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The cage appears to be made of interwoven lengths of thin metal bar, around a quarter inch in width. It forms a grid that leaves spaces of around 3”x3”.

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“Now. I believe I can get you out of here, and I would see you free if I can afford the consequences. What are these dusties? What are they likely to do if they found you’ve fled with me?”

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“They’re neither the worst nor the least worst sort of men to have as enemies in The Hive.  The dustmen is what their order call themselves.   Almost everybody deals with them occasionally and they'll readily deal with anybody.  They’ve got a thing for corpses.”  He does a small head shake.  “No relation to me, mind you.  They just… have some portion of the necromantic side of the Art figured out.  They make vessels - take the deaders that’ve died in tavern fights or from palsy - and they have a way of making them move again, like this sheila here.  Can’t do much, but can work endlessly at a simple task.  Most of them break down after a year or so, and then they’re good for nothing but the furnace.  And sometimes they’re even able to get information out of the corpses, memories and secrets too, but it’s a crapshoot.  

"Anyway, you make your face well known here as an enemy, and just maybe you’ll have a few men with knives in the dark to deal with.”

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He nods. “And the sorcerer you’re bound to?”

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“They have the power to compel me.  And I presume the ability to find me if they want.”

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“How long has it been since you traveled with him? And what circle of wizard is he?”

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He looks somewhat sheepish.  “Err.  Part of my binding is a rule that says I speak no distinguishing features about them except to those who already know.  That includes the information regarding the last time I traveled with them.”

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"Really?” He raises an eyebrow. “Those precautions sound… thorough. Your master must be a threatening adversary."

In his understanding of the Art, the creation of a compulsory mental or behavioral binding is costly and difficult in proportion to the cleverness and the stubbornness of the target. Morte gives the impression of being quite well endowed in both attributes.

He faces a dangerous choice. If his coming across Morte in this place was by chance, then it is far too good an opportunity to pass up. If this meeting were orchestrated by an ally, then chances are high he'll meet that ally shortly and be able to confirm that his arrival in this basement was part of the plan. If orchestrated by a foe, then he should rely upon this mimir as little as possible for as short a time as possible, only until he gains enough coin and knowledge to strike out safely on his own. Though, in that scenario there is value in learning what he can of his adversary through Morte.

Ugh.

He groans inwardly. The thought of trying in his present state to pump Morte for information while conveying a false picture of his own intentions and knowledge in order to create misdirection and to lay a trap sounds difficult enough to make his head ache.

But laying it out like that, the correct choice is clear.

"Then here’s my proposition. We escape together and you travel with me for a span of seven days. You answer truthfully all of the questions I put to you, and you don’t act against my interests as you understand them. If I act in any way that threatens your interests, you tell me promptly. What say you to these terms?”

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The Nameless One feels an itching sensation under his robe about the shoulders and back of the neck.

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“Best escape offer I’ve heard today. Count me in.

But if you’re going to do it it’s better now than later. We’re well after dawn already and there’ll be a breakfast bell sooner or later and then this place will be crawling with dusties.”

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He nods. ”Once I begin we may not have time to speak further. First, tell me about your capacity for movement.

Can you change your height? Can you lift weight? Can you fly? Can you scale a fence or wall?"

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“Fly? No.  And no one is going to be riding me anywhere if they want to keep their fingers.

"My binding keeps me at about this height.  I can change it slightly”, he demonstrates.  “It's like jumping, I guess, but I can do it either upwards or downwards.  I can manage my way on stairs but need to be carried to get over a wall."

He pauses.  "Anything else?  I weigh about twelve stone."

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"And what's the best way out of here?"

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“Way I came in is the cargo platform in that corner.  It’s noisy as hell though.  Haven’t been up the staircase yonder.”

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He works his hand through the cage at about chest level, palm upwards, and brings his torso flush with the bars. He lowers into a squat and prepares to drive his body upwards, forcing the horizontal piece of bar with it. He takes a deep breath and pushes.

How does it go?

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The bar starts to bend upwards.  Given his strength, if he’s willing to bruise his palm a bit he can detach the horizontal spur from its adjacent vertical pieces and drive it upwards until it meets the next span above.  This will give him a new rectangular-ish space of around 3”x6”, and deform the adjacent links a bit to boot.

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He uses the sleeves of his robe to alleviate the pressure on his bare palm and repeats the same procedure for the 3 horizontal spans to either side of that one. And then he starts working his way above and below that bar to make a Morte-sized hole.

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It’s going to take ten minutes or so, but it proceeds uneventfully.  

The last few were pretty easy as this horizontal span has largely separated from the vertical pieces.  Evidently this structure was not built to contain a large athletic male.

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"Can you pass this?"

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With The Nameless One holding his robe against the jagged bars to soften the passage, Morte is able to squeeze through.

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"Stay close behind me and do not speak unless you have to."

He draws the robe's hood over his head and pulls it forward, shading his face. Then he walks back to the wall cupboard and draws forth a set of rags to tie around his head underneath the hood, hiding everything below the line of his eyes.

Then he pulls his robe's belt tight and makes for the staircase.

He is feeling the time pressure now, almost palpably.

The different impressions he's experienced since waking are beginning to coalesce and to point inevitably towards two conclusions: First, that he was until recently a powerful actor in the world, and second, that his agency has been dealt a crippling blow by someone or something.

From that it follows that his current entrapment within an unknown basement, urgent as it is, is not his largest concern. The greater threat is that someone has acted and is continuing to act against him, now with far greater knowledge than he has.

Where are they now? Maybe raiding a cache of his goods or slaughtering his extended family.

He poses the question to himself: If I look back at this time later, what is it that I will regret not having done?

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As he approaches the staircase, suddenly he feels the air chill around him.  He experiences the sensation of a muffling or muting, almost as if he is now hearing the sounds of his own footfalls from underwater.  What does he do in the next three seconds?

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Stop walking and raise his arms slightly, preparing to defend against any incoming blow.

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Before him, the form of a spectral woman emerges from the doorway to the stairs.  She is leaning forward, at an angle, as if standing on a surface aligned at a tilt from the floor, and her body appears to terminate abruptly below the shoulders in a perfectly vertical plane.  Her shoulders are bare, and she wears a gown of some kind.  She looks like a courtesan.

Her image is translucent, tinged blue, and she wears an expression of deep grief.

To Morte’s eyes, The Nameless One stops suddenly in his movements and stares at the doorway in alarm.  There is no woman present.

The spirit speaks, "Is it only now that you have found your way back, my love?"

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He stops abruptly and regards her, his hands contracting a fraction as if in readiness to swing a fist. "Greetings. Do you know me, spirit?"

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