While they waited for the messenger to be brought forth, Arnold began to remove his blind. Someone, Finn he was sure, grabbed his arm to prevent him. He turned towards them and grit his teeth, “If I can’t see, I can’t duck if I have to.”
There was only a momentary pause and then she released his arm and he removed the cloth and blinked, raising his paw to shelter his eyes as they slowly adjusted to the little light provided. He could see alright at the moment, but they would still take time for him to see the room properly.
Still he could see details about the people about him for the first time. The dwarves reminded him of younger versions of Canergak: They had thick bodies, long beards, and other noticeable similarities. None of them dressed as well as that old man and appeared to prefer tanned leather jackets and gloves, Nchledame was wearing a strange set of goggles on his head with extending lenses. Those goggles might be how they’d known he wasn’t ‘mundane’ on sight.
However it was the others who surprised him. Jaeger was in full body armor except for a helmet and looked for all intents and purposes like old paintings he’d seen of Joan of Arc, with the exception that her hair was a much darker red. She and the others might have been in their very early twenties at the oldest.
Finn wasn’t what he’d imagined at all, she was carrying several knives on her person and had the look of a weathered huntsman more than the nurse he had imagined her to be while she had taken care of him the past few days. There was a scar on her cheek and her hair reminded him of the barkeep that worked at the Bucket of Blood, except Finn had cut it as short as a boys. Nicholas looked demented with a smile that didn’t seem to leave his face under his glasses, his dark black hair un-groomed. He appeared to be wearing a jacket covered in pockets that were filled with hammers, screwdrivers, small books, and broken gadgets.
Willow was the only one who looked exactly as he’d imagined, a permanent scowl on his face. He was wearing a black jacket and pants which might have made him blend in with the brothers at the Church if you ran by without looking.
He didn’t have time to wonder about their appearance for long though as the entranced dwarf was brought into the room, a rosebud sticking out of his mouth. Nchledame demanded, “What is the message?”
Speaking in the Lady’s voice the ensnared dwarf replied melodiously, “Servitor, my patience has reached an end. It is time for our chase and your life to come to an end.” Arnold’s hackles stood as he listened to her voice come out of the dwarf, the song behind it tinged with hidden malice. “If it is the maggots below that hold you prisoner then they should know that for every day that the Servitor remains un-surrendered to it’s rightful owner, that I will turn a resource in these caves against you. The water will find a new path, the seeds you’ve sewn in those tiny ‘plant homes’ will refuse to grow, the winds shall carry your scent to the creatures of Light and Fire which you have foolishly turned against yourselves, as I did before. Should he flee from you, I will still do this for your failure.”
At the end of the message the messenger began to choke, his face becoming red. Nchledame quickly took out a green stone from his pocket and held it up towards the mouth of the messenger. Arnold watched in amazement and horror as he watched the rosebud die, almost hearing it scream, as it rushed from the man’s mouth and into the stone. Arnold grimaced as he wondered exactly what had just happened as the man fell coughing, gasping for air…but he was almost sure he recognized that stone.
Nchledame turned about, fury on his face as he stared at his warriors and spoke in his native tongue which Arnold did not understand and neither did anyone else in the room apparently because Jaeger asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I am rallying my men together and arming them with Chim Strachts! We’ll hunt down this monster and rip her chord from existence itself!”
The five of them stared at the enraged dwarf, and then Jaeger was the first to protest, “But what if she does know how to set the elements against you, and use the wind or whatever to call the fire cats, Nchledame!” He was already storming out of the room and she followed after him frustrated. “Grand Master!”
Finn looked at Willow concerned, and confused, “She’s bluffing right? She can’t actually do any of that stuff?”
Willow looked thoughtful for a few moments, reminding Arnold slightly of the brothers again, before he answered, “The fire cats found us in a deep and wet cave system riddled with passages and wide caverns. I think we should all take the threat seriously,” Willow replied softly. “As for the rest of what she said, I think that if she could have done this from the start easily then she would have. So either she can’t do it or it is difficult for her.”
Arnold retreated from the conversation and buried his head into his paws. This world was almost the exact opposite of his own, and so it was the most alien to him of all and yet strikingly familiar. It was getting to him.
The fire cats, dwarves, other worlds, Fae, men trapped in time, abandoned kittens, ghosts, the south, caves, submarines, lunatics, dying worlds, imagined worlds, aetheric beasts, and giant freaking electric eels! What was next? He was tired of it all! He missed home. He missed New Babbage, now more than any other time during this horrid trip through these other realms. The aether creatures they were dealing with at home were bad, the Dark Aether was terrible, but at least he had come to understand his surroundings in New Babbage! He would choose there over here any day!
Nicholas shouting startled him back to attention, “Don’t worry everybody! I’ve got an idea!”
Having heard some of his ideas in the past, the cat just sighed and vaguely paid attention to a plan that involved converting Arnold himself into a battering ram. The cat muttered vaguely, without really thinking about it, “Shut up, stupid.”
Willow half smiled, “Okay, now we can help him.”