Captain Arabella sends seeking glances among the Wild Bunch: first to Oak (who tries to make his point abundantly clear by making his eyes go wide and subtly nodding towards Urixes), then back to the Warlock, shaking his head ever-so-gently, trying his level-best to assure the Captain the time for this isn’t now.
Finally, she glances towards Jack. Seeing the Captain look over, the young Shifter gives her his most winning smile, and nods effusively! A broad grin spreads across Ari’s face, and eventually, she nods to him in return. “Mister Brightbeard?” she addresses the pilot with confidence.
“Ma’am…?” The (usually) cheerful Dwarf responds (rather tentatively).
The Captain points a single, definite finger in the direction of the Mirrored-Spires. “Take us in.”
Stifling the first, tiny hint of a grumble before turning the wheel, Derbin stands at attention and salutes. “Aye-yi, Captain!”
Captain Arabella turns back towards Urixes, and whispers, “I appreciate your candor, Mister Urixes, and I always will. I hope you understand my decision, even iffen you don’t agree with it. Please know, that if it was you? Or Arno trapped, an’ we could maybe find em’? I’d be making the same decision.”
Calthus Zorkul watches the conversation with a muted interest as he passes by, headed up towards the Crow’s Nest. He sends out a whistle along the top decks. “Eyes and ears, folks!” He shouts. “Strange structures ahead…keep yer’ wits about you!”
The Whispered Curse slowly glides into the strange, glittering sea of rock formations, as overhead, the few remaining wispy clouds disperse…
The crew, armed and at the ready, all glance about warily as the towering spires float by, nervous that everything about this feels like a trap, or ambush! There’s an unnatural silence as everyone collectively holds their breath, and for a long time the only sounds are the waves sloshing against the sides of the Ship, and distant birds.
Finally breaking the silence, the weather-worker Refi Truespring irritably spouts, “What even is this place?”
A teeny voice pipes up from way back towards the forecastle, “Oy! It’s a giant Snigglewort, is what it is!”
Captain Arabella looks back towards wherever the voice came from, equal parts intrigued and annoyed. “I’m sorry…a snuggle-what?”
“Accck!” the voice spits from back at the forecastle. Tiny feet begin to stamp their way towards the wheel, as Meepo the Kobold approaches, fiery and irritated. “Snigglewort!” they yell at the top of their lungs. “Snigglewort! Ye’ know? Like you find in the shops? Pull the baubles through the maze en’ each side, bring em’ all to the center chamber, pop the box an’ get a treat? Fer the wee ones?”
No one aboard seems to know what a “Snigglewort” is, but Meepo’s description has a few people scratching their chins in slight recognition. Fiver the Lapine nearby, (usually outwardly nervous around the little-dragon), raises a tentative paw. Meepo looks over as he storms past, and the big rabbit suggests, “Ye’ mean…like a puzzlebox?”
“Yes! Yesssss,” Meepo says triumphantly, smacking the railing as he comes to stand next to the Captain. “A snigglewort! Ye’ see the tiny rope ladders overhead, linking the mirrors?” The crew looks. Yes, there’s a number of rope bridges up there…wispy and rather insubstantial, but they’re there. The bossy little Kobold continues, “Ye have a team disembark en’ foot, follow the path o’ the ship…pull them mirrors into proper configuration…meanwhile, thur Curse’ is activating rope-sensors under der water ter’ unlock the mirrors so they can swing around…ye’ manage to do both at the same time, when ye’ get ter the end, there’s a prize inside! Course, if you fail, the door shuts-locked, usually fer a week, maybe two?” The Kobold shrugs. “Guess’en we en’t gonna stick around to try it again!”
“”Proper configuration”,” Arabella repeats, now intrigued at all this. “What do you mean? Point them all at the exit?”
“Nah, don’t be daft,” the little Kobold clucks boldly. “Mirrors ent’ to get looks, mirrors is to guide light.” He points at the parting clouds overhead. “S’why we’re fortunate we got here about noon-time. The mirrors are ter’ catch the holy light…shoot it between’ each other…an’ if we can get the Radiance all the way to the last one fore’ the light fades, door’ll open up an’ snigglewort’ll pop!”
Captain Arabella rubs her chin and reflects. She leans down towards the Kobold, and ponders with sudden, dread concern. “I’m almost afraid to ask, but…when you say “holy light”…?”
As if on cue, the sun suddenly parts from the few remaining clouds overhead, and the nearest-mirror to the Ship lights-up. Strangely, unnaturally, the mirror catches the light, and holds it within for a moment. Then, with a crackle of brilliant, white hot energy, the ray of light is refracted out from the mirror, and shoots violently across the main deck of the Curse!
Two crewmates nearby are too slow to react, and the radiant rays catches them directly in the face! The Fire Genasi Lenet, and the Tortle Rocky, (both new crewmates), yell in pain as the weaponized-light threatens to blind their eyes!
Overhead, Calthus yells down, “Avert yer eyes! Stay out of the light! The light burns!”
Nearby, Meepo clucks with self-satisfaction, eager to have been proved right, and proud to be showing their worth to their new companions (but, rather blatantly disrespectful of Lenet and Rocky). With their undeniable, arrogant air about them, the little dragon folds his arms and turns back to the Captain. “Yer show, Cap’. Best ye’ get movin’ then, if you don’t want this snigglewort to snap on all our heads!”
The Captain takes a moment to glare at the mouthy little Kobold, before placing her hands on her hips and turning to face the crew. “Bugger’s not wrong,” she says. “Best get moving. Mister Urixes?” she inquires, looking back proudly at the Wild Bunch. “I know Mister Oak will insist on the honors. So when you two an’ Jack are ready, we’ll pull up to the closest…”
“Ey! Eyyy!,” Meepo says, shaking his arms overhead. “Send me, Cap’! I’m going with!”
Now irritated, Captain Arabella turns on the Kobold with a barely suppressed rancor. “Look, little guy, I appreciate your insight on "snugglewumps", but this is your first day aboard my ship. So if ya think, fer even a second, ye’re gonna start running things around here, you need to fuck-off back beneath, got it?”
Meepo catches himself and draws back a bit. For the first time thrown off, he nevertheless persists in getting a word in. “It’s jest…if they have any issues wit’ the mirror devices…if I was dere ta’ help…”
“Hrrmph,” The Captain considers for a moment. She relents reluctantly, “Alright, but if you’re headed out there, you’d better listen up, got it? You follow these three's orders, just the same as if I was standing there in their place, understand? If I hear anything otherwise…”
“No trouble, Cap’!” Meepo says merrily, trotting up to the Wild Bunch. “Me an’ Jack here have met…we already get on famously! Erd’ about the Undying there, o'course, ” he nods respectfully in Urixes’s direction. Then Meepo approaches Oak like a prize stallion, rubbing his little claws together in anticipation. “An’ Big Man here…size of an Oak, that’s fer sure! Figure I’d just climb up his back, take a ride on his shoulders ter get…” The Kobold sees something flash in Oak’s eyes. His tone shifts dramatically, and he falls back a few steps, nervous. “Errr, I mean….if that’s alright with Mister Oak, here, of course!”
Carefully, slowly, Derbin guides the Curse up as closes as he can get to the smallest of the spires…
The Wild Bunch ascends. Ten minutes pass, maybe more.
Below, the Whispered Curse seems to have discovered the first of the underwater lines which function to unlock the overhead devices! The ship idles in place, as Calthus Zorkul sits in the Crow's Nest watching Oak, Meepo, and Jack slowly climb their way upwards...
Urixes finds handholds intuitively, scaling the spire with a quickness. He doesn't even realize just how far he's pulled ahead of the others, until he pulls himself up, and comes to stand atop the Spire. Catching his breath, the Tiefling takes a moment to appreciate the magnificent view...
