It’s broad daylight but there is no sun in the bright blue sky above our heads. I’m standing in an expansive desert with Jon, Amy and Quinn by my side. The absence of wind is curious, as is the comfortable climate and flawless flatness of the terrain. Vinnik and Biter are nowhere to be seen or heard which troubles no one.
We spot an oasis on the horizon and head towards it because that’s what you do when you see an oasis in the desert. The oasis knows this rule and promptly vanishes, much to our ambivalence.
I spot a figure in the distance, walking slowly in our direction. I fly towards it, scanning the horizon. It’s alone and, as I get closer, I realize it’s a naked zombie woman sporting a disturbingly large phallus. Unaware or uninterested in my presence, it shambles ever slowly towards my friends. I get closer and usher a single bolt of fire from my outstretched hand. My aim is true and the creature crumbles like a ruined tower.
Flying back toward my friends I hover above recounting my story, when my intuition (or is it Jon’s voice) tells me to turn around. Another zombie is hovering behind me. Another fiery volley rains the creature’s golden sparkling remains like a falling chandelier toward the sand below. My three companions are surrounded by a score of zombies. A frenzied battle erupts as all combatants are ushered forward by the silent sacred horn of Uros. My fires rain from above. Blades pierce and arrows fly below. These zombies are fast. Faster than the fastest humans. They burn and die, but not before infecting all, including me in the sky somehow. Quinn and Amy ask their dieties to restore us and the gods both begrudgingly comply, as if reaching for an apple that isn’t quite ripe. I’m struck with awe but dare not look full at the act.
I hunger but I just ate, served Mabel’s eggs and bacon. I kneel down to feel the sand beneath my supple leather boots but touch smoothly polished stone instead. Looking up, an underground passage surrounds us, lit as if day, and crafted by dwarven hands. The passage leads us to a great room full of squat warriors, sparring and cajoling. Two dwarves stand sentinel, greeting us with words we understand but can’t remember. In The dwarven kingdom we are, which has stood here for millennia, we are told. One of the dwarves is Abby so I embrace her in a passionate kiss. Then Abby is a dwarf, and I stumble back.
Once in the training hall we look around, ignoring and being ignored by the dwarves within. Finding eight doors leading into eight rooms, we search each in turn. We find two secret passages, or was it one, or four, and follow the narrow tunnel as it takes us up and down and around and I cant’t recall if I was walking of flying. Wheelbarrow dwarves greet us with wet meats, happily sharing their bounty. What is where they tell us but I don’t pay attention, and we carry on.
Vinnik, on my shoulder, also wants wet meats, while biter freshly wraps himself around Amy’s neck. I know the meats are up ahead and we push on. Many twists and turns later we enter an enormous throne room, large enough to house a city block, perhaps two. The ceiling is a mountain with a giant opaque dome, letting in the outside light. Two barn-sized hearths flank the great hall while twin tables as long as galleys split the room in three. A pair of ornate golden doors punctuate the far end of the room, tall enough for giants to proudly enter.
We have arrived in this room through a secret passage typically reserved for the king’s escape, so his majesty is none too pleased as he rises from his throne. His four surly guards walk toward us at a leisurely pace, their calmness making me jittery, along with my hunger. The king speaks to us politely as his guards get closer. I rise into the air, joining Vinnik who has been circling the expansive dome. Tension mounts unbearably since no one is taking action, then one of the golden doors swings open and a peculiar dwarven mage enters the room. He keeps his distance and his cowardice is palpable.
The mage raises stubby hands and reverses gravity but only for my good, good friends and I. They fall upward toward the dome. My Feather Fall slows them as Jon, Amy, and Quinn land gently in the opaque bowl. Gravity is reverted back and they float softly down toward the king and guards. I send bolts of fire at the mage and he doesn’t like it, escaping back through the golden doors.
The battle below seems well in hand. Jon darts and slashes as only he can. I’m mesmerized by his reflexes and murderous accuracy. Amy seems excessively reliant on her bow in close combat, when a sword might better serve. She is young and foolish, but visibly getting wiser at movement as she watches Jon. Quinn, with his piercing eyes, is holding his own, neither stepping on toes, nor hesitating. The others are empowered by his presence and direct approach. Vinnik circles above. Biter mingles with the dead bodies on the floor.
The wheyface mage has realized the importance of proximity, popping out of a nearby door several stories beneath me. He starts a conjuration using dust in the palm of his outstretched hand. I counter quickly, reflexively, causing him to ineffectually and embarrassingly blow the dust no further than his toes. I send a bolt his way, stunning him for a split second. “Amy,” I yell and point. She knows exactly what to do, knocking an arrow and loosing it deftly through the mage’s open mouth. He will cower no more.
The king is also dead as his last guard falls. I rise higher to survey the scene and a drink in a moment of silence.
“Ahem,” I hear an ominously familiar voice from behind. Though I give no hint of it, a small shudder runs up my arm and into my chest as I spin around. It is Alistaira hovering in the air, our faces inches apart.
Memories of our first battle come flooding back, the great air battle over Bastion. My inexperience at the time. Spell, counter, attack, defend. It was a beautiful deadly dance we did and I barely escaped the victor.
We dance again but not with magic for magic’s sake. We strengthen and affirm our position with both the natural world and subtle realms. Our sorcery combines the elements of a violent innerness, rituals of poetic speech, and a painful awareness of space and time and the hidden reality, far beyond the bounds of sanity. In turn, we articulate our supernatural forces upon one another, releasing hellish, unholy effects. I am so enthralled by the enchantment of battle the that I barely realize that she is now him. Salithius, The Perceptive.
He lays his fued upon me but I prove to be at least his equal. Directed by the eventuality of my victory, the light stands within me, the darkness, him. We fly and battle until his head is drenched with gore. My inner fire’s dismantling forces send his sorely injured remains tumbling. Death takes him away.
A moment of deafening silence diverts my calmness to my good friends below, watching me with glossy eyes. A groinal discomfort gives me sorrow.
Session Ends: 1136 – July 6 at 1pm In the woods of an unknown location on the Nordkapp continent.