- Plane Weaver
THE UNDISPUTED MASTRESS OF MISERY, TITAN OF TORMENT, LORD OF STRIFE, OF CHALLENGE, OF TREMORS AND FIRE, SEEKS SERVANTS IN A MATTER OF UTMOST IMPORTANT TO THE LORD OF FIRE AND TREMORS.
WILLING SERVANTS SHOULD PROSTRATE THEMSELVES BEFORE THE ICHOR RAIN IN THE IMPERIAL BOULEVARD AT NOON ON SIXTHDAY.
TIME WASTERS WILL BE OBLITERATED.
- Posters that have been appearing around the city. Attempts to remove them have resulted in the posters sticking faster to the surface they were attached to, eventually leading to resignation from the Bureaucracy and additions from the Imperial Commission reading “please don’t break anything”.
Commissioner Chance hires Marmaduke from the Foresters Guild for the opportunity. When they arrive, a Commissioner warns Chance against sampling the Ichor falling from the sky shortly before Bureaucrats emerge from the temporary Bureaucracy buildings to inform all that the Day of Dreams has arrived. Chance, Marmaduke and the Commissioner are given the sleeping agent, but Chance and Marmaduke soon find that it doesn't work for them. The Lord of Fire and Tremors appears, confused as to why there isn't a large crowd of volunteers but accepts Buckler, Chance and Marmaduke into their service and they sneak into the plane of Conflict while the Bureaucrats aren't looking.
After a short enrichment exercise (involving a blasphemous depiction of the Throne as a butt, screaming artwork, a fountain made of blood and numerous double entendres), the Lord of Fire and Tremors explains that the task they have for Buckler, Chance and Marmaduke is to enact a prophecy to pick a Chosen One and defeat them, due to concerns about said Chosen One deposing them. Chance suggests that perhaps the Lord of Fire and Tremors could temporarily abdicate and have the Chosen One depose a patsy who takes their place, but Challenge and Strife's Lord demands the murder plan be done first. The prophecy is as follows:
When worlds collide and the mundane cracks
The time is right to Strife attack
As screams the skull of raging hate
When struck five times by sword of fate
Where three moons glow o’er Court of Storms
The Chosen One will there be formed
Their power commands such shock and awe
And depose Fire, by Conflict’s Law
Chance and Marmaduke are confused as to what a “Moon” is and the Lord of Fire and Tremors explains that aeons ago, there was a contest amongst Lieges of Conflict to launch giant rocks into the sky as a means of deciding who was the best. There was, obviously, no clear winner, but the Court of Supremacy decided to keep theirs in the sky anyway - four to be precise. These are called Moons, named after Months, because it took bloody Months of arguing about Sky Rocks for people to shut up about them.
Anyway, the Lord of Fire and Tremors suggests that stealing the Raging Skull of Hate, which they left with their ex-kismesis the Liege of Darkness, and since Buckler is familiar with the area it should be easy. So they teleport the pair to the CHASM OF DOOM which they infiltrate. They find the Raging Skull of Hate spouting constant hatred at the Soldiers of Darkness and successfully steal it and flee the Domain of Darkness and contact the Lord of Fire and Tremors who then tells them they have located a Superweapon which can be used to knock one of the four “Moons” out of the sky of Supremacy so that there will be three for the Prophecy, and promptly teleports them to a battlefield.
In the battlefield is a bloated corpse which gleefully makes noises such as “BANG!” and “KABOOM!” and “WHEEEE!” and “EXPLOSIONS!”, and an expeditionary force from the newly founded Court of Inconvenience. The Court is struggling to catch the corpse - the Shatterer - but have brought a net. A short farce unfolds in which Marmaduke attempts to capture the Shatterer without causing it to explode (it explodes a number of times) but under the unhelpful lack of guidance of the Liege of Inconvenience they catch it, behead the Liege of Inconvenience to bring with them, and call the Lord of Fire and Tremors about the Sword of Fate. The Lord of Fire and Tremors sends some members of the Duchy of Ire to work out what they could do about the Sword over lunch, and they discuss the prophecy at length and consider a number of ways they could make the Sword of Fate work. At the end of lunch, a Sword falls from the sky, which seems fateful enough. It also talks, and given Marmaduke's stick was inconveniently lost by a member of the Court of Inconvenience, they take it with them.
