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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Sweetcherrie

Lost.....

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As the door closes behind Sweetcherrie a cloud of dust floats up in the air. She sneezes as she walks through to the back office where Gryphon is working on some guild documents.

 

"We really have to do something about this, and soon. It’s getting out of control, I mean, I saw massive spiders crawling around one of the portals the other day."

 

The thought of the spider makes her shudder, and she sits down at the other desk, and looks at some files. Gryphon looks up.

 

“I've not heard of any giant spiders around the Pen grounds... maybe they slipped through one of the portals down there. It'll be a good test for some of our applicants to go and clean them out.”

 

Sweetcherrie nods in reply.

 

“You're right though...,” Gryphon continues, “we really do need to clean up down there. It's almost as bad as Wyvern's office; it's no wonder we don't get many applicants. There's probably some down buried under the dust waiting for membership status.”

 

Getting up, Gryphon grabs a tome off a nearby shelf on opening methods for the portals.

 

“Let's head down and have a look... we've not tried any of the portals that are down there since we took over looking after the guild. I agree, it's definitely about time we checked things out.”

 

Chuckling about the idea of those poor applicants buried in dust, Sweetcherrie turns around to leave the office.

 

“oh... hold on - you mentioned spiders,” He grabs a few items for defence just in case they encounter something nasty, “Right, lets go.”

 

Another shiver runs down her spine at the thought of the spiders, but Sweetcherrie nods bravely and follows him out the office

 

They walk the corridors of the AVV, their footsteps echoing in the silence of the lonely halls, descending slowly past the catacombs into the cavernous area beneath The Pen known as The Underground heading for the portal rooms. When they arrive at the portals the whole site is covered in spider webs, which in turn are half covered in dust. The portals themselves are barely visible under the thick layers of dust, and Sweetcherrie sneezes again as some of the dust creeps into her nose.

 

"I now wish I had brought a broom already," Sweetcherrie says as she wipes a spider web out of her face. “What does that tome say about activation of these portals?

 

Opening the heavy book Gryphon glances at a few pages then flips to the first few pages reading carefully...

 

"It looks like some are activated by item, some by spell... some *are* items! We've got a huge range of portal types down here. Maybe if we open a couple of the larger ones into some empty areas the breeze will blow some of the dust away and clean things up a bit."

 

Sneezing again Sweetcherrie replies, "Sounds like a good idea, instead of harvesting ideas, one could harvest an allergy down here..."

 

She looks around and sees what looks like a futuristic laser gun on the floor. As she picks the gun up a spider crawls away, and she drops the gun. The trigger is activated and a portal door opens.

 

"I guess I've just found one portal..."

 

“So you have. I wonder where it leads...” Gryphon shakes his head, “No, we probably shouldn't get distracted into exploring.”

 

A soft breeze enters the portal room, and Sweetcherrie breathes in the smell of trees that drifts in.

 

With a mildly disappointed look she shakes her head, "Probably best not to...at the moment, we should first get this place clean."

 

Gryphon and Sweetcherrie watch for a moment as the alien breeze stirs the layers of dust causing some more smaller spiders to scuttle away into dark corners...

 

"Well, shall we have a look around and see if we can find a couple of big portals to deserted places that we can open up?"

 

Sweetcherrie nods and smiles, "There should be a lot more of these around."

 

Gryphon turns and trying not to kick up too much dust to choke the air he moves further down the hall moving towards a massive stone portal set off to one side of the corridor. After examining the runes set into the portal carefully, he pronounces a series of liquid syllables and a glow appears in the centre of the portal, quickly rippling out as the portal opens fully with a silent explosion. Without a sound the couple is being pushed backwards. Sweetcherrie tumbles backwards against some shelves in the corner, and as she hears the plonk of a coin falling down a loud whoosh starts dragging her into the portal that the coin opened.

 

"Gryphon! Something is slightly wrong here!" She shouts as she manages to grab hold on something.

 

Part way through activating a second large portal Gryphon glances back over his shoulder to see a fourth portal burst open next to Sweet. Unfortunately he's unable to stop speaking the words of opening as the magic it's self keeps drawing the words from him to complete the opening. Sweetcherrie struggles to stay in the portal room, but is being dragged into the portal that opened with the coin. She looks at what she managed to grab hold on and sees that she's holding a sword in her hands. With a quick move she sticks it in between the stones and holds on tightly, but on her right another portal starts opening as the sword swooshes through the air.

 

Magic ripples and strains and Sweetcherrie finds herself temporarily in a calm spot as the pull from each of the portals creates a calm spot around her. Suddenly being thrown back to the floor in the calm, Sweetcherrie quickly scrambles out of reach. Inhaling deeply she looks at Gryphon.

 

"Wow, that was close."

 

Turning towards Sweetcherrie, his own second portal now fully open Gryphon fails to notice a resonance coming from another portal further up the hall as the waves of magic caress it. Quietly glowing other portals start to activate themselves.

 

“It was... we really should see to it that these portals are contained with some kind of safeguard so that they cannot affect each other like that.”

 

"Yeah, this is...err...what am I hearing?"

 

Further distracted by plans of magically insulated rooms for each portal Gryphon turns at Sweetcherrie's question with a puzzled, "What?"

Zig zagging to avoid being dragged into one of the open portals Sweetcherrie moves towards where the sound is coming.

 

"I think there's something else down here, besides us I mean."

 

Gryphon peers into the shadows and listens carefully, but distracted by seeing several portals open that he had not activated he fails to notice several dark shapes creeping out of the first large portal he opened, their eyes gleaming a faint red in the darkness.

 

"Ah Sweet..." Gryphon begins, his eyes widening with worry as he sees a few more portals reacting to the chain reaction and opening themselves further down the corridor. "I think we might have more to worry about than there being something down here with us."

 

"Huh?" Not taking her eyes off the creature that slinks towards her, she moves backwards, "What do you mean?"

 

With growing horror Gryphon watches as portal after portal opens. The air begins to thicken with the feel of magic running wild and slowly Gryphon backs towards Sweet's voice, away from the magical storm building in front of him.

