Chapter 25: The Mad Scientist of the Trideconese
The bark soon made it to the western cove of Rhudis, and there were piers there for the sloop to dock, since they were built by sailors who wanted to explore the island in the past.
However, the warning Prince Palamedes gave would soon prove true, for no sooner did the party leave the ship than they saw a few goblins emerging. The green skinned, small mockeries of dwarves, while slightly different from races seen in the Emerald Kavala forests, emerged in high-tech battle armor that would make a science fiction movie director proud. Some had laser pistols, others had plasma blades similar to Valerius’, and others had slightly older weapons like Tommy guns. And there were even others with makeshift weapons such as crowbars and chainsaws.
“I think we’ve been expected,” said Valerius as he got out his own plasma blade.
The ship crew also got out some laser guns and other weapons to fend off any who would attack the ship.
The two sides battle for about ten minutes, but the remaining goblins soon retreated to warn the other monsters on the island.
The only wounds on the good side were some of the ship crew, and thankfully none were fatal. Zanthe used some natural medicines and some magic to heal up the wounded.
“I get the feeling that more of those baddins will be deeper within the island,” said Nauplius.
One of the sailors, upon recovering from his injuries, spoke: “I hear tales of monster caverns on this here island—the one entrance I could think of is on the east side of this island.”
“And that’s where we’ll go,” said Valerius. “Let’s get to the bottom of this monster infestation!”
The other heroes cheered their agreement, and they soon entered the thick forests of Rhudis.
When the party began entering into the forests, the sailors soon began their prayers to Nike, the goddess of victory, on the heroes’ behalf.
The forests of Rhudis were not unlike forests found on islands in the Mediterranean islands in the real world. Some were like date palms, others like various evergreen trees, and some were deciduous.
But there was no time to enjoy nature and see which trees were which. More goblins, some of which were survivors of the first skirmish, emerged. Along with them were other monsters. And some of the monsters had ancient weapons, while others had the futuristic weapons.
The first of the monsters encountered were Lynxmen—anthropomorphic lynxes that wore armor that was a mix of metal and semi-organic alloys. Some of them had traditional spears, whereas others had spear-like rods that shot energy shots from their tips.
The second of which were orcs. The Rhudus variety of orcs looked like portly elf-like sentinels, but with the heads of wild pigs. Their armor looked like wood grown from genetically modified trees—the wood grain was totally something that could not have come from nature—and their weapons ranged from handheld traditional crossbows to various laser rifles.
And finally, some Golems emerged to provide the heavy attacks. Some were made of rock, others of various metal alloys. And of both groups, some of them used just their fists to try to pound their victims into pulp. Some of the rock golems had cannon arms to shoot boulders at the intruders. Some of the metal alloy golems had laser guns installed instead of hands.
All of these monsters were determined to ensure the intruders didn’t reach their destination alive.
“Looks like those goblins survivors brought some friends,” said Galina.
“Well,” said Valerius as he prepared his weapon again, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall!”
Zanthe soon cast a few nature spells, summoning the forest trees to deal with the golems. Some trees used their roots to open up pits to trap a good number of the golems. Other trees used thicker branches to plug up the guns, since these thicker branches can sustain the blasts with little damage to themselves.
Rouvin shot his arrows at some of the orcs and Lynxmen. The arrows hit their marks before they could use their projectile weapons to damage the team.
Galina cast a few lightning spells to fend off some orcs and short-circuit some of the metallic golems easily.
Nauplius and Valerius fought some of the Lynxmen and goblins easily.
In about half an hour, the fight was done. Zanthe and Rouvin then tended to the wounds of the team before they all continued to the cavern entrance.
On the south end of the island was the start of the trail up the wide mountain that made up most of the island. It was not as high an elevation as some of the mountains in the empire, especially the mountains that would eventually be their final destination (but then, I, the author, am getting ahead of myself). However, it was wide in surface area, as far as the island itself goes.
Compared to the forests of Rhudis, going up the trail was easier, as they only needed to contend with an occasional goblin or orc. Most of these encounters were just one such monster at a time. Only once up the trail did they face a small group of goblins, and once further up did they encounter a decent-sized group of orcs.
