|Mike Sullivan||Chris Warren
Gwyneth was with Jamie and Martin at some strange tropical shadow or other, and they needed my help, of course. I suppose I should be flattered that people need my help, but it's beginning to get to be a pain in the ass. Well, she and Jamie had been at some sort of health resort type place relaxing after their stint in Creswali when Martin had called them. He had been getting a bit worried about Adria and had spent considerable time trying to get in touch with her. He had barely gotten through with a trump contact, but enough to talk to her briefly and find out about the shadow she was in. Not enough to pull her through. He also found out that she was being kept prisoner there in some fairly heavily enchanted cell. Tom had never found her. After a bit more work, it was determined that Tom had been captured as well and was probably prisoner itn the same place.
So, Martin had come looking for some people to stage a rescue attempt, and incidentally to actually get them to the shadow Adria was in. From teh description Adria gave, the shadow sounded like one that Jamie had had some odd expereinces in earlier. The experiences hadn't been, Martin thought, very relevant to the present situation, but it meant that Jamie had actually been to this shadow before. From there he had gotten in contact with Jamie, and so brought Gwyneth into this mess as well.
Jamie and Gwyneth agreed that rescuing adria would be a good thing, so the three of them had traveled together to the Shadow. On the way there they encountered soem very significant resistance in the shadow stuff. After some difficult work, Jamie finally managed to get to the right place and they could see the city she had visited before. Right in the middle was a large castle like building. It was suspected that Adria was being kept in a cell under there, and when those with special sight reported that it was covered with complex spells that pretty much confirmed it. Martin felt that he was pretty out of his league with those sorts of spells and so called Merlin to see if he was available to help them out. A brief conversation and both Merlin and his girlfriend Lirracasandra came through, or rather, as it turned out, not his girlfriend but his fiancee.
They decided they needed a bit more information before they could mount any kind of assault, so Merlin went down to get a closer look and the rest stayed up in the hills and kept a light trump contact to him. Merlin scouted a bit for info from the locals (listening only, as he would have been immediately recognized as an outsider were he to say anything - wrong accent) and learned little. Suddenly, the trump contact was broken and people panicked for a moment until Martin told them that Merlin had just brought up the Logrus to get a good up close look at the spells guarding the keep and thats why the trump stopped. About 10 minutes later, Merlin called back and was brought up to the rest of the group. He reported that there were a quite a few complex spells laid and it would take a long time to untangle all of them. On the other hand, he pretty completely understood the primary guard spell and thought he would be able to pretty easily create a masking spell that would let a group of people inside without setting off the alarms (basically giving us a psychic aura similar to the keep guards). It was at this point that they thought they should get someone more combat oriented to help with any physical assault they might make. So, they called me.
Well, I was in the middle of a job, but it sounded like Adria might be in real trouble, so I arranged a conveniently 'sprained' ankle and was left behind by the caravan for several days. When that bit was out of the way, I called Gwyneth back and she brought me through. After reviewing the situation and discussing options with people, it seemed that a plain old frontal assault would probably be the best way to go - there was pretty much no way to avoid being noticed and anything slower and more complex would mean we would lose the advantage of surprise. We wanted to have an escape hole available to us, so Merlin stayed behind on the hill side ready to pull us out via trump as soon as possible. This was complicated by no one having a trump of gwyneth or Jamie, but Merlin was able to fairly quickly toss off a couple of trump sketches which would work for at least as long as this business would take. We also trumped Adria and Tom and let them knwo that a rescue attempt was underway and so they should be prepared.
While Merlin was working on the sketches the rest of us headed to nearby shadows and equipped ourselves. Liira also shifted to her combat form for this venture - it looked very similar to her human form. When we got back, Merlin had the sketches ready and set off the aura disguise spell he had made as well. When it got to be suitably late (about 4:30 in the morning, but who can tell exactly from one shadow to the next), we headed down to the city. We got through the city with out being particularly noticed and paused for a brief conference before continuing. The keep was surrounded by a six foot or so high wooden palisade, and was it self made of wood as well. Much of the wood seemed to be still living and growing. After a quick survey failed to find any subtler approaches, we all just hopped over the palisade at the back and kept to the light tree cover as we approached the buidling itself.
There were 3 doors in the back, one large one in the center and smaller ones off to each side. We decided ont he left most door, and Liira used a Logrus tendril to unhook it from the inside. We entered and found ourselves in a large kitchen area. Nobody was about, but it looked large enough that people would probably be arriving sooner than we liked (providing food for enough people that they start REALLY early in the day). There were a few exits out and we took the right most, attempting a full search of the building starting with the perimiter and doing the back side (less likely to be habitated, and closer to the doors if we had to leave in a hurry). We got lucky and pretty quickly came upon a set of stairs leading down. We crept down until we saw a bit of light shining around the curve of the stair well. I peeked around the corner and saw a particularly vicious looking pair of the locals inhabitants (large, maybe eight or more feet high and correspondingly broad across the shoulders, vaguely feline based forms. These two were also armored and carried pretty nastly halberd-esque pole arms) standing guard in front of a door.
