Roll the Dice Part 3 - By Silverscale
The Market of Ichors were a renowned and infamous place in supernatural circles, a place where anyone could buy almost anyone or anything, the limit being only supply and price. The Market of Ichors were placed within an ancient temple to one of the old and forgotten terrors that once ruled the world. No one remembers their name, thus they are only named The God of Secrets and the Illithids were its heralds and prophets. It was they who carved out this marketplace through the ages unknown, as a secret place no one but their kind could control. It was never at the same place for very long, always moving and twisting, connected only by chance, or the wills of the Illithids, to the surface. It was a sprawling complex, easily the size of a modern city, filled with twisting stairs and tunnels, vast open spaces, forests of underground vegetation and fungi, and walls of crystals with a constant stream of beings seeking to purchase things from its dark stores and stalls. It was a heavily controlled and eerie place, where violence didn't exist, for the Illithid and their thralls would tear apart anyone foolish enough to disturb the peace.
Or, so it was… until today.
It began by the main entrance to the market, a massive undulating door that looked like it was made out of fleshy tendrils the color of stone. The two Illithids standing guard by the entrance used four brainless hulking brutes as their muscle. Each brute looked like someone had combined a gorilla with a troll, thick leathery skin, crooked noses, uneven teeth and dirty, weed like hair and fur growing off their bodies.
These were Scandinavian rock trolls, otherwise known as Norse Trolls, whose only weakness were their absurd stupidity and lethal weakness to sunlight. They were among the strongest, toughest, and largest of all trolls and giants. The largest of these trolls to ever be recorded had been over five hundred feet in height. They were as diverse as they were ugly, some of them possessing supernatural abilities that could range from simple night vision and regeneration, to instinctive magical powers similar to those of the most learned shaman and witch doctors. Their numbers were rare, what with the Scandinavian Institute for Troll Hunters, SITH, making sure they were never in large numbers.
Yeah, the founders of the group were all Star Wars fans.
Thus the Nordic trolls were valuable as muscle, for while they could not transform into smaller humanoids unless they had those abilities from birth, someone could cast such magics on them, making them excellent bodyguards and servants for the most demanding of beings, as all they required were food, drink and dark moist holes to sleep in.
The one to the left sniffed the air suddenly before turning to look at the doorway. Sniffing with a curious look on its face. "Zomefin komin... zmell like phire... ash... lizzard?"
There was a loud resounding clang as the doorway suddenly shuddered. Something had just tapped the doorway, not unlike a very heavy knock, albeit one measured in hundreds of pounds of force. The two Illithids quickly responded sending out psychic commands to the two trolls, who just gripped their long spiked clubs, ready to thagomize whatever came through. The massive door began to shudder and quake, and the two Illithids stared in horror, as the flesh like structures making up the door began to pull apart, as if given the mental password to open, which should be impossible; only those approved by the Elder Brains should know how to enter and they had yet to sense any psychic presence behind the portal.
Then, as the final fleshy tendril bared the entrance and the trolls reared their arms back, there suddenly came a massive wave of psionic energy that slammed out of the doorway and straight into the trolls and the two Illithids, the sheer might of the wave enough to shred their bodies like paper.
Stepping past the massive doorway was Tch'lech, dressed in a finely made leather coat, with an intricately carved bone necklace, his telepathic voice echoing out over the underground city slash market in a mocking tone, "Knock. Knock."
"I have to admit, that was an amusing entrance," said a feminine voice from behind him as the elven shape of Elan glided in after the Illithid. She was currently dressed in a blue blouse with a green jacket, a pair of white jeans, and a set of blue sneakers on her feet, as if she was a typical American teen.
"I know, right? I have always wanted to do that, especially to these stuck up schmucks," Tch'lech sent with a warm and happy telepathic voice to the dragoness in disguise.
Elan just chuckled and shook her head. "I see. Well we better get moving if we want to find what we are looking for. You said the most likely place to have what we are looking for is in the central plaza?"
The Elder Brain nodded and the two began to walk towards the twisting underground city, ignoring the alarms ringing out over the caverns. "Indeed, that book of yours is most likely in the slave market, since most such books are kept by the highest standing merchants and Illithids in the city, which all have their homes and shops in the plaza and what I am looking for should be there as well, unless someone bought, stole, or threw it away."
"Wonderful. Thank you once more for helping me Tch'lech," Elan said with a short nod to the Illithid, who chuckled a bit abashed, whilst twirling one of his tentacles with the index claw on his left hand.
"No need to thank me. Now, let me handle the rabble charging towards us. No need to get your hands dirty in this disgusting place." He raised the hand he wasn't twirling a tentacle with, and a charging horde of thralls of various species, were tossed aside like rag dolls, their bodies broken or smeared across the streets and buildings around them as if they'd just fallen from a great height.
He gave a small bow to the clear path towards the center of the city and spoke in an exaggerated British gentleman's voice, "After you milady?"
Elan just giggle and gave him a short bow in return before walking down the path, while Tch'lech walked alongside her, even as an army of Illithids and thralls began to gather to confront and destroy the two invaders.
Four Hours Later
"Aha! Here they are! I knew I saw these a month ago!" Tch'lech said proudly as he held up the wares he had been looking for, a set of engraving tools and a large sack containing some very odd iron.
"All this trouble just so you could get hold on a set of runic engraving tools and a pile of old iron?" the woman asked the recently ascended Elder Brain.
