Red Headed league

Death, Death, and Their Son
An Excerpt from the Tales of Fox

As it turns out, no sooner do I leave Zarurra and her friends, but they change their mind and decide to visit Shangri-La first rather than going to earth, then coming back because it’s more efficient and a lot simpler just as I had been lobbying! Sigh… We found out that their used to be a Pattern in the temple of the Unicorn, and that the big stone had been put on top of it and melted into the Pattern. Sebastian had mentioned a Wizard named Thad who was an expert in ancient lore who lived on Blue, so they were going next to see him. I like ancient lore, so I decided to go along for curiosity’s sake.

Thad was big. Not ‘fat’ big, Arnold Schwarzenegger big. He looked more like a giant blacksmith than a wizard, but wizard he was. He also turned out to be Death’s son. Both of them. As it turns out, as we were to learn later, the Deaths are married. Most of what Thad told us we already knew, but he did tell us the story of Lady Dawn of The Courts of Chaos and Benetar. I knew Benetar’s story, but not Lady Dawn’s part in it. It seems that Benetar had an ultra-powerful grandmother with a compulsion to protect he genetic progeny, even when said progeny, Benetar, went mad and tried to destroy the universe. Benetar was crazy powerful herself, and her grandmother was just unstoppable. With her protection, Benetar was effectively invincible. Dawn is a powerful shape shifter. She took on the form of an acolyte of Benetar and became her lover and stole her genetic material. Dawn then integrated Benetar’s genetics into her own, then turned herself into a virus and impregnated everyone she could get her hands on with Benetar’s DNA. With so many Benetars running around in danger from the original, her grandmother no longer had the compulsive need to protect the original, and Dawn and her allies were able to destroy her. Although it took me a while to put the pieces together, I realized that that was why Zarurra carried the DNA of Nichole Mathews (AKA The Raven Queen, and the reincarnation of Sebastian’s mother Tisk). Nichole’s DNA is Benetar’s DNA, and that DNA had been integrated into Lady Dawn’s DNA when she inserted it into Zarurra’s father to help stabilize his chaos plague. Thad also went into some detail into ancient lineages of Pattern bloodlines. It seems that the various lines all trace back to either Fate (for Zarurra), or Dworkin (my own).

Thad also had some information about the Black Spire. He confirmed that it is a series of magical machines that reincarnate those that are linked to them. Thad was involved in the ongoing effort to find and eliminate the various hubs of the machines scattered through the Burl. He informed us that the Black Spiral was created by Maelstrom, an ally of the Talisman and the founder of the Maelstrom Empire that has been so troubling to Zarurra of late, not the Talisman himself. He also had come to suspect that this Maelstrom was still alive even though he had been purportedly destroyed. He showed us a picture of hum, which Zarurra was to later identify as appearing to be a man named Rigel, who works with my Aunt Maggie the Red at the Ursuline Academy. Interesting. Thad informed us that he had information that one of the Black Spire nodes was located in Detroit, and that Maelstrom was also supposed to be there. He gave Zarurra the address, and she put talking to her Uncle Lenard about it on her to do list. Rook was his typical dense, inflexible, and egotistical self during this discussion. He doesn’t seem to understand that the Black Spiral is a local creation (meaning it belongs to the realms of the Burl itself) and is not connected to a greater power with influence through the multiverse. It is powered by magic, which is one of the lesser powers. He also tried to tell me what I did and did not understand. While it is true that there is a great deal about the expanded multiverse that I do not understand that he does, he seems to think he is a class of being all by himself. What he doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge is that he is in a group among equals. We may all have different abilities and experiences, but at the core we are like beings and if he doesn’t figure that he isn’t superior to everyone else in the multiverse, then he’s going to get into big trouble someday.

Zarurra next went to see her mother, since the group was also planning to go see Fate afterwards; I tagged along as I was curious to meet her. Rook got Zarurra to have her mother set him up to go see the Deaths, and left us. Yea. Dantalian went with him. Basically, Zarurra filled in her mother about what all she had learned since beginning her quest. Listening to her recount all of the information was when I had my little revelation about Benetar’s and Nichole Mathew’s DNA and how it ended up in Zarurra through Lady Dawn. Zarurra also took the time to vent, yet again, about why all of these various individuals and agencies are trying to kill her. She wanted to know why it was all centered on her. I pointed out to her, that she was the obvious driving force behind the quest to find her father’s lost history. Her siblings were helping her on the quest rather than leading it themselves and the rest of us were tagging along for various other reasons that had no direct connection to her father’s lost memory. Without her, no one else would be bothering to look into it. She took this revelation in her typical fashion. She threw a hissy fit. Admittedly, it was a rather brief and mild one compared to her usual. Perhaps she’s improving her self-control?

For stress relief, her mother suggested she take a break. She seemed reluctant to let matters lie, so I suggested she do so in the 12 Spheres where the time difference would work in her favor. She indicated that the fact that this mystery was out there unsolved would prevent her from relaxing even with time on her side. Ardent Black suggested that she take some time off to see Julian, King of Amber. From her reaction, both verbally and the emotions she was radiating, I gather she ‘has a thing for him.’ Interesting, as he is my great grand uncle. Oh well. Rook sent a message back through Red, saying that the Deaths wanted to speak with her. We were all going to go, but Rook indicated just Zarurra (and Red as she was somehow the vessel for the transportation). Ardent and Tiberius grabbed on and went anyway. That left Alana, Adam, and myself alone with Mrs. Truth. By this point I was thoroughly bored of the endless rehashing of Zarurra’s family tree. It seemed that the visit to Fate had been forgotten, at least for now, and if these people run true to form Zarurra’s meeting with the Deaths will have her scurrying off in a snit for reasons I won’t know, since I wasn’t invited to her meeting, to other places unknown, which I will likely not care about, and leave the rendezvous with Fate, which was my interest, forgotten. My place and my quest lie in my studies at Shangri-La, and it is high time I got back to them.

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Space Pirates are Annoying
An Excerpt from the Tales of Fox

Really annoying. All I wanted to do was go home and resume my training away from all of this craziness, but then Avandra/Sparrow showed up and decided to stick her nose in things. Specifically, she felt the need to dump all of my true family history on me all at once. It was somewhat traumatic to say the least, and also significantly bizarre that I had trouble believing it. Avandra had her little mad scientist minion pull up my DNA profile along with that of my ‘mothers.’ Where did she get her hands on all that genetic material? Nosey little #&$%!!! Not that helped convince me. I know what a DNA profile looks like, but I don’t have the knowledge of the genome necessary to read it straight out. For all I know she was showing me the DNA groupings of a family of field mice. It was all extremely intrusive, and extremely tactless. Still… I couldn’t ignore it. I could have happily lived all my life not knowing this mess, but now that I did, there were issues that needed addressing, and I can’t turn away from that. Only ignorance is bliss. With knowledge comes the responsibility to act, else one is guilty of negligence. I could not let this rift in my family stand, assuming, of course, that what Avandra told me was true. At least I got a tour of Avandra’s starship out of it. That was cool.

I settled upon my… I guess one would call her my stepmother, which I can handle, but wrapping my head around my ‘stepfather’… well that’s going to take some getting used to. I chose to speak to her first because I surmised she would be the person with the most intimate knowledge of the situation combined with the least incentive to lie to me. She confirmed what Avandra had told me. I went next to Claire, to get the perspective of the other side of my family. I didn’t want to discuss it with Shion yet, because it will change the nature of our relationship, and I’m not ready for that to happen until I know how I want that change to take shape. That way once it happens, I know where and how to exert my influence. But for now I decided to question Claire. Of my ‘aunts’ she is the one who I am closest to, and I trust her. Her viewpoint was depressingly similar to Penny’s. I did, however, learn a bit more about the motivations and reactions my ‘mother.’ Perhaps there is hope for her in this. We’ll see. I want to confront both of my parents at the same time, and hash this out together. I know it will be a traumatic experience for all of us, but I think it will be good for us as well. As things stand right now, everything is frozen, and there is unresolved pain, anger, anguish, frustration, confinement, and guilt. I think that we need to confront this together so we can face the pain, bare the guilt, and let go of the anger. I have no illusions that we will be one happy family, but at least we might all be able to look each other in the face without flinching.

But first there’s the not so little matter of that compulsion my ‘mother’ put in my ‘father’s’ head. I need to get rid of that and fully restore ‘his’ free will if ‘he’ is to confront my mother on equal footing in my little group therapy session. Aside from killing ‘him,’ again, and reconstructing him once more, (which is absolutely out of the question as far as I’m concerned, and I’m pretty sure ‘he’ wouldn’t be too keen on the process either) the only possible place I can foresee finding a solution is through The Way. My understanding of The Way is primitive at best, and I will need to walk much further upon its path before I will have the skill and influence to help my ‘father’ out of his predicament, but as his daughter I feel an absolute obligation to free ‘him,’ or to see that ‘he’ is freed from this lurking compulsion that my ‘mother’ has imbedded in his psyche so that he may once again have a truly free will, rather than the illusion of it she has left him with. I need a guide for this road, and my ‘Aunt’ Adalanta is the one that comes to mind.

My ‘stepmother’ I gave leave to tell my ‘father’ of my awareness of events, however, I need my ‘mother’ to remain ignorant of my knowledge until I am ready to face her. I guess I know how Luke felt when he went to go and reclaim Darth Vader on The Moon of Endor. Claire agreed to keep my enlightenment a secret until I decided what to do with it, but she warned me that if Shion were to find out, she would be unable to forebear informing my ‘mother.’ So I must now keep my thoughts veiled from my foster family as well. Since I wasn’t sure how this would change things between us, or more importantly how and how much I want things to change between us, this is no great trauma. However, it does mean that I must keep the whole storey close to the vest, as it were, in order to keep my knowledge of it from getting back to the wrong ears. Oh well…

Getting leave from Shion to go and train with Adalanta was easy, and I managed to do so without even lying, although there was a good bit of motivations that I kept silent. I also, truthfully, explained that I was curious to meet Maggie the Red, and check out her academy for greater beings. Before I left, I used The Myst to slip off and visit my newly discovered great-grandmother and my two half-sisters. Since my great-grandmother was an oracle, and Adalanta lives in Arbor where Zarurra was heading, I asked her about Zarurra’s prophecy problems. She was able to provide me with some information that Zarurra might find useful, not to mention some additional information on the machine demons and their powers along with a device to help protect me from them. I also got a few Trumps, and a super-soaker filled with holy water from my sister Claire. Claire is the younger of the two, and more lighthearted. Gabriel is very reserved, and I haven’t got much of a read on her yet. I get the feeling she thinks I might be more trouble than I’m worth. Oh well.

