Annals of Aldamere

Disturbing is another word for neat
Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, and Mr. Dwight

Having successfully trapped one of the creatures—Thorne referred to it as a “worker”—, the company encountered some strange cat-like creature attempting to gain an easy meal. Mr. Dwight felt that firing his pistol and creating a massive wound would be the most efficient way to scare the panther-like hunter away from our quarry. It worked. Gabriel, however, discovered a short while later that the creature was a pack-hunter. Having secured the E.Y.F.O.B. sample in the apparatus Khiron built, Justus applied speed to resolve the affair.

On the trip back to Springfield, Thorne and Mr. Dwight engaged is some arcane shenanigans which ended up killing the bug by cutting it off from it’s “hive mind”. Despite the set back in keeping a live specimen, the party sought to find an expert in these matters—or at least an enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur. Such a man turned out to be Evird, an apprentice to the owner of Trafalga’s Weird Widgetry in Springfield. After some rather messy examinations which put many off their food and delighted Thorne, it was determined that various methods of defense would be needed to have a chance of searching the former D.O.E. building that was their nest, and that some rare materials would be needed for the preparations.

In the meantime, the party arranged passage with another caravan that would be headed to Hot Springs, the rumored location of another ancient site which could turn up the needed materials and valuable salvage.

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Diagon alley run by moonshiners
Marcel, Olis, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, and Mr. Dwight

Having driven off the creature dubbed “Lizard Jesus”, Mr. Dwight, Khiron, and Gabriel picked over the remains of the few fallen “Road Rash” gang members while Justus cooked the severed tip of the lizard’s tail for a meal—we were assured that “the rads are cooked right out”. The remainder of the trip to Springfield in Iron Home was reasonably uneventful, although many hours in the vehicle over rough terrain was no more comfortable than days riding in a saddle.

Springfield was an imposing sight, with a great smooth stone facade built into the mountain, overlooking a surface outpost where “guests” were expected to stay. The caravan put into this “foreign quarter”, and Mr Yezzel got touch with his contact and sponsor in Iron Home, a merchant named Yord Stonefoot. Thorne seemed disappointed to discover the so called “dwarves” were nothing more than rough-looking mountain folk, but was soon distracted by the strange clothing worn by folk the locals called “Pueblos”.

After some discussion, Yord agreed to sponsor the party to enter Springfield proper to conduct business in the market, as well as pointing us to Mildred Steadfast, keeper of ‘antiquities and old shit’. The invitation was conditional on good behavior and providing Yord a cut of any proceeds, and distinctly only a ‘day pass’ as strangers were not trusted to stay in the city proper after dusk. The market and it’s denizens proved more than interesting to both Khiron and Thorne, and the party was able to suggest a number of items of interest to Mr Yezzel for the return trip of the caravan. Thorne in particular was able to trade for a coveted raptor egg, which if it can be returned safely to our patron could be worth a good deal of favor—“a side quest” as Thorne had told Lady Nagastor. Mildred also proved to be a font of information providing the location of the “DOE Site” in “Old Springfield” as well as hints of another such site near the ancient town of “Hot Springs” in Owitichta territory.

Having been warned that the “DOE Site” was overrun with E.Y.F.O.U.F.O. bugs (Eat Your Face Off Ugly Fuck Off bugs), the group approached carefully with Gabriel and Mr. Dwight’s “drone” keeping careful watch. The area near “Old Springfield” was seldom travelled by men as the sense of dread and suffering from the cataclysm of the ancients was still palpable—Thorne confirmed it was something disturbing on the spirit plane or perhaps I should say something specifically disturbing on the sprit plane. After some searching among the overgrown ruins, Gabriel and Olis were able to spot crawlspaces into the collapsed structure that had insect tracks—large but not immense in size. Khiron and Mr. Dwight also noted strange well-cleared holes on the top which were likely ventilation maintained by the bugs.

Thorne integrated the shade of one of the bugs past victims and confirmed much of what Mildred had told us, and added that the animals stayed inside in the day and strayed out at night. Mr. Dwight sent in his drone to explore the nest to discover a well-preserved DOE site and lots of dangerous, fast, and powerful warrior bugs—the drone was recovered but the worse for wear having been nearly crushed by one of the warriors’ pincers. Gabriel walked out the tracks to determine the foraging range of the nest, and the party set to create traps along the perimeter with a camp some ways back to keep Justus calm about the E.Y.F.O.U.F.O. bugs (also called “brain bugs” by some). Late in the night, a trap was indeed triggered but as the party arrived to inspect the catch they quickly found they were not the only ones to hear the alarm call.

