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Posted (edited)

GM

 

Bridgepoint, Emerald City, Oregon

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

 

05:31:06PM

 

The letter sits opened at your desk, a torn-up page from some textbook. It is dirtied by grime and stained by liquid, but still the neat handwriting conveys its message clear enough.
 

Spoiler

 

My Dearest Christopher Daye,

 

I write to you from deep in Sub-Terra, a fugitive in hiding. There are those who would call me a murderer of my fellow Forsaken but I beg you to understand that I was framed. I have known Yatin Basu since our childhoods in the jungles of India and have had the pleasure of working alongside him unearthing our magical heritage in the Lemurians. Yes we had our differences as much as any academic but I would never stoop so low as to be involved in his gruesome death.

 

Please believe me, sir. I do not think even the leaders of the Cryptid Clans believe it to be murder, yet I know they hunt me all the same. They will use me and the knowledge Yatin and I have built up over the decades, pervert it to their means for petty politics and one-upmanship against the other Clans. Perhaps this is what saddens me most about Yatin's death, to be nothing more than an excuse to mishandle his legacy.

 

And so I beseech you, smuggle me away from Emerald City or into one of your hiding holes even. I'm sure a man as well-travelled as yourself has a few places away from the city and thus far removed from the Clans' reach. I entrust myself to your care and should you wish to investigate Yatin's death further, I will fully cooperate until such a time as you can render proper judgement of the facts.

 

But please, time is of the essence now. I have managed to evade my pursuers for days now but they are getting ever closer and I ever more desperate.

 

I have entrusted to you a simple clairvoyance focus, one that will guide you to one of my hiding dens. I can meet you there in five days time as I will dare not move there now.

 

For my (down-)payment, I trust the bennu and a Lemurian cryptographic key to be sufficient?

 

Your humble and obedient servant,

 

Advay Tarak Upal 

 


The bennu, an Egyptian phoenix with splendid red and gold feathers, sits at your windowsill, picking at its feathers. It does not care to notice you or what thoughts the letter has induced in you, if anything, but it is still a beautiful specimen to behold.

 

Found tied to a leg, is the Lemurian key. It is a cylindrical object made of brass and glass, as small as a pocketwatch, with dials all around. You are sure you could make some use of this once you figure out how to use it.

 

But for now, Advay's letter is the most pressing matter.

 

You have heard the news going around the rumour mill of a Naga's death a month ago. It was a gruesome sight, hear tell. Blood splattered everywhere, his magical laboratory defiled in every manner. Priceless equipment and potions broken and spilled, his notes conspicuously missing. The psychopomps tell of Advay's hand to be the cause of murder and for sure there was struggle in Yatin's home. Curiously, enough you do not know of anyone to have actually seen the scene in question, to keep the magical away from the humans some had said.

 

Yatin's work had required proximity to humanity and so he had, with great secrecy, found a place in the middle of the Hindu diaspora of Northern Shore, Emerald City, Washington. Yet that proximity has called the murder to the attention of the Emerald City Police Department, humans the very secretive Cryptid Clans would prefer not to get involved in. Now a manhunt from all kinds, even some of the new Ultio Suits from Marstech, has been going on for three weeks andnot all those who seek him have truly benevolent intentions in mind if Advay is to be believed.

 

If you are to find Advay before the Clans do, then you must prepare.

 

You have five days to gather equipment or perform the relevant rituals.

 

And after, you venture into the blackness of Sub-Terra, where only the blind are comfortable and where only stone grow. No doubt the Clans would know the same thing you do, and perhaps you may find some of their number roaming the depths as well, most likely unfriendly to outsiders.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue
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It had been a couple nights already and the deadline was almost up. A few simple mistakes had nearly messed up the bracelet he was working on before he even got started, but he caught them with Morrowind’s help, the phantom librarian’s attention to details proving as useful as always. She had helped earlier when Christopher was trying to determine what to feed the mythical Egyptian bird, Ba as he was calling it now, currently nesting in the corner of his living space.

Putting together the temporary charm was going easier than he had hoped. Luckily, he had everything he needed on hand. The hardest thing was finding someone who could get a possibly non-humanoid out of town and all the way across the country. With multiple clans looking for the ‘researcher’ it didn’t leave many avenues open to him. But a days of back alley meetings had gotten him a name and number. Someone who knows someone.

