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supernal

A dollar for your sword

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Luke dashed seeming to gather more mist and speed moving away leaving Will with a slight nod. He was running a sort of V line from Will trying to get into one of Mone's blind spots, he knew it wouldn't be that easy, alternatively he wanted Mone to shoot his magic at him as eh felt he could handle it better then the others all he needed was to get close. He felt the storm before the first icy ball flew into his mist . The first small blue marble was swallowed whole by his mist in a hissing fit but more followed, the thicker ones only chipped by the mists attacks soon rained down. The few he couldn't catch in time to slice caught him all over his chest and legs, the assault was distracting enough even so Luke never faltered striving to get closer to the mage.  Away from him he could hear the clunk of Wills cross bow and only seconds later the archer wielding two arrows drew on. 

More mist spilled out dueling as both a show of power and a distracting, Luke focused on Mone almost didn't notice another large attack being formed , the flames spewing out from Pierre which almost barely swept Will and melted the hail. Almost. Luke spun around his blue eyes mirroring the flames crowding into him narrowly whilst the mist rose to the flames hissing and fuming curling onto their own as Luke commanded them to him. Spiraling into a solid more form at Luke's call the mist compressed itself into a sheet, a shield like a roman would wield, against the flames funneling them around him.  

Float, deflect, protection

I'll fucking hurt that damn wizard when we are done here.

He thought in spite as the wave of flames passed, he wouldn't let the moment pass. Sword and shield in hand he pressed on directly for Mone closing the distance fast. He could tell there where two people near where me thought the wizard was, one of them surely had to be an ally and with the last he saw of Will it could most likely be him.

The first thing he did was throw the shield in a spinning motion towards Mone, low as if to hit the mans hip but his true intentions were clear."Jump!" He yelled into the smoke only hoping Will would hear him. Ideally he wanted the shield to hit Mone and if the wizard doges hopefully Will could catch or use the shield as a platform for an ariel attack. Luke hopped for the correct results but he didnt know how Will would react.

Secondly Luke slid as he got close to Mones position blade ready for a sweeping low attack.

Third Luke prepared another spell. 

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It was hard to get a read on Mone's emotions. Was he being stoic, or was that just the Stoneskin keeping him from nuanced expression? He didn't appear impressed to see Luke summon a sword out of thin air. However when the swordsman clashed with and bested his shocking grasp, that got the wizard's attention. He'd heard of weaponized abjuration before, but never in the shape of a sword.

When Luke flung more mist at him Mone, confident in his spellwork, trusted the Stoneskin to withstand. He held his breath and closed his eyes and when the mist revealed itself to be neither poison nor paralytic, took a rooted stance to keep himself from being moved.

Pierre called out to them, but in particular to Will, as he unleashed his Cone of Fire.

"You can do it!"

Pierre's aim was true, but the cone expanded as it reached out, and Will was close enough to Mone. He hoped the previous blessing and Will's combat proficiency would carry the man through. Pierre wasn't sure he could be heard over the crackle of the flame but he had tried nonetheless, and hoped that the sudden cheer would get Will out of his own head. Will was one of the more cautious swordsmen Pierre had ever met, which meant he rarely fell for feints, but often provided opportunities. Sometimes you just needed to:

"Get that fucker!"

Mone was partway through constructing his counter, slowed by Luke's mist without his knowledge. He decided to keep his concentration intact and deal with whatever damage the fire managed to ply on him through his Stoneskin. What he wasn't expecting was Will to work in perfect concert with Pierre's attack, so that as he shut his eyes against the flames, Will shunted to one side and then doubled back at another angle. Suddenly a pain shot through his back, as Will palmed a crossbow bolt and shoved it into Mone's flank.

And right after that? Luke's shield hit him in the hip, knocking him off balance. Mone had gotten more than he bargained for when he hired these guys.

He didn't get to target the spell but if he didn't fire it now, then it'd be gone. So he let the Whirlwind go and threw the dice. Hurricane winds sprouted from a space between the three of them and matured at a rapid rate. It picked up every single one of them (Mone as well) and threw them around the room for a full, frightening, and chaotic minute, to collide against the room, each other, and Mone's vials, beakers, and tools.

