Cor planned to attack the Inyus by surprise, and I figured that the most useful thing I could do would be to cast Touch of Purity released over time on everyone, as soon as the first attack had happened (so that the voice of the Father wouldn't give away the surprise). It didn't work that way: everyone moved a bit to attack, rather than staying close together, so by the time I cast, only Cor and Thymelixsen were close enough. And it didn't go as planned after that, either, since the Inyus had impressive shielding that was pretty much impervious to any attack, apparently. Cor said to retreat, and grabbed Jack, who'd been hit, carrying him as he ran. May went with him, since she was by Jack. I heard something land nearby, and I ran back and then angled over to Cor and May, while Thyemelixsen went in another direction entirely. There was a purple flash not long after, but I could tell nothing more than that.

Once I caught up with the group, I used the rest of Touch of Purity to help Jack, who'd been stunned. I thought about our circumstances. The Inyus don't know us, don't know we've run (and weren't hit, other than Jack), are in equally unfamiliar territory, and don't know our manoeverability. Still, they caught up to us, and they had to have been injected at about the same time/place we were (which is something to think about later, how they followed our ship). In any case, they might not directly chase us, lest we be planning an ambush.

Cor wanted to break our trail, and once Jack recovered, just about when Thymelixsen rejoined us, we went down a gravel stream bed, then into shadow a couple of times. Cor was concerned with further attack, but I was fairly sure that we should just go on to the source of the corruption now, before the Inyus could get there, and be done. The new plan: fly to within a half a mile as a bird, put on whatever blessings and protections we can manage, hopefully bypassing the things that Jack triggered last time by being birds, get to the main place, plant the seeds, and get out.

As we were flying, a couple of us saw three lights come up, go across, then go down again, presumably the Inyus.

We got to the point of May having to recast her blessing on us, and at that point I put His Mighty Shield on us all, and Jack cast Feel of Luck, which was interesting. We flew closer, coming in from the northwest, figuring that was beyond the crash site. There were lots of vines, and the top of the ridge was about 160 feet up. I suggested we bring dirt with us, since there was not telling whether there'd be available dirt at the source. We weren't sure where exactly in the crescent the source was, nor how to find it, because of the vines.

So May spoke in the voice of the Mother to the ravens. One came, and we followed it, near to the place Jack was attacked. It lead us around, and we changed out of bird form. We followed May following the raven. There were more mushrooms than Jack saw before, so we followed closely, and could feel the mushrooms shivering there, but we weren't attacked.

Inside, there were many birds, and hunting cats and dogs. We went in, and it was a winding path with many animals along the way, ones that caused some kind of flare when they walked. There were 12 switchbacks, then we reached a high arching chamber filled with ravens and the stench of animals. The ground was covered in roots. Everything was laced with blessing. May asked about bringing the armor back, and the raven thrashed, looking ill, but Thymelixsen said it was powering up. While it changed, Thymelixsen sensed magic, and said that the densest magic was about 20 or 30 feet ahead of us, not in this room at all.

May investigated the wall and found a door, but no way to open it. I tried, but could do nothing.

There was a silvery metallic radiance to the bird, the feathers turning silvery, and Thymrlixsen said that it was now able to talk. It said that we had been welcomed so far, and asked why we had come. We talked about bringing its armor back, but that wasn't enough reason to let us in farther, nor were other attempts discussing bringing it back to where it came from successful until Cor said that we brought a gift of growth, and we all brought our powers of empathy and persuasion to bear, saying that this would bring it back to being in its proper place of defense, not defending a world that shouldn't even know of things outside itself. In the end, it was enough, and the door opened. There was a huge figure inside, ten times the height of a man, with knotty wood growing in place of lost crystal parts. We gave it the armor piece we'd managed to bring, then planted the seeds. Vines grew incredibly quickly, wrapping all of us up, and I blacked out.
Thymelixsen suggested that Jack go ahead to look for the center of corruption, now that the verdant growth pattern is clearly what we can follow. I was concerned about him going alone, given how he was injured during the recognizance mission, and suggested we all go together, since it was likely the source anyway. Especially since I could sense the Protector in that director, though it was a strange sensing, not the usual strong and steady. We discussed it, and in the end, since Jack is the only one who can currently fly using Thymelixsen's magic, he was going to scout ahead to confirm that the place he found is indeed the center of the corruption. Once he did, he would fly in our direction about a mile, to find a good place to camp, so we could make our assault (whatever it will be) tomorrow in daylight. The rest of us would get there as quickly as possible with May's enhancements.

After an hour, Thymelixsen said that Jack had stopped, so we switched from using May's blessing to walk quickly to using her magic to fly, which had to be redone fairly frequently. And I slowed us down, still not being good at flying. (So strange, this place, having so many new forms.)

When we caught up to Jack, he said that the place on the hill is the biggest, and there's one other large piece of corruption nearby. I thought it would make sense to get the smaller piece of corruption, and get a better idea of what we were dealing with. Which we ended up doing, with Jack taking us into shadow to go some of the way. Once we were back in the regular forest, Cor spotted a raven, watching us, up in a tree. Once he pointed it out to the rest of us, he said we shouldn't attack it, since that would trigger its need for defense. So we let May talk to it, putting out her hand for it to land on. It took a while for it to consider, then land. May asked it to show us where there was more growth like that. It hopped ahead, and we followed, the foliage appearing more and more green. And there were more ravens in the trees, many more ravens. They seemed agitated when May wasn't close, like they might attack. Oddly, we could see through to the other side of the clearing, and couldn't see anything obvious as the source of the corruption. Cor suggested using May's light to calm the ravens, and when she glowed, they fluttered a bit, then settled.

May suggested that Thymelixsen sense where the magic corruption was. He said it was just ahead of May, and was large, with three kinds of magic in it: toughness, some kind of regeneration, and a cone-shaped attack that would take out classical magic. He circled the area it was in, and there were lots of the tree roots coming in. It was an oval, about 15 feet by 11 feet. When I got closer, I could sense that it seemed to be metal and armor. May went closer with her light, and it seemed like there was something crystal in there, a large shield, facing up (so the cone attack would be directly up). May's light went, and I could sense that some of the ravens were flying away to the northwest, to the hill that is the center of the corruption. May pushed on her blessing so the light would last longer, and then we mixed our energies again for a combined ritual, pulling the energy that had leaked out of the shield into the grove back into the shield. It started glowing silver. The ravens got excited, and some flew off. Interestingly, the power in the birds didn't change; just the plants were affected.

Cor started clearing the shield off, and Thymelixsen and I helped; there wasn't much time before the ravens might return. There was a mark on the surface of the shield, and May said it was like an odd Arcoon, saying something about light unto darkness.

Cor tried to heft the shield without touching it, and it was fairly light for its size, but he still needed help to get it out of the grove; it's huge, and it's hard to work around the trees with such a large thing. All the birds flew up into the air, looking interested in us in ways I didn't like when May's light was down. Thymelixsen said that the birds had a blessing on them. And they would attack any enemy. Cor pointed out that they still couldn't see well at night, so wouldn't attack then. Thymelixsen pointed out that it still meant we were being watched, and information was going back to whatever blessed them, which is presumably the source of the corruption.

We weren't sure what to do, and in the end, May and I worked together to have Father and Mother energies flowing together, like the birds have, and then May visualized us as a flock, taking the shield up to the crescent on the hill. She asked for a safe path for us to do that. And they all took off, the whole flock, which was hundreds more than I'd realized were there, swarming, the going northwest.

We didn't get too far out of the grove before setting up camp for the night, using the shield as a lean-to next to a cliff wall. It was a quiet night, not much to do before setting off in the morning. Cor and I took the first watch, May and Jack were on for the second half of the night, and Thymelixsen would sleep through until he needed to cast.

Which would have worked fine, except that after a couple of hours, a raven landed, coming into the light of our fire. Cor went to get May. It fluttered, trying to get her to go after it. Everyone was awake by now, and Jack said we should go, in case something was coming. So we walked a little way, and Jack pulled us into shadow to hide. We waited. We waited. Just before we were going to return, there was a noise in the camp, something that made the fire pulse with a metallic quality before it went back to normal. And then there were six Inyus coming out of the forest into our camp, one of them with a device had a curly spiral on the end, that presumably was what made things pulse. They were dressed in shiny metallic stuff.

Cor had Jack take us into shadow, and even in shadow, he could see purple waves flowing around from the sensing device. The one with the swirly device was in the middle, and the others, all soldiers, faced out from the camp, to defend against our return. We decided to go to the top of the rock we'd camped next to, so we'd not only have the advantage of surprise, but also height; necessary with that many soldiers. (And I have no idea how they ended up here; this is so improbable as to make me wonder how they followed us.)
Thymelixsen said Jack might need help, based on sensing Jack resisting magic via Thymelixsen's fetish. And he was too far away for any of us to get there quickly, more than a day's walk. The fastest plan would be for May to cast her blessing on us to become birds, then we'd all go find Jack. First, though I healed Thymelixsen of the wounds the thorns had made.

May cast her blessing on us, and it was my first time as a bird. It's odd to fly! Interesting, and much quicker than walking, definitely. Hawks can usually fly 30 miles/hour, but I went about half that, still figuring out how this shape works. And there were breaks for May to recast her blessing on us as well. After the third one, Thymelixsen said that Jack was flying back towards us. He also pointed out that there was a pattern of greater growth in patches as we headed northwest towards Jack.

When we got to where Thyemlixsen sensed Jack, he wasn't there, and then he dropped out of shadow, and signaled that he was hurt. The rest of us went to the ground to transform, while Jack stayed in a tree and wouldn't come down. I whispered to him to come down to be healed, but he squawked and flew away. I followed. Cor checked around, then he and May and Thymelixsen also followed. Jack became himself and I tried whispering again to get him to come down. Meanwhile, Thymelixsen told me to move out of the area of vibrant growth I'd inadvertently walked into. I tried to do that, but failed as it coiled up and held me, so I fell on my face. It pushed be back up to the tree, and it seemed like vines were coming out of the tree as well, going out to a 15 yard radius, though there was a blank spot on the tree where the vines were holding me. Thymelixsen sent stars out to cut the vines below my feet. I could feel the vines being cut, and the wood splintering and shattering, though there was no reaction otherwise. I started to say His Mighty Shield, and Cor came to investigate why I was still on the tree even though the roots were cut. May and Thymelixsen were keeping watch as Cor and Jack cut me out of the vines (Jack from above).

May and Thymelixsen spotted a dolo-like animal standing still nearby in the open, watching. Thymelixsen backed away, but May went closer, trying to talk to it. She sensed a group of them, and tried asking it sto show her where the source of the difference is. It seemed uncomfortable with what the rest of the group was doing, so May asked it to release us and said we'd leave then. She started thinking about finding the source of the sparkling stuff. I took a moment to heal Jack of his hurts except for his injured bone; he didn't want to go back where he was before, saying it was very dangerous, but May was following the dolo, and we were following her, back where Jack had come from.

Cor arrived at a small pond that had pearlescent swirling under dark water. Thymelixsen tested under the water with a stick, hitting something that might have been the size of a box. We debated whether this was the source of all the contamination, or only part of it. Jack said that he'd found a hill with ruins in a deep green forest, but he knew the forest had been there a while.

I tried sensing, and there didn't seem to be a shrine in that direction unless it were long out of power, but I felt some sense of the protection of the Father, which then slid away.

Jack said he saw things below the trees that were like fungi, and when he was between them, he was hit with spiritual magic, thrown in the air, and hurt his arm. He tried resting, but wolf-like things with glowing lights came out and bit him before he got into shadows, they were so quick. And the lights were visible in shadow, too. Once he got into shadow, he climbed a tree, and the wolves left, but then there was a stream of gix, hundreds of them, swarming the tree he was in. He went back into shadow and got away, turning into a bird, though it hurt to fly. (As he was telling us this, I healed his arm.)

Cor was sure it would be good to get this piece out of the pond, even if it's not the main piece. He manoevered it out, and it turned out to be a luminescent tube with a clamp, and designs on one side. It seemed to be armor of some sort, perhaps a wrist guard for something huge. May thought that we could put the energy we'd pulled out of the rampant plants back into the wristlet, and she and Thymelixsen and I did that. It settled back in in a more stable way than it had been in the arrowhead, presumably because this was an object of defense.
There were about 10 hours of darkness. Cor and Thymelixsen and I planned for the morning: Thymelixsen would wake up partway through the night to put his spell on Jack to be able to be a bird (of prey, like the one May used to avoid troubles), so he could search from above for anomalies as we worked outward from where the drop was. And at some point we realized that our names weren't our local names. Thymelixsen was Cheemest, Cor was Korrun, May was Maya, Jack was Jacquey, and I was Kabchee. Which was all very strange.

