Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 35
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I’m scrambling to catch up here. I told Steve I was going to take a “long way” back home, but it would get us back to our present day before the portal would. I offered to take him with me and Jescha – I knew once we arrived I’d be able to finally keep my word and help him to get home. Steve eagerly accepted and even though I told him it was the LONG WAY home, he only had so much patience. Such an interesting trip! But I had no opportunity to write until now, when I made it back to Lazlo finally. Luckily. In six months, I’ll know with certainty if everything I’ve deduced about time travel and our adventures in the “past” is accurate. But enough of my complicated theories – I didn’t give myself a 6 month head start so I could spend all that time writing in this book!
Where I left off, I had left with the rest of our companions (except for Sonja, she was still being held by the Babylonian god, Moomoo) to what would turn out to be the last location from the star map that we bothered to visit. It turned out to be the city of Uruk, the home of Gilgamesh! The whole city looked pristine, the people looked like nothing was wrong with the world, and there did not appear to be the plague of tongues.
It was all a very powerful temporal illusion. We noticed that no-one even glanced at us, and trying to interact with these people finally clued us in that they weren’t really there, and were not just illusions, but temporal illusions! I’m intrigued as to how such an illusion could be created over an area as large as this city – I may look into that someday. But it was basically an illusion that replayed images of the past… like if I had combined my spell for Retro-Viewing (why do I still call it that? Old habits, I guess) with an enormous Illusionary Terrain spell, and set it on “auto.” Now that I’m thinking about it a little more, it may not be as difficult to recreate such an effect as I initially was thinking…
In the center of the city we found monsters, demons, deevils, all manner of creatures strung up like trophies. The demon and deevil bodies were still in this world, it seemed, due to a small dimensional effect attached to each of them. Some sort of Dimensional Anchor? Would it prevent dimensional travel altogether on a living specimen? Maybe it was some sort of tag, or possibly a combination of both! Oh shit, I don’t like that thought one bit. James was looking at the bodies and determined that they were all killed with a massive, single arrow. That hardly seemed possible to me, but the evidence was right before us. I really wished these things were illusions too.
The center of the city had a Ziggurat, similar to the one in Babylon (the first city we visited). We cautiously climbed its stairs and explored the throne room. It was empty but there was a door behind the throne – guarded with some magical wards! Pall Mall cancelled them with his own magic.
I love watching his overconfidence. Someday, Pall Mall, that will be the end of you. I hope I’m there.
That was an oddly dark thought. Where did that come from? My mind doesn’t always feel like my own these days, and more and more it troubles me. I need to hurry this up and get to my research. So much to do! I must record all these events though – even if my companions and I fail in what we are doing, there has to be a record of what we did, so that if anyone has an opportunity to re-experience these events they can at least known what NOT to do. Very much like the Future/Alternate me did.
Throne room. Door. Cancelled the wards, we entered, and the place was filled with treasure. But it was all an illusion too. I had had enough of this damn illusion. I cast a Time Barrier over the area, as large as I normally could, and as I suspected it negated the illusion under its effects. It also left me vulnerable, as that spell will do, but was I more or less vulnerable than when I was surrounded by illusions everywhere? I decided less, and that’s why I cast it.
Strung up in the room was a hairy, naked, beastly man who appeared very near death, but was neither alive nor dead. Suspended animation, I realized. Cancelling the suspension would likely mean this man’s death though. James had some inspiration on where to find some plant with a ridiculously long name (“How He Who Once Was Old Becomes A Young Man Again”) that would cure this guy, and he believed this guy was also Enkidu, the best friend of Gilgamesh. Jescha agreed that he fit the description. But it doesn’t seem like she’ll be with me anymore if we go through something like this again. I’ve already decided I’ll have to get some sort of portable electronic historical database – that’s on my “to do list,” a list that seems to only ever keep growing.
I really got ahead of myself there.
All right, I believe I’ve calmed myself down. So much information that I just couldn’t get out fast enough, it felt like my head wanted to explode. Nothing some calming meditation couldn’t fix.
James had McGreggor take him away, and they disappeared in the blink of an eye! McGreggor, it turned out, had found some beaded necklace that let him warp space when he moved. While we waited Pall Mall and I went outside to look at the area of the city no longer hidden by the illusion. The place was deserted and showed signs of rioting and chaos. We weren’t surprised. What did surprise us was two half man/half scorpion creatures stringing up some new bodies on the racks and inspecting others. Pall Mall and I tried to talk with them a bit but all they talked about was a great hunter or stalker that they worked for. They claimed he was on some sort of “great hunt.” They started getting very wary of us so we let them be. By that time, James and McGreggor were back with this miracle plant.
We broke the spell on Enkidu and fed him the plant. Instantly he began improving and recovering. In a short while he was conscious and once we convinced him to talk with us, basically gave us his version of his actions and death from the tale of Gilgamesh. But we did learn something interesting – his wife, Shamhat, turned out to be the dead woman that we discovered the accursed crown of thorns on! That meant the spirit within the crown was her as well. James offered to let his body be possessed by the crown again, and I re-loaned him the spare Deevil amulet so that husband and wife could be reunited again, briefly, to say goodbye.
They treated it more like a reunion and a honeymoon. It was amusing to me that James’ body, in this feminine form, was about to be made to go through with this act AND it would be his own fault for volunteering. Actually, just thinking about it now, it’s STILL funny to me. BUT I was pretty sure that letting Shamhat fuck Enkidu while she was using his body probably wasn’t what James intended when he volunteered. I know it wasn’t what the rest of us expected. I used the crown to switch them back before Enkidu went too far. James righted his form and Enkidu was pretty pissed at this weirdness. As if we didn’t explain to him we were letting him speak to his wife. Wasn’t this supposed to be the birth of civilization, this place? The way Enkidu acted it was like he was an animal. We told him that Shamhat’s real body was dead, and her spirit was still stuck in the crown. He left us then, to go mourn for the death of his wife.
I wish there had been a way to get this innocent woman’s spirit out of the crown. To give her her life back again would have been best, but at least to free her spirit without having to cost another innocent their own freedom… this crown is a terrible item. I certainly agree with Steve – Moomoo should never get this crown back. I can’t even imagine the havoc it must have caused here, in this time, before we even arrived.
After Enkidu left James realized that he thought he knew the identity of this “Hunter” that had strung up all these beings in the area, plus Enkidu – he said it had to be “Orion,” some great hunter that he also said was hunting Artemis in the present day. I guess if this Stalker is going to spend the next couple thousand years practicing, then good luck to Artemis.
This abandoned city though, it was a sobering thought once we really let ourselves consider it – Chaos was only spreading and getting stronger here. The plague of tongues was only going to keep running rampant throughout this entire time – and then what? If we really were in the past, what would be the consequences of that? We all decided that maybe it was finally time we headed back to the Tower of Babel and see if there were more clues there (maybe some sub-levels we neglected to explore) that we missed which would allow us to end this plague.
Good. That also meant the secret of Hyrcania would stay mine for now.
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