Part Three: Cosmic Hope Expedition


Aether Broadcast: The Launch of Cosmic Hope, Part 1

This interview was broadcast live from Magnagora at the Stone of Truth on the aether waves to each power nexus in the Imperial Protectorates on 13 Gorgani 543 by the then popular aether host, Globglob Mesherbrub.

ANNOUNCER: And now a special live broadcast from our favourite mugwump - Globglob Mesherbrub! Sponsored by Estelbar Fruit Juices, provider of nine delicious juice beverages.

GLOBGLOB: Helloooo loyal listeners! The excitement here is high at Magnagora, as I stand in the centre of it at the Stone of Truth. For those who haven't seen the Stone, it is a beautiful sight to behold, roughly forty feet high and a sparkling pearly white. We have a crack team of correspondents, all furrikin you may have been familiar with on other broadcasts, in place on the other planes where the Stone of Truth exists: the Elemental Plane of Earth and the Cosmic Plane of Shallamar. Lets check in on them. Leela, can you hear me?

LEELA: Loud and clear, Globglob!

GLOBGLOB: How are things on the Plane of Earth?

LEELA: I'm here with a team of geomancers observing the Stone of Truth. It's located here in a large cavern that glitters with flecks of gemstones. Excitement is in the air!

GLOBGLOB: Thank you, Leela! Now, lets see how our connection to the Cosmic Plane of Shallamar is. Timmie, can you hear me.

TIMMIE: I sure can, Globglob! I'm on a beautiful green hillock where the Stone of Truth exists on this plane. And I have a special guest next to me. May I present one of the Holy Emanations of Shallamar, King Gorgaliel the Peacemaker.

GORGALIEL: Be well and true.

GLOBGLOB: It's a humbling honour to have you observe with us, Your Holy Majesty! Can you tell us your view on the expedition? I know there are many listeners here who are worried that the Three Sisters of Fate are no longer residing in Shallamar.

GORGALIEL: The Fates exist above and beyond even our knowing, gentle mortals. They come and go of their own choosing and their own time. And time does not exist for them as you would understand. As you know, the Holy Emanations of Shallamar and Holy Supernals of Celestia are beings bound to our respective realms as surely as Light is bound in Love. Yet, we feel a power that vibrates above our cosmic existence and give our blessings that this power can be brought to heal your lands. Now, if you will excuse me.

TIMMIE: His Holy Majesty has just lifted a hand and disappeared in a flash of blinding white light, Globglob.

GLOBGLOB: Thank you, Timmie! That was exciting, folks! You've just heard the blessings of an Exalted Being right here on these aether waves. Next to me now is our final correspondent, Lolly Pringle who you've probably heard on our morning broadcasts. He's been given the honour of joining the Cosmic Hope Expedition especially for this broadcast. Are you nervous, Lolly?

LOLLY: (laughs) Extremely nervous, Globglob! We're not sure if the aether waves will breach the 'supra plane' but if so, you'll get a first hand account of what we find.

GLOBGLOB: You certainly are a brave furrikin, Lolly. Can you tell us who else has been selected for the expedition?

LOLLY: Well, Emperor Ladantine himself is personally leading the expedition, as well as the High Prophet of Magnagora, Ghani n'Rotri. From the Matrix Research Institute is Professor Tomasol Lars. From the Illuminati in Gaudiguch will be Grand Cipher Tlochaka Chum. And the Celestines from the capital are sending Holy Mother Shellma Natharian. We’ll also have about a dozen ur’Guard with us.

GLOBGLOB: That's quite august company you're keeping, Lolly!

LOLLY: (laughs) Yes, and then there's little ole me.

GLOBGLOB: Why isn't Princess Marilynth on the expedition, Lolly?

LOLLY: While the Emperor has stated this mission is blessed and holy, there's still some risk. And since the Princess is next in line to the Star Throne, it was decided she should remain in Celest. (pause) It looks like the expedition is forming, Globglob, so I better be going. Let's hope you'll next hear from me from the supra plane!

