My Rétglainn Occulti Story Part 2

Valosani Specter
Valosani Specter

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Table of Contents

1 – Touring The Space Station

“Apparently not.”, Andarius responded. “While we don’t know everything about Enderman physiology, they appear to be a life form based on chemical reactions that are non water based. Perhaps evolving in a region where it is too cold for water to be in its fluid state.” Andarius paused, almost as if he was receiving a message that only he could hear. Then he said “Forgive me my new friend, but I have some matters I need to discuss with Gregor for awhile. Please, help yourself to look around at the facilities. If you get lost or need assistance, one of the service droids will, very likely, be able to see to your needs.”

“Just be careful not to push any buttons or levers that look like they might do anything other than open a door or turn on lights and don’t step off the edge because it’s a very long fall.”, I swear, he winked, although, I didn’t see an eyelid move. With that, he turned and pushed a button on a console and the deck was filled with music. Valosani music? Maybe. If I were to compare it to anything I had heard before though, it quite resembled the Electro Swing music that had a surge of popularity on earth in the late twentieth to early twenty-first century.

2 – Crops In Space

He and Gregor took a walk down a corridor that led to another section while I browsed the main deck. The aquarium that surrounded the deck was a remarkable site. There were several identifiable species from earth. I saw cod, salmon, tropical fish, kelp, sea grass and even sea turtles swimming in the waters. Wondering how they may have been transported here, I ended up answering my own question. Probably, the same way as the people I suppose. A temporary scaffolding lead down to a lower level so I decided to go have a look and found that it was an agricultural deck still under construction.

I found a low ceiling, just high enough for me to stand under without hitting my head which was apparently engineered for Enderman suppression. I’m sure Andarius would have to duck his head. Torches had been placed in the ground here and there, I suppose to provide light and heat. A circular deck was divided into four quarters with one dedicated to wheat, another to potatoes, one to carrots and then a crop I couldn’t identify. Here and there some plots appeared to be dedicated to water which I guess irrigated the crops nearby. Droids were working on the outer sections of the deck, still installing walls of glass and support structures. Then, it occurred to me.

3 – Air In Space?

We are out in space and I have no space suit on. Yet, there is air to breathe and it is not nearly absolute zero degrees as one might expect. How is that possible?There is an atmosphere throughout the Rétglainn Occulti sector which is suitable to most carbon based, water composed life forms.” a voice responded to the question I thought to myself. “What was that?”, I asked. “I said, an atmosphere exists throughout the Rétglainn Occulti sector which is suitable to most carbon based, water composed life forms.“, the voice said again. Only this time, I heard it with my ears. It was one of the droids.

“Forgive me for reading your thoughts. I know it’s not protocol for your species. I was only trying to be helpful.”, it added. “Not at all.”, I said. “But, how did you…?” “Among the Valosani, telepathic communication is the norm while vocal communication is usually reserved for ceremonial purposes. It is more efficient and less prone to errors in understanding. Therefore, all artificial intelligence mechanisms produced by the Valosani are designed to read brainwave patterns and recognize thoughts before they are rendered into speech. It’s rather difficult to explain without a full course in psionic smithing I’m afraid.”, the droid responded.

4 – Interesting Characteristics

Well, this was an interesting development indeed. Machines that read thoughts and are capable of telepathic communication. I know that human civilization was just touching on similar technologies around my time on earth. But nothing nearly this advanced existed yet, that I knew of. Only in science fiction perhaps. “So, there is no need for space suits, life support systems or airlocks here?”, I couldn’t contain my bewilderment at this point. “No, none whatsoever. Although, no one is quite sure why. It is just one of the many strange phenomena that this sector is known for.”, the droid responded.

As I was looking around near the outer perimeter of the agricultural deck I could just barely make out a large, spherical object in the distance off of one side of the space station. “Is that the planet I see in the distance over there?”, I inquired. “No, that is a place that is an artifact left by the ancients. A mysterious race of beings who apparently once had a civilization spanning the known galaxy and left mysterious ruins like that as well as complete cities, machines which purpose we do not know and other artifacts in places one wouldn’t even expect to find life.”

5 – Lost Civilization

“They existed thousands of years ago in relation to your earth based method of time keeping, it is said.”, the droid responded rather matter-of-factly. “Has anyone gone to it and explored it?”, I asked. “Oh yes, Andarius and a few others have been there. It is a hollow sphere made of a translucent material which is impossible to break by most methods. However, if you have the right sequence of code stones in your possession you are able to teleport within it. But, like most artifacts left by the ancients, nothing inside there made much sense. No one knows how any of it is supposed to work.”, the droid responded almost despondently.

“Could it have anything to do with why the Rétglainn Occulti sector is the way it is?”, I pressed on. “That is a theory that many people hold. No one knows for sure. This particular artifact is not like any others that have been found from that civilization. It could be what makes the atmosphere sustainable for life here. But we do not know.”, the droid replied.

6 – Back On Hy-Brasil

Unbeknownst to me at this time, but I would learn later, a lone Gorg had been living alone, as a hermit for quite sometime somewhere far outside of SpawnTown. He had painstakingly planted and tended a grove of spruce trees around his den and placed signs up in the Terran Common tongue warning any who happened to come near the thick circle of trees that surrounded his place to go away and not tread any further. It was unusual for a Gorg to choose solitude. They are pack creatures by nature. But Grkyl was different from most Gorgs. He had been to SpawnTown only occasionally since settling in his den out in the wild.

Once, to purchase practice dummies from Ba’khar, the retired Valosani warrior who now sold small arms and appliances for income. He would sell to most anyone and asked no questions. This was exactly what Grkyl liked in a weapons dealer. He purchased three of the dummies and took them back to his place where he honed his unarmed combat skills for several months then traveled to an old, abandoned mansion to the west of SpawnTown. A Warlord of Donn had taken up residence in the mansion and was amassing a force of Resurrected Adherents to invade the overworld. Grkyl had heard rumors of this while visiting SpawnTown and overhearing a conversation between The Crone and Jundran.

7 – Gorg Matters

Jundran was a Jungle Gorg who remained on post above the cobblestone pyramid structure that served as a community storage warehouse. There, he collected remains of fallen Gorgs which were often found by adventurers while they were out exploring. Kysh, his pack leader, assigned Jundran this duty so that he could properly bury the remains later. Donn and his forces caused many Gorgs to die, needlessly, in battle. Grkyl figured it was time that Donn feel the pain of loss for a change. After many months of training alone he felt ready to carry out his plan.

Grkyl got to the mansion and found other Gorgs were also there to seek out the warlord. One from the desert, another from the waters and still another from a snowy biome far away. Another came from the underworld itself, Donn’s own dimension, commonly called the nether. This was a basalt delta Gorg and he knew the weaknesses of Donn’s Resurrected Adherents after a lifetime of fighting them in their own dimension. Grkyl felt good to be among other Gorgs to fight as a pack after so much time in solitude. They entered the mansion and found that, indeed it had been occupied by the undead.

8 – Hunting Down The Warlord

There were Dark Priests using magical attacks and Resurrected Adherents with their diamond armor and enchanted swords. But these were no match for the fighting prowess of the Gorg pack. With massive paws the Gorg punched the adherents and shattered armor and bones. The Dark Priests summoned vexes to drive the Gorg away but teeth and claws swiped them from the air. The Gorgs devoured the priests and made their way up the stairs seeking the Warlord Of Donn in his chamber on the top floor. “Come puny servant of Donn! Do not hide in your chamber. Fight us now!” Grkyl shouted as the pack searched room after room.

