Part 2

On the bright side, these new people are certainly not boring. I mean not that I'd take any of them home to meet Mom and Dad, heck it took the human almost an entire day to just tell me his name, Darius, and I certainly won't be telling them I'm not an elf, but they are different and look like they need someone around who's not quite so gloomy, serious, or pryo happy. Though I think I have to watch the Gimfen, he's smarter than he looks. But then again, I know all about that.
We went to collect our winnings amongst cheers of fascinated spectators. Apparently, not many people finish this in one day. Who knew? Sadly, the money was stolen out of the safe it was put in by someone burning a small hole in the metal. Baron Wildheart, a dog-humanesque hybrid with interesting and noble if utilitarian tastes, told us we had two options: We could wait for him to get more money (a few days) or go after the thieves no one else would. I had nothing else planned so I was all for going after them. I even found a bright side of going after them ourselves, I think it'll help the human a bit. He looked so nervous standing there with "us" as he put it,
that I think traveling with the others will do him good. They look safe…ish, at the very least he might learn something new. And, as I said, I have nothing better to do. :)
The thieves left a calling card of sorts. A playing card with a black rose with red thorns on it. Baron Wildheart informed us they must have been members of the Red Thorn. Never would have worked that one out. Naru pulls out his computer thingy (I think it's called a PDA) and starts typing. Turns out the Red Thorns have a bounty on their heads. This perks Darius up a bit. I guess he needs money. Amber Moon seems agreeable, I think anything to get out and stretch her legs. We each ask for a little time to pick up a few supplies. Amber Moon goes looking for some Druid stuff while Naru and Iggy hunt for batteries. I'm off to find that healer who owes me and maybe get a few more cow potions. Darius goes hunting ammunition. I wonder if I should worry that he asked "What kinds of bullets hurt fey creatures like you?" Or that Wildheart told him. Or that he went off muttering to himself "Where can I get Cold Iron?" Nah, I'm sure it'll be fine.

    Wildheart lends us each a genebred horse. I go up to mine, tell it it's a "good horsie," and pet it while offering to put pink ribbons in it's hair. I hear the others all groan softly and see Darius roll his eyes. I smile a little. The horse nuzzles against me. I think it almost understands. Since I left my village, I've learned that saying the occasional off remark while not letting on that you have the brains the Light gave a gnat, others are less likely to look too closely at you. My naturally
cheery disposition helps with this, but out of nowhere a slight giggle or a twist of my hair and others are less likely to question why I have white hair and orange eyes. Just like a willingness to jump into a situation where it looks like you gave something no thought (whether you did or did not); do this and others are less likely to notice that you can't see well in sunlight or that your ears are a little chewed up. It really does save a lot of headaches. 0_0
It was pretty uneventful following the thieves to their hideout. Heck, they didn't do that good of a job hiding their tracks. A blind human-bat man could have tracked them in blinding sunlight. I had no trouble picking up the trial and Amber Moon is probably more skilled at this than I am, so I'm sure she was bored out of her mind. That might explain why she was so quiet. Or it was because the human called her short before we got on the horses, I'm not sure. Either way, it was short work getting to their hideout. It's a lovely vault built into a small cave. Naru giggled as he bounced up to the metal door. Within seconds he had hacked into it and slid it open. Inside, two Pagus were standing guard. Rather than ask for our money, Naru opts to shoot first. Interesting tactic, I can't wait to see where this leads. A very short battle later and it seems to lead to two dead Pagus. Darius remarks that it seems a little "teckie in here" for guys who just tried to slice us up with longswords. Hmm, lights glowing from the ceiling, vault doors shut with an electronic code, holes melted in safes, he might be right. We start speculating about what's going on, but none of us have any really good ideas. We finally decide to try to get one of the alive so we can ask it questions. I presume the shooting will then follow. :-p

Though I never did like guns much. To me they seem to lack an elegance inherent in bladed weapons. From what I've seen there's little to do to kill someone other than pointing it and pulling a trigger. No finesse, no visceral feeling/reaction. no real sense of accomplishment, no give and take; but I digress. Naru unlocks the next set of doors and inside is a sleeping victim. Slowly he, Darius, and I make our way towards him. I kind of trip, but manage not to wake him up. Naru looks at me and hands me a set of handcuffs. I'm not sure why he thought I could move quietly enough to do this. I look at Darius and smile as I hand him the cuffs and point to the drunk, unconscious Pagus. Either I was unclear or the handcuffs Darius' people use are very strange. He deftly, and impressively I might add, sneaks up behind the Pagus and jams one of his guns in his open mouth and the other at the back of his head. This wakes him up. Darius asks him where our money is and, in a surprisingly sober moment, the Pagus reaches for his weapon and Darius pulls the trigger turning his head into a mash of goo and teeth. I look at Naru "I don't think he know how to use handcuffs." Naru shrugs and off  we go to the next room.

