It was after much searching, having to turn about again, backtrack, and find new passages, that the cavern chamber was found, the one with a hole in the ceiling, and another below, and the crystal veins in the walls that light it up with a pulsating glow. In the center of the chamber, hovering just above the hole in the floor, is a crystal disc, just like the one that whisked Fenter away so long ago.
The Vykarins mill about, cowering just a bit. Some sniff around at some of the other passages radiating out from this chamber, but all of them stay within sight of their (currently) red-eyed "deity", Fenter. Tekki keeps close to Bassai, not bothering to take notes, since his writing utensils have not fared greatly after that watery "ride".
Fenter walks over near the disk in the center of the room and tries to peer up through the hole. "I wonder if the stuffy place is up there? Or perhaps another garden with munchies… "
Bassai hisses quietly as he looks over the chamber, and slithers towards the disk. He is searching for similar smooth patches on the walls, like he saw in the other site, and examining the floating platform.
"The stuffy place?" the archaeologist asks, trying to look down.
This chamber is not quite the same as those in the site. There are none of those flickering orbs on the walls.
"The hot place with all the lava… or is it magma? I could never tell the difference between the two," the raccoon replies, still circling the disk and sniffing at the air.
The Vykarins follow Fenter's lead, and sniff at the air as well.
Bassai skirts the edge of the hole, trying to determine the best way onto the floating disk. He stops suddenly and turns to ask Tekki, "Did you see anything while you were asleep?"
Tekki nods his head in response to Bassai's query. He signs, "I saw something much like the multi-panelled painting that Kame Ikata did for you, master, though the patterns were subtly different. I am sorry that I could make no sense of it. It seemed to fall apart, and then I felt great pain, as if I were burning, just before I awoke."
Fenter says, "We might be able to climb up on one of the Vykarins to get to the disk, but it might take us down instead of up, and I'm not sure if I want to leave the nice chaps here alone… not after their hospitality and everything. Not every bloke has the manners to make you a god, after all."
The Naga nods in response to the Savanite. "My experiences were similar, and as inexplicable. Fenter seems to have had more success." He turns to the Rath'ani, "Yes, quite true… for the moment, warn them about touching the crystals. I don't think we'd like to experience a loss of power to the island." He then considers the disk again.
"There has got to be some way to control these things; what do you remember from your ride?" Bassai examines the rope that was used to keep everyone together in the dark.
Fenter barks something to the Vykarins, then replies to Bassai, "It was rather swift… and I was too busy screaming to stop and notice many little details."
The Vykarins all scoot a little further away from the walls and keep clear of the disc (and hole) in the center of the room as well.
"Understandable, understandable." The archaeologist flicks out his tongue. "I don't want to leave the Vykarins here, either… but I'm not entirely sure where we are. This disk might be the only way out. Can you ask one of the Vykarin to give me a boost? I want to see this item at a better vantage point."
"I'll see what I can manage, sir," Fenter says. He walks over to one of the Vykarins and pop-click-growls something, gesturing to the disk.
A Vykarin tromps over to Bassai, and, with a quick movement … scoops up the snake onto his back. From the back of the Vykarin once Bassai has had time to stabilize himself the disc is fairly easy to reach. It does indeed look pretty much like the one Fenter took a ride on.
Bassai balances, careful not to touch the disk just yet. He examines the railing for smooth sections, or unusually bumpy sections, and inspects the floor of it in a similar manner. "Steady… " he comments to his lift.
Nothing conspicuous of the sort presents itself. As for the Vykarin, at least he's still standing, but he's not the most steady of platforms.
Fenter circles the room while Bassai examines the disk, searching for whatever might be found or smelled.
"Okay Fenter, tell him to let me down. I think our best course of action is to examine these passages for a short distance, and see if they angle up or downwards, and if they remain lit by crystals." The Naga crouches, putting his hands on the Vykarin as he waits for it to lower him.
The raccoon's nose twitches, "Sir… are we over the ocean?"
Fenter barks something to the Vykarin carrying Bassai and resumes poking about.
Bassai flicks out his tongue, tasting the air. "I have no idea. I am not even sure which direction the island is travelling in. It is entirely possible… "
The Vykarin bows … dumping Bassai to the floor. He happily wags his thick tail … which impacts against the side of the disc. There is a ringing sound in the room, as if someone had struck one of those ever-so-rare metal tuning forks that some especially wealthy musicians have.
