2664/Lost in Atlantis

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Lost in Atlantis
Date of Scene: 28 July 2020
Location: City of Atlantis
Synopsis: Atlantis is in trouble. The only ones who can solve the mystery are Earth, Ice, and Brains!
Cast of Characters: Namor, Douglas Ramsey, Julio Richter, Bobby Drake

Namor has posed:
The instructions were quite clear. Collect your belongings, collect your associates, report to 'the coast.' Nearly seventy thousand miles of potential meeting spots on the Atlantic alone, those summoned by the Atlantean King had plenty of options. Whether they chose to gather together or scatter, the result is the same. Less than twenty minutes after collecting upon the shore, the oceans heaved and churned and from the depths rose a vehicle of unusual design. Shaped very roughly like a stingray, the vehicle beached itself and a hatch slid open, waiting patiently for the expected passengers to board.

The interior makes it abundantly clear that this particular craft was designed with a military purpose in mind. Though it lacks weaponry, equipment racks line the walls, situated above spartan seating arrangements, their backs positioned against the wall so every occupant faced the middle. The floor itself sports a seam and concealed hinges, obviously designed to fold out or away and permit the occupants to quickly drop down into the ocean en masse -- undoubtedly a troop transport.

Though at first it starts empty, the cockpit sealed from the rest of the vehicle behind a heavy waterproof door, whether the visitors arrive together or separate, eventually the hold fills with those making their way to Atlantis. When the last passenger boards, the craft slides elegantly back into the sea and cuts its way through the water, the widely-spaced viewports showing a rapid descent from the light and into the darker depths.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    Doug showed up in - a hawaiian shirt, board shorts, and flip-flops (because what else would you wear), with a duffle bag, and a computer case. "Waterproof computer." He says, to an Atlantean. "Changes of clothes. Waterproof Kindle..." Because he's got to have something to read, right?

He seems very comfortable, as he finds a seat on the sub and sits, jogging his flip-flop on one foot and reading from his kindle.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio hasn't changed out of the green swim trunks (from ~Monaco~) that he had on when he wiped out off the jetski, and once he sat down on the beach, they ended up caked in sand. Still, his unbuttoned white overshirt is dry and clean, so he looks at least mildly post-beach presentable by the time he heaves his duffel bag over one shoulder and climbs into the back of the Atlantean watercraft. And considering how Namor showed up in Salem Center, the last thing he's really worried about is underdressing.

What does catch his notice, as he takes a seat across from Doug, is the lack of windows. "Eh, riding to the bottom of the ocean and we don't even get to enjoy the view? Seems unfair," he complains. After listening to Doug itemize his luggage, he hefts the duffel bag onto an equipment rack hook and answers, "I just brought more swimsuits and stuff for brushing my teeth."

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby came with Julio, having tossed some things into a backpack and slung it over his shoulder. The amount of waterproof gear he has is only surprising if one doesn't consider how much time he himself spends in the water or on ice. But he brings no more than a single backpack with presumably whatever he needs for their indeterminate stay. He's dressed in a pair of comfortable faded jeans, running shoes, and black t-shirt with Ursula from the Little Mermaid on it with the caption: Never Underestimate the Importance of Body Language ( https://tinyurl.com/y4pxem87 ).

He grins over at Julio as he takes a seat next to him and says, "You can see.. mostly.." He nods toward one of the windows, until it starts to get dark. "Well, sortof.." He grins a little and shrugs his shoulders. "I'm sure we'll see more when we get closer." Ever the optimist.

Namor has posed:
And indeed they do get closer. Ever onwards the craft slides through the water like a knife, the Atlanteans having long ago developed methods for traversing their realm with ease. Darker and darker the view gets through the small, sparse, and easily missed ports. In time, it's hard to determine if they show anything at all, or if they merely look out into an endless void. Though the velocity of their descent was well dampened by whatever marvel of engineering the Atlanteans worked into their crafts, after a period of several minutes what could be felt begins to fade and lessen as the transport slows and eventually comes to a stop. For a brief moment nothing happens, the only indication of life outside their air-filled compartment the greatly muffled sounds of activity from the cockpit. Then abruptly the seam in the middle of the floor parts as metal folds in on itself in a graceful display of motorization. Luckily for the land-dwelling occupants of the craft, the air pocket doesn't collapse on itself, but they do get treated of a very dimly lit view of the ocean floor roughly twenty feet below them where a figure stands staring up.

