Taoshan is possessed by the soul of one of an ancient race of ogre mages from his home plane of Shandalar, and it wants him to locate some bronze links, of which there are apparently none left on Shandalar, but this civilization flourished in Oldwalker days, when things like planar portals were not unheard of, and the ghost thinks there might be some links on other planes: or perhaps the means to make more.
Taoshan needs to be drunk to explain this, because that's the only way he's found to loosen the ogre's control, and ordinarily it wouldn't let him tell anyone about it or its plans.
Ariel suggests a clinic she knows, funded by the guildpact, where the head doctor is both a planeswalker and specializes in mental illnesses. And if this doesn't count as one of those, what does?
The clinic has that strange midpoint of polished and shabby that happens when there's plenty of money but so much regular use that maintenance work can't quite keep up, like a public library. The staff are mostly gateless, but close scrutiny will find members of as many guilds as possible among them. One gets the impression that the phrase "well, I may not LIKE them, but I can WORK with them" is muttered sotte voce here on a very regular basis.
The receptionist pulls out a sheaf of papers, and asks Taoshan a few questions. He checks off "possession, off plane, non-physical," and "unknown."
Toashan objects "It's not unknown, it's Onakke!"
"Unknown to US," says the receptionist, and asks about underlying medical conditions. The party explains that the spirit has threatened that if it's ever removed, Toashan's mind will go with. The receptionist says he doesn't have a check box for that, but will make sure the doctor knows.
Ariel heads back to the Vernadi to arrange a room for Taoshan, and Tebasha waits in the waiting room. Tarjuk and Venqwyn accompany still-tipsy Taoshan into the treatment room.
After a few moments, the Doctor enters:
Esther explains she needs Taoshan's consent to scan his mind, and tell his friends what she finds there, which is also a very efficient way of explaining what she's going to do.
She takes Taoshan's hand and casts Sight Beyond Sight. Tarjuk starts in surprise that he ALMOST recognizes the spell, it's like hearing a song you know that suddenly has a verse you've never heard before, or going up a flight of stairs and expecting one more step than is there.
Esther pays Tarjuk's astonishment no mind. She finishes her scan and confirms there is another presence in Taoshan's mind. It's deeply entangled, such that it and Taoshan are thinking parts of eachother's thoughts for them. She wasn't able to fully see Toashan's mind, because she wasn't able to see the entity's mind at all.
She was able to see was that it had the firmest hold on the part of his brain that casts spells, and warned him that using too much magic might make them inseparable.
Since some parts of this seem to be beyond her experience, Esther recommends they speak to her mentor, a planeswalker and mind mage from Tarkir. Tarjuk is, again, suddenly very interested.
He says he is from the Temur, which Esther has never heard of, though she confirms she's been to Tarkir.
He asks when the dragons came back, and she doesn't know what he's talking about, as far as she knows, dragons have always ruled Tarkir.
Tarjuk rushes out, to ask the Gatewatch about this mentor.
Before she and Taoshan follow, Esther also refers Venqwyn to an interplanar historian and naturalist she knows, called Tamiyo.
Tebasha follows Tarjuk, out of concern, back to the Gatewatch reception office. Tarjuk barely avoids walking right into the homonculus from the reception desk. He demands answers, perhaps lacking the cultural context for "my shift is over, I'm going home!"
Tarjuk gets interrupted by a punch from a VERY large homunculus, apparently here to pick up his partner from work.
After a brief confrontation, Tarjuk is pointed toward the person who is ACTUALLY supposed to be on shift, a Devkarin Elf who has been standing in the corner, coffee cup motionless in his hands, watching the proceedings with a "oh no I'm the one who's going to have to deal with this" expression.
Venwyn and Taoshan catch up to find Tarjuk calming himself with smoke visions of his memories of Tarkir, and Tebasha tired and frazzled from "having to be the Ariel!"
The elf eventually gets a message back, and tells Tarjuk that while they can't track anyone off-plane, they can sometimes "ping a direction," whatever that means, and that when Narset left, three days ago, her direction was "wedge-wards."
Back at the Vernadi, they fill Ariel in on what they learned.
Discussing what they know of the plane Narset was headed for prompts a discussion of color theory: what Sturmkraw theorized on Onumbrica, experiences with the Ditch-Lotuses, how the guilds seem to fit that pattern...
And then Taoshan interrupts, confused at their speculation, because mana colors are common knowledge on Shandalar* and he's surprised that isn't the case everywhere.
*source, the Microprose win95 game.
Ariel and Venqwyn excitedly ask Taoshan to explain, and he diagrams an elementary color wheel, and they're delighted to find it matches what they'd concluded about Ravnica's and Onumbrica's mana. The implications are staggering, but first Ariel realizes that if you map Tarjuk's habitual magic onto this diagram, you get a "wedge" shape.
If this is how mana is organized on his home, then that may mean Narset did in fact head for Tarkir when she went "wedge-wards."
Everyone is either exhausted or mind-racing, so they try to get some sleep.
Taoshan finds himself, in a dream, back on Shandalar, in a ruin he does not recognize. A cloaked figure stands ominously in the background. "DAD?!" he blurts out. It chuckles derisively. "Oh, not dad. It's you."
"Go on your adventure. Learn what you learn," menaces the ogre spirit, "Just don't forget, we have a DEAL." He snaps his fingers, and Taoshan sleeps like a log till noon the next day.
The next day Tebasha finally takes the opportunity to check out an Izzet Research school, and accidentally ignites an impromptu symposium, as students and professors clamor to ask questions about the technology of other planes.
Venqwyn, meanwhile, visits a Simic Zonot, and finds the strange, quiet tranquility of the descent to the underground ocean relaxing. The water is clean and has a strange floral taste, and the underwater streets and apartments are strangely homelike.
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