Finally, the warlord appeared and summoned his skeletal minions to fight alongside him. “Hahahah! I will crush you, fool!”, the warlord shouted. “We will see.”, Grkyl snarled back. The pack tore into the skeletal minions while Grkyl focused on the Warlord. Punching him repeatedly then dodging as the warlord struck back with his great sword. Then another voice joined the battle. “Are ya looking for a fight then?! Well, have a go at me!”, a red haired human introduced his self as Finnegan and he too began fighting off minions as well as striking at the warlord whenever an opportunity presented itself.

9 – Battle With The Warlord

“Who was this guy and where did he come from?”, Grkyl thought to his self as he continued to deliver punches to the warlord’s face then dodge back. It didn’t matter, because in that instant the warlord hit Finnegan with his wither attack. The human’s face went pale and black veins began to show through his skin. He was coughing and visibly sick but kept fighting to the end. Finnegan delivered one last blow to the warlord’s head with his sword before falling to the floor and his head popped off. The Saltwater Gorg and Desert Gorg looked at one another and shrugged. Then they dove back into the melee.

Another Dark Priest appeared from down the hallway and conjured up more vexes while the Warlord summoned more skeletal minions. This complicated things a bit. But the Gorgs pressed on and continued the fight, although they were bleeding and tired. This was for their fallen pack members. For their home dens. Also, for the honor of their ancestors! While the rest of the pack fought off the vexes and minions Grkyl delivered the killing blow to the Warlord. The body fell into a pile of bones on the floor and one golden, enchanted crown remained floating.

The pack agreed, this was Grkyl’s kill and Grkyl’s loot. They placed the crown on his head and all began to feast on the essence that remained. When they were all healed Grkyl led the pack on a long journey back to his den where they would prepare for the next battle and other projects. There was no time to celebrate this victory because there was still much work to do. But, the pack will always prevail. It is the way of the Gorg. Strength in numbers.

10 – Back To The Space Station

While Gregor and Andarius discussed whatever it was they were discussing I continued my self guided tour of the space station while occasionally chatting with one droid or another who were working on the construction, crop maintenance and other activities. The Valosani technology was definitely impressive and they seemed to have a great grasp on balancing nature with technology. This got me to thinking of what Gregor told me of earth’s history (my future on my own timeline) and how one civilization embraced and utilized technology but seemingly to the detriment of the majority of the population. The lives led by humans under the Terran Cyberocracy sounded like a form of slavery after all.

So Gregor’s people, as a result, shunned all technology and believed it to be a precursor to tyranny and a dystopian society. But Andarius’ people, the Valosani, found a way to use technology to benefit their society and make like better for their people. Could it be that the machines themselves were not the problem but the people who were in control of the machine? It certainly seemed to be the case from my perspective. Technology and magic are both tools. Neither is inherently good or bad. It’s just a matter of who is wielding it and how they are using it.

11 – Who Wields The Power?

Although, Gregor describes the Terran Cyberocracy society as one in which all humans adhere to the same rules and lifestyles set forth by the machines and that the machines are devoid of desires and passions for control or power. They are only programmed to make the most just, benevolent decisions for the betterment of humankind. But, I would be willing to bet, there is a secret society behind the curtain of the machines. A small group of humans who secretly enjoy a luxurious and lavish lifestyle hidden away from the rest of the humans. As usual, throughout human history, a small group lives a life of excess off of the backs of the majority.

It seems that the Valosani found a way that is truly egalitarian through this path of Hak’ai. Perhaps the Terrans could learn a thing or two from them? Although it a simple life, these people of Gregor’s tribe who follow the ways of the Temple of the Ancient Fire as he calls them, do seem to be in balance and harmony with their world. Albeit without the benefits that technology can provide. Perhaps their magic makes up for that? I haven’t observed enough yet to know though. Far be it from me to tell others how they should live though. If they are happy, then that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

12 – Differences In Cultures

I notice, both cultures, the Terrans and the Valosani, prefer to incorporate some nature into their architecture. At the castle on Nova Falias and the village there were several trees and vines and plants growing seemingly for purely decorative purposes. To give an ambience of closeness with nature. Not all of the plants were purely there to serve a purpose such as providing food or materials. A purely utilitarian society, such as the Terran Cyberocracy that Gregor describes, would not reserve space and resources for things just because they are attractive or make people feel at home. It would be seen as wasteful and inefficient. But, is efficiency alone a key to a good life?

Sentient beings are not mere machines. Appreciation of art, music and the beauty of life are part of what separates true intelligence from artificial intelligence I believe. Here, I’ve met my first alien being and I find that he, too, has an appreciation for music and natural beauty. Of course, he’s also spent several decades in the company of humans. So, how much of that is from his own culture and how much of it could have rubbed off on him from the humans he’s been keeping company with. Also, are there other Valosani here? So far I’ve only met Andarius and his many droids.

13 – Survivors?

I know in the thoughts he shared with me there were fifty or so survivors of the crash on New Caledonia when his group first arrived in the damaged section of the flagship. Did the rest of them make it through the Great Cataclysm war and the current war with Donn? Are there more of them somewhere? “Yes, there are.”, the droid again apologized for eavesdropping on my thoughts. “Although there were a few casualties, most of the Valosani survivors remain to this day and most of them are on Hy-Brasil in scattered abodes and colonies here and there. “, it continued.

“Some still work on New Caledonia. There have even been some children born. Also, others have arrived. A few here and there. But enough that the population today numbers around a hundred by current estimates. Not many compared to other races in the Rétglainn Occulti but then, the average Valosan likes for around 700 of your earth years.”, the droid concluded. “Seven hundred years?”, I said, rather astounded. “That’s a long time to live for sure. Do they remain fertile for most of that time? How may children does the average Valosan have in their lifetime?”, I asked.

14 – Do They Lay Eggs?

“Like your own race, Valosan females are capable of gestating a child roughly once per year. They tend to be fertile from the age of about 50 of your earth years until the age of about 400 years. A child is considered to be of age and ready for adulthood at around 60 of your earth years. Andarius is about 500 years old. It is not uncommon for a Valosani nest to have many fathers and mothers who rear a family of several dozen children on their homeworld where the population is much higher.”, the droid replied. “How interesting.”, I remarked. “You said, nest. Do they lay eggs?”, I inquired.

I had no idea a droid could laugh. “No, they are mammals, like your own species. But, rather than a family with one mother and father, their culture finds it more fulfilling to live in polyamorous arrangements which are called nests. Multiple mothers and fathers caring for the children collectively. Like an extended family of sorts.”

“Do they lay eggs indeed!”, Andarius said laughing as he and Gregor came walking through the field of wheat behind us. “I’m sorry my kid, I couldn’t help but overhear as we were coming to tell you that some matters have come up that Gregor and I will need to attend to so, if you don’t mind, we will be leaving you in the very capable hands of The Crone for awhile and she will help you to get started familiarizing yourself with the planet Hy-Brasil.”

15 – Change Of Plans

“Okay, I guess. Is there anything I can help with?”, I asked, not quite sure what to make of things at the moment. “Not right now, I am afraid.” Gregor chimed in. “But, it will be good for you to try to become as familiar as possible with our lands, our culture and our people in the coming weeks. Because, once you are experienced in the ways of the Rétglainn Occulti, then we will be calling upon you for assistance I am sure. Big things are on the horizon.”, the two began to reach out to clasp hands with one another and myself.

Then Gregor looked me in the eye one more time and said, “Oh, one other piece of advice I might pass on. We of the Temple of the Ancient Fire have a saying that only light can drive out the darkness. Meditate on that. It has many layers of meaning which will prove useful to you.”, then Gregor grabbed my left wrist and Andarius my right as they clasped their other two hands together, saying with their minds “Slash Escape.

