Saturday, December 3, 2016

Journey ep08 : Ryuutama

11/24/2015
Journey

Episode Eight
"Dark Cliffs"

Ryuutama

They stand at the mountain top, surrounded by dark cliffs.

The group discover they are at a different world. Unfamiliar to them all. Even the camels are uneasy, huddled together and not wanting to move away.  Party leader, the monkey, turns to Piter, waiting for his instructions.  Aya admits she cannot find where they are on her maps.  Piter wonders why they trusted that Djinn.  Tristan admits they had no choice.   Aya tries to pinpoint where they are and yet despite being well-traveled, she has no idea where they are.

Outside the confines of the cliffs and the mountains, dark clouds are rolling in, like a heavy fog upon them.  They realize they aren't sure what weather this is.  Tristan admits it probably isn't safe to camp here.  Worse, the clouds seem to be so thick they can't see the sun.  Nor tell the time.  "It might be best we find a suitable place to camp until we get our bearings," Tristan admits.

Not too far, they see a spiral staircase.  Clearly not natural. But it does suggest others have been here before.  Aya worries if they can even guide their camels down the mountain.  A shriek suddenly erupts somewhere in the distance, echoing across the mountains.  A rumbling sound then drones overhead, from the eastern side all the way to the west.

"We should go," Tristan tries to state as calmly as possible.

Aya nods.  They make their way towards the spiral staircase, each of them guiding two camels to take the steps carefully.  Aya admits they can't leave the camels here being the cute things they are, and this unforgiving environment.  The camels, however, are so spooked, it takes some time before they start moving.  They see more signs of human craftsmanship as they descend the steps which has one half of the staircase exposed to the side, while the other half is against the mountain.  Piter reminds them all to be careful, given someone clearly made this path.  Every few meters, a metal cage with broken glass and signs of what could have been a lantern.  Further below, the clouds await them.  Aya grins, trying to remind them all to stay focused, "We can do it, guys!"  Piter offers to take lead, telling them that clouds must be like a fog.  Aya starts singing the Foggy Cha Cha to raise their spirits.

They soon chance upon an unexpected sight.  A Ryuuzoh stands along the stairway, but instead of a walking stick in its hands, a mirrored chalice sits.  The chalice is silver with red blood stones.  The group walks past it, bothered by its appearance, and uncomfortable with what it suggests.  They begin to realize they are no longer in the domain of the Ryuujin they are familiar with.  This is the land of the Black Ryuujin!

Thirty minutes further down the staircase, they finally come upon a wasteland.  The rocky terrain makes walking difficult. The cold winds have not ceased.  To their surprise, they find an old friend waiting for them.  Joshua Vane, the Weather Reader, is there and tells them he had fallen here after stepping through a portal in Meowtain.  He likes mountains, but didn't expect to see the group here.  He confirms their suspicions that this is the Southern Continent of Kuro,  When they ask him about heading back to their lands, he informs them of a 3-year journey across the sea to get back by regular ship.  And how there are Piranah storms and that they should find a way instead to search for a Waypoint that can lead them back to Ao, the Northern Continent.   Joshua admits knowing about the Waypoints because his family had created them in the past.

It doesn't take long before the group finds itself stalked by Earth Tigers, vicious massive cats of stone and mud.  The monsters attack them with a relish, and each hit depletes their supply of water as the things seemingly absorb the water they carry like a vampire would draw blood from its prey.

And worse, just as Aya is about to land a perfect blow to defeat one of the Tigers, a dark flash fills the sky and the perfect strike MISSES!   The dark Ryuujin celebrates in the mischief.  Seeing the miss, Piter realizes he needs to help out.  He closes the gap and tries to strike the beast down but misses.  Joshua is yelling at them, wondering what is happening. Tristan admits he does not like this place one bit.  With each Earth Tiger defeated, the tiger explodes into dust and vanishes.

To the least, the things leave a vial on the ground.  Tristan, however, is horrified that there are no remains for him to trap or use in his work.  The sounds of stomping feet begins to erupt, and close in at them.  From the house in the distance, people begin to hurry out and rush to them with chairs, weapons and other things in their hands!  All of them are dressed in dark piecemeal clothing, with mohawks and strange things.  They have come to help in the battle and tell them their "Party leader" rushes to them and asked them to help in exchange for gold.

The group realizes the crowd are all Apes!  Which explains why Party Leader was able to speak with them.  "Where is our gold then? We were promised gold if we try to help?"  Tristan asks if the Party Leader promised "all the gold they have?"  The Ape admits yes.  Party Leader admits they have been paid then, since the group has no gold at all. So that is all the gold they have. The Apes, thankfully, do not hold it against him, and even acknowledge his superior intellect.

*

The group considers getting a room but they realize they have no money to spend to pay for it.  They consider just camping outside instead.  Piter speaks up, asking the Madam Ape if they can stay.  Joshua approaches and talks to the woman, pointing to Aya while he explains something.  The Madam Ape nods and then approaches to Aya and curtsies.  She addresses Aya as the daughter of the Wayfarers and thanks them for it is due to them that business is good for her.  Joshua supposedly had showed her the Wayfarer's seal of office.  They head up the stairs.

Madam Ape identifies them to the whole gathered, calling Aya as the daughter of the Wayfarers.  The Apes stand up, hand on chest, to show their respects.  Aya, being half noble, thanks them properly and bows.  One offers to pay for their food.  Another offers to watch over them during their stay.  Another calls out offering to sharpen their weapons.  More and more offers are made.   Aya smiles, all the while looking at Joshua worried for what he's claimed her to be.  They hurry to the room.

Aya asks Joshua what this Seal of Office is.  Joshua explains she doesn't need to know what that is all about.  Tristan growls they can stop their singsong nonsense.   And they all go to bed to rest and recover.

*

The next morning opens with them feeling a bit more rested.  Tristan wakes up early to gather herbs and look around. The fighters are seemingly gathered around the fireplace, singing of their deeds and accomplishments.  Tristanlooks around and finds Party Leader seated with an eyepatch over one eye, piles of coins and gems all around him.  A pair of cards is in his hands.  The other apes are losing the bets and surrendering more money.  Tristangrabs Party Leader's neck, but one of the warriors grabs Tristan's hand before he can grab Party Leader.  "A bodyguard!??!" Tristan gasps.   To his surprise, the Party Leader is called "The Captain" now by the others.  They learn how he with the assistance of the humans bested one of the Djinn.  The pile of coins and cash are supposedly rewards fairly won.  Tristan does not find any hidden cards tucked him his sleeves or clothes.  Tristan snags the eyepatch off and hands it back to its owner.  Party Leader however expresses through the body guard how he feels unappreciated by the team, especially given his accomplishments are rarely noticed by them.  Tristan announces to everyone that, "The Captain will return the things he won from them.  Since a Captain never steals from his subordinates."  With a motion from the Party Leader, the whole gathering cheers!  As it turns out, Party Leader had bet with them all that he could get Piter to call him "Captain" within an hour. Laughter and cheers spread out.  Tristan admits Party Leader was pretty impressive, and the two head out of the cabin to gather herbs.

