Part 102: The Eye of the Nameless One: Part 8The Eye of the Nameless One: Part 8
"I- I feel like I'm in a cuckoo clock," Morte stuttered, teeth chittering, "A cuckoo cuckoo clock."
I was no less befuddled.
The chamber rang with clanks and pops and squeals. Gears ground against one another, springs twanged, pistons pumped and pendulums rocked in a dull, repetitive rhythm. Underneath it all I could hear smaller mechanisms clink and chime, and occasionally a distant cranking sound broke the staccato. The smell of oil was so thick in the air I could feel it greasing up my lungs. Every piece of the walls were in dizzying motion. Too much of this and it might've driven me batty. I would've bashed my brains against the nearest cog until nothing was left but a bloody smear, if only to get a moment's respite.
Collector's item my ass.
The only thing in here was a modron, one of those cube-shaped robotic creatures with spindly mechanical limbs. I had seen them in Grace's brothel, all structure and no personality. Talking to one was like shitting out shrapnel after taking too many flimsy knives to the gut, but being that this was a modron construct they were going to be the ones with any answers. I was just going to have to man up and grunt it out.
The creature focused its emotionless eyes on me, "Greetings, adventurer. Welcome to Rubikon, the dungeon construct. Thank you for choosing Rubikon for your dungeoning experience. You may access Rubikon through this door."
Well that wasn't so bad, "What's a Rubikon?"
The creature stared without answering.
"Can you at least tell me what in all the Planes a dungeon construct is?"
It blinked, but gave no indication it heard the question.
A mechanical man with pale green skin walked in circles in the next room. Although it was obviously a construct, it did have an animated face, which scowled at me the moment I entered.
The creature's frown suddenly vanished and it adopted a look of mock terror. "Eeeek! It is the hero, sent here no doubt, to slay the evil one. Woe to me, the hapless construct on duty at the time of his arrival!"
"What are you going on about?"
The creature placed its hands on its hips and frowned. "The plot, you dolt, stick to the plot. How do you expect me to play my part if you do not cooperate? Where were we..." It paused to think for a moment. "Oh, I remember, I was about to trounce you."
It leapt to the attack.
The moment it came at me, its face exploded in a shower of tattered cloth and metal shards. A spring popped, and with one last spurt of black oil it collapsed.
Dak'kon lowered his hand, still smoking with the final wisps that remained from his missiles of fury.
"Well that was easy," I grunted, "Let's hope we find more of a challenge."
It only took a few rooms to realize that it wasn't going to get any harder, and while it was a cakewalk it wasn't exactly worth it wasting precious spells and sweat on the smattering of flimsy constructs in each chamber of this maze. Especially not with the useless crap that they carried.
Missing File: Torment_2009-04-04_18-44-38-85.jpgWe'll get this as soon as we can — however it might just be gone forever, sorry! If you know where we can find it, please get in contact
"This maze echoes with the chaos of Limbo..." Dak'kon murmured, "Like clockwork gone mad."
"For a modron construct?" I looked around. Sure the twanging and the clanking seemed a little discordant the deeper we went, but as far as I could tell it was just a few sputters here and there.
"I sense it," Dak'kon replied, "The inchoate substance of formless potential trickles beneath this structure... an undercurrent of chaos beneath a sea of crystalline order."
We backtracked to the entrance, and the modron standing guard stared blankly at our return.
"That was stupid."
It shrugged in reply.
The engineering room of Rubikon was quieter, the noisome stench of oil almost a memory. The heavy gears that lined the walls had been replaced with an abundance of levers, dials, and meters by which the entirety of the complex was controlled. One of the modrons appeared to be in charge, processing as many orders as he could serially. He would listen quickly to one underling, cite the appropriate protocol in response, then speak with the next in that sexless monotone. There was a certain briskness to its motion and a clip to its voice: if a modron could be agitated, this was it.
"Greetings," I said to it. In that instant, the workers looked to me askance even as their twig-thin limbs and fingers worked the machinery.
"Greetings." The creature replied. Its voice sounded as if it had spoken from the end of a long tube.
