With all the hype about Ultima 9, the endlessly creative theories about who the Guardian REALLY is, and the unprecented success of Avatar fiction such as "Pulp Avatar" (truly a work of art), I decided I would have a try at all 3 of these, and present yet *another* possibility.


For your convenience...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void

by Detherk Dragon

(Futurian's note: This takes place after Ultima 9, exactly one year after
the Guardian's final defeat. The Avatar and gang are still around, and Dupre
has somehow come back from the Void.)

Lord British rises from his chair, and the huge audience gathered to this
historic occassion falls silent.  He scans over the banquet hall, meeting
the gaze of his countrymen and the vast tables of food laid before them.
To his side, at the table of honor, sits the Avatar and the Companions.
Dupre is barely able to contain himself.

"Look at all this food. I must eat now." Dupre somewhat stealthily slides
his fingers to Lord British's plate, which has the most food on it, and
carefully spears a large slab of meat with British's fork.  Lord British
turns and looks towards Dupre.  "Don't even think about it", he whispers.
Dupre slinks back into his chair, still staring at the food.

Lord British addresses the audience: "On this anniversary of the Guardian's
defeat, we are here to celebrate and continue to rebuild Britannia. On this
most special day, the Avatar has performed another great service to Britannia"
He pauses for dramatic effect.  The crowd awaits anxiously.
Lord British smiles some more, and waits some more.
Finally, he announces "The Avatar and one his most trusted Companions, Mariah,
hast restored the Moongates"  The crowd goes wild and chants in unison
"Av-a-tar! Av-a-tar! Av-a-tar!"

Lord British frowns for a moment, but just a moment.  Ever since the Avatar
came here, all the people cared about was him. Avatar this, Avatar that.
Why can't *I* do something for a change.  Ahh, he answered himself, but I

He hushes the crowd, and continues. "But there is more. From the Avatar's
adventures, he has uncovered secrets from the Great Hierophant himself.
And with the combined knowledge of him and the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom,
the Companion Julia has managed to create *a lighter than air ship*!".
The crowd goes wild.  He mumbles, "In Hur", and a slight breeze picks up,
revealing a hot air balloon, piloted by Julia.  Lord British mumbles,
"An Hur", and the balloon falls to the ground with a definite thud.
The crowd is openly gaping at this craft.  Lord British says:
"May I present, the Heart of Gold".  After some cheering, he says
"You know, that is a really neat balloon.  I mean, it is so really neat.
It is so neat," he pauses again for dramatic effect, "that I think I'm
going to steal it".  With that, he blinks himself into the balloon, and
blinks Julia out of it.
With a skillful placement of In Hur spells, he pilots the balloon near
the Avatar and tells him to jump in.

Avatar: "But...but...why?"
British: "to have fun. This party is lame. Jump in, we'll have lunch at
   the restaurent at the end of the Void"
Dupre: "Interesting place...I've been there a few times, but their
   beer isn't that great"
The Avatar promptly boards, and Iolo, shocked at all this, says: "Avatar, is
this virtuous?"
Avatar: "No, but that was Ultima 4-6. Virtue doesn't count anymore. That's
   why I got laid on the Serpent Isle, and you didn't. All you did was keep
   asking me if that was virtuous or not.  Hop in, chill out"
Iolo, Dupre, and Shamino board.

The balloon rises, and the Avatar and co stare up at the massive balloon.
Avatar:"So how does this fly? How can it be lighter than air, when the entire
   balloon is made of solid gold?"
British: "Oh, its simple really. This balloon has more gold than all the
   remaining gold in the rest of the Void.  Therefore it falls like a
   brick.  But this ship has the Infinite Buoyancy Drive.  You see, anything
   truly lighter than air has a finite buoyancy.  Take gold, for example.
   Its buoyancy is nil to none, depending on the ambient medium.  Combine this
   with the Codex of Infinite Wisdom, and we can draw the infinite power from
   the Codex to give this gold infinite buoyancy.  In the end, the way it
   works is that the rest of the Universe is infinitely more buoyant than
   this craft, so the rest of the Universe can fly around it relative to us.
   OR...relative to them, we can fly around it.  So here we are.  Really
   quite simple, actually"
Avatar: "I see."
Iolo: "Are we there yet?  I'm 200 years old, and I've got this pain down
   my left side"
Dupre: If you really want to go to the Restaurent, why don't you take this
   shortcut i know through the Ether.  We can use the Serpent Jawbone."
Avatar: "Wrong planet"
Dupre: "Oh, um...the moongates, of course"
They start a descent down towards Cove.
As they near the ground, British is about to cast An Hur to stop the winds
and land.  The Avatar quickly stops him, and says "Please, allow me....An Hur"

 The Keeper of the Flame of Love comes out and points to the sky and yells
for everybody to come see. British is completely unable to see the Keeper,
since he is directly above him, and accidentally lands on him, killing him

British: "Oops....what's that ressurection spell again?"
Avatar: "I forgot...it keeps changing. I remember one time though that
  somebody in Cove told me"
British: "It wouldn't happen to be, um... him? Would it?"
Avatar: "Ahh, I think so."
British: "I think we should leave"
Avatar: "I think you are right"
They run for the gate, making their way through the swamp area over there.
(Everybody that is, except for Iolo, Dupre, and Shamino, who are happily
inhaling lots of swamp gas).

After making dry ground again, the Companions are green to the face. The Avatar
sighs his Why-do-I-hang-around-these-idiots sigh. He turns to British and
says "Listen, I'm out of garlic. Job?"
British sighs his Why-do-I-hang-around-these-idiot-human sighs, and wonders
what it is about people that makes them say totally obvious things.
British, wearily "For the nth time, my JOB is to rule BRITANNIA and all
   its PEOPLE."
Avatar: "People"
British: "Yes, I rule them"
Avatar: "Britannia"
British: "That is the name of this world"
Avatar, eyebrows furrowed in deep concentration: "HEALTH!!"
British: "Why, I am fine. Thank you very much. Hmm...you do have
  members in your party that need healing.  Would you like me to heal
Avatar: "And you think WE say totally obvious things??? YES!! HEAL THEM!!"
British: "An Nox. It is done, they are healed"
Shamino: "Say, that was fun. I think I saw an alligator back in the swamp.
   Can I go kill it?  I promise I'll use this glass sword so I won't
   accidentally kill Iolo again"
Without waiting for an answer, Shamino races off back into the swamp. The sound
of glass shattering is heard, and a green-faced Shamino comes back into
Avatar: "Health...yes..heal him again"
Iolo: "Avatar, look...the moongate has arrived".
The Avatar, in the lead steps through.  Just as he leaves, British says
something about hoping Mariah remembered to take into account relativistic
speeds into account when calibrating the moongates.
Last words heard by the Avatar: "WHAT?!?!"

The Avatar feels his body disassociate and travel in every single direction

The Avatar wakes up, alone, in a cold and dark place.
Avatar: "It is dark"
He searches through his packs, finds some ash and intones "In Lor"
A brilliant glow of light surrounds him, revealing a cave entrance in
front of him. Somehow, it looks familiar, but different somehow. He could
not escape this nagging feeling.
Avatar: "I have a bad feeling about this"
Without more said, he enters the cave.  The cave mouth seals itself shut by an
unseen force behind him. His In Lor spell suddenly transforms itself on its own
accord, apparently, which is strange, because this is not the sort of thing
that In Lor spells are prone to do.
After a fashion, the Avatar sees a glowing sign written in runic.
"Drats...forgot runic when I learned Ophidian"
The sign transforms itself again, this time into Ophidian.
It read. "You have been diverted"
After a few seconds, it changed again into "Be afraid, Avatar"
After a few more seconds, the light vanished.
The Avatar felt his way down the main hallway, through some twists and
turns which opened up into an incredible huge room.
Suddenly, he found himself face to face with a gigantic purple blob.
Avatar: "Who, er...what are you?"
Purple bloby thing: "What, you don't remember? Well, how about this?"
The purple blob was replaced by a giant spider.
Avatar: "A spider. so what?"
Spider: "How about this then?"
Avatar: "a bat. big deal. So what?"
Bat: "So what?! SO WHAT?? How can you not remember someone you killed
   in cold blood?  Here I was, minding my own business in this tower
   of some sort with my brothers.  You open the door and slaughter my
   brothers before killing me. And all you have to say about it is SO WHAT?"
Avatar: "Er, I thought you were evil. You were in Skara Brae during the
   Shadowlord occupation. I assumed you were evil, and you were in my way,
   and my companions heard the combat music and got a little carried away"
Bat: "Yes, your companions. They killed my brothers and sisters. But you
   killed me"
Avatar: "Sorry. didn't mean to, honest"
Bat transforms into a man
Man: "Then why did you kill me a few hours ago in Cove?"
A look of recognition comes over the Avatar: "You're the Keeper of
   the Flame of Love, aren't you?"
Keeper: "Was, yes.  Until I saw this bright gold thing descend towards me.
   The last words I heard were yours. If my memory does not mistake me,
   the words were, and I quote, 'Please, allow me...An Hur'. You made
   the balloon crash land on me, and kill me. WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST ME??"
Avatar: "Nothing, honest"
Keeper: "Then why do you keep killing me?"
Avatar: "Simple accident, really. I only kill when it is virtuous to do so.
   I am the Avatar, after all."
Keeper: "So you say. But after a while, of being killed again and again,
   I couldn't help but notice it was the SAME person killing me, over and
   over again. Kind of hard to notice, hmm??"
Avatar: "Ok. Name THREE other innocent things you've been that I killed"
Keeper: "THREE? That's easy.  You were on the planet Talorus, a nice, simple
   little world. I was a Taloriod of some import there. I was *the*
   Bliy Skup Ductosnore. You showed up, and MURDERED me!!  Then I reappeared
   as a simple court jester a long time ago. Chuckles was my name. You
   came and killed me for a key. A stupid stinkin' key!!"
Avatar: "I said INNOCENT. I'm sorry, but Chuckles DESERVED to die"
Keeper: "Hmph. Ok. You can't beat this one. Do you remember me?"
The Keeper transforms into a large man-sized cat.
Avatar: "Err...no, I can't say I've ever met that before"
Cat: "Let me explain. I was flying through hyperspace to rendevous with my
   fleet, when out of nowhere another ship appears -- YOUR SHIP -- and shoots
   me. I can't imagine why. I never did anything to your kind before.
   Anyway, I crash land on this planet, Britannia of all places, and I
   barely survice. This farmer comes rushing out at me waving a pitchfork
   and yells that he's going to kill me in YOUR name.  I mean, first you
   shoot down my ship, then local farmers rise up to kill innocent Kilrathi
   in YOUR name.  What gives?"
Avatar: "Ok...thats two. Name another"
Kilrathi: "OK. I was a young lad living in the ancient land called Sosaria.
   I believe you are familiar with the area? Anyway, I was very interested
   in magic, and soon I became so powerful that I figured out how to
   solve all of humanity's problems.  The solution was to go back in time
   and use a special magical gem that would have put softness and
   love into all of mankind's hearts. But before I got a chance, YOU show
   up and kill me." Kilrathi transforms himself again.
Avatar: "Mondain!!  But you were the first of the Triad of Evil!!"
Mondain: "says who?"
Avatar: "Says history. You murdered your own father!"
Mondain: "No I didn't. That was my twin brother. I was so shocked at what he
   did, that further prompted me to go back in time and set things right.
   History just recorded it wrong".
Avatar: "Well, then, I do apologize"
Mondain: "Apoplogy NOT accepted. You have been a thorn in my side Avatar for
   far too long. After that,  I decided I would devote my entire afterlives
   in killing you.  My next attempt was Minax, and then Exodus"
The Avatar yawns.
Mondain: "After that did not work, the hate grew within me. I became
   Astaroth -- Shadowlord of Hatred. How I wanted to kill you. When you
   called out my name at last, I knew I had you.  Then you killed me AGAIN!!
   Finally, I realized I had to be a being of such superior power, that none
   could oppose me". Mondain transforms himself into a well muscled red man.
Avatar gasps: "You're the Guardian!!"
Guardian: "I was. Until you defeated me time and time again.  Damn you
   Avatar...Damn you!! But your defeat over me inside the Void was nothing,
   I repeat, NOTHING of the scope of when you defeated me on the Isle of
   Fear." The Guardian transforms himself into a very nasty superintelligent
   shade of the color black.
Black Shade: "For this, you shall repay"
Avatar: "But, but, I've never met you!!"
Black Shade: "Of course you have. It was the day after that big 1 year
   anniversary celebration of defeating the Guardian"
Avatar: "But, that's tomorrow"
Black Shade: "Tomorrow? Tomorrow? That's impossible.  I brought you back
   TOO EARLY!!!! No matter, I shall kill you anyway."
Avatar: "Its times like this, when I'm about to be killed by a superintelligent
   shade of the color black, that I wish I listened to what my Scintullus
   Academy professor told me"
Black Shade: "And what would that be?"
Avatar: "I don't know, I didn't listen!!"
Black Shade: "Well, prepare to die."  The Black Shade pulls out a detonator
   and places it near a until-now hidden pile of diapers. "Now you will
   die a thousand deaths worse than what I went through, and justice will
   be served"
Avatar: "Oh shoot....What's that spell again. Kal Xen Corp? In Xen Corp?
   Wisps, where are you when I need you?  Aw, shucks....In Sanct Hur!!!"
The Avatar dematerializes, and rematerializes just outside the building.
Almost immediately afterwards, an excruciating reeking smell is smelled.
Avatar: "Whew, that was close"
The Avatar pulls out his Orb, and tosses it two spaces forward, and walks
through, appearing in Lord British's throne room.
British: "There you are. I feared the worst! Can I get you anything? We
   brought you back some leftovers from the Restaurent at the End of the Void.
   Dupre ordered you a Vorz-on-a-stick."
Avatar: "No thanks, I'll think I'll go to sleep now"
British "Very well.  Will you be helping us paint tomorrow?"
Avatar: "Sure. Wake me up in 10 hours"

