- Written by Liz McGuire
- Category: Fountain Pen Related
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The Story (and links to corresponding reviews)
Part 3: The Old Goat Adventure
Makhabesh grabbed an ordinary sack and started stuffing food inside. "Why not--" A knock at the door froze Quin and Makhabesh in place. Quin heaved a sigh and went to the door. Outside, an old man with a stringy little beard hunched over his cane. Makhabesh thought he looked very much like an old goat.
127 Diamine Blue-Black
"Sir!" Quin said, straightening his spine. The old man cleared his throat. "Wizard Quin, sphinx Makhabesh, you are summoned to Mount Ferovere, to the Wizards' Palace. You are to appear before the High Wizard himself. You are to leave at once! Primus awaits at the keep to open a portal to Norvelt." Quin gaped. "Who's the old goat?" Makhabesh whispered.
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"He's the Keep Steward," Quin whispered back. "He serves the High Wizard." Quin stuffed the food bag into his pack, then he and Makhabesh followed the old man toward the keep. "So, where's this Norvelt?" "It's the nearest portal to the palace." Makhabesh jumped up onto Quin's shoulder. "What's this High Wizard want with us?" Quin shrugged. "Ow!" "You shouldn't shrug with a sphinx on your shoulder."
129 Sailor Shikiori Chushu
As the portal closed behind them, Quin glanced around quickly, comparing what he saw to accounts he'd read as an apprentice. Ahead of them, a trail curved uphill. Elsewhere, trees formed a dense forest. "Why not send us straight to this palace?" Makhabesh asked. "The palace has magical protections against portaling too close."
130 Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black
Makhabesh launched himself from Quin's shoulder. "Ow!" Once above the trees, he circled, and saw nothing but forest, the trail, and a walled city in the distance. He returned and landed again on Quin's shoulder. "I'm going to need to buy a leather jacket," Quin muttered. "What is it with wizards and walls?" Makhabesh asked.
131 Sailor Shikiori Yonaga
Halfway to the first curve of the trail, Quin turned into the forest. "I thought we were supposed to go straight to the palace," Makhabesh said. "Exactly. The path curves." Quin grinned. Makhabesh cocked an eyebrow. "When I was an apprentice, I spent a lot of time in the library. Turns out, the best way to the palace is a straight line. There are magical herbs and such in the forest - ingredients for things like ink."
132 KWZ Grey Plum
While Quin collected a plant with jagged purple leaves, Makhabesh flew ahead until he came across a giant red punching bag hung from a tree limb. He landed on top, puzzling and waiting. When Quin finally appeared, his face contorted through surprise to fear. "Look out!" he yelled. Before Makhabesh could move, something smashed into the bag from behind him, sending him reeling.
133 Diamine Purple Rain
Makhabesh barely managed to get his wings working before he hit the ground. He soared up. A smoke screen puffed into existence and Quin took off running on one side of it. On the other side, a giant black goat with curly horns snorted and smashed into the punching bag again. Makhabesh dove after Quin.
134 Diamine Registrars Ink
"What was that?" Makhabesh asked when he caught up with Quin. "One of the dangers of the forest," Quin said. "They put up the punching bag to distract it from attacking travelers." Makhabesh couldn't figure out how to answer that. "Fortunately, that one wasn't magical, or it could have been much worse." "And you couldn't be bothered to warn me about magic goats!?"
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"So, what else do we need to worry about?" Makhabesh asked. "I'd tell you to avoid stepping on mushrooms, but all you do is ride on my shoulder." Makhabesh ignored that. "What happens if we step on a mushroom." "Depends on whether it's sentient. The sentient ones are all connected underground, and will track you and mob you as soon as they get the chance." And he wonders why I ride on his shoulder.
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"Are you sure that's not sentient?" Makhabesh asked as Quin reached toward a mushroom. "Positive," Quin said. "The sentient ones all have spots or stripes. These green ones are good for several potions, mostly for healing." Makhabesh watched carefully. Quin had spent the past hour telling about magic bugs, animals, and sentient plants. The sooner they reached the palace, the better.
137 Hero 232 Blue-Black
"Wizard Quin and sphinx Makhabesh," Quin told the guard at the city gate. "We've been summoned to the palace." "They've been waiting," the guard replied, and ushered them into a horse-drawn carriage. As soon as the door closed, the carriage accelerated into the city. "Wings are quieter," Makhabesh said, shouting to be heard over the clatter.
