I made my way to the door I had seen on this place. The journey seemed to take months. Still, some force pressed me to continue on outside. The blinding light was still there, there was an impossible shreaking coming from everywhere, but I pressed onward. As I crossed the threshold, the scorching of my eyes and ears subsided. As I cautiously opened my eyes, I found myself on what I can only describe as a street, although it was as nothing I had ever seen a cart nor horse on before. As I looked from side to side, I saw nothing but magery and items of the dark arts, all shining as though they had been fasioned by the heavens. Demons of immense power were quelled and tamed to do the will of mortals. People bustled and romped where they would with no care to each other nor themselves. But it wasn't until I turned my gaze upward that my blood ran cold.
I ran through these alien streets, trying to find an exception to my findings. Something that would disprove what I had found - there was none. Everywhere, atop every home, every building, every ramschackle box, every sewer grate, every tree, every rock, every person, every beast of burden, was an Ivory Tower. Everywhere. Over everything. I ran as far as I could before finding an immense wall, which I then ran what I thought was parallel to, but eventually I realized that the wall curved and encircled this immense city I had been trapped in. Panic began to flood my mind, as that of a tiger in a cage. No door. No window. No escape. No hope. I knew where I was, where I had been cast - Hell. As I had barely began to reconcile my eternal fate, another thought entered my mind - I had been running for over the past hour.
I looked incredulously down at my body, odd shades cast about and around it from the invisible sun in the sky. My knee no longer exploded in torture with every movement. My back was unnoticible. My neck had only a slight stiffness to it with no pain. Baffled, I looked at my arms and noticed enlarged veins on them. It was only for a moment I pondered this, as I realized my clothing was almost falling off of me due to the massive decrease in my body. How long had I been in that room? How long was it since I had last eaten? Days? Weeks? Years? I still do not know. I found what seemed to be a window of a shop and concentrated on my reflection in it, and I could scarcely recognize myself - spindly arms, bones jutting beneath the skin of my torso, pale and empty cheeks, the beginnings of gray in what remained of my hair. My bloodied hand found it's way to my jaw, both little more than flesh-wrapped bones. My arms dropped, and I became aware that a constant rain had started. A constant rain under a clear sky under an invisible sun. My head sagged as I accepted where I was, what it meant.
I wandered back through the megopolis aimlessly, and eventually began looking aimlessly around me on my journey. I saw the members of the old dice-rolling team in their own domiciles, each with Ivory Tower firmly in place. I saw them with their families, their items, their magics, their hopes, their dreams. It was not much, but it gave me a slight sense of ... something less unbearable than the other thoughts running through my mind. Something barely soothing in the knowledge that they had survived the attack I allowed at the breach so long ago. I caught a glimpse of something from my back at that point, but I ignored it.
On I continued and saw the Woman in Black Armor. Her window was different, and I saw other tings, other events that she had endured, things I still cannot relate due to the bonds of promised secrecy. There was a warmth there that I wanted to grasp and make my own, but I knew I could not. And in making that decision, there was a warmth of its own. Out of the corner of my eye, again a flash of light near over my shoulder drew my attention. Yet still I could not see the source.
I crested a hill and could see past the barrier that surounded this city-state, and was able to make out the emblem of my family on a domicile in a tiny village. Two figures were there, and somehow I knew who they were - my parents. They had made a place for themselves out there, in that wasteland, and I took in a deep breath to reconsile this, and it was less painful than my other breaths had been. The light around me flickered again.
On I shambled, and I saw refugees of the township I had been at established in their own right. I saw the madame, a young lietnenant shieldsman, other faces I recognized. And in looking around their block of the massive township, I even saw scurrying about what could have been descendants of the hares who spoke to me there. I slapped sideways acrost my forehead hoping to knock free whatever emblem they told me they saw. And while I did not see him, I still heard the bourough warden howling and screaming in ture fasion. I revulsed. Yet, beyond that, there was a slight reluctant nod as I had revceived from the madame before. and the light flashed again.
The invisible sun had given way to the invisible moon and still the rain continued underneath a starlit sky. I made my way back to the place I walked out of, the only location in this Dantaen kingdom with no Ivory Tower. Stumbling inside I looked for mead to soothe the damage to my soul - when logic fails, this is what we seek: comfort by any means. There was no mead. No ale. There was, however, some other drink that had appeared, and I consumed it with earnest. If the fates and heavens had any sympathy, any compasion, and kindness, the drink would have been poison. However, there are no such thigs, so that is not how this story ends.
