The Chioces of Gods and Men

We stare in shock as the bombs fall over the Bronx and the mobs rush across the East River. Wiest appears in the sky, raining her fire that is not fire down upon them. Clouds of luminous gas billows out from the dead. Klyce’s shout for us to DO Something! breaks our spell, and Gerhard takes most of us to Police Plaza. I rise immediately into the sky, bringing up a Storm of Vengeance upon the third line of faithful crossing the river. Gerhard and Maribeth join Wiest above the first and second waves. Dalish starts rallying the troops and giving orders below, sending Remy to the north with an army at his heels to take on the fourth wave. Behind us, Nat and Klyce take care of the airship, sending it into the bay before Klyce turns into Dragon and brings Nat in on red wings to join the fight at the river.

My storm keeps raging, far longer than it should, as I remember what it felt like those years ago in the Wrathbone mine, to Be the Green Witch. When it falters, I take control of the winds, to keep Dalish and Police Plaza safe while he commands the troops. Maribeth turns most of the river into a rocky mirage, slowing the troops, but not stopping them as Gerhard runs out of fire, and Wiest abandons the field of battle. Dalish and I head for the riverbed where he raises thousands of the dead and turns them back on the faithful.

Nat says we have to get to the church, we have to get to the source, so we stop fighting in the river and fly across to Brooklyn. Gathering above the temple, mana is redistributed and we take a breath, but not a break. We cannot wait, people are dying in the streets. Golden gas is coming up from the sewers. Only half of Pendleton’s men made it out of the Bronx.

Gerhard teleports us down to the workroom we all remembered so well from the time bubble. Nat could not see in there, but it was not protected against teleport. We land safely, and see that it has been used as some sort of ritual room. An altar in an alcove to the side, and all the benches and lockers gone. Everything s coated in a sickly pink flesh.

Klyce goes to the iron doors, back in his demon form now, to rip them open. Shadows in the corner ripple, and the Black and Red knights step out, with Aranea. The king has decided the city is worth saving. As we walk, Aranea fixes the weakness Nat’s last wish has caused her, allowing her to again wield her new sword. Klyce tells the Black Knight that he will fix his arm if we all survive, but the knight just shrugs. The tunnel is dark, but the brightness ahead grows quickly as we descend into the chamber with the severed head of the giant worm, still trapped in its bubble.

The flesh here covers every inch of floor, wall, ceiling, and machinery. It is also beginning to cover the time bubble in the center of the pit. There are body parts here, too, but far too many. Arms, legs, eyes, mouths, floating in the fleshy goo. The flight I have gifted everyone is still working, so only the knights dare step in it. The Archdeacon Wood is here, and dares ask if we have reconsidered.

No more than you, Archdeacon, it’s time to end this.

Wood rises up into the air, but Gerhard counters whatever it was he wanted to do. I cast out a chain lightning, but it does not reach him. Remy’s bullets, however, do. Aranea tries a different magic, but it is stopped as well. The Black Knight heads for the pit and the Red Knight rockets up to the machinery to begin burning away the flesh. Dalish calls up an illusory dragon to burn the flesh from the time bubble, and Maribeth follows suit. Nat tries to curse Wood, but it just falls away. Klyce begins chanting to his sword about being vengeance, and this many being most worthy of it and flies right up to Wood and throws him to the ground. Wood begins laughing joyously, that Klyce is giving in to his power here, at the source of his god, but we don’t have time to do anything else. Remy shouts for us all to do the same.

Nat, calling upon his godly power, manages to pull a few spells off of Wood, and I call up some holy lightning. The others begin pulling harder on their power to burn the flesh, and Klyce stays on Wood, dragging him down to the ground again and again, as he calls upon the flesh of the room to punish us all. I see pain in the faces of my friends, and some mana escapes from Nat is a blue puff, but they seem mostly alright, and I didn’t feel a thing.

Remy attempts to wish our that this room work like a machine, draining our divinity back into us. The room warps and the machinery changes and we are suddenly all connected in that agonizing way that only a mana machine can do. Wood is exstatic> “Exactly as you foresaw! Yes!” Klyce grabs him and they disappear down into the pit. The Red Knight ditches the fight and the Black Knight is nowhere to be seen. At Remy’s urging, we all try to take back our power while continuing to burn the flesh as we can. Aranea casts spells to assist us, but the fight is hard, for even unthinking, Garion’s will is strong.

Nat, using her sword as a focus, manages to pull the Dawnmother’s essence out, but Gerhard falls to the ground. Aranea continues to help and heal, but we struggle. Wood reappears at the top just as Dalish reabsorbs the Stoneman’s essence. Nat stabs the flesh one more time, and the flesh goes limp all around us and her soul-eating sword shatters. Wood tries to call up his own wish, but we counter him. Remy floats down to Gerhard and pulls his soul back into him with his own Wish. I toss lightning down at Wood, and Maribeth sends in a mental attack. Klyce stabs him through the heart and incinerates every inch of his body.

