Quicksilver Part 3
Originally 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.
"Captain, stay away from that Colossus at all costs. It could destroy this ship without a second thought," said Excelsior Baergus Noladro.
"I believe you," sighed Captain Ontello. "Make for the East! Farther over the land! We need some more maneuvering room from that ship and Colossus!" The crew of the Aquilarian Imperial Skyship Dawn Spear hurried to fulfill his orders. "Now, Excelsior, what about that dragon? Surely you have something to dispose of it."
"She is of little concern just now. The vapor thwarts her every attack. I will see about that Colossus."
"Damnable natives have some power over magic," muttered Kensington, watching the dragon Gythernax's difficulties while he worked on summoning the Colossus. Finally, it was complete, and stepped around the Quicksilver to head for shore.
The mage paused in his efforts. Examining the situation, he used a speaking tube to order the launch of the Quicksilver's Aesthir Gliders. They were to evacuate the troops ashore, as well as the beast that he had captured.
As soon as the Colossus stepped ashore, Kensington used some of the forest's power to infuse it with power. "By the power of this land, become Nature's Chosen, Colossus of Sardia," chanted the mage. The land itself strained against such an unnatural use, but Kensington's Terrionic Generators forced it to comply. He smiled. This spell made use of the Colossus much simpler. But this time, it was limited, as his opponents could fly. Just to cause terror. A useful role, that.
The creature most recently named Goliath ran through the forest, fleeing the site of the battle between the Aquilarians and the strange newcomers. The beast within him was mainly quiet, so he had full control of his movements.
He wondered what had brought the newcomers to Noloder. Certainly, there was little of use left, after the Aquilarians had conquered and plundered it. The capital of Tandalai was in ruins, its beautiful towers thrown down in directed imperial fury after the inhabitants had disappeared to a man. Perhaps there was something out here that they looked for, some abandoned mage's abode. But in the time that Goliath had spent here, he had seen no such thing. The forest would have told him, for it abhorred unnatural things. It tolerated him because... Well, why did it tolerate him? Neevalan only knew.
His musings were disrupted as he stumbled upon the great metal bird's carcass. So this was what they use to travel, thought Goliath. Curious. But it was an obvious place to look for either of the warring factions, when they got around to looking for him. He ran around it, and disappeared farther into the forest.
"There's something strange about that ship," mused Baergus, as he looked over the battlefield.
"Yes, it has no sails," said Titus.
"Who asked you? But there's something else. I can see our friend clearly, lit up with mana as he is, and he's somehow funneling his power through that ship. We disable it, and we disable him."
"The Lord of Threshold?" asked the junior Caelix.
"Yes. Once we defang him, we should have a little better chance of calling a truce or, if that fails, killing him."
"K- killing him? Won't Threshold fight back?"
"Oh, it probably will, but from what I believe, its main power is its lord's force of will. Not like the Aquilarian Empire. We're too spread out to be harmed too much by the loss of Drossus III. But I think that he'll leave peacefully, if we... apologize."
"Don't worry, you won't have to deal with him. Now, make sure that the ship is well-defended. Do something about that Colossus."
Titus looked at his superior with a fearful expression and a trembling lip.
"Well, just keep it busy. Have Ontello keep the Dawn Spear out of reach, at least."
"Where are you going?"
"I'm hunting the hunter." Baergus smiled, and teleported away.
"That damn cloud! Gythernax, what is the problem?" raged Kensington through his link to the dragon.
"I cannot get past it," returned the dragon's thoughts. "It's blocking my every attempt to attack the ship. I'll need you to help, great and benevolent master. I've been a little out of practice because of the shackles you keep me in." Her thoughts took on a sarcastic tone.
"Fine. But your complaints fall on deaf ears, Gythernax." He drew power from the forest through the generators again, and a spectral snake head appeared around the dragon. "Can you work with Venomous Breath?"
"Quite well." The dragon again dove for the skyship.
Baergus blinked back into existence on the deck of the Quicksilver as he felt the arcane machines there reach a high whine. With a start, he looked up at the aerial battle between the cloud and dragon. The snake's head vision around the dragon was unfamiliar, but the intended effects of this magic were clear. Too late to destroy the spell, he lanced out with a single, slight spike of magical energy. The Wall of Vapor would die, but the dragon would have its own problems.
Baergus used the time he had gained by searching for the marvelous machines that could channel mana.
Kensington watched through the dragon's eyes as she plowed through the cloud. It was dispersing from the power of the Venomous Breath, but suddenly, a glyph seemingly made out of the cloud itself flared into view. It flashed brightly when Gythernax passed through it. She froze up and began falling to the ground below.
"A... a Glyph of Delusion? Who uses those? Barbarian magicians!" Kensington began to draw more power from the terrionics.
"Not now, Titus. I'm busy keeping us alive. What's that Excelsior up to? I don't see any magic."
"Well, he's... gone. He's on that ship." The Caelix pointed at their adversary, far below and to the West.
"Damnation! I'll never understand sorcerers. We need him =here=." He became silent as the deck slanted sharply to port. The helmsman was making a quick correction to avoid one of the Colossus' flailing arms.
"Sir? He said that we'd better get above the reach of the Colossus."
Ontello stared, dumbfounded, at the young mage for a moment. "=That= much is obvious. Now go earn your keep, since that Noladro obviously won't." He bellowed at the helm, "What by the Fangs of Taxis are you doing? Climb, man!"
Goliath felt the impact both on a physical and magical level. The great dragon that had appeared so quickly in the air blundered into the earth, ripping many trees from their roots and gouging a deep gorge, to judge by the wailing complaint the land put up, and the way the earth jumped.
