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Sting in the Tail

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GM

 

The mighty fist of the Dust Devil, full of stony power, clunked ontop of Setho's head. A force enough to make any man crumple. But Setho fell to one side, battered and bruised, but still hissing. 

 

"No! No! It cannot be!!!" he said, doubt now overtaking his hubris. He was starting to panic, and his normal cunning was deserting him. 

 

Or was it? His reptillian face was hard to read. And a cunning man would like to pretend devoid of cunning...

 

Still, there was no question that he was taking a beating. Blue green welts appeared on his body, and his scales were clearly chipped!

 

 

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"Ill settle for shutting you up you wind bag." Venomax hissed as he scooped a rock from the floor and brought it up and across sethos snout with as much force as he could muster.

 

"We'll figure out the rest after."

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GM

 

The rock crashed on Setho's head, almost cracking from the force. It was a miracle that Setho's skull was on cave in - but he was clearly made from more than flesh and blood. His fibre was perfused with eldritch armour!

 

Even so, he slumped to one side, and green blood oozed from the gash on his head. His robes slowly stained.

 

The Lemurians squarked and hissed. They crept forward. 

 

With every intent on spearing Setho to death!

 

"Save me!" hissed Setho quietly...

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Cassidy continued his forward motion, as Venomax smashed a rock into the sorcerer's face. He was not about to let up, even as Setho seemed down. He was pure evil. Reaching forward, he grabbed on to Setho's blood covered robe, pulling at it to bring the mad sorcerer back up to his eye level. A sword made out of sand formed in his free hand, the tip of the blade about an inch from Setho's throat.

 

"Why? You spread those damned leaves across time. You abused the Magic Mesa's power. You tried to kill us. Give me one good reason why I should suddenly save you?"

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GM

 

"Because you would not...let....me....die!" responded Setho. 

 

It was so hard to read his stone like reptilian face. What emotion was he feeling? Fear?

 

"...you think in such...limited ways....time....space....as if it is a river....when in fact....it is chaos!" he explained. "....which ending...will happen....? I know....for I have already forseen!" he said. 

 

Whatever emotion he felt, he certainly sounded mad. 

 

And the time for a decision was now. For the Lemurians advanced behind the Dust Devil and Venomax. They were intent on impaling Setho several times, and several times more just to be sure. And the points of those spears poked at the Dust Devil and Venomax, who where getting in the way!

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Time and space is chaos? Not just a river? Was Setho just mad, or was there something more to it? He didn't have much time here. A choice, quick or slow. The Lemurians were coming closer behind them, and their intention was clear. They wanted to kill Setho. He was mad, he was dangerous... but what would it actually do to time and space to kill him? Would he be changing things too much?

 

"And what do you mean by that?" Cassidy found himself almost snarling the question. This sorcerer, this snake was pissing him off. He was a drug dealer at a cosmic scale. That did not endear Setho to him in any way. But he had to know more. There was something about it, a drive for knowledge that he had never known before. "That you know what I will do? That you can foresee the future?"

 

Perhaps it was the Mesa's influence. Perhaps he had just never experienced anything like this before. But he had to know what Setho meant.

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GM

 

"The future, the past....yes, my eyes are wider than yours. I am not closed to the arrow of time" replied Setho. "You see the future in front, the past behind you, when all is an illusion! The future is just as real as the past, and the past is just as real as the present...."

 

"We all must die, but we will have been....!"

 

But the time for questioning was over. the Dust Devil had made his choice - to frustrate the Lemurians in order to get a few seconds more of Setho's ramblings. 

 

And his reward?

 

Three spear thrusts to the back!

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Cassidy had made his choice. He was no killer, after all. The three Lemurians that had allied with them until this point made their own. And they decided to show him just that, thrusting their spears at his back. With a loud curse, Cassidy spun around, swinging the blade of sand that had previously been held at Setho's throat. 

 

He no killer, no. 

 

But he could make this hurt a lot. He did not like being hit from behind. Never again.