At some point I touched a tree, and it felt lonely, and didn't reach back to me, in my current form. Another bit of strangeness.

Cor and I took the first half of the night's watch. I started a small fire in a hollow, and we traded off times of actually watching, so I had time to work on Presence of the Guardian and pray for a while too.

When we woke Jack and May for their watch, Cor suggested he show me the differences in our new bodies. I agreed. It was a very different sort of intensity, focusing on certain points, rather than more distributed. And more peaks of intensity, and then my body was done, though my brain could have done more. The manual senses were very different, more separate. Interesting, but I'm glad it's not my usual.

In the morning, Thymelixsen was done with casting, and I wanted to get into the usual swing of things, checking everyone for disease regularly.

We talked about how to optimize the search in this mostly undifferentiated forest. As Cor and Thymelixsen got more involved in the discussion (Thymelixsen has restrictions on what he can do in a day, and on range), Jack turned into a bird and flew off.

In the end, we went half again as far as Thymelixsen's range in a couple of directions, centered on the spot of blood. First north, then northeast, then northwest. He sensed something there, at the edge of his range. We got to some thorny bushes, and Thymelixsen got injured getting through them, but he found the drop. This time, there were silvery lines radiating out to the plant it was on the surface of. We decided to take the corrupted part of the plant, as Cor cut it and found that there was more inside the veins of the plant. And then more, though fainter, in surrounding plants - these were the thorniest of the plants. Should we burn it? Take all of it? Not worry about it in our search for the source? (And we decided that this was the direction of travel, though the previous drop had less effect, because it had landed on something dead).

May and I tried to sense its nature, and I got that it was of the Defender, a sort of metal armor, while she sensed that it was growing. In other words, of the Defender and of the Mother. So we had the option of trying a ritual to gather up their presence, to pull it out, though usually a ritual like this would put it into a thing or other people. We talked about what we could put it into. My staff, perhaps, but it was unclear how long that might take it to change.

As the options were debated, May and I realized that with Thymelixsen's help, a ritual would not take long (much less time than a bonfire, and likely releasing less into the root), if we could figure out what to put it into. I suggested something more containable than my staff, but still having to do with fighting, like an arrow, or an arrowhead, since it seemed to be a proactive sort of Defender energy. And it turned out that Cor had some arrowheads, so that was the way to go, especially since that would fit into another container. So we did the ritual, intoning and singing, and the silvery lines curled out, going into the arrowhead, which became silvery, semi-luminous. As we poured it in, I could feel it seeking growth, wanting to grow. And now it had the arrowhead's intent.
We were taken to a room in an area we hadn't been in before for a briefing. There was a large table in the middle, with a pond showing a view of the vemper. There were lots of Ults around, very busy, some with flowers. Our escort and greeter were here too. Tuner Vaywent Sumner was there, with a heavy pack (and blue flame eyes). We sat on stumps next to the pool.

The greeter Arahan hoped that we were well rested. They had narrowed in on a root that closely matched our root type, and the engineers said that there will be eight drips until the ship will have to move (effectively, leaving us stranded there; it's unlikely they'd be able to find exactly the same spot again). They'd traced a damaged part of the root, going up to the nearest nexus that would help. There was debris from the war at the Veil. While usually this is pieces of crystal, sometimes it is other stuff, as in this case. Debris usually gets smaller as it travels through the vemper, sometimes dissolving entirely without entering a root, but if it gets through, it can corrupt a lot, even if it is small. There are 11 million significant channels that can be affected here (the whole root, an offshoot from a core root, is about 20–30 million channels). Removing one reflection of the debris will remove it from all reflections. This time, the debris is a bit of a defender of the Veil, not a spindle or energy (which is good, so we won't be exposed to more). Its nature is potent, distorting, sending out war energies from the Creator, and the remains contain nonnative materials that could let the inhabitants jump levels of technology if they found it, possibly letting them get out and travel the roots, which would not be good. They do not know if it is whole. It could be a corpse or bones or other remains. They will insert us as close as possible to the defender, then we will have to look for whatever doesn't belong. They found one channel where the natives hadn't found it, and it is far from civilization. When we take it out, it will not have happened in the other channels as well. When we find it, we will plants wrap vine seeds around it, and they'll grow to encircle it. Up in the ship, the Ults will recognize the growth, and that will signal them to extract it and us. If we don't find anything before the time is up, we should plant the seeds as a signal to get us out. Though it is not necessary, planting more seeds will send a stronger signal, so we should plant as many as is reasonable, and they'll send two with each of us. (Note that the seeds will react and begin to grow when in dirt, whatever dirt they hit.)

This world is called Evaken. The debris is outside civilized land in this iteration. The majority race is the Kulin, who are physically similar to Ovahon. They have moderate energy manipulation used in the civilization nearby at the bay, and there are a few touched by the Creators. There are tribal humanoids, the Veshi, who seem to have limited energy manipulation, but more Blessed. They are aggressive, but seem unlikely to discover the debris, rather than just be affected by its energies. The Veshi live closer to our site than the Kulin.

There are 8 drips which is 16 count to hold the ship in position, which is approximately 4 days inside Evaken.

I asked if there were any Elix-like ones, and they said that only long ago, but not now. So when we were tuned, Thymelixsen and I would appear as Veshi. Since they have good tuners, will basically be a different exterior, but keep a similar interior.

Kulin sometimes hire Veshi, so having a mixed party is ok. Our cover story (should we need one, but hopefully we won't run into anyone we'd need to talk to) is that we are a group sent from Naloni, by the city council of Wamvul to the villages of Bright and Doshlan because of reports of wild beasts.

Our likely insertion oint would be past the two villages, and we were to avoid people if possible.

Local power structures were about structure, order, and birth.

Tuning would include appropriate cultural referents.

If we missed extraction, we wouldn't be picked up. Our attunements would become unstable, and likely fall apart after about 40 days. It would be best to keep ourselves away from people, since even our bodies could cause a technology jump.

The Ult pulled out what looked like a dark pear. It will brighten to red, then develop spots. When there are 5 black spots, that will be the last time they can extract us. Thymelixsen took the fruit.

We will be in a forested area, but won't have an All-Wood, because that specific agreement is between Elix and the indigenous entities (wood, or stone, etc).

The attunement will knock us out, but we shouldn't arrive covered in vemper unless the insertion went poorly. We should awake moments after arriving.

After we had no more questions, we were taken to another room that had huge flowers. We were told to crawl in, and there was plant matter pointing at us. It felt all cushy. The attuner touched the flowers, and they shifted to touch all of us, including our things. Pads touched my skin, my face. I felt my brain starting to change, words changing to gibberish, then again making sense. And other things came, like memories of seeing the bay and the ships in it. I had strange dreams of the life I lead here, with bits of Krayzen mixed in, such as looking at my hands and not recognizing them. I passed out.


Kulin look a bit different than Ovahon, May having developed breasts. She was bright yellow, and Jack was very red, with a pointing-up beard. Cor looked most like himself. Thymelixsen and I both had about doubled in size, and it felt very different, being so far from the ground, vertigo inducing until I got used to it. Also, we were both middle aged. Cor and Thymelixsen and I were all turquoise. felt like we were villagers, the distant mountains to the north for spiritual journeys, and that the Kulin were small magical people, or oppressors. An overclass, in any case. Thymelixsen was off the charts for magical ability compared to the locals, though there were lots of variants here compared to home, who learned by traveling and trading between villages. I was within range of the local Blassed, and each village (40–100 people; much smaller than Bionlear's Skull) had at least a few Blessed. I had a vague impression of having visited Bright once.

The sky was pinking, and there was dense forest around the meadow we arrived in, though the trees were only 20 feet tall or so. There were lots of plants around, and it seemed to be late spring or early summer. There were no animal sounds, no clouds, and no traces around of our arrival.

We couldn't see the tree canopy. May and Jack went to climb trees, to look out over the forest. Thymelixsen suggested turning people into birds, but I though he should sense magic before that. I tried to sense something too, unsure whether the Veil defenders being for defense made this an entity of the Defender (and sense-able by me at distance) or not. I tried, and felt a well-established presence of the Defender, likely a temple, about 20 miles southwest, plus other smaller nodes. Cor said it was likely the temple at Bright, which made Doshlan to our southeast, being 45 or 50 miles from Bright.

Jack saw a big tree about three quarters of a mile northeast of us. There were a couple of hours until dark, so we headed to the tree after Thymelixsen sensed magic, finding nothing but that we looked different to him: the tuning was such that we wouldn't show up as having been changed magically. And May put Guidance of Nature on most of us for faster traveling, using it on herself for talking to natural animals.

It felt good to be in a forest, like home. After a while, we heard birds, which likely had been scared off of the meadow by our arrival.

We got to the larger tree, and Cor went up with Jack's spyglass. He saw a bit of smoke blowing this way from two or three miles southwest of us. And there were a couple of groves of larger trees, one a couple of miles north. Cor told us this, and said that we had backup: he'd met a huge hunter who'll be about a day behind us. He might help, but if we messed up, he'll be the one to kill us.

We thought it worth investigating the smoke, so May turned herself and Jack into hawks, which looked slightly different than ones at home. Cor watched them from the tree, and I found a rock of the Defender to sit on while we waited. When they came back, they said that there were four bird hunters by the smoke of their fire, not what we were looking for.

So we headed north to the grove of bigger trees. There were hollows to camp in. Cor looked from the northeasternmost tree, as did Jack, and Thymelixsen sensed magic. He sensed something, not sure what, northeast out of the grove. It felt tiny, but potent, as if it were the fingertip of a powerful Blessed. Thymelixsen said he'd found it, and when I tried sensing it, I failed. So that won't be of particular use in this mission.

We walked out of the grove in that direction. Thyemlixsen went closer, and the bushed didn't have the same kind of give we'd gotten used to expecting from May's blessing. He found a pile of leaves. At the bottom of one of the leaves, there was a scintillating spot, like a drop of blood. We talked about whether this was the whole of it or just a drop, and decided that we'd have to keep searching for whatever left that drop. Thymelixsen put the drop into a container, not touching it at all, and stoppered it up.

Cor checked tracks nearby, and said that something scared the animals a couple of days ago. We talked about what to do, and planned to have Thymelixsen turn Jack into a bird in the morning to check for larger out-of-place things from above while the rest of us spiraled out from this point. We talked about its possible form (whether alive, dead, or undead), then Cor and I set up camp for the night, hidden in the sheltering spaces of the roots of the trees.
Once we crossed the Veil, I could feel time happening in a more usual way, which felt good, though interestingly, there seemed to be more noise than usual, with Creators' voices blending, and echoes of similar things said by a variety of them.

As we traveled into the roots, the view out sometimes seemed like we were deep underwater, and other times like it was an early dawn. The name of the space between the roots is vemper, and it's like the goo that came through with us when we first arrived beyond the Veil. In vemper, the rootcraft has its branches extended, and it felt more vibrant, more water-filled and alive. The ship was more at ease here, not unrooted.

As we got closer to the designated area of roots, it looked as if a shadow ere getting larger, though the ship had to move to avoid black things in the vemper. As we got nearer, the ship slowed, and there seemed to be fibrous rope coming off whatever we were approaching. As we got closer, the rope roots looked larger, perhaps four time the ship in diameter. We came to rest on one, and there was a barrier in front. We could feel as the vessel grabbed onto a root.

When we came through, it was first phase, cluster 1, cycle 1, rotation 1319, and we had until first phase, cluster 2, cycle 8, rotation 1319 to train and learn new skills. I also spent time daily praying, happy in the greater sense of connection on this side of the Veil. Of that, it took 12 cycles until the rootcraft narrowed in on a root, and 6 cycles to analyze and latch on to the root. We were told that the group will need to have a timekeeper to keep track of time relative to ship time once we're in the root.
W discussed our plan; there wasn't much to decide until we had more information about the upcoming trip with the Ult. While we waited to hear, there was time to study. I read more on religious lore, wanting a way to feel more connected, though without prayer.

Three Ults rejoined us, one wearing bands on its arms that had many things on them. One of the others had no flames, but did have a lattice of metallic roots over its surface, and was carrying a staff topped with some dense thing. The greeter said that Green Leaves Turning isleaving in four units. It introduced the band-waering Ult as Que Callow Barra, an entity specialist, and the other as Fettar Graz, our root traveler escort, who will be responsible for us when moving around the root craft any time we are outside our room. Que Callow checked us over to see that we were in stable condition, free of parasites, and so on. At the same time, it determined our physical needs, so we will be fed appropriately on the trip. I volunteered to be first, and disrobed as requested, so that there was nothing that wasn't me. The entity specialist took things off the bands, and put them in the air around me. Somehow, this made me feel warm. I realized that I was floundering in how to address Ults, and "it" is, in fact, correct.

