24 Sep. Bassai experiments at the Sifras site.
(Bassai) (Eye of Madness) (Fenter) (Fetiss) (Nordika)

At the Sifras site, deep underneath the frigid expanse of the Wandering Roams, an expedition group keeps working at documenting each little feature of the multi-level stone and crystal complex, though those doing the archiving really have little to no idea of just what any of this means. A few finds have been made … and then left untouched, at the command of the archaeologist in charge of the site. Certain passages leading off to new areas have likewise been left unmapped – Or, that is, progress has been so slow down the corridors, to map each and every detail of the "veins" and other features, that the parties just haven't gotten very far.

Bassai considers the slow progress of the mapping. A more comprehensive, and less detailed map of the entire site might provide answers that the precise recording doesn't seem to be providing.

In the large chamber with the crystal arches on the level just below that which houses "base camp", two Nagas look around.

Accompanying the archaeologist and doctor are a third snake – the cook, who seems to have nothing better to do – and a Savanite (Tekki), two Rhians, and a Vykarin.

Bassai says, "Okay, as you know we will be exploring the north tunnels. However I have asked that everyone stay in the camp for little while, there is something I would like to invesstigate before we leave."

The archaeologist has been examining the walls, specifically the flat areas, and the strange lumps, trying to determine any pattern to the lights flickering across them.

Nothing is revealed by the patterns that the archaeologist can discern, other than what he has determined before.

Standing a little more in the open Fetiss seems to be a little bored. Having nothing to do. His gaze follows the archaeologist.

"Fetiss, will you take up a position opposite me, on that wall." Bassai points, as he slithers to the crystal lumps associated with one of the dark arches.

The Rhians shift restlessly, awaiting their next command. The Vykarin bites at fleas.

With a jerk Fetiss seems to wake up. He hisses, "What, over here?" still sounding a little distant as he slithers to the appointed position.

The archaeologist flicks out his tongue, looking at the crystal protrusion. The next few actions could cause success, disaster, or nothing at all. "Yes, there is fine. Locate the lowest bump and be ready to place your hand on it at my count. Three… two… one… now."

With one eye looking at Bassai a little questioningly Fetiss does as he is told. Being to bored to get nervous right now.

Bassai watches to make sure Fetiss is ready, and presses his hand down.

*SHRACK* Each of the snakes feels a tingly sensation, and the room darkens for an instant, as a warbling tone fills the room, followed by a low rumble somewhere below. The light stabilizes. The "bumps" are now flickering brightly, like the rest.

"It MOVED!" cries out one of the Rhians, pointing toward the center of the room.

The archaeologist gaze flicks over to the crystal arches.

Fetiss looks around, a lot more alert now asking "What wass ch'at?"

The arch between Fetiss and Bassai has come together. It glows, just like the rest.

The rest, that is, save for the one remaining "broken" arch…

"Yesss… " Bassai hisses quietly, looking at the arch with a feeling of satisfaction. He eyes the remaining dark one, and the bumps that correspond to it.

Following Bassai's eyes, the Naga doctor says, "Maybe we sshould wait and ssee firsst?"

The Rhians and Vykarin look around nervously. The Vykarin begins making a number of click-pop-growl noises. The warbling noise is gone, but the constant thrumming that fills the room has changed pitch ever so slightly.

Bassai says, "Strange, I wonder what iss producing that noise."

Laying himself on the floor Fetiss tries to feel if the vibrations come from underneath him.

"Check the smooth panels on the walls and see if there is any discernable change." The ringneck slithers close to a few and gives them a passing glance, most of his attention still focused on the remaining dark arch. "What do you suggest we wait for Surgeon?"

Fetiss flails one hand irritably at Bassai as he tries to listen, and not wants to be disturbed. After a while he gets up again and asks "What did you assch' arch'itech't?"

The cook slithers about, fidgeting, but as it appears the ceiling is not about to collapse or any such thing, he dares to relax again somewhat. "Now that we have done that," he hisses, "Ssshould we take a break for lunch? I have sssome ssspicy sssquibbitsss… "

Bassai flicks out his tongue, "Not just yet, I think, Cook." He pauses, looking at the tunnels out of the room, and the one leading back to the platform. "We are prepared to explore northwards, but it may be of more use to see what lies below us firrst."

With a hiss sounding like 'feshessch' Fetiss sticks out his tongue as he hears that the only thing for lunch is squibbits.

"Yesss, I think we should invesstigate that first. Everyone, back to the elevator." The ringneck slithers towards the tunnel, waving for Tekki to follow close to him. "I also wonder if my suspicions are true… "

Fetiss says, "I ch'inch' furch'er eksamination iss more important ch'an food, for ch'e moment," as he slithers a little closer to Bassai. He seems to be looking for something, his head turns this way and that, looking at the entrances in turns.

The cook slithers along with the others, and hisses, "And what sssussspicccionsss would those be, sssir?"