Christopher now sat at the bench in his workshop. The phone on speaker laying beside several clear quartz beads, the Lemurian key and a small focus as his fingers carefully twisted fibers and metal treads together.

“Are you sure about this guy?” He asked the voice on the other end. “Your man can get my client out of the city and all the way to Jersey? No questions asked?”

“Of course, of course. As long as the payment is right, he’s your wheelman.” The voice replied with all the charisma of a used car dealer. The was the sound of another phone in the background and the voice paused before continuing. “Ah, look, I got another call. I’ll send a runner with the contact info tomorrow.” The call ended and Christopher gave the phone a thoughtful look. With a few final twists he added the final bead, closed the spell-work and set the bracelet work aside and went downstairs to grab a beer. The trinket was finished but Christopher still had another meeting in the morning. A meeting with someone he hoped could answer a question or two. Someone from below claiming to know something about the death of one Yatin Basu.

 

++++++

 

The next morning, Blackstaff was dressed for business as he entered a darkly lit mom and pop dining house near the riverfront. At the back table, under a blacked bulb sat a clearly uncomfortable looking man. Even with the glamor he seemed ‘off’, it must not have cost him much. Walking up to the table Blackstaff pulled the chair across from the informant out and sat down with out a word. The man shifted nervously and glanced around as he liked his lips.

“You weren’t followed were ya?” the man asked hastily.

“No.” Blackstaff replied calmly. “And you came alone, of course.”

“Of course.” The man said with a snort. “I’d be in enough trouble if anyone I knew saw me talking to ya. I ain’t ‘bout to cause that trouble for meself, is I?"

“You told my secretary you had information.”

“Ya, and word out was you was willin’ ta pay for that information.” The man squinted at Blackstaff. “Cause I ain’t sayin’ nuffin till I’m sure you can back that up.”

It was a fair point as the buyer. Blackstaff slowly reached into his long coat and withdrew a small wooden box. Setting it on the table he pushes it forward. The man reached out and opened the wooden lid. Inside, a delicate looking white cloth laid folded. Licking his lips, the man carefully lifted the corner. A sudden, bright shard of light escapes the folded cloth, bathing the darkened table in its warmth. The man quickly covered it up and closed the box. “It’s the real deal.”

“Of course. The first rays of dawn, captured on the spring equinox. Not easy to get, but worth it.”

The man nodded and waved over a sever to order drinks. “Well then, let me tell you…”

What followed was series of tales and theories, some secondhand stories and hearsay. Blackstaff dismissed most of it even as it spilled out between drinks. But a few kernels of insight presented themselves. The lack of a body and the missing work strongly pointed to a bigger picture and possible shadowy dealings. It lent credence to Advay’s concerns that they were after his work. But more importantly to Blackstaff, it made him call into question the ‘murder’ itself.

Sometime and several twenties later he exited the dining house, leaving the man with his box of sunlight and a few more drinks prepaid for. Heading back to his office he turned over the information in his mind as he drove. Tomorrow he would venture into Sub-Terra himself to finally meet his client, and perhaps a few more questions would give him a clearer picture. Though ultimately his primary objective was to see Advay out of the city and to safety, then maybe, he could do a little more digging.

 

++++++

 

It could have been day or night, but underground it didn’t matter. Blackstaff stood at one of the many entrances to the Undercity, and deeper beyond, the depths of the Sub-Terra. In one hand he held the focus delivered with the letter, which with a small effort of will brought it to life to show him the way. His other hand was tucked into his coat pocket with a flashlight if he needed it. With a determined stride the wizard strode forward towards his meeting and the mysteries surrounding it.

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

You have surmised four things from your investigation.

 

First, Yatin was no Naga. He was a Lemurian, disguising himself as a Naga, who in turn disguised himself as a Indian national who had moved to the US several decades back. The Forest Clan had found his body and in their own investigation revealed the Yatin's true nature. Such a fact immediately cast a new light on Yatin and Advay's Lemurian studies. From academic curiosity of magical pre-history, already an dangerous avenue of research, to a first-hand knowledge of Lemurian civilization.

