Hunter has been doing some… reading. It didn’t take much convincing to get the Academy to let him borrow a few books on his own kind. Some of them are even written in languages he knows. The reason for all the reading? Well, he’s been told that the answers to their next question can be found where his people come from.
There’s just one, teeeny, tiny problem…
“No, I don’t know what my people’s home world is, Ardul.” Hunter is explaining again. “No one does. We’ve found throughout the multiverse and we’ve been there so long no one remembers where we first came from.”
The winter’s wind is whipping through Saren’s rest and Hunter is by the fire in Rousseau’s. He’s got a plate of fried tubers near him. It’s something the bald elf wanted him to try. Apparently they’re an old earth food called ‘French Fries’.
He’s not entirely sure what that means. The cheese and bacon on them is good though.
A hand sneaks over every so often to grab a fried sliver off of the plate, the owner of said hand occupying a nearby chair as he watches little squares of paper fold themselves into a small army of things from sparrows to raptors, rabbits and yes, even foxes. The paper sits in a short stack balanced upon his shoes as he sits cross-legged on the chair, and after each creature is completed another sheet flips up from the pile and folds itself in midair. He’s not going to fold origami with greasy fingers, after all.
“They don’t tell stories at least? There’s gotta be something that’s been passed down…” the young necromancer suggests, glancing over at the Wolfen.
Around their chairs the little origami circus pokes about much like regular creatures, a sparrow landing on Hunter’s ear. Kaji glances down at them. “Keep back from the fire, guys,” he warns them.
Some of the effects of Kazue’s spell have subsided from Ardul for the most part. The tail has gone at least but there’s still the hint of fangs and her fingers are still tipped more with claws than nails. Her wings – still gradiate from the red to the grey and the texture of the feathers looks … different.
“I know that Hunter and I didn’t ask this time.” She says quietly, watching the little circus that Kaji is building and eyeing those tubers rather dubiously.
Hunter looks up at Ardul who is… more or less herself now. Which is good. He does like the colors on her wings but… wouldn’t tell her that. He suspects she might either take it ill or worse… try to make the color permanent.
The wolfen sighs and looks up. “Sorry Ardul. And yes they do tell stories. They tell so many that… ugh.” Hunter puts the books down.
“They’ve identified pretty much every world we’ve ever lived on as our home. Kazue can’t have meant our home-home world. I’d never find it. She must have meant something else.”
Nibbling on another fry, Kaji hmms as he leans back in his chair. He must have gotten used to Ardul’s slightly tweaked look, but it’s been easier now that she doesn’t have a tail. It’s a good sign, right? Maybe it’s just taking a really, -really- long time to completely fade off, and who can tell with kitsune magic?
“She said to start with Hunter’s long lost home, right? So that could mean that it’s not exactly that place…”
Folding a few more origami creatures in the shape of beetles this time, Kaji picks up the rest of the unfolded sheets and slips them into his pocket. “Okay guys, come on. In you go,” he says, holding another pocket open as the little zoo starts filing in, flattening against their folds to better slip inside. There’s a couple of foxes that have decided not to get in line as they instead chase each other around atop his shoulders and head.
Sighing, Kaji looks over at Ardul and Hunter again, gaze settling on the latter. “Anyway, didn’t you mention something about…Spleen? Or something…”
Kitsune magic and the effect of the nanites. Both she and Hunter had noticed some changes before that.
“You’re getting good at that, Kaji …” she says with a nod to the paper circus. She chuffs a little though as the foxes decide to rebel. “I can see you have ones like some of the new recruits I had.”
“Splynn…” she answers though. “The interdimensional slave market run by Splugorth. It’s … not somewhere we really want to go if we can avoid it.” She knows enough, has heard the rumours, to have decided that and she’s convinced she and Hunter would be … of interest.
“Well it’s a city that happens to have a really large interdimensional slave market. But the key part there is the ‘interdimensional’ part. There’s a network of gates that can take you all kinds of places. A lot of them aren’t places that any of us would especially want to go but you COULD get to the Three Galaxies from there. Getting from that to the Federation of Allied Races… might be kind of a trick. None of them like the Splugorth. Or any who associated with the Splugorth.”
Hunter sighs again and motions for Ardul to take a bit more of the food if she wants. Kaji’s certainly getting his sneaks in.
“Why do the foxes have minds of their… actually don’t tell me. So Kazue could have meant a few things. Maybe the ship I lived on when I was young but that’s crashed in the desert pretty far from here and I don’t see how it would have any answers for us. Maybe… the world that ship came from. But… there’s a slight problem…”
There’s several problems but Hunter tends to say ‘slight’ when he means ‘massive’
Kaji smiles crookedly at Ardul’s comment. “I’m just keeping up practice. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid even before I got stuck in this world,” he laughs. Fingers are already reaching for more fries even as one of the foxes runs down his arm like a bridge, hopping off of his fingers like a springboard to land on the table beside the plate.
