FanFrog Chapter 2: Power of the Magi
There he sat at his wooden desk. His face illuminated by the candles before him. His eyes felt heavy. It’s not easy being the grand commander of a city like this. Lozeras, the dirty city. A shiver went up his spine at the thought. Slowly he swiped his finger over his desk and looked at his white glove. Spotless, that is how he liked it. His eyes fell on the papers in front of him. Reports from the guards. He smiled. Thank the gods it is them out there and not him. Dealing with those peasants and their pitiful requests. Oh dear, did you lose your child? Can you come back later? I am afraid I first need to find a care to give before I can help you. His smile transformed into a smirk.
A knock on his door interrupted his concentration. He rose his eyebrows and sighed.
The door opened and one of the guards came in.
“Commander, we got a civilian who wants to speak to you.”
The grand commander let his right index finger rest on his lips and slowly closed his eyes.
“In this office I would like to be addressed by my full title.”
The guard dropped his gaze and nodded.
“I am sorry, Grand Commander Hendrikson, protector of the city of Lozeras.”
Hendrikson smiled and motioned the guard to continue.
“Apologies accepted. What does he want at this hour? It’s the middle of the night.”
Before the guard could continue, he was shoved aside by a big man with a beautiful mono brow. Hendrikson looked at the peasant and felt a little annoyed by the events in his office. The peasants hands were covered in blood and filth. Dirty. So dirty. He stood up and raised his voice against the dirty man.
“What is the meaning of this? State your name and occupation.”
The big man stepped forward and sat down in the chair that was conveniently placed in front of Hendrikson’s desk.
“Me name is Barry. I am the butcher.”
The Grand Commander looked in disgust at the creature in that chair.
“In this office I would like to be addressed by my full title, mister Barry”
“No problem, boss man! Anything to help you guys catch that horrible creature that cursed me. Poor old Barry haven’t had a moment of rest since he appeared.”
Hendrikson rubbed both his temples with his hands. He felt a headache coming up. Just like the last time when he had to talk to a peasant in person. He hated it. It made him feel unclean. Dirty. Very dirty. Filth you couldn’t remove after a long day in a bathtub.
“What are you talking about, citizen? Please, from the start.”
“Alright, boss man! So it was around midnight. Or maybe a bit after. You see, I had a late dinner, because the corncobs were not grilled properly. You see, I am a vegetarian, so I really think about my diet.”
“Mister Barry? Stick to the essentials please. I haven’t got all day.”
“No worries, boss man. So I was sitting there and a little kid dared to steal from me. From little old Barry. So I grabbed the kid by his arm and was ready to drag him to the guards. Barry ain’t no pushover, you see. These are real muscles. Not fat. No, boss man. All of this package is as real as it gets.”
“Mister Barry, please?”
“Ah yes, well. So I was there, kid in my grasp and then it happened. The Anura showed up and cursed little old Barry.”
Hendrikson’s fist slammed his desk.
“Mister Barry, are you here to tell fairy tales?”
“No boss man. I really saw it. The blue eyes, the green skin, and his voice. Me mom did not raise a liar. Oh no, boss man. She did not!”
“Alright, mister Barry. Then what happened to this kid with his Anura?”
“I don’t know, boss man. I started screaming and they both ran away. Towards the forest. Must have been afraid of these puppies.”
The butcher flexed his muscles and kissed one of his biceps. Hendrikson ignored it and returned his eyes to the papers before him.
“That will be enough, mister Barry. We will look into this. If you can..”
“I ain’t going back there.” interrupted Barry. “That beast cursed me. No, Barry will wait here until that beast is gone.”
The butcher folded his arms and locked himself in the chair.
“Fine. Soldier, take two of your best men and comb the forest.”
“Yes, Grand Commander. What do we look for?”
“Apparently mythical creatures. Report back in the morning.”
The soldier performed a small bow and left the office. An uncomfortable silence entered the room and Hendrikson tried to dodge the gaze of the butcher.
