Chapter 14: Just In Time

Chapter 14: Just In Time Dikiyoba
In the General Forum, Andraste stood over Dintiradan and shook her club at him. "Don't try anything, because I won't hesitate to smack you."

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind when I take over the boards and execute all those who opposed me," Dintiradan said.

Andraste just laughed.

A few minutes later, it was obvious that Andraste was more interested in watching Riibu clumsily stalk Khoth than watching Dintiradan. Dintiradan used this opportunity to test the magical shackles. They were too tight to slip off and too strong to break. Still, they had faded a little bit. They would fade away completely in time. Next, Dintiradan reached for the copy of Homeland. It was a struggle, but it was doable. If he was careful, he could get up, smash Andraste over the head with Homeland, and escape before anyone could stop him. The problem was that there was nowhere for him to go. He couldn't leave the message boards because of the snow--but he didn't really want to do that anyway. And he couldn't escape to the game forums because of all the rats. Besides, when he escaped, he wanted to take Wanderer and the Lurker with him. They were stupid and annoying but they were loyal and all that was left of his once mighty army. So he would just bide his time. An opportunity would arise sooner or later and he would be on it the moment it did.

Emperor Tullegolar pushed the Lurker into a corner. "Stay here. I've got to ask Randomizer a question." He approached Randomizer and asked, "So what did Dintiradan do that requires them to be guarded separately?"

"Drakefyre will explain when he gets back. Now quit messing around and guard the Lurker like you're supposed to," Randomizer said.

"Of course." Emperor Tullegolar resumed his watch over the Lurker. After a moment, he asked, "So what did you do to make Drakefyre consider a ban?"

"W... what? Drakey's considering banning us? But... but..." The Lurker was stunned. "For how long?"

"Oh, a few weeks."

"A few weeks!"

"Don't worry, I like having you three around. I'll put in a good word or two to see if I can get it reduced to a week or less. I might be able to prevent it entirely but I have to know exactly what you did in order to present a good case," Emperor Tullegolar said.

Unnerved by the threat of a ban, the Lurker told Emperor Tullegolar about the summoning machine, the death of Zephyr Tempest, the plan to summon snakes from Homeland, and how Smoo had accidentally summoned the rats.

Emperor Tullegolar listened intently, only interrupting to ask questions on how the summoning machine worked. When the Lurker was finished, he said, "Hmm. Very interesting. But why uncontrollable snakes from Homeland? Why not summon an army of serviles, which can be controlled and dominated?"

"Because Dintiradan thought Homeland was more evil. And because I like Homeland," the Lurker said.

"You like Homeland? What kind of sick, twisted person are you? Never mind, don't answer that. Listen, I have to go check on something real fast. I trust you won't try to escape while I'm gone." Emperor Tullegolar said.

"I won't. Just be back in time to talk to Drakey, okay?" the Lurker said.

"Hey, Nioca," Emperor Tullegolar said, "Are you up for a quick scouting mission?"

"Why?" Nioca asked.

"I want to see the rats in the Blades of Avernum Forum for myself."

"How exciting! When do we go?"

"Right now."

"But aren't you supposed to be guarding the Lurker?"

"I've talked to him. He won't try anything."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm an Emperor. I'm never wrong."

"Well, okay. Let's go," Nioca said.

Emperor Tullegolar and Nioca exited. Up to this point, Garrison had closely followed Emperor Tullegolar around and listened to all of his conversations. Now he gave Emperor Tullegolar and Nioca a few moments to get ahead and then followed them.

Zeviz called Randomizer and Archmagus over. "Randomizer, Archmagus Micael, could I ask some questions?"

"What is it?" Randomizer asked.

"Do either one of you know anything about scrying?" Zeviz asked.

"No, not really," Randomizer said.

"Only that a good scrying device is probably really complex and requires a huge power source," Archmagus Micael said.

"I don't think that's true," Randomizer said.

"But you just said you don't know anything about scrying!" Archmagus Micael said.

"I guess we will find out when Arancaytar returns with the book on scrying. Will you help me build a scrying pool?" Zeviz said.

"Of course," said Randomizer.

"Sure," Archmagus Micael said, "So when does Arancaytar get back?"

"I don't know. He's been gone for a while," Zeviz said, "I wonder what's taking him so long."


Emperor Tullegolar grabbed a copy of Geneforge and tucked it into his robes as he and Nioca passed through the Tech Support Forum. As they passed through the Announcements Forum, Nioca noticed that the door to the Moderator Forum was ajar.

