After the 3rd hour I am shaken by my daydreaming thoughts of furry embraces by the rumble of thunder yet again… but instead of lightning the noise is followed by a crashing shriek of metal on metal as the setting prop sun in the sky stops moving and the rising prop moon crashes into it, causing bits of the sun to crumble and fall to the ground in yellow chunks of wood and metal.
“By Celestian… look at the sky!” Lenata calls out as the sky turns blood red and the moon begins to grow.
I am more concerned, however, with the increasing number of moaning sounds as the ground around us shifts from the sheer number of zombies starting to come out of it.
“This way!” yells Ef Utan as he holds up the collection of tokens pulling towards the east. With a blast of golden light Lenata clears a momentary path through the zombies as her divine light crumbles them to dust around us, and we all run to keep up with Ef Utan as he charges past the thorns and grasping hands of the undead.
With a quick thought I pull “The Eclipse” card from my sash and whisper a prayer to any god that might be listening that it helps. Instead of the usual sparkling lights, however, a single ball of light forms in the clearing ahead and shoots straight into the moon, causing it to begin to crack and crumble. That’s it! “We have to destroy the moon!” I yell to the others before I pull a Potion of Tumbling from my pack and gulp it down in the hopes that it will help me dodge their cold touch of death.
Vedis and Lenata do their best to launch attacks at the moon with missiles of light and fire while the rest of us keep the ever growing zombie swarm away. Suddenly a large chunk of the moon falls and crushes a particularly fast zombie that had its eye on Ef Utan (figuratively, folks). I look up and notice that the moon is not only missing a few pieces… but it’s beginning to spark as fissures spread through what is left.
“Get ready to duck!” I yell out in warning as the moon explodes into fragments and rains down debris. Lenata thankfully manages to dodge out of the way thanks to the auspices of her god I am sure… but Vedis seems to have a rather stubborn zombie holding on to her ankle. I curse profusely in Abyssal as I focus on the Maenad and manage to switch places with her just in time to roll out of the way of a jagged piece of metal that imbeds itself into the unlucky zombie (are there lucky zombies?) with a thud.
As the dust of the moon finally settles, I look around with relief to see that everyone seems to be okay… and that the zombies have stilled and returned to their graves. Except… wait a minute…
“Shit! We must have lost him when we ran from the zombies!” Ef Utan replies.
“We have to go back for him!” Lenata pleads. “He could still be alive!”
The ground shakes around us with the echo of a loud WHOMP.
“I have to say it,” says Ef Utan, WHOMP – WHOMP “but I think we’ve got bigger concerns WHOMP right now.”
Trees crash down to the ground east of us as the thumping noise increases and large mechanical legs storm through the brambles bringing the Walking Castle into view for the first time. I pull the self-named card that I had been saving for this occasion from my sash and play it as the sparkling energy falls over us all and disappears. We all then proceed to take cover in the trees, hopefully out of view of the Scro on the turrets above as we let the castle pass and scope it for alternative entrances.
“Did you see who was on that main balcony?” exclaims Vedis. “I swear I saw another Scro wizard and a sparkly guy like Tain the Reigar holding a body by the hair! I’ll bet a week’s tips that was Melchot the Dreamer!”
There’s a whistling in the air interrupting Ef Utan’s reply just seconds before the bombs start to explode around us. I dodge for cover as Vedis gets knocked onto her rear and lashes out with her Energy Push at the castle above. The resulting scream of the gnome falling to his death and the subsequential explosions tell us she must have hit her mark.
“I think that’s our way in!” I declare as I pull my rope and grappling hook from my pack. Lenata hands me her rope as well, and with a few deft knots we’ve got a rope that’s sure to be long enough. Ef Utan mutters a quick spell as he takes the grappling hook, and with a few quick swings for momentum he launches it into the air with a satisfying clang of metal on metal. A quick tug confirms that the rope is secure.
“You’ve still got those vials of gaseous form, right, Ef?” I ask and he nods. “Why don’t you three drink those and get up there safely while I draw their attention on the rope?”
“A bit dangerous, don’t you think?” he asks with a raised eyebrow.
“Hey, it’s me!” I joke and begin my climb. “See you at the top!”
