The trade post that Pegi had pointed out was still there – these things are never certain in Rifts Earth after all – and the quartet of explorers had been able to drop off the wounded saurians with them. They spent the night and then rose early in the morning to begin the trek down to ‘the stone towers’.
The trip takes the better part of the day and it’s late afternoon when they arrive on a ridgeline overlooking the coastal plain. The sun is getting low and even from up here strange multicolored lights can be seen. There are hundreds of them of varying sizes floating close to the ground or near the walls of what few structures remain like strange will-o-wisps.
“I’m not registering those lights as anything at all.” Hunter says from his cockpit. “No heat. No EM. Nothing.”
That… may or may not mean anything to Pegi. It probably will mean something to the other two, though.
Amber eyes narrowing, Pegi looks out at the distant lights with a growing frown. Although they’re pretty, the appearance is strange, and if she knew the word, she would have called it suspicious. “Pegi not remember seeing those before,” she says, although she wouldn’t be able to say for sure that it was simply because she’d never gone by there at this time of the day. It’s just one of those feelings, and such feelings are not to be dismissed, especially by those who’ve grown up out in these wetlands.
She sidles a little closer to Felipe despite the already close proximity offered in the front of the vehicle they’ve been riding.
Hunter’s snippet of information and Pegi’s simple confirmation of its existence allows Felipe to sit back a little, his back and shoulder bumping into the Saurian sooner than he expected with how close she’s moved over.
That doesn’t stop him mulling over it, however. “How is that even possible?” he asks, lightly gesturing as he does so. “Light is normally a source of heat. There’s no way it can just…/be/ there…without anything attached to it.” An ambiguious shrug is all he can muster after the thought. Being a doctor, will-o-wisps are nothing more than a trick of the light. But he does tap the air with a finger after a few seconds. “Wild guess: maybe they’re bugs?”
Sitting in the back of the ATV, Arduls been taking the opportunity to sleep. All good soldiers know you sleep when you can, you never know when you’re going to get the opportunity to again. Stirring as they draw near, she looks at those lights, lips thinning (although there’s the faintest of smiles when Pegi crowds Felipe).
“Doesn’t mean they’re not sentinient or a lifeform. Just something we’ve not encountered before.” she speaks through the comms to Hunter. “Are they moving in any discernable pattern?”
She would have happily ridden in his gunwolf with him, but it is rather cramped and the journey long.
“Could be. Could be something else.” Hunter is using his bot’s imaging suite to scan the ruins for signs of habitation. “Doesn’t look like anyhting to me Ardul.”
After a few moments the wolfen gruffs. “Ah. Got something. Looks like someone has set up a shelter on the northern side of the ruins area. Looks… pretty boggy on the way. I’ll dismount and we can go in the ATV.”
And so he does. The ruins area is pretty damn flat. Much of what’s left of whatever this city was is now only the foundations. Here and there a wall still sticks up and in a couple places the remains of towers stab up at the sky but for the most part it’s roads, foundations and small mounds of what was probably once rubble made into hills by the passage of time.
As the group descends the lights get closer. They really do seem to be just floating orbs of light ranging from the size of Felipe’s fist to the size of a man’s chest or more. The don’t particularly react to the ATV though thick on the ground as they are it’s a bit surprising there’s never really one directly in front of it. Closer in a harmonic hum can be heard, seemingly coming from the lights.
“There it is.” Hunter points from the driver’s seat where he’s taken over for the autodrive system. It’s a small shelter built out of timbers and grass. A very ‘local’ type of contruction really. Makes sense if this missing necromancer hired a local guide.
Trying not to get too anxious as they near the location that Hunter had detected, Pegi looks at the glowing orbs that soon come into range. “Not bugs…” she says, not disappointed, but still cautious. There’s something still strange about them. Her head lifts as she hears the humming sound, and she leans forward to try and figure out where it comes from, although she’ll move back if she’s in someone’s way.