Fetiss follows Bassai's tail. Still appearing to be looking for something.

"That the crystals on the level above are glowing again. Hopefully the Rhians manning the platform can answer that for us." The archaeologist replies, slithering along the tunnel. he glances at Fetiss, "What are you looking for?"

The cook nods. "That would be niccce. We could conssserve our oil sssuppliesss."

Stopping with a jerk, rising slightly, almost to eye level with Bassai's, Fetiss says "Me, noch'ing. Interessting chingss ch'atss all." Before he sinks back to his usual height again.

Nothing obstructs the way to the platform. The group reaches it. The group is too large for the whole of them to ride on a single trip, so the Rhians and Vykarin wait for the Nagas, who, of course, take precedence here.

Tekki just quietly awaits for his next instruction from his master.

Turning to the cook Fetiss looks like he dreads the answer as he asks "And our oil ssuppliess are?"

"Have you managed to discover how our food supplies have been disappearing?" Bassai asks the cook, as he straps on his safety harness.

The cook blinks back at Bassai, then hisses, "Sssimple. We have been EATING them."

"I see, you gave me the impresssion we were running out sooner than anticipated. Tekki, bring my equipment, Fetiss please join me, when we're ready, the Rhians above can lower us." Bassai takes his position on the platform.

The cook shrugs. "Bad planning, I sssuppossse."

Crawling onto the platform next to Bassai, Fetiss grabs the railing firmly. Looking a little worried.

On the platform, it can be seen that the only light coming from above is by flickering torch-light. The crystals above must not have been restored after all.

"Cook, you should come down on the next trip with one of the Rhians. I don't think it would be safe for all three of you to attempt it at once." The ringneck looks up, "Strange."

The cook frowns, then lowers his head. "Asss you wisssh, sssir."

"The Rhians are rather heavy, you see." The archaeologist shouts up the shaft, "We're ready to be lowered, down to the dark level. Use a safe speed."

The platform lowers jerkily, jolting with each ratchet of the Rhian-built mechanism.

Tekki keeps his hands to himself, careful not to touch anything.

Fetiss rests one hand to the railing, as he seems to relax.

The levels go by. Looking down … it appears that all of them are lit.

Bassai watches the walls slide by as the platform jerks down. Looking below he sees the formerly dark opening, now glowing, "At leasst I was not too far wrong. Still, we are on the way there, so it is worth examining."

The platform continues lowering, just a few more jolts away from the formerly dark level.

"Hopefully the Rhians will not be too literal, and will stop us here." The archaeologist hisses to no one in particular.

Hissing under his breath, Fetiss says, in Imperial, "I certainly hope that it will be more interesting than the rest have been so far," silently to himself.

The platform keeps right on clicking away. The platform is roughly level with the formerly darkened level. *click* It's still lowering.

Tekki looks at both the snakes.

"STOP!" Bassai shouts up the shaft.

*CLICK* The platform jolts again, then stops, a few inches below the floor.

Fetiss makes a hiss sounding remarkably like a sneer as he says "What do you ch'inch' sstupid Rhianss would do?"

Bassai gives a hissing sigh, looking past the platform and down into the darkness of the shaft. "Honesstly? I think they would lower us past the length of the rope if they weren't specified not to."

Tekki shudders quietly.

Eyeing the lit passage Fetiss makes a notion with one hand as well as a slight bow as he says "You firsst Arch'itech't?"

Tekki looks to his master, silently volunteering to go first, just in case…

"Well, disembark, Tekki, and assisst Fetiss if he needs it." Bassai takes out a small piece of paper, and writes instructions for the cook. They detail how he should tell one Rhian to just wait, take one with him, and make sure the platform stops at the right level.

The cheetah nods, and hops out of the platform, onto the floor of the adjacent level.

The Naga doctor crawls over to the end of the platform, folds himself over the edge and crawls up on the floor, rising to his usual height. Pushing away any helping hand from the Savanite.

Bassai slithers from the platform as soon as Fetiss is clear, then removes his harness, and attaches the note to it. He makes sure the other two have as well, then calls for the Rhians to raise the platform.

Tekki stands clear of the doctor, backing away, and folding his hands behind his back.

*CLICK* *RATCHET* The platform begins going up.

Fetiss looks at this passage.

"Just stay close, Tekki," Bassai signs, slipping a little ahead of his servant and taking an initial look around.

The passage looks like most any other … a tunnel with crystal veins running along the walls. In fact, the layout, from what can be seen (and that is not much, from here) seems to match that of most of the other levels explored so far.

"At least it is predictable." Bassai bobs his head, and flicks out his tongue. Examining the walls, and floor for anything he hasn't seen before, he progresses forward. "Let'ssee what lies under the Arc Chamber on thiss level."

It's easy to find the way, since, indeed, the layout IS like the rest of the levels, save for the base camp level, the one below it … and possibly the top level which as yet has been inaccessible.

