Disclaimer: Mahou Sensei Negima, Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms, Mahou Shoujou Lyrical Nanoha, Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple, Mass Effect (Technology) and (possible) cameo characters are created and owned by their respective creators, not me. I write this for entertainment for the masses and to improve myself.
Part 2: Volunteering, Healing, Arrival
"Mumble, mumble, grumble, mumble... "let's all go to the Underdark," you said. "We can score some serious money down here," you promised..." Their wizard was not happy as they wandered down there. "Well, guess what? A month stuck down here and we have to scrape the walls for fungi and watch our backs at water holes for food and what do we have to show for it? A handful of gold coins and a duergar we had to kill who was rambling on about some great danger down here."
"Huh, I figured you would like being underground, Ela," Delvian said casually and she turned on the spot to face him.
"Like being underground, huh?" She repeated. "I'm Half-drow, as in enemy number one to the dark elves down here. My mother went rogue and she escaped from this place. I am not at home down here, Delvian."
Their other member had to hide a smile as they went on.
Ela had grown into quite a capable wizard, taught under one of the finest minds in Silverymoon after her recommendation by master Fashtar. She had been so busy with her study that she had neglected her own health to a small extent, but some jogging in the fields outside the walls seemed to work. She was still going to her mentor, but she managed to convince her that going together with a group would work wonders with her training.
And then she ran into Delvian and Sylbie.
Delvian was a Warrior-Priest of Tempus. The clean shaven man was not the most boisterous of fighters but he was still pretty devastating with that big hammer of his. Walking around in half-plate armor though, didn't help him much in sneaking about, but the Tempus followers weren't so big on sneaking to begin with.
Sylbie, or Sylbiavari Highroc, was the one who covered that angle. An excellent thief, or as some said, assassin, the wood elven woman was considerably older than Ela. Her sense of dressing could do with a little boost, though. Dressing in white robes while being in the Underdark didn't seem as a good idea. It was probably magical for all the half-drow girl knew. She never did bother with scanning either of them for magical items, that would just be rude.
"Come now, you two," Sylbie spoke up. "We can't be far from an exit that must be around somewhere down here."
"A month we've been down here and we've been unsuccessful so far, Sylbie," Ela replied.
"Even so, it doesn't hurt to have a positive outlook on things." The words were true and the wizard smiled at the thief to show she agreed.
Ela spoke up again, "It's just that... I'm scared. I know I'm not from this area, but if the drow found out that I'm half-drow, who knows what they would do to me. You two would have the fortune of a quick death, but not me. My mother betrayed her people, ran away with a human slave to the surface, and she caused a big commotion. It was not fun growing up knowing that you could expect a drow hunting party arriving in town, looking for you."
"Understood," said Delvian. "Having to live in fear is one thing, but it is another to let it be your master."
"That's why my first mentor sent me to Greenwood's. So that when I finally meet an excursion of them looking for me, I'd be ready."
Delvian laughed loudly. "Good. And you have us with you as well. Together we could take on anything short of a dragon."
"Or a wizard above my own level..." Ela muttered.
Rapid sounds caught their attention all of a sudden. The noises came in highly rapid succession at a rate they haven't heard before, it was loud and what's more...
There was a lot of them.
"What?" Ela asked softly.
"It came from over there," Sylbie whispered and went first in the direction of the noise. Naturally, Ela covered the rear after Delvian went after the thief.
The noises became louder, so it was an indication that they were getting closer. It wasn't what they had first expected.
In a large faezress-free cavern, they saw scores, definitely thousands of soldiers rushing about down in numbers, preparing their strange weapons and flying vehicles in a design totally different from the skyships they have seen up on the surface. Nearly everything was completely different in design, save from swords (which they spotted); weapons, armor, transport vehicles, places of comfort.
Only Delvian couldn't see fully what they were. A few soldiers with their helmets off were confirmed as githyanki, but they didn't seem like any they had seen before. Everyone wore different colors on their armor, with handful of them in some groups had matching color patterns. They did also spot a fair number of drow soldiers in their mail armor and black cloaks and their riding lizards.
The noises came from a thick concentrated line of githyanki soldiers using long, almost staff-like weapons made of metal and they went off like wands against targets. Their aim was most impressive as 1 out of 10 missed on a ratio of 1 shot out of 20.
Others, a large collection of them directed by a trio of what seemed like officers to the three adventurers, were constructing a rather large archway, meaning they were building a portal to use.
This was not a good situation.
"Too many of them to fight," Ela said. "Way too many."
"Hey, I know this cavern. We're in Dead Dragon Gorge," said Sylbie. "From here, we could hijack a portal and get back to the surface."
"Uh, Sylbie? I don't think we can get down there without getting spotted." Ela was getting down again. "Plus, Siregar was the best of us at conjurations in school..."
"You're an universalist who had the second highest scores upon graduation," Delvian pointed out. "Don't tell us you didn't skip on your grades and graduated because of talent."
"What'd you say! I'd kill people for insults like that!"
Then their area lit up brightly and not one of the three could bear themselves into turning around to have a look.
"Sylbie," Delvian said quietly for once.
"Is it possible that there could be people out there better at the art of stealth than you?"
"Only if they could cheat," the elven woman conceded to the warrior-priest.
"I also think I forgot to set up the Alarm for us again," Ela admitted.
"Drop your weapons and raise your hands above your heads," a voice called to them. All three of them did so and Ela just blurted out of herself, very quickly,
"I was a student of Fashtar at Greenwood's Academy for Wizards! He awarded me personally with my badge of honor at graduation day!"
There was a small beat of silence in the little space before someone spoke up again, "I think the general would like to see you, then."
Some twenty minutes later, the three of them were sitting by a large desk speckled with maps, files and a glowing illusion of a drow city underneath the files. They were under armed guard by at least some eight soldiers with those weapons, circling the room of the command building they were in, whilst they were waiting for the verdict of the one in charge.
"Let's see..." General Osyrimon in his white and blue armor and the greatsword on the back said as he looked up a file. "Elacia Arcurio Melati Belmere-Wysiwyg. Wizard apprentice, graduate of Greenwood's. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah... oh, you do know Fashtar."
"That's what I said," Ela spoke out of turn, then added for respect, "Sir."
"We just needed the confirmation, miss. Lord Fashtar has been out of range recently-"
"This is the worst road in history!"
"Don't say that! We'll get trampled again!"
"Oh look, a puppy. Hello, little puppy- Oh my god, a Girallion!"
"so we had to contact Greenwood's and ask for your name there, instead. We apologize for the inconvenience. We've all just been on edge lately. You're free to go and use one of the portals around here to get to where you live."
"Oh, thank you, sir," Ela said. Though before they could leave, a new feminine, almost seductive voice cut in.
"Or..." they saw a rather beautiful drow female, marked out as a matron in her mithril mail armor underneath a, rarely seen, white modest dress and a whip at her hip (Again?). "You might consider a little offer."
"Uh oh," Ela muttered under her breath. "Matron. This is not good."
"We intend to go on an excursion to a most recently discovered place. You wouldn't find it normally via travel of the planes of existence, so this is a relatively good chance for you to earn some... valuable treasures," the matron continued.
"Matron Baenre," Osyrimon spoke up. "I voice my opposition here. These three adventurers have been lost down here for weeks and only wish to return to the surface. It would do well to just send them back to wherever they came from."
"At the very least let me explain what I am proposing to them, general." Baenre seemed... awfully polite. And it was creepy. Maybe it was the same reason she was wearing white. "This is essentially a once in a lifetime offer. You take up the job as... companions with us on this and you can get as much gold as you could carry with you so you can avoid having to get down here again."
"Uh... and um.. what exactly are we going to do, once we're there and all?" Ela asked her, being identified as the wizard. "Call me a bit paranoid and all, but I'm starting to think you are mounting up for conquest."
"No, no. We are not going there for conquest and loot, Wysiwyg." Baenre had reverted back from the awfully polite lady to the evil queen-bitch in white – stockings? Well, at least she was being a bitch. "We are simply going there for knowledge. Since you are a wizard yourself, could you just simply imagine all that new, undiscovered, just-lying-and-waiting-for-you kind of magic that is easy to learn and use there, compared to what Greenwood's has taught you?"
"Uhh... I guess, I could, but... wait, undiscovered magic?" Ela had always been familiar with the complicated but sufficient magic system that while not efficient in usage for a week, resulted in a high increase of intelligent wizards. "How can it be new magic compared to what we already have?"
"You may see when we get there," was all Baenre replied in turn.
"May we hold a private conversation regarding this?" Delvian asked them. "We need to."
"Yes, you may huddle up and whisper," Osyrimon said to them and then ordered one of his men to instruct a mage to gather his supplies at a portal.
It took the adventurers a roughly ten minutes before they agreed. The elves were dubious and suspicious of the drow's cooperation and both of them were in a sense justified: Drow tended to kill surface elves on sight or bring them down to their cities for torture. Half-drow had it a little bit lighter than that, but that usually depends on the drow not figuring out what your other half is. And they're very good at that.
They weren't given any new equipment or the like, the drow felt they had more than enough on them with what they got. At least the gith were kind enough to give Ela some more wands and give Delvian a new helmet.
But everybody was just preparing and not actually going anywhere through that new portal which was recently completed. Since they were on a new payroll at the moment, they just had to do what the rest of them did.
Wait. For something that was a signal.
Speaking of which...
The whole party moved in silence as best they could. The mixture of drow and githyanki was probably not a welcome sight in the lands above the Underdark and the driftdisc with the human girl sitting on it was not helping either.
No doubt some playing children in the woods had already seen them heading towards the spot Hunzrin claimed could fix the blind girl. Still, twelve githyanki soldiers armed with assault rifles and twenty drow soldiers, not to mention a very powerful wizard and a priestess would be more than a match for any regiment they'd send against them.
"Miss Hunzrin, I must ask," said the medic, who had examined Nodoka. She'd recognized the voice easily. "What is it about this pool that makes you so certain?"
Shakti, remaining cool during the few hours they had been walking, replied bluntly. "The pool is blessed by the goddess Eldath." A few of them stopped. "Oh, don't be so alarmed. Eldath's followers cannot harm us and in turn, we shall not harm them as long as we can heal Miyazaki."
That was true. Eldath was a minor goddess of healing and peace, so her followers were pacifists. That wasn't what had alarmed them. It was her connection.
Despite her opposing of what he stands for and him seeing her as naïve, the goddess Eldath was under the personal protection of the war god Tempus. He had the largest amount of followers anywhere, and everyone who had drawn a sword or nocked an arrow had fought both with and against followers of Tempus.
The war god had made it clear that Eldath's followers were not to be harmed under any circumstances, for he understood the true value of peace. Any one who had openly attacked her people had received a swift and brutal retribution from his people.
So it was perfectly understandable that they'd be nervous.
"You could have mentioned that earlier," said the medic.
"It doesn't matter," Nodoka said, really not interested in what was going on. "I just want to see again."
They agreed with that and just kept on going in silence.
"Here we are," Shakti said after about half an hour after the talk and the group felt a very potent surge of magic inflict itself upon them. "I neglected to tell you about the Sanctuary aura around the pool as well, didn't I?"
"It doesn't matter," the medic replied. "But this should work in our favor, too. No one would dare try to attack us here."
"They would," Shakti told him. "And I will just blow them away should they try it."
The first meeting with the pacifists went so-so once they had announced their intentions. The old druid who was chief in charge of watching the pool had originally intended to pack up and leave it behind but the githyanki priest of Hannahanna persuaded him otherwise to stay and watch the pool as they had always done.
They did ask for privacy when Nodoka was brought before the pool. The chief druid stayed long enough to explain how the healing process worked.
Yaddah, yaddah,yaddah... We can all see where this is going.
Polite as ever and very careful, someone was undressing Nodoka gently to not alarm her. Blind people were easy to frighten and she had been through too much already. Whoever was undressing her, though, did get slapped away when she was reduced to her underwear.
She took those off herself and was then led off the disc into the pool. "I have to keep my eyes open for this to work?" she asked for confirmation.
"Yes, otherwise it won't work," was the answer the druid told her.
"And I can't hold my breath?"
"..All that is required of you is to have faith in that the Goddess of Singing Waters will heal you." And then he spoke no more.
Nodoka was first reluctant to dip her head in but after taking a deep breath and not holding it in, she submerged herself in the water and let her thoughts go free.
For ten years, I haven't seen any of my friends except in my dreams. I admit, making new friends in a completely different school from Mahora wasn't bad at all, but that was just it. It wasn't Mahora. I didn't have any of my friends there. And Negi-sensei wasn't there.
I can't say it wasn't fun, just... lonely. And now I've gone blind. It feels just awful. If this does not work, I won't be able to see for the rest of my life. I won't be able to see the looks on my friends' faces when I meet them again. Negi-sensei's smile is just... I can't go back with being blind.
Many would say that being blind isn't so bad as it's made up to be really, but I refuse to have blindness as my fault. I just can't accept it. I won't accept it. Am I selfish for this?
No. I am not selfish. I am not doing this for myself. I go through this for my friends. I go through this because I am not a pushover person. I do this for the fact that they would be sad should they learn of this.
Eldath, I do this for love.
Then her whole world lit up.
The next thing everybody knew, the pool shone like crazy and then Miyazaki burst out of the water, gasping for air and unintentionally showing what goods she had. None were paying attention to the sight of that, because the medic had already walked up and focused on her eyesight.
"Follow the light?" She asked when he had asked how she felt. He merely chuckled and lit up the torch for her. She followed it perfectly.
"Light test decent enough," he concluded. "Now, is there something else?"
"Yes, actually," Nodoka said. "Will somebody quit staring at me and get me some clothes for me to wear! And not the drow style of clothing, either. I can tell the difference."
Much to hilarity's sake and their relief, nearly everyone took it as a sign that her sight was restored completely and some started celebrating early. One of them did get her clothes out for her.
Shakti walked away a small distance and against the still rising sun, she raised her arms and spoke softly.
Around that time
Gromph wasn't paying much attention to his newly given equipment for this excursions and focused more on what he was going to use for certain once he was there.
Springfield may be a boy to the humans, but as a mage, the drow could scarcely imagine a more dangerous opponent. Gromph did have spells that could damage his Magia Erebea transmutation, but he needed to have the time to cast them. And even then, he had no definitive proof that the spells capable of doing so would have great effect.
Of the spells he knew, several could help;
1. The basic magic missile: while similar to their sagitta magicka which Springfield had mastered, Baenre's own could at least hurt transparent figures like ghosts. With fortune, that could mean the human's lightning form.
2. Dispel Magic: The paradox spell. Magic that neglected the use of other magic. Gromph was well aware of this potency and was hoping that his knowledge of abjuration would be enough.
3. Anything that rendered Springfield immovable. The human mage specialized in mobility and firepower, not defense of himself. The drow sadly, had chosen to remove the primary magic school that allowed the pause of maneuverability so he would be forced to improvise and be creative.
4. Necromancy. If there was at least one school Miyazaki's world did not practice, it would be the art of life energy. Healing existed, but that was a school of its own. Gromph on the other hand, was a master of the dark manipulation of stealing life force while increasing his own. Many had fallen to him because of it. Save one, who had been even better.
There were many more spells and wands he could use, but he couldn't pick them all and expect to come out on top. Springfield had powerful allies beside him: Ayase, Sakurazaki, Nagase, Hasegawa. He didn't have a full idea on how Hasegawa could be a threat to him but-
"Mission successful. Miyazaki can see. Long journey back to Menzoberranzan. Will proceed with caution. Will attempt to find portal to take us back. Your reply?"
Hunzrin's words came to him in a flash. The mission had been a success for them and Miyazaki could see again. He had of course, been keeping an eye on them for some time to make sure they weren't attacked.
If he was relieved, he certainly didn't show it with so many about. His sister Matron Quenthel came by and stopped by him, having recognized the call of a Sending. He gestured for her to be quiet while he figured out a reply to Hunzrin.
Several came to his mind to instruct them to come back as fast as possible, but there was cause to let them take the slow time coming back.
He made his decision.
"Good. No need to find a portal. Let Miyazaki enjoy time on the surface while up there. Find High Forest cave for return." He pondered on his two remaining words to say, but the words best suitably were for Miyazaki rather than Hunzrin. Hopefully she would understand who they were for. "Take care."
The spell ended for him there. "Success?" Quenthel asked him now that he had finished.
"Success. We can move out," he replied and gathered the equipment he was to have: A long coat with inner pockets filled to the brim and sockets packed with wands almost everywhere. There were even a pair inside the sleeves of the coat. Underneath his newly acquired coat, there was a small harness made of stiff and strong fibers. Kevlar, the githyanki had called them. There were several other pieces of clothing for him to wear and it all gave off a radiation of magic to him.
Several members of the expedition gathered around him. Quenthel, his first cousin Nauzhror, his nephew Prath (not Quenthel's), the Duskryn commander and daughter to the Matron, Ariel Duskryn, a rare albino of the drow, Kimmuriel Oblodra and his chosen retinue Valas Hune, the three recently hired adventurers from the surface, and the githyanki general Osyrimon.
"We leave at once," he told them.
"Portal's all ready for you, my lord," a soldier called for him as he walked up to it.
Portals were a bit tricky. He could activate it and all, but usually it required a second one on the other side. Fortunately, he had a blind spot where he could activate it safely.
Gromph spoke the carefully selected words and directed his gathered magic surge toward the portal and when he was done, it responded. The portal swirled wide open for him and he saw an empty space underground for them all to arrive in.
Someone else placed themselves beside him and assumed his same pose, taking control of the portal. He saw him as the sorcerer Ral who nodded for him to go first into the gate.
Quenthel was way ahead, rushing in and jumping through the gate before neither of them could register she had done so.
In the same empty chamber
She teleported herself into the great gateway chamber and sighed, "Another world, another chance to find him..."
How long has she been traveling between the worlds, again? Lost count. It felt like a sad existence and yet it wasn't. She had seen a lot in her time, meeting them all over again. Once they were finished or passed away, she moved on. Not once has she found him, though. It's getting bothersome. Always, he slips away from her grasp.
His son remained though, so she settled for him at times. Sometimes she'd marry him, sometimes they fought and sometimes they went off for a little quickie with each other once in a while. Patterns quickly arose.
There was, though, this one time in which things were more... decadent. She didn't wish to think on that for a while.
Wait, where was she again? Oh, right, the gateway to Ostia. She wondered what was different here, this time. The usual was that he lived with someone else, other than that, there wasn't much change with their lives.
Hell, maybe she'd just go and ra-
That other portal came out of nowhere. Not willing to draw attention to herself, she rendered herself invisible while waiting for whatever would come out.
First out came a short black-skinned beauty in a modest white dress, jumping through and landing on the causeway a feet away from her. A few seconds later, came an equally skinned man, handsome and skilled, she could smell the magic on him a mile away. He floated and landed next to the woman.
The portal remained open for a long time, allowing a large number to pour through before it closed. Most were black of skin and white of hair, one was white of hair and pale of skin though she was akin to the blackies.
One stood out, though. In light blue armor and having a long sword attached to his back and wearing a helmet, his face was definitely not human. He had arrived in a large truck-like vehicle, which surely held more of his kind. She could only spot one human and he was wearing more medieval-ish armor compared to the rest.
The first female spoke harsh words, her voice carrying sweetness within that angry tone and then the nonhuman gestured. She was right in that the truck carried more of his kind and they were carrying materials in boxes. Some of the boxes were floating by themselves.
Then the first man spoke in a calculated tone and then they moved out, the human and his two female friends followed nervously.
The invisible spectator just had to smile to herself. This time, things were definitely different.
Maneuvering through underground tunnels based on memories alone was not easy. Gromph recalled that there was a dragon down in these parts and everything would be over if they ran into him.
Fortune guiding them, the drow and the githyanki found themselves at a large cavern illuminated by the roots of the "World Tree" up top.
"This is a good spot," Hune reported after scouting out ahead. "The cavern is empty save for bookshelves and there is running water down there."
"Any signs of great beasts lumbering about?" Quenthel asked of him.
"None, Mistress," The mercenary replied. "Even a dragon would need a place to rest, and it is not here if there is any."
"Then we'll establish a small base of operations here," Osyrimon spoke. He motioned for the truck to move in and it drove in first ahead of the column stopping by the water bank. The engineers in there came out with their construction material. "Alright, what is our next step from here, Archmage?"
Gromph looked around to determine which was the way up from there. Once again, Miyazaki's memories served him well. But he needed to hide it. "Oblodra, send your scouts ahead to see if they can find any fast route to the surface above."
Oblodra nodded and went on first with twelve of his men.
"Duskryn," Gromph addressed the young heir. "You are to stay here for a while and await further orders. We'll send for you."
"Understood," Duskryn spoke softly before going down to the engineers. Duskryn was a house on the rise, but to have a szarkai in their ranks and as the heir to whole house... matron Berni'th had cause to hide her from the rest of the city. No doubt her heir was a powerful cleric in her own right. Not too bad to look at, either.
He shrugged off those thoughts and turned to the others. "The rest of us should assume disguises and go with names different from our real ones. We are to infiltrate, primarily, and therefore, we're to eschew mention of anything that goes back to our real identities." A hand was raised. "Yes?"
"Is that why matron Baenre is wearing a white dress?"
"No, Wysiwyg. I just simply love the color white. It goes with my eyes." Several who were there just had to resist giggling, lest they lose credibility in front of the rookies. "Just think of some human names for yourself to use and then assume an illusion portraying yourself as human."
"Shouldn't be too hard for me," The warrior-priest said. "I already got the second part done." This time a few of them chuckled.
Think of the final result, Gromph's Evil whispered in his ear. It'll pay off eventually. Miyazaki is secure so we can focus on getting what we want.
As long as we don't kill anyone she'd consider important to her, Gromph replied to him.
Anything could happen at this point now. Gromph would be certain that if anything were to go wrong, it would. No plan ever went as planned so you had to adapt to new situations constantly. The drow were masters at scheming and intrigue, so he could handle whatever came their way.
And now we cut to the Road of Random Accidents
All six of them panted, heavily. That Girallion was not an easy pushover for them. Well, two of them could have handled it on their own but the other four couldn't. Before that, there was the stampede of Kodo beasts made out of tofu.
And the creepy dolls before that.
Followed by those weird frog people.
And then the falling rocks out of nowhere.
"Okay, this is getting real. I'm starting to think that this god of chaos is out to try and kill us," said Nailbrain between his panting.
"Hehe, no," Jarlaxle responded. "If he really was out to kill us, then he'd just do it himself. Deities tend to be like that."
"So, we go on?" Huelun asked their competent leader.
"Look, if we just bear with this until the end of the road, we can get out of here without having to cross this road again," Fashtar told them. Then Thorgar freaked out all of a sudden and ran off to throw himself out the window. "That wasn't there five seconds ago," was all the wizard could note.
Thorgar landed behind them two seconds later. "Ow."
"Thorgar, would it be too much to ask what spooked you?" Gorim walked over to give their great warrior some healing.
"I... saw one of those badgers, like the one we gave that girl," Thorgar replied after taking a few breaths.
"A Honey badger?"
"Yes, that. Except this was the big dire version of one, big as a bear and teeth covered in blood. And it was looking straight at me like it was hungry."
"We didn't see anything," said Huelun.
"Okay, we move on." Jarlaxle took the next first step. "We're here on a mission to get to the other side of this road. Right now, we're in the calm of the storm before he throws the worst he has at us."
Then he fell down a hole. "Jarlaxle?" The group cried for him. "Hey, you can't die just yet, you still owe me a drink!" Huelun yelled after him.
"Hey!" He yelled back cheerfully. "There's a lounge down here! You would not believe the sights I'm- Hey, they're bringing in girls and men onto the stage for dancing! You gotta see this!"
Feeling like they had caught a break, they jumped down the hole and found out it was a lounge filled with people drinking, dancers performing and everyone having a jolly good time. The downside was that there was a lot of debris lying around, like broken chairs and tables, a window was broken.
"Okay, this seems good," Fashtar said. "But I'm holding out my gun just in case this all goes wrong. I just know something will."
Continued in part 3: Getting acquainted, Sparring matches, Unrumble!, A date (date-peepers included)