My Rétglainn Occulti Story

Cianaodh Óg - Earth circa 2016
Cianaodh Óg – Earth circa 2016

It had been a night like many others before. The members of my tribe were gathered around in the back yard around the fire pit, drumming, singing chants, chatting and just having a good time as usual. The aroma of the burning wood and the vibe of the tribe were always a place of peace and comfort for me. We had embarked on this path a few years before.

We felt that learning the ways of our ancestors and trying to honor them in a modern light was a key to bringing harmony and balance between ourselves and nature in a world which had grown far too detached from the natural cycle of life. But what happened this night changed my path forever. After we had all said our goodbyes I fell asleep in my bed but not long after I felt a tugging at my arm and a small voice beckoned me awake. “Hey! Get up! There’s something you need to see!”

Table of Contents

1 – What is this?

I couldn’t believe my eyes. What was this? A humanoid creature probably no more than three feet tall, brown skinned and covered in hair. By most standards, a very unattractive face as well. I must admit, I was startled at first but also intrigued. Was this a brùnaidh or as they are commonly known brownie? They usually don’t like to be seen but this one actually came to me, woke me up and didn’t mind being seen. I had long suspected we had one living in our home. Things would often be cleaned and organized from the night before although I had no recollection of doing them.

So, I would often leave out a bowl of milk, a saucer of cream, some pastries or honey as offerings to the wee folk as was the custom of the tribe. We learned that it is what our ancestors would do so, we too, chose to do it.

Most wouldn’t believe that near Dallas, Texas in the 21st century there were people practicing such rites from a place a third of a world away and a time centuries ago. But here we were, doing just that. What did he want me to see? I groggily stood up, wiped the sleep out of my eyes. I had just begun to doze off when he came. So, I followed him out the back door into the yard. He led me past the ritual area where the space was marked off with paver stones. Just the cheap, square, grey and pink concrete tiles that you find in most hardware and landscaping stores.

2 -Through The Portal I Go…

Over near the the back side of our above ground swimming pool I could see a faint bluish green glow. What the Hel is this? As I approached, it took on a wavy, water-like appearance. I could hear something beyond, or within. Was that singing? In spite of my better judgement, I leaned in to look closer and listen. Then, the little bugger pushed me! In I fall and the world starts spinning around behind me, all around me. I can feel myself moving and falling through some sort of tunnel and laughter echoing around me. I could hear the voice which had awakened me earlier shouting “I’m sorry my friend, but they made me do it!”

Afterwards, I hit the ground hard! Hard enough that I was sure my shoulder was dislocated or would at least have a nasty bruise. But, where was I? This wasn’t a familiar place to me. Not at all. It felt so… Out of place. Out of time even. I could see what looked like a castle made of stone up ahead so I followed the path towards it. Then I heard what sounded like a fast moving object whoosh past my right ear. What now?! I found cover behind a nearby grove of trees catching a glimpse of something from out of the movies. Was that a skeleton with a bow that was glowing purple light around it?

3 – Now What?

Dafuq is this?! Of course, I must be dreaming. After all, when I went to sleep I was completely skyclad. It was our practice to always hold our rituals skyclad in honor of the nature spirits and to better sense and channel the energies after all. Plus, I had been a lifelong nudist anyway so this was normal practice for me. But, now, I was wearing…what? It appeared to be a light blue tunic, some darker blue pants which could be considered similar to a pair of blue jeans and some sensible shoes. In any event, it wasn’t going to offer much protection against those arrows ol’ bonehead was sending my way out there.

I looked around. The castle entrance looked to be a short sprint away. Maybe I could make it. If not, well, it’s just a dream after all, right? But, why did my shoulder hurt so much? Surely, I could dream up something better than this! Ah well, better run for it I guess. Off, I go towards the well lit entrance where two guards stand watch. I hear them shouting something as I run towards them, they raise bows and aim right towards me. Oh well, I guess this is it. I’ll probably be waking up soon. thwap! thwap! Wait, they didn’t hit me? But I was right here.

4 – Tá gaeilgeoirí iad

Suddenly, I hear the clatter of …? Bones are hitting the ground behind me and the guards shout joyously. They smile and pat me on the back but I can barely make out what they are saying. I recognize the language though. It’s modern Irish Gaelic, or Gaeilge as it is called. OK, now that’s weird. I took up learning this language while studying with my tribe. But I am nowhere near fluent enough in it to converse with these people. I stammer out what little I know in greeting and explain “Tá Béarla agam.”

I worry immediately. Is that the right thing to tell them? After all, in certain times throughout history, speaking the wrong language in the wrong place could be bad news. Luckily, they don’t kill me. But instead, take me to see a man in long flowing robes who looks, for all the world like a wizard from books and movies. A real Gandalf or Dumbledore type.

He starts off in Gaeilge too but after one of the guards says something to him he switches to a language I can almost understand but, not quite. “I see, you speak the Terran common tongue, my name is Gregor MacInness and I am the official folklorist to the High Cheiftain of Nova Falias.” (The who the what now?) I thought to myself. “Well look, I’m not sure what about half of what you just said means but, could you tell me where exactly I am and how I got here?” I blurt out. Gregor eyes me up and down, studying me and collecting his thoughts and asks “What is the last thing you remember before you arrived here?”

5 – Communication Troubles

So, I go through the whole story of the ritual, the brownie, the glowing pool of water looking thing behind my above ground swimming pool then he stops me. “Hold on now my friend. Now it is you whose words I am only understanding about half of. But, do I gather correctly that you have come from a time on earth in which homes are powered with electricity?” “Well, yeah, sure. Of course.” I said, a bit taken aback by the question.

Gregor continues “The grogan very likely escorted you to a fairy portal or fairy ring. At least, those are the terms we call them by here. While it is common knowledge that most such portals are marked by a ring of mushrooms, this is not always the case. The Tuatha De Danann or an agent doing their bidding most likely placed this portal there specifically for you. We have had a few people from antiquity come to us this way. But these people have been mostly pastoral and iron age people from times many centuries before your own.

Gregor took a deep breath, thought to his self then said, “If I am understanding you correctly, we are in a time that, by your method of time keeping, would be about two and a half centuries, earth time, ahead of your own. Where did you say you live again?”

6 – Dallas, Texas?

“Near Dallas, Texas.” I answered, somewhat unsure how specifically I should answer. By this time the guards had clamored off to retake their post, leaving Gregor and I to continue our conversation as he led me into his chambers which were aligned with bookshelves and contained a small table, two chairs, a bed and, oddly enough a column of water flowing from high above near one of the walls and vines growing up the walls on one side. We sat down at the table to continue our conversation. Gregor responded “Dallas, Texas is, in your time, on the North American continent in a political jurisdiction known as the United States, is that correct?”

“Well, uhm, yeah.” I responded. Not sure where this was leading. “Luckily, I have some knowledge of the vernaculars of English as it was spoken in this time because, interestingly enough, our community here in Nova Falias was derived from people from your very time and place who chose a different path from the rest of the world around them. I find it more than interesting that you, coming from that time and place, have at least some, rudimentary knowledge of Gaeilge and the customs of our people. That is not the norm for people of your time and place in history, wouldn’t you agree?” Gregor inquired.

7 – By The Will Of The Gods?

Gregor seems to be cross examining me as though I am on trial or something, I feel by this point. “What are you getting at?” I demand. “I think, you might be one of our direct ancestors and that perhaps, that is why the Tuatha De Danann wanted you brought here, to us. For what purpose, I can’t say. But, it seems that our paths are fated to cross.” Gregor replied rather emphatically. This proposal forced me to examine my own feelings on the gods and concepts such as fate, divine intervention and such all at once. I was, after all, a third degree high priest in my tradition.

