Federation-Apocalypse Session 188a – The Blossomary War

OK, the posting problems and time-crunch are (hopefully) over with, so it’s time to start catching up again…

With evening fallen, the group took their luggage down to the Inn’s finest rooms, piled Rusty, Feanor, and Limey onto a trivially-transmuted dog bed to sleep, and went out to get some dinner. It wasn’t all THAT late, and some good places should still be open!

Kevin, of course, was inclined towards “meat and lots of it!, while Marty – at least in his current form – was inclined towards fruits, nuts, and other seeds… They wound up at an omnivore establishment.

That wasn’t too hard. There were several of those, and a couple that catered to herbivores, and even one for Carnivores – mostly because those only appeared locally as visitors. In addition there were numerous shops that sold food and ingredients for buyers to take home and cook. There were lots of grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and eggs. Other meats were rarer, and tended to go for a higher price.

They wound up at an omnivore restaurant that featured lots of imported food, including the more “common” meats like beef, pork, chicken, and such that weren’t found locally. It also tended to serve oversized portions and catered to the “rich foreign trader” clientele. It was run by a cat.

(Kevin) “Lots of roast pork! And some to go afterwards!”

Marty had a lavish vegetarian salad, while Raphael had much smaller servings of meat… How on earth did Kevin eat like that and not explode much less remain slender… Oh. Godfire. His body and image wouldn’t change unless you convinced most of his Thrall-followers that it already had – and he made quite enough personal appearances to discourage THAT.

Whereas poor Marty would have a hard time losing weight as he accumulated more followers. That was kind of funny really! “All these prayers are making me fat!”

Soon enough a mouse appeared to deliver the salad for Marty – while another pair of mice wheeled out a cart. The cat-chef then appeared in an overly stereotypical chef’s outfit and described the salad in exquisite detail as it was put in front of Marty – and then did the same with Kevin and Raphael’s dinners. He showed a meticulous care with spicing and preparing his meals along with a good flare for presentation.

Marty was impressed! That sort of thing was a lot of work! Good service!

Kevin, of course, would leave large tips – at least if the food was any good!

It wasn’t quite as good as that of the best grease pit in Cyrweld, but there wasn’t any trouble with fires and there was a lot more effort on presentation and a more “refined” taste. The chef just wasn’t the type of cook who’d simply slap another cut on the grill; he spent a lot more effort on selecting the food – rather than relying on little magics. Still, it was pretty good!

There was a fair amount of interest in the visiting foreigners – over and above the rumors about how much money they’d dropped on their accommodations. There was quiet whispering going on around them at the others tables as glances were stolen.

Then a mouse-child trotted over.

(Child) “Hey are you guys mages? I’m told almost everyone is a mage here!”

Kevin – who had cheerfully been eating enormously, listening in on a few whispers, and disintegrating bones and such so that they didn’t clutter up the table, figured that this was more or less rhetorical, and the kid just wanted a close look.

(Kevin) “Of course we are! Would you like to see some magic?”

(Child) “Sure!”

Kevin pulled one of his semi-everfull bags of nourishing, non-fattening, and non-tooth-decaying Core candy out of the air for him, along with a minor local charm – a hoverboard (those worked like a skateboard, but jumped better and could cross short stretches of water – such as the local canals).

That resulted in a small stampede of children and a number of adults trying to restore order to the place.

Marty kept on munching on his salad and tried not to laugh as Kevin handed out assorted presents for children – and basic witchcraft powers whenever a child asked for some magic for themselves.

It wasn’t long before ALL of them caught on to that!

(Raphael) “Careful! Santa Clause might get annoyed at you ripping off his gig!”

Hey, wait; Old Kringle WAS a saint, and would presumably be opposed to demons… Still, he had hundreds of competitors already. On the other hand, presumably he would be upset by an anti-santa who came in summer and only gave presents to naughty children.

