2012-06-11: The Awakening - Act V

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The Awakening, Act V / 覚醒 - 第五章

Author: unknown author Published: June 11, 2012

“Now, charge its left flank, and aim for the seams! Mages, lightning and energy bolts, but focus on keeping up our knights!” Dupre shouted out the orders from behind his plated helm, even as his cadre of knights swarmed one of the monstrosities that laired within Exodus dungeon. With the backup of the mages keeping them healed, they weren’t in any threat at the moment from the beast in front of them. Lord Dupre had heard the noises and gotten glimpses of things from inside what was left of Ver Lor Reg and it caused him quite a bit of worry. He’d been trying to devise tactics so that they could retake the city, but the creatures resisted quite a bit of force, and seemed to give up little in areas of weakness save for how well lightning worked against them. As he observed the knights, a noise from behind caught his attention, and he whirled while he drew the longsword at his side and lunged. His blade bit harshly into the seam of the floating menace, and he smashed it in harder by hammering the hilt with his plated gauntlet. With a squealing shriek of metal, the creature’s internal mechanisms chewed themselves to pieces on his sword before he drew it out and turned away, the creature exploding and peppering his armor with light shrapnel. He slashed the grease and oil clinging to his blade onto the floor of the dungeon as his knights finished slaying the much larger creature, and they retreated from the dungeon once more.

Lord Dupre had always loved the city, with its gentle ocean breeze cutting through the harsh heat of the nearby jungles. Trinsic felt like home, even after all these years…though the sandstone walls didn’t hold the same comfort they once had. In Felucca some of the structures still bore the scars from his campaign against Juo’Nar and the fallen knights own siege of the city, but here in Trammel the same evidence was gone; He would never get used to that. He made his way to the weaponsmith, as was usual after these excursions…he’d yet to return without a blade in disrepair from using it against these metal monsters. From there he quickly made his way to the Keg and Anchor, and was going to sit at his favorite table when he noticed there was someone else in the spot he usually occupied. With a muttered grumble under his breath he made his way around the table and sat opposite the man, taking note of his wrinkled and rumpled clothes, and the way he clutched at something in his left hand, a glint of a dingy metal ball hanging off of it.

The waitress didn’t even need to come over to take his drink order; Dupre had been a regular since he’d trekked away from the lands of Felucca to Trammel, and in short order the staff had learned his patterns. She brought over a strong, aged honey whiskey and left him with a glass full and the bottle on the table. As he took a drink, he put it down with a start as the seemingly comatose man across from him had suddenly flung his open right hand out, clearly wanting the glass. Dupre’s face soured for a moment before he shook his head. “You’ll get nothing from begging, but if you’ve got news or information of worth, I’m not averse to sharing the drink then.”

This seemed to have animated the fellow, whose face lifted off the table to regard the knight, and he gave Dupre a crooked smile. “I’ll tell you a story, my gleaming friend, and perhaps you might understand how this all began. But you’ll get nothing from me with my tongue this dry, so fill up my glass and we can see what you have yet to learn.”

Dupre looked down to see that as if by magic, an empty glass had appeared in the man’s hand, and he poured him half a glass full of the expensive drink.

“Now talk, and make sure it was worth the cost of that whiskey.”

The rough looking fellow winced as he drank practically half the drink at once, exhaling sharply as he pulled away, and leaned forward, as a spark of recognition passed between the knight and the jester. The jester laughed at the apparent shock that ran across Lord Dupre’s face, and he could smell the man’s foul breath accompanying that laugh.

“I was wondering if you’d recognize me, you old tin can. Can’t fault you for taste though, you always did know how to sweet talk these little waifs into giving you the best stock they had.” With that he raised his glass to Dupre and finished off what was left in it. “Of course, you probably either thought me dead and gone…or never bothered to spend a thought on an old jester, did you? I’ll tell you right now, what you’ve seen in our cities…it’s worse in Ter Mur. Apparently, those refugees out of Ver Lor Reg were carrying something with them, you see…something that doesn’t affect them but it sure does the Ter Mur gargoyles. They’re trying to keep it hushed up…but Zhah’s ferrying out the infected to that abandoned fishing village, keeping them quarantined…and the Ver Lor Reg gargoyles…I’m sure someone knows where they are. I don’t. That fishing village though…it belongs to the dead and the dying.”

Dupre’s mouth hung open at this stunning revelation, before he snapped it shut. The Jester held out his now empty glass, and flashed him a vicious grin, until the knight poured him another glass.

“You’re a regular saint, you old codger. Now I promised I’d tell you how it all began. Years ago, when my master was still with us, he’d managed to figure out that something was happening in Ilshenar, and it was centered around Exodus. He’d gathered what he could about the enemy, but it was at a turbulent time, and he doubted that he could get anyone to rally behind him. I wasn’t able to learn much personally, but I think he intended to destroy the machines that were empowering Exodus. Machines you might be familiar with by now.”

Dupre’s realization happened almost immediately, as he growled. “The nexus devices that everyone’s been collecting and building.”

The jester’s laugh had no mirth or lightness in it. “Isn’t it all such a grand, cruel joke? Our fate is being brought down on us by our own hands.” He paused to take another drink, shrugging as he did so and returning to his previous story. “He’d managed to get his hands onto some kind of scrolls he claimed were vital, but I never saw what was in them…all I ever saw were the two maps he had. One showed a passage into Exodus dungeon that went through Ver Lor Reg…that same map that was stolen the night of the riot and that that little fence made so many copies of. The other…”

He paused, taking a long drink and laid his head down, until finally Dupre broke the silence.

“And the other?”