Clad in a spare few pieces of black Atlantean armor on his shoulders, arms, and legs Namor, King of Atlantis, shoves off the silt he 'stands' upon and enters the transport through the hatch in the floor. He casts his gaze about the three occupants, noting two familiar faces and one he had not yet seen and frowns. "Your other two companions are on another transport," Namor claims aside to Douglas while his eyes are locked on Bobby, "Who is this?" The hatch in the floor slides closed, and the Atlantean King not waiting for a response strides over to a panel on the wall to press a discreet blue button. Immediately, the interior walls of the ship seem to fade away, though the crushing depths of the ocean politely refuse to intrude upon their space. Curiously the equipment racks do not drop to the floor or float away, nor do the chairs that were ostensibly connected to the walls. After a moment it becomes clear that the walls merely faded to transparency rather than abandoning reality entirely. Spotlights attached to the craft flick on, and within moments the passengers are treated to a view of the ocean floor moving rapidly beneath them as they approach the rise of a tectonic ridge.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug looks up, from where he's jogging his leg, his flip-flop slapping his heel. "This is -" He tilts his head, "Iceman. He's... my superior. Sort of. He's here to keep an eye on us. He's cool - he's... fine. He puts his hand behind his head, and says, "I have people I answer to, Namor Rex. You understand."

He looks down at the ocean floor below them. "But I apologize for not saying something, first."

Julio Richter has posed:
Buoyed by the excitement of the trip, Julio keeps looking through the portholes as they descend, even as it becomes clear that there's nothing to sea. (Sorry.) Neither being especially up on his physics, nor an experienced undersea traveler, when the floor slides away he hurriedly shrinks into his seat, nearly dropping a sandal into the ocean in his alarm. He relaxes a bit when it becomes clear how air pressure works, and when Namor rises to join them. This isn't likely to be some kind of double cross with the king standing -- well, floating -- right there.

His only contribution to the discussion of Bobby is to add in his accented voice, "He's an accountant."

The disappearing walls he takes better than the retracting floor, flicking the hull once with a fingernail so that his vibrational senses can reassure him it's there. The dramatic view of the ocean floor flying by, he takes in with touristy enthusiasm, reaching out to grab Bobby's wrist as the ridge approaches.

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby raises his brows a little when Doug introduces him as Iceman and calls him his superior, unable to hide that brief flicker of surprise. Then he glances over at Julio and he actually laughs when Julio claims that he's an accountant. Finallly, he just shakes his head and says, "A pleasure to meet you, Highness. I'm a teacher, and a mathematician," he offers respectfully. Then his attention shifts toward the walls as they vanish. He might be a little less concerned than the others -- after all, he's perfectly at home in the water. Instead, his attention turns to the sea, and watching the sea floor race by beneath them as they approach the ridge with open appreciation on his features. It's a beautiful sight. When Julio grabs his wrist, he slips his hand down into Julio's and gives it a squeeze, a little sidelong grin shot his way.

