Millenia awoke, refreshed and rested - a rarity on most days, now that the rumors of the Timenoids granting eternal life had spread far and wide. Each successive 'visitor' to the catacombs had been more powerful by leaps and bounds instead of merely by degrees; the last set had included a mage that was able to use her own traps against her! He too had fallen to a well-orchestrated sequence of traps ending with his walking, blinded by an Iron Mask, into her Iron Maiden; she fairly buzzed from the energy she had received from his death.
Ooooh a cliffhanger!
Not for the first time, Millenia mused as she walked to her summoning chamber, was she grateful to her mentor/teacher/mother for teaching her about combining her smaller combinations of traps into larger chains. With the speedier, more powerful warriors and assassins - not to mention rogue Timenoids! - they made the difference between carrying out her function and just merely surviving. And she could not complain about the energy she received from the larger chains, though there was a definite point of diminishing returns - roughly around ten or so sequenced traps. As she passed a frieze of a Timenoid "hunt", Yocal's words came back to her: "While humans are chattel, my child, they are not mice nor are we cats. A little 'playing with one's food' is allowed during a hunt; too much makes the prey bold and the hunter unwary."
Yet, such play had allowed for creation of some of the more 'exotic' traps, such as the Iron Mask. Still, while she did get a thrill from seeing a knight punched across the room or crushed under the heel of the Evil Boot, she had long since deemed such pleasures as ultimately impractical. The "Specials", as she come to think of them, sacrificed in activation time what they gained in power. She needed something both powerful and fast; or at least so powerful that the activation time wasn't a factor.
As she opened the door to the summoning hall, Millenia smiled as her eyes fell upon the book.
Early on in her training, Yocal had instructed Millenia in the history, legends and folklore of the Timenoids - in particular the legend (one could almost say myth) of the elegant Astarte. She had trained a human not only in the Art of the Snare, but also in the more arcane arts of summoning and creating monsters - arts which, as generations of the long-lived species concentrated more on their psychic abilities, became almost as lost. Yocal would spin tales of "fabulous, mystical servants": beings with wings that fluttered about, smoke that formed into the upper half of humans, but with the strength of twenty such; giants made not of flesh, but stone, and undead horrors whose decaying flesh was held together only by long strips of cloth.
Millenia soaked up such stories eagerly, as children do, and drew pictures in her mind of what such creatures could look like, as there were no texts that even spoke of such times in Yocal's library. Even now, she thought of the Evil Fist as the "Iron Golem's Punishment". And then, wandering around the catacombs looking for inspiration, in a dusty corner near an x-cross, she found the tome. She'd picked it up, wondering how she could've missed it before (perhaps some wizard dropped it in his death-throes), idly scanning the pages. When she realized what she had, she shrieked with delight and thought-contacted Yocal.
"Where did you find this - this grimoire?" Yocal asked, half in wonderment, half in fear.
"The catacombs torture room, by the x-cross. What are these markings? Are they spells? Can these creatures actually be summoned--"
"Millenia!" snapped Yocal. "Control yourself! I can appreciate your enthusiasm, but if you cannot conduct yourself properly then we may as well be speaking Common!"
Millenia lowered her head, visibly chastened. "Forgive me, Mistress," she intoned in high Omcetic, the language used by Timenoid nobility. "I momentarily forgot both myself and my place, and humbly beg your forgiveness." She felt her hair being stroked by Yocal's long blue fingers. "You are forgiven, you who are like a daughter to me." Her hand moved under Millenia's chin and lifted it so that their eyes met. "Now," she smiled, "let us examine this find of yours…."
By Lisa Shock on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 10:08 pm:
Ooooh a cliffhanger!