In The Key of Time III

Part Three – Varenis Ilob

                The Wayfarers are in Navarene, near to the city of Shallamas. They went through an hourglass shaped Portal into a series of chambers and tunnels, obviously constructed and obviously old. They fought a band of Split-Eye Reavers; retracing their steps there was a ‘ripple’ in reality and they found themselves standing in a brightly-lit hospital ward.

“Hello”, said nurse Sharlin. “Are you here to see the doctor?” “Yes”, replied Galadiir. The doctor turned, a middle-aged man with a white coat and various devices hung from his belt.

“Hop up on the bed young man, and I’ll soon have you checked out”. He adjusted various pieces of medical equipment over the bed.

Galadiir did so and nurse Sharlin moved over to Lorn, who was badly injured. “He’ll need to stay here to rest”.

Galadiir had nothing but a few bruises so they said their goodbyes and moved along the E passage. Talia-5 stayed with Lorn (which upset Harrylock). *

After an immediate distance they entered an office; there are a desk and several chairs; a set of empty shelving and a nameplate that read ‘Dr Kol’. Investigating the desk, they found that the surface could be made to light up with various shapes and symbols. It was a data storage system, but appeared to be empty.

There were two exits, SE and E. They went SE, after a short distance the tunnel was sealed by a metal door. It was locked and the lock was a magnetic key. Returning to the office, they went E, traversing a long corridor with many bends and curves; eventually exiting into a conference room. There was an oval table with chairs around it. In the centre of the table was a glowing ring projecting an image of a device. The device was an octagonal base with a central transparent cylinder filled with smaller multi-coloured cylinders.

At this point two people, one male, one female, entered the room from another passage. They wore silver skullcaps and grey tunics with a white tabard. On the tabard was an emblem; an hourglass vertically bisected by a sword. The woman carried a device in her hand that she was pointing at the image.

Sonny took the lead on the negotiations. “Come in and sit down”, he barked. “We are here because we are not satisfied with what we are being told. We funded this project and the reports are incomplete. We are here to put you back on schedule.”

“W…what?” stammered the man. “I don’t understand. Everything is going exactly as planned. The latest test performed exactly as expected.”

“Test of what?” roared Sonny. “Don’t hold back – we need to know everything that’s going on here.”

“Who are you? Are you from the Queen?” The man looked frightened. “I think you need to talk to Varenis.”

“Yes we do. Who is he?”

“Are you sure you’re from the Queen? How can you not know who Varenis Ilobar is?”

The woman left, to return shortly with another man; he was tall, with a hooked nose and medium-length brown hair. He looked at the Wayfarers with a piercing gaze. He wore a grey tunic with the hourglass/sword emblem; he had various devices depending from his belt. He glanced at a device on his wrist.

“I am Varenis. Who are you?”

“We are here representing the Queen.”

“No you’re not. The official audit is on its way and will not be here for another ten-day. I don’t know how you got in, but you need to leave. The way out is that way.”

The corridor led a short distance to a metal door. They were expecting it to be locked; it slid open at a touch and billows of red-lit vapour spilled out. Entering the chamber they found that the walls flexed constantly; forming planes and angles. A figure stood in the centre, surrounded by three red-glowing floating cylinders. Harrylock used an oddity he carried to clear some of the smoke; the figure was a floating cloaked shape with a faceless hood **

The figure unnerved them; wherever they stood in the chamber; it was ‘looking’ at them. Finally, Judson tried to touch it. A sound that was not sound, that bypassed their ears, filled their heads: –

“You do not understand. But you will …”

Judson decided that touching the creature would be a BAD THING. They left through the N exit, after a short distance they entered an octagonal chamber from the S. The only exit was an hourglass Portal on the NE wall. The entire W wall was a tribute to a beautiful queen; statues, ornaments, pictures and the like. Flanking the tableaux was two knights in heavy armour. They carried swords; on their breastplate was the emblem of the hourglass bisected vertically by a sword. Beneath the emblem was set a black jewel. Galadiir approached the nearest knight.

“Who are you?”

“I am Sir Lennis Tritars, of the Order of the Tempura Avenis.

“Who’s she?” A look of anger crossed Sir Tritars face. “You will be respectful. She is our glorious majesty Queen Whenith Sarrowmere, ruler and protector of the realm of Iscobal.” ***

“Where does that Portal lead to? We came in that way” ****

“It leads to the chapter house of the Order of the Tempura Avenis. It is always guarded, inside and outside.”

Harrylock spoke directly to Sir Tritars. “Can I join the Order?” Sir Tritars looked him up and down. “No”.

They retraced their steps and encountered the Philethis again. They tried to trick it and took some Intellect damage; Harrylock tried to touch it. He took a massive mental blast; they all heard the sound that was not sound in their heads: –

“The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.” *****

Heading NE, after a short distance they entered a curved chamber (1/4 of a circle). A sloping passage led down to the E, in the centre was a panel with two sliders. The top one was calibrated 0-2, the bottom one was calibrated 0-9. They were set at 01. As Galadiir went to investigate further, he was interrupted by a familiar voice.

“Stop!” called Varenis, coming up the sloping ramp. “Don’t touch anything. Now, why are you here? I know you are not the auditors; don’t try to fool me again.”

“We know you are messing with Time”, called Galadiir. “We are from your future. What year is it?”

“It is 965, the 12th year of the glorious rule of Queen Whenish Sarrowmere of Iscobal. You say you are from the future. What is your year and who rules Iscobal?”

They all exchanged glances. “Our year is 1015; fifty years from your time. King Noren Ti’Killoban rules in Iscobal”

“Ti’Killoban? They are a Noble House; but not successors or contenders for the throne. Still, it is of no matter. This is fascinating – you have come back through time. I need to have you examined and the results recorded; then we will go back to your future, to see if you survive. It is proof that my Time Rotor works. If I can return you to your time alive then we can explore going further into the future.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because I can. Imagine the possibilities; the advanced technology of the future made available now.”

Varenis took them down the ramp to the chamber containing the Time Rotor; a crystal cylinder about 2’ tall. Four sloping up ramps led off the chamber, N, S, E, W; the E ramp had an open gallery above it.

They caught a brief glimpse of someone moving on the gallery, suddenly the Rotor activated; moving up and down in the base plinth whilst the inner cylinders flared with unknown colours and a terrible noise permeated the entire complex. Varenis ran for the east ramp as reality ‘rippled’.

The Rotor chamber smelt of ozone and was covered in dust. Harrylock decided to go back to the hospital; to check on Talia-5 and Lorn. They all went up to the control chamber. Judson was still sitting in front of the panel; however, at the north end, there was now a device. A flat slab of synth; above it were five unsupported vertical rings. A blue-white energy field filled the space between the rings; inside the field was the body of Varenis Illoba. Two large insectoid creatures were trying to get at the body …

… To be continued …

————————————————————————–

GM notes

* “Wait – what’s happened to the north and south passages?”

“Maybe they don’t exist anymore?”

“Or maybe they don’t exist yet – I think we’ve gone back in time”

“Guys – don’t tread on any butterflies!”

 

** A Philethis, but no-one recognised it as such.

 

*** A few failed history rolls here revealed that no-one had ever heard of her, or of the Order.

 

**** No they didn’t

 

***** Yes, I’m a big Babylon 5 fan, and surely Philethis = Vorlon.

 

Feedback and comments on these stories appreciated

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