CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Kendall Nye………………Joseph McAdoo……………………..Ronin Garou
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Casey, Falco and the three Dogpeople moved upward through a narrow shaft of gaps among the wreckage and debris following the destruction of Mardmor’s Machine. It was a slow climb of winding tunnels, low ceilings, and crawl ways.
At last they reached a clear area that had once been part of the chamber housing the Machine. An open doorway lay ahead, and People standing guard.
Pana in bipedal form nodded her direction. The Malamute appeared stoic and formal, but Casey could sense the dog-woman’s excitement at seeing her. She smiled. “Good to see you in one piece, Pana. I was afraid I’d lost you.”
“Not ever, ma’am.” Pana nodded respectfully.
“Good.” Casey’s smile faded. “Were very many of the People lost in the blast?”
“Yes.” Pana provided a single, solemn nod in response. “But for each one of our we lost, we took dozens of theirs.”
Casey nodded, then sighed. What a waste … all those lives, on both sides, thrown away for Mardmor’s mad ambitions. She wondered what his misguided followers would do now. Regroup, try to build another Gateway Engine? Recognize the folly of their aspirations and go peacefully back to their old lives? Whichever way they went, they’d have to do without Prince Bronwen’s help next time around. Casey hadn’t forgotten her promise to Houseman to eliminate that foul source of treachery and murder. The Vampire Prince was still next on her to-do list.
Well, no. Next on her to-do list were shower, food and sleep. But testing the keenness of her blade on Bronwen’s throat was certainly up there in the top five.
“We need to get out of here soon,” Cerberus urged. “The entire city is turning out for this.”
“I suspect,” Falco responded, “That Casey might like us to gather up any her fellows that made it through.”
She nodded. “They were all up at the top of the chamber. If they didn’t make it out in time, at least they hopefully aren’t buried too deeply.” She attempted to get a sense of her comrades’ whereabouts.
Pip and Alseyne were almost at the top …
… Bran and McAdoo were closer. Oh, good. Somehow she’d missed those two before; she was glad they’re still alive.
It was a wonder her psionics were working at all, really. The way her head was pounding, she expected her brains to start leaking out her ears any minute. The fatigue was taking its toll. But her perceptions were a bit more clear up here than they’d been in the cavern she and Falco had been in. She also had distant sense of Yggthor and Korin now. They were above, she believed, but no longer in the chamber.
She looked to Falco for guidance. “Should we work our way up? Stonewing and the garou, and then Pip and Alseyne? I wonder if the quickest way up there would be to use the staircases outside the chamber.”
Falco sent his senses up after Casey’s. Standing near him, she marveled that even as damaged an abused as he had been that his mind still crackled with power. She could feel the heat of his probing intelligence touching and poking at the wreckage towering above them.
“Yes,” he concluded. “All of this could easily shift. We’ll approach them from above.”
Falco nodded at Cerberus, who answered him with a soft “woof.”
All of the People, Pana included, reverted to their quadraped forms.
“Shall we?” Falco gestured to the doorway.
Casey turned back to scan the wreckage. “Wonder what the chances are of finding Mardmor’s amulet in this mess. I don’t think we should leave it here to be found by whoever stumbles across it.” She sent her drained, weak perceptions seeking through the rubble for the amulet’s familiar presence.
It took her a moment, but she located it … about fifty feet above her. “There it is, up there. Let’s get the survivors dug out first, though; the amulet will keep.” She fell in step beside Falco as they left the chamber. “So, vampires using sorcery, huh? Sounds like my worst nightmare.”
“There were a few of them. Thaumaturgists, I believe they are called. But there were also human sorcerers. Really, a phenomenal pain in the ass.”
“Probably too much to hope for that we won’t be seeing them again.”
“Yes,” Falco nodded. “I’ll have to do something about that.”
She frowned. “Sleep first, though, right? I’m all about bringing down the bad guys, but it’s gotta be almost intermission time by now.”
Falco chuckled. “You’d think.”
She tugged the Well from her belt and held it up for him to see. “Do you know anything about what this is? Samantha had it at the Whataburger, and then McAdoo had it when he showed up here. He called it “the Well.” I tried to drain the Machine’s power into it, but something tentacley started to crawl out of it and get all antisocial on me.” She showed him the red puncture-marks on her forearm.
He examined her arm with his hands. They were warm and soothing. Her arm was fully healed once he removed them.
She sighed softly as the pain faded away. “Thanks,” she murmured, offering him her other, equally-punctured arm. “I don’t think I could heal a mosquito bite right now, I’m so tapped out.”
He nodded, mending the other arm. “Been a long night.”
She considered asking him to do something about her blinding headache, but after all he’s been through tonight it seemed childishly selfish to ask him to expend himself even further on her behalf.
“No poisons or magic taint,” he commented of the now-mended wounds. He then looked to the pouch.
“I need to get it back to McAdoo when we find him, but I get the feeling he doesn’t know how to use it much better than I do. Is it something you’re familiar with?”
