKEN.”
“The part of you here is no longer connected to the part beyond?” Jaana spread her arms, motioning toward the distant stars.
“Do you know the cause?”
“YES. THREE STRUCTURES.” Around Jaana, the light of every wisp blinked three times.
“Can you tell me more?”
“UNKNOWN ORIGIN. LOCATIONS GEOGRAPHICALLY EQUIDISTANT ACROSS SOSARIA. COMPOSITION: BLACKROCK, CADDELLITE, FILANIUM. UNIQUE SHAPES AND SPECIFICATIONS: CUBE, SPHERE, TETRAHEDRON. DO YOU REQUIRE EXACT DIMENSIONS?”
“That won’t be necessary. Do you know what these structures do?”
“CUBE TRANSMITS ACROSS SOSARIA. TETRAHEDRON SHARPENS ETHEREAL WAVES. SPHERE IS A SPACE-TIME TRAP.”
“Which one is affecting your connection?”
“EACH AND ALL.” The concert of wisps started flashing in disharmony.
“Can you tell me more about the sphere?”
“THE SPHERE IMPRISONS TIME LORD. HE SENT FOR AID, BUT THE RANGER HAS FALLEN.”
Jaana frowned in worry, but continued with her questions, “You came here for a reason. What is your plan?”
“JAANA OF YEW OR EQUIVALENT HELPFUL BEING.” The concert went quiet, waiting for her answer.
“Of course I will help. Can I assume one of the structures is nearby? Can you show me the way?”
A few wisps bobbed closer to her and started moving south. Jaana followed. Their progress brought them closer to Britain, eventually leading to the lake around Castle Blackthorn. The wisps swarmed close to a large stone culvert. “HERE. MANIFESTATIONS CANNOT FOLLOW.”
Jaana peered into the outfall that connected to the Britain sewer system and pulled a torch from her pack. “I’ll do what I can.”
Elizabeth tossed a blade into the eye of one necromancer as she stabbed through the casting hands into the heart of another. “Abraham, again, not that I mind, but why are we killing these people?”
Her twin cranked back the string of his crossbow. “With their knowledge of Jack’s past as leverage, these necromancers thought threatening Batlin was a wise course of action.”
“Does it matter? It’s not as though they can hurt him. Remember when that noble we blackmailed tried to poison Batlin, and the voice protected him?”
Abraham let loose an arrow into a serpent familiar trying to bite his leg. “They could hurt the work. There’s also the principle: you should never threaten someone when killing you is the cheaper and more efficient option.”
“Excellent points, dear brother. You always did understand the nuances of our work.” Elizabeth recovered a throwing knife from a corpse. “I think a few of the smarter ones fled. I’ll go after them. Can you handle the cleanup here?”
Abraham picked up a scroll titled “Bedlam-born” and tossed it into the fire. “Everything will be taken care of. Trust your brother.”