In an instant, we were all three back in the large hollow tree where the others seemed to stand and wait while people passed through going from place to place. “Hello dears!”, The Crone greeted us as soon as we arrived. “My sweet Ernmas, might I ask a favor of you?”, Gregor asked while giving her a big hug. “Of course sweetie, what is it?”, she inquired of him. “Andarius and I have some matters to attend to on New Caledonia Phase 2 and I would like for our new friend here to receive the best care and attention to get his start in life here on Hy-Brasil. Would you mind helping him out?”, Gregor explained.

16 – Happy Trails To Y’all

“Oh, well naturally. I would be remiss in my duties to do otherwise.”, she said in her kindly grandmother way with eyes that seemed to always be smiling. “Thank you, my friend. I promise to take good care of your sweetie.”, Andarius said to The Crone with a wink. “You better.”, she retorted with a smile. “Or else I’ll have your hide!”, she winked back. I’m not entirely sure if she was joking. We all said our goodbyes after which Andarius and Gregor walked over to the guy who was dressed all in white and said “Teleport.” to which he responded “Have a pleasant journey.” and they vanished.

“Well dear, it looks like Gregor has you fairly well fit for starter gear but why not have a look around in the community storage area anyway because there might be some items there which will be useful to you.”, The Crone said while looking me over. “Uhm, community storage? Where might that be?”, I asked, still lost and a bit confused. “Oh! That reminds me. Most of our new arrivals usually show up here in what we like to call ‘Tour Mode’. A bit of a device that Andarius cooked up to help take the load off of myself and some of the others helping new people get acquainted.”, The Crone said, still smiling as always.

17 – Learning My Way Around

“Try this for me. Think deeply on the words ‘slash tour’ and see if anything happens.”, she ordered. I did as instructed “Slash tour.” “Tour mode active.“, a disembodied voice said pleasantly in my head. “I think it worked.”, I told The Crone. “Oh good. Now as you walk around, it should speak to you and tell you a bit about where you are and what you can do there. If you get tired of it chattering in your head just think the same words, ‘slash tour’, again and it will deactivate.”, The Crone instructed.

I nodded my head and began to walk out of the exit of the tree. The voice began telling me things about the Mail Room ahead of me to the right and the Spawn Hub building ahead and to my left. Then it said I could find the community storage in a cobblestone pyramid structure to my right and behind me.Indeed, there was a huge, MesoAmerican looking pyramid structure next to some smaller terracotta buildings. I walked towards a set of stairs which appeared to lead up to an entrance to the pyramid. Inside were a lot of chests with labels on them indicating the sort of items contained inside.

18 – Community Storage

Well, mostly. Some of the items seemed out of place. Or, at least to me they did. Perhaps I still needed to learn more about how things are organized around here. I looked inside chest after chest though and saw hundreds upon hundreds of the small items Gregor had shown me before at Nova Falias along with some I had never seen before. Most of them were a manageable size when held in my hand or tossed on the ground but if I placed them on the ground or elsewhere purposefully, they took on a larger size. I spent some time in there experimenting with things.

I learned a bit about which tools returned which items to their natural state the fastest or at all. A few times I think I accidentally broke some items into other component parts. But luckily someone had placed a barrel in the center which said to place items into it if you didn’t know where they go. Thank the gods for that! Or whomever. I looked outside and noticed that it had gotten dark and I was beginning to feel sleepy. What was it the voice said about the Spawn Hub building? Something about free beds available I think.

19 – Sleepy Time

I made my way back down the stairs, past the tree where The Crone, The Teleporter guy and the green robed guy with the books still stood. Into the green and white building. The voice came back into my head and welcomed me to the Spawn Hub, then explained something about crafting stations, signs with items for sale, games of chance and, oh yes, beds. To my right I saw a large map on the wall and several beds in a row with barrels next to them. I laid down in one and instantly fell asleep. In what felt like seconds the sun was up again and I felt fully refreshed.

Amazing! I wish I could sleep so well back home. It still felt like there was more to see back at the community storage building but as I exited the Spawn Hub building the voice came back into my head beckoning me to go into the Mail Room straight ahead and pick myself out a mailbox in case anyone needed to leave items for me or if I wanted to leave something for others. So, I did as instructed and walked down the path where a sign on one of the terracotta buildings said it was a Post Office. Inside I found barrels with a gruesome labeling system of disembodied heads to indicate the owners.

20 I Do What The Voices Tell Me To Do

What is wrong with these people? I guess you get used to it eventually. The voice in my head instructed me to think ‘slash myhead’ to get a copy of my own head to use as a label for a barrel that was unclaimed. Okay, so the voices in my head are instructing me to cut my own head off essentially. Yeah, that’s not crazy at all. Anyway, I thought “Slash myhead.” and indeed, my own lifeless head stared up at me from my own hand. I had a sick feeling in my stomach but I placed it on an empty barrel I found anyway and the head seemed to look more alive once I placed it there.

Well, that’s still uncanny but it’s done I guess. I decided to go scrounge around some more in community storage because I felt like I was learning a lot there. As I left the mail room though, I noticed another entrance, lower to the ground on this side of the pyramid. So, I went in to have a look. Inside was probably the largest vending machine I had ever seen in my life full of a lot more items. Colorful items of different types. There were concrete blocks, glass blocks, panes, blocks of wool, various colors of terracotta and more. Signs posted next to each item indicated a price per stack.

21 – Hooman Words Hard For Me

But, I didn’t have any money. So, I made a mental note of the place and found my way back upstairs to the place I had been last night. As I was exploring the various barrels and trying out the multitude of things I found within I heard what sounded like a low, grumbling growl above me. It didn’t sound menacing necessarily. But it didn’t sound exactly inviting either. My curiosity was getting the better of me so I decided to go back outside, walk up the stairs further where another entrance near the top of the pyramid opened up.

Inside, I saw a large, green, scaly creature with a wide snout and claws. I wasn’t sure whether to approach it or run. But, before I could decide, it turned around and made eye contact. It sniffed the air and licked its chops. I was about to grab for my sword to defend myself when it said “Star good hooman. Make this nice home for me. Before I just stand under big tree.” “Uhm, what? I stammered. “Gorg, no understand that.”, the creature replied. Well, the thing spoke a language I at least understood. Broken though it may be. I could only conclude it was one of the sentient creatures Gregor and Andarius had spoken of.

22 – Name Jundran

Oh yes, it said “Gorg”, that is one of the sentient races they mentioned. He resembled some of the ones I saw at N’Aur before Gregor brought me here. I had never met a Gorg before so I relaxed my arm that was still tensed and ready to grab for my sword a moment ago and instead simply said. “Hi.” “Hi, Cianaodh. Hooman words hard for me.” It knew my name! “You are a Gorg? I have not met one of your kind before.”, I told him. “I am Gorg. My pack leader Kysh. Pack live in jungle. I wait here for pack leader to return. Gorg not name. Gorg what I am. Name Jundran.”, he replied.

23 – Lonesome Gorg

I wasn’t sure why it thought I felt like I believed Gorg to be his name. But, he did say that human words were hard for him. So there are bound to be some communication gaps I suppose. After chatting with the Gorg for awhile I was able to ascertain that he was posted there by his pack leader, Kysh with the duty of receiving and guarding remains of Gorgs who had fallen in battle against the forces of Donn so that they could receive proper burial rites later when Kysh or one of his emissaries would come to retrieve them. He misses his pack because by nature these Gorg not solitary creatures.

He told me about another Gorg, named Grkyl who was different from most Gorgs. Grkyl, apparently enjoys solitude and lived as a hermit for quite some time alone in the woods somewhere south or west from here. He appreciated me coming to speak with him for awhile because, even though I was a human, it was good to communicate with another sentient being once in awhile. Despite their fierce appearances, with sharp claws and teeth as well as thick, scaly armored skin, these Gorgs seemed to be quite social creatures once you get to know them. I promised to come visit with him again in the future.

