After Teleporting, Arianna lands on her face on the stone floor of a different room. It is brightly lit, with no light source visible. Each of the four walls is a mirror. She can see herself from many angles and repeated multiple times. Mirrors of this quality are rare and he has not dreamed so many could exist. She then notes they may just be highly shined metal and not glass. Less expensive, but still impressive.
She sees no doors and the only items in the room are four circular metal plates built into the middle of the floor in a square pattern.
Inspecting them, she notes each is about one foot wide and all seamlessly blend with the stone floor.
Stepping onto one, she is immediately Teleported to a different room. This one looks just like the last, except it is half the size and has only two Teleporters on the floor.
With a frown, she steps onto the left of the two circles. As she does, she catches a glimpse of SeLiem appearing within the room she is leaving – but it is too late, she is already somewhere else. Now, she is in a room with only one Teleporter. She notices something very strange. One of her images is not her image at all – but Deathwish. It must not be a mirrored wall, but another room and Deathwish is there. As she moves toward him, something even more strange happens: All three of her reflections and Deathwish all run at her angrily. Arianna is under attack from all sides and from three of those sides by herself!
The attackers all look normal, except their hands are replaced by claws. Only two strike her, but much of her blood is spilled.
Arianna steps off the Teleporter and uses Iflander to attack the mirror from which Deathwish emerged.
She strikes at the mirror, but it is actually an adjoining room, so she is thrown off balance. The four villains surround and attack her and she is barely able to get back onto a Teleporter before they finish her off.
She reappears in another mirrored room with two Teleporters in it, alongside SeLiem, who is standing there startled by her sudden appearance.
Arianna quickly asks Iflander to heal her and then says to Seliem, “Please be Seliem, I have already fought and been severely wounded by people who looked like myself and Deathwish.”
As Arianna feels the sword’s healing power, SeLiem answers her thusly: “Injured . . . how fortunate – for me!” He then grows long claws and moves menacingly toward her.
“Dammit Iflander! Why aren’t you telling me these things are evil?” she asks, as she moves to attack and then jumps onto the Teleporter.
“You have to ask me. Frankly, you ask for my assistance so seldomly that it hurts my feelings,” Iflander answers, as Arianna travels to the next room. The new area is much like the others, but this time Melias is in the room.
Arianna says to Iflander, “Should I attack now or wait until the claws come out?” As she finishes her question she takes a guarded position.
“He’s alright – it’s the other two with whom you need to be concerned,” the sword answers.
Arianna peeks around and notices SeLiem appears in all the mirrors, too.
“Melias! Seems like we’re going to get our asses kicked,” Arianna announces, before pointing to the mirrors.
Arianna’s comment is interrupted by ‘Melias’, who says, “None for me, thanks,” as he makes a mark on the floor in chalk and touches a Teleporter.
Arianna finds herself alone, as two duplicates of SeLiem step forward to attack her.
Bounding for a Teleporter, Arianna thinks to Iflander, That didn’t sound at all like Melias.
Two claws flash at her, but she dematerializes before they connect. As she appears in a new room, this one with two Teleporters, Iflander answers, “Really? I thought it did.”
Melais wouldn’t ditch someone like that, Arianna says within her mind, as she steps forward.
As she searches the room, no attacks come. She discovers she is left with no way out – except the Teleporters. Then someone appears in the middle of the room. It looks like a very injured Raven. ‘Raven’ eyes Arianna suspiciously.
“Not to be impolite, but who am I, what’s your name and what were you recently?” ‘Raven’ asks, then stands ready to touch the Teleporter with her foot.
Before Arianna can answer, ‘Kafeera’ (and soon, ‘Deathwish’) appear behind ‘Raven’.
Arianna holds Iflander, the greatsword, above her head, ready to strike.
Kafeera lands on her butt on the stone floor of a different room. The room is brightly lit (although no light source is visible) and each of the four walls is a mirror. She can see herself from many angles and her reflection is repeated multiple times. Mirrors of this quality are rare and Kafeera has not dreamed so many could exist in one place. She then notes they are not glass mirrors, but highly shined metal. Less expensive, but still impressive. She sees no doors and the only items in the room are four circular metal plates built into the middle of the floor in a square pattern.
