“Get out of my wife’s chair,” Matticus seethed. His right hand reached for his sword, but Revis grabbed his arm before the steel could clear the sheath.
“I quite like it here,” Jaded quipped, flashing her now human teeth in a twisted grin, “I think I’ll stay.”
The sight of of someone other than The Queen sitting on the throne was so disturbing to the Jester that he began to fight against his Knight’s grip. He wanted to free himself so he could tear Jaded apart and while he could hear Revis whispering furtively into his ear to calm down because it was likely a trap, the words meant nothing to him. Matticus was lost to his rage.
Revis considered knocking his liege upside his royal head, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to strike swift enough if he let the Jester loose before Matticus was out of his reach. So, instead, needing to to do something to snap Matticus out of his vengeance fueled state, Revis stomped on the Jester’s foot as hard as he could manage given the circumstances.
Matticus howled in pain. Jaded howled in laughter. And, as the Jester hopped around on one foot, cursing, and cradling his sore foot in his hands, Revis turned his full attention to Jaded, “You are no longer a threat to us. Give us your sorcerer and we’ll let you live.”
“Just because I’m not a vampire anymore, that doesn’t mean I’m not a threat!”
Jaded blew them a kiss. For a nanosecond, it made Revis smile because he and his wife had recently taught their daughter to do it. It was so cute when his baby girl did it. When Jaded did it, however, it was not cute.
As she blew into her hand, a giant ball of fire erupted from her palm. Matticus stopped his cursing and stared open-mouthed at the oncoming conflagration. Something hit him from the side, sending him flying out of the flame’s path. He watched helplessly as Revis, who had been the thing that pushed him out of the way, disappeared in the middle of the fireball.
“No,” he yelled at the empty space that once contained his friend.
The sound of Jaded’s laughter snapped him out of his grief. He replaced it with rage. Her desecration of the Queen’s throne was bad enough. This pushed him over the edge. Matticus went to unsheathe his sword, but found that it was no longer there.
It must have fallen out when I hit the ground, he thought. That didn’t bother him. With the amount of rage he had built up now, he felt that he was more than capable of ending Jaded’s life with his bare hands.
The unarmed Jester rushed the throne, his berserk anger lending him speed he would not normally possess. Jaded’s cackling faded, along with the pounding of his boots, as his racing heart thumped louder and louder in his chest. Her face twisted, her eyes nearly closed, head thrown back, and jaw agape in laughter, Jaded seemed unfazed by the Jester’s approach. He reached for her, his hands contorted into talons that sought her neck, sought to end her life in a crushing grip.
Running into the magical barrier felt like running into a brick wall. All the momentum Matticus had built up rippled through his bones as he slammed to a crunching halt. The look of delight on Jaded’s face kept his anger ramped up, though, which kept the resulting pain mostly at bay. Despite being immobilized by the spell, the Jester continued to attempt to push forward. A few more inches and his hands would wrap around her windpipe. A few more inches and he maniacal laughter would be silenced forever.
But, the spell held, and Matticus couldn’t get any closer to her no matter how hard he struggled against the magic. Jaded’s smile seemed to widen as she ceased her cackle, drew a wicked looking dagger from a sheath at her waist and brought it up to Matticus’ throat.
The sound of metal ringing suddenly filled the room. Matticus risked a glance and saw that the dagger had dropped out of Jaded’s hand. She was still smiling, but her eyes were wide. A spot of red appeared on her side, growing slowly.
Whatever magic had been holding Matticus back collapsed. His hands wrapped around her throat just in time to keep her from falling over. He laid her down on the floor just as her eyes rolled up into her head and she lost consciousness. Only one thing could’ve done that, the Jester thought. “You shouldn’t have killed her,” he said to the room, with a smile on his face.
“She’ll live,” came the reply, as Revis reappeared.
“How did you survive the fireball?”
“I don’t know,” The Knight answered, handing Matticus his sword. “This got caught in the straps of my armor when I pushed you. I guess the fire magic of the sword protected me from the flames.”
“Wait. Isn’t that how Bruenor survived his fall on the fiery dragon’s back? With Drizzt’s sword?”
“Quit telling people where I’m stealing my ideas from! Besides, only a few people would probably have gotten that reference if you didn’t point it out.”
“Hell, I made the reference, and I don’t ‘get it.’ I think your secret is safe.”
“Right, no matter, it was still very lucky,” Matticus glanced over his knight to make sure he was in fact okay. All he got in response was a raised eyebrow. When the Jester was satisfied that Revis hadn’t been harmed, he changed the subject, “Where do you Jaded got the magic from? I didn’t know that sorcerers could transfer their abilities to someone else?”
Revis glanced down at Jaded before replying, “It was probably just a ruse. A trick to make us think that Jaded had somehow learned magic in the months since we last fought and captured her. Or…”
“Or?” Matticus queried.
“Or,” Revis replied with a heavy sigh, “the sorcerer is far more powerful than I believed possible.”
“I do so love how you always have good news for me.”
Revis said nothing, but the glare he threw in his Jesterness’ direction spoke volumes.
Matticus averted his eyes, and nudged Jaded with the toe of his right boot. “Guess we aren’t going to get much out of her right now. Got any ideas on what we should do next?”
“Well, you could go directly to the source,” came a voice from behind the throne.
Matticus and Revis looked to see the cloaked figure of the sorcerer float out from concealment. The fact that the sorcerer never touched the ground unnerved the Jester a little bit. “Go to the source,” Matticus laughed. “Are you offering to tell us everything?”
Now, it was the sorcerer’s turn to laugh. “Not everything. After all, I’m not an old Bond villain. I’m keeping some of my secrets. I will tell you the answer to the question you just asked, though: how Jaded got magic.”
“Oh, do tell,” Revis muttered sarcastically.
Ignoring the tone of the knight’s voice, the sorcerer answered, “She gets her magic the same way your Knight does, Jester. She uses magical items. They were just trinkets that I had laying around. Jaded thought they’d be fun, so I let her have them.”
“Same as me, you say? That’s very interesting. Tell me something…”
Without finishing his thought, Revis flew into motion faster than Matticus could register his movement. He turned his head in time to see the dagger that Revis had just thrown at the sorcerer’s face get deflected up. Revis’ blade missed the body, but got caught in the hood covering the sorcerer’s head. The knife’s momentum tore the cloak off, revealing the identity of the true mastermind behind the plot to overthrow the kingdom.
“It can’t be,” Matticus whispered as he looked at their tormentor: Goldfish.