However, crossing into Supremacy is a challenge and attempts to cross the river of lava that separates Challenge and Strife and Supremacy proves fatal as the boat which can only carry two minds starts sinking when the Raging Skull of Hate, Chance and Buckler are all aboard. Chance realises with delight that Buckler is counted as a mind, but also has to leap to the shore to prevent the boat from sinking. Chance attempts to return to Marmaduke, left on the other shore, but all goes terribly wrong when Chance believes Marmaduke dropped the Shatterer and was killed by it, only to find that the Shatterer had not exploded yet. Chance is exploded into the river and while Marmaduke and Buckler (who is devoured by the Raging Skull of Hate) are given a new life by the Lord of Fire, Chance's blessing has to save them instead. A short while later, Chance suffers another trip across the river and is dying on the other shore when Marmaduke summons the Lord of Fire to help. Chance dies, but before their mind can die fully, the Lord of Fire swaps the mind of Buckler and Chance, preserving Chance's dying mind in Buckler and putting Buckler inside Chance's body. Marmaduke, now with authority they never expected to have, manages to get to the other shore with all their companions intact, and Buckler has an existential crisis upon seeing, well, Buckler. The Liege of Inconvenience, and the Raging Skull of Hate are destroyed in the crisis, however.
Marmaduke and Buckler make their way to the Gate of Storms where a bargain is struck for the Gate to help with the Buckler predicament. Marmaduke trades the Liege of Inconvenience for the Gate to swap the minds of Buckler and the Gate, meaning the Gate is now inside Chance's body and Buckler is the Gate. Marmaduke then swears an oath of vengeance against the Lord of Fire for the Gate to swap with Chance in the Buckler. The Gate swaps into the body of Buckler, and Chance returns to his own body. Buckler wants to be a Buckler, so Chance guides a mutation to turn the gate body into a buckler form, and the gate attempts to be a gate, but it's not very good, so Marmaduke picks it up and steals the gate.
Out of body experience sorted, the party make their way into Supremacy where they indeed spot the Moons. Chance takes the Shatterer and bounces high into the clouds to launch it repeatedly at a Moon, which falls from the sky, leaving only three up there as Marmaduke takes the Sword of Fate and smashes the remnants of the Raging Skull of Hate with it. The Oracle of Supremacy then appears to announce Marmaduke the Chosen One, which is a bit inconvenient. Storm Soldiers of Supremacy are unsure of how to proceed, so they summon the Lady of Storms who swears Marmaduke into her service and commands Marmaduke and Chance to go and defeat the Lord of Fire and yeets them back to the Court of Strife and Challenge.
Upon arrival, Chance knocks out Marmaduke with a sleep of death to make it look like he killed the Chosen One, but finds that the Lord of Fire has in fact enacted Chance's plan and abdicated, putting the undead Lady of Tremors on the Throne as Lady of Fire. Chance and some skeletons puppet Marmaduke's body to knock the Lady of Fire off the Throne, thus completing the Prophecy, and the Lord of Fire returns, delighted, and torches Marmaduke's body for good measure, killing Marmaduke. Boons are bestowed - controlling fire for Chance, the undead Lady of Tremors for Buckler, being On Fire for the Sword of Fate (which is returned to the sky). The Lord of Fire thanks Buckler for another job well done and Chance leaves with the haul.
Marmaduke finds themselves awakening to a servant of the Lady of Storms who informs them that since they died on the service of the Lady of Storms, they have a free life to be returned with, and so promptly comes back to life in Chance's hands. Chance is delighted, and the Sword of Fate falls from the sky again and lands in Marmaduke's hands.
Chance and Marmaduke return to where they left and pretend to be asleep for the rest of the Day of Dreams. Upon awakening, Chance informs the local Bureaucrat that the Conflict incursion has been dealt with and the Bureaucrat thanks Chance and Marmaduke for such a proud, integrated, productive, selfless act. Marmaduke takes the Sword of Fate and the Gate of Storms to the Circle of the Enlightened Mind in Rom. They are particularly grateful for the gift of the Gate, and particularly grateful as well for the chance to study the Sword of Fate. They take a sample and pore over it, not telling Marmaduke anything. Marmaduke splits the favour with Chance.
Chance heads to the Imperial Commission and flaunts the floaty Moon rock they found. Master Commissioner Romov takes great interest, and Chance suggests it could be used to construct a means of harvesting the Ichor falling from the sky at its source. Romov is particularly grateful for the opportunity to resolve some of the troubles at the ichorwerks and leaves Chance with a small sample of the rock.
Marmaduke debriefs with the Foresters Guild and they are delighted that nothing awful happened. Given a job well done - and for a Commissioner no less! - Marmaduke is bestowed the honour of going on the Plaque of Model Forest Touched.