Aubrick ducked around a corner as another of the strange vehicles with the flashing lights roared past.

This wasn’t going well at all.

He moved back down the alley, showing surprising grace for someone his size – especially someone clad in a full set of armor. The door to the warehouse remained open – he closed it quietly behind him as he stepped inside. The building was abandoned, filled with empty boxes and overgrown cobwebs; dark drapes covered the windows, obscuring the flickering light within from passerby.

The light originated from the center of the room, where Tailos had cleared a small circle in the dust. He knelt outside the circle, his hands held immobile over the object he had placed in the center of it – a small crystal orb through which myriad images flickered and vanished. The mage was frowning with concentration – he had said that magic was hard to work here, but actually seeing frustration on his normally implacable features was enough to make Aubrick shudder. Tailos, showing emotion? It was simply unnatural.

Aubrick glanced at Rowen, who sat beside the still form of Stanley Miller. The warrior frowned.

“Any change in his condition?” He kept his rumbling voice as quiet as he could, but still it echoed through the chamber. Rowen looked in his direction, then turned away, shaking her head.

Things had started off so much better when they arrived.

The passage through the Well had been strange and surreal, as though Aubrick’s mind and body were being stretched into a thousand different alien shapes. His mind had felt loose and open, as though it was soaking in whatever substance filled the pathway between the worlds. His companions seemed to take it all in stride, as they fell through the void, but he was a simple warrior, and used to simple truths. When they had fallen out the other side, he had been deliriously grateful to be on solid ground again, and had barely even noticed the individual they had come in search of.

Stanley Miller, for his part, took their sudden appearance surprisingly well. He’d looked them over, and idly asked how they had appeared in the fashion they had. Tailos had explained it was magic, and he had accepted it at face value, nodding in acceptance – or perhaps understanding.

The explanation Tailos had given was that Stanley viewed the world in an extremely precise fashion. He would not have entertained the possibility of magic before their arrival, but upon seeing them appear in such a fashion, it was a logical conclusion to arrive at. New information was presented to him – his mind expanded and adapted to contain it. They explained they needed him to save their world – he took them at their word, and seemed willing to come along.

That was when things fell apart. Tailos cast a spell to send them back through the Well, but lost control of it. They went nowhere, and Stanley Miller collapsed to the floor. Rowen carefully looked at him, but couldn’t find any cause of the collapse – or any way to wake him.

When the security guard spotted them leaving the building, they discovered that most people on Earth didn’t think like Stanley Miller – and that carrying an unconscious body around was prone to attract attention.

They’d been running ever since, until finding a quiet place to pause, and see if Tailos could find a way out of this mess.

The orb’s light dimmed, and Aubrick drew his attention back to the present. His friend met his gaze, and nodded.

“I’ve found a way back – but it won’t be easy. All we have to do is wake a slumbering god, or three…”