Fifteenth Story - Vasty Nothingness

<RandBrittain> Hm, perhaps it is only the two of you?

<Benhimself> Possibly?

<Melum> Mayhap.

  • You are now known as Hollyhock God

<Hollyhock God> A short escape from the lands of death, then, I guess.

  • Melum is now known as Immanuel
  • Benhimself is now known as Dreams

<Hollyhock God> You are in the mouth of oblivion. Here there is a VASTY NOTHINGNESS. Exits are to N, S, W, E, and also in all other directions.

<Hollyhock God> Also there are Marley and the Power of Silence, badly hurt and unconscious.

<Immanuel> X Vasty Nothingness

<Hollyhock God> I don't know what "X" is.

<Immanuel> L Vasty Nothingness

<Dreams> My companion seems to have gone madder. Distressing.

<Hollyhock God> The two of you are unhurt, probably thanks to Miranda's questionable beneficience.

<Hollyhock God> The nothingness is extremely vast.

<Immanuel> Are both Marley and the Power of Silence badly hurt, or just the Power of Silence?

<Hollyhock God> They are both wounded and unconscious.

<Immanuel> I don't eat them.

  • Hollyhock God notes this.

<Dreams> "If only we had a supernaturally gifted doctor of some sort."

<Hollyhock God> You don't know anyone like that.

<Immanuel> I'm going to shed some light on this situation.

  • Dreams will shed some first aid and medical assessment by way of Aspect 2.

<Hollyhock God> Your light reveals additional darkness.

<Hollyhock God> Dreams performs his duty as a Good Samaritan, bandaging their wounds to prevent further injury or infection.

<Dreams> Will they recover, or are more serious measures required?

<Hollyhock God> You judge that they are unlikely to die, but are also unlikely to wake up anytime soon.

<Hollyhock God> The netherworld is a poor location for natural healing.

<Dreams> "Hmmm."

<Hollyhock God> The void hungers.

<Dreams> Are they dreaming, or totally out?

<Hollyhock God> I don't think the heavily concussed dream, do they?

<Dreams> I suspect not. Very well. At least this means my Affliction against waking the dreaming won't come into play!

<Immanuel> I have door-related issues that will result in my temporary incapacitation.

<Immanuel> Feel free to use me a puppet.

<Hollyhock God> Immanuel attempts to eat the nothingness.

<Hollyhock God> This attempt is incredibly successful.

<Hollyhock God> But there's still plenty more where that didn't come from.

<Dreams> "Marley strikes me as our best bet for getting out of here, although I do recall my Estate had some odd associations with this place. Hmmm."

<Dreams> I try, as we established before, enchanting our clothes or whatnot with the property of dreams that anchored lost souls to the border-nether last time we were here.

<Hollyhock God> Will being dreamlike pull you out of death?

<Dreams> Well, earlier it seemed important to being kept out of the mouth itself, if I recall. With that associate of a character I don't quite remember who we were trying to question.

<Immanuel> I have returned.

<Hollyhock God> As I recall, once you terminated their dreamlike existence they crumbled. I'm not sure that that means it was anchoring them to the border.

<Dreams> Fair enough.

  • Dreams contemplares their dilemma, suggesting he may have ideas on how to proceeed but is willing to give Immanuel a go at trying something.

<Immanuel> "I'm not sure my domain is well-suited to this task."

<Immanuel> I can illuminate great expanses of nothing, but when all they contain is more nothing, not much is accomplished.

<Immanuel> But, might as well.

<Immanuel> I attempt a Greater Enchantment of Illumination, to light the very reaches of this realm.

<Hollyhock God> You perceive that this place is nowhere and full of nothing.

<Hollyhock God> You should probably go somewhere else.

<Immanuel> "Second verse, same as the first."

<Immanuel> Go SW!

<Hollyhock God> You find yourself somewhere. This is a marked improvement.

<Immanuel> It's not Hell, is it?

<Hollyhock God> Oh, nothing so interesting.

<Hollyhock God> The light begins to increase and your feet seem to be walking uphill on something vaguely like the ground.

<Dreams> "I don't suppose you can emulate fire's warmth for some sort of natural… oh, hey, actually walking somewhere worked. I wouldn't have expected that. Well, that's convenient."

<Hollyhock God> Well, if you're already nowhere, anywhere you go must be somewhere.

<Hollyhock God> Simple autochthonic principle!

<Immanuel> I'd argue that even nowhere is somewhere.

<Immanuel> But, moving on.

<Immanuel> What strange place have we set upon?

