Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Story - Trent - Falling Apart
This story takes place just before the conversation noted in the adventure log Zander Joins the Frey.
Trent Logan walked down the street, careful to make sure he wasn’t followed by… anyone. He deliberately avoided thinking specifically about the group of human supremacists that were the dominant power on this continent – he was certain they were after him, he hated them for what he did to his brother, to his family, and just thinking about them lately gave him powerful headaches. He ducked in and out of a few doorways and ran through a couple alleys, before he finally arrived at the Lazlo branch of the Magic Guild.
He was only fairly certain he hadn’t been followed. But he had little time for that, dirty as he was. Before going inside he cleansed himself with magic in order to clean the grime from the last hour away. Satisfied, he took a few swigs from a flask he kept easily accessable within that cloak that Jescha gave him. The alcohol sharpened his senses, making him more aware of the threats in the area. It made him wary of those currently around him, and he finally entered the building.
This wasn’t the first day Trent found himself at the Magic Guild. His recent travels with his companions proved just how little they knew of where they needed to go. They had finally reasoned out that they needed to visit the major nexus points around the world to deal with the Deevil machines, but how many there were and how to get to them was knowledge none of them currentlyhad.
So Trent had been spending much of his time at the Magic Guild, collecting this information. He had a dimensional pocket full of hand-drawn maps and scrawled with notes which helped to piece together this information. It had been a slow-going process so far. He found himself having to spend a lot of time browsing, researching, schmoozing with other members, constantly consulting with local authorities on ley line cartography, and comparing all the home brew maps being created against what could be found for maps of the world.
It was enough to drive a mage to drink! But slowly he was piecing together this information. Since the guild was so fragmented (different branches did not deliberately talk with each other or share knowledge), it made the task even tougher without performing extensive travel.
During this time at the guild Trent was exposed to all manner of wizards, mages, ley line walkers, and various other classes coming and going about their business. While some were seemingly sane and normal, Trent noticed more than a few that made Crazies look sane. But with enough observation even the “normal” seeming ones displayed little issues to the observant voyeur. What became clear to Trent was that no-one was wholly unscathed by this plague, or taint, or epidemic on Potential Psychic Energy.
Even BahtMitzvah, the local Gnome woman in charge of this guild branch, had previously expressed her growing concerns during a previous visit. She confided in Trent that she felt like someone was purposefully targeting her customers and member-base. Trent kept his mouth shut, because of course he knew that in a way, she was right. She said to him that day, “Those Brainiac Psychos in Psyscape aren’t being singled-out! What gives?”
She then pulled Trent closer and looked furtively before continuing, “I’ve heard that Nxla’s back in town and he’s capitalizing on this supreme-opportunity for his Harvesters.” She looked at Trent as if expecting a certain reaction from him that he wasn’t sure he could give. A moment later, she just broke out in song:
“Nxla’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble (Hey-la-day-la Nxla’s back)
You see him comin’ better cut out on the double (Hey-la-day-la Nxla’s back)
You been spreading lies that I was untrue (Hey-la-day-la Nxla’s back)
So look out now cause he’s comin’ after you…”
He avoided encountering the Gnome woman again, and today was shaping up to be like any of the other. Trent spoke to quite a few people in the archives as he worked on this, and today’s observations were no different than usual. Of course, Trent was sure at least someone in this room was a Vanguard or Coalition spy, but he wasn’t sure. And there was that headache. It made Trent feel dirty again, and he cut off the person currently talking to him in order to walk away and Cleanse himself again. Did that man in the corner just give him a shifty look? Trent kept an eye on him while he conducted his daily dose of research.
Even though Trent and his companions were (to his knowledge) the sole possessors of the rare and valuable knowledge of what was going “wrong” with magic, in his time and exposure to all these different mages he had picked up that most of them know… something is going on. They feel as if something has targeted magic-users across the Megaverse. Although the instances cited and repeated from Phase World, the three galaxies, and other dimensions, was rare compared to the tales from Rifts Earth, they still filtered in as gossip and rumors. Gossip and rumors Trent knew to be true, but couldn’t dare tell anyone. How could they? Who would believe them?
Today, oddly enough, Trent ran into Korbin Slayne – well, it was more like Korbin ran into him. He flashed Trent that winsome smile whigh the womanizing Elf was known for. When Trent walked over to the Elf, he found Korbin was delving deeply into books on the four elements, Elementals, nature, and the disparities between “Eastern” elements and “Western” elements. Disparities Trent himself had no idea about. He was surprised to see Korbin reading any books at all – many of the guild members Trent met recently were actually illiterate, and especially none of the Warlocks he had met up until now could read.
Without looking up Korbin began speaking to Trent. “Between you and me, Doctor Logan, I don’t know why my sister is so moist with anticipation for your magical addition to our techno-wizardry team. We have been getting on famously for far longer than you’ve been alive.” He said that with a haughty, condescending nod to Trent’s human heritage. Now he looked up from his book at Trent. “Hey, would you enlighten my elemental conundrum? I’m attempting to delve a little deeper into my magical studies…” he held up his hands as he noticed Trent’s odd look.
