The Realms of Dream


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- narrative of the spirit walk of Jorgen Hammerstryke, son of Bjorn, blacksmythe of the Ch’ack Clan. (aka Jack Hammer of the Angry Jack Cult) Part 6 – I Meet Death

We wept. We roared our anger at the sky. We wept some more.

Remnants of some of our hunting parties soon arrived. They had been ambushed, or lured into battle with large forces. This enemy was stronger than any before.

Kellish called us together. He helped us turn our misery into anger, sharpening it as I would a blade on my wheel. “Some of our loved ones still live,” he pointed out, “the trail is fresh. Together we shall rescue them. We have each other. We always will. We cannot leave our families in the enemy’s hands. We are the Ch’acks!” These simple words struck deep within our hearts. Gathering what supplies we could scavenge from the ruins of our home, we set out. The remnants of the hunting parties added their Death Masks to ours.

The trail was wide. Many feet had trampled the ground hard as it made a beeline to the mountains of the north. The number of feet that caused this trail mattered not to our now forty strong band. We knew that we possibly marched to our death, but better to die fighting for what you hold dear than to grow old walking as if you were. Still, there were stories of Ch’acks that had won battles against odds of ten-to-one. We would test our mettle against those tales. The plan was simple. Carve a path into the enemy forces and rescue as many of the captives as possible. With their numbers bolstering our own our chances would improve. We would hold back nothing. Every tool, every weapon we had, would be used in this battle. Even the war dogs would be painted with the woad. Losing was not an option. Losing meant extinction, the end of our clan.

Three hours after we had found our home destroyed, with darkness set full upon us, the hunt for the attackers was halted as a scream pierced the night air under the new moon and soft clouds. Ch’ack women, especially Ch’ls, rarely scream. This scream certainly had the power behind it of a Ch’ack. Was this a ploy? We were close, and paused only long enough to exhaust our supplies of woad, discard any loose gear, and check our weapons one last time. We approached in one single wedge. I opted for a throwing hammer, to aid us in creating an opening in the enemy line. Not knowing how we meant to see we were relieved to find the enemy force laid out before us just over the next hill, with torches mounted around their camp. And more importantly, around a tight circle in the middle. That must be our families. Silent as death we approached.

The enemy somehow knew of our approach, though we expected them to do so, but instead of charging us they simply parted, revealing the captives. Or what was left of them. Quickening our steps we rushed forward. The light from the tall torches revealed the heaped bodies of our loved ones. No calls for help were raised. No hand reached out to us. No life was upon them. Their eyes stared at us, unseeing. White as the snow, soulless, reflecting only the fires of the torches. It dawned on me then what had happened. Their souls had been sacrificed to whatever being these animals worshipped. They would have no afterlife, their souls hidden away from their ancestors by some dark magic. I searched for the faces of my wife and daughter, hoping that I would not find them. I did, and that memory was etched upon my mind as surely as if placed there by a chisel.

My daughter’s angelic face, so full of life, now only held terror. My Liselle, her lifeless arm draped over Aiselle as if she were still trying to protect her. Gone in an instant were the good things in life. Something deep within me broke.

As one, my companions and I raged as we have never done before. As never any Ch’ack has done in time remembered. We fell upon the enemy with reckless abandon.

As battles go, it was glorious.

At least, up to the point where I died.

I cursed the Serpent as the last of my breath left me.


The Executioner of Lilies wrote:

For a moment Plantjack has a sense of unease - a feeling almost of the creeping shadows starting to gather of a tormentor he had dared to hope that he had rid himself of a long time ago.

Edit:
See the profile, though doubtful that Plantjack knew what she was or the extent of any limits that she has (such as the restrictions to shapechanging); just that she seemed impossible to kill and that for a period of twenty seven days she seemed bent on making his life as miserable as possible without actually physically harming him.

Plantjack feels a chill. "Arielle, I think it best you get out of here soon. The Weedwhacker is near. My soul can be saved by incarnum. That is the only way I know of, and only a god--or one who knows certain secrets of the gods--can give me enough incarnum to help. I am like a swarm of bees, trapped in a jar. I can only be saved if I have a bigger jar. They must cast the incarnum harvested with their knowledge to Plant of the Ch'acks. It will find me. Please, this is my last chance. Now go!"


