Saturday, March 20, 2021
Last Stand of the World
Chapter Twenty: Tortured
Ryli and the others looked at each other and began sprinting when they heard the start of the conversation. They were still a ways away from the hut and could only imagine what she was doing to Dugger by the conversation, and it didn't sound pleasant.
Ryli was the first one in the door, just as Gabs was forcing a vial of something past Dugger's lips while he was shaking his head side-to-side to avoid the potion. Blood oozed from wounds, his ears, and different parts of his body. It is evident that she'd been taking her anger out on his body before she moved onto her last step and used the vial of potion on him, and whatever its effects would be, only she knew.
Ryli flew into the room and tackled Gabs to the ground, knocking the vial aside. Asaa snagged it with her tail before it could hit the ground, and Davern went to Dugger and began to stabilize his more apparent wounds.
"Is Dugger okay?" Ryli called out.
"I don't know." Davern replied, "Asaa, how is it? What kind of toxin?
"Well, I need a few minutes. I don't think he has ingested much, also from a visual investigation, I think I can counter it."
She closed her eyes and brought out a book. Then a table and several beakers and put in a few drops of the solution inside. She swilled it around, sniffed it, then sent thin tendrils of mana inside before brightening and pulling out several more things, flipping through her book and muttering to herself.
"I think I've found it. Just give me a few moments if you can stabilize him, Davern?"
"I'll do my best. It's not like that's not what I've been doing," he said as he refocused. He didn't know what the girl had been up to unless; the objective had been to wear out the man's mind and make him more susceptible to the potion that she was trying to give him.
"How could you do this to someone you like?" He murmured, and cast a quick glance at the lamia beside him, then focused back on the job at hand. Even when he didn't know if she'd been an enemy or not, he hadn't thought about putting her up. He poured more healing mana into his hands and knit the skin back together. Then focused on the places that she'd burned with something.
He hoped that they could come up with something that could repair them so that he wouldn't be horribly scarred. It wouldn't be fair to him; he was a decent guy who was only trying to do the right thing.
Davern sighed and reattached Dugger's severed ears. He was definitely not bringing that crazy girl back with them to the guild.
He paused as he thought of something, no that can't be right. He stilled his hands for a moment and thought about it. That spell that The Shaman cast should have made her a subordinate and unable to hurt the other parts of the pact; not without serious repercussions., could something be interfering with The Shaman's spell, he wondered. He began to work quicker on Dugger's healing.
He couldn't kill her, it might disrupt the spell, but maybe he could bind her? he would have to watch. He looked over at the scuffle and paused; thick grey lines ran through Gabs. A "controlled"?
Well, that would explain a few things, but why wouldn't the old Shaman know? Wait a minute, didn't Ryli say something about some "controlled" you just never knew until it was too late. He kept his hands moving and looked at every other person in the room.
He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that Asaa was clear of lines, her mana fresh and young, not tainted even by life, well that was weird in and of itself. He'd consider what that implied some other time. Right now, he needed to make sure this little guy didn't die.
"I have it. Asaa said and swayed over, bringing a small vial to Dugger's lips. He fought it.
Davern snapped, "you want her to win?"
Just then, the noise from Ryli's side increased; she screamed and rolled away, clenching her side, and Gabs ran off before anyone could stop her.
Asaa's hand paused, "keep giving it to him. I'll go see to her. We'll just have to try and take care of both of them and worry about Gabs after we've seen to their wounds."
She nodded and continued feeding him the potion after he'd calmed down. She then applied a thick healing salve; to his face, ears, and along were the open wounds that had been on his body to repair the damage; and heal the burns that were left. She then administered a high healing potion, along with Devons mana treatment should suffice in recovering all of his wounds and send him into a deep sleep to recuperate; he moaned a little as he settled.
"Asaa, I think you need to come, see this. I'm pretty sure that this blade has poison on it." Davern called.
Asaa hurriedly finished what she was doing with Dugger and came to his side. "How is she even able to attack Ryli? She's a subordinate under the spell, well that... the thing is, Asaa," Davern leaned forward and looked over at Dugger before whispering in her ear, "she should be, 'controlled.'"
She pulled back and looked at him, "Are you sure?"
He nodded, "Yes, I can see weird lines on them with the mana eyes spell. I think that the Nullers' venom might be overriding the Race spell; I just don't know for how long it will last or what the consequences will be. l
"Well, let's put it aside for now. I need to sort out what kind of toxin she's put on that blade." Asaa worked quickly ascertaining the type of poison on the knife and administered an antidote to Ryli. Then she put away her Alcamey supplies; and went back to check on Dugger.
She lifted his eyelids and went back to Davern, fiddled with her hand for a moment, then spoke. "Um, Davern, I, um, I think we should take a break here. At least for a few hours. Even if we are in a real hurry, these guys just aren't able to move, and we don't know what else she's doing out there right now." she swayed back and forth, her tail whipping around nervously.
