CAST OF PLAYERS:
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Casey lay trembling on the pavestones, panting raggedly. The sensation of flames licking at her skin was slow to fade; her hands were still clenched into tight fists beneath her, her muscles taut with strain and terror.
Gradually her mind cleared. Lifting her head from the stone — and the slick pool of blood slowly widening there — she looked owlishly about, to see where her escape had brought her.
A stairway cut into the bedrock wound upward. A dim green light illuminated the stairs from somewhere above.
Wonderful. More green light.
Not seeing any immediate dangers here, she turned and crawled back to the doorway to see how the others were faring. Pip was scrambling to the door with Alseyne in his arms. Claws was behind him still in the water.
Casey swiped at the blood on her mouth, her breath hitching suddenly in her chest. It wasn’t quite a sob. “We’d better keep moving.” Her voice was thin, unsteady. “You guys okay?”
Pip set a pale, shaken Alseyne on her feet inside the doorway. “Peachy. You?” He craned his neck towards the stairs and the green light.
“A little pruney. Glad to be out of the water.” Casey climbed painfully to her feet and stood unsteadily on wobbly knees.
Alseyne continued to cling to Pip as she tried to get her bearings. The satyr looked back to Casey. “Nice job. You…” He got a good look at her. “Sweet mother, Casey. You look like hell.”
That drew a weak snort from Casey; a fine spray of fresh blood landed on her chest and leathers. “Seen a mirror lately? We all look like half-drowned rats.”
He pulled a sodden kerchief out of his vest and handed it to her, indicating her nose. She took it, squeezed the water out of it. “Thanks.” Pressing it to her nose, she attempted to stem the warm red flow.
Korin and Elijah were dead. She’d killed them to save herself.
Don’t think about it. Keep moving.
What happened to Pana?
Don’t think about it! All we can do is keep going.
“I think we should keep moving,” she repeated woodenly. Her trembling intensified to shakes that wracked her soaked body.
Alseyne tried to shake off her mental fugue and focus on Casey, “Wait just a moment, Casey.”
Casey shifted restlessly, her hair a soggy hood around her lowered face. She didn’t reply, but she didn’t move off either.
Alseyne started to cast a healing cantrip, realized she had no glamour left and dug into her purse again, looking to see if she had any of the lemonheads left in the bottom. She found none. “Pip, can you heal Casey? And…blast it! Korin had my sword!” She spun to look back at Claws, who had just crawled wearily through the doorway. “Claws, did you see my sword when you were looking for them?”
The dripping wet Tiger shook his head silently.
Pip fished into his bag and handed two aspirin to Casey, “Here you go.”
She accepted the pills, stared blankly at them for a long moment, then popped them into her mouth. She swallowed them dry, grimacing a little at the bitter taste. Within moments she felt MUCH better.
The magical easing of her physical aches only made her burden of guilt more keenly felt. She should have found another way … she could have saved them all somehow if she’d just kept her head instead of panicking….
The satyr stepped to the stairway. “I’m going to scout this out … I won’t go far.”
“Wait — be careful!” Casey moved stiffly to follow. “I’ll go with you.”
Leaving Claws and Alseyne behind, Casey followed Pip up the stairs. For a fellow tricked out with hooves, he moved awful quiet when he wanted. She concentrated on trying to walk as silently as he, but the squelching of her wet boots seemed to fill the corridor. After three or four frustratingly loud steps, she gave up the attempt and just floated about six inches above each stair.
They wound up the stairway, hugging the walls. Suddenly Pip throws a hand out urging caution.
Casey, her nerves strung tight as piano wire, responded to his outflung hand by instantly drawing her weapon.
“A gate… Iron bars. Two doors beyond.” He leaned close to whisper. “And one of those sconces.”
She made an abrupt — and rather clumsy — landing when the satyr whispered in her ear. He was too damned distracting, even in her current emotional state. For a moment there she’d simply forgotten to float. She stumbled against him, unthinkingly clutched at his arm for balance, and nearly dropped her weapon in her sudden confusion.
Face flaming, she regained a measure of equilibrium and straightened up. ** Sorry. ** She didn’t even attempt to explain her attack of gracelessness; Pip was probably used to having girls fall all over themselves when he was around.
Pip’s hand rested on her arm, steadying her. He said nothing, but his manner communicated a soothing calm. He slipped to the side allowing her a peek.
