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Blackmoor: Grief Eternal

by Cab

From The Memoirs of The Averyx, Immortal of the Sphere of Time, Patron of Alphatian Conquest, Lord of the Ghostwheel, etc.

Following the strange affair of the god Hallucigenia, and my investigations into the origin of Meks on Mystara, I became somewhat fascinated with this curious little world. Strange and dangerous energies perfused the atmosphere, the thin crust of the world was moving and reforming quite rapidly (as far as things go), and while it was clear that I could not simply walk this world as a manifest immortal, I could hope to observe and learn without stepping on the toes of the local pantheon.

My first task was to set up a base of operations; even for immortals, this makes life easier. I could not choose the visible moon Matera due to the presence of Pandius there, nor could I in good conscience risk the populace of Patera by my presence. Instead I chose an asteroid in space, loosely orbiting in a similar path to Mystara, and I named it for my mortal father Aris. From here I could extend my consciousness, and create mortal avatars with which to explore Mystara.

The first thing to explore was the strange energy; what was it and where did it come from. Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was not one single energy source, but at least three, had been ripped apart on Mystara. One was of mortal origin (so could wait), while the other two were not.

The first source of energy, and 'loudest' (to use a mortal term that most closely compares) was like a long scream of pain. It took me many days to make contact with the creature thus screaming, as there was no way to localise it to a specific area. I followed multiple streams of this energy back to source, each reaching a different location in the crust of Mystara. Slowly it dawned on me, it was the planet itself screaming! Surmising that this must be an intelligence in itself, I tentatively made mental probes to the planet... After the normal howling wails of foolish mortal mages trapped within the crust of the world (the arrogance of wizards who think that using the crust of a planet as a magic jar never ceases to amaze me) I made contact with an immortal intelligence of awesome potential but limited residual power; a creature calling itself Urt.

Urt was (and still is) a megalith; that is, an intelligent world with the powers of an immortal. 'She' was screaming in pain, and had been for many years, with insufficient power to fully repair the harm caused by the mortals crawling over her skin. It took man days to calm her to the point where I could obtain a clear story of what had happened, but surmising that the other two released energy sources I was patient. Having a little of the power of Hallucigenia left, I offered to trade that power (which Urt could use to finish healing) for information, for the story (or at least the location) of the other two sources of power. Urt agreed, thus beginning the most productive (and one of the most rewarding) relationships I have had with any other immortal, and thus also starting off most of the troubles I have since suffered. I was naive to assume that the Mystaran pantheon had no reason to leave Urt in pain.

Urt was scarred. No, not scarred... Wounded, with power sucked from one location on her surface and spat out across the whole world and into space. The damage could be controlled a little with the application of immortal energy, but only the passage of a vast amount of time could allow it to heal. Urt directed me to the location of this damage, a curious desert on the continent of Skothar, a place that had, she said, held a city, the greatest of cities, a place called Blackmoor.

The thing about swapping immortal energy between someone of fairly normal proportions (like me) and a hulking great thing like Urt is that you can bet your bottom mirror that someone will be watching Urt. Imagine an entire immortal pantheon, all with residences on the moon surrounding Urt, all with an interest in races residing on her surface. Do you really think it likely that they would miss an occurrence like this? They had heard Urt scream too, they were aware of what was happening, and they had done nothing to ease her suffering. Why? And, more importantly, why didn't that occur to me until after the event?

Well, even time gods can't go back on what they've done (and keep getting away with it). And I would have to live with the consequences of not thinking through my actions. Thus far I had managed to slip under the radar of the Mystaran immortals, but now they had spotted me for ever after would I suffer their meddling and interference.

But I digress. Having established cordial communications with Urt, I was able to more clearly focus on the other energy sources. I could see very easily now what the mortal damage had been; in the instant of a great explosion (or, more correctly, series of explosions) many souls had died, and for years afterwards more had suffered. The energies from this explosion were still contained within the atmosphere and across much of the surface of Mystara, a dangerous synergy of energy and entropy. The explosion was caused by something not dissimilar to what Mystarans now refer to as 'radiance' energy, or what on other worlds is simply referred to as radioactive material; nuclear fission running out of control. The death toll in and around Blackmoor was catastrophic, and it struck me as being quite ironic at the time that this same process had occurred back in Hallucigenias day, it seems to be something that Mystara is prone to.

So the second (and mortal) 'energy' causing trouble on Mystara was explicable. The third form, the one that was really troublesome, and the one that was to get me into all kinds of mischief, was all together different.

A funny thing happens when you nuke a god. It doesn't die, but its manifestation form sure as hell doesn't like it. I suppose that some of the more potent immortals could stand up to it; I wouldn't rely on a radiance bomb to take out Ixion, for example, but otherwise a well chosen radiance bomb will pretty much do the job on most manifestation forms. Of course, you can't just go about dropping bombs like that on immortals, as for a start we can sense these things coming miles away, and we can do all sorts of things to stop you from playing with toys like that. And given a moments thought we can outpace even the fastest non-magical explosion with but a thought; we can teleport, we can hop between planes or dimensions, or even pop a force field around even the most ferocious explosion. In fact, in many experiments over many, many years (to the severe detriment of certain remote outer planes that were once habitable), I have determined that this is not a good way for an immortal to get one over on another.

