Chapter 18: Got Translator?

In the Miscellaneous Forum, Zeviz sighed in frustration. He left the scrying pool and sat by a fire.

"No luck?" Arancaytar asked.

"No. I thought I saw something once, but only for a split-second. It was probably my imagination."

"What was it?" Arancaytar asked.

"Myself--er, my zombie, I guess--stepping through a door."

"Where?"

"I have no idea."

"Because if it was at Ermarian, then some of the more sensitive places are shielded against scrying. So maybe you did see your, er, zombie for a moment before the shields kicked in."

"Or maybe it was just my imagination. The scrying pool at Spiderweb is already hard to use and this one is far worse. I'm surprised it works at all."

"Does it work?"

"Oh, yes. I can see everything in the Miscellaneous Forum. Just no luck seeing outside of it." Zeviz moved closer to the fire. "Maybe... maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. Maybe it wasn't my imagination, which would mean... I need someone's help."

"I'll do it!" Iffy said.

Zeviz shook his head. "Sorry, I need someone else."

"Why?" Iffy asked.

"I'll help," Jewels said.

"Could... could I help?" Grime Grubber asked.

"Either one of you will work, but I only need one," Zeviz said.

"You do it," Jewels said.

"Okay. What... what am I going to do?" Grime Grubber asked.

"Why?" Iffy repeated.

"Because I need someone who has a body still and yours got eaten," Zeviz said, "Grime, sit at the scrying pool."

"Okay." Grime peered into the can. "It's dark."

"That's because it's unfocused. I'll focus it and you will do the actual looking."

"Why?" Grime Grubber asked.

"It's too difficult for me to focus the pool and look at the same time. Especially since I think the strongest link we have while we are here is to our own bodies and mine is currently in a difficult-to-scry place," Zeviz said, "Let's start with something easy as practice before we try that, though. First, concentrate on..."

---

Ecksian looked around the archives one more time. It was the last room he had to check. Everything had been moved down into the hidden room, so he climbed down into the tunnel and shut the trapdoor. He locked the trapdoor and pulled a small lever. Up top, the bookshelf swung back into position, hiding the trapdoor from view.

"Zombie?"

"Brayns?"

Ecksian gritted his teeth. "Switching letters does not make it a different word."

"Brns?"

"Shut up! You are forbidden to speak unless specifically ordered to!"

Zeviz stood mutely.

"Good. You will stay here. And you will not make any noise whatsoever. If someone actually opens the trapdoor and starts coming down, then you will yell 'Intruders!' as loudly and as frequently as you can. That is the one word you are allowed to use and the only situation you are allowed to use it in. Got that?"

Zeviz still stood there.

"I'll take that as a yes." Ecksian disappeared down the tunnel.

---

Outside, Thuryl stepped out of Shadow Vale with Nemesis in tow. "He's the only one inside. The place doesn't look like it's been attacked or anything."

"I don't suppose you've noticed anything odd about this place?" Drakefyre pointed to the abandoned message board.

Nemesis stared at it. "Huh. How long has that been there?"

"I guess not," Drakefyre said.

"Sorry, I'm not usually very alert when I'm here." Nemesis yawned. "I pretty much come to SV to sleep, unless there's something really exciting going on."

"I don't think it's safe to remain in Shadow Vale for the time being," Drakefyre said, "So..."

"Huh? Why not?" Nemesis asked.

Drakefyre pointed to the abandoned message board.

"Oh. Okay."

"As I was saying, it's not safe, so you should come with us. And we should leave a note to warn anyone else who happens to show up too."

"No, wait. I'm an admin. I can--temporarily--shut Shadow Vale down. I don't want Ecksian to get in." Lazarus stepped inside.

Nioca watched sadly as the lights in Shadow Vale suddenly turned off. "Poor Tyranicus. Imagine how bad he'll feel when he finds out about this."

---

Tyranicus paced the Moderator Board. Both Ephesos and Slartucker were looking through spellbooks.

Ephesos slammed his book shut. "Sorry, Tyranicus. I don't see anything in here that could help. How are you doing, Slartucker?"

"There's nothing in here. After all, the Church of the Nine-Headed Cave Cow believes that the cow is one of the most sacred forms imaginable, so who would want to change back into an inferior form? However, there is a nice cave cow dictionary in here that I'm studying."

Tyranicus mooed.

"Wait... could you repeat that?" Slartucker asked.

Tyranicus mooed again.