‘Aunt’ Adalanta agreed to train me in The Way. I had thought I would be staying with her in Arbor for some time, and have the opportunity to visit with Maggie the Red, but Adalanta took me almost immediately back to Blue to visit Shangri-La. Oddly enough, I ran into Zarurra and company there. Apparently some of her ancestors had dwelled in Shangri-La for a time, and she was looking for remnants. I passed on great-grandmother’s information to her, but she had already found out more about her prophecy in Arbor, and the information was apparently not needed. Oh well. She did, however, appreciate the additional info on the machine demons. Rook immediately revealed that he had not been paying attention in our big meeting with Zarurra’s uncle Lenard by asking a series of questions which Lenard had covered in depth. I guess he was too busy ogling Eureka. He then began jumping to a series of incorrect conclusions about the powers of the machine demons. When I shot them down, he then proved that he hadn’t been paying attention to what I had just been saying by berating me for insisting on things that I was unsure of. I had to firmly point out to him that, while there was a lot of things I did not know about the machine demons, the ideas he was spouting off contradicted with the facts that I did know, and had been specifically told. Namely he had begun to espouse the belief that the machine demons drew their power from the black-spirals the Talisman had created. I had to repeatedly remind him that the machine demons and their powers predated the Talisman, and that yes, this was one of the facts I was informed of for sure. He really is a most insufferable and annoying fellow. The only useful bit of deduction that that needless argument shook lose, was that I realized that since the Talisman had at one point enslaved the machine demons, and that according to Lenard the black-spires were a mix of technology and magic, it was possible that they have been used to make the black-spires.

Zarurra discovered that her ancestors had left for Red and helped found The Monastery of the Sidreal Healers. Since I was familiar with this place, and had the means to get there, I offered to guide her there. Adalanta approved of my gesture. Red also had some business there with a man named Sebastian, although she would not say what it was. Shion had told me of Sebastian. He was very old, and had been around for centuries, and I thought it might be wise to ask him for help in identifying Zarurra’s kin.

Before we were able to leave, however, a vampire made an appearance and murdered a child to get Rook’s attention. An utterly useless gesture, as Rook apparently doesn’t pay attention to anybody, and also utterly vile. I was also shocked to see a vampire out and about under the sun. From what the others told me afterwards, it appears that the sunscreen trick from Blade actually works. How very unsettling. In order to escape, the vampire blew up his own head. Apparently, he had access to a black-spire, and destroyed his body so that his spirit could escape and reincarnate elsewhere. A strange thing happened then. Zarurra began talking to the air. Adalanta and I could sense a presence there, and we surmised that Zarurra was speaking to the spirit of the dead boy whom she could apparently see. Adalanta advised me to take Zarurra into The Myst. This I did, and to my surprise the boy was not only visible in the Myst, but solid as well. Zarurra took his hand, and I conducted them through The Myst, allowing it to take us where we needed to be. We ended up in Death’s living room. Apparently, he was running late due to the sudden and unexpected death. It was an interesting experience. I took Zarurra back to Shangri-La, where her sister was freaking out over our sudden disappearance. I let Zarurra comfort her, and then Dantalian and I took them to a gate to Red that let out near The Monastery of the Sidreal Healers.

I asked for us to see Sebastian, but he was something of a recluse and didn’t accept visitors so I settled for sending a note requesting an audience. While we waited for Sebastian, we went to the founders’ tomb so Zarurra could look upon her kin. One of them left some type of symilcron embedded in the lid of his tomb, and Zarurra was able to access it and learn a bit of additional information. Sebastian did show up. He talked first with Red, about what I did not hear. He seemed very interested in Zarurra’s predicament, and managed to talk her out of a blood sample for analysis. The analysis was swift, and yielded some useful information. Zarurra had five primary contributors to her genetic makeup rather than the usual two. After talking it out we were able to sort them out. Apparently, Zarurra’s ancestors had been suffering from some sort of malady, and Sebastian identified it as something called chaos plague. It was an affliction that caused shape shifters to lose control of their bodies and become formless blobs of shifting DNA. This explained his stint as the shapeless ‘Devourer’ and ancestor of the were-rats and sifters. According to Sebastian, the treatment was for another shape sifter to infuse the victim with their own DNA in order to stabilize them. It appeared that two individuals had done so. One was an ancient and powerful being named Dwrokin, who, incidentally, I apparently trace my own line to. The other was the Lady Dawn of the Empire of the Spire in The Courts of Chaos. Lady Dawn also appeared to have added the fourth DNA strand for some unknown reason of her own. Oddly enough, this Fourth strand was also part of Sebastian’s make up. The first and fifth strands were not in Sebastian’s files, though he assumed they were her mother and father. I may not by a genetics expert, but I did pay attention in biology class. At my suggestion, Sebastian ran a comparison and found the three ‘inserted’ contributors were indeed all associated through Zarurra’s male contributor, the first strand, and that the fifth strand was Zarurra’s female contributor, thus confirming the identity of her parents, and that all of the ‘weirdness’ came in through her father. I inquired into the predicament of my ‘father’ with Sebastian to see if he had any other options that I had not yet considered, but all he was able to come up with was the afore mentioned ‘plan A’ which I had already discarded as unacceptable.

Dantalian revealed that he had had some type of vision in a structure called The Temple of the unicorn back in Shangri-La, and had received a knife and a prophesy of his own. The prophecy was that Dantalian would use the knife to end three beings that could not be killed. The first would bless him, the second he need only ask why, and he would become either the third or the greatest assassin ever depending on whether he remembered the fundamental rule of existence. That rue is that nothing ever ends. Zarurra was particularly interested in this, as her own prophesy said something about her confronting three beings who could not be killed. The blade held strange power that I could sense but not understand. It appeared to be both directly connected to Pattern, and totally unrelated to it at the same time. Weird. Sebastian was able to inform Zarurra that the DNA strand that they shared was associated with the Raven Queen, whom Zarurra knew is a friend of her mother. Dantalian and Rook wanted to go to some garden and have a talk with fate. Zarurra decided that she was going to visit her mother. I offered to take her, but she had one of those Trumps that was of her mother, and she decided to use that. Dantalian and Rook decided to go with her, and then from there they would all go and talk to Fate. Afterwards, they were considering going back to Shangri-La to take a closer look at the Temple of the Unicorn. My goal is to help my father, and that means progressing upon The Way which meant returning to Shangri-La to continue my studies with Adalanta. So I took my leave of Zarurra once again, and left for the gate back to Blue. From there I can use The Myst to return to Shangri-La. Due to the time difference between the 12 Spheres and the places Zarurra and her friends are visiting, I don’t expect to see them again for several years, perhaps decades even, if they do indeed come back to Shangri-La.

Just out of curiosity, however, I think I’ll look into this Temple of the Unicorn myself while I’m there…

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The End?
An Excerpt from the Tales of Fox

There was something in The Myst, as I was returning to the hotel. There isn’t supposed to be anything in The Myst except that which has permission to travel through it and the occasional lost being. Whatever these things were, they were moving around freely in it. There were three of them. From what I could tell from watching them, I don’t think they were truly in The Myst. They were using some type of strange magic to hover about the hotel, and, although I could be wrong, I think whatever they were doing was giving them a presence in The Myst as a side effect. I tried to get Versak’s attention, but I couldn’t I did, however, manage to get the attention of one of the beings. It came over to me. It looked like some type of bizarre marionette without strings. I tried to question it, but it would only respond in questions. When I called it on this, it simply asked me if always responding with questions was not indeed the way to wisdom. The practice of answering questions with another question is a teaching tool that is used to force the original questioner to think, and to thereby come up with the answer to their original question using their own powers of deduction. This is particularly useful to prompt a student to reason through a problem, and thus learn how to solve such problems, rather than just showing them an answer. It is also useful to guide a petitioner to wisdom and understanding, things which cannot be taught directly but only learned through one’s own experience. But sometimes, it’s merely a technique for evasion, which blocks the flow of knowledge, and impedes understanding. Therefore, answering a question with a question is not always a path to wisdom. Of course, I didn’t bother to elaborate on this to the creature; I simply supplied it with a strait, “No.” It didn’t seem to approve of that answer, but well… In the end, all it would say of its identity and purpose was that I should, “Ask the one in there what the demons have told her.” I was, at least, able to get confirmation from it that it was indeed talking of Zarrura. The ‘demon’ also mentioned something about her preceding the destruction of Atlantis as had once before been attempted. Then it strolled off into The Myst and vanished along with its companions.

Once the encounter was over, I immediately returned back to Atlantis. I was concerned about Zarrura, of course, but the ‘demon’s’ comment led me to believe she had not been harmed, and there was nothing I could have done to help her if she had been anyway. Therefore, my first duty was to get home and report the breach in The Myst. I spoke to my mother, and she was quite alarmed. She was able to identify the creature as a Machine Demon. Machine Demons, she told me, were ancient creatures of terrible power and evil. They were distinctly different creatures ‘regular’ demons, and their existence predated the current cosmological setup and the Burl. Shion described them as a group of nerds sitting around a table deciding how the universe should play out, and with the power to make it happen. They should definitely NOT have been in The Myst, and both their presence there and interest in Zarrura’s quest were highly alarming. My mother informed me that she had no idea how they might have breached The Myst, but that she would bring this before the other elder gods, and that they would definitely look into the matter.

Once I had finished reporting the breach, and learned all I could about the culprits for the time being, I returned to the hotel to check on Zarrura and the others. To say that Zarrura was in a foul mood when I returned would not have done it justice. Apparently, the Machine Demons had threatened to ‘get her’ in her sleep if she continued on the path she was, so she had ordered Derix, her dragon, to patrol the hallways, and enlisted a vampire, of all things, to guard her in her sleep. I tried to tell her what I had discovered about the Machine Demons, but when I tried to explain that they were actually not ‘true’ demons, but something ancient and different, she refused to listen; insisting that it didn’t matter what type of demon it was, and that all she cared about was that it was yet another group trying to interfere with her purpose. She disregarded all my attempts to clarify that, despite the name, these creatures were in fact, not a type of demon. So be it. Arden Black came out of his room about that point on a quest for alcohol. Apparently he’d been having a rather sensual dream about Avandra, only to be interrupted by the thoughts of his ‘clone’ brothers, who are still plotting against Zarrura and her friends. According to Arden, they intend to assassinate Rook to make it easier to get to Zarrura. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I should be pleased or concerned by this news.

Since the night was pretty much ruined, Zarrura decided to let everyone else in on the fun, and wake them up and explain what had been going on. Derix had reported that Alana and her dragon had left, and that her brother Nox was off in some woman’s room. Rook was in with Eureka, and unsurprisingly not answering his door. Adam and Red were getting laid, and we thought best not to disturb them. Before we could get to Bobby Fea Roberts’ room, however, I felt a strange sensation from it, almost if someone or something was being ‘yanked’ out of the room. We immediately went to investigate, and found Nox. Zarrura instantly assumed that his presence here was due to reasons similar to what Rook and Red were up to (admittedly, Derix’s comment had sort of implied it), but he informed us that he had been asking Bobby if she could help them find out some info on their family, and that she had just gotten up and left, presumably to do some research somewhere. There was little more to be done that night, so I went and found a place to bed down until breakfast.

