CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………..…Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………..….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling
Kendall Nye………….……Joseph McAdoo………………………..Ronin Garou
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were Mongoose
Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
The ghoul growled, madness finally gripping him.
Falco regarded the creature with hard eyes. :: SLEEP! ::
Casey felt the ripple of the command, as Yaqub dropped to the floor. ** Handy, ** she smiled. ** Think he’ll be okay here while we go find Houseman’s stuff? **
:: As long as we’re not gone long. ::
** Let’s get it done, then. Don’t know about you, but the charm’s pretty much worn off this place for me. **
Before long, the two found themselves in a large chamber originally sealed from visitors by two vault-like doors, easily cracked by Falco. In the room were row after row of lateral cabinets.
:: We won’t be able to take it all. Just an armful for each of us. :: He gestured for her to go right.
She nodded, turning to the nearest cabinet and looking into the first drawer. Files, all coded with a series of ten digits, a decimal point, and two additional digits. Casey reached for the first file, then paused and examined the codes themselves. The first ten digits were in numerical order; the numbers after the decimal were not. A classification system, like Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress.
:: It’s all interesting. It’s all valuable. Some is likely powerful. Keep your eyes open. And let me know if you find anything referencing something called Xard. ::
** What’s Xard? ** She didn’t take anything out yet, just went through each item in the cabinets, looking for things of particular interest or power and for any references to Xard.
:: I am not altogether certain. When I first heard of it many centuries ago, I understood it as a metaphor. Now? Now, I suspect that it was a real place pre-dating our civilization by hundreds of thousands of years. And for reasons I have yet to divine, this Xard is influencing our world today. ::
Casey’s eyebrow lifted as she glanced though the files. ** A metaphor for what? **
:: Lost knowledge. Like Atlantis. ::
She moved swiftly through the cabinet, finding nothing of particular note. ** How is our world being influenced…I mean, in what way? **
:: Artifacts have been turning up. Items from this lost world. And knowledge. Texts. Power. ::
Frowning, she paused in her rummaging to look over her shoulder at Falco. ** Like there’s a line blurring somewhere? A portal that shouldn’t be open? **
:: Exactly. ::
** Is it a local thing? Where are the artifacts turning up? **
:: They’ve appeared all over the world. ::
Casey came to a large folder containing more than a hundred pages of glyphs of an almost asian design. She pulled a page out and held it up for him to see. ** Do these glyphs mean anything to you? **
He nodded. :: Looks like one of the vampire languages. I can’t read it, but have know people who can. ::
** Probably wouldn’t hurt to have it checked out. **
:: Agreed… aha. :: Falco drew out a delicate, leather bound book enclosed in mylar. Outside was a disk.
:: This is what I am looking for. Ready to go? ::
** Yep. ** She slipped the page she was holding back in with its brethren, then pulled out the entire file. ** We bringing this too? **
He nodded. :: Probably best. ::
She tucked it under her arm, nodding toward the book in his hand. ** What is that? **
:: A Xardean history book according to the disk’s label. ::
** Jackpot! **
Before too long and with only a few minor complications (lasers, flying buzz saws, and an electrified walkway), they were back at the car with her new pet ghoul stowed in the trunk. Falco handed her his cell phone as he steered out onto the street. :: I believe you wanted to call Alseyne? ::
Casey brightened. ** Thanks. I was going to borrow a phone from Pana, but she was still asleep when we left. ** She glanced through the cell’s phone book and punched in the Sidhe’s number. “Hello? Alseyne?”
Alseyne sounded breathless with relief. “Casey! Thank Arcadia! We weren’t sure if you’d survived that second blast! Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. It was pretty close, but we both made it out. How about you guys, did everyone get out of there in one piece? How’s Percyndi?”
“Yes, we all made it out. And she seems to be doing all right so far. Oh — and Claws showed up awhile ago! Said he’d been with Selene but hadn’t died so I guess the mage was lying.”
“Claws!” Surprise and gladness brightened Casey’s voice. “That’s good to hear! Any word from Andali or Marlboro?”
“No, not yet. I’m still hoping those two made it out. They haven’t been seen since just after the first blast so they should have had plenty of time to clear out if they survived. Unlike you and Falco who were still practically at ground zero.”
“Tell me about it. My ears are still ringing!”
“I think I still have a few scorch marks myself. That last blast nearly fried Pip and me.”
“Glad it didn’t. I know I’d probably be a black smudge on Sanctuary’s ceiling if Falco wasn’t such a speedy flier.”
“Listen — we’re about to head out to supper at Threadgill’s. You and Falco want to join us there?”
“Hold on, I’ll ask him.” Casey turned to Falco. ** Alseyne and the others are about to go have supper at Threadgills, she wants to know if we can come. How urgent is the business with Yaqub? **
:: Why don’t I drop you off? I can get Yaqub settled in. You and I can talk after your dinner. ::
“Casey.” Alseyne’s voice sounded suddenly hesitant. “Do you think you could contact MacAdoo and let him know you are really you? Are you familiar enough with him to be able to do that? If not, try Pip – I know you can recognize him.”
