Apocatastasis The Lathe Of Heaven

AURUM: Once upon a time, I, AURUM, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering to and fro.
AURUM: I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was AURUM!
AURUM: Soon I awoke and there I was, AURUM again.
AURUM: Now I don't know whether I was then myself dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am myself!
Ezekiel: The most boring of all crisis of perception :(
AURUM: Hey, now!
Flip: Quick flutter your wings and make a hurricane somewhere else
Eidolon flies an airship through the out-of-body dialogue. [The Storm White.]
Ezekiel: I'm just saying! It ultimately doesn't change anything, so!
AURUM: Anyways, let's at least make a quick, playful nod to ceremony:
AURUM: The Storm-White, sailing through a plume of rainbow-coloured smoke that smells like old, sacred incense.
AURUM: Seems like there's a haze of the stuff, surrounding the entire moon. Or just… surrounding the Storm-White, clinging to it no matter how you try to evade?
Nine waves the smokes aside, watches it stick slightly "Static-charged, I guess? Ugh"
AURUM: There's rain in the distance, even though that makes very little sense, considering that you're flying to the moon in an airship, but it sure seems to be getting louder as you continue forward.
Eidolon adjusts a knob near the wheel, and the lantern on the bow burns brighter.
AURUM: Good idea!
Ezekiel: "Hm?"
Nine: "I stopped expecting sense out of this a good while ago"
Nine: "At least the transitions are nice"
Solberg: "It's always raining somewhere."
AURUM: Eventually, the smoke gets thick enough - it's perfectly breathable, oddly enough - that you can't really see the moon, or stars, or the ground below - just the light from the ship's lantern.
AURUM: And then, a moment or two after that, warm, light raindrops - like when it's just starting to rain and you feel one on your cheek, or something like that.
Nine puts his hand out, sighs "(We are driving into a cloud)"
Eidolon: "One of the many risks of sky sailing."
Eidolon: "A far different humidity from the coastal life."
AURUM: Air starts to smell a little different, and then clear up, a little - there's a clear night sky (well, minus the mist) in front of you, and not the one you left behind. A city, sprawling underneath, skyscrapers and neon lights and rain-slick asphalt.
Nine looks up, then walks over to look down past the railing "Huhn…"
Ezekiel: "That's no moon, etc. etc."
Clarafina: "How marvelous!"
Solberg: "I'm surprised you know that one."
Ezekiel: "What why?"
Solberg: "Moreso that you have any capacity for memory."
AURUM: There's really no place to dock the airship, so you probably just fly a lazy loop or two around the city, right?
Eidolon yeah, he's flying the scenic route.
Ezekiel: "Did you not catch any of the other million and three references I made before that…? Actually I guess you'd be more likely to catch the scifi one, dystopia and all."
Clarafina leaaaans all the way over the railing, peering below.
Clarafina: "I hope one of those other airships pulls out and opens up a spot."
AURUM: I mean, that's the thing, they're all just driving -cars-, and none of them are even flying.
AURUM: It's really rude!
AURUM: But, uh:
Nine looks at Clarafina "Don't think they have those here" he looks at the bow of their ship, sighs "We could try finding a small airstrip but I doubt you'd like landing there with this, it's no airship port"
AURUM: As you're watching, there'sa shiver - like the whole city's rolling over in its sleep. A few of the skyscrapers swap positions for a better view, the color palette changes a little. City seems less populated. A couple of the buildings sprout zeppelin docks, and thoughtfully, some of these -aren't- occupied.
Solberg: "Thought I'd try my hand at gaslighting."
Solberg: "There are four lights."
Ezekiel: "Man I think we're in seattle, you can probably just crash land anywhere and if someone asks jsut tell them it's an art exibit."
Ezekiel: "Oh wait no it changed, nevermind."
Eidolon: "There's always the 'ship' half of 'airship.'"
Nine: "What?"