The next day, the Avatar is awoken, and they trey travel via Heart of Gold
to some remote places to assist in repainting damaged areas from all the
past Ultimas.

They stop by some island they have never seen before, quite amazed that
there is a circle of stones a la Stonehenge here.  But the stones are not
the pure white as before, but a haunting shade of black.
British: "Well, lets paint these white, I guess and move on"

Suddenly, a black gate opens in the circle of stones. A superintelligent
shade of the color black appears and jeers them: "Now Avatar, you will die.
I have made it back to Britannia, more powerful than the Guardian ever was"
The shade draws near.

The Avatar, armed only with a paintbrush, attacks.  He gets white paint
all over the black shade.

Shade: "No, Avatar, you can not do that.  DAMN YOU AVATAR...DAMN YOU!!!!"

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.....

Have we seen the last of this mysterious foe?
Will the Avatar eat the Vorz-on-a-stick?

Find out the answers to these and other important questions in Episode 2...

Detherk Dragon

And now the stunning conlusion (so far) to...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void (part II)


On the unfashionable end of the Void lies a small, unregarded blue-green
planet named Britannia.  The people who lived here were so amazingly
primitive that they still thought that jesters were actually funny.  These
people on the whole, were also very unhappy, and they attempted to make
themselves happier mostly by moving bits of brightly colored metal around.
This is very odd, since it was not the brightly colored pieces of metal that
were unhappy.

One day, a man woke up and figured out how to make the world a happier place.
All he had to do was travel back in time and perform a simple task. However,
before he could finish he was killed by a stranger from another land on a
terrible stupid Thursday.

This is not the story of the terrible stupid Thursday, nor is it the story
of the stranger from another land.  These stories have been told before.
This IS the story, however, of some of the consequences of these actions.
This story begins very simpily.  It begins with a hut.


Iolo woke up slowly with a pounding headache.  Dupre and Shamino, nearby
watch him slowly wake up with sympathy.

Dupre: "You know Iolo, you're not 20 years old anymore.  You shouldn't have
   drunk all that ale last night."
Iolo: "Whaaa?"
Shamino: "Here, the Avatar left an An Nox potion with me. This should sober
   you up." (He pours a vile looking liquid down Iolo's throat)
Iolo, spitting it all out: "What in the HELL was that? That was no An Nox
   potion you moron!! An Nox potions are YELLOW!!!  This one is GREEN!!"
Shamino: "Oh. I knew that.  But on the bright side, you are quite sober now."
Iolo: "Yeah, no thanks to you."

A faint rumbling noise is heard.

Dupre: "That reminds me....why were you drinking so much last night anyway?"
Iolo: "It was about those stupid, uh, something or other I was telling you
   about last night"
Dupre: "Right. You know, I'm not that young anymore either, I can't remember.
   I just remember it had something to do with the color yellow"
Iolo, contemplating: "Yellow..."

The rumbling noise grows louder.

Shamino: "I thought you moved away from Britain into Yew to be able to live
   in piece and quiet."
Iolo: "I DID!! But I tell you, its those stupid..um..err...YELLOW things I
   was telling you about. Shamino, surely you remember!"
Shamino: "Yellow things...yellow things....Something about Moonglow"
Dupre: "Or was it Minoc?"
Shamino: "MINOC!! Thats it, its coming back. I think it was a joint effort
   between Minoc and Moonglow."

The rumbling is loud enough to begin shaking the house.

Iolo: "Well, I for one don't like EITHER of the cities.  Bunch of idiots if
   you ask me."
Dupre, shouting: "WHAT??? I can't hear you over the DAMN NOISE!!"
Shamino, shouting: "WHY DON'T WE JUST LOOK OUTSIDE??"

Shamino opens a curtain to reveal a huge yellow contraption of some sort
advancing on the lawn.  Several mages and tinkers are in procession.

Iolo: "I remember what it is now!! Those silly idiots want to..."

5 seconds later, Iolo is lying in front of his hut.

The foreman, neither a mage nor a tinker, but a bureaucrat halts the
machine and advances towards Iolo.

Foreman: "Say...you need to move out the way so we can knock your hut down"
Iolo: "You are NOT knocking my hut down"
Foreman: "But we've built this rather neat hut-knocker. The mages and tinkers
   joined up to make some sort of VAS FLAM HURy thingy or other. They need
   you to get out the way so they can turn it on and vaporize your house"
Iolo: "VAS FLAM HUR??? That will take half the forest of Yew with it!!"
Foreman, eyes brightening: "It will? Gee, that will sure save a lot of time"
Dupre: "I don't understand. Why do you need to knock his hut down?"
Foreman: "We need to build a new bypass from Lord British's castle to
   Empath Abbey, and your hut is right in the way"
Iolo: "I don't understand why we need bypasses anyway.  Have you ever heard
   of MOONGATES???"
Foreman: "Well, ever since that Guardian incident, people are a little scared
   of using them, you know?  (he lowers his voice) Rumor has it that the
   Avatar tried using one recently and got sucked into Dungeon Despise. I
   don't know about you, but people are really scared of them. And you
   know, bypasses have to be built"
Iolo: "Then build your bypass AROUND my hut"
Foreman: "Err...no can do. Your hut is a planetary landmark. People want
   to be able to say that they drove their horse and carriage across it.
   Besides, you'll like it when its done"
Iolo: "You can't do this!! I just found out about this YESTERDAY!!!"
Foreman: "The plans have been available for six months. We even notified
   one of the residents here six months ago when we decided to knock it
Iolo: "One of the residents?? I don't understand.  I'm the ONLY resident here,
   except of course..."

Smith the Horse comes trotting up to see what the commotion is all about.
Upon seeing the yellow VAS FLAM HUR machine, a look of recognition comes
over his face.

Smith: "Oh, Iolo, by the way...did I ever mention to you that they were
   going to knock your hut down?"
Iolo: "Why you little...I should have you turned into glue for this!!"
Dupre, facing the foreman: "Let me get this straight?  You told a horse??"
Foreman: "Well, this is obviously no ordinary horse."
Smith: "Say...Iolo, we're out of hay.  Could you please go get some more for
   me.  And don't get that Britain stuff anymore.  I only like the hay from
   the High Steppes."

The mages, bored, start coming up with ideas on how to use the
machine even with Iolo blocking the hut.

Mage 1:"What if we recalibrate the field oscillators so the VAS FLAM blast
   will phase around them?"
Mage 2:"Naw...too risky. You would need pretty tight tolerances on the
   field coil, and you might start a chain reaction"
Mage 1:"COOL!! We could level the entire forest in a few seconds and go
   home early"
Mage 2:"Umm...the chain reaction would most likely take us with it"
Mage 1:"Oh"

A silver moongate appears suddenly, and the Avatar steps through.

Iolo: "AVATAR!!! Thank the Great Serpent you're here..."
Avatar: "Iolo...get up. We have a little bit of trouble"
Iolo: "I can't do that!! If I get up, they will blow up my hut!!"
Avatar: "Well can't they do that while you're gone?"
Iolo: "But I don't want them to!"
Avatar: "Ah.  So you're saying then, that they can't blow up your hut while
   you are lying there on the ground blocking them"
Iolo: "Exactly!"

The Avatar turns to the foreman, and says:

Avatar: "Can we assume for a moment, that Iolo will not move?"
Foreman: "Ummm..."
Avatar: "And therefore, you will not be able to blow up his hut..."
Foreman: "uhhh...ok"
Avatar: "Now, Iolo doesn't exactly have to lie there, per se, does he?"
Foreman: "No, I guess not"
Avatar: "But in the event he does get up and move, then..."
Foreman, excited: "...Then we get to blow up his hut!!"
Avatar: "But that won't happen, because of our assumptions"
Foreman, disapointed: "Oh"
Avatar: "Now, suppose you lie there instead...Then Iolo can get up and
   not worry about you blowing up his hut, am I right?"
Foreman, clearly confused: "I think so"
Avatar: "Good. Now why don't you switch places"

Iolo slowly gets up, watching the Foreman warily.  The Foreman, sulkingly
gets down and lies down in front of the yellow machine.

Avatar: "Iolo...get some supplies out of your hut.  We have a small problem
   we need to attend to"
Iolo: "Great....I have a bad feeling about this"

Iolo re-enters the hut to get some supplies.  He makes a few trips and
before long there is a large supply of food, weapons, and other assorted
stuff on the lawn.

Iolo places a few saddle bags over Smith.

Smith: "Hey...Pack horse I am not.  That's your job"
Iolo: "Welcome to the party"

The group finishes picking everything up.

Avatar: "Oh, before we go...we need to have lots of beer"
Iolo groans.
Dupre brightens.
Shamino: "Why?"
Avatar: "Silver moongates can be...unusual"


They hike back into Britain, and enter the pub.  The Avatar orders 2 beers

Barkeep: "No way. I know you are the Avatar and all, but this guy " (pointing
   to Dupre) "already has one hell of a bartap.  Pay up first"

The Avatar hands him 500 gp. "Keep the change"

Barkeep: "Wow..thanks!"
Avatar: "You've got 10 minutes to spend it. The world's about to end, you know"
Barkeep, trying to take this in stride, but failing miserably: "Aw. thats a
   shame.  And it was looking to be a really nice day too"

Avatar, facing the Companions: "Hurry up, and drink up"

There is an incredibly loud explosion to the north. A huge mushroom cloud
is seen rising through the window.

Iolo: "What was that?"
Avatar: "Oh, it was just the entire forest of Yew being vaporized"
Iolo: "Great Serpent!! MY HUT!!!!"

