A Bride for Merlin
Session VI, 12 November 1999, part 1
Flark is not alone in his bedroom. He wakes up to a familiar voice saying, "Lord Flark, we need to talk." It is his old buddy Jarek, the Assassin. Flark rises, and Jarek turns on a small light.
"There is another agency, or group, that is spying on Princess Dara. They are very well trained and very extensive in numbers. I have not yet been able to determine who patrons them, which may explain why Princess Dara has not been making very many public experiences in the last few turnings. I thought you would find this interesting. I apologize for disturbing your slumber. I shall see myself out."
As he moves to go, he glances to a curtained alcove. "Oh, by the way, tell Tela I said hello."
And from behind the curtain steps Flarkís bodyguard, casually carrying a loaded, cocked crossbow. She says, "Go back to sleep, sir."
Seonaid wakes up in a strange bed, in a strange room, and is not alone. There is a very familiar shaggy canine on her bed. "Hi big sister," the dog says.
"How are you doing?"
"Iím alright, how are you?"
"Good. What can I do for you?"
"Do you know what happened to those spells I put here?"
"Yeah, I squished them."
"Cool, can you show me how you did it?"
"No," Seonaid replies.
"Because Mother is in charge of your training, I will not overstep her authority on that."
"What else can I do for you."
"Oh, I was just kinda bored, and thought Iíd drop in and see what you were doing."
"Well cool," Seonaid exclaims. "How many of those did you have around?"
"Oh, I just put them in here."
"Oh, just for me."
"Well, not necessarily. I thought this was Motherís room-- I mean, uh..."
"Gotcha! Gotcha I did!" Seonaid gleefully exclaims.
"You arenít going to tell Mother I said that are you?"
"No... I wonít, but you owe me."
"Oh, okay. Want me to go kill anybody for you," he asks, happily.
"Not... at... the moment..." Seonaid painfully replies.
"Iíll help you later then."
"I hear youíve been trying to track down somebody. Want me to help kill him too."
"Iím not sure Mother would approve..."
"I wonít tell her, I promise."
"I donít want you to kill anyone right now. If you would like to send some of your little friends off to find this person..."
"Okay, Iíll go track him down." He hops off the bed.
"Not you, your spells," Seonaid admonishes.
Her little brother leaves. Seonaid checks the room, checking for how he got in. It seems he really screwed with one of her motherís spells, and Seonaid begins to trace through the work. Somehow he managed to push something through it he shouldnít have been able to. He turned off the wards, perhaps, just long enough to make a tunnel through it. The evidence of his passing has already begun to fade away.
Seonaid gets up and gets ready for breakfast.
Baron Laan, Lady Elianus, Felara (the baronís niece), Anakara, and our heroes are at breakfast. Everyone selects his or her food. There are pancakes and coffee for Fendrith. Shandor goes for bacon, sausage, and poached eggs. Seonaid eats a light continental breakfast of pastries and juice and crepes. Even Flark partakes of an omelet, rather than dragging food through shadow.
(A minor derail here while considering the Amber Muppet Show.)
Into the dining room strolls Feng, who is Flarkís youngest brother. "Hello, Feng. Youíre looking well," Flark asks, with no trace of sarcasm.
"Absolutely wonderful, how are you?" Feng responds, in a chipper fashion.
"I was in the neighborhood," Feng begins, "I just thought Iíd drop by. Um, by the way, have you heard? W'Zaal has had a rather traumatic accident. Heís been thoroughly burned."
"I see, how did this occur."
"I have no idea," he says, with a very big smile. "Heís taken refuge with your motherís side of the family, in the Ways of Amblerash. Heís asked for sanctuary. He specifically seems to believe that you had a hand in this. Would you have any idea what he could be talking about," he says with a grin.
Feng grabs an apple from a fruit bowl. "I really must run. Ta. Good seeing you, Uncle."
"I can tell why you donít like him," Seonaid comments.
"Well he does have that effect on people," Flark notes.
