Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Story - Trent - Old Friends
A mystic alarm notified Trent that someone had been in one of his permanent dimensional envelopes in Chi-Town. When he investigated he found a message from Tr’nalith Sol-zeshol that asked for a meeting between Trent, Tr’nalith and Spacia, an ancient shadowstalker dragon dimensional master.
Trent received this message with some trepidation. During his last meeting with his former master, it was only the presence of the god Zurvan which seemed to keep Tr’nalith from attacking Trent and rifling through his possessions for what the Temporal Raider wanted. He mulled it over for a few days then decided to arrange the meeting. Using the same method he used before, he contacted Tr’nalith and set the day, time and place.
Shortly before Trent was to leave he contacted and met with James. He entrusted James with almost all of his possessions, including his own journal and the future journal. His instructions to the Demigod were to safeguard these items until Trent’s return, and if he didn’t return… then James was to work with Pall Mall the Shifter to access all the items and use them in their mutual quest. James agreed but told Trent that when Trent returned, the two of them should go to visit an old friend of James’.
Trent left for the meeting casually armed and armored, with his magical talismen all in easy access. He knew it wouldn’t be enough if things went bad, but having them at least gave him a small measure of comfort. He cast several spells in preparation; then he opened a portal to the Dimensional Space and stepped through. In the dimensional envelope Trent came face to face with two beings. The first was his old mentor, Tr’nalith Sol-zeshol the Temporal Raider. The other being must have been Spacia. She was a tall, black haired woman with dark, tanned skin, reminiscent of an Egyptian woman. She was dressed in a long flowing robe that looked like a reflection of the night sky, scintillating with stars and glowing with celestial bodies.
Immediately upon Trent’s arrival Tr’nalith confronted him. “Well well well, if it isn’t Mr. Logan himself,” Tr’nalith began. “And here, after our last conversation, I’d thought you’d converted to Zurvanism.” He scrutinized Trent closely. “I’m glad to see you haven’t; though you look convincingly worse for the wear and considerably… bedraggled. One can never be too sure with rumors around… when Zurvan, himself, calls my attention I am forced to entertain the madman’s incessant blathering.” The Temporal Raider laughed out loud. “He actually told me that you had already converted. Perhaps the fourth dimension knows something I don’t. Hah!”
Trent just stood there, listening to the being prattle. So long as Tr’nalith was talking, this was good. Trent didn’t relax just yet, but he did allow himself the luxury of hoping that this meeting might not end as badly as he initially feared. He glanced over at Spacia and saw she was looking at Trent with a slightly puzzled expression on her face, as if she were trying to determine something.
Tr’nalith continued. “Regardless, I should thank you for attending this meeting. It has come to our,” he stopped for a moment and looked half-way at Spacia, “attention, that you have changed something in the past.”
Trent tried not to let his surprise show that his recent travels to ancient Babylon were known, but it must have shown. Tr’nalith grinned.
“Yes. Zurvan tells me that he felt your presence in a place that is out of the time stream. These fools…” Tr’nalith waved his hand out into the metaphorical universe. “They are sheep… and they live their lives in ignorance. But there are those who know… and Zurvan knows. He claims that Brahma is also aware and that means that your actions – whatever they were, and I don’t pretend to understand them – were not completely immune from detection. In fact, as I understand it, it was only when you RETURNED that the temporal tear was literally booming in Brahma’s ears; I would take it at face value. Those Hindus love to exaggerate – and Brahma is a dull boy after watching the Old Ones slumber for thousands of years. Zurvan has asked me to warn you again and, considering he couldn’t be here to warn you himself, I’d take a friendly word of advice from your former instructor.”
He took a deep breath before continuing.
“Next order of business. This artifact, it is more valuable than you know. I will gladly trade you a way to cover your temporal trail in exchange for it.” He reached forward into nothingness, but Trent felt him open a dimensional pocket. “Here, this should prevent future paradoxes.” He handed out towards Trent a scroll with the doppelganger spell on it. “A friend of mine who works in Phase World – fellow Raider – he put out a very secret bounty to those select few in the know. This artifact and your name appeared on his wanted board. Now, mind Trent, there are maybe one-hundred people in the entire Megaverse across the dimensions who can actually access that wanted board… but it’s out there.”
