Varanim Varanim rarely did important work inside. After greeting the dawn as usual, with a hard slug of cheap wine and an hour of kata practice, she sat down cross-legged on the terrace she had co-opted for her exercise and contemplated her arm. Blowing a bead of sweat from her lip, she sent her will inward.
Pramana It is but a moment before Varanim finds herself sitting in the jewel's terrace, where she is greeted by a Professor Emeritus Jardis Humboldt who looks rather as if he'd been run over by a herd of angry yeddim.
Varanim takes a moment to ponder what a nice look that is for him, then says, "When I was taking the grand tour, you lot forgot to mention the doom in the basement,"
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold wipes phantom sweat off of his brow with a shaky hand and says, a little quietly (for him) "...It forgot to mention itself to us, too."
Varanim shoots him a quick, sharp glance--maybe compassionate, or at least rancor-free--and then cracks her knuckles. "Any sign of it since it first surfaced, or do I need to go digging?"
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold "It barrels through every once in a while. Not enough to predict," he says, with a bit of worry, "but enough that everyone has taken to hiding in their own individual facets. Normally I'd be glad for the lack of company, of course, but...." he trails off.
Varanim "Pretty timid for a bunch of already dead people. Tell me what you've seen," Varanim says, examining the quasi-architecture of the terrace for a good vantage point.
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold "It's like a cloud of black robes and dark Essence spinning around a turbulent core. About nine feet tall," he adds after a moment.
Varanim "Anything new to say?" Varanim asks, as she scales a pillar and balances on the suggestion of an arch to scan the murky scenery for suspicious Essence. "Halloo out there!" she calls. "I want to hear more about the doom thing!"
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold From somewhere in the far, far distance, Varanim hears the faintest beginnings of the deep voice: DOOM. DESTRUCTION. THE END OF ALL THINGS IS COMING. ALL WILL BE DEVOURED.
Varanim "SAYS WHO?" Varanim calls back. After a moment, she adds in a normal voice, "I think that sounded childish even for me."
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold A cold, biting wind picks up, and Jardis begins to back away a little worriedly. Leaves scatter and a cold whistling precedes the arrival of the doomsayer.
Varanim simply assumes one of her standard glaring poses as she waits--arms curled around her staff, which lies slung across her shoulders. Her lucky scarf whips in the wind.
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold It comes barrelling out at an incredible rate, just as the Professor described it: like a mass of dark energy and flapping black cloaks spinning headlong around a gravitic center, the dark voice emenating from deep inside: THE TIME IS NIGH. ALL SHALL PERISH!
Varanim "Tough talk, for a figment in a rock." Varanim is impatient as always with theater, and profoundly annoyed at the trespass. She leaps from her perch in a calculated arc, angling her body to slam into the whirling center of the mass. She figures she'll either get its attention, find out what's in the center, or something else more unfortunate but also interesting will happen.
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold The cloaks seem to pass easily to allow Varanim through, allowing the entirety of her body to fall between the strands of Essence and into the heart of the storm. (...)
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold For a moment, Varanim's head passes through the center of the strange being, where six black cloaks wrap tightly around a sphere about three feet across, and she sees what is within: five faces -- a skinny man with one eye, a young woman with a sad look, a creepy guy with a mustache, a beatific-looking bald man, and a wizened old crone -- which are ghostly, pale, and terrified; (...)
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold plus one more: a face just like Varanim's, but darker somehow, and cut by cruel shadows -- upon which is etched a terrifying, evil grin.
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold The inside of that core is incredibly cold, and Varanim can feel tiny ice crystals form on her hair and eyelashes... then, a moment later, she's passed through it, and the mass barrels on past her and out the other side of the terrace.
Varanim only just remembers to tuck and roll as she hits the ground, blinking frost from her eyes as she continues the roll to her feet. "Oh, the hell you say," she says as she turns to look in the direction the apparition passed. "I do NOT have an evil twin."
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold "A what?," the Professor says, his fear transformed back into irritation now that the spectral spook has disappeared once again from his immediate vision.
Varanim "Six cloaks, six faces on the sphere inside. One of them was mine--" she raises her voice to shout "very poorly rendered" in the direction of the departed spook. "I didn't recognize anyone else. Is it even theoretically possible, in your recollection, for outsiders to enter this place without using the stone?"
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold "I have not encountered it. But..." he seems lost in thought for a moment. "You've only ever visited the Terrace, but that is not the entirety of the stone, of course. There are the Dormitories, where we dwell when we are not conversing, and below those, the Catacombs... I'm..." -- he looks unhappy to even have to admit this -- "...I'm not actually sure why those are there." (...)
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold "But there have been members who have emerged after long slumbers of years or decades. Something could have slept in the depths of the stone for longer than any of our tenures and we might never have known."
Varanim "We have catacombs and you didn't mention it to me? To ME?" Varanim boggles at his oversight, then takes a moment to see if she can just feel their location before demanding it from him.
ProfessorEmeritusJardisHumbold The whole space of the Gem starts to get kind of fuzzy once she tries to sense beyond the borders of the Terrace -- it doesn't seem like the areas beyond are quite as... sketched in as the place prepared for gem-holder-meeting purposes.
Varanim "Huh. Well, what are we waiting for? Trust me, I have great luck with catacombs."