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Summary 304: Rise of the Huru (2022-08-27)

Giraine Summaries


You returned to New Arv, meeting Orsattus along the way, who pledged his aid to Fraud, saying he sought new rumours and visions of serpents on the island. There, as you rested and cleaned up for a day, you heard some stories of what was happening on the mainland. Seshnela was ever pushing north/eastwards into Ralios toward the city-state of Safelster, crushing opposition with their army, now swollen to be as large, it is said, as one of the two great armies in Dragon Pass's hero-war. Ralios is unfamiliar and far off, and not your problem, but it feels a concern; as if it falls, so raises the chance that all of the West will fall to Guilmarn and the Rokari.

Amur has The Shadow ready and welcomes you aboard but does not hide a look of concern on his face, which Fraud inquires about. He has had visions, dreams, of dark omens and doom ahead, and Dormal has not given him clarity on them, but he wishes to see Ahappi again to consult. You make yourselves comfortable, with Fraud retiring to the cabin, and are underway. A squall greets you late that day as you cross the Horn of Giraine, and you soon spot another ship, but on squinting at it through the storm, Boamund deems it just another merchant ship, although it is odd that it is in your path in this weather. And it approaches. Amur then calls alarm, that he has recognised it as The Sacrosanct, a Brown Vadeli ship, captained by the slaver Leddicc Lithesmile, whom Ahappi met long ago at St Thosos, and who has been “trading” along these coasts. The ship shows preparedness for a fight, with two arbalests aimed you way, but keeps its distance, and a voice amplified by magic thunders out that a doom awaits you at the Mountain, and you should turn away, that it is foolish to proceed. You spot a giant Slarge, a reptile-man from the south, on board and Bog marvels. You wonder if there is some truth to what Leddic says; his honeyed words are hard to tease apart; but Amur plays a cat-and-mouse game with it through the squall, trying to outmanoeuvre the Sacrosanct, which imposes itself between you and the cove before St. Granno's Mountain. This takes some time, with the Shadow receiving a light battering from the storm and the crew tossed too and fro, but no one goes overboard and, once many are thrown down on the deck by Amur losing the wheel, Boamund rushes over to help, Amur regains his footing with Coordination magic, and the Sacrosanct departs, so the way is clear to the shore. Curly takes you there on the rowboat.

As you come ashore, two figures come out of the shadowed cave at the back of the pebbled beach. They quicken their pace as they approach, waving at you, and you recognize them as Suntay Styxswimmer and Barrissullee Balebearer the Waertagi, who you first found here years ago, and who later disappeared. As they come near, Suntay addresses you with a calm smile. “We have come full circle, like the War Boat has. We expected your second coming here; it was the final sign we'd waited for. We too have been to the Sky Realm and Underworld with Waertag, and have heard tales of your heroics there. We found our folk in Hell and returned with a Fastship to here, to meet you. We also have met our folk in the sewers of your nearby port, who returned with us from Hell. We seek the hero of Magasta called Ahappi Jesetsblood. He shares a common goal with us. We will accompany you back to your ship so that we may find him. We will be here with our child when you descend the mountain.” You welcome them, and they wait behind.

The mountain hangs above the surrounding monsoon; its peak strangely clear of the tall, thick clouds. The sun of Fire Season, instead, gleams blindingly off the peak's stone. As you reach the foot of the mountain past the beach, a familiar huge pteranodon bearing a draconic club-sword (klanth) and wearing glassy black-stone ornaments flaps down noisily and lands in a whirlwind of dust. Star Thief Round Tip, Transcendant Swooper of the Night Dragon, clacks its black-stones onto a boulder near it, soon composing a bizarre rhythm. Fraud recognises this as Swamp Spider language. He gets the gist of what it attempts to convey. Its message is that it has flown far seeking the brown thieves. They vanished into the gates of the place where evil papers live. It then carves four runes into the dusty ground: Fire, Air, Water and Truth. Then, a distance away, a Dragon rune and a Darkness rune. Finally, an Earth rune around them all, and atop it a Harmony rune. It pauses, nodding its beak at its work. You puzzle at these runes, wondering if they represent you, the three clans and Granno, the Old Gods, or what; but surely the Night Dragon is represented, and Giraine/Seshna Gira. Then, with a powerful swing of its great wings, it soars back into the sky, wheeling toward the mountain's peak. Boamund climbs the cliffs with ease, letting down a rope so the others can come up.

You walk through familiar bleak scenery. The mountain takes on an increasingly hellish aspect, still brightly lit like a flame, and the storm around the coast dissipates, so that there seems to be just you and the mountainside. You cross a blackened slope where jets of flame erupt sporadically, but are familiar with these and navigate them easily. You reach the steep scree-strewn slope coated with blackened bone fragments, not gravel or volcanic pebbles, and come upon a scene you don't remember passing before – there is a bubbling pool of oily black tar-like substance. Before you can inspect further, a large form leaps forth from the pool, dripping hot tar behind it. It has a quadrupedal body with forelimbs ending in spearlike barbs, and it has blazing eyes, one above its fanged jaws and three on each side of its spiny neck. It lets out an unearthly bellow as it lands in front of you. It is terrifying and all but Boamund retreat, so at first Boamund faces its slashing claws, but then the others soon come with magics blazing, and Bog, Fraud then Orsattus deal it many wounds, stunning its hindquarters so it goes half-prone, and then its head finally is cut off. It was a fearsome demon and Boamund asks his sword what it was: it was not familiar but surely was a demon, and the sword was glad to know a new one.