There is a large chamber, with a few glowing orbs, but mostly just networks of veins. Patterns of light flicker within, and run through the veins.

Just as in the "arch room", a thrumming can be heard here, though not as loud as in that other chamber.

Following the archaeologist, Fetiss starts looking bored again. Idly glancing at the walls around him. He is beginning to feel gloomy, tired and sick from all the squibbits lunches.

Aside from the seemingly random patterns of veins, the chamber is frustratingly devoid of artifacts or anything that lends itself to any discernable meaning.

Considering something, Fetiss approaches Bassai and says "It sseemss lich'e ch'e humming iss ssentered aroud a ch'olumn rissing ch'rough all ch'e ch'amberss." as he forms a column from his left hand palm with the fingers of his righthand.

"Interessting." The archaeologist hisses, "I wonder if we could save some time by just mapping one level and recording discrepancies… In any event. This isn't as interesting as I had hoped. It would appear to be the same as the others. The Rhians and Savanites can spend time exploring this level, we don't need to." Bassai turns and examines Fetiss' example.

Looking around in the room Fetiss again explains his theory. He seems to see what he is looking for, because he returns his attention to the ones he is talking to. Not quite suppressing a contented grin.

"Yes, I see. Very perceptive of you Fetiss." The archaeologist hisses, "I think if we hurry, we can save the cook a trip down here, and return to something more interessting."

Tekki looks around, taking notes of the layout of the room.

Fetiss nods and says "Ssertianly."

Then he turns and heads towards the elevator before anyone else has a chance to.

"You will have to explain your theories to me as we rise, I am most curious." Bassai slithers back to shaft, waving for Tekki to follow.

Tekki looks up from his notes, and sprints after the snakes, stopping at the empty shaft.

Hissing over his shoulder Fetiss assures the archaeologist, "I will."

Above, a snake's voice hisses down, "Sssay, will the Rhiansss be sssending usss a ride up or down?"

"I fear they will need to have it explained to them." Bassai hisses to Fetiss, then proceeds to call up the shaft. Several shouts later, he has succeeded in explaining to the Rhian's what to do. The cook is returned to the previous level, the platform is dropped back down, everyone boards, and is raised. "Good, not as difficult as I thought it would be."

Pointing out, Fetiss says, "I notissed an omniouss ch'reach' in the bassch'et earlier. Perhapss it iss besst if we went up in pairss. You and ch'e ssavanite firsst and me later."

Tekki nods nervously, looking to Bassai. Just then, the platform creaks again, and jolts, as a bind in the cable twists itself out.

The platform rises up to the "arch level", clacking and ratcheting all the way.

A worried look crosses Fetiss's face. Then he leans closer to Bassai and says "Two ch'ingss. Up ch'ere you ch'ould tach'e perssonal ch'ontrol of ch'e rabble. And ssee ch'at noch'ing foolissh iss done. And ssech'ondly. Tech'i followss you, not me. Tach'e him you firsst. I am ssure it ch'an ssupport you boch', but not ch'e ch'ree of uss."

The platform continues rising, slowly leaving the arch level behind.

"Stop," Bassai calls out to the Rhians, "Lower us back a bit, we missed the level."

The platform stops, shaking … then starts lowering.

Tekki signs to Bassai, "Perhaps you should define 'a bit', master?"

With a soft hiss Fetiss says "Ch'iss wass what I tried to point out." as he looks around for somewhere to jump to safety, just in case.

"Next time Fetiss, we'll take your advice." The archeologist waits till the platform is level with the correct floor, and calls out for them to stop again.

The platform creaks and wobbles a bit, but stops.

Crawling quickly from the platform Fetiss says "I would prefer to sstay here ch'iss time."

The cook looks at Bassai, Fetiss and Tekki. "Good. I wasss worried. What did you find, sssirsss?"

"Its very similar to the levels directly below this one. Fetiss does have an interesting theory about a column arrangement." The archeologist replies, "However, I feel more can be learned at this level."

The cook nods. "Not a thing hasss been touched in your absssenccce, sssir."

Bassai flicks out his tongue, listening to the trobbing noise, and wondering about the arrangement of this site, and that last dark arch. "Thats good, though we may need to touch one more thing firsst before we depart."

Taking the cue, Fetiss slithers over to one of the operator orbs of the second arc. Or at least what seems to be thought of as an operator orb.

Bassai progresses over to the other side, and examines the various bumps, looking to see if they form any specific pattern on the wall. "Do you have any suggestions Fetiss, or shall we just pick one at random again?"

Laughing his hissing laugh, Fetiss says, "Well, I have few och'er ssuggesstionss, really," as he looks at the bumps, especially searching for glowing ones.

There are plenty of glowing ones. The ones that don't quite fit that description are those found on each side of the chamber, on opposite sides of the remaining dark arch.

"Tekki, please take notes of what we're doing, so someone can learn from our mistakes. Let us try the second lowest protrustion thiss time." Bassai readies his hand. "Three… two… one… now."

