(AKA: What You Missed: The Imperium Strikes Back Section 2: Imperium Heist)
by Callahan "Duke Syruss" O'Leary
Then I chucked that file in the never to be viewed again drawer, and called the Case of the Kung Fu Vampires finally to a rest. I swooped past the filing cabinet to my desk, but there was a magical aura still lingering. Someone cast magic here recently. I could sense it. That and thanks to one of my recent cases I knew what I was looking for (See Kazoo issue Feb 2018 The Case of the Missing Cases). I could smell it in the air, Portal Magic. It always smells of burnt eggs or some rude demon busting some intestinal gas in a space entirely too small.
Worn out, tired, covered in blood, wreaking of garlic, but not done for the day it would seem as I staggered my way over to the desk to see what Naj left for me. Much to my surprise it was not sent via Sir Naj’s Portal but rather an unknown source had sent me a sealed manila envelope. I sat at my chair and reclined.
Pulled up the manila envelope and smiled as I started to open it. I smiled a child's smile. Manila, a fun word that rhymes with vanilla. I love vanilla. Mmmmmmm, ice cream. Nothing soothes a sore throat like some yummy ice cream. Darn it! I got lost in inner monologue again.
I opened the envelope and started to read. It appeared to be my typical parcel. Someone looking for the great Syruss’ help. It read:
Your exploits are known far and wide, varying from person to person. Honestly, it has become hard to separate what is the Myth and what is the Man. If you are a fraction as helpful as your written exploits make you out to be then you will be more than enough to solve my issue. Currently, I am looking to reallocate an artifact that was stolen from me by the Imperium. I will leave a Portal open in your bathroom, come see me once you are able. The job only pays 50 gold but I imagine there will be plenty of things in the Vault you can help yourself to plus unknown scientific research that I am sure would be of value to an inquisitive mind such as yours.
See you soon.
Weird letter, odd name, but then again no odder then some of the names I get with my Ask Syruss letters. WAIT WHAT, the LOO?!?! Sure enough as I opened the door to my private throne **Zipp Zapp schworp Fizzle Portal Sounds*** A big red portal.
Well, it was settled. I had a small case and I knew just the two individuals to help. Obviously my first instinct was to bring Sir Naj. I was already studying Portal Magic under him but I know he would jump at a chance to add to his research. That and I am nowhere near as competent a Portal Mage as Sir Naj. Now I needed someone with nerves of steel and who knew his way around a vault. My old Darkhaven Stomping buddy and Neden’s resident Safecracker Sir Blaximus Blackasaurous Rex aka Sir Blacky himself.
As we were loading up our gear in the Neden Vault old Lord Nymbous poked his head in and inquired what we were up to. In fact his exact words were.. “Hey you crazy numbskulls what the hell are you doing with my stuff?” We explained we were borrowing a few things for a case and he was delighted. Nymbous quickly got ideas of grandeur and wanted to make a day trip out of it. He quickly cast an amplifier charm and started making his announcements throughout the halls. “Listen Up Boy-o’s we are heading out to parts unknown by way of magical elements emitting from Duke Syruss’s bathroom so be there or be square.” Nymbous’s words echoed throughout the halls like a yodeler singing in their prime. Lord Nymbous was so excited and thought this was going to be another Dungeon Delve as we have been known to do. He was so excited in fact he started recruiting our usual colleagues of mercenaries to help us “rock this thing” as he aptly put it. There was no amount of pleading with him to get him and the rabble to stay behind. There was nothing that could convince him, not even the fact that he was now paying the mercenaries out more money than I was making on this case (Note: to all you would be adventurers out there the Big Guy pays for sell swords just sayin’). Faster than a 20 word verbal being sputtered soundly in super speed we were back and all filing into my bathroom.
My three-man crew turned into a small questing force. We had the usual Neden Crowd with us: Sir Rawlin, Master of Coin Jayce, Dresden, Siff, Darkin Sir Naj, and Sir D.. Let’s see who else was there. There was my Brother Tyruss a.k.a Meat that Jean Baptiste sent along in his stead, Sir Naj’s newest apprentice Wolf and three of our favorite Hired Guns, Sir Quayloth, Karmha and Tuilli. I would like to say this is the most people I have had in my bathroom...I really really would like to.
*Swish SZworp Squish Zoop and Florp*** We went through the portal and were instantly in the hellish waiting hall in some sort of fancy building. This looked like the nicest offices in Neden times a million, like if our offices had a bunch of gold to spend on frivolous decorations.
As soon as we arrived, Tuilli started casting small amounts of Glamour magic on the questing party so we would all appear Mustachioed. The thought was if we got caught we didn’t want to be identified. It did not help that we were all wearing the same thing...I mean I pointed it out but when the questing troop is excited about something give it to them...Cherish the small things.
We were soon greeted by the person who sent me the letter. An older grey-bearded man with a problem of the shifty kind. I mean here is a tip kids, if the gig is on the up and up it usually doesn’t involve a B&E and the person hiring is usually not so careful with their identity. He was quick to note the immense amount of mustaches and then asked if we were the Neden questing party. Apparently he received the lord’s scrying RSVP and was ready for us…..
