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The Elliquian Herald & Post
Issue 74 (Autumn) ~ August thru October 2017

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Author Topic: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)  (Read 639 times)

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Offline JakobosTopic starter

Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« on: December 12, 2012, 09:27:06 PM »
The sun was rising over the jagged treetops of the pine forest. Its shimmering, dancing rays cast an oddly pale pink light over the house and the small carriage next to it; the hue almost seemed to darken rather than illuminate the scene. Perhaps it was part of the aura left by the previous occupant of the house, or perhaps it was merely an unusually cloudy morning. The wizard, as he stepped out of the carriage, did not care. Scowling, he approached the front door and reached unconsciously for the knob...

...and suddenly drew his hand back with a mild oath. He had just barely avoided a rather unpleasant curse; apparently the doorknob was booby-trapped. How unoriginal. His cousin had lost all creativity in his older years, it seemed.

Muttering a quick counter-spell, he tapped the door once with his staff; it clicked open. Taking a moment to prepare a light aura to protect himself, he gingerly stepped over the threshold... into what looked and smelled like a cross between a prison galley and a blacksmith's shop. The odor of decaying food stung his nostrils and a musty, odious smoke drew tears from his eyes. It was, by anyone's standards, a complete wreck of a place.

Sighing, he looked over the room. Nothing was obviously cursed or enchanted maliciously. If there were traps, they were well-hidden. So he sighed again and set himself to the unenviable task of a thorough search, beginning at the corner of the room with the bookshelves.

The books were of the sort that non-magical readers would find immensely dull. Written in obscure dialects that only a trained mind could read, the texts were so dense that it was impossible to understand any of it without activating the built-in enchantments of clarity. But the wizard wasn't here to read; he was here to defuse. A thorough inspection of each book could wait.

As his eyes scanned row after row, one book suddenly caught his eyes and held them like a magnet. He pulled it out to look over it. In appearance it was an ordinary leather-bound volume, perhaps the sort you would find as a mage's index of potions and substances. But this book held a sense of enchantment far, far beyond what would be required for any standard clarity spells, and with concentration, he could see its aura: a white glow that seemed to press outward and expand in all directions with growing force and clarity, casting moving shadows of barely-indistinguishable words and symbols. The leather surface seemed to swarm with every color imaginable, a choreography of shape and light almost invisible to his weak vision. He turned the book over in his hand and saw a monogram on the front, a triangular symbol formed by three runes:

ᛁ   ᚾ   ᛖ

"Iné," he muttered, recognizing the symbols.

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2012, 09:28:02 PM »
The other books on the shelf all had a thick layer of dust on them, and several of the shelves had been cleared of books entirely, now littered with limp marionettes, bits of clockwork, and the odd mechanical arm or leg that had yet to be assembled into an automaton. Patches of the floor were slicked with puddles of spilled oil, and it looked like something had exploded in the cupboards over the workbench, possibly more than once. Hissing purple liquid was bubbling out of the edges of the top drawer. A tall, boxy contraption that seemed to have an entire weapon rack's contents assembled in it like a swiss army knife sat crookedly in an alcove, one of its wheels broken and its aura a dull, bare brown that linked the moving components together like shoestrings; considering the rest of the room's disarray, it's almost a shock that Merbamm had actually had the thought to deactivate it while it was awaiting repairs. Even if he hadn't, though, the creation wasn't going be propelling itself anywhere in its condition, except maybe in circles.

When the runes were read, the book's white-pastel aura pulsed, and the pages seemed to flex ever so slightly between their covers before going still again.

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2012, 11:27:12 PM »
Now, the wizard may have been something of a sell-out; he was not the archetypical scholarly recluse and eccentric inventor. His skills were on the practical end of the arcane, and he had done very little reading into the building of complex enchantments; his specialty was in counter-spells and defenses, and some wizards may have considered him inferior as such. Still, he knew a dynamic enchantment when he saw one, and he immediately recognized that Iné held the sort of enchantment that could take years to prepare.

Now he handled the book with a great deal more delicacy. He hadn't the faintest shadow of a clue what would happen if he were to open the book and speak the rune aloud again.

So he opened the book and spoke the rune aloud again, this time in a firmer tone. "Iné."

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 05:09:56 PM »
(A picture, btw)

This time, as her name was spoken, her aura holds its raised intensity instead of merely pulsing. A tiny mop of short, tousled-looking azure hair began to rise out of the blank vellum-textured pages, quickly followed by a humanoid head and upper body shaped as if in a periwinkle dress with a mint green Peter Pan collar. A look at the magic itself would show rather clearly that the projection was almost entirely hollow, with its supposed "skin" ending at the edges of the "dress's" collar and puffed sleeves, and no hint of anything resembling legs as the "dress" faded into semi-transparency below what would be a solid person's waist to keep the book itself unobstructed; its eyes, however, were whole, and each had more magic concentrated in them than the rest of the illusion put together, with strands like optic nerves leading back down through the core of the projection and into the book's main aura. Those eyes immediately fixed themselves on the wizard's face, a bright teal ringed by brighter red.

"Name?" she asked him, with a voice like an inquisitive child's.

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2012, 05:39:44 PM »
((What was the deceased wizard's name?))

Though his eyes did widen at the unexpected apparition, it was a testament to the wizard's experience and composure that he did not drop the book or swear aloud.

For the first few seconds, all he did was stare at her and at the book whence she came. His eyes had a focused, analytic quality, and held an expression of quick thought.

