Week 7, Rescuing Tambala
We left our heroes in a warehouse in the floating city of the Sultanate. They had just encountered Tumbati and Carson Evans of New Detroit, who were infiltrating the city to rescue Tambala, Tumbati's sister and Carson's fiancee.
Carson was wounded when we first met him. We have packed him off to our hidden camp at the edge of the undercity, to be healed by Lorelei and Sophie. There, Carson tells Sophie that they arrived by horse, both beasts now dead in the long chase. Back upstairs, we plot and plan. Chris, who has been with us invisibly, shows up to Tumbati, and goes to fetch Sophie around midnight, by skycycle.
Later in the night, we are disturbed by the sound of approaching footsteps. This warehouse adjoins a private home by a door. Chris binds the door shut while we all hide and/or turn invisible. Behind the door, Chris Second-Sees our interrupter -- a merchant, probably the owner of this place. The merchant is puzzled to find the door stuck and goes off. Meanwhile, Alag moves a box in front of the door, to provide an explanation for its sticking. Eventually, the merchant and a young man enter the warehouse by way of another door. The young man moves the obstructing crate and they leave without taking or depositing anything. (?)
We remain undisturbed for a few more hours and gather our energies. Then we set out for the slave market we cased the previous day. Tumbati comes with us; we warn him that he may not always see the people he's working with.
Tumbati, Alag, and Lorelei scale the roof. Tumbati stays at the peak to haul up the others as they make the escape. Chris and Tom come flitting up invisibly, on levitation and flying belt, then descend into the courtyard, spotting a guard dozing on a chair. Lorelei turns invisible and descends, casting a magical sleep on the guard.
Tom then spots a guard walking in the courtyard. As the party crosses the courtyard, the guard notices the gravel our feet displace. He starts walking toward the curious sight and Alag has to levitate out of the way. The guard stoops to look at the nearly unnoticeable prints and feel the pebbles. He starts to walk toward Lorelei and Chris, so Lorelei sleeps him.
We then convey him to a bench and prop him in place. Alag takes his keys. Meanwhile, on the second floor, the guard Lorelei slept on the way in falls off his chair with a loud clatter.
We make our way down to the holding cells, but encounter a door. Alag tries the guards keys but none of them work, so he picks the lock. Down in the cellar, there are guards pacing back and forth on night watch. It is ticklish work, but by combining invisibility, mirage, natural sneakiness, and the stolen keys, we float Tambala (under a sleep spell) out of the cell, past the oblivious guard, and back to the door.
At the door, we have an invisible traffic jam, what with keeping ourselves and Tambala out of the guard's way while Alag picks the door and Chris casts glamour over the operation so the door still looks closed when it's open.
Outside, we see another guard (the place is filthy with them) stalking angrily up to the guard we slept on the pebble path. He shoves our victim off the bench, waking him, and starts to bawl him out. We are dancing around this mess and toward the rope out of the courtyard when Lorelei realizes that the formerly sleeping guard is explaining about the strange action on the pebbles, "JUST LIKE THAT!" he says, pointing aghast. So she sleeps them both. Sigh
We get Tambala up to her brother without much more incident, and are two blocks away from the slave market when we see a couple of guards coming out and patrol around. Then it's back to the warehouse and up to the roof where Chris left the skycycle. He ferries Tambala and Tumbati to our camp.
Meanwhile, Tom decides to look around some more for the diadem segment. He gets a very strong, clear reading on the detector, pointing toward a large, elaborate building with lots of towers and flying bridge -- probably a palace. Tom flits off invisibly, on flying belt. As he approaches, he feels an odd flickering, comparable to static or white noise, in the psychic ambiance.
It peaks as he approaches the palace, then cuts out, leaving him in open psi, telepathic links and invisibility intact. A great center of psychic power is flamingly apparent to Tom's psychic senses. He traces it with Second Sight and finds the thing in a heavily guarded suite of rooms. At the center of this suite is a sultan-sized bed containing a sultan. Beside the bed is a filigree box containing the Something, but its exact shape is hidden to Second Sight by the "glare" of its own power.
On the way in, Tom spots strange tendrils and branches of power, twining through the building. As he gets closer he notes they come in two thicknesses -- slender ones that seem to fan out of the palace, into the night, and embrace the city, and tree-trunk arteries of sheer power that stretch illimitably out.
The obvious conclusions is that one set holds up the city and the other holds up the world. The rest of the party is watching all this through Tom's telepathy link, and we debate about what's to be done. (There is, however, interference on the link, reminiscent of the troubles Cantrel had with our psionic communicators.)
If we take the segment, does the city fall down? If we remove it from the pocket universe, does the whole pocket collapse? We CAN'T allow that, but nor can we allow the worldbenders to get this segment. (Bet THEY'D collapse the pocket without a backward glance.) Is it feasible to evacuate the place, including all the various nations of human, Mahars, Dragonfolk, ape-men, and so forth? Probably not.
Tom backs out. This needs a lot of planning.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.