Cythera TSes are back...so are the long silences
Leaving the Tavern, a small band of adventurers headed east toward Odemia.
There was some quiet discussion about what the strange event reported by Tlepolemus might be, but no one was really quite sure. Most agreed that they would simply have to take a boat and investigate.
With that thought in mind, they moved quickly toward their destination...
The group that had left with Rapierian from the Tavern was still rather small at the moment. Shanadar had remained behind in Cademia for a short while so that he could finish some business he had to attend to. Likewise, Sécundus had not left with the group as he had in the past. Sécundus had decided to take a break from these adventures for a while, and so, he was not going to be joining them this time.
Wizard did however leave with Rapierian, mostly to watch the necromancer's actions. He traveled not far behind Rapierian; he couldn't help but think that this corrupted sorcerer had something to do with all of these lights in the water by Odemia.
They were making good time, having already crossed over the bridge of the Sitia River. Wizard glanced back west toward Cademia. He deeply hoped that more adventurers had decided to tag along and were coming to join them now.
-Meanwhile, in Pnyx-
Cyrus was late. Again. Not that it mattered.
Cyrus was born to an ordinary family in Catamarca, where at an early age it was discovered that he had an aptitude for magic. As such, the boy soon found himself an apprentice at Pnyx, to learn magic. This may not have been the best move by his parents, for it soon turned out that he had an aptitude, all right-- an aptitude for making mistakes. His Alchemy concoctions overflowed or vanished, any runes he tried to draw tended to go up in puffs of smoke (if not worse), and he had been barred from learning Healing after the explosion. Even the simplest light spell, instead of working as intended, gave off a smell of rotten eggs.
Cyrus had barely made it through his first year, and if this kept up, he would soon have a bright new future. As the janitor. His one bright spot was that he didn't have that much magical power in the first place-- if he had to, he could take up some other occupation with little difficulty. But for now, he was nearly late for his Alchemy class. And here he was, on the opposite side of the school from the classroom. He'd never make it in time. And this time, he probably would be kicked out after all.
For weeks, Cyrus had been working to master one spell, one that could send an object from one place to another. He could actually manage it, as long as the object was not much bigger than a small pebble. But now, from either foolhardiness, stress, or absolute time pressure, Cyrus decided to use it.
"Urr na k'nrido..." Cyrus chanted, starting the incantation for the spell. He immediately realized it was a mistake. Unfortunately, something had already gone wrong. Although he tried to stop a torrent of words he didn't recognize from pouring out of his mouth, Cyrus couldn't. It was as if he had no control over his own body. Faster and faster he chanted, as the world around him began to swim... then there was a great whoosh , and everything went black.
Cyrus woke up. Where was he? It was definitely not a part of Pnyx. He was in a sealed cave, with no exits, though there were four solid stone pieces of wall on the far side of the room. A stone pedestal was glowing softly, providing enough light to see by. And on top of the pedestal...
On top of the pedestal was a gold pendant, with a red gem in the center. The pendant was on a chain made of an unknown, silvery metal. Cyrus walked closer (it was the only thing he could do), then saw that there were some words written on the pedestal.
He who needs me, hears me
He who hears me, shields me not
He who steals me, fears me
He who fears me, wields me not
At this point, a very strange thing happened. From somewhere he couldn't pin down, a voice said, _Hey, you! How did you get in here, anyway?
_ Cyrus looked all around, but couldn't see anybody. Thinking that it would be best to be polite to any/all voices whose origin he couldn't see, he tentatively replied "Ummm... well, I was trying to teleport myself to class because I was late and they'll expel me and I don't have that much control or power and every spell I do fouls up but I had to risk it. And here I am."
The voice spoke again. Mageling, huh? it said. Suddenly Cyrus had the impression of an invisible hand rummaging about in his head. It stopped as the voice said _Yeah, you'll do. Pick me up, so we can get out of here!
_ "Ummm... but who are you?! And where are you?"
_Isn't it obvious? I'm stuck right here on this pedestal!
" You said that!" Cyrus said to the pendant.
This conversation is going nowhere. Put me on already! I'd like to point out that this is your only way out of here, so you don't really have a choice.
Cyrus hesitated. What about the inscription? Well, he needed this thing (he guessed) and he'd heard it (he was pretty sure). What could possibly go wrong?
It is never a good idea even to think that.
As Cyrus lifted the pendant from the pedestal and slipped it over his head, hidden runes on the pedestal flared to life, sending a screeching wail throughout the chamber.
- &$m. I forgot about the security system,_ said the pendant. By the way, since you're a mage and all, you might as well get ready to use some of that magic you've got in there, it continued.
Cyrus got as far as "But--" before a loud, low rumbling blotted out his words. The four stone slabs behind the pedestal slid aside, and four 7-foot tall demons stepped out.