24 – Learning The Ways Of This Strange Place

I decided to go check in with The Crone as I thought of some new questions I wanted to ask her. “Hello dear, are you settling in okay here on Hy-Brasil? Have you picked out any jobs yet?”, she asked upon my arrival. “No, I’m still broke and unemployed at the moment. But I will visit the jobs wall soon and see what I can sign up for. I have been learning my way around at the community storage building, the post office and the Spawn Hub since yesterday though. I met a Gorg named Jundran on top of the pyramid.”, I replied.

“Oh yes, Jundran, a kind soul he is. I feel sorry for him sometimes, being stuck up there and not getting many visitors. You know, his kind are very social creatures. Even more so than we humans.”, she stated. “Yes, he told me. Although, he said there is one that he knows of who is different. One who likes his solitude.”, I offered. “Ah, that would be Grkyl. Yes, he’s a bit of an odd one that one is. Still, a good fellow. He comes to town occasionally for supplies and trading.”, The Crone nodded as she spoke.

25 – When And Where?

“But, I was curious about something else. When we traveled by way of the machine blocks with buttons and using the thought ‘commands’ I think is the word I heard Andarius say once. Gregor told me we sometimes travel from different worlds and times doing so. Now, when I first arrived at Nova Falias, Gregor said that is on the planet New Caledonia. Then this is the planet Hy-Brasil but he also mentioned it is in a different time from New Caledonia. Then both Gregor and Andarius said they would be going to New Caledonia 2 for business that they needed to see to. Is that a different place than New Caledonia?”, I asked.

“Not a different place, but a different time.”, The Crone corrected. “You see dear, where we are now, on Hy-Brasil is what we consider the current time on the timeline. With combined Gorg and Valosani technology and, although Andarius and Kysh don’t believe it, a little magic from the Tuatha De Danann, we are able to travel back in time and forward only to a certain point. This point. We can not travel to the future from this point because the future has not been created yet. So, this is now.”, she paused and took a breath.

26 – How They Got Here

“Where Nova Falias is, on the planet we call New Caledonia Phase 1 or sometimes simply New Caledonia, that is around one hundred earth years ago. When we travel to New Caledonia Phase 2, where Andarius and Gregor have gone to for now, that is the same planet but only about 20 earth years ago. After an event which we call The Great Cataclysm which remade the planet almost as if it were new. We rebuilt our civilization there. However, Donn and his armies opened the rift once again and invaded the overworld there. This time it happened too quickly for our people to respond.”, she took another breath.

“As luck would have it, around this time Andarius spotted another life sustaining planet in the mists of the Rétglainn Occulti. Because it was hidden and seemed to vanish then reappear, the people decided to call this world Hy-Brasil after a vanishing island in Irish folklore. Andarius made arrangements to evacuate as many civilians as possible from New Caledonia Phase 2 to Hy-Brasil ahead of Donn’s advancing armies while Kysh and his Gorgs along with Valosani Specters held off the advance for as long as they could.”, she took a sip of tea and nodded before continuing.

27 – Here and Now

“So, basically, Gregor and Andarius have traveled to New Caledonia 20 years in the past to try to stop something Donn is trying to do before he can do it. Following so far?”, she asked. “I think so.”, I replied. “If you ask the nice Teleporter guy over there in white he will send you to our transportation hub. There you will find quick teleport buttons to New Caledonia Phase 1 and New Caledonia Phase 2. There is also a portal in there with warning sign leading to New Caledonia Phase 2 – Donn War. That is the current state, our timeline, of New Caledonia. It is in a state of anarchy.”, The Crone shuddered at the thought of it.

“Okay, so there are basically only two planets that are habitable. But one of them, we can access in three different periods of time. Right?”, I said. “That is correct dear. Hy-Brasil only exists in the here and now. But New Caledonia exists now, 20 or so earth years ago and 100 or so earth years ago. That’s because of time and space distortions caused by the rift which Donn opened up. But, at the same time, Kysh and Andarius were able to create access points on the timeline because of the rift.”, she answered.

“Kysh also created digital simulations of the worlds which we access in a safe manner, so as not to give Donn a direct portal into this world. It’s all quite complicated.”, The Crone added with her ever present smile.

28 – Virtual Reality?

“Digital simulations?”, I felt quite puzzled. “Oh yes, very much like the VR technology of your own time but much more advanced. Kysh collected data pertaining to every aspect of the worlds at the point in time in which we had access to then recreated them visually. Most don’t know this because you are in a sort of sleep state during the simulated teleportation process. But when you travel to New Caledonia Phase 1 and New Caledonia Phase 2 through the transportation hub you are actually sent to a ship in orbit where one of Kysh’s technicians hook you up into a simulation chamber which recreates all of the sensations of actually being there.”, she explained.

“If you have items in your special, world traveler backpack you can even bring items into and out of the simulation as they are synthesized on arrival and departure. So, you can physically bring things into and out of the simulated worlds. But, they are completely digital representations. Donn, as far as we know, can not directly access them and therefore use them as a pathway to Hy-Brasil. Although he has been making inroads through the nether.”, she paused. “Nether?”, I asked. “Yes, or underworld as we also call it more often than not. Anyway, the ship in space is an added layer of security.”, she replied.

29 – Is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy?

That way, if somehow Donn’s forces are able to breach the simulations then they may only compromise the ship, but not the planet.”, she took another sip of tea. “But, I arrived at New Caledonia Phase 1 and met Gregor there. Was that the simulation or the actual world?”, I was quite puzzled as usual since coming to this place. “Ah, see this is where the lines between the real and the unreal get blurred. The answer to your question depends a great deal on who you ask.”, The Crone took a deep breath.

“Andarius may believe his old friend Gregor now only exists as a digital simulation of his old self. I, on the other hand, and Gregor for that matter, believe that the gods intervene with their magic to fill in where the technology leaves off. Gregor believes he is real and I do too for that matter. But Andarius is skeptical. In any event, he is happy to interact with his friend in whatever capacity is available. So, he accepts what is and agrees to disagree.”, she smiled again.

30 – Signing Up For Jobs

“I see. Well, thank you again dear lady. As always, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. I think I will go visit the jobs wall now and look around.”, I said in parting. “Come again any time you would like to chat dear, you can always reach me by thinking ‘slash Crone’.”, she replied and made herself another cup of tea. The jobs wall had several options to choose from and I wasn’t sure where to begin. According to the signs posted I could sign up for as many as three jobs to begin with. The employers would pay me as I worked on a credit system of some sort.

I decided I would probably be doing a fair amount of exploring so I chose the Explorer job. I had long considered myself something of a multipotentialite so the idea of having several jobs at once seemed fitting to me. It seemed logical that I would be doing more hunting as I explored because I needed to eat somehow and I had long had an interest in foraging and growing things so I picked farming as well. Apparently, I would be paid for each as I did them. I guess the ones who are paying just know somehow. Do they have spies? I don’t know. Something else to ask The Crone about later I guess.

31 – Having A Look Around

I saw what looked like a large hangar complex to the south of me while standing next to the jobs wall and a giant sword plunged into the ground to my west. I noticed the interior of the sword contained the same wavy, purple light as the portal structure Gregor took me to at N’Aur before we came here. A guard, dressed in armor patrolled outside of this portal. I tried to ask him what it was for but he only told me his name was Fergus and that he was on duty so had no time to talk right now.

32 – Into The Mines

To the south there was a large, old fashioned water mill looking structure over a mine entrance. I decided to go have a look there. As I ventured down into the mineshaft it was apparent that this path had been tread by many before me and thankfully it was well lit with torches and lanterns. The deeper into the shaft I went the more I saw smaller, narrow, branches dug out in various directions. Sometimes I could hear something bubbling beyond the stone walls and occasionally the growl of what I now had come to know were zombies wandering in the darkness. I readied my bow in case something jumped out of one of the passages to attack me.

