Times and Trials

We find ourselves in a large dark cavern filled mostly by a big dark lake. There are no obvious exits or entrances, and we have no recollection of how we got here. A voice speaks in our minds, inviting us to forget our worries by stepping into the lake. Wary, we question the voice’s identity and intent. The voice introduces itself as Lethe, a large fish living in the lake. Eventually, the fish tires of asking us to join it in the water, and tentacles come out of the darkness to pull us in. A white cat comes running, and we find ourselves elsewhere.

When we come to our senses, we’re in a circular room with two doors, one labeled ‘Times’ and the other ‘Trials’. A white cat with a dark hourglass marking on its chest sits between the doors, watching us realize that we aren’t in our own bodies anymore. Fen, being in Yannic’s body, realizes she has an opportunity to message Kean as Yannic and does so before Yannic in Remi’s body can retrieve the papers.

Fearing ‘Times’ means math, we go through the ‘Trials’ door, and we’re in another circular room with five doors ahead. To the cat’s annoyance, we check behind each door before stepping through the first door, which opens into the bottom of a pit. We climb out of the pit into a grassy field and see a dinosaur running towards us, so we rush towards a door we see in the field. The cat sits next to the door, and when we pass through, we’re back in the first circular room, although in different bodies that are still not our own. To Fen’s delight, she’s in Remi’s body and once again in possession of the texting papers. She writes another message, in Remi’s hand this time, before Yannic wrests the papers away. Yannic hastily writes his own message to Kean to explain what’s going on.

This time, we choose ‘Times’, and we enter a room that has three hallways leading off into the distance. The hallways are labeled ‘Past’, ‘Present’, and ‘Future’. The doors in the Past hallway are markedly different from one another, and some of them are recognizably doors we’ve seen before. The doors in the Present hallway are similar to each other in shape but different in style. The doors in the Future hallway are the same as all the other doors we’ve seen in this strange place so far, except as one walks farther down the hall, the doors get blurrier.

Remi chooses a door he recognizes in the Past hallway – his bedroom door in the Therris estate. We step through into the hallway outside Remi’s bedroom to hear Grandma Therris crying in her bedroom. She hears us discussing what to do, and comes to ask if Remi needs anything. She doesn’t notice that anyone else is present. Fen, in Remi’s body, tells her everything’s fine, she was only looking for a glass of water. Grandma Therris reminds Remi that he can come to her if he needs anything at all, and we all go find the kitchen.

We try to figure out what to do next, and we hear some noises outside the kitchen. Remi remembers that this is the night he was first kidnapped for ransom. We stand at the ready and clobber the would be kidnapper unconscious, tie him up, and leave a fake ransom note in his pocket. During the fight, Betha tries to cast magic while inhabiting Yannic’s body, and finds the entire experience unsettling and unnerving. An outside force/consciousness takes over Yannic’s head and sight briefly to survey the room in curiosity before retreating. With the kidnapper taken care of, we look around to see the cat sitting by the door. We walk through and there we are again, in the circular room with the Times and Trials doors. We’re still not in our own bodies, but different ones now. Yannic says Kean thinks the cat is an avatar of the time god.

Intrigued by the Times door, Betha chooses the third door in the Present hallway. We enter a dining room of a nice, unfamiliar house. Fen pockets a figurine of a dragon. Someone’s humming in the kitchen nearby, and there’s a sound coming from behind a locked door. Of course, we investigate. Fen picks the lock, and we descend into a dark basement. The sound stops, we look around, and we see a large white dragonborn approaching us with suspicion. Failing to convince him that we’re harmless, we turn tail and barricade ourselves in an office. Yannic examines the bookshelves and finds a collection that seems to belong to a racist dragonborn. We escape back into the circular Times and Trials room. This time, Remi is in his own body! The rest of us are not.

Fen asks if we would help her punch her mentor, Vega. We agree, and she finds a door she recognizes as the door of the place they were staying in the forest. We go through and look for Vega, who’s left visible tracks leading into the forest. Fen remembers that Vega used to ambush her as part of her training. Betha fails to spot Vega before the elf gets the drop on Betha-in-Fen’s-body, but she does manage to punch Vega once. We retreat back to the door we came through as Vega shoots Fen a few more times with tomato-tipped arrows. When we return to the Times and Trials room, Betha and Fen are in their own bodies. Remi and Yannic are in each other’s.