Tries to find out which one Bassai means, he hisses sharply, "Wich' one are you refering to!" as he can't find the one.

Bassai stops his hand before contact.

Fetiss asks again, "Wich' one wass it? Hmm, ch'e ssech'ong one from ch'e bottom, chiss one?" he finally asks Bassai, pointing to the second lowest one.

"Yes, that's the correct one. I'll let you do the count this time Fetiss," Bassai hisses, his hand ready.

Clearing his throat with a cough, Fetiss takes up the count, in Imperial, "Three, two, one, push," as he pushes the appointed protution. At the same time Bassai, counting silently to himself, also pushes hard on his choosen spot.

Another warbling sound fills the room, and the thrumming changes pitch again. The lights darken, then return. The last arch has closed, and is glowing once more. From the direction of the shaft, shouts can be heard.

"What's happening?" Bassai hisses, turning to the shafts, trying to make sense of the yelling.

Looking around, Fetiss pauses before he asks "What are chey sshouting about ?" He has trouble hearing quite clearly.

Tekki dashes out of the chamber.

Bassai slithers to see where his servant went, and what he's found.

Tekki heads back, meeting Bassai in the passage. He signs, "The lights have returned, master."

Fetiss follows Bassai as well, eager to find out what the shouting is all about.

"Anything else, and movement in the shafts?" the archeologist flashes back. "It would seem the lights have returned on level number one, Fetiss."

Tekki shrugs in response, then signs, "I do not know, master."

The cook slithers into the passage as well. "Isss it bad?"

With a nod Fetiss says, "Well, ch'at iss a sttart at leasst." Then he adds, "Perhapss you need to invesstigate it furch'er, in persson."

"We'll find out soon enough, I'm sure. I suspect it isn't," Bassai hisses. Still, he listens carefully for the sound of movement.

Aside from the thrumming, there are no sounds to hear. The horses have stopped shouting.

Looking a little take aback Fetiss continues, "But what if it iss. You do not want ch'osse. Foreigners mess things about up there," using the Imperial word for barbarians when he speaks to Bassai.

The ringneck flicks out his tongue, "It will complicate matters. It was not determined if a presence in the Arc Chamber would cause a response. Yess… "

Fetiss answers "But I ch'an watch' ch'iss plasse for you. And you ch'an get up and ssee what have happened." moving one hand towards the elevator with a slight bow.

The cook nods. "I could asssissst the doctor."

Turning to the cook Fetiss says "You ch'ould try ch'e impossible. To mach'e ssch'uidbitss tasste good." with a certian sarcasm in his voice.

"You seem a little urgent in your suggestions that I go up there, Surgeon. Might I remind you I do not tell you how to practice medicine." Bassai gazes at Fetiss, and then the Chef.

The cook hmphs indignantly.

Freezing suddenly, Fetiss smiles broadly and says "But, dear arch'itech't, I am jusst trying to help you. You are perhapss missing ssomech'ing very important up ch'ere." bowing slightly, rubbing his hands.

"It is Archeologist, you know." Bassai returns the bow, his eyes drawn to Fetiss' hands out of the long habit of watching Savanite sign.

With a suprised look about him Fetiss asks, "Arch'itech't, are you ssure?" His smile vanishes.

Correcting himself, Fetiss says, "Arch'eologisst I mean."

Fetiss' shield expands slightly, and he seems to be quivering a little. Hie eys dart this way and that as he is clearly growin more and more nervous. His hands now sliding on top of each other.

The cook's tongue flits about, as he looks sideways at the doctor.

"Yes, an architect designs buildings, an archeologist investigates the past. This is unneccessary verbal bantering," Bassai finally concludes, continuing to watch Fetiss, and not feeling encouraged by his hooding.

Seeming to consider this for a moment, the smaller Naga nods and says, his voice sounding a little hoarse, "I ssee. Well, we better return to our dutiess ch'en sshall we," starting to turn around.

"Is there some reason for your posturing?" the archeologist asks, sparing a few glances at the cook. "Tekki, get the Rhians."

Hissing over his shoulder Fetiss says, "None at all. It jusst happenss, at timess, you ch'now." trying to get away.

Tekki bows his head, and goes for the horses. He comes back with the Rhians, and has dared presume to bring back the Vykarin as well.

"Good job Tekki." "I see, I'm glad that has been cleared up then." The ringneck continues to watch the cobra.

Standing a little further down the corridor, Fetiss looks into the wall, casting glances at the royal ringneck, hos hands folded behind his back. Looking a little ashamed actually.

The horses stand about. One scuffs his hooves against the floor.

Bassai flicks out his tongue, casting a glance around the hallway. "I would like to see what lies up those north tunnels, as we originally planned to do today. What would you like to do, Fetiss?"

The cook nods. "I would be interesssted to sssee sssuch thingsss!" He catches himself, lowering his head. "Of courssse, that isss not my placcce to ssspeak of sssuch thingsss."