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All politics is local
Marcel, Olis, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, and Mr. Dwight

With the aid of the machine-spirit that Thorne seemed quite fond of, and whose secrecy Mr. Dwight seemed little concerned about maintaining, the company learned of the most promising “DOE SITE” to explore. Alas, it lay within the confines of another land known as “Iron Home”.

The information-merchant—and apparently unpleasant employer to Mr. Dwight and Khiron—Kavella offered to smuggle the party into Iron Home in exchange for dealing with some local concern in Gateway City. It seems an old friend of Mr. Dwight, a former smuggler and fellow “scruffy nerf-herder”, Matticks had taken over security at “The Wall” which controls access between the city and the docks. He was considered “too clean” for Kavella’s tastes, and we were told to solve the problem in whatever matter we wished.

After some tentative discussions, Mr. Dwight, Thorne, and Gabriel came clean with the situation and learned a it of Matticks’ situation the workings of Gateway City. His benefactor (and apparently lover) was of one of the great houses, and he suggested we come to dinner “in costume”—the locals find the armor we arrived wearing quaint. In any case, Clarrisa Nagastor was pleasant if aloof, and eventually offered to provide some method for reaching Iron Home without Kavella’s aid. She also mentioned that she would pay handsomely for “raptor eggs” should we acquire any on our journey.

A few days later a caravan master “Mr. Yezell” called upon the company, and the group set off on the road to Springfield. Travel in the wilds of this world is fraught with strange perils, as the caravan of trucks was set upon first by “tribals” on strange scorpion-horses, which had left some sort of trap in our path that Khiron set off with a quite loud explosion that in turn attracted an immense creature—dubbed “Lizard Jesus” in later retellings of the events. The company earned their keep guarding the caravan, although somewhat the worse for wear.

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Cave of the Cooked Food God
Mr. Dwight, Khiron, Thorne, Marcel, and Olis

I’m never quite certain how things end up the way they do. But there we were, trying to break open some sort of DOE site in the ruins of Aimseyeohwa – somewhere in that nebulous area not quite controlled by the Hawkeye Empire, or left to rage and wreckers outside of it. The weird little muties called it the Cave of the Cooked Food God, or some shit. Fucking great. We seemed to have deactivated most of the external defenses (don’t ask how, I’m not sure I recall). But the vault door required some sort of pass-key. The weird girl,Thorne, claimed that the ancient spirit she was channeling could get us past the door – but we would need to reconfigure the ident cards the muties had given us at some OTHER Ancient Site. It seemed like a ruse to get us to leave, not sure why. But then again I’m not sure Thorne is anything but some sort of very deluded lunatic. Half of what she says is 100% horse shit the other half is so crazy that it can’t be credited. I’ve seen these “readers” at other Ancient Sites and they are difficult to spoof – but not impossible. Usually I know ahead of time and bring a Cracker, not a talent we are currently gifted with. I thought maybeKhiron had some faculty – but he gave his usual blank look. Damned fly boy. The rest of the Aldemari (them so strange foreign folks) were even more baffled. I reckoned I could try some jiggery-pokery, but most of what I do in that regard is to make holes in things or transcend space and time – ain’t none of that gonna be terribly useful in this sitch. I turned away for a second to confer with Justus about maybe rigging a door buster, and suddenly Thorne has us in. So that is neat. Not sure what happened, something to do with spirits. Why is it always fuckin’ spirits with that girl? Ain’t we got enough problems with the living? Douche-baggery on an epic scale.

So, in we go. Pretty standard layout. The important shit is going to be down and probably under further security. Fuckin’ Ancients and their preoccupation with burying things deep in the ground. Ain’t like it made a big fuckin’ difference as far as I can tell. But salvage is salvage. Or in this case, we need to figure out what the fuck happened at SITE 109. No way old Doc Cartweight can avoid us forever. And no way I can continue to put off Mr. Caville. More douche-baggery. There is shit in the complex, but down we go.

And then things get weird.

Big fuckin’ open area, lined with gantries, conduit, and all sorts of confusing shit. In the center of which are eight big fuckin’ shiny cylinders connected to all manner of glowy tubes and wires and crap. All of it pulsing with crackling blue-white light and ‘lectricity. Fuckin’ great. The Thorne girl does something stupid, I know, big shock, and turns on the party – firing off all manner of hocus-pokus. Voices in our heads coming out of the nowhere. More folk trying to beat one-another. Weird ass mental storms sweeping the chamber and frying everyone’s brains. Minotaurs? Fuck me! We finally figure out that the shiny silver cylinders are filled with old psychic brain soup that are causing all the rampant crap. Smashing the cylinders – with the accompanying spraying and dripping goo – weakens the brain attacks and allows us to incapacitate those folks that have been brain dominated and smash further cylinders. Finally, all of them are smashed and we are all plum fuckin’ beat.