Piter turns to see Joshua and Aya still asleep.  He heads down and learns more about the people being indebted to Aya's noble family. Piter gets drawn to the craftsmanship of a chest on the counter, and speaks of how civilized a culture must have created it.  Madame Ape thanks him, since most do not see them and praise them for being civilized.  Most, she explains see them as the slave race they used to be, especially the Neko Kingdoms.  Piter admits he views the world with a higher standard, "That with a fine chest."  They have risen from servitude and being merely meat and playthings for the Neko Kingdom.  "We are now a Pride. It was your Princess' family that first welcomed us and allowed us to serve in every waystation.  Allowed us to reunite our divided families."  They were once separated from family members to serve at the Nekomines and now the males were used as experiments by the Cats' magic, and how the Nekomatas would use them as testing grounds for their stranger incantations.  Piter sees a metal box, and asks if that is specifically to hold coasters.  Madame Ape hands it to him to look at it better.  Piter admits the exquisite craftsmanship is undeniable.  Pressing the side, a cigar comes out.  Piter wishes he could speak to the person who made it.  "A thing of magic, but it eventually runs out," Madame Ape admits.  Piter sees the screws and pops the release, and inside they see the five cigars left,  "You just have to reload it." Madame Ape admits its a magic box that they have to purchase from the Nekomata.  She admits they pay the Nekomatas yearly to re-enchant them.  Piter is starting to think the Nekomatas are conning the Ape people.  She shows another "magic box" the Nekomatas sell them, this time one that creates fire.  Piter explains one merely has to keep the whetstone dry for it to work, then replaced when worn down.  "There's no magic here.  Just..." he stops and wonders why the Nekomatas would do this. He sees more items sold to them, which when worn down, they pay the Nekomatas to re-enchant, which include a collar with a spring-loaded button, a clasp that has a twisting lock, and more.  All items that could be repaired but have been introduced to them as magic.

As he fixes them, the Apes start mumbling how he knows the magics of the Nekos.  But even more interestingly, as Piter studies them, he finds that the Nekos don't seem to even use each item to its full potential. He finds patches and switches that have not been used.  Have they been holding back? Or are those parts even the Nekos don't understand?

*

Joshua wakes up with Aya in the room. He doesn't seem to recognize Aya for a moment, even as Aya tries to tell him they are at Kuro.  She tells him that he convinced everyone that she is the Princess, yet he doesn't seem to recall any of it.  She even shows him the passes to the Library that he gave her before.  Slowly, he begins to recall, but he does seem bewildered to be in Kuro, especially since his family had hired people to protect this place and make safe areas... the same story Aya was told to have done.  She reminds him he came through a door from the sky.  Joshua looks startled to realize he IS in Kuro, and he mutters about needing to call his mother cause he's not supposed to be this far.  He even freaks out upon seeing blood stains on their clothes.

On the cot he was sleeping, a star shaped pendant is left on the pillow.  Aya picks it up and asks him if he dropped it. He asks for it back and when she tells him to calm down, she asks what is the last thing he remembers.  "I was never supposed to lose this... I remember at the mountain, we were-"  *click*  Joshua snaps the pendant on and sits up, looking at Aya with a smile, "Oh, is it morning."  Aya notices the distinct change in his personality, claiming Joshua admitted he is the Wayfarer's son, but no one knows the man has a son, however, and only a daughter.  He claims its a very story and asks her about her nobility as well.  "I'll answer if you answer."

*  

Outside, Tristan finds more roots and less herbs to collect.  Other Apes are studying a map.  He walks up to them with Party Leader, and after deftly parrying greetings to the "Captain," he takes a look of the map.  The map turns out to be a pop-up book showing the island of Kuro and how it changes with the season.  Kuro, it turns out, is a floating island.  "When does it get closest to Ao?"  He learns that the next time Kuro would be closest to Ao again would be three years from now.  When Tristan asks about getting an airship, how fast will it take to travel to it?  The Apes however are confused with the question, as they never traveled such distances before.  He learns the technology of Airships is something the Nekos keep to themselves.  Sqwaking birds above alert them to a coming Neko. The Apes hurry to the cabins and warn that one of the Nekos is coming.  Tristan admits he's curious to meet one, but the Apes warn him to never look up into its eyes.

*

Aya admits to Joshua that she was a noble of Artenia. The Prince of Artenia was impressed with her actions that she was given a noble title for her feats.  She asks Joshua about the Wayfarers and Joshua admits he is the one of the Wayfarers and his parents thought he was a woman all the way til his third year of birth. By then, they realized he wasn't but everyone else in the Kingdom knew he was by then.  They decided to keep the facade and he realizes he wanted to be free to travel.  Aya admits she is the Imperial Lady of Song.

He asks about her statement about him falling through a door in the sky, and she tells him about their encounter at Darkheart Evil Meowtain, and how afterwards, they encountered him again when they arrived here at Kuro.  He mumbles about "it" still happening, which she learns that his mother always warned him of having fleeting memories, of having days where he does not remember things

She noticed that he seems to recover the lost memories the moment he wears the pendant.  He insists it is merely a family heirloom.  They hear the applause from down people as the Apes cheer on Piter for understanding the magics of the Neko. There is some concern of what would happen if the Neko were to hear of this - and that's when the door slams open and one of the Apes with Tristan earlier warns them the Neko are coming!

They arrive in massive armored forms. They walk almost comically, as the suits hinder their mobility, moving like wide armored forms that walk without knees.  The carriage towers over them, almost three stories tall. Piter is greatly impressed by their arrival. The Apes begin to celebrate the arrival of the Nekos. Tristan doesn't like the fruity grog, finding it strange.  Tristan reminds him to stop complaining though since it was given for free. Piter reminds the apes that they will help despite everything that has happened.  Aya admits their friendship is why she stays with them despite everything else that has happened.  She sees the approaching parade of Nekos, and even Joshua feels he should remember more about these Nekos.  The Ring on his finger pulses, and Aya notices it too.  Joshua mumbles a story about how his mother used to tell him if the Ring ever glowed, they should run.  Aya wonders if they should, but worries about their things as they have not packed up yet to leave.

The music has gone silent.  The Apes wait in silence.  The lights focus on the doorway, announcing the Nekos arrival.  Joshua and Aya see the scene from above, and wait by the door upstairs.  A thin fog crawls into the chamber, ankle high, filling the place.  Stepping into view, a figure stoops to walk inside.  Straightening, towering almost nine feet tall, a pure white figure yet almost neckless, with a silhouette reminiscent of a nun's habit.  The figure looks like a cat, yet the head reminds them of a skull.  Joshua mutters, "Nekos..."  The designs on the clothing would have been white against white, almost Egyptian in inspiration.  Gold trimmings enhance the overall look.  Tristan and Piter stay close to each other.  The head descends, and the figure is now only around five feet tall.  There are scented oils trailing in the air as the figure changes in height.  It turns to look at the two, its movements so perfect that Piter begins to suspect the suit is more technological than organic.  Tiny red dots mark the figure's eyes.  Cats eyes.


Tristan bows his head, showing respect.  Piter studies the thing from an Artisan's perspective while Tristan boldly greets the new arrival.  The thing does not reply.  Piter confirms the suit is a container. A highly enhanced container, to allow mobility and function. "It's a suit," Piter whispers to himself, then louder. "Similar to the cigar box!"  Tristan asks the thing to step out, as it would be rude to talk while inside a suit.  He tries to act confident and brave, but Aya definitely wishes they were still in some nicer place.  Piter notices a familiar button and walks up to the thing to reach for the switch he saw and push it.  But in response, something extends from the Nekos hand, a segmented metal thing wreathed in electricity - it wards Piter to step back.  "So they may not be that tall, after all," Piter muses. "You're not putting that down, are you?"  The thing responds with a whipping motion at Piter! Piter fails to dodge out of the way, and the shock strikes him! Piter's clothes start to ignite!  As he pats them off, he draws his polearm as he realizes the thing is not here to talk. Tristan raises his hand to begin casting a spell!

