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Old June 8, 2019, 07:22 AM   #286
Z'kron
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“For ages. Since the descent of the great storm cloud which spoke, near the cliffs that were rich with hectorite. Many decades past.”

He didn't want to be too specific about it. But somewhere in the back of his mind, he was starting to recognise that he wasn't entirely making this stuff up. That there might actually be a lava dog of yore that was being formed out of sediment and salamander.

Lithium, after all, was found in the sediment of the cliffs. Had that been what the legend had meant all along? Feed a lithium-magnesium substrate to a salamander?

Except Hero had got his legends mostly from the great cloud. Which wasn't really a particularly sagacious source, come to think of it. Unless he'd got bits of it from Arthur. Or from somewhere else.

He wobbled his withered lizard gizzard.

“Yeah. Ages. Uh. Figured you knew. Didn't you see the explosions around here not that long ago when that giant angry salamander with attachment issues was walking around?”
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Old June 8, 2019, 08:46 PM   #287
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If Arthur McGuffin's book had a face, it would have swiftly met a palm as Z'Kron managed to realize the plot he should have been following all along.

Instead, he had been faffing about helping a Bear make a sandwich and arguing with a cloud. Now, finally, speaking to some cultists, he was beginning to get a clue. Rock was silent, amused, wondering how many more conversations it would take for the old lizard to actually do something with the information he was given at the beginning of this adventure.

"I thought the salamander was a metaphor." One cultist admitted, earning himself a slap behind the ears by another.

The cultist carrying the dog put it down. It was quite heavy, even considering the fact it was a whippet.

"So where can we find these mythical lava-dogs?"
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Old July 9, 2019, 02:19 AM   #288
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Z'kron was acutely aware he was just making things up at this point.

“The Professor of Volcanology. Almost certainly. Maybe disguised as Salamanders.”

That was a good cover line.

He tried to look very serious as he imparted the information.

Once again, he was distracted by a sense of pressing confusion as to why he was actually doing all of this. Certainly, the morals of the situation were murky enough he would be quite justified in walking away. Nonetheless he persevered.

“So maybe you can go find them. Indeed, I've long suspected that he's been the individual hiding them, in a cellar beneath his house. Something that led me, at first, to take this case. Ever since I noticed, from his earliest correspondence, the tricky clue hidden beneath our noses the whole time. For, as you might have noticed- being the prophecy afficianados you are- the very words betray him."

He drew himself up to his full height, as he explained the significance of the words.

"Professor of volcanology G Pantoria, half dwarf, aslans forge, centripaxia province."

Taking the bone stick, he traced the words quickly into the ground in front of him.

"But not simply words. But a a coded message, which he, in his vanity thought no one would notice. A coded message, for as you can see, those words clearly anagram out into a set of prophetic instructions. Words that, properly studied, rearrange into. Fall in frog ova parlor, convoy of fangless, atrophic, waxen arson-dog trappers. A clear reference to the need to search within the parlor holding the salamander eggs, for the waxen lava dog."
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Old July 16, 2019, 05:57 AM   #289
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The cultists looked at Z'Kron. Then his scratchings on the ground. Then back at Z'Kron. Then at each other.

By the gods...the muttering lizard probably had a point.

Putting the stressed-looking greyhound down, the cultists gathered around Z'Kron, clasping their hands and shuffling their feet.

"So, where do we find...this...Professor? Might you know of his wherabouts?" Asked the leader curiously.
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Old July 19, 2019, 04:24 AM   #290
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The druid was well aware of the way to the house of the evil volcanologist.

He might have had a pang of conscience about sending these people over to the house. Maybe.

But on the other hand, the Professor really was quite evil. The anagram which he'd just made up to justify sending the volcanologists off to his house told him so.

No, not the anagram. The prophecy. Definitely a prophecy.

And if it was preordained, that utterly removed all moral culpability. Problem sold. Done and dusted.

"Yeah. Ah, I'll give you some directions-"

Which he did. Giving them a bit of a long way to get there, but definitely a way to get there.
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Old July 19, 2019, 07:00 AM   #291
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The acolytes squinted at Z'Kron, already getting confused.

"Could you...uhh.." one ventured carefully, "come with us? We're more likely to succeed that way."

The dog nodded urgently in agreement. Anything to get these humans to walk away and let it escape free.

