In the tower in the center of Paradys, Roho and Zoltan have been treated as honored guests … especially given Roho's demonstration of fairly accomplished skills in medicine, despite the language barrier. Jezebel has been keeping to herself and largely out of the way … though never hard for Zoltan to locate, when he gets suspicious.
Zoltan sits off to the side, conversing with a group of 'vartans'. Telling them of some of his adventures, and listening to their stories about life on the island.
Roho sniffs through the strange corridors of the tower, searching for Zoltan. Got some news…
The half-Vartans are more than happy to boast about their heritage, especially tales of Captain Shokar and the stories for the most part verify what Zoltan has read about and heard already, here and before he ever set foot on Paradys.
Roho happens upon the group of storytellers, and waits patiently at the edge of the ring for a good stopping point to interrupt Zoltan.
One of the half-Vartans, one who has tiger stripes, squawks … something which means entirely nothing to poor Roho.
The black Vartan puffs his chest up and scrawks something back, obviously bragging. He turns around as he notices Roho. Blushing a bit.
The half-Vartans all look at each other, chattering, and occasionally giving Zoltan envious or admiring looks.
Roho hmms at the banter, and assumes now's as good a time as any. He taps Zoltan's shoulder, "Can I speak to you for a moment?"
Zoltan blinks up to Roho and rises to his hooved feet. "Sure. I just excuse myself. We been talking abouts Shokar!" He turns and squawks something to the others, and then focuses on Roho again.
The half-Vartans nod amiably at Zoltan and Roho, and return to squawking amongst themselves.
Roho starts to ask for more private surroundings, then remembers the rest of the group doesn't speak common. He half-grins at himself, then says, "I think I'm starting to understand this island… "
"Ohhh! You do helmet thing? You alrights? What you learn?" Zoltan bounces excitedly.
Roho nods, "I'm fine, I think being blind helps, though it might affect me eventually if I stayed in it long enough. Anyways, I couldn't get any direct answers on our questions, but by asking around them, I think I learned what the island's for."
Zoltan scrawks, "Hrr… it never answer anything directly." ( Even in dreams… ) he adds mentally.
Roho continues, "It seems the island is a device, created to let Sinai below vent some sort of magical energies. Pharmacalogical, fantasmagorial, some word like that, it loosely translated it for me to mean magic."
Zoltan's ears shoot back at these words. But he says nothing and just listens.
Roho rasps, "The trees, or whatever they are, don't create any real sound. I think the madness comes from the magic. How long ago did Shokar arrive?"
Zoltan frowns. "Is been over hundred years. No sure on specific dates. All Vartans on island say it been like they here for forever."
Roho nods, "But, the sirens were working when he got here, until he removed some crystals?"
Zoltan squawks, "Yah. Sirens work, but I think they still make people insane before crystals taken outs. Maybe taking them is what make trees go down?"
"I look in Kryago's logbook. It show map of where trees are. They ring edge of whole island," Zoltan scrawks. Then adds, "Like bars on cage."
Roho nods, "The island says its instructions were changed, but I don't think removing the crystals was the cause. The change was centuries ago. Perhaps, if we can restore the old instructions, we can reactivate the island without danger."
Zoltan blinks. "How we do that?"
Roho continues, "The instructions can't be changed from the helmet, by someone without a brain imprint. But there's another console, it gave me a map. I don't know if we'll be able to get in or not. It mentioned safeguards, such as keys, but if things are old enough, they have a tendency to stop working properly. As the whole island shows."
Zoltan scratches his neck nervously. "You think you going to be able to lead there?" He seems hesitant to point out the one obvious problem of a blind man with a map.
Roho nods, "With help, I can. It gave me a map, like I could see it. That's the first thing I've seen in about as long as you've been alive, I remember it pretty clearly." He grins.
The fennec seems to be getting a bit … blurry … from the Vartan's perspective.
Zoltan blinkblinks… he rubs his eyes, hoping to clear them.
The vision starts to clear … but the image forming is NOT that of the fennec Zoltan was talking with just a moment ago. There is a face a feline one, though with markings hard to place. Voices in a strange language somehow make sense to Zoltan's ears, as their meanings impress upon his mind.
