Federation-Apocalypse Session 168 – The Pirates Graveyard

the deep well of fortress Königstein

The Wells of the Earth

With the golem-battle over, Marty was soothing ruffled feathers – both physical and metaphorical – while Raphael took a look at the residual enchantments and Kevin – Kevin had set about taking advantage of the female attention that his display of physical prowess had gathered. He was quite pleased! He’d been beginning to wonder if he’d EVER attract any girls! He promptly set about getting five of the cutest involved in an evenings recreation – and departed for some of the most expensive eateries, entertainments, and a VERY comfortable suite in the Kadian overlay zone at the Amarant Solutions hotel…

Marty sighed a bit. Still, despite the rather unsubtle approach, Kevin was definitely moving up the “normal relationships” scale. He’d gone from phantasms to ensouled slaves and now had reached “attract ensouled females with displays of power and wealth”. By comparison with his original, rather… primal relationships, that was almost normal.

He basked in the praise a bit and took a look to see how much damage had been done to the gardens. (As it turned out, it wasn’t that much; the golem had been put down quickly. Most of the damage was to the front gate and to the shop stalls along the street leading up to the Rabbit clan residence – plus, of course, the path leading out of the Cat Clan residence). Mostly what he wound up doing was calming down frightened kids with illusion and oratory.

Raphael found that the excitement had more or less wrapped up the Feline and Rabbit parties, even if it was a bit early. Unauthorized golem assaults between clans tended to do that.

Most of the locals – including the city guard – offered kudos and praise for stopping the golem, while Fred got a lot of scorn and dismay.

Raphael’s grand spellcasting, however, had attracted quite a few mages who wanted to speak with him – and ask a lot of annoying questions. Fortunately, he had an excuse ready-made; he needed to get back to the duel site to prepare dig up treasure and answer questions there.

Of course, his general answer was simply “I am immensely talented and rune magic capitalizes on raw talent more than skill – in addition to being highly wasteful with power.” “Where he’d trained” tended to just get “I’ve traveled a great deal” and “I picked up bits of magic all over, but mostly off this disk. I have some skill in creating and controlling portals. I am mostly self trained in magic. “

He truthfully named a lot of specific places too, albeit ones that none of them would ever have heard of – doing his best to establish himself as a mysterious traveling researcher. He avoided questions about himself in favor of answering technical questions about magic. After all, he lacked some of their natural magical talents, but looked just like the local species-variants. He didn’t want to lie, but neither did he want to openly admit that he was from outside their world and was only assuming the form of someone of their race. Somebody would probably use a “read between the lines” spell, but that was up to them. If they got their own answers, they’d have little choice save to believe them.

Meanwhile, a clean-up crew of Thralls had moved smoothly in behind Kevin. He quite often left a bit of a trail of destruction, and they’d gotten good following up with mending spells, cleanup, and medical treatment for any injured bystanders (in this case, mostly just a few light injuries from small debris and accidents involving invisibility that would heal up overnight anyway). Their presence did provoke more questions for Raphael though – mostly about where he’d gotten his “students”.

(A senior lion mage) “And was that the same sort of magic that your colleague Angkor used to create those… winged serpent creatures that he has installed in the city?”

(Raphael) “I don’t know. He might have used something like it, but I did not see him do it. His magic and mine are not really compatible, and it’s very hard for the same person to learn both. He did train some of my assistants in the earlier demonstration.””

Meanwhile, Marty was dealing with the drunken rabbit again. He was busily ranting about how attacks and threats “like this just get given a pass”, or treated as “accidents” by foolish mages, rather than being seen as veiled threats against the rabbits – which they so obviously were!

(Marty) “Hey, he’s got a minder now. You know what that means, right?”

(Drunk) “Yeah! It means that they’re pretending he’s not responsible because he’s a reckless idiot! Somehow no one is EVER responsible!”

(Marty, whispering) “No, you’re missing the opportunity. That’s a potential in for watching what he’s doing! And then you can catch whatever he’s doing in advance and head it off!”

