Episode Fifty One - Ichtaca's Tale - The Sovereign Stag
Episode Fifty One – Ichtaca’s Tale – The Sovereign Stag (Level 18)
Ichtaca – Played by Jared
Owl – Played by Mike
Tayyid – Played by Arick
Zyrr – Played by John
NPC’s – Played by Kristy
*Owl and Zyrr discuss Tayyid briefly, as Owl helps the fevered Zyrr settle down to rest. Lali and Ichtaca share a tender moment that leads them into the tent the children have made for them. Some hours later, when Lali is asleep, a restless Ichtaca emerges to find Owl waiting for him outside the tent, and the two of them walk together around the camp.
*The four adventurers leave Snowball behind to secure the camp and guard Lali and the children, and set off in search of the Sovereign Stag. Their hunt last for days, taking them across a varied lanscape full of dangers and interesting spirits.
*They meet a group of Orcish warriors of Duhulatt, battling some colonial humans, and interrupt the battle enough to gather some information about where to look nest. While gathering food, Tayyid’s curiosity about a giant eagle’s nest leads him into an unfortuntate encounter with a giant eagle, and Owl reluctantly saves him, tempted to let him die, but honoring Ichtaca’s wish that the group work together, and realizing that for now, they need the assassin. The group find other spirits here and there, gathering clues until they have a clear direction to follow, where they think they will find the great Stag and his herd.
*Finally, they come to a place where the landscape has been ruined by the corruption worms, every tree a dead skeleton, and field of grass replaced with inch-deep swarms of teeming black worms. It’s a seething nightmare version of the wilderness. What living plants that remain are corrupted and aberrant, although most are dead.
*The group presses on, and encounters a disoriented group of Jharethil youth, young adults who perished in the Norlythe over the last few decades, all killed on their Marachel journeys. Tayyid recognises more than half of these as ones he’s personally hunted down and killed. Ichtaca is furious to realise how many of these innocents are still being poached in lands he protects, especially since he knows more and more of them are coming there to start their Marachels, thinking the Norlythe a safe place.
*Some of the Jhareth are still lucid, and turn to the famous emperor Ichtaca and his Ixa’hal for help. Most, however, have run mad. The corruption worms came here with the sovereign stag, and although the group has stayed together, those of the Jhareth here who have been fully embodied by the worldfire ecosystem are corrupted. The partially embodied or disembodied spirits are trying to lead them out of the dangerous area, but have become lost, and struggle to keep the mad ones together. Tayyid steps forward, smugly treating spirit after spirit with his medicine, but wtih his face cloaked, so none of them can recognise the man who murdered many of them in the first place. Ichtaca and Owl stare at Tayyid suspiciously, suspecting this, but not completely sure. Zyrr, meanwhile, meets three Jharethil; Ralithe Verlothan, and her cousins Alchin and Remozra Verlothan. All three are also cousins of Carmenith, who set out on their Marachel together in the Norlythe some five years ago, and were killed there. (By Tayyid.) Zyrr is the middle of an admiring crowd of Jharethil youth at once, looking about their age, and being far less intimidating than his famous father. Zyrr has an immediate and strong connection with Ralithe (Rah-LEE-thah), who flirts with him and seems to think his stammering is charming.
*Tayyid gives some of the Jhareth youth (including Ralithe) the impression that he is a well-meaning doctor, perhaps even an angel sent to guide them to their “proper place.” Owl, meanwhile, convinces others not to trust Tayyid, hinting that he is an eitharmos without using that word. (Owl cannot use most proper nouns, and struggles to communicate at times.) Tayyid leads Ralithe off on her own, and convinces her that he is indeed an angel of Jharus, sent to guide them out of the worldfire. He’s just misunderstood by his companions, he tells the naive and gullible young girl. She is happy enough to weep for joy that such a being has been sent to guide the Emperor Ichtaca to assist her and her kindred.
*Once the Jharethil group are treated, and able to travel again, Ichtaca gives them an inspiring speech, and promises to make sure they reach their proper places. He directs them back along the route he and his Ixa’hal just followed. The heroes promise to catch up with them later, and guide them to safety. The group split up to search for tracks, in a landscape where tracking is nearly impossible. Owl, Zyrr, and Ichtaca make good headway over the course of a long and difficult day.
*Tayyid has refined his poisons to cut through the immunities of the corrupted beasts, and has refined his medicinal cure to grant immunity from the disease. Ichtaca and Zyrr take the medicine, but Owl refuses. Tayyid, nervous over his companions attitudes towards him, has given each of the two royals half of a poison, one that will lie dormant until activated by a trigger does of a complimentary poison.
