At any rate, I stopped and picked up comics on the way, and sat around outside Lazar's apartment until it was almost time for the game.
As for the game itself...
The centaur island was kind of a mess. Lord Diecheck (the warlord who'd wanted to buy Wayne and Perrel the last time they'd been there) had tried to take over the island, and failed, and now the senile old man they'd used as a patsy to sell their food processors was in charge. Except for the armies of all the cities that didn't recognize his claim, which were in open warfare. And the slaves, who'd basically used the war as their chance to break free and set up hidden enclaves in all the various underground caverns.
The ex-slaves' plan was to negotiate with the centaurs for freedom in return for helping win the war (which, by the way, they'd effectively started, with fake messages they'd had Jardin send around). "You've come back to help us, right?"
"We have? Well, what did you want us to help you with?" Wayne asked.
"Well... last time you basically refused to do anything we asked, but what you did do was helpful. So just do whatever you want, and I'm sure we'll benefit from it!"
"In that case, give me all your valuables!"
In the end, they settled for giving them all their centaur hostages' valuables, which (Wayne explained after the initial shock) would help them make themselves invisible to sneak into the tower to get the crystals they needed to power up the pre-war ships they were planning to use to get back to Mentessi.
As it turned out, some of said valuables turned out to be seven pounds of platinum chains. Platinum was valuable enough -- five times more valuable than gold -- that Wayne was able to quickly throw together a proof-of-concept 5-karma item in about 15 seconds, by making a very special cat's cradle out of it...
5-karma items weren't much use, though, especially not ones made out of $125,000 worth of platinum. Instead, he decided to use the chains to test out a theory he had [his 'master level tricks' in magitech] that the effect of a magitech device could be made independant of the device itself. Over the course of two hours, he wove a magical effect, using the chains, that would turn everyone within ten yards invisible, and render them immune to effects that saw invisible creatures, whenever they were holding the object of their choice that they were to hold during the whole process.
Unfortunately, he screwed up twice, and in the end the effect was less useful for the army of slaves than they'd hoped -- the chosen items were made invisible by one of the botches, and when the invisibility was active on the people affected by the spell, they were actually cast into a different plane of existance where they couldn't see any living creatures, either.
Jardin, watching Wayne screw up repeatedly, took the time to make his own less quirky invisibility device, as well as a new set of wings to replace the last two pairs he'd lost. Although these were actually 'rings' instead of wings, which attached to his legs and provided lift through clockwork fans (or something).
Once they were all invisible, they headed for the mage's tower, which they knew from the slaves had been occupied by a force of Cytherians and Hildralgo. Apparently, they weren't just intercepting the messages that were sent along the mirror chain -- they were editing them before sending them on, and sending fake messages back to Jirae. Jardin sabotaged the mirror they were using to randomly scramble the messages so that they wouldn't be able to get good information out of it either, and then they turned their attention to opening the trap door.
As a side effect of his weird invisibility, Wayne was able to see invisible things, and decided to try the invisible handle on the trapdoor, to see if that would open it without having to argue with the guardian (which would likely alert the enemy -- the magic 8 ball said they were the enemy -- to their presence). It worked, sort of -- depositing him directly into the actual living area of the tower, bypassing all the test rooms. Unfortunately, the crystals they wanted were in the test rooms, and there was no easy way up... and after a lot of searching, no crystals in that section of the tower.
Outside, Perrel and Jardin just saw Wayne touch the handle and vanish. Perrel decided to go look and see if the tower had generated another turtle, so that they could repeat the process by which they'd gotten in the first time. And it had! And just like before, it was being cocooned by a weaver...
Perrel (whose strange vision interacted with the invisibility he'd gotten from Wayne to make it so that he could *only* see living creatures) of course flew right into the weaver's web, and couldn't get himself free. The weaver attacked him... and he screamed for help, and Jardin came down and saved him, and the turtle. They opened the trapdoor and rushed into the crystal room... followed by one overeager Hildralgo, who got the squeaky-axe treatment.
After loading up on crystals, they met Wayne outside -- he'd taken one of the portals back out to outside the tower, after his long fruitless search -- and they all headed back to the ex-slaves' encampment to get one of the boats working.
It took a while to figure it out, but they managed it, and soon were zipping off at top speed for Mentessi -- a trip that looked like it would take about twenty, twenty-five minutes. Pity that the boat was solar powered, and after being kept in the shade for fifty years only had fifteen minutes of charge left when running at full speed.
Of course this was an annoyance instead of a real setback -- they could mostly all fly, and the boat itself was indestructible. They worked out a secondary propulsion system and limped into Mentessi, where the captain of the guard was very anxious to know what had happened to Roshan.
"I have bad news -- she was captured by an army from Enochin! But if the mission we came here to carry out works, we think we have a good chance of getting her back," Wayne explained. He didn't explain about the whole 'soul apparently destroyed, possessed by insane spirits and knives, etc.' thing, because it wasn't really important -- the magic 8-ball had told them that her soul was, in fact, recoverable, and a Vlindar alchemist Perrel had brought with them from the island thought that she could reunite the soul and body if she had the body.
It took a week to set everything up for the meeting. The ruling council of Mentessi agreed to the plan in return for another round of munitions work, and had a lot of advice as to how to set things up so that it would look official and comfortable and encourage the people to talk instead of pulling tricks. "Food is very important!"
To deliver the gates to the far-flung armies and crazy-people and cities and whatnot, they engaged the services of the courier guild that Perrel had mentioned once being a member of. There was an old tunnel near Mentessi that led to a courier town, and for a modest price (modest considering the wealth of levicus they had to spend, salvaged from the casing of the danger room) they promised to deliver the message anywhere in the world in three days. The message, of course, being an actual letter written on truth-ensuring paper accompanied by half of a set of teleport gates.
And so, everyone gathered together to talk things out in a nicely furnished room with rich food and hired help to attend to their every needs, and they quickly came up with a plan that would be acceptable, at least for the moment, to everyone invovled -- Jeff's powers would be sealed, but he would be allowed to learn all the magic and anything else that he wanted. His status as a mage let him read books without triggering the book curse (he'd discovered), making him valuable to everyone even without his powers. When he was old enough to responsibly use the powers of a mage... the question would be revisited.
Then Balthazaar charmed everyone (including Jeff) into letting him take Jeff and leave, since the two were obviously in love. By the time the charm had worn off, the gate he'd fled through was destroyed, and he had a nice head start.
But they knew where he was going -- and as far as they knew, he was the last remaining threat to peace. He'd outmaneuvered them again, but they still had a chance to salvage the situation.
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