|Cast of Characters|
|Lady Vivian Monaghan||human cleric/rogue||Rachael H.|
with Felix his pseudodragon familiar
|dwarf wizard||Emily M.|
|Zera||human psion/wizard||Eric L.|
|Saigo (Sai)||ashlan swashbuckler||Sarah B.|
Watigini Kha Chikuk
with Chinn’ik the dire tortoise
|bhuka druid||Michael B.|
Metrum is the city below on the third level, and Lady Monaghan’s sister’s efforts have left it drained of energy around a mile radius…all mechanics are down, the fifteen levels of air traffic are down, air lifts are down, anti-gravity is down…Oedipus and Watigini are on the edges of it, as all have been called in to assist with cleanup and figuring out what went on.
Emilio and Zera vamp down to the Eiganjo world and rejoin Lady Monaghan and Sai. Skyler remains behind to train and atone himself. They fly down to level number three in an invisibility sphere. They all hold hands…ish. Some people don’t like touching each other. They go through the hold in the bedrock created by Lady Monaghan’s sister. As they descend, the walls are completely smooth. When they break through, there is a giant plain of shining crystal, metal, and glass all stretched out below them in a city. There’s lots of traffic, the congestion of flying machines and other things. They sense magic, but not what they’re used to. It suffuses the air and is very distracting. The ground is not really the ground, but the city is really high and filled with all kinds of strange races. What they thought was the ground is actually a layer of fog, and when they go through they see it keeps going down. The Lady insists on going all the way down. It’s rather dirty, what with all the people and flying objects.
Oedipus and Watigini hear bickering in the air. Watigini is a small goblinoid with ruffled red hair and blue tattoos riding on the back of a large turtle, and Oedipus is a distinguished looking dwarf in furs with a big furry hat. Sai debates about the tattoos and the turtle while Lady Monaghan motions them to find privacy. Oedipus points out that the voices are coming from right here (pointing at the invisibility sphere). Lady Monaghan tries to drag Emilio off, but Zera holds on. Oedipus and Watigini have walked up towards them with their hands out, Watigini saying hello. Watigini casts true seeing on himself and sees the four: Lady Monaghan in her noble clothes and shiny jingly earrings, Zera in his mask made out of dire weasel hide, Sai with no hair and covered in swirling tattoos (who quickly disappears), and Emilio with blue robes and a fez. Zera notices that they have been seen and casts glitterdust and runs off. Oedipus is unhappy about being covered in sparklies. Lady Monaghan and Emilio confront Oedipus and Watigini. Lady Monaghan asks who they are and why they were eavesdropping. Oedipus says he is from Gar, which is in the land of the living. Lady Monaghan says she is not dead, as she has a pulse. Oedipus asks what a pulse is. Oedipus thinks that Watigini is his spirit guide. Zera keeps talking in Emilio’s ear: “Is it safe? Is it safe?” He and Sai de-cloak. Oedipus calls Zera sparkler; Sai calls Oedipus fuzzy one. Sai climbs up on the back of the turtle: “Whee!”
Oedipus and Watigini are on “clean-up detail.” They discuss the relative “safety” of their position and debate on what an inn is. Breaking from the clouds above them are three small floating metallic objects beeping and blooping towards them. Watigini says that they are the people in charge. A text message reads, “Please report to your assigned station.” They follow Oedipus and Watigini off: “We’re headed toward what they’re calling The Flare.” They tell them that they came through a hole in the sky which corresponds with this Flare. Watigini describes the energy field around the city; the Flare is a dead area. Zera says something intelligent, and Watigini calls him squirrelly but smart; Zera takes it as a compliment. Lady Monaghan calls him a weasel, and he takes that as a compliment too. Emilio tries to explain the layers that they have come through. Watigini thinks they are crazy.
It feels like the magic is going up a drain somewhere. Zera and Sai loot bodies. They don’t know what is valuable and what is not, though. Lady Monaghan and Emilio groan. Oedipus picks up rocks and tosses them; Watigini changes into a turtle and helps his turtle. Zera changes into a gold dragon and works as well. Oedipus argues with Emilio about dwarfishness and anti-elfism, not understanding a dwarf that uses magic and lived with elves. Sai asks Oedipus if he wants a tattoo. Lady Monaghan wanders away. Watigini sees movement among the wreckage. In a small metal cavity is a wormlike creature with one arm, two tail-like appendages, and a long head. It looks like one of the wisps they talked to in Eiganjo: a sliver. It recognizes the tattoos on Watigini and looks afraid. It’s about the size of a large goat. It’s from where Watigini is from. He picks it up and carries it someplace else. They notice black drops of oil running down the sides of the building and pools flooding out from underneath wreckage and pooling up in the shapes of persons. A crowd of about thirty of them flick in to an image of people (Grenfir and others that they recognize) and then revert back to oil pools. They are the simplest forms of forms, like the wisps were the simplest form of minds. They are waiting for direction. Zera and Watigini examine them closer. Watigini pokes a sliver one; it stabilizes into that form and looks at him and clicks and hisses. It has hard plates along its back, and the one he has with him looks a bit tougher. When he walks away, it turns back. Zera pokes the one who turned into Grenfir: “Who are you?”
“Who am I?”
“If you were who you were, you would know who I am, you bastard.”
“Are you light are dark…who is this one, what form do I wear?”
“Grenfir, who I’m hunting for vengeance.”
“Why do I wear this form?”
A complex discussion continues. “This one searches. We search for the (w)hole. Are you a (w)hole? Are you the light or the dark?” Zera says he is of the light, and the forms flicker more rapidly.
Sai approaches his sister. “Who are you? Are you of the light or the dark? You smell so strange. You smell old…there’s a great age to you. You also smell like an end. Is this one an end? Who is this? What form is this?”
“It’s my sister.”
“What is sister?”
“Someone you love.”
“What is love?”
“Are you of the light or dark?”
“I am of the dark.” Something quivers, and she steps back and reverts.
Watigini messes with the other bhuka next. “Who are you? Are you of the light or the dark?”
“You should know, I’m the son.”
“Of the sun? Then you’re of the light. Are you one to fill or one to break? You smell of hope. He’s of the light.” They are constantly flicking, and none of them stay the same anymore.
Zera concentrates on his brother: “You are the light?”
“Would you believe me if I said I was of the twilight? Neither and both?”
“I think we have been searching for such as you. Those of neither and both are (w)holes. We search for (w)holes. We have found someone who also searches. She has come with us.” It switches into Lady Monaghan.
Felix reports in: “Boss…I don’t know where I am…can you come and get me? I thought it was you, but then you melted, and so did the Lady.” They hear a rumbling, and coming is a rather large sort of mechanical creature or suit with six legs four on the ground and two up against the chest. Watigini know that this is bad, something from the top. The turtle steps into the middle of the center, and the other turtle melts down and flows underneath it. Watigini says to run. The others also start flowing down except for the innermost row. Soon they are standing in a solid circle of blackness. They try to run, but the world that they are seeing and the world that they are in don’t exactly line up. The ones on the outside melt and form a wall around and above, and they feel like they are moving downwards.
