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Summary 305: Of Beasts and Blobs (2022-10-08)

Giraine Summaries


You sweat it out for over a day, waiting outside the Heart of the Mountain as the smith labours away. The new Venator-thing keeps stoic watch but doesn't communicate, just emitting steam from its joints now and then with a hiss that sometimes makes Fraud and Boamund flinch with memories of the older, vampire-like thing.

But finally the cacophony of work ends, and you go into the forge area to see what had happened. The Mountainsmith had taken all your offerings away and nicely laid out all the armour and shield you wanted, plus Fraud's armour was now made as a gorgeous, unique full suit of the fire-proof iron+obsidian material (this will REALLY impress people!), and an iron bracelet carved with numerous runes but featuring Stasis and Metal.

You leave without much trouble, returning to the Huru for some rest and conversation. They (mainly Wucru) are curious of your experiences, including what the Kivis fire-bear had said, as it is very holy to them. Once when you came here, it awoke and set the volcano active, emitting much smoke that could be seen all over and beyond Giraine. This was the sign of the start of the Huru awakening, too, to take their strengths to the world. Indeed, at the camp now you could see many metal implements, shocking in comparison with other Giranois, including some iron and gold, mainly held by elders and warleaders. Wucru had ways to understand what makings of the Mountainsmith were, and tells you that the bracelet was a smith's magical device which (in game terms) is a matrix for the Folk Magic of Ironhand.

You depart back to the beach by the cove. The Waertagi are there on the beach, welcoming you with jolly whistling tunes played on a walrus-tusk pipe. There is a toddler between them, deep green of skin and just wearing a loincloth, and so finned and fishy its gender is unclear, but it looks you all up and down with rapt wonder, grinning and showing sharp little fish-teeth. Its parents introduce her as Kamosh; she is a girl. They say that she would not have been born if you hadn't come here years ago and set them free from their centuries trapped out of Time. This feels very good. So you return to the Shadow with them rowing and swimming you there, and Amur makes haste back to New Arv. You rest, resupply, hear no news of importance, and head out for Good Toad Food.

You know the locale now, and routes to GTF. This makes the journey easier. It is now Fire Season: hot, sweaty, sticky days; incessant buzzing-biting insects in the swamps, but easier travel than in Dark or Storm Seasons. The island's pterodactyls are very active, soaring above, squawking and screeching. You pass by a familiar landmark. Three perfect white stone spheres of 1m diameter are stacked atop each other on a high promontory, visible from afar. Boamund recounts some of what happened before, trying to remember, as Bog and then Orsatus climb up. Each stone has a rune carved into them: Darkness, Man, and Fire from bottom to top. Giranois warning totems are all around. Bog touches the Darkness stone and has his right arm badly scorched by death-magic. He leaps off the promontory in shock, but Fraud catches him. His wounds, though, heal slowly as you travel onwards. Orsatus touches the middle Man-rune stone and it makes him contemplate his existence, but he feels confused and full of doubt as a result, yet keeps this concealed as he returns. Boamund recounts that these are Godlearner magics and you decide to leave rather than investigate further.

Narak's camp and her sounder are a good target for the night's camp; it has been some time since you saw her and her pig Glut. You reach there and she gruffly welcomes you, saying with scepticism and disapproval that there have been signs of change in the sky and she thinks you were involved and bad things might come of it. Fraud tries to allay her concerns but she is not so impressed, although she admits she could be more grateful for your help and friendship over all these years since she arrived here with her people, narrowly escaping slavery. You come to the campfire for dinner and talk. She says that the Sharde and other Giranois have been more welcoming, and she feels at home now for the first time, really. But she relates other news, which Fraud listens to with rapt attention.

