“Thanks, Lurch!” I separated from him to approach Evelyn at the reception desk. “I think it will do nicely, and you said one gold a year?”

Evelyn nodded, “That’s correct, Sir.”

I placed fifteen gold on the counter. “I’m committed; five gold deposit. What else needs to be done?”

Ignoring my funds, she pulls a contract out of the back of the book. “Well, Sir, if you would read through and sign, should you agree to the terms, I will record your payment and give you your key.”

I looked through the document and didn’t see any deal breakers. It was a fairly standard agreement for leasing property – actually, it was pretty simple compared to many lease agreements I had signed in my first life. I signed the contract and handed it back to her.

Evelyn spoke formally, “Nirvana, Lease Agreement between the leasee, Pretty Kitty, and The Museum, Suite 336, ten-year duration consumed in one-year increments. Terms as agreed to in the executed document I hold. The contract burst into flames. Evelyn, startled, looked at me. “Sir, you may not use a false identity to make a binding contract.”

“Crap. Nirvana, I request Bob intervention.”

A desk with a high-backed chair holding a gnome with large spectacles appears. “I am Adjudicator Bob 683. How may I assist?”

“Can we get a privacy screen or something before continuing?” An opaque bubble appears around us.

Evelyn’s eyes went wide, and she straightened her posture to emulate being at attention.

“Thank you. Bob, I am in disguise and need to remain so. I need to be able to execute a lease agreement in this persona to facilitate my mission. Please review my titles and propose a solution.”

Bob looked down at his desk and then back at me and smiled. “Mr. Kitty, you have been a very busy boy. Evelyn, please prepare another lease agreement for Mr. Kitty. I don’t believe I need to tell you that what happens in this bubble is covered by your secrecy agreement with the Explorer’s Association, do I?”

Evelyn shook her head, “No, Administrator. The details of his agreement would have been secret anyway, and I understand that this interaction is secret too.”

Bob then looks at me, “Mr. Kitty, I have created a sub-persona and linked it to your primary account. You won’t have these troubles in the future. Additionally, I have sent you a message on how you can avoid similar complications in the future. Good luck on your mission!” And then he and his bubble vanished.

“I’m sorry for the trouble Evelyn.”

She smiled, “It’s fine. You would be surprised at the number of strange things that happen here. Though few require an administrator – many of them are amusing after the fact. Your new agreement, Sir.”

Reviewing it, we completed the procedure this time, and she handed me the key after collecting my funds. “Evelyn, I have some furniture scheduled for delivery tomorrow and shared that information with Lurch so he could help with it since I won’t be here.”

She nods and says, “Quite common. It won’t be a problem.”

“Before I go, a question. The Museum?”

“Ah. Master Gilden thought that this place resembled a museum of old with all the art in the halls. So the building is technically named ‘The Museum,’ however, we are commonly referred to as the Explorer’s Association or just the Association since we are also the HQ for the organization here in Horn Point.”

“Thanks, that clarifies it. One more, a bit more personal, so don’t answer if you are uncomfortable. Why haven’t you signed an agreement and taken on a visage?”

“Oh, that’s easy. If you sign an agreement, you must be here and on staff for at least two years. I’m working on getting into a sect for magic training and don’t want to turn down the opportunity when it becomes available.”

“I see. Well, I wish you luck and hope you get what you want!”

“Thank you, Sir. I appreciate that. You have a nice day!”

“And you as well.”

“Wait! I almost forgot! When you are in residence, Sir, you should press your key to your left breast. It will stick to your outer garment and let the security team know you belong here.”

“Simple, what if I have guests?”

“As long as a resident is with them, they will not be challenged.”

“What if my key is stolen?”

“It doesn’t matter. Keys only work for account holders and the doors to suites for which they have a lease.”

“Very nice. Ok, is there anything else?”

“No, Sir, you now have all of the basics,” she replied.

“Good. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around.”

She giggled, “Goodbye, again, Sir.”

I headed back upstairs to my suite, placing my key on my left breast as instructed. I placed my hand on the doorknob, and it clicked, allowing me entry. I went into the room on the right, centered myself on the balcony doors, turned to the opposite wall, and took out a full-length stand mirror. I placed it far enough away from the wall to get a reasonable tilt if I wanted. I went over and closed the door to the bathroom and slid the privacy bolt and the DND marker to its active state. I also closed the bedroom door and slid its DND marker to its active state. Nothing in here was a big deal, but I wanted staff to start with the understanding that this room was off-limits. I turned to the mirror and cast “Clairvoyance” on it and then cast “Clairaudience” on it. I scryed out Auntie to see what she was doing, and I was just in time.

Auntie faced a crowd of thousands sitting on the beach and hills rising up from the coast, and I caught her in the middle of a speech or sermon. “‚Ķprepare while Nirvana still dreams. We have stagnated here in her dream, and we must wake! It’s she who is dreaming, not us! To be ready for what comes, we must be experienced in taming the world around us with our intent and will. She cannot do what must be done, it is for humans to make the dream real! We will need to be prepared to fight for what we want and to fight to keep what is ours. We will need to do more with less and push our limits. Just as we do, Nirvana turns in her sleep, and as she does, the world changes! Behold, the first miracle!” Auntie turns her back to the crowd and raises her arms; her staff in her right hand glows a deep green, brighter but not blinding. “Earth! I command you rise above the waves and give us Holy Ground!”

Eight miles from shore, the ocean roils like a boiling pot of water. We can hear deep bass notes as the earth rumbles. In stark contrast, the water along the shore is normal, with no great waves or disturbances. Soon, a peak of land appears. A deep grey stone, slick with water but lacking any other traces of the ocean. There is no sand, coral, or sea life on it. It erupts out of the ocean like a slow-moving rocket, growing larger every second. Water rushes off the rocks, plunging back into the sea in short-lived waterfalls. She turns back to the crowd.

“This power I wield in Nirvana’s name is mine. Tomorrow, the temple will open so the worthy may receive power of their own. Know that Nirvana does not demand that you come to her temple to be tested as worthy of power. As always, there are many paths to power here in her dream; find one and be deemed worthy by that act alone.”

Someone in the crowd shouts, “What temple?”

“Behold the second miracle!” She turns back to the freshly risen island. “Holy Ground, the faithful demand a house of worship! Honor us and reward our faith!” A crack as loud as a thunderclap directly overhead sounds out, and then the island is enveloped in a fog – no, not fog, a cloud of rock! Stones fly and whirl around, revealing a smooth mesa. Stones then begin to land and stack themselves, and in less than five minutes, a grand building can be seen upon the island. Rubble and leftover stone flow into the water and form a strip of land suitable for mooring ships and boats.

Auntie turns back to the crowd and, into the silence, says, “That temple. Tomorrow at noon, not before, the island and the temple will welcome you.” She then begins to walk out and onto the water towards the island. As the crowd stirs, she turns back, “Acolytes, attend me.” Soon I can see the three officers of the Explorer’s Association take tentative steps onto the water and then run to catch up to Auntie.

Chuckling, I say, “Guess that means I get to clean up breakfast.” I focus on the dining room in Auntie’s house and, seeing it’s empty, teleport myself there.

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