Izzet Charm, Art by Zoltan Boros
For the Terribleminds Epic Games of Aspects Redux, the d20 of Destiny instructed me to write Fanfiction about a Heist Gone Wrong featuring a Sea Monster.
The small, customized keyrune did its job, unlocking the door to the facility. It was an excellent forgery, one of Grigori’s finest. Natalya pocketed the keyrune and looked over her shoulder. Bringing Grigori along still seemed like a bad idea, yet there he was, right behind her, his face eager. She considered knocking him out and wiping his memory, but that was always tricky business, and House Dimir needed his forgery skills.
“Just stay close,” she hissed, and pushed the door open. The interior corridor was dark, luminescent fluids flowing through transparent tubes under floor grating the only light. Natalya was fine with this; her domain was the night itself. Grigori, for his part, obeyed and remained quiet, close at her heels.
They had only taken a few steps inside when the door slammed shut behind them. Overhead lights crackled and snapped to life. At the far end of the corridor, a small mechanical dragon perched above the doorway. Ruby eyes peered at the trespassers, and when its mouth opened, it was not fire that issued forth, but a tinny voice.
“Greetings, trespassers! My master, Benedict of Nivix, bids you welcome. As you have entered through a locked and secured gate, it is my duty to inform you that neither my master nor the Izzet League will be held responsible for any harm that comes to you should you remain. If you do not heed this warning… well, good luck!”
“Do you think he was expecting us?” Grigori was even more nervous, now.
“Don’t be a fool. We’re here to retrieve this ‘blistercoil harness’ that Benedict is building, and to remove all memory of it from his mind. It’s a straightforward job, and I won’t have you making a mess of it. So stay close and do as I say.”
The younger man nodded twice. She turned back to the corridor, studying it.
“Well? Are we going on?”
Natalya glared at him. She reached into her satchel for one of her wooden rods. Choosing one of the shorter ones, she tossed it down the corridor. About two meters from her hand, it was caught in mid-air by a wild burst of static electricity, and fell to the grating a blackened length of collapsing ashes.
“How about you help me find the trigger switch, first.”
So it was that they proceeded through the laboratory, one step at a time, disabling all manner of pitfalls and traps. Static fields, jets of flame, spatial distortions, gravity plates, time traps: Natalya defeated them all, with a little help from the forger. Finally, after several roundabout corridors, they found a vast open area, on a catwalk far above an indoor reservoir.
“This must be run-off from one of the Izzet steam vents!” Grigori peered over the railing.
“Yes. And Benedict’s main laboratory is said to be close to one of them. It must be near.”
They made their way carefully along the catwalk, testing each step. They were about halfway across when it disengaged from the walls.
Grigori screamed the whole way down. Natalya, while shocked, focused on aiming her fall way from the catwalk. Thankfully, the water was not electrified or anything else sinister, merely quite warm. Grigori came up for air.
“Ugh! I’m so sick of this dungeon! Now what do we do?”
“Be quiet.” Natalya’s fangs were out. She didn’t bother to retract them. She had more important things on her mind. “I’m thinking.”
That was when something large and scaly slid past her ankle under the water.
Grigori’s eyes went wide. “Well, think faster! I think something down here wants to eat us!”
“Stay calm. Or, at least, try.”
Moments later, a great serpent burst out of the water, glaring at the intruders with large, yellow eyes. It opened its mouth, revealing a glittering array of razor-sharp teeth, and hissed at them. When it dove back under, Natalya invoked one of her favorite spells.
An illusion of Natalya appeared across from her, mirroring her movements, while she herself disappeared. The giant creature snapped at the illusion, which exploded in a puff of dark indigo smoke. As it tried to shake the fog away, Natalya lunged for its throat. The moment her dagger touched it, however, electricity shot through her system. It catapulted her back into the water. Grigori kept her afloat while she recovered her senses.
“Ah! I see you’ve met Richie.”
The Dimir agents looked up. Benedict himself floated high above the pool. Over the blue and red clothing of his guild, he wore a metallic vest, gauntlets, and greaves, all connected by cables of various colors, featuring luminescent cylinders that crackled with power.
The blistercoil harness, Natalya observed. He’s wearing the bloody thing.
Speaking aloud, she asked “How dangerous is ‘Richie’?”
“Oh, not terribly. Not usually, anyway. Do you like him? I’m surprised the Combine doesn’t need an electric eel three meters long with defensive scales. He’s a very good watchdog, though.” The magus tossed a fish towards the pool, and Richie burst up to snatch it from the air before disappearing again with a splash.
“We’re not intimidated by him, or by you.” Natalya felt Grigori grip her arm as she spoke. Untrained fool. “We will find a way out of this trap.”
“No need. Let me give you one.” Benedict pointed at the wall. A bolt of lightning snapped from his finger and hit a crystal not far from the surface of the water. A hatch opened. “You can leave now, with my blessing, and my thanks for showing me how better to conceal my earlier traps. Or, you can remain, find your own way out of the pool, and continue to try and reach my inner lab. Of course, it only gets more dangerous from here. Your choice.”
Grigori was already swimming for the hatch. Natalya made no move to stop him. Instead, she narrowed her eyes at the floating man and his blistercoil harness.
“Do your worst.”
“Good. I was hoping you’d say that.”