Mirror mirror, tall you loom
Sealed forever in the gloom
Of your lightless, prison room
Lest two worlds should meet their doom

  ~Unknown




Whitedeath Palace: ancestral home of the ruling family and their servants for the past many thousands of years. It has been around as long as the Whitedeaths have been, like a mighty beacon on the cliffs overlooking the vast, endless North Sea. It has loomed unendingly in light and darkness, warning ships of the looming shore and giving sanctuary to the people in times of war. Where it casts its gaze, it sees, and when it decrees, the world shakes. It is one of the finest structures in the world, and not only because of those who live within it.

Many believe the palace has always stood as a light of hope in a dark world, and they don’t know how right and how wrong they are. The palace, though the architecture is undeniably human, was not built by men. In truth, the first settlers to ever reach the coast found the castle standing alone one the cliffs, with torches still in the sconces and only a few hours dead. Some say it was built by the gods. Some say it grew out of the rock. Some say it was inhabited until the day before men arrived. And the wildest legends say that when the settlers crested the last hill and finally saw the castle and the sea, they saw sails in the east, vanishing into the rising sun. But one thing is indisputable. The castle is old, older than any single man can comprehend.

While its origins may never be known, there are still clues that keep the mystery alive. Shadows falling out of place in hallways, secret passages leading to rooms filled with sand, and then there are… the vaults. Hidden throughout the darkest depths of the dungeon lies expertly hidden storerooms with a single object or word carved in stone locked within each one. These vaults are rare, and their hiding spots follow no known pattern or reason. And every time one is found, disaster is the consequence. Searching for such vaults was made into a crime punishable in the first century of the Whitedeath Dynasty, immediately after a ten year drought accompanied by storms raining boiling lead. The last one was opened, and subsequently sealed, four and a half thousand years ago.

Guess what Pen just found?

(OOC: First half of my introductory post. Split in half so it's not overwhelming. Part two soon.)

The room was dark, and silent, and had been that way for more years than were countable. No moisture entered, no air escaped. It was perfectly sealed and utterly black. A prison like no other. And with an echoing crack, millennia of silence were broken by one man’s ill fated curiosity.

A large brick shifted in the wall of the prison in time with the crack, shifting in place and sending a thin film of dust drifting to the floor. Silence overcame the room once more, then a louder crack rang out, more forceful this time, but still as ineffective as the initial blow. The silence returned warily, and had almost settled completely again, when a sharp hum sounded through the wall, and suddenly a massive boom smashed into the wall, shattering mortar and sending stone blocks that hadn’t moved since they were placed tumbling to the floor of the prison and allowing streaks of torchlight to fall into the room, randomly checker-boarding the floor with reddish light. A shadow passed over one of the holes left by a missing stone, then a final boom resounded and the wall crumbled, falling inward in a cloud of dust, mortar, and stone chips that skittered across the floor like fleeing mice.

Pen covered his mouth with his sleeve and coughed forcefully into it, “Oh gods, hack, note to self, cough, old things are dusty. Bring a kerchief, wheeze, next time.” Before the dust completely settled from the air the adventuring bard lifted the torch held in one hand and poked it through the jagged hole he’d created in the wall, illuminating the interior with its fiery glow. He squinted furiously and squeezed inside, ducking his head and coughing again as he stepped onto the smooth, featureless floor.

While exploring the biographical archives, as he always did on Thursdays, Pen had found a dirty piece of velum with a short paragraph written on it. He’d laughed at the idea of it when he realized it was a note from a criminal in the dungeon fifteen years ago, complaining about his accommodations. As he read on though, his laughter ebbed. The criminal complained about the back wall in particular, creaking slightly whenever he slept in the bed bolted to it. And more sobering still, he complained of nightmares whenever he slept against that wall, and ONLY that wall. Doing a bit more digging on a whim, Pen discovered the inmate’s complaint had been ignored and he’d lived in that cell for two more years, slowly developing acute paranoia about the wall, and eventually dying of blood loss and infection when he tried to attack the wall with his bare hands, overpowering any guard that tried to stop him. He died sobbing, screaming about the dark world inside the wall.

