07.07x2: Mage Towers

The goings on of courts
Rasanam
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07.07x2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Rasanam paused to talk in a tiny alcove under a bridge - out of sight of any foot traffic that didn't happen to use exactly the same path, and out of the gently falling snow. When Lyra tells him she's ready, Rasanam pulls her through the trump connection into Akra - and into a hug and a kiss. That lasts only a moment before he gets down to business (though he's still smiling).

"So, from talking to Morganna, there are three keys to doing this: keep moving, maintain mental focus on your goal, and focus on current details - picking something to either change, or to keep the same as you move from one 'shadow'* to the next. I'm going to try getting rid of this snow, first, clear up the paths and make it easier to keep moving. Ready whenever you are!"

_____
* Rasanam is clearly not entirely comfortable with the term 'shadow' - he tends to prefer terms like 'plane', equating multiple realities to concepts he's already familiar with.
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Joshua
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Joshua »

(OOC: I am allowing Rasanam's player to run this scene. It's his hellride, and I trust his judgement. This would hold true for anyone currently active in this game. Which I mentioned here.)
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Lyra responds, "Keep moving, maintain mental focus, and focus on details. Got it. So we picture the path ahead as it is only without snow to start?"

"Exactly; I'm told this is... sortof the mental equivalent of muscle memory, easiest to learn by doing." And on that note, Rasanam starts moving, heading out from under the bridge. The snow stops falling almost immediately, but what's on the ground already stays there. Lyra keeps a firm hold on Rasanam's hand as she keeps pace, concentrating first on a clear path before them.

They turn a corner, onto a path that's been cleared of snow recently, heading under another bridge - on the far side, the sky is clear - and (though Rasanam doesn't notice it), this makes visible the first clear sign that you're not in the same world: the floating island in the middle of Acra harbor isn't there anymore. A few more turns and the snow shifts to sand as the two Amberites cross a low bridge over a rock garden; the air temperature and scent of flowers indicating that they've moved from winter into spring. And this is where Rasanam pauses, commenting "If we were home, this would be the guest wing of my mother's place..."

"Huh, that seems about right. This is pretty incredible."

Rasanam nods. "I picked a place I knew to start. Wanted to see what I could do. Still... this doesn't feel very 'fast', and we are a bit short on time. Let's see if we can shift things a bit faster..." He starts moving again, keeping the bridge the same as the scene flickers from rock garden to real garden to pool to leaf-clogged and overgrown, with the gate out rusted and hanging open.

"This is so strange traveling to someplace but not really knowing where it is you're heading," Lyra comments.

"Yeah; the interesting question is..." And Lyra chimes in, speaking in unison, "How do we know when we get there?"
Rasanam kinda blinks, and leads the two of them out of the gate and into one of the main streets of shadow-Acra. "I'm told," he comments, completely ignoring the raggedly-dressed humans looting a mansion on the other side of the street, "that it's a matter of 'feel' - that we'll know when we're there." Off in the distance, it's visible that, of the seven mage towers Acra is supposed to have, one lies in ruins, and the other six are surrounded by very visible wards - black clouds, red lightning, a simple amber energy field, that sort of thing.

"Well if we're looking for a new head for the Mage guild, I suppose we can head in that direction and see what we can find." Lyra gestures towards the towers.

Rasanam looks up, seeming to notice the changed skyline for the first time. "That's... almost surreal. But, sure, seems as good a direction as any," and he heads off down the street towards the tower shrouded in red lightning. A few of the looters turn to follow, brandishing makeshift weapons and muttering about uppity nobles - and Rasanam just starts running, apparently intending to simply avoid conflict. The world flickers around the two of them - a few steps, and the sky is slashed with ribbons of color from five warring mage towers, and guards in ragged grey uniforms are chasing in place of the looters. Then green uniforms, as Rasanam turns down a side street, and points to a spot where a first story roof stands intact amongst wrecked mansions; a single jump takes him up to the edge. Lyra, by contrast, easily makes it all the way to the roof and hauls Rasanam up, and - a moment later - guards in red uniforms rush by without looking up.
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Lyra laughs quietly watching the guards pass by. "That was fun. I had been thinking of confronting them but you said Morgana's advice was to keep moving." She looks back to the tower that was surrounded in red lightning...

"Yeah; I figured it was better to avoid if we could..." Rasanam glances back down at the street, and then asks, "Since when can I make that sort of jump?"

"Maybe you've just always been that good and just never noticed since I doubt you went leaping about the roofs of Acra very much. But likely it's simply a result of going to Amber."

