Excerpt from “My Adventures – The Life of Theros Vitalstatistix, vol.3”
A cheery campfire with people seemingly happy to chat was a welcome start to a long foot journey. so when the offer to join them was forthcoming, Theros practically leaped at the chance.
It didn’t take long to notice something amiss however. A symbol on their shoulders was fairly prominent, and they were obviously making no effort to conceal it. The symbol of the Time Lords!
Theros gulped back a wee shiver, wondering what could draw a group that had been chasing them on and off (while focusing on Ziggy Beckett primarily) into the very same area Theros’ group was exploring in, at the same time. Something was happening, but for the life of him, Theros couldn’t figure out what was going on.
What started as friendly chatter around a camp fire turned suspicious. Questions were being asked that had Theros feeling concerned that his group were going to get attacked in their sleep. To stave off the ill-will, Theros broke into a performance, and knowing what was at stage, he was very pleased with his performance.
It was agreed that there would be one person from each group on watch at each juncture. Theros tried a sneaky option. Knowing Nugg only had to sleep two hours each night, he cast a spell of messaging when he was pretending to break water, and asked Nugg to feign sleep when it wasn’t his shift so that he could keep an eye on everything going on.
This made Theros feel more comfortable, but after the nights rest, it was clear that attack wasn’t the first thought, getting more information was. Each party member was quizzed intensely about why they were there, and only Nugg (who simply changed into an animal to do his watch) and Theros, who turned the conversation around to where the group was getting their information from, seemed immune overall.
Theros did find out that the Time Lords were working off an ancient text, but they were unable to decipher or make out all of it. The title mentioned that it was written by somebody called “statistix” and they were sure that there was more to the name, so when Theros expressed interest in the book because his last name was Vitalstatistix, he feared he’d made a large error, without realising why.
It seemed that a copy of the books Theros would write, somehow ended up in the past, and was being used by the Time Lords to hunt down Ziggy Beckett. Some might take this as a sign that writing memoirs was not a good idea, but it was plain to Theros that he had ALREADY written them, so he might as well KEEP writing them. Time travel made the young bards head hurt.
The two groups made their separate ways from the camp, and Nugg led the group to where he thought the centre of the desert would have been. Along the way, a griffin was spotted, following the group. It was the same one the Time Lords used for one of their members mounts. Theros was being followed!
Which simply made him more determined to succeed. And Barney helped in his own, special way.
“Oi! You fullas following us! We gonna share camp again tonight?!”
And throughout the day, Barney would wave at the rider until seen and watch as the rider veered away.
Night fell and a quick camp was made. Ashe suggested that the party re-locate to throw the Time Lords off their trail somewhat. A plan was hatched involving fog, wind, rope tricks and the dead of the night. Suffice to say, more planning went into the event than the event really needed, and the Time Lords lost the trail.
“There’s Time Lords out there!”
Ziggy Beckett…somehow the errant time traveler and most obvious cause of all this turned up. Inside a spell. Theros sighed as he realised he had no cutlery near to hand to throw.
The night passed and Ziggy was filled in. He was horrified, but also started picking up on the groups overall lack of desire to have Ziggy around. It seemed that the group blamed Ziggy for their current predicament, feeling as though Ziggy had somehow been manipulating their lives at almost every turn.
Ziggy joined the group as they traveled deeper into the forest, Nugg certain of his bearings.
Theros struggled to find a way to like Ziggy and it was showing. His acerbic tongue more than once lashing the time traveling mage like a whip, until finally Ziggy could take it no more.
“Fine! Screw you! I’m out of here!”
Ziggy stormed off into the jungle, leaving the group to their own devices, but not before a voice cried out to his retreating back.
“You’ll be back. Again.”
Theros felt almost immediately calmer. It was highly likely that he was taking his frustrations out on the wrong person, but the way Ziggy cryptically doled out information while never really knowing what was going on incensed the bard. A story needed to be whole! Especially his own.