 

"The portals are... I... I think we've got a few too many portals open at once."

 

Backing into Sweetcherrie, Gryphon casts a quick glance over at her, not comprehending at first that she's staring at something behind him.

 

"Sweet? Are you even listening to me? We've got a big problem here!"

 

Sweetcherrie swings at the creature with the sword she's still holding in her hands, but swooshes straight through the shadow. Quickly she looks up to see what on earth Gryphon is talking about and her eyes turn big as she sees all the open portals.

 

"Maybe we should try to get out of here?" she says with a small voice.

 

Realising that Sweetcherrie wouldn't have her sword out because of the portals Gryphon quickly turns to see the horde of shadow creatures slinking towards him and Sweetcherrie.

 

"Oh no." He whispers, half to himself as he rapidly tries to bring up shields to cover him and Sweetcherrie - somehow forgetting in that one instant the incredible build-up of magical energy happening right behind him.

 

Taking another swing at one of the creatures, Sweetcherrie feels that the floor under her feet has started to shake.

 

“What’s happening?”

 

Her voice quivers lightly as even the creatures seem to back away from them.

 

The stars overhead shimmered red, and Sweetcherrie was looking at them fondly....wait a minute! red?! She shook her head, something was completely wrong here.

 

Upon moving she noticed that she had a banging headache, and when she looked next to her she saw that Gryphon was out cold. What on earth had happened? And where was she?

 

All around her it felt similar enough to where she’d just come from, with the difference that she could not see any trace of the pen keep. Something must have gone terrible wrong during those last moments in the portal room. The images rushed over her, but all she could think of was that something must have gone wrong when all those portals opened at once.

 

With a soft nudge she tried to wake up Gryphon; wherever they were, she couldn’t leave him there like this.

 

With a groan Gryphon clutches his head, keeping his eyes firmly closed.

 

"Oooh my head. I feel like..."

 

He stops as he realises that something doesn't feel right.

 

"What happened... Where are we??”

 

Sweetcherrie grins meekly.

 

“I know as much as you do, you ok?”

 

"I think... No, no I'm not. Let me lie here for a few minutes until my head stops feeling like it's going to fall off. Then we'll see what we can make of this."

 

Carefully Gryphon lies back down, closing his eyes and willing the pain coursing through his head to go away. With a small nod, careful not to move her head more than necessary, Sweetcherrie scrambles up herself. They would have to find a way to get back to the penkeep, there was more work to do, and besides that she simply wanted to lie down. The headache buzzed through her head, and the buzz was becoming louder each moment. The buzz was now so loud that she couldn’t even hear herself think anymore, suddenly she was pushed against her shoulder, and almost fell over again.

 

She flicked around, and her eyes grew wide in horror. A wasp the size of a crow was flying straight at her. Just a moment before this had been an almost empty plane, and all of a sudden there were these giant wasps. Were they even real? Or had her headache created them?

 

A persistent buzz woke Gryphon as his headache began to diminish. Opening one eye with care he noted that a faint mist was beginning to rise from the ground, obscuring the few details of the otherwise featureless expanse.

 

A sudden cry of alarm from Sweetcherrie causes Gryphon to suddenly turn and gasp as his head swims with pain. Through the throbbing he can barely make out Sweetcherrie waving her sword at something dive bombing her from the air.

 

The mist was now cloaking them, and Sweetcherrie already had difficulties to make out Gryphon’s form, let alone hit the wasps.

 

“Gryphon, I don’t care if your head hurts, get us out of here!”

 

As the mists clear Gryphon notices a nearby cave. Cave? Where did that come from?

 

"Sweetcherrie, quickly, into the cave!"

 

Another wasp cracks open, splashing more green ooze down her clothes, and turning on her heels she runs towards the cave, pulling Gryphon with her. As the two rush into the cave the buzzing sound fades rapidly behind them to be replaced by an almost eerie silence. Ahead a silvery shimmer breaks the darkness but an outcropping of stone hides the source.

 

The wasps are circling the entrance, and they have no other option than to go deeper into the cave. Slowly, to not stumble over any rocks they advance, after a couple of steps the source of the shimmer reveals itself. Against the rock wall stands a man-sized mirror; it’s edges hold some of the most precious stones Sweetcherrie has ever seen, and her mouth drops open in awe.

 

Gryphon carefully approachs the mirror noticing that the light seems to be coming from within the silvery glass which ripples like it's a kind of radiant liquid.

 

“I think... I think we can use this to scry and maybe even communicate with those back at the pen. I can sense a kind of communication magic in it.”

 

Sweetcherrie walks closer to the mirror, and puts her hand on the surface. It wrinkles slightly and then changes; in it she can see the pen keep. At that same moment she hears someone stir further down in the cave, and in the corner of her eyes she sees movement. The next moment half the wall seems to move forward.

 

Gryphon leans in examining the magic woven into the mirror, momentarily unaware of the looming danger. "As far as I can tell, all you really need to do is concentrate strongly on who you want to talk to as you speak into the mirror. From what I can tell of the enchantment, as long as you maintain your concentration your message should get through loud and clear."

 

Sweetcherrie keeps her hands on the mirror and starts talking, concentrating hard on what she’s doing. In the corner of her eyes however she sees the mass of stone coming up to Gryphon, and suddenly she sees the stones taking shape. With her hands still on the mirror she shouts a warning to Gryphon. He turns around just in time to see a rock hand swinging towards his head. Desperately Sweetcherrie turns back to the mirror and starts shouting for help, hoping that someone will hear her…..

 

“Urgent message to all pennites!!! *sshsshsh* stranded on an unknown plane *sshshss* Help us!! *sshsshsss* beware *sssshshsh* We- *ZAP* I can’t hold them off much longer, Sweetcherrie!! *shshssssss* The Alliance of Vagabonds and Vanguards needs your help! *sshssshssh* Almost done here, Gryphon! Aaaaarggg…..Trolls!!! I hate trolls, get us out of here!!