The little Kobold atop Oak’s shoulders makes no response to Jack, as they finally descend down Oak’s right pantleg to the dirt below, eyes wide. The blue dragon-man totters overs towards a smooth rock and sits themself against the side of the mirror, pressing against it to get out of the sun’s light well away from the face of the lens. They gasp slightly for awhile, and it soon becomes apparent to the Wild Bunch that the little fella is suffering from a fear of heights, agoraphobia, an aversion to the sun, or maybe all of the above.
Meepo feels the gaze of the three, and manages to squeak out an, “I’m alright! Jest gimme a second here….not used to the, errr, brights an’ the heights is all!”
It takes awhile for the whole group to get their composure. To the bored crew far, far below, Bern has started one of his usual feel-good shanties, and is trying to get a sing-along started. Sea birds, nestled overhead at the top of the mirror, look down and caw, disturbed at the sudden disturbance.
Nearby to the Wild Bunch, the light cooks inside the mirror, and the air around feels almost stifling hot. For a single moment Jack looks over, and next to where he sits just outside the mirror’s gaze he sees a familiar shaggy tail, wagging. The sight slowly draws him in, while Oak and Urixes attempt to guide the light’s beam, but the mountainous spires around make it difficult. At more than a few points, the peaks around seem to be designed to cut off where you would attempt to point the mirror, and it’s hard to focus in the heat and high-noon sun…
As the mirror swivels, a voice suddenly croaks from the rocks nearby. “Ey, wee more that way! Southwest! Nah, the way you were going!…Beck jest a lettle…” Urixes, hand within the device, subtly guides the mechanism at the Kobold’s instruction, and all at once the light connects to a mirror to the dead east of the group. From within the paired mirrors, a sound *CLANGS* out, angelic and loud near to the point of deafening!
Far below, a holler goes out from the crew of the Whispered Curse! Something seems to have occurred in the lines beneath the water, and after a few tentative moments the ship sails further along into the maze and your mates cheer!
Oak moves to help the Kobold up, and they grab his arm and start into a profuse apology. “Yeh, sorry, real sorry bout’ dat, jest…while ye’ were carrying me up, I caught a glance at meself in the mirrors. Thought I saw meself falling off yer back…it…got into me head, a bit, bein’ honest…”
As the Barbarian helps the little dragon up, they both find that he’s been sitting on something….a long, sturdy line of rope, which appears to be identical to the other lengths of rope which act as “bridges” between the high-mirrors. The rope seems to be sure and sturdy.
Curious, Fusspot dances from Jack’s shoulder up onto his head, to get a closer look. Close by, Hex nestles into the dirt of the spire, gazing up languidly at the chattering birds overhead.
The group, following the light beam to its destination, finds the next mirror to be roughly sixty feet away (and a twenty foot climb up to a higher vertical altitude). The mirror is pointed this way, and within it, the Wild Bunch can make out the tiny images of their own reflections…
Munching the last bits of seed from Jack’s hand, Fusspot looks to the distant mirror, back at Jack, to the mirror again. The little guy turns his head quizzically, then gives a soft chirp of acknowledgement. He darts forward and seizes the end of the large rope tightly as he can between his small talons, while behind, Hex grasps the heftier part of the rope within his large beak.
The avians take flight as a pair, gracefully swooping up and around the tall jutting hill, circling it a few times from on high. Mister Fusspot seems to be trying to find a good place to plant the rope…he finally decides on a rock out-cropping just behind the mirror device, and the birds descend toward the spire…
Shortly after they arrive, the two seem to be having some sort of disagreement…Hex is cawing bossily, trying to nudge the tiny griffon over, which Fusspot squawks at in return! It’s hard to make out exactly what’s happening next, between the rocks and fluttering of wings. But it looks like Fusspot manages to dance in and out behind one of the rocks, carefully dragging and looping the rope behind him, four, five times while Hex feeds him more line. Eventually, the wee griff runs out of rope, and with a final yank to tighten it, drops back to the ground below. Hex (playful or pushy, its hard to say) gives the smaller bird a few light shoves with his head, and Fusspot jump around in consternation, breaking into strange, slightly-aggressive birdsong at the harassment.
As the playfully bickering birds make their return, Urixes gives a few tugs at the rope. Seems solid enough, and should make the climb up much easier. Far below, the Curse carefully navigates through fields of smaller rocks, roughly mirroring the Wild Bunch’s journey up and to the Northeast.
Oak’s mounting terror quickly clears as he focuses on the boiling anger which dwells within. He drags his focus elsewhere, towards the group’s goal, pushing down personal concerns for the moment. Two more stops along these tall spires, then: the vertical climb up to the next mirror; what seems to be a swing over to another nearby spire, and finally what looks to be a fairly uneventful double rope bridge, leading to the tallest of the Spires, where an entire field of the polished ocean-mirrors (very much resembling the eye of some giant insect) sits at the ready, far below where sunlight would normally be able penetrate…
Oak gives a glare at the next mirror overhead. He watches as the reflections of the Wild Bunch slowly grow faint and bright, until they are completely wiped out by the growing white light. He smiles grimly himself, feeling a tinge of satisfaction at the radiant light extinguishing the foul visage within the mirror…
Meepo says nothing, gives not a word of protest as the Barbarian pulls him up onto his shoulders. Still breathing heavily, the little thing tenses up for a moment. Then, slowly, quietly, the little dragon man sinks into the back of Oak's hairy shoulders, nestling as close as he can and trying not to look down.
Hand over hand, veins bulging, the Shifter scales the ropes between the spires, one step at a time traversing a massive vertical fall into choppy, rock filled waters below.
Oak's heart pumps and he moves along the ladders in a steady rythm, not looking down. He only stops once: for a moment, the upper line seems to tug uncomfortably. Looking up, Oak and Meepo hold their breath, as Fusspot's "knot" threatens to slide up over the top of the rock. It pulls, begins to give...and then catches once more against the side of the mirror, holding tight.
Wasting no time, the Shifter and his small parcel rush to climb the last few feet, and pulls them up the side of the spire, sweat glistening.
The two sit for a moment, resting, finally daring to look down. After a short while, the Barbarian, breathing heavily, pulls himself to his feet, and moves to re-tie the rope to the rock...
Urixes’s hand slowly guides the sun device from beneath, rotating the giant reflective shell overhead. Jack and Oak work in tandem to help: Jack acting to make sure their mirror doesn’t lose the beam shooting from their previous location, and Oak’s keen eyes and steady voice directing Urixes where to bend the light (further up…now left…too far!…gentle, ease it back…) Meepo leans cautiously over the edge of the spire to watch, hands nervously pressed together, snake-like tongue unconsciously flicking out and up into their nostrils.
Slowly, very the Radiant beam swivels closer…closer, towards its target. The group takes its time to get the job done, treating the beam with caution, but the seconds tick by noticeably. Once again, the Whispered Curse is idling below. Bern is on his third or fourth rowdy ballad already, and the crew’s voices lack the vigor of earlier.
Finally, with a cracking noise, the beam locks onto the next mirror, and the white light within begins to glow. A single, celebratory holler (Calthus, from the sound of it) rings out from the Crow’s Nest of the Curse, and the Ship proceeds, sailing towards the last fifty yards or so of the spire filled sea.
Below, the slowly lighting mirror awaits. The level surface at the top of the next spire is roughly twenty five feet away, and about a ten foot vertical drop. Securely attached to the top of the nearby device, one of the ropes bridges hangs down the side of the mirror, partially covered by the dirt at the Wild Bunch’s feet and dangling a good half-dozen yards below the spire….
Oak and Meepo soon arrive behind the others, Oak stoic as ever, while the little Kobold seems to be a great deal humbled all of a sudden. As they climb down from Oak’s back (no longer trembling, but still actively avoiding the edges of the rock), they take a brief moment to quietly address the Barabarian. “Errr, jest wanna say danke, Meester Oak. Genuine. Wasnae plannin’ on bein’ such a burden up ‘ere…” The dragon man’s speech gets choppier the more apologetic he gets. The Wild Bunch can tell that humble pie isn’t something the Kobold is used to partaking in. Sensing the group’s attention falling on him, he scratches behind his right ear, even more embarrassed. “Right, weel! Should probably get this one turned an’ finish this up, then! Hopeful after dis’ las’ looker, we ken find a way back down from that big rock ain’t quite so…precarious.”
The task of operating the giant mirror is seamless this time, the Wild Bunch having gotten the hang of moving the device safely, operating the beam, communicating the reflective angle, and then…
Far below, the Whispered Curse lets out a loud HURRAH as the Bug-Eyed lens absorbs the final directed beam, coming alight in a brilliant, gorgeous display of glowing, sparkling white Radiance! A sudden hush falls over the crew at the beauty of the sight. It’s like staring at the face of the Sun, unable to look away, your eyes somehow protected from being burned out of your head…
As the Bug-Eyed Mirror takes in the light, same as the mirror devices it begins to grow hotter and (somehow) brighter within the lens. It builds until it is so brilliantly, impossibly white its hard to comprehend how it could continue. Where is all that energy possibly going? And then, as if on cue, the surfaces of the mirrors grow into one glowing, orb-like pinprick of pure, churning energy. Once the sphere has fully swirled into shape, it suddenly explodes outward into a million, shattered rays of white hot sparks, which shoot out in rings of energy!
As the first wave of light washes over the Whispered Curse, you hear shrieks from below! “Errrgh!” a voice calls out in sudden surprised pain (Calthus Zurkul, from atop the Crow’s Nest). His voice straining, he cries out, “Hit the deck! The shit’s coming in like the tide now!”
The waves of energy cascade out from the Bug-Eyed lens! The individual rings seem to be made of sparks, and the waves of radiant light ebb outwards, grower more insubstantial the further they grow from the center. As the Wild Bunch checks the nearby mirror, they find that it has become locked into place from a mechanism built into its base; no amount of budging will move it.
Due to all the excitement, no one but Meepo has noticed that across the way, at the end of the nearby rope bridges, a part of the rock face has rumbled open to reveal a dark tunnel, leading up and in to the spire .
“Ey, fellas…” the Kobold exclaims excitedly. “Fellas, look! We cracked it!”
The crew below have all taken cover, which seems to be enough to protect them from the light. Energy continues to pulse out from the center of the large spire in regular patterns. By the time the Radiant energy washes over the spire which the Wild Bunch stands atop, it has all been dissipated into nothing…
There is no hesitation from the Barbarian. After shouting quick orders to the others, the Big Man descends into the fray, the little Kobold firmly atop his shoulders. Together, the two lead the way, across the rope and through the field of ringed light…
Oak doesn’t even watch the Radiant beams as they circle and spark out from the Bug-Eyed lens, choosing to just move, and move fast. Meepo steadies them both as best they can, gripping the rope from overhead, but the little fella, panting, misses a few handholds in the process, unable to keep up with the furiously working Shifter. Rather than complaining, the Kobold simply tries their best, fairly wearing themselves out in the process.
As they pull ever closer, Meepo gets a good eyeful of the Bug-Eyed Lens and sphere of Radiant energy. Despite themself, Meepo whistles. “So, we both might be bout’ ter fucking die…but still, pretty impressive ya’ gotta admit!” The stupidly grinning dragon man’s brow furrows, and he takes a break from his futile attempt on the ropes to suddenly peer forward. “Hrrrm. But what’s all der energy sposed' ter' be for?” they ponder (to Oak, but mainly to themself). “Ain’t just pulling a big door open, dats fer sure! There’s better ways to make a light trap. More focused. Deadlier. But den’…da’ isolated spot…da puzzle...dese old ropes…da hidden door…?” Meepo frets for a moment more, and then it comes to them. “Shit, could be a doorway. A Stable-Otherplace-Reft. All that power? But I’ve never known the Wizard er’ Tooly-Boy canny enough ter’ make a stable rift on purpose, dey always just find em’!”
“Mister Oak, I ‘tink…SHET, LOOK’OUT!” the Kobold ducks, and that’s when a burst of energy, rolling in like a bright white, burning gust of wind, engulfs them both…
The Warlock and the bird exchange a knowing look between them. Hex, cawing in annoyance, takes flight, circling ten feet above the young Shifter. Now Urixes follows right behind the pair of Oak and Meep, although before he departs he closes his eyes, and whispers a quiet incantation. Putting a firm, steady hand on Jack’s shoulder and giving him a slight nod, the Tiefling then moves to cross the rope bridge behind Oak…
The climb over is nothing: hundreds of years of living atop shipboard riggings have made sure of that! For a single , lovely second, Urixes pauses and lets the sea air, the sunlight from above, and the wind all wash over him. He feels…alive, in this moment! Refreshed, he proceeds further, eager and ready for the challenge ahead! But as he finally arrives inside the light field he finds (much to his dismay), that the pulsing sparks, this guided Radiance, is something unique in the Tiefling’s experience. For the first time in a long time, he has found something “new” within the Expanse: and as the light begins to violently wash over the ropes at his fingertips, he finds the experience threatening to overwhelm him!
Jack sees the “Darkness” begin to grow around him and Fusspot as Urixes departs, and he notes it with a prolonged giggle. Hex continues to circle overhead.
Bringing up the rear as he follows the others, (and rather than holding on) Jack jumps across the bottom rope, one foot after another, avoiding the Radiant blasts like a demented game of Hopscotch and only rarely pulling the top rope to center himself and keep from toppling into the water far below…
It all ends rather poorly. As the rings pulse out from the center of the Bug-Eyed lens, each individual burst now seems to make for Jack in particular! The first shreds the conjured darkness around him; the second smacks his upper lip; the third yanks his arms off of the rope! Hex, cawing in dismay, tries to move down and take the brunt of the next blast…and is incinerated in a blast of white light!
As he falls, Jack throws a Teleport Stone from his pouch in desperation, hope against hope…
…and finds himself landing, roughly on his ass, next to Urixes, Oak, and Meepo, atop the tallest Spire and before the yawning pitch blackness of the open door…
"Gods!" Meepo replies, gasping as they pull themself up. "By the Great White Dragon...!" Leaning over and panting deeply within the doorframe, the Kobold slowly tries to gain back their composure upon the spire.
Finally responding to Jack (having audibly yelped when they suddenly appeared nearby), the dragon man nods solemnly, once.."Yeh, Wild Kind....I 'dink we've finally arrived!" Looking warily at the mouth of the tunnel and what lies within, the little fella whispers, "This door...it leads out from da' Expanse, ya know! Elsewhere. I'd make yerselves ready...we don't know what ken' possibly be on the other end, cept' maybe something to do with "Da' Light"..."
Meepo appraises the Barbarian and tuts loudly. "Lookin' a bit dinged up dere' ain't cha' Meester Oak? Bad beet of a sunburn, ya? Maybe now I 'ken try ter' pay ye' back fer' all the rides! Here, lesse' if we ken get the grace of the White Dragon to smile upon ye'...."
The Wild Bunch find themselves inside a strange, gargantuancrystal cavern. Golden light emanates from behind the walls and catches the amber-hued mineral formations which grow out from around the far edges of the cave.
Their exit from the Twilight Expanse was felt immediately: the sounds of the birds ceased, the temperature dropped twenty degrees. The greater pressure in the air seems to press down physically on the bunch. The silence is oppressive.