"… none remain? That is a pity, but not unexpected, from what you have told me. Nonetheless, I sense three other possibilities. Make preparations for my return, as you have been instructed. You will be well rewarded, both in this life and in the next… "
The hippogryph inhales sharply at the words. He tries to make sence of them.
The face forms a little more clearly. It's a feline, for certain, and female. Although a Vartan might not appreciate it as much as, say, a Khatta, it is surely one of the most finely sculpted feline faces he has ever seen. The markings still elude definition, though it appears that some sort of makeup has been applied around the eyes, and the speaker is adorned with much jewelry. Very … shiny … jewelry. "… You are not to harm them, unless they provoke you. Your previous behavior has been unacceptable … "
Zoltan speaks softly… "Harm… whom?"
The feline blinks. "What was that? … " She frowns fiercely, but then her expression softens. "Oh. Hmmmm … Make that four." She smiles, as the vision dissolves.
Zoltan reaches out to the vision, grabbing Roho roughly by the shoulders.
Roho stands, a concerned and puzzled look on his face. He passes a paw in front of the Vartan, "Zoltan?"
Roho jumps, "Ouch, Zoltan, it's me!"
The Vartan quickly lets go. "Sorry… I… hrrr." He rubs his head.
Roho sits down, blinking surprisedly, "No matter. Are you all right now?"
"Yah. I thinks so. I guess I still seeing things that no really there." zoltan shrinks down a bit. "I no hurt you, did I?"
Roho rasps, "Nothing important… What did you see?"
Zoltan tries to summarize his vision. "Saw… er… shiny cat! Or cat wearing lots of shinies. Words make no sense, but she tallking to me. She tell me to prepare for her return, rest make no sense."
Roho hms, "Not Jezebel? You were speaking in nonsense, yourself… "
Zoltan squawks, "She sound like she know me… and I done something wrong. Maybe is having one of Shokar's visions again." His brow furrows as he thinks. "I no think it Jezebel… although she talk in my dreams sometimes.""
Roho nods, "Well, if it didn't seem important, than we'd probably best get back to the matter at hand."
"What was I saying?" the Vartan asks.
Roho chuckles, "I'm not sure… somewhere between sleep-talk, and that language you share with the other Vartans. Mostly gibberish."
Zoltan frowns. He half wishes there was another Vartan nearby that might have heard him.
Roho rasps, "Anyways, if I describe the route to you, do you think you can lead us?"
Zoltan taps his head. "Yah. I get map stuck in head too. It gone now… but I remember. You tell me what you see, and we compare, yes?"
Roho nods, "Well, I think this map may be different… what did you see?"
Roho sniffs around a little bit. Then sniffs at his shoulders, then at Zoltan, "Zoltan, are you okay?"
Zoltan furrows his brow even more as he thinks over several things. "Map was of complex I think second floor." He begins itching at a pot in the midle of his forehead and feeling around. "I no sure… why you ask? I smell funny?"
Roho rasps, "I… I thought I smelled blood."
Zoltan rubs his head more an winces. "I must have scratched head when I having vision. You know if I was moving around any? I never hurt self before."
Roho chuckles, "I don't know, really. Didn't sound like you moved too much. Is it bleeding bad?"
Roho pokes into his pouch, "I don't have too much with me… "
Zoltan pats the spot and looks at his hand to see the amount of blood there. "I think it be alrights if there no blood flies anywhere."
Roho nods, "I don't imagine they make it up this far, usually… they probably just smatter the tower."
Zoltan hisses to himself as he rubs the spot. "I hope that wherever we go… it answer all questions I gots."
Roho nods, closing his pouch, "I hope so too."
Zoltan casually strips off the leather he normally wears on his arms and tucks the bindings away in his belt. He starts rubbing something on his wrists against the cloth of his breeches. "Well, where location of place we need to go? Maybe we should get someone to guide us. I no sure how to work elevator thing."
Roho rasps, "Okay, there was a crawlspace adjacent to the room with the helmet. We need to take that, then."
