The scrying anchor had been somewhat confusing and not very effective. And now we were looking at a place with terrible lighting. Even I was having a little trouble seeing with bright lights on one side messing with my darkvision. We did find who we were looking for, though, as the wood elf I’d been attempting to Scry was front and center.
What did they call a place like this again? Some sort of club. I think it was one of those ironic naming things like… gentlemen’s club, given that there wouldn’t be any gentlemen present.
“What is this?” Sir Kalman said. “Some sort of brothel?” That was another word that sometimes fit. “Where is it?”
“We will find out soon,” Calculator said. “Mage, if you could rotate the view to complete our available angles to discover details.”
I did, of course. Unfortunately even with the fantastic scrying orb the distance of vision only reached thirteen feet from the target, so we couldn’t see much more than the shape of the stage.
“You will find this place?” Sir Kalman said. “And then we will destroy it?”
“Not quite,” Calculator said. “First of all, this is probably halfway around the globe so it will most likely be someone else involved in the operation. And they won’t be acting immediately.”
“Why not?” Sir Kalman asked.
“It’s simple. Because there won’t be just one place where people are being held, and they will have connections through which they could warn each other once we act. For the moment, they shouldn’t realize that we can find these people.”
“I don’t know about that,” I said. “Maybe not that we have found them, but there was a scrying anchor.”
“… Dammit. Does Doctor Doomsday have his hands in things all the way over there…? No, more likely these were simply black market sales to fund his exploits. And a scrying anchor could be a counter for any mage from your world.”
“Probably,” I said. “Because if it was Doctor Doomsday running things, the scrying anchor would have been more effective.”
Midnight and I traded off operation of the Scrying, during which time Kalman became increasingly more agitated. And I couldn’t blame him. I wasn’t a fan of seeing people being mistreated either. But that was why we were finding every detail we could. Some places were more identifiable like the club, but others were in stark rooms and still others locked in cages.
Our mana ran out soon enough, and Midnight and I sat exhausted. We had perhaps gone through a quarter of the list.
“… What do we do now?” Sir Kalman asked.
I pondered. Even if I were to make use of mana crystals, I could at most get one or two Scrying attempts before I started to cause myself harm. “We just have to wait,” I said. “I’m going to go meditate on the roof.”
“I’ll come with you,” Midnight declared. I looked at him with surprise. “… We need to work as hard as we can for these people. I have to.”
Kalman looked between the two of us, but decided not to say anything. “I can’t really do much,” he said. “I am only useful in person. I could help, if only I could get to any of them…”
“Calculator’s working on that,” I said. “Why don’t you come with us? I have an idea.”
We took the elevator to the roof, a usual process for me but exactly the second time Kalman had been involved with one. And seeing how high we were, he was astounded. “I knew these buildings were tall. I didn’t think it would be possible to surmount them so quickly.”
“That’s what happens if you go straight up and down,” I said.
“It is like a giant propelling a pulley system, right?” Sir Kalman said.
“Well, without an actual giant,” I said. “Just something with that much strength.” The motors were much more consistent than an actual giant could be.
“I see. Ah-” he turned, spotting the other occupant of the roof, standing over by the edge. “I hope I’m not disturbing-”
“He probably can’t hear you,” I said. “That’s Mono.” He was taking shots at something. Probably some idiots fleeing down a main street again. Mono would be suppressing the sound of his weapon- and likely the sound to his own ears to ignore distractions. But a few moments later he lowered his rifle and turned to us.
“Turlough,” he nodded. “And Midnight. What a surprise.” Then he turned to Sir Kalman, “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Mono. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess… Knight?”
“He’s not a new member of the brigade,” I explained the situation. “Anyway this is Mono. Because he can control sound.”
“Is it not…?” Sir Kalman looked at his eye.
“Also because I have one eye,” Mono shrugged. “I’ve had worse reactions from people of this world who should be used to it. Anyway, I assume you’re here to meditate so I’ll let you get to it.”
“We are,” I said. “And Kalman’s here to help.”
“I’m not exactly sure how, but I’ll do my best,” he placed a hand on his chest. “My powers can remove physical fatigue, but they are unable to restore mana. Nor transfer it.”
“He probably wants to fight you,” Mono said.
“Wow, how’d you guess?” I looked at Mono with surprise.
“We worked together so I looked at your profile. And you might have said that fighting could potentially increase your man regeneration.”
“I’m not completely sure, to be honest,” I said. “Battles aren’t usually protracted enough to calculate for certain.”
“Oh, well that I can certainly do,” Sir Kalman said. “I can recover both injuries and fatigue with my own mana.”
“In the worst case,” I said. “We get experience. Which will help.” Kalman and I needed to punch something since we couldn’t reach those responsible at the moment, so each other was the next next option.
We alternated between intentional meditation to draw in as much of the ambient mana as possible and sparring. Even with my fatigue being recovered, I knew I was going to end up exhausted.
Recovering from empty to full took most of the day- about six hours- which wasn’t significantly off from projections. Midnight had already gone down earlier as his maximum mana was lower, enough to use Scrying twice at once but not quite enough for three.
Some of the Scrying took us back to adjacent holding areas, where we’d managed to spot people that might have been on the list. But we had to confirm it. At least none of them resisted- or not successfully, anyway. I felt the semi-conscious resistance of a couple, but they seemed mentally fatigued before I arrived. Which was quite understandable.