The feeling of motion suddenly comes to a halt. The blackness around them gradually brightens into a semi-dark area as the creatures melt away and flow into the floor. They are in a sizable cavern with some natural lighting from phosphorous on the walls. Lady Monaghan is there, and she casts light on a coin. There is still a saturation of magic. Emilio darns the hated rocks. There are veins of magic running through the rocks. Zera chips off a piece of the rock. The magic fades, but it is still present. The light doesn’t reach the ceiling, and there are three small crevices in the walls. Emilio hears nothing, which is odd in a cave. Others see gouges on the walls: clawmarks. Felix is sent through the largest tunnel. Along the big tunnel, the gouges are much more frequent and deeper. “Boss, there’s claw marks on the wall and it’s worn smooth…” Felix investigates another one: “It looks cleaner. Not your kind of clean…that requires bleach, but there is some odd stuff on the ground.” Zera goes in a retrieves a small black thing that rattles if he shakes it. Watigini also picks one up and smells it. It itches his nose. He feeds it to Chinn’ik. Felix crawls into the smallest cavern, and he grumbles that he has to walk. It gets wider after about twenty feet. They go in after Zera polymorphs the big tortoise into a smaller one. Chinn’ik is unhappy about it. It opens into a huge cavern with many stalagmites in it. There’s an uneasy feeling coming from the rocks. Zera fires a psionic energy ray at one. A large chunk of rock breaks off. Watigini pokes a rock, and they continue onward. Above them is a hole in the wall. Sai also sees a bundle of something. Sai pulls the shadows around him and moves towards it. He pokes the bag with his toe. Nothing happens. Sai picks the bag up. The bad feeling comes back. Inside are a scrollcase and some more of those rectangular objects that aren’t metal or wood or stone. There are also what look like small miniature pineapples.
They leave the room and find themselves in a much smaller chamber with a pool and water trickling down. Zera reads the scroll: “Devil, I prepared explosive runes this morning.” It explodes and sets off the rest, including the “pineapples.” Sai was holding one in his hand. Owww…Zera swears loudly in a variety of languages. Lady Monaghan heals. They bicker about picking up and reading strange things. Watigini hits Sai over the head with his staff. There’s a sound in the room that they left. The room they are in is a dead end, except for the pool. They reenter the room, and there’s been a bit of a change. The bad sense is gone, but where a rock was is now a depression with a pillar and a nasty scaly thing standing on it: a large troll wearing tattered clothing carrying a large battleaxe and looking pissed. It chucks a javelin at Watigini; Zera dismisses the polymorph on the tortoise. Lady Monaghan casts flame strike, and Sai shoots it. Emilio lobs an orb of acid at it. Watigini throws a reddish orange shiny gem; he says something in his native tongue, and a fire elemental pops up. Chinn’ik moves down into the ditch. The troll attacks the fire elemental. Emilio hears a teleporting spell coming in. Oedipus shoots at it, and his axe cries. Zera dazes it with an ego whip. Lady Monaghan moves out to heal and casts sanctuary on herself. Emilio fireballs it. Sai looks around for the noise. Watigini’s turtle and elemental attack. The troll staggers and becomes unconscious. Another rock disappears and is replaced by a larger thing surrounded by a larger hole. On top of it is a massive creature: a very large umberhulk. Sai goes “Ah!” and runs closer to that direction. Most people get confused. Oedipus attacks the nearest creature: Lady Monaghan. She has sanctuary, though. Zera mentally bulks himself up and changes himself into a dragon. He takes to the air. Lady Monaghan moves away from the crazy barbarian. Emilio is confused and flees back into the other room. Sai attacks the umberhulk and shoots it beautifully in the eye. The fire elemental sits on top of the troll and roasts it. Chinn’ik climbs out of the trench. Watigini casts a fireball on the umberhulk. Lady Monaghan hears the humming again. The umberhulk burrows furiously down. Oedipus attempts to attack the nearest creature, but he can’t, so he sits and babbles incoherently. Zera swoops down to get into the hole and breaths fire into it. Sai acts normally and moves over, waiting for the umberhulk to reappear. Emilio acts normally and has a panic attack (creepy pool with drain…rocks…). Watigini casts a spell to make Chinn’ik huge, and he burrows underground. It and the underhulk grapple underground.
Another rock reveals another troll. Fire elemental thinks “yum.” Zera flies over to Sai and casts magic circle against evil to purge the compulsion from his brain. Lady Monaghan flame strikes the other troll. The troll looks very unhappy. Sai moves out, shoots, and becomes confused again. Emilio has to attack the nearest creature and therefore moves out towards Lady Monaghan. Watigini fireballs and roasts the troll while Chinn’ik is engaged in mortal combat with the umberhulk. Zera goes over to protect Sai from the confusion and blasts another pillar. There are two angry dwarves next to Lady Monaghan. She pats Emilio on the head. Emilio babbles incoherently. Chinn’ik once again bites the umberhulk. Watigini makes thick sand swirl around the rock. The umberhulk tries to get back up to the surface. Sai attacks it with scimitars when it comes up. Oedipus attacks Emilio. Zera gets above it and chomps it. Sai swings at it again. Watigini casts stoneskin defensively and moves towards Lady Monaghan for healing. The turtle comes out and bites the umberhulk in the butt. The umberhulk goes after Sai and dragon Zera. Zera full attacks it and drops it as Lady Monaghan heals.
The humming starts up again, and the walls and floors get big holes in them. They run out and find themselves in a long passageway. They hear talking up ahead and see flickering light as a fire. Sai sneaks forward. Ahead is a much more regular cavern, smoothly cut and squared off. Around a fire is a group of fifteen individuals. The majority aren’t human. Several appear almost animal-people, others have strange tentacles or horns or colors. Sai comes out of the shadow and stands there, waiting to be noticed. He walks up towards them. They still don’t notice them. A humanoid female with a reptilian tint is walking around the fire. Sai whistles for the rest of them, and they start at the whistle. They draw their various weapons, and Sai holds up his hands.
The snake-woman turns to Sai: “Finally, the rest of our merry band has arrived. Damn lurkers took long enough.”
“We were fighting trolls.”
“You didn’t use the backpack?”
“What were we supposed to do with the pineapples?”
She turns and whispers to the bearish one behind her. Lady Monaghan comes in and takes the leadership position, and the reptilian woman addresses her.
“A little bit. For what?”
“The meeting. The lurkers did bring you, didn’t they?”
The black oily things do what they want them to. They want a revolution against the power, against the man! She breaks out into a diatribe against the man and shoots her gun up. Emilio ducks and covers. Lady Monaghan wonders about the “firecrackers.” Down here is the only place that is safe.
“What are guns?”
“Oh, you’re otherworlders.”
Watigini recognizes that the snake-woman didn’t use to be reptilian. “All of us have been wronged. Take that guy over there with the tentacle…it didn’t use to be there before. That’s science.”
“Is that what you call magic down here?”
“No, science.” The lurkers don’t talk to them. They don’t have much of a revolution. They talk about layers…” They continue the conversation and bring up Marduk, a name that they recognize. They call Grenfir, Sai’s sister, and Lady Monaghan’s sister acolytes of Marduk. Two in the background start singing “I’m a hippopotamus and I’ve got noodles on my back…” They open up the circle and invite them to join it, and she begins to explain her version.