About three-quarters of a mile up the mountain (the mountain was about four-fifths of a mile in total height), they soon found the cavern entrance.
“I’m willing to bet the leader of this would-be army is inside this cavern,” said Nauplius.
“Time to break up this army before it has a chance to overrun the empire!” cheered Rouvin.
The party soon went inside the caverns, eager to face what was inside.
The caverns inside Rhudis’ mountain had tan to medium brown rocks that make up its walls, ceilings, floors, and outcroppings. The columns had been retrofitted with various devices to protect it from collapse as well as from erosion and the advances of time.
But some devices could be seen on its unfriendly denizens. The caverns were home to dragonfolk—anthropomorphic dragons of various varieties. And they did not take kindly to strangers of any shape or form. While some of them used their breath powers, as any self-respecting dragon would take pride in doing so, others had various weapons—from the ancient to modern to futuristic—and some had even cybernetic implants to augment their skills.
“Why do I get the feeling this is a clue to who might be calling the shots here?” asked Galina.
“In any case,” said Nauplius, “let’s fight our way through and find the big cheese!”
Once more, the five used their weaponry to fight their way to their objective. The caverns echoed with screams, battle cries, and the sounds of weapons being used in one way or another.
The machines on the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns prevented the caves from caving in as the battles progressed.
Some of the tunnels were narrow, forcing the party to change their tactics and use extra caution.
Other parts of the caverns were wide despite being underground, and this gave the five heroes more liberty in their battle style.
Eventually, the five made it to the center of the caverns.
They looked to see a very large anthropomorphic dragon. His body had almost a giant human shape, but was unmistakably a black dragon. He wore a large stone and crystal crown, and armor of various dark colored gemstones, hard metals, and dusky-toned crystals, with parts of the back exposed to show his wings.
“Well, well, well,” said the large beast. “You must be the five that Lord Erebus spoke of. I am the Black Dragon King.”
“So you are the leader of these monsters,” said Valerius.
“Well,” answered the Black Dragon King. “Me and another person. But it won’t matter, since I will soon turn you into the dust from which the gods first formed you.”
At that, the Black Dragon opened his gaping mouth, releasing his powerful acid breath. The party got out of the way just in time, as the cloud of acid ate away at a nearby boulder.
“This guy can definitely hold his own!” said Rouvin. “And that armor probably covers up any soft underbelly!”
“If I can get a clean shot,” replied Nauplius, “I can probably break the armor!”
“Zanthe and I can use our magic to defend against his breath!” said Galina.
Rouvin started shooting arrows toward the Black Dragon King. Two were fortunate enough to hit both eyes, blinding the giant brute.
The Black Dragon King roared in pain and anger, spewing acid breath everywhere. Galina used some Air spells to clear the air, while Zanthe used her nature magic to restore any worn-away rock to prevent the room from caving in.
“Now’s your chance, Nauplius!” said Rouvin.
The Dwarf soon reached for his hammer and started wailing away at the armor. Just as persistence would wear away rock, Nauplius soon wore away the armor enough to expose some underbelly in the abdomen.
The Black Dragon King, blinded as he was, swatted Nauplius away, but the damage was enough for Valerius to race up with his Plasma Blade. With one well-placed thrust, he pierced the diaphragm and swung upward to sever the heart as well.
The giant reptilian roared in agony one last time, and then fell backwards. The beast lay dead.
“Well,” said Zanthe, “there may still be monsters on this island, but without their leader, they’re going blind.”
After a half a minute, a portion of the cave wall moved to reveal a computer monitor, which turned on.
A strange human face appeared. He had a pink-peach complexion with gray-green hair, include his mustache, and dark-blue—almost black—eyes behind his goggles. And he wore an outfit that would befit a mad scientist in a horror film.
“I sense the device I implanted in the Black Dragon King has been destroyed,” said the strange person. “I gave him a pacemaker-like implant so that if something or someone killed him, I would alert my boss Erebus!”