Cor was next, then May, and the entity specialist asked her to step aside, since it needed more information. Jack and Thymelixsen were scanned without difficulty. We got dressed, and they started rechecking May with the nodes. It was odd: they took some sort of gourd out, froze a moment, then put it away again, without doing anything that I could see. Thymelixsen sensed magic, and said that a blessing of the Hidden Lord had just taken place. The Ults claimed that they'd done something with the gourd, and they didn't listen when we said that they hadn't. I asked about the how the gourd works, and they said that puffs of dust should happen. They thought it had, though again we contradicted them. Jack tried to check the gourd, describing it, and writing it down, and though they said it was the same as what they saw, it was different. So he tried writing it backward, and asked them to read it backward, and this time they said that that pattern would show it hadn't been used. Jack pointed out that he knew nothing of the gourd, so there'd be no way for him to write what wasn't there. The greeter touched its chest symbol and excused itself.

Three new Ults came in, two who seemed to be an escort, the other dressed in long green strips that were rather like leaves. It had blue flames, and green vines over its head. The green one drifted into the room, telling the first three Ults to go. When they left, the two escorts left as well. The green one focused on 1827, and 1827 said he understood.

Jack asked 1827 what he saw, and confirmed that 1827 saw the gourd not being used. Jack asked 1827 to say something if anyting like this happens again.

The green one asked about this in our own root. We said that the Mother and the Hidden Lord were separate there, being knowledge v. secrets. The green one asked if May could speak in the Voice, and she did, letting the green one confirm that she was touched by only one Creator. The green one offered May the option of speaking to it in private, but May declined, wanting not to keep secrets, to keep herself more distinct from the Hidden Lord her.

The green one wanted to test that the possibilities were stable around May, telling us to step far away.

May said that the the weapon under the Featureless Plains was of the Mother and the Hidden Lord, to be used on this side of the veil. The green one sent three threads out, that seemed to be three threads of light that went into May, testing that her flesh is only her. Ah, this one must be one of the Ult continuals.

There was a light at the base of her neck, and then a large beetle fell off her, to the ground. The green one disassembled it with a motion of its hands, and I could see symbols that were Arcoons in it, rotating, before it crumbled.

I asked how long it could have been there, and it had been there a while, with more turns it could have stayed.

Thymelixsen asked why the other Ult were sent out, and the green one said it was because they're not comfortable with the magic of the Creators. Then the green one partly extruded other threads to scan the rest of us, and we were fine.

The green one said that even the kathel find these sorts of things difficult to find, then left us, and the other Ults returned.

Since there wasn't a lot of time before the ship would be leaving, I asked if we could go now. Jack finally realized that he couldn't take Viveran with us, since it would be on the other side of the Veil even before we were injected into the roots, so he arranged for her to be taken care of.

We went to a shuttle to take us up to the ship, the inside of which was all greens and yellows and wonderfully alive, not even tame, with some consciousness like the structures at home. Interestingly there were portholes from the inside that weren't visible from the outside. We took our seats, and 1827 left us.

The seats curled into us, holding us securely. The greeter was with us. Another entity with a glass below its eye came to check things, then left. Then there was the sound of drawing air, and wind, then a sense of motion. We went up to Green Leaves Turning, docking inside in a chamber where the big craft's roots holds many shuttles. Not surprisingly there were many Ults around.

I put a hand on this ship's wall, and it felt older than the shuttle, and at least as alive. I asked if shuttles can grow into these, and they can, but they're allowed to do so only if needed, since it takes many resources.

We were taken up a number of levels, then went towards the center. There were bushes in the corridor, and it was humid.

The greeter waved its hand, and some of the bushes parted, showing a room within, with high ceilings and mossy banks. There was a particularly soft mossy space in the middle, and the rest of the floor was either woody or shell like; the walls felt rather like they were the inside of a nut. There were flowers dangling down. The greeter showed how lines meant that there were open spaces inside to put things, and how to touch the flowers to turn them on or off. They were high enough above most of us that Thymelixsen asked if one could be lower, so the rest of us could reach. The greeter said it was possible, but would take time to grow.

The greeter said that there would be a place to walk and exercise after we got through the Veil, and there would be views from there. When we were going through, we would need to lie on the mossy banks around us, which would hold us. Cor asked if he could use an information node, and the greeter said that would be possible once we're through the Veil. Thymelixsen asked about food and water, and the greeter said that the entity specialist will determine our needs and frequency for this. Then it said that we were restricted to this room before we went through the Veil. Afterward, we were allowed only to the exercise area, until we're trusted with other spaces. And there would be no energy manipulation before going through the Veil either. It warned us to be careful of the living ship, running and jumping are fine, but stabbing is not. I asked where the escort would be, and it said it would be right outside the door. It advised us to sleep now, since traveling through the Veils wasn't easy, and suggested leisure activities now to get into good spirits.

The greener areas of the ship seemed the most soft connected, while the hard wood had more layers to the ship's self. I thought welcoming thoughts to the ship. And then there was time to play hide and seek with May and Jack before sex with Cor and massage Jack.

We rested, and it was lovely, with sounds of burbling sap, and a breeze. There was a chirping noise, and the greeter told us to get on the mats. We talked about our thread signing bonus, and since we didn't have thread coils, and there wasn't enough time to integrate the threads before crossing the veil, we decided to get them later. Cor asked if there was risk when the entity specialist would come to top us off before going into the roots, and the greeter said there was. It also suggested being at ease as much as possible.

We sank into the mats, mossy fingers pulling us in. The craft vibrated, the mats keeping us safe. The air was turning, rather disturbingly.

The entity specialist arrived, getting permission before coming in. It had two metal horn-like things rising up behind its head, with metal around its torso and hands. It gestured to Thymelixsen, who nodded, and the tubes of metal radiated, with light coming out of its hands into Thymelixsen. It then filled the rest of us. It felt odd, full but not sated. The fullness felt good, as I hadn't been since we arrived, but the not-me-ness wasn't nearly so nice. I had a sensation of kathel in and around me, which was comforting, yet other as well.

The craft felt like it rose, then flew. It accelerated a while, then felt like there was a yanking in one direction. The moss pulled me all the way in. There was communication through the moss that they were doing defensive maneuvers, and they released pods and spores. There was more evasion, then there was a message that we were half a unit to the Veil.

I tried to meditate, but failed. There was a jerk, and I felt exposed to explosions going on around us, with crystalline shapes around, shooting. I tried to sink more into the moss, keeping my eyes down.

And then we were through. I settled in, drifting on. There was warmth, and the feeling of heading into a smooth pond.

Jack and Cor had goop on them, as we had when we first came through the Veil, though the rest of us didn't.
Now that Jack had his cavenant, we headed back up to meet Cor at the nexus. Cor said it was nice inside, like a forest (I wished I'd been inside), and that he couldn't feel the edge in there either.

Thymelixsen mentioned talking with Yallow about thread prices, and we all wondered when, since none of us had seen him. It was a timely reminder to go check the day's prices, at the thread market on the tenth floor. It turned out to be a large open area, but without any clear paths, since there seemed to be many walls of mostly-transparent glass, that had maps and symbols appearing on them, as if keeping track of information that was constantly changing.

Thymelixsen asked 1827 about the thread prices listed, and 1827 touched a panel to show us the prices. I asked Cor if this was anything like the knowledge navigation he's been learning, but this seemed to work by touch somehow, rather than just by thought.

Today's prices (on 6th 2.6, which seemed to be some kind of date, though I don't know what) were 696 gulwarn for 99% pure thread, 812 gulwarn for 99.1%, 580 for 98%, 394 for 80%, 342 for 70% (75% wasn't listed), and 157 for 50% (which is the lowest quality available on the market, useful for making things out of, as Thymelixsen had fetishes made out of thread). Thymelixsen asked if there were volume discounts, and it turns out that there are, but the break points are 50 and 200 threads, which is far beyond what we could afford currently.

We talked about trading, and 1827 said that the market had been trending up for the last five cycles. In the end, we bought no threads, and went to take a private track from the main trading floor to the Ult tower.

Thymelixsen said that at the Tower of Possibilty, one can have a meeting room to meet with one's other selves.

Jack asked for some rope to make a cavenant harness, but when Cor started to hand him the rope, it was another Jack, wearing something with bands and blue nodes on him. This Jack said that it was very much not a good time for him to jump. We asked what he was wearing, and he said it was absorption armor. He said he was in phase 8, and was distracted when he realized we didn't know what that meant in time. But we got him to stop talking about that by asking who was in his group. He had a non-Thymelixsen called Thusk, and May. He didn't know Cor or me, and said that he was missing Erik, an Ovahon short sword fighter. Jack pulled out a thing that looked a bit dangerous when he brandished it, and he said it was a pulser, for fighting if one is attacked between roots, and destabilized. Thymelixsen asked if he'd worked with the Ults, and that Jack had, phases ago. He'd also worked with some Inyus, and now were with the Edge Hammers. Cor asked if there was something we should do to avoid losing a phase, and Jack talked about making mistakes, then trying to go back and fix the mistakes in the time stream, but that made things worse in the long run, knocking other selves out. I asked what had gone wrong, and he said that there had been wrong thread stuff with the Edge Hammers. His May was also a Blessed of the Mother. Sometimes. (Er, what?)

And then our Jack was back. He said he'd been injecting, hitting a horse by shooting it with rooty stuff. It wasn't a true horse, but part horse, part rainbow, and he wasn't supposed to look at its face. He had to put his hands into big root things to shoot. And it hurt him to shoot, as well.

We told Jack what his other self had told us. And then Cor told us some of what had happened when he was in the nexus, saying that he'd seen his dad. He said that there were a lot of people there, all of whom he thought were Creators.

We arrived at the Tower of Possibility, which was huge, made of purple and yellow glass. There was a group of Ults guarding the door, who asked if we had an appointment or had been asked to work with someone. We said the latter, and they let us in to a transporter, telling us to think of the Collectve, and we would go to the right place. Interestingly, we could see out, though it had seemed a reflective building from the outside. Not surprisingly, most of the entities here were Ults.

We went about midway up, arriving at a curving corridor. We saw a symbol, and I confirmed with 1827 that this was the symbol of the Pushancove Collective. And entity was there, and it spoke to us, its voice in our heads, asking our business. We said we were here to work, and once it checked our names, confirmed who had interviewed us. We followed the entity to the end of the corridor. The room had a large table grown in the middle, which was very much alive. There were other small tables about, one with a decanter on it. Thymelixsen wanted to drink some of the contents, but we stopped him until we found out whether it was alright (both permission and health). The greeter scanned Jack, and said that he was mostly made of it, so it was alright to drink. We all tried the water, and it tasted wonderful, so fresh after so much time drinking stale water from the skins. The greeter left, and we discussed our plan.

Some Ults arrived, once carrying a golden scepter, one noticeably taller than the rest, but otherwise hard to distinguish, though the fires above each are different colors, so if I can remember who is what color, it would cut down on the possibilities.

They welcomed us, saying that they were glad we were considering their offer. Two of the Ult were here to help with assessing us, which was rather like what the Edge Hammers did, though using Ult devices, which shone light. They told the greeter the results,a nd confirmed that with our current levels of taint, we could all work with them. They confirmed that we understood the results, saying that the scan shows how much more of a person has settled on that other side until, of their own weight, they would fall. Which is an unsettling way to think about it, though useful. They said that we can't undo the hole that's been made, and while we can fill it to a degree, it will always be a wound.

Somehow in conversation we mentioned having seen an Ult ship in the trap, and they said that the turning desert feeds the roots, and the roots grow from it, so the kathel do get to the roots, albeit not whole, as they'd presumably prefer.

There are rules for our employment, if we choose to go with them. The first protocol is that there is no returning kathel to the roots, and no helping them past the trap. If there are violations, it is up to the ship's captain to determine what happens to us. All generations of kathel try to go to the roots, but it is our job not to help them. He mentioned that the keepers of time ebb and flow as to whether the fifth generation of kathel exist, as the city changes. The most common understanding is that the thirds have attacked the Veil and the fourth are here, but that can vary.

Tangential to that was a discussion of time. 10 cycles = 1 work cluster, with 6 on and 4 off being the most usual. 6 clusters = 1 phase. 10 phases = 1 rotation. And there have been 1319 rotations so far, according to current calculations. And there was a warning that too much inconsistency is hard on the spirit, and disconnects from the flow.

The second protocol is that being touched is considered dangerous to the roots. Where the Creators are apparent to people, it's because they're needed to deal with something in the root, because that can expose the Creators to corruption. So talking about the Creators to others is not good, nor is ostensibly using their gifts, but energy manipulation is seen as acceptable. So I could use my Blessings, because it would be seen as energy manipulation. The exception to this is the command staff and leaders.