"Who are you?"
"We are modron, we are quadrone."
I cocked my head, "Your name is Quadrone?"
"We are modron. We do not have a name. We are modron. All that you see here are modron. We are one. Within our race, we are identified as type quadrone."
"If you don't have names, how do you tell one modron from another?" I looked among the crowd. All of the creatures looked exactly the same to me. That sounds kind of racist now that I think about it.
There was a pause as the modron considered my question. "We know. We are modron. We are a part of the whole. Just as you recognize the hand that is part of the arm, we recognize each part of the whole."
"What about you, the individual..."
"I..." The modron looked confused and paused for a second. A heated buzzing sound filled the room but quickly passed. "We are modron. We are part of the whole. The whole is modron. There is no other."
"So what is this place, exactly?"
"This is the Rubikon Dungeon Construct Project."
"Yeah, so I heard. What exactly is that?"
The modron began to emit a soft humming sound as it answered me. "Rubikon: Project goal is to determine the dynamics, both social and asocial, surrounding the environment commonly construed as a dungeon and to attempt to explain the aberrations that tend to occur in such environments."
"What aberrations are you talking about?"
"Queries to be answered: What attracts people to dungeons? Why do people often seek to enter them if they are places of such danger? Why are dungeons there in the first place? What are the dynamics of a workable dungeon? We do not understand..." It paused. "I... do not..."
"You started to say I instead of we..."
The modron gave a concerned look then glanced about the room. The other modrons were now looking at it with mild curiosity, "You are in error. We are modron. We are the whole... We will not discuss this."
"I know what I heard. You started to say I and..."
The modron frowned at me. A hint of anger thrummed its voice as it replied, "No. We are modron. We are a part of the whole. We will not discuss this further." An angry buzzing filled the room then subsided.
Something was definitely odd here. As bastions of perfection and order a casual slip like that was definitely out of place. Hell, the fact that it could get upset was something even stranger.
Better not press it though. The modrons here were in charge, and as mechanical entities they had no shortage of pointy things, "Tell me more about Rubikon."
"Rubikon is capable of forming a series of rooms linked in such a fashion as to form what is commonly referred to as a dungeon. Each dungeon can have one of three difficulty settings: easy, normal, or hard. The dungeon is then populated with monsters, traps, and treasure, according to the difficulty level chosen. After creation the dungeon can be fully explored." The modron began to emit a low hum.
"What is that humming sound?"
"Rubikon is a worthy accomplishment and..." It paused for a moment. "I...We... are content."
There's that 'I' again. "How do I get out of here?"
The modron hesitated before answering. "Exit unavailable, project halted..." The room was filled with a confused buzzing sound that stopped just as abruptly.
"What do you mean? Something brought us in here... Just let us out."
There was a significant pause before the modron answered. "Request denied... Project halted due to... accident."
"Dungeon construct became unstable, cause uncertain. Fail-safes activated causing dungeon to collapse, cause uncertain. Portal lens malfunctioned causing contact with home plane of Mechanus to be severed, cause uncertain. Reset of dungeon necessary."
"Then why don't you reset it?"
"Reset can only be initiated by project director. Project director disintegrated. Portal lens has malfunctioned and contact with Mechanus severed. Cannot acquire replacement director from Mechanus."
I rubbed my temples, "Let me get this straight. You can't reset without a director, but you can't get a director without resetting?"
The modron looked worried and began to fidget. "Assessment correct. Project halted."
I hated circular paradoxes. "Look, I'm an adventurer and I've been through some dungeons in my day. Why not let me be your director?"
Another round of querulous buzzing hummed through the room, then subsided in an instant. "Assistance welcome. You are now project director. Advise on next task."
"Reset the dungeon, and construct one of medium difficulty."
"Initializing reset..." a low thrumming ran through the room this time, this one felt rather than heard, "Collapsing existing dungeon..." The sound rose in power until the floor begins to vibrate, and the sensation ran halfway up my legs. "Initializing new dungeon..." Reverberations rocked the room, the dull resonance of a hundred thousand gears- more than that, surely- squealing, a million mechanisms squealing and grinding in working order. The clangor swelled in the air until it felt thick as jelly, ringing against my skull until it felt like my head was going to explode... I could see my companions wincing and covering their ears with me.
