"This is not my cup of tea."
"Oh come now, Dereleth, it's not that bad."
"I do not want it Haver, I would rather just get rid of it."
Vyras scowled beneath her hood at the two similarly hooded figures across the table from her. Guild attire was nothing if not egalitarian. Few dared wonder, and never in her presence, about what was under her robe. Not that being a female in the Shallow Guild, even a Brother, was any more unusual than being a werewolf; most of the Half Brothers were more curious as to what, exactly, was under Dereleth's robe. And she was certain that a few of the non-human wonderings did have a sexual component. Ahh, the eternal mysteries of the Guild.
Haver was looking intently back at her scowl. "Would you care to venture an opinion Vyras? Are we going to be pragmatic here and use every available resource at our disposal, as is our way? Or will you side with our puritanical..."
"Ahem, sane, fellow Brother and insist on leaving a good tool *outside* to rot." Haver added a menacing emphasis to the word; outside was exactly where it had been left almost eight hundred years ago to do just that: rot.
Vyras growled. "Do not patronize him, Brother. I know you happened upon it during one of your many briefings with Samas recently, so you should already know that Brother Dereleth and I put it outside to begin with."
Haver winced. When Vyras growled, she really did growl.
Dereleth, as he is wont to do, interjected diplomatically at this point. "Brother, having finally settled the Guildhall and taken stock of ourselves, we did agree to take an inventory of Friends and resources at our disposal. However, I assumed this meant we would explore the reasonable ones first, and save the unreasonable ones for a time of greater need."
"Greater need? I cannot imagine a time of greater need, beyond the last of course. All signs point to Faust still being out there" Haver turned his gaze back to Vyras.
"And as I recall it was during our last trouble with Faust that you took it upon yourself to let it out."
"That turned out just about as well as your decision to use Gate to rip us out of the fabric of reality." Vyras' nails dug into the solid oaken table between them.
Dereleth sighed. A difficult proposition for a Brother who didn't have lungs and, as far as anyone knew, may or may not have ever had them to begin with. "Haver is right, Vyras. If we do this together, this time, it should be controllable. Mostly."
Vyras sat at the center of her garden, legs folded in a full lotus position. Around her, brooks babbled (speaking of natural secrets to those with ears to listen) and grass whispered in the wind (best taken with a grain of salt). Tales passed from blade to blade of events across Khazan; the habits of grass constituting perhaps the world's oldest ongoing game of telephone. Vyras' cowl was thrown back, revealing extensive tribal tattoos. Of the three Brothers, Vyras possessed the greatest skill at Astral Travel and navigating the spheres of the Arcanus Obliques. The shaman's link to the Physical, as well as her lycanthrope blood's penchant for the visceral, helped Vyras maintain a firm footing in the Real and navigate according.
Vyras' breathing slowed, and she rose up out of her body. For those with eyes to See, her Astral formed resembled a great silver wolf with four human hands at the end of shaggy feet. A thin golden cord ran from the beast's chest to the solar plexus of her physical body.
The silver wolf loped up and *out* of the Astral plane, passing the natural reflections of the brooks (looking very much like their physical counterparts, but closer the Astral reflection of the brooks seethed not with current but with movement. Mercurial crayfish, wound about and through each other, drops of water scurrying over and around each other to the sea, to the golden clouds, and back again forever) and the grass (tiny gnomes, grassy green beards swishing in the Astral Winds, holding hands, whispering, smiling, giggling), the thin golden cord stretching longer and longer as she moved further away from her physical body. *Out,* and through the Ethereal planes, full of ghosts and their dusty dreams. It was here that Dereleth met her, his Brother's cloak and cowl wrapped around his unknown form; held tighter here than even in the physical plane. No thin golden cord stretched out behind his form as Vyras' did. Understanding passed between them without even the need for the Voice, and Dereleth grasped two of her hands as she ran by without slowing. There is no physical sensation in the Ethereal realm, but hidden beneath the folds of Dereleth's cuffs, Vyras would have to say her own hands/paws were gravely cold.
Vyras ran quickly through the Arcanus Obliques, avoiding the Psychic Plane, winding around the Elemental, and *out* again into the darkness outside the planes. She crashed through here faster and faster, never slowing, as Things moved in the nothingness Outside. Massive things, larger than even Vyras' mind could encompass, hungry things eternally pursing insane appetites. Fighting, consuming, being consumed by each other, eternally, and occasionally gorging themselves on those unfortunates who find themselves, lost or cast, Outside.
Although the Outside was beyond darkness, beyond sight, beyond sense, Vyras had been here before. She could navigate; she was a Traveler. She found the bubble she had helped create for the Guild so long ago, and slipped around it into the Temporal Plane, careful not to pierce it.