*While the others struggle to find sign of the herd, Tayyid follows the Jharethil instead, fascinated and extremely tempted by Ralithe. Her resemblance to her cousin Carmenith is strong, and Carmenith has long been an obsession of his. He longs for her, fantasizing often about the tortures he has planned for her. He was with Jodram Zabir Ouleithe those two days in Forteth years ago, instructing Zabir in the arts of torture, and taking the lead in it whenever the Oulethe tired. He never got to finish that job, and that is a first. Then she escaped, and most of his unit was killed by her and her friends in Karfallun, injury to insult. He hunted her for a long time, but when Zabir proved a traitor to Daemoth, Tayyid was terribly betrayed. Zabir was his commanding officer, and a man he both admired, and had been personally tutoring in the art of torture. He was there when Vash and Tobias put on the show of Zabir’s treachery. He saw the herald of the eyes. He witnessed the glory of Daemoth and swore loyalty to Viln, fervebtkt converted to the chosen speaker of Daemoth’s will. Gallingly, Viln has forbidden him to harm Carmenith, as she is a “chosen” of Daemoth as well, according to the Chorrom. Now, his desire to re-establish his “intimacy” with her can be sated on a relative who looks much like her. He killed Ralithe and her cousins five years ago, and was wretchedly disappointed when he accidentally killed the two girls before he realized what an opportunity Rallithe presented. He vented his spleen on poor Alchin, but it wasn’t the same. Now, taking her is a terribly compelling temptation. No one would be able to prove it wasn’t some corrupted beast … but Tayyid’s fervent devotion to Viln takes precedence. Ichtaca could be in danger. He eventually stops stalking this prey and heads back to join the others, to bodyguard duties more important than his personal obsession.
*Owl, Zyrr, and Ichtaca meet up, and Zyrr has found the trail, but Tayyid is suspiciously absent. Owl finds Tayyid and stalks him stalking Ralithe, then “finds” him and leads him back to the others. Ichtaca and his son, meanwhile, crouch low in dead brush, looking at a vast, spreading herd of entirely corrupted deer. So corrupted, that their whole bodies are now made of worms and patches of aberrant flesh. Nothing natural remains, and their “grazing” is a sickening ingestion and re-vomiting of the worms that carpet every surface of this ruined land. They see the huge antlers of the sovereign stag, and the erratic, unnatural movements of the herds present an opportunity that cannot be passed up. The two hunters are forced to move before the others catch up.
*A terrible battle ensues. The great stag and his minions are rabid, and spew deadly streams of corruption and aberrant magic, even as they try to devour the pair of humans. Ichtaca and Zyrr come close to death, staying close together and working hard. Tayyid and Owl arrive, not to turn the tide, it seems, but rather to die here as well. Things start to come around their way, the aggressive herd members taken down, and the rest too mad to care. With the great Stag isolated, Ichtaca and Owl beat him down, while Tayyid and Zyrr clear a perimeter around them from the deadly lesser deer. Then Ichtaca is swallowed by the great Stag, and battling him from the inside, immune to the worms corruption now. Zyrr cannot see how well Ichtaca is doing, and unleashes hell to get his father out. He invokes fate again, this time to great effect, supercharging his erupting fire spell and leaping atop the stag to slice it in half with twin blades of fire. The supercharged fire spell, coinciding with the death of the spirit who began the plague of worms, causes a chain reaction. A ring of fire sweeps out from Zyrr, charring worms in the area and clearing it, as the corruption worms wither and die throughout the worldfire. Zyrr’s companions are also burned, but the battle is won.
*The spirit of Mazati, the Soveriegn Stag, rises up, thanking them for freeing him from the madness of corruption, but unapologetic and angry at Ichtaca for “forcing” him to make such a desperate deal with Wroth in the first place. He explains that when Ichtaca failed to return to the worldfire and free Sarnoss, he made a bargain with Wroth. He asked for a way to protect all life on Vinramar from the aberrant monsters outside, and for a way to force Ichtaca to come here, so that the hero could open the worldfire. Wroth, knowing Ichtaca woudl be coming soon to finish his quest anyway, slyly granted both wishes. He tricked Ichtaca into agreeing to the abduction of his own children, forcing him to come now to save them. Then he infected Mazati with the corruption worms. Most of the Aberrant creatures swarming in the darkplane around Vinramar will not harm any life form corrupted by the worms, because it will either be already dead, or made into an aberrant monstrosity. Mazati was driven mad, spreading the corruption as fast as he could, to save all life. Meanwhile, Sarnoss was devouring the life of the worldfire, seeking his own way out. Mazati dissipates, going to gather spirits together to converge on the great hunt. Ichtaca is about to tear this place wide open, and a great gathering of souls is about to commence.
*The four adventurers catch up with the Jharethil youth, and make their camp with them for the first night of a long journey back to Lali, the children, and the Great Hunt.