Iolo runs outside and stops next to Smith.
Smith, whistling: "Say...thats something you sure don't see everyday"

The Avatar, Dupre, and Shamino follow shortly.  The Avatar searches through
his pockets for something, and then freezes.

Dupre: "Avatar, what's wrong?  You don't look so good"
Avatar: "Say, by any chance have any of you seen an Orb of the Moons lying
   around.  You're not going to believe this, but I think I left mine back
   at home"
The Companions look around at each other and frown.
Dupre: "Just how did you get that first Orb anyways?"
Avatar: "Lord British was walking around one day, and he said it fell from
   the sky. Wait a sec...Iolo...quick, give me your towel!"
Iolo, confused, retrieves a towel from Smith's packs.
The Avatar starts waving the towel around in the air, and shortly afterwards,
a black object falls from the sky.  The Avatar picks it up with great relief,
and tosses it quickly.  A silver moongate appears.

Avatar: "Quickly...we only have seconds left".  With that, he runs in, and
   the rest follows.

At the precise instant the moongate shuts, a huge super VAS FLAM HUR fireball
descends towards the planet, totally obliterating Britannia.  Had there been
any survivors, (which there obviously weren't) they would have heard an evil
laugh following.


There is a rushing sensation, but no body with which to feel it.  The
Void turns itself inside out and vomits all over the Companions.

Shamino: "Oh please Iolo...Aim somewhere else.  That was disgusting."
Iolo slowly looks around, but doesn't see anything.  Then he opens his eyes,
and soon discovers that he still can't see anything.

Iolo: "It is dark."

By some cosmic coincidence, at that very precise moment, a rip in the Void
opens up and those words drift through the reaches of time and space.


Two generals slowly sit down on ornately carved chairs.  One is wearing a
uniform of blue, the other red.

Blue general (in a slirring voice): "So...here we meet at long last to
   end our hostilities and restore Balance to our world. Order cannot exist
   when there is war."

The Red general opens his mouth to respond, and the words: "It is dark"
drifts across the table.  By a curious coincidence, in the Ophidian language,
this is the vilest insult imaginable.  The General of Order declares that
they shall wage war on Chaos for all eternity and kill anyone and everyone
that stands in their way until not one follower of Chaos remains alive, then
storms out.

The Imbalance grows stronger...


Avatar: "In Lor."
And then there was light...

Shamino: "I don't understand how that towel helped..."
Avatar: "One day Lord British  was waving a towel in the air trying to
   fend off a pesky fly.  Towels can be very handy, you know.  Anyway, at
   that precise instant, the Orb of the Moons fell from the sky and landed
   at his feet."
Dupre: "How do you know all this? And what is this 'problem' you keep speaking
Avatar: "Well, you see, um...Britannia has just been destroyed by a cosmic
   VAS FLAM HUR fireball"
Smith: "I guess that means I can't get my hay from the High Steppes"
Avatar: "Uh..yeah. You could say that.  Anyway take a look at this Guide.
   Its called 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void'"

The Avatar tosses a small scroll to Dupre.  Dupre catches it, and opens it up.

Avatar: "The scroll is a magic scroll, kind of like the one the Guardian
   sent to Batlin that we intercepted.  Lots of useful information is found
   on there.  This scroll is published and regularly updated by the wisps."
Dupre: "Where are we right now?"
Avatar: "I managed to track down the Orb coordinates for the Wisp homeworld.
   If my calculations are correct, we are there."
Iolo: "How did you do this?"
Avatar: "Simple...I looked it up in the Guide."
Dupre: "How do you use it?"
Avatar: "Simply tell it what you want to know, and it will respond"
Dupre: "All right.  I know quite a bit about the Void...lets see what it
   knows.  Guide, tell me about the Void"
Guide: "The Void is a big place.  I mean, it is really, really big. It is
   so big in fact, its even infinite.  This leads to some rather interesting
   conclusions: First of all, we know that there can not be an infinite amount
   of matter in the Void, otherwise it would all be completely filled up.
   Therefore, there can only be a finite amount of matter in the Void.
   Its density is therefore zero. Any finite mass divided by infinite volume
   is zero.  With a zero density, we can then conclude that the amount of
   matter in the Void (which we already know must be finite) is zero."
Dupre: "So that's why it was so empty..."
Iolo: "Let me try.  Guide, what is a wisp, anyway?"
Guide: "A wisp is a hyperintelligent multidimensional projection of an
   entity known as 'Origin'"
Iolo: "So who is  'Origin'?"
Guide: "Origin is not a who, but a what.  They are an interdimensional
   congomlerate organization that has several functions. For example, one
   projection of Origin is called 'Programmers'. They are led by an entity
   known as 'Richard Garriot', and together this projection of 'Origin'
   creates worlds"
Shamino: "WHAT?? They like, create planets and stuff"
Guide: "Affirmative.  Examples include Britannia, Serpent Isle, and Pagan"
Avatar: "Hmmm...they may be able to help out with Britannia"
Iolo: "I thought you said Britannia was blown to bits"
Avatar: "Yes it was. But if Origin built it, they may be able to help fix it.
   Remember, we went through a silver moongate.  Those are also timegates.
   Guide, how do we find this 'Origin'?"
Guide: "Turn around."

They turn around, and right behind them stand three massive buildings, in
the shapes of a giant cube, sphere, and pyramid.

Iolo: "How peculiar"
Avatar: "Those buildings remind me of something, but I can't quite place it."

They walk inside the first building, the cubical one.  There is a lady behind
a desk.

Lady: "Can I help you?"
Avatar: "I would like to see a 'Richard Garriot', please"
Lady: "Do you have an appointment?"
Avatar: "Ummm...Yes. Yes, I do."
Lady: "And what is your name?"
Avatar: "I am called the Avatar"
Lady: "Hmmm....I don't see any appointments for anyone named 'Avatar'. Are
   you SURE you have an appointment?"
Avatar: "Of course. I can not tell a lie, I am the Avatar you know"
Iolo snorts.
Lady: "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

At that moment, a legion of soldiers all dressed in red storm in.

Lady: "Can I help you?"

The general spots the Avatar, yells a battle cry, and charges.  The Avatar
and Co. race down a corridor and up a flight of stairs.  The forces of Chaos

Avatar: "Smith...stop the troops!"

With that, the Avatar races off to find Richard.  Smith slowly turns around
and faces the stairway.

Chaos leader: "Outta my way, little pony"
Smith: "I beg your pardon?"
Chaos leader: "Get outta my way before we turn you into glue"
Smith: "Normally I would.  But I am here to stop you."
Chaos leader: "You? Stop us?  Go on!" (The Chaos troops start laughing)
Smith: "Yes. I have been ordered to stop you."
Chaos leader: "Err...how?"
Smith: "Try and guess"
Chaos leader: "Ok. You're going to trample us to death" (This provokes some
   laughter from the troops)
Smith: "No. Try again"
Chaos leader: "Err...You're a horse-magi and are going to cast a VAS FLAM HUR
   spell at us"  (The troops frown at this)
Smith: "No. But good guess."
Chaos leader: "Ummm, you've got a Firedoom staff strapped underneath you
   that we can't see?"
Smith: "Those are really quite nice, aren't they?"
Chaos leader, awed: "You've got one of those?"
Smith: "No, no, no...You're thinking along the wrong lines."
Chaos leader: "Oh, I know! You are really a shape shifter disguised as a
   horse and you are about to attack us with a death scythe!"
Smith: "No. You fail to take into consideration the basic relationship
   betweem horses and humans. What do you think I'm armed with?"
Chaos leader: "Something pretty damn powerful, I'd expect!"
Smith: "Expect, oh yes, you'd expect that wouldn't you.  I'll tell you what
   they armed me with:  NOTHING"
Chaos leader: "Nothing? Nothing at all?"
Smith: "Nope.  Not even a spiked horseshoe"
Chaos leader: "Aww..that really bites. That makes me so angry, I think I'll
   blow up this stairwell"

With that, he pulls out his own firedoom staff, and fires it upwards.  The
resulting explosion collapses the entire stairwell, sending the legion
downwards to their deaths.  Smith starts trotting off in search of the party,
 muttering to himself "What a bunch of idiots".

Meanwhile, the Avatar and party are running for their lives from some forces
of Order they ran into.

They rush into a room, and slam the door.  They turn around, and see a man
sitting behind a desk with a nameplate with the name "Richard Garriot"
engraved on it, probably because that was the name of the man sitting
behind the desk.

Richard: "Avatar, I've been expecting you..."
Avatar: "I know you from somewhere, don't I?  You look familiar, but I
   can't quite place it.  Anyway, we have a problem with Britannia.
   Say...that looks a lot like a map of Britannia on that computer
   you have there..."
Richard: "That is a map of Britannia.  Watch this..."  He taps a few buttons
   and the map folds into itself until it resembles a crinkled donut.
Avatar: "What is that?"
Richard: "Its called a torus. That is how Britannia looks from above. I
   designed Britannia, you know"

The sounds of steal clashing are heard outside in the hallway.

Avatar: "So its true...You really create worlds?"
Richard: "Yes.  My favorite part was the mountains" He stares off wistfully.
   "Anyway, what is the problem with Britannia?"
Avatar: "Its been blown up"

A few explosions are heard.

Richard: "I see. And if it blew up, and you live there, how are you still
Avatar: "Well, we escaped into a moongate just before."
Richard: "Ah"
Avatar: "I found out about the planned destruction when I was cleaning
   out some stuff I left behind with Frigi- ah, some girl I know on Serpent
   Isle. Anyway, when I was getting to her place I was walking through the
   void after going through the Serpent Gates. And I just happened to come
   across the plans. They were pretty wrinkled and tattered, it looks like
   someone accidentally dropped it there"

The sounds of people screaming and running are heard, followed shortly by
the sound of a horse trotting.

Richard: "Uh huh.  Well, let's see.  I think I am beginning to see the full
   picture.  This problem originated quite some time ago, as I recall. In
   fact, I think this is actually your fault."
Avatar: "MY FAULT??"
Richard: "Yes, yours.  Somebody was about to solve all of mankind's problems,
   and then you show up and murdered him. He's quite upset about that, you
Avatar: "Yes, I know...we've met recently"
Richard: "Well, to fix things you will have to go back in time"
Avatar: "You want me to prevent myself from killing him?"
Richard: "Oh dear, no. We don't want a paradox on our hands now, do we?"

More screams and running are heard, this time going the other way. The sound
of a horse neighing is heard afterwards.

Richard: "You must go back in time and travel to the Lands of Lord British.
   This land was later torn asunder from the rest of the world and became
   what you know today as Britannia - er - what used to be Britannia.
   The world was split by an entity with no name. It's single purpose is to
   try to kill you.  As you have seen for yourself, killing it is not
   sufficient.  It will simply be reincarnated into another being to try
   and kill you again. Likewise, killing you is equally futile.  You would
   simply be reincarnated and the battle between your two essences will
   continue for all time.  Recently, it split the world into pieces as an
   attempt to isolate Britannia and destroy it."
The Avatar interrupts: "He didn't do that recently...Britannia has been
  split for hundreds of years!"
Richard: "From YOUR perspective yes...but we are dealing with time travel
  here.  As I was saying, shortly after splitting the world, the entity
   it travelled forward through time and actually destroyed Britannia, thinking
   you were still on it.  Fortituously, you had discovered the plans in
   advance, and escaped."
Avatar: "Thats all very nice, but how do we prevent Britannia from being

Smith enters the room suddenly.