"Give me a second... Was it 'After this, possibly you are good for something?'" Slartucker tried.

Tyranicus mooed.

"'Oh, never... spirit?'"

---

The crickets sat on Andraste's shoulder while she dug. Finally, her club hit something that wasn't ground. She set the club aside and scraped the last of the mud away with her hands.

It was Jewels' arm.

"Hey! I found them! I found them!" Andraste grabbed the club and resumed digging.

Smoo returned with the others. "You found them? Ugh!" Smoo stepped back as Andraste unearthed a rat's tail.

"Yeah! Come on!" Andraste said.

Everyone dug until they had recovered three Spiderwebbers, seven rats, and Grime Grubber.

"I think that's all of them," Drakefyre said.

"No! Where's Arancaytar, then?" Nikki shoveled frantically.

"If he was killed in Ermarian like he said he was, he could still be there," Lazarus said.

"Well, I'm not leaving until I'm absolutely sure," Nikki said.

"Fine. You stay here while we take the others back to Spiderweb to be revived. Don't let the bots get you," Drakefyre said.

Nikki grumbled something incomprehensible and kept digging.

---

Grime Grubber and Zeviz still sat at the scrying pool.

Suddenly, Grime Grubber jumped up. "Yes! Yes! They found us! They found us! They're taking us back to Spiderweb!"

"What? Who is?" Marlenny asked.

"There's a bunch of Spiderwebbers, and they dug you, me, Jewels, and Drew up and they're taking us back to Spiderweb! We can be revived soon!" Grime Grubber shouted.

"Concentrate, Grime. We have time to find out where Ecksian and all his bots are before anyone gets revived," Zeviz said, "That way, when someone does get revived, the rest of Spiderweb knows exactly where to look."

"Oh, right." Grime Grubber peered back into the pool.

"Aran, where are the shielded areas?" Zeviz asked.

Arancaytar stood behind them. "My office, obviously, and Endeavor, plus... er, no, wait, that's it, I think."

"All right. I'll start talking when I see something interesting," Grime Grubber said.

---

Nikki threw down the slab of rock he had been using to dig with. Arancaytar simply wasn't buried behind the abandoned message board.

He pulled out his favorite mechanical pencil and clicked it ominously a few times. "With any luck, I will be the one to avenge your death, sweet kitten. Ecksian beware!"

Nikki made his way toward Ermarian.

---

"Well, here's something," Ephesos said.

"What?" Slartucker asked.

"Divine Restoration. It completely heals the beneficiary and cares all negative effects acting on them. Do you think being a cow counts as a negative effect?"

Tyranicus nodded vigorously.

"It's worth a try," Slartucker said.

"Yeah." Ephesos scanned the page. "Wow. It won't be easy to learn."

Tyranicus mooed.

"'It will be...in value it, however. Dispatch you... to the top and learn... the charm, Ephesos,'" Slartucker said.

"Well, of course I will. It'll just take me a while, is all."

There was a knock on the door.

"Yes?" Slartucker asked.

"Is Ephesos in there?" Andraste asked.

"Yeah. What do you want?" Ephesos opened the door.

Tyranicus immediately dove behind the admin panel.

Chrrk! Chrrrk! The crickets leapt off Andraste's shoulder onto Ephesos.

"There you are!" Ephesos said.

Chrrrk!

"Yes, I know. I missed you too."

"Um, what is that?" Andraste pointed to Tyranicus, only half-hidden behind the admin panel.

Slartucker grabbed one of Tyranicus' horns and forced him into the open. "That is Tyranicus."

"Oh. Um, what happened to him?" Andraste asked.

"He got turned into a blue bull, obviously," Ephesos said.

"Well, whatever you do, just don't get turned into a baby seal." Andraste twirled her club.

Tyranicus mooed.

"'Do... offenses never finish?'"

Tyranicus mooed angrily.

"'That is not... that I said on their... premises!' Huh?"

Tyranicus mooed.

"Oh. 'That is not what I said at all.' That makes more sense."

"Er, I need to go, so... Ephesos, we've brought some people back to be revived and Diki said a batch of Balms of Life was just about ready. See you after we deal with Ecksian," Andraste walked off.

"Great. Tyranicus, I'll be back as soon as I'm finished," Ephesos said.

Tyranicus mooed.

"Re-establishment... of my Nine-Headed Cave Cow... first should be... thrown? I don't think I quite got that one. Would you repeat it?" Slartucker asked.

Tyranicus facehooved.