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The Olympian Conspiracy

by Kit Navarro

Part I: One Valerias Too Many...
Where the Immortal Valerias discovers the lustful plot of Eiryndul and shames the beauteous Initiate Kythria

In his golden brilliance, Ixion the Sun-Prince grandly paraded through the Dome of Energy on Pandius. All the gathered Immortals of Energy yielded in instinctive deference-if not sincere obeisance-to the reigning Hierarch of the Sphere of Energy.

The ofttimes chaotic Immortals of Energy were silenced when Ixion passed them. It was not just because of his beaming smile or his radiant godhead. But also, the Immortals were greeted by the wafting of the most pleasant and sensuous of fragrances, reminiscent of the heady odour of fully blossomed roses basking in the heat of the summer sun. For at Ixion's side was his mate, the Immortal Valerias, the Patroness of Romance, Passion, and Beauty.

Valerias had a mien and demeanour as regal as the Sun-Prince's. She was arguably the most beautiful of Immortals on Pandius, and undoubtedly one of the most powerful. A full-fledged Hierarch from the Sphere of Matter, Valerias was perhaps the only Immortal of the rival spheres who regularly graced the Dome of Energy without comment from the otherwise outspoken, hot-tempered Immortals of Energy. Valerias liked to believe that this was because her divine beauty had a universal appeal, that the love of all beings for her Immortal being was boundless. But Valerias knew her own power and rank in Pandius-and her association with the ruling Hierarch of Energy-had much to do with the warmth of the welcome of those Immortal halls.

Ixion and his consort continued their promenade. To his admirers, the Sun-Prince beamed his radiant smile. To his constituents, he nodded his handsome head haloed in flames. To his allies, he would offer a blazing outstretched hand in the warmest of handshakes. But all of a sudden, his golden-skinned perfectly sculpted muscular arm was jerked back almost violently, when Valerias had stopped dead in her tracks and pulled him back. Ixion turned back at his mate, who was rigid where she stood, her entire form crimson with rage, as deep as a rose that was her sacred flower, her eyes transfixed on an Immortal of Energy curtsying before her.

The Immortal was a female, lithe in build and blithe in movement. Her head was crowned by a wreath of rainbow-coloured hibiscus blossoms and was bowed down deeply, revealing only hints of her beauteous features. Her shiny black hair was reminiscent of volcanic obsidian glass, and the tresses flowed down the sides of her hidden face onto supple shoulders of smooth coconut-brown skin. A lei of tropical flowers ringed her delicate neck and draped down onto her otherwise exposed and full bosom. Her loose short skirt, patterned with orchid designs, tied at the waist, and gently dancing to an illusory salty sea breeze, was the only true piece of clothing of this Immortal island beauty.

Though Valerias had never before laid her eyes open this particular Immortal of Energy in the great halls of Pandius, in her Immortal mind, Valerias recognised Kythria for who she was at that moment and from her life before.

* * *

As a mortal, Kythria was the most celebrated beauty of the Makai natives and her legend had spread all across the Known World. Those who journeyed far to her island home in Ierendi discovered the accounts of her beauty were agonisingly lacking. However, they deemed their mortal lives were inestimably blessed when they felt firsthand her grace, her charm, her zest for live, and her boundless love. It came as no surprise that Kythria was also a priestess of the beauteous Patroness of Romance and Passion, known as Faumea by the Makai, Valalahe by the ancient Minrothad and other island tribes, Erzuli by the Pearl Islanders, and Valerias by the rest of the Known World. In fact, Kythria was so devoted to her Patroness that she began on the Path to Immortality with Valerias as her sponsor.

Unfortunately for Kythria, her ultimate undoing was in becoming too much like Valerias-and perhaps in some ways outdoing Valerias in her own games! The reigning Patroness of Passion and Romance became envious of her future rival, and she easily found fault in her mortal petitioner, cruelly and ultimately putting an end to Kythria's quest for Immortality. That was the last that Valerias heard of her former disciple-until this momentous encounter in Pandius.

* * *

The all-seeing Prince of the Sun saw the utter shock and impassioned rage, the unbridled jealousy and fathomless betrayal in the face of his beautiful lover. In Ixion's Immortal mind, he could already read the explosions of protests, vituperation, indignation, and supplications boiling in Valerias' heart. But as steadily as the noonday sun, Ixion calmly stated: "It was not I who sponsored her into our Sphere."

