Week 22, Battling Air Spirits
We left Cantrel, Daewen, and Tomukato fighting their way down a corridor infested with Invisible Stalkers. Daewen was carrying the miniaturized Wu, Alag, and Lorelei, which helped the situation somewhat since Wu could make the Stalkers briefly visible with a Detect Magic spell.
Coming to an intersection, they encountered a figure in armor, carrying a sword, pelting along to somewhere. Daewen and Tomukato both jumped him and knocked him out in short order. It proved to be Shirvan. Oops. Meanwhile they are still among Invisible Stalkers. Tomukato does a flying leap through the nearest door and the others follow. There are several people inside, including two guards, Smerdis, his mother, and Shirvan's wizard Cambyses. And little though they know it, the other miniaturized party members are hiding under the door -- Pfusand, Chris, Tom, and Beygar.
Tomukato leaps onto Smerdis, sword at the ready, and says, "You have ten seconds to tell me the location of Kwong Wong Chi [the cat-princess]. Ten..."A guard attacks him but Tomukato beats him down between "nine" and "seven." Daewen covers the other guard with a karate stance and advises him not to breathe heavily. At this point, Smerdis says, "The djinn took her."
Seeing his master unconscious in the hands of these violent folk, Cambyses starts incanting something, but Cantrel disrupts it with a telekinetic shove. He then tries to pull the wand out of Cambyses hand but fails. Smerdis makes a leap for the door Tom is hiding under but, luckily for Tom, is decked by Tomukato. (Tom hastily withdraws and gives the other Lilliputians a summary of events.)
At this point, the Queen Mother vanishes. Daewen knocks out the guard she was covering and then covers Cambyses, to prevent any further magical interruptions. Wu makes this doubly certain by knocking the wand from the wizard's hand and putting a Sleep spell on him. Tomukato, being a creature of one idea, says to Smerdis, "You haven't told me where she is. Five..."
"The gate! They took her through the gate!"
Meanwhile, peering under the door, Chris notes that Cambyses' wand is lying on the floor neglected. "Somebody get that thing!" he pipes. Just then the room fills with butterflies. Nobody can see anything. Cantrel waves his sword about and threatens, Daewen knocks out Smerdis, but nothing helps. Chris therefore climbs under the door and uses his Dicing power to bias the random flight of the butterflies. Soon, they are all confined to the ceiling.
By now, Cantrel and Daewen have noticed the other miniatures. At Lorelei's suggestion, Daewen opens the door to let Pfusand through. (Beygar is nowhere in sight, having fled in panic at one of those terrible screams or roars in the previous episode.) She also hands Tom Cambyses magic wand.
And then Tomukato sprouts leaves all over. He roars in indignation. Daewen shrieks, "I have had ENOUGH!" and, leaping onto a chair, declaims, "I am Daewen the Foreshadower, of the High Elves!" There follows a long speech in High Elvish which only Alag can understand. However we can all see that Daewen is growing in size, looking less and less like a Faen of this world and more and more like a High Elf of Middle Earth.
Around now, Shirvan starts to come around but Wu Sleeps him. Cantrel barks in Earthron, "Tell them that if anything else happens, BOTH kings die." Pfusand obligingly translates. Normally, Tom would have, but he was busy wrestling with a magic wand the size (on his scale) of a young telephone pole. He kicks in his Tools skill and tries to use it to restore Chris to his proper size, but can't manage to wave the thing properly. However, the magic must have backed up, or combined with the Tools skill to make him ABLE to use it properly, or something of that nature, because Tom himself starts to shoot up.
Chris shoos the butterflies out of the room and get enlarged by Tom. Daewen, by now, is at least as tall as she ever was and is surrounded by a faint gray aura (and very little else, her clothing being a dozen sizes too small). All of this is confusing enough, but then something invisible throws Cantrel across the room. Lorelei and Wu (still miniature in Daewen's rucksack) cast spells to locate the thing and throw a few magic missiles in its direction, but nothing seems to connect. Instead, the room fills with a Stinking Cloud, causing several of the party to double up helpless with nausea.
Wu reveals someone invisible holding a wand, just as a massive fireball comes flying from that area for Daewen. She dodges it, which was just as well, since it punches a hole in the wall behind her. Daewen chops with her sword at where she last saw the wand.
When we all pick ourselves up, we find the Queen Mother just fading into visibility. While Cantrel completes enlarging everyone, Wu instructs Daewen to tie the witch up thoroughly and frisk her. The frisking reveals another wand and several pieces of magical armor and other implements worth having.
When Cantrel enlarges Alag, the effect is interesting. He passes his normal height as a Faen and resumes his normally Elven size and proportions. However, his transformation is not as complete as Daewen's, for his face and skin retain their Faen features and dusky coloring. Still, he looks a lot more like himself than formerly.
