Player’s note: This is not an accurate depiction of the cat’s style. I have not lived with the cat long enough to know how she writes. I have a sense of her basic motivations and a clear idea of her actions. Her speech is still a work in progress, and of course, folks do not always write the way they speak. These entries are attempts to find the right words, not good representations of her style. Some characters come with clearly defined actions, dialog, and writing. Others take more work. The cat is one of the latter. By forcing myself to put down something on a periodical basis, and noting what is wrong about the results, I hope to find what is right.
When I started Walking, Dad said, “Expect the unexpected. You never know what you’re going to meet.”
Ha. Nowadays, I know EXACTLY what I’m going to meet. I’m going to meet a small blue winged person that seems to be rather capable and an odd person in robes who disappears whenever there’s a little excitement. Let that be a lesson to me—again—not to judge by appearances. The one in robes looks sufficiently adult and acts like a child dressed in his grandfather’s clothing—which is making a wild series of assumptions about biology, genealogy, culture…anyway. The winged one looks like a child but seems to have a reasonable amount of sense. Her behaviour on that long-lost ship seemed to mark her out as a spoiled child, but now it appears to have been the frustration of a misunderstood and continually underestimated adult.
Where was I? Meeting a small blue winged person, an odd person in robes, a still odder person in a hat, and an Incorporeal. Over and over again.
That doesn’t happen. No facile comments about the nature of “unexpected”. The modifiers unexpected, inconvenient, improbable, and unusual fail to apply. It is not that it “is not supposed to happen”. It doesn’t happen. This is not the nature of the Planes.
Thus, someone is meddling with me. It will be unfortunate for the individual(s) if it is done for reasons I would disapprove.
* * *
During the days that followed their discovery of the library, the wizard, the angel and the weird one were completely involved with the treasure of knowledge they had discovered. The cat was interested—but not as deeply as all that.
Sometimes she wandered, poking in chests. Sometimes she stared over someone’s shoulder. She occasionally tried to follow Specter on his drifting passage through walls, floors and ceilings. Usually, she just bumped her nose. She made the fortuitous discovery of some facilities. Various experiments with tea led to two messes and the identification of two important pieces of equipment, which she labeled. She amused herself with illusions, slept on a bed that she pulled out of her bag, and once simply hung the bag up with herself apparently inside it for a solid day. Sometimes she wandered out and brought back food. After about four days, she brought back some lichen and draped it around her comrades, just to make a point. Then she spent six hours viewing (3+1)-dimensional pictures from one of the chests. Then she created an elaborate illusion and walked into it. She came back the next day. Not long after that, Specter opened the chest that caused the next act of trouble, providing a welcome, if creepy, respite.
* * *
Back in the library after the extremely creepy and definitely not welcome respite, the cat shook herself off and counted noses. She spent some time shaking her head over Sharlton’s actual and physical existence and Specter’s actual and metaphysical disappearance. Then she briefly explained the library, pointed out the bathroom, and left “to get dinner”. The other three were still having a debate over the nature of reality when she left. It isn’t hard for a cat to go unnoticed when she chooses, even if she stands over 160 cm tall.
* * *
That was hideous, uncomfortable, disturbing, and completely unsettling. Specter is gone and another odd thing named Sharlton came with us out of the illusion. He came OUT of the illusion. Was it an illusion? Are we out of it at all?
* * *
At some point, if you walk the Planes long enough, you find yourself or lose Reality. I have now lost Reality. I can not be sure of anything; I can not be sure of the paper or the pen, the fingers or the mind. I remember panicking the first time I shoved myself someplace too small for my whiskers and stuck. This is worse. I am writing only because writing is an activity that imposes a kind of order on my thoughts. I can feel the panic underneath. My hand shakes with it, and I can only write one sentence at a time. But I can breathe, and I can write, and I can glide above the surface of the panic, and think.
I am scared.
I am lucky.
Funny. I am lucky. I know the path to the answer to the conundrum. What must people do who enter Maya, the all-enveloping illusion, without a key in their pocket?
I must find a door.
* * *
She walked back toward the town. Stopping at the back of a building on the outskirts of what passed for civilization at that time, she pulled a piece of chalk out of her bag and drew a door, including hinges and a doorknob. Then she put away the chalk, gave her clothes a tug and her tail a swish, put out her hand, opened the door, and stepped through.
The rich air wrapped around her and fluffed her fur. Ordinarily, she would saunter gracefully through this most graceful of worlds—but not today.
A smooth blue structure curved neatly with the curve of the hill. After an hour of simply sitting and watching the curtained door, she sighed, stretched, and walked toward it. “Dad always said this day would come.”
* * *
Someday, I am sure I will want to blot out some of these entries, such as the one above. However, it is a part of the record, and for that reason I will attempt to tolerate it. I have come back to my second home.
I skirted the city of Edoss a few hours ago and set off on the nearest plain dirt path. The story goes that anyone can find the way here by taking the nearest dirt path on this Plane and just walking. Well, I did. Now I am sitting, on a flat, sun-warmed rock in front of the curtained door in the blue building. It is one gateway to the paths of illusion. I’m still scared. Once you go in, you have to go on until you find your own way out, or you die. Once someone comes out, that person has grown, developed, or uncovered a sense of the nature of reality. My father said that someday, I would end up here. Queen’s cats would only come out of curiosity, I suppose, but several Tulari Planeswalkers felt the need. I wonder if this phenomenon has a cultural basis.
I’m stalling. Or am I hesitating?
