Episode Twenty - Always Falling Temple
Episode Twenty – Always Falling Temple (Level 10)
Tuoch comes back from scouting, bloody and frozen, and collapses. Vash rushes to treat him, stabilizing the mimessarch, but can’t get any coherent information from the man. Ictaca, communing with the spirits, feels great danger approaching, and rushes to warn the others, and they hear a great roar from outside the cabin, where Cátzin now stands facing off with a huge black dragon.
The dragon has finished off the bonewalkers and followed Tuoch, and she now confronts the group outside the cabin. demanding that the group turn both him and the meteor over to her. Darius tried to reason with the dragon, but when he refused to turn over Tuoch, she attacked, and they killed her. Icthaca speaks with Tuoch, counselling him to be wiser and not wander too far alone.
They travel towards the Xamani waterfalls, stopping at Anamiqui, a sacred spring. There, they fight a huge bonewalker, and are joined in the fight by a strange being made of sticks and leaves. She introduces herself as Chamanaltia, and invites them into the cave above the springs. There they meet Nenetle, an old wise blind woman and a shaman, and a woman Ictaca met as a child when his tribe visited the springs. She greets Ictaca warmly. Nenetle explains that Chamanaltia was her niece, whom she failed to save from the Nemelethe. She was able to resurrect her soul into this wood-golem body, however. Chamanaltia has no memory of her former life, and has been alive for 3 months.
Nenetle treats the group’s wounds, but cannot heal Carmenith, and warns the group that they have barely 3 days before she dies. They tell her where they are headed, and offers her niece to the party as a guide, if they will take her with them for a time longer when they arrive, so she can see some of the world.
They press on through the supernatural blizzard, and Chamanaltia helps them find a moss they need for the Nemelethe cure along the way. In two days they reach Camihac, a village about 25 miles north of the falls.
The sound of singing rises up, and they find that the villagers are in the midst of a celebration, honoring the arrival of a wandering tribe they see every few years. It’s the Maquetl tribe, Ictaca’s people. They have heard of some of Ictaca’s exploits, and welcome him as a returning hero. Imha, the tribes spirit elder, is preparing for a great week-long ritual that will return the raging primal energies in the valley to the worldfire, abating the storm and ending the menace of the bonewalkers.
Tanume, the chief, and Ictaca’s step-father, greets him with grim news. His mother, Mita Ollin, left the tribe three weeks ago in the company of a strange cloaked man, and he believes she was taken by force, despite the rumors. He shares news with Ictaca from the Norlythe, telling him that the Nemelethe is sweeping across the lands, and emperor Icarasl has fallen ill. The emperor’s children are jockeying for position and favor among the people, anticipating that when he eventually passes, the most loved blood descendant will be chosen as the new emperor. Also, vampires have been seen across the Norlythe, and the tribe has had a few encounters with them on their wanderings. Tanume asks Ictaca to find Mita and return her to him, and also tells him it is long past time he declared himself as blood of the emperor and a potential heir. Ictaca agrees to find his mother, but refuses to abandon his friends and go to Maricualatan afterwards, not even to join the politicking for the future crown. He assures his stepfather that it is not yet the time for that.
Ichtaca is also greeted by a pair of girls he knows well, sisters with whom he was involved as a teen. They are fickle girls, who scorned him before he left, but are now very interested in his apparent wealth and heroic status. Catzin walks away in disgust. Ictaca, disinterested in his former lovers, plays them against each other, then coaches Darius culturally on creating the form of an unknown, but irresistable Norlythin man. In his attractive new guise, Darius quickly wins over the sisters, retiring to their tent to enjoy their company.
Meanwhile, Ictaca is honored with a man’s name in a brief ceremony. The party rests shortly in the village, then presses on, hoping to reach psionic help before Carmenith dies.
Beyond Camihac is wild land, and at least half a day of hard travel along narrow, steep trails to reach the temple Tobias believes will the there. After some backtracking and searching, they finally find the secret temple. Always falling temple is carved into the face of a cliff above a series of magnificent waterfalls, above a village also carved directly into the rock. The village is a small, self-sustaining community of mimessarchs, mostly monks of the silver hand who have become tainted as they travel the world battling aberrant life.