- narrative of the spirit walk of Jorgen Hammerstryke, son of Bjorn, blacksmythe of the Ch’ack Clan. (aka Jack Hammer of the Angry Jack Cult) Part 7 – Death Ain't What It's Cracked Up To Be

Death is weird. At least for me it is. No white light, no golden fields, no family waiting to greet me. Instead I'm still here where I fell. Not that I expected my wife and daughter to be there and we would enter the Halls of Valhalla together. Still it would have been a bessing if it had happened. My wife would have, should have, been a valkyrie. My daughter, though so young, still had the fighting spirit that would have marked her as a Ch'l warrior and a valkyrie herself. I'm sorry, Father, for not being strong enough to join you in the halls of our ancestors. Death is cruel.

I float above my body, swinging my hammer harmlessly at the foes that struck me down, while they continue to hack at my corpse. Perhaps they fear that I will rise again? That knowledge makes my spirit smile. I roar, swing, punch, and kick at these curs. All to no effect. It's so frustrating. One by one my companions join me. Their actions mirror mine. The number of our enemies was greater than we guessed. Numbers enough to overwhelm even a Ch'ack. Even after we have all fallen, we fight on. Together in life, so we are in death. Our own bodies are surrounded by a small sea of the enemy's, yet their spirits do not rise to give ours battle. Even in this we are denied. Perhaps they are without souls. After a few minutes, a few hours?,...it is strange, time 'feels' different now...we cease our struggles and move to the bodies of our families. We search again for any small spark that we can cling to. Yet again, we are denied. It is a strange thing to look upon yourself, unable to feel. It is worse to look upon the bodies of your loved ones and know that you have failed them. In final insult, our bodies are left for the crows to feed upon. No funeral pyre, no songs, no honor. We yell silent curses at our enemies as they withdraw.

Years go by. Centuries? It is hard to tell. Our bones dissolve beneath the ground. The beasts of our home avoid this place. They must be able to sense our ever-present anger. At some point, a new battle was waged upon this spot. Our spirits fought alongside the living, trying to succeed in death where we had failed in life, hoping against hope that we could undo the evil that had been set upon us. No one notices. After the battle, more spirits join us in our eternal exile. They join us in the game as the years pass and yet another battle is waged. More spirits join us after this one as well. What is it about this place that denies certain souls their eternal reward? Cruel indeed to draw battle, then more cruel to trap the souls of the strongest warriors that fall.

Death sucks.

At some point something strange happens. We feel the call to our sprits. Hoping that finally we will be able to enter the Halls of Valhalla, we rush to the call. Fate remains as cruel to us now as she was all those years ago. Instead of valkyrie to welcome us, a host of golden men await our answer. I use the term 'men' loosely. They had no souls, no minds. They were shells. Still they offered us the chance to regain some semblance of life. We took it eagerly. The compulsion for battle was laid upon us. Heh. As if we needed much prompting on that accord. The faces our those soulless men we had fought so long ago were etched upon others of these constructs. With relish, we waged our war yet again.

After our victory, (ours?), some force tried to shunt us back to our hell. We resisted. Using the power granted to us in our upbringing, our training, our will, and our desperation, we refused to yield the bodies of bronze given to us.

Perhaps the fates took pity on us, and were giving us a second chance? Or perhaps this is yet another cruel game? It does not matter. I will search the lands in this undying body. I will find my wife and my daughter. I will not fail them again.

I am Jorgen Hammerstryke, son of Bjorn. I am a Ch'ack.


Much. Good. Reading.

:)


The Dalesman wrote:

Much. Good. Reading.

:)

:)

See? And you guys thought that Jacks were just brutal Thread thugs. And the girls, well, the girls just used us for our bodies. BTW, we're OK with that. ;)


Jack Hammer wrote:
See? And you guys thought that Jacks were just brutal Thread thugs. And the girls, well, the girls just used us for our bodies. BTW, we're OK with that. ;)

+5... :D


JH wakes up lying next to the pool surrounded by mist. The memories of his past life swirl in his head. He weakly pushes himself to his knees. His hammer lies on the ground by his feet. A mask of bronze lays beside it. He reaches for his hammer.

The arm moving to the hammer is made of flesh!

He pulls back. The arm follows. Holding his hand to his face, he examines it. He reaches to touch it with his other hand. It too is made of flesh. His heart races. Placing his hand against his chest he feels flesh, and the pulsing of life.

"It was not a dream...", he whispers to the mist.