Nugg finally found the spot he was searching for, and some form of pillar was beckoning the party…Barney really…the ring more specifically…closer. Barney lifted his hand and slotted his ring into a groove on the pillar, apparently made specifically for it, and the group watched as a pyramid rose from the ground, a short distance from where they were standing.
Easy access was provided and Theros walked up to the pyramid and what passed for a door simply slid open as he approached, sliding shut again once everybody was inside.
The walls were covered in murals, or painting of people. It showed a people moving through the ages, learning, progressing through history.
At a juncture ahead, the room Theros stood in branched in two directions. Up and down. Down was caved in and up was clear, so that appeared to be the path. It was here that Theros met his first automation. A small spider like mechanical being called down the stairway, followed by several humanoid looking automations.
Theros tried a number of languages, but the paintings seemed to suggest short stature people such as gnomes, so he tried greeting the automations in gnome. Lesson for the day? Don’t speak to automations in gnome tongue if they were created by gnomes and over threw them violently.
The automations attacked.
Initially they focused on the one that spoke what was obviously a hated language, but powerful magics from Arlen, coupled with mighty swings from Barney and support from the others saw the clockworks swiftly destroyed.
As up was their only option, up Theros led the group.
The group encountered a room with numerous automations resting against the walls in devices, while several others were working at something resembling a gnomish console in the corner. This could have been a dangerous situation, but Arlen again called on a powerful spell and a small pea of fire left his hands, via his magical rod, and exploded in the room, leaving only wreckage where working clockwork had been moments before.
The console had survived relatively unharmed, and Barney busied himself with destroying the still standing automations in case they should activated. He then approached and the console opened, revealing a gnome, looking harried and confused.
Introductions were made (and only in gnomish dear readers, and an ancient dialect at that, meaning that Theros was currently the only one who could hold a conversation, while Ashe, through use of a spell, could at least understand the gnome)and a potentially fake name given by the gnome, calling himself simply “Brian” led to the understanding that the clockwork creatures had indeed revolted and overthrew their gnomish masters, and now potentially after several thousand years, had made enough of themselves to take over the world. They needed to be stopped, and the only way was at the bottom of the pyramid apparently.
And the way down was through a chute at the apex. Past two guardians. Whom Brian said were not able to be defeated. And the only option was to run past them and leap into the chute, knowing that machinery could not follow.
This sounded like yet another thing Theros had been told he couldn’t do. He gritted his teeth. Not the best bard. Not the best story teller. Not the best archer. Not the best leader. Can’t kill this thing. Can’t defeat that thing. As Desna as his witness, these mechanical monstrosities were being destroyed!
A large chamber showed two large automations. Both substantially bigger than Barney, the largest of the group. The gnome cried out in fear and yelled at the group to flee to the chute. With only Ashe and Theros able to understand him, the party all but ignored the diminutive addition.
Arlen looked to Theros.
“What weakness do these things have?”
Never having heard or seen these before, Theros turned to Brian and the gnome explained that one was susceptible to electricity and the other should not be attacked by spells at all.
Barney charged one, and after a couple of massive blows, was promptly swallowed, (leading to the nickname “Barney the Gobstopper”) again. While the rest of the party were trading blows, Theros sang to inspire and cast the spell of Haste to aid them and then focused on shooting his expensive adamantium arrows at the clockwork that was immune to spells. He only had ten adamantium arrows total, so he had to make them count. He didn’t.
Luckily, Arlen blasted the other clockwork with several bolts of electrical power and fried it, Barney inside and all. He then promptly disappeared, invisible.
Between Ashes’ thrusts, Nuggs’ summoned minions and Theros’ pinpoint archery, the other golem fell. Ashe breathed a sigh of relief. His body looked a mess of cuts, bruises and sweat as he had borne the brunt of the attacks and Desna be praised, had just survived, healing himself just enough.
Brian the gnome looked on in utter amazement at the destruction. Barney grunted in disgust and wiped himself down as best he could while the others looked down the chute.