The Ringneck recovers from the drop, and looks at the room, the disk and then the Vykarins, checking for any strange reactions to this.
Fenter taps his foot, "Sir, if I may make a suggestion… we could tie a rope around someone and put them on the platform. If it shoots them downards we can haul them back up, and if it shoots them up… er… they can jump off before they fly into the sun or something."
The Vykarins look around, sniffing at the air, but nothing further seems to happen. The sound fades, and the responsible Vykarin clops away without additional incident.
"Yes, that's a good idea, and I think you are right. This is probably the fastest way out of here. I will go." The Naga takes the rope and ties it around himself. "Tekki, how much do we have of this?"
Tekki examines the rope, and then signs back the equivalent of "About twenty meters, sir."
Fenter says, "Very brave of you, Mister Bassai."
"I would rather the risks of this expedition be my responsibility, Fenter. Have one of them give me a boost again, and I will see where this takes me." Bassai fingers the rope around his waist, "Have a few of the Vykarin hold onto the end. I expect I will be back soon; if not, you'll have to make sure everyone gets out safely some other way. Tekki will help you."
Tekki looks around for something to secure the rope around. He settles upon a lump of rock near one of the branching passages. The Vykarin seem to get the idea on their own, perhaps amazingly enough, and grab onto the rope. Some sit on it.
As soon as Bassai gets onto the disc … the crystals brighten … and the disc shoots upward!
Below, the rope quickly plays out, then goes taut. There are several alarmed barks and yelps as … the rope breaks free from the rocky growth, flying free … dragging along with it several Vykarins, one cheetah and one raccoon!
"Momieeeeeeeeeeee!" Fenter squeals as he shoots up the shaft.
Bassai flicks all his coils onto the disk, and holds on tightly. He resists the impulse to hiss in fear and instead tries to adjust his grip, and see if there is any change in the rate of ascent. Trying to adjust his grip being the most difficult task, as he seems to be holding rather tight as the air rushes by.
The disc comes to a stop at what must be the top of the shaft. For a moment, Bassai can see the stars and Procession above … and some fire lights around him. But he hasn't long to pause to watch before the momentum carries several Vykarins (and two others and a lot of rope) upward, colliding with the disc, and knocking it out of the way. The entire group lands in a heap in the scorched grass to one side of the hole. The disc spins in the air for a bit … then glides back to hover just above the hole again.
Several Vykarins make whining, yelping and click-popping noises. The latter translate to variations on "Ouch."
The Naga hisses as he hits the ground, then rises. "I… my hypothesis was correct; that was the fastest way out. Is everyone with us?" He slithers to check the group.
Tekki waves a hand weakly, from his position on top of Fenter.
"Mbgbl," Fenter answers, from under Tekki.
Bassai reaches over, offering Tekki a hand to lift him off the Rath'ani. He checks the heap of Vykarin as well, then looks around to see what state the meadow and the rest of the valley is in.
To one side, reptilian laughter can be heard. "Ssso, Bassssai, look what hasss come of your exssspedition!" The voice comes from a blue-scaled Naga with a light-colored mohawk of hair a rarity for any Naga.
There are others around as well some Rhians. Plus, several multi-colored shells can be seen half-buried in the earth here and there, though mostly outside of the scorched region.
The raccoon staggers to his feet and sputters yellow fur from his mouth.
Another serpent stands beside Nena, as does a bespectacled cheetah … the cook, and Ibis, respectively. Ibis' head hangs low, and his hands are behind his back. The cook is adorned in different robes deep brown robes and has a fair deal of jewelry not appropriate for someone of his station.
Fenter makes a few soft pop-clicking noises to one of the closest Vykarins.
A Vykarin next to Fenter sniffs at the air, then click-pops something back to Fenter.
"YOU!" the Ringneck hisses, turning on his rival. "I should have known you would make an unprofessional appearance." He gaze travels over the rest of the group, the Rhians, Ibis, and the cook. His eyes widen.
Nena smiles. "Sssorry, Basssai, but sssometimesss you have to ussse more creative methodsss to sssucceed. Once again, what wasss yoursss isss now mine."
The raccoon gulps at Bassai's reaction and whispers a bit more to the Vykarin.
