Carver really wished that he had gone to the bathroom before they set out down the tunnels. On top of that, he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. It was hard to act tough when you looked like a hyperactive junkie on speed. It hadn’t helped when one of the guys they were supposed to be taking care of had reached over and flicked off the safety on Carver’s pistol.
At least they hadn’t actually gotten into a firefight. Carver was very relieved to not be shooting and being shot at. When Highball interrupted the standoff and told Mibōjin what was going on with the little girl, the technician had almost collapsed to the ground in relief as the woman had agreed to hold off hostilities.
The teen had been even more relieved when Manx had shut Scar up with a stunbolt. The ganger had terrified the boy through every single job the team had taken. Carver wasn’t sad to see him gone.
Not that the current situation was much better. They had been following Artemis and her hostage for at least five minutes, warily watching the other runner team for signs of betrayal. They didn’t seem like the monsters they were portrayed as, especially if it was true that they were here to save the little girl. Carver didn’t know what was going on with Artemis, John and the brunette girl, but it clearly mystified almost everyone else too.
As the two teams cautiously filed down the corridor, guns ready but not pointed at each other, Carver could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing up. A hissing, crackling noise came from the far end of the tunnel, suggesting that something new had happened in the temple room since they had left.
When Artemis and K-Bunny stepped into the larger chamber, the blonde looked shocked, or maybe confused, by what she was seeing. K-Bunny and John had the same reaction, appearing stunned by the scene.
Krog held Miriel, steadying the young sorceress as she shrank back from the massive amounts of energy released in the chamber. The dwarven priest stood atop the temple’s peak, blue-white energy cascading around him as he drew power from the Deep Well. The powerful magic lashed out in great arcs around the stone structure, controlled by acolytes on the corners of each tier. A young elven girl lay motionless on the temple’s altar, anchoring the flow of energy.
The massive underground chamber held the huge Aztec step-pyramid, the structure now topped with a glowing ball of energy. Carver could see nine men standing on the corners of each level, magical energy flowing to and from the peak of the temple. At the peak, on the altar, lay the little girl, surrounded by a nimbus of bright white-blue energy. Mr. Johnson stood slightly behind her, the magic arcing off a barrier that surrounded him. Carver couldn’t see the girl’s mother, but the temple obscured much of the back of the chamber.
Wolf hovered near its master and her companion, nearly blinded by the astral energy being emitted from the Well. The reasons for the troll and Wolf’s master being here held little import to the spirit, it followed out of loyalty to the young woman. Miriel felt this was important, and was clearly motivated to stop the ritual being performed by the dwarf. Wolf could feel its very core being drawn toward astral rift, almost pulled apart by the energy flowing through the room. The spirit could understand its master’s desire.
Nothing good was going to come of this…
At the foot of the temple, on the other side of the lava flow, stood a dozen of the Red Samurai, including several who seemed to be arguing and gesticulating towards the top of the temple. More Samurai were coming around the side of the temple, obviously intent on joining the discussion.
Carver spotted movement at the far entrance, across the makeshift bridge that spanned the lava stream. A small group of women had emerged from the opening, moving cautiously with guns ready. One of them, a tall, olive-skinned elf, had spotted the Carver’s group and looked alarmed. However, rather than attracting the attention of her compatriots, she gestured toward the top of the temple, ordering them to spread out and hide.
One of the men at the foot of the temple, apparently someone of authority, gesticulated wildly at the temple, shouting something that couldn’t be heard over the noise. The guards that he was facing appeared uncertain as to what they should do, while a second group of Red Samurai rounded the corner.
Nothing good was going to come of this…