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Chapter 24: Aggressive Advertising

Chapter 24: Aggressive Advertising

Dintiradan and Andraste carried Nikki downstairs with Lenar and the Silent Assassin following behind. Andraste and Dintiradan dropped Nikki in a corner. Most Spiderwebbers had chased after the wererat, leaving only Smoo, Wanderer, Randomizer, Zeviz, and the Mystic.

"Where did everyone go?" Lenar asked.

"After the wererat," Smoo said.

"What wererat? What's going on?" Lenar asked.

"I'll explain as much as I know. Come on, let's see what's going on," Andraste said. She, Lenar, and the Silent Assassin exited.

Randomizer finally looked away from the scrying pool and shook his head. "I've looked all over the Blades of Avernum Forum and can't find the summoning machine."

"Maybe it's still too general an area for us to scry it effectively?" Zeviz suggested.

"You look now." Randomizer stepped aside.

Dintiradan snapped Wanderer's shackles and helped him to his feet. "I've got good news. Stareye absolved us from all punishment. Where's the Lurker?"

"He went with the rest. He quit your Legion of Terror," Wanderer said.

"He did what?!" Dintiradan said, "But... but... he was half my legion! Come on!" Dintiradan and Wanderer entered the Tech Support Forum.

Ephesos was halfway through casting return life on Zephyr Tempest while Archmagus Micael watched Zorro combine neon with Galactic Core to revive Dikiyoba.

Ephesos finished with a blinding flash of light and Zephyr Tempest stood up. "This isn't quite what I had planned." He grabbed a copy of Galactic Core.

There was another flash of light as Zorro finished. Dikiyoba got up as well.

"Jumpin' Salmon informed Dikiyoba that he is very tired of being stuck in the Miscellaneous Forum and would like to be revived soon."

"I know." Zephyr Tempest grabbed the last remaining healing potion and ran back to General.

Dikiyoba knelt and picked up a large piece of glass. "Dikiyoba's potions!"

"There's a few left, at least," Ephesos said.

Back in the General Forum, Zeviz looked away from the scrying pool and shook his head. "I couldn't find it. Do you have any ideas?"

"We can scry people easily, though," Randomizer said.

"Yes. Are you suggesting that we send someone to scout out the summoning machine? That kind of defeats the purpose of the scrying pool," Zeviz said, "Smoo, you don't happen to know where the summoning machine is, do you?"

Smoo shrugged. "I'm afraid not."

Zephyr Tempest entered, crossed the room, and climbed the stairs. The Mystic hauled his pack into the coat room and began going through pockets.

"I'll go. The sooner the rats are cleared out, the sooner the GIFTR go back to their hole and stay out of my sight." Randomizer shuddered. "You can track my progress. I'll take Synergy with me. He's pretty stealthy when he wants to be."

"But..." Zeviz said.

"Hey, Mystic. Do you have another recall crystal on you?" Randomizer stepped into the coat room.

The Mystic pulled his pack close. "I might. What do you have to trade?"

"I don't have anything. What about you, Zeviz?" Randomizer said.

"All I have is a cheap watch," Zeviz said.

"Well, I'll find something," Randomizer said, "I'm off to get Synergy now." Randomizer exited.

Smoo examined the Mystic closely. "I don't recognize you. What kind of rat are you?"

"I'm a packrat."

"Oh. So you aren't with the other rats then, are you?" Smoo said.

"Of course not. Then I'd have to share." The Mystic pulled a handful of coins out of a coat pocket and dropped them into his pack. When the Mystic reached into another pocket, Smoo reached into his pack and pulled out a small silver dagger. He quickly pocketed it.


Arancaytar arrived at the Ermarian Network. He carefully examined the outside of it, but the snow wasn't melting hardly at all. It appeared to be safe from flooding for the moment. He let himself inside, grabbed the Magic Flute, and left.


Zephyr Tempest stood on the windowsill. He jumped off with a wild yell. "Woo hoo! Cannonball!" He landed in the lake with a gigantic splash. Then he swam to shore. "Here you go, Stareye." He tossed Stareye the healing potion and hauled himself out of the lake.

Stareye drank the potion and said, "What in the world is going on in there?"

"It's a long story, but basically Dintiradan created a summoning machine and Smoo summoned a bunch of rats from it. Now they're trying to take over the boards," Zephyr Tempest said, "Is it just me, or is it really hot out here?"

"Yes, it's... look out!" The lake had melted some of the snow Stareye and Zephyr Tempest were standing on. Now the snow gave way. Stareye and Zephyr Tempest jumped out of the way as it fell into the lake.

Zephyr Tempest pulled out Galactic Core and handed it to Stareye. "Hold on to this for a moment. Summon manganese!" Zephyr Tempest took Galactic Core back and combined it with the manganese. Tyranicus sat up.

"What's going on? Where am I? Is TM near by?"

"Too much, just outside of the message board, and he won't be back until the Blades of Avernum Judging contest," Stareye replied.

Zephyr Tempest revived Mysterious Man next, and then Jumpin' Salmon. Jumpin' Salmon looked at Tyranicus and Mysterious Man grumpily. "I see Dikiyoba didn't give you my message, otherwise I would have been revived first."

"Hey, I've been dead the longest. It was right that I got to be revived first," Tyranicus said.

Jumpin' Salmon laughed. "But you only..."

"Don't you dare say that I would have only d..." Tyranicus stopped speaking and fell face-forward, an arrow sticking out of his back.

"Huh. That was odd," Jumpin' Salmon said.

Stareye looked around. An adbot was clanking towards them. "Not again," he groaned.

"It looks like he needs some of these pills. They can cure everything. And I'll sell them to you for so cheap that..."

Stareye grabbed the adbot and held its head under the water until it shorted out. He tossed the adbot's body onto the shore. "Until they can cure your stupidity, we're not interested."

Jumpin' Salmon examined the body and came away with a bow and some arrows. "It looks like the adbots are getting aggressive."


"Look!" Zephyr Tempest said, "The snow is melting under the adbot."

Sure enough, a puddle had formed beneath the adbot and trickle of water flowed from it into the lake.

"It's not just there. Look at your feet," Mysterious Man said. The snow around them had softened into slush.

"I thought it was getting warmer," Zephyr Tempest said.

"So it seems that the temperature of the message boards is related to the amount of posting. When we lost a bunch of members and the posting rate plummeted, so did the temperature. But now that some people have been posting an incredible amount..." Stareye looked to Jumpin' Salmon.

"Hey, don't look at me like I was the only one," Jumpin' Salmon said, "Because I wasn't."

"...the temperature's going up again. But that still doesn't explain where all the water came from in the first place," Stareye said.

"You mean I just revived two of the people responsible for the rising temperature? Not fair!" Zephyr Tempest pushed Jumpin' Salmon into the lake. "Don't expect me to revive Tyranicus again, either."

"No, Zephyr. You will," Stareye said.

"Oh, fine. Summon manganese!"

"I'll see you inside." Jumpin' Salmon swam across the lake and climbed the rope as Zephyr Tempest revived Tyranicus again.

"What happened this time?" Tyranicus asked.

"An adbot," Zephyr Tempest said.

"What adbot?" Stareye asked.

"That adbot. Huh?" Zephyr Tempest pointed to the spot where the adbot used to be. The puddle was still there but the body was gone. "But... but how?"

"There never was any adbot. Come on." Stareye jumped into the lake and swam across.