The Shadow comes up to walk along side you. "Heh heh... by the
way, I like your new outfit..."
"What, this?" You look
down... "Ugh! I liked the robe much better. At least it didn't make me
look like some crazy barbarian woman who doesn't know how to dress herself."
reaches his hand over and touches warm fingers against your forehead. "Remember,
how you look is within you, not out here. It is the same with me. The feathers
in your hair are nice." His voice trails off...
You hadn't even
noticed, but yes, there are several feathers woven into your hair. Shades of
green and deep blue, spotted with white. Large feathers, at least a foot long.
next clearing is visible just ahead and to the right. Archimedes, apparently
tired, has curled up to take a nap near a crumbling step pyramid. As you round
a tree, two large obelisks come into view... tall blocks of obsidian with veins
of silver, and gold detailing.
The shadow leans in close... "the
They stand side by side, reaching up to the sky, as if
they have the universe in their hands. Partway up, each obelisk is has a human
form carved into it, kneeling, holding up the upper half. They face each other.
The female form on the left is unfinished, while the male on the right is well
detailed: a beautiful face, soft gold eyes, a straight nose, gold lips that look
like they may smile at any moment. Runes are scribed across his forehead and
spiraling around his cheeks. Your attention is strangely drawn to this face,
wondering if he will come to life and look at you, yet his gaze remains fixed on
the unfinished woman.
You turn to speak to the Shadow, but he is gone,
entering a nearby fallen temple. Heading after him, you pass between the
obelisks and an unmistakeable field of energy... skin tingling and hair
attempting to stand up on end. Running past the pyramid on the left, you hop up
the steps and into the temple. Large sections of wall have fallen, and rubble
covers the floor. What remains of the roof looks like it used to support a
large vaulted ceiling which now mostly resides on the floor. The remanants of
the walls show that it had many windows. The far wall is completely missing,
and the Shadow stands looking out, the golden dragon and phoenix playing in the
wind on his back.
The Shadow is talking as you approach. "All the
power, and they weren't able to save the temple."
that," you ask as you reach him. Looking out the open wall, a hill slopes
down to a beach and then the river. On the ground below are the remnants of a
"It is almost unrecognizeable..."
it is unrecognizeable you think. You lean against the Shadow's side, rest your
head on his shoulder. "You know... WHOOP!" You slip on something,
falling, reaching out for anything... surrounded by blackness. Something grabs
your right hand and something grabs your left. Two glowing golden forms flank
your sides, flapping up and down, back and forth. Golden trails flowing from
their bodies into a whirl of shapes behind them. The dragon turns to glance at
you, his scales tickling your left ear. His expression eases some of your
fears... he looks so gentle. The phoenix then turns to look at you, her silky
soft feathers tickling your right ear. You wish you knew where they were taking
You have the sensation of travelling through air, and then
something solid, and then a void... and then everything feels soft.
A loud alarm awakens you. Jumping up, you sit on a small bed covered with a
soft silvery cushion. The walls are a light metallic blue. A red light is
blinking, and next to it is a button. 'Click,' you push the button and a door
A man is standing there... "Quick m'am, we need you
at the hangar. The visitation is about to begin." He starts to run off,
but stops himself. "Interesting sleeping outfit..." and then he is
gone, the door sliding shut behind him.
The bed is hovering about three
feet off the floor. To the right are a table and a small dresser. To the left.
an open door appears to lead to a small bathroom. Jumping off the cushion and
turning around, you see that there is a one-piece outfit waiting for you,
hanging over the bed. A slight pain alerts you that both hands are clenched,
and you open them up to reveal a small dragon figurine in one hand, and a
phoenix figurine in the other. Placing them on the dresser, you quickly push
out of the ill-fitting barbarian outfit, and slide into the one-piece - a
perfect fit! All silver, trimmed with violet... a blue stripe starts at your
neck and runs down each arm, and similar stripes start at the hips and run down
the legs. The inside is as soft as satin. A belt runs around the waist, and a
zipper runs up the front all the way to your neck. Soft soled cushions pad your
feet, like soft bags of air, as you walk over to what looks like a mirror. Race
car driver, you think... with feathers too.
Making sure to grab the
figurines first, you push the button and walk out into the hallway. Someone is
waiting there for you. He guides you down well-lit hallways, metallic like the
room, broken periodically with darker beams. Right, right, left... You come to
an elevator. A moment later, and in you go. A small compartment, interestingly
decorated in blue carpeting. 'Ding' and the doors open - strange that you never
felt the sensation of moving. Out you walk and into a room full of people, all
wearing similar outfits with different colored stripes. A resounding cheer
raises, and many are clapping.
