Thread 1: >>123033
Thread 2: >>124226
Thread 3: >>124917
Thread 4: >>125518
Thread 5: >>126187
Thread 6: >>126955
Thread 7: >>127594
Thread 8: >>128755
In which a Wizard suffers the Hound Dog blues.
it,” you say, pausing in the hallway to lean forehead-first against the wall. “Dammit.”
And you thought she
was going to be the defensive one, desperately reassuring you she’d never be a threat to you like Remilia was suggesting. What a laugh.
You shake your head violently, frustrated. You’re in no condition to kick cultist ass, not like this. You need to clear your head a bit. You need...
Well, what you really
need- and you damn well know it- is someone to talk to. Current options include the childish fairy, a loli-devil vampire, the Head Maid and resident Ice Queen, or the witch and door guard, both of whom you just freaked out.
As usual, alcohol is the path of least resistance. You stand up and stride down the hall a ways till you spot a fairy maid, whom you interrogate for directions to the kitchen. She gives them. You produce your Wand of Lightning Bolt
and scowl fiercely, and she gives you directions again; this time, the right ones.
The kitchen proves to be cavernous, with long, black marble counters stretching away in every direction. Large cupboards and pantries abound, but on one side of the huge room you see four or five ice-boxes lined up against one wall. You stride over to them, and tilt your head quizzically as you examine them. The large sinks and faucets indicate plumbing of either the magical or Gnomish variety, so the thoroughly mundane ice-boxes are odd. There’s no reason a mansion of this size shouldn’t have a magical refrigeration unit like the one in Keine’s house.
Succumbing to your curiosity, you cautiously open the top door of the nearest ice-box and peer inside.
“P-PERVERT!” a little ice fairy screams, hastily covering her bosom. Before you can react, a large snowball smacks into your gob and knocks you on your ass. You hear the wooden door slam shut with finality.
“PHFFFFAARKCK,” you comment, spitting out the snowball. That’s what you get for curiosity. You try the main compartment, standing to one side cautiously as you do. Fortunately, it proves to be full of nothing but edibles. Rooting about inside, you find nothing of interest.
“Not in the mood for cold, anyway,” you mutter. The Scarlet Devil Mansion has actual wooden walls, glassed-in windows, and beds elevated off the ground, which induces you to hope they might also have- ah. In a dark, under-the-counter cupboard... fine Scotch.
“Victory,” you whisper, slipping the entire bottle into your pocket. A few minutes later, you’ve located the courtyard again, and are lifting off into the night. High above the Mansion, you pause to get your bearings. The brilliant waxing moon hovers just above the peak of a gigantic mountain, its soft quicksilver spilling down the steep flanks to shimmer across the lake’s surface. Occasionally,
you think, Gensokyo seems like a nice place to live.
You turn in mid-air, surveying the scene. From this altitude, you can see the faint glow of the human village, planted at the edge of the sprawling ‘Forest of Magic.’ The thick forest comes right up to the edge of the lake.
“Good a place as any,” you mutter, and swoop down towards the lake’s surface. Picking up speed in the dive, you level off only a few feet above the lake’s surface, enjoying the exhilaration of speed. There’s many compensations in a wizard’s life, but few can beat the power of flight.
Reaching the shore, you put on the brakes, and set down gently on the shore. Sighing, you retrieve the Scotch and take a sip. It’s crisp and strong; a good vintage.
You sigh, and start walking into the forest. The canopy begins to thicken almost immediately, long, crooked branches closing in on the moon and dappling its meager light. You take another pull on the Scotch, hoping the shock will slow down your spinning thoughts, but to no avail.
You lean against a tree. “I really
need somebody to talk to,” you say miserably.
“What do you need to talk about?” the tree asks.
A long moment of silence ensues, during which you seriously consider talking with the tree.
“Fuck. Me. Sideways,
” you intone, and begin walking again. You’re desperate, for sure, but you draw the line at maples. It’s getting dark the deeper you go. Reaching into your pocket to retrieve your dagger, your fingers brush the edge of a scroll-case.