"Wait, Tullegolar. The door's open. And do you hear... sobbing? I know we aren't supposed to, but maybe we should go inside."

"Let's check it out, shall we?" Emperor Tullegolar pushed the door open and stepped inside.

Nikki was still crying over the comatose Arancaytar. He looked up when he heard Emperor Tullegolar and Nioca enter.

"Nikki!" Nioca said.

Nikki glared at them. "Nioca! What are you doing here? You're ruining my plan!"

"Nikki, Arancaytar is hurt. I'm a priest. I can heal..."

Nikki told Nioca to do something that definitely broke the CoC. Emperor Tullegolar almost laughed at the shocked expression on Nioca's face but stopped himself in time.

"Have you gone mad?" Nioca asked.

"No. I'm just hopelessly in love." Nikki suddenly drew his poisoned pencil and hurled himself at Nioca. "And you're messing up my one chance to be with Aran!"

Nioca didn't quite get out of the way in time. "You are crazy! Unshackle mi... ow!" Nioca looked down at the gash that the pencil had left in his arm. Nioca ran around to the other side of the table and cast a quick curing spell on himself.

Emperor Tullegolar held his slith spear ready to defend himself but stayed well out of the way and watched the fight with interest. "I wish I had some popcorn right now."

Nikki vaulted over the table and tried to stab Nioca again. "I'm going to kill you and then you'll go to Homeland like the noob you are!"

Nioca ducked under the table and crawled to the other side. "I'm not a noob. You might be, though."

There was a pause as Nikki and Nioca glared at each other. Nikki suddenly hurled the pencil at Nioca.

"Shielding!" Nioca said. The air shimmered around him and the pencil bounced off harmlessly. He picked it up. "Now what are you going to do?"

Nikki bowed his head in defeat. "All right. I give up."

Meanwhile, Garrison had taken one look at the scene when he arrived and sprinted back to the Tech Support Forum for potions. While the fight had been going on, he sneaked over to Arancaytar. Arancaytar's breathing was very faint and his skin definitely had a green tinge. Garrison uncorked a curing potion and carefully poured it down Arancaytar's throat. Almost immediately, Arancaytar's breathing returned to normal and his skin took on a healthier tone. Garrison wasn't taking any chances, though, and he gave Arancaytar another curing potion and a healing one.

Emperor Tullegolar was disappointed when Nikki surrendered and stood silently when Nioca approached him. So he was delighted when Nikki suddenly punched Nioca in the face and snatched the pencil out of his hand.

"Wha...? Oh no!" Nioca barely avoided Nikki's attack. "Smi..." Nioca left the spell unfinished to evade the pencil yet again. "Tullegolar! Help me!"

Emperor Tullegolar stepped forward and tripped Nikki with the handle of his slith spear. "Come and take me on, weakling!"

Nikki got back up and attempted to stab Emperor Tullegolar. Nioca watched in awe as Emperor Tullegolar easily parried all of Nikki's attacks. Then, with a sudden flick of the spear, he disarmed Nikki and sent the pencil flying across the room. He quickly turned the spear around and knocked Nikki unconscious with the handle.

"That was amazing!" Nioca said.

"No more amazing than an Emperor's fighting skills should be," Emperor Tullegolar said.

Arancaytar groaned.

"Oh no! Aran! I completely forgot!" Nioca rushed over, only to be met by Garrison.

"I gave him some potions, so he should be fine. It looks like he's waking up," Garrison said.

"Where did you come from?" Emperor Tullegolar asked.

"I was just passing by when I heard the noise," Garrison said.

"I see." Emperor Tullegolar stared at Garrison for a moment, trying to decide whether this was a coincidence or whether Garrison was following them. He had seen Garrison nearby before.

Arancaytar sat up. "What happened? Where's Nikki?"

Emperor Tullegolar secretly tucked the pencil into his robes. "He's unconscious, and will probably be so for some time."

Arancaytar stood up. "I knew he liked me, but I didn't realize he was that... unstable."

"You mean he explodes when he dies? It's a good thing you only knocked him unconscious, Tullegolar," Nioca said.

"Not that kind of unstable. I meant that he's seriously disturbed." Arancaytar grabbed the book on scrying and limped out of the forum. Garrison and Nioca picked up the unconscious Nikki and followed. Emperor Tullegolar couldn't take the time now to look around without arousing suspicion, so he unlocked the door as he left so that he could come back later.