It’s been a while since I wrote anything. I can’t claim that we’ve always been busy… but when we’re not, I’ve been so glad to relax into the quiet challenge of crafting. And I’m still not sure how I feel about trying to become vastly important in a way I don’t actually understand. But excuses don’t feed the sheep, so I’ll go way back to one of the important bits.
These trips to other planes have happened enough that they’ve become just another thing to deal with, like being watched by unknown forces in times of stress. So we weren’t enormously surprised when one of the mysterious hole-in-the-landscape portals appeared. And I insist, now, on going through more or less right away. I don’t want a repeat of whatever happened with that fire plane. So off we went, and found ourselves on a plane of Good. It seemed to be occupied entirely by herds of animals training for battle, which I suppose makes sense? It must make sense, but a herd of leopards doing small-unit tactics exercises was one of the stranger things Ive seen. At any rate, the animals didn’t help much, though one of the bison became oddly attached to Victor. But we eventually found a person, who was much more helpful, though he hadn’t any idea that there was a problem. It was from him we learned that there was a summoning altar in the area. As in, an altar which allowed creatures to mark themselves as available to be called by summoning spells to other planes.
Now this is a fascinating bit. The altar does not have a fixed position, you can get to it by traveling around searching for it. And when we found it, we found that it wasn’t even entirely in that plane. In fact it exists simultaneously in planes of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil. And the shifting of the planes had pulled the various aspects of it out of alignment with each other, so that spellcasters were not always getting summons of the alignment they expected. Another fascinating bit was when it became clear that this partial staff we’re collecting is a Staff of the Planes… and I was suddenly able to charge it even though I didn’t have 5th-level slots to burn for it. That didn’t last, of course… but it did allow us to investigate the altar on each of the planes.
What we found was that on each plane, there was a physical altar (square, stone, with writing on the sides.) On each plane one could also see another altar overlaid, but slightly shifted from the one which was physically there. There were two separate texts, one giving power to the summoner to call a creature to himself, and the other allowing creatures to bind themselves as potential summons. On Danvi (the Lawful plane), there was a book on a stand close by, full of explanation. The explanations included mention of the altars going out of alignment from time to time, and a description of the ritual needed to pull them back into alignment. This ritual needed to take place on the plane of Evil (eep…) and required one good person, one evil, one lawful, and one chaotic. One of the people would lead the ritual, the others answered at certain times, and that would be that. (Right?) Well, we learned the ritual from the book, but still had a bit of a problem, as no one in the party was chaotic. So off we went to Kithri. We figured we ought to look at the altar in each plane before trying the ritual, and hoped we could recruit a willing chaotic creature to come help with the ceremony. That was a success, we were attacked by someone who had a lot of control over the local gravity, but when we won the battle and asked her along for an adventure, she was willing. Then we went on to visit the Evil plane.
Travel there was unpleasant. But when we found the altar, the spaces for the ritual participants to stand in were clear, and we had no trouble with the ritual. Until we got to the result of the ritual. This hadn’t really been specified in the text we found. On completion of the ritual, I (I’d been leading the ritual) was glowing brightly in that plane, and frozen in place. Meanwhile I’d been pulled out of time, and was listening to unknown gods discussing the situation. As if this wasn’t disturbing enough, the gods were agreed that we couldn’t possibly handle the situation, and had been called there too soon. One of them wanted to help us, and got agreement on that. He came to me and handed me a pitcher, telling me to drink as much as I could. It was… maybe pure magic? I don’t know what it was. It was not hard to drink it at first, and the more I drank, the more I knew. But it got harder and harder to drink it. I almost lost it once, but when I thought of how much we all needed this power to survive, I kept going. An oddly Gilly sort of thought, but it worked. Eventually I couldn’t drink any more, and then I found myself in a dilemma.
I was conscious of two worlds at once. In one, I was frozen out of time, my friends were gathered around the altar where they’d been last I’d seen them, and on the altar was an enormous Storm Giant, chained and angry. His chains, where they should have been held by my Staff, were loose, and he was quickly getting free. In the other, I was in a small room, with a table in it, and a stack of blocks on the table, which were out of alignment. I knew that fixing the altar was a simple matter of aligning the blocks, but that it would take time. I also knew, and had the power to cast, an impressive number of spells which were normally (and still are) well outside my ability. I could watch both worlds at once, but I could act only in the room with the blocks, until I chose to go back and help my friends.
I was lucky. We were all lucky really… but I was particularly lucky in that I didn’t need to choose between fixing the problem and saving someone’s life. I had enough time (though barely) to get all the blocks into alignment before I needed to go back and help with the battle. And we won, and no one died… but it was the most dangerous situation we’d ever been in, by far, and it was terrifying. When the giant died, he left behind another piece of the Staff. We took our chaotic helper back to her home, and took ourselves back to Atur.
There are open questions though. The gods are clearly involved, but we don’t know which ones. In particular, it would be nice to know which god it is who gave me that pitcher… and gave us all his ‘blessing’ after our visit to the Fulcrum. Are the other candidates being pulled to different planes to fix problems, or is that a result of us having the Star, or of something else? I should’ve asked those guys from the party of the last candidate we encountered. Next time, perhaps… since apparently all the candidates but one will die. I’m not happy about that either, but it wasn’t my choice. And now that I’m here, I’ll do my best to stay alive. Thank the heavens I’ve got friends.