A Civilised Ending
Return to Scribe Notes
- 1 Summary
- 2 Information
- 3 Scribe Notes
- 4 Miscellany
- 5 Loot / Gifts
- 6 Award Nominations
- 7 Party Organisation
- Darien, a Human Celestial Spy played by Errol
- Amelia - a Halfing Ranger Herbalist played by Rosemary Mansfield
- Mortimer Graves - Halfling (or maybe Halfelf) Wicca played by Martin
Party is full.
- Ithiliderial, a young and compassionate Lunar Celestial and Resonant Phoenix, along with her imaginary friends Princess, Clarissa, Limwen, Maetharenal, and their cousins Adonnenniel and Miss Arandil.
- You can share all of Ithiliderial's old toys, as she hopes to get new ones at her birthday party. You may also have one slice of cake each. Ithiliderial's Governess will supervise the birthday party, and may provide party favours to good little children.
- Game Preview
- Some running around, a little info gathering, some baby-sitting of your employer, overthrowing a few kingdoms, and a children's birthday party. Probably light on Violence and not as heavy on Confusion as some of my games. A little application of the old grey matter, and you'll all be home in time for tea.
- Ithiliderial is turning three and wants a birthday party with her mummy and daddy, but they aren't talking to each other.
- (Clarissa to amend / add as appropriate)
- Two elven households worship the same Goddess and are the only surviving Adepts of the Lunar Celestial college. However, they both believe the other is corrupt and evil, and partially responsible for everything from the War of Tears on down. Their youngest, most impressionable kids have a spring fling, and then are brought to their senses by older and wiser parties. Fifty four years later, the rather dysfunctional love child of this forbidden union, cursed by both families as well as providing her own misfortunes, wishes to bring the families together, not least to stop her own fragile edifice of sanity from falling down around her ears (again). Mum's family is very traditional Alfheim nobility, not convinced of the new Queen, while Dad lives in a commune of crazy drop-outs. Neither side realises (?or cares?) that the Goddess Inanna they worship is an aspect or the Demon Orias. This disagreement has been going on for 35,000 years, and as far as both sides are concerned, it can go on for another 35,000.
- The Unicorn's eye fell upon Alice ... "What is this? he said at last.
- "This is a child," Haigha said eagerly ... "We only found it today. It's as large as life and twice as natural."
- "I always thought they were fabulous monsters," said the Unicorn.
- Alice began: "Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters too ..."
- "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the Unicorn. "If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"
- "If you like," said Alice.
- 'Through the Looking Glass' by Lewis Carroll.
A Useful Summary of Background Information
- Clarissa owes service to the demon Orias in return for sanity, stable memories, and a new left eye. She is pacted to perform this service within "a year and a day", but didn't ask which calendar Orias is using.
- Orias has tasked Clarissa to reconcile the two sundered sub-branches of the Lunar Celestial College:
- Cult of the Blood Moon (full moon)
- Cabal of the Unicorn's Eye (new moon)
Lunar Celestial College
For ease of reference and so that we don't accidentally cause offence we intend to identify the two groups geographically, i.e. Northerners and Southerners.
- Northerners: The Cult of the Blood Moon is centred in the Elven family Arandil ("King's Friend") who are based in the Nordlingen province of Alfheim. The cult worships the Moon Goddess Innana, (actually Orias) and practice the Full Moon variant of the Lunar Celestial College.
- They consider the Southerners as evil worshipers of the demon Eriskigal.
- One of their people killed a priest of the other 'on sight'
- Southerners: the Cabal of the Unicorn's Eye is centred in the Elven village Bandorion in the Adlanna mountains south of Mungodia. The cult worships the Moon Goddess Innana, (actually Orias) and practice the New Moon variant of the Lunar Celestial College.
- We don't know their opinion of the Northerners, but as they are short lived, it may be based far more on family history than actual events.
- One of their priests casually murdered a number of young female elves in Sanctuary during Winter 808.
Clarissa's Contacts with her family
- Clarissa has no memories of her childhood, her earliest recollections start with being abandoned in the southern fringes of the Sea of Grass 20ish years ago.
- She has since found that her parents are divorced and she spent her 1st year (elven long year = eighteen short years) and 11/18th of her second year with her mother's family in Alfheim and the last 7 years of her 2nd year with her fathers family in Bandorian.
- Her maternal grandfather called her "Warrior Princess".
- Her paternal grandfather tattooed her so she would continually forget her maternal relatives.
- Clarissa has visited the Southerners but was still insane for most of the visit and only remembers clearly from when she pacted to Orias.
- Her only contact with the Northerners has been two meetings with her cousin Megildur, and she can't remember many details from the 1st meeting, except that her association with the Spring Rites had greatly offended them . At the 2nd meeting Megildur immediately identified her pact to Eriskigal, and told her that her mother would now be actively trying to kill her (probably with a lot of collateral damage).
The Goddess Innana, Her Dark Sister Eriskigal or the many faces of Orias
- Orias has been worshiped by the Lunar Celestial groups as the Moon Goddess Inanna, or possibly Eriskigal. Whether he deliberately subverted the older mythology or whether over time the elves just mixed it up is unknown.
- He has at least 3 aspects seen by mortals and acolytes can easily differentiate which aspect another acolyte is pacted to (and don't necessarily recognise that it is all the same demon).
- As suggested motivation for Clarissa's service is the power boost he would gain from arranging the end such a bitter and long-standing feud.
- It is unlikely that there is anything expect a mythological link between the worship of Orias and the two twin dragons Inanna and Eriskigal.
Short Summary of Relevant History
- The Lunar clans feud is rooted 25,000 years ago in the The Dakhini Cataclysm, the Northerners blame the Southerners, and probably vice versa.
- I had the impression that this was an example of maiden slaughter, not the root of the conflict? - Errol
- It's the most egregious offence by the Cabal of the Unicorn's Eye, the 'Holocaust' moment. Almost the entire Cult of the Blood Moon was wiped out, and since then, they've been a shattered remnant, bent on revenge -- Andrew
- Fae influences are a common theme throughout Elvish history, and the religions and mythology are rife with their impact. Currently the 'Old Ways' are banned in Alfheim.
- Alfheim has been under a curse of 'Apathy' since the aftermath of the War of Tears. The curse was the combined work of 9 demons and was broken in 808 The Curse on Alfheim.
- The Black Books of Prophesy (not to be confused with the Scrolls of Kael) was one of the curse foci, and also foretold the destruction of Alfheim, triggered by the population falling below a certain point. The philosopher Tangleleaf predicted this threshold being met in the decade 810 – 820 WK.
- To try and circumvent this prophesy the old Fae spring fertility rites (as per the Scrolls of Kael) were promoted by Lucius of Ladlaugh, Isil Eth, Her Majesty's Secret Servants, and Master Philosopher Tangleleaf (once of The University and now Ladlaugh. The Queen's approval was gained and so many took part that tens of thousands of elven babies were born in Vintage 809 WK
- Alfheim is on the brink of civil war. Many recent guild parties have been involved in trying to reconcile the various contending factions with mixed success:
More Detailed Information
- Relevant Geography includes: Alfheim, Adlanna, Moon Timetable.
- Relevant Lore includes: Lost Celestial Branches.
- Clarissa has commissioned some research. Other areas asked about include: The Dakhini Cataclysm, the Maryn Consociation, Inanna, Eriskigal, Orias.
- A partial summary of Clarissa's memories from Summer.
- Relevant History, borrowed from an Alfheim library, includes: Maryn Consociation, the Last Maryn Court, Maryn Races, Maryn Kingdoms, Famous Maryn People, Maryn Dharma, [[Maryn Tribalism].
- Summary of a mythical skill: Celestial Apocalypist.
The prequels to Princess Diaries Volume III: Happily Ever After are:
An Astrology Reading
"Where is Mārtanda and what is she up to?"
An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
I pray you all, tell me what they deserve
That do conspire my death with devilish plots
Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail'd
Upon my body with their hellish charms?
And be your eyes the witness of their evil.
Look how I am bewitch'd; behold, mine arm
Is like a blasted sapling wither'd up.
And this from Aistaraina, that monstrous witch,
Consorting with that harlot strumpet Belle,
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.