The third protocol is to follow the mission rules precisely. We can question in advance, but must be precise in execution. If not, there might be difficulties with extraction from the root, and when the tuning fades, we'd die.

The fourth protocol is that if we work with anyone other than the Ults, then want to work with them again, we have to tell them, since some would try to use us to spy on them, even without our knowledge.

The fifth protocol is that we are ready and on time. It takes a lot of energy for rootcraft preparation, and there's only a certain window when it's possible to go; it would waste energy if we're not on time. (Somehow this lead to a discussion of their presence in other cities, and it turns out that the Pushancove Collective has a presence in all the major cities, and is based in the capital.)

The sixth protocol is that thread weaving is done only by specialists, called continuals. This includes all kinds of threadwork, such as thread stabilization, thread fortification, adn more. The Ults see threadwork as dangerous, since it can lead to greater corruption, so they have only those who are specially trained do that. However, possibility stabilization is not threadweaving, so we can work on not sliding between selves, and they can teach us more about that.

We asked about Ults having taint, and in the beginning all the Ults here were touched, but now it's about intentional travel, and not all are. They lost their original root, however, so stay traveling between the roots.

Sometimes continuals get corrupted, but rarely. Once we're trusted, the continuals could help us stabilize better.

Jack asked about going into the roots having less of our selves, and they said that we would be topped off with extra energy before being injected into other roots, which would give us the semblance of wholeness while we were there.

Tuning includes a variety of things, so while in a root we'd be able to eat, breathe, and speak, our appearance possibly changing a bit to fit in. They said that it was useful that we were actualized when we were at the temple, since (if the temple folk with trade their information) it will make it easier to get directly to a useful root.

Possibility stabilization with take six to eight units to learn from their instructors (and happily they have those). We confirmed that our pay on this mission would be 5 gulwarn per inactive unit, 30 gulwarn per active unit, a completion bonus that would likely be about 2500 gulwarn, and 3 threads as a signing bonus. And if the mission involves the possibility of further corruption, they would tell us how to avoid it.

We agreed to the protocols, and signed with the Pushancove Collective.
We discussed whether we should send a message to the Pushancove Collective, so if they didn't need us yet, we could learn thread fortification and preservation here with the Edge Hammers, but in the end, we decided we should just go. I asked Gallax to show us where the Collective was relative to the Edge Hammers, and also the Forge and the Wheel. Of course, it was all over the city. The new plan: we'd go to the Forge to get the fetishes Thymelixsen had commissioned, then to the Wheel to get some kind of translators, and thence on to the Collective. Gallax offered us a ride, and warned us not to do any kind of thread work around the Ults; they don't do fortification or any of the other kinds of thread work, so we'd have to learn about it here with the Edge Hammers.

Gallax discussed edgewalkers as we traveled, reminding us that even if they are friendly, they can do lots of auxiliary damage, since they're not always able to have the fine tuning to do something that doesn't ripple further. May asked if Gallax knew Zom, and Gallax said that he was fairly trustworthy, and he'd seen him help others to the edge, but Edge Hammers don't work with edgewalkers. Gallax also warned that information travels among edgewalkers, so if one knows something, the rest will likely learn it soon enough, which is reason enough to keep ourselves to ourselves as much as possible.

Thymelixsen picked up his fetishes at the Forge.

May experimented giving Jack a gulwarn, and somehow that didn't go properly. Jack ended up sealing off some of them. Gallax said that some people did that on purpose, to save them. To undo it, he told Jack to think about joining and opening, but not fusing, which is like letting a bank use it, in order to earn interest later. When gulwarn are fused, it lets the consciousness of the city use the gulwarn. Which means that the cities are somehow alive, and talk to one another, as it turns out. Gulwarn are part of the city's consciousness.

We got to the Wheel, which was in the upper part of the city, with docks for aircraft. Gallax told us where to go to the middle, to the main trading floor, for translators. Thread trading happens on the tenth floor, and the day's rates for thread will be available there (which could be 400 to 600 gulwarn for 98% thread, and higher for 99% and better). Gallax warned us about trying to knit ourselves up. He said that there was the individual who came, who generated some thread. Some people think that one can rebuild oneself, but it will end up being a bit something else. We're never going to fill the hole of lost thread, but build another part of self. Random thread is usually about 50% able to be integrated (50% pure), except for edgewalker thread, which can try to take over.

We talked about translators, and how we wouldn't need one in the city since we already have 1827, and not in the roots, because that's part of tuning, which the Pushancove Collective is good at. Still, Jack really wanted a cavenant, and there will be times that either the group splits up, or we're aboard a ship without as many translators as the Ults have, etc. Gallax said that more mechanical translators work only for a certain amount of time, while others run off the person, which lasts longer, but is a drain. Usually, translators that vocalize in one's head are more sophisticated, and more likely to run off the person.

Cavenant care includes feeding it a pellet per day, and a few drops of liquid per day as well.

Since it was going to take a while, and we could catch a public track from here, Gallax left.

Cor wanted to get to the nexus, the place of most balance in the city, which was in some part of the Wheel. We headed in, seeing transport alcoves, trading areas, and what seemed to be food vendors. There didn't seem to be many people going toward the nexus. The way was in greens and yellows with floral designs, feeling a bit like a forest. We asked 1827 about where people come out of the nexus, and he said it was here, though we'd seen a number of people vanish inward, and none return. We talked about waiting for Cor, but in the end, decided it made more sense for the rest of us to go to the main trading floor to get a cavenant, meeting Cor here at the entrance in about an hour.

So the rest of us went to the main trading floor. Except that it took Jack and me a little while to get the transporters to work, long enough that some guard-like entity came over, asked me to leave, and confirmed I knew where I was going. But eventually we made it down.

It was a huge space, with big footed arches. There lights and many many entities. We talked, and May planned to use a Blessing of the Mother to find a good, healthy cavenant. First, we went to a nearby post that had information, to find where there were cavenant dealers. The first one we stopped at told us about cavenant care, warning us not to touch the belly or the tail, since then they'll bit. And as they get older, they have greater accuracy. They live a long time, but it wears them out to be brought in and out of the roots. It seemed like a five year old cavenant would likely have reasonably accurate translation. May spoke to the cavenant in Ovahon, and had it talk to Jack in Kraymerrian. Unfortunately, Jack couldn't bargain the vendor down to a price he wanted, so we moved on. Thymelixsen brought us to another dealer, on the edge of the floor, where less-established traders were. May used her Blessing to narrow down the choices, and it seemed that there was one in particular that would be suitable, a silvery one. Again, there was testing of translation, both with that one and a much older one, who was much more accurate, but also less fun, which was something Jack wanted. In the end, Jack got the silvery one, with a supply of food and liquid. I suggested that May ask it its name, and it's Viveran.
Jack and May were asleep, Cor and I awake when Thymelixsen was escored back from being scanned. I checked that he was alright, and it seemed he'd be fine once he'd slept. I asked about his earier meeting, and he said he'd discuss it in the morning, when we were all awake. Cor pointed out that talking with the other hims like that might make him less individual, and therefore less likely to get back home.

In the morning, we talked over breakfast. Thymelixsen told use about his session being scanned, going to a time when he'd just recently come out of the Allwood. And he told us about his meeting, with Murr and three other hims, and one other who hadn't saved the bionlear, so the Sunk controlled the bionlear, and that world had lots of combat and conflict. That him had learned Burdez. Thymelixsen said that Yallow is like the bionlear: he is from outside, as the bionlear is, not from the All and the roots that grow out of it. Which is strange indeed, that someone like that exists at all (the All is rapidly becoming the Most, but not quite All...), and that if so, he chooses to work for/with Thymelixsen. It makes me nervous. Thymelixsen continued telling us that after we og to the edge, we could have part of ourselves stay here, even while most goes home to Krayzen. And he said that the Ult have nice water, as he gave Jack a water skin with fresh water. But the purpose of the meeting was that Murr could meet enough of hims just after arrival, to assist with our direction. If we and others like us add enough enough diversity, it's possible that we will add another generation to the kathel, and it now seems that there's a fifth generation, and so maybe a sixth generation will happen too.

May mentioned telling herself about things, when she went downstairs the first night (which she hadn't mentioned until now). She'd wanted to know about the weapon.

Thymelixsen said that as we go further towards the edge, there are more things that will knock threads out of us, and we need to have a way to get them back. Thread stabilization resists loss over time, while thread fortification helps resist extraction. Both seem extremely useful.

Thymelixsen said that there are three Ult approaches:
1. repair damage to the roots, but having a little All in a root to make the root grow.
2. keep the roots hidden from the All as much as possible.
3. cleansing very tainted roots of the All.
The Ult we're going to travel with take the first path.

Jack told about his scanning, getting to actualization, and realizing that he was really there, at his parents' house, the first time he was going to dine with his parents after a day out and about with one of his father's lieutenants. But he kept thinking about doing it as before, which in itself made it different. And he wondered if he did something different, whether it would do something in another root, but his self would be fine in his original root. And since he'd lived through more than that then-him, he knew about some people who weren't as trustworthy as his parents had thought, and obliquely warned them. And that made them suspicious, and then he remembered some kind of magic being done to himself in the basements, and then nothing, in a way that he took to mean that he ended up dead. So when he went back in, he told the truth, and found out that his mother was more of the Shadow Lord than his father, and they knew what to do. They took him to the basement, but instead of magic, drank a lot, and forgot what they needed to forget. Which is good.

May wanted to talk about actualization.

Thymelixsen said that the temple people seemed to prefer to tell us the nice part of the truth, and hid the unpleasant stuff, such as the toll the scanning would take on us.

Thymelixsen asked at the meeting about the Edge Hammers, and had been told that they were competent and careful. And if we went to the edge today, some of us would make it through. And if we train more, maybe all of us would make it to the edge. Once we're here longer, we'd be able to see the path, by remembering what we did to get to the edge. Which made me think of what I'd done before, in seeing the path back here from that horrible night.

We talked of Wanderhold being a safer place than some others, because of the kathel presence. And even so, we need to be careful, taking transport, not walking around the city.

Thymelixsen sad that his hims were all possibilities of what could happen. when he saw them there all together, it seemed like they formed a long thread, each a circle on a spiral of possibilities, spiraling through the eye of creation, where all the roots start from. It starts at the All, and loops to the root, the eye of creation, around and around, with some spirals touching the edge. And there's one point, the now, on the thread, the needle pushing it through.

May said that she'd almost broke hers.

So whichever is the current me, at the needle, she has the most chance to add more possiblities, so all the possibilities at the head of the thread are at the same time. According to Murr, each time the thread goes to the edge, there are lots of possibilities. Some go over into the All, some stay, and some go back, so the thread is weakened, which means that each time we go to the edge, there is less and less. Interactions with other selves make a difference in which go over. But still, it's not always clear how. If there's a dead possibility, there's the chance to take the threads before they go into the All.

Thymelixsen also asked his other selves about thread weaving, and they all knew it. They said it gets to a point where one will want ever more threads, which is a problem, but at the beginning that isn't so, and the beginning skills are useful, such as enhancing skills, as the red man did. They suggested that we all learn some beginning thread weaving.

Cor said that it's better to think about who we are than what we can become.

Thymelixsen noted that the other hims were not limited by the contract of arms.

There was a knock at the door, and Gallax was there, from the Edge Hammers. He was wearing a smart outfit, will silver buttons. When he talked, I still couldn't understand him without a translator, but it seemed so close to being understandable. We tried pleasantries until 1827 arrived. He asked if we were ready, and we were, so we headed out.

We talked as we made our way into the city, taking a sharp black track Gallax had brought. Gallax said that the scanning they'd do was not only for level of taint, but also for probability of making it to the edge. Jack asked if there were any way to get less taint before going to the edge, and there isn't, but we can learn to lessen the growth of the taint. If it gets small enough, the body can deal with it.

Jack asked if we released the taint at the edge, is it all gone, or just most of it. Gallax said that we are connected to the All, and we can't wholly get rid of the taint.

We talked about the group of Ults we'd be going with after being scanned, and asked Gallax's opinion of the Pushancove collective. He said that they were the largest, and most likely to be careful about how they handled us. Their abilities to tune to the roots and inject people was the best, though there was less pay, but also less risk. They focus on keeping large roots healthy, at the point that the root can't absorb the taint of the All.

We went north, and noticed a red haze in the air. Here there were older structures, less maintained, thicker walls, not as tall; it felt like a shantytown. There were more people on foot, and in private vehicles, but not in public tracks. I asked why, and it's because it's a dangerous part of town.