Marty used the link to tell the minder-thralls that – if they did get anyone from the Rabbit Clan prying into Fred’s business – they were to notify either him or Kevin.

(Drunk) “I bet you parrots understand how it is! You have trouble with the Cats too don’t you? Those arrogant bastards think they can push us all around!”

(Marty) “Oh, we’re watching them, all right.”

Meanwhile, Raphael had dodged the most awkward questions by going back to the treasure-searching… His opponents first; that way they could check on his on the way back!

Kevin had delegated some Thralls to keep an eye on the locations, but the City Guard was already doing that. They took their jobs as duel-judges pretty seriously. A crowd had begun to gather at the retaining wall thanks to the reports of buried treasure, but there hadn’t been any looting – and the Thralls could verify that no apparent attempts to tamper with the site had been detected.

The site was nothing major. An otherwise nondescript section of old retaining wall that a ramp leading to the upper levels of the city had been built along. A number of the bricks had various inscriptions on them from over centuries.

The guards cordoned off the road above and an area around the wall as the mages began to work on dismantling the wall. Bricks were stacked, and dirt piled to the side, as the magical digging commenced… Soon a large black wooden chest was been found and was removed from the wall and laid on the road in front of the judges and duelists.

(Judge) Morganic Wildwood? Interesting….

Raphael looked on patiently. This might be interesting!

(Judge) “First I think a few checks for traps and such is in order. One second. (He cast a few spells and looked slightly annoyed.) Well, bother, it looks like it’s designed to release a spell upon opening, but I can’t tell what.”

Morganic Wildwood was from a rare tree that tended to warp magic around itself. Area of effect spells tended to go around it, divinations were usually diverted, and it could make an effective containers of magic if it was properly sealed. It was incredibly rare these days due to overharvesting and exploitation. These days that much of the stuff would fetch a very good price on the open market, let alone among mages wishing for a place to store valuable or troublesome items or spells.

Marty made a note to plant some more! Unless, perhaps, the thing was holding a city-destroying spell that it had been used to catch – but if it was that, it would probably have a warning label.

(Judge) Best guess on what triggers it is either breaking the seal – which is most likely – or simply physically opening the lid or removing the contents from inside the chest.

One of the Thralls promptly volunteered! Telekinesis should work fine!

He did wait for the go-ahead though, as some of the others got wards and containments ready. He had magic-absorbing abilities after all; those helped out a lot with jobs like assisting-kooky-mages and magical-bodyguard!

(Judge) “Alright, let’s go ahead and open it then, I would like everyone not involved in containment to please step back now. You’ll get to see the contents soon enough I think.”

It was a fairly tight lid with a lip to prevent a direct line to the inside. It wasn’t perfectly seamless though. The guards had put up their own protections over the area, and there was a simple mechanical lock – dirty but functional. It was easy enough to undo.

Raphael was busy squashing the temptation to find out what is in the box kust a few minutes early as he didn’t want to interfere with his competitor’s find.

The Thrall hunkered down and popped the lid – just a crack at first.

A spell (it looked like a Geas/Compulsion of some sort) rushed out of the partially open lid, and was promptly absorbed – and things went silent as a hush fell over the crowd and the moment of excitement passed.

(Judge, with mild surprise) “An interesting talent there child. Now that was rather anti-climatic, but that is part of the job I suppose. We can’t have too much excitement in the city to be sure. Besides, we’d be putting Fred out of work then.”

(Thrall) “Thank you sir! It is handy for handling magical accidents!”

The chest was full of rolled up rugs or tapestries, each tied with a colorful ribbon.

Marty grinned as a wild though ran through his head… A set of deeds revealing that half the current property ownership in the city was invalid! A mighty treasure for GENERATIONS of lawyers! To be promptly burned and never spoken of again!

The Cheetah pulled out one of the rolled up pieces of cloth and unrolled it along the ground. As it unrolled, a number of (partially full) bookcases sprang up out of the rolled up cloth to stand on the street.

That was rather neat!

(Judge) “Oh now THAT is an interesting enchantment for a carpet!”