As Klyce turns to us, still seething with rage, Remy calls out to him to stay his vengeance. It is clear that it takes a great force of will, but he releases his power and lands among us. The Black Knight reappears, standing directly behind Klyce and sheathes his sword. Remy passes out from the strain of the fight. I send up to Pendleton that the Garion flesh is dead and the Archdeacon is down. He replies that the mist is gone, and the cultists have come to their senses. Dalish commands his zombie horde to stop fighting. The Black Knight bids us rest and then meet him and the King at The Door. I shout Deal! before anyone else can answer, and he and Aranea disappear into the shadows again.

Dalish offers the rest of us help getting our essences back later, but for now it is time to rest. We head back, Nat taking it slow, to heal anyone she can along the way. Dalish has his zombies round up the dead. Klyce tells Philomena the whole story. I simply collapse into bed and sleep, exhausted by the day’s events, but excited to meet the Prince.

In the morning, we gather for breakfast, sitting by Maribeth and both our brothers come home. I scold mine for having left, and he takes it with a smile at his lady. Porter and Julian look haggard, but well enough. Then the sendings start coming in from every corner, with reports and request for information and orders. Klyce wants everyone to get the bodies taken care of, search and rescue to be mobilized, and fresh water brought into the city in as large of quantities as can be mustered. They all need things to do while we finish cleaning up our own mess.

When everyone has eaten, stowed their magical gear, and replied to their sendings, I teleport us up to the throne room of the old palace. The door behind the throne stands open, and while magic is still suppressed beyond it, the feeling is a familiar one by now, and Dalish is able to descend with us this time. The world goes black and white as we climb, and down in the chamber, the King, the Black Knight, and Aranea are waiting. Dalish asks why Rictus’ son is not with them, and the Black Knight says that this does not concern him. The king apologizes for not trusting us and asks if we have any questions.

Dalish asks how he knew about the door. It’s an old family legend, he tells us. His family are descendants of the Green Witch herself, and their blood is needed to open the way. His great grandfather found it was here when he came to this continent, and built their home above and around it. Dalish asks if he knows what it holds. Yes, he and the Clever Prince shared the last seventeen years in the void together. The Prince helped him keep his sanity in nothingness, and he intends to open the door and free him.

Klyce asks if he knows what will happen then. Freedom. Maribeth asks what that means, and if it will do the things we hoped to fix. The king is not sure, but he knows none of that can be done until it is opened. Dalish asks what he intends to do after, and he says that will be in our hands. We all agree the mageocracy was a failure. He is willing to take back leadership if that is the will of the people, but mostly, he just wants to spend time with his son. That is his priority after missing the last seventeen years with him. Remy offers to take him south, but he does not wish to rule them either.

Klyce asks if we are all in agreement. If anyone objects to opening the door. Nat, Maribeth, Dalish and I immediately agree. Remy is his usual annoying pendantic self. Gerhard is reluctant, but will not vote against it. Klyce agrees and we are unanimous. Then six other voices ring out WE OBJECT, and six luminous figures descend into the cave. The Black Knight and the King freeze in time, as the Gods appear before us.

We all stare for a moment as the Gods look down upon us. They look tired, angry, sad, but determined. Remy, always Remy, breaks the silence by asking why. The Eternal Mind answers for them all, he talked more than Remy, but it went something like: Because it will make things so much worse. You have seen suffering and you think that anything must be better than this. That is how we felt, and the end of this road will take you right back to the beginning and the Clever Prince shall walk as a god, and set his vengeance against this plane of existence. And oh he went on and on and on… Something about our mana being the bones of the fae and havoc and chaos.

When he ran out of steam, Dalish asked why they left these bones, the mana, in the earth in the first place, when the separated the worlds.

The Stoneman answered that the bones belong in the earth, and is not for us to remove them. The fae realm was of the earth. Everything continues, they merely fractured it.

The Vengeance cut in then, saying that the Fae wrought horrors upon the earth. He wants to open the door and end the Prince, and the fae, forever!

There is some back and forth then. Remy calling out that vengeance is this god, and not the Prince, he wouldn’t seek vengeance. And The Vengeance calling him a monster. Then Klyce stepping in and saying that Vengeance is just as bad, or worse. That he just wants to destroy everything. The Green Witch enters the fray, with the tale of the frog and the scorpion. The Clever Prince is a scorpion, she says, he can do nothing but strike, poison, and destroy.

Dalish calls out what they have done, that it was wrong, and has wrought destruction in return. Klyce suggests that the fae follow their own rules, and perhaps we could make a deal with the Prince. Remy says the war needed stopping in their time, and they did their best, but men always find new ways to make war, and that the damage they have caused will only quicken our decay as we fight over the mana.

The Stoneman says that removing the mana would rupture the earth. The Tempest says they should have take it all away. The Eternal Mind does not agree, and is concerned that the Tempest does. The Vengeance says that the bones of our enemies belong in the ground. Remy asked if magic existed before the breaking. The Eternal Mind said of course it did, that’s where their power came from, and the fae made it possible. Dalish explains what locking the fae away has caused and the machines that have brought the fae back into our world. The Dawnmother says that the fae cannot be trusted but they must also not be destroyed.