Valerias knew that Ixion, the beau ideal of light, truth, and good, could never lie-and more importantly, Ixion, her steadfast lover and one true love, would never lie to her. But nevertheless Valerias could not accept this grave insult of fate and she turned her attentions back once more to her former worshipper.

Kythria had risen from her bow though she kept her face hidden behind the silky curtain of her long bangs. She had begun weeping in silent heaving sobs-sobs that could break the hearts of mortal men and could easily enthral the hearts of the punier Immortal men. Already, some of the lesser Immortals of Energy had begun to move towards Kythria to comfort her, including the motherly Patura and the brutish Bemarris. But behind Kythria, lovingly holding onto her flawless brown shoulders, emerged an Immortal that Valerias recognised instantly-and that recognition filled Valerias with the utmost disdain and chagrin.

It was Eiryndul, that tricky elf Immortal, whose face looked over the shoulders of his beautiful protégé and smiled at Valerias directly, with impishness, impunity, and impertinence! Eiryndul's expression was the mix of a lusty teenage boy on his first romantic escapade and a lecherous old man who had finally quenched a long illicit desire.

Valerias stared down the wily Eiryndul. And Eiryndul stared back at Valerias, defiantly and triumphantly. (After all, how many mortals had desired to glimpse what he was seeing!) And at that moment, Valerias realised the author of this Immortal conspiracy!

Eiryndul had long desired Valerias, but for all his wiles and Immortal guile, he could never have her. And now, with Kythria, this snivelling yet sultry, pathetic pile of pulchritude, this facsimile of Valerias, Eiryndul found a way to be with her...

Part II: Initiates Intrigue
Where the Immortals Turmis, Kythria, Patura, and Taroyas plot to tap a secret source of Immortal power

"Come on, my pretty, that's the same problem with me and Asterius! I mean, the only Immortal that thieves ever know is him! Because he promotes theft and greed, that's why! No one ever wants to be a thief for the skill of it anymore! They just want the money! No one knows Turmis the Clever, Turmis the Deft and Adept!"

The Immortal Turmis looked longingly at the beauteous Kythria, hoping his humour could allay her pain. Instead, Kythria shied away to be comforted by Patura, a motherly Immortal of Energy, who in turn gave Turmis a stern protective glance.

The usually witty Turmis turned away, sighing "I can't get anywhere with Asterius, and you with Valerias! This Immortal life stinks!"

Buried in the bosom of Patura, Kythria gave a muffled but heartfelt sob. Kythria's despair seemed infectious, as even the regal Patura began to shed a tear in her eye.

"One would think," said Patura, in the grave tones of a matriarch, "that the lot of women would improve among the ranks of the Immortals. But the way that Rathanos ridiculed Kythria... the way he laughed... That chauvinist will pay someday!"

Turmis glimpsed Patura's stately fingers balled into a shaking fist, and tried to imagine what divine fury was burning in Patura's Immortal soul. Turmis had made her acquaintance through the fact that they were both Thyatian in their mortal lives, but their similarities ended there.

* * *

Patura was once a Thyatian queen, who deeply lamented the suffering of women in her mortal culture and throughout the Known World. As an Immortal, Patura was majestic and noble, but she could also be nurturing and maternal, particularly to women.

And yet, as Turmis later discovered, Patura had a dark side-that once lured her onto the Path of Entropy, so the rumour goes-a bitter, vengeful streak against sexism, male domination, oppressive patriarchy, and masculine powers in general.

Turmis found it ironic how Patura could react so fiercely against the prejudice of the Immortal chauvinist Rathanos, but be totally blind-sided as to Valerias' role in the humiliation of poor, beautiful Kythria.

But perhaps what was even more ironic was how the zealous Patura had chosen for her mate the laconic (almost boring) Taroyas, an Immortal from the Sphere of Time.

All this time, Taroyas had sat silently beside Patura, like an imperious statue or a sovereign enthroned. He and Patura made a regal couple, despite being mere Initiates among the ranks of the Immortals. In fact, both of them were royal personages in their mortal lives. However, Taroyas was once a Milenian, an ancient civilisation that rivalled the Thyatians, but like them, were a patriarchal society that greatly prejudiced womankind.