Eidolon: "But how often does that happen?" He looks about… ah, there's a close enough dock. He steers for the vacancy.
Ezekiel: "I 'uno."
AURUM: Actually, you're pretty sure it's Portland? But, like, the buildings just shifted around, so it's kinda hard to identify by skyline, and there's mountains in the distance everywhere, right? Anyways, so yeah, the zeppelin dock.
AURUM: Nobody's waiting for you this time.
Flip: "So… Ezekiel, guess you're up."
Ezekiel: "What am I up to?"
Nine: "Getting out of the ship first, it's what you're up to right now"
Ezekiel: "Oh, okay."
Ezekiel jumps off the side, onto the deck.
Clarafina follows along daintily.
Eidolon extends the gangplank, disembarks. He brushes off his coat- water droplets and stardust alike- and peers over the edge as he moves.
AURUM: That's one way of doing it, I guess! The elevator goes 'bing' and the doors slide open, and there's a robot elevator assistant inside, leaning against the wall of the elevator, malfunctioning. Seems like the elevator works perfectly fine without, though? Just need to hit buttons yourself.
Solberg: "Does anyone have a bologna sandwich to give to the robot?"
Ezekiel tilts his head to one side, then randomly pushes a button.
Nine looks at Ezekiel as he jumps, and heads down after Eidolon. He heads into the elevator behind Ezekiel "A… Bologna sandwich?"
AURUM: The elevator politely waits until everyone's in the elevator, then goes down quite a number of floors, quite quickly-
Ezekiel: "I don't get it either."
Flip: "What would a robot want with food?"
Solberg shrugs, then smiles at Ezekiel. "I thought you'd get that one."
AURUM: While it's doing so, there's another -flicker shudder wobble-, and the robot springs to life, wearing an elegant, lace-ruffled sort of shinkuju-ish suit. She blinks a few times- "Oh, terribly sorry. Must have nodded off."
Eidolon: "It's not a problem. What's the port of call?"
Ezekiel: "I mean, it was most like you weren't completely whole but that works too."
AURUM: "-oh, they shuffled, didn't they?"
AURUM: "-wait, you're visitors! That's exciting."
Ezekiel: "I feel like I can probably say 'yes' anyway."
Ezekiel: "Even without knowing for sure."
AURUM: "Every so often, things just… change. Some of us go to sleep, or some of us wake up, to simulate things like 'the world was hit by a massive virus that killed off nine tenths of the population', or something like that."
Ezekiel: "Bummer."
Solberg: "Solar flares."
Eidolon: "I will take you at your word and ask that you not simulate that world in particular."
Nine: "Interesting"
Solberg: "Planar interference from - hm."
Nine: "I wonder if there's some goal in this"
AURUM: "I mean, it wouldn't affect -you-, you're from out of town, you'd be immune to the killer super virus anyways." The elevator goes 'bing' and lets you out onto…
Flip: "Well that's reassuring."
Eidolon: "Perhaps, but the world would be all… corpsey."
Flip: "We could probably fix that. It would take *a lot* of KP though."
Ezekiel: "The hell is KP?"
AURUM: "Well, this is kinda depressing." It's a huge indoor mall, the sort that hasn't really done so well- it's not abandoned, but there's only a few shops open, stretched out over a huge long concourse, some of them with barred-up windows.
Flip: "Complicated."
Flip steps out of the elevator.
Solberg: "Kilomillinarrative potential."
AURUM: "Maybe they'll shuffle again sooner than later, I was hoping the mall would be busy while we actually had visitors, you know?"
Eidolon: "Can't spell 'complicated' without 'kp'."
Nine punches Solberg in the arm
Eidolon: "Still ripe for some urban exploration though."
Nine: "It's… Not too bad, either way"
Solberg: "I mean, if you're running at - ow - 10% capacity. What're the odds it'd be more busy?"
Solberg: "Plus we might lose our tour guide."
Ezekiel: "It's okay," Ezekiel puts a hand on the robots shoulder reassuringly. "As long as hot topic isn't the only store still open, there's hope left for this world."
Clarafina runs up to one one of the fountains in the mall and mimes as if the mall were actually at a great incline, and she were having trouble climbing upwards along it.
AURUM: "Haha oh god no it never gets -that- bad."
AURUM: "Sometimes the food court is… really bad news, though."
Nine: "Worst kind of bad news"
Ezekiel: "Oh man I hope the giant prentzle place is still up."
AURUM: During our dreams we don't know that we're dreaming.
AURUM: We might dream about interpreting a dream!
Ezekiel: "Or no, CINNABON."
AURUM: Only when we wake up do we know we were dreaming.
AURUM: Only after the grand awakening will we realise that this is a grand dream!
Ezekiel: "Lets go get some fukkin' cinnabons."
Nine: "Lead the way, Ezekiel"
Flip: "That sounds tasty."
AURUM: The robot lady leads you off in that direction. Or Ezekiel does, but I guess she doubles as a tour guide / mall directory? There're a couple other robots milling about from store to store.
Ezekiel cruises on through, just kind of casually glancing around as they walk.
Clarafina: "In a dream, you know, there are rules emitted from nowhere."
Clarafina: "Things which are - we're in a city, we don't know eachother, we're under attack - that we know, without having to learn them."
Solberg: "Electric sheep."
Nine: "Maybe they really do dream of them"
AURUM: Some of the stores are really weird, stuff you've never seen or heard of. Wacky glass boutique shops, this one store that's like, a mall anchor store, but it's nothing but really expensive aesthetically pleasing teapots and there's no way they get very much business.
AURUM: Leafy vines, dangling from the skylights and almost reaching the floor.
AURUM: A store selling full-immersion holograms…? That sure is the wrong tech level. Pity that one's closed.
AURUM: Anyways, the cinnabon place is like, right over there.
Nine looks at the stores as they walk "Such an odd place"
Eidolon sniff, sniff sniff sniffs the air.
Ezekiel: "Well yeah, you stopped expecting things to make sense, ergo."
Ezekiel heads on up to the counter to order a couple boxes.
Nine: "Yeah"
Nine looks at Ezekiel "What are those, anyway?"
Solberg: "But there's still structure. Patterns. It isn't as if we've devolved into complete chaos."
Ezekiel: "Cinnamon buns with a sugar glaze, basically."
Clarafina: "An order of cinnamon bons, rising out of pandemonium."
Clarafina: "How beautiful! I would like one too."
Eidolon: "They smell absolutely amazing and I demand one now."
Ezekiel: "Of course you do. They're fucking great,"
Flip plucks one out of Ezekiels first box and bites into it. "… Oh man."
AURUM: There's this really cheerful robot dude in a… cinnabon uniform? That's a thing, right? Blue… sorta… apronny thing? Anyways, it's the sort of Perky Retail Experience you see in commercials, except he seems legit into it, and cinnabons are obtained. One of you has a credit card on you, right?
Eidolon puts it on Ezekiel's tab.
Eidolon takes a warm, gooey, hedonistic first bite into one.
Nine haven't needed one in forever, don't ask him
Ezekiel is pretty sure his wallet is still on him.
Nine does, however, takes one to try out
Flip doesnt sweat money, he'll get Ezekiel back later. Thats how Gnome works.
Clarafina: - Say you're going to 'slip into something more comfortable'
Clarafina: - Return wearing a Tim Hortons uniform
Clarafina: - Act as if this is a fantasy that every man has, and you are surprised he does not share it
Clarafina: Anyway, Clarafina eats a cinnamon bon. <3
Ezekiel: Lol
Ezekiel swipes card through a machine on the counter, proceeds to shove cinnabons into his mouth.
AURUM: Bleep bloop card goes through. Modern technology sure is convenient!
Solberg: Are you speaking from experience?
AURUM: "Have a nice day!" , etc.
Nine: Now when did that happen to you?
Nine eats his cinnabon slowly, because that's how he eats everything "Hrm… Quite tasty, I see why you like them"
Ezekiel: "Anyway this is basically the only reason to still come to a mall, so enjoy."
AURUM: "Hey, now! There's the teapot… store…?"
AURUM: At least robot lady tried.
Flip: Implying I wouldnt madly ravish a source of never-ending coffee and donuts and poutine. Bro its like you dont even KNOW me.
AURUM: "It's better when they're not running us at 90% wiped-out-by-robot-death-plague, I promise."
Eidolon: "No, really though, did nine-tenths of the population really get wiped out-"
Eidolon: "Oh. Well."
Eidolon eats his cinnabon a little more slowly.
AURUM: "Yes" , and she does the huge exaggerated Verne airquotes.
Eidolon: "…it's good."
Ezekiel: "Robots are weird, dude."
Eidolon isn't sure who this Verne fellow is but it sounds squirrely.
Nine: "Honestly that sounds really inconvenient"
Solberg bites into a bon, then shakes their head at Ezekiel. "We are not."
AURUM: "It's… not as much fun when everyone's dead, yeah. On the other hand, traffic and overpopulation are way less of a pain..?"
AURUM: "Things are just slower and calmer, which… can be nice, I guess…"
Ezekiel: "You so are."
Flip takes a second roll and eats this one more slowly. "Pros and cons, yeah."
Ezekiel: "Oh man I wonder if they have an orange crush around here, that was the other thing you get from malls."
AURUM: She points at a nearby vending machine with her thumb.
Ezekiel: "No no it's like,"
Ezekiel: "You know those stupid smoothy places,"
Flip: "Orange Julius."
Ezekiel: "But with one real specific drink and there's ice it in instead of ice cream"
Ezekiel: "Yeah!"
Ezekiel: "That!"
AURUM: "Ohhhh yeah they… hmm." She peers off into the distance and, no, there's a dead robot keeled over sprawled behind the cash register of that one. "Oh, gosh."
Ezekiel: "Wah-wah."
Eidolon: "Oh dear."
Nine: "That's certainly a problem"
Flip: "hey that just means its free, right?"
Eidolon: "Well yeah, but then we have to make it."
Solberg: "So do you just … serve food and drinks literally in case visitors arrive? Unless you all have functioning taste and olfactory sensors -"
Ezekiel: "I duno how to work the machine, or like, the ingredient ratio." :(
Clarafina climbs over the counter-top and inspects the robot.
Flip: "Oh, well damn."
AURUM: The robot very clearly succumbed to Robot Death Plague. Very sad.
AURUM: "Naw, we eat lunch too. Like… we don't -have- to, obviously, but it's fun and nobody would sell anything if we didn't?"
AURUM: "There's like… robot businesspeople and robot movie stars and robot construction workers and everything."
Clarafina makes an incision on the rear panel and begins quietly inspecting its organs. I mean, don't mind her.
Ezekiel: "Like in futurama!"
Nine: "Clarafina that's rude"
Ezekiel: "Only not."
AURUM: They're all clearly in perfect working order, just, you know, waiting for the signal to no longer be Dead From Robot Death Plague.
AURUM: Which…
Clarafina is perfectly willing to transmit!
AURUM: Flicker, happens now! A -bunch- of the robots wake up, and their skin changes from various shades all along the spectrum of normal skin colours to the same uniform shade of grey. Clarafina's robot half-turns, winks, and goes "Hey, princess~" , because what else are you going to do when you wake up and someone has their hand in your organs?
AURUM: I mean, c'mon.
Clarafina: "Hello!" She takes her hand out and seals the panel back up.
Clarafina: "You're cured."
Ezekiel: "Sweet that means I can order drinks."
AURUM: The robot lady from the elevator, meanwhile, checks out her hands and goes "-huh, this one's interesting."
Solberg glances back. "Oh? This what now?"
Nine looks back at her "Different?"
Eidolon: "Slightly less than nine-tenths! Drinks all around."
AURUM: "Yeah, I'm… not sure where my family's from anymore? I guess maybe A/B tests on what happens if we all look the same. Some people are kinda gross about that even if we're all just, you know, robots?"
AURUM: "I guess they're being in-character or something." She grimaces.
Nine raises an eyebrow
Nine: "This is slightly messed up"
Eidolon: "I have no idea what any of that meant." He takes another bite.
AURUM: "If it means people don't give my best friend trouble they can keep things this way for a while, ugh." She gets a drink too.
Ezekiel: "Eletronics are strange and mysterous Eidolon, don't worry about it."
Nine shakes his head
Solberg: "Oh, so each shuffle assigns different configurations for families?"
AURUM: A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap.
AURUM: A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare.
AURUM: Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
AURUM: Where can I find someone who's forgotten words so I can have a word with him?
Flip: But would they have any meaning?
Nine: Do you wanna get caught in your own snare, at this rate?
AURUM: The robot lady waits until you're all back at the table. "I… I'm not really supposed to talk about it, but you're from out of town, so it's probably okay? Like…"
Flip: "You definitely are supposed to talk about stuff with us."
Ezekiel: "Well, we probably need to do something here beside eat mall food,"
Ezekiel: "I mean I don't mind but."
Flip: "Its basically all we're good fir."
Ezekiel: "Stories tend to expect things to happen, I guess?"
AURUM: "Anything can change, in a shuffle. One time there was peace on earth! But it was because we were all united against crazy aliens from outer space."
Eidolon: "It -is- delicious mall food."
Nine: "Seen that story before" he sits down, he did get a drink at some point "How often do those shuffles happen?"
AURUM: "One time we all had everything we wanted, but there was a ~horrible truth~ underlying our reality that we could accept, or reject and go live in the wilderness. That sort of thing, you know? It's not usually that drastic, though."
Solberg: "So you just keep going through permutation after permutation."
AURUM: "Depends. Sometimes- like, it's happened a few times in a row just now, maybe because you're here. Sometimes it's months before a shuffle."
Solberg: "I mean, in general."
Clarafina: "Does it matter, though…?"
Clarafina: "As long as you can find a way to get electricity, you can keep on living."
Nine: "Clarafina has a terrible definition of living"
Clarafina giggles into her sleeve. "I can't make references too…?"
Nine: "I missed that one"
Nine: "Sorry"
AURUM: "I… couldn't stay during that shuffle. That was one of the long ones, too… it was just… horrible. I met my best friend out there, though, so…"
AURUM: "Gosh, it's weird saying 'I'm glad it happened', but." She shrugs, sips her drink daintily.
Solberg: "Omelas isn't worth it, yes."
Ezekiel: "Omelas?"
Nine: "You should be happy for the good things that happened, even if it was in the middle of something terrible"
Nine looks at Ezekiel "A really silly place, dreamed up in some form of hateful self-destructive angst fever by someone who should have spent their time doing anything else"
Nine: "So, like, a story like any other"
AURUM: "I wonder if one of us was really…?" She shudders, then looks at all of you confused. Travelers are -so weird-.
Nine looks at the robot guide that'd been with them "Really what, if you don't mind the question?"
Ezekiel: "Don't look at me I duno what's going on." Leans back in his uncomfortable food court chair, sipping on orange julius.
AURUM: "I- I'd rather not talk about it, honestly? It sounds like you guys already… know about what was happening, somehow."
Clarafina: "News from nowhere-!"
Nine: "Yeah, okay"
Nine sighs "This is super silly, however"
Nine: "Who's running this experiment?"
Ezekiel: "Bet it's a robot!"
AURUM: She shrugs. "Don't look at me, I've been here all my life. I just like poking at the seams more than most."
Nine: "It's good to do that"
Nine: "It's what science is about"
AURUM: "Actually, hmm…"
AURUM: "Wanna go on a bit of an adventure? If you're curious about that sort of thing, there's something you might want to see."
Eidolon: "Such can lead to unhappiness+ in paradise."
Clarafina: "Always!"
Eidolon: "Hm? Oh, yes, it's what we do. Adventures, that is."
Flip: "I am definitely OK with this."
AURUM: She leads you back to the elevator, then down to the ground floor and- there are flying, self-driving cars now! Cool!- flags down a taxi, and gives some directions.
Eidolon: "Get cozy, everyone."
Nine looks at the cars, now that's something interesting
AURUM: There's a tower in the middle of the city - bright, shining white, built around the shell of a skyscraper.
Clarafina: "Ah, what's that place called?"
AURUM: "I… didn't really know for sure about the shuffles, or… remember everything, until I went here. Some people never notice it and always stay away?"
AURUM: "It doesn't really have a name, it's just… there."
Ezekiel: "It's always Evil Towers."
Nine: "Well we're walking into Tartarus I guess"
Flip: "Thats only slightly foreboding."
Ezekiel: "Oh damn we should have gotten one of those giant ass cookies before we left. Oh well."
Solberg: "They're overpriced."
Ezekiel: "It's okay, it's dream money."
AURUM: There's an elevator in the tower, too, but she doesn't follow you onto it. "I'll wait here for a while! Um, if I don't see you guys again, I hope you enjoyed your stay!"
Nine: "Was some food I haven't had in forver"
Ezekiel: "It's important to eat junk food, yeah."
AURUM: Because that's not ominous at all.
Eidolon: "Thank you, you'll see our name in lights."
Ezekiel waves to the robot guide, tosses his now empty cup in the trashbin near the door, then strolls inside.
Solberg: "Oh. Well, take care, and goodbye forever."
Eidolon: "(What do you figure it is.)"
Nine waves to her as they head in "Until next time"
Ezekiel: "A bored fat kid playing sim city."
AURUM: There's a weird seven-pointed pattern on the floor of the elevator, and only one button to push.
Ezekiel push butan.
Flip leans against the wall.
Nine looks at the pattern on the floor, looks at the button
Eidolon looks about. Does this elevator have glass walls?
AURUM: IT TURNS OUT IT'S A TELEPORTER INSTEAD OF AN ELEVATOR WOOOOOO all this really means, though, is there's a weird flash of light and you find yourself at the top of the tower. There's a bit more of a change in air pressure than there should have been.
Ezekiel: "Well."
Ezekiel: "Okay."
Eidolon: "Boop!"
Nine: "Was expecting more, somehow"
Nine heads over ahead, looking out at the city from up high
AURUM: There's a huge room at the top of the tower, with a panoramic view of the city; on the ceiling, there's a kind of childlike, crude star map.
AURUM: In the middle of the room - taking up most of the room - there's this enormous opalescent egg, swirling with power, humming with music you can sort-of hear.
Nine looks at the egg, raising an eyebrow
Flip: "You could make a hell of an omlette with that."
Eidolon: "Those who turn away from omlettes."
Ezekiel: Opalescent. Do you sometimes just sit there all, you know, I haven't used a ind of weird and uncommon word in a while, better mash one out, just to keep up apperances or something.
Clarafina: "You know, if it can't break the shell…"
AURUM: That's not even a weird word!!!
Eidolon: "(…it'd probably fit on the ship, to be honest.)"
AURUM: There's a flicker, and the only thing that changes is, there's a little door drawn on the egg in pencil.
Ezekiel goes to take a seat in the executive chair.
AURUM: Forget the years, forget distinctions! Leap into the boundless and make it your home!
Eidolon glances at the party, back at the egg.
Nine looks at Ezekiel "Go open it"
Ezekiel spins around one, stops, leans forwars and places his elbows on the desk as he steeples his fingers together.
Ezekiel: "Listen, Nine. Can I call you Ni? Ni, you don't tell people sitting in chairs like these, in front of desks like these."
Ezekiel: "They tell *you* want to do."
Ezekiel: "Open the egg, Ni."
Flip takes another cinnabon.
Eidolon looks over to Ni.
Nine: "The only thing right now i'm mystified about"
Nine: "Is why did you think it needed shortening"
Nine: "Actually no i'm not"
Clarafina: "I can make the incision, you know, if you'd like."
Nine justs goes over and opens the door, like it was a real door!
Ezekiel: "I 'uno why they do it either, a way to be condescending while keeping up the apperance of being friendly…?"
Ezekiel shrugs, leans back in the chair.
AURUM: It opens! The swirling opalescent light spills out! Bathes you in radiance! The music swells, becoming audible - [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkGJmFjfx6Q ]
Nine raises an eyebrow
Ezekiel: "I… huh."
Nine looks away anyway, because it's a bit too bright
Eidolon crosses his arms, meeting the rushing orchestra of light and sound.
AURUM: Seems like…
AURUM: Something's waiting for you, inside.
Flip sways, not quite dancing, as he walks towards the door.
Ezekiel shoves the last cinnabon into his mouth before letting out of the chair and heading inside.
Nine walks in after Ezekiel
Eidolon kicks off from the ground, floating forward.
Clarafina enters!
AURUM: You feel like you're weightless… there's the soft 'hoot, hoot' of an owl.
Ezekiel: "Oh!"
AURUM: Auroras surround you.
Ezekiel: "Sup mister owl?"
Solberg adjusts their gloves and heads inside, glancing around, feeling as if they're missing a tapir companion.
Nine blinks purposefully, looks at Ezekiel
AURUM: There's a tremendous clockwork owl with huge amber eyes, crackling with electricity, and a gigantic moonstone at its core, shining with light. It carefully flutters down, perches on something invisible in the air, flywheels spinning. Head cocked to one side, as one does if one is an owl.
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot," the owl says.
Flip: "Huh."
Ezekiel: "Yeah I caught that much at least."
AURUM: "To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed," the owl says.
Ezekiel: "Oh, okay."
Flip: "Lucky for you, Ezekiel is a master of not understanding."
Ezekiel pulls a tootsie roll pop out of his pocket, offers it to the owl.
AURUM: The owl takes the tootsie roll pop in its beak, carefully. "Thank you," the owl says, -while- said tootsie roll pop is in its beak. Being a fiend sure makes some things convenient, I guess!
Eidolon: "Quick, Solberg, turn off your brain. I'm not looking to be collateral damage."
Ezekiel: "No prob."
AURUM: The owl tosses the tootsie roll pop up into the air in its beak and sort of air juggles it for a hot second, deftly unwrapping it with its beak and then catching it in its mouth.
Ezekiel: "Nice."
Solberg stares at the scene unfolding, dumbfounded. "… I do not think that will be a problem."
AURUM: "…some of you have your answers, and yet you remain."
AURUM: "Why? What unanswered question still binds you to this existence?"
Clarafina: "I'm here because there's a sickness here, of course."
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot."
Flip: "I'm here because not having friends to hang out with is shit."
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot."
Nine: "That question wasn't for me"
Eidolon: "He's hooting after each answer, though! And no, I'm still looking for mine."
AURUM: The owl tilts its head at Eidolon, curiously.
Solberg: "It's all part of a greater conversation. One answer spawns more questions still."
AURUM: "Isn't -that- the truth?"
AURUM: "I was born from an unanswered question."
AURUM: "The entire Apocrypha, born from an unanswered question."
Nine: "And which question is that?"
AURUM: "Can narrative beget narrator?"
AURUM: "If you gathered every story that's ever been told in one place-"
AURUM: "Compressed them like the genesis of a diamond-"
AURUM: "What would happen?"
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot."
