Quicksilver Part 2
Originally posted Mar 2, 1997
Modified version posted Jul 20, 1997
Stay tuned after the story for a Magic card based on it!
The region known for generations as the Kingdom of Noloder; the second day of the month of Neevalan of the four hundred seventy-ninth year, as the free city of Rhodessa reckons time In that place and time, a visitor appeared, like none that the plane of Tolagrand had known.
The shock of the cold water stole his breath for a moment, but Kensington was soon heading for the Quicksilver with strong, sure strokes. He heard the whine of the Van de Graaffs powering up, and with the stink of ozone, they loosed electrical energy at the marauding skyship.
He tried to ignore the sounds of battle, concentrating on swimming to his flagship. Soon, he was pulled from the water by the strong hands of his crew, to find that the skyship was hanging back over the land, out of range of the Van de Graaff Projectors. He shrugged off the offer of a cloak, but instead grabbed a telescope and examined the skyship in detail.
"No markings we can understand, lord," said a voice at his elbow.
"Captain Wellwarden, that does not matter. For the audacity to attack the lord of Threshold and his subjects, these barbarians will be taught a lesson. They will face the full wrath of a planewalker." He handed the telescope roughly to the captain and stalked off to his chambers.
"They must have many mages on board, sir, to launch so many lightning bolts so quickly. But the Caelix detected no elemental magic, and could not give us any protection."
"How useless those sky-sorcerers are. We shall capture this ship without his assistance, for the glory of the Aquilarian Empire. It has some secrets the Caelixi do not know, it seems. Prepare a team to examine that steel bird, before these strangers can try to reclaim its carcass."
The monstrous captive still paced restlessly in his cage, trying to discern a way to escape. The beast within was mostly subsided now, letting him use his intellect with full clarity. He had seen a huge metal bird, presumably the thrall of his captor, gouge a huge section of the forest up as it fell under the assault of the Aquilarians. The forest howled its displeasure to those who could hear. Perhaps the Aquilarians were more powerful than these strangers after all, so oddly dressed with long wands in their hands as they stood at attention nearby. Were these the weapons that had felled him? Yes, it would seem so. Interesting. They had done no damage, other than paralyzing him for a while. Perhaps these newcomers had the power to defeat Aquilaria. No matter which side won though, it looked bad for him. Both wanted him dead or captured. The only solution was to slip out during the confusion of battle.
This presented a problem. The circle prevented him from moving more than eight feet in any direction, and seemed to throw his own force back at him when he attempted to cross it. A devious trick. The rune the leader had drawn on his forehead would not come off, as far as he could tell by rubbing it. Too bad his talents lied so much in the purely physical realm.
But what if the circle only contained him, and not other things? He sat down with his back to the soldiers, and surreptitiously looked for a rock. There was one, a pebble really. With a nonchalant look to see that the soldiers were not paying close attention, he flicked it against the far wall. It went through, with not even a crackle of energy. His breath caught in his throat. So what did that mean? It meant that the soldiers could shoot him. He sat and continued to contemplate his escape.
"Lord! They are landing some men in the forest!"
"I see that. They are after the avian, and it fell near the beast's prison, where our soldiers are gathered. They will not escape detection long. Now leave me to my work." The officer left the pentacle room, located high on the Quicksilver, just forward of the smokestack. It was covered by a glass dome, to provide the best view of the surrounding area. Kensington, now clad in the full regalia of the Lord of Threshold, caused the dome to open. "Fire the terrionic generators."
The mundane thrumming of the steam engines was joined by the arcane beat of the terrionics, only barely noticeable to those that didn't have magical ability. He checked his spells, getting ready to cast the rituals required. But first, they would know the face of their destroyer.
"Captain Ontello, the team is down on the surface, and approaching the bird."
"Good, keep watch on the interlopers to see that they do not approach. They do not seem to have the ability to fly, which will be in our advantage. And send for reinfor...." The captain screwed up his face in pain.
"I'm... fine now. My head feels like a sieve."
"As well it should, Captain Marcus Ontello of the Aquilarian skyship Dawn Spear. I raided your mind for your language." An unfamiliar figure in a strange coat appeared in front of the command chair. The first mate swung hastily at him with her sword, but to no effect.