 

"Keep Setho down!" he barked at Venomax. No reason to give the sorcerer a chance to hit him in the back next. 

 

A swing of the blade across the first Lemurian's chest. Enough to injure him, not enough to kill him. And hopefully enough to knock him out. Continuing the motion, he swung the flat side of the sword against the next Lemurian, hitting the side of his face, hopefully with enough force for a final knockdown, before, with one final swing, taking down the last Lemurian with a quick swing across his chest. 

 

Standing over the Lemurians with heavy breathing, he turned back towards Setho, raising the sword towards him once more. "Now, you talk. How exactly do we kill your damned flowers?"

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GM

 

Setho was being pinned down by Venomax, and was battered. He had clearly underestimated the combined strength of Venomax and the Dust Devil. 

 

But he was not paying attention. Instead, his eyes had rolled to the back of his head. They were black still, but vacant and blind. He was muttering some foul ancient Language that was beyond comprehension (or quite possibly, sanity), and his body was both stiff and paralytic, as if in the grip of some rigid seizure. 

 

One could not understand his language, but it appeared to be a chant, with similar phrases turning over and over again in his reptillian tongue. And the ancient temple seemed to respond. Yellow lights, yellow eyes, yellow mist oozed through the temple, giving an unnatural chill that did not, impossibly, diminish the unnatural heat of the place. 

 

Cracks. Groans. Falling dust. Growing louder. 

 

The temple was about to collapse and bury them all!

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Venomax had immediately begin to pummel setho when he started to chant for all he was worth.

 

The solar plexus and throat in particular were given attention in a brutal but measured attempt to keep the spell from taking hold.

 

Ultimately it proved futile however.

 

"Damn it...next time I meet a mad mage I'll glue their tongue to their pallet..." He grumbled as he rose to his feet and attempted to steady himself.

 

"Let's get out of here!"

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"I think I agree." Cassidy's response was as short as ever. Venomax had done his best, but aside from taking out Setho the moment they had the chance. Venomax's idea was sound. He would have to do that, if they got out of here. He probably could, if he wanted to. Turn to dust and sand, fly between it all, but then he would leave Venomax behind. He couldn't do that.

 

So, out of there, as fast as they could, while keeping an eye out for any traps they had missed on the way in. But should they bring Setho? He couldn't take them all, but maybe...

 

"Its coming down anyway. How about we just barrel through, if you can stick close to me?"

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GM

 

Setho was splayed out, bruised, battered and broken. His chant had stopped and he could barely speak let alone crawl. 

 

"I have seen beyond time and space, to the spinning chaos at the centre of it all, where blind and mad Gods cavort to tuneless pipes" he hissed. "And through it all, the Unspeakable One! This is his temple, and it too resides beyond your vision, beyond anything you can comprehend!"

 

Large chunkes of rubble started falling, and the walls started collapsing. 

 

"You will see! You will ssssseeee!" proclaimed one last hiss of Setho, before he was buried under a heap of rubble, enough to crush and splinter any mortal flesh. Enough to sunder and slash any mortal flesh. 

 

And the same was about to happen to Venomax and the Dust Devil! The temple was collapsing around them!

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Everything was coming down now. They didn't really have any time to get out of there, much less save Setho as he was crushed under the rubble. Not a great loss, all things considered. Neither were the other Lemurian. He would have to figure out whatever Setho meant leater, because now, they just had to get out of there.

 

"Come on, then!" Cassidy took off from the ground, flying directly towards Venomax. He didn't wait for a response any longer, he just picked up the hero and started flying. Everything was falling, bits and pieces falling all around them. He did his best to shield Venomax from any falling rubble, until finally, making their way outside, as the temple crumpled behind them.

 

Setting Venomax down again, Cassidy breathed out heavily. That was it, then. The flowers destroyed, he hoped. "Sorry. Had to act fast." He stood up straight again, stretching his arms. It was weird how he could still feel sore despite being made of sand. "Don't suppose you have some kind of poison we can dump on that place to make sure the flowers are dead and gone?"