In Pnyx's great library, there is a book that details what to do if you're ever face to face with a demon. It boils down to these three choices: 1) run, 2) destroy the demon, or 3) get eaten. Cyrus had never seen this book, but his mind came up with these three possibilities anyway. #1 was impossible (there was nowhere to run to), #2 was highly unlikely, and #3 appeared to be an extremely bad idea. Of course, these weren't most demons. The largest of the demons steadily advanced towards Cyrus. He covered his eyes with an arm. This was it. This was the end. Then, the demon stopped a few feet away from him, and in a tone half skeptical and half been-through-it-all, said "Another one, huh? All right, standard spiel. What's your name, how did you get in here since the door's still bricked up, and where are you going with that?" The demon indicated the pendant with one clawed hand. Cyrus uncovered his eyes. First bossy jewelry, now talking demons?! The was getting to be his weirdest day in years. "Welll..." he heard himself say, "I'm Cyrus, I accidentally teleported myself in here, and this thing told me it was my only chance to get out of here, and to put it on. So I did." The head demon groaned. "The usual. Should have known. Right: You lot eat him. I'm going back to bed." At once the other three demons turned and advanced on Cyrus.
There wasn't anywhere to run to, but Cyrus ran anyway. The pendant blared at him, Quick! Do something!
"But what--" said Cyrus, as made a quick left turn right before the wall.
Anything! Use your magic, mageling!!
With foreboding, Cyrus thought back to the class on offensive spells, and selected a quick one that was supposed to throw a mild electrical bolt at the target. He spoke the 5 syllables to activate the spell.
Immediately, all light in the cave went out.
That's a neat trick! Can you do it again? the pendant said.
"No! I--" SHUT UP! Those demons have ears, you know. Think your answers and I'll hear them. _
Ok... should I try to cast something else?
_ The second spell, intended as a low-power shield, instead ignited Cyrus's many attempts to grow a mustache. His yell did not go unnoticed by the demons. The pendant, in his head, made a sound approximating a groan. _
You: do you know a spell for teleportation? Any at all?
I'm going to try and take control of your willpower. I can only do this once in a very blue moon, so don't expect any repeats.
Cyrus suddenly detached from himself, as the pendant took total control. It was a strange feeling, looking from his viewpoint as only a passive observer. He heard himself say the words of the teleport spell he had used before. The world began to swim. Then, the dark cave was replaced by a short fall to the surface of a Cytheran road. Right in the middle of a band of surprised adventurers.
Cyrus looked up at the stern faces staring down at him, blades hovering ready, and said,
This post has been edited by SoItBegins : 16 April 2008 - 04:20 AM
"Who goes there?!", shouted Tlepolemus. The boy that had appeared infront of them slowly lost the purple glow of magic. "Ah! Please don'tkill me! I'm just a student, a bad one!", "What are you doing here boy? There's many strange happenings in these lands and I'm quite willing to add your name to the list. Speak, what's your name?", the boy got up and dusted himself off, "My name is Cyrus, second year student at the Pnyx! I was trying to get to class, and I used this spell.. well, there were demons!", "Calm down boy, calm down. Alright, you can stay with us untill we arrive at Odemia. Once we're there we'll sort all of this out, for now stay low and quiet." Tlepolemus continued to lead the party onwards towards Odemia. Cyrus couldn't tell if he was more confused or frightened. For now the amulet seemed to be a bit quiet. What was going on?
Some miles away...
"Where are we?" said one, "This no cave." said a second, "No kidding!" said the third. Three demons appeared out of nowhere in what seemed to be a swamp. "Where's boss?" said the first, "He taking nap, remember?" said the second, "I'm scared! What are we to do brothers?" said the third.
Yomu wasn't to surprised when the boy appeared, abnormal occurrences seemed to follow these people. Still they continued as their small party slowly grew, maybe more would follow?
Aster had agonised for a long time about whether to join the party. He was scared of most of the band, except for Wizard, as the old man hadn't done anything worse than accidentally trip him up. Yet there had to be more to life than sitting in the tavern, mouldering over a tankard of grape juice. After a few minutes in thought, he dropped some money on the bar and left.
He had noted which way the party had gone, but it was hardly necessary. Aster's social skills and weapons ability might have had a lot to be desired, but his skills at tracking more than made up for it. He could see the way the adventurers had gone as clearly as if they were walking down the path in front of him. Stirred dust had settled to the ground, covering the grass to both sides of the track, and the odd footprint made it all the more easy to judge directions. It looked like a fairly small party, but at intervals it was joined by additional sets of footprints. However, it was still several hours away.
Aster smiled, but there was no humour in it. The further away the band of adventurers were, the longer it would be til he had to introduce himself.
Shanadar jogged along the path to Odemia, feeling rather indignant that his compatriots had left him behind. On the other hand, he really wasn't fond of adventures, and would have just as well let them take care of this little disturbance on their own, except for the fact that his equipment had already been purchased.
Silently chastising himself for buying the absolute heaviest load-out he could still run with, the Enforcer was so lost in thought that he hardly noticed Aster checking the group's tracks ahead of him, and had built up far too much momentum to stop the time he noticed this obstruction.
