Mage: The Awakening: The Cycle of Spectra Illuminos

The Cycle of Spectra Illuminos: Introductions: 1.2

The Cycle of Spectra Illuminos: Introductions: 1.2

During the funeral scene, the song I Will Find You from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack is played.

Over the next few days, proceedings for the funeral begin. Family and friends console Alonzo in his grief. His Uncle Roman and Aunt Miranda arrive the day after his investigation at the medical examiner’s office. His best friends from school, Esther and her twin brother Phillip, and an old crush Clayton, take the time to stand with him during the burial. Surprisingly, an old friend from junior high is also present at the funeral, Tom.

At the wake, the mood has lightened, and smiling faces bring Alonzo out of his sadness. Esther and Phillip spend a good deal of time with him, catching him up on Esther’s medical school path and Phillips training as a swimmer for the Olympics. Clayton catches up with him as well, introducing Alonzo to his pretty, blonde fiancé named Jessica. This wreaks more havoc on Alonzo’s feelings, but the death of his parents has dulled any kind of further loss he could be feeling.

By the time 10 pm rolls around, many of the guests have left; Aunt Miranda and Uncle Roman have also left to take visitors to the airport. Ether and Phillip leave with their parents and Clayton leaves to take his fiancé home. Tom stays behind.

“Can we talk- in private?” – Tom

The two exit to the privacy of the study where they had once kissed.

During the conversation with Tom, the song Find Love by NLX is played.

“I’m sorry about your parents, Lonz. I made my way here when I heard what had happened.” – Tom

“How did you hear about it?” – Alonzo

“I got a phone call from Esther a couple of days ago. She told me when the funeral would be. I didn’t even think she had my number.” – Tom

“I’m glad you made it all the way here. It is good seeing you after all these years. What ever happened to you? You just seemed to fall off the map.” – Alonzo

Tom says that he moved to Seattle during his sophomore year of high school when his dad transferred to Fort Lewis. Since then, he has been working through his two years of college as a waiter for Texas Roadhouse. He says it’s not bad; the tips are good and he helps renovate bathrooms on the weekends.

For the chronicle, I also provide visuals of NPCs. Tom looks like Matt Muenster from the television show Bath Crashers; this pertains to the small joke on renovating bathrooms on weekends. I allowed Mundy to pick many of the faces attached to the NPC personas. For instance, Maximillian looks like Fred Ward in his early 50s.

“Listen Lonz, there’s a lot I need to talk to you about. I really need to apologize for what happened between us in junior high. If Phillip hadn’t of been there to stop us, I know you would have ended up hurt.” – Tom

Tom is referring to the intimate encounter that he and Alonzo nearly had during the 8th grade. If Phillip had not of stopped them, they would have pursued a sexual encounter. Tom was known as the proverbial male slut in school, and he understands that Alonzo would have walked away emotionally hurt; Tom’s needs were completely self-satisfying. At that time, he cared only about sex and not what the other person would have felt.

“That happened a long time ago, Tom. I’ve never felt any anger about how things turned out.” – Alonzo.

“I guess I’ve just been on a mission lately to apologize to those I have wronged in life.” – Tom

During this admission of guilt from Tom, Mundy rolls a Perception check and finds a business card under his father’s desk. After reading it, he pockets it.

At this point, Tom reaches out and hugs Alonzo in an iron grip. They look to each other and kiss. A pause then passes between them and they gather their senses.

“Where did that come from?” – Alonzo

“That was a bad idea. I should probably go.” – Tom

Tom walks to the front door, even at the insistence from Alonzo to stay. Tom continues to say it is a bad idea.

“Why can’t you stay tonight? It will be good for us to catch up and get to know each other again.” -Alonzo

“Lonz, I’m HIV positive. I found out a year ago and since then I have been trying to come to terms with myself and how I have treated people. I can’t stay here tonight. If I did it would just put me back into the cycle of hurting people again. I can’t keep hurting the people I care about.” – Tom

Tom pauses for a moment then continues.

“You’re the only person I’ve ever really loved, Lonz.” – Tom

“How can you say something like that and just leave?” – Alonzo

“I need to figure me out before I can take this any further. Maybe after I work through this, we can reconnect- get to know each other again. Too much has happened since I left. I would be a disappointment to you.”

