Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Yaltzee, Shift!" - Chapter 1

I recently finished “Shifting” Book 3 as part of the Twin Cities Series.

The Twin Cities Series is set in The Realms, a magical place where beings humans consider mythical, paranormal, or fanciful actually exist side-by-side.
I left a minor character stuck in an unfortunate situation and I feel bad about it.
So I am going to rectify it here in the blog for those that are interested in his story.
You need not have read the Shifting books to enjoy the tale.
Here is the rest of Yaltzee’s story.

“Yaltzee, Shift!”

The two trolls carrying the palanquin chair came to a stop in front of the circus manager’s wagon. Xellist the goblin studied his surroundings through the windows of his mini throne room. The interior of the chair was as ornately decked out as its occupant. The seats were covered in red velvet, the drapes hanging over the windows were a lovely gold brocade, the walls were tuck and rolled in white satin with gold buttons, and the carpet beneath his golden slippers was a thick crimson.

The circus was packing up ready to move on to another engagement in some other town in The Realms. There were centaurs hitched up to a wagon that was being loaded with the big tent. A couple of dragons seemed to be in an argument about the correct placement of the load. A Minotaur was loading up the high striker hammer game onto a platform pulled by a hippogriff. A Pan figure sat contentedly on a barrel playing a flute as the others of the circus worked around him.

A troupe of goblins seemed to be hurrying to get all the caged animals fed before the departure.  Xellist could see a wooden pool of Kelpie - water horses, a cage with a Fenrir (a Scandinavian monster wolf who was rumored to have tried to eat the mundane world once), and a Chimera stuck its three heads out, lion, goat and snake to accept the meat offered by the goblins. Xellist even spotted some of his distant cousins the Alp, shape shifting goblins known to evoke nightmares, running about along with the occasional Kasa-obake an animated umbrella bouncing behind on one foot.

Xellist stepped out as soon as his troll servant folded the steps down. He was careful not to soil his gold high heeled shoes in the debris and mud the circus folk had churned up. He pulled his ermine cape tighter around his shoulders. He reached in with a gloved hand to get the golden cage with the white owl in it from the cab of the covered chair. He indicated with a nod that he wished the troll to do the knocking on the manager’s wagon door. With the knock completed, Xellist waited for a response.

The top of the Dutch door of the wagon opened to reveal a werewolf dressed in a white shirt with a red overcoat. He looked down at the goblin and smiled. He had never seen anything quite as ridiculous as this goblin. He was dressed as though he were from Louie XVI court in a white wig, ermine cape over a white Westcott with gold buttons and trim, white knee britches with gold piping, and white stockings with gold high heeled shoes. This was definitely a goblin with an identity crisis.

“What can I do for you?” the werewolf asked.

“My name is Xellist and I have come to see if you might be interested in buying my pet,” the goblin said, and indicated the owl in the cage with a nod of his head.

“I run a circus, not a menagerie,” the wolf said, as he studied the goblin closely. “Now, if you are interested in joining the clown troupe, I would consider making an offer.”

Xellist was highly offended and would have stomped away, but for the fact he had made himself a promise to rid himself of Yaltzee and his tantrums today.

“As with most things in The Realms, the owl is not as it appears,” Xellist explained. “He is a shape shifter.”

“I have a shape shifter,” the werewolf said and started to close the door.

“Not a Turlow Shape Shifter,” Xellist said and watched as the werewolf stopped, turned and stepped down from the wagon. Turlows were the most talented of shape shifters. They could turn, and would turn into anything, from animate to inanimate, from two to four legged, and from natural to unnatural beings.

“A Turlow, you say?” the wolf asked.

“Indeed,” Xellist acknowledged with a sly smile.

“How do you control him?” the circus manager asked.

Turlows were not easy to handle. Because they could turn into anything, they were known for their independence. Most Turlow lived apart from the rest of the populace of The Realms, at least as far as anyone knew. Of course, they could be right next to you and you wouldn’t know.

Xellist pointed to the red glowing collar around Yaltzee’s neck. “I acquired a collar,” He held out a little black ball in his white gloved hand. “The collar controls Yaltzee, the ball controls the collar, the one holding the ball controls the shifter.”

Xellist handed the cage to his troll servant. As the troll held it, the goblin reached in and grabbed the owl by its feet to remove it from its cage. He brought it out and set it in the dirt at his feet.

“Yaltzee, Shift!” he ordered.

The owl shifted into a human boy of perhaps ten or twelve years old.

“Still very young,” Xellist pointed out. “He will give you and your audience’s years of entertainment. I can offer him to you for a reasonable fee.”

“I want to see a Chupacabra,” the werewolf said.

“Yaltzee, you heard the manager. Shift!” Xellist ordered again.

The young boy shifted into the bear sized, spiked animal that was known to drink livestock dry of their blood.

“A Pixia,” the wolf demanded.

“Yaltzee, Shift!”

The Chupacabra vanished and a winged lion appeared.

“A Jersey Devil,” the wolf said excitedly.

“Yaltzee, Shift!” Xellist ordered again

The Pixia snarled at the goblin.

Xellist squeezed the ball in his hand. The Pixia vanished and was replaced by the young boy who dropped at his feet writhing in pain.

“Shift!” Xellist demanded and gave him a kick with his gold toed shoe.

Yaltzee rose to his feet and shifted into the hoofed Jersey Devil. He spread his wings and screamed in defiance at Xellist. All the activity in the circus came to a halt at the sound of that hideous scream.

Xellist squeezed the ball hard and the winged beast before him fell to the ground. Only a trembling boy lay at his feet.

“How much do you want?” the werewolf asked wearily.

“I will give him to you for the price of the collar,” Xellist offered. “He was a gift to me. I must admit I found him a novelty at first, but the new had worn off. He needs training and I do not have the time.”

“I’ll take him!” the werewolf said and thrust out his hand toward Xellist.

Xellist handed over the control ball to the collar. “He’s all yours.”

Yaltzee looked up from his place in the dirt at their feet. He didn’t think his life could get any worse. He was wrong… so very wrong.

If you are enjoying this story, please consider reading The Shifting Books of theThe Twin Cities Series

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