Author Topic: The Alchemists' Portal  (Read 1831 times)

Anaris

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Re: The Alchemists' Portal
« Topic Start: July 29, 2020, 10:26:10 PM »
I wanted to add these onto this thread to be saved for everyone to see, since they are highly relevant and provide the in-character explanation for why portal stones no longer function reliably:

Concurrent with the Rising Tension post:
Quote
As the hours pass, the flickers of light become more intense, more urgent. The crackles of violet energy become more frequent. The air in the city becomes oppressive, as if a terrible storm were coming, but there isn't a cloud in the sky. Around the city, animals become restless—dogs whine to go out, then immediately want to get back in and hide under beds; tomcats set up a caterwauling like the city has never heard; rats begin scampering away from the Basilica; birds take to the air en masse and begin circling the column of light unceasingly.

Within the Solarium of the Basilica, the violet lightning is flashing nearly once every second or so now, and it is beginning to outline a shape in the air like a cat's slitted pupil, twice the height of a man, with its bottom point around knee height.

At the time of the ritual:

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A Violet Calamity

As the Oracle watches the flickering of the lightning, nearly continuous now, she begins to feel a growing sense of wrongness from it. The center of the shape outlined in violet in the air is now beginning to ripple with colors, and every so often it almost seems to be a window on some other place, but then fades to transparency again.

As the sun sinks below the western horizon, the crackles of violet lightning that have been flickering up the pillar of light extending from the Basilica into the sky begin to drift and bend oddly toward the west...and strangely, in that direction, with the sunlight no longer washing it out, an answering violet glow can be seen. It looks like it might be from somewhere in the Shattered Vales.

Eventually, after hours of watching the outline of the...portal? in the air, something new begins to happen. Over the course of a minute or so, the center of the outline of violet lightning begins to darken. When it has been entirely black and opaque for several seconds, forks of the lightning reach inward from several points around the rim and strike toward the center at once. Almost as if they are pulling back a veil, they then draw back toward the edges, and the blackness parts from the center outward to reveal a strange landscape.

On the other side of the portal can be seen a wooden scaffold, and a view over a vast plain. Standing just to either side of the portal are Daimons bearing glowing staffs. Standing directly in front of the portal is a Daimon with three eyes and a large gemstone on a chain around its neck. No sound passes through the portal, but it appears to be chanting.

Suddenly, the three visible Daimons lurch and spread their limbs to keep their balance as the entire wooden scaffold rocks. The chanting Daimon breaks off and turns to look behind at the sudden storm of violet lightning radiating upward from somewhere over the horizon. Then it turns back to the portal and begins chanting again, but its expression is unmistakable: terror. Though the scene beyond the portal is still silent, somehow words come to the Oracle's mind: *The Aether roils! Too many portals have made it unstable! The backlash will—*

The gemstone around the Daimon's neck flares brightly for an instant, then explodes, hurling the three-eyed Daimon backward off the scaffold with most of its chest missing. The portal itself suddenly becomes spiderwebbed with violet lines, as if it were a pane of glass cracking.

Then the portal shatters, and the world seems to shatter with it.

The portal stones explode, sending splinters of stone flying in all directions. Shards of the portal itself streak outward, leaving destruction in their wake. One slices through the Oracle's cheek as it passes, and though the cut it leaves is shallow, the pain is as excruciating as if her skin had been flayed off. Where the portal was, a vortex of violet energy twists and shrieks. It quickly rises through the roof—oddly, it does no damage to the structure, unlike the shards of stone and portal—and becomes a tornado, writhing above the city, touching down here and there. It still does nothing to the buildings, but anywhere it touches, the people caught within it shriek, distort, and vanish, being replaced by muscular Daimon soldiers with imposing pikes and hammers. The vortex seems to spend extra time around the Templar Nexus, almost as if seeking something there...

This lasts for another quarter-hour or so, with the violent violet whirlwind gradually fading to nothingness. When it finally disappears, everything seems normal again...save for the people who have vanished, the Daimons who have replaced them, the ravaged Solarium, and the Oracle, unconscious from the pain.

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The oval outlined in violet lightning is starting to show strange shapes within, faintly traced in the thinnest of violet lightnings. The shapes seem to be similar to the alchemical symbols for the basic elements and the cardinal metals...

Behind them, though, something else slowly begins to take shape: a strange landscape, with a barren land, a dark sky, and a faint glow around the horizon, as if it were just past sunset or almost dawn...

As the sun sinks into the west and the sky darkens from blue to black, another light grows in the east. As it has been for over a month now, the column of light emanating from Rines is just visible over the horizon. Tonight, though, it seems...different. A little more...violet, perhaps?

Just as the last sliver of the sun disappears below the horizon, there is a sudden crackBOOM as the lightning flashes all the way up the column of light for one moment, then steadies. The portal it surrounds now appears to be open. On the other side, in the distance, it is possible to make out a tall structure with multicolored energies playing about its top. Of the various colors, violet seems to be growing more dominant. Closer to the portal, twisted humanoid shapes move about. Daimons, only just becoming aware that the portal is here.

Now they are aware, though, and several of them come toward it. Though no sound crosses the veil between worlds, it is clear that one of them has also called for help, as more begin to come running. A half-dozen of them now stand around the portal, eagerness clear on their inhuman faces.

One steps forward, reaching out. He hesitates, then turns to his fellows, who nod and gesture him forward.

He strides confidently into the portal.

At the same moment, the face of the portal is once again marred by an alchemical symbol—the symbol for "Gold"—traced in violet lightning.

The Daimon shrieks momentarily in terror and pain as his body is rent asunder by terrible energies.

The portal blazes with unearthly violet light. Energies crackle from it in all directions.

The lines of metal on the ground suddenly glow white-hot, energy racing outward from the portal through them to the portal stones. The stones smoke for just a few seconds, then explode, shards of rock flying everywhere. The symbol overlaying the portal flickers and changes between all the alchemical symbols in turn again, but finally comes to rest on a little-used symbol, one any learned alchemist would view with the greatest trepidation: the symbol for "Void".

Suddenly, a screaming vortex begins drawing everything nearby in toward the portal—but as soon as anything touches it, it bursts into violet flame and disintegrates. Each time this happens, the glow of the portal intensifies.

Paul finds himself being dragged in, too, and though he scrabbles frantically to keep himself away, he is soon struck by something large and heavy—was that a cow?!—and knows no more.

This lasts for only a few minutes, though, the hellish violet light growing ever brighter, until it finally bursts, bolts of violet lightning shooting into the sky from the spot where the portal had been. The bolts strike again and again, lashing outward, upward, and at any person who comes close. The people of Iato are in a panic, and just starting to riot when as suddenly as it began, the eldritch tempest ceases.

A moment later, there is a flash of brilliant violet light from the east, then a paler glow for about a quarter hour, then the light from that direction dies entirely.

Where the portal stones had lain in Iato, now there is nothing but a scorched and blackened crater in the ground. Nearby, blocked from falling into the portal by a tree with all its leaves and most of its branches stripped away, lies the slightly charred, extremely unconscious body of Paul.
Timothy Collett

"The only thing you can't trade for your heart's desire...is your heart." "You are what you do.  Choose again, and change." "One of these days, someone's gonna plug you, and you're going to die saying, 'What did I say? What did I say?'"  ~ Miles Naismith Vorkosigan