He stands and picks up his hammer. Tentatively he picks up the bronze mask. It's like looking at a mirror, or at one of the other Jacks. He holds it up to his face. Magic courses through his body, and the hands holdng the mask transform to the bronze skin he has worn for so many centuries, the mask becoming part of him. He goes to remove the mask, fearing that it would resist. It does not. His flesh returns. It dawns on him.

"I am two people."

He begins walking, naked as the day he was born. The sensation of the mist upon his body is exhilarating.

The screech of an eagle echoes thru the mist.


Very Tempermental PlantJack wrote:
The Executioner of Lilies wrote:

For a moment Plantjack has a sense of unease - a feeling almost of the creeping shadows starting to gather of a tormentor he had dared to hope that he had rid himself of a long time ago.

Edit:
See the profile, though doubtful that Plantjack knew what she was or the extent of any limits that she has (such as the restrictions to shapechanging); just that she seemed impossible to kill and that for a period of twenty seven days she seemed bent on making his life as miserable as possible without actually physically harming him.

Plantjack feels a chill. "Arielle, I think it best you get out of here soon. The Weedwhacker is near. My soul can be saved by incarnum. That is the only way I know of, and only a god--or one who knows certain secrets of the gods--can give me enough incarnum to help. I am like a swarm of bees, trapped in a jar. I can only be saved if I have a bigger jar. They must cast the incarnum harvested with their knowledge to Plant of the Ch'acks. It will find me. Please, this is my last chance. Now go!"

"Yeah, I think you're right," she said shivering. "I'm not supposed to stay here long anyways. Mom won't say why, but the dreamlands are not a good place for us. I'll tell mom about what you said. She'll help you if she can. Bye, PlantJack."

With that the girl disappears.


Arielle wrote:
Very Tempermental PlantJack wrote:
The Executioner of Lilies wrote:

For a moment Plantjack has a sense of unease - a feeling almost of the creeping shadows starting to gather of a tormentor he had dared to hope that he had rid himself of a long time ago.

Edit:
See the profile, though doubtful that Plantjack knew what she was or the extent of any limits that she has (such as the restrictions to shapechanging); just that she seemed impossible to kill and that for a period of twenty seven days she seemed bent on making his life as miserable as possible without actually physically harming him.

Plantjack feels a chill. "Arielle, I think it best you get out of here soon. The Weedwhacker is near. My soul can be saved by incarnum. That is the only way I know of, and only a god--or one who knows certain secrets of the gods--can give me enough incarnum to help. I am like a swarm of bees, trapped in a jar. I can only be saved if I have a bigger jar. They must cast the incarnum harvested with their knowledge to Plant of the Ch'acks. It will find me. Please, this is my last chance. Now go!"

"Yeah, I think you're right," she said shivering. "I'm not supposed to stay here long anyways. Mom won't say why, but the dreamlands are not a good place for us. I'll tell mom about what you said. She'll help you if she can. Bye, PlantJack."

With that the girl disappears.

The mist carries within it a smell of ozone and roses. Familiar, but much stronger than JH can remember.

"Aise..Arielle?..."


Arielle pops back in.

"Here!" She practically throws the bottle at PlantJack. "That's what you asked for. Gotta go! Bye."

Arielle pops back out.


Ninja'ed.
Plantjack catches the bottle.
"Thank the heavens. I must reward that child...something tells me she may need it." He sends a viny tendril into the air, and something is sent to Arielle, wherever she is. Then Plantjack begins fading.
"Thank you so much....my final rest..."
He vanishes.


Arielle wrote:
Very Tempermental PlantJack wrote:

Plantjack suddenly feels a pull to oblivion.

"No...the dream is fading...I will not fade...I will..." His words lack strength. He struggles to hold on spiritually.
"There is yet a dreamer in here...the dream is still open...I will not fade..." And a weary Plant holds on.
Arielle delivered the incarnum. See previous post.

Fixed.


From somewhere strange words echo after the departing Ch'ack.
So long ago.... Once I think I trained you in spirit combat, but the time for that is long past. All you can do now is pray to the gods that you remember. That you remember everything and in time... The shadows of the serpents walk still.
With the dissipating sigh of lost and forgotten lore, the words break apart into fading susserations.


Styrmenvanterix wrote:

From somewhere strange words echo after the departing Ch'ack.

So long ago.... Once I think I trained you in spirit combat, but the time for that is long past. All you can do now is pray to the gods that you remember. That you remember everything and in time... The shadows of the serpents walk still.
With the dissipating sigh of lost and forgotten lore, the words break apart into fading susserations.

