Week 25, Musgrove's Demise
We left our heroes in the middle of a fight with the rapidly deifying Major Musgrove. Alag, Cantrel, Chris, and Daewen were already engaged; Lorelei, Tom, and Pfusand were rushing to the scene of battle, while Sophie and Jonathan, ill-equipped for battle arcane, scouted from the sidelines.
While Alag shoots futile arrows at Musgrove and he and Daewen tug at Chris to help keep him from being sucked into the blue flame by TK, Chris finally forced open Musgrove's hand. It revealed no Eye of Dalgroom, but a mere patch of red glow, perhaps IN his palm. Meanwhile, Musgrove has grown still taller and more fiery. Cantrel prudently takes time out to conjure his magical shield.
Lorelei comes zooming in on her Mary-Poppins-style flying umbrella, conjures up all the Deryni warding she can muster, and dives into the blue flames with her sword swinging. Since Chris seems secure with Alag for the moment, Daewen follows suit -- she lofts, transforming a bit as she goes, and draws her sword Twilight, glowing blue and black. (Lorelei is invisible. Sophie notes her outline in the flames and relays the sight to Daewen, so the two don't blunder into each other.) Lorelei lops through Musgrove's forearm, twice, then goes staggering out the other side of the flames, screaming.
The hand does not come off. But purplish fire spurts from the wound and, as far as we can see, the hand may be displaced a bit from its original position. Steeling himself the telekinetic pain, Cantrel reaches into the fire and pulls on the hand. It comes out several inches, along with much purple fire. To distract Musgrove, Cantrel pulls on his right eyeball. (All that happens is that it shines more brightly.)
Daewen makes a speedy pass through the fire and hacks at Musgrove's neck. She doesn't get all the way through, but blue fire spurts from the wound. (Blue?) Musgrove takes a swing back at her but misses. His fireballs at Cantrel also miss, because he's throwing them with his right hand, which is now several inches from his wrist, connected by a stream of purple fire. The fireballs he throws with his left hand connect, however.
Tom arrives beside Chris and conjures some ectoplastic armor for himself. Chris twists and tugs at the hand, pulling it further off as Musgrove continues to throw extra-large fireballs. He also continues growing and glowing, especially on the right-hand side.
Cantrel yanks on the hand some more, then plucks at Musgrove's left eye. He stops gaining ground. Suddenly, Jonathan telepaths "Wait!" Cantrel obediently waits. Meanwhile, Lorelei tries another pass through the flames, but is overcome by the pain and flies out the other side, falling.
Cantrel notes that the redness in Musgrove's hand is suddenly increasing. He feels very much that he is staring down a cannon about to fire. "Now?!" asks Jonathan. "Yes!" Cantrel yanks one way, dives to the other, and Musgrove's hand comes off entirely. A gush of purple fire follows, most of it missing Cantrel. Chris suddenly comes loose from his TK tug-of-war and goes flying back in Alag's arms.
It would seem Jonathan foresaw Musgrove's moment of distraction as the latter concentrated on a fireball. Now we've broken up his control some.
Meanwhile, Daewen dives and grabs the falling Lorelei. Unfortunately, the efforts sends Daewen herself out of control. Both land unconscious on the floor of the cave, Lorelei on a bed of lava. Pfusand arrives just then and pulls Lorelei off. Chris fumbles with TK for Daewen's belt controls, but misses because Daewen is really 18 inches to the side of where she appears to be -- a habitual piece of battle-glamour for her.
We can now see the situation more clearly. Blue fire flows out of Musgrove's stump and into a ball of fierce red light. Beyond the red light, the fire is purple. The hand is empty of objects or of light. Probably the red light itself is the Eye of Dalgroom, our diadem segment.
Steeling himself again, Cantrel grabs with TK for the red light. The pain is enormous and his left hand starts to look charred. But the red point starts to move nearer. Cantrel lets go, stunned. Alag catches him.
Chris grabs at the light with his insulated TK Pattern and manages to pull it clear of the blue flames, but not out of the larger blue aura that surrounds the flames and Musgrove. The stream of blue energy comes with it, as if the red light were the tip of an invisible fire-hose full of incandescence.
The difference between Musgrove's left and right sides is more pronounced now, the right being larger.
Tom reaches in and burns his own TK, but helps Chris pull the red light clear of the blue aura. The blue fire now comes gushing straight from Musgrove's stump, no longer turning purple through the red light. At the same time, Musgrove's left side expands to match his right. He reaches with his remaining (left) hand and the red light stops -- TK tug-of-war again.
Tom goes on tugging and fumbles for control with his Tools skill. Musgrove, Sophie notes, is now spewing blue fire from every orifice in his head. Control may be slipping further. Cantrel comes around again and tugs some more, getting burned on the hands again. Musgrove gestures at the red light and a hazy blue aura reaches out for it. The red light goes flying back toward him, but on the way, he collapses into a mass of blue flame. Chris and Tom fumble desperately with the TK contacts. "Come back," Tom orders the Eye over his tenuous Tools link.
Suddenly, Cantrel realizes his Hold Portal spell, somewhere down in the depths of the fire, is being put under repeated strains. These coincide with Chris and Tom's TK pulls. Alag joins in the pulling. But it could be disastrous to break Cantrel's spell by main force, depending on what it is holding out.
"Turn off," Tom orders the Eye. There's an eruption of blue fire. Cantrel passes out and his flight spell vanishes. Alag catches him. The Eye comes sailing out of the fire to Chris, still red hot. Chris holds it a few feet from him, eyeing it cautiously.
Half a mile away, Jonathan feels experimentally at the local psi and faints, overwhelmed. Daewen, Cantrel, and Lorelei are also out cold. Cantrel and Alag are nearly dead and Lorelei is badly burnt. Soon, however, Pfusand revives Lorelei. Her magical healing, plus some mundane healing from Pfusand and Tom, gets everyone conscious and on their feet in a few minutes.
Daewen remarks that our next problem is likely to be worldbenders. They can't fail to have notices that arcane battle royal. We should leave soon and oddly, in a way they won't expect. Chris recommends that Daewen duplicate her strange witch-walking trick that took us from London to Bath the last time the worldbenders attacked. In fact, could she takes us back through time to the first time we were ever in Bath, ten years ago? Daewen says she can't, but she could take us to contemporary Bath. Having tried fire, we prepare to try the waters.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.