“Can I get you something, boss man?”
Grand Commander Hendrikson sighed.
“No, mister Barry. I am good.”
Hendrikson returned to the reports and continued to ignore the new resident of his office. This is going to be a long day.
“I think this is the start of something special.”
Vroch and Noire looked up at the old man. The Anura sighed. Yep, this day just got worse. He rolled off the wolf en lay there in the wet moss.
“What have I done to deserve this? Do any of you know what I am? You should be afraid of me! Not trying to kill me. Or even worse, befriend me.”
Noire jumped up and growled at the old Magi.
“Oh, mister green face thinks he has it tough! Last thing I remember is having a great feast with my pack and then a blinding light appeared. And now I am bloody here. With an old man and my worst bloody enemy trying to be my friends.”
Vroch laughed and sat up.
“Ha, I never tried to be your friend. I had you beaten against the ground, because you fight like an idiot. Has no one ever told you anything about the art of combat.”
“It’s not bloody art. It’s called survival. And ripping you to pieces is on my survival list next.”
“Isn’t this great? So many stories to be told. So many perspectives. Haven’t felt this alive in ages! Let me introduce myself. The name is Adam Batin. Just your friendly neighbour in this forest. I want to invite you both to my splendid tower for some food. Maybe we can exchange stories.”
Vroch looked in amazement at the Magi and shook his head.
“I can’t come with you. I really can’t. I don’t even know who you people are. Only thing I know is that every stranger I ever met only had one thing in mind and that was my head on a pike. And let me tell you, that is not the life I want to live. So if you guys would excuse me, I am going home and meet up with my brother, like I promised him a few hours ago.”
Adam Batin raised his eyebrow.
“A brother? Is he..?”
“No, He is not like me. I am the last. The last Anura. At least I am now, since my gramps died. And why am I telling you this? Please, leave me alone.”
Vroch felt a tug at his cloak and saw a small man climbing up to his shoulder.
“So, ya are the Anura I heard so much about. Ya aint that bad.”
“What… are… you?”
Syco touched his white moustache with some angry twitches.
“Oi, manners! The name is Syco Trivaldos the Fourth. I am a gnome who made some strange decisions in life. Are ya afraid to come with us?”
The Anura sighed and looked Adam straight in the eyes. The Magi smiled.
“If you want to visit your home, then I’d like to come with you. I know this is a strange request but I am asking you to trust me.”
“Sorry, I really can’t trust you. I don’t know you. And I certainly will not trust that wolfbeast.”
Syco laughed and stood on Vroch’s shoulder, so he could reach the Anura’s ear.
“Ya can trust him. I vouch for that. He is a Magi, one of the last left.”
Vroch looked confused and leaned towards the gnome.
“What is a Magi?”
Adam Batin laughed and clapped his hands.
“Ah, I believe a little history lesson is required to earn some trust. Well, a long time ago humans developed a way to control the elements with the power of the mind. They called it magic. It was not a skill everyone possessed. Only a certain group within the population were able to use this magic and became known as the Magi.”
Noire rubbed his face with his paw. “That is a bloody stupid name.”
“Why do you think so, my forest friend?”
“What? Don’t bloody tell me you don’t think it is a bloody stupid name. Hey, how do we call those guys who can use magic? How about Magi? Great idea! Bloody stupid.”
The old mage smiled. “Simple names come from simple minds, Wolfman”
Noire growled and took an intimidating step forward “What did you just call me?”
“Wolfman. Look, I have come up with a name for all my forest friends. You are Wolfman, Vroch is Frogman, and this little guy here is Dwarfman.”
Syco rubbed his face and sighed. ”How many times do I need to tell ya that I ain’t a bloody dwarf. Gnomes are not dwarves, ya dense old git.”
Vroch smiled and looked at the old man. He was strange, but there was no malice in his words. No anger behind his eyes. Just a hint of sadness, hidden behind a wall of silly monologues.
