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Summary 303: Four Saviour contestants, Five Contests: finale (2022-08-20)

Giraine Summaries

Buenos dias,

That night, Vowka (with Verker watching awkwardly from a distance) approaches the Friends of Granno, muttering obscurely, then saying (as Fraud quickly understands it) that Captain Ahappi is needed to help save Giraine, giving it an ending by helping to free Deep Mother in the Fosnoir: “Sea-man-monster has sailed River of Broken Laws, bringing its power back. She calls, in pain that can be broken.” She soon shuffles off.

Day 4 Fireday : The Shattering. Shilde announces in her croaking whisper: “The Hell Time was hard for us but the Old Gods protected us, so we fared better than some. The Shattering broke us, cleaving us from our Old Gods, whom we still seek to fully reconnect with. Most of all, we had the wicked necromancers of Yomil and others infesting our land. We had to be tricky with our magics and wary of theirs. We imprisoned the evil wizard Lelbic for centuries with our powers, and on our own lands, because we were strong in magic. He was once our Saviour, mighty in Air or Storm magics, but was twisted by Yomil's power. May such a fate not befall you. Today you demonstrate your prowess as magicians, as a Saviour must know magic, not just stone and metal. You will stand each on one side of the ritual pool, then when I give the signal, begin. Each of you should use your magics to disable, without killing [wags finger at Aym], all others until everyone yields or cannot act. We Elders will judge how you do this. Granno is watching; prepare.” The contestants cast defensive magics as they come to the four corners of the scummy pond. Aym tries to Demoralise Boamund but that is shrugged off. Wilgris summons a huge undine by Verker, then Aym, then Boamund. Aym tries to Banish his but fails. Aym casts Darkness on Wilgris but he soon escapes that. Verker throws a Curse Sorcery spell at Aym and Boamund but they resist. Boamund throws a Glow spell to blind Verker but he isn't fazed. Then, finally, the undines grab the three contestants one by one and restrain them; Aym uses his Illusion rune connection to make it very convincingly appear that he is drowning. Wilgris asks the Elders if he has won and Shilde says, “Convince us”; the undines present their victims, helpless, and Shilde says to release them, that the contest has ended. Wilgris commands this, and his undines depart; Aym's illusion soon drops.

Day 4 That evening, Jzhurte soon comes to the Friends for a respectful, formal chat. Wilgris is there telling stories of the River Gods; in particular how Zola Fel brought the rivers to take salt to Magasta's sea to stop its rotting. Jzhurte congratulates Boamund but also cites how each other contestant has done well; but then gets annoyed with Wilgris's (to Jzhurte, condescending) urging to accept outside help on Giraine. Jzhurte reminds Wilgris that the Saviour contestants are all outsiders and so the Elders are wise indeed. He departs.

Day 5 Wildday: The Seeking Time. Shesh presents the challenge: “It has been an uncertain time since the Shattering. At first the Sharde and Giranois had no challengers on Giraine, just each other, but then the Wallmen came back with their wizards, and that woke up the evil of Yomil again, as it was all a familiar sorcerous stink. We held true to the ways of our ancestors even when we were threatened with slavery, murder or immolation. We had spirit-guides via the frogs and toads, vessels of the Old Gods and the dead, lost gods of Earth and Water. They spoke to us, and we spoke to them, exchanging words of what had happened, what was happening and what might happen. They helped us read the stormclouds and interpret hell-visions, for those with the craft in our ways. Today, as a Saviour should, you will be judged by the vessels themselves. They have challenges for each of you. See on those four stumps, one vessel awaits. Choose one and impress it. Remember that this contest is twice as important as the others, for this Seeking Time is also the future time; a repairing of the breaking of Time in the Shattering, and we hope a way back to the Paradise Time. The Saviours of the clans will lead us there.”

There are nondescript old stumps on ritual ground, each with a fist-sized toad squatting atop it. The toads are all roughly similar; Boamund and Aym both feel a strong connection with certain toads and go to them, while Verker and Wilgris tentatively go to the other two. Boamund has choked down the vial of frog-brains from Apatune, belching and feeling his head tingle. Later, it fills with useful facts. The toads croak in any suitable language. five tests of increasing difficulty answering Granno/Giranois/amphibian knowledge. [coming into this contest, Aym barely led at 8 total pts, Boamund at 7, Wilgris, 6, Verker a paltry 3; but you did not know that!] The contestants are privately quizzed; Boamund feels good how he did, as does Wilgris. There is a brief pause after the contests; people disperse for a little while.

