The Vitruvian Wizard: Part Seven
Galloway's directions, vague as they were, turned out to be all they needed. The Brightvale carriage dropped Septimus just outside the Woods at Berkshire Glen. No carriages would travel inside the Haunted Woods, aside from those heading to Neovia.
As a result, Septimus had to trek the rest of the way on foot – including a trip through the swamp. Anyone else would have been sodden by the time the tower came into view, but Septimus was a skilled enough wizard to think ahead with enchantments to keep him dry.
"Now that," Viktor considered, "that is an evil tower."
It was a complete contrast to Galloway's tower of ivory, but almost identical in size. This one had been constructed of a stone that seemed be almost black in colour. It stuck out of the swamp like an ancient monolith, enchanted somehow as to not sink into the murky depths that surrounded it. The moon illuminated turrets on the top of the structure, and there was a light burning in the topmost room.
"I dreamed of retiring to a place like this," Viktor said wistfully as Septimus carried them towards the door.
The Nimmo knocked once and waited as the noise echoed around the innards of the building. As with Galloway's tower, the door opened inwards of its own accord, but this time it was accompanied by a sinister disembodied voice.
If Viktor still had his hands he would have been clapping them in excitement.
"He's such a professional!" he cried. "Spooky tower, booming disembodied voice at the entrance... I bet the candles in the wall brackets light themselves when we go inside!"
They did. There was even a suitably spooky whooshing sound to accompany it. The winding staircase led them up just at it had done in the previous tower. This time there were no rooms lower down the tower – whatever Lombardo did, he did it exclusively at the peak.
"Welcome," the voice greeted them from the shadows as they reached the top floor.
A few more candles burst into light, revealing the speaker sat on a gothic stone throne at the far end of the room.
He was, in Septimus's opinion, what Doctor Manzazuu thought he looked like – a dark, brooding, sinister wizard. Every part the Necromancer.
He was a Darigan Blumaroo, and sat hunched in his throne, his black cape all but covering the finely tailored dress shirt beneath.
"I have been expecting you," he added with a little evil smile.
"You... have?" Septimus asked.
"But of course!" Lombardo answered. "I see everything that crosses this swamp. I have been watching your approach for quite some time. What brings you to me, traveller? What evil do you wish for this night?"
In the window behind him, lightning flashed, and Septimus briefly wondered if that was part of his magic. Whatever he may have been thinking was abruptly stopped when Viktor spoke up.
"The very best kind of evil, old friend!"
On the throne, Lombardo cracked a thin smile.
"Viktor!?" he asked, holding out his hand.
Viktor's skull was dragged out of Septimus's hands by Lombardo's magic, and sailed straight across the room to the Blumaroo's waiting hands.
"It is you!" Lombardo laughed. "It has been far too long, Viktor! Still dead, I see?"
"Still ugly," Viktor countered.
"What brings you to my lair?" Lombardo asked.
"We were sent by Bromide Galloway," Septimus told him.
"That old coot?" Lombardo questioned. "Why?"
"I think you already know why," Septimus said. "There's only one reason Professor Galloway would send people to you."
"We're here about perpetual motion," Viktor added.
"Of course you are," Lombardo nodded. "You have been enticed by the same beauty as me, no doubt. I have looked into the heart of this universe... it was truly mesmerising."
Septimus had a flash of the eye he had seen when he turned his machine on.
"I looked into the heart of the universe as well," he answered. "But what I saw... was horrible."
Lombardo smiled. "Thornpipe thought the same. That's why I was removed from the Museum. A difference of opinion, you might say."
"We need to know how to turn the machine off," Septimus explained. "Professor Bromide seemed to be saying that you hadn't managed to do it yourself, but that's impossible. Wizards such as yourselves must have found a way, surely?"
"What?" Lombardo asked. "You must already know we didn't succeed in destroying the machine if you saw the creature? You must have been to the lighthouse?"
Septimus took off his backpack, and produced the still spinning machine. The bulb shone as bright as ever.
"We built our own," Septimus said. "From Professor Thornpipe's notes."
Lombardo was silent for a moment, before roughly throwing Viktor's skull across the room, back towards Septimus.
"What are you doing!?" Viktor demanded as he skidded to a halt.
"It's time for you to leave!" Lombardo boomed.