“So?” The wizard looked at Vroch and then at Noire. “Shall we visit the home of the Anura?”
“I am not going”
Adam, Vroch, and Syco turned around and faced the black wolf.
“What do you mean, wolfman?”
“Are you bloody deaf? I am not going with you idiots. I am going to find a way back to my pack.”
Adam dropped his gaze and stroked his beard.
“And you believe you can do that on your own?”
“Listen here, you bloody old man. I don’t need help from anyone. I never did. Only help I need is that of my two claws. So, get out of my face”
Noire turned around and started to walk away. Adam sighed and threw his hands in the air.
“Looks like the legends about the Fenrir are indeed true. They are actually really stupid.”
The wolf stopped in his tracks and turned around slowly.
“What did you just say?”
“Stupid, Wolfman. I said stupid.”
The black wolf started to growl and walked slowly towards the Magi.
“Do you have a bloody death wish?”
“No, what a silly question. But let me rephrase what you just said. You were transported here by some magical force against your will and instead of sticking with the powerful magic user you just met, you would rather go out there on your own. In a world where every human would kill you on sight. Please, indulge. Doesn’t that sound a little bit stupid, Wolfman?”
Noire snarled and scratched his muzzle. His eyes shifted between the mage and the Anura. Adam took a step forward and laid his hand on Noire’s shoulder.
“I made a promise to my father to make sure the both of you stay alive. And that is not a promise I am willing to break. You have my word as a Magi and as a friend.”
“I am not your bloody friend.”
“That is right. But I hope I can change that in the near future.”
Noire looked at Adam, then to Vroch, and back to Adam. He sighed.
“Grrr. Alright, green boy. Lead the way.”
The first birds started to sing their songs full of joy. The sun had returned again after the dark night. Our friends arrived at a small wooden cottage in the middle of the woods. The walls were covered in moss and vines. The roof has seen better days.
Vroch entered the house and began to panick.
“He is not here. Why is he not here?”
Adam followed him in.
“Maybe he is just a bit late.”
“You don’t know my brother. He is always here first. Shit, did they get him?”
Adam walked through the old cottage and looked around. A few wooden beds, some books, a small place to prepare some food, and an old sword. He stopped and smiled.
“My good friend, might I ask you about this sword?”
Vroch stopped searching and looked at the old sword beside his grandfather’s bed.
“It’s my grandfather’s sword. He trained me and Darren with it. For him sword fighting was an art. A gentleman’s game.”
“Your grandfather sounds like a wise men to me, my forest friend.”
Vroch gave a lost smile.
“Guess your right. He left me that sword. Don’t know what I should do with that old rusty blade. Maybe I should just leave it be.”
“Carry it. Wield it. Cherish it. The blade needs a partner. That is what your grandfather would have said, if I know my arts of the blade as well as I think I do.”
Vroch smiled and touched the hilt of the sword. Suddenly Noire appeared in the door opening and growled. “Sniff, sniff, I smell company.”
Our friends step outside and see three soldiers moving towards the old cottage. Their blades were drawn and ready for confrontation. Their leader walked in front of them and had a big smile on his face.
“Well, well, well. Looks like we found something, lads.”
The shortest soldier stopped walking and pointed at Vroch and Noire
“What in the blazes are those creatures?”
The elder soldier laughed and nudged their leader.
“Looks like a frogman and a walking wolf to me.”
Shut up, lads. Old man! In the name of the protectors of Lozeras, we have come to take the Anura. Step away from the creature and you will not be harmed.”
Adam dusted of his robe and frowned his eyebrows.
“May I ask my good soldier friends here who gave you the order to seek the mythical creature, known to us as the Anura.”
The leader laughed out loud and nudged the older soldier back with his elbow.
“I am afraid I can’t tell you, sir. That is classified information.”
The Magi smiled.
