Part IV

A few moments ticked by, then another blast struck the dome – causing crystalline dust to fall from the minor surface cracks that’d appeared after the second hit, but little else. Sorvani chuckled – then caught his breath as large metallic leaves unfolded around the perimeter of the flying town. “Rut ro…” he grumbled, waiting for the hammer to drop. Backtracing the link from the shield to the obelisk shard, Sorvani rerouted some of the stored energy back through the link – which caused the cracks in the dome to seal back closed.

Ten minutes later, a warning hum from OUTSIDE the dome increased in pitch – and then a brilliant white beam over a half-mile wide screamed down from the heavens to shatter against the crystalline dome. Grimacing in pain, Sorvani abandoned all hope of control and just tried to hold his essence together – riding the wave of energy as only a powermaster could even hope to do. The voidcrystal fragment scorched his hand, the rancid smell of a burnt turd taking even the drow’s breath away.

After several LONG seconds, the beam cut off – and a bellow of rage from the city far above rang out for miles. Gathering the tatters of his essence back together, the powermaster shook his head and paused to stare at the voidcrystal fragment – which was now as white as a rolandite’s robes. “Sweet Mystra !! I hope they’re not gonna keep THAT up !” Refocusing his sight outside the dome, the drow saw a horned humanoid figure hopping up and down angrily atop the city’s tallest spire. Oddly, it had only ONE horn which arced up from the back of its head – much like a scorpion’s stinger in appearance. Flinging things in a rage, it spun and pushed a lever – which made the leaves fold back up, then the entire city began moving away to the north.

Sighing with relief, Sorvani waited until it was fully out of sight – then detached himself from the inside of the dome, reconstituting to his preferred form and returned to his tower. Looking at his full voidcrystal fragment, he grumbled “We really should have blown the gold on more of these, dammit. Wonder if Erok has one hidden away in his damn brewery ?” Hanging it around his neck, the drow abandoned his quest to rebuild the obelisk for only long enough to sketch and note down the things he’d seen of the floating city – which still took several hours, given his helm of total recall let him remember things with perfect clarity.

The sound of marching boots below snapped him out of his mental reverie, and extending a tendril over to the wall he grew an extra eyeball to see what was going one. A platoon of town guards, led by two young priests of Torm, were patrolling about. Collapsing his head atop his shoulders, Sorvani grew a new one around the eyeball (so as not to unduly alarm the men below) and called down “Oy ! The priests all finally wake up ??” Even from his vantage point above the tower, the powermaster could see that no new magic had grown to fill in the power he’d drained from them before – as only a tiny glimmer of magic dwelled in their mana pool.

The senior of the two called up “No, sir – only the least of us have recovered. Except Nedok, of course – who’s marshalled us to lead the town guards on patrol to see if anything unusual or unknown got through during the attack.”
Nodding at them, the drow replied “Very good. If you find something…”
“We’ve been told to sound the alarm and use this gem to alert the ogres, who’ll pass the word to Nedok on their way to battle.”

Sorvani smirked, knowing an excited battleogre was a hard thing to miss. “Sounds like you’ve got it covered. I’m sure i’ll hear the combat from here. Were you able to get the wounded all taken care of ?”
“Aye – though master Nedok was quite incensed at being charged such a high rate to ‘rent’ the healing and resurrection gems from the ogres, not to mention buying all that manawine !”
The drow could commiserate. “Tell Nedok that the city will negotiate with the ogres on his behalf, and cover half the cost of the final amount. Varalla wouldn’t want your temple to go bankrupt while trying to save the lives of her citizens – even if they don’t follow Roland.”

The priest smiled back at the powermaster. “I’ll be sure to do that, sir. Have a great day !”
Sorvani withdrew his tentacle – returning his head to its rightful place atop his shoulders. “Plus it’ll keep him from pestering me until Varalla awakes…” he grumbled, turning back to the Obelisk fragment.

Over the next few days, the powermaster experimented on the gemstone – feeding thousands of spellpoints of energy into it, until the point where he’d drained much of the voidcrystal shard into it and still nothing happened (besides it glowing brightly). Meanwhile, across the city – the task of rebuilding began. Teams were organized and began to spread throughout the city – cleaning up what was repairable, and marking what was not for demolition and material reuse. It was barely a day before one of the ogres stomped up to Sorvani’s tower – kicking at his door repeatedly until the drow came running.