GLOBGLOB: Good luck, Lolly! And our prayers go with you. Okay, folks, this is it. The team is forming before the Stone of Truth. There's Lolly giving us a wave good-bye and a big ole wink. The High Prophet is laying his hands on the Stone and a portal has opened. The expedition is off! The Stone is continuing to glow with a very bright light.


Aether Broadcast: The Launch of Cosmic Hope, Part 2

GLOBGLOB: Leela, how's the Stone look on the Plane of Earth?

LEELA: Nothing right now...oh, there it goes. It's glowing like a bright star, Globglob. The geomancers are all cheering.

GLOBGLOB: Timmie? How's the Stone look on the Higher Plane of Shallamar?

TIMMIE: It's glowing like crazy, Globglob! The Prophets here are smiling from ear-to-ear and all five of the Holy Supernals have turned out to watch, surrounded by a host of angelic beings.

GLOBGLOB: Simply amazing! The Stone of Truth here in Magnagora is glowing even brighter than before! I bet that's happening on the Plane of Earth and Plane of Shallamar too. Lolly, can you hear me? Come in, Lolly. Lolly? (pause) We still can't hear from Lolly and we may not be able to, folks, because the aether connection may break down before the expedition reaches the supra plane. I have a feeling...

LOLLY: (garbled) ...not what we expected, Globglob. There's...

GLOBGLOB: Lolly! We're having trouble hearing you. Are you there? Can you -

LOLLY: (garbled) ...and the Emperor -

GLOBGLOB: - describe what's happening?

LOLLY: (garbled)

GLOBGLOB: Max, can you boost this signal? (pause) Can you hear me now, Lolly? Lolly?

LOLLY: I can hear you, Globglob. It's very strange here... (garbled)

GLOBGLOB: We lost you before, Lolly. Can you describe the supra plane?

LOLLY: (garbled) ...and metal everywhere, but the Grand Cipher says it's not real metal, it's...(garbled)...the Emperor would like to say something now.

GLOBGLOB: Folks, live from the supra plane is Emperor Ladantine!

LADANTINE: As prophesied and as guided by the Light, Cosmic Hope is a...(garbled)...and with the power invested in us, we hereby name it the Astral Plane...(garbled)...and the Light shall guide us.

GLOBGLOB: Thank you, your Divine Grace! We're still having a little trouble with our connection, folks, and it may not get better. But you heard it here! The supra plane is to be known as the Astral Plane. Lolly, what's happening now?

LOLLY: We're cautiously moving around a metal forest...(garbled)...sweet Light, what's that! It looks like a metal...(garbled)

GLOBGLOB: Lolly, are you alright?

LOLLY: (garbled)...and it's dead now. Just a strange and very hostile creature here on the Astral...(garbled)...the Emperor sees something up ahead. It looks like a column of crystal. We're cautiously approaching...(garbled)...

GLOBGLOB: Bear with us, folks.

LOLLY: (garbled)...huge reservoir of cosmic energy! It's all we've dreamed of...(garbled) the Emperor is being the first to approach it and is laying his hands on it...(garbled) get ready, Globglob, they're going to send it straight through the Stone of Truth!

GLOBGLOB: Send what? Cosmic energy? Folks, I think the Emperor is making some sort of link with the Stone of Truth to channel pure energy into it. Yes, a Major Prophet just nodded at me in confirmation. This is it, folks! Everything we've been promised may just be coming any moment!


Aether Broadcast: The Launch of Cosmic Hope, Part 3

GLOBGLOB: Timmie, what's happening to the Stone in Shallamar?

TIMMIE: There's some sort of surge here, Globglob! It's beautiful! Glowing rainbow colours are swirling around the Stone of Truth here.

GLOBGLOB: Okay, stay with it, Timmie. Folks, it appears we're getting pure cosmic energy...

LOLLY: Oh, sweet Light...(garbled)...they're coming at us from all directions! The Emperor...(garbled)...sweet Light, NO!