Wu informs Cantrel that the wand he is using so casually is a Wand of Negation or Cancellation, or something else that makes magic stop. Considering that we are on a flying island, he should be careful with it.
As soon as everyone is the correct size, Tom, Chris, Pfusand, and Cantrel head for the secret armory where all our equipment is stashed. They retrieve all this, plus some extra goodies, and return without encountering any more Invisible Stalkers. When they return, Daewen has congealed her gray aura into a brief and misty tunic. Tom pauses to admire the effect and asks her if this return to her old form is permanent. "I certainly hope so," she says. So does Tom.
Daewen thinks we should dispose of the old woman permanently, having a grudge for that near-fatal fireball. Since no one objects immediately, she seizes the unconscious form and leaves the room via the window.
By the time she comes back (alone), Shirvan is conscious again. Tom and Wu negotiate with him, occasionally translating a threat from Cantrel. Shirvan says he is the only one who can stop the invasion of Invisible Stalkers. Stopping them certainly seems to be the first order of business. We make a pact with him and (through him) with all his followers, then release him and return his weapons. He tells us we must head for the main vent. We know the place well.
Tom approaches the window, does a Detect out of it, and is thus able to see the faintly glowing fist of the Invisible Stalker that knocks him back into the room. Shirvan extracts a box from thin air, removes the great pink gem from it (Remember the pink gem?) and squeezes. The Stalker goes up in bits of shimmer. We exit the window and cross the garden, flailing blindly about us with weapons. Halfway across, Shirvan suggests we all guard him while he conjures again. We circle him, he pulls the gem from the air again, and this time another set of screams shudder through the air, louder and stranger than any we have heard before. We proceed unmolested to the garden wall, scrambling down, climb through the vent (this is easier now that we weigh more than pieces of scrap paper) and head for the spherical chamber with the captive whirlwind in it.
"Everyone get ready," advises Shirvan as we stand on the lip of the vent, looking down into the room. "I'm going to raise the shield, then bring it down again." We scurry down the slope to the glassy dome at the bottom. An opening appears in it and we rush through. Just as it closes, three vague forms come towering up over us in the perpetual wind-storm.
Inside the dome, we find a filigree stand with an empty socket and a machine -- an ornate box with knobs and levels coming out of it. Shirvan puts the gem on the stand and begins moving the levers. A glow appears on the box, starts to wax, then wanes again. This happens twice as Shirvan works the levers. He is puzzled at this and says we must take a look out. He touches the gem to the dome which becomes more transparent. We can see the three giant djinn and the great circular door to the main vent. As Shirvan works the controls, it starts to close, then opens again.
Tom suggests that the djinn may be jamming the mechanism. With Shirvan's permission he examines the controls. There are two sets of levers, one to work the vent and one to work the "scrying windows," as Shirvan calls them, something on the order of crystal balls that let one see far away or into other worlds such as Djinnistan. Tom tries the controls with no better luck that Shirvan. He suggests that there is another set of controls somewhere, and someone is overriding what we do here, like two people dueling with the light switch at opposite ends of a hallway. (The analogy is lost on everyone but Lorelei, Chris, and Daewen.) Shirvan says this is possible but is wasn't in the plans left by great-great-grandfather.
We decide to ask Smerdis about this. Smerdis is suffering from a couple of sleep spells and a good old fashioned sock to the head. After removing spells and doing first aid, we bring him around. He's never heard of an alternate set of controls either, but then he hardly ever poked around this end of the island.
Alag asks if the Stalkers have stopped coming. No, and they won't stop until this room is made airtight, which is why Shirvan is so interested in closing the doors. Pfusand asks how the other operator can see the state of the doors. A good question. Maybe there's a peep-hole around here, or maybe they can use these scrying windows that were mentioned.
We stand around and think. Cantrel suggests opening Chris's bottle with the portable dust-storm in the hopes that it contains a djinni. We try this and call for whoever is inside to come out, but all we get is a lot of dust.
Tom suggests opening the control box and taking a look at the mechanism. Shirvan warns that it is trapped. Cantrel therefore opens it using this thievish skills to avoid the traps. Tom peeks in cautiously, but the controls, though mechanical to a degree, don't really go anywhere. sigh More dratted magic. The floor of the box is stone, but with a stone plug in it. This might lead to the other set of controls. Pfusand obligingly reaches through the traps of the mechanism and pulls out the plug...
...and the dome starts to fill from a geyser of water. Furthermore, she broke the plug in removing it, so she can't just slip it back in place. She and Cantrel try to position it together in the hopes that Cantrel can fire off a Wizard Lock spell, but this fails. Fortunately, the water level stops at about ten feet, which leaves us all treading water or standing on the control panel. (Except Chris, who uses his Alchemy to distill oxygen from the water and breathes that.)
