[ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co.

SanjMerchant

Explorer
Session 239, Part Three

The Hidden Jungle


Copperhat, Weary Enid, Jenny Greenteeth, all dead. Lavanya gone; Kasvarina returned. It was all too much to take in.

Uriel explored the ritual site and found that Enid had been using a broken silver fragment of Reida itself, etched with runes he recognised, fey runes that pointed to the Voice of Rot. Together he and Leon worked to dispel, or undo, whatever magical effect had trapped them here. It was a desperate, slightly reckless effort, as they could not be sure of the outcome, and they had to wrestle with magic of the highest order.

All of a sudden, they found the miasma was gone. They floated in regular space, with Enid’s dead (no longer undead) whale drifting beneath them. In the distance they could see both the Coaltongue and the Pleasure. The reassuringly familiar beam of Ascetia swept over them.

Using teleportation and flight, they made their way back to the Coaltongue. The lacedons were gone. A dozen more men were dead, as were many fey. Worst of all, Admiral Smith had been killed in defence of the command deck. He had been laid out, respectfully, along with the dead crew. Words were said, but no funeral took place out here in the nothingness.

Grimly, solemnly, they returned to their journey, sailing silently on towards Ascetia.

Kasvarina spoke quietly to Leon. “I wonder how much time I have? I know that they will find my body soon. Perhaps this is why?” She gestured to her recent transformation.

Quratulain approached Kasvarina and said, “You know, I’ve decided you’re a pretty decent person after all.”

“Thank you,” said Kasvarina.

Gupta resumed her place at the prow, watching as Ascetia approached.

The flashing beacon strobed twice a minute, visible from hundreds of miles away. As they drew closer, the lighthouse Calily had told them about appeared, rising up from the edge of a tangled jungle which extended all the way to the precipice of the floating world. Using her spyglass, Gupta could see that the lighthouse was unostentatious but solid, constructed of hand-carved limestone bricks thrusting a hundred feet above the jungle canopy. A small barn and a few satellite buildings surrounded it in a fifty foot clearing, and a walkway of logs led from the lighthouse door to the very edge of the world.

The top of the tower had a roof covering the mechanism of the beacon, whatever that was. The windows were open, without glass.

As the Coaltongue drew near (with the Aural Pleasure close behind, beat silenced at the unit’s request) a figure emerged from the lighthouse and walked calmly down the walkway to a bench, where it sat down and waited, as if inviting them to dock. When they drew close enough, he gave a friendly wave. From this distance they could see his salt-and-pepper hair, cigarette, and the faint, ghostly glow about him.

It was William Miller!

End of Session
I forget, how much of Nic's backstory do your characters know? They're aware he was William Miller, right?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Yes. They got the lot. No surprises on that score, just his very appearance.

Which reminds me of something I've been mulling over for a while. They know his true name, so they'll be able to attack him in the final battle from the very start. (Not when their Gyre minds meld with their reflected selves.)

I'm wondering if that doesn't lower the threat level quite substantially. I've been trying to think of a twist to this, to make it a bit tougher, but I suppose that I ought to reward them for their discovery. In their case, though, there are two issues:

1) I kind of led them by the nose to Pala, by linking Uriel's incarnations to the city. So it's not like they really deserve it.
2) Given that they traveled there, it's likely Nic would know they had, and might have guessed they know who he is (although they were surprisingly discreet in the sense that they didn't publish this revelation). Would he have developed a failsafe in response? And if so, what?

One idea I had was magically altering his truename, but that suffers from the problem that the group couldn't discover it (unless I rule that the Humble Hook would know, in which case there's no point...)
 
As they know his true name I would let them overcome the flat immunity the ritual normally gives him. But Nic is smart and paranoid, its a million to one the heroes could turn up in the middle of this ritual so he is expecting them. He has had some time to prepare for this so he could
1) Have brought more elite forces to defend the ritual, this keeps the players from focussing on Nic but makes the battle even more complicated, not sure how that scales in the cypher system but in Pathfinder I won't be adding more stuff
2) He knows about the pc's and their abilities and has specially prepared rituals , spells or items available that give him extra protection against the pc's possibly with limits on how much they can stop or ways the pc's can reconfigure their abilities to get around them which serve the same effect of making Nic immune to damage until the later phases of the battle
3) Maybe his host body thing means that you need both truenames his and the bodies. That would probably mean switching him to a different body made specially by the good doctor Frankenstein , perhaps his Ghost in the Gyre knows this bodies name via its link to Nic
 
Oh, that's an interesting option: the truename only works if you're attacking him, not a host body, so he could have some innocent chumps queued up to move between, and you either have to kill them or expel him, and then hit him before he slips into a new body.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 240, Part One

Revelation


They decided to leave the ships floating at a safe distance and approach the wharf independently – variously flying, teleporting, using the stones discs.

“Let’s not shoot first,” said Korrigan, telepathically before they left the ship. Gupta glowered; Quratulain loaded her vendetta bullet and kept a silent track of William Miller’s movements, aiming without aiming.

As they drew closer, they Miller stood, took up a large basket of fruit that was hanging beside the bench and raised it in offering. He stepped towards them, smiling.

“You hurt us!” cried Gupta as they landed. “You hurt me!” She hit Miller with a bone-pointing curse. He cried out and fell to his knees, dropping the basket of fruit, which scattered across the wooden walkway. Some rolled off into the void.

Miller gasped for breath, remaining on his hands and knees for a while. Then he raised a warding hand and said, “Please! You can hurt, but cannot harm me. Whoever you think I am, I promise you that I…” he stopped, seeing the crown of Risur on Korrigan’s head. Then his gaze drifted down to the Humble Hook around his neck. “Did you come here for me?” he asked.

“No,” said Korrigan. “We did not expect to find you here.”

“I expected you,” said Miller. “Or something like you, some time soon. I hope that I can help you, though I know you may find it difficult to trust me. Despite how I look, I’m not your enemy. I’m his reflection, and five hundred years ago I broke off from him. If the Humble Hook chose you, I’ll help you, if you’ll let me, because when I look at my reflection now I don’t like what I see.

“The first thing to know is that I’m arrogant. Five centuries ago I thought I could end a holy war holy war. My plan was to trick the Clergy into summoning its own god of war, which the eladrin would kill. The ritual warned that all the followers of the god would suffer the same fate as the one they worshipped. If my plan had worked it would have killed thousands of people. People who worshipped the same way I did. I didn’t care. I had been thwarted once, and I needed to succeed.

“I was blind to the fact that I was a puppet. The Clergy used me to get the ritual – there was a demon, she wouldn’t tell them; it’s complicated. The hierarchs I hated so much summoned an eladrin goddess, killed her. When I figured it out I tried to escape, and I was caught in the middle of the backlash, right as I was straddling two sides of a portal. In the same moment that every eladrin woman died, I was torn in two.

“So here I am, a ghost in a place of ghosts. You can imagine the impotent rage, but eventually I realized there was no point in that. Not too far from here I built a memorial to the goddess they killed, and to all the people who died because of me. This lighthouse, also, was my attempt at penance.” He gestured behind him and began to guide them towards it. “I thought if people came here, I could offer shelter or guidance. I suppose I’ve been waiting for you.

“I don’t know what the other me is doing, exactly, but sometimes I have dreams, visions, snatches of awareness. Recently, ghosts have been showing up for months, and I’ve heard stories. Stories of what that other me is doing. That tell me my visions were real.”

“‘The other me.’ Hell, this will get confusing. Look, it’s been centuries since I thought of myself as Nicodemus anyway. It was only a moniker. A ‘nick’ name, which my fellow monks gave me. There’s this herb from the Yerasol Islands called leaf of Nicodemus. You burn it, inhale the smoke. I remember loving the sensation. It was soothing. I dreamed of cultivating it and sharing it with more people around the world. But, well, there was a holy war. More pressing matters…” As he remembered the lead, he held up his ghostly cigarette, put it to his lips and sighed. He could no longer taste it.

Quratulain made calculations. Her bullet was not for him. She told the others this was not Nicodemus, and decided that – although it was William Miller who had trapped her in the Vault of Heresies – that she would not reveal herself to him. He clearly had not recognised her.

They were now standing in the cluster of outbuildings at the foot of the lighthouse.

Feeling suddenly sorry for Miller, Gupta apologised for her initial reaction and imbued him with the memory of the taste of leaf of Nicodemus.

He thanked her, drew deeply on the cigarette, and smiled. Then his smile faded as another memory returned. “My accomplice in what I did was an eladrin woman named Kasvarina. Perhaps you have heard of her? She suffered a great deal as a result of my actions. She didn’t deserve what happened to her because of me. I mention her only because I hope she is not your enemy too. Nicodemus… I … We misled her, and whatever she has done since was done…”

“Of her own volition, and is her sole responsibility,” said Kasvarina, suddenly revealing herself. She had been standing with Leon invisibly the whole time.