It would appear that this complex is some fuckin’ Ancient bio-engineering, brain mutant making, laboratory. The fuckers intentionally hooked up a bunch of fuckin’ brains to try to make some massive fucked up brain beast. Fuck me. That went well. After all the smoke cleared we were able to find some interesting doo-dads and geegaws. Fuck if I know what they do but they are probably dangerous. But just maybe we can find some fuckin’ clues as to what the DOE was up to elsewhere.

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Lead and lasers
Marcel, Olis, Thorne, Gabriel, and Khiron

The six horse-riders arrayed out in front the group claimed to be in the employ of the “King of Madrid”, but they were disinclined to provide recompense for the damage done to the hired barge. After some banter, the party engaged the men and only one got away with Marcel finding he lacked the knack for gunplay.. Unsure of the next steps, Thorne used hir heretical magics to capture and interrogate the shade of one of the gunmen which Thorne took to calling “Shell Case Pete”. He revealed more of the situation in Runnel, and warned of the power of “artillery” as well as the arrival of more reinforcements. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, the company gave Runnel a wide berth and continued on the way to Des Moines.

Arriving at what was rumored to be the town of “AIMS”, Gabriel noticed traces of what looked to be children’s tracks, and Khiron used his “etheric jets” to scout from above to confirm the group was being tailed. Setting up an impromptu shopping stall lured the strange and quite diminutive folk out from the forest. One of the folk traded for what he knew of the area, and lead the party to a strange cave they called the “cave of the cooked food god”. They told of strangers entering and only cooked bits of animals ever being recovered.

Gabriel and Khiron cautiously entered to see a long hallway that ended in a strange metal door. After some investigation, two wand-like weapons revealed themselves and began to fire invisible but highly painful burning rays down the hall. A barrage of gunfire and one of Khiron’s strange “ice bombs” damaged the mechanism sufficiently to keep them from fully cooking either of the party members. Despite Thorne’s healing efforts, the pain of the wounds remained for some time.

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Bend of the River
Marcel, Olis, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, and Mr. Dwight

As had been arranged, the key to Cartwright’s abode lead Ser Marcel and the rest of the company to his residence: a simple but spacious apartment. After some time, Gabriel noted that the attic seemed a bit smaller than one might expect from the other floors. Mr. Dwight then used his arcane pistol—which he referred to by name as “Clementine”, so perhaps it’s actually a haunted arcane pistol—to remove some warding that hid Professor Cartwright’s secret laboratory/office from our view. Within were found a few key clues, including a collection of papers that Mr. Dwight said were contained in “plastic binders”—apparently made from the skin of dinosaurs. Thorne’s impulsive curiosity also found a secret note with some numbers, and a poison needle. Mr. Dwight used some kind of stick called a ‘detox-stick’ on hir which seemed to hurt a great deal, but also quickly dissipated the effects of whatever poison had been on the needle.

Leaving the dwelling, making sure not to take any of it’s possessions lest the strange golem guarding it take offense, the party made their way to Cartwright’s bank. Mr. Dwight used the numbers that Thorne found to gain access to a ‘safe deposit box’ and within he found a copy of Cartwright’s journal that had been left for his cousin. While leaving the bank, Gabriel noticed that one of Mr. Dwight’s rivals from the road into town was making a point of following him around town perhaps to leverage his investigation for their own profit.

After some study, it was decided to return the journal to his kin along with the key, and then the party set off up river towards a location of interest. Gabriel did not take well to water travel, and while in route the party’s boat was attacked by pirates. The attack was quickly repelled, but left the craft unable to continue the journey.

Taking to land with Khiron in the lead on some horse-like vehicle, the nearest town proved to be under the sway of the same river pirates. Taking time to parlay with their outriders, Mr. Dwight and his cousin Justice drew them out while the rest of the party lay in wait…

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D.O.E.