The books looked to be old and handwritten. Each bookcase seemed to specialize in a particular topic.

The Thrall thought that was very neat too! But they were old and fragile… He promptly ran a “scan to smartclothes memory” spell!

(Raphael) “Now that is nice a treasure”

The second carpet unrolled to reveal an alchemical test setup. Somewhat outdated by modern standards but very high quality for the time. It even had a large rack of preserved and sealed ingredients.

The third one was a crafting toolbox and worktable.

It looked like a mage’s portable workshop… or an attempt to preserve a main one from some catastrophe.

(Judge) “Alright, now that is an impressive treasure to have found on a random duel I must say.”

Marty had to agree! Of course, the Cheetah had to be both an expert and to have put a BIG effort into it. Treasure-finding was likely to be one of the more popular divinations out there! Of course, there were probably an awful lot of them in this realm… Perhaps there was a law of conservation of buried treasure? That would be different, but it might suit an adventure-realm!

(Raphael) “I really can’t argue there.”

(Guard) “That will be one hell of a consolation prize even if he ends up losing the duel.”

(Judge) “Now the full valuation and inventory of this one is going to take some time. Do we wish to go see what is at the other site now or wait until we have a total to beat?”

The Thralls, the Crowd, and most of the Guards voted for now. It would be more exciting, and less work!

(Raphael) “Hm… that is a hard question. Lets go see what I found so the apraisers do not have to wait for us to dig up the other one.”

Soon enough they wound up at a well in the middle of the street intersection.

Raphael threw a quick divination to scout the way down the well, making sure that it showed in a pool of water so that the others could see what he was doing. A clairvoyance spell – even with some boosts and magic-analysis thrown in – was simple enough.

First off there was a grill designed to keep people from falling to far. Below that was more tunnel down until a large underground chamber was reached. There were a number of purification and taste improving spells in place in the chamber itself, along with a number of dimensional magics imbedded into the floor in a sort of a ring pattern. There was a slight circling current that seemed to come out of nowhere…

Raphael did a memory-boosting spell on himself to get all the details and clues he’d originally gotten. It had seemed like… the quickest path to a large amount of unclaimed underground treasure could be found at the bottom of this well.

Gateway or extradimensional space? Either way, it must have been warded really well.

Gate. The moment his probe passed the bottom, it appeared underwater in what looked to be a natural cavern system. There was a significant current as an underground river flowed past – and there was light above the water.

He followed it – while the Thralls cheerily ran a telekinetic elevator service for the Judges, Marty, the Cheetah, Raphael, themselves, and a few brave bystanders.

Raphael made a bubble-spell to keep out the water and the current.

Meanwhile, the eye had surfaced to find a lit chamber. There were a number of shelves with what look to be underwater equipment, clothing, a lit magical fireplace, and other items. At the back of the chamber was a warded doorway.

(Raphael) “Drat, the eye will not be able to pass wards. I guess we will have to go down there.”

It took a few moments to pry loose the grill preventing people from entering the depths of the well. After that it was a simple matter to let the thralls lower them.

Marty began to feel a distinct burning sensation upon entering the chamber at the bottom of the well, followed by the sensation of sweating. It was quite uncomfortable progressing to burning. It looked like… a number of inscriptions on the wall were currently glowing and it had something to do with water.

Kevin, meanwhile, was off partying with a young, naive, and impressed catgirl, a mink who thought that he’d make an interesting and useful connection, a pair of zebra twins who were out for a fling – and a Coyote girl who thought that he was blatantly good for child support in a luxurious style.

Not that the details mattered all that much to HIS intentions (or that he’d actually bothered checking), but the five of them were definitely an interesting variety pack!

Back with the treasure hunting, Marty wasn’t a grand expert on magical stuff like Raphael was – but he’d gotten a good deal better then he used to be. It looked like a theurgical spell, meant to remove all impurities from the water inside the warded area – followed by a number of exceptions listed to help the taste and such. It was WAY more powerful than it needed to be- and it was busily trying to purify his body into pure drinking water. Still, he could easily heal the effects for the moment.