As Roho mentions this, both Zoltan and Roho find images of the maps imposing themselves in their minds. Only an instant … and the path reveals itself, along with several options.
In fact, it would seem possible to reach the location without the elevator … though it would involve going through some access hatches (which may or may not still be functional), some crawltubes, and several ladders.
( I'll do this with my slave markings showing. And my father's gift. Guide me, father, ) the Vartan thinks to himself as he polishes the gauntlets on his wrists.
Zoltan quickly sits down, blinking at open space.
After a stop by Zoltan's temporary quarters to fetch some of his gear, the two set off through an open access hatch (after finding a couple out of service), and then down ladders, through crawl tubes … and into a dead end formed by a stubbornly sealed hatch. Backtracking, they find an alternate route … and ALMOST find a dead end, except that Zoltan's strength manages to coax the hatch open.
After several more twists and turns that would have them quite lost if not for the maps impressed upon their minds, the fennec and Vartan reach a cluttered and cramped chamber, its walls almost invisible due to a mass of cables and conduits running this way and that.
Zoltan squawks, "Hrr… look like vines!"
In the center is a supporting column, again covered with cables, that has a single glassy panel on one side that is dark, save for the glittering reflections cast by other lights about the room.
This glassy panel seems to be in the very location indicated by the map. Yes. It MUST be it.
There are some odd panels arranged around it on the column, some of which look as if they might fold out beneath the glassy panel.
Roho reaches out and tentatively touches the surface of the screen…
There's a high pitched squeal, only audible to Roho's ears, and then it goes away as the screen flickers to life. An image appears of a rune … an ellipse on its side, like a stylized eye, with a single line pointing up, and three pointing downward.
Roho's ears flinch back at the noise, and he takes a step back, "What happened?"
Zoltan blinks at the screen. "It go all bright. Gots picture on it now. I remember it from City of Hands; that picture represent island of Paradys."
Zoltan looks around a bit more at the cables, checking to see if anything in the room looks damaged.
Roho sits on the floor, out of his element… pictures on screens are fairly useless to him.
The room doesn't look in the least bit damaged. In fact, despite that it doesn't seem like anyone could be frequenting this on a regular basis, the place is very clean. Not a hint of dust in the air … or on anything. It smells so … sterile.
The Vartan nervously walks up to the screen. "What you do to make it go all bright?"
Roho shrugs, "I just touched it… do you think it responds to us talking? Or is there another way?"
Zoltan looks at the icon as he waits to see if it does anything. Finally he reaches out and gently touches the image in the very center.
The Vartan can feel a faint tingle when he touches the image. There's a "blip", and the image swells and changes, forming a table with several different icons on it. Words appear in Rephidim Standard, "Please enter Access Code on Keypad."
"Who knows. Hopefully safer than helmet… ERK!" The Vartan jumps back a little as the image changes. "Hrrr… it want something called 'access code'. Helmet give you that?"
Zoltan peers at the symbols on the keypad, hiping to pick out some that might be familiar.
Roho shakes his head, "No. I guess this is the key it was talking about. Unless someone left a code written behind somewhere, then we'll have problems here."
The symbols displayed on the screen's lower side look like a collection of Sinai's version of the alphabet, and its numbers as well.
Zoltan just stares at the screen. Part of him hoping that if he just looks at it long enough, something will come.
Roho starts pawing among the cables, "Look around, see if you can find anything… a slip of paper, anything that someone might write on." The eternal optimist.
The screen's images remain. After some time passes, the image dims back to darkness. No paper can be found in this chamber.
"Maybe dreams give me code… if only can remember right part," Zoltan sighs.
Zoltan touches the center of the screen again to bring the image back.
With a blip, the image returns, just as before.
… and then it gets blurry again…
*blip* *blip* *blipblipblipblipblip* *blip* *blipblip*…
Zoltan doesn't move this time. He just listens and watches.
Roho rasps, "Is it broken?"
Zoltan squawks, "Maybe it low on power?"
Roho tilts his head, "But, what are you tapping?"
The image refocuses itself. A new menu has appeared, with more words and pictures, and a map of the island and its structures.