GLOBGLOB: Lolly? Lolly? That didn't sound good. What? We seem to have lost our connection with Lolly, folks. Timmie, what's going on in Shallamar?

TIMMIE: I'm not sure, Globglob, the light in the Stone has suddenly darkened and the Holy Emanations are arriving.

GLOBGLOB: Looks like something is going wrong, folks. We've lost our connection with the expedition and something is going on in the Plane of Shallamar. Timmie, could you describe what's happening there?

TIMMIE: The Holy Emanations of Shallamar are arriving upon discs of light, circling around the Stone. The Holy Emanations are conferring with each other. They seem to be in agreement about something. Lord Luciphage is coming over to us and motioning us to fall back to the Fields of the White Amaranth.

GLOBGLOB: Can you still see the Stone, Timmie?

TIMMIE: Yes, Globglob. Its distant now, but we can still see it. King Gorgaliel has kissed his wife Nifilhema, Queen of Illustrious Beauty. Now, the other Holy Emanations are backing away except for Gorgaliel who is approaching the Stone. Lord Luciphage has taken charge of us.

GLOBGLOB: This is amazing, folks! We’re getting a firsthand account of a Holy Emanation in action. The Holy Emanations, like the Holy Supernals of Celestia, are enigmatic immortal beings of Light and Love. Though unable to leave their own cosmic planes, they have often helped...

TIMMIE: Globglob, sorry to interrupt...

GLOBGLOB: Go ahead, Timmie!

TIMMIE: King Gorgaliel is now approaching the Stone of Truth. He's placing his hands on it and bathing the Stone in white light. I can feel his power from here! It's amazing, simply amazing. It looks like he's driven back whatever...wait, something is...(loud crack)...oh, sweet Light! No!

GLOBGLOB: What's happening, Timmie?

TIMMIE: The Stone has cracked and Gorgaliel has fallen! No, wait, he's up...oh, Sweet Light, he's...he's...I can't describe it! It looks like his skin is bubbling and he's losing his form! Queen Nifilhema is trying to reach him but Blessed Lord Ashtorath is holding her back. She's clawing at her own face and bosom! Blood is running down her face! The Queen of Illustrious Beauty is tearing herself apart trying to reach her husband! Lord Ashtorath is screaming something I can't make out! He’s screaming and screaming and screaming! Lord Luciphage is telling us to move back, that he’ll lead us out of danger. Oh, this is horrible...(garbled). No! NO! NO! NO!

GLOBGLOB: Timmie! Timmie! What's happening? Timmie! (pause) We've lost our connection to Shallamar. I don’t know what...

LEELA: Something is happening at the Stone here on the Plane of Earth, Globglob! The geomancers are saying it's filling with power, but...(loud crack) Aaaah! It's...(garbled)...and we can't...

GLOBGLOB: Leela? Leela? Sweet Light, folks, I don't know what's going on but apparently some disaster is occurring, but...wait! Now, the Stone of Truth here in Magnagora is darkening! The light has left it and some sort of black oil is oozing out of it. What the...(garbled)...the prophets who were standing around the Stone have fallen! A black smoke is pouring out of the Stone now...the prophets are slowly getting back up but they're...(garbled)...sweet Light, it's moving fast! We've got to get out of here! Run! RUN!...(garbled).



Aether Broadcast: Resumption of Cosmic Hope Broadcast

The live broadcast from Magnagora came nine hours after the initial transmission abruptly ended. Though the speaker introduced himself as Globglob Mesherbrub, there was considerable doubt and uncertainty if it was the same mugwump as the voice was substantially altered in both tone and modulation.

GLOBGLOB: This is Globglob Mesherbrub. There has been a small mishap in Magnagora but it is now under control. If you see a dark cloud over Magnagora, do not be concerned. It is completely harmless. However, some injuries have occurred and we request everyone who is listening to come to Magnagora in order to help us in this time of need. I repeat, please come to Magnagora in all haste if you are able. Do not be concerned about the dark cloud. It will not harm you. This is Globglob Mesherbrub. There has been a small mishap in Magnagora...