We arrived at an armored arena, and went into a shelter where the air was thick with rust. The Edge Hammers were here because desperate people come here to try for the edge. And because it's in Bove's part of town. And because in this cheaper part of town they could afford a larger structure.

Gallax said that the ash in the air was old magic and crushed roots, from the beginning, loose and unrefined magic. We went down and down, passing workshops, then out into a large courtyard, with many tracks, that were more armored than the one we'd come in. Gallax said that these do get closer to the ghostlands, but not too the edge, because they get knocked out.

There was a big door to a storeroom, then we passed a kitchen and a mess hall. There were two entities there, one a red cylinder with a blue disk, and tentacle arms. Gallax introduced Unwak, who greeted us in language that we knew, which likely meant directly into the brain, using whichever language was most familiar to each of us. The other entity was a blue green scaled person, with large eyes, a tail, wearing a gray outfit with ribbed padding, armed with daggers. Gallax introduced Sonne. Unwak was the energy specialist, and Sonne was a martial trainer.

Unwak asked us to be seated, and Sonne checked us out as she walked about. Unwak shined lights on each of us in turn, evaluating our taint. It turns out that the range of corruption goes from 0 to 10,000 degrees of corruption. Normal for root beings is 500 to 1500.
The results:
Cor is the most safe. His taint is about 1900.
Jack is at 2300, which is in the range of being self generated reality interpretation. This is a level often of possibility engineers, magic users, and those touched by the Creators.
May is at 3900, beyond the range of self-generated reality manipulation but below the range of losing individual control.
I am at 4600. Which is uncomfortably close to 5000, when beings lose individual definition control, shifting between selves.
And Thymelixsen is at 5080, at the point when individual definition control begins to be lost (though of all of us, he seems least likely to randomly fall out).

Gallax said this wasn't too bad, that they'd worked with people with worse taint, at 6000, when the ability to recognize the self is confused. At 8000, one loses positional control. At 9000, one starts falling to the All, moving to the edge without volition.

We talked about what we can do with the Edge Hammers. First, learning stabilization. And it would be good to learn basic thread weaving.

Someone thought that the greater part of us that is already of the All, the more it might seem like we should go over, because so much of ourselves is already there. Which is the best explanation so far of why that might be an attractive option.

Gallax warned that Purifiers might be an issue. They purify thread, minimizing the loss of thread, but we'd never wake up again, which is why this is not an appealing option for most. (It would have been better to have chosen death in the first place, I suspect). Gallax also warned us not to do thread weaving around the Ult.
I went to the library to work on stabilization, copying over anything I could find that was of use, and wrote more about last night, still surprised that no one came to get me for scanning.

Once we were back in the room, Thymelixsen asked 1827 to check for any messages from the Edge Hammers, and once he'd left, warned us that the forges are dangerous places, since they forge essence.

Jack said that he'd studied his new blessing, but isn't quite done learning it. Cor had worked more on knowledge navigation. I told Thymelixsen that I'd taken notes on stabilization, so perhaps later he might read that part.

Cor told us that he'd had a vision at the temple. There were fourteen other hims. Some were unlike him, some more like, and he'd talked with each of them all at onces, knowing how they were different. Some were from messed up Krayzens, which might not have been so alluring to return to. One was him all together. There were a lot of hims who had gone odwn the same path. That together him was a hunter, hunting us, the one Jack had seen in his visions of us being hunted down. He works for the Creators, here, not the gods. Cor said he was dressed in brown, with long hair and bone beads in it. As he talked, he got the sense that he might be connected to the Forest Lord, since he spoke of balance. Cor asked about a place of balance in the city, and the other one said that it was the Wheel, a trading place. Cor realized that this was one possibility for him, to become this together-him and hunt in the roots, though he never stays. Cor got the impression that he was eternal, lonely, alone. His vision of collecting May's threads to return to the roots was of a Cor along the path towards this hunter. Though still, he was told that the best way to serve the Creators is to return to the roots, not become the hunter. Cor asked for guidance about the visitors, especially Mur and other May (though he forgot to ask about Yallow, which I'm curious about). The hunter-Cor said that Mur was not entirely self-serving, like others were. There didn't seem to be much about the other May. Hunter-Cor said that one needs to hold one's self together, and keep being an individual, too.

May finished with scanning. She said that this time she'd gone to Bionlear's Skull. She'd hid, and unwrapped the thing she was to give to Gaukelarams, which she didn't do before (which is the first I'm hearing about it, in anycase). She said it was a silvery thing, that might've had liquid inside. She took it to Gaukelarams, and told him she wasn't really there in the roots, and asked what it was. Gaukelarams cast a spell, which went around the room. He took May's hands, and she could feel a presence, sort of like the Mother, and they reached into each other, as if they were the same person, then separate again. He said that some people at home think of the Mother and the Hidden Lord as sisters, working together (which makes sense here, anyway). Gaukelarams hadn't been surprised, since he'd read about people going beyond (or something), and had notes in a book about others coming back (though it sounded like it took a while to find, in the usual way of that tricksy information). He said that the silver thing was part of the weapon in the shrine under the Featureless Plains, which was being made there, but was to be used against the All here. Somehow a person would become imbued with the weapon. He said that May had to prepare the weapon in this place, and reminded her to focus on how she knows who she is.

1827 said that our later message had been received, and the Edge Hammers will be here tomorrow at the beginning of yellow. We didn't need him further, so he left.

We discussed how May remembered both versions of events, and if this changed the roots, or the pancakes in the stack.

There was a knock on the door, and Voom wan ven Vere was there with a few others of the temple, who seemed to be from the scanning room, wearing many tools. We had to use their translators since 1827 had gone. She said that they had made many interesting discoveries based on our scans, and this had helped mapping the roots, for which they were very appreciative. They had gotten close to actualization on some of us, and wanted to get actualization for the whole group. Jack pointed out that we're becoming unstuck. Voom wan ven Vere said that we were doing interesting things, which meant learning more than they'd expected. Jack tried to turn this into higher pay, especially since we're now losing threads more quickly. Voom wan ven Vere said we were valuable because we were from a non root-faring root, and had a variety of forms. Jack confirmed that this information would be used to help the roots, not piracy. Jack offered to be scanned overnight, since we planned to go to the Edge Hammers in the morning, and once we'd left, the temple would be much less interested in our information, the new shiny going away at that point. They said that Jack and Thymelixsen were the most useful to be scanned more, since the rest of us had enough actualization. Thymelixsen said that he was going to talk with himself for a bit first, and would then come back for scanning, since it was so incapacitating (that he didn't want to scan first).

Before they took Jack to be scanned, we tried to give him as many options as possible for staying healthy, including bringing tubers and dried fungus, and reminding him he could have me brought down if he needed more healing.
While Jack and Thymelixsen argued about what we should do next, Cor and I went to the temple. I spent time praying, working on my Blessings, and praying some more. When we came back, May had gone to be scanned, and Jack said he was going to his temple, and mentioned that the ones who came said that they'd like someone else to be scanned (which means me, I suppose, since Jack and thymelixsen will be gone, and Cor shouldn't deal with those stressors again given how he still needs time in the blue bands). Thymelixsen went off to do more scanning work.

Which left Cor and me alone in the room. We had sex, then I wrote for a while; it's been a stressful night, living through Orashura's death again. I was surprised no one came to get me for the scanner. So I went to the library to see if any of the book I could read had information on stabilization, copying out as much as I could find for later, once we've gone.

I was notified when May returned, so went back to the room. She was particularly weakened because she'd gone to talk to Gaukelarems, and found out more about the temple of the Mother under the Featureless Plains, rather than staying in memories only.
I was lying on my back hearing sounds of battle all around. My eyes fluttered, and I took a moment to adjust, as if my vision were coming clear. Directly above me was a huge beast with its belly over me, birdlike legs around me, and it was chomping on something. I remembered that it was the creature my former me generated from herself (myself?), Meenakeekath. All around, there were struggles of combat. On either side of me were two blades, that were obviously mine. My guess is that I was knocked on my back, and Meenatkeekath may have knocked me over to protect me. Former me, that is. There were a lot of animal noises, like bears or lions or other kinds of beasts battling, even though I could see mostly Kafke and some human forms. And I heard my name being shouted. It was Orashura, calling desperately. I could see that the figures Meenakekath had been fighting dropped, and it was a figure that was kafke but fused with a bear, so it seemed that we were fighting spiritualists who'd fused spirits with animals. I could see the orange and black livery of my army around me, and I knew it was mine; I was the general.

I shouted back to Orashura, hear calling back, but can't hear her words. It seemed to be an area that used to be forested, though now trampled by the battle. I decided to sit up (I couldn't stand and stay under Meenakekath, which was by far the best option). I wanted to move towards Orashura, with Meenakekath to move with me for protection. I tried to think at her, knowing she's of my blood, to tell her what I wanted. There was a pulse that came back at me, and was repulsed, then Meenakekath shriek in pain. She may be of my former-self's blood, but she's not exactly of mine, not in the same way, being a creature of savage war. Touching her likely wouldn't be a good idea either. So I shouted to Meenakekath, saying "Menakekath, moving to Orashura". And Meenakekath lifted herself up, turned, and headed off in a direction. I followed, keeping undernearth, crossing over bodies, mine and theirs.

I could see flying shapes dropping beings down below. When I saw this, a weird thing happened in my heart, with a rush of pleasure, and it's weird, but seems familiar.

On my right as we advanced, one of my soldiers put a hand on Meenakeekath, peering down as if to say something, then paused, not seeing who he'd expected. I told him that I was moving towards Orashura, trying to project calm authority, despite my lack of right-self. He seemed confused, then backed off. The rest of my forces were turning in the same direction as Meenakethath, starting to spearhead out. I hadn't heard her for a few moments, so I called to her. Meenakekath hit the line of battle, and I could feel the magic of savage war, with many warriors' blood seeping across their skin, but not bleeding, making them more invigorated.

In my mind, it didn't go this way. I remembered being knocked off, Meenakekath coming on top of me, then recovering, getting back on, and heading off. But I also remembered me, the now-me, here, as now, and neither option seemed more real than the other; both are true.

The line broke, I moved forward, and my heart tightened because I remembered what's already happened. Everything is real. It wasn't exactly the same, with different people here at this point, but still, the same enough.

Meenakekath surged forward, I went forward, and Orashura's here, grievously injured, all over, but not bleeding out from her wounds, which seem to be dry cuts. She recognized me, the me who is here, saying that I was back. I said yes, but I didn't know how. I asked if she was all right (it was clear she wasn't but what else to ask?), and she said that she'd burned all her blood. Which is when I remembered that we could use the blood to let loose, one's own or of others, to burn it, to use in battle, or even to heal. But she'd used all of that, and all of her blood was gone.

I thought about using my healing blessing on her, but I remembered that she died. I went on to finish the battle, to win. I had achieved my victory battle, but lost my love. I'd taken my final name from this battle, coming from her death, right now. But I also remembered that I came here as healer-me, and saved her. But that meant remembering forward, which is unusual, when not having visions, which this doesn't feel quite the same as, even though there's a similar sense of doing. If I healed her, then likely I wouldn't go into the woods, and wouldn't become the current-me, so wouldn't be with the rest of us in Wanderhold. But it is who I am now, to heal people. I didn't know what to do, with the paradox loops and odd memories.

So I thought to the Healer, asking for help. And then everything seemed to go still, as if into shadow, so only outlines of what was once there were visible. Which is not the usual battlefield way, naturally. The only thing that still had color was a lean, nude woman crouching down near me, with long beautiful hair and large turquoise eyes. She was smiling.

We exchanged greetings, and I asked who she was. She said that since I'd reached out for help, she figured she'd help. And how would she help? She said I was confused, and since we're friends or will be friends, she figured we could talk, and figure things out. And since she liked me or will like me, she wanted me to survive, and wanted to help. And I realized from how she talked that this was Murr. I said I understood, and she smiled. Still, I was confused about my options. She said that there's lots of options, and some usually happen, and some usually don't. But they all happen. Though it might matter to me which one happened now. When she comes up, she can only be in a particular way for that particular time, but then she loses tune with that time, which is why she meanders so.

She told me she'd like me to succeed, but given how we'd talked about her possible motives, I asked in which way she'd like me to succeed. She thinks that she's found the line that leads to her being sure, which I think is our line. I asked about loops, like the conundrum in which I'd found myself, and she said it doesn't really matter. I could make a choice that makes me a slightly different me. as a consequence of my choice. She said that I couldn't make a choice that would make me not be, just a choice that would make me different, somewhere else. and she asked about remembering what happened the first time, which I did, and then she asked if I remember this current time, and I thought, and now I did, with a sense of deja vu, this third layer of memory. I said I was concerned that I make it back to the group I left, and she said I need to follow the path that leads back to them. She asked my goal, and I said it was to get back to those in the party, get to the edge, and then I went vague, not sure what she wanted once we get there, but not wanting it too clear, in case she wanted something else.