 

The axiom, "Older is better" makes itself evident here for nothing is older in magic than Lemuria itself. Crumbling ruins full of secret monsters and experiments, artifacts that promise power to those who wield them, rituals that can call forth on Nameless Ones used as deterrents like magical WMDs. The uses and dangers of Lemuria are dangerous indeed.

 

Secondly, the knowledge of Yatin as an actual Lemurian spread from the Forest Clan into the other Clan authorities but has yet to reach the Cryptid population. For most of them, a Naga had been murdered and the murderer is still at large.

 

Thirdly, besides scraps and pieces, the Clans leaders do not have in their possession Advay and Yatin's work. Most of it has disappeared, along with Yatin, and the few that had been left behind had burned down in a timed ritual. Perhaps Advay himself was responsible. It fits with his belief of the Clans' greed in the face of naked Lemurian studies.

 

Fourth, Yatin had attacked Advay and Advay, had killed his partner out of self-defence. The reason remains unknown. Perhaps you could ask Advay once you find him.

 

***

 

The Undercity, Emerald City, Washington

Sunday, May 17, 2020

 

10:16:39AM

 

The Undercity is a dark, dank place. Outside the tourist attraction of the Maze there are only the detritus of society. Huddled in thick clothes around dumpster fires or cloaked in shadows, they watch you. They see a stranger, not desperate or poor like them. They are the homeless and the criminal but none accost you.

 

Then, more hidden than the entrances to the Undercity, you arrive at a crack in the basement of some forgotten library in the Underdark. The tunnel is long and man-made concrete soon turns into carved stone, then natural rock. Ever down, down, down you walk. The transition from the Undercity to Sub-Terra is not always so clear but the blackness is all-consuming wherever you are.

 

After what seems like an hour or two, you reach the end of the tunnel and a pit that drops straight down. A ladder is set on the side of the pit, one which you take.

 

You descend.

 

It isn't long before you hear a rumble behind you as you descend the ladder. Rocks and dirt shift until you see two inky black eyes staring at you from the surface of the pit. Lips made of rock move, grinding against each other, and it speaks to you in a low, gravelly voice.

 

You recognize a Rock Clan elemental.

 

"I can sense the magic in you, Human. State your purpose." Slowly its arms appear and it pushes itself from the rock of the pit. "Sub-Terra is off-limits by the order of Finnegal the Dwarf while the search for the murder Advay Upal continues. Turn back if you are here for any non-essential reasons."

 

Beside you, you here the telltale rumble of rock and dirt. Another elemental appears.

 

Just your luck this entrance was guarded.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue
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Blackstaff pauses in his decent when the rumbling starts. At the gravelly warning he sighed inwardly, but kept a neutral expression outwardly. He decided a half truth was the best approach.

"I'm here on business. I've been hired to find a missing individual. I don't plan on being down here any longer then I need to be."

He glances down the ladder trying to judge just how much further down to the floor.

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

"Show me your identification." A hand extends from the rock, palm up. You see its eyes narrow, the heavy brow jutting forward even more.

 

"And the identification of the missing person." It continues, grinding the words. "And a proof of employment."

 

The other elemental stays quiet, merely watching the proceedings.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue
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Blackstaff cursed mentally. Of course he had to run into the guard that actually did its job. He slowly reaches into his coat and pulls out a card.

"Sorry, wallet's a little hard to get to while hanging off a ladder."

The card reads: Blackstaff Investigations - Christopher Daye, P.I. with a phone number and address printed under that.

"As for rest, I'm not at liberty to reveal my client's identity or details of their case. Professional courtesy and all that." He gave the rock cop..., rop?... Christopher suppressed a chuckle and managed a friendly smile. "I'm sure someone in your position can understand. The people paying don't like being talked about."

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

The elemental takes your card, holding it close to its face as it reads the text printed on it. Then it passes it to its partner and that one does the same. You hear the sound of rocks grinding and shifting as the two elementals exchange words, and finally your card is passed back to the first elemental. Its fist closes on the card as it begins to meld back into the pit's surface.

 

"You may pass." Only its face is above the surface now. "Do not loiter."

 

Then it and its partner is gone, leaving you alone with a good long way to go down the ladder. In the end, you estimate the climb down to be seventy feet, a good twenty feet more than you had thought.

 

***

 

Now fully in Sub-Terra you begin your trek.