Conversation is a tennis match as Alonzo tries to talk Tom into staying. Tom finally stops the conversation and says he needs to get back to his hotel; his flight leaves at 5 am back to Seattle. Alonzo finally gives up his argument, realizing he can’t convince Tom. Tom gets into his car and waves as he drives off.

Alone, Alonzo checks his watch; it’s nearing 1100 pm. He then pulls the business card from his pocket. It’s a card to a new gay club, Lucifer, which opened on Main Street. On the back of the card is a handwritten message that reads: “Ask for Cairo.” This is another strange piece of information. Maximillian was strongly homophobic, and to have a business card to a new gay club was completely uncharacteristic of the man.

Mundy wanted to play a gay PC for this game. Alonzo is a closeted homosexual. He has never come out to his parents because he is afraid of how they would have reacted. Only a few people really know the truth- Clayton, Phillip, Tom, Esther. Much of what happens in Lucifer is toned down in the recount to make it family-oriented, lol.

Alonzo calls the number for the club. A woman answers, loud music playing in the background.

“Club Lucifer.” – The Woman

She has a thick English accent.

“Hello, I’d like to talk to the manager.”

“Seriously? Listen, we’re at the start of Saturday night and people are pushing in. If you need to talk to the manager, call back during non-peak hours.” – The Woman

“Please, I really need to speak to someone.” – Alonzo

“If you really need to talk, get your ass down here and get a drink. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of friends willing to talk to you.”

The woman hangs up on her end. Alonzo changes his clothes and takes his motorcycle into town.

Alonzo arrives at a parking for Lucifer on Main Street, two blocks from the doors to the club. Loud music is heard from the inside and a poster on the outside of the club indicates that tonight is an 80s mixer. He takes in the scene: a large, muscular man with a shaved head bars the door while a line extending a block back waits to gain entrance. Alonzo notices that the doorman is allowing certain people to enter; some people hand the man a hand full of bills, while others he allows entrance based solely on attractive looks. Alonzo tries to get the doorman’s attention by walking by, but the man does not notice him.

Mundy failed at a Presence + Persuasion roll to get the man’s attention. I attributed this to his (doorman’s) lusting after other people in the line.

Instead of waiting at the end of the line, Alonzo walks up to doorman. The rugged bouncer looks to him with a gaze on interest.

“What can I do for you? – Doorman

“I’m here to see Cairo.” – Alonzo

“What did you say?” – Doorman.

He seems surprised to hear the name.

“Cairo. I’m here to see Cairo.” – Alonzo

The man nods a pulls out a cellphone and steps away so he cannot be overheard. After a few moments he returns. He smiles at Alonzo with apparent interest.

“Head inside and ask for Charlie at the bar.”

Following is a list of songs that were played during the club scene. Easy Lover by Phil Collins, Turn Me on by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj, Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart, Marry the Night by Lady Gaga, Give Me Everything by Ne-Yo And Pitbull, Dancing in the Sheets by Shalamar, and Night of Your Life by David Guetta and Jennifer Hudson. Some of these tracks were picked with the idea of presenting symobolism of Alonzo soon transformation into a mage within the World of Darkness. Marry the Night was one of these.

Alonzo heads inside, finding the bar with ease. The song Easy Lover is being played. The dance floor is large with neon and strobe lights flashing to and fro. Every now and again, smoke and glitter burst from hidden batches in the ceiling, inciting the crowd into a dancing frenzy. At the bar is a rail-thin young woman with jet-black spikey hair, several facial piercings, and just as many tattoos. She is wearing a pink too-too over her panties and sleeveless shirt. She looks to Alonzo as he walks up.

This character’s visual was taken from Rooney Mara’s depiction of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

“What’s your pleasure”- Bartender

The girl has a thick English accent. The same Alonzo had spoken to over the phone when he had called earlier.

“The doorman had me come in here to ask for Charlie. I’m here to see Cairo.”

The girl nods, mixing a rum and Coke. She hands it to Alonzo and continues working without another word.

“Are you Charlie? What about Cairo?”

“The boss already knows you’re here. Why don’tcha take a lil’ tour, do a lil’ dance. I’ve got shit to do.”

Alonzo nods and shoots his entire drink. He turns and looks around the club. The dance floor is blazing now and people are bumping and grinding. He watches for a few moments when he notices the gaze of a handsome, blonde gentleman locked on him.