Shall I be tempted by the devil then?
Yes, if the devil tempt me to do good.
I should despair. There is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul will pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?
But I shall laugh at this a twelve month hence,
That they which brought me in my mistress’ hate,
I live to look upon their tragedy,
Well set, ere a fortnight make me older.
I'll send some packing that yet think not on't.
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings;
Queens it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.
Conscience is but a word cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.
Methinks I see a thousand fearful wrecks,
Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw upon,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
Some lie in dead men's skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there will creep,
As 't were in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
That woo the dead bones laying scattered by.
I have not yet set down this day of triumph.
To-morrow, in my judgment, is too sudden;
For I myself am not so well provided
As else I would be, were the day prolong'd.
'Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lady,
When men are unprepar'd and look not for it.
But the world is grown so bad, that wrens
Make prey where eagles dare not perch.
Woe betides the land that's governed by a god.
It is a reeling world indeed, my lords;
And I believe will never stand upright
Till mortals wear the garland of the realm.
From the spongy south to this part of the east,
There vanishes the sunbeams; which portends,
Unless my sins abuse my divination,
Success to the mortal host, writ large in the stars.
Indeed, I’ll be no mourner for that news,
Because they have been my fierce adversaries;
But still I'll give my all on virtue’s side
To bar my mistress’s heirs from true descent,
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
Let us to't pell-mell, hand in hand to hell.
A Ritual of Moving a Space through Time
Target: Delineated Area
Number of Participants: Varies, minimum three
Cast Time: 24 hours
Material Components: None
Concentration Check: Standard
- This ritual excises a defined and delineated area of ground from its current time and relocates it in a connected piece of time. Up to a quarter acre may be targeted by a single Mage; this area is proportional to the size of the primary cabal exponentially affected by its depth. By default, the target area may be shifted forwards a single day; this may be altered according to the power available, and the skill of the secondary cabal, in quanta of days, months, or years. This ritual may be performed with additional Mages; this affects many factors, including the area and extent of the time-shift.
- Roles within the Coven
- There are three major roles in this ritual. The primary cabal provides the raw power for moving the target, the focus maintains a grip on the target as the power is funnelled through them, and the secondary collective steers the target to the correct location. The focus must be a single person, or at least be of one will. In most cases one person is also sufficient for the secondary cabal.
- The primary cabal, consisting of practitioners of a single style of magic, will provide the focussed magical energies through conduits to the First Mage. The First channels the power and pours it through the Focus into the targeted area. They must be able to wield and control the potentially vast quantities of energies, or risk magical burnout (permanent MA loss).
- The Focus will serve as a passive vessel for the will of the primary cabal, and is not treated as a part of this, or any, cabal. The Focus must have an unbending will, and retain concentration on the target area and target time, or risk insanity or magical burnout (permanent WP and/or MA loss) and the target area spinning off in an uncontrolled fashion through space and time.
- The secondary cabal, also of a common magical theme, will provide the impetus to shatter the barriers of time and paradox, while smoothing any wrinkles in the fabric of the universe. They also are responsible for the smooth reintroduction of the area into space at the end of the ritual. This cabal is led by the Second Mage, whose role is one of skill and subtlety, not raw power. A highly skilled Second will reduce the difficulty of the Focus’s task.
- Additional people may be required if sentient races, rather than just livestock, are to be transported. Representatives of each sentient race must be present at key times in the ritual, as their race is explicitly invoked.
What I did on my Summer vacation by Maetharenal Arandil, aged 2 and 17/18ths
From Ithiliderial's Journal.
Acting Out and other Attention Seeking Ploys
After Megildur left Ithiledrial casually summons Innana, who requests to re-convene further away from Seagate. In the 10 mins intermission a meteor falls nearby. During the second conversation Orias confirms that Northerners have asked him to rain meteors on Ithiledrial but hasn't promised them that he will hit her. He reminds her that he considers her his 'Messiah', and when asked for more information on the feud suggests he can send her back in time to see for herself. The method is by 'hitting her with a meteorite'. Ithiledrial acts waffly and awestruck and fails to pin down several key points, eg which of the many meteors raining down is the one she shouldn't dodge and she still hasn't checked which calender Innana is using.
We decided to get on the way to Bandorian before the moon rise in the morning and spend the rest of the night resting, researching and getting ready.
We fly south, dodging meteors, pausing in Novadom (where officials quietly ask us to deal with the meteor issue before it is required to be noticed), southern Five Sisters and Azuria for rest (giant lions are tricked away). From Azuria Ithiledrial suggests using Lunar Teleport to go the rest of the way in one shot. She sends Mortimer to Adlanna and then pauses "Oopps I only have three charges of this." After a hurried discussion, she sends Darian and then herself to join Mortimer. Gerald and Amelia use a mix of Fae Travel and flying to make the rest of the distance. They push hard as both groups are too small to be safe in the wilderness, and they reach Adlanna 30 hours later.
Apon arrival on Adlana Isilwán went down the mountain to let her family know she would be visiting in a couple of days. While she was gone Darien and Mortimer were spoken to by a voice (no sign of any body, spirit, el al), who claimed to be Orias. He offered information, specifically for them rather than Clarrisa or any others in the group. Distrust and annoyance led them to decline. Orias negated the guys annoyance at Clarrisa and left Mortimer with little willpower when it came to the demon.
Gerald & Amelia arrived in the wee small hours and slept through until mid morning. Once they were up and about we went into Bandorian for lunch with the locals.
Everyone who was about turned up and over the course of a civilised lunch the following came to light:
- The village/clan has about 100 people
- There is a high proportion of children, about 1 in 3 people
- The oldest were between 200 and 250 years
- These elves practice short lives and re-incarnation with memories. Between dying and re-incarnation the spend time as forest spirits (trees, rocks etc. Isilwán has a hazy memory of talking to a tree last time she visited). When re-incarnated they live around 30 years in childhood and re-learning physical skills then carry on with their 'artistry'. Most of the children seemed to have old souls, so we have no idea how many are true children.
- While they all seem to speak Elven, it is with decidedly "rustic" accent and helped explain Isilwán's charming manner of speaking.
- It is also evident, from the way some of structure their Elven, that it is not their first language and it is very likely that they primarily speak Drow.
- The local cuisine is deceptively simple. Everything can be divided into either salad, though it might equally be a "meat salad", or a dressing, some are powerfully narcotic. However, there is some hint that the crops have been altered, but on combinations of flavours and plant species that would be unlikely to grow in the area.
- They consider the other groups on Adlana, apparently isolated artistic communities like their own, as "weirdos".
After lunch, and a short siesta, an official delegation accompanies the party on the Temple of the Muse and the party are offered information and abilities to assist the Messiah. The Anointed One is reminded that they are under an amount of time pressure and warned that travelling back in time might leave her disorientated.
Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon, Orias!
After a day of variously resting, reading stolen library books, and contemplating their taint, the party permit Isilwán's patron to transport them to former location of the Dakhini sub-continent in the vicinity of a returning meteorite and Amelia's sense of impending calamity guides them to the right spot, some hundreds of feet above the sea.
A point of light appears in the Eastern sky, gradually becoming brighter before seeming to suddenly explode, hurling the group into a blasted crater of smoking earth around a glowing chunk of rock. Variously flying and jumping to safety, and dragging their reeling and slightly scorched employer out, the party find themselves in a muggy, forested hinterland, facing a few terrified Gnolls who had been out gathering food. Mortimer instructs them in most impressive manner to fleeas the end is nigh, and Gerald asks them which land they are in. After telling him, "Yours, master" they manage to elaborate that they have arrived in the ?Chebi? province.
The party retire to a distant tree to assess the situation and plan.
A tentative plan is made to go to Ujjain in Avanti, as a provincial capital, it being cultured without being the complete centre of the Empire, for political fact-finding and a 'dry run' of some sort. It being almost completely in the opposite direction to Savira is initally regarded as a bonus.
The Star Aligns
We spend a "refreshing" afternoon spent in the lower canopy of a tree discussing philosophy, accidental curses, and words to describe a plane shedding a subcontinent's worth of terrain into the sky, while the clouds did their best to wash the ground away before it could even look up. Once the rain subsided after the sunset, we travelled West-South-West looking for the large lake that our only map showed was in the Avanti province. It appeared after almost 5 hours of flying and we turned South, looking for the provincial capital Ujjain.
