Thursday, November 24, 2011

Riding with Nick Dwyer -/|\- Hope is Dead, Long Live Hope, (Somebody Set Them Up The Bomb)

Riding With Nick Dwyer

In that picture, I'm definitely the cat. He insist that I use one of those, giving me some nonsense about psychological warfare. I think it's a pointless gesture, but I will respect his opinion in this matter.

After he pulled me out of that hole in the ground, we rolled along in his car for a few miles without a word. We both just glanced at each other now and then, with no idea what to say.

You need to remember, I remember him as a weird, almost mechanical thing that I engaged in battles to the death with as some kind of Demon Samurai. Simply by conversing with each other, we "won the internet" by virtue of existing. Even after we came to this world in our respective fashions, war was what we knew.

You know what? I'm saving our conversation in the car for later. We didn't talk about anything particularly important.

That said, Nick wants to talk about Hope.



Hope is Dead, Long Live Hope, Somebody Set Them Up The Bomb

Two days of preparation, three cans of black paint, about five hundred dollars in miscellaneous small items (Tongue of Dog and Wing of Bat are out of season after all), and a whole lot of annoyed Sage and Ellen had lead to this moment.

She and I, sitting with the rest of the Hope-goers for a final lunch. The ill-fated Johnsons and that Ray guy among others. (did NOT get a chance to talk with him. Ah well.) Steele was present, Rivers was present (I should have talked to him too), Elliot was there with his pal Alex... damn it, I have to put another quarter in my Ellipses jar. Honestly, I didn't know a lot of the people there, and I didn't have time to talk to them either. I don't know the names of the dead. That worries the shit out of me. Shouldn't I be able to remember them? If we don't, who will?
I had finished drawing a little something in the same concoction I'd prepared around Hope for the last two days on the table we were eating on. I wasn't taking any chances. The attack could come at any time, and I didn't want to leave anyone in the lurch.

Ellen and I, sitting around these people, eating and chatting a little, having a good time. It didn't last very long. Ellen was curious, she'd never met anyone besides me who'd been "stalked" before. So when reality twisted and the first bodies hit the floor, I popped out a cigarette lighter I'd purchased for this moment, lit it, and threw it on the table. 

Ellen was a demon. She knows other demons. Stage one of this little fracas was to put us in a position where we could drop a whole mess of hell-hounds on Slendouche. Now, so you all know, proper Hell-Hounds are pack hunters. They're vicious. They come in large groups with flaming red eyes, an affinity for the hot stuff, and a tendency to breathe fire at people. And Ellen's Hell-hounds have tentacles. By all the gods, does EVERYTHING have to have tentacles these days? I suppose they're the new fashion accessory for the inhuman and murderous. 

At least that was the first part of the plan for keeping everyone safe for long enough to get them out of there. That's about the point when everything went to shit. The world changed, and suddenly that circle I'd set up on the table was aimed to ricochet off the wall, and summon those hounds in such a direction that they would literally warp into our reality from an angle that would involve exploding through my body.

There is exactly one reason I'm alive right now, and that's because Ellen is the fastest goddamn woman alive. Suddenly, I find myself being shoved away from the table, away from the terrified citizens of Hope, and away from the IT. through the doorway. The universe shifted, and when Ellen and I blinked, we were suddenly at the main entrance door to Hope, outside the house.

Ellen immediately blurted out, "What the fuck was that...there was nothing there! I couldn't see anything! And then...Christ Nick, it killed those two like they were made of tissue!"

I hadn't noticed. I was too busy trying to sucker-punch it with Hell Hounds, and then try to redirect said Hell Hounds from exploding through my body on the way to their target. And then I realized that somehow, Ellen COULDN'T see IT. But that wasn't our problem right now. Our problem was the fact that the house was shifting. It was no longer a single, stable physical location. The house had gone Eldritch, and going out the window could take you to the roof, the basement door could lead to the bathroom, and the bathroom door could lead you to the lunchroom. Everything was fucked. The people in Hope were going to get massacred at IT'S leisure. Well we couldn't have that, now could we?

Your turn, Ellen.