Verily, they collided, and there was such a clammer, that surely all of Cythera would have awakened from its slumber had it still been asleep to wake!
Surprisingly still conscious, the battered Enforcer propped himself back up, and looked around him for the poor sap that he'd just steamrolled. Sure enough, Aster lay nearby, visibly dazed--jarred even--by the sudden impact.
"Sorry about that" Shanadar apologized weakly, "Are you ok?"
This post has been edited by ~vIsitor~ : 28 November 2008 - 01:40 PM
Aster waited a few moments before he got up. The shock of being landed on - let alone landed on by the combined weight of the Enforcer and all his gear - had shook his already falling-in-pieces-around-the-landscape confidence. He reached for his pendant, and was slightly reassured by its familiar contours.
"Um... yeah, I suppose..." he mumbled, trying to remember who the figure in front of him was. He'd been at the Tavern, Aster could remember that much. But the man's name eluded him.
"Are you trailing our compatriots as well?" the aforementioned person enquired.
Aster shrugged, trying to indicate with a gesture that it wouldn't really matter if he was following the others because he wouldn't be of much use in most circumstances. Now he had gotten over the initial scare of the collision, he found that he was actually not that terrified at all, as he would normally have been when holding a conversation with a person he didn't know all that well.
"Yeah, I s'pose." he said, by way of interpretation.
The man nodded, and said, "My name is Shanadar, if you didn't already know that."
He extended a hand.
"Aster." said Aster, and took it.
After traveling for several more hours, the group, or those of them that were there, finally arrived at Odemia.
Initially, Wizard was trying to keep both eyes on Rapierian, but after someone named Cyrus seemed to teleport in front of them, Wizard had his hands full. At first glance, this young man claiming to be a student from Pynx seemed harmless enough, but the old mage could sense some strange sort of power emanating from the pendant he wore. He thought it wise to watch both Rapierian and Cyrus.
As they entered Odemia, they decided to first go talk with Judge Sacas about these strange lights under the water. After that, they would wait until evening to take a boat out and see if they could solve this enigma. Wizard regretted that they would have to wait until it began to grow dark to go boating, but everyone knew that if they went in the broad daylight, they would be very unlikely to find the lights that Tlepolemus told them about.
After some discussion, it was decided that it would be safer to at least investigate the area where Tlepolemus said he had seen the lights during the day. This way, they would have some idea what they might find there in the dark.
Sacas had nothing new to tell them, save that the lights had been seen again the night before and that she had a boat waiting for their use.
The group decided to rest for the night and to head out in the morning. Nothing unusual happened at all during the night, except that several other adventurers showed up and joined the party...
Morning found the party down at the banks of the sea investigating the boat that Sacas had given them. After talking once more with the Judge and with Tlepolemus, they boarded the boat and headed out to sea toward the area that Tlepolemus had pointed out to them.
Remembering Tlepolemus's story, everyone was expecting a Scylla attack or something even more dangerous.
Surprisingly, the sea was calm, and the boat plowed steadily through the water toward its destination.
"I don't like this," Wizard muttered to Shanadar. "Something is not right."
"Such as the fact that you have an empty space in your head? Or is that a good thing in your case?" Rapierian asked from behind the two.
Wizard spun around, but, before he could give his angry retort, someone exclaimed, "What in the world?"
Near the front of the boat, the water was swirling rapidly in circles forming a powerful whirlpool.
Suddenly, the boat rocked as it was caught in the water.
"Can you steer us out of here?" Shanadar yelled at the navigator, as he struggled to maintain his footing.
"Oh, come now, would you really like to run from your quest?" Rapierian chided the Enforcer. "It seems what passes for your mind is failing in your old age...of course, that's assuming you ever had something that passed for one. Anyone care to theorize on that?"
"I fail to see how escaping a trap is giving up," Shanadar growled back at him.
"A trap?" Wizard said over the increasing rocking of the boat. "No, it's more than that. This is no ordinary whirlpool. . .it's artificial!"
"What?" Yomu yelled, struggling to be heard over the roaring of the water.
"He's trying to tell you all that this whirlpool is the source of the strange green light seen by the poor, simple people on yonder bank. Alas, that his storytelling skills are so poor!" Rapierian sighed dramatically. "Of course, it is in line with the rest of his character. Perhaps, we should toss him overboard to lighten the load and flatten the whirlpool."
Ignoring the necromancer, everyone else engaged in the frantic struggle to free the ship before it was sucked into the water.
Rapierian turned to Aster.
"I say, my boy (if you're human and not some sort of shapeshifter or some such thingâ€”you're probably human...most shapeshifters are more stoic), you look somewhat ill. Perhaps, you need a potion? I have one that would help: it's either a mild sedative or a powerful poison, I forget. Either way, you'd feel better."
Before Aster could even notice him, a ray of bright green light shot up out of the center of the whirlpool. A jet of hot wind blasted over the adventurers, knocking all of them to the deck.
At that same moment, the force of the whirlpool diminished considerably.
Staggering to his feet, Aster happened to be facing toward Cythera when he raised his head and saw something he most certainly had not expected to see.
