Sunday, November 2, 2014

Incognita - 301A Interlude

Incognita - 301A Interlude

There was no sound made save the rustle of leather and cloth.  No halfling feet pittered over the stone, and no voices carried in the desolate dungeon rooms.  Above somewhere, the din of the refugee mob could be heard, the stamping of feet and the shouted voices.  The air above was jubilant, now that the plague had been solved and it looked like the Refugees would be shortly on their way.  The mage had drifted away, slipping silently down the twisting passages, he passed by underfoot unnoticed, subtle machinations of his magic weaved a safe course that ensured he'd never be trod upon or bumped into accidentally.

The door to the dungeons was still half open, and the application of some magical force crafted him a round invisible disc which he rode the stairs down on, leaving no trace of bootprint or otherwise in the dust.  The soldier in him was stoic, but some other part of him, oft forgotten, retched a little.  The stench of old blood was present, if muted.

The room was an array of cells and shackles, rotten straw lay about, refuse and dirt had been swept into corners but never scooped up, and the efflua of the living coalesced in the sewer troughs beneath, never being washed away into the sea for lack of caring.  The disc carried him soundlessly as he appraised the surroundings.  There were no prisoners here now, had not been in some time, except for the now shattered cage at the far end.  But the signs were telling.  Splatters of blood had stained the stone forever, would likely be impossible to clean.

He raised a hand, and a ball of flame formed between his fingers as he continued to drift around.  In his minds eye he could see the people that were once held in these cages, that were shackled to the ground.

Finally the disc came to a rest, half a foot off the ground where he had stood hours ago.  His arms crossed, and he waited, feeling the ebb and pull of magic as it swirled around.  It was difficult to describe to those not in tune with the weavings, but it was a living, if languid thing that pushed and pulled.  He just occasionally reached in and pulled what he wanted from it.

The lightning he had summoned had been draining.  It was still a spell new to him, and perhaps in many ways still outside his expertise.  Any skilled mage would be able to see the lancings which had scored much of the pathway between him and the abberation woman.  It had been a merciful and powerful spell, and he took no pride in its use.

He drifted closer to where she had stood.  There was nothing left of her.  Turned to dust and ash, any chitinous remains had been put to torch, not that there had been more than a handful to begin with.  She had hardly been defenseless, indeed, had she gotten loose there might have been a sense of true chaos for the group.  But he relived those scant moments before the fight over and over, the others had been quick to attack the source of the problem, but he had been unable to bring his magic to bear against the creature.

She had just been protecting her child.

So quickly had she turned to magic as the method of her revenge.

Just like him.

And in her haste, her magic had consumed her.  Her methods just slightly imperfect, her plan undone ever so slightly.

It was a strange thing to think on too deeply.

It would be some hours later when he emerged.  When asked in the dusklight of where he'd been, he would only shrug and point at his spellbook.  If anyone had noticed the stones of the Keep of Watcher's Crag warmed that day, they would not comment on it.  For surely the bluster of many people, rushing to and fro as they made haste to get off the island was the reason for the stifling air and unseasonable warmth.

It wouldn't be for a long time, weeks or months, when finally they forced the heavy wooden door of the dungeon open, it having been inexplicably barred from the inside, that soldiers would discover the dungeon had been completely wasted.  All the iron cages, the shackles, the soot and detritus had been scoured clean and melted to slag.  A rusted, flat iron floor left in its place in the dungeon.  It would be completely unusable, even the sewer drains had been plugged by slag metals, even the bolts that once held restraints had been melted from the walls.

They would stare in wonder then, at the whole floor which while rusted, was covered in unreadable arcane sigils.

And on the walls, they would murmur and speculate as they watched out over the sea.  What the sigils meant, and if they were indeed the work of that strange little halfling, feisty and boisterous who always proclaimed himself "Right".