To understand the psychology of Nick Dwyer, one must first understand that he spent a lot of time watching Looney Tunes cartoons as a child. That is my only guess on the matter. What I know for sure is that at that moment he just wrote about, two of my loyal hounds arrived just behind us. They'd not ended up where they were supposed to be. And that was when Nick had them tear the door off it's hinges. He then dropped it lengthwise across their backs, and leaped on top. There is only one reason he wasn't instantly eaten alive, and that I think was the confusion of my brethren. No one had ever tried anything like that before, so they did not know how to go about destroying him for the insult yet. Rather than let them figure that out, I leaped on the door with him.

Nick shouted, "Keep the dimension's stable! We need to actually go straight!"

I did my best. It made sense. As one solid object, our small group had a far greater chance of maintaining cohesion and sticking together as we moved through the warped and twisted floors of hope.

What did not make sense, was him repeatedly shouting, "YAH MULE! YAH! YAH! YAH MULE! YAH!"

The Hell-hounds kept running. I think I heard one of them mutter about devouring his undoubtedly delicious spleen.
To avert this, I told Nick, "Stop demeaning them."

They slipped. I do not begrudge my comrades this. The door we were on fell off the bodies of the Hell Hounds as they charged into a broom closet. Based on my understanding of the flow of dimensions, that would take them back through a confusing chain or rooms that would eventually lead to the "Slender Man", dropping both of us to the floor.

Nick brushes off his clothes calmly as I got my bearings. I had my sword out from under my coat, and my hands were shaking. What was this madness? This was no war that I had ever known.

Nick says, "First priority! You grab Elaine I...need to go make this mess even MESSIER! And maybe hold the house intact so that everyone can actually get out of here the direct route."

I paused for a moment, feeling the world around us normalize as Nick started chanting something. He pulled out his new staff, and started stumbling around in an awkward circle. He was going to give them a way out, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, I had to get everyone out as best as I could, as fast as I could. I dived into a closet...taking me back to where Elaine and the others were. This is what happens when time and space get screwy. The door that takes you in one direction may actually take you somewhere else. Nick was maintaining a normal path to the door, but anyone who decided to take a detour would be in serious trouble if they didn't have the kind of senses he and I played around with.

The moment I arrived where we had been having a peaceful lunch previously, I saw Elaine get flung against the wall by thin air. I could feel the presence of this "Slender Man" there, but I could see nothing. Two people died instantly after that.

And that's when the Hell Hounds arrived, leaping onto his tentacles and biting down, hard.

I could feel the anger of all the beasts in that room surging through my skull. I started shoving people at the door. I tried to focus my energy and put some kind of barrier between it and them. I don't know if it worked. What I do know is that everyone I shoved out that door managed to make it to one of those cars from the regular walk that Nick had set up for them.

And after that, I insist, is Nick's story to tell.


I watched a redheaded gent pour gasoline on the grand piano. Fire was filling the house, exactly according to my plan. Everything else had gone cockeyed, but THAT had remained unaffected. I watched the flames lick the gasoline, and set the entire thing ablaze. I had spent two days preparing this trap. I wanted to appreciate it.

He saw me, and his green eyes sparkled. He was enjoying his work. I knew who this guy was, based on all the information I've put together recently: Writer.

Of all the things he could have expected however, me dressed as Sherlock Holmes, complete with the oddly checkered hat and overcoat, was probably not one of them. I held up a magnifying glass, and shouted at Writer:

"ELEMENTARY, my dear Writer! Just remember: Fire is the devil's only friend, as the old song goes!"

How I ended up here, dressed as Sherlock Holmes during all of this, is a tale for another time.

Writer chuckled in response. "And this is indeed the day the music dies! I advise you to stay out of the sitting room, mon bon détective. The one with the piano. Unless you want to be knocked right off your feet!"
I slowly ambled in Writer's direction, twirling the magnifying glass in one hand, "Well... No angel born in hell, could break that Satan's spell...but I have to ask. What have you got against Pianos? That was a lovely instrument, damn it."

Honest question. I'm a music lover, don't you know?

"Oh, but think of how well it will burn!" Writer returns, as if the thought should be obvious. "Thank of the chaos, think of the wonderful havoc it'll cause! Think of the strings breaking and flying across the room, lashing out and destroying whoever and whatever is unlucky enough to get in their way. Think of the wonderful crash the body will make when its legs give way! Marvelous, marvelous! I'd stay and watch the show, but I'm afraid this area is... eu, beyond my control, and thus I have no intention of remaining. You do enjoy yourself though, Nick."

I just smiled. It's not every day that I actually get to gloat at somebody.

