A Bride for Merlin
Session V, (unknown) 1999, part 1
When we last left out heroes, Flark and Shandor were using Logrus tendrils to try to pierce the shadow barrier. The tendril has breached the shield, Shandor attempting to drain the shield, and Flark attempting to insert primal chaos inside the shield, as a distraction. (Though if it did happen to blow everything up, that would be a good distraction.)
Shandor, Flark, Seonaid, Fendrith, and Tela are present. Seonaid has a loaned trump of the courtyard of the Ways of Minobee.
Flark suggests asking Anakara about the details of what they have discovered. "This will be just the kind of thing she's interested in, and she's also the most likely person capable of blowing it up." (Anakara is an associate professor at the Royal Academy of Science.)
When Fendrith concurs, Flark asks who would go to see her? Fendrith suggests that he and Seonaid go, and that the four agree to meet again someplace later since Flark and Shandor are here under the pretense of a hunt.
Flark says that he will meet them at a particular landmark in the Black Zone kingdom/Shadow, Axsum. "It is at least forest and so will give some credence to the idea that we're hunting in shadow."
Shandor wonders how the mage's shield would withstand being attacked on more than one front, instead of both Flark and he focusing on one area.
As Flark and Shandor wander off into shadow, Tela says, "Never leave behind a functional weapon," and hands them the firing pin from the machine gun. Seonaid and Fendrith both take the trump back to the Ways of Minobee.
Flark and Shandor tendril their way to Axsum, working their way through hunting-suitable shadows. On they way they kill a couple reasonably threatening trophy Deer, with poison antlers. Shandor takes out a few dangerous lizards with hundreds of shark-like teeth, as a trophy. Flark is a damn good hunter, and prepares them for supper. In Shandor's estimation, Flark's meal compares favorably with one of Mandor's, all things considered. They dine in a rustic, somewhat civilized hunting cabin.
The next day they head for Axsum. Axsum is a hunting shadow, a few cities, and some rural areas. Mostly forests badlands, gorges, and coastal areas, etc. Magic works in Axsum. Flark stops a shadow or so away and checks their meeting place out, and then proceed into the meeting place.
On the way in they are hailed by a messenger.
"Greetings, m'lord. The Baron wishes you to contact him on a matter of some urgency, as soon as convenient, my Lord," the messenger reports.
"Did he specify a means?"
"By whatever means convenient."
"I can dispatch a messenger immediately."
"That won't be necessary."
"Thank you, m'lord, a pleasure to serve you." The messenger departs.
Flark brings up the Logrus, and seeks his Uncle, the Baron.
"Flark," his Uncle greets.
"Uncle," Flark replies.
"Pull me through," his Uncle requests, and Flark complies.
"Your step-mother has disappeared," his uncle says, to the point.
"What's the bad news," Flark asks.
His uncle chuckles, "The bad news is we know where she is, Fortress Gantu, in Daraways."
(Note: hard to pick through the details but wherever this is, there is some connection to Dara (!?) and Dara's possible support of Flark's step-mother.)
"This does not bode well," Flark considers.
"Yes and no," his uncle explains, "She is no longer in Jesby at this time."
"What do you suggest, Uncle."
"I don't know yet... well, the problem is she still is technically the dowager duchess. She is still technically in control of the regency, and she can still exercise this authority while visiting her cousin.
"She was attacked, we suspect by assassins, and this is why she has fled," his uncle diverges.
"We suspect there were three of them, because this is how many skulls she left upon your desk."
Flark asks, "Anyone we know?"
"No, I was unable to identify the remains."
"I see… Do you expect there to be continuing attempts?"
"It is possible, but that depends on who is responsible for the attack. You realize of course she will assume you sponsored the attack. And being in a place of safety she may feel free to respond."
"If she can find me Uncle."
"True, if she can find you. This frees you up as far as movements within the house, but gives me some pause for concern."
Flark changes the topic, "How are relations between Mandor and Dara?"
"How would two puppeteers feel when they are sharing the same puppet?" his uncle comments.
"Well... This is interesting news, there is no mistake. Where are my brothers?"
"W'Zaal has moved back home to Axsum, Lorek and Feng are pretty much loose in Jesby. However Feng has been seen hanging around the Ways of Sawall, on occasion. Lorek..."
Shandor asks, "Do you want me to check up on them?"