“WHAT ??” the drow screeched angrily. “WHY can’t you malignant beasts just knock politely ?”
The battleogre looked at him like HE was the stupid one, giving his door one more kick as if to prove a point. “Tree guys want a door.”
Sorvani sighed. “They can’t have my door !”
It shrugged – and the powermaster realized it wasn’t a he-ogre, but a she-ogre. They were often too ugly to tell the difference. “Not a little door. A big door. Outside !” it finished, pointing at the dome overhead with its enormous shovel.

The drow held up a finger to reply – then realized the futility of arguing with an ogre who likely wouldn’t understand anyway. Heaving a sigh, he said “Very well – tell them to meet me at the south gate in an hour.”
She nodded once and strode away – leaving Sorvani to his work. Rubbing at his face, he mentally thumbed through the library of spellbooks he’d memorized upon attaining Powermastery – selecting a rarely used spell Daren himself had made a point to give him.

A more common metamagic trait that could be applied to spells would make them Persistent throughout a day – but that originally sprang from an augmenting spell that would stretch out another magic to last weeks, if used sparingly. Applying it to a slightly modified Spelljammer incantation that was designed to open wide spots in a crystal sphere so ships could pass through, he inserted the key phrase that would let it work on the city’s barrier – then embedded the entire constructed magic into a large diamond, which could be triggered with a simple word. Flying to the southern gate, he mounted it to a summoned stone archway and showed the guards how to use it (so he wouldn’t have to act as door butler all the time).

Teams of foresters moved out into the wooded land around the city – chopping down trees and working with the few druids in the city to plant saplings in their place, yet leaving a clearing around the walls. With no new ore to process, some of the dwarves went outside the wall to cut stone – while their fellows melted down and recast spikes, hooks and beams amongst other things useful to the task of moving and building.

Unfortunately, what became swiftly apparent was that the limited amount of food in the gardens and small farms inside the dome would barely last a week. Even supplemented by what was in the warehouses, they’d be lucky to hold out for two – there were just too many hungry mouths to feed. With the clerics unable to cast spells, there were no simple magical ways to summon food or drink. One week after the transference at a meeting of the town leaders called by Nedok, Sorvani revealed what he knew of the hostiles that’d attacked V’ral – which caused alarm to all but the ogres, who seemed eager to pick a fight. Obviously, they stood alone in their desires – though most others pledged support to defend V’ral if the flying city returned again.

Noticing that some disparity existed between casters, they discussed and theorized why arcane casters were slowly able to replenish their manapool – yet divine casters only received a tiny sliver of even that paltry amount. Psions, by and large, appeared unaffected by the transition – and so, for the moment, were the most powerful of the energy users in the city. Additionally, Brok reported that one of the men who worked at the brewery had full access to his allotment of power and magic spells – but as he was a preserver originally from Athas, that wasn’t surprising to anyone familiar with Athas. The man, who called himself Gideon, had sent Brok with an inventory list of their stockpiled grains for brewing – and the younger brother of Erok offered to shut down alcohol production to instead provide that as extra food, but the town leaders didn’t want to play that card unless things became dire. Workers who couldn’t drink and relax would become riotous, so for the moment booze would continue to be made.

Naturally, talk swiftly came around to Varalla’s absence from the city – which Sorvani quashed. “The Duchess has a great many things to deal with right now. You saw her healing the wounded and raising the dead – now she’s attending to the problems with her church AND the dwarves. She has put her faith in you lot to keep things under control – and if need compels her to emerge again, she will do so. In the mean time, you should direct any problems that YOU CANNOT deal with to Nedok, Brok or ME – in that order. I’m taxed quite enough with keeping the shield intact, repairing the obelisk and divining what in the nine hells happened.” His challenging glare brought an end to the meeting, though several stayed behind to grumble.