Raphael noted the power too – and that there was sufficient magical shielding in the walls and grating to prevent it from looking out of the ordinary from the outside.

Raphael sent in his nanite-based golem-tech constructs – currently in the guise of stone golems.

(Marty) “Hi golems! I hope you’re getting hazard pay for this!”

(Monotone robot voice) “No”

(Marty) “Ah, not that kind of golem then.”

The robots had issues with the purification spell too, but not nearly enough to stop them. They walked along the bottom to the dimensional circle – and, as the first one stepped fully inside, it vanished and appeared in the underground cavern.

Raphael had them look around, climbing out of the river and onto dry land. As they approached the fireplace, they were instantly dried off. The shelves were – as he’d already reported – lined with quite a bit of “wetsuit” equipment of some sort. The door lay beyond that and was magically warded – but, physically, it looked like a simple heavy wooden door with a heavy latching mechanism designed to keep it shut from the outside.

There didn’t seem to be anything preventing the golem from using the latching mechanism and opening the door – so he had it go ahead.

The door opened to reveal a number of torches lighting up in sequence down a short hallway. Beyond that there was a massive chamber with pillars greater in height and diameter than a redwood…

Sadly, the place was too big for the torches to illuminate.

Raphael did a little playing with space so they could bypass the pesky purification spell and get in easily.

In the huge cavern massive stone pillars supported a roof they could barely see . The smell of saltwater filled the air, and they could hear a dripping sound of water and a faint sound of creaking wood. The torches look to be eternal magical lights…

Wait, were those ships out there? With one hauled up and out of the water?

It looked to be… three ships, one with a broken mainmast and the other two with extensive battle damage. One had a large enough hole just above the water line that it was amazing that it had managed to make it….. wherever this was. Scaffolds were erected around the three ships, and it looked like the repairs had been in progress before being interrupted. An even larger scaffold encapsulated a much larger ship under construction. All of them had black sails – and there were a fair number of skeletal remains lying about the place.

Pirates? This was definitely one way to hide a buccaneer’s den.

(Raphael) “Well, this is not at all what I expected.”

The entire place seemed to be warded and barriered – and it looked like the cause of death of the first corpse he checked was disembowelment followed by bleeding to death. Could something still be living here?

The Thralls – and Judges – started enthusiastically start doing small divinations and such to catalog everything that was there – while Raphael left a golem to guard the place and headed back up.

Hm. It looked like the dimensional effect was a modified version of the water teleport spell used to supply fresh, clean water to the city’s water supply. It had been modified to be two way, and to not be picky about letting things other than water pass through the gateway. In compensation a purification spell appears to have been added/enhanced on the well side of things to keep the water clean for drinking and avoid raising suspicion of tampering with the teleportation charm.

(Guards) “Wait, you’ve found a pirate lair under the well?”

(Raphael) “It looks like some pirates put a back door into your city from their private shipyard then died.”

Some of the Thralls cheerily started showing images.

(Guard) “Any idea of what they died of?”

(Marty) “Disembowelment and bleeding to death. Either they killed each other over booty or something got them.”

(Raphael, looking sternly at Marty) “Apparently one died of disembowelment. I figured it would be safer to came back and tell people what was there before looking into it any more”

(Guard) “Great, now I have to summon some guards to do a search of the place as well. The paperwork involved is going to be a nightmare.”

(A Thrall) “Well, there should be a city or judges share for this sort of thing shouldn’t there? After all, duels can be expensive! And won’t that pay for it?”

(Raphael) “Sorry, but it is better to know about a back door in the middle of the city. You might want to prepare for when the dimensional spell wears down in a few hours and the over purification effect goes back to dangerous levels”.

(Guard turning to one of the others) “Right, summon the civil mages and tell them we need to shut down some of the infrastructure enchantments. And tell them to send someone who actually knows what he is doing as opposed to following manuals.”

Some of the Thralls cheerily volunteered to help. They knew ships after all, and pirate stuff was always interesting!

Raphael sighed and set up some recording spells. Obviously this was going to go on all night at least.

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