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It was not death which met the Dark Knight on the other side of the great door - but infinity.
The inconceivable vastness of the primordial chaos. The surrealist expanse of impossibility and paradox that bridged the roiling gaps between worlds. All of time and space, a wild and unending storm through which one could never hope to navigate, at the whims of the gales that ebbed and flowed between reality and nothingness.
The sorcerers of the Crystal City had escaped, vile Edaathur among them, leading them - fled through this terrible place - and, for just the briefest, instant as he went kareening wildly through the dimensions, Adelaard glimpsed the place where he would learn where they had gone. A vision of such stark clarity as to become self-evident, to ring with truth that would not be denied.
The Door to Paradise. The impossibly vast monolith of pearly marble and gold, wrought with carved images of chilling familiarity.
The Six-Pointed Star. The Crescent Moon. The Swastika. The Dao. The Khanda. The Gate. The Nine-Pointed Star. The Wheel. The Hand. The Pentacle. The Möbius Strip. The Cross. The Eye.
The thirteen gilded keyholes stood out in gleaming prominence among hundreds, thousands of other symbols, the collective of which formed images of aching, divine beauty beyond comprehension. He might have died there, stricken by the sheer, infinite complexity, wrenched into an eternity of aimless drifting among the roiling chaos that filled the gaps between realities.
There standeth the Door to Paradise. The Great Nexus. The Truth. The all and nothing, Alpha and Omega. The Beginning, and the End. And he, Adêla’aeion d’ai Dimensaani, Dark Knight Iconoclast, standeth before it. The Keys, scattered to the astral wind, lost among the worlds in time and space alike. An infinity of that which was, that which was Not, and that which lay between. The voice screaming from his lungs is not his own, the words echoing in abstraction, unheard, unspoken, yet ringing with truth nonetheless. By his will alone did he withstand the howling winds which buffeted his mind and body and tore at what remained of his mortal soul, ate away at his black, rotting heart. Who was it that had spoken the words which resonated in his mind as golden eyes gazed up at that which no mortal was ever meant to see and live to tell the tale? The Great Old One, He Who Tilted at Windmills…
The vision was gone as suddenly as it had come to him, but Adelaard knew what he had to do. What he would do. What impossible quest he would set out upon.
It mattered not how far and wide the Thirteen Keys to the Door of Paradise had been scattered when the vile sorcerer Edaathur had passed through with his Crystal City. It mattered not how many worlds, how many universes, how many times and places he must traverse. His will would not quail in the face of the expanse, indeed, the sheer impossibility of the task that lay before him.
He would find them. He would collect the Thirteen Keys at any cost. Be it a thousand, ten thousand years, be it an infinity and twice again - the last of the Dimensaani would stand once more at that gate, and storm whatever heavenly ramparts lay upon the other side.
As only the Great Old One, he from whom the ways of knighthood were born had done before him;
He would reach the Unreachable Star.
He could feel it in his teeth, smell it in the air, sense it in his bones and the ancient blood of his fathers that pulsed in his veins. He had stepped into a new world. Whether he had come through leaping like a stallion poised to fight or tumbling in an embarrassing tangle of limbs he could not remember, but it did not matter. Memories of other worlds were usually fleeting and muddled anyway. The past was the past, the future yet to come.
The old knight’s senses were sluggish in returning to him properly. Though his instincts and reflexes had been long since honed to so razor an edge that he could survive the lingering disorientation that invariably followed the jump through astral chaos, he was still an old man, maybe growing older still in mind, if not body. Old and tired… But far and away from done. He was yet of sound mind and body, even after enduring once again that terrible, aching, hauntingly beautiful vision of The Door that came to him every time he passed through the astral chaos between realities.
As the comfortingly familiar sensation of existence began to set in, Adelaard allowed himself a moment of introspection while he stood there, eyes closed. With thumbs hooked over his low-slung belt, booted feet apart, the old gunslinger looked every bit as though a tumbleweed must surely be manifested nearby, solely for the purpose of bouncing pointedly across the paths of himself and his foe. Except that the foe he now faced was nothing so simplistic as a rival gunfighter looking to clear leather at high noon. Nor was it a fire-breathing dragon, preparing to test whether it could burst forth with searing flame from its great belly faster than he could deal seven rounds of hot death from the hip.