Basically, the map shows the structures Zoltan saw while in the Helmet, along with words beside them that label them as before.
Zoltan blinkblinks! "Was I moving?"
Roho nods, "Sounds like you were tapping the glass."
Zoltan swallows slowly and looks at the screen. "Something make me move… but… whatever do it, it know access code."
Roho blinks, "Oh? Well… whatever works." He shifts nervously.
The map remains on the screen. It is mostly still, except for a few lights here and there that move. There's one light that makes a very slow circuit around the base of the tower as indicated on the map. Some arrows hover over to the side, pointing in the axis directions, and some curving. Some other lights blink all along the rim of the island. And, one light flashes at what must be the location of this terminal deep within the Tower.
"So what helmet tell you to do when we get codes in?" the Vartan says softly.
Some other lights blink next to obscure messages that sound vaguely like warnings. But they are technical words so obscure that they are hard to even vocalize, let alone make sense of.
Roho rasps, "It didn't tell me to do anything. But it said that from here, we could change the instructions to the island. Which may include shutting down the tower wiinds."
Zoltan does his best to describe the images on the screen for roho. "I think lights along rim are for siren trees. Maybe circiling light mean ball that took away magic.
Roho nods, "Probably. What do you think the arrows are?"
Zoltan squawks, "No sure. You think I should touch one on screen? Maybe it tell us."
Roho nods, "Or perhaps you can move them… "
Zoltan gently reaches out and touches one of the curved arrows.
( Whatever you are, making me cut myself and push buttons… please don't let me do anything stupid, ) the Vartan thinks worriedly to himself.
As Zoltan's talon touches the arrow … the image of the island rotates, as if it is all suspended in a space somewhere behind this glassy panel. When he lets go, it stops turning.
Zoltan relaxes a bit. "They make island picture move!"
Roho nods, blowing out a breath, "Okay… try touching the tower… "
Zoltan squawks, "Where on tower? There little light circling just outside, there another light for where we is… " He looks closer at the picture. "Maybe arrows can make tower part bigger?"
Roho nods, "Try that… "
As the Vartan experiments with the other arrows, the island zooms in, then out, then spins around, then slides up and down, sometimes at dizzying speeds. Thank the Star that the REAL island is not doing it the same! By the time the island has done a few flip flops and hardly looks recognizeable from this angle (upside down?) Zoltan has managed to get a rough idea of the controls, however oversensitive they might be at times.
At least this offers a good view of what must be on the bottom, if shown in the abstract Three conical shapes extend from the bottom, angling out from the central axis.
Zoltan continues to describe the pictures on the map. Although his goal of looking at the tower is temporaily forgotten as he sees the shapes at the bottom.
The Vartan tries to zoom in on one of the cones. He examines it for lights and of those warning messages.
Roho listens to the description of the cones, and blinks, "I don't remember those… "
The cones appear only in abstract forms. But there are some messages and lights. Most of the words are hard to tell, but "General Failure", "Thaumaturgical Imbalance", and "Redirect Enacted" are among some of the snippets of phrases.
Zoltan squawks, "Was suspicious that there something on bottom by image that represent Paradys. Now I see that I rights."
Roho listens to Zoltan's commentary, "Thaumaturgical! That's it… do you suppose the imbalance was what led to that change in instruction? I guess it's equally likely that the change in instruction may have caused it… "
Zoltan frowns. "I think I understand little more. Trees is called 'stabalizers'… maybe they what cause 'imbalance'?"
Roho shakes his head, "If they stabilize, then that should be the opposite. Maybe the trees have failed, that's what's caused the imbalance?"
Zoltan continues to look at the picture, ocasionally rotating the image in and out and around, just in case not using the screen causes it to shut down.
The Vartan seems to be getting the hang of the controls now. Depending upon how one presses the arrows and moves one's talon (or finger or claw), it affects how quickly the image moves.
Zoltan squawks, "Helmet say that stabilizers is broken though. You think that there way we can tell place to repair itself? It manage to keep room here in good shape… maybe it possible for rest of island to do that too."
Roho nods, "Maybe… or at least, maybe we can get it to find which ones are broken, and leave just those dormant. I don't know how detailed you can get with those controls."
