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Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

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sciborg2's picture
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Factol
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Lord Karagoth

"And oh, he must be up to something / What are the chances? Sure it's more than likely / I've got a feeling in my stomach / You start to wonder what his story might be / What his story might be, yeah what his story might be..." -Arctic Monkeys, 'When the Sun Goes Down'

Given the shifting nature of metaphysics it can be quite difficult to maintain empires stretching across parallel worlds, and for most parallel walkers this hardly seems worth the trouble. Better to set up some bank accounts and estates in varied Multiverses and take advantage of one's ability to overcome scarcity in any localized market. Some lesser royalty might enter into alternate Wheels to aid their kingdoms, but the joy of parallel walking means few of our number would ever deign to sit on a throne and actually govern.

Lord Karagoth, however, has a severe addiction to the corruption of wise empires, the scents of the battlefield, and perhaps more than anything the groveling of others begging for the lives of their loved ones. The blackguard and his cadre of aides travel the parallels toppling the empires of Good and setting up tyrannies that are nothing less than obscenities upon the land.

One of Karagoth's favorite tricks is to vanish from a parallel where it seems his empire is about to lose and then return with some artifact or monster or disease from another Wheel and use it to turn the tide. Or sometimes he'll use his superior prowess to magically appear in the council of his enemies and slaughter them all. (Note that Karagoth cannot simply bring whole armies across parallels - the artificing required for that kind of massive traversal is lost to modern parallel walkers)

At other times despite his efforts his empire on a particular world will fall or even be destroyed by divine intervention if he gets too out of hand. At this point he enjoys visiting the heroes and good aligned priests of that particular world and explaining who he is and how he has dozens more empires run by various lackeys he's promoted to deathknight status. Just in case they were under the illusion they'd really taken anything of note from him - he even offers to shake their hands and tell them what a fun game it was. He might also, if possible, show them a parallel exceedingly similar to their own and occasionally send them dreams of his slow corruption and conquest in that other Multiverse. (I assure you that it hurts to watch even parallel versions of your loved ones break or be killed...or betray you.)

Karagoth is under no illusion that he can keep this up indefinitely, that at some point other parallel walkers will come in force to aid all the worlds suffering from the blight of his labors, thus putting an end to his game. Or perhaps he won't make it out in time before a god throws a mountain at one of his decadent caliphates. Recently while slowly corrupting empires he's been sounded out - once by Count Morgenstein and once by Old Elba - and forced to flee. But to Karagoth the threat of losing everything is part of the fun.

Karagoth has a sword and plate armor made from some kind of red ochre metal. His helm is the face of a grinning toddler with eight black opal eyes like a spider and the multi-toothed jaws of a shark. The man looking through those jaws has the well weathered face of a tan half-elf who sees the world with dull grey eyes. The armor connects the blackguard to tens of thousands of prisoners kept in expansive rune-scored wells across the Multiverses - giving him access to an incredible amount of life force to draw upon for regeneration. (Though chained and naked the prisoners are well fed and allowed limited exercise - Karagoth even finds it amusing to let them order from menus.) The armor also allows him to use necromancy to increase his speed and strength, and can be summoned over his form with a thought though this latter magic only works one hundred miles from him and in the same Multiverse. (This wouldn't work, for example, if Karagoth was in the Crossroads House.)

Karagoth's playful insanity is likely the worst thing about him. He seems like some cheerful hale grandfather enjoying the chance to travel and spar. He never takes losing personally, though perhaps if he were ever to be imprisoned and reality-locked into one Multiverse he might quickly grow sour and ornery...

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sciborg2's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Place: One of Karagoth's Empires

Karagoth, for all his eccentricities, creates stunning bureaucracies when he finally takes over. He knows he can only give his attention to five or six empires at a time, and leaves the others in what he believes to be capable hands. Those he leaves in charge to rule alone or as a cabal he turns into deathknights magically sworn to his service.

The deathknights are cruel to their subjects, but are surprisingly amicable neighbors when circumstances allow. They know they cannot count on the intervention of their lord, and as such do not expand their borders if they believe they can keep the realm intact without a great show of aggression. It is paramount, the servants of Karagoth know, not to break his playthings if one can help it.

The empires maintain a system of magically enforced feudalism, where oaths are forcibly binding from the death knights to the guards walking the rounds on some noble's estate. Any noble who breaks their oath to the kingdom either dies or turns into a miserable, suffering shade buffeted across the land by ethereal winds. The punishment attached to knights and other servants of a particular house depend on that house's whims.

There are a great deal of gladiatorial games as Karagoth imports and exports flora and fauna between parallels to ensure the arena is constantly packed with bloodthirsty citizens. The ability to bring in high demand, low supply goods also helps keep the empires intact, as no one likes to topple an economic powerhouse without provocation.

The capital city always has one of the rune wells, chained prisoners living on landings that run the length of each well. The prisoners are always kept healthy, a prisoner that sickens or is injured is replaced as quickly as possible. No one can be sure when Karagoth will draw on the life in a well, but their lord knows when he is drawing on a less than a top-shelf set of specimens.

=-=-=

Notes: The idea of the wind buffeted shade relates to something J.K. Rowling once wrote. To say more is to spoil the Harry Potter series.

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sciborg2's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: The Scorpion Bride

"I remember when, after killing the Witch-Princess and thus ensuring the fall of the elven mythal, I had managed to steal the child's corpse and present it to our Lord Karagoth.

I expected praise, a knighthood, a dragon for a steed, but instead he smiled and told me he knew I was reading his mind.

I stammered an explanation, trying to explain that I could only read the intention of a mind towards its movement of muscle, but he interrupted me with a chuckle.

'I know your power is limited, though you've used it well enough in predicting your enemy's strikes. But, and pay attention my dear to this next part, that is only how your power works here.'

'Here, meaning this world?' I had heard the rumors of course, but had never paid much attention to them. I kill in the name of our Lord - his origins had never been of much concern to my person.

'Think bigger my child.' He was smiling in the way of a teacher knowing they are on the cusp of offering to their student a profound revelation.

'This plane of existence?' I knew of Heaven and Hell, but again I had decided long ago that I would be granted the status of death knight from our Lord's own hand and thus had paid little thought to destinations reserved for the lesser souls all around me.

'This Multiverse.' he said, and that was the moment my very personal education began.

You see, in my world I am only capable of knowing the thoughts sent from the mind to the body.

But in the world where my Lord wars against the Wu-Jen Confederacy, I am able to read a mind from miles away.

Where he rules in a world of unending winter, I am able to kill women and children in their dreams. For reasons I do not understand I cannot enter the dreams of men in this world.

In a cloud world where he has only begun to deceive the lords of the floating city states I can actually take over bodies and treat them like puppets, but only five at a time. In this world we walked arm in arm, and I was allowed at his side when he visited the courts of these aerial acropolises. This world is my favorite, I have never been happier than when visiting here.

Where he rules in a world where twin suns leave only a sliver of night I am one of the gifted few whose mind cannot be read, who can deceive the telepaths around her.

In a world where he keeps his collection of monsters I can get any of those gargantuan horrors to sleep with a thought.

I was always wondering where he'd send me next, and how my powers would work in that new parallel. I couldn't help but wonder how he did what he did, how he could push me into these disparate realities. He told me he was one of the few who could send or bring others along. The only other I have met capable of such a feat is Count Morgenstein, the man who gave me this scar.

Oh, you can look - I don't mind.

I don't how she found me, but imagine my surprise at ending up in this basement of some house owned by Old Elba, stuck in a world where my powers don't work at all. I guess I should have known better than to try my mind reading tricks against a genuine Cast Iron Princess."
-Zella the Scorpion Bride

=-=-=

Notes: The idea of giving false thoughts to a telepath isn't new, but I was inspired this time around by Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Ra...

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sciborg2's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Digressions on Parallel Walking:

"When I broke her nose...the look of surprise on her face was something comedic stage actors spend a lifetime trying to get right. Yeah, all this crap we go through? It's worth it for moments like that."
-Old Elba, also known as the 48th Cast Iron Princess

=-=-=

"I am a bolt of lightning thrown from the Present into the Past and the Future. All the lives I might have lived to become who I am, all the lives I might enter into...go back far enough or go far enough forward and you'll see them. The phanes, hungrily trying to escape their temporal prisons and enter the Now that they incessantly crave. The abominations whisper to me things I already know. Only a fool would expect the Lady to return love freely given.

I am a nexus for a flood of realities. I see Her as the fulcrum and lynchpin turning and securing them all. I see iteration after iteration of the City of Doors. I strain my eyes to see their destinies, and when they are threatened I look to see how to change the tides of their histories.

I walk back to a necromancer to unravel the future of Orcus, I open my wrists to offer libations to Strahd von Zarovich, I ensure Zerthimon is the First Consort and eternal beloved of Gith.

I am a fanatic waging a holy war against circumstance, doomed to love a creation forever balanced over a fire, myself and Everything Else forever teetering off the edge of a cliff."
-The Keeper of the Medallion of Time and Place

=-=-=

"I know they seem arrogant and belligerent to you, and yes they can be both those things but there is more to them lying far beyond two character flaws...You don't know what it is like for me to sit here and look at you, to think that your beautiful ghaele face can be trusted and possibly loved.

You've heard of it then? The Gilded Darkness? Where the celestials and fiends war for domination over Evil?

They brought me back you see. The Collectors...they shattered the ground of Mercuria and stole me away while the archons looked on like children robbed of their toys. I remember the idiot lantern archons trying to stab me with sun rays as I rose into the transdimensional vessel.

Yes, I know I am nothing here but a show piece, a caged animal in a tiny menagerie. But they don't let visitors touch the exhibits in museums - so this place is already a hundred times better than the Heaven from which I was forcibly taken."
-Hshian, known to the angels of the Gilded Darkness as the Boy Who Escaped

=-=-=

"In most Wheels you expect the dwarfs, humans, halflings and elves that you see all around the Upper Planes. What you don't expect is a Wheel where the reptilian and amphibious races are served by scaled angels.

Imagine spending hours in the company of a crocodile guardinal and a lillendi who is snake top to bottom.

Thank god I skipped lunch that day."
-Ednya Itzghani, one of the assistants in the entourage of Count Morgenstein

(Got the idea of the lizard celestials off of the PS Mailing list)

=-=-=

"The marriage of Khelben and Eliminster...well yeah if you aren't from there it might seem unusual but having spent a few decades in their company I thought it was high past time they made it official.

But I knew they were waiting for the Second Time of Troubles to be over, and the death of Dritzz Do'Urden hit everyone pretty hard for awhile even if he'd died stopping the resurrection of Bhaal.

Really, it was a grand affair, even Midnight came down the Celestial Staircase to preside over the ceremony. The reception went on for twelve days, and the desserts were absolutely to die for!

Honestly, I was happy just to be invited, seeing as I'd just come back from Mordenkainen's funeral."
-Oloniqu the Retkonur, a parallel walking elan who enjoys traveling to alternate versions of Krynn, Oerth, Cerilia, Athas, Mystara, and Toril

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Faction: Swimmers in the Song

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music ... because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. ... It's the best part of us probably ..." — Nick Hornby, Songbook

Over time, reality walkers find it easier to adjust to new parallels, parallels where time moves differently, parallels where magic doesn't work the same as it does in their Multiverse.

The Song Chasers believe that this is because as time goes on you begin to hear the Creation Song that is played out by all the Wheels of the Metaverse , an inexhaustible symphony of sensations and perceptions that we are all part of.

Naturally the faction seems to brim over with musicians and singers, but there are also audio artificers, sword dancers, true namers, and even former members of the Transcendental Order. These are people who have heard the Cadence and now wish to have its sound pass through their own lips as well. Naturally, Masters of the Secret Sound seem to find their way to faction headquarters across the Metaverse.

The faction has a lot of mysterious powers relating to listening to the Song or reproducing fractions of what they are supposedly hearing. Listeners are able to enhance whatever skills they might possess in athletic pursuits, and those who cast spells are able to utilize various meta-magics.

Singers are able to make alterations to reality....though because they are shifting the entire nature of the Song by doing this it is never done lightly and even then there are many repercussions. Over time however, it is believed one can influence the Song without forcing It to make so many corrections to Itself. Perfectly attuning oneself to the Song is a form of apotheosis wherein you don't so much vanish as transcend the limits of your body...it is like dying, as far as most non-faction members are concerned, though the joy on the corpse's face gives doubters something to consider. These expressions are made into molds so that faction owned buildings can have statues and masks of these heroes who have achieved musical transubstantiation.

Swimmers in the Song are able to have a sense of events around them - the rise of a Dark Lord, the immanence of an avalanche, the presence of planar vortices. They also are able to adjust to parallels with greater ease than others as they attune themselves to the song. They are also capable of tracking people they've already met, by understanding their place in the song - though this isn't perfect and there are times where they find a parallel version by accident.

Swimmers in the Song also like to give advice, because they figure they know where somebody belongs and what they should be doing in the Metaverse. They aren't fortune tellers, but they do sense things like someone coping with loss or attempting to swallow a great need for vengeance.

The faction symbol is a shining musical note wreathed by a circle of flames.

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Zimrazim's picture
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Joined: 2007-01-14
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

sciborg2 wrote:
Sure, though to be honest I have no idea how to go about it.

While you are logged in, look at the left-hand column of the website. Click the link that reads "Create content," then click "Article." You'll then go to the page where you can start writing an article. Smiling

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1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

sciborg2's picture
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Factol
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Cool - I missed that link for some reason. Hmmm, thinking of them as a faction in the Multiverse where do you think these guys should be located?

Aborea, given that you mentioned Olympian gods? Limbo, perhaps the place where Fate would have the hardest time working its power? Or perhaps even a castle on the Demiplane of Time?

I haven't thought about the factions in a long time, any help fleshing these guys out in that regard is much appreciated!

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Place: The Atlas of Parallels

Parallel walking is hard. It's a rare gift, and most who attempt it without instruction end up dead. Luckily, or unluckily, there are those who notice such talents budding inside you and are the type to come calling. Some, like Karagoth, take you under their wing with the intention of either recruiting you or enslaving you. Others such as the Silverback Shadows are better instructors as these simians just enjoy teaching the Art of Traversal, as they call it, to those of Good alignment. They trust the walkers they train to do the right thing and mercilessly hunt down and slaughter those who don't.

Walkers who are less helpful but less demanding will show you some basics and then point you to the Atlas. The Atlas is a way station filled with information on the conditions of various parallels as well as one of the first places to go to when you seek to adventure across the Wheels.

Located in a parallel where the Cage is a city inside an emptied out snail shell floating in a Cosmic Ocean whose currents can carry a body across the Time and breadth of the Metaverse, the Atlas exists in one of the few Sigils where parallel walking is something the natives are well aware of and able to cope with.

The Atlas is a structure seemingly grown from zinc crystal in the way a bit of coral becomes a reef. Various hues of soft light seem to leak out mysteriously from the lines and creases, collectively illuminating a massive library, a medica, and a mansion of many rooms for those needing a hostel to crash in. The staff of the Atlas employs what walkers affectionately refer to as "translators", people with the magic talent of touching two people or objects from different parallels and understanding the effects each would experience while entering the Wheel the other is native to. This talent is what makes the Atlas so useful in crafting Rings of Welcome.