    This is a kitchen, and now that I know how Pagus eat I don't think I'm going to eat again for some time. What looked like it might be some sort of cut up animal, turned out to have a Red Thorn armband attached to it. Not a good sign. Naru finds a small, very dark room. As Darius covers both doors in the room, I offer to stick my head inside and take a peak. Before getting my head totally in, I can see it's littered with body parts. Naru looks at me as I step in and asks "You can see in there without any light?" Damn, he is smart. Luckily before I can answer a giant centipede pokes its head up and charges me. Which really would have sucked if I couldn't see in
total darkness. I yell that there's a giant icky bug (0~0) attacking me as I swing at it then dive out of the room.
Apparently Darius doesn't quiet understand the concept of "giant bug" or thought that   since I was a girl I was exaggerating the size. I bring this up as Naru and Iggy shoot and chainsaw it, but Darius seems intent on panicking and shooting. A few scimitar slices and a good pounding by all leads to Iggy cutting the centipede in half. Since everyone is intently staring at the giant bug halves, no one pays attention as I go back into the room and poke around. I come out with news that the Red Thorn gang is dead (about 2 days) and that I have their armbands for proof and payment as well as our gold. We all look at each other until Naru asks the question we're all thinking. "If the Red Thorn gang is dead, who are these guys?" Reluctantly, we decide to take a little look around before heading back.

    The third room we enter is covered in dust so it's easy to see the foot prints leading in and out. There are tons of chests, all empty, lining the walls. It looks like they were dragged in here and then emptied. The fourth room is far more interesting, and deadly. ^_^  Naru hears something inside and carefully opens the door. Across from the open door, two more Pagus are standing guard watching an identical door on the other side of the room. Naru sends Iggy in, but as he's going to dig his chainsaw into their softer parts, he's hit from behind by two more Pagus guarding the door we came through. Slowly we pour into the room, but Iggy gets the worst of it for a bit and goes down. I feel a little bad, but I guess that’s what he’s for, and he did take down one of them before dropping. Still, I hope he can be fixed soon. Naru takes it about as well as can be expected, and shot at a them. The most impressive feat of the battle came surprisingly from Darius. Turns out that there were more not so nice guys in the room than we thought. One of them had somehow made himself invisible and while Naru, Amber, her elemental, and I were trying to slice and shoot, he was stalking us unseen. While the rest of us were kind of boxed into a corner, Darius got super quiet and seemed to focus. In one swift move he tumbled in-between two of the Pagus, pulled both his guns and fired at two different targets. It was actually pretty impressive. He’s been holding out on us. I knew this trip would do him good. (^.^)
This awesome show of talent however, ended up with him getting surrounded. And hit, a couple of times. Pretty badly. Still this sudden burst of creativity inspired him to try again. Though surrounded, he tumbled through one of the Pagus’ legs and attempted to kick a chair at his legs hoping to knock the Pagus over. Instead he fell into the chair and looked at the monster in front of him. “You’re not impressed, but you would be if that had worked,” he quipped as he ducked out of the way of the not impressed Pagus’ spear. He landed at Amber Moon’s feet, who quickly threw a healing spell on him. He looked a little reluctant to have her do it, which was surprising since he was bleeding badly. I didn’t understand until he tried to fire his guns again and one jammed. Oh! The technology killing field spells give off. Damn, I forgot about that. Naru shouted out that he could fix it, but Darius didn’t seem to want to part with his gun. With that it took a bit, but we managed to kill all but one, but when we tried to interrogate him, we discovered that he didn’t speak any of the languages we did. o_O This could present a problem, but without a second to discuss Darius shoots him square in the head. Hmm…he has an interesting take on diplomacy.

Fortunately, the guy Darius shot was living in the bedroom just to the right and he had some pretty neat stuff. He’s dead so I guess he won’t mind. Some jewelery (a black diamond ring), gold, and really good wine. For a Pagus, he’s got really good taste! There’s a painting inside and though it’s old, you can see that the people in it are wearing the same outfit as the Baron. Naru scans it with his electronic thing. This is getting weirder, and we’re thinking maybe this was all a setup by the Baron. We decide to look a little more into this place before heading back.

