Nocturnal XV

Uzgash unwound Clark's arm from around her. "I need a drink, not that," she told him. "Didn't we pass a tavern just the other side of the Red Road?"

"There was one in Aleswell, if that's where you mean," Minx replied. "And I could use a glass of wine, too."

Uzgash hadn't been thinking of daintily sipping wine, she wanted something more like an ale, or several. Now that he thought about it, Clark was feeling a bit thirsty, too.

The three left the cave and headed back south.

Aleswell was apparently deserted, but Minx pointed over to a corner of the vegetable patch in the middle of the village. "I can see a pink glow of some animal over there, but I can't see the animal itself." As they got closer, they could hear a sheep, but they still couln't see it.

"Strange," Clark mused. "Why would they have an invisible sheep here?"

The door to the tavern was close, so they went inside to ask. There was a pink glow behind the bar, but no visible barman. He came around the bar amd addressed them.

"I expect you're wondering why you can't see me. Or anyone else in town. So are we. It all started a couple of days ago, and we think Ancotar has something to do with it."

"Who's Ancotar?" Minx asked.

"He's the local wizard. He lives in Fort Caractacus, just down the hill from here, and he's been a nuisance ever since he moved in. If it wasn't loud explosions frightening the sheep, it was strange summoned creatures coming up the hill. We went down there to complain, but we weren't able to find him. And now it's this. It was amusing for a while, but now it's become a problem. Who wants to stay at a haunted inn?"

Before they knew it, they'd agreed to go and find Ancotar. "He's probably going to be just as invisible as the villagers," Clark surmised. "Minx and I should keep our rings of life detection on."

The large pink glow rushing towards them as they walked down the path didn't look like it was Ancotar, and it sounded a lot like a bear! Clark lit it up with a flare spell, so that Uzgash could see it, and her battleaxe answered its charge.

"Good thing that didn't make it up to the village," Minx remarked.

Most of the other animals they encountered on the way down were rats, but a wolf attacked just as they entered the tower. Clark managed to account for that one on his own. Uzgash had her axe off her shoulder, but couldn't see anything to swing at, and Minx had only her dagger.

"So can you detect Ancotar anywhere?" Uzgash asked.

"There's something up on the next level," Minx reponded. "I hope that's him, and not a troll."

It was indeed Ancotar, completely engrossed in his experiments, and oblivious of the commotion below him. They had to tap on his shoulder before he noticed them.

"Go away! If you're selling something, I don't want any!"

Clark explained why they were there.

"Invisible? All of them? Well I was working on an invisibility spell. One that would last longer than usual. I wanted to avoid those complaining villagers, and it seemed like a good idea to be invisible."

"How much longer than usual are we talking about?" Clark asked.

"Oh, it will wear off in a year or two," Ancotar reassured him.

"They can't wait that long," Clark responded, and explained the problems that the invisibilty was causing. "Isn't there some way of reversing it?"

"Well, if you must, here's a scroll of reverse invisibilty. Just stand in the middle of town and read it."

"Are you sure this will work?" Minx wanted to know. "Your invisibility spell didn't quite go as planned."

"Yes, I know, but that's the whole thing about experimental magic. You don't learn anything new if you don't go beyond the boundaries of what's already known. Sometimes things do go wrong, so that's why I made these."

Ancotar pulled a handfull of rings from his pack. "These are rings of protection. If anything goes wrong with my experiments, they absorb the adverse effects."

"And I don't suppose you gave any to the villagers, did you?" Clark asked, picking a few from Ancotar's hand. "We'd better wear them when I use this scroll."

The scroll did what it was supposed to do, and the villagers, and their sheep, became visible again. It wasn't clear if the rings of protection had done anything, but Clark gave his to Diram Serethi, the publican at the tavern, just in case Ancotar did any more experiments.

"Hey what about us?"

"That's my sister, Adosi," Diram said. "I wouldn't have minded if she and Urnsi, my other sister, had stayed invisible, but it's too late for that."

Minx and Uzgash handed over their rings of protection, too.

Diram was grateful, even if his sisters didn't appear to be. He gave them all free drinks, which is what they'd come for in the first place, and promised a free bed if any of them should need one in future.

"It's not large enough for three, mind you," Diram whispered in Clark's ear.