The above message continually repeated for over twelve hours.


Memoirs of Lolly Pringle: The Astral Plane

Being one 'Who Was There And In The Middle of It', I have been asked on numerous occasions to write down my memoirs of the Taint Wars as it has come to be called, so now in my grey furred years when literally I am long of tooth I shall do so. May whomever reads this remember that I am but a furrikin, very small and of no importance, of the type called the tae'kin because of a resemblance to the tae'dae (though, of course, about a fraction of the size of those massive warriors). In my younger days, I was an aether broadcast host, a small personality who, as the Fates would have it, was chosen to accompany Expedition Cosmic Hope in its first foray into the Astral Plane. So, yes, I was there with Emperor Ladantine VII when he let loose the Taint, causing the evil that is now Magnagora to chase us through the generations evermore.

The brightest and bravest minds of the time, perhaps of all times, were there: Emperor Ladantine VII, a merian Aquamancer who was rightly called a prodigy in the field of planar physics; High Prophet Ghani n’Rotri of the now destroyed House of Prophets representing Magnagora, a trill of extraordinary talent and wisdom; Professor En'oonki Lars of the Matrix Research Institute representing Hallifax, as cool and logical as ever a lucidian could be; Grand Cipher Tlochaka Chum of the Illuminati of Gaudiguch, a strangely intense dracnari who was hooded and cloaked in the golden robes of his office; and Holy Mother Shellma Natharian representing Celest itself, an aged and quite powerful merian. Then, there was me, whose only purpose was to provide a planar link to report on what we found to aether superstar Globglob Mesherbrub. Accompanying us were about a dozen of the orclach ur'Guard, the Imperial elite troops at that time.

The expedition launched through the Stone of Truth, the nexus of power in Magnagora from which flowed all aether energies that powered the House of Prophets and the Geomancer's Guild in that city. As we caught the cosmic eddies from the Stone and travelled through null space, it was quite evident we were being transported by the best. For any who have experienced planar travel, I will only say there was little disturbance as we rose through the elemental plane of earth and the cosmic plane of Shallamar. Of course, that was when the true work of the expedition began. I can only describe the breaching into the plane above and beyond the known cosmos as both magnificent and terrible. Led by the Emperor, we followed his quite spectacular and intricate weaving of energy lines and when this energy web was complete we ‘pushed’ and reality expanded around us like an iridescent bubble. And when the bubble burst, we shot upwards or outwards and found us thusly in what is now called the Astral plane.

It is difficult to describe that strange place of floating islands or spheres that continuously knock against each other like apples bobbing in the barrel. Indeed, the Emperor’s theories proved correct, as the Stone of Truth also existed on this plane, which served as the anchor in our travels, though it was so much diminished here that we at first didn’t recognise it. The floating island we found ourselves on was a twisted, metal monstrosity of iron bars and bridges. But nothing that I can describe of the strangeness of the place can tell you what the feeling of being there is like. The atmosphere itself is thick and heavy, though not with smoke or indeed anything visible or detectable. It weighs heavily in your lungs and clings to your fur, though no amount of coughing or cleaning yourself will get rid of it. And, most disconcerting of all, is the feeling of being watched, as though we were but tiny ants being observed by a monstrous child.


Diary of Rowena Nightshade: Raising Gloriana's Defenses

Winter, Year 543: Oh, Mother Night, the Empire did not heed your warnings and look at what it has wrought. A dark cloud hangs over the city of Magnagora, engulfing all around it and spreading like a foul disease. We see the unnatural creatures within its smoky depths, twisted and hungry, but hungry for what I do not know. But what is worse, oh so much worse, is the evil presence we sense within that cloud, an intelligent force that is anathema to the living realms.