 

*Shsshsshshsshshsh……*”

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Sitting in one of her favorite spots around the lake, Tanny looks intently at the small piece of wood in her hands. The little figure, shaped as a bird ready to fly, seems to shine with an inner light as she binds the threads of earth in the pattern she had carefully chosen.

 

All of a sudden, a piercing pain in her head makes her gasp. As the threads she was binding unravel and lash back at her, adding to the sudden pain, coldness spreads from the jewel she keeps in her breast.

 

 

 

“Urgent message to all pennites!!! *sshsshsh* stranded on an unknown plane *sshshss* Help us!! *sshsshsss* beware *sssshshsh* We- *ZAP* I can’t hold them off much longer, Sweetcherrie!! *shshssssss* The Alliance of Vagabonds and Vanguards needs your help! *sshssshssh* Almost done here, Gryphon! Aaaaarggg…..Trolls!!! I hate trolls, get us out of here!!

 

*Shsshsshshsshshsh……*”

 

 

Blinking tears away and trying to clear her mind, Tanny just sends an automatic reply through the unexpected mind-link.

 

::Sweet? Where are you? Sweet? Gryphon?!::

 

It takes her still some minutes before the pain subsides, and she has to spend another few to soothe and smooth the knotted earth threads that her losing of control had created. After checking them a last time, Tanny shimmers into her wolf form and darts to the keep.

 

They were reorganizing the AVV... someone there should know where they went...

 

She stops once at her rooms in the keep to get some essentials, and again darts into the corridors that will lead her to the AVV area. Silently, she tries to find some of the people she can mindspeak to while she turns one more corner.

 

She'd been there some times, long ago - she had even applied once, but gods only know where her application had gone. Using her memory, she takes corridors and turns corners until finding the entrance to the Underground. There she stops.

 

Well... what now? And who else has heard that call, anyway?

Edited by Tanuchan

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Mynx raced through the corridors, skidding on corners as she tried desperately to contact Gryphon through her tiara, cursing silently in every language she knew as she took yet another turn, no real clue as to where she was heading.

She saw Tanny standing at what appeared to be a door. Precisely one second before she realised there was no traction on the ground to stop.

 

Digging her claws in anyway (sadly to no avail), Mynx let out a meow of surprise as she collided with her lupine friend in a tangle of tails and fur.

As they untangled themselves, Mynx was the first to speak.

"Tanny do you know what's happened? I...I...something happened to Gryphon and Sweet but I don't know and I can't sense him and..."

 

Tanny blinked a few times before letting out a sharp bark to silence the unusually paniced feline.

::Slow down Mynx! I heard the message too:: Tanny paused and tilted her head. ::Sense him? I thought you could only receive mindspeak?::

Mynx nodded. "I can. But I have this -" she removed the tiara from her head and showed it to Tanny before continuing. "Since Gryphon gave that to me I've always had an empathic and telepathic connection with him but...it's gone. I got the message from Sweet through him I think but now...I can't sense anything!"

 

For once at a complete loss for words, Mynx stared down at her friend, eyes clearly showing worry as she silently asked what they were to do

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The Warp Spiders scuttled away as Pennites approached. They'd grown careless in this area. One of their directives was not to be seen. Moving stealthily, they reached a Keep wall and melted into the stone.

 

It was with grateful mandibular clicks they passed repair of cracks in the reality attached to the Keep to Pennites.

 

Moments later they reappeared in one of the Hidden Passages and began weaving Astral Web across one of the many cracks caused by Peredhil's repair in the wake of the Dreamer's Damage.

 

When too many Portals began to open in the already stressed Underground, they were far to far away to do anything at all.

 

They tried. Oh they tried! Melting into the walls they found themselves unable to pass into the Guild Chambers. Crawling, probing, seeking, they realized that only those with a Quill or the potential had the power to pass into the damaged area.

 

Were any eyes watching, they would've seen the spiders fly to safety.

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Vincent stood in the center of his small room in the Pen Keep, he had both hands on the pomel of his sword, it's tip siting barely an inch from the floor, his eyes were closed in prayer. His silent communion with Innoavin, a god from Vincent's realm, was interupted by a screaming choppy message screamed into his head. He fell to his knees eyes clenched tight as the message screamed in his head, his acient longsword hiting the ground with a crash. It took awhile for Vincent to relise what the message really said his head still ringing: he shook off the pain in his head, reached for his sword, and sheathed it, "Trouble...an unknow plane..." Vincent mused to his-self, "Something must of happened in the portal room!" He quickly slid his dark blue cape over his armor and heading out the door leaving it wide open in his haste. Despite the weight of the armor he made his way through the twisting hallways of the Pen Keep tward the portal room that held the gate to his home and many more. He turns one last corner, seeing the wolf and feline figure standing in front of the door to the portal room, "What happened, do any of you know?" Vincent asked franticly, hoping the other two knew more then he did.

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Tanny turns around at hearing Vincent's steps, and shimmers back to her human form.

 

"Both Mynx and I got a message from Sweet and Gryphon... I suppose you got it, too?"

 

As Vincent nods, she continues while holding Mynx's arm in a gesture to try to comfort and calm her down. "I know both of them were down here, reorganizing the guild rooms.... "

 

"The Portal Room. We need to get there."

 

Tanny shudders, never having good memories of portals after her quest for the AVV last Winter Carnival. But as Mynx tugs her, opening the door at the same time, she nods.

 

The door opens into a familiar wide corridor, and the small group follows it in a half-run. Tanny glances at the open door to the Recruiter's Office, remembering Scarlot and wondering where she has gone. It had been long since anyone had heard from her.

 

Vincent, who had been leading them, stops so suddenly that Tanny has trouble not bumping into him.

 

The corridor they had been following would normally open into a hallway, from which other corridors lead to the other rooms of the AVV. They were now right in the entrance to this hallway - and there was nothing in front of them. The whole expanse of the hallway had faded into a shimmering wall of gate-energy that sparkled and occationally rippled as small lightnings crossed it.

