The day’s light waned as the rowing competition came to a close. The standings were updated on a large board visible to everyone in the stadium, and even the houses outside. CrIsis seemed to be all at the top of the lists, but an entrant named Joe still commanded the lead. They retrieved their weapons, and Tyvernos noticed malevolent glances from the point leader…
The five adventurers made their exhausted way back to the Groff estate, excited for the next day, and for a full night’s sleep.
The next morning brought rain and thunder, forewarning of the upcoming night’s events. Ja’Deir woke to the soft whispering rain on the balcony outside his room. He sighed contentedly, as rain reminded him of Xarys, high in mist-covered mountains to the north. He luxuriated in the chilly bathwater till the sun cleared the horizon. “Freakishly early games! Why don’t they just draw it out a few extra weeks and start two hours later? That way we could have parties every night.”
He made his way to the dining room, where Overkill was asking in his boistrous pirate voice, ‘’YAAARG! Oy, Mikala! We five be needin’ Magical Chests to stow our Booty! Have ye such, LandLubber though ye Be?’’
The look of pain on the scarred elf’s face was evident even through his mangled features. “not so loud…” he pleaded in a whisper. ‘’yes, we have something. we’ll keep your belongings safe. we could also put your things in the family vault, but you would have to talk to Elanu about that. he’s on the veranda. now go, please.’’
The dwarf made his sealegged, jaunty way to Elanu, who was drinking a mokaffe tea, an ancient elven remedy for headaches. This was lost on him, and he slapped the elf on the back when he approached. “Elanu, matey! We be needin’ use of her strongbox to stow our booty! We’ve not any need of theivery or trickery at the games by any lillylivered worshipers of the dAARRRRk.”
“aaaaaack! clap your trap! yes, yes, you can have it, just go. please.” Mikala said, clutching his head.
CrIsis stowed their precious equipment in the Groff state, and hurried to the arena, almost too late to get in. The games kicked off, and it was barely organized chaos. Hundreds of people milling about, in the stands, around the track, around all of the field events. Dozens of people throwing heavy plates called Discus, launching javelins, tossing enormous trees, jumping from the horns of bulls, lifting enromous weights.
It shocked Ja’Deir that a human could possibly beat a Minotaur in such an event, but Elanu, feeling much better, explained that the event isn’t simply lifting, but it’s in the method that they lift, the proper technique. The lifter would place themselves with the bar under their feet. They would bend their knees, making sure their backs were straight, and bring the weight to their thighs as they stood back up. They then had to bring the weight to their chests in a tricky little maneuver by popping it up with their thighs, and flexing their hips under them, tightening all of the muscles from their core down, until it rested on their chests. With a strength step forward, positioning the hips properly, and fully exerting the upper body strength, they threw the weight skyward, until their arms were extended, and the weight rested in their palms. All of this took only a few seconds, and if they did not perform proper procedure they failed.
Outside of the trials, Ja’Deir and Tyvernos had a very unrelated adventure. They went to a money changer so that Tyvernos could place a wager or two on his travelling companions. Using the Eye of Truth that he got in Aracho, the Gnome saw a Raksasha demon conversing with one of the entrants – the points leader, Joe. He whispered to Ja’Deir, “can you read my thoughts?” The Ashada leaned down and affirmed, “I can also talk to you telepathically.”
The Gnome thought, “Perfect!” He then started to think in rapid-fire of a tiger wobbling around on his hind legs, and dressed up by a child in over-large clothes like a pet tabby, and drinking tea, and then of mountaineering with the child’s mother who turns out to be a saucy serving wench, which made his thought processes go to other places that made Ja’Deir’s hair stand on end in embarassment. His thoughts then turn back to the funny tiger, and then he thought of a little man all in red with a sinuous tail and an evil pitchfork, dancing in flames.
“Raksasha? And… Mountain climbing?” Ja’Deir asked telepathically.