 

Unlike the only seemingly empty tunnels of the Undercity, where one can find sporadic human (and not entirely human) habitation and traffic if one knew where to look, Sub-Terra is truly an empty and desolate place. Even deserts have their snakes and birds and cacti but life underground is both more rare and hides better. You see a few mushrooms and moss, a bone half-buried in a pile of rocks, a miner's pick strewn against a rucksack and signs of a camp. You may have even heard a animalistic shriek coming from a pitch-black side tunnel, but you do not investigate that further.

 

Advay Upal's clairvoyance focus leads you like a compass. However, a compass would be near useless in the maze-like caverns and tunnels but its own needle swivels with every twist and turn of your path. If there is a fork, the needle points left. If you are going the wrong way, it makes a 180 degree turn, pointing your way back.

 

As the clock ticks, two hours give or take a few minutes according to the time, you first feel the heat. Sweltering, dry air coming from where the focus is pointing you towards. When you round a corner, you find yourself on top of a cliff. You are greeted by a large cavern, gently sloping downwards and possibly the size of three football stadiums and room to spare for the parking lot. The ground of the cavern is craggy, with many sharp boulders jutting from the ground. A river of lava snakes through the cavern, starting from a waterfall in the rock face and ending in a pool at the other side.

 

In the other side of the cavern and near the bottom, you spot a pair of figures resting around a spartan campsite. They carry flashlights with them and have bedrolls spread out. One of them looks to be an anthropomorphic badger while the other is a dwarf. A black hellhound, the size of a pony, carries more packs on its back.

 

Your focus' needle however is pointed the other way, a short trek near you, straight into what looks to be a sheer cliff face beside the waterfall.

 

A group of morlocks, their skin albino white and wielding a variety of spears and clubs, straddles a narrow path on the cliff. The path itself leads to a dead end on the cliff but they seem to know where they are going and look to be ready for a fight. You count fourteen of them.

 

The focus' needle, of course, is pointed right at the dead end.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

 

On 5/19/2020 at 10:28 PM, Zeitgeist Blue said:

GM

 

The elemental takes your card, holding it close to its face as it reads the text printed on it. Then it passes it to its partner and that one does the same. You hear the sound of rocks grinding and shifting as the two elementals exchange words, and finally your card is passed back to the first elemental. Its fist closes on the card as it begins to meld back into the pit's surface.

 

"You may pass." Only its face is above the surface now. "Do not loiter."

 

Then it and its partner is gone, leaving you alone with a good long way to go down the ladder. In the end, you estimate the climb down to be seventy feet, a good twenty feet more than you had thought.

 

“Of course.” Blackstaff said with a nod as the rock men returned to the wall. He was grateful as he finished the climb down, noting he had misjudged the height.

 

******

 

With his flashlight and the compass, Blackstaff wound his way through the tunnels and passages. He kept aware of his surroundings but kept his attention ahead of him. Inhabitants down here hid themselves well, especially from strangers. They liked, he had learned, their privacy even more than those above ground.

He could appreciate the work that went into the compass as it guided him through the maze. Mentally he contemplated the possible construction as he walked to occupy his mind during the some two hour trek. As the temperature began to rise, he started to regret the long coat he was wearing.

“Hmph.”  He grunted as he stood at the opening to the large cavern. He eyed the rivers of molten rock as he took in the massive cavern. Blackstaff regarded the pair resting amongst the crags and rocks, then regarded the compass again. Following the path of the needle pointed his gaze fell on the group of morlocks. Looking down at the compass then back up again he sighed. “Because, of course. Couldn’t be that easy.”

 

Pocketing the compass and the flashlight, he drew the blasting rod from its inner holster. Keeping it in hand he shoved his hands into the coat and started up the cliff path closing on the group from behind. As he followed the path up along the cliff face, he glances down at the rocky floor easily a good hundred feet below.

“Gentlemen.” Blackstaff calls out to the group as he gets within a couple dozen yards. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to let me pass.” He asks in a hopefully friendly tone, but in his pocket he tightens his grip on the blasting rod.

Edited by Spacefurry
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GM

 

You catch the morlocks by surprise and several of them whirl around, clutching their spears or clubs tighter, only to relax when they see only one of you. None of them respond to you, instead thee two closest to you deliberately move to block your path.