The shelter looks to be the typical sort one would find, made from the resourceful people of the swamplands. Pegi tries to look around again from the window. “Pegi not see anyone… Should we go out?” Even she sounds hesitant, given that there are still those weird lights floating about, but it’d be easier to look around outside of the ATV.
Ruins are nothing new, but there is a note of eerie melancholy to whatever has been left behind. Or perhaps Felipe is subconsciously tacking the feeling on the closer they get. He can’t really tell at the moment.
It’s the abnormally-sized floating balls of light that cause him to place his attention elsewhere, eyeing them as they drift all too closely to the group. “Not bugs,” he agrees, a little puzzled by their presence. He’s sure his hearing is just ringing in general, though, not corellated to the lights at all. Generalized ringing. It’s normal. Mostly.
“Mmmmm…” Ardul murmurs from the backseat, grey eyes watching the lights as the ATV moves through them. “What’s the hum?”
As they make the shelter, she looks over to Hunter and then nods to Peggy and Felipe “Well, that’s part of the reason I’m here.” Unless Hunter cautions otherwise, the Valkyr exits the vehicle, unhooks that cylinder from her hip and makes her way towards the shelter, intent on looking around.
Hunter nods in answer to Pegi’s question and kills the engine. “Dunno. Sounds like wind chimes, a bit. Pretty. Though that makes me a bit suspicious.”
The shelter is empty. No sign of people. There are packs and supplies – some of them going quite mouldy at the moment.
Hunter goes around back to see what he can find. Meanwhile Ardul finds in one of the packs what looks like a leather bound dairy. An actual ink and vellum book. The sigil of the Academy is on it.
Bringing up the rear, Pegi keeps her axe handy in case anything might be lying in wait. Here is where she truly misses having two feet rather than one and a stub of metal. Nevertheless, she tries to keep her steps quiet and herself balanced, careful upon where she sets her metal prosthetic in case the ground beneath proves too soft to hold its rounded point.
Just by the shelter’s opening, she sniffs, snorting the air out just as quickly for the smell of natural rot brought on by too much dampness and time. She decides to leave the searching of the inside to the three, one more body, especially of her size, would likely make things slightly more cramped. So instead, Pegi opts to look around the outside of the place. Maybe she’ll find tracks, and if so, be able to try figuring out how long it’s been since anyone’s come and gone.
The doctor nods, wordlessly following along between the other three as they proceed to the shelter’s set perimeters. Splitting up to search for anything worthwhile seems to be the best idea.
Careful observation is something he’s used to doing on a regular basis. Crouching down to get a better look at the abandoned packs, he manages to not fall backward from the smell. He’s seen grosser situations, but molding supplies has a special kind of disgust attached to its entire being.
Picking up a stick, he holds it over one pack, gently nudging at the contents. “I know this might be obvious, but these went bad a long time ago,” he says under the pulled-up collar of his coat, brow furrowing the longer he stares at the spoiled items. “I don’t know if any of it is still good, either. If someone was camping out here, I’d assume this would’ve all been used by now…”
Ardul takes her time to work through the shelter, checking bedding, bags and supplies alike. “The shelter is empty.” she reports to the others as she crouches to open another bag.
“I’ve got something.” Taking the diary out, carefully, the blonde turns it over in her hands, considering if she should open. “Appears to be a journal. From the academy, judging by the sigil on it.” Raising herself to her full height, glancing at the bobbing lights once, she makes her way back to the group.
As she does, she opens the cover and begins to flicking through.
There are tracks. Pegi can see a sets going over sets. This area was inhabitied by four people over the course of several days. The newest set heads off toward what was probably once city center, toward one of the few remaining standing structures. It’s probably over a week old. Ten days, perhaps.
Hunter comes back around toward the front. “Stuff spoils pretty easily in a swamp, doc. But you’re right. That stuff’s been out for… a week? Two? Doesn’t look like anyone’s been back here. There’s no vehicles nor sign that there ever was one. I did find some laundry on a line. It’s soaked through and frozen stiff, probably in the storm that came through a few days ago. Place looks pretty deserted.”