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"don't worry about it." Venomax wheezed as he caught his breath for a few minutes.

 

"Yeah...yeah...though they're magic right? Might not work as intended if at all." Wiping his mouth with the back of his hands.

 

"Let's find one and I'll test it out in a controlled situation?"

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GM

 

With Venomax and the Dust Devil out safely, they could see the building collapse in on itself. Their seemed to be a putrid yellow stench in the area, almost sickly sweet, and despite the opressive humidity and heat, there was an unnatural chill. 

 

There was nothing but rubble left, and the Jungle was silent and still. 

 

Locating any of the leafs under the rubble was no easy task, but some of the magical plant could still be seen. Venomax could spray pesticides and corrosive materials, and all manner of interesting chemicals to prevent anything growing, and the Dust Devil could shift the rubble well enough to reach most places...

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"Here". Cassidy produced another of the dried leaves. Just one more left now, but so far, bringing them along had helped, at least a little bit. "I got no idea if it being dried changes anything, but you can use it for your test." He turned to the rubble of the temple. He didn't like the yellow stench. How did a smell even have a color in the first place? It made no damn sense. None of this made any damn sense.

 

At any rate, they needed to clear this up. And he wanted to be sure that Setho was dead. Didn't want to get bitten by that snake at some point in the future, literally or not. He went to where the throne room stood before. The flowers had been growing here, so this was where they needed to work. He began moving the rubble away, searching for the flowers, Setho, and, if he happened upon them, the Lemurians that stabbed him in the back. Cassidy had no idea what had happened to them, even if he wouldn't feel particularly bad about it, if they had been smashed.

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"can't kill something that's already dead...could destroy it I guess but...' venomax mumbled as much to himself as dust devil.

 

"Seems a waste...analyze it's composition? Have to ingest it...but should crack it's comp and find a weakness..." He rationalised before promptly popping the leaf into his mouth and using his mutant enzymes and senses began to process it.

 

Hardly the worst thing he'd ever eaten for science though what effects it might have on him none could say.

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GM

 

The chemical composition was easy enough to digest (in more ways than one). The usually mixture of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and a few other odd atoms blended into complex organic molecules. Chlorophyll was most certainly there. And, as a plant, it was no more resilient than any other. In fact, it was probably more fragile than most. 

 

But then the chemicals hit the brain of Venomax, and the strange incomprehensible forces that it had stewed in its leaves - more than mere energy, or matter, or chemical composition - swirled through his perception. 

 

He was spinning through time and space, caught in a tornado of strangeness that was not meant for human minds. Perhaps it was not meant for any mind, for they would surely collapse from the strain. Abdul and his group had spoke of beauty, of enlightenment, and there was certainly that. But there was also twinkling insanity, and Abdul had not been immune to that either. Setho, it seemed, was already half mad when he cultivated the leaf, and that was by the rather insane standards of the Lemurians. 

 

It would be hard to remember what he saw, and this was a mercy in all likelihood. 

 

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents...."

 

And then he was lying admist the rubble, in the heat and the jungle. It had been only a moment since the Dust Devil had seen him collapse, but for Venomax that brief moment had been beyond space, and beyond time....

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That was not what Cassidy had suggested. Just why would Venomax actually try to eat the leaf? He had warned him about what they did. He had told him about the addictive effect... and yet, Venomax actually ate the leaf. He was about to yell to stop him, but what would it matter? Venomax already had the leaf in his mouth.

 

And in a moment, he was on the ground. Cassidy stared at him, trying to think why he would have done something like that. What could it possibly help to actually eat the leaf? Venomax was a scientist, and Cassidy admitted he had little idea about how a scientist thought, but this seemed reckless. 

 

Still, Cassidy had to help him. Kneeling by his prone form, he tried to prop him up, trying to figure out if he was still in there, or if the leaf had already knocked him into whatever visions Abdul and that girl had been seeing.

