The Rise And Fall Of Lord Void
Chapter 25: Opal
Japheth flashed back into existence a split second later, but he was not in the gorge a few miles away from the Royal Knight Port Josef, but in a room of the Zolten-Koffkatzski Mansion, located in the Fright Forest of Fright Knight land. Japheth blinked and looked about.
A woman glided into the room. She certainly was an eyeful, in a very good way, that is. She was young, twenty-something, with luscious dark red hair and carefully applied eye shadow and lipstick. She was dress entirely in black silk, from her pointy witch’s hat to her high heels just visible under her flowing dress. She was perched elegantly on a sleek broom, and the broom was floating a foot off the floor. The woman leaped off the flying broomstick and embraced Japheth, smothering him with sticky kisses.
“Oh, sweetie-pea, you don’t know how glad I am to see you! Five months it’s been! Oh, deary…”
Japheth grimaced and grinned at the same time, carefully prying himself from the enthusiastic woman.
“Opal, I’ve got a gift for you…”
Japheth took out the package he had stopped to buy at Port Jozef and handed it over. Opal gasped with girlish delight at the ripped the package open.
“Chocolate, dahling, my favorite! You’re too much!”
She embraced him again, smearing her bright red lipstick all over his rough cheeks. Then she released him and took a huge bite of the dark chocolate.
“Mmmm! Delicious! Wonderful!”
“I be glad you like it, dear.” said Japheth, attempting to wipe his cheeks clean.
“I love it, honeycomb!” exclaimed Opal, cramming more chocolate in her mouth, “Yummy!”
“So…” said Japheth, “How be going things, Opal?”
Opal took several minutes to finish chewing her chocolate and swallowed.
“Well enough, cupcake. Business is booming for my Love Potion.”
She laughed and eyed Japheth slyly.
“The drinker falls instantly in love with the first person he or she sees. Quite potent. Though I have heard of incidents of nasty a love triangle when some Countess had a sip during a ball and fell in love with half a dozen men at once!”
Opal laughed again, somewhere between a cackle and a giggle.
“But what do you want, Jaffy? I have plenty of potions…”
Opal moved to a wall, where lines and lines of bottles of all shapes and sizes stood in jumbled rows.
“Let’s see, I’ve got Hex-Lax, Magic-Musical, Ogre Eye Drops…”
“I…er…need to be invisible.” said Japheth.
Hopping back onto her broom, Opal rose upward and plucked a pale blue bottle from one of the top shelves. She returned to earth and handed the bottle to Japheth.
“Invisi-Ade. Drink up!”
Japheth hesitated, then turned the bottle over.
“Warning,” he read aloud from a label, “May cause temporary headaches, itching of the eyes, heartburn, bowel cramps, and blindness. Not to be taken with alcohol. Not to be used by women who are pregnant, nursing, or are about to become pregnant. Inform your doctor if you develop difficult or painful breathing, high blood pressure, or are unable to reappear. Instant death can usually be avoided if taken properly.”
Japheth looked up.
“I be not taking this.” he stated.
Opal sighed dramatically.
“If you want, cookie.”
“What I be really wanting,” said Japheth, “is to spy on…Lord Void.”
“Goody!” cried Opal, “We can do that! Come, sugar…”
Opal led the way from the potions room and into a smaller, darker room. The only real light came from a glowing orb on a round table.
“My crystal ball.” whispered Opal dramatically, “Sit.”
Japheth sat, and Opal sat opposite him. With glinting eyes, the witch placed her hands on the ball and cried, “Reveal your secrets!”
Nothing happened. Japheth grunted. Opal glared, then she giggled.
“Whoopsy, I forgot to charge it this morning!”
Opal bent over and fiddled with something under the table. Rising up, she said, “Well, we’ll have to do something else…it’ll take all day to charge…”
She clicked her long nails.
“I know! Come, Jaffy!”
Opal fled the dark room and entered another. In it were all sorts of creatures, from toads to bats to snakes to bats. Whipping out her star-tipped wand, she muttered something quickly while waving her wand about madly. There was a flash of light, and the door of the bats’ cage flew open. Screeching, the twenty or so bat flew out of the confining cage and out a window, all while Opal cried, “Fly, my pretties, fly, fly!”
“What be those for?” demanded Japheth.
“Your spies!” winked Opal, “Your extended eyes!”
“Bats are blind.” muttered Japheth.
Perhaps Opal be not the best choice after all… he thought.
“You silly Jaffy, I put a spell on them! Don’t worry, you’ll get your information, cupcake…”
I be sure hoping so, thought Japheth.