The miniature man winked at ja’Deir and pointed surrepetitiously at a man talking to Joe, and pictured the man in his thoughts, making his nose bulbous, and his buttocks huge and haunchy, and putting him into a Haven Gondolier’s outfit. The real version seemed very average to Ja’Deir, though he guessed that it was because if you’re going to pose as someone, you don’t want to be remembered or recognized.
“Do you know why a Raksasha would be here?” Ja’Deir asked, to which Tyvernos returned a confused answer. He then thought of a scene with a squirrel chittering and following a street cat, but out of sight of the cat so’s he didn’t get caught. Then he thought of a dog following with a breathtakingly handsome man laying astride its back, picking wildflowers shirtless and tossing them to the hordes of busty women following in his trail, but also managing to stay out of sight of the mangy, felonious feline. The remainder of the thoughts took no more than a few seconds, though it was always infested by a buck-toothed flying beaver, and a godly-handsome gnome, and breasts on everyone, even said beaver. It was roughly as such. “let’s stay within range — if you can make yourself invisible psionically — or unobtrusive — that’s better. If not, we shouldn’t be seen together — ESPECIALLY because a gnome and a f#%king st. bernard are FAMOUS for being members of CrIsis — I would inadvertently draw attention / suspicion to you — lesser known newer member of CrIsis…savvy?” And so on.
Ja’Deir laughed audibly several times throughout the rapid-fire thoughts, which spooked the Raksasha, and he high-tailed his humanoid butt out of the arena. The mind mage, deific vessel, and air warlock made their inconspicuous way out of the crowds as well, and followed the feindish feline to an apothecary or alchemist’s shop, or something else of obvious ill repute.
Tyvernos started to channel the divine to turn the trio into seagulls to keep an eye on the building, and Ja’Deir meditated on the future in reguard to the Raksasha. He came up with only one image, one of Elanu screaming in pain. Ja’Deir was turned last into a seagull, after a distraught looking saint bernard-gull and an outlandishly small seagull. Bonnie and Clyde bravely ran away to their homey hidey holes in the Groff Estate, most likely to steal some of the fantastic family silver, or tin hair pins, or copper pieces. It’s all shiny to them, after all.
A few hours of absolute boredom later, an old woman came out of the shop. She looked extremely kind-faced, and Ja’Deir knew instinctively that if he were hurt or sick, this is the person to turn to for chicken soup and a warm bed and all-around pampering. Tyvernos, however, wasn’t as convinced. The three birds followed silently as the old woman went to a nearly empty marketplace. Though he learned later that it was a horrible mistake, the young, impulsive ashada made Tyvernos go back to Elanu, to keep an eye on that end. If only he’d had Tyvernos’ instincts on the granny.
Back at the booth, a small uproar was caused by the two members of CrIsis as they told Mikala, and their dates were unecessarily worried. Irritation showed on Elanu’s face, along with a haughty self-assuredness that comes from being the most powerful man in the city. He muttered unconcernedly to his guardsmen about keeping their eyes out, and doubling the entourage’s guards.
After a long day of physical exhibitions, CrIsis went straight back to the manor to soak in hot baths, except for the dynamic duo in the private box, that glided along softly and invisibly behind Elanu and Mikala, keeping an eye out for any sign of mischeif. Their efforts were rewarded, when invisible assailants seemed to make Mikala disappear, and then reappear. They followed, and were lead to the same shop where the Raksasha went earlier in the day. As the invisibles approached, the old granny nonchalantly opened the door, stepped into the street, and looked around casually, like a normal granny would, but it was too well timed to be happenstance. BLAST YOU and your deceptive kindly eyes, old crone!!
Scene change; Groff Estate – Evening
Stage split between three private suites, focused on the baths. Xerx’ses, Overkill, and Indaris relaxing in steaming water, clean clothes set aside, servants waiting with boiling water to freshen the baths.
OOooh, this water is Mooooooovelous.
Oh, Yes, it be that by t’under. Shivver me timbers an’ call me sally but it be.
After a bath like this, I’ll definitely be ready for tomo
All three jump out of the water with yelps, a girlish one coming from the PRIEST. OVERKILL, nude, grabs his magic sword, Callandor.