I had trained and studied to be a devout polytheist, ritualist and dedicant to the studies of the old ways. But, my history also was from an agnostic background. For years of my life, I had questioned whether there truly were divine, supernatural beings. Until I had an experience that made me believe that, yes, there was something beyond just our human understanding. But, I always questioned myself. Did I truly believe or was I just going through the motions? If, what Gregor was proposing was true then I needed to definitely accept that, yes, there is some real divine magic in the world. After all, what was that skeleton thing with the glowing bow?

8 – How did we get here?

Or, am I still just dreaming. What the fuck was in that mead that Ta’li Seabhac brought to the ritual? “OK, let’s say what you are saying is true. What then? What am I expected to do or say?” I muttered after turning these thoughts over in my head.

Gregor puzzled it over and said “Well, let’s start with some orientation, shall we? My own people came to this world, which we call New Caledonia, in search of a new life. My father and mother were born on a starship, believe it or not, which was on a colonizing mission directed by the Terran Cyberocracy. Now, I know, from the appearances of our stone castle and what you might term as medieval implements here you might think us unaware of such things as technology and space travel. But, our people here in Nova Falias live a simple life not by necessity but by choice.”

At this point Gregor reached into his robe and pulled out a long stemmed corncob pipe, placed some herbs in the bowl and lit it. See? I told you this guy was a Gandalf knockoff. He offered me a puff but I declined. So, he took a long draw then continued. “You see, in the century following your own on earth, humankind waged wars, as our species has unfortunately always been inclined to do. But, clever as we are, we kept developing more and more deadly weapons and devising new and interesting ways to kill one another.” Gregor pauses.

9 – How much stuff can you fit in that robe?

He reaches into his robe again and produces an entire cooked chicken and places it on the table. Who is this guy? Houdini? He continues “We also weren’t good stewards of the one planet we had to live on at the time and had rendered large portions of it, unfit for human habitation. We had a bad habit of shitting where we eat as the old idiom goes. Artificial Intelligence was also making great strides during this time and in a bid to solve the problems humanity had caused for itself, machines became more involved in decision making regarding many facets of life. “

“Humans, after all, programmed the machines. They believed that they had done so with the reasoning that the AI would make decisions logically and altruistically rather than emotionally. What they didn’t realize is that what is logical and even what is altruistic, isn’t always what is humane.” Gregor took a deep sigh and went on “It became the philosophy of the cyberocracy which arose from this continued giving of the decision making power over to the machines, that things which excited the emotions and fervor in humans are what led humans to eventually wage war and make selfish decisions.”, another puff from his pipe and Gregor kept speaking.

10 – A New Normal

“Things like art, music, religious practices and other things people are passionate about were discouraged. Oh, it didn’t all happen over night mind you. It started with little Public Service Announcements here and there on media about the detriment that certain art forms caused society. Maybe a policebot might fine you for attending a music concert that was on the undesirable list. Then they implement restrictions on when and where you could attend religious ceremonies. Outright bans came later. Maybe a generation or two down the line. People needed time to get used to the ‘new normal. after all.”

Gregor sliced off a few pieces of the chicken on the table and offered me some. Again, I declined. He cocked one eyebrow and said, “You know, a few bites of this will do wonders for that shoulder you are favoring. The food here has healing properties.” I nodded my head and said “Yeahhhh, perhaps that’s all the more reason not to partake though.” Gregor grinned knowingly “Oh, I understand that trepidation. You’re not the first to assume such on first arriving here. That was a fairy portal you came through after all. I assure you, I am as human as you are. This is a strange land indeed. It’s not Tír na nÓg but it certainly has fairy influences.”

Gregor took another bite of chicken and remarked “Suit yourself, but you’re only going to get hungrier and that shoulder isn’t going to get better on its own. On the other hand, as I am sure you will learn soon enough, even death is only a temporary inconvenience here.”

11 – Death Is Only A Minor Inconvenience

OK, this boggles the mind. I’ve seen and heard enough strange stuff by now to accept pretty much anything though so I ask “What do you mean by that?” Gregor puts his hand on my sore shoulder and somehow it feels better already then he looks me right in the eye and says “When you die, your head pops off where you died and all of your belongings will be in it when you get back to it. In the meantime you will wake up wherever you last slept or wherever you arrived into the world. Sometimes, you might return to a respawn anchor which you may have set for yourself. But, I will explain that when the time comes.”

What’s in that pipe he’s been smoking? “OK, anyway, I notice you keep reaching into your robe and pulling out things that seem improbable. Like, entire cooked chickens still piping hot as if they came out of the oven for example. How does that work?” I finally asked. Gregor’s head rolled back in a hearty, deep laugh and I saw a twinkle in his eye. “Oh, there are many wonders here that you are yet to discover and this is only one.” He reveals a bag with a shoulder strap from under his robe.

12 – Now That’s Magic!

“All of us here, when we, spawn, which is the vernacular we use to describe when someone first arrives on this plane of existence or when they return after a death, are given a set of clothes much like the ones you are wearing and this bag which we call an inventory.” Gregor continues. The bag itself doesn’t look like much. A rather nondescript shoulder bag made of some sort of sturdy cloth with a mouth barely two feet wide and a depth of maybe two and a half or three feet. But what he does next floors me. He reaches into the thing and comes out with a hand full of huge cobblestone blocks.

I mean, like dozens of them and they are rather small while in his hand but he starts placing them down and in no time builds a wall between us with them high enough that I can’t see over it or around it. Then he pulls out a large pickaxe looking tool with a dark, metallic head that glows in a similar purplish light as the bow that skeleton thing was carrying outside earlier. In short order he demolishes the wall with it, gathers the blocks back up and places them and the pickaxe back into the bag which looks barely large enough to hold one of them, let alone dozens.

13 – A Bag Of Holding?

Plus, he does all of this as if they weigh next to nothing! OK, that’s it! I’m out, this is some weird-assed dream. I’m gonna kick Ta’li Seabhac’s ass for spiking the mead in the morning. “OK first off, that’s like a bag of holding or something you’ve got there and secondly, how is a rather elderly and, pardon me for saying, not exactly muscular looking old man capable of carrying around all of that stuff in a bag and building a huge wall then knocking it down as if it were nothing?”

A bag of holding is a term I remembered from playing role playing games as a kid and it seemed to be the most fitting word for this “inventory” as he calls it. Gregor explains as best he can “Oh believe me! I was just as bewildered as you when I first arrived here. The natural laws of physics just don’t apply here the same as they do outside of the Rétglainn Occulti. This place is, by definition, supernatural. You should have seen what trees did when we chopped them down in the early days when we first arrived. But, over time, you get used to it.”

Yeah, I don’t see myself getting used to this any time soon. “Here! let’s get you outfitted for survival around here. Put these in your inventory.” I look down and see that I too, have a shoulder strapped bag hanging at my waist. I open it and Gregor produces several loaves of bread, some tools and pieces of what look like medieval plate mail armor and throws them into my bag.

14 – Put It In The Bag

He also comes up with some torches, a bucket full of water What the heck is that for? and something that looks like a stone brick oven of some sort, a bunch of logs and several chunks of coal. All of it goes into my bag and despite all of this I don’t feel a significant increase in the weight of it. Then he hands me this square thing that looks like a workbench in cube form. I hold it in my hand and it’s maybe the size of a basketball but I set it down on the ground and it’s about a meter tall and wide. Yeah, these people are weird.

They gave up their space ships but still have some kind of strange technology going on I think. “Okay, let’s go for a walk shall we? Put on your armor!” Gregor instructed. “My what? This stuff?” I said, pointing to the pieces of platemail in my bag. “Yes! That stuff, exactly. Also grab your bow, some arrows and take this sword. We don’t know what we might run into out there. Donn’s creatures roam the countryside at night.” He continued. “Wait! What? Who’s Donn?” Gregor sighed, here, I’ll help you put on your gear and tell you a little story.

15 – The Dark One, Donn

Gregor started pulling my items out of the bag which, again, looked small in the bag and in his hand but when he placed them on my body they actually fit me perfectly. “A long, long time ago, many centuries in fact, on earth, in Ireland, an ancestor lived who said upon his death ‘To me, to my house, you shall all come after your deaths.’ His name was Donn and it is believed from then on that all who die their final death will go to the house of Donn to dwell until they reincarnate in the cauldron of life. He became the god of the dead, the dark one.”

Gregor finished fastening my armor on and handed me a sword then spoke some more, “We believe that our gods have followed us here or brought us here because we are their people. So, their influence is strong here. That includes, The Dark One. However, it seems that in recent times, his power and influence has been growing stronger. His ambitions greater. No longer content to rule in the underworld, he wants to bring the world of the dead into the world of the living and rule all of creation.” I stammered my next question, “Do you think that’s what I’ve been brought here for? To take part in your fight with, Donn?”

16 – Soul Snatching Gods And Such

Gregor looked me over and replied, “No, I don’t think that’s your primary purpose. But, we are all in this fight here, whether we choose it or not. Donn’s forces appear everywhere and they are always ready to take you to the world of the dead. But, and this is just a theory I have and some others around here, I believe the reason we return from the dead so quickly and in our own form is because our gods are looking out for us. They are capturing our souls before they can depart and returning us again to foil Donn in his attempts to take us.”

Gregor began suiting up in armor as well while he continued, “Now, there are ways to prevent most of Donn’s forces from spawning in as we say. They seem to be averse to appearing in the light, only in darkness. But, after they appear, they have no qualms about walking into the light. Except, some actually catch fire and burn in the daylight. Unless they are wearing armor.”

Uhm, yeah, okay. Can’t wait to see that. Well, now that he was wearing armor, Gregor MacInness looked less like a wizard and more like an old Celtic warrior ready to do battle one more time for the honor and glory of the tribe. His armor, however, quite distinguishable from my own. Whereas I had plain iron plates, his appeared to be made of a darkened metallic crystalline material that had that same purplish glow about it as the bow held by the skeleton creature I encountered outside the castle walls and Gregor’s pickaxe that he pulled out of his inventory bag earlier. I asked “So, when can I expect to be outfitted in such fancy duds?”

17 -If You Come They Will Build It

Gregor chuckled and tauntingly replied “When you have earned them naive. Armor such as this doesn’t grow on trees and you have to earn your stripes before you can hunt with the tigers. Come! Before the dawn breaks, so you can see what there is to see.” Gregor lead the way out his chamber door and down the pathway along the wall of the castle until we reached the entrance where the two guards stood from earlier. They greeted Gregor in Gaeilge and exchanged pleasantries. One of them said something that I could not make out which made them all chuckle a bit.

Then Gregor motioned me on and we stepped back outside. The air was cool and a light mist hung in the early, pre-dawn air, coating the grass with dew. A path of trampled grass and packed earth, lined with cobblestone led across the fields towards a village in the distance and beyond that, mountains. Some farms were barely visible to my right and a small grove of trees with a pond to my left. While I stopped to take in the view, Gregor managed to make his way several meters ahead of me then stopped and turned around.

18 – Creepers Be Creepin’

Then he began to shout a warning but, behind me I heard a hiss and caught the faint smell of something that reminded me of a mixture of moss and gunpowder. I didn’t know why and then BOOM! The world went dark then a hazy red then what the??? Suddenly I was farther down the path than Gregor, I could see him with the castle behind him. My armor and supplies were all gone. I was wearing the same clothes I had on when I first arrived at this place. My ears were still ringing a bit from the explosion. “What the Hel was that?” I shouted to Gregor

“You’ve encountered your first creeper my boy! Noisy buggers aren’t they?” he laughed. I didn’t think it was all that funny myself. I could have died. In fact, I thought I did there for a second. “See what I mean though about death being a minor inconvenience here?” he continued. “Wait, what?!” I asked, befuddled and out of breath as I caught up to him on the way back towards the scene of the explosion. “You died, my friend, but you are back, good as new. Thank the gods. It happens to us all, once in awhile. Don’t feel bad about it. You’ll get used to it. Come on, let’s go get your stuff back.”

19 – Nothing To Lose Your Head About

The two of us walked back toward the castle along the path, back to the place I was standing and taking in the view before I heard the hiss and smelled the odd smell just before the huge BOOM. The ground was not damaged at all but, in the grass nearby was the most gruesome sight I had ever laid eyes on. My own head laying on the ground, severed clean and staring lifelessly out into space. “Touch it with your hand and get your belongings.” Gregor ordered “Do what?” I asked, incredulously.

“I can’t do it for you. No one else can get what is yours from your disembodied head but you, yourself. It is as the gods have deemed it must be. All others are denied access.” This place just gets weirder and weirder. I did as he said and just as I touched the top of my own head it vanished and suddenly I was wearing the armor again, my inventory bag was back on my shoulder with contents inside, my bow and sword both strapped to my back for ease of access with quick release latches. Yeah, OK, so magic is real. I guess we’re going with that at this point.

20 – More Magic Than Magic

I mean, we might as well. I’ve been saying it was for years. But, It’s never been quite so, in my face as it is now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve cleansed and blessed peoples homes. Calmed and when necessary banished restless spirits from places. I’ve felt the presence of the elements and of the gods before. But, here, I was seeing things full on, as I would in physical form. Not just sensing, not with my third eye. But actually, physically experiencing them full on. This was different from anything I had ever experienced before.

“Well, not as I intended it to be, ha-ha, but you’ve made it through lesson one. Dying isn’t the end and you will return. Those Creepers are pesky and sneaky buggers. Mutated moss monster things that explode to deliver their spores to breed more of their kind. They try to get close to anything with a soul before they blow themselves up because the essence apparently helps them to germinate. That’s the prevailing theory anyway.” Gregor interjected.

“Uhm, yeah, OK.” I mumbled, still bewildered by the whole turn of events and trying to wrap my head around just what happened here and why I’m still stuck in this strange dream.

21 – Indistinguishable From Magic

“So, in the early days, before we found and migrated to Hy-Brasil, those things caused untold damage everywhere when they blew up. But, after we arrived there, the Valosani and Gorg people worked out some technology with some artifacts they acquired there which provide a protective shield on the surface of the planets and around some structures. I’m not sure how it all works. It looks like some sort of magic to me but Andarius assures me that, as one of our own great thinkers from earth once said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’”

“Arthur C. Clarke, I am familiar with his work.”, I replied. “But, Valosani? Gorg? Andarius? These names I am not familiar with.”

“Oh, well, that’s going to be a long story indeed. I might have to give it to you in pieces. Eventually, you will meet some of them in person and then you will probably have even more questions.”, Gregor assured me. Assured? Is that the right word here? I’m not so sure.

Just then a deathly stench and an inhuman moan came from within the nearby grove of trees and what looked like three rotten, animated corpses shuffled out towards us. The smell was awful but the creatures moved so slowly it was easy to maneuver away from them. “Quickly!”, Gregor yelled. “Chop them apart with your sword and they will be rendered immobile.” “But what are they?”, I yelled back. “Zombies”, Gregor shouted as he chopped the head off of one and it dropped into a pile of rotten flesh in a puff of smoke. Of course they are, why not? F this place!

22 – Talk About Sunburn!

