Wardens Fourth Edition
Not So Easy in the Big Easy - Stories
A look at what happened during and/or after Session 48.
Story - Taurex the Wayward Apprentice
Game Date: 8/24/2007
Sylvester Van Gelder leaned back into the cracked leather of his favorite armchair, as one of his favorite Abbott and Costello routines blared from the wooden cabinet festooned with large crystal dials and golden, gently glimmering, runes. The mystic 'radio' was his favorite magical creation and the only time magic he had ever mastered. It reached back through time and brought to life once more all the old 1940s radio programs of his youth.
The old shows, complete with commercials, always brought his thoughts back to the golden days.
He had been escaped to Britain and joined the army. His unit was helping liberate France, when they had stumbled across the private den of a local Nazi official. The squad had tossed him the book, Sylvester being the only one of the lot who could actually read German. They'd lost interest as soon as he told them it was a cookbook.
In a way, it was; a cookbook for brewing up magic. He'd sensed the potential power as soon as his hands had touched the rough leather cover. The first spell he mastered was a simple one for detecting magical auras. From that day forward, he'd kept a careful eye out for other arcane artifacts he could 'liberate'. By the time, he returned to London, he had a fair size collection and was eager to translate his new arcane power into more tangible benefits.
Thus began his short-lived life of crime. Moving to America and taking the name Invocator, he had festooned himself with protective amulets, prepared his most puissant spells, recruited a few henchmen and then proceeded to get trounced by the Liberty Legion while trying to rob a gold shipment.
As he had not actually injured anyone in the attempt, he was really too softhearted to be a villain he could now admit to himself, he had gotten off relatively light with a twelve year sentence. It gave him a lot of time to think, and he had come to the realization that it had been foolhardy to misuse his magical power in such a petty way.
If he wanted gold, why not simply find a way to turn lead into gold?
Thus began his forty-year long quest. He had thought he was finally on to something when he had located the long lost tablet of Niza Acara, Vibhu of Samur, twenty-seven years ago. Niza Acara's existence had been wiped from the histories by the human rulers who had followed him. The few surviving legends whispered that Niza Acara had the power to transmute base metals into pure gold with but a few arcane gestures. Niza Acara had recorded that secret upon the tablet. However, whatever language the tablet had been written in proved completely untranslatable.
Sylvester was about to nod off when his doorbell rang. Quite a feat in that to his ring bell, the visitor would need to either have the ability to fly, teleport, or leap over the twenty-foot tall spike-topped iron fence surrounding his Oregon estate. A necessary deterrent when one treasured his privacy as much as Sylvester did.
The annoying tones continued to blare long enough for Sylvester to rise from his chair, amble across his claustrophobically cluttered home and open the door.
When he did, his mouth dropped open in shock for a golden-scaled demon waited upon the other side!
Sylvester stumbled backwards, clutching his chest in case his heart picked that moment to fail him.
Then the demon spoke. It was a strange warbling and hissing language, but broken English was emitted from the non-mystically charged amulet about his neck in response.
Taurex, a golden Yrician, politely introduced himself, and queried, "Would you be willing to teach me magic? I offer this in trade for such instruction."
Taurex open his packs, revealing a plethora of gemstones, unmarked silver, platinum, and gold coins.
Sylvester, who had been slowly selling off his possessions for the past few years to pay for such mundane matters as food and heat, readily agreed.
Taurex, former Yrician scout-observer-in-training and now his race's first apprentice sorcerer, looked dubiously as the ladder propped up against the side of the large water-filled tank.
The runes etched in the gold and glass hinted at the power contained within.
His new master, Sylvester Van Gelder, saw the uneasiness in the little dragon's demeanor. Maybe he should not have styled the tank after Houdini's Chinese Water Torture Cell thought the sorceror.
Sylvester smiled then comfortingly explained.
"Nothing to be afraid of apprentice, all that is in the tank is mana-infused water. Mana is raw mystical energy, the fuel used to power all magical spells. This little test will allow me to judge your body's ability to absorb and contain such energies. All you need to do is submerge yourself in the water for a bit."
Noticing that the little dragon still appeared ill at ease, Sylvester continued trying to assuage the little one's fears.
"I do the same thing regularly myself. The infusion of mystical energies helps refresh the numerous charms I use to alleviate the symptoms of my arthritis."