Night of Day 5: The Elders convene after the end of contests, back in the ritual ground centre, as the sun sets. Shoor speaks to crowd: “Five contests over five days to choose our Saviour from four outsiders. We have weighed the merits of each contest and discussed them. But tonight, all shall rest. Tomorrow is Godday, ending this Season, and so it is auspicious to announce who our Saviour shall be. We will not celebrate this. Instead, the Saviour will do a final test, which we will explain then.” The crowd murmurs and chuckles. You go back to camp, and rest up. Verker seeks a toad to have a chat. It hops up on his shoulder and whispers that he should prepare to leave the Sharde lands forever. He takes the bad news well, and is happy to have a new friend. He never was sure about all this Saviour stuff anyway.

Day 6 Godday : You rest more. The Sharde Elders call the convocation back as the sun sets. Again the crowd gathers, with much anticipation and frenetic speculating, arguing, and even some fisticuffs. This all calms to silence as the Elders return to the centre. Shesh speaks again: “So we announce the winner, whom Granno and the Old Gods have shown favour for. Our new Saviour is the wallman called Boamund [yay! Final points = Boamund 13, Wilgris 10, Aym 8, Verker 5-but you won't ever truly learn that]. He competed best in the contest of Talk to the Toads. But first, some of the contestants have shown merits but not enough to win the title of Saviour. They must leave, exiled to seek their fortune elsewhere in disgrace.” Jzhurte hurries them all away; some giving final, brief farewell statements [Wilgris repeats his offer of help to Boamund; Aym bitterly wishes good luck in the final contest; but Verker and Vowka are well ahead of everyone, saying nothing]. Apatune hurries over to Boamund with a broad smile, jubilant and wishing him well. Cjaek consoles Aym, saying that he is always welcome with the Cjed family and he must still be the Unsighted One, but in a different way than everyone thought. The Elders then shoo away the crowd, except Boamund.

Shilde, in her croaking whisper: “Now, new Saviour of the Sharde, understand these things. Granno taught us the knowledge of Saviours during the Shattering; we had lost it in the Hell Time. Saviours showcase the ways of the Giranois. They use words sparingly and keep our secrets from outsiders, slow to build trust because we know the world is full of deceit. They are true to themselves as Granno was; delving into their own nature to weed out weaknesses; and honour our laws as we adapted from Malkion's. They protect our hunters, herders and Elders, especially against Chaos and Undeath, which must be destroyed immediately or no rest taken until sufficient force can be found to do so. Our enemies the wizards require more strategic approaches. And, as this is the Seeking Time, they seek to aid our people in recovering the power of the Old Gods. Let the Saviour know that already the Huru have awakened Loidar, Skinless Prince of the Great Volcano, so his power is free. Of Deep Mother, Lady of the Dripping Pool, sacred to our clan, and Tanosh the Ever-Youthful Lord of the Red River, we have maintained some of their ways through our Elders' visions and secrets of Hell, but these Old Gods remain chained in Hell. We must awaken them. Of Deep Mother, we require help from those that know the ways of Water, which we have lost. Of Tanosh, he is closest to the Paradise Time's original ways of the Giranois and so we can release Him without outside help, but this will take effort. Of all Old Gods, Granno consulted during the Shattering with the heroes of Arkat to understand their links to the Otherworlds, and so questers of that fallen hero might give aid, if they can be trusted. With all Old Gods returned, the Saviours of all three great clans can lead us with Granno's blessings to again drive the evil of Yomil out of our lands, with all other unwelcome invaders. That is the way back toward the Paradise Time.”

Shoor: “Yet we spoke of a final test. Gather allies as you wish; you may take Sharde clansmen if you wish. This test has great danger but also reward. There is a dark, forbidden ruin on the coast to the south of here. We have hidden awareness of this since the Shattering. It is holy to Deep Mother; once a ring of standing stones where we sent sacrifices to the Lady of the Dripping Pool. There may be foes, and threats from Deep Mother's spawn or magic; we do not know. But a helpful frog will lead you there and you will find out and return. Survive, and you pass the test. That is all we can say.”

A large brown- and green-spotted swamp frog/Traskar (SIZ 20) presents itself to Boamund and explains, in croaking Seshnelan, that from now on it is the Saviour's hunting beast, and its name is Squarglak. Without another word, it hops into the swamps toward the south. Fraud, Bog, and 10 Sharde clansmen come along; the Sharde are led by a junior Warleader, out to prove himself, named Druff.