“Once upon a time, everyone was happy and the world was flat. And on this world walked the gods. And it was good. However, soon these gods—because at this point there are more than one—begin bickering amongst themselves. One would say, ‘I don’t like this about you or the world,’ and they would go and change it. Gradually the gods fell to fighting. Not a good thing. One god by the name of Doven decided he was done dealing with all of this shit. And he had other issues. So, he made himself a retreat to remove himself from the situation (not fighting but stepping away). He informed all of his friends: Arabi and Lia were two; that he was leaving. They think he was joking. He says, ‘I’m leaving,’ but they just chuckle at him. One day the gods wake up and see that Doven is gone. More than just Doven has vanished. Part of the world is gone as well. Once where there was a flat expanse, now there is less than infinity. No one knew how Doven did it. The world changed. Suddenly all of the gods stopped fighting and tried to find the power that Doven was tapping into. They got jealous and started looking. Two of the strongest leaders of this search were Lia and Arabi, sun and moon goddesses. They wanted to know where Doven went. Then a pair disappeared: two almost grotesque creatures, alien to most of the other gods. The world was again lessened. After this first pair, another set disappeared: six or seven. The world contracted. It was beginning to get rather crowded. The rest of the gods disliked being constricted, so they put aside their differences for a great council. Should any of them uncover whatever had been done, they would share with everyone. Not everyone listened. Six more times gods vanished, and the world contracted until the only reason that the plane was infinite was because it curved around itself. The other gods didn’t know what to do. They began fighting, and the number of gods decreased. Finally they reached a consensus. Arabi and Lia were included, two of the more powerful. Then two new creatures appeared just as suddenly as the others had vanished. They were mirror opposites of each other and were reminiscent of Arabi and Lia; they each said they were messengers sent from Doven to provide council and aid. This pissed them off to no end. Who was he to think that they needed his council? Doven had begun styling himself the creator of the earth according to the messengers, which made the other gods mad. All of them had sprung up together at the same time; he wasn’t the creator. Each of them gave sharp words back to their messengers, and they left in a huff. The rest of the gods realized that something was odd, and they inquired of the messengers where they had come from. The messengers said that Doven has never left and has always been with them: ‘Until the light from the spheres pierces this entire plane, you will not understand where the creator has gone.’ They were unable to solve this riddle, so they gradually separated, each to their own favorite area. The two messengers began awaiting the return of their mistresses and of Doven. They had been told to remind those remaining that there would come a time of great tribulation, among these a conjunction. The gods couldn’t figure it out. In order to pass the time, they began creating the lesser races: humans, elves, dwarves, etc. The creations began learning things that their masters had yet to discover. One day, the creations got weary of living life in this simple world; they wanted the power of creation and destruction. Like most first attempts, they got it wrong. They built massive cities and structures and altered life to fit their needs. The gods enjoyed watching them. The people thought the gods were intimidated (the younger races were not very intelligent). Nations, wars, alterations to the face of the plane, magic discovered and lost; once in awhile a place on this plane would be worn so thin that it disappeared. After the first of the holes, the lesser races reflected on the messages given to them by Marduk and the other. Beneath them was a different plane in the image of different gods; they spread down to the lower level, and the first and second level were created in different images. More patches were worn through in the lower level and they found themselves in another empty plane, different from the first two, imbued with a strange energy. They did stuff with it, and the cycle repeated itself; the space of this infinite plane was filled with the lesser peoples. Something was always missing, though. None of these planes had any sort of gods. None of them had any of the missing deities. None of these planes contained Doven. The return will be cataclysmic and will change all. This is all a myth and fairytale.”
She tells them that Marduk looks like their description of the shadowy opposite. “He said he was Marduk!” The group argues a lot. They feel a sound, a very deep woofer sound. The cavern shakes. “It started happening ever since the burn. The flare.” They question them about “Marduk.” Silla is the reptilian woman’s name.
Lady Monaghan and Oedipus argue about leadership. Lady Monaghan: “No one else is capable of leading.” Sai “accidentally” elbows the Lady in the head and almost knocks her out. Black liquid starts flowing out of the walls. Zera creates an extradimensional space to sleep in. His spell resonates oddly. They discuss “robots” and “plastic” and “bombs” and “lasers.” Amusing confusion ensues. They learn that you “don’t throw the pin, throw the grenade.” Only Zera and Emilio sleep in the extradimensional space. The others sleep on the ground. Sai creates a little tattoo on Oedipus, the symbol of his tribe. The small rumbling quakes occur twice during the night. Oedipus to Watigini: “Spirit guide, are we going to do this?” Watigini: “Do you want to pick up garbage?” Silla walks onto the pool of gooey masses and hisses and clicks. The goo spreads out in pools around them. She wants to know what they want to do. Lady Monaghan suggests they go up on reconnaissance and then word-of-recall themselves or teleport back. She tells them to stand close together; Oedipus nearly stands on top of Emilio. The searchers sift up into humanoid form and then go all over them and suck them back up to the top. Lady Monaghan recognizes where they are: the center of the flare. Sai, Oedipus, and Watigini wave at something in the middle of the air. Lady Monaghan, Zera, and Emilio are confused. They make Chinn’ik invisible. There’s more rumbling, and the ground shifts a bit.
They leave the disaster area and get into the functional city. Lady Monaghan asks around for some information in a bad accent so as to look like a foreign traveler.
“Tall tower. Souvenir. Want find big rock.”
“Take a public lift up fifty floors. Ask up there. Go away. Don’t hurt us.”
They get in the public lift with a small mech. There is katamari music in the elevator. The mech suit pokes at the “turtle spot.” He thinks they are weird. They get to the mezzanine level, which is a platform, beneath which is a layer of clouds. There is a hallway to the right. There’s rumbling, and the building settles. Lady Monaghan, Emilio, Watigini, and Oedipus go to the right, and Sai and Zera go to the left. To the right is a large marketplace, a suspended open air market in midair. There are lots of sounds and smells. Katamari music plays in the background. Lady Monaghan gathers information and talks to people who can get them up. Senko tower, tallest in the city, is seven hundred or so layers up. “The end times are near, as Marduk itself has appeared to the leaders of Senko.” Senko is the biggest company and has lots of power; it makes mech suits, katamari games…the poor guy who is playing katamari is distracted by the Lady’s questions and doesn’t make the katamari big enough. His father comes out and yells at him. Lady Monaghan arranges to have Zera as a dragon fight a mech pilot in exchange for twenty five levels up.
Sai and Zera go off to sell the stuff they had looted from bodies. The path they chose is rather bare and deserted. It has strange blinking red lights. They go back to the right and get to the marketplace, where they dump all the stuff on the pawnshop table. The guy examines it. “Let me see your cards.”
“We’re tourists. We didn’t get cards because it was in the turmoil of the flair.”
“I can give you temp cards, good for about a week. You have to get a good card before it expires, though, or the money will go poof.”
Sai asks how many gold pieces it equals. The man hates tourists. He tells them very slowly about activating the thumb stamps. Sai flicks him off and walks away. The building shakes again, and it is a little more violent. Emilio goes to a music shop and checks out the music. The equivalent of 90’s pop is abhorring. He wanders back out. Lady Monaghan takes Zera back to the guy and says he is the one who can turn into a dragon. He wants to know where the mech pilot is. He’ll give them twelve floors for just a dragon. Watigini also offers to turn into something. Sai offers to make him a tattoo: he wants one of the king and the rainbow from the katamari game on his chest. That and the dragon are worth twenty four floors. Zera changes into things as Sai tattoos all over his body. A small crowd gathers to watch. Emilio finds the oldest music in the shop and compares it to what he had collected from their early trip underneath the city on the first level. This level’s music looks like child’s dribble. Sai completes the huge King of the Cosmos. Their connection says that will do and shifts the screen to compute something; then he goes back to katamari. Out comes a card that will get them up floors. Zera gets small square things tossed in his hat for his transformations. They all buy food, an odd version of curry. Then they go to the lift. Emilio hums the old little tune that he had transcribed. The buttons go from ten to seventy. Zera pushes the highest number, and a light blinks. When Lady Monaghan hits ten, they go down quickly. Then she hits thirty. Then seventy, but they get up to fifty and the light starts blinking. Sai grabs the card and puts it in front of the light, and it goes up. This elevator has Barber’s Adagio for Strings playing inside. There’s a ding, and people move in and out rather suddenly; then another ding, and it is quiet.
They go down a corridor, and it leads to another building. In the distance is the tip-top of a very tall building. It doesn’t seem as bright and shiny as the rest of them. It might even be a bit shadowy. The currents in the field are flowing a bit faster. They stop in front of one of the traffic flow spots, and Oedipus grabs someone: a human wearing a three piece set of clothing: “Let go of me, I’ll be late!” The door closes. “Oh no, I’m late. You pulled me out of my very, very important routine because you’re a little lost.” They ask him directions to Senko. He is speechless that that was it. Zera flips him a gold coin. He can’t believe it’s real, and he’s distracted by the shininess.
