Carbunkle appears on a wide dune. The wind blows sand in his face, but his path is clearly illuminated by the Three Moons. Over his shoulder is slung a strange contraption, the size of a breadbox…which make sense as it is a breadbox. The Vagabonder insisted that it was the perfect tri-phasal resonance needed for the device to work as needed. That and the single drop of Time the engineer had saved, at his Captain’s request.
The gnome had expected an argument when he told the engineer his plan, but The Vagabonder had been so caught up in his inspiration for the machine that it was an easy sell.
Carbunkle stopped on the crest of the dune. Below, bright torches illuminated an oasis. Through moon-black eyes, the gnome squints — his eyes have become incredibly sensitive to light in the past few days. Verdant palms surrounded a wide, shallow lake. A few huts are nearby, but most of the activity is taking place on a wide circular stone in the center of the lake. Even from this distance, the gnome recognizes the arcane sigils of the Third Eye, and the cloaked figures Black, White and Red. They move with an easy alacrity, excitement clear in every frame.
The summoner straps the machine to his chest, it gives off an unpleasant whirring noise as it warms up. The big red button on the top blinks, then burns steady..just as the Vagabonder instructed. All he has to do is push the button.
The machine pings, and blue light erupts. Carbunkle feels strange, as if he’s in two places at once. Then there is a POP. And he is. Carbunkle blinks into his own eyes, standing on the other side of the machine.
“Take care of Scarlet.” Other Carbunkle says gruffly. “And Talitha, and Agnar, and Echo, and Haskeer, and Fin, and Corben and the grandkids, and Frostthimble, and all of the books, and…and you know what I mean. And just like we agreed, if this goes south…be ready to take me and the rest of the Third Eye out.”
Carbunkle watches as Other Carbunkle trundles down the dunes. The gnome tosses the now-useless machine aside. Without anything to fuel it, it will be forgotten and rust, hidden by the shifting Sarmadi Sands. The gnome sits down on the dunes to watch the ritual, cloaked in invisibility.
The preparations for the ritual are complete. The Three Moons hang stately, all full in perfect harmony in the night sky. The Witnesses step forward. Black, Red and White…they form a simple ring on the stone, and each kneels. Then the Moonchildren take their place in the center, forming a triangle. Ananda, with her long black hair blowing in the wind. The white-haired child is placed in his crib at the proper point, and the Arcleric Tome steps back into his place with the other witnesses. A gray-haired Yad-Elf in red leather armor takes his place as the Red Moonchylde.
All is still, then the ritual begins. Ancient words fill the air, faint echoes carried to the gnome’s ear by the wind. Then lines of power begin to form connecting the witnesses, and each moon’s avatar. Carbunkle feels an odd sensation, something breaking inside of him. The face of each moon seems to turn, or to slowly blink like giant stone eyes.
Energy pours out of each moon, coalescing around their chosen avatar ..then rippling outwards. Washing over Carbunkle and through him — spreading like a wave to the sleeping world beyond. The gnome blinks, and his connection to the Black Moon shatters. His eyes clear, the strange glittering carapace falls into the sand, and a blinding headache overwhelms him.
Before he falls into darkness, three words whisper across his mind. It it Lucina’s voice, Saraghina’s, Open and Shut’s? Like all of these, but not..the speaker is unknown, but the words are crystal-sharp.
Celes. Maero. Torva.
Three sisters dance, and three children sing. For now in harmony. The dreamers beyond will wake to a new world tomorrow, though it will be some time before they truly realize it.
Carbunkle sleeps himself, in the midnight sands, on the edge of wonder.