 

From the front of their group, a morlock crossed the narrow ledge, its fellows letting the morlock squeeze through and its stops right behind the two morlocks blocking you.

 

"Human. Stop!" It says in halting English. It waves at you with both hands, clearly annoyed. "No want you here. Leave now!"

 

The leader barks out a few words to the two morlocks between you and it, then returns to its place at the front of the group. Whatever what was told them, the two morlocks in front of you definitely seem determined not to let you pass. They brandish their clubs and eye you suspiciously. As for the rest of the group, they continue single file on the ledge until they reach the dead end.

 

Then their leader jumps against the cliff face and instead smashing face first into the stone, disappears within it. The rest follow their leader's lead and march into the cliff. Soon, most of them will be gone and enact whatever scheme the morlocks did not want you interfering with.

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Blackstaff sighed and pulls his hands out of his pockets. "I'm sorry fellas. But I can't have my client being cut down or carried away before I even meet him. Especially when I've already been paid."

With the blasting rod in his right hand he raised his left and open his hand, palm out towards the morlocks. With a effort of will he utters a short phrase in a nearly forgotten language and a focused gale of attempts to envelope the creature closest to the edge of the cliff face.

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GM

 

The two morlocks squeal as they slam into each other and then the wall, losing consciousness as soon as their heads collide with each other. And your path is free for you to move forward, that is until you meet the half dozen other morlocks on the other side.

 

They hear their companions and jump around only to see you, a blasting rod in your hand, standing over their fallen friends. There is a moment of hesitation, then it is broken as the lead morlock raises its spear. With a wordless shout it charges straight at you, navigating the narrow path dexterously. The other morlocks behind him follow, wielding knives and clubs made of rough-hewn stone and rope.

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"Come on fellas. I don't want to hurt you, but this is business."

Blackstaff shakes his wrist loosely as he drops his left hand,  willing the shield bracelet to activate. Raising his right hand, a bright blue-white light blazes at the rod's tip, frost dripping from it as it flares. He exhales an ancient word in a wisp of echoing frost as he unleashes a ray of freezing wind and ice at the onrushing leader of the pack as they swarm him.

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GM


The full force of ice hits the first morlock square in the face and it crumples to the ground. The morlocks behind leap over their fallen companion to get to you.The last morlock does not immediately join in, bending over its downed companion as if making sure it was still breathing.

 

Then before you know it you are surrounded, hemmed in by the cliff face on one end and four morlocks on the other. The clubs and crude knives begin to descend on you as the morlocks chatter and shout battle cries in their own language. Albino white hands reach to grab you. The morlocks kick and attempt to push you down. They work like a team,  coordinating their strikes and using their numbers against you.

 

But to no avail.

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Blackstaff only half watched as the morlock fell to the icy blast. He hoped he hadn't over done it, but didn't have time to dwell on it. The wave of assailants pressed him back against the cliff face as he ducked and weaved away from the first few blows and attempted grabs. A spear tip glanced off near his shoulder with a few sparks, protected by his magical shielding.

"Okay, no more mister nice guy." He growled as he thrust his left hand out again. A whisper of power laces ancient words as a rush of wind tries to envelope another morlock to suspend them in the air.

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GM

 

Your power catches the Morlock unawares and with a shout of surprise it drops its weapon, which goes clattering down the cliff. It floats there, uncertainty on its face as it struggles against something which it could find no purchase with its hands or feet.

 

The other Morlocks back away at the show of power, and you see their morale drop as a group. But before any could think of fleeing, one of them steps back into the fight and slams a club aimed at your head. The others see this and rush back in, trying to catch you between the three of them and break through your shields with their crude weapons.

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Blackstaff thought he had my his point when the morlocks hesitated. He allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction... which promptly vanished when one of the morlocks steps back in and swings at him only for it to glance off the force field. He was losing his patience.

 

"That is enough!" He yells as he raises the blasting rod. The blue-white light of it's tip shifting to a red-orange flare as he aims it at one of the stalactites hanging from the nearby ceiling. His voice echoes with a roar of anger as the spell burns the words as he shouts them and a lance of intense flames slams into the rock with destructive force. He swings the rod back around at the morlocks, the tip of it shedding waves of heat as the red-orange light pulses.