We could either go all the way back to where we came into the complex or go up the slightly windy staircase. Naru sets a grenade trap at the opening of the stairs in case something tries to sneak up on us. He also fixed Darius’ gun, much to Dariu’s surprise. All of us headed up the stairs, except the now dead robot. Poor Iggy is left waiting in the room till we get back. Someone, I think it was Amber, suggests a silent approach since we don’t know what’s up there. I’m graceful, not stealthy, so Darius “happily” volunteers. Turns out silent and careful are two different things. Look at all we’re learning!! Darius reaches almost the top of the first landing and, as he puts his foot down on the step, something clicks. Darius starts coughing, then Naru. Then they both start feeling sick. Naru races to the bottom and carefully steps over his grenade trap, then throws up; Darius just does it right there on the steps. o.O Amber Moon and I seem fine. I say it must be the heart elf blood and smile. Darius musters some inner reserve and tries to make it above the noxious gas cloud that seems to be flowing down the stairs only to trip the one on the next level. This time he races down the stairs, leaps Naru’s trap, lands gracefully, and then expels the remains of his stomach. Amber and I look at each other shrug as we head down the stairs. It takes a few minutes before either Naru or Darius can speak. I ask Darius if he’s going to finish and he looks at me funny. Naru says he can disarm the rest of the traps. Well, I can’t very well let him go up there alone can I ? Amber agrees to stay and watch Darius.

Slowly we make our way up the stairs, Naru checking every inch as we walk. He steps on the spot that triggered the first trap, and nothing happens. The same thing happens on the second set. He sticks to the right side of the stairs and there’s no other traps, at least on this side. There is a door at the top off this third landing. He listens intently at the door, but hears nothing. We decide to go back and get the others. I tell Darius the good news: His clever way of disarming the traps seems to have worked since they didn’t reset and there’s a clear path to the top. ^_^  He stares at me then gets up and walks to the door. I don’t think he likes me much. T_T Oh well, I’ll have to work on that, or have fun with it at least.

We all head up the door, which was really easy to unlock. The room’s filled with computers and other electronic blinking lights. Way too advanced for the Pagus we’ve seen to be able to use. There’s a black orb on a pedestal in the middle of the room. It kind of looks a little like the black diamond ring we found. Amber Moon and decide that since technology isn’t always our friend, we should stay out of the room for now. Naru’s practically giddy as he fixes the power supply and gets the computers online. Darius looks out the windows of this tower like room and can see the horses. He really wants to leave at this point. Naru gets the security cameras going and we can see the whole complex. We see an armory, but it’s guarded by three more Pagus. We contemplate going there, but Naru notices a bunch of smaller Pagus in the room down the hall from the armory. Children. It’s a room full of Pagus children. I’m straining to see from the door, but Naru tells me it’s OK for me to come in the room. I stare at the monitor. I announce that there’s no way we can kill those other Pagus. As everyone looks at me, I explain “Someone has to look after the children.” I point to the monitor with the kids playing and sleeping. We’ve already killed enough of them, if we killed those three, the kids would starve or worse. I can’t do that, even to Pagus children. Everyone seems to agree as I look at the orb. My natural curiosity kicks in and I touch it, T_T which was a really bad idea.

This voice starts shouting at me, in the same language the Pagus speak and I can’t answer. I shout something, but I guess it isn’t the right thing since the orb shattered into a million pieces. I pick on up and half smile at the others. Darius looks at me and says “Maybe you should have touched the ring to it.” Now he offers help. Oh well, no use crying over broken black glass. I ask what we should do next. Naru offers to throw a grenade at the three remaining adult Pagus as he downloads everything on the computers, until I remind him about the children. Amber thinks we should head back to the Baron, if nothing else to claim the bounty on the Red Thorn gang. And to see what he might know. Darius is all for running away. He says something about not wanting to be accused of a hate crime or genocide. I look at him funny. Naru explains that he’s from Sierra Madre, the one that’s all underground and doesn’t let our kind in. *-* Well that explains a lot. I explain that unfortunately most Pagus are evil and monstrous and not many other beings care if they’re killed. He then asks me why we’re letting those three live. I smile and say again, “The children.” I can’t say that just because the parents might be evil doesn’t mean that there isn’t a small chance that even one of those kids might be brought to the Light and lead a happy and productive life. It might happen. Besides, you just can’t go around killing children, that’s just wrong. ^_-  Naru even removes the grenade trap in case the kids go running around the facility. Good, so he doesn’t want to just randomly blow up people, he does it with a purpose!

