Yes the title here is a reference to Castle. It turns out that my GM did not kill off my character while I was absent. He’s now tried twice but each time Dean has returned from the brink of death like the fleas that avoid multiple bug bombs. So I will give Alternate Dean a break and visit Dean Classic who I had all but given up on. It was great re-engaging the character as I had withdrawn my emotions from him when I thought another author had killed him off. Don’t worry if this piece is confusing as it is a reflection of how confusing the storyline of our sessions are. This is basically what I was thinking in the last hour of the session and especially as I drove home listening to J-Pop and BABYMETAL on Pandora.
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Dean lay in his bed, once again laying his head down in a foreign land. This time the team had landed themselves in the middle of a muddy swamp full of frog people which reminded Dean of a Hulk comic he had once read. Those were frogs right? The whole thing was strange and had only gotten stranger. He had been glad to go out and drink with Carlos and Chuck, probably two guys he would never have hung out with. In fact, he imagined a world where he would have been hired to investigate a cheating Carlos. While it was true that drinking was pretty pointless, at least it allowed Dean to stop thinking so much for a little. He also wanted to get away from Mario for a little while.
Now he had nothing keeping him from thinking. He thought about traveling in the market with Chuck. He was afraid of the secrets that Chuck was keeping and the threats that might represent in the future. In retrospect, stopping at the strange empty restaurant had been a mistake. Magic was still a pretty unsettling phenomenon but he knew that there must still be a cost for such things. The waiter or maitre d’ had known about the map Chuck had. What was on that map? Dean couldn’t remember Chuck or Mario talking about the map before. If the map was lost, would this help or hurt their mission? The waiter had spoken with a lot of subtext seemingly meant for Chuck but Chuck hadn’t given the whole story.
The revelation that Mario was or will be or is the Perfect is not exciting or comforting news. There are too many known unknowns and unknown unknowns attached to that information for Dean’s liking. The Prophet, apparently an ex-schoolteacher, believed that he himself would change into the Perfect down the line. Setting the fake in Tira Linga aside, that would mean two potential Perfects. Since he was always referred to as The Perfect, Dean believed that there could only be one. He’d seen Highlander and knew how that went down.
The townspeople had sworn fealty to The Perfect and apparently that was a metaphysically binding contract, one that the townspeople might be fulfilling subconsciously. They had parted around Mario and they had molded the statue in the image of an older Mario. Who instructed them what The Perfect looked like? Why was the lower half imprinted with the hands of the worshiping townspeople. The religious fervor had been frightening and had nearly killed Dean, Tina and had injured several in their team. If the Prophet could broker a faith like that, he was even more dangerous than Dean had thought.
Mario’s magical display was interesting to say the least. Dean was grateful to be healed from near death by their compatriot’s magic. Now there were crops and fish in abundance and hopefully that didn’t destroy the ecosystem of the swamp. How much power did Mario have? Dean had never really trusted Mario fully. Maybe it was the way he freely insulted Dean, maybe it was his admitted criminal past. Lately Dean had found him more likeable based on their agreement that the Prophet must die. Handing a powerful lineage and powerful magic to Mario was enough to form a knot in Dean’s stomach the more he thought about it.
There were a lot of questions that still needed to be answered and a lot of ground to cover. Dean had noticed that during dinner everybody had reacted to Mario’s announcement oddly. Sure they looked surprised but they also looked unfocused for a moment. What was that? Why had it not happened to Dean? He needed to choose one of them to confront about the incident but that was for another day. He wondered what they would think of his not being included in their event.
Still, their mission remained the same. They had to take out the Deathknights, Abyssals, Technocracy and now the Infernals as well. They were surrounded by enemies and bound together by either destiny or free will. It was hard to see which one governed the future now more than ever.