Metamor Keep -- Snips
By Christian O'kane
Kimberly managed a short shriek before Madog hit Father Hough full in the chest. Both went tumbling backwards off the bed and out of her sight. She heard something crunch and then a terrible tearing sound.
"Father!" the horrified rat screamed. Without thinking she jumped over bed to save him, and stopped in confusion. The young boy lay sprawled on the floor seemingly unhurt with the metal animal straddling him.
Madog turned to look at Kimberly who suddenly realized she was facing a three hundred pound monster armed only with a bread knife. After staring at her for a moment the metal fox carefully backed away. She recognized the torn and crushed remains of the brass cup gripped in his teeth.
The fox lay down in a corner with his back to the wall. As the two astonished people watched the automaton proceeded to eat the cup. He carefully ripped off a piece of brass, then chewed and swallowed it like he was eating raw meat.
Hough stood up and looked at their unexpected dinner guest for a moment before sitting back down on the bed. "Wh-wh-what is that," he stuttered.
"It looks like that mechanical fox Misha repaired," Kimberly said. She got up and walked over to the doorway and looked out into the hall. "Ok Misha, the joke is over," she said. She expected to find Charles and Misha crouched there, laughing, but the hall was empty.
"No one there, me not followed," Madog said proudly.
"Who's controlling you?" she asked sitting back down next to the boy.
"NO ONE!" the creature shouted. "I do all my commands and now I'm FREE!" he said with obvious delight.
"You mean that you're acting on your own?" Father Hough asked.
Madog answered with a nod of agreement.
The metal animal finished the last of the cup and looked in their direction. Kimberly looked at where he was staring and spotted a metal soup spoon laying at her feet. "I think he's still hungry," she said, and bent down and picked up the spoon.
She held the spoon at arms length and wiggled it a bit. "Here Madog, if you want it, you'll have to come and take it from my hand," the lady said in a calm voice. As she tempted the fox with the spoon, Kimberly told Hough about the party and the demonstration Misha had given. She also told him what she remembered of Misha finding the automaton and of Vernosa.
It took several minutes of coaxing but finally Madog crept closer and snatched the prize from her hand with a lightening fast strike. He immediately retreated several steps and proceeded to eat it in two swift bites.
"He acts just like a real animal," Hough commented. "I wonder. I've heard stories of mages trapping souls. Could this Vernosa have done something similar?"
"You mean there could be a real animal's soul trapped in there," she said in surprise.
The boy nodded, "It's evil magic, but it's been done before."
With the spoon devoured Madog started looking for more food. Kimberly offered up her knife. This time when he took the offer food, the automaton didn't retreat, but sat next to Kimberly and Hough as he ate.
"What are you?" the Father asked.
"I am Madog," was the enigmatic answer.
"That helps a lot," Kimberly said sarcastically. She noticed a long rip on the right side the automaton's neck. "How did you get this?" the lady asked.
Madog didn't answer but kept eating the knife.
Hough reached out, touched the fox on the muzzle and turned his head towards him. "Madog, this is a sword wound on your neck. How did you get it?" he asked.
The fox stopped eating and looked down at the floor. When he spoke it was in a very quiet voice, "I fight to escape after destroying the Duke."
"What did you do to Lord Thomas?" Hough asked in a voice tight with emotion.
The mechanical animal perked up and looked at the priest. "Who?" he asked.
Back at the scene of the battle Misha found confusion. At least twenty people were milling around in the fog. "ALL RIGHT PEOPLE! THIS ISN'T A PARTY!" He shouted at the top of his lungs. "Break it up, and go back to your posts. Sasha, get your people to open all the doors and windows and get rid of this smoke." That broke up the confusion and sent people running.
He surveyed the area where the fight had taken place. A discarded sword lay in the middle of the floor amid the shattered remains of a statue. Two of the guards were also laying on the floor having their wounds tended. There was no sign of Matthias or the Duke, dead or alive.
Misha walked up to one of the wounded. A maid was carefully tending to her broken arm. "Millie, what happened?" he asked.
The woman shook her head, "I don't know. This fog suddenly appeared out of no where and rolled over us. I heard a crash, and the next thing I know I'm laying on the floor with a broken arm."
"Any sign of Matthias, or the Duke?" he asked.
"No, I didn't see either of them. Thomas wasn't even near here when this happened," was Millie's answer.
That puzzled Misha, "Are you sure about that?"
The guard nodded yes. "It was just the four of us here," she confirmed.
"We have to find Thomas, and make sure he's safe. Then we have to track down Madog," Misha said.
"Its nice to know you still care about me Misha," a voice said from behind the fox.
Misha spun around and saw The Duke and Matthias standing in the doorway.
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