Mary was hovering in the Gods Realm as she looked down on Parthia. Almost everywhere she looked small pinpricks of light glowed, and they all were in someway connected to her.
She sensed a presence approaching and smiled, “Hello Ocidon.”
“Hello Mary, what is the problem, you feel so serious.”
“It’s just,” she waved a hand indicating the globe turning beneath her vision, “Sobering. They all – believe. They expect so much and so little. And then there’s this—”
Mary concentrated and a second globe appeared alongside Parthia. Tarifax also held many scattered dots of light glowing brightly. The ratio was somehow different, more believers, less agents.
Ocidon chuckled ruefully. He examined the new world carefully and he was surprised when he found a scattering of believers, only a few true but he confronted by a choice. Not that the decision was ever in doubt. Ocidon treasured his followers, if he hadn’t he would have been as dead as he sensed the Sea Gods of Tarifax were.
Smiling ruefully he focused his attention and gathered up his worshipers and grew. “And so it goes Mary. That is one seriously sick world Mary. Was this wise?”
Mary focused on her domain on Tarifax and the waters surrounding it. She shared her vision of all her little purifiers, the micro plants and plankton, the sulphur binders, the clean up crew.
“Ah, I see. Slow but sure. Will they cover the oceans in time?”
“Maybe, I think so.” Mary shifted her attention and the representation of the worlds faded. “I have agreed to meet – Azurea. Do you wish to be present?”
“No. But if you need me just call.” Then Ocidon faded from sight and was gone.
Mary lingered for a few more moments on her own before leaving. And once again this portion of the Gods Realm was empty.
* * *
Mary materialised in her temple in the gloomy deep valley, she smiled admiring the carved pillars topped with softly glowing globes that imparted the illusion of a moonlit night to her temple. She floated over the altar and grinned at Drina.
Drina grinned back, “they’re on their way. Deepsix is having a crisis of conscience. He doesn’t want to let Lara out of sight and he knows he can’t fetch her here. Are you trying to detach him from the blue haired one?”
“No. But maybe to cause him to think twice should he be asked to act against our interests.”
* * * PARTHIA – CREEVAR’S KILLERS * * *
“Well brother, that was a surprise. Did you know Blue Lagoon already has her own priests?” Harrassan asked as he headed back towards their inn with Sreecator.
“I had received hints but I wasn’t aware it had got this far, no,” Sreecator replied as he glanced at the crowd awaiting the brig that was even now traversing the straight between the islands on its way to the port.
They found a worried looking Deepsix sitting on the beach next to the inn cradling a dormant dungeon core.
Sreecator looked stunned, he cleared his throat and asked, “Where did you get that Deepsix, and is it what it looks like?”
Deepsix looked round. “Yes. This is Dr Lara Fisher. She was declared Personna non Grata by Blue Lagoon. What’s Personna non Grata?”
“I believe that is officialise for very unwelcome. So what are you doing with her core?” asked Harrassan.
“The high priestess gave her to me and charged me with finding her a suitable place to establish herself. She doesn’t like children and was originally from Earth.”
“And you are one of Azurea’s twiceborn... Right. Never mind, we’ll help you out. I know of a couple of locations that might be suitable,” mused Harrassan.
“Um, Harrassan, the priestess said Mary Silvestre, her goddess would... um, meet with Azurea in her deep water temple at noon. And... to ask you how we could attend as it’s underwater? That is if you think we should.”
Sreecator snorted even as Harrassan nodded thoughtfully and explained. “Well this is probably one of the better locations to find water breathing enchantments and potions. And Deepsix, it is wise for a group like ours to learn as much about the gods as possible so we will attend if allowed. Azurea’s priestess and her acolytes will be there come hell or high water just because Azurea will be present. As for you, you’ll know best.”
Harrassan looked out at the temple in the lagoon. “Well I’ll go and speak to the twins. Ask them to find the things we will need and I’ll get them to add something for you just in case.”
* * * EARTH – JAKE * * *
The mail had arrived early today, mind you it consisted of one letter. Jake examined the envelope in his hand as he sipped his first cup of coffee for the day. To his bemusement it was addressed to Guild Master the honourable Jacob Hennessy, C/O Adventurer’s Guild followed by his address.
Jake used his butter knife to open the envelope.
Congratulations on having founded the Adventurer’s Guild here on Earth. I’m sure you will soon have access to lots of pertinent information thanks to The System.
My friend, the intelligence behind Alligator Haven has enjoyed your forays into his dungeon and speaks well of you.
Just to let you know that you are not yet up to venturing into Winter Wolf. The intelligence behind Winter Wolf is not forgiving.