(OOC: Pizza arrives)
Meanwhile, back in the Ways of Minobee, Seonaid's aunt, Lady Ellionis is expecting her. Seonaid and Fendrith join her for tea.
Fendrith slurps his tea, and a well-mannered troll gives him a withering glance. Ellionis asks about her recent expedition.
"A bit of a failure," Seonaid admits.
"Failure?" Ellionis asks.
"More of a reconnaissance," Fendrith contributes.
"He has erected some sort of barrier." Seonaid explains, "Even with the Logrus at Fendrith and Shandor's disposal, they were unable to pierce his fortifications."
"Not at all?"
"We weren't part of the fight, so I can't give you much detail."
Fendrith adds, "As I understand it, they were able to temporarily mar the finish on the fortification."
"They have arranged to meet us later, in Axsum, after they investigate further."
"So, what are your plans now?" Ellionis asks.
Fendrith explains, "As you know my species is magical in nature. I suspect that this wizard has used the blood of my siblings to create a magical construct."
"Logical," Ellionis inserts.
"So the next question is how can we counteract this?"
Seoniad adds, "Or use it to our advantage. The presence of Fendrith here, that is, or the knowledge of what this man has done."
"Your mother might be of help."
"I was thinking of my sisters..."
"Whomever you're comfortable with, my child, but your mother is the expert."
"Well, if it was out of their league, I figured they'd bump it up to her... I didn't want to bother her with it from the start."
"That's very thoughtful of you, child."
Fendrith inserts, "Madam, if I may? I would like to avoid becoming a scientific specimen."
"To be expected…"
Fendrith adds, "I do understand that I bear certain responsibility in recent events..."
"...So, I'm willing to do whatever I can, within certain limitations."
"I would also appreciate it if you do not repeat my full confession."
"The observations I heard Lord Mandor make were privy information."
"True, but I have not told anyone of this beyond this room."
"...So, with that in mind..."
"You'll have to tell the twins or Anakara, but I'm certain that they would respect your confidence. Anakara is just that way, and she raised all her children that way."
"Would she be inclined to publish her studies."
"If this were a case study that would become worthy of publication, she would still preserve the privacy of those individuals who have sacrificed a little bit of dignity in the cause of science."
Seonaid considers that any knowledge dangerous to the realm might not be published, and that this might be such a matter, considering the damage that has occurred. Ellionis concurs that this is a possibility.
Ellionis suggests that Seonaid and Flark just visit Anakara's office. Anakara and Seonaid's sisters all spend time there, and Seonaid could ask of whomever is there at the time.
Fendrith says, "I would like to talk to your mother about this, she seems the most accomplished."
And so it was decided, and so tea was consumed.
When Seonaid arrives at her mother's office, she finds Anakara and two silver pelted cats.
Fendrith walks over and scratches one of the cats behind the ears.
"You are very polite for a bodyguard."
"Well," Seonaid begins, "That's part of why we're here. He's not just my bodyguard, he's also a friend of mine."
"Is something wrong dear?"
"Well, there is a bit of a mystery, and we need your help."
"I've just finished grading exams..."
"Then you have some time?
"Then this will definitely suck it up..."
"Oh, how was your last concert?"
"It was delightful, thank you. Have you been keeping up with the news?"
"No, we've been totally wrapped up with the graduating students..."
Seonaid borrows Anakara's terminal for a moment and replays the relevant news for her. "Blood and demons!" Anakara exclaims upon viewing, and the two cats arch their backs and hiss.
Fendrith begins to explain, "This wizard has accomplished this with some sort of device that amplifies power using a dragon's blood." The cats' ears perk up. He looks at them quizzically, and they stare back at him with an appraising look.
The cats ask, in unison, "What mess have you dragged our baby sister into?"
"I, uh... I must confess that I'm... well embarrassed isn't a strong enough word... um, deeply regretful that I have brought this on anybody…"
Anakara interrupts and suggests, "Let's start at the beginning, why is this wizard after you?"
Fendrith asks Anakara to check for listening devices, and while she is surprised at the request, she does so, finding nothing. Once satisfied, he begins, "He drained my nest-mates blood to create this construct of his."
Anakara is aghast, "Great Serpent, have mercy..." All three of Seonaid's family members get a far away look in their eyes. One of the cats starts writing calculations on the chalkboard, and the other cat begins making corrections as Anakara nods, reviewing the theories.