She leaned to look past him. Sure enough, atop the stairs she observed an iron gate with massive bars and lock covering the expanse of the stair well. Beyond was a heavy steel door with a handle and lock. Opposite of that was another door with no handles, knobs or hinges. Between the two, one of those green sconces illuminated it all. ** Iron gate … your magic won’t work on that, right? Some sort of Fae thing? Do you want me to try and knock it open? I’m almost positive all hell will break loose if I do … maybe we should get everyone together first. **
:: I can affect it with a cantrip, but it would be difficult. :: He smiled. :: I could always pick the lock. Maybe we won’t set any alarms that way? We can’t go back the way we came, and I’m not interested in doing that anyway. So forward is the way to go. Let’s get the others here, prepared to rush the gate once it’s open. Agreed? ::
** Sounds like the best option we’ve got. Do you want me to call them? **
He nodded. :: Yeah… I want to hold here… watch the gate for anything out of the norm… ::
** Okay. ** Turning her perceptions back down the stairwell, she reached for the minds of their companions. ** Alseyne, Claws, come on up. There’s another room at the top of the stairs. **
The two arrived in short order, and found Casey and Pip hugging the walls. Pip was kneeling with a leather pouch in his hands, sorting items, a look of intense concentration on his face. The satyr threw a glance at Alseyne. He provided a warm, weary smile, whispering: “I’m going to pick the lock. You guys all be braced to rush the gate if there’s any trouble. I’m not convinced that those green things are not some kind of monitoring device… so we could have trouble here pretty quick.”
Casey nodded, extending the glassy blade of her weapon and holding it before her cautiously.
“We’re being watched by the green lights?” Claws bristled. “Let’s destroy it.”
“That could bring on a whole ‘nother type of trouble,” Pip commented.
“We’ve had nothing but trouble so far,” Claws grumbled. “Don’t see how this would be any different.”
Pip glanced to Casey, then back to the others. “Ya’ll ready?”
“Love, I’m going to need another weapon,” Alseyne interjected. “Mine disappeared with Korin. I don’t suppose you have another sword in your bag but do you have a dagger or anything?”
He drew out two items and offered them to her. One was a bowie knife, the other was a single ball morning star flail.
Alseyne considered, then decided on the flail. She looked over at Casey. “Have you scanned ahead for minds again?
Casey shook her head. “I can’t read through these walls. I could try the doors though, I guess.” She turned her gaze and her perceptions to the area on the other side of the gate, searching for anyone within reach of her senses. She was met with the same barrier as elsewhere in this dungeon hell. Her senses could’t penetrate.
“No good,” she sighed, brushing a damp strand of hair from her face. This cold, dismal and exhaustingly uncooperative dungeon was taking its toll. “I can’t sense anything in there.”
Alseyne frowned. “Would it be possible to ‘cover’ that sconce so it can’t ‘see’ us? Like by putting an illusion around it of a bare hall or of darkness or something?”
Casey considered that for a long moment. Then she said slowly, “If it was a person, maybe. When I search for other minds, the sconces don’t register as intelligible beings. There may be living elementals in them, but either they’re too powerful for me to read or the receptacles block my telepathy. I could focus on one, try to break through and influence it…but…” she shivered again, “to be honest, they scare me. They’re way stronger than me. Mentally connecting myself to an elemental … I can think of a lot of ways that that could go really wrong.”
Pip nodded. “I agree.”
Alseyne nodded, “Very well. Do try to keep scanning ahead when you think about it though. If the interference ever drops it could come in handy.”
Claws, in Crinos, tested his grip on his Hakarrs. “It’s time for our enemies to die.”
“Couldn’t agree more,” Pip grinned darkly. With that, he dashed up to the gate. Kneeling, he worked the lock with his picks….
KLANK! The gate swung open! Pip waved them all forward.
Gripping her flail securely, Alseyne moved quickly forward with the others.
Casey slipped through the gate right behind her, sword at the ready.
Pip put his ear to the door with no handle, frowned. He moved to the other, listened. “Not getting a thing from either door.”
Casey turned her attention to the door with no hinges, locks or handle. Utilizing the ability that got her down here in the first place, she attempted to find the secret to opening it, but sensed no way to open the door from this side. Turning, she examined the heavy steel door. If there was anyone on the other side of it, she couldn’t sense them. “Can you pick that lock too?” she asked Pip.
“On it,” Pip dropped to a knee and set to work.
Casey cast a wary glance at the sconce between the two doors, in case it reacted unfavorably to Pip’s efforts. A new thought came to her, and she walked over to study the sconce more closely. “I wonder if this is what opens the the other door,” she murmured thoughtfully.
Pip nodded, sliding back from the door, reaching to pull it open.
The iron gate slammed shut, locking behind them as the door Pip just unlocked exploded open, a flood of Dark Ones streaming forth!
A man stepped out. He had the look of a Spanish — or perhaps middle-eastern — ancestry. Long dark hair ran down past his shoulders. He was a lean fellow, looked to be in his forties. He wore black trousers with a cobalt blue shirt opened at the neck. His sleeves were rolled up. In his right hand, he holds a hand hewn wooden staff.
“You might want to close your eyes,” he said in a deep resonant voice. “This is going to hurt.”
The wraiths ripped through the heroes as they gathered themselves. Pip snarled as one spectre after another tore at him. He staggered, moving toward Alseyne to shield her… but never made it. He collapsed at her feet.
Alseyne howled herself, suffering the same soul-searing wounds as her beloved. She fell atop him.
Casey also cried out, her heart racing — head screaming. Fortunately, the agony didn’t last long before she too was struck down. As the light of consciousness dimmed, she saw Claws going down snarling beneath the relentless assault and heard the gentleman’s voice: “I guess we will have to reschedule your killing of me. Right, friend cat?”