His morbid curiosity piqued, Pen had found the cell, and indeed felt a faint magical essence leaking through the wall, though nothing to drive a man to madness. He knocked on the wall and felt nothing, but when he sat on the wooden bed attached to the wall to think he heard the unmistakable sound of settling stone, which should have been impossible since the dungeon was carved from the living bedrock. So, he did what any wizard worth his testosterone would do. He knocked that wall down darn it! Bringing him to his current situation.

As the dust settled, Pen opened his eyes fully and shamelessly gawked at the sight he beheld. The room was a nondescript cube, fifteen feet to a side, polished to a glossy, smooth blackness on every surface. The six flat planes were so smooth and glossy in fact that he could see his reflection in any one of them. In the center of the floor though, absorbing his attention, stood a simple mirror. It was eight feet tall and four wide, with a flat glass surface and a dark wooden frame. As he took in the sight of the room, Pen’s mind clicked away, making notes he would copy down into his notebook later. Focusing in on different details individually, it took him a woefully long time to notice one particular detail that made his jaw drop. Seeing his reflection in the floor was a normal enough thing. NOT seeing it in the mirror, was not.

“No,” He muttered, stepping toward the mirror, “That’s just not possible. A stationary illusion spell just can’t last as long as this place has been sitting here.” He stopped just two feet from the mirror, staring at the inky blackness inside it. He looked around the edges, trying to find… something, but then a light appeared in the middle of the mirror. Startled, Pen jumped a bit and watched as more squares of light appeared until they finally broke into a single jagged ring of light with a silhouette in the center. A familiar silhouette. In fact, as Pen glanced over his shoulder, he saw the same scene, only without the silhouette. The hole in the wall was the exact same shape, so the silhouette must be...

Pen’s eyes bulged and he whipped around. His reflection looked right back at him, looking exactly the same but for black hair instead of blonde. Other than that, it was a perfect reflection. The facial expression was the same, the background was the same, the torch was the same, the shirt and trousers were the same, even the tilt of his head was the same. If not for the man in the mirror’s black beard and hair, Pen would have sworn he had been hallucinating when he hadn’t seen himself before.

He closed an eye and the reflection copied him. Then he lifted a hand and waved and the mirror, well, mirrored him. Nothing strange besides the hair, and such a simple illusion spell could, if well powered when it was cast, last for quite a long time. Pen was reassuring himself this was a good idea, opening this tomb, but something nagged at the back of his head. The dark world inside the wall.

He glanced over his shoulder again, almost afraid he’d find the wall rebuilding itself as he stood there, but it still lay in rubble; a barrier meant to last forever that he had brought down. That thought, coupled with a sudden sense of doom, made him shudder as he turned back. And then true fear washed over him. His reflection no longer mimicked him. Instead, it just stared at him, grinning savagely like a predator. “What are you?” Pen whispered, staring at his own face contorted in evil joy. The visage seemed to point through the mirror at Pen’s chest, as if he meant to say “you,” but that was not the reflection’s intent at all.

All in an instant, the mirror bulged out in the shape of a hand and Pen tried to leap back, but it caught his hand and pulled. He tried to yell in terror, but as he hit the mirror’s surface, his eyes connecting with his reflection’s, everything went black and silent.


Pen jerked awake and leapt to his feet, looking around wildly. He was still in the vault, and had been sitting on the floor with his back to the mirror.

The mirror!

He spun around and saw himself looking back, still grinning evilly, then it slowly turned around, clearly laughing though Pen couldn’t hear him, and walked away, squeezing through the hole in the wall, and vanishing. Pen’s breathing was fast and hard, and he stared in confusion and terror for minutes, until he finally lost it and leaned over, retching like he’d swallowed torch oil.

What was happening!?