Fetiss seems to have calmed down, his shield lays down again as he says, "Me, well, noch'ing. Noch'ing at all," as he returns his gaze to the wall in front of himself. The same portion of wich he has been observing for quite some time now.

"Fetiss, I value your opinion as an educated Naga, and what assistance you can provide in helping me to understand this site." The ringneck informs the cobra, "Now, if you wish to start exploring those tunnels, I should be able to catch up with you, but I think it would be best if you wait, while I ensure that Ibis is capable of dealing with an active level 1."

Looking up at the older Naga, Fetiss says, "You do?" then pauses for a while. Long enough for Bassai to turn around before he adds, "Well, I have ssomech'ing you might want to tach'e a looch' at, ach'tually."

"Oh?" Bassai flicks out his tongue curiously, "then please do show it to me. Tekki… oh good, you do have your notebook, come along." The archeologist slithers over to the cobra.

Tekki keeps a close pace behind Bassai, though careful enough not to become an obstacle for his coils.

With a slight hiss Fetiss starts, "Well, I am not ssure it worch'ss, really. It did for me priorly. In tch'e firsst ch'amber. Let me sshow you," as he makes his way towards the elevator.

The wooden platform is still waiting for passengers, right where the snakes left it in the shaft.

Crawling onto the platform Fetiss says, "Follow me," to Bassai, waving a hand over his shoulder.

Tekki looks askance to Bassai.

Bassai follows the cobra to the elevator. "I think we'll do this in two trips, this time. Tekki, you should wait."

Some time later, the snakes arrive back on the base camp level, at the Arc Chamber. Tekki, who has been brought along with another trip, waits at the mouth of the room. The cook watches anxiously. The horses and the Vykarin await outside.

The Arc Chamber is back to the way Bassai saw it first. The glassy quasi-crystalline orbs flicker with patterns of light within their depths, and energies course through the "veins" in the walls.

Bassai flicks his tongue out happily, watching the flow across the crystals. "What was it you found, Fetiss?"

Fetiss slithers over to the glassy orb close to the floor of the cave as he says, "Ch'iss worch'ed onsse, but I am not ssure if it worch'ss now," as he removes one glove, crouches down to the floor and carefully caresses the lower orb.

Fenter waddles into the room, still dressed in his Rhian clothes but now sporting a nice rope belt around his waist. "Howdy all, find any food yet?"

There's a sound like someone blowing over a half-filled bottle of water, as Fetiss touches the glassy orb, and lights play around the places where his fingers touch.

There are several shouts from the direction of the shaft, followed by crashing noises and the sounds of splintering wood … and then a very alien sound, coming closer!

Getting up Fetiss turns and looks at the entrace saying, "Pleasse ch'eep the entrasse free," as he tries to look out towards it.

Bassai watches Fetiss' efforts with interest. He answers the Rath'ani in a distracted way, "Just the… MOVE! Into the chamber!" he orders.

The cook cries out, and dives for cover!

Tekki does likewise, throwing himself to the floor!

Fenter blinks and turns around to see where the noise is coming from. He shuffles backwards a couple of steps.

Bassai slithers out of the way onto the floor inside the chamber.

With a smile Fetiss turns around and slides out towards the middle of the room.

A hovering disk with a railing made of twisted … stone? … zips into view … then promptly BUMPS into the raccoon! The raccoon hasn't a chance, as he's flipped by the railing … and lands in the middle of the disk.

The disk doesn't stop. It keeps right on going past the entrance … and disappears into a side corridor!

"AHHHH! It's got MEEEEEEeeeeee… " the Rath'ani's voice trails off as the disk vanishes.

Opening his mouth, Fetiss quickly shuts it again and says, "Well, ch'at iss what I have dischovered."

The cook slowly raises his head, blinking incredulously at the doctor.

"Where… " Bassai hisses, looking at the passage the disk vanished down, "I see. Does it come back?"

With a calculating hiss Fetiss says, "In a while. Firsst I belive we sshall hear a ssch'ream," and he listens closely, starting to slide towards the passage the disc disappeared into.

"Tekki, go see if the Rhians are okay, and what damage occured in the shaft. Be Careful." Bassai slithers up alongside Fetiss, "So, the trip is survivable then?"

Tekki's ears flatten back at this report from Fetiss, and he gives Bassai a worried look. He hops up, nods his head, and rushes out toward the Rhians.

Hissing again Fetiss says, "Well, I am sstill here, am I not?" continuing down the passageway, looking a little worried.

"You are not Fenter," the archeologist hisses, worried, and listening carefully.

In the direction that the raccoon disappeared in … which is OPPOSITE the direction Tekki dashed off in (back to the wooden platform) … there can be heard a loud scream that diminishes in volume … as if it's falling down a hole.

Fetiss stops suddenly, looks over his shoulder and says, "Uh-oh," looking forward again. He then continues, picking up speed.

When the cobra reaches the eastern shaft, there's no sign of any raccoon there.

