After the feeling of tearing and stretching of my being that I have to admit I am starting to get used to, we exit the portal in the side of the circular room I saw and slide unceremoniously down the curved wall into a pile in front of what looks like a scene out of a bedtime story. Before us is a stone pedestal surrounded by brass lamps and cloying incense… with an odd sleeping figure upon it. Odd, because I’ve never seen anyone like him before. He almost reminds me of the Dvati, but also seems Elven. His skin is stony, and his hair and clothes are both long, flowing and black.
As I look closer at the pedestal I can see an inscription. Further study reveals what I think is his name: Kari Sunken Saruh and the words He who can turn the planes to his own will . Could this be the “Portal Lord” that the inscription spoke of? If so, chances are we better not wake him up, or else we might not get out of here again.
“He seems to be effected by sleep and preservation magics,” Lenata offers as she studies the smoky crystal surrounding him.
“I guess he won’t mind if I check out his stash then,” I say with a grin as I find a secret compartment along the other side. “Ooo… must be good,” I mutter to myself as I disable the tiny phase dart inside the lid. My eyes widen even farther as I open the drawer. “Well lookie here… a puzzle box! I haven’t seen one of these since I was a child!” I turn it over in my hands as I look at the intricate patterns until I notice a small crack under one of the reliefs.
“Aha!” With a press of the relief the box twists and turns upon itself till it opens and reveals…. a very old book bound in grey hide with brass and silver fittings. I mentally slap my hand as my first instinct was to open it and immediately start reading. Bad kitty… check for traps first! Lo and behold… the pretty thing had a rather nasty fireball spell inscribed on the latch. “Shame on you, mister… knowledge should be shared, don’t you know that?” I scold the sleeping figure.
“What did you find?” Ef Utan asks as he and Lenata look over my shoulder curiously.
“Well, from what I can tell,” I say as I carefully scan through the pages, “this book is called Lessons of the Amethyst Soldality and seems to be about ‘trans-dimensional penetrative dweomers.’ I could be wrong… but I think in plain speak they mean ‘spells that work with portals’?” I look over my shoulder at Lenata and can practically see her eyes light up with excitement.
“May I read it?” Lenata asks with barely restrained excitement.
“Just make sure you pass it over when you’re done,” Ef Utan jokes. “In the meantime, I suggest we set up camp. There doesn’t seem to be anything here but our sleeping friend, so this may be the only chance we get for a while.”
“I’m going to see if I can pick up any surface thoughts or information from him,” Vedis replies.
“Just make sure you don’t touch him,” Ef Utan says before he pulls out a scroll of Vigilant Slumber and casts it. “Just in case he wakes up before we do,” he offers before setting out his bedroll and getting comfortable.
Eventually books are put away and everyone but Word and I get some rest. These days I truly am grateful for that ring I found so long ago now… because I’m not sure I’d like what I might dream about. It’s as I’m trying to shake the visions of Bast out of my head that I notice something odd out of the corner of my eye… red specks forming in the wall. I crawl on my hands and knees over to the wall and take a closer look as the specks get bigger and begin to form a hieroglyph…. a hieroglyph of the letter K. Rearing back in shock I reach out and grab Words arm.
“Do you see that?” I ask him nervously. I then crawl over to Lenata and shake her. “Wake up, cleric! You need to make the ghosts go away again!”
“Hmmn…what?” Lenata mumbles as she wipes the sleep from her eyes. “Okay… give me a minute.”
“Kenari’s description seems to be correct,” Word tells the others as they begin to wake up. “Something that seems to be like blood is forming names in the wall.”
“So make it go away already!” I exclaim as I notice that an E has now formed after the K.
Lenata closes her eyes and concentrates, and moments later a positive wave of energy radiates from her through us and into the walls. Thankfully it seems to have the same effect as it did on our ship… as the writing has disappeared.
“Strange,” Ef Utan mutters as he investigates the wall through his Void Lens.
“What did you find, Ef?” Vedis asks.
“While the blood writing has gone away… it seems that there is another kind of writing all over these walls. I can’t tell what it is, though.”
“Ooo… let me see, please!” I ask, eager to have something else to distract me. I quickly scoot over to him and take his Void Lens. “Amazing,” I mutter after a few minutes. “The walls seem to be covered in Ancient Imaskari… almost like this whole room is a journal of what they did here!”
“Um…hey… guys?” Lenata mutters nervously. “It seems that when I got rid of that spirit it kind of… I don’t know… weakened the structural integrity of this whole room?”
The others look around and notice that the plaster of the walls is starting to crack and flake. Me… I am too absorbed in the text. If we are going to have to leave here, I want to know as much as I can first! Besides… it may offer some knowledge on how to get out of here anyway. As I scan through it I find a rather interesting passage that makes me gasp in excitement… for they are describing a ritual where they created the Dream Stone! From what I can grasp, they lost many of their people in the making of it, and tried to remove it when they noticed the side effects starting to effect the sphere. When the orbits stopped they even tried to leave… but I can’t quite tell if they made it or not.