I saw a few people in what Calculator determined to be underground fighting rings, where they likely had to use their class abilities. I could only hope some of them had Curse of the Barbarian so they could get better returns on the horrible situation.
“You can go home for the day,” Calculator said. “You look exhausted.”
Midnight and I just shared a look, and I shook my head. “We’ll stay here. Set alarms to wake us up every couple hours.”
Calculator smiled. “Good to see some dedication. We might even be able to finish by morning.”
Depends on what you counted as morning, I supposed.
While Calculator simply looked as if he’d been watching me work while he browsed on his tablet all night, I knew that his power had been active most of the time I was working. Indeed, he might have been working harder than Midnight and myself together, and he wasn’t even connected to the captives. They were all from my world, and I recognized the couple actually from Mossley. Nobody that I was close with… but I still wasn’t going to leave them high and dry.
All of us had heavy bags under our eyes in the morning, including Kalman whose main contribution had been worrying.
I looked to Calculator. “Did we get enough?”
“I don’t think it would be possible to get more, without prescient timing,” he shook his head. “I’ve confirmed a number of locations.”
“Some of the locations are too generic. There’s only so much I can do to match individual bricks to their manufacturers and wear to determine what days they were produced and likely sold.”
“… Did you do that?” I asked.
“Sometimes that was all I had,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not sufficient to find everything. I’m not a locator. We’ll need one to be there.”
“Is that different from a tracker?” I asked.
“Significantly,” he said.
“Do we have any of those?”
“A couple,” He looked at me. “Do you know Locate Creature?”
“I… do not,” I said. I looked at my status screen. “But I could.”
Sometimes between the battle with the Grey Gunners and the initial fighting with Kalman I had leveled up. I was a little bit over the threshold for level 32 after all of that.
|Turlough (No surname)|
|Storage +5 (4|1)
Firebolt +4 (3|1)
Shocking Grasp +5 (3|2)
Grease +3 (2|1)
Force Armor +7 (6|1)
Mage’s Reach +4 (2|2)
Translation +2 (1|1)
Alter Time Flow +5 (4|1)
Familiar Bond +7 (4|3)
Energy Ward +3 (2|1)
Sonic Lance +4 (3|1)
Scrying +1 (1|2)
Stoneskin +3 (2|1)
Mana Crystal Deposition +4 (1|3)
Variable Freedom +2
Basic Light Magic +2 (1|1)
Locate Object +2
Alter Portal +1 (0|1)
Gate +3 (2|1)
Arcane Sight +1 (0|1)
Sending +2 (0|2)
Chain Lightning +2 (1|1)
Clean +1 (0|1)
Shelter +1 (0|1)
Assistive Familiar Casting +2 (0|2)
Remaining Points: 32
“How far does that function?” Calculator asked. “Is it limited to a specific range?” He held up another TRPG website.
I looked at the description. “Oh, no. It’s not strictly like this. The same with objects.” I’d used Locate Object to help find Jerome based on what he was wearing, after he’d gone through the portal. “It’s pretty vague at longer distances though. I’m not really a great diviner, either.”
Kalman interrupted, “You say that, but I do not believe even the great Zentha Qitris has such a potent… scrying orb.”
“That doesn’t make me better, though,” I pointed out. “It means that a crazy old lady made it to see what would happen. On that note, do you think it would be possible to get the services of Zentha?” I remembered that she told Izzy exactly what portal to go through to find me. And when. It seemed like a big deal.
“She is currently… away,” Kalman said.
“She’s missing too?” I raised an eyebrow. “Why are all the mages I’ve heard about missing?”
“Not missing,” Kalman said. “Not exactly. She told her staff she would return at a specific time. It’s just that nobody can get them to say when that will be.”
“… We really need to look into this after,” I said.
“Yes, well,” Calculator got our attention back. “Until then, you are the best option we have. Because while Yew-Kay likely has locators of their own, they could always use another. And I’d prefer to have another trusted representative there. Along with that, you have more leeway for such an endeavor given that the sought after individuals are from your world.” He turned his gaze to Sir Kalman. “And you could act as well, under the extradimensional retrieval doctrine.”
“The what now?”
“The details aren’t important,” Calculator said. “The point is that you wouldn’t have the same sort of restrictions on using your abilities as apply to you elsewhere.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Sir Kalman said. “We should make haste!”
“We’re waiting for our driver,” Calculator said. “Speaking of which, we should make our way to the garage. I suppose I should ask, Mage, if you have any urgent business to deal with here.”
“Not really,” I said. “I guess I should let people know I’ll be gone.” I just got back, but such was the life of a super mercenary. Though to be honest most of it had been pretty easygoing, except for those times I almost died.
“Good. You can sleep on the plane.”
“I’ve heard that’s difficult,” I said. “Also, can Sir Kalman get through security in… that?”
“Of course,” Calculator said. “Since the security check just involves verifying our identities. Do you think they expect supers to travel without weapons?”
“Good point,” I said. “Potentially related, do you think we can stop by the armory for some ammo?”
“A good plan. Also, how bulletproof is your armor?” he asked Kalman.
He frowned, “I haven’t fought a bulette personally,” he said. “But it is magically enchanted.”
“It would be good if we could do some tests,” Calculator said. “To make certain that your armor won’t just be an impediment.”
“There’s some really powerful magic items here,” I said when Sir Kalman looked offended. “Though they might damage your armor.”
“That is not a problem. It is self-repairing.”
“… No wonder it always looks shiny,” I said.