CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster………………………Were Mongoose
Kendall Nye………………Joseph McAdoo……………………..Ronin Garou
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
:: Magic. :: In Falco’s mental voice, the word sounded rather more distasteful than magical. :: No good ever comes of it. ::
Casey considered. ** The Fae magic … glamour … it seems pretty useful. To the Fae, I mean. They can heal with it, that has to be a good thing. Pip gave me some aspirin once, ** she added wistfully. ** Wonderful stuff. Although … in retrospect, I guess I’m lucky it didn’t, like, eviscerate me. ** She thought of the healing and Oakenshield charms that had been successfully cast on her tonight. ** Maybe the glamour is only toxic when I try to utilize it, or when it’s purposely used against me? **
:: I’ve never had any luck with the stuff, but I’ve always been on the wrong side of it. ::
** I guess that would make a difference, alright. ** She climbed in silence for a moment. Then, ** How come people like us usually can’t stand one another? **
:: Many reasons. Such as ego for instance. Our abilities are highly advanced. Many feel that our kind are all superior to the rest of humanity, and most feel they are better than the rest of the Attuned. Such views generally lead to forcing others to bend to the dominant will. With a few exceptions, I have found it best to avoid our kind when possible. ::
** I guess I can see that, ** Casey conceded. ** Seems like a shame, though. As if being one of us weren’t isolating enough. **
They moved up the stairway; the dog in the lead woofed a warning. “Someone’s approaching from above,” Falco said.
Yggthor and Korin came around from the landing. Both looked a bit more disheveled than the last time Casey had seen them, but otherwise none the worse for wear.
“Yo, Yggthor! Good to see you made it.” The Stonewolf sounded genuinely pleased to see the troll. “Greetings, Lad,” he added more formally. “It is good to find you well.”
Yggthor threw BranAdoo a curious look. Stepping down to greet the party, the troll couldn’t take his eyes off the towering stone form. “Who…? What… are you?”
“Still working on that answer” the Stonewolf groused.
Bounding next to the troll Korin stopped at the sight of the others. “Whoa. What the hell happened?! Casey! You okay?”
Casey brightened, happy to see the Mangoose in one easily-recognizable piece. “Still kicking. Glad to see you are too.”
“We almost didn’t make it,” Yggthor explained. “The deck was disintegrating below us. We made it to the doorway just in time. Just as everything blew apart.”
Casey gave Yggthor a more subdued nod, barely able to look at him at all. To her the big blue troll looked like a massive, bountiful supply of power: enough to heal her pounding headache and maybe even restore her drained psionics to their normal strength. A part of her mind that she hadn’t even known existed an hour ago was already trying to think of ways to gain access to his will again.
Yggthor looked at her. “The explosion. That was you, wasn’t it?”
BranAdoo also looked to Casey, stone eyebrow arching toward a horn.
That brought her gaze sharply up to meet Yggthor’s. The explosion, of all things, she wasn’t going to feel guilty about. “Yes,” she replied, hating the unintentionally defensive note in her own voice. “Me and Falco. We blew up the Machine. You had a better plan?”
“Not at all,” Yggthor responded, taken aback by Casey’s sharp tone. “You brought the Machine down just in time. Arcadia was forming above us. Mardmor was nearly successful. You did good.”
Casey sighed, feeling stupid. ** Sorry. Don’t mind me, I’m all tired and cranky. I didn’t mean to snap at you. ** She went to the effort of sending rather than speaking the words, so that Yggthor could feel her genuine remorse.
She could feel Yggthor’s profound appreciation for what she’d done. :: You have no idea what you have done for my people this day. I am in your debt. ::
For a long moment she climbed in silence, struggling with the possibilities in that statement. Then she shook her head. ** You don’t owe me anything, Yggthor. I did it for my people too, and for myself. There’s no debt. ** The thought was sent with deep sincerity; she wanted him to know she meant it. ** But, ** she added with an almost audible undertone of mingled yearning and reluctance, ** There is something … I’d like to ask … if you could help me … **
He nodded. :: Ask. ::
She stopped, tried to get her thoughts into some kind of coherent order. ** Fighting the Machine took a lot out of me, ** she started over. ** I need to recharge, but my psionics are almost completely drained; I don’t have enough strength left to heal myself.
** I might be able to restore my powers if I could tap into another source of strength. And … right now I think you might be the strongest person here.
** I know what happened last time. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to risk it again. Just say no and that’ll be the end of it, I’ll completely understand.
** I would be enormously grateful, though, if you would lend me some of your strength to heal with. **
The troll regarded the young telepath with hard eyes.
“That which is sought,” he extended his hand, saying aloud to her in a soft voice, “is offered.”
” Hmm, what? ” BranAdoo blinked at Yggthor.
Casey’s heart leaped in hope — and fear. She considered asking Falco to monitor the process and break it off if she started to take too much … but no, it was time she started learning some self-discipline of her own. She took Yggthor’s massive hand in her own and dipped once again into that well of resolve.
Again she was struck by the sheer *abundance* of will the big troll possesses. She had to sternly remind herself to only take a small taste … just enough …
… and at once she was fully healed, her body restored to health.
” Huh? ” The Stonewolf looked up again to see the woman restored to vitality.
The relief was overwhelming. Her blinding headache faded away, the stiff soreness melted out of her shoulders, hips and limbs, her mind felt sharp and clear again. She released Yggthor’s hand quickly, before the temptation to take even more strength had a chance to set in. The smile she gave him was pure sunshine. “Thank you, Yggthor. If there’s anything I can ever do for you, just let me know.”