Why did I come down here again? I didn’t even sign up for the miner job. Oh, I guess I am technically exploring though, right? “Well, not necessarily.”, Andarius startled me and I almost whirled around and shot him with an arrow before realizing it was him. “What are you doing here?”, I asked, still startled but relieved. “Gregor was worried about you so I told him I would come check on you. I apologize if I startled you. Ordinarily I would ask first before teleporting. It is good manners after all. But I sometimes forget. I noticed that you were thinking that you would get paid for exploring here though…”, Andarius replied.

33 – Exploring Explained

“Yes, isn’t this exploring?”, I asked. “Well, yes, it is, but only for your sake. Not for the sake of what the employers are looking for though. The employers designed the explorer job mostly as a collective mapping resource. We still don’t know a lot about the surface of Hy-Brasil because we only began colonizing it about twenty of your earth years ago and most of that effort has been in establishing villages and trade centers. Also, the surface of the worlds are in a state of flux. Changes occur all of the time. So, the employers need fresh maps. When you go to places where others have not been, you are providing much needed data.”, Andarius explained.

“But, places like this have been heavily traveled already and are therefore marked as non payment zones. The employers simply don’t pay for exploring heavily traveled places.”, he concluded. “Who are the employers?”, I asked. “Basically a collective of governing bodies and business administrators who keep things running and make the big plans for development. We sometimes refer to them as ‘the server’ because they serve the community.”, Andarius explained. “Okay, how do they know where I have been and what I have been doing. Are they spying on me?”, I challenged.

34 – The Server

“Well, not actively usually. But, yes, in a way, they do. The server knows where you have been and what you have been doing. But only for the purposes of keeping things running smoothly and seeing to it that everyone’s needs are met. They don’t follow you around every minute of every day. But, they do collect information that they need. It is to see to it that you are properly credited for the deeds that you do and that you are treated fairly. It’s sort of their job. Just as exploring is yours.”, he said.

Then he added, “If you would like to go out into the wild to explore and find things of your own think deeply on the words ‘slash rtp’ and you will teleport to a random place in the wild. But, before you do, in case no one has told you, you may also, once per earth day, think deeply on ‘slash kit new’ to receive some basic necessities provided by the server. Some of it you might not need, but some will be useful to you. Do you have a travel bed in your inventory?”

35 – Into The Wild

“Yes, I think Gregor gave me one before we left Nova Falias.”, I replied. “Good, if you need another, it will be provided in your new kit when you ask for one. Also some food, torches and other items. They are part of your compensation package so you might as well use them. If you get into trouble and want to return to SpawnTown then deep think the word ‘slash spawn’ or if you’re in another world then think ‘slash escape’ instead as ‘slash spawn’ will only take you to the spawn of the world you are in.’, Andarius instructed.

“Got it.”, I said. “Good, enjoy your journey and you know how to reach me if you need me. Safe travels human!”, he bid farewell and vanished before my eyes. I thought on the words ‘slash rtp’ as he instructed and the interior of the mineshaft began to fade away. Then, I found myself in a meadow, near a birch forest, with mountains in the distance. There were flowers in the field and I saw a couple of sheep grazing as well as a horse farther away. “Welp, guess I better get this adventure started.” I walked through the meadow and whacked at tall grass as I passed by.

36 – Exploring

I noticed that occasionally the grass would drop seeds when I did this. So, I collected these and placed them into my inventory bag. You never know when such things might come in handy after all. The sun was still high in the sky so I figured I had time to explore a bit before I needed to find a place to make camp. As I walked I occasionally heard a faint voice telling me that I had gained a certain amount of credits and experience. “Was this the server?” I could only assume so. I tried to approach the sheep but it only wandered away.

The horse seemed friendly enough but when I tried to mount it and ride it, it bucked me off. Luckily, I landed on my feet. “Oh yeah, what was that thing Andarius told me to do again?” I thought deeply on the words “slash kit new“. Then I felt my inventory bag feel a bit heavier. I peeked inside to find another set of metal armor, some loaves of bread, torches, a fishing rod, a spare bed and some tools. All in miniature form as things tended to work until they were put into use. “Okay, that’s a good start I guess.

37 – Crafty Critters

I approached the edge of the birch forest and caught a glimpse of one of those exploding moss monster creatures. I readied my bow and prepared to loose and arrow on it when it came out from behind the tree. But, what I didn’t see was. “Ouch!” A damn skeleton was spying me while I was focusing on the creeper. The arrow penetrated my armor at the shoulder and smarted pretty good. I could feel blood oozing out around the wound. No time to worry about that though. I needed to take this guy out before he got me.

But first, I dove behind a tree just in time to see moss boy come out into the open. I took my shot and he dropped into a pile of gunpowder. Now it was bonehead’s turn. But where did he go? Also why was the sun going down so quickly? The days are so much shorter here it seems. I felt like the pain in my shoulder from the arrow was easing up though and I felt a bit hungry. Again, no time for that right now. Just then, bonehead pops out from behind another tree and tried to ping me again with his arrow but missed.

Ha! My turn now. I did not miss. Just as the sun was setting my opponent fell, leaving only some bones and an arrow. I snatched them up and added them to my collection. As darkness fell, I started hearing the groans of the zombies though. Too late now, I better find shelter quickly or I will be outnumbered. I saw that I was near the foothills of the mountain so I grabbed my pickaxe from my inventory and began digging a hole into the side of rocky wall.

38 – Home Sweet Hole In The Wall

Chunks of stone came out in perfectly formed cubes. I collected these and when it was deep enough to fit myself inside I pushed in and used the cobblestones to seal up the entrance. That should keep them at bay for now, I thought. I lit a torch so I could see and decided to carve the hole out bigger so I could place a bed down for the night. “Not what I had in mind, but I guess this is camp for now.” Since I wasn’t sleepy yet I kept swinging my pickaxe and hollowing out a bigger and bigger space for my makeshift room.

Before long, I had plenty of room to set up a decent temporary base of operations. I set down my crafting table, a furnace and used some of the wood planks I had in my inventory to construct a chest to put other items in. I listened outside where I had blocked the entrance with the cobblestone and could hear the monsters wandering the terrain. It sounded like they might be fighting one another. Apparently, a thunderstorm had rolled in since I started digging my cave out. I heard several claps of thunder in a row and the baa of a sheep.

39 – Homesteading

At this point I decided to call it a night and went to bed. Almost instantly it felt like I was awake again and I could hear the pained groans of zombies burning up in the daylight outside. There was something satisfying about that sound now. Even if the smell left something to be desired. I decided that the cobblestone entrance wasn’t going to do if I continued to use this spot for awhile. I needed to see outside rather than break the blocks down and possibly walk into an ambush of oogie boos. So, I pulled out some more planks and crafted a door. Somehow I ended up with three of them by the time I was finished.

I guess I got excited or decided three doors are better than one. Anyway, I once again lofted my mighty pickaxe and broke a hole into my cobblestone wall. Before going further I took a peek out to make sure the coast was clear. It appeared to be. So, I removed the rest of the cobblestone wall and installed one of my three doors. Ah, much better. Now I can see outside before going outside. After all of this work I was so hungry I ate two loaves of bread before I even knew it. I felt much better afterwards though. “Perhaps I should try planting some of those seeds I gathered and see what they do.

40 – Old Mc Donald Had A Farm

I checked my inventory and found a hoe and an axe. Stepping outside into the birch forest I found a fairly flat space not far from my cave entrance that only needed a few trees removed. I found that the axe worked much more swiftly than I expected. “Who needs that chainsaw I used back home?” Then I took the hoe and prepared a space to plant my seeds. I placed them in the ground but before long the ground dried up and the seeds popped right back out. “What the?” Then I remembered Andarius’ crops on his space station. All of them had a block of water nearby to keep them irrigated. Apparently that’s not optional around here.

