Harper smiled, in a kind-of glazed manner and raised his hand to his head, miming blowing his brains out "No, I have literally no idea what the fuck was just said."
"My head is full of fuck..." remarked Bastian, touching the stone.
"So you can do your wibbly-wobbly time magic to it and this rock is going to show us something or you something..."
Jeffery thought about it for a moment, brought up his shotgun, unhooking the ammo pump. The bullets fell out with a dull clink. He pulled out another bullet. "I'm not quite sure if this'll work but... in theory these psuedo-imprinted bullet should be enough." He hooked up the ammo pump and shoved the bullet into it and pumped the shotgun. "When two items with a strong but different imprinting style come in contact, the pasts of the object battle for dominance. The loser yields and is ultimately erased from existence, while the winner absorbs the power and the moment where the past power peaked is displayed. Well that's the basic theory of Chronomantic applied theory of power and imprinting." Without further ado he placed the shotgun against the stone and fired.
It was like the whole universe cracked with the stone before energy rushed out and billowed through the room, like a smokescreen making everything blurry and gray. Soon, like inkdrops, came the colors of the room again floating down from above and forming a scene from long ago.
Necormancers, flat on their bellies and one kneeling, obviously superior, as the gates of the temple stood open and in the red light of the moon she was there, surrounded by mist and white light which caused the shadows to flee from the room. Though her face was shrouded from them, it was the Gray Lady floating up and speaking, the voice as clear and as resonant as crystal."I come from the dark paths of Ou'Rus at the call of my bell. Speak, child, and let your will be known. Am I here of convocate or to council?"The kneeling necromancer stood while the others rose to their knees and words were spoken between the Gray Maiden and the Necromancers.
"There is a great burden we are to guard, the last gate to Faerie. Given unto us by a daemon by the name of Malachi, entrusted to our unerring guard. However, in the passing years we came into the possession of a soul trap which contained the essence of a Shadow Lord of potent temptation and evil. One of our own fell to its whispers, and released it with nine keys. It fled from our wrath and went beyond us into Faerie where a Necromancer has not tread before. We humbly ask for your council, Mother, that you may lead us to the right and proper course."
She placed a shining hand on the primary Necromancer and said
"Fear not, I have no wrath. I council you to take up this portal with this soul trap, that what you released may not flee back to our world but stay there and there turn callow. As to he that erred, there is mercy for the temptations of a Shadow Lord are great. Treat me, my child, what was its name?"
Here the Necromancer who clearly was guilty of this act said "Sulerain"
The Gray Maiden hissed and recoiled, her brilliance becoming wreathing scarlet flames and her face wrought with pain and her eyes burning with malice.
"What? You released that nightmare? Unto Faerie? She the temptress and corrupter? You dared let her words touch your ear? To sway you? That vile nightmare who cannot slake the thirst for passion and pain? You release Hel herself from Nifelheim unto Faerie?"
The Necromancer could only nod as darkness crept into the room and began to engulf him, he didn't even scream before the end as it whisked him away and the Gray Maiden's screech echoed a scream of anger and pain. "Seal the witch within a Nandorian box and never let her escape! Open it only for those servants of the Light with the faith and strength to slay her." The image faded and seemed to fly into the stone again before the crack sealed and the bullet reformed and jumped back into the barrel of Jeff's shotgun.
Harper sighed and crossed his arms: "Sooo, I guess that's not gonna be good, is it?"
Jeffery clamped his hand over his mouth and violently gagged. When he removed his hand there was blood. He collapsed to his knees and vomited. After a second he got back up, wiping off his mouth. "I'm sorry. It drained a bit of my magic... And... Magic keeps my world still... I just got a little... violently ill. Don't worry." He was paler than normal.
"I...I don't....what was that, Jeff? A vision of the past?" asked Bastian, confused and scratching his head. "Also why did your gun un-shoot itself? That was weird..."
"No! NO! Don't make him try to explain stuff again!"
Hadrian was rubbing at his temples, still trying to comprehend Jeffery's earlier rant.
"This is just like training all over again..." he muttered.
"On second thought, I can deal with the insanity for now...let's move deeper into the temple." said Bastian.
Jeffery slowly nodded, "I'd prefer not explaining what just happened again. Suffice to say, that this is most likely a paradox of some kind and that was... a vision of a past. Someone's past in specific." Jeffery was looking ever so slightly grainy similar to that of a T.V. with bad reception. He felt like crap.
Hadrian straightened up, adjusting his armor and strapping his katara onto his arms.
"Gladly. I'm getting tired of sitting around."
He glanced at Jeffery, concerned about his current state. "Are you going to be able to make the trip?"
Jeffery grinned, "I just over estimated the power needed for the paradox to work. I'll be fine. Chronomancy is a magic that is focused on risks. I'm just suffering a little backlash. That's all." He began reloading his shotgun with the shells that had fallen on the floor.
