Monday, November 22, 2010

Episode 22, Part 2: "Hey Guys, Let's Split Up!"

Xeno came to, on his back, Kobayashi slapping him back and forth.

"Be silent!" he hissed. "Not sure where we are, but I have feeling it not good."

Xeno looked around the dim room. Low niches in the wall, the damp smell of decay, what looked to be a dim outline of a skeleton...

"Oh, it's just a crypt." Xeno rolled free and examined the situation. 18 alcoves, all occupied. One door out. And no window from whence they came. Some weird sort of teleportation was involved, and he didn't like it.

Kobayashi found one of the interred was wearing a robe embroidered with yellow triangles. After some lengthy debate on the Nature of Grave Robbing, the Usefulness of Disguise in an Enemy Encampment and the likelihood of the corpse being infected with some sort of flesh-eating spores, one of them (I'm not saying who) decided to heave the corpse onto the floor in order to strip it of its vestments.

It hit the ground with a sickening plop and exploded into a million black, flesh-eating spores.

Kobayashi's lungs filled with the stuff. Xeno's nose and ears were overwhelmed with the rancid-smelling dust of mouldering decay. They coughed and hacked and made their way to the door, but stopped short as they heard voices and saw shadows under the door. They both kneeled, filling their lungs with what air seeped under the door. The smell of the grave was closing in and threatening to suffocate them both. Something had to be done.

Xeno threw open the door and fell onto the ground at the feet of two burly guards.


The two guards, who had incidentally just been discussing the fact that their wages had not, of late, realistically reflected the recent increase in risk and danger to their persons and who were, in fact, giving serious consideration to dropping the whole guard business like a hot rock and getting into the collectibles business, looked down to see a writhing black midget covered in death-smelling soot screaming at them and decided it wasn't even worth a moral check. They legged it.

Xeno chuckled to himself before extending the Middle Finger of Icy Doom. A Cone of Cold, flush with fives and sixes, left the two hapless guards cold and lifeless in the middle of a long, stone corridor.

Kobayashi immediately stripped off one of the guard's armor - it was brown and covered with small yellow triangles.

"Ever see Wizard of Oz?" said the monk to the gnome. Xeno just scratched his head. This guy just may be as crazy as I am, he thought...


Takemiya followed Longbottom's thoughts out the door and into a long corridor. He saw two figures appear from around a turn ion the hall some 20 yards distant. A female, stern and in flowing robes, walked with a quick agitation that told Takemiya she wielded power and was looking forward to using it on some hapless intruder. Behind her was Jordj. Takemiya, still invisible, backed himself into a corner and allowed them to pass. She wasn't going to be happy to find the guard in the pit, so he had just a few moments to move on and locate Longbottom.

Soon, after a few turnings, he located a row of cells.

He could hear a slow, steady series of sickening thuds. Combined with a high-pitched creaking sound, it sounded as someone was being repeatedly drubbed by a number of carp attached to a small metal wheel...

Takemiya crept up to the first cell and peered in. A humanoid lay curled up in a small dingy cot, facing the wall, unmoving. The second cell contained a large burly man with a booshy beard. He was unconscious and chained to the wall, and looked like he'd been there a while. The third cell contained the jackpot. Longbottom, stripped to the waist, was chained to a low bench. On the cell floor by his head was a small, three-spoked wheel. The wheel was being turned via a small crank by a tiny imp. The imp looked bored and on the verge of falling asleep. At the end of each of the three spokes was a fish. A dead fish. As the imp turned the wheel, the fish would, in turn, smack Longbottom in the forehead. His head was silvery with scales. Takemiya recognized the fish. They were indeed carp.


Xoe turned to look down at Ben.

"So what the hell's going on here? And why am I heading out this window?"

"This place is built on a mountain of temporal instability. I noticed a shift when we came in this way. You need to just pop out for a moment to see if we're still in the past. If we are, come back in and we'll try Plan B."

"And if we aren't?"

"Then hopefully we'll meet in the past when I'm a bit younger." Ben winked and gave Xoe a wave as she headed out into the night air.

Night air that was suspiciously devoid of smoke.

She listened and heard nothing. She looked at the hedge. It was three feet tall.

Quickly she turned and went through the window. Ben wasn't there. The trunks and banners and polearms weren't there. And where the alcove was, was...

A statue.

Or, half of one, actually. A kneeling figure, in monkly robes, lay half-constructed in the space where he alcove had been. Around it, workmen had left trowels ans loose stonework. They seemed to be constructing some sort of pool in front of it.

Xoe heard someone entering a door at the far end of the room. Two men entered, carrying a large painting draped in velvet. Xoe hopped down and piked her way through the workman's leavings in order to get a better look. They were talking to each other.

"Where'd they want it?"

Oh, I dunno. Anywhere safe, t'be sure. Wouldn't want to see it get damaged."

"Cor - hell's to pay if we nicked up her ladyship, hehe."

The two chuckled at what appeared to be an inside joke, and carefully left the painting leaning up against the far wall. The two stopped, lit their cigarettes, and ambled slowly out of the room.

Xoe couldn't resist. Making sure the two were long gone, she slipped over to the painting and lifted the cover...

A tall, radiant goddess in a mandorla gazed beatifically down at her. The artist had obviously been so taken by his subject that he imbued it with a special glowing power. The goddess was clad in sparse bits of chain mail - so sparse that it didn't quite cover her obviously swollen belly. Xoe looked up into the goddess' eyes and saw a look she recognized.

She blinked.

She took a few steps back and looked again.

It was Iryien.

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