Bad Blood Runs Black - chapter 47 part 3 of 4 by John "Basileus Ioannis"
Vatishehir had indeed found the clear shaft of air above the city, and rammed the top of Quzayshehir. The bridge was instantly destroyed, the tower and all the tall buildings of the central district of the Skibbyen smashed nearly down to ground level. Inertia caused both vessels to lose altitude, drifting downwards towards the city below.
Mundhelm clapped his hand on his helmet bubble. “Skibsfoorer, lift away and bring the Skibbyen about! We must push the Quzayshehir over the sea before it crashes into Doushehir!”
“Serrasqer Bashal, we do not have the mass...”
“Do it, now!”
Vatishehir slowly pulled away from the falling Quzayshehir, as sporadic magic spells rose up from the latter, ineffectively splashing against the former’s rocky lower hull. The brick-shaped vessel backed up, then descended to line up against the edge of the intact pie-shaped ship-city. The shadow of the two Skibbyen dimly played on the city below, looking like a huge black keyhole.
One of the console operators ran calculations based on what his screen showed him. He spoke to Mundhelm, “Serrasqer Bashal, it is no good, we will not clear Doushehir before we hit the surface!”
The consul touched his other ear bubble, and remembering how noisy it was in the bowels of the Vindbruger plant, he shouted, “FURSTE MASKINMEESTER, I NEED MORE POWER!”
The reply came accompanied by a loud whistling noise. “YOU HAVE ALL WE CAN GIVE, SERRASQER BASHAL! THEY ARE RESISTING US, AND HAVE AS MANY VINDBRUGERE AS WE DO! WE NEED MORE VINDBRUGERE!”
Mundhelm regretted that Doushehir was one of the two Skibbyen which did not have any Vindbrugers assigned. “RIGHT...KEEP PUSHING!” He released his helmet, and went to the window of the bridge to look out. Quzayshehir filled the front view, its huge circular lake-lenses visible. Occasionally, spells flashed brightly against the anti-magic shielding above ground level on both ship-cities. The front edge of the city walls and towers were crumbling from the strain of pressing up against each other. He slapped a communications bubble again. “Assault teams, go!”
Elven warriors and mages, led by handfuls of Band of the Pine, stormed over the ruined walls with remarkable speed, boarding the enemy Skibbyen. Spells went off, bows twanged, arrows flew, Elves died. But it appeared that the Quzayshehir didn’t have as many troops to repel the boarders, and were pushed back from the lawns and parks and back into the first line of buildings. The battle went house by house, street by street, block by block. Healers darted to and fro, pulling the wounded from the front lines back towards Vatishehir and treatment.
Suddenly, explosions ripped through the front lines as Quzayshehir’s air wing struck. Giant Owls raked the exposed troops, while Rocs circled overhead, dropping their lethal payloads directly onto the buildings Vatishehir’s troops had occupied. Things looked grim, until Vatishehir’s own flyers joined the fray, their Owls tangling with their counterparts as well as harrassing the Rocs. Friendly Rocs flew past the enemy to interdict reinforcements and strike rear areas with fire bombs. It was almost chaos as two evenly matched air wings laid into each other.
The consul slammed a fist down on the railing he clung to. “Damnation...we need more Vindbrugere, we need more air support...”
Fugle’rede stepped up next to him, looking through a binocular spyglass. “There is so much fire and smoke, it is hard to see our positions...”
Mundhelm turned to him and said, “Skibsfoorer, I will take my team and head for their Vindbrugere. I will notify you when they are down, so we can begin extraction of our forces.”
“Yes Serrasqer Bashal...do you think that Viturhimin survived?”
Both men looked at the ruins of the tallest buildings in the center of Quzayshehir. “No,” said the consul flatly, as he turned away from the panorama and headed for the elevator. As he reached for the button to summon the moving closet, he thought, Not content to murder us, you might have helped the Drow destroy Gyneyshehir, and now here at Doushehir...what happened to you? Why would you turn on your own kind as you have? My old friend, why did you force me to kill you?
In Pana’s stateroom, the Hannetzbirgers had recovered from the second collision between the two Skibbyen. An attendant had arrived before the action started, bearing the young ladies’ cleaned dresses. She returned with Gemma’s cleaned suit of armor, which the warpriest donned right away, sensing she might need it soon. Pana was getting antsy, pacing the room in her borrowed dress. Chawinda had curled up on her bed and was pretending to sleep, but she too was anxious over the ongoing battle. Haergrim appeared to be the only one relaxed, as he helped the princess put on her plate armor.
The High Priestess suddenly snatched up her pochette from the dresser. “I’m going over to Sir Mundhelm’s conference room and talk to Seven and the two Eladrin. Anyone wanna come with?”
Gemma smiled, having completed tightening her armor straps. “Sure, sister, that sounds fun!”
Chawinda was on her feet in a blink. “Yeah, maybe they’d know how it’s going out there.”