The southern river valley is clearly densely populated, with numerous small villages, and we soon see a walled city. Within the walls are brightly lit buildings that we conclude must be palaces and temples, while outside spills a tide of single level dwellings. We land and approach the lively, if squat and rather gamey, outskirts of the city and see groups of figures moving around, boisterously greeting each other, merging, and splitting up. We get close enough to see that the are Vanara, simian humanoids about 6 foot tall and dressed. Well, some only bothered with belts, and pants seemed optional, but others were in full robes.
Despite the variety in dress, the appearance of a couple of Elven, or at least Elf-like, figures was universal. Once in the range of their night vision (about 50') the jovial figures flung themselves down, some rather unsteadily, in a practised and instinctual gesture of obeisance. The few words we hear are panicked and fearful. We walk past, double back, and out of sight so we can "humanise" Isilwán with an illusion and Mortimer takes a more hobbitish appearance. Our second attempt to pass discretely is much more successful with those we pass merely kneeling and muttering resentfully about "overlords".
We proceed up to the gates, where two burly Vanara guards in light bronze armour bring themselves even more to attention and present their heavy spears across their bodies with their palms up, in a stance with is partially inviting inspection and virtually disarming themselves. We express our wish to enter the city and they notify the inner guards with a quick "Someone's coming! Now!" and we kindly pause long enough for the group on the other side of the gate to get themselves into a fit state.
Once through they escort us from the parade ground-like area immediately inside the gate, clearly imagining that we know where "our quarters" are, so we send one ahead to "prepare for our arrival" and follow his trail. At the other end we find ourselves a sizeable palace and are exchanged between our escort and the building's own guard. They stay outside however, and we are shown to our rooms by some Vanara servants, who appear to be blatantly playing up their knuckle-walking as a gesture of subservience, at least while in sight. We express a reluctance to disturb the "other masters" and have some food brought in before we rest.
Darien, Mortimer, and Gerald skulk into the palace to look for DA targets and other intelligence. Skirting the Vanara servants napping in the corridor, ready for their master's summons one presumes, they find at least thirty Vanara and three humans on our floor. The human's are somewhat entangled in a nest of cushions, but there is enough showing of each to determine the following;
|Aura Strength||Species||Gender||Prime Magical Ability||Spell||Skill||Taint Level||Taint Source|
|Short-Lived Sentient||Human||Female||Coercion / Charm||Mass Charm||Courtier||50%|
|Short-Lived Sentient||Human||Male||Knowledge||80%||Corrupted Knowledge
( Ascension to Sentience )
They also spot two colleged Vanara, both Celestial Very Dark and having 100% Taint Level. We really haven't figured out what that means, but it makes Darien nervous.
On the basis that we are totally out of our depth in this culture and wish to be asked as few awkward questions as possible, Mortimer suggest that we imply strongly that we are members of an ancient order of inquisitorial busybodies on the basis that he has the memories of a member and while it's possible that they no longer exist, their style and tradition of travelling in "Stars" of five is likely to have lived on. Isilwán's human Illusion is maintained for the time being.
It's quite late in the morning when the curtain our chamber is lightly jangled in lieu of knocking and we receive a visitor. It's the Courtier that was DA'd last night, who is a confident and very professional woman in her mid-40's dressed in a very light, but very Elven style of dress. She greets us warmly, and doesn't seem remotely alarmed that we have appeared unannounced and are full of rather blunt questions.
If she's thrown by our garments and accents, she hides it excellently, but she does quip about whether the capital has moved Northwest (towards either the Drow or Alfheim) since they were last updated. She offers to show us around "the departments" - making a number of mysterious comments about the "native departments" and the (Vanaran?) King as well as "not needing to disturb the Mara". Her own speech is a puzzling fusion of Elvish, Eldaran, and Drow, as are the signs around the departments, but between the party we are able to manage.
We randomly choose the Dept. of Agriculture, on the basis that we know they have crops and the impacts of meteorites might make it into crop reports. We are lead there semi-directly, but making sure we see a number of rooms with people scribing furiously in them. The Dept. of Horoscopy is particularly packed, with new hires (younger than the average 35 to 65 years of age the rest seem to be) and extra desks, so we make sure we squint at random pieces of paper, arbitrarily request that some are copied (an annotated star chart in particular, feauring a rogue or totally erroneous feature), and generally make a ominous nuisance of ourselves. The bureaucrats are magnificently composed for the most part, until one looks at Isilwán, blanches, and flees the room.
Apparently the illusion was not sufficient, and a spot of eavesdropping when the our host is informed is rather revealing.
From this point, our host is very nearly as composed as before, but the bulk of her attention is clearly focussing on Isilwán. Before this point, the hobbits in the party were politely acknowledged when they drew attention to themselves, but from this stage they are clearly not the priority.
Once we make it through the Dept. of Education to the Dept. of Agriculture and have rifled through some more piles of paper, several facets of the culture (or at least bureauculture) and the information we seek have made themselves apparent.
- No-one has asked our names or offered their own.
- Frightening amounts of very high level statistical information is being funnelled somewhere.
- It's largely numerical, the only things that seem to rate names are settlements, and it's being further condensed into reports.
- While they are good with star-charts, they have no apparent love for maps of terrain.
- Reports of weapons and troops appear to be handled separately, making it difficult to quickly estimate numbers, but it appears to have quite a large standing army.
- Vanara are rated somewhere below livestock, at least in flood loss reports.
- The offices are staffed entirely by humans, while the Vanara run messages and keep the place tidy. None of the humans we've seen have been faintly martial or imposing.
- There have been reports of at least half a dozen "sudden and unexplained sink-holes or subsidences" that could well have been impact sites.
We way away an escort on our return journey, trusting our various time-and-efficiency experts to find our way back. We are definitely being "followed", although it's apparently just gawking. On our way we pass through a scriptorium. Documents are being copied, translated (into Drow) and triplicated. Feeling thoroughly exhausted, we return to our rooms before the heat of the day becomes too oppressive.
- Which floor of the Palace are we staying on?
- The third floor (G,1,2,3), in a luxurious near-deserted residential wing / courtyard, distant from the hoi-polloi.
- Other Departments?
- In additon to the aforementioned Depts of Horoscopy, Education and Agriculture, others you passed through or saw references to include Depts of Defence, Culture, Enlightenment, Trade, Dharma, Outland Relations, Administration, and Ecology.
- Did we check the age of Amelia's gifted maps? I recall that we checked something - actually, it was the Hiin amulets, where revealed to be from our own Epoch.
- The maps were recent copies, along with the history book.
Vanara, in their Midst
We are sitting down to lunch to analyse the findings of our inpromptu audit, when we are spectacularly interrupted. A flaming Elven figure lights on the roof across the courtyard of our 3rd floor room. It flexes, poses in a relatively masculine way in slab-like golden armour, and clenches his blazing fists and freezes. A short while later, an animated column of water sluices out of the room on our level and curves back over the eaves to form into another figure. This one makes a small performance of brushing the water off of his magically sodden clothing, and also stops, as if waiting. The fiery one changes poses, but nothing very tactical appears to be happining. Given the weirdly theatrical nature of their manner, we do little to provoke them beyond a few DAs. Mortimer is able to determine that both are aligned to a power, which is Dharma, but they are, in his words, "eating the same hat."
A moment after Isilwán's magical eavesdropping awareness is triggered, and dark, feminine figure drops from above to hang in the air in the centre of the courtyard. The fiery figure crosses from the roof opposite us, to the one on our left and then he and watery figure moves to our balcony and dramatically hold the already open shutters to our room.
The Mara Manas swept into the room, cloak billowing and with an expression of distain and clear displeasure. She is intensely offended that Isilwán did not present herself to her and go "through channels". Isilwán's attempts to explain that we weren't sure that she was the best person to approach about trivial reports of stars falling from the skies do not do anything to curry favour since she is administratively "the best person" in the province and that there are categorically no meteors. The fact that we are being sponsored by Inanna means nothing to her, and she is assumed to be some minor courtier in Savira. We are invited to leave.
