Next Stop Everywhere: Out of Time

A seething, roiling storm of colors swirled endlessly in all directions. There was no solid ground, no rhyme or reason, and there was not even any particular meaning to the word “directions,” as time, space and reality themselves were fluid things, boiling and churning and transforming into each other with no structure at all.

Yet in the midst of this soup of being was an abomination, a physical object bound by reality and stable in its existence. It stood out so strongly because it alone did not shift, change or twist. A small building, every inch scrawled with powerful runes that defined reality and defied the twisting madness around it, floated in perfect stillness in the midst of the howling chaos around it.

Inside this building was a laboratory, and inside this laboratory was the Doctor.

Today the Doctor was having a good day. He had set out from his laboratory, the Transformative Agent Resistant Dimension in Space, in search of a mystery and had found one. He had just brought back into the lab two things: his traveling companion, Lucinda, and a note on a strange piece of parchment. The traveling companion was not the mystery, except perhaps as to why she insisted on staying around after, time and time again, he abandoned her to her fate while he tended to the problems of the universe. Instead, the parchment was a mystery. It was made of materials that could be produced only in the Underworld, including ink from black stone of the Labyrinth. This ink faded away to nothing in sunlight but would slowly recover to full visibility in perfect darkness. Ideal for transmitting hidden messages, of course, but difficult to read for people who need light. The Doctor hadn’t even opened the box it was inside yet, but had read the note with his Essence Sight. However, that’s where the mystery was coming from.

The Doctor was trying to figure out why the message appearing on the parchment made no sense. There were only scraps of incomplete words here and there, and he was becoming very troubled that the parchment had been damaged somehow. The message would not fade with time, as the Underworld and everything in it was eternal, but, he had acquired it from an underworld trader and perhaps one of the previous owners had been less than gentle with it.

“Doctor, why are you so worried about this note?” Lucinda asked as she followed him into the doorway, stopping only to ensure that her horse, Free Spirit would follow her through the doorway. The Doctor was starting to pace frantically.

“It’s another clue! From an old friend. She wouldn’t have sent me anything unless it was exceptionally important, don’t you see! She’s always very precise about her timing.”

“What friend? How did she send this to you? I thought you said you acquired it from a trader!”

“Yes yes of course, but how did the trader know I would want this? She arranged it somehow, without him even knowing. She’s a clever one.”

“What’s her name? Who is this?” Lucinda asked as she patted Free Spirit down.

“She calls herself the Wanderer.  I haven’t seen her in a very long time, but she’s been looking for something, and if she sent me this then she must have realized she’s close but she needs help.”

“How do you know it’s her, if you haven’t seen her? What’s the hint?”

“Well,” The Doctor stopped short. “That’s a good question. No one else that I can think of would have sent me this, or thought to have sent me this, and I already checked to be sure it doesn’t have any fiddly bits or traps inside it, so it can’t have come from The Monster With No Name.”

“Still, you can’t be sure, can you?”

“It’s her, all right. The trader said it came to him from a mortal trader who had possessed it for some time while working caravans through the South.”

Lucinda paused. “The South is very sunny. Didn’t you say the ink faded away in the sunlight? And would stay faded for years?”

“I did, and I said that because it’s true, and WHY doesn’t this make sense?” The Doctor was pacing more furiously than before, on the agonizing verge of discovery just outside his reach.

Lucinda put down her brush and walked over slowly. “The trader said he had it in this box for a lifetime, so the ink should be visible to read, right?”

“Yes yes but if we open the box it will fade.”

“You’ll still be able to see it with your Essence Sight though right? We should open it!”

“I don’t think so,” The Doctor shook his head slowly as he kept pacing. Lucinda was getting frustrated. “Why not??”

The Doctor paused, the rapturous frustration replaced by a calmness. “Because you won’t be able to read it anymore. I keep too much of this adventure from you already.”

Lucinda smiled. “Don’t worry Doctor, you always find a way to include me.” And without further hesitation she opened the box and pulled out the parchment.

The ink faded almost too quickly for her eyes to catch, but amazingly there was a lot of other ink on this parchment that did not fade at all. Reading it with some surprise, Lucinda saw an ordinary note, scribbled in Old Realm:

Friend,

Please find enclosed one unsolved mystery.

The Explorer.

The Doctor stared, aghast, before cheering and clapping his hands. He grabbed Lucinda by both shoulders and yelled at her: “YOU’RE A GENIUS!” He grabbed the parchment, skipped over to a nearby table, grabbed out a piece of chalk, and started scribbling. Soon he showed Lucinda the true message, created by adding extra words and changing some Old Realm characters into other ones.

Doctor,

Please find the one I was looking for. He is enclosed in a temporal vortex, coordinates one nine eight. Please resolve the mystery of his journey.

The Wanderer

The Doctor ran around the lab whooping while Lucinda read it. When she was finished she turned back to him with a slightly quizzical look on her face. The Doctor was already punching in new coordinates for the TARDIS’s door to open into.

“There is a residual temporal vortex surrounding someone. When we find that person, I think I can harmonize the essence flow, so that the disruptive energy of that vortex will enter a resonance frequency that matches that person’s chakras. If that person is Exalted, which I would guess is the case, it will result in a gradual strengthening of that person’s anima.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning that person will become very powerful very quickly.”

“That’s great, but is that what we really want? Who is this person?”

“Someone that the Wanderer has been looking for. And I think that if we can resolve this essence flow the way it’s meant to be done, then the Wanderer will find this person soon.”

Lucinda still hesitated. “So we’re leading the Wanderer to this person? Do we know anything about this person?”

“He or she will be someone out of time. And the Wanderer has been looking for this person for a long time so perhaps some more mysteries will be solved when she finds him.”

“When, not if?”

The Doctor looked up and grinned. “It wouldn’t be an interesting story otherwise, would it?”

In-game effects: Samuel Iselsi can purchase two charms for the price of one with experience points.

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