I actually laughed, "Oh you pyros are all the same. I suppose I'm here for a very specific reason though. I just wanted to thank you guys. You see, Writer, the mystical significance of fire as a purifying force has existed in cultures throughout the ages. By the same token, I also knew that anyone who wanted to destroy Hope would comically enough, purge it with fire. Which is why me and Ellen were up all night painting out the place into one giant circle of power. Effectively, Writer, we turned Hope into one giant purifying, banishing bomb on crack. And you just pulled the trigger. Don't worry, it won't kill your sick and twisted boss. We'd need a MUCH bigger circle for that. Thin Guy will spend about a week in hell...and then he'll be back, and BOY will he be pissed. But you know what? Now our friends have time to run. And boy do I feel bad for the proxies who'll wonder where the piss your boss is. Some of them might even think normally for a while! Now, that said, I think we should make our escape, shouldn't we?"


And there was a moment there when Writer's grin widened further, and seemed to extend to both of his ears, twisting and curling and distorting, showing off a full set of... sharpened teeth? Even those bright eyes seemed to grin now. He seemed completely and utterly pleased, giggling madly under his breath.And then he began to clap.

"Good show, sir, good show!" He giggled. The grin gradually died down."I'll be taking my leave now. You know how it is; things to do, lives to ruin and whatnot. Au revoir, mon petit chou~"

And he was gone.

When I walked out of Hope, and I could vaguely see a tentacle reaching toward me as the fire reached a certain point in the house. Symbols all across Hope all fired off, and the fire burned bright white.That super hot flame engulfed the tentacle, and pulled it back into the dying house. Me and Ellen hit the Slender Man with the biggest fucking bomb the two of us could pull together with two days of work. It was designed to purify anything in it's area, and then launch whatever was left right into the bowels of hell, the home of those Hell Hounds.

Ellen and I have been driving ever since.

Don't get your hopes up, people. He'll be back. We didn't kill a damn thing with that. And something like the Slender Man can HANDLE getting out of hell. But I'm pretty sure this one hurt him. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people are going to get a good, solid breather. Best case scenario is what I gloated to Writer about. Wouldn't it be fantastic, if proxies that don't have his voice in their heads started thinking for themselves again? If it jarred his process enough that people randomly stop getting stalked? How about that for a curtain call on the sanctuary known as Hope.

More likely it'll only help one or two people, and there won't be any change in the lives of anyone who is currently stalked. But that's the point: we have to have hope.

For all the bad shit that happened at noon today, I can say that Hope lives on in all of us. And the legend continues.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday and Wednesday

I was reading through some of the financial documents for "Club Suspect", as Nick referred to it, the other day. I was sitting in my car, flipping through them as I took some quick notes. Yes, THAT Club Suspect. Figuring out exactly which club it was had been something of a headache, but at the end of the day I made a guess based on the simple question: "Which one looks like it'd gotten a massive amount of mystical restructuring as of late."

What I found was a classic case of Shell Companies used for a Shell Game. You've seen them before, that old game where you hide the little ball under one of three cups, and then start spinning them around. At the end, you guess which one it's under. Except that if the guy running the Shell Game knows what he's doing, it won't be under any of them.

Getting the full documentation had cost a lot of money and time, and someone wasn't all that happy about it. So as I was walking with these documents, I had the unfortunate realization that yes, I was being followed. That or the guy in the brown coat talking to someone on the phone had needed to walk in a full circle around the block with me bringing us back to our point of origin. Oh deary me, a young, frail lady like myself being pursued on the streets of Buffalo. How terrifying.

I sidestepped into an alleyway, and pressed my back against the wall. And I waited. He was bigger than me by about a foot, and thick. Not fat thick, mind you. Muscle. It was obvious he was a tough guy, used to tough fights, brawling, shooting, you name it. So imagine his surprise when the knife-edge of my hand impacted against the side of his throat. That wasn't intended to hurt him mind you, just to stun him. Completely off balance, his breathing off by a mile, he didn't resist as I gently tugged him in my direction and pulled him across my body for a hip-throw. The big man collapsed on the ground in front of me, his ass facing me as I maintained control of his arm, and I stomped on that unfortunate ass, finishing his collapse to the ground.

Then I tweaked his arm. Just a little, just enough to let him know that he had no way of unlocking it from the hold, and that I could break it any time I wanted to.

This was old-school Jiu-jitsu my dear readers. You don't see very much of it anymore. But I learned from the best. We were quiet for a moment, he and I.

