Part VI -- The Coliseum of Dinosaurs
Much like before, they step free of the portal and the blue glow dies down around them. This time, they find themselves in another abyss of free floating rock. Unlike before, there is no starlight to light their path, making it harder to see much further than their eyes can squint.
It’s just black. And silent. A path of broken stone seems to lead in a spiral down to what appears to be a ruined colosseum. The pillars are white stone splashed with red, many of them are crumbling and only a few are still intact. A chittering, slurping sound can be heard coming from what may be the center of the colosseum.
Angela leads the way, hopping from one stone to another in a downward path toward the coliseum. It was once a debate forum made of stone steps in amphitheatre styling. At the center is a raised platform. To the best of Angela’s knowledge, there should be an aetheryte point in the center.
“We might have an enemy up top. Stay sharp.” Angela floats down to the edge and gestures for them to join her.
As they get closer, they see what appears to be a massive cheshire worm atop the platform.
“...This isn’t a healthy debate.” Angela says.
If Karma had been there, she would have punched her sister.
Ettyn gestures to Caleb, nodding for them to split the directions. There are 3 risers going up to the platform but otherwise the climb up is about 10 feet high. The creature hadn’t noticed them.
“Think we’ll be able to distract it somehow?” Jaycy asks quietly.
“Much like the other creatures we’ve seen, this appears to be another experiment. It would be best if we put it down.” Angela answers.
“What… are these people doing. Do you know these people?” Morgan asks.
Angela ponders. “Somewhat.”
Ettyn gets low and gestures for the others to stay down and keep quiet to stealth up against the wall.
“These people are people of creation and through their fear manifest, that is what you see here.” Angela whispers.
“Well this is now my fear manifest.” Says Morgan.
“Should we try distracting it?” Jaycy offers.
“We can try. As long as we can get to the aetheryte crystal.” Angela answers.
“Well… just, you know, make another one of it, that looks really attractive. And then it’ll trundle off into the void.” Ettyn offered out.
“That with a bow on its head.” Morgan adds.
“If it’s an experiment, I don’t know that attraction will matter. I was thinking of making something that it would attack rather.” Jaycy points out.
“Yes… it’s going to be rather violent.” Angela confirms.
Ettyn motions with her swords to attack it and starts to count down. “Caleb, assassinate the shit out of it.”
Caleb scales the wall and sneaks up on the worm. A flurry of blows is all the others can hear. He manages to deal a hefty amount of damage before it can even realize what is happening. It isn’t enough to kill it or even make it bloodied but it does a heavy deal.
As the worm reels, spinning around, Morgan moves to flank it. While doing so, he transforms himself into a giant tyrannosaurus rex. The worm is terribly confused because how often do you see a t-rex in the void?
Caleb takes the opportunity to take another couple of shots at it. With that it’s bloodied.
Ettyn finds the end of Morgan’s t-rex tail and goes running up his tail like dino-stairs at the airport in the Flintstones. At the top, she unleashes a flurry of blows, surging through the action to deal strike after strike after strike. She cleaves a deep wound and just keeps going, goring the creature straight through at which point she tumbles through the viscera and out the other side.
Morgan makes sad dino sounds. Then takes a bite out of the creature.
Jaycy takes a bite out of it too and ends up with the worst heartburn of her life. She throws up a little.
In the background, Ettyn screams like a psychopath.
As the massive black worm dies, it disintegrates into ash before fading away into glimmering motes of aetherial energy. Left behind is a ghostly figure, of similar height and build to the robed, masked figures you’ve been seeing throughout your time here. Rather than a white mask, he wears no mask and you are able to see his features plainly illuminated by starlight. He is a handsome man with golden eyes and loose flowing white hair that falls to his shoulders. A frown seems to be etched permanently upon his features. He looks to them all with his arms crossed, a little disgusted. He stands approximately where the aetheryte should be.
Ettyn cracks a big grin. “Hi.”
The man wrinkles his nose at her.
“They mean well.” Angela says in the same distorted language she used with the hooded figures.