Edited by supernal

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The ground crunched as a consequence of the force Will exerted onto it. Fire soared past, a tunnel of heat and bright light. A moment later, and he pushed off. 

He shot up and found his footing, sprinting low to the ground and out of Mone's line of sight. In the firelight of Pierre's magic, the bolts in Will's hands glinted brightly as if keen to sink into something tough. He was happy to oblige.

Out of the corner of his eye, Will saw Luke through something in the wizard's direction. He wanted to turn and look but the flames were fading. Fair enough, but if Mone was dispelling the fire then Will was going to need to act now. 

More speed, then.

As hail turned to rain which turned to steam, Will barreled through the fog and smoke like a missile. He didn't say a word. No time for something witty.  His momentum carried him fast and forward until he rammed into the wizard's back, bolt heads first. One splintered upon impact, but the other found a crack in the wizard's stone skin and so he drove it deep. He drove it home

Mone turned to see him. Will ignored the attention and kept straining, hoping to leave at least some kind of sizable injury.

A lot happened at once. From his perspective, he couldn't figure out what their error had been. 

The wizard's body shook as if from another impact. Will braced himself and caused the bolt to go in deeper as Mone jerked in its direction. Good. Well, ideally it would've been. However, whatever property this stone skin had didn't really give an indication of bleeding. Had he even - I've been here too long, RUN. 

His heart skipped a beat. Will released his hold on the quarrel and tried to leap backwards as he remembered who he was dealing with. Magic was still a concern and no amount of speed or strength could allow him to compete. Indeed, his instinct was spot on, but too late. In a heartbeat it seemed that Mone remembered who he was. The air in the cellar grew cold. It grew angry. Will stumbled back as winds began to coalesce, then attack.

Their speeds grew. He tried to catch his breath but the air was torn from his lungs. Screaming was futile. Sounds didn't travel well in racing wind. When Will began to leave the ground he locked eyes with Mone. The bastard glared back at him as the wind claimed him as well. They would all fly, then. 

His vision went black, although he was very aware that his body was smashing into whatever objects were racing with him. Gods this hurt. 

 

He came to in a pile of devices. Shattered potions, the remnants of a shelf, and a few scattered containers were strewn around him. His vision was bleary, but they looked familiar... Will coughed and tried to move, wincing as the entirety of his body warned him against it. Nothing was broken, but he assumed Pierre's blessing was on its last legs. Bracing himself, he pushed past the pain and looked around. 

Pierre and Luke were alive, likely better off than him due to their distance. It seemed that Mone was tending to himself while he waited. Will cast his gaze back down. The shrinking spell? 

The containers resembled the canister that Mone had used on Luke and Will. Would the wizard have made backups? He'd told them that he'd tested the aerosol before - only now did Will realize he'd been hinting at the presence of past adventurers. Idiot. Still, Mone never used this on himself. And magic shrinks with size, like it did with Pierre. 

It was a gamble. It was reckless and wild. It was possible that Mone had a spell to bring himself back. Could they kill him before that? Perhaps a deal? 

Will groaned and bent down. None of the canisters had opened on impact. They had to be twisted. He picked up two and put one in his quiver, which was empty as a result of the whirlwind. 

"Mone," he called, brandishing the canister. "I swear to the gods, I will shrink you right now. We'll see what kind of weather you can generate when you're under my boot. Let us go."

The wizard sneered, wedge-shaped face scrunching to show his contempt. Was this a trick? A mind game? Did that ass think he was bluffing? Will set his jaw and twisted the canister. He lobbed it toward Mone immediately, hoping that he wasn't too slow. Luckily the hissing began midair, and the pink and orange smoke trails emerged once the container landed at the lizard's feet. 

"Luke, if you can break the wall now's the time. I don't know if he un-shrink himself or not." 

Edited by ticklefarte

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Mone took it well, all things considered. Something about Luke's methods didn't sit right with Will, but he understood that it was necessary. As the wizard shrank, his body nearly obscured by the pink-orange smoke, Luke's mist surrounded him. It formed a sort of cage and Will grimaced at the thought of being tiny and trapped. 

Then he remembered that he'd just gone through that. Thanks to this man. 

