Campaign of the Month: May 2014
Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 38
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I don’t think there’s a convention for “Before Post-Apocalyptic” in our current calendar. B.P.A.? When I’ve seen dates from before 1 P.A. it’s either been “so and so many years before P.A.” or using the calendar years as was customary from before the coming of the Rifts.
So whether you say it as “298 years before P.A.,” or “the year 2098 A.D.,” it was in that year which I dropped us out of the timestream. It was 11:45 in the evening on December the twenty-second.
According to Jescha, about 15 minutes before the world ended, and was reborn.
We waited on a hillside overlooking a city in North America. It was near where Lazlo is today, but I don’t know its name. Midnight came and went. There was no warning, no premonition. About 30 seconds after midnight is when it happened. The Leylines surged right up out of the ground miles into the air, brilliant and overflowing with energy. I could feel Rifts popping open everywhere within my sensing range, more than I could count. The Ley Lines seemed to grow larger, brighter, and more powerful by the second.
I can only describe what happened next as some sort of shockwave, but it was nothing physical. Rather the magical energy surging into the world hit us and passed through us effortlessly. In less than a moment Jescha and I were filled to near-bursting with as much magical energy as we had ever held before. It was strangely euphoric… The magical energy was so pure, so great… Strangely there was no pain at all associated with this, not like in our modern day. Somewhere in the back of my mind was the knowledge that all this energy was caused by the near-simultaneous ending of billions of lives all at once. I was basically sitting here reveling in the eudaemonic energy born of their deaths.
While I was filled with all this power and reveling in it, that knowledge wasn’t the only sobering thought which came to my mind. All this power, there was enough here at this time to do… well, just about anything. What would happen if someone used it to their advantage? How could all this energy be harnessed? To what end? What if these lay line eruptions and storms and rifts… what if they had been been harnessed or if the rifts’ randomness had been intelligently designed and devised to do something specific… or go somewhere specific?
Maybe it was my imagination but I could hear a whisper in my mind, like a splinter, and it repeated those words we heard repeatedly in Ancient Babylon: “We are Chaos… Chaos is strong…”
Before I could think more on this Jescha got my attention and reminded me that we should leave, before something bad happened to us. I came back to my full senses then. I said out loud to both Steve and Jescha that this world’s fate has come and gone – it was already in our past and we needed to leave now, keeping it there. But really I said it for my own benefit. I grabbed onto the two of them and began casting the spell to travel forward again. It was much easier now then ever, with all this energy running rampant.
In the span of eternity our visit here wouldn’t even rate as a heartbeat. Less than 20 minutes total we were there, then, but I will never forget those last few moments. The eruption of the leylines. The unrivaled power which spread throughout the world like wildfire, forever changing everything it touched. The never-ending sensation of Rifts opening up… everywhere, spewing chaos into this world. But worst of all, most unforgettable of all, were the screams which started echoing up to us from the city below. The people in panic as they began to realize that their world was ending – while our world began. It was with a heavy heart that I finished casting that spell, leaving these people behind to face their their fate. I knew there was nothing that we could do now, at this time, to help anyone here. Their fates had already come and gone.
But I held onto the hope and knowledge that we could go somewhere else, to a place and time where we could take action and make a difference. The spell finished and we three slipped back into the timestream.
I brought us out in 98 P.A.. This was the year that I left with Tr’nalith to begin my Temporal Wizard training. The land and surroundings resembled more like we were used to now. Still, we took a few moments to collect ourselves before we carried on. This was the second “stop” I wanted to make on our trip back to present day. I discussed with Steve and Jescha what I intended to do – I was going to take them with me into the Coalition ’Burbs, but in an alternate dimension. I assured Jescha it was very much like the Coalition of this world. She understood and began prepping herself, hiding away her magical weapons.
I explained the Coalition’s anti-human sentiments to Steve and he prepared himself as well. We needed to make sure we didn’t draw the attention of any passing Coalition patrols. Though we were close to present day, we were still in our past, and it was important we didn’t change anything. This was just a fact-finding mission. I tried to open a portal to near the house I remembered in that dimension in the ‘Burbs but I encountered that “resistance” again. It wasn’t as strong though. I thought maybe I could break through it, but instead I decided to wait until after I knew my past self had left the dimension with Tr’nalith. We were close to that time, it wasn’t a long wait.
