What Comes Around Goes Around

Nothing but cogs in a machine

Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”

The gnome could only look on in amazement as Theros turned to him.

“So, what next?”

Bart (newly re-introduced) the gnome pointed at the portal and indicated that was the groups direction.

“Just let me turn it on first.”

Theros looked at the short humanoid with some disbelief and a little annoyance.

“You were JUST telling us to flee those things by jumping down the hole because they couldn’t follow us. And NOW you tell us that it’s not even going? How is Desna’s name was that ever going to work then?”

A slightly apologetic shrug later, no more answers were forthcoming as Bart fiddled with the controls and got the portal working.

A sigh of frustration escaped from Theros, but he stepped on the portal, following immediately behind Arlen, only to find himself somewhere else.

A large circular area, with four compass point exits (N,S, E and W) and a large console near the middle greeted the young bard. Looking down, he was startled to find the floor was transparent, and he could see far below him, hundreds, thousands of the constructs, spread as far as the eye could see, all busily making more of themselves.

A glow caught his eye.

Floating, suspended somehow, was the very gem they were looking for. It was so close, Theros could almost touch it!

Bart the gnome pointed at it and indicated the console.

“I should be able to get that up here, but I’ll need to work on the console. I’ve not used this one, so it could be a bit hit and miss. You will have to guard the doors in case an alarm is set off and the clockwork are alerted to our presence.”

The group fell to impatient waiting. Some paced, some fidgeted, some did nothing. But all jumped in surprise when a loud blaring clarion call rung out form all around them. Bart looked a little defiant.

“I’ve never used this before. Gimme a break.”
One of the doors slid open, revealing a large clockwork golem, the same as the one above. Theros reminded Arlen not to cast spells at it and then focused his attentions on inspiring his party through song and music.
Behind the large golem were four more of the human sized clockworks. The large golem moved quickly out of the corridor and was met by an angry barbarian, only for Barney to be swept up into a pincer grip. Barney would not be lonely for long however, as Wolf snapped his sharp teeth at the golem, only to be grabbed as well.

Ashe cried out to Desna and she answered, allowing the two grabbed by the large clockwork to move freely (although they still could not escape the machines grasp) and then he went on the offensive, moving into position to stab at the construct if the opportunity presented itself.

Arlen filled the corridor with magical power and the four remaining clockwork collapsed into heaps on the floor. Two more were very quickly making their way towards the commotion though, so Arlen fried them as well, with some well placed magical missiles bursting from his fingers.

Nugg kept up a steady stream of summoned creatures, and Theros looked sadly at his quiver, only seeing five of his precious adamantium arrows remaining. He would need to do better this time than he did upstairs. These arrows were too valuable to waste.

Taking a deep breath, he mocked to first of them and began rapidly firing the arrows at the large construct, several of them hitting square on! These arrows, combined with the focused attention of the rest of the party, brought the clockwork behemoth down quickly.

Bart was able to silence the clarion call, but looking down, Theros could see that all the constructs looking up at the party. It was eerily quiet.

“Oooookkkkaaayyyy. Let’s get that gem and get out of here eh?”

Bart worked feverishly, finally getting the gem to appear on the platform. Barney nabbed it immediately and stood in silence for a few moments.

“We’re good to go. Those clockwork won’t do anything now.”

With no real time to discuss what had just happened, the party could only flee the chamber, going back up to the chamber above. Bart primed the pyramid to sink back below the earth, and Theros led the group out, with moments to spare.

The group was greeted by a now, very familiar face. Ziggy Beckett was leaning on the pillar that summoned the pyramid, watching as it sunk beneath the ground once more. He looked excited, curious and then, all of a sudden, shocked.

Ziggy looked at his chest in disbelief before stumbling and falling to the ground, landing on his knees. Two arrows could be seen sprouting out of his back!

Looking up, Theros spotted the griffin that had followed them the days prior was flying around and several people were moving in to surround Ziggy from all angles.

Barney cried out in rage.

“Kill Ziggy!”

He charged, directly at the fallen time traveller. He raised his sword as though to strike the man down, but diverted his blow at the last to attack one of the Time Lords instead. The look of abject fear on Ziggy’s face shifted to confusion. The look changed again to something cunning as Barney reached into his backpack to give Ziggy a potion of healing. As soon as Barney was close enough, Ziggy grabbed Barney’s hand, touched his ring and promptly vanished from the time stream. Barney’s curse must have been heard in Hexagon.

As this was taking place, the Time Lords had made their attacks as well. A foul cloud appeared over those gathered closest to Ziggy, one of their own included, and all coughed and grasped at their chests, the gas obviously causing them great discomfort.

Ashe had risen over the battlefield, arms outstretched like a benevolent Angel. This made him a target for the griffin rider and she duly charged, her lance striking Desna’s avatar with sickening force. The young acolyte grimaced and slowly descended to the ground, bracing his spear in preparation for another charge.

Theros had been in this situation so many times before that his standard inspirational tactics had become second nature. A song, followed swiftly by hastening his comrades. This, coupled with the blessing of Desna, meant the party were full of Devine vigorous and ready to cast down these Time Lords.

As the griffin flew overhead, Theros loosed arrow after arrow, but the skilful rider twisted and turned, dodging all the shots, much to Theros’ chargrin.

Magic flared out and one of the Time Lords fell, fatally wounded. Another fell shortly afterwards as well, more magic ending his life. Arlen had arrived to the scene and the Time Lords were learning of his might.

Soon, there was only the griffin and its rider remaining. She decided that discretion was the better part of valor and retreated, but a curse that Ashe had called down upon the griffin was still acting, and the griffin fell from the sky, a few hundred yards from the battle site. Barney, Nugg and his Wolf all followed to ensure that she couldn’t get up again.

They found her dead, collapsed from the impact of the fall.

All through the fight, Theros could not help but think back on the way that Ziggy escaped. He had told them a few nights ago that he had no idea how he time travelled, but his actions when in danger belied this. There was more that he was not telling them. Again.

Regardless, there was still an issue to deal with. The pyramid and the clockwork inside. What should have been a simple matter, turned into a large philosophical debate. Theros wanted to destroy the pillar, trapping the clockwork inside, since he was not able to destroy the clockwork themselves. Both Arlen and Nugg agreed.

Barney argued vociferously against this idea, stating that they were a sentient race that deserved to live and should not be trapped, and regardless, they were safe underground, no threat to anybody. When pushed on this point, Barney simply said that this is what he commanded them to do…stay there and do nothing.

The other issue was that if the ring was what commanded them, what would happen if the ring ever fell into the wrong hands? Barney was adamant that this would never happen. Except he was ignoring the simply fact that these things had been waiting for well over two thousand years, and he, as a human, would live to about seventy, provided he didn’t die a violent death prior to that, as was much more likely given his current line of work.

Theros couldn’t get his head around the argument. If they were sentient, why should they be trapped at all? Barney was arguing for the same result as Theros, but just digging in the mud about destroying the access to them. There was clearly more at play here, Theros could see it written all over Barney’s face, but he could not understand what the answer was at this point.

It was probably only the intervention of a compromised idea from Ashe that stopped Theros from coming to blows with somebody who would have beaten him utterly senseless.

Ashe and Nugg combined to cover, protect and conceal the pillar with a number of magical and divine effects. With nothing else to do but wonder what Barney was hiding from him, Theros started the long trek back to the nearest city, knowing that they would have weeks before they could get back to the caves and rescue the gnome and elf lovers.



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