On the basis that the still Wanderer Magic-frazzled Isilwán is flailing with an unfamilar language and customs, the rest of the party are not likely to be suffered to speak, and smoke is rising from the ground where the Mara is standing, scraps of dignity are gathered and we retreat. She lets us leave with a promise that "If your mistress does not present herself to make reparations within a week, I will come and find her."
Mortimer had determined that the Mara's college provided her with the title "Fell Sorceress of the Mind and Soul" We flee Ujjain and decide try and find more more information from the common Vanara on the "road" to Savia, the capital of the Maryn Consociation. Sadly, this leaves Darien, Gerald, and Isilwán disguised as Vanaran porters, while Mortimer and Amelia work the legendary Hobbit mojo of "getting along with folks".
Having flown a north distance out of the city (also upriver as this river/lake chains's source flows from the mountains south of and backtracks north, east, then south across to the other side of the sub-continent) we stop, adjust our appearance and approach a village just as the afternoon deluge starts up. There are no inns or hostlers in the village, and little in the way of civic buildings beyond a small fertility shrine, decorated with statues of gravid Vanara and heaped with offering of fruit. However, the first inhabitants we speak to are extremely happy to give us shelter. Sadly, as they are simple, rural folk (and, let's face it, covered with damp monkey-fur) packed into a small, mud-daubed hut in high humidity, some of the party cannot enjoy the hospitality to it's fullest.
They are happy to respect any unwillingness to talk on our part, and even happy to answer questions about themselves, their relationship with "THEM" (the name given to the Consociation, particularly in the form of it's human functionaries), and the other peoples of the Dakhini peninsular.
- The Vanara are, by nature, exceedingly gregarious, talkative, jovial, proud, and not even remotely concerned about tomorrow. If today the rice is growing, your village is well, and you have a bowl of fermented mango jiuce in reach, all is right with the world.
- The Consociation has occasionally attempted to change their way of life, such as to implement unsuitable methods of crop rotation or needed to have the statues at the shine explained to them as "iconographical representums", and consequently they are regarded as foolish. They are paid their due (tax/tithe?) in rice, but that is all.
- The other Hiin are largely regarded as "just folks", though the tigeresque Dawon are to be treated with caution, with the exception of the Karbi, which are just pests. There may have been a couple of smoked on the steps of the shrine.
- Human's a barely regarded as people, rather pesky acts of Dharma or agents of the bureaucracy.
- Elves are hardly mentioned at all. even in their guise as Gods.
- Female names Vanaran tend(?) in -i e.g. Clari (Clarissa), Ami (Amelia)
- Likewise, male names to end in -a e.g. Rama, Nara, Dara (Darien) and Gera (Gerald).
- Overly clever philosopher Hobbits can keep changing their names to establish a pattern, but if they give themselves a female suffix, it's misheard and assumed to be a male one.
After spending the night in the village, we head to the river to catch a lift in the direction of the most recent talked about "sink-hole" report, and begin to suspect that gossip is more important than hard currency to the Vanara.
A small passing river boat is hailed and the 3 crew are happy to give us a lift. They are relatively well travelled and, if it was at all possible, even more talkative than the villages. We learn many things.
Their Cargo and Trade
- The reports we saw in Ujjain are sent to the capital by these seemingly random pickups and drop offs, by family operated bartering concerns.
- Consequently, there is no timetable or route, but just following the river along appears to agreeable to them.
- The crew do not regard these documents as anything more than pretty, and break open a oil-skin package to make gifts of some to us.
- Apparently the entire system runs on ><, that some portion of the cargo is taken by the crew as payment for shipping the remainder.
- This give us a clue as to why so many copies were made in Ujjain.
- The boat is wide bodied, with strange, upward protrusions at the stern and bow. These were apparently mandated by the Consociation a generation or two ago. Widely regarded by the Vanara as another one of "those" ideas.
- Fishing, especially for Mogmogs (sizeable, fish(or hobbit?)-eating crocodilians with a bulbous snorkel on their snouts) is a permanent diversion.
- Tale-spinning and philosophy (well, arguing) take up much of the remainder.
Gods, Peoples, Rumours and Legends
- Hanuman (originally Hana, a good Vanaran name, that was later embellished) has many stories told about him. These start with mistaking the sun for a mango, catching it, and becoming immortal, and get more spectacular from there on.
- The division between Dharma and the old ways is represented among the crew, but is by no means acrimonious.
- Dharma teaches that Vanara are curious, brave, clever and are great communicators, travellers, traders, poets, and mathematicians. The river traders are very proud of the poets and mathematicians of their people, who they are sure are in the Provincial Capital. All of there stories are reinforce this cultural identity.
- War has not impact the local area in living memory, and there are some confusing statements about the Vanara being libertrated, or freeing themselves, and joining the Consociation.
- Mention of bull/toad headed gods, appearing from the sky and killing a humans.
- The Drow are referred to directly, and are considered to be "not that bad", but almost as stuck as the humans. However, given how freely the Vanara part with information, the Drow are probably not gong to bother to be intimidating, if that is what they are after.
After travelling into the night (our hosts are happy to help out and Mortimer gifts them with a plain bronze bowl which pleases them greatly) we leave the river and head west to investigate the rumours of a sinkhole. Our excuse that "we heard about it and wanted to come see" is totally convincing and we are by no means the only there to do so. We are taken to the site, which sports burn-marks, felled trees, and 80lb iron meteor in a 20' crater filled with water. We distract our guides long enough for Mortimer to discover the meteor is part of a Celestial Apocalypse.
Amelia is not please to be the prime suspect again.
Down the River
After much conversing, Amelia is to study her skill and the meteor as we head down the rive to the capital. We are still disguised as Vanara, so we simply borrow a boat and wave as we leave.
- Squads of Rabari (wolves)
- Dawon (Tigers) reportly in the town
- Brahmin (Bulls), red cloaks with insignia of the various temples
- Gnolls (Jackals)
- Sora (Pig-men)
- Bharia (Goat-men), each various amounts of horn
- Dhole (Red-dog men) - Even somewhat sober, they are even more of a rabble than drunken Vanara, we see them push over a stall and steal food, the Rabari (watch?) are summoned and they give chase
Mortimer and Gerald volunteer to take a package to the Dawon - it turns out to to be heavily spiced, not-quite-rancid meat - at the gate-house tower. The Dawon are sunning their all 8' svelte, muscular frames, a single Dawon rouses instantly and complains that they are late, cuffs Gerald down the stairs and experientially throws Mortimer off the tower. Presumably the junior.
Mortimer speaks to a number of Brahmin, and check their hat size as he does so:
- exclusively priests? heavily Dharmic and rules orientated
- `20% are pacted to the "Tribal Gods", who we know better as the 72-ish in animal guise
- Marchosias, Orias, Buer, Ipos, Haagenti, Alloces, Bael
- they aren't very secretive about it - provides service and make prayers on behalf of supplicants in the fields of the patrons influence
Temple/Academy of Maths? There are statues of a celebrated Vanara mathematician, created log tables, which are now learnt by rote. The nearby temple of Poetry is run in almost exactly the same way, just with a slightly different service to populace.
We see many Bharia, all apparently coarse and rough tradesmen and artisans or whore and thugs. Their place in society is apparently the lowest, virtually beyond the pale, but tolerated as no-one else wants to the work they do. That said, the working girls won't service the Dawon or Rabari, for obvious reasons.
We continue to drift for a few more days through the provinces of Malava and Kunti, which are the parched domain of the Dhole. None of the tiny, lawless shambles that pass for villages along this stretch are remotely inviting, and these provinces are clearly not receiving much of the benefits of the centralised control.
Through to Nishada without incident, we restock and encounter a slightly more urbanised and energetic sort of Vanara. They are disparaging of the their Avanti kin as being "lazy, mountain hicks".
We continue along the river through the Madhu Forest and Northern Chedi (the province that we landed in) and start to see the Dimasa. The snake-men are largely priests as well, and have smooth convincing voices and eerily detachable jaws. Mortimer checks them for affiliation and turns up an interesting additions to the list including; Aim (several examples), Amon, Asmoday, Belam, Marchosias, Orias, Person, Vine.
