Always fun to share the Clyde/Gregorio scenes. That old gnome doesn’t get enough page time due to his reclusive nature, so it’s a rare treat. Here’s one from War of Nytefall: Lost.
Clyde stops when he comes to the gaping entrance of Gregorio Roman’s lair, which is fringed by glowing mushrooms. Thinking he is at the wrong location, the vampire does a handstand and covers his right eye to see through a complicated illusion that he has not had to check for in centuries. A message telling him that he is not lost appears above a ledge where a mountain lion is tending to her cub. The words vanish as soon as Clyde rolls back to his feet and walks into the home of his eccentric maker. He feels a ticklish sensation run along his veins until he reaches the top of a stairwell, which he gingerly tests with a foot. Finding no illusions, he shrugs and continues on at as slow a pace as his impatience allows. Expecting his steps to be interrupted by a slide, the vampire is unnerved at the sight of Gregorio’s lab abruptly looming out of the darkness. The disorienting effect gives Clyde a headache and he is barely able to notice the frail, old gnome standing amid the collection of long tables. The inventor stands with his arms behind his back, the stance causing his simple robe to open a little at the front. Due to spending years in his sunless lair, he keeps a pair of tinted goggles on top of his bald head in case he has to go outside.
“What happened to the security, old fang?” Clyde asks, his maker’s silence making him uncomfortable. He takes a few more steps into the room and checks for illusions, but continues to find nothing suspicious. “For that matter, where are all the new turns who are supposed to be training here? I know you’re probably annoyed that I’ve only talked through portals instead of visiting for the last year, but I’ve been busy. That’s why I brought a box of vanilla beans, which you said you wanted to try. Mind saying something, old fang? Do I have to remind you that I’m Clyde? Thought you were over these games where you guilt me into something. Bet you wouldn’t do this if it was Nadia. By the way, I still don’t know how you’re managing to remain neutral during this war.”
Seeing Gregorio open his arms wide for a hug, Clyde sighs and goes in for a friendly embrace. He is halfway to the gnome when the floor sinks beneath his feet and every table collapses like they are flimsy extensions of the ground. As if he is standing on a large tarp that has been stretched over a chasm, the vampire plummets with the stone-colored fabric folding around him. Struggling to escape, he repeatedly bangs into the walls of what he assumes is a long shaft. The blows are not enough to tear the fake floor, which gently ties itself off at the top to trap the growling Dawn Fang. Making sure to use only a fraction of his strength, Clyde tries to punch his way out and curses at how it feels like he has struck solid stone. He is about to strike with all of his power when he hits the beginning of a slide and he chaotically rolls along for a few minutes before getting launched off a ramp. He hits the ceiling, which is sticky enough to catch the fabric and hold it in place. The tarp billows up to release the vampire, who falls into a pool of warm water that is similar to a hot spring, but smells of vanilla. Standing up, Clyde hears a few screams and looks around to notice five Dawn Fangs who were bathing before his surprising entrance. He ignores their terrified expressions and heads for a door, which swings open before he can touch the handle.
“What do you think of my new security system?” Gregorio asks, handing his favorite son a towel. He turns on his booted heels to lead the way into his busy lair, which is filled with hard-working Dawn Fangs. “The mushrooms were created by a young man who can make a variety of fungi with different functions. If put around an entrance, they make it visible to a vampire and hide it from mortals. The fake floor was a creation of the halfling over there, but she’s trying to find a way to make it more durable. For now, her fabric alterations make for some interesting traps. You might be wondering why you couldn’t see through the fake me. It wasn’t an illusion, but a projection of the real me from all the way down here. Dawn Fang twins did that with one hiding in an alcove upstairs and the other in the lair. Rather surprised they got the drop on you, my son. I’m going to miss having so many people here, but I guess times were bound to change on me again.”
“I heard that makers wanted to train their own turns,” Clyde mentions as he waves to the curious students. Several of them are already packing for their trip to Nytefall, their excitement filling the air with energy. “I’m sure you’ll get a few students from time to time. Part of the problem might be you claiming neutrality in the war with Xavier. Many think that’s worse than picking a side, so they want to distance themselves. At the very least, they expect you to be attacked one day and that would cost them their turns.”
“As if I could pick between my son and daughter,” the gnome admits with a half-hearted smile. He takes a seat next to a spinning lantern that he lazily tinkers with until one of the frozen flames changes from yellow to blue. “You know my stance on this whole civil war. I warned you it was possible and told you to finish it quickly even if it meant going against your desire to have some childish fun. Now, we’re nearing two decades of battles, which worries me. An extended conflict increases the chance of the Dawn Fangs being exposed and that poses a danger to both species. Don’t think I’m blaming you entirely though. Xavier and Nadia put up those wards around Nyte, which makes this a bigger mess. Anyway, I doubt you came here for an old man’s lecture. What’s on your mind?”
“I’d rather talk about this in private.”
“Doubting your leadership abilities, problems with Mab, or something that requires ointment?”
“Yes, I think I cleared that hurdle, and that joke still isn’t funny.”
“Be thankful it’s still a joke.”