 

Vincent stares at the wall, while Mynx whimpers and mutters, touching her tiara. Tanny, after a minute or so to recover from her surprise, walks toward the wall stopping a few paces short of it. She throws a grounding line to earth, probing the energies that rush around the wall.

 

What is this... so smooth but so... interwoven... And I think I know this... thread...

 

"No!" Tanny steps back, and both Mynx and Vincent close by her - this last with his sword raised in a defensive stance.

 

"Tanny! What is it?!"

 

The near panic in Mynx's voice made Tanny control herself at once, and she apologized.

 

"Sorry.... there's nothing wrong. I mean, nothing going to attack us or something... I just recognized one of the threads in that wall... "

 

Blushing, she quickly summarizes her experience with opening a portal back from Gaia - an experience that had left her with burned fur and a big question on how she had been able to do it.

 

"I just picked a faint memory from threads in that portal, and I guess I'm more traumatized by it than I though." With a rueful grin, she turns to Mynx. "But I think I picked also some faint trace of Gryphon's magic..."

 

The feline turns sharply towards the wall, looking almost willing to throw herself head-in. Tanny grabs her arm, whispering, "Mynx, don't! Calm down, I know you can do better than this!"

 

The depth of Tanny's gaze holds Mynx's eyes, and she gulps as some memories from a past adventure stir. Slowly, her breathing calms down and she seems to regain her usual cool composure. Nodding, Tanny lets go of her arm.

 

"Now, I might have an idea... Mynx, you said your tiara gives you empathic and telepathic communication with Gryph. I know it's the item he made you during his Quill Quest, so it obviously has much of him in it. So does the Focus Jewel he gave me... and in this jewel, he has also woven his magic."

 

"You are thinking of something..."

 

"Yes. It's just an idea, though... don't know if it will have any result. It can even be dangerous. "

 

"Go ahead." Mynx draw up to her full height, definitely over her previous near-hysterical condition now that she had a focus.

 

"I can try to use earth energy channeled through the Focus Jewel to reinforce the energy I sense in your tiara. That might amplify its effect... you might sense Gryphon."

 

She holds up a hand, stopping Mynx before she can anser. "Wait. It can also be dangerous. There are lots of energy in this sparkling wall. I sensed a faint trace of Gryphon's magic. That can help. But it can also lead to some unpredictable result..."

 

In a few more minutes, Tanny sits down besides Mynx and nods to Vincent, who takes his position as guardian.

 

 

The threads she tries to follow seem deceivingly pliable at first, and stubborn as expected when she starts weaving them in an adequate way. Even with the help of Gryphon's jewel, Tanny takes several moments until she gets the energy linked to the tiara.

 

Mynx senses a slight change in the tiara, though she couldn't pinpoint it if asked. Then, slowly and faintly, she senses Gryphon. But the link wavers, and whatever she can get comes in brokenly.

Edited by Tanuchan

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Deep in the caverns of the AVV crouched in the deep shadows on an outcropping rock ledge Gryphon sences something.

 

A quick suprised breath draws Sweetcherrie's attention and she glances sharply at Gryphon before peering back over the ledge to see if the Rock Trolls are two far away to hear her whispered question. "What is it?"

 

Gryphon pitches his voice low and quiet, "I feel something, a brief contact. I think it's Mynx, somehow she's trying to reach me through... a bond we have."

 

Closing his eyes to better concentrate on the fleeting connection to his partner Gryphon feels through the wavering contact Mynx's relief that she has re-established contact and a wordless reassurance that help is on it's way.

 

Foolishly Gryphon forgets for a moment where he is in the joy of that weak contact and heaving a deep sigh of relief he breaths in some of the dust that lies deeply over the ledge... and sneezes.

 

Mynx feels her weak contact with Gryphon waver and vanish even as his sudden alarm echos down the link to her.

 

Meanwhile in the darkness of the AVV Gryphon and Sweetcherrie prepair to run or fight once more as the sounds of large bodies move closer to their hiding spot.

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Sitting in the room he had only recently moved into, above the News Studio, Vlad looked at the pile of parchments, scrolls, and crystal balls in front of him. He had to be ready for the next News Update in only a few hours, and yet there was nothing he really felt like reporting. Letting out a soft grunt and kicking a crystal ball away, the lich buried his head in his hands.

 

While trying to untangle the mess of thoughts and stories in his mind, something else invaded his consiousness. Pieces of a message, fragment he couldn't put together. I've been in here way too long. I think I need to ask Minta about lich hallucinations. Could've sworn that was Gryph needing something... Slowly rising from his place, Vlad hobbled toward the door, mental fatigue evident in his walk. Pausing for a moment, the lich reached to a shelf and summoned to items which he quickly slipped into a pocket. Looking for Minta and Gryphon... these will come in handy, I suppose.

 

Exiting the small building near the gates of the Pen Complex, Vlad headed toward the heart of the Keep - The Cabaret room. On the walk there, he ran into hardly a soul. Right, Carnival... he mused, and continued on his way. Walking into toward the bar, he was greeted a few times, but managed to keep a low profile. Delicately pulling out one of the items he'd thought to take from his shelf, Vlad cleared off a small area of one table.

 

Carefully pouring out the contents of the pixy stick, Vlad mentally began to count: One.... Two.... Three? Four??? Fi-

 

ZZZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!! Minta appeared for the sugar with several minions in tow. "Ooohhh, it's my very own spell casting lich again! Yay!"

 

"Hey Minta, I was getting worried. Usually you're faster for the pixy sticks."

 

"Silly zombie lost his feets! Hee-heeee!" the Neato Necro Gnomie Girlie giggled.

 

"I need to ask you a question... about me being a lich..." Vlad hesitated, trying to read the expression on Minta's face.

 

"Nu-uh-uuhhh! First you gotta do somethin' for me!" she declared through a grin.

 

Vlad motioned towards the sugar and waited for Minta to respond.

 

"You tricked meeee! No FAAAIIIIIIIIIIRRR" she wailed, while Vlad grimaced and waited patiently. "Oh fine," she pouted.

 

"Do you know if liches have hallucinations? Or have visions? Or just... hear things?"