She said she knew why she likes me. I asked why, and she said that I have a thread that is near hers through many many times, spiraling near her, and she liked that. So as much as she can, she tries to keep me from spiraling away. She used to think she'd lost me, but she could back up to a place where that didn't happen, or won't happen, or doesn't happen much. And she remembered me getting to understand. She hoped that the friend that is her in our party makes it right this time. I hope so too.

I tried thinking of the different paths, to see which seemed right. She laughed, says it wasn't in there, in the head. I looked, and everything still seemed prismatic. She said, no not that way; just let it go, let everything go, and let it happen. T made me think of rainbows taking over, which I was leery of, and possibly too nervous about, but it could be a trick. I asked her how I could do one or the other if I let it all go. She said that it was like when she's lost a word, and later it jumps up out of her memory. She suggested I just let it be, and whatever should happen will jump to my mouth, as it were. And she smiled.

She said that I was trying to find a path, a particular path I wanted. She could help, but I was going to need to learn. And I said I wanted to learn, asking where we were now. She described it as shadows, just below, but it was not Jack's shadow realm, which she said was a pool, as the Allwood and the Allstone are pools too, not large ones, though they seem large to me. This was the shadows just below, and we couldn't be too much farther below or we couldn't see what was happening.

I asked if she remembered her first time, and she did - it was complicated, and she got help.

She said that she wanted to see Thymelisen, and there's not a long time for that to happen, for him to see this her. She can't always be where she wants to be. She sent Yallow, but he doesn't always follow orders, and she warned that Thymelixsen might not be able to handle Yallow, not knowing enough about him, and asked me to pass on the message, which I agreed to do.

She got closer, and told me that what I needed to do was not think hard about the different paths, because the noisy paths will be loud, but if I didn't think about it, what I needed to do would become clear. If I changed something substantially, I wouldn't go back to where i came from.

I asked her if she knew why I always seem to come back to this, while the others swap with other selves, not previous selves. And she said that it was because it rings so hard, that I let it draw me back. It's part of my design, to forget, but this still troubled me. Death also cleans, but she said that's not the way of your people. Which startled me. "Ever?" She said she saw no sign of it in my design. (Which is also interesting, because, at least in the me that I'm current with, it's part of her design too, but that him has changed to her and human, so who knows.)

She looked around, and told me that I had to pay attention; voices carry down here. There are those who could come and eat me up: others who can come here, and things that live here, strange, machine-like things, that might be coming to clean us up, since we're not supposed to be here. Or that's how she thinks of it.

I tried to tell her how hard it was to clear my mind: 'it's very hard not to think of pink dolo'. She told me to clear my mind, and just remember which way took me home. I tried to relax and think about being home, then try relaxing again, not fantasizing of being home. Then there was a teasing sense of being home. She touched my shoulder, telling me I was getting it.

And then color and sound and presence surged back. And I have to let her die, to get back home. And I'm holding her, wishing I could say the right things, but knowing that I'd likely just say something wrong, which I don't want at all. "Oh, my dear" was all I could manage, holding her tightly, looking straight into her eyes. I didn't want to say anything that would be too much not like her Quechian, I just wanted to hold her and look at her. And she looked at me. And I saw when she died, and her spirit leaked out. And she's gone.


And then I was back in Wanderhold, all tied up, and very very sad.

Apparently former-me showed up in battle form, desperate to get back to the battle, and there had been blood all over, but all that went back with her. She went back too late, and that grieved me. (Though I also noticed that I hadn't moved as far in the room as I had in the battle, unlike when others have moved in space in other layers.)

Two people came into the room. One had a rod, and one had a footed staff. May told them that the possibility had gone away. They came over and did some test, to see if things had stabilized or there was a permanent tear. They checked all around, pointing the rod at me, then Thymelixsen, then the others. The other one touched the post. They said there was no permanent damage, but did suggest working on stabilizing. He said that Thymelixsen and I were more likely to fall out, and would have a harder time staying local. They left the post in the room to help stabilize things, and told us that most buildings have shelters, if we felt like we needed more stability (the shelters we'd gone to during the possibility storm). He said that if the post stopped making the lights it was making, we should let someone know. And then they left.

I saw that Cor was out of the blue bands, and asked about him getting back in. He did it himself, by thinking about it.

I told the others about the battle, and how Murr had come, and the message for Thymelixsen about meeting and about Yallow. Thymelixsen said that Murr wants to help us get to the edge. Cor was more leery of her, saying that anyone who comes for just one of us we should be particularly careful of. He's not convinced that she has our best interest at heart, particularly, other than what she wants. I told him she seemed quite helpful this time, but he's not impressed.

We went back to sleep, with Cor on watch, and in the morning, had breakfast and noticed when more gulwarn appeared. The entity specialist arrived when it was still blue, and Cor found out that he'd likely be back to himself sufficiently if he sleeps in the blue bands for one more night, or he might get back after four days without the bands. Cor would much rather use the bands one more night and be sure, and I agreed. Thymelixsen thought that we should get moving, going to the Edge Hammers for evaluation, then on to the Ults. But Jack still has more he wants to learn at his temple, Cor and I want to go back to our temple, Thymelixsen wants to learn more. And we can't stay at the temple after the Edge Hammers have examined us.

There started to be a big conversation between Jack and Thymelixsen about whether we should stay another night (especially since we'd sent a message saying we'd be ready to go to the Edge Hammers today, and didn't want to seem too rude by changing our minds to add a day), and I realized they could go round and round about it for ages, so I suggested to Cor that we go to the temple, since it would only take transit time there and back, and at least we'd get something useful done. So we did.
I wanted Cor to stay in the blue bands as long as possible, and decided that keeping him from being bored would be the best approach. So we worked on his Kraymerrian reading. Oh, and healed May up from her scanning session.

Jack showed up, feeling much better; he'd gone to his temple and talked with a counselor there. And he was told we shouldn't talk about the bionlear, lest others try to manipulate us to get at the bionlear. And we should just hide when in the non: there's nothing there, it's the end (though it's unclear how localized an end, whether the city, the spiral wood, or the whole plane).

Thymelixsen said that he can now sense approximate levels of rainbow taint (not surprisingly, he and I remain the most tainted). He also had information about translators. Cavenants can be of varying quality, depending on their breeding and their health, with a reasonable quality cavenant being about 200 or 300 gulwarn. Inyus tranlsators are tuned to a particular person, while Ult translators can be passed among people (depending on prices, it sounds like we all think it's a good idea to have individual translators, so perhaps the Inyus ones will be sufficient). He also told us that we should have guides now when out in the city, because the kathel attention on us has waned enough for us to be at risk, and the city is dangerous. He is running a bit low on metal stars, and there aren't any blacksmiths in the city, though there are possibility engineers. He'd much rather find a blacksmith outside the city than rely on possibility-engineered stars.

We were getting ready for bed, and Thymelixsen suggested keeping watch. I thought we were reasonably safe here at the temple, but he and Jack pointed out that if someone switched with another self, it would be good to know. And Jack said that really, that requires two watching, since one of those awake might be the one to change.

In the end, May and Jack stayed up, Cor perhaps also, while Thymelixsen and I slept.
I went to be scanned again, a bit nervous after my previous experience and having heard that of the others. It seemed that they'd managed to use the supporting details of the other scannings to escalate my process, however (though I have no idea quite how, if these are based on distinct memories).

Into the scanning room again, up, and spinning, and then I was in. I could see lines of structure, and the taste of the air was like that of the temple in Elixpor, the city and temple together. It seemed to grow out of nothing, then filled in, and I realized I was leaning on a surface. I remembered standing here in the temple, near the library, which had high windows above the long roots of the library area. There was a crescent table with maps, and my hand was near a map of the Kraymerrian Empire that was and where the Tenerian kingdom is. I remembered that this was in my month of rigorous practice in the temple, once I'd decided I'd go help the humans hurt in the war. It almost felt like someone was whispering details to me as they filled in, as I thought about what I'd done then. I relaxed and let the details fill in: Elix moving about the library, particular people, including the details of their clothing, and so on. I was looking at the map, and spent much time looking at maps, studying languages, and studying human culture. There were scrolls about the recent war, news dispatches rather than considered history. And the details helped me remember, then pass through.

And then I was out, spinning above the ground, physically aching and with a sense of loss, missing the sense of home.

I went in again, and the voice said something about actualization, but I didn't catch what. Then I was fully in, and I could hear voices, and feel the touch from passing people as they greeted me. I was full of intent, excited for having chosen my path. I was falling into it, into the mind I'd had then, not now. It wasn't exact; as I read about the war, little memories of me-the-warrior flickered by, different than the bits already seen, but of a piece with them. I tried to stay in the then as much as possible as I read, though I couldn't help but wonder if the the flecks of memory were being enhanced, tying them tighter as they fluttered by, seeing into the scene, even though the then me was trying not to look at them. I tried breathing, meditating, to keep focus on what was actually there, not the other flakes, until the other dots faded back.

I came out, and actualization had been achieved. I hurt, but not so much that I couldn't go in again.

This time, Tutalintelin, a Blessed Holy Warrior of the Defender was there, silvery blue with almond-colored eyes.. He came over, tapped the book, and asked if I was enjoying his writing. I flushed, aware of his looks as well as his stature and achievements, surprised to have his talking with someone as new as I. He said he'd heard I was rushing on out of here, and it was too bad, since there was a lot more to learn. I said I wanted to go out and help, then got flustered by his presence. He said that I could learn from the book, or learn from him directly, a mutual exchange of information. I was surprised that this attractive, 30-years-Blessed veteran could be interested in me, and his attention was almost debilitating. I agreed that it was a good idea to talk, and he lead me off, still holding his book, to his room on the lower level, where there were chambers between the roots and rocks. I said that if it would be more interesting, we could speak Kraymerrian, and I managed to lose the language a bit as the touch started. It was mutual, but he was rather different than other experiences, sometimes even aggressive, which is not what Elix do, but humans do.

And then I came out again. I was asked if I could continue, and I was hurting enough that I knew I should recover before going in again, so they brought me back to the room. May had already partly recovered from her session, and was already sitting up. Cor was still napping in the blue bands that were gathering him back together. May said she'd felt the other May there as well.

Thymelixsen retured about when Cor awoke. He wanted to get out of the blue bands, but I convinced him to stay until we could get someone who knew about them to check him first. We asked 1827 to find the entity who could, and 1827 brought the specialist back.

Thymelixsen wanted to go shopping, which would require leaving the temple. He asked about the safest place to buy thread, which was at the wheel (at the bottom of the city), and the second best place was at the tower of the Ults, though there the exchanges will favor the Ults, of course.

The specialist convinced Cor that he should stay in the blue bands longer, and the rest of us discussed our plans, trying to decide when to leave the temple. Right now, the plan isn't to leave until tomorrow, and to be scanned before we go to the Ults.

In the end, Thymelixsen didn't go out, heading instead to the library to find someone to learn from.
There was time to write in my journal before going to sleep. That and a good night's sleep helped a lot.

The surprise when I woke up was that May was there... reading my journal. Which is written in Elix, after all, not something she speaks, nor reads. Except that she was. Which made it clear that it wasn't the usual iteration May. I asked he about reading Elix, and she said she had known it a long time. I said that I'd rather she asked before reading, and held my hand out for it. I'm glad she didn't contest that. I did notice that it was in the part of the book about Bo's Point, when our May hadn't been along.

We talked about what she was doing here; there was a different feel than the times when people are quickly popping in and out, since she'd calmly helped herself to reading in my journal, which implied having a lot more time than usual between overlaps. I asked her what she was doing here, and she carefully replied, saying almost nothing, so I tried to be careful in giving out information myself. It felt strange, this verbal fancy footwork. She said that she'd come to check us out because of the potential of our group, something like that (again, not a random visitor). But she wouldn't say her name, nor any other details about herself. And then at some point she looked over my shoulder, and I saw our May return into her eyes. It was strange, that she'd had another May inside her.

I asked what had happened, and she said that she'd sensed some possibility energy coming, and had moved to get out of the way, which is when the other May took over. She was inside the whole time, watching the conversation. She woke herself up to return to control. Which is also strange, since I have no idea how she'd know that possibility energy would be coming, for one thing. So I asked if she'd found anything on her peregrinations last night. But all she described was going down to see the shrines in red, which looked interestingly different. Hrm.

Thymelixsen woke up, and Jack did too, but he stayed hiding under the covers. I went over to talk with him, see if I could help him regain some equanimity.