Anakara notes, "There couldn't be just one shadow, there'd have to be more, otherwise there's no need for more than one dragon. We're looking at an array of shadows, each being tapped, and the power... that's too much power to handle raw, it would have to be funneled through a physical focus."
"He was holding something, we never got a good look at it..." Fendrith recalls. "I initially thought this wizard was after my blood to complete his construct, but this doesn't seem essential..."
"Wait, at that level... how long has be been chasing you?"
"About 500 years..."
"Well, it... would evolve... does he have conflicting personality traits... behaving one way one time and another at another time?
"Well, if you consider at one point wanting to drain the rest of my blood and the next trying to drop planets on me..."
Seonaid adds, "He can't seem to make up his mind if he wants Fendrith's blood, or his death."
"Thank you, I couldn't have put it more succinctly," Fendrith says.
Anakara sumizes, "Actually it's probably more a case of which mind is taking over at which time. It sounds to me like he is no longer in charge of the construct as much as the construct is in control of him."
Seonaid theorizes, "So does the construct want more blood in order to evolve further, and the mage himself may actually realize it has gone too far and seek to kill Fendrith to prevent the construct from gaining more power."
"Did you hurt him when you fought against him?" Anakara asks.
"Oh yes, many times." Fendrith says.
"I was so !@#$ close," Seonaid mutters.
"Our first meeting was rather unfriendly," Fendrith relates, "He had just finished draining the blood of my nest-mates... and I burned him."
Seonaid asks, "Have you hurt him since?"
"Yes." Fendrith states.
Seonaid looks impressed.
Fendrith continues, "He's come after me at odd intervals. Every 50 or 100 years or so he makes another attempt. Often enough that I know he still cares, but long enough that I could almost forget about it. Sometimes I chase him away, some times he chases me."
Seonaid adds, "In any case, Fendrith has offered to cooperate with us in finding either a disadvantage we can exploit, or to come up with something of our own to combat it."
"We have to find the focus," Anakara insists. "If we can isolate the focus... was it a ring?"
"It was concentrated around his hand, but I didn't get a good look at it," Seonaid says. The cats have covered the chalkboard with notes, going over various details again and again.
"Lady Anakara, one more thing if I may," Fendrith inserts, "I'm not comfortable with the prospect of becoming a scientific subject."
Anakara says, "You're an intelligent being, not a lab rat. We will need to perform certain studies but we will discuss them with you. You have a will, and your own destiny."
"I also have a certain educational stake in the matter, I wish to learn what I am capable of."
"I'm sure we can work something out."
"Thank you. Seonaid had assured me that this would be the case, I just wanted a personal understanding between us."
"Not a problem. Where are you staying?"
Seonaid says, "With my aunt."
"She's really a lovely woman and all, but sometimes she can be a bit overpowering. n any case, I assume she has insisted on this for your mutual protection?"
"Well, that and the protection of the general populace."
"I think she's more concerned with her grand-niece than the general populace."
Fendrith says that he is comfortable under Seonaid's aunt's protection, and Anakara offers to make arrangements. A couple days worth of experiments begin to be planned out.
While Fendrith begins his studies with Anakara, Seonaid checks up on a certain hired duelist.
"Sorry, ma'am," her lacky begins, "he's gone rather covert, ma'am. We've been unable to determine his whereabouts."
Seonaid begins considering how to track him. She decides to start at the private clinic where he was treated following the duel. Upon arriving, she sees an orderly with one of her concert buttons. Seonaid is slowly recognized, and when the recognition clicks, the orderly begins to raise a scene. Seonaid, trying to avoid a stampede, quiets her with a mind touch, and escorts her quietly down the hall. Seonaid takes a clipboard and pen from the lady, and signs an autograph for the girl, keeping the clipboard.
Eventually a head nurse takes notice of her wandering about, and asks if she can help Seonaid. She asks about the duelist, and is told that he checked out a month ago. It seems the clinic is in a fast time shadow. Seonaid asks about a contact address, and is told they can forward it. Seonaid 'secretly' swipes the information off of her display, by means unspecified.
It is learned that the forwarding address is Lorek Jesby, in care of the Realm of Axsum. Seonaid excuses herself quickly.