"Runic engraving tools are hard to find nowadays, not to mention the older they are the more power the runes they inscribe can produce. The iron is also a rare kind of metal, fay touched iron, only found in certain hard to reach places in the Fairy Realms and one of the main ingredients for making a certain type of holy swords," Tch'lech sent with a telepathic grin to the disguised dragoness.
"That is all and good but... well might be pointless to ask now... but why the cruelty? You weren't this upset for the first half a candle we were fighting." She looked over at a pile of impaled corpses hanging from various spikes and poles sticking out of the sides of the buildings around them. Some of the impaled, while alive, were impaled in very uncomfortable places.
"Well you can't really blame me getting my own back at these splarghs after all the years of mistreatment I've suffered at their hands. I highly doubt even a single one of your majestic kin would approve of being treated as I was since birth for merely being… different."
She was about to respond to his thoughts but paused and considered it before finally lowering the hand she had been about to raise. She could not deny that not a single one of her kind would approve of being treated like a lesser being for being born with what others would call a defect. "I guess I cannot argue with that, though it still seems a bit excessive," Elan stated as she looked around the burning city sized market. One of the statues had been used as a cudgel to crush hundreds of Illithids, thralls, and buyers into paste.
"If you consider dead slavers, torturers, killers, assassins and soul eaters excessive," Tch'lech stated with a shrug.
The disguised dragon looked at him with curious eyes.
He pointed at the sign above the marketplace. "This is the market's slave district, it is the heart of this entire place, and comprises more than fifty percent of all trade in this shithole, it focuses entirely on the sale and buying of slaves and souls, it is also the biggest trade hub for living sacrifices and victims for rich sociopaths. Anyone who comes here to sell or buy are not going to be a kind person and those who seek to free anyone here are often captured and sold as slaves themselves, as a form of ironic punishment. The Elder Council enjoy sacrificing living beings to their so-called God of Secrets and devour the brains of their victims while they are still alive."
"Alright I get it, these are bad people." Elan sighed and shook her head as the duo walked down the street.
A troll suddenly burst out of a doorway to attack them, only for Elan to punch its chest, causing its upper body to rupture like a balloon filled with blood.
Tch'lech casually deflected the rain of blood to keep it from staining their clothes. "Indeed. But do not worry, I have made certain to avoid harming anyone who bears even a trace of innocence in this place and I have freed those who could be saved, so they may escape. Of course I made sure to erase their memories of this place, so they wouldn't end up committed to mental asylums when they tried to report what they had been through," Tch'lech sent as they strolled past a set of columns, each column having a row of fifty armored Illithids nailed by their own skulls into the stone.
"Well that is something I guess," she said as she looked at the gore stained streets in front of them, crushed and mangled corpses painting the streets and walls crimson, while former slaves scampering over the crushed bodies of their former owners, seeking to reach the exit of the massive cavern. "I suppose it was an understandable and even laudable action on your part when taken in that light."
"We didn't find what you were looking for, so I hope at least imparting a bit of good fortune to others will have improved your mood," Tch'lech said his telepathic message to her containing a bit of warmth and undertones of hope
Elan shot him a surprised glance but then caught sight of a former slave, a human woman, carrying her infant son over a sea of corpses towards freedom and she smiled a little, enjoying the knowledge that mother and child were free from the hell they had endured. "You're not wrong, Tch'lech."
Silence ensued as they walked down the street, Tch'lech utilizing his telekinetic powers to push aside blood and gore as to not stain their shoes. After they exited the viscera soaked road they came upon another market, where Illithids and thralls were gathered behind barricades and inside buildings, prepared for an assault.
As the duo walked towards the building Tch'lech rubbed his neck a little before slowly asking the dragoness something to help break the silence while he gathered his courage, "Sooooo... how are things with you?"
"So far it is good, even if we did not find the book I was searching for, it was it still a fun and eventful trip," Elan stated with a small smile to the Illithid.
"Good, good. Sooo... I'd be glad to help you look for your book again. I have heard about another magic marketplace in Louisiana. We could go... Say... next Thursday?"
There was a short moment of silence as the dragoness pondered the question. "That would be grand. You know far more of this world then I do and I am certain you will be of great aid in my search."
Tch'lech looked slightly flustered. Well, as flustered as a purple skinned octopus headed man could, as he nodded. "Great! I will pick you up at the spice shop around five pm?"
The silver dragon was slightly surprised by his eagerness, and even got slightly flustered by it herself, but smiled at him and nodded, hoping he hadn't notice the slight blush she was sporting.
If the Illithird had lips, his would have been grinning wide enough to swallow a watermelon. "Excellent! Let us just get out of this dump for now. I have to deliver these items to the spice shop before six pm and I do not want to be late." Tch'lech raised one of his hands, his psionic powers causing the four-story building in front of them to rise off its foundation. There was a brief moment of panicked screams before the structure was tossed aside and tumbled down into the bottomless abyss that the City of Ichors was built over.
The duo walked over the pathway leading towards the exit, leaving the broken and burning city behind.
Tch'lech was ecstatic, he had met a fascinating woman, who was not even slightly bothered that he was an Illithid, who held a wealth of knowledge and enjoyed research and arcane tinkering, like he had grown to enjoy ever since meeting his benefactors in the spice shop.
Elan was feeling rather bubbly, she had met an intriguing man who was willing to help her find a rare book she had learned about from the children in the spice shop, even if he was an Illithid she found his polite and honest personality rather refreshing, not to mention she was curious to see just how things would develop between them, as she rather enjoyed his company and the moral debates they were having were rather enjoyable as well.
To the world around them, they looked like a pair of shy and awkward Lovecraftian horrors, one of whom was badly disguised, planning their second date.