There is fog all around, thick and white, swirling. The ground is dark, hard stone, rough and uneven, with a gradual but perceptible slope; the fog is thinnest upslope, and in that direction a faint shadow is visible in the distance, the only landmark available in an otherwise featureless world.
They make simultaneous faces.
"I think we would rather not do that. But I am leaning towards lots of Akaima. ... Does fire have non-obvious applications, I'm having trouble thinking of anything that's not 'set things on fire.'"
"...ooh. Okay, I can see applications for that... I think I'm leaning towards all Akaima."
"All Iserith sounds good to me, if that's what you think would work best."
"I," Zahara says firmly, "still have questions. The things you know about other worlds -- how do you know them? From people coming through, or some other way?"
"Reverse along what axis?"
"....ooh. Is this something you've always done, or did you start doing it at some point?"
"How long ago was your first visitor?"
"Do you have an order-of-magnitude estimate? A thousand years, a million, a billion, a trillion..."
"When this first started, did it seem like the worlds were new, or had some of them been around for a long time already?"
"I wonder what made it start, then .... are the worlds older on average now than when it started?"
"Well, if there's a typical sequence of technological development -- or if the people in the worlds have a guess at the age of the world -- or if they have histories going back to a certain point..."
"And it's not the kind of thing you can pick up when you're -- dreaming -- about other worlds?"
"How sure are you that the things you know are true? Could you just be mistaken about how the gate works, could the reverse-dreaming be deceptive...?"