Week 14, Dealing with Demons
We left our heroes about to descend to the basement of the demon-ridden house of Joshua Braithwaite. We pull the demon-killing sword out of the wall and take it with us before heading to the basement. We don't know if there's anything special about the sword or not, but it increases the odds in our favor.
We also pause to clairvoyantly compare our watches to the clocks back home. There is a small time-slip, but it's less than a minute. Holmes lost five minutes just wandering around outside. So maybe the effect is fading. We also notice that the signal in the diadem detector is fading, so perhaps the segment is moving beyond our ken, e.g. currently in some hellish netherworld with the door between it and here slowly closing. Let's hope not.
Descending to the basement, we find that long corridor, puddled with mud and water, the air thick with mist. The thickness of the mist varies with the difficulty of using clairvoyance to peer through doors and such, reminding us of the psychically impenetrable mists in the gate between our world and the late Turtle World.
All the doors lead off one side of the corridor. We find nothing more exciting than a boiler room and a room full of spare furniture. The opposite wall is just plain impenetrable to ESP, rather like the insulated volumes under NewYork. (See how travel broadens the mind?)
We also find signs that the foundations of the house are crumbling. Some of the paving stones, recently pushed up by whatever went on here, can be readily pushed back down ... at least by Pfusand. One of the doors is stuck in its frame because the frame has been tilted out of square by the skewing of the walls.
We retreat to the stairwell and start in on the other leg of the corridor. This is even foggier. We find an insulated door, behind which lies the Victorian version of a walk-in freezer -- a cold room full of meats and perishable vegetables. The only other thing of interest is the dumb-waiter.
Pfusand opens it with all due care, starting with a crack at the bottom of the lift-up door. No little demon-toes visible. So she opens it all the way up. Wouldn't you know, this demon was hanging from the lid, monkey-wise? It leaps out and wraps itself around Pfusand's head, claws first. Chris shoots a stun gun at the chimp-demon (and perforce at Pfusand's head). The demon and Pfusand both collapse.
While Lorelei tends Pfusand, Tom drops off the telepathy net to try a contact and possible memory-audit with the icky little demon. But it already looks mummified, and is getting more and more skeletal as we watch. Tom reaches out telepathically and feels SOMETHING in the way of retreating psychic activity, but he isn't even sure it feels like a mind. Hypothesis: the evil spirits that control these demonic bodies aren't very tightly coupled to them and leave them to disintegrate when those bodies are rendered useless. Whether the hypothesis is right or wrong, we've knocked off a demon, thus proving that we can do it.
The mist in the corridor gets thicker. Alag conjures a ball of light by elvish Glamour; Tom adds in a chunk of luminous ectoplasm; Lorelei tries a Deryni handfire. Thomas Edison would be fascinated.
We fruitlessly examine a room full of boxes, damming an inflow of mud with ectoplasm, then press on into the fog. Lorelei spots something moving. A few seconds later, Alag seconds that. He sees it again and shoots at it. He then makes the arrow glow and observes a hand, pierced by the arrow, attached to an arm that sort of fades away into the mud. It is slowly withdrawing. Chris fires the stunner at it.
Just then, Tom screams. An enormously powerful hand has grabbed his leg, jabbing it with its talons as it does so. Tom shoots at it with his laser, but it still holds on. Pfusand grapples with it. A head, with ears like bat-wings, rises out of the mud, and a pair of accompanying arms grabs for Pfusand.
Meanwhile Tom is starting to sink into the mud. It takes the combined TK of Tom and Alag to overcome the strength of this mud-sucker. A second arm seizes Tom, but gets torn off by the counter-pull, to the accompaniment of horrid, gurgling screams.
Chris and Sophie lift off the floor entirely, just as a pseudopod of mud grabs for Sophie. Pfusand and Lorelei are coping with Bat-Ears, and Tom is getting pulled under again.
Alag lofts and shoots at a demon-figure approaching through the mist. There's a shriek and a fireball comes flaming back at Alag. A moment later, a familiar voice cries something irritated in very low Elven. It's Daewen, who just threw a fireball, with Cantrel, who just got shot. Oops.
Alag, meanwhile, takes a shot at Bat-Ears. Something grabs at Lorelei's feet. Chris adds his TK to Tom's, which ALMOST stops Tom's descent. Then he shoots the stunner into the mud under Lorelei's feet. Sophie shoots Pfusand by accident. This day is going sour.
To be continued...
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.