Zoltan sighs. "Is kind of scary; if I push wrong thing… everyone maybe go insane. If I push right thing, er all go free,"
Roho nods, "If you push nothing, we're no worse off than we are now. It's your choice."
Zoltan rotates the island image back to where he can ge a better view of the stabilizers.
The "stabilizers" are housed (as visible in a "transparent" line-drawn image) in bunkers (or "housings") along the rim of the island. A zoom-in reveals them to look like some sort of rods underneath the ground.
Roho stands, and presses Zoltan's shoulder for a moment, "I've got to get back to the rest… if I'm not back in time for Norin's treatment, you know how he gets. Try not to turn us upside-down, 'kay?" He grins…
Zoltan ruffles his beak through Roho's headfur. "I do best. Prepare for worst though… just in case."
Roho smiles and nods, "Prepare for the worst, but I'll hope for the best… " He ducks out the corridor they entered through.
Zoltan focuses on the map panel again. He tries to zoom in on the tower as Roho had earlier suggested. Perhaps there's some way to make the tower repair itself. Or extend the vanes without making everyone insane.
Zooming in on any particular area causes even more lights and messages and "push-me-buttons" to appear in the vicinity of certain highlights.
Nothing suggesting "self-repair" seems to present itself. At least there are some buttons that seem to have to do with "Extend Stabilizer Vanes". No provision is made, however for "Do Not Make Everyone Insane".
( If I do nothing, we'll stay here until we rot. If I do something, maybe we'll at least die quickly, ) the Vartan thinks to himself. He begins to zoom in on one tower.
Zooming in on the tower on the top reveals a map of the complex once the view gets close enough, and a clear indication of Zoltan's present position.
Zooming in on a stabilizer housing, however, pulls far away from the tower, showing details of the vane and its storage instead.
Zoltan quirks an eyebrow… storage? Hmm.
The major components seem to be the rod, an underground bunker it is housed in, and a hatch that allows it presumably to extend outward, which is presently shown as closed.
Zoltan zooms in on the rod. That must be the tree itself.
Little arrows have features like "Open Access Hatch", "Extend Stabilizer Vane", "Recalibrate Vanes". Zooming in reveals more detail on the vane, which becomes more photorealistic on closer inspection. It MIGHT be the tree … but inside, it must be collapsed somehow.
Zoltan brightens. Recalibrate? He reaches out and touches that option, mumbling a prayer to himself as he does so.
A sign appears. "Unable to perform Recalibration. Focal units are not installed."
"Foo." Zoltan grumbles to the screen. He touches the word 'focal units'… hoping to bring up more information.
An image appears … of a very shiny-looking crystal. It looks just like one which has appeared in Zoltan's dreams and which he hallucinated about in the chamber … and like the "spares" contained in the Navigator's storage chamber.
Zoltan grumbles. "I don't suppose you can tell me where I can get more of those without having to go to war against a bunch of cannibals." He speaks in the Vartan tongue, since nobody is there to hear him.
The machine does not speak back.
Zoltan touches the picture of the crystal.
Another "window" opens up, surrounding the crystal with a myriad of numbers and measurements and some sort of obscure mathematical-scientific jargon and gobbledygook that would probably tell some technopriest everything he wanted to know about this particular variety of shiny…
… except, that is, where to find one.
The Vartan groans.
Zoltan goes back to the picture of the vane, and then zooms back to the tower.
Back to the Tower, the same details show up, along with some pulsating lights that seem to indicate the flows of energy through the center of the tower, and some lines that go toward a point of light that has now become a small orb that makes an orbit around the base of the tower, though an irregular one.
A multitude of windows show up, with far less fathomable terms. "Thaumaturgical" and variants thereof show up in frequency, along with things about "Energy Flows" and "Fluctuations" and "Redirect" and "Collector" and "Dispersal".
"Okay… we'll just go down the line." He reaches out and touches 'dispersal'.
Some of the images dim out, while others brighten. Some sort of energy flow seems to be running up through the center of the tower, up, and beyond the Tower itself. Little ringlets appear at some point above the Tower, looking like ripples on the surface of a pond.