He let that sink in for a moment before he continued.
“I would trade you this scroll and two others like it that you have never seen or heard of before; lost temporal magic that I have never had the… conviction to attempt to convert. They are beyond value.” Tr’nalith reaches into the dimensional pocket again and pulls out two other scrolls. Please…" The Raider’s mouth looked strained as he says this; as if it’s not a word he is used to ever saying. “Turn the artifact over to me peacefully. And… Go ahead and include the Codex of Souls as well. I would read it. You may have it back to keep for yourself but I would know its words – every page – and commit it to memory.”
Trent stood there a moment doing nothing, just dumbfounded. The Raider asked… nicely? And what a trade! Lost magical knowledge, combined with such a powerful, rare spell… Trent was sorely tempted. But then he recalled the memory of Tr’nalith defeating the Deevil assassins in the Tolkeen library, and his refusal to talk about it when Trent last brought it up. Of how Tr’nalith treated Trent during their last meeting…
“No, Tr’nalith,” Trent says at last. “Neither of those items are mine to give anymore, but even if they were, my answer would still be no. Right now they are safely beyond the reach of space and time. I… I will deal with the repercussions of what my actions have wrought in my own way, when that time comes.”
Tr’nalith looked over to Spacia and spit. She regarded him impassively. He began to rant at them both. “See? I told you the infant was ignorant! Fool of a boy. You have been given a sliver… a taste of power and you think you are on a level to bargain with gods? To bargain with Raiders? Remember, I have been alive for much longer than you. The spells you know. The knowledge you have. The power you wield. IT IS BECAUSE OF ME! And my generosity. How quickly we forget. You have seen what I do to my enemies, Trent. All it takes is a drop of blood. Please! Do not make an enemy of me! You will live… only long enough to regret it!”
Before Trent could reply to the Raider’s petulant tantrum, Spacia pipes up, “Ah, Tr’nalith, I believe that is just about enough of that.” She stepped forward and uncorked a vase that was resting against her torso, camouflaged until now. It, too, was sparkling like heavenly bodies and galaxies in the night sky. Spacia pulled the cork out and all the darkness drained from the blown glass vase/bottle. As Trent sensed the opening of dimensions through the bottle he was sucked right into the pocket dimension it linked to. He had no time to even try to resist.
Trent heard someone shout, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as he was pulled away. He didn’t know if it was him or Tr’nalith that yelled it but the shout resonated and seemed to echo off the clouds in this new location where Trent now found himself. It was a wide open, peaceful rolling field, with green leas and grass all around. It was daylight here and the sky was bright and sunny. Trent now noticed that Spacia stood next to him here, but Tr’nalith was no-where to be seen. She seemed very out of place with her dark hair, dark skin, and long, flowing black robe. Alone with her now in this strange place, Trent was also very suddenly aware of how impossibly beautiful she was.
She smiled at Trent and said, “Come, fly with me and let us chat as we once did. Not unlike now, as strangers, but as friends.” She morphed into a giant Nightstalker Ancient dragon and bowed her haunches just low enough for Trent to mount. He did so with an easy familiarity, as if he had done this before. A feeling similar to one he felt just one other time recently.
“Trent Logan, you play with some very strange powers.” Spacia’s voice sounded as if it was right beside Trent as they soared through the bright blue clear skies. “I wonder if you even know what you are doing. To an outsider your actions look poorly planned and missteps… like a baby discovering its legs for the first time. It would be silly of me to ask if you remember our last conversation though I cannot help but wonder what you meant when you said that you had chosen incorrectly, that Zurvan would understand, and that I had been right all along. You know, my young friend, for someone with the audacity to accuse the gods of being cryptic and unhelpful you certainly are reticent to admit as much yourself. Is that the pot calling the kettle black or merely do as you say and not as… well you do?”