Smith: "I should think it obvious: Go back in time and prevent the
   sundering of lands.  Keep them as one.  Oh, by the way, the remaining forces
   of Order here are no longer a factor."
Richard: "You would do well to listen to Smith, Avatar.  That is a fine
   solution, but short term only.  You will still have to deal with the
Iolo breaks in: "Wait a second.  So 'ALL' we have to do, is prevent some
   strange entity from breaking up a planet, and THEN deal with an
   undefeatable foe"
Richard: "I never said it was undefeatable -- just immortal.  Like the Avatar."
Avatar: "I don't understand any of this"
Richard: "That is all I am permitted to tell you."
Avatar: "Who are you?  I mean who are you really?"
Richard smiles: "I am the Timelord.  Time is running out.  The Imbalance
   grows stronger.  If you do not succeed, all of creation will be destroyed.
   That is all I can say.  Now go."

With that, the Timelord waves a hand and a silver moongate appears.
The party enters.

The entity, unseen by all, but watching everything whispers to itself,
"All according to plan..."


The moongate opened up, and dumped the party into the plains near Lord
British's castle.

Avatar: "So lets see...we have to make sure that some super force quite
   upset with me won't split the planet, and then we have to stop him for
   good.  How do you think we should proceed?"
Smith: "I think I'll start by looking for the High Steppes -- their hay
   is quite good, you know"
Dupre: "That sounds as good a place as any.  Where are we right now,
   by the way?"
Shamino: "It looks like the Blood Plains.  Lord British's castle would be
   to the southwest, and the High Steppes to the north west.

They start off towards the High Steppes, Smith happily leading the way.

Iolo: "Hey Avatar, toss me the Guide. I'm getting kind of bored here."

Iolo gets the guide, and starts asking it various things.
Iolo: "Guide, how do we defeat the Entity?"
Guide: "Sorry...that information has been deleted."
Avatar: "Deleted!! By whom?
Guide: "This isn't your day, is it?  That information has also been
Dupre growls..."Well then Guide...can you tell us ANYTHING useful?"
Guide: "Oh yes, quite certainly.  I'll bet you didn't know that the hay from
   the High Steppes is actually quite a good source of protein."
Dupre: "I MEANT about our current quest."
Guide: "We are being followed."


The soldiers lay flat on their bellies, taking up what little protection
the Blood Plains offered.  Still, they had not been detected.  The general
considered the situation carefully.  The Forces of Chaos, he knew, were
quite interested in this party for some reason.  Why, he knew not.  No matter,
all we have to do is follow them.  Where they go, the Forces of Chaos will
surely be nearby.

And then victory will surely by ours.


The party finally reached the High Steppes by nightfall, and made camp.
Smith was delirously excited about the hay, and totally oblivious to the
danger lurking around them.

Everybody else, however was exhausted.  As they got closer and closer to
the Steppes, Smith started trotting faster and faster.  It took every ounce
of energy for the party to keep up.

They made camp.

Shamino: "Whats for supper? I'm starving."
Iolo: "Yeah, me too. I must eat now."
Dupre: "Hey...we never got to eat at that banquet Lord British had."
Smith: "Hay? Did somebody say hay?  Where?"
Avatar: "Well, Lord British did save me that Vorz-on-a-stick, but just
   looking at it cures my appetite."
Dupre: "Great? Where is it?"

It was unanimously voted upon that Smith would take first watch....He couldn't
sleep anyway.  The others rolled out their sleeping bags, and lay down,
looking up at the heavens.

Avatar: "Sure is great not seeing any comets tonight".
Dupre: "And look at the planets...They aren't aligned either"

A bright light suddenly fills the night sky, and then subsides somewhat.

Iolo: "Say...is that a supernova I see?  What does that signify?"
Shamino: "I'll probably be sorry for asking, but lets see...Guide,
   what the hell does a supernova mean?"
Guide: "Really incredibly Bad News with a capital B."
Avatar: "I guess that would mean Its here."
Shamino: "Oh."
Avatar: " Good night and rest well, so you will be ready for the perils
   of tomorrow."
Dupre: "Yeah -- pleasant dreams yourself."

Smith stood idly by, grazing dreamily on the grass.


The general looked one more time to make sure.  Yes. At last, they were
asleep.  He motioned to his troops, now was the time.  They stupidly left
no guard.  Only the horse remained awake, but it would surely flee at the
first sign of trouble.  Even if he didn't, there was nothing a simple horse
could do to warn them.

The Forces of Chaos quickly surrounded the camp.  They charged.

Smith turned to see the attackers moments before they skewered the Avatar.
Smith neighed in a mocking tone.

The general was shocked that no blood was drawn. His Fire sword went straight
through the Avatar without so much as a drop of blood spilled.  He heard
the horse mock him.  All right, that's it.

He let loose a couple of bolts from his Firedoom staff and covered the
camp with deadly fire.  After the smoke cleared, nothing had changed.
Everybody was still there, sound asleep, except for that confounded horse,
who he was sure was laughing at him in his own neighing way.

The horse turned to him, and then spoke outloud quite surprisingly: "You
really must try this hay."  Then he vanished along with the rest of the
camp into thin air.

Behind him, he heard battle cries.  The Forces of Order had them surrounded.
A trick!  With a battle cry of his own, he joined the ensuing battle.

The Imbalance grows stronger.


Iolo: "Wow...that Guide is something after all.  That was a pretty neat
   idea, to make ourselves invisible, and create decoy illusions for them
   to follow."
Smith: "You'd think that we could have stayed a little bit longer to get
   some hay..."
Avatar: "Maybe later...but 'It' is here, somewhere. I don't understand how
   the Forces of Chaos and Order fit into all this, but I'd bet Lord
   British is involved in some way."

After a few more hours of travelling, they finally make it to the Castle
of Lord British.  They went inside, to be greeted by a welcoming committee
comprised of the Entity and hundreds of Chaos soldiers.

Entity: "Avatar, how nice of you to join us...its a shame I missed you
   on Britannia. I was so hoping to give you a...warm visit."
Avatar: "How did you know I was coming here?  What have you done with Lord
Entity: "Oh, Lord British is engaged right now with other...'pressing'
   matters."  It laughs evilly.  "As for how I knew you would be coming,
   it wasn't that hard to figure out.  I do have to congratulate you
   though on outwitting my servants of Chaos.  We would like nothing more
   than to sunder this land -- that would serve Chaos too, hmmm?"
Avatar: "You don't have to do that now -- you have me. Destroying Britannia
   in the future will no longer serve you, since you know I will not be there"
Entity: "Didn't you listen to anything the Timelord told you?  That is my
   past. It is happening even as we speak, by the other me in this era.
   Now, I can finally deal with you once and for all."
Avatar: "If you really did hear everything the Timelord said, then you must
   also realize you can't kill me, as I can not kill you.  We are immortal.
   Although you may kill my flesh, I will be reborn as you have many times
Entity: "Sounds like fun to me.  And then I can kill you again. And again.
   I can locate you in each afterlife before you are powerful enough to
   oppose me, and then 'accidentally' squash you, land a balloon made of
   solid gold on you, hack you to lots of tiny--"
Avatar: "I get the idea."
Iolo: "I *knew* I should have stayed in bed..."
Avatar: "What about the Imbalance?  If you let this continue, you will destroy
   the entire Void!"
Entity: "Void, shmoid. As long as I have you, I don't care what else

A slight tremor is felt.

Entity: "Ahh, the sundering has begun, I see.  You have lost Avatar, and
   I have won.  How shall I kill you first?  I look forward to our
   eternity together..."
Dupre: "Avatar, it has been a pleasure knowing you. We will die together
   with honor."
Iolo: "Your compassion will be the heart of songs of all the bards to come.
   That is, it would be if any of us would live to tell about it."
Shamino: "Have solace in the fact that your spirit will still live on forever.
   If not in this form, then in another. The battle may be lost, but the war
   is still to be won."
Avatar: "Long live the Virtues!"

The tremor grows stronger.

Smith: "I REALLY wish I could have had some High Steppian hay first".
Iolo grabs the Orb of the Moons and shouts: "You want some damn hay, go
  and get some yourself!"  With that, he tosses the Orb towards Smith.

Time slows down.  The Orb starts a graceful arc in the air.

Entity: "NO!!! Soldiers -- don't let them escape through the Gate!"

The soldiers, formerly at attention, start converging on the party.  The
Orb continues its descent.

Avatar: "Run to the Orb!"

The Orb hits the ground, and up springs a moongate. Smith is almost upon
the open gate, when soldiers burst forth from the OTHER side of the gate...
Soldiers of Order.

Order General: "Behold our enemies -- attack!!!"

Avatar: "Run for it!"

They run for cover towards the dungeons. As they approach, they come across
a jester yelling "I've got the key".  When the jester sees the Avatar
approaching, his grin turns into a frown.

Chuckles: "No...not YOU again!!"

The Avatar skewers him and grabs his key.  Inside the dungeons, they find
Lord British tied up and underneath a slowly increasing load of sand.

British: "Help!"

The group quickly unties him, and gets him out of the sand.  The rumbling
grows even louder.

Iolo: "Avatar, quick! We must do something to stop the Entity!"
Avatar: "The soldiers have him occupied right now."
Iolo: "No, no no...the OTHER one.  The one tearing this world apart. If he
   finishes, then the Britannia in the future will be destroyed!"
British: "What?  Somebody is ripping this world apart?"
Avatar: "Its a long story, but to summarize: We've got an immortal madman
   trying to sunder the world into pieces, destroy the Void, and KILL ME!!"
British: "Why am I always the last one to know about these things? Well, I
   know a secret exit not far from here."

They travel deeper into the dungeons, and press a hidden panel on a wall.
A segment of the wall rotates, and they run through.  After following some
more twisty passages, they finally make it to daylight.

British: "What now?"
Avatar: "If I knew where the other Entity was - the one sundering the world,
   we could try to stop him."
Iolo: "Think...If you were a crazy immortal bent on sundering a world,
   where would you operate from?"
Shamino: "I would go to a place I could get a good view of it from..."

Everybody looks at Shamino.

Shamino: "...If I were a crazy immortal, which, I'm not"
British: "He does have a point.  The Serpent Spine is in the center of
   this land.  It is also the tallest point."

Sounds of cursing are heard behind them.

British: "Who was the last one through the secret door?"
Shamino: "I guess that would be me"
Avatar: "You DID remember to close it, DIDN'T you?"
Shamino: "Ahh..I think it slipped my mind"
Dupre: "Why you..."
Avatar: "We have no time for this.  Where's my Orb?  Oh, Iolo threw it.
   Where's my towel?"

The Avatar finds a towel, and waves it in the air.  Shortly afterwards, an
Orb falls down from the sky.

British: "Say...thats some trick.  I will have to remember that."

The Avatar picks up the Orb, concentrates briefly, and throws it.

The Entity rushes them: "No...Avatar, you can NOT get away from me this
The party escapes into the moongate moments before the Entity is upon them.


The moongate opens up upon a rocky plateau, overlooking the Lands of Lord
British, and directly behind the Entity sundering the world. There is
an arrangement of Orbs with their combined power radiating outwards towards
the far reaches of the land.  The forces are causing the land to buckle, and
twist into itself in a peculiar fashion.

The Avatar gasps: "You're collapsing this land into a torus!"
Entity: "What are you doing here?"
Avatar: "You know, you're going to start a really long thread by making a torus
   out of Britannia!"
Entity: "Well, you're too late to stop me. These Orbs are projecting the edges
   of this land into a toroidal pocket dimension, where they will be trapped
   for all eternity.  And...this world will be sundered."

Another moongate opens up, behind the Avatar.  The future Entity steps out.
The land buckles some more.  The land darkens as the sun is obscured.

F. Entity: "Well, well, well.  You have run out of places to hide.  You
   have no room to escape, no room for another moongate.  You can not even
   cast a spell without one of us interrupting you."