Zoltan tries to zoom in on those ripples. Maybe these are the the causes of the winds.
Zooming in on the ripples does indeed prompt windows that make mention of airflows. A window labelled "Status" indicates a "Custom Setting" for something called an "Air Buffer".
Zoltan scratches his head. Air buffer? What on Sinai is that for? He examines the image a bit closer in hopes of finding out, and then backs away to the previous screen, this time activating the 'collector'.
The "collector" prompts messages that again bring up terms about a "Redirection" and another "Custom Setting". The orb floating around the base of the tower brightens up, while an "imbedded" view shows a dimmer light at each of the three cones on the base of the island.
Zoltan frowns. Is everything on a custom setting? He curiously touches that box, half expecting another stream of gibberish.
Not surprisingly, there is yet more gibberish. Some more recognizeable words include "Standard", "Invert", "Reset", "Diagnostic" and "Maintenance".
The Vartan growls again. Did the sky gods enjoy speaking in gibberish? He activates the 'diagnostic' window.
More gibberish. Whatever it is, it seems like it's saying something isn't quite right. And more mention of "custom settings" and deviation from "default".
Zoltan drums his talons against his chin. What changed the setting to begin with? He zooms out again and goes over his options. Focusing on what part of the island seems to have the most warning and repair signals around it.
The same options remain. It would seem the signals seem to be fairly evenly divided across the stabilizing vanes, the base of the tower, its center, and to a lesser degree at the cones on the base of the island and that rippling anamoly above the top.
Zoltan sits back for a moment and looks at the screen. Roho had said that the instructions for the island had been changed, and that restoring the old instructions might take us out of danger… he goes back to the 'collector' option and pulls up the status screen.
The status screen returns, along with the previous warnings and options.
Zoltan touches the 'maintenence' option, although he half expects to see the message about the crystals again…
Actually, the message about the crystals does NOT appear. Some repeated words appear again, though "Custom Settings", "Recalibration", "Reset", "Defaults", "Redirection", "Intensity", "Variance", and a whole lot of words that sound less scientific and more like magical hocus-pocus, with liberal sprinkling of that "Thaumaturgical" term again.
Zoltan frowns. Then with a resigned sigh, he reaches out and touches the 'defaults' option. Paranoia has its place… but he slowly realizes that no actions at all will serve no purpose.
Another window pops up. "Establish default settings?" it asks, along with "Yes" and "No".
The Vartan just stares at the words as he feels his heart pound in his chest. He reaches out and nervously hits 'yes'.
The window disappears. The lights in the chamber dim for a moment … and the floor trembles faintly under the Vartan's feet.
Another window appears on the screen. "Anti-Hazard Air Buffer Shield Reestablished. Command Successfully Executed." The floor stops trembling.
Zoltan sinks down. "I hope that was a good thing," he scrawks to the screen. Then, he goes back to the larger island image to see if it's changed at all.
The rippling has disappeared above the tower. Only a few warning lights have disappeared those concentrated in that particular area.
A somewhat spherical "wall" is now indicated floating somewhere outside the island, with "holes" in the top and bottom.
The "wall" surrounds the island, forming a shell that encircles it, save for the gaps in the top and bottom.
Zoltan goes back to the screen near the tower and pulls up the 'dispersal' option, also setting it to 'default'.
This time, the lights in the room go out entirely, except for the monitor though its image shakes a bit. The floor shakes violently, and cable connections rattle noisily.
The Vartan braces himself, not even daring to breathe.
The lights flicker back on … then off again … then back on, and the shaking slowly subsides.
A window on the screen blinks on. "Thaumaturgical Redirection Defaults Successfully Reestablished. Primary Functions Still Inoperative. Command Completed Successfully with One Major Error."
Zoltan erks. He touches the word 'error'.
Many of the "warning" lights have disappeared from the island. However, the "error" link brings up more diagrams … and also a diagram of those "focal units" again.
One window reads, "Unable to Control Thaumaturgical Flows. Warning: Thaumaturgical Imbalances Expected."
