Molt feels a little hot under the collar, for the lake is not aflame.

It appears to be aflame, for the sun is setting. It’s beautiful. He hates it. It reminds him that he has been here since dawn, after a long uphill climb that started well before the first stirring sparrow took its first sleepy fart in recognition of the coming day.

Dawn! His teeth grind out frustration. Been here since dawn … and for what? For what, you ask? You ask that, at this time?

For nothing! That’s what! Is your fleeting attempt at curiousity sated now, or do you have more stupid questions?

For nothing, that is, except a few simmering bubbles where his most powerful fire spells had cooked a couple of fish in their scales. You know, instead of exploding the whole damn lake into a wondrous fountaining mushroom of steam and boiling mud. Boiling mud emulsed with an ecosystem of creatures too stupid to wonder what in all the modular hells just happened to them.

“There’s a lake up there,” he remembers his master saying yesterday. “I want it gone. Go and blow it up or something. Don’t come back until it has been erased from existence.”

His master was a highly respected wizardess so he wanted her to be pleased with him. Anyway, blowing up a lake sounded like fun at the time, so why not? Now he wonders if he should have argued back a little. A wizard is supposed to argue with people every now and then, after all, especially with other wizards. History would be a lot more boring without all the magical arguments that created many famous mountain ranges, sea monsters, and celestial bodies.

Molt feels a little hungry now. Good thing those fish from earlier already cooked in their own scales. Nota bien: Molt would really prefer not to hear your clumsy, insipid remarks about “silver linings” right now, if that’s perfectly okay by you.

Molt decides to give limnal eschatonics one or two more shots. Then he will sit down with some boiled (not broiled) fish to mull the predicament over.

Okay, same as before.

  1. Sweep clean an area of the shore. Call this the temple. Why not? You some kind of snob who thinks temples should have all white marble pillars and shit? Do you have some kind of qualification in temples you would like to share with the rest of us? No? Well, Molt actually does have such a qualification. You know, this being, perhaps, an area of knowledge a person might just need to know about before casting powerful fire spells, which you yourself cannot. At least, not as well as Molt, we can all agree on that. So, let’s defer to his opinion on this point, yes?
  2. Consecrate the temple with a few banishing rituals and what-not around the perimeter. Go nuts with the incense, chant out some divine words of power (making sure to vibrate the area in front of you with those suckers, even non-wizards can do it with a bit of practice) draw squiggles in the air, and so forth in that order.
  3. Chuck some stuff in the temple. It needs to be all legit magical or religious stuff (not that there’s much or any difference, according to the resident expert, Molt):
  4. Stand in the middle of the temple, facing the altar and the middle of the lake.
  5. All the boring prep done, now summon up fiery feelings, make some kung fu moves, raise hands, waggle fingers, shout incoherently, and direct all that fiery power into the lake, while also visualising the lake blossoming upwards in the way previously described, you remember, the mushroom cloud of chowder.
  6. Lake explodes.
  7. Profit.

Once again Molt performs steps 1-5 correctly. Once again nothing for steps 6 and 7. Or, since it is now after sunset, we could say steps 6 and 7 have been replaced with crickets chirruping.

The lake undergoes some localised simmering. Some more creatures die. It would not be an unuseful outcome for someone whose goal in life is to eat fish. All you can eat fish, all the time, zero effort, huzzah.

Anyway, speaking of fish. Molt kicks the altar over on its side so that he has a place to sit, and then sits there. The fish is full of bones and scales, since it was only cooked, never cleaned. He spits out the inedible bits. Finishes eating.

Something tells him, no more explosions tonight. He can spend the night hours, while digesting fresh flash-fried fish flesh, to meditate on an alternative way to make his master happy.

Someone once told Molt not to astrally project while tired. They claimed that if you fall asleep while not in your body, you could “lose yourself on the astral plane”. It sounds pretty scary. But Molt recognises bullshit when he hears it. “Astral plane, shmastral shplane,” he mutters.

So, even though he might fall asleep, right now he goes ahead to adopt a comfortable meditative pose. This involves stripping naked, jumping into a sleeping sack, masturbating for a while, then performing a slow loud breathing technique that, to unintiated ears, sounds a lot like snoring.

Let’s go into his mind, which is totally not asleep.

