February 21, 2013 by Lyn
Just after the Season Finale. With portions from @Inventrix and K Orion Fray.
Adelheid was going to break someone’s skull.
She didn’t know how Leofric had gotten down there when it was supposed to be kids-only (thanks, Luke), and she didn’t really want to know. What she knew was that she had a bunch of cranky personalities and no clear plan.
“Arien, how good is your dowsing rod? Can you find a place where a Door down won’t lead into immediate combat?”
“Y-yeah, gimme a sec.” Arien turned his gaze to Leo and let his eyes unfocus.
“If it helps, I have a map.” Leo offered that little fact up nonchalantly and, once again, Adelheid reminded herself that the obnoxious prick was her brother.
“Well. That changes everything.” She looked around their group. “Porter…”
“I’ll get the kids out of here.” He nodded shortly. “And then I’ll come back, because you’re going to need the escape.”
“Who are you calling a kid, shorty?” Adelheid sighed as her Kept started to growl. Not that she didn’t entirely, completely understand the urge, but it just wasn’t helpful right now.
“People younger than me, generally.” Porter was unfazed by Llew’s growling. “Which would be Quintus, Bel, and Gar.”
“Hey.” Gar frowned. Of course, Gar was always frowning. “I’m not exactly fragile.”
“Hrmph.” Porter glanced at Heidi. “Your call. Who do you want on your team?”
Heidi sorted out the remaining students, and sent those she couldn’t deal with or protect back with Porter. That left them with a much smaller, more manageable team. More manageable, of course, except for Leo. Who she wasn’t even going to try to manage.
“Let’s see the map.”
Half of the Away Team clambered up through the floor, Belfreja managing to look tidy and graceful even while being boosted through one of her Keeper’s Doors.
Luke glanced at them, and then back at the Ward. “What happened?”
“Quite a few things, sir… oh, I see you’ve found out some of it.” She was looking at Amantia with the closest to an unfriendly expression he’d ever seen on her face.
“Yes. Although she didn’t tell us much at all about your team.”
“Then she wouldn’t have told you that her friend turned Arundel and Lee to stone.” Bel’s voice dripped icicles.
Luke looked at the smaller girl. “Amantia?”
“Sybil did.” She bobbed her head up and down. “Sybil does that, sometimes. She gets really mad, and her snakes hiss.”
“Where are they, Bel?” Luke kept his voice level. Everyone was already tense enough.
“We lifted them through. Arien believed someone would find them.”
Luke nodded. “Please go make sure that’s the case. Make sure…”
Zita stepped forward. “That’s why Dr. Caitrin is busy.”
“Zita, how is it that you know everything before I do?” He was not at his best, or he would have been wise enough not to ask that.
The little goblin grinned back at him. “I…”
Amanita interrupted her. “Anita?”
“I spend more time invisible than you do,” Zita said to Luke, finishing her thought. “No, I’m Zita. Leo thinks I’m the good twin, I think I might be the evil twin, but we’re agreed that someone is primed for a redemption arc.”
To someone, this probably made sense.
Amantia processed that, then looked up to Luke for confirmation.
“She’s the more stable twin, at least,” he grunted. He could give Boom that much credit.
The slight girl looked back at Zita, reaching out for her. Luke resisted stepping in. Both of them could handle themselves.
Zita bared her teeth in the sharp, sharky grin she shared with her maybe-twin, and stepped forward, taking one of Amantia’s gloved hands.
Her gaze tracked sideways, looking to Luke for stage direction. Exit stage right, chased by a bear?
The most potentially deadly friendship in all of Addergoole was put on hold as the ward in front of them shimmered and broke. “Oh, no.” Amantia groaned unhappily. “Save Teacher, please.”
“We’ll do what we can. Zita, ready?”
“Yes, sir,” Zita said crisply. Playtime was, for the moment, over. Zita was, in her way, entirely professional when the situation really called for it. There were few things Luke was more grateful for at the moment.
