- The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.2
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.6
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.3
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 6
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 5
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 4
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 3
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 1
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.7
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.6
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.5
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.4
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.3
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.2
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.3
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 6
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 5
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp.1
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.2
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 1
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 5
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 1
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 2
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 3
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 4
- The Descendants #96 – Kill Hope Chp. 6
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 2
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 3
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 4
- Descendants 97 – Heir of Hyrilius Chp. 5
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.1
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.3
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.4
- Descendants 98 – The Precocious Prodigy Chp.5
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp.2
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 3
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 4
- Descendants #99 – Huddled Masses Chp. 7
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.1
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.2
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.4
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.5
- The Descendants #100 – Paradigm Shift pt.6
- Descendants #101 – The Battle of Freeland House Chp.1
- Descendants Special #9 – Outted
- Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 2
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.1
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.2
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.4
- The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.5
- The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.1
- The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.3
- The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.4
- The Descendants #104 – VIRAL Chp.5
- Descendants #105 – Foreign Relations Chp. 1
- Descendants #105 – Foreign Relations Chp. 2
- Descendants #105 – Foreign Relations Chp. 3
- Descendants #105 – Foreign Relations Chp. 4
- Descendants #105 – Foreign Relations Chp. 5
- Descendants #107 – Loki’s Game Chp. 1
- Descendants #107 – Loki’s Game Chp. 2
“Actually…” Lisa fidgeted a bit as she sought the words, “I finished my training, but I think it might be really important to go through with the ritual I’ve been training to do. Whatever’s in the Vault is most certainly something Hyrilius left to help combat Maeve. Not only that, but I’m starting to realize that being the Heir of Hyrilius means more to the people here than we could have guessed. I want to learn exactly what’s expected of me.”
While Warrick and Tink were processing this, Gabraed make some grumbling sounds to which Dana replied with, “What? Why didn’t you say anything earlier?”
“What’s he saying?” Tink said without looking away from Lisa.
Dana scowled at Gabraed and folded her arms with a petulant expression. “He was the Errolking’s known all about this ‘Hyrilius’ stuff but didn’t believe the Heir would be found in time.” She glared at her four-legged companion before looking back to Lisa. “So basically, I’m the Errolking’s back-up plan in case you never showed up.”
Gabraed rumbled and yowled a bit and Dana held in a sharp laugh. “He says he’s still not sure. No offense—the ‘no offense’ was me, not him.”
“None taken,” said Lisa, “Considering I was only declared the Heir this last week by a magical construct that’s been walking around looking like me and has been an enemy for the past few years, I’m not completely convinced myself. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take this business seriously.”
Still gripping the wriggling bag in one hand, Tink held it closer as she asked, “What exactly does taking this seriously entail? You’re acting like you’re not going to come home with us.”
“Yeah,” Warrick chimed in, climbing down off the boulder he was on with the help of the twins. “You do realize it’s a one-way trip, right? Once we go through the mirror, we can’t come back to help you.”
“Just another reason for me to stay,” Lisa pointed out. “I know how to make receiving mirrors and key the D-icons to them. That would give us a means of going to and from Faerie at will! Think about the potential that gives us.”
Tink nodded reluctantly. “You’re right. We had no idea how to actually get here before and there’s an incredible wealth of information here we could use—not to mention the strategic advantage.”
“Not to mention how shitty it’d be to abandon Chilani and Cohl if we’ve got another option.” He shot Tink a questioning look and after some brief, non-verbal communication that ended with her nodding, he continued, “We’ll stay too; wouldn’t be right to leave you behind.”
“But at the same time, we should still figure out how whether the D-icons will work at all and get Dana home,” Tink added.
Lisa nodded. “Then we have a plan. You two do your experiments and I’ll build the mirror. I can do that in two days and still be ahead of the schedule Cohl expected. Warrick, you can make a steel mirror with your powers, right?”