Indeed, it was no conventional foe which the Dark Knight now faced down, but a new world. That was, at least, how he generally saw it to be. For all he knew, it might be a new dimension, a new realm, a new universe, a new reality. The complexity of space and time were far beyond his comprehension, and he had long since come to accept that fact for the truth it was, giving up on trying to make any more sense of it than was immediately practical. Among many of the countless places he had been along this endless Road of Worlds, he had found the very laws of nature to operate in different ways - usually the differences were subtle, but even the smallest alterations in so fundamental a concept tended to make for a host of new experiences. The forces of magic - no longer his enemy in themselves, however distasteful he might find them to be - took many forms across the many spectrums, and in some worlds it seemed not to exist at all. He had traversed deserts and wastelands, lush forests that seemed never to end, vast expanses of bucolic countryside, tattered warzones that reeked of death. Most of these places had not been extremely dissimilar from the world he had once known - that which he had left in ruins to be reborn from the ashes - and most tended to be sparsely populated, characterized by great distances and long days.
But he knew well that this next world, the one upon which he had only just stepped foot and had yet to open his eyes to see - this world could be different from everything he had ever known. Indeed, it was only a matter of time before he entered into a place that was totally alien to him, to be faced with times and places beyond his wildest imagination. Already, something felt off in his bones - though he could not tell yet what that strangeness might be.
Not that it mattered. No matter what kind of place he had come upon, he would persist. If this place harbored one of the Thirteen Keys, he would find it - and whether or not that lofty treasure found its way to him or not, he knew without a doubt that this world would not be the last upon which he tread.
It was the one absolute consistency between all the planes he had yet ventured through - each had at least one place where passage could be made between one world and the next. Often these passages were one-way and separated by an indeterminate distance, but not always. Typically they were located rather far from civilization, in ancient or forgotten places, forcing him to travel many days on foot before he could truly begin to get an impression of the new world into which he had come - but not always.
Adelaard could feel the slackening and dissipating of the primordial chaos - the blackness between worlds - at his back as this latest in an endless series of doors closed and sealed behind him. He would almost certainly not be leaving the same way he came, this time. That was fine. He would persist. This new world would not be the last.
He had seen much, but far from all. He knew much, yet knew almost nothing at all. But Adelaaeion d’ai Dimensaani, Dark Knight Errant, would persist. He always did.
Something gurgled menacingly on his shoulder. An ugly, liquid sound that was both nauseating and disconcerting. He could feel the familiar weight of the little demon perched there, hidden under the thick, oilcloth cloak that had served him so well across all these endless years and miles. He ignored the sound, letting reality flow back into him. But a moment later his ruminations were interrupted again by another guttural sound, which this time bore a distinct note of impatience that the knight found to be childishly petulant.
Refusing to acknowledge Aaeion’s impatience and waiting just long enough that he could consider it his own choice rather than one made at the insolent prodding of his insufferable familiar, palm resting on the butt of the revolver at his side, this traveler of the Road of Worlds opened his eyes, peering out from the geometric shadow of his wide-brimmed hat, and began to take in his surroundings….
I guess the idea here boils down to your standard ’odd-couple’ and/or ’fish-out-of-water’ story. The plot hook is fairly simple, straightforward and open-ended - this old gunslinging knight errant and his eldritch familiar are traveling between different versions of reality, looking for a key. They might not know it at first, but that key just so happens to be involved, somehow, indirectly or otherwise, with your character.
From there, the plot largely depends on your character - their setting, their backstory, and so on. Depending on the circumstances, the story may be an epic adventure full of action and intrigue, or a weirdly slice-of-life thing involving at least one character who seems hilariously out of place. Literally any setting is viable - anything from past, present or future, any degree of magic/mundanity, any level of technology. High fantasy, sci-fi, modern-mundane - anything’s an option.
The same applies to characters - literally anything goes in terms of plausibility. Anyone from your standard modern-day highschool kid to a spellslinging scholar to a hot-shot space captain to a guy who works at the burger joint at the edge of the universe to Bill from accounting. Anyone from a hyperintelligent A.I. to a demon prince to a weird alien to a talking dog to a steampunk robot to a…..You get the idea.
If you’ve got any ideas as to which of your characters might make an amusing pair with Adelaard, I want to hear it, plausibility be damned. Don’t worry about who might be out of their element - that’s the whole point.
(And to clarify, Adelaard is not a hunter of magic-users - or anyone else, for that matter - and he certainly doesn’t need to get along with someone in order for them to get stuck together.)
My posts tend to be 800+ words long, (With the first few being much longer due to stage-setting) but as long as you're invested in the story I don't particularly care how wordy your own are. I don't mind doing the ‘heavy lifting’ plot-wise, but don't let that stop you from contributing. I mean it when I say that I love when people screw up my plans. That’s sort of the whole point of RP.
All the other standard “rules” apply, so I won’t waste your time or insult your intelligence by going through them. If you’ve slogged this far, you know what you’re doing. If you’re interested, please send me a PM direct and we can waste some time enthusing over the possibilities and/or trading stupid