“I am not familiar with this artifact, but … some of my people managed to salvage some items from the Archive before it was fully consumed. We could consult Houseman’s database.”
“Sounds like a plan. As long as there’s sleep first.”
“I plan on hibernating.”
They climbed the stairs, dogs ahead of them and behind.
Casey’s stiff, weary body protested every step, but she was determined not to look weak in front of Falco and the People. She strode up each flight of stairs with single-minded tenacity, moving as quickly as the rest of the group.
They located McAdoo and Stonewing’s position in the collapsed chamber, and dug through the rubble to liberate them. But as the group broke through, Casey only vaguely recognized the lone figure standing before her.
Clearly, it was McAdoo in his wolf-man form … but changed. He had large ram-like horns curling from his head and that was odd enough. But what was really odd was that he was fully composed of stone — almost as if he and Stonewing were somehow merged. Casey stared in astonishment at the altered garou. Had the heat of Mardmor’s fire … welded them together …?
“McAdoo?” she asked cautiously. “Are you okay?” No, stupid question. “I — I mean, are you injured? We need to get everyone out of the wreckage before it settles any more. Can you walk?”
” Aye, I’m hurting a bit ’tis true, but I’ve no tru’ble walkin’.” He stops, plainly amazed at the accent that had come out of his own mouth. ” Damn, that was strange.” He moved to them. ” The Well.. Is it safe? ” he asked with some urgency, ” And do you have the blade?”
“Mardmor!” McAdoo barked unbidden. “Tell me, lass. Does the Goblin King live?” He frowned as if he’d been interrupted by his own exclamation, and then nodded in slow agreement.
Casey squinted uncertainly at McAdoo/Stonewing. Now that was just plain unsettling. “I’m not sure,” she said slowly, answering the last question first. “I saw his body burning, but I didn’t see it consumed. I’m not getting a sense of his presence here, but … my psionics are kind of tapped out at the moment. I could barely sense you, and only on the second try.”
“Then the devil yet lives,” BranAdoo growled.
“I suspect he does,” Casey agreed somberly. “But he won’t be opening any gates today, we accomplished that much at least.” She reached down to her belt, pulling out the small tartan bag that was tucked into it. “I do have this, though.” She handed him/them the Well.
“Och!” The Stonewolf exclaimed “This be the Well of Worlds!” A pause, and then, “Aye … I mean, yes. What do you know of it, General? ” Pause. “I’ve fought many-a-foe with the Guardian by my side. That must be you now, aye? Where is Myrle? That dragon can drink, I’ll say. And expensive taste!” Pause. ” Myrle died last night, along with the Guardian and another who saved my life. ” and with that memory McAdoo sighed, ” And whether I’m the Guardian or no.. not, I bear the Well. Rather, we bear … whatever… ” Pause. “Myrle was a valued companion. I am saddened to learn of his passing.” The Stonewolf looked thoughtful, then added, “So who is your mentor?” Pause. “I honestly don’t know. I’m beginning to think I’m just a stopping point on the way to the true Guardian.”
Casey stared at the creature before her, fascinated and just slightly unnerved by the way it kept talking to itself like that.
Falco was captivated by this as well. Even the dogs’ heads were turning as the creature talked to itself.
“The blade … ” Casey recalled his earlier question. “I have my blade. Did you mean yours? I haven’t seen it, sorry.” She moved back through the narrow gap in the rubble, gesturing him to follow. “We’ve got to get out of here. Pip and Alseyne are up a little higher, we need to dig them out too.”
McAdoo nodded as he accepted the Well, looping it securely on his belt, then his large stone hand went to where the guardian blade would hang, clenching on empty air. “Yes … let’s get to it then. What of Yggthor and the mongoose?”
“They’re up there, but I don’t think they’re still in the chamber. Hopefully they got free of the mess.” She sighed. “No sign of Elijah, Marlboro, Andali or the prisoners.”
The werewolf/troll looked unfocused for a moment, distant. ” General, can you cast any healing or search cantrips? ” Pause. “Healing’s a gift I do not possess, but I can track. Who shall we seek first?” Pause “Let’s unbury the elves and then seek Yggthor, if he survives. The living first — or allies, since we count that vampire.” The Stonewolf cast a quick cantrip and led the others out, a dog preceding him.
Casey followed them back through the tunnel that had been cleared through the wreckage, shaking her head bemusedly at the ever-increasing weirdness of this night’s adventures.
Falco looked to Casey. :: I am assuming this is a new situation? I remember the McAdoo personality from the restaurant… but this scottish persona is new to me. ::
** It’s a new twist for me too, but I think I know how it happened. When McAdoo showed up here tonight be was with another guy, this huge stone troll with wings. Looked like something off of Notre Dame’s buttresses; called himself General Stonewing. Anyway, Mardmor ignited his head with some kind of magical fire, and McAdoo was trying all kinds of crazy stuff to put it out. I’m thinking the magical fire must have spread to McAdoo, and somehow melded them together. Creepy, huh? **
:: Yes… It’s more than a little unsettling. Magic. No good ever comes of it. ::