Something bright flew out of the smoke. He blinked, confused, then disregarded it as his imagination. Luke began to work on the door so Will turned to Pierre. "How are you feeling?" he asked as he walked toward the two. His boots crushed glass and whatever else lay strewn on the floor. He didn't really care. Hopefully the soles could handle the effects of Mone's potions for a bit. "You almost got me with that fire. Thanks a bunch." Will chuckled and wiped the sweat from his brow. It was almost over, and he was so ready to be done. 

An explosion shook the cellar. On instinct he glanced back at Mone to make sure it hadn't been him. He quickly realized that it'd been Luke performing demolitions, but that thought faded when he felt a presence at his back. 

Whirling around, Will let out a vicious curse. 

He was staring at a pretty dark-skinned woman. She was his height, but definitely more slender, and she stared at him with blank eyes that mirrored his own dumbfounded look. He knew her. Knew that lazy grin. Once, he'd seen it as something welcoming. Not anymore.

"Why are you here?" Will asked loudly. His voice shook, betraying his fear, but she didn't even react. Gods this was impossible. She couldn't be here right now. There was no way. Did Mone know her? How? They both work with magic...is it possible?

Her name was Serril. They'd been in love, once.

"Mone did you summon her?" Nothing. No response from the tiny wizard or the evil witch. "Someone ANSWER ME!" His voice raised to a bellow as the familiar feeling of foreboding settled into him. She represented the worst part of his journey from home. An innocent fate reading had turned into something more, corrupting their relationship. Destroying what they'd built. The bitterness was with him still, though he stowed it away when he could.

It always came back, however. Her opinions on his destiny. What gave her the right? He curled his lip and looked at her again. Her eyes had widened, mouth falling open as if unhinged. He frowned and backed up as Serril began to keen like a dog. The sound was unnatural and very unsettling, even more so seeing it come from her. 

Her arms lengthened until they dragged on the ground, limp. She was walking toward him. He didn't understand why. Will cursed again and stumbled away, looking for something to help him fight. He glanced back at her and made the mistake of looking into her eyes. They were wide, now, welling up with tears as if she were pleading with him. She was in pain. She wanted his help. 

And he couldn't do a thing to save her. 

He froze, then, stunned into silence as he was face to face with his worst fear. She'd been the closest thing to his heart for so long. His every being had wanted to protect that, but in the end Will was just a man. The demons she faced were so much more than he could handle. What do people do when faced with their greatest terror? Some can overcome it. Others curl up until it passes. Usually, Will fell under the former category. Right now, he was fighting the urge to join the latter. 

This wasn't real. He could see that now. Push past the sadness. What do you see? 

She was flickering. The person he saw changed forms every now and then, though the sound was still loud in his ears. This was a spell. Mone? You've got to admit it. The lizard has gumption. 

Will looked at Pierre. "I don't know what is going on, but I think Mone is messing with me. Do you have anymore juice left to take care of this? "

He paused, then figured he'd ask to make sure: "You're definitely not seeing my ex, right? No? That's just a me thing. Got it."

 

 

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What Will levied was not a threat but a promise, the propping up of variables in a game of Standoff. Mone called the bluff but it was not a bluff. Will made good on his word and subjected the mad mage to the vagaries of his own machinations and the unhinged wizard, powerful even in the deranged throes of his avarice, had finesse enough yet to unleash one final gambit on the lot of them.

One final nightmare.

# # #

"How are you feeling?"

Pierre bit his lip, held back the instinctive responses; exhausted, disabused, fucking disgusted. Instead all he said was: "Like I'm not done."

Pierre was eyeing the little box that held a furious Mone. He wasn't just biting his lip but chewing on it, chewing on it like his lip was his thoughts or was the little Gordian knot made up of the final shreds of his moral fiber, and if he chewed hard enough long enough it would dissolve, and he'd do like he was thinking and walk right up to Mone and stomp on the box until it broke and he could flatten the wizard under heel into a colorful explosion of blood, bone and bile.

# # #

They each had their demons to confront. What sounds and visions drove Pierre to cower in a corner, hugging his knees to his chest, rocking himself for comfort in a slow shower of tears and sobs, only Pierre was meant to know. When Will turned to ask for help of the man at his side, the induced insanity in his vision cleared just wide and long enough to give him a glimpse of a distantly familiar face. A voice he recognized but that seemed to swim up at him from another life.