Bobby Roberts returned at breakfast, but before we all listened to her report, Zarrura gave a description of her encounter with the ‘demons.’ Even though she had insisted on remaining ignorant of their true nature, I felt it necessary to try and clarify this once again since everyone else was now hearing about it, and they deserved the opportunity not to be deceived by her ignorance. Zarrura, however, blew up in my face when I tried to make the clarification, once again insisting that I was arguing semantics. We got into a shouting match as I tried to cut through her hysteria and inform her and the rest of the group that despite the name, these things were not demons. She refused to acknowledge the point, and suggested that if I wasn’t happy with the way things were going in their group, then I should feel free to part ways with them. Despite the raised tempers, this did not come across as a kiss off, but a genuine reminder that the responsibility of Zarrura’s quest rested on her alone, and that I was not bound to stay here if I didn’t want to. After thinking about it for a moment, I agreed with her, and left for home.

As I was traveling home through The Myst, a ‘rope’ came out of nowhere and lassoed me! This was something else that was not supposed to be here, and I was damned if I was going to let some bizarre flying rope grab me and drag me off to parts unknown. I sliced through it with my sword, and hurried back to Atlantis to prevent anything else from coming at me through The Myst. We seem to have a very serious security breach. Mother agreed, and sent me to report my experiences to Versak. There was little more he could add to what my mother had told me about the Machine Demons, but he was able to inform me that the rope was Bobby Roberts attempting to come back. After milling it around for a week or so, I decided to return and see what she wanted. Due to the time difference between Atlantis and earth, I had of course only been gone for a few minutes. Apparently, Bobby had been off someplace outside of the Burl called Arbor, and been researching Zarrura’s family genealogy. She had been calling me back, because she had met someone there who was my spitting image. When she’d approached this person and mentioned that she had met someone in the Burl that looked just like her, her response had been: “Oh, my twin.” From the way Bobby was talking, it sounded as if she said it in the same tone one would use to notice a car that happened to look just like theirs. Since Bobby didn’t indicate that this individual had inquired at all further into my status, or even ask Bobby to say “hi” for her, I can only conclude she has about as much interest in me as my birth mother.

Zarrura apologized for yelling at me, but said she was angry about my repeated arguments over what were to her semantics. Encouraged by her calm, I once again attempted to explain that what she considered to be semantics were actually important details. It once again, started an argument. This time Rook tried to intervene. He did realize the fact that we were talking at cross-purposes, but what he lectured on was that different things go by different names to different people, so we needed to agree on a name. I tried again to explain that it was the semantics of the name, but that we were discussing to different types of creatures. More fighting. This time Red cut in. She got it. What’s more, Zarrura let her talk long enough without interrupting her to get around to the part where she was able to explicitly state that these creatures probably had different properties than traditional demons, and that it was likely a good idea to go ahead and differentiate the names so we could group their abilities properly. Every one acted as if this was a revelation, as if that wasn’t the whole point of giving something a name. A thing has a name so everyone can associate a quick to speak reference with its identities and properties without having to list them all in detail every time the thing is brought up. Unless of course you’re speaking in Entish, in which case the name is the description. Ents very rarely have misunderstandings, but even their most basic conversations take hours. Rook, naturally, claimed this was the point he had been trying to make. I suppose I can’t truly speak to his intentions on that score, but even if it was what he meant, it was certainly not what he said. This was a similar argument to what Zarrura responded with, saying that she had understood that I had meant that demons and Machine Demons were different creatures, but she did not at the time care about getting the names right. Fine. But that’s not what she had said at the time. She had said that I was arguing semantics. Trying to explain that cats are not the same as dogs, even if they are both animals, is not semantics any more than it is trying to explain that, despite the fact that they are all ancient evil bastards, demons and Machine Demons are different beings. Of course, she proceeded to tear my head off, again, for not realizing that she understood what I was saying (her comments about an evil demon is an evil demon I don’t care was just a rant that someone else was involved not that she didn’t understand that the creatures we were talking about weren’t really demons why couldn’t I tell that), and that my attempts at attempting to make sure she understood (as she refused to acknowledge the point) were the problem. Then, once she and finished tearing my head off, both she and Rook proceeded to jump down my throat for not informing them of the specific differences already, and making a big deal of the ‘names’ thing instead. I wanted to scream! How could I tell them the differences between two different creatures if they refused to admit that we were talking about two different creatures? And how the HELL can I tell Zarrura understands that there is a difference when she is screaming at me at the top of her lungs that she doesn’t care what I call them they’re all the same as far as she is concerned. I refrained from screaming. I told them as much as I knew, which wasn’t much. My whole point from the beginning was that I didn’t know much about them, but that we needed to make sure we kept the fact that they were not actual demons in mind so that we wouldn’t assume we knew thongs about them we didn’t. Only Red understood that, and no one else would let me talk long enough to try and explain that myself. Also, sometime in all this Dantalion found the time to call me a blabbermouth.

After we finished that little spat, Zarrura thanked Bobby Roberts for actually being helpful (I so wanted to smack her), and announced that she would be journeying to Arbor next, rather than Shangri-La, to follow up on the information Bobby had brought. She extended an invitation to us all to come with her if we wanted, but that none of us should feel obligated to accompany her if our paths lead elsewhere. I considered her invitation. I had met Zarrura and company because I had felt the need to leave Atlantis and to take Dantalion with me. That seems to have borne out, as Dantalion has discovered a karmic dept he needs to collect, and Zarrura has bound herself to go to the place he needs to be. However, since I have met these individuals, I have never gotten the sense that I was meant to stay with them at all. Originally, I was tagging along with Zarrura solely to explore my own origins, and I thought she and hers might be able to take me to places I might need to go to do that. However, I had since learned that the strange powers of my blood were a curse, handed down from parent to child and that any in-depth exploration into them would lead to madness and forever becoming wrapped up in power struggles of epic proportions beyond one’s ability to ever fully grasp or truly influence. I had ceased being interested in my past. Clearly, my blood family had little to no interest in me. My mother abandoned me when I was a small child, and has since been actively avoiding me. I possibly have a sister (assuming it wasn’t a misunderstanding between Bobby and this Maggie “the Red” woman), but she clearly could care less about me. On Atlantis, I have a mother and father who love me, siblings to look out for, seven ‘aunts’ on my mother’s side, an extended family pantheon on my fathers, and a place among them with my own portfolio. What more do I need. If Zarrura’s experience is any indicator, attempting to trace my family line among the Pattern blooded will only lead to frustration and dire consequences. She can have it. I’m not sure how she expects the discovery of her father’s origins to impact her family. Regardless of his lost memory, he married a woman whom he loves and who loves him, and he has several children of mutual affection. What more do they need? As far as I can determine, she is going through all of this to find the truth solely for its own sake. For my part, I now know who my ‘real’ family is, and I don’t need to suffer the curse of revealing the other merely for the sake of knowing that of which I do not care.

With that in mind, the only real reason I had been accompanying Zarrura this last day was because she and the others had been planning to go to Shangri-La, a place I wanted to visit. Since that trip was canceled, I wasn’t particularly getting along with anyone, and I no longer had any desire to leave the Burl, I really had no reason to burden Zarrura further with my company. Claire and my mother had been talking about me keeping Zarrura from accidentally destroying the cosmos (none of us thought she would willingly do it on purpose), but that wasn’t really in my power. Claire wanted me to be ready to kill her should the need arise, but I never possessed the ability to do that even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. No, that job lies with Rook. Supposedly, and everyone seems to believe this, Rook knows when something becomes a threat to the proper continuance of creation and needs to be ended. If it gets to the point where Zarrura needs to die, then Rook will not only be in a much better position to know it, he’s also far better equipped to carry it out. Shion wanted me to be there in order to warn her that she was about to do something dire. However, it has become clear to me now that if I was to notice her reaching for a lever labeled: ‘pull here to destroy world,’ it would end up being in a language she couldn’t read very well, and when I pointed it out she’d just quibble with me over the translation and then yank it out of spite to prove me wrong. So, I’m not going to be much help in the revelation department. Besides, Bobby Roberts has the uncanny ability to see the links between things and trace them to find the information necessary to understand them. If anyone is going to see an impending disaster coming in time to avert it, it will be Bobby. Bobby also has the virtue of being able to communicate with Zarrura in a manner that she can understand, where as either I constantly have my foot in my mouth, or this group is particularly obtuse. I’m beginning to think it is a combination of the two, and unfortunately for me it seems the former is just as prevalent in that mix as the latter. But at least Bobby is there to help Zarrura see what is happening around her. If anything is going to stop Zarrura from bringing about the end of the cosmos, it will be those two. If they fail, then there is little I can do about it.

Somewhere in all of this, Rook launched into a speech about the different customs and ideas of morality in different places, and it seems that what he naturally assumed to be isn’t always the case with other people and other places, and that the rules actually do change. At first, I thought he was actually being insightful and displaying a degree of flexibility and understanding unheard of among samurai. I was prepared to be impressed. But I was wrong. Instead of seeking understanding, what he wanted was for the group to come up with an internal system of rules that we could take everywhere it went. Naturally, the first ‘rule’ he suggested was that we absolutely not interfere with Rook’s actions, as they would be for the benefit of the group even if our own cultural interpretations wouldn’t immediately recognize it, and that the delay in making him explain himself could ruin it for us all. This progressed into a three-way argument between Rook, Red, and Bobby on the definitions of torture, and prisoners and what was and what wasn’t the mistreatment of them. At this point I made my way to an increasingly exasperated Zarrura, who seemed to just want to get on with her trip, and said my farewells. I had no reason to go to Arbor, and so we parted on cordial terms, even I we aren’t necessarily friends. I took my leave of her amongst her still quarrelling companions, and called The Myst to me.

I am so looking forward to being home again…

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Clones, Prophicies, and Geneologies, Oh My!
An Excerpt From the Tales of Fox

It was supposed to be a simple walk through the woods to investigate a gate. Supposed to be. As we were walking towards the gate, I felt a sudden surge of mental focus towards our group from a plethora of minds around us. Minds bent on grim duty. I was able to shout a warning just as the blaster bolts began to fly. Our attackers wore some kind of stealth suit that produced a cloaking effect similar to the stealth generator featured in the Predator movies. Unfortunately, they also provided some type of metal defense as well, and I couldn’t get anything from them beyond their focus on us, which also disrupted some of my defensive abilities. I drew my sword but they were content to snipe at us with blaster pistols from range, and I was having too much trouble tracking in on them to close myself. Bobby Fea seemed to be able to sense them somehow, and she caused the forest to attack and entangle them. They were strong enough that it didn’t slow them down all that much, but it sure made them easier to track in on for the rest of us. I drew my pistol, but never got a shot off. Zarrura managed to snag one, and ripped off its facemask. Apparently, she thought she knew the man, until his identical called down to her from on top of a tree where he was standing next to Rook. I theorized that with the mask off, whatever was giving them a metal defensive boost was breached, so I used a bit of telekinesis to wrench his head around and force eye contact. My theory was correct. I was able to pull the information I wanted out of his head, although his mind was strong enough to make me work for it.