Flarkís uncle says, "Iíll have some of my people looking into this, I think weíve been had."
Some of the other guests wonder to themselves what that was all about.
"Perhaps we should deal with one crisis at a time," Flark considers, "Were we to depart this morning? Iíve been thinking, Uncle, we would be honored if you would like to accompany us. I think you might be interested in this little expedition. It may prove to be a refreshingly direct application of power, and we have certain need of your skills."
"Well, of course, I would be delighted to assist. Let me make a few minor preparations, take care of a few loose ends."
Fendrith approaches, having heard this conversation, "Iím most honored that you would assist us in this matter." The uncle acknowledges graciously.
Shandor pensively eats his food, and Felara understands his disquiet. Fendrith seems to have lost his appetite.
After a reasonably good night sleep, and the challenge of her younger brotherís spell work, Seonaid is in better spirits this morning. "So your slumber proved restful," her stepmother Anakara asks, over breakfast.
"Yes, I think it did."
"Drink your juice dear."
"Did you have any suggestions for my spell work for Merlinís concert? Something new, something people havenít seen before."
Well, dear, Iím mostly a theoretician, not much at entertainment. One of my fellow professors is in charge of the fine arts department... I could introduce you."
Flark mentions the people shadowing Dara to his Uncle.
"Mandor, Jendo, or possibly even Merlin," his Uncle suggests. "Merlin would be very unlikely, heís been more into technology than underlings."
"I donít see how we can take constructive action until we know," Flark says.
"Iíll have some inquiries made."
Flark saddles up. Menials have collected everyoneís kit. Seonaidís aunt bosses the menials around, demanding due care be taken with her nieceís things. When Seonaid checks, not only is her kit complete, but also contains many extras, selected with very competent judgement. Not over-packed, but well collected.
With Logrus, the party prepares to travel as close as possible to the Wizardís fortress, one shadow away, so to speak. With consideration to inhabitability and eminent danger, they find a hot dusty shadow that is about as close as one can get. While Flark and his uncle work on the arrangements, Fendrith goes into demon critter form, resulting in some slightly nervous horses. The group is drawn along the tendril to the destination. Tela is along for the ride, with a crossbow, until sheís certain of the tech of the place.
A minor sandstorm greets the travelers, but this is quickly calmed in the local area by a spell from Flarkís Uncle. They both quickly start in working on the barrier with Logrus. In their weaving, a knot is made, which expands inside the tight weave of the barrier. Inside this goes a bit of primal chaos, which is set to spinning. It changes shape, flattening, indenting, and becoming a torus through which they can pass.
The Uncle passes the party through while maintaining their escape route, a tiny opening to their rear. The Logrus spots both the Wizard and an inbound meteor, but with a momentís will, Flark has them within spitting distance of the Wizardís stronghold.
With his ring, Flark molds shadow, changing the stone of the castle into Cheese-Wiz™. This very unnatural action is resisted by the Wizard while Shandor searches for the core of the Keep, the Wizard, and the Construct.
Fendrith senses the way to the Wizard. A locked, bared gate impedes passage. At Telaís suggestion, Flark adjusts the shadow to support technology, and she removes something, sets a few dials, and says, "Get us a mile away, now." Flark complies, and whatever it was detonates. Upon their return, a great big smoking crater has replaced the gate.
An explosion of fire fills the hole before anyone moves through. Flark detects the pending blast and shields the party, saving everyone. They pass into the keep and encounter the Wizard.
The Wizard is surrounded by the aura of the life force of the worlds he is draining. Flark brings the party in at full speed, slamming into the Wizard, Logrus shield first. ("Icky foo yuck. ĖGM") The Wizard is bounced into the wall, but is unharmed, protected by his aura and wards.
Fendrith takes a deep breath. Flark sends Logrus against the Wizardís ward as Telaís automatic weapons fire fails to damage the magic. Shandor wraps tendrils against the shield too, and attempts to concentrate some pressure to squish the Wizardís neck. Seonaid confirms that the Wizardís ring is the focus and entirety of the construct.
