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Chapter 5: The Calm Before...

Chapter 5: The Calm Before...

Alorael looked through the scope of his sniper rifle at two figures that had just rounded a corner. Ephesos and Synergy. Not pedestrians. Alorael frowned. He hated this weather. Very few pedestrians went out into it. Alorael was forced to resort to... well, Arctic Wolf and the bad weather weren't entirely to blame for the recent lack of newbs at Spiderweb. Alorael reached for a bottle of skribbane, only to discover that it had frozen again.

"This is ridiculous!" Alorael muttered, "No pedestrians and frozen skribbane? This foul weather has got to be stopped. Or better yet, never have begun in the first place. Yes, I think a trip to the Richard White Games Forum is in order."

Alorael shouldered his rifle, picked up the skribbane, and went downstairs. Ephesos and Synergy were warming themselves by the fire next to Enraged Slith and Frozen Feet. Dintiradan, the Lurker, and Wanderer were still collecting spam.

"Have you thought of a way to protect ourselves from the snakes yet?" whispered Wanderer.

"I have indeed. Behold!" Dintiradan produced the Harmonious Discord thread.

"But isn't that Tyranicus's?" the Lurker asked.

"So? He's not here right now. He won't miss it. Besides, once created, threads belong to everyone," Dintiradan said.

"But how will the thread help us?" Wanderer asked.

"The music will calm the snakes down if they get too close to us. Now, I think we have enough spam. Let's go," Dintiradan said.

Dintiradan, the Lurker, and Wanderer reached the door to the Tech Support Forum at the same time Alorael did.

"Where are you going?" Alorael asked.

"We're going to the Blades of Avernum Forum to, um, take a look at the, er, scenario I'm designing," Dintiradan said.

"I see."

"Now, where are you going?" Dintiradan asked.

"To the Richard White Games Forum." Alorael said.

"Good idea," said Student of Trinity.

"I want to come too," Rakshasi said.

Zorro looked up from Galactic Core. "I'll come as well."

The seven of them descended into the Tech Support Forum. One half of the forum was a garage, where tools and mechanical parts were stored. There were living tools, non-living tools, shovels, picks, locks, lockpicks, springs, wires, spare copies of every game (except Homeland), screws, screwdrivers, spellcheckers, spare ammunition for Alorael's sniper rifle, nuts, bolts, threadlocker, hammers, nails, a helium tank, gears, wheels, sellable trowels, unsellable trowels, and many other things too numerous to mention. There were also two crates. One held the disassembled Deth Ray. The other held the antimatter machine. The other half of the forum was a small infirmary. There were several beds and a large cupboard containing first aid kits, alchemical ingredients, and potions of every kind.

Next, they entered the Announcements Forum, a long, narrow hallway with large copies of the Code of Conduct pinned to the wall with brilliantly-colored posters advertising Geneforge 4 tacked between them. Occasionally, they passed the tattered and faded remains of older announcements. Then they passed the locked door that led to the Moderator Board.

"We haven't had a good quilting session in ages," Alorael muttered, "After I take care of the weather, I'll have to fix that."

Beyond the door to the Moderator Board was the Avernum 4 Forum. Torches lit the main path, but the multitude of side tunnels and passages were lost in darkness. Student of Trinity looked at all the spam that Wanderer and the Lurker were carrying.

"What's all that spam for?" he asked.

"To, uh, throw at Dintiradan if, um, his scenario isn't good enough," said the Lurker.

"Now that's an interesting idea. Odd, but interesting," Student of Trinity said.

They ducked under a line of yellow construction tape (the Geneforge 4 Forum was still under construction) and nearly collided with Delicious Vlish.

Delicious Vlish looked surprised to see them, but recovered quickly. "Have you seen Zephyr Tempest recently?" he asked.

"No. Why?" Rakshasi asked.

"Because Smoo came through, and he asked me to ask anyone who passed through," Delicious Vlish said.

"But what are you doing here?" Student of Trinity asked.

"I'm anticipating the release of Geneforge 4. Let me tell you, it's going to be a very good game. And melee has been much improved. Running up and clobbering things has never been so much fun."

"But now? The game still won't be out for a while," Rakshasi said.

"Heh. Well, let's just say that since melee has been improved, part of my anticipation includes a strenuous workout. You do not want to be on the receiving end of my feisty tentacle slap of pain now," Delicious Vlish said.

"I don't think I've ever wanted to receive a feisty tentacle slap of pain. Bye, Vlish," Student of Trinity said.

When they were gone, Delicious Vlish sighed in relief. "Thank goodness they didn't realize what I was really up to." He pulled out a bottle of moisturizing skin lotion and resumed rubbing it on himself. "No one would be scared of a vlish with dry, flaky skin, after all."


In the Blades of Avernum Forum, Smoo searched for Zephyr Tempest. "Zephyr! Zephyr! Are you here? Answer me!" he yelled. After searching the plains, he climbed the path that led to the mountains. "Zephyr! Where are you?"

Dintiradan, Wanderer, the Lurker, Alorael, Student of Trinity, Zorro, and Rakshasi entered.

"Come on, you two. Let's go, uh, play that scenario!" Dintiradan led the Lurker and Wanderer off towards the mountains.

"Zephyr Tempest! Answer if you can hear me!" Smoo yelled.

Dintiradan panicked. "Smoo's here! And it sounds like he's in the mountains! We must stop him from finding the summoning machine, even if we have to kill him, or else he could ruin everything!" Dintiradan pulled out Homeland and ran up the path. The Lurker and Wanderer dropped the spam they were carrying into a pile and ran after him.


In Room: Spidweb, the chat was finishing up.

Marlenny yawned. "I'm getting tired. When are we going to head back?"

Alec and Ash Lael listened to the insulting messages that Terror's Martyr wanted to give several people back on the boards.

"...and you can tell Emperor Tullegolar that he is nothing more than a brain-dead ****** ******, and Kingy that he is a ****** drunken *******, and Kelandon is a..."

"But you've already insulted him three times tonight," Ash Lael said.

"I have some ****** catch-up work to do!"

"Is everyone ready to head back?" Stareye asked.

"Wait," Tyranicus said. He grabbed the log of the chat. "Now I am."

"I'll guess we'll see you later then?" Lazarus asked TM.

"******** no, I have some insults to some ******* ****** I want to deliver personally."

"But you're banned!" Lazarus said.

"So? I'll just shout them when the ******** door opens," Terror's Martyr said.

With Tyranicus and Stareye leading, the group started back to the message boards. Terror's Martyr walked alongside Ash Lael and Alec. "Where was I?" he asked.

"Kelandon," Alec said.

"Oh, right. Tell that ******* ****** ****** that..."

"I'm right here! I can hear you!" Kelandon said. He and Marlenny were walking hand-in-hand just a few feet away.

"Why the ******* do I ****** care?"