I jump in at this point, having barely recovered from their appearance, but I am frustrated and angry. Your essences coming back into the world have caused this chaos, the deaths of thousands. We have to fix what you have done before more of the world is destroyed. Nat agrees with me, their mistakes caused this, let us open the door and we will deal with the consequences. The Vengeance is eager for this. Klyce steps in, You all failed. You had your chance and you missed. Be done with all of this? Aren’t you lonely and tired? Let it all go. Just let it go, you are only echoes of what you used to be. It is Our World now. You don’t live here, you quit. We’re still here, it’s our decision now.

The Stoneman shows us what had happened in their time. The chaos and destruction caused by the Prince and the fae. When it is over, Dalish nearly laughs. So, he is as big an ass as those we have already fought. The Stoneman relents that he is what he is. The Vengeance puts in another bid to kill him. Maribeth insists that the only way forward is releasing him and restoring the balance. That they had no right to destroy the fae world as they have done.

The Stoneman looks at us all thoughtfully, glancing at Klyce. In your tirade, one thing moved me. I am lonely. We exist from the power we took, born of the earth. It did not stop without us. I have one last wish, to slumber, to return to the earth. He then lays a hand on Dalish, and the last vestiges of his power flowed out and into him. The Stoneman was gone, and the Green Witch wailed in pain.

The Tempest looks at Gerhard. I would almost agree, but you seem to not be having any more fun than me these years. Nat steps in to defend our quiet friend, saying he has his fun in his lab, with his alchemical works.

Klyce steps forward. I doubt this was in your plan, but what is your endgame here? I step up with him, looking at the Green Witch. Your descendent is here, ready to open that door as is his familial duty. Ready to give his blood. It is time. Klyce picks up the line. The world has moved on. Let this be the end of it. You have stuck around long enough. It is over and if you cannot change then there are only scorpions here.

The Tempest, still frowning at Gerhard. I don’t think you are wrong. And gives his last bit of power to Gerhard.

Then Klyce turns to Vengeance. How about you just leave? I want no part of you. The Vengeance replies, You are too week to carry my mantle. Klyce scoffs, That’s some toxic B.S. You never look at your own self. Only everyone else’s sins. How many lives are on your hands? And they fight, and Klyce defeats him handily, but when he takes his essence in, it changes. Even his sword becomes a shining light.

The Dawnmother has been watching quiestly and steps forward, looking hard at me. I set my descendents to watch this door. It is true, that I am tired. If it is truly time, and this is to be the fate of the world. I must not stand in its way. If it is time, then it is time. And she places a hand on Nat’s head and gives herself over.

The Green Witch looks at me, clearly upset that all her friends are leaving her one by one. Even more upset that we are freeing her erstwhile lover. I would look upon his face one last time. And pass along the memories, and the pain, and the joy. Then she melds into me, but I can still feel here, looking out of my eyes. The Eternal Mind looks at us. He wanted to be the last one. He doesn’t even like his chosen. He says Maribeth never even figured out how to use the library properly. He goes on for a little while, and tells her to enjoy watcing everyone around her be stupid. Then he sighs, almost happily. At least now, I don’t know what’s next.

Time resumes, as the King cuts open his hand and anoints the door. Color creeps back into the room, and the door becomes living wood. He turns back to us. It is done, it is upon you to open the door and deal with the consequences. I will see my friend, and then go.

We all step forward, our minds made up, and open the door. Music pours forth as the Clever Price struts free into the chamber, a slow, sweet jazzy number, full of joy and promise. It’s been a long time, friends. Not for us. It’s good to see you again, he says, looking almost through my eyes. I answer for us both, that I’m not sure I can say the same. What would you have of me? Dalish explains what has happened and that we would like him to fix it.

He thinks it was all a great trick, and then that we would need to bring back his father. Klyce says no, that he is the King now, and it is time for him to grow up. He asks for his powers back, that we took from him. We agree, but Remy insists that the games must stop. Klyce says his distructive ways led to this. And Dalish threatens to separate the worlds permanently if he cannot control himself. Alock begins speaking through Remy to explain the damage to the Fea Realm, and the Prince waves a hand, pulling him out and giving him back his own body. The Prince enjoys his games and is sad we don’t want him to play. Klyce points out that it’s a bigger challenge to play games that don’t kill people. The Prince seems to be catching on, that games are more fun if people can keep playing and if they want to play them. He agrees to our deal.

I ask the Green Witch if she is ready to return to him, to watch over him, and she is, returning to be with him forever. The others all give up their godly essences, though Nat is most reluctant. That feels good again. We have made him whole again, and perhaps our influences on his essence will give him something to think on. He promises to make things as they were, and to have fun games. He will see us all again. Remy asks what of the mana, and he says it will just be dirt now. He is late to a party, so he takes Aranea and Alock and disappears back to his world. Remy tries to eradicate the machines with a wish, but they are irrelevant now. The King takes his leave with Sir Hector, and we warn them to be wary of Wiest, for she may still be on the warpath for her father’s death.

There is much to do, and we head out of the old palace to begin the work. To guide, explore, and discover this new world we are creating.

I must find my parents, and then, I must go back to the Fae. There is so much to learn there, and someone has to keep an eye on The Prince.

What Have We Done?