So there we were, innocently travelling down the body of a mostly dead, immortal snake god, when things began to get weird. The Serpent man who we freed said something wasn’t quite right ahead and told us to avoid it. Intrepid travelers we may be, but I don’t know fuck-all about changing course yig-back. Turns out, neither did anyone else. Something loomed ahead in the impossible dimension spanning snake void – weirdo, somehow orderly patterns of time-space anomaly fireworks cascaded across the infinity of the void. Avoid them! Shit. We didn’t. Fuck! Boom!

Although, maybe some of us did because when we blasted through the psychadelic hellscape – Aetheric Pulsar – we were missing our Gretta, Father Aerik, and the Snakefather.

So, disgorged from the space vagina, we behold… assholes! Not literally. Two gents in funny dress. One like a rag merchant with an odd hat, Dwight, and another with loads of strange armor and two big sticks poking out his back, Kyron. (Cowboy, Aeronaught – fuck off Chezza, mine were better)They speak like they’ve got more time than us. Everything. is reeeaal. draaawn. ouuuut. Although they do speak a wee bit closer to me than everyone else does, except for the sounding brain damaged part, although the way Olis reacts sometimes, I might give that impression as well. I definitely feel that way about you.

Also, Marcel is Possessed by the witch of Belout, so that’s neat.

So, big dome, made of shiny glowing shit that would probably be shiny even if it wasn’t glowing. Some sort of synthetic material. SITE 109. Dwigth says there’s not many lawmen in Gateway City. Sounds like a Yen Enoth analog? Are we in an alternate dimension? I explain this to them. I explain about the snake monoliths – quill through two pieces of parchment, you know the drill. Time-space vortices Also that probably, we’re not on the same page, possibly two different pages in the same book. Kiddie stuff, you know. I think Dwight gets it, but I’m not certain.

They ramble on about someone called Cartweight. He’s apparently a real DOOSH. Which means ancient and learned. Also, I’m apparently a witch here also. Dwight and Karen, Kyron? Something. They’re bounty hunters or mercs or slavers or some combination thereof. They’ve got GUNS, which are like wands, but harder to use. You have put little bits in them before they’re good for murder. Chemical, alchemical, and mechanical – cartridges. Magic can be channeled through them, Mr. Dwight knows this art.

Charon says he’s an Aeronaught, but won’t teach me how to be one also. Says it’s really hard. He’s very impressed with himself. They work for Ryquist Caville, who wanted this Cartweight. He’s going to be very cross with them, so to make up for this, they gather up all kinds of shit from inside SITE 109! CIRCUIT BOARDS, etc.

We learn about RADS – which is a unit of measuring poison in the everything.

Outside is a jungle, very beautiful, but also dangerous? We are loaded into THE BEAST. A metal golem-wagon – automobile – with an angry demon trapped inside – Aetheric Converter. They have loads of men waiting outside, which sort of work for them, but also seem hostile about not getting paid. There is a BACK HO, which is another frightful automaton.

On the way back we’re ambushed by some other assholes who laugh at Dwight when they find out he hasn’t got Cartweight. They have yet another automaton. It’s bipedal and armed with a GATLING GUN. Gatling means “kill everything.”

Dwight: “Cars can’t attack.”

The place we are is called the LEBARK MOUNTAINS. It is west of GATEWAY CITY.

Doctors wear leather. I am upgraded to a Witch/Doctor/Prostitute. Witchdoctorprostitute.

Arriving in Gateway city – which is a big bowl, filled with buildings, surrounded by fake rock walls – ferrocrete -.

I’m told not to go near the CHURCH OF THE REDEEMER because I’m posessed. But, since it’s spirits instead of demons, maybe I won’t be burned at the stake. Maybe. Fuck yes, religion is still shit, mostly.

Mayoral Palace is where the rulers live.

We go to the Inquisitive Mew. We meet the fat man and the gaunt man. Fat man is Mr. Caville. He smells of cheese and turnip, innit? Something close. Cartweight owed him money, and now he thinks that’s Dwight’s and Charken’s problem. He postures about it, makes the spooky 7 foot tall monster grab shit from the top shelves to intimidate us with his book keeping skills. All this is bollocks because clearly, what’s more important than some twat owing him money is that his men have brought him proof of inter-dimensional travel, and real life ALIENS. Because, technically, that’s what we are.

I broker an amazing deal in which tubby funds our exploration of this weird ass place, we get to explore post apocalyptic ruins – did I mention that this place had their apocalypse already? Because they did, and it wasn’t demons or summat. It was them. They blew themselves up, because reasons! – look for other aether-whatsit makers – Aetheric Pulsar and I suppose send ourselves home, or somewhere new. Fatty fat wants the tech for himself. Personally, I think Dwight and K should just use it for themselves and fuck the creep, but we don’t care because we’ll have gone through the portal on to whatever comes next.

