At midnight, @Pahi Oki finds himself at the hot spring surrounded by a score of seasoned warlocks, with Eloros the Scribe at the front. A complex ritual wrangling powerful elemental forces causes the hot springs to churn alternately boiling and freezing, yet never causing the fusionist more than slight discomfort. At the peak of the ritual, Pahi's sight goes dark. He sinks beneath the pool, opens his eyes, and sees a vision of absolute horror as the face of the avatar of death is revealed to him. The fright overwhelms him and he gasps while beneath the surface. In a flash, he is pulled into the elemental plane. The place where his body was leaves a vacuum, causing a thunderclap when the waters rush to fill the void. Eloros' face turns ghost pale, but even the chief warlock is unable to reach beyond to find the First Nation man.
@Alex is stunned by the sudden disappearance of Nixie. He looks frantically for the city rat for a minute or two, but the realization hits him before long. She's gone. Dejected, he returns to the college and collects his abandoned power armor. Upon running the power-up sequence, he is immediately bombarded by the rhythmic thump of cyber-electronica in his audio feed. He recognizes it almost immediately as a dance remix of the Drei Marbles Left hit, "I'll Never Forget...What Was Your Name?" His heads-up display scrolls a message in binary code: "Hey, hot stuff. You're too good for me. I'm no hero. I'm ghosting before something goes down. Maybe I'll catch you another time." The message stops, and a screenshot of a Space Invaders high score pops up. The top 3 scores:
1ST 105,510 NIX
2ND 102,100 LVS
3RD 99,820 ALX
The following day nets new information on Amity as the 12th continues their scholarly endeavors. Even @Kidemonas gets in on the action, everyone learning as much as they can about their eventual destination. @Everett Jackson and @Marten spend their time in the restaurants, sampling as much food as they can jam into their faces. @Adriana, fed up with the city, hits the countryside to wander a bit. The walls of MercTown are too confining. She takes comfort in the wild, recharging her spirit in anticipation of the strange world she's soon to find.
A few days pass, and the 12th reconvenes for their chosen time of departure. Menelaus Clotho and Eloros the Scribe meet you in a lab on the campus running under the ley line. Eloros presents you with the ill news - Pahi Oki vanished in the elementalist ritual. "I don't believe the ritual claimed his life, but the elemental plane at least claimed his body. I was unable to bring him back, or even to reach him."
Clotho shakes his head vigorously as if trying to shake the misfortune from his thoughts. "We have little choice but to proceed. I will search for him another time." He turns to @Dominic Skodati. "Have you the book? Is everything ready?!" He hands a pack of notes to @Gaspard Gillead and a datastick to @Heather Todd. "Notes on the ritual of summoning the entity, the return, and the ritual of sealing the rift."
Each member of the 12th, as well as Clotho and Eloros, take up a position around a mystic focus placed in the middle of the room. With a low murmur, the incantation begins. First with Clotho, then the Scribe. One by one, the mystically inclined members of the 12th add their arcane skills, and the remaining members of the 12th add their own psychic wills to the spell. With a crackle and a pop, a portal opens. On the other side is a desolate world. The planet is a wasteland. Remnants of cities ravaged by time and neglect are visible, interspersed with areas of vast, empty desert. Hints of the greatness of the long-dead civilization are still seen, though nothing can withstand the inevitable march of time.
Clotho's chanting begins to escalate in intensity. Eloros peers through the rift. "The environment is inhospitable at best. The elements are out of balance here. The longer you stay, the worse your going will be. And that is nothing to say of the Nihil Storms. You must hurry! Undo the Book. Save the megaverse!" As a parting gift, the warlock imbues those of the 12th without EBA armor a single casting of Environmental Protection, giving you an hour of protection against harsh environments.
Stepping through the rift, you find yourself standing in sand. The energy of this place is oppressive. Those who are mystically or psionically inclined immediately feel the silent echoes of a race that obliterated itself. You also feel chaotic surges and ebbs of power. With a little exertion, you could use this to amplify your power. Those who aren't so inclined can still feel an almost claustrophobic air, as if the world is crushing in on you.
What passes for a sun here is choked in a sandy haze. Rocks jut from the landscape like jagged stone teeth. The wind drives sand and grit into the joints of your armor and folds of your clothing.
Whether it be curiosity, greed, or simply the desire to get the job done and get out of there, you decide to move. Your compasses seem to indicate north and south poles. The crags in those directions would make your going both slow and dangerous. To the west, the path wanders into a canyon. Eastward, the land flattens out.