John woke first. He seemed to be floating in mid-air, a bright grey nothingness spread in every direction around him. His two friends floated nearby and had also begun to stir. There didn’t appear to be any ground under them and no landmarks to orient himself to. The boatman stood nearby.
“You are not used to the Astral Plane.”
“No, I guess I’m not,” John replied.
“Well, you are delivered. My job is done.”
“Wait! Can you give us any advice? How do we find our way around?”
“Your companion asked to come here. I assume he knows how to get on. In any event, I did what I was paid to do. Good luck.” With that, the boatman stepped through a disk of swirling white and disappeared.
Jason and Kevin were now fully alert and looking around. Jason slowly stopped turning as he floated and settled into a standing position.
“How did you do that?” John asked, with more than a little surprise.
“Don’t you remember our last visit here?”
“No. What am I supposed to remember?”
By this time, Kevin had also righted himself. “Movement here is best accomplished by concentration. Just think yourself standing. When we move, just think about moving. Takes a little focus, but it’s not hard.”
“Says the mage,” Jason muttered.
John thought about standing upright and his body reoriented itself to match his friends. Feeling less out of sorts, he looked around again. It felt like he could see forever, but there was nothing to look at. “Why did you want to come here, Jason?”
“Because we should be able to find a way back home from here. Unlike the Ethereal Plane, there is only one Astral Plane. All the various Prime Material Planes link to here. We just have to find the doorway to ours.”
“How do we do that? There’s nothing around.”
“Do you see that?”
John followed Jason’s finger as he pointed. For a moment, he didn’t see anything, but then he caught a glimpse of a blue circle. It nearly blended in with the emptiness around it. “What is that?”
“It’s a portal. Those are going to be all around. We just have to find the right one to take us home.”
“Could that be the one?”
“No. That goes to… I can’t remember. But we’re looking for metallic colors. Our home should be behind one of them.”
“Well, let’s get started,” Kevin said.
The three began exploring, looking for color disks. They found several, unevenly spaced and appearing at odd angles. It took finding many different colors before stumbling upon a silvery one.
“This could be it!” Kevin shouted.
But Jason shook his head. “No. Silver represents the plane we came from. It would be the necromancer’s world. We’re looking for a different one.”
“Are you sure?” John asked while staring at the circle.
“Yeah. I remember that much. Silver is always the players’ home plane. That’s the necromancer’s plane.”
“That’s the home plane for our characters,” John said. “But it isn’t our home plane. Look.”
Jason stared at the circle until it cleared. On the other side appeared their school building. Before he could react, John was already through the portal. Kevin stopped before following suit.
“Come on, Jason. We’re finally home.”
He wasn’t sure he believed this was all over, but he went through the portal after his friends. They stood in front of their school in the late afternoon sun. Everything seemed back to normal, except…
“Wait!” Jason yelled. “Where’s Matt?”
The other two looked around, each of their faces betraying guilt for having forgotten about their friend.
“Did we leave him behind?” Kevin asked fearfully.
“When was the last time we heard him?” John added.
“Just before we left the Ethereal Plane,” Jason said.
“We have to go back for him.”
John gestured helplessly. “How do we do that, Kevin? I don’t see the portal anymore.”
“No. They’re usually one way,” Jason said.
Just then a police car pulled up and an officer got out of the driver’s side. “John? Kevin? Jason?”
“Yes, sir,” John answered.
“You’re parents have been worried sick. Where have you three been?”
“We…” John tried to think of an answer that might make sense. “We don’t know. We just woke up here.”
The officer gave them a skeptical look. “You don’t know where you’ve been?”
“You’re friend Matt said that you were together after playing a game, but that he didn’t know where you would go.”
“Matt? Matt’s here? Where?” Kevin asked.
“At his house, I assume. But we need to know where you were.”
“We told you, we don’t remember. But we need to go check on Matt.”
“Matt is fine. He didn’t disappear. You three did.”
The three friends looked at each other, confused.
“Matt didn’t disappear?” John finally asked.
“No. Now come with me to the station. We’ll call your parents from there.”
The end. For now.