Aya sees a pair of glowing eyes from the window looking at her and Joshua from the outside!  She grabs him and they rush out the door, into the main area where the Apes and the others are.   Joshua sees Tristan casting and yells out a "No," as he reaches to cup Tristan's mouth closed.  "Don't show them..." he yells but he arrives too late.  Tristan casts Shooting Star and the energy flings the Neko out the door, the whip flailing as it flies.  The walls catch fire.  The Apes begin to howl. With Tristan's hand still outstretched, the Apes stare at him in fear.  "Don't show them you have magic..." Joshua gasps.  But it is too late.  The Apes stare at Tristan. Their eyes turn red in response to witnessing the magic.  Aya tells at them to run back upstairs!  The Apes turn to face Tristan, muttering, "Science" as they move with much more threatening moves.  Piter is confused at their sudden hostility.  They back up towards the stairs, staying defensive.   Joshua explains that the Apes were slaves under those who used magic, the Djinn.  All the Apes begin to draw weapons, and those without weapons draw chairs, or anything they can use as weapons.  The Neko at the doorway, sparks flying from it, points at Tristan and mutters, "Djinnborn."  The Apes begin to close in.

Aya screams, "The camels are packed!  Let's go!"  She sees a vase with water, and picks it up as she flings it at Tristan.  Piter lunges forward, while the Apes are distracted by Tristan, and stabs his polearm at the fallen Neko.  The weapon hits close to the switch he saw earlier!  With the vase in Tristan's hand, he uses another spell, one that creates a Rosefever Pollen cloud in front of him.  The petals scatter. Joshua begins to pull Tristan up with him.  "We have to get out, now that they know you are one of the Djinnborn!"  The Apes that leap at Tristan are forced to lunge through the cloud. Of the four that strike, only two are able to hit Tristan with their makeshift weapons.  The Apes tumble to the ground, the Rosefever swirling around them.  Joshua tells Tristan to go upstairs, as their violent natures are only because of him.

The window shatters upstairs.  Aya sees another Neko at the broken portal, and she draws her rapier as quickly as possible.  She howls how much she hates this place as the Neko draws its own claws.  Piter hits the switch he saw earlier, and it opens the Neko's suit, revealing an almost hairless looking cat inside the suit.  The thing is making hacking sounds as it emerges.  The whole suit folds into some kind of backpack on the cat!  Joshua tries to buy the others time by blocking the Apes.  Remembering the chandelier earlier, Tristan wonders if he can leap at it and jump out but he remembers the people here are all Apes. They are bound to out-jump him!  Joshua stabs the closest Ape that nearly grabs hold of Tristan, and the knife cleaves into the thing's face!  The whole group reels in shock at the violence of the combat.  This... place seems to celebrate viciousness and death.

Tristan grabs his crossbow in the room, taking time to load it.  Aya stares at the other Neko by the window and hopes her quickness and weapon grace helps her swing.  The blade is easily parried by the Neko, but its talons are parried as well.  Piter closes in, grabbing the downed Neko, and he sees the old scars all over the cat's face.  It hisses in anger, "Djinnborn!  This is our lands now!"  Piter counters that it does not give them the right to lie to the apes.  "This is your Neko?" The Apes turn to him, with their red glowing eyes.  The Neko held by Piter (from the back of its neck) tells the Apes that those who return the heads of the Djinnborn will be given freedom.  Tristan trains the crossbow at the Neko Aya is fighting.  The bolt flies... but then, somewhere, a woman laughs.  The bolt suddenly bounces off the armor and strikes Aya instead!  Aya shrieks in pain, wishing their Ryuujin was still with them - realizing the land's own dark Ryuujin might be relishing in their misfortune.  She sees another Ape heading up the stairs.  She decides to throw a stab at using her false title once more.  She yells at the Apes to stop what they are doing, and she reminds them all she is Nobility.  The Neko hisses about never ever being slaves again to the Djinnborn.  The Apes, however, have stopped in response to Aya's words.  Piter pulls the Neko close, asking why they are manipulating the Apes. "Do you think you're better? You are just cats in boxes!"  It responds with failed attempts to claw at Piter, but he drags the Neko behind the bar.  Aya sees Joshua bloodied and injured from the assault of the Apes, and she rushes to him.  The Apes pull back.  Joshua thanks her, and he doesn't seem to recognize her again.  Aya searches the ground for any signs of his special pendant.

Upstairs, the battle continues however.   Tristan raises his hand at the Neko by the window once more and begins to cast another Shooting Star spell.  The Neko panics! As the Shooting Star flies, it strikes the Neko but the wounds it causes are miniscule, the Neko rakes at him in response.  "Now they will all find you."

Piter tells the Neko to open the chest.  He shoves the cat into the chest to "cool off" and shuts it closed.  The Apes, no longer red eyes, are watching now, calmer and quieter.  Aya asks for her crest, telling the others that she had lost her crest.  She asks for a healer.  Another Ape comes close, handing her the chain it had found.  As Aya clasps it around Joshua's neck, Joshua suddenly shifts once more in attitude and nearly attacks the closest Ape!  Aya holds him down, calming him down and telling him things are under control.

Tristan realizes he cannot fight the Neko alone.  He Shooting Star's the door to tear it open.  But the Neko leaps out the window once more to escape.  Tristan stumbles out the door to see the battle outside has stopped.


*

An hour had passed.  The Apes have left, most undecided on what had happened.  Most don't seem to even recall the reasons they leapt into battle.  Or that there was a battle.  They are stunned at the realization many of them are suddenly injured.  And one of them is dead.   The Ape go through some ritual with the dead one, each speaking how they fought alongside the ape when they faced different things.   The sadness is palpable.  Piter sits on the chest, keeping the Neko trapped inside.  Joshua hates he cannot recall things clearly, and is wondering who killed the Ape.  Tristan tends to his wounds.  Though he witnessed Joshua killing the Ape, he does not admit or state it.  Madame Ape and the bartender stare at Aya, but admit it is not their place to speak any ill words towards the Wayfarer.    She asks if they blame them for this.  Madame Ape admits it is not blame... but there is no denying the ill wind the Djinnborn brings with them.  Aya explains she owns the Djinnborn her life.

"Kuro trusts only in the magic of the Nekos," Madame Ape explains, "The Science of the Djinnborn can never be trusted."

Aya explains that just as her father and her people welcome the Apes, they welcome the good Djinnborns.  "There are good Djinnborns."  She catches Joshua looking at her.  They both realizes she is lying and they stay silent.  Piter and Tristan wonder if it was the dark Ryuujin that caused that dagger to kill the Ape.  They ask Aya if the Wayfarer can find elsewhere to sleep.  She accepts they will.   One Ape growls, "At least you can still leave."


*

They gather their things. Joshua wonders if they should go to the next Wayfarer point.  Aya wants to find a place the Nekos cannot go.  But Joshua admits there is no place to do so, as the Nekos rule the land.  Tristan suggests they find instead a way to leave this place.  This land.  "The Nekos know I am here."  Aya wonders if they should stick to the wilderness.  Joshua wonders if they can find an airship or some flying steed.  Piter asks what they should do to their captive.  Aya admits it would help to have a hostage.  All of them hate that feeling.

*

A woman in the mirror smiles. She whispers how they can kill the hostage.  To let go of their concerns and to just do what they should do.   Get rid of the threat.  Be safe.

*


"We will stick to the wilderness. Try to get away from any Neko," Aya sighs.  They talk about how Kuro is a floating island, and they had just missed the chance to leave yesterday when it was closest to the other islands.  They consider finding a Djinn, or one of those doors Joshua took.  Joshua offers to bring them to his family, and though the guards might not recognize him, they might have to have Aya keep up the lie that she's the Wayfarer until they meet the parents.  Decided on their plan, they realize they have to now decide on what to do with the Neko in the box.  With one less camel than before, they can't quite bring the Neko with them and feed him too.  