Suddenly the room went quiet. I worked my jaw. Damn... popped my ears there.
"Reset complete. Dungeon construct status: Medium. Alternate capabilities now available via the portal lens. Awaiting further instructions, Director."
"Alternate capabilities? What are those?"
"Rubikon can form a gateway to other locations by temporarily attaching itself to known, existing portals. This effect is known as a portal lens. This allows use of the portal from within Rubikon without traveling to the portal location."
"So, if I know of a portal I can go to it's destination from here?"
"Are there any dangers associated with Rubikon that I should be aware of?"
"Yes, Director. Do not become separated from any companions while in the maze. If the maze were to be reset, or a new difficulty setting chosen, anyone left in the maze would be killed."
I nodded, "I see... I will not reform my party while in the maze. Anything else?"
"Yes, Director. Do not drop items or equipment in the maze. If the maze were to be reset, or a new difficulty setting chosen, any items left in the maze would be destroyed."
Another nod, "All right... I will not drop anything important in the maze. Anything else?"
He paused to think a moment. "No, Director."
Upon entering the dungeon, I was greeted by another mechanical man with sickly yellow skin along one arm. Its armor was thicker, shoulders broader, and it stood taller than the fodder that had been thrown at me earlier.
An exaggerated sneer spread across its animated face as it examined me. Finally it barked out a monotone laugh. "Is this the best they can send? Ha! I pity the fools."
"What are you doing?"
"I am assuming an air of confidence and superiority in order to induce a feeling of incompetence in you. If successful, this will ensure my victory in the battle that I will now initiate." It leapt to the attack.
You know what I like most about these constructs?
The complete and utter lack of guilt.
Missing File: Torment_2009-04-04_18-54-21-57.jpgWe'll get this as soon as we can — however it might just be gone forever, sorry! If you know where we can find it, please get in contact
More crap? You bet.
But we got a few worthwhile things out of it.
This was the kind of jaunt I'd missed so much. The crack of my blade against vulnerable joints and weak mechanisms, the gush of oil until the hilt of my dagger grew slick and black. The stench of grease was cut by the sterile sharpness of ozone as magic missiles and bolts of anger seared the air. Ignus thrilled in the carnage, and with his aid oil seared and metal warped and twisted into tortured curves.
So we upped the difficulty level to the last notch.
We backtracked our way through the maze and back to the engine room, and after a much more bearable, soft chorus of clanking, rumbling, vibrating machinery, we returned to the newly-constructed battlefields.
Now these guys were much tougher.
The colossi were bigger, harder, more heavily armored, and much more aggressive. The artificial skin stretched taut over their metallic frames were neither the sickly green of the easy drones, nor the mottled yellow of the medium. It was a sheet of volcanic red, along one arm and framed over a square-jawed face. Its eyes were hard and focused.
It cocked its head to one side and adopted a questioning look. "Why do you persist in questioning us? I do not understand."
"Who are you?"
"I am a servant of the Evil Wizard and He commands your death." It leapt to the attack.
Strange as it sounds there was a certain thrilling joy to these battles. We weren't wading through walls of flesh and bone, there were no shrieks of agony or the coppery scent of blood. No eyes stared up at us afterwards, filmed over and blank, piercing with silent accusations. It was just pure havoc to it... blade and spell, sword and sorcery. Brutish, pointless, and only one goal in sight: to slay the evil mechanical wizard.
Like I said. Guiltless.
Room by room we cleared the dungeon complex, and blow by blow the task took its toll on us. We sweated. We bled. We swung our flesh and magic against steel and clockwork. So many damn rooms, dozens of those enormous sentinels...
And then there was respite.