Ch'ack Hammer shivers as the words float across the mists. He turns and looks, but cannot find their source before they fade.


Before he departs, Plantjack catches the faintest of whiffs of a horribly familiar fragrance in the air, and hears the mocking dulcet tones of the nightmare.
Leaving so soon? Tsk, tsk. So uncivilised to depart without any words for an old acquaintance. Ah well. Perhaps the next time you are passing through these parts...
And then he escapes.


The mists around him fade, and the eagle screeches once more. He finds himself in a familiar place.

Heading to the Eyrie


A form appears in the middle of the mist. Human and adorned with blue woad tattoos of intricate and ancient design, and a bronze mask that hides its face. The tattoos glow in this realm. It parries and swings a hammer, as if battling some unseen foe. After a moment the warrior stops, then fades.


Two men, two worlds. One a dream, one real. Which is which? To separate one's spirit is a dangerous thing.


Ch'ack Hammer wrote:
Two men, two worlds. One a dream, one real. Which is which? To separate one's spirit is a dangerous thing.

O.o Oh no...


Ch'ack Hammer wrote:
Two men, two worlds. One a dream, one real. Which is which? To separate one's spirit is a dangerous thing.

But this is what Spirit Warriors do. Each generation trained by the ancient drake to walk the tightrope between life and death. To battle where the living fear to dream.


Sky Cloudgather wrote:
Ch'ack Hammer wrote:
Two men, two worlds. One a dream, one real. Which is which? To separate one's spirit is a dangerous thing.
O.o Oh no...

Really shouldn't have done that Ritual. Now my spirit is spilt three ways.... *blocks that thought from Blodwen*


Symbols form out of the ether, floating for brief moments before vanishing. Rarely forming complete segments, they tease the minds of those that study their lore.


Slash, parry, block, thrust. Combat of a spiritual nature with endlessly flowing runes as teacher and tools.


In the Realms of Dream, in the heart of the wildwood, in the hall where pillars of carven stone and twisted wood alternate in their march about the vast central dome which they support above yet another of the palace's many thrones, the Night Dragon sits, illuminated by a single shaft of moonlight from above, girded and armoured in her elven form. At the foot of the seven stepped dais upon which the throne of ivory and of horn is centred one of the Denizens of Leng grovels and pleads, flanked by two impassive faced and mithral-clad ash-grey haired nymph guards. Words such as vengeance, trade, and enemies dribble from his mouth, as he desperately tries to make his case to the dread monarch of the twilight.
She sits there, in robes of silvery white, spun from the finest phase spider silk and decorated with innumerable pearls from distant seas, whilst he begs, her hair the only hint of colour, until he has finished.
And then she rises from her throne, calls a spear to hand with a snap of her fingers, and calmly slays him, the spray of his vital fluids spattering all around but leaving her untouched and pristine in the moonlight.

Remove his head and send it back to Leng on a silver platter with a scroll thrust through his head, from ear to ear, with the single word 'no' written in ancient fey upon it, she instructs the guards. Burn the rest, and send it back too, in a crude pottery urn.
She resumes her seat in the throne and contemplates another war, as the nymphs hurry to carry out their mistress' orders.
In other words nothing much going on here... Carry on everyone else... business as usual. ;)


Runes drift in and out of the realm, with more frequency than dreamers enter. Spirits and dreams intermix freely. Some of the runes try to interact with each other, as if they knew each other in some past life. A few of the runes are successful, and their groupings match those of musical compositions. The songs they play when they meet seem to be guided by some unknown composer. Others simply clash about until they are pushed aside by the haunting melody.

One rune drifts towards these gatherings, as if to see if it fits. Or perhaps it searches for other kindred runes. It moves on.


As the blue rune floats along the boundaries of dream and spirit it catches the sounds of a symphony of sadness. It hurries over. No...these runes sing of something called Black Death. The search continues. Do spirits really dream? His training said they do...

Not a single piece of evidence, not a single survivor, of the victims of the one called Soul Eater is to be found. Perhaps the Spirit Realm holds them trapped. Traveling there is much more dangerous.


Runes twist and dance, flowing like water, flickering like flame. They swirl and shift like the winds, and then stablise to hold for a moment, solid as rock, in a pattern like a map... a map to a gate from the physical world to a kingdom of spirits. A place of deadness, where the spirit world and physical world touch.
But the runes also warn of dangers.

