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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2196908
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Fantasy · #2196908
Mistakes were made.
Califf the Summoner


A terrible cry echoed throughout the tower. It was a cry of something from another world. The unnatural sound chilled the blood of a man standing in the narrow confines of a dark and winding stairwell. "I am Califf the Summoner, a powerful wizard feared on two continents," he mumbled to himself. "I will not be reduced to panic by a ritual summoning gone wrong." The ritual was supposed to have summoned a Lesser Shade--a servant creature--not a Night Horror.
         He desperately searched for a particular step--a step that was also a doorway. That doorway led to the control room of the Vanishing Tower. Feeling the grip of panic seize his stomach, he realized his fears were about to run wild. Forcing himself to overcome his emotions, he raised his hand. A small ball of arcane light glowed in it. He held it over his head. With the glare of light out of his line of sight, Califf finally caught sight of the step. Gathering up his shredded robes--which were soaked with the blood of his assistant--Califf quickly moved to the step.
         Again, the cry echoed up the stairwell, now accompanied by human shrieks of mortal terror and pain. The sounds were coming from the bottom of the stairway. Hastily, Califf gathered the manna from deep within him and sent it into the step he now stood on. It opened a dimensional doorway to the control room. As he crossed into the room, he glanced over his shoulder to see tendrils of dark fog coiling up the stairwell after him; then the doorway was gone. The ritual he performed had bound the creature to him; it would follow wherever he ran. Califf knew he had but one chance to save himself--the tower must be transferred to a place where there was bright sunlight. There was no time to do any calculations, so the transfer would have to be at random. This meant that there was an equal chance, however, that the tower would reappear somewhere it was night. He would have to take that chance. While the creature was occupied with killing his servants, he might have enough time to achieve the transfer.
         More screams came from below, more terrible than before. The pitiful screams almost touched the cold heart within Califf's soul. As he approached the control device, Califf drew the manna he needed from within himself. The room became illuminated with a soft light that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Nine large bookcases were spaced around the room, and between each a window. On top of each bookcase was a bird figurine. The birds were all birds of prey, but each figurine was a different species with a terrible visage. Only one figurine had its wings open as if to take flight--all the others had their wings folded at rest.
         As he looked at the one active bird, Califf mumbled, "Only one transfer left for this month."
         A sphere rested on top of a column in the center of the room--the tower's control device. The sphere and column were made of light and the stuff of magic. The transparent, golden sphere's surface was striped with twenty-four bright-yellow lines. The lines ran from opposite poles, dividing the sphere evenly. Inside the sphere was another sphere, lined as the first. Inside the second sphere was a third, and so on. In all, there were five spheres, each identical and each nested inside another. To anyone looking at them, this formed five layers of lines. Floating at the heart of the spheres was a tiny replica of the tower. Each lined sphere moved at the will of the operator. When the spheres were activated, they would form a pattern of intersecting lines at various angles within the spheres. Those patterns were the coordinates that sent the tower to a selected location.
         Califf approached the device. He passed his hands through its immaterial surface. In response to his touch, the yellow lines of light began to spin inside. Then, after a moment, the lines slowly came to rest. When the lines stopped moving, Califf closed his eyes and poured in the manna he had gathered. Bright golden light exploded out of the device. Outside, it would look to anyone watching like the tower lifts from the ground, ripple in the air, and vanish.
         On the inside, the tower immediately started to rock and sway like a ship on a stormy sea. Califf strained to call up more manna. As he did, the tower slowly stabilized and came under his control. Gray, formless space flashed by the windows at incredible speed, then abruptly ceased. The final bird figure was now at rest, its wings folded.
         Califf stumbled backward from the control device and sat down heavily on the floor. He had overspent himself in the transfer, and his manna was exhausted. He looked out the nearest window. He could see a star twinkling in the night sky. Darkness. His panic swelled and overcame him. Perhaps, he thought to himself, the creature would not be able to find him here in this hidden room. Even as that desperate thought entered his mind, he could see the first tendrils of the Night Horror snaking through the windows. The creature had climbed the outside of the tower to reach him.
         The tower had arrived in a thick forest. Its nocturnal animals paused when it appeared. The quiet night was soon interrupted by tortured human screams. The conical tower was engulfed in a dark cloud--the Night Terror. Suddenly, the cloud seemed to grow. It shuddered, and then the horrible screams faded to silence. One of its tendrils pulled a broken human body through a too-small window and flung it aside. The body landed a few feet from the tower's open main gates. Moments later, the quiet returned to the forest and its creatures resumed their activities. Months pass. The forest creatures become accustomed to the tower's presence, but even the insects somehow knew to avoid touching it.


© Copyright 2019 F. H. Armstrong (frankarms at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2196908