Taurex hesitantly climbed up the ladder and dropped into the tank, whose waters rose almost to the tops of his wings.
Instinctively, he took a breath, filling his water bladder. It was as if he breathed in liquid lightning. He could feel a strange energy coursing through his being. His caste had been genetically engineered for centuries beyond counting to survive upon and adapt to harsh alien worlds. That physiology immediately began adapting to his new 'environment'.
He hunched over as latent genetic code sequences were suddenly activated, alternative sequences activated in turn until a successful combination could be found to contain safely this new 'hazard'. It felt as if his innards were twisting as his body not only began to adapt to the magically infused water, but began to adapt the liquid as well.
By the time he rose from his crouched position, the water still in the tank was already having its mana leached away, absorbed into Taurex's body and stored in increasing concentrations within what had once been his water bladder but was now something quite different.
In the days to come, he would learn that the new 'liquid' in his bladder would never go stale, as waters had done in the past as his body had absorbed the oxygen from them. Nor would he ever need to drink to replenish its mystical energies after tapping them to power his spells. His body would from this day forth absorb latent mystical energies from the world around him and transform it into the mysterious liquid mana contained within him.
Sylvester stared in shock at the transformation. He had never witnessed such a strange transformation with his arcane vision. Clearly, this apprentice had significant occult potential. Perhaps he would need to keep a closer eye on him.
Taurex flipped the page of one of his master's ancient spell books and waited as a wide red beam of light was projected from the red stone set into the center of his 'collar', the beam the same width as the open book. The beam flared in and out, as it ran down the length of the book from top to bottom.
Taurex felt words, with attached context, definition, and probably human pronunciation, flooding into his mind.
The collar was, in fact, an Yrician Universal Translator, and he had found it quite useful as he 'read' through his master's library but it had been becoming less and less reliable as time had passed. Taurex knew it would soon stop functioning altogether but he put that thought out of his mind and returned back to his 'reading'.
Based on the hand-written scraps along the edges of pages, his master had been unable to translate many of the works and had, in fact, mistranslated key sections of others. He pondered alerting his master to this fact, but decided against it. It would be quite inappropriate to shame a superior in such a manner.
His master, the sorcerer Sylvester Van Gelder, was still snoring out in his favorite chair by the time.
Taurex finished 'reading' through the available books and tomes. Looking for other things to 'read' before his 'collar' failed, Taurex turned to the prominently displayed tablet of Niza Acara, Vibhu of Samur. As it scanned the tablet, the translator failed. Taurex was upset until he focused on the tablet. It was not like the other books and tomes, the language that was etched into the stone was more like advanced mathematics and quantum physics than verse.
Taurex was fascinated.
As he decoded the tablet, Taurex fascination turned to surprise. This Niza Acara was clearly not human as the formulas required intricate and precise movements of not only hand and arm, foot and leg, but also another set of limbs, wings perhaps, and tail as well.
Taurex, curious now, dug around the workroom until he managed to find an artifact made from a base metal, a lead figurine crafted in mimicry of a human wearing a short tunic.
He reviewed the tablet again and then began the spell.
After almost an hour with a final rustling of his wings, the spell was complete and before his very eyes, the dull lead figurine had taken on a golden hue.
So focused was he on the proper gestures, Taurex never even noticed the groggy old man approaching behind him.
Sylvester sputtered then demanded, "How did you do that?"
Taurex politely and deferentially responded, "The instructions upon the tablet were quite clear, master. The positioning and movement of the tail and wings were quite tricky, but I believe I can duplicate the spell as you desire."
Sylvester looked crestfallen.
"Wings? Tail? Then... this spell will forever be beyond my capabilities?"
Taurex reluctantly nodded.
"I am afraid so, master. The creator of this tablet was clearly not human and the spell was never designed to be performed by man."
Sylvester wandered over and picked up the golden figurine.
"Well... I guess there is nothing to do then, but get a few hundred more pounds of lead and see just how much of the stuff you can transform at a time."
Taurex wafted his wings inconsequentially.
"As you wish, master, but I trust more instruction on the arcane arts will be provided between such transformations?"
Sylvester hurried reassured Taurex, "Of course, of course, you can be assured of that."
