Chapter 109: Mage Hunt, Part IV
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. We had nailed four assistants, and maybe one or two mages.
Our next target is a guy up in a tree. We catch him in freeze-frame, in the act of flicking a stick into a clearing, at a small gathering of N'Butu warriors. The stick is very likely a magical incendiary. We try to catch it with our portals, but, remembering the way the last incendiary exploded when we did that, we gate it into our armored airlock.
Alas, this one explodes before it even goes through the portal. The net result is a scorch mark on the ground midway between the Kitsu in the tree and the N'Butu on the ground, who start fleeing in panic. Oh well, this isn't quite as bad as the result would have been. We proceed to encase the fellow in jellied air, then, when he stops twitching, release him to fall to the ground. Along come a couple of N'Butu. With spears. They use them. We leave. Five down.
Next: A patch of apparently empty jungle. We're used to that. Eventually, Dafnord looks up and spots an extremely large bird soaring overhead. Probably a transformation. We move our portal and Dafnord shoots it with his goop gun. It crashes rather harder than we expected, so Dafnord steps out and administers a coup de grace with his sword, Umbra. The bird then turns into a Kitsu hunter, in two installments. Six down.
Next: We tune in on a guy in a cat-skin cape. His proportions look odd, and he's peering at another cluster of N'Butu, on the other side of a bush. Probably means to turn into a big cat and leap on them. We open a portal behind him and Robbie tries to encase him in air-gel. He fails spectacularly, encasing himself.
Tom freezes time, removes the unwanted ectoplasm and double-checks the timelock detector on the helm. No timelocks. We see that the guy has morphed a little more, melting into the cat skin, confirming our theory. We open the portal and Tom tries this time, producing unsightly piles of jellied air all around him.
Well, heck. Dafnord takes the direct approach and leaps through the portal to whack him with his sword. He chops a chunk off the cat skin, but the man himself vanishes. And the N'Butu have heard the thrashing in the bushes, and are now stalking toward Dafnord. He jumps back into the pantope, taking the chunk of skin with him.
Using it as a dowsing token, we tune in on the guy again, and get a Kitsu in a (slightly tattered) hide cape, in the middle of an arcane gesture. Perhaps just finishing a teleport.
We try the jellied air again. This time, instead of trying to form it around him, we make a big wad of it and slam it through a portal down on top of him.
Bits of burning jellied air splatter all over, including back into the pantope, but not onto him. He's in the middle of a clear circle, his hands over his head in a repelling gesture.
Okay, how about stunners? We have three or four kinds among us. Kate, Robbie, and Gannar all shoot at him through a portal. He ducks just in time and vanishes.
Furthermore, we can't dowse for him any more. He's blocked it. Oh well, on to the next target.
This one is a fellow climbing a rock outcrop, with some N'Butu on the other side. He sets off our timelock detector. Onto the next target.
We get the same guy, a short time later, still timelocked to us. How odd. And he doesn't look familiar. Someone we encountered later in a transformation?
We try a new token, and get a new guy. He's creeping down a game trail. Dafnord leaps out of the portal, sword swinging, and ... bisects him. Urk. Even after the coup de grace with the bird, we weren't quite ready for that. We thought he'd be ... tougher. Several of us lose our lunches; it's not like we were D&D characters in a dungeon-crawl, after all. Seven down, anyway.
We clean up the pantope and try the owner of the magical cat skin again. Still nothing.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.