13 years in the making

Outside Reality

By RayUnforgivableSinner

It was a quiet, unsuspecting town. Unprepared for the fate which would befall it. Unguarded against the forces which aligned against it, converging in a soundless and unseen explosion. Reality itself would fall victim to this force.

Not even a being, an entity, it was little more then a presence. A shred of thought, swimming between atoms. But it was aware. It was looking for something.

"Here!" it said.

Two towns. Two worlds. Each occupied the same point in time and space. Only reality separated them. Together they offered worlds of limitless possibilities. One world of science, and another of magic.

The presence stopped. It studied, through the eyes of those around it, the surroundings. It was a small town. A couple of streets. A bar. A church. Little else. But there were people, enough of them. And it was in the perfect place, balanced exactly on the edge. The edge of realities.

‘Take my word for it,’ said the bartender, ‘one day this is gonna be a big town. This is just the beginning of something big.’
‘You been drinking your supply again Scid?’ asked a customer.
‘It’s good booze,’ said Scid. ‘Why shouldn’t I drink it too?’
‘Alright,’ agreed the customer, ‘so what were you saying?’
‘Well, one day,’ continued the barman, ‘this place is gonna be famous. People will write about this town, all sorts of stories. Interactive ones!’
‘Interactive stories?’ asked the customer sceptically. Sounded like a ridiculous idea to him. Next thing Scid would be talking about machines doing peoples thinking for them.
‘Interactive,’ agreed Scid. ‘About the people of this town. All sorts of stuff! True stories.’
‘You’re drunk Scid,’ said the customer.
‘So what?’ said Scid. ‘Proves it’s good drinks.’
‘I wouldn’t mind,’ he said, ‘but I’ve been waiting half an hour for my drink.’

No, said the presence to itself. They won’t do at all. I need someone better. And it moved on.

Something else was headed to the town. Something far bigger and more threatening then the scraps of memory thrown together by the wind. Travelling inside a dark cloud, rode four horsemen, their steeds riding on the winds. They were flying.
‘We find a good place,’ said the leading figure, ‘and we settle down. We can work out the details later, after we get a few drinks.’
‘Sounds good to me,’ said one of the others.
‘Alright,’ said a third, ‘but let’s go to Norm. The beer tastes better without all that magic floating around in it.’
‘I don’t know,’ said the first. ‘I kind of like the magic. It almost feels like a musical rhythm is going through my bones when I drink it.’
‘That’s what I mean,’ said the third. ‘It unsettles me.’
‘You don’t like that you like it?’
‘We’re not supposed to like things,’ said the third. ‘It worries me when we do.’
‘We’ve evolved,’ said the first, with a shrug. ‘We’ve advanced. Bettered ourselves. Besides, we’re unemployed now. Hell is behind us. We go and live how we like.’
‘It takes some getting used to is all,’ said the third.
‘I think,’ said the fourth. They all turned to face him. It was rare when he spoke. ‘I think I could use a drink.’

‘Mr Septim to see you, Mr Mayor,’ said a young boy, showing in a young man. The mayor looked up from his desk, and smiled at Septim.
‘Sheriff Septim,’ greeted the Mayor, ‘please, take a seat.’
Septim took a seat. That is to say, he pulled one away from the wall and sat down on it.
‘I wish to make a few things clear,’ said the Mayor, his voice suddenly serious, ‘before you officially become sheriff of my town…’

So close to perfect, said the presence sadly, and all the further away for it.

And in the world of magic, similar events were afoot. The Grand High Priest was having a difficult time with the head of the Mages Guild.
‘Magic is not a blasphemy to the gods,’ said the Mage, ‘otherwise why would they give us the power?’
‘I quite agree,’ said the Priest. ‘However some of my colleagues are too set in the old ways. I am merely warning you to tread carefully, I do not wish to have a religious war on my hands.’

Strange, said the presence, so alike and so different. Both so fitting for different reasons. If only they were brought together, two halves merged to a whole…

The third rider was worried. The first was still leading, lost to memories of the rhythm he had spoken of. He clicked his fingers idly along with the rhythm, bone making disturbing noise against bone. Not one of their group had skin, nor blood nor muscles. They were just bone, skeletons. But not human.
‘Are we nearly there yet?’ asked the second, because there’s always one.

There were only two people in the bar, and by the time the Horsemen arrived, both Scid and his customer were drunk.
‘Table for sixteen,’ said the first. ‘Name of Asmodeus.’
‘Don’t have tables for more’n six,’ said Scid. ‘Just push a few together what aren’t being used.’
‘Very well,’ said Asmodeus, placing some coin on the bar. ‘We now wish to order drinks. I shall have a Bloody Mary. Verrine?’
‘Oh, I’ll have the same,’ said the second rider.
‘And for me,’ said Balberith, the third. ‘Astaroth?’
‘What?’ said the fourth. ‘Oh, I’ll have a shandy.’
‘What about the others?’ asked Verrine.
‘They can get theirs when they get here,’ said Asmodeus, former Lord of the First Hierarchy of Hell.