So, I took the shovel that came with my new kit and dug a hole in the center of my plot then took out the bucket of water that Gregor gave me. “Ah, so that’s what that’s for.” Then I dumped the water into the hole and used my hoe to once again till the soil. This time it looked earthy and rich so a replanted my seeds and went back inside to see what I could craft with the birch logs I ended up with. The crafting table is equipped with a recipe book that expands as acquire items, Gregor had told me.

41 – Getting Crafty

Indeed, the book showed a variety of tools and other items I could make with the items I had in my inventory. Just following the recipe, things seemed to form with ease even though my own carpentry experience was minimal at best. It felt good to make things. I found from reading some of the books I was given that if I take a few of the bones I had collected from the skeletons I have taken off of the face of the planet the crafting table can help me grind those into bonemeal. That in turn will help my plants grow faster. “Hmmmm.” I gave it a try and you know what? It worked!

I had never seen plants grow so fast. Those grass seeds grew into very nice wheat plants. What a world! I’m getting to the point that I don’t even question some of the weird stuff anymore. Earlier, while I was chopping birch trees I also cut down an oak tree that was too close to the planting site and an apple fell out of it. An apple. In an oak tree! It was tasty too. Whatever makes this place tick, whether it’s the magic of ancient gods or strange dimensional space anomalies, it has its benefits I guess.

42 – Taking A Hike

I seemed to be well set for food and wood at the moment, so I decided to have a look around the area. Up near the peak of the mountain it was snowy and there appeared to be some spruce trees growing up there. So, I started hiking up that direction for a better look. I was still receiving the periodic messages from the powers that be that I was getting paid for my activities so I figured I must be on the right track. I recall reading somewhere that a type of bush called a sweet berry tended to grow near spruce forests. So, I hoped I might be so lucky as to find some near the summit.

Curiosity was getting the better of me about how they might taste. Then I heard a growl in the woods as I neared the first outcropping where some spruce trees were growing. I readied my bow, not sure what I might encounter. Just then, a wolf leapt out and attacked a nearby sheep I had not seen. Devouring most of it right away. Somewhere, I read that if you offer the wolves here bones, it was possible to tame them and make pets of them. A little companionship and a guard dog for the camp would be quite useful. So, I dug a few bones out and slowly approached the wolf.

43 – A New Friend

At first it didn’t seem very interested. I imagined it was likely due to the fact that he had just eaten. But, I kept trying and eventually the wolf took some bones and wagged its tail then put it’s head down in a submissive stance. I think I made a new friend. There was still some usable meat and wool on the sheep carcass so I gathered what I could and placed them in my inventory for later use. I could already almost taste the fresh cooked mutton coming from the campfire later. I searched around the area some more with the wolf following along but didn’t find any sweet berry bushes.

The ground was snow covered and it was getting quite cold. Suddenly, I started sinking into the snow. Apparently I had wandered into a drift that was deeper than I had anticipated. Before I knew it I was trapped and couldn’t find my way out. The cold was intense and I was having trouble breathing. I could hear the wolf whine as it was helpless to try to save me. That’s what I get for not looking where I am walking up here I guess. The world started getting darker and I no longer felt cold.

44 – Froze to Death

In a moment, I awakened in my bed at camp where I had slept the night before in the cave I had dug out in the side of the mountain. My wolf was beside me and I was wearing the clothes I came into this place with when I fell to the ground at Nova Falias. A light blue shirt and pants with some plain leather shoes. Welp, guess I need to go back and try to get my stuff if I can find it and not get trapped in the snow again. Then I heard a voice in my head. “May I teleport to you?“, it was Gregor.

Yes, of course.” I answered and in a moment he was there. “A little birdie told me that you might be in a spot of trouble.”, Gregor said as he observed my state of affairs. “A bit, yes. I apparently froze to death in the snow on top of the mountain here and I am not sure how to get my stuff back without it happening again.”, I admitted. Ah, you’ve probably encountered powdered snow. It can be deadly if you’re not properly equipped to deal with it. Here, take these.”, he said, while handing me a pair of leather boots from his inventory bag.

45 – Snow Boots

“They will help you not to sink into the snow while you look for your things. Put them on!”, he ordered. I did as I was told and thanked him for his help. “Wait, how did you know…” I started to ask but Gregor answered before I could finish. “We are all telepathically connected here. If one of us dies, the rest of us hear about it from the universal broadcast system. Now, I must return to New Caledonia Phase 2 for now but good luck on retrieving your things. I see you’ve made a new friend.”, he added while noticing my wolf companion.

“Yes, I found him just before I perished. He’s quite loyal. Stayed by my side even as I returned here.”, I replied. “Have you named him yet?”, Gregor asked before fading away to New Caledonia 2. “Not yet, but I am thinking of calling him Kush after my dog on earth.” I sent telepathically. Hey! I didn’t realize I could do that! “A fine name indeed.“, Gregor responded. Kush and I set off back up the side of the mountain in search of my detached head which would be holding my lost items. At least it will be well preserved in the snow I guess. I chuckled to myself.

46 – On My Way To Get My Stuff Back

Suddenly, a sharp pain in my shoulder and the clatter of bones alerted me to the presence of another skeleton creature. Kush bolted off straight away to attack the undead bone monster while I readied my bow. I heard a yelp as my wolf, also was injured by an arrow from the creature. Snarling and growling, Kush leapt at and bit at the skeleton while I loosed an arrow directly for its skull. The beast fell into a pile of bones immediately. As I ran over to pick up the loose bones I noticed what looked like the top of a barrel sticking up just barely at the ground level near the base of a tree.

Hmmm. As Gregor’s villager friends might say.” After collecting the bones I went over to have a look. Indeed there was a barrel buried in the ground here with only the top at surface level. “Should I open it? Could it be a trap of some sort?” I gently pried the top open and prepared to make a dash for it in case it exploded or released something poisonous or who knows what. But inside I found a few trinkets and one tattered piece of a journal that someone had left behind. “Perhaps a previous traveler?” I took the journal out and read it what I could make out. Most of the pages were worn away and damaged.

47 – A Lost Journal

But there was this one passage which read: “In the late eighteenth century, while in hiding from his fellow French revolutionaries, the philosopher and mathematician Nicolas de Condorcet posed a question that continues to occupy scientists to this day. ‘No doubt man will not become immortal,’ he wrote in Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, ‘but cannot the span constantly increase between the moment he begins to live and the time when naturally, without illness or accident, he finds life a burden?‘”

Well, that seemed rather deep and introspective. I wonder if the person who wrote it is still around?” I couldn’t make out the signature. Melting snow had caused water damage to the cover and many of the pages. I started to feel that familiar rumbling in my stomach that reminded me that I forgot to grab some food for Kush and myself when we left camp. I guess we better hurry back up to the summit to find my stuff before it starts getting dark. We don’t want to be out here after dark without armor and weapons, that’s for sure. “Think ‘slash back’.“, Gregor’s voice reminded me telepathically. “Oh yeah! I forgot about that!”

48 – Ah, That’s Better

I did so and in no time but Kush and I arrived at the exact spot where I had succumbed to the cold within the snow and it was still, very much a cold place to be, especially without hear. Hastily I tapped by severed head and was again outfitted. I held a torch in my hand and, wearing the leather boots Gregor gave me, was able to tunnel back out to the surface into the sun rather quickly. Quickly, I retrieved some of the mutton for my wolf and some bread and cooked chicken for myself. The food was delicious and instantly I felt rejuvenated.