 

"Oooohhh! Coolest Cosmic-Powers ever!!! Whadd'ya see? You hafta tell me now, you hafta!!!"

 

"No, but thanks," Vlad declared and left the room absent-mindedly. Cosmic Powers? Could be... maybe it was something important. Minta was no help, maybe I can find Gryphon now. He's doing..."

 

The lich tried to remember News about Gryphon from the past couple of days... Oh, that's right! Remodelling that guild! Could've done it with magic, I think, but it's a good place as any to start...

 

Letting his feet guide him, Vlad considered the possibilities of what may have happened. Upon arrival, the sturdy door was ajar, somethign the lich interpreted as a good sign. The building looked like it had been around for ages, not newly rebuilt. Maybe it had been around for ages, this area of the Keep was one that Vlad rarely found himself in. Taking a moment to marvel at the architecture, he hastily headed inside. Now here's a News Story. I could do the human interest angle. New place, same people, a tale of recons-

 

OOMPF!!! Vlad jerked back to reality when he found himself with a face full of fur - mostly feline. After barely regaining his bearings, Vlad looked up to see two angry faces and the business end of what appeared to be a very sharp sword.

 

"Heh, guess that stuff Minta said was true..." the lich stated as he let out a nervous chuckle.

Edited by Vlad

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Ten of Chaos, reversed. Something has been ... lost?

 

The Dreamer frowned at the Chárôt card in front of him. It showed a howling demon half-submerged into one of the fiery lakes of some distant hell, a cage made of ten twisted iron arrows holding it in place. The picture wavered and shifted, the demon rattling the bars of its prison angrily, the heavy chains that disappeared from the cage's top to somewhere past the borders of the card swaying. He lifted his scarred, pale hand to put the card back into the deck.

 

The message hit him, loud and clear.

 

Calling all pennites?

 

His eyes turned red.

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Mynx sat with her eyes closed in concentration, a slight frown creasing her feline features as she struggled to maintain the contact with Gryphon. After the contact broke, she remained still for a few moments more, trying to reestablish the link.

Eventually, with a low growl of annoyance, Mynx opened her eyes and got to her paws, nodding to the Pennites who had recently joined the little group before she reached a paw down to help Tanny up.

"I reached him. They're alright, so to speak. I couldn't sense any immediate danger to them but they don't know where they are. I kept the link as long as I could but I could tell it was straining Gryphon as much as it was straining me. I can try and keep the magic as strong as possible, but I won't last long if all of my energy goes into what may be a lost cause. It looks like we are going to have to do this the hard way."

Raising a paw, Mynx extended a claw and proceded to cut a hole in the air, creating a gate to a black dimension. Reaching in, Mynx retrieved her scythe, checking the dark blade with her eye before she closed the gate and turned her attention back to the group.

"So, we have two missing Guild Leaders, no clue where they are, and so far the closest thing we've been able to get tells us that they know just as much as we.

Any suggestions?"

Edited by Mynx

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“Urgent message to all pennites!!! *sshsshsh* stranded on an unknown plane *sshshss* Help us!! *sshsshsss* beware *sssshshsh* We- *ZAP* I can’t hold them off much longer, Sweetcherrie!! *shshssssss* The Alliance of Vagabonds and Vanguards needs your help! *sshssshssh* Almost done here, Gryphon! Aaaaarggg…..Trolls!!! I hate trolls, get us out of here!!

 

*Shsshsshshsshshsh……”

 

Patham had just asked for translation help, when he received the message. It did not take him long to reach the halls of the AVV, which as far as he remembered Sweetcherrie and Gryphon had been renovating.

 

I seriously hope that nothing has gone wrong.

 

"Any news about them?" - he asked when he got there. Mynx filled him in on what she had managed to learn.

 

"I could try in owl form to follow their scent. It might be able to tell us which way they had gone. Trouble is that I am not very familiar with their scent. Would you happen to have any objects, which come from one of them?"

 

All the while Patham kept fingering the gift he had received from Salinye, which was in his pocket. He remembered her words, what she had said about the little rock.

 

It’s a rock. BUT, it’s a rock that will actually come in useful from time to time, although I hope not too often. You see, if you keep it with you, say in your pocket, it will heat up whenever anyone within reasonably close proximity to you, say the area of this room for example, has ill intentions toward you. Just a little measure to help keep you safe.

 

For the moment the rock was perfectly cool.

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Sweetcherrie had felt a short tinge of relief when she heard Gryphon say that help was on the way, but now, with the shuffling sounds of rock over rock behind them, she forgot that feeling and wheeled around to see what it was.

 

From within the darkness the rocks were moving towards them, and Sweetcherrie held the sword in front of her, prepared for anything that might come.

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For all onlookers in the Cabaret Room, something strange had come over Appy as she stopped dead in her bouncing, sat perfectly still for a moment, and rushed out (without a single bounce) in the direction of where her blanky was all set up to endure the harsh winter.

 

As she ran through the corridors she let the message go through her head again;

 

“Urgent message to all pennites!!! *sshsshsh* stranded on an unknown plane *sshshss* Help us!! *sshsshsss* beware *sssshshsh* We- *ZAP* I can’t hold them off much longer, Sweetcherrie!! *shshssssss* The Alliance of Vagabonds and Vanguards needs your help! *sshssshssh* Almost done here, Gryphon! Aaaaarggg…..Trolls!!! I hate trolls, get us out of here!!

 

*Shsshsshshsshshsh……*”

 

'Sweetcherrie, Gryphon….Trolls? What were trolls doing.. no wait, unknown plane she had said. But they had been renovating the AVV!'

 

Appy burst into the small room and belly-dived under the greenish-grey, or greyish-green, blanket that lay in the middle of the floor. For a long time there was only the sound of miscelaneous things being thrown in bags and the wooden thuds of folding tables and chairs. Then Appy emerged again, and as she stood up she dragged the points of the blanky together and folded it thus and thus, knotting here and pulling there. When she was finished she had a small greenish-grey backpack on her back, hardly visible through the tangle of hair.

