The golden field had us stymied. Conventional magic was failing to bypass the field, and brute strength (and believe me, some of the others had that in spades) was also being less than effective. The gnoll had declared that no simple color would stop her and blithely walked through. I was trying hard not to think about that.
We had discovered “weak” spots in the field and had used methods of shape-shifting and extra-dimensional space to squeeze through the narrow openings, although once on the other side, it was apparent the trip was one-way. We had arrived in a small cave with some evidence of construction, a diminutive stream, and no other apparent ways out. The stream was displaying odd magical properties. I examined the weave and determined that the most probable way out was through the far wall. The gnoll offered to open a passage and did so most readily. This revealed additional information, in that her efforts ripped a hole in the cave and through to the other side. The cave was apparently structured immediately adjacent to the Void, the theoretical non-space which surrounds the outer planes. The sheer emptiness of the Void overcame some of the party, and after they recovered, I repaired the hole and used safer magics to provide egress.
We eventually found ourselves in a larger cavern, which was populated with ruined structures and rubble. A single structure remained – a library. The library, while containing much information on general arcane and planar knowledge, and mysterious elemental spheres, did not shed much light on where this place was and what happened to it. The group set to reading and exploring.
It was at this point that I began gathering more information about this random group of individuals who shared a similar conundrum. I found through conversation that the dragon-like being was actually a noble draconian known as Tiddus: a created being derived from cursed dragon eggs. He had informed us that we no longer had access to our gods of Faerun, however he had discovered and contacted another fire god who found him quite interesting.
There was one member of the group who did not consider himself separated from his deity, in fact, I was soon to find why the other drow elf, a warrior by the name of Serten, had been staring at me oddly since we had met. He insisted that in fact I was his god, and had the unsettling ability to lend truth to his claim by knowing surprisingly detailed information about my past. Apparently in whatever version of Faerun he hailed from, I held a position alongside Eilistraee as a good drow god. I determined to converse with him further on this point when time permitted.
The gnoll and human seemed to get along quite well from the start. They both exhibited an extreme dislike for sedentary activities and a boisterous enthusiasm usually only found in the very young. The human, named Spot (apparently self-inflicted), seemed to be very standard for his race, although apparently he had seen more than the average human in that powerful anti-aging magics had reset his body, effectively allowing him to live twice. I have decided to test if similar magics could be used to help the shorter lived races behave in a more mature manner collectively. His vow of poverty interested me. I had heard of the holy ascetics and the divine power they were infused with, but had not opportunity to witness it firsthand.
The gnoll, Barak, is an enigma. I eventually discovered that she had a nearly deific ability to alter her immediate reality to match her interpretation of it. She apparently had an imaginary pet wolverine which she has elevated to “real” status merely through force of will. While it is definitely solid and in all senses a living creature, it cannot be seen while under the effects of True Seeing – further confirming my belief in its quasi-real status. The fact that she was raised be humans and has a far more genteel outlook than an average gnoll is only to the good, considering her powers.
Through magical divination, and more mundane methods of exploration, we gradually started to piece together what had happened in the cavern. The lower levels of the library did not enjoy having physical bodies enter it, which was demonstrated when a few of our member had their souls stripped from their bodies. The monk, showing a resilience against such things eventually ventured to the bottom levels and discovered more answers as well as more mysteries.
Tiddus had discovered a magical fire which appeared to be a link to an elemental plane of fire (we had given up on expecting to encounter our own familiar cosmology), and wisely extrapolated that the stream similarly led to a plane of water. These portals seemed to be the only way out.
Piecing together our information gave us the following picture: We were in a small cosmology, created as a safe haven. The effectiveness of this venture was called into doubt as the cavern seemed to be used as a safe haven from the safe haven. A group of elves had tampered with whatever controlled this cosmology and subsequently broken it, leading to unknown but undesirable results. As it was, this mini-cosmology was sealed off from all other worlds, and had the unfortunate privilege of sitting atop one of the seals which kept the barrier against the Void in place.
As the mysteries surrounding this place lessen and new ones take their place, we escape from the “dugout” as we are calling the cavern, and head through the plane of fire, using the draconian’s abilities, into a new prime material plane.
To be continued