He answers in common and gestures one hand palm up to the dinosaur. “And this?”
“That’s our bard.” Ettyn answers.
“Hey, wait a minute.” Jaycy protests.
Ettyn corrects herself, “That’s our bard. That’s our other bard.”
“I imagine his arms are much too short to play much of a tune.” The man drawls.
Morgan’s T-rex arms go up like What the fuck bro
. He then starts… dinotwerking to show he’s a dancer, not a musician.
The man simply looks at them all expectantly.
“Where’s Karma?” Caleb… no Jaycy asks before Caleb can.
“Who is this?” Ettyn asks.
He answers before Angela can, “I am the Emissary of the Convocation.”
Ettyn repeats; “Angela, who’s this?” Because she understood exactly none of that.
“Elidibus.” Angela answers.
Caleb vaguely recognizes the name.
Angela continues; “He is Elidibus. And he was supposed to protect Karma.”
“Where is she?” Caleb asks.
“Elidibus, can you take us to her?” Angela adds.
The Emissary sighs. “You and I both know that I cannot take you there. That you have made it this far… you’re more determined than I thought. More stupid too but the two tend to go hand in hand.”
“You do know who I’m related to right?” Angela deadpans.
“I’m not leaving without her.” Caleb adds.
Morgan growls behind them.
Elidibus looks over to Caleb and gives him an up and down look as if he’s assessing him. It doesn’t look like the first time he’s done that.
“Can we not threaten the Emissary, please.” Angela sighs.
“Huh. Mister Feren, I assume. You’re a stubborn one, aren’t you?” The Emissary asks the assassin.
Off to the side, the t-rex is sniffing at Jaycy as she begs it not to eat her while the t-rex grins and Ettyn throws cat treats at it. Why she has cat treats is anyone’s guess. She then finds a place to lean while people make the big confusing words. She takes out the purple void worm testicles to mash them into a paste. They pop like bubbles, a bit like squishing a grape.
Dino-Morgan licks his lips.
“Emissary, I know that you were against what they were planning. Can you offer us any aid to get to where she is?” Angela pleads.
The Emissary sighs again. “You know my oath, Secretary. You know all of our oaths. However, I can’t stop you. You seem determined to go on. But before I allow you to pass, I need to ensure that you are ready for what is to come. Because I wasn’t.” From his right hip, he pulls a pouch. He gives it a little shake, there’s rattling and a slight metallic sound. “So. Let’s play a game. I ask you three questions. You give me your answers. If I believe you have done your part, I’ll let you pass.”
“Can we nominate Not Ettyn for answering?” Jaycy pipes up.
Elidibus snorts. “I will let you all answer.”
Morgan sighs and unpolymorphs.
Elidibus squints at Morgan’s sorcery.
Morgan is still sniffing Jaycy.
Ettyn finishes her beast salve. She’s covered in blood, has a ton of weapons on her. She looks over at the weird, handsome ghost and narrows her eyes at him and curls her arms a bit to flex her biceps and gives him an upnod.
Elidibus stares at her and looks to Angela, “This is what you brought to save her?”
Jaycy wolf whistles at Ettyn.
“I sadly did not have much choice.” Angela says with a grimace.
“Ow ow!” Morgan hoots for Ettyn.
Caleb… is quiet.
“And I am second guessing my choice at this point.” Angela grumbles.
Elidibus gives her a small, small smile at that.
“We don’t get to choose who our friends are. Kind of like the council.” Angela adds.
Ettyn gives Angela the most touched look.
“They found me naked in some vines.” Morgan grins.
Elidibus looks to Morgan. “Well… at least you’ve improved since then.”
“Baby I improve all the time.” Morgan fingerguns the ghostly figure.
“When the bar’s that low, it does not take much to improve.” The Emissary tuts.
“WHOA.” Morgan gasps.
“...This is a fragment of a memory. There’s not much to seduce here.” Angela says belatedly to them.
