Back to Middle Earth
Week 5, Licking our Wounds
As we tramp away from the battlefield, Tom asks Daewen what Darkmoor was doing here. She supposes that he was drawn by the rumor that the dragon's hoard is now unprotected. Or maybe he was searching HER out, since they have some long-standing grudges. Tom asks if there is a preventative for the mind-control he used in the recent battle. She says that she would tell another elf to close its mind, but she doesn't know how to advise humans on the subject.
Well, except for Tom and Pfusand, everyone else in the party is Deryni and thus equipped with mental shields, so that's some protection. On the other hand, Darkmoor seemed able to control three Deryni in the last battle, even though their shields were only down far enough to allow the telepathic rapport net. It may be that the rules for mental combat are different in Middle Earth.
We head north, to the "back" of the mountain, and find a gap in the walls, full of rugged but climbable terrain. Traversing this, we head for the lake, where fish and frogs offer some hope of food. There is also a small patch of forest there.
Five days pass in foraging food, sometimes using elven speed with a fishing bow, sometimes using Deryni mind-control to summon up hibernating frogs, sometimes just grubbing around for edible plants. The light and smoke of campfires begins to show up in Dale as refugees from the late dragon's attack make their way toward the mountain. Tom resumes friendly relations with Daewen on a less infatuated footing and discovers that, aside from being an elven knight errant (dame errant?) she is really rather an ingenue.
Meanwhile, what are we to do with her? We didn't exactly ask her to join the party -- we all just decided to exit the mountain together. Then we had this pitched battle and lost a comrade, and it never seemed expedient to split up. Now, though, we have this pantope to catch. Tom tries to be as honest as he safely can. He explains to her that his party is still on their rather secret quest for this crown, see, and they are oath-bound to keep several secrets, so would she excuse them while they went back to the Lonely Mountain on some secret business? Daewen is not offended and agrees not to follow them. If she hadn't agreed, there would have been nothing we could do to stop her short of armed violence, which would probably have cost us another member of the party, at least.
The party is rather surprised to make it back to the mountain and into the pantope without further incident. We disconnect and lay plans. Dr. Wu and Cantrel have concocted a scheme they call the "Gandalf Gambit." We will open a window from the pantope and get a good look at Gandalf. Wu, who has the Deryni skill of shapechanging, will assume Gandalf's form. We will then pose as ANOTHER party of adventurers under Gandalf's guidance, who are here on a quest for a crown, and Wu (as Gandalf) will tell the dwarves to help us look for it.
Accordingly, Tom opens a window from the pantope on the wall before the Mountain's gate, then drives it quickly forward through a couple of weeks. Eventually, we come across the tense confrontation, where the Lakemen and the elves of Mirkwood are about to take up battle with Thorin's company and the troops of Dain Ironfoot. Suddenly (and exactly as described in the book), Gandalf rises up and commands attention. An army of orcs, riding wargs, are descending on them. Elves, dwarves, and men quickly join ranks against the common foe and the plot proceeds.
Meanwhile, in the pantope, we are recording all this for all we're worth. When Gandalf strides off to join the council of the Elven king, Bard, and Dain, we disconnect and play it all back.
Wu is able to mock up a very convincing Gandalf. On close inspection, there seems to be some spark or je ne sais quoi missing. Possibly Gandalf was using High Presence or a similar patharchic skill at the time of recording. Wu doesn't have that skill, but we'll hope that Gandalf doesn't use it all the time, and that Wu will pass. Tom recommends that "Gandalf" vanish mysteriously as soon as possible, so that Wu doesn't have to keep up the pretense very long.
We will now try the Gandalf Gambit two weeks after the real Gandalf has left the vicinity with Bilbo and Beorn.
I forgot to mention what we did with Fogi's body. After boarding the pantope, Tom backup up to the time and place where we left it (in a tree a week ago) and collected it. He then had the autodoc put it in stasis, so it wouldn't get any deader, and we discussed what to do with it.
The autodoc thought there was a chance of resurrection, but it would put a hefty dent in the resources available for that kind of thing. We might need them urgently, someday. (Cantrel in particular urged this point. He doesn't want to waste a resurrection on someone who was not, he felt, a valuable member of the party.)
Tom considered putting Fogi back in the cartoon world where we found him, in the hopes that he would turn back into a cartoon chicken, probably with stars dancing around his head, but alive. However, there was also a chance that he would turn into a cartoon chicken NOT alive -- say broiled or fried. Also, someone would have to convey the body thither and become a cartoon himself, thus going relatively insane.
In the end, we just left him in stasis. If we lose, he's dead anyway, or as good as dead (Tom thinks). If we win, we may be able to use the diadem to resurrect him, or maybe the autodoc will still have enough juice to do it, or maybe we can go someplace where there's plenty of resource for that sort of thing.
So Fogi is laid to rest in the hope of a resurrection -- if not the "sure and confident" hope you read of on gravestones, then at least a cautious and tentative one.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.