Alone, he is laying seige to a great castle. He is standing outside the walls and throwing rocks at it. The rocks bounce off. The guards atop the wall laugh. He throws more rocks.

“Don’t do battle with your hands, destroy your enemy with the products of thought,” a voice says. He turns around and sees a woman standing next to a cannon. She has black hair and eyes like a cat. She lights the fuse and covers her ears. The cannon percusses loudly and Molt is sprayed with splinters of rock. As the dust and smoke clear, we can see that a great chunk of material has disappeared from the wall. He looks down at the rock in his hand and the scene morphs.

Molt is wearing a butcher’s apron. There is the sharp earthy aroma of animal waste, the coppery-mushroomy scent of blood, and the punk of steaming viscera. There are benches with knives on them and about thirty feet away a large dead cow is on the ground. Clearly there is work to be done here.

He gets behind the cow, plants his feet into the ground, and tries pushing the carcass closer to the bench. His leg muscles bunch, his face screws up, but the cow only rocks a bit then slumps back to its original position. He tries moving around to the other side and grabbing the cow by its hind legs. Again he heaves. This time the rump of the cow moves a few inches. Molt is panting and sweat beads on his brow. He repeats the feat of strength with the cow’s front legs, then collapses to the ground. This might take a while.

“Don’t take the cow to the knife,” a voice says. “Take the knife to the cow.” The woman from before is standing next to the bench with the knives on it. Molt gets off the ground and takes up a knife. He looks at it with a glimmer of realisation. As he takes the knife to the cow the scene morphs.

Molt is standing at the edge of a great abyss. Before him is a great metal giant, a hundred feet tall. It is holding a great metal club, which it swings at Molt.

Molt ducks out of the way and finds a sword on the ground. He picks it up and runs in to attack the giant’s feet. The sword bounces off the smooth indestructible skin with a loud clanging but not so much as a scratch left behind.

The giant lifts a foot to squash Molt. Molt dodges but only just. He takes another slash at the foot, the size of a carriage, but again there is little effect.

The giant tries for a kick. Molt hops backwards and finds himself with his heels at the edge of the abyss. His arms pinwheel so he avoids falling in, but now he is trapped between the giant and the yawning pit. “This is kind of messed up,” he observes to himself.

He sees movement close to his right. There is the same woman again. She winks at Molt and points down into the darkness.

The giant winds back the club and charges in for the killing blow. Molt drops the sword and rolls forward at the last second. The club misses, the giant loses its balance, and stumbles over the edge. A great metallic roar of denial slowly fades as the giant disappears into emptiness. “Of course!” Molt startles himself back into the waking world with his own shout of inspiration.

“Don’t take the cow to the knife, take the knife to the cow,” he remind himself.

He looks at the lake again. Why would there be a lake here anyway, right at the top of a mountain? It was really quite a stupid place to put a lake, you know. Mountains are meant to be pointy, not have hollows at the top of them for putting lakes in.

Molt has an idea and decides it is time to be somewhere else. He packs up his gear and heads to a lower altitude. He whistles all the way because walking downhill is okay and he feels rather pleased with himself.

This time there is no need for a temple. Good thing, because he left the wine barrel behind. This time he would be taking a very small knife to a very big cow. This time the giant would kill itself, and Molt just had to stay out of the way.

This time he would unleash explosive force from a cannon prepared earlier, not throw rocks using his own limited brute strength.

He claims a flat bit of ground with a good view of the mountain, and looses a simple cantrip learned long ago in the early days of his apprenticeship. His senses extend out and into the core of the mountain.

Sure enough, a great beautiful heat dwells here. It fills his mind with liquid gold.

It has overslept. Everyone has forgotten the proximal danger. It could have reawoken at any moment anyway, but Molt helps it along a bit with a friendly little tickle. A fire wizard is friends with all the superheated things of the world (and on reflection no wonder he had trouble attacking the lake directly). The molten core of the mountain quickens and squirms under his playful flirtations.

As Molt hastens away, the ground begins to rumble. He notices a couple of small villages nearby; maybe he should warn them? Nah, they would just slow him down. Anyway, no great work of art goes unaccompanied by great destruction.

He barely reaches a safe distance when the entire top half of the mountain detonates. “Fuck you, lake,” he grins without looking back at the wondrous fountaining mushroom of steam and boiling mud.

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Creative Commons License

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