Transcript of telepathic recording transmitted via aetheric comm. Ethan Rex walks the Plateau in search of the Pylon. -- T.Q. Narrow charred limbless trunks spear upward around me. This gully is an acre of them. Once a small wood, now just aftermath. The soil here is ash. As I stride between the trees they flicker. Parallax of their parallel stems. I know this is just a perceptual artifact. They are so vertical, so narrow, so stark. But that flicker looks to my peripheral vision exactly like a wind-stick devil would look. Creeping alongside. Hiding behind the trees. That flash of darkness as they stretch across from shadow to shadow. Growing increasingly wary of taking direction from the Aetheric Dowser. I suggested going around. It insisted on going through. I do not like this dead grove. This endless wasteland has worn an emptiness through me. Incessant horizons to fall into. Rocks, sand, bleakness. I never expected to grow weary of this beautiful terrain. I never normally feel loneliness. But something is off. Something is off out here on this plateau. And/or something is off in me. So tired of walking. How long must I walk. How long must I hold out faith that this artifact* is leading me aright. Dowsing me toward the Pylon. I hoped this dead grove would be a welcome change. Some texture. Some respite from the horizon. From the endless open stoneways. Vast uninterrupted skies. Instead, this haunted graveyard. The trees a scattered catacomb stabbing upward. Those wind-stick devils flicking alongside. I walk faster. For a time out here I felt the Aetheric Dowser fit. It clicked into the web of causality. The habafropzipulops gave me some sense of the Luck Plane and the Dowser fit. I no longer feel that click. Is it the Dowser? Me? I can’t tell the aetheric plane from a hole in my head anymore. Just get through these trees. Between the dead trees I can see a ways up ahead a small ruin. Standing out in the open on the edge of a cliff. I walk faster raising ashy clouds. The edge of the copse approaches. Then up ahead, sand and bare stone leading up to the small ruin. Darkness leaps at me from both sides – the wind-stick devils! I feel their coldness pass through me. Draw pistol and sword but they’re gone. No sign of them in any direction. Just dead trees and quiet. No motion anywhere but slowly settling dust behind me. Fragments of ash glittering in red late afternoon sun. I proceed, weapons poised. Emerge without incident. Shell of a stone building. Single room with a lush thirty-foot tree growing up through it. Cobblestone-edged pool around it. Maybe this oasis once fed the dead grove. Past the small ruin, a low cliff. Overlooking a wash. Leading to a narrow canyon. Aetheric Dowser definitely says canyon after this oasis. That’s the way to the Pylon. So it claims. First this oasis though it says. Hm. I have my own water. Wary of bathing in this environment: too vulnerable. Still, it’s water. Dowser seems to think it’s safe. Rather than bathe I kneel inside this small stone ruin. Bow my head to the cobblestone ring of the pool. Feel the life emanating from this tree. The lushest entity I have encountered in weeks. This is nice. I could get my thoughts together in a place like this. I could figure out how to find the Pylon. I could figure out how to find my way off the Plateau. This is what I need. I just need to stay here. I’ll stay in this oasis and get my thoughts together. “Not with the Fell Walker on your heels,” whispers a voice into my ear. I leap to my feet. Pistols drawn. Aimed at head and torso of a figure robed in shadow. It freezes. I wonder if bullets can hurt it. With a “HA!” it leaps at me. Slides between my bullets and shoves me hard in the chest. Shoves me down. Pins me, hands on my shoulders. “Meet the Fell Walker,” it whispers in my face. I flick my guns up my sleeves. Draw that Fake Sword of Stanis**. Place the blade against the Fell Walker’s belly. Left hand bracing the back of the blade. Sweep upward. The Fell Walker leaps up. Unscathed. Floating right along the edge of the blade. Just out of reach of cutting pressure. The creature dances away. Over the edge of the cliff. Leaps its way down into the wash. Towards the narrow canyon. I lope after it. * Does this imply the Aetheric Dowser is indeed a magic item? ** The "sword of unspecified origin or manufacture" mentioned in Agent Rex's equipment list is presumably this "Fake Sword of Stanis"? Must notify Agent Quilq. – T.Q.
Yep, Agent Rex is still out there losing his mind on the Plateau of Leng.
See you next Wednesday,