Back to Middle Earth
Week 3, Search the Horde
We were last seen sorting through a football field of treasure, piled up to the third row of bleachers, in places. We'd been at it for eight hours. We had found, besides much else:
12 hours have passed. Cantrel swallowed the gems he'd been sampling. (We're collecting them for future reference, if we need to run off some dwarvish wealth in the pantope.) Wu found a suit of armor that would fit David. Fogi found some armor that would fit him.
18 hours. Aphron went back to the Arkenstone and scried it. In the book, it was said to gleam when the mountain was under attack, so we thought it might have "noticed" our crown's arrival. It has had a violent history, but does not seem to have "seen" the crown. David falls into a small golden cave-in, and Wu feels he is running out of sanity, so we break for a bit.
During the break, Cantrel finds a throwing dagger. As he picks it up, he hears rocks moving. He looks around. None of the party are moving. In fact, some of us have fallen asleep. Noise again. A rock comes down the door we have pegged as the one the hobbit will come through. The plot is about to arrive, a bit ahead of schedule as far as our reckoning can tell.
Thinking to use the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip, Cantrel tries to grab it with PK and hits himself in the head with it. Timelock? Anyway, it might not be wise to meet a central character, with or without bargaining chips. He puts it back.
Wu had set up a telepathic rapport with several members of the party. Cantrel uses it to rouse Wu, who relays the alarm. Aphron takes some shaking to wake up and Pfusand in bear-shape manages to step through a crown, but we all evacuate to the corridor we came in by. Wu then opens the box of darkness -- the perfect smoke screen.
Aphron uses his Deryni probing to "see" through the darkness and observes the hobbit emerge from the tunnel. After a bit, he is startled by a bat, steps through a crown the way Pfusand did, and falls over, dropping his torch. He calls for the dwarves, who begin emerging from the tunnel.
At this point, Cantrel hears a sound in the tunnel BEHIND US. "Damn!" a voice whispers, disconcertingly close. Wu tries a gentle probe in that direction. Some motion, then nothing.
For the benefit of our unknown companion, Cantrel stage-whispers, "Damn! the dwarves beat us to it!"
Lorelei gets a stiff dose of "we're being watched" feeling. Wu's probe feels someone skulk away from he wall and up the tunnel. The figure was armored, which helped it fade into the rocky walls. Cantrel sneaks after it and Aphron sneaks after Cantrel.
Cantrel can just barely see a faint figure once he gets beyond the zone of darkness. Once more for stage effect, he mutters, "Bard shall hear of this." Then more loudly, he says, "I am Galwain, wizard. Who art thou?"
"(A shadow.)" And the figure is lost in the gloom. But not before Aphron saw it, armored and slender, maybe elvish. Cantrel continued sneaking, noticing that the quarry managed to move silently over rubble. Of course, Cantrel is no slouch at stealth himself. Still, he was surprised when a voice from overhead complimented his style: "(Very good!)"
Cantrel: "Talk? I mean no harm."
It: "Meet you at the top of the stairs."
Cantrel: "Done." He then FLIES up the stairway and gets a sword swung at him. It glows. He grabs it and stops in midair. "Would you like this back? I meant 'talk.'"
It: "You surprised me."
Cantrel: "Tit for tat."
It: "Sounds reasonable. Your friend is coming." Cantrel hears Aphron sneaking not quite so stealthily up the tunnel. Meanwhile, a telepathic conversation is going on through Wu's rapport net:
Cantrel flits up the tunnel and over the trip-stone of the trap. The mystery figure does the same, though without flying. Still hovering, Cantrel starts the conversation with relative candor.
Cantrel: "I seek a crown. You?"
It: "I watch."
Cantrel: "Have you a name that you will give me?"
It: "Daewen the Foreshadower."
Cantrel: "Foreshadower of what?"
Daewen: "Of many things. It's a sort of pattern. These days, it's mostly doom and dangers. Other times, other things."
Cantrel: "Like loot and fancy?"
Cantrel: "Treasure doesn't interest you?"
Daewen: "I'm in it for the fun."
Cantrel: "Would a search for a crown interest you?"
Daewen: "It might." The voice sounds more interested than the words would show.
Cantrel: "Would you like an inducement to help us?"
Daewen: "It would help."
On the telepathy net, Cantrel tells us,
Cantrel: "I have some odd companions."
Daewen: "Appropriate. There are many kinds converging on this place."
Cantrel: "Dwarves, hobbits, men, ... and elves?"
Daewen: "At least one elf!"
Cantrel to Aphron:
While the rest of the group struggles up the tunnel and over the trap, Daewen keeps fading in and out of the darkness, very hard to keep track of. Aphron probes the newcomer and finds the armor and sword are magic -- and stop any deeper probing. Wu finds the same thing and notices the sword glowing when it's probed.
Fogi innocently asks Daewen if he could learn how to make swords glow. "It's more a matter of birth than training," answer Daewen. Tom tests the psi of the sword and finds it feels elven. No surprise. Since Tom is not supposed to have heard the conversation between Daewen and "Galwain," he repeats Cantrel's opening questions about what is Daewen doing here?
Daewen: "Waiting upon events. Great ones are coming. Portents are my trade. they make a nice change form sylvan glades."
Tom [wearily]: "I could do with a sylvan glade, myself."
Daewen now doffs her helmet and shows a dark-haired, pale face of superhuman beauty. She sandbags Tom with a smile and says, "That might be arranged." Tom is not only smitten with her beauty, he recognizes her. This is the elven maid we last saw fighting the black horseman on the borders of Rivendell. Tom anxiously wonders if that was pastward or futureward of now.
Daewen announces that the dwarves are getting busy down there. We decide to hide from them, heading up and back into the mountain. Cantrel "conjures" a ball of fire really supplied by Wu, and we wander off into the tunnels.
We pass by a library and a lounge and pause at a chapel with a crack in its walls that opens on the outside. Wu sneaks a look at his watch. We last met Daewen 75 years from now. And she doesn't look a day younger.
We decide to hole up in the chapel. Around midnight, Daewen wants to descend the mountain and retrieve some supplies she left on her horse. Cantrel accompanies her. The climbing rope comes untied at a word, which is nice and inconspicuous, but means Cantrel has to fly it back up on the way back.
After this expedition, we begin to contemplate the fact that we have now missed the pantope, which won't be back for six days. We have very little food and it's a barren country around here. Hmm.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.