"OK!" Helge-Dag looked rather angrily at his mirthful companions. "Who is this Cneko? And who were the medieval bondage fans who captured me? And where am I, anyway? What are you going to do to me?"
The younger ones defer to the mage - Entandil, was that it? He sits down on his bench again. "Cneko is a goddess. Little is known about her, and even less is spoken. But I do not think you have anything to fear from her ... Well, compared to most others who are searching for you."
"Hey! What do you mean, others are searching for me? When did I become a cosmic trading card?" Helge-Dag sits down on the edge of the table. It may not be a polite thing to do, but he doesn't trust his legs right now. The mage looks at him, lifting one pale eyebrow.
"Your reference is unfamiliar to me; I suppose this is an ideom particular to the World of the Dead God. But the reason for your value is the raw power inside you. In my lifetime, I have neither seen nor heard of such magic in a mere mortal. Minor gods would envy you, and kill to possess your power. Failing that, they might kill you, but not as long as there is any hope to enslave you."
Helge-Dag looks from one to another of the faces around him. The laughter is gone now. They look as serious and solemn as Greek statues. "Magic, me? You are pulling my leg, right?" "Physical contact is not necessary, though it may help. Spatial proximity is essential. To the best of my knowledge, no body parts are more magically charged than others." "I think we should test that out" inserts Xarya with a straight face. "What do you mean, we?" demands Theelena, "You are as sensitive to magic as a stone chair." "Oh, I'm sure I would feel a tingle if he really is as divine as they say..." "Young ladies, I do not consider this a necessary direction for our conversation to take. If you have not noticed, our guest is uncomfortable." "A blush! How pretty!"
The mage sighs. "I apologize. They are quite accomplished in their line of work, but evidently their training has not included keeping a clear head around pretty boys." "We were only joking." "Like Darkness you were, Xarya! Me, I didn't even say anything ..." "Enough you two! Our guest has more questions."
"More questions the more you explain! You're saying I have magical powers without knowing it? I'm like some kind of overgrown Harry Potter?" "I apologize, but the last statement did not translate." "I mean, I am born a wizard? I can cast spells, fly broomsticks, do magic stuff? Kind of like you, only more?"
The mage shakes his head. "No, no! That's not it at all. You have no magic talent, as far as I know. Your aura is very different from that of a mage. You generate magic energy within yourself. If you think of a mage as a smith, then you are a fire. A roaring, raging furnace of magical energy. That's why you have become a cosmic bank note, as you put it. Very few living entities produce large amounts of magic themselves. Gods, obviously, have internal magic. The titans did, but they are gone eons ago. Unicorns produce a goodly bit of magic, and there is some magic in the blackwood, bloodwood and bonewood trees. Only a well trained bonewood could ever compare to a unicorn's horn, though, and only the oldest and most powerful unicorn could come even close to your level. A highly trained mage, with your power, could challenge gods and win."
Helge-Dag stares at him with unfocused eyes; the words buzz around him like bumblebees in a fog. None of this can be true. "Pinch me!" he says out loud; then, noticing Xarya starting to move, he quickly reconsiders. "Nevermind, I'll do it myself." He pinches his arms until he's sure he will have blue and yellow marks; but he does not wake up. He is stuck as a magic energy source, a kind of natural resource, somewhere in the depths of the multiverse.
"OK, you are supposedly the good guys, right?" He looks hopefully at the mage. "Can you send me home? To my own planet, or dimension, or time, or whatever?" The stone elf actually looks uncomfortable. "No, we cannot" he admits. "The World of the Dead God is very hard to access; getting away from there requires powerful magic now, and only a god would be able to send you back, even from the closest band of worlds. We are on the second band now, and the only close world we know of is the one the Burning Hand rescued you from. It is not going to be that easy a second time. Besides, Cneko has specifically requested your presence in the seventh band. Finally, I could not in good conscience return someone like you to the World of the Dead God."
"You keep talking of this World of the Dead God. Whatever do you mean with that?" demands Helge-Dag. The mage blinks in surprise. "That is a long story" he says, "and we had hoped you could tell us."Chapter 5.