Thymelixsen and May looked at the ever-changing Arcoons on the bands holding Cor. I mentioned to Thymelixsen that May had been reading some of my journal, and he seemed surprised, and unsure I was telling the whole truth.

Cor woke up, feeling sore and hurt. I told him not to move, that the bands were helping him recover, and asked what had happened.

Cor said that his actualization was about a particular day he'd gone hunting. He went along doing the same things he'd done back then, bringing dolo back to town, but not trying to shoot the large dolo that had gotten away. There was a party in Bionlear's Skull, celebrating his hunt, and as part of that, he was brought for the first time to the acutal skull. He touched it as he had the first time. But this time, he thought about the bionlear, and thought at it "are you in there?" And suddenly he was in the bionlear's place with all the suns, which are apparently not suns at all, but roots seeds. He talked with the bionlear, and found that the Creators made them all at once, and there will be no more; the bionlear watches over them. The bionlear is the only one who is not part of the All. Cor said it was warm, but not hot, since it was during a rest time, and it wasn't like seeing the firsts: it wasn't the wrench to leave. Cor said he felt more himself, more all together. The bionlear said he'd done an interesting thing (and at some point told Cor to go back before his body died). Cor said that we're in the All, and there are lots of Alls, but this is the only one with roots. And all Alls begin and end. What matters is what happens inside, and what it ends with. So this All is the only one with Creators, who made the first world, used the trick, and made the roots. Which interested the bionlear, which is why the bionlear came to this All. No other All had roots or cracks like this. Cor asked if the roots existing and growing were good or bad in the bionlear's view, and the bionlear said that he can't die, in the roots, in the All, or outside the All. It doesn't matter to him, but because it's interesting, he wants to see what happens (though if it all happens at once, wouldn't he already know?), and that's why he's guarding the seeds. The bionlear said that Cor was in all places at once, and when he is at the edge, he will understand. And that's what being at the edge means. All Creators want the roots to grow, and we were created to want that too. But at the edge, there is place for us on both sides. Cor said that he planned to go from the edge back to the roots, since it is good for the roots. The bionlear wasn't sure, but he might make it. The bionlear also said that if there was too much All in the roots, it isn't good, but some All in the roots is actually good, because it makes things different from the rest of the All (which seems strange, given how it's about being All itself). So people blowing up over-All'd roots might be alright, and keeping out all the All might not be. But in the end, we have to do the things we think are good and the Creators suggest as likely best for the roots, working for balance. Cor said that he thinks the bionlear would like to see something interesting.

He didn't ask about the baby bionlear; someone thought that they might have happened because the bionlear was trapped there. And when the bionlear is in the roots, it forgets things. When Cor saw the bionlear this time, it was more itself.

Cor said that the bionlear said that how much is in an All when it ends matters. It's possible the bionlear was guarding the roots in the time before they grew, but they have already grown, so it's moot.

I asked 1827 to bring someone to check on Cor, since he seemed reasonably fine as he told us what had happened. 1827 brought a pink snake-headed being back. Cor apologized to it for breaking the scanning; he hadn't intended to do that. It said that it was fok, because it was informative and useful. Cor asked if it knew what he'd seen, but it only knew that Cor had dissociated, not information about the bionlear. It suggested that Cor not do that again. It said it was most unusual that this had happened.

I asked how this memory had been chosen for actualization, and it said that we do it, somehow.

It checked Cor, and said that he was only 30% reconnected, and he must stay until at least 70% connected, if not more. He said that there were other places in the city it would be possible that the process could go faster, with teams of entity specialists, rather than just itself, but Cor asked how long it would take, and it sounds like, with luck, today will be sufficient.

Thymelixsen asked about going with scanning teams, and it told him that they were assembling now, and he should go down if he wished to join them. He took 1827 with him, and a fetish he'd made during blue.

I asked about the actualization process, and it said that it gets even harder later. General actualization is at phase 7, and full actualization is at phase 10. This was not comforting. I did remember to ask about whether it would be acceptable to use my Blessings here, since at home it would not have been at all appropriate, and I was surprised to hear that it would be fine. That makes things much easier for us.

Jack was feeling better, but was not ready for the rigors of scanning, and certainly Cor couldn't be scanned. Thymelixsen had gone to work. May said she was willing to be scanned, and I said I was too, though it's a bit nerve-wracking. Cor told me to just go with whatever I'd done before, and it should be fine.

Right now, I'm hoping that by the time the scanning is over and I take time to recover from it, Cor will be reassociated enough to be able to go to the temple with me. Best laid plans...
I finally got Jack to rest easily, and the rest of us started talking about the plan. In the end, it sounds like another day and a half at the temple (so leaving here the second blue from now), getting scanned by the Warhammers, then going to the largest Ult group to travel with them.

We asked 1827 to find out about further scanning by the temple, who would be needed again, when Thymelixsen would be scanned, things like. Voomwan venVere came back with 1827. It turns out that it takes time for them to process once they learn from us, especially once actualization has been done. May asked if she was done now, since she'd gotten to actualization, and Voomwan said no, that was just the beginning of the process. Also, there would be another scanning session for two of us today. They use the information for analyzing sections of the roots, mapping that root section, for a while anyway, since they grow and change over time.

Thymelixsen asked about the things he'd sent for sale, and Voomwan said that he would be paid in blue if they sold. He asked whether anyone was available for teaching frame tightening, and she said that he could check on the learning level.

We also confirmed that if we are in the temple, even if not in our room, they can find us when they want us for scanning.

After she left, Thymelixsen went to the learning leve. May wanted to nap, and Jack was out, so I figured it would be ok to leave him, since May was there. So Cor and I went to the library. He wanted to research possibility storms and shelters. I had thought about the things I could learn from the Elixen books there, and realized that since there wasn't likely to be enough time to learn anything completely, it was worth continuing on something I'd already been working towards, veil tuning. I had time to work on this, but Cor was brought back in for more scanning not long after we'd gotten to the library.

I went back to the room once I'd worked enough on veil tuning. When I got there, Thymelixsen and Jack were sleeping, and May was tumbling around. I asked her if she'd have time to work on resisting layered magic with me once she was done.

Cor was brought back to the room with blue bands that had Arcoons on them around his body. He didn't seem able to hear me, and was warm to the touch. It seemed his senses were far gone. 1827 said that Cor would need to stay in the bands until morning. I asked what was wrong, and if there was anything I could do to help. I was told that the bands were there to help reassociate Cor's spiritual and physical presence. He needs rest, to allow the Visic connectivity that was damaged to heal. They will evaluate him tomorrow to see whether he can continue. I was to tend and feed him, but keep the bands on unless absolutely necessary to loosen them. They showed me how to do that, but with another warning not to if possible. Again I asked whether touch would help, or sathurum, but they did not know, reiterating that his Visic connectivity needed to be reestablished.

By this time, Thymelixsen had woken up and was feeling better. I asked hi how his scanning went. He said he'd learned a lot, but they didn't seem happy with him trying to see what was going on, using sense magic. They shocked him with sticks, and stopped the scanning then.

Thymelixsen asked 1827 about buying things in town, whether someone could buy things for him or he would need to go. 1827 asked if he had arranged for someone to do that, and when Thymelixsen said no, said that that would be something to do tomorrow, then.

I told Thymelixsen about how Cor's Visic connection was damaged, to the extent that I understood. He wasn't up for checking that out just yet, and went back to sleep.

May bandaged Cor, then went out exploring.
The journals in the temple library that were written in Elix were in three categories. There were basic travel-ish journals, and ones that had a lot of information about classical magic (both of which I didn't investigate further, though I want to tell Thymelixsen about the classical magic ones), and ones that focused on other information and resources. In that last group, across a number of journals, there were topics that were addressed at a beginner level. The topics with the best beginner level information were thread extraction, thread craft, thread stabilization, thread fortification, veil tuning, Arcoons, reading Ult, and beyond veil anthropology. There was moderate beginner level information on personal class root craft navigation and beyond veil geography. And there was some information, though mostly slanted towards more advanced levels, on knowledge systems navigation (what Cor was working on), personal class root craft maintenance, dart class root craft weapon systems, dart class root craft defense systems, and possibility stabilization (which would help us stay in place rather than slipping between layers).

Of these, I'm know I'm not interested in the root craft information (there just won't be time), nor most of the thread weaving skills, though thread stabilization and fortification seem more likely than the others. Veil tuning would be useful, also reading Ult or Arcoons, and anthropology could be useful as well, though perhaps less immediately than geography. (I could be wrong on that.)

While I was researching what was in the journals, Cor was learning about the knowledge system used in the library, and it looks quite interesting, working with one's thoughts, rather than requiring reading and writing.

It was all interesting, but I thought we should check back to see whether anyone was back in the room yet. As we headed up, something changed, with a yellow light showing at some edges, rather like the blue light Thymelixsen had turned on in our room. There were many people now, all heading down. I wasn't sure what it was: time for prayer, maybe? Though that seemed unlikely. In any case, we were close to the room, so we went up there first, and 1827 was there with May and Jack, who were both recovering from having been studied. Cor asked 1827 what the lights were about, and 1827 said that there was a possibility storm coming. Cor asked whether we should go down, as the others seemed to be doing, and 1827 said that individuals who can't manage to withstand the possibilities should go down and be sheltered.

Cor grabbed May and Jack, and we went down, continuing to ask 1827 about possibility storms. There apparently are shelters that are specifically for possibility storms. I asked 1827 about Thymelixsen, and 1827 said he could be located after we got to shelter. Before we went in, I noticed publick tracks outside, waiting, while other people were heading to specifically marked doorways; now we know what the symbol for that kind of shelter is. About two thirds of people were going into the shelters, while another third were not.

We went down about six or seven feet into an earthy 'dirt' room, thought the dirt was that stuff that was not-really-dirt in the spiral wood. There were some floating lights, so it wasn't dark. I touched a wall, and the dirt felt much more full and alive with presence than in the spiral wood outside the city; this was alive.

There was a moment when the floor seemed to fall a bit, with use having a sense of falling. And then immediately after, there was no one else here, and the air was filled with ash. There was a hole in the ceiling that let light shine through, so there was obviously no building above as before. Cor looked up, and it was all swirling gray ash, like the ghostlands. There was a sound of howling wind, and distant crashing rumbles. There was debris by the stairs. The air felt heavy, being dust filled and smoky, and there seemed to be chunks of buildings above, nothing of Wanderhold as it had been.

It was clear that we shouldn't leave where we were if we wanted to slip back to Wanderhold unharmed, and if it was ghostlands above (how could that be?), we had no way of dealing with anything that might find us, anyway. Still, we'd not all moved like this before, so perhaps we were supposed to do something to get ourselves back. Cor could see nothing much above us, so I tried reaching out in my mind, and was appalled to find that there was no sense of the Father; I was utterly disconnected, with nothing having the tingle of the Father. Horrible. May touched the ground, and said that there was no Mother here, nor any of the other Creators. Magic did not work, either. Nothing here, and nothing to do, other than listen to the sounds like large things moving around outside.

I had a sense of something scrabbling ner the hole; I watched it intently, though the others watched the stairs. Which is why I did not see what the others saw at first: a bony bent over figure, a burnt, tattered ghost of a kathel.

Jack started rolling completely silently, trying to wriggle his way to some corner or another. He was still too tired from the examination to move properly, though.

It clattered as if on metal as it came down the stairs. But it seemed to walk on in midair, as if on a crystal barrier that kept it out. Everything shook, and I finally looked over. Horrible.

But it couldn't get us just yet. Cor sat down, and suggested we try to think our way back. We did (well, except Jack, who kept writhing). But there was a shake that passed through my body as the ghost kathel hit the barrier again. We continued hearing large sounds outside. It could be kathel, which we'd never seen on the ground before, or perhaps the bionlear (though that seemed unlikely, in the ghostlands), or somehitng much worse. I kept trying to think about the shelter we'd come from, in the state in which we'd left it. May started singing some song.

Cor looked through the rubble for small spaces we could retreat to, just in case. He picked up one of the pebbles and threw it through the hole: there must be a hole in the crystal barrier there, too. Cor suggested we hide in the back, in the rubble. Once we moved back there, out of view of the hole, things were quieter. Then there was a sense of something walking on me, then stepping off. It happened
a second time, and this time Cor felt it too.

Cor tried to use the light in some way, but it was insubstantial, and not useful. Jack seemed quite strange by now, and May started petting him, trying to soothe him. Cor continued back into the dark, and I kept thinking about 1827.

I was keeping an eye out behind us while Cor went ahead, so I saw some dust coming down from the hole. I told Cor, and he said to put the Ovahon in the space above he'd found. I did, and climbed up as well.