“Bel, please – kindly – take Amantia to… take her outside, please. Take anyone uninjured and un-combat ready outside that you can, please.” It was startling how well Aelfgar and Mike’s daughter responded to simple courtesy. It had to be her foster-parents. “All right. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, kids, we’re going in strong. Subdue anyone who attacks you. Do not, I repeat, do not kill anyone or anything without first running it by me. Maim only if necessary to save your own life or someone else’s.”
Adelheid felt better with the younger ones out of the way, although she’d have rather not had Porter and Llew. The former wasn’t a combatant, and the latter was, well, her Kept. She was supposed to keep him safe, not be dragging him deeper and deeper into conflict.
“Now, if Porter opens a Door right here…” Adelheid studied the map, their current location, and where, she thought, the corresponding spot likely was on the fifth floor. “It looks like it’s going to be into a lab. Arien?” She wasn’t entirely certain how the boy’s power worked, but it seemed to work.
Right now, he was looking rather pale. “I don’t think there is a safe way down.”
“What?” Leofric’s head jerked around and he stared at Arien, completely taken by surprise.
”What?” Heidi hated that she was finding herself echoing Leo. But, well… what?
“There’s no place that has a safe ending right now.”
“Are you saying the entire fifth floor is full of monsters?”
“Yes, Leo, that is exactly what I am saying.”
“Shit.” Adelheid took the map and stared at it. If there were monsters everywhere, the only potential options were to either flee (which was not in the spirit of the mission) or to find the most reasonable entrance to the fifth floor. Which might, Porter or no, be an actual door. Which looked like it ought to be…
“Shit.” Leo started pacing back and forth. “This is bad. We need…”
“Someone needs to go get help.” Arien stepped forward. “Porter. Can you send Llew up?”
“I can. Come on, kiddo.”
“Hey.” Llew grumbled, and looked to Adelheid. She was looking at the map, and spared him as much of a glance as she could. “Go. Tell Luke. Tell him everything you can.”
She grabbed him, and pulled him in for a quick but expressive kiss. “You’re wonderful. Go.”
She turned back to Leo. “All right. Let’s go find an entrance.”
The first portion of the fourth floor was so innocuous, Luke felt a little embarrassed having his weapon out.
Behind him, he heard his “troops” muttering much the same. “Stay sharp. This place could have any number of…” He almost walked right into the grasp of a twisting hawthorn-like vine. “…dangers. Val?”
“Got it.” The lanky redheaded groundskeeper stepped up, already chanting her Words. “Abatu Huamu…” She wasn’t bothering with control; she was going straight for scorched earth. Luke didn’t blame her.
The first fifty feet after the vine-trap were the same half-collapsed cave-wall style of thing that the Rebel Students had turned the third floor into. In places, Luke could see the scrapes on the wall where Leo’s antlers had been wider than the room.
“This doesn’t seem that…”
Luke couldn’t quite tell who was talking behind him, and he didn’t turn to look. Situations had a habit of turning on a dime, especially when wandering into enemy territory.
It bothered Luke a bit that he was thinking of the basement of the school, the culmination of two hundred years of work, as “enemy territory.” It meant something had gone really, really wrong.
Then again, Luke already knew that.
“But it still seems…”
The second shut-up was clearly his grand-daughter, Niassa. Luke smirked. She sounded like her father. And, he supposed, like her grandfah…
“Luke, heads up!”
He twisted forward again, blade at the ready, as a creature came barreling towards him. A rather short creature, head down, making bleating noises.
“Hold up!” Luke trusted the students he had with him. He lifted his blade and instead reached with a hand for the creature. As it got closer, it became even more apparent that this thing was tiny, a baby. Sort of like a goat, Luke thought, except that it had leonine feet. It was actually, beyond all belief, kind of cute.
A large lizard popped out of a hole in the wall and devoured the baby creature in one bite, nearly taking Luke’s hand with it.
An arrow flew over Luke’s shoulder and embedded itself in the creature’s eye. “Holy shit!” Kellagh bellowed it; Rory was probably shooting. “What the hell is that?”
“Was that.” Another arrow flew over Luke’s shoulder. “Don’t get taller, sir.”
“Mind the wings.”