Apparently, our attackers were a bunch of clones, and one of them seemed to have broken away from whatever organization they served and become Zarrura’s friend. This organization was called the Maelstrom Empire, and it seemed to be an interplanetary star empire based somewhere in the 1000 worlds. Their empress has an advisor known only as the Prophet of Divided Purpose. According to this clones mind, said prophet issued a prophecy that Zarrura was going to revive an ancient evil that had destroyed/enslaved whole universes. All he knew about this evil being was that he was called The Talisman. Since it was prophesied that she could not be persuaded to halt her course, the clone’s strike force had been sent on a preemptory strike to eliminate her before she could succeed. When I shouted this information to Zarrura, the clone jerked his head and fell dead. I guess he realized what I was doing, and was willing to die to prevent me from gaining more information. It was a futile jester, since I had already gotten all of the pertinent information out of him, but nonetheless it certainly demonstrated his resolve in a most spectacular manner.

The friendly clone somehow produced a Robotech Valkyrie out of thin air, and began blasting our now puny attackers. Between that, and the combat skills of Rook, Tiberius, and the others our attackers were quickly defeated. Dantalion used a novel, yet highly effective, technique. He let them hit him, and used his influence with karma to cause them to suffer significantly more than they dealt out. Based off of the principles of karma I have learned, what wounds they inflicted were returned to them times three. Most of the clones somehow escaped once they realized they were going to lose; they just ‘popped’ out of existence. Some type of trans-dimensional teleportation I think. One was prevented from escaping this way, and he made for the gate. The mech and Zarrura’s dragon stopped him, but not, as I was to find out later, before he tried to use the gate and Tiberius somehow stopped him and stole his destination coordinates.

Counting the guy the mech caught, there were three survivors from the enemy force variously wounded. Bobby and Red preformed triage, and attended to the wounded, theirs and ours. Somehow Bobby got two of them to talk to her fairly freely. I could feel her doing something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Rook got a hold of the other one. He some type of mental ‘discussion’ with him, which ended in Rook breaking the clones hand because he had “lied to him.” Apparently the dutiful samurai has yet heard that it is a prisoner’s obligation to resist his captors. He then proceeded to order us that his hand should remain broken for at least a week. Red was incensed by this. She took custody of the injured party and proceeded to administer medical treatment. Rook complained about this, but faced with Red’s vehemence, decided that he would ‘permit’ the healing, but would re-break the hand afterwards. Red told him in no uncertain terms that she would kick his ass if he tried. I think I like Red.

What gets me is that no one seemed to be interested in the equipment left behind by our vanquished foes. Very potent blaster pistols and stealth suits of that caliber, plus psychic dampening and no one even gave them a first look much less a second. Well, except for Rook. He held one out at arms length to look at it like it was a rancid piece of moldy bread. Then he made some disparaging comment about ninjas. Damned arrogant samurai. Samurai are so inflexible… It’s not that they stick to a code of honor that bothers me; it’s that they think the whole world, multiverse in Rook’s case, works according to those principles, and that any that don’t are evil aberrations. It’s not that their trying to do the right thing either. They got a set of rules that they stick to, even when it’s impractical, or will result in great harm to their cause or other things they profess to care about. They’re just so damn inflexible it drives me crazy. I guess that’s why there are still a few ninja clans around, even if most of them have given up their more traditional employment options, and there are no samurai orders. Oh sure, enthusiasts and historians keep their martial art form and bushido code around, but there are no formal organizations that consist of actual samurai. I’d point this out to Rook, but he would just dismiss it out of hand. He’s a samurai, therefore it must be the right and only correct path because he says so. End of story. I can’t remember why I was actually bothering to talk to him, but at some point we were having a conversation where he told me that he was a god, and didn’t need my, or anyone else’s, permission to do anything he so chose to do. I responded that depending on where he was, he might very well need my permission. It was an elliptical response to the authorities of pantheons over their personal territories. A samurai of the eastern traditions should have easily picked up the elliptical meaning, and acknowledged the sovereign authority of other ‘shoguns.’ Instead, he reasserted his divine authority to do what he pleased, when he pleased, wherever he pleased. He doesn’t seem to get the idea, that we are all of us here deities of some form or another, and that we may have influences and authorities of our own that may from time to time trump his. One of these days that asshole’s arrogance is going to get him into real trouble. I’m not sure if I want to be around to see it or not, as it’s possible that trouble could splash over to any around him. I don’t think I like Rook.

Anyway, I collected some samples to check out later, and while I was trying not to let the idiot samurai drive me mad, Tiberius had taken Zarrura to speak with her. He informed her that he had retrieved the last fellow’s destination coordinates while blocking his attempt at using the gate, and offered to take Zarrura there. It seems that, until this point, Zarrura had not realized that Tiberius was a cyborg. I have noticed that at least one of his implants has some special properties, but I thought that the fact he was a cyborg was fairly obvious. Apparently not. Anyway, Zarrura decided to stay the course and look for the heretics these wererats mentioned. I used The Myst to snag us some warm weather gear, and off we went through the gate. As it turned out, my supposition was correct, and we did end up in the Shifters’ capital city on Grey. After a brief debate, it was decided to go to the city library to look for Zarrura and Alana’s answers.

Since I wasn’t sure what they were looking for, and I have yet to find the proper phrasings for my own questions, I was about useless here. The only research project I might have been able to lend a hand on was on this Talisman bit, but the others had that well in hand, to the point of monopolizing most of the books on that subject, and many of the librarians. I was all set for a long and boring wait, when I felt some type of mental contact. The mind was familiar, but I couldn’t really get a sense of who it was without opening up to it. I was a little nervous about doing so, and before I could make up my mind the contact ended. However, the sender did manage to push through the idea that I should “open a door.” I figured, what the hay, so I did. On the other side was my Aunt Claire. She indicated a pressing need to talk to Zarrura, and asked me to bring her to her office back in Vegas for a talk. Incidentally, she declined to explain just how she managed to contact me. She said it had something to do with someone called “The Laughing Man.” Claire said it was urgent, so I found Zarrura among the stacks and informed her of my aunt’s request. She agreed to come, but decided to leave her sister and most of the others here to continue their research, some of which seemed to be paying off. The two sisters had managed to tentatively identify their Uncle Lenard as one of the original people to deal with this Talisman fellow. I recognized him as Moradin.

Zarrura decided to bring Adam and his wife with us, and we found them necking in some of the more remote stacks. I guess they were a little bored with the research too. I them all back through the portal back to Blue so I could call The Myst to take us to Aunt Claire’s office. Along the way, I discovered that Tiberius had decided to tag a long in his cricket form. Zarrura and I informed him that next time he should just ask. When we arrived at Aunt Claire’s, we spoke briefly about the Laughing Man. We didn’t seem to get anywhere. All Aunt Claire knew was that her Family’s computer system had red flagged this, and indicated that Zarrura was somehow associated with it, or it was somehow associated with her. The name meant nothing to any of the rest of us. Tiberius just skulked, and Adam and Red sat in the back whispering constantly to each other. I felt that Adam was slightly concerned about something, but I can’t read Red at all. Considering their temperaments and behavior together, for all I know they were arguing over whether or not it was a good idea to start making out in the occupied office of a mob boss.

We did, however, manage to make some progress with the Maelstrom Empire and The Talisman. Aunt Claire had some familiarity with them, and knew a little bit of information on the prophet and the empress. It was enough for Zarrura to identify the prophet as someone named Brand, who is apparently a pattern-wielding psychopath who wants to destroy reality itself so he can recreate the entire multiverse according to his own whims. He also happens to be Arden Black’s (that’s the clone) father and grandfather. Thank you Tom Arnold. The Empress is also his daughter, which explains why she is so beholden to him. She is also Arden’s aunt and sister. This is a very…compact family tree. We couldn’t decide if Brand was trying to get us to bring about the Talisman’s revival, or if he saw him as a dangerous rival, and genuinely feared what we might accidentally stumble upon. Of course, he might have just been being an asshole and come up with the whole idea as an excuse to sick the Maelstrom Empire on us. Aunt Claire had a little bit of information on the Talisman, mostly though it was on one of his minions called The Anointed. The Anointed was a demon possessed S.O.B. who went around lit on fire and causing nasty problems. It was also rumored that he had a child. When we delved into it, it seemed very likely that that child was Tiberius’ father, Frank. Claire had no desire to see the Talisman reborn, and apparently The Family had been having problems with the Maelstrom Empire for some time, so was willing to offer us what assistance she could against them and The Talisman problem.

Next, Zarrura decided to pick up the others so we could all go visit her Uncle Lenard in Chicago. Because of the different temporal flow between earth and the 12 spheres, I asked Aunt Claire to help us collect our friends. She obliged us, and used her fragment of the Key of Light to open a door back to the Library. The Key was able to equalize the time difference to about six to eight hours as opposed to two or three months. Once we had collected everyone, I took them all to Uncle Lenard’s custom car auto shop where we ran into the rest of Zarrura’s siblings, Alana’s twin brother Nox, and their elder sister Shilo. Rook’s girlfriend, Eureka was also there. She was…lively. Once everyone was inside, except Arden who went to buy a comic book, we compared notes. I must admit, it was odd to see the Dwarven All Father as a six-foot plus blond. Dantalion asked about the monks of Shangri-La, and for a moment I thought he was actually beginning to take our studies seriously. No such luck, apparently he and Rook had found references that said the founder of Shangri-La was one of those who had originally fought The Talisman, and they hoped to go there in search for clues.

We listened to Uncle Lenard/ Moradin’s tale of the defeat of the Talisman. It was long, although definitely interesting, but the part that seemed to be most relevant to our current situation was that he got his power by trapping the souls of all those who died in the Burl, and that there had been these places, called Black Spirals, that had been constructed to hold them, and could even be used to recreate a body to put one in. The group that Lenard/ Moradin was part of had done its level best to destroy them all, but he admitted that it might be possible one had survived in secret, lost and forgotten. This was disturbing news, as it was the first indication that the resurrection of the Talisman was even possible. He didn’t know anything about Brand or the Maelstrom Empire.

Just as we were wrapping things up, Arden came back and informed us he had made contact with one Capt. Sparrow, who commanded a starship, and that we should wait here for her, as she might be a valuable contact for information about the Maelstrom Empire. When she arrived, I recognized her as the Goddess Avandra. She was apparently reluctant to help us at first, owning to all the responsibilities and problems she herself had to deal with you see… Zarrura recognized the whining as the deal opener it was, and ended up agreeing to take on the task of…ending Rahn the Remorseless. He is pretty much a murderous rat bastard responsible for genocide and suffering across multiple planes of reality, and, as it happens, somehow related to one or more of our party members (I forget which, these genealogies are getting to complicated for me, even if they don’t seem to branch out all that much. This S*@#% makes my head hurt.) Rahn, it seems, is truly unique, and as such cannot be killed. Nature abhors a vacuum, and any attempt to outright destroy him would be blocked by the universe. But ending him didn’t necessarily mean destroying him as both Rook and Dantalion pointed out. In fact, Dantalion sensed a karmic imbalance, and was quick to volunteer to help, or was quick to have his aid volunteered as he would probably put it. At least he didn’t blame me this time. After agreeing to assist us in exchange for this, and offering her rather sincere, certainly as far as I could tell, regrets to Arden that she didn’t have the time to bead him, Capt. Sparrow took her leave of us.

