Power Games #steampunk

You know what time it is right? Time for another installment of the Black Medallion story. If you are new, you can catch up to where we are now with the links below. They are listed in story order (this is installment thirteen for those keeping track).

Section 1
The Black Medallion
Section 2
Through the Night Fog
Section 3
Shaper Magic
Prisoner of the Mouse Trap
Power Games
The Hunter’s Quest

Power Games

Her hands were shackled just as his had been. He wasn’t sure if he should speak to her or let her continue. This could be another ploy. But they would already have the amulet. There was little else they could take from him now.

He slipped his hands free from the shackles and knelt down beside her. “Why?” he asked.

She turned, her face puffy with red streaks from tears, as she struggled, flopping like a fish, to sit up. He lay a hand on her shoulder and then lifted her to a sitting position. ”Thank you,” she said, though she wouldn’t look at him; her eyes focused to the ground at his feet.

The carriage jerked forward knocking him back onto the bench opposite Jillian. Tisdan moved on the bench so that he was across from her. “Why?” He asked it again. “Why did you do this?’

“The ring, it was only supposed to suppress the connection between you and the amulet,” she said. “My father must have found it and changed the shaping.” Her eyes had begun to water again as she spoke to him.

“They were waiting for us. I slipped the ring on your finger.” She took a deep breath. “The shock hit me too. Not at first, but it dropped me just as you had fallen.”

He said nothing, simply watched her. His eyes caught hers then dropped away again.

“I really was trying to help you. That thing is a power no one should have,” she said. She adjusted herself on her bench, to find a comfortable position. “There is going to be a power shift. Damius will take over the council.”

Power Games

Flickr Creative Commons via Anne-Lise Heinrichs
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She dropped the name like he would know and understand who she spoke of. But like so many others outside of his world, it meant nothing. “You’ve never stepped into low-town,” he said. “You talk about power shifts and politics, but you have never seen what these petty battles bring about.” He was on his feet, at the door to the carriage. He pulled the curtain over the window aside and looked out over the dark street. “Everyday, the people in low-town battle just for some bread. Your shapers have done nothing, nothing to help them.”

She was quiet. The tears came again, though her body was not wracked with sobs. “You don’t know what it’s like,” she said.

“I really don’t care,” he said. “You and your kind can have your petty wars. Go ahead kill each other. Just leave us out of it.” The door was barred. He could not push it using his strength alone. He felt something, something he hadn’t felt since the ring was placed on his finger. Power surged up through his left hand giving him a strength he hadn’t known. The bar on the door, bent and broken, came away as the door flung open.

Tisdan, caught off guard could only stare at the empty space where the door had been. He looked back at Jillian and was about to jump out when she said, “Wait, take me with you.” She came to her feet, though her hands were still bound. “I can help you still.”

He pulled the lockpick from his vest, then removed her manacles. “Come with me or not, I don’t care,” he said. “But I’ll leave you if you slow me down.” He took one last look out the window then jumped out. He hit the ground in a roll absorbing the hit with his momentum. He had taken worse tumbles jumping from the trains.

Jillian looked out the open doorway, her eyes wide as the road slipped past. She jumped, more of a flop and roll, could have gone much worse than it did. A few scrapes, but nothing was broken or sprained. The carriage continued on without them.

Tisdan helped her to her feet then dusted himself off. “Looks like we are in this together then,” he said.

“How did you do that to the door?” she asked.

“Run.”

She followed his gaze back to the carriage as it came to an abrupt stop. One of the thugs was at the door looking inside. The other tied up the horses and was coming toward them.

Tisdan didn’t wait for her. He was half a block away when he turned his head to see if she was coming. She wasn’t far behind but neither were the thugs. When Tisdan had a two block lead on them they were still coming. He took Jillian’s hand and turned down an alley. They were still at a full run when they came to the end. The thugs caught up, at the other end of the alley.

Panic climbed the edges of his thoughts, and he settled in to a technique Jak had taught him once. Tisdan closed his eyes and centered his attention on his breath, in and out. A center of calm pushed back the world around him as he let go of his fears

He shivered as fog began to form around him. It came in fast, to fast for natural fog. Jillian was still beside him. The thugs at the end of the alley blurred then faded away. He took Jillian’s hand, squeezed it for reassurance. The building at their back grew fuzzy and indistinct, then was gone.

Still holding Jillian’s hand they walked through where the building had been. “What did you do?” Jillian asked.

“I didn’t do it,” he said.

“This is the aether, the place between,” she said. “My father talked of traveling through here once.”

“I think the amulet took me through here,” he said.

They continued walking. The buildings around them had shapes in the fog but no substance. It took no effort for them to walk away from where they had been trapped.

“This isn’t possible,” she said. “People don’t just step into the aether.” They were blocks away from where they started. The fog was gone, but the night was still around them. They found solace in a different alley, hidden from the street.

“It just happens,” he said. “I needed a way out and we made it out.” He paced, a refusal to stand still.

“The only time I have seen a doorway, it took the power of the council to open it,” she said. “Shapers don’t travel through the aether.”

“I’m not a shaper.”

She grabbed him, a hand on each arm. “I don’t think you grasp what is happening here. The amulet unlocked something in you.” She was a few inches shorter than him, looking up into his eyes. “This is huge. This means that the amulet was something more than they even considered.”

He pulled a glowing disc from his sash. “Well, then I guess it’s a good thing they don’t have it.” He shoved it back into his sash.

She was taken aback, words didn’t come to her. Her hands slid from his arms. “Wha…how…”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I felt it there after we left the fog. I think it has become a part of me, or maybe I’m a part of it.”

“Do you realize what this means?” she asked, her arms flew wild while she talked. “They hoped to take its power for themselves. They will have no choice but to kill you.”

“Um…” he began. “Why do they have to kill me?”

“To free the power.” She stopped pacing. “Don’t you get it. You remember how you got it?”

“You mean the fat man?” He looked off in the distance, lost in the memory. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“Doesn’t matter. The amulet found a new host,” she said. “When they realize that the amulet is gone they won’t be coming just to find it. They’re coming to kill you.”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“We have to figure out how this thing works and fast,” she said. “It’s the only way you can defend yourself.”

“I’m not going to defend myself. I’m taking the fight to them.”

“You can’t take on the whole council,” she said.

“This isn’t with the whole council,” he said. “You said it yourself, your father is working for only one of them.”

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