Stained GlassI found myself lying on something smooth, cold, and flat. I pushed myself up, and found that all of my surroundings were dark, except for the "floor" I was standing on: Apparently, a large disc of stained glass, floating in the black. The glass had a symbol on it, which I did not recognize at the time, but now know to be the symbol of the Beast.
As I took the surroundings in, I noticed an enormous, shadowy figure across the disc from me. It let out a very loud, but low rumble, which was practically a growl, "BEAST."
The Beast and I attempted to communicate, but I did not understand Beast-Speak, and eventually, after I attempted to ask to be sent home, the Beast growled "NOT," and the stained glass disc shattered, dropping me far, far down.
I landed, to my surprise, lightly, on a new stained glass disc. This one depicted, I believe, the four seasons. There were five pillars on the disc, each with an object floating above it.
A quiet, spacial voice told me that I had to choose a power. As I approached each pillar, I examined the object, and heard the voice describe what power I would be taking.
A staff. "The power of the Druid. Nature is the playground, to bend and break at your command, so long as you give more than you take."
A shield. "The power of the Hand-Maiden. Invincible courage, paired with a sword that can parry any blow, or cause destruction upon its foes."
A mask. "The power of the Dreamer. Patience. Performance. Always there, never seen, yet leaving everyone wanting more in the ways of thought, spirit, life."
A gear. "The power of the Inventor. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Methodical, logical, and limitations are only in one's mind. Everything is made by hand."
A book. "The power of the Mage. Rising power tempered with respect for magic in its rawest forms. Conduit of both chaos and order. Balancing act."
At this point, I knew about the other four Counselors. The fact that the role of the Fifth Counselor, the Mage, had been revealed to me, was incredibly exciting.
I spent a long time debating with myself, wondering which power to take. I strongly considered the staff, because I had been binding myself to Rel as tightly as I could, as he seemed like my best hope for escaping. The shield sounded powerful, but I knew it was not for me. The power of the Dreamer sounded beautiful and enticing, and I came very close to choosing it, to begin to shape myself in a new way. The gear's "limitations are only in one's mind" sounded entirely fitting as well. But in the end, I knew that the Mage was the closest to myself, and learning more about him was the whole reason I had entered the Mysts in the first place. Keeping my original focus in mind, and promising to myself that choosing the power of the Mage did not mean becoming a Traitor myself, I took the book. The stained glass disappeared, and I fell again into blackness.
I landed on a new disc, with five pillars once more, but there was nothing where the book would have been. The voice told me that I had to choose a power to give up. Having already considered them to a great degree, I knew that I would give up the shield, the power of the Hand-Maiden. Once more, the pillars and disc vanished.
The new disc that I landed lightly on had no pillars, and instead, small shadows began to rise up and move towards me threateningly. I found the book I had taken in my hands, and the knowledge and power to cast all spells that I had heard of in my mind. I used this immense magical might to fight the shadows off, and soon was falling to another disc, where I found three enormous piles, one of books, one of alchemical ingredients, and one of natural ingredients. I was challenged, by the voice that had been with me so far, to create a path of spells that could allow me to get home.
I immediately set to work, and within the time the voice allotted me, I created The Portal Path.
The voice congratulated me, and I was dropped to a new stained glass disc, where a fire in the middle caused my shadow to grow large and dark behind me, before it rose up, and I was told to fight my darkness. I did, and defeated it with the help of my protective spells and accurate Lightning Bolts. At last, it seemed I had overcome all the combat challenges I would be faced with, and I found myself on a new stained glass disc, depicting a white rose, with five pillars once more, and a staff, mask, and gear floating over three of them.
At this point, I had much more time to myself. I still had access to incredible magical power, and sometimes was able to contact Rel. Together, we worked out how he could grow a new, small tree in his Grove, which, if he held both of his staves, while pushing into the branches, would allow us to talk consistently. We still did not know how to get me out, but were interested in continuing to learn about the Five Counselors. I discovered that I could receive the stories of the remaining three by touching their symbols on the pillars.
The first story I chose to see was Rel's. I found myself at the edge of a forest, with the procession of the Fae traveling through. All manner of faeries were there, from the lowliest goblins up through the Dukes and Duchesses and even the King and Queen. The Queen was attended by two notable elves in particular, Nimbus and one I did not recognize. The procession was lead by a pure white stag.
From hiding places in the forest, human hunters jumped out with bows, crying out that they were going to slay the white stag. Their arrows fell on the fae, and one struck Nimbus, who went down with a scream. I seemed to be invisible, and believed that I might be fulfilling the role of Rel in the story. I raised my arms and commanded the forest to restrain the hunters, and the trees and plants immediately responded, securing them as they screamed in terror and confusion.