There’s an arch in the river filled with ghosts and some “stupid flying god.” “SPIRIT OF SAINT LOUIS!”

There’s only one moon. It’s called THE MOON, which is rubbish. I name it Lawrence. It likes it. You all saw that it does.

I bought loads of clothes. I am now PUNK ROCK. This is a very worthwhile thing to be. I will be getting various things pierced. This pleases me.

We go to the voluptuous pint glass or whatever. Stein? Swan? They’ve got whores and drugs. I’m a witchdoctorprostitute, so I get pissed and defile myself to an extent that impresses even me. I AM WHOLE, give unto me all the whores! Chezza likes it. Are you sure it’s not just your idea of Chezza who you’re pretending likes it? Pretty sure, the lines are almost gone, way past blurred. This is healthy.

We go to the University where Cartweight worked. I incorporate Professor Frederick whitehorse Hernandez, pre-columbian Archaeologist. He worked in Cartweight’s office before the world blew up. He’s definitely a DOUCHE – he knows how to spell it.

I speak like I’m from GREAT BRITAIN. Which must be the best place on this world.

Cartweight was researching DOE sights, which aren’t places where they’ve loads of female deer. It’s DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. I learn about the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, which was the king before the Boom! POTUS was a very powerful wizard and he had a council of other wizards which helped him run USA. I think he was worried that they’d try and take power from him, because he kept them in an enchanted cabinet, which he could enter, and meet with them to share their wisdom. Anyway, the DOE Wizard maybe created all the portal sites. So we’ve got to seek them out and find another one.

Guy named Oppenheimer created the ATOMIC BOMB. When he did, he said “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Yep. Asshole.

So, loads of places to go. West of PUEBLO – Cannibals there. TRINITY SITE, where they made the bombs. NORAD. TENNESSEE VALLEY. GROOM LAKE in NEVADA. This is where the alphabet men made secret plans.

By the way. The reason Oppenheimer made the bombs. Everybody in the world was at war with these guys called the NOT-Zs. Really awful, killed everybody and yelled. Put JEWS in ovens for no good reason. They had skulls on their hats, so really awful. Anyway, they made bombs so that nobody like that ever happened again and ended up probably using them against one of the groups that helped them fight the NOT-Zs. THE REDS!

Putz means cousin.

The ancients could infuse life into things – “The Adam”

We need to go to Cartweight’s TOWNHOUSE and his SAFE-DEPOSIT-BOX.

Everyone here is as crazy as me. Maybe not as smart, though.

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The Stranger and the Gunfighter
Ser Marcel, Thorne, Gabriel, Khiron, Mr. Dwight

Having little choice, Ser Marcel’s company set off into the dim twilight of the Body of Yigg, seeking escape from the wrath of necromancer Crode. Thorne seemed both thrilled to experience travels beyond, and deeply troubled at having left the object our quest, his sister-shade Chezza, to her new life. Ser Marcel was somewhat shaken as well, having been unsettled more than the rest of us by his first trip through the silvery mists. This time, however, the company had a guide, an ancestor of the Skreet, a true “snake-man”. Master Vakarn had said his people had created the portals, although they did not necessarily function as intended. Before the party could probe into the mysteries only known by such a living fossil, the mists became alive with colorful showers and bright flashes. Our guide thought to us a name for the phenomenon, a “etheric pulsar”, which he warned us to avoid. Before the party could move safely away, however, there was a great flash and dull thudding blast that threw the group asunder.

Moments later, Ser Marcel, Thorne, Olis, and Gabriel found themselves in a strange room of glowing white walls, ears still ringing from the explosion. An acrid smell of ozein filled the air, like having been too close to a lighting strike. There was no sign of Gretta, Father Aerik, or our guide. Instead, we were faced with two angry men shouting at us in some strange dialect of Hrondene and threatening us with arcane wands. After a few tense moments, the strangers introduced themselves as Khiron—a strange man festooned in metal armor with bizarre pauldrons—and a Mr. Dwight (later found to be a Mr. Earnest Dwight)—a mage of some ilk wearing a leather cloak-coat and quite eager to demonstrate the deadliness of his arcane tools.

