Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lady Elaryindril & Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Book III, Part 4

LE&CKQ-Book III, Part 4.jpg

the Quarterback

Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie
by Marty Reeder

Book III:
The Wraith Lord

Part 4

“You’re the Chosen One?” Mr. Cowles questioned while looking Cyrus up and down. Elaryindril noticed that this image of Mr. Cowles held similarities to the one of Mrs. Avalon with the same dim, holographic scene, except that instead of showing snippets of Mr. Cowles’s lectures, this vision had Mr. Cowles responding in real time to everything that they were saying.

“You’re the Wraith Lord dude?” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback equally looked Mr. Cowles up and down. The teacher’s large glasses magnified his squinty eyes. His black, stringy hair crawled down to his forehead and ears. His lanky hands fell despondently to each of his sides. The only thing that added light to the otherwise murky image was his white lab coat.

“Elaine Hatch?” Mr. Cowles had suddenly recognized Elaryindril in the background.

“It’s Lady Elaryindril,” she corrected.

“Whatever, Elaine,” Mr. Cowles grumbled in return. Now that the original shock of seeing each other had worn off, Mr. Cowles followed up with. “This explains why you skipped 4th period.”

Elaryindril reflected for a moment. It was jarring to try to think of their original world, even after only having been in this one for a little over an hour. “Did we end up taking that quiz on chapter five or did you put it off for tomorrow?”

Mr. Cowles found himself in automatic teacher mode. “Well, we didn’t take the quiz, but you’ll have to get someone’s notes, because I clarified the Kepler model, which will certainly be on the quiz tomorrow.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback shook his head. “Um, can you guys work this out later? First of all, why is Mr. Cowles the Wraith Guy in some crazy, other-world kingdom?”

Mr. Cowles turned his gaze back on Cyrus and scowled. “Can’t figure it out on your own, Cyrus? You always did need help on school work, didn’t you, Cornerback Boy?”

“Quarterback,” Cyrus corrected.

Mr. Cowles shrugged off Cyrus’s statement. He repositioned his glasses up and down--something Elaryindril recognized as him meaning business--and then took control. “Now, I’ll be asking the questions. I need to know exactly how you got to that world.”

Elaryindril about responded, but Cyrus held his hand up and whispered to her, “We never let the other team know our plays.” He turned to Mr. Cowles. “First you tell us how you became the Wraith Dude.”

Mr. Cowles’s squinting eyes seemed to burrow into Cyrus, but the Crater High quarterback stood his ground. Finally, Mr. Cowles seethed between clenched teeth. “If either of you don’t want to be turned over to Vice-Principal Miller for skipping class, then you’d better tell me how you got there right now!”

Cyrus shrugged. “We’re not even in the same world as Crater High School, so both you and Vice-Principal Miller have about as much power as a waterboy who missed the bus to the big game.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” Elaryindril whispered to Cyrus from the side, “You don’t have his class this trimester.” Cyrus ignored her.

Mr. Cowles’s hands clamped shut as he replied, “Excellent point, Cyrus Knowles. If only you’d shown as much capacity in my class last trimester, you might’ve got a decent grade.”

Cyrus turned to Elaryindril and clarified, “It was decent enough to pass the class and still play football.”

“But you assume that I don’t have the means of affecting you in that world,” Mr. Cowles continued, “and that isn’t true. If you haven’t been made aware, I’m pretty respectable in the Kingdom of AtoL.”

“Well, you’re feared,” Cyrus acknowledged, “But that don’t make you respectable.”

Mr. Cowles’s thin jaw hardened. “You sure act like the cocky little hero, don’t you? We’ll see how much of a hero you are when I match you against my minions from that world!”

Though Elaryindril felt all the urgency of an epic showdown between two opposing forces of good and evil, something she had always dreamed of being a part of, she felt she had to sit this one out. She did, after all, have a quiz in Mr. Cowles’s class tomorrow and she could not afford to get a bad grade on it.