Then I asked, "Who do you work for?"

He said, grunting as I tweaked his arm a bit more to let him know of my intense displeasure:

"If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

I said, "So you're not going to tell me anything?"

He grunted in affirmation.

I stepped around his arm, careful not to break it by accident, and stomped on his head. He went limp. I stomped again with the same amount of force, just to be safe. Then I checked his pulse. He was fine. I checked his wallet. No identification at all, just a money clip flushed with fresh twenties. I took them, shoved them in my purse, and continued on my way. I continued down the dark, scary alleyway, confident that I was the meanest thing in there.

I exited out the other end of the alleyway, only to run into two other people that did not like me. And one of them had a gun pointed at me. I held up my hands, and the other one tasered me.

You know. Getting tasered is always something of a wakeup call. The lesson here: don't get cocky.

I spent the rest of Tuesday with a black bag over my head. I was thrown into a van, and bounced around like a sack of potatoes in the back of the damn thing. After that, standard procedure was followed. I was zip-tied to a bunch of piping in some kind of industrial area. I didn't know where I was, I couldn't see anything, the only reason I knew it was piping was because I could feel the cold metal on my wrists. I could feel it rising to the small of my back, and I knew that I had plastic zip-ties around my arms and legs on this pipe.

Finally, the bag on my head was pulled off.

I could see the golden rays of sunset out a door behind the person in front of me. That was a good detail to remember. Then my eyes met the old man in front of me. Here's a fact: you never want to go eye to eye with some practitioners. Seeing what lies behind their eyes is a terrifying thing. I saw conviction. I saw passion. I saw the aching void and the stars within. I felt it choking me, and I saw the thing that he desired most: to command and control each and every one of those burning stars that dared to shine in his night. I couldn't breathe.

I gasped for air and he pressed my head back against the piping, bringing his face closer.

And then I remembered who I was.

He recoiled as my eyes narrowed, and he saw that little smile that I'd had just before I'd clip an angel's wings. The one I'd have whenever I had a chance to go to war with the thing that Nick Dwyer used to be. My eyes bored into his, and I could feel my sword somewhere, in my heart, slicing into the depths of that void.

I sometimes dream of cutting infinity. The concept is a paradox. A wonderful, beautiful, awful paradox. He stumbled backwards, surprised.

And then I saw behind him. There was darkness in the doorway. I must have had my eyes locked with him for at least twenty minutes. He pulled out a tape recorder, and started speaking to it. He told the tape recorder my life story, from birth in this world, to living in an Apocalyptic Cult dedicated to the destruction of the reality that you know, to the moment that our eyes met.

And I knew his name as he told my story to the tape: This was Mastermind.

Mastermind said, "Nicely done. Some people never fight their way out of my eyes. Sad too. You know, I could use someone with your strength in the world I will create. We need people like you. Would you like to discuss salary arrangements, or are you set on...well, who are you working with?"

I could breathe again, and I took the chance to do so. I kept my eyes pointed on his neck. I didn't want to meet that gaze twice. How did he not know who I was working for? Oh right, Perception Filters. Gods above and below, it's getting hard to keep track of who can see what at this point. Wait a minute though. Didn't he just see my entire history?

He cut me off before I could say anything: "Oh right! You're working with my little blue friend, Mr. Dwyer! Fantastic to know... you're quite good at the whole detective thing, aren't you? You probably understand my operation quite well at this point. I'm wondering what you think you'll accomplish with this knowledge, however."

I managed to say, "I don't know. I just don't know. I was just supposed to gather it."

He nodded, like a kindly uncle. He smiled, and said, "I'm very sorry to have you all tied up like this, but for the moment I think I'd like to have you where I can see you. I'm going to give the old recruitment drive another shot when I get back though! Don't you worry about that. I think I have a use for you...but for now, try to relax. My men are going to keep an eye on you. Good job whipping Stephens, incidentally. That boy is far too confident for his own good, I almost wish you'd have broken his arm..."

He trailed off, and walked toward the door. Then he stopped and held up a single finger.

He said, "Oh! Before I forget. There are at least six men with silenced submachine guns upstairs, and only one direction you can come out of this hole from. If you DID somehow got loose from your restraints, you'd find yourself being gunned down rather quickly. But if you relax and try to remain calm, I might upgrade you to a proper cell with a warm bed!"