In Ralios, the Serpent Beast Masters of the Pralori see opportunity with recent signs, especially the Boat Planet. They can see that major upheaval is coming, and they believe they will now be able to penetrate secrets within the Orggee Snake Caves (in the wild lands of Vustria, Ralios) that for many years have been inaccessible. Pralori (deer Hsunchen) Serpent Masters enter the Snake Caves, passing through the parts that lie within the mundane physical world and entering the deeper areas that lie within the Spirit World. Their attempts to recover Serpent secrets fail, but they recognize that they might have more success if other beast people take on roles in their rituals. They decide to begin initiating shamans from other tribes into the Serpent Beast secrets. The “wild” Ralian Hsunchen tribes participate in this effort with enthusiasm. The Galanini horse-queens (very politically important / dominant people of Safelster; but conservative and more modern in practices; definitely not true Hsunchen) refuse to join, and the Serpent Masters respond by aborting the latest ritual to bring a Galanini princess, a cousin to the Queen of Galin, into adulthood. This retribution is not taken kindly by the Galanini.

The Ancient Beast Society lends its support, beginning lengthy rituals to raise magical power for the Serpent Masters. Many members absent themselves from their ordinary lives and duties, disrupting many areas of city life. The Queen of Galin encourages the priesthood of Ehilm (a Western Yelm-like aspect) to begin a series of purges, trying to shut down all forms of beast worship including the Ancient Beast Society. Sun Queen mobs roam the streets and countryside in Safelster, attacking anyone suspected of having beast blood. Ralios was already in tumult from Seshnela's war on their western front, but now this is worse.

Warriors entering Falani beaver-folk lands are decimated by magical energies as they cross the borders, then those few who survive are washed completely away by unexpected flash floods. The struggle between “true”® Hsunchen/beast-descendants/tribes and the more city-linked peoples of more Theist or even Malkioni nature ratchets up. The Serpent Master rituals fail a second time to gain entrance to the depths of the Snake Caves, leading to the discovery that Arkati Shadow Warriors have closed up the ancient pathways. Whoa. Arkat has already been said to be more active, in five? Reborn aspects in Ralios, so this is interesting news-those Shadow Warriors are legendary heroquesters, said to be heroes who have “stranded” themselves forever at points in the mythic realm to guard them. The historical relationship of Arkati and Hsunchen has been… complicated.

Puma shamans (mysterious, fabled, reclusive old-school Hsunchen said to be able to express their beast-forms freely in many ways, and the best of all beast-shamans?) come down together from their secret dens in the mountains, to show the Serpent Masters hidden pathways that bypass the Arkati barriers. By following these paths, the Serpent Beast shamans succeed in awakening the ancient snake daughter of Hykim and Mikyh, Nagi-Mer, who destroys the Arkati barriers. The depths of the Snake Caves are thrown open, and old serpent powers arise across the land. The nature of Hsunchen is varied, Narak explains. Back before Time, indeed, the difference between faiths of Animism, Theism and Sorcery were not so stark, at least politically. But the Ages of Time have brought more division, especially politically, with more and more Animists driven to the fringes. Many have changed to become more Theist or even Malkioni. As a Mraloti, she is one of those, a Theist but one who still respects and knows the Spirit Realm. Indeed, she recounts that the Mralotings have come back to her people? It takes a while for her to bother explaining this, but it is that these are holy beast-spirits that can even manifest as giant boars in the physical world. Narak hopes to gain one, which would strengthen her Sounder a lot, but this land has never been true Mraloti land, so this may be hard.

But again, who are these Serpent Beast Masters and Ancient Beast Society and such? None of you, even Narak, know. Orsatus has heard of them more often. He thinks of them as more important politically in the complex shenanigans of Ralian city-states; than magically important. But maybe not. In the Safelster city states, descendants of Hsunchen peoples have formed the Ancient Beast Society, who summon beast spirits from their ancestors. Their nickname the “Loons” comes from their rites calling upon Grandfather Loon. (PLAYERS: It is a little like some kind of Hsunchen cos-play, but with spells that work, at least sometimes.) But now maybe it is working more for them! Maybe they relate to the Serpent Beast Dancers, whose name also comes up in Ralios, but none of you remotely fathom that. The “Serpent Beast” shamans were present amongst the Hsunchen of Ralios at the Dawn, and have variously been described as Serpent Beast sorcerers, Snake Masters, Cowled Vipers, High Ones, Great Lords, Holy Ones etc. From the beginning they were associated with the Pralori elk/deer people, and those may now be the only tribe which retains their secrets? The origin of Lake Felster in central Ralios is said to be from the wars between the Storm Gods and the “Serpent Beasts of Hykim”. And then the Orggee Snake Caves in northern Vustria are sacred to the Serpent Beast shamans, being the site where Hykim and Mikyh are said to have given birth to the world. So yeah… pretty significant! Who is this Nagi-Mer? This is the first you've all heard of her!

