Saturday, January 1, 2011

Episode 25, Part 2: Let's Get The Band Back Together...

Takemiya slid invisibly into the room as the jailer shut the door. He watched silently as the armored man hobbled around what appeared to be a bunkroom, arming himself with a couple short swords. Takemiya waited for an opening and pounced...

The old man hit the wall like a sackful of candelabras.

Takemiya flipped over the crumpled sexegenarian and looked for something to tie him up with. A basket of what appeared to be old socks waiting to be laundered would have to do, though he did feel a twinge of guilt as he placed one in his mouth as a gag.

He had just finished when a secret panel opened up in the wall behind him. An armed guard wearing brown armor with gold triangles entered the room and blinked twice upon discovering the sock-bound jailer.

Takemiya didn't let him blink a third time.

Helmet hit helmet, a little too hard, perhaps, but when you take a guard job in an evil underground temple, you have to know what you're getting into. As Takemiya pulled the guard's lifeless body into a corner, he noticed that he could now see his hands... He was visible.

Quickly, he returned to Xoe's cell and revived her. She had no memory of how she got there or what happened to her after meeting the other Iryien by the eel statue in the temple. Takemiya couldn't be much more helpful on their current location - just that he'd been sent down, down, down below the temple by Xeno's eye-gouging.

"Sound's about right," chuckled Xoe.

The two of them returned to the jailer's quarters to look for Xoe's possessions. She felt naked without her assortment of knives, and was hesitant to leave them behind. A few minutes of cabinet-raiding soon found every sharp, pointy piece of metal in her arsenal back in its proper place, and she was ready for action.

In the hallway outside, she got some.

They hadn't traveled thirty feet when they had reached an intersection with a larger hallway. This one was brightly lit, flagged with swirling sandstone and had a floor inlaid with triangular yellow tiles. Xoe halted Takemiya and kneeled to investigate, but as she did so, a shimmering circle of blue appeared in the wall opposite. Xoe drew her knives and prepared to pounce, when out of the darkness in the center of the circle appeared the face of Ben Firenze.

"Ah, there you are. Quit standing there like you're on the cover of Dragon Magazine. We have work to do."

"She'll kill me if I don't deliver these!!! I don't know what the hell they are but I don't want these things!!!"

The two guards looked down over their crossbows at the frantic gnome. While not exactly graduates of the Gary Gygax School for Intelligent Stockade Guardsman, they knew that two guards carrying crossbows had nothing to fear from a gnome armed only with a couple of sausages. And, come to think of it, they were feeling a bit peckish, so...

The guards descended the wooden ladder and one of them put his hand to the heavy bolt that held the thick wooden doors shut. But before he could lift it, two holes were blown through the door and each guard felt a painful shock as the attack sausages penetrated their armor and started to chomp their way through organ and bone. The grisly sound of frenzied feeding was the last thing either man heard.

Kobayashi carefully reached his arm through one of the two holes in the wood and undid the bolt. Cautiously pushing the gate open, he peered inside.

Two bodies lay on the ground, and only the faint suspicion of what had happened allowed Kobayashi to detect some slight movement under the guards' armor. He deftly slipped inside the gate and motioned for Xeno to do the same. They looked up and saw a large longhouse at the center of the wooden buildings that made up Plank Town. Kobayashi suggested approaching by an indirect route.

From behind some stables, the two could now see Count Fundus, the ice elf and two orcs standing on the threshold of the longhouse. The orcs were carrying a large chest, and now placed it at Fundus' feet. The Count turned and spoke to the shadows, and they moved...

A figure, black and two dimensional, emerged from the shadows. Not as tall as Fundus, it appeared to be human, but no features were visible. It spoke to the elf, and she replied with a distinct note of unease in her voice. She gestured to the chest, and an orc opened it up. A golden glow rose up from the interior of the chest and illuminated the faced of all but the shadow man. Fundus looked pleased.

"Alright," Xeno hissed. "I've seen enough." He strode forward and raised the Finger of Doom. With a word he sent a glittering blue spark whizzing through the night towards the group. Startled, the group was quick enough to make their way towards the entryway of the longhouse before impact. They were scrambling to safety when...

Somewhere in the Multiverse, the Gods rolled their dice...

The fireball never materialized, but the shadow man momentarily froze. As the others tumbled into the longhouse, the dark silhouette moved as if in molasses towards the door.

"Damn you, stupid die roll!" yelled Xeno to the Gods. He forgot that sometimes, the Gods listen. He pointed his Finger again and summoned another fireball and...

Scarlet, orange and crimson flames engulfed him as he cursed. Cursed the Gods, cursed his luck, cursed his constant miscalculation of cubic footage. His hair sizzled. His robes charred. He felt himself being lifted and carried away from the smoke as shouts and screams could now be heard arriving on the scene. He felt a cool draught up his robes as he looked into Kobayashi's eyes.

"Someday, you get everyone killed!"

Kobayashi set him down a little rougher than Xeno would have liked. Xeno was seeing stars and was sure that his lungs had been seared. He could only barely hear Kobayashi's inane muttering as things started to swirl before Xeno's eyes.

Was he dying?

He didn't feel great, and now he was seeing a swirling portal - probably THE portal into the gnomish version of the afterlife - where you never got hurt by your own explosions. He was quite looking forward to death now; maybe Pomegranate would stop haunting him and maybe, just maybe he'd get a chance to rest and work on some new gadgets...

But hold on a second - this wasn't the gnomish afterlife - this was Ben Firenze looking out at him through a hole in the side of a building. But right now he didn't mind the disappointment. Ben may be a haughty SOB, but at least he had access to quality medicine.

"Do I smell chicken wings or have you been playing with your fireballs again?"

Too sore to come up with a snappy comeback, Xeno allowed himself to be helped by Kobayashi through the shimmering portal into the dark and quiet realm of the Temporal Prime.

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