With his polearm drawn, Piter opens the box and they watch in surprise as the Neko comes out gasping for air, beginning to never be placed in a box again.  Unlike other Nekos from their island, this one seems to have been terrified the whole time to be in a box!  Piter asks it for its name, and it replies, "Seven Six One Four One."  Aya gasps that its name is a number!  The Neko admits it has no other name.  Tristan calls it Fluffy instead, which Aya agrees is a better name.  They talk to it, admitting the place seems morose and depressing to the point they seem to act in such a way.  "If you continue to let your past dominate you," Piter explains to the Neko, "You're still slaves."  The Neko admits the only way to free themselves is to make sure they can never happen again.  Piter tells it they have to stop manipulating the Apes, and to stop confusing Magic and Science.   The Neko insists their Magic is well earned, and that they charge the Apes what is fair.  Aya  whispers to the others this is not winning their confidence.  The Neko growls at them, calling them uneducated buffoons.  Piter shoves him back into the box and tells him if he's so educated he can get out on his own.  Tristan tells Piter to let the cat go.  He rather be marred as a Djinnborn than be evil enough to mistreat others.  "We're just reinforcing what they believe."

The Apes prepared something for the Princess.  They give the group water and food rations to take with them.  They hope it will at least sustain them for their journey.  Aya admits she understands.  Piter tips the box over to let the Neko get out.  The Neko, gasping for breath, is weak and unmoving on the floor.  Feeling sorry, Aya decides to toss to the Neko the fishbone earring that she got from Ifa. 76141 stares at the earring and looks shocked.    They are shown out of the Tavern.   Joshua claims to have gotten directions and knows which way to head to... their family.


*

The group heads back into the wind and cold.  With the camels, the group preps to leave.  They notice another camel has gone missing, and the group realizes a dragon must have taken it the other camel once more.

*

76141 hold the fishbone earring up to its eyes.  It stares at it and tears well in its eyes.  "They made it... they made it...."


*

In a dark room.

A fireball explodes.  The fire hovers and grows.  The dark woman stares at the flames.  She shows her long nails and mutters, "We can make a deal." The other dragon stares.  She motions at the glass and the image of four travelers can be seen.  The two dragons stare at each other.  She pulls out a dagger and offers it to the other dragon.

The dragon takes it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Nisab Diary ep07 : 7th Sea

11/03/2016
The Nisab Diary

"Guests"
Episode Seven - 7th Sea

Three days have passed since the group arrived at Heilgrund.  Present as guests of the Eisenfursten Stefan Heilgrund, the three find themselves among the company of guests he has welcomed for the last few nights.  At Stefan's side, Jan Volta sits with Walden Reinhart nearly.  After him, Adeliadis Petronilla Fassequele sits with Crisostomo Felix to her right.  Then Gerhard Weinmuth sits beside Reikion, who also sits alongside Vasili and Julianna Onesta.  Stefan apologizes for the absence of one more guest and the last three nights were spent discussing topics of interest and showing off stories of their travels.   They all know Stefan to be a collector of old artefacts and occult treasures and are given the freedom to explore his manor.

Adeliadis Petronilla Fassequele
(River Song)
Adeliadis, dressed in a beautiful gown, speaks only using her Montaigne language, despite seemingly understanding what everyone else is saying.  Gerhard and Vasili admit to having traveled together before, and most can only wonder what a Monster Hunter from Eisen and a Wanderer from Ussura could have in common. Gerhard proudly wears the symbol of Die Kruezritter around his neck.  Crisostomo Felix eagerly shares his story of how heroes saved him and his sister from a wedding to what seemed to be one of the Sidhe, despite being at the small town of Penitence at the time.  Most, however, give a cold reception to Julianna, who clearly is a devout holder of the Vaticine faith, and most likely a practicing Inquisitor. When Julianna tries to start a conversation about the need for people to let go of their superstitious beliefs on the old ways, given "Science shows us the truth and the facts of life. The old ways are ignorance clutching on stupidity.  The world is filled with progress and scientific understanding."  Vasili simply glares at her.  Adeliadis laughs and in her nation's language mutters how the one who has spoken the least has spoken the most.  She admits she deigns to speak languages that are beneath her tongue.


Vasili (Noomi Rapace)
People start mingling on their own.  Julianna's topic clearly has ushered people to entertain themselves away from her.  Adeliadis and Jan Volta walks off to talk about things on their own.  Reikion steps aside and follows Vasili who heads for the nearest balcony after making an excuse of needing fresh air.  Gerhard asks Stefan about his collection of old texts and artefacts of the Syrne.  He admits he finds them tremendously interesting, like an archaeologist finding fascination in the old dead things.  Waiters constantly follow them, each carrying an open bottle of wine to refill their drinks. "

Vasili and Reikion talk about how she and Gerhard are seeking a missing party for almost a week: a group of Montaigne travelers who were intended to arrive at Ussura.  The group, watched over by a female bodyguard, was traveling via Porte but never arrived.  She shares the name of the missing bodyguard to be Allette Lydine Myrmi Moreau and how she was escorting a religious group.  Reikion remembers the woman who died after the assault of the Schattenmann.  Vasili's eyes glaze over and Reikion recognizes it as when one calls upon Matushka's gifts to See through animal eyes.  She shares that she can see camps outside the manor, which she suspects are the Inquisitor's men.

Jan and Adeliadis talk, and she starts asking him about what it is like to have one of the dievas.  He is a bit surprised to hear her so plainly talking about them.  Jan arrives with two glasses of wine.  She identifies him as clearly the one who is educated and moral in the room.  She talks about schooling at Montaigne and he admits never having an eye for social graces. She admits she studied all of it and finished them all a year ahead of the rest. Jan suggests they head back to the others, but Adel admits she is starting to enjoy talking to him and asks him if he was going to offer the drink in her hand.  Jan laughs, and they talk some more, learning that Adeliadis was refused attendance in the Academy. Jan admits he was taught there too.  She smiles, musing he must be good with his sword.

Walden motions for a servant and asks about Stefan's gallery.  The servant informs him the master has four galleries and accompanies him to see them.  He notices how Heilgrund is definitely faring better than Starke was.  He notices an octagonal room as the servant leads him and asks the servant to explain what the room is.  He learns it is the Hearth Room and it contains portraits of each of his most favored friends.  Stepping inside, Walden stares at each portrait and wonders who the others are.  He starts to feel like there's something familiar about these painting, and notices one of them is missing from the walls.  The wall where it should be shows it was recently mended.  He then hears from the servant the missing portrait was meant for the Master Gamaran.  Walden realizes the portraits frames would have matched the one they saw in Gamaran's home near the river.   Walden begins to wonder if the others are the other members of the Novus Ordo Mundi. He then notices one of the portraits shows a man in coat tails and a top hat.  White gloved hands.  A Magician.

A magician.

Reikion and Vasili speak of the Inquisition has men camped all around.  He worries they are here for them. When they return to the table and see Stefan alone with Julianna at the table, they divert their return and instead look for the galleries as well.  He overhears Julianna talking about Blessures having been sighted, however, in more locations as of the late.  She stresses that the careless and heedless usage of Sorcery must be stamped out before things get worse. They are directed by the servant to the three galleries, which start with a massive display of the remains of a huge creature, its fossilized bones reconstructed to stand in display.  They also speak of the Montaigne group Vasili was searching for, and Reikion admits he is uncertain if they are the same group as the ones he met in the woods.  They note the place is illuminated with smokeless illumination and both realize it is one of the creations of Nisab.  Both of them shift to their animal forms as blessed by Matushka as they explore the gallery, focusing on the magnificent yet monstrous creature that is massive enough to swallow a man whole in one bite.  Reikion shudders at the thought of someone finding a way to "reawaken" such a monstrous thing.  They find more bones of these strange creatures from the time before history, and artifacts which Vasili claim are truly from their past.  She wonders if the Inquisitor outside would question the very existence of this room. Terrifyingly, Reikion finds a few old crates which match the ones sent from Montaigne to Starke with that horrible tree monster. He investigates further and finds an identical hatch as well, connecting to an underground water source.  The similarities bother him.

