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Thursday, 4th June, 2009, 01:52 PM #181
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Perhaps a plea for an update would not be too forward...?
Thursday, 25th June, 2009, 08:33 PM #182
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
So say we all!
Friday, 26th June, 2009, 04:33 AM #183
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Friday, 26th June, 2009, 03:34 PM #184
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Y'all might have said that a month ago.
Wednesday, 22nd July, 2009, 06:14 AM #185
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 292
A sickly green mist hangs in the air, all that is left of the departed Null Shadows. Morningstar sits down heavily against a wall and thinks hard about the voice she heard in the thought capture. It was female, she’s almost certain, and vaguely familiar.
Kibi has his own method of getting information in this kind of environment. Putting his grief and guilt out of his mind, he casts stone tell on the wall of the cauldron room. A consciousness forms in the rocks and speaks ponderously into Kibi's mind.
“Oh!” The dwarf wasn't expecting immediate familiarity. “You know my name!”
“All the stones know your name.”
Kibi blushes beneath his beard. “I hope you don’t think of me poorly.”
“No, of course not.”
“I’d like to ask you some questions that are very important to us.”
“Speak, then,” says the stone.
“Somebody gouged holes in you,” says Kibi, “and vile Null Shadows poured out of them. Can you tell me anything about who did this?”
“I have been here for an entire lifespan of those things,” answers the stone of the wall. Its voice is deep and lugubrious. “My body lay empty when it was built, and then many people came, chanting, singing, and drawing circles upon my face. They brought in a metal vessel and set it down. They chiseled symbols into my skin. The chanting continued, and things were placed into the vessel. Then this entire space, my being, what you call a room, was filled with a strange shadow-stuff, a terrible thing that leeched away my substance, my solidity, and replaced it with vapors and nothingness.”
“That’s terrible!” says Kibi, with genuine feeling.
“People would come back from time to time and chant over the vessel,” continues the stone, “and black, smokey creatures would emerge. The chanters caused these things to go into small containers, and then departed.
“Then four people came, one shorter than the others who had become before, and THEY chanted over the cauldron. They smashed the walls, to obscure the symbols once carved there. Vaporous creatures again emerged, but these were made to recede into my body, into the holes they had made, and to the spaces beyond. They took the vessel, and the horrible nothingness departed, and I was left alone, until today.”
“Are there more vapors?” asks Kibi.
“No. They have all emerged to assault you.”
“Can you describe the four people?” presses Kibi. “Did one of them wear robes?”
“It is hard for us to distinguish, but their heights were clear. Three tall, one short. Slightly taller than you.”
“Do you know what they were wearing?
“Wearing? I do not understand. There is rock, and non-rock, and they were non-rocks.”
“Did they say anything about where they were going?” asks Kibi.
“No,” answers the rock. “They were chanting. The short one made a strange sound. It sounded like: 'Ha ha ha ha ha!' as it put the shadow things into the walls.”
The stone's rendition of evil cackling would be funnier if Aravis's corpse wasn't sprawled nearby.
“Is there anything I can do to make you feel whole again?” asks Kibi.
“I enjoy these walls that you have made to join me,” answers the stone, referring to the wall of stone that Kibi cast during the battle. And with that, the interview comes to an end. Kibi relays his conversation to the rest of the Company.
“Stersa and Meledien were both tall,” says Kibi, while the others ponder the new information.
A couple of minutes later the color drains from Dranko's face. And one short. “Oh, no. Morningstar, the voice you heard in your thought capture. Did it sound like Praska?
Morningstar thinks for a second. “Yes! I knew it seemed familiar.”
“Argh!” Dranko lets out a howl of anger. The last any of them had heard, Praska was a happy priestess living at the Temple of Delioch in Hae Charagan.
Morningstar goes to Aravis and casts gentle repose as Pewter continues his sad meowing.
“Don't worry Pewter,” she says. “I'll bring him back.”