If I’m hesitating, I shouldn’t try it. I don’t need it enough. If I’m stalling, I should stop stalling and try it.
I’m stopping now.
* * *
Some people seem born with a sense of music, or painting, or mathematics. Others can acquire that sense through prolonged study. The ‘paths of illusion’ as some call it, is an intensive course of study in reality. They say that it can only be found by those who are convinced of the fundamental reality of reality to begin with. This amounts to a tautology—those who are comfortable with the fundamental uncertainty of all things won’t bother to seek out a defining reality. They say the paths have this property—that wherever an entrance to it may be found, it will work as well as in any other place. If a entrance to the paths were placed in a virtual reality game, the player who passed through would be as affected as if the entrance had been at the front door of the player’s home. Somewhere in the Planes, they say there is a strange sort of labyrinth with a similar property.
It would be inaccurate to say that time is meaningless in there. Time is part of reality, and, like the rest, its meaning only becomes more definite, uncompromising. For many beings, however, ‘time’ amounts to a sense of one’s obligations, and that does become temporarily meaningless. The realities surrounding that sense will return to the mind, of course, but in the beginning, one’s perceptions of them become less distinct. The mind is allowed to work on the question at hand.
No being has ever described the experience in a way that satisfied that being, nor do the descriptions provided by any pair of beings agree with one another. In drawing conclusions from later observation of the survivors, one could argue that they possess an enhanced emotional capacity for dealing with the conundrums of life, an increased ability to reason, a stronger sense of logic, a better grasp of facts, or keener observation. Perhaps they have found a touchstone for reality; perhaps they simply worry less about the question; perhaps they simply look more closely at what they see.
* * *
Eventually, the cat came back to the library. She took the trouble to come back at a temporally appropriate moment. No one had noticed her absence. She brought dinner. Trillium, Stephan and Raveek were right back to being completely absorbed in the flow of information. The cat ate with Sharlton, asking questions about his job and manner of living. The cat was looking a little less cat-like, a little more humanoid—not that anyone took the time to notice.
* * *
New Planeswalkers, during their early encounters, recapitulate philosophical argument in action. The definition of sentience, the meaning of understanding, the concepts of conservation, fair trade, appropriate use, assistance versus interference were encountered over the course of an hour or two. They were encountered and debated with reference to living cultures. The actions resolved upon will have real consequences to those cultures. The apparent basis for the decisions was the information provided and the cultural framework of the external actors. This does not mean that no attempt was made to understand the cultural framework of the internal actors. It will be interesting to see how this form of action changes over time.
* * *
I have already concluded that some outside influence is responsible for our patterns of movement. What are the possible candidates?
The following are extracts from the cat’s line of reasoning. Edited material is indicated by an ellipsis
Could I be responsible? I do not have the ability, at this moment, as far as I am aware, to move multiple people. However, records indicate that Fennel moved herself and her associate on multiple occasions. That was later determined to be true Planes-movement. Therefore, it is possible for us to learn this skill. Therefore, I could have learned it—probably but not certainly later in life. Therefore, on that basis I could be responsible. The next question for further study, then, is, what is the maximum number of sentients—or non-sentients for that matter—moved by one of our kind…"
“Thus it is possible to move that much organic material, but the question of individuals remains…”
“Thus it is possible to move more than the requisite number of individuals, but the question of whether there are any historical records of Queen’s Cats Planes-moving that many…”
“Typically, we are taught not to concern ourselves with motive so early in an investigation. However, I can not see myself as causing this without letting myself know. I simply wouldn’t leave me out of the fun. Thus, I think I can conclude that I am not likely to be responsible.”
“What are the possible combinations of individuals within the group? Stephen, Trillium, Specter, Raveek, Sharlton each alone. Stephen and Trillium, Stephen and Specter, Stephen and Raveek…are individuals commutative properties?”
“So it appears that, for a set whose members are defined to be sentient, the order of appearance of members within the set affects the properties of the set…”
“Thus, I think for these purposes we must assume that individuals are not commutative properties.”
“Trillium and Stephen are not trained Planeswalkers. There is no mistaking real inexperience. Of course, that has nothing to do with the issue of future selves. Or past selves.”
“If Sp sup future and T sup past are paired with Sp sup present…”
“If S sup future sub (sub here sup future) and T sup past sub (sub elsewhere sup past) are paired with S sup present sub (sub here sup past)…”
“Hss. I’m running out of writable dimensions”
“The point being that seeing any of ourselves wandering in the background would be strongly suggestive…”
“I suppose the idea that one needs training to Planes-move a group of individuals is not necessarily supported by reality. The question for further study is, can one Planes-move a group of individuals without being a trained Planeswalker?”
“So it appears that one can Planes-move organic matter without being a trained Planeswalker and without outside intervention…”
“Considering only those beings whose lifelines have so far coincided with mine, we find a round half-dozen at least that could be responsible. Each one has a different way of looking at life, though. Are there any key points in the travel to date that seem to suggest…”
“The dinosaurs were much too sloppy for van der Bridge.”
“Of course they say that some Universes are more high-handed than others. That could be responsible. To the best of my knowledge, our lifelines coincided on that ship first. What Universe is that Plane?…”
“If a Universe I travel to later is responsible, there’s simply no point in trying to trace it. Looking at those paths is like looking like a translucent ball of string through a microscope. Besides, where is the fun in knowing where you go before you get there?”
“Interference on a large scale often leaves traces of itself behind in small ways, particularly in otherwise random patterns…I wonder if anyone here plays Sabacc?”