Journal Entry 11: On Shaky Ground

Whether or not it was a good idea to pass through this barrier remains to be seen. I can assume we’ll be able to return through it, but assumptions have not always boded well for me. Perhaps I can find numenera in this city that will help me control this jaunting. This highly improbable, portable city…

We march on toward this strange city within this pocket dimension. It appears to be the only city here, completely surrounded by the greenish-gray haze in all directions. It is as bright here as any city in the Steadfast illuminated by the sun, but there is no discernible source of light. The temperature is moderate as well- quite comfortable, in fact. It is a welcome change to the constant cold of the desert.

As we draw nearer to the city, the spectacle of brilliant reflections and tall spires is belied by what appears to be extensive damage to the buildings. We could not see it when we first entered this realm as far away as we were, but it is evident the city has suffered some form of catastrophe, apparently rather recently. The figures we saw in the distance, who are unmistakably human, are busying themselves cleaning up debris and repairing structures, removing the rubble of collapsed buildings, escorting injured people to a few places further into the city.

What happened here? How is there an entire city with a human population inside this pocket dimension? Were the dead beings we encountered transporting it? Where to, and for what purpose? I decide these would be appropriate questions for some of these people once I have an opportunity to speak with one of them.

Clearly, now is not the best time to engage in entertaining any such line of questioning.  Nakkus urges us to pitch in and help, and we lend ourselves to clearing the debris from a collapsed home in the outer section of the city.  A father of three was desperately single-handedly digging through rubble searching for the body of his husband, still missing from the quake that transpired two weeks ago.

We spend the better part of the day clearing rubble in the search for missing people. We had managed to recover a few bodies and in one surprising case, a young girl who was still alive, but barely. The light had begun to fade and “night” is falling, though I still can’t ascertain the light’s source. Some effect from the energy wall? We are directed to one of the large warehouses where the numerous displaced residents are being sheltered. Modest amounts of food are offered to everyone as well as us, but we decline, choosing to spare theirs and take from our own provisions.

As people become more familiar with our presence the questions begin coming our way. Our wardrobe and appearance, and especially Orton’s translucent skin with its occasional wave of bluish energy sweeping through it, makes it clear that we are strangers to the city. We explain that we traveled the Cold Desert from Matheunis, the Machine City to this downed… vessel? Structure?… and how we entered into their pocket dimension. Our inquirers are nonplussed by information we give them, and astonished at the idea that we came through the energy barrier.

They tell us we are in a city they call Tlonta, a population of roughly thirty-two thousand. They have no awareness of residing in a pocket dimension. They tell of this city having existed for generations, with no idea of its origins. The Shoss, what they call the energy barrier, has been as long as the city has. In fact, the Tlontans consider it a god. According to them the Shoss provides them food, water, and other materials in plenitude, enough to where they have been able to keep significant amounts of surplus. They believe they have somehow angered the god, as it has beset the great quake upon them and since then no longer blesses them with food and water. Their reserves have lasted throughout the two weeks since the disaster but they are now starting to dwindle. Building supplies that had also been bestowed upon them are starting to exhaust themselves quickly. We arrived quite some time after their shock had abated, but on the toes of their anxiety around how they will survive in the long run.

We take a moment to convene privately to discuss the situation. While we initially ventured out here for a salvaging mission, these people are in desperate need of our help. Do we exit this dimension back into our own to seek help? Do we convince them that their god is merely a dimensional barrier and lead an exodus of the residents out into the other? In either case, civilization and resources are a long way from where the vessel is in the middle of the Cold Desert.

We discuss the possibility of there being some supplies stored somewhere in the structure. Meesk theorizes that the visitant caretakers were passing provisions through the barrier on a regular basis. If so, those provisions should be accessible, shouldn’t they? Or were they being retrieved from some other dimens-

Not again! Not now! They can see me fading away, and I don’t have time to explain-

…once again, I have no idea where I am. The air is very salty, there’s a coastline bordered by a seawall about 50 meters downslope from where I am. Of course I don’t know what sea I’m looking out onto.

Alright, I need to find a populated area, try to hire out my services- as a nano- then see about figuring out how to neutralize or at least control this jaunting business…

…with no research facilities. Without the resources of the Order, without material to study teleportation, crail- I had put years of study into what would be required to build the device that put me in this situation. Well, the situation I put myself in.

What kind of life is this turning out to be? Spending a few weeks in one place, simply to up and jaunt to another. A devoted priest of the Order, established in Qi, dedicated to learning the numenera. Now I am an accidental sojourner merely trying to survive in whatever random place I happen to appear in. How can I be of service to anyone anywhere when I cannot ground myself for very long? Twice I have vanished while in a position to help the people around me. I am little more than a traveling ghost.

Well… I cannot abandon hope. I must, I will find a way to correct or control this jaunting. Okay, I see a large building up the hill a ways in the distance, like a great hall of sorts. I’ll make my way there now and see what fate awaits me there. Listen to me… an Aeon Priest speaking of fate. Let me say I at least hope to find a purpose in what has happened to me.