You pull it out, contemplating it, the germ of an idea forming in your head. It’s a bad idea. Which is pretty much the only variety you ever
have, so why not? Opening the scroll case, you hunt around for the one you want, and pull it out, returning the case to your pocket. Tilting the parchment this way and that to read the runes in the lambent moonlight, you intone the words to Lesser Planar Binding.
For a few seconds, nothing happens.
Nothing continues to happen.
“Oh for fucks sa-” you’re saying when there’s a bright flash of light, and a mild thunderclap that merely knocks you on your ass. Blinking away the blindness, you look up and see the towering frame of a muscular humanoid; canine eyes glowing gold in the darkness as they peer down at you.
“I AM DUANDOR. WHO CALLS?
“Good to see you too, Duke,” you mutter, laboriously rising from the ground.
“YOU!” the towering Hound Archon declares, stepping forward into a patch of moonlight. ‘Duke’ is a powerful humanoid, six feet tall, with the body of a man and a canine-like head and face. His perpetual, serious frown is still in place. You’ve never seen him without it. “ONLY ONE MORTAL WOULD DARE ADDRESS ME AS SUCH!”
“I’m standing right here,
dude,” you point out.
“Apologies, my friend,” the archon says, this time at a tolerable volume. Duke turns, examining the thick forest. He immediately draws a massive sword from a large sheath on his back, the honed blade catching the faint rays of moonlight. “Show me mine enemy, so that I might bring justice upon-”
“Put away the hardware, man,” you say wearily, producing the bottle of Scotch. “No enemies here, I just need to talk with somebody.”
Duke’s perpetual frown deepens a little. “You were last seen locked in mortal combat with Lofforanrwenryrrrwharrgrrr, Scourge of the Northern Skies, Hated of the Dragon-Kin, Flenser of-”
“I know who he is!” you exclaim, and take a sip of the Scotch. “Update your lexicon, boyo, his one and only title now is ‘dead meat’.”
“Then you were victorious!” Duke says exuberantly. “There has been a great deal of unrest on the Materiel Plane following your disappearance with Lofforanrwenryrrrwharrgrrr. Why have you not returned to announce your triumph?”
“How do you know this?” you ask, puzzled.
“LOFFO,” you nearly growl. “Call the motherfucker Loffo, please.
” Duke says, sampling the abbreviation with obvious distaste, “has- I mean, had- attracted attention even in Celestia. The Council of Seven decreed the situation was worth monitoring.”
“I thought extra-planar security matters were handled by the High Diet of Primarchs?”
“Yes, but they must consult with the Court of Radiant Justice. The Council of Seven operates more freely in espionage matters and internal security, but for actual extra-planar action must acquire the permission of the Divine Assembly of-”
“Yesyesthatsverynice,” you say hastily. Scotch isn’t strong enough for this shit. “Want a drink?”
Duke gives you a skeptical look. “What is the local time?”
“Not yet midnight.”
“Very well, then,” he says, accepting the bottle and downing about a fifth of it in one go. “A quality vintage.”
“To answer your question,” you say, “we’re currently in some kind of demi-plane. Loffo tried to Planeshift
out, and when I tried to stop him, our respective Spell Turning
effects misfired, sending us here.”
“You have no idea as to where in the planar cosmology you currently reside!?” Duke exclaims.
“Well, I have an idea,
” you say. “A local schoolteacher explained that this demi-plane was erected to seal in an evil presence that was ravaging the mundane world. So it’s coterminous with a Materiel Plane.”
Duke’s frown deepens a little more. “Then returning to your homeland should be exceedingly simple!”
“Not really,” you explain. “According to the teacher’s description, and some artifacts of this world I’ve seen... it’s not our
Duke’s eyes widen. “Then-!”
“Yeah,” you say dourly. “I’m clear on the other side of the Deep Ethereal, without a map.”
Duke frowns, puzzled. “But you were able to call upon my aid! Your spells seem to function flawlessly, despite the distance. Can you not simply return home?”
