Without so much as a word, the adventurers began silently preparing for a fight. Talan glanced across the clearing and realized Haden was staring right at him—the aasling looked quickly away, but Talan understood. “Haden knows we’re here,” he whispered.
“So what am I supposed to do with these rocks, anyway?” Haden said loudly, startling even the fiends in the clearing. “Stick them together?”
“Yes,” Margone replied. She reached down to lift what looked like a small bird cage. “It takes energy, though. Energy which I’m all too happy to provide.” Haden rolled the Eye of the Dawn and a different stone, this one jet-black, around in his hands, his expression distant. Suddenly, they began to glow.
“What is he doing?” Sheen demanded, whispering.
“What are you DOING?!” Margone demanded across the clearing.
“Don’t distract me,” Haden said. The adventurers exchanged a look and sprang into the clearing, then the world suddenly went white in a blaze of power. Instantly, they were stumbling over furniture. When their vision cleared, they realized they were all in the living room of their house.
“Ha ha!” Haden shouted. “It worked!” He chucked the stones onto the couch with a disgusted look, picked up Sheen, and began dancing around the room.
“Um, well done . . . I think,” Talan said, extricating himself from an armchair.
“What did you DO?!” Sheen demanded. Haden put her down.
“A lesson for everyone: never hand the artifacts of ultimate power to someone who hates your guts.” His grin began to fade a bit as he realized Mal was glaring furiously at him. “Sorry,” he said, now a bit sheepish. “I didn’t know what else to do. They would have killed all of us if I hadn’t agreed to take the stones, and then when I had them I could sense . . . something. They seemed almost alive, so I, well, sort of persuaded them that we ought to be here instead of there.”
“And they just . . . made it happen?” Joris asked.
“They got through the boundary protecting Sigil, even,” Kal said. “Frightening.”
“What boundary?” Sheen asked.
“The one that prevents dimensional travel except through the portals,” Kal said patiently.
“I guess they did,” Haden said, “I wasn’t sure it would work, but I didn’t know what else to do.” Mal raised a hand and pointed at him furiously, causing the startled Haden to recoil.
“You left her.”
“I did? It looks like everyone is here.”
“You LEFT her!”
“The Lady of Mirrors,” Kal said to Haden’s blank look.
“Oh,” Haden said quietly.
“I’m going back after her,” Mal announced. “I can open the portal myself.”
“I’m sorry, Mal, It just didn’t occur to me to bring her along,” Haden said as the warlock stormed out of the house.
“We shouldn’t just let him go alone,” Talan said. “They won’t be expecting us to go right back, anyway. It’s at least as safe as here.” The stones on the couch hummed briefly, then went silent. Kal picked one up curiously.
“Be careful with those, Kal, they were quiescent before but I think they’ve woken up,” Haden warned.
“She’s doing something,” Kal said, startled.
“If we’re going to follow Mal we should tell Hexla and Yolette to stay somewhere safe until we get back,” Sheen interrupted.
“It’s gone. She’s done it.” Kal said.
“Kal, what are you talking about?” Haden demanded, grabbing the wizard’s arm. He blinked and looked up at Haden.
“Margone just killed Uin the Unseeing, and Thazia along with him. This just showed me.”
“Then where is Mal going?” Sheen asked, horrified.
“Maybe the portal simply won’t work,” Kal offered.
“We can’t count on that!” Talan cried.
Sheen and Haden ran for the street. Talan grabbed Kal and pulled him along, since the wizard seemed inclined to stay and commune with the stones a bit longer. Kal finally dropped them into his haversack, not wanting to wave them around in the street. “This way,” Haden said, ducking into an alley. “I know a shortcut.” They dodged and ducked down some of Sigil’s more bizarre side-streets.
“Was that a demodand service station for Arcadian Ponycabs?” Kal protested as he was pulled along. “Bizarre.”
They found Mal outside Chinzpeter’s Used Clothing trying to open the portal. Fortunately it appeared nothing was happening. Frustrated, Mal waved his hands and eldritch power arced into the shop, evoking a startled scream.
“Mal, stop!” Sheen yelled. The warlock whirled, his eyes ablaze with eldritch power.
“You left her with them!”
“She wouldn’t want you to throw your life away,” Talan insisted.
Mal turned to look over at Kalenthor. “The stones . . .” he said desperately.
“They won’t help, Mal. Thazia is gone.”
“If they brought us here, they can take me back!”
“Before Margone murdered Uin and unmade the entire world, maybe they could have. Come on, we should leave,” Kal insisted, extending a hand. Mal pushed past him into the street, flaring power randomly.
“She treated him like a pet,” Haden muttered, watching the warlock rage.
“Do pets not love their masters?” Kal asked.
“Slaves should not be loyal,” Haden replied. “So what next? We have both of the stones, but can we do anything with them?”
“Can’t you ‘read’ them?” Talan asked.
Haden shook his head emphatically. “I’m not trying mortal powers on things like that. For all I know, it might bring the universe to an end.”
“It would be best to destroy them,” Sheen said, “but somehow I don’t think that will be possible.”
“My mother believes that the stones were instrumental in bringing this universe about . . . and that they can be used to unmake it and create a new one.” Joris winced. “Yeah, a universe in Margone’s image. Isn’t that a pleasant thought.” Haden sighed. “I don’t think she was lying, but I could be wrong.”
“Then they’ll try to get them back, right?” Joris asked after clearing his throat nervously.
“They’ll either come after the stones or Alocer will come up with a new plan. Maybe both.”
“If we try to hide them away, sooner or later someone will stumble on them,” Sheen said. “Lock them in a vault, and someone will figure a way to break in. There’s just nothing responsible you can do with power like that.”
Haden rubbed his forehead tiredly. “I don’t think Alocer’s people are all in agreement over what to do with the stones, though. Maybe we can get them to fight each other, somehow. Hey, Kal, do you know if it’s possible to locate the stones using magic?”
Kal looked up from where he was speaking with Mal. The warlock was tucking the stones into his bag and looking a bit calmer. “They’re artifacts. Maybe Legend Lore would work. If they’re close enough a simple locate object spell would suffice.”
“I thought it wasn’t possible to use common divinations on most artifacts.”
Kal shrugged. “I slept through most of my divination classes. I never liked the idea of knowing what was going to happen. I’d rather be surprised.”
“Standing here in the street accomplishes nothing,” Mal said sharply. “At least we can retrieve our belongings before they raze the house.”
“We may want to leave Sigil,” Haden said. “It’s safest for our friends to stay where there’s people, but it’s probably safer for us if we go somewhere remote.”
“I may know of a place,” Mal said.
“Can’t we bring Hexla with us?” Talan asked back at the house while they packed quickly. Hexla and Yolette were also preparing to leave.
“We can use magic to check on her, but if Hexla comes with us she might get caught in the crossfire,” Haden said quietly.
“I know,” Talan said. “I just hate that I can’t be there to protect her. What if we’re wrong and she’s not safe here?”
“They don’t care about Hexla or Yolette or Kalisa. They won’t kill them because it won’t help them find us. But if they’ve already found us, all bets are off.”
“Are we ready?” Mal asked. “There is a demiplane, Glenloch, where we should be safe for a time.”
“I’ve always wanted to make one of those,” Kal remarked.