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I set the fluff on the table. It stares up at me with a sparkle in its eye. I can feel it gently applying pressure against my mental shields as it tries to make contact with my mind. I’ve dealt with enough of these lobster-eyed creatures to know better than to let it in. Those who have, don’t live long to tell about it.
I leave it on the table as I make my way out into the courtyard towards the temple. The ancient runes inscribed on the lintel of the hypethral structure are a warning from the old gods. Do not enter this place unclean. I stop at the basin and dip my fingers in the cold water, then drag my fingers down the sides of my head to meet under my chin. Keeping my fingertips together I slip off my shoes and dip my toes in the lower basin. The water of the lower basin scalds my feet, but I make no sudden moves. The old gods are a capricious bunch. The courtyard is full of statues of those who went before me: the collectibles of the gods, frozen in time for their lack of discipline.
Once I am safely inside the temple, I slowly lower my shields to the fluff. I sense its surprise at being granted access. It rushes in, attempting to fill my mind with the incredible alienness of its thoughts. But here in the temple, the old gods have dominion. And they alone are allowed to have access to the minds of their acolytes. They take turns torturing the fluff. First, the god of water fills my mind with the sound of a thousand waterfalls, and then the goddess of air whispers her fury with the force of a hurricane. The god of earth thunders with the force of a dozen earthquakes, and the goddess of fire crackles through my mind like an inferno. Then the last god, the god of the void, sends the fluff’s consciousness sailing away into nothingness.
I slowly come back to myself and find that I am lying on a stone bench inside the temple. The stars shine down on me and I make out the constellation Orion. The hunter is a good omen. I gently make my way out of the temple. The air outside the temple is noticeably cooler. I shiver as I cross the courtyard.
The fluff is gone. A small pile of ashes the lone indicator that it was ever here. I take down a small jar from the bookshelf and remove the lid. There is barely room for the ashes. As I sweep the new ashes into the jar, I begin the mental preparations for the spell I will need to cast. Replacing the lid, I carry the jar down the short flight of stairs to my laboratory.
The open space in the middle of the floor is covered in circles and triangles all intersecting each other in different ways. The circle in the center is inlaid into the stone floor in platinum. I set the jar down in the circle and step back. I whisper a few key words and the platinum begins to glow. I touch the corners of several triangles and trace the curves of two circles, all while intoning the words of my spell. At the climax of the spell, I put my hands inside the two circles and draw them together. They move through the stone and merge into one. The platinum circle flashes like the sun and then fades away. I pick up the jar and look inside.