** Or you. ** Casey’s voice, in Alseyne’s head now instead of her ear, sounded faintly amused and unmistakably familiar. ** Falco can’t come to dinner, he’s got some business to wrap up. He’s going to drop me off with you guys though, I should be there in a few minutes. **
Alseyne chuckled and said into the phone, “All right — that works. Have him drop you at the hotel. The Pendleton. Ask them to ring Pip Norfolk’s suite when you get here. We’re not quite ready to go so we’re all meeting back here in about half an hour.”
“Okay. See you in a bit.”
Casey arrived at the Pendleton neatly dressed in jeans, boots, a slim tee-shirt and her lightweight tan jacket, but there was a slightly tousled look about her and a faint smudge of dust on one sleeve.
“Casey,” Pip greeted her with a broad smile at the door. He kissed her on the cheek by way of saying hello. An affectionate squeeze to her arm, “So good to see you. Come in.”
She blushed helplessly in the satyr’s too-stimulating aura, but her smile was warm and genuine. “It’s good to see you too. I’m glad it’s under nicer circumstances this time.”
“Agreed,” Pip winked. “But I must say — I miss you in leather.”
“I don’t,” Casey laughed, the blush deepening. “Give me good old jeans any day.”
Pip gestured to those gathered, “You know McAdoo and Korin, of course, but I don’t think you’ve met Katherine, Yggthor’s wife.”
The indicated woman rose, crossing to greet Casey. She had long red hair, falling past her shoulders and to the middle of her back in tiny ringlets. Despite the terrific hair, Katherine was a plain featured woman, but a bright smile and sparkling blue eyes illuminated her face. She was fully human, not kithain — or any of the other supernatural sorts with which Casey was familiar. She bore no otherworldly power or might. She wore a cream linen chemise and a sienna colored dress. It was conservative attire, fully covering her bosom. The hem was ankle length. “Casey,” she extended her hand in greeting with a warm smile, “The boys have been telling me how you saved the day.”
Casey took the offered hand with a friendly squeeze. “They’re kind to say so, but it was a team effort. Your husband is quite the impressive warrior when he gets good and riled, isn’t he?”
“Who? Yggy?” She laughed. “Pooh-bear wouldn’t ever get mad.”
Pip stifled a chuckle.
“Apparently psychotic goblins trying to take over the world bring out his testy side,” Casey shrugged, smiling. “You can just never tell what’s going to set someone off, I guess.”
Katherine returns the smile. “The Duke provides for a nice Employee Assistance Program. I’ll make sure Yggy works on his rage. I mean, if you’re going to get all upset about goblins bent on world domination, you’ll get upset about anything. Right?”
“Well,” Casey conceded, “these were remarkably provoking goblins. I may actually have raised my own voice at one point.”
Wynne and Percyndi emerged from a door, both freshly dressed. Alseyne stepped out from another door, wearing slim-legged designer jeans that hugged her slender shape well, a western-cut red shirt made out of silk tucked into the jeans and a pair of western style black boots. Her hair was caught up in a single braid and she carried her purse in her hand. Pip brightened noticeably at the sight of her. From a third door, Yggthor and Claws entered.
Casey greeted each of them as they appearred, beaming as the not-so-dead Bastet came in.
The huge Bastet smiled back, a surprisingly gentle and contented look for such a big man. He had a new scar down the side of his face, giving him a battle-hardened look. He was wearing a pair of jeans, boots, and a black collared shirt untucked.
“I see the reports of your demise have been greatly exaggerated,” she grinned at him.
“They were closer to true than you would imagine. However, here I am. I hear that you came fairly close to meeting Gaia yourself. I’m glad that all of you made it out alive.”
She scrutinized him closely as he spoke, her head tilted to one side. “Claws…have you…gotten bigger since last night?”
He looked down at his own form, as if scrutinizing himself for the first time. With a shrug, he looked back at her. “I really don’t know. It seems almost like I have. Things are… hazy, since the battle.”
She nodded sympathetically. “It was a pretty disorienting place. Like something out of Lewis Carroll, only eviller.”
“The realm was a mess, but it’s actually sometime after that where it seems to go blank.”
She hesitated, then added, “I don’t suppose you know anything about what happened to Andali and Marlboro?”
“No, the last I saw of them was back before we were all separated.”
“They’re the only ones still unaccounted for,” she sighed. “I don’t think they survived the blast.”
“Casey,” Yggthor smiled. “Welcome.”
“Thanks. It’s nice to see everyone again. And no looming apocalypse tonight!”
“Yeah,” Pip confirmed, “I checked the schedule. There is no apocalypse on the books for this evening.”
“We can hope.” McAdoo wuffed into the back of a fist and limps to find a chair. “What of the Mardmor’s ally?”
“You mean the magic-user?” Pip shook his head. “I’ve got our people looking into it. So far nothing. Hell, we don’t even know his name.”
“We should probably try the local guild house,” Yggthor suggested.
“Sure,” Pip sighed. “But I hate those guys. Sorcerers.”
Claws’ fur stood on end. “Sorcerers are local? When are we going!?”