But anyway, all of that aside, when you nuke a god, if you actually manage it (and I'll come to how you do it later) then you make one hell of a mess. The manifestation form is vapourised, and the immortals soul is scattered all over the plane for a short while before re-forming back on his home plane. Odds are he'll make a new manifestation form and come and sort you out, but for a while anyway, he's a goner.

It took me a long time to attune myself to the energies around the atmosphere to work out precisely that this is what had happened. That the third, mysterious energy I could detect was actually an immortal soul still remaining trapped in Mystaras atmosphere many years after the explosion of Blackmoor. And the presence of this trapped immortal intrigued me; fresh as I was from investigating the mystery of Hallucigenia and his Meks, I hit upon the idea of reuniting this immortal, of finding out how and why this soul had not re-formed a new manifestation form in his home plane. I set about my experiments to determine how radiance energy works to convert matter to energy, to find a way of reversing the process and freeing this lost immortal.

And it would have all gone so well, had there been only a single immortal in this state. Oh, well.

Being still something of a youngster by immortal standards, and having entirely failed to bring Hallucigenia back, I set out to determine whether or not I could reunite this blown apart immortal. I could only detect one immortal soul thus dissipated across Mystara, so I set out to make contact.

Now, between you and me, this wasn't easy. If you've got an immortal who is willing to make mental contact with you, and you know where it is, then its the simplest thing in the world to talk. Trouble is that this one was de-localised, and it didn't necessarily even know I was there. So I had to find a way of either gathering in the energy holding this immortal together, or instead dissipating my own energy in amongst the atmosphere of Mystara while maintaining enough grounding to find my way back to my home plane (only in this dissipated state would I have a frame of reference from which to make contact). The former would require the expenditure of a massive amount of energy in manifestation form, a big no-no with the pantheons of Mystara watching the world so closely, so I ruled that out, whereas the latter required an even bigger energy source to send my incorporeal form into a diffuse state. Where could I, an immortal of time, find such an energy source?

It didn't take me long to persuade Urt to tell me when she had been wounded by the Blackmoor calamity. So all I had to do was go incorporeal, pop back in time, and tag along to the explosion for the ride. Then once spread about the atmosphere, I'd have sufficient energy to speed my personal time frame up sufficiently to get back to the present day and make contact with the lost immortal, before high tailing it back to my own plane for tea and crumpets. I'd have to set the time shifting in motion before I started, of course, to ensure that I could be nothing more than an observe, removing all possibility of changing Mystaran history, but that's small beans.

And this, I did. I set the incantation to take my incorporeal form back, to speed up my personal time to bring me back to the present, and aimed squarely at initial point of the explosion, with about an hour of leeway in case of error. I've had few more exciting hours before or since!

I stepped back into normal timeflow in the chamber where the explosion started, which was deep below the city of Blackmoor. As I've mentioned, I remained in my incorporeal form, and I remained close to the obvious source of radiance power, that being likely to block any immortal from being able to detect my presence.

The chamber was large, hemispherically domed, around 50' high and 100' across. In the centre was a pillar, 10' or so wide, with an ominous blue glow coming from within, and visible through an intricate set of copper pipes that masked the innards of this strange machine. Around this device, at a distance of another 10', was a circular control panel, with twelve work stations at which were slumped twelve dead human and elven operatives, peacefully leaning forward as if simply asleep. The single door to the chamber was closed, locked, wizard locked and sealed with multiple force fields and a prismatic wall! In fact, the whole dome was force fielded in, with multiple layers of enchantment to protect the inside (or outside!).

I was not alone. There was a creature, one of the strangest I had ever encountered, rather like a roper, reminiscent of both a slug and a rock, with a single eye in the centre of its upright body, but on each of the dozen or more tentacles it possessed there was an eye, a ghastly, giant, insectoid eye, gleaming and refracting the blue light of the radiance source like a fake diamond. This creature was circling the core of the energy source, frantically working the controls at each of the work stations, occasionally leaving the limbs of the dead workers in place to maintain control at a distance, sometimes employing telekinesis to operate multiple stations simultaneously.

The creature was not immortal, nor was it merely mortal, it was more like a superbly powered exalted being, yet it had no discernable sphere. Intriguing. And it seemed to be at the very heart of whatever was going wrong in Blackmoor. As it encircled the radiance source, it managed, over the period of about 15 minutes to bring the power under control, reducing the blue glow significantly. The energies started to settle, the reactor was stable; had I made a mistake? Was this the wrong point in history?

It was at this point that a true immortal threw a made an impressive entry into the chamber. Circumventing the multiple barriers this creature had erected (presumably onto the ethereal and astral planes too), she shifted down into our dimensions from nightmare itself. This truly was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen; tall, lithe, with high cheekbones and strawberry blonde hair tied neatly back to the nape of her neck, garbed simply in primitive furs, and carrying what appeared to be nought but a simple quarter staff. Yet despite the enchanting beauty of this wonderful immortal of thought, her face was hard, she wore a determined scowl.

From beneath a lowered brow, she called out, "That's it, Egg, the game is up. Get back to Coot, now, and we'll forget all about it."

The Egg met her gaze for an instant. "I think not", it replied.