"It's gone!" he cried. "Cythera is gone!"
It was true: there was no sign of the land of Cythera at all. Only an endless ocean encircled them on all sides.
A chorus of voices and questions broke out.
"It was something to do with that green light," Shanadar bellowed, his voice loud enough to silence the others. "Somehow, it has changed everything."
Yes...in more ways than you know...
Everyone jumped, almost as surprised at the sudden voice as they had been at the disappearance of Cythera.
Glancing around, their eyes came to rest on tired, old hunchback standing in the center of the boat and who had not been standing there a moment before.
"Magpie?" Wizard asked, surprised. The hunchback seemed to have aged a million years and he was not speaking in his usual riddles.
Yes...time is short. You must listen... Magpie seemed about to collapse for a moment but somehow he forged on. This whirlpool is artificial...it is a time portal.
"The Undine," Rapierian commented. "Always like them to do things the boring way."
Having failed in their efforts to corrupt Alaric, they constructed this portal. They used it to send an agent of theirs back into the past...to kill my son...without him, the Undine were able to overwhelm the other elements and the humans, drowning Cythera in the waves. My powers have sustained me against the change, but they are fading.
The aging elemental paused and collected himself before continuing. Only the facts that you were caught in the distortions caused by the time portal and that I have used what is left of my failing power to preserve you has kept you all from being erased. Time is short...you must enter the time portal, stop the Undine's agent, and save Alaric...there is no other way. Now, hurry...the portal will not last much longer.
With that, Magpie faded out of existence, disappearing as suddenly as he came.
"We have no choice," Shanadar said grimly.
With that, the boat was turned to cut directly into the center of the shrinking whirlpool. Looking down, they could see a faint circle of green light in the middle of the whirlpool. Obviously, this was the portal itself.
"Can someone explain what just happened?" a voice yelled over the increasing noise.
"Oh sure, the Undine made a time portal, sent something back in time to kill Alaric and thus destroy Cythera, and now we must save him and get a chance to mess up the spacetime continuum," Rapierian replied.
With that, the boat shot downward into the portal and vanished in another flash of green light.
Hundreds of years earlier...
The boat shot upward out of the water, leaving everyone wet and sputtering.
Cythera was the first thing that everyone looked for, and, sure enough, there it was. However, there was something different about it. From a distance, it was browner and less green. The air around them was hotter than usual and the sky above them was a darker shade.
"When are we?" Shanadar managed to ask.
"Sometime before the rise of Alaric, I should think. At any rate, the land looks that way," Wizard replied. "Come we must get to land! That agent will have a lead on us already! By the way, remember that mages are not allowed in the land at this time, nor is boating an encouraged activity. Also, please try to minimize any interaction with your surroundings: we don't want to mess up the timeline in some other way."
"Why not?" Rapierian asked. Before Wizard could answer, the necromancer pointed at the water around the boat. "By the way, here is a good chance for everyone to learn how much rougher the seas used to be. For example, one might observe the number of scylla converging on this boat."
Sure enough, Rapierian was right: Scylla were everywhere and were closing on them rapidly.
Its head broke the surface of the water, and it strode upward onto the beach.
It had been well-prepared for its task. Its dress and appearance already resembled those common of Cytherans at this time. Beyond that, it was impervious to almost any assault.
The only difficulty in the whole mission had been the necessity to construct the portal next to Odemia. Unfortunately, the conditions there had been perfect for the mission.
Pausing to get its bearing and doublecheck that it was at the right time and place, it turned and headed south toward Catamarca...
Yomu did not like the sea, he had been here only once before and even then he was inside it. His world spun out of control as the waves bashed the vessle before it's emergence into somewhat calmer waters. He was awoken by the cold wet grasp of a Scylla's tentacle digging into his arm. "Ahh!" he cried as he yanked the monster's limb from his self, his arm began to bruise and then the pain set in.
"We must make it to shore!", he sceamed over the clamer of battle, "Really? What ever gave you that idea!" replied Wizard trying to keep the boat afloat. Yomu withdrew himself into the center of the boat and looked through his pouch, eventually he found something useful. Yomu nudged his way to the rear of the boat and set upon it a small grey barincle. As soon as the barnicle had been splashed with water it grew and grew and grew! The barinlces spread throughout the entire boat as the mother grew bigger, strangely enough as this happened some Scylla tentacles strangely disappeared. The group jumped as a strange screech was heard from the rear of the boat, they all looked back to see the horror of the Scylla's dreaded head. Yomu slammed into the back of a boat and a more horific scream was heard has the Scylla's once mighty head was consumed by the recently awaken Barnicle mother.
"What in the world is going on-" someone said but they were cut off by the jolt of movement from the boat. The Scylla now gone the barincles moved on to look for food, owards the shore. "Wait, aren't barnicles stationary?" questioned Aster, Yomu simply replied by saying, "Don't question it."
