The Cage Door Left Ajar

Beyond the Closet Door

The Travel Log of One, Clow Reed, Mage and Master of Two, Recording His Travels Through the Extended Universes, and Dimensions There Within, and Documenting His Discovery and Synthesis of the Magickal Systems Used By the Natives Peoples Thereof

September 21st, 1923 (note- determine equivalents between local calendars and Gregorian)

I am pleased to record that the portal worked splendidly. Of course, this means that I must revise my previous hypothesis stating that wardrobes are not suitable containers for interdimensional portals. Evidently Lewis knew what he was talking about—check to see if writing him a note alters or confirms projected future.

We arrived in Sigil, a magnificently diverse city where one can see angels and demons pass each in the street (not on friendly terms, of course). From what little information I was able to gather before we were forcefully removed from the city, portals all across the universes have opened into Sigil, which is also known as The City of Doors or The Cage. Sigil is overseen by the Lady of Pain, a mysterious figure about whom I know little; what I do know is that She is immensely tall, and can apparently transport unwilling creatures into extradimensional pockets of space, as She promptly did with us shortly after our arrival. The space was composed in an unique fashion, comprised from memories of those trapped within its maze-like walls, with a few added rivers of lava for good measure it seems…

There we met another prisoner, a man by the name of Ken Noble, a monk on par with the Shaolin. He speaks an odd dialect of English, as if Old English took a wrong turn on the linguistical evolutionary tree. Thankfully, we are able to understand each well enough to communicate acceptably, though I doubt we’ll be holding philosophical discussions anytime in the immediate future. Selfish it might be, but I don’t wish to use more energy than required to set up a translating spell between us. This is a strange land, and the idea of being caught magically unprepared is incredibly unappealing. I’m certainly not in England anymore, never mind Kansas. But I digress…

We found a portal into another space, where a crone whom I later learned is called Ravina Puzzleworth transcribed the glyph for a plane shift spell into my left palm. (And transcribed is putting it kindly; she used her nail to crave the bloody thing into my flesh. This was to be the first of three injuries I managed to collect throughout the course of the day.) As soon as she departed from her maze, the space began to disintegrate, and we jumped through the gap between her maze and mine. Unfortunately, this landed us squarely in the first ring of Hell, and yes, the term is literal. Dante’s descriptions are only partially accurate: the first level was a blackened plain, covered with a fine layer of ash (presumably caused by the motes of fire which floated about, exploding at random intervals), with jagged mountains twisting up from the ground in one direction. The only architecture was a single bronze citadel quite some distance away, which quickly fell under siege by an enormous army of demons; we avoided the main legion by fleeing to the mountains, although a small contingency broke off and pursued us.

We met them with force at the mountain—Yue and Kerberos did wonderfully for their first taste of lethal combat, even if they each had their moment of misfortune. Neither of them were injured, but harm did befall me in the form of a small rat-like demon which bit me sharply in the shoulder. This and another situation have convinced me that I need to practice casting successfully in stressful conditions, as my first attempt to raise a protective circle failed miserably. After the battle we crossed the mountains, unwilling to venture close to the clashing armies below. We recovered a bound iron chest under a pile of demon corpses, but I have not yet opened it—there is magic about it, and I do not trust anything from that land. I will inspect it properly in a control, contained environment.

We came upon the most peculiar construction once we emerged from the mountains: a tower of skulls stretching upwards towards the heav sky. Disembodies whispers had accompanied us thus far through the mountains, and now we knew of the source. When asked, the skulls explained that they all were once living creatures, who had in their time caused someone’s death through their spoken misdirection. Now, they were bound to truthfully answer all inquiry, provided the inquirer pay a sufficient price, dependent on the nature of the question and the value of the answer. (I am reminded strongly of Yoko…)

Ken declined the use of the tower, preferring personal reflection to answer his concerns. I offered a horn taken from one of the defeated demons in exchange for the location of this place, and the skulls confirmed that we were indeed in Hell, although they had a more specific name for it. Then I asked my second question, phrased as such: ‘you will reveal to us, in plain language, a way to escape Hell, in one piece, whole and healthy’. The skulls remarked that I was no fun, and I replied that I knew the rules enough to be specific. Upon being asked what I would offer for such knowledge, I drew out my ritual blade and pricked the tip of my index finger on my left hand; I held it out with the intent to offer a few drops of blood. The skulls deemed this acceptable, and to my shock and horror, bit off my finger clean at the joint.