In Z'Kron's pocket, Rock snickered.
GO ON. Rock hinted mischievously, DO IT.
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Old July 19, 2019, 07:56 AM   #292
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Z'kron paused. On one hand, there seemed little logical reason to go with the group. He laid the possible reasons for him not to go in his head.

Firstly: They were dangerous.
Secondly: The whole idea had been for them to be sent away from here, so he could investigate whatever was stuck in the top of the volcano.
Thirdly: There was a necromantic, potentially quite evil rock encouraging him to go, and following his advice had very rarely gone right in any type of circumstance.
Fourthly: Z'kron had entirely made up all this prophecy business, and he would really rather not be there when it was discovered that everything he'd been saying were complete rubbish.

"Err..." offered Z'kron as he thought very hard for an answer.
"Give me a moment. I'll consult one of my books."

He reached into to his pockets and pulled out Arthur McGuffin's trusty tome, flicking through it to see if there was anything relevant to his decision at this point that might make him change his mind.
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Old July 19, 2019, 08:11 AM   #293
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Neatly inscribed on page 6 of the book, was an eloquent passage about The Merits Of Following Terrible Ideas;

Sometimes in life
you make a mistake
and you vow never again
that path to take
and yet, sometimes
the very wrong turn
is an excellent opportunity
to learn.

Think once, of that time
your rationale slipped
and an important step
accidentally skipped
you made something new!
Something discovered
A wonderful opportunity
rapidly uncovered

So take a great leap
and miss the whole floor
you might end up flying,
or doing a whole lot more.
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Old July 22, 2019, 07:38 AM   #294
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But was the idea of leading the people to the home of the professor really that terrible?

Probably, on reflection.

That Arthur had at least chosen to put his recommendation in lyric form also weighed rather heavily in his favor. The universe, Z'kron was fairly certain, abhorred those who lied to others through the medium of song.

Although, this song was very, very general. Taking this to a logical conclusion, one would be attempting to do bad things almost all the time. It was basically an anthem for lazy corner cutting.

Like, a volcanology training manual or something.

He wrinkled his nose. Also, with all of that talk about jumping, the druid was worried that it was in danger of being taken a bit too literally by any cultist he might read it to. So perhaps scratch that.

He shrugged. Things were starting to converge anyway. He'd been mentally monitoring the number of beings, events and other such things that seemed to be due to arrive at the mountain at this point in time for quite a while. Given the force with which he'd been dragged by providence towards the summit, he certainly wouldn't be the only one. Time to take another gamble. And then just improvise madly until he could claim a suitably victorious exit strategy.

“Hey. What's that?” the druid pointed over the horizon dramatically. “Is it the thing that was PROPHESISED??”
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Old July 22, 2019, 07:45 AM   #295
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Why, as it happened, just as Z'Kron announced the arrival of a prophecy event, one had just made it to where the cultists were standing.

It was Hero! The golden-haired boy of legend, with Bear and a grumpy looking Professor armed with a box full of his salamanders.

"THERE HE IS!" Shouted one cultist, "GET THE BOX!"

All at once, the cultists took the opportunity to rush at the Professor to each grab a salamander. Without waiting to discuss, understand, or engage in any form of reasoning, they began tossing the lizards into the caldera and the lava below.

As they fell, the high-pitched squeals of innocent, perfectly flammable reptiles echoed against the rocks, mingling with Professor Pantoria's anguished cries.

"NOOO!" He shouted, fighting off the cultists, "MY EXPERIMENTS! MY YEARS OF WORK!!"

Hero and Bear stood nonchalantly beside Z'Kron, sharing a knowing look.

"It was their fate." Said Bear simply, watching the cultists toss one lizard after another into the lava, each hoping theirs would be The Chosen One. Hero shook his head, and sighed.

"Arthur taught me a saying. 'The Futility of Mortal Kind'. Like...history repeats itself, you know? I guess this has happened before, because it all feels really familiar. Like ...predictable. Are prophecies predictable, Mister Lizard Wizard?"

Rock made disgusted noises as the smell of char-grilled lizard began to rise.
BLECK.
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Old July 24, 2019, 06:27 AM   #296
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“I guess they are. I mean, I predicted it, didn't I?”

The wizard shrugged his shoulders as salamanders roasted.

“Maybe by predicting it, I caused it to happen. Maybe that's the greatest magic of all.”

He slumped his shoulders just a little.