One of the best things about the Atlas is that they provide a lot of services for burgeoning walkers with contracts enumerating the debts to be paid off later. Trust me, you'll need to take advantage of this kindness...And that's the only way you'll want to take advantage of these people.

Take note of the figures frozen in Time, seemingly caught unawares in common rooms and hallways - the naked, skeletal fae women with dragonfly wings, long black talons, and featureless golden eyes. When someone causes trouble here, those women come to life and cut through magic and metal and mindcraft with ease. They are some iteration of the Furies who are honor bound to protect this establishment and hunt down anyone who attempts to purposefully harm the establishment or -and this is important - the staff. Think you might charm that strapping young fellow cleaning your room? Cut the thought from your mind and slap yourself hard for thinking it. There's a reason the words above all ten entrances read: "Watched over by the Kindly Ones."

The Furies will cross parallels and planes and worlds to hunt down a transgressor - make the Silverback Shadows look positively lazy about the whole paying for crimes and betrayal of teaching shtick they have going on. If that wasn't bad enough for the fools among you, make note of the fact that the Lady Herself seems rather protective of anyone associated with the Atlas. Some say it's because the Keeper of the Medallion passes here every so often in disguise, but I don't buy that. Honestly, I don't even think She cares much about the Keeper or even about the ways the Medallion gets used.

The Atlas is owned by an illumian by the name of Jessa Starleaper. She is an immortal who is four thousand years old and that's about all that's known about her.

=-=-=

Note: Gaiman's Kindly Ones is amazing. Between that great conclusion to Sandman (The Wake is more epilogue as others have said) and Calasso talking about the Furies pursuing Orestes in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, it makes you realize what a serious problem these spirits (goddesses?) are. Calasso also mentions a parallel female figure in Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India, one who dogs Shiva after the Destroyer burns up the fifth head of Brahma.

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Jessa Starleaper

Things known about Jessa Starleaper:

1. The first name was given, the second name earned. The Crystal Shell where this feat was accomplished is not public knowledge but those who have met her say it has to be true, that you can tell by the way she walks.

2. She is an illumian. This is why she employs so many people of....questionable parentage. She believes everyone should lose or succeed purely on their merit. The glowing sigils whirl around her whole body, "like fireflies on the cusp of evening". Staring at her sigils makes one think about "cool Spring", "stars in a naked night sky", and "sweet memories of beloved ancestors you have never met."

3. She owns the Atlas.

4. She was married once. Never ask her for the details.

5. Like all illumians she loves language, but her favorites are sign languages and languages incorporating pheromones.

6. She has the Kindly Ones that guard the Atlas in her debt. Feel free to ask about them, Jessa loves to speak about where they come from and their varied names and natures. (No, they don't all look alike or even have the same hair color.) However, if you ask her why they are in her debt, she just smiles and says her last name is the answer to that question...

7. Jessa is a demanding yet generous employer. Of course, anyone who actually betrays the Atlas gets a visit from the Furies.

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Faction: Wanderers along the Recurring Mirror

"lost in the maya / overboard in the sea / there was void and then that water broke / then something called 'me' / now a trip to the desert to look at the sky / it's like never-ending mirrors / playing tricks on my eyes!"

- Live, Secret Samedhi, 'Children's Song'

Perhaps, here, the true namers tell it best. They have a name for who they are, a name they learn is written in their marrow, in their skin, in the pupil of the eye and the hairs that mark the joining of limbs to body. This name is echoed in the innermost blood-dark of the heart and ranges far across the length of their summed moments in Time.

Then they step from one Wheel into another. And the name that seemed so deep and so long is but a breath whistled through teeth, a click of the tongue, a quick puckering of the lips. An eight-note, less than a stanza.

Then you meet another who is you, but not you. And you see your name runs along a track of bodies - it makes you think of the words the demodands use to describe themselves: "We are memory moving through corpses." You are but a chapter of a book you will die trying to finish.

The Self Searchers are a faction dedicated to understanding themselves by seeking out and studying as many of their parallel reflections as possible. This includes many true namers, but anyone given to self-introspection is a likely candidate for this group. Many start off curious, hoping to utilize the faction's cornucopia of items, spells, and even animals called reflection hounds to find variations of themselves scattered across the Metaverse. Of course the faction doesn't just hand over its equipment and magics to every namer wanting to go for a jaunt and a chat - there's a bit of testing one's resolve that gets put into play, to see if you are really prepared to face who you are as a whole.

The Recurring Mirror isn't just part of the name, it's a massive maze that several of the faction's kips can access, a Metaversal structure that shows you the thing you seek in what is usually the most painful way possible. Remember the girl or boy that got away? Well, you actually are happily married...in another parallel. Remember the time you wished you were brave? The time that you look back on where you know you should have been kinder, where you didn't think far enough ahead to the consequences? Other versions of you did better when the same trials were presented to them.

Don't think evil berks get off easy either. Humiliation, failure, even that kindness you only wish you had been given as a child...

Eventually the maze lets you out, and the faction high ups (well higher than you) ask if you still want to join the faction. If you say yes, they point back to the maze and tell you they'll meet you on the other side.

This time around, you see places different because you were never born, places that seem better for it. You see places where maybe someone you care about is happier because they are with someone else, or a student excels because they had a better teacher than you. You see, in essence, the benefit of your absence. Imagine your spouse decided to leave you and then having an amazing life. Imagine your children running away from home and not missing you or deciding that even though they miss you it's better this way.

(Note that these parallels don't always exist - or at least the maze that is the Recurring Mirror doesn't always show them. But there's usually at least one parallel where things are better specifically because you aren't there.)

This time, when you come through, the faction high(er) ups ask you again if you'd like to join. This might be the right time to point out that this is a small faction.

From that moment, it gets harder and easier. Wanderers of the Recurring Mirror go to different worlds and essentially spy on themselves. Study their own lives, even meet their reflections in disguise. You exchange stories of these meetings with other faction members, and those higher in the faction will often discuss your self-analysis for hours on end, asking you what you have learned about yourself. Given the mythic origins of the faction, true namers will study you, and offer to tell you how your own name is changing for each self you encounter. True Namers are an incredibly important part of the faction's tradition, but not every Self Seeker cares about this mystical measurement of progress. Others consult the faction's psions, professional profilers, monks, seers, and if at all possible parallel versions of you that are also part of the faction.

What matters is why some versions of you make certain choices - why do some versions possess the desired qualities you find lacking in yourself? Most importantly, understanding the reasons, will you now be able to engender those characteristics in yourself?

The more connected you are to your selves, the more you have the potential to draw on their skills and even their physical prowess - this is an imperfect and temporary process and one that might have unexpected results regarding your personality and self-identity. As one rises in the faction, these "intrusions" become less bothersome.

The faction symbol is a woman with a true name glyph at her center looking into a mirror showing reflections trailing off into infinity. All the reflections have different variations of the aforementioned glyph.

__________________

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Ethena Dan Tuatha

Ethena is a LeShay who can walk parallels. What amazes her are the parallels where the illithid and spellweaver empires never fall, and what galls her are the three known parallels where spellweavers complete and enact the Code of Reversion. (Note the Code only works in the parallel in which it was inscribed.)

Why, she wonders, are even the spellweavers capable of reversing their failure while her people have had their pasts shorn in every Wheel she has walked through?

What did the LeShay do that could see their own timeline undone across the Metaverse?

Ethena is not especially cruel but she has little patience for those who stand in her way or those who have something she wants. Stealing comes easy to her, the killing of those who have not tried to harm her does not. However, do not presume mercy - Ethena's actions have directly or indirectly led to a great many deaths of "lesser beings", most notably a particular prime world which had one of its major religions centered on LeShay relics and statues.

Ethena is a rabid seeker of any and all history about her apparently benighted race, and she tracks down at least one LeShay in every parallel where they exist to try and understand their version of the catastrophe. Even with these persons she will result to blackmail, enchantment, and even torture though she cannot bring herself to actually kill one of her own kind. She dares not presume the race is infinite in number.

While her methods are questionable, it is the questions she raises that concern Metaversal scholars. The LeShay do not seem to have been an entire race of parallel walkers, which suggests that the event was repeated across multiple Wheels. Are Ethena's people doomed to such folly? Or did someone systematically gut their civilization from each Wheel's timeline...or possibly from every Wheel's timeline?

While the disaster differs across parallels, there are enough commonalities to make a body wonder if the memory of all LeShay is fragmented, if they perhaps were in one Wheel and then forcibly thrown across the Metaverse. This is a theory Ethena is currently investigating, her estates hiring parallel walkers when necessary as well as planewalkers who know nothing about the parallel Wheels that border their own.

Ethena has allies among the Architects, who she funds when their work seems promising - she tells them she hopes that they might create a Multiverse where her people are able to keep their history intact. More realistically, in her mind, is the hope that the Architects will help her understand how to reverse the erasure. Every LeShay who has claimed this as possible, regardless of desire, hasn't had the knowledge to do so. However despite this close affiliation she is actually a member of the Breakers of Destiny, constantly recruiting chronomancers of that faction to aid in her work. Ethena cannot travel through time herself, though her own considerable magical prowess enables her to peer through the eyes of those who can.

(Ethena discretely has contact with two phanes as well. She has sought advice from the enigmatic Elementals of Time but they have not deigned to respond. She has also, through intermediaries, put up a bounty for the capture of the Keeper of the Medallion of Time and Place.)

Ethena herself is actually a mystery, as she is possibly the only parallel walking LeShay in all of the Wheels of the Metaverse. Because of this, you might hear her referring to herself as the "She Who Is Chosen To Bring About the Return" or more regularly just "She Who Is Chosen". There are a few LeShay who aid her when they can, though another interesting thing to note is that other LeShay cannot leave the Wheel they found themselves on after...whatever it was that happened to erase their timeline.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Oh, here's a question that came to mind. I know that you're just referring to the standard Planescape universe as "Multiverse Prime" for the sake of the thread, but is there any sense in which it has some sort of...primacy amongst the parallels, or is it just one of many? Is there anything special about the "main" multiverse, the way you see things?

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Hmmm...I don't know. I mentioned that some parallel walkers believe there to be a first tale, which is the Prime Multiverse, and each retelling is a variation that creates another Wheel.

Personally I'd go with the idea that the canon Multiverse is but one among many, that no one knows which, if any, Wheel is Multiverse Prime.

But I can see interesting stories with the canon Wheel being the Prime as well.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

A game set among parallel Wheels would be likely to have a home Multiverse as a base of operations, if nothing else.

Questions of whether one timeline can be ascendant over others, how to deal with doubles, and many ideas for variations can be found in Steve Jackson Games' worldbook Infinite Worlds. It's the meta-setting for the GURPS system, but most of the book is fluff about various game worlds (variations of Earth histories, mostly, though it's just as easy to make similar changes to D&D Primes) and how to GM a campaign across with Multiversal and temporal travel.

For example, one idea in that book is the notion of a crosstime highway that can be used by nonspellcasters to travel across world, perhaps accidentally: I-776, which may be a ribbon of concrete in the American southwest, a Roman road, or a mysterious glassy black strip, but in all of them it's a road where taking the right exit will let you off in a new history. Or if you're mystically inclined, you can map out the comings and goings of the Gates of Thoth that appear along the cracks riven by reality quakes, and use them to step from world to world.

The "core setting" there is sci-fi-centric: a modern Earth called Homeline, with technological means of crossing timelines. However, the Cabal, a mystical organization, is expanded from their original book into a crossworld organization. The Cabal cosmology is one of the most awesome I have ever seen, although it would take some massaging to fit it to the Planescape standard.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

That Gurps stuff looks tempting...heh, right now much of my free time is given to Wise Man's Fear and Name of the Wind but I will likely get those products at some point so thanks for the recom!

Might make sense to have headquarters in a meta-transitive place...I've been thinking about the Meta-transitive planes, like the Astral sort of lies between the Outer and the Etheral sort of lies between the Inner. Though I suspect the Far Realms and the place of the vestiges have that encompassing property, I don't think too many beings can successfully navigate either, not even the aberrations from the Far Realms -> not every fish can survive all the depths and temperatures of the Ocean.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Perhaps there is no meta-transitive plane? I dunno, I feel like introducing such a concept would reduce this parallel-walking idea to nothing more than a minor variant on different planes. Plus that would imply having planes outside any multiverse, which I'm not even sure how to conceptualize in a way that doesn't just reduce to a single multiverse.

I like more the idea that all these multiverses aren't in some larger structure, and there is nothing between them or some larger space they lie inside, they simply exist as distinct entities. And then parallel-walking would be more like a direct teleportation than travel through some intervening medium in which all the multiverses lie.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

sciborg2 wrote:
Might make sense to have headquarters in a meta-transitive place...I've been thinking about the Meta-transitive planes, like the Astral sort of lies between the Outer and the Etheral sort of lies between the Inner.

Idea: Greybeards who know of it call this 'plane' the Metaphysical Deep, the boundary space between multiverses. This 'plane' is actually a state of total non-being. Everything that enters a Sphere of Annihilation actually ends up here. Things that get thrown off of Sigil's edge probably end up here, too.

Only relatively brief travel between parallels is possible, and an extended trip through the Metaphysical Deep would eventually destroy anyone or anything. This property of the Metaphysical Deep acts strongly to deter the exploration of the most bizarre and strange Multiverses.

Greybeards believe that it's generally easier and faster to travel to Multiverses that more closely resemble your own than to those that are extremely strange. The weirder the Multiverse you wish to visit, the longer the trip.

There is no sense of 'space' within the Metaphysical Deep. You might as well be standing or floating in one place.

A typical journey between parallels requires no more than a few seconds of exposure to the Metaphysical Deep. Exploring for a new parallel altogether, well, that requires much longer...

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

I see your point Idran. I don't know if anyone who exists now could even access/sail such meta-transitive structures. I'm going to personally go with your conclusion, but anyone who has ideas for such a plane like Zimrazim's great suggestion feel free to add them. I might even toss in some theories later if I come up with anything good.

Edit - heh, meant to post after Idran but then saw Zimrazim's response.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personally, I like the idea that Jem mentions with two different groups shifting through the parallels via different means, as it made me think of the (probably implied) situation where these two groups might be working at cross purposes towards different goals.
It also made me consider making the Far Realms a parallel reality instead of a plane or place outside the planes. Instead, maybe it was a reality where psionics or some Chthulu race took over and know they are shunting to other universes to ensure their conquest over other forces (like "magic"). It would partially explain why one finds mind flayers everywhere one goes.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

How about one of the mostly unpopulated Wheels?

-----

The gods of this Wheel never created the mortal races, or even exemplar servants. They build their own temples and cities in which to dwell, and they shape the continents of their worlds to their pleasure. Where they disagree, they negotiate or fight, as they do in other Wheels. It seems clear that these deities do not require mortal belief to survive; where their portfolios include such concepts as love, war, or family, these things are expressed in the animal species of their worlds and the relationships of the gods themselves.