138 Pelikan Edelstein Olivine
At the palace, a man calling himself the High Wizard's personal aide whisked them away so quickly they barely had time to see anyone or anything. Faster than they knew, they were standing in a room with six other wizards - the aide, and five counselors, each wearing a dark blue robe with a different pattern in gold thread embroidered throughout.
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"Welcome, welcome," the aide began. "Your work in finding Marsell was--" "There's no time for that!" said a wizard with geometric patterns on his robe. "The High Wizard is missing and we need the two of you to find him!" Quin and Makhabesh gaped. "We'll provide the best supplies we can, and an enchanted object for each of you, but we must hurry."
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"Uh," Quin said, "there must be someone more experienced..." "We can't send anyone from here." A wizard with wavy swirls on his robe stepped forward. "For all we know, someone from here is the reason he's missing." "We need outsiders," geometric said. "And after your success in apprehending Marsell, you're the logical choice." Quin and Makhabesh exchanged a glance.
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"Just one enchanted object, huh?" Makhabesh mused. "There's no time to make more," geometric said. The lone wizardess, with leaves and vines on her robe, addressed them: "You should pick complementary enchantments. But first, Wizard Quin must choose a new staff from the Staff Grove." Quin's eyes went wide.
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Staffs from the Staff Grove were the most powerful ones a wizard could have. Magical trees of every kind grew in the Grove. "We'll do it!" Quin said. Makhabesh whispered, "Are you insane? This smells like politics." Quin turned away from the others and whispered back, "For a staff from the Grove, I'd track down a dozen Marsells." "OK, but I get to pick the first enchantment." "Done."
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Quin wandered breathless through the Grove, gaping at all the magical trees. The wizardess in the leafy robe had explained that it was best to let the staff choose him. So he wandered. After nearly an hour, he thought he heard his name whispered on the wind, and turned to follow the sound. If that's Makhabesh, I'm going to be really disappointed.
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The geometric wizard had explained that it was best to enchant an object with which Makhabesh was already familiar, so he'd agreed to let them enchant his spider pendant. He flipped through a book of enchantments: healing, speed, a shield against magical attacks, another against physical attacks, the ability to entrance enemies.... I want them all!
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Quin stared at the ironwood tree that had called him. Bark so dark it looked black contrasted with leaves so white they seemed to emit light. At the base of each leaf, a small 3-petal flower grew, its white petals streaked with green, blue, and dark brown. "Quin, son of Omira by Aithen..." Quin's jaw dropped as the tree named his parents. "...come, receive the staff I have made for you."
146 Diamine Graphite
The staff protruded from the tree's trunk, held only by its tip. "Take this staff made from root and branch," the tree continued, "with strength and wisdom drawn from her who knows all who live upon her sphere." The branch and root entwined from the base to merge into a smooth, round handhold, then twined again to the top, where they split into tendrils holding a crystal sphere streaked like the tree's flowers.
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Quin wrapped his hand around the grip and felt it form to his hand as the staff came free of the tree. "Hold the staff in both hands and plant it in the ground while speaking the word 'shield' and it will shield you and those near you from attack," the tree said. "Cast your spells through its sphere and they will be strengthened. Learn its name and it will reveal the wisdom of the earth."
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When Quin returned to the palace, Makhabesh paced at the leafy wizardess' feet. Her face paled for a moment. "You have received a rare gift." Quin beamed as he explained the staff's powers. Makhabesh jumped up onto his shoulder. "Yeah, yeah, nice stick. Let's pick enchantments!"
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They practically flew through the rest of their time at the palace: enchantments were completed; the five counselor-wizards tried again, and failed, to scry the High Wizard's location; and they laded Quin and Makhabesh with food, water, and magical supplies - including a pouch-size infini-pack for Makhabesh, complete with mini notebook and mini pen with magical ink; Quin got his pen and notebook back, with extra ink, and a leather jacket with padded shoulders.
150 KWZ Green Gold
As they approached the gate through which the High Wizard had departed, geometric handed them a map. "The High Wizard was on his way here," he said, pointing to a spot further up the mountain, "to counsel with Kri Nachi, The Ancient of Goats. If you can find him, you may learn where the High Wizard disappeared to. Keep your wits about you - the goat-wizards can be dangerous!"
