Back in Core, Mr Anvari was researching legal options, in preparation for barging into Kadia and confronting Kevin. All that little bastard’s personal power wouldn’t matter a bit in the face of a court order! The lawyers weren’t too promising about direct suits – some jurisdictional nonsense, as if there was any question as to whether or not core law took precedence – but if worst came to worst, he could surely get him on false advertising! That was definitely going on in Core! At least half of what Kevin promised was obvious baloney! His sons would NEVER have accepted a contract that said that they were property, or that their new “owner” was entitled to turn them into dogs if they’d understood what they were getting into!
There were several groups who were willing to fund the attempt and provide some backing, and it hadn’t even taken much research to find them! At least SOME people were still clear-headed enough to see what a menace this “Kevin” creature was to the entire human race! Humans should not be fucking around with the Manifold and it’s powers until after they were dead!
Come to think of it, he’d be doing the little bastard a favor if he dragged him back out of his little fantasy-world and got him treated in Core! It was pretty obvious that he’d been possessed by something pretty nasty out of some horror novel!
At least SOME people knew how urgent this was! He’d probably be ready inside of a week!
Sadly, Kevin, the dread Demon God, had a terrible fate ready to inflict upon his enemies!
No! Not the inkblots!
So, Mr Anvari! Tell me about your father!? Was he… Anakin Skywalker?… No, sorry, sorry, that’s another patient…
Meanwhile, the fleet captain was mulling over whether it might not be best to somehow try to escape – to sail off and take their chances without an erratic wish-granting deity and his insane companions aboard. Of course, half his crew was made up of fanatical Thralls belonging to that erratic entity, and the entire bunch would probably just appear onboard if they DID manage to deal with that hassle and get away…
It might not be practical – in fact, it might not even be desirable, given how helpful the groups powers had been – but it would have made his headache so much better. He could still hear those horrible “bagpipe” things now…
Wait a minute!
(Captain) “PUT THOSE HORRIBLE THINGS AWAY! I DON’T CARE IF YOU DID LIKE IT! AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL YOU CAN FIND SOMEONE TO TEACH YOU TO PLAY!”
Meanwhile, the enormous energies seething around Kevin were looking for an outlet… Godfire was not a quiescent thing, willing to wait around untapped and unused… At least not once it started approaching the limit Kevin could stabilize. It WOULD express itself – even if Kevin felt that he had enough contending power sources to handle NOW and was refusing to learn to use it.
Some had already poured itself onto Marty, starting him on his own path to power.
More took that route – but some infused itself into Raphael…
Raphael, however, violently rejected divinity. He wasn’t going that route – becoming subject to endless demands from followers and worshipers – unless someone dragged him into it with a Death Star scale tractor beam!
He had, however, been wishing that he could keep a better eye on Kevin and Marty when they were off fooling around in other dimensions – and he had told the Thralls, reality-editors all (if weak ones) that he was traveling with Kevin and Marty.
That could be granted – although, unlike Marty and Kevin, his multipresence was tied to them, or at least to gods who were currently accepting his advice, instead of to places where he held strong identities…
Raphael, who was currently having some tea, nearly choked as things suddenly started happening to him in lots of other places at the same time.
(Raphael) “What the … how did this happen?… OH GOD I AN IN CRUSADER AGAIN! Dreadpuddle is free! Whyyyyyy?!
“Whyyyyyy” was because Marty – as The Animator – had an active identity in Crusader, and there was sending forth his cartoon terrors across Los Vegas, snatching scale models of various famous landmarks!
(The Animator) “Mwahaha! Caesar’s Palace is nothing before my Wasabi Legionnaires!”
Dreadpuddle – an identity so strong and powerful that it was partially independent on it’s own – promptly ran amuck.
(Dreadpuddle) “Useless Minions, go and get me more one armed bandits so that I can make minions that control people’s minds… and booze too”
Back in Cyarkian, with the guards withdrawing (crankily) after the “puppies” discussion, there were a few hours to go until the colony meeting – and they were currently somewhat unwelcome in the Inn.