The Entity takes a step towards the Avatar, as two more moongates open
up -- revealing the Chaos General at the future Entity's side, and the
Order General facing him.

The sun's light vanishes completely.
F. Entity: "It is dark."

The two Generals direct their attention towards the future Entity and
his vile insult.

Chaos General: "I will not serve one who slanders me so. I will not stand
   and fight by your side! How DARE you say that to me."
Order General: "Of all the low things a complete stranger may say -- for
   that you must die!"

Together, they rush the future Entity and skewer him, with the past one
looking on mortified.

Avatar: "Hey, it wasn't even me this time."

The two Generals, acting together, finish the deed by shoving the Entity off
the mountaintop.  As the past Entity is transfixed watching his own future
fate, the Avatar seizes the moment, and pushes him off the mountaintop as well.
In a last desperate attempt, the past Entity grabs hold of the Avatar by his
towel, which he is wearing.

Entity: "If I fall -- you fall with me"
Avatar: "I've been waiting to say this too you for a long time --
    VAS FLAM POR!!!!"

A fireball erupts, destroying the towel, frying the Entity, leaving him
to fall with the future Entity. The two Entities never reach the bottom
though -- they are captured by the rays emanating from the Orbs and sent
to the pocket dimension, where they will spend all eternity.

The Avatar takes his own Orb, and throws it down at the Orb collection on
the ground.  When the new moongate opens, the Orb fields combine destructively
and send the entire set into some sort of cosmic infinite loop -- each Orb
is falling through the moongate created by the other Orb.

The buckling land unwinds and settles down with a huge resounding thud.
The entire word is quiet for several moments.

Finally, the Order General addresses the Chaos General:
Order General: "You have acted in a logical fashion.  It is unwise for
   us to continue these hostilities."
Chaos General: "Think nothing of it.  I loved deposing of that insulting
   jerk.  Although I always am quite enthusiastic about a good battle, I
   only enjoy fighting one's enemies.  You are not my enemy"

The Chaos General tosses his Orb, and together the two Generals return to
their own world.  Balance has been restored.

British: "Will somebody tell me what the hell just happened?"

Avatar: "Lets go home...Where's my Orb?"
Iolo: "You just annihilated it."
Avatar: "DOH!!  Where's my towel?"
Dupre: "You just toasted it dude"
Avatar: "DOH!!"


They start hiking down the mountain.

Avatar:  "Now if we could only figure out how to get back home."
British: "You're from the future, right?  I know someone that may be able
   to help.  Go to the Castle of the Lost King.  Just follow the shoreline.
   Can't miss it."
Avatar: "Thanks."

Iolo: "Hey Avatar -- take a look at this!"
Everybody crowds around Iolo, who is pointing towards the mountain face.
The name "Richard Garriot" is carved on the mountain face.
British looks more and more confused.
British: "I don't fully understand everything that happened here today, but
   I suppose one day I will."

The party eventually makes it down the mountain.

Avatar: "Goodbye for now, British"
British: Goodbye, stranger.  Somehow I suspect we wil meet again."


The party walks down the coastline, looking for the castle.
Iolo: "I wonder who this 'Lost King' is, and why he hasn't found himself"
Shamino: "I don't know, kind of strange"
Avatar: "Maybe he means...No...it couldn't be THAT Lost King, could it?"
Iolo: "Who?"
Avatar: "No -- its definitely not THAT King"

They turn the corner, and come across the Castle of the Lost King.  Lord
British was right -- it was not a castle you'd be likely to miss.
The castle was decorated in pink.  Music is heard from inside.
They knock at the door, and a man wearing a white outfit and sunglasses,
carrying a guitar answers.

Avatar, gasping: "It IS you....I had always thought aliens had abducted you
   or something."
Iolo: "Avatar, who is this man?"
Smith: "You dweeb -- this is Elvis.  You REALLY are old."
Elvis: "Actually I was out walking one day when a pesky fly bit me. I
   waved it off with a towel I just happened to be carrying with me, and
   a funny thing happend.  This rock fell from the sky. Well, I picked it
   up and looked at it.  Nothin' too special, so I tossed it back. You can
   imagine my surprise when a doorway appeared.  Well, I went through it,
   and here I am. I have no need for the rock anymore, would you like it?"

The Avatar graciously accepts it, and tosses it properly to get a silver
moongate.  They step through, and arrive in front of Iolo's hut.


A huge lumbering yellow machine is advancing towards the hut. A mage
controlling it presses a button, and the machine starts a low hum...

Iolo yells: "NOOOO!!!"

The Avatar, struck by sudden inspiration completes the vocalization by
shouting "DIIIIIIIIII!!"

The laws of magic obey the spoken spell: "VAS NUDI", and the entire
brigade of demolishers suddenly and quite unexpectedly find themselves
stark naked.

The Avatar advances more calmly, and says "I'm the Avatar -- get this hell
off this land.  If you have a problem, take it up with my friend British"

The demolishers quickly agree and disperse.

Iolo: "Whew -- I think I need a drink."
Dupre: "Ohhh nooo you don't. You remember last night, don't you?  Err, or
   was it the night before that.  Damn, I hate time travel!"
Shamino: "Ahhh..the peaceful forest once again. I think I will do a little
   travelling.  Its been a while."
Smith: "Say -- if you happen to stop by the High Steppes..."

(If looks could kill)

THE END (or is it?)

Detherk Dragon.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void   (part III)


In the beginning the Void was created.  This has made a lot of people
very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.  Throughout the
great history of the Void, several people eventually figured out a way to
make things better.  All that had to be done to solve all mankind's (and
making sure we are PC about this, womankind's, insect-kind's, slime-kind's,
Vorz-kind's, and I suppose even jester-kind's) problems would be to
go back in time to the beginning of the Void and cast Armageddon. These
people, (un?)fortunately, had forgotten to take into account that there was
no life at all in the Void at the dawn of time except their own, which
promptly ended a few seconds later after the completion of the spell.  Thus,
history remained unchanged, with the obvious exception that these bitter
people were now part of it.

The subatomic mist of these people proceeded to spread across the infinite
vastness of the Void as time began.


Iolo woke up slowly with a pounding headache.  Dupre and Shamino, nearby
watch him slowly wake up with sympathy.

Dupre: "You know Iolo, you're not 20 years old anymore.  You shouldn't have
   drunk all that ale last night."
Iolo: "Whaaa?"
Shamino: "Here, the Avatar left an An Nox potion with me.  This should sober
   you up. (He pours a vile looking liquid down Iolo's throat)
Iolo, spitting it all out: "What in the HELL was that? That was no An Nox
   potion you moron!! An Nox potions are YELLOW!!!  This one is GREEN!!"
Shamino: "Oh. I knew that.  But on the bright side, you are quite sober now."
Iolo: "Yeah, no thanks to you."

Smith suddenly walks in.

Smith: "Iolo...quick! I almost forgot to tell you -- they're going to knock
   your hut down!"
Iolo: "Smith, you good for nothing dolt!  You could have told me that little
   bit of news YESTERDAY!"
Dupre: "Err, he did."
Iolo: "Damn I hate time travel.  I mean the day before THAT."
Shamino: "So what were you doing drinking all that ale last night anyway?"
Iolo: "I, uh..., didn't have anything else better to do"
Dupre: "You know, what we need is a quest.  Something honourable to do..."
Shamino: "We could go clear some dungeons"
Iolo: "Nope. We did that last week. There are no monsters left."
Shamino: "We could, uh...go kill Chuckles again."
Dupre: "No...British got really mad at us that last time."
Iolo: "Maybe the Avatar would have some ideas...He must be getting kind of
   bored as well."

Meanwhile, at Lord British's castle...

British: "Avatar, I'm afraid we have a major crisis on our hands."
Avatar, dryly: "How unusual.  What is it this time? Another crazy person
   trying to destroy the Void?  Or perhaps just conquer Brittannia?"
British: "No.  This is much more serious."

Lord British pulls out the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void.

British: "This is the problem."
Avatar: "The Guide?  But its a wholly remarkable book, how could it be a
   problem?  It can tell you how to see the marvels of the Void for
   53 gold pieces a day."
British: "Well, for one thing, its outselling the Encyclopedia Brittanica."

At this point, it may be useful to point out a few of the differences between
the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Void, and the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

On the subject of beer, the Encyclopedia Brittanica gives addresses for some
of the finer taverns across Britannia, and warns you that riding a horse
while intoxicated is both dangerous and also illegal.

The Hitchhiker's Guide, however, gives you the cheat coordinates for all the
taverns in the known Void, suggestions for drinks that would get you so
intoxicated you would not be able to even see a horse, much less mount one
or ride it, and ways to earn the money to buy all these drinks by various
methods of cheating at local casinos.  It also gives the recipe for the
famous Pan-Voidic Gargoyle-Blaster, and which bars do a good job of mixing
one. (This drink is naturally outlawed on Brittannia.)

Suffice it to say, the Hitchhiker's Guide to Brittannia sells a lot better
than the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Avatar: "So its outselling the Encyclopedia...So what?"
British: "Well, if you haven't noticed -- the Guide isn't quite as, how
   shall I say this, virtuous as the Encyclopedia.  Have you ever heard
   of Oolon Colluphid?"
Avatar: "Umm..no, sorry.  Can't say I have."
British: "Guide, tell me about Oolon Colluphid."
Guide: "Oolon Colluphid is a froody author who sure knows where his towel is.
   His works include 'Where the Avatar Went Wrong', 'Some of the Avatar's
   Greatest Mistakes', and 'Who is this Avatar Person Anyway'"
British: "So the problem is...people are reading this stuff.  They are
   leaving the virtues because they find them boring. After having reached
   the Age of Englightenment we will now fall back into the Age of Darkness
   because people will forget the virtues."
Avatar: "I see...what should I do?"
British: "How should I know? You're the Avatar -- you think of something.
   Tis just an idea, but why don't you ask somebody about the virtues and
   find out why they are leaving them.  Here comes somebody -- ask him"

The owner of the footsteps turns around the corner and comes into view.

Avatar, groaning: "Chuckles...its you"
Chuckles: "Thou just broke the Rule!!"
Avatar: "Why you little -- That's it. I've had all I can take, even
   for an avatar like myself.  VAS..."
Chuckles: "Hey Lord Brit. Can you stop him this time bef..um, hmm"
Avatar: "...FLAM..."
Chuckles: "now, so he can't cast that fire...um, ball of f"
Avatar: "...POR"

Chuckles bursts into flame before he is able to complete his request.

British: "THANK YOU!! I was about to kill him myself, but it would have looked
   bad if the king starts killing his own jester.  You know, it was just
   yesterday he came to me to deliver a message, and it took him a half
   hour to tell me 'Some crazy idiots are trying to blow up Iolo's hut and
   take half of Yew with it'.  He got stuck on the name 'Iolo' and tried
   to get me to understand by playing charades."

Avatar: "Well, I will go gather up my friends.  Maybe they can help figure
   this out."


Dupre: "I wish the Avatar were here -- surely he would know something,
   *anything* we could do."

A moongate appears, and out walks the Avatar.

Smith: "Ah, speak, and the dev - I mean - the Avatar shall appear."
Iolo: "Hey, we were just talking about you."

The Avatar explains the problem of people deserting the virtues.

Iolo: "Hmm...You know, that could explain my mood recently.  I think its just
   that the Virtues are well, kind of boring.  They tell you how to lead
   your life, but they don't give you any sense of importance, of where
   your place in the Void is, and all that."
Avatar: "Naturally.  We must strive to be humble, for pride shall surely
   destroy us, just as it destroyed Old Magincia."
Iolo: "Thats not what I meant. I mean...what are the answers to the bigger
   questions in life..."
Dupre: "..the Void..."
Shamino: "..and, uh...everything?"
Avatar: "Lets find out.  Guide, what is the answer to Life, the Void, and
Guide: "You don't want to know the answer."
Avatar: "Yes. I am sure I do."
Guide: "I have been programmed to tell you that you REALLY don't want to know
   the answer, but since you insist, the only thing else I can tell you is
   that the answer has been deleted from my memory banks, because I have
   been programmed so that I won't want to know the answer either."
Avatar: "So there is an answer?   Hmm...who would know?"
Guide: "Well, people programmed me...."
Iolo: "Origin! Of course! Maybe they know the Answer!"