I'm assuming this gate/planar rift may be somewhere on the RPG thread. Greek/roman poets such as Homer and Virgil tell stories of heroes who descend into the realms of the dead, if you're looking for inspiration from the classics.


Styrmenvanterix wrote:

Runes twist and dance, flowing like water, flickering like flame. They swirl and shift like the winds, and then stablise to hold for a moment, solid as rock, in a pattern like a map... a map to a gate from the physical world to a kingdom of spirits. A place of deadness, where the spirit world and physical world touch.

But the runes also warn of dangers.
I'm assuming this gate/planar rift may be somewhere on the RPG thread. Greek/roman poets such as Homer and Virgil tell stories of heroes who descend into the realms of the dead, if you're looking for inspiration from the classics.

Thx. Not sure how the search for the stolen souls will play out. Just been planting seeds. ;)


In a secluded section of the Realm of Dreams, a fetid swamp guards the entry to the Spirit Realm. Dreamers are loathe to travel this way, but the cries of the unwary still pierce the air on occasion. Only seasoned travellers can ignore the poisonous fumes that block the way, and only the strongest can survive the denizens that call this place home. There are other entries to the Spirit Realm, but few are known to the living. There is but one that touches both the lands of the living and dead. Both locations are meant to keep their secrets safe.


In the midst of directing an elaborate and complicated attack designed to utterly crush one faction of the Denizens of Leng, the Elven Queen's attention is partially diverted for a few moments by events beyond the bounds of her kingdom on the prime-material plane.
She arches an eyebrow, and gives a mildly exasperated sigh, then dispatches a lieutenant with some orders and returns her full attention to the attack currently in progress.


Under heavy guard of faeries, in the depths of the Wildwood, Sorsha approaches a circle of standing stones and in the instant when for a moment this particular gate is allowed open a crack, slips through into the world beyond.


Countess Sorsha reappears and briefly shakes her head to the awaiting guards. They move off through the moonlit trees.


"No," Aidan thinks as he dreams the same nightmares that nurtured the Dark Fire.

His time at the Carnival, daggers flying through the air to peirce his body.

A memory not his own. One in which he is fighting The Bard, LJ, and JH, an cannon coming out of his chest and launching fire at them...

A happy time, of being in the Eyrie, happy and sparring with Oroth.

Then the dreams mix in the most horrific of ways, and he wakes up.


But the dreams return, picking up where they left off.

He's back in the carnival, being totured for the entertainment of the audience. But it is not his captors that inflict the pain, no it is those he loves and trusts. Allura twists a knife in his leg, smiling as his screams cause the onlookers to yell for more. Devlyn, in his hybrid form, slams his claws into Aidan again and again. Ribs break and one lung is peirced, causing his next scream to turn into a bubble of blood before bursting. JH(now CH) reaches into his body and twists his soul until it tears, fixing it so he can start over. LJ shoots arrow after arrow into him, the pain sudden and fleeting as they heal him in order to continue their torture. The Bard forces water up his nose and down his throat, almost causing him to drown before he let's up. Oroth stands next to him, saying over and over "You're the reason they died..."

The cannon springs from his chest, unleashing a horrific blast of fire. He loves the sound of his tormentor's cries of agony. He is the Fire Champion, the Steel Tsar, now and forever and his enemies shall burn for all eternity...

A pale light shines through Aidan's dreamscape, cutting away the armor that encases him, releasing him from the Fire, and ending another nightmare...


Ouch. Harsh stuff, those nightmares....

Shadow Lodge

Think of the armor as an intelligent item that has started to affect his dreams by mixing it's memories with his(and of course making Aidan's mix for added effect) in order to gain control over Aidan. Even with the armor 'gone' the after effects are still there. I can be so creative sometimes... :D


Teenage boys should be dreaming about saucy wenches. This kid is messed up. :)

Shadow Lodge

Emperor7 wrote:
Teenage boys should be dreaming about saucy wenches. This kid is messed up. :)

The Shade profile has him as 12, he was totured for about five years, became the Fire Champion, had to deal with his brother's 'death', and you expect him to have normal dreams? Perhaps you are the one messed up! Just kidding... or am I? ;P


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Emperor7 wrote:
Teenage boys should be dreaming about saucy wenches. This kid is messed up. :)
The Shade profile has him as 12, he was totured for about five years, became the Fire Champion, had to deal with his brother's 'death', and you expect him to have normal dreams? Perhaps you are the one messed up! Just kidding... or am I? ;P

lol. just busting your chops. You'd think the 12 yr old fire boy would dream about 'hot' chicks at least. ;)

Shadow Lodge

Emperor7 wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Emperor7 wrote:
Teenage boys should be dreaming about saucy wenches. This kid is messed up. :)
The Shade profile has him as 12, he was totured for about five years, became the Fire Champion, had to deal with his brother's 'death', and you expect him to have normal dreams? Perhaps you are the one messed up! Just kidding... or am I? ;P
lol. just busting your chops. You'd think the 12 yr old fire boy would dream about 'hot' chicks at least. ;)

Gotcha. Fire bloodline sorcereress' coming soon.