“…Ah… I…can see how that can be complicated…” comes the necromancer’s observation as he frowns, thinking on what’s told him of Splynn and the Splugorth. The name rings a bell, but he can’t quite remember when he’d last heard it, although he has a feeling it was no less bad for the reputation behind it.
Watching the foxes as the other joins the first and they race around the plate of fries, Kaji chuckles. “Foxes and mischief kinda go hand in hand, you know? Especially in old Japanese folk tales, they’re tricksters and can be dangerous too. You have to be super careful when you deal with them.”
He leans forward in the chair, licking off fingers as he looks expectantly at Hunter then at the mention of the ship from the Wolfen’s youth. “What…kind of problem, exactly?”
“What about the interdimensional transit hub in Vesper?” Ardul looks at Hunter. “We could get to the everywhere market and that would take us elsewhere?” but she’s thinking. “You’ve mentioned this Three Galaxies to me before. I’d like to know more.”
She’s still eyeing the fries and delicately takes one, the claws nearly slicing it half as she does.
“Hunter, I think you’re estimation of trouble is skewed by your height. When you say that, it normally turns out to be more than slightly a problem. What is it?”
“The Three Galaxies are where I came from. They’re… well, I have no idea how far from here they are. Reachable by rift but what isn’t? There are lots of species there all with… It’s hard to describe here. No one seems to be able to get into orbit. But all with technology to ply the void between worlds without needing magic.” Or much magic, anyway.
“We might be able to use Vesper’s transit hub but we’d need to find a destination that they’re willing to open to that can get us where we want to go. Vesper isn’t ruled by a interdimensional warlord so… their options are more limited.”
The wolfen pauses at that and grabs a bacon bit to eat. Mmmm bacon.
“Wellllllll… I’m… not completely sure the planet is there anymore…”
The two foxes stop their game of tag to watch as Ardul partakes of a fry. Or at least it looks like they’re watching, moving their heads to follow her hand as it pulls away from the plate.
“Three Galaxies…” Kaji stomps down the giddy feeling threatening to well up. This is so sci-fi! But he remembers their last bout of interdimensional hopping. It had been…interesting.
“Rift hopping? Are there other places from wherever Vesper can transport us that have hubs more open to where we might wanna go?”
He pauses from stuffing another fry into his mouth; those things are quickly disappearing. “-wait, what? What happened to the planet? The Death Star get it?”
“But Vesper could get us to another market, right? And we could find somewhere from there? I’m sure there’s someone we can speak to that knows of other hubs. We could speak to the Academy, Hunter? I’ve some funds put away, our spelunking in Vanished Point has been profitable.”
And the guardsman of Vesper don’t pay too badly either.
She stops and blinks at Hunter before shaking her head. “That, my dear, is something you have led with.”
“The Death Star? Hearth and Hunt, no.” Hunter makes a gesture vaguely like crossing himself. “And may it sleep for a thousand years more.”
This sounds like more than just a mistranslated joke…
“Transit hubs like that are common enough, yes. And we could speak to people to find them yes, but…” Planet. Possibly slightly missing.
“Well you see there are ley lines in space. They’re much rarer but they’re big. Real big. And sometimes they have storms – quite pretty from a distance – and sometimes rifts open up. Big rifts.” Rifts, say, big enough to swallow a planet?
“Anyway the system that world was in was on a ley line and… er…”
Wait. Is he serious? Kaji had been joking of course, even if his references are usually never understood he can’t help but make them, however Hunter’s response leaves the young man with an uncertain smile frozen on his face as though he’d just said something incredibly awkward.
He quickly lets the subject go rather than ask about it, moving to scoop up his fox friends with his clean hand, and steal another fry with the other.
Listening as Hunter hems and haws, Kaji considers the information given, trying to picture it in his head. “…it got engulfed?” he finishes, brow arching as he eyes the Wolfen. “But…does that necessarily mean it’s gone? Rifts are just big gateways, yeah? Or do you mean like… tears and blackhole kinda rifts?”
“What is … this Death Star?” Ardul asks the two of them not realising they’re talking about two totally different things.
The little foxes have been watched by the blonde but she was too busy trying not to lose the fry to do much with them. They’re realistic enough though, she might have petted them under other circumstances.
“Ley lines big enough to destroy a planet, Hunter?” That’s not good and she frowns. “So what are you proposing then? We don’t know where this planet was to begin with and it might not be there now.” Why does she feel like she’s talking Kazue again?
“It’s called ‘The Nemesis’. It just… eats places. It’s bad. And it’s bad luck to talk about it, especially if you’re planning a trip to the void. One does not want to wake it.” Yeah that sounds like something other than what Kaji was probably talking about. It’s part sailor’s superstition and part horrible horrible thing, it sounds like.
“Well not destroy a planet Ardul. Big enough to fit one though. It’s not destroyed… probably. But, uh, figuring out where it went could be tricky. It might not even be in the same universe.”
Oh, so that’s what it is. That…doesn’t quite sound like a Death Star, but yeah, Kaji would agree it still seems just as bad. …crap, no. He knows what it sounds like. Unicron!