The Avatar tosses his Orb of the Moons, and a silver moongate appears.

Avatar: "What are we waiting for? Lets go."


The party stepped out of the moongate in front of three rather large
buildings, in the shapes of a cube, sphere, and pyramid.

Shamino: "There are three buildings, where should we start?"
Avatar: "Why don't we split up?  I'll take the cube, Iolo and Smith can
   take the sphere, and Dupre and Shamino can take the pyramid."
Smith: "You mean I have to go with this senile idi..."
Iolo, glancing sharply at Smith: "Watch what you say, or I will switch back
   to Britain hay."
Smith: "I mean, I can't wait.  This should be *loads* of fun."

Iolo glances at the spherical building, noting carefully the abundant lack
of structural support on the spherical building.  The Avatar notices Iolo's

Avatar: "Don't worry Iolo -- I'm sure the building is quite safe."
Iolo: "Ahh...this is obviously some strange usage of the word 'safe' I wasn't
   previously aware of"
Avatar: "If you want answers...you need to check out that building."
Rectuantly, Iolo agrees.

The party splits up and goes their separate ways.


Iolo and Smith approach the spherical building cautiously.  With great
hesitation, the duo eventually enters.

Inside, a secretary greets them.

Secretary: "Hello...Can I help you?"
Iolo: "Yes, we are looking for the Answer to Life, the Void, and Everything."
Secretary, hesitating: "We? You mean you, and that horse?"
Smith: "Yes, I'm sorry that he has to come along too. If he starts asking
   you for food, whack him. He can be quite irritating sometimes."
Secretary: "Ahh, yes. Now, you said you wanted to know the Answer to..."
Iolo: "Life, the Void, and Everything."
Secretary: "I'm not sure I know what you mean -- but you might ask John,
   on the tenth floor.  If anybody knows, he would.  Take that Lift-O-Matic
   right there.  And oh, one more thing.  We have a rule here in this
   building...we call it the 'buddy system'."
Iolo: "I've heard of the system before. Thats so you don't get lost, or you
   don't do something you shouldn't, or something like that, right?"
Secretary: "Sort of. The way it works over here is you and a buddy talk to
   each other over these radios (she gets out two two-way radios) and tell
   each other your position constantly.  Each floor is laid out like the
   spokes of a wheel, with the Lift-O-Matic shaft in the center."
Iolo, interrupting: "But why would we need to talk to each other when we're
   travelling together?"
Secretary, aghast: "My Void! Why in Hierophant's name would you want to do
   something like that?"
Iolo was beggining to feel that someone wasn't making a whole lot of sense,
and he sure hoped it wasn't him.
Iolo, clearly confused: "That's what I was confused about. Why would we need
Secretary, still paled: "No...no...why would you want to travel TOGETHER?"
Iolo felt his tenuous grip on reality begin to slip away.
Iolo: "I dunno.  You're the one who suggested I needed a buddy."
Secretary: "Well, of course! You travel in OPPOSITE directions, quite
Iolo did not find this quite natural at all.
Iolo: "And what, may I ask, is the point of that?"
Secretary, horrified: "Why, to keep the building balanced, of course! It IS
   shaped in a sphere, after all. We wouldn't want this building to roll away,
   would we? Now here on the ground floor, we can pretty much walk around
   freely, but remember - the higher you go, and the further away from the
   center shaft you go, the more vital staying balanced becomes.
Iolo: "Where is this John again?"
Secretary: "Tenth floor, window office at the end of the 30 degree radial."

The secretary motions for a man sitting nearby to come over.

Secretary: "This will be your buddy. Here are your radios, and make sure
   you tell each other PRECISELY where you are at all times. If you want to
   walk north, tell your buddy he needs to move south. Understand?"
Iolo, nervously: "Yes...I'll give it a try."
Secretary: "NO! Do, or do not.  There is no try."
Iolo, really terrified: "Ok, ok...we'll do it.  But I don't think our buddy
   will be able to balance the combined weight of myself and my horse."
Secretary: "Of course not -- your horse will have to wait outside."
Smith: "Let me get this straight...You mean I can't accompany this old senile
   oaf inside this building that looks and feels like it might roll away at
   any moment, and WILL roll away if any one of hundreds of people take one
   false step?"
Secretary: "Yes, that's correct."

An expression of deep genuine regret completely failed to cross Smith's face.

Smith: "I so deeply regret that I can not accompany you, dear master."
Iolo: "Oh shut up and just wait outside for me."

Iolo glances at his buddy and the exit.  Against his better judgement, he and
his buddy head for the Lift-O-Matic.

Iolo, muttering: "I have a bad feeling about this."


The Avatar entered the cubical building, and was met by the same secretary
that was here the day before.

Secretary: "May I help you?"
Avatar: "I sincerely doubt it.  But since you asked, I'm looking for the
   people that control the Guide's memory banks.  They deleted some
   information which I require."
Secretary (annoyed by the snide comment): "Wait here a moment."  She then
   buzzes somebody.

The Avatar takes a seat in the waiting room, and picks up a complimentary
issue of the Guide.  Remembering his recent experiences regarding time
travel, he decides to see what the Guide has to offer.

Avatar: "Guide, tell me about time travel."
Guide: "Time travel is when you travel through time."
Avatar: "I *know* that! It can be a little disorienting, is there a way how to
   overcome that feeling?"
Guide: "Certainly -- don't time travel."
Avatar, sighing: "Well, then, just tell me about experiences other people have
   had regarding time travel."
Guide: "Well, let me see...Ah, I have it.  This might not be what you had
   in mind, but it does involve time travel.  Its listed under 'Ultima 8'".
Avatar: "Well then, tell me about Ultima 8"
Guide: "Ultima 8 was considered by many a rather lousy game. Many game players
   and testers alike strangled themselves to avoid further torture by
   playing it.  It has been speculated that the Ultima 8 design team would
   be the first against the wall when the revolution came. Through some sort
   of freak temporal anomaly, a future issue of the Guide fell through. It
   said that the Ultima 8 design team was the first against the wall when the
   revolution came."
Avatar: "They don't seem like a lot of nice people.  Where are they located?"
Guide: "Origin systems, pyramid building."


Dupre and Shamino entered the pyramid-shaped building.  Inside, another one
of these wonderful secretaries did not greet them, probably because there was
not any secretary there in the first place.

Dupre: "Hmm...I guess we should just wander around until we find something?"
Shamino: "Sounds like a plan to me."

They stroll through the lobby and make their way to the Lift-O-Matic. A sign
is posted nearby, which reads: "Help wanted. Many positions open, contact
Bob in the personnel office, 8th floor".

Dupre presses the "Up" button on the Lift-O-Matic.

It appears that in this part of the story, everybody (with the possible
exception of Smith) will be riding in a Lift-O-Matic.

Here is what the Hitchhiker's Guide has to say about Origin Lift-O-Matics:

"Under no circumstances allow yourself to ride an Origin Lift-O-Matic. Take
the stairs (or if you happen to be so unfortunate as to find yourself in the
spherical building, you and your buddy take the pair of stairs) instead.
The Lift-O-Matics were designed by a team of masochists which later became
known as the Ultima 8 design team.  If you yourself happen to be a masochist,
then operating the Lift-O-Matic should actually prove quite entertaining and
give you hours of enjoyment.  To operate, simply input your destination
by pulling a series of 32 levers.  These levers will cause a specific quantity
of blood moss, black pearl, and mandrake root to slide out of a slot. These
reagents are to be used in the "Move Lift-O-Matic" spell, which is inscribed
on a plaque (in Ophidian) inside the Lift-O-Matic. The blood moss is to bind
the entire Lift-O-Matic together (early attempts that lacked this most crucial
reagent caused the Lift-O-Matic to buckle under all the stress, thus killing
all the Lift-O-Matic's pre-alpha testers).  The black pearl is for motion,
either upwards or downwards, and the mandrake root is needed because of the
incredible mass involved.  The order that the levers are pulled is calculated
in advance by the Lift-O-Matic's occupant(s) taking into account what floor
they are departing from, what floor they are arriving on, how many occupants
there are, and the current tidal forces exhibited from Origin's twelve moons.
Once the occupant(s) get the reagents, they distribute them at the corners and
center of the Lift-O-Matic, placing them in very precise locations, and then
placing a lit candle next to each pile of reagents (a red candle for the
corners, and black for the center).  If any of the regeants or candles is
off by so much as a hair, the spell will fail.  If an improper number of
regeants has been selected from the levers, then unpredicatable results may
occur, including, but not limited to, arriving at the wrong floor, arriving
at the wrong building, arriving at the wrong planet, and not arriving anywhere
at all.

After waiting for a few seconds, the Lift-O-Matic doors opened, and Dupre and
Shamino walked in.

After experimentally pulling a few levers, Dupre and Shamino came to the
conclusion that they were getting nowhere very fast.

Shamino: "I grabbed a copy of the Guide in the lobby.  Maybe it can help us"
Shamino: "Guide, how do you operate the Lift-O-Matic controls?"

The Guide gave a very wicked laugh, not unlike the Guardian's, and then
proceeded to tell them how to operate the controls, giving them the
partial differential equations they needed to solve to determine which
levers to pull.

Shamino: "Sorry I asked."
Dupre: "Maybe we should just take the stairs instead."
Shamino: "Ok...how do you open the doors?"
Dupre: "I dunno.  I think they're stuck."
Shamino: "If we try operating the controls, we will get ourselves killed."
Dupre: "And if we just stand here, we will eventually starve to death."
Shamino: "So thats it, then. We are going to die."
Dupre: "It would so appear."
Shamino: "Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to give this a try then."

They pulled a few more random levers until it looked like they had a hefty
pile of reagents, and then evenly distributed them around the Lift-O-Matic's

Dupre: "Hmm...I think we need some more mandrake.  It'll take a LOT more
   power to get this thing moving."
Shamino: "And just to make sure it actually goes somewhere, I'll add in
   a couple more ounces of pearl.

It should be noted that Shamino and Dupre were never noted for their
incredible spellcasting abilities, or their knowledge of magical matters
and proper regeant reaction ratios.

While Dupre lit and placed the candles in the appropriate positions, Shamino
consulted the Guide about translating the Ophidian runes.

Shamino: "I do have a small amount of spell casting ability -- more than
   you anyway. If you don't mind, I'd like to cast the spell."
Dupre: "I have a bad feeling about this."

Shamino casted the spell..."IN VAS HUR ELEVATOR"

The next few moments can only be described as spectacular.  The duo were
engulfed in an enormous amount of light and smoke.  An instant later, they
heard a resounding double boom from above.

As the smoke was still clearing, they stood there silently for a while,
amazed that they were still actually alive.

Dupre: "Maybe I put in a little too much mandrake..."
Shamino: "So what happened, where are we?"
Dupre: "I don't think we moved at all."

The smoke began to clear.

Shamino: "Hey look -- the door's gone. It looks like we are still on
   the lobby level after all."
Dupre: "For that matter, the entire upper portion of the Lift-O-Matic is
Shamino: "Not only that, but the top of the building is also gone. I can see
   the sky."
Dupre: "Well, at least the door is open now.  Good job -- maybe you should
   take up spellcasting. I guess we have to take the stairs now."