Alas, there was no sign of the portal, our missing companions, or the quarry that Mr. Dwight and Khiron had been in the process of securing, leaving Ser Marcel’s troop with scant options but to accompany the strangers back to “Gateway City”, a town of some size. Leaving the strange room in which they arrived, a place the local folks called “Site 109”, the travel back to the city was full of wonders for Thorne and uneasy danger for the rest: A great metal wagon that moved at great speed with no yolk or beast of burden, a towering golem armed with a huge barrel-shaped wand that threatened Mr. Dwight and his property on the trip back, roads made of some poured rock, and city walls seemingly carved from immense stone (the locals spoke of ‘ferro-concrete’).

After months in Yen Enoth, it was both familiar and deeply unsettling to again be in large city full of strange wonders and noise. After taking a little time to rest and recover, the party accompanied Mr. Dwight and Khiron to meet with a local merchant-lord. The meeting did not seem to go as well as Mr. Dwight had hoped, but in the end it was decided that the fellowship assembled would seek out other places there the now-missing Professor Cartwright had researched in the hopes of finding another portal back home or perhaps finding out what became of Gretta and Father Aerik. The trail began at the Professor’s office, which provided both a great deal of information and scant solid leads as to where such “technology” might be found. His cousin, another professor, graciously agreed to make arrangements to visit Professor’s Cartwright’s abode.

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Four from Elsewhere
An Unfortunate Escape and Unexpected Arrival

Four from Elsewhere
Chapter 1: An Unfortunate Escape and Unexpected Arrival
By Khiron Vaan Ascot