Adel and Jan continue talking, with their words dancing around with flirtatious undertones. Adel mentions the Seym are having concerns given the son of the aged and dying King of the Commonwealth has declared every citizen the status of a noble.  Jan finds it a bold move, and possibly a great step forward to a brighter future.  Adel finds Jan optimistic for someone from the Commonwealth. The discussion then shifts to the darker entities in the lands which offer power for favors, and even likening them to the Sidhe of Avalon, long expelled from the lands of Avalon. Jan never considered that possibility, but does not agree that it sounds very silly.  Adel confesses she sticks to speaking only in Montaigne because she hates having to use the other lower languages.  When he offers to share information with her, she asks him though if they are "completely alone." When he confesses he is never alone, she admits knowing a way to hide from the dievas. She seems to know more about the Sanderis than expected for someone from Montaigne, and she claims she had lovers - as if that was explanation enough for what she had knows. She admits having an addiction to new experiences and suggests she never has seen one of the dievas before.

Walden learns to his surprise that the Magician in the room is supposedly a man named Montano le Blanc.  It was not the name he was expecting, but it was a name nonetheless.  He asks for the names of the other friends and notes them down: Maxwell Gamaran, Consuela Boredon, Stanimir, Baron Victor Maison, Onyena Vesna.  He is then told that Montano is supposed to arrive tonight, with the animals to be released in the hunt.  Walden asks to be shown the gardens where the hunt will happen. Outside, with flashes of lightning in the sky, Walden sees the massive expanse that constitutes the garden and is told how their master Stefan prefers to keep the garden as it was... a tiny forest. But as he asks to be brought to the sculptures outside, they both hear the announcement of something having arrived.  It seems le Blanc has arrived.  They opt to head back and see the man in the suit with his white gloves and top hat.  Walden walks up to the man and introduces himself.  To Walden's surprise, the man greets him as if he was "Stefan" and does not look like the magician they have fought with in the past.  Montano is definitely not Gasparo Angelo.

Things quickly spiral in other directions as the group learns more about the company they are with. Adeliadis reveals to Jan that she is aware of ways to make one unnoticed by the dievas, admits she lied to him about not having seen one before, but is very curious of his.  She eventually reveals she is here because she was tracking members of an organization known as Novus Ordo Mundi and she was wondering if they were allied with those people.  Reikion and Vasili learn that Julianna Onesta has gone off with her Inquisitors, and Vasili's spies have warned her that the Inquisitor has come upon a house, demanding for them to surrender a sorcerer.  Both opt to head out and see if they can help the family in any way, without gaining the Inquisitor's notice.  Walden begins to wonder if there were inconsistencies with the discussions with the servant, but gets distracted when he sees Gerhard motioning for him to come close.  The man talks to Walden about having come here to claim something he had neglected to mention in his reports, a discussion that Walden feels is in relation to the drachensteisen daggers he had retrieved from the home of Gamaran.  After surrendering a dagger, however, Walden is walking towards the gallery when he sees Gerhard in another room, staring at the portraits!  He turns back to find the table where the other Gerhard was now empty and panics at the thought it might be the supposed Villain with many faces: Reinhard Vogel!

In the city, Reikion notices the daughter attempting to flee from the rooftops - so he follows her and tells her to hide.  She begs him to help her parents.  He and Vasili use their panache to distract and lure the guards away, knocking down more and more of the Inquisition's men before the high priest begins to suspect something is up.  Reikion distracts the Inquisition long enough to send the parents away.  But Julianna Onesta arrives, and despite seeing Reikion in a hood, she pulls on the threads to twist Reikion's nature and draws out his tendency to act foolishly.  Reikion finds himself unable to help himself and uncovers his face, proclaiming his name to the Inquisitor and warning her never to come back again.  She seems amused, however, that Reikion claims to be of the Eventide.  She admits having wiped them out quite recently. She watches him leave, but not before repeating the name carefully to make sure she never forgets it ever again.

Adeliadis and Jan realize the Villains must have begun their plans, given so many seem to be missing from the place.  She hurries off to search in one direction, while suggesting to Jan to head the way his friend had gone.  Jan runs back to the dining hall and sees Walden running into the servants' quarter's entrance.  Following suit, he does not see Walden take a different turn and ends up going down a different direction.  Walden finds himself in the chamber of the Eisenfursten, and as he creeps close, overhears the man speaking darkly of some kind of scheme in his plans.  When Walden confronts him however, he learns Stefan actually does not know of what is going on, and was merely playing the part he was told to perform.  Stefan actually believes he is a candidate for the New World Order, but Walden doubts a pathetic man such as him would be given such access.  Outside, along the stairwell, Adeliadis finds Jan once more and the two discuss the possible schemes that may be unfolding.  Adeliadis however notices the massive windows - glass portals from ceiling to floor, that exist on every floor - and a realization comes to her.  She realizes the Mastermind behind the Villainous plots might have lured them to this very castle, in order to observe them and gain more knowledge about them!  She pulls Jan close and recommends to him that from this point they find ways to act contrary to their personalities and misdirect their enemies.  She suspects the Mastermind must have some kind of telescopic device to see far differences.  She remembers hearing of such as a present from a Nisab Guissola.  And she suspects the Villains are now attempting to gather her work, to use them for their selfish purposes.

Walden learns from Jan of the possible trap the Villains have laid down for them, and so he terrifies Montano le Blanc, bringing the old Montaigne to tears with his very words.  When Stefan makes a fuss, he fires at him with his pistol to shut him up, leaving him with a not too painful flesh wound.

The heroes soon meet outside, standing in the rain as it falls.  Adeliadis thanks them for their help and promises to help them whenever she can.  For now, however, her task to observe learn more of the Villains and their plans.  Jan and Walden leave, moving through the rain to meet with Reikion at their pre-set meeting ground.

Once there, they opt to leave immediately.  Using his dievas, Jan commands it to create a shadowy doorway to help them travel and reach the Sarmatian Commonwealth sooner.  They do so, crossing the distance in an eye-blink, and find themselves crashing a wedding!    







Doll and Advanced Doll now available in Italian!



Just got word that Dreamlord Press has released Italian translations of Josh Jordan's Doll as well as Advanced Doll, the expansion I wrote up for it!  Whooo hoooo!   First saw the post here.

(Pardon the rough translation that follows.  This was a Google Translated version of the article in their website)

From Dreamlord Press

From today, available on our website!

Doll
Thanks to a team of passionate, here's the Italian version of doll, game of narration of Josh T. Jordan.
After appearing in our catalogue shared with narrattiva and coyote press like game tribute in his basic version, we put it to the full version, epub and PDF format.
Doll - Doll is a game of narration for two. A player plays a child which has just died the pet. The other player's impersonating the doll, the puppet or another game of the child. The doll knows everything, but not always tells the truth. During the game, the child will try to find out the truth about their parents: will they be good or bad? 
Advanced Doll is a supplement for Doll. This supplement adds rules for additional players, further events for guiidare your story through another 20 minutes of play, and many additional rules how the co-Author, Tobie Abad, managed to squeeze in.
Giulia Cursi Daniele Di Rubbo Antonio Amato Josh Jordan Tobie Abad Ghibaudo Mauro

Advanced Doll was one of the first things I ever tried writing in any formal or professional level for the role-playing and storygaming community.  I'm very happy to see it still getting some attention.  Thank you so much!


Visit their website at
Dreamlordpress.it

Grab the game here:
http://www.dreamlordpress.it/acquista/negozio/prodotto/doll

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sunlight now Available at DriveThruRpg


My Game chef 2016 entry, Sunlight, is now available on DrivethruRpg in both Pay What You Want and full-color formats.  Written for the contest, and dedicated to our beloved dog, Yoshi, the game is a real-time webcam based role-playing game where one player is Command, who has to try to rescue the other players within a single hour.  The game uses innovative new systems, including blind tracing and resource allocation, and was greatly inspired by games such as Space Alert and Rafael Chandler's Viewscream.