They arrived on shore and their boat slowly decentigrated as the beings that once helped them slowly died and disappeared. "That was quite an experince," Rapierian let out, "however this seems stranger.". Everyone turned to what Rapierian was looking at, the waves were slowly washign away large foorprints heading south.
Aster had been thinking for a while, nearly oblivious to the Scylla. They had been easy to deal with - they were out to kill him. They hadn't wanted to make polite conversation or introduce themselves, and as far as Aster was concerned, they just weren't quick enough to do any serious injury.
He slipped over towards Wizard.
"Wizard?" he asked nervously.
The old man nodded in acknowledgement.
"About what you said before, about how we shouldn't affect the surroundings too much, because that would mess up the timeline. Well, we're in the past, so anything we do... Won't it already have been done, because we were here before? And since there's a Cythera in the future, so haven't we succeeded? Or will succeed. Whatever. I'm not sure I have the proper grasp of this stuff."
Aster realised he had just made a longer speech than any other in his life.
With no other leads, the party started down the shore, following the lone pair of foot prints. A few minutes walking through the sand, they came across a curve in the coast and a large rock blocked the view of what was around the bend. This was perfectly normal, but the muffled groan of pain wasn't. The party slowly edged around the rock, being ever so cautious because of the fact that they had no idea what they were hunting.
As they cleared the corner, the party found the source of groaning. A young man lay face down in the sand. His shirt was torn and some blood, presumably his, was splattered around the general area where he lay. Wizard cautiously walked over to the man. As he approached, the man slowly pushed himself up and staggered to his feet. His knees wobbled and he clung onto the rock to stay up. There was an awkward silence as the party looked at the man, and the man returned the looks.
Since the man was standing up, the party was able to guess more of what happened. The tear that started on the back of his shirt extended to the front, where it stopped near his heart. A red smear followed the tear as it reached his ribcage and stopped at the same place. His pants were also cut and had various areas where he was bleeding. The man turned his head to cough and violently shook, falling back to the ground. Wizard, standing nearby, bent down to help the man roll back over.
The man waved off Wizard's hands, silently stating that he was fine. This time when he stood up, he staggered a little bit, but remained standing without having to use the rock for support. He wiped a trail of blood from his mouth.
The awkward silence continued on for a few minutes, only briefly being interrupted by the man's coughs, but they weren't as bad as before.
Finally the man spoke, in a raspy tone, either from a lack of water, lack of not speaking to anyone in a while, or because of his injuries. "So.. who are you people?" The man was met with more silence. "Okay... I'm guessing you can speak. Let's try this again, I'm Radik and you would be?"
This post has been edited by Dark Jet : 01 December 2008 - 01:16 AM
"Oh them?" Rapierian replied before anyone else could answer. "They're a traveling circus heading to Catamarca in hopes of finding work...I doubt they'll succeed. Their act is really quite bad. Either that, or they're a group of time-traveling heroes here to perform heroic deeds and 'save' the world from an incredibly diabolic fiend. I, on the other hand, am bent on global domination, if that's fun anyway. Failing that, I'll just settle for making your life miserable. Or, maybe, I'm kidding. Who can say? Now, excuse us, sir (and I use the term loosely, but we really must be going."
Radik stared at him for a moment before replying, "You're insane."
"Yes, he is," Wizard replied hurriedly. "We really must get to Catamarca to see if we can find him help. Are you sure you are alright?"
Radik nodded and said, "I suggest being cautious if you go there. The Tyrant is there on one of his vacations, 'tis said. Likely to be lots of guards around."
"Thanks, for the warning," Shanadar answered.
The group hurried on their way.
Behind them, Radik watched them go.
Curiosity getting the better of him, he carefully began to follow them...
Cyrus was following along, still a bit dazed from the time transition, when the pendant mentally spoke to him again.
_~~~~_ _Oho! I recognize this time period. This is back when I first got sealed in that cave!
_ Cyrus started a bit at the voice, then responded. _
Well, I-- don't you have a name, by the way?
Ok. Gem, **what the heck have I gotten myself into?! ** ~~~~Cool off! This is time travel. You heard the jester, didn't you? Ummm.... yes, but I have no idea what to do! I can't use magic here, for fear of being... caught, and-- ~~~~Save it. You don't have any reason to use magic at the moment anyway. Something I'm quite glad of. Though, if we actually have to use that traveling circus cover story that Rapierian fellow cooked up, you **could** go on as "The Mixed-Up Magician". Gem, you are no help whatsoever. ~~~~Wait for it! What I was **getting to** was that I saw what you were doing wrong with the magic when you were trying to escape from those demons. I'm not completely sure what it was, but I am sure that I can help you fix it. Now, we have to get going. When we stop, I'll-- Hold up a minute! How is it that a pendant can teach **me** magic? ...Gem? Hey! Gem! _ Gem wouldn't respond further. Cyrus ran to catch up with the others, thinking hard all the while. _How **can** a pendant teach me magic? Is it that I've been somehow mis-twisting my power every time? Could I really become a great mage? I could at least show up that kid who threatened to turn me into a, a-- ~~~~Lizard. \--lizard, and... wait a minute! Gem, I'd appreciate it if you'd **stay out** of my memories. You're quite enough trouble without them, believe you me. ~~~~Hey, **you** put me on. I'll go wherever I like. Oh yeah, one more thing: time travel's quite simple. I've had some trouble with it before. As long as you keep away from the really world-shattering events, you'll be fine. **That's** good to know. ~~~~... wait, or is it that you can do whatever you want, because your presence actually shapes history into the necessary round? I can never remember. No matter, you can figure it out-- if you irrevocably change history, I'll still be here! _Cyrus groaned. Even if he could learn magic for real on the way, it was going to be a long journey. This post has been edited by **SoItBegins** : 25 April 2008 - 03:44 AM
The distance between Odemia and Catamarca was not too extreme, and the group was hurrying along. They were already almost there and hoped that they would make it in time...