"But, we came for answers!" Septimus protested.
"No, you came with a death sentence!" Lombardo hissed. "All these years, and to have it thrown away... leave now!"
With that, he stood up from his stone throne, and Septimus felt the tinge of magic as he and Viktor were teleported away. The room blurred, and was replaced with the swamp, the dark tower in the distance.
"Do not return!" Lombardo's disembodied voice boomed.
Septimus fished the motion machine and Viktor from the swamp, putting the former back into his pack.
"Well that didn't go as expected," Viktor commented. "He was fine until you pulled out your machine. Why was that so special?"
"I don't know, but I think I know where we'll find our answers," Septimus said. "WE gave us a clue as to where they hid their version of the machine. The one that's still running."
"A lighthouse?" Viktor asked. "How many lighthouses are there in Neopia? Doesn't exactly narrow it down."
"No, it does," Septimus answered. "They were all working at the Museum when they developed the machine. Thornpipe, Galloway and Lombardo didn't leave until after – the machine must still be in Neopia Central."
"There's only one lighthouse in Neopia Central," Viktor supplied. "The one in the docks!"
Manzazuu stared at the papers on his desk, glumly looking at the figures in the hope they would somehow rearrange and provide a solution.
"It's no good," he sighed at last. "There's just no way."
"What's the matter?" Rasputin asked, drifting over from the corner.
"Professor Bungle sent me the report before he popped out for the night," Manzazuu explained. "Construction of the device to siphon off the Gap's excess energy has been finished. Now we just need something to siphon it into – but that's the problem. We don't have anything that can hold that much power, and I don't think we can construct it either. Power like that needs conscious direction to properly contain."
"You mean a living vessel," Rasputin clarified.
"But that much power would kill any normal Neopet," Manzazuu added. "There's just... no way."
Rasputin brightened slightly, "You know what you need? A distraction. Something to take your mind off it – might help you think clearer."
"Like what?" Manzazuu asked.
Rasputin smiled, "Follow me."
The ghost led the Wocky through the corridors of the department, stopping periodically to wait for him to open the doors that Rasputin had been able to just drift through.
Eventually Rasputin stopped at a disused stationary cupboard that Manzazuu opened. A pile of bones spilled out into the corridor.
"What's this?" Manzazuu asked, stepping away.
"After we got back I asked the Museum janitors to run a few... errands around the city," Rasputin explained.
"These are Viktor's bones, aren't they?" Manzazuu said.
Rasputin nodded enthusiastically, "I've located them all – the entire skeleton. All except one. His skull. The next time we do the spell, it will lead us directly to Viktor."
"If Bungle finds out we are doing this on Museum time, our heads will roll," Manzazuu pointed out.
"You said he's gone out of the night," Rasputin countered. "He'll never know."
Manzazuu shared Rasputin's smile, and reached for the rib-pen. Once more he cast the locating charm on it, and watched it spin in his hand until it settled pointing west.
"There he is," Manzazuu said with relief. "At last!"
The rib-pen wiggled slightly, adjusting the angle at which it was pointing.
"What was that?" Rasputin asked.
"He's... moving," Manzazuu answered.
Rasputin motioned to the map of Neopia Central he had stored along with the bones, and Manzazuu hovered the rib-pen above it as he had done to pinpoint the location of the spinal chord on the hospital.
He let it drop again, and was surprised to see it veer off the map, impaling itself in the stone floor to the south west of the city.
"That's the Haunted Woods," Rasputin said, filling in the map in his mind. "Suits him, I guess, but what has he been doing there?"
The rib-pen was gradually scoring across the stone, moving as the real life Viktor moved across the face of the planet.
Manzazuu traced back the line.
"He's heading back towards the city, I think," he concluded. "This must be the Haunted Woods road."
Rasputin smiled widely, "He's coming back home!"
"Under his own steam?" Manzazuu questioned. "Seems doubtful, seeing as his leg bones are in that pile over there. No, whoever stole him is coming back to the city, and bringing him with them."
Manzazuu stood up straight. "I need a big bag."
"We're taking these bones with us," Manzazuu answered. "We're going to find whoever stole him, and give him a piece of our minds."
He let a little green energy crackle between his fingertips before adding, "And our magic."
To be continued...