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GM

 

The stalactite breaks from the lance of flame, sending bits and pieces of rock smattering over all your heads.

 

Then when you point your blasting rod at the remaining Morlocks, you see the fear in their faces. They do not speak your tongue but they understand a threat clear enough. One by one, they back off until there is space between you and them, but still they block access to the path behind them. They hold their weapons grimly, ready to use them again should you come closer.

 

It seems that you and the morlocks would be at an impasse, until a morlock appears from the cliff face behind them. It is the one who had spoken to you in English a while ago. It surveys the scene around it, the standoff between you and the morlocks, the morlock hanging in the air in a ball of air, the three morlocks you had downed. With a growl it strides towards you.

 

"Human," it pushes aside one of the morlocks you had fought and sticks a knife under your nose threateningly. "Go away human. We forget." He waves at the downed morlocks around you. We will forget this. Then it pulls back its knife and thumps its chest. "We forget. We work with River Clan. Go away."

 

The River Clan. The morlock leader mentioned the Cryptid Clan which holds claim over the rivers that run through the city and the islands found on them. But before you can respond, another morlock appears from the cliff face, a rope in its hands. It pulls on the rope, its end still behind the cliff face. A human steps out, his wrists bound by the rope. His clothes are bedraggled, a bruise sits under one eye. Dirt crusts his clothes as if he had fallen.

 

His eyes are downcast, defeated, and he does not see you.

 

Behind him, more morlocks appear and they carry with the boxes and documents and items to a morlock.

 

They had taken what they had come from and only you stand in their way.

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Blackstaff looks past the morlock leader at the bedraggle man being led out onto the path. He sighs heavily. “I’m sure you’re all just doing what you’re told. But I’m afraid I’m on the clock as well.”

 

“Mister Upal, I assume.” Blackstaff calls past the morlocks before switching to Sumerian, hoping the researcher understands it. “I apologize for not getting here earlier. Are the papers and materials important?” The tip of his rod glowing brighter as the air around it distorting from the heat.

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Posted (edited)

GM

 

Advay startles as he hears his name, and he notices you. At first he does not register you, but a glimmer of hope crosses his eyes.

 

"Mr. Dayes?"

 

When you ask him in Sumerian, he stammers. "I-- I-- I'm not quite sure what you are saying. But I'm afraid you are too late, Mr. Dayes." He raises his wrists, secured by rope. "I've been had and these morlocks have informed me I'll be taken to the River Clan, along with all my work. To be imprisoned and to work for them, I presume."

 

From the corner of your eye, you notice the distant figures of the dwarf and the badger leap up from their campsite and quickly gather their belongings. Whatever has them excited about soon becomes clear as they begin to hastily make their way towards your general direction. It is a trek that would take them a bit of time given the uneven, maze-like ground of the cavern.

 

Beside you, the morlock leader notices the dwarf and the badger too. But the morlock turns towards you instead, giving you a throaty growl as it raises its knife.

 

"Leave."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue
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Blackstaff sighed. "Plan B it is then."

 

His eyes focused on the morlocks like a professional bowler staring at the ten pins. With a swipe of his hand he flung the floating creature into it's brethren, releasing it as he did so. Reaching out with his magic he grabs for Advay, swiping the arm back across in an arc in an attempt pull the researcher around the morlocks to his side.

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Whirling winds wrap around Advay pulling him away from his captors. They carry the researcher out over the cliff face and around the morlocks before setting him safely behind Blackstaff, positioning the wizard between the morlocks and his client. His attention focused on the morlocks as they try to regroup, Blackstaff's mind is already pulling together a spell on the fly. He assembles the words quickly and pours magic into them. The temperature on the cliff face drops instantly as he the arcane words echo off it and the magic strains against the nature heat and dryness of the cavern. Suddenly, in a flash, an arctic gale erupts in a vortex of ice and wind that washes over everyone. With a concentrated effort to direct the spell around himself and Advay the magically created ice crashes over the morlocks like a wave, threatening to trap them where they stood.

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GM

 

"Wait wait wait!"

 

Advay squeals as he if suddenly lifted off his feet and hurled through the air towards you. There is a yelp of surprise from the Morlock holding the professor's rope. Though the Morlock tries to keep its grip on the rope, it is in vain, and it trips, landing face-first in a heap.