The creature had reached the city.
It paused for a moment to examine its surroundings.
Due to the presence of the Tyrant, the city had many more guards present than usual, and the level of activity was higher. However, at the moment, the sun was high in the sky and the day was hot. Thus, many people were indoors.
Unfortunately for the Undine (but fortunately for Cythera), they had not been able to figure out exactly where their target was at this time, other than that she was lived in Catamarca.
It decided to try the inn and see if anyone knew where its target lived. With that directive, it swiftly crossed town and entered the building.
The inn was fairly empty, despite the hour. Many people had already eaten and were resting.
The creature strode up to the desk, where an elderly woman worked.
"Hello, young fellow, what can I do for you?" she asked it.
"I'm looking for a friend of mine, named Chrysothemis. Perhaps, you know where I can find her?" It replied, confident it would get an answer. Even at this time and under the Tyrant, the people of Cythera were an honorable people and would not question its motives.
"Oh, you're looking for that silly kid?" she laughed. "Why, she's gone out to the forest again, says she likes the peace and quiet, you know. Not quite safe that...who knows what kind of animals lurk in there these days?"
Having gotten the needed information, it turned and left as swiftly as it had come.
"Wait, she'll be back soon!" the old woman called after it. "You didn't even tell me your name!"
Ignoring her, it turned north once more and headed toward the forest. As the old woman had noted, the forest was much more dangerous in these days, before the rise of Alaric.
That was irrelevant to it, however. Only the target mattered.
As the group approached Catamarca, they hid from view behind a rock to assess their options. The cadre of persons from the future needed a plan; and they knew it.
"Our first priority is to locate Chrysothemis" Shanadar said, taking de facto control of the conversation, "We get to her, we get to Alaric (if he's even born yet), and we can endeavor to protect them both."
"We can't just go asking questions at random about complete strangers!" the much younger, somewhat roguish-looking Yomu interjected, "We'd draw too much attention to ourselves."
"And we can't exactly waltz in there, either, what with the Tyrant and his guards around" mused the Enforcer, "A group of adventurers in this time period walking into Catamarca unannounced? It'd be a disaster!"
"You could always kill the Guards" Rapierian goaded.
Shanadar scowled at the Necromancer's suggestion.
"No, we can't do that, Rapierian" the Wizard replied, "We need to interfere with the timeline as little as possible, or else we could cause irreparable damage to the timeline."
"But you already knew that, right Rapierian?" Shanadar mocked, "Surely you had to have studied the book of Timeflux at least once during you lessons, eh?"
For once, the Necromancer remained silent. Whether the Enforcer had struck a nerve, or if the chaotic ex-Mage had simply lost interest remained an uncertainty.
"Regardless, we may not need to go about asking questions" the Wizard continued, "If I can get close enough, I can read the minds of the townsfolk and ascertain Chrysothemis' whereabouts without asking any questions."
"But you, me, and mr tall-dark-and-creepy can't go into town!" Cyrus interrupted, more out of fear than any delusion of importance, "I've read about this time period; If they figure out we're Mages, they'll have our heads for sure!"
"Well..." Rapierian started up again, taking a quick glance over his shoulder, "We could always steal the clothes off that Radik fellow who's been following us and have old Wizgoat here wear them."
"Besides that being a very bad idea" Yomu countered, "The clothes are the wrong size for Wizard. Not to mention all the cuts and bloodstains would likely draw even more attention than Wizard's robes would."
"I'd like to see you come up with a better idea." Rapierian quipped.
"Those of us who can go unnoticed--that is, Shanadar, the kid, and myself--could slip into town separately and try to ask questions discretely..." he suggested.
"The 'kid's name is Aster, Yomu" the Enforcer corrected, "And, yes, thats an acceptable plan I suppose, although we still might be drawing too much attention to ourselves by asking around, remember?"
At the mention of his name, Aster found the confidence to make a statement, if somewhat nervously. "Well...I...I don't mean to brag, but I'm not to bad at tracking things, what with having to find lost goats on the farm and all..."
"Hmm...that could be helpful." Shanadar mused. He stole a glance behind Rapierian, were he could see Radik stalking them at a respectable distance, "Maybe we could factor in the local guy somehow too?"