(Kevin) “Good puppies! Heel! Hm… Perhaps you might want to go all fours and paw-hands! The locals may look at you a bit less funny!”
Meanwhile, in the forested fringes of a classic English estate, Raphael was surrounded by a baying pack of hounds, with a bunch of oddly-dressed horsemen and horsewomen bearing down on him atop graceful steeds – and had a fox balancing on his head.
In a large nursery, he was surrounded by mostly undressed-young women, nursing and fussing over babies – with Marty fussing over them as well, and talking endlessly about his new children.
He offered Raphael a cigar! It was traditional!
(Raphael, to the fox, as he attempted to fling it to the dogs) “Sorry little guy, but it’s you or me…”
Unfortunately, it frantically dove down the back of his smartclothes!
About then, the Atrium of a rather… extravagant and decadent roman villa faded in around him as another manifestation appeared.
Raphael tried to dodge the dogs, quietly back out of the nursery (with the excuse that smoking there might be bad for the children ready), and – for the moment – utterly ignored his tea. At least nothing too weird was going on in Cyarkian!
(Raphael, to the Marty who was offering him a Cigar) “What is going on?!?!”
(Marty) “My kids are coming! I think I’m up to twenty… no, wait, twenty-one. Hamsini just birthed the second son!”
Then Raphael got handed a newborn baby boy – which left him quite unsure as to what to do, looking incredibly awkward with the baby, and so stiff that his robots looked looser and more flexible… Was this his own personal reality storm?
At the villa, he stayed still – a bit of paranoia seemed justified at the moment! – and looked around in hopes of figuring out what was going on today!
Unfortunately, dodging a well-coordinated pack of hounds proved awkward. He turned – and one of the huge, sloppy, things reared up, planted it’s feet on his shoulders, opened a huge mouth full of teeth – and spoke;
(Hound) “Who are you and what are you doing with our fox?”
(A young girl in a very short toga at the villa) “Master? Are you here for the reception early? If you would come this way?”
She led Raphael to a room with an assortment of couches, each with several attendants standing by.
(Raphael, to the dog) “I don’t know. Where am I?”
(Marty, observing the stiffness and fussing over his newborn son) “Bah. Not like you had to come in here anyway.”
(Hound) “In the Wyld Forest! Where else! WAIT A MINUTE! What’s that tail sticking out? And isn’t that a hint of muzzle? Shapeshifting during the hunt is cheating! I can smell the illusion all over you! Bad Fox!”
(Raphael to Marty)”I am not sure how I got here.”
(Raphael to the hound) “The fox is trying to trick you; the illusion is coming from him.”
(Marty) “Huh. That IS weird. Sure you aren’t multiprojecting or something?”
The hound howled right in his ear – and the entire pack was now staring at him and howling… Also, he felt a small, invisible, fuzzy form sneaking out of his pants leg and down a hole.
(Raphael, to Marty) “I think I would notice doing that. I am in a couple of places right now, but I did not do this.”
(Marty) “Oh, hell. I think Kevin’s given some of his godly power to you by accident. Happened to me too… Oops! Shouldn’t curse around the baby.”
Raphael staggered as large dogs jumped on him, shouting something about how they’d caught the fox…
(Raphael, to hound) “Stop that! The fox went down the hole. Right there. I am not the fox.”
(Raphael, to Marty) “Give me a second here. I am trying to sort out where all I am… Could you direct me to a chair, and maybe a map? This will take some getting used to”
(Howling Hounds) “Pointy ears! Foxy Smell! Foxy Tail! Foxy Muzzle! Looks like fox, smells like fox, got the fox! We win!”
They were cheerily dragging him off to the hunting party – although, to be fair, they were… carefully only holding him, not injuring him in the slightest.
In the nursery, the baby began to fuss, and Marty handed him back to the-dressed-attendant.
(Marty) “Sure thing. Chair’s right over there and… well, I’m in Kadia, but I think you’re all over the Manifold.”
At the Roman Villa, a naked girl and boy were busily trying to massage his shoulders and serve him fruit and wine…
Raphael calmly accepted that. He was FAR too stressed to argue there – or to try to rock the boat in one of the few places that wasn’t complete chaos.