The full spread of planes is still here, though Baator lacks some of its features prominent on other Wheels (Malbolgia, in particular, is quiet, if precipitous). Carceri imprisons the Titans in lonely isolation; the Styx travels slowly and carries the memories of gods now floating on the Astral. Hades rules over the deaths of creatures, but his realm is one of stately marble halls and piles of treasure, guarded from thief-gods by Cerberus and other minor divinities. His halls of imaginative tortures are empty, perhaps a threat to the enemies of the pantheon. Primus, the One and the Prime, rules over a race of One, Prime, in a Mechanus that turns guided by his remote hands. The Olympian gods pursue their incestuous trysts and petty spats, building themselves cities on the Prime and arguing over territory with the Egyptians and the Hindu gods. There are no genies, but elemental Powers make war on each other, or make alliances, and exert their influences on the Prime. Strangely, there are such deities here as Hercules, Vecna, and Orcus, though Hercules claims to have been made recently by Zeus' will and the other two have not been reliably questioned on the matter of their origins.

The only creature in all the Planes that might not be a deity is the Lady of Pain. Without her dabus, she still floats silently across an empty Sigil -- a strikingly clean Sigil, without the belching smokestacks of the Factory or the denizens of the Hive or the outbreaks of Blood War sideshows. For some reason the Hive is still a tottering slum, though its apparently shoddy construction has stood untouched for longer than its reflection elsewhere.

The first wheelwalkers that arrived on this Wheel were taken by the locals to be gods, and then on closer examination were taken to be unusually clever apes, but shortly thereafter their true origins were understood. The deities appear not to care, except that permanent settlements (even nomadic settlements) are abruptly destroyed whenever attempted. The Lady permits wheelwalkers to use Sigil as they please, though they must take care not to damage the architecture they borrow.

There are a few gods more willing to let traffic run about on this Wheel. The first halfling to encounter Yondalla, the first centaur to find Skerrit, the first dwarf to meet Moradin, all told of deities who looked them over like a child discovering an unexpected treasure, and told too of a deep sensation of regret. Temporary settlements, with a thick leavening of racial leaders, are sometimes permitted within these gods' territories.

Jem
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

And naturally, we should suggest that Golarion's cosmology is one of these alternate parallels!

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

It is rumored that in the most remote spaces between Multiverses, newly-budding parallels are just beginning to form. A parallel walker with great strength of will could shape such a Multiverse to his liking, creating metaphysical laws, rules for individual planes, races of inhabitants... anything. He could become like unto a God, if he understood how to weave the fabric of Planestuff itself.

But that's probably just a rumor, put there by the most power-mongering parallel walkers to eliminate rivals.

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2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Jem, that parallel was awesome. By my count you just made Parallel XVII, so we only have a few more to catch up to Rip's 42!

Palo - I like the idea of competing powers as well. I see characters like Count Morgenstein, Old Elba, and the Keeper as opposed to forces like Karagoth and possibly Ethena. Off the top of my head rival organizations don't come to mind, but if you have ideas definitely share!

Also like the idea of the Far Realms as a corrupted/infected Multiverse spreading its disease.

Zimrazim, I like the idea of emergent parallels -> definitely something the Architects would be interested in. I can't say if the Prisoner already knows more about these though...

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Race: The Collectors

The Collectors are a bizarre race of beings that look like a cross between cicadas and bullfrogs - their chitinous backs are belied by their soft, ponderous amphibian bellies. Their wings are vestigial, though the tone and volume of their buzzing can communicate the Collector's emotional states. Usually this seems to be a matter of picking between cocky, surly, angry, amused, lustful, and bored.

Collectors are scholars, obsessive zoologists, seeking various examples of specimens from across the parallels. For all their intelligence, their culture is a boorish one delighting in scatological humor and a penchant for violence.

Collectors have vessels akin to spelljammers that can move through parallels. The vessels seem like smooth, elegant obsidian daggers literally cutting through realities. These vessels require everyone on board to be a parallel walker, and of course all those who work in hunting down specimens are. These vessels can only hold a limited crew of 10-15 Collectors (30-45 human sized persons) in addition to a storage area that functions as a time-stopped holding cell for anyone snatched up by the Collectors. The vessels draw on the life force as well as lifespans of their crew - hunters are not known for their long lives. (Note that an average Collector lives for 700-777 years)

Other Collectors are aware of parallel walking and aware of the race's mysterious mission, and in fact parallel walking is not a guarantee of respect in their culture. Researchers and caretakers are other castes equal to the that of the hunters and it is the rank within a caste that determines one's worth. Collectors are obsessive about their meritocracies. There are no physical markers distinguishing the three castes, though hunters are more physically fit as a rule.

What Collectors want with all these specimens is unclear, though if one gives the appropriate bribe (feel free to do so openly) one is allowed to visit their cities which all have a central holy menagerie to feature the exalted, exceedingly well cared for prisoners. The specifics of the faith are unclear, though clerical magic is available to those who've excelled in their caste.

Collector cities are magnificent if baroque stone shaped structures always located on planets warmed by the eyes of silver fire dotting the interior of the crystal shells that encompass them. There are no suns in these shells, the temperate climate of the worlds is maintained solely by these stars. Looking up into the night sky when in a city is like looking up into the night sky of worlds such as Krynn and Toril, there is no obvious pattern in the sidrereal arrangement.

Collector families are matrilineal as well as harshly matriarchal, though only in so far as the head of the household is a female whose word is religious law. Females who are not heads of a household enjoy no special privilege.

Questions about Collector society, history, and religion are answered with ribald tales that one might, however preposterous, think of as true until one realizes that the tales vary from family to family or even person to person.

While vessels capable of moving through Wheels are rare but not unheard of, the means by which the Collectors created them is unknown even after inspecting ruins of such craft. The numbers of these craft is also indeterminate, and it is unclear whether the Collectors created or salvaged them.

Though their mannerisms do not indicate a civilization of advanced magical aptitude, witnesses have described them taking on spellweavers, exemplars, and even driving off an astral dreadnought.

Collectors are not secretive about their findings - every respectable library catering to parallel walkers has their annually published tomes containing the race's latest knowledge on anatomy, habitat, society, resistance to damage, magical abilities, estimated amount of damage necessarily to kill the average member of a version of a species, and other such vital data.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XVIII: Whispers On Your Shoulder

"My little demon, making me choose. Making me an offer I can't refuse. Hard as a rock,dry as a bone... Big or little,know that I will take you home." -Fleetwood Mac, My Little Demon

Sigil exists as a jet crystal city flowing from the inside of a crystal shell, though what exists outside it is unknown. Anyone attempting to drive a spelljammer into the expected cosmic ocean gets flayed by the Lady's shadow. (Admittedly, seeing Her shadow cutting through or falling across an entire spelljammer would be an amazing sight - but this hasn't happened in the last seven thousand years.)

This might be the largest Sigil in the known parallels, lit perpetually by a soft sapphire star at the Shell's center. Spelljamming vessels exist to ferry bodies across the vastness of a rather tame wildspace filled with circular fortresses, gnomish satellites, comets, lunacropoli (cities covering the surface area of moons), great dreamers, and gonnlingdaah revolving around the sun. Portals between sections of the city exist though all of them are the property of some organization or another.

There are three planes in this Multiverse - Paradise, Perdition, and Prime. Paradise and Perdition shadow the composition of Prime to some degree, with their own versions of the cosmic ocean, crystal shells, and astrological bodies.

Paradise has crystal shells of nacre separated by a cosmic ocean of hallowed milk. Celestial races common to the Upper Planes live on worlds reflecting those of the Prime. Perdition is similar in its mirroring of the Prime, but here the crystal shells are opals colored in the dark blood of the vein. In place of the phlogiston there is a gray void that leeches both life and color. The Prime consists of the usual crystal spheres separated by an infinite elemental (Sonic, Acid, Fire, Cold, Electricity, Force, Negative, Positive) ocean similar to Limbo but without the same degree of chaotic fluctuation/destabilization.

On the Prime, every time a sentient is born they are mysteriously assigned one fiend and one celestial who stay with them their entire lives as unasked for councilors. The beings are undetectable by all but the most powerful, existing simultaneously on the Prime and their respective home plane. This means the exemplars have to traverse terrain to keep up with their prime, which is sometimes incredibly difficult as a flat plain on the Prime might be a giant chasm or mountain in the phase shifted planes.

Exemplars cannot abandon their assigned prime easily - the further away they are the more agony they feel. The reasoning behind this entire bonding process is known only to the highest ranking of exemplars on both sides and none have chosen to share that information.

The degree of influence these exemplars have varies depending on the individual, though it should be pointed out that insanity is rather common - as is the preponderance of neutrally aligned cultures evolving as a survival mechanism. As history progresses, many of these cultures align with Good or Evil and teach their children how to ignore or heed one or both voices on their shoulders.

Note that only those who are perfectly aligned to Chaos, Order, or Balance with no leanings toward Good or Evil are able to escape the pull of both Paradise and Perdition - the fate of such souls is to become elementals or enter the reincarnation cycle of this parallel's flora and fauna.

Prime born parallel Walkers from this Multiverse leave their exemplars behind when they travel to other Wheels.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XIX: Spokes In The Cosmic Wheel

Sigil is not a torus in this parallel, but instead a multitude of spokes emanating out from a central point, each one controlled by a different faction, guild, family or other interested party. The number and size of spokes seems to slowly change over the course of centuries, as new blood comes to the Hive or turmoil thins the ranks of the city's population - the presence of new territory to colonize can lead to periods of protracted strife in the city, as can the imminent disappearance of a district (causing its residents to violently seek somewhere, anywhere else to call home). The Lady is a seemingly immobile being at the city's exact center - no matter which spoke you come from, though, it looks like you're facing her, and those that displease her find themselves somehow unable to step past her watchful gaze. Not a mazing, not a flaying, just eternal imprisonment in your own narrow sliver of reality.

In this parallel, portals are not a form of instantaneous transport - instead, entering a portal propels one into a strange, passage-like extradimensional space. No two portal excursions are ever exactly the same - some are short, others long; some are intensely boring, others all too exciting and stressful. Food, drink, sleep, even breath don't seem to be necessary while within portal-space, and traversing a portal can't kill you - but all sorts of less-than-fatal nastiness can potentially affect the underprepared and unwary. Records kept by the Fraternity of Order suggest that entering a portal has been gradually been getting ever-riskier over the last few thousand years - whether this is a natural cycle due to eventually reverse itself, or a permanent decline, no one can say. The Dustmen seem to think that the dangers of portal-space are a sign that existence itself is beginning to decay, while the Doomguard see it as a defensive reaction to mortal intrusion into the cosmic ylem beneath the multiverse - members of both factions have suggested that this is a process that should be hurried along, in order to remove mortalkind from the multiverse and move it into its next great cycle.

Parallel XX: Promise Of The Infinite

Sigil is ever-changing, reshaping itself around the perceptions of those who inhabit and visit it - a shining city of pale marble one day, a dank and fetid warren of rotting wood and oozing tar the next. Its natives are those with the mental fortitude and flexibility to take such changes in stride, and not depend too closely on any external landmarks for stability. The Lady is as mutable as the city, potentially appearing as anyone or anything - you'll only recognize Her if you displease Her, and then (it's said) you'll find yourself all but invisible, unable to get the attention of anyone around you or affect the outside world in any way. How long this sentence lasts depends entirely on how badly the Lady wants to punish you.

Every sapient being in this parallel is born human, and can gradually change their physical form - to elf, orc, dragon, demon or angel - through magic, chance, effort, study or simple force of will. Death is never truly permanent here, though violent trauma can strip away memories, skill, sanity and much else of value. Everything is possible, but nothing is guaranteed - and nothing is forever. Even the gods can be challenged, overcome and cast down by those with enough determination, skill and the willingness to reshape their bodies into a form able to use the power they seek. Some fallen deities choose to accept their lot, taking on a less prominent lifestyle; others struggle to regain their former position, aided by their first-hand knowledge of the capabilities and weakness of their kind; a few seek indirect revenge by encouraging other mortals to challenge those responsible for their downfall. In a multiverse where nothing ever really ends, the only escape may be learning to Walk away.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Love both of the above. Portal space is a great idea, giving a taste of higher reality while keeping it mystical/mysterious. I love the immortals shifting your followup to the spokes as well, and the last line resonates for sure: "learning to Walk away."

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XXI: The Lady is Made of Sugar and Spice...and knives.

Sigil is a massive wafer torus, with internal architecture of gum drops, ginger bread, sheets of sugar glass and various other confectionery assortments. The city is tended to by dabus artificers specializing in sweets based construction and renovation, though pest control is accomplished by the fractal refractions angling out of the Lady's shadow. As yet, no one has found the origin of the shadow, they only see its darkness passing through the rotating prisms sculpted from sugar cane crystals. Because of the shadow, any pest (ants, flies) that enters Sigil are flayed - sentient versions are permitted so long as they don't try to deface property.

Alternative magics abound, meta-magic, artificing, and alchemy based on the Ingredients and Their planes of origin.

The endless stripes of shadow keeps players of the Cosmic Game a little on edge, as it is a continual reminder that the games of the Multiverse are literally overshadowed once you enter Her domain. Citizens enjoy the presence of the shadow rays, and Sigilian youth can be recognized in the Multiverse by the henna stripes they put on their bodies in respect - not worship - to the Lady. Their elders warn them this deference is but a step to the "sin" of worshiping Her, but of course teens don't listen.

Estevan runs the Great Confectionery, famous for its soul-trapping hard and gummy candies. Devouring a soul can lead, depending on the incantations, to a shared consciousness, absorption of memories and/or abilities, possession, ejection of the soul of the eater into wherever the candied soul would have ended up as a petitioner (often used to avoid the Lower Planes), and many other possibilities.

The Sensorium has found a way to create sensory lozenges. There is a great deal of wealth to be made in allowing memory-meals - remembering the taste of different pre-created foods in the heights and depths of the Multiverse.

The Athar's tree yields sugar plums as fruit and its leaves seem to spun from sugar while its bark is made from chocolate. Eating the leaves provides healing, eating the bark grants limited protection from undead. The Athar believe the Tree is proof of an Unknown Master Baker beyond the false gods overseeing creation in the Enlightened Kitchen.

The Guvners point out that the existence of pre-created goods shows that power of the Multiverse lies in understanding the Great Axiomatic Recipes.

The Doomsguard enjoy the ruin of ingredients and the spread of ants and flies. For all their talk of the Great Rot, they behave themselves better than most when the refracted shadows continuously slide across their bodies in Sigil.

The Inner Planes consist of the Positive Plane of Heat - a plane of white hot light - and the Negative Plane of Cold - a land of cold in shades of blue, indigo, and violet. The magic of ovens and cooking fires comes from the Plane of Heat, magic of ice boxes and other refrigeration magics come from the Negative.

Between them lie the Elemental Planes of Liquid, Solid, and Gas. Various pastry and candy ingredients in varied stages of preparation exist in these three planes and the Positive and Negative planes. The Plane of Liquid is largely melted sugar and chocolate, the Plane of Solid includes those two ingredients among myriad others including the substance of jelly beans and gummy bears. The Plane of Gas is a cornucopia of delicious scents, though candy lung - chocolate or sugar mist becoming solid or liquid in the body - is a serious danger. Elementals take on the substance of these planes.

The Prime material planes are crystal shells made of some unknown hard licorice based on smell and taste. Many prime worlds, littered with candy and sweets of various sizes and shapes, are infested with the vermin the Lady keeps out of Sigil, though less so in water and gas worlds. In fact, many advanced civilizations turned their worlds into gas giants or oceanic planets precisely to eliminate this problem.

