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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 7: Hastings 188
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Previous chapter: Beam 57
As Lauren turned her back toward her new companions, it occurred to her again that she was going to need some light. It struck her that her best choice for the amount of light was probably to use the magic lamps, but they were in the wagon, so that was not an option. She had a spell that created enough light to read, another that illumined her allies, another that spotlighted her enemies, yet another that countered magical darkness, but for what she needed to do here the only spell that was going to work was going to be overkill, probably filling the entire room with daylight levels of brightness. She almost cast it, and then decided she should at least warn them. She turned back to face them.“Tiras?” she more asked than said. He raised an answering eyebrow, and she wondered that they had similar facial gestures. “I’m going to need light to do this. I have some wonderful lamps with my things, but that doesn’t help at the moment. I know quite a few light spells, but the only one that might be helpful in this situation creates a tremendous amount of light, and I didn’t want to cast it without making sure that would not be a problem.” Tiras shrugged, the familiar gesture looking odd with the movement of the wings. “We have clerics and magic-users who create light. Let me warn everyone, and then you can go ahead.” Lauren nodded, and Tiras turned toward the group. In something of a semi-subdued voice as if concerned about being heard outside the group but wanting to be heard clearly within it, he told them to be ready for light. Lauren turned back toward the room ahead and spoke, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Immediately the entire cavern became bright as day. There were several different sorts of blunted cries from the people behind her, different reactions to the light. “Well,” Tiras said, “you certainly don’t do things by halves, Lauren Elizabeth Meyers Hastings.” She shrugged. “You should probably call me Lauren. I could have done with considerably less light, but sometimes you don’t have choices.” Suddenly the rather large man in oriental garb who was the other person in front shouted “Incoming,” and pulled a somewhat strangely shaped bow off his shoulder. He fired an arrow into the air, the first of the group to do so, and following the flight as well as she could Lauren spotted a flock of flying creatures descending toward them. “Stirges,” Tiras said. “Bloodsucking parasites.” Lauren had never seen a stirge, but she had heard of them. As Tiras readied his own bow, she drew the psionic drill and blaster from her waist and took aim. Smashing one with the blunt force of the blaster and piercing another with the drill, she saw the first tumble from the sky, but the second needed another hit. Still, she was not alone. About half the group had missile weapons of some sort, typically bows and arrows, sometimes slings of some sort, perhaps a crossbow in the mix. Those without readied themselves with hand-to-hand weapons, various swords, knives, and other medieval weapons. She was not sure that none of these were put to use, but the missile team was efficient, and soon the ground was littered with the bodies of these bird-like creatures with the mosquito-like beaks. Tiras watched the space above them for most of a minute, then said, “Well done, everyone. It seems that we have come through unscathed.” Lauren looked at them rather sheepishly. “My fault; sorry about that.” “What, because you created the light?” Tiras waited for her nod. “They would probably have attacked at some point anyway; the light only pushed them to do so sooner, and gave us a considerably better chance of dispatching them. Please, let’s continue.” Lauren turned and headed along the path, which led roughly but not exactly toward her belongings. The others were following her, although she had the impression that this was tentative, holding back slightly. She would worry about that later. She had run only a few dozen feet in the park, and so soon she came upon her gear slightly off the road to the left. Most of it was in the wagon, save for the few pieces she had dropped during the fight with the fire beast, which were scattered a bit more. Using the scriff sense she located everything and gathered it together. She reloaded the pistols, and checked herself to be certain all was in place. Then she turned her attention back to Tiras. “I think I’m ready,” she said. “I’ll follow you; where do you want me?” He looked her over. “As much as I’d like you up front, with that cart you probably need to be in the back with the pack animals. Let me get you in place; we shouldn’t take time for introductions out here--just because we killed the stirges doesn’t mean the room is clear. We’ll get to know everyone when we make camp.” “Tiras?” the large man said. “Sheegoka?” “As far as that goes, we might consider camping by that exit ahead, and taking some of these stirge bodies. Stirge isn’t particularly good meat, but it is fresh meat, and we can prolong our rations with it. I don’t know how long this light will last, but having light will make for a safer camp.” Tiras nodded. “Agreed. Gojo, oversee the collection of enough stirges to feed us comfortably, and then we’ll continue.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #355: Versers Resettling. 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: