[Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

User avatar
Straken
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Straken »

Breathing deep as Jane passed over him, Ruarc forced his mind to focus and get his bearings. Pushing himself up he saw the silent display of Jane laying out the brute of a guard as the two crashed into a shrub. Off to the side, the smaller guard Ruarc had first clashed with was also gaining his feet again and was going for his sword. With a strong wind up the Irishman slammed his fist once more into the man's chin, finally putting him down for the count.

"Not nobility if he's taking three hits to the face like that," Ruarc joked, disregarding the fact that he was cloaked in magical silence. Gesturing to Jane with his hands clasped in front of him he pantomimed his thanks. Gesturing further, Ruarc motioned to help him move the guards further into the shrub, before leaving his silence rune at the feet of the unconscious men and for Jane to do the same. Moving in turn to each of the knocked out guards, the duo moved each one into the secluded corner. Reaching into one of his pouches he pulled out a handful of heavy duty zip ties, and began binding the hands and feet of the guards together and to the thick parts of the shrubbery.

"Thanks, by the by," Ruarc said in a hushed tone, converging on the sundial statue in the center of the garden.
User avatar
Mr. Blackbird Lore
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

The tedious process of concealing their handiwork was easily glossed over in her mind like any other chore. Ruarc pulled her from the meditation as they reconvened by the sundial. "Mm, ain't no thing. I c'n see why ye needed me now." She clapped her gloves together lightly, as if shaking off dust. "Lez get down t our real business." With hands planted on her hips, she glanced around from the sundial to the pointing statues, then back to Ruarc. "This is the part where ye solve the riddle with a masterful monologue of esoteric history and fergotten lore or some such."
User avatar
Straken
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Straken »

"Ah mean... maybe?" Ruarc muttered as he scratched his head. For one, a monologue would take time and potentially draw attention. For two, he had a sinking suspicion that it was something far more banal. The druid set about inspecting the statues in the courtyard, finding much the same as Jane had reported. Three primary statues, the center of which, Saint Peter, was holding a scroll of eroded Latin proverbs; the only notable addition being what could be described as a third grader's attempt at Roman numerals. Noting the sun dial, he quickly made his way to in and began playing with the disk. Aligning the V's of the VII, V, and IIV across the three disks, he hated to admit that he expected the ground beneath him to form a staircase. Instead, silence. Okay, fine, Ruarc would rationalize. Gazing around the garden, the statues were themed for holy men of the church, with three larger, more important statues. The odd man out was Pope Felix. A, well, mere Pope standing among a field of saints. Felix was the lead that brought them here in the first place.

"Felix..." Ruarc started as he dug through his crash course in Catholic history he had binged over the last few weeks. "Convened a synod, a gathering of the clergy. Helped precipitate the schism between East and West Roman Empire whilst dealing with heretics. This garden is the convened clergy to deal with heretics."

"Next, Paul..." Ruarc continued as he meandered to the opposite side of the courtyard. "Died a martyr. Holding a sword as its his symbol. Decapitated... Head bounced three times, creating well springs, giving him the moniker St Paul of the Three Fountains. Three fountains..."

Ruarc wheeled. Scanning the courtyard it took no time at all to spot the small fountains; more birdbaths or drinking fountains, but hey, there were three of them. Moving quicker, he went to the first one to inspect it. The dim light of the moon over head cast just enough light too see beneath the shallow water collecting in the basin. Beneath the faint shimmer Ruarc could see that silly incorrect numeral; IIV. "Three. Three main statues. Three fountains. Three spinning disks on the sundial. Three numbers held by Saint Peter, the Pope of Keys. If this isn't a secret entrance, Ah'm filing a complaint. But what am Ah missing?"

"Okay, Peter..." Ruarc waxed. heading back to the center of the garden. "First Pope. Holds the Key to Heaven. Was crucified upside... down. No. That'd be stupid."

Looking back at the sundial, the Irishman went back to it and inspected the dials. Pulling out a pocket knife, Ruarc risked damaging the ancient relic as he began to pry at the disks. To his surprise, the first one lifted fairly easily. On its underside, carved into stone masked from the elements, were upside down Roman numerals. Collecting the disks, he rearranged them into the order he had them before, only reversed and upside down.

Kerchunk

Ruarc's elation was short lived. The creator of this secret obviously hadn't intended for it to be accessed stealthily, as the stone grinding on stone began to grow louder as a massive slab of stone began to retract; exposing a darkened staircase leading down into the gloom. In moments it would be loud enough to alert the entire castle. Panicked, Ruarc looked across the courtyard towards Jane, the ensnared guards, and the two remaining silence runes.
User avatar
Mr. Blackbird Lore
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

Jane watched him with a knowing smile. A few minutes after his expressed his doubts, Ruarc was doing exactly as she's said, though it wasn't quite a monologue. As soon as the earth began to rumble beneath her feet, however, her eyes lit with alarm. When they locked with Ruarc's for just a moment, she pantomimed throwing one of the silence runes next to the deathly loud portal. At the same time she moved toward it, knowing that the clock had officially started counting down
User avatar
Straken
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Straken »

Ruarc was ready. While the adrenaline of the struggle had passed, the sudden noise hazard immediately had him on edge again. Jane threw the spare silence rune, and the small coin was immediately lost in the dim light of the nighttime courtyard. But he was focused. He couldn't afford to miss the catch. Eyes darting, he tried to glimpse the coin again, and then it hit him. The wall of barren soundlessness. Then, a little high in his vision, a momentary glint of light; the coin. He arm shot upward.

Toppling over from a loss of balance, Ruarc contorted his body to reach his hand over the center of the widening gap; the silence rune pinched in a vice grip between his index and middle fingers. The ground beneath him rumbled silently for a few moments more before finally coming to a rest. Sighing, he sat the coin on the edge of the opening before pushing himself up. Mild panic set in and he raced in a low crouch out of the zone and over to the edge of the courtyard. Screwing his eyes shut, he put all of his attention on listening for any indication of an alarm. Tense moments passed, but no alarm sounded. Had they managed to eek that one by? Turning towards Jane, he gave his partner in crime a thumbs up before beckoning her over. Taking the silence rune from by the stairs Ruarc sat the coin a short distance away by the statue of Saint Peter; if more guards were on the way, he didn't want to walk into an ambush on the way back up the stairs because he couldn't hear outside. That and they only had maybe ten or fifteen minutes of juice left in them. They needed to move quickly, and hope the tunnels below them weren't a maze. Reaching into has pack as he moved to the stairs, he drew out a light rune and a piece of chalk; just in case he needed to mark turns. Nodding at Jane, the two descended into the gloom of the castle undercroft.

The stairs extended down about thirty feet of stone steps. At their base, the sheer stone floor angled downward and into a curved hallway. "It must spiral further down," Ruarc extrapolated. He had expected the tunnel to be damp and stale in the manner that many subterranean tunnels tended to be, but he was surprised to find that while the air was stale it was remarkably dry. Walking with a sense of haste, the Irishman rounded the first bend to find a room carved into the stone of the interior wall. The aged remains of late medieval furniture provided evidence enough to tell this room would have housed a guard, and in the back of his mind pitied the men who got stationed in an enclosed secret tunnel. Continuing further down he began to see more rooms along the exterior wall, and he took a moment to mark the third room with his chalk before giving a quick once over. Three seemed to be the name of the game in this castle, so why not. It was unimpressive, and probably served as an office of sorts given the presence of a desk and a couple benches. Where was a vault, or hell, even anon the nose library? He didn't even want to consider the possibility that they had come all this way, fought guards, and discovered a bona fide secret passage just for the books they were searching for to be in a different castle.

The rooms that followed were barren. and the hallway had progressed down perhaps another rotation and a half before they came to the end. There was another guard room, and a dungeon cell. Fending off a feeling of dismay, Ruarc scanned the guard post and eventually the cell. As it happened, The cell seemed to be a special one. Inscribed into the stone wall beside the cell was a message.

The Pagan's Cell

Let the pagan shaman imprisoned within forever remain interred in this cell as a reminder that no heathen can pierce the heart of this bastion, and a warning to those that may try.
Lifting the light rune, Ruarc peered into the cell. At the back of the cell manacles were secured into mortared brick, and a skeleton lay in a collapsed heap of bones beneath them. Ruarc felt cold. The skeleton was wearing robes from his Order. Subconsciously he gripped the hem of his jacket. The wall behind the skeleton had been scraped and chipped in odd ways from where the individual had rubbed the manacles against the wall. Turning away, Ruarc rubbed his forehead. "Guess I'm not the first druid to try and break in here," he said, his tone grim.
User avatar
Mr. Blackbird Lore
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

The descent was uncomfortably peaceful. Hands opened in anticipation as, in their aggressive swinging to and fro, they passed heavy holsters. When they at least reached the cell, she almost didn't stop, but the skeleton in the corner of her eye seized her. Jane stopped, her duster swirling, and steely eyes fixed on those empty sockets. It stirred a strange anger in her, that leering, empty skull.

Finally, she scoffed. As she resumed her stomping down the ramp, she murmured just loud enough for Ruarc to make out: "Pageantry."
User avatar
Straken
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Straken »

Taking a deep breath, Ruarc knew the two did not have a lot of time to spare on his hesitation. Gripping the cold rusted iron bars of the cell door, he found it pulled out with a grating shriek of ancient metal. Given the angle of the floor and ceiling he had to get under the heavy metal to push it up. Stepping inside the air immediately felt as though it chilled him to his core. The floor angled steeper down into the cell, enough so that Ruarc had to shift or risk losing his balance. Turning back he hadn't realized that the cell almost looked up into the hallway, and it made him feel small and claustrophobic even though he was not chained.

At the back wall Ruarc inspected the skeleton. It was wholly decayed with nothing left but brittle bone. A number of its pieces had fallen to the ground with no connective tissue left, but otherwise it sat braced against the angled wall in much the way the poor lad must have died. The wall above the skeleton itself was a mess of scratches, likely from the druid trying to break the manacles.

"No," Ruarc mumbled. "That's not it."

Upon closer inspection there were letters hidden within the scratches. The druid must have scraped up the wall in order to hide the letters they carved in slightly deeper. Goosebumps ran over the Irishman's chilled skin. Scanning the wall quickly, he found the best approximation for a beginning. They were older rune from the early middle ages, and judging by their form he guessed this Druid was probably from Perth or Kinross region in Scotland. So as long as dialect didn't get in the way, he could probably translate it. A couple minutes later, he had it.

"They sat me on what I sought. No living can reach the prize, only the saintly. Cocky pricks," Ruarc read, giving a laugh at the final insult. Scanning the wall near the skeleton's pelvis, but saw nothing. Scanning the wall further, he found a brick of to the side of the cell where the wall met the floor was marked with a three-leafed clover; Saint Patrick's Shamrock, and Ireland's symbol of the Holy Trinity.

"Boy they love to lean into the Rule of Three, don't they?" Ruarc asked the room. Tentatively, he rapped his knuckle against the bricks surrounding the marked one, and sure enough the bricks sounded different than the rest of the cell. Trying a couple of options first to open whatever secret compartment might be there, he was met with no luck.

"Okay. Druid, my guy, did everyone deal in riddles back in your time?" Ruarc asked with an indignant huff. "No living; I.E. me; but what do you mean saintly. No living, so dead. Saintly. Dead saints. What do they do with dead saints. Relics, maybe?"

Looking sidelong at his skeleton companion, Ruarc's eyes drifted the the bone hands that had fallen to pieces at the base of wall. Reaching over, he hesitated for a moment before grabbing a boney fingertip. Carefully pressing it to the clover, the leaf he'd put pressure on sank into the wall. Excitement flared in his chest again as he set about repeating the process. He was quick to find all three leaves needed to be pressed in tandem, necessitating grabbing two more finger bones. Shortly following, a click sounded within the wall. The bricks seemed to turn to sand and fall away, revealing a hidden space. Inside the space was a modest trove of various cultural icons. Scrolls, goblets, a dagger, a gem, and the object of Ruarc's search; a bound stack of five Druidic tomes. The treasures glittered in the light of his rune, and he felt his breath catch in his throat. He looked at the skeleton sitting off to the side, and found he wished he knew their name so they could be remembered properly.