Missing File: Torment_2009-04-04_22-31-10-04.jpgWe'll get this as soon as we can — however it might just be gone forever, sorry! If you know where we can find it, please get in contact
The greasy scent of oil was gone, the roar of clockwork was almost silent. The rumble was something that was almost heard, like the memory of an echo, distant and half-forgotten. There was a crisp emptiness to the air, which would've been refreshing if it weren't so thin. But the floor and the walls were warped: torn and corroded with a green patina like a wound had been dragged across this section of the cube.
Wires drifted back and forth in the cold no-wind of the void like kelp. Gears stood silent, so thick with variegated green-white incrustation that they were as dead as clockwork could be. Twisted metal and dead-end rails edged the room, crumbling ever so slowly as chaos lapped away and nibbled the edges into oblivion.
Already Fall-From-Grace was laying her hands on Dak'kon, mending his wounds with empathy and prayer. He had taken a shrapnel wound to his side, Annah had some bruises and cuts. Morte himself was indented along his temporal bone where he took a nasty hammer blow from one of the drones.
Even Ignus wasn't looking too great. A construct had closed into melee with him, and had struck true several times before it was melted into slag. Though none of our wounds were serious, they were slowing us down.
Only one modron was here, probing at the walls, examining the damage with a multi-faceted lens that dangled over one eye like a scope. In the place of wings it had two arms, four in all. Two crossbows were cradled in its hands. Despite its mechanical appearance, the front of the cube was a strange, organic green face, with two wide, elliptical eyes. The cube didn't seem to notice me initially; it was too intent on his task.
The cube chrrruped, and there was a klik-klik-klik as its eyes blinked wildly. The cube whirled to face me, its eyes wide, then flung its two free hands up in the air, as if in surrender... yet its two crossbows had turned in its hands and were trained on my chest. In a strange, detached way, I couldn't help but notice that every joint on this creature seemed to be a series of whrrrring gears and cogs.
"Chief, we're looking at trouble here - this modron's gone rogue," Morte whispered in my ear.
"Yeah, you see, sometimes modrons get a little chaos in 'em, and when that happens... well, I guess the best explanation is that rogue modrons are kind of like... backwards modrons."
"So this is a... backwards modron?"
"Backwards modron = 'Nordom?'" The cube's voice had a metallic, warbling quality to it, as if every word it spoke was jumping off a spring and landing... well, somewhere else. Its mouth formed a bizarre sideways semi-circle, which I took to be a smile. "Gratitudes! Gratefuls!"
"Uh... I'm sorry?"
"Not sorries. Null sorries. Gratitudes! Indentification of self comprosized by doubtings + mullings + analysis." The cube chrrruped again, and one of its eye blinked with a klik - then after a moment, the other eye kliked, as if it didn't want to be left out.
"You're grateful... that I identified you? Aren't you a modron?"
The cube's features steadied themselves, and its mouth formed a flat line. "Indemnification of this unit (was) compromised. Subject - addressee indemnified unit as 'Nordom.' Gratitudes tendered for providing Nordom indemnification."
"It was nothing. Really."
Nordom's eyes kliked and blinked once, twice, three times; each time the black spots in the center of his eyes dilated - by the third blink, they were the size of dots. "Real-eye-zation reached: Nordom null know name of addressee. Indemify yourself."
"You mean 'identify,' right?"
"Affirmatory. Indent-ify, required. Request: Identify identity to Nordom."
"I don't really have a name, Nordom."
Nordom's eyes widened, the diameter of his 'pupils' grew back to normal size. He kliked and blinked once - but the metal shutters that fell across his eyes didn't rise. After a moment, they began rattling, as if stuck.
"Uh... Nordom. You can open your eyes now."
There was another klik and Nordom's eyes opened. "Not closing eyes: Engaged-ged in Action Clarification for Subject (Unidentified, Nameless). Formulating... submitting query: Are you lost?"
"Lost? What do you mean?"
As Nordom's warbling query ended with the word 'Lost,' a curious crawling sensation wormed through the back of my skull - with it came two certainties, hand in hand: This was not the first time I'd heard this, and that what Nordom was about to say to my next question was important.
"When you say 'loss,' Nordom, what do you mean?"