As soon as I was sure the moment had passed I tried again. This time the portal resolved without incident. We walked through the portal into this eerily similar reality. We arrived in the shadows of an alley I remembered, within view of my childhood home. We were in time to watch Lars leave the house and walk away. Before he went out of sight I grasped my Dragon’s Eye gem on a fearful hunch. Sure enough, what I saw was a Deevil Archfiend wearing a rune-covered robe. He looked almost exactly like the Baaz I remembered, and my heart sank.
I had hoped that at least the Lars I remembered from this time and place was real, and not an illusion created by an evil being trying to mold me in some way. This… bothered me more than I expected. Lars was the closest thing to a father I had growing up. ’Drew, as the oldest of us, did his best but once I met Lars I had felt.. well, like finally had someone I could look up to. To say my heart sank at this revelation is an understatement.
A light turned on in the house, and even from this distance I could see clear enough through the window to recognize my own mother. Some noise had woken her – likely ‘Lars’ leaving the house. I saw her leave her room and then the light in mine and ’Drew’s room turned on. I couldn’t see anything in that room, and we were too far away to hear any sound, but after a few moments the light in that room went back off. I saw her enter her room again, more slowly than when she left. She looked tired, her tear-filled eyes already red from crying. She sat back down on the bed and turned the light off.
Thinking back I didn’t even recall specifically if she had been crying that day. All the days after the Coalition told us about ‘Drew blurred together in my memory. I can’t remember a day when my mother wasn’t crying during that time, though I was so self-absorbed at the time I really didn’t pay close attention. All I had on my mind was the promise of learning magic so I could give the Coalition some measure of “payback.” As if anything I did would change what happened to my brother, or make my mother smile again.
It’s amazing how fresh all these feelings seemed to me, recalling them that night in that darkened alley in view of my childhood home.
Jescha and Steve didn’t seem to notice the effect this visit was having on me, emotionally. Or maybe they did, and they kept quiet about it out of respect. Either way, once I composed myself and said it was time to see what I came here to see, they simply nodded in agreement. With a deep breath I calmed myself and told them we would be doing a series of temporal ‘hops.’ They just needed to bear with me while I tried to feel out when the event I needed to see would occur.
I moved us forward, first by years, then by months, then by days. It didn’t take as long as it may have sounded – I was identified future points that I couldn’t reach and I was carefully working my way towards that point. My childhood home stayed in view during this time but after the first jump of years it was deserted, empty. I missed any chance I might have had to talk with my mother. To tell her I was okay, to tell her how much I had missed her, or to tell her that I was sorry about leaving her all alone. But this was the past, my own past, and if I had tried to any of that what might I have changed? Nothing? Everything? I knew so little about the repercussions of travelling into the past that I didn’t dare risk anything. Especially not there, in that time.
I inched us forward in time to reach that moment when the dimension became un-reachable. Why? How? These were the answers I had hoped to find. What I found instead has become just another of the many mysteries I have encountered.
Suddenly the world was bathed in a blinding white light more brilliant that ten suns. It lasted maybe the span of a heartbeat then was gone, leaving an all-consuming blackness in its wake. Everything engulfed by this blackness disappeared. Even sound, light and gravity were consumed by it. Nothing remained behind as it encompassed the entirety of the world.
This was the way my world ended. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
I was already casting to open the portal that would send Jescha, Steve and I back to the dimension we had come from. From the moment the darkness began swallowing everything, I was casing my spell, hoping to escape before this oblivion overtook us as well. There was no time to do anything else – no way to save anyone, no way to see what caused this. I knew we would encounter something on this day, at this moment, but I never dreamed this! The moment the spell resolved we fled, back the forest near Lazlo where we had left nearly six years ago, and would leave from in another six years.
