TMA Down Time

TMA Down Time
Art by @spoiledchestnut

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Session 14

My party’s reckoning came shortly after. Medusalon had sent a series of threats and accusations regarding riots, jailbreaks and attempts on their leaders’ lives. All thanks to my friends. I had the comfort of laughing in my study while trying to write a cohort apology letter. Luckily they weren’t Illium’s responsibility. They were mine. But, hey, the technicalities of politics.
An actual representative from Magaat showed up at Illium’s doorstep in a frenzy. They were quick to blame my friends for breaking into their Impenetrable Prison. To which I kindly reminded them that the heroes of Illium couldn’t conceivably be blamed. But clones under the influence of the newly freed god, Primus, that was entirely possible. That logic was accepted. Only now I had inherited the responsibility of dealing with Primus as reparations.
I don’t even get the fun of freeing Primus and having a clone. I thought bitterly. Just clean up.
I gazed out the window overlooking the coast. It had been a few days since Killian and his crew set sail for the Wroth dreadnought. Here I was, taking care of every other boring detail. Even Snee had gotten to go, offering his abilities to study the Wroth’s ship and advance Illium’s naval capabilities. Which was probably true, but mostly another way to avoid Klotonk. Still, it annoyed me that Killian accepted.
A soft knock at the door drew me away from my thoughts.
Elroar walked in. “You busy?” He asked.
“Nope, come in.” I lied, desperate for a distraction.
“Has your drow friend spoken to you?”
“Maziel?” My face fell. “What did they do?”
Elroar smiled grimly. “Nothing. It’s just when she told me about the role you’ve accepted here, I worried.” He paused to consider his next words carefully. “As leader, there are always threats Illium faces. Some direct, some indirect. Most lie in wait. The Ilithids for example.”
I frowned, cocking my head. “Ilithids?”
“You’ve not heard of the hive below the city?”
My stomach twisted. “No. I’m assuming this isn’t widely known.”
“Viceak knew,” Elroar said, his voice not entirely fond. Elroar stepped closer, pleading. “Leave them be. For now. They’ve not harmed anyone, and they are deep in the caverns below the city.”
I nodded my head, knowing full well that was the least of my intentions. Still, he seemed to buy it. We stood for a moment more in awkward silence before he turned to leave. He had tried regularly these last few days to “catch up” with me, at least before he rejoined his druid circle outside Illium’s reach.
“One more thing,” he said. “That pirate you intend to marry--”
“Bye, dad.” I cut him off, not unkindly.
He grumbled his annoyance, but left me alone to my thoughts.

There was a kind of subdued exhilaration to donning my armor and strapping on my sword. A freedom from the noble’s garb expected of me while at court. I crept out of the castle as twilight melted into night. I was free to come and go as I please, but the last thing I wanted was questioning, and certainly not outright opposition.
Once outside the castle walls I all but cheered. I continued through the city, making my way toward the underground tunnels I knew would twist deeper into the caverns below.
“Where you going, Taelim?”
My body froze, hand reaching for the hilt of my sword instinctively. A head of wild red hair climbed down from the building nearby and Cosmo grinned up at me. I relaxed, but only for a moment before a gloved hand squeezed my shoulder from behind.
“Taelim.” Maziel’s gravely voice greeted me. This time I did jump.
“Is everyone following me?” I demanded, pride stung at being caught.
“No. Just us.” Maziel said, face blank.
I eyed the drow, my heartbeat returning to a steady rhythm. I smiled wryly, deepening Maziel’s scowl. “Want to go on an adventure?”

Over the years I spent away from Illium coming into my own, I accumulated my fair share of memorable moments. Not to mention, an equal amount of regrets from hasty or poor decisions. You do not always think before you do, Feeps would say. Actions have consequences, Taelim.
This was one such consequence, and this time I dragged my friends into it.
We stopped at the start of a cavern tunnel, panting.
“Are they gone?” I asked Maziel breathlessly.
“I doubt it.”
“I want to go back to the castle!” Cosmo whined, rubbing his head where he was hit with some sort of psychic blast.
It hadn’t taken long to descend past Illium’s sewers and into the caverns far below the city. It was eerily easy to uncover the signs of life below. An entire civilization of hostile, brain sucking creatures. Our neighbor Ilithids, kept secret from the people of Illium.
Not for long. I thought miserably. It only took one encounter. Just one with the strange humanoids with tentacle features, hungering to grapple us. Just one to spot us with hostile intent. Just one to send the hive after us, not for dinner, but as dinner.
Maziel slapped a hand over Cosmo’s mouth, scanning the crags around us. A tentacle lashed out, and the snapping beak of a bizarre brain-looking creature clambered up the cliff.
“Run!” Maziel yelled, and took off down the cavern. With every full-speed footfall it became abundantly clear we were lost. The tunnel maze had melded into a complex network, and at every turn the Ilithids had their grimlock minions scrambling after us.
Again we stopped, exhausted and trying to gather our bearings.
“Can’t you teleport us out?” Maziel panted.
I shook my head. “No trees, though I can leave you both. Elroar’s shown me elemental shapes.”
Cosmo’s eyes widened, and I thought I glimpsed Maziel’s hand hover over her short sword then reconsider.  
“Didn’t think so,” I huffed. “On the bright side, you have more clone lives to lead when we die.”
“This isn’t where you die, druid,” a scratchy voice said from behind us. A hunched figure in furs and hides loomed at the end of the tunnel.
We instinctively drew weapons, but he snorted at the gesture. “Come with me, and live.” He offered gruffly.
“I like living.” Maziel immediately sheathed her weapon, Cosmo following suit.
I hesitated for a heartbeat, eyeing the bearded figure who carried the familiarity of a druid. As if to prove his point, he changed shape into a fearsome wolf and pattered down a passage we had missed entirely. I wasted no time running after.

The Arch Magi of Beasts. That was who saved our lives. A member of the elite group of legendary protectors I longed to join. This was a solid first impression. Turns out, he had been keeping an eye on the Ilithids regularly, a request from Viceak.
I sat at the edge of my desk gazing out the window while Feeps continued to condone my actions. Drowning out my friend’s nervous ramblings, I noted dawn began to fill the horizon with light. I'm sleeping past noon, that’s for sure. When I thought at last I was free to go, someone knocked at the door. Oliander, the Rose Knight of Illium, stepped inside.
I withheld a grimace. There’s no way he knows. Does he…? Shit, he’ll tell my aunt.
“Princess,” the armored gnome bowed his head. “We’ve received some troubling news?”
I held my breath, wondering what waterfall effect I had brought upon Illium.
“Lord Killian. His ship was destroyed. He was either killed or captured.”
Quietly, I slid off the desk, trying to reign in my emotions. I managed to calmly face the general and speak my command. “Ready an airship and crew, we’re going after him.”

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