Haergrim raised an eyebrow. “Light sleeper, much?” he said to the Drow, deadpan.
The bodyguard flashed her trademark grin. “Don’t you know it!”
The party left the stateroom to take the elevator down a floor to the level with the conference room. Pana pushed the button, and waited. She turned to her younger sister, fully decked out in her armor. “You comfortable?” she asked. “You look ready for a fight or something.”
“Oh, I like it,” said Gemma, clapping a hand on her rerebrace. “I was wearing my dress on the airship and I was FREEZING...I was so glad to put this on again!”
“Yeah, that’s right, you mentioned that. I’m starting to feel underdressed, now that we’re in battle. And you’ve got your mace too, I should have my armor and Vicama...”
“You do not need your armor or your sword,” interrupted Haergrim. “We are not going to fight.”
“Too bad,” said Chawinda, her lust for revenge making her forget for the moment why she was on the Skibbyen. Coming to her senses, she noticed what Pana was wearing and murmured, “Oh yeah...it’s better if we don’t, missy...duh...”
“But...” the High Priestess started to say, but a bell went off, indicating the arrival of the elevator. The doors parted with a rumble, and the party realized the car was occupied.
“Oh, Sir Mundhelm!” said Pana, surprised. “We were on our way to your conference room to talk with your Outsiders.”
“Your Highnesses! That is where I was headed,” the consul replied with a smile, “let us share the ride.” He stepped aside and gave a sweeping motion with his hand to invite the party into the moving closet.
Once everyone was inside the confines of the car, the doors slid shut and they could feel it moving. The High Priestess inquired, “How goes the battle, Serrasqer Bashal?”
“Slowly, I am afraid. Despite our efforts, we are falling towards the ground below, therefore I will need to take my Eladrin and stop the Quzayshehir’s Vindbrugere so we can push the vessel out over the sea.”
Gemma asked, “Isn’t Seven going to join you? It looks pretty powerful...”
“No, I am afraid the Inevitable will not accompany us. It only seeks out injustices to set right.”
Haergrim spoke up, “But Serrasqer Mundhelm Bashal, Viturhimin has caused a grave injustice against the High Elven race. Would not his services be useful in bringing him to justice?”
“Justice has already found Viturhimin, Sheh’xahte’ Haergrim Ephendil,” said the consul darkly. “I am afraid he is no more.”
Silence fell over the party until Gemma said quietly, “Oh wow...Viturhimin is...dead?”
Mundhelm nodded once. “We rammed the bridge of Quzayshehir, none could have survived that.”
“A pity,” said Haergrim, “he should have been tried in the Ciulthann’s court, to answer for his crimes.”
The consul turned to face the ranger. His eyes had narrowed, looking like the chilling visage he used to wear when they first met in the forest behind Pana’s old house. “He was a dangerous individual, Sheh’xahte’ Ephendil. Taking him alive might not have been feasible. He was a Serrasqer, after all.” The implication that Mundhelm himself was equally dangerous was not lost on the Hannetzbirgers.
Haergrim swallowed hard as he stared into the consul’s eyes. Having lived in Hannetzbirg for much of my adult life, I had nearly forgotten how coldly decisive the High Porte nobles could be. My father was often that way when dealing with Drow incursions...but I also saw the warmer side of the Elf where I was concerned. I don’t know Mundhelm well enough to know if he had a warm side, other than his hospitality. To be on the Serrasqer’s bad side would not be pleasant indeed.
The party followed their host into the conference room, where the Eladrin were seated at the table, engrossed in an image showing in one of the surviving huge crystal balls. Seven stood invariably in his usual spot, staring at the entrants and nodding as if in greeting.
“Mundy! Come look, it’s pretty rough out there,” said Slikkepind in the Celestial language, motioning with a pink metaled arm for the consul to draw near.
“Yeah bro, there’s birds everywhere, some are dogfighting...bird-fighting...whatever,” said Blaesende, pointing at the drama unfolding within the magic sphere.
Mundhelm hastened to the far end of the table to get a better look. “Are we still falling towards Doushehir? Have you seen any other High Porte forces arrive?”
As the party gathered around the seated Eladrin, the fuchsia Ghaele continued, “Just passing thirteen five. And no, no reinforcements yet.”
The consul did quick math in his head. “Fifteen hundred meters in ten minutes, or a hundred and fifty meters per minute...” He turned to the party and said in Hannetzbirgisch, “We were at fifty thousand feet altitude when we first collided, so we are descending at roughly five hundred feet per minute...we are now at forty five thousand, which means unless we can change the sink rate...”
Haergrim finished the sentence. “We have an hour and a half before all three Skibbyen are destroyed.”
“And the Vindboogers, they can’t stop it?” asked Pana, putting her hands atop the back of the chair Slikkepind was sitting in.