One of the larger balls of light floats near Felipe. It seems to kind of… drift toward him. Not like it’s moving toward him ‘deliberately’ but it might touch him if he stays still for another minute or two.
With that many people that had possibly been staying here, Pegi wonders where they’d all gone? With the size of the swamp it’s not so easy a thing to know one’s comings and goings, or another tribe or people’s business around here. She sniffs, but most of the scents here are typical of the wetness and the local flora.
Frowning, she hobbles back towards the shelter’s front. “Pegi find tracks. Most…recent? Go that way,” she informs, pointing vaguely in the direction she’d been able to determine. “Been long time now. Maybe more than six suns past. Not come back, whoever go.” At least, no from what she’d seen of the tracks.
She looks towards Felipe, perhaps hoping for some sort of praise, a ‘job well done’ for Pegi. But he seems distracted. Pegi however growls a little as those light orbs are present even near here, and closer to her little brother than she’d like. “Felipe…” she warns.
“Abandoning their laundry. Who does that.” A rhetorichal quip, but a faint chuckle slips in on the last word. “I’ve rarely been to a swamp, Hunter,” Felipe admits, tugging the collar away from his face as he sits back on his heels to glance up at the wolfen while tossing the stick aside, “but I’m not a stranger to food spoiling. I’ll take it, though.” He looks back down at it. “You’d think they’d at least put it back…unless they didn’t have time?”
He lifts his head again when Ardul finds something of interest. “A journal? Huh. That’s promising.” He honestly means that. It’s promising in both finding answers to these mysteries and knowing that someone, anyone, can quickly forget to take a thing of personal value with them if they’re in a hurry. Pegi’s track findings are also a plus, letting the doctor’s expression brighten a bit as she hobbles towards them. “Tracks. Hey, that’s even better. Now we have two clues– ”
In the middle of getting to his feet and praising Pegi for her contribution to their efforts, the large ball of light comes all too close for his comfort. “–Ffbt!” Felipe swats at it in annoyance, trying to get it away from him.
“Ten days, I would say…” Ardul murmurs as she joins the group, holding the journal so they can crowd around if they want. Summarising the first entry, the blonde continues “Seems the student believed there was the energy of the undead in this place and it was like a pressure cooker and should be drained.” Her lips thin at the mention of magic, she’s still not a fan. “He also thought that more death here would make the land very sick.”
Reading on, her brows draw into frown “The spirits didn’t seem to be at rest and attacked him when he tried to perform rituals. Their guide, Verek, was injured.”
It’s the last entry though that has the Winged Woman nearly scowling and glancing to Hunter “Something about thinking in terms of artifacts instead of leylines. The combination of the high mana conditions and death energy has fused into the stone and the metal of the ruins.” She looks over to the largest of the structures and raises her chin “He believed that was the repository for the largest concentrations of ‘death-tinged mana’ but believed that releasing should be easy. If he could survive the casting.” That last sentence is said rather dryly. “Seems like he tried the ritual at dawn the next morning…”
She looks up to see the orb floating closer to Felipe “I wouldn’t let it touch you, Felipe.” she cautions, glancing to Hunter again “I suspect that this is the energy that was stored in structures … that, or it’s our Student friend… I’d like to check that structure out, though.”
Funny how she might not like magic, but seems to just accept this.
As Felipe swats at the orb, she brings that cylinder up and everything about her says she’s alert.
“Stone and metal of the ruins…” Hunter echoes and looks in the direction that Pegi indicated. That’s, yes, toward the most ruin-y part of the ruins. “So that’s where he went. Ten days ago. I’m not sure this guy is still alive… we should check though. It’s not that fa- Doctor what are you do-”
Hunter turns to see Felipe swat one of the chiming light orbs.
The moment the he touches it Felipe gets a sudden flash of images. Fire. Massive tidal waves. Demons everywhere. Bodies in the street. Blood. Death.