The old jester looked up through bleary eyes.

“The other led him to the last place he ever walked as a man…but I’ll tell you this. Master always had a journal he kept with him that held more in it than anyone ever knew. If you can find that journal…maybe you can figure out what’s really going on. And I think that a knight as smart as yourself should know where it will be.”

Dupre’s face set with a grim bit of determination.

Exodus Dungeon.”

“Glad to see you can still use a bit of what’s left between your ears, you tin can.”

Dupre sighed as he poured them both a full glass once more. “Heckles, I think you may have given me the first thing I need to fight this enemy…and I’ll definitely drink to that.”

Japanese version

「今だ! 左側面より突撃! 接続部を狙え! 魔法使いはライトニングとエナジーボルトだ。だが騎士のサポートは怠るな!」デュプレ(Lord Dupre)のプレートヘルムの中からこの命令が発せられた瞬間、彼の騎士団の中核はエクソダスダンジョンに巣くう巨大な異形の生命体に群がった。魔法使いたちの絶え間ない治療支援を受け、今のところ騎士たちは前方に立ちふさがる敵からたいした脅威を受けていなかった。ヴァーローレグの残骸内でデュプレは騒音を耳にし、視線を走らせていた。これは彼にとって厄介なことだった。デュプレは街を奪還するための戦術を立てようとしていた。しかし、あの生命体どもは相当な力で抵抗し、ライトニングはある程度有効であるものの、その他にはほぼ弱点がないかのように思えた。騎士たちを観察していたデュプレは背後からの物音に気付き、振り向きざまに抜いたロングソードを突き刺した。剣は浮遊する厄介者の接続部に深々と刺さったが、プレートグローブをはめた手で剣の柄を思いっきり叩きつけ、さらに奥まで剣を打ち込んだ。キーッという金属音と共に、この生物の内部機構が自身をめちゃくちゃに破壊した。デュプレは剣を引き抜くと背を向けた。機械生命体は爆発し、細かな破片がデュプレの鎧に降り注いだ。剣を振ってこびりついた機械油をダンジョンの床に払い落とすと、ちょうど彼の騎士たちがもっと大きな生命体を倒したところだった。彼らは再びこのダンジョンから撤退した。

近くのジャングルからの熱気を断ち切るように優しい海風がそよぐこの街を、デュプレはずっと愛してきた。あの数年間の後でさえ、トリンシックは我が家のように感じられる……。しかし、砂岩の壁はかつてのような心地よさを与えてはくれなかった。フェルッカの建物の幾つかには、ジュオナール(Juo'nar)と堕落した騎士による都市攻撃に彼が対抗した戦いの傷が未だに残っているが、ここトランメルではその戦いの証はなかった。デュプレは決してこのことに慣れることはできそうにない。こういった小規模の戦いをした後はいつもそうするように、彼は武器工房に向かった……。あの金属モンスターどもと戦うと、必ず剣が破損してしまうのだ。そこからすぐにThe Keg and Anchorという酒場に向かい、いつものテーブルにつこうとしたが、彼のお気に入りの席には既に先客がいた。小声でぶつくさ言いながらテーブルをぐるりと回ったデュプレは、その男の向かい側に座り彼のシワシワの服や左手で何かを握りしめている様子を観察したが、その物体からは薄汚く光る金属球がぶら下がっていた。


この言葉に男はもぞもぞと動き始め、テーブルから顔をあげて騎士を見つめると、デュプレに向かってひきつった笑みを浮かべて見せた。 「友よ、それじゃ、話してやろうかね。全ての事の始まりを。んだが、こう舌が乾いていちゃぁ話せねぇや。あっしのグラスに注いでくれたら、あんたの知らない話をするよ」




「私が判らないんじゃないかと思ってましたよ、古ぼけたブリキ缶くん。でも、味覚に関してはあなたを批判できませんね。こんな風来坊から一番いい情報を引き出すには、どんなうまい話で釣ればよいのかよくご存じだ」そう言うと、彼はグラスをデュプレに向けて掲げてから残りを一気に飲み干した。「もちろん、あなたは私がおそらく死んでしまったと思っていたのでしょうね。それとも老いぼれ道化師のことなんて考えもしなかったかな? さて、それでは話してあげましょう。あなたも我々の街で起きたことを見てきたでしょうが……、テルマーはもっとひどい状況です。ヴァーローレグ(Ver Lor Reg)から逃れた難民は何かに感染しているようですね。難民たち自身は影響を受けていませんが、テルマーのガーゴイルは違う。彼らは隠そうとしてはいますが……、ザー(Zhah)は感染者を捨てられた漁村に隔離しています……。そしてあのヴァーローレグのガーゴイルたちは……、彼らの行方を知る者がいるはずです。私は知りませんがね。ともかくあの漁村は……、死と死にゆく者のものです」



デュプレはたちまち理解し、うなり声をあげた。「皆が収集と建造に走っているあのネクサス(The nexus)とかいう機械か」 道化師の笑いには楽しさも軽快さもなかった。「まったくとんだ冗談みたいじゃありませんか? 我々に運命をもたらしたのは、他ならぬ我々自身の手だなんてね」彼は話を中断すると、もう一杯飲み、肩をすくめて再び続けた。「あの方はなにか極めて重要だという巻物類の入手には成功しておられたが、何が書かれているのかは私は知りません。私はあの方が持っていた二枚の地図しか見ていないのです。一つはヴァーローレグを通じてエクソダスダンジョンに入る道が描かれていました……。この地図は暴動の夜に盗まれ、盗品売買屋によってかなり多くの複製が作られました。もう一つは……」









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