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Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — Planetary Symbology
"Stop!" commanded Hakam. "There are runes on the floor. Do not step on them!"

   The "runes" were large, nearly five feet in radius and covering four stone floor tiles each. There were 21 of them, all but one of which were in a grid of four rows and five columns. They were in six different colors and shapes. There was a blue hexagon circumscribing an inverted triangle, with a circle also drawn around each point of the triangle. There was a white circle divided into thirds and inscribed with a triangle. There was a purple circle with two lines and two circles asymmetrically placed. There was a red hexagon circumscribing a non-inverted triangle, and a green circle inscribed by a triangle, which was in turn inscribed with a smaller circle. These five symbols, in order from right to left, made up the first row of symbols on the floor. The next rows included copies of these five in an unrecognizable pattern. The twenty-first symbol was unique, occupying a space immediately after the fourth row and centered. It was a yellow symbol, a circle inscribed with two intercepting pentagons. Solisar noted that all of the floor symbols had a faint magical aura.

   These glyphs, however, were not the most immediately visible thing in the room. At the far end of the room, the back wall seemed to be made, not of stone, but of a solid rainbow of intense light. The chromatic wall had an intense abjuration aura.

   "Do you recognize any of these symbols, Solisar?" asked Hakam.

   "I do," said Leokas. "There are similar triangles covering the triangular faces of the omlar gem. We were told over a year ago that the triangles on the gem were the alchemical symbol for fire."

   "These are all alchemical symbols then," said Hakam. "Unfortunately, all of them except for the purple and yellow ones integrate a triangle in some way. Minotaur, have you seen these shapes before?"

   Kytharrah shook his shaggy head. "Pretty!" He was very tempted to touch them.

   "Do not touch them!" said Hakam.

   "There are four of each color besides the yellow one," noted Szordrin.

   "I can see no pattern in how they are arranged," said Hakam.

   "There is a room beyond the prismatic wall," said Szordrin. "I can just make it out through the intense light."

   "Prismatic wall?" said Sofi.

   "It is an exceptionally powerful spell effect," said Solisar, "far beyond my own capabilities to create. Each of the colors in the wall has a unique defensive property. Notice how the wall is angled back slightly with red and the bottom and violet at the top. The red light, for example, has fire as a defense. To pass through the wall, you would have to pass through seven separate fields of energy, each of which also blocks seven different kinds of attacks."

   "Could we get through by countering each color with the appropriate elemental spell?" asked Belvin. "Could a beam of ice negate the red color?"

   "Yes, that is indeed possible," said Solisar, "but while we collectively could negate some of the colors, we simply are not powerful enough in the arcane or divine arts to negate all of them. If we still had the genie's wish, perhaps, but without that, this is hopeless for us to pass without determining the code that Onran has presumably left in the sigils before us."

   "If Uminonagame were a city, we might be able to purchase scrolls with the needed spells," added Szordrin, "but it is not."

   "How deep below the surface are we?" asked Hakam. "Belvin has summoned creatures to dig us around barriers before."

   "Do you want to destroy Onran's property?" asked Belvin. "No, we can solve this riddle; no riddle has stopped us before. These are elemental symbols. Red is fire. Leokas is correct that these are alchemical symbols."

   "Are there not four elements, not five or six?" asked Leokas.

   "I want to try something," said Hakam, "but I need everyone to clear the room first."

   "What are you going to try?" asked Solisar.

   "I am going to create water upon one of the blue glyphs in the back rows," said Hakam.

   They stepped back into the first room, Hakam offered a brief prayer, and now there was simply a large puddle of water on the floor amongst the glyphs.

   "I have a feeling that you are supposed to walk over the tiles in a certain order, which will lower the wall," said Szordrin.

   "I am willing to step on one of them and see what happens," said Hakam.

   "If you are going to risk that," said Solisar, "you need to step on the red one first. If Szordrin is correct about the order of colors in the rainbow, that would be the obvious choice. Although, on the other hand, perhaps white symbolizes ice, which would be the first element required to overcome the color red. There are also formally seven colors in a prismatic wall, but only five of the six colors of the sigils match the seven colors said to compose a prismatic wall."