Nine: "You'd have a very interesting story database"
Flip: "Some crazy chick with a big sword would come destroy it, apparently."
AURUM: The clockwork owl, genus Monolithos, flaps its wings.
Nine: "Or maybe a very bad crossover game"
Nine: "Though I guess that's what the question was after all"
Eidolon: "That's an interesting one."
Solberg looks behind them. Well, uh. They're probably in the middle of that answer.
AURUM: "There're certainly enough eyes reading the pages. All of you, and the wanderer, and then the system, struggling to become aware of itself."
Nine: "Hrm… Wanderer, the guy that was with us for a while, yes?"
Ezekiel: "That's one's not really that hard tho,"
AURUM: "You haven't met the wanderer yet. But you will, soon."
Nine: "I'll keep an eye out"
Eidolon: "Did a man pass by recently, one who has injested many, many litres of XP?"
AURUM: "This world is their sandbox."
Eidolon: "I just remembered him."
AURUM: "A chance to ask questions."
AURUM: "I'll let them explain, hoot, hoot." Flap, flap. "…yes."
Clarafina: "Are you prepared for disaster?"
Nine: "Running a pretty good simulation here"
AURUM: "He passed through. He did not share with the wanderer." The owl seems disappointed.
Eidolon: "His loss."
AURUM: To Clarafina: "I am prepared for the outcome of the experiment. If disaster strikes, if Winter falls, if a miracle occurs."
AURUM: "Any outcome will satisfy me."
AURUM: "That is my nature."
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot."
Nine: "Well designed, at least"
AURUM: "Would you like to wake up, now?"
AURUM: "Not the grand awakening, of course."
AURUM: "But an awakening."
Nine: "I don't know, this isn't quite my dream" he looks at Ezekiel
Clarafina: "Any outcome at all?"
Ezekiel gently places a hand on Nine's shoulder.
Ezekiel: It's always been my dream dude. Sorry you had to find out this way? "
AURUM: He nods, gravely. "Others may be unwilling to accept reality. This is, quite literally, not my problem."
Ezekiel: "Anyway yeah whatev. Unless you have an alminac laying around here somewhere."
AURUM: "I am still the Apocrypha. I Contain." And it flaps its wings with the sound like rustling pages, and stares deep, deep into Ezekiel's eyes-
Nine: "Well, let's move on from this one, then"
Ezekiel shoves his hand inside the owl's mouth, digs around for something in response.
AURUM: And it feels like you're falling in, and he sees- flash after flash after flash, an eternal library's worth of wacked-out hallucinations-
Ezekiel: "Hahahah."
AURUM: -(among which is /certain knowledge/ of how many licks it takes to get to a tootsie roll pop, knowledge the mortal mind was not built to encompass, and yet)-
AURUM: -(an extensive, worlds-spanning command of thoroughly useless information and deep thoughts, man)-
AURUM: -and then it's over, and you're standing there, light spilling out of your eyes a little, with an almanac in your hands.
Ezekiel: "Get dunked cthulu."
AURUM: "Hoot, hoot."
Eidolon: "You okay?"
Ezekiel: "Yup."
Solberg: "What's that make you, then? Nyarlethotep?"
Flip: "Not enough yellow to be Hastur…"
Ezekiel tilts his head back towards Solberg. "I duno if I'm cute enough to pull off Nyarlko-chan…."
Nine blinks, shakes his head
Ezekiel: "Anyway." Casually opens the book, skims through it. "Whenever you're good."
AURUM: Suddenly: "HOOT!!" It hoots so loud! So very loud! It hoots so loud it startles you all awake! Some of you sit bolt upright in the high-tech clinic beds, blinking aurora-light out of your eyes! It's difficult to see, but you can all hear- "-Doctor, they're awake!" Footsteps, then, cheerfully: "-hello, can you hear me? I'm Dr. Rao of the Foreign Service; I'm glad you're finally coming up for air!"

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