He smiled in return, nodded.
Korin looked around the ruins. “Are we even in the same place?”
Casey turned to the Mangoose. “As far as I know we are. I think this is what’s left of the Machine and the chamber it was in.”
Falco looked above, eyes focusing on something far away. An amused smile tickled across his face. His eyes danced with internal laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Yggthor asked.
“Hmm?” Falco was drawn out of his reverie. “Nothing. Just thinking about an amusing story.”
” Something to share later over a drink, I hope. ” The Stonewolf also looked up, nose questing.
“Come on,” Casey mumbled. “Let’s wrap this up. If I don’t get a shower and some food pretty soon I’m going to start taking hostages myself.”
The dogs proceeded up the stairs once again. Korin shuffled along, nose and eyes working furiously, keeping quiet as he took in the devastation wrought by Casey and Falco.
” I don’t suppose anyone’s found my sword and the General’s Maul? ” BranAdoo asked, looking up the mound toward … something. “Why can’t you just draw it from the Well?” he added a moment later. “That answers the question about Mentoring I think. ” he sighed and then, ” Tell me how to do that, General. ” Pause. “You open up the Well and draw it out,” he respond to himself. “You’ve had no training, then?” Pause. ” No.. I’ve used it desperation to escape the flames Mardmor first cast on me, finding an ocean waiting to extinguish the fire and I think the water healed me. I used it then to return to the fight. ” in a quiet tone as he rolls his neck and reaches a free hand up to rub the tender stone corded muscles, ” Merle indicated using had a price. I’d be honored if you’d share what you know about it. ” Pause. “I’d be happy to share with you the knowledge I have, lad. Perhaps when we’re out of here? And before I wring that black elf’s neck.” Pause. ” Works for me.. Then we can work on getting back to our own bodies, maybe. ”
“Care to explain just how we survived that?” Korin interjected, shaking his head. “All I saw was a flash and now I’m here.”
“Not sure,” Casey said. “Maybe because the blast was more magical and psionic than physical. Although … that didn’t keep it from demolishing everything else, did it? I don’t know.” With a flash of her old humor she gave Korin a crooked grin. “Must be we’re all destined for greater things. Or else we’re just too pretty to die.”
Several minutes passed as the group maneuvered the debris strewn stairway. They were guided out once more to the wreckage. It was a treacherous path: the catwalk teetered, hanging, it seemed, only by good fortune.
Yggthor and StoneWolf hung back, both heftier than it seemed the walkway would support.
The dogs stopped at a hodgepodge of metal plates and debris that had been melded against the wall. Falco placed his hand on it, closed his eyes. “Here,” he announced. He scowled at the barrier. A moment letter a gap peeled away.
Bright lemon-lime light shone from within. This wasn’t Mardmor’s green light of corruption. Rather, it was the springtime light of renewal.
The dogs snuffled and sneezed. The StoneWolf rubbed his nose with the back of one hand.
Pip poked his head out, holding the light source — a green steel lantern. “Howdy!”
Alseyne slipped out of the portal as well, wearing a fresh set of clothes.
“Hey,” Casey smiled in glad if slightly baffled greeting, wondering where the change of clothes came from. “I thought Pip lost his bag of tricks …?”
“Believe me, he hasn’t lost a thing,” Alseyne’s eyes twinkled as she slipped out.
Pip looked about at the wreckage. “I think Mardmor’s gonna lose his security deposit.”
There was a palpable aura of joy surrounding the Sidhe, Casey had never seen her looking this happy before. She moved over and enveloped Casey in a strong hug, picking the younger girl up off the ground and spinning her around exuberantly. “Casey, I don’t know what you did but you did it! Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!”
The strength in the thin arms was surprising. Alseyne didn’t look like she should be able to pick Casey up, much less fling her around in the air like she was.
Casey laughed in surprised pleasure to see the normally reserved Sidhe in such high spirits. “I think getting blown up suits you, Alsyne,” she grinned. “Maybe should try that more often.”
“I think it’s a combination of things, Casey,” Alseyne laughed. “Defeating Mardmor, saving Arcadia from his followers, surviving that blast … and other things as well,” she smiled widely in Pip’s direction. “I feel like I could grow large enough to give the whole world a hug right now!”
Casey’s smile lingered as she looked around the ruins of Mardmor’s mad ambitions. “We really did it, didn’t we? We saved the world. Two worlds.”
“Perhaps more. There is no telling what Mardmor’s device might have done if that gate had stayed open. It could have torn rifts in the Umbra and many other worlds as well.”
Yggthor smiled at the Sidhe noble. “I’ve not seen you this happy in a long time. Not since ….” His expression clouded. He turned, scowling at Pip. “Here?!?” He demanded.
Pip smiled and shugged.
Alseyne looked around. “Yggthor!” she squealed and rushed over to where the big blue troll stood. “When you didn’t come back around the catwalk, Pip and I weren’t sure you made it off the machine!” She hugged his big waist, squeezing him tightly in affection and exuberantly tried to pick him up as well.
Big Blue crushed her to him. “I was worried about the two of you as well.”
Casey sobered, thinking of the people and dogs buried in the wreckage. Was Percyndi’s lifeless body down there somewhere? And Elijah, and Wynne and the rest?
“Hail the victorious dead,” she murmured quietly. “May they never be forgotten.”