Posts created by Grimwald

 posted in Midnight Castle on Feb 4, 17 2:06 PM
When I come to, I am lying on asphalt. I appear to be in an empty parking lot, bounded by vague scenery. While I look in one direction, trying to recall exactly how I reached this very non-MC location, a trolley pulls up from behind and stops beside me.

I stare dazedly. The trolley door opens and a mechanical voice says "Please enter, friend." I stand, take a patting inventory, and board the trolley. The driver, to my surprise, is the Automaton. Or maybe not, as I now see that this Automaton is - well, there is no actual driver's seat, as this Automaton is built into the trolley itself. The trolley takes off quickly. I sit suddenly.

The vague scenery looks more and more fake and flat as we near the perimeter. An entrance rolls up into the painted wall, garage-door style, and the trolley plunges in. Now we are driving in a dimly lit tunnel. Rusty tracks extend forward, lit by the trolley's headlights. "Where are we?" I ask.

The Automaton Driver rattles coordinates to me. I whip out my phone and one of my Castle apps and enter them. Cool. The result displayed, while still showing as within the MC world, is not near any known location, levels 1 to 74. I am somewhere new!

"Where are we going?" The response is another set of coordinates which, when entered, represent an unhelpful, equally unfamiliar location.

"Have you seen any ferrets around?"

The Automaton's eyes dim, flash, and resume their steady glow. "Friend, please wait. With questions. Much can be answered. With patience."

Or did he say "patients"...?

Nothing I can do but wait. The trolley drives on through the tunnel.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Feb 4, 17 7:39 AM
The Dark Tower Library, when I reach it, has slipped back in time to concept art. The Crystal Ball and Book of Knowledge are not yet live. I fiddle through the multiplicity of time threads, retwining some, to find the closest to the one PTG and I visited previously. The books, scrolls, and papers Wickerbat had tossed around have all been replaced, except for something white on the floor near the Globe.

I pick it up. It is a postcard that says Greetings from Sunny Tahiti on the front, and "wish you were here ~Wineoclock" on the reverse. I have a frisson of déjà vu. But perhaps it is a clue? Did Wickerbat run off to Tahiti? I don't know of any combination of tunnels leading Tahiti, and I don't think I personally have the skills to manage an aperture to the outside world. Did he find a hole in time and end up back in the Flying Boat during the mutiny? But then wouldn't the postcard have been from Wickerbat?

I'm overthinking this. Where is exactly Tahiti anyway? I spin the Globe to the South Pacific, and locate Tahiti at 17°40?S 149°25?W. Just as I reach to touch the tiny island on the Globe's surface, there is an explosion that blows me, the Globe and half the Library out of the Dark Tower.

Been here, done this before, I think, but it's hard to type while hurtling through the air.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Feb 2, 17 1:48 PM
I cheer up a bit at the thought of five - count 'em, five - keyboards hooked up all at once, and twice that many monitors. (Spares in the closet don't count!) All right, current inventory: I have one phone and a laptop. The backpack has a second laptop, two USB drives, the bundle of cables, and my MP3 player. Now that I'm calming down, I see that much of the small equipment turns out to be simply scattered, and soon Jenifer and PTG help me root through the snowy thicket as if it were an HOS - wait, it IS an HOS! - looking for mice (of a technologic nature), USB drives, web cameras, pen, microphones and more.

Then I make a list for myself. Wickerbat, last seen in the Dark Tower. Cash, last seen exiting the Winter Garden with Jenifer and Randy but now whereabouts unknown. He still does not answer the phone, but I take some comfort in that he has not used the flinxing app.

"I recommend you use the Confessional if you want to get to that secret evil lair," I tell them. "I don't trust the Cloud City entrances." I boot up the laptops to see if I am still connected to the Castle wifi. Things are looking better yet! While it's not full access, I can still get into much of the Castle's audio, visual and data systems.

"Wait," says Jenifer, "you sound like you're not coming with us."

"I'm going to the Dark Tower to look for Wickerbat."

"Wha-! How did you reach a high enough level for the Dark Tower?!"

"Shh, I'm still only level 39. There are always other ways. Now unfortunately the printer was one of the casualties here, but if you leave this application running it's got the floor plans showing all the tunnels for the Castle, Town, Cloud City and the Dark Tower. Forest isn't included in this list, but PTG's getting pretty good with that bench and can maybe give you a lift." I hand Jenifer the second laptop.