The man identified himself as Thorin, after much pressure and maybe a threat to walk from the gig unless I knew who my benefactor was. I made the threat but I could tell there was no backing out now. Nope, the Lord had that look in his eye. The look of adventure, the look of mischief, the same look I have when Sir Naj is doling out the goodies at Feast of Neden. Yup, he was a man on a mission all right.
We entered the first room way more stealthily than I would have assumed from a group of fifteen. That is until someone...totally not me...who gave an inappropriate inquisitive “Hello?” again totally not me no matter what Rawlin says, that guy is a liar and a charlatan.
******WEEEEEEE OOOOOOOOO WEEEEEEEooooooo BRAAAAAAAAAANG BRAAAAAAAANG********* The alarm filled the room like air fills the lungs. Like an Anemoi God of wind blowing and filling the sails of sailors at sea.
Sir Blacky and I quickly scrambled throughout the halls cutting wires as fast as our comrades were cutting through those poor security guards. I mean I am not saying the slaughter of 9 to 5 working schmoes was the sole reason I told Nymbous not to bring a small army, but it is up there.
As Sir Blacky and I cut one of the final panels clean of wires, we could feel a noticeable difference in heat throughout the room. *****WOOOOSHHHHHHHHHH***** A large funnel of fire penetrated the center of the room and from out of that fire tornado spawned four fire elementals. Quickly, our cohorts were burned where they stood. A pile of goo where our Lord once stood started reforming, first an eye then a mouth then a middle finger. We knew our lord was going to be fine. Sir Naj was quickly negating fireballs with some fine impromptu spell slinging. Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to save his young apprentice, Wolf, who swung his sword at the fire feeding the flames with oxygen and only enraging their wrath and carnage.
***LIGHTNING BOLT**** A flash of lighting flew across the room hitting multiple fire elementals… Rushing in with a sword in hand and smile on his face, Dresden seemed pleased. That was until he realized it only enraged them.
Fire ball, fire ball, fire ball. Balls of swirling flame were being hurled and our comrades were falling left and right. As I look for a solution, out from the shadows Jayce appeared with a new treasure chest in his hands….Why was I not surprised?
“What did I miss?” Jayce inquired.
“We need a way to destroy these fire elementals!” I shouted.
“Will this help?” Jayce asked as he opened the glowing chest showcasing the most dangerous weapon in the Realms during the winter months...SNOWBALLS!!!!!
Quickly Jayce, Blacky, and I started hurling snowballs at the fire… Ssssssss Sizzle SSSSSS...The snowballs where having an effect but surely we would run out...Snowball after snowball we fought the fire elementals until they were almost no more. We stopped questioning the amount of snowballs in the case. I mean after all we have encountered bags of holding before, why not an infinite snowball case. After all was said and done, Jayce picked the lock to the next floor of the vault. We had defeated the first room. D and Qualoth along with Karmha started raising the dead.
The next room went quickly. Blacky and I were in a rhythm with the disarming of the alarms. The questing group was in a murderous rhythm with dispatching the guards and then it happened. The twist. We all knew it was going to happen, right? We all knew that questing doesn’t go smoothly but there it was anyway, the twist. A tied-up man claiming the identity of Thorin although this was not a grey-beard shifty man but another Portal Mage being held captive by the Imperium! Was this the man who sent the original message? Who was the first man? These questions and more would puzzle my brain before the day was through. Either way, I needed to free this man. Anyone being held in chains in a safe underground in a different portal has to be trustworthy.
I made quick work of the tumblers after Rawlin failed to pick the lock.
Thorin proved to be quite useful. No longer were we delayed with locks. Furthermore, he was showing Naj new portal tricks to get around wards that prevent Portal Mages from coming and going as they pleased… Note to self: Upgrade my Wards in my bathroom…
The next room was filled with one of the most horrific things the Realms produces….BEES. As it turned out we needed some magic nectar from this realm in order to break one of the wards. I wanted to do this room as stealthy as possible because bees are essential to our ecosystem and the Realms is already having a honey shortage and in no way did I want my name tied to that sort of scandal.
After grabbing the honey, the hive, the crown from the queen bee and 1,000,000 stings latter we were onto the next room. This room was filled with water sprites that felt great on some of the burns after the first room. Karmha and Naj deduced how to stop the sprites. There were these magical stumps that produced enchanted vines from the ground. Once the sprites were corralled the water was absorbed into the ground and a large tree started to grow.
Now as adventurers we do a lot of damage but every once in a while we do something awesome, like plant a tree. We watched this tree grow from sapling to the tallest of redwoods I have ever seen. It humbles the soul to see such a sight….but I digress…
The next room was filled with acid and these creatures that floated above the danger almost as if they could fly. Darkin took a fighting force of Jayce, Karmha, Tuilli , Sir Naj, Sir D and Dresden. The lightning bolt gang hurled their magic with extremely deadly accuracy and as these new creatures fell the ground arose from underneath them creating a passable path. This room required us to post these Magical Totems in specific places that matched their magical output. Once this was done a portal appeared and Thorin and Naj were leading us to the next room.