The Rainbow Ocean is multicolored slush that must be crossed through with spelljammer submersibles. The cold and lack of air keeps insects from being too much of a problem.

The Outer Planes are briefly described as follows, though it should be noted that variations to the landscapes exist. The following landscapes were chosen because they span billions upon billions of crystal spheres in size.

More information - some possibly describing past or future versions of entire planes - exists in tomes published by others (hint, hint):

Mechanus: The Plane of Pure Law is a series of interlocked doughnuts. Each doughnut is perfectly round with fractal patterns bringing consistency to the internal and external structures. The Plane is tended to by the moignos - living recipes done in calligraphy that monitor the doughnuts - and the modrons - walking ovens, egg beaters, wisks, and other kitchen implements that guard and repair the doughtnuts. To eat a part of the doughnuts confers either an understanding of or a compulsion toward some aspect of Law. Guvner tastings are done in Sigil to search for metaphysical loopholes.

Arcadia: A lattice of sugar glass tunnels connecting nodules. The entire plane is a benevolent dictatorship overseen by the Formian Queen, a planar lord who ensures the greater good is enforced. Eating a part of a lattice makes you more willing to conform to the general good of the area you're in.

Celestia: Seven subterranean layers of cake, lit by the nuts, fruit, and other edible substances embedded into the material. The flavors of the first six layers are lemon, strawberry, cherry almond, ginger bread, spiced pumpkin, cheese, and red velvet. The final layer is believed to be tiramisu but no one has been able to bring any substance back from it. In fact, no one has ever returned at all. Eating any part of the layers calls to mind one virtue to engender and one sin to be cleansed of. However, the archons adjust which sins and virtues correspond to which layers every thousand years depending on the direction they see the Multiverse is heading and the course correction that is necessary.

Bytopia: Two graham crackers facing each other, connected by dollops of peanut butter. One layer is dominated by gnomes in the baking and confectioner professions, the other a gelato wasteland wracked by flavor storms. Eating any landscape here increases your desire to work hard.

Elysium: An infinite field of cereal grains, an endless swamp of fruit fillings, and an unceasing ocean of milk are the three layers of Elysium. Eating any landscape off this planes eventually imbues with a minor geas or two to help someone out.

Beastlands: Fruiting plants and edible flowers such as honey suckle dominate this layer, occurring in sizes ranging from the miniscule to world spanning. Eating anything from this plane imbues with some animal characteristics - physical, mental, or both. Here the Mortai are made from clouds of sweet water.

Aborea: The first layer is a temperate wilderness filled with rivers of rose water and wild growing apple trees. Eating an apple might make you immortal, an incredible beauty, or exile you from the Upper Planes until some redress is accomplished. Grape vines snare everything, with their fruit already fermented into delicious wines. The second layer is a turbulent ocean of wine, and the final layer a cold land of flour buffeted by blizzards of sugar. Eating anything here increases your existing passions.

Ysgard: Crags and mountains of frozen, flavored ice mark the Plane of Glory. Eating the ice sends you into an obsessive need to prove yourself against an equal or an obsessive need to hear a story that fundamentally changes you.

Limbo: Unpredictable shifts through varied landscapes, altering every moment. Anarchs can stabilize the area around them, though they caution you not to eat any part of this place lest you go temporarily mad.

Pandemonium: A plane with painfully bright silver white cloud cover, the ground consisting of shattered candy cane forests growing from the soil of packed sugar, the winds threatening to dig shards of the broken canes into your eyes...at which point you become like Kay in the Snow Queen. However the Queen here is the Queen of Air and Darkness, a malignant fey whose insane mind is carried on every breeze, egging on the bitter and spiteful fey that make this plane their home. To eat of this place is to lose yourself to the spite that inspires the worst practical jokes.

Abyss: A churning mess of food rotted and covered with mold, vermin bursting from every corner. The Doomguard make their home here. Chasme, abyssal ants, and other insectile demons thrive in this place. To eat of this place is to take on aspects of the demons that live here.

Carceri: Chocolate beads strung out, each bead nestled inside the prior layer's spheres. Carceri is a place of sickly sweetness, overripe fruit and cloying flowers that thicken the air to the point of stealing the breath and causing migraines. The varied perfumes can also lower one's inhibitions toward darker thoughts. Strangely enough, this brings a fair amount of paladins and monks into the more manageable cities, as these probably fools - with the aid of those immune to the scents - attempt to test and cleanse themselves of these vile predilections. To eat of this place is to lose yourself to bitterness.

Hades: The Flavorless Lands are long stretches of dried up, cracked frosting and stale brown-grey chocolate. Hades robs almost everyone save the 'loths of their sense of taste over time. To eat of this place is to lose yourself to apathy.

Gehenna: A bubbling series of dark chocolate canyons filled with boiling honey and wine. Gehenna is dominated by the General, who lives in a city created in the head of a giant ant, a city whose horrors are thankfully only partially glimpsed through the darkness of the ant's eyes. Gehenna exists in a feudal hierarchy of 'loths.

To eat of this place is to fill your heart with avarice and envy.

Hell: Nine layers of alcohol leading to the darkness of Nessus. The flavors of the drink are white wine, beer, mead, whiskey, brandy, red wine, gin, and vodka. Nessus is believed to be an ocean of absinthe, but none can be sure. To drink of this place is to seek the domination and manipulation of all around you. Nevertheless, in small quantities it is supposedly bearable with magical protection, and thus Hellish Wine Tastings are conducted lawfully in Sigil.

Acheron: Series of honeycombs floating in a golden lit void. The honeycombs are guarded by abeil legions led by advespa commanders. The advespa here are not part of Hell's baatezu, though whether they are native to Acheron is unknown. To eat of this place is to become more obsessed with conformity and an irritation with those outside the area's dominant culture.

The Plane of Concordant Opposition (the Maple Ocean of the Outlands): A thick ocean of maple sap, in whose dark depths are the exemplar and elemental champions the mysterious Lords of the Balance found troublesome and yet were unable or unwilling to kill. They exist here, eternally asphyxiated in prisons of delicious sap hardened into resin - a thin glaze forever trapping them. Parallel Walkers are likely familiar with some of these figures - Grazz't, the Queen of Chaos, the "Killer of Gods" Ma Yuan, the Storm Kings of Arcadia, Geryon, Ygorl, Primus, Erebus the Shadow Titan, Cryonax (a parallel walking version from elsewhere who tried to dominate the Negative Plane of Cold), Morwel, Zaphkiel, Talisid, the Wind Dukes, the Hassitor entombed in their now suspended hassitoriums, and many others who pushed too hard against the designs of Neutrality's Guardians.

The plans of the Lords of the Balance is unclear, as are their identities. It is believed that in a prior age, a magical catastrophe may have altered this Multiverse and the former planar exemplars and their lords who once fought in the War of Alignments saw their folly when the rewriting of reality prevented the rilmani from living. In fact, no rilmani from any Multiverse can survive here save as an unliving being. (Note that undead and deathless are weak to the point of near helplessness as Positive and Negative Material do not fuel the life cycle here, instead they are exuded by the living and dying in small amounts across the Multiverse.)

Rilmani corpses that long ago died instantly litter the Concordant Opposition, their faces showing their last emotions and their ruins can be found in the sap from time to time. If one could bring the rilmani back to life, it would likely give the Lords of the Balance the army they need to chain all to the Balance...which may or may not be their end goal, but it is the currently popular rumor...

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sciborg2's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XXII: The World Tree and the Cosmic Web

Note: The idea of a living wish spell I believe goes to the ever creative Rip.

In place of the Spire Yggdrasil rises from the center of the Outlands. In place of a city Sigil is a great web in the midst of its branches. In theory one should be able to walk into Sigil, but the branches upon which it hangs all seem to attenuate into a featureless white void. To fall into the void is to land in some random plane on this Wheel.

In place of dabus Sigil is attended by black widow spiders who speak with glowing red rebuses on their shiny bodies, spiders who can weave webs of space and webs of time into the webs of Sigil's substance. Apertures in the web function as portals to other locations in time and space, leading to usually minor and often unnoticed chronomancy issues. Deja vu is the most likely feeling, though one might end up seeing oneself in the past or future if one continually goes back to one's homeworld or planar town of origin.

Sometimes one sees the spiders wrapping up or feeding on a presumably still living bloke - do not, under any circumstances, try to help these people unless you want to be flayed by the Lady's shadow...a shadow that never cuts through spider created webbing.

Buildings are built onto the webbing, usually out of material that is pliable due to the continual yet gradual rearrangement of the city by the spiders. There are structures made of chains or rope, but the most popular and long lasting are the various clockwork insect fortresses that stick and unstick themselves to get out of the way of the spiders.

Exemplars here appear as their mortal selves but with their plane's aura around them. When they leave their home plane, this aura exudes their plane's reality into foreign matter. This has resulted in many, many squatter wars, where each side attempts to terraform the other parts of the Great Wheel with their plane's reality. Even more powerful are the seeds of the planar trees they plant in these other planes. As the trees mature, they rewrite the reality of the other plane down to the metaphysical foundations. Even if these trees are destroyed - an epic quest to root out even one, it takes centuries to millennia for the plane to heal itself.

This has resulted in benighted lands in the Upper Planes and patches of paradise in the Lower spectrum of the Wheel, wild magic zones on Mechanus and fractal asteroids of Order on Limbo.

The plane linking the Outer Planes to the Inner and Prime is The Plane of Thought. It is a plane of breathable golden mist-fire. The plane is a cacophony forever echoing with the thoughts of the Multiverse's minds, and connecting the Inner Planes to the others there is an Elemental Plane of Time, akin to the Temporal Prime, linking the Inner Planes of Matter, Magic, and Ether.

The Plane of Matter resembles a combination of the Elemental Planes of Water, Earth, Air, and their respective quasi and para-elemental planes from Multiverse Prime.

The Plane of Magic reflects a Prime world in appearance but it is made entirely out of magical energies such as fire, force, cold, shadow, transfiguration, divination, to name a few. Elemental Magic serving as a major building block means magic exudes out of everything on the Prime Material Planes in wondrous ways - almost every living thing has some magical ability and most non-living things (mountains, rivers, storms) have magical properties or affects. Dead magic areas are shadowy wastelands, fading places that cling desperately to reality before eventually breaking up and collapsing into the Planes of Matter and Ether.

The Plane of Magic is dominated by what Primes from the world of Eberron would call Living Spells, who are in turn guided by the Living Wish, a mysterious spell the others regard as playful shepherd and shamanic savior.

The Plane of Ether is an ocean of incorporeal silvery mist that glows softly. It is the home of the incorporeal undead and islands playing host to varied Fey Courts.

It is believed every living thing on the Primes has a reflection who is a Living Spell, a reflection who is a ghost that never died, and a reflection who is made of from the substance of fleshless Matter. This is, for example(s), why there is wraith grass on the Etheral, stone wolves upon the Matter, and shadow drow on the Magic.

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Palomides's picture
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factotums
Joined: 2010-06-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

So do these spider-dabuses communicate their rhebuses as specified in "Charolette's Web"?

sciborg2's picture
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Factol
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Hmmm, I made an edit so the rebuses appear on their bodies, but either they can do what you say or they should write out what they claim are "all our broken histories" in the Sigilian webs, mysterious calligraphy whose translations are now lost...

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Seer Through Your Clearest Waters

"Sanjaya, who has the gift of seeing events at a distance granted by the sage Vyasa, narrates to Dhritarshtra the action in the climactic battle of Kurukshetra...

Sanjaya had the unpleasant duty of breaking the news of the death of Dhritarashtra's hundred sons at the hands of Bhima at different points of time in the battle and offers the sorrowing king solace in his darkest hours...

In the Bhagavad Gita, passages often start with the Sanskrit words "Sanjaya uvāca:" ("Sanjaya said:"). The entire Bhagavad Gita is a recital of Sanjay to Dhritarashtra of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna."

-Wikipedia

I lead a woman both willing and blindfolded, through the amniotic tree's blood, past the startled form of an obyrith sibirex whose eyes are bulging as it is struck by an unwanted onset of needing to breathe along with an inability to do so. I don't want to waste her oracular palette on such meager fare. Past the demon, past the crawling city of the hassitor, past the decayed remnants of a ever-strangled baernoloth. Past the platinum skinned man extending his pierced palms in forgiveness even as he peacefully suffocates forever. I am forced to give him a moment of consideration, searching futilely for some measure of fear in his silver irises, but finding nothing I quickly move on.

I am not here for the ever-dying, I am here for the precious dead. We swim through the syrup, avoided the gargantuan shadows of cetacean and ichthyic Titans, the few creatures to swim through the liquid by strength of muscle alone. Most lesser creatures avoid us in turn, thaumaturgic fauna that thin the sap around them. A dolphin, whose glowing tattoos mark her as a fellow Sensate, chippers a pleasant but rushed greeting before she swims off to study the veil of solid glaze preventing her entrance into the hassitor city. She did not realize I am of her faction and yet not, I belong to a reflection of her Sensates just as the dolphin belongs to a mirror of mine.

But then only the Seer knew me on Sight. The Sight also being the reason we are not lovers.

The ruins I seek are far more accessible even as their existence is far more miraculous. I lead my charge into the viscous dark, the white-gold fairy fire that lines her like silver around a storm cloud softly illuminating the way. Like any lover of the bodies of women and herons would, I take this moment to watch her unobserved. She has an adolescent's gangly bone structure, and I remember her uneven gait on the streets. It called to mind the running of toddlers just learning to walk. Here, however, she moves as one finally free, a ribbon of silk fluttering through wind. Beautiful in the way of koi dancing in their ponds. All of her released in the way of the floating frame of her bright blond hair.

If there was air she would smell strongly of lime and mint.

Her face has been chiseled from pride, a beauty sculpted out by sun and wind, a smirk of amusement playing around her lips even as her hand grips mine own tightly in the joyous fear of the explorer. She is right on both counts - This is both a game and a dive into dangers unknown. Who knows what the Lords of the Balance are seeking in the sweet quagmire of Concordant Opposition? I had brought the Seer, after all, to visit a crime scene the Masters of the Scales would more than likely sooner forget.

If I could see the Seer's eyes they would be pools holding an iron softness, irises colored like the cosmic ocean around us, darkest brown swallowing the black of her pupils. But the glitter of pixie mischief perched in her gaze is always, always promising Life...whereas around us is a mausoleum made from some murdered maple tree's blood, a tomb bereft of walls forced to embrace the lost dead and the eternally drowning.

Seeing the shattered broken branch section of the school I give her hand a squeeze and the smirk emerges from the thicket as a full bodied smile. We're here, in one of the great and mysterious ruins of the Rilmani. I wonder why this parallel has no World Tree, yet the Rilmani clearly once lived in the branches of some aboreal being whose fruit could have been the worlds of the Prime.

Here, in this ruin, their children once went to school.

'This', I say as I unwrap the Gift of her eyes, 'is what I brought you to See.'

The smile falls so fast I swear it ripples the syrup around us.