The moment of their reunion blurred everything for a while. Miller cried out, in greater pain than he had at Gupta’s bone-pointing. Kasvarina stood forward to help him, as it seemed as if he might collapse entirely. She uttered soothing words in response to his sobbed apologies and it became obvious that her presence had made it impossible for him to go on. The unit stood by haplessly until Kasvarina suggested that she take him inside and speak with him until he calmed down. They shrugged their acquiescence. Everyone looked at Leon. If he was okay with it, they were.

Uru returned. While they were talking he had scouted around and found a trail leading off into the jungle. He had followed it for some distance, only to become aware of sensation of great power that dissuaded him from going on alone. Gupta was aware of it too, and given what Nicodemus said, was eager to follow the trail.

Before she did so, everyone became aware of the rhythmic drumming that had accompanied their arrival, but went unnoticed until now. Uru said he had spotted a figure beating some drums round the other side of the lighthouse. They walked around and came across a strange sight: a skeleton, lanky and jaunty in a black cotton jacket with red epaulets and white buttons. He bobbed his whole upper body from side to side to the beat and greeted them enthusiastically. His name was Catahoula, a court wizard and masterful drum major from Iratha Ket, one of the nearby planes. When things became desperate on his world, Catahoula scried Ascetia and saw nothing to threaten him. Of the nearby world it was his best option, so he chose to teleport here blindly. He went on to explain the woes of his home, doing so in a song, conjuring magical music to accompany his tale. ...
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 240, Part Two

Orchestration

[Dear Reader, kindly pop on a syncopated drum beat of some sort, and rap out the following tale in the style of the Fresh Prince. Or something like that. Cheers, DM. Oh, and apologies for the copy-and-paste.]


Centuries ago, a magical plague swept across a world, so vile that even the mages of the great crescent city of Iratha Ket could not cure it. It had infected everyone, and death was only a matter of weeks away. The ruler King Calcasieu, a man renowned for his soulful lyrics and effortless dances, realized that the world was doomed, but he refused to surrender hope.

In a ravishing and rakish duet, King Calcasieu and his Queen Atchafalaya captured the hearts of all their subjects. They decreed that all the young lovers should sleep, paired together in a gentle stasis where the disease could progress no farther. They would be the hope of the future, that some day their people might find a cure and create a new generation. The greater task fell to the older generation. They would be a sustaining song, keeping alive the magic and ceaselessly seeking a way to defeat the disease.

To fulfill this duty, however, they would have to give themselves over to undeath, persisting as skeletons so they would have no flesh that could carry disease. To ensure they would not lose sight of their precious mission, every month two lovers would be awoken, giving the mages another chance to find a cure, and giving the lovers an opportunity to remind the rest of their civilization of how brief and precious life is. Each new pair of lovers would receive a love song of their own. The city would celebrate their awakening, and they would be given all the luxuries the city could provide. If they could not be saved they would also become undead, but the spirit of their people would be refreshed.

Every month a new couple is awoken, and every day songs fill the streets of Iratha Ket, culminating in a parade that runs from the ever-expanding city graveyard (filled with tombstones but no bodies) to the palace, where the couple resides as honoured guests of the king and queen. Skeletons in colourful clothes whirl and croon and dance and play instruments to celebrate that they have not yet fully perished.

And at the end of every month, the two lovers watch each other waste away and die.

Since his decree, King Calcasieu has seen over seven thousand loving couples come and go. The rest of the world crumbled away, and only the crescent remnant of Iratha Ket and its mighty river remains. The greatest wizards of an entire civilization have never found a way to stop the plague, and though tens of thousands of skeletal citizens endure, only a few hundred more couples survive in stasis. The king has fallen into a depression, fearing the ultimate death of his people.


Worse, the undead-hating sun Obliatas now assails the city with greater intensity. King Calcasieu’s magic once kept the monster at bay, causing it to withdraw and ‘set’ occasionally. For the past year, though, Queen Atchafalaya has had to adjust her romantic duets to become solos, and the devouring light has managed to destroy many hundreds of the city’s undead citizens. Those who remain are growing reluctant to sing the necessary songs to keep the stasis magic active, and the latest romantic couple is honestly having a pretty rough time because the singers keep missing their cues.


When his song-and-dance number was finished, Catahoula gave a low bow (although half his audience had vanished, following Gupta into the jungle). Korrigan asked him what he thought of his host. “He is a fabulous philosopher, conversationalist and bon vivant!” Catahoula declared.