I heft the re-packed backpack. "So. I'm off! If you don't hear from me in three days, assume the worst."

I stop again. "This came for Randy, when you think he's lucid enough." I hand PTG a postcard that says Greetings from Sunny Tahiti on the front, and "wish you were here ~Wineoclock" on the reverse.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Feb 1, 17 6:23 AM
I stare at the devastation. The smashed remains of the two equalizers still pop and smoke. Something like motor oil drips from the nameless machine where Jenifer tried her verbal technotherapy. My three keyboards are half melted. Power cords are cut. Windows Vista has been forcibly installed onto the mainframe. The boxes of replacement parts, spares, tools are nowhere to be seen.

This is worse than the aftermath of a ferret riot. This is malicious! (Speaking of which, I realize I haven't seen the ferrets lately.)

I am cold and wet and muddy. My equipment has been trashed and my very presence in Midnight Castle exposed. My ferrets are missing.

Randy puts a surprisingly gentle hand on my shoulder. PTG offers me his broom.

"AAgggh! There is ice cream over here!" Jenifer screams.

I glance in her direction, see the bowl of pistachio with chocolate chips. "Oh, that. It's what I keep around to gauge the local temperature, in case something ever happens to the equipment. Is it melting?"

She taps it with a spoon. "Pretty solid."

I take a deep breath. "Someone needs to say something to motivate me," I tell them, "because all I want to do right now is curl up and not think about anything."
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 31, 17 6:51 PM
I choke and struggle against PTG's ministrations. "It's entirely possible," I gasp, "that the effect on a rabbit's metabolism would be entirely different. The iced chai latte is very good, though."

There is a flash of light and more ozone. PTG and I turn around to see Jenifer sprawled on the ground, as the delivery person she was sitting on has just vanished. Randy is looking at the electric eel with respect. A small distance away is the tour group of low-level players. They probably have mistaken PTG for a game character, as he recently sent one of their party on a quest to the Frozen Treasure, and now think they await their turn to do the same quest. Questions will no doubt appear shortly in the forum.

Still, someone or something is out to get us. I still think it has to do with Randy's history of the Castle, but it could be something else entirely. In any event, the more witnesses we have to Randy's narrative the better.

I hope?
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 30, 17 8:02 PM
I sigh and dive in after Jenifer. Short of all four of us taking refuge in Fletcher's underwater hidey-hole, that I happen to know is down here, there is nothing else to be done. I tow Jenifer back to shore, none too gently.

"Could I take you up on the offer of a chai latte?" I ask PTG.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 30, 17 1:18 PM
As soon as I see Randy start to breathe again on his own, I run to my backpack which is still being worn by PTG. I grab a packet of cables: phone charging cables, power cords for the laptops, emergency jumper cables… Just the thing! I attach one end of the jumpers to the electric eel Randy still clutches in one hand, and the other end to a shiny bracelet on Jenifer's wrist.

There is a satisfying z-zappp and smell of ozone.

Jenifer collapses to sit on the ground, looking stunned. Nothing quite like a bit of improvised shock treatment, I guess. But for good measure, PTG gives her one final whack of the broom.

"Earl Grey or a chai latte?" he asks again.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 30, 17 9:58 AM
"PTG, your partner has become homicidal!" I yell.

"Which one?" asks PTG.

"Jenny! And I think I know how to find them!"

PTG sits on his park bench, looking sulky. (When did that arrive?) "If you have located them, then feed the coordinates into my totally empty brain (cos' you think I'm an idjit) and I will get my trusty bench to take us there"

"But what about your cunning plan?" I ask. I think I have hurt his feelings. A falling broom hits us both on the head.

"Don't need it, cos' you keep telling me what to think and what to do. I just want to go back to my own room and sweep the dust bunnies and work my way back into the good graces of--"

I put a hand on either side of his head. "Look deeply into my eyes," I say. Then I do what I think PTG has been subconsciously doing, and send the bench to the Castle Vicinity, but quite before we arrive I rip one of the timelines askew. THAT is going to have major repercussions later, I'm afraid.

We settle gently near the dilapidated, pre-level 31, skull-topped Road Sign. Nearer yet there is great splashing around as Randy and Jenifer struggle at the Moat's edge. PTG saunters over with a nonchalant "Good afternoon. Having fun?"

With a roar, Jenifer lets go of Randy, who finally falls headlong into the Moat, and launches herself for PTG's throat. PTG flails around with his broom, but quickly finds that my backpack makes an effective weapon when spun around. Randy sinks out of sight.

Almost in slow motion, I walk to the water's edge, calmly set all electronic devices aside, and plunge in after Randy.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 30, 17 9:56 AM
I browse the stacks while PTG checks out the Book of Knowledge. Unfortunately, the Book of Knowledge is a non-circulating reference volume and cannot be checked out by ordinary Library patrons. Wickerbat scuttles around throwing books and scrolls off the lower shelves. I examine the Crystal Ball. "Is there cinnamon toast in my future?" I ask. A word appears: YES. Encouraged I ask another question: "Can Cash the ferret be located within the MC world?" "404 Not Found" drifts into view.

I hear ferret chuckling. Wickerbat is doing a wardance.

I look back at the Crystal Ball which now shows the ugly, skull-topped Road Sign near Salty's Inn. Unexpectedly, Jenifer comes into view. She appears to be dragging Randy toward the Moat.

There is a slithering crash. Wickerbat shoves a pile of pamphlets, books and scrolls off a table. Gravity works.

When I look at the Crystal Ball it has reset to the skull on the Road Sign. I zoom in on the Moat, and stare as Jenifer shoves Randy's head into the water. Two possibilities occur to me: One is that Randy is in dire need of sobering up. The other is that Jenifer is trying to drown him, in which case Randy is in dire need of sobering up.

Screeches like nails on a chalkboard make me jump. I look around to see Wickerbat trying to move the Antique Globe to a more aesthetically pleasing location. Ferret shui is a strange thing.

Once again I look at the Crystal Ball, and once again it has defaulted to the skull on the Road Sign. Ugly thing. That was one repair the Castle made that I did not mind…

"PTG!" I ask urgently, "what level is Randy?"

"74," comes the reply. But I know that. And I know Jenifer is 39, probably higher by now. And I know that the Castle replaced the Road Sign with the Gnome Road Sign at level 31, but I do a quick online confirmation anyway. So why… so HOW is the Road Sign…?

Several possibilities occur to me, but I fixate on the one that will afford us the most exciting plot line for the immediate future.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 29, 17 8:34 PM
"Where do you get all this - equipment - anyway?" PTG asks, struggling with the backpack as we hurry through the Castle Entry to the Throne Hall.

"Pirates, of course. Skull Pete helps me smuggle it in, but it's expensive as all get out. How else do you think I've been here two years and I'm still only level 39? No, don't stop, we're going to the Forbidden Tower."

We descend the stone spiral stairs, jumping down the last four steps. Curious thing, this Tower, extending down into the earth instead of skyward.

"The Scroll Storage," I say, "is actually an annex of the Library. From what I understand, the Book of Evil was having a bad influence on the other books, so they had to move it elsewhere. Most of the writings in the Scroll Storage are research notes based on the Book." I stop when PTG's eyes glaze over.

We are in the Scroll Storage now. I spin the creepy Cupid statue to expose a tunnel. The other end will open into a secret passage running between the Library and the Laboratory. "Ready?" I ask. PTG nods. One human, one spring bunny and one ferret drop into the tunnel. I rotate the statue above us closed.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 29, 17 8:32 PM
PTG proceeds to tell me all his ideas about parallel universes. I'm not sure it quite meshes with current theory, but that's not important. PTG also has a plan and needs to get to the Dark Tower Library. I've seen the results of PTG's recent plans, so I am more than doubtful. However, as all of my own plans involve hours in front of my monitors, and as PTG seems somewhat helpless without a partner or an adversary, I agree to accompany him.

"But I'll have to prepare." I transfer blueprints for the Dark Tower onto a new laptop, as well as the reference lists and diagrams for the MC tunnel network. I haven't been to the Dark Tower much lately, though, even though the Library there has some excellent reference material. The Globe there is to die for, in more ways than one, so it is a bit risky. I put the tunnels reference onto my phone, too, and as an afterthought I stuff the snow globe into my pocket, along with some gears, a screwdriver and other odds and sods.

"Ready?" asks PTG. He pats the park bench, indicating I should sit.

"The tunnels are faster," I say.

"We are humans - and, um, giant rabbits - creatures of the sun and sky. We have no need to hide."

"Tunnels are cheaper, don't take inventory?"

"I am not a troglodyte."

"Well, I am level 39, and the ONLY way I can travel to the Dark Tower is by tunnel."

"Oh. Well. Meet you there?"

"Come on. You can carry that backpack. We've got eight minutes before the Chamberlain comes back on duty." I hold the exit for PTG. Wickerbat flings himself after us.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 28, 17 8:28 PM
Trusting Wickerbat to his mission, I call the phone Cash should be carrying. Why am I not surprised when there is no answer? I pry a snow globe out of my display case and shake it to contact first Jenifer, then Randy. No answer. Maybe there's a trick to it I don't know. I return to my phone and try to order Chinese for delivery. No answer.

Monitors, then. I check every room and every HOS, from the Castle to Atlantis. No sign of Cash or the two humans in his care. In fact, things are pretty calm all throughout the known MC world…except for the Cloud City Commercial District, where a number of players are gathering. This must be the Tahitian mutiny. I linger to watch. Led by Winterwine they advance on the Rune Garden and swarm the Flying Boat where PTG has nearly figured out how to understand ferret.

The Boat tips and sways. PTG falls overboard with Wickerbat clinging to his shoulder, whiskers forward in a huge ferret grin.

The mutinous players discover the remnants of PTG's seafood buffet, the final proof necessary that this is, in fact, a cruise ship. The last I see of the Flying Boat is it sailing off into the distance, bound for Tahiti.

What is below the Rune Garden?! I pull up data on all known locations, rooms, HOSs, ZZs, rumored and otherwise, and find nothing. What about maintenance tunnels, air shafts, conduits…? I scroll through lists for those and bingo! There is an aperture supplied by the Castle already in place, no doubt programmed to catch clumsy players who tip themselves out of the Flying Boat. I temporarily reroute the aperture to the Winter Garden and wait.

I pop in some headphones, whip out a notepad and pen, and take notes. 1) Why is Randy's history so different from the official MC history, and are there other differing histories as well? 2) Where have Cash, Jenifer and Randy gone? 3) Can the symptoms of the breaking Castle be contained? 4) Will I ever be able to order decent Chinese takeout in this world? 5) What about loose ends in our plot such as the doctored up ice cream?

A park bench glides into view. Wickerbat leaps from PTG's lap and enthusiastically tackles my knee. PTG waves a greeting, but does not seem inclined to move. I tip my ear at him. Not finding Cash, Wickerbat tackles the ermine of the Winter Garden and soon the two are rioting and tunneling in the snow.

I hand PTG the snow globe and ask, "Do you know how to call for Chinese takeout using this thing?"
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 27, 17 5:34 PM
Back in the Winter Garden, Wickerbat has assembled all the relevant data necessary. One monitor shows PTG enjoying an all-you-can-eat crab buffet, as if the Flying Boat were a miniature cruise ship. Then Wicker shows me security footage of Jenifer and Randy leaving the Winter Garden to fetch PTG; Cash squeaks in distress when Randy steps on his tail, but gamely accompanies them out of the Garden. Next is what should be simultaneous footage in the Ice Rock, except J, R and Cash never emerge from the Garden. Wickerbat lets me loop through that several times, looking for anomalies, but finally insists I look at some printouts of recent forum chatter.

There is unrest among the senior ranks, even talk of outright mutiny, as disgruntled and jaded players plot to hijack the Flying Boat for an excursion to Tahiti. Wickerbat draws my attention again to the screen where PTG is killing time in that very Flying Boat, while he waits for inspiration or recovery, whichever comes first.

I tell Wickerbat to get to Cloud City and the Flying Boat, posthaste, to rescue PTG from unwitting passage to the South Pacific. He gives me a particular stare, and I authorize any means necessary.

Wickerbat heads out. I begin my search for Cash and company.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 27, 17 5:01 PM
The maintenance crews have cleared away most of the wreckage of the Wheel of Fortune. I'm sure the replacement will be installed shortly. However, my intended pastime is unavailable. Perhaps I'll just fetch PTG myself. Let's see, quickest way from Castle Entry to the Doll Showcase… The Fire Fountain tunnel goes to Cloud City… I would rather not use apertures if I can help it… I have so much STUFF stashed in my inventory I can't travel by zoom zone to the City Square… Wait, I have an open quest to the Automaton!

The Automaton and I get on really well, just my type of quest. I bring it some components to help with minor repairs. "All systems function normally," it says in its brassy, clacking voice. I accept gold and xp points for a job well done, and head off to the City Square.