But just as I was about to take a swing at one near me with my sword the sun broke over the treeline and touched the rotten skin of the zombie. The smelly moaner immediately burst into flames which caused me to reel back in horror. Although on fire, the damned thing was still walking towards me and groaning. “Stay back! The flames will catch you too if it gets too close. Just keep your distance until it falls down.”, Gregor ordered. Sure enough, Sir Stinks A-lot fell to the ground in a mound of rotten flesh within the next moment.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something climbing down out of the trees nearby. It was the biggest fucking spider I have ever seen in my life! “Don’t worry too much about them in the daylight. They don’t attack anyone unless attacked during the day, but at night they can be pretty treacherous.”, Gregor advised. The huge, hairy spider wandered up the castle wall where archers in the towers picked it off with deadly accuracy and the thing fell to the ground, leaving only some string and an enormous, red, eye.

Soon, a fellow clad in leather pants and tunic scurried out of the bushes near the wall and grabbed the string then vanished into a hole under the wall. “Drops like those are worthwhile to new arrivals and those just starting anew.” Gregor explained at my bewildered expression. Drops like those… okay… got it? “Oh, you have much to learn still. Come along.” he continued as we made our way back down the path in the direction we were originally heading before the attacks.

23 – Nova Falias By Daylight

Now that the sun was up there were fewer of the undead creatures but I saw what looked like a shambling mound of moss about my height moving about on four legs and a face that appeared to be frowning in anguish. “Don’t get too close!”, Gregor warned. “If it sees you, it will come for you and you’ve already had one explode on you today.” “That’s the thing that blew my head off earlier?”, I inquired bemusedly but, did as he said and walked quickly down the path the other direction. “Yes, that is a Creeper. They are immune to the sunlight but only spawn in the dark.”, Gregor responded.

Just then, he pulled his bow from his side and drew back an arrow, it flew flawlessly to its target and the moss monster fell dead. Gregor strode across the field and picked up a lump of grey powder which he placed into his inventory bag. “The gunpowder those things drop are very useful to my friend who brews potions. They give her the ability to make splash potions.”, he said, matter-of-factually. “Potions? You mean, like magic potions or medicines?”, I managed to choke out. “Oh, not much need for medicines around here. People don’t often get sick and when they do, the food or a health potion usually cures them.”, Gregor retorted.

24 – Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog

“No, these potions are definitely magical in nature. They can do things like make you invisible or give you the ability to run faster than humanly possible.”, he continued. “Wow, wish I could make potions like that back home.” I responded. “Yes, nothing like these on earth that I know of. Although the ancients say there once were similar concoctions if you knew the right things to use.”, he winked knowingly. “So I’ve heard.”, I agreed. “But such knowledge was lost in the mists of time, they say.” “Or was it?”, Gregor poked. By this time we were coming up on the village I could see in the distance.

Signs posted near the pathway said it was Crow’s Village and behind one of the cottages I could see what looked like a dragon statue with fire billowing out from its mouth. “SuperTaco is another person from around your time who came to us through odd circumstances. He built this village while he was here then vanished for a long time. I’ve heard rumors that he might be back around though but that he’s living on Hy-Brasil.”, Gregor seemed to be thinking out loud as he spoke and we looked around at what appeared to be an abandoned village now. “He once caught a phantom and kept it caged up in a glass exhibition chamber.”

25 – If You Can’t Sleep, Better Get Good

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but when you say, phantom?”, I ventured. “Annoying creatures, although rather beautiful in appearance in my opinion.”, Gregor went on to explain. “They only appear up in the night sky over the heads of insomniacs who go for three days or more without sleeping. When they do, they dive out of the sky and attack the unfortunate non-sleepers by scratching and biting at their heads then they take off up into the sky and circle before doing it again. If you sleep, they go away. Or, if you’re good with a bow…”, he chuckles and shakes his bow in his hand. “Well, I had to get good with my bow. I’ll leave it at that.”

I started to feel a rumble in my stomach. I hadn’t eaten since arriving here, nor slept for that matter. But, I still wasn’t keen on the idea of eating or drinking anything here. I still wasn’t convinced this whole place wasn’t a fairy ploy to entrap me here and all I had to do was partake of their offerings to be forever in their debt. As my hunger grew, my pace began to slow. Gregor once again spoke up “You’re not doing yourself any favors refusing to eat or drink here. Either way, you’re pretty much stuck in this place until you yourself decide it is time to leave. When that time comes, only your spirit knows.”

26 – To Eat Or Not To Eat

“I don’t trust it!”, I croaked out through my parched throat. “Well, suit yourself. But you will learn, eventually, that you are only putting yourself through needless suffering this way. We continued down the path, over a bridge across the river which divided the abandoned Crow’s Village from another village with walls on the other side. At the bridge was an Irish tricolor flag of the design which is modern in my era and a sign which stated the bridge was called Bridgit’s Crossing. Upon approach Gregor made a gesture with his hand and the guards at the gate flipped a lever which caused the large gate to open. Inside were people wandering around inside the village.

Farmers tended crops, craftspeople worked in their shops on leather goods, stone masonry, weapons, armor and some people in purple robes were inside a tall building which looked like a medieval church near a stand with a glass decanter and beakers and smoke bubbled out. Gregor walked up to one and it sounded to me like all that they said to one another was “Hmmmm.” in different tones over and over. Occasionally the one in purple robes would make a sound that seemed to be an approval. Then the two of them exchanged some goods and I say some green gems pass hands then quickly get placed into Gregor’s inventory bag.

27 – Hmmmm.

“What was that all about?”, I asked. “Oh, these people have lived here since long before we, people like you and I, came to these lands. They have a different language and a different manner about them. But, overall they are an industrious and honest people. We trade with them frequently and offer them protection from Donn’s forces and sometimes from themselves. They have a tendency to wander aimlessly into dire situations and not have a plan of action to get themselves out. Their religion differs from our own too. More like the dominant one you are familiar with from your own time. They are monotheists, believing only in their ‘one true God’ as they call him.”, Gregor went on.

“Sometimes they can be rather annoying in their mannerisms when it comes to their beliefs. They tend to think anyone who doesn’t share their way of seeing the world are destined for a future of eternal torment and suffering. So, they make it their business to try to ‘save’ you by talking you into seeing it their way.”, Gregor scoffed. “I usually just try to change the subject. If you keep them on other topics, they’re actually quite reasonable people and easy to get along with.” “I know what you mean.”, I nodded. “But, when I overheard you speaking with them in their language it sounded like all either of you was saying is “Hmmmm.”

28 – So much in so few words.

“Ah. I used to feel the same way when I first arrived.”, Gregor smiled as he spoke. “I couldn’t see how they could be communicating with so few words. But, as I spend time with them I realized, just one word can have many meanings, depending on how you say it. There are many nuances in body language, inflection and tone that can be imparted, even in our own languages. These people, have simply learned to communicate a great deal more in far fewer words. But, they do actually have a lot to say if you know how to listen to them.”

It didn’t seem likely to me, but I have had to accept a lot of things as real which don’t seem real since I arrived literally just last night. So, why not one more thing? I looked around at the scene of the village. Part of it bordered on the coast and fishermen stood by barrels to trade. Gregor spoke up and said, “I have a few more trades to make while we’re here. Why not have a look around while I do. You’ll be safe here. As long as you don’t hit anyone, especially in sight of one of the iron golems.” “In sight of the what?”, I blurted.

29 – Big Friendly Iron Beast

Gregor motioned towards the center of town where a large, metallic, lumbering beast of a man? Or Robot? Or something shuffled about along the roadway nearly half again as tall as anyone else walking around. It stopped in front of a child and presented a flower to which the kid gladly accepted, smiled and ran away. Then the metallic giant turned and continued it’s stride along the roadway, turning at the next intersection. It appeared to have vines growing on its chest but at this distance I couldn’t be too sure.

