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Summary 296: Hell Fount (2022-02-26)

Giraine Summaries

We're back!

The two ships approach the black geyser and it fills their view with its incalculable immensity. Izsuru calls out loudly, “We leave the Burning Prison, the Bright Hell of the White-Throned Ash King, at last! Kogag went this way before and so shall Uz!” Meanwhile, over on the Miswar, Jamar intones incantations invoking Magastan miracles and sinister old Waertagi sorceries. He says calmly toward Ahappi, “If we ascend the Styx and touch the surface waters again, it will hold open the way for others to as well. This is the route from death back to life. Others might misuse that link and I fear for it, but we cannot prevent that here. Steady yourself-for the living, this ascent will be… uncomfortable.”

The ships hit the geyser and rotate 90 degrees upwards with a gut-wrenching turn, and as they do this and begin to rise, all those living aboard the ships feel the powerful tug of the Underworld upon their souls, and the physical strain of the turn rips at their insides, and they are tossed about even if strapped down. But most of you persevere. Ahappi is knocked against a gunwhale, badly bruising his arm, and Bog is exhausted by the spiritual and physical ordeal.

You rise through blackness that seems never-ending. But then suddenly there is light all around you. You have ascended on a great geyser of black water that extends in all directions horizontally as far as the eye can see, and rises ever more slowly up to maybe five key miles in height before descending just as slowly. From its high vantage point, some of you could make out islands dotting the surrounding ocean, but the splattering of black waters around you and heaving of the ships on the geyser made details impossible to spot. This is a strange event that leaves navigators puzzling afterwards. But you slowly begin to descend safely, and realise you are back in the Middle World again.

You see the dawn to the east, and you know that eight days have passed on your quest, as you spot the Boat Planet's blue dot rising to the northeast on the edge of the Ssramak river, for the first time in over seven centuries. Some of the weaker Uz cry out in horror at the sunshine (“no, not the Hurtplace again!”). But soon their mood turns more positive as discussion spreads across the ship from Izsuru; mirrored on the Miswar via Jamar, and communicated between the ships as they draw back closer together, within shouting distance atop the black geyser. The realisation has come to the ships' navigators that you are in the Jrustelan archipelago, not far from the southwestern Uz stronghold “Jruztela”, or the Malusoll Queendom Island chain such as Ekgastor. For those of Kogag, this is welcome news. But the navigators still are puzzling as to where you are exactly, or maybe they are worried about where you might be.

However, there is a brief time of jubilation at the successful emergence onto the surface. Both crews offer gifts as the geyser descends back toward the surface oceans: Captain from Jamar: Hermit crab that lives in an empty tin of dwarf food; it responds to Seaspeech in the name “Clamps” and can speak(!) in a surprisingly loud croaking voice, but only one word “Parsnips!”. It is very sneaky (Stealth 90%) and sharp-eyed (Perception 90%). Bog from Muzmaqu: A jar made of a skull of uncertain origin, scoured clear of many features and its openings plugged with lead. Its skull roof can be pried off and inside there is always a litre of water of Adzurana; it refills every night. “Great Mother Adzurana will always be with you now.” Fraud from Izsuru: A clay pipe ending in an Uzko-faced bowl. When smoked for 5 minutes, it changes the smoker's voice into one that sounds exactly like an Uzko's voice for 15 minutes. This can only be done once per day or it has no other effect. Boamund from Izsuru: He takes a metal tool out from somewhere and incants a little spell on it and it glows hot. He tells you to bare your skin where you want the mark of Croalar to bless you. You take a point of damage from the branding pain but it marks you with a scar that immediately takes the form of a monstrous creature that gradually changes over time into different terrors, most unsightly to behold. (this could have various uses, e.g. aiding somehow with Influence rolls if displayed) Shrett from Izsuru: He says that he knows Subere has blessed you before and even Zorak Zorani respect that. He gives you an earring made of a demon's fang and says that if you wear it, a spirit inside will whisper you secrets of Subere when one of her Dehori is near; it has a Subere Dehori Lore skill of 75% and its name is Don't Ask Me Who I Was. Ahappi has some time to chat with Jamar and learns that his quest didn't merely end up with him trapped by the Vadeli. He had originally gone with a flotilla of other ships on a quest linked to the Boat Planet, which has strong parallels with your quest, so you have even more in common. It took your quest's success and the return of the Boat Planet for him to have a chance at freedom; he had descended with the Boat Planet for its final time in centuries.

As you settle back down on the ocean, with the waters still black and foaming around you, Jamar and Izsuru interrupt what remains of the celebrations with dire news. You have risen in a very, very bad place. It is called the Hell Fount. It is known to seafarers that sometimes a great geyser of black water bursts skyward from this place, as you have experienced now. The Vadeli of the very powerful Orange Guild, who rule the waters nearby, claim it comes directly from the Underworld and can carry monsters, disease, and the legions of the drowned to the surface. They say it was the cause of the breakup of Jrustela at the Closing . Other people say this maw to Hell was opened by the Vadeli much earlier, in the Vadeli Wars of the Greater Darkness, to swallow a tidal wave sent against them by the alliance of Brithini and Waertagi. [see maps in Dropbox for some info] The Orange Guild controls two important trade routes near the Hell Fount: the Madoster Passage which crosses just to its northeast, and the Norlorian Passage which starts just north of it. Regardless, even the local Kogag Uz have bad stories about the Hell Fount. At its greatest extent, which now might be the case, it is a huge geographic phenomenon, some 45 key miles or so in diameter. But it is easy enough for sailors to avoid it. In your case though, you seem to have risen in its centre!