Then it’s gone. It takes less than a second but it’s incredibly intense.
Pegi moves closer to see what Ardul’s found, doing her best not to crowd them. She can’t read, so the journal entries look like little more than scrawls of thin lines on a page, albeit very /nice/ scrawls. Her mouth tugs into a frown again. “Spirits should be left alone,” she says. “Dead should stay dead.” That’s not to say she wouldn’t disagree with the concerns of the missing student, if she’s understanding what Ardul reports, correctly.
“…what happen in this place..?” she murmurs thoughtfully. It’s not the most positive outlook on things, but Pegi suspects that Hunter is right. If that student’s been out for this long and not returned, it’s not very likely that he’d be back. But they do have a new place to search, and to that, the young Saurian nods.
Sometimes little brother is so dumb. That’s not currently Pegi’s thoughts, however. She’s more concerned at Felipe’s present actions, tensing as she sees him try to wave off the orb like an annoying fly.
It’s called grounded practicality. And it does little for him within the next handful of seconds.
Words of caution are muted, gone in an instant. He doesn’t even remember touching the orb, let alone feeling anything the moment his hand comes into contact with it. Of course he won’t feel anything — light isn’t tangible.
The images that suddenly spring forth into his vision after the fact are obscenely realistic. Each flash is unrelenting, quick in succession. Light, then dark, darker still, worsening until it abruptly ends without warning.
From where he leaves off, Felipe collapses back onto his knees in the wet dirt. “–Ggh!!”
Ardul //sighs// as Felipe tries to bat an orb aside. “I wouldn—” The blonde cautions again, only to cut off as the man falls to his knees. Moving quickly towards him, her hand resting on his neck, like she’s getting ready to pluck him to his feet “Felipe. Are you with us?”
She doesn’t ignite the energy sword yet, those orbs aren’t really attacking and she’s not quite sure what it would happen if she did.
“What was that?”
Hunter draws, for all the good that it’s going to do. The orbs don’t seem the least bit aware of them and the one Felipe had been batting at just drifts on. “Doctor? What happened?”
The wolfen’s voice is hard and urgent. A combat response which isn’t always helpful in a non combat situation.
The axe thuds on the ground where it’s dropped as Pegi moves closer to Felipe. She can’t kneel easily with one leg, so she crouches protectively over him as best she can, ignoring the slight pain of the odd position. “Felipe, you okay?” she asks, looking worriedly at the man. She’s quite ready to go one step further than Ardul and scoop the doctor up princess-style in a heartbeat.
He feels lightheaded. Distant. His only groundings are founded in the exclamations and questions flung his way, ready to fall foward if not for Ardul’s swiftness and Pegi’s strength. Touch is enough to help him through the disorientation of his mind, but he keeps his head down to fight off another round of vertigo.
“I’m okay,” the doctor croaks, squeezing his eyes shut as he catches his breath. “I-I’ll be okay, I’m– ” He swallows. “–I’m not sure what just happened, I…I saw something. Somethings? T-too many things for my liking.”
Helping Felipe stand once he’s caught his breath and the vertigo has passed, Ardul casts Hunter a concerned grey-eyed glance. “We shouldn’t linger here. Particularly as it gets later. Those entries mentioned hauntings at night.” Besides, she wants to go and check those ruins.
“What was it you saw, Doctor?” The Valkyr asks “It seemed to be quite powerful. The vision that is.” She’s still scanning the area, watching those orbs and for any other forms of threat.
If one considers the orbs a threat then there are threats everywhere. As Suri mentioned though, there doesn’t seem to be anything else. No animals. No other tribes. Nothing. There don’t tend to be people here, of course. These ruins have long been considered relics of a past best left to rot, but there are often trappers and such stalking around the edges.
As Pegi and Ardul see to Felipe, Hunter turns his gaze toward the city center again. There he sees a glow coming from the remains of the towers and the orbs of light there start swirling in a vortex.