Flarkís attack crumbles the Wizardís shields, and as the flat pancake of his Logrus grinds him against the wall, so the wall, floor, and ceiling of the castle begin to crumble too. Fendrith takes the moment to exhale, heating the Wizardís shield in addition to all the other attacks. To compound the attack, Flark applies primal chaos to the Wizardís groin.
The ward can take no more. Fendrith flames the Wizard again, and Shandorís pinching attack severs his head from his body. Seonaid then initiates a teleport-target spell, to move the ring to her, but the ring absorbs her magic. As primal chaos consumes the abdomen of the Wizard, the hand and arm with the ring, among other peripheral body parts, falls to the floor.
Fendrith jumps for the arm. Flark goes for the head, taking it with a tendril. The severed arm attempts to wrestle with Fendrith, animated by the ring. Shandor tendrils the ring with the Logrus. Seonaid teleports the arm away, leaving Fendrith with nothing, and Shandor with the ring. She tosses the arm away. Shandor cocoons the ring in Logrus.
Seonaid says, "We need to get the ring to Anakara." Fendrith agrees. The ring fights against Shandor's tendrils. With the need immediate, Fendrith says, "Go, now, do it."
Flark touches the remainder of his Uncleís portal with a Logrus tendril, and the portal opens, just as Seonaid casts the teleport spell. Shandor notices heís about to slam into something with Logrus that is not moving out of the way fast enough. He shields himself as much as possible. Seonaid is rendered unconscious and Shandor has the 5th worst hangover heís ever had.
Anakara sees the ring and says, "Laan, the ring, fry it, now. Feed it into primal chaos." He shuts down his portal and wraps the ring in primal chaos, and a bright light is created. He says, "Get us out of here, now." Shandor, with a handy teleport spell, sends everyone here back to Laanís estate. Behind the departing group, a bright explosion knocks Shandor unconscious.
Flark is stranded for a few minues, until the shadowís protections disolve. He grabs whatís left of the Wizard and teleports to Axsum as the shadow dissolves too.
Several hours pass.
Shandor, Seonaid, Laan, Ellionis, and Anakara all have third-degree burns.
Flark eventually asks his Uncle, "Mind telling me what happened?"
"We destroyed the ring, it tried to destroy us."
Flark boxes the head in a preservative container.
Fendrith asks, "Will you be needing the head?"
"I will be presenting it to the King, if he returns it to me, you may do what you wish to it," Flark promises.
Flark and his Uncle decide to present it to Merlin at his Commencement Gala.
After a day or two, all the shape-shifters (everyone) are feeling much better.
During Seonaidís recovery, she discusses spell work with people her stepmother sends from the Arts department, and with her Mother. In addition to nifty effects and such, she contemplates more efficient ways to mass-produce spells. She discusses a modular spell system, a programming language for spells that can save building blocks, or subroutines, and allow assembly of more complex spells in minutes instead of hours.
Her mother offers, "What youíre talking about sounds a little like something Julia Barnes-Sawall was working on."
Anakara leaves a note for Julia, to help arrange a meeting.
Fendrith, feeling kinda feral, decides to go hunting. Flark is informed that the guards shadowing Fendrith are dead, masticated, consumed by Fendrithís blood lust.
"We think heís crawled into this particular cave, but I havenít found anyone willing to go in and check," Laan says.
"Have you tried tying a virgin to a stake outside?" Flark whimsically jests.
"Are you suggesting that he might actually not be demon? That he might be something else?" Laan muses.
"I have no way of knowing, it would be interesting wouldnít it?" Flark wonders.
"He was small..."
"...but he was young too, perhaps thatís what heís eating for."
"I need to do some research," Laan decides. "Play host for me while Iím gone."
In a cave somewhere, Fendrith molts.
Fendrith awakes in a dark, musty... cave, yep, itís a cave. A cramped cave.