"Thank you, friend, you mission is done," Ruarc said as he began to scan the opening for possible traps. With nothing more to wait for, Ruarc sat the light rune on the ground next to him before leaning forward to reach inside the cavity, and grabbed the books gingerly with both hands. The response was immediate. A thunderous thwuum rang from the cavity, and the bricks that had turned once into sand reconstituted themselves into bricks before the Druid could withdraw. A painful pressure began to press onto his arms just above the elbows, and he cried out in a mix of pain and surprise. Twisting, he tried to pull himself free, but he was stuck. As he turned around to look to Jane, the second part of the trap sprung. From veiled openings in the dark ceiling sand began to pour down onto the Irishman's head. The stream of grains felt like a light punch to the head as the sand began to spill off and down his sides.

In the echoes of Ruarc's cry, laughing could be heard coming from the entrance to the sublevel. "Well this is exciting," rang a voice as clear as crystal. The woman sounded familiar to Jane. "I do believe this is the first instance of the trap activating. Tell me, are you just stuck, or is there actually something pouring onto you? Oh, pardon me, now isn't the time for curiosity. That shout sounded male, so would the woman please come on up? Turn yourself in, and we have means of deactivating the trap."

Ruarc's eyes were shaded as the light run became covered in sand, but Jane could see a quiet fear in her companion as sand poured over his kneeling form.
User avatar
Mr. Blackbird Lore
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

She stopped at the screech of ancient metal grating on itself, and watched as Ruarc unearthed and resolved yet another puzzle. "Three, indeed," she murmured. Then everything was happening faster than she could draw. Ruarc stuck; sand filling the room; and villains demanding her surrender to save a friend. It was an all too familiar scenario. Parsing her decision took little time, perhaps a second. The gunslinger couldn't shoot Ruarc free, nor pull him to safety. Even trying would just endanger herself. It left only one option. With silent and furious sigh, she ran up the ramp until she could see her captors, then raised her hands in surrender. But surrender is not defeat, she reminded herself.
User avatar
Straken
Posts: 665
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Straken »

"Well, well," chimed a chipper voice from the top of the stairs. "Good to see you again, American Woman. And how courteous, I don't even need to ask you to put your hands up. Now, mon ami, be a dear and exit the veryrestricted section. I'm afraid it isn't a part of the tour, you see."

From where Jane stood she could see the female tour guide accompanied by an absolute brute of a man standing at attention behind her. The woman was dressed quite different from her guide outfit from earlier. Now she was dressed in a burgundy pantsuit and a black overcoat. Sounds from outside the direct view suggested the presence of more soldiers.

"I do like the look of you," said the woman with a luxurious French accent as she leaned over the opening a bit; her eyes could remind Jane of a barn cat looking at a cornered mouse. "I loved watching Westerns with my Papa growing up. Clint Eastwood. Gary Cooper. John Wayne. Or should I call you Jane Wayne?"

Her laugh at her own joke rang with a silvery tone through the undercroft before she stood straight again.

"Now I'm sure this is where you dally down there, waiting for some spark of inspiration. However I am afraid the mage down there will be well buried by high noon. Wait to long and I'll just seal you both down there in the dark."

Back down in the cell, Ruarc had a hard time hearing the woman up the ramp over the hiss of pouring sand, and the push to keep himself from panicking. Keeping his head tilted towards the wall to keep sand out of his eyes, the Irishman ran through his options. None of his runes would help him even if he could reach them. His fissure spell could get him out, but the spell always lacked precision; so he'd be just as likely to crush his arms and everything in the vault as he was to break free. "C'mon, think Flynn, think!"
User avatar
Mr. Blackbird Lore
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Re: [Prelude] In the Pursuit of Knowledge

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore »

"It's Smith," Jane corrected, and as that elicited a reaction in the woman, Jane felt a personal desire to draw and rid the world of that smug, French face. But it wasn't the time. It was quite possible they were the only option for saving Ruarc. Then again, maybe they didn't even know how to turn it off. "I surrendered. Ye gonna turn off yer contraption er not?"
Post Reply