The Way of the Word

28. October 2010

The Gatherers – Chapter 39

Ghenni concentrated on Bolwyn. The crystal showed her the wizard on the volcano’s far side. He zipped back and forth, as if to make sure nobody was around. Satisfied with his findings, Bolwyn levitated farther up. He too called forth eldritch energies, shaping them into something he found useful for his plan against Wakano’s rage. In Bolwyn’s case, the energy took the shape of a plow. With a few simple gestures, the plow cut into the volcano’s side, gouging deep until Wakano’s fire flowed out of the wound Bolwyn cut into the mountainside. Bolwyn gestured again. His clothes were wet with sweat, moreso than they should be even if the sweat came only from the lava’s heat. His face reddened with effort, his face twisted with concentration. The plow cut deeper, deeper still, deepening the gouge, lengthening it. The deeper and farther the gouge went, the more lava spilled into it. The more lava flowed from the gouge, the less Terek had to deal with on his side. Instead, it flowed to the side of the island where no people were in danger, where all it could do was form strange shapes until it flowed into the sea.

Which, Ghenni now noticed, seemed more shallow than she had ever seen it before. Had Wakano’s fire evaporated so much water? She couldn’t imagine. No so much that one could notice. There was too much water in the sea for that. Wasn’t there?

So that’s what Habbassin’s up to.

Ghenni saw the djinn hover over the sea, his arms spread wide, concentrating on something on the horizon.

Ghenni let the crystal follow the djinn’s gaze until she discovered where all the water had gone.

It had gone into the giant tsunami that rapidly approached the island.

Ghenni looked up from the crystal. She tried to rise, but the ground shook too hard for a steady stand, so she decided against it. She looked past the mountain, at the horizon. Yes, there it was. Habbassin had really caused a tsunami. It grew rapidly, or seemed to as it neared the island and filled her view. It was eerily silent, not nearly as noisy as Ghenni would have expected. Then again, perhaps the tsunami’s noise was simply drowned out by the volcano’s.

“He must’ve lost his mind,” Ghenni muttered. Wasn’t one doom at a time enough?

Ghenni shook her head to clear it. No use staring at the giant wave. No use trying to get away either. Her reasons for staying had just doubled. There was no way she could get to a safe place in time. Provided there was such a thing as a safe place on this island. Ghenni didn’t think so. Her best chance lay with the trio of magic-users. One of whom had apparently lost his mind.

Ghenni concentrated on the crystal again. She saw Terek and Bolwyn. Both had completed their tasks. Working together, they actually managed to stop some of Wakano’s fire. Ghenni wasn’t sure how they did it. Nor did she care. The only thing that mattered was that they were succeeding. It didn’t look to be enough, though. The volcano still rumbled, still spewed rocks into the sky. Lava still spilled over the rim, although most of it now spilled into where the sea used to be.

Habbassin came into view. The others joined him. Terek and Bolwyn reached into their pouches and threw powders into the smoke-filled air. Habbassin gestured. The smoke gathered, changed its appearance.

Ghenni looked away from the crystal to look directly at the mountain again. She could barely make out the three figures hovering just beneath the darkness. She coughed once before realizing that the air was improving. The darkness above the three figures — it had to be all the smoke and dust Wakano had spewed forth. They were drawing it in, obviously. Through the crystal, Ghenni saw that the dust changed texture, became like a thundercloud. True to its new appearance, lightning flashed from the cloud. Ghenni shuddered. Considering how much dirt Wakano had spat out … She decided not to think about the size of the cloud, which still grew, blotting out the sun. Within moments, the only light was the red glow from the volcano, and the flashes of lightning from the giant cloud.

Then the tsunami arrived.

Silently, it hovered over the island for a moment, dwarfing even the mountain. The wizards threw some powder at it. Blue light arced from their hands at the tsunami as it collapsed … as it shrank … as it hardened … Ghenni could feel the chill even where she sat, as if the tsunami drew all the heat from all over the place. She rubbed her arm with her free hand. Something cold and wet touched it. Looking up, she saw fluffy white flakes tumble from the sky. Ghenni held out her hand and caught a couple of the flakes. They turned into cold water instantly. Ghenni looked at the mountain again, just in time to see the tsunami collapse into itself, the pieces falling into the volcano. Steam rose up where ice, for Ghenni was sure now that the wizards had turned the wave into ice, met lava. The steam rose, high into the air, where it was captured and conscripted into the cloud. The cloud released the water, raining down at the mountain, at the surrounding land, at Wakano’s fire. No, not rain, Ghenni realized. It released the same fluffy flakes that had once already caught her attention.

Slowly, whatever the magickal trio did took effect. Already the ground steadied. Wakano’s rumbling quieted. At first, it was replaced by the hissing of steam, but even that quieted down and seemed to cease.

Soon, everything had quieted down. Ghenni offered a prayer to Wakano, thanking him that he had spared them after all. She had barely finished when Habbassin, Terek and Bolwyn popped up next to her.

“I didn’t think it’d work,” Bolwyn gushed. “When you said you needed a tsunami, I thought you’d gone over the deep end. I really did.”

“But it worked,” Terek said.

“A stopgap, at best,” Habbassin said, raising his hands. “We’ve offered the lava a way of less resistance away from the village. We managed to reduce the pressure, clean up the air and cool it down a bit. That doesn’t mean it won’t blow up again, probably quite soon.” He turned to Ghenni, picked her up and held her high.

“We did it!” he cheered. Setting the girl down, he added, “At least we bought your people some time to find another island to stay on. I’m afraid Wakano’ll be pretty mad at being thwarted this time around.” Looking at the two men, he continued, “I couldn’t have done it alone.”

“Yeah,” Bolwyn said. “Can we go now?”

“Not yet,” Habbassin said. “We still have out work cut out for us.” He swept his arm to encompass all around them. “I’d say you still need to make amends for all this.”

“So what do we do now?” Terek said. He sounded even more tired than he looked. The rings under his eyes nearly frightened Ghenni.

Not as much as Habbassin’s grin did, when she caught a look at it.

“We’re going to make the volano erupt again,” the djinn said.

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