Ryquist Caville had been most specific in his instructions to Mr. Dwight and I, he wanted a return on his investment from Professor Pembril Cartwright as well as the man himself dealt with, he emphasized the return on investment part. And somehow a ricocheting bullet, burnt out computer terminal, giant FWOOSH of light and Professor Pembril and his lovely assistant disappearing into who-knows-where, with all of their research notes, was not going to fit the bill.
By Meto Suway’s dark arse this mission was not going well.
First it had taken an inordinate amount of time to find the dear doctor out here in the wilds of the western jungles of Gateway City, which at least allowed me time to gather some alchemical reagents, but it used up our expense voucher as well for the most part.
Having finally found the quack his guards and workers put up enough fight to make life difficult although we finally managed to get the workers to stop shooting after the guards went down.
Making our way through the maze of collapsed buildings, tunnels and substructure, being wary of traps and the remaining guards we managed to catch up with the good Professor as he feverish manipulated controls on a computer along with his rather lovely assistant whose name I never caught.
And then the FWOOSH.
After my eyes cleared I noticed two things, first that there seemed to be four bodies at the site where previously the Professor had stood, and they looked nothing like anything I had seen before with armor that seemed right out of a museum, spears, swords and one even had a pointy hat! Were they some sort of Cosplay troupe?
Second was the fact that Mr. Dwight was busily yelling “What did you do?” at me as if I were somehow to blame for this disaster. “It is not my fault!” I replied back, which did nothing to settle him down, as it never does, but by the Founders, I was not about to let my him pin the blame on me for this disaster.
“Remember if I do not get paid for this job neither do you” he growled out in his rural twang as he made his way towards the four strangely dressed people. While this is true, the statement omits the point that I am a co-contractor with Ryquist Caville and not Mr. Dwight’s employee like the dozen or so other men he brought with us on this mission, however I let that slide for the moment.
Of the four people three were groaning and seemed to be awake, one of which proceeded to puke all over the place, the other was quite unconscious. Of the four three seemed to be male, two were heavily armored, one dressed like a wilder and the last was a woman I think dressed in lighter clothes. They also stank, badly. The styles of their clothing were right out of some Pre-Fall historical documentary vid or fantasy story. One even pointed out her magic wand which, she was sure, was something like my rifle, which I demonstrated for them, causing a great deal of odd looks.
To be honest it took some time to figure out what they were saying with all the thee’s, thou’s and whatever horrible bastardization of vowels they were using. It seemed they were travelling across “the body of Ygg when a etheric pulsar engulfed them and split their party” apparently someone named the Guide, some sort of snake man, one Father Aerik and a Gretta did not end up here, much to their consternation.
Mr. Dwight took a once over of the machinery they had used, with glowing walls and computers and pronounced it dead and proceeded to direct the men in looting it for parts. I looked around for anything else that might be helpful, journals, writings, diagrams, but came up empty, although I did find the Pembril’s food stores and supplies, which I distributed to the newcomers as they were going to need them.
After that Mr. Dwight and I discussed what to do with our new friends. He was of the initial opinion to cut them loose not seeing any good coming out of their weirdness but I had another idea, maybe, just maybe Caville might find them and their story of portals and other worlds interesting enough to not cause us to be black balled in Gateway City and forced to move on as Caville was known to do, in one of the better case scenarios for people who failed to fulfill their contracts. There were less pleasant rumors in regards to such events but let us avoid those for now.
Mr. Dwight insisted that I take responsibility for the strangers, whose names we learned were Sirmarcel and Olis were the heavily armed mean, the former with sword and shield and the latter a spear, the wilder was apparently a Priest of Squeezeme of something like that named Gabriel and the last an occultist named Thorney, and I agreed to do so as they seemed like interesting folk and there is nothing this far out in the jungle that would otherwise help him.
At that point we returned to the surface and after telling the workers their boss had deserted them and making sure he had enough of a haul to pay the mercenaries Mr. Dwight had hired we loaded up the vehicles for our return to Gateway City. I took off to do a once over of the site, which had been swallowed by the jungle and saw nothing but jungle so we mounted Mr. Dwight’s vehicle, a beast of a truck with a mini-gun on top and armored sides. He had insisted that I ride in the cab, which was very polite of him, and off we went.
Things went well after we made it back to the road until we rounded a corner and came to a screeching halt. It seems two large trucks had blocked the road and they had a large robot with them.
“Friends of yours?” I asked Mr. Dwight who proceeded to point his gun at their leader, some loud mouthed man I forgot to get the name of. Needless to say the two swapped barbs, insults and intimidating looks and threatening words until the loud mouthed man realized that Mr. Dwight did not in fact have Professor Pembril and that further chest pounding was pointless. They took off in their trucks to loot what remained of the site.
Mr. Dwight was in a dour mood for the rest of the ride and started mumbling about charging me and our new friends seating costs, mileage costs and wear-and-tear expenditures as well as ammunition costs and taxi fees. I took a nap.
We arrived in Gateway City were our companions seemed surprised by the size of the city and scope of it all, they said it was comparable to someplace called “Yen Ee Noth” but was much easier to see the entirety of, which was confusing. The guards asked for our papers and we showed them as well as acquired the paperwork for getting such for out new companions, who were listed as under my responsibility until then. After that we made our way into the darkening city as the street lights came on as we parked the Beast, found an Inn, cleaned up and got some sleep, tomorrow we would have to deal with Ryquist Caville.
Here is the long and short of it.
Caville: So where is Cartweight?
Us: He escaped.
Caville: That is most unfortunate, do you know what happens to those who fail me?
Us: Yes, but…
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Somehow the people we found got introduced to Caville and they seemed to know about where Cartweight went and … hope for the best …
New People: Portals, other worlds, Body of Ygg, etheric pulsar, rescue our friends… I am not really certain what they said as I was trying to calm things down between Mr. Dwight and I in regards to the above mention heated words, fortunately that went well as well as whatever the pretty occultist Thorney and others said to Ryquist …
Ryquist: How about a three year contract to find one of these portals?
Mr. Dwight: One month.
Ryquist: A year.
Mr. Dwight: three months.
Ryquist: Six months.
Mr. Dwight: Five and half months.
Ryquist: So it is!
The rest of us: Fine with me.
And the deal was done, finalized by paperwork Mr. Gaunt had prepared amazing quickly and we all signed. Phew, got out of that one decently, I really did not want to end up as fertilizer.
We spent some time shopping after that, filling out paperwork for Identity Cards and generally getting our new friends adjusted to life in Gateway City as well as getting them some food, which they all greatly enjoyed as “there were no tentacles anywhere” which pleased them all except Thorney who deemed the food “boring.” However Thorney seemed fascinated with Gateway City and bought herself many clothes while the others headed straight for the Armories. They all mumbled things about “a city of blacksmiths” as we got acquainted with one another. The next day we would begin our investigations into the Pembil Cartweight, but I shall let that be the end of this chapter and begin our story there next time.

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Context

This is a problem of context.

It’s in me now, whatever Crode took from her. I can feel it, and it feels very safe. It feels like a warm bed after a night in freezing rain. But… The fear is on me. Worse than it’s ever been, because I can’t find the borders anymore. There was a ragged hole where “she” had been, a savage wound festering in the center of me. Filling it was all I cared about, but now, this syrupy warmth is erasing it and I can feel her there. But it can’t be her, it’s only a seeming. A fragment. Because I left her behind, or she left me. For a body, and existence apart, a chance to learn from the master. I was saying, the borders, what separates her from me, it’s blurring again, I can feel her mind reconnecting with the parts that were left behind. I struggle to define what is and isn’t me and can’t. But why? There is no need, remember what we were. Remember.