After a moment, he wet his lips and spoke in a deeper, slower voice. "What is yours?"

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 07:11:45 PM »
((Merbamm, although I never decided on a last name. *does some blind clicking on a surnames site* Tenbrook?))

The book's aura churns briefly, and the projection assumes a thoughtful expression before answering. "I'm sorry. 'What is yours?'" -- although the construct mouthed the words, the quote was undeniably a recording of the wizard's own voice -- "sounds like a common phrase. Are you sure 'What is yours?' is your name?"

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 07:40:30 PM »
The wizard's face indicated first puzzlement, then slight amusement, and he spoke again. "No. You may call me" -- he considered for a moment -- "Dolos."

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 09:57:51 PM »
The construct smiled. "Registered user 'Dolos'." There she went playing back a soundbite again. "Hello, user 'Dolos'. What would you like to read today?" The bright red rings around her irises dimmed considerably. "User 'Dolos' already knows my name. It's on my cover."

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 10:46:27 PM »
Dolos smiled, but it was a clumsy, ugly sort of smile. "Iné," he murmured again to himself, his eyes drifting to the side as if he was trying to remember something. After a few seconds they snapped back to the ghostly figure, and he cleared his throat before speaking again. "What reading do you offer?"

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2012, 03:35:31 PM »
Black lines began to bloom and spread across the pages, forming an alphabetical list of titles in a variety of fonts, preceded by a block of stats that looked as if they were handwritten by Merbamm:

164 untitled documents
845 titled documents
8 hazardous documents
370 diagrams and illustrations
1 hazardous diagrams and illustrations
35,592 spells

The list itself seemed to be populated almost entirely by books that were either already on the other shelves in the room, or that might have once been on those shelves: Manuals, spell books, reference books, and a number of entries titled in Merbamm's handwriting. A few (eight, precisely, if the book's pages were to be flipped through) entries were marked with a small skull and crossbones symbol, and one of them simply had "[hazardous document title]" as an apparent placeholder. Not a single work of fiction or casual reading was to be seen.

Merbamm had always disliked the fact the books and notes took up so much space. This must have been his solution.

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 09:00:45 AM »
(("Dolos" isn't common as a name; it's a word in a millennia-old ancient language and means "snare" or "bait." Since Iné is a smart lass, she might know that; it's up to you.))

The thick eyebrows over the bespectacled eyes raised and then frowned. "How many of those spells are in effect in this room?" As curious as he was about Iné herself, the job had to come first, and he wanted all the help he could get.

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2012, 10:14:02 PM »
((She probably does, but it's not the sort of thing she'd normally bring up.))

The red iris rings lit up again for several seconds. The list of titles faded and was replaced with a series of excerpts from assorted texts, each detailing the method to cast a particular spell, listed in ascending order by length. The rings dimmed. "Thirty-two." The majority of the spells listed were penned in Merbamm's handwriting, and probably described rituals for either creating constructs or preparing equipment to do the same, but his idiosyncratic shorthand made it difficult to know for sure without advanced knowledge of construct creation. There were a handful of basic utility spells in there as well, but there were five listed that were actually dangerous. Six, if you counted the behavioural rules the deactivated box of sharp in the alcove apparently followed under normal conditions. Three were hexes of varying severity normally cast on containers. A fourth was a stair-shifting curse, presumably to prevent people from getting upstairs without permission, and the fifth was a quick-and-dirty spell for containing volatile alchemical compounds that tended to degrade if not recharged frequently. Going by the cupboards and the top drawer of the desk, at least two such spells had already failed. The list also, notably, did not list how many instances of the same spell were present.

If Dolos were to look at the very end of the list, he'd find that there are at least eighty pages of convoluted documentation on the method used to create Iné herself, all in Merbamm's tiniest cramped scrawl.

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2012, 11:07:06 AM »
Dolos frowned and pressed his lips together. Working out counter-curses could take a long time, and he didn't want to spend any more time in this place than he absolutely had to. He spent a few minutes looking over the titles in silence, scanning and sorting out which were constructive and which were destructive.

Finally it occurred to him that Iné could perhaps help. Clearing his throat, he tapped each of the five harmful spells with a thick finger and asked, "Can you display effective counter-spells for these?"

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 11:07:13 PM »
Ine took longer this time to finish processing, but after a few seconds, a much shorter set of spells appeared. The last one had a small red mark next to its title. "I have found twelve matches to your query. I am required to remind user 'Dolos' that spells marked in red may have hazardous results if cast carelessly." Indeed, that one was for deactivating the containment spell. It was even more simple than the containment spell itself, with barely a line of instruction to its name, but depending on what, precisely, he happened to be decontaining, the results could be as bad or worse than if the spell were allowed to decay naturally if he wasn't careful. "May I suggest alternative measures?"

Offline JakobosTopic starter

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2012, 11:33:36 PM »
The wizard's interest was piqued, and he raised a thick eyebrow. "Proceed."

Offline Pigcatapult

Re: Discovery (Pigcatapult & Jakobos)
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2012, 06:23:42 PM »
A bright smile crossed the interface's face, and starting at the bottom of the existing list, Iné began printing out a new one, each item preceded by a small blue mark. It was an assortment of both containment and alchemical neutralisation spells, including the way to renew the existing lazy containment spell, but most being more complex but also more durable, or more specialised towards managing a specific material. "I'm not aware of what, precisely, master user 'Merbamm'" -- she spoke the name in his dead cousin's voice -- "was using that spell to contain, but I was able to guess from the supplies I know he used frequently."