=-=-=
"Now I knew her to the marrow of her bones. Her eyes were like four lines of music, clearly penned. My mind was filled with the sudden song of her. I drew a breath and sang it out in four hard notes."
-Wise Man's Fear

The Seer is crying, and if there was breath in this place she would be gasping through choked back sobs. She witnesses them all, the slow floating children of the monastic Rilmani, their unburnished bodies just beginning to take on the metallic sheen of adulthood. Their cavernous university built in between the bark and the heartwood, illuminated by the heatless light of blazing amethysts chandeliers and dimmer shades of cerulean fungi. I do my best to support the weight of her Sight, clasping her close even as I hunger for the experience wracking her frame.

Again I blindfold her, but of course now there is no smirk for the game has ended and the work begun. I take her into the school, revealing the tragedy of frozen moments, of rilmani corpses dying and somehow coming instantly into this syrupy deluge. Each time it has to come as a shock to her, that flood of vision when the blindfold is removed. I can't let her get used to this, I need her to See in the places where the shadow and light can capture the breadth of infinite deaths in the confines of a classroom or schoolyard. There is no Seeing from the wrong angle for her, no preparing herself for sights seen at a distance.

Later, seeing this through the combination of our memories, I will sleeplessly grind over questions that do not seem to be wearing away. Can one hunt down Enlightenment? Can one track Peace like the hunter follows a fawn? Because there are footprints here where Enlightenment once tread, claw marks where Peace perched on a branch. But I cannot follow, for each of these is only to be found behind the pupils of exemplars pushed without warning into the waiting arms of extinction.

It was, in its own way, worse than those seen prior, those victims of the Balance left to drown without death. Lifeless eyes stared at their instructors with what must have been attention. A subterranean playground filled with syrup hugging iron children the size of rabbits. Children, now scattered by the ocean's slothful currents, who had once laughed and played in soft patches of fungi as they were brought up in the way of the Balance. The ones with the wide open defenseless smiles of preadolescence still retain clearer facial featuring of their joy, some of the other ones have lost their expressions for some reason or another. Perhaps a school of fish passed through here, their thinning auras making the syrup watery enough to slacken the muscles of their faces. In another chamber it's nap time for the youngest ones, each one clutching some toy animal made from fiend hide stuffed with angel feathers. At least all of their eyes are closed, though from the remnants of older smiles I think I can confidently infer the instructors playing chaperon loved them though I can't see any such emotion in their eyes.

'They are of the Balance?' I ask after that last room, and the blindfolded Seer nods. There are tears rolling past the ribbon over her eyes, curving rivulets tracing the bones of her cheeks. She is relieved when we look upon the lab tables' dead - the vivisection of a piscoloth, the half dismantled inevitable, the deva whose shoulders only bear the weight of twin scars. Were they murdered by the Rilmani? Were they corpses harvested from a battlefield? What were the actions that centered the Rilmani between Good and Chaos and Evil and Law? That evidence must lie elsewhere, for we found little of it here in this necropolis housing so many small vessels bereft of innocent souls.

A nearly empty room with a boy of nickel standing on his tip toes, shyly pursing his mouth to kiss a bending girl with skin of copper. Unlike his, her apple green eyes are open. Maybe once they were filled with wonder or amusement or hunger at a moment that will now never come to pass. Now they are filled with nothing at all, just like all the eyes of their kind. The boy and girl have floated to opposite ends of the room, though by the decaying position of their eternally preserved bodies it is clear they were nervously embracing. Someday, perhaps, no one will be able to tell what was about to happen in this room just by looking. Even today, you could certainly gain nothing but absolute ignorance from an examination of her eyes.

Imagine waking up to find your wife turned into a lifeless manikin, the painted on smile telling you the sightless glass eyes were watching you with love, love and gratitude to whatever power you believe in for the gift of your marriage. But now whatever made her herself is gone, and you are left with a husk in the shape of a doll.

=-=-=
"I see…you. I see…inside…of you..."
-Samurai Jack: Seasons of Death

Later the Seer will tell me of the thoughts left in their skulls, of their cultivated denial of alignment itself. I will ask the following questions: What innocence was found in the Rilmani way of life, free from the guilt of virtue and the release given by sin? How had they freed themselves from both Good and Evil?

She will not be able to answer with anything but sobs. The Rilmani, as a race at least, after all, did not know they were about to die. Still, her weeping in the place of answers will annoy me and I'll purse my lips so as not to express my disappointment with words. Thankfully it's night and she cannot See me in the darkness of her quarters, where she stares into what is apparently the symphony that plays only after the surrender of light, a banquet of delicious notes she suckles with her gaze until dawn.

Later, I will taste her memory of our excursion in the sensory sugars and almost die with grief. Even now I clench my teeth to keep the pain at bay. I forget, sometimes, how strong she must be to bear the Sight from her birth to her death. Often I must be reminded and humbled. To look upon the echo of heartwood's beating, to see the meters of the Cadence that binds all the flocking corvids to each other as well as yourself - an inescapable black-iridescent cinnamon music. Imagine a lifetime of reading the elemental alchemy written as love notes from the Sun to the lily and the lotus, or at every funeral witnessing the impression souls leave in the flesh of the dead. She says looking at them gives her sweat the scent of ash, a burned sour tobacco stench that runs through the mint and the lime. These corpses, she tells me, bear gentle indentations like pillows holding the heads of spirits now departed and yet the emptiness inside of each body eclipses the passing of stars.

How did someone so profound end up being born in a Multiverse overrun by pastries and candy?

-Walker B. Agnus of Parallel 42 visiting Parallel 21

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sciborg2's picture
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Factol
Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Digressions on Parallel Walking

"We left the Maze to see the Seer at the end of a marzipan brick road. We were both Jonah Draco, two Dracos of the Recurring Mirror from different parallels. Though the Seer herself cannot walk the Wheels, she does know of the Metaverse and can see deeply into those who come before her. Popular woman with many of the Wheel-spanning factions, but especially to us Self-Searchers. We've made her rich many times over, without us I doubt she'd have gotten much of out life.

When we came to her she smiled, and was a friendly talkative woman. First she Looked at the other Jonah Draco, my beloved brother who is my beloved self. She wrote down some notes on papyrus with swift brushstrokes of eucalyptus honey.

Then she Looked at me, and after a moment, she flinched. She wrote down some notes on papyrus with swift brushstrokes of raspberry honey.

Naturally we paid her, thanked her, and said our goodbyes. She was a friendly, talkative woman. Once we found a translator we were instantly excited like kids on the Day of Yule. With that excitement we unrolled our scrolls and compared notes. The other Jonah had been given a single sentence: 'The yellowing of the grass is where your hidden tears slumber unsalted.' He blinked, then smiled such a deep sated smile, exhaling like all the burdens of his life had flown off as a scattering of crows from a wheat field.

'The greenest of grass is the shading over your smiles.'

That was what mine said. I felt nothing. Then, a moment later, I felt anger. I asked the other Jonah what his sentence meant. He shook his head and smiled that smile again. This time it reminded me of an idiot donkey and I wanted to smack it off his face, hopefully splitting his lip in the process. Instead I mumbled something about mulling my sentence over some more. Letting it ripen, sink in, all that horse dung.

The Seer had power - my parallel self was the proof of it. Yet she had given me nonsense in place of the truth. Why did she flinch?

Later, I came myself to this idiotic 'Candy-verse' to see her and was denied entrance by a milk-skinned noviere. The Seer was apparently an honored guest of the Sensates. The time after that she was apparently swimming an ocean of syrup - or so I was told by seven azure elementals of cold.

The final time the guards - a pair of kytons who smelled like alcohol - told me to pike it.

This isn't over of course. I will find out what she saw. Use threats if I have to - I can connect to an archmage version of me and am a blade master myself. I don't like the idea of violence, but I won't be denied the inner peace the other Jonah found..."
-Jonah Draco (deceased, but self-scheduled for mummification)
=-=-=

"The black widows are beautiful, the smallest as big as a pup and the largest no bigger than a bear. They shine in the mysterious, sourceless daylight that plays tricks with the shadows of the webs and the branches, light that glints of the chitinous bodies of the spiders.

I wonder if they also killed their husbands. After all, I've never seen a male. I like to watch them, sitting in the Relic Chair I made from his bones.

If you have a moment, I can tell you how I did it - I had to get a certain kind of fish from another parallel, the kind that poisons a proxy..."
-Yerda, the Heart in the Marrow

=-=-=

"Fizban watches, mouth agape, as Dalamar deals a deathblow to the Queen of Darkness upon the charred ruins of shattered vallenwood trees. The Staff of Magius pierces the penta-hydra's hide but Her death screams are little more than wheezes. At Her fall the earth barely throws up hills let alone mountains, and the thunder above is only loud enough to shatter the eardrums of those non-dragons without protection.

This götterdämmerung has gone on too long, and now it ends with a whimper.

'Death to the murderer of my Shafali!' He roars in the sonorous way of the elves, his debt of honor to the long dead Raistlin - the man he'd come to love as an instructor in the Magic of the Unseen Moon, the man who replaced the father who'd driven him from the Silvanesti - at last fulfilled.

'Come, we should leave. I thought I could stop Him here, but I failed.' I whisper to the avatar. This remnant of Paladine, all that is left, nods in shared pity. I try not to laugh darkly right to his face. His world is over, but in the end his despair is paltry. One more Krynn fallen means no more than all the waterless deserts of a billion lifeless worlds lit by fast dying suns.

What matters is the future - I can already see the Drow God of this parallel's Krynn attempting to challenge first Vecna, then the Lady of Pain..."
-The Keeper of the Medallion of Time and Place

=-=-=

"The fetid droplets, each the span of a man's hand, fell across the lands with no consideration for the boundaries between nations. Some of the fetid dollops had red eyes of a goat. This was how Jubilex came to my home world.

First I tried to bring back artifacts from other parallels, but was refused every single time - most I can't blame because they didn't understand how the parallels worked. Others refused because they figured I'd lose them or never bring them back. One of my own reflections almost gutted me in a duel of blades and arcana. In his world the Blade of the Crescent Sun was unbroken you see...actually I will have to explain the history of the Blade some other time.

For my next trick I brought back a time machine that exploded the moment I tried to traverse from Present to Past. Chronomancy doesn't work on my world apparently.

Jubilex was literally molding the world in His image and I was desperate. I tried to find some way of calling the devils for aid, meanwhile arranging it so my soul would jump to another parallel upon my death....

So, here we are. Oh, I mean the end of the mightily abridged story - don't get out yet there's still two blocks to go.

You see, my world is long ruined, a battleground between the baatezu and near full manifestation of an Abyssal Lord upon the Prime. My soul is caught in this undead powered rikshaw...

Oh look, now here's your stop Princess. Thanks for listening to an old man ramble. It's true you know - there are other Multiverses out there. One day I'll figure out how to take this contraption through the Wheels, and then I'll show you wonders and delicacies. Don't fear, I'll be there to protect you, you'll be safe nestled in my passenger car -

Okay Opa, she's gone inside so now you're just talking to yourself instead of creepily flirting. Good thing really - she'd never sit in you again if she'd heard you fawning over her..."
-Opa de Tarell, former parallel walker now animated cab.

=-=-=

"The Wish is all of Us born from the Ocean of Arcana. It alights on a tongue and that tongue is the cleaver hacking at the bones and meat of reality or the singer of the Creation Song.

You seek wishes, young sir of the Compass, but you do not yet know how to wish. You lack the logic, the clear headedness, the focus upon the nuances of your goal and the dangerous ways your wish could come to pass.

The Wish is a wandering savior, but only to the wise. Only to the fleshlings who still the storm of thoughts inside their skulls.

No, you are not one for the Wish. Not yet. You must stay here, gentle Pilgrim, amongst the Lightning and Sound, in our monastery of True Named Shadows. Perhaps our Lord will come to you some future day, a butterfly in the cavern of your jaws, when you are ready to speak out your heart's desire."
-Xixiqziq-Lamat, a living spell lightning bolt sage.

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sciborg2's picture
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Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XXIII: The Roads through Stardust and Void

Sigil is a seven-sided band around the Spire, with the city built into the inner edges of the polygon. To look up is to see hints of the city angling above you, but at a much further distance. The city is divided into seven districts, moving past the corners where they meet gives the sensation of passing through a portal or planar vortex:

The District of the Dead: This area of the city is a decaying necropolis, filled with the smoke of crematoriums and the stink of rot hiding just under the perpetual snowfall. The Dustmen rule here with their Doomguard allies. Neither group pays much attention to the maintenance of buildings, though the dabus make a half-hearted effort on their behalf. The overflow of ossuaries in the past has ensured a place for skulls, thighs, wing cases, exoskeletal husks, and other examples of bones and chitin in the architecture. Despite the Dustmen amassed here undead can feel the power that sustains them unraveling when they come and as such avoid the district as much as possible. No one whose remains are disposed of in this place can ever be raised from the dead or called to unlife, even by a wish. Only the act of a god might suffice.

The District of Secrets: This area is always under a perpetual cloud cover of thunderheads, buffeted often enough by gales, hail, and thunderous storms. There are many libraries here, each ruled by cults dedicated to one animal totem or another that depends on some bizarre form of payment for temporary entrance. Payment ranges from the shell of a robin's egg with the yoke sucked out from a circular hole to a still living ant with all the legs removed. The libraries boast ancient tablets, cave sections, and many more ancient pre-paper tomes from across not only their own Wheel but those of the other parallels...though only the head librarian-shamans are aware of this last bit o' chant.

The District of Gold: Eye-stinging sunshine comes from a golden star one does not see until one enters this district, at which point it seems to be a tiny but brilliant orb of fire at the center of the heptagonal metropolis. The District of Gold could also be called the District of Blood (this offends the inhabitants however), as sacrifices are common here given their efficacy when used in conjunction with incantations. The smell of varied liquids running through the veins of varied races tinges the air, but is battered by the cloying stink of overripe mangoes whose source seems to waft out of the sewers. The dabus seem very annoyed at having to wipe the outer faces of structures and rarely seem to bother with the cleaning of streets given that this blood magic is used for everything from curing hangovers to divining the birth of heroes to minutely (and for some, greatly) reversing the effects of aging. The trade of incantations is the major economy of this district.

The District of Ink: Above the water this district seems to be nothing more than a giant silver-gilded white marble pool of indigo water. Diving in, one sees that the pool seems impossibly deep and wide, the buildings woven from the ink clouds of magically altered squids and octopi flocks. Walking into these structures is like stepping onto soft mud that impossibly bears your weight - this can be rather unnerving in the taller buildings. This district is famous for its place in the drug trade, whether those substances are narcotics, addictive, medicinal panaceas, consciousness expanding, mildly stress-relieving, and many more possibilities and combinations. The Sensates spend much time here, and a few run their own apothecaries. Mulk-Szq is a crazed mindflayer Xaosiect determined to free his non-sentient brethren from their supposed enslavement. Given his strangely pacifist nature, he is seen more as a mascot than a threat to the district and actually protected by the Lady against mindflayers who wish to remove this "embarrassment" from creation.

The District of Spit and Papyrus: Dog-sized, communally owned wasps shape this sunny district, supposedly lit by the same star as the District of Gold but the same sized star is less glaring here. Orchards and gardens help provide food to the rest of the city. The wasps end up being responsible for the pollination of the numerous flowering flora and fruit bearing plants. This district has a strong central government ruled over by an elected council. Neighbors are naturally nosy, because the longer one stays here the longer one loses a sense of privacy. Residents are one big diversely tolerant family, even of those they perhaps should take more seriously. A good example is Gortaga, an aminzu battle sorcerer who has been on the council for years despite her being very open about snatching up non-residents (even those from other districts) and keeping them as toys for years. When other residents are asked about this, they smile ruefully and say "fiends will be fiends, but no one else can organize our festivals and pinics like Gortaga!" Don't bother trying to understand the moral laxity that can balance torture with centralized planning for public events and instead take possible "comfort" in the fact that residents taken out of this district often end up horrified and hang themselves.