Her words were punctuated by violent shaking as an explosion landed near the building. Davern came to stand beside her and put his hand on her arm to steady her. "I guess we know what she's out there doing now. She's setting off explosions."
He went back and took the ward he'd made from Ryli and himself, "Asaa, can I have your ward?"
She handed it over. "Sure, here. What are you planning?"
"Well, if we can't go anywhere for a while, we might as well get some sleep."
She gave him a funny look.
He looked right back, "I don't know about you, but I've been going nonstop since morning. I was traveling in the desert, then there was a battle with the Nuller, getting wounded, and well, you've been with me for most of the rest, so I'll save it.
'We've got two wounded here that have to process healing mana and potions, which both take time to work if you can't activate your own mana and help speed up the process, so we have to wait.
'I'm burnt from constantly burning through and overusing my mana plus this damn venom keeps flaring up. I can't seem to fully get rid of it. So I'm going to ward the hut to give us a few hours of peace.
'Maybe the Nuller sensed the large exodus of goblins and activated the last 'controlled' to figure out what is going on. I'm not too sure. Anyway, I'd better get this set up before crazy sets something off on top of us, then we'd really regret it."
He walked to the three corners of the hut and made a triangle with them at the center, then empowered the wards and activated the second power within them. They joined together and formed a dome over them, it wouldn't last as long as it would have if they were individual wards, but if they were separate wards, they wouldn't be as strong, so he guessed there were pros and cons to both uses.
He sighed, tired, and slumped against a wall; so he could watch the others, then he had a thought. "Asaa, I know you've probably given all of your power stones to Azer, right?"
"Yes. I've prepared the beast bag for him and any of the others we might find. Why?
"I have several power stones in my gear. I can replace them with it if you allow me to use one now. The power in a power stone is cleaner and safer than downing mana potions."
Yes, I'm aware," she thought about it for a moment. "Alright, although we can't guarantee that they are still with your gear, you will be able to pay me back after you return to the guild.
I'm sure your guild will compensate you for your trouble and maybe reward you if you bring back evidence?"
"Evidence? He paused, "I hadn't thought of that."
She looked at him like he was dumb, "for a smart man, you can be very dumb sometimes; if you don't have evidence, no one will listen to you about the boogie man."
"You're right," he sighed.
"Don't be so down. We'll collect everything you'll need to prove it.
She smiled at him and took out a good-sized stone for him, paused, and then pulled out one for herself. "You don't have to pay me for this one. I just remembered that I've also used quite a bit of mana, and like you said, we can't absorb the natural mana right now." She looked around. I wondered what it is that causes the 'controlled'?"
Davern thought about it, "it could be anything, but it's probably being infected by mana corruption."
"Then why aren't all of them corrupted?" She asked as she came over and coiled up next to him.
"I don't know; maybe there is also a secondary factor. It could have something to do with the night they were taken captive. Ryli said that she didn't remember much from that time. Because she was too young, but goblins breed and grow fast, which is probably why they were captured.
"Yeah, I wondered how old she is?" Asaa asked.
"She is probably less than a year, but she'll be a hobgoblin before long if I'm reading the signs right. " Davern said.
"What? Why do you say that?" Asaa asked.
"Only the higher goblins begin to feel Mana, and Ryli already does, not to mention I think she's the next Shaman of her tribe."
"Why? She passed the stone from hand to hand then looked at the small girl curled up on the floor.
"Because he's hiding something. Because he made her The Guardian. Because she has magic," and he looked at Dugger, "Because of the next summoner. He's had no problem since the moment the call was made if there were being more analytical. He'd been protective of Ryli even before that, more protective of her than Gabs. If he didn't know something, I'd be surprised."
She handed him the stone, "thanks. let's try and get some rest while we can."
"Alright," she coiled around the power stone and shut her eyes and began meditating.
He cast one last glance over the occupants of the room, shifted closer to her, and closed his eyes, with his hands around the stone, focusing on the power within it.
Last Stand of the World
Chapter Nineteen: Scavengers Way
Davern turned to Ryli "any suggestions?"
"Well, a few, actually. The Summoner's Prissy Princess may have cut off the main access tunnels, but she hasn't taken out the scavenger's tunnels. If she knows where they are, I doubt she even has a clue some of them exist.
'I don't even know what I've done to her anyway." she murmured under her breath and walked towards one of the nearby walls. They weren't far from a few access points anyway and shoved a basket out of the way, motioning for them to follow her. "Here, down this way. We need to hurry before she blows something else up."
They moved through the side passaged, crouched over until Davers face was almost in his knees; "you know this isn't the most comfortable position, right?"
Ryli looked back at him, standing completely upright, and smiled, "well, who told you to be so big? the next turn is just through here," she said, ducking around a corner and crouching next to a wall slapping a series of patterns with the flat of her palm.
Davern looked back at Asaa, "hum, why does that look so familiar?"
She flicked him with her tail and huffed.