We go around and around a few more times. What are we going to do with this ritual? Create an item? Return the power to the family? Give it to someone else? Mummy Dalish? Disapate it? Can we even do any of that? Can we do anything besides give it back to Great Grandpa Bones?

There’s a quick sidebar when we realize Dalish has been communicating with Rictus fairly regularly. Remy asks he not inform Rictus that he’s alive, since when Rictus tried to clone him, he shot himself in the head to stop him. I ask him not to tell Rictus about all the fae and god-stuff we’ve been into. Fortunately, he finds leaving things out of his report easier now, as he gives up more and more of his humanity. Ugh! Well, at least he promised not to tell.

We get back on track and Klyce gets everyone to quiet down. He asks Nat what she wants to do. She thinks the best plan right now is to bring Great Grandpa back, then have a good talking to him about what he’s done, and how he can make up for it to the people of the town. It’s her family, so we agree and set about performing the ritual.

It works. Screaming spirits stream back into the skull and his eyes light up once more. The cave feels empty once more, as Nat and the skull head into a catch up conversation. He still thinks it’s three years ago. She catches him up on clearing the mines then, and then what has been happening lately. She tells him she knows he sacrificed his own sister to the Green Witch, and that she came back and murdered townsfolk for revenge. He claims it was all to save the family because no one else could take care of the mines, no one was powerful enough.

He asks that we don’t tell Nat’s parents or siblings. The burden is heavy, and he doesn’t want them to bear it. We tell him that Stephen already knows, and then have another whole conversation about what happened with Stephen and his undeath. We all agree to keep it between us, and head back to the castle to get drunk and forget everything else for the night.

The next morning is the Harvest Festival. No one is in a very festive mood. It’s starting to hit me, as I get up for my morning prayers to the Dawnmother, that she’s probably very upset with me for what I did. I just, it doesn’t seem fair, they’ve had him locked up for centuries. I hated being locked up for a year and a half. I couldn’t just leave the door closed. We promised.

Before I get too far down the rabbit hole, the others wake up and join me down by the Green Witch. What are we going to do about the body? Well, we can’t take her out, but perhaps, the cremation could be part of the ceremony tonight? Nat agrees to talk to the family about that, and I stay by her side for the day, stuck in my cloud of self-doubt.

About midday, Marybeth brings me some pie and a cup of wine. Nat and Remy come with her. Nat says the family has agreed to making it a funeral rite for Beatrice. I remember that Remy went to check on Dalish and ask where he is. Remy tells me that Dalish stayed behind to work on his ritual, and poisoned himself on purpose as part of it. This has apparently left him temporarily paralyzed (we hope), but it was one of the better outcomes? Oh dear.

Then folks start going off about the gods and the primes and how we’re touched. I don’t really follow the conversation, until Marybeth starts shouting at Remy about the phrase “your gods.” Exasperated, I ask if he could please, for the sake of peace, just use the phrase “the gods.” He grudgingly agrees, but who knows how long he’ll remember it. I then turn the conversation back to wine and pie. Unfortunately, I make a random comment to Remy about his nobility and it turns into a lecture on his family history in the royalist nation.

Eventually, people wander off and leave me in peace until the evening ceremony. I had a quick trip up to the castle to change my green dress to a red one for the burning, but I leave on the green mask. Nat has dressed in proper funeral attire for her part, as well.

Nearly the entire town gathers for the burning of the Green Witch. Nat gives a wonderful speech about the troubled times, and the losses they have suffered. She explains a bit about the vengeful spirit, in vague terms, and our defeat of it. She then turns to speak of the strength of the community. She encourages them to remember the lives of the fallen. To celebrate them. This town has survived so much, and will continue to endure. It is time to celebrate the town, their friends, and the people they have lost. She then performs the funeral rites and lights the pyre.

As if on cue, the clouds part and stars shine down upon the bright burning blaze. There is even a moonbow across the square. The Green Witch is pleased as we all watch the fire burn. Then, the biggest celebration this town has seen in quite a long time begins. And continues well into the early hours of the morning.

The next day, Nat fires up a telepathic bond with the whole group so we can talk to Dalish. He tells us that Rictus sent him a message that we’re to return to New Gnosis for a new assignment within three weeks. Oh man! UGH! Dalish also tells us he doesn’t kow how long he’s going to be paralyzed for.

Well, we have three weeks to find the door and get back home then. We start pondering strategies. Scry? Marybeth’s Library? Remy Sends to Hank, who says he’s really bad and we shouldn’t release him. Remy thinks they’ll stand against us in what we hope to do. Well, what else is new? Klyce brings up logical thinking as an option. Where would they have put the door? In the temple below us? Or in Stephen’s old place where the Eye was found?

Wait, we have a quick spell. I ask Nat to scry before we go running off in all directions. She tries, but gets nothing. Okay fine, but it was worth trying. Next easiest is below the mines. So, we head down there. Klyce gives us all waterbreathing because we flooded it last time we were here. Nothing has changed, unfortunately, and Stephen’s is too far away to check. We say hi to Great Grandpa on the way out, and remind Nat to tell her parents we fixed things with him.