The night is again silent for a moment, broken only by the steady trickle of one of the streams running by.
"Creative methods? More likely such ineptitude in your own career that you musst appropriate the work of others." The Ringneck scans the Rhians accompanying Nena, looking for ones he recognizes, and any that might be new.
A few of the Rhians look familiar, being members of the crew of the airship that was left behind, but which did not come along with the part of the trek that went across the ground, to the site. As for the rest, it is hard to tell.
Fenter clambers up on the shell of one of the Vykarins; a god always feels safer when sitting on one of his followers, afterall.
The Ringneck archaeologist continues to stare at the blue-haired one. He also counts Rhians, and Vykarin.
"Oh, now, now, dearessst. Don't be sssuch a sssore lossser. The meansss are nothing. Only the endsss matter. Sssuch asss, for inssstance, YOURSss," Nena adds with a mock frown. "Alasss, when we arrived by chance, obssserving thisss new sssky isssland, you, in a fit of madnesssss, attempted to dessstroy the sssite, ssso your dissscoveriesss could not be ssstolen. Sssuch a pity that you died in the blazzze you created."
Fenter says, "You know, there's this bat I know in Rephidim… You should meet him. You sound a bit alike, except his lisp is different."
Nena bares her fangs at Fenter. "Sssilencsse, fool! … Asss for YOU … You died unfortunately on the Winding Way, asss it wasss attacked by the treacherousss Eeee. Unfortunate that none in your crew could fly and thusss sssurvive the catassstrophe, and that none had time to ussse the parasssailsss."
Nena smiles, almost purring, "Excssept for darling Ibisss here. He ssshall be mossst ussseful in ssseeing that the truth comesss to light."
Ibis keeps his gaze down, boring holes into the ground.
"I am appalled by your suggestions, and disgusted by your behaviour. You are a disgrace to the Empire. Your successes are stained by the blood of your crew, and your sites are wrecks once you are done with them, so no one can question your interpretation. You do not seek the Glory of Empire, just your own, and you will not threaten us," Bassai hisses, slithering closer.
Fenter shrinks down on the back of his mount. He glances at the hovering disk for a moment.
Nena jerks back, perhaps stung by Bassai's accusations, or just by his boldness. She recovers a bit, hissing, "Oh, no, we do not threaten you. We are quite csssertain of your fate. Asss it hasss been from the ssstart, poor fool. Never did I realizsse that a sssky island would come from thisss, but it proved mossst ussseful. That amulet you keep with you ssserved to allow usss to track your movementsss … asss well asss the artifact we placcced in your gear when one of my assssocsssiates broke into your room in the Three Thievesss' Inn."
Bassai turns to point at Nena, "Anyone would just have to look at the results to see that it could not possibly have come from your shoddy practices. The truth will come to light, regardless if we survive, and will result in your downfall." His other hand, shielded by his body to only Fenter's view, "Vykarin will help us?"
The raccoon answers Bassai by coughing once and then barking to the Vykarins nearby.
Nena frowns. "Never! My alliesss have ssseen to everything. Even now, my sssecond ssship comesss to deliver usss from thisss island. We will have witnessssesss asss we come to sssee your downfall!" As she speaks, some more lights can be seen above lights of an airship. The lights are placed differently, though, from the design of a Naga craft of the sort which ferried Bassai and his group northward.
The Vykarins begin growling. Several make pop-clicking noises.
The Rhians shuffle back, readjusting their grips on their polearms and crossbows. Against eight, they have the advantage of numbers … but if all those "colored domes" wake up…
The cook at last speaks up, having completely lost his hiss, and talking in a strangely resonant voice. "No, Nena. As always, your plans have so many holes in them, and they will not be patched this time. The mind mages do not work for hire to the likes of you. There is no second ship. Your funds were diverted. You have burned down the only ship prepared for you."
Fenter looks from the 'cook' to Nena to Bassai and back again.
Nena's eyes go wide, and she lets out a long hiss that turns into a shriek! The airship continues to lower. As it draws closer, the emblem on its sail can be seen more clearly. It is the "all-seeing eye" of the Sabaoth the Sabaoth of Babel.
"I think you now see the dangers of poor preparation… Nena," Bassai hisses, watching the descending airship. "I see your Eeees have shown up as scheduled, however."
