New York 1984
Week 4, Meeting a Shadow
To clarify the situation, we are in a cylindrical pit. A staircase goes down along the wall clockwise. There are three hallways going off from the stairs. Previously we thought they were alcoves, but they are in fact hallways. The first one had the "wizard" who attacked Tom magically. The second had the "fighter" who attacked Chris. Its hall branches into three. The lower one had the "thief" by it, and had a shin-level pivot that cracked Tom.
Alag and Cantrel have been taking turns going on point. It's Alag's turn to go first. Lorelei has analyzed the path ahead and detects some foreign type of magic. It is unusual, but with a rich texture. She hypothesizes that there is a trap ahead, so Alag is careful.
Being careful, Alag half-trips over his own feet as he feels himself about to step on something that might not be such a hot idea to step on and leaps ahead. Lorelei probes the area that Alag tells us about and finds a false floor over a pit. Chris's second sight also finds this. We cross.
It is still Alag's turn. We go down more twists and turns, and notice what could be arrow slits up ahead. Alag checks them out with second sight and there is nothing behind them, so we continue. Getting up there, we see a large crack in the wall. Cantrel uses his quadcorder and finds that it leads to some other room.
We use second sight and find that the room it leads to is smallish with a thin tunnel going up and down. Downwards, the tunnel goes some eight or nine feet and hits a smooth barrier. More psi-proofing. Upwards isn't terribly interesting.
We head on, it still being Alag's turn. Daewen peels off the back, thinking she hears someone following us. She is wearing the flying belt, so she is fast and quiet. Tom and Chris notice the roof starting to cave in and they break in opposite directions. A large section of roof caves in, hurting no one, but separating the party with about ten feet of rubble. Tom and Daewen are on one side, and everyone else on the other.
About this time, we get back in telepathic contact with Daewen. It is her wont to only stay linked to the verbal level, and she's not terribly verbal when she's busy. This is occasionally frustrating for network management types, but it's not like you can easily retrain a warrior who's been at it for a half millennium, and a play-by-play might actually be worse. She tells us that she tackled the small fellow but he skittered, skedaddled, or teleported away. He had been pushing at timbers in the roof, and is thus probably responsible for the rockslide blocking our path.
Alag and Cantrel start digging through the rubble on one side, Tom and Daewen on the other. Sophie watches down the corridor. Chris's second sight says that there's a lot of loose rock still in the ceiling, so we're careful to prop things as we clear a tunnel.
Sophie notices someone watching us from down the corridor. Lorelei probes and we conclude that it's probably our friend. As Cantrel is clearing a good sized tunnel, someone attacks him magically. It is rather like being punched in the TK, if that makes sense. If not, complain to our beloved gamesmaster.
He backs out of the tunnel. He had been carefully flying in place there as he cleared rocks, making a tunnel that could be flown through. He feels something rather like a towel flitting through the air, and grabs it with TK. Grabbing is rather like grabbing water, but he holds tight. Whatever fish is on his line, it bolts and drags him along with it, bashing him against the wall and knocking him out. Those of us with vibes notice a psychic struggle going on. Cantrel floats senseless in the air and Lorelei works on him. His attack was not like Tom's. While whatever hit him hurt, no damage was done (before he was bashed against the wall, that is). A little Deryni healing patches him up.
Sophie whips out her communicator and says into it, "Control? This is blue team. What's going on down here? We're not the only ones!"
The communicator says back in her grandfather's voice: "What is it blue team? You know you're not supposed to call unless something is wrong."
"We're not the only ones down here!" says Sophie. "Are you sure that it's only us and red team?"
"Yes, I'm sure," says her grandfather. "just play the game, okay?"
Sophie gives an exasperated sigh and puts away the communicator.
In the meantime, the tunnel has been finished and Tom and Daewen climb through. We collect ourselves and continue down the hall.
The hall dumps us out at the top of a crevasse. A rickety rope bridge extends across. Alag scans with second sight. At the bottom of the crevasse, there is a hidden tunnel. Behind it is a low passage. He follows the passage to a wooden door.
Cantrel, Chris, and Alag go down. Chris debates the climb or levitation. Cantrel says, "Jump." Chris raises an eyebrow. "I'll catch you." says Cantrel. Chris shrugs, jumps, and Cantrel catches him. All three of them are critically stealthy. They get to the door. It looks like it is hinged on both sides. We examine it, decide that there are two doors there, and back up. Cantrel opens the inner door with TK.
Revealed is a dimly lit room. It's very cluttered; clothes, tables, chests, tools, and lots of junk are scattered about. The walls aren't exactly parallel, either. There is a loft set into the room, a few feet up. A pin falls out from the top of the door jamb, sticking out. Cantrel TKs it back, and Alag binds it there. We search, and find another pin, with a rounded head still there. We bind that one there, too. We find that if that one falls (after a mechanical timer starts after the first one falls), some electrical circuit is closed. Great.
The door sill looks like it gives, and in fact the outer door is hinged, too. Cantrel and Alag go in, flying. Chris heads back out to get some chalk from Sophie. Cantrel and Alag find an interesting spool of wire, which Cantrel stores in his backpack. There's a dim bulb in the loft, and we hear something shuffling about. Cantrel tries to talk to it. Above the loft there is a trap door, and above that, someone seems to be rummaging about. Chris asks Cantrel if his babel fish is on. Cantrel turns it on.