Verrier had gotten lost. Deliberately. He’d been a demon for centuries and only advanced to the Second Hierarchy. Now all the orders had been disbanded, the old ways abandoned. Nobody knew what to do anymore. He alone had a plan. And those misguided fools didn’t figure into it.

Beelzebub was not lost, he was sure of that. He knew exactly where he was. He was on his horse. Sadly he didn’t know where his horse was. That was it, his horse was lost. It was his horse's fault.
‘You’ve gotten us lost,’ he told his horse.
‘I only followed your directions,’ protested the creature.
‘Well you didn’t follow them right,’ said Beelzebub.

Sonneillon walked through the doors with an air of impatience. Scid stared in shock and then glared suspiciously at his drink.
‘Did he just walk through the door?’ asked the customer.
‘Here,’ said Scid, ‘have a refill.’

‘Where’s the others?’ asked Sonneillon.
‘Late,’ said Asmodeus. ‘They’ll be here.’
‘Don’t think so,’ said Iuvart, walking in behind Sonneillon. ‘Rest of us are here, but two missing. Oliver was travelling behind and saw them wander off.’
‘Who?’ asked Verrine.
‘Verrier and Beelzebub,’ said Iuvart.
‘Sod them,’ said Asmodeus. ‘If they want to make their own way then they can.’
‘Alright,’ called Gressil, striding in. ‘Eight pints of lager. And a packet of crisps.’

‘So those two buggered off did they?’ said Gressil, drinking his beer at the same time. ‘Just like Verrier. And Beelzebub’s probably gone and gotten lost.’
‘True,’ said Asmodeus. ‘So shall we start without them?’
‘Better had,’ said Iuvart. ‘No point in waiting.’
‘Right then,’ said Astaroth. ‘We’ve all been expelled from Hell like everyone else and we’ve come here to decide what to do. Any suggestions?’
‘Get pissed!’ cried somebody. The idea got a round of cheers.
‘Yes, and after that?’ said Asmodeus. This question got a round of silence.

Maybe there is a way, the presence told itself. I just have to find a way to slip between realities and stay between them.

Travelling between the two worlds was not a pleasant thing to do. The scientific aura of Norm and the magical aura of the world they called Reality, combined for a brief instant. The combination caused confusion and disorientation on such a level that mortals who attempted the journey tended to end up living out their days in padded cells. Or if they exited in Reality, in small glass jars. But that’s mortals…

Beelzebub glared at the map, trying to will it into making sense. His eyes burnt with such hatred that the map caught fire.
‘You’ve done it again,’ said his horse. ‘And that was our last map.’
‘What use is a map you can’t read?’ asked the angry demon.
‘More useful then a pile of ashes probably,’ said the horse.
‘Damn compass won’t make up its mind which direction to point either.’
‘Oh,’ said the horse, suddenly worried. ‘Oh dear.’
‘You’re a horse,’ said Beelzebub, ‘you were raised and nurtured on the fires of Hades. What have you got to be afraid of?’
‘Well,’ said the horse, ‘there’s good news and bad. Good news is we’re not lost anymore. I know where we are.’
‘And the bad news?’
The horse told him where they were. The demon swore.

Belais was very drunk. He listened to the conversations around him with half an ear. He didn’t care too much what they did now. Just as long as the future contained alcohol. But there was something else. Something his mind screamed at him was important. Then he suddenly remembered.
‘Hey,’ he said, ‘where’s my bag of crisps?’

Astaroth, Asmodeus and Leviathan were arguing over some philosophical point. Balberith and Gressil were having an arm wrestle, with Iuvart, Oliver, Rosier and Carnivean placing bets on the outcome. Sonneillon was trying to teach Carreau how to play Blackjack. Verrine was lying unconscious on the floor. Oeillet was in the cellar, stealing from Scid’s secret supply. And while Beelzebub was conversing with his horse, Verrier was formulating his plans.

‘…summon and abjure thee,’ he said, placing another candle and lighting it. It was a crazy plan. Insane. But it might work. And if it didn’t… then at least he’d go out in a big way.

I can’t do anything without form, said the presence to itself. I could take possession now, but any mortal there in the breach would live forever never aging. It thought about this. If its host was immortal then surely that would mean it would have a permanent home. True the host was already old, but living forever as an old man was surely better then living forever with no form at all.