Besides, while the idea of Saint Nicholas coming to do holy battle with the Arch Demon Kevin in order to protect the children of the Manifold was interesting, Kevin was still a child himself – and it was really hard to say if he was genuinely evil or just posing.

(Kevin) “Ah, he’s not local anyway!”

There was some chaos as a number of the children with poor sense of restraint immediately begin testing and abusing their new powers – but Kevin had anticipated that, and had used the Arcanum (so that he could shut them down if they made too much trouble), Spirit (just in cast they somehow managed to get killed), and Spell Failure (when being overly naughty) pacts. They could use their new talents for mischief and self-defense, not for really making little vermin of themselves…

Raphael sighed – and quietly (and carefully hiden from Kevin’s notice) created warning pamphlets in the parents pockets about the possible problems involved in their children liking Angkor too much. He threw in some timed divination effects to make sure they looked at them later – and, to be fair, threw in some of Kevin’s usual advertising pamphlets as well.

Of course that did make it hard to provide serious warnings… “If you let your adolescent children like Angkor too much he may give them incredible benefits (including immortality) and then allow them regular visits home and a lot of sex during a potentially embarrassing indenture period” just didn’t have the same impact as something like “Beware Satan the Deceiver!”.

Kevin hadn’t actually been recruiting; he was a guest here, and that was explicitly against the local rules – but how could he be blamed if someone else went around attempting to warn people about him just because they didn’t want to be accused of not giving a fair warning of what was likely to happen if Kevin and the local kids were left to themselves.

Raphael knew that Kevin was just showing off – but he’d specifically picked up ninjaneering, mystic stealth, and a few other stealth skills that might be relevant just to help him avoid the consequences if there was no warning of what allowing Kevin to show off for kids might lead to…

The parents eventually got things under control as the cat chef made his displeasure over all the nonsense going on in his restaurant quietly known – although quite a few of the children continued to busily play with their new magicks and charms at the various tables – at least until fatigue or spell failure kicked in.

Well, it was only basic witchcraft. Their powers were pretty limited anyway.

They did tip well (Kevin tipped to the tune of fifty times the price of the meal or so, which seemed to alleviate a good deal of the Chef’s anger) and headed back to the inn to check on Limey and the pets After all, it was late and a lot of places would be closed unless the mice ran a round-the-clock schedule. (Normally the rats and mice would indeed set up a round-the-clock society, but the population here was small enough that – except for a few key occupations – most business was conducted during the day.

Raphael kept a close eye on Kevin and his “accidental” recruiting advertisements.

Kevin waved good-bye to the local kids and left to await the shockwaves… Distributing minor charm-toys was one thing. Bestowing short-term powers was impressive. When they found out that the powers – however minor – were still there in the morning and even seemed to be permanent, there were going to be inquiries…

Barring external chaos, that seemed sufficient to call it a night!

Raphael once again reinforced the area he slept in with some magic and set up enough alarm spells that he felt safe sleeping there.

After that he set his robots on guard duty and settled down to sleep in…

Kevin left guard duty to his usual trio (They were deep underground anyway!) and retired to his chambers with a few concubines, Feanor to “guard the door” and Rusty to sleep at the foot of the bed in case he needed anything during the night.

Things were pretty quiet untill about three in the morning – at which point a series of bells started ringing quite loudly.

(Marty) “Gah! My head!”

(Kevin) “Oh now what! I just got to sleep!”

Raphael sent a robot out to look outside and ask someone what was going on.

(Kevin) “If that’s a “The city is collapsing” klaxon I’m going to be quite annoyed! Why should they need noisy alarms twenty levels down? Aren’t the defense forces near the surface?”

(Raphael) “Well, it COULD be the “Our city under a swamp sprung a leak bell””

Well, if a bunch of mouse-kids started turning up in Kadia, Kevin would be pleased that he got to them in time…

It looked to Raphael like the town was going into a lockdown mode. Large steel blast doors were sealing off most of the major corridors, people were running for the various “buildings” carved into the stone, and city guards are taking positions in most of the major open areas pulling hoses behind them.