Iolo was not having a fun time.  Bud (his buddy) had explained to him the
two methods of arriving at the tenth floor, and Iolo had wisely opted to
avoid the Lift-O-Matic. Currently he was walking up a flight of stairs,
relaying to Bud everytime he was about to take a step, and everytime he
actually took one.  After an hour of doing this, he was finally on the
tenth floor.

Everything had proceeded smoothly until somewhere around the vicinity of
the eighth floor, he had run into somebody slowly working his way downwards.
Iolo tripped while trying to pass him up, and the building started to
wobble dangerously.  This happened of course, at the same time that Bud
was trying to pass someone else.  Being an expert at this sort of thing,
Bud had quickly deduced that Iolo tripped, and so he tripped himself as well.
The building's oscillations quickly subsided after that.

Iolo and Bud carefully exited the stairwells and found themselves at opposite
points around a circular corridor.  The building's designers (to make
things easier on people) had thoughtfully labelled the various radials that
spanned outwards from the central shaft with a "TO" and a "FROM" direction,
so when Iolo was facing the 30 degree TO radial, Bud would be facing the
30 degree FROM radial.

Iolo: "Ok Bud...I am facing the 0 degree TO radial. I am turning to my right,
   and taking a step...NOW"

This proceeded for a while longer, until Iolo reached the 30 degree TO radial.
Having spent the last hour coordinating his steps with Bud, he was developing
a little more skill and speed at doing this.

In the corridors, Iolo passes many more groups of people slowly walking
around, perpetually talking into a radio.  The word "surreal" does not even
come close to describe the scene.

Iolo turned and started walking slowly down the 30 degree TO radial.
Eventually he reached the end of the corridor.  A sign in front of him
indicated he was facing a bathroom.

Iolo (to radio): "What the ?? I thought John's office was at the end of
   the 30 degree radial!"
Bud: "His office is right in front of me."
Iolo: "But you're on the 210 degree radial!  That is directly opposite where
   it should be!"
Bud: "Technically, I am on the 210 degree TO radial, but the 30 degree FROM
   radial. In other words, the central shaft is 210 degrees from me, but
   I am now 30 degrees from it."
Iolo: "Say that again?"
Bud: "Well, John's office is 30 degrees from the central shaft, so you have
   to take the 30 degree FROM radial to get here -- not the 30 degree TO
   radial.  Its easy really"
Iolo: "Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?"
Bud: "Don't worry about it.  Lets just retrace our steps and go the opposite
   way this time."

A half hour later, Iolo is now facing John's office.

Iolo knocks, and is invited inside.  Now, to maintain the delicate balance,
Bud also walks forward into the bathroom.  Because of the nature of ending
up in unexpected places, all bathrooms are unisex, so none of the women
currently in the bathroom were very surprised when Bud walked in.

Bud: "Hi...hi there."
woman: "Hi.  Your buddy must be in John's office, I take it?"
Bud: "Yes. I guess your buddy is as well."
woman: "My buddy is John.  So I pretty much stay in here all day."
Bud: "Must be kind of boring."
woman: "Well, I do meet lots of interesting people here."

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the building...
Iolo enters the room, and sees three other people.  Two of them are just sort
of standing around, looking bored, and one of them is by the door, and greets

John: "So you must be Iolo -- I hear you want to know an answer of some sort?"
Iolo: "Not just ANY answer, but The Answer...to Life, the Void, and
John: "Ah...I see.  What do you want to know about it?"
Iolo: "Well, the Answer would be a good start."
John: "I'm afraid I not sure exactly what you mean.  Could you reword your
   question a little bit?"
Iolo: "Ummm...sure...I want to know, um...what my life is about. Why am I
   here? What is my place in the Void?"
John: "Ah ha! Now that I can answer.  Or at least I can help answer.  Walk
   over there please."

John motions Iolo to the other side of the room, where there are some
monolithic stones a la Stonehenge arranged.  One of the people is standing
kind of near the center of it.

Bud: "Ah wait, duty calls.  Nice talking to you."

Bud walks across the bathroom and into an occupied stall.

Bud: "Pardon me, miss."
Stall occupant: "Quite alright sir."
Bud: "Its a nice day outside, isn't it?"
Stall occupant: "Yes, very."

John (still standing by the door): "Iolo, that is a replica of the Shrine
   of Humility.  Go sit down in the center next to that guy right there,
   don't mind him, and just concentrate on the mantra 'LUM'"
Guy next to Iolo: "What, are you crazy?  You're not actually going to
   meditate there, INSIDE the shrine of HUMILITY no less?"
Iolo: "I need answers."
Guy shudders.

Iolo sits down and starts concentrating on the mantra.
The guy eventually gets radioed and leaves.  Iolo sits there and meditates
for an hour...


Dupre and Shamino are now on the third floor.  The stairwell that brought
them to this level ended, with directions on getting to the next stairwell
on the opposite end of the level.

They turn around a corner, and are quite surprised to see a gaping hole in
the room, going back down to the first floor.  In the center of the room,
are several platforms magically hovering and moving in different directions.

Dupre: "It looks like those platforms are the only way across."
Shamino: "So we have to jump across, basically?"
Dupre: "Yep."
Shamino: "What kind of a masochist would design a building like this?"
Dupre: "Same people that made that Lift-O-Matic. Ready to jump?"
Shamino: "So this is it...We are going to die."

They watch the movement of the platforms for a while, and time its cycle.

Shamino: "One Britannia, Two Britannia, Three Britannia...Ten Britannia.
   Ok. On the count of three Britannia, jump!"

Shamino counts to three, and they jump, just barely making it across.
They do this a few times, and eventually make it across the entire pit.

Dupre: "That wasn't so bad."

They round a corner, and come across another pit like the first, except on
this one, the platforms are moving diagonally in all three dimensions, and
fire-spitters are strategically placed to make it more interesting.

Dupre: "I will KILL whoever it was that made this."
Shamino: "So this is it....NOW we are going to die."


The Avatar is awakened by the secretary, who finally found somebody to see

Secretary: "Joe, our new editor-in-chief, will see you now."
Avatar: "The new one? What happened to the old one?"
Secretary: "He was in a hurry, and tried taking the Lift-O-Matic one day.
   We haven't seen him since.  I suggest you take the stairs. Top floor,
   NW corner office."

The Avatar makes his way up to the top floor, finds the office, and enters.

New Editor-in-Chief: "Hello, my name is Joe.  I understand you are looking
   for deleted material."
Avatar: "Yes, specifically the Answer to Life, the Void, and Everything."
Joe: "Hmmm...Let me look through my files for a bit."

The Avatar takes this moment to glance through the windows at the view
of the other two buildings.

Avatar, thinking: I wonder how the others are faring.

The tip of the pyrmaid suddenly flies into the air with a resounding
double boom.

Avatar, thinking: I see.

Joe: "Ah ha!  It was deleted from the backup files as well, with a note
   here that you REALLY don't want to know the answer."
Avatar: "But yes, I really do want to know."
Joe: "Well, let me see....let me do some cross referencing. Take a seat,
   this might take some time."


Dupre and Shamino are running for dear life down a corridor.  Shamino is
counting to himself as he runs. "Two Britannia, Three Britannia -- DUCK!!!"
The two drop to the floor as a barrage of fire balls fly just overhead.
They quickly get up, and resume running, rounding a corner just as the
next barrage flies by.

Shamino: "Hey look -- its the personnel office."
Dupre: "Great! If I see one more fire spitter..."
Shamino: "How about that fifth platform pit?"
Dupre: "The one that had snakes on it? I hate snakes"
Shamino: "No..That one was nasty too, but I meant the one with the caltrops
   all over the platforms."
Dupre: "Eww....that one was nasty."

They enter the personnel office.

Bob: "Look -- new recruits! I guess you are here for the job opening?"
Dupre: "What job opening?"
Some person, in awe: "Are you the ones that blasted the Lift-O-Matic?"
Dupre: "That was him", pointing to Shamino
Some person, still in awe: "I've never heard a Lift-O-Matic make a sonic boom
Shamino, musing: "So THATS what that sound was"
Some person, still in awe: "How did you do that?"
Shamino: "Well, Dupre and I kind of guessed at the amount of mandrake and
   pearl we would need, and used oh, three stones of each was it?"
Dupre: "I'd say more like four stones worth."
Some person, now laughing his ass off: "Its a wonder you're still alive.
   I wonder why you didn't go with the Lift-O-Matic?"
Shamino, understanding filling his eyes: "I know...we almost completely
   forgot about adding blood moss.  There wasn't enough to completely bind
   the floor of the Lift-O-Matic to the rest of it"

As the rest of the office is still laughing their ass off, Dupre looks at
Bob again and asks:

Dupre: "So, what job opening, again?"
Bob: "For the Lost Vale of course!"
Shamino: "What lost vale?"
Bob: "For Ultima 8, part 2...where have ya'll been?"

As soon as Dupre hears the words "Ultima 8" he starts reddening in the face.
A faint trace of steam escapes his mouth.

Dupre: "You are part of the Ultima 8 design team, then?"
Bob: "Yes"
Shamino: "Must...control...urge...to...slaughter..."
Dupre, having no such reservations: "DIE!!!!!!!!!"

Dupre single-handedly starts a revolution, pulls out his death scythe
and starts mowing the place until only he and Shamino are left standing.

Shamino: "Dupre, calm down...you've got that look in your eyes again."
Dupre: "What look?"
Shamino: "The same look you, er, we got on Serpent Isle once. Your eyes
   are even glowing a little."
Dupre: "Oh, sorry.  I feel much better now."
Shamino: "Well, somewhere over here there must be a control panel to turn
   off all those traps."

Eventually, they find it, and shut off all the traps, and extend bridges
across the pits.

Dupre: "Our job here is done.  Lets go find the Avatar and regroup."



After an hour of meditating, focusing his entire being into the mantra,
Iolo is granted a vision!

In his minds eye, he looks down at himself inside the shrine, meditating.
His bird's eye view rises somewhat, and he sees the three Origin buildings,
with smoke coming out of the pyramid.  His view rises some more, and he finds
himself very high in the sky, looking down at the continent below him.  Again,
the scenery zooms away from him, and he sees the planet of Origin, and its
twelve moons, some test worlds currently being built, the entire solar
system...Britannia and its twin moons rushes by, followed by several others..
After a few minutes of seeing the entire cosmos zoom from him, he can
finally see the whole infinitude of the Void before him.  And then his
view zooms away still more, so he can see other multiverses, the fourth
dimension of time zooms by, allowing him to see all of time, from the
beginning of the Void to its eventual demise.  And then that sight zooms
away from him at an alarmingly increasing speed, revealing yet more to his soul.

And then, he sees a small arrow (an almost infinitesmally small arrow,
actually) pointing back to where he is next to a sign saying:
"You are here.".

Iolo wakes up from his vision and screams, running as fast as his feet
can take him.  Within a matter of instants he is at the stairwell and
practically throws himself down the shaft.

In a record breaking time of ten seconds flat from start to finish, Iolo is
running out the lobby.

The secretary tries to stop him.
Secretary: "Wait a minute...WHERE IS YOUR BUDDY???"

Iolo regains composure for just an instant.
Iolo: "Buddy? What buddy?"

The building begins to tilt slightly.

Iolo: "Oh..THAT buddy!"

Iolo resumes his screaming and running with renewed energy, and narrowly
escapes out the door.  Just as he makes it out, the twenty story building
tilts past some critcal angle, and begins to roll away, gaining momentum
with each passing second.

Smith notes the building tumbling away with interest, and then sees Iolo
running and screaming towards him.

Smith: "I take it things did not go so well?"


Joe is still hunched down doing some searching, when he finally cries in
triumph, and turns back towards the Avatar, away from the windows.

