“Kevin, have you seen this ring before?” Jason was pointing at John’s right hand. On his ring finger was a plain silver band, glowing with a faint bluish light.
“No. I don’t think I have.”
Just then, John began to move. He coughed once, and then again, before his eyes fluttered open.
Jason leaned over him. “Are you okay?”
“I… I think so. Where are we?”
Jason sat back and looked around as though he were trying to figure out how to answer. John sat up and followed his gaze, looking for clues.
“The Ethereal Plane,” Kevin finally answered. “You got hit with the dragon’s breath attack. You’ve been out of it for awhile.”
“Matt, why didn’t you do anything?”
“Matt’s not there,” Jason replied. “We haven’t heard from him since we went through the portal.”
John looked at Kevin who nodded. “So what do we do now?”
Jason shrugged. “We were trying to find our way to a portal, but we haven’t gotten anywhere.”
“We have to go back.”
“I said we were trying, but we can’t find an exit.”
“No, we have to go back to the necromancer’s castle. We have to find Matt.”
“Are you crazy?” Jason’s voice began to rise toward hysteria. “We just barely go out alive. You especially.”
“I think John might be right, Jason.”
“Not you too! I thought you wanted to get out of here as much as I did.”
“I do. But I don’t feel right leaving Matt behind.”
“You’re leaving me behind?”
“Matt!” Jason shouted. “Thank God. These two wanted to go back to the necromancer.”
“Matt, where were you?” Kevin asked.
“I… I guess I got a little lost. It’s harder to get around here. But you all seem to be okay.”
“I’m just glad you’re back,” Jason said. “Now you can help us find the entrance to the Plane of Air.”
“Air?” John sounded confused.
“Yeah, we probably wouldn’t survive the other inner planes,” Jason explained. “We can get through Air and find our own Ethereal Plane from there.”
“Oh. Yeah. I guess I forgot how this was supposed to work.”
“Well, you were out for a while,” Kevin reminded him.
“So what are you guys doing?” Matt asked. “How are you going to get to Air?”
“Well, we’re at a curtain, but we can’t tell what… color…” Jason trailed off.
“Turquoise,” Kevin said with surprise. “I swear we couldn’t tell what color it was just a minute ago.”
“Well it’s got a color now.” John looked at the curtain for the first time. “What’s it mean?”
Neither Kevin nor Jason answered. Matt finally spoke up. “On the other side is the Prime Material Plane you just came from. The necromancer.”
“So what color are we looking for?”
“Blue. Air should be blue.”
“Well, let’s get going then.” Kevin and Jason were still staring at the curtain. “What’s wrong with you two?”
Slowly, Jason turned away. “That color wasn’t there before.”
“So how did it change? Why did it change?” Kevin had turned around as well.
“Guys. We’re in a different plane. The rules aren’t the same here. Tell them, Matt.”
“Thank you. It’s always weird here. We’re just not used to seeing it first hand. It’s been Matt’s description before.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Jason conceded.
“Of course I am. Now, which direction do we go?”
“We don’t know,” Kevin said. “We were hoping Matt could tell us if he showed up.”
“I don’t know. I didn’t map out the plane. I just figured the necromancer might use it.”
“Okay… I guess we just start walking and look for blue.”
John started following the curtain. Jason and Kevin fell in behind him. Kevin kept looking at the curtain to make sure they were actually moving. They were. John’s explanation made some sense, but Kevin wasn’t sure. It wasn’t just a change from one weird thing to another. It was like everything had been in stasis, and now it was alive. There had to be some kind of explanation for it, but he couldn’t think of anything.
They traveled without talking for what seemed like hours before Jason broke the silence.
“Yeah? Why can’t we find any blue?”
“It’s a big place. What’s that ring on your finger?”
“What? What ring?”
“On your right hand.”
Kevin stopped puzzling over his mystery to listen to his friends’ conversation.
“Oh that? It’s just my ring of protection. You remember. I got it a couple of adventures ago.”
“Oh yeah…” Jason was trying to think back.
Kevin remembered right away. “No, you didn’t. Rob got the ring.”
“No. Rob got a dagger.”
“Wait. Kevin’s right. Rob is a cleric; he can’t use a dagger. You got the dagger because you said you needed it for backstabbing. It is Rob’s ring.”
“Uh, guys.” Matt’s warning went unnoticed.
“I’m telling you, it’s mine.”
“And I’m saying you stole it from Rob.” Jason sounded angry.
“I didn’t steal it from Rob.”
“Okay, fine, it’s Rob’s, but I didn’t steal it. I picked it up when I found our stuff…”
“GUYS!” Matt’s yell finally got their attention.
Standing about twenty feet away was a dark robed figure. The hood on the robe was up, and only the lower part of the face could be seen. The figure held a long pole in a hand that was little more than skin stretched tightly over bone. The face, too, was gaunt and skeletal. It wore the terrifying smile of a skull as it stared at them.