_  OOC: Well. So much for trying to shorten my intro post. Oh well! I wonder who will come looking for Pen (Mirror Pen, really, but they've got ours now. And remember, moralities are basically switched in the Mirror world, so if Pen tries to be a benevolent, good person in our world…)_

Kariska strolled into the dark room wearing tight fitting white clothes, blonde hair tucked neatly into a small ponytail and boomed jovially, "Hey there Pentus! What have you been up to this time?" He made a face at the smell of puke and said, "Ye gods, man! What happened here??" He laughed and shook his head, pointing at the puke and moving it to a different area of the room. He sobered somewhat and said, "Your shenanigans have been getting out of hand, Pen. You have to stop turning everyone into a toad that you don't like." He made another face. "It's kinda gross." Kariska chuckled and helped Pentus upright and then frowned. "What did you do to your hair?" His green eyes sparkled with amusement. "Finally abandoned the black, eh? No matter, you should get yourself cleaned up. I'm supposed to help you…"Kariska's voice trailed off and he looked at Pentus worriedly. "Is something amiss? You don't seem your usual irritable self....."

Pen groaned and rubbed his head. He'd only found this room a couple minutes ago but he was already getting a splitting headache from the confusion, worry, and, oh yeah, terror this place was causing him.

"Hey there Pentus! What have you been up to this time?"

The fact that it was Kariska speaking didn't quite click in Pen's head right away in his current state and he simply groaned in discomfort.

"Your shenanigans have been getting out of hand, Pen. You have to stop turning everyone into a toad that you don't like."

Toads? Wha? He groaned again, recognizing the acidic scent of vomit rising from where he'd splashed his feet. Ew. He mechanically allowed Kariska to help him to his feet, still not clicking as to who it was helping him.

"What did you do to your hair? Finally abandoned the black, eh? No matter, you should get yourself cleaned up. I'm supposed to help you…" Kariska paused and Pen looked him in the face, staring blankly at him. Still didn't click, "Is something amiss? You don't seem your usual irritable self….."

Pen stared, and stared some more, until finally… click!

"AAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!" Pen screamed like a little girl as what he assumed to be the lord of darkness helped him stand, "Get away from me! Don't eat my heart! I like it where it is! This is your mirror, isn't it!?"

Kariska took a step back, alarmed. "In the name of all that's holy! What has gotten into you, Pentus McBladen?? Why in Kalina's name would I eat your heart? I've never seen that mirror in my life, either!" He shook his head, some of his blonde hair coming loose of its ponytail. He scrutinized Pen's face with concern in his green eyes. "You are not acting normal. Do you mind if I examine your mind to see if you have been enchanted? I don't want to invade your privacy by searching your mind, but you are acting strange. You never scream and normally you would be yelling at me by now and saying you were fine."

"You're asking before you rape my brain!? Who are you and where's the real Kariska!? And… wait, all that's holy? What on Earth are you...
...
...
...
Ohhhhhhhh. I get it." Pen nodded slowly as his mind struggled to explain what he was experiencing. -Kariska acting nice and being respectful, and apparently he's not even evil. That could only mean, I'm still unconscious. This is one of those lucid dreams. Cool! I love those!- He shook his head and shoved Kariska off him. "Er, yes! That's right, I am fine. Now get off me you... holy... ponytail wearing... freak." Having determined that this was a dream, Pen started to calm down and began to slip into the part he was expected to play in this dream. Judging by his dream's representation of Kariska, he was supposed to be an angry jerk. He could do that. Just think of uppity noblemen asking him to sing twenty songs at once at a giant feast. His mouth twisted in a snarl at the unpleasant memory and he directed it at Kariska, "What are we still standing here for? Slacking Kariska? Maybe there's one more person I need to turn into a toad." He started to stalk toward the hole in the wall and the dungeon beyond, but his angry facade was flawed by his eager, quick steps. No matter how certain he became that this was all a dream, that mirror still terrified him.

Kariska eyed Pentus and watched his facial expression change from confusion to his normal sneer. He was returning to normal, but that strange mirror obviously had effected him in some way. Pen wasn't acting normal and his abrupt change was obviously fake. Kariska projected his thoughts as well as said quietly, "Pentus McBladen, or whoever you are, come back here. What is that mirror and why are you acting so strange? I am averse to invading someone's privacy but I will delve into your mind, with or without our permission to get to the bottom of this enigma." Kariska formed a telekinetic barrier to the entrance and said, "Now, why are you acting strange. I prefer for you to tell me instead of me having to as you put it 'rape your brain'."