Everyone who supported the original book is now able to download the full-colored version for free.

Hope you like it!

Retails at $3.00 at DrivethruRPG
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/187740/Sunlight

Pay What You Want version available too.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/199032/Sunlight--PWYW-edition


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sleeper ep02 : V20

10/23/2016
Sleeper

"Museum are for the Dead. Media are for the Living."
Episode Two

Vampire 20th Anniversary


With the media swarming over the shooting that happened at Mark Robert's haven, the Prince Marcus Vitel immediately contacts the new Sheriff, Alex Cross, to deal with the situation.  Stressing the grave importance of the need to maintain the Masquerade, Marcus Vitel reminds him to settle thing before things get more out of hand and the attentions of other more powerful beings are caught. 

Alex reaches out and contacts the Brujah Hound, Diana Pierce and the two seek for a way to distract the media before things come to a terrible peak.  The Tremere David Sullivan runs  his own investigations and reaches out to the Brujah in hopes of finding more information that may prove useful. His own investigations leads him to the strip club called Purgatory, which happens to be the existing Brujah Hunting Ground. While Alex and Diana learn that the other Clans are greatly uncertain on what course of action to take, all seem content to leave Alex Cross the responsibility of finding a solution to the standing problem.  This may include playing the games of prestation the Kindred are known to play.  Alex reminisces on the lessons given to him before by his Sire, the long absent Alistair Kent.
Bjorn Garinson, Brujah Elder
(Travis Fimmel)

David Sullivan on the other hand, discovers that the Brujah Clan had withdrawn from the Camarilla after the destruction of the former Prince, and more interestingly, the current Brujah Elder seems to be a vampire of immense age.  

In the end, Alex finds an opportunity to distract the media from the home of Dor - but only if he willingly accepted owing a boon to the voice on the phone that addressed him.  The caller turn out to be the Anarch Razor, who fulfills his side of the bargain with an act of arson upon the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum!  The burning flames upon the museum draws the media to the site, immediately emptying the streets surrounding Dor's haven.   The Prince commends Alex for his strategy, not knowing that Alex was only able to accomplish it by agreeing to a boon Razor shall call for in the near future.

When Cross and his newly selected Hounds enter the premises to investigate, they find Velvet, Dor's Brujah bodyguard, staked and beaten, and discover she has vague recollection of facing invisible assailants.  Using a Thaumaturgical Ritual, Sullivan leads the group in following the trail but as they get deeper into the sewers, they discover the trail going cold when it leads through running water, and the unexpected attack by a massive albino gator forces them to withdraw back onto the surface.

Suspecting Dor having been abducted by the Nosferatu, Cross maps out his options - keeping Diana close by as they think of how to search for the missing Dor without angering the Nosferatu.  Sullivan traps himself in a complicated lie when Bjorn Garinson assumes he is a Brujah posing as a Tremere. Bjorn finds Sullivan's company amusing, and welcomes him to the Clan.  Sullivan reaches out to a George Lawrence, a Nosferatu who might hold answers he needs.

And Diana decides to do some investigating on her own, an act that leads her to an old orphanage where the children are all in some strange kind of daze as they sing a haunting song, and to her horror she discovers them all to be member of the Sabbat, and the group separates to hunt in the streets of Washington, D.C.  On her attempt to sneak away, however, she only succeeds thanks to the help provided by Scott Levin, who silences her and reminds her not to move while his Cloak the Gathering protects them from being seen by the children.   

Angelica Stravinsky, Toreador elder
(Meryl Streep)
Among the Harpies, Cross notes how the Toreador Angelica Stravinsky, despite being far older and more influential, does not stand at the Clan's Primogen, and yet holds some strange hold over the Tremere Regent, Helena Taylor.

With all these events, Dor remains missing, and even perhaps more disturbing, no one knows for certain what has happened with the Malkavian Mildred, whom has been missing from the public eye as well.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dreams Betwixt Walls ep07 : A Red and Pleasant Land

10/01/2016
Dreams Betwixt Walls
Episode Seven

"There Will Be Cake"

A Red and Pleasant Land

Days and nights quickly pass. Vera feels attuned to the passing of time. A green pig mumrat, lots of dwarfs, non-vampires, humans, animals they visit and come seeking permission, seeking roles.  Vidar ponders on the metals not being right.  The two argue about the need to find their way home, with Vera insistent that she would do whatever was necessary to send their daughter home.  She still believes all will be going according to her plans.

Ilya learns about life in this strange new world.  She learns of the hunt/market and understands the way things are managed here.  The kids form a cohesive unit in hunting.  They talk about early emergence from the well and about hiding and how to do it properly.  

Jacque arrives and this time, perhaps for the first time, the others begin to notice her resemblance to Ilya.  Jacque admits that the Heart Queen cannot die.  That the Red King supports them in their plans.  To prove his favor, a book of magic is offered, including the diamond dust needed to cast the Teleport spell.  Vera tasks Vidar to have a mirror made, with the help of five laborers.  Mava visits Ilya and tries to get the needed workers.  She visits Vera for the log book and the two talk about the usefulness of each member of the court.  Vera warns Mava of her role in things here, which leads to her walking out.  Vera then calls for the priest, and shares with him the information on the book and the dust.  He asks for the skull but she admits it is not with her.  It is with the girls.  "Trust them."  Becomes the theme of the conversation.  Vera even recommends to the priest to find dust so Mava can be the target of the Teleport spell as well.

Mava meets up with Ace.  Their discussion, originally to find workers, shifts when the father arrives and asks for the skull.  The father wants to resolve his promise and get it out of th eway.  Mava runs to Ilya, however, before the priest can get to her.  They find the kids hopscotching about.  He talks to them about the skull and during their discussion a ten-year old Hatta joins the conversation.  Night quickly comes as the group discuss the Head and soon learn that Hatta is actually present on behalf of the Pale King.

Father Geoff meets with the King Vidar while Lyle works on the metal.  Vera studies the spell and learns of the way the Mirror Universe works.  She learns she can bring someone back to the Quiet Side, the term for the place she was from, but only if someone else remains in front of the mirror the whole time while the spell is cast.  Reflections of each other.  If the person leaves, the other would be pulled back from the Quiet place.  Worse, she realizes she cannot be that anchor.  It has to be someone else.

Vidar demands for glass blowers and approves the use of silver in the mirror.  Vera and Geoff plan regarding the Head.  Both realize there is more important things to map out than originally discussed. Using a spell, she creates a facsimile of the Skull which is then handed back like the real thing.

The Tea Party begins.  By then, Vidar's mirror is complete.  Ilya is cuddling with the animals while Mava dresses fancy for the first time in her entire life.  Monochrome people arrive with black text emerging from their pale bodies.  Behold the King, the statements say.  The Pale King has arrived. The carriage, led by two horses, comes to a stop and a dwarf comes out.  Vera notes how the Pale King resembled Vidar, though no one else seems to see it.  Hatta introduces the Pale King to Vera and Vidar, and Vera makes sure to seat him by the Mirror.    When she sees Geoff, she inquires if he's prepared the dust.  Sadly, he does not have any.

A pond appears.  Out of the water on the ground, a colorless pawn emerges.  Geoff sets the body of the queen, still encased in glass, beside the Pale King.  Knights in black armor with colorless faces emerge from the water.  Nivia, the Colorless Queen arrives. Vera motions to Geoff to occupy the guests.  He begins to act as a host.  Vera worries about the matches she needs to use in the Mirror Universe spell.