"You are a ghost," stated Ontello.
The figure laughed. "Hardly, I am your nightmare. For firing on the HMS Quicksilver, you will suffer. But first, I will know your reasons."
"I owe nothing to you, you are trespassing in Aquilarian Imperial space, and were operating proscribed conveyances. We are within imperial law to fire without warning."
"Much as I agree with the sentiment, you have fired upon the Lord of Threshold. That is an indiscretion that I cannot..." The image suddenly jumped and faded.
"Captain! If that man is telling the truth, we have picked the wrong ship to tangle with!"
"Who asked you, Caelix?"
"I suggest that we immediately retreat, at least until we get reinforcements. It is too dangerous to tangle with Threshold and its lord," replied the sky-sorcerer.
"So, where in the abyss is Threshold?"
"It's another plane, captain. One situated in the center of many others. It's simpler than normal to travel the planes there, even remotely possible for non-planewalkers."
"Bah, planewalking. You Caelixi made up that story, to gain more resources from the Emperor."
"Lord Kensington of Threshold is hardly imaginary, and he's known to have devices from many planes, and is a dangerous man to cross spells with. He is older than any of the present Caelixi, so the story goes. None of my planewalking brethren have been there and returned. But he is certainly a powerful planewalker."
"But he's repulsed by a simple spell of disenchantment? Bedtime stories to frighten children, Titus."
"You see that ship? It has no sails. It must be the Quicksilver, Kensington's ship. It's driven by some foreign power. It travels the planes themselves."
"Go start up a defense, then, if you really feel its necessary. Because we're taking his metal bird from below. I'm not budging until then, and what we do will depend on what happens."
"They broke the sending! The audacity!" Kensington began to draw power from the terrionics and started a ritual of summoning.
The forest complained at the arriving Aquilarian soldiers as they touched down in their launch. Oh well, thought the captive, I have nothing to lose. He began to caterwaul, trying to draw them closer. One of the solders shouted at him, but after a few more howls, he felt some of the projectiles clatter off of his carapace. He froze up. But the forest seemed to guess his intent, and drew the Aquilarians closer, in an attempt for the two disturbances to cancel each other out.
The two groups saw each other at about the same time, and began firing at each other. The Aquilarians seemed to have an advantage, for their crossbow bolts were more damaging than the projectiles the outsiders used, though the merest graze caused temporary paralysis. After the captive's paralysis wore off, he remained on the ground, watching for his chance.
Finally, one of the outsiders came too close to the circle, and a crossbow bolt penetrated his skull. The body teetered for a moment, but then fell fortunately into the circle. The circle seemed to dim slightly, though the captive could still not get free. Leaving the body half in the circle, he searched it. Besides the strange wand, there was a length of rope. He had an idea.
Captain Ontello looked over at the Quicksilver. There was a shape forming above it. It looked menacing and vaguely familiar, as if... "Battle stations! It looks like there's a powerful mage over there anyway!" He jabbed a finger at the nearby Caelix, ignoring the sky-sorcerer's smug expression. "You may want to get your colleagues here faster. Draconic attack is something that I believe in."
The captive fashioned a lasso from the rope, which seemed much stronger than the ropes he was used to. The Aquilarians were approaching across the stream, seemingly oblivious to the captive. He cast, and caught one around the head. His neck snapped as the captive jerked. The Aquilarians noticed him now, but the fact that most of their bolts bounced off of his carapace and that he was trapped (he leapt against the closer side of the barrier, making the barrier's coruscation and the fact that he bounced obvious), made them merely gave him a wide berth. The outsiders were retreating over the hill. The captive carefully dragged the dead body to himself, getting it halfway into the circle next to the other one. Making a quick prayer to Neevalan, the god of luck, he backed up as far as he could and with a running start, leapt over the dead bodies. There was a terrific backward force, but only for a moment. The disruption of the circle was enough, and he broke through. He fell heavily, energy crackling around him as the circle totally dissolved.
The Aquilarians, shocked at this turn of events, began to retreat away from him, but the former captive decided in discretion's favor. As soon as he could make his legs move, he ran away from them, across the stream and into the obscuring trees.
"Gythernax? What the hell is Kensington doing?" raged Captain Andrew Wellwarden as he looked up at the rapidly coalescing shape above the steam ship. "He should have left that damn Shivan in the zoo!"
The others on the command deck could only agree. The last trip to Dominaria almost met with disaster when their monarch had captured Gythernax and bound her to his will.
"Keep the Van de Graaffs charged, lads. We may need their help against our own forces. And seal all the hatches you can."
Gythernax the Shivan Dragon was free! Free! Free of the shackles and the cage back in Threshold. Unfortunately, her will was still bound by that accursed mage, Maximilian Lucas. She was to attack the airborne ship? Certainly, and perhaps its wreckage might "accidentally" fall upon the Quicksilver.
With a powerful beat of her wings, Gythernax rose high in the air, getting a good bead upon the Dawn Spear. She began a dive. Many ballista bolts clattered off of her hide, and only a few penetrated with little damage. A bulbous cloud of flame washed from the ship onto her, but despite the mage's hopes, it only confused her aim. She passed underneath the ship, too far away to do any damage. She rose to try another pass. This time. a lightning bolt tossed her to one side, and the dragon only got to rake the side of the ship with her foreclaws. Undeterred, she climbed upwards, far above the ship, and let loose bursts of flame, timed to drop on the Dawn Spear and shake up its puny humans a little. She watched the balls of falling flame with glee.
"I'll take over the defense now, if you please."
The captain started. "Excelsior Baergus Noladro?"
"Yes, and I'll defend this ship better than that young pup Titus can. How could you be so stupid as to get into a battle with an extraplanar threat like this Kensington? I should have your commission."
"The Caelixi have no such authority. The Emperor will hear of that."
"He will also hear how you all but declared war on an enemy that would have left us alone. From all accounts, Kensington has no dreams of conquest."
"But Titus implied that he was a legend!"
"Titus never paid attention to his lessons. Yes, he's a legend, but one we know is real. We know enough about him to know he's dangerous. Now captain, order the helm hard to starboard. We have an incoming fireball."
The Caelixi Excelsior raised his arms, and caused a great volume of water to spray off the ocean surface. The water coalesced into a Wall of Vapor, with an everchanging form. Baergus infused it with more magic and sent it up into the sky after the dragon. This kept the dragon from attacking the Dawn Spear again, but the flame in transit, which had expanded a lot during its fall, singed the port sails of the ship. Captain Ontello ordered the flames extinguished, which happened quickly enough.
"Now, Captain, we are retreating. The vapor can keep the dragon away for now, and the Quicksilver seems quiet for now. It is our chance to escape."
"Escape? He invaded Aquilaria!"
"We discussed this. If we retreat, he will let us alone. He is only here in Noloder to gain trophies, if the stories are true. It is worth the loss to not gain his wrath. The Emperor would agree."
"Too late, Excelsior Noladro. He seemed greatly angered in his sending."
Baergus sighed. "Well, then, I think that we have a problem." He pointed at a large shape taking form by the Quicksilver. "Kensington seems to have learned something out of the Brothers' legacy as well. One of the legendary Colossi of Sardia has arrived in Tolagrand, and we don't have control of it."
"May Qorlesh guide us," breathed Ontello.
To be continued...
And, as promised, here is your free card...
During each player's turn, that player may play an additional mana-producing land. Mark all lands played each turn after the first with a Generator counter. All colorless spells cost up to 1 less to cast. All other spells cost an additional 1.
If Terrionic Generator leaves play, bury all lands marked with a Generator counter.
|Copyright © 1997 Tim Bailey|
- Noloder = NO-lo-der
- Neevalan = NEE-va-lan
- Marcus Ontello = MAR-cus ON-tell-o
- Gythernax = gie-THAER-nax
- Baergus Noladro = BEAR-gus no-LAH-dro
- Qorlesh = KOR-lesh
"Shivan Dragon", "Dominaria", "Urza", "Mishra", "Wall of Vapor" and "Colossus of Sardia" are property of Wizards of the Coast. This story should not be considered as a challenge to any trademark or copyright of WOTC. The rest of "Quicksilver Part 2" is Copyright 1997 by Timothy Bailey. All rights reserved. This story may not be distributed for profit, with the exception of the normal charges for online time.