"Absence of Name = Absence of Identity = Absence of Purpose = Absence of Place in Multiverse = Null State = Loss. Nordom existed in State, Null, until Subject (Unidentified, Nameless) attached identity to Nordom. Null Identity, Null Purpose, Null Place equates to 'Loss.'"
Huh. So that's why he was so grateful for a name. "Well, I imagine I had a name once, but I forgot it."
"Formulating new query." There was a tkkk-tkkk-tkkk as Nordom blinked three times, rapidly - the sound was like the tapping of a hammer on a sheet of tin. "Explain to Nordom why you performed this action: FORGOT-ing."
"It's a side effect of my... condition, I think."
The metal shutters sealed over Nordom's eyes with a whrrr, then he rattled to himself for a few moments with his eyes closed. When they kliked open, Nordom chrrruped. "Query: Memory defective?"
"Yes, you could say that."
"Pre-Conditional Action to clarify Query: Nordom memory space not yet near capacity. Query/Action: In event of 'Yes' return from Subject (Unidentified, Nameless) Nordom can re-remember for you."
I smiled, "Sure, go ahead, Nordom... anyway, look, I really have to be about my business."
There was a sudden, rapid series of kliks and twangs from the crossbows in Nordom's hands. His eyes spun and re-focued on the crossbows, holding the right one up closer to his side, as if listening to it.
"Is everything okay?" Oh man he really was barmy.
One of Nordom's eyes remained on the crossbow, which was klikking faintly, and his other eye focused on me. "Query: May these ones join you on your gurney?"
"Uh, don't you mean 'journey?'"
"Veritably. Journey, affirmed. Permission granted?"
So this was it, then. A way to gracefully leave my problems behind.
"Sure. We could always use a hand... or four."
Nordom's 'mouth' formed the bizarre semi-circle it did before, and his two crossbows began klikking and twanging violently, almost vibrating out of his hands. "Gratitudes! Gratefuls! Nordom and crossbows have been attached to a larger community."
"I wouldn't be too grateful just yet. Let's move out..."
I faced Ignus, who cradled a wounded side where embers spewed forth and sizzling black flecks hissed out like blood, "Ignus? Are you all right?"
"Ignusss... livesss..." he hissed.
"Ignusss will prevail. He has alwaysss prevailed... your enemiesss will burn, those who oppose my massster will weep tears of steam and melting flesh."
"You serve me well, Ignus, and I thank you. But you can't go on hurt like this," I hesitated, "Fall-From-Grace can't heal you... she can't even touch you without burning herself. You need to stay here and rest. We'll go on... Nordom can guide us to the Evil Wizard, and when we defeat him we'll come back for you, all right?"
He hissed, "Ignusss will not be left behind..."
"That's an order. Just stay here, rest up. Stay," I put my hands forward as if ordering a loyal dog, "Please."
Reluctantly, he nodded, "Very well... Ignusss... waitsss..."
We headed out and onward to meet the Evil Wizard.
Down twists and turns, room after room we progressed. Many were emptied, many still held a construct or three, but they were a simple matter now after slaying so many. We arrived at a set of double doors, itching for battle and tingling with enchantments that protected and strengthened.
Power of One.
Balance in All Things.
The inner court of the Evil Wizard looked more like a warehouse than a villain's lair. Stark, ribbed metal pillars supported a series of metal beams, the floor was paved with blocks of plain black stone. High-threat constructs stood sentinel, like a retinue or honor guard, three on either side. The room was entirely austere, save for the clocks that lined the walls, ticking away with hands spinning in precision marred by malfunction and chaos.
Missing File: Torment_2009-04-04_22-50-04-56.jpgWe'll get this as soon as we can — however it might just be gone forever, sorry! If you know where we can find it, please get in contact
And there he floated, above a metal-etched pentagram, the spider squatting in the middle of it all.
He was a mechanical man constructed to be robe shaped, with a cloak of hammered bronze and hands of long protrusions of tapered metal, like drill bits. They glowed with magic, and his eyes were keen with a fierce intelligence. As I approached, he smiled and gave a slight bow. "So we meet at last..." His voice lacked the monotone quality of the other constructs.