“Minions?” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback’s confidence seemed to rise more as their conversation continued. “Do you mean the fish, buffalo, and bats?”

“I … well, yes,” Mr. Cowles replied.

“‘Cause they weren’t that big of a problem for us,” he nodded his head towards Lady Elaryindril. “Did you have something else? I hear the wärgo thingies are on their way. Do you want to watch us handle them too?”

Gåtesbuî the Great, who had been more than a little bit confused by this whole conversation, finally gathered enough to mutter. “Wait a second … how did you get into this fortress?” He turned to Mr. Cowles, “Oh Master of Complicated Numbers, you directed the Caped Horned Beasts and Night Shriekers to repel any intruders, not to mention having the guards block the entrances and monitor the perimeter.” He looked back in awe at Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback and Lady Elaryindril. “There is some powerful force at play here if these two, without the aid of Dëwht-åh-mæhrø, were able to vanquish these security measures.”

Mr. Cowles glared at Cyrus and Elaryindril for a moment as he considered what happened. Then his hard face weakened. He sighed and said, “Gaytesbuee, why don’t you step out for a moment. I want a word alone with these two students … er … I mean, ‘heroes.’”

Gåtesbuî the Great seemed about to protest, but the look on Mr. Cowles’s face--the same look he used when students came into his room tardy, Elaryindril recognized--made him rethink. Gåtesbuî the Great instead cowered towards one of the chamber’s numerous exits. As he disappeared, Mr. Cowles added, “You will be given directions soon enough.”

Once the diminutive servant vacated, Mr. Cowles turned back towards Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback and Lady Elaryindril. “I’ll tell you a little bit, but then you need to tell me how you got there.”

“We’ll see,” Cyrus responded, determined to maintain control of the situation.

Surprisingly Mr. Cowles acceded. “I was preparing an experiment in electromagnetic fields for class in my lab office just a few months ago. When I moved the electromagnetic currents to just the right spot, I suddenly noticed that I could see an image of another place floating between the conductors. I tried to figure out where the place was for days, but there weren’t a whole lot of clues. It pretty much just showed marshes and fog, and that’s about it.

“Finally, one day a man was walking past and I said out loud, ‘I wonder who that is?’ To my surprise, the man turned my direction and went white. I couldn’t believe that he could hear and see me. Turned out, the guy was that bumbling shorty, Gaytesbuee.”

“Ahem,” Elaryindril could not help but interrupt, “It’s Gåtesbuî the Great.”

Mr. Cowles squinted over at Elaryindril. “Whatever. Anyway, as I spoke with … with … with that Gayt Guy, he kept on thinking I was some kind of god. He kept on calling me ‘Lord’ and a bunch of other titles. He told me that I was his ruler and he would hand over the Kingdom of AtoL to me if he could be my Royal Steward … or something along those lines.”

“So you let that dude talk you into being the head honcho of a kingdom from another world?” Cyrus asked.

Mr. Cowles shuffled a bit. “I guess I … well, I’d just applied for a vice-principal job at Crater Middle School and they told me that I didn’t have what it takes to be a ‘leader.’ I knew they were wrong, and then this came up at a time I felt like I could prove it.”

“So the next time you applied for a job you were thinking you’d put Gatey the Great as a reference?”

“No,” Mr. Cowles said abruptly, “I wouldn’t expect teenagers to understand.”

Lady Elaryindril could not help but jump in at this point. “How did you do it, then, Mr. Cowles? You have guards, you built this fortress and destroyed the Temple of the Goddess of AtoL. How did you become so powerful, the de facto leader of a group of people you can only see and hear?”

Mr. Cowles’s eyes lit up. “I can do more than just see and hear, Elaine. I …” He reassessed his audience. “Well, I’d explain my theories, but I’m sure they’d be lost on you.”
“I know that you can get animals to attack us,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback replied.