He carfully crawls out, being careful with his wings against the ceiling. Once outside, a few experimental flaps reveal that they are three times larger than his wings used to be. A little experimentation suggests they might be functional, he may be able to glide.
From a high point, near a lake, he jumps from a cliff, and is gliding. No swimming today as a couple test-flaps send him higher, actually flying. Fendrith is flying!
And so Fendrith flies, for much of the rest of the day.
Laan tells Flark, "Weíre reasonably certain heís a dragon. Thatís why the Wizard was after him. He is an innately and intensely magical creature with immense potential. I suggest we see if there is a way to capitalize on this. He may be a baby dragon, but heís still a dragon. Itís good to have a dragon for a friend."
"Do we know anything more about the construct?"
"Anakara is doing research, but itís been sealed and guarded."
"Sealed by the crown?"
"Did he ever flat out say he was a dragon? I would not accuse him of this until he chooses to acknowledge this. It would be wisest to play along."
Flark discovers that eldest of his (younger) brothers, W'Zaal, got a message to Flark at ground zero of the earlier trap. When he got there the whole thing blew up in W'Zaalís face. Heís upset, heís scared.
Flark is invited to afternoon tea at House Amblerash, at which W'Zaal will make an appearance. W'Zaal seems to want witnesses for their next meeting.
"Come this way sir, your servant may remain here."
At tea, W'Zaal, and Flarkís grandfather are there. Grandfather remains a discrete distance away, allowing a private conversation.
"Brother," Flark begins.
"Brother. Last time I saw you, you blew up in my face. Literally."
"I feel Feng has done badly by us both."
"Feng wasnít the one who went boom."
"I was planning on having a meeting in that place with friends of mine. It came to the attention of our spy network that I was to be ambushed in that place by brother Lorek."
"So youíre saying it was he who you wished to be there, not me? So why did you send me the message to meet you there?"
"I sent you no such message. Slightly after this occurred, brother Feng appeared, gloating, at our Uncle's for breakfast, and informed us of your predicament, so I believe he had something to do with the note."
"You want me to believe this was a set-up job by Feng."
"That seems likely. However, I think your instinct to remove yourself to a place of safety was wise. I expect things to get even more volatile in the next few weeks."
"Iíll need some time to think about this. I donít think I will be able to attend the Kingís gala. Please do me a favor and extend my regards and explain the reason for my absence."
"I think it would be well if you remained here, there are some brothers I do not wish to lose."
Fendrith discovers that, even in his human form, his wings are much larger. He can glide in this form, and with a lot of effort, even fly. Heís bulked up a bit. Heís taller (7í), and broader shouldered.
Seonaid checks up on her little brother. Heís not around home, so she uses a contact spell. She finds him in some sort of rock yard or quarry, or more of a heap of stones that might have made up the castle the wizard was in.
"I see you found the Wizardís castle."
"Or a shadow of it."
"Found anything interesting"
"Iím looking for something for, um, show-and-tell."
"I think he was pretty much done in."
"Did he have any toys or stuff?"
"Well, we made sure his toy was pretty much done in."
"Did he have any other stuff?"
"I donít know."
He keeps digging, and Seonaid asks, "Can I come through and help?"
"Uh, okay," and he brings her through.
Seonaid pokes around, looking for things. She finds a formerly cursed dagger. Her brother falls in love with it. "Wow, this is cool!"
"Will that work for show and tell?"
"Sure... thereís gotta be more stuff here!" He resumes digging.
Seonaid quickly uses a detect-o-matic spell, and learns there is actually something dangerous further into the pile of rubble. "I think you have enough for show-and-tell, you can come back after class."
"After class? Okay!"
Seonaid takes him home, only to quickly return to discern the danger and take care of the problem. There might be an entrapped bizarre psychotic demon down there. Seonaid reports it, and it will be nuked very soon.
Fendrith accompanies Seonaid to the Gala to set up their stage.