Taurex's sat in the storage locker he had rented in San Francisco.
His sharp talon tips scraped and shaped the lead as easily as a sculptor works clay.
His eidetic memory roamed back to the great sculptures of Homeworld as he eventually chose one as his inspiration. His own artistic skill was limited. The lead sculptures he produced but pale imitations of the originals, not to mention also being but a twentieth of their size.
He glanced over as the nearby card table where the 'letters of authenticity' for each sculpture were still drying. Written in Yrician, no human would be able to read them. Still, he felt it was a nice touch and based on his research, it would raise the sculpture's selling price.
When he completed the sculpture, he performed the now simple enchantment that transformed its dull leaden hue to the glimmer of pure gold. He placed the last of the sculptures into the padded wooden box then carefully scraped all the lead from beneath his talons. No point in raising suspicions after all.
He then switched from his customary black apprentice's robe to a hand-made copy of the uniform worn by Karex.
There was, after all, only one commonly known golden Yrician on the planet and even a black market art auction might attract too much unwanted attention. No need to alert the planetary authorities of his presence unnecessarily. In fact, it was quite unfortunate that his master, Sylvester Van Gelder, insisted he be garbed 'properly' whenever he went out on an 'official' errand on his behalf, such as repurchasing his possessions from the various pawnshops and antique dealers to whom his master had sold them over the passing years.
Now disguised as Karex, Taurex stuffed the 'authenticity papers' into a leather satchel, picked up the wooden box and as he started to leave remembered to shut the storage locker's gate behind him. The lead bars, lead shavings and metalworking tools would be unlikely to attract much attention.
The stacks of gold bars, piles of coins and other golden products of his 'extra-curricular' activities, on the other hand almost certainly would.
Taurex flew to the shady art dealer's warehouse where the auction was to be held. His intent to quickly drop off the goods, however, were stymied by the dealer's insistence that Taurex be videotaped describing each of the sculptures, its origins, and history. Reluctant at first, the director's insistence that such a tape would more than double the auction price ultimately proved persuasive.
The broken English that Taurex had so far mastered was unlikely to impress, so he made a special effort to emphasize the cultural significance of each of the works, neglecting to mention they were, in fact, mere copies of the originals of course. The drop off finally completed, Taurex hurried back to the storage locker for the next stage of his plan.
While Sylvester Van Gelder's aid was invaluable in his learning the arcane arts, Taurex had quickly come to realize that shortly he would need to find a new more skilled master. As he had already given Sylvester all the trade goods he had brought from Homeworld, he needed to acquire a considerable sum of Earth currency to buy such expert instruction.
Fortunately, his master had been very liberal in giving his apprentice time off, thus providing Taurex sufficient time to raise the needed funds.
Upon arrival at the storage locker, Taurex hurriedly filled a large briefcase with gold bars.
He inspected his 'Karex' costume and noted it seemed intact. Good. It was a long flight to meet the ship in international waters for the exchange and he didn't want to have to worry about the stitching giving way mid-flight.
He shut the locker gate behind him and took flight.
Due to the whole business with the video recording at the auction house, he was behind schedule and now didn't have enough time for all the elaborate detours and stealth he had originally planned. No matter. The populace of San Francisco would no doubt be used to the sight of 'Karex' flying over their city by now, particularly with all the media attention he had gotten since 'coming out' as an alien ambassador.
Taurex lightly set down on the deck of the Russian freighter, pleased to note that the captain had the duffle bag filled with Rubles open, visibly displaying the waiting payment.
As Taurex walked over and opened the briefcase to display the gold bars inside, he felt a series of sharp prods to his back as a waiting crewmember emptied a revolver into his back. The bullets splattered against his protective scales as his flexible lattice bones structure absorbed the kinetic force of their impact.
Turning towards his attacker, Taurex made a series of arcane gestures and a torrent of eldritch butterflies burst forth from his hands, hurling his assailant off the side of the ship. Turning back to the captain, he made another series of gestures that caused an interconnected series of glowing crimson lines to appear at the man's feet and head, around which formed a closed cylinder of magical force that kept the captain completely immobile. A pocket pentagram, as Taurex liked to call it.
Taurex left the briefcase sitting on the deck of the ship as he walked over and picked up the duffle bag. He quickly sorted through it, confirming the full agreed upon amount was present before zipping it shut.
