Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Journal - Trent - Entry 37
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The god Marduk was missing his tongue. I checked for illusions or metamorphosis but it really was the god. I radioed back to the group that I knew what we had to do and teleported us all back to the bottom of the tower – stone fragments, Marduk, Jescha and I. Steve, I discovered, had gone berserk while he was fighting and was currently contained by Pall Mall’s magic. The Nexus Maw was beaten into submission and was trying to flee. I had Pall and James come with Jescha and I, while McGreggor kept an eye on Steve and that thing. Then, we ascended the tower again.
The spiders were all dead. It seemed as if the Naked Man had destroyed them all as he descended the tower. This made our journey easy. Well, as easy as climbing enough stairs to reach the clouds twice can be. Thankfully, I could give myself and Jescha Superhuman Endurance and keep up with the rest of them.
It came to me that the squishy, worm-like tongues we had waded through in the Tower of Babel previously were not tongues, but the spawn of the Nexus Maw! It was more misdirection. And where better to hide the tongue of a god then in plain sight? We went back up to those rooms and found the god’s tongue easily enough. All the spawn had been destroyed by the conflagration I had inadvertently set off earlier. James, the son of a god himself, was nominated to place the tongue back in Marduk’s mouth. He did so successfully and we could feel the magic power suddenly emanate from the god, spreading across the land.
The god did not wake, though.
We brought him back down to the bottom and I placed him in my time-accelerated dimensional envelope. We figured if he needed to rest, he could do so in there both safely and quickly. The temporal portal was still there, hovering ominously and beckoning to us. But it seemed stable. Pall Mall was able to confirm that. Steve was calming down by now, coming out of his bloodlust and the Nexus Maw had fled. I had them help me piece together the Code of Hammurabi while we were waiting – I knew magic which could mend it back together, but it had to be re-assembled first. Once we did that the god Marduk appeared in front of us!
When we started to fill him in on what had occurred while he was “out,” Pall Mall introduced himself as *Hablar, the Speech-Giver." This wasn’t the first time the Sowki had called himself that. But the god took it for his name. Marduk remembered precious little about how he ended up the way we found him. He was saddened at the news we gave him, concerning Ishtar’s death and the other gods’ whereabouts unknown, but he was grateful to us for what we had done to restore order to the land. He offered us a boon, and I suggested maybe he could help us get Sonja back from Moomoo. Marduk agreed to arbitrate, but he could not just order her release.
Back in Moomoo’s workshop we tried to barter for Sonja’s freedom but Moomoo still insisted that she was the one who stole the crown of thorns from him, and the only way we could prove to him otherwise was to return the crown. Which I had on me in a dimensional pocket and I intended to keep it that way. But would I? Could I sentence Sonja to an unjust fate just to keep the crown out of Moomoo’s hands? I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. I offered him some temporal magic in trade but he held out for more powerful versions – the sorts of spells he had seen the god of magic, Enki, do. This enraged me! I offered him the very knowledge he sought to acquire from me last time we met (in his future), and here he demanded from a mortal the sort of magic a god would use instead! The scrolls I had invested my own energy in, I set them on fire with magic right then and there.
Then things got complicated. Because they can never be simple. Pall Mall decided to offer James in trade, as if James were his slave, in exchange not just for Sonja but also for a Dragon’s Eye gem and some magical knowledge. James of course argued against it, simply because he was his own man and not beholden to Pall Mall in any way. Moomoo threw in his own two credits as well. The three of them argued like children, right there in front of the god Marduk, who it was obvious was quickly losing patience. Pall Mall had reached the point where he was capturing Moomoo’s own servants and trying to use them to barter!
James finally brought the madness under control with a very surprising act. He announced that he would offer himself in trade for Sonja’s freedom. After consideration and despite Pall Mall’s concerns that he wasn’t getting everything he wanted, Moomoo accepted. Sonja was released and could barely walk. Marduk considered his debt to us repaid and left. As James was being led away the Sowki pulled out a scroll he had readied and cast the Superior Teleport spell, trying to spirit us all away!
