Word Count: 1527 (it’s a little long, sorry)
Job: Zodiac Key App
Mood: Gemini's Appearance
Sheets rustled as Aeluri flopped onto the bed in exhaustion. She had been searching for days for a rare type of foreign cinnamon whiskey. The liquor was her absolute favorite kind, and upon hearing that some had been shipped into Fiore, she set out on a search for it. Town after town she had passed through and yet none of the merchants had been selling any! After a long, frustrating day of her seemingly futile quest, the female mage was exhausted. The rentable upstairs room of a local tavern was where she currently resided, heavy eyelids pulling her toward sleep. Deciding that she was too tired to eat, she drifted off from the waking world.
Dreams wandered throughout Aeluri’s mind as she slept. That was the case most nights, but this night was different. The mage found herself in a dark forest dreamscape, walking along a path covered sparsely in fallen leaves. Moonlight dappled the undergrowth, contrasting with inky shadows. Ahead of her on the path was a band of fog that hung low under the trees. A light figure moved within the band of fog, but it was impossible to figure out what it was. No matter how much Aeluri walked forward, the fog always stayed just out of her reach. She felt a constant pressure in her mind during the dream, like whatever resided in the fog was trying to contact her. If her mind was a fortress, it felt like someone was knocking on the door to be let in.
Every night for a few days Aeluri dreamed the same dream. The fog cleared a little more each time and the strange figure lurking within became a little clearer. Still the feeling that someone was trying to push into her consciousness persisted. Each time she woke up in a cold sweat, just as confused as the last night.
A beam of moonlight pierced through the tiny space between the curtains of the room in which she currently resided, creating a stripe across the stone floor. It was the night of the full moon and Aeluri was having trouble falling asleep. Bright moonlight and a racing mind would keep anyone from rest. Not to mention the traveler staying in the tavern’s room next to hers was snoring incredibly loudly. She was half-tempted to break into the other room and toss him out the window.
Suddenly she felt the presence pushing against her mind again, despite not being in a dream. Sitting up, she looked around for a source. There was nothing around except - was that a faint footstep heard in the hallway? Leaping out of the bed, Aeluri rushed to the door, throwing it open and peering both ways down the hallway. Something white flickered at the edge of her vision, whisking around the corner before she could make out what it was. Electing to pursue it, she ran from her room, leaving the door ajar. “Stop!” she blurted out as she turned the corner. The large figure spun slowly in the hallway to face her.
From the shadows of the hallway loomed a giant white cat… or was it two? As it stepped forth from the darkness, she realized that two identical shaggy heads seemed to sprout like branches from its sturdy body. It had the body of a normal cat - of course much larger - but two long, elegant tails waved gently in the darkness. Aeluri’s eyes followed the curve of the snowy feline’s body back up to the heads. Her eyes widened in awe, if not a little fear. The faces of the being wore gruesome and permanent toothy grins that stretched from cheek to cheek. Blood-red eyes accompanied the creepy smiles, staring at Aeluri calmly despite their expressions.
“We are Gemini…” hissed the head on the left. “The Sinister Twins of the Zodiac spirits,” finished the other head. Both nodded in agreement, their grins seeming to grow even bigger in the murky shadows. The voices were of a higher pitch despite the size of the creature. When it spoke the mouths did not open, yet the words were clear and understandable.
“Why are you here?” Aeluri asked, still mystified by the two-headed cat. “We seek to be of aid to a worthy mage,” started one head, leaning forward. “We’ve been watching you for a while and think you are the one.”
“Our attempts to reach you have been without result until tonight,” continued the other. “It seems communication only worked when the moon was at its zenith.”
“Will you accept a contract with us?” the two said in unison, looming over the black-haired mage before them. “I will,” replied Aeluri confidently. A Zodiac spirit would be a powerful addition to her summoning magic. “How exciting!” crowed one of the cat’s heads. “Thrilling indeed!” purred the other. “Here is our key. Just hold it in the air and draw this rune while saying our name,” one head said while a giant forepaw drew the symbol meaning ‘twins’ on the hallway rug. Suddenly the giant creature disappeared in a puff of mist and shadow, leaving behind a set of identical interlocking keys made of gold. Aeluri retrieved the keys from the ground, observing their design and the symbol for a moment before she ambled back towards her room. Unfortunately, the building was not well made, so a broken floorboard caught her foot and sent the mage to the floor with a loud thud. The bag of money she always kept on her person was sent flying across the floor. A high-pitched squeak could be heard as the door of the other bedroom was thrown open and a tall, angry-looking man stepped out. He was the one who had been snoring too loud throughout the night, keeping Aeluri from her sleep.
“What do you think you’re doing, it’s the middle of the night! I’m trying to sleep you idiot!” he yelled, glaring at the young woman. Spying the bag of jewel on the floor at his feet, the man swiped it up. “Maybe I’ll take a little payment for my inconvenience,” he said with a smirk. “No! That’s my jewel!” Aeluri gasped as she scrambled to her feet. If the man stole her money, she would never be able to afford the liquor she was searching for!
Pulling the double keys out of her pocket with an enraged look, she raised them in the air. “Gemini!” she yelled as she drew their rune in the air. From the shadows behind the man emerged the giant white feline, its gruesome grinning faces looking down at their target. The once-angry snoring man whirled around and withdrew a knife from his robes, staring in horror at the beast.
“Gemini, this thief is trying to steal my money!” Aeluri said, a little confidence filling her body now that her spirit companion had arrived. The man’s knife started to glow with an orange light and heat radiated outward. “It’s your unlucky day, lady, ‘cause I’m a mage too!” the man snarled, facing off with Gemini. “As soon as I kill your stupid cat, you’re next.” With surprising bravery, the bandit lashed out with his fiery knife, cutting the nose of the right head and the ear of the left head. The sound of flesh and fur sizzling made Aeluri wince. Backing up, the enormous cat reared up and stomped on the floorboards, causing the man to lose his balance for a moment. Steadying himself, he drew a second flaming knife and launched it at the spirit, slicing off a chunk of fur but not landing a solid hit. “My beautiful fur!” cried the right head. “You’ll pay for this!” growled the left. Aeluri motioned with her hands at the spirit, directing them to fight from two sides. Both cat heads opened their mighty mouths and attacked. The inside of the gaping maws was entirely black while red saliva dripped from its tongue and teeth. The rightmost head snapped at the man’s feet, trying to knock him off balance. The left head, however, went in more aggressively. A large bite into the enemy mage’s arm left him covered in red saliva, reeling from its hallucinogenic effects. Deciding that the battle wasn’t worth more injury, he dropped the bag of jewel and fled past the summoner down the hallway, cursing her and Gemini as he went.
The female mage let out a large sigh of relief. Aeluri picked up her bag of money as she walked towards the white feline, then went to inspect its wounds. Singed fur and burnt cuts did not seem to faze the giant beast, but she tended to it anyway. “Well, I think you chose the right mage after seeing that display,” Aeluri said with a chuckle, running her hands through the soft white fur. “And you’ll fit right in with my guild, Basilisk Fang, too!” Gemini let out a loud purr of agreement. Once the mage finished looking it over, she sent the creature back to its home in the Celestial Spirit World, then returned to her rented room for some much-needed sleep. She was determined to find that whiskey the next day!