The Legend of Vanx Malic: The Legend Grows Stronger
Vanx picked up a piece of broken glass from the floor of the Hoar Witch’s dirty old lookout room. A tiny flash of movement had drawn him to it, and now he was trembling. It turned out that the Mirror of Portent wasn’t a complete loss, after all. In the palm-sized fragment, he saw ships crashing into docks and unloading their cargo of black-armored soldiers. Blades glowing blue, much like Chelda’s, flared forth. Winged creatures, with eyes the same dull shade, swarmed the air. Some were carrying men, some not. The surprised people trying to defend themselves, were decimated. The city under attack was in flames.
His first concern was that it was the Isle of Zyth being ravaged, but he soon saw that it wasn’t. It wasn’t Orendyn, either. From the structural style of the buildings and the lack of ice and snow, he guessed it was either Parydon Isle, or right across the channel at the mainland city of Andwyn.
Vanx remembered how the Hoar Witch had once made him question a deed into the mirror with his will. It would display the myriad possibilities that opened up from the intended action. In this case, though, Vanx found that every time he tried, he was led back to the same blurry future. Then it occurred to him that he didn’t know how far into the future this was happening.
Just then, Sir Poopsalot came sauntering into the room. The dog came over and nuzzled Vanx. As he did, Vanx felt one of the many strange sensations that his dog familiar often sent him.
“That is true, Poops,” Vanx responded aloud, and then laughed through his concern for doing so. He could have answered with a thought.
He’d sworn to the Goddess to avoid questioning the Hoar Witch personally, and he wouldn’t break his word. Instead, he called for Gallarael through the crystal hanging at his neck. The device allowed him to order the Hoar Witch’s minions about Saint Elm’s Deep. He could also communicate with any of the fae and his companions, just as long as they were near the Heart Tree.
Gallarael arrived a few long moments later, approaching on all four limbs like an animal. She stood, shifting from her panther-like changeling form, into the smiling princess Vanx remembered. Her hair was dark now, and though it framed her delicate face perfectly, he still thought he would like it better long and golden, as it had been when he’d first started seeing her mother.
Thinking of the Duchess of Highlake made him shiver.
“Chelda and Moonsy are as in love as any two have ever been,” said Gallarael. “I’m not sure how it works, though, since Chel is seven feet tall and Moonsy is only two-and-a-half.” She chuckled, and then grew serious when she looked at Vanx’s expression. “What is it?”
“I need you to find out from Aserica Rime how to tell how far into the future her mirror of portent is seeing?”
“I thought it was destroyed.”
“Look.” Vanx showed her the piece of mirror he’d found.
She watched it for a few moments, then looked at him. “Oh my. That’s Parydon Isle. I can tell by the seawall. I’ll go down, then.” She gave him an understanding nod.
That night, Vanx listened with mixed feelings as the old hag hollered and pleaded for death, while Gallarael tortured information out of her with threats, offers to end her, and a good, sharp stick. One of the Hoar Witch’s own creations, a large, venomous spider-like thing called Sissy, had cocooned her and was using her as a feeding pod. Aserica Rime wouldn’t die in this state, but oh, how she wanted to.
The next day, Vanx concocted the brew the old witch told Gallarael how to make. After sipping it, and then touching a certain powder to his tongue, when he looked into the mirror, Vanx suddenly understood that the vision was of a very near future. He also saw a tangent vision of things that would transpire in only days.
Prince Russet and the crew of the Sea Hawk would be landing at Orendyn, where they would trick Darbon out of information and then hire the twin skmoes, Inda and Anda, to guide them to the Deep in search of Gallarael.
Vanx shook his head. The reflections started blurring in his mind, and he retched. He needed more of the potion, but had seen enough for the moment. Gallarael was an absconded princess, after all, but if Prince Russet was coming to Orendyn, then he had a good idea where she was. The letter they’d sent back with Brody’s remains might have given them away. Or more likely, the dock workers had been questioned by kingdom spies. Vanx and his group were revered as celebrities after their saber shrew kill, and even before that, the sign in front of the Iceberg Inn and Tavern had read, “Vanx the bard, most nights after supper” for much of a year. Had anyone been asking about him, they would have learned he had gone questing to the north, and that he had taken his dead friend’s sister, a girl named Galra, with him.
It also meant that the kingdom was not expecting an attack. Had they been, Prince Russet would have been forced into a stronghold and kept there. He was King Oakarm’s only son, and there was no way they’d let him sail north. For a moment, the little rat-riding devil, Pwca, crossed Vanx’s mind, but then the fresh memory of Prince Russet’s angry expression, as he roughed up Darbon, wiped the concern away. Salma looked battered in the vision, too, and that made Vanx angry.
“Why would he harm Salma or Darbon?” Vanx asked Gallarael sometime later.
They were in a crystal-formed hall that Vanx had cleaned of filth and debris. Gallarael hung some old tapestries and replaced the torches with moss lamps she got from the Underland brownies. There were two divans sitting opposite each other, with a long, wooden table between them. The table was knee-high for Vanx and Gallarael, but Thorn had brought over a little chair and looked to be sitting at the head of a fancy table board as the conversation continued.
“They were probably trying to keep their mouths shut,” Thorn answered. Before the pixie queen had died, the strawberry-haired elf was the head of her honor guard. General Foxwise Posey-Thorn was his name and title, and though he looked like a child, he was as sharp and ornery as an elf could be. “Finding a runaway princess is serious business, I’m sure.”
“I’m not a runaway princess!” Gallarael snapped, and a little of her feline changeling self resonated in her snarl. “I don’t know why he would hurt them, either. I’m sick about it. I didn’t know I was the Princess of Parydon, and that he was my brother, until recently, Vanx. Don’t ask me why he would do anything.”
“You are the Princess of Highlake, either way. Your mother won’t let the realm sit still until you are found.”
“You’ll have to go to Orendyn and head him off, Gal,” Thorn said simply. “We can’t have the Crown Prince of Parydon bringing his whole cohort into the Deep to find us.”
“What of the attack on the island?” Vanx asked the general.
“She can warn the prince when she sees him.” The elf shrugged.