They stared at the door, warped and twisted off its hinges, at the tell-tale claw marks scoring the plaster and tiles, at the gashes in the ceiling, at the arcane-looking sigils and runes drawn across the ruined door and the equally-destroyed doorway.
The sounds of… something… could be heard from the other side; not too close, but near enough to make anyone nervous.
Adelheid was definitely nervous. She cleared her throat. “Well, we found where something came out.” Something. Yeah.
“We should get out of here. Now.” Arien was terse and jittery.
“But we just got here…” Damn. Her father was talking out of her mouth. “We…”
“If you value your lives,” Leofric interrupted, “you’ll do what he says. Porter, can you?”
Adelheid blinked. Big brother was being, amazingly, big-brothery. Responsible. And rational.
“There is never a time when I cannot, nor a time when I’ve been more willing to than now. Lovely Heidi, a boost?”
Heidi was gobsmacked. She shook her head, listened to the creature noises getting closer, and gave Porter a boost up to the ceiling for the third time that evening. Then she boosted up Fafnir and accepted Arien’s boost up.
Below her, Leofric frowned at Arien, and gestured at the Door in the ceiling. “Go on, I’ll help you up and be right behind you.”
“No you won’t.” Arien answered, but Heidi hadn’t needed his foresight to see that one.
“Oh, no you don’t.” She leaned over the hole in the ceiling. “If you’re going to…”
Leo slammed the Door up into her face, forcing her to dodge backwards.
“Well, shit.” She stared at the doorway. “All right. Back, all of you. Porter. Get them all up to the first floor. Now. “
“What are you going to do?”
“Guard their escape route.”
There weren’t that many monsters.
They would walk twenty feet, a hundred, even, through tight, claustrophobic halls booby-trapped at every turn, and face nothing more dangerous than hungry hawthorn.
The hawthorn was more dangerous than was pleasant, of course. Before they’d gotten through the second tangle of it, Luke had to send two students upstairs. Abaddon complained bitterly, Wether not nearly as much, but neither of them were combat-primary, and both were heavily poisoned by the damn plant.
And then they rounded the corner to face Sybil, her snakes hissing at the shield Luke had, remembering his myths, conjured. Sylvanus and Niassa spat out Workings so fast that they came as a blur, warned by what had happened to Lee and Arundel. Before Luke had finished arguing with himself, they had the girl hooded, gagged, and bound.
Luke sent Sylvanus and Dyfri upstairs with order to take her to Regine and explain the situation. He was glad to have his team down to the regular combatants, even though the others had been more than eager to help.
“Right. We’re looking for Kairos first. Laurel?”
“I’m working on it. Forward and to the left, I think. Mind the cat.”
Cat. Knowing Laurel, that could mean… “Cat!” He caught the bobcat on his shield. Damn. He’d forgotten Kairos’ damn pet. “Panida, Panida, Tempero Panida SLEEP!”
“Don’t yell, Luca, it doesn’t suit.”
“Damn cat. Any other surprises?”
“She’s here.” Laurel’s voice tightened. “Zita, hurry. Damn, damn.”
The tiny, dark-haired girl darted past Luke. All business when she had to be, good girl. Luke followed, shield ready. “How bad?”
“She’ll live. If she weren’t fae, she’d be dead already.”
“All right.” He looked back at his group. “Doug, who?”
“Fran, Lily. Protect Zita and Kairos.” Doug gestured two of his Sixth-Cohort students ahead. “Wards?”
“Probably all down now. Damn it, I hope Porter got the rest of them out in time. And I hope Leo isn’t doing anything stupid.”
His son’s one raised eyebrow told him that was a foolish hope. Luke sighed. Well, Leo was a cy’Luca, all the way through. “Right. Kellagh. Niassa. Let’s not let Leo have all the fun. If it has a brain, incapacitate it. If it’s trying to kill you, stop it. Don’t die.”
His granddaughter smiled at him with an expression he knew from the mirror. “Geronimo.”
This story was written in response to Rix’s donation and request for more of the fight
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday! Want more?
Category Outtakes | Tags: