Hello again, Sygaz! It’s been quite a while since our last intercourse. (I know the double entendre well, and I rarely use the word with a straight face, but I use it anyway, as we are fast becoming intimate friends. Such happens when one bears one’s soul to another.) I had quite the conundrum recently, and it resulted in a life-altering change.
It all started with the induction into CrIsis. I felt my first week went well – I didn’t make any new enemies, and I – hopefully – have made a new friend. But shortly before we teleported to Avramstown, U’Selekma came to me and told me I wasn’t allowed to accompany CrIsis yet, per his vision. Some sort of doppelganger situation, or maybe a soul-twin situation. The same protections afforded veterans in CrIsis when their Doppelgangers were absent from the spirit dimension wouldn’t be afforded me, as my soul wasn’t attuned sufficiently to theirs. So CrIsis disembarked through the portal to Avramstown created by a Priest of Light in my absence, and I returned to my room.
As if he were aware of the situation, none other than Sir Thad stepped onto the carpet in the middle of my room through a portal of his own.
“AH! Rooster my boy! It has been FAR too long, hasn’t it? I have returned to finish your Bardic Training, and make you a Master Song Mage! For this, I must take you to another world. Prepare yourself!” And without further preamble, he grabbed my ankle and took me to a royal’s private bath to clean up and dress in simple linens, and then to a Tailor’s Shop that must have been in a non-palladium land. The whole room was open with columns made out of paper and walls made out of glass. Garlands of pine adorned many of the eaves and pillars, and there was some sort of acoustic-altering magic broadcasting a soft, slow music played with strange instruments throughout the store, so that wherever you were you could hear it softly, changing the mood without having to be louder for the size of the room, or the square-shape of the room, and random pillars breaking it up. The walls that weren’t made of glass were adorned in an orderly fashion with strange garments, and there were stationary mannequins sporting some of the finery that was along the walls.
I love the fashions of most royalty and rich in Palladium, but for the most part the fashion is slave to quantity and quality of the fabric alone. I once saw an Eastern King in fully 12 square yards of velvety fabric in one continuous sheet 1 yard wide. It was folded and wrapped in an attractive way, but it still looked like he was a bulbous man that could barely stand on the weight of the two sticks peeking out beneath the fabric. The fashions seemed to be more focused on the fit and cut of it, instead of the quality of fabric alone.
I sat idly by while Thad spoke to a tailor, labelled as such by the scissors and measuring tape he had on him, as well as a strange fabric armband that sported pins. They spoke in a strange language, hybrid of a distant dialect mixture Elvish and Dwarvish, with strange gutteral affectations. He called it “English,” which made me wonder what was an Eng. Later I found out that it was the name a people on ‘one’ of the ‘seven’ continents called themselves – well it was “Anglo Saxon,” but that means “White Barbarians,” or “White Demons” in the dwarven peasant-speak, but the tailor was dark, like a south-winds islander, hailing himself from a continent called Africa. I wondered what kind of strange story lay behind the creation of this land, and how peoples were put here from Palladium, and how the “White Barbarians” conquered such a large swath of such a large land in about as much time as has passed as has since the Great War, and without the assistance of any other races.
I digress, and I apologize, but of course you knew that when you started writing to me in the first place! So it’s your own damn fault!
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He dressed me in several layers of thick fabric, though it didn’t feel as safe as a single layer of Leather of Iron. Thad called the outfit’s style a “Tuxedo,” but whatever it is, it was fabulous.
A strange black silk Ascot adorned my neck, called a Bowtie. Black gemstone studs replaced the strange button system the ruffled shirt sported, both down the chest, and at the wrists – called “cufflinks,” making the cuffs stick out in strange ways. Though, it didn’t make much difference as it was almost covered by the thick black coat with silk lapels. Over the ruffled white shirt, starched to perfection but still soft enough to not irritate the skin – the people in this land must be all pampered like royalty, with skin so sensitive! – was a brilliant blue silk band of fabric called a Cumberbund. It was low enough to allow the studs to be seen, as well as the ruffles, but high enough that the low-cut black suit wouldn’t cover it completely if buttoned. The first button of the coat was actually a few fingers below my ribcage, which is very strange, but it looked good with the ensemble. The black pants were surprisingly sparse after the accoutrements above. A single silk piping lined the outside edge of the pants, running from hip to ankle. The fabric was two layers of the same fabric of the coat, which must have been four or six layers.