Somewhere in here, when discussing Brand, a fairy was mentioned that had once betrayed all of my new companions to Brand. Apparently, as part of the initial deception, this fairy lured them to her nightclub, which is not too far from Lenard/ Moradin’s shop here in Chicago. There was some debate as to whether we should next go pay this fairy a visit and ask her some questions about Brand, or if we should instead just go straight to Shangri-La to continue our investigation of The Talisman. Zarrura’s older sister Shilo offered to take us back to her hotel suite for the night so we could sleep on it. Zarrura was all for this idea, she was especially keen on getting an actual honest to god shower and sleeping in a decent bed. No one had any objection to this, so we piled into the limo and headed off to the penthouse suite.

Showers are nice. Hot baths with scented oils and the comforts afforded a deific residence are better. So after everyone else had retired for the night, I called The Myst, and slipped off to visit my mother back on Atlantis. Besides the comforts of home, I really wanted to check in with her since the time differential between earth and Blue meant that I had been gone over a year from her perspective, and I wanted her to know I was all right. I also needed someone to talk to. All of these people who share the bloodline that has this Pattern ability seem to be really screwed up. All of the Pattern wielders I have met or heard of are either universe destroying assholes (such as Brand and this talisman), are related to said assholes and have suspect sanity because of it (Arden & Tiberius, and no, it’s not me that’s questioning their sanity, it’s everyone else who is looking over their shoulders at them), or are just plain assholes (such as Rook). Zarrura and Alana are the most normal ones I’ve met so far, and even their simple quest to find out where their father came from has unleashed multiple dire prophesies of the universe ending magnitude. As she herself has noted, it’s enough to drive her crazy. All this makes me wonder, since my birth mother clearly comes from this bloodline as well, if I keep looking into this am I going to get screwed up as well. Does Pattern drive everyone insane? The deadpan “Yes,” Shion responded with so did not help me feel any better. Still, once I calmed down after that little revelation, she told me that there were a few exceptions, and she gave me a few names I could contact if (probably more like when with this group) I leave the Burl. Oddly enough, Rook’s parents are on that list.

Mother was also nice enough to listen to me vent about Rook and his audacious behavior for a while. I also told her about all that stuff with the Talisman, the Maelstrom Empire, etc… She wasn’t all that worried about Zarrura bringing back the Talisman (we both figure she would turn away from any course once it was proven to lead to that end) like Aunt Claire was, but she was rather concerned with Tiberius possibly being the descendant of the Anointed. It was she herself, back before she split into the Council of the Moon, who defeated him after the demon had been pulled from him and dealt with separately. Before I left, she offered me a contingency incase Tiberius or his dad became a problem.

I also took the time to examine the stealth suite and the blaster I acquired. The suite is a more advanced version of some new polymer technology that is currently in development by the scientific community. Its light bending properties are inherent, and require no power source. The blaster uses internal power cells of some type rather than E-clips, and for the most part is beyond me. These will be useful tools, but for now I’ll leave them here along with my sword since we might be going to a Chicago nightclub tomorrow. Since I do have a conceal and carry permit, I’m definitely brining my 9 mm to said Chicago club. I can always summon the other stuff through The Myst if I need them. If we leave earth or Blue, I may reevaluate my equipment load, but for now this will do. On the way back, I pulled some of the leftover stealth material from our battleground on blue through The Myst, and dropped it off at the R&D section of my company. Since were already onto it, I have little compunction about giving my scientists a little boost. The blaster is far enough advanced that I think introducing it to this world would be a bad thing. At least for now. I spent a full day on Atlantis, but I doubt anyone will notice I was gone since that translates to about only 20 seconds back on earth.

All that’s left for now is to see what tomorrow holds…

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Tex Avery meets Transdimensional Physics
Exerpt from the tales of Fox

So we start the adventure out by jumping into a picture, like something out of a cartoon. I admit, it’s not the manner I was expecting seasoned dimensional travelers to get around. The picture was of a cabin somewhere out by some woods. Zarurra held onto the picture and shoved us through to the actual location, which, fortunately enough turned out to be on Blue. This is especially good, as I can’t see or sense a return portal, so it’s nice to know I can get home from here if necessary. Hopefully it won’t be necessary; surely these people wouldn’t blindly jump through a portal without having a way back. (We will now pause this log so the GM can stop laughing.) We came here, because Zarurra and Alana hoped to find out some clues about their fathers identity. What we found was a pack of were-rats that worshiped their father as “The devourer” a shapeless blob who landed in this place from somewhere “else” devouring the rats that lived there. According to the legends of these were-rats, some of these rats were spit back out with the power to reshape themselves. According to the stories, some of these new creatures became the ancestors of these were-rats. Others, left the faith of the “Devourer,” and went through some gate. From the description, I think they may have become the Shifters, and that the portal might lead to Grey. Something in the description of “The Devourer” seems to have given Zarurra a clue, a reference to a previous experience of some sort, although it meant nothing to me. The others decided that we should go investigate this portal, so it looks like we may be going to Grey.

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The First Footfall...
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

…was like stepping off a cliff, both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. The fear came mostly from the suddenness of it. I was hanging out with Aunt Pashka and Uncle Te-Koro around their campfire enjoying an evening get together, when out of the blue, or black I should say, Aunt Pashka tells me it’s time for me to go on a journey of discovery to help me find my identity and to grow into my new being. Unexpected thou the declaration was, I sensed the truth of it the moment it was out of her mouth. I was to leave immediately, without any delay. To be so suddenly flung into the new and unknown is what made it like stepping off a cliff. It was, however, also quite exhilarating. I have been training for such for a little more than half a decade now with no idea when this moment would come, and I must say at that moment I was hungering for it. So, I went. Not, however, without seeing my mother. Despite Aunt Pashka advice that I should leave before my mother tried to rein me in, I could not just up and abandon her after she took me in as her own daughter. In fact, one of the reasons I was so surprised was that I had expected Shion to be the one to send me on this journey. But then, mother does seem to be tired of the endless toil of quests and trials, the inexorable tide of change on the mortal worlds, and of risking the things she loves. Perhaps her weariness of risking her loved ones in such trials has put her in denial that my time to endure these trials has come. Maybe that is why it had to come from Aunt Pashka and Uncle Te-Koro, and why they bade me avoid her, because mother could not bring herself to do it. But I knew my mother better than that. However much it pained her to see me go, she would never have denied me my destiny, and it would have been an act of cruelty to have denied her the chance to say goodbye. Not to mention I wanted to see her one last time. So I left the fire to find her. Before I did, Aunt Pashka gave me a parting gift, a small black carnivorous bag named Charlie, and told me I would need to bring the son of Amnis, Dantalion.

No sooner than I had left the circle of light, than whom do I meet but Dantalion himself. He has always been hard to read, but his emotions were powerful and unmasked. He claimed he was mad at me because I was an agent of the fate taking him away from Atlantis. As he said this, an image of Aquaya, daughter of The Sea, with a rather…intimate look upon her face flashed from his mind. Of course, her face was not the part of that image on which he was most focused, and h still wore the lay she customarily used for her ‘top.’ I politely pointed out that I was at most an instrument, not an agent, of fate. The difference between which is of course that an instrument is a tool in the hand of another that is used without any inherent action on its own part, while an agent is a voluntary enforcer of its patrons will. A tool has no say in who uses it or how it is employed, while an agent my be held accountable for its choice of patrons. Since Dantalion was seeking me out as a guide for his own quest demanded by his patron, Karma, I was simply a means of travel to be accessed, not an active participant in creating a motivation for his departure, and there for blameless. He tried to justify his use of me as a scapegoat by arguing that the distinction I had pointed out was unimportant semantics. However, such subtle differences are key in the realm of metaphysics, and at the heart of magic and the flow and interaction of the powers that control the universe. I cannot see how a being such as he whose existence is mired in the direct control of an aspect of the interactions of these forces could fail to comprehend this. I guess he spent too much time blowing off his studies to go surfing. Clearly, he was frustrated and just looking for someone he could gripe at as he dared not mouth off directly to karma.

After Dantalion got through venting, he accompanied me as I said goodbye to my mother. As expected, she was not pleased to see me go, but she knew it was something I had to do and so she gave me her blessing, admonished me to call on her or father for help if need be, and bid me farewell. I noticed Dantalion did not bother to bid his mother goodbye. We then set off into the mysts, searching for the place we were needed most…

…Which turned out to be on the outskirts of a cattle ranch in Wyoming. Or so it first appeared. I must have been a bit more overwhelmed by the start of the journey than I had realized, because our newfound escort brought us to the ranch house before I realized we were in fact in the Dreaming. One the owner, Cowboy Bob, was introduced I realized we were in the deific domain of one of the more prominent members of the American Pantheon. There were other guests arriving at the ranch house. I have always sensed a strange…potential for lack of a better term, within myself and within my foster mother, and to my shock, I sensed within the other guests the same strange quality. Also, in these persons this quality, or potential, seemed to be nearly realized. I also noted that several of these individuals were not in their proper form, although I was unwilling to be invasive enough to pull out images of their natural form. I suffered through the inanely mundane dinner conversation, a necessity mandated by the clueless human ranch hands, and seized my chance by volunteering to help clean up with several of the guests. Though the conversation was slow at first, I did manage to learn some significant things during our chores and during the conversations afterwards by the evening fire. The, ‘potential’ seems to be tentatively identified as something called pattern, which is a direct connection to a fundamental pillar of reality, giving the possessing individual control over some aspects of the manifestation of reality, as well as the ability to shift between the planes, which these individuals dubbed ‘shadow shifting.’ How this connection is achieved was vague, but they did mention it requires decent from specific family lines.

One of these beings, Rook, was by turns the most informative, and the most obstinate. He was quick to volunteer some information and facts, but on others he seized upon severe semantic aspects of my questions with which he used to obstruct my search for knowledge seemingly on a whim, sighting ‘point of view’. I know I told Dantalion that semantics and point of view is important when dealing with the kind of things that make up the deific existence, but this guy Rook makes Obi-One Kenobi sound straightforward. However, of more import was the one named Zarurra and her sister and brother. When I managed to discover their true form, I realized that they were all fae. Also, from their conversation, I suspect that they hail from beyond the bounds of The Burl. Three beings, two women and a man with distinguished ears, traveling in a group have pierced a barrier and traveled ‘through shadow’ to stand before me. These three seem to match my dream and, if this Pattern’ is the quality I sense we share they may actually be related to me by blood. I was determined to tag along with whatever adventure they were on. Fortunately, Dantalion and our host’s son Adam made this easy. Dantalion did this by insisting that it was fate that he, and therefore we since I was the source of this in his mind. Adam also wished to accompany the group, and apparently had some influence with the group, who were pleased to have them along. He was kind enough to lend his influence to persuade them to take us along.

