Monday, April 23, 2012

Heraclix & Pomp, Book 2, Chapter 1, Part 2

Pomp does not like jars and bottles. Never did. Especially not from the inside, which was the side she had seen most often. There was usually some sort of sorcerer involved, and this time was no exception. She had been in that hookah, how long now? To her it didn't seem like too much time, merely an annoyance, really. But Pomp, being eternal, but having discovered that she is not entirely immortal, had a rather unique concept of time. To humans, it had been almost 150 years, a century and a half bottled up. Still, it was a bother and Pomp wishes, or wished (how long until tense came naturally to her? Not yet!) she could get out. Granted, now that she was out of the magic circle that the sorcerer had put her in, she could get out of this reeking tobacco boiler. But not without help. Not without . . .

“Heraclix!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. “Hey! Get up and get Pomp out of here! Heraclix!”

“Heraclix!” His name returned to him from some faint source beyond his dreams and memories. Something here, now, something outside of his head, assuring him that he was, is, himself.


The voice was not of the man he had seen as he emerged from the ethereal torpor that had held him for so long. Nor was it the voice of the man who had trapped him here in the first place. It was the voice of a very tiny woman, far away, a familiar voice from somewhere before his dreams.

“Heraclix! Get Pomp out!”

“Pomp!” The dreams faded and memory pumped back into his skull as he sat up. He looked around the dark, dusty room, but all was vagaries. A single oil lamp burned nearby.
His last memories, before the long stretch of dreaming, were that of a single candle flame and, holding on to the sconce, the man who landed him in this position: Gerhart Storm, necromancer. After the demise of Mattathias Mowler (not to mention Heraclix's own demise, or the demise of the part of him known as Okto Heilliger, before his death, but that is another story), Heraclix had got on quite well with necromancers in general (and, in fact, was one, when he was Okto Heilliger, before his birth into undeath, also a part of another story). He had established ties with the mystical Shadow Divan and, through those ties, been instrumental in saving the Holy Roman Empire and possibly the entire world from destruction at the hands of Mowler's earthly and abyssal minions.
But the Shadow Divan had little interest in the politics of men. They sought to unlock the secrets of eternal life, to open the door to immortality through magical means. Heraclix, being one of them, yet no longer one of them, and, having been forced back from death and hell by Mowler, was of great interest to the necromancers. They studied him and he willingly gave himself to be studied. Still, they were unable to repeat Mowler's success. Each perished, in his or her turn, and each was replaced by a new disciple of death and life magic.

One of these, Gerhard Storm, a gifted savant in the necromantic arts, had succumbed to the allure of power and allowed corruption to enter in to what the Shadow Divan had worked so carefully to protect: the laws of the sanctity of life bounded by the grand brotherhood of man, for which they silently, secretly, humbly labored. Through a series of subterfuges, Storm tricked Heraclix and his companion, the pixie Pomp, and captured them, incapacitating them and storing them in the attic of Josefov's renowned synagogue with the aid of a young, naïve, and unsuspecting rabbinical student, who had been bewitched into thinking that the immense body was a clay statue that would come to life under one's control when the correct kaballistic formulas could be applied. He was also convinced that the hookah contained a demon bound by one of the Seals of Solomon that could be similarly controlled, if one could only learn the mechanism by which such control could be exercised.

Pomp watched from her glass prison as the young man grew old, poring over texts and scrolls, studying number patterns in games of chance, and even succeeding in conjuring up a very minor devil that pretended to be far more knowledgeable than it really was, for all devils, Pomp knew, were liars. The dedication with which the man pursued his desires eventually drove the old man insane. Pomp last remembered a pair of rabbinical assistants carrying the old Rabbi's body out of the attic after he had fallen to the floor in a paroxysm during a particularly strenuous ritual of some sort.

She had not seen Gerhard Storm since the day he brought her and Heraclix to this forlorn attic.

But Heraclix could not have known any of this.

“Pomp!” He looked around him, then picked up the lamp to angle the lighting to where he could see more clearly around the darkened room. “Where are you?”

“Pomp is here!” She banged on her prison walls.

He could hear the frustration in her voice, over there, near that glass hookah. No, inside the hookah. “What kind of sick . . .?” Heraclix sighed, knowing the unspoken answer to his unfinished question.

“Lie low,” he warned before breaking the neck of the hookah off with his hands. Pomp flew up out of the jagged opening, dusting tiny shards of glass from off her clothes. She removed the arrows from her quiver, then dumped a crystalline shower out into the bottle beneath her.

“You still have those?” Heraclix asked.

“And this!” She proudly held up a tiny bow, sized just right for the needle-like arrows.

“Why don't they ever take those away from you?” He asked.

“Bad men are proud. Pride is dumb. They don't think I can hurt them with these,” she gave a mischievous smile.

Heraclix returned the smile. “If they only knew . . .”

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