Chapter 13 - ...And We Shall Call Him "Bob"

The accommodations of the magical “Secure Shelter” were basic, but comfortable. Liamae was quite pleased, and with glances and smiles, made sure that Duxsil was aware. The magical wards and protections, while not foolproof, would provide enough warning of potential attack that no guard needed posting. Besides, although the rescued and healed purple worm was under no influence or compulsion to stand guard, its very presence would likely deter even the vilest denizen of Golismorga.

After everyone was settled into their bunks, and Duxsil was fairly certain they were asleep, he crept to where Viselys had stowed his stuff and took out the Bag of Holding. Inside he found the valuable psionic artifacts they had obtained from the Mind Flayer. Then using the last of his magic for the day, he teleported to Sasserine.

In the morning, no one was the wiser for Duxsil's absence. However, somebody was bound to notice his new accoutrements, especially the Crystal Mask, that he intended to have Ken-Ji wear to aid him in the spell he was planning for the purple worm, so he would have to come clean eventually. He decided that talk should start with the de facto leader of the group, Viselys. He handed the mask to Ken-Ji, who was preparing to start the day-long preparation to magically awaken the worm , shared some other magical assistance to maximize their chances, and then he took Viselys aside.

“Viselys, I need to inform you of something,” he began. Viselys simply knodded, his expression only slightly betraying some concern. “Last night I teleported back to Sasserine.”

“You mean Farshore,” Viselys presumed.

“No, Sasserine. I know the area well, so I can manage the distance.” Although the explanation sounded as though it should explain something, Viselys did not understand magic well enough to know what familiarity had to do with distance in this context, so he was sufficiently awed.

“You can teleport there and back again?” Viselys expressed his awe.

Duxsil furred his brow, “Well, not exactly. I can only manage a one-way trip per day. Ordinarily, I would teleport there, and the back a full day later, but I instead purchased a scroll to make the return trip. Well, two, actually, so that, if necessary, I can make another round-trip.”

Viselys shook his head, an outward expression of surrendering the details he figured he'd never understand and were likely irrelevant, “So, why did you travel to Sasserine?”

Duxsil chewed on the inside of his cheek making a literal expression of chewing over his words, “There were some magic items and spells we need. That mask that Ken-Ji is wearing gives him a mental boost he's going to need if his attempt is going to be successful, and it's far more powerful than I am capable of…”

Viselys interrupted, guessing where this was all leading, “And how did you afford it?”

Duxsil nodded with pursed lips, “I traded the psionic artifacts we got from the Mind Flayer.” Viselys began to react grimly, but Duxsil pressed his explanation quickly, “Those items were not useful to any of us, nor anyone back at Farshore. If we sold them, no one at Farshore could afford what they are worth, and in Sasserine, only at the Witch Wardens would anyone even know what they are or their value. There is no real market for psionic artifacts, so the best option was to trade for items of similar value that would be useful to us.”

There was a long pause while Duxsil allowed Viselys to process his argument. Then Viselys nodded with resignation, “Yes, I agree with your reasoning, but in the future, discuss these kinds of matters with the group before you enact your decision? It's group treasure, after all, and we all need to be on-board with how it's disseminated.”

“Duly noted,” Duxsil acknowledged, without making it clear if he was in agreement, “Now, some of the items I got are difficult to explain … let's just say I got a bunch of thing that will shield me from mind-effecting spells. The last thing you all need is for some aboleth or kopru … or worse … dominating me and making me cast a fireball or disintegration ray on the rest of you.”

Viselys agreed with that, readily enough, an his nod expressed it.

“Besides, if my mind is free of outside influence, I can cast spells to extend similar protection to the rest of the group. As valuable as these charms are, I was able to argue that the psionic artifacts were still worth more just because of their rarity, so I was able to obtain a good number of healing potions as well; enough to give two to each member of the party.”

“That's great!” Viselys expressed, “We will very likely need them once the assault on the temple begins.”

Duxsil continued, “Like I said, I also got the teleportation scroll. So, if at any time it seems necessary, I can make this trip again. I also picked up a few other spells to add to my spell book – nothing super exciting, but I think especially useful. In fact, when we return to Farshore, I'm gong to start working on a device that will allow us to communicate over long distances. I can even create a device that will allow us to return to any fixed point at will … but that's going to require some logistical consideration.”