I didn’t know what to say. Steve and Jescha, they may have said some things, but I don’t know. I was too much in shock to hear it if they did. I cast the Time Warp spell on us three for the final time, to complete our journey through time and let us arrive in the moment after we had left (unknowingly) for Ancient Babylon, in March of 110 P.A..
Back in our present day I gave Steve three Dimensional Portal scrolls – one for him to use now, and the other two to use in order to travel on his own, in case I wasn’t able to open up a return portal for him for some reason.
This was after I spent a few hours meditating and sorting through what I had recently brought us all through. It was a lot to take in, but Jescha and Steve seemed to be handling it well. Maybe their ignorance was bliss for them. Who was I to spoil that?
Jescha said she would wait for me here, and not follow me to Steve’s home dimension. I needed to go with him so I could get enough of a “feel” for the dimension to be able to open up portals for him in the future. He warned me to put all my metal either in a dimensional space, or leave it behind. I chose to keep it with me in a dimensional space. He offered me some sort of breathing mask to wear which he felt would keep me safe from the plague that made metal deadly to the denizens of his dimension.
Once we were ready he read the scroll and opened a portal which led from our world to his. I went through with him and we soon arrived at the island sanctuary where he was from. His world was not dissimilar to our own – it too was in ruins from a past apocalyptic event. The one big difference I felt right away was the low level of magic. Even in Ancient Babylon I felt more magical power than I did here. It made me very uncomfortable. I feared how weak my magic would be if I needed to rely on it – this was definitely a dimension I would be leaving as quickly as possible.
Steve brought me to meet the members of his “house,” and he was greeted with a heroes welcome. Steve told the story of what happened to him, and what he had been through, to the assembled members of this monstrous clan. I knew, from Steve’s discussions about his home, that every being I saw here was “human,” but it was tough to believe as I looked at some of them. As a stranger I was given a wide berth, for which I was grateful. After what seemed like forever (though not really all that long), I was introduced to the man named Gary.
He was a strong and weathered man, who I suspected was younger than he looked – it seemed to me as if he carried a great deal of worry on his shoulders. I was able to discuss with him Steve’s role in our recent “adventures” and the dire straits the entire Megaverse was in. Gary accepted what I had to say and invited me to stay for a while. But I had had enough of this dimension by then. I felt like I had been here long enough to be able to return, or at least open a portal back here again, and I excused myself in order to leave and return to where I had come from. I still had a lot I needed to accomplish. I reminded Steve that I would create a portal for him to return at our agreed-upon date and time, but if I did not he had the means to do so himself with those scrolls. With that we said our goodbye’s for now.
Everyone gave me room as I started casting the spell to create a small portal back to the dimension we had come from. The magical energy did not come easily, and even with my technique to make gathering the energy easier it was still tougher than I expected to force enough energy into the spell to complete. It was an exhausting effort! The people who had gathered stayed far away from me as I did this, with some of the few children who had gathered being held tightly by their parents. When the portal opened there was a collective gasp heard from those assembled.
I could see Jescha on the other side of the portal just resting on the ground, where we had left from. Even though she couldn’t see the portal she turned to face it anyway due to her own magical senses. I bid a general goodbye and stepped through the portal, closing it behind me. If all went well we would see Steve again after several months.
We walked back to Lazlo slowly, Jescha and I. The experiences of the last several months was weighing heavily on us both, and this trip through time to return home did not make our thoughts any lighter. When the city was in sight Jescha suddenly spoke up. She professed that she cared deeply for me but for felt alienated right now from me and those I chose to keep company with. She said to me that she needed her “space” right now to really think about our relationship. I was speechless – not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I didn’t think anything I had to say would’ve mattered. She promised to keep in tough and see me again soon though. Small consolation.
That catches this journal up to today, more or less. I’ve confirmed that my companions haven’t returned yet, though I expect them beck in just a little under six months from now. I have a list of things I intend to start using the guild resources to look into, not to mention other stuff I need to take care of as well. I have given myself a six month head start. I don’t know what the cost is, if any, yet for what I’ve done. But as long as I can make this upcoming time matter then it will all have been worth that price.
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