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Psynergy and Proxians

Chapter 4: Chapter 4

Chapter Notes:


I don't own GS (that's Camelot) or D&D (Wizards of the Coast.) Thank you to Leontinees for reviewing, and especially to CGA for betareading!

Garet and Kraden basically derailed this entire chapter. But I guess it makes good subplot material or something.

It wasn't that Garet was the kid who went looking for trouble. It was mostly that trouble found Garet.

Well, okay, that wasn't strictly true. Sometimes he sort of did do these things on purpose, in those occasional incidents where he hadn't expected consequences. Hanging around with Jenna probably didn't help. He still regretted helping her with that stuffed animal thing.

Either way, this constant magnetism between Garet and trouble seemed to exist in both real life and games. He had the worst luck when it came to bad match-ups and critical moments. Like a fool, he had once again let luck decide his fate. And once again, it had bitten him in the ass.

Not literally. That would be weird.

Personally, he blamed Felix. There had been no stealth roll, no dice to glare at and no solid rules to enforce his failure. He just forgot to whisper instead of chatting aloud, and Felix (the sneaky bastard) had roleplayed along.

Speaking of Felix, he was probably still talking, wasn't he? Garet tuned back in to his friend's monologue to check in on the action.

"The man stalks over to you three, glowering. He has a mean look to him and an elaborate deadly blade on his belt. Maaaaybe a little out of your league right now."

"Aw, come on," Garet began. "We can take him."

Jenna nodded, almost bouncing in her seat. "Finally!"

"Are you sure?" Isaac looked a bit nervous. Garet chalked it up to three years away from Jenna's brand of crazy, followed by being plunged headfirst back into it again. He did his best to reassure him it would be fine... ish.

"Hey, we'll be fine, really! Worst-case scenario, we have to all run away and fight him again a couple levels later or something."

"Right, guys," Jenna interrupted. "We don't have any buffs, so we're just going to need to use the element of surprise here, 'kay?"

Garet grinned. Showtime.

"The other stranger steps forward, her pointy ears twitching in rage.`Were you... eavesdropping on us?!'"

"Um... no?" Garet answered. An awkward pause surrounded the table.

"Well, you tell him, then," he hissed at Jenna. "You've got the good charisma score. Keep 'em from suspecting us until we sneak attack!"

"It's not a sneak attack if you mention it in front of them," Isaac pointed out.

"I said it out-of-game!" Garet protested. He wasn't going to be caught by the same mistake twice!

"It's fine," said Jenna. "Jasmine stands up straight and glares at him. 'Of course not,' she says."

Everyone heard the sounds of dice bouncing around behind the DM screen. Felix nodded.

"Your bluff check... works. Just barely. She shrugs and huffs out a frustrated sigh. 'I guess I should take you at your word,' she mutters."

Garet rolled his eyes. "Hey, you were the ones sneaking around!"

"The foreign man bristles at your accusation. 'Sneaking - who are you to accuse me of-' he begins. The woman interrupts him, though. 'So, Sclater's appointment was with you?' she asks." Felix turned to Jenna for an answer.

Jenna didn't miss a beat. "Yes, it was! We're here to meet him right now," she replied.

"'And this... appointment. It is important enough to drive us away?' the man asks you with a sneer."

"Yep, I think so!"

Felix stood up, seemingly doing his best to look in character. "He snorts." He acted out a dramatic snort. "'Hmmph! If your little errand is more important than ours, fine. Go...'"

Across the table, Isaac bit back a grin. Garet could hear Jenna stifling a giggle as well.

"Guys, please don't. I'm trying, okay?" Felix gave them all a look, and for once Jenna quieted down. "He gestures towards a cottage on the hill above you. The path you've been following leads up a set of steps carved into the hillside, like the ones leading to and from the southern plaza."

"You're letting us go?" Jenna asked. "I mean, Jasmine says that, too."

"The woman seems unsure. 'Saturos, why are we just letting them go?' she asks her partner. He shakes his head. 'We have no reason to delay these children any further, Menardi.'"

"This seems fishy..." Jenna murmured.

Garet felt the same. Was Felix really just going to let them go with no fight? Why? Was he trying to give them a chance at a sneak attack?

"Let's go, then," Isaac said. "Robin heads uphill, beckoning you two to follow."

Of course he did. If they weren't an obvious enemy, Isaac's character wouldn't be able to join the fight for alignment reasons. A sudden thought flashed through his head - had that been what Felix meant to do?

Jenna announced her character to be following along, and Garet realized he was the last one to figure that out. Felix didn't want them to fight the guy (for whatever reason) and was trying to keep their healer out of the battle to cripple the rest of them. But why?

"Come on, Ga-Gerald, we're going!" Jenna tapped him on the shoulder. "Hello? Anyone home?"

He pushed her off. "Hey, I was just thinking, okay?"

"All right.."

"At the top of the hill, you see an elderly man with messy white hair and glasses pacing in front of the cottage door. He looks rather distressed, and keeps muttering to himself."

"Okay..." Isaac began. "... I go up and greet him."

"Wait, wait," Jenna whispered. "Eavesdrop first, chat later!"

Isaac sighed. "Ugh, fine." A quick round of perception checks had better luck than the previous ones, and all three of them were able to hear the wise old geezer loud and clear.

Felix cleared his throat. "You hear a great deal of rambling about alchemy and elements... there's something important in Mt. Aleph, and he's worried that the foreigners will try to get at it. They know more than they should, and more than even he knows, and plan to use it for some unknown plot involving something called the Elemental Stars."

"Now can we approach him?" Isaac asked.

Jenna was silent for a moment, waiting for Felix to continue his narration. When he didn't answer, she nodded. "Yeah, sure."