"Maybe... I think I'm going to need to spend some time, figure out where my limits are now; If I'd thought about that jump, I would never have made it. ...Anyway, keep moving." Rasanam heads off along the roof, the city flickering madly about the two Amberites. A jump takes them to the roof of a temple; as they approach a second, much larger jump, gravity cuts out entirely, and Rasanam pauses again - floating a few feet above the roof. "Oh. The ethereal plane. That makes sense." The environment around isn't much of a city anymore - a handful of broken buildings drift in a chaotic sky, filled with swirls of various elements, while the single tower dead ahead looms ever larger, red lightning still arcing around it.

Lyra shifts reflexively to dragon form, due to the lack of ground, and looks around a bit, flapping her wings to hover in place (because that's how these things work, right?) "Why would it make sense that we're in the Ethereal plane?"

"Because one of the things I put in my image of who we're looking for is that he needs to be able to fit into our world at least relatively seamlessly. I mean, if we just show up in Acra with someone who has access to the highest levels of conventional magic... people are going to wonder why they've never heard of him. I'd been sortof thinking of finding someone who'd been petrified for a while, but the Ethereal plane works too, because biology doesn't really function here. Which makes it a great place to do some arcane research without the distractions of, say, eating, or sleeping. Or aging. ...Or healing, for that matter. Not a great place to be without some sort of magical healing."

"Wow, ok. I hadn't thought of those details but that makes perfect sense."

"Yeah. So," the various buildings vanish as Rasanam floats forward and past them, until it's just the tower right in front of the two Amberites, "I figure we're probably going to find some cranky wizard that's been working on... something, for way too long. And, I think we're here." He pauses a moment, then floats up to knock on the door.
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Lyra lands and blocks the door with a wing as Rasanam reaches for it. Quickly shifting back to her Elven form she says, "Let me check it to be safe. There still could be traps." She begins checking for trigger mechanisms and comments, "I hope it's not a cranky old wizard. We need someone who's charismatic I think." Turning back to her husband she smiles "Someone with my charm and your magical genius would do nicely!"

Rasanam backs off and lets Lyra do her thing with the door. "As long as they've got what it takes to keep the Ruby guild in line, I don't much care if we find a talking frog."

Lyra's investigations reveal that there is a trap on the door - it's a magical one, but still well within Lyra's ability to disarm. Inside is a twisting maze-like path, filled with more traps (many already disabled or destroyed), as well as a number of broken constructs (apparently used to help find / disable traps by some previous expedition) and shattered undead (apparently having acted as guardians for the tower). And while the traps seem simple and obvious (at least to Lyra) now, she can figure out that most of them would have just been flat out lethal before her trip to Amber...

Rasanam spends a bit of time looking over some of the broken constructs while Lyra makes sure the path forward is safe; he even makes a few sketches, but doesn't bother collecting any parts.

The final chamber contains a single sarcophagus-like chest (closed), greasy stains on the wails in the silhouettes of unfortunate people (or possibly human-shaped constructs or undead, as well as one fair-sized dragon) that apparently did not survive whatever final trap was set on the sarcophagus... and one broken humanoid body, smashed up against the far wall, blood glistening and un-congealed. It's breathing, but only barely.

Lyra looks a bit apprehensive at seeing the scene. She makes her way forward slowly and cautiously, her gaze continually returning to the figure at the far wall. "I... could someone still be alive after all of this? These traps are no joke. I really really hope whatever we're looking for isn't in that sarcophagus... I'm not really a fan of undead."

Rasanam frowns, and tosses off a quick spell before looking around the room. "Hm... I don't think there are any undead left here; whoever came through last made a pretty clean sweep, though... I don't really like those shadows on the walls; it wouldn't be that hard to animate them as part of a trap. As for surviving..." He follows Lyra around the room, "I don't see why not? You don't heal, here, but you won't bleed to death, either."

"Well then let's check on that person over there. I'd really rather not mess with that thing," Lyra makes a quick gesture at the sarcophagus, "if we don't have to." After Rasanam's mention of it, Lyra pays quite a bit more attention to the ominous shadows.
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

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Rasanam nods, and takes a few moments to cast one of his prepared healing spells. (Four lynchpins, so it takes a good 20-30 seconds to cast). And then immediately backs off and turns away, blushing, as the spell resolves the shattered figure into an attractive (if still somewhat blood-soaked) and very definitely female half-dragon*. A moment later and he's holding out his cloak to her, gaze still averted.

For about two seconds she doesn't even seem to register the offered cloak, looking straight ahead with a wide-eyed, slightly dazed expression - which is all the time it takes for Lyra to step up, taking the cloak and actually wrapping it around the half-dragon girl. In a soft soothing voice Lyra says, "Don't worry, you're safe and among friends."

