“Welcome, fellow Perturbers…” A female voice echoed through the open chamber. For the life of him, James couldn’t figure out where the voice came from. The Keep turned out to be one single open chamber, no rooms or doors, only cages, chains, and a layer of bones that coated the floor.
“Wh.. who.. Are you?” James stuttered as he scoured the room, looking for some sort of monstrous creature hiding within a pile of bones.
“Well, it's a good thing you are handsome huh?” the voice laughed, “I just told you who I am; a fellow perturber!”
James looked to Alex, who gave James’s one of Patrick’s not-so-helpful shrugs, “Perturbers are the advanced magic users that the city puts in cages, right? That’s not any of us…”
“Advanced... magic... users…” the voice repeated, “That is an odd way to say it… Well, a few of you are either Perturbers or Mystics,” the voice laughed, “and you don't look like the Mystic sort, so…”
“SHOW YOURSELF DEMON!” Patrick screamed with his best war voice.
James jumped at his companion’s sudden outburst. He put a hand on Patrick’s shoulder, “Whoa, dude… calm down there, buddy. The voice... seems pretty friendly to me, no need to rush into anything we will regret.”
Plus she called me handsome… James thought to himself.
James looked to Omero for confirmation that he was heading down the right path in talking with the voice. The Italian gave James another one of Patrick’s not-so-useful shrugs, no doubt because he couldn’t see the person talking, and therefore his Inveigler class didn’t register anything.
“Ohh, the big loud guy is definitely a Perturber. That much is for sure,” the voice said matter of factly. Patrick corrected the voice to let it know his actual name. The feminine voice continued, “Okay Patrick. As a matter of fact, all of you guys are rather big. Not so much for the Inveigler, no offense, but it makes me think. It’s curious really. Your human and most of you are as large as the fighters here, yet two of you are Perturbers, who, as you can see, are not very welcome here. Those facts suggest that…” the voice paused for a bit before continuing, much more excitedly this time, “Oh, are you guys here to rescue us?”
“Wait, wait,” James said, quickly getting in over his head, even though he prided himself on figuring out the finer points of the game, “I don’t think we actually understand what Perturbers are-”
“Your definition was correct, slightly strange, but correct,” the voice interrupted.
“Okay… we aren’t sure how you can tell that we are Perturbers, even if you are correct in assuming we are. Also, what do you mean ‘rescue us’? We are just here for someone called Sorrell, that is all.”
"Oh! That’s me! That’s me!” the voice replied.
James blanched, “Okay… well… where are you?” He looked to his party members and confirmed that they were just as lost as he was. Everyone except Patrick, who seemed uncharacteristically scared, especially for someone who, just moments ago, was ready to rush into battle with the voice.
“Sorry…” Sorrell began.
Suddenly, all the bones that coated the floor of the Keep started to rattle and move. They jerked, knocked against each other, and some of them even flew across the room. The chamber came alive with movement and the overbearing sounds of time-hardened bones clattering about. When it was all over, a formation of ten skeletons stood at attention. One stepped out from the rest and began to speak.
“... Where are my manners? We get quite lazy being trapped in here, but of course that is no excuse to be rude,” the skeletal Sorrell finished.
James couldn’t respond. He tried, but he couldn’t convince his tongue to forge any words.
“Well…” Sorrell asked as she brought her arms out to her side and leaned back slightly, “Aren’t you going to comment on my figure?” Sorrell then took her bony hands and slowly dragged her flanges against the top of her rib cage and down to her femur, “... I thought I looked rather good.”
James could only stare at the strangely provocative skeleton in front of him. A moment later, Omero left the keep, his only parting words being, “I’ll be out here.”
“Okay, since you three are too prude to compliment a woman, I will do the talking,” Sorrell said as she brought her hands to her sacrum and tilted her pelvis in dissatisfaction, “I assume my father sent you after me? Abaddon, does that name ring a bell? He is slightly overbearing, but I can always count on him when I get myself into trouble like I have here. I will admit though, it has taken him much longer than usual for him to rescue me. I imagine it has something to do will this pendant they put on me…” the skeleton interrupted her animated pacing to fondle a small necklace charm that James hadn’t been present enough to notice before. “You will have to fight me of course, you know, to break the charm's spell. That is probably why Father couldn’t rescue me himself. So… uh… let’s just get on with it then, shall we?” Sorrell turned to her formation of skeletons and whispered something to them. All at once, nine humerus bones rose, ulnas and radiuses twisted, and the formation stood in silent salute to their master.
Sorrell turned back to the party and smiled. The contorting of skull and jaw bones to make the expression possible was enough to make James gag, so he did so.
“Don’t worry sweetys, it’s just going to be you three gentleman and little ole' me, rolling around and getting nice and sweaty. My guards won’t get involved…” The skeleton tilted her head, “unless you are into that? Oh! Do you want to invite your friend back inside? The smaller one. This will be funnnnn…”
Finally, James’s tongue ended its protests and allowed words to cross it’s picket line, “What.. the fuck... is going on right now?”
Patrick grunted a soft, lackluster grunt that sounded more resigned than aggressive.
Alex cleared his throat, “Is this even real li-”
The veterans words were snuffed out when a metatarsal bone fell into his mouth. Alex gagged and spit the toe bone out onto the floor.
“GOAL!” Sorrell screamed as she did her best to hold her arms as high as she could while hopping around on one foot. She laughed and gave a signal to one of her guards. The guard loyally got to one patella and pulled a bone from his foot. He handed it to Sorrell, who added it to her own foot and took a few trying steps. The skeleton restored her confidence in her balance, and charged.