The Company spends a few minutes talking through what they know about Praska. She had once been kidnapped by Mokad and then released, and ever since has been a faithful priestess at the Temple to Delioch in the capital city. Califax had warned the Company not to trust her, and that warning had prompted the High Priest Tomnic to oversee a battery of divinations cast upon her. Nothing had turned up as abnormal or suspicious, and so it seemed that Califax's waning had been unfounded. By all reports she has been as spunky, smart, excited and hard-working as ever. And still at the temple, as far as they know.
Edghar, Grey Wolf's little monkey familiar, looks with sympathy on Aravis's body.
“Don't die,” he says to Grey Wolf. The spellsword says nothing but scratches the monkey's head with affection.
They carry Aravis's body up and out of the evil basement of the Cosnor estate. His face is completely disfigured by the black smears from the Null Shadows, and from certain angles his facial features appear to be missing.
Like most places in Kallor, the manor house has a small shrine to Ell, though it went long unused while the place was co-opted by the Black Circle. Morningstar uses it to cast commune.
When we try to resurrect Aravis, will some person or spiritual force attempt to hinder us?
Does Aravis want to return to the living?
Was Praska responsible for this?
Was Praska involved in this?
Is Praska a girl?
Can you detect Praska?
I detected Praska’s thoughts before we were attacked. Was that a trick?
Are you aware of who set the trap?
Is Praska still under the influence of the Black Circle?
Can you detect where the missing Cauldron is?
Is it in Charagan?
Is it in Kallor?
Is it in Lanei?
If Praska were being shielded from divination, would you be able to tell?
Is the cauldron on the western half of Lanei?
Is the cauldron in Hae Charagan?
Is the Cauldron within the grounds of the Temple of Delioch there?
Morningstar frowns at the surprising and contradictory answers. Dranko opines that the results of those questions can’t be trusted, since Praska is clearly shielded from divinations. Not to mention that by considering the answers as a whole, it provably was Praska who set the trap for them.
“I can’t bring back Aravis until tomorrow,” says Morningstar.
“Can I cut off his finger and wear it around my neck?” asks Dranko. “Cats would love me!”
Only Flicker laughs.
Morningstar visits the High Priestess Rhiavonne at the Temple of Ell, to discuss the casting of true resurrection.
“There hasn't been a casting of that miracle in any temple of Ell for at least a century,” the old matriarch tells her.
Morningstar sighs. “I really don't want this to turn into a circus. I'm enough of a curiosity already.”
“I can arrange to keep the audience limited,” offers Rhiavonne.
“Will that make people think me haughty?” asks Morningstar.
“Not if they think it's my choice. I could simply invite the various High Priestesses from other temples around Charagan – perhaps half a dozen.
“Whatever you think is best,” says Morningstar. “But discrete would be better, since the Black Circle might not know that their trap has been triggered.”
“It will be hard to hide the event from all of the local priestesses who make their homes here,” reminds Rhiavonne. “True resurrection can take some hours; there will be gossip, if the main chapel is locked off for the duration.”
Morningstar agrees to the reduced headcount, but is nonetheless awed and dismayed at the thought of performing the miracle in front of even a small number of Ellish dignitaries. Dranko is waiting for her outside of Rhiavonne's office.
“Did you guys talk at all about your memoirs?” he asks her. “You know, the holy scriptures you're supposed to write?”
Morningstar shakes her head, at which point Dranko produces a black leather case with an Ellish symbol on the front. It comes with a silvered goose-quill pen, and a set of custom nibs.
“These are for you. Try writing.”
She writes, and the magic of the pen not only improves her handwriting, but brings to her mind more elegant grammatical constructions for her thoughts.
“Did you make this?” she asks, immensely pleased.
“I had it made for you,” admits Dranko. “I thought you’d want to be better remembered for your posterior. Posterity. I mean posterity.”
Kibi volunteers for the job of procuring the diamonds needed for the casting of true resurrection. Still feeling guilt over his decision to stay hidden underground while Aravis was in danger, he contributes 10,000 GP of his own personal funds to the expense.