A bubble of Outside, pinched and sealed and pushed into the Temporal Plane, where everything is eternal and nothing ever changes. The eternal Plane of the past is stone, a perfect prison around a cell of the Outside. Vyras spoke quietly with the Voice to her passenger.
Dereleth, the great Diplomat, opened his mind to the denizen of the Outside the Guild had trapped within this prison. Gibbering insanity, hunger, and sickness vomited forth: thick, viscous, meant to drown the mind of those that could not accept it and to fill until bursting those that could. Of course, Dereleth had played this game before.
Dereleth and the one from Outside dealt. No words were, or could, be exchanged as most would know them.
*Freedom* _Nothing_ *The Shallow Guild* _Anger__Hatred_ *Opportunity* _Lies__Again_ *To Lose?* _Nothing__To Gain?_ *Reprieve* _What_ *Acquisition* *Probation* _Laughter_
Time does not move in the Temporal plane; in the same instant that Dereleth began, he finished, and spoke back to Vyras.
"It is agreed. If we put a small 'window' to the Real in the cell, it will act on our command."
"That's it? What did it want in return?"
"Freedom, to do what it wants otherwise, to indulge its own ends after so long apart."
Elongation: standard (rank 1)
Haver waited with Samas in the courtyard of the Guildhall. It was empty of anyone else; behind them the Oaken Door of the Guildhall was barred, as were the many doors leading out of the courtyard. Haver looked as he always did, aloof, pretentious, knowing, but in his eyes was the sparkle of anticipation. Such a small change in countenance would be unnoticed by most, but the Guild Librarian was more observant than everyone, let alone most. Samas made a mental note (as all his notes were) of the look. As usual, a fool's errand. Samas would have advised the Brothers against releasing even the tiniest part of whatever was in that prison, but no one had asked him as usual. As usual Haver had just been interested in his records, and, as usual, Samas was called to be on hand to record the results. Samas sensed the Reach moments before it burst into the Real.
Haver, of course, knew it was coming long before then. Samas' magical ability was by no means paltry, but one did not become a Brother with that level of ability. He turned to Samas at just the moment when he knew Samas would know.
"I hope you're getting all this."
Samas replied drolly, "Of course," his eyes not leaving the spot where he sensed it coming.
The Reach was a tentacle, a small one. One moment there was nothing in the courtyard but the Brother and the Librarian, and the next they were joined by a rather unimpressive undulating limb, its suction cup vainly lipping the hard packed soil of the courtyard. Samas turned to Haver.
"That's it? The records were certainly spotty (a slight sneer here) of the original Sealing, but I expected more than this."
Of course, the Reach took that very moment to stretch out towards Samas. Growing, expanding, stretching out to over five meters and rearing up like a snake. Grasping. Seeking.
The Reach II
Regeneration: superior (rank 2)
Samas leapt back from the Reach. For Samas, of course, a leap brought him up to the top of the long staircase behind him, his black wings furling against his back again. The Reach kept coming, smashing a wooden candelabra at the base of the steps. As the splinters fell quietly to the ground, Samas gathered his power and lashed out at the beast. A two foot section of the tentacle yielded grudgingly to his will, exploding and splattering the steps with black ichor.
"Useful, wouldn't you say Samas?" Haver sounded pleased.
"Indeed Brother Haver. Peak human strength and mass, surprising elasticity."
In the moments this short exchange was taking place, the Reach grew its loss, stretching back out to its full length without pause and continuing towards Samas.
"Impressive regeneration as well." Samas began to gather his power around himself again. "If you're satisfied with this test, would you mind ending it?"
The Reach of the Guild
Mental Defense: superior (rank 2)
Haver stepped towards the Reach, unfurling his will and revealing the power he had hidden well since he and Samas had entered the courtyard. No need to reveal the depths of his ability until he was quite certain of how much of the creature would fit through the small hole his fellow Brothers had created in the prison, especially considering what had happened when Vyras had last used it during the Guild's past emergency. More so than power, one did not become a Brother without an abundance of caution.
"No worries Samas. This is but the smallest manifestation of whatever it actually is. We could cut it down all day, and we would still have a functionally infinite amount of reach to extend the Guild's will however we d like. Better than an army. I suspect that was Vyras' idea when she let it out on a less structured work release program last time."
Even as Samas lashed out with his will to cut the tentacle down again, Haver was faster. His will barreled forward, powerful and focused, like a freight train of intention, to ensnare the Guild's new Reach. Samas' power dissipated against Haver's with a pop. Haver paid it no mind; he was already wrapping the prisoner's manifestation in the Real with a powerful Geas. Wrapped like a spider, commands written with will. The Reach would follow its agreement with Dereleth. It would do the Guild's will when the Guild demanded it and let nothing interfere or change its mission. Its mind would be unknowable and its link to the Guild untraceable. It would be free to pursue its own desires in the Real otherwise, and if it served usefully and faithfully it may even someday be elevated from prisoner to Friend.