Interrupted from some strange reverie or another of his, he shakes his head and as he tucks the foxes into his pocket with the other folded bits of paper he glances between his friends again.
“Really, what’s in the same universe anymore? Although…no, I guess I see your point. The rifts aren’t stationary then? Once they open?”
“Not usually, no. Or at least not as I understand it. The magic flares in these Leylines and they open sporadically and unexpectedly. Apparently, from what I can understand of the locals that study these things, that’s what bought the Dark Age to Earth.” Kaji might well ask dark age but most of the folk these day only know of one.
“There are wizards that surf the Ley Line, Hunter, perhaps one could … do that and find it. If it’s missing I mean? What would happen if we Rifted to where you think it is? Or is that just not possible?”
“If we can get to where the world was we might, yes, be able to figure out where the world went. That means we’ll need to get some place were we can get a ship, get the navigational data we need to get to where the world used to be and then, well, you know. Go there.” It SOUNDS simple. Hunter knows it won’t be if they attempt it. Ardul more or less has the right of it though.
“We might try to rift to where it is now, but we’d need to find someone who knows where that is. That’d be luck, really. I don’t know of anyone who does. We can ask around though.” There’s something bothering him though. Something that Kaji said… ah yes.
“What’s a Japanese?”
Kaji’s been in this world long enough to figure which Dark Age Ardul mentions. The idea behind it really isn’t so difficult to figure out considering it’s previous application. He’s sure it was just a whole lot worse because in considering just how much progress has been made since the original dark ages, being knocked back to square one after near-apocalyptic proportions is a huge mountain to climb.
He tries not to get too excited at the prospect of a ship ride in -space-. Frankly, for all that he loves science-fiction, he’d never really been big on actually going into the great beyond. Too big. Too lonely. And sure, maybe ships from other dimensions and stuff are capable of all the things that he’s only watched and read about, but it’s still a whole lot of space on the other side of layers of metal. And that’s not even adding in the complications of tracking down a missing planet.
He blinks out of his thoughts, looking back at Hunter then. “Oh, well, there’s a country on the other side of this world- unless it got swallowed by Rifts of course- called Japan. It’s where my relatives are from. I’m from a different, earlier version of Earth where there aren’t any rifts and magic isn’t exactly mainstream. More technology-based. But yeah, so Japanese would be anything referring to what originates from that country.”
“Well we should start at the Academy, I think. See what they know or where they can point us. I’m sure there are other centers where lore has been collected. What about some of the technology you’ve recovered from your ships, Hunter? Is there anything at all in the data there?”
She’s reaching and planning, as her wings shift slightly. At least she’s not thinking about the claws and the fangs for the moment.
As Kaji speaks, Ardul frowns “How can you not know if the place you were born in still exists.” She missed the memo that Kaji isn’t from this time.
“Oh.” Hunter takes a moment to think about that. “Should we make an effort to get you there?”
Perhaps not. All Kaji’s stuff is here and there’s no particular guarantee it’s not a demon infested hellhole – many places are these days – but since Kaji is nominally from there and there’s at least a vague chance someone related to him might be there he figured he’d ask.
“The Academy sounds like a good place to start.” Maybe Kaji can research Japan a little. A certain spider might know a thing or two about what’s going on there. And then, yes, they’ll be taking Kaji on a trip. Hopefully it’ll be enjoyable.
“Because all contact outside of North America seems to have been cut off with the Rifts business?” Kaji points out, tilting his head in Ardul’s direction. He’d sketch out a map of the world as he remembers it, but he’s got fry-fingers.
Hunter’s question catches him off guard. “I…thought that chances of finding a way back to my time and even world are next to nil…” So he hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up, although he won’t deny that ache of homesickness now and then. “But…I thought that maybe one day it’d be nice to try and see if there was a way to that side of the world…”
It’s been on his list, but things have always come up. But hey, if they’re going to the Academy…
“Anyway, sounds like a plan. Let’s do it.”
“Your … time?” Ardul takes another fry, more delicately this time, not slicing it. “You say the strangest things some times, Kaji.”
She’ll arrange for them to go to the Academy in the next day or so and from there, they’ll make plans. “Are you staying in Saren’s Rest, Kaji? I think Hunter and I have the evening off.”
“Your…” They can ask him about it later. Which time is his time? He hopes not this time. Because this time is lunch time. And lunch time does not share it’s slot.
“Why don’t you come have dinner with us. I think I’m going to take my reading there.” Hopefully they don’t have any foxy guests other than the ones that are in Kaji’s pocket.
“I thought I…explained…” Kaji starts, and then sighs. He thought with all the Rift stuff that something like alternate worlds and timeframes wouldn’t be nearly so complicated a thing. Eh well.
“Yeah, sure. I can do that. Not in any hurry to get back. We may as well all head to mainland together anyway,” he shrugs. Food sounds good, in any case. Maybe more of those fries. Mmmm….
Hunter, Ardul and Kaji discuss the complications of tracing old Wolfen origins through a vast multiverse.
November 28, 2411
Rousseau's, Saren's Rest