CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………..…Human Psionic

Jera Morrison…………..….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling

Kendall Nye………….……Joseph McAdoo………………………..Ronin Garou
Aaron Murphy……………..Claws-of-Honor………………….Were-Tiger
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were-Mongoose

Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master

*********************************************

Alseyne looked up from mentally calculating the resources in her purse. “Well, if we need silver we’ve got about 100 bullets available. 9 millimeters.” Her sword slid out of its sheath with a glissando of steel; she casually held it in her usual point-downward stance as she waited for the others to ready themselves. “So are we going to do this as a straightforward ‘storming the castle’ raid or are we going to try diplomacy first?”

Pip and Yggthor looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

“She’s funny!” Yggthor observed to the satyr.

“Isn’t she?”

“I almost peed myself!”

“I know!”

“Diplomacy!”

More laughter.

“That’s me — I live to be the life of the party,” Alseyne said dryly. “Besides, I never said what TYPE of diplomacy. Intimidation can work quite well. But if you boys are in a bloodthirsty mood, by all means let’s shout ‘Charge!’ and storm the gates….err…door.”

“The baboon’s a sly one,” Yggthor said. “Diplomacy provides only time for him to work his lies and mischief. A follower of Loki that one.”

“Green spandex Loki brother of Thor from the comic books?” Pip asks, “Or blood brother of Odin Loki from the Eddas?”

Yggthor glared sharply. “The *real* Loki!”

“I return to my original question,” Pip mumbled.

“Don’t start,” Yggthor growled.

“Okay, okay… We’ll save the media-i-zation of your religion for another day.”

Alseyne laid a hand on Yggthor’s large forearm soothingly and leaned toward him to whisper, “Mention colorization of classic films in front of him later. He still thinks Ted Turner is in league with the devil.”

“Thanks for the tip,” the Troll grinned.

“Shall we get it in gear?” Branadoo pressed. “They’ve probably put up defenses and traps by now.” He raised his stone muzzle to take a long draught of air, tasting the scents. “Korin, you’re the safety. The monkey is fast and may try something sneaky. I anticipate a trap. Lady Alysene, will you, Lord Norfolk, Miss Casey and Wynne be the second advance?”

Korin nodded reluctantly. “I’m not really all about waiting, but you’re in charge here. If the little monkey gets past you guys I’ll wait here and try to run him down.” As he spoke his form shifted, became less human. “Here’s hoping my transformation looks better than yours, old boy,” he winked.

The Stonewolf cocked his head. “Perhaps there will be action up close for you yet. Follow up after a beat.”

Pip’s brow furrowed slightly. Casey sensed what was bothering him: usually he was the general on the field. Despite the fact that Mac invited them along, he looked to be having some trouble with it.

But he managed to push it down. “Certainly,” the satyr nodded.

“Claws, Yggthor and I will be the front line,” Branadoo continued as he scratched a simple map in the dirt with a stone talon. “Here’s the rough layout. If they’re aware we’re coming, they’ve had time to prepare surprises. I left glyphs of distraction and warding here, here and here.. and here.” He straightened up. “Suggestions, questions anyone? “

“Try to keep up,” Claws said with a bit too much enthusiasm.

“What about the people in the woods?” Casey asked. “Think we should make contact with them before we go in?”

Yggthor nodded toward the Stonewolf’s sketch of the house. “It’s three stories and rather run down. Rotted wood, busted windows.”

“Then we’ll all want to watch out for putting a foot through something and trapping ourselves or potentially falling.” Alseyne looked at the heavy Stonewolf. “You’ll want to be especially careful.”

“Noted,” BranAdoo acknowledged. “Watch out if the floor starts to creak around me. “

“Actually, what I was getting at was that you front-line heavy-weights are going to want to spread out anyway. It might be wiser to consider redistributing the weight around.” Alseyne glanced at Casey. “Casey, when you noted the girl could you tell approximately where she was located in the building? If we can narrow down her location perhaps we could combine a frontal assault distraction with a primary team making the extraction.”

The Stonewolf smiled, “Indeed.”

“I know where she is in relation to us. I can be more specific when we get closer to the house. And just confirming,” Casey added persistently, “That’s a no on making contact with the people in the woods before we go in? I don’t want to get sidetracked with them if you’re ready to hit the house right now.”

“I think not.” BranAdoo frowned, the expression doing something comical to his stone muzzle. “If we had more time to plan the assault contact with all allies would be wondrous. However, that luxury is not permitted us.”

Casey reminded herself that McAdoo was a seasoned veteran and she herself was only a young bartender, and simply nodded.

Alseyne frowned. “Guarding the general’s body aside, how do we know that they ARE allies? They could easily pose a threat to us as well. We need to keep in mind that they have hidden motives of their own…and if Ovid was to be believed they are children being inhabited by spirits infinitely older than us.” She looked speculatively at Casey, “It would be interesting to know what sort of ‘read’ you get off of them and if you can get any sense of their purpose in being here.”

“I didn’t sense any malevolent intent from them. I only brushed their minds in passing though, so I can’t tell more than that without a deeper look.”

Alseyne glanced around at the males. “We were told they were here when Mac and Yggthor left here the first time, but I don’t believe anyone mentioned why they were watching the house or if anyone knew.”