Namor has posed:
Mild annoyance flickers through Namor's expression as Bobby is introduced, gaze shifting to Douglas then Julio before finally coming to rest once more on Bobby himself. It's clear the King dislikes unapproved developments, but he's also not about to execute anyone over the indiscretion. "Very well," he offers by way of approving the last minute addition, nodding once to the trio before he looks out over the view with the rest. In truth, the approaching ridge is deceptively far, but between their velocity and the sheer scale involved it fools the perception and fights the eye. For anyone aware of the topography of the Atlantic ocean, it becomes abundantly clear that it is, in fact, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge they approach. When they finally reach the foot of the 'mountain' range and begin to ascend to mount it, Namor begins to speak: "As I mentioned when I summoned you, my people have recently recovered an artifact from an era of our history we once thought lost." Without turning, he glances out of the corner of his eye to Douglas before refocusing on the view outside the craft, "You correctly guessed that it is a tablet from the pre-cataclysmic era. It was found alongside a scepter of Atlantean design reminiscent of the old Imperial style. Because of this, we believe the tablet to be the recorded word of someone close to an Atlantean Monarch while we still walked upon the land, if not the King himself."

More and more of the ridge disappears behind them as the peak grows ever closer. It doesn't take long before they pass the halfway mark, yet Namor continues. "Normally, we would not share something like this with a surface dweller, but it would take our historians too long to translate from old Atlantean," he claims, his tone growing moderately darker and more solemn, "Two weeks ago we began to lose patrols near the Arctic seas. When a pattern was established, I went to investigate and discovered a swarm of creatures that rarely venture from their realm in the darkest depths. They were hunting nearly at the surface of the ocean." A pause. "Something has displaced them from their home, and we have reason to believe this event is somehow connected with the contents of that tablet."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm the man for the job." Doug says. He looks over at Namor and then at the other two, and then he sighs, rubbing the back of his neck with a techno-organic hand and rolling his shoulder, before he says, "...What were these creatures like?" He asks, furrowing his brow. "Well -- nevermind. Priorities. Translation." He looks up. "Okay."

"We're ready."

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio grips Bobby's hand and snickers. "¿Qué? He's a king, he knows the value of a good accountant," he teases. He watches the ridge approach, brow furrowing as he realizes he has misjudged the distance, and experimentally does a geology check with his mutant powers to see if he can get a more accurate read on their relative position. When he does, he starts backward so forcefully that he bonks the back of his head on the bulkhead. When he raises his free hand to rub at the bump, the hand is ringed in a fractured, trembling aura of green fire, much brighter than his usual, for those who have seen his powers in action.

"Guau," he breathes, staring at it and completely forgetting about the ache in his head that he was trying to massage. He waves his hand in front of his face a little bit and giggles at the trailing glow it leaves behind. "Uh. King Nipplemore? Where /are/ we?"

He seems suddenly out of it enough that he misses the entire conversation about ancient artifacts and creatures of the deep. Is Julio... Is Julio /high/??

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby listens with interest as Namor explains the tablet and the significance of it, studying the king as he explains, glancing over toward Doug when he seems to know what to do, nodding his head just a little bit. He grins sidelong at Julio and says, "Mhmn," but that's all he has to say on the topic of accounting.

It's Julio's sudden jerking back that startles him, eyes going wide a bit when the other man clonks his head. He reaches up with his free hand instinctively, and says, "Yikes, you okay?" Then there's green fire around Julio's hand, and he at least knows enough about the man's abilities to know what it is and not be overly alarmed, but he has no idea what's going on. "Hey, relax." He chills one hand, not unlike an ice pack, and gently rests it on the back of Julio's head, soothing and cold.

"What just happened?" he asks, not really understanding what's going on.

Namor has posed:
When Julio begins reacting to the geological energy inherent in their location, Namor glances to him sharply. He doesn't seem alarmed, but there is a heavy element of confusion and mild irritation, especially as he starts to glow with green fire. He tenses briefly, perhaps prepared to tackle the mutant out of the craft before he blows up and kills the Atlantean pilots, but as he seems more addled than destructive, the King relaxes and looks to Bobby as if there might be some explanation forthcoming from him. "Your people call it the Mid-Atlantic Ridge," Namor eventually supplies, watching the pair for any more sudden bursts of light or energy before he relaxes enough to look back out at the view of the peak falling away beneath them."

"We call it Atlantis."

