We made our way to Tier City, the professor needed to pick up some supplies and to send some post with a courier service. As we approached, my eyes were dazzled with ancient dwarven architecture that rose up and up upon many different levels. The city looked old, carved intricately and as tightly packed as possible. The streets were compact and the buildings sat next to each other with seemingly no extra space.
Leaving Alexa, (the house dearies), outside the main gate, we entered the city, keeping close to the Professor. I smelled baking bread, flowers, and … sniff something I'd never smelled in a city before. It wasn't a bad smell, so it couldn't have been refuse. Doubtless that the city had such in it at times I could assume.
Before I could investigate the smell, I caught up with the group and we found ourselves at a courier service building. Bags of letters, supplies, and crates loaded onto wagons were nearby the establishment. A team of oxen moaned their displeasure as they were led away by the driver. The Professor and others entered, while I waited outside, examining the unique style of craftsmanship that went into the city. The people that passed by seemed entranced by their business and only a few gave chance to wave at me as I waited amongst the bags, couriers, and crates.
The others returned shortly, until the Professor grimaced and said aloud, "Agh. I forgot that too!"
I merely raised my left eyebrow. Whatever he had forgotten, he'd been complaining about his "forgetfulness" all morning. I would ask him before we entered the pass, just in case it'd be something I could assist with.
While on our way back, I caught that smell again. I investigated, blending into my surroundings; being that of a market, with stalls and vendors hawking their wares while yelling out for buyers. It wasn't particularly busy, but the streets were bustling enough. I followed the scent to… Mushrooms? They were odd. I didn't know where they'd come from. I shimmied up the side of one man who was picking at them, touched one, and duplicated a mushroom with a wave of my hand. I wasn't stealing, but my casual attempts at being unseen were likely to cause suspicion regardless.
So, I carried this duplicate around. Sniffing it, trying to remember or glean some information regarding it's origin and type. I couldn't get anything from it. But, I decided to do a little experiment upon our return to Alexa outside the gates.
We started to leave and made our way past the guards posted at the gate only to hear the professor exclaim that he forgot something again, whereupon we straitway turned about and entered the city again. The guards chuckling with some sidelong looks that seemed to say, "Now how many times have I seen that?" The Professor purchased some supplies to restock the house's larder.
Back in the house, I started with Airelinna, who sniffed at the air, but gave no other reaction. Murph was completely unaware of my presence or that of the fungus. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't particularly pungent, so it was understandable that she was unfazed. But, Dratharz surprised me. He turned himself about and spotted me without so much as a harried search.
His eyes flared, "Where did you get that? Did you steal it?"
His reaction astonished me, I was so taken aback that I cocked my head and thought of how to actually respond to such an accusation. But, just as I was about to make a statement, he bent his staff down in a menacing manner and lit my duplicated fungus on fire!
"Gah!" I yelped, releasing the mushroom which vanished into a puff of still trailing smoke as the fire dissipated. "Come now, I didn't steal anything! I merely duplicated it with magic." I eyed him with a stern scowl, still put off that he did such a childish thing. However…
"Why did you do it?" I pressed. "Moreover, why did you need to burn it?"
Dratharz hesitated, "It's a mushroom. Whatever."
"Nobody else responded so… acutely."
Dratharz then continued to defend his actions while simultaneously convincing me that it was merely a mushroom and that it didn't matter. I believe him. It was just a mushroom. But, something still tickled the back of my mind that the reaction was still something beyond normal.
I sought out the Professor as we approached the mountains, and found him in his workshop working calmly, "Professor, you've been exclaiming all day now that you've forgotten something. What did you forget?"
P. Fraus, sighs and looks down at me, "I wish I remembered to bring one of my Destruction Spheres."
I look back on the spinning doom spheres that he had stationed atop every tower on his fortress' walls. I cast a spell that made the large "machine-thing" appear in his workshop as a mere illusion. "What if it was here?"
He shook his head, "Not everybody nor everything knows it to be dangerous. We'll just have to make do without it."
My shoulders drooped, and that feeling of uselessness returned.
I sat in the kitchen, holding a wooden spoon semi-defiantly as Murph and Airelinna performed their separate skills together. Airelinna sang light, airy tunes, while Murph squatted, leaped and bounced in dance. I couldn't hold it in, and laughed at how ridiculous and wonderful it was at the same time.
That was when we had our first scare. When a enormous roar sounded just behind the house. We didn't find the creature, but ahead, we saw a green dragon flying.
That night, as I took my turn for watch, I watched and listened for anything that might attack us. But, much to my embarrassment, I ended up being frightened by Alexa's inner workings. The rumbling sounds of metal banging below giving me the pale death. I realized, after alerting the Professor, that it was just that.
The next morning, we stopped. Large boulders were in the path.
"Illedrena," P. Fraus called, "Come look at this."
I acknowledged, "What's wrong?"
"Could you go and touch those? I mean not you, but, you as in not you?"
I was confused.
"Have an illusion touch it."
"Ohhh, yes. I… By the light of Melora!"
The air filled with growls and thuds, trees being brushed aside and cracks of stone and bark. A mountain giant clan was attacking us! Their massive bodies wielding trees and other large makeshift weapons. One, that I could see anyway, had a massive boulder that it hefted on it's shoulder, another in it's hand.
"Alexa, take us up," called out the Professor to his home's system as he reached out the window to shoot at one of the giants.
The giants attacked the house, their blows resonating against the metallic legs below.
I created my phantom instantly. My mind's image being crafted from a splice in the air. The wraith, opaque black with gleaming purple eyes covered by a deep cowl, hovering above the ground with tattered black cloak. The tendrils of it's arm's ended with sharp and menacing claws in place of fingers. I sent it out to deal with them. My mind also focusing on an illusion for the next moment.
My phantom went up to the face of the giants in front of the house. It lunged forward, digging those menacing claws straight into it's face, red blood spurted from the wound. Then it ripped outward, completely sundering the giant's gray matter from it's skull, the white bone cloven from the magical creation. The flesh giving way before my magical destroyer.
A flock of "me" I sent to distract one of the giants. But the battle ended as soon as it had started.
The ground below had erupted into a disjointed wall of crackling energy. Burnt flesh reached my nose as the giants squealed in pain and ran for their lives, leaderless. I felt the rage inside me simmer. My phantom chased down one the giants, only to be outrun. I had it return, where it "bumped" against some force and was unable to return to me. It "bumped" again before it was left behind from the speed of the house. I let it vanish.
We continued on the path a little ways, but stopped to examine the damage. The Professor was near to shedding tears as he looked at the legs and puckered his lips in sad contemplation about how much it hurt to see his creation harmed. I felt for him, a little. So, I attempted to repair them with magic. Some pieces were missing so I couldn't replace those, but every face of metal plate was fixed. It seemed to shine and blaze with a newly cast sheen!
I floated away soon after, leaving the Professor to examine the aftermath of my work.
We passed Dragon's peak… And the green dragon that lived there. There was no doubt in my mind that the dragon saw us as much as I saw it. It merely tossed it's head back and forth, watching the pass.
And we arrived in Zithon, the lands across the great divide. . .