He watched as a limb reached in, feeling around, then tried to pull some rock off, to enlarge the hole. Cor hacked at the arm. It took far longer than I would have expected for him to damage it, but after thwacking it some, he cut two fingers off the hand. They flew off and became embedded in the rock.

There was another sound of impact above, as if whatever-it-was had jumped.

May pulled out a thread. It glowed.

Cor got the two claws out of the roof, and they spun around as the ghost above walked around outside.

I watched May, and after some moments of thinking, she looked different. She asked what we're doing. I told her (not-our-her, I assumed) we were fighting a ghost kathel. In the ghostlands? Yes, but Wanderhold seems to be in the ghostlands. She asked if we were in a non, and I was confused.

She slid out of the hiding space, moving fast, and went to Cor. She asked if it was the first time, and how long we'd been here. When he told her, she said that it shouldn't be much longer until we returned, that we should just hold out a bit longer, and put her thread back in. She said that we would be here again. Something's happened, something's changed, and we'd be back.

And then our May was back. She asked if she'd gotten it (with her thread), and Cor told her yes.

And then I fell out of the air, falling hard. We were back in the shelter in proper Wanderhold, and there were many people around, some wounded, some dead. Cor and I tried to help healing the wounded, the ones that we could figure out what to do with, anyway. Everyone was shaken. It seemed like people who couldn't resist were all affected.

1827 was here. We asked questions as we worked. 1827 said that the non is after everything, not in the ghostlands. It is the ramains of here. Cor asked if all who were affected went to the non. 1827 said that a possibility storm of that size takes people to different nons. If it had been a smaller storm, it would not have taken people to a non. And apparently it could be that if we go to a non again, we might cause the hole we found this time. I asked how frequent storms were, and why, and 1827 said that they were infrequent, but came more often if the war were going badly, or if there were more edgewalkers about. The war was currently rather stable, so I assume this storm had something to do with edgewalkers... Cor asked if there were anywhere to hid out in the spiral woods, and 1827 said no. And that the storm hits the spiral woods all at once.

As we worked, Jack kept hiding. Cor grabbed him, but when we went to go to the stairs, Jack didn't want to go. He seemed trapped in his mind back in the non, somehow.

Thymelixsen showed up, and we talked briefly. He persuaded Jack to leave if he were carried by Cor, and all covered up.

We went back to our room. I tried to calm Jack by massaging him, but that seemed to have no effect. I thought that giving him some booze would help relax him, as well as being something of his god, but Cor convinced me that Jack should be gotten to sleep and recovery faster, which he asserted would be fastest if I did sathurum on him, manipulating his nervous system until he slept.

While I worked on Jack, we talked. Thymelixsen sensed magic on us, telling us about the different levels of rainbow taint we have. He seems to have had a productive morning...

May said that when she was in the constructed home space during examination, she was able to move, and to eat berries, which surprised me.

Cor said that Jom can't come with the root with us, that it would bring war and strife, which is what he'd seen in his vision.

Thymelixsen said he'd learned about protections, and understanding the All, and the workings of the city.

Cor said he was also supposed to learn a blessing of death. He'd had a vision of himself, being cold, in the ghostlands. He was knocked down, and saw that May was dead. He cast a blessing, and absorbed her threads, which wasn't thread weaving, somehow, but a way to carry someone else's threads. H wasn't thinking about becoming powerful, just aht he'd at least saved her threads, that they wouldn't go to the All. But he didn't feel sad about May being dead.

We told Thyemlixsen about going to the non, and I asked him how he'd withheld the storm. Thymelixsen said he'd gone around it, that Yallow took him around it, somehow. Which made me nervous. Cor asked about how Thymelixsen paid Yallow, pointing out that employees are generally paid. When Thyemlixsen said he didn't know, Cor said it might be that Thymelixsen works for him.

I described my visions to them, the one about being kathel hunting in the ghostlands, and about learning the crystal blessing.

Cor described the vision he'd been given when he asked about taking Jom, which seemed much more clearly a no than mine did: he was a kafke on a battlefield, with many lying dead around. There were giant things moving on the field, which seemed sort of like the stone trees in Elixpor, but these stone tree things were moving and killing. He was thinking that they'd won, which was good, but at the cost of so many dead kafke that he couldn't be wholly glad. They had to kill the kathel when the kathel came.

May said that she'd reached actualization in her scanning, whatever that means.
Cor and I were at the temple. I asked the entity holding my shoulders whether He would teach me more about the purifier's Blessing, but no. So instead I practiced Blessings I already know, including His Holiness Revealed and His Mighty Shield. When I was done, I prayed again, in thanks, and for greater connection. It was time to go back down and rejoin Cor, but the entity had left, so I had to make my own way down. I went slowly, careful about the stairs down in the dark. But strangely, it wasn't difficult. After I got back down to the ground floor, there was another hand on my shoulder, this time a thin bony hand. There was pressure, as if I should stop, but it allowed me to move sideways. It kept guiding me around the circumference of the room. But I couldn't find the entrance. I put out one hand, to trace the wall, but it burned and throbbed, and I pulled it back immediately. And then there was the corridor, then a door, and another corridor, and I was out. Cor was there; he'd just left also (though I have the idea he spent less time practicing; no time in the temple can make things confusing. Or perhaps useful, if we are to see through the trick of time?). He saw that I was still holding my hand, and tried healing it, but in the end, I had to wrap it up.

We took the cab back, arriving just as yellow started. When we got to the room, no one was there, so Cor and I went to the library. We meandered around some, seeing nothing much like books, then things that looked rather like maps, though Cor wasn't as certain of this. A liveried person came over to offer help, and I said that May had found books in Kraymerrian here, and I wondered if there were any in Elix. The librarian asked if I had an example of written Elix, so I showed this journal. The librarian scanned it, and after a bit said that there were a variety of submissions in Elix, about three dozen. I asked if it were possible to get a list, and the librarian told me that twelve were journals by classical magic users, and mostly focused on their classical magic learning. Another twelve were journals that focused more on training materials about being here, such as local geography, frame tightening, thread weaving, and similar topics. The last twelve were more general journals. I looked at the list of authors (when there was an author listed), and the names were Elix, but none I recognized. I flipped through some at random, and the language seemed different, whether older, or newer, or a variant from another thread, I'm not sure. I decided to focus on the middle twelve, favoring ones with information that I am interested in (not thread weaving or frame tightening, for instance), though I definitely want to tell Thymelixsen about the classical magic books, and the ones on frame tightening.

Since Cor's reading isn't that good yet, the librarian showed him some other way to learn new things, thinking about what he was interested in, and working with the machine there. It was interesting to see.

(I wonder if there are so many more books in Elix because it is a more used language across many threads, or because Elix, being long-lived, have more chance for being tainted by the All, so there is a greater likelihood of them coming here, even though there is the option of going into the woods and forgetting (which, ironically, was the option I forgot).)
Some of the people who'd been working in the scanning room brought Cor and I back to our room, where I was surprised to see that there were now chairs. They placed us in the chairs, and left. We were both wrung out, our vision blurry, and extremely thirsty. We sat together drinking water and talking over what had happened as we started to recover. I kept patting Cor for reassurance, though I'm not exactly sure whether his or min.

Thymelixsen cam back, and I told him what the testing was like, that it hurt, rather than being some kind of easy thing. Cor and I described the spinning in the air, and the building of constructs like home, from our thoughts. And I warned him about movement, whether head, eyes, or even tail. It had gotten dark, and Thymelixsen saw a line of blue light along the wall. He touched it and thought about it getting brighter, and it did. Luckily, my eyes were recovered enough that this was not too bright.

May came back, and said she'd found three books in Kraymerrian in the library! One was titled Beyond the Veil, another Deminc Frames and Structures and Wind Beyond the Veil, and there was an untitled journal that she'd read some of. It had been written by a Woeg traveling with his sister, two Ovahon warriors, and a Deminc focus. The first date in the journal was from Lackern 17114, and it lasted about a year, which isn't all that long ago. They started in the Jondowan kingdom (though perhaps there were previous travels written in other journals), where they killed some rainbow-infected Sunk, and caught the infection from them. They raised a great spirit of That Best Forgotten (whatever sort that might be) which offered to help them if they destroyed some mirrored crystals, which they'd already had some experience with. They did, smashing the crystals that grew out of the ground. Something that looked like their ghosts came out when they were smashed. In return, the spirit told them how to get to the tower. After they came through, two were killed by the wolves. They made it through the trap, though annoyed by bugs. In the spiral woods, one was eaten. The journaller and his sister made it through to Wanderhold. They signed on to travel for the Ults, and described two journeys they took for the Ults. One involved going to a root that was unraveling, putting in poison pods that disconnected the rainbows there from the rest of the All so the root would slow its unraveling. The other was to a root similar to home. They were sent to keep an edgewalker there from influencing a town, and they convinced one of the town elders not to listen to the edgewalker (which earned them praise from the Ults). When they returned, they had more rainbow in them than before, and the Ults recommended that they go soon to the edge, suggesting a guide who was a telepathic and telekinetic horst. They left this journal in case they didn't come back.

I was exhausted, ready for sleep. Though the space was somewhat bare, it was protected, and quiet, and sleep came easily.

When I woke up, I found that there were more gulwarn etched in me, for the work yesterday. (240 from the surveying and 30 from being around on call).

Cor and I had a quick breakfast, then went to the temple of the timekeepers, telling the others we'd be back before yellow. We took a cab, to be quicker and less out in the city, as requested by the temple of magic for the time we were being studied. On the way over we talked about possibly practicing certain things there at the temple, since they would take no time at all, it would be quiet, and I could practice my Blessings there.

When we arrived, we went in, but did not go to touch the altar as we had before. Cor stepped away, and I focused as he'd described, on where I should be to pray to the Father; all the stone in here felt cool, rather than live. The thread back to the Father is so thin here. It was hard to find my way back. I focused on his symbol, and on white and silver, and the feelings of comfor and a sense of coming home. After a while, this focus led to the feeling of a hand on my shoulder. It, too, felt cool rather than warm, though still reassuring. I went where the hand led, despite the lack of warmth. The hand led me upward. It felt like I was walking up curving stone stairs in the dark, except that I never missed my footing or was unsure at all. As I got higher, there was light coming in through the icy walls. I went into the area at the top, toward the center, which was away from the light, but still not wholly dark as below. I had the impression of a large armored figure, though there were none of the sounds one might expect from that amount of armor. The place had what felt like a slow heartbeat, a pulsing out from the conical structure at the center. I got the idea that there might be multiple entrances around the periphery, as well.

I thought about my first question, of what Blessing to learn next. I saw images in front of me, and the hand kept holding my shoulder, as I felt like I was falling into a void. A second hand rested on my other shoulder, holding me back from that void. There was a sense of a vortex, and threads tumbling out. And then there was a vision. I was in some gray dustiness, with the wind blowing strongly, causing a dust storm. I raised my large mailed hand (patently not my own-self's), pointing up, and shouting something, though I (own-self) didn't know what. Some shapes lurched ouf the the dust storm. They were semi-transparent creatures with spider-like legs and glowing spots, plus some pinpricks of rainbow light. I saw my companions bracing weapons on my left, but on my right, two companions were already pinned by one of the spider things, and one was pierced through. I did something, and crystal came up and around that spider, encasing it, holding it there, though still pinning my companions. I worked on getting my companion out, by touching the crystal to move it aside, getting him out, then healing him with a Blessing that felt quite familiar.

I came out of that vision, and felt less like falling.

My second questions was about Jom coming to the root, and whether that was against the Creators' design, if he gave up his mortality. Again, I was granted a vision. This time, I was on a rise, looking out over a landscape veiled in fog, though there were some rocky spires visible in the distance. It went off to nothing/everything, this last place before the ghostlands. I looked at my companions, and were were all kathel. They were mostly young. Lurching shriveled humanoid shapes came out of the mist, occasionally bulging somewhere on their bodies, then releasing smoke. I waited, then went quickquickquick. This was not my first time doing this, though it was the first time for some of the others. There were dozens of these entities. I'd seen them going in, and knew theyd be back. And then I was on one, splitting it apart. I breathed in the dustiness that released for a moment, then continued to others. (Some of the others seemed to be waiting for thread to be released, but of course they wouldn't be, not from ghosts). It was fun, but not as much fun as it used to be, even, perhaps, bothersome. Some would say that it was because I was getting old. I got through, satisfied by how many bodies I'd left behind.

I came out of that vision, and it felt momentarily like the kathel I had been in the vision came back to my own-self, remembered me, then departed, leaving me behind, back in my body. There were still two hands on my shoulders. But I was aware that a kathel had seen me, had looked into me. It was hard to settle into myself, after being a kathel and perfect.
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