After that, Marybeth takes Nat and Remy to the Library in her necklace while I stand guard. Against what, I don’t know, but I always do that when she goes inside. When they pop back out, I ask what they learned. That the knowledge is forbidden, and there are tentacle monsters guarding it. Oh, okay, great. Well, makes sense the gods wouldn’t want us to know how to undo what they did. Remy wants to go back in and fight an army of tentacle monsters and demand answers, but we tell him he’d be on his own.

The rest of the guys are ready to give up and just let the door find us. Trouble usually does, and we don’t have a timeline on our promise. Can’t we just take it easy for a little while. I’m afraid of what the gods will do if we give them time, though, and we still have easy options. Or at least, Nat does. I ask her to do her Contact Other Planes thing, so she does. While she’s in her trance, the group goes into another argument about gods and power, and I tune out, mostly, watching Nat.

When she wakes up, she has some news, none super helpful, but it’s more than we knew before. The Door is deep and on Earth. But the nation or city is is beneath is unclear. If we are successful in opening it, we will create a “singularity” in reality which will crush into a single truth and then explode back out into many paths. I’m not sure what that means, but that’s what Nat said. At least it won’t end everything and send us all to Oblivion. That’s a good thing, right? Well, none of that points us anywhere, maybe something popped up on Rictus’ radar, and that’s why we’re recalled. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

Lore Drop of the Gods

We travel for a long time, or a short time, or no time. I really don’t understand. We walked and we walked through a beautiful, raw, and beautiful land. Duskward and Springward, according to our new friend. Toward the Temple of the Clever Prince. Nat is eager to get back to her body, finish off the nightmare monster, and finish the ritual to cleanse Old Town. But first, we have to get to the temple.

The group gets into a strange discussion with our guide about time and intention and distance and the past or future. I’m not entirely sure, I wasn’t listening. I was enjoying the quiet of the forest. No heartbeat, no terrifying throb of a world about to rip at the seams. Just solid nature. Just believe in where we’re going, and we’ll get there, I say.

Then the land changes. Darker skies, fungus and mossy plants. Alok has turned bluer in tone. He says it’s time to set up camp, and we dont’ argue. Dalish sets up our normal protections, dome, sanctum, dog and all. We decide to set up watches because it’s weird here, even though we’re safe inside the magic. And, I still think we would have been.

Nat and I are on second watch, the light doesn’t change here, so it’s hard to tell the difference. We notice the moss rippling. Then a long claw pokes up through it. Around ten strange figures claw their way out of the ground. They have five strange long arms, tipped with a pointy claw. They mill about, confused by a strangeness in their path.

Nat looks into their minds, and find sadness and fear. Digging deeper, she can only sense the question, where? They’re poking at the edge of the magics now, so we wake up the rest of the group. Which, honestly, I think might have been a mistake in retrospect, maybe they just would have gone away.

Everyone armors up, and then Nat and Klyce go out of the dome to speak to them. The creatures scream at the sight of them, like everything here has done. Except these don’t run, they immediately attack. Two grab up Klyce, and stabbing all of their arms through him, clutching him between them in the creepiest scene I’ve seen in this strange realm. I rush out and Thunderstep him away with me, tossing a tiny bit of my magic into him to get his bleeding to stop at least. Naturally, he runs right bak into the fray.

The others also come out of the dome, except Dalish, who is trying to keep the spells up. I pull up a Storm Sphere and spend the rest of the fight trying to zap these creatures off my friends. It takes a while, and Gerhardt has to save Klyce again, but we manage to put the creatures down. We then head back inside and finish our rest in peace.

We head on in the not-actually-morning, with Nat and Dalish interrogating Alok about the monsters. He doesn’t know anything about those, but promises that we have been able to avoid the things he does know about in this area. Eventually, we head out of the fungal forrest into a wheatfield, with the sunsetting on the far horizon. Above us, we can see the floating temple from our dreams.

We organize a few flying spells and polymorphs, then fly up to the entrance stairs. There are really creepy, melting statues on either side of the double doors. Alok says they are the guardians of the temple and will destroy everything if they sense a threat. Right, remember to control your thoughts everyone. I just want to go home. We head up, and Klyce gets a weird melty glob tossed at him, but they do no harm and we are able to enter.

The foyer has sweeping pillars and flying butresses, and the hint of chanting from somewhere far off. Two figures step out and give bows to us. They are faceless, but humanoid, and have strange growths out of their shoulders.

“We greet you, Breakers. What business in the temple of the uncrowned king?”

Alok prompts me to ask for an audience with the prophets, and so I do. They ask us to wait here for some time. And their emphasis is so strange on the word time, that I stare after them for a few minutes. Then the group goes off onto another esoteric discussion, and I tune out again. We’re gods, guys, why can’t you just let it go. We need to go home and save the Bones, why does anything else matter?

The figures return and say we have been granted audience, so we follow them through the temple. There are libraries and great halls, and a strange room full of fae gathered around a rather massive tree-looking individual who is unmoving. They take us to a set of double doors that has a red glow leaking through and bid us enter. We open the doors and enter, the glow gets brighter and brighter. Then a flash. Then Darkness.