Context. When Chezza was deepest in her studies and gave herself over to the mastery of our uncle’s art, I was lost, because I was, for the first time, alone. Leaving, I lost myself to mischief and fell in with others as adrift as I. I lied for a living because I couldn’t think of anything better and because they admired me for it. I didn’t need the money we took, I needed context. I made sense in contrast to who I had been and who they were. I hated it. I hated them and myself, and those who were weak or foolish enough to be our victims. The truth is when I heard the shrieking of her mind across the psychic gulf, calling for help, calling me back home, I felt… relief. Because she needed me, my twin, my mirror, needed me, I meant something again. I left the charlatan’s life behind without a thought. I got up from our camp and started walking, abandoning my watch and saying nothing. I was scarcely aware of their sleeping forms as I crept out from our camp, never to return.

Or was it her who returned to me? She said that she remembered dying, but I remember it also.

When I returned, when I saw the ruin that was my childhood home, I knew what had been done. Her his? spirit came to me, immediately. There was no hesitation, there was just a brief moment when we were apart, and then we weren’t. Everything made sense then. Context. Before we were born, we were one. We started existence as one thing, one context, and somehow, that being was split in two. I like to think that we needed to be separate to understand what it meant to be reunited.

Chezza had a clarity of purpose, an ambition that I couldn’t imagine. Magic was what she was made for, and she tirelessly pursued it. She was made to learn and to practice her craft to perfection. But she was brittle, inflexible, and devoid of one thing that all truly great mages posses: Improvisation, which I had in spades. I was fluid, but unfocused. I was endlessly creative and inquisitive, but couldn’t bother with anything for more than a fleeting moment. I was extroverted, where she could barely express emotion or tolerate the presence of others. I was emotional, where she was placid. We were everything the other wasn’t.

The moment our spirits touched, everything made sense. Her magic, my fluidity, her focus, my charisma, all served the whole. We were happy, and whole and in love with each other and the universe. We wept at the beauty of existence. She wasn’t a ghost possessing a body, she was an equal part of a once sundered being, restored. No matter what anyone says, our union was Natural. It was supposed to happen.

When the rat took her from me, it was like dying. It felt like dying. The absence screamed to be filled. I hate him for it still, even after seeing his ignoble fate. But… context. It seems incumbent upon us to start speaking from a remove. Alright, Erasmus was a shiftless blackguard, a lazy confidence man. He was no Mage. He had no talent for magic, no focus for mastering his craft, any craft, much less the arcane. But in the seeming absence of Chezza, he did just that. His talent grew and he learned the arts of the vile horned rat who had stolen so much from them. He became what he needed to bridge the impossible gulf between them and honed his skills for the inevitable confrontation. But necessity shouldn’t have been enough to allow him to master the arcane. He should have been stripped of that, just as he was stripped of her. But he wasn’t. This might indicate the inefficient skill of the rat who took Chezza away, a crude knife, excising most of what is useful, but leaving behind some essential, functional vestiges. Or, put another way, the being that was Thorne kept what it needed in order to thrive, whether deliberately, or through happenstance.

Which brings us to memory. That is what Crode claimed to return to me. Chezza’s memories. But what are we, if not the sum of our experience. He offered it as a pittance, but his understanding, I think, was incomplete. I have Chezza’s memories, of before, of her time with the rat, even some of her time with the master. But, I can feel the connection between what I was given and what she left behind, the crude stump from the savage knife of Zakakirzgig. There is context there, there is connection and sympathy. If I was left with what Chezza could do before, I have now been given what Chezza is. This is no semblance of my sister, we are no shadow of what we were. I have grown in her absence, just as she has grown in mine. But this, is me. You are her. I feel like her. I think I would know if you weren’t. We will not mourn.

We feel whole. But what have we left behind. What is she? If what I have been given has rekindled itself into the shape of my beloved, then what is this being who we left behind. One presumes Crode did not leave her an amnesiac. She must also have memory, and he claimed to take a piece of me in exchange for what he gave me of her, though I cannot feel it’s absence. Are there now two of us? Are we the same? We cannot fathom what the price of this reunion will be, but we care not, any price would be fair. We are Thorne, and we are restored. Some day, we will return for what we left behind, and sunder he who dared to separate us.

Last, speaking of price, we will never have the measure of the debt we owe our fellows. Gretta, Marcel, Gabriel, Olis and Aerik, finer friends were never had by anyone.

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