The plan is straightforward: Kibi, Dranko, Grey Wolf and Ernie will teleport to Hae Charagan, where they will procure the diamonds and do a locate object sweep of the city for the Cauldron. The others will stay behind with Morningstar while she prepares to bring Aravis back to life. There's a slight hiccup, as Grey Wolf's teleportation goes slightly awry. He was aiming for the common room of tavern he had frequented on his previous visit, and they do end up in a tavern, but it's not the right one. The four of them find themselves surrounded by dozens of seedy, criminal-looking types, patrons of the Happy Harpoon, one one of the most run-down, dangerous waterfront dives in the city. They listen as the conversations die down to nothing. Fifty thugs stare at them, sizing up their wealth and weaponry.
“Where are we?” Dranko demands of the crowd.
He is met with laughter. With lightning quickness he snaps his whip and yanks a beer mug right out of someone's hand. He catches the mug in midair and takes a quick drink before asking again.
“Where are we?”
(Morningstar, following the proceedings over the mind-link, looks down at Aravis and says out loud: “you don't want to know.”)
Several of the Harpoon's customers get to their feet. A dozen weapons are drawn. Dranko sighs.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” he says to the crowd. “The easy way is, you tell us where we are, and we buy a round of drinks for the bar. The hard way is, you try to attack us, and we kill most of you. What's it gonna be?”
The tension is palpable. One on the one hand, it's fifty-on-four. On the other hand, those four are armed to the teeth, and did just appear from nowhere. But one of the more far-gone customers at the bar makes the decision for everyone.
“Drinks for everyone on the new guys!” he shouts, and with that, all is forgiven. The members of the Company soon learn that they're in the right city but the wrong bar. They leave a pile of coins with the barkeep and make for the exit.
The cauldron-finding team has no luck. Veiled as birds, and wind walking in a spiral pattern with locate object cast, they get no hits. Kibi has more success, finding the diamonds he needs. He notes with interest that many of the moneylenders and jewelers have new signs up in the windows indicating that they'll exchange Kivian currency.
Their missions over, the group teleports back to Kallor. Next up: new life for Aravis.
...to be continued...
Wednesday, 22nd July, 2009, 08:29 AM #186
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Yay! At long last!!
Thursday, 23rd July, 2009, 01:55 PM #187
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
- London, England
- Read 2 Reviews
ø Block Mathew_Freeman
Really interesting to see resurrection taken seriously in a campaign, with all the political and spiritual ramifications played out in game.
Beats "I cast the spell and spend the diamonds" any day of the week.
Thursday, 23rd July, 2009, 06:03 PM #188
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Very happy to see an update, with hopefully more to come soon.
Friday, 24th July, 2009, 11:07 AM #189
Gallant (Lvl 3)
- Join Date
- Feb 2008
- London, UK.
- Read 0 Reviews
ø Block theskyfullofdust
Woo hoo! Update! Just had to go back and read the last couple of entries to remind myself what was going on. Looking forward to more, hint hint
Friday, 24th July, 2009, 02:29 PM #190
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 293
Midnight in Kallor.
The perpetual twilight of the day has given way to a sky bright with stars and a nearly full moon. On such short notice only a few clergy from out of town have arrived to witness history: Milanwy and Clariel from Tal Hae along with Amber and Previa; church leaders from Minok and Hae Kalkas; and of course Morningstar's proud parents, Domira and Rodvin. Still, there are enough local priestesses and political figures in attendance that the crowd numbers nearly two hundred in the large chapel.
Morningstar has spent hours studying the prayers and rituals involved in casting true resurrection. She expects that the ceremony will last from midnight until dawn; it is no quick thing to call a soul back from the afterlife. Bells ring the midnight hour and the murmurs of the congregation fade as Morningstar begins to cast, Aravis laid out upon the altar before her in a ceremonial black robe. Moonbeams stream in through the skylights and play over Morningstar's hands as she prays. The attendees settle in for a long night of spectacle.
Twenty minutes later, Aravis's eyes snap open.
Morningstar blinks, confused.
“Yes?” answers the mage groggily.
Pewter leaps up joyfully onto Aravis's chest and starts to purr, while the onlookers mutter uncertainly. Morningstar can hear at least one of the priestesses whisper maybe he wasn't dead!