"Well, we'd better decide what to do soon" Rapierian said snidely, "Or Chrysanthemum--or whatever she's called--is going to be dead by the time we find her."
For once, Shanadar had to agree.
This post has been edited by ~vIsitor~ : 28 November 2008 - 01:40 PM
--Earlier, when the group had first met Radik--
Radik watched the group follow the shore and turn out of sight. He turned back to his Claymore laying in the sand and walked over to it. He bent down and lifted it up, resting the flat part of his blade on his shoulder. He walked away from the coast towards his small 'home'. He set his claymore against a tree and bent down near a bush, and lifted up a chest. He opened the chest, pulled out another tunic and a black jacket. He switched shirts and pulled his jacket over his cut arms.
"That one fellow is a mage and maybe one of the other ones. Even the insane one..." Radik mused to himself as he lifted his claymore and sheathed it. "Ah, what the heck..." And with that, Radik took off at a jog to catch up to the party of strange characters.
Radik saw the gesture in his direction and stopped leaning against the tree which had become comfortable and decided to reintroduce himself to the party. He noticed as the group's heads turned and followed him as he walked up to them.
"Now, before you say anything, I know what you are, and what you might be," Radik said as he gestured to Wizard and Rapierian. "I'd rather not make enemies of mages, and I have nothing personal against you, but I could fetch a nice amount of coin to pay off some debts and get a nice big mug of ale..." He let his words sink in a little bit, "Now, you probably don't need my help and can find whatever or whoever your looking for with out me, but.. I'm a regular around here, so no one would look twice if I were to walk through those gates."
Radik looked at the group's faces, waiting for a response.
"Well... we're looking for Chrysothemis.." Shanadar said hesitantly.
"Okay, wait here.. I'll be back in about an hour."
Radik walked from behind the rock and up to the gates. He waved at the two guards and one of them stepped forward. Radik and the guard talked for a little bit, with the conversation just out of ear shot from the party. Radik drew his claymore and there was a pause between the three. He walked forward and handed it to the other guard and walked through the gate, with the guard who had first approached him.
The two walked into the inn and up to a counter. Radik nodded to the waitress, "A couple of mugs of Ale." He looked at the guard and then added, "put it on my tab." She nodded and pulled out some mugs and begun pouring the drinks.
"When are you ever going to pay us back?" She asked as she handed Radik his Ale.
"Soon, very soon." He replied as he sipped his ale. "Ah.. its always so great.."
Thirty minutes and 6 mugs later, the guard stumbled off his chair and out the door. The door closed right as he bent over and proceeded to let out his lunch. Radik turned to the waitress, "Finally-" He turned his head and let out a loud belch and then turned back, "Sorry about that," and in a whisper he asked, "would you happen to know where Chrysothemis is?"
"You better not be using her to get you out of trouble," she waited and he gave a look that said I'm not, I swear , "She's out in the forest to the north."
Radik nodded in thanks, and walked out. As he opened the door, she said, "Some stranger was looking for her earlier, be careful." He held the door open as the guard stood back up and Radik turned to her, "When am i not careful?" He winked, turned and knocked out the guard, bent down and grabbed a bag that made a clicking noise as he pocketed it, all in a smooth swift motion.
Some one in the group sighed and thought aloud, "It's been almost two hours.. We might want to move.."
Shanadar let out a "shhh" without turning around as he spotted Radik walk out of the gate, retrieve his claymore and walk comfortably down the path back to the group. He stopped briefly to relieve the pressure building in his stomach. He regained his composure and walked naturally behind the rock.
"She is in the forest to the north, but you guys owe me," Radik stated.
Someone asked, "how much?"
"Not money, but a favor. I don't know yet but I will..." Radik turned his head as he let out an extremely loud, long and bad smelling belch. "Sorry about that," He apologized, he turned and started walking through the forest. "Well, hurry up now, we don't have all day. Some one else was asking around for her, not a local." And with that, Radik set a quick pace, not turning around to see if the party was following. Besides... I want some payback for earlier today.. Radik thought to himself, ..That was my favorite shirt too... He glanced down at the tunic he was wearing and a look of dismay crossed his face briefly, somehow someone managed to cut a whole in it during the hour he was drinking.
This post has been edited by Dark Jet : 01 December 2008 - 01:18 AM
As they stepped into the forest, Aster tensed up. He always hated forests, mainly because he couldn't see people coming and avoid them. But there was something else that made him more nervous than usual, something in the feel of the place.
He glanced down at the track. There, partially obscured where the hem of Cyrus' robe had trailed over it, was a footprint. A chill ran down his neck as he realised it couldn't have been made by any of the party. Of the few people in front of him, only Shanadar's feet were the right size, but whereas the Enforcer had thick-soled boots, these footprints had been made by someone wearing moccasins, very soft ones by the blurriness at the edges of the print. So, the person in front of them not only wasn't too far ahead, they were also wearing footwear that would let them move practically silently. And if the party was too noisy, they'd easily be heard.