Adam also arranged for us all of us to introduce ourselves and give a general rundown of our capabilities. Dantalion, of course, I was already familiar with. In many ways he is a mirror image of me. I am the daughter of the moon; he is the son of the sun. His behavior is often tinged with a childish immaturity, such as the way in which he continues to blame me for being sent on quest by his governing power, and yet he is mature and comfortable with the use of his powers as he has been aware of his heritage from birth. I on the other hand, have only just begun to come into my powers, and am still learning how to best use them and what all they can do. However, even though I am yet a child in the reckoning of deific years, I am a woman of the world, and have experienced many more life lessons than Dantalion thus achieving a superior level maturity.

Rook is an expert swordsman, only Dantalion seems to be his equal, and he has the ability to know when aspects of creation have reached the end of the time allotted them by fate. He also has a notable level of psychic talent, and a good mastery of it. I have already begun to learn from the techniques I have witnessed him employ. Unfortunately, he also seems to randomly take grievous offense at things I say. Once when I was speaking to Zarurra about contacting Aquaya in regards to learning some information about a submerged area on Blue, Rook interrupted with a threat to ‘kneecap’ me if I ever misrepresented him. Misrepresent him how? I hadn’t spoken to him or even of him in quite some time. As best I can figure it, about every third thing I say, even if it’s just ‘the sky is blue,’ seems to set him off. Since I cannot predict his temperament, I would normally count him a very serious threat. My instincts tell me to eliminate him as soon as possible, before he strikes at me. However, my time with Shion has moderated my ‘killing’ instincts, and Adam, god of contracts, has assured me that Rook has one that prevents him from carrying out these threats he is making against me. This is a relief, as it renders what would otherwise be a serious threat, to simply an annoying individual.

Alana is apparently a talented shape shifter, but otherwise seems to be the quite unassuming type. She appears to have a fairly easygoing personality type, so it should be easy to get along with her.

Adam is, as I have already mentioned, the god of contracts, and can apparently sense any that operable around him. He can also use his powers to make any agreement witnessed by him binding. Despite his lawyer like talents, he is actually very straightforward and helpful, which is very refreshing in this group. His wife, “Red,” is highly resistant to psionic probes and influences, and according to Adam has the ability to free others from such influences. I haven’t gotten a good sense of her personality yet, and her psychic defenses are more than sufficient to keep me from gathering any additional insights.

Zarurra is the one who interests me the most. Her natural form looks identical to a drow, and I unfortunately offended her by mistaking her for such. I’m not entirely sure why, as it seemed it was more the fact that I thought she was a drow than by the fact that I was wrong about what she was in general? What’s wrong with being a drow? I have a very close aunt who is a drow. Oh, well. Fortunately Zarurra does not seem to be the type to hold grudges without good cause (unlike Rook), so I think our beginning might be repaired. Of all of the people who have this “Pattern” ability, she seems to be the best hope I have of gaining more information about who I am, and where I’m from. Since she seems to be having a similar issue, I am hopeful she will be sympathetic to my plight. Also, from conversation I have come to suspect that she and her siblings are from outside the Burl, and may indeed be the ones with distinguished ears from my dream, although I am not yet certain. Alana is in a similar circumstance of course, but I sense Zarurra is the one with greater drive and force of personality. Although she listed wilderness survival as her most useful capability, I’m sure here is more to her than is evident. Since she herself does not think she is holding anything back, perhaps there is more to her than even she realizes. She will be the one to watch. Even though Rook seems to be the most talkative, the impossibility of interfacing with him makes him useless to my quest for information. Also, I am told this “Pattern” ability is inherited by blood through only a select few families in the whole of the planes. If “Pattern” is the commonality I sense with these beings, then that would seem to indicate a close kinship between us. And, quite frankly, Zarurra is the one among this group who I think I would actually like as a relative. I could like Alana as family as well, although most definitely not Rook.

Oh, I almost forgot about Tiberius Flint. Apparently, he is some type of student under Zarurra’s charge. I don’t know much about him other than his physical abilities. He is both unbelievably strong and wicked fast. There are times when he really does move faster than my eyes could track, and he could probably twist a car into a pretzel without much effort. Other than that, he hasn’t done or volunteered much, but I sense he is hiding something. Time, and perhaps a stray thought or two, will tell. Also, he claims to have spent time serving on a starship. How cool is that!?

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Game Log -- July 10th

Zarura speaks with Magdalyn (Rook’s sister) and does a tarot reading. The son of a friend will be revealed to you. Fyan (the wife of a cowboy) should be found. The reading starts a quest for Zarura to the Vale.

Rook trumps Floramil promptly as requested and is invited to dinner. Rook desires to learn alchemy and fills Floramil in on the results of the murder investigation. Floramil requests to travel with Rook on his next journey. Rook returns and is ready to depart for the Burl. Zarura is trying to convince Rook to travel with her to the Vale first before going to the Burl.

Rook receives a trump of Lourds, his alchemist as a parting gift from his sister. Rook’s sister determines to walk the Pattern to get a fresh start.

The Vale is a valley cut into the mountains, amazingly green for as high as the eye can see. The tops of the mountains are obscurred by clouds. Hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the mountains while Piper describes the best ones for belly flopping and which ones “suck”.

Arriving at the castle of the Vale the traveling party will be introduced to the royal court. The introductions will conclude with the introduction of Cowboy Bob (the first object of Zarura’s quest). A semi-formal dinner is served with the guests and royal family. Rattatosk is declared to not be welcome in the Vale, and as she was expelled, explains why she arrived in Amber. Rook comments that she spent much time in the Amber jail.

After dinner a fanfare is heard and an Emissary of the Empire of the Sphere requests to enter. Frank appears and introduces everyone to his son Tiberias. Tiberias behaves with a very militery demeanor and gives formal greetings to everyone his father introduces him to.

After what appears to be a Learjet flight, the party arrives at Big Sky Ranch and is introduced to Bob and Fyan. Upon further investigation during the flight, the “plane” appears to be a space-faring vessel with weaponry that could probably fight various spacecraft.

A mental sweep of the room reveals that the time for Rook’s revenge is soon to come. Rook, feeling as he MUST do work after dinner, fixes the squeaky door for Red. While doing the dishes, Zarrura’s true heritage is probed by Fox, significantly raising tensions after dinner.

After dinner Rook and Tiberias agree to train in the morning prior to breakfast. The party decides to discuss their various abilities to determine combat ability. It is also announced that it would be rude to depart without having breakfast.

The next morning Rook, Tiberias, Dantalion, Zarrura, and Alanna engage in morning PT combat and gauge each other abilities. Morning combat is interrupted by the breakfast triangle. After breakfast is finished, everyone collects supplies prepared by Red and then travels through Zarura’s trump of the cabin.

Arriving safely at the cabin, the party discovers that it has been rebuilt many many times, of more modern materials that have been weathered to appear original. The cabin initially appears to only be inhabited by rats which scatter when the door begins to be knocked on and/or opened. The cabin appears as if it has not been occupied for many many years except for one corner that has been maintained in an absolutely pristine manner.

Wear-rats and their leader Nicodemouse arrive to bid service to Zarrura and are commanded to draw a picture of “The Devourer” so that the party can learn about it. The party discusses the Devourer with the wear-rats so that they can determine its purpose.

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Death Note- King Huntington of Amber

Finally, we agreed upon some questions. Though at this point in time I discovered how truly stupid we were for thinking you could lock away these people. Even “locked” in their rooms the denizens of Amber control great power and vast influence. Any number of agents from any of these people could be doing any number of things. The scope of our investigation is too big. How do you hunt a killer who’s playground is…Anywhere? We went out of the castle and down in to the surrounding city. Here we went to the docks and discovered that two ships arrived before Huntington’s murder. One of the ships is captained by the famous Sparrow. I rather like the avian name, but to me…not so famous. We spoke with her, but I felt it a tad boring really. So I went off to investigate the criminal element of the city. And nothing. Nothing we didn’t really know. Piper felt the need to get me some picture books of the adventures of Sparrow. She called them…Comic Books. I like books…Goofy pictures and all. But, that’s for another time.

I learned of an alchemist that gives a sunlight prevention cream to a vampire every once in a while. I found him quickly. If this vampire, Elsa, is the assassin then I will make it very hard for her to move around. This alchemist’s name is Lords. He is odd, as if all his mental faculties are not present. Though he possess enough to be good at his craft. Enough that I will allow him to train me in the practice of alchemy. In time, and after avoiding a bar fight, we moved Lords to Castle Amber. Where we again, renewed the search for Huntington’s killer.

Connor took off toward the Primal Pattern. No one knows the cause, but he left with the impression that something of note was going to happen there. Does he know something? Many of us followed to find out. On the way up, we encountered a lady. She barred our path and simply said that “he” was busy. This he turned out to be Job, a man we were unable to find in the city when we looked. I’ve no time to toy with this woman, Job supposedly has answers. I’m out for some. This lady, loyal to this Job drew steel… A battle axe. A notable weapon, though battle axes are known for their combat flaws. She wields this thing with none of them. A true warrior. Finally, a noble combat. Though I feel it does not have to be one to the death. She simply stated we could not get passed her. So the point was not to kill her, but get passed her. The others seem ready to fight her…Let them. I will win this combat with a more skillful and thoughtful approach. Or so I thought. As with all foes, I asked her name before combat began. She said her name was Dierdre of Amber. Hmm. It is possible that since others here can change forms that this could be someone impersonating someone else who needed to be framed. I spoke another word left over from the creation of Creation. A syllable that causes all things changed of shape to flow back to their original forms. And of all things wicked and impure, this…THING…was a gelatinous blob of psychic…essence. It was even able to exude a spirit pressure. And it was not only combat functional, but it was also…Smarter than all of us. I sprung hard of the ground and used Piper’s head as a spring board up and over this goo called Dierdre. It lashed out and grabbed my leg. It burned and froze at the same time. It’s body covered in something. I dare not enter its psyche and try to take it on there. This called for something else. Shinimaru flashed from my scabbard. Together we whispered a word left over from the creation of Creation. A syllable left over from the first time pain was introduced. Knowing its name made things easier. It let me go and I thought I had a good plan.

Let me tell you about Kent. Kent looks like a man. Just a man. His spirit pressure says otherwise, but just by looking at him one would think he spent time on a farm. Well worked in muscle, and there is a presence of mind leaning toward strength when I look in to his blue eyes. This being possesses bodily powers. I could use his strength to have him throw me over to the Primal Pattern, thus cutting off Job and getting around this…THING… Kent seemed like he was going to try and save me anyway, so when he grabbed me, I entered his mind and asked that he throw me toward the Primal Pattern. And…He did. In my description of Kent, please note that no where did I say that he had a gifted mind. Kent indeed threw me toward the Primal Pattern. At roughly 440 feet per second. I was going to over shoot the Primal Pattern. And it was going to hurt. My mind raced quickly. Trump! My hand scrambled for my trump deck and I quickly drew the first card. Piper!....Dammit. Oh well, no time for a second draw, I had to land near the Primal Pattern. I threw my mind at the trump.