The District of Steam and Gears: Steam powered mechanoids run rampant in the pot hole pocked, crooked streets of this perpetually cloud covered, overcrowded district. Some of these inventions are helpful towards the city's continued functioning and others are nothing better than clockwork vermin. The other districts get annoyed when the critters end up in their areas, but the Lady prevents them from taking drastic action even when deaths result from the carelessness of the constructs' owners. This area is heavily populated by retired spelljamming gnomes and several prominent rogue modrons. These three modrons are honored guests in the district's artificer universities, as they have allowed one of their faces to become transparent and thus reveal their inner workings. Other modrons, if they deign to speak of these traitors on the Roads, refer to them by the Mechanus words for "tramp" and "hussie". Note that these rogue modrons are also fascinating because they are the few exemplars to foster relationships and exist comfortably in the boundaries of this Multiverse's time-space.

The District of Whistled Symphony: The clouds above churn and spiral constantly, herded into anarchy by the chaotic winds that move through the stone outcroppings of this district. The sound of the air through apertures in the stone results in an ever changing series of miraculously synchronized overtures. Air genasi wind shapers have the power to use the winds to carve magic items from stone, a long process that few humans have the patience for as each item is customized to the recipient. Some of the longer lived races across the Multiverse, however, do partake of these services. The winds here whisper secrets about the residents of and visitors to the other districts, and its said that those wind shapers who have died here and known unlife for at least seven centuries can pluck this chant from the air. This district is also famous for the sheer number of its citizens who happen to be invisible stalkers, most of whom comprise the majority of the peace keeping forces.

The Prime worlds are separated only by Wildspace, there are no crystal spheres and no phlogiston here. While on the surface of a prime world one can see thickets of stars, no such celestial bodies exist in the dark, possibly alive Vacuum of space. There are suns however, that revolve around worlds or are the axis upon which worlds circle.

There is actually one plane that surrounds the Prime, a breathable void also brimming over with the mysterious stars in the distance. The stars do, however, seem closer here than on the Prime, and great nebula brighten the dark considerably. In this void there are islands made by or at least for elemental, fey, divine, ethereal, and aberrant forces connected by the Roads of Good, Evil, Balance, Chaos, Law, and Evil. The islands range from continents where the Tuatha De Naan battle the infestation of beholder-kin birthed by the evil hermaphrodite god Balor to the tiniest outcroppings of solid light holding a village of radiance mephits.

The Roads are made from nacre, wood, metals, minerals, fossils, chains, petitioners, interlocked crows connecting Chinese lovers, stones in a void spanning ocean river placed there by Hindu monkeys, giant army ants, webbing, and a whole host of other beings and materials.

Roads of Good might be subjected to the Traveler's Way, Roads of Chaos might alter the passage of time, Roads of Balance might force you to balance every good deed with an evil one, and so on. The roads also have exemplars, but here they are much less direct and more enigmatic and seem to have difficulty acting in the space-time of those traveling the bridges. These exemplars haunt one's dreams after encountering them, their prophecies and admonitions lingering long after the encounter with them is concluded.

Because of the very troublesome, meddling nature of these Roads the creation of portals is held in high regard, but the incredible amount of magic required ensures that the number of portals remains a rarity. Portals exist between the realms of a pantheon's gods, factions will go to the trouble of linking their major headquarters, allies with treaties of military assistance will set up portals to ensure they can come to each others' aid against respectively hostile neighbors.

Petitioners who don't worship gods end up in areas where the inhabitants are at least somewhat similar in outlook to them. This doesn't always mean, however, that they end up among those who share their alignment, and oftentimes the petitioner in question will either fall in with his new friends or see where the Roads might take him.

=-=-=

Notes: The crow bridge connecting the Chinese Lovers is from a fable that is told in various Asian nations, but my first encounter was the tale as a Chinese (Taoist?) myth. The Hindu monkeys are those that built the bridge between India and Lanka in the Ramayana.

The District of Spit and Papyrsus sort of comes from the kephri district in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station.

All of the above are great stories, definitely check them out!

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Yerda, the Heart in the Marrow

Yerda is one of Count Morgenstein's operatives on Parallel XXII, a pale half-elven woman who has a personal talent for ossamancy. (She was apparently born with these abilities, and as such the Count has asked her to keep her parallel of origin a secret for now.)

Specifically relating her powers to the Count, Yerda can scry across parallels by eating the bones of a body so long as the rest of the skeleton is buried in that other Multiverse. The extent of this cross-Wheel ability to see and hear depends on the parallel in question.

When she uses this power her grey irises are drowned out by inky black pouring out of her pupils and turning the entirety of both eyes into orbs of jet. Her short russet curls turn silver white and dance as if underwater.

Yerda is actually not as interested in walking across Wheels as others with the gift, save for visiting new parallels for her own investigations. Beyond that she is content to use her power to spy for the Count and help run his import-export operations on Parallel XXII.

Yerda is introverted in that she doesn't seek out social situations, but is actually very friendly and enjoyable company when meeting with employees of the Count and adventurers Morgenstein has staying at her kip - a golden clockwork scarab. After a dinner and few drinks, she will happily recount the murder of her husband.

They met in the glorious wild orgy of Ysgard on Parallel VI, she already in service to Morgenstein and he a proxy of Bast. The cat goddess was intrigued by the idea of Wheels beyond her own, and thus gave permission to her servant to leave the Multiverse of his birth. Yerda and her new love continued to work for the Count, traveling to varied Wheels to battle against Karagoth and others who abused the gift of walking the parallels.

Then, one day, Yerda and her love stepped onto on the planar Roads of Parallel XXIII, a bridge between a kingdom of crystal genies and an asteroid riddled with holes serving as a home for bebiliths. This bridge was made of kytons woven together, and as they stepped upon the infernal creatures they heard the entreaties in their exhales.

It was then, having crossed onto the land of the chaotic evil spiders, that the two of them realized the kytons were still talking to them. They crossed through the Wheels in the employment of the Count and in the name of the goddess Bast, and yet the clinking of the kyton's chains continued to echo in their ears.

One day, after making love, her husband told her he couldn't resist much longer. Yerda took him to magi, to priests, they even returned to Parallel VI to entreat the goddess...but something had been shifted inside him, or perhaps it had always been there. He had become an unwilling victim to himself, a man obsessed with the murder of the woman he love most in the Metaverse.

Their last remaining years together were spent with him attempting to seek help in Gatehouses across the Wheels, subjecting his mind, body, and soul to numerous therapies - all of which failed.

It was the Count who presented a solution, the one that led Yerda to slit the throat of her one true love with the Silverback Shadows' Knife of Return. (She had to temporarily sever his connection with Bast using a certain type of fish from Parallel XVII.) Now she keeps his bones close, having made them into a Relic Chair that performs unrequested cat related miracles, knowing that one day he will be reborn without the taint that brought him to his death. Yerda's convinced he'll remember himself when he sits in the chair.

All she has to do is outlive the assassins the Bast of Parallel VI is always sending her way. If only her work with Count Morgenstein left her enough time to hunt down the parallel walker bringing them here...

At this point, you might think to ask how she can be sure of her true love's return, seeing as the Knife has only produced three successful reincarnations in the over thirty thousand times it's been used.

She'll smile, mischievously, and answer that she just knows, that she feels it in her bones.

__________________

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Item: Knife of Return

(thanks to Jem for coining "wheelwalkers"!)

The Seven Silverback Shadows are old hands at parallel walking, simians who echo the beauty of heart possessed by the those guardinals, the priminals, who have yet to be encountered on any parallel. Yet it is but an echo, for the Seven are not angels but a hand, a claw, that would use the gift to scrape away the evil they witness across the Wheels.

Long ago, the Shadows realized that wheel walking could tip the scales, could undo the stalemate between Good and Evil found across the myriad iterations of the Multiverse. By seeking out Good people with the gift and eliminating Evil ones, they should, conceivably, force the entire Metaverse to tip towards the side of the angels.

Years passed, and the Seven found many Gifted who were Good and killed off many who were Evil. They trained those who were neutral and thus not fully corrupted and those who were teetering of the edge of the cliff, teaching them alongside the Good in the hopes of helping the tainted find their better natures. Oftentimes this worked, and these once wayward students fight the good fight to this day.

However, oftentimes it didn't work. It might seem that someone had turned a new leaf, had pulled themselves back from the brink, but years would pass and whatever had weighed their souls would drag them into the pitch and the tar of the Dark. Others would have hearts brimming over with Light when first encountered, but some mind-hammering horror or accumulation of bitter tides would corrupt them.

These ones, the Shadows hunted as correction, as means of redress to the victims for it was they who had given these persons the training the Gift requires. The Shadows found themselves unable to simply kill off those who might fall, yet at the same time they knew that without hope in salvation for the corrupted the Good had little meaning. It just seemed wrong to murder those who might be saved.

Over time, they imprisoned some emergent walkers who were Evil but held some glimmer of light in their souls, trying to understand the heart of darkness in the hopes of understanding the means in which the seed of the Good might grow. Yet there were too many dark forces in the Metaverse, too many beings like Karagoth and Laquera who used the Gift to dominate those who lacked it. There simply wasn't time to cure the deeply infected.

And so the Seven made the Knife of Return, a stubby weapon with blade of copper that was barely suited for the kitchen let alone the battlefield. Thankfully then, its place was in the sanctum of the magi, at the alter of the high priestress, in the grove of the hierophant. The Knife of Return kills someone but offers a reincarnation of that person that will return someday. The Shadows hope that parallel walkers killed in this manner return the light of their souls without the conditioning of their pasts that led them to Evil.

For all their violent judgements, the very creation of the Knife is a gesture of faith on the part of the Shadows: That Good is the natural state, or at least the one that carries over across the cycle of life and death, that virtue is the diamond immune to the grinding stone that is reincarnation.

The Seven are careful to not overuse the Knife and only do so on two groups - those who were once counted as Good when first trained, or those who truly might have been risen if not for the caprice of circumstance. The Seven only use the Knife on parallel walkers but permit their followers and on rare occasions their allies to make use of it as well. Many walkers in service to the Seven do cut throats with the Knife of Return, a gesture of hope despite its dubious reputation.

Though none of those cut with the Knife have had definitively had their souls absorbed into a plane or thrust into oblivion, some of these victims have yet to return despite the passage of centuries.

There are, at present, three instances in which the blade has proven successful. One is the former tiefling Mandroth now the druid Keradine, who in her past life was a fiend-blooded male who felt compelled to participate in the senseless torture of animals. Now Keradine is a wheelwalker who utilizes her Gift to preserve endangered species and find refuges for animals without homes or who "belong" to owners who don't deserve their pets' unconditional love. Kerdaine knows who she was in her prior life, but this only invigorates her desire to transcend her former identity.

The second is the former aasimar Indati now mineral genasi Wrza, whose need for vengeance against the fiends who tortured her daugther led to the sinking of a continent. Unlike Keradine, Wrza as yet has displayed no signs of the Gift and remains in her parallel of birth. The Seven continue to watch the teenage girl who dreams of her past life as the sha'ir Indati.

The last is the former walker Layesha, a centaur paladin who was drawn, through centuries of brainwashing via lives lived in reality boxes, into the mad world spanning games of Karagoth and stood at his side as a former Scorpion Bride.

The Seven refuse to comment on who Layesha is now, or even if she can parallel walk. Those who have attempted divinations, in the hopes of forcing Layesha to recall her past life and then stand trial for it, have met with little success - though it was their work that revealed she'd successfully reincarnated somewhere in the Metaverse. The Seven, to hearten their own ranks regarding the efficacy of the Knife, finally admitted the return was in fact genuine but said nothing else. Rumor, however, has it that Layesha's new life is connected to the Medallion of Time and Place...

=-=-=

This item parallels another one I brought up for discussion, the Sword of Scars: /blog/sciborg2/the-sword-scars

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Laquera, She who Sees and Seizes the Self

"And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out..."

- Mark 9:47

Laquera is the Eye of Ra, the Gift to Mimir. Laquera is the Hand of Tyr, the Sacrifice of Nuada.

This is what the bard-wraiths bound to her Tower of Selves sing to those imprisoned within this needle of stone, a raised fortress punching out of the crust of an ice wracked Toril. The Tower's windows seeping out green swamp fire flames - this is the only light in the circle of this dead world. This Toril is bereft of all but the living in the Tower, for eons ago Dendar the Night Serpent rose up and swallowed its Sun.

Within the Tower one finds the incorporeal guards - spectres whose visages can stop the heart of the most stalwart warriors - and over a hundred women who bear nigh congruent true names to their hostess Laquera. All of these humans have the same raven hair, the same pug nose, the same cornflower blue eyes. Each one, if they could be brought to smile, would be able to bring a candle's light to even this dark place with their grins. There are, of course, differences in age, deviations in height, discrepancies in musculature - but all this variance pales before the glaring traits that they share:

Every single prisoner has the eye and hand of a corpse. Every single prisoner ends up with less of a mind than a cow shepherded to the slaughterhouse.

=-=-=

Laquera is a mistress initiated into the Shadow Mysteries who strides across the Wheels of the Metaverse, collecting Eyes and Hands of Vecna.

It is unknown when Laquera first replaced her own eye and hand, and when she first realized she could walk across Wheels. At some point she must have concluded that to bear the artifacts of Vecna was to become a slave to the god of dark secrets. Later, after re-maiming herself, she must have realized that she'd become dependent of the feeling of the Hand and Eye, that she was addicted to the connection between herself and a higher power in such an intimate fashion.

If Laquera did not possess the Gift as well as an understanding of the Positive and Negative Materials finding their conjunction in Shadow, her story might have ended with either her death or her body being used as a vessel for the lich god. Instead Laquera crossed the Wheels, seeking out a means in which she might once more taste the presence of the god she feared yet longed for. She sought out teachers, ruins, artifacts of other gods. Because of all the gifts that fortune had seen fit to bestow upon her, Laquera found triumph where others most certainly would have fallen into tragedy.

Utilizing a magic that mirrors the Wells of Karagoth - in truth a magic these two lunatics discovered together - Laquera can draw on the power of the relics of Vecna so long as her parallel selves bear the Hand and Eye from their Wheel of origin. Somehow her connection to the Tower and the Shadow Mysteries counteracts the influence of the lich god's many parallel selves while still allowing his power to flow through those forced bear the burden of his relics into Laquera's body.

Laquera delights in befriending and ultimately betraying her parallel selves, a bizarre affliction that even her myriad umbral and undead minions find troubling. She is cognizant enough that she is playing a dangerous game with one of the most cunning beings in all the reflections, but she is also rather confident of her own prowess. After all, she has managed to elude him thus far...though she has also made more of his parallel selves aware of the Metaverse and she does fear they might start working together to retrieve the Hands and Eyes taken from their Wheels.

