The Well of Souls

Baker led the group down into a dense web of catacombs which, as he would later describe, ran their way throughout the town and beyond. Underground passages that his family carved out of the rock across the years to help form their mandala. The further they went the more strange vortices of energy that Gus, Allison and Carson could see. The others were unaware of the power of this place, the true power of it.

Baker took them to a central chamber that was locked off by a massive stone door. He spoke some sort of indistinct language, a spell no doubt, which caused the door to open. He gestured for the group to step inside.

"You first, Mayor." Allison said. She wasn't about to trust this guy just yet.

Baker shrugged and stepped inside first. "As I said before, Sheriff Newport. I have given up on pretense. My family secret is exposed, and the forces of the dead amass as we speak. The time has come for me and my line to end... And a new one to begin."

The room the group found themselves in was massive with the heart of it being taken up by a bizarre mechanism of bronze and glass that glowed an eerie white color. Something that all, not just those blessed with Sight could see. Though to them, the mechanism was slowly pooling energy into itself.

Baker looked to Gus and Allison. "You two see more than even I have the honor of seeing. A power unlike anything I have ever encountered. You see through the false veils, you see the True Universe."

"I was told it was the next step of human evolution." Gus said. "That the sight would bring us closer to the cosmos."

"And the one who told you that was right." A new voice said from the far side of the room.

It was Charles River Dawn Lewis.

The old Gray regarded his friends with a small smile. He wasn't putting up his disguise, so the ancient alien appeared as he truly was: a gray alien with messy dreadlocks who was dressed like an aging hippy.

"Charles?" Gus frowned. "You knew about this?"

"I've been on this planet a long time." Charles told him. "This Convergence drew me and many others to Jackalope Crossing. It was here that I met our Mayor, and we swore to defend the power that resides here."

"Why didn't you tell us about this place?" Allison asked.

"Because I'm well aware that your agency would use this power for their own ends." Charles told her, glancing to Jackson and the other agents in the room. "This mandala is the source of great cosmic power and must be defended at all costs, even from those who would use it for what they felt were good causes."

"Yet you let Mr. Mayor over there use it to gain wealth and power. So much so that he was willing to cover up the death of an innocent man and even kill us to keep it a secret." Freddy pointed out.

"At the time, The Bakers were the best hands available." Charles said. "And while his methods were... extreme... they were in the name of preserving peace and sanity. Something now on the verge of ending."

"It's clear that I am no longer worthy of the mantle of Protector." Baker admitted with visible sadness. "I just hope I can put things right before the damage is irreparable."

"So how do we stop the ghost army?" Allison asked.

"The mandala is seething with the agony of a dead race." Charles said solemnly. "It must be cleansed."

"Why do I get the feeling one of us is gonna have to jump into a giant beam and get assimilated into the collective to do that?" Freddy asked. "Like a bad ending to some lousy video game."

Baker chuckled. "Oh, nothing so dramatic as that, I assure you! Though the process is dangerous as it requires you to visit the heartstone which circulates the cosmic energies through the mandala."

"Doesn't sound so tough." Freddy remarked with a smirk.

Baker's demeanor darkened. "To maintain the security of the heartstone my family placed powerful... entities... so to speak to defend strategic points. And sadly they have been altered by the souls of the Kakabel. I no longer have the ability to control them."

"What kind of entities are we talking about?" Allison asked.

"Tulpa." Charles said. "Thought made form. Creatures conjured by powerful warlocks for a variety of purposes. In this case, defense of the mandala."

"Can they be taken out via conventional means?" Allison asked.

"They are solid, but highly durable. But yes, considerable damage will destroy them." Baker nodded.

"Time to bust out the big guns again!" Freddy exclaimed.

"We're a little light on firepower at the moment," Allison pointed out.

"A minor issue," Baker said as he made a gesture with his hands. There was a strange distortion which formed behind everyone and when they turned they saw that space was being warped in some way. To Gus and Allison The Sight provided a clearer picture of what was happening. Hands of black and green energy were pulling on the fabric of reality, stretching and connecting two points and pulling them together. The strange machine in the center of the room was feeding energy to Baker to allow him to do this. Yet it was clear he was using the last of its available power to accomplish this feat.

Suddenly, a pile of weapons were in the room with the group. Baker slumped over, exhausted.

"Big boom booms!" Freddy smirked as he went over to the weapons. "Time for the Jackalope Gang to save the universe once again!"

"That is not all." Baker said, out of breath. He produced what looked like a dagger, and looked to Gus and Allison. To them, the dagger seemed to draw the light out of the immediate area and replaced it with an otherworldly hew. "This will purge the heartstone of the sickness that has infested it. Plunge it into the heartstone after dispatching the tulpa that guards it. The spells will do the rest."

"You have your task, Jackalopes." Charles said with newfound determination. "Be swift! For there is little time to waste!"

< Prev : Down the Spiral Stairs Next > : Go time