The raccoon's voice echoes along with Nena's in a loud HOOOOOWWWWL!!!
The cook says, "Do not be disappointed, Bassai. The Nagai Empire could never hold this island. Rephidim would claim it from them. It is just as well that " He breaks off at Fenter's howl. Several of the colored domes begin to move and rise. There are no longer only eight Vykarin standing in the valley.
The Vykarins close around Fenter, forming a protective, chitinous shield of sorts, growling angrily at the Rhians and their serpentine leader.
Fenter whispers down to Bassai. "What about Ibis, sir? And should I tell my friends to attack?"
Nena has taken to shouting commands to the Rhians, but they seem to be more concerned with tracking the movements of the many Vykarins who have stirred from their sleep … and are not the neutral vagrants that Nena must have presumed them to be.
Bassai watches the encirclement of the Rath'ani, then turns back to the mind mage. "Our situation changes, and is soon to change again. I would like that slave with you, and your cooperation. Otherwise we may all find ourselves slaves of that enemy above."
Meanwhile, the ship continues to lower … and several bat-winged warriors take flight from its deck, filling the air with their high-pitched calls, circling down toward the valley.
The mind mage turns back to gaze at Bassai. "I have played my part here, serving the greater cause. Our fates are all sealed. Rest assured that this will all be to the greater glory of our kind. The Eeee will take this island, so that it will not fall into the hands of Rephidim without great cost. The two empires will fight over this island, and, no matter who prevails, the Nagai will benefit from the weakening of their two greatest rivals."
"You will not be a slave. The Eeee will take none of us prisoner," the mind mage says in a tone of voice that sounds as if it is meant to be comforting.
Bassai shakes his head, and removes the amulet from his neck. He slithers forward, holding it out. "This is yours, I believe, and this is mine." He takes hold of Ibis' arm.
Nena slashes out, trying to grab at Ibis, but Ibis stumbles over with Bassai. It is evident now that his hands are shackled behind his back, though at least his feet have been left free.
The Ringneck jerks the Savanite out of Nena's reach, moving him to his rear and closer to Fenter. "So what fate have you sealed for us, and can you trust your allies?" he asks the mind mage.
Fenter keeps quiet atop his perch, he looks nervously up at the airship and back down at the assembled group.
The raccoon barks something to one of the Vykarins and points to Ibis's shackles.
The mind mage smiles. "I can trust them to slay all of us and claim the sky island for their Sabaoth. I can trust them to follow their own interests. They will rain death down upon us, and will easily dodge the bolts that the Rhians are about to vainly fire back at them."
A Vykarin CHOMPS at Ibis' hands. There is a crunching sound, and Ibis' tail puffs out, as his eyes go wide in fright … but as he pulls his hands in front of his face and wiggles (all of) his fingers, and the bits of chitin shackle fall away, it is evident that he has suffered no harm. The Vykarin spits out broken chitinous chunks, then wags his tail happily … knocking over Nena, who falls to the ground with another shriek.
Immediately, the Rhians panic, whinnying loudly, and bolting in all directions, even as the darts dropped by the bats begin to fall.
"I intend to return from this expedition," Bassai hisses at the mind mage. "Fenter, tell the Vykarin to scatter and not bother the Eeees. Hopefully they will underestimate them as much as Nena has. Ibis, Tekki, Fenter, join me on the disk." He slithers towards it, not boarding just yet.
"You're bloody insane!" Fenter yells to the mind mage. He tries to hop off of his mount and take cover, barking loudly as he does so.
Darts hit the ground. One of the Rhians falls to the ground. A couple of others pause to fire back with their crossbows, but are dropped as well.
The Vykarins seem to be greatly confused now, and gallop toward the edges of the bowl. A couple of Vykarins gallop instead for the water … and quickly disappear from sight.
The mind mage just stands on his coils, holding his arms outward, gazing upward, as if openly inviting the darts to impale him.
"Fenter! Tell them we wish to negotiate!" Bassai looks skywards, hopeful, but not very much. He waits at the disk, ready to slither on. "You two can decide whose hands you wish to place your lives in," he adds, to the other two Naga.
Nena lets out a shriek, and dives for the Mind Mage, grabbing him by the throat, and trying to throttle him. She screams in Imperial, "TRAITOR!"