While Japheth waited impatiently for Opal’s batty minions to return, Opal herself went about little tasks, humming to herself and swishing about in her robes. After setting out her powerless crystal ball in a patch of light coming through an arching window to recharge, the enthusiastic aspiring witch went about dusting with a will. With a quiet muttering of words and a quick wave, a sudden but steady gush of air shot out of her wand’s tip . Opal then proceeded to stir up every particle in the mansion while she darted up and down rooms waving her blower-wand and riding upon her broomstick. Sitting on a lumpy and sagging velvet couch, Japheth coughed.
After an insane hour of ‘dusting’, Opal returned to Japheth and chattered away about mindless things such as whether toads and frogs were actually the same creature with different names, and her grueling classes at the esteemed Fright Knight school for witches, Pigpimples Academy.
“They are so demanding, Jaffy, dear, so demanding! A five-page essay on the healing and magical properties of bear’s drool! Droll, cupcake, absolutely droll! And they won’t even let us work with any dragon components, yet! How unfair is that? Scales, spittle, liver, tears, even dung! They say we aren’t experienced enough! Humph!”
Opal crossed her arms, wrinkled her nose, and pouted. Japheth watched the stirred-up dust settle back down to their former locations.
“So how are you, Jaffy? How’s my favorite dragon warrior?”
Opal cuddled teasingly close to Japheth and flirtingly stroked his muscular chest.
“I be better than normal.” grinned Japheth, pleased finally that Opal had gotten her priorities straight and was now clinging to him instead of her dratted broom.
He then went on to retell an edited (and altered, and highly colored, and skewed in his favor) version of past events, of how he had personally tricked the Royal oaf Clive Baudelaire into giving him his ship the Precious, and how he had saved the entire Dragonsbane Brigade by selflessly flinging himself at the gruesome locknest, and how, because of his exceptional skill as nautical navigator, he had guided the Precious single-handedly to a safe berth, where he directed the repairing of the Precious. Of Ajaxx’s true mission he said little.
All the while he told he mostly fictional exploits, Opal cooed admiringly and snuggled closer, continuing to stroke, murmuring things like, “Oh, Jaffy, heroic!” and such. As Japheth approached the end of his yarn, a high-pitched chittering could be heard, which unmistakably was produced by bats.
“My pretties are back!” cried Opal, and she leapt to her feet.
She hurried to the window, skirts swishing, and called, “Come, my pretties, return to Mommy!”
Like flies converging on a corpse, the hairy, winged creatures dove and flapped through the open window, flying about Opal in circles. Soon the black masses almost blocked Japheth’s sight of her, and the screeching was deafening. Then, suddenly, the bats dispersed, and returned the their cage almost as one, where they snagged a branch, flipped upside down and quieted. Opal, her hair tussled and her skirts a-flurry, returned to Japheth, breathing hard and smiling.
“Lord Void is rebuilding it,” she informed Japheth, “He is rebuilding the Fire Breathing Fortress, on the footprint of the old structure. Slaves are clearing the land, while others mine for fresh stone. He second-in-command, Caimlin, is overseeing the construction first-hand. Lord Void is residing at the Grolling Fortress, with Elsa Byrd, the architect who designed the new fortress.”
Japheth nodded slowly.
“That be explaining a lot…but there’s a lot more I need to know…”
“My pretties can’t find out everything. But!”
Opal rushed upward, disappeared for a moment, then returned, something clasped in her hand.
“Here,” she said, giving the object to Japheth, “It’s yours, honeycomb. It’ll tell you all you need to know.”
Japheth looked at the object. It was a crystal ball, half the size of Opal’s ball. It could easily fit in his pocket.
“Just rub it, and tell it what you want to know!” said Opal, giggling, “You can also use it to communicate with anyone else who has a ball. Just speak the name of the person!”
Opal giggled again.
“Now we can talk every day!”
Japheth smiled and stowed the travel-friendly crystal ball in his pocket.
“Thank you, Opal.”
“Oh! Just be sure to set it out in the sun after each use! It must be recharged!”
Japheth nodded, then stood.
“Well, Opal, I must be going.”
“Ah, Jaffy, you just got here!”
Japheth shrugged helplessly.
“I must. Ajaxx, ye know…”
Opal’s frown deepened, but then she sighed.
“Fine, then. But be sure to call every day, sugar!”
She whipped out her want, and, with a flash, Japheth was teleported back to the outskirts of Port Jozef.
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