"Robin walks up to the old sage Sclater and greets him," Isaac said.

Sclater. So that was the guy's name. Garet had forgotten it in all the tension with what were obviously the villains-to-be. Not that it was particularly important or anything.

"The sage turns and seems to notice you for the first time," Felix responded. "He quickly masks a look of surprise and worry before returning the greeting."

"Ah! Isaac!" Everyone looked up. Kraden had reappeared behind them at the table, holding a massive reference book. He wheeled a cart of similarly huge books along behind him.

Isaac cringed. "Um, hi, Kraden. What are all those books for?"

"I said I'd help find the book you needed, now didn't I?" The scholarly old man looked quite pleased with himself. "It took a little while, and a bit of rifling through your backpack - sorry about that - but I found several reference books for you and the others that should be of great assistance in your studies and homework assignments this year!"

"Kraden... er... I don't..."

"Don't what? Need the full version? Don't worry, I am fairly certain there's an abridged copy of the 'Guide to Alphean Mythology' around here somewhere, and the Short History of Tolbi is actually several volumes, so you can take out at a time-"

"No, I mean... I don't need the books. It's okay. We've barely even started classes this year, and..." This was going nowhere. Kraden would never shut up, and Isaac was being too polite here to actually refuse. Did he have to do everything?

"What he means is he doesn't want them!" Garet turned around in his seat to face the old man as he spoke.

"Oh." Kraden seemed to shrink down a full inch or so, the light in his eyes dimming. "I... alright. I suppose you can just... come another time..." He shuffled over to his cart, replacing the hefty history volume with a muffled thump atop the stack. He rolled the cart back towards the reference section, the wheels squeaking softly.

Once he was out of earshot, Garet realized that for the first time since they'd gotten here the library was completely silent. Jenna wasn't humming, Isaac wasn't rocking in his seat, nobody was rolling any dice.

He turned back around, and the others glared at him. "What?" he said. "He wasn't going to leave if Isaac just kept going on like that."

No answer. After a moment, Felix sighed and put his face in his hands. "Garet."

"What?" he repeated. "I thought-"

"You didn't have to be like that!" Jenna snapped. "Now he's all gloomy and sad 'cause you blew him off!"

"He left, didn't he?"

Isaac shot him a death-glare. "I was handling it just fine! You didn't need to say crap like that!"

"You've never been on the receiving end of his lectures!"

"I've dealt with worse from those professors at Vault High," he retorted.

He couldn't believe it! Isaac was actually getting that involved in this stupid argument? "Oh, yeah! So you think you know what you're doing just because you went to another school!" Garet snarled.

"What? That's not got anything to do with-"

"Look, I was trying to do you a favor, okay! A favor!"

"Garet, stop." Jenna grabbed his wrist, stopping him from slamming the table. "You know what? The rest of us all agree that you shouldn't have been so rude to Kraden. But we're kinda in the middle of something here, and this is not a great time to start whaling on Isaac for whatever the hell you have against him."

"Yeah," added Isaac. "What she said."

Garet groaned. They were probably right. His friends usually were. "Ughhhh. I... you know what? Fine. I'll apologize to him later or something. Can we just... forget this? And, y'know, get on with the game?"

Jenna cleared her throat, but said nothing. Isaac slumped in his seat a little, eyes on the table. Oh, right. Isaac.

"Also... Isaac... I'm sorry I yelled at you. That wasn't a great idea," he continued. "Again, sorry about that."

There. That should do it.

Isaac sat up a little. "... Thanks."

Well, that could have gone better. The realization of what he'd done hit him like a falling piano, and it wasn't pleasant. Crap. He hadn't thought Isaac would actually be that upset about it. Not to mention old Kraden... dammit, why did everything have to be so idiotic in hindsight!

Jenna picked up a pencil off the table and began scribbling something on a sticky note. Garet tried to get a look over her shoulder, but she swatted him aside.

Felix mumbled something to himself and shuffled some papers around behind the screen before speaking up. "So. Ready to resume?"

"I guess," Garet said. Isaac shrugged. Jenna was too busy jotting something down to answer. She finally finished, passing the note to Felix before chiming in. "Yeah, let's get going again!"

They all waited for Felix to be done with whatever he was doing behind the screen. After a short pause, he began narrating again.

"The old scholar smiles warmly at your party, but seems a bit anxious. 'I take it you're ready to start heading up to Mt. Aleph?' he asks Robin."

Garet didn't need to be a genius of perception to catch the way Felix spoke in the role. He sounded just like Kraden.

"Um, yes..." Isaac's reply was barely audible, even in the relative quiet of the library.

"'Well then,'" Felix continued in Kraden/Sclater's voice. "'I... er...'"

"Jasmine mentions that it looks like something's bothering him," Jenna declared.

"The sage is quiet for a moment. '... Yes,' he admits. 'There is something bothering me.'"

Garet would bet his last candy bar it had something to do with those guys. "It's those two out there in the grass, right? The... dragon-elfs? Saturn and whatsherface?"

"'Are they still out there?' he asks. 'They're terribly persistent. But what do you mean by, and I quote, 'Saturn and whatsherface'?'"

"Umm... you know..."

"Saturos and Menardi?" Jenna offered. Isaac said nothing, and she continued. "Did they want something from you, Sclater?"

"'That seems to be the case,' Sclater says."

At last, Isaac rejoined the conversation."Seems to be?"

"'They spoke of both Mt. Aleph and Sol Sanctum as if they had seen them with their own eyes...' he muses. 'Isn't that odd?'"

"Finally," Jenna burst out. "Plot!"

End Notes:

Well, I hope that's decent. I originally meant for them to reach the Sol Sanctum by now, but it's funny how things get away from you.

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