"About how long does the full trip take, and where does the disk re-emerge from?" Bassai looks at Fetiss, wondering where he is going. He shouts, "TEKKI, Hurry back!"

Tekki sprints back up to Bassai, signing, "Platform destroyed!"

With an embarassed hiss Fetiss said, "I am not ch'uite ssure. I went ch'at way." as he jerks a thumb over his shoulder. "But if ch'e passess are ssimilar, Tech'i jusst needss to press ch'e rigch' orbss to get bach'."

Bassai hisses in frustration, "The Rhians, are they alive?"

Tekki nods in response to Bassai's question, then signs, "Just bruised."

A couple of very annoyed-looking horses clop into view. "Where's the doctor?" one groans.

Somewhere else in the complex, a loud "HAAAAAAAAAAALP!" can be heard briefly.

Rubbing a finger along his lips Fetiss asks, "Do we have any perssonell on ch'e ssech'ond floor?" Then he turns to the Rhians and says, "Ch'e ssurgeon isshere."

The Rhians immediately show the doctor their scrapes and bruises. It looks as if something gave them a good whack … and they have some splinters, too.

"No, we're all clear. I suggest we move someplace where there isn't an immense drop close nearby," Bassai hisses, starting to slither back to the chamber. He puts a hand on Tekki's back, and gently moves him out of the way of the Rhians

Slithering back to the camp, Fetiss tells the wounded Rihans to follow him, unless of course someone is too hurt to be moved.

Some time later, back at camp, the Rhians line up to have their wounds treated.

Bassai returns to the Arc chamber, and waits to see if Fenter, or the platform returns. He observes the fluctuations in the crystals from a safe doorway while he does.

Seeing to the wounds, Fetiss actually seems a little worried, or perhaps even more embarassed. But he takes his time to tend to each and every one, taking care of the worst cases first.

Time passes, Bassai waits for Fetiss or Fenter to return. He takes this time to appreciate the Arc chamber in full operation. Some mistakes it seems, aren't irreversible.

The chamber appears to be back to normal. The "veins" are glowing, and the normal sounds have returned … if ever so SLIGHTLY at just a different pitch, almost imperceptibly so.

The horses have been tended to, and the "wounds" haven't really been so bad as they've let on. Rhians and Vykarins are apparently hardy creatures … but not above whining when there's a doctor around, and when there's hope of work compensation.

"I wonder why the sound is different," Bassai asks to no one in particular, well, surely not just Tekki who is the only one around.

Tekki looks to Bassai, but offers no explanation.

Making sure his patients are all right, Fetiss then finds Bassai. He looks up the archeologist and asks him, "Have you found Fenter yet?"

"Nice, isn't it?" Bassai asks the Savanite, then turns as Fetiss enters. "No, I was just getting ready to touch the orb and see what might happen." He slithers to the globe in the wall.

Making sure he gets out of the disc's suspected path, Fetiss observes Bassai with a faint smile playing at his lips.

"It's best if you are on hand in case he needs assisstance. Now, what did you do exactly?" Bassai examines the surface of the crystal.

The "crystal" has a lumpy, nearly molten surface. Numerous fissures and apparent imperfections can be seen deep within its form, which filter and refract interplays of flashing lights of various colors, though the overall effect is a soft white.

Slithering a little closer Fetiss explains, "I let my bare hand touch' ch'e orb. Ch'at iss all," then he adds, "And I ch'ept mysself out of ch'e way."

"Did you touch it randomly? There may be some significance to the lumps. Not that I can determine any by just looking… " Bassai takes Fetiss' advice, and lets his bare hand touch it, while standing a good distance from the wall, and the other Naga.

Stroking one finger over his lips, Fetiss thinks for a moment as he says, "I jusst plassed my hand ch'ere."

Lights play within the orb, in response to the touch, and the surface glows in points corresponding to where the Naga's fingers touch. That low "hoot" can be heard, as before … and then a rumbling and a sound like stone scraping against stone.

The fissures in the walls emit thin lines of light. It's feeling a little bit warmer in here.

Hissing sharply Fetiss says, "Ch'iss iss wrong," and starts heading towards the exit tunnel, keeping a wary eye out for discs.

The fissures widen, letting in more light and heat. The ceiling seems to be rising.

Bassai tries touching a different part of the orb, watching the fissures, and the ceiling. "Here," He signs to Tekki.

Tekki dashes over to Bassai, looking quite alarmed.

Fetiss continues down the corridor, leaving both Bassai and Tekki behind.

The orb emits all sorts of different tones as Bassai moves his hands around, and more sounds can be heard scraping and rumbling in response in various directions.

The ceiling rises … revealing something … really big … outside this chamber.

"Shield your eyes, Tekki," Bassai instructs, as he covers one, leaving the other open to stare at what is outside. He also removes his hand from the orb.