The temple was a sprawling labyrinth and it was rapidly approaching the thirteenth hour of night, they needed to find this box. After wandering for what felt like ages, they came to a split in the temple which yawned wide and deep, so deep no light penetrated it and Bastian stumbled and waved his arms, trying not to fall before jumping back and going "Whoah! Hold up...big giant crack in the floor!"
"It's a test of faith." said Lurker. "We Necromancers make things like this many times during initiation."
Bastian sat down and looked at the giant divide, looking for a way across.
"Well I don't feel like making a leap of faith so care to tell me what I'm supposed to do?"
"I'm forbidden to tell, I couldn't even try. My tongue is twisted by Necromancy and it will fall out if I try to tell you how. You must figure it out on your own."
Jeffery looked quizzically at Bastian. "Question. How old would you say the order that you belong to is? Few decades? This is a very pressing question so I need it answered." He thought for a second. "Never mind. I don't need an answer." He scooped at the air around him and pushed it towards himself. He seemed to be less pale at this point. "Lurker... how long ago was this gap made?"
"I am bordering on seven thousand years old...and it has been here since the temple's creation in order to test initiates...so if I subtract 875 from 7000 I get...six thousand one hundred and twenty five years." said Lurker. "It's been around for a while...but if you want a hint you just have to j..." and here he started to choke and hack, clutching at his throat before reaching into his mouth and freeing whatever was obstructing his voice. "As I was saying I cannot tell you...I am bound by a blood pact to never tell. Even if I was tortured to within an inch of my existence, I cannot tell. My tongue will choke me, then fall out. I am so very sorry."
Hadrian stood at the edge of the crack and looked into the darkness, searching for anything that may let them cross, but he found nothing. He turned back to his companions.
"I don't suppose that we just walk across the gap? It IS a test of faith after all."
Bastian stood up and said "Hadrian, if you want to you can try." and he unwound a thread of fate and said "In case you fall, I'll catch you."
Hadrian scowled at Bastian. "I can handle myself Wyre."
He turned back to the gap. With a breath, he took a step. A tap echoed across the temple, causing Hadrian to flinch. He looked down, and found that instead of tumbling into the darkness, he was standing over the chasm.
Hadrian turned to Bastian and smirked. "Come on guys. It's safe to cross."
Haarper grinned and folllowed Hadrian in stepping on the chasm, talking almost to himself: "Shortly after nightfall, Hadrian went out from them, walking on the chasm. When the Guardians saw him walking on the lake, they were embarrassed. "I feel so stupid, why didn't I do that!," they said, and cried out in annoyance."
"Harper, remember what Master Ironstone told you? Inner monologue..." said Bastian as he crossed, trying not to look down. On the other side was a wooden sign nailed into the wall. It said "Beyond this is the chamber of artifacts, only those with cunning can enter it."
On the other side of the wall was the entrance to a massive maze. "Oh you have *got* to be kidding me!"
Reuben stepped forward.
"You know, if you dont feel like adding to the headache..."
He slide a glove off and wiggled his fingers for a moment.
"Give me a few and I can figure out the path of the last person to walk these halls..."
Then he murmured as he knelt down to touch the floor. "Lets just hope they knew what they were doing...."
Jeffery stood back and reached into his jacket, retrieving a grenade. "Never know what people leave in mazes." He slung his shotgun over his shoulder and readied to throw it. "Hurry hurry... Time... is of the essence."
EDIT: Works again! Thanks, Kross!
Bastian looked at Jeff and said "Now that's just plain cheating! We have to at least walk through it. How goes the Imperiomancy, Reuben?"
"I am surprised an Imperiomancer can read a Necromancer's mind. We have very....alien and confusing minds, sometimes the essence we leave behind is hard to interpret at first." said Lurker, "Fortunately I have walked this before but I cannot lead you...again I was sworn never to reveal the solution. But, if your power to trace me exists you could use it...I would not stop you." then Lurker winked and started walking.
Jeffery gave Bastian an annoyed look and shoved the grenade unceremoniously back into his pocket. "What are you talking about? If we run into some horde of undead skeletons appears and say... Attacks us, I was going to lob a grenade at them, but since that is cheating I don't think I will. But do keep in mind that this is what you hired me to do. Demolitions. You know blowing up walls and enemies. But I guess I'll just follow you around and make you waste money. You know... The non-cheating way." He seemed very annoyed, which was understandable. He'd had a very bad day, giving an impromptu lecture on Chronomancy which was dismissed as mind-fuckery or insane babble, setting off an imprinted paradox which will look terrible on the resume, and being yelled at for cheating and shooting someone in the foot. Today... was not his day.
