© Copyright 2013 - Lobo De la Sombra - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-M; MF; F/mf; transform; plastic; mannequins; outdoors; majick; gods; mistake; reluct/nc; X
Lit by the rays of the morning sun, the city’s flags and banners waved their defiance for the invading army assembled outside the gate. As if in response, the army’s own flags and pennants waved every bit as defiantly. The approaching observer smiled at the martial sight.
As he approached, however, he began to realize that something wasn’t quite right. Other than the waving of flags, all was unusually still for the beginning of a battle. Frowning, he picked up his pace slightly.
Approaching the invaders, he saw the knights in their gleaming armor, followed by foot soldiers bearing lance, pike and bow. In perfect formation, the army poised, as if awaiting the order that would send it crashing against the city’s defenses. And yet, apart from the waving of the flags, nothing moved.
Moving closer, he noticed that the still figures ahead shared a light brownish tone to their skin. Not terribly unusual, in this part of the world. What was unusual was that each individual seemed to be of the exact same shade of brown. Combined with their stillness, it was enough to bring a frown to the face of the approaching observer.
This army, he knew, was legendary for its cruelty in and after battle. To taunt the city with its approaching doom would be a tactic they might choose. No army, however, could possibly stand so still. Not even the manes of the horses moved in the morning breeze.
Stepping closer, he began examining the figures standing so quietly. Here and there, he saw faces he knew. This was, after all, a veteran army, and many of it’s more prominent fighters were known to him. Approaching one of the familiar figures, he examined the man closely.
The man sat astride his horse as he had in countless previous battles. Sheathed in plate armor, lance in hand, he gazed quietly toward the city ahead. Curious, the observer touched a finger to the man’s cheek. What he felt was not skin, but something smooth, cool to the touch.
Stepping back, the observer’s eyes widened slightly as the implications sank in. This was impossible! Quickly, he moved along the line of silent knights, finding each to be of the same smooth material. A rapid check revealed the foot soldiers, officers, and even the camp followers to be the same.
His examination complete, the man stepped back to ponder what lay before him. He knew this to be an actual invading army. After all, he had spent months arranging for this attack to take place. Somehow, by some magic, this proud force had been transformed into lifeless figures. Did the city really harbor a wizard of such strength?
Puzzled, he turned his gaze toward the closed gates of the city. If those walls did, indeed, harbor a wizard of such might, why hadn’t the defenders emerged to destroy their helpless enemy? Curious, he moved toward the city, easily finding a way inside.
Within the walls, he found things much as they were outside. Soldiers stood in massed ranks, as if awaiting the command to attack. Guards stood atop the walls, with the invaders in plain sight. Yet here, as outside, nothing moved. His puzzlement growing, the man drifted deeper into the city.
The change, he quickly saw, was not limited to the city’s people. Birds perched motionless on trees and buildings. Here and there, they lay on the ground, as if fallen from the sky. Nearby, a cat crouched silently, as if waiting for the mouse that peaked from the hole in a sack of grain.
Each figure he encountered had the same cool, smooth texture as those in the invading army. It was this texture which puzzled him the most. This substance, he knew, would not be invented for thousands of years. How could any wizard, no matter how great, know enough to transform so many into plastic?
Intrigued, he continued his search. Here, a couple lay joined together, faces grimacing in the onset of ecstasy. There, a young beauty held a baby to her breast, the infant’s lips still suckling a perfect plastic nipple. Near the gate, the commander of the watch stood poised behind the woman bent over his desk, as if prepared to celebrate life before commanding death.
With each discovery, the man’s anger grew. This, he knew, was the work of no wizard. Only a god could have done this. The thought only increased his anger. This was his battle, his war. As god of war, he had crafted this event most carefully. It was to have been the crowning event in the history of both nations. And now, he fumed, some other god had trespassed into his domain.
But which one? The god of vanity, perhaps. After all, in a time long after both of these nations had passed into legend and myth, figures such as this would be common in the world or men. They would be called mannequins, he knew, and would be used for many purposes, including the display of clothing. Somehow, though, the idea didn’t seem right. Frowning, he decided there was only one way to find out.
In the center of a temple courtyard, surrounded by plastic pigeons, he opened a door in the air. Stepping through, he walked quickly through the halls and rooms of the palace of the gods, finally reaching a room who’s balcony looked out over the city. Stepping inside, he froze at the sight before him.
Transia, goddess of change, stood peering over the balcony rail. Hearing his footsteps, she turned to face him. His hot, angry words died within him as he saw her. Easily among the most beautiful of the goddesses, that beauty was now somewhat marred by her red eyes and slightly swollen features.
Looking at her, he felt the anger slip away from him, replaced by sympathy, as he said the only thing that made sense in this situation.