"TRUCE!" Bassai shouts at the flying warriors, then remembers, and switches to their language. "TRUCE, We wish to negotiate!"
Fenter squints his eyes, noticing something. "Mister Bassai, the darts don't seem to be hurting the Vykarins at all. Although they can't do much in the way of attack unless the Eeees land."
Several of the bats pause briefly in their barrage, and laugh in their high- pitched voices. "There is no negotiation! Pray to your gods, Imperial!" one of the bats shouts back.
Fenter HOWWWWWLS again, pointing to the sky and ducking under one of the Vykarins.
"Thats good Fenter, at least they won't suffer." Bassai hisses back as loudly as he can in the Eeee squeak, "What victory will you find in our useless slaughter? Cease firing!"
The Eeee squeaks back, "Plenty victory, and no prisoners trying to escape! Keep standing still, so this can be quick!" He begins to glide over Bassai's position.
"Everyone! Onto the disk, or in the water." Bassai tries to evade the incoming Eeee, and board the platform at the same time as the others.
Fenter barks something to his 'shield' and then howls again, pointing to the disk and the spot in the water. He nudges his shield along and heads toward the disk.
There's enough room for Bassai and Ibis to get on … and then just barely with Fenter and his "shield" … but as the other Vykarins pile on, hanging off the sides … It suddenly begins to drop!
"Tekki! The water!" Bassai hisses as the platform descends.
The disc plummets … and comes to a halt back in the cavern chamber. Above can be heard the sounds of Eeee squeaks. "In after them! Let none escape!" one commands.
Several Vykarin fall off, landing on the cavern floor. Fortunately, none fall through the hole in the center of the floor.
"Everyone off!" Bassai orders, slithering into a rough fall off the platform. He waits for the disc to empty, watching the hole in the ceiling.
"I wonder if we can send the platform back up again," Fenter says as he hops off. "It would probably be very uncomfortable for the Eeee if it smacks them."
The disc is soon emptied, and the sounds of Eeee squeaks can be heard coming down the hole. Against their better judgement, perhaps, down they come, though they are not visible yet.
Fenter says, "It would probably also strand us here hopelessly… but it's better than dying, I suppose."
"That's my plan," the Ringneck Naga hisses, reaching up and placing his hand on the platform's floor.
The disc begins to hum under the pressure exerted by the Naga … and then shoots upward, throwing the snake backward!
There are several shrieks and squeaks audible from above … then a very unpleasant-sounding rapid staccato.
Bassai rolls on the floor, tossed back by the platform. He looks at the hole in the ceiling, "You do not follow a Naga into the ground."
Fenter tries to help Bassai up. "What now, sir?"
Ibis struggles to his feet. The Vykarins struggle to their hooves, and look to Fenter. Some look about the room in unrestrained awe, having not been amongst the group that came down here (by less dry means) earlier.
The Ringneck Naga rises. "Thank you, Fenter. Now… we go back to that chamber where the streams empty into. There will be some confused Vykarin there… and hopefully Tekki."
Fenter drops to his hands and knees and starts crawling towards one of the tunnels. "I can smell my way back, sir. I come from a long line of nosey people."
The Vykarins follow behind Fenter, wagging their tails, occasionally striking the walls (but not causing any disasters in the process). They click-pop happily amongst themselves.
"Great Serpent, let him have slid to safety," Bassai hisses quietly as he turns to follow the Rath'ani, his voice rising to say, "Good. Lead on. Ibis… hold onto me."
"I'll have to let out my room in the college when we get back," Fenter murmurs to himself as he snuffles along. "And get an allowance increase to feed these blokes. Grampy probably won't like that."
Ibis obeys, holding onto Bassai. The Vykarins mostly follow Fenter by trial and error, occasionally colliding with walls as the way goes darker, then just pressing on the only ways open to them … until informed that they've turned the wrong way, that is. Eventually, the cavern becomes more damp, and the sound of rushing water can be heard … as well as several whimpers, whines, barks, growls, squeaks, and violent noises.
The tunnel opens up into the "pool" chamber, where Bassai and Fenter can see (thanks to Fenter's very-faintly-glowing eyes) the scene before them: There are various Vykarins, some of them curled up into their shells in fright, but some of them growling and pinning down a number of quite helpless (or worse) bats who must have tried to pull the Vykarins out of the "streams". Lying halfway in the pool is a soggy, unconscious cheetah.