“They are protectors of the villagers here. If anything hostile enters the town or if anyone does harm to a villager who lives here, the iron golems attack on site. So, it’s best to stay on their good side.”, Gregor explained.”Indeed I will.”, I replied, wide eyed. “Are you sure it’s safe?” Oh yes, as long as you stay out of trouble. After all, if you die, it’s only temporary.”, Gregor chuckled. “Thanks a lot.”, I sighed as Gregor entered another shop and I turned to walk towards the coast.

30 – Life In The Village

Along the way I noticed raised garden plots with wheat, carrots, beets and potatoes growing in various locations within the town. Farmers worked the field and threw what wasn’t needed into the nearby composters. Then as passers-by came near, they threw food to those who looked in need without any money or green gems passing hands. Must be a bartering system of some sort they work on here, or the farms are all community property, I thought to myself.

One prominent feature I noticed among the people is “Why do they all have such big noses?Ah, well, let’s try not to be too judgy. I walked past an adult and child walking the other direction. The adult nodded and said “Hmmm,” I tried to say “Hmmm.” in return but I must have said it wrong because the adult one looked offended, covered the child’s ears and walked hurriedly away. Oops. One of the iron golem’s looked down at me, shook its head and walked on. I could feel the ground shake beneath me as it strolled by.

31 – Tall, Dark, and Angry

Then I heard an odd sound that seemed like a low pitched “Whoop, whoop!” and a tall, slender being, totally black appeared holding what looked like a perfectly cubicle shaped block of dirt and grass. I looked into it’s purple eyes and suddenly its head went up and it started shrieking and coming towards me. I wasn’t sure what to do so I dove inside the nearest house where it stood outside the door, unable to reach me but kept shrieking and pacing back and forth.

Then, once in awhile there was an almost musical sound and a puff of purple light as the being would disappear then reappear across the street and walk back to the doorway, still angry for whatever reason. Just about that time one of the big iron fellows shows up and grabs the tall, skinny creature and throws it into the air still shrieking all the way. When it came back down it took its attention from me in the doorway and started focusing on big iron who promptly threw him into the air again.

After a few rounds of this the tall guy vanished in a puff of smoke leaving only a large, green orb thing on the ground where it fell. Gregor appeared out of one of the nearby shops, walked over and picked the orb up. “Ah, an ender pearl. You’ve met your first enderman!”, he said. “Well, they aren’t very friendly. I’m pretty sure that one wanted to kill me.”, I shouted back. “Oh, they get very offended if you look them directly in the eyes. It’s a cultural thing with them I think.”, Gregor returned. “Good job on killing him though. You must be sharper on your combat skills than I gave you credit for.”

32 – Creatures Big And Small – Mostly Big

“Oh, it wasn’t me. One of the Iron Golem creatures came and threw him up in the air until he died.”, I confessed. “Ah, well, at least he was dealt with. Would you like the ender pearl?”, Gregor offered. “What is it good for?”, I inquired. “Well, a number of things. It can be used in recipes to create an eye of ender which can be used for other things such as crafting an ender chest.”, Gregor was talking but my eyes were glazing over. “I don’t have an idea what any of that meant but I take it that it’s useful.”, I replied.

“Indeed it is. I would advise holding onto it for now. You might find a use for it later.”, Gregor advised. “There is a lot to learn about this place.”, I croaked through my dry throat. I still hadn’t eaten or drank anything. I’ve noticed my walking pace has been slower for quite some time. The world starts getting dark and then a red haze coats everything in a fog and…

I’m back on the path again, outside of the castle. Back where I first began my journey. The sun was getting low in the sky. Had it been that long already? Time seems to pass quickly here. I hear a voice in my head “May I teleport to you?“, It was Gregor’s voice but inside my head. Not through my ears. I thought back. “Sure.” In an instant he was by my side. See? This guy’s a wizard of some sort. He has to be.

33 – What A Way To Get Around

“Well, you’ve managed to starve yourself to death. Feel better? Now, think exactly what I am about to tell you so you can get back and retrieve your belongings. Slash back. Just like that. Slash back.”, Gregor admonished. “Slash back?”, I asked. “Yes, but think it, with intent.”, Gregor repeated. Slash back. Suddenly, I am back in the roadway inside the village. It is evening but not dusk yet and all of the villagers are gathered around a big brass bell at the well like they are having a meeting. Is it about me?

I look down. My head is there, staring out with those awful, lifeless eyes. I reach down to touch it and my belongings are all back on me as though I never left. In an instant Gregor is there too, by my side. “Ah, night time is coming. The villagers will all be going to bed soon. We should be getting back home soon too. You don’t have a home set yet so here is what we will do. I will go there first.”, Gregor looked me in the eyes as he spoke.

“Then I want you to think intently again, just as we did earlier with the ‘slash back’ but this time I want you to visualize me and ask ‘May I teleport to you.’, got it?”, he instructed. “Uhm, I think so.”, I said, but I wasn’t all that sure. “Fair enough.”, he said and then he was gone. I visualized his face in my mind and thought “May I teleport to you?” and in the next instant I was back in Gregor’s chambers at the castle.

34 – Sleepy time

He said, “I don’t usually keep a guest bed on hand but you are welcome to use this one.” as he pulls a twin sized bed with a brown blanket from his bag and places it on the ground on the opposite side of the door from where his bed and table were. Near the column of water that flowed constantly. I didn’t feel all that sleepy but I laid down anyway and the next thing I knew it was daytime and I was getting out of bed refreshed. “Don’t break your bed.”, Gregor said quickly. “What? I wasn’t going to. Why would I do that?”, I said with a start.

I wasn’t expecting to be confronted when I just woke up. Gregor laughed, “It’s how we return things to their item state so we can put them into our inventory here. I forget, that you don’t yet know how these things work. But, if you leave the bed where it is, you will be able to return to it at any time and will return to it on death instead of out on the pathway as you have been doing.” “Ohhhhhkkkayyy. If you say so.”, I said while still wiping the sleep out of my eyes.

35 – Clear As Mud

He went on, “You see, things in the Rétglainn Occulti have an item state and a block state. When they are in the item state they are smaller and can be placed into your inventory.” “Clear as mud.”, I sarcastically replied. Gregor waved it off and continued, “In the block state they can be used and they are larger than when in their item state. When you break something that is in its block state it will usually, but not always, go into its item state. But sometimes it will drop other items or nothing at all.” “Oh! Glad we cleared that up.”, I still wasn’t getting it.

“Here, let me demonstrate.”, Gregor stated and pulled some items out of his inventory bag. The first was like the workbench cube he handed me the night before to place in my bag. He placed it down and it became the meter wide and tall work bench it was before. “This, is a crafting table.”, He stated. “With it, you can craft a wide variety of items which you can use if you have the proper materials on hand to use it.”

Then he pulls out an axe and starts chopping at the crafting table which begins to crack then floats just above the ground a miniature version of itself which Gregor picks up and holds in his hand again. About the size of a basketball. “This is its item state.”, he said. The same thing, just two different states of being. He places it back down and repeats the process. Each time the crafting table looked no worse for the wear despite the repeated chopping at it with an axe. Well, that’s handy. “So, everything is a block or it’s an item?”, I asked.

36 – Not All That Glitters Glows

“Well, not everything that is a block always drops as an item. Take for instance this thing.”, he says as he pulls a block of glowing crystalline looking stuff out of his bag. “This is glowstone. It’s a very useful light source and can be crafted into lamps which can be switched on and off. But, if I break it with a normal tool…”, he says as he produces a pickaxe from his back and strikes the glowing cube on the ground. It sounds like glass breaking and a couple of lumps of powder that look kind of like gold dust remain but they do not glow.