Rising out of the depths on a plane of unnaturally flat silt just on the other side of the geological formation is an otherworldly city of phosphorescent light. Twisting spires and bustling activity blanket the sea floor, blue-skinned swimmers moving in and out of buildings and guiding creatures that look like they could easily be the inspiration for a dozen or so myths about sea monsters. As their transport glides closer and eventually enters the city limits, the citizens beyond their transparent walls pay little attention to the vehicle, suggesting perhaps the transparent nature of the walls functions much like a one-way mirror. Navigating their way through the towers and buildings of the Imperial Capital is of little difficulty, not only does the watery environment and ability to traverse three dimensions make piloting the craft past obstacles simple, their destination is evident from any point in the city.

Towering above the tallest spires, a domed complex of extravagant wealth dominates the center and skyline of the city. Without a doubt the Atlantean Palace, the transport makes its way through a guarded checkpoint without much hassle before it dives into an open hangar and glides to a stop in a bay equipped with mounting arms that swing out and grip the walls of the craft just before they return to solidity, blocking the passengers' view once more. "Take these," Namor half-commands, half-offers as he pulls a trio of unobtrusive masks off the equipment rack. They look very much like high-tech oxygen masks you'd find in any military jet cockpit, but rather than a solid covering they're simply frames. Namor holds one to his face, presses a button the side to demonstrate, and nods as a light on the side blinks once red, then blue. "Wait for the blue light," he reiterates in case it wasn't clear, removing his mask and handing them out before he lightly punches a big red button that looks like it might launch some nuclear missiles, opening up the floor once more.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug lets out a slow whistle. "Stagger onward rejoicing; And even then if, perhaps having actually got to the last col, you collapse with all Atlantis shining below you yet you cannot descend, you should still be proud even to have been allowed just to peep at Atlantis in a poetic vision: give thanks and lie down in peace, having seen your salvation."

He recites the poem from memory, and then reaches out to take the mask. He casually sheds his shirt and shorts, leaving himself in a robin's-egg blue bathing suit. He takes one of the masks in hand, and then puts it on and activates it. He glances toward Julio. "Oh, he's just mainlining the geomagnetic energy of the earth, I think. I trained with someone with similar powers, and she used to get a little intense around volcanoes. He'll be OK, I think."

Julio Richter has posed:
When the majestic vista of Atlantis itself appears, Julio is overawed: he does a long, slow blink, followed by a quick bugging out of his eyes and a fractional shake of his head: the kind of motion that feels like it re-sockets your eyeballs in your skull. He takes his mask, slips it on, and presses the button, but also makes a little 'beep beep' mouth noise as the indicator lights come on and change color.

Bobby's cold-pack touch elicits a grin; "Oooh, that feels good," he says, his mouth falling into a loose, lopsided grin. "No es la gran cosa, Bobbito," he assures the teacher at his concerned question. "There's just... a /lot/. Down there." He points toward the rift at the core of the ridge, straight through the opaque hull and the ocean floor itself.

As Namor echoes the concern, he shakes his head and stretches his hands out in front of him, both to loosen his muscles and let off a shuddering vibratory pulse into the cabin air: nothing destructive or forceful, but definitely enough to be felt, like a gut-lurching hit from a nearby nightclub subwoofer. "Uy," he says with another laugh. "Those should be little pequeño waves. Got to bleed this off."

He holds up both fingers, one at Namor, and one at Doug. "I'll be OK but do NOT! Let me use my powers down here! I will have such a crudo."

Bobby Drake has posed:
When Douglas makes it a little more clear what's going on, Bobby seems to relax some, nodding, "Oh.. that makes sense." Then he nods to Julio and smiles a little crookedly, turning his attention to watch the approach of the city. It's breathtaking, really, and he can't do much more than stare at it in wonder. When you've seen a lot in your short life, it's still something to witness things that can fill you with a bit of awe and wonder. He just takes in the lights, the city, the palace as it approaches, a broad grin spreading across his features like a kid first seeing the castle of the Magic Kingdom rising in the distance. There's probably fewer rides here, though.