The tunnel the Wild Bunch had travelled up is gone. The doorway behind is now sealed by a thick, spectral bubble of energy, like a blue wall of light made physical, and hard as a rock.
Under your feet are the very clear bootprints of a group that must’ve come before you. There doesn’t appear to be any sign of life in here at the moment. Despite it’s size and beauty, the sole point of interest (besides the doorway) seems to be the mirrored statue at the immediate north end of the room. It watches the group, silent and unmoving.
Meepo is waving their arm through an invisible rock pillar at the same time as Urixes. The little Kobold shoots him a knowing look. “Yeh…buncha false sets’, ent’ they? Probably false rock-face too, further in the back…some trickster’s got illusions enchanted all over der’ place!”
The little dragon man sees Jack eyeing the staute, and tuts at him with measured reproach. “Now Meester Jack…yer’ gonna wanna be careful der! Old as dis’ place is, dat clockwork looks fresh as the new moon and could crush us all’, ta boot!”
“Although,” Meepo considers, their voice rather heistant, as though they’re only speaking to themself. “Den’ again, might be da’ only mechanism in here dat’ can open der way back out! All the same, though,” Meepo nervously considers the Mirrored Guardian for awhile, then after about ten seconds quickly makes to check out the doorway you came in at. “I’ll take a look over here!” they say cheerfully, trying to look as busy as possible. “Maybe I can find out something about where we is, or how to get out, hey?”
Urixes the Undying walks and talks, expounding on what he knows of this place and the places like it, and how they all tie to the God’s interests and the history within the Expanse…
Keeping one ear to Urixes’s story and the other out for trouble, Oak the Barbarian does his level-best to ignore the Mirrored Guardian, throwing himself busily into the task of examining the tracks underfoot…
Curious, Meepo pokes at the bubble within the doorway. Their finger slides into the blue wall of energy, slowly pushes forward…and is quickly repelled back! “Accck!” the Kobold complains, shaking their stricken hand in irritation. “Hell if I know! But it ain’t budgin’…and it’s thick enough, kent’ even see what’s going on en’ the other end!”
Jack approaches the statue.
He makes a face into the mirror. His reflection responds…but it isn’t the reflection Jack has grown used to:
The reflection balks at the sudden sight of Human-Jack, at the same moment he himself balks at the sight of Werewolf-Jack. Still nervous, Jack moves left….the Werewolf-man follows in tandem. Jack moves right, and waves an arm…and the reflection within does the exact same. Each become equally exasperated and delighted by each other at exactly the same time! Jack is just about to address the vision within the mirror, when all of a sudden, the Guardian looming above cuts in with a booming voice:
“YOU STAND BEFORE THE ENVOY OF AMAUNATOR! CHAMPION OF THE GOLDEN SUN, YOUR TIME HAS FINALLY COME!”
Jack’s expression and the Werewolf’s expression match and meet eyes for a fleeting moment within the shield as the giant, Mirrored Guardian finally turns its creaking head to fully observe Jack. The creatures knees quake into place, and the statue begins to stand upon its full height!
“BATZUS OF THE HIDDEN HILLS!” the Mirrored Guardian gongs with ear-splitting pitch! “NOW STAND YE’ FORTH, AND BE JUDGED!” The giant statute points the mirror directly at Jack…
The Mirrored Guardian statue pauses. To Jack's well-trained ears, he almost seems to mumble something to himself, rather bitterly. With a final grumble, the clockwork Titan returns to address Lucky Jack: "YES...YOU ARE NOT BATZUS...LIKE THE "OTHERS" WHO HAD COME BEFORE."
The statue, peering over the side of the giant mirror, takes in the sight of the Werewolf within the glass below him. His large helmet leaning forward in a small nod of acknowledgment, the Guardian continues his harsh line of questioning towards Jack. "WERE-KIND OF THE TWILIGHT EXPANSE, TELL ME...WHAT DOES THIS VISION WITHIN THE MIRROR SEEK?"