“As you can see, it is something else now. This material is called glowstone powder. It’s useful in potion brewing and enough of it can be crafted back into glowstone blocks. But you always lose some when breaking with a normal tool. However.”, now he pulls out another of the glowstone blocks and a different pickaxe with a purple glowing head on it. He places the glowstone block down, breaks it with the glowing pickaxe and this time it breaks into a miniature version of itself floating just above the ground. “This pickaxe is enchanted with a spell called silk touch. With it you can cause delicate items to drop as their original blocks.”

I’m starting to get used to this place’s forms of magic.

37 – Have A Bite To Eat

“Okay, I think I am starting to catch on now.”, I chimed in. It was actually starting to come together. Definitely not the physics I was used to dealing with, but, with practice it was manageable. Gregor spent the remainder of the morning and the rest of the afternoon explaining things like crafting and recipes and items versus blocks and the physics of each. I was starting to get hungry again and by this time I was less leery of the fairy magic of this place than before. When Gregor placed a freshly cooked steak down on the table I didn’t hesitate to gobble it right up.

You know what? It was actually quite delicious and I instantly felt physically better. My knees had been sore for some years now after years of work which had me crawling around on metal catwalks to change out motors and belts on industrial conveyor systems on earth. But after eating that steak, I swear they felt as good as new. This food really did have healing properties. Amazing! “Okay lad, now there’s one more exercise I want you to do before we suit up and go on a venture together. There’s another place I want you to see.”, Gregor revealed. “More monster hunting?”, I asked, noticing the sun was going down again.

38 – Not This Time Bonehead

“Well, only if they get in our way along the way.”, Gregor chuckled and patted his bow. So, we donned out armor and headed out the castle gates, past the guards with whom we exchanged a few words. I actually practiced my Gaeilge some with them and I think they understood me. I hope so anyway. As we made it down the path, beyond the castle’s lighting a little ways I heard the clattering of bones in the trees on our left. I could see the faint glow of what I knew now to be an enchanted bow step from behind one tree and take aim.

This time I raised my shield and deflected the arrow then quickly raised my own bow, took careful aim and let loose. A direct hit! The skeleton fell to the ground in a pile of bones. I saw an arrow floating where the body fell but not the bow. “They don’t always drop their weapons. But sometimes they do.”, Gregor advised. I picked up the bone and the arrow and placed them in my inventory bag for later use. Now that I knew a few recipes, I had ideas for the bones. Just then the stench of rotting flesh and unearthly (literally) moans alerted us to two zombies stumbling our way from out of the darkness.

39 – Rotten Flesh Anyone?

Gregor drew his bow and dropped one with an arrow that set the creature aflame and it made an awful noise as it burned and died. I drew my sword as one was too near to me for ranged combat. The closer I got to it, the uglier it looked. But, I had greater speed and a longer reach with my sword which I used to my advantage. After a couple of sweeping attacks the zombie was just a pile of rotten flesh. We kept pressing on down the path this way, across the bridge on the river towards the village we visited earlier. Every so often we encountered zombies, skeletons, giant spiders or those exploding moss creatures.

We fought the ones that were close and avoided the ones that were at a distance so as to maintain a decent pace. When we reached the area of the village gates, instead of signalling the guards as Gregor had done on the last visit, we stepped off of the path, to the right. There, I saw what looked like a machine block of some sort. Perhaps some type of computer? I wasn’t sure. But it had a large wooden button on it and a sign next to it that read ‘To N’Aur‘. “Do as I do.”, Gregor said as he pushed the button and vanished. Well, okay then. I shrugged and did the same.

40 – Welcome To N’Aur

Now, we were someplace else entirely. Rather than a medieval village and stone castle, this place was very futuristic and well lit. In front of us stood a huge white….doorway…looking thing? With shimmering purple light inside it and it made a strange sound. High above I could see what looked like a glass surface with a railway running in the sky and further still I could see what looked like a large floating disk in the sky. An impressively tall skyscraper dominated the skyline along with a very large sign which read New Caledonia on it. The inhabitant of the town seemed to be a mix of humans and other creatures, the likes of which I had never seen.

Some were rather tall, muscularly built being with skins of different hues ranging from magenta, to gold, to blue. The taller ones among them had long tendrils hanging from the tops of their heads somewhat resembling dreadlocks on human hair but these seemed more like skin or maybe tentacles? Some of them had glowing tips. Then there were the large, jungle beast looking creatures. Well, some of them looked like jungle beasts. Others looked more suited to desert environments, some to water and others to, perhaps a snowy climate. They seemed to be of the same species, but somehow different. I can’t quite explain.

41 – Does It Seem Odd?

“This is where people would normally spawn into this world when they arrive. “, Gregor spoke up. “But, you, instead, were delivered onto our doorstep on a continent several kilometers to the north. Do you see now, why I think there might have been some divine intervention as it were?” I nodded my head in agreement. But, maybe that seemed odd to Gregor, my arriving in the wrong place I mean. From my perspective, this entire thing was odd though. So, why is he asking me?

“This, is the city of N’Aur. It was founded by an alliance of Humans, Gorg and Valosani as a trade center and place of law and order. Before it’s founding, New Caledonia was in an awful state, bands of pirates and bandits roaming the lands.”, Gregor went on. “Of course, I’m not sure things are much better now, with the undead and other creatures out there. But, that wasn’t N’Aur’s doing. That was the influence of Donn. Things might be much worse had we not had a center of trade and alliance among the sentient races. I would introduce you to my friend Andarius while we are here, but he resides on Hy-Brasil these days on another timeline.”

42 – Timelines and Planets

“Another timeline?”, I was a bit taken aback by this statement. Wasn’t this the stuff of science fiction. “Yes, we exist on different timelines and as you shift between worlds you might be on a different point in time than where we currently are. For example, the world you and I are currently on is the planet New Caledonia before the Great Cataclysm. Very few people here know this so don’t spread it around too much, but at some point in the near future, Donn is going to open up a great rift between his underworld and our world of the living here.”, Gregor spoke as I tried to grasp.

“When this happens the world will be split apart and thrown into chaos. But, Andarius and his friend Kysh will devise a plan, using some of their alien technology, to reassemble the world anew and push back Donn’s advances. We call this reassembled version of our world New Caledonia Phase 2 and you can travel there as well. It was a nice place for several decades until, once again, Donn opened up the rift and began waging war on New Caledonia’s overworld. But, another planet was discovered in the mists of the Rétglainn Occulti which we call Hy-Brasil because it is only visible to this planet once every seven years in our time through normal observation methods.”, he continued.

43 – Wars Across Time And Space

“But, Andarius and Kysh devised a way that we can travel to and from this world and that one, even across time and space, through their technology. Andarius led the effort to evacuate as many from the civilian population as possible off of New Caledonia while Kysh remained behind on New Caledonia 2 to fight back against Donn in the great war. The war still continues in the timeline that Andarius is currently in. We will travel to Hy-Brasil now and you will meet another friend of mine. Most people call her the Crone, but to me she is, Ernmas.”, he finished.

With that Gregor gave me a wink and a nod then walked over to another of the machine cubes with a button on top and promptly vanished. I followed suit and found myself inside what appeared to be a huge, hollow tree lit within by several of the glowstones that Gregor had shown me earlier. There were others in the tree with us. One, dressed all in white who seemed to be waiting for something. Another dressed in green robes with some books protruding from under his robes. Then The Crone spoke up to our right. “Hello dear! I didn’t know if I would be seeing you again. It’s so good of you to come.” She hugged Gregor and smiled.

44 – New Friends

Gregor replied, “I know dear. I’m afraid, the rumors of my demise may have been a bit premature. The gods still have use of me.” They both laughed. “So, I see you’ve brought a new friend.”, The Crone told Gregor while glancing over at me. “Oh, forgive me. Yes, this is Cianaodh Óg, a new arrival from twenty-first century Earth.” He told her while I reached out to shake her hand. “Oh, we don’t do that here child.”, she said, brushing away my hand and giving me a solid hug. Although she looked old and frail, she had a great deal of strength in her arms. I could feel it.