The Vartan exhales loudly. He looks for the 'custom settings' option again… hoping to reactivate it.
The Custom Settings option brings forth all manner of symbols and arcane words. So many buttons to push…
Zoltan sinks down. ( What have I done… have I driven everyone insane outside? ) He just stares at the screen. ( I can't put it back… I can either stop now, or keep going. )
Zoltan straightens himself back up. "In for a a shekel, in for a pound… " He goes to the 'redirect' option this time, looking for 'default'.
The Redirect Status window shows settings currently at … "Default".
Zoltan hmmms. He continues up the list to 'fluctuations'.
The "Fluctuations" has disappeared from the list of options.
"Only one left… " He looks for 'energy flows'.
The diagrams show the energy flows again … forming lines from somewhere below the island, directed toward the three cones in the bottom of the island, then going through the center of the island and through the tower and up into the sky. However, there are places where individual streams break away, or swirl about, or otherwise seem to be disturbed, as if blown by some sort of "wind" that is unhindered by the solid rock of the island itself.
Sub-images of the stabilizer vanes appear again, with more ominous references to Thaumaturgical Imbalances and the like.
Zoltan sinks down to his knees and just stares at the screen. He reaches out again and touches one of the refrences to the imbalances, hoping to at least find out what exactly it entails, and how long he has until it begins.
Much is repeating itself. More of those arcane mumbo-jumbo statements. Ah. There's a reference to "Chaos" and "Random".
With trembling hands, Zoltan pulls the image back to look at the island again. He tries to focus on where the remining error signs are coming from.
The error signs are mostly focused on the stablizer vane housings along the rim of the island.
"The crystals… " Zoltan growls. "Those Dagh-forsaken crystals."
Zoltan focuses in on the vanes again. Are they all nonfunctional?
The vanes are still all tucked away in their little bunkers underneath the rock of the island. By the indications … yes, they're quite nonfunctional.
The hippogryph moans. Torn between sitting at the terminal and trying to make things right, or rushing out to see what exactly he's done.
The hippogryph draws himself up and goes after the screen again. He returns to the 'dispersal' option. where is the energy being dispersed now?
If the diagrams are to be understood correctly … the energy is being "dispersed" straight up … and up and up … though there are also a few flows that seem to indicate that some of the energy might somehow be utilized by the complex itself.
Zoltan hmmms. He goes to the diagram of the tower itself, looking for something that might pertain to energy usage.
Plenty of diagrams offer information about energy usage. However, quite unlike the amazing translative abilities of the Helmet, they don't seem to come with useful explanations. Clicking on strange words and numbers just summons up … more strange words and numbers.
Zoltan sits back. He's done all he can possibly think to do now.
Reluctantly, the Vartan leaves the chamber, finding his way back through the access tubes and ladders and hatches, into the wider interiors of the Tower … and finds … nobody. Everybody has gone!
Otherwise, everything looks the same, aside from a few things that have been hastily dropped here and there.
Zoltan's ears shoot back. He cautiously begins to work his way to the outside.
( Did they all flee when the ground shook? Or… no… I won't even think about it, ) the Vartan thinks.
A pair of arms grab the Vartan from behind, wrapping around his ribs.
Zoltan grabs at the arm, using his wings to bat the person away so he can pull whomever it is to his front.
The Vartan finds he has a firm grip on Jezebel's arm, as he pulls her about. She is smiling broadly. With her free hand, she signs, "You did it!"
Zoltan relaxes. "Is only you. I thought I kill everyone for while there. What happen?"
Jezebel grins and signs, "The wind! It stopped! They're all outside, flying around like maniacs! Come see!" She tugs on Zoltan's arm, leading him toward a ladder up to the upper ledges. Of course, Zoltan could get there himself much more quickly and easily just by employing his own wings.
The Vartan pauses for a moment and does the most bizzare thing he's probably done since he's reached the island. He scoops up Jezebel and hugs her. "I glad you alrights," he whispers, then follows the cheetah.