“You were making these monsters for that madman?!” Valerius said in horror. “You are just as insane as him!”
“Be that as it may,” replied the scientist, “I, Dr. Tantalus, will NOT be denied my recognition as best monster scientist in the empire, even if it means making a deal with Erebus or someone else with great ambitions!”
“By great ambitions,” retorted Rouvin, “you mean someone trying to endanger the known world!”
“If I’m in the wrong,” said Dr. Tantalus, “prove it to me! Come to my lair on Tilosyrna Island, if you dare!”
Dr. Tantalus laughed maniacally before turning off the monitor.
“We dare!” the five said in one voice before leaving the caverns.
The five heroes soon got back to the sloop.
The captain said, “Where to next?”
Valerius replied, “To Tilosyrna. The person responsible for the monster infestation is dwelling there.”
“Understood,” said the captain.
Then he gave the command to raise the anchor and sail off.
The island of Tilosyrna came into view after a forty-five minute ride on the sea, but something else came to meet the ship.
A purple-skinned ogre with military clothing and an energy cannon for a left arm shot at the ship, blasting a hole in the hull.
All got on the lifeboats safely, and some mermen soldiers escorted Valerius and his allies to Tilosyrna. The ogre had already retreated back, thinking the task was finished.
Once the five were on shore, and the rest of the ship’s crew were on lifeboats as well, Poseidon emerged. The five bowed before him.
“My mermaid servant girls will escort this crew back to Archapalaia,” said Poseidon. “You five go and teach that blasted mad scientist a lesson! He’s been polluting my nice clean Cretegean Sea with the byproducts of his insane experiments!”
“Will do, great Poseidon!” Galina said cheerfully.
The five then left and entered the forests of Tilosyrna. Poseidon then returned to the depths of the sea, and the mermaids, as well as some mermen, helped the sailors return home.
The five soon were within the southwest part of the forest, and the ogre who shot at them earlier saw that he wasn’t as successful as he had first thought.
“I thought you sank with the ship,” growled the ogre. “I guess I’ll just have to finish what I started!”
“An ogre THINKING?!” wisecracked Nauplius. The others in the party soon laughed at his joke.
The ogre growled in anger and started shooting at him. The party dodged as the shots knocked some trees down and made pits in the ground.
“No wonder he was successful in sinking the ship!” said Valerius.
“Leave this putz to me!” said Zanthe as she cast a nature spell. A hand of clay emerged and threw a mudball into the cannon, clogging it. It soon exploded, taking the ogre down as well.
Deeper into the forest, the party followed Zanthe as she made sense of the trails. But there were other monsters with cybernetic implants, no doubt the result of Dr. Tantalus’ experiments, dwelling in the woodlands as well.
Some Rhudus goblins emerged with cyborg arms, legs, and even eye implants emerged. The legs that were specially fitted gave them a boost in running and jumping, as well as the occasional kick. Their arms could house either plasma blades or other energy weapons, as well as give them a boost in strength.
Nauplius swung his hammer and sent many of them sailing.
“Even with those extra parts,” said Nauplius with a laugh, “they’re still pushovers.”
But some more goblins, as well as ogres, emerged, also with various cybernetic parts.
There were even giant spiders and giant wasps, also a result of the mad Dr. Tantalus’ experiments. Some were just giant bugs, whereas others had cybernetic implants, or were giant robots made to look like lifeforms. All of them were a hazard.
“Leave the bugs to me!” said Galina.
Valerius, Rouvin, and Nauplius began fighting the giant ogres, and Zanthe used her nature magic to deal with the lesser goblins.
Galina made good on her promise, as her lightning, tornadoes, and even the occasional simple gust of wind took out the arthropods in a couple good hits.
The ogres gave the most grief, as some of them had energy cannons as well, as well as some heat axes—axe weapons that had parts that could heat the blade to cut through solid steel—and other wild armaments.
Nevertheless, they were able to fight their way through the madness. All the enemy forces in that attack were downed.
Zanthe again created some healing potions and ointments with the natural ingredients of the forest.
It was late afternoon, just before sunset, but a building was seen to the northeast—near the cove of the island. It wouldn’t be too long till they would arrive at their destination.