"Success, Fenter! Tell them you're here and that they can calm down." Bassai rushes forward into the room, pushing past the Vykarin ahead of him and slithering to the cheetah. "Tekki!"
Fenter growl-pop-clicks to the Vykarins in the room. and strides forward. He looks nervously at Tekki and says something in a much softer tone.
Tekki looks as if he's been banged up and scratched up considerably, but he's still breathing. Upon closer inspection, though in many ways he looks worse than when Bassai found him after being attacked in the Three Thieves' Inn, he appears to actually be merely stunned from his "ride" for the time being.
A Vykarin looks at another, then back to Fenter, click-popping something in return.
The Ringneck Naga lifts the Savanite out of the water and takes him onto the shore. "Tekki… Good, oh thank the Serpent." He lays the cheetah down carefully.
The Vykarins all huddle around Fenter, seeking out his voice. One accidentally steps on Fenter's tail.
"What are they saying, Fenter? Bring your eyes closer; I need more light. Ibis, do you know anything about medicine?" Bassai asks, his last patient haunting him.
Fenter YELPS! "OW! Get off! Ooooch."
Ibis fumbles around in the dark, finding his way over to Tekki. He press-signs into Bassai's arm, bypassing proper grammar, "Cannot see. Will try bandages." He tears off some strips from his already tattered tunic, and fumbles around again, trying to find the wounds to tend to.
The raccoon tries to tug his tail free. "I *urgh* asked them if they *oof* had a healer."
One of the bats angrily squeaks, "You will all DIE for defying the will of the Saba-OOF!" He goes quiet as a Vykarin tail whacks him.
"He's hurt here Ibis, and here." The Ringneck tries to show the Savanite the wounds. "Wait, do we have anything to make a fire with? Anything the Vykarins brought that might be dry?"
"They don't seem to carry much, Mister Bassai," Fenter says, hugging his tail to his chest. He rubs his chin and barks something.
The Vykarins bark-pop-click back, filling the chamber with their echoes.
Bassai looks around the cavern properly now, for signs of a Naga specifically a blue-scaled one. Next he counts Eeees, hiss-squeaking at them, "You are our prisoners now. I will show you more mercy than you have shown uss, and not slay you. At the first sign of trouble, your wings will be slashed." He turns his attention back to Tekki.
There are no signs of any serpent in this chamber aside from Bassai himself. The Eeee give Bassai no reply.
Fenter says, "Oh piffle." He looks around the room at one of the Eeees that might be carrying some supplies that didn't get too soaked. Then, he just shrugs, "Mister Bassai, perhaps we should move back into the main chamber?"
The Eeee don't seem to be well equipped for a long stay. They have only some very light armoring of vital areas, and have no doubt been parted from their weapons on the watery ride into this chamber.
The archaeologist nods, a futile gesture in the near darkness. "Yes, I suppose that is best. Have two Vykarins watch each Eeee. Ibis… " Bassai looks down to see how the bandaging is coming.
Ibis, despite his best efforts, is just not doing all that well in what is, to him, pitch black darkness.
Tekki, however, has begun to stir, and blinks blindly, trying to move, and then hissing at the pain this prompts.
Fenter starts pop-click-barking to the group and moves towards the tunnel he came from. "All ready to go, sir."
The journey back to the chamber is much quicker than the first one, not taking NEARLY so many wrong turns. Eventually, the entire group is back in the chamber. The disc is back in its usual place … and scattered about are the broken forms of several ill-fated Eeee, some of whom are still tangled in the railing of the disc.
"Eyew," Fenter comments at the disk.
Bassai recoils at the sight, and looks away, concentrating on moving Tekki into the better light. "Make sure the prisoners don't escape Fenter. Ibis, please help him."
Ibis nods, and, now that he can see much better (with the aid of light), he pulls Tekki to one side, and begins to bandage him more properly.
Fenter nods to Bassai, "Yessir." He starts barking to his 'worshippers' again.
From somewhere high up in the shaft, an Eeee voice can barely be heard squeaking, in his native tongue, "Come out at once! We are prepared to accept your immediate surrender, if you come peacefully!"
The Vykarins, meanwhile, start dragging the bats to one end of the room, and simply piling them upon each other, despite high-pitched protests.