The girl kindof gives herself a shake, and her eyes snap back into focus. "I... thank you, I owe you my life. I am Ruby. But.." she looks at Rasanam, who's still turned away, "Why did you heal me? Did you need help unlocking Rath's** cache? I did not have much luck with that the first time, though I think I know what I did wrong..."

Rasanam just shakes his head, "You were injured but alive. Why wouldn't I heal you?"

Lyra looks over at her husband at the revelation of the girl's name before turning back to her and nodding in agreement to Rasanam's answer. "I'm Lyra and this is my husband Rasanam. You wouldn't happen to be an accomplished Mage would you, Ruby?"

______
* Elf / half red dragon, if you're curious. Wings, tail, clawed hands and feet, some patches of red scales on mostly tanned skin; basic build is at least ballpark-similar to this image.
** Rath is a rather famous wizard, if you're from the World of Wonders - he's the one responsible for creating the wonders in question - and in the process so angered the world's reigning deity that "The One" left the world in disgust (conveniently making room for a rather more varied collection of gods in the current day). At least, that's how the story goes. And what happened to Rath himself? Well, he's not around anymore - but whether The One destroyed him, or locked him up in one of his Wonders, or something else entirely... the tales do not agree.
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

"Because you couldn't know what I'd do," Ruby replies to Rasanam first. "I mean, if I were my father," she gestures at the shadow of a dragon on the walls, adding much more quietly, "may his soul rest in peace… - well, he would not have hesitated to kill the both of you, or worse." To Lyra, she says, "Yes, though… this trap seems to have ripped away all the spells I had prepared. And destroyed my spellbook, along with..." she pulls the cloak a bit tighter about herself, and doesn't finish that thought, instead continuing, "If I could ask for one favor, it would be the chance to look through Rath's spellbook once it's recovered."

Lyra's gaze turns to the shadow as well and she says a brief silent prayer to Eilistraee for his soul as well, finishing with a quiet, "I'm sorry for your loss" to Ruby, before continuing with the discussion at hand. "There's a chance we can get it open and remain unharmed. If the spellbook is in there I'm sure we can work something out. I'm sure Rasanam would like to see it as well but I'm not sure we have a great need or use for it in the long run. I'm actually more interested in you than anything in that coffin." Lyra smiles and tires to look as non-threatening as possible.

Ruby gives Lyra a slightly wary look, and then shakes her head. "I owe you my life; if there is something I can do to repay that debt, do not hesitate to ask."

"We have a need for someone to take over leadership of the Ruby Guild," Lyra says, "Someone with the talent and power to lead with authority and restore some sense of morality to their pursuit of magic."

"That's my..." Ruby pauses, frowning, and then asks, "What year is it?"
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

"998," Rasanam replies. "How long have you been here?"

"Since 446, so... over five hundred years..." Ruby trails off for a moment, before giving herself another shake, her face settling into a more determined expression. "Right then. And, no, I won't count taking back my guild and any necessary 'cleanup' as paying you back - that's something I'd do anyway."

"Alright. Well that was our main purpose in coming here; to find a replacement for Scion. If you're able to help keep the more deplorable elements in the city in check, that's all we ask for." Lyra looks over at the Sarcophagus and then to Rasanam. "Shall I go take a look at that?"

Rasanam nods, "Might as well, since we're here."

Lyra takes the lead on disarming the room's traps, assisted by Ruby. Several layers of magical wards around the sarcophagus fall away, before Lyra backs off, commenting, "I think I'll need some magical assistance from here. I really need more practice with it." She points out the remaining magical protection she's detected. "Did I miss anything?" she asks, addressing the question to both mages in the room.

Rasanam looks over the final magical protections, and says, "Hm... Shouldn't be too hard to take that apart, but that would take a good half hour to craft the right spell; easier for me to just trigger it once the two of you are out of the room."

Ruby looks up, "Wait. Craft spells? How...?"

Rasanam shakes his head. "I can show you later; right now we're in a bit of a hurry."

Lyra turns to him. "We have to leave the room but you're staying here to take the full brunt is something goes wrong? I'd rather be here to help shield you if it comes to that. It's all a moot point since you're great at this sort of thing so it'll be fine and I'd rather have the chance to see what you're doing in person anyway." She looks over at Ruby. "We can back away a bit but I'm not leaving."
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Rasanam blinks. "I wasn't planning on letting it hit me at all; I just don't know how to extend that particular protection*... but... fine, we're probably not that pressed for time. Let's make this a lesson, then." And he spends half an hour crafting an Amber-style counterspell, with commentary to Lyra on what he's doing and why. Ruby boggles - she's used to the World of Wonders' local magic system**, and what Rasanam is doing is well beyond that.

Once that spell has stripped off the last layers of magical defenses, Rasanam takes a step back, and gestures to Ruby, "Should be safe to open it now."