<Hollyhock God> It is a realm of darkness, without either moon or stars. The only light here comes from a tiny pinprick at the top of the mountain you are climbing, and from your own bodies, which seem vaguely luminous here.

<Hollyhock God> You have the impression that your presence has stirred unseen creatures into motion, but you can't see them just yet.

<Dreams> "Hello, there!"

  • Immanuel waves a claw at the darkness

<Hollyhock God> You hear the rustling of inhuman limbs in the blackness.

<Hollyhock God> You question whether you want to get a good look at what's making that noise.

  • Immanuel sighs, knowing this is the part in the horror movie where they decide to investigate.
  • Immanuel lightens the darkness, once again.

<Dreams> "We…. we could be sensible."

  • Immanuel snorts at Dreams, very draconically.

<Hollyhock God> You look upon hideous cthonic things that have not seen light or life in countless ages, and then wish you hadn't.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile the abyss looks back at you.

  • Immanuel waves, again.
  • Dreams shows the abyss the flat of the blade of the Sword of Nightmare, invoking it (with 2 TMP) to reveal the abyss's worst fears.

<Dreams> Mostly because I'm curious what will happen!

<Immanuel> You have a sword too?

<Dreams> I've had a sword since character creation!

<Dreams> I just don't get many opportunities to use it.

<Hollyhock God> They fear light and darkness equally, having fought the pull of death so long, but having forgotten what life was to make them once desire it.

<Immanuel> Speaking of which.

  • Immanuel doesn't get scared much, what with having Acceptance in his stomach.
  • Immanuel flaps over to some chthonic horrors.

<Immanuel> "Say, you wouldn't happen to know where in Creation we are, would you?"

<Hollyhock God> It makes an awful sort of singing noise with its seven mouths.

<Hollyhock God> And slinks away from your warmth.

<Immanuel> Some people.

<Immanuel> I guess we continue to Mt. Doom's summit?

<Dreams> May as well. I'll keep the sword drawn and sustained just in case, and continue helping to drag our unconscious friends upwards.

<Hollyhock God> Why are you dragging them when you could dragon them?

<Dreams> Yes, I suppose Immanuel's size means he's better-suited.

<Hollyhock God> Just drape them from his tail or something.

  • Immanuel mumbles.

<Immanuel> You know, despite my size I only have Aspect 0.

  • Immanuel carries them, without further protest.

<Hollyhock God> You've got a dragoning Affliction that can activate!

<Dreams> Yes, but in that case Superior Dragoning is clearly the route to go.

<Dreams> I mean, I could municipally engineer a solution.

<Immanuel> Meanwhile, Dreams has to climb while I fly up the mountain's face.

<Immanuel> And I make sure he knows this.

  • Dreams casts a simple flight spell.
  • Immanuel rolls his eyes.

<Immanuel> "Just so you know, we don't consider spellcasters to be real fliers."

<Dreams> "We? You just swallowed a magical transforming sword."

<Immanuel> "The sword just released my inner dragonness. If someone else had swallowed it… well, they'd probably be dead, but if not they would've better expressed their inner nature."

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, you ascend along the slopes of the purgatory mountain.

<Hollyhock God> You encounter a small boy.

<Immanuel> Is he chthonic?

  • Dreams casually assesses him with the Sight.

<Hollyhock God> He appears perfectly normal for a six-year-old, and not dreamlike or dead.

<Immanuel> I set him on fire. No, no, never mind.

<Dreams> Actually, I was going to suggest that.

<Immanuel> Ugh. What is wrong with you?

<Dreams> Or rather, using the light-of-truth aspect of fire to see if he was some noblehorror in disguise or such.

<Dreams> "Hello, there!"

<Hollyhock God> "Is someone there?" he calls. "Please, take me out of here!"

  • Dreams descends.

<Immanuel> "What, you can't see us?"

  • Dreams wraps himself in the numinous revelatory power of Dreams.

<Hollyhock God> The child clings to your legs. He seems cold and frightened.

<Dreams> "How would you like to ride… a REAL LIVE DRAGON?"

  • Immanuel ignores the child's obvious discomfort.

<Immanuel> "Say, if you could be any mythological creature, what would you be?"

<Hollyhock God> "A living human."

<Hollyhock God> The child transfers his limpet grip to Immanuel's scaly limb.

  • Immanuel ponders this answer.
  • Dreams puts on Black Rose/Green Sun for musical accompaniment to the scene.
  • Hollyhock God approves, and does likewise.

<Dreams> "Right. What's your name?"

<Immanuel> "Immanuel."