You shake your head. Duke’s a loyal and good-hearted companion, but the intricacies of magic escape him. “No, see... a summoning spell doesn’t actually translocate
the subject of the spell, not permanently. The fabric of space-time is a possessive, selfish bitch; it doesn’t like to let go of things. So when you cast a simple summoning spell, you kind of...” you make a long, drawn out plucking motion with your fingers. “You create a wormhole of sorts, that pulls the subject to your location for a time. When the magic expires-” you snap your fingers- “the fabric of space-time snaps back, like a rubber band.”
“I see,” Duke says. “Have you attempted any translocation?”
“Yeah, I retrieved my emergency chest,” you say. “It took a good while to arrive, and that was just from the Negative Energy Plane, which is a lot closer, cosmologically speaking, then Celestia. The spell I used to call you usually lasts... with my ability, we’ll say sixteen, seventeen days. I’d be surprised if we got seventeen hours.”
“But the translocation of the chest worked,” Duke points out. “Why not attempt a Planeshift?
“Remember what I said about ‘sealing in evil’?” you point out. “Considering that the demi-plane barrier was specifically erected to keep things in,
I’m not eager to try the experiment.”
“Point taken,” Duke says thoughtfully, stroking the underside of his muzzle. “In any case, my superiors will be greatly relieved to learn of the death of, er, ‘Loffo’. But until then, how may I be of assistance?”
“Well,” you say, “that schoolteacher I told you about.... she’s... like...” helpless, you resort to the Scotch.
Duke sniffs the air. “You smell of the human mating hormone. This schoolteacher, she is an attractive bitch, yes?”
You promptly choke on the Scotch. “Gods-dammit, Duke!”
Duke cocks his head in a most canine expression of puzzlement. “Problem, my friend?”
You peer into those glowing, golden eyes for a long, long moment.
“...you smug asshole.”
“I have no idea what you are upset about,” Duke says, a faint hint of satisfaction creeping into his voice. “I am unfamiliar with the cruder slang of your species.”
Hound Archons have a tongues
ability, and he knows you know it. “Yeah, right,” you say. “Anyway. This teacher. I told her of my exploits, all the evil I’ve laid low, all the wrongs I’ve righted, and her response was... pity.”
Duke contemplates this, his golden eyes pensive.
“I mentioned the time I went to Howler’s Crag, in Pandemonium...”
“A particularly foolish venture,” Duke observes softly.
“Yeah, yeah, like I’ve never heard that before,” you say wearily.
“Foolish- but noble,” Duke says, clapping one massive hand on your shoulder. “A rare moment for you, but all the more powerful for it. She thought this significant, yes?”
Duke nods with approval, and takes his hand from your shoulder. “Then she is wise- she understands the burden of the guardian. Why does this vex thee?”
“It’s-” you gesture wildly with the Scotch- “All the accomplishments, the victories, the evil and cruelty I’ve put an end to- that was worth something, dammit! That was worth something to me!
” you say, thrusting your thumb into your chest. “I’m satisfied! I’m proud!
Duke nods, his frown a little deeper again. Human relationships aren’t his forte. “Then why are you agitated?”
“Oh hell, I don’t know,” you reply. “Maybe because she was implying I’m not, or shouldn’t be, and if you would be so kind turn around and tell me what in the blazing fuck is that.
Duke looks over his shoulder to follow your gaze. Almost at the limit of visibility, deep in the forest, is the merest suggestion of movement- a shifting of the shadows, the kind that are constantly manifesting in your peripheral vision in dark forests.
Except this one is right in front of you, and it’s truly massive, though it seems to move without sound. Something gigantic, striding through the haunted forest.
“And that,” Duke says in an uncharacteristically low voice, pointing off to one side. Deep in the gloom, a glowing light bobs up and down rapidly, like a lantern might in the hand of somebody moving with hustle. It doesn’t have the slow, tempting loitering activity of a will-o-the-wisp hoping to be seen.
Duke, who’s been in more then one dust-up at your side, silently draws his mighty sword and cuts his eyes at you in query. Strange lights and stranger shadows are wizard territory, in his opinion.
[ ] Get a good look at the massive stalker- from a safe distance, of course.
[ ] Intercept the lantern-wielder.