   "True," said Szordrin. "There is no white beam in the wall, for example, to correspond with the four white sigils on the floor."

   "And there are no orange or indigo symbols on the floor," said Solisar. "Perhaps we would need to somehow mix the colors like one mixes pigments in paints."

   "We could summon our friend Krynn and have him run through the rainbow to see what happens," said Belvin, referring to a satyr that he had summoned several times in the past. The others assumed and hoped that he was only joking.

   "I cannot even find a path over the tiles where we would touch each color once in the correct order," said Hakam, "even if they did, in fact, correspond to the colors in the rainbow."

   "Did you consider diagonals?" asked Solisar.

   "If diagonal steps are allowed," said Szordrin, "then blue is the only path that is fully connected over the four rows. I doubt, however, that that is significant."

   "I do not think that I am canny enough to help much," said Sofi, "but why do you think that there is only one yellow sigil, while there are four of all the others? It is also the only one that does not have a triangle within it."

   "I think that it is the final symbol that needs to be stepped on," said Belvin, "but I do not know why it is yellow or lacks a triangle."

   "The purple symbol also does not have any triangle in it," said Leokas, "only two lines that intersect and form an angle. That leaves four symbols with triangles for the four elements."

   "Could these be the symbols for planets? And could the yellow one represent the sun?" asked Hakam. "We know, after all, that Onran was a spelljammer."

   "An interesting idea," said Solisar, "In the field of planetology, scholars classify all planets by the element that corresponds most closely to their makeup. For example, there are fire bodies, water bodies, earth bodies, and air bodies. In Kara-Tur, scholars of wildspace also include plant bodies as a fifth option, because Kara-Turans hold that there are five elements, not four. I do not know which classification Onran would follow, but in Realmspace, this would only be a conflict with how one classifies Garden; is it an earth body? or a plant body? Toril is considered an earth body, while Coliar is considered an air body."

   "How many planets are in our crystal sphere again?" asked Hakam.

   "Eight or nine, because the sun is also counted as a fire body, the only such body in Realmspace. After the sun comes Anadia, an earth body; Coliar; Toril; Karpri and Chandos, both water bodies; Glyth, another earth body; Garden; and lastly H'Catha, a final water body."

   "I do not see how this adds up to a solution," said Belvin.

   "We currently stand on Toril, so perhaps we start there," said Solisar.

   "I want to make sure that I have this right;" said Hakam, "the sequence from the sun is earth, air, earth, water, water, earth, earth or plant, and water, correct?"

   "Correct," said Solisar.

   "So we step on the path through the glyphs that corresponds to that," said Hakam.

   Belvin asked, "Do we start from Toril? from Anadia? from the sun?"

   "That is an open question," said Hakam. "If Onran was following Faerûnian scholarship, then there are four earth bodies, and there are four of each symbol, so that might help us narrow a path down. You would also have to step on two water symbols in a row. I suspect that the two blue symbols in adjacent rows in the middle represent water. If so, knowing that the final planet is also water, the blue symbol in the center of the back row would be the last tile, and if we are supposed to go in reverse, than this tile would be the last." He motioned toward the blue symbol against the north wall in the nearest row.

   "If the yellow symbol represents the sun," said Leokas, "that implies moving toward the center of Realmspace, since it is the final symbol."

   "Going from out to in would have us step on an earth symbol last," said Hakam.

   "If that is true," said Solisar, "then the green symbol could not represent earth, because Anadia is an earth body, and there is no green symbol at all in the final row. That would suggest that the green symbol represents plant and therefore that Onran was using the Kara-Turan classification of planets."

   "But the sun cannot be the yellow symbol," said Leokas, "because Solisar told us that it is a fire body, and the omlar gem is marked with a triangle."

   "There are no triangles in the yellow symbol," said Sofi.

   Hakam sighed. "Perhaps the yellow symbol is not a planet and simply marks the end of the sequence. If that is the case, then this red symbol here is where we start, symbolizing the sun as the fire body, and the blue symbol in the last row is the final water body, and we must connect those two symbols with a path."