As a side note, the average range of MA for the priestly peoples encountered is about 13-26 for the Dimasa and 22-23 for Brahmin. Colleges of Deep Earth and Fell Mind and Soul are spotted noted. The Karbi are definitely sentient, but untutored, suspicious and paranoid, as befits their treatment as essentially vermin and it's possible that they are diminished from what they once were. However, they still have an MA range of 20-28. Mortimer has a unaccountable affection for the little fellows.
Amelia's investigations keep her in the make-shift wheel house for most of the trip, but her research on the stars, charts, and meteor give her an interesting glimpse into the Apocalypse that's fermenting. It's not the standard format of someone using this skill, and it's target, intent, and scope are complex and unclear. Neither is the obligatory loophole that's required with these things, It's not due within the month, but should strike in the next year.
Approaching the capital, Savira, we start to see large, 10 oared river-boats out-number the smaller craft, and pull up to a small pier, near a set of immense wharves, and prepare our story into the night, planning to pose as a baffled young lady and her entourage of healers and pharmacists, who has been compelled to travel in search of a remote land that she she has received troubling visions regarding. Since this is the absolute truth, perhaps with a coat or two of varnish (or at least stain), it shouldn't be too hard to rely on.
Disembarking early the next morning, our apparently human members draw instant attention and the Dawon secure the landing area until we are clear. Leading from the docks to city is a 100' wide flagstone road raised from the swampy surrounds, stretching 10 miles to curving white walls of the city. The traffic is spontaneously throttled onto the other half of the road, leaving us with a clear path, but the journey is still a protracted 4 hrs. Most of the party hang off the foot-plates or keep watch from the roof, leaving Isilwàn to enjoy the humid and jarring trip inside the small,unsprung onager-drawn carriage.
Drawing closer to the 40' walls of Savira, it becomes obvious that they are artistically rippled and curved in ways that no military scientist would consider wise, but is none-the-less very attractive. It is obvious that the sizeable percentage of the land within is given over to beautiful temples or palaces. We are ushered through the gates, and hurriedly met by a bureaucratic delegation who are clearly quite agitated that they got less warning than four hours that it took us to get along the road. However, the appearance of a somewhat dazed-looking Isilwàn from the coach galvanised the group still further and the attendant Dawon immediately clear a path "up-town", scattering peoples and vehicles by leaping into the centre of each intersection and roaring hugely. They seem to be enjoying this exercise, but everyone else seemed slightly green and the onager are whipped to unheard-of speeds through the suddenly cleared streets.
The carriage arrives abruptly at a glassy, modestly sized tower, with a small garden and a pond with haltered Unicorn grazing next to it. Isilwàn, and her baggage (which it seems that rest of the party has suddenly been promoted to) are escorted inside, and she is introduced to the The Gracious Mother, styling herself as "Lady Aunée" for reasons that are not immediately obvious to the party. The Gracious Mother receives an assurance that the modest lodgings are suitable and promises to request an audience with the Queen with all possible decorum, as well as inform the diplomatic representatives from her apparent origin. The "flunkies" on both sides exchange a series of coded glances, largely indicating the new arrival is here for "her health" and to keep her away from unsavoury elements.
Tea on the Terrace
The party then collapses for a time, before a human functionary is heard approaching (the acoutics are impressive, and the passage seems to shift as needed to get the august personage traversing it to the right destination) and delivers an invitation to afternoon tea with their Excellencies, Deimakius and Taurnil Arandil; the Seleskian (the Drow Satrapy on the Western border of the Consociation) and Alfheim Ambassador respectively. There is a spirited attempt at getting the "monkey-smell" out from our best clothes, and Isilwàn was lead to bathe in the pond we saw approaching the tower, though the Unicorn had thankfully been stabled and somehow there were now shrubs enclosing the glade. The soap-tolerant fish were a puzzle though.
Mid-afternoon "Lady Aunée" took tea on the balcony with the gracious gentlmen, while her food-taster hovered nearby and the others arranged themselves around trestle tables, waiting for an opportunity to help their mistress with some finer point of reality or suchlike. They are most forthcoming with advice and warnings about speaking to the local... ...nobility is apparently the wrong word. They frankly describe the Maryn Court as being functionally godlike and advised either approaching them on their own deific terms, acquiesce instantly to anyone, or by gaining the stewardship of either of their mighty Empires as protection.
Neither seems enchanted with the prospect however, and as they casually assay the meta-physical abilities of the "help" (Glass the Chameleonic Food-taster, Amelia the World-Breaking Pharmacist, Darian the Shadow Healer, and Mortimer the Slightly-Infused-with-The-Light Tutor) they are apprehended the odd notion that "Lady Aunée" was herself coying concealing her true, daemonic nature. They were good sports about however, and Deimakius didn't even call his pacted (Marchosias, again) Temporal Adept(?) out of his suddenly still trance-state to show off. They are obviously a home in the setting and with each other, as through the interview they casually fence regarding the origin of the "recently ascended" and which one is "one of your lot". Deimakius was a striking ebony figure, dressed in severe black attire, while Taurnil Arandil wore the traditional blue, white, and gold of the northern capital.
We collect a pretty complete picture of the numbers of Elves in the Consociation, which is rather slight for a civilisation, if not for a pantheon. There are maybe 60 in the capital and another 12 making up the triumvirates that rule each of the regions. Feeling slightly more to have a handle on things, but not what would be done next, the party talk the young Isilwàn to summon her patron, despite her misgivings about his local incarnation appearing on the back of rather doomed and unlucky onager.
- We also meet with the Dwarves from their consulate and tell them to get out of dodge.
No Ass, Alas
11 August Panic. Meeting with the Seven Celestials of Aditi. Panic. Sleep.
- Instead of regular Orias, we get Surya, Lord of the Sun and one of the
eightseven Celestial Adityas. Better than the tiger riding an ass, though. He seems pretty unshocked by the story and invites us to meet the rest of the "family".
- Surya Leaves behind a Satanic Eared Nightjar to keep an eye on us.
- The Adityas are as normal and various as ancient, stupendously powerful entities get, only two actively display abilities much beyond normal but they are clearly being gauche. However, Mortimer witnesses the difference between Dharma being generated and Dharma being consumed (unconsciously) to cause effects.
- There is obvious enmity between the Full and New Moon ladies.
- There is a missing Aditya, a female who presided over Shadow and was exiled a little after the time that Dharma came to ascendency about 1400 years ago. Referred to as "The Corrupter"?
- Shadow is related to Souls, including Healing and Patching. The Wanderer Aditya is impressed at the work Clarissa has "had done" on hers.
- Dharma is not a spiritual exercise for them. The penalties accrued by the mortal races for not practicing Dharma are channeled up to them, while the individual mortals gain Dharmic energy from their fellows and following the rules. This simply means the Elves barely have to pay attention to them and can effortlessly fulfil their whims, and it is the best thing since bread.
- The Orcs of Kalinga gave Dharma the "critical mass" to truly change the Consociation and elevate it's rulers. They have a voice on the Ascendency council, and are regarded at being good at following the rules, and phenomenal at breaking them.
- Several species were "descended" when it became clear that they were unmanageable. These include Karbi, Fox, Elephant, Asp, and Cobra-people. Apparently the Elephants just sulked, and the rest were trouble.
- These are considered the original families, the Nostariel, mistakes however (English translation, please).
- The New Moon Aditya, currently occluded by her "sister" and behaving in rather withdrawn fashion, is drawn out enough by Mortimer to notice that he and Darien have a mark that she doesn't remember placing on them but is convinced she must have. She removes this, and the Willpower penalties placed on them by Orias' travel magic is gone.
From this encounter we start to conjecture that the Celestial Adityas were collectively part of the energies absorbed by Orias during the "unfortunate event" and that the division between the New and Full Moon made that energy somehow divided, turbulent, or indigestable. What happens to everyone else, and what triggers it is still a mystery.
Our evening is an extremely busy one. After supper we receive distinguished guest after distinguished guest, start with Agni (Aim) who distinguishes himself by not being the raving, hapless head-case of his more recent reputation. He was friendly, if extremely frank, and stated that we were the third such group of time travelling "Lockian" mercenaries (from Sea-gate?) and wanted to know that was going on. (A polite request for someone to help the scribe with what we actually told him.) He did not stay long, and excused himself via the balcony at the next set of approaching footsteps.