After talk doesn't seem to do any good, Cantrel floats up into the third room and looks around. He comes face to face with its inhabitant, a large raccoon. Up here, there is loot. A silver plate, a chalice, and some other stuff. Given that we have Wardrobe back on the pantope, Cantrel mutters about all the fun of being a thief being gone. Nothing there interests him.
There is also a wardrobe up here. No lion, no witch, just a wardrobe -- we checked. Cantrel examines the wardrobe. He starts to look in the wardrobe and someone who seemed to be behind it tosses a glass of something at him. He parries with TK. We find a door behind the wardrobe, but not really enough room to squeeze in.
Chris decides it's now worth spending psi, so he floats in, detecting magic around. There's not a whole lot that isn't the three of them. Cantrel and Alag examine the door. It's locked. Chris searches the wardrobe. The clothes that are there are likely to fit our small friend. We suppose that this is his lair. Cantrel knocks the door open. There is a shaft with a ladder going up. Cantrel talks to the air, explaining that we want a truce to talk.
We debate leaving. We've seen about all we really need to. There's no segment here, so let's go. About the time they come to that conclusion, a figure jumps Cantrel. We try talking to it, but it's choking Cantrel. Chris pulls his stunner and tries to talk. About the time it looks like Cantrel can't handle the figure and will pass out, Chris fires the stunner. A wisp of fog goes up the shaft and Cantrel slumps in mid-air. Chris applies first aid to Cantrel, and we decide to leave. We close up the room. Chris writes "Blue team explored & left at" and the time on the wall in blue chalk.
We go back topside and examine the bridge. Chris walks across it, and it's pretty rickety. It should be okay for people like him, Sophie, Lorelei, and Tom, but the heavy folks should find another way across, like flight.
We cross, and now it's Cantrel's turn. We find an air shaft. One that seems to have been used for climbing. A little further, we find a recessed cave cut into the tunnel. In this is a huge stone altar. Lorelei wants to search for blood stains. She does, and finds them. It's been used. Great. There are carvings in the altar which no one recognizes as belonging to any particular milieu. Sophie gets pictures.
Further down, we come to a dead end and a boarded over door. We remove the boards. Alag bends down to pick the lock. Cantrel looks at the dilapidated state of the door and snaps the handle out of the door, complete with lock. He hands it to Alag, who dutifully picks it.
Behind the door is a wall of concrete. We pull out the digging tool and bore a hole near the bottom. Water starts pouring out. We bore another hole near the top, and no water comes out. We sound it out with a string and a weight and find that there is about two feet of water there. But how much exactly (in volume) is anyone's guess. We plug the hole and start to debate actions.
We hear wet footsteps behind us, and Cantrel sends out a blast of TK, trying to catch whatevers there. Cantrel goes back along our path and finds out friend, the little guy, knocked out on the floor. He's hit his head. The rest of us rush over, and we pull out the industrial strength psilencer and turn it on. We also tie the fellow up.
He is dressed in haphazard clothes and has a bag of tools on his belt. He also has enough junk stashed on him that we give up trying to take it all. We tie him up.
Once he comes to, Chris and Cantrel start interrogating him. Chris tries talking in English. No response. He tries Portuguese (he knows that there were a lot of Spanish speakers in NY of this time, and for "hello, who are you?" sorts of things, it's close enough), no response. The guy gets straining expressions on his face -- we suspect that he's trying to 'port away. Cantrel slugs him a few times whenever he tries, and finally gives up. Chris keeps trying to talk to him as Cantrel rants about how he's just going to kill him. Chris sharply asks Pfusand to restrain Cantrel, and yells at him that we're not here to kill anyone, this is only a game, damn it!
Thus having established who the good interrogator is and who the bad interrogator is, Chris tries talking again. "They call me Shadow." says the fellow. Success! He doesn't want to talk much. He says he's not supposed to talk to people from the outside world. We tell him that we're not from the outside world, we're from some other completely different world. No luck.
We find out that we did search his lair, and compliment him on his skill. He refuses to tell us what the traps do, simply telling us to try them and find out. We try to find out what he does. He collects things, and makes things. There are lots of other people here who can do different things. As if we didn't know. We tell him that we're playing a game that's a sort of treasure hunt. We don't know what we're after until we find it -- that's part of the game. We offer to help him however we can, if he will help us.
We don't get a lot more out of him before he breaks and runs, leaving a pile of rope behind him. Chris stuns him as he leaps, and he hits the ground in mid-'port.
We run after him, and find him sort of smeared two-dimensionally across the floor, looking very much like a shadow. We debate bringing the psilencer over, but decide that that might kill him. Lorelei applies some healing to him, and he completes his 'port, warp, jaunt, or whatever he does.
We go back and search the altar area, and Lorelei scrys the altar. Those with morbid curiosities stay linked. It was used for animal sacrifice many, many times, but not in the past few hundred years. If it was used for human sacrifice, it wasn't often, as she can't tell.
We also examine the spool of wire Cantrel got. It's gold. Sophie's keen eye tells us that it probably didn't come from the outside world because the wire is sheathed with a cloth insulation or something, and that cloth was hand-spun. Presumably, 1984 is past the point of hand-spinning cloth, and we all concur, based on what we've seen.
There we leave them, wondering what to do next. Should we wade through the water? Find a place to take a nap? Go after Shadow?
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.