Pentus stalked up the hole in the wall confidently, aaaand… whump. Pen faceplanted right into Kariska's telekinetic shield, almost breaking his nose he was walking so briskly.

"Pentus McBladen, or whoever you are, come back here. What is that mirror and why are you acting so strange? I am averse to invading someone's privacy but I will delve into your mind, with or without our permission to get to the bottom of this enigma. Now, why are you acting strange. I prefer for you to tell me instead of me having to, as you put it, 'rape your brain'."

Pen wrinkled his face and rubbed his nose with a vigor. -Ow. Hold up, that hurt. How could it hurt? This a dream… right? Oh gods, what have I done this time?"

He turned to Kariska, still cross-eyed and rubbing his nose, "You could have warned me before I did that you know." He shook his head and uncrossed his eyes, folding his arms over his chest and pointedly looking at Kariska and NOT the mirror behind him. "I guess it's a waste of both our time to keep thinking I'll wake up from this bad dream?... sigh I thought so. Well, I'm afraid I've got about as many answers as you do. I just found that, gulp, mirror, looked into it, and my reflection pulled me, though it, I suppose. At least that's as good an answer as any. I think he might have switched places with me actually, which is slightly annoying. And as for me acting strange, I think I'll just ask you the same thing. Why is the Lord of Darkness and Evil using the Light goddess's name and... wearing a ponytail. Sorry but I just can't get over that. It looks so... weird."

Kariska chuckled a little, revealing perfectly straight, white teeth. "Normally, you would have expected that, as I'm the one who keeps you in rein, but these circumstances are not normal." He scratched his chin with a rounded nail and narrowed his green eyes as Pen talked. "Pentus, I'm acting as I always do. And I've always wore my hair in a ponytail, it keeps it out of my face when I'm working in the temple to Kalina. And the High Priest to her, I believe that gives me a right to invoke her name. AND WHY IN HER NAME WOULD YOU CALL ME THE LORD OF DARKNESS!????!!" He thundered, but immediately calmed down. "This is very confusing. May I delve into your mind to ascertain what has transpired?"

Pen clapped his hands and pointed triumphantly at Kariska, "Yes! That's more like the Kariska I regret knowing! You're always yelling, and brain raping, and getting cross with people before you butcher them by the thousands, and… and... Um... Wow, I suddenly have the sense I'm kinda lucky to still be alive after meeting you even once. Anyway! I suppose if it will help, you may have a peek at my memories, but if I end up thinking I'm a sheep I will graze that ponytail right off your head." He leaned forward, showing Kariska the top of his head, though he knew that had no effect on the process. It was more for show.

Kariska shook his head. "You are making no sense right now, Pentus. You should know how much I detest killing and delving into people's minds. Besides, I'm the High Priest of Kalina, that in itself should speak of my character. The Goddess would never allow the person of whom you speak to become her most trusted servant." Kariska released his form, showing his true form. His hair become strands of clear water and his green eyes glowed with kindness and some concern for Pentus. Kariska went into Pen's mind, absorbing what he saw.  His breath quickened when he saw himself through Pen's mind, but continued until he came to when he discovered the room. He watched in silence until he came up to the present moment. He receded out of Pen's mind and rocked back on his heels, somewhat in shock. He looked at Pen. "You're very much Pen, but a very different Pen than the one I have known. You've either suffered some sort of spell, or something very odd is going on…" He began pacing. "Why do I have flaming hair and electric eyes in your mind? I've always had liquid hair and green eyes in my true form. Pentus, I do believe you've discovered an inter-dimensional portal...in here...it's like...." Kariska groaned and covered his face with his hands before saying, "Pentus....you've opened a vault! I don't know how we're going to fix this. Our world needs our Pentus just as yours needs you. We'll have to work together." He ran a hand through his hair. "We can't let anyone know or the Queen will have both our heads, regardless of our station. I'll need to give you some of my memories so that you know how to act and what you're currently doing. Will you let me in once more? I can just explain it to you as I understand your reluctance to let me into your mind." Kariska shuttered. "I am absolutely horrid in your reality..."

Pentus sucked in a breath and stepped back as Kariska revealed his true form. "Sweet, Mother of the night! How? Buh? Wha?" He shuddered and hunched his shoulders, squinting at the high priest, "Who the Hell are y-ah-ha-ha-ha-haa!" His deep, menacing accusatory question petered off into giggles as his mind was probed with shocking gentleness. "Hee-hee-hee! That tickles!" He exclaimed.

"You're very much Pen, but a very different Pen than the one I have known. You've either suffered some sort of spell, or something very odd is going on… Why do I have flaming hair and electric eyes in your mind? I've always had liquid hair and green eyes in my true form. Pentus, I do believe you've discovered an inter-dimensional portal...in here...it's like... Pentus... you've opened a vault! I don't know how we're going to fix this. Our world needs our Pentus just as yours needs you. We'll have to work together."

Pentus scoffed, "A vault? Don't be silly. I'm Pentus! I would know if I… opened... a..." The bard slowly gazed around the room, observing the expertly smoothed walls, floor, and ceiling, then forced himself to look at the mirror again, sitting all alone in the room's center, like a prisoner.

His face paled at a record setting speed and he managed to croak out, "Work together? You say?"

"We can't let anyone know or the Queen will have both our heads, regardless of our station. I'll need to give you some of my memories so that you know how to act and what you're currently doing. Will you let me in once more? I can just explain it to you as I understand your reluctance to let me into your mind. I am absolutely horrid in your reality…"

"Kiara? But Kiara wouldn't hurt a flea. And besides, the court loves me," Pen complained sadly. He waved a hand, giving his consent, "Yes, do what you can… and I'm afraid you really, really are. Sorry."

Kariska slid into Pen's mind once again. Everything he felt while they were connected, Pentus would feel. In order to give memories, a deep connection had to be made. He took a deep breath and said, "Ready yourself. This can be an unsettling experience which will be heightened by you seeing who you are in my dimension." Kariska reached into his own memories and brought out one. "This memory is to show you your personality. As it is my memory, it will be shown through my eyes and you will hear my thoughts…"

_Kariska reached down and grabbed a fallen volume. "Hmm, can't damage this one. It's a valuable record." He looked around, revealing the inside of the Temple of Kalina. A man in white robes scurried up, robes flapping. "Ah, Brother Dargon, how are you today?" Dargon bowed and said, "High Priest–" The memory suddenly began moving faster until it came to a different scene in the same room. Kariska was facing a man with black hair and a black beard. Kariska thought, "What does he want now?" Then said in a cordial voice, "Ah, Pentus, what do you need?" Pentus' upper lip curled and he sneered. "I don't need anything. The Queen told me that she wanted you to help me with my next project." Kariska wanted very much to roll his eyes but he stayed polite. "Very well. May I offer you some wine?" Pentus walked forward. "Yes, you may." Kariska poured the wine and handed him a chalice. Pen took a sip then pulled a face. He spat it on the ground, splattering Kariska's pure white robes. Kariska hid his distaste and telekinetically took the chalice from Pentus before he could dash it to the ground. Pen stalked away, growling, "That's weak wine. Anyway, you will come over to my work area at three o clock tomorrow." As soon as he was gone, Kariska changed his robes and got a servant to clean up his mess.

The memory went blank and it showed Kariska standing in the throne room of the palace. Vikenti was slouched in his chair and Kiara was pointing imperiously at Kariska. "I don't care whether you're the High Priest to Kalina or not! You will assist Pentus!" Kariska sighed and said, "Very well."

"Sorry about that, I got distracted…"

The memory went blank again and opened back with Kariska watching Pen make enchantments upon an axe on a table in the middle of a field. Kariska then applied a psychic power to it, and it exploded. Pentus slashed his hand in the air and swore violently. "By the Seventh Plain this is hard!" Kariska shuddered at his carelessness in invoking the name of the Seventh Plain._

Kariska showed him several more memories of them working on axes, with the same result, with differing strength. At one point, they made a crater a mile wide. Kariska slid out of Pen's mind and said, "We're making an enchanted axe for Kiara. With your enchantment, the axe will be able to float, and fight on its own. It's meant for the throne room to follow Kiara's will. I am supposed to impart some psychic power and intelligence so that it can ascertain threats and kill it, but it will also follow Kiara's thoughts. It sounds horrible but there have been several assassination attempts recently and it's actually a decent idea for defense. Doubtless, Kiara will use it to chop off the heads of people she's displeased with but…" Kariska shrugged. "...we were just commissioned to make it, and so we are."

Pen shuddered and shook himself as new memories played out in his mind. He watched Kariska reluctantly agree to help… Pen, with Kiara's sentinel axe. He had trouble reconciling the people he saw with the one's he knew. Kiara sounded like a tyrant, and Vik looked like, well, a lumpy sack of potatoes. But he; himself! The Pentus from this world was... was... uncomfortably familiar. He looked almost like how Pen looked when he lost his temper, times ten though, and it was definitely the same man he'd seen in the mirror. He couldn't help but scoff though. He was obviously not very adept at. Another difference between them.

He rubbed his temples and sighed with relief when the visions ended, "Oh boy, that was uncomfortable. Do I seriously act that way here? I'm so... boorish! I act like, well, you, from my world. Well, almost." He cupped his chin and played with his beard point, "Curious though. A man who's bad with magic would never be hired to build the queen's death-servant axe. I should like to investigate that." He looked squarly at Kariska and frowned, "Aw yes, speaking of which. I'm not sure I can help you with said project. That's not to say I couldn't enchant such an object, and with your help give it a mind, and that's not to say I don't love a good experiment, but I really don't belong in this world. I should try to affect it as little as possible while I'm stuck here. Actually, I should probably stay down here and try to-" He looked at the mirror and the dread washed over him again, "Forget it, let's get out of here. We got an axe to build."

OOC: Sorry for the transportation god-mod. I figured you wouldn't have a problem with it as we were just moving to the field. Tell me if you want it changed.

BIC:Kariska nodded and said, "Very well. We can discuss ways to repair this rift while we work." He frowned and added, "And you're not bad with magic. You're extremely adept in it. It's just the difficulty with combining psychic power and magic. The psychic power changes the magic in odd ways, causes a levitation spell to blow up a field." He motioned to the wall and repaired it perfectly, saying, "No one can know what has transpired. You can act normally around me, but you must keep up a perfect facade otherwise. Now, to the matter at hand, I can transport us both to the field that we're working in." Kariska's true form became somewhat stronger as he transported them to the field. There was a table in the middle of the field that looked brand new, but the surrounding earth was devastated. The surrounding radius was just burnt dirt for about twenty feet and then faded into burned and scorched grass for fifty feet before it looked green again. Kariska warned Pen, "Watch out for fragments. We've, that is the other Pen and I, have gotten a lot of metal shards stuck in our feet numerous times. Kariska strode forward and called over his shoulder, I'll summon some axes." He held up his hand and summoned a pile of axes taller than he was. He turned and shrugged. "This should last us at least an hour, maybe two. While you pick a spell, the ones we've gone through, about seven hundred, have an asterisk by them. Those spell books contain only levitation spells. Each book contains two thousand. They're so numerous because of the different ways to levitate something. While you choose a spell and I prepare the amount of intelligence, we can discuss the possibilities of righting this problem."

Pen nodded in agreement at Kariska's suggestion, then stroked his beard a second time, "Oh? Difficult, is it? Hmm. I've tried something… reasonably similar to this before, though I never really gave the object true sentience. More like I gave it enough commands that it wouldn't walk off a cliff. Still, this can't be much more difficult."

He closed his eyes to avoid getting dizzy (he still felt like vomitting being this close to the mirror) as Kariska transported them. He opened his eyes again and raised his eyebrows, slowly turning a full circle to take in the scorched earth and blackened landscape. "Errr, then again, maybe it can be more difficult."

"Watch out for fragments. We've, that is the other Pen and I, have gotten a lot of metal shards stuck in our feet numerous times. I'll summon some axes."

Pen lifted his arms and laced his fingers together, bending them to create a distinct popping sound as he licked his lips, "All righty then! Let's get to-" He cut off as the small mountain of axes materialized beside the lonely workbench. "-Mother of the night," He said incredulously, "Are we supplying an army, or is it really THAT hard?"

"This should last us at least an hour, maybe two. Pick a spell; the ones we've gone through, about seven hundred, have an asterisk by them. Those spell books contain only levitation spells. Each book contains two thousand. They're so numerous because of the different ways to levitate something. While you choose a spell and I prepare the amount of intelligence, we can discuss the possibilities of righting this problem."

The bard stepped up to the workbench and picked a book at random from the small stack. He flipped through it and it seemed like there were at least five asterisks on any given page. He let out a long, heavy sigh, "This certainly seems… promising. I suppose this could be fun though. I haven't 'almost blown myself apart' in about a week. I'm certainly due." Deciding to gauge the difficulty of this endeavour, Pen picked both a spell and an axe at random and started casting, enveloping the axe in a faint but steady violet glow as he enchanted it, "Sooooo... got any ideas how I could get back? Conceivably I could pass through the mirror if my doppelganger was touching it as well, but I doubt he'll be back in that vault any time soon."

Kariska actually took a sip of water from his hair before saying, "That's what our Pentus thought at first. It's turning out to be very difficult. Still, we don't want her to let lose her powerful beasts upon us. Even between the two of us, we would only have a twenty-five percent chance of survival against the horrors she has caged up." Kariska watched him begin the spell and said, "However, we have to consider that the other Pen is just as confused as you are right now. We also must assume that since we are mirror universes that everything happening here, is happening there in another form or fashion. Meaning my other self has met your other self. Two completely evil beings…the chaos they could havoc." When Kariska got agitated in his true form, strange things happened. Normally, electricity flew from his eyes this time however....emeralds began popping out of his eyes. He caught several quarters sized ones and began juggling them as he thought. "We could study the mirror in the vault, determine how it creates the rift and create a singular time-space rift of our own. This times-space rift will have to be made in such a way that as soon as you step through it, not only do you go into your world, but the other Pentus is pulled back to ours. An automatic switch. We'll have to destroy the evidence of the spell from both sides afterwards, to prevent the spell from being discovered again and used to misplace either of us, or anyone else for that matter." Kariska smiled at Pen. "Although, I must say, I do prefer you over the other Pen. I wish I could keep you." He winked and asked, "You almost done there?"

Pen looked sidelong at Kariska and managed a smirk. Now that there were a few leagues between him and the mirror he was feeling much better. Now he was still flustered, confused, and irritated, but not nearly as much so as when he’d been in the shadow of that accursed mirror, “I can imagine having me as company must be the highlight of an otherwise dull life; dull compared to meeting myself at any rate.” He lifted a hand and stroked his hair back, grinning snobbishly.

He looked down at the axe and made a few mental alterations to the spell, then dropped the enchantment and turned to his water haired compatriot again, “As for the mirror, I don’t know if the solution is going to be as forthcoming as that. I admit I have absolutely no experience with the subject, but it seems to me that if I know about my mirrored-self, and anticipate what he will do, and then base my actions off of that, that would end the balance between the two of us. I would do things different compared to him, so our actions based off each other’s would create different… stuff; and... Oh gods, my head hurts. Let’s just get this axe finished so I can examine this problem some more. Did your Pen have a study I could use?” Stepping back from the table, Pen gestured to the seemingly inert axe, wondering just what was about to happen.