I suspect you would enjoy Dinosaur Caves but the authorities are currently monopolizing him, and forbidding anyone not cleared by them access.
There are a further three named, functioning dungeons present on Earth besides myself. I do not feel free to divulge their names, as they have not, as yet, been located.
Then there are eighteen beings currently transiting. These eighteen if they survive long enough will inevitably set down roots and become functioning dungeons.
There will be more, after all one never knows when or if someone might just choose “dungeon” as his or her race.
I have taken the liberty of informing the heads of the Adventurer’s Guild on the worlds of Parthia and Tarifax, and I have offered to forward any communication from them to yourselves.
Wishing you a long life and success in your chosen career,
Blue Lagoon, dungeon.”
Jake set the letter aside with a snort, poured milk over his cereal and ate his breakfast, got ready and went to work. After the early rush he settled down behind the counter of the 7-Eleven he worked at, and out of curiosity checked with the System. To his shock he had a message acknowledging him as guild master and what looked like endless options with reams of information regarding duties, powers and obligations.
Jake got through the rest of his shift on autopilot.
* * *
The members of the Adventurer’s Guild, all six of them sat round the dining table in Wiz’s apartment. They all looked longingly at the small bookcase filled to overflowing with Wiz’s AD&D books and modules.
Jake placed a letter in front of Carlito. “This came today. I want you all to read it, and while Carlito reads it I want the rest of you to call up the System and query it for Adventurer’s Guild. Then Dungeons, Alligator Haven, Winter Wolf, Dinosaur Caves and Blue Lagoon.”
Carlito started to slowly read the letter. He looked startled, “Is someone having us on bro?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But I never told no one about the name. How would Blue Lagoon know about Alligator Haven?”
Carlito passed the letter to his sister Jinny, who had already regretted agreeing to help them out by joining their guild. She sighed and started reading it.
After they had all read the letter, even Carlito who had finished reading it after everyone else had finished. Their attempts at ploughing through the system seemed to have left them all shell-shocked.
Carlito looked round the table. “I quit as Assistant Guild Master. I nominate my sis Jinny. She’s the geek.”
“Hey!” complained Jinny.
“Seconded,” said Wiz enthusiastically. “It’ll shut that bitch up if we have Jinny as assistant Guild Master.”
“Hey!” objected Jinny.
Jake grinned, “Let us all welcome our new assistant Guild Master. And Wiz you’re the computer wiz. What did you find out about dungeons from the system?”
“They’re all ranked. The ranks seem to denote massive jumps in power. You know, twice as powerful followed by four times as, then eight times and so on.”
Wiz picked up his notepad and glanced at it. “Like the letter said, there are seven dungeons on Earth. Blue Lagoon is the most powerful at Godlike and is classified as an ocean dungeon. Next is one that wasn’t named. It is graded Elite. Winter Wolf next, Veteran and Ice. Another unnamed comes in at Master, followed by another unnamed and Dinosaur Caves both ranked Journeyman. Our Alligator Haven is ranked Apprentice. There are none ranked Novice. I was unable to find anything about people transitioning. And yes, dungeon core IS a race, so some idiot could choose it. And I bet some will.”
Jinny looked up. “I bet the caves under that park in Maui where the extinct creatures are being found is Dinosaur Caves. The feds are all over it just like Blue Lagoon writes. And Winter Wolf fits that clusterfuck in Bismark to a T.”
“So what do we do about that?” Carlito pointed to the letter in the middle of the table.
“Scan it and file the original,” suggested Jinny. “And do you still have the envelope Jake. Any clue where it came from?”
Jake pulled a crumpled envelope from his pocket, scanned it and said, “It’s got a return address, a PO Box in Panama City, Florida.”
“I’ll scan it too, and staple it to the letter before we file it.”
“Are we going to reply? Should we reply and maybe ask for more information?” asked Jake.
“Hell Yeah!” agreed Wiz. “And how about trying to contact that girl that seems to be quoted for everything regarding the System. She’s from Hawaii isn’t she?”
* * * EARTH – MARY * * *
Mary grinned at Tessa and Lissa, She and Tessa picked up pet carriers and made their way down the narrow path to the single storey grey coloured building on Ano Street and went in. Mary grinned at the recetiponist. “Got three breedin’ pairs of little ponies here. How would Maui Now like to find them a deservin’ home with a little girl, or boy I guess, who’d love ’em?”
“Hewo,” said the green pony, “wanna be fwends with som’on’ nice,” said another.
Things got confused fast and by the time Mary left the station had plenty of material for a scoop.