"I thought you were just going to explode a path straight through....and don't worry, you'll get your chance to blow things up soon. If that box won't open, I want you to make it open...as violently as you can think of..." said Bastian, Reuben started walking and said "I've got it, I think."
"Let's go...shouldn't be too hard. Besides, it feels safe in here..."
Jeff grinned menacingly, "Oh... I will... Trust me... I... WILL."
Harper turned and looked at Jeffery, with an expression of mock horror: "Oh god... Don't make me go in front of him! Make Hadrian go first, at least he'll survive anything that happens..." He grinned: "Actually, what would happen if you lobbed a grenade into the same room as Hadrian?"
Jeffery cackled. "Who knows?" He made a weird gesture with his hands and four grenades shot out of his coat sleeve. He caught them with absurd ease, one between each space in his fingers.. He held them infront of his face, "But even a werewolf shouldn't take a Chronomancer with high-powered demolition lightly. He might find some ingredients of the weapons... disagrees with him."
"Together now, everyone..." said Bastian.
They wound their way through the maze, feeling lost and turned around...it took a long time but after much grumbling they emerged in front of a flat depression where, on a small dais, was a small black metal box. A shaft of white light shone on it, making it glitter.
"For some reason, I thought it would be larger."
The Golden Skull approached in and knelt down, carefully laying out each key.
"On your order, I'll start the process of unlocking it."
"Go for it, just get it open quickly."
The Golden Skull slotted the first key in, a star shaped key which he turned like a combination lock before a sharp click was heard and the key slid into the box neatly.
The nest were the colored rods, placed in a certain pattern and each one made a click of its own and through some small cracks light began to escape.
The third key was in the shape of a tiny flame which he slowly pressed into the cube, opening it a little more.
The fourth was an orb which, when inserted began to glow and spin opening the box more, as though it was unwinding the box itself.
The fifth key was strange and when inserted caused the box to bulge and grow a bit and release a puff of smoke.
The sixth and final key snapped in neatly and the outer shell expanded even more....before stopping unopened with light pouring out.
"That is all I can do. I must insert enough power to force it open....but we need all of our combined magical power to open it."
Pointing the glowing orb towards the group the Golden Skull sighed and said "Just some pure energy from us...it should work."
They nodded and each member let a beam of shining power radiate from their hands, causing the box to shake and in a glorious burst of light to pulse and fight against the barrier of its shell. They pushed harder, putting in more energy but it only swelled more but did not release its prize.
"Why isn't this working!"
"We need a little more force, something to disrupt it...."
"Jeffrey, if you have enough grenades now would be the time to use them. As many as you can spare!" shouted Bastian over the keening whine of the energy whistling through the air.
"Time to use grenades? INCORRECT!" Jeffery cackled hysterically and flung open his top coat. The jingling made sense now. Grenades. Probably around four dozen lined the inner part of his coat. "IT'S TIME TO TIME!!!" He reached the ignition cords and ripped them out, throwing the grenades in one swift motion. The grenades did not spin, but flew like an arrow at their target, smashing into it like a bullet. The four detonated, opening a hole in the barrier. Another four entered the barrier and clinked against the box. Jeffery's hand had been extended, in less than the span of 2 seconds he'd drawn, primed and threw 8 grenades. He laughed sadistically and turned around. The grenades exploded violently shredding the box. The only thing left... was a large portal of swirling energy. His laugh echoed throughout the room. He strolled down to the portal grinning like a maniac at the rest, "Come on, younglings. We have stuff to do."
Hadrian stared at Jeffery, shaking his head. "Sometimes I wonder what's going on in that insane little head of yours..." He let out an exasperated sigh and dove into the portal head-first.
Jeffery lit a cigarette and took a breath. "Really? I don't." He followed Hadrian into the portal. "I suppose if you're a ORV you'd concern yourself with the reality you're facing. And my head isn't little, you stupid one-sighter of a fool!" He chose to simply walk through the gateway.
Harper just shook his head at the mild insanity as he walked through the gateway, great-coat over his shoulder and pistol in hand.
The portal pulsed and beat, like a heart ripped from the chest of a living thing. Bastian stepped up to it, the Golden Skull beside him.
"I never thought I would walk side-by-side with someone I thought was an enemy only a few days ago...through a portal into an unknown world."
The Golden Skull merely nodded and took off his golden faceplate mask and laid in on the ground. "Were I am going, my identity need not be hidden." and his eyes flashed green before he stood up.
"Shall we go together?"
"Alright, but no hand holding..." said Bastian with a wink.
On the other side it was midday, the sun was high overhead and they were in a beautiful glade with trees soaring overhead. Behind them was an archway which the portal pulsed between, their only umbilicus back to their world. Faerie was beautiful and the air smelled of hawthorn and flowers.
Bastian was speechless....