"Right. All we have to do is open a portal to the dream world, teleport around to the other old crazy guys, and get them to merge. Simple! This should take, like five minutes."
The problem was that once they'd opened the portal to Tel'aran'rhiod, each individual in the group had to teleport to the intended destination individually, including (and this was the hard part) the crazy old man. "You know Cairhein, right?" "Yes, I grew up in Cairhein." "Okay, go to one of Cairhein's gates." "Okay, off to Cairhein Gate." *poof*.
He wasn't at any of Cairhain's gates. A quick search through Hariin's memory revealed that there was a 'Cairhein Gate' in Far Madding, so without further ado they poofed to there... only to find themselves trapped in Cyberspace, because (a) Hideo was there, and (b) Far Madding was a giant Steading.
Worse, all the big gateways out of Far Madding were closed, which in the cyberpunk world included the cyberspace portals, so they couldn't just teleport back out. "There has to be a secret backdoor," Fezzik reasoned, "I mean, it's a city. No entire city has a totally secure net. We just need to use the city-secrets device... er, program... on some water."
And where do you find water in cyberspace? In the Barbie Horse Adventures MMO, of course. This meant selecting an avatar from the ones provided, picking a horse, and... discovering that this simulation was *way* too high-res to be normal. The first secret they discovered was that some sort of aberrant psychic power was making it seem more real than it was. The second were cheat codes which allowed them to manipulate the sim. The third were some backdoors to other sims... maybe one of them was outside Far Madding? As soon as they were back in Tel'aran'rhiod proper, they'd be able to go to Cairhein for real and leave the dreamworld.
So they took a portal to a bug's life sim. Only, you know, hyperrealistic, and deserted. Once Hariin flew off and brought back a giant dewdrop to drink from, they discovered that all the people who'd been using the sim to study bugs were dead, and their station overrun. This was a not a good sign. A few more drinks showed the place of the person who ran the sim, though, so they headed there.
Everyone but Fezzik had thought to get flying horses, but he had to leave his behind. No problem, though... one of the cheat codes would let him summon his horse. Or, apparently, a giant grasshopper, to try to eat him. It wasn't a match for *all* of them, though, so Fezzik survived, and they were able to find an access terminal that told them about what all the sims in the place were, so that they could transport themselves there directly. "Just pick the one that seems farthest away." "Okay, Egypt."
'Egypt' was outside of both Far Madding and Hideo's cyberpunk bubble, which was good. It was apparently known as 'Shayul gul, home of the Dark One' back in the World of Time, though, which was not so good. "He... says he wants me to join him in evil... that's bad right?"
Well, Fezzik managed to resist the call of pure evil, and they teleported to Cairhein without delay. The old man's preferred spot in Cairhein was the top of one of the topless towers. Not wanting to risk losing him again, they popped back into the real world there, and Fezzik simply constructed a massive slide of solid air to take them down to the ground at their shop, over the heads of the whitecloak army (with an impression to make them seem to be Nimune, who could more beleivably be flying overhead without witchcraft).
There, the crazy old man from the maze was introduced to the crazy old beggar, and... nothing happened. They couldn't even see each other. ARGH.
At any rate, without too much trouble they managed to get both of them to the crazy ranting old man in Ebou Dar, who still didn't merge with them. They did find a duplicate Kanwei there ('Yance' or something, it called itself) which exchanged experiences with their Kanwei to fill them in on... lots of babble.
There was one important fact they got from that, though -- the dull knife and the window into Tel'aran'rhiod used together could utterly destroy any dreamwalker, 'putting their soul back in its proper place', although the knife would have to be replaced or repaired with a very dangerous pebble afterwards. This could be used to repair the cracks by patching them with the souls of the people created by their formation, essentially. Which would be a wonderful solution to the 'save the world' problem if the whole party wasn't a bunch of crack babies.
"We should use this to assassinate Grendel," Kanwei insisted, "And get back the orb." Because of course, she now knew how to use the orb to return herself to her proper species (she thought), but was sadly orbless.
"I agree. The three of you would make the perfect assassination team," Fezzik suggested.
At any rate, they decided to use the Gate of Will to save the world instead, since they now had a personal stake in saving the world the right way -- the way that didn't require them all getting stabbed and turned into spectral building material. At least, that's what Fezzik was going to use it for -- saving the world without dying in the process, learning to use both sides of the one power without having to worry about accidentally stilling himself by accessing the wrong half, and finding a home where he'd be safe from the damn whitecloaks and aes sedai and everyone. Sophia decided to go through the gate too, although she kept her needs a secret.
So they dreamteleported back to the dome, and went through the gate together... arriving alone on the other side, however. Fezzik, after much stammering and panic, managed to blurt out all three of his demands, although he paused to long during the third one and only got as far as 'find a home'. "Foolishly, you let us decide the price. MUA HA HA HA."
Then they told him that he would do something for them that seemed... extremely unlikely, but, well, they were never wrong.
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