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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 45: Slade 61
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"You were saying?" Slade said to Filp.
"You were lucky," Filp answered.
The luck, if luck it was, was that having prayed for guidance and walked forward, they had paused directly in front of the cell of the man they sought, and that he had heard them speaking and given them the name presumably only he would know. But was that correct?
"Yes," Slade said in answer to the voice. "Majdi sent me. Who are you?"
The voice moved, as if the person had come toward the door; it was clearer. Slade shifted the light, and saw a heavily bearded face through the bars of a small window.
"I am Phasius, Priest of Odin and Friend of the Caliph of the West Wind."
The mention of Odin rang in the back of Slade's mind. He had been following Odin, at least in name, for decades as he traveled the verse; but he had never known anyone who knew anything about that religion beyond what he had gathered from reading a few books which, admittedly, were fiction, adventure stories set in another world. This might be his chance to learn what he needed to know.
"Well, we'd better get you out of there, then." Slade shone the light on the lock.
"You're forgetting something," Filp said.
"Oh, yeah, I am. Let's see; how do we do this? I've got it." Slade set the flashlight on the floor such that light from its beam passed under the door and illumined the cell slightly. "Phasius, I'm going to try a bit of something that should help delay pursuit. But I need you to go back to your bed and get comfortable, sitting or lying down or something. Lying down is probably best. If this works, then anyone who looks through this window will see you lying down in there."
"Ah," came the answer. "I understand." The voice moved away from the door, and as Slade peered through the dim he could make out Phasius moving onto the bed. "All right; I'm ready."
Removing a glass bead Shella had given him for this from a pocket, he was about to place it on the edge of the window; then he had a thought. "Well, this is a crazy idea, maybe, but it might help," he said. Slipping out of his pack, he opened his tool chest (which he still kept on the bottom of the frame he made years before when adventuring with Filp) and withdrew a tube of superglue. "If this works, the bead won't fall if the door is jarred, and so we won't lose the image." He dotted the wood with the glue and set the bead on it. "O.K., that part's done. Now for the real magic." He thought for a moment; he needed to get the incantation correct. Then he pronounced the words as Shella had taught him, moving his hand across the window and tapping the bead with one finger.
"Did it work?" Filp asked.
"I don't know," Slade said. "Looks the same as it did; but then, it's supposed to look the same as it did."
"So, how do we tell?"
"I know. Phasius? You can get up now. We'll have this door open in a moment, and then we're on our way."
Nothing in the window moved; but the voice got closer. "I am so grateful to you for coming."
"Don't mention it," Slade said. "I owed a friend a favor."
"Yeah," Filp added, "me, too, I guess."
Slade picked up the light. "You get the door," he said. "You're still quicker at these than me." In a moment, Filp had managed the lock, and the door squeaked open.
"Thank you, just the same," Phasius said, as Slade closed the door.
"What do you know? It worked," he said, looking at the image of the sleeping priest on his bed in the cell they had just emptied.
"Yeah," Filp said; "but we aren't home free yet. We'd better get a move on."
"Right. This way." Slade headed back toward the entry.
"Yeah, like that wasn't obvious," Filp said.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #180: Versers Focus. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: