At Night

Another day gone, Nick thought to himself as he opened the door to his room. The room was fairly clean except for the corner near his bed where he threw his clothing, and his bed which he had given up making weeks ago. He sat down at his desk and rubbed his eyes.

“These meetings are going to be the death of me.” Nick mused to himself. He spent all day running from meeting to meeting, with barely enough time to eat and relax with his friends… he missed those days. They were always easier, but until a way home could be found those days wouldn’t return. But if we have to be here, he thought, I can spare the others of this bureaucracy. They really don’t deserve that torture.

A knock at his door cut off his train of thought. Nick walked over to the door and opened it. Standing there was Alex with two bowls of food and water.

“Oh hey Alex, come on in.”

“Thanks, I thought I’d bring you some food while I was in the cafeteria.” Alex handed Nick a bowl of venison stew as he entered. Nick closed the door behind him, and cleared off two places to sit at his desk. After being seated they began eating as they worked.

“Did you bring the sugar?” Nick asked his friend.

“Yeah, I didn’t know how much you wanted so I grabbed 5 pounds,” he said as he placed the bag of sugar on the desk.

“Thanks.” He put down the now empty bowl and picked up the sugar.  Alex, himself still eating, asked a valid question.

“Why do we need this again?”

“Well, remember the fortress and how we were forced to fight Fallor?”

“Yeah?”

“Well I hated that. As cold as he was I didn’t want to kill him. I still don’t. I think we went too far with how we treated him.”

“Okay? How does that explain why you need sugar?” Nick opened a drawer from his desk and began thumbing through his old merfolk deck.

“Well, we’ve all noticed that a lot of our spells are either similar to or exactly the same as magic cards.”

“Okay?”

“And I happened to remember the text of a card in my deck. Ah here it is.” He placed the card on the desk and read it to Alex. “A circle of sugar, and a word of forbiddance.”

“Okay, it’s an oblivion ring. Won’t that kill whoever gets hit by that, by sending them to the Eternities?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well in the game as long as oblivion ring is active whatever got exiled is gone, but when it leaves play for any reason whatever got removed returns, unharmed by the Blind Eternities.”

“So you think it protects them as well?”

“Yes, I think it creates a protective cell around the person, thus preventing harm to anyone.”

“Okay so you’re just going to make a ring, and then what?”

“I have to test it, and then hopefully refine it to where I won’t need sugar or the card, until it reaches the other form.”

“You mean the Esper one where it’s just light.”

“Yeah, anyway we both know Fallor isn’t dead. I don’t know what he’s planning, but this time if I have to fight him I will have a secret weapon.”

“So why do you need me for this?  I’m not going to be your guinea pig, not when the Eternities are involved.”

“I know, I just need you to summon a creature, take notes if you don’t mind, and be my back-up if the process is to draining.”

“Okay, let me get my laptop out.”

An hour later the two had cleared away the furniture to make room, and created a circle of sugar on the floor.

“Okay, so let’s start small with your summon.”

“So how ’bout… I know, I’ll do some dragon fodder.”

“Sounds good I have the card in my desk if you need it.”

“I’ll be fine.”  Alex stood there for a moment, light beginning to filter into the room from nowhere.  Then two goblins appeared in the center of the room where the light was.  Without wasting a moment Nick touched the ring that they were standing in and uttered a word of forbiddance.  The circle erupted in pink light.  Immediately one of the goblins flew from the ring and knocked its head against the wall.  The other one disappeared.

The light faded away and the circle was now etched in his floor.  Not touching the circle, Nick waved his hand through the open air inside and began dictating observational notes, as Alex, now sitting on the bed, typed them.

“Initial findings are as follows…”

1) The ring only allows one prisoner, any others that aren’t the target are immediately ejected.

Personal Note: This is good; this allows a margin of error that won’t risk harm to non-targets.

2) Once activated the sugar turns into a new marking on the floor.

Personal Note: This is good and bad. The etching on the floor protects the spell from breaking under environmental effects such as wind or water. It could be bad if I can’t break it.

3) The spell once active removes the spell to possibly the Eternities, thus allowing access to the used space.

Personal Note: This won’t hinder movement in a fight and it might confirm my suspicion that is also protects the target. Also I will need to talk to Tom or Lee to see if a planeswalker can escape it.

4) The spell has a minimal drain on the caster.

Personal Note: This may be a result of having a focal point I.E. the sugar. The card may have a similar effect. When I feel comfortable with it I will try it without sugar or card. This may increase the drain on the caster.