‘Alright,’ said Verrier to himself. ‘This is it.’ He stared at the last candle; unlit. One small flame could mark his ultimate destruction, or his ascension to omnipotence.
‘Who wants to live forever anyway?’ he said, lighting the candle. ‘Me, I do.’ He said as it lit.

‘So we’re agreed then?’ asked Asmodeus. ‘We all accept this decision?’
A chorus of drunken cheers. Close enough, he supposed.

‘@#%$, @#%$, @#%$!’ said Beelzebub. ‘How the hell did we end up here?’
‘I think you took a wrong turning somewhere in the fifth dimension,’ said the horse.
‘So how do we get out?’ he asked.
‘Beats me,’ said the horse with a shrug. Which is a commendable achievement for a horse.
Oh, hello. I didn’t expect to see anybody else here.

‘Oh @#%$ oh @#%$ oh @#%$ I’m gonna die I’m gonna die!’ cried Verrier, his very essence screaming in pain. Then there was a noise. And Verrier was gone.

‘What the bloody hell was that?’ asked Balberith.
‘Sounded like a demon being sucked into himself,’ said Astaroth. ‘Probably Verrier pissing about.’

‘Bloody hell!’ cried Beelzebub. ‘That looked like Verrier, spinning past at great speed while being sucked into himself!’
Is that normal? I don’t know much about demons.
‘For here?’ said the horse. ‘No such thing as normal here.’
Oh yes, of course. Anyway, you must excuse me, I have work to do.
‘I don’t suppose you could show us the way out?’ asked Beelzebub without much hope.
It’s over there, said the presence, unable to indicate any direction.
‘Oh,’ said Beelzebub. ‘I’ll just sit here and watch then.’

Being forcibly summoned is never pleasant for a demon. Being pulled instantly from one place to another. But being pulled from one location to the very same location, attempting to summon yourself…
‘Heeeeeelp!’ cried Verrier.

Just a small hole, the presence told itself, don’t want too big a breach. Just enough to bring one person through and into themself.
‘What are you doing?’ asked a bored Beelzebub.
Quiet please! cried the presence, turning on the demon. Oh bugger, you’ve gone and made me make the hole too big now…

It was a small hole. About the size of a finger. Then it had been torn a bit when the presence was distracted. Still small, it was somehow big enough for an impossibly spinning Verrier to fly through it. But as he did so, he tore the hole bigger still.

Oh no! said the presence. Too big! Too big!
‘Hey,’ said the horse, peering through the hole. ‘I can see my house from here!’

The tear in reality was a huge event. Reality as it was known was torn apart. It was a shame nobody noticed it. It may have gone a long way towards explaining some of the things that would happen later.

‘What happened?’ asked Beelzebub.
‘I only wanted to make a small hole,’ said the old man. ‘So I could bring this one through and into one whole. I would then settle in whichever world the whole found itself in after the merge.’
‘And we messed it up?’ said Beelzebub. ‘Me and Verrier?’
‘Yes,’ said the presence, through the Mayor. ‘Now the whole town has been pulled through and merged. Reality and Norm have been combined in this area, a town which lies on both worlds equally. A place where magic and science can co-exist. You could not understand the powers this will give. The consequences.’
‘Oh put a sock in it,’ said Verrier. ‘You got what you wanted. And this looks like a great place now. Full of opportunity. Magic and science, they both have a lot to be said about them.’
‘Well yes,’ said the Mayor. ‘But one of the most common things said is “ouch”.’

‘So, one last time,’ said Asmodeus. ‘All together.’
‘We are Legion and we are many!’ chorused the demons.
‘No no no no no!’ said Asmodeus. ‘How many times do I have to tell you? Let’s get it right this time!’
‘We are the…’ they chorused uncertainly. ‘We are the Powers That Be.’

‘Oh @#%$,’ said the presence. ‘The host’s rejecting me. I’m mixing with it’s mind… it’s memories… it’s… oh how odd. Hello, who are you?’
‘I’m Beelzebub,’ said Beelzebub. ‘Who are you?’
‘You know, I’m not quite sure,’ said the old man. ‘I feel like I’m a thousand people all at once. Every lost soul ejected from Hell and into one mind… it’s quite overwhelming.’
‘I can imagine,’ said the demon sympathetically. ‘A million voices all at once in your head. Best thing to do would be just pick one and stick with that. I dunno, try a different one every day, see which you like best.’
‘That’s a good idea,’ said the Bum to be.
‘So we merged worlds and created a schizophrenic?’ said Verrier. ‘What fun. What a sense of bloody accomplishment. I think I’ll go and take over the world or something.’
‘Sounds like fun, Verrier,’ said Beelzebub.
‘Don’t call me that anymore,’ said the demon. ‘I need a new name for the new me. Call me… I dunno, how about Yahtzee?’


the beginning