It's as warm as mid-day in the Savan now, and just as bright. The ceiling has risen upward, and what remains of the chamber is but a balcony overlooking a chamber – if it can be called that – of collosal proportions. It is no mere chamber, really, but appears to be almost an enclosed world, made of stone and crystal, with rivers of red hot magma so far below.

Tekki does as he's instructed, and habitually moves ahead, trying to shield his master from whatever threat there might be, though it's hard to guess from what direction such a threat might come, with so many directions to choose from!

The walls of the room have split roughly in half, the lower halves forming a jagged "fence" around the room, preventing any chance to accidentally spill over the edge. The orb on the wall has remained in place, though the one affixed to the ceiling is most definitely far out of reach now.

The Archeologist just stares at the vista, one hand grabbing onto the back of Tekki's neck for support, or to keep the Savanite out of danger. He looks up, around, down at the sights before him.

In the midst of this great underground place, from the "ceiling" can be seen hanging a great upside-down crystalline mountain. It glows in places, though in others it seems to be gradually darkening … taking on a more solid appearance that looks very much like the underside of Rephidim, for lack of any other point of reference … and about the same scale, too.

It would seem that what Bassai sees before him … lies at the point of his earlier extrapolations.

"Open an eye Tekki, open an eye!" the Naga hisses in awe.

Tekki opens an eye … and his jaw drops at the sight.

About this great chamber can be seen other overhanging structures that surely are just like the one Bassai is watching from. The site he has explored here must be repeated severalfold, each one of these sites radiating out from this central complex.

The archeologist just stares at the sight before him, holding onto the Savanite, "Thiss… that… I've seen those. This is a Sifras site, this is the biggest Sifras site ever found! Tekki… " He just hisses, bobbing his head and flicking out his tongue.

Tekki blinks a few times … and then throws his arms around Bassai and gives him a big hug! His ears wiggle relentlessly!

Bassai holds the Savanite tightly, overcome by the occasion.

Standing further away down the corridor is Fetiss, wondering what curel fate Bassai has faced in the chamber.

The ringneck archeologist stares, trying to drink in the sight of it all, his pupils wide. He hangs onto the Savanite simply to know he isn't dreaming.

Tekki recovers enough to realize what he's doing, and his ears flick nervously. He tries to free his hands enough to sign fevered apologies for his absurd behavior…

"Forget that Tekki, forget that, just observe," Bassai hisses, moving on the chamber floor, looking out in the vast cavern. "I do hope Fenter isn't lost out there in that somehow."

As the snake watches the goings-on out there more closely … it seems that there's more to this than just flashing lights and pretty sights. The magma is being directed about for some purpose, and redirected, actually flowing UP some crystal tubes to the "upside-down mountain". The magma flows outward, defying gravity, once it touches the "mountain", and as it cools and solidifies, it adds to the bulk of this giant form. A crust is slowly forming over the surface, and dark striations are forming within as well.

Tekki nods, and stands a few steps away, folding his hands behind his back. He watches, his nose twitching.

The Naga observes the flow of the magma, "Can it be? Is this how Rephidim was made?" He shakes his head, watching. "Tekki, get Fetiss, get Ibis. They must see this."

Tekki bows his head, then sprints off, toward Fetiss.

It does not take long for Tekki to return, actually pulling Fetiss with him, in his hand. Fetiss seems slightly annoyed at this as he enters the chamber he inhales to tell Bassai about the treatment he has received from his Savanite slave, when he chokes on the air. Just looking around, his mouth wide open, he tries to get some breath. When Tekki tries to release his hand he notices that Fetiss is holding it firmly, still looking around, not letting go of his only grip at reality for the moment.

Ibis jogs into the room as well … and staggers as he beholds the view.

"Look Fetiss, look. This must have taken eonss. We are witnessing the completion of a very long term process," Bassai hisses, trying to make sense of it all, from what he knows, "This last step, it seems to be going at a fairly fast pace."

"Holy wyrm of the planet," is everything Fetiss can manage, after trying to get some air for quite a while.

"It could be soon, within a few days. The odds of us arriving in time to witness this are incalculable… " The archeologist just trails off, staring at the sight before him.

Regaining some more senses, Fetiss asks, "Ch'e ch'ompleteion of what?" Then he also notices what he is holding in his hand, and quickly retracts his own hand, hissing sharply.

Tekki lowers his gaze, folding his hands behind his back, standing to the side. Ibis, meanwhile, furiously makes sketches and takes notes.

"Tekki… " Bassai hisses, not really sure what he needs the Savanite for, but thinking of him anyhow. He slithers closer to the edge of the balcony, to look down at where the passages on the lower levels should be, and if they are there now.

With a sharp hiss Fetiss repeats his question, "Ch'ompleteion af what?"

There are two holes visible below, opening out onto a ledge that seems to run along the sheer walls of this vast chamber, running its circumference, and no doubt leading to similar passages of the other "sites". Other than that, a thick mesh of crystal shafts runs down from this balcony … and also upward from it, all the way down to the magma and up to the "ceiling".