Back in Cyarkian, Raphael pumped far more power than was usually necessary into a simple “where am I?” spell – stacking on the extremely rare combination of trans-dimensional range and personal target.
Currently the hounds had proudly dumped him in front of the hunters – two of whom were scolding him for shapeshifting, another was looking suspicious, and one was looking amused and laughing at the hounds.
(Raphael, to Marty) “I’m sorry Marty. I did not mean to barge in like this. I am going to have to get this under control.”
(Marty) “Hey, it’s okay. Not like it can get any more chaotic around here with all these babies.”
(Raphael) “Confound it! I AM NOT THE FOX!”
Hm… He was currently in…
- Cyarkian, in the NIMH colony (of course).
- Kadia in the nursery at Marty’s Residence.
- The English Fantasy Zone in the Wyld Forest near Squire Jenkin’s Estate.
- The city of Los Vegas (currently under attack by the Animator) in Crusader.
- The Old Roman Imperium on the estates of Titus Decius Aquilla outside of Rome.
And the process didn’t even seem to be complete yet.
(Raphael) “I don’t know! Dreadpuddle is loose and I can’t direct all my attention to keeping him somewhat sane right now. Things can always get more chaotic.”
(Hounds) “Fox! Fox! Foxie Fox! Caught the Fox! That’s 50 credits you owe us Mr Fox!”
The amused hunter was laughing now.
(Raphael) “I am not the fox! He went down that hole back there after jumping down my back.”
(Amused Hunter) “You might want to wipe off that Illusion you’ve got all over you Mr…? That should settle them! Would you care for a towel?”
(Hounds, howling mournfully) Not fox!?!? He got away?! Aaagh! That’s twenty credits each! That’s most of this weeks allowance!”
(Raphael, to the amused hunter) “Raphael Midwater. Yes, I would love a towel.”
The Huntsman tossed him a towel – and Raphael quietly wiped off and took a look at the spell with his arcane sight… He could use that for a targeted dispel if necessary!
It wasn’t really. It was pretty low grade, and only good for a few minutes at that. It provided… a few “fox” traces – tail, muzzle, ears, and scent – via a bit of illusory shapeshifting. The towel had some minor charm on it to clean off all kinds of things – including minor spells and curses – and this cantrip was well within it’s limits.
Well, that was easy.
Over in the roman villa, the two young slave-attendants were trying to progress to more intimate attentions.
Raphael politely asked them to hold off for now. Now that he was recovered from his trip, he should really meet with the master of the house before taking too much advantage of his hospitality.
They did so quite obediently; they seemed to be very well-trained… Well, that was probably only to be expected. Rome had been good at that – and this was Rome after three thousand more years of practice.
(Marty) “Getting a better handle on things, Raphe? Want anything to drink?”
(Raphael) “Yes I think I am getting this sorted out. I think Dreadpuddle is drinking enough for ten of me. The chaos of just arriving is dying down.”
The hounds looked sad. They’d lost the fox! And twenty credits each!
(Marty) “So who’s this Dreadpuddle, one of your IDs?”
(Raphael) “Yes; I saw crusader splitting and thought that I could get to be a super hero with useful powers every time I went through there. So I spent some time establishing an ID to study the process of splitting from the source material and drew on the image of a character known for breaking the fourth wall to make it easier. That was a mistake; he isn’t quite separate from me, but he can really influence my decisions and is like a really strange drug that is not at all addictive, but can be slipped into anything and makes your entire world stand on end. He isn’t bound into crusader any more – he can rove freely – so getting rid of him is a chore.”
(Marty) “Ohhh… I get it. I’ve got an ID there too, s nutty supervillain who draws stuff. Yours sounds like more of a pain than that.”
Meanwhile, the Hunters got Raphael out of the woods – and returned the sad hounds to their kennels (where a happy fox was waiting to collect the bets), and the horses to their stable, where they would return to their stalls and get themselves rubdowns and some oats.
The kids in the villa continued to serve delicious snacks and wine and fruit while other guests arrived.