PTG is not in the Doll Showcase. I do a thorough search, finding a clothespin (often useful), a mask, a screwdriver (always useful), a clover, and gear (I love these!) and more, but no evidence of PTG. I stand in the Square, nibbling on the gear and wondering where he has gotten to. My phone rings. It's Wickerbat, telling me that Jenifer and Randy spotted PTG in Cloud City; Cash went too, but now all three are out of [%q*]. I'm not sure what he means by [%q*]. Wickerbat adds that I need to come back right away.

I sigh, trudge up to the Ancient Park, and open the aperture back to the Castle. It will take too long to walk.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 26, 17 9:47 AM
I point an ear at Jenifer. "I prefer manual controls myself when I'm working, but next time if you want verbal, just say so. No touching the fur. Now, tell me what you think about the performance of that equalizer over there. Wickerbat said the gremlins lost some pieces the other day. Speaking of which, I had better pay them." I pull out my phone and send a few diamonds via Paypal, then return to the monitors.

"Oh good, the temperatures in the Craftsman District are coming down. That place overheats so easily. All the other rooms seem to be holding steady for now. Tell Randy to stop eating worms, would you, please?"

I grab a laptop, launch a browser, scan through a couple pages of forum chatter, and … "Found PTG! He's playing a game somewhere, possibly the Doll Showcase, something about a bird and a rat? Do you want to go…"

I look around. Jenifer and Randy have fallen asleep. It HAS been a stressful few days. I could do with some down time myself. Or tinkering time. Perhaps I'll have a look at the Wheel of Fortune after all. I hesitate, wondering if it's safe to leave them here, alone with all the equipment. I tell Cash to call when they wake up, and exit the Winter Garden, stage left.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 26, 17 7:37 AM
"But we just escaped from here!" yells Jenifer.

"Sorry, the apertures don't open up just anywhere. This is the closest --- WHAT has happened to the Wheel of Fortune?!" The Wheel and its carriage have been totally wrecked and looted. All that remains of the inventory is a couple of torn stamps and a smashed Odd Egg.

"Wow," says Jenifer, "someone had a temper tantrum."

I throw my hands in the air. "Now see, this is the kind of decision I don't know how to handle. Should I fix it myself or let the Castle cleaning crews do it? I don't have time for this!"

"The White Rabbit was obsessed with time, too," Jenifer observes. "Do you have a pocket watch? It would look good on you."

My ear twitches with a fleeting idea, but it's gone already, down some rabbit hole in my own mind. "The Castle can fix it, and we'll see it how it works afterward. Come on, I'll show you my set-up." I head for the Ice Rock and they follow.

I gesture to the statue. "What do you see here?"

"Summer Garden," Jenifer replies, and Randy mutters what I assume is agreement.

"So do I. I'm level 39."

"No way, me too!" Jenifer and I give each other high fives.

"But my equipment is set up in the Winter Garden. Watch." I grab the delicate edge of local universum draped about the Garden and lift aside the Summer aspect, revealing the Winter. "Come on in."

We enter the Winter Garden. Randy has sudden spasms and flops onto the lap of the statue. "I remember this!" Jenifer exclaims. She compulsively begins collecting the seahorse, the key, the slippers, the feather, the domino…

The ferrets eagerly scurry off to show me where they have set up our new temporary base of operations, hidden in the icy thicket behind the statue. I begin booting things up. By the time Jenifer has collected 22 items, the main machines are running smoothly. "Let's see what happened to PTG…" I zoom in on the Ancient Park, but no one is there but the Stone Fairy. Oops, wrong timeline. I change a setting. Now the Lost Fairy flutters her wings, but PTG is still nowhere to be seen.

"PTGeeeeee" wails Jenifer, "where be yeeeee?"
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 26, 17 5:32 AM
Jenifer returns from the Overgrown Pond wearing something new. I avert my eyes.

"I still have to get back to the Castle first. I can't do much without data or equipment. And I don't know the coordinates for the Special Room off the top of my head," I say, taking off my hat to straighten the brim " …. What?"

All three are staring at me with stricken expressions.

Randy emits incoherent bursts again and PTG makes a choking gurgle that sounds like "sprinkles." PTG's bench thunks to the ground and vanishes.

I hurry to reassure them. "No, no! In fact, it's the effects of the ice cream finally wearing off. This is my normal appearance." I stand before them in all my four-foot tall, pseudo-Renaissance elegance.