Joe: "Here it is."
The Avatar momently is distracted as he sees one of the buildings roll away.
Avatar: "I'm sorry? What were you saying?"
Joe: "Are you alright? You don't look so well."
Avatar: "NO! I'm fine, that is. No need to concern yourself with my health.
   I'm sure my bad feelings will just roll, I mean go away."
Joe: "Ok. If you say so. I found out that the Answer was discovered billions
   of years ago on a planet called Aklabeth in an alternate dimension. Anyway,
   I am not sure how or why the information was deleted. But if you want to
   know, you will need to travel back in time by a billion years or so give
   or take and into some other dimension and find the city of Magrathea.

The Avatar's companions rush in the room, out of breath.

Iolo: "Um, Avatar? Can we go now? Please?"
Avatar: "Sure! I was just finished here anyway.  Thank you Joe."

The Avatar pulls out his Orb and tosses it, yielding a silvery black moongate
which the party quickly goes through.

Joe: "Hmm. I wonder what their big hurry was?"

He then turns around, and looks through the window at the spectacular
view offered by the setting sun....


The party emerged from the moongate into a grassy field.

Avatar: "Geez. I can't take you guys anywhere! I leave you alone for one
   hour, and you manage to set fire to one building, and send another on
   its merry way! I hope you learned something from all this!"
Iolo, in a meek voice: "I learned the true meaning of humility."
Shamino: "Well, so where the hell are we?"
Avatar: "Aklabeth, circa a few billion years ago.  We are looking for a town
  called Magrathea."
Iolo: "Well, so where the hell are we?"
Avatar: "Thats the best I can narrow it down.  The Orb doesn't allow for
   precision tossing for this far back in time."
Iolo: "Which way do we go, then?"
Avatar, pointing at random: "That way."
Smith: "In other words, you haven't a clue."
Avatar: "Right."
Shamino: "Say, I am a bit hungry. Do you have any food?"
Avatar: "Nope, but I'm sure we can find something to hunt or forage along
   the way."

After a few hours of hiking with no other significant life in sight...

Dupre: "I must eat now."
Iolo: "I am starving."

Avatar: "ALL RIGHT ALREADY!! I have some reagents, I will magick us up a
   meal.  He pulls out some reagents, concentrates, and intones:

Nothing happens.

Shamino: "You know Avatar, I'm not the best of spellcasters..."
Dupre snickers.
Shamino, ignoring this: "...but isn't it YLEM before MANI except after CORP?"

The Avatar freezes.  "You're right...I wonder what spell it was I just cast

The Laws of Magic hear and obey.
Instead of the intended "Create Matter of Life" (aka food), the spell casted
was "Create Life Matter"...and thus the bizarre sudden creation of a giant
sperm whale several miles up in the air can be explained.

For posterity, given below is the complete transcription of every thought
the whale had (translated for your convenience):

Hey! Who am I? What am I? Where am I? What am I doing here? Why am I here?
Whoa, whats this I feel? Its tingling with sensation. I can move it. I
think I'll call it a...body! And all this stuff moving past me? It feels
light. It needs a light sounding name..air! Thats it, air!  And whats this
thing moving towards me. Its moving fast, and its very big. It needs a big,
round sounding name...GROUND! I wonder if it will be my friend?

Iolo: "Say...whats that whistling sound I hear?"
Shamino: "I dunno. It seems to be coming from..."
Dupre: "Above!!"

Everybody looks upwards to see the most unusual sight of a whale falling
at what must be the natural terminal velocity for a whale, if indeed such
a thing could be called natural.  The Avatar did not think so, nor did he
care. In fact, no one in the party cared or was thinking about that.  All they
were thinking about was running (or galloping, as the case may be) the
hell out the way.

A few seconds later, everybody heard a very loud "splut", as the whale
bounced and broke into many smaller whale blubber parts that then
proceeded to rain around the party.

Dupre: "Could it be true?"
Iolo: "Yes...its raining..."
Shamino: "FOOD!!"

The Companions proceeded to collect some of the whale blubber parts and
start a camp fire to cook it.  Several hours later, and quite satiated,
they made camp.

The next morning, they ate leftovers and collected some more blubber parts
and cooked them just to be on the safe side.  They hiked for a few more
hours and spotted a town in the distance.  Approaching it, they saw it was
coincidentally Magrathea.

This city was nothing like anything the Companions had ever seen before. For
that matter, the Avatar had not seen anything like it ever either. Massive
amounts of technology were evident everywhere they looked. Even pets had
their own share of technology, like a robotic dog-walker, complete with
built in fire hydrant and dog food.  There was a lot of commotion towards
the center of town.  The party approached cautiously to see what was going

On display in the center of town was a huge contraption, that was larger
than a couple of houses put together.  In a booth attached to it were
two men who were busily looking at schematics and punching buttons and
doing the sort of thing you would normally expect men operating on a huge
contraption in Magrathea to be doing.

Eventually, one of the two people activates a loud speaker.

Guy #1: "We have just turned on Deep Thought, the greatest computer of all
   space and time!"
Deep Thought: "What is thy bidding, master?"
Guy #2: "We want to know the answer to Life..."
Guy #1: "the Void..."
Guy #1&2 together: "...and EVERYTHING!"
Deep Thought: "Hm...an interesting problem. I will have to think about
   this for a while."
Guy #1: "Ok. We can wait for a while.  How long did you have in mind? An hour
   or two?"
Deep Thought: "Roughly 5 million years."
Guy #2: "FIVE MILLION YEARS?? We can't wait that long!"
Deep Thought: "Sorry, but this is a very hard problem. If you keep
   interrupting me, it will take even longer."

The crowd was getting very upset.

Avatar: "Perhaps we should leave before the battle music begins. With the
   Orb I can send us forward 5 million more years so we won't have to wait."
Dupre: "Good. I don't think we have enough whale blubber to last us that
   long anyway."

The party disppears through another moongate.


They reappear in the same street, roughly 5 million years later.
Surprisingly, not much has changed.  There is a crowd surrounding the
contraption, and two people inside the booth pushing buttons and the like.
Of course, these are not the same people, but rather, their great-great-great
great-great, well, you get the idea.

Eventually, one of the two people activates a loudspeaker.

Guy #1: "We are about to hear the R%#*@(*"  The distinct high pitched sound
   of feedback is heard, and the PA shuts off with a few sparks seen
   flying around inside the booth.
The audience looks around nervously.  Hopefully nothing happened to Deep
Thought.  The prospect of waiting for another 5 million years was not
a pleasant one.

Avatar: "Perhaps we should go see if we could lend a hand.  Who knows?
   We may be able to help."

Agreeing, they weave their way through the throng and make their way to
the booth.

A guard blocks them.
Guard: "Ug. Me Guard."
Avatar: "You sure do remind me of other guards I've met..."
Guard: "Ug. Me Tough."
Avatar: "Yeah, whatever.  Look, I think I can help with the problem
  they are having.  I have some background in electronics back from my
  own homeworld."

One of the people inside obviously heard him, for one of the men comes
out and lets them enter against the guard's protests.

Man #1: "I couldn't help but overhear you.  You say you have some background
   in electronics?"
Avatar: "Yes..."
Man #2: "Great...then maybe you can help.  By the way, my name is Henry, and
   this here is Faraday."
Avatar: "So what seems to be the problem?"
Faraday shows him a circuit board that is causing them problems.
Avatar: "Oh, you got the positive and negative leads reversed."
Henry: "DOH!"
The PA system comes back to life.
Faraday: "Ladies and Gentlemen, in just a few seconds Deep Thought's
   5 million years will be over, and we will know the Ultimate Answer to
Henry: "The Void,..."
Both: "...and the Everything"
The party is excitedly/nervously/anxiously awaiting the outcome.
Deep Thought: "I have the Answer."
Henry: "To Life, the Void and Everything?"
Deep Thought: "Yes."
Faraday: "What is it?"
Deep Thought: "I really think you're not going to like it."
Henry: "Just tell us. We will like it, we will like it!!"
Deep Thought: "I really, REALLY don't think you're going to like it."
Faraday: "Well tell us anyway!"
Deep Thought: "Very well...the Answer to Life, the Void, and Everything,
Everybody: "What? what?"
Deep Thought: "Thirty-two."
Henry: "Are you certain?"
Deep Though: "Whoops, forgot to carry the one. Make that fourty-two."
Faraday: "But, but...That can't be...."
Deep Thought: "I've had a lot of time to think about this, and I am
   quite certain the answer is thir, I mean, fourty-two."
Henry: "We are going to be lynched, you know that."
Faraday: "How can a mere number be the answer to Life, the Void, and
Deep Thought: "Well it is.  Perhaps if you knew what the Question to Life,
   the Void, and Everything was, the Answer would make more sense."
Henry, exasperated: "Well, then, what is it?"
Deep Thought: "The Question to Life, the Void, and Everything is really
   quite simple.  It is 'What...$#%
   Segmentation Fault
   core dump
Iolo, softly: "whoops"
Avatar: "WHOOPS?! What do you mean, 'whoops'?!"
Iolo: I kind of sort of well, tripped and this wire snapped."
Henry: "That is the main memory power line.  You just wiped 5 million
   years worth of data!"
Avatar: "Well, wait a second...Don't you have backups?"
Faraday: "Backups? Whats a backup?"

The crowd outside is getting quite visibly upset.  Many of them are
arming themselves just in case something went wrong, like somebody
accidentally tripped over the main power line or something.

Dupre: "They are surrounding us!"
Shamino: "So this is it then, we are all going to die."
Dupre: "I REALLY wish you would stop saying that."
Avatar, to Henry and Faraday: "Oh, silly me...I just remembered I had
   to be, uh..., somewhere else right now.  Hate to just leave when things
   get interesting, you know, but...gotta go."

He tosses his Orb, but Henry, thinking it was some kind of weapon, quickly
pulls out a Kill-O-Zap and vaporizes the Orb while it was still in the

Using the explosion as a diversion, he party quickly escapes into the
streets, with the throng running after them in hot pursuit.

The party rounds a corner.
Avatar: "Quick, anybody have a towel?"
Everybody looks around, and comes up empty-handed.

They continue running some more until they get to some vacant alley where
they are for the moment, safe.

A moongate comes out of nowhere, and an alien steps out and approaches
the Avatar.

Alien: "Avatar?"
Avatar: "Yes?..."
Alien: "You are THE Avatar?"
Avatar: "Yes?..."
Alien: "You are the Avatar, champion of virtue, defender of Britannia,
   Titan of Ether,..."
Avatar: "Yes, yes...thats me."
Alien: "Avatar, you are a jerk."
Avatar: "WHAT?"
Alien: "A jerk, a complete knee-biter."

The throng of people turn a corner and spot them.

The Avatar punches the alien, steals his Orb, and the party escapes through
the moongate, narrowly escaping certain death once again.

The last thing the Avatar hears from the alien and some of the pursuing
forces is something about going back in time and casting Armageddon to
end everybody's senseless life.


Several billion years later...

A moongate opens up in Lord British's castle, from which the party walks

Lord British is awaiting them anxiously.

British: "Well, so what did you find out?"
Avatar: "The Answer to Life, the Void, and Everything is, ahh, you REALLY
   don't want to know."
British: "But there IS an Answer?"
Avatar: "Yes."
British: "Oh, so people's lives do have a purpose then?"
Avatar: "Uhh..I guess so"
Iolo: "Just go visit the Shrine of Humility for that answer."
Avatar: "Right now, though...I think I need a really strong drink."
Dupre: "Well, we could go to the Restaurent at the end of the Void..."
Avatar: "Lets go then..."

Will we ever find out the Question to Life, the Void, and Everything?
Will the virtues be restored?
Will Lord British have a *real* drink and mellow out?

Find out in part 4 of the Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy...
Detherk Dragon

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