He seemed happy with himself, and he started up the stairs.


Wednesday started, and I have to tell you, breaking the zip ties against the piping wasn't all that difficult. I was in some kind of substation for one utility or another, but the problem was exactly what Mastermind had said it would be: There were at least six men with guns looking in the direction of the only exit from the station the moment I tried to peek out the door.

One of them shouted at me, "Get back down there, damn it. Which shithead fucked up the ties?"

I didn't tell him that no one fucked up with the restraints and that I have a talent with that sort of thing. What I did was walk back down stairs and not get shot.

They tossed me a bagged lunch at some point during the day. It was quite nice of them. Tasty Drugged PB&J! I woke up later in the evening zip-tied to the piping again. There were twice as many zip ties. I was okay with this. I broke them, although it took much longer. This time, as I walked up the stairs to check on the guards, something unexpected happened.

The thick door to the substation opened, and one of the guards ran inside. He didn't even look at me. He just slammed the door shut and started trying to lock it. He looked horrified I took the opportunity to slam his face against the door twice and toss him down the stairs. Then I looked out the door. There was the figure of someone I drugged and tossed into a coffin not too long ago, holding a suitcase.

Nick waved, and said, "Sorry I'm late, I had to cause a bastard of a distraction."

I glanced at the briefcase. Then at his other hand, which was bleeding.

I asked, "Where'd the guards go?"

Nick said, "Four went to look into the reactivation of my cell phone in a strange house. One went to the bathroom where he was rudely ambushed. The last one was yours."

I said, "He looked terrified. What was he running from?"

Nick said, "You don't want to know."

I decided he was right.

It was strange being around him. Keep in mind, before this we'd only known each other as astral projections. In our minds, we were moving differently, reacting to the person we used to know. Except that we aren't those people anymore. Fate is a mysterious thing.

He drove me to where they were keeping my car. I'll write about that more tomorrow. It's been a very strange couple of days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fixing a Mess With A Bigger Mess -/|\- A Bigger Bang

Fixing a Mess With a Bigger Mess

Ellen's gotten herself into a bit of trouble. Similar to some certain dwarves, she got too greedy, and dug too dark and too deep. Rather than let her get herself served up as dinner as per the classic case of Balrog v. Moria, I decided it was time to apply my own particular brand of insanity to the situation at hand. Specifically in a manner that would allow me to achieve several goals all at once.

I broke into the New Morningstar's fine house. My goal was simple: sneak in, steal a certain suitcase full of world ending syringes from when Redlight was having his last gasp, get out. Now, I have had several conversations with Time Lord at this point, and I knew that the best way to help Ellen out was to get a whole lot of people looking in my direction all at once. That was where my old cell phone came into play. I plugged in the battery, and watched it power up. Mastermind wouldn't be willing to spend a whole lot of resources on it. Any idiot who could locate the phone with satellite tech would know that I wouldn't be stupid enough to plug the damn battery back in after all this time. But he'd send somebody, just to see what kind of trap I was springing.

And I only needed him to send out a couple people.

I cracked open a side window into New Morningstar's fine residence. You wouldn't think that this was the house of a mass murderer. In the act of climbing inside, I lost my footing, slammed my groin against the window sill, and fell inside. I landed on the corpse of the priest he'd been talking about killing the other day.

There is a smell, to the corpse of a man. Like rotting meat at the butcher's, until you turn your head and see the eyeless face of something that was once a man. In with the new boss, same as the old boss. I puked in the corner of the room, and then remembered what I was here to do.

The suitcase was easy enough to find. The one with Redlight's old apocalypse juice. I dropped my old cell phone into the closet it had once resided in. In another half hour or so, the New Morningstar would have some friends to deal with. May they murder his sorry ass and send it to the depths of hell.

I really, really wish I hadn't been busy running a rescue operation. I really want to hurt this son of a bitch. But after a few long, painful hours, I turned six vials of Redlight's Apocalypse Juice into plain water. There are still three vials out there though. I'm worried.


A Bigger Bang

Figuring out where Ellen would go in Philadelphia after she escaped while her guards were busy was pretty easy. As per some sticky notes from Time Lord, I left her a small stack of her OWN sticky notes.

I love it when a plan comes together. And I think you guys will too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something I Observed while Projecting

When some men dance, titans tremble. LinkLet me tell you a story of recent times. What happened before Mitch encountered Valtiel?