They get to Senko tower and reach the lift. Lady Monaghan wants to find someone to get authorization. The walls are a dark gray bordering on black, not the white they had become used. They knock on a door. No response. Sai kicks it and opens it. There are chairs in rows and a layer of glass through which is a large theater. On the table, someone is being operated on. The person seems to be heavily drugged, and there are shiny limbs. There are no healing spells; instead they are cutting into him. They move down the hallway and look for nonexistent people. Sai looks through another door and sees an observing area with rows of large clear liquor kegs with stuff floating inside. It looks like the specimens in jars at the magic academy. Emilio feels ill.
The buttons range from one to 699 on the lift. The red blinking light prevents them from going up until they try the card; it surprisingly lets them go up. The music in the background is happy muzak. It then begins to shift; they go faster and faster by tens. The music becomes more and more dissonant; Lady Monaghan had hit three hundred, but it passes 300 and keeps going. It suddenly slows around 690, and it stops after 699. They are confronted with a stunning view: the walls around them are all transparent, and they can see the city stretching off to the horizon. Chinn’ik pulls his head in his shell. He doesn’t like it. There’s another rumble, and the tower sways. Buildings in the plane start to shift, and they all scootch outward a bit from some middle point, which seems to be about ten or twenty feet off from the middle of the flare. Suddenly the windows are covered by a blue tinting, and they can see the magic that permeates the area. It swirls in a complicated pattern through the streets in a rune-ish type of way, all swirling towards the middle point as well as a spiraling tower and a pool. The magic is being channeled for a purpose. Then they hear a voice which seems to come from all around them. There are small disks in the ceiling and the floor where the sound comes from.
“Salutations. I find this meeting quite interesting, as I do all of ours. I am sorry I cannot be there in person, but things which have been shaping for millennia have come to a head. I heard your disturbance in the marketplace and decided that my brother’s allies should be here to witness this great step towards the end. I am only completing a design that has been in place on this level from before time began. I am allowing the conjunction to happen. You should recognize the pattern, as you’ve seen it before. Whoever created this had no need of a focus, unlike the one with the Lady’s sister. This one uses the city itself. I have always been working towards the conjunction. I’m not sure what would happen to the city. But don’t worry, I will allow you to see my fireworks. You’ve made my life interesting. The conjunction cannot be brought about as this world is constructed; there aren’t enough holes, you see. I decided to make my own. And thus my masterpiece is finished.”
With that, there is a lurch, and the pooled magic is sucked down into the ground. The veins of magic run through in a giant intricate pattern, and from slightly off the middle, the ground begins to iris open. The buildings are pushed back further and crash down; the hole in the ground expands to the entire radius of the flair area. They can see down through miles of rock out to the other side. It is quite bright. It doesn’t quite line up with the hole above.
They hear the voice again: “I would advise against using magic. With the drain down there, I would hate to see the magic ripped out of you. I, however, have a queen to go speak with. I am sure we will encounter each other in the future.”
The top of the tower plummets; before they hit the ground, something happens. Along the edges of the room, as they are free falling, inky darkness starts forming little trickles around them, and the room is filled with the flickering silhouette creatures. One blobs down next to each of them, expands, encapsulates, and an instant before they hit the ground, there is a swift shifting and a pop.
They are all sucked away to separate places and have their own adventures.
Then they wake up together in some place. Sai smiles sadly at a stone butterfly in his hand. Lady Monaghan lays there and closes her eyes. Zera is on his hands and knees, and his mask is no longer there. He opens a package, looks up at the sun, sighs, and puts a half-mask onto himself to protect his skin from the sun. Oedipus starts cursing under his breath. His spirit guide is gone. Emilio checks to make sure all of himself is there. Sai takes out a spirally shiny thing. All of them have a package. Emilio opens his up and sees a small round ball of stone. Zera feels half of his face goes numb as he feels the mask sink into his flesh. It disappears into his head and doesn’t block the sun. It smoothed out that side of his face into the contours of the mask. Zera questions Lady Monaghan why she worships gods (for healing spells, obviously). She takes offense. He wants to be taught. Sai hates the sun. [This is a severe understatement.] He turns his back and opens his package. Oedipus mops his face with his hat. He then looks at his package. Lady Monaghan accuses everyone of dreaming. Zera left his mask on the boat. He had to confront some unpleasant truths about himself, as did they all. There is a giant pyramid off in the distance. Emilio hands out handkerchiefs to sweating people. They argue as they go off towards the pyramid.
They crest over one of the larger dunes and see the entirety of the pyramid. It is the size of a small mountain, and there is a complex at the base. There are human and orange goblin-like things that look like Watigini. Oedipus starts running off towards them, and Sai goes to tackle him but stumbles down the sand and sprawls on the ground, cursing the sun. In the sky is a small flock of winged things circling over the top of the pyramids. In the distances is a blocky thing reflecting the sunlight, and small groups of people are going out into the desert and into the city. The rest make their way down. Sai tries to imitate the dress of their people. Oedipus keeps on running. Sai runs after. The other three stroll along behind. Oedipus wants to reach his spirit guide. Sai tackles him and tells him a little secret. He holds his object up to Oedipus’s face. It points to Oedipus’s box. Nothing makes sense to Oedipus at all. Sai hits him in the head. He stands up and taps his foot impatiently.
They all walk into the city and are surrounded by vendors and animals and all kinds of chaos. Lady Monaghan goes to get them a room at the Purple Parrot. Inside is a man with a white fez and white clothes, and there are exotic perfumes. The fez man says that they have lots of beautiful women (or men). He tells her to talk to the man behind the bar for rooms. Emilio explains the worlds to Oedipus. Sai asks after ashlan. Zera questions about his mask. Sai wants a full body massage. The man behind the bar helps Lady Monaghan. She doesn’t want the more “interesting” parts of their establishment. Oedipus is confused that the underground is the sky. The man thinks he has sun sickness, as Oedipus asks, “Where is the underground?” He shows Emilio’s drawing to the man. “Ah, you have a crude drawing of four of the levels. You should take some lessons in cartography. You would have to speak with the Queen before going down any more. She and her progeny govern the city and fight a war with her sister.” He can point them in that direction for a price, although they should ask again at dark, for dark business.
Sai goes up to see Marissa for his massage. A beautiful women with silver hair and pointed ears sways towards him in the draped room. Sai is embarrassed, but he is led to a bath, and she scrubs his back. Lady Monaghan, Oedipus, and Emilio go up to the common room. She tips the man, and he laughs at the silly tourists. Zera waits for nightfall. They all go out to buy clothes that suit their new environment. Oedipus makes more complicated theories about the underground all being a huge giant mountain. Lady Monaghan shakes her head at him and sighs: “There are some things that simple healing spells just can’t help you with.”
Zera looks for a religious order in this area. The main religious order is mostly populated by bhuka. They are involved in upkeep of the court. This is the capital city, complete with great pyramid of the sun. He gets directions and looks for a wizard’s tower but finds a sorcerer’s spiral. The others find a decanter of not-quite-endless water for 5,000 gold. The guy tries to get them to buy it, but they refuse. Lady Monaghan is completely superior to everyone else. Oedipus admires the shinies. Zera gives him a kaleidoscope crystal. Sai finds jinglies like the belly dancers wear. They’re mostly pure gold. Emilio thinks there are too many people and goes back to the hotel. Sai watches sword dancers. Zera goes to the tower of mystical arts. There are all kinds of magic users there, as well as lots of smoke in the air. He is told that “The Great Gazob knows.” Zera smokes with them and asks for scrolls of scry, etc. A man offers him his special package for those seeking knowledge. He offers to share some of his own spells with him: knowledge of dragon ally. That and some gold gets him some scrolls. Apparently the Queen’s views on magic have changed. A great new passage to the upper level has been created, but new things are never appreciated. It could be something of the enemy. Felix, who is hanging out with Zera, gets a little high.