Thank goodness for fairy food.” I thought before I even realized what I was thinking. Well, if it is indeed the case, it’s too late to turn back now I imagine. I’m already, pretty much stuck here it seems. Just then the most gods awful smell that has ever assaulted my nostrils wafted up from somewhere nearby. “Kush, was that you? Did you fart?”, I asked my wolf. He just wagged his tail and licked his chops clean of the remaining mutton I had given him. “Egads! That dog has some deadly flatulence. Maybe we can find a way to weaponize that.

49 – Deep Thoughts Along The Trail

“Oh well, maybe that’ll keep the uglies away on our way back to camp at least.”, I told Kush as we made our way back down the side of the mountain. This time I was making it a point to not be downwind of the dog as we traveled. Along the trail as we passed a smooth outcropping of stone on the side of the mountain I saw where someone had placed a series of wooden signs which read “Every man has secrets and if he’s lucky enough to take them to the grave, that’s where they should stay.” “Hmmmm, more deep and introspective thoughts. From the same traveler who left the journal?“, I wondered.

The sun was sinking low in the sky just as I saw the faint glow of the campfire and torch above the doorway in my little hole in the wall. “Ah, here we are Kush. Home sweet home. For now at least.”, I called out to the wolf. He wagged his tail and we both went inside and shut the door behind us. “Now, no more of those stinky farts while we’re in here dude. We don’t have adequate ventilation to deal with biological warfare in these quarters.”, I told Kush, hoping that my words weren’t falling on deaf ears. He circled around twice then curled up on a rug I had placed down near the furnace.

50 – Light To Drive Out The Darkness

Ready to fall asleep I guess. I heard the noises of the undead outside near the campsite. Luckily, none of them came to the door and seemed to be content to do battle with one another. Before I knew it, I was asleep and then daylight came and with it, the sounds of the undead burning up in the daylight with exasperated groans and gasps. I remembered what Gregor told me. Something about ‘only light can drive out the darkness’. I wonder if I lit this area up around camp, perhaps the undead wouldn’t wander around so closely at night. It seemed plausible as they only seemed to come out in darkness.

So, I spent most of the day crafting lanterns and torches and placing them around in the surrounding area so everything would remain well lit at night. Another odd thing I had noticed about this place is that torches and lanterns never seemed to consume fuel. Only furnaces did while cooking or smelting. Campfires, also, would burn forever unless you took a bucket of water and put them out. Therefore, whatever torches I placed, remained there, providing light indefinitely. That was very useful indeed. Also, a little disconcerting considering all of the combustible material nearby. “I’m amazed this place doesn’t burn up.

51 – The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke

Oh, sometimes it does. But most of it is under the protection of the gods.“, Gregor, eavesdropping on my thoughts again, responded. “How are things going on New Caledonia?“, I thought back. “Not bad, my friend. Andarius has almost restored the fleet beacon to working order and if all goes well, he will be able to send his message soon. If things go as planned, it could thwart Donn’s plans of opening the rift before it happens. Keep your fingers crossed.“, Gregor responded. “Fingers crossed.”, I replied and dutifully crossed my fingers.

My mind turned once again to the tattered journal I found in the barrel along with the other odds and ends which didn’t seem to be of much use. I decided to try to clean some of the smudges off of a few pages that looked like they might be salvageable and see what I could come up with. After all, I didn’t have much to lose at this point, right? It was already illegible. Gently, I rubbed the dirt away with a damp cloth, careful to ease off before the ink became visible so as not to smear it. Finally, on a few of pages I was able to make out something that looked like poem of some sort:

52 – The Poem

Half twelve, that’s six, ’tis more
Perhaps, exact that’s gone before
Behoves not here to say,
How many years away
Have welled up and flowed on
Slow passing till they’re gone.
But some such time has fled
Since regular business led
To where a canvas glowed
With fays, a leafy node
Encircling wild about.
Their differences they let out

About an Indian boy,
Whom for a toy,
To while the time
Or teach to mime
Or verse in fairy tricks,
A mighty King his eyes did fix
Upon with covetous regard;
When met upon the sward,
Near Athen’s learned seat
His Queen had set her feet
Thrice happy green —–business
Led, an official person to this sight
Who with the picture pleased
As ’t’were a jewel bright,
His mind of burden eased,

To have the like
Of which did strike,
At fancy’s shrine well meant.
If ’t’was not so, then I may say
’T’was this perhaps, that west away
Some friend he had, who wrote in verse
About the fairies, sense as terse
As poets jam into a measured line
And gives such extra value I opine
To Heliconian jet so of his rhymes
Possessed, he wished to see
A little sketch, slight as may be
To illustrate the same —
Some stanzas shewed as game
Or point from which to throw

53 – Elimination of a Picture & its Subject

That was all I was able to make out. The rest was far too deteriorated to recover. But something seemed so oddly familiar about this poem to me. Like I had seen it before or a derivative work from it perhaps. I just couldn’t place it right now. An image came into my mind as I read it. Like a painting depicting a woodsman hefting an axe about to split open a nut. Wait? Was the nut very large or the woodsman very small? I couldn’t be sure. There were others in the scene as well. A rather gnomish looking fellow sitting down and observing the proceedings. He had either long pointy ears, or horns. I couldn’t be sure which.

Then beside him were two ladies dressed as if they were on their way to a ball or something. Behind him a fellow in a top hat escorting, I believe it was a lady. The more I concentrated on the image, the more figures I saw. Some of them looked quite normal and others were rather grotesque. I am pretty sure I saw a man strangling a woman from behind and several large flowers that looked like daisies. But again, were the daisies big or were the people small? There were instruments too. A couple of figures were playing horns. “What does it mean?” I wondered to myself.

54 – What Does It Mean?

I couldn’t shake the idea that there had to be some deeper meaning to the poem and the image. Like it was a key to some lost treasure or to some hidden knowledge that must be deciphered. Could this be what the lost explorer who buried the barrel by the tree was seeking? Did they, too, want answers to the meaning of this poem or were they already keenly aware and came to hide the knowledge from others? About this time the sun was beginning to go down once again. I could see the glow of my torches and lanterns throughout the forest and mountainside. As the sky became dark, the light from my lanterns seemed more intense.

What I did not hear this time was the groans, snarls and growls of the undead. “Perhaps my lights have worked.” “Blessed Be.”, I said softly. “Woof”, Kush startled me as he burst out of the hole in the wall through the open door and bounded into the trees after something. Then the clattering of bones notified me that he found at least one skeleton creature that wandered in from the darkness beyond the area I had lit. Well, that’s manageable at least. Between myself and Kush, we can hold off a handful of them better than wandering hordes at least.

55 – Months Later

Days became weeks and weeks soon became months. I’m not sure how many had passed to be honest. But the hole in the wall that was originally going to just be a temporary campsite before I continued my exploration instead became the entrance to my mineshaft where I spent many days tunneling and finding valuable ores and other items. It actually became rather addicting to go down there and swing my pickaxe and shovel to see what I might find next. Kush now had a mate and we had a few puppies running around at the log cabin I built just outside of the mine entrance.

The dogs made great guardians of the homestead while I was working the mine or the farms. I would occasionally return to SpawnTown to unload some of my excess materials at the community storage building, visit with Jundran and The Crone a bit as well as hit the shopping district for deals. I had been pretty successful I thought. My mine turned out to be a great source of diamonds, copper, iron and that strange red powder that had electrical like properties that people here called redstone. I learned that forming the material into a block made something akin to a battery. Also, lines of it connected with other devices could be used to create useful machines.

56 – Mining and Farming – A Fulfilling Life

I had crops of wheat, potatoes and carrots growing as well as some of the glowberry vines that were popular in my mineshaft. They helped light the area and produced a tasty fruit as well. I still had not had much luck finding any of the sweet berry bushes in my neck of the woods. But, I did find some at the community storage building and planned to bring them back home to plant them. I tried a few at SpawnTown and they were indeed a tasty treat. I hear foxes love them.