(My gods, it hurt. It still hurts, though it’s now properly bandaged and I’ve consumed more than a safe amount of willow bark tea in an effort to dull the pain. What I would not give for even a half a vial of morphine… This entry is being inscribed on my behalf via a minor charm on my pencil; I’m vaguely surprised the handwriting is identical to my own. Interesting ramifications concerning forgery.)

I managed not to swear at the beastly thing, instead managing to grind out ‘you misunderstood me’, at which the skulls cackled and replied that I should have been more specific. (Given the circumstance, I find my lack of amusement at their clever turn-about perfectly acceptable.) Furiously, I curtly reminded them that I specifically said ‘in one piece’ and pointed out that they had just broken a blood-bound oath. They fell silent, before admitting their error and granting me another question, the kind whose answer would normally require the cost of a life. Personally, I wanted to scream—I didn’t want another question, I wanted my damn finger back! My dominant hand, my casting hand! I could kick myself for not using my right hand! Oh, I just could!

Thankfully I managed to maintain some composure, demanding to know why all the portals to Sigil had been opened. After receiving the answers to both my queries, I bowed stiffly, still quite cross, and we depart. We returned to the battlefield, where we contrived a plan to safely reach the remains of a colossal black dragon via prudent use of a dimension door spell. When I inspected the inside of the dragon, I was awed to find that each scale had inscribed on it a glyph for resilience; the dragon must have peeled its scales back while still alive to achieve this. Ken’s commentary on the usefulness of such materials in armor was somewhat disheartening.

Since I had never teleported something so unbelievably huge, I transcribed my circle using a powdered dragon bone to grant me an added measure of control, and proceeded to shifted the whole silly thing, the magic consuming parts of the beast as extra fuel.

It worked perfectly though. I harvested the teeth I required to power the long-dead portal I would need to reactivate, and then we bid farewell to the dragon, flying to the edge of the disk to find the portal along its side. (Yes, Hell really does have a distinct edge, yet gravity pulls down, throwing into question the idea that the earth’s mass creates the gravitational pull, directed inward to the concentration of mass.)

To confess, I was not confident in my ability to reactivate the portal in my current state. I was suffering from blood loss—thank the gods I hadn’t fallen into shock—wrestling with the pain, had already expended quite a good deal of energy in my previous workings, and on top of everything, I was supporting Kerberos and Yue. Even with the dragon fang and my circle as a focus, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I tried anyways.

The energy manipulation during the casting reopened my wound, and my blood dripped onto the circle. I felt a strange surge of power, a foreign yet familiar rush of energy, the sickening sensation of free-fall, and the shift executed without a hitch.

We were outside of Sigil, as planned, but once again inside the carcass of the black dragon, quite unplanned. I think I accidentally blood-tied the silly thing to my circle—if so, I’ll have to correct that quickly.

We landed smoothly—dragon wings appear to be structured in such a way so that they lock outwards if no muscle-tension is present, ie, when unconscious or dead—on a beach. Kerberos sunbathed, and Yue stood in the surf (after tending to my hand, of course). Ken is presently sleeping atop the dragon, and that brings us up to the present. Tomorrow I seek out the services of a skilled healer in the hopes that I might be able to restore my missing digit. I’ll have to be more careful in the future; Yue is about ready to forcefully restrain me if I intentionally place myself in harms way again.

I am exhausted, having been up for more than twenty-four hours—provided my pocketwatch is running properly and hasn’t become faster or slower in the process of shifting dimensions—but I want to get my thoughts down before I sleep. This day alone yielded such fascinating ideas: the concept of an entirely different mechanism behind gravity; the nature of using components of innate magical creatures as sources of energy in castings; the geography in Hell and how it relates to the denizens within; the power of intent and blood in a magical endeavor; the characteristics of parallel dimensions and their interactions with one another; et cetra. I already have several theories to many of those questions, and I think I might have discovered a method for testing one or two of the more obvious. What I’d really like to do would be to experiment with the casting of celestial-based workings on the various levels of Hell, and document the results of combining positive energy with what is very clearly negative energy. Personally, I suspect that such experiments will yield…

[Up to this point the script has progressively become more and more illegible. Here the entrée becomes completely indiscernible, fading until it breaks off completely. The editor has correctly deduced that the author might have nodded off while creating this entrée.]

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Mieva

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