The cheetah gives Zoltan a look of surprise, then smiles and leads him up to the uppermost deck ringing the rim of the tower. Outside, a multitude of winged forms can be seen flitting about in the air high above the island Eeee, half-Vartans, one Gryphon … and a bunch of Creens and birds who might be either having fun or scared by all the commotion.
Zoltan frowns at the group overhead. "So I made wind go away… it not over yet. Jezebel, I going to need your help, and possibly the help of everyperson we can manage. Is very long and complicated to explain, but this is calm before great storm. There chance that bad things going to happen soon."
Zoltan waves to one of the fliers overhead, trying to signal him down.
"No!" signs Jezebel as she shakes her head. "Everything is fine! We can fly away now … and … my magic … it's back!" She smiles widely. "And there are even greater things!"
One of the bats flutters down toward Zoltan, and cheerily chitters at him, "The winds! They're gone!"
Zoltan looks at the bat. "Tell everyone to come down quickly. It not over yet."
The bat blinks confusedly. "Ah … well … sure! Right away!" He flutters away, his bubble burst just a bit.
The black Vartan refrains from signing until the Eee has departed. As soon as he's gone though… "Greater things?"
Jezebel signs, "Can you take me back to the ship? I must tell Twilight-Wing."
Zoltan frowns. "We still trapped on island. I think there some kind of barrier around us… and… " He pauses, fumbling with his hands. "Thing I use to repair island tell me that magic here unbalanced now. Could make everyone go insane, or you could lose powers anytime. I going to need you help to make sure that no happen." He holds his arms out to the Savanite, offering to carry her to the ship by means of flight. ( Maybe Twilight-Wing knows of this island… )
Jezebel smiles and holds onto Zoltan, bracing for the flight.
The hippogryph frowns even more and jumps from the tower, unfurling his wings and heading for the airship.
Zoltan braces himself as he flies. Expecting to hit a bolt of magic, go into another halucination, or just get whammed by another rough gust of wind on his way to the Freedom's Dream.
Several of the bats are now heading back to the ship … with a number of winged cats along as well. By the looks of the activity, it seems a party is in the making. No gusts of wind impede the Vartan's progress. He lands without incident … other than several fliers enthusiastically greeting him. The word must have gotten around that he's to thank for this.
Zoltan keeps his morose demeanor as he leads Jezebel below the deck and into the area where the slaves are.
Jezebel seems to positively bounce with each step.
Finally, Zoltan reaches the place where Twilight-Wing is staying … but he seems to have gone on somewhere else. Some redirection later, the Savanite and Vartan find him in the hold … where he is in the middle of a magical circle, and performing some sort of ceremony in dance.
The Vartan's ears shoot back. "What is he DOING?!?"
Jezebel frowns a bit. "Casting a spell, I suppose. Shall we go back to the deck?"
Zoltan shakes his head angrily. "No… you know what kind of spell? Jezebel, what I do to restore magic no work completely right… Twilight-Wing maybe went insane. I need to be sure."
Jezebel looks indignant. "He can't be insane. He's a Mind Mage. And, if he's insane, how will I possibly become Priest-King?" She glowers angrily at nothing in particular.
"What if we stop him? If he get mad, it my idea… I take whatever ill feelings he gets." Zoltan signs. He continues to look nervously at the mind-mage.
Jezebel signs, "Interrupting spells is not a good idea. Haven't you learned anything from Wynona?"
Zoltan makes a gurgling whine. "He could be about to kill us all. That much better?" The Vartan seems to be fighting himself. Magic THIS close to him.
Jezebel tries to tug the Vartan away, her hands occupied in the futile task.
The older mage seems to jerk violently as he dances. It looks rather unpleasant.
Jezebel gulps. She lets go of Zoltan's hand. She signs, "Something IS wrong!"
Zoltan shrinks down as he watches the mage. "Knew it!" He looks back at Jezebel. "You know most gentle way of stopping him? Surely there ways."
Jezebel looks at the mage with wide eyes, then shakes her head, "Just … stop him! Hurry! I'm sorry!"
The older Savanite's movements become even more jerky and spasmatic. He makes choking noises, and his eyes are wide and glazed over.
Zoltan leaps at Twilight-Wing, hoping to pin him down.
… to be continued …