Oedipus to the man at the desk: “Do your women have hats?” He says that he is royalty; apparently they have a discount for royalty. He sits around and drinks with the nicer looking girls. He emphasizes that he leads an entire tribe and a huge army. The ladies suck up to him to get money. Sai watches people play a game with stones on the board, and he practices the sword dances. Oedipus goes on a nightwalk with his passé after dinner. Zera goes to the man at the desk. Felix hides in the background. The man sets a screen up, and they talk about meeting the Queen.
“It is extremely important, and I can say no more than that.”
“Should your attempts with the bhuka fail, I can arrange for some other methods.”
Zera also wants information on the item that sank into his face. The man wants to know its origin to help with its identification. He will exchange information from the sylphs up above, his name for their oily, semi-sentient transport device. They chat for quite awhile, and Zera learns a lot. Several weeks have passed while they were having their little adventures (since the tower fell).
Lady Monaghan calls a meeting. Oedipus fails with the girls because he has no money. He didn’t take any money to war with him. Zera offers him money and says that Oedipus can be his bodyguard in exchange. Oeidipus is insulted. Then Oedipus asks Lady Monaghan for money. “How many girls do you want?!?” She wants useful information.
“Did you find out anything useful from these girls?”
“Were they supposed to talk back?”
Sai isn’t there. Zera reports what he learned, including that the Queen was one of the old deities. She tells them all to go out and learn information. Sai comes back with wine on his breath. He walked around the big pyramid and learned a new dance. It would take a whole day to walk around the pyramid once. Flying things come in and out of it, like birds.
Oedipus accepts 800 gold to be Zera’s bodyguard. Zera tells Emilio to prepare analyze dweomer tomorrow. Sai pulls out his object and tells it to point to who is in a bad mood. It cycles between the four of them. He laughs and sticks it away. There are jokes about Emilio’s ball. They all sleep, Zera in his rope trick. Emilio analyzes their individual journey objects. Emilio’s ball is magical. It has something to do with movement and momentum. It will do something when it’s required to. Sai’s has something to do with searching, an unerring search. Oedipus’s has something to do with life, or death, or both. Zera’s mask has something to do with appearances and acceptance, but not at the same time. It also has something to do with revealing the hidden. Lady Monaghan refuses to admit she has anything.
Lady Monaghan goes out to find the nobles in the city. Emilio looks for translations of the ancient epics of their land. He is sent to the culture center. Oedipus walks by the girls, jingles his coins, and goes out. One of the girls follows, and he is confused: “Is this how you are called?” He parades her past her compatriots and leads her out into the city. She wants to hear all of his glorious exploits. He browses through the armor to find something less furry and heavy. Then he asks around about the levels. They don’t have access to the one below, but they know it’s there. He spreads the word of Oedipus’s Mountain. The girl is amazed by the brilliance of his theory. He takes her out for lunch. Sai uses his item. Lady Monaghan gathers information about the social structure. It is ruled by the Queen who lives in the pyramid with her family. The bhuka and human Pharisees run the bureaucracy. The outer city is full of scum and villainy. Self-styled “nobles” live closer to the pyramid. Zera looks for the man he talked with yesterday. He will have more information by this evening. Zera pulls out his plastic card and asks for his money changed. He takes the 800 for 725. Then he seeks outside entertainment. They all make their way to around the same place. As they notice each other, a commotion starts coming from the center of the city. Several banners flutter in the wind, and a parade starts up the street. Most are human in Pharisee robes with some bhuka. Zera’s bhuka is next to the man who is leading the parade. The streets part, and people bow. The procession stops right next to them. The bhuka points to Zera, and the man breaks out into a smile. “Ah, visitors to our fair city, I have been instructed on behalf of her majesty, and an acquaintance of yours, to invite you within our humble pyramid in order to have conference.” The acquaintance they are speaking of is Watigini.
They are taken off in litters to the pyramid.
They meet the sliver Queen and her brood. People’s brains are connected, and she speaks in their mind: “Welcome to my world.” The “twins” had visited her before; each realm has its own extension of them. It has been quite a long time since she has seen them in any of their forms. She asks them about their dreams, and some of them send information of their visions. They realize that she is connected to all of her progeny, and also that most of her attention is directed elsewhere. “Your coming is the herald. From what I have seen of you and what you have showed me, you are the harbingers. What have the brothers told you?” Zera sends what they know and what they don’t know. Oedipus sends the picture of Oedipus’s Mountain. They are reminded that if the dreamer is awakened, all of this will change. The only way for them to continue downward is through conversation with her sister. Her sister and she are doomed to kill each other and all of their spawn. She contemplates preventing their leaving so that the doom won’t befall them. Her sister guards the passage way. For it to be complete, however, both must be involved. It has only happened once before, when one of their party came up. Oedipus is still mad at Watigini for abandoning him. They tell him Watigini was just preparing for the great chieftain’s arrival. Oedipus doesn’t believe him. They are fated to go on to her sister. Watigini is asked to guide them. He has a little friend with him, one of the other’s progeny.
She lets them pick out some items. Then she tells Watigini that it’s time to go. Sai gives her a sheath before he leaves. As they are walking out, they are escorted by her progeny, and they morph as they go outside into bhuka and people. They go back to the Purple Parrot. Zera goes back to the man to see if he found anymore information about his mask. They settle up and set off through the desert after procuring camels. Zera turns into a yellow dragon. Emilio gets camel-sick. Sai is excited to see moon people. They see a caravan going in the opposite direction; it warns them that they are traveling into danger. The man leading it suggests selling them all of their interesting items before they get confiscated in the city. They are also warned to stay away from the Queen’s new advisor. He describes him as short and bhuka-like.
They have a magic carpet. It’s blue and green with a bit of red, and Lady Monaghan flies on it. Zera buys bull-strength potions from the merchants. They look up in the sky after a couple more days of travel and see an edge that continues up…the edge of the level above them. Oedipus is going to write a picture book of his mountain theory. Zera feels some sort of deep vibration coming through the sands. Oedipus bickers with his ex-spirit guide. Night falls, and it is cold. Zera goes up in his rope trick. Sai keeps watch, followed by Oedipus, followed by Lady Monaghan and Zera. Zera’s camel is mysteriously gone. Sai thinks it went that way; Felix sees there are no tracks. The next day, a couple of them see a glimmering thing off in the distance, and Sai feels a tremor. The next night, Sai hears a strange noise around where Lady Monaghan was sleeping. The Lady Monaghan’s camel and half of the pole she had tied it to is missing. Zera starts creating a camel-eating thing trap. Oedipus’ camel chews on his beard. They decide to start traveling at night. Zera transforms himself into a small item on one of the camels and casts alarm around them. Sai still hates the sun. They continue on through the night. Halfway through the night, Sai sees several small black flecks fly across the moon. In the distance are several flashing lights. When it gets hot again, they sleep in the shade. Zera sets up the camel trap again. The sun sets, and they travel onward. The lights in the distance are more frantic, and there is constant traffic across the full moon. They pass another day in sleep. There is still rumbling, although it is at a different pitch.
