Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pitch: Tracking

Backstory for this one? The Riders have had a couple of their people turn up missing- namely Bricu and Shad. They disappeared under very strange circumstances, with fairly obvious SI:7 involvement, and the rest of the Riders, including Pitch and Lark, were getting stressed and jumpy. Bricu turned up again last RP night, fortunately, and while the "trail" was fresh, Pitch was asked to go track Bricu back to the SI:7 hideout he'd been held at.

There is a forum thread about it here.


The scent trail led to a grate set low in the Mage District wall. Pitch sniffed long and hard at the ground, making certain of where the trail led, before he finally went to examine the grate. He barely heard Bricu's motorbike start up again and move off, as the paladin headed for his home.

He had to go elf in order to move the grate, then he slipped through, pulling it shut again behind him, just in case. He returned to his cat form, picked up the thread of Bricu's scent, and padded down the tunnel. Kal'dorei night vision combined with his cat eyes allowed him to see in the darkness easily. The tunnel smelled musty, but had a "used" feel. It ran ahead of him for several hundred feet before he came to the first intersection.

Pitch paused and stared down each of the new tunnels for a moment, sniffing the air. The faint scent of humans reached him from one, and he wanted to explore them both, but on the other hand... Bricu's scent trail still went straight ahead, so after a brief debate Pitch continued on his way. He had a job to do, and he could always backtrack later.

He passed two more intersections, but Bricu's trail never left the main tunnel, so neither did Pitch. The tang of magic in the trail was getting stronger, however, and he wondered where exactly he was going to end up. Then he came to the door.

It was fairly unassuming, as doors went, but Pitch felt the faint crackle of warding magic in his whiskers as he approached. He stopped a safe distance away and studied the door, faintly regretting his own inability with magic. The tunnel was swept clear; there wasn't even a piece of trash to toss at the door, to try and trigger the ward that way. Finally Pitch left his cat form, then took a deep breath, sent a silent apology to Lark in case things went wrong, and touched the door.

Nothing happened, which was perhaps more worrying than if there'd been an explosion. The ward simply flared slightly, then faded, leaving the door free to open. Pitch wasted no time in searching for the latch, but the door didn't seem to have one. He muttered a curse under his breath, then started feeling around the edges for anything that would open the door. Seconds ticked by, and Pitch's imagination supplied him with various scenes of guards coming down on him, alerted by the ward. "Oh, by Ursol's left-"

Snick. Something gave under his questing fingers, and the door swung toward him, opening about an inch. Pitch let out his breath as quietly as he could, then shifted back to cat and warily poked his nose out. He was greeted by the scent of magic so strong it felt like a slap in his nostrils, and when he peered out he was confronted by a wall of pulsing green.

It took him a moment to realize he was behind the portal in the Mage Tower. A cautious sniff proved there was no one else in the room, so he eased out of the hole in the wall to look around. The teachers and portal masters all appeared to have gone to bed, and there was no trace of anyone else, so after a brief inspection Pitch slipped back into the tunnel.

He now knew where the Sevens had brought Bricu from, so it seemed like a good time to go back and explore those side tunnels. He trotted back down into the darkness.

* * * * *

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Pitch watched warily from the shadows as a pair of guards squinted down the tunnel. Their voices echoed faintly down to his ears.

"Are you certain you saw something? It might've just been a rat."

"Pfah. Rats aren't three feet tall with glowy eyes. I'm telling you there's something there."

Three feet tall? Pitch didn't know whether to laugh or growl, but knew better than to do either. He held his tongue and waited for their next move.

"Well, I don't see it." The first guard spat, then turned back to his post. "If you're so frightened of being down here, why don't you go up to Gallina's and help yourself to the wine?" He gestured toward the door they guarded with his hand crossbow.

Gallina's? Well, at least he had a rough idea where he was now. As the second guard returned to his post and the two continued their bickering, he turned and slipped back down the way he had come.

The next door he came to was also guarded, so he didn't even try to get close. The one beyond that looked promising, however, with the tunnel ending at an unguarded, tiny stairwell. The rickety steps- more ladder, really- led up to another hidden door, which led to...

Cool night air hit his nose, although his view was blocked by a stack of crates. No matter. Pitch marked the place in his mind and continued on.

The next tunnel he found was a long one, ending at a stout wooden door guarded by no less than five men. Pitch gave a frustrated huff and turned to go back.

"What was that?"

He froze as the voice rang out, then heavy footsteps started heading in his direction. Without looking back, Pitch quickly slunk down the tunnel toward the nearest branch-off, but the persistent guard stayed on his heels, followed by at least one of the others. He reached the crossing tunnel just ahead of their torchlight and ducked in, his black fur melting into the shadows. He shut his eyes to hide their glow, tracking the guards by scent and sound.

"It was probably nothing. We would have found something by now." Yes, listen to your buddy, Pitch thought, but the leading pair of boots kept coming closer, bringing the torchlight with them.

"You know what Shaw will do if anything gets into the Keep," the first guard replied harshly. "I'm not going back til I'm sure." The Keep! No wonder they were jumpy. Pitch held his breath, his muscles tensing involuntarily as the footsteps came closer; five yards, then three. Then they were right on top of him, and Pitch waited for the shout of discovery, preparing to dash out and try for that door he had found earlier...

Then the boots were retreating back down the tunnel, the other guard cracking jokes to the first about "dedication to duty," and Pitch slowly let out the breath he'd been holding. He waited until he heard nothing from the guards, then cautiously made his way back to the unguarded door.

It exited out into an alcove, the door hidden from the outside by the stack of crates. Pitch made sure to replace the crates exactly the way they had been once he was outside, then took a moment to get his bearings. He quickly recognized the Cathedral looming up nearby, and fixed the door's location in his memory, in case any of the Riders wanted to see where it was. Then he shifted to a bird and made his tired way home. Maybe Lark would still be up, waiting for him.

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