Traveling via high speed Tram on rays of golden essence, the circle are on their way to The Lost City. Felsic determines that there are potentially other stations, that if “unlocked” could be accessed via the tram.
We soon see the lost city of Ming-Ye. It is carved from a sandstone mountain, built on a giant pillar axis. Each section of the city looks like a wedge, flat, rounded on the outside, each is the same size, staggered, on top of the other.
A sign we pass states that it is a “Convention & Resort City.”
We are flying towards the central third level. The two bottom layers are stacked and off to the side, overgrown with jungle. We can see the fourth level is stacked on top of the third, and the fifth level is ensconced in the mountain itself. We can see what appears to be thick vines growing from the fifth level down to the fourth, slithering through the third, and then getting lost at the bottom.
The 5th level, jammed into the stone by vegetation. The outer walls are decorated with intricate murals & mosaics. A beautiful woman is portrayed, the gateway is her bust, right below that are her arms outstretched & welcoming.
There are large holes in the boulevard, with hunting spiders making their way down. This is a standard First Age resort town.
We see a plaza labeled “information” and we head towards it. A statue of the same queen in the same pose as the mural is there. Beautiful woman of middle eastern, aquiline features, almond eyes. Hair worked into ornate spikes held in place by spiked clips. Revealing clothing, but classy. Still floating in front of her brow held by magic is the full crown sun of the zenith cast.
In the plaza we find Stained glass flower beds that look and feel like real flowers. There’s a holographic display table with flickering images and garbled audio recording. Felsic begins to press buttons.
We get bits and pieces of the history of the city. We see a slight but very attractive young man, next to queen. She has her hand on his shoulder. A stately aqualine man stands next to her, with canine intensity features. Ma-Ha Suchi is here in first age form. Hierophant is also here.
There is a map in mosaic on the wall. The wall has been overgrown by vines, not all that readable. It is a map of the Chiaran Protectorate. A Legend on the left reads – Regions of Chiaran – Ape, Bull, Lion, Scorpion, & Crocodile. The only ones that are still intact – Ape & Bull. Ape appears to be this mountainous region of the jungle, and the Bull region is the northern belt/heartland of Harbor Head.
Byrrden goes scouting ahead. He finds human corpses throughout the level, flowers sprouting from their bodies. It appears they died from the flowers bursting through them. He leaves them undisturbed and continues on.
Bastu approaches me, informing me that their transaction is complete. I thank him for his service.
Rose & Caemlyn stay behind, incase rebels decide to show up. Ivanki decides to come along with the rest of us.
Felsic attempts to fix the lift, hoping to get us access to the upper levels.
Byrrden runs into a pack of what look to be orangutans, half as large as normal ones, with scalpels for fingers! They skulk in the shadows, keeping an eye on his circle.
As Felsic pries open the door to the lift, revealing large vines within, the apes attack! The circle prepares for battle.
I am loathe to hurt any animal unless necessary. After dodging their attempts to get their paws on me, I walk into the middle of their pack, raise my arms, and let them know we mean them no harm, and we merely wish to pass by. They stop their attacks, skulk back into the shadows, but continue to watch us.
We climb up the vines, joined by Rose, and enter the convention floor area. “Healing arts and Sciences” was the convention in progress.
We investigate. Byrrden goes to the executive suits. He finds various meeting rooms and lounges, some with playback capabilities of the meetings held within. He finds a recording of the 10th Doctor, explaining their theory about the behavioral anomaly. They appear frustrated when the person they’re talking to doesn’t hear what they want to say. They walk out calmly, and The Doctor throws something at the door.
He finds a recording of Chiara & The Psychopomp. She appreciates his use of “The Art of Stone” to help bring about the prosperity of her empire. He seems very guarded of his secrets, and in fact is not enthusiastic about using them. As he says, “They belong to the dead, and the dead should be honored, and their arts should be allowed to rest. I am not in love with the dead. I am in love with keeping the dead in the land of the dead, and the living in the land of the living.”
Byrdn notes that there is no enmity in their conversation. In fact, he seems to view her as a big sister, or mother figure.
In another room, The Psychopomp meets with an exalt, a tall lean man with canine features, dressed as a desert nomad. His name is Tamuz, and he tells the Psychopomp he has concerns about the gateway he put up in the arts of the dead display. The Psychopomp says ”If we are going to use the arts of the dead, we have to understand what they entail.”
He explains the gateway is a DUAT and will allow the living and dead communicate directly, and the souls of the dead can be deposited directly into Lethe, and not potentially go into the underworld. A dying person can be placed in the gateway, where they will be suspended between life and death, will be judged, and then thrown into Lethe – any tethers they may develop do not come into play. They are simply shepherded off into Lethe without any chance of ghostification. The first hundred users need to be placed physically into the gate, but eventually they can be hundreds of yards away.
Theoretically a person can be held between life and death indefinitely, in rare cases where a person’s life can be saved, but time is of the essence.
Tamuz states his concerns. He doesn’t like that kind of meddling. He believes the underworld is part of Creation, and it will get its due some other way. His mate and he are concerned the Psychopomp is becoming obsessed with death, and they worry for him. The Psychopomp says, “You’re not my mother or father. You’re perhaps two centuries older then me. I know what I am doing. The dead are important and must be respected. The Void must be respected.”
Tamuz still has a look of concern, but leaves to go back to his work.
Back in the convention floor area, I stumble across an exhibition entitled “The Little Doctors.” These miraculous “little doctors” are actually flesh worms. These worms are first age sutures, and can be used to open up holes for surgery. They eat their way into you, painlessly, create a cross section so that doctors can get into hard to reach areas, and then they can seal off the wounds. Miraculous, if not a bit…creepy. I take note that “Attraction to open wounds have been noted to specimens who have not been fed.”
