Chapter 48: No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy
When last we left our heroes, they were about to provide a diversionary attack on the forces besieging Dinlai's Eyrie. While we're distracting them, Dinlai and Daewen will witchwalk into the fortress and fully activate it's defenses. Or at least that's the plan. Dinlai and Daewen have gone off to a good point for walking off of this world, and we're waiting in the Emerald Metaphor, which has a door open on the canyon where the Pudgie Budgie is parked. When the time is ripe, Dinlai is supposed to rip the ectoplastic card that Tom made her to signal that it's time.
Speaking of time, it's been a while. What's keeping them? Tom attempts to contact Dinlai telepathically. He's quite good at this, having contacted minds of all sorts for years. But all he can get is a vague contact at the empathic level. Through the link he feels fear, excitement and confusion. Despite his best efforts, he's unable to get a firmer link. Perhaps he can raise Daewen? Nope. But that's not surprising, since she's known to have a "quiet mind".
Tom tries to send feelings of "soothing" and "inquiry" and gets back anxiety and worry. Salimar tries to "reach through" Tom's contact. She can tell that Dinlai is not in this world but she can't make a better contact. Well, that would explain why Tom can just barely reach her.
But we're still not sure what's going on. Is this simply nerves, or is something wrong? Tom tries projecting "eager anticipation" versus "doubt". He gets back consternation, worry, doubt and fear. This does not feel good.
Tom, Salimar and Markel go into a tight telepathic contact trying to combine Tom's telepathic link, Salimar's Hex Telepathy and Markel's Qi Dowsing to allow Tom to steer the Pantope to where Dinlai is. After a couple of tries Tom can't get a good fix, but Markel starts to fade out of this world. Salimar extrudes a pseudopod and grabs for him, trying to keep him from falling off the world. Tom creates an ectoplastic rope and loops it around him as well.
While everybody is concentrating on pulling Markel back here, Leila fades into a slightly transparent star-filled void. To Markel's eyes, she's the only one who's solid. She asks him, "Are you in trouble?"
Markel's brow is furrowed with concentration, but he doesn't look worried. "I'm trying to reach Dinlai and Daewen."
Leila looks around. "Are they nearby?" Then she looks at Salimar's pseudopod that is stretched from that world to this 'place'. "What is your friend doing?"
Salimar specializes in Hex skills, so she's able to interact with Markel and Leila, even though they're not quite 'here'. She explains that she's trying to prevent Markel from slipping off the world. Of course, that's what Markel is trying to do.
Leila starts to ask Markel where he's is trying to go to. Of course, there are no words to describe that direction in our language. Instead she taps her forehead with her finger. The tip of her finger glows black. She holds her finger up to Markel's forehead and asks "May I?" Markel nods yes, and Leila makes contact. A moment later she looks at Salimar and says, "Let go." Salimar reluctantly withdraws her pseudopod. Markel and Leila vanish.
Markel experiences something like the trip through a wormhole as portrayed on Stargate. When the trip ends, he finds himself in what appears to be a void or gap in a gray and nasty storm cloud. There are black tendrils reaching in from the sides towards the center of the void, where he sees Dinlai and Leila.
Dinlai is leaning on her staff and looks drawn. When she looks up and sees Markel her eyes widen. "Markel?" He nods. "Daewen is still back in the world we left from an is in danger."
One of the black tendrils is coming closer. Leila points at it and a dark cloud appears around her head. A black bolt of 'lightning' flashes from her hand to the tendril, which retracts hastily. The 'black lightning' continues to flash among the clouds that make up the walls of this place.
Leila looks at the rope that is still around Markel's waist and fading as it stretches out 'thataway'. "I can probably follow the rope back." She then looks at Dinlai, "But I may be able to follow your path back. May I make contact?"
Leila touches Dinlai's forehead with a glowing black finger. Unfortunately, whatever she did to the black tendrils only gained a temporary respite. When she breaks contact, the black tendrils are once more reaching for the trio at the center of the space. "There's no time. We'd better go back this way." With that she grabs the rope and starts fighting her way back along it. The black tendrils fade out before they can make contact. When the gray mists clear, they find themselves back on the deck of the Emerald Metaphore.
Dinlai wastes no time asking, "Who can fly the fastest?" The answer is Robbie, who scoops her up and follows her directions out the door and down the main canyon at his top speed. Tom quickly steers the door after him.
As they fly, Dinlai tells Robbie, "It's OK to drop me if you need to." Robbie readies his weapons. After a quick flight, they reach a cave in the canyon wall. Robbie takes Dinlai at her word and drops her at the cave entrance and continues into the opening. He sees figures beating on a motionless form on the floor. The attackers are four gray-clad and two black-clad dragon ninjas. Robbie opens fire and takes out two of the gray ones. Unfortunately the third target is a black-clad ninja who dodges Robbie's fire and throws back two nasty looking double bladed daggers. Robbie manages to dodge one of the daggers, but the second one thuds home in his chest.
Meanwhile Dinlai has entered the fray. She throws a sphere at one of the remaining gray-clad ninjas. It hits him in the abdomen, and he vaporizes from the point of contact out in a very cool effect. Too bad nobody was watching.
Salimar arrives ahead of the pantope door and takes in the scene. Now that they ninjas aren't huddled around the form on the floor, she can see that it's Daewen and that she's covered in some sort of green sheen. One of the black-clad ninjas is pulling back his arm to punch down with his dagger into her midsection. Salimar wraps herself around Daewen (who's oddly slippery) and starts to pull her towards the cave entrance. The ninja completes his motion. He's missed Daewen, but his blade cuts through Salimar and embeds itself into the rock floor of the cavern. Salimar feels that cut. Which is very odd, since normally her amorphous body can just flow back together after a cut like that.