It seemed that the party was doubling as an auction of some sort; there were several high-ranking senators, a couple of rough-looking folks from gladiator schools, an imperial representative, along with a few really rich merchants and the most stereotypically tough-looking fellow Raphael had ever seen, with a face apparently rough-hewn from granite, from the Legions.
He was about the only one entirely turning down the slaves attentions; he seemed to feel that he was on duty.
Probably a slave auction. That sort of clientele was hardly likely to all want much else… That meant that Kevin or Marty should be around here somewhere, considering where he’d appeared in other places.
Actually, as the last of the representatives arrived, it turned out to be a mount- and-monster auction. Of course, considering the nature of some of the jobs the thralls worked that didn’t really rule them out… Still, most of the creatures up for auction seemed to be either genuine monsters or dragon hatchlings – although the selection included an assortment of animals and some metallic / organic things that were robots before being imported into a “primitive” world.
Raphael got a weird image of himself dressed as the “crocodile hunter” with a lab coat on top walking up to robots on an assembly line saying “now we should be very quite to hear the mating call of the CX-562 over here.”
Kevin did show up though – looking a bit older than usual and being throughly roman. He was very mildly surprised to see Raphael – but the auction was being conducted by more slaves while he circulated…
A bit of careful divination revealed that the Legion representative was there to buy additional dragon-mounts – and, privately, to rent more Thralls to help the Legions conquer more of the “barbarian worlds”, all the better to keep wealth and slaves flowing into Rome as they should!
Kevin was charging… an apparently-standard arrangement wherein he got the first pick on the new incoming slaves and some treasure from the conquests to support the local lifestyle.
Well, that was Kevin. Was he using the romans to spread his particular brand of… evolution?… to the vast primitive-tribal reaches of the Manifold? Over a hundred thousand years of prehistory those had gotten pretty spread-out and out of contact!
Raphael bid on the former robots! They might be quite interesting to have a look at, and – since cycling things through various worlds was not a commutative operation, it would be interesting to see what became of them in various worlds!
It wasn’t like he had any shortage of money… And the more he got things settled down (such as the tea part in the English Fantasy Zone at the moment) the more he could get things sorted out. Sightseeing could wait until he got the hang of each realm and had settled into stable patterns in each.
(Roman-Kevin) “Ah, Lord Raheala! I had not been expecting your arrival, but I will – of course – have the slaves prepare some guest chambers! Please do accept the services of these two while you are here! (To the slaves, ominously) “Do make sure that Lord Raphaela enjoys his visit here! Otherwise…”
(Raphael) “I was not particularly expecting to make it myself until I arrived. That seems to be happening a lot today.”
Events at the Villa settled down nicely as well. Roman-style entertainments (food, drink, slaves and gladiatorial games) might be a bit decadent, but they were certainly VERY classical and they were in plentiful supply.
Raphael mentioned the place to Marty over in the nursery – and Marty made a note to visit and create an ID there – perhaps “Martinus”? Rome sounded like fun! There were lots of good diversions there!
Raphael eventually got Kevin and Marty away from others and informed them that he had mysteriously gained multipresence – and give a list of all the places he currently was…
Of course, that was no surprise! Both Kevin and Marty knew what was up; after all, he was visiting them in several dimensions at once!
(Kevin) “Oh we noticed! But it’s a GREAT way to have more fun! You need to celebrate!”
Over at the villa he cheerily assigned “Lord Raphaela” several more attentive young slaves, a couple of cooks, someone with access to the wine cellar, a masseur, some dancing girls, a kid with a fan, some palanquin bearers, a few people to run errands, someone to arrange admittance to various events, a pair of debating philosophers, and so on.”
(Marty) “Ahhhhhh… yeah, you want to try the masseur. I imported one from there!”
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part IV — Don Quixote the Innkeeper (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part III — Damsels and Diplomats (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part I – Pets Versus Employees (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 188a – The Blossomary War (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 183a – A Darkness Upon The Deep (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 184a – Vampires or Lawyers? Vampires please! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 188b – The Negatives of Power Leveling (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part II — Marty on Morality (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 181b – The Crimson Permanent Assurance Trust (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 180a – Driven with the Wind (ruscumag.wordpress.com)