Marin intends to enter the bridge. It's a procedure she's implemented thousands of times before; leaving Nymet requires using the bridge, and Marin Pathfinder of Nymet could not have survived cooped up in a single innangarð for her entire life. It's not an exaggeration to say that she has spent more of her life in the bridges than in any innangarð. She knows how to operate them: entry, traversal, and exit. It should take a moment's thought to conclude her journey. Instead, as her staff strikes the earth, the bridge opens...somewhere else. She's standing on a bridge- an ordinary bridge, one made from materials and not the raw power of the gods- in an unfamiliar innangarð, with no sign of the bridge she just exited behind her.
Syl starts off by going right from the beach. "I wonder... What do you make of this?" Syl is standing in front of a cylinder embedded in the wall. There's a softly glowing orb at the bottom of a zig zag going track at the bottom of the door. If Marin looks directly at the orb it lights up.
As soon as the orb lights up, Marin tries to avert her gaze.
She can look away, the orb goes back to it's soft glow. "Why did it just light up? Did you do something?"
"I looked at it. It could be useful if Nomai technology recognizes me," Marin says, although she doesn't sound like someone who is thinking about how useful it is.
She looks at the orb again.
"I wonder if Nomai tech is reacting to you because of what the statue did." The orb lights up again when she looks at it and she can move it by moving her eyes. If she moves it to the top of the track there's a grinding noise and the cylinder rotated to reveal a path outside.
It takes her a minute to figure out that the orb is somehow responding to her, but then she does.
The feeling of being led somewhere doesn't ease her worries. Marin keeps her eyes peeled for anything moving, with a spell to slow their movement prepared.
The door is just to a beach opposite the one the ship is landed on. "I guess we won't need to go underwater again when we're done."
Syl starts walking to the left. There are two more statues that look damaged and they don't do anything when Syl passes them. Then there's a small gap with a broken bridge which Syl uses their jetpack to get over. On the other side there's another statue. When Syl gets close it turns towards them and it's eyes open and glow.
Marin probably shouldn't treat this as an opportunity to cast a tracking spell on the statue- she's not sure what it will do with complicated technology, when it has no effect on most inanimate objects but it does on living things. If what it does is track objects that can move under their own power...worth using up that magic. She casts.
About half a minute later Syl looks up. "The statue showed me all my memories since I woke up. Ooh! That looks like something I can translate. I'll read it out for you." Syl takes out a device and aims it at an object glowing a small purple color. They read off the display on their device.
"PHLOX: Yarrow, would you kindly step back so Daz is closest to the statue? When pairing, the statue will choose whoever is in closest proximity.
PHLOX: ...See how its eyes have opened? That tells us the statue has paired with Daz. Now, no matter where he is in this star system, Daz’s statue will record his memories and send them to the Ash Twin Project.
YARROW: This is extraordinary sculpting work, Phlox!
DAZ: He has outdone himself again, hasn’t he? And now that we have our first successful pairing, we can test my memory storage prototype.
DAZ: Each statue will send a single Nomai’s memories to his or her own storage unit within Ash Twin.
PHLOX: Each storage unit will be equipped with a mask, the statue’s counterpart, which will be able to send those stored memories back to the corresponding Nomai."
"That might level the playing field. We were low on time, or I would have mentioned earlier: the sky went dark, then blue, then white, and I saw a mask as my memories of the previous twenty-two minutes replayed. The station might crash on Timber Hearth, and we may be able to stop it."
"So we're in a time loop? I don't think it's possible for the station to crash on Timber Hearth... if it's orbit decays I expect it will end up on Giants Deep. I wonder what made the sky do that. I wouldn't expect the sky to go dark unless something happened to the sun."
"-what could happen to the sun? Assume my understanding of physics is extremely limited."
"Stars like ours explode when they die... it's supposed to take a long time to happen though... If it was going to happen we should have already seen the signs. It would have gone red and gotten much bigger."
"What else could happen to the sun? Does the color of the light indicate anything about possible causes?"
Marin describes what it looked like in more detail.
"That sounds like the progression of a star's life running in fast forward. I don't understand how that's possible."
"I know very little about suns, but if I just connect the dots- when the artifact's light impacted me, it held me in place and showed me the previous minutes of my life. Then, time seemed to move backwards until an earlier point. All of these effects have something to do with the passage of time- if Nomai tech is powerful enough to reserve the direction of time, could it affect the life of a star?"
Stars are much bigger than people, but Marin isn't at all confident she has the correct intuitions here. Best to lay out the logic for someone with a better grounding in this.
"I wouldn't have thought either was possible this morning. I think we need more information."
"We need to learn a lot more. For one, do you have any records that mention anything like the 'Ash Twin Project'? Perhaps that Nomai writing in the museum?"
"We only have a few bits of Nomai text from Attlerock and Timber Hearth recorded. Nobody really thought we'd ever be able to translate it until Hal and I started on our project and we finished really recently. If we want clues we really need to find them ourselves."
"Show me what you have so far."
"I don't have all of it here. But from what I remember the text from Attlerock was written by Coleus, Thatch, Filix and Cassava. It discussed something they called the eye and how the locator apparatus they built on Attlerock wasn't able to locate it. On Timber Hearth underwater Coleus, Oeno and Cycad discussed possible mining sites and said that they were going to use a nearby site. We found that site but the entrance was locked by something a bit like the door lock we just opened. I think there's more Nomai writing here on this island. There's also probably more on the station I was planning to visit and some of the other planets. I just don't know exactly where." While Syl is talking the wind starts getting pretty loud.
"We should visit the site underwater. If we can unlock doors just because the Nomai technology recognizes us, somehow, we might be able to unlock that door now. We can go to the station first, though."
She'll ignore the wind until the sky fills with bright light, perhaps, since they don't really have a lot of other clues just yet.
"Agreed, we should also visit the small Nomai ships on the Ember Twin and Brittle Hollow they might have clues." The wind gets even louder whipping through the space and then suddenly it's like gravity goes away and the whole island is lifted up. Three cylinders of purple light appear. One of them behind them and the other two on higher platforms. "Oh wow, I think these cylinders are safe spots. I think you should go in the one here. I'm going to try to get to the one on that platform I don't think there's a way to get there under gravity." Putting actions to words Syl is off, expertly maneuvering and very shortly in the cylinder on the upper platform.
Most of this looks like utgard to her, but Marin will trust that Syl knows what they're doing, for now. She rushes to the cylinder on the ground, keeping her staff within the purple light as well.
After about half a minute the island crashes back down into the ocean and bobs up and down a bit before stabilizing at it's previous level. The purple energy fields disappear leaving behind the illustration of a tornado glowing purple at Marin's feet. "Well that was exciting!" Syl says in an upbeat voice. "There's some more Nomai writing up here it's talking about the philosophical implications of the time loop, would you like me to read it to you?"