 

Your spell puts the Morlocks into action and immediately you see those with weapons already on hand, advance towards you. Those still carrying the professor's boxes set them down and reach for their own weapons. But it is the leader of the group who is right in front of you, and it swipes you with its dagger. The crude blade glows faintly with malignant energies but whatever the effects, you won't feel them as you dodge away from the blade.

 

Before they could bring more of their numbers to bear, you cast another spell. The temperature drops, turning the dry heat of the cavern into blistering cold, and you summon a fierce winter's gale. You see the Morlock leader's eyes widen in surprise a second before the magical ice washes over it and its companions. When the ice subsides, allowing you visibility once more, you see the leader encased in an unbroken block of ice. Only its head and its hands, one of them still wielding the glowing dagger, are free to move around.

 

You see it struggle. The ice does not budge. Then it turns its eyes towards you, a snarl in its face. Yet it says nothing, only growling softly.

 

Behind it, most of the Morlocks have been similarly encased. Only four of their number are lucky, untouched by the ice entirely or only a foot or hand trapped within the ice, something that is easily broken. They stare at you, clearly overawed by the power on display, and they do not approach you. They only hold their weapons warily.

 

"A-- a fine display of skill, Mr. Dayes." Behind you, Advay is breathing heavily as he attempts to free himself from his bonds. "Too much action for me, I'm afraid, but that is precisely why I hired you."

 

Finally, he slips his hands from the rope and looks up to regard you. He adjusts his spectacles with one hand. "You-- you are who you are, yes? I have to ask, do you have a plan for escape? For me, of course, but also," He gestures to the boxes at the feet of the trapped Morlocks. "But also for my work and equipment."  

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"I am who I am." Blackstaff replies.

3 hours ago, Zeitgeist Blue said:

"You-- you are who you are, yes? I have to ask, do you have a plan for escape? For me, of course, but also," He gestures to the boxes at the feet of the trapped Morlocks. "But also for my work and equipment."  

 

"To an extent I d-" He starts then stops. He looks back at Advay, then to the boxes. "Because, of course." He sighs under his breath.

Keeping an eye on the morlocks he starts again in a calm, matter-of-fact tone. "I'm sorry Mister Upal, but I can't guarantee your safety carrying five boxes with us." After just a moment of thought. "But you are the client, so I think we can manage two boxes and still make good time. You need to decide quickly, and I can destroy anything you don't want taken." He offers.

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GM

 

"Oh no no no no," Advay shakes his head as you give him an option to choose among his belongings. "There's no need for that now. I have just the thing that would bring us along."

 

He gestures to the boxes and the path full of trapped Morlocks. "If, ah, you would stay by my side to ensure none off these ruffians put their hand on me, I have a device which could bring all my belongings with me." Then he steps forward, his stride confident for one who had just been beaten and bound a few seconds before. Perhaps your presence had boosted his sense of security considerably.

 

None of the Morlocks trapped in ice attempt to stop the both of you and the few Morlocks still free back away as Advay moves towards one of the boxes. The professor opens it and rummages through its contents. He takes out a small circular device, slightly larger than the palm of his hand, and with a click it begins to glow softly. All five boxes are lifted into the air, as if by invisible hands, and arrange themselves neatly into a line.

 

Advay smiles and pockets his device. "Perfect. The Ether Key remains functional. Heavens know I wouldn't know what to do if it was broken."

 

Then he gestures with a hand. "After you then, Mr. Dayes. I trust my down payment to be sufficient? Is the bennu to your liking?"

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Blackstaff watches the morlocks as Advay makes his way to the boxes. As they line up behind the researcher he nods approvingly and glances back at the morlocks. "No hard feelings, it was nothing personal."

Taking the lead he starts back down the cliff face. "Ba is a fine bird." He says conversationally. "He's already made himself at home." Once the two are well out sight and ear shot Blackstaff stops Advay. "One second." He takes the man's forearm and pulls the bracelet from his pocket. Slipping it Advay's wrist around he closes it, activating its magic. "This should keep anyone from being able to track you magically."

Slipping his hands into the pockets of his coat the wizard glances down the tunnel. "I don't suppose you know any less used paths leading up to the surface?" He asks hopefully. "It won't help much if we run into someone face-to-face."

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