"DONK...DONK... Is this thing on?"
You hear over loud speakers.
Someone at a podium is giving a long
speach, but you aren't paying attention... You are stuck looking out giant
windows to the vast expanse of space, and a huge ship approaching... white, not
metallic looking, like an angelfish with waving wings. It pulls up close and
you hear several creaks and groans.
People are clapping again, and
someone has grabbed your arm. You are being escorted up to the podium. "Speech...
speech... speech..." everyone is chanting.
say, not quite sure what is going on. "I don't know what is going to
happen... uh... I hope everything works out okay."
everyone is cheering and claping. A clear helmet is placed over your head, and
a small tank is attached to your back. A man walks up and escorts you over to a
door... an airlock? It opens up, you step in, and it is closed behind you. A
walk down a short hallway, and a door on the other side opens, a dark room
beyond. The hall immediately fills with a heavy gas. You step forward as if
walking in to a dream. Billowy clouds flow around you, and several forms
colaesce before you. Tall white figures, glowing. One approaches you, a body
so slim... long arms ending in slender fingers, flat gray fingernails. Glowing
tendrils on energy flow off its arms as it reaches forward and removes your
helmet and airtank.
"But..." you think. "No air!"
comes to your mind, so soft, so much pleasure. The gas comes in, flowing around
your head... invigorating. The creature leans in close to get a good look at
your face... It gazes intently with large purple eyes, eyelids fluttering. Its
face, round, with no visible nose or mouth.
You didn't even realize
your hands were rising up, brushing against its skin, tingling. He stands back
and looks at them as you turn them over and open them up. Its eyes change to a
soft shade of cyan, and it picks up the dragon and phoenix in each hand, to hold
them close and examine them, then turning to the others and showing them off,
their eyes turning the same color. It leans in close again, its eyes now
vibrant green and rubs its cheek against yours, so soft... You lean back and
drift off to sleep.
You are awakened by the feeling of things poking
you all over, mostly along your arms and legs. It is pitch black... you lay
there afraid to move. One of them is at your belt, and begins poking you in a
pattern up your side to your belly button, poke... poke... poke... poke.... It
then continues up your stomach and along your breastbone to your neck where it
finds the zipper pull, and starts pulling it down, poking along the way. It
stops about halfway down, and then pokes its way back up to mid-breastbone,
where something large and bumpy pushes against you there. You lay in silence,
your heart pumping loudly in your ears, and then it lifts up.
alive," a little voice pipes up, inches away from you...
another voice, "she's alive! Barnaby saved her!" This is followed by
the sounds of whispering and chittering.
You struggle to lift your head
The little voice again, "are you okay,
"I feel okay, but I can't see anything..."
no," he calls to the others, "she's blind!"
she's not," another voice calls back, "she's a Topworlder... she can't
see in the dark like us."
There are some sounds of scurrying, and
then something is being pushed into your left hand. "Here, put these over
your eyes," a tiny voice says. They fit over your eyes easily, like
glasses, but without side supports, they just balance on the bridge of your
In moments, your eyes adjust and take in this world, painted in
monochromatic hues... well, they are tinted slightly, but it's mostly greens. A
large cavern surrounds you, stalactites above. Several natural columns stand in
the distance, complex flows down their surface have carved multiple tiers into
them. Rocks lie here and there, and a small critter is sitting on your chest...
Barnaby. Skinny arms and legs stick out from a small pot-belly, the bottoms of
his big feet facing you, and a small neck supports a triangular head with huge
eyes, and large upturned ears.
Without thinking, you struggle to sit
up, sending Barnaby tumbling. Fortunately he catches on to the zipper pull, and
zips down to your belt, where he stops and tucks in behind the cover or your
outfit, peeking out. His skin feels like a dry prune rubbing against you.
you okay?" You call down to him, trying not to laugh.
be okay, just give me a while to slow my heartbeat back down. Plus, you know...
it's nice and warm in here?"
Another voice calls out from the
crowd, this voice deeper then the others... "In honor of Barnaby saving
the Topworlder, I propose we have a feast!"
To this, a resounding
'yay' fills the cavern as the troop heads off. As free space opens up, you push
yourself to stand, Barnaby holding on for the ride, and then you head after the