Thad said it was a gift, as part of the ‘graduation ceremony.’
We walked outside, and I lost my breath with how different the world was! It wasn’t any more or less beautiful than Sekti Abtu per se, but it was definitely different! Large structures, taller than any obelisk or building I had ever dreamed of littered the landscape, the shortest of which were still tall enough for me to barely see more than a third of the sky. It was claustrophobia-causing, and breathtaking at the same time. The taller ones seemed to be made of glass and metal, almost sculpted into fantastical shapes. They all were lit from within, as if from white fire frozen in its dance, amplified by magic. stunted trees lined the street, illuminated as if by thousands of fireflies resting on the branches and the trunks in every hue imaginable.
“I froze time so that you wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Get ready, it is a very loud place, and there are more people than you would believe. This city is called ‘New York,’ and there are eight and a half million people in it, crammed into an area about the size of Phi. For each square mile, there are Twenty-Seven Thousand people. No, I am not joking. Get ready.” As he said thus, I lowered my gaze to the street and realized that there was an ocean of people a foot away from me, and just beyond them – mere feet from me, though it seemed much farther – was a long procession of metal boxes filled with people. Thad released his grip on time and the world around me lurched back to life – movement and sound bombarding me and threatening to pull me along with it.
Those metal boxes were some sort of horseless carriage system, though upon further inspection I realized that they were not connected to each other! These metal chariots moved independently, much faster than any horse alive. The people moved along as if in a river, unflinchingly pressing forward, mindless of helpless bystanders being swept up in their press. Strange horns, the dull roar of conversation, yelled comments peeking over the blanket of sound momentarily – it was surely a nightmarish onslaught on the senses. Once my ears and eyes caught up, I smelled a hundred scents, all of which were passenger to urine. Did these people simply piss themselves, for the inability to get out of the river of humanity rushing by? It surely smelled like it.
When I came back to myself, I realized that I did not want to soil the amazing clothing that Thad had given me, and that my shoes were very slick. We stood on giant slabs of some sort of smooth-hewn grey stone that was coated in dirty slush, though since there wasn’t a patch of dirt to be seen, I shudder to think what would color it black. Thad yelled into my ear, as anything quieter than that would have been inaudible from any distance, “Now that you have been thrown into the deep end, let’s pull you to the shallows.” Of course this metaphor made little sense to me, though I surmise it’s in regard to swimming, maybe in a lake, thrown into the deep part from a boat?
He grabbed my shoulder, and we appeared in a concert hall more lavish than any but a high king’s throne room! There didn’t seem to be any gilding, that I could see, but it could hold any one of the medium-sized temples inside of it, with room for a crowd besides. Thad whispered – between performances – that it could hold twenty-one thousand people, at maximum capacity, aside from the performers. And there were hundreds of performers!
I cannot even come close to explain to you the awe that I felt, sitting on a posh seat any lord would be comfortable in – one of twenty-one thousand of the same – and taking in the spector and splendor of it all. My eyes were not dry more than twice. That first performance was so different, so strange, but so wonderful! There were new ways of performing music, on a scale that couldn’t be hoped for in Palladium.
Palladium’s music is limited to a single bard or minstrel, or possibly a small group of four to ten, though usually a group of ten is only to add force behind a single melody, such as the Lopanic Games’ horn revellies. There were many groups performing together, each with its own counter-melodies or even taking the melodies for a piece, and each group was ten fold the size of the largest horn ensemble I’d seen to date. Through a small golden pair of looking glasses Thad handed me I could see the wide variety of instruments that the minstrel’s group had to offer. There were at least five types of stringed instruments, most played with a strange stick, though not plucking the strings… and the sound was smooth, airy, almost heavenly. The other half of the orchestra was made up of a dozen handfuls of people playing a dozen different instruments related – distantly – to the Lute or Flute… though I did see a dozen or so people on Flutes and Piccolos. Giant Drums and metal sheets were hit and swiped in the back, as well as sections of bells in every shape and size. All together amazing, but it was only an accompaniment to the vocal explosion behind it.
Hundreds of voices, all blending together, at times all on a melody, and at times eight or sixteen harmonies blending together with enough force to bowl you over if you were to try standing against them. Called a “Choir,” it was some of the most beautiful and powerful music I had ever heard. Some pieces they also had “Soloists” accompany the choir, with some sort of magical amplification to their voices to carry to the auditorium. Thad said that they were “Opera” performers, which refers to the manner in which they sing – rich sound, smooth, and full of vibrato. Nearing the end of the performance, they had a spoken word bardic oration, though it was a bit lacking. He was barely projecting his voice, and his tone was almost monotonous, barely more animated than normal speech, but these people had lost the art long ago, in favor of the staggering amount of musical progress they’ve had.
The Bard relayed the story of a famous composer by the name of Handel – Thad translated the unfamiliar words and grammatical constructions for me – and it explained his life surrounding the release of his principal work, called “The Messiah.” A prolific composer, he produced over 200 pages of staggeringly beautiful and complex music in little over a month, and though I did not recognize the son god’s name – Jesus Christ – it was nevertheless beautiful. This Jesus Christ sounds to be very similar to Osiris, with the death tale, being a judge and law giver, and having a return to the earth. Listening to the words I could understand, I felt that many of the lyrics would do for ballads and hymns of rejoicing upon his resurrection. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
On top of the Aural banquet, there were nigh-magical displays of light and smoke, and a troupe of dancers, though their graceful pose-like style was much more refined than any court dance I’d ever seen. Thad called it “Ballet.” And each movement seemed spurred by the words or dynamics of the music.
Thad gave me pictures to remember the visit by on strange tacky paper, but not quite as if it were sealed by resin. And they were almost as if someone had literally stolen the image from my eyes and placed it on the paper.
After the performance, we left the Auditorium, and were in a different city, or a part very far away from the part we were in, because the number of tall buildings were a fraction of those I’d seen before – Though there was a palace across the avenue from us, which only makes sense. Thad took me thence to a dozen performances, all different, but all masterfully done!
I saw an “Opera,” a “Musical,” a “Symphony,” a “Rock Concert,” and a half-dozen amateur performances very similar to those I am familiar with – small tavern room with a singer or small ensemble – as well as non-musical performances, like Ballets, Art exhibits in the Louvre, the Met, and others. He told me that there were things called “Film” or “Movies” that were a spectacular that I could not handle, without an understanding of technology.
I wept for the lack of musical prolifery in Palladium.
By the end of the journey, which took a month in this parallel world, I had soaked up as much as I could of the musical and the arts. We readied everything in his “flat,” – a strange home complete with a kitchen and bathroom, though it was in the same building as several other businesses and dwellings – and he put me in a dingy dungeon, next to the gasping, tired members of CrIsis. He didn’t enter the room, but as some of the only light came from the dimensional portal all of CrIsis could see him. As I stepped through, Thad exclaimed worriedly, “You! But, I wasn’t doing anything wrong! N-nOOO -” My face was sprayed with Thad’s Blood as his portal closed.
And that’s where I sit now, while CrIsis recovers from horrors unknown, unable to explain the situation yet, though they will shortly.
Some things to note… the Moon was blood red in the Ninth Month, on the twenty-seventh and -eighth days where I was. That seemed something I would need to forward to you.
I returned on the 8th day of the 10th month to Palladium, on the second level of an uncharted dungeon somewhere.
Until I write again,
>>A Travel Log – a new endeavor – written in the 5th Year of CrIsis, by Rooster; Lord Gregory Chaunticleer Malory; Bard Extraordinaire; Master of Audiences; Commander of Imagination; Lover of Intrigue; Grand Inquisitor of True Balladry, student of Thoth<<
>> Picture 1: Nomadical Sabbatical
>> Picture 2: JB Suits
>> Pictures 3 & 4: LDS Conference Center and Temple in Salt lake City, taken by the Author