“Clever, Fieldball Boy,” Mr. Cowles said. He thought of something, turned around and grabbed an item behind him, placing it on his lab office’s countertop. Though the image was misty, Elaryindril and Cyrus recognized that he had moved his plasma globe, which showed small tendrils of electricity snaking out to the edge of the glass sphere before disappearing and being replaced by another.

“If I place this in just the right spot in-between my electromagnetic field conductors, the power of the plasma globe can be channeled through me to that world.” He placed his hands on the globe and angled his face towards the buzzing electrical strings of light. “Observe.”

For a moment, nothing happened. Suddenly, Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback stepped back. “Hey,” he exclaimed, looking down. His letterman jacket, he noticed, had suddenly began to lift up, guided by the front. The process was gradual, but it eventually elevated him enough that his toes came off the ground and he was hanging in the air above the image of Mr. Cowles.

“How are you doing that?” Lady Elaryindril questioned, her eyes glued to Cyrus’s floating form.

“Enhanced magnetism. I’m using the magnetic fields in that world to lift him up by the metal buttons on his letterman jacket. You see, every person has a small electromagnetic field within their own mind. I’m using mine to channel it into this more powerful field that I’ve created in my lab, then through to that world. The electromagnetic fields in that world are far more susceptible to influence than here, so without making a lot of effort, I have tremendous power. If I wanted to,” he said with sinister undertones, “I could throw this idiot football player across the room with just a twitch.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback deftly reached for his buttons and snapped himself free of the jacket, lightly landing on his feet while the jacket remained floating in the air above him. “I maybe ain’t the best student,” he said, “but I ain’t an idiot.” He then removed his belt, with its metal buckle, and then dropped some coins from his pocket to the ground.

Mr. Cowles shrugged and allowed the jacket to drop.

“Okay, I get the magnetic currents,” Elaryindril remarked, “But how is any of this even possible? These are two different worlds. How could there be a connection between them?”

“Through the use of my powers, I was able to search out areas of the kingdom, feeling for the electromagnetic fields of people and animals, but also of the rocks and minerals on the ground. After doing some rough mapping, I found an interesting correlation between the geography of our world versus theirs.”

“Correlation?” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback looked back to Lady Elaryindril for help.

Elaryindril asked, “What connection did you find between the geography of the two worlds?”

Mr. Cowles smiled smugly. “They are the same.”

“How are they the same? They have similar minerals? Similar climate?”

Mr. Cowles shook his head and then slowly emphasized each word: “They are the same.”

“What is this dude talking about?” Cyrus, who had been in control at one point, now found himself trailing.
“But there is a pond here and there’s not one in our world. And this place has lots of mists and marshes, but Crater Valley, our home, does not,” Elaryindril countered.

Mr. Cowles nodded. “True. But don’t you remember the history of Crater Valley? The original settlers had to set up a very complex--”

“Drainage system to get rid of the marshes,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback surprised himself with his response. Mr. Cowles and Lady Elaryindril looked over at him curiously. He shrugged. “The landscape dude for the football field explained it to us after the field got really soggy from a rain storm. He said that’s what we get for playing on a swamp.”

Mr. Cowles lifted his eyebrows for a moment before continuing. “I suppose athletics does have some educational benefit, even if it is on accident. Anyway, the marsh is what creates the mist. Crater Valley would have those mists more often if the valley’s water had not been re-allocated.”

Elaryindril eyed Mr. Cowles curiously. “That explains the marsh and mists, but I’m still not sure how they could be the same place.”

Mr. Cowles readjusted his stance to put himself in lecture mode. “Tens of thousands of years ago, a meteorite fell out of the sky and hit the earth, creating this Crater Valley we live in. You were supposed to learn about this back in the third grade,” he eyed Cyrus suspiciously.

“I remember,” Cyrus objected. “We didn’t get the name Crater High School for nothing.”

“Very well,” Mr. Cowles continued, “This is my theory. The meteorite’s impact made such a large disturbance in the region’s electromagnetic field that it created two coinciding worlds.”

“Two worlds?” Cyrus asked skeptically.

“Another dimension,” Elaryindril said, mesmerized.

