Chapter 108: Mage Hunt, Part III
We left our heroes trying to eliminate the Kitsu mages and their
assistants who are hindering our evacuation of the N'Butu and then get
on with the rest of the Nephilim Exodus. Unfortunately, we ended last
session with one of the mages, a shapeshifter, escaping from the
Tellemataru back to Yazatlan to continue the fight.
Feeling harassed and tired, we knock off for dinner and sleep. Heaven knows what time it "really" is for us, or if that's a sensible question.
Next shift, Dafnord suggests we go after the mages' assistants, the Kitsu hunters who volunteered to stay behind and harass N'Butu, equipped with magical artifacts from the mages. Leave the mages for last.
Accordingly, Tom dowses for one, using a captured amulet. We get a window on a chunk of jungle. Dafnord soon locates the concealed hunter. We open a door behind a slightly above him, and Dafnord, Robbie, and the Gargoyle pile out on top of him. The Gargoyle grapples him, Dafnord gives him a whack with his sword Umbra, and Robbie embeds his head in solid, transparent ectoplasm. The hunter curls up in a little ball and gropes for his magic amulets. He teleports away -- but with his head still encased. He'll have a hard time breathing, wherever he ends up.
We hear a crash a few hundred yards away. Tracking this down, we find the hunter unconscious, bruised, bleeding, and rapidly asphyxiating. Robbie undoes the ectoplastic casing around his head and we hustle him off to an infirmary on the Tellemataru.
Well, that worked fairly well. Next.
The next dowsing leads us to a cluster of N'Butu warriors in a small clearing. We freeze-frame and look around. We find the hunter, barely visible as a man-sized blur, concealed in glamour. We also spot a much smaller blur in mid-air -- something he was apparently throwing at the N'Butu, to spook them, a fire-stick or some such.
We re-arrange doors so the projectile will fall through, into the soon-to-be-blasted desert where, some days ago, we test-fired a starship blaster cannon. This involves having the projectile fly into the pantope, through one door, and immediately out again, through another. Unfortunately--
--it appears that the shock of passing out of one world into another is enough to set off the magic weapon. Lightning flares out all over the place, including into the pantope. The main target turns out to be Robbie. Fortunately, he takes little harm from the strike. Either this causes him to realize, at a deep level, that he's now really magic and not hardware, or this deep realization saves him from the strike. Anyway, he spends the next few minutes giving off left-over sparks and murmuring "I'm magic, I'm magic," to himself.
Back at the pantope window, where we left time in freeze-frame, we see the blur hiding the hunter has nearly crossed the clearing in the brief interval when we let time run. He's heading for the N'Butu, who are starting to react to the aborted explosion. He must be moving very fast.
How fast can he steer? We decide to find out. Tom creates a large slab of ectoplasm (i.e. psychically bound air), gelatinous, adhesive, and also invisible and cloaked against clairvoyance. We then carefully plant it directly in the speedster's path, a few minutes before anyone, N'Butu or Kitsu, came into the clearing. We then go back to the moment we left the blur at. We start time.
How satisfying. Then one of the N'Butu wanders near the invisible trap, with its invisible occupant, and gets stuck himself -- on nothing he can see. We freeze time again, giggle hysterically for a bit, then move the portal under the slab and its two victims, dropping them into the reception area on the Tellemataru.
We gate in and Tom frees the N'Butu, who is rising through octave after octave of panic. Dafnord then hauls him to his feet and says "Fear not!" This has the traditional effect -- he faints. Well, one of the alien, warthog-like Kraslk did happen to wander into the area at this point, which was probably the last surreal straw for the poor N'Butu. We have the Kraslk haul him off to the N'Butu area.
By now, the Kitsu hunter in the goo has stopped wiggling. He's been a yard deep, face-first, in invisible ectoplasm for about two minutes. We disband the ectoplast and check him out. No amulets. No pulse, either. We have him rushed to an infirmary; he can't be more than clinically dead...
Two down, twenty to go. Next.
The dowsing leads us to a cluster of N'Butu warriors, gathered around a very limp Kitsu. He looks dead, but some of them are still beating on him. Uh-huh.
Three down, nineteen to go.
The next dowsing leads us to a large cat, being addressed by an older Kitsu warrior leaning on a spear. Transformed assistant and mage, we reckon, though we don't recognize anyone in any of these shapes. We pile-drive a large slab of invisible goo down on both of them.
The cat is fairly flattened. Through the invisible goo, we see the mage writhing and twisting as he tries to shapeshift into something big, an elephant we think. We don't wait to find out. Desmond starts trying to cast him into stasis at the same time the Gargoyle shapecasts him back into human form.
The mage looks shocked, finding himself in his proper shape, inside an invisible tent of goo. But he rallies quickly, smiles to himself, and drops a bundle on the ground. It falls very slowly, thanks to the half-completed stasis. The big cat, meanwhile, is starting to shapeshift into a big snake.
The bundle hits the ground, giving off clouds of smoke. A small earthquake ensues. The ground opens under the mage, and the old mage-king rises out of it, seizes the slowed mage, and pulls him under. But not before Desmond reaches through to complete the stasis, and maybe slowing or arresting the mage-king. But the ground does close over him, nonetheless.
The snake gets cast in solid ectoplasm about the same time he gets hit with stasis. Well, then, skip the ecotplasm. We haul him aboard and dowse for the mage-king. This however, causes our timelock detectors to go off. Oh, yeah. Apparently, he still hasn't met us in what is, for us, an earlier encounter.
Four down, and maybe one or two mages.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.