“My mending spells aren’t helping!” Lenata shouts out as she runs her hands along the wall.
“All I can see is the color green through the cracks,” says Vedis. “Do you think we’re in the green pyramid sun? If this room falls apart… are we going to be in space?”
“There’s only one person who can answer that,” Lenata answers as she walks up to the pedestal and touches the smoky crystal around the sleeping figure, causing it to disappear with a small fizzle. She stands back quickly as the sleeping figure opens his eyes and sits up.
Oh crap… think fast, Kenari! I hurry over to the groggy Imaskari as he asks how long he’s been asleep and do my best to explain to him in his language who we are and what we’re doing here. I wince inwardly as I notice his reaction to the knowledge that I am from Mulhorand.
“Why did they send a slave?” He asks angrily as he grabs me and lifts me up into the air as he stands to his full height.
“I am not of the Mulhorandi people, oh Lord… I was kidnapped by them and forced to be a slave!”
He grunts in response and tosses me to the floor before walking up to the cracking walls. With a wave of his hand the walls shatter and fall away to show shining green space with black wisps of fog strewn through it. He stares at it intently and grows silent… so I take the opportunity to quickly and quietly return his book to his pedestal. I just hope Lenata got to read enough of it.
Okay… the Mulhorandi people were slaves to the Imaskari. If that’s what it takes to keep this guy happy till we get out of here…
“Is there anything we can do for you oh Lord?” I ask meekly as I kneel beside him.
“You came here with a ship, yes? You will take me to it so that I may return to Imaskari.”
Shit. I mutter a prayer to any god that is listening that I can survive the next few minutes. “Imaskari fell almost 10,000 years ago by our time, oh Lord.” I swear I can hear his knuckles cracking as he clenches his fists.
“You will still take me to your ship,” he states coldly as he turns to me. “Where did you leave it?”
I hurriedly try and describe the Egyptos city as best as I can and gesture to Ef Utan for the map that the EIN gave us. “Here, oh Lord, on this planet,” I reply as I point to the map.
He grunts in acknowledgment and waves his hand over us… and suddenly we’re back in front of the Great Pyramid.
After we shake off the shock of the teleportation we make our way back to the ship to find a rather excited Hatuk.
“There you all are! You were gone for like 18 hours while it’s been scary quiet around here.”
Wait… what? It seems the Dream Stone might be affecting the passage of time around here too.
“We have a new guest who is going to accompany us, Hatuk,” Vedis explains to her 1st mate.
“What kind of guest?” He asks cautiously as the Imaskari grunts in pain and holds his head for a moment.
“The ‘really powerful and scary kind that we want to keep happy at all times’ kind,” I reply in Common before turning to the Imaskari. “Let me show you to quarters, oh Lord.”
Once I get him seated in a nice quiet room I take a chance and try to glean some more information from him by telling him of our experiences in this sphere.
“Ah yes… the cats… they were creations of ours that live 800 years, you see… and not the mere pittance that you assumed. That is why your calculations of time past were wrong. As to your plight… I cannot take on a god alone. I must rest and think on this… so please see that I am not disturbed.”
I bow and leave to get a guard for the door to his room. “Don’t try to talk to him… just make sure no one goes in there, and come get me if he wakes up, ok? I’m going to be in my quarters.”
After another potentially near death experience like that, I need some cuddle time.
The next morning I am woken by a knock on the door and a brief “He’s up!” I kiss Dassam on the temple and carefully slide out of our hammock so he doesn’t wake before making my way to the Imaskari.
“How can I help you this morning, oh Lord?” I ask as I bow to him.
“Please sit, slave… but make sure you avoid the couch by the 4th bookcase,” he replies as he gestures to the other chairs. I sit near him as he continues. “You say that the gods are refusing to let you leave until you solve the riddle of their sleeping people, yes? The sleeping curse inflicted on them is due to the effects of the Dream Stone created by my people. From what I can tell, it should be the star that is the eye of the fish constellation on your map.”
Waitaminute… the Dream Stone is still here? That means… the one that we were chasing after was a decoy?!
“The longer one is in contact with the Dream Stone, the thinner the barrier becomes between this dimension and the one of Dreams. If we remain in this sphere too long, we too are in danger of falling to the Eternal Sleep… for anything that lives is subject to it. Beings, plants, animals, and the planets themselves.”
“If I may ask, oh Lord… if your people left, why are you still here?” Okay… wrong question… his eyes narrow for a moment and then he continues as if I hadn’t interrupted him.
“If the Dream Stone is taken into the phlogiston, the effects would be quieted. Unfortunately… more than 8 weeks into the flow and it will explode.”
He then stands and walks with purpose up onto the deck. I do my best to follow behind him and hear him mutter to himself as he stares into the sky.
“Time to reclaim my property.”