Smerdis: "If you'd untie my hands, I could do some magic of my own. For instance, I could plug the hole with a Minor Creation spell. Then Shirvan could raise the dome to let out the water. I could cloak your warrior here [Cantrel] with invisibility and cast an illusion of him elsewhere. This might leave him free to seek the other controls, if the Stalkers and those three djinn can't see invisible things."
So we release him. He fixes the plug, then notes that the three giant djinn waiting outside are illusory. He dispels them. Shirvan draws his own sword and lends Tom the gem. Tom raises the dome and out goes the water. And something hits Tom again. Down comes the dome, but we've got an Invisible Stalker inside with us. Smerdis turns Cantrel invisible and (being able to see the invisible himself) is thus the only noncombatant to see the Stalker hit Cantrel. He points it out and Shirvan destroys it with his own sword which is, he explains, especially effective against airish beings.
Well, it seems the Stalkers can see other invisible things. Not surprising, really. Meanwhile, we are still standing in about five feet of water, since there wasn't that much floor space at the bottom of a sphere to take up the excess. Tom raises the dome but keeps the edge underwater. Chris goes out, breathing water, and opens the airlocks. We all come sluicing out into the tunnels that some of us explored with Daewen, back when we were small. They don't seem nearly as large now. We explore these looking for hidden control rooms, but find nothing but a small secret door with a nice sword behind it. Daewen takes it.
Eventually, we decide to return to the spherical chamber and open Chris's dust bottle, thus revealing the Stalkers by coating them with dust (mud, actually, given the water that's still back there). This tactic works and we pick off Stalkers in rapid succession. They appear roughly every ten seconds from the center of the storm-ball.
Cantrel, meanwhile, spots something near the zenith, despite the intervening storm. He borrows Chris's dust-bottle and flies up, pausing only to dispatch another Stalker. He finds a glassy ball about the size of an apple in the wall. He locates hidden door and throws a Knock spell on it. It opens to reveal another airlock. So here are the alternate controls. He opens the next door and finds the eight-foot-tall bald man we have been calling Mr. Clean and suspecting of being a djinn. Oops. Cantrel, by the way, is still invisible, but this doesn't seem to help much.
The djinn gestures magically at Cantrel, but Cantrel gestures back with his wand of cancellation. Nothing. But nothing happens when Cantrel tries to cancel the djinn, either. The djinn manages to surprise him with a windy explosion and blows him out the airlock, unconscious but still under his Flight spell.
Seeing this, Daewen has Tomukato throw her into the winds. She flies into the airlock and we see her no more. But meanwhile Shirvan starts closing the doors. Daewen and the djinn seem to be having a good time from the loud explosions and other noises coming from their direction.
Tomukato goes up to join them. He does this by leaping into the winds while Chris uses Dicing to control the flight. On his way in, he passes Daewen being blown out. Some magic missiles crack the wall near her. Daewen manages to meet Cantrel in all that chaos and wakes him up. Around then, Tomukato gets blown out, but Cantrel TKs him back in. He can see the djinn, bleeding now, receive a solid blow from the samurai cat. Then the cat comes sailing out on another explosion.
The djinn makes the mistake of coming to the door and looking out. He is much surprised to see Daewen and Cantrel still hanging around. He also affords a target to the archers, Chris and Alag, who shoot him with arrows. Chris gets slammed to the ground for his pains. Pfusand starts climbing the walls to join in the battle, using the winds as best she may.
Cantrel conjures up his magic shield and starts firing with the cancellation wand. He and Daewen return to the airlock. The djinn turns into a whirlwind and throws Daewen into a corner. Daewen promptly shuts the inner airlock door on him. So much for mucking with the controls. Meanwhile, Cantrel is trying to fight the wind with a sword. He finds the wand of more use, since the djinn is still throwing magic missiles.
Below, Tom catches Tomukato as he slithers down the slope of the room, then borrows Shirvan's airish sword and leaps into the winds, steered by Chris's Dicing talent. He lands at the airlock just as Cantrel receives a terrific shower of missiles. Tom lands one good whack on the whirlwind and gets blown out the airlock, unconscious.
And the winds stop. Shirvan got the doors shut. Pfusand starts falling from about a hundred feet up. Tom is about twice that high. Wu TKs Pfusand over to the wall, where she starts filing her nails to nubbins trying to brake on the way down. Cantrel catches Tom and deposits him.
There is one more tremendous explosion from above and the djinn, in man shape, comes flying out of the airlock, apparently having lost an argument with Daewen. Alag shoots him twice on the way down. He lands, possibly dead, but Smerdis isn't taking chances. He conjures up a flaming roc (or maybe a giant phoenix, however you want to look at it). It finishes off the djinn to the accompaniment of loud screams, then vanishes. Pfusand approaches and prods the body. There is one final BANG and the djinn disappears. Tom recovers consciousness and finds the room empty of winds, djinn, and Stalkers, except for a little dust-devil in the exact center. Daewen calls for a rope. We TK one up to her. It will be interesting to find out what she did to that djinn.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.