He shrugged with an air of humility. “I could do silvered glass too—if we had glass. Doing anything and everything up to and including shaving in my dorm room to avoid my asshole suitemate’s made me as good at mirrors as armor. Just give me a size and a style.”
“Seeing as how we’ve been making do with whatever I can get cheap at the flea market over on Thornwood Avenue, I’m going to say ‘go with what you feel’.” She finished looking more hopeful than she had when the discussion began. “Great! So now that we all have our assignments for the next two days and—”
“All?” Dana raised a hand. “What about me?”
Lisa raised an eyebrow. “I thought you just wanted to go home.”
“No, I just wanted to do something. Now you all are doing something and I’m still not doing things!”
Tink held up the bag of captured fey vermin. “You’ve got a choice: you can help me try to send these guys through the mirror gate and hope they don’t explode at billions of time the speed of light while also making sure they don’t escape into the world once on the other side…”
“Or you can play Sorcerer’s Apprentice assisting me in constructing the receiving mirror.” Lisa finished.
The younger woman made a face and rocked back on her heels. “So the choice is help do actual magic or explode rodents with that help of magic for science?” Tink and Lisa nodded. “Huh. Tough choice.”
“Why couldn’t we take the magic mirror instead?” Dana mewled as she trudged alongside Warrick, eyes fixed on the tarp-covered, angular bundle strapped to Warrick’s back by way of Isp and Osp.
The four humans plus their graymalkin, yeh-ti and daoine traveling companions made their way through the thronging streets of Passion Gate toward a location within the city Hyrilius left to Cohl’s family line. They kept themselves hidden behind hoods or wide-brimmed hats so no one could report the presence of Mankinds back to Maeve, but that hardly seemed necessary. On the main through-ways of Passion Gate, no one cared anything more about those around them beyond whether or not they were in the way.
Daoine were the majority here; but there were ogres, short squat and powerfully built beasts with bat ears and sharp noses, other creatures formed from dense bundles of vines and leaves, others of human size and relative stature kept themselves concealed in cloaks and with headwear similar to the humans’. All walked, ran or trundled along on their own business, unaware or uncaring that creatures of their legends walked among them with designs on breaking a cycle their world had known since time immemorial.
“Remind me again why she’d not back on Earth right now?” Warrick asked.
Huffing at the question, Dana shot him a glare. “Because she is also a Chosen One, just like Occult and I’ve got a job to do too—only I don’t have a fancy D-icon, so I can’t come back here whenever I want. So this is my only chance to see this Vault thing and find out whether or not it can actually help against Maeve.”
Returning the glare through his visor, Warrick was unmoved. “Yeah, but you should be back home now. Safe. We’re on this Maeve thing, so there’s no reason for you to go running into danger—oof!” He stumbled thanks to a well-placed elbow to his armored rib courtesy of Tink.
“You do realize this is more or less the same speech you told me the Whitecoat gave you back when you were her age.”
“I was just fighting gangs and a corrupt Tong, not a cross-dimensional conqueror.”
Tink reached up and laid a hand on his shoulder. “You also lacked the backing of a fey lord and a fuzzy magic missile with claws as hard as diamond and weren’t traveling with five of Earth’s best superheroes.” A ripple of movement was all the twins could offer up to show their appreciation for being counted among that number.
Warrick groaned, then sighed. “But she’s the same age as my sister…”
“…who’s done quite a few heroic deeds already.”
“I’m not going to win this one, am I?”
“HA! Score. Even your girlfriend agrees with me! Who wins? Lady Coldsteel wins!”
Tink rolled her eyes. “Of course, there’s always the matter of maturity…”
Not far from them, Chilani looked back at the trio (or quintet if one counted Metallic Americans) and couldn’t contain a warm smile. “I must admit my great joy in seeing a sight I hardly believed possible only a short time ago.”
“What’s that?” Lisa asked distantly. She was running through the ritual she needed to perform in her head, doing her best to keep it fresh in her mind so that the adrenaline of the actual moment couldn’t make her blank on what needed to be done.