Viselys smiled, “All right, you've more than convinced me that this was a profitable exchange and a good decision. Good job. Now, Ken-Ji says his mediation is going to take all day. What are you going to do?”

“Well, that teleportation was one of my most difficult spells, as you can probably imagine. That puts me at a disadvantage if we enter combat before tomorrow. I think I'll spend the day getting caught up on the sleep I sacrificed to make this trip.”

“Fair enough. I expect we will all be able to rest up today – no sense wondering off until Ken-Ji is done.”

And that's exactly what they did. After Duxsil awoke about 8 hours later, he pulled out some wine, fresh bread and a ham he had also obtained in Sasseirne, much to Lieame's delight. Ken-Ji partook of the food, quietly and distractedly, and then returned to his mediation.

Eventually, the ritual was complete and Ken-Ji exited the secure shelter to find the purple worm nearby, clearly content after much magical healing and abundant food (the ambient rock surfaces). Duxsil and Liame bolstered Ken-Ji magically and then he cast his spell on the creature.

And the creature's entire manor suddenly changed. It was hard to pinpoint, but there was something different; something in the way it moved and responded to its surroundings. However, it suddenly became very obvious when the creature SPOKE.

“This is … all … very strange.” it said in a deep, booming voice that had a quality of boulders grinding together.

“I should say it is,” Saris mumbled sarcastically.

“How do you feel?” Ken-Ji asked, removing the crystal mask and returning it to Duxsil.

The creature swept his gigantic head over them, as though scanning them, although it had no discernible eyes, “I feel … strange, but … extraordinary.”

Ken-Ji smiled – a rather disconcerting expression on his feline countenance. He turned to the others, “As I said, I have 'awakened' him. In essence, I have raised his intelligence to a level equal to our own.” He glanced at Saris, “Well, most of us, anyway.”

Saris smiled, mistaking the dig for a compliment.”

“I do not mind being called 'him,'” the worm noted, “but I might point out that my kind do not have differentiated genders.”

“I think you'll need a name, then,” Liamae spoke up. “Maybe we can minimize the pronoun usage.”

“So, what shall we call you?” Viselys asked.

“I do not know,” the worm replied in a clearly bewildered tone, “I don't even know where to begin.”

Saris made a number of inappropriate, albeit humorous, suggestions playing off anatomical implications of a “purple worm.” Urol made several suggestions that derived from scholarly terminology for animal classifications of a giant purple worm, as well as “Purple Worm” in various languages. None of these were met with much acceptance by any but the suggester.

“How about 'Bob'?” Saris spoke up.

This was met with general expressions of doubt, but the worm, himself replied.

“Bob. I like it. It's simple, easy to remember, and common – sounding.”

“Well, then, Bob it is,” Viselys proclaimed.

“So, Bob, what now?” Urol inquired.

Ken-Ji interjected, “The spell has given you intelligence, but has removed any other mind-effecting magic. We had charmed you to keep you calm and prevent you from killing us all while we healed you and awakened you, but you have completely free will, now.”

Bob knodded in an oddly humanoid gesture, “I am so very grateful to you for all you've done. I was in great pain and would surely have died had you not helped me. As I recall, you did so at some peril to yourselves.”

Viselys confirmed, “Yes, a Kopru patrol was attracted by the sounds of our trying to break through the spire that had impaled you. We had to fight them off before we could finish freeing and healing you.”

“I owe you my life,” Bob noted. “What can I do to repay you?”

“There is something,” Viselys acquiesced, “The Kopru that attacked us are creating weapons of mass destruction in a temple at the other end of this cavern. We have come here to shut down their operation and thereby save the world! We could use your help in that assault.”

“It would be very dangerous,” Urol noted. “If you did help us, you could die.”

“I surely would have died days ago had you not come to help me. I would have died afraid, confused and alone. Now I have an opportunity to help you … save the WORLD? If I die doing that, then I won't have died in vain. I would go into it knowing the stakes and not being afraid and confused. What a wonderful opportunity you have afforded me. I accept. What do you want me to do?”

They spent the better part of the next day discussing strategy and preparing for battle.

Continue to Chapter 14...

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