And now, those aboard the ships begin spotting other vessels that have risen or are now bobbing to the surface, too. The Uz hoot and stomp at the sight of more Black Galleys. The Waertagi wraiths hiss in welcoming recognition of more Fastships. And five Dragonships rise, too; all with mixes of spectral and mortal crews. Jamar furrows his brow and nods in acknowledgement, scanning the scene as it unfolds, but he speaks over to Ahappi with tension in his voice: “Our quests are done, yet enemies will seek to undo what they can. We will need to make haste away from here before… before that.” And then everyone sees what caused his concern, as he points. One by one, around the Hell Fount, blasphemous Hellships of the Legion of the Drowned vomit upwards. There are many, attended by many kinds of vile creatures, and of many sorts; the worst of which are corrupt Waertagi Dragonships, but there are plenty of smaller craft.

Jamar calls, “It is no time for all-out battle. Our fleet is scattered across the oceans; theirs will rise here in vast numbers. We must unite to face them at a time that is right for us; and until then, survive as we have learned to do through many hard times. They seek the Waertagi-they do not wish to take on the whole Kogag fleet too and provoke the Queendom again. If you wish it, I will take your friends aboard and we may try to escape while the Uz ships return home. We have already started a current of cooperation flowing between our peoples. If the Waertagi can successfully regroup, the Uz of Kogag may be welcome allies in the Hero Wars that rage now.”

You agree. The Kogag and Zorak Zorani aboard Dredge make pledges of friendship to Bog; he is welcomed at Jruztela and they will make his name known there. Shrett offers Subere's blessing upon the Uz and some grin toothily in response.

The two vessels quickly pull alongside each other and you're helped aboard the Miswar. Jamar the Sivis explains a plan as the ship gets under way: to flee and fight your way northwards and try to reach the Risk Run trade route. This passage between Genertela's southwestern corner to Jrustela is risky in Sea Season because of Banthe's Doom Current that draws ships southeast to Magasta's Pool, but it is the direction you wish to go and the Doom Currrent would slow pursuers, too. The big challenge, beyond the Hell Fount, is that you must pass through waters ruled by the Orange Guild of Vadeli. Jamar plans to steer west in attempt to reach the Curustus Passage, but this is risky too as the Mostali have become active in these waters again, hatching some strange scheme, and they have a history of allegiance with the Vadeli sometimes. You will need to stop at Gothalos at the northern edge of the islands to restock for the voyage across the Banthe Ocean back to the Solkathi Sea and Giraine; otherwise Jamar favours pushing onwards without stops.

But Ahappi has some views. He feels the roar of the Helldragon's voice within him, and must obey: “Effluvia, this is the Wrong Action you have helped bring about. Make it Right. There can be no rest until that is done.” So he knows he must do something to oppose these Hellships, which are anathema to beings like the Helldragon. He explains his view to Jamar and leaps overboard, feeling the presence of something there in the waters of the Hell Fount. Indeed there is. He finds the serpentine, many-finned and spined and tentacled and eyestalked form of Pellinoresbane there! It grips him in a fin and turns to face a Hellship as he explains what he wishes. Jamar tells the others what is happening, and you can see bits of Pellinoresbane surfacing from time to time so you know what's up.

[this relates to an old vision Ahappi had: As his dead spirit walked toward Hell over the past day, it sank into the Fosnoir and witnessed something fascinating in Hell: a vast fleet of undead Waertagi dragonships, fully crewed with zombies, was rising. Seeing this too, the Helldragon bad him to serve it as its Effluvia: he must act to stop this Wrong Action! Dead dragonships must lie dead. But the prophesized rising of the Boat Planet threatened to bring them up, and this was Wrong.]-to some inscrutable degree, the Helldragon does not fully approve of the Boat Planet's rise, although its feelings are complex.

The Hellship armada is still well behind the Waertagi and Kogagi ships, which are splitting up although the former are all heading northwards (for some common goal?) and the latter more southwards (home). The Vadeli and their Legion of the Drowned issue flocks of terrible flying things first, to pursue the Waertagi. Most things are smaller than Vilgars, thankfully, and Shrett sees a disordered mix of birdlike and insectlike and reptilian beasts and horrors in their ranks; some but not all undead (some have come flying in from the area around; some may be coming from local Vadeli ships; some may have been with the Hellships or even summoned by the Vadeli captains?). You prepare to face them.

And so they come. Bog and Fraud take defensive poses behind others; Boamund reluctantly faces the enemies and Shrett fires off an excellent shot with his bow, hitting a zombie pteranodon in the head, which then swoops down to engage him. Bog and Fraud soon face single pinkish-red heron-like birds with sacs under their beaks (later you will realise these were infamous Savangers or Bloodbirds; vampiric birds that some say Red Vadeli created!), but these are weak and easily slaughtered. Boamund however is singled out by a terrible humanoid-dragonfly-thing, twisted in form but maybe one of the fabled timinit insect-peoples known to inhabit Jrustela (and sometimes serve the Vadeli!); and heavily armed with shortsword, shortspears/javelins, and hoplite + peltast shields in its four arms. It hurls a big javelin at him with tremendous strength, battering his shield aside and injuring his left leg, but he holds firm, parrying a deadly blow from its shortsword as it flies down, and soon others come to help him. Fraud blasts it in the chest with a Darkstrike that blinds it and injures it all over, and this turns the fight– soon you bring it down and Boamund beheads it. Shrett and Fraud then defeat the zombie-pteranodon without trouble. The Waertagi wraith crew had little trouble with the flying things, few of which could actually harm them at all; and Jamar fought well; so soon the menace was driven off and the Miswar could focus on its escape from the Hell Fount.

Ahappi was carried toward the nearest Hellship, a corrupted/risen Vadeli merchant transport, and prepared magics and a summoned undine to aid him. We will begin there next time, in 2 weeks!


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giraine/summary-296.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/10 12:51 by