“Something like that,” Mr. Cowles said. “It would be similar to striking a tuning fork and seeing the same tong blurring into two different spots at the same time.”

Mr. Cowles now had their complete attention, something he was not used to as a teacher, so he pressed forward eagerly. “The two different worlds progressed on very similar paths, except that in one, the one you’re in right now, the electromagnetic presence remained very strong. Once man entered the scene, the strong men and women were those who could use their own electromagnetic impulses to alter those around them. On the other hand, in our world, where the electromagnetic presence was weak, we focused more on other technologies to drive our civilization.”

“So, they are in the same spot as us, just a different dimension. And our worlds can connect?” Elaryindril tried to recap.

“Correct. Where there is a strong electromagnetic field on our side, it can connect with residual places of electromagnetic fields on their side. That is why, when I set up my lab experiment, it opened up a view into their world.”

“Not just their world, but the place on their world that corresponds with the location of your office lab,” Elaryindril clarified.

Mr. Cowles considered her statement. “Precisely.”

Lady Elaryindril turned to Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback. “Don’t you see?” she whispered. “That’s why everything was so close … no more than two or three minutes apart.”

“What do you mean?” Cyrus was on the verge of being hopelessly lost. There were few parallels in the football playing realm that matched this situation.

“We never left the high school campus!”

“Um, actually ...” Cyrus began.

“Think about it. In our world we were last in the parking lot. How long does it take to get from the north parking lot to Mr. Cowles’s classroom?”

Cyrus thought about it. “Well, I had him for 1st period last trimester, and if I left my house at a quarter to, I could park and still have two minutes to get to class.” He realized what he had just said. “Two minutes.”

“Exactly,” Elaryindril responded. “And how much time from there to Mrs. Avalon’s class?”

Cyrus shrugged. “I don’t know. I never had her class after Cowles’s. Maybe four minutes. It’s on the other side of the school.”

Elaryindril nodded. “That sounds right. I go from Mrs. Avalon’s to Mr. Cowles’s this trimester. But if I could cut through the middle of the building and not worry about hallway traffic, I’ll bet it would only take two minutes or so.”

“The same amount of time it took for us to go from the fortress to the temple ruins,” Cyrus completed. “Woah.”

Mr. Cowles had the look of every teacher who had ever been, and will always be, interrupted by students talking during class. “Are you two quite finished with your discussion yet?”

“We’re just realizing that you are right,” Lady Elaryindril gave the best possible response that an ego-driven teacher could hear.

“But what about the animals? You never explained how you went all Dr. Doolittle on them,” Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback pressed.

Mr. Cowles smiled. “Now we’ll switch from theoretical physics to a little bit of biology. How do migrating animals find their way across thousands of miles of land or ocean to reach their destinations?”

Cyrus shrugged. “Asking directions?”

Elaryindril jumped in, “I’m going to guess that it has something to do with magnetism.”

“Exactly. Their electromagnetic fields subconsciously tell them where magnetic north is and they then use that to direct themselves to their destination.”

“And you use that to alter their magnetic fields so as to send them to the place that you want them to go, like to guard your fortress or where an enemy is,” Elaryindril capably deduced.

“Not only that, but by jumbling their electromagnetic fields, I can give them headaches, which make them irritable and aggressive.” Mr. Cowles smirked. “I’ve even been able to direct that irritability towards specific people, effectively targeting them.”

Lady Elaryindril gasped. “That must be what you did to Län Gstøn the Huge and M’Illæ Bïknsn and other sorcerers of the Order of the Extraction Lode Stones.”

Mr. Cowles snuffed. “Such a fancy title for saying that these amateurs simply knew how to manipulate magnetic rocks to their advantage and trick others into thinking they were great sorcerers.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback tensed. “Do you mean to tell me that you had your animals kill off these people?”