“Now let’s try the second step:  To…”

Nick was interrupted by an angry yell as the goblin in the room got up from the floor. He rushed Nick, who narrowly dodged the attacker’s unarmed blows. He ran to his desk and grabbed the Oblivion Ring card. He pointed it at the goblin and it disappeared. The card itself immediately flew to the ground where the goblin had been standing, and a small pink ring floated above the picture on the card.

Revised observational notes: When the card is used minimal drain also occurs.

Hours of research flew by as Nick ran multiple variations of the test, getting faster and refining it to the point where no focus was needed. He even learned that once broken the target returns unharmed. After each test the goblins were less angry, realizing that they weren’t being harmed. At one point Alex ran and brought back bread for the two creatures to eat. While they did, Nick made a declaration.

“I want you to cast it on me.”

“What? Why?”

“I need to see if a mage can affect it from the inside, and… I want see the Eternities.”

“No, that’s a terrible idea.”

“Come on, it clearly isn’t harming these two.” Nick points to the goblins that are devouring their, loafs of bread.

“But what if I can’t break the spell?”

“Alex look, you have my notes and the sugar. Just count to 500 and then break it. I have faith in you.”

“Okay.”

“Good.  Now let’s set up the circle, and remember to take notes if anything different occurs.”

“Okay.”

Alex poured the circle carefully around his friend and uttered a word. Within seconds he disappeared.

“One-one thousand.”

~#~#~#~

“What have I done?!” Nick yelled to himself. It was maddening. It was as Fallor and Tom described it. He pounded on the field; it rippled from each blow, but didn’t give. He tried to cast spells in the cell, but they all ended before even being cast. He was frantic now, the need to escape overwhelming. This place was too alien to be real, but it was. It somehow was. A story from a card game was real. The Eternities, the creatures, and maybe even…

“Oh no.” And as quickly as he entered he left returning to his room.

“Nick, Nick calm down.” Alex said for the ninth time. He’d been this way since he returned from the Eternities. He was just on edge, pacing the room in worry.

“I need to travel to another plane I have to find out if it’s true.”

This wasn’t like him at all. His guard down, his worry showing. It frankly frightened the 15 year old.

“Find out if what is true?” Nick stopped, his train of thought again broken. Realizing that he had forgotten to share his epiphany with the boy, he turned to Alex.

“If the creatures we summon from the game are real, and the spells are also similar to the game… then what if specific creatures are real? What if Sygg the river guide or Jaya Ballard are real too? Or worse what if Jace and Chandra are real? We have people that are planeswalkers why not Ajanni? What if they know we’re here already? Maybe it’s not the plane that’s giving us these things, but other planeswalkers that are observing us?”

“Whoa calm down Nick. Why is this frightening? Where did this idea come from?”

“I just made the leap. I was just thinking about the description Tom gave us and how it’s exactly like the plot.”

“Okay so why don’t you summon Sygg? Isn’t that safer than going to Lorwyn?”

“No, I have to go there… I need to see…”

Nick disappeared. No ring was formed, no spell was cast. He was just gone. And then he returned. Nick was silent.

“What happened?” Alex asked him. Nick only sat down at his desk. Contemplating.

“I was there…” He mumbled quietly to Alex. “I wanted to go there so bad and I willed it. I was there, I saw Sygg, the named merfolk of Lorwyn. He was guiding a small school of merrow, when a giant attacked. He glowed with power and blocked the blow like it was nothing. And then when the others left he just swam away. Then I was back here. I just wanted to go back, and I was here.”

“So that means…”

“Yeah, it’s true.  Even the named cards exist. It’s only a matter of time till we meet a planeswalker, and they might not be friendly. We might have to fight one if we do.”

“No, not that! You, you… this means you’re a planeswalker.”

“I guess so.”

“We have to tell the others.” Alex began rushing to the door.

“Alex – no, wait.” He bursts from his chair to stop him.

“What?”

“Don’t tell anyone. Not yet.”

“Why not?”

“If people find out then I will have to stop what I’m doing.”

“So?”

“So, I need to maintain my work. I can’t just dump my responsibilities on someone else.”

“But isn’t it more important that we have 3 planeswalkers than you doing administrative work?”

“No please, I’m asking you. Don’t tell anyone till I finish. When things settle down and our big concerns outside of getting home and Fallor are taken care of I’ll tell people.”

“But…”

“Please, I just need more time.”

“…okay… I promise.”

Thank you…”

“But! If things start going crazy again you need to come forward. Work finished or not.”

“Okay and here.” Nick thumbed through his spare cards and hands him one. “Keep it. It might come in handy until you master the spell.”

Alex took the Oblivion Ring.

“Thanks.”

“No problem and good night. I feel drained…”

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