Part 2 of a short story in Crux about an elderly witch, Yorani Cruxi Ama'Ka and her boring night at the Banker's Ball.
First Part | Part 3
"Well, at least something interesting happened." I struggled to my feet. I remembered it not taking so long, it felt a eternity to execute the action.
"You wanted a party," Adanya purred. "You think they've been hiding here or are they going to make a daring entrance?"
"Ugh." I shrugged. "5 wands that the idiots drank invisibility potions."
"Ropes of climbing. Been awhile since I last saw them." Adanya leaped onto the table. Her eyes glowed with a bit of purple. I remembered that look.
A crowd of people had circled around the dark mess left behind by the photographer's explosion. I didn't join the young people gawking in horror. I've seen enough dead bodies. No, I anticipated the arrival of the people looking to make a distraction.
"Rich leeches of Crux!" A voice boomed from the stage, materializing next to the Voice. She wasn't stunned, but her people were quick to put themselves between her and this new threat.
I squinted at the figure. A skinny man in stained overalls. He wore a light blue mask. The eyes looked like they were crying, tears painted in teal streaming down the left cheek. Azuro. I hadn't seen an Azuro mask since I was a little girl. The man acted like he had authority. He derived it from the shotgun in his arms.
"For too long have you fed on the poor!" The man sounded young to me. Maybe twenty? Idealistic and his Sabizi accent was familiar.
"Dang. I really wanted to see ropes of climbing." Adanya moaned, disappointed.
"You owe me five wands." I told my familiar. I tried to warn whatever security the Banker had here. My voice didn't carry. Frustratingly, it was drowned out by the crowd and the young bravados working for the Banker.
A trio of young Gunslingers rushed the stage. Probably eager to prove themselves in front of the Voice.
"No!" I tried to get my voice to carry. I wish I had some magic to help me with that. Wind magic never was my forte. "He isn't the only one here!"
Another flash of light. I lifted a hand to mask the bright shock as the three young fools were knocked unconsious by the flash grenade. Adanya hissed, annoyed as well. Young people, they never listen.
A second Azuro joined the first one. This one looked like a slip of a girl, her clothes more rags. It reminded me of days long gone bye, taverns and others long gone.
"See?!" The first Azuro's voice boomed. The crowd muttered, starting to grow quiet with fear. "That's right. I've got people invisible, all over this room. You are all going to listen to me leeches, you better listen well.
"Revolution is coming, and we are here to mourn those you tread over. We don't want to hurt any of you. So. You all are our prisoners until-"
"Oh please, that's the worst kind of kidnapping speech." I spat. Everyone in the ballroom turned and looked at me. I stood up, my knees wobbling. Twins-damn it, can't old age let one witty retort go without reminding me of it? "No, little boy, you do not get to wear a monster mask and play revolutionary."
The Azuros barked laughter at me. "Ma'am, please. We don't want to hurt you."
The young woman in the Azuro mask leaped down toward me. She cartwheeled across the floor. A pistol materialized in her fingers as she tumbled in my direction. Another Sabizi. How many of the greenfolk had been duped into this little show?
She stopped in front of me. Despite the somber mask, I could hear her giggling under the mask. "Grandmother, just sit down. Don't want you to get worried, 'kay?"
I shook my head. I paused, then in Sabi I used a tone a voice I had only used with my children when they were very young. "I am Yorani Cruxi Ama'Ka, Girl, and I will not be humored like that. Do you need a lesson in respect from an elder?"
Taken aback, the young Azuro girl flinched. Then she kicked me in the chest.
Excitement. Right. This was much better than the boring ball before.
I crumbled to the ground, clutching my chest. That hurt. No respect for her elders. I coughed. I thought I could hear Durrig in the distance yelling.
"Lady, you're old, and you're rich. Shut up, and we don't have to be any rougher." The Azuro girl looked down at me. Looked down at me. "Don't let yourself get hurt over this, it's justice. Maybe you'll learn something about what really goes down in this town."
"Plea-please..." I let fake tears stream down my face. I didn't want to trick the idiot little brat, but clearly she didn't know how far out of her league she really was. "I'm sorry... it hurts..."
She paused, then offered a hand to me. I took it. I smiled.
"Idiot. Onodyiana! Fey Lady of the Everthorn! I beseech thee!" My witchcraft sizzled into life. This girl and her friends knew nothing about magic. I figured as much when she kicked me. Those without magic seem to think it doesn't have anything to do with pain.
Magic is pain. My worst hurts all were magical. Old age, childbirth, even being stabbed, all of that pales in comparison. That's what makes it so addictive to those of us burdened with sorcery. Ecstatic pain courses through every spell we cast.
So I also knew how to work through the pain. Enough to lay a curse that the Azuro girl playing villain never saw this coming. Black energy crackled between us. Nothing permanent, but a lesson she would remember. I traded years with the young little brat.
My body shifted and melted. Fifty years disappeared. The girl on the other hand, gasped in pain. She fell over. An old woman's voice creaked out of her.
"My..." Her hair crinkled, fading from shining black to gray.
I felt great. My dress flopped awkwardly. Oh well. I heard bullet shots ring out. I waved a hand, moving fast. Faster than I had in years. Magical shields deflected bullets. I giggled.
My voice sounded young too.
"Idiots. You don't fucking kick a Sabizi witch, even if you wear silly Azuro masks."