Akivasha remained silent through the meal, though it was obvious she was paying attention to all that was happening. All.
She had her own questions. But the others had theirs, and she was last to ask. Nor was she talkative, for that matter.
Gomik hacked up a piece of food that he had not properly chewed, and decided he was full for the moment, and it was time for the questions. He looked over at Hassan and said "So, What am I in all this, Mr.Answers." He said as he picked something out of his beard, a result of the fast eating.
"You have to be kidding me. Don't you find it odd that we're all perfect? We're all masters of our fields? Why are you idiots buying this? How do you know he's not just pulling stuff out of the air? You trust him just because he knows our names? You all can't possibly be this stupid. Hell, for all we know, Rob could be being killed as we speak." Theo threw his dish off the side of the table. "I hope one of you has enough reason to see this."
What if she's not alive... I remember a funeral, but I don't remember who it was for. She just sighed. "Well from what I've heard Samuel you're quite the doctor. I'm sure you've plenty of men and women who're grateful for their lives. I just wish I could remember my cousin. Alex... I fear our reunion may be as awkward as the gentleman's with his wife."
Iris didn't flinch when Theo had an outburst, sipping her wine. It didn't really matter if they were pulling their chain or not, either way this man was their only way out of the valley at the moment. "Theo, you're more than welcome to leave if you don't agree with what our host says."
"Holes? Your memory was disrupted by the transport?" She looked around. "Huh. That explains a few things." She got dressed. "Well, it's coming back. Probably only temporary." She came around the bed and kissed him again. "C'mon, the others are probably waiting for us."
* * * * *
"I'll be honest, Gomik, I don't know you very well. You and I didn't talk much. All I know is that you're from the Steel Clan and you have a bit of a...thing for technology. Particularly clockworks and steamworks. You're one of the most ingenious inventors I've met."
Hassan turned to Theodore. "I understand your concerns, Theodore. You never have liked or trusted me. But I'm asking you to trust me. And not make a mess on my rug. I haven't checked to be sure, but I'm pretty sure it's from Dernholm. Also, how's that mole on your ass? Last I heard you were taking medication for it because it started hurting. And no, Rob isn't being killed, I'm reasonably certain he's having the time of his life."
Gomik pondered it for a second, and had a few more questions pop into his head. "Tell me about the Steel Clan, I cannot remember. And by thing, What do you mean? I was particularly good at it or is it something else?" He said, thinking about things he could have built, and trying to remember Steamworks and Clockworks.
"You're smart Hassan, I'll give you that," Theo said as he lowered himself to his feet. He pointed his cane at Hassan and said "But isn't your whole story just too convenient? The only person who finds it strange is actually a deep seated enemy? Come on people, you honestly trust this guy? He has a vampire and some sort of demon upstairs, and you want me to put my life in his hands? Someone give me one good reason why we don't get out of here, and find some other way to get out of this horrid valley."
Rob walked in with Katrina on Theo's question. "Because at the moment, there is no way out of this valley." He sat back down. "Still, that raises another question: what exactly are we going to do next?"
"It isn't the same Iris. If I was a doctor, then it was my job and duty to save their lives. Gratitude is appreciated, but it isn't exactly the same as possibly having family to go back to. As awkward as the reunion may be, at least there is one for you. Something to be happy about right?" Samuel replied, before turning his attention to Theo.
"So far we are trusting a faerie and a gypsy who, may I remind you, you screwed within fifteen minutes of meeting. I think we are allowed to trust this man if you were quick to trust that fortune teller with mroe than just your life." Samuel somewhat joked. Honestly his resistance was a bit funny.
"Well, the Steel Clan is one of the great Dwarven Clans, second only to the Wheel Clan. They have a fortress in Melchran, on the border of the Tattered Lands. Long way to the west, across all Carenstovok and Melchran. They're masters of the forge. You...well, you were a bit of a jack of all trades. More than a little obsessive, too."
"I didn't say we were enemies, I said you didn't like me. Do you really like anyone here, with the possible exception of Samuel? Maybe it does seem convenient, but it is the truth. I'd like to prove it to you. Tell me how, Theodore."
"Samuel," Theo said turning his head to him. "Please, trust me on this, I'm being sincere. This guy," he said shaking the cane, "can't be trusted. At least with Morrigan she didn't sugar coat things, and as for the gypsy, that wasn't a matter of trust, it just needed to be done. All of you, you have to hear me here, how often do I talk like this? We need to get out now, and we'll find another way out of this valley, I know it, but if we stay here, it can't end well."
"I don't agree Theo but your logic is sound. I just say we give them a chance is all. If nothing else we can keep our guard up for a time and be ready in case anything happens. At worst you were right and we get attacked, which if they were evil and we tried to leave they would do anyway. At least this way we can get some information about our past, and hopefully they are who they say they are and we can trust them." Samuel said before taking another bite and a drink before continuing.
