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Key to the Hollow World

by David Knott

The Immortal Britomart was very nervous at the summons she received to appear before the "Inner Council" as they called themselves. Her fellow Initiates were as clueless as she was about what they wanted, while more senior Immortals chuckled and assured her that this summons was a good thing that would give her some nice perks, which they said they could not give her the details of.

Gathering her courage, she went to the location where she had been summoned to. Awaiting her were five Hierarchs, whom she recognised as Ka, Ordana, Ixion, Hel, and Korotiku. Korotiku greeted her, saying "Welcome, Britomart! Your patron Diulanna has said nothing but good things about you, and so we are now ready to extend to you the greatest privilege due to a mature Immortal! Let us depart from Pandius...."

Britomart accompanied the Hierarchs as they assumed Incorporeal form and moved to the northern polar opening of Mystara. "Behold the Hollow World!" proclaimed Ka. "Here is where we preserve creatures, peoples, and cultures that are in danger of extinction. Since you have proven yourself to your sponsor, we are now ready to give you the Key to this Hollow World. Use it wisely, and it will be renewed -- but use it foolishly, and it will not ever be granted to you again." The five Hierarchs then conducted a ceremony that was clearly quite familiar to them. At the completion of the ceremony, Britomart heard a voice in her head, "The word for your culture is . Remember that word and bestow it on those of your followers whom you wish to preserve in the Hollow World. One moon after the first of your followers are deposited in the Hollow World, the Spell of Preservation will determine the nature and limits of your followers and preserve them accordingly, and from then on this word, , will be available only to your priests in the Hollow World."

The Hierarchs then dragged Britomart back to Pandius as she gradually recovered from this great revelation. Ordana then spoke to her, "Use your new privilege wisely, for it is up to us whether you will be able to exercise it more than once. Cultures saved in the Hollow World cannot be destroyed -- but they also cannot evolve and advance. Do not invoke your new privilege until you can foresee that the outer world is about to lose something of unique value."

The other Immortals then offered similar words of praise and instruction and finally dismissed her. Once she departed, she looked on her family and friends in Glantri. They were of the Anglais people and had tagged along with their Sylaire and Klantyre neighbours when they travelled through magical gates from Laterre to the new world of Mystara. However, they found themselves in a strange nation called Glantri, where mages ruled and clerics were hunted down and executed -- the exact reverse of the situation back on Laterre. The people who mattered most to her were mundaners, including her father who by some miracle still remained alive over twenty years after her ascension to Immortality. Up until this point she had observed the gradual assimilation of the Anglais into the greater culture of Glantri and had been powerless to do anything at all about it -- until now.

At that point she proceeded to identify those of her people who found themselves at odds with the magocracy, both mundaners and priests who still followed the philosophies of Laterre. She gave them her mark that she had just received and then searched the Hollow World for an uninhabited island where she could relocate them. She soon found such an island off the coast of Milenia, and she then proceeded to remove those of her people who seemed least amenable to assimilation into the Glantrian magocracy. When she was done, that island was transformed from an uninhabited wilderness into a very pleasant (and dull!) Anglais countryside.

The Council of the Hollow World (the true name of the "Inner Council" as known to Initiate Immortals) then summoned Diulanna to show her what her protégée had done. Diulanna was appalled, as she saw nothing about the "stuffy Anglais" that was worth preserving. The Hierarchs of the Council of the Hollow World showed no mercy as they laughed at these apparently trivial use of the great privilege of access to the Hollow World. From the variety of jokes they cracked with one another, it was clear that Britomart would have to do something truly impressive before the Council would grant her another Key to the Hollow World.

Meanwhile, they looked at her island and asked one another, "What is missing here?" After much discussion they agreed that what was missing was chaotic magic -- and so Ixion rounded up a variety of chaotic fairies from the outer world and relocated them into the forest south of the main Anglais settlement. Meanwhile, Ka found an endangered tribe of wemics whom he relocated south of that forest. At that point all were satisfied except for Hel, who agreed to the status quo after she relocated some troglodytes to the mountains north of the Anglais colony. Once all five Hierarchs were in accord, they passed two resolutions:

1) No more cultures could be relocated to the island that they had just populated.

2) Never again would a mere Initiate (even one about to become a Temporal) be granted the privileges of the Key to the Hollow World.