Nedok, of course, wanted to argue – but the drow pushed past him and vanished into the sky. Turning to glare at the ogre, the high priest of Torm challenged “I’m NOT answering to you !!”
His belligerence was met with aloof disdain. “Like i give a shit, hairball.” Shaking his enormous head, the giant walked away – leaving Nedok to fume and pace. The ogres held themselves apart from the town guard anyway – long used to getting called in when things got lethal, so unless something of great size or power threatened the city they weren’t terribly interested. Life in V’ral was quite a bit different than the militaristic lifestyle back in Argopolis – and if a good fight didn’t present itself, every few weeks Erok or his brother would take them out hunting dragons, giants or trolls for fun.

Knowing he’d learn more outside the dome, Sorvani left a mini-me at his tower – then opened his own passage through the dome with the same slightly-modified spelljammer incantation. Taking a page from the dwarves, the powermaster wandered over to a stream and loosed a magnified, extended Stone Tell – then settled in for a long Q&A session with the surrounding rocks. The spell was one he rarely cast, but for learning the history of a place it was one of the better divinations – if you could abide the slow, droning speech of the stones. Thankfully, his multicored mind was able to talk and absorb information while the other parts of his mind flung Wizard Eyes and other revelatory magics to research and learn about this new world.

After spending the better part of two days listening to the rocks and scrying into the nooks and crannies of the world, he discovered that unlike the Forgotten Mess – this world HAD no weave, nor ley lines to speak of. Yet magic was variously respected, used, and abused on this planet much as it was in the Forgotten Mess. This meant that there had to be some source of mana. Pondering the possibilities, Brok’s report on Gideon floated to the forefront of Sorvani’s mind – and he suddenly jumped to his feet, cursing himself. He had initially just brushed off that report because it came right after talking about the Psions – and the fact that Preservers on Athas were fairly weak, until they finally managed to draw in enough mana from the objects around them. Sorvani had spent a few years adventuring on Athas, and while there had learned the trick that the preservers used. Refocusing his being on his surroundings, his eyes grew wide at what he was felt.

Mana was seemed to be all around him – only trace amounts, but it was was literally EVERYWHERE. As he concentrated on gathering the mana in, he carefully began to pull it in – slowly at first, then faster than an Athasian Preserver would. Sorvani kept increasing his pull watching the nearby vegetation for signs of wilt or decay as would occur on Athas but there was none. Instead it seemed like the area was just suddenly void of mana but otherwise normal in every way – much like a dead magic zone from the Forgotten Mess. He was simply no longer able to draw more mana into himself. Noting his location, Sorvani grew a pair of wings and began a slow spiraling flight until he felt the ambient magic around himself again. He had apparently slurped up all of the available mana for about 100′ around his original location. Expanding his search upwards revealed that it seemed to be a dome, so Sorvani activated a psionic ability to adapt his body to the ground – then swam into the earth to find that the area the mana was gone formed a full sphere.

It’s source was not a ley line, node, weave or even living things, but the mana had to be coming from somewhere in the first place. Replicating the trick over and over in different locations such as under the water and in the ground, Sorvani considered the possibility of it coming from the Ethereal or Astral planes. Some transportational magics used the Planes as their way to shortcut reality and make distances come together because they bordered the Material Plane in all places simultaneously. The magics he had started casting before had seemed to work, but had just felt strange to a being as attuned to the flow of magic as a powermaster. Casting a simple Blink spell, but preventing himself from going through it, Sorvani studied the magic. There was definitely something strange about it, but it did not seem to be something related to mana. The vibe of a Dimension Door felt the same.

Giving up on the Astral plane for the moment, Sorvani tried an Ethereal Jaunt – again preventing it from actually affecting his being. This time the magic felt normal, with no strangeness to it, but neither was there any mana signature. Casting the spell again and letting it take effect on himself this time, Sorvani found the Ethereal Plane functioned the same as he was used to – but after a moment he realized that the feed of mana existed here too, and after going back to one of the places he’d drained found it seemed to be drained on the Ethereal Plane also. Sliping back to the Material Plane, he planted his ass on a rock to think some more. Having come out of the Ethereal Plane still in one of the areas drained of mana earlier, Sorvani got back up and began walking back to an area with mana – when he felt the slightest tingle behind him. Concentrating carefully, Sorvani could tell that just the tiniest amount of mana had come back to the drained area.