<Hollyhock God> "I don't know."

  • Immanuel chuckles at his brilliant wit.

<Dreams> "That's not such a bad thing. Shall we proceed up the mountain?"

<Dreams> No signs of Marley or Silence regaining consciousness as we ascend?

<Hollyhock God> The tiny head, buried in the scales somewhere, nods.

  • Immanuel notes that he is now carrying 2 and a half people.
  • Immanuel continues flapping along.

<Hollyhock God> Fortunately the Power of Silence is unburdened by the weight of hair.

<Immanuel> Hu…zzah?

<Hollyhock God> You approach the mountain's flat peak, where a tiny ring of light marks the top of the black sky.

<Hollyhock God> A mysterious pressure begins to resist your passage.

<Hollyhock God> It reminds you vaguely of the barriers that make travel into the Deep Mythic troublesome.

<Immanuel> Maybe we're on the other side?

<Immanuel> That is to say, they get you coming and going.

<Hollyhock God> As you get closer, the pressure becomes insuperable—you'll need to use force to make it through the gateway!

  • Dreams enchants the barrier, momentarily, with dreamlike quality, spending 2 PMP for 3 Strike total.

<Dreams> "Let us slip this exmortal coil!"

<Hollyhock God> And for just a moment, the barrier becomes of questionable validity, and you burst through, possibly allowing a few dark things to follow in your wake, but never mind that for now.

<Dreams> Miranda will just have to live with the consequences.

<Hollyhock God> You burst out into the twilight of the netherworld, which now stretches outward around you.

<Hollyhock God> This half-light, at any rate, is a landscape that you find slightly more familiar.

<Hollyhock God> Although you aren't particularly sure of where an exit into the worlds of life might be.

<Hollyhock God> You can get a better look at your tiny passenger in this light. His clothes seem awfully old and ragged.

<Hollyhock God> He can't have gone into death any time this century, unless he died during a production of Oliver! or something, but he seems very ordinary.

<Dreams> Suddenly I wonder if somebody to watch over who actually needs it might not be just what Miranda needs!

  • Immanuel still hasn't set him on fire.

<Hollyhock God> Your nobility of character in that respect has been on all our minds, Immanuel.

<Dreams> Truly, the bards shall sing epic tales of your restraint.

<Hollyhock God> Temperance 5!

<Dreams> I'm also impressed that you're refrained from eating him as well.

<Immanuel> What can I say? I messed with her again.

<Hollyhock God> You aren't exactly sure how much time passed down there, and for that matter, you aren't sure whether more or less time passed up there while you were doing it.

<Dreams> At any rate. Are our unconscious companions showing any signs of improvement in this new air?

<Hollyhock God> You're going to have to give them time!

  • Immanuel prepares the Chronic Waffle.
  • Dreams wishes they would Aspect miracle themselves awake a bit faster.

<Hollyhock God> As their player, I decline to do so!

  • Immanuel remembered when he said he'd never be a beast of burden.

<Dreams> "Right. Presumably the mouth of oblivion is in the middle of the netherworld, so let's just pick a direction at random and start heading that way."

<Hollyhock God> I mean, Cneph, it's not like you're paying them for this.

<Hollyhock God> They'll save their miracle points for Exrcrucian attacks or something!

<Immanuel> Exactly!

<Dreams> You're not a beast of burden. You're nobly demonstrating your superiority over puny human strength!

<Immanuel> Oh, cut the shit.

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, you head randomly in a promising-looking direction, having many exciting adventures along your way.

  • Immanuel remembers to take some Aspect next character.

<Dreams> "Good work with those Slake Princes, Immanuel."

<Immanuel> "Thanks, that'll learn them to try and slake the unslakeable."

<Hollyhock God> Eventually you find an ivory elevator leading into the sky. It has one button, marked "Up."

  • Immanuel is repulsed by this clear sign of non-flighted privilege.

<Dreams> "Cheer up. We may be about to doom everything by going up this elevator!"

  • Dreams steps in, gets into a corner to make room for the dragon and company.
  • Immanuel dumps the unconscious dynamic duo in the elevator along with the Dickensian orphan, and flies parallel with the elevator.

<Hollyhock God> As he ascends to the highest point in the sky, Immanuel bursts through the floor in the middle of the National Stock Exchange of Indonesia.

<Immanuel> …could've happened to any of us.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, the elevator arrives on the ground floor of that same building.

<Hollyhock God> You wonder vaguely where Immanuel went as you carry Marley and Silence into the lobby in a fireman's hold.

<Hollyhock God> Doubtless they are as weightless as a dream!