“Something’s going on over there…”
Pegi whimpers and pulls Felipe close to her in a tight hug. “Dumb-head, Felipe need to be careful!” she hisses. She lets go, very carefully in case his feet aren’t quite set to hold his weight, nodding gratefully at Ardul’s help.
Turning, she looks towards Hunter as he speaks up, and then the Saurian turns her eyes towards the city ruins, eyes widening. “…Pegi not like this…” she says, grasping for her axe with one hand, Felipe’s arm with the other.
“Careful only applies to surgical situations,” Felipe laughs weakly in regards to Pegi’s ‘dumb head’ comment, sagging in her tight hug as he tries to find his feet again.
Another breath is drawn in and held before he exhales. “…Terrible events.” Brown eyes now stay wide open with a clarity he wishes is mere fantasy, meeting Ardul’s and Hunter’s gazes in that order. “Mostly…natural disasters. Th-there were also demonic-looking beings. And death.” He shakes his head a little, his voice barely above a whisper as he recalls the flashes of images. “Too much death.”
The short silence following his words is quickly broken. “Right,” he coughs, taking advantage of the support while gathering his bearings to the best of his ability. “We sh-should get out of here. Now.”
Ardul turns at Hunters voice and frowns again. “The energies the student was talking about, perhaps?” It could be ritual but that’s unlikely, given there’s no one else around.
Felipes words draw another concerned look before she looks back to Hunter. “Do you want to check it out? Or leave?” She might prefer to leave but then, they won’t discover anything.
“Have to chack it out.” Well okay, they don’t //have// to but Hunter is not going back without some answers. He’s already striding off in that direction. “Come on, Doctor, it’s not far.”
It’s like he didn’t even hear Felipe say they should leave. That really is the sensible thing to do given that there’s not a mage among them to protect them from whatever these energy things are. But stubborn wolf is stubborn.
Or insane wolf is insane. Whichever you think most fits.
“I’m sure Pegi can carry you if you need.” She seems strong.
As much as Pegi doesn’t like the idea, she doesn’t think that they can just leave this alone. Something had happened here, and still happens now, whether because of that lost person or for some other reason, she doesn’t know, but if it’s affected the swamplands, it’s not something on can turn their back on.
She grunts begrudgingly at Hunter’s decision, giving a nod. “Pegi keep Felipe safe,” she promises the doctor. “Stay close, okay Felipe?”
He isn’t even sure about it himself, but that is what he saw. There isn’t anything else he can say about it to the Valkyr. Fortunately for him the wolfen acts as a distraction from his thoughts.
“I can walk!” Felipe insists, and he insists some more as Hunter goes off to the source of the problem. “Where are you– you’re going the wrong way!!” He swears under his breath, holding onto Pegi’s arm with some of his returning strength. “Can’t go far,” he replies to Pegi as softly as he can while his jaw is set. “C’mon Pegi, Ardul. We gotta keep an eye on him.”
“Very well.” Ardul nods to Hunter and takes the lead, igniting her sword as they walk. She’s armoured, at least, and might withstand at least one hit … better than her Wolfen companion who doesn’t have his bot.
Felipe just gets a smirk from the blonde. Hunter might be insane, but that might make her insane as well.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, Hunter, but I’d feel better if we had a caster with us.” she mutters as they walk. But not once do eyes stop scanning the area, watching for trouble or anything else.
“So would I.” Hunter doesn’t have Ardul’s aversion to magic. Growing up in Lazlo, it’d have been hard to. the city was practically built by magi.
The orbs get thicker on the ground and move much less slugishly the closer they get into that ‘vortex’. It becomes much, much more difficult to avoid touching them. As they draw near they can see that the a vortex of magical energies is nearly engulfing the remains of the tower, which are tumbled down to the point that it’s little more than a girder skeleton. There’s something inside, perhaps something moving, but between the swirling energy and the swirling lights it’s near impossible to say what it is.
“We need to get in there.” Hunter mutters. Then without warning he plunges past the curtain of orbs – amazingly missing them all – and disappears into the vortex.