Kariska nodded. "Yes, his study is in the west wing of the palace, and your living quarters are attached." Kariska grimaced and said, "Whether or not your personalities are different, you have the same core. Thus, if you try to anticipate what he does, then you must assume that he has arrived at the same conclusion and will do the same. There's a reason why they are called "Mirror-Universes"." Kariska took a deep breath and said, "I suggest you shield yourself." Kariska probed the axe mentally and then began to feed it psychic essence, the axe steadily emitting a bluish-green glow. The axe quivered and then began to hover. It turned upright and pivoted left to right, as if looking around. Kariska felt a disturbance and groaned. "Oh Gods, here we go again. PEN! SHIELD!" He formed an X with his arms, a shield of psychic power surrounding him. The glow flared and then dissipated. For a second, silence pervaded valley, and then a massive explosion rent the air in a flash of purple, green and blue. Debris was flung everywhere and Kariska found himself thrown back at least three hundred yards before landing on the ground and bouncing another hundred to a stop. His shield had protected him, but he was very dizzy. He staggered up and called out drunkenly, "Peeenttuaiss? Wheeeerrree rrrrrr uuuuuh?" He shook his head and called out again, this time with better success. "Pen? You ok? Where are you?"

“Whether or not your personalities are different, you have the same core. Thus, if you try to anticipate what he does, then you must assume that he has arrived at the same conclusion and will do the same. There's a reason why they are called Mirror-Universes."

Pen furrowed his brow and considered this, “Agreed, but that would only be if key things were identical. The environment seems to be the same in both worlds, from what I’ve seen anyway, as does the ranking structure, so titles and rank shouldn’t affect things, but…”Pen chewed his lower lip for a minute, “Tell me Kariska, how was I, Pen, err, your me, treated? I very much want to get back to my world, but do you think he wants the same?”

"Oh Gods, here we go again. PEN! SHIELD!"

Pen glanced at Kariska curiously, getting drawn out of his thoughts. The priest was crossing his arms in front of him and Pen followed his gaze to the axe. Physically, it looked like it was just glowing oddly, excusing the fact it was hovering, but through his well developed psychic sense gained from using magic most of his life, or his “third eye,” Pen saw the energy suffusing the axe bubbling and writhing like a mass of cosmic porridge about to explode with a fury.

“Oh, sheets.”

And then it exploded…

...with a fury.

Pen had less than a second to react, so he did what came naturally. He shouted, channeling a surge of magic into his voice. A thunderclap burst from his mouth to meet the explosive shockwave roaring at him and negated some of the force as the two magical fronts collided, but that still left a lot of force smashing into him when the wave reached Pen, a millisecond after it was created. It socked him like a wall and the bard was sent flying back a hundred fifty feet. Two things Pen noticed before he collided with the ground again: I taste copper, and lots of it and This. Really. Hurts. Luckily, when he landed, Pen was already blacked out, possibly with a concussion.


A few minutes later, Pen’s eyes dragged themselves open and he whimpered in pain, sitting up successfully after two failed attempts and some coarser than usual swearing. He wiped the blood from his chin and cheeks, spitting out what was still in his mouth and cringing at the ache all over his body. A lesser man would have had the sense to sit still until either help or a gravedigger arrived, but Pen had blown himself up so many times that his nerves had become more resistant to the burning pain of spontaneous combustion and he managed to stagger to his feet. He waved his arms and exclaimed nonsense as he tried to regain his feet.

“Oh Mother of the Night, I hate when this happens… especially to me.” He shook his head and groaned as his vision swam. Blinking furiously, he looked around, eventually finding the place where the axe had exploded. The table was a charred wreck, and axes were embedded everywhere. Pen blinked a few more times and squinted, staring at where the enchanted axe, of which nothing remained now, had been floating. Hanging in mid air, it looked like there was something golden, like a crack or a hole. At this distance it was hard to tell, but he thought he saw something move inside it, but it closed rapidly and soon vanished back into thin air.

“Uh... Kariska? Does that usually-” The bard turned around and scanned the hills for his new priest friend, spotting him almost a quarter mile away. Wow, that was some blast. That, or priests bounced really well. Either way, it didn’t matter much now, Pen groaned and began to shakily close the gap between them, almost falling on his abused face several times. He coughed loudly as he walked and a lance of pain went through his chest. He cringed and looked at the grass in front of him, and the spray of blood he’d just produced, “That’s not good,” He moaned.

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