<Dreams> Doubtless.

<Immanuel> I stare at the businessmen.

<Hollyhock God> Nearby, Immanuel, you are a great dragon in a room of screaming stock analysts.

<Hollyhock God> Oh, and money. What's the price on gold today?

<Immanuel> To be fair, they were screaming before I burst through the floor in a blaze of scaly glory.

  • Hollyhock God doubts this.

<Immanuel> In any case…

<Immanuel> "Happy Year of the Dragon!"

  • Immanuel then guises himself.

<Hollyhock God> You are now a stock analyst.

<Hollyhock God> Your fellow stock analysts seem unaccountably reluctant to meet your eye.

<Dreams> So I'm assuming the child hasn't unfurled himself in a coil of dark shadows of despair laughing about at long last he's been freed, or any such?

<Hollyhock God> No, he seems to be enthralled by the stock ticker.

  • Immanuel walks out as if he wasn't a giant monster.

<Hollyhock God> Businessmen are eager to throw themselves out of your way so you can get to the door.

<Hollyhock God> You find Dreams and your hangers-on in the lobby.

<Hollyhock God> What were you doing when you got lost in the netherworld, anyway?

  • Immanuel shrugs.

<Immanuel> I was passed out. Speaking of, I check a nearby polished surface for any crude drawings on my face.

<Dreams> Trying to stage a dramatic intervention for Miranda.

<Hollyhock God> Huh. Wonder where she's got to?

<Dreams> "Let's check the Chancel. She may have retreated to a place of power and safety if she felt persecuted."

<Immanuel> "Doesn't she always feel persecuted?"

<Hollyhock God> How will you get to the Chancel from Indonesia?

<Immanuel> Can you dream us back to Venice, hermano?

<Hollyhock God> Bear in mind that the last time you were speaking to her, certain people seemed to think it was important that she be immediately incarcerated.

<Dreams> Technically, they thought it was important she be immediately killed.

<Dreams> I bet they're still unconscious, aren't they?

<Immanuel> Seriously. Talk about a one-trick pony.

<Immanuel> I imagine our choices are a) magic back or b) take an airplane.

<Hollyhock God> They were hit on the head with the entire length of the universe!

<Immanuel> Pfeh, in how many dimensions?

<Hollyhock God> Isn't one enough?

<Hollyhock God> Just because some of you are related to the universal defensive principle doesn't mean everybody is.

<Immanuel> I dunno. I think I could take being struck by the first dimension.

<Immanuel> And possibly the fourth.

<Dreams> Right. Let's take them with us! I speculate out loud about how I sure would be tempted to owe Dan a favor or two if some magic bridge to our Chancel were to appear.

<Hollyhock God> I rule that this entreaty is more likely to succeed if stated in rhyme!

<Immanuel> We hop in time from there to thine. Where thine is where we need to be and not where we want to be. Which is Venice some place, and not lost in space.

  • Immanuel beats an imaginary bongo.

<Hollyhock God> That's not a proper entreaty.

<Immanuel> "Oh, Indonesia. We need to be going home. Let's get the fuck out."

<Immanuel> There, a haiku.

<Dreams> "We've exited the lands of death, and find ourselves quite out of breath. To my dear brother I'd give a gift, if his Estate'd make our journey swift."

<Immanuel> "The call to adventure is the call to roam. Return again by saying home!"

<Hollyhock God> I suppose that's good enough.

<Hollyhock God> A bridge most magical doth appear to whisk you off to Venice (Chancel edition).

<Hollyhock God> Where Miranda is not.

<Immanuel> We've taken Marley and Silence.

<Immanuel> Also Dickensian Orphan.

<Hollyhock God> Somebody give that orphan a name.

<Immanuel> He has one.

<Dreams> Psch. Names.

<Immanuel> Dickensian Orphan.

<Hollyhock God> Never mind.

<Dreams> ("You there. Boy.")

<Hollyhock God> I'll let Miranda do it.

<Dreams> ("BOY.")

<Immanuel> "D-train."

<Dreams> "Yes, Burninator?"

<Immanuel> "No, no, the kid."

<Hollyhock God> I am ending this session before it's too late.

  • You are now known as RandBrittain

<Immanuel> "He's D-train."

<Dreams> "Ah. I thought it a playful abbreviation of Dreams."

<Immanuel> Oh I figured out how to end the campaign.

<RandBrittain> Next week, the hunt for Miranda, before she ends the world or something.

<Immanuel> I stab Miranda through the heart with Acceptance.

<Dreams> Nice.

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