He lets his hand slip from Julio's head once they arrive to take his mask and affix it in place. He presses the button and waits for it to boop over to blue, and then makes to follow the others and their host.

Namor has posed:
Sure that he's not going to have to rapidly step in to avoid the drowning death of his guests, Namor nods once then drops through the open floor and into the ocean water beneath. As the masks enter the water they seem to /cling/ to the air within the transport, trapping it and bubbling it within the confines of the mask. Through some technological wizardry, carbon dioxide is filtered from the bubble and dumped into the ocean while fresh oxygen is brought in through some process akin to electrolysis, maintaining a fresh and breathable supply for the land dwellers. The alleviation of the crushing depths doesn't seem tied to the masks, and yet none of the three air breathers have their organs liquified the moment they enter the water. Despite the isolationist nature of the Empire, it seems some accommodations have been made in the time since Atlantis was first rediscovered by the outside world.

"Follow me," Namor tells his visitors as he leads them through the hangar and into the halls of the palace, past numerous doors and down expansive, wide corridors. More than once they're passed by or pass a native, blue-skinned Atlantean, and every time they pause to offer an odd sort of mingled bow and salute that is only possible due to the weightless nature of being surrounded by water. The King himself seems long immunized to these encounters, largely ignoring them as if the halls are completely empty save for the odd group following at his heels.

In time, they stop at a simple looking door and pass through into the room beyond. As he crosses the threshold of the doorway, Namor abruptly drops to stand on the floor as if gravity suddenly remembered it was supposed to be working today. Clearly this particular room has been cleared of water, and the door itself acts as some sort of airlock. The Emperor of the Deep wastes no time in approaching a table in the middle of the room, ignoring the handful of desks scattered about and the vast array of idle screens on the walls. On the table rests a tablet of undeniably ancient origin, and beside it a scepter that remains nearly fully encased in sedimentary rock.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
    Doug tilts his head at Julio, and asks, curiously, "Julio, do you have any curanderas in your family tree?"

Then the speedo-clad Mutant makes a neat dive into the water and begins to swim with Boy Scout-practiced skill, torpedoing through the water with strong kicks of his legs and powerful strokes of his arms. "He'd let us in... knows where we've been... la la la la-la-la..."

He watches a long, ribbony oarfish swim by, and tracks it, before he espies a group of merfolk swimming by, and blows out a cloud of amazed bubbles. Blurble!

When they reach the oxygenated chamber, he stands near the doorway and drips, waiting for Namor to call them forward. He almost seems to be disappointed to be out of the water.

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby had not perhaps considered they'd be going from the ship directly into the water when he'd made his clothing choices, but all he does is tug off his sneakers and jeans, leaving him in his swim trunks beneath, tucking them into his waterproof pack. Then, he drops into the water along with everyone else. He takes everything in with a kind of unabashed awe as they make their way past the people and sights. If he had an underwater camera one could almost imagine him stopping to take pictures of everything. Instead, he just tries to commit it all to memory, realizing that he's falling behind only after a moment. He hurries to catch up, moving easily through the water and coming to a stop inside the room with air, pushing his hair back from his eyes and dripping in the doorway for a moment along with the others.

"I assume that's what we're here for you to work on," he nods toward the tablet on the table and then toward Doug. He moves a little further inside, then, staying a bit back from the table and just observing at a distance.

Julio Richter has posed:
"Not on my dad's side," Julio answers definitively. Then, with a note of speculation: "Maybe my mom's? Her family was kind of weird."

Then, a little bit flustered because everyone's taking their clothes off and he's just sitting there, he grabs his duffel and dives into the water to escape, moving just in Namor's wake. Before too long, however, he trails along behind even Bobby, attempting to return the elaborate submarine bows they're offered in kind.

He's coordinated and fit, so the attempts aren't physically clumsy so much as visually (and perhaps culturally) awkward. Also, he forgot to take his shirt and sandals off, so they and the bag he's lugging through the water provide considerable drag every time he tries to move.