Bullets zing by me from the multiple Scro snipers in the turrets above, and I keep my toes crossed in hope that I’m not forced to eat my words with a side helping of lead. A cloud of purple mist passes by me and I smile in relief knowing that they’ll make it up there without harm. Eventually I make it up to the slightly splintered balcony, just in time to get a good view of the Scro mage Vedis mentioned waving his arms in incantation and sending a ball of energy our way. I don’t even want to find out what that is! Some of the purple mist follows me as I quickly make my way down a set of stairs from the balcony to take cover and find myself face to face with a locked door.
One of the forms of mist, however, floats down towards the wizard. “That must be Vedis…” I mutter. “I just hope she doesn’t do something stupid… that’s my job!”
I do my best to keep at the task at hand, however, as a potentially dangerous spell is coming our way and we’ve still got a locked door in front of us. Thankfully I work best under pressure, and the door is soon unlocked to reveal a large round room bisected by sets of iron bars to form prison cells. In one of the cells hangs an unconscious red-skinned woman in black leathers from chains on the wall. From the look of the vivisection tools and bloody table nearby, we probably got here just in time.
I quickly make my way in followed by the mist that turns into Lenata & Ef Utan, and close the door behind me in hopes that the spell will activate in contact with it before it contacts us.
“Can you unlock the cell so I can check her wounds?” asks Lenata.
“Stand back just in case,” I warn as I pull out my tools. “Ef?”
“Do what you can to help here… I think I’ve found that brain cylinder over here from the vision!” he calls out as he investigates a large metal cylinder resting on an obsidian altar.
I nod and carefully investigate the lock to her cell. “Woah… check this out!” I say as I step back and point to some of the tiny runes inscribed on the bars. “There’s a dimensional anchor on each of these cells to prevent teleporting abilities from getting you out… but if I fail the lock, something is definitely going to come in and make me pay for it.”
“Can you unlock it?” Lenata asks worriedly.
“Well yeah… I just wanted you to know how hard it was,” I chuckle as I use my picks and with a click the door springs open.
My fur stands on end and I can’t shake the oddest feeling. Wait a second… I know I disarmed that trap correctly, so why does it feel like… “Someone’s coming!”
Energy crackles and forms into a ball of light in one of the other cells as it coalesces into a humanoid form… and with a POP Word of Wisdom, the Psiforged who had gone missing soon after we first arrived in the Harrowing, collapses in the cell.
“Where have you BEEN?” I ask in surprise as I hurry over to unlock his cell and Lenata begins her spells on the unconscious woman.
“She’s been damaged in ways I am not strong enough to repair,” Lenata laments as she lowers the woman to the ground and waves her glowing hands over her body. “While her physical wounds will be healed, her soul has been damaged by these abhorations.”
“Where am I?” asks Word. “The last I recall I was trying to teleport out of the Harrowing when I felt my essence… grabbed… and then found myself here.”
“It looks like the dimensional anchor of this room brought you to the Walking Castle,” I explain as he looks at me with what I can only assume is confusion. “Look at it this way… you’re where you need to be, you’re with us, and you got the short trip.”
“Just in time, too,” says Ef Utan as he stands near the exit down another staircase on the other side of the room. “From the sound of the voices below, I think we’re going to have company.”
“Let’s be sure to give them a proper welcome, then!” I reply as I toss a thunderstone down the stairs. Ef waits for the resulting bang, smiles, and then charges down the stairs with a battle cry, mug and Flametongue in hand.
Vedis suddenly forms out of mist beside me with a pleased look on her face and I almost pop my neck doing a double-take as I swear I heard the words “Kiss me, Big Boy!” from down below.
“Guess what I did!” she exclaims as the Psicrystal leaps from her shoulder to run to her mistress resting on the floor.
“Can’t talk… fighting…” I reply as I leap down the stairs to the oddest sight of a naked and rather voluptuous brunette smiling at Ef Utan and beckoning to him seductively with her slim fingers.
Word uses his teleportation powers to appear down the stairs behind the woman and warns us of the presence of two more men further down the stairs past him. I focus my abilities on the Psiforged and switch places with him to try and get a sneak attack on the woman, but unfortunately for me she’s not just exceedingly beautiful… she’s quick. She turns on her heel and easily dodges my claws before sticking out her bottom lip in a rather sexy pout.
“Now why would you want to attack little old me? Don’t you want to attack them instead? It would make me ever so happy… and you know you want to make me happy.”
She reaches up to caress my cheek and I shiver in anticpation and what else she might do… because Gods help me, I find she’s right… I would do anything to make her happy.