A Tall man in a black coat, with a red scarf draped around his shoulders was standing in the midst of a Chaotic Void. He appeared to be middle aged, with dark hair that was graying slightly. His Eyes were a deep Amber color, with slitted pupils. He smiled as his pursuer drew near. Again.

Let us take a moment to discuss a chaotic void, shall we? A nexus of destruction created to convert the energy of the dead into new life. This is not a place for the living, and not a place for the sane. There is nothing quite so disturbing as to see the process of life and death exchanging places without warning or reason.

After a moment, Nick walked into this place, smiling brightly, "Hi there Valty, you big mean son of a bitch you! How're you doing? Indoctrinated anyone interesting recently?"

Valtiel said, "Nick Dwyer. Don't you ever get tired? We have been doing this little dance for how long now?"

Nick said, "It's only been a few weeks. By my reckoning, hardly enough to count as one of my more ambitious projects."

He pulled out a notebook.

"You've caused a lot of trouble. You like Psychopaths, like Morningstar...but between the clown and the fop, I'm not sure where to start. So how would you like to get this started? Witty banter followed by the purging of your soul? Or would you prefer to skip to the pain? Some people like going out for lunch before this kind of thing, actually. What's your style?"

Valtiel said, "I suppose this is the part where I say something along the lines of 'your puny mortal mind cannot comprehend my powers" or something so Cliché. It's all Good Fun isn't it? But you really have become quite an inconvenience for me..."

Nick said, "I hate it when they say that. I'm not some petty conjuror of cheap tricks you know. I'm the Tolkien White Guy, there's one in every fantasy story. That makes me dangerous."

Nick here. Ellen can't see this. She stuck her boot in the proverbial hornet's nest, and now I'm going to run a bit of interference. Oh my lovely demotivational posters, how I missed you! What fun we will have together! :D

Valtiel extended his hand into the Chaotic Mass, revealing the one you know as Hakurei Ryuu, in a hotel room by herself.

Nick said, "Good picture. Have you ever thought of taking up a career as a color TV?"

He did not look amused anymore, however. In fact, he seemed ready for a fight.

Valtiel said, "Cifer always said you were something of a White Knight. So here's how this is going to work, Nick. You leave me alone, and I won't personally strangle the life out of your friend here. I normally don't bother with the hands on approach anymore... But as I said. An Inconvenience."

Valtiel's smile became twisted and distorted briefly before returning to normal

Nick’s eyes narrowed. He said, far calmer than I would have, "You think that I won't pile a mountain of skulls and let loose a river of blood in the name of vengeance if you do?"

Valtiel said, "I am willing to find out... How about you?"

Nick said, "You’ve got nine chances to end the world lying around. Do you really think I'm going to let that slide?"

Valtiel was amused: "Those things? This is about Redlight's Syringes?"

Valtiel shook his head with a sigh, still smiling.

Nick said, "Those and Val's location, and you've got a deal. Anything less, and the war starts."

Valtiel laughed. It was a very pleasant sounding laugh filled with friendliness and joy.

Valtiel said, "Why have you assumed that I have the Syringes. They are right where Cifer left them. As for Valerie..."

Valtiel pointed to Valerie inside the Chaotic Mass.

He said, "She's right here."

Nick said, "Now you're just being a dick."

Valtiel said, "I'm just telling you the quickest route to your dear friend."

Valtiel put his hand in the Mass further, reaching out and touching the back of Valerie's head briefly, pulling away quickly after.

Nick, I think, was stalling at that point. He said, "You can't just point at a picture of her and say 'Here'. Doesn't work that way."

Valtiel sighed once more

He said, "You are wasting my time Nick. I have an appointment with a dear friend of Cifer's in a few minutes. Valerie is right there."

Nick muttered a curse and walked through the hole.

Valtiel opened another exit within sight of Nick. It showed Mitch.

Nick said "What's your game, Valty?"

Valtiel simply smiled in response

Nick just gave Valtiel a blank expression. Valtiel walked through the exit he created near Mitch

Nick actually said, "Oh you son of a bitch."

He considered his options. For one, long, long moment. Then he muttered a curse and leapt into the hole that lead to Ryuu.

Was Nick actually, physically in this place between worlds? I can’t tell you. When this was happening, I was a passive observer elsewhere. My own life has gotten extremely complicated as of late, I can assure you.

And to my audience, I request no further riddles. I have too many in my everyday life as it is.