When they shift into the air-filled room, he drops to the ground next to his sopping duffel bag and does a little dance out of the waterlogged sandals. While the others keep their distance out of respect for the Atlantean artifacts, Julio is just busy getting his shirt and sandals into the bag so he won't be quite so clumsy for their next swim.

Namor has posed:
No Atlantean would dare even giggle at a slightly awkward bow from a guest of the King, so Julio is spared any response more negative than a raised eyebrow to his attempts at returning the Atlantean gestures of respect for their monarch. In fact, he even receives a spare few polite smiles from the more tolerant staff members and attendants, though every guard plainly ignores the mutants presence.

Of course, there are no Atlanteans in the air-filled room they eventually arrive at besides the King himself who simply eyes the sodden, dripping trio with bemusement as they linger near the doorway. "Enter," he commands, gesturing for them to approach the table as he slides the tablet across it, turning it so it faces Douglas where ever he might be situated in the room. The scepter he eyes, then looks to Bobby and Julio before placing it nearer them. The tablet would seem entirely at home on the set of some sort of supernatural action-adventure movie. Time has not been entirely kind to the startlingly black stone, with cracks spider-webbing out from the edges and tracing in amongst the white runes chiseled from the surface. All around the writing a rough scene is depicted in crude etchings. Near the top of the tablet, some sort of holy Deity accompanied by an army of angelic beings bears a trident and seems to be striking downwards. As the scene progresses downwards, the hopeful imagery transitions into a battle with monstrous forces then further until it is a dark, mirror image of the upper portion, with horrific beasts flowing up to meet their enemy, driven onward by something that is depicted only as a horrible pair of eyes.

"These artifacts were recovered off the Eastern coast of the United States, undoubtedly not their origin," Namor explains as he points to the Deific figure at the top of the tablet, "Father Neptune battling forces of evil on a pre-Cataclysmic tablet discovered shortly after our patrols started disappearing? Only to discover that they were slain at the hands of a displaced horde of Lurker in the Deep?" The King shakes his head, "Too many coincidences. We /must/ discover the contents of this tablet, and..." He points to the scepter, "The purposes of the relic found with it." With that he looks up to Douglas, Bobby, and Julio in turn, frowning deeply, "Atlantis is counting on it."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"You know what's funny," Doug says, "Is that there are stories where the emblematic weapon of Pre-cataclysm Atlantis wasn't a trident at all," Doug says, as he approaches the tablet, "It was an axe." Doug murmurs, "I've done a lot of reading of ancient documents nobody else has translated," He says. "Thurian Atlantis, King Kull - the Cataclysm caused by the Savage One."

He bends down to read the tablet, his hand over his mouth. He translates out loud, for the benefit of the audience.

Julio Richter has posed:
"Ooooh, druid stuff!" Julio enthuses, the grave tale and dire circumstances washing over him without eroding his pleasant, slightly befuddled mood. "I didn't know you'd have actual druid stuff for me to do." He approaches the scepter in its cage of stone, the shifting green tectonic aura snapping right back into place around him. He waggles his fingers, then taps them gently on the stone a few times. He has an expression like he's listening intently to something distant -- he's feeling the different materials in the rock and the scepter, noting their location within the stone, with particular attention to whether the scepter itself is intact. And, it must be noted: after his recent work with the Infinity Watch, he's learning to detect the presence of magic in earth.

"I really shouldn't start with the shakes here," he says, looking around the grand chamber. "Bobby, do you think you could do something to erode it free?"

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby listens to the tale as he looks over the tablet, taking in the imagery that is depicted there, between King Neptune and the creatures from below, as well as the eerie set of eyes. When the scepter is pushed toward them, he lets Julio take a look at it first, since earth is his element, and water is Bobby's. He hangs back, though he watches with interest. When Julio asks if he can do something to erode the scepter free he nods. "If you can give me a good idea of where I should do it, I can send water into the tiny cracks between the sedimentary rock and freeze it to make the cracks larger. I'd have to do it very carefully, and just a little at a time to make sure we're only cracking the rock and nothing trapped inside of it." But he could do it.