 

She went to the door and looked down the corridor, trying to remember how to get to the AVV… and saw two shining red eyes walk her way.

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Having receiving a message and a headache...Anna awoke from a dream and gave a scream. It had all taken her by storm as she jumped to her feet in a daze and dashed off in the direction she best guessed was correct. Fumbling her way toward the AVV...Anna ran into a group of Pennies and wondered what was going on. Having been pretty new to the Pen...Anna was often lost as to what was happening. Anna spoke up in a mumbled voice...

 

Anna-"Ummm...hi?"

Edited by Black9

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Tanny accepts Mynx's help to stand up and, in turn, offers her hand to Vlad. Mynx's summary of the situation serves also for the lich, who ponders about it.

 

Hearing Patham's offer, Tanny nods. "That would be nice, Patham... and I think some of us already here have things that were made by Gryphon." She looks at the Wall, sighing softly. "Our link to him is unsteady, and I suspect it's due to the Wall's energies. We need to get past it, and I'm not sure at all how to."

 

"Ummm...hi?"

 

The growing group looks at Anna, and while someone - Tanny doesn't pay attention to who, as she's already back to probing the wall - explains the situation to her, Tanny slowly touches the wall.

 

It feels firm and pliable, very like the threads of energy she had felt. A tingling sensation courses up her arms, not very pleasant, and she shudders. She pushes her hand against the Wall, feeling it immediately harden and give a mild shock.

 

Still linked to earth, Tanny tries once more to find some familiar thread in there that she can manipulate. Failing in that, she murmurs to no one in particular, though she knows at least Mynx would listen to her.

 

"Maybe we can pour more energy into the link with Gryphon... if he could tell us what happened, we might be able to find a way through."

Edited by Tanuchan

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Vincent let out a low growl, "Whatever we need to do we need to hurry! I will not stand by while two people are stranded in a dangerous plane!" He pushed his way twards the shimmering wall of gate engery, "I advice you all stand back, I'm going in here no matter what..." Vincent held his sword and closed his eyes in prayer once more- paying little or no heed to anywords of protest from the group.

 

His link to Innoavin was weak, as it always was in this realm, but he felt it slowly grow. Prehaps his diety was reaching trough the wild opening of planes to reach his follower, Vincent didn't care much either way all he cared was the divine engery filling his body- it was a rush he hadn't felt in years. He slowly opened his eyes and placed one hand on the wall of shimering engery, he began to speak words in a strange varition of common, sounding much like a prayer or pled. His hand on the wall began to glow a faint gold color, the wall of wild magic shimering and jumping more and more as the divine magic was also added into the mix. Ripples of engery began to fly off teh wall twards the group growing stronger and stronger, at first they just made Vincent's long black hair and blue cape fly back, but soon he and the other gather pennites could barely stand as the waves of forced knocked into them. The suddenly a great flash of gold light filled the room as the waves of force shook the walls and knock pennites off there feet, as the blinding light faded away the spot where Vincent was once standing was empty and the wall of wild magic was moving faster and wilder then before.

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Who knows where he will have gone. - Patham thought as Vincent disappeared from the room. He had no inclination to follow him into the unknown.

 

As per his earlier suggestion that Tanny had approved he took an item one of them had received from Sweetcherrie and in his owl form managed to detect a faint trace of her scent on it.

 

From there it was not hard for him to follow the scent, which laid straight to the wall of wild magic.

 

"They went through this ...err wall, portal or whatever." - he said to Tanny, and the others once he had finished smelling around, and was once again in his human form.

 

If only we could find out where they are now, I could check whether there is a trollgate near them.

Edited by Patrick Durham

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"Hey, ya."

 

The cold, snarling voice was followed by a bony hand extending itself from underneath the two red stars and grabbed Appy's lapels, lifting her upwards before she had chance to do anything.

 

"An' whose grand idea was it t' pester me with that cracklin', unstable message, hmm?"

 

"Hey, lemme go!"

 

Appy shout had just a mixture of shock and surprise to it - seeing the Dreamer's face from close up was not entirely pleasant experience, and his grip was like steel.

 

"As ye wish, puny mortal."

 

A sneer appeared on the planewalker's ravaged face, the scars slithering across it to a new order. Very slowly and carefully he lowered the girl so she ended up standing on her two legs again. His eyes lost some of their brightest red glare, but the black hue that flowed into them did not seem any friendlier.

 

"So, do tell me if ye may, m'lady, where'd I find th' people responsible for this outrage?"

 

The words were far more polite than the tone they were uttered in.

 

"Didn't you hear the message? It's Gryphon and Sweetcherrie, I don't know where they are!"

 

She made a great show of rearranging her shirt and doing it huffily, but her hands were shaking as she did it. The Dreamer shifted his now almost black gaze away from her as soon as he heard the words, staring somewhere beyond this world.

 

"I see."

 

Appy tilted her head as curiosity took her over and she stared at the Dreamer.

 

"Well? Aren't you going to do something?"

 

The little girl took a quick step back and clasped her hand over her mouth, not believe she had just said that. Without waiting for any reaction, and fervently hoping there wouldn't be any, she took out her pink skippyball with a shaking hand but casual air and bounced away, in the direction of the AVV...

Edited by Zadown

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Mynx tried once more to sense Gryphon's scent but gave up and shook her head. "There's too much magic...it's blended too easily with Gryphon's scent...I can tell you he's been here, but for all I know he's in Africa right now."

Mynx turned her attention back to Tanny. "Do you think more magic will help the link?"

Tanuchan thought about it before nodding slowly. "We got a link when we were just using the items to augment the magic, but I think if we put more energy into establishing the contact, we might be able to get more than a weak link. If we can find out what Gryphon and Sweetcherrie did, then perhaps we'll be able to find how to save them!"

Mynx pondered this for a moment, eyes clouded in thought. Although for her there was no real question.

"Do it," she nodded to Tanny. "I'll put as much of my power into the tiara as possible and hopefully our strength will establish a link."

