CAST OF PLAYERS:
Jeremy Whitener…………Korin Alabaster………………………Were-Mongoose
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Alseyne clutched Pip’s arm, her nails digging into his flesh, her body rigid with fear. “Pip — the green wall sconces — could they be important?” She raised her voice to be heard over the water. “Maybe if we destroyed them or put them out the water would recede and the ceiling would quit trying to roast us.”
In between the waves that slapped at his face Korin looked from the fire to the sconces to the water. “Well at least we will still have light, what with the inferno above us.”
“I think they are magically powered,” Pip shared. “I had a sense from them.”
Alseyne wiped a bit of water from her face shakily, forcing herself to stay calm in the rising water, “Do you want me to try dousing them with an EP spell or can you do it? I’m still…not fully focusing right now – I might mess it up.”
“How would you douse ’em?” Pip looked at the gem-like sconces, “I don’t think there’s any fire in there. They look like they need to be broken.”
Alseyne nodded blearily, “Sorry…I’m still not thinking straight. Uhh..maybe Claws can take my sword and destroy them? I know I’m not going to be able to go underwater myself. Or…” she swallowed heavily in fear at the thought of trusting her safety to the volatile tiger, “…if he can support me then you can take my sword and use it on them. Surely with the diamond edge on it it will be able to break the gems.”
Korin swam forward, the flames licking and singeing at his soaked fur. “Look…if it will get us out of this shit storm I’ll go do it.” He extended his hand for the sword. “Any special operating instructions on this fancy pig sticker?”
Alseyne turned her face slightly in his direction. “Oh..certainly.” She unclenched her hand from the blade and passed it vaguely in his direction, doing her best not to move much at all. She was struggling to control her fear, making her movements slow as if she was afraid moving too much would cause Pip to lose his grip on her. “Nothing special — the spell on it should cut through the stone pretty easily if it’s like those behemoths. Just try not to break it.” She smiled weakly towars Korin, “I also don’t recommend testing the edge with your finger. You’re likely to lose it.”
Claws looked down at the glowing sconces below them. “You don’t want to go to the green glowing things,” he said to the quivering Alseyne. “Fine. I’ll bring them to you.” With that, he dove head first down to the bottom of the pool.
Alseyne closed her eyes and laid her head back against Pip’s chest, trying to remain calm. She swallowed hard and without moving she said, “Casey, do you think you can help me control my f..fear? It’s taking all of my energy to try and stay calm…and I may need it later.”
Casey abandoned her fruitless efforts to extinguish the flames, and turned to the Fae. She’d raised her mental shields against the general high levels of anxiety in the room, but she didn’t need telepathy to she that Alseyne was on the brink of panic. The heretofore unshakable warrior was clinging tightly to Pip, nearly mindless with dread of … what? The fire?
No…the water. Brushing Alseyne’s mind, Casey felt the Sidhe’s overwhelming terror of drowning, of being sucked down to a cold, airless death.
Felt her own panic rising in empathetic response, her arms beginning to flail wildly in the rough waves. Instinctively she started to levitate out of the water, but the heat of the flames immediately forced her back down.
Okay. This is borrowed fear, she reminded herself. Calm down before you really do drown. It’s only water; you’ve been swimming in it since you were a little kid.
The frantic pounding of her heart slowed, her hands resumed their sure strokes. She’d always enjoyed swimming: the buoyant feel of being suspended between earth and sky, escaping the bonds of gravity for a while. Before she could fly, swimming came pretty close.
She sent those sensations to Alseyne, trying to capture and express the feeling of safety, the pleasure to be found in the buoyant embrace of water, the easy rhythm of strokes needed to keep oneself upright and afloat.
Alseyne untensed — just a bit. Her fear ran too deep to be aided much by external influences. She could think, though… more clearly than a moment before. She breathed a sigh of relief and opened her eyes, turning her head toward Casey. “Thanks, Casey. That helps a bit. After this is all over maybe I can use you as a therapist.” She smiled wanly.
**After all this is over,** Casey’s mental voice was half-humorous, half-serious, **I suspect I’m going to need therapy myself. Maybe we can go together.** She glanced down to see if the first sconce had been destroyed yet…
…just in time to see stone hands emerge from the submerged wall and seize the Tiger. Two encircled his ankles, holding him fast while another pair clutched him by the throat proceeding to strangle him.
Alseyne saw it too. “Korin….you’d better head down there by Claws. The sword should cut through the stone more easily than Claws can tear it off anyway and it looks like he’s having some sort of difficulty.”
Korin’s eyes widened at Claws’ predicament. Sword in hand he took a deep gulp of air and joined the fray beneath the water.
“I’ll go too.” Casey took a deep breath and ducked beneath the surface, reaching under her jacket for her weapon. Extending the blade, she swam strongly down toward the green light, peering through the illuminated water. There … she could just make out the struggling Tiger and the stone that held him.
The Mangoose maneuvered beneath Claws, and as he hauled the sword back to hack away at the stone holding the Bastet’s feet, he was also seized up! Stone hands with the strength of titans CRUSHED his wrist. A shriek of pain evidenced only as a storm of bubbles — his very life breath — roared from his widened mouth.
Alseyne’s sword fell from his hand and sank to the bottom of the chamber.
Too late, the Mangoose realized that even his great speed was rendered slow under the water.
