That book is starting to get on my nerves. Reeshka is still a mess, and Miaako’s not looking much better. We rode without any discernable incidents until we reached a sort of… shimmer… in the air.
It was greatly unsettling.
I didn’t want to go through, and neither did Reeshka, but Ceor and Miaako had no issues. They ended up carrying Reeshka across in a panicky mess, and it took a great effort of will for me to go through. Once we crossed, there was no snow. It felt more like a moderate spring day…
There was also a massive structure we couldn’t see from the other side, about 150 feet high, with two immense gates. I guess we found what we were looking for.
There were also three figures in front of them. Fabulous.
An archon, a devil, and an elf, acting in perfect unison. One door was ever so slightly ajar. Great. And one of them took one look at Miaako, said ‘not you again’, and asked if we were here of our own free will or if he’d bamboozled an adventuring party yet again. She’s seen Miaako before, several times… and he’s never seen her before in his life.
She also knew what the book was, and said that they’d seen it many times.
She told us that we were before the Gates of Dusk and Dawn. If something passed through the Gate of Dawn, it would have its history rewritten, a rebirth of sorts. The Gate of Dusk seemed to throw things to the distant future, and they didn’t know where it would show back up. There was a middle path, that allowed people to rewrite their own destiny.
She told us that people had often come here, to try to rewrite the book so that it never existed… and it never worked. The world had been remade so many times that there’s no telling how old it really is. She and her companions were there to prevent it from happening more often than necessary, though they were bound to permit anyone who could defeat them in a trial to pass.
I don’t want to unmake and remake the world, and it never works anyway. And sending it to the future wouldn’t do much good either; it fucks the future and the guardians said it comes back… there are places that are timeless. The only chance to unmake the book would be to journey down the middle path, fight through to the place where fate resides and cut through web of fate, break the power of fate itself. Then we could journey to the place it was created and destroy it.
And it was created at Mara’s Table…
We simply can’t leave it here, that won’t work. And the guardians want no part of it. I don’t blame them.
Now we have to figure out how to get past them, and what to do if and when we do. It’s starting to look like all of our options are lose-lose…
While the others were trying to decide what sort of trial to do, Ceor and I elected to ask how they knew Miaako. It turns out that every time he dies, he comes back. He might be one of the oldest souls in the known universe. While most souls in a reincarnation cycle have some destiny to fulfill… but Miaako is a unique case. He’s been cheating gods and getting away with it. Everytime he shows up, it causes trouble for the guardians.
As far as trials goes, Reeshka ended up proposing rock-paper-scissors.
Which we won.
The fate of the universe rests on the outcome of pure random choice…
The interior was massive, with mossy stones and the signs of age everywhere. The gates themselves looked untouched. They were made of gold, and we could feel energy thrumming in the air. There’s a lot of Power here. And we could see little afterimages, where we might have done something different… but didn’t.
It was weird.
As Ceor approached the gate, the might-have-beens got thicker around him.
But he kept to the middle, and Reeshka did the same, though there was some intimidation involved. She disappeared in a milky glow. Miaako balked, and couldn’t decide if he wanted to go left, right, or center until I gave his horse some encouragement.
The elf who’d spoken with us watched us go, and commented that she wondered what it was he heard, because he never did go through easily. I doubt he’d tell me, and I doubt we’ll be back here if he did.
I went through myself. On the one hand, I could hear the sounds of a happy childhood… and on the other, everyone who’d ever tormented me getting their just desserts.
It was a dirty trick to play.
But I kept to the middle, and passed through a gray mist. I caught up with the others, and we could hear a clacking, mechanical sound. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard before. I have no idea where we are. All I know is that the clacking is louder up ahead… The fog was so dense that we couldn’t see anything.
We got closer to one of the sources of the noise, to see a gigantic weaver’s shuttle clicking back and forth across an absolutely immense loom. That explains a lot.
The first step is the heart of the place where fate is made…
Reeshka found a very black thread that just… ended.
I’ll get some use out of this robe of twine anyway, so we can find our way back. We rode towards the highest concentration of the clicking. It felt like half an hour, but it’s so easy to lose track of time here. We were riding across a massive copper plate, with a burning sun above and the smell of hot metal. We’d lost the clacking and the loom. Then there was a massive click, and things seemed to shift to the side. The only feature we could see was a spire in the distance. Reeshka cast Life Bubble, to make it a little more bearable, and the copper surface lost its tarnish, and seemed to be clean copper.
The closer we got to the spire, the more tarnished and corroded the copper plate seemed to be, as if it was being eaten away. It was impossible to tell how long we’d been going, but we didn’t get hungry or thirsty or tired. Reeshka’s spell should have worn off at some point, but it didn’t.
We finally reached the spire, where there were several archways around it. There was a woman sitting in one of them, weaving. She looked like she was the same size as us, but was at least a couple miles off… She wasn’t on our direct line of approach, but Ceor being Ceor…
Once we closed the distance, she was more like twice the size of a normal person. Ceor seemed to recognize her, somewhat, though she didn’t particularly seem bothered by our presence. She greeted us pleasantly enough, and said this was called the Plane of Gears, or Rava’s Clock. We explained that we were trying to get rid of something, which she said she sensed. She also said that the three outside are her guardians…
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve met a god.
She said that the place we need to find is the Fulcrum of Fate, at the top of the tower. She put it there because it was possibly the most dangerous place in existence that wasn’t the outer dark. She said that the question that had been asked, if we had the courage to face ourselves, wasn’t an idle one.
I’ve faced myself before, I’m not afraid to do it again. And I expect I’ve got as good a chance as anyone. But it’s far from a certain thing.
She told us that since we’d made it this far, we were beyond her ability to control, that we hadn’t managed to be re-entangled. She said that all of the arches would lead us to the top.
The interior of the spire was was a mass of intricate clockwork, the likes of which could never be replicated by mortal… and possibly deific hands. Gears were slowly making their way to the top, where they tipped over and went back down. Reeshka cast Airwalk on us for safety’s sake, and we started the journey up.
As we ascended, there were images that we could glimpse… an engraved history of the world, the whole of existence. I got a much better idea of the actual history of the world, before it was undone and remade, and I got a much clearer idea of Miaako’s history. He was from the first incarnation of the universe, and had managed to slip away from erasure every time. I gather he’d made a deal with some sort of entity, which was then remade, reused, and repurposed so many times it forgot why it was annoyed at him.
We got to the top, to see the current image was unfinished. There was a massive stone circle, with silver gates and locks of white iron, with symbols of chance and fate engraved around it.
I expect this is where we’re going…