As soon as Stephen’s fingertip grazed the vibrant green surface of the portal, everything changed. The warning voice of Steve Kerr disappeared from his hearing, and the subterranean cavern disappeared from his sight. He was being pulled through a void of absolute black, and even his own physical being seemed to have vanished out of existence. Either that, or it had been left behind in the previous dimension. When he looked down, the only thing he could see was the magicked Three-Point Shooting Amulet on its chain. It pulsated like it was alive.
Stephen knew what was happening. He was going to the realm of the Other Gods. The gods that existed above and beyond the feeble gods of the Earthly religions. The gods to whom the attributions of “omnipresent” and “omniscient” were laughably inadequate. The gods who were outside of time. The gods who were time itself. The gods who would grant him, Stephen, absolute mastery over the amulet. An amulet which he had the skill to create, but not the power to control.
For some reason, Stephen’s disembodied thoughts turned to his teammate, Klay Thompson. Klay coveted the power of the amulet, but was too simple to fathom its true nature. How pathetic he was, even when judged against the lowly whole of the human race. Stephen knew that he was about to shed his repugnant humanity forever, leaving behind not only Klay, but all of mankind.
The black void resolved itself in his eyeless sight. Colors returned, as did his body, which looked the same as its earthly counterpart. He found himself standing on a wide plain that, aside from some distorted rocky outcroppings, was devoid of landmarks. However, he was unsure if the world he was on was real, or just a creation of the Gods, provided to his mind in order to ease his transition to their dimension. The “Magickal Objects…” volume which had provided so much vital information to him had stopped short of any description of the realm of the “Othre Gods”, only alluding to its unknowable and sanity-obliterating nature in fearful tones. Perhaps what he was looking at was a mere veneer over a dimension of utter chaos and malignity.
Up ahead was a tall mountain crowned by a grand city or palace marked by towering spires and wide arches. Again, it could have been a sort of visual metaphor for the power of the Gods, but that didn’t matter much. Stephen had no way to empirically evaluate the realness of his surroundings. He had achieved knowledge greater than all but a scant few humans over the millennia, but there was still so much to learn. And he felt that the city on the mountain was where he would learn it.
The journey to the mountain took a long time, but it also took no time at all. For all of the trappings of the human experience that Stephen still retained, the sensation of the passing of time was not one of them. There was no sun in this world, nullifying humanity’s main visual indicator that time was indeed elapsing, and Stephen felt neither fatigue, nor hunger, nor thirst, which was another such indicator. In fact, the only sensation that Stephen could say he “felt” was the amulet dangling against his naked chest.
At the base of the mountain, the whole thing seemed much taller, but those gleaming spires were still visible at the top of the steeply-angled rock faces. At first, Stephen looked for some pathway up it, but when he didn’t find one, he realized that he probably didn’t need one. Boldly placing a foot on the nearly-vertical rock face, he found the footing inexplicably solid. In that way he proceeded upwards at an impossible angle as if it were a stroll upon flat ground. As he got closer, the amulet seemed to sense that it was getting closer to its true origins, and it jittered.
Now Stephen stood at the mountain’s peak and was faced directly with some of the mysterious architecture of the city. Gargantuan stone blocks, decorated with impossibly fine and detailed inscriptions, comprised the larger walls. The inscriptions aroused a faint flicker of memory in Stephen, and he realized that he had seen them before in his dreams. Among these writings were the instructions that he had used to conduct the ritual that had opened the portal in the first place. If only he could decipher them, he was sure that here also were the instructions needed to gain true mastery over the amulet.
But he knew it was no use to dwell at this spot. The Other Gods were not just going to offer those secrets freely. He was still just an interloper in their realm, and they had not forgotten how the amulet had originally been created: with the influences of mankind’s foul, false theologies. Even know, Stephen suspected that the effectuation of his demise was being plotted.
To his side was a doorway which led into the complex, which could have been one or multiple structures. It opened with just a small push, revealing a lit chamber beyond. Stephen placed one foot inside. Immediately, a slimy black tentacle grabbed him and pulled him in.