Inside the sarcophagus are a number of items - Ruby's initial interest is just in the spellbook; she takes that out and ignores the rest.
Lyra looks over her shoulder for a few minutes - long enough to be sure that any remaining traps on the spellbook (and there are a few) are within Ruby's skill to deal with - and then walks back over and puts an arm around her husband.

After some time of study (including a quick preparation of a cantrip to clean the blood off of herself - and off of Rasanam's cloak, which she's still wearing), Ruby sighs, and mutters, "All this effort and it's not even the right spellbook..."

Rasanam, by contrast, spends the time going through the other items:
  • A plain black staff that seems to absorb light. "Staff of Unmaking? Lots of destructive magic in this thing. And countermagic. If we'd had this, it would have made short work of that last trap..."
  • A black robe with gold trim, sized for a human male. "Robe of the Archmagi - black, so it's only usable by an evil wearer. ...Or someone capable of fooling its magic; not that difficult a task, really."
  • A pair of glasses with ruby lenses. "Glasses of True Sight - lets the wearer see through illusions, as well as the true form of shapeshifted creatures. ...Or at least, those that are magically shapeshifted; I've tested this sort of thing before, and it doesn't help with the abilities you or Alys have demonstrated."
  • And several more minor items - all powerful, but not especially interesting. They get increasingly laconic descriptions from Rasanam, until eventually he sums up with, "All local magic - impressive stuff, but it wouldn't work in Amber."
  • And the last item is a small metal jar set with gems and runes. "Liches' phylactery. Doesn't seem to be in active use, though? Odd. Still tempting to just smash it now."
"Hmm, that might be safest," Lyra replies after the last item. "So long as it isn't the lynchpin keeping this entire place from imploding or something similarly unpleasant."

"Doesn't seem to be? But I suppose that could be a function of the place rather than the item." Rasanam shrugs. "Should be safe enough to just leave it here, or smash it right as we depart."
"In the meantime," he looks over at Ruby, "The rest of this stuff is yours if you want it; there's nothing here we need. And yes, that includes the spellbook - though, as Lyra mentioned, I will want to take a look at it at some point."

Ruby looks up from the spellbook, and pauses to formulate an appropriate response - settling, after a few moments, on a simple "Thank you."
_____
* Pattern defense is useful! But won't save your companions from doomy spells of doom.
** Pathfinder magic system, if you're curious. D&D style, spell levels vary from zero to nine (on which scale the thing Rasanam is casting is probably an eleven), inventing custom spells takes months rather than being something you can do in the same half an hour you're spending casting the thing, etc.
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Re: 07.08?2: Mage Towers

Post by Rasanam »

Ruby collects the assorted items; Rasanam averts his eyes again as Ruby puts on the robe (which, being the sort of magic item it is, adjusts itself to conform to the wearer - including holes for Ruby's tail and wings). "I'll want to find one in grey eventually," Ruby comments, "But this will work for now - and if there's trouble to be resolved, this may help with some needed intimidation..."

Lyra goes over to Ruby and offers, "I know it'll take some time settling into things when we get back to the city so if there's anything I can do to help, let me know. I run a shop of sorts in town catering to anyone not quite human and can likely supply or acquire anything you might want or need."

"That would be nice," Ruby replies. "I don't imagine my favorite shopkeepers will still be around. A guide would be useful, thank you."

((Much OOC discussion excised; some IC discussion glossed over, mostly on the matter of what path to take back to Acra; the eventual decision being to use Lyra's card for the World of Wonders, as it's less of a public place than Rasanam's, and trumping in upside down is not a good first impression for someone who's supposed to be intimidating enough to take over the Ruby guild.))

Lyra will pull out her card depicting the temple of Eilistraee and, after they all join hands, she gets a far off look in her eyes for a moment before scenery completely changes with a multicolored flash to the beautiful panoramic overlook of Acra from the central tower of the Temple of EIlistraee.Turning to Ruby, she says "Welcome home" as she quickly replaces the card in the deck and the deck somewhere hidden on her person.

Ruby stands up and looks around, flexing her wings. "This is... going to take some getting used to. The streets are all different. ...Well, not literally all, but..."

Rasanam asks Lyra, "If you're going to be helping Ruby for a bit, would you like me to go let Nate know we're back? Maybe retrieve your cards while I'm there - or do we want to let him keep those for now?"

"He can keep them, that's fine but it'd be good to let him know we're back. You can take some time working on engineering I suppose while Ruby gets reacquainted with the city and when you're ready, we can all head over to the guild together. Just apologize for me for leaving our chess game hanging even longer."

"Will do." Rasanam takes out a card, and then vanishes in the standard rainbow spark effect.

((End chat log.))
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