For a little bit of trivia, I began playing the song Give It Up by Evelyn “Champagne” King. This was a ploy to see if Mundy could get the reference from the movie Fright Night. I played this scene out just like the club scene in the movie. Mundy never noticed. Bummer. I’m not surprised though, the movie was the only instance I ever remember this song being played. I’m not sure if he ever saw the original Fright Night either. Chris Sarandon was an awesome bad-guy.

The blonde man zig-zags his way through the dancing throng, meeting Alonzo in the middle of the floor.

“Name’s Damian. Dance with me.”

Alonzo allows himself to move closer to Damian, their bodies moving together with the sound of the music.

“Closer.” – Damian

Alonzo rubs his body closer to the other man. The song, the lights, the people, and the alcohol seem to hypnotize Alonzo into acting out his sexuality like he never has before.

“You want this.” Damian

Not a question.

They kiss.

At this point I had Mundy roll a contested roll versus Damian’s vampiric discipline of Dominate. Mundy gained no success on his Resolve. Tough luck, but I was hoping this would happen to propel the story.

“Now, relax your neck.”- Damian

Alonzo does so, completely enthralled with Damian.

As Damian reaches his hand to Alonzo’s neck, another hand intercepts it in a steel grasp. An attractive, brown-haired man with striking blue eyes nudges Damian back several steps.

“You know the rules of my domain, Damian. In fact, I thought I requested that you not return.” -Brown-Haired Man.

Funny how the visual personas of Damian and Cairo were selected. Cairo is visualized through J.C. Chasez and Damian is visualized through Nick Carter. But in context with what is happening, Alonzo has no real clue what is going on. Mundy even had a hard time understanding what was happening, even with the whole neck thing and Damian. He’ll soon find out though.

“It’s already been a month, Cairo! You know your club is the sickest on main! What, you give out free passes to the clans you want and leave me hanging?” – Damian

“Your exit was indefinite. Your games are not welcome here.” Cairo

Instantly, the bartender appears at Damian’s side and locks his arm in a grip.

Cairo continues, his gaze locked sharply on Damian.

“Charlie, please assist our guest in finding the door. You have trespassed and broken tenants within my domain, Damian.” Cairo

Cairo pauses for a moment, looking to Alonzo. He then shoots an angry gaze back at Damian.

“Your mother will hear of your misdeeds. If I see you lurking around here again, you will see why I hold the social power I possess.” – Cairo

Charlie urges Damian from the dance floor, pushing the man like he is a mere feather-weight. Alonzo is shocked at the physical prowess that the bartender exhibits.

Cairo looks to Alonzo with a considerate smile.

“I apologize for any confusion. It’s just rare that anyone ever asks of my nickname. Please come to my office so we can talk.”

Alonzo agrees and the two walk off to a flight of stairs leading to a corner office on the second floor. The office overlooks the dance floor. Cairo offers Alonzo a chair at the front of his desk and then sits himself. He pulls a photo from underneath a calendar mat and hands it to Alonzo.

“The last person to ask for the name Cairo was this man.” – Cairo

The photo is a surveillance still of Maximillian Petrovsky.

“This is a picture of my father.” – Alonzo

“So you are Maximillian’s son?”- Cairo

“Yes. My name is Alonzo.”

“I see the resemblance. You look just like him, but you have your mother’s eyes.” – Cairo

“Please, if there’s anything you can tell me about your meeting with him, I would really like to know.” – Alonzo

“Max was working with me on a special case. Our meeting did not end well; I did not have the information he needed at the time and he left, well, unhappy.” – Cairo.

“What do you mean ‘a special case’?”- Alonzo

“Aside from my esteemed ventures in the nightclub business, I have others. Your father was working on an international theft case with my winery in Greece. He needed documentation of imports and exports and I unfortunately did not have them at the time. He can be an impatient man at times.” – Cairo

“How do you two know each other?”- Alonzo

Cairo looks to Alonzo with a spark of interest, considering something.

“What path are you following in study?” – Cairo

“What do you mean?” – Alonzo

“Your path- the focus of you studies.”

Cairo is fishing for specific information about Alonzo. His question is in reference to the Path of a mage. More will come on how he knows such things.

“Uh, law. Just the same as my father, I guess.” – Alonzo

Cairo nods with a small frown.

“Your father and I work within the same business circles. We have mutual friends across the globe.” – Cairo

“When did he come to see you?” – Alonzo

“Just a few nights ago- Thursday, early morning around midnight or so.” – Cairo

“My parents died that same night. Probably after leaving this place.” – Alonzo

Cairo seems physically distraught. He straightens his posture within the chair and brings his hands together.

“I sincerely regret hearing this news; I very sorry for your loss.”

Actually, Cairo knows full well what has happened to Alonzo’s parents. He is not an antagonist by any means, but he knows a lot more than he is letting on. More about Cairo will be realized later.

A knock at the door brings the discussion to a close. Charlie pokes her head inside.

“There’s an issue that needs tendin’ on the floor. It’s urgent.” – Charlie

Charlie takes leave; Ciaro stands.

“When Charlie has to come up here to get me, I know something needs my attention. I do apologize for the interruption, but please, accept my condolences on your mother and father; if you are in need of anything, please don’t hesitate to call.” – Cairo

Cairo hands Alonzo another business card, this time with a personal name and contact number. Cairo’s real name is Acacius Vitalis.

“Thanks for seeing me. This has really helped me to understand what happened that night.” – Alonzo

“You are welcome. Now, I must excuse myself.” – Cairo

Cairo follows Alonzo out of the office and down to the dance floor where a heated argument between a man and woman has broken out. Alonzo takes his exit and leaves the way he came, getting an alluring smile and nod from the doorman.

Mundy never asked or realized it, but the name of the doorman was Jaime. Just a bit of off-the-wall knowledge. Jaime has been visualized with the aspect of actor Dominic Purcell- Prison Break, Blade 3.

As he walks away from club Lucifer, Alonzo hears someone calling out his last name.

“Petrovsky- hey, Petrovsky!”

Alonzo sees a dark-haired man standing in line to get into the club. He realizes it is officer Valenzuela from the impound yard where he had investigated his family’s Escalade. Alonzo scoffs, remembering the wedding band the man was wearing that day; tonight it seems to be missing. Alonzo isn’t sure why the man is there, whether some undercover sting-op or case of infidelity. He decides not to go down that road to save face and to hold steadfast to his beliefs.

Alonzo continues onward, ignoring the calling coming from officer Valenzuela. He turns his head back toward the club as he gets closer to the parking lot. When he turns to face forward, he bumps into a group of four men. He staggers backward into the mouth of an alley but keeps his footing.

Mundy had rolled successes on a Dexterity + Athletics check to stay standing.

The four men, drunk with staggered footing and slurred speech, begin to put pressure on Alonzo, throwing out slang names for homosexuals. One of the men, a greasy guy coined by his friends as Rodney, grabs his own genitals.

“You want some of this, freak?” Rodney

Alonzo, angered by the verbal attacks, goes in for a punch on Rodney.

At this point I wanted to introduce combat into the game just to gain a little experience with it. It was all melee combat and the rules proved to flow well. Rodney and his pals were at a disadvantage because of intoxication, giving Mundy a slight edge in the encounter.

A fight ensues with jabs and kicks from both Rodney and Alonzo. Alonzo takes a blow to the face, but avoids any further beating. Rodney takes a barrage of three punches and a kick to the gut.

Both men are so focused in the fight that they do not realize the other three men have fallen to the ground unconscious. They both failed Perception rolls to see a blurred form speed in, taking down one drunk man for each consecutive turn.

Alonzo punches Rodney once more in the face, making the man stagger. Rodney pulls a 9mm from his jacket pocket, pointing it at Alonzo.

“Die you fa…” – Rodney

Before Rodney gets off his last word and gunshot, a dark blur slides in behind him. Rodney gasps for air, dropping his gun as someone, or something, has taken him by the shoulders, its face snuggly attached to the apex of his left shoulder and neck. Blood begins to flow in two streams through Rodney’s collar and down his shirt. Rodney suddenly falls to the ground, leaving the dark visage of a man. When the blackened eyes and bloody fangs fall to the aspect of humanity, the man standing before Alonzo is Cairo.

I have Mundy roll a dice pool equal to his Wisdom score to see if he loses his nerve. Mundy rolled two successes and remained stable.

“What is going on?” – Alonzo

“I will explain all truths in due time. You have just witnessed one part of the world, a darker world. For now you need to leave and let me take care of this mess.” – Alonzo

“What’s gonna happen to them?” – Alonzo

“Do not worry for them. They are still alive and will stay that way as long as I am here.” – Cairo

“Did my parents know what you are???” – Alonzo

“We do not have the time to speak of this matter. Only know that I bore no malice to your mother or father. It was my best intention to aide them in their plight. Your father provided me a very valuable favor. I owe him much for what he has done for me and I will repay that favor for as long as it takes."

“Plight? What? What the hell are you talking about?” – Alonzo

“There is no time to talk of these things, Alonzo. Leave. Now. Allow me to clean up this mess. I will contact you as soon as I am free.” – Cairo

Alonzo leaves at Cairo’s request. He runs to the parking lot to fetch his motocycle and puts on his helmet. Before he kick starts the bike, he feels a gentle hand caress his forearm, startling him. It’s Cairo. The man’s face is serene and considerate, a strange mix in opposition to the monstrous visage Alonzo had seen earlier.

“There is one more thing.” – Cairo

Alonzo stays silent, peering at the vampire through his visor.

“If what your mother and father have told me is true, a very special enlightenment awaits you. Keep your eyes and your mind open, and wade when you cannot walk. When the time comes for you to shed light on a forgotten path, confront your demons head-on. There is no other way.” – Cairo

“What does all that mean? What does any of this have to do with me or my parents?” – Alonzo

“Though it may be impossible, please trust me. Go home; speak with your uncle and aunt. I will contact you once this alley situation has been rectified.” – Cairo

Much of what happened next within the session was a lot of narrative. I will try to put in as much as I can to explain what Alonzo experienced. During this period, I take full advantage of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, focusing on tracks Disc Wars and Recognizer while the PC is exploring. Other tracks will be expressed later.

Alonzo takes no time to argue, squealing his tires as he leaves the parking lot. He comes to a stoplight further down on Main Street; no traffic or pedestrians are around. He removes his helmet and takes in a deep breath of night air. He closes his eyes, trying to make sense of everything that has happened. When he opens his eyes, it is to nothing but complete blackness. Panicked, Alonzo begins to look in all directions in fear of becoming blind. All is black around him. No streetlights, no buildings or trees, just him and the sound of his motorcycle humming.

Alonzo begins to realize that there is no wind as there was moments ago, and a stagnant stale scent permeates the air. Though he can still see himself and the motorcycle, it is at a shaded level, like how a person can see characters in movies walking around in the dark; environments are in a very dim twilight; the same is applied to Alonzo’s current whereabouts.

“Hello!” Alonzo

No one answers.

The ground beneath him is smooth, as dark and black as the thick veil everywhere else. For some odd reason, he feels a ball in the pit of his stomach churning, like the moment of longing after meeting a new lover or the excitement felt while sky diving. The feeling in his gut is urging him forward, pushing him to explore the darkness. He puts on his helmet, balances his bike, and rides forward.

Alonzo travels for what feels like eternity before he begins to hear an odd sound in the distance. The further he goes, the louder this sound becomes until it becomes recognizable as the sound of flowing water. Every inch he takes ushers in a cacophony of sound that pierces the lonely blackness in which he has been subject to; it is a welcome sound.

Alonzo comes to the source of the flowing water sound as the path he has been traveling quickly drops off four feet before reaching the steady flow of some kind of liquid. All is dark and black, just as everything else in this pitch black hell. It looks like a river, but Alonzo cannot see far enough to tell how wide it is or how far it goes in either direction. The stagnant smell he has been subject to is coming from this water source. Its foul odor is nauseating.

I have Mundy roll a Composure + Resilience check to see if he avoids vomiting. He succeeds on the roll.

Alonzo tries to test both directions, coming to no end either way. Stuck, he stares down into the river of black fluid, thinking of what to do.

Mundy rolls Intelligence + Wits (An Idea roll; the original Call of Cthulu game had some great mechanics) and succeeds. He remembers what Cairo had told him earlier- to wade when you cannot walk.

With no other way to go, Alonzo sets the kickstand to the motorcycle then steels his nerves for what he is about to do.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” – Alonzo

He still can’t beleive he is going to do this.

Alonzo climbs into the thick liquid of the black river, wading and swimming as the levels of depth rise and fall.The swim across the stank body of water is long, but far from treacherous; Alonzo guesses it was two miles to reach the other side that opens into another bout of darkness. As he steps out of the water and onto dry land, he realizes that what water should be clinging to his clothing, skin, and hair falls from his body in a large puddle to the smooth black ground. Ahead of him and on both sides lies a black shrouded landscape, one he has grown accustom to seeing. Without his motorcycle though, he suddenly feels “alone”.

Alonzo continues onward through the dark abyss, wondering when it will end. With no sound, color, or smell since the swim in the putrid river, he feels as if he is walking blind. Alonzo is not for certain how long he has been in this place; at times it feels like minutes and other times days. Aside from cracks and crevices within the smooth, cold, ground beneath his feet, nothing changes. What he does notice throughout this never-ending journey is that the darkness isn’t truly black or shadowed, but solid matter which seems to lack depth and color. Even the ground he can imagine in different colors and hues, it’s almost like something sucked the life out of this place or is keeping sunlight from bathing it. He can’t understand why he has come to this conclusion, but the longer he walks within this place, the closer a connection he feels to it. More notable is the fact that the farther Alonzo walks in this direction, the more the ball in the pit of his gut toils and tumbles.

More time passes, and Alonzo begins to feel fatigue wear on his muscles and joints. He takes a seat along the path. Who would care anyway, it’s not like he has seen anyone else along this messed up nightmare, and he has been awake for who knows how long. Alonzo sighs with a gaze locked to the ground, wishing there was a stick or pebble to kick around when he hears a strange unsettling noise in the distance- a sound loud enough to echo throughout the dark realm. The distinct constant noise, like a screeching cry of metal against metal, comes from the direction he was walking in. Within the span of about 30 seconds, the screeching metal sound is silenced with a loud “BOOM” noise. All then goes silent as it was before.

The farther Alonzo walks in this direction, he begins to realize that the black shroud is easing from the surroundings. He can see greater lengths in the distance, black mountains rising on all sides. There is still no depth or color to the area, but at last there is something! As he brings his gaze forward again from the reverie, a gargantuan tower looms ahead, a dark spire of eerie proportions. Alonzo’s mind and fear insists to turn and walk away, but the churning ball in the pit of his stomach beckons him toward it.

Alonzo walks forward with apprehension, and begins to see more defining aspects of the great tower. Though one solid structure, a central tower rises above five other surrounding towers. Each side tower comes to a sharp peak; the central tower ends with a flat surface. Above that surface, something large and circular floats within midair. Alonzo blinks and shakes his head, thinking he has lost his mind, transferred to some Lord of the rings dream; the more he struggles to wake, the more he realizes that he truly is.

As Alonzo finally approaches the tower, he sees giant chains shooting from the upper sides of the opening in the tower, attached to a drawbridge that makes a path over some kind of moat. Whatever is in this moat smells just as foul as the river, if not more potent. He begins to run toward the tower, hope rising in the well of his stomach. He has finally found something!

Notions that Alonzo has finally reached some kind of habitable area are squashed when he sees a dark form walking from inside of the tower and out onto the drawbridge. Whatever or whoever this being is has no visible depth or color, just like the surrounding landscape. The shrouded being is about Alonzo’s height, with the same structure as a human, walking with a forward and unwelcoming posture. Unlike him, its steps do not make a sound when connecting with the ground. When about 20 yards away, the beings stops, it’s chest rising and falling like it is breathing with an adrenaline force, yet there is no sound as the breath escapes from it.

“Hello?” – Alonzo, meekly.

As Alonzo speaks, two red pinpoints of light flare and dissipate where eyes should be on the shrouded being. It raises one arm and then the next, rushing toward him with malicious intent.

Mundy rolls a higher initiative than the Black Aspect, giving him the upper hand. What follows is a long session of combat, especially since it is only the two of them. Successes on melee attacks were few and far between, but it kinda reminded me of a Kung Fu fight between Neo and Agent Smith. For this battle I played the track Rinzler from the Tron: Legacy score as the Black Aspect’s theme song.

A battle is met with hand and fist. Where a single punch lands, a kick follows in a flurry of blows met between the two. The more Alonzo tries to push offensively, he finds himself defending just as much, and vice versa in regard to the Black Aspect. In between blows, Alonzo is frightened with realization that the Black Aspect looks like him, exactly like him.

The thing really does look like him. The Black Aspect is truly an aspect of Alonzo’s Sleeper life. It has all of his attrbutes, skills, defense, and health. It is the concentrated form of Alonzo’s ignornance of the Supernal Realm and of all of his lifelong sins made material and demoic. He is literally fighting himself.

Alonzo throws a thrust kick into the Black Aspect’s gut, and a demonic growl erupts from an unseen mouth. With the contact of the blow, images flash through Alonzo’s mind’s eye. Every sin he ever committed strikes at his heart, flooding him with emotions and feelings of pain, lust, sadness, and ego.

The Black aspect takes a step back, eyes blazing again with red heat. It throws everything it has into Alonzo. Alonzo dodges two punches and a roundhouse kick. As he ducks to avoid another punch, the Black Aspect knees him in the gut, sending him into a backwards stagger. The thing rushes toward Alonzo in a rage, screaming a scream only heard in the realms of hell. Alonzo waits for the beast, and leaps into a jump-spinning, back kick, connecting with the Black Aspect’s chest.

The Black Aspect flies backward several feet. As it falls to the ground, Alonzo feels a small jab of pain in his chest, and then a comforting release like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He watches as thing begins to crumble and wither away, leaving in its wake a small sphere of golden-yellow flame. The ball of fire rises from the dark husk and hovers just a foot away from Alonzo within reach.

Alonzo watches the ball of flame intently, trying to distinguish any hostility. When he tries to reach for the flame, it flutters away from his hand playfully. Alonzo realizes that it doesn’t shed any heat. When he tries to walk away from the little ball of flame, it follows, staying just out of reach. He finally gives up with a sigh, and begins walking into the looming tower. As he passes the ash pile of the Black Aspect, a heavy wind erupts from behind and blows the black dust into the air and away. The wind was fresh, the first natural occurrence within this dark world.

As Alonzo walks across the drawbridge and through the entrance to the tower, he feels diminished from the sheer size of the enormous spire. All is black and bleak within the tower as it is without, and the churning ball within his gut is wildly urging him forward, nearly causing his abdomen to cramp. He scoffs, thinking the outside of the tower was dark; the inside is completely black. By the light of the small hovering flame, he sees smooth walls on all sides rising above and around a spiraling staircase in the center of the tower. Suddenly, the small flame bobs forth from behind him and begins to ascend the staircase. It stops at the initial curve, seemingly waiting for him to follow.

Ascending the staircase, Alonzo sees that the walls within the tower are as smooth as the ground outside and just as black. The farther he climbs, his eyes begin to focus on the innards of the tower. Five points within the lowest level bow outward, apparently congruent with the towers surrounding the main tower. Whoever constructed this place certainly had something specific in mind; nothing made on Earth could compare to the architecture of it.

Looking down to the ground floor of the tower, Alonzo begins to piece these odds and ends of information together. The five points seen below could most certainly be in the shape of a five-pointed star in an upright position in conjunction with the layout of the drawbridge. What this means, however, is unknown to him.

Traversing these stairs seems to Alonzo like taking the long walk to get to the top of the Empire State building. He isn’t certain how many steps he has climbed; he stopped counting at 400. The bobbing flame stops every now and again to allow him to keep pace, almost motivating him to proceed further. There is no real reason to quit since he has nowhere to go.

Sweat clings to open areas of Alonzo’s skin and saturates enclosed areas of his clothing. With the lack of any cross breeze, he feels hot and claustrophobic. When Alonzo no longer wishes to ascend, feeling like there is no end to this tower, he arrives to a landing, which leads to an open arch. All is shrouded in a black veil beyond what is observed per the light of the levitating ball of flame

As Alonzo step out onto the top of the tower, the illumination from the small ball of flame increases, shedding a radiant light around the area. Nothing exists on the top of this tower except for something that looks like a large well in the center with five conduits running to it. In the center of this well is a waist high pedestal. He walks closer to it but stops suddenly.

Alonzo looks up as something catches his eye. Floating 100 feet in the air above the large well is a thin, round, black disc, which measures equally to the radius of the well; there’s no telling what the hell is keeping it suspended in midair. He also notices that the conduits running to or from the well are aligned in conjunction with the five spires surrounding the main tower.