Mynx paused and looked around at the gathered Pennites. "This...is going to be draining on me. You may want to give me some space just in case I...stumble..."

Patham stepped forward and smiled kindly at Mynx.

"I'll support you, make sure you don't fall on anyone."

Mynx smiled and bowed her head in thanks before looking at Tanny.

"Just give me a few moments to prepare, then we can go for gold..."

Tanny nodded and began to do the same as the remaining Pennites looked at each other and wondered what was to happen...

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Stephen had been exploring a part of the forests surrounding the Pen Keep that he didn't know yet when he felt a by now familiar mental nudge. He put his hand in his pocket, closing his fingers around a small, wooden sculpture of a certain Almost Dragon and concentrated on the link.

 

:: Stephen? Did you hear that? ::

 

:: Unless you mean that little bird failing to learn how to fly, or anything else near me, no. What did I miss? ::

 

:: There was a call for help from Sweetcherrie and Gryphon - it seems as though they're in big trouble and I want to see if I can help. ::

 

:: Where? ::

 

:: I don't know yet, but I'm heading for the AVV. ::

 

:: That's where we went through a certain portal, right? I'll meet you there. ::

 

He turned around and concentrated on extending his senses into one direction - that of the Keep. When he was comfortable he could "feel" the ground far enough ahead of him, he started running. It wasn't long before he reached the main gates and ran through with a speed far greater than his blindness should allow.

 

As he was making his way down the last flights of stairs he almost got knocked back by a sudden gust of wind. With a grunt of surprise, he steadied himself and continued at a slightly slower pace. He could already hear the voices of several others - it seemed there were several Pennites willing to help.

 

"Just give me a few moments to prepare, then we can go for gold..."

 

With a frown, Stephen approached, wondering about this going for gold. Surely the idea was to help Sweetcherrie and Gryphon, and not get richer?

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Taking in everything that had happened, from his own life threatened to learning of Gryphon and Sweetcherrie's danger, Vlad sat quietly. When Mynx announced that she was ready to try again, he looked around at the other people. Isn't anybody going to offer to help? I suppose I should...

 

"Uhh... Mynx? If I can interject here..." Vlad reached into his pocket and gingerly pulled out an item. The feline looked confused in a why-are-you-interrupting sort of way, but Tanuchan showed a flash of understanding.

 

"Is that one of Gryphon's items? From his Quill Quest?" Her tone quickly turned from inquisitive to apprehensive, "I didn't know you were a part of that."

 

"Yea, well, things change. Anyways, maybe another item with his magic will help. And besides, this one's a portal. No idea where it leads, so who knows..."

 

"I don't think that's a good idea. We've already lost two Guild Leaders, and like you said, you don't know where the portal leads." Vlad spun around to see who spoke. His eyes fell upon the latest arrival - Stephen.

 

"Can we just get on with this? Vlad, were you going to offer to help?" Mynx grumbled impatiently.

 

"I'll try my best. If we can make contact again, maybe we can set the destination of the portal to wherever we need to go. Oh, and don't worry about the size, I picked up a few tricks while reading in the libraries..." He grinned and held out the black and silver stone, apparently waiting.

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Still confused, Anna was starting to grasp the situation and would have spoken up if Vlad and the group had not been in the middle of a highly important state of being. Being that she was smaller then most Pennies...she's only sixteen...the Slayer found her way to the front to attempt to take in more of what was going on.

 

More and more the thought of the missing Pennies took over Anna's emotions in a fashion that reved up a bit of her stored up power without her knowlage. Anna began with a holy power that steadily grew to a half way decent level as she stood worried that the Pennies were in some sort of danger and wanted to help so badly that she couldn't contain the power she supressed from within. Speaking in a more confident voice this time...Anna finally spoke up...her power level reaching the higher marks.

 

Anna-"I'd like to help if I can?"

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Ashbneil'Kalladtd shifted its massive shoulders uncertainly vainly trying to hold on to some shred of demonic dignity. It threw an involuntary glance upwards, then glared balefully at the gaggle of grey cherubs that lounged nearby, giggling loudly at its appearance.

 

"Hold still!" Valdar snapped absently. A terrible screeching accompanied the command as the little Planewalker industriously screwed yet another shiny into the Demon's horns. The sound suddenly stopped, and Bubble chanced another upwards glance. His Master's eyes were distant and his ears stood straight up, listening intently.

 

 

"Yay! An adventure!" He announced happily before leaping off the Demon's head. Bubble released a great gout of flame from its nostril’s-the demonic equivalent of a resigned sigh, while the Angels got to their feet in concern.

 

"Sweetcherrie an Gryphon are stuck inna Plane somewhere an we gotta find them! Nuhnuh, I'm going with just Bubble, can you saddle him please?"

 

The elf ran over to a chest and started digging before one of his guardians grabbed him firmly by the earcaps and led him away.

 

**

 

A few minutes later, Valdar reappeared dressed in his Astral raiment. Gone were the blunted earcaps, replaced by brilliant crystal earblades that cut the very air when they moved. A Katana was strapped to his back, far too large to draw easily from its smoking sheath. To top it off, a pointy wizard's hat sat atop his head with slots cut into the brim to allow free ear movement. He climbed up Bubble's proffered arm and sat down heavily on one pillowed shoulder. Grabbing a horn to steady himself, Valdar waved his ears in farewell to his angelic servants.

 

"Okok, lets go!-wheeee!" Bubble surged forward self consciously, trying to ignore the tinkling shinies about its person. It crouched as it reached the door, stepped into the corridor and nearly squished Appy as she bounced past.

 

"Oooooooooooooops! Sorry Appy! Say Sorry, Bubble!" The tips of Valdar’s earblades blazed as he waved them apologetically.

 

". . .Sorry, mistress." The Demon cringed.

 

Appy was staring wide eyed at the shiny adorned demonic footsoldier.

 

"Umm, were you going to look for auntie Sweetcherrie an uncle Gryphon? We can look together if you want!" Bubble's eyes flickered*, and another gout of flame exploded from it's nostrils as it lowered its other arm. . .