Kasvarina came to find them. Her emotional reunion with William Miller was done with for now, and he felt able to continue their conversation, she said. “That is William Miller, just so you know. Not Nicodemus.”

Korrigan and Uriel went to speak with him, accompanied by the ever-vigilant Quratulain. Gupta had already drifted away, drawn to follow the path into the jungle; Uru, Rumdoom and Leon went with her. Kasvarina went after them. The two groups kept in constant telepathic contact, relaying what they saw and heard, just in case.
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 240, Part Three

Lamentation


A well-kept footpath led from the lighthouse into the verdant tangle, and half a mile later reached the grave of Srasma. Beneath a high canopy, the body of the eladrin goddess lay with her six arms crossed over her chest. Srasama’s body seemed vividly alive despite numerous wounds. She neither breathed nor bled, but she looked capable of standing up at any moment.

Shafts of shock quartz, six feet tall and roughly hewn, circled the grove, and each sparkled like a stream in sunlight. Touching one of these obelisks summoned a wash of memories of thousands and thousands of eladrin women who perished in the Great Malice. This was their graveyard, crafted by Miller as penance and as reminder of his hubris. Gupta discovered that by concentrating it was possible to speak with a specific spirit and learn her story. Leon did so too.

Uru nudged Rumdoom and nodded at the goddess. “One hell of an end!” he said.

“That’s how I see myself going,” Rumdoom replied.

Back at the lighthouse, William Miller, having apologised for his emotional reaction earlier, resumed their conversation in an attempt to confirm a suspicion he had. He asked them what made them come to the Gyre, given that they were unable to return.

Uriel said, “I know we will return.”

“How?” Miller persisted.

“I have seen it,” Uriel said cagily. There was an aspect to what he had seen that he did not want to share with anyone. Perhaps if he didn’t say it out loud…?

“When did you see this?”

“Before we came to the Gyre I undertook a Skyseer vision. It confirmed that we will return to Lanjyr. And since we came here I, we…we all had a vision of our return. It matched my own.”

“But can you be sure that is you?” Miller asked. “Forgive my persistence, but I have a theory which may explain what you are seeing. I think you’ve been reflected too. Av, the moon. It’s a plane of mirrors, and the realm you pass through when you’re stepping through a portal. Its power tore me in two five hundred years ago. And when Av shattered a few days ago, the same thing happened to you. One version of you is back home, and the other version is here. Nothing you do here can change what happens there, and nothing the other versions of you do there will make a difference in saving your world, unless you are able to transfer what you have learned. This is a way to do that, but it requires a drastic course of action. You must throw yourselves into the Gyre.”

There was a lot of consternation when this suggestion was shared. Uru threw up his arms and lamented that it had all been a waste of time, visiting planes, gathering icons…

“Not so,” said William Miller. “There may be a way for you forge an even stronger link with those back home…” His eyes bored into Uriel, as if he knew the deva were hiding something…

Meanwhile, during this conversation, Kasvarina had arrived at the eladrin burial site. She approached the goddess and the obelisks with great reverence. When she touched one of the obelisks, the ghost of a young eladrin woman appeared:

It was Dala, Kasvarina’s daughter. They greeted one another formally, with tears in their eyes. It was Kasvarina’s turn to make sorrowful apologies, before Dala questioned her appearance before her in spirit form.

“I am not dead,” she said. “My body resides on our homeworld, until such times as my enemies find me.”

“And what of Launga?”

“Launga perished at their hands.”

The two women sang an eladrin lament. When they were done, Dala spoke excitedly, suddenly remembering something important. She touched her three-piece amber pendant and asked Kasvarina what should become of Srasma’s legacy. As she spoke, the faintly visible, skeletal-faced ghosts of other eladrin women appeared alongside her.

“As you are living, the ranamandala wish for you to carry Srasma’s token back to Lanjyr. There you may decide how to use what remains of her power. …”

Kasvarina raised her hands, interrupting her daughter.

“A far worthier choice would be this woman here,” she gestured to Gupta. “You would not know of the Vekeshi Mystics, daughter, though you of course knew of Vekesh. The Mystics arose in the centuries following the Malice, and seek to bring about… justice… revenge… retribution for our downfall. Gupta Porras represents the Mystics here. She should make this choice.”

The Vekeshi had told Gupta they foresaw a great role for her, and accepted her eagerly into their ranks, knowing she would travel alongside Korrigan into the Gyre. In this moment, Gupta understood why Ascetia had beckoned her so strongly.