She assigns the Fool (Mava) to delay the events by giving a show.  Clubs arrive.  Diamonds (Courtiers).  Hearts (Children).  The Heart Queen then arrives, Elizabeth Bathyscape herself, as does the Unicorn.  Ilya is able to approach it and offers it cake.  The two seem to be at home with each other's presence.  But when the Lion sees the Unicorn, things go crazier.  The Lion attacks!  Mava takes the moment of distraction to act too and tries to decapitate the Heart Queen, but despite her best efforts, the Heart Queen merely shrugs off the attack as if it barely hurt her!

The Colorless Queen turns into mist.  The Pale King transforms into Water.  The whole even exasperates Ilya, which shunts everything forward in the time table as the Mirror Universe spell is cast!  Mava stands close to the mirror, fighting against the Heart Queen.  Vidar feels an odd feeling on the mirror and drags Vera to it.  Vidar touches it and feels he can pass through. Vera, however, cannot.    Geoff tries to force the Heart Queen back, calling upon his faith, but it does not work. The Heart Queen transforms into a wolf and attempts to bite Mava.  Vera hurls the fake skull at the Heart Queen, hoping to distract her.  As the Heart Queen reaches for the skull, Vera casts Web upon her to trap her with the mass of other animals running about.  Geoff reminds Mava to "Be Strong" and his faith becomes a spell of Heroism upon her.  Ilya tries to touch the mirror even as the Qeen kills a few of the dwarf vampires.

Vidar topples out of a box, and finds a broken mirror in shards.  Only the mirror frame remains on the wall.  The walls, however familiar, do not match the rest of the walls of the chamber.  He looks around and discovers it is night and there are no servants.  Vidar, at the other side, sees Nicolai the Butler, who fires at him with a pistol.  Vidar closes the gap and with his axe, cleaves through the butler into two.

Vera insults the Heart Queen to lure her towards the mirror.  Ilya plunges the skull into the water and she finds skeletal fingers reaching for it to pull it in.  She realizes it was a bad idea and begins to tug back against the bones, in a tug of war for the Colorless Queen's head.  Geoff and Vera face the Heart Queen, who pins Vera against the Mirror .  Geoff calls for his faith and it emerges as light wounds upon Vera, which sadly, ends up healing her.   The Heart Queen bites Vera, and in response, Vera plants her hands on the Heart Queen's face and casts Continual Light on her eyes.  Geoff pulls Vera back and heals her with another healing prayer.

Ilya tells the Colorless Queen to "deal with the Heart Queen or things will become unpleasant for you."  Mava attempt to launch an attack but instead slips on the water.  The Colorless Queen casts a spell on Ila in response, "Avadakevadra!" 

Vidar storms the hallways, and notices there are portraits of Nikolai all over.  The servants hurry back upon seeing him.  Vidar roars, reminding them all that this is his castle.   He attacks the servants. Vidar starts yelling at the remaining servants to leave.

Ilya tries to pull the skull free.  Father Geoff calls for Sanctuary and casts it upon Vera. Vera tries to shove the Heart Queen through the mirror, but she resists with her own magic.  Vera realizes her magic is equal to the Heart Queen's so she tips the edge by trusting in the father's magic instead.  The divine sanctuary forces the Heart Queen to fall through the mirror.  But then, Vera begins to vanish, evaporating just as the Heart Queen does so! Ilya learns from Jacque of Vera's plans and sees her own mother disappear.

Vera finds herself trapped, held by something she cannot see.  She screams calling for help and somehow, Vidar can hear her muffled voice.  He begins to attack the wall and inside of it, he uncovers Vera chained to the wall.  Vera, now freed, tries to repair the broken mirror but it seems impossible.  She screams for her daughter.

The party goes worse when a grand monstrosity emerges, the Jabberwocky!   It charges after the others as it appears.  With everyone running away in a panic, Ilya exasperates once more and somehow charms the creature!  It tells her the two ways she can return to the Quiet place: Eaten by the Jabberwocky or by killing the Countess.  With the animals gone, Ilya finds herself becoming the mistress of the monster.  She has become the Queen.

A voice tells Vera she needs to go back.  Vidar sets the mirror pieces down and Vera tries to cast a spell to send Vidar through.  Vera wants to let the daughter find a way back.

Ilya chooses and she shatter the Jabberwocky's heart.  The Dream shatters as Vidar goes through the cracks and the dream comes to an end.  Mava sees the head matching her.  Father Geoff holds Mava and one by one they begin to awaken from the dream back in the Quiet Place.

Mava awakes at her old room at the Church.  The place is a warehouse now.

Ilya wakes up in her own room, which looks closed and never used.

Vera hears the voices fade.  Light fades around her.  She stares at the glass waiting for Vidar to return, but he does not.  She waits, though.  Waits and waits.  And Ilya never gets her to leave the side of the mirror again.

Father Geoff awakes in a room.  He finds a candelabra and lights it.  The room is not familiar.  He looks around the large chamber and finds a woman in a night gown in the room.  The woman reveals her fangs.  The welcome him back.

Vidar feels dragged by two knights in red.  Mirrors are all around.  He tries to break free but they pull him away to a throne room.  There, the gathered address him as an intruder.  On the throne, Vidar looks up and sees the old father Geoff, dressed in red.  The priest addresses him as being in the Red Keep and welcomes him to his new home.

***

And with that, our game ended.   Thank you BJ Recio for the nightmarish game filled with wonder and fear.  Thank you to Adrian, Gia, Fabs, Mia and Rocky for playing in the game with me. It is not often I get to be a player, and I will admit I had fun embracing my "Missy" role more than I thought.  The setting book is fantastic, and I do foresee taking my own stab at running this setting someday perhaps using a different system set.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Nisab Diary ep06 : 7th Sea

10/24/2016
The Nisab Diary

"Schattenmann"
Episode Six - 7th Sea

More days and nights have been spent in the dark woods of the Schwarzen Walder. Save for Reikion, who seems to be in his element, the two other try to make the most of the journey as they navigate the rougher woods and uneven terrain.  They have reached the deepest parts of the forest. Moonlight barely shines through.  If anything, they know they are at least halfway through the darkest part of the woods.

Reikion finds himself enjoying the isolation and cold and absence of man. He has gotten so inspired, he's been catching game to eat. Jan Volta, however, is getting concerned since oil levels are going low and the distance from civilized lands bothers him. When Walden Reichart finds a second dead body, one underneath a fallen tree, he notes how it is again a religious figure - a woman dressed in a nun's habit, clearly of the Vaticine Church.  She is missing the upper half of her head, however, with a clean cut across the head -  leaving only the lower jaw and the rest of the neck.

Ahead of them, Reikion can see a barn not that distant from the rest.  Embracing Matushka's blessing, he transforms into a raven and flies off to check it out.  Walden shows Jan the dead body and they note the clean cut, realizing it seems to have been done by two opposing blades -  a massive pair of shears.  Reikion flies to the bard and sees the farmland has a wooden fence surrounding it.  The place looks to be in a general state of disarray. A smaller barn house stands not too far away.  The house shows smoke rising from the chimney, with make-shift shutters on the windows.  Reikion notes all the crops, corn from the looks of it, are in a terrible state.  Perhaps due to drought or the ground lacks fertility. Reikion lands on the roof of the house, and peering through the cracks and breaks on the shingles, he can see an older woman deeply focused on her prayer by the fireplace.  Two younger children, around five to six years of age, silently kneel in prayer, though occasionally nagging each other quietly.  Reikion does not find any sign of the father in the household, however.  He notices the faint glow in the small barn, and so he flies there to check.  Landing on the side window, he sees the older man holding a lamp in one hand while he keeps the cow calm.  The eldest daughter is attempting to milk the cow and complains that nothing is happening even if they have been trying for the last few days.  Reikion looks up and realizes as thick as the woods have gotten, this farmland must have been chosen to take advantage of the clearing above, allowing moonlight and likely at day - sunlight - through.  He decides to fly back to the others.