We are in an open hall, with black roiling clouds beyond, and the setting sun is still visible, as well. A many-armed, and horned figure bows to us from the far end of the hall as we approach. He bids us welcome, again, as the Breakers, but does admit we aren’t actually the gods, though we carry their power. Dalish explains that we died and woke up in this place, and we came here seeking a way home. He says it may be possible for ones such as us.

Someone asks how the war started between our peoples. He says he was there, and the war was inevitable, but then decides to start from the beginning. This is the best I can retell his story, it was a lot to take in:

There is a spectrum from Perfect Frozen Order all the way to Utter Chaos. Our two worlds are linked, circling mirrors in the center of this spectrum. The Human world on the Order side, and this Fae world on the Chaos side. The human world has rules, like gravity, climate, time, and movement. The Fae world is far looser with those concepts.

In the long past, travel between the worlds was easy and frequent. And this caused significant friction between our two peoples, when chaos and order mixed. This friction lead to conflict and death. Starvation and dehydration are ridiculous rules to the chaotic fae creatures. How could humans blame them for eating whatever they could find?

So, there was war. But it was easy and good at first. But, restrictions breed creativity. Humans grew clever and began to master their world and its rules. They learned to use iron to hurt the fae, and to harness magic from the Fae world. The balance of power shifted until it was even. This was still a fun challenge, but then the Breakers came.

The Breakers were the gods of the world of order, the Human world. They gathered power their, followers, entire tribes and nations. They lead armies into the Fae world. They burned villages to the ground.

Someone interupted here, to ask if they were really gods, probably Remy, but maybe Dalish, I wasn’t really paying attention. The prophet asked: What’s the difference between a god ad a being with immense power? And then continued his story.

They came to the Fae world, and tried to learn the rules among the chaotic realm. But they couldn’t, they didn’t understand the chaos. It didn’t play by the rules they knew. So, they made their own rules. They seduced the Clever Prince. He was fascinated by the Human world. He fell in love with one. (The Green Witch by our stories.) At the end of the wedding, the Breakers killed Balor, the King of the Fae world. (The evil eye of a god we defeated.) Then, before the Prince could be crowned in his stead, they imprisoned him in a place outside of reality. Then, they locked the Fae world away. They have cursed the fae to live here, as they are, forever.

The Breakers did not like the uncertain and confusing time of the Fae world. They changed it so that time no longer flowed in its normal path. They took away their freedom to change. We toss out a few questions at this point. It’s confusing, because we saw beings of all ages in the village. He explains that while we are here, in the Fae world, no time is passing back in the Human world. He shows us a window into our world, nothing is moving. He says generations that have been born since that time were different than the ones before, but it is difficult to explain how.

Alok asks about the monsters we ran across. He says he hasn’t seen one of them in eons. They were weapons of war, created by the Breakers. They are known as the Sorrowful Ones. Nat asks about the oncoming darkness, but the Prophet suggests she try looking into the future here. She will find it impossible. He is not a Prophet in the future sense of seeing anymore.

Nat asks if peace between our peoples might be possible, but he repeats that it is inevitable. We are too different. What if we could return the Prince to you? He would give anything for that. Nat asks about the place beyond reality, what if it leaked into reality? He says it would do less damage here than in our world. What about time? Would you want time back. Yes, he would, but he has no idea how we could do that.

We ask if there is some way to get back through that window he opened, but he says not in any way he knows, but he can look deeper with a gift of blood. Dalish immediately steps forward, and the prophet creates a pool of darkness and whispers. As Dalish’s blood drips in, we can see the cave. All of our bodies are still there, with the monster standing over us, and Nat’s form surrounded by a black smoke. The prophet asks the dark whispers how we could return there. The vision focuses in on Remy’s eye, which is still twitching, and looks up at the pool, which then catches fire.

We explain about Balor and Remy’s eye, much to his shock and dismay. He suggests that we could make a connection to that from Balor’s burial mound perhaps. It is further duskward, Alok could show us the way. It might be possible, somehow, for us to travel on that thread of connection, back to our world.

A few more questions before we go. The big silent, unmoving tree, is their judge. He meets out justice, but is unable to function right now. Do the beings here age? Yes and No. We ask if people have been going missing and he acknowledges they have. We explain the mana machines, regretfully, and our attempts to stop them. He wishes we would leave, and never return, so we head out.

Spoilers: We’re Gods Now

The ritual has begun, but Natty is frozen. The look on her face is stubborn anger and she is muttering to herself. The inky black from attacks!

Remy shoots, but is immediately paralyzed as the monster goes after Marybeth. Klyce wades in to put himself between them, and Gerhardt rushes forward to try to help keep him standing. It isn’t enough. I call lightning down, but it isn’t enough. The monster strike Klyce down. Then Remy as he ran it to help. Then Gerhardt, as Marybeth runs away to shoot from a distance. I’ve been staying by Natty, who is still mumbling angrily to herself. The creatures strides up and puts me down.

Into Darkness.

And Silence.

Then green.

I start awake, surrounded by grass and trees. We’re in a forest clearing. Teeming with life and gentle sunlight coming through the boughs above. We all sit up, we’re all there. Except for Remy, and Nat. They must be back there? But no, I saw Remy fall. Klyce says he was right.