Claws bucked and pulled, but was held fast. Visibly, his terrific strength waned. Korin’s eyes bulged with panic, mere moments from death.
Shocked, Casey hesitated for an instant, then aimed her Adamas blade with as much force as she could muster at the green-glowing stone in the sconce.
:: Casey! Don’t! :: A familiar voice… from the flames, earlier. :: You mustn’t! ::
Instinctively obeying Mardmor’s command, she shifted the angle of her swing to come down instead on the stone hands gripping Korin’s wrist.
She separated the stony arm from the wall. Maintaining its grip on the Mangoose, the weight of the massive appendage drew Korin to the chamber floor.
Cursing silently she moved to Claws. Lowering her mouth to his, she breathed all the air she had left into his lungs. Then she struck out for the surface, the water growing warmer the higher she went.
She exploded to the top of the pool.
“What’s going on down there?” Pip asked.
“They’re drowning, they’re caught,” she gasped, looking around for the vampire.
There was no time to elaborate; she filled her lungs with air and dove back down. ** Elijah, Korin needs help! He’s on the floor, can you pull him up to the surface? **
:: Workin’ on that ::
Casey swam straight to Claws, hanging apparently lifeless now in his shackles. Carefully this time, she cut through the arm holding Claws’ by the throat …
…and an arm extended, grabbing her up by the shoulder! She cried out, bubbles erupting from her mouth. Crushing pain! She struggled wildly against the stone holding her, blind panic lapping at the edges of her mind. **MARDMOR! WHY MUSN’T I BREAK THE GREEN STONE?**
:: Terrible, terribleness! ::
Something snapped in Casey’s head. Her dread of being restrained against her will, compounded a hundredfold by the fact that she was facing immediate death, and seriously aggravated by Mardmor’s singularly uninformative answer, goaded her into a rash, impulsive act of desperation. Staring widely through black sparkles of oxygen deprivation, she jerked her blade up and brought it crashing down on the glowing green stone that to her stricken brain looked like the direct source of all her troubles.
A tremendous bright flash of green energy EXPLODED before her, pelting her with stone and waves of force. She was sent sprawling across the pool, tumbling end over end. Her lungs burned!
Claws swam free, his stony restraints having dissolved into pebbles.
As they broke the surface, it was immediately apparent that something had changed. The air was frigid now, and chunks of ice floated in the water.
Casey — her head beginning to clear — looked to the floor of the submerged chamber. Elijah and Korin were nowhere to be seen. ** ELIJAH! KORIN! WHERE ARE YOU? **
She extended her perceptions as far as she could reach, searching for their presence. ** Mardmor, what happened? I’m going to break the rest of them unless you can be more specific about why I shouldn’t! ** Her teeth chattered, her body shook violently in the ice-choked water.
:: Destroying the stones unleashes the elementals. They are at least somewhat contained. Their actions are limited. Without the stones, they will be unfettered, free to destroy you! ::
** Okay. I’ll remember that. Do you know what happened to the vampire and were-mongoose that were here a minute ago? **
:: Buried alive. Inside the stone. ::
** WHAT?? Can they survive that? **
:: I believe them to be dead. ::
Casey went numb with shock.
Then she whirled, swimming toward Pip and Alseyne. ** I don’t accept that. ** Reaching the two, she panted, “Korin and Elijah are buried alive inside the stone down there.”
“What??? Blast it!” Alseyne responds in frustration.
“Do either of you know a spell or something to free them?”
Pip sighed, “I may be able to help… but…” His eyes flicked meaningfully to Alseyne.
“I can help Alseyne,” Casey said hurriedly. “If she trusts me.”
Alseyne’s arms tightened convulsively on Pip for a moment. Then she swallowed hard. “I trust you, Casey. And Pip is needed down there.” She kissed Pip once on the cheek and whispered, “Go get ’em, Aghra. I’ll be okay. Be careful.” Then she loosened her hold on him and reached out to Casey.
Casey extended an arm as well, so that the two of them grasped each other’s forearms, but she lifted her other hand in a ‘wait’ gesture to indicate that Alseyne shouldn’t move closer. Then the gesture changed subtly, and the Sidhe felt herself rising ever so slightly out of the water. Only an inch or two higher than she might have floated on her own, but enough for there to be no doubt that Casey was levitating her. ** You can’t sink, ** the girl assured her. ** I’ve got you, you’re completely safe. ** Unless someone clubs me on the head, the thought popped unbidden into her mind, but she squelched it before it could slip through the link.
Alseyne swallowed convulsively, but forced herself to relax her hold on Pip and release him to go help Korin and Elijah. She smiled shakily at Pip, “Go on, love. I’ll be fine.”
Seeing Alseyne’s discomfort with the lack of physical support, Casey attempted to take her mind off the water with a change of subject. “You were right about the sconces … sort of. They seem to be receptacles, with hostile elementals inside. They can attack us, but their range is limited to the general area where they’re contained. Break the green stones and we release the elementals. I gather that’s a bad thing though — they still want to kill us, and without their prisons they’re free to follow us around wherever we go; we can’t get out of range.” She grimaced. “Unfortunately I’ve already broken one. Stone elemental. Sorry about that.”
“Wait – so we’ve got a stone elemental on the loose down there? Is that what has Elijah and Korin?”
“I think so. I think the floor just…swallowed them.”