What was that? It felt like the water froze for a second! Didst thou feel thusly as well?
Yes, I did! I’m checking my rOOOOooom for traps, I suggest you dOOOooo the same!
They scour their rooms for traps, and OVERKILL starts slashing at the water of his tub, clearly flustered at the unforseen attack. Indaris throws talcum powder, saying —
Surely, if there be demons about, made invisible by magic most foul, I shall find them with this!!
Oh, blast, now it smelleth like a nursery!
I found a trap on mooOOOOoy tub, evil, frooOOOoozen mMMmagics!
I hath found the same, brother! Hold where thou art, I shall come to thee, and we shall investigate the villain that attacketh the hands of the Gods!
Spotlights illuminate the individual rooms, and the trio each run to a different room, OVERKILL to Xerx’ses’, INDARIS to Overkill’s, and XERX’SES to Indaris’. Then they leave, and shuffle again. Antics ensue, until INDARIS pulls the running minotaur and dwarf into Xerx’ses’ room.
THERE! Now we shall investigate!
They all three search and find a secret door to a previously thought empty room.
INT. HIDDEN ROOM – EVE.
AVAST! Lilly-livered villains be fleein’ like clippers under full sail and tropical tail-wind!
Battle ensues, enemies try to escape through —
TRAP DOOR – EVE
And are taken down.
ENTER TYVERNOS and JA’DEIR, returned from their protection detail, soaked and muddied from the night’s storm.
Hey, dudes, what’s happening? We were, uh, like totally following these invisible guys that full-out attacked Mikala, and followed them back to their hide out. If we’d have known you were having a nudist party, we’d have come, no problem, man!
OVERKILL (embarassed, still nude)
Forget me skin n’ skivvies, lad! Thar be sharks in these here waters! We be set upon by low-life bilgerats n’ pirates in this here barge! They’ve plundered me chests an’ looted ‘em cleen! Help us find the villain that be after CrIsis, and who be lettin’ them into the manor!
Oh, my! Brutish brigands set upon us? NO! My beautiful, brilliantly-baubled acoutremants! ACK!
I shall check the litrine.
EXIT TYVERNOS and JA’DEIR. Spotlight follows XERX’SES, OVERKILL, and INDARIS, who jump down the trap door, to the ground floor, and search for more invisible foes. Opening door after door, seeing a janitor, a baker, a young lover’s couple, etc…
INDARIS spreads the word of attack to all, saying —
The house of thine lord is set upon by forces of the beast, that great jackal, ANUBIS! Find the guards, and get thine self to safety!
JA’DEIR, muttering softly to himself, scrubbing his hands, face, clothes, tools, unconvinced he’s doing any good. After cleaning everything, he starts back on his hands, then face, and continues.
Dim spotlights follow the quest of INDARIS, OVERKILL, and XERX’SES, while the focus is on TYVERNOS, who left the hidden room, distracted by a noise in Indaris’ room. He sniffs the air,
Babies? Why does Indaris have babies in his roo—
TYVERNOS opens door, and beastly hands reach around it to swipe at him.
YIPES!!! F*$K THAT $#!7…
TYVERNOS Casts a few spells over his shoulder as he runs for the guards and the rest of CrIsis.
XERX’SES, INDARIS, and OVERKILL return to the hallway, entering stage left seconds after TYVERNOS exits, stage right.
(feral growls continue, more noise from INDARIS’ room)
What fel beast is in my room? Hence, brethren! We shall vanquish the foes!
Battle ensues. XERX’SES and OVERKILL leave after fight, Exit stage right. Indaris recovers Oathbringer, and starts destroying evil artifacts on the corpse.
Meanwhile, TYVERNOS meets up with a guard, and sends him off to the defense of the estate. He continues searching for CrIsis, and finds Elanu at the dinner table.
>*FADE IN, TYVERNOS*
ELANU, seated at the table in the dining hall, sobbing.
