Hirune hummed to herself as she pulled the last strand of stripped bark taut across one of the many joints of the now completed twig Effigy she had been making over the past several days. By now, it perfectly resembled the Effigy she had seen in her dreams several nights ago, by now merely a vague blur of distant memory, only half-remembered. And since that, Hirune's night had been dark and dreamless, despite her attempts at inducing a lucid state. She was not perturbed either by this or what little she remembered of her dream - she was sure that she would manage to return to the Manse in due time, and the twig-like figure was but another mystery of that vast and dark maze to be uncovered.
"Hmm. You seem to be done..." She muttered to herself, lifting the Effigy from the table and testing to see that its limbs all bent properly and that its head could turn. That was always the most difficult part, but she found the extra effort more rewarding. The sight of an Effigy hanging from a tree, with idly drifting limbs and arms swinging in the breeze, seemed more aesthetically evocative to her than if they were still. And with their heads able to turn, with their gemstone eyes it always seemed like they were looking right at you...
Hirune blinked as she examined the Effigy's head, which was currently bare and bereft of any gemstone eyes. "Oh! Silly me, it seems I forgot your eyes." Hirune said, sighing as she set the Effigy back down atop the coffee table. "You wait here, I'll be back shortly." She got up from where she was sitting in front of the living room couch, and headed off for her room while continuing to hum. Several seconds of silence passed, and everything was still. Abruptly, the air along the ceiling of the room wavered, as though a heavy gas was present, and a small portal formed. A sheep-headed demon poked its head through the interplanar gap and looked around - not seeing any humans, it slithered downwards, its body - that of a snake - lowering the sheep's head down to the couch before the end of the tail untied itself from an unseen anchor and dropped down to join the rest of the demon's body. The sheep's head gazed across the top of the couch with its dead, black eyes. The living room was openly joined with both the kitchen and the entrance, with there being three doors other than the front lined along parallel walls. One was opened to a room, wherein the demon could sense the presence of a human. The sheep's head licked its chops and began to slither onto the floor and across the carpeting in order to obtain an easy meal...
Something snagged against the demon's tail, and it paused. It experimentally tugged the length of its body forward, trying to loosen the scraggly and wooden object that was pinning its tail in place, but to no avail. The demon's eyes narrowed as it remembered the twig Effigy that had been lying on the table - it must have been another demon that arrived even earlier than they had! Still, if it was a demon, it had looked to be even weaker than a minor, mindless insect. It was made of sticks and plant matter. The demon was wrought of pure will and thought - the fight would be no contest. The sheep-headed demon drew back its body and lifted itself back over the top of the couch.
As the demon effigy had suspected, the effigy person was animate, and stabbing at the demon' effigy's tail twigs with its arm of twigs flesh, the tips of each twig finger lodged firmly in the couch. Something felt immensely and profoundly wrong about the situation to the demon effigy, but there wasn't time to dwell on it while the effigy person was attacking them. The sheep's effigy's head frame bleated scraped at the effigy person and lunged at it, hoping to dislodge the construct being.
Hirune's reverie as she sorted through her gemstone collection pouch in her room was broken as she heard several shuffling and scraping noises coming from the living room, along with what sounded like - oddly enough - a lamb bleating. She strode over to her bedroom door and looked out into the living room, seeing nothing amiss - the Effigy was still where she had left it on the coffee table and nothing looked to be out of place. She gave the kitchen a glance just to be sure before retreating back into her room, having missed the fact that the Effigy and the top of the coffee table were both covered in blood splatters that were rapidly vanishing, as if being drawn away from the world.
The Effigy person raised its frame head slightly to face Hirune as she left the living room again, the demon's effigy's blood ichor flaking off of its bindings skin and vanishing into thin air.
Back in her room, Hirune returned to her gemstone collection pouch and, saving herself some time, dumped out the contents onto her bed. A handful of blue topaz stones, several small broken pieces of coal, strands of dead plants, two small marble-sized chunks of amber and some specks of dirt came tumbling out from the small bag as she overturned it before setting it down and retrieving the bits of amber. Hearing a chime from her computer desktop, she moved to her desk and saw that things of interest had updated. She wasted a few minutes reading through the continuation of the newest storyline before closing the window and opening her auto-tarot program.
After messing with the settings a little, she managed to lay out a basic star spread of cards for the reading of her immediate future. The program drew the Fool first, followed by the Tower, with the third being the Wheel of Fortune, the fourth coming up as Judgment, and it ending with the World.
'In essence (although interpretation could vary I suppose), currently I could go almost any number of places.' Hirune thought silently to herself, retrieving what she had taught herself through repetitive practice and use of the auto-tarot's index. 'I am both naive and young, unburdened by the concerns of the world and either unaware or ignorant of what lies in store. Fittingly enough, the second card shows what I literally cannot see or determine at the moment, which would appear to be great change and upheaval. The Wheel of Fortune for the third card is tricky - it represents what I can influence and change. It can be associated with fate, balances, choices, novel occurrences, cycles, all sorts of things. The fourth card represents what I cannot escape or evade, and Judgment specifically stands for both rebirth, reconciliation and new beginnings, along with absolution, release and unfettering. The final card represents what I can take from the whole mess, with the World being the least informative card I could have drawn here. It only means that whatever I get, it will be 'complete' and it will be vaguely good, or at least in line with what the rest of the cards in the spread foretell. Pretty typical stuff. I've never gotten a spread quite like this one before, but I'm getting the hang of how these layouts work now.' Pleased that she had managed to decipher the card spread's apparent meaning without having resorted to using the auto-tarot index, Hirune closed the program and left the room in order to affix the bits of amber to the effigy's frame.
888888888888 Purgomorta 888888888888
~There are four Awakened with doors bridging the Waking World and Purgomorta currently. Three are closed and stable. The mosaic boundary is being channeled across each in a stable through-form that eventually returns, harnessed by the wills of the humans in the Waking World. The fourth door remains open, and the continuous diffusion of the mosaic boundary is causing an accelerated conjoinment of overlapping areas in both worlds. During this window of time, our ability to project our own wills across the boundary into the Waking World will reach its first apex. This must be exploited to create as great an impetus as feasible to encourage the Awakened to ensure the fourth door is closed. If the door is not closed before one of the other three forces seizes control of the area, it will doubtlessly be destroyed, resulting in total collapse of the local boundary and permanent overlay of the Waking World by Purgomorta.~
~Rest assured. As great an impetus as is feasible has been created in order to encourage the current slew of Awakened to close the fourth door.~
888888888888 The Waking World 888888888888
Several hours later, a small meteorite the size of a basketball entered the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated as it fell through. A single chunk, approximately the size of a grain of rice, fell in the middle of a populated city and struck a bronze statue in the middle of a local park, decapitating the figure and flinging it clear from its base to bounce several meters across the neat grass before obliterating several carefully maintained hedges. The tiny sliver of rock from above buried itself in the base the statue had rested upon, forming a decently-sized impact crater amidst the stone. It would be hours before there was an actual response from officials, and hours more before anybody would even think of removing the tiny sliver of stone. Unfortunately, the World did not have that much time.
It had exactly one hour and forty-four minutes.
Within the depression it had gouged in the pedestal of stone, the small and precarious sliver of foreign rock began to emit a faint and eerie, if barely perceptible light as a demon began to coalesce background radiation to form a body for itself.