   "Earth would be green," said Belvin. "Walking in a straight line, from the red symbol, we would step on green and then white for air."

   "Yes," said Hakam, "but then we would need water next, which we do not have."

   "Unless you can step diagonally," said Belvin.

   "You left out Toril after Coliar," said Solisar. "We need to follow the path red, green, white, green."

   Hakam pointed out a path, "Red, green, white, green, blue, blue, green...." The path had led him backwards, and now he was blocked by tiles already mentally crossed. "Oh, but if you are allowed to reuse tiles, you can step forward again onto that green tile in the center: green for Garden and then water and then the yellow symbol at the end."

   "So we are ignoring plant as an option again," said Belvin.

   "There are five runes," said Solisar.

   "...Which does suggest five elements and not four," said Hakam. "So, one would assume that one of them is plant, but maybe it is simply a decoy. Perhaps Onran knew that most people stumbling upon his puzzle would be from Wa and confused by the five symbols, expecting there to be five elements when there are not."

   "What does the yellow symbol represent?" asked Sofi.

   "What is beyond the last planet?" asked Hakam.

   "The crystal sphere itself," said Solisar, "and beyond that the phlogiston, within which all the crystal spheres in the Material Plane float. Now that you bring it up, the phlogiston is also called the 'rainbow ocean' because its substance is usually described as multicolored. I do not know why I did not think of this at first."

   "So, the yellow symbol represents the crystal sphere," said Hakam, "and beyond that is our rainbow ocean. This means that we have the directionality solved. I am willing to give our path a try."

   But they began to second guess themselves. "Is there an alternative path that does not involved stepping on the center green symbol twice, without making a loop?"

   No one could see such a path, even using diagonals.

   "And why are we assuming that white is air?" asked Solisar.

   "If purple is air, I cannot see any solution, even if diagonals are allowed," said Hakam.

   "Purple does not have a triangle," said Solisar.

   "And what about plant?" asked Belvin.

   "I thought that we had agreed that Onran was not using plant," said Solisar. "If so, I think that we would need to touch all four of the green symbols."

   "That is not possible," said Hakam. "It is impossible to solve unless we are allowed to reuse the symbols."

   Still, they were too nervous about testing the theory, afraid of the consequences if they were wrong.

   "Was there no book of alchemy in the other room that might help us?" asked Hakam.

   "Yes, there was," said Szordrin. "I do not know why we did not consult it." He quickly retrieved it from one of the side rooms. Leafing through it, it did not take long to find examples of each of the symbols of the four elements. They did not match the symbols on the floor exactly, but they soon confirmed that fire and air used upright triangles, while water and earth used inverted ones. "Nothing here disagrees with our assumptions thus far about the symbols; fire is red, air is white, water is blue, and earth is green. Purple is perhaps plant, or it is something else altogether."

   "Are there no circles in the book?" asked Hakam.

   The tiefling wizard could find none.

   "The combination of the circles with the triangles is probably used to indicate that these are planetary glyphs, not simply elemental glyphs," said Solisar.

   They paused to think through their options again.

   "We forgot the Tears of Selûne," said Solisar.

   "Does that not count as orbiting Toril?" said Szordrin.

   "True," said Solisar, "like Selûne."

   While they were debating the path, Kytharrah was growing ever more bored and confused by what they were talking about. The red symbol looked fun, so he stepped onto it.

   "Kytharrah, no!" shouted Sofi, but it was too late.

   However, nothing at all noticeable happened — no sound, no sensation, no shimmer in the magical auras, nor change in the colors of the prismatic wall.

   "Step back, minotaur," said Hakam. Kytharrah obeyed. Hakam then took the path that he had first proposed, three symbols forward, starting with the red one, then three to the north, one to the east, one south, and then three to the west to reach the yellow sigil. He recited the order of the planets with each step, while the others watched anxiously. "Fire, earth, air, earth, two waters, two earths, one more water, crystal sphere."

   Instantly, the prismatic wall vanished into nothing.
Session: 128th Game Session - Monday, Jan 25 2021 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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