The_ Bright Star_ is sixty ship days out from Refuge; where she parted ways with the other vessels of the World Navy. Aboard is Admiral Mozdanhorzon, Ismek (still adjusting to the new “maturity”), Arturus (who spends much of his time sleeping on the bridge), Aika Coppergate (who has now begun a sexual relationship with Brother Joshua, who is also aboard ship), and Goh, who is now showing some early signs of her pregnancy (a fact which has become generally known amongst the crew). The Bright Star is bound for Spirespace, which Moz is hoping to visit once more before comitting more fully to his duties as Admiral of the World Navy (though he is likely to try to recruit his ‘brothers’ – Olias, Mesrothsenes, and Dale, even though he doubts they’ll take him up on it.)
About halfway there and making very very good time, the Bright Star informs the Admiral that she will need to set down on an Earthbody soon to recover water and nutrients and then “sun” herself. Given a choice of traveling to Grayspace or Krynnspace, Moz directs her to Grayspace, where they picked up Gnimish originally. Some four hours after entering the crystal sphere, the ship clears the grinder and approaches Oerth, taking a long scenic approach round the two moons.
Moz suggests landing to the west of where they had picked up Gnimish on the basis of there being less habitation – he’s looking to negate any possible surprises. Nonetheless both Ismek and Arturus are expressing their need to be dirtside for a bit – both of them miss “sky”. It’s decided everyone will put down for the duration (Bright Star herself suggests that the stopover will last about two days). The ship sets down in the Northwestern Flanness and the crew disembarks. It’s night time here, the moon is full, and they are in the midst of a forest (though within a substantial clearing). The crew, as one, opt to camp outside in the ship’s shadow.
Each of them have disturbing dreams and nightmares – in Moz’s case, he dreams that the party wakes in the foyer of the Amber Mansion – a memory from so very long ago. Waking from that, and the disorientation that it causes, he begins the process of waking the rest of the crew – when an earsplitting high pitched whine and shower of colour wakes everyone. A gate or portal of some kind is opening only dozens of feet away.
The group scrambles into alertness – to be greeted by what appears to be Father Au emerging from the portal. Moz telepathically confers with the Bright Star and asks her to confirm the new arrival’s identity. Having done so, he relaxes somewhat.
In uncharacteristically short and choppy sentences, the High Priest of Barnatím explains that one of the High Priestesses of the Sunlighter has been taken by visions and portents most dire. Specifically, that during a routine inspection of the Great Gate of Oryton Ilfandra was captured by the Demon Prince, Graz’zt. She is believed held somewhere in his triple realm in the Abyss. Further, he explains that the Demon Prince will be expecting retaliation and will most assuredly be watching for rescuers that approach in any typical manner. It is commonly accepted among the higher echelons of the churches of Tinris that an approach that uses the Infinite Staircase – a dimension and planar transcendental path of transit – might allow rescuers to enter the Abyss unnoticed.
Grimly, Moz makes the command decision to go after the godddess. Obviously the _Bright Star _can’t and won’t be coming with them, so he leaves Brother Joshua command of the ship and bid him to take it back to Tinris. He, and presumably Aika (who has recently been appointed the Ilfandra’s personal champion) will be riding on the Abyss. Everyone else is only coming on a volunteer basis…save for Goh. Moz explains that he’s not normally fond of such acts of chauvanism but bringing a pregnancy into the Infinite Layers of the Abyss is just asking for trouble (he sites tales of the unborn becoming possessed and ripping their way free). Thus, Arturus (who has no desire to go sit on the ship for another several months), and Ismek will be accompanying them as well. Whilst discussion ensues regarding how best to find the Infinite Staircase in Grayhawk City, Moz travels up to his room to gather the remainder of his gear. He gives the Bright Star very specific instructions to interrogate anyone that comes back claiming to be him and then, in a flash of insight, approaches the Mirror acquired in the Tower of Arvana Sanys to duplicate himself for the next twenty four hours.
Approaching the mirror he speaks the command word and…is somewhere else. A wood paneled study with various collectibles scattered haphazardly across the room. A room with six doors out. A room that he has found himself in twice before. Dungeonland.
Meanwhile, a panicked Bright Star telepathically informs the crew that her Captain is gone! The crew rushes aboard ship, led by Aika, asking questions and being informed as to what has transpired. The dryad avatar of the Bright Star manifests in his room and duplicates what precisely he did…
Moz checks his memory and tries to reason through what has happened. His dream now seems to be taking on a symbolic – possibly prescient – quality. The Abyss and now he’s back here after all this time. Could, he wonders, some old enemy be coming after him? The realization begins to sink in that the missing page from Arvana Sanys’ apotheotic book was sent to the Abyss and this sets him wondering if this has all been set into motion by their actions.
...and the crew, Brother Joshua, Goh, Aika, Ismek, and Arturus flip over into the room that Mozdanhorzon now occupies. Moz immediately begins barking out commands and in general not being very forthcoming with information. They move through the next two rooms, a dining room and then a kitchen of some form – thus confirming, to Moz at least – that they are where he thinks they are, whereupon he announces “Welcome to Dungeonland!”