“Oh, surprised are you?”, like she somehow knew my thoughts. “Second runner up in the Caber Toss at last year’s Highland Games!”, she proclaimed proudly. My goodness, a woman of her age? She must be at least 80. “I told you the food was good here.”, Gregor chuckled. “Oh, my nightly soak up at the enchanted hot springs probably helped a bit too.”, The Crone added. “So, what brings you to this time and place, Gregor?”, she queried. “I was hoping to have a chat with my friend Andarius. Is he around?”, Gregor responded. “Oh, he’s been spending a great deal of time working on his space station out in the end lately. You might find him out there.”, she offered.

45 – Andarius the Valosan

“Let me try to reach him.”, Gregor said as he touched his forefinger and third finger to his temple and concentrated.”, “May I teleport to you?” I could almost here him say in my own head although I was not the intended recipient. In an instant, Gregor was gone and soon I heard his voice in my head again. “Would you teleport to me, please?“. In my own head, I accepted and found myself on a platform in space with glass walls and a pool of water around the perimeter.

Along with Gregor stood a creature like the ones I saw at N’Aur before we came here. Blue tinted skin, tall and muscular, with the tendrils growing from the crown of his head and hanging down like dreadlocks. “Greetings Earthling, I believe is the intergalactic standard form of first contact with an alien species in your timeline.”, Andarius joked. His voice did not come from his mouth but formed in my head. In the telepathic way that Gregor requests when he wants to teleport.

“Excuse me for staring, but I have never met anyone like you before.”, I stammered. “Understandable, young one.”, he replied. Is everyone here so old that they refer to a man of almost 50 earth years of age as a youngster? “Of course, coming from your time and place you will have many questions. Forgive me, but my people, the Valosani, find vocal communication rather time consuming and cumbersome. That is especially so at times like this when there is so much to cover. Do you mind if I pour my thoughts into your mind for awhile so that we may know one another better?”, Andarius continued.

46 – N’Goras

I didn’t know what else to say so I just responded, “Sure.” Then, the tall, alien creature placed his hand on my head and I began to see another world in another time and place. I saw a child of the same race of beings about half the height of Andarius with a completely bald head, no tendril appendages growing from the top. Feeling the child’s elation as she ran through a field of flowers on the surface of a pristine world, I was filled with joy. I felt a name come to the surface of my mind. N’Goras. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion from behind and the child turned around.

Fear and grief filled her face and eyes. I could see the bright flash of light and the familiar mushroom cloud that dominated the fears of my own world for so long. Was this the dawning of the Valosani atomic age? Time marched forward but so quickly. I saw a once beautiful world ravaged by wars. Tribe fighting tribe for dominance and control of resources. Each generation devising greater and more deadly machines of war. They turned them on one another. Sacred sites of each faction were destroyed by the others in a bid to assert dominance and to eradicate the “other” among them.

47 – Alam ada Hak’ai!

Life giving waters and air were polluted. Generation after generation trained only as warriors and knowing only war. But then, one among them began to speak of another way. His following grew and eventually he had the attention of top leadership in all the tribes. He spoke of a greater cause, a better way through unity and mutual love and respect. He called upon the Valosani to restore their home world of N’Goras to the beautiful, life giving world she had always been to them. Hal’ai called for a restoration of the honoring of the ancestors and rebuilding of the sacred sites. “The stars call out to us.”, he said.

“We need not butcher our mother for all of the resources and energy we will ever need are out there for the taking.”, he beckoned. Although the tribal leaders’ lust for power and control was strong. They also knew that by this time, Hak’ai had the most important power of all. Hak’ai had the will of the people behind him. Though, some, may not have wished to, they knew it would be politically devastating to stand in the way of the movement that had become the path of Hak’ai. The path of enlightenment. So, in the coming decades, wars were put aside and tribes began to work together to restore the devastated world.

48 – To The Stars

Technologies once focused on destruction instead were put to use in cleaning up the pollution, radiation and other damages to the lands, the air and the waters. The best scientists and engineers were put on a mission, not to develop more machines of war, but to develop machines of space exploration and development. After many more decades, N’Goras was once again beautiful and the Valosani had mining and manufacturing colonies on its two moons and three of the neighboring planets. Highly intelligent probes and droids were sent out to find and bring back resources and samples from far away stars and asteroids.

Energy collection megastructures, similar in design to a Dyson sphere, were being constructed to collect the abundant energy of N’Goras’ star in order to fuel the Valosani’s reach for the stars. Eventually, a faster than light drive was developed which opened the way for greater expansion. The Valosani prospered for centuries this way. Until, they met others in their travels who also wanted to grow and expand. Some, had not given up their ways of war. The Valosani soon learned, that in order to survive, they would need to revive their warrior class.

49 – Something Evil Lurks There

There was a force, which seemed to be centered in a mysterious sector which Terrans (people from a planet called Earth) who populated the nearby systems referred to as the Rétglainn Occulti or “Hidden Stars” system. It was a system full of nebula like gasses and clouds of dust with occasional stars and asteroid belts within. Any ships which passed by tended to get lost as instrumentation failed and navigation systems would only lead the vessel deeper into the sector with no chance of returning. All races gave the area a wide berth while navigating on exploration or trade missions. Except, for some foolhardy adventure seekers, fortune hunters and pirates who used the mysterious sector for cover and hideaways.

It seemed that those sectors which were nearest to the Rétglainn Occulti appeared to be the ones populated the most with warlike factions and beings. Seemingly, something in the mists was an influence. It was in once of these neighboring sectors that the first Valosani outpost was attacked and the colonists massacred. By this time, it had been centuries by this time since the Valosani had known war. They still had warrior ancestry in their blood though. So, a war fleet was raised. Warriors trained and weapons of war developed. This time, not to fight one another, but to protect themselves from outside aggression.

50 – Psionics and Technology

Those who had been long on the path of Hak’ai learned to utilize the psionic powers of the mind which were heightened among the Valosani by the tendrils which grew from their heads at puberty. Nearly all had some telepathic abilities while others developed some types of telekinesis as well. They greatest among them could direct energies of the elements and atoms with their minds. But, this took decades of training and much energy. Often, a great deal of rest was needed after affecting such shifts on a large scale.

Others, never developed these psionic skills but became highly talented engineers and technicians. These tribal factions within Valosani society developed the sophisticated droids, starships and machinery which moved the Valosani to the stars. Soon, starships became equipped with energy shields capable of deflecting damage from most known projectiles as well as energy bursts. At first, these were useful when navigating asteroid fields and venturing near stars. But now, they would also find use in times of war. At last, I saw Andarius and his brother Atahnis at a ceremony of ascension by a faction called the Da’sheem. These were a relatively new faction among the Valosani people who embraced both the psionic arts and the technological skills.

51 – Andarius of the Da’sheem

Because the Da’sheem were seen as great uniters among the people, leadership roles were often bestowed upon members from this faction who had proven themselves in whatever fields they aspired to. Some were great warriors, know collectively as Spectral Warriors or simply Specters. Some were highly talented engineers and others were among the greatest in the psionic arts. Atahnis was to be the commander of a fleet which would travel near the Rétglainn Occulti to determine the source of the energies there. Andarius was chief of engineering on the flagship in the same fleet. Their mission started off with celebration and cheers. But, years later, when they reached the outskirts of the Hidden Stars sector they were attacked upon arrival.

The Fellowship of Darkness was a faction made up of rogue Terran, Gorg and even some Valosani defectors who became followers of a dark lord which the Terrans called Donn. Was this the same Donn that Gregor spoke of? Andarius’ thoughts seemed doubtful of that. He believes that the Donn Gregor believes in is a mystical being. A god of some sort which Andarius’ does not believe likely to exist from stories going back into Earth’s neolithic age. All the way out here and this far separated in time? No, Andarius believed this Donn was a flesh and blood man who simply had a lot of followers and perhaps some believed him a god.