The lair of Dr. Tantalus looked like a Greco-Roman domed temple, but with various wires, lights, and gadgets inside and outside.
The cameras looked at them, but no traps were activated.
“I guess Dr. Tantalus is expecting us,” said Valerius.
“Well, let’s not disappoint him,” Rouvin replied.
The doors opened up, and the five entered.
The hallway was relatively short, but it soon emptied into a large laboratory.
The center of the room was a large column-like computer. The monitor faced the southeast side of the room—well, it would be called a “corner” if it were not for the fact that the room was circular. Various tubes with liquids of all colors pumped to and from the laboratory, and other tubes contained robots currently under construction.
Other smaller monitors in the laboratory showed the data for the experiments, mirroring whatever experimental data and code was in the main computer that was appropriate for that particular project.
A door soon opened in the northeast portion of the room. Dr. Tantalus emerged with a large laser rifle in his hand.
“Welcome, visitors, to my humble abode,” said Dr. Tantalus with a chuckle.
“Dr. Tantalus I presume,” replied Valerius.
“You have guessed correctly,” the doctor said. “You caused quite a bit of damage here and in Rhudis. But once I deal with the likes of you, I’ll start rebuilding the master’s army.”
“Assuming you’re alive, or conscious, before then,” said Nauplius as he got out his hammer.
Dr. Tantalus shot a beam from his rifle that hit the head of the hammer. It was on low power, but the impact was enough to startle the dwarf into dropping it. Luckily, none of his feet, nor the feet of his comrades, were under it at the time.
“Let me deal with this troublemaker,” said Rouvin as he got his bow out.
Dr. Tantalus touched a button on a device on his belt. Something from the column computer emerged and let out a strange sound that made him drop his bow—the sound caused him to be dizzy.
“Surely that Valerius isn’t going to attempt anything, is he?” mocked Dr. Tantalus.
“No,” said Zanthe, “but I have a trick up my sleeve.”
Zanthe said something on koine Greek. At first, it seemed nothing happened.
“What was that?” laughed Dr. Tantalus. “A prayer to your patron deity?!”
But after a few laughs, he stopped when he heard the window on the northeast crash. A Treant had been summoned. And with one well-placed thrust, it impaled the mad scientist with a sharp branch.
“Thanks, friend!” said Zanthe.
The Treant saluted Zanthe as it carried the corpse of the slain maniac out of view.
Night had set in after the battle.
“I wonder what became of Dr. Tantalus’ body,” said Valerius.
With a sly look, Zanthe replied, “The Treant told me in my mind that it’s now providing nourishment for the forest.”
“Hopefully he hadn’t taken too many artificial drugs,” said Nauplius, “or the forest might look a bit wonky.”
Everyone laughed at the dwarf’s joke.
“Now that Dr. Tantalus is no more,” said Valerius, “let’s use this place for rest. Then tomorrow we can try to find some way to get back to the mainland.”
The party then looked for some rooms for sleeping. The men found one room with various places for sleeping, and Zanthe and Galina found another room.
The sun soon rose again.
After a small breakfast of some of their rations, the team looked about the laboratory. Since it was near a cove, there had to be a sea craft of some sort.
And there was—a high tech yacht was found tethered to an underground dock beneath the laboratory.
The yacht even had an autopilot feature of some sort.
The team boarded it and got it out into the open.
“The nearest shoreline,” said Nauplius, “is near the Thracecadian Forest.”
“Then that’s where we’ll go!” said Galina.
“Good,” replied Nauplius. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been back in my home town of Gray Corfu. I’d like to introduce you to my people there.”
“I think it would be a rather interesting learning experience,” said Valerius.
Galina soon typed in the coordinates to the nearest dock on the Thracecadian shoreline and activated the autopilot of the craft.
The engines soon set off.
"Advice is free, Alexander. Making use of it costs much more!" --Ali the bookshop owner, from King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Maverick Hunter D-Boy at your service!
All Hail Shadow! Heroes rise again! Obliterating everything that's not your friend!