Morningstar peers down at Aravis. “You, er, were really dead, right?”
“I'm pretty sure,” says Aravis.
“I'm only twenty minutes in,” says Morningstar, half to her friend and half to herself. The audience starts to grow loud again until Rhiavonne strides forward to join Morningstar behind the altar.
“We have witnessed a miracle within a miracle,” she says, voice raised in authority. But to Morningstar she whispers: “Perhaps a ceremonial conclusion might be in order, for the sake of the audience.”
Morningstar continues to chant and pray for another thirty minutes before finishing with her head bowed in silence. Many in the congregation come forward to put their hands on Aravis's head, who endures it with good grace. Previa studiously records every detail of the event. Any skeptics in the chapel are cowed by Rhiavonne's stern glare; but to most, there is no doubt that the power of Ell has flowed mightily thorough Morningstar Her servant. Her parents are over the moon with pride and joy.
Morningstar herself looks taken aback, almost embarrassed.
“Aravis is a person of great personal power,” she says to the curious throng. “It's likely that that was a factor in this quick resurrection.” There is much nodded agreement.
Later, when the Company has carried the weary Aravis to a private room, the newly-revived wizard reveals the unexpected explanation for Morningstar's remarkable feat.
“I stayed where I was,” he says.
Dranko scratches his scarred jaw. “What do you mean?”
“Where I died.” says Aravis. “When you guys left, I was still there. In the basement. Death was boring!”
No one knows quite what to say.
“That means you were a ghost!” says Dranko after a moment. “Did you haunt anyone?”
“I was stuck where I was,” says Aravis. “There was no one to haunt!”
“We stuck around for a while after the fight,” says Dranko. “Did you haunt us?”
Aravis sighs. Kibi wonders aloud if Aravis's stationary afterlife was because of the Null Shadows. Dranko further muses that perhaps Aravis would have turned into a Null Shadow had he not been raised.
“I didn't feel any different,” says Aravis, skeptical. “Just bored, and non-physical. I guess it could have been the Null Shadows, but more likely it was because of my unusual nature.”
“What if they were trying to trap you there,” asks Morningstar. “And they were going to come back later for your soul? They were planning on bringing back Grey Wolf against his will, remember? Maybe they could have done the same thing to you.”
Those are all reasonable theories... and all of them are wrong. It will be some time before the Company figures out the truth.
Aravis feels better after a full night's rest, and they reconvene the next morning to discuss their next step. Dranko's idea for capturing Praska is straightforward: disguise the Company as something like street urchins via illusion, wait for her to leave the temple on an errand, and jump her en masse. “I figure if we do it in public, she won't be able to summon her demonic minions without everybody seeing it.”
Talk turns to the confusing results of the recent commune. Aravis can't help but wonder aloud: “Do we think that the Black Circle is really trying to be so tricky, that instead of simply blocking divinations on her, they're feeding us false answers through a commune?"
“Yes, I think that,” says Dranko. “I think that Praska has had powerful magic placed on her that makes it impossible for divinations to work on her. Then she came and set this trap for us, with the expectation that we wouldn't figure out who it was.”
“How powerful do we think Praska is, anyway?” asks Aravis.
“Before?” says Dranko. “I didn't think she was powerful at all. Now? Very.”
They teleport back to Hae Charagan, this timing choosing the Happy Harpoon on purpose. Shouts of “drinks on the new guys again!” start ringing seconds after the crowd has registered their arrival, and as they leave the Company hears some rumors about just who they are. “Mad mages from Kivia,” says one man. “The Archmagi in disguise,” insists another. Kibi smirks as he hears one grizzled dockhand tell another, “You know who the leader is? It's that pile of rocks that follows the dwarf around...”
Before heading to the Church of Delioch to kidnap Praska, Morningstar casts circle dance to verify their quarry's location. She gets the direction of due east, which does not point to the church. They try it again from a quarter-mile to the south, and get the exact same bearing. Aravis figures this means that Praska is thousands of miles to the east, which happens to be the direction of Kivia.