He regained his feet and looked around for the exact point the dragon landed. It wasn't very far behind him. He saw that his initial suspicion was correct, trees were flattened for a large area, almost to where he stood. Goliath began to continue his flight, but suddenly thought better of it. He picked his way among the fallen trees to approach the fallen dragon, fascinated by her iridescent scales.
"Help me..." Goliath mentally heard a plea. No words, but pictures, and faint ones at that.
Wondering at his sanity, he moved closer, and laid his hands upon the dragon's battered head. "How? Why?" He thought back, hoping that he could communicate back to this beautiful creature.
All he got back was a picture of himself, shackled, flexing his muscles mightily and shattering the bonds with a mighty roar. He silently smiled and nodded. Freedom.
Just as Baergus felt the engines building up again, he heard a shout. One of the Quicksilver's crew had spotted him. He glanced around, and saw that others were responding to the call. He hurriedly ducked through a hatch and called up a Wall of Dust to cover the entrance. He ran away from the choking and sneezing sailors to continue his search.
With luck and judicious summoning of creatures to confuse the crew, Baergus finally came to the source of the arcane thrumming. It was a large machine, slightly glowing to his mana-sensitive senses. He began to consider the consequences if he simply destroyed it, when he heard a voice behind him.
"Well, well, an intruder. A planewalker intruder, at that. Capture him!"
Baergus turned to see a swarm of mechanical insects coming at him. A hastily conjured Wall of Heat did not slow them down. The Clockwork Swarm ran over him, knocking him to the floor and drawing blood. Finally, Baergus summoned up the clarity of mind to cast Control Magic on the metallic insects, and the Swarm reformed in front of him, awaiting his orders. The Caelix spied the man who had spoken earlier, certainly the Lord of Threshold, and sent the Swarm after him.
"Some gall you have, barbarian." Kensington pulled from the generators the slightest bit of red mana and destroyed the enchantment controlling the Swarm.
"As do you, invading my home. I know magic from the Brothers as well." The Caelix gathered flame in his hand, and tossed it at the approaching Swarm. They exploded in a fiery blast, injuring Kensington but leaving Baergus unharmed.
"You were not on the Dawn Spear earlier. I would have noticed you." Kensington replied calmly, regaining his composure and warily sizing up his opponent.
"Trust me, there are more on the way. We do not look upon destruction of our ships kindly."
"Destruction? I was merely ready to teach you barbarians a lesson. Your ship fired upon me and my crew. We were just about to depart and leave your barbarian kingdom in peace."
"I then suggest that you do, or you may be displeased with the consequences. I am holding ready a spell that you may be familiar with from your study of the Artificers: Shatterstorm. I'm sure that releasing it so close to your devices will be harmful."
"Don't threaten me."
"Not a threat, Lord Kensington. Merely a defense if you decide to continue hostilities. I am truly sorry that the captain of the Dawn Spear found it necessary to fire on you, but he was uncertain of your identity. He will atone for his mistake."
"Oh, yes he will." There was a surge of power, and before Baergus realized what was happening, he found that reality had shifted. A strange black emptiness had opened between him and Kensington. Baergus tried to cast his Shatterstorm, but found his mountains gave him blue mana.
"Never seen a Naked Singularity before? Wouldn't expect that you had, since this is such a backwater plane. And only a few were made."
"That I do not doubt. It looks like a hard device to control. And while your mana reserves are disrupted as well.." Suddenly, a knife and bowl were in Baergus hands. As Kensington looked on with wild eyes, Baergus pricked his finger and let one drop of blood fall into the Implements of Sacrifice. They disappeared in a puff of smoke. "You had your chance, one more than most enemies of the Empire get. Now, say farewell to your machines." Baergus clapped once, and waves of magical force exploded outward. Kensington tried containing the blast with a Power Sink. The Caelix was prepared for this response, and snuffed the sink with a Flash Counter. The first thing touched by the force was the singularity, which exploded in a burst of light. As the two planewalkers were tossed back by the blast, the terrionic generators erupted in another, greater, burst of magical energy. Baergus pitched forward and was still.
Kensington stumbled away from the exploding generators as he felt the waves of force expanding outward, unstoppable. Devices all over the ship were exploding. Fortunately, the Shatterstorm was not as effective against machines not magically bound to him (like the ship itself) as it was against the Singularity or the generators. But the Quicksilver would be easy prey for the Dawn Spear or any other ships responding to the call. He had to summon more defenses... But without the generators, he was much reduced in power.
Within a minute, as Kensington tried to fathom a response to the situation, the storm had reached as far as the Colossus. It exploded in his mind's eye in a fountain of pyrotechnics that would have brought a squeal of delight to a child at the Midsummer Festival. But he was no child, and this was no holiday. He thought in a rare moment of fear, may the Lord be merciful on our souls, what is to become of us?
To be continued...
And, as promised, here is your free card...
|Van de Graaff Projector||4|
1+Tap: Deal 3 damage to target artifact creature.
3+Tap: Deal 1 damage to target creature. Use this ability only if target creature's controller also controls at least two artifacts.
|Copyright © 1997 Tim Bailey|
- Noloder = NO-lo-der
- Neevalan = NEE-va-lan
- Tandalai = TAN-da-lie
- Gythernax = gie-THAER-nax
- Baergus Noladro = BEAR-gus no-LAH-dro
"Nature's Chosen", "Colossus of Sardia", "Venomous Breath", "Wall of Vapor", "Glyph of Delusion", "Wall of Dust", "Wall of Heat", "Clockwork Swarm", "Control Magic", "Shatterstorm", "Naked Singularity", "Implements of Sacrifice", "Power Sink" and "Flash Counter" 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 3" 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.