Namor has posed:
Namor watches Earth and Ice investigate the stone-encased scepter and discuss the potential and method for freeing it before he turns his focus on Brains. "You know much for a non-Atlantean," Namor concedes as he reaches over to point more directly at the trident, "My historians suppose this comes from a time directly leading up to the Cataclysm itself." When Douglas begins translating, Namor is at first skeptical that the mutant was able to work so quickly to decode something that his brightest could not, but as more of the tablet is read, it becomes undeniable that the words are not being invented.

The tablet is a warning written by the King's scribe, but it is framed as a tale of woe, destruction, and bravery. It tells of a series of disasters that began to strike Atlantis in the days before it sank beneath the waves, detailing the great death toll inflicted by the unnatural events. At first the people blamed the gods, but the priests consulted their wisdom and sought communion with their patrons and concluded that what threatened them was no act of retribution. The King sought answers and hired a group of nine heroes to investigate, but months passed and none returned. Eventually the King himself took with him the finest Atlantean legions and left the city, seeking answers to the cause of the disasters. When the King finally returned, nine of the ten legions that went with him were destroyed, and the tenth was exhausted and bloodied. The King told a tale of discovery, that they learned the disasters were caused by a creature from the depths and nightmares. It churned the oceans and caused tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes with every movement. The legions fought and were joined by the forces of the gods to strike down this unholy monster, and in the end they were victorious only with the aid of Father Neptune himself who supposedly struck the final blow, driving the creature into the deepest depths of the ocean and sealing it away. The King returned with a scepter, declaring it the 'key' to their salvation should the creature ever escape its binds and come to trouble Atlantis again.

At the end of the tale, Namor looks pensive, watching Douglas with furrowed brow and careful but silent consideration.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Well," Doug says, tapping techno-organic fingers against his chin, "Bad news, it sounds like this creature - which sounds a lot like the Grecian Typhon - is shaking its way out of its bonds. Though Typhon and Echinda were a husband-and wife pair... mm." He shakes his head, and then turns to look at the scepter. "Key..."

He says, "People tend to assume ancient civilizations didn't understand metaphor, when the truth is, they very much did. But sometimes, they could be very literal." He glances over at Namor and muses, "Any vaults none of your ancestors have been able to open around here?"

Julio Richter has posed:
"Ooh, ooh!" Julio starts bouncing on the balls of his bare feet, hands hovering over the stone, grinning widely. "Magic! This metal stick is a magic stick! The metal is muy chido, too; it sounds great. I don't know the metal, but jesucristo it sounds... it sounds expensive. Here."

Without asking, he grabs Bobby's hand and moves it to the surface of the rock, tracing out the outline of the scepter with the other man's fingertips. "That's where the stick is. And that metal should be really tough, but also!"

He holds up his hands, and the disparate, shifting sections of his aura coalesce into a single, brilliant point of green light between them. He touches this light to the exposed tip of the rod, and it seems to stab into it like a thorn. In moments, snakelike vines of light have sprouted to twine around the rod, gripping it with more thorns, even passing down into the solid rock.

"That's a spell," he says, probably unnecessarily. "It makes the rod even more tough than before, so you will have a harder time hurting it." It's taking all of Julio's weakened focus to be useful here -- and who even knows how his spell is going to work -- but he does catch a sentence or two of Doug's tale, and says, "The stick magic is strong and old but it doesn't feel like a weapon. A key, though... it could be a key."

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby smiles a little bit crookedly at Julio's enthusiasm and blinks a bit when his hand is grabbed and set on the surface of the rock, but then smiles again quickly, nodding as Julio explains and casts his spell over the scepter itself, to help insulate it with strength from what he is about to do to the stone. He finds those little cracks that Julio points out, and carefully begins to manifest water from the moisture around them. It's incredibly easy to do down here. The water slips between the cracks and then once he has it, he begins to freeze it, dropping the temperature around his fingertips as he touches the water here and there.