Darius yells that he doesn’t even know why we’re still here since we found the 8000 gold/credit. He does have a point, so he head back to the Baron. Gosh I hope he didn’t know anything about this. I’d hate to have to try to kill him. It’s an uneventful trip back, which was good, but everyone was sort of quiet. Naru was working on Iggy’s parts, and Darius had the “if-I-don’t-get-away-from-them-I-might-turn-into-them” look so I’m pretty sure he’s going to bolt when we get back to the carnival. I wonder why he left his home if he hates it outside so much? Oh well, to each its own I guess. We find Baron Wildheart pretty easily and he’s thrilled to see us and his money. He divides it up for us and takes back his horses. We start to ask him about the Red Thorn gang hideout until I can’t take it anymore. Everyone’s pussyfooting around the question, so in my cutest voice, I ask him if he had anything to do with it. He looks honestly appalled at the suggestion. I explain about the guys in the painting and Naru shows him the scans. Now that has his interest. We tell him about the Pagus, the old military institution, and the black orb. I even show him the piece I saved. He knows nothing about it, but seems interested in finding out all he can about the place. Naru offers him the scans he found and some of the data. We then go to turn in our Red Thorn armbands and collect the bounty. Darius says “It’s been a fun couple of days.” He seems unhappy. Well I can’t just leave him like this. Naru seems to have a similar idea, “You need to loosen up if you’re going to survive out here.” We both look at Darius, then at each other and exclaim “The wine, you need a drink!” He grabs one hand and I take the other and we start to pull the resistant Darius along. Amber Moon just shakes her head.

We don’t make it very far before Darius starts to relax, which is totally cut short. Almost a dozen of those travelers wagons are in the middle of the fairgrounds. There aren’t any horses or goat horned children running around, in fact they’re closed up tight. It’s just a second glance you would give it, just something that seems a little off. But we keep going…until the sides of the wagons open up and dozens of dozens of Pagus stream out. Then out strolled a hooded woman, who started ordering them around. They started killing and looting everything in sight. The Angel snipers finally start shooting, but a lot of people are dying. One of the Pagus brings something to the hooded lady, who shrugs off her hood to examine the box. She’s a demon. Wonderful, just what was missing from my day. Stupidly, I listen as Darius springs into action shooting the Pagus and charge right at her. That really was dumb. She sidesteps my scimitar and grabs me by the shoulder. She smiles as she throws me almost 50 feet away from her. I try to pick myself up after I stop sliding and feel my heart pounding. I close my eyes and try to compose myself. No use in scaring everyone with red eyes and fangs. She was showing me that I’m nothing to her. I can’t hurt her even at my best. She wanted me to understand that she could kill any of us with a flick of her wrist. I shout to Darius that I don’t think I can hurt her at all.

That’s when an Angel sniper puts on through his shoulder. He screams in pain and starts shouting at the snipers. They don’t care. We’re all just a bunch of animals down here. We watch as one of their rounds go right through demon lady, who doesn’t react. It was like a fly lighting on her shoulder. We are so in over our heads. I charge the nearest group of Pagus with Amber Moon and her elemental as Darius hugged the sides of the wagon looking for a better shot at the demon lady. Naru, thanks to the fact that he is very, very short, slipped under the wagons trying to see what the demon lady had the Pagus stockpiling. He manages to grab one of them out of the wagon. EDF Muffler Boxes. There’s nothing good that can come from that, or the fact that the demon noticed Naru. She picked him up, took the box, and threw him like a rag doll. Amber Moon and I were doing our best, but these things just kept coming out of nowhere.

Darius managed to get a shot off from between the wagons which got the demon’s attention. I’m still not sure what his plan was. She smiled a very frightening smile at him and started in his direction. Amber and I were surrounded and even her water elemental was having a hard time catching it’s breath. There was no end to these things. Bullets flying from the top of Angel, Pagus trying to kill anything that moves all around us, and now demon lady’s stalking Darius who’s trying his best not to die. That’s when we see Naru running with something in his hand. He tosses it into the open wagon where the Pagus are putting the EDF boxes. It takes a second for Amber Moon and I to register that this can’t end well for anyone near the wagon and, getting a second wind, start laying waste to the Pagus around us. We did not want to be standing there. Darius was drawing the demon closer to the wagon as Naru pushed the detonator. Nothing happened. He pushed it again, still nothing. He shot it repeatedly, but nothing. He started cursing. One of the Pagus shouted something at the demon lady who turned and headed towards the wagon. She called to the Pagus who started gathering around her. She threw something orange on the ground as she climbed into the wagon. She pointed towards us and the Pagus surrounded the wagon and began moving closer to us. Amber Moon shouts that the demon cast a delayed blast fireball spell. I’m already hurt so I if I’m too close, I’m dead. So I run, we all run. We even try shouting to the Pagus to run, but they don’t understand. The wagon with the Muffler Boxes and the demon disappears, leaving the Pagus around it looking really confused for the few seconds they were alive before the fireball blew up. Many, many of them blew up. And the resulting fire ended up providing enough light for the Angel snipers to see who they should be shooting. They killed most of the rest of the Pagus left alive. A few did manage to slink away.

We, Amber Moon, Darius, Naru, and I, were still alive. That was something. Demons give me the creeps. More so because I doubt that she’s doing anything good, or that this was the last time any of would see her. Darius did hurt her. And I suppose I still don’t have anything better to do. Still, I hope we don’t get blamed from this. I wonder how Darius is going to take the fact that I think we should all tag along a little longer? ^_^

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