The Lord of the Socks
Episode 9: Bone to Pick
I took off running down the hill with the skeletons close behind. To my dismay, they still managed to keep up with my magic socks. I abandoned the trail hoping it would slow them down. It didn’t. As I ran, I noticed a ravine to my right with a grove of twisted and dead trees along it. Perhaps I could lose my speedy pursuers in there. I turned and headed into it.
Okay, it seemed like a good idea until I ran at full speed into a tree. Trust me, that doesn’t feel good. I careened off the trunk and tumbled for several yards before I came to a grinding halt face first in some dry moss. My shoulder screamed at me, but I knew I couldn’t waste time figuring out if I broke anything because my undead friends were closing in. I jumped up and ran again without looking back, spitting moss out as I went.
I had to slow down in order to avoid running into any more trees. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see all the low lying limbs. Too often I smacked into them, giving myself several cuts and lacerations. Some of them were quite deep, too. I bled enough to fear I might pass out from blood loss.
I realized I had to get out of the grove. The skeletons were gaining on me since they didn’t have to worry about flesh wounds. My best chance was out in the open, so I headed out of the grove and back to where the rest of my group was frozen in time. I hoped Korac had found a way to counter the spell and that they would be ready to help me.
When I reached the edge of the grove, I could feel the skeletons right behind me, breathing down my neck. Okay, maybe not breathing, but you get the idea. I willed all the energy of my soul into my socks, wishing for them to carry me faster than they ever had before.
To my surprise, it worked. My speed increased and a comfortable distance soon opened between me and my friends. Hah! No lousy, creepy skeletons were going to get the best of me and my magic socks.
My elation ended when my feet stopped suddenly. It was as if they had been caught in entangling vines. I tumbled head first to the ground, rolling along until I came to a complete stop. When I attempted to move my legs, they seemed bolted in place. Panic surged within me as I realized that the time binding spell had finally caught up to me. But why could I still move my arms and torso? It was only my feet that refused to move.
The undead soldiers slowed and formed a circle around me with their weapons ready. Once they had me surrounded, they didn’t move. They just stood there and stared down at me with their empty eye sockets.
At first, I lay there, frightened. The longer it lasted, though, the more my feelings shifted from fear to anger. “What are you just standing there for? Are you going to kill me or not?”
“Myrick,” I heard the eerie voice say again. I couldn’t tell where it came from.
“What?” I asked, looking quickly from skull to skull to try and determine the speaker.
The voice answered, “Myrick, get your fool head down!”
I didn’t know what that meant for sure, but I did as the voice commanded by diving down and covering my head.
“Kalendebra!” the voice shouted. A bright light exploded around me and I heard bones clatter against the rocky ground.
I tried to look up to see what had happened but I had become blinded by the sudden light. All I could see was a bright blur. Footsteps crunched toward me. I tried to see who or what it was, but my eyes still didn’t work.
“Well, are you just going to lie there all night or what?” It was Sister Nyn’s high, scratchy voice.
I blinked a few times before I could make out her silhouette. “Sister Nyn. Boy, am I glad to see you. I thought I was history.”
“Well, if you’d just listened to me back when you were next to the rest of your party, I could have stopped them then. But no, you had to go dashing off. It’s a good thing you looped back in my direction or you would have been history. Now get up and get back to your mission.”
I tried to move my feet again, but they still wouldn’t budge. “I can’t. I think my feet got caught in that time binding spell.”
“Nonsense.” She took my boots off and checked my feet. “You’ve drained the magic from the Anklets of Arnabet.”
“Drained? What do you mean by that?”
“Magic doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.”
“Of course it does,” I said. “It’s magic. Magic is supposed to do magical things.” Something dawned on me. “Wait a second. How did you know about my socks?”
“Father Jem told me.”
“But I never told Father Jem. How did he know?”
“Father Jem knows many things.”