Laquera does not worship Mellifleur in any Multiverse, but she oftentimes allies with him since both he and Vecna are regarded as the divinity of liches and are therefore rivals. She will also aid those who seek to harm Vecna, but only if she is confident that have little ability to do more than provide distraction. While she does love her communion with the Master of the Spider Throne, she recognizes that their relationship is a dangerous one and one in which she is, for all her gifts, the one who is not a god.

Beyond her addiction to Vecna's relics, and the hunting of Hands and Eyes and Selves through the Wheels, Laquera delights in manipulating what goes on in the Metaverse's parallel Planes of Shadow, and at minimum seeks to rule a planar metropolis in each version she encounters. She also believes that examining the Shadow's reflections will take her deeper into the Mysteries, and heads cults across the Metaverse to train up new servants. She is, in fact, an excellent instructor, the proof of her expertise being the eye and hand of shadow she has crafted to replace the parts of her body she long ago lost to youthful folly.

Though many parallel walkers see her as an addict doomed to be caught and eternally tormented by a Vecna, some suspect that Laquera does have an endgame in mind, one that relates to the Undying King's attempt in several parallels to enter the City of Doors...

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sciborg2's picture
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: Architect Nanji Ogovar

"I could seal myself in a nutshell, and consider myself lord of infinite time and space..."

-Shakespeare, Hamlet

Nanji is in the Red Lacquer Box, a cherry lacquered wooden icebox that holds a fictional reality of her own creation. Within the Box, tieflings will not be judged by their parentage and will be given the necessary care and consideration to help them escape the whispers in their blood and thus achieve their great destinies.

The celestials in the Red Lacquer Box have eliminated the fiends and now seek out tieflings. The struggle that dominates the reality is that between civilization, nature, and the Blight. While civilization and nature can be opposed often enough, the Blight is the common enemy that ensures the representations of the former two forces will ultimately work together. The only priests in this faux-reality are druids dedicated to Industry, Nature, or the Blight.

Civilization as Industry is incarnated in the forms of tinker gnomes, dwarves, halflings, jinn, and humans. Nature's avatars are elves, lizard folk, hybrids (centaurs, satyrs, sphixes, etc), elementals, and fey. The Blight corrupts the other two sides into beings such as lycanthropes, undead, nuckalavee, oozes, and aberrations.

The world Nanji has created contains ruins of the fiendish empires whose lost magic is the key to fighting back against the Blight, and all that is required are those incorruptible tieflings who have enough goodness in their hearts to wield the dark artifacts of their ancestors while resisting Evil's temptation.

Sadly, there are no tieflings on this world, though there are aasimars who are usually vain and unworthy of their celestial parentage. No one here has even seen the mythical beings, and instead are adamant that fiends cannot breed with any beings but their own kind and, for some reason, the yugoloths. Deviloths and Demonoloths are not uncommon servitors to mages and Blight priests.

Additionally, no one inside knows where Nanji might be though they say the name always sounds familiar, something recalled from childhood, perhaps from a lullaby.

And no one outside can catch the Red Lacquer Box which seems to have its own agenda and its own ability to traverse parallel Wheels.

=-=-=

Nanji Ogovar is a human Architect of Infinity who sought to make a world where tieflings were destined to heroes and ultimately gods. With this in mind, she spent much time on outside of the Prisoner's door, not questioning why the Crossroads House might allow her to so easily find the Room. The Prisoner divulged more information to Nanji than any other Architect about the creation of an infinite place, yet not enough to be genuinely successful. Those with a sense of stage-work and fractals can see the repetition present in the farther reaches of the cosmology. There is also only one Prime Material Plane.

What Nanji did achieve was a place that has the potential to be infinite so long as it finds a reality to overwrite. This is what the Red Lacquer Box seeks, and it can manipulate the thoughts and desires of those around it to help it find an embryonic Wheel (if such a thing exists) it can properly bind itself to. At that point the Lower Planes will become a dream realm where its past horrors are dim mirages, the gods will vanish, and all will await the coming of their tiefling saviors. Note that due to the lack of tieflings in the Red Lacquer Box the Blight is winning across all the worlds and planes within, and its servants are inheriting Evil from their visions of the now extinct fiends who preceded the devils, tanar'ri, and yugoloths.

One or more of the three forces will occasionally leak out of the Box, altering the environment around it. For example, the Box might unconsciously release a stampede of nuckavalee just as it jumps to another parallel. Or perhaps the monsoons over a grassland end up creating a titanic water elemental that begins to march menacingly toward the nearest city. Or maybe a trail of advanced firearms marks its path across a dessert.

The Box makes people love it and obsess over it, until they believe they are the ones destined to make it a truly infinite place in which they will be granted the status of a god. Strangely enough, the Box does feel regret for those it hurts, just not enough to stop it from achieving what it perceives to be its ordained goal. It also genuinely believes that it can turn those who enter into an embryonic Multiverse with it into gods, but it does know those who die along the way are lost and won't be meeting it there. Its network of cultists are ignorant of this fact.

Tiefling adults have entered the box, but as yet none have ever managed to achieve much beyond death at the hands of the prejudiced/horrified inhabitants. Perhaps children might fare better, if their guardians were willing to make the sacrifice. The Box does not care too much about what happens within it, so long as it can become a true Multiverse.

Why tieflings? No one is sure, though a thorough inquisition of the the Architects in the Crawling Warforged Spider-Castle in the Hinterlands of Parallel II will reveal that Nanji was pregnant at the time of her disappearance into her self-created fiction.

Questioning the Prisoner leads nowhere, save for a warning that anyone expecting really shouldn't go inside the Red Lacquer Box...

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Jem
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Parallel XXIV: Spheres within spheres

The city of Sigil turns within the outer shell of its torus, producing gravity underneath the glassed-in arc above. The Spire, the cables of the space elevator that connects it to the Prime below and the Outer Realms above, sparkle in the light of the distant divine realms.

The Prime Material is the inner surface of a Dyson sphere, the Great Shell, with room enough for worlds of humanoid civilizations to grow and develop. The systems that keep its ecology in rough balance, embedded in the maze of wires and pipes that define the boundary between man's world and the afterlife, were designed at the moment of Creation and have survived since. Within the darkness of the service tunnels, amid shafts of light piercing from within, they are maintained by the rilmani -- who must be incomprehensibly vast in number -- without fear or favor to any of the races of the world, without any regard for the virtue or vice to which the fruits of their labors are put.

Within the sphere, the heart of elemental Fire burns at the center of the universe, lighting the world of men. The genies of Air and Water absorb its light in floating oceans of cloud and sea, causing night to pass over the world regularly. They exhaust excess energy in lightning to the great Towers that keep the Shell fueled. Elemental Earth lies over the inner surface of the Shell like a skin, giving the world fertility and stability. It is also a haven for those races that brood in the dark but require sustenance that cannot be found within the latticework of the Shell far below.

An excursion through the Shell is a dangerous trip only to be undertaken by the greatest of mortal heroes or the spirits of the dead, for the raw energies coursing through here, driving machines the size of planets, were not designed for men to wander through safely. At the end of the trip, the film that seals in the atmosphere must be breached, only to be hurriedly sealed again by the rilmani, and the traveler had better be prepared to breathe on the other side.

The safest place to go here is the base of the Spire, the port of a space elevator on the celestial north pole of the Shell. Here the rilmani have their cities, and passage can be taken to Sigil, the halfway point between the world of men and the worlds of the afterlife. Spelljammers ply the vacuum here, taking passengers from one port-door to another in swift trips that can take someone from one nation of men to one so different as to be another world. Keep a watchful eye out for Shell-sharks lazing in magnetic eddies awaiting prey, or schools of void-fish that will consume a jammer's magic and leave its crew gasping in space. There are reasons that swathes of the Shell yet lack reliable maps.

For those who want to move past the Halfway City, if one lacks one's own transport, passage might be booked with the innumerable psychopomps who traverse the Spire continually ferrying souls: Charon's ferrymen, valkyries, ravens, and more. The Stream of Souls is constantly visible along Sigil's axis. All pass through here, it seems, though here the trips diverge.

Eighteen outer planes (not counting the Shell, wherein true neutral petitioners are found) are arranged on three axes here. Stand with your head beneath Mechanus, where the gears turn the infinite cables and run communications in a language known only to the inevitables down to the world. Feel the sea of Limbo far below your feet, lapping at the other wide of the world. Stretch your left hand out to Hades, the sinister pole of Evil, where three discs are visible within their haze, and give your right to Elysium, where three lands shine distantly under an even further starlit ocean at the pole of Good. Before you, then, lies the Active pole of the Dynamic axis, contrasting with the Static pole behind you.

Here Baator lists above the Shell, halfway between the poles of Law and Evil, mirrored above the world by Mount Celestia on the other side. Between Evil and Chaos lies the Abyss, reaching down into the soup of Limbo as well. Between Good and Chaos is the twilight realm of Arborea, where the fey and eladrin, the elven dead and the others beloved of their powers, dwell in shifting shadows and light.

Gehenna is Active in the service of Evil, while Carceri keeps its evil prisoners gripped in the unyielding clutches of a Static plane. Bytopia, world of labor, favors activity in the service of Good, while Eden rejects progress in favor of preserving the wild natural splendor that was once and, with hope and luck, could perhaps be again. To all of these planes, law and chaos are secondary concerns.

The plane Active of Mechanus is Acheron, which sends forth paladins of orders both noble and tyrannous, when they are not clashing in great wars of ideology in their own realms. Active of Limbo is Pandemonium, where madness reigns, and the winds whisper, though as often they whisper of inspiration as terror. Passive of Limbo is Ysgard, grim ice-locked realm of noble warriors -- pillagers, some might say -- with doom foretold as the reward for bravery. Good and evil are decided here by the sword, not by philosophy. Directly above it is Arcadia, locked still in pristine order, its gardens carefully cultivated, its orchards strait, its paths smooth, and its people rigorous. It is beautiful in its way, if stern and stiff.

And at the poles of the Dynamic axis? The Active pole, from outside, seems to be a dimensionless point of Yang, which throws forth a constant stream of energies, elements, and new souls to populate the Universe. The Believers of the Source, as well as many Prime religions, are certain that within this place exists the Creator, awaiting oneness with the souls in Creation. Perfect stillness is the ideal of those souls who seek Nirvana, where all struggle is foregone and all desire forsaken. They dwell inside a formless, placeless place somewhere in the black point of Yin, which here is not fear and pain -- those are the traits of the undead, who, they say, are so unfortunately entangled in the world that they cannot even escape it in death -- but a soft, all-embracing darkness that absorbs the steady flow of everything that rushes toward it.

And what lies beyond? Few can say... though nearly every god and pantheon in this Wheel claims to be defending mortal existence against untold horrors beyond the Outer Sphere.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Wow. My head's spinning at this reality...incredible. I would love to have a picture if you could provide one, as I am not sure how the transition between Shell->Sigil->Outer works.

Do you see this as a tech-magic blend with Star Wars type technology or more an Eberron magi-tech type place, or something else entirely?

Not familiar with the term "Active" as used here. Also, what are the three axes -> Good-Evil, Static-Dynamic, Yin-Yang?

Thanks!

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Jem
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

There is Shell, with the Prime on its inside. You must go through it somehow to get to the Outer, which surround it much like medieval Catholic cosmology had Heaven and Hell surrounding the sphere of the fixed stars. In most places, if you get just outside the Shell, you'll be in vacuum which is plied by spelljammers. There is, however, a region at the North Pole where there are buildings outside the Shell. This is where the rilmani have built a city where you can catch transport up the cables of a long elevator to the city of Sigil. The other end of this elevator is anchored in Mechanus.

Yin and Yang are the names of the planes at the poles of the Dynamic axis, whose directions are Static and Active. Other worlds would call them the Positive and Negative Energy Planes. A plane is positioned on this axis depending on how energetically it pursues its philosophy. A philosophy of perfect rejection of desire and struggle is on the most Static end; this is Buddhist Nirvana. Planes near the Active end get more and more hyper; perhaps this universe' single Overpower has a realm there called the Primum Mobile, where theoretically all activity in the Universe arises. Neither should be normally accessible to any but epic characters.

I'll draw up a diagram and post it.

Jem
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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

The Sphere of the Inner World is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Da_A0BNtDHHKu0qJBI1ijyXukI1MMJzazmM9... .

The Sphere of the Outer Planes is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lr8tuNh-eCTxEwlYoTxDnhlqNAUb5cLL1wHX... .

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Jem, thanks for the pictures - I love this cosmology. Does remind me of certain Buddhist mandalas I've seen while evoking a tech flavor. Great stuff.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Breaking lurk to simply say how much I'm enjoying this thread - every post has been so wonderfully imaginative and beautifully crafted. And I'll admit that I love the idea of a framework where the snooty planars are basically total yokels ("the idiot lantern archons" had me laughing out loud).

I've been daydreaming lately of Palimpsest, from Catherynne Valente's novel of the same name, as another incarnation of Sigil - an exotic city that primes visit in their dreams, so seductive that most visitors will devote their prime material lives to attempting to relocate there permanently. (The mechanics of how this works in the book - which I won't give away here - might make for a pretty great adventure.) The city's connective role in the multiverse could be fulfilled not by portals but instead by its unpredictable public transit system.

More on this, or something else, soon.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

heh, actually that was based on the low intelligence of lantern archons. I was thinking of them as sadistic children in the Gilded Darkness, the parallel where angels are evil.

however, I did use the term "Meta-Clueless" when I first mentioned the Keeper of the Medallion in the daily planar thread...

love love love Palimpsest! Started recently, and it truly is one of the greatest trans-dimensional metropoli I've ever come across!

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Flora: Rooted Blossoms

Traversing parallels alters one down to their very being. Entering a reality where the elemental forces differ from those of your home, where Good or Evil might serve as the greater keystone - these variances begin to shift the foundations of your very soul.

As time passes, it might become difficult to travel to some parallels because you spent so long in others (note this makes travel to certain similar parallels easier). Depending on the Wheels in question, it might become harder and harder to return home. Preventing your being's aversion to its Wheel of origin, or any other Wheel you wish to enter safely, falls to the magic of the Rooted Blossoms.

These blossoms grow on a certain type of stubby tree with flaky bark colored in the way of dark and pebbly mustard. Clashing with the tree are its flowers, beautiful thick petal specimens with bright hues of rust dusted with silver. Even touching a flower allows one to hear the bass thrumming echoing out from beneath their sternum. To touch petal to naked flesh is to dream about the Wheel in which they were grown for days. To touch petal to open wound is to dream of such things even while one is awake.

Sometimes Rooted Blossoms are used to poison weapons. Practical jokers grow it in the Gilded Darkness of Parallel X and feed it to unaware aasimars.

While the efficacy of the blossoms is clear, the exact method of use varies. The trees must be grown in the parallel you wish to (re)acclimate yourself to, but beyond that their use depends on that same Wheel as well as the current state of your being.

Most walkers seek out the services of the Atlas, where there are alchemists, oneiric sherpas, sweat lodgers, pact binders, choreomancers, witches, and - if you have the owner's favor - High Sympathists who might be able to aid in your self-transubstantiation.

Take note that bodily fluids and days of meditation are almost always involved in some way, as are either fasting or tattoos.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Cursed double post. Ah well, here's some more words from Bakker:

Each night he literally relived the No God's dread awakening, he *actually heard* the mothers wail over their stillborn sons.