You rest in huts and head forth the next morning. Fraud keeps it to himself (right, Colin?), remaining in quiet contemplation, but says he had an interesting dream. In it, he sees down a rocky tunnel and slides down, spiralling around in a corkscrew like pattern, until he arrives on a floor of jade. A woman with hair of snakes lies there, scandalously clad in a loose brown shift with green emblems. She coyly gestures him forward, and they embrace, and he lies with her, and sleeps within sleep. He awakens within the dream with copper-haired robed attendants to either side of her, whispering to her as she lies supine, praying in an obscure tongue. She sighs and then he sees her smiling widely as a serpent slithers forth from between her legs, and it stares at him with its cold unblinking blue eyes, and says, “We all have the beassssssst blood.” The woman says to him, “If your land is free, my land welcomes you with open arms.” And he spirals out of that dream, back out of the tunnel, seeing a great glowing green hill with many stones upon it, and his dream fades into normal, but very restful, sleep. So was this a sign from Seshna Gira that he must make peace in his land if he is to wed her?

You journey into badlands, away from the stinking muddy swamps of the Big Gunge, but near the edges of Sharde Lands. There are many earthquakes, far and near, here. You camp that night without incident.

On your third day of travel, you see a blast ahead with a plume of smoke rising. You investigate, with Bog stealthily moving and Orsatus trying his best. There you see three heavily armoured Mostali with axes and “bang sticks”, then two different, squat, ugly, unarmoured ones with lead hammers, behind them and at the edge of a freshly exploded tunnel opening. All five are shimmering with magic and standing rigid with alertness. Approaching, you see the front rank wave you off-they are gesturing that you must not come close. Then the three in the front spin around at once to face where Bog is slinking in, although he is sure he is out of line-of-sight. He slinks off, and you go around this site, not wanting a fight. [The Iron Mostali had “Sense Troll” active!]

After another night camping, you come along the edges of the Spider Swamp and soon meet some Swamp-Spiders venturing into the Badlands; two of them and then the friendy Three-black-legged spider! Fraud strums the nearby webs and strikes up conversation. They say that the direction you are headed has many dangers now, and they send their brood there to prove themselves in battle and bring back food. What dangers? The demons, undead, and Chaos that you expected to hear of, and the spider-monsters, but also some newer(?) threat, that is kin but not kin, blasphemous mockery of arthropods? This is hard to understand; you leave without clear answers but eager to learn more.

Then you pass into an area blighted by rotted plants and few healthy wildlife. Boamund finds an acceptable camp and, late that night/early morning, the sleepers except Orsatus who is on guard have nightmares of some foul bubbling, stinking pallid green formless shapes with vague eyes and arms that tried to wrest their souls from their bodies into the Spirit Realm, but could not force them too, leaving their sleep just unsettled. You hurried forth that morning to get away from this accursed place.