Casting her gaze to a horizon dominated by the blue dome of the Vault. “Two Mankinds are arguing over who will free us from Maeve for good. One of them is proof that one of the unaligned sidhe lords is prepared to move against her. It is a sign that our world has a chance. I now have hope that one day I will have children and when I teach them the tongues of Mankind not to carry on the desperate hope of Hyrilius’s promise, but so that they may converse with new brethren from the Blue World.”
The passion in the daoine woman’s voice put Lisa’s full attention on her to the point that she almost missed a step and tripped. “I-I…” She took a moment to compose herself. “As I told you before: back home, we—all except Dana—are part of a group dedicated to protecting people. Now that we know about you and yours, I have no doubts that all of us will want nothing more than to help. Your people have more and more powerful friends than you or they know.”
“A welcome thought,” Cohl said, leading them into a seemingly random blind alley. “Especially given that you’ve only seen the advance of Maeve’s forces and influence. I’ve lived through several cycles of her savage oppression. You have yet to see what she is truly capable of.”
Once Chilani relayed the translation, Lisa pursed her lips and fell silent for a moment. The alley didn’t match the gentle, organic curves and lines of Passion Gate. It jagged and twisted off at odd angles at unpredictable intervals and went on longer then she could imagine given the shallow city blocks she’d seen in the city earlier.
After some thought, she gestured for Chilani to translate for her. “Perhaps you can tell me something about it; it may help us think of ways to combat her.”
“I would be happy to,” he replied via Chilani, “Only later: because we are here.” He took a few more steps and led them out into a courtyard between a number of buildings.
It didn’t look like the site of a powerful ritual; just a dusty clearing made up of slabs of what looked like sandstone bounded in a rough hexagon by buildings of several common Faerie materials. No sigils or magic circles adorned any surface, nor did anything seem particularly out of place for Earth, much less Faerie.
But to Lisa’s new Sorcerer’s Instinct, she knew this place was special. In the vast sea of magical power that permeated Faerie, this was where two minor currents collided, forming for lack of a more apt analogy, a whirlpool of energy where the normally stable ebb and flow broke down and so did the effort needed to draw on and manipulate it.
Earth had its leylines and noes. Faerie had its surge points.
And this was one of them.
Without direction from Cohl, Lisa stepped into the spot where the energy was at its most chaotic, some five feet off the center. “Here?” She asked, uncertain in mind even if her instincts (and Instinct) told her this was the right place. Cohl merely nodded and extended his arms to keep the others back.
Settling into a more comfortable stance and closed her eyes. There were no reagents or chants or circles of power. At the center of the surge point, a sorcerer needed none of them if they knew the right ritual, the right means of directing the flow.
From the outside, the only indicator that something was happening was a slight breeze that blew in from above and started a slow, gentle circle, gathering up dust and pulling it into the air. As the moments ticked by, the wind picked up, but only localized to a small area around Lisa and the dust settled into a very distinct orbit resembling an accretion disc.
Soon, the build-up of magical energies became too much for the fragile motes and they began to flare one by one into tiny supernovae of every color, their light throwing strange reflections all around the courtyard and throwing into ever so fleeting relief shadowy structures and figures that seemed to appear from someplace else.
Tall, spindly creatures with glowing eyes. Things that glided along the ground like manta rays out of the water. Triangular pylons that acted as prisms splitting beams of light with no origins. Isosohedrons that floated through the air between standing scaffolds.
Just as everyone but Lisa was starting to pick out things in the strange realities appearing and disappearing in literal flashes around them, the courtyard was gone.
In place of the sandstone ground was a single, seamless expanse of white material that rose up on all sides into a dome near whose top hovered what appeared to be a smooth inverted pyramid made of quartz, which shone with flawless white light that made the material making up the floor and dome glitter.