Absurdly, this made her think of his dead mule, Daybreak. She had never
understood, not truly, how much weight that name must have possessed for
him.

Such poignant hope.

"You are my morning, Esmi...my dawn light."

What could it mean? For a man who lived and relived the ruin of all, what
could it mean to awaken to her touch, to her face? Where had he found the
courage? The trust?

I was his morning.
--The ThousandFold Thought, R Scott Bakker

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Digressions on Parallel Walking

"I was on the verge of madness when I found myself in a Sigil flooded with kites. Accidentally slid myself over to Wei La in Parallel II. It was raining, I got mugged and soaked before I could guess at what'd just happened.

I was like a slave whose chains inexplicably snap off on the night the guards lose themselves to drink and fleshpots. I'm from Parallel XVIII, and not hearing those @#@$-ing voices - getting punched in the face was less than chill breeze in Summer Country for me. I was whooping with laughter even as my lips was split and both eyes were swelling shut. That's what drove off those knights of the cross-trade, the thought that I was some mad and dangerous thing...and I was.

Mad, that is.

Mad with joy, drunk on Freedom."
-Denethiel the Serene, sun elf, Swimmer in the Song who can finally hear the Music

=-=-=

All around Ethena was a world held by arcana from the edge of dissolution, buildings coaxed from clouds of ink. She stepped onto the soft, violet darkness with bare feet she wasn't worried in the slightest about staining - she had greater concerns that far exceeded the threat of tarnished soles. The blood on her hands, after all, would never wash away no matter how much they resembled pristine alabaster just harvested from the fields of Elemental Mineral.

She looks up shamefully at the pair of cow-sized octopi and their sea-elf shepherds on the roof of her destination, ejecting fresh ink to be crafted by the elves, shaped into leering gargoyles looking down on those who would enter the demense of her dealer.

Must there always be witnesses?

The sooner she is able to get what she wants, the sooner she can leave. She reminds herself that, but for the Lady of Pain, she could level this district. She also knows Her Serenity will not begrudge the LeShay for killing the gilled dwarf who owns this dark miasma of a mansion. Despite the raw power that thrums in her bones, it always feels like it is he, and not her, that commands these encounters.

It is because of her need. He dares not refuse her, but then why would he ever want to? He knows she stretches her chin over the noose of the drug, and that for all her desperation she has too much pride to steal the source of her degradation.

She knows her now fictional daughter and husband would neither approve nor understand. But this is the only way to feel close to them despite their erasure, to think of their disapproval as more than an echo of a fast fading dream. Nothing else but the contents of those vials, a distillation of chronal flora, helps her fall into memory, helps her believe, if but for a few hours, that she is in a past where her race has a future.

=-=-=

"The Wheel with the job was Parallel XXII - you know, the one where Sigil was a web. A web that pierces space and time, gives the whole place a disturbing shimmer. And everything seems so delicate, a city of clockwork bugs hanging by gossamer woven onto branches of the World Tree.

I barely looked out the windows, stayed in the rooms of the house. Yeah, we were guests in a clockwork scarab. A woman named Yarda - Yeara - Yer- something was our host. Had a chair made of bone, she put two dead cats on the seat at the same time and one came back to life.

Weird? Oh yeah. But much more quotiad - quotedi - normal accommodations than the Count usually provides for his assassins, I'll tell you that much.

We weren't the only guests though, two more who had the heft of a crowd. Real baroque types - kind that stands out too much. A half-elven woman with short grey-silver bangs and wrinkle framed eyes of coal reclined on a plush equine-hide couch draped in elk furs. She had varicose veins running over the cords of her muscles, dark grey vessels pushing hard against spotted skin thinned with age. Whatever ran through them, it wasn't the blood she'd been born with.

For all her hardness, she was the archetype of the grandmother with a human child in her lap, lovingly reading out the words to this parallel's version of 'The Rager who Overreached'. What? Oh in this wheel he gets killed by a tarrasque instead of a time dragon. Our hostess introduced the woman as Elba, and said something that I think was a joke about that old cutter being a Princess. I didn't bow, and Elba grunted in greeting and didn't look up.

Two days from then her left hook would end up saving my life. Tough as sun cured meat, that one is.

Now the child - a girl, she had only one hand and one eye, but that Elba she might as well as have been blind for all the consequence she gave to the girl's deformities..."
-Hetamon the Untetherer, assassin bound to the House of Morgenstein

=-=-=
The wheel walking elan watches the horse that carries the man on its back to promised death and freely offered Redemption.

But then the knight stops his charge against fated Judgement, pausing at the sudden appearance of the elven women robed in simple sheets of white, their only accessories the platinum amulets hung from chains of mithril. Though the symbol of Paladine dangled from their necks, the Retkonur knows they have come to this place with fell purpose scraping hungrily on the other side of their fair skinned bosoms.

Oloniqu spies them in the eye of the mind, those beautiful maidens cooing doubt and suspicion with voices of angels. They spoke as trusted sisters strong in shared faith while in their chests beat the shriveled hearts of crones. Because he is strong in the Unseen Way, strong enough to purchase youth eternal, the elan can hear the knight's thoughts, can see them curl, dry, and fall from spring's green to the hues of autumn. He can feel the curse birthing anger, a white hot ingot of molten metal burning all reason to choking ash.

With grave disappointment he watches the man turn his horse.

Yet this time Oloniqu steps out, emerald eyes shut, one hand on his brow the other with palm out and fingers splayed. Time-tinged light ripples across that outreaching hand, a white-gold that defies the red dark of dusk, light of Life that pierces the future self the man rides hard to meet.

With a half-blurted cry of pain the man who thinks himself a cuckold reins in the gallop of his horse. Clenched teeth prevent another cowardly outburst. He draws his sword, slowly, unsure of the red headed once-man who bars his path. The knight's armor bears roses of metal now limned with the glow of the Retkonur's hand. The rider feels as if at any moment that light will slough the flesh off his bones, that muscle will fall in the way of over boiled meat.

The rider, a learned Knight of Solamnia, knows that the light from the pale once-man's hand is that which pierces the dead and bolsters the living.

Suddenly the words of the elven harridans softens away from iron certainty. Something within the knight twists, and the metal teeth of his rage unclench. The man blinks in the way of those continuously usurped by their inner stranger.

"Lord Soth", the elan calls out behind the stinging daylight of his palm. The figure pauses behind the veil of brightness, a knife on a cheek pondering the inedible, then speaks again. There is bruised hope in the voice of the Retkonur, a once-man who is a withered Fatebreaker behind the ivory cream skin pinned against youth that ripened and fell long ago.

"You ride to folly mi'lord. Folly that will break your world and whose echo will break the world entire..."

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

Personality: G'chan, Grand Alchemist in the service to the Atlas

"My days are busy, and so I decide I'll train the food-taster and the sous-chef together, which is why we all give a drop of blood to the Black Jade Box. Our blood runs across prepared channels on the device, filigree of gold set into something the size of a pixie's fist.

A flash of crimson light and we are in a room of argent walls. Bright flowers grow on indoor trellises, illuminating the cubic expanse.

I start them off with finger foods from Parallel XIX: A doughnut of Mechanus compelling Order, dipped into milk taken from the Beastlands. This transforms one into an animal like an ant or a bee. It makes one attentive toward the Supreme Authority - in this little universe that would be me.

Then there are the crackers from Bytopia, now they will work hard to absorb my lessons. Lessons which begin with informing them of what they have just eaten.

I take them through the preparations of tarts imparting Abyssal lust, ice holding the competitive spirit of Ysgard, and cubes of ham which hold the essence of Gehenna's avarice, both dusted with spices from Arcadia and Celestia to keep catered events from getting out of hand. Jessa just likes to ensure that certain ignorant guests expend their energies on the unattainable beauties that wander the Atlas's hallways, guests that might otherwise be wreaking havoc across the Multiverses.

Of course the food-taster must learn to recognize all the above, as well as the dangerous insanity sugars of Limbo, the Hellish liquors that poison one with a need for control, even the passion fruits of Aborea. The foods of Parallel XIX are among the commonest of poisons. Mistress Jessa would not have her guests harmed, and she knows that many fanatics seek to recruit members of her staff. Sometimes even the threat of the Furies is not enough to stay one's dedication to a god or a faction.

The effects can last for minutes or maybe weeks or maybe years, save in the Black Jade Box all magic obeys the bearer of its accompanying ring. The ring that currently sits on my finger. This is why I don't mind that the sous-chef is a cornugon risen to Law, that the food-taster is a sentient digester...

Yes, I once made the mistake of coming in here with a wilder assassin. Flattered by the attention, but I'd rather not weep blood ever again."

=-=-=

"They call him G'Chan, and tell me is the finest that the Atlas has to offer. He is a portly man, dark skinned like the Tuigans of many Torils though he lacks their well toned and worthy physiques. His hair is cut close, as is the way of professional alchemists - this is good. I dislike his easy manner, and the presence of such confidence in one so nonathletic unnerves me.

Who is this man to love himself so? Who has he killed?

Still, I need the man to return to my home and take revenge on my family. He is a tool among the many I am forced to employ.

Through a lightless hallway G'Chan brings me into a room whose every inch has become a canvas for sculptors, the black stone carved into histories of a race I have never seen before. Clearly they are walking through Wheels, but there are armies of them. Their faces are held high, serene, untroubled as they shift the song of their beings from Multiverse to Multiverse. I will ask of this room, but not to the fat man beside me. I will ask Jessa, my equal, about what my eyes bear witness to.

G'Chan takes out a vial from his thick ochre robes, and only now do I see the gold embroidering on his clothes matches that of this room. Save across his corpulent frame the same people - lupine yet scaled - are all dying with eyes poached by their own claws.

What man celebrates deaths not won by his own hand?

He unstoppers the vial and pours out a mercurial metal that fashions itself into the shape of an argent bowl on a silver table, tendrils reaching out from both, liquid tentacles swaying in a wind I did not feel.

The "Grand" Alchemist removed a flower from his graveyard robes, a ghost-flowered one from Parallel VI crackling with sentient electrics. The cold iron thorns flex along the pitch stem and I see that are tipped with his blood. All this time they were scraping his flesh - we ate a rose quartz salted meal of preparation that lasted two hours!

The Grand Alchemist places the vampiric flora into the bowl and bids me to step close and press my hand against those same thorns. I cannot be less of a man than one who knows nothing of war, and so I gently lay my palm against the rose's length. I feel the thorns pierce my callused skin and bite my tongue as I fall to my knees. Lightning circuits through my bones. The tendrils of the bowl hold my arm in place against the thorns.

My eyes have shut, my mind unsuccessfully seeking to leave all this agony behind by feeling into daydreams. I believe I am screaming my throat raw, but must confess to a sense of detachment as when a warrior is taken by the aroma of freed blood perfectly spiced by the scent offered by the loosened bowels of the freshly fallen.

G'chan pries open my mouth with a firm grip on my jawbone, and the petal of a Rooted Blossom falls into my mouth. It melts on my tongue and tastes like home.

Home is a place where the World Tree is a banyan that overruns the petty squabbles of the exemplars, where the wild of its branches keep honest folk from playing in the planars petty games of morality. Home is a place where Bifrost splits into countless tributaries arcing across the lands of the gods and the cities built from the brick of ideals.

The ecstasy on my tongue runs with the pain of the lightning, and I know that every lover will be but an echo to this present sensation.

The silver tendrils bend my head back. G'Chan's firm hand opens my eyelids. Petals are pushed against my irises, and the melting flowers of home run down the sides of my face.

I swear my eyes must be ash, such is the burning. For the first time I wonder if Loki's punishment at the fangs of Skaði's serpent might be too harsh a sentence for his crimes...

Memories of that first kill surface. Mockery at my weeping. I remember more of home than I ever wanted to, so much that I am not sure I want to return.

I sense G'Chan smiling cruelly me, but through the liquid of the flower and mine own years I see his eyes hold a hint of genuine sympathy. This is, I realize, a man who knows much about murder and guilt."

=-=-=

"G'Chan is my husband just as I am his wife. More than that, he is my Rememberer. He keeps memories in the vast cabinets of his mind, little treasures he uses to perform magic on the days of my or our children's birthdays.

So many things I forget until he calls back the first kiss, the wondrous Wheel-spanning shooting star I spied twenty years before we ever met. Favorite songs and how to make an origami crane. That Zhinu loved unicorns before she loved pegasi. That Zhurong was once, a long time ago, afraid of bees because one stung him as a toddler.

For me memory is in magic, the holding of Jessa's required abjurations in my mind. For him, memory is the Water of Time, a warm amniotic ocean that enfolds all those my husband has chosen to Love..."

=-=-=

Notes: The term Rememberer is from Prince Ombra, though in that book the rememberer is reincarnated to aid the Hero of the Borrowed Heart across lifetimes.

Beware the edited version, it ruins the story apparently.

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Re: Enumerating the Parallel Multiverses

"I've learned to accept the brevity of The Haberdasher's instructions for these errands across the parallels as a mark of his confidence in my abilities. On the other hand, I imagine I may never get used to the cryptic and sometimes ridiculous fashion in which he chooses to explain the peculiarities of my destinations. When a contract to visit a certain seer began "Dear Sweet Stuff," I worried that the mercane had misunderstood the nature of our relationship (and shuddered at the obvious problems of scale). I'd just expelled a stomach-full of sour drops all over the side of a gentle treant when I figured that one out. Apologies turning to cackles of laughter is one of my less proud moments.

Now what to make of 'LIAR, LIAR, PRIMUS ON FIRE!!!' attached as a postscript to a seemingly uneventful courier job?

I materialized in an alternate Elysium in a groggy fog, but sober enough to terrifyingly recognize that I was ensnared in something - thankfully I put off full-bore, spell-slinging panic long enough to realize that my assailants were maypole ribbons, of all things. (A half-stoned pixie tangled in a maypole? The gods of parallel walking are nothing if not occasionally racist jokesters.) It seemed I'd interrupted the frolicking of a quartet of animate wooden dolls, who squealed in dumb delight at my sudden appearance. Strange, but I've arrived to sights far stranger. Their directions to the City of the Star could not have been more helpful, though their demeanor was one of the more unnerving versions of cheerful that I've encountered.

In the city I quickly discovered that these constructs appeared to be its primary inhabitants. As a parade of dead-eyed marionettes wandered past, excitedly discussing the nature of kindness, I exchanged a glance with a passing ursinal. "Welcome to the bold new afterlife," he sighed, sourly. "Hurrah."

In Ysgard I was attacked by a gang of elaborately armored warriors, who frankly seemed just crazy. I kept checking over my shoulder for the several dozen frost giants that their welcome would have typically implied. I suppose I should not have been so surprised that they turned out to be armor through and through when I blew them apart.

I was happy to complete my business and leave that place, though when I mentioned the journey to my Gnomish friend Nebu Poddlebrok, proprietor of a museum of constructs, golems, and automata on Parallel II, he declared that we absolutely must organize a research expedition as soon as possible. Nebu cannot cross the parallels himself, but I hope I will be able to find a suitable traveling companion. Can anyone introduce me to that Count fellow? I've longed wanted to make his acquaintance, and he seems awfully wound up - perhaps we could find him a charming metal mrs. out there somewhere."

Olmina H'hhhhhhadrafax
Transdimensional Fixer

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