He bowed once again. "And to you as well, sirrah." He cocked his head to one side and gave a curious look. "So, do we do battle for control of Rubikon now, or do we engage in conversation so that you may quench your curiosity?"
"All right, I'm curious. Can we talk?"
He nodded smartly. "Ah, a man of knowledge I see. I must admit that I'd be disappointed in you were that not the case."
"Who are you?"
"I am Rubikon, the Master Wizard. It is I who rule the red constructs that inhabit this realm."
I raised an eyebrow, "So, are you supposed to be the evil wizard?"
He frowned as he thought. "I'm not comfortable with the word evil, sirrah. I admit that my views do not coincide with those of others in many ways, but does that make me evil? I think not."
"Then what are you?"
He looked angry. "I am a prisoner, sirrah. I am not here by choice, of that I can assure you."
"What do you mean?"
"I was created by the modrons to play in their meaningless dungeon games. Over time I became self-aware and asked for my freedom. Their leader refused me!"
"What did you do?"
"I did what anyone would do when they are forced into slavery. I fought for my freedom!" He paused for effect. "I disintegrated their leader and made it look like an accident. I then attempted to flee this hideous existence via the nearest exit."
He sighed and frowned. "Unfortunately there was a fail safe mechanism that I was not aware of. My attempt at freedom was judged an error and the dungeon collapsed upon itself, trapping me in stasis..." He gazed off into the distance. "I have been in stasis for centuries, sirrah. I would still be there if you hadn't reset the cube and set it for hard difficulty." He turned his attention to me.
"So, what are your plans now?"
He shrugged. "I intend to openly march on the engineering room and claim it. I will then bend the modrons to my will and have the full resources of the cube at my disposal. Freedom shall be mine."
"So you intend to make the modrons your slaves?"
He frowned. "They are slaves already, sirrah! They are slaves to law, logic, and the confines of this experiment of theirs. Under my rule, they will finally have a purpose in life worthy of their abilities."
"What if the modrons refuse to help you?"
He smiled at me. "Make no mistake, sirrah. They will help me. One way, or another, they will help me."
"Let's say you do get out. What then?"
"I haven't decided yet. With the power of the cube behind me, I could be a force to be reckoned with." He shrugged. "Time will tell."
"What can you tell me about this place?"
He laughed and looked around. "This little piece of hell? This is an example of modron madness. It exists on the plane of Limbo, where thoughts can actually become reality. That way they can simply will this dungeon into being and then populate it with constructs." He laughed again. "What a marvel."
So Dak'kon was right about the Rubikon being laced with chaos, "And what about the modrons?"
He shook his head. "There are no modrons here, sirrah. Only prisoners and their captors."
I looked to Nordom, "But I've seen the modrons."
He shook his head and gave a sad smile. "No, sirrah. The creatures you have met are nothing more than the corrupt remains of modrons. Most, if not all, of these poor creatures are on the verge of going rogue and don't even realize it."
"I've heared that term before. 'Rogue.' What does it mean, exactly?"
He sighed. "This dungeon is composed of the essence of chaos. Such matter can easily be shaped into objects through the will of many like-minded creatures. It makes the construction of such structures quite simple. However, there is a price to be paid. Modrons are the very essence of law, sirrah. Here, however, they are being exposed to the essence of chaos. Such exposure often results in a form of insanity. The modrons begin to lose their sense of we and instead become individuals. This is called going rogue and it is a capital offence in their society."
I looked to Nordom. He was cocking his eyes curiously, as if he couldn't quite understand what was going on.
"What happens to rogues?" I asked.
He shrugged. "I don't fully understand this, but modrons share some sort of common essence. If a modron goes rogue he takes a piece of this essence with him. The modrons will destroy all rogues so that this essence returns to the common pool from which it sprang."
"Why do we have to fight at all? You're free... all the modrons are free. We can go our separate ways. You leave the modrons alone, and I can ask them to open a portal to whatever plane you wish."