Seonaid, now with Fendrith and preparing to meet Flark and Shandor, relays what she found out about the duelist. "It seems he's left the clinic. His forwarding address is that of Lorek Jesby in the Realm of Axsum. We're about to walk right into this realm." Seonaid and Fendrith collect fully loaded spell racks. Seeking to retrieve the house trump, she contacts her aunt.
"Very well, dear." Her aunt proffers the trump to Seonaid.
"So, what did you find out dear?"
"Well, we found out who set up Flark with that duel."
"Oh, who was it?"
"His brother, Lorek."
"Hmm. That would be fitting."
"Well, the problem right now is that Flark is supposed to meet us, in a shadow we know Lorek was in recently..."
"What, where?" Ellionis suddenly sounds concerned.
"Axsum. We were about to go on our way, loaded for bear."
"You are staying right here young lady, I will be right back. Do not move. Fendrith, will you stay here with my grandniece?"
"Indeed," says Fendrith.
"I will be right back."
Seonaid is left muttering, "What...? What...?" and watching her aunt depart the room.
"I need to pay a visit to a friend, I want you to stay here, safe, until I return," her aunt clarifies as she departs.
"But we were supposed to… he'll be expecting us..."
"I must insist dear. You are far safer here than not."
As her aunt leaves, Seonaid looks hurt, but to no avail. Fendrith just looks perplexed.
"Does she do this very often," Fendrith asks.
"Not very often, but often enough..."
Fendrith burns a contact spell to contact Flark.
Flark realizes that someone is trying to contact him. "Shandor, someone is trying to contact me," he says. Flark accepts the contact.
"Flark, come home. Now." It is his uncle.
"Uh, Shandor? Hand?" They both come through to the main courtyard of the Ways of Jesby, to the sight of his uncle, a couple hundred guards, and an old lady, Lady Ellionis of House Minobee.
Shandor sheaths his sword. A guard nods, and asks, "How are you doing, m'lord?"
"Is there a problem, Uncle," Flark asks.
"It is a possible trap."
Flark's uncle turns to Lady Ellionis. "Thank you, my lady."
"You are quite welcome," she responds.
Another call comes to Flark. "Uncle, do you have your blade handy?"
Instead of answering Flark's question, Laan snaps his fingers, and Flark's incoming call is severed.
Fendrith's attempt to contact Flark is severed. Something bounced it away. Ellionis returns.
"Your friend is fine," she says, "we got to him just in time."
Seonaid looks crushed at her aunt bailing her out of something that she felt she should take care of.
Flark asks, "Uncle, what exactly is going on?"
"We think there is an ambush underway."
"That's very interesting. The question that comes to my mind," Flark muses, "is why?"
Flark's uncle mentions, "I've asked some volunteers to fill in for you, for the next couple of minutes."
A couple of vacant animated trolls that look like Flark and Shandor are ushered through a Logrus tendril. A cursory examination reveals a nice, evil little surprise inside them. A 12 kiloton nuclear device.
"I don't suppose you can elaborate?" Flark asks.
"A friend of ours discovered your recent antagonist had his mail forwarded. To the care of your brother, Lorek."
"I'm going to send the doubles in. If they don't detonate... I mean, if nothing happens, then we'll know it was a false alarm. If they do detonate..."
"...we may be less two problems," Flark finishes.
"If we are fortunate," his uncle admits.
"I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds?"
"Oh, not at all, Uncle. I would be interested in procuring volunteers, however."
"When one has the proper alchemical set..."
(GM: Note that I've stated previously that many trolls are created... --FWC)
"I don't suppose there would be any way to watch?"
"No, not safely."
"A pity." Flark sounds disappointed. "Well, we can at least have some popcorn while we wait."
Ellionis arrives with Fendrith and Seonaid in tow.
Flark asks of Fendrith's success with Anakara, and Fendrith has nothing to report yet. Fendrith mentions his failed contact, which explains a little. Flark's uncle apologizes for the emergency measures.
In the distance, the sound of the detonation of the 12-kiloton volunteers is heard. Shandor observes, remotely, that all that remains there is a crater.
"Well, I suppose we'll just have to wait to see how things fall out," Flark jokes.
Flark's uncle groans.
"So, how was your hunting expedition, nephew?"
"Very interesting. We managed to find a multi-shadow magical construct."
"What did you do with it."
"Well, after we dropped primal chaos on it for about an hour, I decided this was more of my sister's realm."