As they travel the next night, they find a gourd with a face cut out of it with a hat, lit up. Sai takes it. The next night, they find clumps of them, but each one with a different carved face. They are all facing outwards. Whenever Sai gets near them with his own, his heats up a bit. He calls it Bob. None of the faces look happy. Oedipus speaks to the gourds. Off in the light they see the pinnacle of a pyramid. Movement off in the distance comes towards them. They see a miniature grey sliver, like the one Watigini had found on the other level. It jumps up and greets him. It has some sort of wound on its back. Lady Monaghan heals it. Watigini says to go faster. Turtle hover! The others hustle. They start to see greenery covering the desert: vines. Half of the city is lit by fires. There is no one in sight but a mess full of guards. They go towards the hole in the pyramid. There are bodies of slivers, inverted bhuka, humans…Sai leaves his gourd outside and moves in. Fire continues to eat the buildings. Sai is sad that the Arabi on this plane is dead, according to Sai’s understanding.
They let the camels go and begin to go inside the pyramid, heading towards the large chamber in the center. The gourds are most everywhere, two lines of them along each wall, all of them facing out, all of them distorted and twisted. They walk in to the center, and there are the remains of some sort of very large rather pitched battle. There are patches of gourds, but those are far outnumbered by dead everything. Most are corpses of slivers, also albino bhuka, humans, men in uniforms of countries from the top level, people wearing clothes from the second level, the twisted metal remains of the contraptions of the level above, and others that they don’t recognize. The moon is shining through the hole in the pyramid. The edges of the hole (the HOLE hole) and the edges of the moon line up exactly. Sai walks out into the middle of the circle and freezes. Lady Monaghan looks and is fine. With true seeing, Zera sees neither Sai nor moonlight. Lady Monaghan grabs the hem of his robe. It’s brittle and breaks, and when it comes off, it changes, looking frayed and musty, aging before her eyes. Lady Monaghan then looks at the murals on the walls. There are eight portrayals: one is divided into two, Marduk and the Breaker, two pictures made up of other pictures. They are in order of the worlds. After this world: a green world (mountains and forests…Oedipus’s world), a giant tamed garden, blackness, and whiteness. The moon shines through the desert one. The duality is seen in every one except for the blackness and the whiteness. Zera blasts a gourd. It pops, and out of the gourd floats a little golden ball like those souls from the second level world. Then he goes through and starts “freeing souls.” After the ninth gourd, the ball flies into Zera. Lady Monaghan turns undead. A group of ten pumpkins explode; six of them impact into her. Kaymek, an elf only Emilio can see who has been following him since his journey between the levels, cavorts in the moonlight.
Oedipus takes some chalk and draws a picture of himself in the mural of his world. Sai snaps out of it as the moon passes behind a cloud. He doesn’t say much. Watigini questions Lady Monaghan about the dead bodies, as along the edges of the room bodies are moving. Oedipus swings into a body, and it splorches but is still wiggling. The wiggling works inward further. Lady Monaghan casts magic circle against evil around herself. Zera gets bigger, and they cast buffing spells on themselves. Suddenly all of the undead converge on the moonlight and shove them out of it. Inside the moonlight, the corpses fuse into a massive amalgam o’ dead meat. The parts making up its moving and structure are all dead slivers. There are jack-o’-lanterns all over it. Lady Monaghan and Zera feel a strange pull towards the monster. Sai dances to attack it. Emilio flies. It slams at Sai with a hand of animated dead flesh. Then the framework reassembles itself, and an arm elongates with the blades of dead people and slivers. Watigini casts spells on himself and Chinn’ik, and Chinn’ik bites with werebear teeth. Lady Monaghan withdraws and casts flame strike, but the magic runs off in rivulets…it is immune. The fire makes the creature slow, however. Zera moves 60 feet back and casts orb of acid. The acid flies off and splashes somewhere else. Oedipus charges and attacks. Normal damage doesn’t do as much as it should, but the shock on his weapon makes whatever was slowing it down to go away. Sai dances in and attacks. Emilio sends down scorching rays, and it is slowed down again. Chinn’ik and Oedipus are stunned when they hear a high-pitched burst of sound. It uses its extended arm to slash at Sai. Watigini casts superior magic fang on himself and Chinn’ik. Lady Monaghan casts silence on its head. Zera lobs a crystal shard at it. It impacts one of the gourds, and a poof of dead bodies slips out. Sai fights defensively. He cuts into it deeply and makes its legs ragged. Emilio does another round of scorching rays. The part of the body silence was casts on shifts down its arm. The sharp pointed arm is thrown at Emilio. He flies out of the way of the bulk of the arm, and the arm is embedded in one of the walls. Watigini casts lion’s charge and runs up to attack. A crackling energy traces along all the sliver corpses holding it together. Lady Monaghan dismisses the silence spell and yells to come to her for healing. Zera does another crystal shard. It makes another hole. All across the creature, the little gourds begin to burst, and out of each flows a little glowing orb. Eight hit Emilio, Lady Monaghan gets four, Sai gets seven, Oedipus gets seven, and Chinn’ik gets five. Oedipus shakes off the stun and rages. He picks up his ax and attacks. Sai also dances around and attacks. Emilio casts more scorching rays. It is frozen and no longer moving, still in the circle of moonlight. Where its feet touch the ground in the moonlight, it smokes slightly. The energy is still going.
They figure they should get out. Zera dimension doors them out of the pyramid 960 feet away. Lady Monaghan heals Emilio and Sai. Everyone goes up to the pyramid, and Sai, Zera, and Watigini move inside. It appears to be unchanged. The energy ribbons are still there. It’s still not a good idea to be there. They go back out. Some of them notice that the gourds are glowing brighter now. There’s a thump in the direction of the pyramid. Then the gourds hover off the ground. Everyone who has more than five orbs in them feels a lot lighter. Sai smashes a pumpkin, and an orb flies into him. Emilio wants to teleport out of here. The others keep watching. There’s another thump. Kaymek mimes punting a pumpkin and laughing maniacally. The pumpkins begin to spin around. Those with over six feel a bit dizzy. They are soul orbs, like the ones in Eiganjo castle. They start walking away from the pyramid, but they kind of veer and can’t walk away. Those who aren’t dizzy grab those who are and start dragging them off. Another thump. The ground quivers. The pumpkins are moving, gaining altitude in the direction of the pyramid. Lady Monaghan gets out the magic carpet, and others hang on to Chinn’ik. Lady Monaghan: “I can’t drive it, I’m under the influence.” The closer the pumpkins get, the faster they move, and they settle on the pyramid, covering it on all sides. This is something massively magical. Lady Monaghan figures out that the pyramid is dedicated to the moon, but the gourds are not of the moon (but not of the sun). They are witnessing a hostile takeover. Watigini gets extraordinarily flustered. The balance shouldn’t have been broken like this. Sai wants to find the Queen, but his object spins around. Sai says that the Queen is not dead, but just gone. Sai tells Oedipus that Arabi is his mother.
Lady Monaghan wants to go back towards the pyramid. It starts raining. Emilio casts Bigby’s Interposing Hand over Chinn’ik to hold off the rain. Watigini says they need to get off the sand. They make their way back to the pyramid. Zera goes in preparing to run out, and Watigini and Sai follow. The creature is splattered against the top of the inside of the pyramid, obscuring part of the murals. There is still energy crackling around the embedded remains. Those inside hear a soft hissing coming from the center. Where the moonlight had been, the sand is draining out somewhere along with rivulets of water. Watigini casts true seeing, and he doesn’t see the hole in the floor. It’s not there. They go and get the others. The level of sand is going down much faster, and along the base there are more of the murals. It’s a cross between a catalogue of inhabitants and a visual representation of an area outside of existence. Kaymek backstrokes in the sand. The sand finishes draining out. It didn’t really appear to drain to anywhere, as now the moonlight is back on cold pale marble stone. Zera steps into the area and steps off again. He wasn’t sucked up. Lady Monaghan brings the carpet closer. Emilio walks towards the crazy Kaymek. The hole in the wall lets the moon shine through for a second, and everyone except Lady Monaghan, who was not in the center, disappears. Lady Monaghan grabs the carpet and follows. She is mildly disturbed, hanging around there, waiting for the moon. Lady Monaghan wanders back towards the entrance. There’s no one there except for her. Through the grace of the moon, the others have gone down. She goes back and forth, pacing and waiting for something to happen.