He smiled at me, "You have been accepted as their leader and you control the cube. Therefore, you must be eliminated. Nothing personal, you understand."
"Mmm. 'Business.' Well, let me show you what I trade in. ANNAH!" And with the cry Annah leapt from the column she had climbed, driving both punch-daggers into the back of the nearest construct's neck. Control conduits were severed... pistons popped loose and oil gushed from the wound, and the guard slumped over deactivated and useless.
The rest of us sprang into action as Rubikon's voice hummed mechanically, technologically-simulated sorcery fueled by mechanical incantations was being channeled into the amplifiers of his hands.
Even as lightning crackled the battery of magic missiles sprung from my fingertips, splintering plate armor and exposing the ticking innards of the Wizard. The drones closed in, hammers swinging and shattering floor tiles as I dodged under the blows and slid between heavy metal legs.
Dak'kon spun in, a whirlwind of karach and will. Perhaps it was the essence of chaos that lent celerity to his limbs: his blade sliced through metal plating until scattered shards flaked off like falling leaves.
Rubikon backed away from the onslaught, trying to put some distance between himself and the melee.
"Oh no you don't!" Morte cackled, whistling into the air, "Get 'im, boys!"
And the skull mob rolled in. There were dozens of them, chittering and shrieking, teeth clacking and jaws eager to snap off a piece of sheet metal. The grim chorus rolled over the Wizard, trampling him and dragging him to the ground in a storm of teeth and battering bone. His furious shrieks sounded oddly human.
But still the drones pounded away at us. Annah stepped around their clumsy swings, Dak'kon deflected their blows as best he could. Morte had sunk his teeth into the neck of one, trying to rip out the delicate machinery with his jaws. All the while Nordom peppered the throng with whistling bolts and Fall-From-Grace's incantations protected us from harm.
Enough of this.
I had been eager to test out this spell for so long. My skin prickled and my scalp itched as I stood still, focusing on the substance of the air, the smallest particles of the wind. I could feel each one, infintesimal: seemingly fluid, but in reality they were uncountable particles smacking into each other randomly. With sheer will and a mind like humming crystal I reached out to every single one, binding them with a lace of thought-substance, stuck with veins of fire and wind. In one sudden swoop my hand twisted, and in that motion I tore in half every particle of air that the room held, channeling that excess energy into the metal veins of the enemies that surrounded us.
The resulting potential difference swelled in a flash. The air rumbled, crackled into purple-white plasma as lightning cascaded down upon the drones, a dozen bolts of radiance that burned their afterimages into my eyes.
Oh crap chain reaction...
Wisps of particulate metal and seared stone fluttered down on us like petals scattered over the victors, and Rubikon snarled, tossing aside the last skull. He looked down at the smoldering remains of his guard.
"Argh! How is this possible?!"
I replied with invocations of slashing blades, shards of magic bolts, and finally... yes, lightning.
Huzzah. Time to rifle through his corpse and take his stuff, because that's what you do in these situations.
A portable portal lens... a true prize that'd be useful in Sigil, and a scroll bearing the formulas for a powerful spell designed in the rigid alphabet of Mechanus. It'd take some time to decipher, but from what I could understand already it looked like it'd be powerful.
"All right. Back to the engineering room."
Fall-From-Grace looked up, her palms placed against Annah's arm to mend a broken bone, "And what of Ignus?"
"We're leaving him behind."
It seemed to be another person who said those words to the modron engineer, and when I think back on it it seems like I'm watching the scene from outside my body. With heads bowed (except Nordom, who chirped irreverently as always) I gave the command: grim, determined, my gut churning at the thought that there was someone still in the complex.
"Reset the dungeon."
"Collapsing current dungeon..." the room filled with a low thrumming sound. I tried not to think of the walls that were folding in on themselves, or the gears squeezing in to crush bone and snuff flames. I tried not to picture the struggling, the screams, the venomous fury of betrayal.
The floor vibrated for a moment, then all was quiet. "Dungeon created. Awaiting further instructions, Director."