A more interesting display talks about surgical assistant primates. They seem to be the ancestors of the apes that originally attacked us. These trainable autobeasts (animals that if trained correctly can be fully sentient) are capable of precise and swift decisions. They are capable of being fully trained to memorize a great deal of medical information, and can provide emergency care to people in many situations.
Very interesting indeed. This intrigues me for some reason, and I spend some time learning about these wondrous creatures.
Byrrden reports back to Durandal. Durandal believes that this machine, The Gate of Duat, can help him remove the device that is blocking his access to his essence. They must get to the fifth level.
The vines are thicker up here, and impenetrable. Even Rose’s fire can’t break through. However, the others discover an exhibit talking about “eliminating harmful bodily flora.” Rose believes she can whip up a toxic brew, while Felsic creates a giant syringe in which to administer the toxin.
Rose sprays the toxin and the vines wither and shriek. Disturbing to say the least. Felsic, after spending time at a control console, is able to maneuver the fifth tier from the mountainside to our location. He turns on the lift, and we head up.
There is one exhibit on this floor “The Arts of the Five Part Soul.” Everything is in pristine condition. The gardens have somehow survived, perhaps because they are made of stain glass. The Gate of Duat is in a corner, while along the wall facing left is the Manse of Queen Kiara. The Gate of Duat is closed, guarded by two sphinxes.
Caemlyn, who has joined us by now, believes that “The Little Doctors” could help with the surgery, so I am sent out to catch a giant worm. Sigh.
As I do so, the sky overhead turns overcast. A cooling sensation circulates through the convention center. One by one, ghost lights blaze up on the flowery dead on the floors below. They pull themselves up and stand in their hundreds, on the 3rd and 4th tier.
The Psychopomp, chosen of the Eclipse, creator of the Gate of Duat, is here. The viceroy or Pharaoh of the Scorpion Region. Lord of Iren.
We continue to read the exhibition, while Caemlyn preps Durandal for the surgery. We learn that in the Great Obviation many things that were in Creation no longer are. Five parts of the soul were reduced in numbers. In theory, all living creatures have aspects of these five part, but the portions were subsumed into others. But the magic that fuels these different powers of the five fold souls still exist in the two part soul. One can harness parts of their soul to power the magic. It won’t be nearly as efficient though.
The exhibit showcases these magics, Amulets, Alchemy, Holy Texts (scrolls), Stone & Corpus (for the body). Each display shows examples of how these different things can be used, from the creation of magical amulets, to being able to inscribe benedictions of health, charms, sorcerous works, which are used later. It shows much more powerful Alchemy than human sorcerers can do.
Stone – a small amount of essence used on a console will allow anyone present to create a pathway to someplace down the mountain called “intake station 4” a piece is missing from it.
Corpus imbues the body, living or dead, with power (essentially the art of Necromancy). This can be used to heal the body, or control the dead. This magic was incredibly powerful, could be used by humans, but no longer. It’s possible the creation of the underworld creates a vacuum that sucks up the necessary energy.
“Less evil necromancy. Used to be usable by all, now only the Exalted.”
There is a smaller replica of the central prototype in Iren. Other prototypes in the protectorate of Kiera.
While we investigate the findings here, Byrrden goes uptop, so he can see what is happening below. He sees that The Walking Dead have formed a ladder that is four zombies wide bridge, from the outer edge of tier three to tier four. Standing on top of the wall by the zombie bridge is an armored figure in Egyptian style armor, with a sarcophagus mask and headdress, with a large…very large…daiklave, all made of soulsteel. He is covered with ragged desert robes and watches the zombies clamber up the ladder made up of their brothers.
Felsic discovers that a piece is missing from The Gate, so he and Byrrden go into the manse to find it. They find a piece that needs to be repaired, while Byrrden finds a holo play. They seem Tamuz sitting, looking dejected, stroking his cheek. “Kiara has been distant, more then usual. She leaves me to my own devices and does not meddle, which allows me to spend more time with Inghosh, and does not require my presence in the boudoir. That is fine by me. She is concerned for the Psychopomp, who is delving further into the arts of the dead. It has made him more distant from us and her circle. But she now spends more time in her garden and chiaroscuro. Even the slightest noise seems to disturb her now. But at least she is not like “little brother.” Obsessed with the ways of the dead, the worst silence yet. I am concerned for our continued endeavours if he retracts his support, but the five souls are only one way, other mages who can make this happen. I return to my work and my beloved ingosh.”
Byrrden & Felsic take the piece back the Gate.
Back at the gate, Caemlyn has lovingly disinfected Durandal. As soon as a cut is made, the Gateway itself spins around a full 180 degrees and then another 45, and then all the way around, and starts to slowly to open unto a black sky. The bleak sky of the underworld. She sets the worm around the mouth, starts to spiral its way in, bit by bit, all while he’s bleeding out.
“I’d do it all again. What are we without honor, just shadows” Durandal says, as he falls unconscious. I pray to The Unconquered Sun that those will not be his last words.
Felsic carries Durandal to the Gate. He leans him in there, feeling a burning chill that goes straight to his bones. As soon as he places Durandal in, he moves into a T-pose. Once he’s in the Gate fully, he stops bleeding.
Rose shoots at the zombies, who are making their way up to our level. The Deathlord summons the corpses of the rebels he took down, and commands them to unite. They fuse into a giant amorphous blob of the dead. The merged body of 200 corpses begin to wildly rampage through the show floor.
Lightbringer, we need you.