“Interesting. So I can assume it is still Hendrikson.”
The three soldiers looked at each other with surprise in their eyes.
“How..how do you know the Grand Commander? Tell us!” blurted the youngest one.
“Oh no. please. An old man is very keen on keeping his little secrets. But I do want to ask my good soldier friends to deliver a message to your Grand Commander.”
Adam Batin’s smile turned into a grin. The air around the soldiers started to crackle. It was getting warm. Hot even. The morning dew on the leaves started to evaporate. The soldiers raised their swords and looked in amazement as the sword itself started to glow. The dark red glow became stronger and the blade started to lose its shape. Liquid metal dripped on the ground. The Magi snipped his fingers and two of the sword shatter in sparks of hot metal.
“Tell your Grand Commander that the Anura and Fenrir are under the protection of the last Magi. Now!”
As Adam raised his voice, he saw the three soldiers starting to run back into the forest, towards the city. Noire stepped forward and started to howl.
“Run, bloody fools. Next time I will eat your entrails.”
Adam scratched his head.
“Hmm, it looks like there has been a change of plans.”
“You let them go? Now they know where we are and who we are! This is the worst day of my life. I should have stayed home today, but no! Someone wanted to get real meat in the city. Great. And now everyone in that city knows there is an Anura out there.”
“Don’t worry, Frogman. I have an idea.”
Syco strokes his moustache and looks at Vroch
“Sigh, here we go again. Hope ya ready for it, Anura.”
“I think we should visit the Elves.” proclaimed the older mage.
Noire started to growl again.
The doors of the wooden office swung open and three soldiers stumbled in.
“Grand Commander, we came in as soon as we could. We..”
Hendrikson raised his head at the uproar in his office. His eyes met the three soldiers. A shiver went down his spine. In the back of his throat he tasted his own vomit.
“There is mud on your boots.” he stated calmly.
“Yes, we are sorry sir, but…”
“And the mud is now on the wooden floor in my office. Kindly go and freshen yourself up before barging into my office.”
Hendrikson waved his hand to signal them to leave again.
“But Grand Commander, we saw the Anura.”
“And please check in to the ward for an alcohol test.”
“Grand Commander, you don’t understand. There was also a Fenrir. A big bad wolfman.”
“Oh dear, looks like we don’t even need to wait for the test results.”
“Grand Commander, we are not drunk. But…”
Hendrikson slammed his fist on the desk.
“But what? I am losing my patience here.”
“We were attacked by a Magi.”
The Grand Commander sighed and rubbed his eyes, hoping that would clear his newly developed headache.
“Sigh. Soldier, I am not the type for fun and games and these jokes really don’t amuse me. The Magi are dead and we continue to destroy all the potentials as we find them. That is our job! I have seen the last Magi burn right in front of my eyes. And here you are telling me that you not only found two mythical creatures in that forest, whom will both destroy the world if we have to believe the stories our nan told us. But you also claim to have met a Magi. And how were you going to prove this nonsense?”
One of the soldiers stepped forward and dropped the melted sword on the Grand Commander’s desk. It was dirty. Melted and dirty.
“He did this to all our weapons, Grand Commander. A potential is in no way able to control the elements like this. This was a Magi. Fully in control of his powers. We got a real one, Grand Commander. He even mentioned your name and asked us to deliver a message.”
Hendrikson folded his hands together and rested both his index fingers on his lips.
“What did he say?”
“That the Anura and Fenrir are under his protection.”
“I heard enough. Get out. I need time to think.”
The soldiers closed the door behind them. Silence returned again to his office. He stood up and walked to the window.
“So Batin, you are still alive. Interesting.”
It was quiet for a moment, until a cough disturbed the silence.
“Can I get you something, boss man?”
Grand Commander Hendrikson sighed.
“No, Mister Barry. I am good. Could you please now remove yourself from my office. That would be grand. And ask the guard outside to get the cleaning crew in. This place is dirty.”