Week 1, What have they become?
Our heroes were last seen tumbling through a short translation tube into a forest somewhere in a universe they hadn't been expecting. On picking themselves up and looking around, they found changes.
For a start the elves, Alag and Daewen, have shrunk considerably. They used to be human-high. Now Alag is about three and a half feet tall and Daewen is a mere three feet. Also, Alag is still fairly thin, though of childlike pro- portions, but Daewen has gone from being svelte to decidedly zoftig. No one else is visibly changed, but we are alerted by the change in the elves and begin testing our various skills and powers.
Tom finds his skills and power unaffected, but on a trial use of Detect Psi, he vibes a strong, strange new kind of psi all over the area. Cantrel has an elf-made dagger from the First Age (now about the size of a bastard sword for a person Daewen's size -- and Daewen would like a sword just now). Tom gives it a psychic once-over and finds it still feels elvish. Dr. Wu, however, gives it a Deryni probe and finds that probing feels different here -- it feels muffled, yet you get more and clearer data. The dagger, for instance, enhances one's skill in handling it, inflicts extra damage, and is very hard to parry. All that information from one lousy probe.
In addition to this dagger and our usual low-tech camping gear, we have a pair of infrared binoculars, the diadem detector (dark), two disflorgers, three worldbender watches, and Daewen's watch, which doesn't adapt to the local calendar like worldbender ones, but which gives you your position in hyperspace. (Tom memorizes the current location.) Cantrel gives Daewen the dagger and Tom's watch, in return for her watch, which goes to Tom, who can use it with his Tools skill.
Cantrel finds his power of flight has changed -- he can't fly as fast, and it takes a slight continuing effort to stay up. Also, the beams from the disflorgers have changed color.
Pfusand climbs a tree for a look around. The woods rise over hills one way, and seem to thin out in the opposite direction. She comes down, reports this, then experimentally tries to turn into a bear, as she was able to do in Middle Earth. She changes into something rather bear-like, but different. It has a rounder head, six-fingered hands, is only as big as the original human shape, and has a black-and-white splotched coat. And it can't change back. Oh. However, Pfusand doesn't consider this shape any more grotesque than a human, so she isn't very upset. After all, she can still speak, walk upright, and use her hands. All humanoids look pretty much alike...
There's nothing to do but explore, so we head of in the direction of the supposed grasslands. As we trek along, we notice that, while most of the trees look something like Earthly ones, there are exceptions. Some look very gnarly, like outsized apple-trees. One is almost spherical, like a giant brussels sprout. We steer clear of them, in case they act as odd as they look.
We come to the borders of the forest and find it does indeed give way to grass lands. A faint trail leads out of the trees a few yards away; we were traveling parallel to it. And some dust is rising over the crest of a gentle rise before us. The IR binoculars show heat rising there, too. Daewen, Cantrel, and Tom sneak up the rise and peer over. We see a company of six UGLY people, looking like unpleasant crosses between apes and Fred Flintstone. They wear partial armor, carry iron-age weapons, are human high and more than human thick. About twice the mass of a man. And they don't look like Middle Earth orcs, either. They are moving athwart our path, toward the trail. The party lays low and watches them strike the trail, heading into the woods on it. We follow at a discreet distance.
Re-entering the woods, we see more of the two odd species of tree. The gnarled ones may also have thorns, big ones. Soon, we smell smoke in the distance and hear screams. Daewen climbs as oak, peers, and silently gestures for us to advance. We come to the edge of a large hollow or clearing, containing two of the gnarled trees, extra large. Brick chimneys and straw thatching peek out from among the branches here and there. All is built on a small scale. Fire rises about the bases of the trees and little elven folk, like Alag and Daewen, are throwing rocks and shooting arrows out of the trees at the nasty brutes, who are obviously pillaging.
So far as we can see, these brutes are The Bad Guys. Also, they are attacking people of the same race as some of our party. Cantrel therefore picks out what he hopes is the leader and shoots him with a crossbow. Daewen (up in the tree), Tom, Pfusand, and Alag follow suit. A lively scrum ensues. Tom unlimbers the spear Victoria gave him and uses his Knack of Tools to wield it in the deadly manner of its mistress. Daewen gets winged from a tree by an enemy archer, but the idiot follows her down and plants the next bolt in the back of his companion when Daewen lands at his feet. In the end, we kill three of them. One flees but Cantrel trips him up with TK. Daewen knocks him unconscious and nails his ear to the ground. Meanwhile Cantrel tracks down the two remaining. He gets one of them. The other gets to make a demoralizing report back home about how horrible we are.
Meanwhile, the elves have come down from their tree and are making grateful- sounding noises. Lord knows what they mean; none of us, not even the elves in the party, understand the local language. We postpone the language lessons and help them put out the fires.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.