Trickling Falls Cavern
The sound of gurgling can be heard from the upper east side of this echoing cavern, apparently a natural spring that flows from a large crack of stone, flowing over a short rock shelf before lazily dropping six feet down into a wide and shallow pool of cool, clear water. A consistant cool temperature abounds here. Lined up along the walls are several simple cots, along with a multitude of barrels and boxes of supplies, all looking extremely old and worn. A single, ancient iron stove sits amidst these, the cave slightly blackened above it. A few rough tables are set up near the pool's edge, with rickety-looking chairs. A cavern passage leads off to the west, and a smaller cavern is to the north.
Obvious exits: North <N>, West <W>
Chaos has fallen over this wing of the Clockwork Vault. Tables and chairs have been pulled to the edges of the room to make room for a singular, dingy cot in the center, piled high with pillows. Three figures, a blondish, middle-aged man, a flowing-haired, frail old man, and a white-coiffed elderly woman all look on the figure that lays there. The figure is prone and seemingly unconscious, in flux from form to form. One moment it is a tow-haired adolescent of fourteen or so, then a tall, sandy-haired man, then a short, poxed older man, then a girl of no more than five, then a large-set salt-and-pepper-haired woman, then on to another form. Dozens of forms cycle by, none staying for more than five or ten seconds at a time. The three talk in hushed whispers, occasionally turning to point at another oddity across the cavern. There can be seen a five foot wide, hastily-made cage made of chair legs and other miscellaneous pieces of wood and metal. Chittering within the cage is a man-sized black spider with richly-glowing blue eyes.
And enter the abashed Nillu-- Calmly, until she ends up just looking in bewilderment at the scene. "What.. Is going on?" Sahna asks sharply, the letter in her hands crumpling as she clenches her hands. She approaches only as far as the group, looking baffled.
The elderly woman turns and grimaces, her wrinkled lips pulling back against her bone-white teeth. "She came to us like this. I...don't know. She's sick, somehow. Very weak." She shrugs her shoulders, her clear eyes grim.
"She? Who?" Sahna asks, leaning in a little closer to look at the cage. "Where's 'Hilde? She'll know what to do. I came to try and find her.. The church, the corona and a bunch of patrons have been murdered, so I need to talk to her anyways." Sahna surveys the scene again, this time with a forced, detached calmness. "Wait, that /is/ Brunhilde, isn't it? What's the other thing?" The Duchess moves to the prone woman, kneeling to look her over. "Healing.. Has it been ineffective?"
Bula nods slowly. "That is Brunhilde. And that other thing...I don't know. She told me to figure out a way to cage it before it woke up, and then proceeded to pass out. She's been like this over a day. I've tried everything I can...it all seems to do no good. Her injury doesn't seem to be of the body."
"Indeed not.." Sahna murmurs softly, reaching out to attempt and carefully touch the shifting woman when it looks like she's in a form for a few seconds. "No, the only one who has the potential to do this.. The one 'Hilde wanted to teach, is the child Duhnen's raising. I don't know if it'll do any good, but we should bring Katya here and ask her what she 'sees'... As she has the same capability, she might be able to guess more accurately at what's wrong. As for the cage.. How strong is it? Something that can take down 'Hilde.. No chances, Bula. The best I could do is cast an illusion of something stronger, but I don't even know if that's how it would percieve it." Sahna frowns again, exhaling. "There.. Is one other option. Zanorin, the arch-mage from beyond the wall. We can't bring him /here/, though, and moving her.. Do you think it's impossible?"
"The creature's cage is somewhat strong. I'm sure it could be stronger, but that thing hasn't even tested the bars quite yet. It seems content to just sit there, so we've worried more about Brunhilde," says the elderly woman. "Moving her, however. I'm not sure it's a wise idea. She's hurting herself already with all of this change. I'm not sure if she could take it."