I panicked! I still had something very important to do here and Pall Mall was about to ruin it! And for what? What was he proving? Less than an hour previously he was willing to leave Sonja behind forever, and just beg Odin for another Valkyrie servant. This would be what, his third one? Do Valkyries just grow on trees? We were only here to barter for Sonja’s freedom because I knew it wasn’t right for her to remain this man’s prisoner unfairly. And also, because I needed to address a very disturbing temporal thought.
Here’s the deal. I had come to grips with the idea that we were very likely in the actual past, despite how it violated everything I had ever been taught. Once I started theorizing a model of time which could allow for it, it wasn’t that hard to accept anymore. But, what was difficult to accept was that we had, , already met with Moomoo. Who did not act as if he knew us at that time. And while I could assume that it was merely luck which made the god forget his past encounter with us, I chose not to rely on luck. I needed to make sure that our meeting, in Moomoo’s future, would occur as I remembered it. After what happened in the bottom of the tower with the naked man, I didn’t dare risk creating any sort of temporal paradox.
And Pall Mall was just about to blow it. I grabbed Jescha’s hand and squeezed hard, trying to resist the wave of magical energy which attempted to move me physically in space. Jescha caught on and resisted as well. The magical rush was gone as quickly as it came, and when I opened my eyes Jescha and I were left alone with Moomoo and his minions. Pall Mall, James, Steve, McGreggor and Sonja had all been teleported away. To where I wasn’t sure – we were in another dimension, so they didn’t go far. Probably the entrance so they could leave.
Moomoo was already casting a spell and it resolved while I was still considering how to handle what I needed to do in light of what just occurred. A Mystic Portal appeared which showed the group at the front door. Pall Mall was arguing with James. Pall Mall stopped arguing and turned to look at the place where the portal was. He began casting a spell of his own as Moomoo pulled out his magical slingshot of annihilate. Pall’s spell resolved as Moomoo fired the ball of antimatter through the portal. I called to Moomoo and he turned to me, missing that his annihilate sphere was suspended in the Wall of Defense which Pall Mall had erected just in time. The group ran out of the doors while Moomoo was looking away.
I offered him this deal: The spell I had offered earlier, I would offer it again to him. All I needed from him in return was his promise that the next time we meet, far into his future, he pretended to not know us and treat us accordingly. He could not refer to these events to us at that time, and needed to act as if it was the first time he was ever meeting us. Moomoo thought about it for a moment, but only for a moment. He accepted this easy, simple deal and eagerly took the scroll I offered him.
It was then that Moomoo started talking to me idly about one of his projects. Something about a theory of positive and negative potential psychic energy and his attempts to separate the two. But, like before, the conversation went over my head quick. I excused myself and Jescha and he let us go, already absorbed in this project he was discussing. Jescha and I met back up with everyone else. We teleported back to the tower and were relieved to find the temporal portal was still waiting.
This is when I let the group know that Jescha and I would be using my own magic to travel back to the future. I offered to take Steve with us, because even though we would experience more of time, we would likely get back sooner, and that would let me send him home sooner. He readily agreed.
Everyone else wasted no time in stepping through the portal. Before I left with Jescha and Steve, we went back into the room where the Nexus Maw was. The room had a lot of treasure within it (I think I forgot to mention that earlier) and I grabbed the things I thought were most valuable. Including a couple of magical rune weapons. I figured I would be able to make the group some money with all this stuff. We left the tower then. Outside, as the sun was setting, I had Steve and Jescha both grasp my hands, and link their own as well.
I told Jescha this was an opportunity to stop anywhere in history she might want to visit, but she just said she wanted to go home as quickly as possible. I asked her then about a date that I wasn’t sure of – the first of two stops I intended to make. I asked her if she knew the date and time for the event I was considering and she told me it. Then I started chanting the Time Warp spell to advance us through the time stream, across the ages. Our first stop: The night the Ley Line energy exploded across Earth, bringing the Rifts and forever changing the world.
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