We decide to try a Future door this time. We choose the third door on the right, which leads into another dining hall. This home is less well-to-do, and a peek outside reveals a very rainy day in a small farming town. There’s an incessant hum in the air, and shouting in the street. The people outside are running down the street, and in the distance, we can see a column of red light. The column is identical to the ones we’ve seen at exploding banishing towers.

By rifling through the papers in the house, we figure out that the date in this time/place is sometime between Fane 25 and Fane 27 (inclusive). The column of red light is moving erratically but getting closer to the town. The world seems to be stuck at sunset. We follow the cat onto a balcony to get a better view of the column of light. We see demonic creatures emerging from the column in an extremely organized fashion. In the distance, towards the southeast, we can see the outline of Gathering. We estimate the column will arrive at the town in about 20 minutes. We see no hyenapeople or terrifying frogs among the creatures. Fen calls upon Lester to confirm that Andraki’s creatures are not present. Lester says the frogs were told to stay away from towns. Not wanting to stick around for another apocalypse, we head back through the balcony’s door to the Times and Trials room. This time, instead of disappearing, the door stays in the wall behind us. Yannic and Fen are in their own bodies now, and Betha and Remi have swapped.

We investigate the third door on the left in the Future hallway, opposite the last door, and it opens on a library where a charred person rests in an armchair. We close the door and ask the cat for guidance. It leads us to the Present hallway, and to a door we recognize as Ondelin’s house’s door. The cat warns us that this will be observation only. When we step through, we’re in the clearing outside Ondelin’s home, and Ondelin is there, wearing a turquoise scarf. Andra is leading a discussion about a contraption they’re trying to create called MOL. The other two people there we don’t recognize: a blue celestial and a rugged, grizzled elf.

We try and fail to communicate with Andra and Ondelin. Remi tries to hold Ondelin’s hand, and other than a twitch, there’s no response or recognition. Fen messes with Andra’s cloak, which Andra feels and sees, but she mostly ignores it, not recognizing it as an attempt at communication. Betha tries writing and drawing on a piece of paper she drops multiple times in front of Andra and Ondelin. Andra catches the paper a few times and immediately forgets that she’s holding it. Yannic checks his email paper and sees that the recent exchanges with Kean are gone, and there are a whole lot of other messages in their place. He sits down to read the messages, and cries. Remi joins him after a while, to provide a supportive shoulder. Yannic writes something on the paper. The cat starts meowing at us to get back through the door.

Suddenly, Kean teleports into the clearing, looking around wildly for Yannic. Fen grabs the cat and hugs it, telling it to shush. Kean tells the others that Yannic is here, and Andra worries that her brother’s gone mad. Kean continues frantically looking for Yannic until he looks at the message paper. Then, he goes still, waiting. Yannic attempts to hug him, and Kean goes on waiting, apparently not feeling anything. Yannic gives up and writes on the message paper. After a while, Kean reads the paper and decries the unfairness of the situation. Fen attempts to steal back her diamond, but finds only an egg and a small emerald containing a person. She switches the two before Yannic tells her to stop bothering Kean. Andra tries to get Kean to rest, and after Yannic tells Kean via the paper that we’re leaving, we head towards Ondelin’s house. Right before we leave, Kean tells Yannic they’re going to bring us back.

The cat leads us to a door in the Past hallway, and as it passes through, it turns into a blur of a guy. We follow, into a bedroom, and he leads us onto a balcony. Outside, we see flying ships, ludicrously tall clear buildings, and private air balloons. The god sits down, and he invites us to ask our questions. He tells us that nothing like what we’ve done has ever happened before. We did indeed create a new plane or timeline out of an Orb of Annihilation, which was a terrible idea.

We ask how to fix it, and he tells us to kill the aspect running around, the one we call Nemit. If we don’t fix it, the planes/timelines will diverge and settle into two different realities. Nemit is another aspect of the time god and has its owns motivations. The aspect we’re interacting with right now is called Sandglass, or Sandy. The way the planes are sealed off from each other prevents whole gods from manifesting as themselves in the Prime Material Plane; they have to use a vessel. The other aspect took a human vessel, which is frowned upon. If we see Sandy around, he’ll be a cat wearing a purple bowtie.

We can jump between the planes/timelines by killing or misdirecting the ether, what we’ve been calling time ghosts. We can switch people between planes/timelines or destroy one version to bring over another. Two of the same person can’t exist in the same reality at once; if they were in the same time/space, things would unravel very quickly. There were other versions of ourselves in the second plane/timeline, but Sandy got rid of them.

When we’ve run out of questions to ask him, the god dismisses us, and we return to ourselves in Timeline 2.


shannon_m_allred Millie

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