You shimmer gently into fabrication in this world; that’s the best word you have for it, because you’re certainly not standing on any type of planet… or… place.
You seem to be leaning on a shingled roof… but at an un-Earth-ly, gravitational direction, but the immense swirling mindscape above and around you makes you second guess if you really are upside down in the first place… and what does that mean anyways? You feel pressure pulling at your weight in shifting directions, each floating ball of light or energy pulling you softly inward as it drifts by. Suspended in the space around you are chunks of…outer space flotsam, drifting as if underwater, in no particular direction around you.
There is a cluster of rocks and craggly trees pressed around the ring of a stone well, as if plucked directly from a rocky mountainside, drifting aimlessly underneath you. You notice the dark center of the circle of stone seems to suck in all the light, appearing far blacker and deeper than should be possible. Above your head there is a long iron structure made of a thousand woven metal bars twisting ornately into a small row of fence framing an elaborate iron gate. A gleaming black metal box is affixed to the fence upon which the gate is hinged, and the numbers 1086 are painted in gold on a small plaque beneath the slotted box. A heavy gilded lock hangs from the clasp. The space between the iron bars is shimmery and opaque… the other side is locked from your view and keeping you out, you think, just as the maker intended.
Directly to your right, suspended heavily in the glimmering black distance, is a grand, marble, disembodied staircase spinning slowly in place. The bottom steps fan out in a graceful sculpted shape and the sides are constructed of gleaming marble so white that it’s almost transparent, topped with golden sparkling handrails. The splendorous staircase belonged in front of a castle or church or a bank, yet here it floats directionless beside you. You wonder how either of you got here.
Your hands begin to hurt from the rough rocky texture of the section of roof which you lean on, floating through the abyss like a castaway on a life raft. Funny, the small private gravitational pull of your personal section of psychic debris seems to press harder upon you than Earth Zero - like it fights to keep you upon it and away from the other greedy islands. A small rectangular window juts out from the rise of the roof in front of you, a small triangle frame above. You shift your weight to peer inside, but just like the gate, it is only shimmering twisting shapes that spin your eyes and make you feel swelling nausea deep within your head. You rub your eyes and look away from the window - the splotchy colorful darkness behind your eyelids as you press them hard is barely discernible from the floating darkness around you when you open them again in this unnerving Verse.
Suddenly, a small glow catches your attention, and a warmth spreads across your face as you turn to see her, stepping delicately along the precipice of the roof and glowing with the cozy warmth of a bonfire on a cold night. You feel your cheeks stretch into a grin looking at her, despite everything, despite all of the terrifying nothing around you - you’re smiling, from ear to ear.
She is a little creature, graceful and cheerful in her psychedelic, pattern of swirling rich copper and rust colored fur. Shining bits of metal dangle on delicate fibres tied to the chain of the turquoise necklace sitting delicately upon her shoulders. You cannot make out the objects - jewelry, or keys, perhaps?. She moves like a paradox, foreign in this space. She could have been a projection of a scene from another world, as she abides by her own private laws of physics. Despite the thick, swirling atmosphere which tugs your body every which way, it is daylight and comfortable, familiar Earth Prime gravity in the space around her. She gives off warm light in her own little sphere of influence, and walks stealthily along the precipice of the roof above you. Your hair rolls like seaweed in the space around you, tugged by the nearby floating masses, but she stops to perch on the roof’s edge in perfect stillness, glowing in her own personal sun.
Her paws are stained inky purple, the mark of a poet, yet she makes no sound as she hops down towards you. Where her feet touch, small bits of plant or fungal life sprouts hungrily in the wake of her touch. Thin, shiny mushrooms encircle her foot prints, petals and moths stay close to her as if the sheer warmth of her aurora had a magnetic force.
She walks down the slope of the roof to stand before you, and your attention is pulled into the aqua blue orbs of her eyes. As the cast of her gravity and light falls upon the window next to you, the space becomes clear. You can now see the window for what it is - a portal. You inhale sharply as your head spins around and you realize, with a humbling shudder, that these are portals which you’ve found yourself caught in the center of. The well, the stairs, the gate, the window, each place was here before you…
And on the the lonely, floating roof, is just you and the glowing purrr of the key.
Which portal do you follow your new friend through??
A: The Window
B: The Iron Gate
C: The Grand Staircase
D: The Ancient Well
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Xavi -your mind forms her name - looks up at you with the curious, patient eyes of a friend awaiting your advice. You feel somewhere deep within you that she truly does just want to know what she can do to help you. The pure, cool blue of her irises surround the most pleading and perfectly round pupils you may have ever seen, and so you decide to trust her… And she does not want to trick you - she’ll take you where you need to go. With a purr and a light chirp, she tilts her head and suddenly, there you are - glowing and warm in the light of her gravity.
As the irritating weightlessness of this strange verse dissipates, you feel your body drop and catch yourself in the same position, but your muscles now carry the same weight familiarly. You adjust to the heavy clarity of Earth - Prime (and of Xavi, apparently,) and immediately feel yourself as you really are… this time, in a place which you belong. She walks calmly, her tiny paws making no sound, and steps one foot after the other, to the edge of the shingles… and then crazily, beyond. Her first step into the abyss makes you gasp and jump, but her tiny paw does not fall through the cold empty air. She reaches out a gentle foot towards nothing, and the air itself catches her. She continues, walking forward across the space before you, right up to the floating, disembodied gate.
Without a sound, she leans back on her hind legs and stretches upwards, tilting the undulating weight of her body forward as gently leans towards her goal. She catches herself easily at the precipice of the gate, barely touching the heavy lock with her paws and she expertly angles the weight of her shoulders to be perfectly balanced upon her feline hips…
It melts away, and you follow her through.
Somewhere, far away, a girl grew up at 1086… and the number halts her sparkling nostalgic memory for a moment.
Xavi knows that the number is important, and she wants you to know it too. She also knows that you must meet the girl exactly where she is. It is of the utmost importance. It is of the utmost importance. Xavi does not want you to forget. When you wake from your reverie. And the memory begins to fade.
You carefully close Oystersands' Illustrated Arcana, making sure the clasp clicks carefully into place. Safety Ethics Assurance protocol states that it should be several cycles before you personally conduct one of these explorations into the book again. For a moment, you wish you could open it immediately, and expose your mind to the panorama of Kaleidoscope, find Xavi and have her guide you more. You shake your head. You need to write down what Xavi showed you before you forget!
[SHK-E Evaluation: You gained KNOWLEDGE from studying this book borrowed from the Infinite Library at the cost of SAFETY, who knows what will become of the minds of those who gaze into worlds that bend reality?
HEART: Very Good
KNOWLEDGE: Very Good
Para Initiative Inventory:
Oystersand’s Illustrated Arcana
Notes on Xavi and 1086