CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Jeremy Whitener…………Korin Alabaster………………………Were Mongoose
Rob Bennett……………..General Branford Stonewing………..Troll Changeling
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
About twenty new dogs were approaching from farther down the catwalk.
“Ahhhhh shit do these guys ever run out of bodies to throw at us?” Korin snarled, stepping past his companions to engage the new threat.
“Wait, Korin! Don’t attack!” Alseyne called out. “They may be allies. None of them has attacked us thus far. Let’s not invite attacks.”
He stopped mid-crouch, glancing quickly over his shoulder at Alseyne then back at the dogs.
Casey scanned the big chamber. “They’re all coming. I called them, but I wasn’t sure they’d all come. I wonder if we could set them to guard the prisoners while we go take on Mardmor and Staff Guy.”
Alseyne looked at the dogs. “Casey, I’m not sure. Can they be trusted to obey your orders when you aren’t present? If they turn on the prisoners we won’t be here to stop them. I was actually thinking they might be more useful coming with us — the dogs, I mean. And for the prisoners it would likely be safer than staying here unprotected and they don’t have to confront Mardmor — they can hang back while we and the dogs take on Mardmor’s troops up there.”
Casey considered that. “The only thing is … Mardmor’s a psionic too, and a stronger one than me. If we take the dogs up there he might wrest them from my influence and make them turn and attack us. We’d have no choice but to kill them, and I *really* don’t want to do that.” She shrugged. “Mardmor doesn’t want the changelings dead though, he wants them in his Machine, so I doubt he’d cause the dogs to hurt them down here. Although….” She trailed off thoughtfully as that concept sank in. “That might actually mean we’d *all* be safer if we brought them up with us, doesn’t it? He might hesitate to start a dogfight too close to his Machine-food.” Casey grimaced. “There’s risks either way, but you’re probably right. We should take them with us.”
“Well, considering the Redcaps who ran into the flames before you dropped the gantry, I’m not so sure he’d really be all that concerned about the ‘food’ as you call it. I get the impression he’d willingly sacrifice anyone and everyone other than himself to accomplish his task.”
“Still, there must be some reason why he went to all the trouble of collecting these changelings. Why abduct a Duke’s daughter if any old guard would serve just as well?”
Alseyne shrugged. “He may not have known who he was getting.”
“But why bother to capture a bunch of people that are bound to be missed, and risk drawing attention to himself and his Machine, when his own army is ready and willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause?”
“Maybe it would take a lot fewer Seelie powers being sacrificed? Maybe there’s a difference in the ‘flavor’ of the powers?”
“When Pip–” Casey broke off. She’d been about to say that when Pip had been killed a single guard had been needed to take his place … but none of that had really happened at all. She shrugged, frowning irritably at the reminder that they were all just dancing to the whims of Mardmor’s pipes tonight. “Maybe.”
“Maybe the amount of glamour they had? I don’t know and I’m not really inclined to ask Mardmor. Maybe we’ll find something in his notes after this is all over.”
Casey chewed her lip, deep in thought, but didn’t add anything else.
“But I do believe it might be safer if we all stuck together — prisoners included.” Alseyne commented.
“Okay. We’d better get Elijah back up here then.”
Alseyne nodded, “Korin called him.” She looked at the prisoners and raised her voice a bit. “If any of you do not want to accompany us to confront Mardmor I will quite understand. However, you will be on your own if you choose to try to make your way out of here instead and I do not know what or who you might encounter in doing so.”
“I’m in,” said the burly Nocker.
A lovely Satyr nodded agreement as well. “Me, too.”
They all agreed.
“Well thats great,” Korin said. “Now we all agree we’re together … whats our plan?”
“Well, looks like we have one more set of Redcaps to fight before we get there,” Alseyne mused. “I think we might be better off waiting for them to start down the ladders and picking them off one by one if we can do that rather than climbing up and letting them pick us off one by one.”
Korin eyed the approaching dogs warily. “Elij……get up here!!”
Casey moved back to the railing to see what the vampire was up to. He seemed to be conversing with the big winged stone troll gargoyle thing that had tried to land on the gantry when it fell.
Alseyne looked around uneasily. “Casey, you ARE controlling all of these dogs, right? I’d hate to have to fight all of these things. They look nasty.”
“Simple minds,” Casey replied easily. “Not as complicated as controlling sentients. That’s not a guarantee, mind you — they’re not machines, any living thing can be unpredictable. But so far they’ve all done what I’ve asked of them.”
“Think you can get them to climb ladders again? They apparently did it to get to you and we’ve got more to go.”
“They seem to be able to manage it, unless there’s hidden ramps somewhere we’re not seeing. Hopefully they won’t slow us down too much.” Casey searched through the pack for Pana. At first she didn’t see her, but just as she was about to fret she saw the Malamute padding along the catwalk towards their position with a limping German Shepherd.