She snarls at the mirrors, as she reaches into her pocket and retrieves a coin. She tosses it at the mirror before her. The coin bounces off harmlessly. Repeating the action for the other three walls produces the same result.
Using her halberd to put pressure on the floor ahead of her with each step, she approaches the mirrored wall on the left, then taps it with her weapon.
“Cursed mages! Can’t leave nothin’ be – can you?”
Growling, she returns to the center of the four circles and presses the halberd onto one of the discs. When nothing happens, she steps onto it and is Teleported into a new room.
The first thing she notices is she is not alone. In an adjoining room, Claire is waving at her with her index finger held to her lips. They each seem to be in similar spaces with three mirrored walls and a single teleportation plate in the middle of the floor. There is a duplicate section between them, but with no plates on the floor and Claire is walking toward it.
Kafeera points the halberd at Claire.
Claire stops immediately and stares indignantly at Kafeera.
They both pause to listen to the muffled sound of a woman screaming. The woman is calling for help. Kafeera recognizes the voice as Claire’s. The screams are coming from somewhere else beyond the walls, but she cannot tell which direction.
Keeping Claire at the end of her halberd, Kafeera shouts, “Halt! Speak now the truth or I’ll have your head. What did you do to anger me when we first met?”
Claire looks puzzled, then smiles and looks to her right. Running at them with his sword aloft is a snarling Deathwish. He emerges from what Kafeera had thought was a mirrored wall between the rooms, but what she now understands is a different room. Concerned the other side might also be a room, she glances to the right, but sees her reflection. Looking back at Claire, with one eye on the approaching Henchman, it occurs to her she saw only her reflection to the right and not that of Claire or Deathwish! In that moment of hesitation and confusion, Claire, Deathwish, and ‘Kafeera’ attack her. Her armor deflects Deathwish’s blow and Claire cannot get close enough to reach her. Her duplicate claws at her, but she dodges.
Deathwish screams, “Move back, my lady, I will handle this vile traitor!”
Kafeera’s deft footwork places her in a defensible position against her foes, as she shouts angrily at Deathwish, “You fool, that is not Claire! Ask her how the two of you met? Listen and you’ll hear your Claire screaming elsewhere!”
After taking a step back and listening, Deathwish remarks, “I hear no screaming.”
Indeed, the screams have ended.
“You’ll not trick me!” he shouts as he spins his sword above his head in an attempt to back Kafeera into the middle of the group.
Kafeera has no choice but to back up into the room she started in as the three press their attack.
Kafeera’s duplicate tells Deathwish, “She is some sort of evil twin. I would never harm Claire – get her!” in a voice nearly identical to Kafeera’s.
Deathwish is surprised to see two Kafeera’s, but he believes the duplicate and attacks Kafeera savagely. His weapon bounces off her armor again, but his greatly augmented might pushes her at the two women and Claire claws her in the neck.
“Dammit, you fool, only the real me would know the real Claire’s love interest, so ask her and be quick about it, perhaps it’s not too late to save the real Claire. Hell, what can it hurt? Ask her! It is they who deceive you!” Kafeera shouts, as she swings her halberd side to side before her, to keep her attackers at bay.
Pausing, Deathwish pauses and asks ‘Claire’, “Who are you in love with?”
“Well, she loves you, of course,” ‘Kafeera answers.
“Sadly – no!” he shouts and hacks ‘Claire’ so hard with his long sword that she falls back into the mirror behind her and bounces onto the floor.
Kafeera has never witnessed such a powerful blow and seeing it land on a friend’s double unnerves her greatly.
“Their hands are claws! They are both monsters!” he shouts.
After a nod, Kafeera lands a minor blow on her duplicate, then presses the attack.
The copies continue to attack, but are more tentative, nervous, and ineffective.
Kafeera strikes again. This time it lands very solidly and her twin shrinks back, injured greatly.