As Alonzo tries to walk forward, the ball of flame stops, and flares a burst of material light that throws a circular barrier between him and the well. He takes another step and the ball of flame flares again. When he tries to move away from the flame, it stays in place, but does not emit the shield of light that it did before.

Alonzo digs his feet into the surface of the tower, grinding his teeth in frustration. What else is there to do? He traveled all this way, swam through a cruddy river, fought a black shadow that looks like him, entertained a somewhat intelligent ball of fire, and climbed so many damned steps that he wanted to scream.

Suddenly, the realization hits him. The ball of flame- it isn’t moving and it’s not following him when he turns to walk away. He steps toward the ball of golden fire, extending his arm.

When Alonzo reaches out, the tips of his fingers skim across the licks of flame. Every second he holds his hand out to the fire, the warmer the ball of flame gets, filling him with the kind of hope that is devoid in this dark realm. When he removes his hand from the flames, he realizes the ball of flame is no longer there. The fire that once led Alonzo to the top of this tower now envelopes his hand, flames flickering and dancing around his wrist and around his fingers. Nothing blocks his path to the well and the floating disc.

Alonzo walks forward and steps over the two foot wall of the well, realizing that he isn’t standing in a well at all. No clue points to what it is he is standing in, only that the pedestal in the middle of it is just as black as everything else in this nightmare. As he approaches the pedestal, he sees that the top is flat, with the mold of a human hand centered within. The base of whatever he is in is made of the same solid, smooth, cold substance that the rest of this place is made from. He holds his hand out in measurement of the hand mold on the pedestal. The size of the hand mold fits his hand perfectly. It is also a mold of the same hand that is enveloped with the warm golden flame.

Alonzo reaches his flame drenched hand out and fits it snuggly into the hand mold on the pedestal. It’s almost like this mold was meant just for his hand. When he applies a little pressure on the surface, the flame from his hand bursts and lights his entire body on fire. Hotter and hotter the temperature of the fire increases, and in his mind’s eye he envisions flesh and muscle being stripped from his bones, turning to ash. Alonzo tries to scream, but when he opens his mouth, nothing escapes. He tries to pull his hand from the pedestal but to no avail, and as quickly as this all began, the pedestal rumbles and lowers slowly into the floor. A large flame now thrives within the well, surrounding Alonzo within an embrace of warmth and knowledge.

Alonzo walks from the fire, stepping out of the well feeling somewhat reenergized and new, like all the sins he committed, all the ignorance that he was under, have melted away.

“The Beacon of the Watchtower of the Diamond Lens has been lit,” he hears someone speak, frighteningly surprised that the words flowed from his own mouth.

Five pinpoints of bright, white, light appear in sky above. A resounding boom erupts in the heavens, and those pinpoints of light plummet toward the tower, solid beams of hot illumination. Each beam of light strikes the tip of the corresponding tower surrounding the main watchtower. Alonzo feels the floor at his feet vibrating, and in moments, the conduits running to the well pulse with the bright, white light. Within the well, the siphoned energy of the light concentrates, pooling within the base and rising to the brim. Instantly, another boom erupts, and the concentrated light within the well shoots into the sky, striking the black, circular disc above the tower.

As this energy pulsates against the disc, the black veil covering it begins to burn away, revealing a disc made of solid, polished, transparent diamond. Alonzo watches as the diamond disc focuses the condensed light, and another boom sounds as the energy flows from the lens in its most purified form. The giant, iridescent beam of light flies into the black sky, and as if by magic, the black shroud covering the area begins to melt and burn away, just as it did on the diamond lens. The sky blazes with a distinct yellow sun, throwing light into the horizon.

As the last bit of darkness is destroyed, Alonzo realizes that everything in this place, the mountains, the land, and even the tower is made completely of diamond. The tower, now in its pure, majestic form, glows with the energized light flowing through it. For some reason, Alonzo knows that doors have been unlocked in other places, beckoning other people like him to open them.

A warm winds blows from the west, refreshing the area with a clean scent of spring. The giant river crossing the land in the distance reflects the sunlight with its crystal clear, blue waters. Alonzo notices that below him, the moat surrounding the tower houses this clean water as well and that an enormous diamond draw bridge extends to allow entrance. With all that is strange to him in this realm, Alonzo feels oddly at home. He closes his eyes and entertains a peaceful thought as the warm wind blows against his face and through his hair.

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