"I'm just saying though, for now lets see what they have to say. If we stay here a while and nothing happens then we can stop worrying as much. Again, worst that happens is you are right and the inevitability of your scenario happens."
Gomik continued pondering and stroking his beard. It relaxed him, as he was getting all this information about who he was. "So I specialized in Clockworks, and I was okay in the rest? Do you have anything I might have made for me to look at?" He asked, genuinely wondering if he could take a look at his own work. After he asked, He heard Theo going on about how it was a big plot to get the group into danger. "Theo, If this man can tell me anything about my past, I will trust him. And you should to."
"I'm not even sure she's alive anymore..." Iris murmured. She looked up at Theo, finishing the rest of her cup. "You don't particularly seem to care about us anyway. Also, you should visit the 'vampire and demon'. One is a small girl, definitely less dangerous than a faerie. I don't think the presence of other beings is grounds enough to displace trust."
"Actually, these are one of your devices. I've replicated it, but they're nearly perfect duplicates." He indicated one of the clockwork spiders. "Here, let me show you." He stood and fiddled with a panel on the side of the spider. The spider hummed and stopped moving, then the panel popped free, showing the internal workings. As Gomik looked within, he instinctively could tell how the parts fit together, and even ways to improve the machine or take the parts and turn it into a wholly different device.
Gomik looked into the bot and whistled, it was coming back to him instinctively now, and he was feeling good about it. He sheepishly looked up to the man and cleared his throat, asking "Is there anyway you could let me tinker with this a bit? I think it would help my memory a great deal, I would owe you one." He said with a bit of impatient pleading in his voice, really looking forward to gutting it and messing with the parts.
"Have at it, my friend." Hassan grinned and took his seat, eating heavily.
Katrina smiled at them. She started to speak, then shook her head. "I keep wanting to ask you things, then I remember your memories have been disrupted. Feels so strange." She took Rob's hand and squeezed it, looking through the corner of her eye at him.
"I'm sorry Iris. I forgot we know nothing about our former lives or what could have happened. I guess I was just glad that somebody would actually have a reason to leave here. So far the only people with that are you and Rob. The rest of us could just continue to live our lives in this place and never even know if somebody did actually miss us." Samuel said, the mood at her murmurs dropping a bit as he said what he was sure was at least on one other person's mind at the table. Though he wasn't sure who, but he figured somebody must be.
"Hnn." was her only response. "Hassan, what do we need to do before we can get out of this place? How long before we can return to the city?" Right now they really had no choice to get out, but once they were, then it would be different. She could validate her story. Until then she had to go along. "Excuse me." Iris stood up, having finished her meal. "I really must be going to sleep. I seem to be rather tired: it must be all this new information. Do you have rooms prepared, or shall I go back to the inn?"
Katrina answered. "If we want to leave this valley, we're going to have to finish what we started. We have to find the writings of the Mad Monk, gather together the Rituals, and then we'll have to enter the Cave of the Dark One and perform the ritual of banishment. For that, we'll need a power source to draw upon. There's one I can think of - Erana's Staff. For fifty years it's held back the darkness from consuming Mordavia. Once we have it, we can use it along with the Rituals to invert Avuzahl's passageway and send him back to his own realm."
Hassan nodded. "It's not an easy prospect. The Writings of the Mad Monk should guide us to the rituals, but we can't get into the cult's Cathedral. It's sealed up and guarded by some creature they fused into the stonework. It destroys anything that attempts access. We think we need to use something to placate it, but we're not sure what. Best guess, some sigil or symbol of the Dark One that belonged to the Mad Monk or Sergei Borgov. I don't suppose any of you might have come across that."
Gomik dug into the side of the spider bot, flipping it onto its side and disconnecting cords and putting everything he wanted into a neat pile next to him, grinning at the thoughts that were flowing back to him. He picked up a rod of metal, debating on whether or not he needed it, and smiled, putting it into the pile. He took off the rather small head and set it to the other side of him, fixing to take it apart later. He was catching off words from the others, he knew his probably was not the place to be doing this, but he was having a great time. But when he heard sigil, he spoke up quickly. "I may have something of some value, if its what your looking for, wanna call us even for the bot?" he asked, a grin on his face.
"May I see it, Gomik? You can have the bot, it's the least I can do." Hassan held out a hand to take it.
"Yeah, here Hassan." He tossed the sigil to the man, and when it left his hand it made him feel icy, maybe just because of the Sigil itself, but he felt bad losing something like that. But fair was fair, he went back to removing robot parts.
Hassan caught it and immediately set it down on the table. "Aah. Still connected to Avuzahl. You can feel it draining you if you touch it. Quite unpleasant." He nods. "This is what we're looking for. Take this to the Cathedral and the creature should allow you entry if you show this to it. It should have a reaction when it sees it, shrinking away into the arch, I believe."