Swiging wildly two more times, Deathwish misses both times.
Kafeera hits both times, vanquishing her foe, who then reverts to her true form – a naked and almost faceless demi-human.
The fake Claire scratches Deathwish, but cannot breach his magical armor spell.
Enraged, he hacks her hard, knocking her off her feet and back several feet. She turns and runs for the Teleporter, but he chops her down from behind. As she dies, he stands over her.
“Sorry, my lady . . . ” he whispers. As she changes forms, his sadness ends and he spins to face Kafeera, “Sorry, Kafeera. I should have . . . ” He shakes his head. “What now? Where is the real Claire?” he asks.
Relieved Deathwish has come around, she cannot help but feel sorry for the fool. Remaining in a defensive pose, she glances about expecting more of the beasts to leap forth from the walls and says, “Fret not; she must be near. I know I heard her. Besides, that one that looked like her must have seen her. How else would it know to look like her? You haven’t seen anyone else have you?” Not waiting for an answer she says, “Lets go!”
Deathwish only nods in reply and the two of them thoroughly search the entire area. They find no way out – except the Teleporters.
Kafeera says, “Looks like we have no choice.” She heads in the direction of the Teleporter the fake Claire had appeared to have used.
The two step on the Teleporter (only one is transported at a time, though) and appear in a room with what appears to be a badly injured Raven. Deathwish does nothing when he appears, waiting for Kafeera to tell him what to do.
Slowly approaching ‘Raven’ with her halberd outstretched, she says, “Claire are you ok?”
‘Raven’ asks a similar question, almost simultaneously. “Kafeera, Deathwish – or more imposters?”
Smiling, Deathwish moves forward, then stops and looks skeptically at ‘Raven’.
Considering she knows thier names, Kafeera believes it to be Raven. “We are your friends, Raven. Can you walk?” Looking about for another teleporting device, she says, “Deathwish, please, help the lady.”
‘Raven’ backs away. “You called me Claire, you’re not my friends,” she says, as she touches the Teleporter at her feet.
“Was that the real her?” he asks, scratching his head. “She looked injured badly. Did you see her throat?”
Kafeera had seen the claw marks on ‘Raven’s’ throat. Whoever she was, she was close to death.
“Now what?” he asks.
Kafeera mutters, “It had to be her. How else would she know our names? We’re following her.” With that, she touches the same teleporter as Raven. Following her, she explains, “Raven, if I were not Kafeera and he not Deathwish how would we know your true name? I called you Claire in order to see if you were the real Raven. If you are still unsure, ask something only we’d know.” After saying her piece, she spots someone that looks like Arianna standing in the corner in front of ‘Raven’.
‘Arianna’ looks at the three of them and says, “So who’s going to sprout the claws this time? Everyone I know from our group has either grown claws and attacked or ditched me. This is becoming less and less fun.”
Revealing her own wounds, Kafeera says, “Have you seen any of the others? Rastorn? I heard Claire scream. Would we know of her if we were one of those clawed creeps?”
At almost the same time, ‘Raven’ (looking a little wild-eyed) giggles and says, “Heh, well . . . something only you’d know? Problem is, I only met you days ago and don’t really know your life stories. For the record – Raven’s not my real name. It’s a nickname, but that doesn’t really matter now. Alright, I had a wand. What were the words inscribed on it and who did I give it to? And who did that person pass it on to?”
Kafeera shrugs, “I don’t remember the word for it, but last I recall Deathwish here had it at the firepit, putting out the flames. Not sure whose hands it fell into after that.” Looking at DW she finishes, “Did you give it to Seliem?” Already convinced they are her fellow companions before her and not the clawed monsters, she relaxes her attention a bit on them and looks about.
“And I’m starting to think no one’s answering my questions ’cause they don’t know the answer,” ‘Raven’ says, suspiciously.
After Kafeera, Deathwish, and Arianna all share stories and answer all of Raven’s questions, they gather in a circle and start discussing what to do next.
To be continued!
To be continued . . .
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