My mind still wanders back to that image that the poem from the lost journal conjured up and I try to focus on it and decipher the meaning. I spoke to The Crone about it at one point and she said it was written by a man named Richard Dadd who lived on earth in the 19th century. She said that he was a British painter, illustrator and draftsperson who suffered from mental illness and was committed to an insane asylum. But that people often saw great genius in his work. I wonder why this image keeps coming back to me and why I can’t shake the feeling that it is meaningful to my being here.

57 – There is no great genius without some touch of madness.

After rereading the piece of the poem I had and considering the imagery then discussing it with The Crone it was clear in my mind that the nut and the daisies were not larger than life. The people were smaller than life. They were the wee folk. Richard Dadd was known for his fairy paintings and this one had been a commission by someone named G. H. Haydon and Dadd had worked on it for nine years while committed in the asylum but it was never completed to the artists’ satisfaction. In fact, in one corner of it the background was only sketched in.

But he used a layering technique with his oil paints which gave the painting a 3D like appearance. I spoke with the Chief Librarian about it. He was aware of the work but unfortunately he did not have a copy of the painting or the full poem in his collection of books. Although he promised to keep an eye out in case one came into his possession. I had infrequently been in touch with Gregor and Andarius. Unfortunately their attempt to thwart Donn’s plans did not bear fruit. If there is one thing I have become sure of it’s this: What happens in the Rétglainn Occulti, is probably a joke on us by the aes sídhe.

58 – The Beat Goes On

The war raged on on New Caledonia and portals continued to be watched on Hy-Brasil. For the most part, life was still peaceful on Hy-Brasil though and the refugees camps continued to grow into villages, towns and cities. Road work and other transportation projects were underway nearly everywhere to connect the population centers together. I had become quite proficient at taming and riding horses as well as a pretty fair archer. Not bad for having never done either of those things much in my time on earth. After returning from New Caledonia Phase 2 Andarius returned to work on his space station and end colony and Gregor returned to his duties on New Caledonia Phase 1 at Nova Falias.

I continued to work my farms and mine, expand my homestead and do a little exploring here and there. One day, while on a walkabout with my dog Kush, I happened upon an odd looking circle of spruce trees tightly spaced together with signs on them discouraging anyone from approaching. But, somewhere within the trees I hear the occasional growls and roars that I recognized as the language Jundran spoke when he wasn’t trying to speak human language. “Are there Gorgs in there?” I remember a discussion I had with Gregor at one point. He said that, the Gorgs themselves are social creatures.

59 – Did you see that? Yeah, sure you did.

But ,they tend to keep their distance and even hide themselves from other sentient beings with whom they are not familiar. So much so, that for many years after the first humans came to New Caledonia, they didn’t even know the Gorgs already existed there. There would be the occasional story about them from an individual here and there who caught a glimpse of one or a few in a forest or somewhere out in the wild. But never any evidence to back up the claims. So, for a long, long time. These stories were treated much like stories of Bigfoot in 19th to 21st century earth. Either as hoaxes, hallucinations or mistaken identities of some other, known creature.

It wasn’t until the Pillagers began to spill forth from the rift that Donn opened up and attacking surface dwellers that the Gorg population revealed itself and came to the aid of Human and Valosani communities which were under attack. It was the feeling of their primary pack leader that the threat of invasion from undead creatures of the underworld was too great and to win this war would require all sentient creatures working together. That is when the city of N’Aur was founded and the sentient races began working together.

60 – Big Foot Indeed

I decided to heed the signs’ warnings for now and steer clear of the area. The last thing I needed was a pack of Gorgs angry with me for trespassing on their space. I made note of the location on my map though in case I needed to find it for any reason or to avoid it on future forays out into the bush. On my journey back to camp that day, I saw some tracks near a creek bed that were large and made with a clawed foot. I was pretty certain they were Gorg tracks based on seeing Jundran’s feet while chatting with him.

That made me think again about what Gregor said about sightings of these creatures among the human inhabitants before they revealed themselves to them. Yeah, I get that big foot vibe from these creatures too. Even knowing that they exist, they are still rather mysterious. It is said that they are able to absorb and synthesize desirable traits from whatever they eat. Like, want to fly? Eat something with wings. Want to resist the cold? Eat something that has thick fur or blubber. I’ve hear the expression ‘You are what you eat.’. But these guys take it to a whole new level.

61 – Musings on Gorg Physiology

The Chief Librarian told me once that they evolved initially from little slug like creatures. But over time evolved over time into varied individuals and packs with different attributes suited to whatever environment they lived in. All, very different but all still Gorg at their basic essence. It seemed that such creatures could live almost anywhere given enough time and access to DNA material to mimic. This made me think of the tardigrades. Tiny creatures, also known as water bears, that are said to be able to survive even in space when they go into their “tun” state. In this state they are in sort of a suspended animation and are very difficult to destroy.

I wondered if some of the Gorgs might also have this ability. Maybe they’ve traveled through this way for eons and inhabited who knows how many worlds. They might be one of the most widespread sentient races in the known universe and might be undetected on most worlds they are living on. “Could they be on earth?” Now, that’s an interesting thought indeed. Suddenly, Kush alerted and bound off into forest after something, shaking me out of my musings. “What is it boy?”, I said as I pulled out my bow and loaded up an arrow. Prepared for unwanted company. Another skeleton. They seemed to love this area for some reason.

62 – More Bones For The Farm

Kush had already taken the hapless bony archer apart before I even got to him. I gave the wolf a treat and collected the bones to make bonemeal for my crops. Although, the composters I built had been doing a fine job of keeping me supplied in fertilizing material. But, you never know when more might come in handy. I had also been experimenting with compressing the bonemeal into large blocks that you could actually build with. It had a pleasant look to it, I thought. So, I might build a barn or something later with the stuff. Who knows.

Just as it was beginning to get dark, Kush and I were arriving at the homestead. I could hear his mate and the puppies barking and playing and saw the first sets of lanterns to light the approach. From here in was usually fairly safe travels, even after dark. So I relaxed a bit. But then I noticed, apparently we had company. Odd that they wolves didn’t seem to mind a stranger hanging out in our space. I stepped into the clearing and shouted, “To what do I owe this visit stranger?” “Oh, to nothing do you owe it Cianaodh.”, the vistor responded. “But, I come bearing gifts as is our tradition.”, she added.

63 – A Stranger Bearing Gifts

She handed me a nice looking, leather bound book with a picture inside rendered on map paper. I looked at the picture and my mouth fell open. It was the very image that had been in my head since I found the old, tattered journal months ago. “How?…Who?…”, the questions were coming into my mind too quickly for me to formulate sentences to ask them. “All, in good time, Cianaodh.”, she calmly smiled and motioned me to have a seat at my table where she had food and drink already prepared for us both.”My name is Danand and I live in the village of Baile na Dagda.

I think you may have heard of us?”, she said as she poured me a drink. “I have.”, I replied after swallowing a nice piece of well cooked steak and washing it down with, I am sure, was a cocktail known on earth in my time as a Nutty Irishman. I was astounded that such things were actually available here. “My apologies for not making my way down there yet to visit. I’ve hear so many good things and I have been meaning to. But, there are so many distractions.”, I added.

64 – Putting Some Pieces Together

She laughed delightfully and continued, “Oh, it’s no bother at all my friend. I know, all too well, how easy it is to get distracted in this place. The reason for my visit, other than to bring you gifts, is that a mutual friend of ours told me that you have found a lost journal in the woods near here. May I see it?” “Yes, of course, I’ll fetch it. But I must warn you, it is in terrible condition. I was only able to make out a few parts of it.”, I got up to look through my traveler’s backpack where I kept it.

Go To Part 3—>


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