Vikram and Laris's Conversation on the Mountain

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Laris's Conversation with Vikram (Night, 4th Tenrilden 525 PO)

Initial Conversation

After the party settles down in their temporary house inside the cavern, Laris approaches Vikram and asks if he would like to have a look around outside – maybe even practice flying/scouting. The Djinn thinks for a moment, and then asks if they could climb a short ways: “I don't doubt your word, but it would be interesting to experience this invisible mountain for myself.”

Leaving the cavern and its sentry, one of the Montoan amazon warriors, Laris and Vikram begin climbing the slope (the djinn demurs from flying with the excuse that he would be nervous to try with such a large obstacle obscured from his vision). About ten minutes up the slope, they find a level patch where they can sit and look out across the dark lands toward the horizon in the east. Unfortunately, clouds obscure the stars and there is not much to see other than the void of night.

Vikram: “This is a wondrous thing! A mountain that stands alone, with no borders in the bordering realms. It is truly a place of this world and no others. I had not thought that … uniqueness possible.”

[Assuming Laris has some questions about that statement]

Vikram: “Everywhere I know of is touched by the skein between worlds – what you call the shadow realm and use only as a shortcut between one place and another. I am no natural philosopher, but they say in my home that this skein stretches between all the instances of a place spread across the infinite dimensions of creation. As this place has no shadow, I reason that it exists only here. This is unheard of and must explain why someone like me, who lives more in the in-between than anywhere else, cannot sense it from the outside.”

[Assuming Laris begins subtly poking at the issue of Vikram's autonomy from the masters of the City of Brass and how much of what he knows is open to those masters]

Vikram: “I am no slave now, Master Laris. There is neither mortal nor immortal that commands my loyalty by force. However, you and your friends are known to Shaitan and his chief lieutenants and I have no doubt that one – if not more – of that cabal have allies listening from the shadow realm. These allies cannot come close enough to overhear mortals without making themselves obvious, but my voice carries further across the skein and therefore I must exercise caution in my speech to you. You would not want my words to convince your enemies that your interests and goals are a threat to their dominion. Fortunately, given the unique and hidden nature of this place, it seems we may speak a bit more frankly.”

[Assuming Laris asks about the shift in power that followed shortly after the loss of the shard]

Vikram: “The skein between worlds is more like webbing than shadow, stretched between the many realities. Much like a web, it carries vibrations when something touches it – especially if that something is foreign to it, like a mortal stepping between locations in their home dimension. An artifact like this shard, something from and maybe even of this mountain that stands apart from all other worlds, might very well cause the seismic shudder that I felt last evening. You can be sure that every DVL and daemon across creation felt that shift in the skein. I also have no doubt that some, like Shaitan, will investigate immediately and that your artifact is already in his hands.”

[Assuming Laris asks about the Clock DVL]

Vikram: “I cannot say for sure where our diminutive friend's loyalties lay, but he has not been in contact with your enemies during my time with your group. Those of my brethren bound by dwarves to their tools are often eccentric if not outright insane after millenia of enslavement. His lassitude and contentment with staying beside his prison may be an expression of that mental degradation … or it could be something more sinister. I would hate to see someone so wronged be hurt again based on mere suspicion, but it is also clear to me that the stakes at play may necessitate that. If you are amenable, though, I offer my services as guard and spy on this creature. Other than by fleeing back to our home or one of our brethren here in this world, he will not be able to betray you to agents of Shaitan or his minions while in my presence.”

Additional Questions

[What range would TickTock have when observing/hearing? Is it just what would be normal for a human?]

Vikram: “TickTock is a delightful name for our friend! Naming something circumscribes its power – literally in the case of true names – and that helps dispel needless fear. I do think TickTock is limited to normal hearing and vision as you would know it, excepting his connection to the skein between worlds, but such things are hard to be sure about with my brethren. An abundance of caution given the stakes would not be unreasonable.”

[What kind of signs would we see if a DVL was trying to listen to or observe us?]

Vikram: “While my brethren can hear me from a distance and observe without betraying their presence, they must be immediately beside a mortal in the skein to hear his speech. If they are that close, you may be able to smell or even hear them if you make an effort to do so. Some of my kind, of course, will be better than others at concealing themselves.”

[When we use the shadow step ability, what’s the range that is tingled in the skein? Does that effect/ripple increase and decrease depending on distance travelled?]

Vikram: “There may be some formula for determining that range, but I have not made a study of the phenomenon. Suffice it to say, the vibrations across the strings of the skein will carry many times farther than any sign of your presence would in the mortal world – for example, if you were to shadow step from the cavern mouth to the first totem, any DVL or daemon within several days journey would be aware of the disturbance and might choose to investigate. Distance may amplify this disturbance, but I could not say by how much.”

[Can you tell me more of the different ‘modes of power’ that we call magic? TickTock mentioned that it had to do with a difference in potential of beings that cross into another reality/plane/world where they can focus that difference in power into ‘magical’ effects. He also mentioned Electricity or some such; what and how does that work? Is it another ‘mode of power’?]

Vikram: “TickTock seems intelligent if nothing else and I don’t know if there is anything more that I could add to his explanation. If anything, I would likely confuse the matter rather than clarify it. The nature of all magic, to my knowledge, is the manipulation of differences in potential energy. Regarding electricity, it is simply a power the ancient dwarves created by manipulating those differences.”

[Laris describes the battle with the creature and will see if Vikram has any insight into why Rallion’s sword shattered when it struck it. He will also pick his brain for any way to battle these new arrivals.]

Vikram: “Some of my kind can manifest in forms that are more alien to the mortal realms than others – we would say they are more solidly real. Sometimes that solidity makes their physical forms immune to mortal weapons, which lack a commensurate level of realness. Weapons that share that alien nature, like those the dwarves created using my brethren, would be effective. There may be other artifacts like that, but I am not aware of what they may be.”

[Laris will ask if it’s possible that a piece of the mountain (e.g., sling stones, knapped arrowheads) might effect DVLs? Maybe we could create another Shard?]

Vikram (picking up some dirt and rocks): “This soil and rock feels fundamentally wrong to me, but I don’t think it would be any likelier to harm one of my kind without something more being done to it. My feeling, in fact, is that this area is more stubbornly mortal – less real and solid – than normal. I doubt anything made from this material could harm even me, and I don’t share that immunity your recent foe enjoys.

[Does he know how the portal above the planet functions? How is it staying open?]

Vikram: That is a creation of the dwarves and likely draws on the same well of potential power as all their enchanted tools. However, you would need a DVL with a much more robust background in natural philosophy to answer that question.