"I'll take care of that."

As if the five words were themselves a spell, Mone's phantasmagoria broke apart and left them with their drab reality; the dank basement of a criminal magus, the stink of potions mixing together before sluicing through a drain in the floor to mingle with that underworld that only the few of them even knew existed.

"Leave everything as is. I'm taking you to the station so we can report all this to the cops, then after we get you cleaned up we're going to the Registry to get you all paid and sort out your credits with the Academy."

Donovan had both Mone and the ring in hand – as far as his timing went, his insider knowledge when it came to explaining everything to the police, he explained little until all of the pressing matters were dealt with and they could do a Lessons Learned for their clinic.  

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CANON SUMMARY

Summary

Donovan is a professor of adventure working out of the Gaian Academy and running a learning clinic for intermediate adventurers. The pay is good (5000 USD) and sounds challenging but straightforward. Will and Luke are shrunk, sent into the client's plumbing, and encounter such wonders and perils as spiders, flash floods, betrayal and mushroom kings.

Full Summary

Donovan is a professor of adventure working out of the Gaian Academy and running a learning clinic for intermediate adventurers. The pay is good (5000 USD) and sounds challenging but straightforward – they are to be shrunk and sent down into Mone's plumbing where he has lost a precious enchanted ring and needs intrepid adventurers to find it for him.

Mone is a little sketchy at first but things line up enough to proceed. Will and Luke are sent into the plumbing . . . and Mone blocks the way out, urging them onward. Their first challenge is to swim through the bend of a U-pipe, encountering a magnet which pulls on their metallic equipment and threatens to drown them, and makes them glow with some sort of bioluminescent fungus. Not long after that the adventurers encounter spider webs, a desiccated corpse with a letter that reads MONE LIES and continue their descent.

Will and Luke encounter an array of calcium pools with different colored liquids, which prove to range from fresh water, to acid, to an oozing gelatin that they have to fend off and are able to do so for a while, only to be met with a flash flood which washes them further down the drain and separates them for a while.

Will and Like encounter two living strangers as they continue their trek, one an unfamiliar woman who lost her sense of time and even some of her memory, and a man in familiar apprentice robes which they encounter as he's running towards them and warning them off, chassed by a crowd of mushroom humanoids.

The man, Pierre, reveals the dark truth about Mone, how Mone has created a weapon of mass destruction in the form of an enchanted ring and that the ring is now used as the crown for the mushroom king, that Mone has sent countless to their death to reclaim his life's work but they've all gotten lost or died.

The three of them (Kaori lost on the way) climb a snake's skeleton into an opening in the plumbing which empties into natural rock, there finding the mushroom king surrounded by his citizens. A bold, barely-successful plan sees the ring reclaimed and the Returning Stone broken to deliver them back to Mone's lab.

Now fully aware of Mone's murderous nature, chaos erupts when Will, Luke, and Pierre immediately engage Mone in mortal combat. They exchange blows and spells, beatings and stabbings, and the fight ends with Mone shrunk by his own device, trapped in a box of Luke's making, and with Donovan there to take him into custody and report everything to the authorities.

Consequences and Opportunities

C – Mone the wizard is imprisoned for fraud, false imprisonment, and deliberately placing sentient people in danger.

C - Promotion: Donovan gets promoted from professor to Master of Adventuring at the Gaian Academy.

O – An underground mushroom kingdom is discovered. If you're willing to get shrunk, exploring the mushroom kingdom is an opportunity for both government and private parties interested in examining the culture which came to be in the plumbing of a mage's lab.

O – Other people have been found in the plumbing. Some were apprentices but others weren't. Who are they? Were they tricked into doing Mone's dirty work, put here for punishment, or some other reason?

Loot – Luke: Hand blade (unarmed): Edges of hands become capable of cutting | Spell slice (sword): Use sword to damage magical constructs

Loot – Will: Glizer tattoo spell sleeve. One half of the instruction set available to Donovan, which grants Will the elemental ability of Air. This is a basic skill which needs to be trained and refined over time.

Group Loot: 100 gold each (5000 USD)

Edited by supernal

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