Mr. Cowles had a confused look on his face. “They were the most opposed to my rule. They openly defied me by reversing my works with their rudimentary direction of magnetism powers. That blasted Dewt-a-marowe guy was the worst of the bunch, scattering the herds after I’d gathered them together. I tried to warn them several times, but they kept it up.”

Mr. Cowles’s frustration showed on his face, but it now transformed to disdain. “The whole time, the group of clowns claimed that they wanted to ‘protect the kingdom,’ but the reality was that they wanted to protect the power that they had over the people with their cheap magician’s tricks and silly legends.”

“Dude,” Cyrus scolded, “that’s messed up. They weren’t tricking anyone. To them it’s real. It don’t matter what we think is real. To them, that magnet stuff is magic. It’s their science, man.”

Mr. Cowles was taken aback by Cyrus’s passion. Even Lady Elaryindril was impressed. Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback continued. “You want to know what the ‘reality’ is, Mr. Cowles? The reality is that what you did is murder.”

There was a long silence. Mr. Cowles’s eyes narrowed. “That is a high and mighty charge from a C- student.” He took a breath for a moment and then continued. “Let me remind you that you’re talking about a people in a place that does not even really exist in our world. The people there, according to us, aren’t real. The people there live off a whole belief system based on lies. The death of a few of them is as insignificant as the death of a few ants who believe the world is as big as their ant hill and that the boot coming down on them is a punishment from their god.”

Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback was about to rebuff this statement, but Lady Elaryindril jumped in, her eyes blazing with indignation. “You know what, Mr. Cowles? I don’t even care about that quiz tomorrow. I’m going to just tell you straight out: you are dead wrong. I learned something just a little while ago from a C- student who has the most pure heart of anyone I’ve ever known and a better understanding of what really matters than any straight A kid I’ve ever met. He taught me that reality is what we feel in here,” she pointed at her heart, “not at the words we use to label something or what we might call the beliefs we use to shape our worlds. The reality that is so elusive to you is that these are real people with real lives and real feelings. By killing them off you can expect real consequences. Maybe not now, but some day, in some way, you can expect to pay the price for being so callous with something as precious as life, in whatever form it takes.”

A long silence reigned in the chamber. Mr. Cowles looked from Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback to Lady Elaryindril and back again. He gazed down at his plasma globe, contemplating, then finally his eyes reconnected with theirs. “Well, I’ve never thought I’d get a lecture on what’s right and wrong from a couple of students who couldn’t be more polar opposites, but you make a compelling argument. However, there is one thing that you seem to have overlooked in it.”

“I think we covered the basics,” Cyrus replied, “that you are a murderer.”

Mr. Cowles ignored Cyrus. “It’s that I haven’t killed anyone. These deaths have occurred due to the frenzied minds of a bunch of wild animals.” Cyrus and Elaryindril were about to counter this petty loophole, but Mr. Cowles beat them to it. “And that is why I will sleep just fine tonight after you have been wiped out by a group of wild wolves--I believe you call them wargs or something--that have just happened to find their way into this fortress after I had Gaytsebuee open the entrances.” Mr. Cowles shook his head. “You thought I was just telling you everything I discovered free of charge? Typical students, thinking they can get something for nothing. No, the price for listening was the delay I needed to finally get these wolves here.”

Cyrus and Elaryindril suddenly heard some shuffling in the multiple corridors leading to the chamber they found themselves in now. Both heard the distinct sound of growling.

Mr. Cowles added smugly. “I am impressed with your ability to have gotten past the herbivore bison and harmless bats, football boy. But I think you’ll both have a bit more trouble in these close quarters surviving a group of natural hunters.” Mr. Cowles’s smile suddenly turned despicable. “Either way, I’m sure I’ll be entertained watching you try!”

At that moment, each entrance in the chamber showed the snarling face of a large wolf. They slavered at Lady Elaryindril and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback with an unnatural hatred that made it clear that they had one purpose: to tear each of them limb from limb.

End Book III: The Wraith Lord of Lady Elaryindril and Cyrus Knowles the Quarterback: Volume One of the Kingdom of AtoL Serie