Journey to Esidarap - Part Five
The trip to Plyse turned out to be easier than Kate expected. Shortly after she dozed off, a passing wagon woke her. After a few pleasantries, she was able to get them passage straight to Plyse. The owner of the wagon was a merchant headed for Plyse and agreed to take them for a small charge. Small it was not except for maybe a rich merchant. During the weeks it took to get to Plyse, Lisya had been withdrawn. She said nothing and just sat there with Buba's head tucked firmly between her arms.
Plyse itself was as Megan had described. The town's people were not thrilled someone was seeking out the wizard, but when Kate announced that they were, in fact, companions to the Wielder, a celebration wove through the crowd. Murmurs of the soon to be dead wizard rang out with cries of glorious triumph. Little did they know the wizard would still be there until the end of time.
The wizard lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of town. A fat old cow chewed at the grass with watchful eyes as they approached. Some of the color had come back into Lisya's eyes as the thought of Buba's rescue--assuming it was still possible now--lingered ever closer to reality.
Kate reached toward the door with the intent of knocking. It opened, however, before she could. A short, fat man stood there and eyed the women with lecherous greed. "Helloooooo ladies!" he bellowed with a wink for each of them. "What can I do for you on this fine and quiet evening? Surely the Wielder didn't send you two to do his bidding."
"We're not here to kill you," Kate said. She was uncomfortable with the way he was looking at her, but she did her best to hide it. They needed him, after all, as much as that sickened her. "We need your help, actually."
A sob caught in Lisya's throat as the wizard laughed merrily. "Well come in, come in! Please. What kind of aide of fine looking young women would I be if I just let you all stand out here with Betsy!" He glanced at his cow and bellowed: "Moooooo!" The cow looked at him as if he was insane. Kate believed it was so.
The inside of the cottage was crowded and dusty. Shelves upon shelves of musty old books gathered dust from the passing years of being ignored. They passed several tables that were overflowing with miscellaneous items, most of which Kate couldn't begin to comprehend. Some of them most certainly didn't belong in this world--Brand or Buba would have recognized them, though.
"Sit, sit, my dears. You're in for a fabulous treat today! My monkey servant Redass makes a very special pie for dessert. You'll have to stay for that. No arguments!"
The furniture appeared even older than the books. When Kate gingerly took a seat on the sofa, something creaked with warning underneath her. "You see," Kate said, "our friend was turned into a statue and we can't undo it." Simple and to the point. Was this really the evil creature Megan made him out to be?
The wizard without a name glazed at Lisya's armful of Buba's head and laughed merrily again. "You just brought his head! I don't think he'll appreciate me returning him to his former self without his body!"
"Well... you see, there was an accident and his head kinda... you know, came off." Kate glanced at Buba's head in Lisya's arms. "We were wondering if that would be a problem."
"Not at all, dears. Not a problem. Let me tell you, if I have a silver coin for every time someone accidentally got his head knocked off, well, I'd be a rich rich wizard. Oh, wait, I already am a filthy stinking rich wizard. So, I'd be richer. But, anyway, no. That's not a problem. He probably won't even notice he never had his head."
Lisya was staring at the wizard now. Her eyes were round as saucers and filled with a deadly glazed look of unexpected hope and endless ecstasy. "Do you lie?" she cried out. "Or can it be you actually can undo this horrible tragedy?"
"Yes, yes. Not a problem, I said that like a hundred times already, didn't I?" he asked Kate.
"What do you need from us?"
The wizard shrugged. "Just give me his head. I can get the rest of him here with that." He reached out for the head, but Lisya jerked away as if he were poisonous. Perhaps he was.
"She's pretty screwed up, huh?" he asked. "Never fear, pretty lady. I'll bring your father back to life and all will be right in the world."
"Uh." Kate cleared her throat. "It's not her father, it's her... close friend." Her eyebrows shot up with emphasis.
"Oh my! Mistake, mistake. Please forgive, Madame." The wizard rested a gentle hand on Lisya's shoulder and said soothingly: "Just relax, dear. Hand me the head and relax. All will be right in the world when I'm done."
His voice had a hypnotic quality to it and Kate found herself willing to do just about anything for him at that moment. She was more than a little thankful he was talking to Lisya and not her.
Without hesitation, Lisya handed over the head. The wizard then set it on the floor, sprinkled a little dust on it from a pouch on his belt, and murmured a few ancient words. Within seconds, the stone form of Buba's body appeared next to the head. Kate watched with unbelieving eyes, and a bit of star-struck admiration.