Gomik listened long enough to hear that it was the right item, and that he needed to bring it back to the Cathedral, and something would happen. He picked himself up quickly and went and grabbed the sigil, sticking it in his belt where it had been resting before. "I will make sure we get this there." He went back to the bot and jumped right back into its guts, ripping out another few parts and setting them to the side, as they looked important.
"Good. Now, if you're wanting rest, I've had the spiders prepare rooms for you. Through the door to the left, upstairs. There are rooms prepared for each of you."
Hassan stood up. "Now, please excuse me. I need to get to work modifying the Ritual of the Mouth. It's proving more problematic than I had anticipated."
Gomik had stripped all the parts he had found useful, or wanted, when the man told him that there would be rooms for them to rest at, and that spider bots would lead them to the rooms. He smiled as he packed all of the pieces in his nice bag, and through the now much heavier bag over his shoulder. He found the spider bot that would take him and said "Lead on." With a cruel smile. When they made it to the room he closed the door behind him, and took a wrench out. "Sorry little bot, But I think I am going to need more parts." He said as he jumped on it, hitting it with the wrench as he tried to open the compartment.
The storm continued through the night and into the morning, developing from a simple rain into a torrential downpour, complete with heavy winds and lightning. Looking outside, you wouldn't have known it was daytime, it was still nearly black as pitch.
One by one they made their way back into the hall where Hassan was waiting, a roll of parchment in his hands. "I'a Avuzahl gha thagghua dke jekaj zouzzhgaaah! Damnable Monk could you have at least provided translations? Or a pronunciation guide?" Hassan sighed, putting his head in his hand. "Lunatic motherfucker." He looked up. "Ah, there you are. If you need to stock up on weapons before you head out, there's an armory to your right on the way out. It's unlocked." He nodded to Rob. "Afraid Katrina already headed out. She's been laying down wards at the edge of the swamp to slow it's expansion. Has to be done, especially in storms."
Rob was disappointed that he couldn't get to talk with Katrina, but decided to make the most of the current situation, walking with Gomik down to the armory. "So Gomik... we haven't really spoken to one another since the cave. You seem to have quite a knack with machines. I'm impressed. You certainly seem to be making the most out of this situation."
Gomik was still making final adjustments to the glove he had worked all night on, and now he was running on very little sleep. He noticed that one of the people from the group, Rob he thought, was now walking with him down to where the group was headed. "I do what I can I guess." He said, sliding a few things into place as the machine on his hand make a quick buzzing noise, then stopped. He opened a panel on the side and tinkered with a few things, and then the device let off a very silent hum, only if you really listened for it would you be able to hear it. "There, I think that will do for now. What weapon do you plan on using Mr.Lady killer?" Gomik said with some teasing in his voice, noticing the woman he had gone off with last night.
He noticed a couple guns in the back of the room, reaching for a revolver. "I think one of these will suit me quite nicely..." he noticed another sword in the back. The blade was well crafted, and the metal was strong and tempered. It was light in his hand, about as light as his cane. He picked up the scabbard for the blade and experimented with it. "Hmmm... I like this..."
A crack of lightning made Iris' gray eyes snap open. Somehow she knew it was early morning, maybe 5 or 6. It was true that she had taken a "shower" the day before, but she wanted a more proper one, or at least, as proper as one could get in this backwater valley. Since it was still raining outside, Iris changed into her shirt and shorts Not paying a whole gold and then getting this ruined...
She was glad there were some flowers outside the castle, and she could only hope they wouldn't make her itch. She put them on the steps of the castle and proceeded to peel off her clothing, as if it would have really made a difference at this point. The rainwater wasn't so bad, but the wind made it freezing. She used her shirt to clean herself off, after all, it had been used as a bag already. After a short scrub down she rubbed the flowers on her skin, taking the time to rub them across her neck, chest, and down her legs.
When she was done she just put her clothes over her shoulder and went back to her room, making use of the dark castle and lack of lights to get past the group assembled outside of the armory.
Back in her room she sat down in front of the fireplace, both to get warm and to get dry. She took a deep breath, cinching her waist and her breasts with the corset once more. After a quick check to make sure she was in proper order she joined the others downstairs. "A full armory hmm? Interesting."
Samuel walked down to join the others after having gone through his own morning rituals. He joined the others to hear what the were supposed to do and followed them down into the armory. He eyed the three colts but placed himself against a wall so that everybody else could get whatever they wanted first.
"Morning everybody. How are we all today?" He asked from where he leaned casually.
"Morning Samuel, we're almost like kids in a candy store, if all the candy were a bit old and some were mouldy..." She wished she could remember what weapon she was good with. What would a kleptomaniac's weapon of choice be... She shied away from the guns, taking her time to look over the swords, daggers, and bows.