* * *

As if reading Turmis' mind, Taroyas turned his towards the Immortal thief and met his eyes. Quick to hide the culpability of his thoughts, Turmis unsheathed his silver tongue and said glibly, "And what does his royal eternalness Taroyas have to say of all of this?"

Taroyas smiled, with no offence or malice, but rather with the poignancy that only the Immortals of Time can evoke.

He replied, "The Sphere of Time grants wisdom that is eternal and timeless, and the Immortals of Time uphold the traditions of this wisdom, sometimes to the very detriment of the Immortals themselves..."

"By my own fleet feet!" cried Turmis, slapping his forehead, "He speaks like one of them! What did he mean by..."

Ignoring Turmis, Patura spoke to her mate directly, "There must be a way to change this, Taroyas! If you opine that the leadership of your Sphere is too archaic and stodgy, why cannot you take action to rectify it?"

"It is not in my power as a mere Initiate in the Sphe-"

"Well, hey, Taroyas, what if we could get more power?" interrupted Turmis, "I mean, what if we could tap into another source of power beyond the reach of the Hierarchs? Then we could show the Asteriuses and Valeriases of Pandius how we want things to be run then!"

Taroyas was staring wide-eyed at Turmis. Turmis thought Taroyas was awed by the brilliance of his ideas. (Turmis after all belonged to the Sphere of Thought!) In truth, Taroyas was shocked as no one-not in his past mortal life nor in this Immortal one-has ever interrupted his speaking before!

Patura too was surprised by Turmis, but she was equally intrigued by Turmis' ideas. Even Kythria had paused from her Immortal anguish to listen to Turmis' proposal.

"What do you mean, Turmis?" asked Patura, like she was scolding a little boy who had spoken too indiscreetly of a delicate truth.

"Yes, tell us," chimed in Kythria, with a voice that sent tingles up Turmis' spine.

Emboldened, Turmis blurted out, "Well, I mean, we should let Taroyas explain it really! I mean, after all, he's the one with the access to the Mandala of Myth!"

Part III: The Chamber of the Mandala
Where the Immortal conspirators tap into the Mandala of Myth and fashion themselves into the Olympian gods from the Dimension of Myth

Somewhere in the vast emptiness of the Outer Planes, far beyond the sensing of all but the greatest of Immortal Hierarchs, lies a curious pocket plane. By some inexplicable Immortal power, the plane has a material existence that has been shrouded, such that the very idea of it remains unfathomable and undetectable. It neither radiates any Energy nor vibrates to any rhythms of Time. The plane does even evidence any decay of Entropy. From the outside, the plane has the exact dimensions of a perfect cube, down to the last iota of its essence, and its interior is utterly inscrutable. This is the Chamber of the Manadala.

The inside of the plane is a single spacious chamber, much like the meditation rooms of the Sindhi rishiyas on Mystara. Unlike its counterparts on the Prime, the three dimensions of this space are equal and alike, such that floor, ceiling and wall are identical and interchangeable. And at its centre is the exotic artifact that gives this secret plane its name: the Mandala of Myth.

By order Solarios, Nyx, Noumena, Djaea and Khoronus, five great Immortals who make up of the Council of Intrusion, three Immortals at a time occupy this chamber, one occupying each dimension, and from these vantage points, they vigilantly watch the Mandala-a perfect sphere composed of infinitesimal grains of sands, in a multitude of scintillating colours, continuously shifting and swirling, sometimes in an ordered geometry, sometimes in random chaos. What these lesser Immortals watch out for, no one knows, but these Guardians of the Mandala keep their observations an utter secret to all but the Council of Intrusion. They must not even share their discoveries from each other. And yet, at this point in time, the silence is broken by the least likely of the Guardians...

* * *

"Where is he? Why has Brissard not yet come for his watch?" said the female Immortal standing guard in the Chamber of the Mandala.

"You have somewhere to go, Lokena? Or are you just tired already?" piped up a second Immortal, who stood perpendicularly to the first one, off the ground and defying a gravity nonexistent in this plane.