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It was a strange feeling to be stretched so thin one could look through themselves and back upon their life quite so literally let alone the life of others and after what felt like an instant and yet an eternity he felt himself snapping back to the here and now or maybe it was the then and when? Or the meanwhile and somewhere?

 

Startling back awake he found himself being propped up by dust devil and after a few blinks examined his hands a little.

 

"We've got a lot of work to do, I'm sure once we get going I'll remember the rest."

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"That was a stupid thing to do." Cassidy really didn't care about being too blunt here. "We got no idea what those leaves do, aside from it being some kind of magic." He shook his head and stood up straight and offered Venomax his hand. "Still, glad that you're back."

 

He looked over the ruins. Yeah, they had a lot of work to do, and after that, he could only hope that he could figure out how to navigate through the Magic Mesa and get them home. It had worked so far, so maybe it still would. So, the plan was simple. Find whatever leaves survived the temple coming down, destroy them however they could, then get home. If they could find Setho's body at the same time, then he might even be able to sleep for once. "Let's get to it, then."

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GM

 

The temple was well and truly collapsed. They found bones, rages, strange ornaments to horrible Gods, dead snakes and scorpions. And plenty of the leaf which was similarly dead. 

 

But no corpse of Setho. His rags. His bones. But with the flesh picked off by natural or unnatural means, who could say if it truly was his corpse. And even if it was, had he performed sorcery for just such eventuality? 

 

Whilst this would be unknown, Dust Devil and Venomax could at least rest easy that they had destroyed a temple to the Unspeakable one, and laid waste to the plans that Setho had laid. At least, the plans they knew about. 

 

And then there was a trek back to the Magic Mesa ahead, through heat and humidity, and with plenty of dinosaur sight seeing en route!

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"Occupational hazard." He responded disinterestedly to the accusation of him being stupid "of being a living chem lab and a tights wearing do goodering goon thumper." As he picked through the rubble fruitlessly as he rummaged in his own thoughts.

 

"It worked to a degree; Too much information all at once but ill unrepress it in managable chunks." He spoke with a certainty that outclassed his actual experience with such things.

 

"Also know how to kill it now, I think...goes inert after being processed by enzymes."

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"As long as it worked. Still not a fan of anyone eating magic leaves grown by a snakeman." Fine, Venomax saw things differently, and he had his own weird powers, but he was not going to change his mind on this thing.

 

Honestly, Cassidy had no idea what Venomax meant about them going inert after being processed by enzymes. Whatever it was, then fine. "Something you can do then? Don't want this popping up back home again, if it can be helped."

 

So, this was it. Take out the trash, destroy the rest of these things, then, hopefully, the Magic Mesa would listen and bring them home. That was all they could hope for now, wasn't it?

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GM

 

And so...

 

Navigating back to the Magic Mesa was easy enough; the Dust Devil had an uncanny "sense" of where the Mesa was. Whilst it was hot, and sweaty, and plagued by insects and the occassional dinosaur, the Dust Devil could guide them through the wild jungle easily enough. 

 

And so to with Mesa itself. A perilous cavern of tunnels through time and space for most, capable of eroding sanity, 'twas with uncanny precision that the Dust Devil could guide them through this wonderful and terrible place, back to the desert from which they had come. 

 

Of Mr Sting and Abdul there was no sign. Perhaps they had arrived earlier, perhaps they would arrive later. But Mr. Sting would eventually come to tend to his pet giant scorpions, whilst being tended to by Big Mama. And Abdul, his mind have gone, would drop out of university and teter on the tightrope between brilliance and insanity, writing half crazed books that would garner a cult following. 

 

And Setho....

 

Was he dead in ages past? Was he lost in time and space? Did the mad Lemurian have plans within plans? Schemes within schemes? Who can say, when he worshipped the dread and limitless enitity that extended beyond infinite time and infinite space. The UNSPEAKABLE ONE!

 

~ Fin ~

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