Ares KotP:The Banshee of K-Town
I have spent the past two weeks, licking my wounds after my confrontation with War, the second horseman. I know, at the core of my being that without the assistance of Bricky, my house brother and former Knight, I would not be here today. It is quite a sobering thought to be reminded of ones mortality. A Knight can wield tremendous power, with enough experience, skill and preparation. I have power a plenty, but I used it up quickly, not used to my enemies surviving the initial onslaught. This time, I was caught with my fur parted. As I was on my last legs, Bricky attacked, and together we stalemated War, forcing him to withdrawal. Or rather, he chose to complete his mission, rather then risk injury at the paw of two Knights. I have no illusion that we would have been injured or worse if the fight would have continued.
Since his departure, War has taken up residence in the middle east, south of the ruins of Babylon. The Knighthood has been gathering information on his activities with help from the Camel Brotherhood, and the Stirling Stallions. At this point, as powerful as War has become, it will take more then just the Knighthood to defeat him, we will need all the help we can get our paws on. In preparation for that, I have repaired my armor, changed the design of my shield, and engraved runes in the blade of my sword, to help better focus my energy. No small feat (hah!) when the one doing the forging has no opposable thumbs.
This evening was the same as most, begged some cheese and cookies from the two legged ones, then waited on them to go to bed. While out for my evening break, I was visited by Aeristolite, a spirit of the air. A messenger of sorts, and one friendly to the Knights. This evening the news he brought was dire, tales of a fog and mist, screams, and localized insanity. Upon leaving, he left me two strands of broken grass. I could use the strands to link to the grass still in the ground, and use portal magic to transport myself there. The distance was approximately five miles away, so porting was necessary when one is as short as I am. I patiently waited for the humans to go to bed, and watched as Bricky trotted along behind them. He paused, gave me a knowing look, woofed lightly, then trotted down the hall. I gave them a few minutes to go to sleep, then put on my armor, my shield, and sheathed my sword on my back. I placed the two blades of grass on the ground, raised to my back legs, and bounced around the grass in a circle three times, making sounds in my throat. To those not in the Knighthood, it sounded like whimpers and whining, but in reality it was a strain of syllables delicately pronounced to summon the power of the portal. After my third circle was complete, I brought my front paws down sharply twice, summoning my power and creating the portal. Taking a breathe I plunged through the portal.
I emerged on the side of a hill, overlooking a field with an old barn in it. I cocked my head to the right, and slipped out my tongue, tasting for magic. I was rewarded with an old musty taste, with a hint of liquor to it. A banshee. And not the third generation American banshee, but an ancient Irish Banshee. One of the originals. As I tried to remember all that I knew of Banshee's, the mist began to form in the field, and a cold damp feel permeated the air. I quickly pulled my power around me, in a barrier to protect me from what was coming next. With scant seconds to spare, the wail split the air, and the Banshee began to form in the mist. It was composed of wind, with the appearance of a woman who had skipped months of food. Her hair grey and blowing in the wind, her eyes hollow and empty. She began to turn on the spot, skeletal arms moving in mystical patterns and a pool of swirling liquid formed at her feet. Ah ha! The Banshee was creating a scrying pool, but what for?
I woofed a word of power, covering myself in illusion, and began creeping closer. If I could see what she was looking for, I could gather a better understanding of how to handle her. I witnessed ancient shapes and swirls forming in the water, and heard the Banshee's tone change as she focused on what she was looking for. The words began to make sense, and my blood froze in my veins. In the pool, a book began to come into focus. Brown and old with age, marked with intricate swirls, the center covered in an endless knot of Celtic origin. And a word repeated over and over. She was looking for Annwfn Geimhreadh. A book of ancient magic thought lost for generations. A wizard of great power wrote down not only his incantations, but ones learned from druids, shaman, wise men, and sorcerers from many cultures. Bound in a book, warded with Celtic protective spirals, and powerful beyond imagination. And a Banshee was looking for it. Banshee's have magic of their own, but a book like this, in the hands of a Banshee would cause irreparable damage to the world.
I was still moving while contemplating this, and my paw stepped on a twig, making a small breaking noise. With no hesitation the Banshee turned, screaming and hurling power from both hands. Yikes! That's new and unheard of. I moved to the right, unsheathing my sword as I ran. Slamming the sword into the ground, I spun around, back paws kicking dirt towards the Banshee, and a word of power from my mouth creating a deluge of hardening mud. It covered the banshee from head to wispy toes. It began to open its mouth to scream, but I scuffed blades of grass in the air, sealing its mouth. I padded closer to it, her eyes glaring murderously at me. I looked at the Banshee, and she began to change, forming into a human of such striking beauty it had to be an illusion. My mud and grass fell to the ground at her feet and she laughed gently at me.
"Dear Knight, you are quick and powerful, but are messing in matters that do not concern you," she purred. "The book will be mine, I have looked for it for ages, and there are those who will pay heavily for one with these skills." She cocked her head at me, peering intently. "I see ancient power has wounded you. Are you he who fought the Red Rider?"
I merely stood my ground, but my mind was churning furiously. Apparently this was a sorceress of some power to be able to so conveniently impersonate a Banshee. And she could tell by the wounds on my chi that I had fought War. I cocked my head looking at her, sticking my tongue out trying to taste the magic again.
"I'll save you the trouble little dog, I am Morgana Le Fay, sorceress of the High Sidhe, and what I am looking for I will have, and will kill you if you interfere".
Outwardly I maintained my tough Peke attitude, but inwardly I began to shake. Of all the sorceresses on the planet, it had to be her. I pondered my options of how to handle this. Magically speaking, she was more then my equal. She fought Merlin to a standstill many times. She was the cause of the downfall of Camelot, responsible for various conflicts through time. But, she was vain. I could use that against her. I sat down on my rear, raising my front paws in the air, as if I was begging for a treat. She smiled and laughed, and in that second, I brought power to bear in my tail, flipping heads over tails, and released thirty pieces of fur from my tail, sharpening and hardening as they flew straight for her face. As I expected she brought her hands to protect her face, and I lunged forward, paws churning the ground, my sword unsheathed gouging a circle at her feat. I slammed a paw down, pouring energy into the circle, barking a word of power. At my bark, she began to waver, then vanish. I sat down, panting heavily. High sorceress she may be, but even she will have problems getting back from the top of Mt Everest. Which was where the metal for my sword was mined, allowing me to always have a place to channel my portal for. Of course, I did do it hastily, I can't guarantee she didn't materialize even higher up then the top. Regardless, she was gone from here for now.
There would be a price to pay later, she would remember me, and she would be able to re-create her trail to the book. But, I had a lead on it as well, I recognized some of the surroundings, and would forward the information on to the Knighthood for the researchers to track it down first. Power such as that, in the hands of Morgana, or War, or any of the other various nasties in the world is a scary thought.
I placed a square piece of carpet from home on the ground, to create my portal, and go home for some much deserved rest. Although, I will admit that I handled this better then War.