Lokena craned her neck awkwardly to look at him. Rather than respond to the taunts of the gruff Immortal, she thought it better to hold her tongue. Her tormentor however did not have as much self-restraint.

"If you don't have what it takes, Lokena, you just better quit and leave the job to those of us with true power!" jeered Bemarris, the belligerent Immortal from the Sphere of Energy.

"Hush, my friends. Hush. Let us focus on the task at hand," said a third Immortal in a soothing and lilting voice. All-Seeing Palson, as he is sometimes called, took the form of a handsome young man with intense eyes that blazed with a blue-white flame. In reference to the two, Palson stood at another impossible angle that would disorient even the most enlightened of Sindhi yogis. But his gaze was intently fixed upon the Mandala of Myth floating in the middle of the three Guardians.

"Harumph!" sounded Lokena, with a malicious smirk, "at least, some of us can speak and watch the shifting sands at the same time..."

A beat later, Bemarris shook his head, as he realised that he had just been insulted by the Initiate from the Sphere of Matter.

Boisterously, he cried, "Did you just insult me? Are you looking for a fight?"

Lokena turned her gaze from scrying the Mandala, in time to see Bemarris leave his spot and step upon the wall that was Lokena's flooring. She took a defensive stance and began to back away (towards her wall that served as Palson's floor), when she sensed the opening of the planar wormhole that was the only access to the Chamber of the Mandala.

Lokena was startled however that who emerged before her was not her replacement for the next watch-Brissard, a smooth-talking but thoroughly unreliable Initiate from the Sphere of Entropy-but instead the other Immortal who she had just replaced the watch before.

"Taroyas!" she cried out in surprise, though there was no hint of alarm in the saturnine old face of the Immortal.

And at the same moment that Lokena realised just how irregular it was for an Immortal from the Sphere of Time (even a mere Initiate) to be off schedule, Lokena was further shocked when she saw that Taroyas did not arrive alone.

Standing behind Taroyas were three other Immortal beings: a wiry young man, a gorgeous woman of obsidian hair and sun-browned skin, and a proud queenly matron, who Lokena recognised as Taroyas' mate, Patura.

"Taroyas! You... You should not... They should not..." stammered Lokena, at the same time thinking how curious it is for her, such a wise and skilled Immortal to stammer.

And in her wise and skilled mind, Lokena realised that only she had expressed any distress at the forbidden arrival of these other Immortal to the Chamber of the Mandala-a misdeed that will surely warrant punishment from the Council of Intrusion! With a quick glance towards Bemarris, and another towards Palson-who had taken his place with Taroyas, his eyes no longer vigilant upon the patterns of the Mandala, but now lovingly gazing upon the Immortal tropical beauty-Lokena realised that all the rest are part of this grand conspiracy!

"You have two choices in this matter, Lokena..." Taroyas declared like royal decree. "Stand with us... or stand aside."

* * *

Lokena took her place on one of the six floors or walls that bordered the Mandala of Myth. One each of the other walls or floods stood one of the other Guardians of the Mandala and their conspirators, except for the one platform shared by Taroyas and his mate Patura. Lokena noted how tightly the latter was clutching the hand of her mate, and Lokena wondered, if the otherwise stately and regal Patura was doing so to encourage Taroyas-or perhaps to stop him.

Whatever the truth behind it, Taroyas had already released his lover's grip and levitated himself off his floor, arms raised above him and hands reaching towards the Mandala of Myth. Ever so slowly, Taroyas' fingertips touched the globe, and then his fingers began to sink gently into the shifting sands... and nothing else happened.

"We are not allowed to touch the Mandala," Lokena stated unemotionally, knowing that her reminders would fall on deaf ears.

"Indeed, Lokena, we were prohibited to use faculties besides our vision..." said Taroyas, "but we know that using our senses is not the key to unlocking the Mandala's secrets. Remember Brissard?"

The name suddenly reminded Lokena that not all of the appointed Guardians of the Mandala were present. The one from the Sphere of Entropy, the one who was most remiss in his duties, and up to that time the one Lokena considered the most untrustworthy of the Guardians, was the only one absent in this grand conspiracy! Lokena also remembered the one occasion, when she, Taroyas, and Brissard were standing watch over the Mandala, and Brissard-out of mischievous curiosity or perhaps more malicious intents-had experimented with his sense of hearing, smell, taste, touch, and then all the senses together, upon the Mandala of Myth, all to no effect.