And you skirted the edges of GTF, headed straight to the Lone Eel's lair. You found it much as before, and went inside, with Bog receiving a weird message in his mind that seemed like Old Seshnegi babble. You try to find a way to the Lone Eel's audience chamber through dry passages but then realise those routes end at a tight squeeze coated in acidic slime (that which the Lone Eel exudes). Three Giranois-“slaves” watch you along the way but keep their distance, struck by some power that almost knocked them down. [It can Mindblast people if it really wants to, rendering them vegetables, but it tends to dial down this power and “just” use it to enslave or to mumble mad messages and project its musings]

Finally, after much debating and struggling and searching without satisfactory results, Fraud strips off his armour, is blessed with Skin of Life by Boamund (but this spell strangely expands to bless everyone), and he swims down the tunnels to the chamber. Orsatus tries to Calm himself with a spell because that strange slime which coats the skin of the Giranois here begins appearing on his skin, yet the spell vanishes into the aether as he casts it, to no effect. It turns out that this room you await in has some dweomer that interferes with magic; probably a side effect of the Godlearner downfall. Thankfully, that slime stops exuding although… did it sink into his skin like it may have the Giranois? Orsatus can't wait to leave this place.

Fraud meets the Lone Eel at the shore of its pool. It watches him as he sings to it the Song of the Lone Eel, then says into his mind, “One knew of this song once, it is a merry tune.” And it expresses a different behaviour during their subsequent chat-it is quite forthcoming, less cryptic, full of things to say, answering several questions and followups. “The blight from the void has infected the queen's womb,” it says, and that you must drive this forth to reach her, that “The womb is a tomb is a temple.” It says that, if you seek ways to bring the Sarvon river back, which would be good as the land has been split between Earth (inland/badlands) and Water (swamps) since the Shattering, you should look to the monument of the spiders. That's new to you! As to where Froalar lies, it says that he is forever dead but his remains are, in parts, with his queen… or queens? And that new Froalars may rise in their place. It projects a vision of great doors with torches next to them and serpent-motifs, and Fraud recognises this from a vision at Seshna Korrin's island (IIRC), and it says that this place lies within these mists (of GTF, surely). Aha, good! You are reassured that you have come here with good potential outcomes. Fraud, after recovering from the shock as it retreats underwater, pulling its mind away from his with great force, returns and you leave.

Boamund leads you some distance away from the Zistorite ruin to a satisfactory campsite, although Bog is restless from proximity to that scary place. Again trouble comes on Orsatus's watch. He sees red, blue and yellow lights drifting toward him through the mist, and his magics show they have no heat, and he awakens the others just in time to see that they are three iridescent bubbling blobs - gorp! But very odd ones. The yellow one has a big scorpion-claw and rubbery hide. They all converge on Boamund, as Bog does his trick of hiding and Orsatus and Fraud step back. Things go back and forth-Bog destroys the red one dramatically with his Frost-Flail, shattering it into ice shards. The yellow one tries grabbing Boamund but he fights back, buying time while Fraud unleashes a Ward Chaos spell that stuns the blue and yellow ones. And the blue one, which seems to fade in and out of existence when you try to hit it, is struck and then disintegrates into dust. Then the yellow one turns green, regenerates a bit, is hit again, turns blue. Orsatus found all his magics and weapons useless. The blue one is hit again and disintegrates. By now, Fraud has used Curse Chaos on it. So they seemed beaten and you let down your guard just a little, then the two blue ones reappeared as Purple ones! Bog tries his Frost-Flail again on a purple one but this glances off it. He enters the fray with his Flame-Maul. Fraud soon conjured a circle that would keep Chaos out, moving closer to Boamund. Yet misfortune befalls Boamund as the other purple one grabs his left arm with a pseudopod and sorely wounds it. Fraud curses it and Boamund luckily breaks free, thanks to that. Now the two purple blobs have turned red and continue the fight, but are terribly weakened by Fraud's curse so you slowly hew them down. They change from red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple-red as you damage them; each colour of these Rainbow Gorp, as you call them, having different attributes. It was a frightening battle, but more than ever Fraud's Arkati anti-Chaos magics proved themselves. Boamund's arm, at least, probably was saved, and perhaps his life.

And so you head that morning, after some bandaging, toward the Arkatzar, Castle of Black Arkat, where Bog hoped to pray to Zorak Zoran. Then you aimed to search one last area (“location 11”) to its north. And then…?

Until Friday! -John

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

giraine/summary-305.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/10 12:51 by