“Please – just because I’m a Warlock doesn’t mean I’m illiterate. I owe my power to a parentage of Warlockry – Elemental Air – but I’m not too proud to admit that there are other forces at work in the Megaverse. What’s the expression you silly little humans use? Something about the nose to spite the face? Regardless, I find it fascinating that here I am in the Lazlo Magic Guild, researching my craft, and who should I run into? None other than the Talented Doctor Logan! The only human to have ever gotten Jaena’s panties into an untwistable tangled knot. Fancy that! I bet you’re wondering if I’m insane.”
“No,” Trent thought silently to himself. “I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that.” Trent took that moment to look back over his shoulder at that person he saw earlier with the “shifty look.” The creature was nowhere to be found, and that worried Trent. Who did he pass his mission to? Korbin continued, not waiting for Trent’s response. Or maybe interpreting Trent’s silence as an answer.
“No more than usual I presume. I’ve been wondering the same about you.” He needed to stop to catch his breath. “You haven’t stopped looking over you shoulder since we met. Expecting company?”
“I’m not so much expecting company, as I’m trying to make sure I’m not surprised by the sudden arrival of Coalition troops,” Trent told him. His dull headache flared, and in response he took out his flask to drink a few more sips. He looked around again as he put the flask back, then gave Korbin his attention while he used magic to Cleanse himself once more. This corruption on magical energy just made Trent feel so dirty all the time, he could barely stand it.
Korbin responded, “I thought not. We’re a long way away from Coalition territory, my friend. And… was that a flask I just saw you take a swig from? Hah! Please, if you wring your hands clean once more I’m going to have a nervous break-down.” He paused thoughtfully and tapped his chin. “On second thought, I think I’m quite due. It’s curious, is it not? The East is beholden to five elements: Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Metal. The west is beholden to four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. They overlap, no? This is perplexing for a Warlock as we owe our vast, megaversally-uncontainable reality-shattering, element-commanding powers to supernatural forces that inhabit our very existences.”
Trent noticed a shadowed man, wearing a gas mask, watching them. He made a mental note to keep an eye on this new development while Korbin continued his excited rambling. “I propose the preposterous! There are elements beyond our knowledge and they have been HIDDEN from us even as they have been HIDDEN from our Eastern brethren! Earth, Air, Fire, and Water – the four we know, plus Wood and Metal – that’s six. What about the Aether, the Empyrean? What about Time? Doctor Logan, you’re no temporal wizard – I challenge you to prove that you’re NOT a TEMPORAL WARLOCK!”
He paused for dramatic effect, then continued. “I say now we’re onto something! Let us not forget the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary… no, there is far more to the celestial Megaverse beyond the Terrestrial sphere! Dark Energy! Fundamental forces of Elemental Quintessence! That’s the stuff!” Korbin’s speech had now began to devolve into a fit of hysterics and histrionics. “Elemental Spirit! Elemental Tattva! Elemental Consciousness! Elemental Existence! But… wait! What about the periodic table of ELEMENTS?!?! We could worship all 126 of them!?!? Haha! Yes!! I can see it now?!?! The Lesser Key of Solomon is the key! Therein lie the Sigils we need! How could I have missed this before? It’s so fucking simple! Holy fucking Hablar! How can this be? It’s been right in front of our eyes this whole time! Right here on my left wrist – my red string.”
The elf looked down, dismayed, “Where did it go? I had it right here, like a bracelet on my LEFT FUCKING WRIST!!! HABLAR HELP ME!!! WHERE IS MY RED STRING?!?!? WE ARE EMBARKING ON AN AGE OF DISCOVERY!!!! CHEMOGNOSTICISM WILL REIGN!!!! ILLUMINATES OF THANATEROS TAKE ME!!!!!”
Trent had slowly backed away as Korbin ramped up his sermon, until he was distanced enough to be out of the Elf’s immediate thoughts. Korbin’s hysterics drew a lot of attention but once he was quiet everyone just went back to what they were doing, as if what just occurred was a commonplace occurrence. But a cloud remains over the rest of those in the guild, as if they were regarding potential psychic energy as a venomous snake who will strike like lightning should they handle the serpent too long or without taking care.
As he walked away Trent ran back into BahtMitzvah, the Gnome, who had apparantly finished singing her song and appeared to be back to normal. She told him that his friend Tyvernos vacated the premises in a hurry, and paid his way to the Palladium dimension in order to pursue unraveling the mystery of the Minion War in the Lands of the Damned. She delivered to Trent a missive that Tyvernos left with her, and then left. Trent read it:
Before Trent could ponder this more, the masked, shadowy figure made his move towards Trent. “Not today!” Trent thought triumphantly! He was ready, and immediately used one of his talismen enchanted to “Wink Out,” sending him immediately into a small pocket dimension. From there Trent fled back to the alley near The Hungry Scholar. He got something to eat, and then after some time passed he headed back to the asylum. After all, those nexus locations weren’t going to identify themselves.