Jan studies the dead body, hoping to understand how she came to be under the fallen tree. Walden is watching the surroundings, searching for any foot prints and the like.  Reikion sees a shiny thing in the woods in the distance as he flies back.  Descending to check, he notices the slightest of moonlight reflecting against a metallic surface in the shadow of a tree.  Jan realizes the body died from the partial decapitation, so it wasn't a post-mortem cut.  Her feet are adorned with shoes that are not practical to wear in the woods. She does not look like someone who would have been traveling through the forest.  Walden notices something shimmering in the branches above and he whispers to Jan he doesn't think they are alone right now.  Reikion lands by the tree's shadow and tries to get a closer look of the shiny thing.  He uncovers it is a belt buckle, with foreign craftsmanship, laid on a clump of dead leaves and mud.  He notes the buckle is adorned with the depiction of the rising of the Prophet.   Reikion looks up the tree, wondering if it came from someone up the tree. Maybe it fell from the branches.  He sees the shimmering thing on the branches - the same thing which Walden had seen - and Reikion realizes from his vantage point it is an ornate throwing dagger. Jan studies the corpse's clothes and realizes she probably came from Montaigne.  Walden sees a raven looking up the dagger, and realizes it is Reikion.  Just before it could fly up to check the dagger, however, instincts kick in and Reikion dodges to the side.  Another dagger hits the nearest tree trunk!  The buckle, it turns out, was not just on leaves and mud.  A hidden figure owns the belt, and had covered itself in mud and leaves.  Reikion squaks a warning to the others.  Jan and Walden drop the body and hurry to where the raven is.  

There, they discover a woman caked in mud and leaves.  The woman, clearly from Montaigne as well, is lacking her right arm and her legs.  She is barely conscious.  "So much for killing you, but I guess I shouldn't have tried."  She laments about dying in what she calls Eisen to be a god-forsaken country.  She mutters that prayer does work when Reikion resumes a human form in front of her.  Jan and Walden arrive, and as they examine her wounds, she tells them about the terrible events her group had befallen.  When Jan informs her he is a doctor and can help, all the more she muses about prayer working.  But as Jan tells her he can treat her, his dievas appears beside her smiling.  Jan realizes the woman is Montaigne, and he still has a standing promise to insult the first Montaigne he sees.  The woman explains she had her companions must have made a "bad walk" somewhere and fell out of the Walk.  And that "it" came out of nowhere.  Jan tries to suppress her bleeding but when he tries to insult her but muttering this is the stupidest thing he has ever heard or seen anyone do, the woman accepts the statement as truth rather than an insult.  The dievas warns Jan that if he fails to insult her before they meet another Montaigne, he fails to fulfill the promise.  They wash clean her wounds, clean her up a bit to help her feel better.  She mumbles, hallucinating that a dog is licking her face. "Good dog..."

Walden wonders if this even connects to the Montaigne crates they had seen in the greenhouse in Starke.  The possible picture of all of these being connected bothers him. The group begins to wonder if she's related to the other religious dead people they had seen in the earlier days.  The Walk, however, makes them wonder if it has anything related to the Porte Sorcier they met and the supposed blessures in the area. 

But lo, to their horror, the Schattenmann appears!  The nightmarish figure turns out to be real and with his massively long limbs, it begins to close in on the group with its gleaming shears.  The group realizes they have to act quickly!  While Reikion uses his dueling skills to give him an edge, Jan Volta tries to fulfill his promise to the dievas while trying to help her as well. Walden learns that the farm house somehow has never been visited by the Schattenmann and after asking them for help, wonders if the group can run there to find sanctuary from the horror.  

Jan resorts to doing something unthinkable.  Using a favor he has with the dievas, he strips the Montaigne woman of any memories of the horror she has gone through, then tells her of how she has brought failure to the people she was tasked to protect.  The woman undergoes the terrible anguish of once more feeling her inadequacy in watching over her charges, and worse, re-experiences the painful trauma of losing her limbs once more.  The act touches Jan with a hint of Corruption and the dievas smiles.

Their combined efforts thankfully begin to weaken the Schattenmann, and with the use of vines, ice weapons and well timed shots, the three successfully defeat the horror!  Jan glimpses a long forgotten lore about the thing, through the dievas' help,  and discovers the Schattenmann is a cursed state gained when someone touches the silver shears.  For this, he agrees to say yes to the first "offer" he is given  within the next 24-hours.  He quickly buries them under some earth and leaves and tells the rest that they should head back.  When they get to the Montaigne woman, whom they had left on the grass while they fought the horror, they discover she had passed on.  The guilt gnaws on Jan Volta, who promises to not consort or use the powers the dievas has given to him as a penance for his actions.

The group arrives at the farm house and learn the family has reservations of allowing one of the Waizen into their homes. Reikion opts to rest in the forest, not feeling welcome given the family's strong focus on their faith in the Prophets.  Walden opts to camp somewhere else as where, nearly hitting the shears in his walk.  And Jan finds himself quickly falling asleep,  He does not see the eldest daughter, Tomasin, sneaking into the room and staring at him.

One can only wonder what she has to ask from him by the time he awakens.

*

The next morning, Jan awakens to find himself alone at the breakfast table, where he is given bread and butter and water to enjoy.  Reikion soon arrives, and thankfully is still welcomed to join for breakfast.  Walden, however, still feels unwelcome given the view most Eisen have for one of the Waizen. But when the older son goes missing, the family begin to worry what may have happened.  The heroes are tasked to see if they can help with the farm animals, as well as if they can find the missing boy.

In the barn, Reikion inspects the animals and finds a black goat locked up in a cage.  The family sees the goat as an ill omen and does to allow it to roam free.  When he inspects the cow, he discovers it is unable to create milk given the terrible nutrition is has.  He recommends they allow the cow to graze outside the fenced area. Reikion searches the woods as well for the missing boy and finds another farm house further in the woods.  The group commences trying to find more signs of the boy.

In the woods, a bear is found sleeping.  There are signs of it having attacked a boy. Worse, they find the boy's shoe there.  When the eldest daughter learns of this she asks them to find the boy.  Also in the woods, they find Olaf, the brother of the siblings from tower.  He confesses to them that he had come upon the boy, found him near death, and unfortunately he had transformed him though it was not an intentional act.

They find the boy in the other farm house, and he has sadly transformed into a vampire.  With Jan and Walden killing him, as his hunger has gone out of control, they soon find the mayor with other men outside the farm house demanding for answers.  The family learns of what has happened to their son and the group seeks the monster than cursed the boy to punish them.

The group confronts the crowd, and thankfully, convinces them to leave them to deal with Olaf for the transgressions.  They exile Olaf for his actions, hoping to at least spare him for having unintentionally caused the problem.  They inform his sister of the events and convince her to abandon the tower for her own safety.  She agrees to leave only after her people choose to leave with her, and burn the tower and the homes to settle the matter with the mayor.

In the end, the group feels they have won a hollow victory.  Olaf is forced to leave.  And his sister finds herself consumed with the anger and hatred of having lost the only one who mattered to her in her family.  The heroes do not realize that she has been set upon a path leading towards becoming a Villain.  Walden destroys the flayed man, thinking it would be best they were not influenced by the terrible thing anymore, but fails to realize with his death, the sister's appetite for blood might now grow unchecked.

The mayor then asks the heroes to accompany him, and they make their way to Heilgrund to be guests of the Eisenfursten Stefan Heilgrund for having helped the people.

*

Thomasin laments the loss of her brother.  And one day while grazing her cow outside, she bears witness to an event that scars her psychologically for the years to come.  The cow comes upon the shears and is affected by its curse, transforming once more into a new Schattenmann that walks away and vanishes into the woods.  She will never speak again.

*

And Olaf, as he leaves, finds a portal opening.  A figure arrives and pulls him away, as he now has a new part to play in the schemes of an unknown mastermind.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...