I pondered what to do for a bit and watched - they looked pretty bored. I signaled the rest of the rescue party that we were about to attack and then waited for an opportune moment. One of the guards turned to say something to the other, and the other was in the midst of yawning. I dropped down a few steps and sprang across the room at them, going for their throats with a pair of short swords - one apiece. I nailed the one that was turned away, but the other managed to bring his pole arm up in time to brush me aside. Those bastards were FAST! I tried to catch him with a foot as I went past, but he had managed to keep me far enough out that I missed. I went sailing past and hit the door hard and collapsed. However, I had apparently distacted him a bit, and so a second or so later, Liira took him in the throat with a clean and simple lunge. Neither had managed more noise than a startled 'Urk!', so far so good.
We listened at the door and when we were fairly sure there was no one waiting for us on the other side we went through. We found ourselves in an antechanber of sorts, with several doors leading out. We gently shut the one we came through and examined the others. There were two of them with light behind them. Upon opening them we found what looked like rows of cell doors going down a longish corrider that turned out of sight. We split up and each group started looking for Adria and Tom. I ran to the bend ont he corrider to make sure the coast was clear, and well I did, because it most certainly was not. I stuck my head around the corner to find myself face to face with yet another of these cat people. I had my swords out and so managed to kill it before it made a ruckus, but it was a close thing. After that, I went back to the front and tried simply opening one of the cell doors to see what was inside (they had no windows or other way of looking in). It was immediately charged from the inside by a cat person and I barely managed to get it closed again. In addition to being fast, these guys were incredibly strong. This was beginning to make nervous. In addition, it seemed that by opening the door soem sort of alarm had been set off.
Oh well, to hell with sneaking at this point. I started calling out for Adria and Tom. The people in the other row of cells got the idea as well and started calling out also. Of course, all the prisoners answered, but by listening at the doors we were able to tell pretty readily whether or not it was actually one of them. The folks in the other half found them both and called Merlin to get them out of there. They got pulled, and then the trump resistance of this area suddenly shot through the roof and the connections for the rest of us snapped off. Well, nothing for it but to defend ourselves now, and hope that Merlin and the few he had gotten out early would be able to get through some how. Nothing for it bu for the rest of us to defend ourselves. We regrouped and then all went to the corrider I had been in. The guards were maybe 60 seconds away.
We started simply opening the cell doors at that point, putting as many angry and desperate prisoners as possible between us and the imminently arriving guards. We had gotten about half way along to the bend when the guards appeared at the doorway. We continued what we were doing, but more quickly. As we looked back, there appeared in the doorway a shart dark haired human fitting the description of Tiaquaro and a much larger human dressed in fancy court clothes. The larger one raised his hands and started to gesture and we dove behind the door we had just opened. Flame and heat poured past and the area was filled with screaming and the smell of burning flesh. We quickly left the shelter of the cells we had taken refuge in and sprinted to the bend in the corrider. We heard the caster swearing. As soon as we rounded the bend I turned to prepare to guard the corner whiel the others (Jamie, Gwyneth, and Martin) started doing the open cell doors trick again.
Tiaquaro suddenly appeared from around the corner. I was not quite prepared for him to show up as he did, and so my little ambush plans went for naught. He was weilding what looked like an all metal battle axe with apparent ease, and grinning. He advanced and I defended myself. It was immediately apparent to me that he was incredibly better. I very quickly fell to an all out defense and retreat. As I retreated backwards, Gwyneth vanished in a puff of rainbow. The ones already on the outside had apparently managed something. There was hope I might yet get out of this. I continued retreating and Tiaquaro kept pressing. The man was incredible. Martin took the time to throw a dagger at him, but he just batted it away. I took the distraction as an opportunity and made a strike at one of his arms. Even distracted as he was, he got his axe around and blocked most of my blow. I managed to nick him, but that was all. Soon thereafter, Martin disappeared, leaving only Jamie and myself.
Things were getting tight. We were being pushed back towards the dead end of the corrider and were running out of doors to open and places to retreat. I kept hoping for that tingle of trump contact that would yank me out, but nothing came. With only a about 8 feet left, I stepped backwards past a newly opened door. Tiaquaro followed, and as he went past the door a human shape flew out and tackled him in the side, tumbling the both of them into a cell on the opposite side of the corrider. I got only the barest glimpse of him, enough to know that he seemed familiar, when a rainbow edged grey rectangle appeared behind Jamie and me. After a quick calculation of the importance of information and honor versus the importance of getting out of here in one piece, Jamie and I grabbed each others hand and jumped through the trump gate, leaving our beneactor to fend for himself.
Jamie and I came through on the hill side where the others were, but none of them has set up the gate. They were still trying to contact us when we tumbled on to the grass next to them. The gate immediately vanished. With out too much of a backwards glance, we beat a retreat to out shadow to recover. I noticed at that point that Tiaquaro had gotten through my guard at some point and left a nice gash along my left forearm. I hadn't even noticed in the course of the fight. The wonders of adrenaline. We spent the night at soem roadside inn or other. I left in the morning before the others could start quizzing me about Jamies' and my escape and headed back to the golden circle.
A few days after I got back and had rejoined the caravan, Dad showed up dressed as a common courier, delivered to me a note, and left. Just when I think that the old man has absolutely no sense of humor what so ever, he goes and does something strange like that. I suppose it keeps him from being predictable and is strategically sound and all that, but it makes it awfully hard to get to know him in any real sense - if there even is any such a thing as the 'real' Benedict outside of his role as the commander in chief of the armies of Amber. But now I'm getting bitter again.... Anywa, the note was a very nice invitation to the wedding of Merlin and Liira an week or so hence. I decided that, depsite the large amount of family stuff I had done lately, it still would likely be a pleasant and important event, so I would be there...