Even so, the church is the next logical place make inquiries. Dranko dons his seldom-used priestly robes and they walk through the city. At the gates to the temple compound two door-wardens bow respectfully.
“Good afternoon!” one says to the group.
“Greetings,” answers Dranko. “Do you know if Sister Praska is currently on the grounds?”
“I'm sure she's not,” answers the guard cheerily.
“Oh? Why's that?”
“She's off in.. what's it called?”
“Kivia,” says the second guard.
“What's she doing there?” asks Dranko, forcing himself to maintain a casual facade.
“I heard she was going on a spiritual journey,” says the first guard. “She was curious to know if there were any worshipers of Delioch over there. I gather that there was some magical artifact discovered in Kivia that indicated that there were. I also think she was interested in learning about the Kivian God of Healing.”
“Do you know who I could talk to about this trip of hers?” asks Dranko. “We've come a long way to talk to her, and I guess my timing was horrible.”
“She was friends with an older priestess named Marigold, I know that,” says the second guard.
“Great,” says Dranko. “And how long ago did she leave?”
“Weeks, I think,” says the first guard. He glances at his compatriot, who shrugs.
Weeks. Okay then. Dranko is immediately mistrustful of this Marigold.
“Flicker, do me a favor,” he says. “While we talk to Tomnic, go search Praska's room. See if she left anything incriminating. Just don't set off any hideous traps.”
“Or get caught,” adds Ernie.
“The thing is,” says Dranko, “going off to explore Kivia is exactly the kind of thing Praska – the Praska I know – would actually do. So maybe she's fine, and the Black Circle is setting her up. I need to talk with Tomnic.”
Tomnic the Follower is the highest authority of the Deliochan church extant on Charagan, and Dranko is at first told by an under-priest that the wait to talk with him is three hours, unless it's particularly urgent.
“Tell him it's Dranko, here to speak on the same subject as last time.”
“When he learns it's Dranko,” Grey Wolf mutters, “the wait'll become six hours.”
But Tomnic is no fool, and the Company is granted an immediate audience. Dranko bows respectfully upon entering the office of the High Priest of Delioch, a man of about 50 years with silver hair and ruddy skin. Tomnic is immaculately dressed.
After Dranko makes a round of introductions, Tomnic leans forward. “I take it this is about Califax then?”
“Indirectly,” says Dranko. "It's more about Mokad. Or his disciple.”
“Either it's Praska, or someone using Praska as bait, and making us think she's our enemy.”
“Do you think she's in danger?” asks Tomnic, concerned.
“I think she IS the danger.”
They tell Tomnic the whole story, including the results of Morningstar's recent commune. When they are finished, worry is showing clearly on Tomnic's face.
“You know,” he says gravely, “that we took Califax's warning very seriously. I spoke myself with an agent of Delioch and posed piercing questions about Praska. I learned that she was untainted.”
“Your Grace,” says Dranko, “do you understand fully what the Black Circle can do? Have we told you how they changed history?”
“No, but I have the story secondhand. And if it's true that the Black Circle can foil the miracle of commune, then it puts all of our previous divinations into some doubt.”
“You see why I interrupted your studies today,” says Dranko. “I'm sorry.”
“You interrupted a meeting with a bureaucrat. No apologizes necessary.”
“You understand that we have no proof,” says Morningstar. “Just that I heard her mental voice through a thought capture."
“Could that mental voice have been imitated?” asks Tomnic.
“Yes,” Morningstar admits. “In which case someone is setting a trap, and they want us to go after Praska. She is in Kivia right now, where the Black Circle is stronger than it is here.”
“Praska told me she was very excited to visit Kivia, now that it was possible,” says Tomnic with a sigh. “She knew that you had been there.”
“Who told her there was a God of Healing there?” asks Dranko.
“We endeavored to learn everything we could of the pantheon of Kivian Gods, since the boundary came down,” says Tomnic, pointing to one of the books on his desk. “Heros is a Goddess of healing and mercy – the closest thing to Delioch they have.”
“But not as Good,” says Dranko with a smirk.
“It's not my place to say,” says Tomnic, though his face betrays agreement.
“Do you know that their God of Death, Drosh, is leaving? He believes that the Adversary is coming back.”
That requires another lengthy bit of exposition, as they tell Tomnic about how the Black Circle in Het Branoi was trying to set up a beacon to call the Adversary. Tomnic listens intently.
“But they failed, in the end,” the High Priest says, when the Company has finished their tale.
“But Drosh is still leaving,” says Aravis. “Because he's scared.”
“Forgive me,” says Tomnic. “I don't doubt your word... but do you have corroborating evidence?”
“Er... other than the fact that we talked with a powerful servant of his?” says Dranko. “Uh. No.”
“I only ask, because a powerful servant of the God of Death might well have been lying to you.”
“If he was, he was a better liar than I was, and I'm a pretty good liar,” says Dranko.
Dranko goes on to warn Tomnic that the Null Shadow Cauldron is still is in the city, and that Tomnic may himself be a target. He requests of Tomnic that the high priest cast commune himself to determine the Cauldron's whereabouts.
“I will do that much for you,” says Tomnic, “though I also have some questions of my own, particularly regarding Califax. Say an extra prayer for him, Dranko.”
“I'm sure his heart is true,” says Dranko.
“His heart is not in question,” says Tomnic. “His affliction is more dire."
He pauses and looks thoughtful, as if looking for a tactful way to convey something horrible, but there's no other way to say it.
"He has no soul," says Tomnic simply. "He complained of that from the start, and I thought he was mad and raving. After all, such a thing is not possible while the body still lives. But his complaints, as far as we can tell, are true. He has no soul in him. I thought perhaps you had an answer, when I heard you were here for an audience. When Aravis was killed, did anything happen to his soul?”
“He still has a soul,” says Dranko. "Though... and this is going to hard to explain, your Grace, but technically Aravis is a God. Of cats. He's worshiped by cats. He's...”
“Dranko? Stop. Please.”
Tomnic is giving him an incredulous look.
“Can you cast detect lies, your Grace?”
“I could. But instead I'm going to ask you flat out. Because I know that while you're a person of great power, and great wisdom, and great fame, as are all of your friends, I would not put it past you personally to play some kind of colossal prank upon me. I would hope that given then grave nature of...”
“Your Grace, I'm not lying!” exclaims Dranko.
“Aravis, are you a God of Cats?” asks Tomnic.
“I was told during a commune of my own that he was... in a small way,” says Morningstar.
“I can't say whether I am or not, your Grace,” says Aravis. “Cats think that I am.”
“And are you responsible for the unexplained hue and cry of every feline citizen of this city?” asks Tomnic.
“I believe that coincided with my death,” says Aravis.
Tomnic bows his head. “Then, Aravis, I should be honored to be in your presence.”
“The honor is mine, your Grace,” says Aravis humbly.
“And when you died, your soul stayed put,” muses Tomnic. “Perhaps Abernia was not prepared for a God to die upon its surface.”
“Do you mind if we talked with Marigold?” asks Dranko, getting back on track.
“Not at all,” says Tomnic. "Though that reminds me: she asked me about ten days ago for a sending scroll. She wanted to know how Praska was doing on her journey. Marigold did not afterward report that Praska was up to no good, or anything like that. You know that Praska is willful, impetuous, prone to getting into trouble. Marigold has been here as a priestess for over 30 years, and took it upon herself to be a kind of protector to the girl. She misses Praska terribly. It's understandable that she was worried about Praska being so far away, in a strange land.”
Over the mind-link, Dranko thinks to Flicker: where are you?
I'm in Praska's room the halfling answers.
There's nothing to find, thinks Flicker.
Check Marigold's room.
“Your Grace,” says Dranko out loud, “we think that Marigold might be a danger, in league with Praska.”
“Before today, I would have though you mad for suggesting that,” says Tomnic. “I still don't think it's likely. Marigold is as nice a lady as you could ever hope to meet.”
“Yeah, and I'm a jackass, but I'm on the side of Good,” says Dranko with a grin. “You never can tell.”
...to be continued...
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