Taroyas had his arms buried in the sands of the Mandala up to the elbows as he said, "It is not the senses... that reveal the Mandala's secrets... but the dimensions..."

Lokena was not the only one to be shocked at this revelation, but she was the only one who understood what it meant, when Taroyas began incanting a spell that would tap the true powers of the Mandala.

"Being in one dimension, one cannot know distance... Knowing in two dimensions, one cannot see space... Seeing in three dimensions, one cannot sense time...

Sensing in four dimensions... Sensing in four dimensions..."

At this point, Taroyas became disembodied, and his Immortal essence, in the shape of a transparent swirling ball became united with the Mandala of Myth.

"Taroyas!" cried Patura, as she looked up at from her vantage point upon the Mandala. There was no trace of her Immortal mate, and the sands of the Mandala were churning rapidly and chaotically.

Then after what seemed an eternity, the coloured sands of the Mandala revealed the face of Taroyas on all sides. In the minds of the six Immortals, they sensed Taroyas compelling them what to do next. And from all sides of the Chamber, the six Immortal conspirators levitated from the floors towards the Mandala of Myth, and began chanting.

* * *

Through the Mandala of Myth, the seven Immortals could sense and explore every aspect of a wondrous world called Laterre. Each realm of Laterre held lands and cultures to those similar to Mystara, and though not as magical, the world held a power of mythical proportions. In their quest for divine power, the seven Immortals were drawn to the region of Olympia in the country called Hellenia. Atop its highest, cloud-covered peaks lived a pantheon of deities with powers that rivalled most Immortals on Pandius.

Through the mystical magic of the Mandala, the Immortals felt this divine energy surge within them and merge with their own, clothing them in astonishing godlike power. Taroyas proudly took on the Immortal raiment of the almighty Zeus, leader of the pantheon, ruler of Olympus, divine father of mortals and immortals alike. His mate Patura took on the identity of Hera, the consort of Zeus, Queen of Heaven and Protectress of Women, Wives, and Mothers. Kythria fashioned herself into the most beautiful Olympian, the lovely Aphrodite, and warlike Bemarris became the bloodthirsty Ares. Palson was fascinated by the golden Apollo, more brilliant and multitalented, and more admired than he had ever been in Pandius! And even Lokena, who was hesitant at first, was seduced by the imago of Athena, the wise Patroness of Crafts and Warfare.

Glowing, crackling, booming, and blazing with their newfound power, the seven Olympians made their way to Mystara to show the world the glory and wrath of their new godhood...

Part IV: Nightwhisper
Where the Immortals Talitha, Orcus, and the Hierarch Nyx reveal the secret plot of the Sphere of Entropy that will lead to the Wrath of Olympus

The Immortal Talitha had carefully followed the instructions from the reigning Hierarch of Entropy. Starting from the Plane of Pyts, the principal plane of the Sphere of Entropy, Talitha traversed each deadly wormhole, braved each treacherous vortex, and entered each lethal Outer Plane that should eventually lead to this secret rendezvous with the Immortal Hierarch. But Talitha had never before set presence in this plane before, so she could not be sure if she was in the right plane or not.

Talitha wondered if this was in fact the Plane of Necros, the Home Plane of Nyx. With all her Immortal faculties, Talitha could sense nothing but emptiness in the realm of absolute darkness and utter silence. Even with her supernatural powers as an Immortal thief, Talitha could not feel anything tactilely or pick up the slightest whiff of existence.

Then in an instant, when her Immortal senses were at their height, Talitha was suddenly deluged with the dark negative energy of a jillion undead creatures. The sheer horror and sickening death that Talitha felt was indescribable. An Immortal of lesser status would have perished instantly.

Finally, two Immortal powers let their presence be known to Talitha.

The first Talitha recognised immediately by the spiralling ram horns, and she proceeded to greet him with insincere cordiality.

"Milord Orcus, Black Prince of Demons, Lord of Darkness, Master of the Dead..."