The closer they get to that point, the less enthusiastic Pegi feels about this whole idea. She hasn’t much experience in anything of this sort, but she puts on a brave face as she moves alongside Felipe, trying to keep close with Ardul as well as they trail Hunter.
Those orbs are all too numerous and move more purposefully than the ones out by the shelter’s edge, the Saurian hissing at any that drift threateningly close. She may very well tuck Felipe under an arm to ensure he won’t go touching the things again.
Once they come into view of what’s left of the tower, Pegi gasps. Never has she seen such a sight! It might have been pretty, if not for the things that Ardul had read to them earier. At Hunter’s words, the Saurian nearly sputters. “What! You crazy?!” It seems that the Wolfen is as suddenly he moves for it. Gaping, Pegi shakes her head in disbelief before she looks from Felipe to Ardul. “…we go…?” she asks, not sounding nearly so confident about that venture.
Recovery from the earlier shock melts away faster with a burst of determination. He matches the strides as best he can, struggling for a bit before his legs cooperate fully. Once they reach the tower’s remains, the doctor has nothing to say for the sight they behold for less than ten seconds.
The same thing is mentally shouted, those exact words from Pegi, caught in the back of Felipe’s throat. Hunter’s deep dive past the curtain of glowing orbs makes him lean away from the area, almost acting as if he’s at a loss. “And he’s gone,” he states plainly, finally looking back up in Ardul’s direction. Unlike his Saurian sister, he sounds much more resigned than anything. “…I think it’s inevitable now.”
Arduls silent as they approach the vortex, the frown getting deeper as the nearer they get. “Is there something in there…?” she asks Hunter, her wings furled tightly against her back. “We need to get in…”
“Yes, Pegi, Felipe. We go. Now move and move quickly…”
Without waiting, the blonde moves ever so quickly. Much more quickly than anyone would have thought possible and she slips between orbs … much like Hunter just did.
That leaves just Pegi and Felipe on the outside of the twin vorticies of orbs and magical energy. The wind is starting to pick up now and more orbs are floating toward this area from everywhere. It’s as if there’s some kind of ‘suction’ going on that’s drawing them in. In a moment it won’t be safe to go back and it won’t be safe to stay where they are. The orbs will be flowing into that vortex like water down a drain.
“Hrhnn…” the Saurian’s eyes drift after Ardul’s winged form as she too vanishes into the vortex. She shakes her head. Both places seem bad to be, but she doesn’t like that air has thickened with the orbs, and much less the fact that they’re all being drawn towards that one spot.
“….Felipe, hold on!” she says, slinging her axe onto her back before she wraps her arms around the man. If she hesitates, she knows she’ll just stall, and that’ll be even worse. They have to move, and they have to move now. Her eyes narrowed, Pegi focuses on where both Hunter and Ardul have vanished, lurching forward towards the vortex without warning. She’s not nearly so quick as the other two, not with only one good leg, but she plunges forth with the intent of shielding Felipe as they go.
…All right. So now Ardul is gone.
The sigh Felipe breathes is very similar to a long-suffering one as he scrubs his hair in mild irritation. “Okay. It’s now or never, Peg– ”
He finds himself engulfed in the Saurian warrior’s arms, all too familiar since she hugs him often. Not that he minds it. But this? This totally throws him off as he feels everything suddenly speed up.
The trails of light blur into the darkness, streaking past him until he can’t tell what’s happening anymore.
Pegi is struck several orbs and they do to her exactly what they did to Felipe. But then they’re through and on the other side.
It’s not better.
There’s a column of light in the center of what looks like a magical circle, so bright it’s impossible to see inside it. The wind is absolutely howling in here and it’s a struggle to move, a struggle to stand. It’s a good thing that all the lose debris has long been flung out or around or something because if it hadn’t they’d be speard a hundred times over by now.
Four icons of some fasion about the size of a man’s fist and mounted on candlesticks (or something similar) are scattered on the floor and there are four depressions at cardinal points in the floor around the circle.