Contact. Piper can you slow me down, I need to be at the Primal Pattern. My response was a reassuring, “Sure, Rook!” followed by an odd request, “Pull me through.” WHAT! I’m traveling 440 feet a second and you want what? But, I asked for help…SURELY…She knows what she’s doing. I mean she has eyes, she can clearly see I’m flying. I pull her though and now WE are flying at 440 feet a second. And now we are flying passed the Primal Pattern where I wanted to land and in to the trees. And now we are flying in to a door. A door! Allow me to point out. Trees…Regardless of what form they take…Hurt when you hit them at 440 feet a second. Good thing this door can’t take a blow from the body of a god. Through the door, through more trees (I’m going to have sap in places I can’t even bring myself to pen), and in to a lake. I don’t recall there being a lake near the Primal Pattern. And, hitting water in a situation we were in was no picnic either. My eyes sparked with pain and darkness threatened to creep in. Not like this. I can not leave combat like this. My mind was already telling me this was no longer Amber. I wasn’t even removed from combat by a foe! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

I forced myself to shore where I was met by a plush donkey. A plush donkey. It spoke too. It had a psyche. It seemed depressed. And did I mention, it was plush? It mattered not was denizen this was, I needed to get back to combat. Honor demanded it. I was about to start healing myself by drawing away the spiritual pressure of this….Donkey…When Piper cut me off. Apparently, this was a pet of hers. In fact, this was her place. Some, little girls play place. Up to and including a tree house. Which we climbed up in to. As if I had not had my fill of trees recently. The door we smashed through was the door of the tree house and it lay in shambles. We could not get back through to Amber. BUT I CAN SLOW YOU DOWN ROOK, NO PROBLEM…DUDE! Like totally! What is wrong with these people?

No time to observe the exchange of etiquette, which because of her actions did allow me to leave without being a good guest, I trumped Genevieve. She pulled us through and took us back to Amber. Where I had missed the rest of the combat. Which, in the since that we did make it passed Dierdre, we won. I just didn’t land passed her on the field of combat. Bah! Genevieve and the Primal Pattern have a relationship it would seem. It fears her.

Job as it seems was not Job. Job was Brand, a former denizen of Castle Amber. And Brand took it upon himself a long time ago to try and destroy the Primal Pattern. Today was yet another attempt. Connor though, seemed to distract him. And then he was gone. Leaving us with…NOTHING…That’s right. All of this was for nothing. Unless that massive dragon flying over head was something. It wasn’t. Well, not to the case of Huntington’s killer. Back to the castle.

I headed to the morgue. I wanted to see if Huntington’s ghost was lurking about his body, and to see the body myself. No ghost. And I learned nothing new from the corpse. Connor also discovered nothing new. Though he said he had a trump of a Lady who may help us get some answers. Her name was Fiona and she was in the courts of Chaos. Oh, this was a Lady I had to meet. And it was a trip to possibly see the other…The Logris… And not just in a dream.

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The Trials & Tribulations of a Demigoddess
An excerpt from The Tales of Fox

My life had always been easy. When I was born my father was a multi-millionaire. By the time I reached my teens, his business savvy had rendered him a billionaire. If there was one thing that could have been said to have marred my early childhood, it was that my mother left us before I was even old enough to remember her. I’ve always been smarter, faster, and stronger than everyone else. School was always a breeze, and I finished college early, at age 16. I can’t say my daddy wasn’t there for me. He made every effort, and did everything a dad could be expected to do. When I needed him, he was there for me. But the demands of his business kept him very busy, and I was often very board. After I finished college (double major in computer science and physics with a minor in business), I spent some time in Japan consulting part time for a physics lab but mostly studying martial arts and eastern philosophy. I particularly enjoyed studding the Dao. During my frequent meditations on the Dao Chi in the rock gardens, I felt a strong sense of peace. I also felt something else, as if something was calling to me just beyond the reach of my mind. What I didn’t know then, was that something was calling me, although it would be several years before I was to find this out. What I neglected to mention to my father was that I got said martial arts training by joining a ninja clan. It wasn’t long before I became an expert lock picker and (with my skills and these being modern ninja) a master computer hacker. I learned to master the katana, throwing weapons, and even firearms.

I loved studying ninjitzu, the arts of stealth and the Dao. But I hated working for the ninja clan. Oh, it was fun at first. Breaking into places I wasn’t supposed to be, collecting secrets I wasn’t supposed to know… It was one heck of an adrenalin rush. But for a society of anarchists and outcasts, ninjas are extremely regimented and hierarchical. The price for a couple of years of martial arts training is being owned by the clan elders for life. And when the clan owns your life, they mean your life and can dispose of it any way they wish. Plus, they also wanted me to start participating in assassinations. Larceny is one thing. When going after financially well-endowed institutions and individuals, it’s a highly challenging game that does minimal damage. Assassination is quite another. Murder is very final. So I cut a deal with the clans biggest competitors, the Yakuza. The clan leadership was slaughtered in a Yakuza hit on their secret headquarters. The lower ranking clan solders were all rounded up by the Tokyo Police and sentenced to lengthy prison terms thanks to the testimony of the courageous young American tourist that had been unwittingly seduced into a life of crime by the promise of martial arts training and spiritual enlightenment. The Yakuza lawyers spin doctored me clear of any suspicion, and I as always, I was a highly charismatic actor. I didn’t, however, manage to fool my father. He knew me far too well. That was the beginning of our estrangement.

I spent about half a year working for the Yakuza. They valued me more for my business skills, and combined with my hacking abilities, I was very useful to them in matters of corporate espionage, and “creative accounting.” Unfortunately, working for the Yakuza was pretty much the same as being part of a ninja clan. They were a pack of restrictive, snooty, racist, sexist (which at least the ninjas weren’t), and life owning a-holes. So I left. They didn’t like that. But I was smarter than them, and managed to foil their attempts to take me out. For a while at least. Somehow, they managed to get close enough to me in San Francisco to make an attempt. I saw them coming, but not by much, and I probably would have died in a hail of gunfire if it weren’t for the intervention of The Gamesman and Penny Arcade. This was not the first time they had saved my life, and wouldn’t be the last. Like the time in New York when the supper-villain The Rumbler stranded the subway train I was on between stations under the East River and threatened to collapse the tunnel on us if the city didn’t pay ransom. There was also that time in Japan when I was caught in a massive earthquake. Come to think of it, those guys really get around…

It was at this point I first met Claire De’Lune. She just walked up and sat down next to me while I was eating breakfast in an outdoor café. I never even saw her coming, which in itself impressed me. Normally I could pick out anyone who had an interest in me, which was how I spotted those Yakuza assassins at the last moment. But not Claire. She told me she worked for a company based in Las Vegas that “fixed” problems for people. A real family enterprise. For a one-year contract with her people, she’d fix my Yakuza problem. I was intrigued, and signed on. Claire was as good as her word, and traded her firm’s services on a sticky situation US based situation for my freedom. The pay was pretty good to. I worked in a variety of “interesting” job assignments and rolls. I got quite good at hacking into the FBI and US department of justice, and my old ninja skills came in handy on more “hands on jobs.” There were even several completely aboveboard jobs we did that were interesting. To this day I don’t know if Claire’s people “fixed” living obstructions for her clients or not. She never tried to recruit me for such a purpose, and I never asked. I liked working for Claire; I had considerably more freedom to decide what jobs I wanted to do, and when I wanted to be “on call.” Also, the mafia doesn’t require you to bow and scrape o your nominal superiors. A simple polite business manner will do. And while they won’t hesitate to call in “old favors” if you happen to end up in a position useful to them, they do allow one to retire to an extent. I took up several extreme sports, such as skydiving, to satisfy my need for adrenalin when work got too monotonous. Unfortunately, my father was well aware of who Claire was, and our estrangement continued.

After about a year with Claire, my father began making overtures towards reconciliation. He had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted things to be right between us again. Of course, reconciliation hinged on me giving up my life working for Claire. I, however, was having too much fun, and knew my father could afford the best medical care in the world. The idea that his doctors couldn’t keep the cancer in check never even occurred to me. But eventually, even working for Claire got old. I began to realize that adrenalin rushes just won’t cut it for the long term. It was time to actually do something with my life other than living from moment to moment just searching for the next adrenalin high. So I said my accounts with Claire, and went back to New York to turn things around with my father. I made it home just in time to celebrate my 21st birthday. My father died two and a half weeks later. I was devastated. It took two months to make all of the funeral arrangements, and another three to get everything straightened out with the company. Fortunately, my father had made sure we had a very capable Chairman of the Board before he died, a mister Preston Bernet. While he is not the most creative of people, Preston has watertight integrity, a deep sense of loyalty to our family, and is a highly competent manager. He was someone I could safely leave in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company while I took the time to mourn my father.

One day, while visiting my father’s grave, I suddenly noticed a very somber Claire De’Lune standing next to me. I had expected that she would eventually come to me to ask me to use my company’s influence or capabilities to do her a “favor.” I had even been prepared to explain to her, truthfully, that it had been my father’s dying request that I not fall back into that stuff, and I fully intended to honor that. I was, however, understandably upset with her sense of timing. To top it off, it started to rain, and I had forgotten my umbrella. She let me stand there crying and ranting at her in the rain. Not once did she interrupt me. Once I had wound down, she calmly informed me that she was here on family business, not “Family” business. She told me that some time ago, the most powerful of the mob bosses had achieved deification, and had mingled with the existing deific structures, and emerged with their own pantheon. She was one of those deific bosses herself. I was so busy gaping at the incredulity of what she was saying that she had no trouble continuing on to her next insane little revelation. I, myself, was a divine progeny, and now that my mortal father was dead, it had been decided that I was to go into fosterage under her sister Shion, goddess of the Waning Crescent Moon, so that I might learn to take my proper place among the gods. Naturally, once I regained the power of speech, I went on another rant about what a tasteless joke this was to play right here in front of my father’s grave. Once again, she let me wind down, but as I turned to storm away, she caught, my arm in a grip stronger than iron. She dragged me into a mist that seemed to just suddenly appear in the rain, and when we emerged, well we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Nor New York for that matter. That was how I came to live in Atlantis.

Life in Atlantis. is very different from life on earth. Here I am not smarter, faster, or stronger than everyone else is. I was competitive with the lesser creatures, but with the greater beings such as Clair or Shion…not so much. Life isn’t easy anymore. For the first time, I real understand what its like to be a child. Which is what I am, a demigod among gods. It’s going to take a lot of work and effort for me to learn what I need to, and time for me to grow into my abilities.

