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Dec 04, 2022 7:33 AM
A thrice-great warrior-mage arrives in the demiplane of Elsewhere, searching for new lands for his people to claim.
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"Do not look through your visor until you detect breathable air." One of the two humorists in charge of sustaining the otherworld pool had warned him. "Do not even open your eyes. We cannot afford to risk losing a vitalist of your quality, Opirogius."

Then, the two of them had extended their soul-dew as one. It was mirror-shining all throughout, but as the pool-keepers harmonized their dew and bent it towards the the alien magic of the otherworld serpent, the reflection in its surface subtly deranged. Opero couldn't pinpoint any particular difference in the image, but taken as a whole, the reflection seemed somehow darker, as if the world it showed lacked some essential brightness that did not come from any particular source. There was something frightful about it, but he had faced much greater fear before, and it did not shake him.

 

After some hours, the pool is ready for submersion. Opero gets into position, darkens the visor of his dew-armor, closes his eyes, and takes the plunge. Given the warnings, he expects some sensation, as though there should be something which he is choosing not to see, or at least that there is some time passing between his submersion and his arrival in the otherworldly destination. There is not. One moment, he is plummeting downwards through the pool's surface, and the next he lands deftly on solid ground. A soft wind caresses his armor, and he can taste the vitality of the air. He is safely on the other side. He is not sure what to expect to see, but he will soon find out, as he lightens his visor and assesses his landing.

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Opero finds himself in a forest with extremely tall trees. The sky is a twilight-purple with large bright stars, there doesn't appear to be a setting (or rising sun). There are a couple of deer grazing in the distance. They are huge, easily taller than him at the shoulder.

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Interesting! It seems like there's a general increase in scale in this world, He'll make sure to keep a running list of notable differences like that, and the sky. He doesn't know whether this world simply has a particularly bright night-sky or if this is more akin to a sunless day-time. Regardless, he takes a breath and names a telling-spirit four times, exhaling once in four directions, each spirit-breath spiraling out and searching for signs of human habitation, echoing out through the forest like silent thunder. As long as there's any sign of people within a radius of several hundred miles, and those people do not destroy every spirit which hears them, then at least one of them will return to him within the hour and point him in the right direction.

In the mean time, Opero begins climbing one of the enormous trees. Even if the spirits have likely already passed the horizon by the time he reaches the canopy, he may still spot something interesting which is nonetheless not evidence of humanity.

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Once, he climbs the trees (spotting some normal-sized squirrels scurrying along the branches) he has a vantage point that allows him to see something other than forest.

At a glance, it looks like a city with squat builds made out of stone. The sky above it is remarkably dark, as opposed to purple-with-bright-stars.

Also, just looking at it makes his skin crawl with an uneasy dread.

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Well! That doesn't look like good news. If one of his spirits doesn't report back soon then he knows that they're at least passively disrupting spirits, one way or another. Opero allows himself to slide into a properly combat-ready mindset, feeling the warmth of the caloral state spreading through his soul. He spreads two great fans of black soul-dew out from his back, gathering a modicum of heat from the strange pseudo-starlight, then leaps from treetop to treetop  towards the foreboding city.

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The sense that there are tiny things walking over his skin does not get weaker as he approaches.

The city appears to be empty, but hard to tell given how dark it is (which is itself a sign of emptiness). And when he gets close enough, there is a deep chasm between it and the forest. Like someone dug deep into the earth.

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His dew-armor is sealed tight. There is nothing between it and his skin aside from under-clothes. Surely?

This is a strange place, that much is certain. Is it possible that this is actually some sort of...naturally formed city? Some strange rock formation created by the unfamiliar natural processes of this world that simply happens to bear some remarkable resemblance to the shape of a city? Maybe the darkness that hangs over it is related? The only way to find out is to enter, he supposes. Opero leaps once more, expending a quantity of vital heat to truly fling himself from the treetop closest to the chasm to the other side, stretching his fans thin and wide to start gliding and soften his landing.

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There really isn't anything physical between the dew-armor and his skin. Just the mysterious unpleasant sensation.

The chasm he crosses is very deep. It seems to just go infinitely down into nothingness.

The sense of wrongness gets stronger once he is there. The darkness feels like a physical presence heavy on him.

Closer, it's noticeable that the buildings are crude, but in straight angles. Everything is stone. The doors and windows are paneless openings. Entire buildings appear to be made of singular stone slabs, with the occasional crack. There are even what might be lamp posts, pillars of stone, without any light source on top of them.