“I think whatever is happening can’t complete!” Hunter is shouting over the wind to Ardul as Felipe and Pegi emerge from the curtain of awful. “We need to fix these icons in place and let the spell finish! Otherwise this is just going to keep happening!” Of course they’ll have to hold the icons in place. The wind will fling them away otherwise.
Hunter grabs one and fights his way to a depression, then slams it down. The depression lights up, as does the icon. One down, three to go.
There’s no preparing her for what she’d witness from the visions borne by those orbs. Pegi loses all sense of the present for not even a handful of seconds, but it’s enough to distract her from a better landing. She cries out even before she bursts through the swirling energies, clutching Felipe to her all the tighter, but thankfully she doesn’t end up crushing him. An armored shoulder hits the ground first, jarring for both her and her passenger.
For a moment the young Saurian remains curled up there with Felipe, trembling as she had some time ago, and the doctor would know exactly when that had been. There had only been one demon then, but whatever happened wherever those orbs showed, was much, much worse.
Weakly Pegi raises her head, barely hearing Hunter’s shouts above the swirling winds. They were alive, and still okay, but something’s happening. Something that has to be stopped. She wrenches her thoughts away from the blood and death and destruction. What they have to do is here and now. “….Felipe..?” Her little brother is here, and once assured he’s not hurt, she’ll try to pull herself to her feet, nodding towards the remaining objects scattered on the ground.
They come in too hot. Felipe barely catches a glimpse of where they appear, yelling something that’s lost among the visions from the orbs and the noise the room provides. He feels his teeth slam together upon impact, his body tightly squeezed under the pressure of the Saurian, threatening to break at the drop of a hat.
“Pegi!!” he gasps, eventually wrenching an arm free from her hold. He touches the skin on the side of her face, patting her lightly in a repetitive motion. It’s worrying to feel her tremble, and he can only guess she’s seen something just as terrible. “Pegi, listen. Y-you’re gonna be okay,” murmurs the doctor, trying to fight for another breath as he continues. “It’s okay now. I’m fine. We got through…”
Feeling slowly returns to his body once her grip loosens, air returning to his lungs in short order. Hunter’s words dance in the wind, but he gets most of it. “Complete.” His voice is low, his eyes now fixating on another icon across the way as he picks himself up from where they had fallen. “Gotta complete this…okay…”
Ardul is frowning fiercely on the other side of those orbs and as Pegi comes through with Felipe, she scowls. “Pegi. Push it down and help us. I’ll see to you when we’re done here.” Because really, if they don’t stop this, none of them are going to get out.
Felipe gets an approving nod as he starts to move and the blonde turns and grabs an orb for herself, wrestling with it as she drives it down…
The wind is ferocious in here. Even without chunks of debris in the air it batters and bats at Pegi and Felipe and especially Ardul with her wider profile thanks to her wings. Hunter is crouched down, trying to stay as small as possible as he wrestles to keep his orb in place. Ardul gets hers next. Her depression also lights up. That just leaves Felipe and Pegi, who are going to have to separate to complete this spell.
Hopefully it doesn’t blow them all up.
Pegi looks at Ardul and nods, her teeth set as she fights the wind. She leans against the wind, dragging her metal foot after planting her good one, pushing Felipe towards the nearest remaining icon. At least he’ll have something to hold on to once he gets it into the ground.
Then it’s only one more, and the Saurian scrape-steps her way to the last, grabbing it firmly in one hand before moving to plunge it down into the remaining hole with a defiant growl.
With the extra push, the doctor staggers forward, fighting the wind with all of his might. It proves to be a challenge when he almost gets blown to the side, forcing him to push back. Boots scrape against the ground as hands pull him toward the last orb, clasping onto it the moment he’s close enough.
Felipe grunts, letting it turn into a yell as he jams the stick into its hole. He may not be as strong as the others, but he puts everything he’s got into this vital moment.