At this point, Rel himself stepped out of the forest, looking like the archetype of a Druid. He called out for peace, stating that the hunters had been stopped and no more death needed to befall anyone. In answer, the elf attending the Queen who I did not recognize approached the humans, angrily declaring, "You killed my lady's love, Nimbus!" Rel repeated that they had been stopped and that he could right the wrongs they caused, but before he could intervene, the elf angrily spoke a complicated spell, and the hunters were transformed into rabbits, who hopped away in fright. Rel angrily told the elven mage that there was no call for what he had done. The elf simply shrugged and said that if they survived until the next full moon, they would turn back.
Rel was still obviously upset, but he went over to investigate Nimbus. He knelt over her, and in a moment, she gasped and opened her eyes. The Queen looked at Rel with wonder, and asked his name. He answered that it was as long as trees, but the elven mage responded by asking the stars and the trees, which answered, whispering back, "Rel, Rel, Rel..." The Queen thanked Rel, and kissed him. She offered that he could come and live with her in Elfland for a time. Rel stood, dazed, murmuring, "I've been kissed by a goddess...by Nature Herself..."
The faerie procession began to pick itself back up and prepare to return, but Rel would not leave his forest. The Queen offered that he could come live with her for just seven years, and at the end, if he wished, he could return to his grove. He accepted, and traveled with her, back towards her lands. As they left, I heard the elven mage speculate, "We could just bring the forest into Faerie, you know." The vision slowly faded, and I found myself back on the stained glass disc.
The next story that I learned was Gwydion's. I found myself in a bar, with a small band playing a sad song. I was beside a middle-aged man who looked deeply depressed. As the song ended, a new one, about the loss of love, began, and the man cried and ran out. I followed, suspecting that he was the center of this story. It was a dreary, rainy night, and I chased him for a while, calling out. Eventually I caught up, and he angrily asked why I was following him. I had used a small Seer spell to confirm that the cause of his distress was indeed a woman who he had lost, and spouted generic wisdom at him. In confusion and some anger, he tried to hit me with his walking stick, but it bounced off my Armored Cloak, and he fell to the ground in surprise. After that, he broke down, and began to talk to me.
He introduced himself as Gwydion, and offered to trade a story for a story. He said he was a gambling man, and suggested that we flip a coin to see who had to tell first. I agreed, and secretly used my Seer abilities to win the toss, and make him go first. He told me where he came from.
Gwydion was raised in a village of so-called Aurorans, who were close-minded and believed that everything they could not understand, including beings with pointed ears, were demonic. One day, he heard beautiful singing by a lake, and when he followed it, found a group of unbelievably beautiful elves, entirely undressed, whose voices entranced him. As he watched, convinced that they must be something wonderful, another member of his village with more traditional views yelled and jumped at the women, to attack them. Gwydion lept to their defense, was hit on the head, and fell unconscious.
When he woke up, he was being kissed by he most beautiful of the elves, who brought him with her, back to Faerie. He lived there for years, but was always torn. He felt like he was in Paradise, but everything he used to believe told him he must be among devils, in Hell. Finally, the faeries took pity on him, divided as he was, and lead him home.
However, once he was back in the mortal Realms, Gwydion found himself constantly missing the paradise he had left. He had spent half his life, broken and despairing. I asked what he truly wanted, as even he seemed not to know. After some thought, he declared that if possible, he did want to return to the elven queen to live out his life in her lands. I told him that deciding this was important.
For my end of the bargain, I described Tara and myself fighting Bedlam the summer before, while avoiding giving away any secrets that might cause a problem for causality. Gwydion seemed somewhat interested, and when I was done, offered to let me travel with him. He was going to take a ship to search for work. I agreed, and we traveled for a day or so, finally boarding and setting sail.
The trip began uneventful, and the seas were calm. Out of nowhere, however, a violent storm blew up, and almost capsized the ship. Many sailors fell out as the deck tilted. As quickly as it came, the storm disappeared, leaving the confused remaining sailors to haul their comrades out of the water. Everyone was accounted for, except for one person: Gwydion. I realized in that moment that Faerie had reclaimed him, and at last, he could be happy there. Secure in that realization, I returned to the stained glass discs.
When I touched the Mask, my surroundings shifted to mists. A number of small foxes jumped and even flew around. They had one, two, or three tails. One in particular, with just one tail, landed on my shoulder, and soon, I found us in a long, uniform, stone hallway. Masks itself was beside me. Rel was in contact with me at the time, and I described what I was seeing. Rel also told me that Tara had eaten some berries from his staff, and in retaliation he turned her into a tree. He was wondering how long it would last. I started casting Seer spells to find out, and to my surprise, Masks directly answered me. I had forgotten that Seer spells in Faerie were answered by the most powerful Fae nearby. Rel and I discussed that there was clearly a Kitsune on my shoulder. We began to idly speculate on whether the Kitsune was named Harlest. When I asked Masks, it gave a shrug, and then a nod, which I could only interpret as, "That seems like a good name. It is now!"
