|Thaumaturjekyll: Book One chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7||Book Two chapter 8 9 10 11|
Home for the Hellish Days
by Jeffrey M. Mahr
©1999 Jeffrey M. Mahr -- all rights reserved
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
-- T. S. Eliot
"We're home," Mrs. Lanyon beamed as the five found themselves back in the family living room. "But how? Who was that?"
"A Dark God, that was." Akcuanrut settled himself in to Dr. Lanyon's favorite lounge chair with a tired groan. "Very strong magic, the Dark Gods have."
"Well, I'm sure as hell ready to get my old body back. Which saddlebag was the formula in?" Hastie glowered as her eyes danced from centaur to centaur.
"What happened to the saddlebags?" They were missing.
"Never mind, we've got more of the formula upstairs. I know I left some in... the lab. Oh hell, THE LAB!" she screamed and ran upstairs.
"Turn off the TSP device while you're up there. It's the yellow switch..." Dr. Lanyon trailed off as she realized the girl was already out of sight, and probably hearing. "I'll ask him when he comes down," the centaur muttered to herself.
"Hmmm, it's nice to be home, isn't it dear," Mrs. Lanyon sighed as he tiredly shifted hooves. "I can't wait to get into a warm bath and get a good night's sleep."
"Me too," Sonja chimed in. "I wonder what I'm going to tell my parents when I get home."
"Why the truth dear. What else?"
"Well I'm going to turn on the television set. I wonder how long we've been gone and what we've missed." Dr. Lanyon carefully maneuvered around the coffee table to reach it. Turning it on, she flipped to the cable news channel.
Seconds later all conversation except the muted sounds of the television stopped as Hastie dragged back into the living room. "The lab -- everything in it -- gone. It's like a damn tornado hit up there -- a TSP tornado."
Mrs. Lanyon hissed in shock while Dr. Lanyon slid her hand into her wife's and said nothing.
Hastie slumped to the couch and Sonja glided to her side. Sonja put an arm over her friend's shoulder for comfort.
"It's not that bad Hastie."
"Whaddya mean 'not that bad'?"
"We're alive." Suddenly Sonja's eye's budged as she realized what she had said. "All of us but D'lon-ra that is."
"D'lon-ra. Damn, what a horrible way to die."
"For a noble cause, his death was," Akcuanrut offered. "Remembered he will be, when I get back."
"But we're stuck like this," Hastie wailed although it wasn't clear whether the emotional display was for her body or the lost hero.
"Change you back, maybe I can." Akcuanrut opined.
Hastie glared up at the wizard. "You could have changed us back at any time and you didn't? Why the hell not?"
"Herbert Lanyon the Fifth, we're back home and I will no longer accept such language."
"Sorry Mom, but why did he leave us like this if he could have changed us back?"
"For your safety," Dr. Lanyon interrupted before Akcuanrut could respond.
"For your safety Hastie. You were a fit and healthy young man, but how much did you know about swordplay?"
"Come on Pop. You know my sport is football."
"That's exactly correct Hastie. You were a quarterback. What skills would you have brought to the quest we just completed as a football player?"
"I... Ah... Oh heck," Hastie glanced at his mother who was watching the television. "That's not the point. We shouldda been given a choice."
"Hastie, Hastie, Hastie," Dr. Lanyon tsked. "What choices? We barely survived. Look how often the skills Sonja and you brought to our group made the difference between life and death."
Hastie puffed up a bit as she listened to her father. "Yeah, I guess so. But where did we get those skills anyway?"
"Answer that I can," Akcuanrut chimed in. "Rules of magic there are and the Law of Similarity is one."
"What the he -- heck is he talking about?"
"Oh Hastie," Dr. Lanyon heaved a huge sigh. "Sometimes I lament for your education. May I?" The female centaur deferred to the wizard who gestured his permission.
"Can you state the Laws of Thermodynamics Hastie?"
"Of course. The First Law is..."
"That's all right Hastie. You don't have to recite them, merely recognize that they exist."
"Why?" Hastie pouted prettily. "Where the heck are you going with this?"
"Well, science has rules like the Laws of Thermodynamics. Magic has rules too." Dr. Lanyon said, and Akcuanrut smiled to show his agreement.
"But the rules of magic are different from the rules of science. I think one of the rules of magic is that function follows form."
"Correct, centaur," the wizard nodded.
Sonja scratched her head, "Isn't that backwards? I thought it was form follows function."
"Normally it would be," Dr. Lanyon paused. "No, I misspoke. Here, on this world, where science rules, the hypothesis would be 'form follows function.' Thus, a pair of scissors would be shaped with a sharp edge in order to be able to cut paper.
"On Akcuanrut's world, where magic rules, it is the opposite and function follows form."
"Fine, but if the lecture's over Pop, I still don't understand."
Dr. Lanyon threw her hands up and her wife stepped between the two before his husband began to lecture again. "Let me try dear."
Without waiting for a response, Emily began. "It's like right and left, yin and yang..."
"Yeah, I get it Mom. They're opposites."