The dragon laughed, and Trent felt a rumbling beneath him as she did so. “I don’t understand what you did… what magic you used… but you must be getting accustomed to hearing as much from Temporal Raiders and gods and ancient dragons. Hah! There aren’t many mortal men who have ever been born in the Megaverse who can say that.” She sighed for a moment and breathed in the fresh, sparkling air. “What ever happened to that nice young woman you were with last time?” Spacia asked. “As I recall you had much to thank her for… perhaps more than your debt of gratitude could have ever repaid. Ahhh… there are patterns in the chaos and even ancient dragons – old by some standards – are not knowledgeable enough to see as much.”
Trent silently listened to the dragon woman talk to him. He felt comfortable here, the sky a welcome home. Even thousands of feet up in the air his mind was un-troubled, un-burdened. He hadn’t felt this way since, well, since Tolkeen. It allowed him to listen in respect, and try to piece together what he could from the things this woman was saying. She obviously knew him – or rather, the future/alternate Trent that he resembled. And she seemed to be referring to some of the things that Trent had written about in his journal. What did she know of the events leading up to that final entry? And Spacia’s mention of a nice young woman… Trent wondered if this was the same woman he met recently at that party. She had also seemed to know the other Trent, and seemed to believe he was somehow him. It seemed like more and more, that other Trent’s life was catching up to him.
Spacia banked hard left and began another steep ascent. Trent reflexively reacted with it, an old pro at exotic creature riding.
“Please,” Spacia said again after some time. “I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for countermanding your wishes. When last we spoke you sounded so distressed; even your friend looked terribly worried for you. I would know, Master Logan, if a friend of yours came to you and told you that he intended to do something unthinkable… to change his life forever… and to alter the very fabric of the megaverse by doing that thing… what would you say? If this same friend came to you to say goodbye and bade you NEVER see or speak to him again after telling you that you were right all along and that he had chosen incorrectly and that some fourth dimensional god-being would somehow ‘understand’… what would you really say?” She didn’t give him enough pause to answer. She seemed to be just talking out her thoughts to him. “I must admit, for the longest time, all I could find within myself were tears… just like your friend. She has a strong heart, that one, and it beats furiously for you.” Spacia’s chest began to convulse with chortling laughter. “Would that I were a few thousand years younger… you’d be powerless against my feminine wiles!” Spacia began cackling in earnest at that point. “You’d have better watched out! I could be very persuasive in my younger days!”
After that Spacia was silent and gave Trent time to process his thoughts. He said to her, “I will not insult you by asking you to tell me more – I know that if you intended to tell me more, you would have. I find that at every turn there are more questions waiting for me. I thank you for your honesty and openness in coming to see me and in talking with me like this.”
Spacia was silent a little while longer, and then she said, “I’d better set you down. I admit, I prompted this meeting just to see if the rumors were true. You bring much joy to my aged eyes and flagging heart. I have truly missed you so! Please, Master Logan, don’t be a stranger. You are welcome to visit me at the academy whenever you like. I’d urge you to enroll but I’ve been doing so for many years and you have yet to take me up on it. No offense taken, as usual. Please, go with my blessings and a parting gift – a beautiful new blown glass vase. You’ll know how to get ahold of me should you desire to. And, please be careful. I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing you again… again.”
And with that, before Trent could say any more or ask any other questions, he was instantly returned to his dimensional envelope. At his feet was a vase, almost knee high, of exquisite craftsmanship and quality. The top was narrow and had a stopper in it. Trent picked it up gingerly and examined it. It occurred to him then that this very strongly resembled some other similar items of legend, also reputably made by Spacia – all of them vases or bottles of some kind, stoppered up, and each of them able to transport and trap beings within an other-dimensional space. There were, to Trent’s knowledge of treasure and legends, less than twenty of these items known to be in existence, and all of them in the hands of powerful beings. Trent very gingerly placed the gift within a dimensional pocket of his own, for safe-keeping.
Trent then opened a portal to return to Lazlo. He would find James and let him know that everything went, well, as well as he could’ve hoped for. He would also get his things back. The longer they were away from him, the more nervous he was getting that something bad might happen to them.