“I warned them of the house, Lady,” the Stonewolf responded. “If opportunity presents maybe their leader, Ulek, will aid us.” He looked toward the house. “Whoever’s in the house is probably aware of us by now, as are the Warriors. Do we need further delay, time to plan or giving the monkey more time to play or kill his new toy?”

“You’re assuming that you know who the people in the woods are, and what they’re doing here.” Casey pointed out. “You’re assuming that they know who we are, and what we’re doing here, and that they approve. If all those assumptions are correct, I still think we should take a moment to exchange notes with them. And if any of those assumptions are wrong, we should find out now before we find ourselves battling on two different fronts. At least one or two of us should stay and talk to them long enough to find out what’s what, even if you feel that the rest should go in right now for the girl. They may know something we don’t about what we’re up against. This I know for sure: there’s something really evil in there. And I’m not talking about forgetting-to-rewind evil. BIG evil. I just think charging in blind is a needless risk if there might be a valid source of information right here within consulting range.”

“A valid point,” BranAdoo conceded. “I’m at least acquainted with Ulek’s men and they may,” he gestured at his stone body, “recognize the General’s form. “Modification…” he looked at the rest of the companions. “Casey and I stay to recruit further allies, if that’s what they are. The rest of you kick it in gear?”

Pip remained silent. He looked to the trees, then back at the Stonewolf, and finally to Alseyne and Yggthor. “I don’t like this.” He sighed, “A lot.” Looking to Casey, “Something that big and bad as Lady Brainiac describes just sitting here? Waiting for us? Even though it knows we’re here? Add into that this Phil character who’s responsible for Lobban’s death? Huh-uh. This stinks of a trap.”

“We talk to the folks in the trees?” Yggthor asked.

“Before we do a damned thing,” Pip nodded.

Alseyne agreed. “At the very least those…beings have been watching the house longer than we have — we definitely don’t want to just ignore the fact that they are there.”

BranAdoo smiled. “It is good to have wise companions.” He looked to Casey. “Where is the closest group of those who watch?”

She pointed into the trees several paces forward. “Right there.” Closing her eyes, she reached out to the nearest of the minds in the woods. **Hello. We’ve come to battle the evil in the house and rescue a captured girl. Is there someone named Ulek among you?**

“I am Ulek,” a voice answered, stepping from the trees. The voice came from a young boy, no older than twelve years. Probably younger. He wore a boys’ street clothes: jeans, t-shirt, sneakers. He also wore a black cape with yellow lining. Over his head, he wore a red ball with eye slits and a cut-out for his mouth. A sword swung from his belt.

Despite his rather ridiculous attire, he radiated confidence, a natural commander. He looked over the Stonewolf. “What has become of the sleeper?”

“The General and I, through accident and magic find ourselves sharing this form. A consequence of fighting a foe named Mardmor, we have yet to find solution that will return us to norm.”

“An ill omen, I should think.” Ulek looked them over. “You plan to storm the dwelling beyond?”

Pip nodded. “That we do.”

“A necromancer dwells there.”

Yggthor’s lip curled back in a silent snarl.

BranAdoo hefted the claymore grimly.

Casey felt her confidence foundering at the mention of that ominous word, and instinctively reached out across the miles for Falco’s mind.  ** There’s a necromancer there, in the house where the baboon and the girl are.  That’s a kind of sorcerer, right? **

Her mentor responded at once. :: Yes… Death magics.  Dark practices.  Bad sorts. ::

** I’ve never taken on one of those before, how do I fight him? **

:: Show no weakness.  Keep your wits and make sure he stays out of your head.  You’re going to have to be smarter than he is. I’d caution you about the horrors you are about to face, but I don’t think I need to. You bore up under Mardmor in admirable fashion.  You’ll manage this just fine. ::

She supposed he’d meant that to be reassuring, but it had rather the opposite effect.  Shoring up her eroding bravado, she frowned.  ** Mardmor was a sorcerer too?  Man, that guy dabbled in everything, didn’t he?  So can anyone be a sorcerer, if they study the arts? **

:: I’m sure Mardmor would have characterized himself in a different fashion, but he was a practitioner of the Art.  That’s what I call a sorcerer.  As far as who can be one?  I understand that one has to have a certain talent. ::

[EDIT: I’m pretty sure there was more to this conversation, but those emails were lost with the others from the previous chapter. Sorry about that.]

** ** **

“That’s never good,” Pip sighed. He looks back to the Sidhe, “Apologies, dear. We needed ya’ll along on this after all.”

Alseyne smiled. “Deduct it from the hundred or so times you’ve kept me from making a mistake.” She sobered. “I must admit to misliking this information greatly. Necromancers are pretty rare. Mardmor was a necromancer – is it possible he survived after all? Or could it be an ally or associate of his – perhaps an apprentice?”

“It does seem like an abundance of these guys, don’t it?” Pip considered. “I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised to find remnants of his organization struggling to assert themselves.”

“Except we came looking for him,” Yggthor offered.

“But the Baboon fetched a girl,” Pip returned. “Collecting a girl…”

“Sacrifice?” Yggthor asked.

“Sometimes you gotta get some blood in there for a special kick to your spell,” Pip grumbled. “Freakin’ necromancers.”