In the room ahead of us stood a pillar and on said pillar was our goal. What we came to retrieve, a powerful crystal of unknown magical properties. Naj and I have seen puzzles like this a million times, it was a weight distribution puzzle. As Naj, Siff, and I gathered items we believed would be equivalent in weight, our friends D, Karmha, Darkin and Quayloth were slaughtering those who would attack us. As our defenders fell, their fatal foes, the bodies started to drop this clay-esque type material.
While they fought, we switched out our items for the gem; the weight was sure to be right...
If only we had seen the material fall as they slaughtered the guards, if only we were faster with the transfer of items for the gem, if only we had guessed a better weight distribution, if only...
WeeeeOOOOOOOmmWeeeeeOOOOOOOOMMMMm a loud alarm filled the rooms, gravity shifted and knocked all of us would-be burglars onto the ground.
The room flooded with enemies as fast as it was filled with sound. The ground shook with a tremble from the alarm or so I thought.. Just then a eight foot tall guard entered the fray. Sir D called all the lightning users to him. Dresden, Karmha, and Sij Naj all lined up on D.
“Everyone on my command aim for his heart...3...2...1…” D screamed and they listened. As if they were one, they all casted their lightning bolts and a bright brilliant flash brought down the behemoth of a man. The lightning crew was certainly earning the pay the lord promised. Speaking of the Lord, that is when he came up with the plan to use the clay as the counterbalance. Karmha used her expertise craftsmanship to form a forgery that of which rivaled the original in every way. AND IT WORKED. The alarm shut off at the same time that Darkin and I discovered our combined powerful glare was that of the level of Basilisk and we froze all the guards in place...that or it had something to do with Karmha’s perfect gem replacement.
Either way we had what Thorin and Naj needed to get us home….
****SWISH swhirl ZORM zip Blorp Portal Sounds******
Or so we thought.
“This is not Neden” Lord Nymbous said astutely.
“No...No this is not,” Naj stated “It is some sort of magical compound chemically bonding to the vault’s elemental properties.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Darkin said, frustrated without things to hit.
“It means the magic needs to be directed...sorted out...so we can focus this gem to get us where we need to go,” Naj deduced.
“Your Portal Mage knows his stuff,” Thorin chimed in. "He is correct.”
Thorin instructed us to enter this small temporal circle that should send us to a magical wayline. As he sent us off to gather different colored orbs to sort the elements Sir Rawlin lead a fighting force to fend off our soulless bodies.
Sir Quayloth and Karmha got the most orbs and Naj and Dresden sorted them into their appropriate places.
Thorin was about to say something when...
The portal magic overloaded...Apparently Lord Nymbous kept going back because there were more balls to collect and he is a completionist.
We were separated by a large granite wall with elemental auras of fire and water on either end and before we could organize our troops. Then all of the elements and guards we had encountered surrounded us and had goals to make short work of our fighting force. With my great sword I bashed and bludgeoned until there was a clear cut path to the center, a mage HURLING ELEMENTAL SPELLS OF ALL TYPES IN EVERY DIRECTION.
While I was trying to figure out how to stop the magical menace a fire elemental charged me and lunged their body hand-first at my head, but like the nimble warrior I am I ducked….Yup, ducking it has its value...BOOM It hit the water wall and SIZZLE a fireball landed at my feet. Strange thing, it was quite cool to the touch. So I picked it up and hurled it at the center creature and as I deduced one of its shields went down. Through trickery, I got the water elemental to crash into the fire wall, and then once again I was granted an elemental orb of power.
Just then Naj and Quayloth used the force to send me a vision of putting the stone creature in a specific non-marked spot and then as with the previous two enemies I was awarded another elemental bolt. Nymbous picked up one and I the other. We hurled in unison and with a loud crash and crackle the shields were down. Neden swarmed on the big bad guy like a pack of piranhas and devoured him within seconds.
“Hooray!” Thorin screamed. “That was the supervisor for the vault!”
Thorin went on to tell us he had what he needed to get us home. Neden as Neden do, scavenged the vault for anything not nailed down.
Now was my favorite time of every case, when the benefactor is happy and the payment is forthwith.
“50 gold as discussed,” Thorin said My shrewd negotiations pointed out that we still had the gem and we felt we had spent far more in resources and expenses. Heck, our mercenary cost alone was 150 gold. But before I could squeeze another cent from the Magical Miser, Lord Nymbous handed over the gem and Thronin ported away leaving behind a note….
Thank you so much for your assistance. You are worth every penny and your reputation as a detective and problem solver was not exaggerated. I will call upon you again if we should ever need your assistance again.
I guess both men were Thorin's, or perhaps same person different time remnant. Either way, he paid. The case was closed and I got a fun new trinket from all this. The most powerful weapon of them all.
That's right I kept the SNOWBALL chest.
So now, next time you are in Neden stop by the O’Leary Snowball Emporium where I have currently made 360 in gold….suck it Thorin.
Tune in Next time Loyal Readers as THE GREAT DETECTIVE SYRUSS takes on the Case of the Howl at Night.