Dala turned to her. “Very well,” she said. She took off her necklace and held it out in a clenched fist, offering first vengeance – Srasma’s aid in the final battle against Nicodemus. Then she shifted the necklace to her open palm, offering resurrection – the power to restore to life the women slain in the Great Malice.

“Vekesh left a gap,” said Gupta. “You offer me the choice between maiden and mother. What of the crone? The empty verse?”

Dala frowned and began to withdraw her hand. In that instant, Gupta realised her third choice and took it: she snatched the necklace from Dala’s hand.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
“Vekesh left a gap,” said Gupta. “You offer me the choice between maiden and mother. What of the crone? The empty verse?”
I'm very impressed that my player remembered this detail. And also slightly weirded out that he had Gupta focus on Ascetia from the moment they caught sight of the lighthouse. Both decisions added real weight to this encounter.
 

Adslahnit

Explorer
A bold move, seizing personal power rather than resurrecting an entire population.

I am unsure of why all of these eladrin Malice ghosts are in Ascetia myself. What was your rationalization for them having wound up in Ascetia specifically?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
A bold move, seizing personal power rather than resurrecting an entire population.
Yes it was. I sort of thought Gupta might do that, though. As you will see, Korrigan was not best pleased.

I am unsure of why all of these eladrin Malice ghosts are in Ascetia myself. What was your rationalization for them having wound up in Ascetia specifically?
I didn’t need one.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
I'm very impressed that my player remembered this detail. And also slightly weirded out that he had Gupta focus on Ascetia from the moment they caught sight of the lighthouse. Both decisions added real weight to this encounter.
I honestly wondered when reading that part just how likely it was that a given player would even think to so much as ask about the missing third option. Glad to see it play out properly.

This is not going to be a great moment for Kasvarina's psychological well-being. (Does Dala become Srasama again or are they distinct entities this time around?)
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
This is not going to be a great moment for Kasvarina's psychological well-being. (Does Dala become Srasama again or are they distinct entities this time around?)
Separate. Kasvarina, to my mind, has made her peace with whatever decision Gupta made, however surprising. In my interpretation of the character, her fragility was over by the end of Diaspora. She's made of tough stuff.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 240, Part Four

Usurpation


Dala cried out in horror, and looked at her mother. Kasvarina said nothing, but raised her hands and took a step back to show she had no part in this decision, that she neither approved nor disapproved. Dala demanded that Gupta return the necklace, accusing her of trying to steal the goddess’ power. Gupta refused. “Don’t you not see? The power should be mine.”

At that, the body of Srasma began to rise.

“Gupta!” cried Korrigan in telepathic alarm. Back at the lighthouse, they felt the dark wave of divine anger sweep across them in a nauseating wave. “Why are you doing this?” he demanded.

“I cannot return my family to life; this is not self-destruction.”

These thoughts were expressed together as if they explained one-another, but Gupta did not have time to say much more, as she prepared to withstand the attack of an angry god.

Korrigan decided not to budge; he didn’t feel that he could understand or support Gupta’s decision. Uriel remonstrated with him, and Korrigan reminded him of a time when he took a different stance on a moral issue (back in the vault when Korrigan was tempted by Ashim-Shimtu). “This isn’t the same!” cried Uriel, who had a deeper understanding of these matters and understood what many failed to see when it came to Seedism (hence centuries of doubt and mistrust, and a protracted holy war): that simple, mortal morality was inadequate when it came to the eladrin – especially their gods! At once, he transformed into the fastest bird he could, and tried to cover the half-mile before Gupta came to grief.

Quratulain stayed with Korrigan. “What is happening?” William Miller asked. Korrigan told him and Miller looked towards the graveyards with an expression of wonderment on his face.

And wonder he might. As the Avatar of Srasma rose her face shifted from youthful, to matronly, to haggard, almost cadaverous. She split into three bodies, each six-armed and towering, clad in fine golden jewellery and a dress of deep red.

In response, Gupta invoked the threefold presence of the Vekeshi, and each of her selves moved to face off against a different aspect. One was struck by the flaming sword of the maiden; another trapped within crushing vines, a spell cast by the mother. But she was able to free herself by simply choosing one of her aspects to ‘become’, whereupon she cursed Srasma with the same curse she afflicted William Miller. The goddess would have to stop fighting for a moment, or suffer from mental anguish, but the goddess was too proud and disdainful of mortal magic and refused to do so.