"Right dear, but magic and science are true opposites."
"So what's with the function follows form?"
"They mean you got the shape of a barbarian woman so you start to think and act like a barbarian woman, Dumbo," Sonja scowled and sprawled on the couch taking Mrs. Lanyon's place watching the television.
Hastie scowled back at Sonja, and considered the beautiful intricacies of shape and form inherent in the image of her dagger sticking out of Sonja's back, although she didn't use those words in her thoughts.
"What are we going to do with the Heart of Virtue?" Dr. Lanyon tried to change the subject before there was actual bloodshed.
"A good question, that is." Akcuanrut tapped his chin in thought. "This dimension I know not, but someplace safe we need until sure you are all right I am. Then take it with me I will."
"That's it dear," Mrs. Lanyon spoke up. "The safe in the lab."
"Hello, Mom," Hastie couldn't help feeling superior. "I just told you that there's nothing in the lab. Weren't you listening?"
"Oops. You're right dear. How about the loose floor board in our bedroom closet?"
"Of course. That's perfect... but how are we going to get it there?" Dr. Lanyon made a broad sweeping movement to display her equine half.
"Whoa up a moment," Hastie smiled at the dour looks on his parents' faces.
"He's a wizard. He said he could change us back. Let him change us back and then he can take the Heart wherever he wants."
All eyes were on Akcuanrut. "Do that I cannot yet," he responded sadly.
"Why not? You are a wizard, aren't you?"
"A wizard I am, but here a poor one. Little magic in this world there is. Gather enough first, I must."
"Of course. The magic. That's why I felt wrong." Mrs. Lanyon's expression made it clear he agreed with his husband. "In the other world I felt a constant flow of energy that I could tap, but here it's barely a trickle."
"So we're stuck?" Hastie's hands went to her mouth in shock. "What are we going to do? What will Sonja tell her parents?" She stopped a minute. Something was wrong, something she'd said. "And why are we still calling her Sonja?"
"Slow down Hastie," his parents laughed. "We are what we are. Centaur or human, scientist or wizard, it doesn't matter. We are alive and a family and we will survive no matter what form we happen to have."
"Great, I'm a babe. You're both half horse. That's it?"
"Does it matter that you are female instead of male? I would think your father and I would have much more reason than you to be upset. We changed both sex and species. In this world we are as unique as the Heart of Virtue. Think what others would do were they to discover our existence."
"Well spoken Emily. And as to Sonja's parents, we should probably call them over and explain to them personally. Our families have been close for so long, I'm sure they will understand and help."
While the Lanyon's were talking Akcuanrut dragged the plastic wrapped Heart of Virtue over to his seat and opened it. One glance inside and he quickly interrupted the others. "Gone, it is."
"Huh? What's gone? Don't you dare tell us the Dark Gods have the Heart of Virtue after all this."
"No. Safe is the Heart. Missing is No-Nac -- or what was left of him."
"So the Dark Gods probably kept him back in the other world, right?"
"Keep him they could not. Too close to the Heart he was."
"You mean he fell out and is now a slimy puddle on the rug somewhere?" Akcuanrut didn't answer, but it was clear from his dour expression that he doubted the truth of Hastie's assessment of No-Nac's absence.
"So we've got a missing blob of evil creeping around somewhere?" Hastie asked incredulously. The wizard nodded.
"Okay folks. I think it's officially time for a brief psychotic break. Who's first? No takers, then if you'll excuse me..."
"Hastie dear, let's try keeping focused on helpful thoughts," Dr. Lanyon chided her son. "It looks like we're all out of the world saving business for a while. I would think our first consideration would be to get the Heart of Virtue to a safe place. Then we need to figure out how we're going to survive until we can return to our original forms. Finally, we need to help get Akcuanrut and the Heart of Virtue back to his world."
"I thought we agreed on stuffing the Heart beneath the den floorboard?"
"Yes Emily, but you and I are not designed to go up or down stairs right now. Hastie will have to do it."
"Sure. Okay. Give it to me." In an instance she was gone again returning to find everyone laughing.
"What's so funny? A gal could get paranoid here."
Taking several gulps of air, Sonja regained enough control to explain. "We were worried about being able to move about in this world, but that won't be a problem, at least tonight."
Sonja pointed to the television set. The noon news was on showing the date and a group of costumed kids. It took a few moments to sink in, but the date was October 31, Halloween, just one hour before the dance.
To Be Continued???
To the reader disappointed by the abrupt ending of this story, I offer an apology, an explanation, and a deciding voice regarding the future of this story.
The apology is for the non-ending. There are still a bunch of major issues to be resolved (i.e., the destruction of one or more worlds).
The explanation is that you've just witnessed another reality of the publishing profession, the deadline. In two months, including editing, rewriting, and formating, it just was not possible to write more.
The future of this story is uncertain. There are at least five more multichapter segments that can be written:
Whether these additional segments of the Lanyon Chronicles will ever be written is up to you. If you want more, you'll have to tell us, along with any special events you'd like to see happen. Just send us an email message and tell us what you want...