I sat up and looked at my feet. Sure enough, my magical socks no longer glowed. I reached down and tried to remove them but they were still firmly attached to my skin. “Drat. If they’re drained, why won’t they come off?”
“Because you are still bound to them. They’re recharging now.”
“How do they recharge?”
“Don’t you know anything? They have to slowly absorb any magic or life force around them.” As she said this, a faint glow returned to my socks to cast a soft light on Sister Nyn’s face. Wow, was she cute.
I could move my feet again. I stood up, noticing how my body was covered in blood from my many wounds. I couldn’t move my left shoulder without a lot of pain. “Ow.”
“Let me see,” Sister Nyn said as she examined my shoulder. Without warning, she grabbed it and yanked hard on my arm. My shriek had to have been loud enough to awaken every remaining dead body in all three of the neighboring kingdoms.
“Don’t be such a baby.”
“That hurt like cabbage!” I said, taking my arm back and rubbing my shoulder. It did feel better, though.
“Now, let me see to your cuts.” She took a jar of ointment from her bag and started putting it on my wounds.
“Whoa! That stinks.” And it did, too. It smelled worse than the time Nut-boy got into a batch of bad almonds. You wouldn’t believe the smells that came out of that kid for the next three days.
“It’s a healing salve Frbg taught me how to make.”
I shook my head and laughed. “That Furbag. Gotta love the guy.”
“Frbg is the alpha female.”
“Oh.” As Sister Nyn continued administering to my injuries, I had to admit I enjoyed her touch. I knew I might not get another chance, so I risked it. “So, Sister Nyn, when this is all over and things return to normal, would you like to be my girlfriend?”
She stopped and looked me in the eyes, her expression impassive. “No.” She returned to her work.
“No? Look, I’m not a bad guy. I’m good looking, smart, have a great sense of humor, I’m fun at parties, and I’m good looking. You couldn’t do any better.”
She pointed at her robe. “I’m a monk. I’ve taken an oath of celibacy.”
My hopes sank. “Oh. Well, if you ever change your mind, you can find me at Castle Fringol.”
“Don’t wait up for me.” She finished the last spot on my cheek and closed the salve jar. After putting it in her bag, she pulled out a bone fragment. “Here, take this.”
“What is it?” I asked as I took it.
“It’s a part of Arnabet’s thigh bone.”
I dropped it and snapped my hand to my chest. “Ew.”
“Careful!” She snatched it back up and handed it to me again. “It took a long time to find a piece still big enough after your barbarian friend finished with him. You will need this to defeat Xern.”
“What am I supposed to do with it?” I grimaced as I took the piece of bone and put it in my pocket. I wiped my hands on my pants.
“It still contains a part of Arnabet’s essence. Father Jem thinks it should be able to reactivate the binding spell Arnabet put on Xern.”
“How do I use it?”
She shrugged. “That’s not my problem. My mission was to find the bone and get it to you. The rest is up to you.”
“Up to me? You’re not coming with me?”
“No. I’ve completed the mission Father Jem gave me. Now I need to get back to Gtk. She’s about to have a baby any day now.”
“Isn’t this a little more important?”
She shrugged. “Maybe, but I am not needed for this. I don’t know why, but for some reason Father Jem has faith in you.”
“Well, I don’t know why, either. I’m totally clueless on how to stop an ancient sorcerer. Everyone else is under the influence of that binding spell so I can’t get help there.”
“You’ll be fine.” She stood up and put her satchel over her shoulder. “Good luck.”
I looked about at the skeletons lying around me. I pointed at them. “Can you at least tell me how you did this?”
“It was a spell Father Jem taught me. It takes a couple of years to master. You don’t have that much time.” She turned and walked down the hill.
“Wait. Come back, you can’t leave.”
She continued on, ignoring my pleas.
I sighed before shouting down to her, “Give my best to Gutuk. Say ‘hi’ to Furbag for me.”
She slipped into the darkness, leaving me alone.