Hunkering down just outside the manaless sphere, he worked to refine the basic detect magic incantation to detect the raw mana he could feel and was absorbing to replenish his mana pool. Several headaches later he finally succeeded – and was promptly blinded from the light of the spell when it took effect. Dismissing the spell and regrowing a new set of eyes, Sorvani cast the spell again with his eyes closed, but this time reinforcing the spell to keep it functioning inside the dead magic area where he drained mana. Then stepping inside he opened his eyes to find himself inside a glowing sphere of light. Looking around carefully Sorvani was able to see only a couple tiny wisps of glowing mana inside the sphere. Sitting down in the middle and opening a few more eyes all around himself he simply watched and waited.

Ever so slowly new mana seemed to simply come into being around him. After 12 hours of watching without coming any closer to understanding the source, Sorvani estimated that it would take about seven to ten days for the entire area he had drained of mana to recover to a level similar to what it had been before. Sorvani then split into two smaller versions of himself leaving one to continue observing while he walked out of the sphere of dead magic and began fiddling with various divination spells in an attempt to trace back the mana to its source. As he completed each new spell he would link with his copy in the sphere and try it. After the better part of two days he finally succeeded in tracing down the source of the mana.

In a startling revelation, he learned that not only did the Obelisk transport them to a different world in a different universe, but they were apparently in a completely different reality, an entirely different MULTIVERSE. Here, there was an actual, PHYSICAL plane of mana – which seeped into the worlds it touched via small, capillary-like cracks in the underlying structure of reality itself. Inadvertently growing a third leg, he immediately decided to go there. Consolidating his two local bodies, he dumped everything he had learned into a storage crystal and jotted a quick note, then cast an enhanced unseen servant to walk the note and gem back to V`Ral. Turning about, the powermaster started honking off modified Ethereal Jaunt spells, anytime he ran of of power he simply drained another area of mana and moved until he got the spell to correctly send send him into the Mana Plane.

Fighting his urge to drink in all the various colors and flavors of raw mana, the drow emptied his pool into the sliver of voidcrystal and settled in to see how long it took to refill naturally. When his Manathereal Jaunt started to expire, Sorvani set up a feedback loop so it’d continually recast itself until broken – and continued his exploration. Objects in the physical world had a ghostly echo here – transparent but still substantial enough that they couldn’t be passed through. He considered trying to break into the sphere around V’ral – then got a funny feeling in his stomach that he’d (painfully) learned to heed, and decided against it.

After an hour, his manapool was full to the brim. Grinning like an idiot, he dumped it into the voidcrystal again – then tried various techniques for flash-filling his pool. It was in the midst of his fun when a soft, high pitched whine made him pause and look around. A few rounds later, something caught the leg of his robe afire – which he couldn’t put out. Realizing it too closely resembled spellfire, he shredded his robe and hurled the white-hot stoneskin wand away as far as he could. One of the benefits he liked most about being a doppler was having eyes in the back of his head – and as the erstwhile powermaster fled for his life, he watched as the wand grew too painfully bright to look at.

A burst of darkness exploded from where the wand lay – then slowly filled back in with the normal radiant magic that was normal here. Skidding to a stop, Sorvani pondered that oddity. “Huh – wouldn’t have guessed that. Wonder why it…” Another high pitched hum began, and he wasted no time snapping off his auto-refreshing jaunt to blast back into reality. “Ooookay – note to self : avoid taking along magic items you can’t afford to lose.” Checking his gear, the drow found everything else in a proper state and returned to divination – wanting to learn more about native casters of this new world.

Sending out a massive number of wizard eyes, he scryed around the world – locating wizard towers, every single one of which looked to have been GROWN from some sort of white coral-like porous stone and odd open-air roofless churches to gods he’d never heard of. Spying on them, he saw people going through their daily routine – priests calling out to certain constellations during their nightly worship, wizards embedding spells into the walls of their tower to radiate across the land or village around them. Strange monsters he’d never seen picked fights or waged wars, as did the races of men – and dozens, if not hundreds of flying towns and cities moved across the sky far to the north of V’ral. Nobles on six-legged skysteeds, which tread on air like it was earth, cavorted in the clouds as platforms of soldiers landed to beat and subjugate the people on the ground.

Eyes awhirl with information, Sorvani drank it all in – for the first time in his powermaster existence, understanding a bit of what Daren felt like when he’d mastered the weave and felt everything around him all at once. It was one hell of a rush.

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