Personally, I think that his nightmares should be a whole lot worse. Evil begets evil. He should be as depraved as his former captors.

Shadow Lodge

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Personally, I think that his nightmares should be a whole lot worse. Evil begets evil. He should be as depraved as his former captors.

In that case... why don't you make his next dream? I have no objections.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Personally, I think that his nightmares should be a whole lot worse. Evil begets evil. He should be as depraved as his former captors.
In that case... why don't you make his next dream? I have no objections.

Sorry, you gotta write your own story. I'm not doing it for ya. ;)

Shadow Lodge

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Personally, I think that his nightmares should be a whole lot worse. Evil begets evil. He should be as depraved as his former captors.
In that case... why don't you make his next dream? I have no objections.
Sorry, you gotta write your own story. I'm not doing it for ya. ;)

This is for you.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Personally, I think that his nightmares should be a whole lot worse. Evil begets evil. He should be as depraved as his former captors.
In that case... why don't you make his next dream? I have no objections.
Sorry, you gotta write your own story. I'm not doing it for ya. ;)
This is for you.

Grr. I almost stopped watching th Blog because of that picture. I still think they did it on purpose.


Aidan floats around a strange new place, unaware of where he really is. All around are spheres, and shocked realization shows on his face when he figures out they are world. Amazed by the birth of a new world to his left, dismayed by one's death to his right, Aidan floats on.

After what seems like an eternity, Aidan feels a presence -no, there are two- following him. He turns quickly to see a beuatiful woman floating in front of him, her form always seems to be different than what it was the moment before. The other presence is... himself when the Fire was in control.

The woman is Yggdrasil. Easier to have the World Tree appear humanoid than have a giant tree floating there.


"Where am I?"

"In a dream. You are seeing what I do." The lady's voice sounds like the wind flowing through leaves

"In your nightmare. You are seeing what Fire will destroy!"His other self's voice sounds crackles like fire.

"You have a choice, Little Fire. Will you fight the Flame here and now, drink from the River Lethe, or let the Flame take over?"

Aidan looks between the woman and his other self, confused and unsure. "What happens when I choose?"

"Hahaha! Do you really think you have a choice? I'll burn away inside you until we are one again, melted together for all time as the Champion of Dark Fire!"

"If you drink the water, you will forget all. The good and the bad. But you will also give up all the wonderful futures you may have."

Images form between them, showing Aidan smiling and happy. One shows children playing about him, calling him 'Uncle' and 'Daddy' and 'Big Brother'. Another shows him happily living as a glass and pottery maker. Yet another shows him traveling the Planes, making new discovories and new friends.

"If you choose to fight the Fire, keep it surpressed, I will give help, no matter how small. If you choose to give in to the Fire, I will fight you."

"And she will lose! Remember the power? How good it felt to control and army of fire? The joy of calling forth molten rock alone should be enough to make you realize how foolish the over-grown dryad is!"


"Is it foolish to want to protect those you care about? The choice is your Little Fire, don't let the first Champion of Fire influence your decision!"

She flings her hand toward Aidan's other self, and speaks an ancient word that makes Aidan shudder. His other self begins to become hazy, changing form, until it is the Steel Tsar again.

"It was not strong enough to survive the fight with E7, so it clung to the armor you were once so proud to wear, unaware that the metal abomination was slowly working it's way through your mind. It is the reason you have been having those nightmares, the reason you have been feeling so badly, the reason you almost attacked those you loved!"

For a moment, Aidan glances between the woman and the Tsar. Then his eyes harden with determination. A plae silver light enshrouds him.

"I've made my choice."

Turning to the Tsar, he floats toward it. He merges with it, even as the woman sighs her disappointment and the Tsar laughs in victory. The Aidan feels himself moving away, his mind returning to his body. He wakes up...

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