It would be impossible for me to describe all of the things I now begun to learn under the tutelage of Lady Shion and her husband Kuros. Things like the shape of the greater cosmos. Also things such as the fact that the Yakuza boss who finally took a personal interest in my demise after so many failed attempts by his minions had some moderate abilities with the Dao that he used to cloud my mind so I wouldn’t figure out his plot ahead of time. And, of course, the reason I spotted it anyway at the last minute was due to my deific nature. Also, it was because of Claire’s own deific power that she could sneak up on me. I have studied much, from the history of the gods, to basic magic, to more about the Dao. Ta’aroa himself has said I have a strong resonance with the Dao, and has offered to train me some himself. I am eager to take him up on his offer, but there is so much to learn before I can fulfill my role as goddess of the stars that I have not yet had a chance to enter his tutelage. There are others hear who assist me besides my foster mother and father. Pashka, the goddess of thievery and nighttime revelry, has become something of an aunt to me, even if many of her antics now seem childish to me. However, she is a lot of fun at parties. Her husband, Te-Koro, is the night and shadow. He is a kind man, who has no tolerance for evil. He loves his wife dearly, but she often drives him crazy. I have learned much from him. He has shown me that the consequences of my past behavior often ran far deeper than I had realized. My new mother Shion is the orb that sheds light upon the night. She who is as my aunt is one who revels in the night, but stops before great harm is done. Her husband who is as uncle to me is the night and shadow that punishes those who would use the dark for evil, and when I have been made ready, I shall be the stars, who’s many points of light cover the whole of the sky as a veil of eyes, and see all that is hidden.

As Shion’s sister Clair helped guide me on earth, and kept me from the worst troubles and mischief, some of her other sisters have helped me here in the deific realms. Her sister Drathira has taught me much about the night sky and the stars, and it was her other sister Mana from Valhalla that brought me Alnilam. I remember from my astronomy lessons back in college, that Alnilam is the name of the middle star on Orion’s belt, one of the “Three Kings.” Mistaken by many beings of lesser knowledge as Odin’s lost eye, it is in fact an entirely different artifice. She told me that it is known as Orion’s Clasp, which is the name I am to give if asked about it. She also told me its true name, Alnilam’s Light, which has meaning for me alone. I sensed this to be true the moment she spoke this. It was a feeling that I have come to associate with the Dao itself. Somehow I know it will help me find my true name. I have already discarded my mortal name. I never liked it anyway. Somehow, I now know it is not the name I was born with, and without my human father, it no longer holds any real meaning. Instead, I have taken on the name of my lifelong totem, the clever red Fox. Until I can discover my true name, this is the moniker I shall use. I know I cannot take my post as the stars until I know the name I was meant to exist under.

It has been six years by the reckoning of Atlantis since I joined my foster mother and her family, although only 12 hours have passed on earth (something I still haven’t gotten used to). I’m not really sure when I started having the dream. I know I started having it long before I began to remember it once I woke up. My realization that it was a recurring dream grew on me gradually as did its details. This past year, it has become very clear, and incessant. I cannot yet remember the beginning, but I know the end. I fall out of a burl in the side of a tree so enormous I can’t see the end of it. Landscape, bathed in, or perhaps made of, a multitude of shadows stretches beneath its outspread limbs for as far as the eye can see, yet never escapes their reach. I walk along one of these limbs, until I come to a strangely twisted line hanging in mid air. The line twists and turns in upon itself so many times that the shape it forms is impossible to hold in my mind. Yet every time I see it I know it is the same shape, always unchanging, and I feel a great surge of frustration, because I just know that I have the ability to fully visualize it, if only I could but trace my hand along it. But every time I reach for it, it moves away, farther down the path. I follow, but soon I somehow find myself stuck back in the burl out of which I first fell. I am trapped within it, as if it were a sealed windowpane, with the glowing wire hanging just outside. No matter how hard I beat upon the glass, I cannot break through. That used to be the end, but lately there has been an addition. As I beat upon the glass, suddenly, off to the side, a crack splits open, and a mist of shadow pours out. Several figures begin to emerge from the mist heading towards me. I cannot tell how many there are exactly, but three there are at least. These three have been getting more and more distinct with each dreaming. The silhouettes of two women and a man have taken shape. Their features and attire are still hazy, but I can somehow tell that there is something distinguishing about their ears. Then I awake…

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Pattern, Food, and Murder Part One

I walked the Primal Pattern. My Zanpakuto, Shinimaru trailed behind me, its edge tracing lightly upon the Pattern. I went last. All the others appeared to have extreme difficulty pushing through to the center of the Pattern. There, at the center, they stumbled over in exhaustion or fatigue. They lack the stamina of a god. I had no such trouble. I simply do not understand these beings. Aliens. In every since of the word. Their very culture is…Alien. I’m not even sure if I want to peel through any of their minds to discover more. Later…perhaps. The Guardian of the Pattern called to us in his jovial booming voice. He bade us will ourselves to him. I appeared next to him. Impressive. From the center of the Pattern, apparently I can go anywhere…Anywhere. Hmm. Later. Once all were gathered he used a power himself, and sent us all to yet another Pattern. This one too throbbed with power, but yet…less…only measurably so to a god. We were inside a building as well. There was a long set of spiral stairs leading up. The guardian said we should meet the king. No one here. So, up the steps. At the top there was a pause. Hanging on the wall was a tapestry…several. Though one appeared to look like the guardian of the Primal Pattern. Rattatask however, took this image as a bad omen of sorts. She lost control of herself. Nimble little minx knocked out Piper. With more discipline Rattatask would make an excellent defender of the Vale. My Aunt would simply enjoy training her. I used part of a word left over from the creation of Creation. A mere syllable to manipulate the life-force with in Piper and awaken her. She’ll have a nasty knot, but it will be a reminder none the less. We were met by the building guards. Building is a proper word, but improper term. We were in a castle. THE castle…perfect. The guards allowed us to a suite of rooms where we were given time to address our situation and groom. I composed a message to my mother, not knowing when I would have the chance to deliver it, so it will be the first in its collection. A being called Trevor arrived, directly in my path. He seems to know me, perhaps I have followers here…This remarkable unremarkable being was apologizing to me for something. If it were important though, surely he would make himself plain. I took a few moments to size up the men that were in my company. A few of them are directly related and though of lesser status, seemed almost at equal with in some abilities to my own. One being, Connor, seems a being of almost pure strength of muscle. Mr. Arden Black carries a dishonorable firearm of a make I’ve never seen. It appears to run on a battery of some sort. Simple, yet complex. We were taken to meet the king. King Huntington. All senses are pleased by this man. I can “feel” it in the air, in the psyche of all the beings around him…This man is a god for sure. This good man is indeed perhaps the very essence of good. These people, including myself, are humbled by his mere spiritual pressure. Normally, my warrior senses would tell me this is too good to be true. Normally. King Huntington greeted us all and gave us introduction to other denizens of the castle Amber. Ahlaya the minister of state, Legion leader of city security and information, Rivian the police chief, Ian leader of castle security, Christopher the general of Amber’s army, and Trevor the remarkable unremarkable man. Also present were, Damion, Pax, and Julius…all three cloaked…all mysterious. We were invited to diner. Until then, we had some free time. With which, once again, Piper saw fit to go surfing. This is where I met Normand. Also a surfer, and better at it than Piper. Normand spoke about the previous ruler Oliver and what a pitiful excuse for a being this man was…according to Norman. The problem with Normand was…He was fake. He was on purpose playing less intelligent. Besides King Huntington, none of these people here appear to entertain the notion of honor. How could they not learn from watching their king? Or is Normand from elsewhere? Either way he has been here long enough to learn by watching.

Diner was very nice. We retired to our rooms. Tomorrow Huntington would like to get to know us better. I’d like that.

Dishonorable vile submission. King Huntington was slain by an assassin. Creation literally mourns his passing. We’ve been asked to remain in our rooms. Everyone is a suspect. However, we are also the situation’s investigators. Perplexing, no? Arden Black’s firearm was removed and replaced with another different firearm. I pour my mind over the weapon, but it has been wiped clean of psychic residues. Even Black’s mind does not register on the gun. He could not have had it long then. A few things needed to happen at this point. The beings here I feel offer little to the case. I need to speak with King Huntington, or the next best thing…His ghost. I recall the Primal Pattern felt as if it were measuring my spirit. Perhaps it is a spirit board of some type. I will attempt to call forth this ghost. Perhaps I should have rested longer before attempting the Pattern again. Even this reflection of the Primal Pattern took a lot out of me. Though I made it to the center. I felt again that Creation lay open to my wishes and that with a thought I could go anywhere. I wanted to be here for now. So I sat and refocused my strengths. Once ready I applied my mind to the Pattern itself and searched for a ghost of Huntington. It came up quickly and suddenly. Even the Pattern admired this man. Impressive. The ghost though, did not recall its death, and in fact only seemed to be an earlier impression of Huntington. Though he told me much. And asked that I deliver a message to his love…The minister of state, Lady Ahlaya. He loved her so.

I continued to regain my strengths, but the fiend who perpetrated foul and evil deed was getting away further by the moment. And if that being could make use of the Pattern…well then…They could be anywhere. And if that is the case…Then from the center of this Pattern, I willed myself to the presence of the killer of King Huntington of Amber! It worked too. Too well. I appeared, still drained, tired, and feeble from the ordeal of walking the Pattern again, in front of everyone who normally resided in the castle. Not just in front, but exactly in the middle of them, and on the table. They could all sense my weakness too, I could feel their minds washing over and collecting all the data they needed to destroy me. At the very least this Kami of Endings would go out in style and in combat, as a true warrior and master of Bushido. Or, I could just put them all under arrest and fall over. Without even knowing it, my body chose the latter. And before I could refuse I was caught before striking the ground by Piper.

I was taken to my quarters where I was allowed to regroup. I also got a mind-link from a being called Eureka. She’s beautiful (in mind and form), and mysterious (in mind and form). She offers insight in to what has happened though I find it hard to accept her help…Not knowing her and all. This could be a trick of the killer. And she did link at a time when I was not at my best. I’ll keep it quiet for now.

Connor was bitten by something. Vampiric maybe. He was following his brother Colin, who was following Huntington. Colin was destroyed and Connor subdued and removed to another room. Though he did not exactly see who destroyed his brother or the King. What is wrong with these people?

The investigation grew in intensity. We needed to go person by person and interrogate all of them. But first…We had to agree upon a group of questions. And no one wanted to do this, and no one wanted to agree upon the questions. A few yes, but in all…We are a pathetic group of detectives. What is wrong with these people?

I had already questioned Damion, Pax, and Julius. Julius swore to me in an Astral state that he was not the killer. From touching his mind directly, I know he is not dishonoring himself with a lie. Rattatask, also could not have done it. She’s been chained in the dungeon since diner. She again…lost control of herself. This time she attempted to attack me. Nimble little minx got me to the floor before I interposed Shinimaru. Knowing she was not in control there was no need to destroy her for drawing a blade against me. It would not have been an honorable battle.

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