Lisa, now at the very center of the new room, started and her eyes fluttered open. Confusion painted her expression as she looked around. “Chilani? Cohl? Please tell me that this is the inside of the Vault.”
“Neither of us could tell you that for certain.” Chilani turned a slow circle, finding no doors or windows. They were in a sealed room that was empty save for themselves and the light source. “Does it feel like the Vault to you as the Heir?”
“All I can say is that we’re not where we started. The magic here is a lot calmer, but somehow even… I don’t know… deeper? Than anywhere else on Faerie.”
“That’s assuming we’re even on Faerie anymore.” Dana interjected. “Seeing as how a magic screw-up got us there, who’s to say you didn’t miss-fire and drop us somewhere else?”
Before anyone could argue, an oval-shaped section of the dome the size of a full grown human became trans parent and a streak of blue entered through it. Not in the metaphorical sense that the ‘streak’ resolved into something blue, or any particular shade of blue. A streak of liquid blueness—something that encompassed all things ‘blue’ from robin’s egg to royal to sapphire and all the possible shades between and beyond entered, trailing streamers of green and violet light like the tentacles of a jellyfish. There was no defined shape of the thing, just a sense of where it was and that it was… blue.
It came to a stop before Lisa, hovering silently for a long moment.
“H-hello?” Lisa managed. Chilani started cycling through greetings in a dozen Earth languages and perhaps three times that many of Faerie. The blueness didn’t respond beyond continuing to flow and undulate in place. Then…
The young lady’s hypothesis is not as far-fetched as you might believe. Most who arrive here so so by mistake.
Everyone heard the voice. It seemed to come from the blue thing, but without making a true, physical sound. The voice was deep, rich and seemed intellectual even across the four distinct cultural understandings represented.
You, however, have not. The Blue World Mage Hyrilius paid in fortune and favor to make certain that this area would be off limits to an who did not perform the exact ritual he prescribed to reach it. I take it that you, Lisa Olivia Ortega, are the Heir he spent such effort to prepare for.
Lisa took a step back. “You… know me? Or Hyrilius predicted I would be here?”
The blue things seemed to rotate in space, though no one there could say for sure which direction.
Not at all. I am aware of the name and True Name of all who enter this place. As for Hyrilius, he had no such gift of prophecy, merely great foresight and resources. As part of that foresight, he saw fit that his successor be armed with those same resources—including access to this place and the understanding and advantages it provides.
Lisa looked at her friends, just as confused as they were before returning her attention to the blue being. “I apologize for this but… either I missed something, or Hyrilius didn’t leave me any knowledge about what he left to me. Can you please tell me… well what ‘this place’ actually is?”
The blue thing stopped moving.
Truly? When last I knew Hyrilius, he had constructed an artifice that mimicked myself call ed the Manikin to be the guide for his successor.
A bit of shame colored Lisa’s cheeks. “We’ve met. But at the time, she was my enemy.”
Unfortunate. Hopefully it can be recovered as it knows more of Hyrilius than I. For the moment, however, I will serve as your guide while you are here. To answer your question…
The dome began to melt; the glittering white walls collapsing into the floor and rolling out to join more white floor all around. With the ceiling gone, the light source simply winked out of being, it’s light replaced by softer, more distant light inside the larger room they found themselves in.
‘Room’ being an understatement, as they were standing on one of the middle decks of something like a huge roofed stadium. While far away, they could make out other figures moving around on other decks.
If they looked.
Because the center of the ‘stadium’ where the field or stage might be was dominated all the way to the roof by a colossal construct of crystalline and steel clockwork driving vast plates and spheres around tracks and around axes. At times, some of the principals on the tracks would move through the plates as if they weren’t there, at others, they would overlap one another.
It was as if someone built a model of an alien solar system and went mad in the process.
This, said the blue thing, is the map of all worlds where sapient life exists and has managed to reach this place—this Orerry of Worlds.
To Be Continued…