I think I'd better tell Wizard or Shanadar... thought Aster miserably. He hated drawing attention to himself, and this would definitely do so.
This post has been edited by CrazyChick : 12 May 2008 - 12:11 AM
After a moment of working up his courage, Aster pointed out the footprints to Shanadar.
The Enforcer knelt and quickly examined them.
"I think," he said, after a moment, "that these might belong to Chrysothemis. The thing we were following early had very large tracks. Good find, Aster."
They moved on and, to their dismay, found the large tracks that Shanadar had mentioned coming from the side and then turning to follow the trackway left by the moccasins.
"This is not good," Wizard murmured.
The group quickened their pace.
Somewhere ahead of them, in a clearing, Chrysothemis sat, thinking.
The forest certainly was something of a dangerous place, but she liked the peace and quiet and, for some reason, had never found herself in a dangerous situation on any of her visits here.
As she sat, she was wondering if she would meet the strange man, who called himself "Bahoudin," as she occasionally did in the forest. There was something strange about him, although she couldn't say what. Still, he was a nice man, if a bit strange.
Suddenly, she heard a rustle in bushes ahead of her and glanced up, somewhat surprised as a tall man, rather than Bahoudin, exited the foliage.
Nervous, Chrysothemis got up.
"Chrysothemis?" the man asked flatly.
Suddenly, a crushing force seemed to press on her mind and to compel her to answer.
"Yes," she managed, holding the sides of her head in pain.
Without a word, he raised his hand, and it began to glow with a strange green light.
A mage? she thought in shock.
Then, she realized that she was about to die.
As quickly as this revelation occurred, a white light flashed from the edge of the clearing, and the man spun as a bolt of lightning raced toward him.
The lightning bounced off his upraised hand and back at its origin, a white-haired man dressed in black.
"Nice trick," the black-clad man started to say before his own lightning bolt hit him and sent him sailing back into the forest.
Without changing expression or losing speed, the man swiveled to face her and unleashed a green wave of energy at her before she could move.
At that moment, a strange forced grabbed her and yanked her through the air, just barely clearing her out of the path of the green bolt, which vaporized several trees where she had been standing.
Chrysothemis landed on her feet next to a large, older-man.
What is going on? she thought in bafflement, wondering why a mage was trying to kill her and why others were trying to save her.
At that moment, several other people charged into the clearing at her attacker.
Cyrus was (perpetually, by now) not having a good day. First, there was the whole demons bit. Then, he had been time-warped without warning. Now, he was hiding behind a tree and watching 'his' band of adventurers fight this mysterious ma--
Well, hiding and watching had been the _idea_. Cyrus had quickly discovered through experimentation (and annoyance) that Gem was impossible to remove. To add to that, it could take over his muscles when it wanted to. Of course, Gem had never taken him straight into any danger before, but-- As he moved closer, dodging from tree to tree, Cyrus felt Gem stiffen (so to think) through the mental link with the enchanted pendant. If its personality had a jaw, it would have dropped. The tiny red gems around the center gem began to pulse and glow, and a few seconds later, a shocked, disbelieving voice sounded in Cyrus's mind. ~~~~ _I-- the-- It's him! How the # &$! did **he** get here? Now is my chance. Now I can make up for those centuries, sealed away. Those lost years._ As some of the adventurers attacked the man, it raised one hand to systematically punch its attackers. All on the receiving end of the punches were thrown back, slamming into trees. The pendant's glow became solid, and an eerie light started to flicker in the largest gem, in the center. The amulet seemed to be charging, storing energy for some arcane purpose. Then, Gem yelled _through_ Cyrus's mind, while firing a bolt of pure red energy straight at the 'man'. ~~~~ ** _You-- YOU-- IT'S PAYBACK TIME!!!_** The man roared as it turned, its voice suddenly shifting to a register strangely inhuman. Its form wavered for a second, but resolved back into that of the man. Without warning, it threw globules of its strange green light an Gem, which Cyrus was now holding straight out in front of him (not by choice). The globules fell to the ground, a foot away from Cyrus and the pendant. Ignoring Cyrus's mental pleas to stop, Gem counterattacked with another bolt of red light. The man's form was wavering again, slightly worse than the last time. Unfortunately, it wasn't stupid. Extending both hands straight out in front of it, it enwrapped Cyrus in a huge cocoon of light, until with a bright flash, Gem's defenses failed. Then the man simply picked up a rock and threw it with perfect aim. As Cyrus fell gladly into unconsciousness, Gem (now blackened and with all the tiny gems on the edges missing) 's glow went out, and the other adventurers tried to figure out any sort of way to attack the thing, it simply placed its hands on forehead, and let its form waver, in a different way that when Gem had attacked it. Then, the wavering intensified, until there was nothing there but a light mist (which quickly dispersed). Cyrus's last thought before the void summoned his mind was quite simple. _Worst-- day-- ever--_ This post has been edited by **SoItBegins** : 26 May 2008 - 11:13 AM