Having attacked Srasma, Gupta now discovered that she had been ineffably linked to the dead goddess, and that her own lifeforce began to fade. She had hoped to rely on her regenerative powers, granted by Wolfgang von Recklinghausen, but she could feel even those reserves beginning to drain.

Rumdoom looked at the others. Uru would not fight if Korrigan chose not to. For his part, Leon said, “I think we should leave this one up to the gods to sort out.”

“That’s precisely why I am joining in!” said Rumdoom, growing to giant size and striking Srasma with the Stone of Not.

“We will become our worst enemies,” Korrigan lamented from afar.

“Then command me to stand down!” Gupta said, through gritted teeth, as another blow struck her.

Korrigan would not.

The Avatar attacked both Gupta and Rumdoom. Gupta fell. Rumdoom pronounced a fiat that prevented the blow from landing on him, but his lifeforce was now linked to the Avatar as Gupta’s was and he felt it began to drain. Fortunately, his was a much deeper well!

Uriel realised he could not hope to reach the graveyard in time. He silently invoked a powerful prayer to… who? Maybe to himself? And a moment later, he appeared by Gupta’s side, healing her with a touch, where her own powers had failed.

Rumdoom struck again with the Stone of Not. It was not powerful enough to obliterate a goddess, but it still landed a blow so powerful that it knocked the crone to the ground.

At once, Gupta invoked the blessing of Hewanharimau, and pounced on the crone in tiger form! Her lifeforce drained again. Rumdoom batted away the maiden’s sword and fought on regardless. Divine spells rained down on both of them.

Uriel did not attack Srasma. Instead, he raised the Staff of the Hierophant and prayed to Gupta! His faith in her boosted her prowess and defended her from Srasma’s attacks.

“I was there when you first fell,” he said to the goddess. “Now I will watch you fall a second time.”

Srasma’s crone incarnation stood, and cast a spell upon Gupta. Black flames burst from within her and the crone said, “Grovel and you might live.”

Gupta did so (knowing that to do otherwise might be the end of her), but all the while, she was gauging the enemy, searching for weaknesses.

More terrible blows rained down on her and Rumdoom. Uriel drained the staff of power in their defence, healing Gupta again and again.

At last, Korrigan relented. He did not want Gupta to die. Telepathically, he asked Leon to “get me there”. Leon obliged and Korrigan appeared. Though he did not act, his very presence bolstered the resolve of his erstwhile protégé.

Incredibly, Rumdoom knocked the crone down a second time. He whooped in exultation. “I’ve floored a god! Twice!”

Gupta pounced again. Her teeth sank into the crone’s throat. All three forms staggered. Her ragged flesh bled starstuff and fire, and she sagged from exhaustion. Her incarnations flickered and vanished for a moment, then reappeared as one, looking down with an implacable expression. She struck at Gupta again and again with sword and spell. At last, the crone demanded she grovel again. Gupta was on her last legs, Uriel unable to heal her again, so she obeyed.

“Very well,” she said, and bowed, very genuinely to the goddess whose power she had claimed.

A wave of divine energy washed over the clearing; Srasma’s Avatar blackened and fell.

As Gupta stood, Uriel took a knee, bowing to this new god, and bathing in the divine energies of the old one.

Rumdoom approached Srasma’s blackened corpse and touched it with the Stone of Not. It vanished. The Stone felt heavier.

William Miller appeared. He took in all before him, but did not judge, or say anything about the terrible events which had just transpired. Instead, he resumed his conversation with Uriel:

“I think there is more to this matter than you are saying. If I am to help you then you must be honest with me.”

Uriel took a deep breath. Then he admitted that the Skyseer vision he had had before they left, and the vision he had shared with the others after Av was destroyed, showed that everyone returned to Lanjyr except for him.

Miller nodded, as if that proved something.

“How many times have you died?” he asked.

“Thirteen,” said Uriel.

“You have reached the limits of mortality. It might be possible for you to transcend human bounds. In this way, you may return to Lanjyr and guide the souls of your friends; guide them home. Perhaps you could even find a way to tell your other selves that help is on its way; otherwise, how will they know what path to take?”

“I have the power to bring objects I have known to my hands,” said Uriel. “If what you say is true, I might be able to give us the golden icons.”

William Miller nodded. “That is also possible.”

Uriel frowned, then took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and concentrated. …
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Oh, I thought you might have meant Korrigan’s initial refusal to help. Rumdoom was more concerned about that. Gupta‘s response will become clear in the next couple of weeks, but we’re back to Lanjyr for a bit.

She’s also got a bit of Hewanharimau in her. How might the two gods mix?
 

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