Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 34
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I thought I’d do the group a favor. We were doing all right for once; there were no major crisis happening that we needed to try and solve, no disasters to avert (except for the ever-looming plague of tongues), and no monstrous creatures to fight. At the moment, anyway. So, knowing there were still two locations left, I bid them all farewell and left to go explore one of them.
I figured it was a sort of reconnaissance. If there was any worthwhile reason for everyone else to come to this location, then I’d tell them about it and we’d all come. But if there wasn’t, then I could let them know the location was a bust – they could still all decide to check it out for themselves, of course. I mean, I know I’m not infallible.
I went to the last location in our “list” from the celestial map I copied off of the now-destroyed ziggurat ceiling. The coordinates led to a small seaside village near the sea – Jescha called it the “Caspian Sea.” I find myself relying so heavily on her knowledge of the past and its history and legends. Without her I’d be even more lost in this time and place. I don’t know what I would’ve done if she hadn’t been here with me.
We arrived and split up to explore the place. There did not appear to be any looming threat of doom hanging over the place. Just the opposite, in fact. Being here felt… peaceful. A sort of peace I hadn’t felt in a long time. Not forced upon my mind, either. It is tough to explain accurately so I’ll move on. The people here were friendly and welcoming. They called this place Hyrcania. Our strange clothes and weapons did not seem to bother them one bit.
And they weren’t affected by the Plague of Tongues.
As I walked around the place the townsfolk offered fresh fruits, nuts, meat… if the situation we were in wasn’t already extraordinary then this whole affair would have seemed suspicious. But it was all genuine, and I must admit, a very nice change of pace. My wandering (investigation) of the place led me eventually to an old sage’s house. The man inside reminded me of an older version of Lars… I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. I went inside.
When the guy saw me he waved his hand in front of him, at the space in between us. He said I would find what I seek there, and that he had waited many moons for me to come. I used magic to discern that in the air in-between us was a free-floating dimensional pocket. Reaching inside, I found a puzzling scroll, written in handwriting similar to my own, but slightly different. I could instantly tell the scroll was magically attuned to me. Reading this scroll was very disconcerting.
I stuck the scroll into this journal a couple of entries back.
The man there introduced himself to me as Zarathustra and he was a pleasure to talk to, even though he couldn’t offer much explanation for the scroll or dimensional pocket. Just that someone like me had left it there so that someday it could be retrieved by the right person someday. Zarathustra also said that he was there to point me in the right direction, and that this other person said I would then know what to do. There was something special left for me as well, but precautions had been taken to ensure it didn’t fall in the wrong hands.
I talked with Zarathustra for a while. He got very philosophical; talking about something he invented called Zoroastrianism. His idea that all of creation existed to oppose Chaos resonated with me though. He had come to believe that this conflict of Order versus Chaos involved the entire universe and even humanity had an active role to play. When I asked him why this place seemed to calm and untouched by Chaos Zarathustra replied that instead of thinking about this place as a “where,” I should think about it as a “when.” He then told me that in this place there was no Chaos or Plague of Tongues, because here we had already vanquished those things.
He then told me that my companions were powerful but we all did not walk the same path. Difficult decisions would lie ahead of us and Zarathustra did not envy their inevitability. He directed my attention back to the dimension space, where I could now see another dimensional envelope lay just beyond. Before I entered it Zarathustra told me that this place was once a land known as Asia Minor, and that I was now Seated at the Court of Tarot in that Time.
I will not recount the details of the trials within the maze of Dimensional Envelopes. Suffice to say, whoever it was that anticipated my arrival here knew well how to create a dimensional labyrinth full of misdirection that I would have the skills and knowledge to solve at this time. Near the end of this trial, however, I did discover the first treasure, skillfully hidden in a place only I would have thought to have looked.
A journal, identical to my own, filled with 137 entries in the same, almost similar to my own handwriting that the scroll was in. A quick browse of the journal showed the entries were different than my own, and it quickly became apparent this journal was written by an alternate version of myself, who, with different companions at first and then alone, experienced the minion war in another dimension.
And it seems, by the end of his entries, he was quite possibly stark raving mad.
That’s not necessarily a fair assessment. I securely stashed the journal amongst my own things so I could give it the proper attention another time. As I reached the last room of this challenge I found the second treasure – a staff with many pieces missing, which for its power used a trapped Time Elemental. Just by holding it, I could feel that it normalized the flow of time around me. A powerful artifact indeed, potentially even more powerful if the pieces to it could be found. With no more challenge to overcome in the Dimensional Spaces I left, going back to Hyrcania.
I bid my farewell to Zarathustra and left to find Jescha so we could leave and re-join our companions. I had several epiphanies within this place, and within the dimensional envelope maze. Order and Chaos, Good and Evil. Forces opposed but not related. The interactions between them presided over by Time, which was perhaps the board on which this game was played. But what does this mean for the Minion War? I’ve only just now begun to suspect that the looming Minion War may not be the real threat, but may instead be merely a distraction set in motion to prevent anyone from seeing the REAL threat.
A war spanning the entire Megaverse, instigated and set loose upon all the dimensions for the sole purpose of concealing something bigger, something grander, something… worse. I almost wish I didn’t realize this. Does this now give me the responsibility to deal with it, whatever “it” is? CAN I even do anything about it?
Too much to think about, although this place was very conducive to thinking. Still, I put it aside. Without more knowledge, there was no way to know if I was onto something or not here. I located Jescha, very peacefully getting along with a group of the villagers. I told her it was time we met back up with our friends and she very clearly reminded me that they were MY friends, not hers. I nodded to her then opened up a portal so we could skip back to MY companions.
When we got there, we missed a LOT. Apparently McGreggor awakened something powerful and scary that was sleeping deep beneath the salt lake he was diving in. They all ran in a cave to escape it, only to have a fight for their lives against some Chaos demons. They were in bad shape. Steve’s suit had never looked more hurt than it did now. Everyone was nervous because there were some night Chaos Demons deeper within the cave, and soon night would fall. With the group in such bad shape, they didn’t trust leaving the cave and fleeing yet.
That’s when I played another card from my hand. I offered to let them all rest in one of my time-accelerated dimensional envelopes. I re-created it not too long ago, and didn’t intend to let anyone know I could even DO this. Thankfully everyone just took it for granted, and we went in there to rest for 24 hours. About 7 minutes passed in the real world by the time we returned. There were still some slivers of daylight out and now that everyone had taken a chance to recover, we felt confident we could leave and head towards the next point on the Celestial Map.
I didn’t tell anyone where I had gone, and they accepted my vague answers to their questions trying to find out. I decided that Hyrcania itself was a gift that would have to be earned by them. I had the feeling that if the place really was disjointed from time, then I could go back there whenever I felt like it, no matter what time I was in! A gift almost as valuable as the two other treasures I had found, and not something one just casually gave away.
We left the cave and headed to that other location unmolested. I guess I didn’t need to show them my time-accelerated personal dimension after all.
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