Soon the frog begins slowing, hesitating. “Something is wrong.” Boamund hears stealthy movement, suspecting Rokari foes preparing ambush. He warns everyone; the Giranois disappear with stealthy magics cast. You cast some magics then the trap is sprung, but without the element of surprise. A Seshnelan scouting band of 9 soldiers of St Orvar rushes in around you, triple-teaming Boamund and Fraud, as Bog has vanished with a Conceal spell. But the Sharde unleash their very successful counter-ambush of arrows, killing the three crossbowmen preparing to shoot any targets. They rush in with spears soon, but not soon enough. Squarglak, too, hops in and crushes one soldiers arm; and bites another's off. Boamund takes a nasty impaling shortspear-wound to his abdomen and falls, but still fights; Fraud is likewise gashed in the head but stays conscious, but it looks bad for him even though Bog has come and crushed one foe's head in. Yet the Sharde do come in time, felling the final two opponents without mercy. They then take to eating some of the remains, and Squarglak eats another himself, and Boamund burns the rest. You depart, two of you stumbling in pain, as Fraud fails to do enough healing.

Late in the night, the frog stops and wags its head forward. “The ruin awaits there. I await here. May Deep Mother be merciful on your sinful souls.” 8 of the 9 Sharde wait behind; this place is forbidden to them; but Druff feels confident enough that he can join you. You see a shadowy, stinking pool (about 15m across) coated in algae and with skeletal trees, shrouded in moss, scattered across it. Some obscure lumps of stone rise from the dark waters. There is a chilling feeling from the place, which is silent and still. The pool seems no more than 1m deep, at least at the shallow edges.

Some of you cast spells. Bog slinks around the side of the pool. Boamund steps into the water. Hissing groans issue from the pool and a great, monstrous thing forms like congealing vapour. It is a three-headed, four-limbed reptilian thing with long snouts and tail, but its body is rotten with bones showing through. Some of you notice it is spectral; it is a giant Mudshark-wraith. It lurches forward hungrily. The fight is on, and it is dreadful. The thing goes all-out with spectral bites, crippling Fraud and Boamund further, and Bog hits it several times from behind (and gets its attention enough to be wounded too), at first to little effect but then dealing one strong blow. Boamund's sword doesn't harm it much. Druff is useless; hardly even a distraction. Fraud does his best with his death-sword. The fight is desperate. Yet finally, Fraud gives it a powerful slash and it falls apart into stinking spectral pieces that quickly decay and disappear, with a puff of vapour that you all stomach without excess repulsion.

The pool immediately ripples and bubbles, then suddenly starts churning violently as the waters deepen substantially. Bog and Fraud are knocked down into the water but Bog soon stands back up. You see the stones rising, rotating back more vertically and showing their true height and form, into a ring of eight, each about 4m tall and 2m wide, 1m thick. They are deeply rune-carven, with Water and Darkness motifs predominating, surrounding large carven scenes of parading monstrosities. A deep voice hisses from the still-frothing pool: “Come closer, come deeper, come and see.” Three dull black, suckerless, thorny tentacles rope out of the pool's centre, groping at Fraud, Bog and Boamund. “Such hunger. I must feed.” Fraud is gripped around his chest by his and is bloodied, soon at risk of death, although he damages it severely. Druff doesn't act in time to help much. Bog and Boamund fight as best they can. Yet quickly, the fight ends.

The tentacles relax, withdrawing from you and gracefully extending upwards to grasp the standing stones. The area of the pool shivers with cold magical energy. The voice returns, “I sense strength. The chains burn and chafe me, strong one. Come to my rescue and great will be my gratitude to my people. Have a taste of this.” Boamund gets a 1-use Grey Reef Shark spirit that can inhabit him and give 1 day of either: Swim +1/2, Breathe Air or Water, or Peace with Sharks. He is blessed indeed, by the power of Deep Mother.

The tentacles return to the water and all is as it was; still and silent. You return to the frog and clansmen, and to the ritual grounds. The Elders welcome the Saviour back; and now it is his choice what to do to carry on the fight against their enemies! Boamund knows, too, that someday he must decide how he will reconcile being Talar of Aria's Well and Saviour of the Sharde, but that is for another day, if he lives to see it!

Next week: whatever comes next, but it seems the urgency to visit the Mountainsmith is very high after these contests! -John

© Copyright - 2000-2024 - John Hutchinson, Tim Evans, Pete Nash, Colin Driver and Gordon Alford

giraine/summary-303.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/10 12:51 by