Days continued on into weeks. I began to grasp the beginings of the devices of this land, and I began to use them in a way a child would - press this, hit that, move this, scream when that breaks. I used these as I could in my new post, and while I was vastly insufficient in any of these individually, the people around seemed to believe that my ability to combine demonicsim and wizardry and combat into one task was something worth venerating. Even when I told them I was insufficient and they needed someone else, they would not let me leave. They gave me some modicum of reinforcement, meager as it was, to try and complete my tasks. Yet even they were insufficient, and so I continued to merge all these impossible powers to fix everything, feeling even more the idiot by the day that I could not fix these problem faster with all these resources at my disposal. I had began to see spectral tendrils appear at this point.
Weeks turned into months, and I continued repairing and creating what I could. Yelling, screming, braggart jesters would want me to do more, and my mind continued to degrade. I would sit in my broken home without Ivory Tower, adding the fearsome devices of this land to my inventory. Stories unfolded before me, nonexistant battles pervaded and interfered in what remained of my life, and a number began to chase me. The dice-rolling clan appeared in turn, each offering their condolences and votes of ill-conceived confidence, each keeping their own Ivory Towers in view. The tendrils grew brighter.
One day, after consuming massive amounts of the sweetvile drink I found in this place I call 'home', the Woman in Black Armor contacted me through one of the devices of this entropic land.
"Hello. How have you been?"
My responses were slowed, numbed by the physical and mental onslaughts of the battles of the day and by the second-guessing and drinking of night. "How the fuck do you think I've been?" I slurred attempting to hiss.
"I understand you're angry. And I'm sorry. But do you understand now why you're here?"
I breathed slowly before answering. "I don't know why I'm here, but I have a theory."
The Woman in Black Armor paused in wait for my continuation. When it did not come, she finally prompted, "And what is that theory?'
"I must continue so that all of you may continue," I spat out.
"That doesn't sound particularly pleasing to you." I truly hate monotone voices.
"Well, it shouldn't!" My drink was lost to high velocity ending on a wall at that point. "I am suffering unimaginable to any of you, and you all want me to continue with this ...for what?!?"
Calmly, the Woman in Black Armor replied, "Because we want you to reach your goal."
"THERE IS NO FUCKING GOAL!!!!" I howled. "The Ivory Tower has tauned me for all these years, and now I'm in a metropolis where I'm the only person without one? And you all want me to continue to be the outcast? How fucking sadistic is that?!?"
Again, calmly, "Is it we that cling to you, or you that cling to us?"
I stared at the corner of the room I had ended up in, shaking. The tendrils connecting me to this populace shook and jerked. Quietly, I asked, "Is that the decision I have to make? Save you all or finally have my own happiness?"
With a somewhat hollow voice, she replied, "That sounds rather religious."
I chuckled at that point. "What kind of decision is that? Sacrifice those I hold dear now for some pointless hope that I might find happiness later?" I turned to the device I was communicating to the Woman with, as though it were actually her. "Answer me truthfully. No strings. Who are you? Why did you save me? Will I ever fulfill my quest?"
As if some kind of other-worldly demon, she answered, "I am your friend. I saved you because we all need you, as I told you. And as you are now, no, you will never fulfill your quest."
It was a moment that I had wished she had left in a whisper of wind. But, as usual, I was not so fortunate. I supposed I should not have asked for what I wanted, as that never ends well. "I see..."
Before we could continue the conversation further, an alarm sounded. I quckly lumbered across the room to the makeshift de-com-dry item I had created, holstered it, and stumbled out of the door. Along my way to the source of the alarm, I sensed something. As I looked to see what it was, there stood my Ivory Tower, the door into it meer steps from me. I pondered my situation, and realized I was at a crossroads - achieve my goal in uncertainty, or save what I had well intact.
The alarm blared.
The tower shone.
My tendrils grappled.
I ran for the door. But which door?
"What's the situation?" I barked to the captain of the guard.
"Demons are attacking! We don't know how long before they get here!"
I peered out through the door, noting the attackers speed and distance. "I can stop them. Let me through." The doors opened and I began my charge to the attackers.
"Seal the gates! Let nothing through!" I ordered the guardmen behind me. I turned back to the breach where the demons were attacking from. In doing so, I had felt that I had been here before. Such is life.