Meanwhile the remaining gray-clad ninja throws two more of these nasty daggers at Dinlai.
The Emerald Metaphor arrives at this instant. Through the door, the occupants can see:
Of course, our heroes have been able to ready themselves while they traveled. Dafnord has Umbra at the ready. Markel has his extensible metal staff. Kate has her stunner. At least we think its Kate under all that armor. Daphne is flying above them with her bow.
The black-clad ninja with the blades marks Dafnord as the most important target. He throws the blades in his left hand at Dafnord. It hits, but strangely fails to do any damage. He leaps towards the door with the other blade raised. Dafnord swings Umbra. The ninja parries, and Umbra slides down his blade with a peculiar ringing sound. It's amazing that the blade was able to withstand a strike from Umbra. The sword Tom conjured out of chaos and has been honed to the point where the air glows as molecules split when Dafnord swings it. But at least he appears to have done some damage to its wielder.
While Dafnord has engaged the black-clad ninja, Markel swings at the next nearest foe, who's the remaining gray-clad ninja. It's a solid blow, and the opponent goes down. Fortunately there's a moment to regain his balance, because the second black-clad ninja attacks him with one of those blades. Markel parry with his staff, and the blade cuts it in half. That is a sharp blade!
Salimar, the octarine slug, slips into the pantope doorway with Daewen inside her.
Robbie invokes his emergency overrides and shuts off his pain sensors. Or he would if he still had pain sensors. Whatever it he's done, he's able to function once more. Of course he is leaking fire from that wound.
Daphne shots the black-clad ninja attacking Dafnord in the eyes. She managed to blind one of the attacker's eyes. Some sort of membrane appears to be protecting the other.
The gray-clad ninja who Markel knocked down is getting to his feet again. At least until a small black glowing cloud hits him, blowing him across the cavern.
Dafnord and his half-blinded attacker exchange another round of blows.
Robbie englobes the head of the black-clad ninja attacking Markel with a glob of ectoplasm. Almost before the air has jelled, the ninja has shapeshifted it's head out of the ectoplasm. It's head reforms with long fangs and it lunges forward impossibly far and bites Markel on the neck. Markel goes down with blood pouring from the wound.
Three black glowing balls hit the ninja who bit Markel. The 3rd goes through it. It goes down, and it's not getting up.
Daphne glares at the ninja who's attacking Dafnord. He's got one of her wooden arrows in his eye. And her specialty is wood magic. Her lips skin back in a wolfish grin and she growls out "Grow!"
The black-clad ninja gets in one more attack before it drops to its knees, grabs at its head and falls over.
Robbie lofts and puts another round of shots into all of the foes to make sure that they're dead. We then retreat to the Emerald Metaphore. Oops. What about Dinlai? Tom converts the door into a window, moves the window into Dinlai's sphere, and converts it back into a door. We pull her in and Leila reaches out and takes the staff.
Once we're all aboard, Tom closes the door, and reopens it onto Edvard's sickbay. Markel is bundled into the portable autodoc. We try to put Daewen into the Grand Aesclepius autodoc, but it reports that the thing on its bed is a stone, not a body and it can't treat it. We put Dinlai in her place. They're getting the best care we can give them.
Leila stays aboard the pantope with Robbie. That knife sticking out of his chest is getting bothersome. She puts her hand on Robbie's chest, around the blade and pulls it out. She's able to stop the leaking fire, but tells him that he's going to have to see a Djinnish doctor to do more than a field patch.
Now for Daewen. As we carry her back into the Emerald Metaphor, both Salimar and Kate attempt to contact her telepathically. They bounce off of whatever this shield is.
Tom opens the door onto Lanthil, in the drawing room of Daewen's cottage. He carries her out and lays her on the couch. Salimar broadcasts as loudly as she can, "Daewen needs help. Come now."
We all blink when Runyanna steps out of the closet. She mutters something and makes a quick gesture. The only word we can pick out is "wards". The shimmers of light that guard the doors to the private portions of the house go out. As does the light from the windows, which are now dark.
Runyanna continues across the room to her mother, lying on the couch. She bends over to look, and mutters, "Oh, I didn't know that that had ever triggered. How interesting." She gestures again, and the green goes away. "Dafnord, would you carry her into the bedroom?" Dafnord gathers Daewen into his arms and follows Runyanna. Her limbs move now, and the strange slipperiness is gone. He lays her on the bed, as Runyanna directs. Runyanna presses a number of spots on the headboard, and mutters another cantrip that ends in the elvish word for "heal".
The air above the bed starts to glow, and Runyanna relaxes. Turning to us, she asks, "What happened?" We relate our attempt to storm Dinlai's Eyrie. Runyanna asks a number of questions to figure out just when she is. After all, she's not born yet. After we've determined just when we are, she says, "You really mustn't mention that I was here, that the green shield triggered, anything about this healing spell." She sighs. "Confession is good for the soul. I've cheated just the tiniest bit." And she thinks we're surprised? "I was born in this house. I'm able to trigger wards on this house. But they haven't been cast yet. The green stuff is the only thing that's in sequence. That was crafted by Aelvynstar." She pauses, then adds, "If you have to tell someone, you can tell Mother Melusine. She cheats."
We digest this for a moment, and then she adds, "The Fanessa is on her way. I'm going to have to leave. Tom, can you get us a door to an available autodoc and bring Mother back right NOW?" Of course we can. Tom opens the door onto Edvard two weeks in the 'past'. Well, at least we haven't been then and there before. As Dafnord carries Daewen into the pantope Runyanna drops the wards and mutters, "I hate giving away all my secrets."
Last Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2004 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved