LP vs. Celius LP vs. Celius
The healer stumbled back, and out of nowhere fell against an appearing teleporter. The room spun for a second, but Lady Paladin, being an expert at teleportation, quickly gathered her wits.
The room she appeared in was quite small and sparsely decorated. There was no doorway, and the walls were of a shiny crystal. She pursed her lips together in thought.
"Well, well," echoed a male voice. Lady Paladin spun around to see a pentagram dissipate around the leather boots of a man. He was tall and distinguished in appearance, black robes fitting his thin body. A deep, rune-fringed hood concealed his face. In his hands he held an ancient yew staff, the top of it adorned with a multi-faceted blue stone.
The mage gave an exaggerated, low bow. "Ah, it is a pleasure to meet the mistress of the esteemed High Lord Bacca. My name is Celius, and I have been sent to steal the heartbeat from your soft and womanly body."
Lady Paladin's eyes narrowed. "I see. So not only do I have to fight a mage, but also an annoying poet. Interesting." She tapped the ground twice with her pike, and gave the mage a mock curtsy. "And I hope to remove your foul tongue, put in a shrine of universal stupidity, and then have a clan of brass dragons sit upon your rotting useless excuse for a body." The healer smiled sweetly.
"Tsk, tsk, such un-ladylike words from Bacca's slut," crooned Celius sympathetically. "Someone must teach you some manners, dear lady."
She spun the pike in her hands. "You will find I am not a willing student, Celius the mage."
"We shall see," he curtly replied, sending a lightening bolt towards her. She vaulted out of the way without any difficulty, despite her newly acquired chain mail suit.
"My, my, can't you do better than that, kupo-toy?" Lady Paladin taunted, making the mage stiff with rage.
With a roar, Celius sent a barrage of 7 fireballs at the healer. She managed to deflect them all with relative ease, and then stood there in place. The battle did not feel right. His attacks were too easy and predictable; the mage had something up his robed sleeve.
She looked back over at the walls. They were crystal, like her armor. She could sense no enchantments, but the nature of the place would make her sensing abilities off the mark, regardless. Perhaps he was waiting for her attack?
Celius simply did nothing. He leaned back against the wall, and made a sound like a yawn.
"So, what is your game?" she asked outright. "Your attacks are simplistic, and you do nothing." Lady Paladin stood in a fighting stance, prepared for anything.
The mage pushed back his hood to reveal a tousled brown head of hair. "Haven't you figured it out yet?" he hissed, green eyes gleaming. Lady Paladin felt a shudder in the tiles beneath her feet. "I am a diversion...for something greater. Much greater. Why would I waste my magic on the run-of-the-mill spells? I," he arrogantly bowed, "have a greater flare for the arts than that." She felt a drop of sweat run down her cheek and be absorbed my her cloak. The thundering in the floor grew louder.
Suddenly, the tile floor shattered across the room. The healer shielded her face with her arms, and when she finally opened her eyes she saw an astounding sight.
"Lady....meet the real Celius..."
The fragments of tile and dust slowly faded from the air. The healer stood there expectantly, more worried about the stability of the floor of the small chamber than anything else. In the back of her mind, she prepared a featherfall and floating spell, just in case.
"I am Celius! I am Celius!" she heard the mage chant in glee. "A mage of my great power against a mere healer! Ha! What a grand victory for bards to sing of for an eternity!"
Lady Paladin rolled her eyes. She couldn't believe this, it was so incredibly ridiculous. The Narcissistic mage enjoyed hearing the sound of his own melodious voice, that much was obvious. Celius's own bloated ego would be his undoing. She sighed, and quickly cast oMute.
The arrogant babbling ceased. The dust finally parted to reveal Celius in his true form, a squid-headed race that was known for its skill in the arts of magic. The healer arched an eyebrow at him and gave another tired sigh. "Next time you are in a battle, I suggest you drop the grand entrance. It had no point whatsoever and gave me the time to draw enough spellpower to cast oWhite and send you to kingdom come." Celius started dumbfounded. "Furthermore, before you decide to cast oQuake on the floor..." A booming sound echoed underneath "...I suggest you check the structural integrity of the building you are in."
With a resounding crash, the floor of the chamber caved in. Lady Paladin had anticipated such a reaction, and was already hovering in midair as everything crumbled beneath her. Unfortunately, the muted mage was not so lucky; the squid gave the healer a look of complete despair as he began to fall.
Guilt knotting in her stomach, Lady Paladin made a slight motion with her fingers. Celius' descent halted. The roar was deafening, and as the healer looked downward she was impressed to see there was an entire deep cavern beneath.
After a few minutes, the cloud of debris settled, and it was once again safe to speak without getting a mouth full of dirt. Still, Lady Paladin was annoyed to find herself completely coated in a thin layer of brown muck; the healer had discovered that she was much more sensitive in regards to her appearance since she became involved with Bacca. The healer also smiled in amusement to herself, grateful that she wore armor and not a skirt. With a flick of her wrist, she dismissed enough of the mute spell so that Celius could speak but not cast spells.
The squid gave her a look of grudging admiration. "You are a good spellcaster for being Bacca's camp follower."
Her jaw twitched. "I am a lady, Celius." The mage instantly began to drop, and then halted suddenly. His tentacles flushed. "And unless you start calling my by my proper titles, you'll find your soft and squishy body to be a little more soft and squishy than usual." Celius's race, as she recalled, was quite typically easy-going and philosophical in nature, but this mage seemed to be an exception.
Seeming to forget his perilous position, he demanded, "Then what should I call you by? You are neither a lady nor a paladin. Among my people, a lady does not engage in combat or become intimate with another so readily. And by your spellcasting alone you have shown that you are not a paladin. You do not even carry a broadsword, but a curved blade and a stick! At least I, the great mage Celius, know who I am. WHO are YOU to ask to be called by titles when your very name is two titles?" His slimy brow furrowed, and the poetic spellcaster glared at her fiercely.
Lady Paladin's face gave no clue of the torment within. She did not permit the slightest movement of her lips; not even a lock of hair seemed to drift out of place. A knife had twisted in her belly, the wound of her nightmares reopening in reality.
Who are you?
What do you want?
Why are you here?
She wondered, who else regarded her as Bacca's slut? Who else thought she had risen in power through Bacca's bed? It was a grave insult for one who had tried so hard to live up to the courtly ideals of her youth. Quickly blinking her wide brown eyes, she cast featherfall on Celius. Everything seemed to slip into place now. His weakness in spellcasting, the crumbling floor, her mercy. The enemy obviously knew her very well.
The mage had not been sent to fling balls of fire at her.
He had been sent to psychologically annihilate her.
And he had succeeded.
She hesitantly licked her dry, chapped lips. "You are truly a great mage, Celius. I give you that much credit. You were right in saying that your mental skills were beyond the norm. I am letting you live."
Celius started at her, genuinely surprised. "But why? I have just terrorized your very soul. I expected to be dropped to the caverns below by now. Why do you choose to let me live?"
"Because," she said softly, so he could barely hear, "Every word you have spoken has been the truth."
He cocked his head up at her as he continuously dropped downward. "Even the devil can quote scripture, healer-in-armor."
"That is true," she murmured thoughtfully, "That is true. But I will not let you fall as you wish." An orb of white suddenly flared in her gloved right hand. The alabaster flames licked outward, consuming her fingers in the glow. Celius cried out in alarm. The ball seemed to suck in more energy and grow by the tenth of each second, rising to a such a fearful level that the Lady was completely obscured by her own spell.
"Since you are the devil, she murmured, "You shall die as befits your kind." The holy light suddenly screamed from her palm and struck Celius. A succession of smaller white orbs traveled in its wake, each striking the mage with such force that his vile body was instantly disintegrated.
Lady Paladin stood there in midair, her arms folded over her breast. "I hope," she whispered, tears trickling down her dirt-filmed cheeks, "that I wake up soon."
Time was nonexistent. She could have hovered there for an eternity, and not even have been aware of it. Then, out of nowhere, she flinched. Reality crashed back into her mind, bringing with it the knowledge that Bacca was engaged in a battle.
Lady Paladin desperately looked around her. The crystal walls of the stood solidly, offering no windows or doors of escape. She looked down at the abyss beneath her feet, and knew that had to be the only way out. A teleportation was too risky without a specific destination in mind; if she made an error and teleported in on top of something, the result would be a collision of atoms and a small nuclear blast. There had to be safer a way out.
"How did I get here?" she murmured to herself, tightly gripping her pike. Her last recollection was of being sucked into a teleport on Crystal Peak. Now, she found herself hovering over a chasm in a broken room. The healer assumed that she had been there for awhile, since she felt a sizable portion of her power had been drained.
"And I'm covered with dirt!" she realized, "I must have been present when the room collapsed." She paled. There seemed to have been a glitch in her memory banks, a blank area she could not penetrate. "What have I done?!" she cried in horror, and was afraid to know the answer. Someone could have cast a spell upon her, or she could have cast too high a level of spell and damaged herself mentally. The effects in either case would only be temporary, but the fear of not knowing what happened was terrifying.
"I just have to get to Bacca," she stated aloud. She needed him. Oh, if only they weren't in the middle of an important battle...how she would have loved to just be in his arms and express her worries! "Be strong," she told herself, taking in a shuddering breath.
Lady Paladin cast oFeatherfall, and slowly began descending. The cavern appeared to be very deep, and she had no idea what to expect. Minutes passed, and she could finally see the stone floor of the chasm. And there were white specks running about among the wreckage of tile and rock.
"Moogles!" she hissed, a tremor of fear running through her body. To be kupo'ed was one of her greatest fears, and know she had to face the furrballs on her own. Lady Paladin knew she had to conserve spell power, and so elected to fight hand-to-hand. As the turf grew closer, she could see it was a scout party of five Moogles, apparently exploring the remains of the chamber's floor.
"Kupo! Kupo! Kupo!" she heard them cry, just as her boots touched ground. They had just seen her, which gave the healer a considerable advantage.
"Come here, little twerps," she taunted, unafraid of their steel spears. The first two moogles underestimated her fighting power by simply jabbing at her. Twirling the pike, she parried their jabs and knocked one of the moogles down. The second one attempted to slice her neck, but Lady Paladin barely managed to duck out of the way and break the moogle's neck with pike.
"KUPO!" screamed the remaining white creatures, rushing at her in a berserker rage. The three moogles crowded around her, cutting at her legs. Lady Paladin gave a battle cry and fought back fiercely, but found herself pushed back against the rubble. The first moogle also rose, so she then had four spear-bearing moogles attacking.
She hissed under her breath, silently thanking the accursed teleporter of her youth for dropping her at Minbar. The healer had great stamina and confidence in her abilities with the pike. Using both ends of her weapon, she took the moogles off-guard by rapidly advancing. Two of them tripped and quickly found their heads bashed in. The two remaining moogles were also dispatched in rapid succession.
Panting, Lady Paladin looked around. She could see the only way out was just to her left. Giving the moogles a final look of disgust, and turned and began to look away.
"Mog...will not be pleased..." a high-pitched voice hissed. "Vengeance...he will kupo you yet...he always desires...more Queens...Mmmf." The dying moogle was silenced by a swift kick in the head with her steel-toed boot.
"I pray I am never kupo'ed," she coolly said to the five corpses, and then turned and left the rubble-strewn chamber.
The passage to her left led to a narrow, winding staircase upward. Space was quite tight, and the walls brushed her hips on either side. Lady Paladin imagined that even the moogles felt cramped on such a staircase.
Wary of any attack, she headed upward. The healer knew that she was at a considerable disadvantage if there were any enemies heading downward. Clutching her pike, she prayed silently that she could make it back to Bacca in one piece. There were some slight cuts on her legs, but fortunately the crystal chain mail was of the highest quality, so none of her wounds were serious. "But knowing Bacca," she murmured affectionately, "he has a few new wounds that he needs me to tend to." The uselessness that had plagued Lady Paladin in the tunnel was gone; now, in the midst of the enemy, she felt sure of her purpose again.
And she could not help but repeat Bacca's words from back in the tunnel. "You are my love and their healer," he had said. "Which takes precedence is not easy to figure out. I do not know for sure since my opinion is not only biased in both ways, but confused by my feelings for you." Lady Paladin could not help but smile at the memory. As soon as they were out of Crystal Peak, she knew she would confess everything to him, and the burden of secrecy would lift from her heart.
The healer reached into her pouch and fingered the smooth figurine of a palomino stallion. "Goldy, are you there?" she telepathically called.
"Yes, my mistress, I am here," came the reply. "Are you in the Peak, and are you in good health?"
"I am, my steed. At this time I am traveling up a tight staircase. I was recently back in a chamber with a shattered room, but my memory is blank as to what happened there. Could you look in my library and find a text by the name of, 'Afflyctions of the Mynd' by Qua'salar Magus? I want information on this condition, especially if it connects to my status as a dreamseer."
She could picture his noble head nodding, his creamy mane whirling about. "Consider it done, mistress. Is there anything else you desire at this time?"
A blush stained her cheeks when the first answer that leaped to her mind was, "Bacca." Regaining her composure, Lady Paladin replied, "No, that is all. I will establish contact again later. Hopefully, by then I will be back with at least a few other party members."
"Very well, my mistress. Take care of yourself. Godspeed." With that, the telepathic link was closed.
The healer took in a shuddering breath. Looking upwards, she could see what appeared to be miles of steps leading upward. If the conditions were not so cramped, she would have cast oLevitate first thing, but in such tight confines the spell would be quite dangerous. "Oh well, I need the exercise, anyway," she mumbled, trying to keep a positive light. And so she continued onward.