The wizard picked up the head and placed it carefully on the neck of the statue where it belonged. First he rubbed a little of his magic dust on the broken halves and after sticking them together, he again murmured a few choice words. The cracks in the statue where it had come apart disappeared like... well, magic.
"Good as new!" he proclaimed. His jolly demeanor was becoming contagious. Kate felt more relaxed than she had since their encounter with Zadara. She really liked the old guy and wondered, briefly, if Megan really had warned them or if that had been some kind of self-imposed memory based on predetermined facts about evil wizards.
"Now," he said, "bringing him out of the statue will be a bit harder." He eyed Lisya with thought.
Kate couldn't explain it, but she knew he was lying. How could it be hard? Everything else he did seemed to happen as if it was second nature for him. He was up to something, but, frankly, she didn't seem to care.
"All right, ladies," the wizard said. "This will require some help on your part. The one who loves him--especially if she is the one responsible for this, and I think she is--will need to come forward and press her love against the statue!" That lecherous gaze was back. The horny bastard was getting off on this. Kate knew it and it made her feel sick to her stomach, but she felt so relaxed and at ease that she still found she didn't care.
Lisya approached Buba's cold, rocky body and wrapped her arms around it. "Like this?" she asked uncertainly.
"Your whole body needs to rub up against him! Like you're a cat and he is a tree. Rub him, my dear, rub him with all your loving might."
Snap out of it, Kate. The voice came out of nowhere and whacked Kate like a slap across the face. The easy going feeling that had encompassed her flew away like that and she felt like throwing up. There was a sickening feel of dread coursing through her that she hadn't noticed before. Whatever spell had made her deaf, dumb, and blind was gone. Now she was aware and it took everything she had to pull herself together.
"Stop it, Lisya," Kate said hesitantly. "Step away from the statue!" She glared at the wizard. "You, you sick pervert, undo the statue spell already. None of this make-out-with-the-stone-man-for-the-disgusting-wizard's-perverted-fantasies shit."
That's it. You go girl! Tell him you know about the cow.
Kate glanced around. It was Megan's voice in her head. She didn't know about the cow, but trusted Megan, so: "I know about the cow, you freak!"
The wizard let out a yelp and roughly pushed Lisya aside. "Okay, enough loving! I can undo the spell now!" He eyed Kate suspiciously, wondering if she really did know about how he enjoyed the cow. Was that so wrong? He was lonely out here and the cow gave him pleasure he couldn't find anywhere else. He couldn't risk it, though. He tossed a good helping of magic dust over the statue and murmured the words that would reverse the spell.
At first nothing happened. Then the statue of Benjamin Bufford Bleu began to shake. It was all over after that. Buba burst through the stone walls of his prison cell with an explosive force. The stone flew off of him and turned to dust as it slammed into the walls.
He stood there a moment, gazing at nothing in particular. Then Lisya tackled him with a scream of delight. "Ben! You're back. It's really you!"
Being unfamiliar with such hands on experience from a woman made Buba extremely self-conscious. His bearded cheeks burned a fiery red, and you can bet his body reacted to Lisya's touch. Shyly he eased her away and tried to get his bearings. "What happened?" He couldn't remember much. That guy Greg might have been there when everything went blank but he couldn't be sure.
The wizard looked at the reunion, still dreading Kate and her sudden revelation that she knew about Betsy the cow. "Time to go," he said quickly. "I forgot, there's much I have to do before dinner. I regret none of you can stay!"
He shuffled them out of his house as fast as he could, careful to avoid so much as glancing at the cow while they were around, then slammed the door on them with relief.
Buba didn't know what was going on. There was this immense feeling of peace and then... poof, reality was back and the world felt as terrible as ever. Nothing compared to what he was feeling before. But he couldn't say he was upset. It was good to see Lisya again and she didn't appear to be mad at him anymore. Quite the opposite, actually.
"There's a lot to catch up on," Kate said. "Let's head back to town first."
All the way to town was like a dream come true to Buba. Lisya was all over him, not wanting to let go for the world. He felt greatly embarrassed by all the attention; at the same time, it was the best feeling he'd ever experienced. All his life he'd know what it was love another person but never had he actually experienced the love returned. Not in this manner. If only his neck didn't feel so awkward, then everything would be all right.To be continued...