After we determined that Tara was safe enough, Masks, Harlest, and I began to proceed down the hallway. Masks walked, at first on the floor, then on one wall as if it were a floor, and then fully upside-down, on the ceiling. I decided to try something similar, and after testing the walls and the ceiling, made the end of the hallway be the ground and fell all the way down. At the end, I found a doorway, which Masks indicated I should go through.
On the other side, I found myself in a tranquil garden, with a hedge wall all around it. Masks had not followed me, but Harlest was still on my shoulder. We went over to a pool of water, and looked in. Amazingly, I found that I had long, straight, blond hair, and pointy ears. "Why Ged get pretty?" squeaked Harlest. "I'm as surprised as you are," I answered.
We heard music, playing from somewhere beyond the garden. I found an opening in the hedge and walked towards it, and soon realized I was inside a maze. I got closer and closer to the sounds, until I found a spot with a gap I could look through.
On the other side, the instruments of a band were arranged, but all were playing themselves, unattended. Two beings, the King and Queen of Faerie, swayed in a dance, creating a work of art with their movements. I could see how much they loved each other. As the song ended, Queen Maeb said that they should have one more song, to thank the Cnuic na Sidhe. They danced once more, and as the song ended, a doorway appeared. The King and Queen stepped through, and as they did, the Queen, still touched by how beautiful a moment they had been having, sighed, "I wish you could be with me like this forever."
As the doorway closed and disappeared, her words echoed out through Sky and Space, and the hedge maze around me dissolved into a black field, filled with stars. I saw stars begin to come together and merge, forming pieces of clothing, which slowly assembled themselves, around a core of nothing at all. This was driven home as I saw a sleeve, ending in an empty hole, touch an empty glove, which stretched and flexed as if a hand were being pushed into it. Finally, a mask settled, and the being danced off through the stars. Harlest called "Wait for me!" and jumped after it, to be lost in the sky.
I returned to the glass disc, touched by the story I had seen.
Having learned all that seemed to be offered, I considered how to find my way home. I contacted Rel, and we discussed the possibilities. The book I had taken from the pillar contained all spells I knew of, and I decided to use one spell I had been avoiding, Intervention. I would draw on my own power, the power of the Mage that I had claimed, to escape.
I drew on all of the power available to me, and declared my intentions, to finally return to my own time and place. I called out into the blackness. And finally, when I had done everything it seemed I could, I whispered, "I want to go home." A voice, quiet and almost imperceptible, whispered "Done."
There was a rush of magic and light, and the disc and darkness vanished, to be replaced by pain, and wetness. I found myself in a river, in a world with colors that seemed strangely inverted. A being was moving towards me, and made itself into a pillar of warm, red light. Slowly I came to understand that it was Rel, who had come to find me, in some kind of spirit world. He warmed me and began to bring me back towards his Grove.
Meanwhile, a voice had begun to speak in my head. It told me who it was: Rosetta, the Mage of the Five Counselors, whose power I had associated myself with and drawn on for my Intervention. "I am the Mage. I research. I wield. I am powerful. And so are you. You, too, do all of these things. That's why you chose me. Isn't it?"
I was nervous about speaking, in my mind, to the Traitor, but was willing to listen. Rel and I traveled to his Grove, in the spirit plane where we were walking, and found Nimbus there. Rosetta expressed minor scorn towards her, and slight disbelief at now she had "turned herself into a bastion of healing." Rel and Nimbus talked, and then considered how to get me back to the normal, mortal Realms. Rosetta suddenly realized, with concern, that my body was still back with him in the Mysts. He told me that if I was Raised, normally, I would go back there, undoing the effects of my Intervention. However, Rel had the Chalice which he had used to travel to the spirit realm, which Rosetta identified as his own, the same one I was handed just before the Purging. He said that if he and Nimbus Pushed, and Rel, on the other side, Pulled, they should be able to get me, intact, back in the mortal Realms. Rel drank from the Chalice to return to his own body, and then, after Nimbus refilled it by saying, "Dana," I drank from the Chalice, and felt, once again, an enormous rush of magic.
Finally, I lay on the ground, true, solid ground, in Rel's Grove, clutching Rosetta's Chalice. I had returned.
This covers the most direct results of my Sťance to the Mysts. As I stated at the beginning, I may have some small details out of order, and I know some things are missing, because this all happened a long time ago. It gives a very good idea of what sort of things happened, however.
Created by Rosetta (Eric Willisson) at 11-06-12 00:18 AM
Last Modified by Rosetta (Eric Willisson) at 11-06-12 00:24 AM