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The Vaults of Pandius

by Shawn Stanley from Threshold Magazine issue 2

On the visible Mystaran moon of Matera, in one of the larger craters facing towards the planet, is a node which leads to a spherical pocket dimension little more than a mile across. Situated therein is the city of Pandius: the City of the Immortals. From inside, the City appears to sit on the surface of the moon, fitting neatly into its crater, looking out over the world below. Within the confines of the City none of the five spheres has dominance, or pre-eminence. A large golden dome commands the centre of the city, a neutral area within which Immortals of any sphere can meet, and surrounding it each sphere has a smaller dome, within which matters of importance to that sphere can be conducted. The outskirts of the city contain many small estates from some of the great and powerful Immortals, as well as some of the minor Immortals who have a more scholarly bent, can stay. What is not immediately apparent from within the city is that the pocket dimension continues underground, filling an area larger than the City above, within which is contained the Vaults of Pandius.

The Vaults of Pandius contain a wealth of information on the world of Mystara, its inhabitants, and history, as well as of the multiverse at large, for the use of any of the Immortals, titans and lesser fiends who pass through the city. Monsters and favoured mortals who may be in the city itself, however, are generally not informed about the Vaults for fear that the temptation to misuse the information contained therein would be too great. The work of the Vaults of Pandius is overseen by a group of Immortals comprised, as of AC 1000, of one member from each sphere: Rad for the Sphere of Energy, Masauwu for the Sphere of Entropy, Ka the Preserver for the Sphere of Matter, Ssu-Ma for the Sphere of Thought, and al-Kalim for the Sphere of Time. This group of immortals, the Council of the Vaults, does not concern itself with the finer details of the running of the Vaults, they see such activity as beneath themthey are merely pleased that the Vaults are being run. For the finer details necessary to ensure the running of the Vaults the Council decided to use dreaming mortals.

Immortals often prefer interacting with their followers whilst those followers are dreaming; they find that their followers are more open to their guidance and suggestions, and that there are less likely to be unforeseen complications - especially if they are there to chastise their followers. Through such exchanges Immortals noticed that the dreaming minds of mortals could often access, process and make connections between complicated and apparently unrelated information in ways that waking mortals were less able, or less willing to do. When this was discussed within the Council of the Vaults an experiment was conducted to see if actual mortal subjects who were asleep and dreaming could be used to help collate and manage the massive amounts of data and information in the Vaults.

Now, the main task of the Council of the Vaults is to choose mortals whose dreaming forms are co-opted into working in the Vaults of Pandius. Each member of the Council chooses a group of 10 mortals who can be used over the period of a month as they become available - that is whilst they are actually asleep and dreaming - to work in the Vaults. While these decisions are usually done randomly, especially to ensure sufficient staff within the Vaults at all times during the day, some Immortals have identified favoured mortals who they keep on reusing because of their efficiency of working in the Vaults, or for some other reason. Some of these mortals have developed specialised tasks for themselves and a hierarchy of activity within the Vaults.

The Dreamers

Lucius Rutilius: Lucius is a Thyatian man from Kerendas who is a painter in his waking life. He is a tall, thin, 48-year-old who is well-tanned from his predilection for painting urban landscapes and the citizens of Kerendas in their everyday lives. He was first randomly chosen by Ssu-Ma in AC 973 and instantly proved to be a perfect organiser and administrator. Over time Ssu-Ma began to select Lucius more often, and during that time Lucius rose to act as the chief librarian in the Vaults, a role which his dreaming self now takes an element of pride in. Now Lucius is an almost permanent feature in the Vaults, consistently being re-chosen to work in the Vaults, and over time Lucius has also tended to sleep, and dream, more often - although the waking Lucius is aware that he is sleeping more often he is not conscious that this is actually a decision of his subconscious. Other dreamers now recognise Lucius and his role in the Vaults, and any new dreamers are brought up to speed. In recent years, the art which Lucius creates in his waking life has started to exhibit elements from his time in the Vaults; some of the portraiture which Lucius paints are not the Kerendan citizens which he observes but are actually other dreamers working in the Vaults, or users of the Vaults, and some of the landscapes are pictures of buildings, or vistas which Lucius has observed whilst in the Vaults. Without comprehending their significance or hidden meaning, Lucius has these paintings available in his studio, where they may be purchased - these paintings could be an ideal hook to any dark, forbidden knowledge; or even give insights into the possible plans and plots which Immortals who are in the Vaults might be working on.

Cabelle Windstreak: Cabelle is a tall, unusually dark-feathered male faenare from the city of Aulrun in the Kingdom of Aeryl. Cabelle was first chosen by Masauwu in AC 995 and has been constantly re-chosen since to work in the Vaults, although none of the other dreamers are particularly sure why; Cabelle is not active in the work of the Vaults, and when noticed he is seen in the company of entropic immortals and lesser fiends apparently helping them with their studies. What is unknown to others is that Cabelle, who has been nicknamed Illwind by many of his fellow dreamers, has been a constant feature in the Vaults, appearing there at all times. The Council is also unaware of this, although al-Kalim and Ssu-Ma do suspect, correctly, that the mortal form of Cabelle is actually deceased.

Jack: The individual known as Jack is one of the most unusual dreamers who has been chosen to work in the Vaults. Jack is a Greaterkin Black Jack [, World In Flames: Black Jacks (by Bruce Heard)] who grew from other discarded Black Jacks created in Glantri. The waking-life Jack now subsists on the outskirts of Glenmoorloch finding his place in the world, and trying not to unduly scare the locals. Jack was first chosen by Ka the Preserver in Eirmont of AC 999, and although he did not prove to be a particular insightful collator of data and information in the Vaults he instantly took on a caretaker role within the Vaults. Although Ka did not re-choose Jack during the month of Kaldmont he is interested in getting him to be a more permanent feature within the Vaults.

Count Urmahid Krinagar: Urmahid is the Count of Skullhorn Pass in Glantri. He was randomly chosen by Ka the Preserver in AC 998 and while he did not know exactly where he was he knew instantly that he was dreaming and that he was somewhere significant. Being an Illusionist/Dream Master of the fourth circle, Urmahid ensured that he returned to the Vaults over the course of the month as often as possible, however Rad, who was conducting research in the Vaults at the time recognised his fellow Glantrian noble and called an extraordinary meeting of the Council. Without divulging any secrets of the Radiance, Rad was able to impress on his fellow council members the danger of continuing the candidature of Urmahid - so the Council took the unprecedented decision of revoking his candidature as a dreamer in the Vaults before the end of the month. Urmahid did not know what had happened, he just realised that one day, regardless of his night-time attempts, that he did not return to the Vaults. Since then Urmahid has been conducting research and experiments to try and find out more about where he was, and how he can get back there. He still does not know the full details of where he was, but he knows that it was a great repository of information, and that it was frequented by beings of great power while he was there ... and what magic-user wouldn't want to return to such a place?