We fall into a discussion of each of the six gods having a claim on each of us. Except there’s seven of us and only six gods. Unless the evil eye god has claimed him. But the rest, we each have one. Not based on our own chosing, but theirs somehow.

The Green Witch has clearly chosen me, by the evidence of my rising in the mines. Klyce has the red aura of the Wandering Vengeance. Marybeth, by her library pendant, must be the Eternal Mind. Nat’s been worshiping the Stilled Tempest, but does worship matter? I’ve been worshipping the Dawnmother. Maybe Gerhardt, with his healing, is the Dawnmother, and that leaves Dalish with the Stoneman. We’re not sure about these last few.

Klyce interrupts the conversation for a sound in the quiet wood. A flute being played some distance off. Gerhardt starts patching us up as we head off to investigate the sound. The forest is beautiful, untouched wilderness. There is no pulse, no heartbeat here, just beautiful life.

Ahead, there is music and splashing. We see a small goat of a man playing a flute for frollicking nymphs in a spring-fed brook. Klyce calls out to him, and he screams in terror and falls over. The nymphs dive out of sight. I step forward to try and calm him, but he scrambles up and runs. So, I levitate him and try again.

We just need to find people, I tell him. Where are there beings who all live together. He calls me Queen, and says there is a place fifteen minutes past noonwards. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, so I ask if he will lead us there. He seems even more terrified, but grovels more about me being a Qeen, and if it’s what I really want.

As I begin to let him down, keeping my spell, just in case he runs again, a burned humanoid creatures climbs out of a tree. This upsets him greatly, but we quickly figure out that it’s Nat, who had to leave her body behind, in her Great-Great-Aunt’s care. I go to introduce her to our new friend and realize I have yet to ask his name. He says it is Baraduk Tine. When we ask about the beings that live where he is taking us, he mentions pixies, dryads, and eladrin. None of which make sense, really, to us. Thought, it seems, Nat’s take the body of a dryad.

We approach a settlement of odd humanoids with pointy ears and flowing hair. They move so gracefully, as well. Then, they begin to see us, and the younger folk stare uncertainly, while the elders take flight, just like Baraduk. I call out to them, but it doesn’t help. Frustrated, I call out for them to Stop!

And they do. They all freeze in place and simply stop moving. I call out to one of the younger folk close by, who had just been staring at us the whole time. I ask where we are, but this seems a confusing question. They ask who we are and how we got here, but we have no idea. I ask if their people have magic, if anyone here has powerful magic that can maybe help us. So, they take us to see Alock.

Alock is an older eladrin who is inside a mushroom house. He looks askance at our young friend, and when we ask for help, invites us in. I pause to tell the people they can move again, and they do, as we head inside and introduce ourselves. He’s not terrily happy about Nat’s situation, but she didn’t know she was killing a dryad, she just needed somewhere to go.

We ask him about everyone being afraid of us and running away. He said it’s because we’re gods, and we destroyed their world and sealed away their Clever Prince. Eons ago, their world was larger, ruled by The Clever Prince. He was tempestuous and they were wild things. But then, the six banded together and bound him into the space between for all eternity. He was the son of Balor, and was to marry the Green Witch at the wedding where Balor was killed. This is all very confusing, but asking questions doesn’t get us any closer to answers.

He tells us that The Clever Prince has a temple near here, that may have answers for us. Or danger. Or nothing. But it seems to be our best bet. He wants us to leave his village, and even offered to take us to the temple. He is afraid we’re there to destroy them all again. He takes us Duskward and Springward, whatever that means. Warning us that intention is the key to this place, and we must control our thoughts.

Moments pass as we walk, but not time. It is a strange sensation, as I watch the flower, grass, and trees. Alock again warns us to be careful what we will to be in this place. I can feel something here. Something not quite remembered from my dream when I was dead in the mines. I hate that feeling! It itches on the back of my brain, but I can’t catch it. Then there is crashing in the bushes, someone was thinking to hard about our most recent death.

The dark shadow man appears ahead of us. Everyone panics and begins throwing spells, bullets, and knives. I drop to the ground, and curl up into a ball. Nonononono! Then there is darkness again.

I wake up, to them telling me it wasn’t real. They just had to remember that it wasn’t real. Alock suggests we rest. Dalish magics up our dome and sanctums and we sleep. I dream of an eight-armed, flying temple! This place is so strange.

Gods and Beholders

Stephen takes us down into his basement, which looks more lived in than the upstairs, and then jumps down an eerily familiar hole. We all follow suit, finding ourselves floating down to an island in a dry lakebed beneath the mansion. It looks nearly identical to the one we visited below Bangoria. Only, this one is a bit busier in the section between the standing stones and the inner circle. It’s all still crumbling, and the statues to the gods are a bit different. When we step through the circle here, nothing happens, to our great relief.

The thrones here are empty, and Stephen tells us they were that way when he found them. We fill him in that there’s one under his old house, too. Moving towards the throne, we find a pit dug in front of the thrones. Ten feet in diameter, and about five feet deep. It’s about the size of the worm tree holes, when they dug them up! Oh Dawnmother!!! What if they have one, what if New Calay is infected? What if they plan to unleash it on our army or New Gnosis?