We are then joined by Princess Malia, Queen Brihadhra's daughter, who is dressed in relatively plain robes which Clarissa interprets as a rebellion against the eye-straining opulence of rest of the court. (The rolled plaits on either side of her head might be a bit much, though.) She pleads with us to to be taken south, confirm that our speculative itinerary has been getting a wide airing. She is a pleasant lass, but when we ask if we should be concerned about alarming anyone in the court, she's that no-one here would miss her and it was best not to trouble them.
Also, she managed to give Amelia a sharp, if temporary, sense of peril while she (Malia, not Amelia) has her back to her. She is a Fell Sorceress but not yet very powerful, and completely unpacted according to Mortimer, so we're not sure why. In any case, "Lady Aunée" is quite sympathetic to her plight and family reunions (not too mention diplomatic access) are the order of the day, so we promise to do what we can.
After Marlia leaves and we are graced with the consecutive company of a over-trained, posturing bully (or Marut), and vapid, shallow, and viscous gossip (or Vasu). They clearly just visiting to score points on their fellows and we have to chivvy them out before "Lady Aunée" is overcome by the dubious nostalgia of it all.
- Clarissa and Mortimer do a double Astrology reading.
- Receive Note from Daksa
- "To the Glass of Dark Reflections. Please inform your mistress that I have headed south, after contemplation of her grim news, as conveyed by Surya. Please wait one full day, then arrange for someone to lok after 'Fainauriel' (Whitefire), my unicorn, as he can't travel with me. He likes apples. Daksa."
- Interview with High Queen Aistaraina.
- Rapid packing, and collection of Malia.
- Amelia does post-match interview with Amitraghata, gains a Little Ami.
- Party + Malia and Ami flee south under cover of darkness, continue on under pale pink and then blazing blue skies until mid morning -- when they first see the Kalingan Wastes, and the Penumbra.
Isilwán is either starting crack under the strain, or has actually made a breakthrough. She wants to move the entire land-mass one Great year forward into the modern age, explaining it's absence from contemporary maps and saving the lives of millions. There is some suspicion, candidly enough even from her, that she's largely doing it to be the centre of attention, but we have to return home somehow. Since walking back doesn't appeal maybe we can hitch a ride?
After that breath of fresh air and discussing the astrology reading further and we head further south, and the scenery begins to reflect the conflict that has raged in this corner of the Consociation for so long. There are many miles of cleared terrain, smelting pits, encampments, and Rabari, Dawon, and Orcish troops everywhere.
Beyond that, a huge no-man's-land stretches from the last Maryn fortifications to the edge of a river and the foot-hills of the Klingan mountains. We fly high over the conflict area, looking signs the civilisation that has held out against the might of the Consociation for so long. There are dense plumes of smoke rising from the amongst the peaks, but they are not volcanic, and there is no sign of any large cities on the far side in the foothills leading down to the sea.
We are forced to conclude that Kalinga is a largely subterranean and stop to rest on a outcropping with a good vantage point for a space of time in the afternoon. Princess Malia then helps us, somewhat uncertainly as though being upstairs wasn't very familiar to her, to find a concealed entrance. The Orc who appears from the hidden guard-post challenges us with appropriate ferocity and then undermines that by cheerily (and rather familiarly) greeting Malia. We are slotted under the "with Malia" diplomatic category, and lead inside.
- Meet Brihadhra of Kalinga ('Queen of the Orcs'), and her consort Ben ('King of the Orcs')
Get annoyed atDeliver Princess Malia and "preserve" Little Ami.
- Find Daksa.
- Find Martanda. Close!
- Check out Kalingan Orc culture. Ummmmm...
Mārtanda called by by Darian via a novel interpretation of Shadowwalking, on the basis that this south-eastern edge of Dakhinni is covered by the same "shadow", and it is probably centred on the very Aditya of Umbral Shadow we wanted to talk to. Isilwàn was immediately struck blind, deaf, and numb at the appearance of shadow swathed figure who closed the "window" that Darian had opened and walked through a larger door. (Mortimer and Darian later reflect that her is strangely familiar, and while we are conversing one of the party spots a fire appear on the distant hill.)
After some slight introductions Mārtanda points out that she is loath to trust us, as Mortimer is sporting a note saying "Read Me" on his aura, in her own hand writing, and she is rather frank that she wishes to overthrow the Consociation "overlords".
Reasoning that she left the message in head via Orias, Mortimer let her into his internal library. He finds himself escorting a young, pretty, slightly near-sighted and bookish looking human woman, who respectfully remove her slippers. We reason it out that she is the "E" in the note, and the Eleniel who authored the Arthaś-āstra during the reign of first Maryn Queen Calathiel.
The package contains three of her published works; The Ascension of Non-sentients, the Arthaś-āstra, and the Book of Umbral shade. We've see the effects of the first three now; the uplifted species of the Hiin , the bureaucracy of the consociation, and the shadowy figure of Mārtanda that stands before us that once was the quiet, determined Eleniel.
However, the fourth book is a collection of case studies and optimistic projection for the elevation of Immortals to the state of transcendence, either through terrible or wonderful release of energy. She apparently was planning to write this book, and Orias and Mortimer between them have allowed to skip 25,000 years of research. Eleniel takes a copy from package, mysteriously leaving one behind and their brief communion is over.
For saving her that effort, Mārtanda tell us that her Apocalypse is timed to strike in 6-8 months, and the falling stars spiralling towards Savira and the centres of Maryn power were the required, if obscure, portents. It seems likely that she has no necessity to feed a sense of melodrama and actually allow the various Maryn demi-gods a "fair chance" to undo it.
The distant fire has now resolved itself in a flaming chariot, drawn by a four different elementals and driven, according to Mārtanda, by Amitraghata (the Slayer of Enemies). She tosses her shadowy vestments to Darian, and vanishes back into the shadow.
Not wanting to be executed in her stead, and fearing Amitraghata's fire control is not very fine, Darian uses the vestments to Shadowwalk the entire party to safety. Along with the entire hilltop. However, in his excitement, he forgets to move himself, and ends up having a slightly strained conversation with former queen. There is a lot of orders being given and not quite accepted, we eventually get Darian back, with a present that he promised to give to Mārtanda, and we return "little Amy" to her mistress's keeping.
We spend a little time on the displaced hilltop, which is now south of the equator, and discuss how we can put the "crazy plan" into action, and whether need to include Mārtanda. Despite us talking about some very dangerous topics Dakśa seems entirely open to helping, though remembering how "intense" her fellow Aditya can be, she thinks she might help us too. We study the "present", and having determined it's a box shielding a tear in reality that is pouring forth life-infused light and would be less than healthy for an "Umbral Shade" to open, we deliver it with a full warning (and it placed on a neighbouring hill). Mārtanda isn't surprised by such things any more, but seems open to the "crazy plan" and proposes "tagging along" with Darian as he fills in for her in the Secondary Collective.
This settled, she "invites" her sister Aditya to stay until the ritual, and we jaunt back to Kalinga and break down the plan for Queen Brihadhra and King Ben. The Queen sees an opportunity to sue for peace and add the Kalinga dharmic energy to the ritual (also ensuring that Kilinga isn't left behind) and send Princess Malia back with us to open negotiations.
Things to do?
- Reconcile Clarissa's family.
- Reunite/Kill the 'Seven' Celestials.
- Save/Destroy the Peninsula.
- Help/Hinder Orias. ???
- Save/Kill/Ignore the other 16 million sentients.
- Get hit with giant meteorite.
- Avoid experiencing the Peninsula hit the Moon.
Oblivion and Cake
We arrive back in Savira with 11 days to prepare for the ritual and somehow win the Queen and court over to this reckless and wrong-headed venture.
Immediately after we land we secure an appointment to speak to Amitraghata and relate a lightly spun version of our trip South, de-emphasising that Martanda's culpability and highlighting Queen Brihadhra's newly-found spirit of co-operation, reinforced by the return of malia. We also discover the that "Little Amy" is still a statue, fractured from being unceremoniously dumped into Amitraghata's chariot, and take a moment to restore her so that she can corroborate our claims as far as she can and ensure she does not remain a broken paper-weight. Her lady seems less than sensitive to such things.