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Quin: "Should we have told them what really happened with Marsell?"
M: "Pfff, no." Quin spun his new staff. Makhabesh switched shoulders.
Q: "Yeah, they would've sent us anyway. We've probably been set up to take the blame if we can't find the High Wizard."
M: "That's what I told you. We can always run to Mom for protection." Quin shivered and Makhabesh spread his wings to avoid falling. (He was trying to use his claws less often.)
Q: "Ow! Get your wing out of my face! We should probably come up with a plan."
M: "Yeah, a better plan."
Q: "Right. Only we have no idea what's going to happen next."
M: "You should have gone for the enchantment that lets you see the future."
Q: "Maybe they'll give us a reward when we get back."
152 KWZ Walk Over Vistula
The next day, Makhabesh cocked an eyebrow when Quin began talking to his staff. "Don't worry, staff. I'll take good care of you. You can trust me." "You know that's a stick, right?" "Don't listen to him. He doesn't understand anything. When you're comfortable, you can tell me your name. It'll be our little secret." Makhabesh rolled his eyes.
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"My turn!" Makhabesh said once the fire was laid. Before Quin could beat him to it, he concentrated on the wood and his pendant, and shot a bolt of fire right on target. The wood whooshed into flame, sparks flying. Makhabesh cackled with glee. "That never gets old." "Next time you have to gather the wood," Quin muttered, quickly adding more logs to replace the ones Makhabesh had just turned to ash.
154 Van Dieman's Ink Blackened Seas
After several days of talking to his staff failed to yield any revelations, Quin asked Makhabesh, "What sort of name do you suppose a staff would have?" "How would I know that? I've never been on a first-name basis with a staff." He looked away and rolled his eyes. "I don't even know if it's a he or a she or maybe an it. Maybe it's more of a descriptive name: Staff of Earthly Wisdom." He held the staff in front of his face. "Is that your name?"
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"Goat prints!" Makhabesh jumped to the ground. "Goat smells, too," he said and launched into the air. While he circled, Quin followed the prints. "Goats inbound," Makhabesh announced as he landed on Quin's shoulder. "They've got a surprisingly tall tower, complete with stairs and watch-goats. You might want to warm up that stick of yours." Quin continued to follow the goat prints through the trees. By the time he spotted the tower, he also spotted a whole herd of goats racing toward them.
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The herd showed no sign of slowing. Quin took his staff in both hands. "Maaah," bleated the lead goat, and all the others bleated in response. "Shield!" Quin said as he planted his staff. The air seemed to waver around him, as if a thin layer of water surrounded him. The lead goat slammed horns-first into Quin's shield, followed by the second, while all the other goats flowed around him. "Maah, I win!" announced the first goat. "Mi-ine." Quin and Makhabesh exchanged a glance.
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The herd bleated and danced around Quin's shield, some battering their forehooves against it. Quin tried to get their attention: "We come--" A deep voice boomed from the direction of the goat tower: "Ma-ah!" and a man-sized goat stalked toward them on his hind legs. "Ba-ack to the village you ra-ascals!" he ordered. All but the first goat raced away. "Mi-ine," said the first goat. "He's a wizard," the big goat answered. "You cannot have a wizard. This one is for Kri Nachi." The smaller goat stomped away with a departing kick.
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"Thank you," Quin said. "We come in search of the High Wizard." "You'll have to talk to Kri Nachi about that," the big goat answered. "Follow me!" Quin followed as the goat led him past the watch tower and along a narrow trail up the mountain toward an even larger tower. "I don't like this," Makhabesh whispered. "Why?" Quin asked. "Remember the last time you were led into a tower?" Quin hesitated only a moment before following the guard into the tower. They were better prepared this time.
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"Ma-ah. Sphinx," Kri Nachi said, curling his upper lip. "Try to eat one of my herd and I'll roast you with magic!" "I prefer bacon cheeseburgers," Makhabesh answered. "Speaking of which," Quin said, "I brought a gift, most honorable Ancient of Goats." He carefully reached into his pack and pulled out a silver tray, then piled several cheeseburgers on it. "You brought cheeseburgers and didn't tell me?" Makhabesh demanded. Quin ignored him. "In gratitude for any help you might offer in finding our High Wizard."