Not even in my darkest nightmares did I imagine such a disastrous consequence as the result of the Empire’s recklessness. How I wish you were wrong, Mother Night! How I wish all who dismissed your prophesies were right and that our warnings were but irrational ravings. Alas, that was not to be and so we must meet the challenges of this new horror.

As the Gloriana Forest is so near Magnagora, Brennan has gathered his druids of the Raven Circle and melded with the forest, bringing to bear all the defences of wood and earth to protect against the evil cloud if it tries to sweep this way. I have contacted the Moon Dance Coven of the Serenwilde and the Lake Wood Coven of Ackleberry, and they too are raising the defences for their forests.

I cannot understand why the centaurs of Gloriana, who have lived with us in harmony since the time of Ellindel, now leave us in our time of need. I met with Nintoba, the centaur chief and mystic, and asked him why he leads his people out of Gloriana. He told me that the centaurs have their own means of augury and the time for the centaurs in Gloriana has passed. Then, Nintoba begged me to gather the elfen of Gloriana and leave with him.

Leave Gloriana? How can I even think of such a thing. This is the forest of Mother Night and Raven, where those of us in coven or circle draw our strength and our spirit. Nintoba might as well ask the turtle to leave his shell or the stars to leave the sky at night. Still, his words trouble me and I go forth to gather the Night Coven to call forth the cone of power.

And then we shall pray to the great spirits and wait.


Memoirs of Lolly Pringle: The Emperor's Working

Though the Emperor made a rousing speech that lifted our spirits, I could not help but detect the slightest quaver in his voice and small sideways glances at this terrible place. I did the duty I came for and linked through the Stone of Truth to communicate with Globglob. It was then we were first attacked by one of the improbable creatures of the Astral realm. At first, we thought it was a goat living in this metal waste but as it came closer, we saw it was made of metal, eyes glowing a hellish red and breathing steam that could boil flesh from bone. Two ur’Guard were wounded before we were able to destroy it. Though a terrible beast, after Holy Mother Natharian healed the wounded orclachs, we felt emboldened by our victory and began our exploration.

We soon found a pillar of glowing crystals, and the Emperor was ecstatic, for this was the object and reason for the expedition. A new source of power that could be used to heal and restore the land, that would be a font of energy for each city’s nexus of power, that would herald a new age of untold promises. Or so we believed.

After leading us in a brief prayer of thanks to the Light, the Emperor set his hands upon the glowing crystal pillar. Around him rose a beautiful halo of multicoloured light, and his face filled with divine ecstasy as he harnessed the energy and channeled it into the Stone of Truth. We witnessed the stream of pure energy arc up from the pillar and link to the Stone of Truth, pumping power into the nexus in great waves of iridescent light.

Then they came. First another of those monstrous metal goats attacked us, then another, and another. We formed a circle around the Emperor, whose eyes had rolled back behind his lids, and was blissfully unaware of what went on around him. They came at us in wave upon wave, stinking of metal and death. Swords flashed from the ur’Guard and magical bolts flew from the hands of others, but the beasts still came, as though killing one created a dozen more. After three ur’Guard fell, things got worse. That beam of pure energy that the Emperor was channeling into the Stone of Truth turned dark and forbidding, expanding into a larger and larger stream until it looked like a river of shadows was being pumped into the Magnagora nexus. The expression on the Emperor’s face turned from ecstasy to pain, and his hands begin to blister and weep fluids.

High Prophet n’Rotri, Professor Lars, Grand Cipher Chum, and Holy Mother Natharian quickly went to the Emperor’s aid, grabbing hold of him, both physically and magically, and attempting to wrest him away from the crystal pillar, which was now pulsating with a darkly swirling light. Tendrils of foul energy erupted from the pillar, writhing around the would-be rescuers, plunging into their mouths and eyes or any orifice they found. The nightmare quickly went from bad to worse, as the Emperor fell heavily to the ground, his chest ripped open and eyes burned out. Surely he was beyond even the Holy Mother’s healing power, even if she wasn’t lying on the cold metal ground being thrashed by the dark energies.