(Kevin) “Oh for… Can’t I sleep? At least I can sleep in over in the dragonworlds today; there was plenty of room in the cells! And nothing ever happens in Hogwarts, although the servants are soon going to think that Squire Jenkins has narcolepsy or is an immortal of sleep!”

(Raphael) “Lets go see if this needs our help… hopefully Godzilla is not fighting a giant version of swamp thing outside.”

Kevin glanced at him curiously… It took the computers in Kadia a second or so to sort THAT one out. Godzilla, yes, but “Swamp Thing”? Ah! Another one of those obscure 20’th-century references that were common in the New Imperium!

(Marty) “I want to see that! If it’s happening, that is… Well, OK: if it’s NOT happening, we’ve got to MAKE it happen somewhere where I can see it!”

And with those words, Marty accidently established the unlimited-class monster-wrestling federation back in Escrima…

(Kevin) “Oh well! Off we go again!”

Outside the hotel, in the main plaza for this level, they could see the guards suiting up into full body gear of some sort while standing watch. One of them will saw the group leave the hotel – and came towards them.

(Guard) “I’m sorry, but you need to remain indoors for the time being for your own protection. That hotel is rated as a defense shelter and should be safe enough. We will let you know if there is a need to evacuate.”

(Marty) “What’s going on?”

(Another guard) “Word is that the flowers are back again. Some of them have managed to take root and may be penetrating down into the lower levels. I don’t expect them to get this far, but we can’t take any chances.”

(Kevin) “Now that sounds amusing! So they’re pestering you here too? I presume that the flamethrowers are useful against them?”

(Guard) “Flame throwers are useful against the white and yellow ones, but the red and blues are resistant to the flames. Red ones because they seem to be able to set things on fire and the blue ones because they have that layer of slime protecting them. Water works well on those though.”

(Kevin, to the party) “Oh well! Who wants to destroy some flowers?”

(Second Guard) “Just have to be careful that they don’t set things on fire and create slipping hazards.”

(Marty) ‘”Me! I want to destroy flowers!”

(Kevin) “Raphael?”

(Raphael, somewhat sarcastically) “Oh sure. why not? What’s the plan?”

He could just see their “plan” – doubtless “go to the lowest level and make a heroic last stand there” so that they could show off to the maximum possible extent in front of a cowering civilian audience?

(Kevin) “Go up until we find some flowers!”

Marty agreed! He wanted to get them before they came down here.

Raphael was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t MUCH of a plan, but at least it made sense!

Blasting their way through the doors seemed like a poor idea though.

Marty supposed that they could teleport…

(Kevin) “Oh, we’re guests! Lets ask the guards!”

(Guard) “Wait, you actually want to go up? You do realize we are under attack right?”

(Kevin) “Oh well! We’re guests, so it’s sort of obligatory to help out! And it’s good experience for my aides!”

Raphael was looking at the doors. Looked like they were also meant to serve as flood control; they were far too tight to slip past.

Kevin considered teleportation – but he wasn’t really very familiar with anywhere on the outside to go…

(Raphael to the group) “Are any of you using portable holes or the like?” (And to the guards) “How thick are the doors?”

(Kevin) “Oh, I could just phase us! I don’t think I’ve done that recently!”

(Raphael) “Or I could make an elevator space that can close the door”

(Doubtful Guard) “Well, we can’t exactly stop you. You can open the doors via the winch located next to the doors. That operates the counterweight system. The lever on either side slams the door shut again.”

(Guards) “The doors are 18 inches thick. At least I think they are inches here.”

Kevin consulted his map, beckon to the aides and pets (putting the pets more in the middle, since they were along to see how to fight a bit more sensibly), set up a phase door, and started leading the precession through the still-solid seeming doors

Raphael just cast a warp-pocket with mobile adjustable exits and expanded size, so he could just move the doorways up to the surface.