He ducked out of the way. "Hey now, I'm just joking; stop with the tail already."
She stilled her tail. "Does it hurt?" she asked in concern.
He just grinned at her and winked.
"Oh, you, erg." she whipped her tail, but this time didn't hit him with it, and he smiled, getting a little closer as they waited for the wall to open. He snagged it out of the air and gave it a few brief swipes with the pad of his thumb.
He leaned in and whispered in her ear, just don't hurt it knocking into things. Then he released her when he noticed her skin had shifted to a pleasing shade of rose, and he walked away. If he'd had a tail, it'd be twitching high in the air, pleased with himself. He rubbed his fingers together; yep, her scales felt just as pleasant as he remembered.
Davern got serious and focused on Ryli. "Do you know where Dugger might have gone?"
"He probably went to the summoners' house to get his practice supplies, and then he might have gone to his house to get some of his stuff, but he might have gone looking for her first."
"Alright, we'll head there first. Do these tunnels head that way?"
She paused for a moment as if to think and then said, "Well, most of them do, but you can't get near The Summoners or The Shamans house in them. You'll have to come out near the middle of the den and then try to make our way up unseen by her. It will be a pain if she's activated any other defenses."
The tunnel had opened while they were conversing, and Ryli peaked her head out and looked both ways before waving behind her and them to follow her. They slipped in and out a warren of tunnels in much the same way until they finally came to one, and Ryli held up her hand; this is the exit that leads out into the open. I don't know if she knows about it or not. It's likely that she doesn't, but she was my friend, and it's possible that she's seen me exit it once or twice if she ever paid attention while I was doing my job."
"So, you're saying she could have blocked it or trapped it."
"Could have, but I'm not sure if she's that smart; she probably thinks she's pinned us in and can do what she wants. Though she might have set the dens defenses to go off if there are any intruders. That she isn't too stupid not to do."
"Well, nothing for it then, but to chance it. I'll take point. You and Asaa stay behind me. That way, I can make a shield; even with the baubles I made, I don't need to waste them unnecessarily."
They nodded in agreement, and Ryli moved back behind him after hitting the sequence to open the door.
Davern looked out into the dimly lit area. He could see crud huts, made of whatever could be cobbled together, tattered strips of leather and tufts of grass, glued together with bits of mud and sand. Several huts had rows of long rawhide thongs with bone beads knotted on them, covering the entrances.
He activated his mana eyes, and looked around, not that he thought it would do much good, goblins didn't tend to use many magic traps, but it might help him detect slight disturbance and avoid them. He also cast a low-grade shield spell that would protect them against projectiles and fire damage.
He snuck out of the door and noted that there were still bubbling cauldrons and spits roasting, some kind of animals, over the central fire. The Shaman must have dropped everything and just come when Dugger and Gabs had come to tell him about what had happened.
They moved past it and with signs; Ryli pointed the way to several larger huts at the far end of the encampment. He swore they were out in the open and quite a ways from them.
Davern paused, scanning the ground, looking for anything that had been disturbed, and Ryli tapped his arm, pointing out several places indicating where she knew there were traps.
Asaa produced a potion and with a gust of wind blew it out across the open camp; the fine dust caught and exposed several lines as thin as spiders silk, almost invisible to the naked eye, that crisscrossed the open spaces and lead to a series of different triggers, and various traps.
"Good one, Asaa," grinned at her, then went back to studying the landscape, perking his ears to hear the faintest sounds.
"Which one is The Summoners' house? Ryli pointed towards the larger and more ostentatious of the two larger huts. He knew that the guy had an ego. Now he could see where his supposedly shy daughter got her attitude. Even if it wasn't hers, she would still feel stilted because she'd had the best even in these troubled living conditions.
He knew that goblin dens didn't always look like this either. Depending on the tribe, goblins could have rather sophisticated living quarters, but they'd been beaten down like the other races, living in squalor. He wondered just how much each of their histories had been lost.
They'd been moving forward at a snail's pace, careful not to disturb the filaments or trigger any traps. They'd carefully avoided most of the traps and were almost to The Summoners hut when they heard a commotion, and one of the livestock got loose and began rampaging through the camp.
They froze, then heard Dugger, "I told you, I don't feel that way about you Gabs, now let me go. The Shaman made his decision for a reason, I'm sure once you know it everything will be okay."
"Why are you always taking her side!"
"I'm not! I just think you're being unreasonable."
"Unreasonable? I'm being unreasonable? A filthy Scavenger was just handed everything we've worked for and you think I'm being unreasonable? Well, I'll should you Unreasonable."
"Gabs? What are you doing? Put that down! No! STOP. Arrg..."
"Is that unreasonable enough for you?"
"Open your mouth. I'm going to give you a little something my papa said might help me. I said I wouldn't need it, but you know what. I think I don't care anymore. All I hear out of your mouth is, Ryli this, and Ryli that do you even care about me? Now open your mouth."