Subsubsection: 25 March 2015 (investigating the Forever City) Up Subsection: The Forever City Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks 

15 April 2015 (the end of the Forever City)

The passage leads to a door and a small chamber, containing a sarcophagus for someone around five feet tall. Diamond reads the walls: there’s lots of stuff about “the joy of his parents” and “died in the great plague”. Eventually, Stephen and Thorfin push the lid of the sarcophagus aside to reveal a mummified child, with a mildly-magical golden ankh clutched to his chest; Stephen takes it, and feels an ongoing sense of spiritual malaise.
The team carries on, visiting a ruined building of tumbled stone; there’s a glass jar containing silvery powder that seems to have survived, though others have clearly been broken. The glass is much clearer than the other containers nearby, and even the screw lid is made of glass.
There’s a fallen structure of large stone blocks; David realises that it was a low dome, and the blocks were somehow held together without mortar, cement, or anything other than flat faces placed against each other. One could build something like this over a support frame, but it would be tremendously unstable once the frame was removed.
Something like a meeting hall has an unreadable inscription over what was probably the lintel. A stone circle contains multiple statues in the Greek style, of various sporting figures. What was probably the palace, judging at least by the throne-like chair in a big room, has been stripped bare, as most of the buildings have; this place was clearly abandoned in reasonable order, not in haste.
The floating metal arrow is no longer pointing upwards, but slightly to the west; it seems to be tracking the sun.
Finally, in the late afternoon, the team climbs the big stepped pyramid at the far end of the city. The walls are bare, but even from below there’s clearly greenery on top; as they reach the upper surface, they see a large garden, with plants and trees clearly well-tended. Everything is green and healthy, though none of it is in flower. Two rows of three fountains (still running) lead the eye to the far end, where a stone platform carries a bowl of some sort. Closer at hand is a statue: two men, oddly proportioned, kneel facing each other, their hands joined; a slab or table (around chest height on most of the party) lies on top of their arms.
There’s an inscription which, like the one in the Temple of the Map, is readable:
The Time of Possibilities is at Hand
Sky and Fire must be Mixed
And Carried Forth to Anoint the Brazier
And Prepare it for Lighting
But Beware
Only the most Worthy
Will be able to Suffer the Pains of the Sacred Stairs and Live
To Light the Signal Fire
And Herald the News of Earth
The fountains are very similar to each other. When Stephen touches the first one on the left, the water turns red (though it is still clearly water, not blood); clouds cover the sky, and wind starts to blow. The water clears as soon as he’s not touching it any more, but the storm continues. The first fountain on the right runs orange, and the storm intensifies; now lightning is striking the city below, destroying what was left of the buildings.
Working out that these might well be in spectral order, Diamond takes red water from the first fountain and puts it in the Chalice;, then she goes to the last one on the left, which runs blue. The water swirls in the Chalice, remaining red and blue rather than mixing.
Closer to the platform, Thorfin can clearly see (and everyone else can just about make out) globes of energy nested and centred on it, one more or less on each step. Diamond is deciding how best to approach this when David cries out; he’s been bitten in the neck by a very dapperly-dressed figure with cape and fangs, which hisses at him and moves on to Stephen.
Stephen’s slightly better able to defend himself, though when he spends a Possibility to evade, the vampire spends one to prevent it. Stephen is also bitten, though he’s not as badly wounded as David.
Diamond heads up the stairs, feeling a sense of intense pain as she mounts the first step; a Possibility prevents most of the damage. Stephen fires at the vampire, at point-blank range on full automatic; it doesn’t seem to help much. David draws a sun-blade, while the vampire bites Stephen again, less effectively this time. Diamond continues up the stairs, while Thorfin smashes the vampire’s skull with his mace, to no effect. Stephen quick-draws his own sun-blade, but stabbing the vampire with that doesn’t seem to help either. The vampire moves to bite Thorfin, but doesn’t make it past his shield. Stephen attempts to imbue the sun-blade with possibility energy, but that doesn’t seem to help. Thorfin reaches for the jar of powder, and throws it over the vampire, who disappears instantly.
This is the point at which Diamond has reached the top step, and pours the red and blue water into the bowl. The bubbles of energy vanish, and words form on the rim: How Will You Send Your Message?
The other Storm Knights join her and they use the power of the Possibility Chalice; a beam of bright light shoots upwards from the bowl. It’s dazzling for several moments, but when it fades there’s a shimmering image of a globe in mid-air. It’s dotted with pin-points of light, with seven marks of complete blackness: in Indonesia, the western USA, Scotland, southern France, Egypt, Japan… and Mexico?
As the heroes look at the globe, they find themselves falling into it, down towards one of the lights, somewhere in England. A group of children is standing in a playground, clustered round a sand-pit. A man, someone the Knights don’t recognise, is half-buried in it, bleeding and semi-conscious. The children poke and prod at him, one of them kicking sand over him. The Knights find that they are unable to move, or to speak.
A winged humanoid form, somehow demonic in appearance, lands among the children; they smile and clap as it pats them on the head. It speaks: “I’ve crippled this Stormer for you, young ones. Do with him as you will”. It then picks up a plastic cricket bat, which gains weight and heft, and passes it to one of the children. “Go on, boy. Haven’t you ever wondered what it woul be like?”
The boy steps up and raises the bat, hesitating before he strikes. The Knights use the power of the Chalice to send their message: there is hope, and others are fighting the invaders. The boy flings the bat at the demon, then runs, and the other children scatter.
The scene fades, and new lights spring up on the globe: maybe a few hundred more, where there were around a thousand before. The storm dies away, and the globe fades.
The Signal Fire has been lit.
 Subsubsection: 25 March 2015 (investigating the Forever City) Up Subsection: The Forever City Subsection: Cassandra File 89: The Fatal Tanks