"I can guess at two possibilities." Sahna responds, nodding to Bula. "First of all, she might just keep going until there's nothing left, and die. Second, she might either stabilize or wear herself out, but live. Both leave everything up to chance, and we're not just going to sit here and watch it." The woman stands, pulling herself up at turning to Bula. "Bula.. We need Hilde. Not just to teach Katya, but for the knowledge she has, the skills she has.. And the leadership abilities. First, I suggest evacuating everything and everyone not involved to the Redstone vault. The church is wrapped up in internal struggle right now, and I think we can find a way to do it without attracting too much attention. Second, we bring in Katya and Duhnen. If they can't help, then I suggest we trade the secrecy of a vault location to Zanorin, in hopes he can stabilize her... Now, who's in charge? Decisions need to be made, and that.." She points at the spider-thing, "Might not be content to sit. What will be done if it escapes, and everyone's still here?"
"Either possibility seems plausible," Bula says softly. "We can probably have this place evacuated in less than a day, if we have some wagons to work with. I am happy to leave the decision-making to you, and I'm sure Grale and Harl here both don't want it." She turns to look at them, and the two men nod gruffly in the affirmative. "If you could bring Duhnen here, perhaps he could create a better cage? I am a healer by trade, and these two aren't much more than farmers. We could move it elsewhere, but I'm not sure where we could take it that it wouldn't raise a scene."
Sahna considers it for a moment, then nods, with a sigh. "Rotten time for me to have been angry or I might've found out about this yesterday." She muses, softly. "You know, this is the only place where I'm able to be myself, for better and for worse.. Being able to walk out when things got bad seems.. Addictive. Next time I'll have to stick it out." She glances over at Brunhilde again, sadly. "Have the shapeshifters looked at her already, I assume? I'll have Duhnen here by the morrow.. I just hope she lasts. Take everything that you can rescue, Bula. I'm sure 'Hilde will be furious with me when she wakes up, but it's fine.. So long as she wakes up."
"We really don't have any real shapeshifters left other than Brunhilde here. Trahl won't come and rejoin, no matter how much I nag him. He likes his life. He has grandchildren now, y'know." Bula turns to look at Grale, and he raises his eyebrows and nods. "We'll do our best with the moving. I trust you to do your best with the rest."
"I'll move the entire empire if I must." Sahna replies.. Not an idle threat from someone with her position. "Trahl? Where does he live? I wouldn't hurt one of our own, but surely I can persuade him to at least come /look/ at her with Duhnen tomorrow." A corner of her mouth twitches as she adds, "I don't think I'd ask nicely, if he wasn't one of us. If you need any safehouses on the way.. Aegisport, Hawk's Aerie, Sweetwater are all on the way and I have empty properties on each one. Don't send everyone on the same route.. I'm sure you know all of this, Bula.. I'm sorry, it's a bad habit of mine." The Tradesmistress smiles sadly.
Grale pipes up, "'e's a Light's Reach 'efugee. Lives out in Southwatch, summ'ere." Bula nods quickly to him, turning to Sahna. "We will keep that in mind. Some of the things we've collected are...well, I'm not sure. I think we'll have to leave much of the Vault room itself there. We simply don't have the manpower or the time to move the bigger items." Her eyes soften, and she grimace-smiles to the diminuitive woman. "I'm sure you have a lot on your mind, it's quite alright."
"Nothing more important right now." Sahna declares, nodding curtly. "I'll bring Duhnen, he's better with people. Anyways, all we can do at this point is cast about for straws. Whatever has to be left.. It's life. The location may or may not be comprimised, that remains to be seen. If we have to go as far as Zanorin, only Talus knows how to get ahold of him." She clenches her spidery, gloved hands into fists, closing her eyes as threads of light wrap around her figure.. Which fades, then reforms to a taller, nondescript male one. Perhaps a down-at-the-heels noble, silks and velvets a bit threadbare. The voice is still Sahna's, however. "We'll all do our best." With that, the man turns to go, wandering towards the exit.