Talitha gave an exaggerated kowtow, putting her face within kissing distance to those blood-soaked cloven hooves. After all, for all the schemes of destruction that she and the Immortal demon had worked together on, Talitha felt she had earned the familiarity with her fellow Eternal of Entropy.

The presence of the second Immortal brought Talitha to upright attention and the proper norms of formality. Although the Immortal appeared as a frail old man, bald, bearded, but wizened with age, the Hierarch Nyx could not hide his true nature and awesome dark power.

"Dispense with the false formalities, Talitha," commanded Nyx with a dismissive wave of a thin, veined hand.

Talitha nodded, carefully.

"Has your agent succeeded?"

Talitha, a lump in her throat, replied, "Aye, milord, my follower Brissard reports that seven Immortals from the other sphere have been seduced by the powers of the Manda-"

"Do not name the artifact!" scolded the old man Nyx. "Even here, in the vast emptiness, we may be overheard."

"My utmost apologies, your darkness..."

Orcus grunted.

Nyx was expressionless, apparently lost in thought.

Talitha did not know if she was forgiven, or not.

"Seven, you say... Who are these Immortals?"

"The four other Guardians of your... the artifact... two more from Energy and one Initiate from Thought."

Nyx gave a thin smile, lips hardly upturned, like the slightest sliver of silver from a crescent moon shadowed by darkness.

"And what Laterran pantheon did they choose? Cathayan? Kaelic?"

"Hellenian, milord Hierarch."

"Ah..." Nyx said, almost unimpressed, "but, of course..."

Talitha knew he was pleased.

"The next part of our plan shall proceed."

Nyx nodded to Orcus, and The Goat disappeared in an inferno of magical flames smelling of burning flesh.

He then nodded to Talitha, and instructed, "Tell Masauwu to ready our new candidates, in time for... the Wrath of Olympus!"

Nyx began to laugh, a deep villainous bellow that shook the darkness, the surrounding silence, the very firmament of the Outer Plane in which they existed.

Talitha made her exit, as swift and shadowy as a thief in the night, like in her mortal life as a rogue in Alphatia.

* * *

In her home plane of Necros, the Immortal Nyx had shifted into her more comfortable form-that of a seductive, exotic vampiress in flowing, night-black silk gowns. Talitha's reminiscences of her mortal life and the mention of the Mandala of Myth made Nyx wax nostalgic of her own origins. But the Hierarch of Entropy was so ancient and her mortal life was so far away and forgotten that recollecting remembering her memories was like viewing the life of a different person altogether.

Nyx saw a mysterious oriental princess, a queen with nut-coloured skin, an empress of otherworldly beauty. She was remembering names with meanings long lost to her... Hind... Cathay... Saracenia... Taprobane... Shangri-La... Sharvari. She saw an endless army of undead creatures and evil minions, and a vast nation of death, an entire empire of darkness, and a whole world of Entropy.

Epilogue: A Rendezvous at Latinium
Where the ancient god Saturnus meets one long thought dead, and rumblings on Laterre alert the Immortals on Pandius

Beneath the Capitoline hills, in the province of Latinium, hobbled the old and ancient god Saturnus with his slow and deliberate gait. It was the harvest season in this part of the world, and as the great god walked past, he could hear the grateful prayers of the peasants and farmers who received their just rewards of their labours. But the serious and surly god of rewards and returns was also gravely irked by the sounds of merriment and festivity, especially from the indolent who merely idled away their time but reaped where they did not sow. They feasted exuberantly, more so than those who deserved the bounties of the earth, and often with music, laughter, and wine.

"It is the fault of that impudent and decadent godling Bacchus..." Saturnus grumbled to himself, causing the earth in Latinium to tremble and quake, silencing the revellers for a few tense moments, until-seeing that no greater catastrophe had befallen other than a few spilled amphorae and a few loosen roof tiles-they resumed their merrymaking and their drink.

As the festive music began to rise in Saturn's ancient ears, so too did a strange tune from the open countryside, a melody piped out by sheepherders in the hills. But an early winter wind was already chilling the air in this late autumn day, and neither sheep nor goat nor herder could be out in the pastures. With a slow and steady gait, Saturnus followed the sounds of the syrinx to a small knoll, shaded by a thick copse, where he saw a satyr upon a rock, wistfully playing out the eerie song.