Master Elanu, vile, villainous vermin have infiltrated your impregnable stronghold of a house and have set upon us! Help us while we vanquish them and set aright your magnanimous household as a bastion of glory and light to the gods and to the testimony of Family Groff!
ELANU (between sobs and sniffles)
It is all your fault! You are in league with the dark! Mikala has been taken, and my house is fallen! There would never have been such if you and your ilk hadn’t been here! LEAVE! You are no longer welcome.
Ah….. If you wish, but it is not our fault this has happened. It is the Dark’s fault. They are the enemies here, not us. But I shall gather my friends.
TYVERNOS exit stage left.
INT. INDARIS, in the BEDROOM, with the MACE – EVE
JA’DEIR enters, freshly scrubbed. INDARIS seems to be in pain, going over the evil trinkets on the corpse. JA’DEIR examines the trinkets, but is unable to get anything as to the location of more enemies. (Ad Lib)
TYVERNOS enters, and explains Elanu’s eviction, and Mikala’s kidnapping. JA’DEIR Tries again to find the location of the sequestered Prime Minister, nothing. (Ad Lib)
EXT. GROFF ESTATE – NIGHT
INT. ELANU, in the DINING ROOM, with the WINE GLASS – NIGHT
CRISIS enters, with bags packed.
Knowest thou, esteemed brother, that it isn’t fault of the light that which the Dark does! We were not the reason for thine hardship, and knowest thou that thine strength shall grow from such trial and tribulation! And Verily, I say unto thee that THOW KNEWEST such attacks mightest have happened when thou tookest us in.
I guess you’re right, but it is such a tragedy! What do we do now? Do we wait? WHAT, PRIEST, DO WE DO NOW??
We find the sinners in thine house, and burn the chaff.
CRISIS puts bags down, and splits up, in teams of twos, with XERX’SES staying in the room with ELANU.
INT. JA’DEIR and INDARIS, in the HALLWAY, with the CANDLESTICK – NIGHT
Ja’Deir and Indaris search the house for more invisible foes, and work on bringing all of them outside to a funerary pyre. They find a small object underneath a bed, and Ja’Deir, after cleaning it vigorously, puts it into his pocket.
INT. XERX’SES, in the DINING ROOM, with the ARROW – NIGHT
XERX’SES sits at the table with ELANU.
Elanu, do you have anything of Mikala’s with which we might see him, or find him?
Yes, in fact I do. But I am not sure how much help it will be. He gave it to me centuries ago, after the Defilers vanquished their foes.
ELANU Exit stage right, returns with an arrow glowing red.
This is a magic arrow, and it might help us!
If I am correct, that’s a RUNE Arrow! Here, may I hold it?
Yes, but be careful. It doesn’t take kindly to all that hold it. Even me.
XERX’SES picks up the arrow, and starts to examine it. He thinks a question,
VOICE (from off stage)
I am not Mikala, though he was my bonded many years ago. I see the good in you, but you are not worthy to hold me.
XERX’SES (to ELANU)
He says I am not worthy of him… but that he could see the good in my heart… Is there one that could handle such an arrow?
Yes, I think I know someone who could bond with it. I shall go and find him.
I will stay here. I’ll ask moOoy comMmpanions if they woOod like toOo acoOomMmpany yoOou.
XERX’SES Exit stage left, goes to Tyvernos, who jumps up and down, and hurriedly runs into the dinning room. TYVERNOS, ELANU, and GUARDS leave into the night.
EXT. GROFF ESTATES – NIGHT
INDARIS and JA’DEIR perform the last rights on the intruder’s corpses, JA’DEIR teaches INDARIS some mudras as they pray over the dead..
ENTER ELANU, stage right.
We found someone to hold the arrow, and shall find Mikala! Please, help me have more faith, Priest!
Gladly, my son. Lets go to the Temple of the Lady. I think you are ready to catechise into her fold! Come, Ja’Deir!
EXIT JA’DEIR, INDARIS, ELANU stage right.
END of ACT I
A CLUE-filled Night at Mystery Groff Manor.
Picture: Daily Track Pic files at WordPress