52 – Deadly Heroics

Who was right? We will know when the time comes, Andarius’ thoughts ensured. Anyway, during the battle with the rogue fleet the flagship took major damages on the starboard side life support systems stability controls. As chief engineer and priest of Hak’ai, Andarius could not bring himself to let the engineering team in that position deal with the repairs alone. He designed most of those systems and knew them better than even the droids working on them. He sped away from his post to go lend assistance in the effort while Atahnis worked to maneuver the vessel to safety.

Just as Andarius arrived in the engineering bay for the stabilizer the entire starboard section broke away from the main hull of the ship. The damage was too great and the frame integrity had been compromised. The atmospheric control doors slammed shut on both main hull and the broken section of the ship. Luckily there was enough air on both sides and the main hull still had intact life support systems in the port and primary sections. So loss of life was minimal. But the droids and Valosani engineers were working feverishly against the clock to restore the systems in the now orphaned starboard section.

53 – Lost In The Rétglainn Occulti

In between putting out fires, phasing alloys and lines back together and recovering needed fluids, gasses and power units they could only glance occasionally as they drifted farther and farther away from the flagship which was still maneuvering to the rear of the fleet while the remaining intact ships continued the fight against the Fleet of Darkness. By the time systems were restored they had lost visuals of the remainder of the fleet. A planet came into view that appeared to support life with vast oceans and vegetation. Unable to maneuver the crew braced for the coming impact while trying to hail the fleet. But the only sounds they could hear were the static and wails of the Rétglainn Occulti.

Ultimately the structure crashed in the middle of a large ocean on the planet’s surface. A mere 50 crew members and dozens of probe class droids survived the impact and the cold waters of the deep ocean where they crashed. Andarius lost a lot of good comrades that day. After some time, what could be salvaged from the wreckage was taken to a small, nearby island and a makeshift fleet beacon was pieced together. Andarius spent hours scanning and transmitting his thoughts on the thing for days on end as a camp was erected, shelters constructed, food gathered and dead were given proper funerary rites.

54 – One Last Message

Finally, after nearly a month, when Andarius had all but given up hope he briefly heard his brother’s voice on the fleet beacon. In between bursts of static and garbled messages Andarius was able to ascertain that the fleet had managed to defeat the attacking Fellowship of Darkness fleet and were in route to a nearby space station to make repairs to the damaged vessels and tend to the wounded. Atahnis vowed to return to rescue his brother and the surviving Valosani crew as soon as he was able to gain access to an intact vessel, crew and supplies. Then the static and noise took over again and Andarius has not been able to contact the fleet since.

By this time it has been many more decades. Did his brother try to rescue him and become lost in the Rétglainn Occulti too? Was there another attack and has Atahnis been killed? Did fleet command decide that the risk was too great and refuse to requisition a vessel, crew and supplies for a rescue mission into the Rétglainn Occulti? Due its infamous reputation of being a place that no one returns from, this seemed a likely possibility. To this day, Andarius still wonders and still tries when he can, to reach anyone on the fleet beacon. Occasionally brief contacts are made. But so far, none with Atahnis or the Valosani fleet.

55 – Space Station in The End

“I suppose that brings up near enough to the present time that we can discuss anything further vocally.”, I heard Andarius say while I felt as though I was just waking up from a dream. What a ride that was! “So, how did this space station get here?”, I finally asked. “I am in the process of building it.”, Andarius replied. “You see, out here in space, or, as the Terrans tend to refer to it, The End dimension, Donn has little influence because he has very little from which to drawn the psychic energy he needs to control others. Psychic energy is raised when large numbers of sentient beings believe in a concept or a thing.”

“Out here, in the space between the worlds, within the Rétglainn Occulti, the only sentient beings are the creatures we know only as The Endermen. Although we don’t understand their language or manner of communication. We do know, they hold no concept of Donn or perhaps even gods in their culture. They do utilize psychic energy to teleport themselves from place to place though. But they don’t appear to produce anything Donn is capable of harnessing to establish a foothold out here. Therefore, my plan is to build an ark of sorts. It will be an overworld colony capable of holding farms, livestock, machinery and only some sentient beings.”, he continued.

56 – Supply Lines

“We have to be careful of which sentient beings we choose because if we get a significant population of beings who provide the psychic energies which Donn can manipulate then he could gain a foothold here. But, come what may, this ark project should provide us with renewable and sustainable materials enough to continue our efforts against Donn on New Caledonia and even if he manages to establish his self on Hy-Brasil as well. It is my hope, that with enough of these colonies stretching between Hy-Brasil and New Caledonia that we can turn the tide of the war effort on New Caledonia.”, Andarius sighed deeply.

“As things stand currently, Donn is in near complete control of that planet. But we fight on. Life always finds a way.”, I could feel the sense of hope that the Valosan felt. He was filled with determination. Gregor was meanwhile strolling around the primary platform of the station and observing the fish, plants and coral within the aquarium which wrapped around the outside of the walls. You could almost forget that you was floating in space while you were here. Gregor seemed so out of place though, dressed in his medieval garments on a high tech station floating in space. But, at the same time, he seemed so comfortable and at peace too.

57 – Those Guys Again

Outside one of the hatches, I could see a long walkway which connected the space station, if only temporarily, to a nearby asteroid. The stone had a pale, yellow hue and there were plots of land with trees here and there upon it. Some, like normal trees with leaves and wood. But others were purple and rather cactus like in appearance. With large, purple and white blooms in the tops on most of them. Several of the tall, thin, black creatures like the one who attacked me in the village at Nova Falias also wandered around on the surface of the asteroid.

“What keeps the, Endermen I think you called them, from coming onto your space station?”, I inquired of Andarius. “Ah, well you see, while the Endermen are a rather pesky lot when it comes to my efforts out here, I have ways of dealing with them. They are very curious about several of the naturally occurring items I bring over from the surface of the planet and they have a bad habit of taking samples of said items without asking first. But, for all of their apparent intelligence, they don’t seem to have mastered the skill of simply ducking.”, Andarius made a sound which I can only guess was a chuckle of some sort.

58 – Pest Control Measures

“If you make your ceilings low enough, they simply will not come in.”, he revealed. “Also there are certain things they are repulsed by, water being one of them. Glass, carpet and other things seem to work as well.” Then it dawned on me. So that’s why that one in the village couldn’t seem to get to me even though it was so angry and seemed to want to attack me so badly. The house I ran into had a low ceiling as well as carpet. The enderman could not get in. Ha ha!

“Oh my goodness. What an odd thing and so useful to know. So, you can colonize as much space as you need out here and not have to worry about the Endermen much as long as you build in such a way that they can’t get in.”. I was still wrapping my head around the realization that here was a creature which apparently had some form of sentience, a language and the ability to move itself about through teleportation. But something as simple as a low ceiling could keep it at bay. “Also, you say water is repellent to them? But don’t they need water to live?”, I inquired.

Go To Part 2 —->>>


In case it isn’t clear from appearances. The blue text is me thinking to myself whereas the black text outside of quotation marks is more of a narration of the story. At least, that’s my intent.

My character in this story has a spawn point down the path from the castle in Nova Falias when he first arrives. But the standard spawn point for the world where Nova Falias exists is actually in the city of N’Aur on another continent to the south of Nova Falias. How can this be? Well, just as the gods apparently set up a special portal for my character to bring him to the Rétglainn Occulti, so too, they must have established a special spawnpoint for him. At least, this is how the inhabitants of Nova Falias would interpret it. Others, of the more technological leaning communities might have other ideas.


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