You ascend the slope further up the mountainside toward the Huru camp. Again, Rudu the warleader appears with his warband of 10 Huru, stepping out from behind rocks, in ash-stained fine iron lamellar armour, and heat-blistered skin where it is exposed. They are much better-armed than you recall, many of them with iron weapons or armour pieces. Rudu greets you with a gesture and says, “They await. Much is to be spoken of.” And he motions you forward with his band. You follow.

You are led to the Huru camp, with its pumice-block walls and huts, and fire-pits everywhere, its atmosphere hot and fume-ridden and sulphurous, but with patches of scraggly plants and lichens growing in pits inside the walls. Even more Huru people have gathered here than before; surely a hundred are present. Warriors gather and hiss, rumbling, scraping their metal weapons together in a ritual greeting to Rudu and maybe you. Elder Wucr u, a badly burned middle-aged Giranois in tattered bits of charred sheepskin comes forward, striding proudly with a limp. He holds out his left palm, with a black spidery shape charred into it as a wicked scar, as before, saying, “Of the Long Eel by now you must know, if you have come here. We are nearer to the Sky Realm and see changes wrought there, too, and in the seas below us. Tell me of these things.” Fraud describes your visit to the Long Eel Xentusion in Good Toad Food, and that you know more of it now, and Wucru is impressed. Moreso he is amazed at your tales of the heroquest with the Boat Planet. You present Rudu with a gift of a flaming sky-sword and he is very, very pleased! You also tell Wucru about the Giranois spirit related to the Huru whom you met by Good Toad Food, and he is very interested and will contact it now that he knows.

The Huru Princess-Saviour called Wulbu comes from the nearby cave, emerging from a haze of grey fumes. She is still small and scrawny but looks closer to 30 now, not 20 or 10 as last you saw her; a grown woman, with strong confidence. She has a commanding presence that makes everyone's skin prickle with magical energy. She still is covered in ash, wearing charred remnants of goat hides, and her face is covered in that a weblike mesh of black scarring like Wucru's hand. Moreover, now four extra limbs, sparking with little gouts of flame and hissing with smoke from their many joints, sprout from her back. She addresses you with her hands raised first low, then high, her gaze firmly on you all. “The three great clans have Saviours again, and the Old Gods stir. Five faces spin around each other to the north; looking both inwards at each other and outwards at the encroaching Serpent Crown. The dead planet lives again, as does Granno and many others. But among those others are terrible foes. Some are neither alive nor dead. Fire is their foe; ice is their friend. I have seen ice returning to the south from the north, in a second Shattering. If the lands are to live, the dead land must rise again, freed from its cage. If our people are to live, our past must become our future.” Fraud asks how you might help; she responds that “The Infinite Spider is here, and another comes.” And she waves her hands toward the mountain, and toward the sky. The earth rumbles furiously; even the mountain shakes, with stones cascading down it.

The Huru scatter, but Wucru and Wulbu stay still. You do too. The shuddering ground of the mountainside outside the camp, away from the cave to the Mountainsmith, cracks thunderously and with a flash of harsh, hellish, fiery light. Some shape begins to push itself forth from the spreading crack. Around the camp, Huru shriek; some prostrating themselves, some hiding, some simply dashing away in terror. Wucru and Wulbu are impassive. You follow their lead.

The shape comes forth, forcing the walls of the crack aside with little effort. At first it is dull in colour and coated in a thin, tarry slick ooze. It is tremendous; maybe 20 metres long, standing up on four skinny limbs and lashing its tail as it draws it out of its chasm. A huge finned, toothy head with many glowing eyes surveys the crowd. Then it blazes with energy, its scorched skin bursting in patches as fiery growths protrude from its shoulders and tail tip. Its eyes and mouth glow as if they were filled with lava. Wucru and Wulbu gesture grandly to it, kneeling, and gesture to you. There is no doubt, you can feel its power. This is an Old God. It is Loidar, the Skinless Prince of the Great Volcano. You take the cue and kneel.

It speaks in an ear-splitting thunderclap, spreading flames dancing off its body as its skin sloughs off, revealing scorched muscle. “One of three am I. The other two feel distant. These outsiders are the Friends of Granno. Friendship of the Old Gods is hard-earned. Much have We suffered and far have We come, from another land and time. Now this is our land and a new time. I smell two weapons of the False Saviours here. Under our mountain were they forged, when my servant was enslaved. Their curse brings fame and fortune at the price of vulnerability, leading to slavery. All four must be united and cast together into the forge again. That will break the yoke upon the Thralls of Yomil. But Yomil will oppose it, and so will his nameless master who caused the Old Gods to be chained. Greater strength will be needed. The Friends of Granno I see here are meek. So speaks Loidar.” The Huru that have braved His presence all repeat, “So speaks Loidar” in awed tones. Loidar looks over everyone around the camp again, His eyes pausing on Wucru and Wulbu, then finally on you. Then he slithers back into his crack and pulls it shut behind Him with a long, deep groan of shifting rock. And so you've met a god! (not just an avatar or heroquest-proxy)

Wucru says: “So you see, the Huru are strong again. We will come to the aid of the other clans when we are called, bringing Loidar's power to burn and shake the land clean again for the Paradise Time. Loidar spoke that you were meek. I can see you need aid, and that may be why you came to us. If you wish to enter the mountain, proceed when you wish.” You do.