"Why have you changed your minds?" Bassai hiss-squeaks loudly up the shaft, "What is different now than before?"
Fenter says, "They could be trying to lure us out, sir. I don't see what's to stop them from doing us all in once we're out in the open."
There is a pause, and then the voice squeaks, "You have fought valiantly! Now surrender, and you will be allowed to live with only a minimum of torture and interrogation!"
Bassai replies quietly to Fenter, "That is my suspicion also, I merely wish to delay them while we get organized." He slithers closer to the shaft, squeaking up it, "I am afraid of torture. I am just a scholar; I do not think warrior honour applies to me. Can you give me more reassurances?"
There is another long pause, and then the bat squeaks back, "No!"
"How about your other prisoners? One of them can vouch for their good treatment at your hands," Bassai squeaks, looking over the wounded Eeees on the platform. He asks Ibis quietly, "How is it coming with Tekki? You may be needed here next."
Ibis looks up. It appears he has Tekki pretty well bandaged up, for what can be done on the spot. Tekki is leaning up against a wall (but not touching any crystal veins). Ibis nods and gets up, walking over by Bassai.
"That cannot be arranged," the bat squeaks back, after another long pause. "Surrender yourselves now. There will be no further negotiation."
Fenter walks up to the edge of the hole and listens upwards, sniffing the air curiously.
"Ten dead, and another five maimed horribly," the Ringneck hisses quietly to himself, as he looks at the warriors. "See who you can save, Ibis. Be careful not to send the platform up again."
Ibis nods, and tends to work, despite the vicious threats he receives from some of the wounded Eeees.
The raccoon Arooooooooooos! up through the hole.
Several howls can be heard as well, shortly followed by a high-pitched shriek. There are many scuffling noises and more squeaks, then silence again.
The Naga looks curiously at the Rath'ani, listening, then squeaking up the hole, "Did you say something? I misssed that."
There is no squeak in response. Instead, some loud bark-pop-clicks can be heard.
Fenter's ears perk.
Bassai flicks out his tongue, watching the raccoon, waiting.
The raccoon grins broadly and barkbarkbarks up through the hole. "Mister Bassai… I think he was bluffing us."
"They overcame the warriors? I have underestimated them as well." The archaeologist flicks out his tongue happily, "Find out more. We can ride the platform up as soon as we have seen to these Eees."
There are more bark-click-pops from above.
"Waiting for the response now si- oh… here it is." The raccoon's ears twitch. "All taken care of sir. I guess we won."
"I am most pleased. First we will bind these wounded, then we will send them up, then the prisoners, and when everything is clear, we can go up ourselves," Bassai hisses, looking to see if there is any rope for a more reliable method of restraining the Eeees.
With much organization and direction on Bassai's part later, the group eventually is back up at the surface again. Somehow, the Eeee patrol ship has been defeated, probably due to an overconfident captain, overeager for a quick resolution to this situation, and underestimating the ability of the "routed" Vykarins to come right back again once the ship had landed.
All said and done, Bassai and Company now have quite a few Eeee prisoners, one functional airship, and a multitude of Vykarins intent upon paying tribute to the Spirit of the Sacred Mountain.
The archaeologist hisses happily, "Amazing, simply amazing. Fenter, they are to be congratulated. You have turned around a losing situation." Bassai slithers about, examining the prisoners, and anyone else who might have survived.
A cluster of Vykarins approach Bassai … bearing pink wiggly creatures in their clumsy paws, thrusting the offerings at his face.
"Grampy will never believe me when I tell him," Fenter says, grinning and patting one of his followers on the head.
The Naga shifts awkwardly on his coils, "Ah… yes. I suppose I they do expect some kind of… reward. How feeding me entertains them, I cannot conceive." He selects one of the smaller, wriggly items.
The Vykarins watch intently.
Bassai takes the wriggle creature and holds it up to his mouth. He opens wide, working his jaw around it, and swallows. The creature becomes a slow moving bulge that works down his neck. The Naga tries to add some sort of exciting wave, to accompany this motion.
The Vykarins make "Ooooo!" noises and happy barks in appreciation.
"Thank you, Audience, Fenter." Bassai bows. "Ibis, Tekki, never sign of this to anyone."
The two cheetahs bow solemnly to Bassai.