Ardul grunts as the she’s buffeted but holds her position, she won’t let go. At least not yet.
She can hear the other two moving around her, she just hopes they can complete the puzzle and the maelstrom stops.
The moment all four icons are in place the pillar of light flares so brightly that it nearly blinds everyone outside it. The wind surges and howls ever more loudly. The vortex just outside swells and catches up all the orbs of light in it and shoots them into the sky.
Slowly the power and wind dies down. When finally everyone can see again there are no more floating orbes at all.
The pilar of light vanishes revealing four floating humanoid forms which hit the ground heavily. All are alive… but they’re not going to be in literally minutes unless they can be stabilized. They’re wasted and dehydrated. Not one of them is conscious. This, it seems, would be the missing necromancer and his guides and aides.
At least Felipe will have peace and quiet to save them, if he can.
Nearly lifted off her feet, Pegi thrusts her metal prosthesis towards the ground for better purchase, her other clawed foot scraping at it in an attempt to do the same. She squeezes her eyes shut at the light that explodes once everything is in position, her hands grasping the small post as tightly as she can. Eventually there’s less and less resistance, and although she’s reluctant to release her grip, she can stand without trouble.
Pegi blinks, looking around. “…it over?” she asks, hopeful relief in her voice as she looks to the others. “Ah!” Peoples! She pries her hands away from the icon’s rod, looking to Felipe as she moves carefully towards the prone bodies.
The glare is too much to take in as Felipe tries to look away, shutting his eyes tight and craning his head toward his shoulder to block it all out. Even if he does manage to keep his eyesight, he’s still temporarily blinded until everything calms down.
Despite now knowing that they’ve all survived the ordeal, all of the muscles in his body stay tense. It’s when he starts moving away from the icon and its resting place that helps him relax, hands still shaking from the experience. “…I think so,” he answers, sounding a little hoarse.
There’s no time to slump into a heap, unfortunately. Pegi sees people, and those people need attention /bad/. “Oh, no,” he breathes, forcing himself to half-jog, half-stagger over to go check if the necromancer and company are still alive. His bag of tricks should help — miraculously, he does have enough supplies and water on hand for all of them.
Ardul can’t cover her eyes to shade the light. All she can do is close them. When the light finally fades, she’s on her knees, breathing heavily but manages to drag herself upright.
She’ll stand watch for the time being and wait for Felipe to give directions.
It’s a near thing and if Felipe didn’t have access to advanced robotic medical kits common to the more advanced players in North America there is no way he could save them all. As it stands it takes all of his skill and focus and not a little bit of help from Pegi but… he stabilizes them. They’re in bad shape, but they’ll survive a trip somewhere they can get help.
Hunter stands back the whole time. Watching. When finally everything seems to be settled he speaks again. “Good work. I’ll go bring the ATV ’round. We need to get these people to civilization as soon as possible.”
Felipe may as well be capable of magic for the things Pegi has seen him done. She can breathe a little easier once the doctor administers his treatment, and she’ll get things and hold things as needed until he’s done. And when the man will finally allow himself a chance to rest, she’ll let him lean on her, nodding after Hunter. Getting these people back home to get more fixed is a good idea, and getting away from this place won’t hurt either.
He’s not even sure how he’s doing this. He knows he has limited resources, but somehow — just somehow — it works. It all works out.
“Thanks, Hunter,” Felipe says in the middle of taking care of the last two patients. “Ardul? Can you check on these guys over here? Make sure they’re still breathing. Pegi, you can check on them too. We’ll also have to figure out how we’re putting them into the ATV once Hunter gets back.”
Ardul will happily help Felipe tend his patients and crouches beside them, after fitting that cylinder back to her hip. “I will help move them to the ATV when it arrives.”
She’s been watching the healer all the while. Interesting.
Hunter, Ardul, Felipe and Pegi come upon the abandoned encampment of the missing necromancer and find out that whatever ritual had been attempted to cleanse the land has not been fully completed.
February 24, 2410