“It’s a push...we have exactly the same number of Vindbrugers as the Quzayshehir, and we lack the mass to knock them out over the sea in time. We must disable their Vindbrugers who resist ours.”
The High Priestess corrected her pronunciation. “The Vindbrugers are deep in the bowels of the ship...how will we do that?”
“The Eladrin and I will board the Quzayshehir. They will have anti-magic shielding to prevent teleporting directly to the Vindbruger plant, so we will jump as close as we can, and make our way on foot.”
Chawinda added, “How will you all get back out before it smacks into the sea? And surely a valuable place like that’s gonna be guarded. If you’re sneaking in, you’re gonna need a good Sneak.”
“Alas, neither the Eladrin nor myself have Rogue skills...unless you know of such a...Sneak?”
“Are you kidding me? Yes, I’m volunteering.” The Drow flashed a bright grin.
“Chawinda!” exclaimed Pana, a look of shock on her face. She whirled to face Mundhelm, “Well, you’ll need a Healer on such a dangerous mission! I’m going with her!”
“You are neither armed nor armored for such an endeavor,” reminded Haergrim.
“I am,” said Gemma, “I will go in your stead, sister.”
“Oh for...” muttered the ranger in exasperation. “Not without me, then.”
“Why does everyone assume I don’t have my armor and Vicama?” spoke Pana, raising her pochette.
“Waitaminnit,” said Chawinda, raising a white eyebrow. “You can’t seriously have them in...that?”
With a sly smirk, the High Priestess took her fashionable little purse, upended it over the table, and tugged on its ends. Remarkably, the dainty looking bag stretched sidelong as Vicama in its ornate scabbard came clattering out onto the wood. The golden corn cob shaped teleportation device and the mini-crystal ball also fell out and bounced off the table. Blaesende’s quick, meaty hand stopped them before they tumbled onto the floor. Pana tugged until the purse was nearly three feet wide, and with a clattering thunder, the golden plate armor and arming doublet came sliding out.
Everyone sat or stood gaping, their eyes wide. Smiling ear to ear now, the High Priestess let go of one corner of her pochette, and it snapped back to its original size. “See? It’s a Type Zero Magic Bag of Holding, I can stuff 125 pounds or fifteen cubic feet of my things in there. I figured it wouldn’t be proper to come aboard your ship fully decked out, so I put ‘em in here! Now, what’s missing...” She opened the flap and peered in, and said, “Oh, yeah, I might need that too.” She reached an arm into the bag up to her shoulder. “Man, it’s way in there...” Gripping one end of the pochette with one hand, she put her head within. The sight of nearly half of the High Priestess literally enveloped by the diminutive bag was startling. With a sigh, she reemerged from the container, pulling out a leather backpack.
“Type Zero, huh?” said Chawinda, mildly impressed. “Sounds like another gift from Mistress Gertrude?”
“Oh no, I paid for this one,” replied Pana with an ear to ear grin. “You know what’s the neatest trick? I can step inside this purse! It gets stuffy in there, but for a few minutes, it’s an awesome hiding spot!”
Several people snickered at that, but Haergrim looked distressed. “Please do not do that, child, you can suffocate in mere minutes. Also, you will not be able to see out, to see what whatever you are hiding from will do to your Bag. If they should damage it while you are still within...”
Pana patted her mentor on his buckskinned arm. “Don’t worry! It’s for emergencies, just in case.”
“Just in case you want to kill yourself, perhaps. Promise me you will not do it again.”
“Alright, no hide-and-go-seek with Pana’s awesome Sack of Sequestering, I promise! Now, can you help me put on my armor?” She picked up her golden breastplate with its eye-catching decorative bumps.
Gemma stepped forward and said, “Let me help you, sister! It’s been a while since we’ve been together in armor...” She picked up the arming doublet from the pile of armor bits to help Pana slip into it.
Slikkepind spun in her chair, a big smile on her rosy face. “I’ll help too, Pani! My, kudos to your smith, I like these design features!” She unabashedly reached out and grabbed the facade with both hands, which caused half of those present to blush uncontrollably, including Chawinda.
As the High Priestess expounded to the Ghaele about the long history of the proud protuberances, Blaesende turned to Mundhelm and said in Celestial, “Bro, it looks like we got ourselves a connnvoyyy!”
The consul’s eyes were closed in mirth. “Yes, indeed...while I have the utmost confidence in you and Slikkepind, having a party of such talents increases our chances of reaching the Vindbrugere in time! Let us set out as soon as we are ready...I will have one of the remaining mages teleport us as close as we can get, then we will have to set out on foot from there.”
the Vatishehir engages Quzayshehir over the eastern city of Doushehir, but there's a problem with Mundhelm's plan. meanwhile, Pana and friends decide to go down to talk with Seven, Slikkepind and Blaesende, and cross paths with Mundhelm. new plans to prevent a big disaster are drawn up, and Pana reveals that she's carrying a Mommy Bag!
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