"You're - a rabbit," chokes Jenifer. Her hands clench and twist.

"I'm a spring bunny," I correct her, "a tiny-crowd pleaser." I tip one ear at her and raise an eyebrow. She subsides. I tell Cash he is assigned to supervise Jenifer until further notice, and to use the flinxing app if necessary.

Inwardly I sigh. Traveling by aperture, while safe enough in the short term, is bound to have unfortunate effects down the road. "Ready? Step through after me." I take hold of the right side and the left side and invert them. A slit like a cat's eye, or the subtle and rarely noticed pupil of a ferret's eye, opens in the air. Jenifer steps through without hesitation, then Randy bullishly stumbles through. He knocks me over and I let go of the aperture, which closes.

Three of us are now standing in the Castle Entry, but PTG has been left behind.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 25, 17 7:55 PM
I say to PTG, "You want to know why we need to hear Randy's history? Because it's different from the official Castle history. I'll listen to your history of the Castle, too, if you like, if you have one." PTG pretends to look away, omming.

"I think the Castle is breaking. It keeps trying to repair itself, but that makes it worse. Individually, we can't see it. Once the Winter Garden changes to the Summer Garden you never go back to it, you think it’s gone. But for someone new to the Castle, the only scene they visit is the Winter Garden. Both Gardens exist in the same place at the same time, but most people can only visit one."

Jenifer pounces on that. "MOST people?" Cash pops his head out of the tangle of her hair.

Randy explodes in incoherence I don't know how to transcribe. I hope it wasn't the conclusion to his story.

Jenifer snaps, "AttenSHUN!" and he stops. "I think he suffering from multiple personality disorder," she says.

I say, "So… when you don't use a quest to travel to the Binding Egg, what's the best way to get to the Castle from the Town? I usually walk."

Jenifer's jaw drops as she realizes that she unnecessarily went on rounds for a blood lotus. "But you get to keep the blood lotus!" I tell her.

"No, you don't," says Randy to me, very clearly. We all stare at him in surprise. "You don't walk. You open up that hole in the air, that aperture thing, and you're going to do it right now, for us."

I'm suddenly very nervous. "And where do you want to go?"

"To the Special Room."
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 25, 17 7:37 AM
I watch the - discussion? - between PTG and Jenifer with bemusement. It's much easier to watch this on a monitor than in person. Just as confusing, though.

The ferrets appear from somewhere at my feet. I wasn't looking, so they may even have used the Cemetery access.

Jenifer groans, "FINE. I'll do the rounds!" and leaps away. Too late I realize what the discussion has been about.

"No, wait! We don't actually NEED the blood lotus, we just need the open quest to jump us to the Binding Egg!"

But she is gone. "Cash," I say, "keep an eye on her!" Cash kisses my ear, and shuffles after her.
 posted in Midnight Castle on Jan 25, 17 6:23 AM
I stand, stretch. You're running out of time, Cash said.

And the rooster - Reach out for the first left, there's a wall.

I reach left to touch the wall and grab a strand of time. Reach right, reach left, reach ahead. It's just like braiding, twisting unraveled strands of time, not universum, back together. Straight, right, right…. Just like the rooster said.

The tunnel expands. The door to the jeweler's workshop reappears. I feel a pop of pressure and I know things are back the way they should be.

I race through the tunnel, through the Confessional no longer damaged, and trip out the door of the Chapel into the Ancient Park where three people are waiting for me.

"Grim?" asks Jenifer in great excitement.

"Grimwald, um yeah, sure Grim is okay."

She offers to fix my outfit. I look down at my elegant doublet, only slightly rumpled from a night in the tunnels. "Oh, no, I'm good. Must be the last of the hallucinations. It will wear off shortly. Just don't eat the ice cream. I think you figured that out by now?"

PTG, Jenifer, even Randy all look at me with disconcertingly beseeching expressions. Although Randy may just be hoping for something to clean off the mess dripping down his head and face.

"So.... " Says PTG, throwing crumpled handkerchiefs around. "Does anyone really understand what has been going on?"

I clear my throat. "It is very important that Randy finish his history of Midnight Castle. But the problems run deeper than that. I missed GMT midnight last night. I've got to catch up right away!"

I look around. The truly fastest way back to the Castle is through the Cemetery. But with others present, I can't use the Cemetery yet, only when no one is watching. "Does anyone have an open quest needing a blood lotus? We have to get to the Ice Rock right away."
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