“To be fair, I’m not really trying to seduce him because he’s not that cute. Ahahaaa.” Morgan looks at his nails.
Elidibus gives Angela a sad look. “Would that I could have a corporeal body but when I realized what they were plotting, I protested and they… decided to banish me. And… here I am. So! These questions, you are running out of time. I suggest you answer them quickly, and correctly. If you are incorrect, you are not witty enough to go on. You know, I can send you anywhere in the Void. Shall we proceed?”
Angela nods. “Let us proceed.”
“Alright. Now, perhaps these will hearken back to your early days in school, simple things, riddles, logic, the like. Word play.” The Emissary begins, then to Angela, “You know how I’ve always liked my word play. So the first one, simple enough. What does Man love more than life? Hate more than death or mortal strife? That which the contented man desires, The poor have, the rich require, The miser spends, and the spendthrift saves, And all men carry to their graves. It is greater than the gods, Worse than the Devil, Dead people eat it all the time, and if live people eat it, they die slowly.” Pause. “I’d like that to rhyme but alas, I’m not a bard.”
“Could you… could you repeat the question.” Morgan asks.
“Of course…” Elidibus readies to repeat it.
“The answer is nothing.” Caleb answers before he can repeat it.
Elidibus looks to Caleb and gives him a simple nod. From his bag he pulls out what appears to be an amulet. He hands it over, real simple, braided cording. The pendant has a familiar mark to the crystals Angela gave him previously. He doesn’t explain it as Caleb takes it. “That’s one. Now let’s do the next. I can be thrown out, yet not locked away, I can not live with extremes in play, If you lose me, there's no doubt you'll fall, and to keep me, you can not do it all.”
Morgan thinks about it for a moment and then speaks up. “...Balance?”
The Emissary looks over to Morgan, and you can see his eyebrows raise. He looks genuinely dumbfounded and impressed. “Very good. It is, in fact, Balance.”
“I’m an acrobat.” Morgan preens.
“That would explain a lot.” Elidibus admits.
Ettyn gives Morgan an upnod and a kissy face, impressed but teasing. Jaycy golf claps.
From the bag the ghostly Emissary takes out the next item, a horned mask of glossy ebony has horns and a skull-like mien. The mask reshapes to fit the wearer.
Morgan immediately puts it on.
As Elidibus hands the mask off he gives Angela an unreadable look. “Finally, the third one. Seated high above the land, I have a face; I have no hands. Night might wax and day may wane:
Beneath me, no one walks unseen. Ever at rest, but no rest for me, I determine your destiny. You knew me not for all your lives. Now, know me not, and you shall die.”
Quiet falls on them all as they contemplate the riddle. He looks between the five of them patiently.
Angela closes her eyes for a moment then answers. “Time.”
Elidibus huffs a quiet little laugh. “Exactly the thing we don’t have, is it not?” He nods and reaches into the bag, hesitating for a moment, debating on if he should follow through. He finally withdraws a small white cylindrical crystal. It’s capped on either end with brass or copper. He holds it in his hand for a moment, almost pained. But finally he reaches out to hand it to Angela. “I assume you’ll know what to do with this.”
Angela pauses, nods, and reaches her hand for it.
“You only have one shot.” The Emissary says gravely.
Angela nods. “Yes, one shot, I know.”
“Do well with that… I know you will.” Elidibus looks at the rest of them and nods. “Well, like you said, beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to our friends. So… go on--”
“I think we’re pretty great.” Morgan scoffs.
“Well… I will restrain my thoughts on that, because you… are smarter than you look, young man. Hm. That makes you dangerous.” The Emissary purses his lips.
Morgan gives a pretty little hee-hee
Elidibus looks back and nods. As he begins to fade away, he turns into a blinding blue light and the circle in the center of the platform begins to glow like the others before. Then he is gone, leaving the five of them alone.
Once more alone in the Void, the quintet takes the opportunity to heal up, applying spells and salves (much to Morgan’s chagrin). And then… it’s through the portal to their (hopefully) final destination.