“Except, they're still not doing it right. The salamanders aren't going to summon the box. They're just going to roast. “

He scratched at his nose.

“If you excuse me, though, I have to go and fit in. Luckily, being a well prepared wizard, I made sure to have an appropriate sacrifice for the occasion. Making a prophecy without at least a partial awareness of where it's leading is just bad form, and it did take an awful lot of planning to get things to a stage where I could legitimately utilise this in a group setting without feeling silly.”

Wandering over to the lip of the volcano, Z'kron pulled out a stuffed lizard .

“Oh no! I'm a lizard!” he mimed halfheartedly, flailing it around in the air for a moment. With little further ado, he tossed it in.

This act done, he wandered back to Hero, folded his arms, and waited to see what happened when the sacrifices failed to yield the correct result.
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Old July 24, 2019, 06:37 AM   #297
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When all the lizards were tossed in - stuffed and unstuffed - the sound of squealing and popping lizard eyeballs ceased, only the muffled sobs of a distraught professor in the background left.

HUH. Said Rock. THAT WAS UNDERWHELMING.

Shh, Mountain chimed in, Something is Happening.

Bear stood so as to get a better view as a cultist shouted in anguish. Nothing was working! The prophecy needed to be fulfilled, and nothing was happening!

Tearing off his robe, the cultist threw himself into the lava, scrabbling at...something...before his shrieks also died.

It appeared that there was a box in the lava, now revealed by the needless pile-on of corpses around it. Somehow providing buoyancy.

It was a grim sight but hey, that's how fantasy prophecies come about. Loveless marriages to royalty, bloody wars, and wizards who murder countless people due to mindless following of foretold events.

Question was; was the box worth it?

HEY, CULTISTS. Shouted rock conspiratorially, IF YOU THROW YOURSELVES IN YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP THE BOX OUT OF THE LAVA EASIER.

The head cultist slowly turned to squint at the direction of Rock's shouting - Z'Kron's pocket - with a facial expression mixed with disgust and disbelief.

Wordlessly, a junior cultist threw down their own robe, turned away from the lava, and freed the greyhound. They made their way down the mountainside in total silence for the rest of their journey. They'd seen enough.
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Old July 24, 2019, 06:49 AM   #298
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"Good point, sentient voice from my pants" replied the wizard.

He shook his staff, composed entirely out of the fused bones of one of the previous cultists who had leapt into the lava, in the air.

"Maybe that was the point of the prophecy all along! To teach the citizens of Aslan's forge the basic principle of buoyancy! It's like a bathtub, only bigger! And with corpses!"

He beamed beatifically, narrating in his best narrator voice.

"Sufficiently advanced science is sometimes indistinguishable from prophecy. Magic is like that sometimes. Good job team. Professor. Surviving cultists. "

He nodded firmly to himself, and then glanced over to the head cultist and watched, quite serenely, to see if there were any ensuing reactions.
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Old July 28, 2019, 10:25 PM   #299
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The head cultist looked at Z'Kron like he was mad.

Perhaps he was; the head cultist wasn't to know. They had only just met, and in the space of a few minutes the elder dracon had utterly trashed his plans. Carefully laid-out plans that had taken eras to plot. Gone.

"How about we don't do that!" Cried the Professor irritably, "have you no eyes?! This place is dangerous, and my experiments to make it passable have all now been thrown into the lava!"

HEY. Rock nudged Z'Kron, SHOULD I FLOAT OVER AND GET THAT BOX?
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Old August 3, 2019, 11:50 PM   #300
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“I dunno, Professor. If you really wanted to have something that traversed lava, why would you bother with trying to breed salamanders to do it?”

He scratched as his gizzard which, as he may have previously referenced, was withered.

“I mean, Port Alxyandrya has siege golems down the road. Built in roaring forges of.. mount underground doom or something. I don't know, that was Master Zim's field, not mind. Anyway. You could have used one of those. And that's not even a dwarf city. I'm pretty sure that Zerdagia could have done something cool. Zerdagia always does something cool. It's basically cool city of cool dwarven cool McCoolness.”

He tilted his head carefully, applying all the deep psychological insight that his session with Doctor Torton had vested in him. In keeping with his careful observations on the matter, he made a quiet humming sound, nodded intently, and took a long, interpersonal-space developing pause. He gestured for rock to hold off for just a minute whilst he practiced his skills.

“Is there a reason you want it to be a biological method professor?”
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