A committee is arranged with unseeming haste and we send the Hobbits to present our case and offer assistance with the logistic and thaumathurgical nuances. However, the exercise of getting approval is a formality,as the Queen is in favour and everything flows from there. Even the party's employer's patron is on board for the plan. The bureaucracy is kicked into high gear and the areas of responsibility are assigned and the structure of the required "power pyramid" is hashed out. Yama, the Lord of Death will manage logistics and Kubera, The Golden One and Councillor of the North is to oversee the calculations involved.
The two non-Dharmically powered beings (Surya and Agni) have roles outside of the power pyramid, as their sourced is incompatible with the rest of the court's. Agni will manage the structure of the pyramid along with Mortimer and Amelia (who planned to keep an eye on him) and Surya will take his place alongside his fellow fellow Aditya in guiding the land of the cataracts of 25 thousand years of time.
At some point during this time it is pointed out that it's necessary that an entity with "unbending will" is required to act the focus for the day long ritual. "Lady Aunée" volunteers to shoulder this task and everyone is surprised when she is able to produce credentials that the future incarnation of her patron has gifted her with this quality. The party absorb this information with less difficulty than you might expect, having already seen monkeys doing mathematics at this point in the trip, and forge ahead with the preparations.
Over the next week Glass and Lady Aunée travel the provinces (allowing her to become more in tune with the land she will be trying to stop flying apart during the ritual and him to alert various fae people in the district to hunker down or flee), the planned celebrations of the Queen's birthday are amplified to enrich the Dharmic power pool further, and the Dharmic representatives are recalled to the capital and drilled in the ritual.
The best structure for the "power pyramid" is determined to be a 5 tier 1-3-6-18-36 pattern, the Queen Aista-raina channels power to the focus while she is bolstered by her three senior advisers, the Trimurti, who are in turn supplied Dharmic energy by 2 ranking Courtiers who each have 2 middling demigods supporting them, who in turn are supported by 2 of the lesser lights of the the Consociation. This will allow a constant and quite ridiculous amount of Dharmic power to flow to the Queen before she has to draw on her own reserves. It's very clear that the less Dharmically invested and capable members will be unable avoid releasing the vast portion of their energy reserves as the 24 hours ritual grinds on, and will likely be exhausted and weakened until Dharmic sacrifice from the Hiinn restore them but their sacrifice will allow their superiors to stay the course during the whole ritual.
The Aditya practice weaving a web of light, darkness, and celestial markers to guide the passage of Dakhini with Darian stepping, rather conveniently, into the rule of understudy to Martanda. This will allow lady herself to attend and contribute, hidden by Darian's shadow. As the "star" of the show, Lady Aunée makes few demands beyond learning some of the cultural touchstones, dances (folk and courtly) and songs, of various areas to help her strengthen her impression of land she will be protecting during the ritual. Indeed, she doesn't even complain (beyond a rather weary rolling of the eyes) when it is imparted that it's necessary to securely, if comfortably, fasten her to her station during the ritual.
In fact the the total absence of any guarantee that she, or anyone, surviving this desperately over-engineered ritual does not seem to weigh on her. When she makes a present of some of the items she'd collected during her adventuring career to the party, a concerned Amelia takes it to be a sign of fatalistically giving up her worldly possessions. She reassured them all that they should consider them to be on loan until until she asks for them to be returned, also reminding them that they still haven't discussed payment for the venture. They may also be useful in dealing with the two Demonic Avatars returning to the present with them.
However, it is clear that her Magical Aptitude will bear the brunt of focussing the mana and keeping Dakhini basically Dakhini-shaped, and it's long been a self confessed weakness. Fortunately, Amelia's Herbalism will be able to artificially enhance dear Lady Aunée for the duration of the ritual. Unfortunately, no-one's to sure of the subsequent outcome once the potion wears off.
Finally the appropriate day arrives and with everyone assembled, the Great Ritual begins. The first problem that emerges is that every 70 seconds (or so) there is a hiccup in the power that is flowing through Ithiliderial, which causes Darkini to "jerk" within her mental grasp, "rotating" a little and causing a small, but insistent amount of mental damage. With a little adjusting and checking, we discover that Indra is generating a quite a bit more Dharmic energy than had been expected and also is "quivering" in sync with the hiccups. We shift the structure of the "engine" pyramid around a bit but this doesn't alleviate the strain on Ithiliderial. We try various things but aren't able to make a difference but it appears Ithiliderial will be just able to survive the mental damage. Indra also informs us that things are happening as they must and we shouldn't be too concerned with the "jerk"ing as it's neccessary.
A little earlier than hoped (about 8 hours into the 24 hr ritual), junior members of the Court begin to burn out and we start having to rebalance the structure of the "engine" pyramid. Amelia and Agni begin tending to the "burned" out Elves.
At about 2/3rds of the way through, the weakest member of the Aditi "steering" the ritual, begins to burnout and with little warning, Surya "claims" their soul. After we become aware of this, Amelia checks on the burned-out court members and discovers that most of them have been "claimed" by Agni. Things become rather tense as Agni endeavours to gain access to the remianing court members as they burn out and we endeavour to keep him from doing so. Towards the end of the Ritual, Amelia gives Agni a sharp message as the strength of her resolve (and right arm) on the matter and with his "pride" wounded he keeps his distance.
Also amongst the Aditi, Surya slowly "claims" more of them as they fail. Mārtanda arranges things so that she can make a play to take over the power Surya is accumulating and this also (as planned) will give Darien the opportunity to escape.
After some further discussion about how to deny Agni and Surya any further "claims" on any Elves, we consult Indra who reveals that he's been keeping Dharma active for the rest of the lands of Darkini. It turns out that whilst only one day is passing where the Great Ritual is being performed, different time scales are passing outside. The rest of the capital will have had about a month pass and over the majority of Dakhini about 300 years. The "jerk"ing has been him popping outside for a split second to maintain his connection to Dharma and Dakhini. He reveals that he can also take someone with him and collect them them on his next "visit". This is used to have Mortimer and Amelia pop out and make some Herbalist potions that we hope will be of some use.
During the final hour it becomes obvious that the Queen and her inner council will not be able to quite make it to the end of the Ritual and thus Indra will have to take over the landing. We also resolve to have Malia and her mother and bodyguards popped outside just before then so they have a few years to prepare to claim the throne. Indra agrees to do this.
The final minutes of the Ritual are quite hectic. Malia and family are successfully put outside to prepare. Mārtanda is not able to wrest control sufficently from Surya but Darien is able to successfully extract himself from the "steering" group just before Surya becomes the only one remaining "alive". Indra is able to provide just enough Dharmic power to complete the ritual, but the outside edges of Dakhini don't quite make it, resulting in a gigantic island arriving in our time. The shenanigins of those last minutes result in a bit more mental damage than Ithiliderial can take and she is rendered quite mind-burnt.
As we return to the normal time-flow, we discover that the nature of Dharma has changed and only Indra and the Court children he had arranged to be out of the capital, can access it now. Members of the old Court who try and access Dharma go a little crazy.
We head back to Bandorion.
During the celebrations for Lindur's birthday, at Bandorion on the slopes of Adlanna, his mother Calimë approached the party to welcome the "distant cousin" who apparently shared the happy day. While the child was obviously tired from travelling and seemed a little absent, she was taken by the resemblance to her own offspring. Indulging a moment of maternal fussing that the confident Lindur had lately become too proud to allow, she took a kerchief and cleaned the smudged, and rather childishly over-done make-up from the child's pretty face.
With that set right, she rejoined the throng, leaving Clarissa with a piece of smudged cloth, blurring tattoos, and little more of the light gone out of her eyes.
GM Time Line
- Duesday 1 Frost
- 12:00- Information dump by Clarissa, party organisation.