Saturnus recognised the spark of divinity in this particular beast, and called out its name: "Lupercus!"

"Well met, old and ancient friend of the earth!" said the half-man, half-goat creature, with a familiarity that only he (besides perhaps that insolent Bacchus) would employ in greeting a god from the olden days.

"I had heard..." began Saturnus, leaning on his heavy staff of lead, "that you were dead..."

The wild god of shepherds and fauns was taken aback at this remark. Not only was it absurd for an immortal to be dead, but it was unheard of for the great and solemn god Saturnus to be fooled by untruths-or worse, speak an untruth himself! Then again, the goat-god thought, Saturnus was merely stating the fact of what he had heard...

Seeing Lupercus sufficiently intrigued, Saturnus continued his testimony:

"It was from one Thamus, a sailor from the Land of the Pharaohs, that the rumour came upon our shores. Sailing by way of the island of Paxos, he said he had heard divine voices across the seas, crying out in lamentation: Thamus Pan-megas Tethnece! Thamus Pan-megas Tethnece! Thamus, Great Pan is Dead!"

"Well, milord Saturnus, it should be quite clear to you that the truth of the matter is quite the contrary!"

"Indeed..." mused the ancient god, "Indeed... But, you have been gone a long time... even for one such as me..."

"Aye, milord!" replied the wild god without ado, "I have been travelling!"

Lupercus (or Pan, as the Hellenians called him) was quite prepared with this response, and saw the immediate effect on Saturnus in the form of a stern distasteful look. Lupercus had rightly predicted that the stodgy old god of time and tradition would be averse to discuss his exciting odysseys in new lands, new realms, and even new worlds; thus he could keep secret his travels to one particular world, a mystical nexus of magic, located in an alternate dimension and watched over by similar immortal beings of godlike powers.

"But..." mused Saturnus, "You are not here to make idle talk with a grumpy old god..."

It was more an interrogation than a mere statement. Saturnus, a god of judgment and punishment, could never be deceived or outwitted, even by one such as Lupercus, and the god of pastures and wild things knew this well.

"Nay, wise and ancient one, there is trouble afoot! Chaos threatens!"

Saturnus gave a disconcerted look at Lupercus. Chaos was the one thing Saturnus hated most, but was one thing that Lupercus understood passionately.

And almost at the same time the very word was mentioned, the two gods of the earth sensed it-a distant rumbling of divine power far to the east, in the land of Hellenia.

"That was not Jupiter playing with his thunder bolts again, was it?"

"Nay..." said Saturnus ominously, "Something comes to our world..."

* * *

Something indeed was coming into the world of Laterre-a powerful energy or else beings of godlike powers. The source of chaos high above the skies of Hellenia, over the mountainous regions of Olympia.

When Lupercus arrived at the scene, he recognised a familiar signature to the energy: it was coming from the Multiverse Dimension, where he had just spent the past few millennia, watching over his affairs in the world called Mystara.

"Terra was right to have sent me!" he said to himself.

Many Immortals of Pandius misjudged the Immortal Terra, supposing her stubborn and single-minded in her thinking, as fixed and as rigid as the earth that was her element (not unlike the ancient god Saturnus). But these Immortals from the other Spheres cannot fathom that the Hierarch of Matter has a wisdom, which allows her to see the order of the universe, to plot patterns in seeming chaos, and in this case, to predict from little hints, vague hunches, and random titbits a correct and inevitable outcome of things to come.

"At the very least," mused the wild Lupercus, "she was smart enough to send me to deal with the chaos!"

* * *

When the Immortal Faunus jumped into the dimensional wormhole leading into to the Multiverse Dimension, his immortal being became suffuse with a fantastic magical energy that was being drawn from the Dimension of Myth. The power reminded him of his previous existence during the Golden Age of Laterre, when he was worshipped as the great god Pan in Hellenians or the god Lupercus to the Latinians. The power was exhilarating and intoxicating! But Faunus, a creature of chaos and wine, was not one to be so easily drunk, even with divine power of mythical magnitudes.