They’re on a rock in the middle of a marsh. The Lady finally shows up after a half an hour. Oedipus wanders out into the muck and finds a bone, which he waves around. In the treetops above him, a large flock of bat-gnats appears. Lady Monaghan, Emilio, and Zera are flying on the carpet. Emilio casts chain-lightning on them, killing twelve of them. A huge billowing cloud of stirges erupts from another area. Two of them latch onto Oedipus and Emilio. Oedipus yanks his out and snaps its neck. Zera casts cloudkill on the swarm. Lady Monaghan yells for Oedipus to get on the carpet and backs it up. Emilio rips his out and shocking grasps it to death. He is now dirty and angry. Five more stirges latch on to Oedipus. He rages and attacks the swarm. Zera energy bolts the swarm and rips a large hole in it. Lady Monaghan casts sanctuary on herself, and Emilio magic missiles the stirges on Oedipus. More attach to Oedipus, and the swarm catches up with the carpet. Stirges latch onto the carpet occupants. Oedipus cleaves through the stirges on him. Zera changes into a dragon and breathes on his friends. Lady Monaghan tries to pull her stirge out. Emilio fireballs Zera at his request and gets rid of most of his stirges (except the ones that hide in his armpits). More stirges attach to Emilio and Lady Monaghan. Oedipus leaps at the swarm. Zera rips his apart. Emilio magic missiles the ones on Lady Monaghan. She grapples another and throws it into the marsh. Emilio dies. Oedipus splortches some more. Zera swoops down and shoves Emilio’s psyche back into his body. Lady Monaghan cure moderates mass. Emilio magic missiles the ones on him. The one on Lady Monaghan drinks more blood and then detaches. Oedipus kills it. Lady Monaghan and Zera restore everyone.
Zera flies up to scout. He sees a walled compound within a two or three hour hike away. They fly up to the large red gates, and Oedipus knocks on the door. A short reptilian face sticks out. After asking his mistress, he lets them in and shows them to some stalls of hay. The lizardman invites them to dinner with his mistress. Sai pops into visibility as he sits down. The architecture is reminiscent of second level. Oedipus admires it. A striking woman walks into the room. Her black hair is pulled back into a loose ponytail, and her dress is long, form-fitting, and red. Red is everywhere. She has a couple of fans. Lady Monaghan and she exchange pleasantries. She recognizes that Oedipus is a native of Barbarous, of the mountains. She doesn’t know about the layered worlds and is confused about Oedipus’ mountain story. Lady Monaghan: “Oedipus, I don’t think you’re dead. I think you may be home.” He’s mad at his spirit guide and walks out and leaves. Emilio tries to smooth over the different world talk; he says they’ve been in a teleporting accident. She’s heard of an Oedipus that was in a Great War and has been missing ever since. [The Great War was against the sorceress Vanessa.] They eat roast stirge, alligator, snake, fruit…eww. Kaymek follows the woman in red out, and the rest eat dinner and either wander around or retire for the evening.
Lady Monaghan joins in tending a fire to talk to lizardperson servants about basics of the world. The woman had been exiled from Druscilla; Sondar is the nearest country. She had formed her compound her at the outskirt of civilization on the swamp. Sai observes from the shadows. Most sleep in Zera’s rope trick. They are asked to join the mistress for breakfast. She wants them to stay another day. They say they are pursuing someone…Sai’s sister. Lady Monaghan wants to stay another day, so they stay. They gather provisions and maps. Emilio organizes the library after making maps. Sai searches for a snake in the swamp, getting Oedipus’s “help.” He finds a green snake that bites him and is poisonous. He throws it down Oedipus’s shirt, but he hits it away with his ax. Sai keeps the head. Lady Monaghan cures him. Zera reads a book on swamp wildlife. The mistress asks them to dinner. Sai requests a tour before they eat. It’s a fairly normal house. Sai refuses dinner due to the snake bite. After mentioning Lady Monaghan is a healer, the mistress says that it is good to have a healer around. Sai watches the mistress as closely as he can without being caught. She talks to the lizardfolk and does a lot of writing. Sai puts the snake venom in a jar during his watch. Morning comes, and they prepare to go. Breakfast is requested again, but they are in a hurry. They just go in to say goodbye. She beckons them into her bedroom, where there are exquisite statues lining the walls. Sai quickly excuses himself. Jargo says that if they say her name in Druscilla they might get some help. They go out to the gates, where Sai is hiding. When the gates are fully open, in front of them appear their enemies. Jargo continues fanning herself.
One of them is a human female with black hair, whom Oedipus growls at. She is Vanessa. Jargo changes…her hair becomes snake-like, as does her skin. They’re getting a warning. They have a chat. The Breaker says they’ve been good little hounds to follow them for so long. He wants to do away with them. Five on five, or one on one. They argue. Lady Monaghan won’t fight her sister. Only Zera really wants to fight. Emilio doesn’t know what to do with a mentally crazy elf that only he can see and hear. Sai mentions casually that he chatted to Arabi the other day. The Breaker says that he lies. He says he was the last there, eons ago. But Sai was there in the pyramid. They agree to meet on the “last day.” The spellcasters want to teleport to Oedipus’s village, so Zera gets an image from his mind and Emilio teleports them there to save them from walking through the swamp. They arrive at a cave on the mountain. But there is no village, just burnt remains. Oedipus has his second break down of the day. Lady Monaghan hears a noise, and Sai and Zera go off to investigate. There are slaves moving earth. They come back, report, and go back to catch one to question. Sai and Zera trip up, and 22 people come after them. Emilio and Oedipus hear noise and fly over…two flying dwarves. Oedipus diplomacizes his people and lets them kill the ones that aren’t his. Zera turned into a mindflayer for combat and is very smug. They capture three people. One of them gets killed for making a short joke at Oedipus’s expense. The others babble and go off as captives with the great chief Oedipus, although they are kind of evil.
The entrance to the mine looks deserted. Zera roars (in dragon form). “All hail the return of King Oedipus!” No reaction. They walk in. On the throne in the middle of the mountain is a dwarf who looks remarkably like Oedipus. (It’s his father Laius.) However, father and son don’t realize this, as they’ve never met each other before. They grab each other by their shirts and shake each other. While they’re fighting, Sai sits on the throne, and Zera curls around it: “All hail King Sai!” No, they decide he is Queen instead. Sai and Zera flirt and distract everyone. Oedipus leaps at his father. Sai and Zera cheer and do the wave on the throne. Laius is cleaved down. Oedipus kills his father and makes Sai and Zera get off his throne. He is king under the mountain. There was a button on the side of the throne, and it starts spinning around. It opens up a large hole in the floor that goes down. There are grinding sounds and possibly tongues of flame.
They go down the large hole after arguing and find an expansive chamber with large piles of gold and jewels and a seal with a dragon on it blocking the way down. When they pick up gold, the dragon comes to life (for a brief time, until they kill it). They find many other useful items besides gold in the chamber, have a rave, and then go down through the hole to a dark forest shrouded in clinging shadows. The orbs that had entered them on the fourth level burst out of them painfully when they hit land. They enter a village pub where there is dancing and drinking. The bartender tells them that it is the end/beginning. A cloaked albino dwarf named Martin the Bold talks to Lady Monaghan, offering her the assistance of him and his brother. Oedipus is chugging out of that brother’s (Stumpwater Jack’s) large mug of dwarven drink. They talk to a lot of zany characters in that bar. Zera reads a love poem about Lady Monaghan while intoxicated, much to her annoyance and chagrin.