 

*-The equivalent of rolling one's eyes in resignation

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In one of the northern spires within the Pen’s walls, a sound of ringing metal and sizzling flame could be heard. The steady beating of a hammer against metal resounded through the spiral staircase leading upwards to the top, and if one were to poke their head through the door, they would see a pair of bright white wings, shielding their possessor from view.

 

As was his habit, he was busily at work, pounding metal into useful tools and items that he and the others around him could use. His hammer arm flexed and fell, flexed and fell, as the soft iron bar that he was presently hammering into a new shape warped into the desired shape.

 

With a start, all of this changed, very quickly.

“Urgent message to all pennites!!! *sshsshsh* stranded on an unknown plane *sshshss* Help us!! *sshsshsss* beware *sssshshsh* We- *ZAP* I can’t hold them off much longer, Sweetcherrie!! *shshssssss* The Alliance of Vagabonds and Vanguards needs your help! *sshssshssh* Almost done here, Gryphon! Aaaaarggg…..Trolls!!! I hate trolls, get us out of here!!”

 

“What in the...”

 

Knight set the hammer down and quickly looked around his shop. In the corner, underneath of a non-descript, common white sheet sat a spheroid object. Towards it, he strode, lost in contemplative thought. With a flick of his hand, he pulled the sheet off of the largish object- it was easily big enough to fit several people in it- he smiled quickly. He had managed to salvage what little bit was left of his once proud ship, and it had gone into this- an object vaguely reminiscent of a dropship, only much, much smaller.

 

Quickly though, he forced his thoughts back to the telepathic message he received. Being no stranger to such magic, he began to analyze the situation. Striding over to his desk, he pulled forth a quill and ink from a drawer, and began to scrawl notes, musing to himself out loud. “Two guild leaders are missing, and under attack in a different plane… We do have planewalkers in the Pen, but, from the sound of things, they are going to need as much in the way of help as they can get.”

 

Looking back to the spheroid, he could not help but thinking that if he only knew of what plane they were on, he could get there. After all, had he not managed to bring an entire Destroyer class ship into orbit around the planet? Granted, he had crashed it, but that was due to his calculations being a little more precise than he had figured upon.

 

With a wry grin, he shrugged, and went to one of the two stout looking doors adjoining the workshop, and he pulled it open. Stepping into a small antechamber, Knight ducked his head, and walked into a cloistered room, in which rested his suit of armor, and also a variety of weapons, from a now-defunct class 5 plasma cannon, to a sword in its sheath, set apart on a stand. He proceeded to don the armor, his practiced hands snapping and strapping it into place, its weight feeling good against him. With a few determined strides, he moved over to the cupboards at the back wall of the small armory. Opening one, he withdrew a sword belt, with several snap points for utility pouches, and other useful items. Locking it into place around his waist, Knight grabbed hold of the sword on the stand, reverently and carefully lifting it from its place of honor. With an easy, practiced motion, he locked the blade into place against his right hip. With another step to the side, he withdrew what has often been described as a tower shield, and in his case, likely was. It was nearly tall enough to cover from ankle to shoulder on Knight, and he was bigger than most. Slipping its sling over his shoulder and wings, he adjusted it so that he was comfortable.

 

Now that he had that completed, he left the armory, and went back out into the workshop. Putting the sheet back over the spheroid, he hastened towards the stairs, striding purposefully down towards the common grounds of The Mighty Pen. He was determined to find out what others were doing, and how, if at all possible, he could help.

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Vincent tried in vain to blink away the blinding gold light finally he gave up and let it slowly fade away on it's own. He was greeted by a plain grassy feild, a think mist streched far off in every direction hidering his view to whatever else lie beyound- if anything at all. With a sigh Vincent seathed his long sword and began to walk in a random direction- he had to find something.

 

As he walked his mind began to wonder to thoughts of home- the long-losty city of Lindson. The thought brought a small moment of cheer to Vincent, he remeber his mother's cooking, sparing with his father with wooden swords, and more things that brought a smile to his face, but like everytime he thought of home his mind began to fill with darker thought: the bloody battles he fought to protect the city, the ground opening to swallow men whole, the elements riping apart men at the whim of evil clerics, and the grand fortess city of Lindson laying in ruin- defeated and dead. He clenched his fist. grited his teeth, and closed his eyes willing away the dark memories.

 

When he opened his eyes again he was greeted by the most amazing sight , stone walls that streched up to unbelievablely heights cris-crosed with the designs of twising interwoven roses, huge towers those rose into the sky as if to reach the long forgoten gods, and in the center of it all sat the huge castle of Lindson where he had trained as a knight. It couldn't be real, logic defied it, but Vincent couldn't think he was so full of emotion. He roamed the streets, watching adults and children go about on their buiness and play, he watched the soliders and friends he once comanded saluate and smile by as he passed- he was on the verge of tears, he was home everything was fine.

 

His moment of peace was short lived sadly as the sky began to darken, lighting and thunder lighting the sky and shaking the earth. He ran, ran to the watch towers on the walls, up the spiral staircases, to the top of the inner wall. There he saw a sight that had haunted his dreams for years, lines of men clad in black armor as far as the sky could see, banners of Tupavvia (a black gauntlet griping a bloody beating heart) waving in the wind. He watched as the army of the black god torn his homeland apart- watched as men rushed to fight them back and we're sluaghtered. It went on for hours he could only watch as they moved farther and farther into the city, the number of black clad men had droped drasticly but the now small army still rained destuction apon the kingdom moving finnaly to the final wall.

 

Vincent watched the remains of the Lindsonian army gather in thesmall opening in front the large double doors of the wall's gate, he griped he's sword and with a roar like an angered beast he ran down to join them. Just as he arrived to join their ranks the heavy doors were blasted off there hinges by the evil magic, they crashed to the ground and broke into splinters in the middle of the assemble resitance, but Vincent paided no heed as chunks of wood pierced his armor and soilder fled in terror, he unsheathed his sword and ran to fight the foe who hanunted his dreams for years.

Edited by Vincent Silver

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