The breeze is quiet, and the place is utterly deserted of life. Even moss. It's like a sterile ghost town.

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Wow, that's a deep chasm! Probably the deepest Opero has ever seen. He does not plan on exploring its depths unless something quite unexpected leads him down there.

This is not a pleasant place to be. The monolithic buildings also do not exactly weigh strongly against the disconcerting notion that this may in fact just be some incredibly strange rock formation. Regardless of whether it was even inhabited, though, it certainly seems empty now. He will journey a short ways into it, just in case there's something of interest, but he will stay long and if he doesn't find something he will quickly make his way back out and across the chasm.

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The buildings change some in style, but not a lot.

As he makes his way into it... he might feel himself heavier? More tired?

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It's not just weight, not just exhaustion. Something is attacking his vitalities directly here, somehow. That's...fascinating, but also deeply disturbing. Some kind of unlife is infesting this empty city. Maybe the dynamologists will find some use for this place, in the days to come, but it's certainly of no use to Opero right now. Back to the forest it is.

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Just crossing over and not looking directly at the empty city presents a remarkable improvement.

Also, shortly after, one of his spirits should return, to report a human settlement over that way.

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Ah, good, this world isn't solely populated by abhorrent monoliths and unliving darkness. Off to the human settlement!

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As he approaches, the sky shifts and turns into a more typical midday blue. There is no visible singular sun, instead the stars appear to compensate by becoming brighter.

The settlement is maybe a few hundred buildings scattered around a city center with a tower that looks like a lighthouse. There are no bodies of water around. Remarkably more colorful than the city. And infinitely more alive.

Its inhabitants appear to be human... except some are remarkably tall, easily eight feet. He might also spot a couple of horses that are similarly sized.

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More evidence of some current of 'bigness' running through this place, though not universally. Odd that they've got a lighthouse as well, but maybe it serves some symbolic purpose instead, Opero has seen stranger temples in foreign lands.

He hangs back from the settlement, naming a different spirit a few times and expending some vital heat to reinforce them before dispatching to gather the people's language and bring it back to him. In the mean, he begins to build a camp about the outskirts of the settlement, moving earth and stones to form a sort of artificial cave. He's not especially stealthy about this, even if he's still a ways from the settlement, so he won't be terribly surprised if someone comes by to check on him.

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The ground is really compact a few feet deep, but large rocks are rare unless if he digs a hundred feet down.

No one really approaches. If he is in the look-out, there are people that come closer but keep a very comfortable distance before departing.

Eventually, a couple of young men show up in the sky. One holding the other.

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They land a few yards away from where the "construction" appears to be taking place. The young man that was held takes the lead and approaches at a deliberate pace.

"Hello?"

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This certainly won't be the most pleasant hovel that Opero's lived out of, but this is the sort of thing the gens brings him in for, so it's not entirely unexpected.

Opero stops his work, tensing in preparation of potential conflict as the two descend. Flight is an expensive and difficult technique, especially over long distances while carrying cargo. Opero has fought fliers before, but he'd rather avoid it at this stage. The presence of fliers is another notable thing to add to the list, though.

Unfortunately, Opero's language-gathering spirits haven't returned yet, so he has very little idea what they said. Probably a greeting? He relaxes a fraction before replying. "Salvete. Possumne adiuvare vos?" It can often pay to be polite to locals.

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The two men look at each other, and one of them holds a hand up. He searches for something in the inside of his jacket... a bracelet. He puts it on. "Hello! Can you understand me?" He says, his words should be comprehensible now.

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That is surprising, and Opero quickly double checks that his armor hasn't somehow been breached without him noticing. "Yes, I can. What is that bracelet doing?"

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No apparent breaches.

"It does translation. I think it's the kind that uses a sound illusion?"

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It's disturbing how ineffectual his armor has been at keeping the local's magic out. Hopefully that will be something the researchers can fix. For now, at least it's opened communication. "Alright. Well, what brings you to my humble abode?"

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"Well. Someone spotted you and your... abode making and was concerned. And asked to check."

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The other young man is not exactly rigid. But he is alert. Not like someone ready to attack, but like someone that wants to be ready if there is an attack. He is not holding the other anymore, but he is keeping himself close.

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That's good instinct, on the other one's part. "Ah. I apologize if I've caused anyone trouble. I take it you work with sort of local authority then?"

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"Correct. And... I don't think the land is owned by anyone that would care to claim it, but the use of magic by someone unidentified was... remarkable." The last turn of phrase sounds very diplomatic. "And... what is your name? I am Henry Oswald. This is Fernando Vaesteri."

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