They wake up in the inn and meet Stumpwater Jack, who shows them the way out of town. They stop in a pastry shop for “divine” cannolis and head out. They are supposed to follow the Unsullied Way. They come to a fork in the road, smell water, and hear music down one fork. They follow it and come to a bridge over a small stream that flows into a vast lake. The music wafts over the water. The water makes them feel melancholy. A rope Oedipus pulls brings a 10x10 wooden platform. They find another trail, which Sai scouts. The terrain reminds them of their earlier dreams. They come to a hut with a giant bear and a giant maple tree. The bear wakes up and shifts into a tall humanoid. He has a large sword beside him. He is Tormund, Oaken Guardian of this Grove. He asks if they are going to follow the four who went through before to their destiny. He pulls off the mask that was part of Zera’s face. Emilio hands over his stone orb. He also takes Sai’s item and Lady Monaghan’s. He says she has brought doom with her. Oedipus offers a divine cannoli and his item. Tomorrow morning begins the final day before the conjunction. He calls the lake the Lake of Sorrows and goes back to sleep as a bear. Zera writes emo poetry in the margins of his spellbook. Sai gives Oedipus a tattoo of a mountain on his arm. Emilio and Zera prepare the next day’s spells.
Zera planar binds a genie while Sai dreams he is a butterfly. The tree is gone in the morning, a blackened and scorched circle all that remains. The genie, when paid, puts contingent resurrection on Sai and Emilio. This is the last spot that Doven set foot upon before dreaming his dream. A giant beam of light is moving this way. Tormund drives the sword into the ground, and it clicks like a key and creates a hole of darkness. They descend beneath the stars, and they find themselves standing on a black polished reflective surface.
A gray cloud approaches, and they head onward to meet it. In front of it is a set of figures, fronted by the Breaker. Their enemies are also there, as is a grumpy Jargo who is there instead of Lady Monaghan’s sister. They are there for destiny’s sake. They decide to meet destiny together instead of one-on-one. Sai attacks his sister, and Vanessa hits them with a fireball. Zera splits and transforms Zera 2 into a big purple dragon, which Emilio polymorphs into something bigger. Kaymek messes with a point in Emilio’s head and disappears. Oedipus rages. All kinds of crazy things happen. Sai dies and comes back. He kills his sister. Emilio polar rays Jargo. Lady Monaghan heals Sai. Zera makes most of the invisible enemies visible. Sai kills Vanessa. Kaymek comes into existence, rolling around on the ground clutching his head. He starts being dragged towards Emilio. Sai lays his spare cloak over his sister. Emilio gets turned to stone, and Zera turns him back. They take care of Grenfir and Jargo, and Kaymek is absorbed into Emilio’s head. The Breaker meanwhile has been watching, scanning the sky. Marduk comes down, a blackened twisted Marduk, and the two duel. Marduk kills the Breaker, who dissolves up the sword and puts a storm of darkness in him, creating a confused hybrid of the two that is horribly enraged and descends towards them.
The Avatar comes down toward the ground. He looks at each of them and says that they have played their part well. He has now merged with his brother. He looks at each of the bodies and said that they have also played their part well but must finish their service. Sai’s sister was apparently twisted by Marduk. The tattoos on Sai’s sister skitter across the ground and into him, and a red mist from Grenfir also goes into him. He gestures at Vanessa with his fist, and something green goes up and into him. He says that there will be a reckoning for Lady Monaghan, and Emilio gets a headache as a small crystal comes out of his forehead. He asks them to stand aside so that he can take his rightful place as the sleeper…Doven’s dream is over, his son shall take his place. They wonder what sort of dream that would be, the embodiment of all of their evils. They stand in his way and take their final step towards destiny. They battle intensely. Sai uses a thousand cuts…but only hits once as he closes his eyes and flails wildly. That one cut is enough to take him down to the ground, though. The magics that bound the pure evil and pure good together kind of explode.
The stars have been covered by a gray cloud. There are stars beneath their feet. They see a light coming from the cloud and follow it, seeing a gigantic shaft of light coming down from the ceiling. The conjunction: they can see the shifting from all angles. The floor beneath them is no longer reflecting…on the other side is the moon itself, steadily waxing, and the light from both she and the sun are steadily converging. The cloud is beginning to steam, and they can feel themselves moving downward. There is a small area still hidden, and they slip, finding themselves suddenly standing between the lights of the sun and the moon. They are in a circular room with two pillars of light, and in the middle is a single figure lying down. They tiptoe closer to the aged figure. Each of them have seen him before in their dream journey (the Walker, the Rider, and the Ferryman). There are two other objects: one suspended from the top, and one from the bottom, and he is floating in between him. They are on hinges that can be flipped. They are giant discs, each with seven circles engraved on it. The light is slowly inching towards the center. Oedipus plays with the discs. They discuss blocking the light with the discs. A figure steps out of the wall into the space, the man who is suspended, but not there.
“Ah, children, you have at last finally come.” He believes there are more cannolis in Oedipus’s future.
“Welcome here at the end of all things.”
Lady: “End or beginning or both?”
“Ah, you have learned well. What have you come to? You are gaining the ability to change your world and the worlds of others. As it is, you yourselves have brought me a great gift: the gift of experience of knowledge. You have brought me the dream of another hundred centuries or more. Or it could be that of somewhere else. Each of you is one of my children, playing your part in the great conjunction.”
He describes what the world has been in the past. The dreams will continue into infinity. His chosen children will always have a place in whatever world they choose. The Lady wants to wake him. Zera also agrees that the dreams should end. Oedipus thinks there shouldn’t be level upon level. He is willing to sacrifice his mountain to remake the universe. Doven says Emilio was the most reluctant…Emilio tells him to shut up. He agrees with Oedipus, though. Sai has a butterfly. Doven’s lovers the sun and the moon shall find him, unless they cause them to pass over, and then this dream shall continue. “Are we going to commit universal murder if we end this dream?”
“When you dream, do those you dream about remain with you after you’ve awoken?”
“I forget most of my dreams when I wake up,” says Sai. The light moves closer. The dwarves eat their last meal cannolis. Lady makes sure that the discs don’t block the light.
“I shall see you again in the next dream. May at be as interesting as this one.”
With that he steps back into the wall, and the lights move towards each other until finally they pause, each barely an inch away. Both combine at the same instant and come together on him, and they are surrounded by light. Sai, Oedipus, and Zera are bathed by moonlight, and Lady and Emilio in sunlight. They feel the caress of the light before they awaken in the village where they were before, but instead of a wood, they think they might see glass towers, giant pyramids, and other structures from their journeys. Out of the village come faces that they recognize…relatives even. Sai’s and Lady’s sisters. Emilio’s fathers. People from Oedipus’s village. Zera’s face is better. Doven comes out of the forest and walks over towards them.
“And so we have moved into a new dream, as you have guided me. We have one. Unity. There was much in the previous dream that you have never seen before. Both that and what you have seen before is partially still here. There is a palace of the moon, elven and dwarven cities, governments, anarchies. There are pieces of you in all of it. I invite you to explore this world and to forge your own dreams in it.”
Oedipus gives Doven his last cannoli. Zera gets Grenfir’s pelt tanned and plans to seek out famous psionics and start a school. Oedipus founds a socialist society on the mountain and takes a rank in wizardry: the U.S.S.R. of Oedipusland, a community of socialist bakers. Lady Monaghan takes her sister home and puts her and it to rights. Sai looks into how the domination skill his race has is done. He goes to find his people and bring them out into modern society, deciding to teach druids their skills. Arabi is back in the temple complex above her people the ashlan. Emilio becomes a traveling librarian so that he can visit everyone. He forms the first mobile circulating library.