Leaving the trapped captain, he took flight once more.
His gaze fell upon the desperately swimming crewmember who had attacked him earlier, noting the fin of an approaching shark. Reluctantly, Taurex swooped down, grabbed the crewmember by the shirt collar and dropped him back onto the deck of the ship before heading back towards shore.
He was confident that with enough time, the humans would find a way to free their captain from the pentagram. In the meantime, it would be a useful lesson not to betray an Yrician.
Upon reaching shore, Taurex pondered what to do with this particular bag of currency. Should he put it into one of his Swiss bank accounts, one of the storage lockers or perhaps make an investment in another local enterprise?
Eventually, he decided to see if he could purchase a majority interest in a local deli which sold a particularly tasty salmon salad sandwich.
Taurex swooped down to the antique shop, his robe only prevented from flying over his head by the carefully concealed ties along its length.
He doubled checked the address, and then walked inside, quickly surveying its contents until he found the sculpted silver skull desired by his master. He plucked it from its resting spot atop a pedestal of twisted wood and carried it to the counter.
"I wish to purchase this arcane device," he spoke in halting English. "Payment will be rendered in gold."
With that, Taurex upended a bag of featureless coins that he had molded from lead then magically transformed into gold onto the counter.
The elderly storekeeper, Peter Nodwick, had seen the new Warden, Karex, on TV often enough, though the black robe with strange symbols in silver thread was clearly new.
No doubt, the skull was needed by that mystical Knight fellow of theirs for a good cause of some sort.
Nodwick swept up a fair price from the proffered coins, but his customer didn't bother retrieving the excess, merely snatching the skull and disappearing out the door once he saw payment had been accepted.
Now, that's mighty odd, Nodwick thought to himself. Then he remembered that Karex being an alien probably had no sense of the value of money.
He would return the extra coins to the Wardens when he next went to San Francisco on a buying trip.
Taurex sipped his sake politely as Rextor, the old warrior, grumbled about the complete lack of progress Gregix and Wrixton were having in repairing his gladiator armor.
The gold-scaled dragon pondered the matter carefully then cleared his throat before he casually remarked.
"Actually, I may be able to assist you in this matter."
Rextor paused in mid-grumble.
"But... You are not a Fixer. What could you possibly do?"
Taurex smiled slightly as he explained.
"Ah, but do you not recall how Karex got himself exiled in the first place?"
"One of the Wardens found a parallel dimension where a mutant strain of Yricians had conquered the Earth. Such a dimension would be a ready source for needed repair parts or even a replacement set of your armor."
"With the magic I have been learning, it is quite possible that I could open a path to such a dimension. Of course, there are certain difficulties."
"Namely, I believe the latent opening would be in a lab deep within the Warden's base and, of course, the Wardens would never allow me to perform such a potentially dangerous activity."
Taurex paused before continuing.
"Of course, if the Wardens were all busy elsewhere, I might be able to slip in by assuming Karex's identity."
Taurex paused again then making sure that he had the warrior's undivided attention continued.
"For instance, if they were all at some group activity far from the base and were kept busy by some unexpected event..."
Rextor pondered a moment, then leapt to the right conclusion.
"You mean the wedding Karex was telling me about in Vermont?"
"Exactly, now, all you have to do is make sure that Karex takes this 'wedding gift' with him when he leaves."
Taurex withdrew a small brightly wrapped box from underneath his black silver-inscribed robe.
"Tell him you wished to honor the first paranormal that you defeated in battle on this world. He is sure to believe that."
Rextor reluctantly accepts the box.
"What is within?"
"Just a distraction, do not worry. Your honor will be intact."
After seeing the warrior smile, Taurex went on.
"Then when properly equipped, you will be able to show these humans what a real warrior can do."
With that, he rose quietly from the table, popping a last piece of sushi into his mouth as he headed out the door.
He chuckled softly to himself as he took to the air. As if he would take such risks just to get the old warrior a replacement suit of armor... when the Wardens were known to have had some of the planet's most powerful wielders of magic as past members - whose quarters and labs were supposedly still intact, ripe for looting.
Thank goodness, Karex didn't know how to keep a secret.
Record Last Changed Date: 5/22/2011
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