- 18:00- Research in Guild Library, sleep
- Wodensday 2 Frost
- 00:05 Meet Clarissa’s northern cousin Megildur
- 00:30 Summon Inanna on hilltop
- 00:45 Summon Inanna on second hilltop
- 01:00- Leave Guild, dodging falling stars
- 07:00- Arrive at Novadom, rest/sleep
- 15:00 Warned by Novadom officials to “get out by dusk, and take the hail of Brimstone with you”
- 17:30- Leave Novadom
- 23:50 Rest at Five Sisters coastline
- Thorsday 3 Frost
- 00:10- Fly south over Isles of Adventure
- 06:30- Land at inland Azurian hill country. Rest
- 10:00 Disturbed by giant lions
- 14:00 Teleport time – Moon >=54 degrees up for 15 minutes in northern Azuria
- 15:30 Mortimer appears on Adlanna, belatedly followed by Darian and Clarissa (note timezone shift)
- 15:10- Gerald & Amelia wander into the Fae Mists
- 22:30- G&A appear in Mungodian jungle, and fly away
- Freysday 4 Frost
- 13:00- After 14 hours straight flight, G&A land again in the same Mungodian jungle
- 18:00- After 4 hours sleep, G&A wander into the Fae mists again
- Reapsday 5 Frost
- 00:30 G&A arrive in Adlanna, in serious sleep deficit
- 10:00 G&A wake up finally
- 12:00 All go into Bandorian for lunch with the family
- 15:00 Gifts from Orias. Rest, whinge
All times are local, and approximate
- Sunday 6 Frost
- Sleep, rest, plan
- Moonday 7 Frost
- 10:00 Lunar Teleport to Dakhini Bight - in time for noon (note timezone shift)
- 12:30 Get hit by meteorite
- Moonday 7 Frost, -1 Great Year
- 12:30 Get hit by meteorite in Chebi, a Maryn province. See Gnolls
- 15:00 Fly WSW to Avanti
- 21:00 Arrive in Avanti. Wander around the outer town. See Vanara
- 23:00 Announce human presence at the gates to the town
- 23:30 Ensconced in luxerious suite in main palace
- Duesday 8 Frost, -1 Great Year
- 01:00 Wander around the Palace, DAing
- 10:30 A Commissioner excorts the inspection crew around the various depts
- 12:00 Clarissa being revealed as an Elf, the party retires
- 12:30 Enter the Mara
- 12:35 The party leaves Avanti, or at least Ujjain
- pm Spend some time with Vanaran villagers
- Wodensday 9 Frost, -1 Great Year
- Mess about in boats with Vanara
- Thorsday 10 Frost, -1 Great Year
- Visit a sinkhole with Vanara
- Freysday 11 Frost to Thorsday 17 Frost, -1 Great Year
- Sail down river. Visit towns. See Dhole, Dimasa, many priests
- Freysday 18 Frost , -1 Great Year
- Arrive at Savira docks at dusk
- Reapsday 19 Frost, -1 Great Year
- 07:00 Escorted up the Main Port Road with a great deal of kufuffle for several hours
- 12:00 Arrive at the Maryn Palace in Savira
- 14:00 Afternoon tea with Elven/Drow Ambassadors
- 15:00 Meet with Dwarven Ambassadors
- 15:30 Summon Orias
- 16:30 High Tea with the Seven Celestials of Aditi
- 19:00 Escape back to rooms, and plot
- 21:00- Agni, Malia, etc visit
- 23:00 Astrology Reading
- Sunday 20 Frost, -1 Great Year
- 01:00 Clarissa sleep-eats a Satanic Nightjar
- 02:30 Note from Daksa - Fainauriel the unicorn likes apples
- 03:00 Audience with Aistaraina
- 03:40 Audience with Amitraghata
- 04:00 Party secretly flees from Palace with Malia, and Amy the Little Slayer
- 09:00 Party cross Kalingan border. Start here, 25 August, 2009
- ... sleep deficit ...
- Moonday 21 Frost, -1 Great Year
- half moon waning
- Moonday 28 Frost, -1 Great Year
- middle day of new moon
- Moonday 5 Snow, -1 Great Year
- half moon waxing
- Duesday 6 Snow, -1 Great Year
- Resonant New Year of the Phoenix. Birthdays of Aistaraina, and Clarissa
- Duesday 6 Snow, 809WK
- Resonant New Year of the Phoenix. Birthday of Clarissa. Clarissa warned to be back by this date
After the short discussion I present the initial few verses of The Karbi song
Loot / Gifts
- From Inanna, a set of maps of the Dakhini peninsula, circa 26,000 years ago, wrapped in a silver ribbon.
- Also, Amelia now has a Celestial Apocalypist skill at Rank 0, ostentiably to be able to predict the timing and location of falling meteors for travelling to and from Dakhini. At higher ranks, this skill also allows Amelia to cause rains of meteors, falling stars, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc., as befits one with the sobriquet World-breaker.
- From Inanna, a deadline of 6 Snow to complete her task, as per her 'year and a day' contract.
- From Inanna, a black shadow, wrapped in a silver ribbon. This shadow provides knowledge of how to cast three Deep Shadow magics at Rank 0: Shadowsoul (target: entity or corpse), Conjure Shade (target: entity), and Shadow Folding (target: magical shadow). He will gain a Shadow Taint equal to his total rank in these spells. This provides ablative protection against damage caused by spectres, wraiths and wights up to a total of his Shadow Taint each night. His Shadow Taint can also be used as a percentile bonus on cast checks; any resulting magic will count as Deep Shadow magic. All Deep Shadow magic is tainted and rightfully regarded as a sign of evil; as such, it will not affect undead, demons, or other intrinsically evil beings (e.g. Deep Shadowform offers no defence against devils), and may be particularly effective against Beings of Light. More detail to be provided privately.
- From Inanna, a packet of six shaped amulets, wrapped in a silver ribbon. These amulets allow understanding of the language Hiin at Rank 6. Hiin is a creole known to many sentient chimerical and shapeshifting creatures, particularly those that have no ‘racial’ language. These include Doppelgangers, Gargoyles, Gorgons, Gryphons, Harpies, Naga, Pegasi, Phoenix, Sphinx, and Unicorns. It may also be known by Centaurs, Merfolk, Nymphs, Satyrs, and any other Fae Folk with bestial attributes or shape-shifting abilities. It is not a racial language, so not all individuals of the above races will know this language. Hiin is a secret language on modern Alusia, and will usually not be spoken when non-shapeshifters are present. (Hiin' or Hin is elvish for children - it is a language of the younger races, during the time they were being raised from the animals)
- Also, Glass has gained a Doppleganger Racial Talent at Rank 0. More detail to be provided privately.
- From Inanna, a large history book wrapped in a silver ribbon, 'borrowed' from a library in Alfheim, and containing a short chapter on the Maryn Consociation, along with other early and middle Bronze Age history. There is a sidebar on Maryn Dharma.
- Also, a small cold-iron chest has been deposited in his metaphoric library, just outside the locked cabinet with empty shelves. A key (to the cabinet) tied to a black ribbon rests on top of the box, beside a brief hand-written note: You are less likely to be tempted by this knowledge than most. As a favour, I ask you to keep it hidden, in case they find me again. E. If he chooses to open the sealed chest, more detail will be provided privately. Update1: Halflings are inquisitive. The chest contains a lead sheet (?) wrapped package that appears to contain one large or two medium sized books. Package has not been opened. Update2: Having invited Martanda aka Katilya Eleniel to view the package contents (and revising to whom the "E" of the note refers): It contains four slender volumes. 1) Folio/notes from the Arthaś-āstra, 2) a treatise on the ascension of lesser races (i.e. how to raise non-sentient beings to sentience), 3) a treatise on Umbral Shade, and 4) a book (not yet written at this point in Maryn history) concerning Ascension (with a capital "A") and containing multiple case studies.
- Clarissa, for ... ("Addled-pated vapour-brained moon calf" -- Mortimer)
i.e. Beginning to teleport the party some 2,500 miles with a new ability and only realizing that the ability was conferred by an item with insufficient charges to teleport the entire party.
Nominated and Won.
Clarissa for the "I'm not missing my birthday, so let's move Dakhini 25,920 years into the future using my fragile mind as the fulcrum" plan.
Nominated and Won. Bonus irony on that one.
Amelia for her "strongly worded protest" at Agni's crotch about his treatment of the exhausted Maryn courtiers during the ritual.
Nominated and Won.
- Best Death