Stephen hands over a message he found here. It speaks of our army’s approach, and asks the mages here to relocate the “occulus.” Which doesn’t sound like a tree, but what could it refer to? I can feel the pounding of the earth here, and I jump into the hole as Remy takes a look at the magic around this pit. The beating gets louder and stronger as I sit in the pit, trying to reach for it, understand it.

They chatter above me, about the six god statues here. A tall black marble column covered in script of prayers to the Stoneman. An empty ring with faded, delicate tile work of a dancer with a skull for a head, with swords in one hand and scales in the other. A massive stone-carved brazier with stylized sun which says “drive away the night.” A squared off empty plot of tilled, dry, cracked earth. Benches around a massive cylinder carved with shelves, topped with an onyx brain. A broken shrine, with only feet remaining.

They’re nameing the gods and arguing, but I can only hear the pounding heartbeat get louder and louder. The ground starts trembling, rumbling and a monstrous mass of eyeballs bursts out of the pit beside me!

Scrambling back, I try to thunderstep away, but it doesn’t work, the magic doesn’t work! So, I climb up and out and circle away from the thing while it shoots rays from various eyes. Klyce tries to grapple it, but it’s floating, so it doesn’t do much except allow him to keep punching it. Gerhardt is the first to get a spell off, from outside the circle and to the side. Nat falls under a black ray, and Stephen beside her turns to stone. Rays, spells, bullets, and punches fly. Gerhardt finally manages to banish it, but not before Remy, too, turns to stone.

Stunned in the aftermath of the battle, I rush to Nat, but she’s gone, there’s nothing. I pray to the Dawnmother for help, but she does not hear me. Marybeth sobs beside me. Dalish comes over, puts his hands on Nat’s head, to try and bring her back like he brought Remy just a few days ago. It works, but this time, it was too much, and Dalish falls over dead himself. Marybeth’s sobs increase and I pray all the harder.

Beside me, Nat climbs out from under Dalish to find her brother a statue, and her eyes healed! She can see again, and is terribly disoriented by this fact. She starts praying to the Dancer for help, but he can’t save Dalish either. Nat decides she wants to have some tea and visions, to find out what we can do to fix this. We’re too far from the swamp witch, and Durance isn’t likely to give us leave to go back to her anyway. We insist on binding her hands so she can’t mindpalace us when high again, and she has her tea.

Her trance lasts for four hours. Klyce and I get Stephen and Remy back up through the hole in basement floor. Then we wait. But Nat awakes with no more info, except the usual horrible visions of death and destruction. We have a discussion about what to do and who to talk to. Perhaps Durance or one of the other mages can turn Remy back if we take him outside. Nat wonders if Stephen’s books can help fix Dalish and convinces Cerissa to take her to look through them. There is nothing to help the statues, and only spells to create undead creatures, not return life. I send a message to Durance that we’re staying the night here, and we all take rest.

In the morning, leaving Nat and Gerhardt behind with Stephen, because they won’t let us take him out, we head back to camp. Klyce carries Dalish, and I levitate Remy out. Marybeth explains the trip to the basement and below and the eye monstrosity. She explains that Nat and Gerhardt stayed behind to try and find more research into solutions. Klyce explains that we think they might have had a worm tree in the basement, and so the whole world is at threat again.

Lt Durance summarizes our crazy story back to us, to make sure it got it all. Then he tells us to go round up Nat, Gerhardt, and Stephen so we can head to meet up with the rest of the army and get the statues returned to flesh. We argue a little, but cannot disagree that it’s the only way to fix Stephen. So, leaving Remy behind, but taking Dalish with us, we head back to the house.

Nat pulls us all into a mind palace to talk. First item – Dalish. Do we bring him with us in a deep pocket spell, or do we raise him as a powerful undead thing? Arguement ensues, but due to his necromatic leanings, we all agree to let Nat do it. And most of us agree we do not want that should we fall. Second, Klyce asks Cerissa to let us take Stephen, as it’s the only way to fix him. We all swear to protect him with our own lives. She will give us a glyph we can use to get him to safety in an emergency. Third, what about New Calay, the burning, explosions, and the worm tree? Well, if the worm tree is there, it will be us, firebombing the city and rightly so. Everything settled, we pop back out to do some magic.

Nat wants to bring Dalish back as a mummy and asks Cerissa for help. She suggests linked overcharging, and when we all stare dumbly at her, she explains. After disparaging our education. Gerhardt, Cerissa, and Nat join together, sharing their mana and the burden of the overcharge. They wrap Dalish up in strips of cloth and cast their spell. He awakes, though undead, and says he feels better than he has in a long while. He agrees it was the right decision. We give him some mana, but he can’t use it. Marybeth gives him some of the mana from her weird wineskin, and that he Can use. Interesting.

Levitating Stephen, we head back to camp to explain to Durance what we’ve done this time. He is not terribly excited about it and tells Nat that she is now responsible for him and his behavior. Camp packs up and we march for the rest of the day before setting camp.

In the morning, a perfectly living Dalish walks right up into camp, where we are having breakfast with our mummy Dalish.