Keeping his head, Faunus coursed through the wormhole and found himself on Mystara, high atop a mountain in the Broken Lands, overlooking Corunglain in the Republic of Darokin. And upon this mountaintop stood a magnificent palace, Hellenian in design (of Milenian, as the Mystarans would recognise it), Immortal in stature, and within postured seven glorious Immortals, each radiant with the divine energy from the Dimension of Myth.

"Trouble and chaos!" Faunus cursed to himself, amidst the thunderclaps and lighting, "Chaos and trouble when gods walk the earth!"

He scrambled away upon his cloven hooves a safe distance from the palace to avoid detection, before he magically made his way to report to the Immortal Terra.

The Mandala of Myth

Appearance: The Mandala of Myth is not unlike the intricate geometric designs used by the Sindhi and other oriental mystics in their rituals and meditations; but while these mortal mandalas are flat and two-dimensional, this Immortal Mandala has three dimensions, appearing as a perfect globe of a multitude of multicoloured sands. It takes Immortal senses (up to the fourth dimension) to view the ephemeral patterns made by the swirling sands not just on the surface but also within the solid globe. And it takes the cosmic wisdom of the Hierarchs to understand their meaning.

It is rumoured among Immortals that images of the Mandala depict mythological scenes from a world very similar to Mystara, but not exactly...

History: Little is known of the true origins of the Mandala of Myth, and less still has been revealed by the Immortals that vigilantly guard its secrets.

It was Djaea, a Hierarch of Matter, who first discovered the existence of the Mandala of Myth in an empty, uncharted Outer Plane just outside the Dimension of Nightmares. Fearing that the swirling globe of strange images might have originated from the Nightmare Dimension, or worse the Vortex Dimension, Djaea reported it to the Council of Intrusion for investigation.

Solarios (Ixion), Hierarch of Energy, determined that the object was an Immortal artifact of minor powers, but could not ascertain its creator or the source of its energies. Khoronus, Hierarch of Time, discerned that it was older than the memory of most Immortals, but could not divine its exact origin or history. Nyx, Hierarch of Entropy, sensed that the object was not inherently evil or destructive, but could not uncover of its strange, possibly alien secrets. Noumena, Hierarch of Thought, was most intrigued by the artifact and delved greatly into its mystery. He was finally able to deduce that it was merely a mystical scrying device into another dimension, most possibly the Dimension of Myth, and thus named it the Mandala of Myth.

However, Noumena remained unsatisfied with so many unanswered clues about the artifact, and he strongly agreed with Djaea that the Mandala must be kept guarded from the rest of the Immortals until further study was done. The Council shrouded the artifact in a secret pocket plane, which they called the Chamber of the Mandala, and chosen to guard the Mandala were five Immortals from the ranks of new Initiates: Taroyas (Time), Bemarris (Energy), Palson (Thought), Lokena (Matter) and Brissard (Entropy). To maintain the balance of power, three Immortals at a time constantly guarded the Mandala. The Initiate Immortals were not told of the true natures and powers of the Mandala, save for the instructions never to use their Immortal senses on it.

Following the events of the Wrath of Olympus, it may become apparent that the Hierarch Nyx may know more about the Mandala than she has ever revealed. It is believed that Nyx had her mortal origins in the Dimension of Myth, on the world of Laterre among the Hind people, a civilisation very similar to the Sindhi of Mystara. In fact, Nyx herself may have been the creator of the Mandala when she first became an Immortal and came to the Multiverse Dimension.

Powers: The true powers of the Mandala of Myth are a secret of the Council of Intrusion. The truth is that most of the Hierarchs do not know (or are too busy to know) the true extent of its powers. Whether by the manipulations of Nyx or by the alien character of the Mandala itself (coming from the Dimension of Myth), its entropic nature and true level of power cannot be detected or divined using magic from the four other Spheres.

As the wise Noumena deducted, the Mandala of Myth does present visions of the mythological powers of the Dimension of Myth, specifically the world of Laterre, but these images can only be accessed using four dimensions of senses. As evidenced by the events of the Wrath of Olympus, the Mandala is not merely a device for scrying, but may be used to tap into divine or Immortal powers from the Dimension of Myth.

It is likely the Mandala holds more mystical and mythological powers, yet unknown to even the Immortals.