(Raphael) “This way is less repetitive if we have to go through multiple doors.”

Marty decided to try the space warp, it sounded like more fun than just teleporting.

(Raphael) “Feel free to step in.”

He and his robots stepped into the invisible hole in the air.

Kevin didn’t mind the repetition; it let him dramatically gesture and lead his precession through solid matter so all the locals could see!

Marty preened and strutted through.

The stairs and “ladders” got dull after a few levels – but at level -3 they come across a number of roots that had penetrated the stone and dirt above and were criss-crossing their way around the level. Buds were forming and dropping little flowers across the floor as it grew. The flowers in turn ran off to spread havoc and keep the guards busy while the roots continued to grow… The guards, meanwhile, were busily using water hoses, flamethrowers, swords, and guns to keep the flowers at bay. Small fires were starting, pink clouds of gas were floating about, sparks were flying, and slime was quickly covering the floor.

They were quite appalled at the sudden arrival of a gang of children.

Kevin started summoning tremendous swarms of flower-and-root eating insects.

That began to work nicely, save for the insects that tried to munch on the white flowers that released pink gas. Those insects quickly fell to the ground – dying and de-summoning.

(Kevin) “Bother! I guess the white ones have toxins!”

Raphael stepped out his pocket-warp to summon some astral-construct robots armed with tanks of liquid nitrogen and self-renewing ice armor. He had them focus on the white ones that killed the bugs.

Those started making rapid progress as well.

(Kevin) “OK kids! Rusty, Feanor, pay attention now! Individual attacks, tailor them to opposing weaknesses if possible, don’t throw any spells unless you’re sure of your target! Closest flowers first, no area effects unless you can either hit a batch who DEFINITELY have no allies in the area OR you are using effects that will ONLY harm opponents! Rusty and Feanor, follow the guidance of the more experienced aides! Protect civilians first, guard personnel second!”

The guards gaped as the “helpless children” started casually annihilating everything that came near them with a steady stream of magical blasts.

Marty went go after the closest blue one, since they wouldn’t spit fire or toxins at him (although he WAS expecting something else).

Ah. A simple pass of his knife was quite sufficient to annihilate a dozen or so of the things – transforming them into a spray of slippery bluish slime.

(Marty) “Ick!”

Kevin let his pocket-companions handle keeping everything clean, and kept summoning more swarms of flower-eating bugs… Some of the flowers were way too big for bugs though; so he left them to Marty.

The flowers, of course, fought back, swarming over Raphael’s robots and freezing them into masses of ice, trying a mass rush on Marty – and fairly effectively too thanks to their cumulative elemental attacks – and deploying their toxins against the insects.

Marty was on fire, slipping around, giving off massive waves of sparks, and emitting a large pink cloud of poison. Still, there was nothing yet which exceeded his regenerative abilities.

For the moment, at least, the Thralls were able to keep the area around themselves and Kevin fairly free of pests.

(Kevin) “Feanor, focus on force-shields to keep your allies safe, Rusty, heal anyone who’s injured, Aides, switch to conjurations and indirect attack spells… Your innate healing should handle most of it. Oh yes! More bugs!”

Marty decided to skip the slime and went after red flowers instead of blue.

Those blew up in small fireballs, which was at least hard on the other flowers too. The white and yellow began running around with their petals on fire screaming.

They weren’t intelligent though, just programmed.

Meanwhile, Raphael was gathering power and subdividing his mind to take many actions at the same time, so that he could summon more “robots” – equipping them with area-effect elemental attacks to smite flowers with (and for Marty to dodge dramatically).

With all that running it didn’t take long to clean up the mess on level minus three – Especially once they managed to take the roots out of action.

(Raphael) “OK, next level we kill the roots first.”

They headed up to level minus two.

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