Casey brightened at the sight of her dog. “Over here, Pana!” ** How in the world are you guys managing the ladders? **
Her answer was simple, concise. :: Thumbs ::
** Really?? Humans don’t notice that? **
:: Just a thumb. No one was around. We saw to that. And now no thumb. It comes. It goes. ::
Korin looked down into the dark to Elijah. “WHO’S YOUR FRIEND?”
“He calls himself Colonel Rockwell!” The vampire called up.
“Colonel?! As in military colonel? Or the honorary kind that open chicken joints? Never mind, bring your friend and get up here. The girls are working on a plan to get us beat up again.”
Elijah and the stone troll suddenly rocketed up, landing on the catwalk steps away from Casey, Alseyne, Korin, and the others.
Dogs were closing on either end of the catwalk now.
Korin’s jaw dropped at the sight of the winged troll. “Well hoooooly shit!! This just keeps getting better.” He backed a step away, trying to keep his eyes on the troll and all the dogs at once.
Alseyne spun to confront the behemoth, her sword held ready before her, her weight held on the balls of her feet to attack or defend as needed.
Casey stared at the vampire, slung like a sack of potatoes over the shoulder of the enormous gargoyle. “You should think about staying away from giant stone creatures, Elijah … I think they’re starting to develop a taste for you.”
“Tell me about it,” Elijah grumped as he wriggles free from the troll.
Casey turned her gaze up to the gargoyle’s face. “Colonel Rockwell?”
The troll inclined his head to those gathered. “General Bran Stonewing at your service.
“Oh come on, Man!” Elijah complained. “Is it Rockwell or Stonewing? Get your story straight!”
Stonewing rumbles on. “Those of ye that ken make the jump, take the others. The GoblinKing does make war with our allies and time grows short.”
Casey blinked. “There are sixteen of us and twenty-eight dogs, and only four of us that could make that jump. I think we’re just going to use the ladders.”
Bran shrugged. “As you say.” He looked through the crowd, “I dinnae suppose anyone else wants a lift to yonder top?” He pointed to where Pip was battling Marmor’s guards.
Alseyne looked longingly in that direction before turning back to check the people she needed to protect. “Wynne, why don’t you go along with him,” she suggested. “Pip and Yggthor can use your help up there.”
Wynne nodded, stepping up beside the large troll. “Rockwell is it?” the small sluagh asked the General.
“Stonewing,” he rumbled, inclining his head politely before scooping her up gently.
“Wynne,” she answered. “Nice to meet you.”
“Casey … can you confirm all these dogs are on our side?” Alseyne’s words were edge laced and a bit short. “Sorry but we need to be sure and what with all the commotion and new players a guy’s nerves can get frayed.”
“To the best of my knowledge they all are … at this time.” She turned with a smile as Pana padded up to her, reaching down to scratch the Malamute behind the ears. “Missed you, girl.”
The Malamute nuzzled Casey’s arm with great affection.
She glanced over the German Shepherd Pana had brought with her, her smile fading as she saw the massive gash across his flank. “Well, crap. Alseyne, can you heal animals?” She offered a cautious hand for the injured dog to sniff, by way of introduction.
“Normally, yes, but near this much cold iron it’s very difficult and I’ve been saving what little magic I have for emergencies,” Alseyne responded with a wry smile. “Can it be bandaged for now and I’ll tend to it once we get further away from the machine?”
Casey almost had to laugh at that. Between Elijah, Korin, Alseyne, Wynne and herself, they didn’t have a spare shred of cloth between them. She glanced through the ex-captives for a possible bandage donor … then turned suddenly back to the wounded dog with a new thought.
Back in Mardmor’s workshop, she had “healed” her maimed hands. It hadn’t been real, just another of the Goblin King’s games, but … she could still remember the sensation of healing the damaged flesh. Was that really something she was potentially capable of?
She knelt beside the Shepherd, running a hand lightly down his ribs, then resting it gently on his wound. Closing her eyes, she poured her perceptions into the injury, attempting to knit the ravaged flesh back to wholeness.
For a moment she felt only the wound, the horror of it, the violation. But she forced that aside. Her mind opened the nature of the flesh…
…and beyond that, to the miracle of life … the limitless possibilities of the cells … they just a need a PUSH!
The dog yelped a startled bark.
He was completely healed.
Casey rocked back on her heels, enthralled by her success. She’d just healed an injury …!
Maybe. Or not. Mardmor did enjoy his games. She shouldn’t get too excited about this new development until it worked *outside* of this cursed dungeon. Just keep walking through it ….
She gave the dog a friendly pat, then rose to her feet.
“Let’s move out then before those ‘caps get in place,” Alseyne ordered. “General, we’ll be there as quickly as we can. Casey — could you bring up the rear and make sure everyone gets up all right?”
“Yep,” Casey nodded, gathering the dogs to her as the bipeds headed up the ladder.