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Chapter 16: The Snow Stops

Chapter 16: The Snow Stops

Meanwhile, back in General, Dintiradan looked over and saw that the Lurker wasn't guarded.

"Lurker. Help me." Dintiradan mouthed the words carefully.

Lurker shook his head and mouthed the words, "I don't want to be banned."

Dintiradan watched Andraste. She still wasn't paying much attention. He quietly stood up and walked over. "What do you mean by that?" he whispered.

The Lurker shook his head again. "I don't want to get in trouble," he whispered.

"We won't get in too much trouble. And we certainly won't be banned. It's still snowing. Banning us from the board now would be a death sentence."

Andraste suddenly realized the Dintiradan was not where he should be. "Hey!"

"Come on, Lurker!" Dintiradan dashed upstairs.

"No! Not me! I didn't do anything!" The Lurker didn't move.

"Wait for me!" Wanderer attempted to get up, but stopped when MagmaDragoon drew his sword.

"Get back here!" Andraste followed Dintiradan upstairs, waving her club wildly.

Randomizer groaned when he saw that the Lurker wasn't guarded. "Where's Emperor Tullegolar? I guess I'll have to do it until he comes back."

Dintiradan made it to the room that Alorael liked to snipe from and slammed the door shut. He leaned against it as Andraste began beating on the door with her club. "Open the door and come down right now, you hear me?"

Dintiradan fumbled to lock the door with his hands shackled together. Finally, he managed it and slumped into a chair while watching the door shudder under Andraste's blows. "Give it up! I'm safe in here!" Dintiradan said.

The blows stopped. "Well, you have to come out of there eventually. I'll be waiting right here when you do." Andraste sat down on the top step and waited.


Downstairs, Arancaytar, Nioca, Garrison, and Emperor Tullegolar arrived. Garrison set Nikki, still unconscious, down.

"Here's the book," Arancaytar tossed the book Zeviz.

"What happened to Nikki?" Jewels asked.

"He's completely lost his mind. He tried to kill me," Arancaytar said.

"It looks like Nikki will need guarding, too. Who will volunteer?" Randomizer asked.

"I'll do it," Jewels said.

"Good. Thank you. And you, Emperor Tullegolar, why weren't you guarding the Lurker like you were supposed to?" Randomizer said.

"Because I talked to him. He said he wouldn't escape, and I believe him," Emperor Tullegolar said.

"Well, he didn't try to escape when Dintiradan did," Jewels said.

"Still, Tullegolar shouldn't have left the Lurker unguarded," Randomizer said.

"I'll go guard him again, if that would make you happy," Emperor Tullegolar said.

"It would," Randomizer said. He waited until Emperor Tullegolar stood beside the Lurker, and then rejoined Zeviz and Archmagus Micael. They were flipping through the book, trying to find the design that would work the best.

"What about this one?" Archmagus asked.

Zeviz looked at it. "Too complicated. I don't think we could do it."

"Or this one?"

"I don't like the looks of it," Randomizer said.

There was a flash of light and Drakefyre and the others from the Avernum Trilogy Forum appeared.

"Well, where are we?" Ephesos asked.

Synergy looked around. "Back in the General Forum."

"Hey, Zephyr. You're alive! Come help me convince Zeviz and Randomizer that I've identified the best design for a scrying pool," Archmagus Micael said.

"We're building a scrying pool? Neat! I'll help," Zephyr Tempest said.

"There's a rat with you!" Fatman said.

"I'm the Mystic."

"He's with us. I think," Ephesos said.

"A friendly rat. That's interesting," Nioca said.

"Just watch your stuff. He's a packrat," Student of Trinity said.

"It seems that the rat infestation is more serious than I originally thought. I'm calling a meeting right now," Drakefyre said, "All moderators must attend." Drakefyre looked around. "Stareye and Kelandon are still away, unfortunately, but everyone else is here. Wait a minute. Where's Saunders?"

The trapdoor to the fluffy turtle pit opened up and Saunders climbed out, holding a baby fluffy turtle so emaciated it looked as though it might slide out of its shell at any moment. "These poor turtles. They've gone without much food for two months and without any for the past week. They're so hungry I could hardly keep them from eating my account again. If they don't get sanity soon, they'll starve to death. What will we do?" Saunders slammed the trapdoor shut as a starving fluffy turtle lunged at her.

"We'll discuss that in the meeting," Drakefyre said, "Come on."

Jadewolf followed behind the moderators until Delicious Vlish stopped him. "What do you think you're doing? You're not a mod."

"I am too. I'm Imban. Everyone knows that," Jadewolf said.

"This is not the time for jokes," Delicious Vlish said.

"But... okay, fine." Jadewolf returned to the General Forum.

Emperor Tullegolar fumed silently while he guarded the Lurker. Now that the mods were in the Moderator Board, they would notice that it was unlocked and lock it. He wouldn't get a chance to look around the Moderator Board after all.

Garrison approached Emperor Tullegolar. He seemed slightly nervous.

"What do you want?" Emperor Tullegolar snapped.

Garrison took a deep breath. "I think I know what you're up to," he whispered, "We've all heard you bragging about how you want to be an emperor. And I've seen you talking with Nemesis and Nioca. I think you're getting all the recent arrivals on your side so you can take over."

"What? How... how did... you're..." Emperor Tullegolar sputtered.

"I can tell by your response that I'm right. So, I want to join you," Garrison said.

Emperor Tullegolar hesitated.

"You don't really have a choice. I could tell everyone right now what you're up to, and then you'll be in trouble. Or you could accept me. Do we have a deal?"

Emperor Tullegolar stuck his hand out to shake. "I have to admit, you're smarter than you look. Don't get too ambitious, though, or I'll have to eliminate you. I don't tolerate rivals. It's a deal."

"Good." Instead of shaking Emperor Tullegolar's hand, Garrison dropped a key into it.

"Where did you get this?" Emperor Tullegolar asked.

"It's Arancaytar's key to the Moderator Board. I took it while I was waiting for him to regain consciousness."

Emperor Tullegolar smiled. Today was his lucky day.

After a bit of arguing, the mages finally decided on a design they all liked.

"All right. Our goal is clear, the design is determined, let's get to work," Zeviz said, "We need a bucket of water, graymold, hornet glands, and coffee grounds."

"The water and graymold will be easy, but what about the hornet glands?" Archmagus Micael asked.

"My spray acid spell should serve as a substitute," Randomizer said.

"And what about the coffee?" Archmagus Micael asked.

"I bet Arancaytar has some, and I bet I can find it." Zephyr Tempest ran off towards the kitchen.

Upstairs, Dintiradan was trying to slip free of the shackles. They had faded more, but they were still holding his hands together tightly. "From now on, I carry some sort of anti-magic device with me at all times." He paused and looked out the window. "Huh. It's not snowing anymore."

Downstairs, Ephesos suddenly stopped what he was doing. "Yay! It's stopped snowing."

"Really?" Jadewolf asked.

"Yes, I can sense it warming up. But why so suddenly and quickly?" Ephesos said.


About the same time, Marlenny peered out of one of the windows of Shadow Vale. "Hey, the snow has stopped."

"It has?" Lazarus opened the door. A surprisingly warm breeze hit him. "It has. In fact, it's warmer out there than it is in here. The snow is already beginning to melt."