There's the cracking sort of sound that one might hear as ice cubes begin to crack in a glass of water. The cracking is quiet, subtle, but as it continues, cracks and fissures begin to become more prominent at the surface of the rock, and bits begin to crumble away, falling in a small pile of rubble. A couple of larger pieces break off and Bobby has to stop to catch them so they don't damage the table when they fall. It takes some time while Doug is going over the tale. "I think we can get this out and clean it up real nice. It's just going to take me a little bit longer." Since -- ancient artifact. He's being as careful as he can be with it, spells or no spells.

Namor has posed:
"None," Namor answers Douglas with solemn severity as he grimaces at the tablet and the scepter, fully aware of what that implies. After a pause, and an update from Bobby and Julio, he nods and seems to collect his royal bearing. "Very well," he continues with a bit more presence than before, looking to each in turn, "Continue with your work." He gestures to a panel on the wall behind them that, despite the fact that it's Atlantean tech, looks like it might very well be an apartment intercom. "Decipher what you can. We need clues to where this key fits. Clues to what this creature is, or if it is indeed the Typhon as you suggest. Get that scepter free. If you need any assistance, call for it. I will have anything you need to solve this mystery brought to you." He moves out from behind the table and gestures to a door near the back of the room, "Your quarters are through there. You are free to go anywhere in the Palace, but for your own safety, do not leave the grounds." Onwards he continues towards the door that leads back out to the hallway, never pausing even as he continues to inform them as to the details of their stay, "I'll have your companions brought here when they arrive. Solve this mystery for Atlantis and I will see to your transportation home." Finally the King stops at the doorway, looking back to them one last time with an expression that seems to both implore and threaten, but he offers no further words before he steps out into the water and swims out of sight.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Oh, I can decipher all of it." Doug says, continuing to read. "And give you a translation key into Modern Atlantean for when you run into this again." He bends down to start reading again, before he looks up to Namor, and then he says, "He seems a little bit brittle, but I can't help but like him. I guess that's le charisme du roi." He looks up and says, "I don't suppose you've got a pen and a notebook around here anywhere - or whatever Atlanteans use instead?"

Then he leans in again, and continues to read.

Julio Richter has posed:
Julio grins as Bobby's ice cracks away the rock around the shielded scepter. "Bonitoooooooo," he says, his voice a little spacey. One of the rocks that tumbles toward the table, and looks like it might slip past Bobby, he reaches out and halts with a mental command. It hovers above the tabletop for only a moment before Iceman catches it, and then Julio stares at his fingertips. "Espere -- I can do that?" he mutters, swaying slightly in place. Once the rod is free of the rock, he unravels the spell, which dissipates back into his tectonic mutant aura, giving him an intoxicating hit of rift energy all over again. "Whoooo. Necesito... I need to lie down." He takes a few steps away, then whirls around and grins, wide-eyed. "Or we could go dancing!"

Bobby Drake has posed:
Bobby looks up and over at Namor when he proclaims that if they solve the mystery, he'll see them home. A small smile tugs at the edges of his lips, but he nods and says, "We'll be able to free this for you, no problem." And Douglas can do the translating. They seem to be off to at least a good start with both of those tasks. He nods when their quarters are pointed out, making note. Then he returns to what he is doing with the scepter, continuing to make little chunks of rock fall in soggy went dirt and stone beneath the scepter.

He grins a little when Julio stops the rock from falling just before he catches it. "Apparently you can," Bobby says. "Weren't we supposed to keep you from using your powers down here, though?" he teases just a little bit. But no quakes have started up, so he isn't all that concerned, at least not for the moment.

Finally the rod comes free of the stone, only a few small bits remaining to be power-washed off. He sets it down carefully on the table, leaving the mess with it; surely Namor has people for that, and turns his attention on Julio.

"Easy there, cowboy. While I'll never say no to dancing with you, maybe a little lie down wouldn't be a bad idea to start with, at least until some of that energy dissipates." He grins, resting one steadying hand on Julio's arm.