As you descend the tunnel, you see the side-cave of the Kivis there, with the flickering of flames from within illuminating the tunnel around its entrance. But you do not hear the rumbling snore of the great fire-bear this time. Instead, it steps out of the cave and looks you squarely in the eyes. It offers a Mindspeech connection to everyone. Accepting, it grumbles in Seshnelan and several other languages at once: “An overdue meeting this is. The Kivis of the Huru I am; born of this mountain in the Golden Age. You are those who have traversed the Other Side, following the Skyship. Many years has it been since that song has pleased me.” Orsattus recalls a myth of the Kivis: Malkion the Prophet was once confronted by two bears that had allied to destroy him, one a spirit and one a god. Each had different weapons, and both attacked when they found him unescorted while strolling in a garden. Malkion extracted an essence from the bears and sent it to back at them. These were the first Kivis, and they drove off the enemy bears, then set to wandering through the Three Worlds. Their favorite place to rest is in the world of men, in the most hidden wild places. They are creatures strong in the power of Law, not just Fire and Beast. He thus gives it much respect.

Fraud and Boamund sing the Song of the Sky Ship. The Kivis leans back on its flaming haunches and listens to your tune in apparent pleasure, grooming itself with fiery paws and tongue. “Many things have you learned, including the paths of the dark one Arkat, of whom I am wary. Yet those paths you must needs find more of, and to the dark one you must turn. These will open the way to bring back the Golden Age and all of Malkion's glory. Be wary of the Shadow of the Storm. Of the Masks of the dark one, seek escort to the Liberator or the Saviour. The three kings of one crown will have a reckoning with the dark one, so make haste.” Fraud asks who those three kings are and it says that their faces are yet to be revealed. It soon yawns, stretches, and slowly returns to its cave.

You descend down familiar tunnels, but Orsattus finds the stifling atmosphere to be too much, sweating and coughing and lagging behind, cursing. Fraud casts Vigour on him and he improves, but still suffers. You come into the great cavern to the mechanical skeleton that intones, “To cross Mountainsblood River, all must pay alike in bone or blood.” You discuss how to pay and offer it some bone (metal), plus Boamund offers blood-he presents his chest and it reaches a claw out, scratching a wound there that scars up immediately. Bog cowers behind Fraud. You board. It chugs steam as it poles the boat across, hissing and grimacing with effort.

As you all step to the far shore, footsteps approach from the direction of the doors to the Spleen and Heart of the Mountain. The steps clink off the stone ground and some of you again feel a shiver… Then the figure steps forth, stopping and propping both hands on an iron greatsword it sticks into the floor, its joints hissing with fumes as they halt. It is like an animate suit of plate armour, deep black in colour and elaborately decorated in a Second Age style. It is not the same, though, as the malignant Venator you knew long ago, leaving you wondering what it is. It is silent and still as you contemplate this. You try to step around it and it proclaims, “Only the virtuous may enter beyond.” Fraud asks how you might prove this, and explains your desire to get aid from the Mountainsmith to use in fighting the foes on the island. It explains that it has been fabricated to serve the Mountainsmith, “New life is needed”, and it doesn't seem to know/doesn't explain much more, but it follows you to the Heart of the Mountain. Outside there, it is deafening from the Heart and so you must use gestures to communicate. Bog is terrified of the Venator-thing. Fraud uses his Linguaberries blessing to send a quick message to Ahappi that his spear must be destroyed; and you know you need to find Shrett, too.

You cross the bridge over the lava pool in that cavern, with Boamund then Fraud and Bog having to dive away from lava bubbles and jets. Fraud recalls the sequence of runes to touch on the iron-obsidian door and it opens. The room beyond is much as you recall, with the great construct of the Mountainsmith turning its attention toward you as you organise your offerings. Fraud sketches a detailed explanation of what you want, portraying a vivid case for your requirements, and the Mountainsmith takes what you offer and gets to work. But you've asked for many things, and it seems ready to make them, but this will take days down in this insufferable heat and vapours, so you wonder if this is the best place to be?

To revisit next time-Sept 16?

To help me prepare for next time: what's your plan (priorities/order) beyond the Mountain? -Rest at New Arv? -Visit/contact Shrett and…? -Explore New Arv sewers (with new Waertagi aid)? -Go to Good Toad Food? -Deal with the necromancer's tower? -Find Ahappi? -Other stuff?

If ~3 of you want to do a 1-off game of Call of Cthulhu before then, I am up for it.


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giraine/summary-304.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/10 12:51 by