The balcony seems to jut out from the midst of this crystalline column.

"Look at it Fetiss, doesn't it resemble the underside of Rephidim? This could be the creation of a new sky island. The technologies, the discoveries… " Bassai gazes around.

Sliddering closer to the edge Fetiss asks, "Rephidim, the floating isslnd? Ch'iss being an issland ch'onsstruch'tion ssite?" as he looks around.

Tekki signs to Bassai, "The Emperor will have a statue made of you, for certain!"

Running one finger along his lips Fetiss says, "We will have to invite och'er scsch'olarss here ass well. To witness ch'iss," as he looks around, "And to sstudy it."

"Yess, yess, I think it is," the archeologist hisses to Fetiss. He nods proudly at Tekki, "Yes!" Looking back out at the flowing magma, the crystals, the upside down mountain, he says quietly, "I wish the painter was in a condition to try rendering this."

Bassai says, "I don't think there is time, I think this process is nearing the end. We may be witnessing the last days of its construction."

Tekki signs, "What will happen when it is complete, master?"

Nodding, and smiling Fetiss says, "Too bad," to Bassai, "Just too bad."

The cook slithers onto the balcony, his tongue flitting about. "By the Golden Serpent!" His jaw drops.

"I have no idea, Tekki," The ringneck hisses, watching the crystals glow. "It may just rise of its own accord. I think if that is the case, we should be aboard. Who knows what wonders exist on its surface?"

There is a strange tingling sensation in the air … a smell of ozone … or not really a smell at all. Something (and that's a Something with a capital "S") just happened somewhere.

The hair stands up on the back of Tekki's neck, and he looks around, alarmed.

"What did you feel?" Bassai glances about in the chamber and the balcony. He fingers the talisman around his neck.

Tasting the air Fetiss reacts as well, being pulled back from this wonder to the real world. He looks around, alarmed as well.

The cook lets out a loud wail, holding his hands up to his head. He wavers, then collapses to the floor!

A Savanite stumbles into the balcony, looking about with amazed eyes. It's Kame. He looks to Bassai, then signs, "Gone. They've gone away."

"Surgeon! The cook." The archeologist looks at the others present in the room.

Tekki dashes to the cook's side, trying to pick him up.

With a worried look about him, Fetiss crawls back to the center of the room. He looks around, his tongue flicking very quickly now.

"Who have gone? What happened Kame?" Bassai signs, slithering forward.

Kame smiles to Bassai, then signs, "They've gone away! It's mine again! All mine!"

The cook groans.

"The eyes in your mind? Are you thinking clearly again?" the ringneck asks as he approaches the Savanite, looking for the madness he is used to seeing there.

Kame nods to Bassai, then looks past him, and points at the mountain! As he does so, something shoots out of a fissure in the upside-down-mountain … a glowing disc … with a raccoon on it!

"AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" Fenter shouts.

"I'm glad, I regret drugging you," the ringneck appologizes, looking where the artist points. "Fenter! Uh… everyone… be ready to move."

The disc zips downward, halting a good distance above the magma … then zooms horizontally, toward the near wall. It's hard to follow its movements … as it shoots into one of those holes below that Bassai saw earlier.

Fetiss slides away from the center of the room, and covers his ears.

The cook moans, "I need … sssomething! Anything! OH, my aching head!"

"Land on something soft, pleeeeeeeese!" Fenter's voice echoes through the tunnels.

Looking over to the cook, it seems like Fetiss finally realizes what has happened to him. Slithering over to him, he locks his arms under the cook's and starts pulling him back to camp, saying soothingly in Imperial, "I'll take care of you. Do not worry."

Bassai looks curiously at the cook, and the surgeon. "Fetiss, is there something wrong, what has happened with him?"

Fetiss answers, "I do not know. But he do not seem to like it here. I'll take him to the camp and look him over," still in Imperial.

The archeologist nods at the surgeon's words, "Yes, good. We'll be back shortly with the Rath'ani, to find out what he has seen. Hurry on Fetiss."

Pulling the groaning cook out through the corridor, Fetiss disappears from the chamber.

The raccoon's voice echoes in from another corridor, "Don't smash me against the wallLAIEEEEEEE!!! Oh… phew, thanks… AHHH!!!!"

A flash of light can be seen as the pulsating disc shoots past the doorway … then down the corridor and away, in what seems to be the direction of base camp!

"Why… Fenter is going to the camp! Quick, follow," Bassai starts down the hallway after the disappearing disk.

All three Savanites sprint off, in hot pursuit!

As the balcony is abandoned, the ceiling of the "arc chamber" slowly lowers, the "teeth" along its rim lining up perfectly with each other, the bright light diminishing to sharp lines that diminish and then vanish as the stone seals. Light still plays within the fissures of the glassy orbs as before, but, somewhere out there, something very big is happening…


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 5 days before Ring Day, Year 28 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6127)