Ictaca, Darius, Chamanaltia, and Tucoh explore the mimessarch village and the temple, while Vash and Tobias carry Carmenith to the healers. Ictaca and Darius talk to various retired mimessarch monks, then meet a psion who answers their questions about how a divine leader like Chorrom Dythan Mathis could have become a psionic ghost. She tells them that she has heard of such powerful immortal beings being created by a bloody ritual using aberrant magic. Such a thing would involve massive wealth, the sacrifice of many innocents, and the slaughter of several powerful psionic persons, who would have had their souls and power ripped from them and given to the person being immortalized. Ictaca realizes this is what Exarch Mezeliar Wroth was offering to the mob boss Motharlech Souliaydach before Vash stole the gems from him.
Chamanaltia seeks out information on the Nemelethe, finding a retired mimessarch healer who tells her varied conspiracy theories about vampires, heathfolk, and other connections he sees to the disease. He claims to have treated many patients, and often seen vampires lurking nearby, watching patients like experimental subjects. He also believes the disease was crafted intentionally by someone for some specific, mysterious purpose. Everywhere Chamanaltia goes, a mimessarch follows her, stealing her sticks, until her body is reduced to the size of a child. Darius intervenes, stopping the man from stealing more.
Meanwhile, as the healers work over Carmenith, Catzin comes in, waiting for a healer, then asking if psionic magic can cure her vampirism. They cannot help her, and Vash can see her distress and hunger. He takes her aside and offers her his blood. She is grateful and relieved, but surprised by this kindness. When she bites his neck, he can tell that she is revolted by her condition.
Seeing that the healers are doing all they can, Tobias meets with Master Jenmai and several other psions, discussing how to enter the mirrorscape. The psions go over various approaches. Orrand Gaith, an arrogant psion, presents ideas that Tobias realizes could get them directly into Lyda’s prison, but could also shatter it and kill her in the process. He presses for a better route, they argue, and Orrand stalks out of the meeting, fuming over his wounded pride.
The healers approach Vash, informing him that Carmenith can be saved, but it will be a risky procedure and that she will be weak for a long time. He asks if it would help if he gives them some of his own soul to fill in the gaps. The healers are surprised by this suggestion, excited by the possibilities of such an attempt. They think it wise to only take a little, perhaps from several people. Vash speaks to the others, and Tobias, Ictaca, Darius, Catzin, and Tuoch all agree to help as soon as the healers are ready to begin.
Darius asks Master Jenmai about secret organizations, and is surprised to learn that the mimessarch monk has encountered at least two in his travels; the Yáloin and one other, the Starborn, a group of warlocks which bear a startling resemblance to the men that slaughtered Darius’s family years ago in Trentsmund. Jenmai takes Darius to a vault beneath the temple, where he shows him a pact-stone he took from one of the Starborn before he killed him. He knows little of the order’s motives, numbers, or organization, but he tells Darius that they seem to travel in the darkplane by means of pacts made with aberrant entities there.
Darius goes to find a psion now, hoping to find a way to look in on Lyda in her mirror prison. He finds the resentful Orrand Gaith, who gladly violates Tobias’s privacy. He takes Darius to a room near where Tobias is debating with Jenmai on how to save Lyda, setts up a mirror, and uses the overflow of Tobias’s emotions to open a link to the mirror scape. Darius then has an emotional encounter with Lyda, who, once she realizes he is a friend of Tobias’s trying to help her, treats him with empathy and compassion. He is struck again by her stunning resemblance to the girl he once loved, and is able to establish through their limited conversation that she is perhaps a cousin of that girl.
Tuoch, meanwhile, gives his meteor to Master Jenmai, who assures him that he can not only shield it’s energies to prevent it attracting attention, but will make it into arm-bands for him. Jenmai gives Tobias the ritual, allowing him to deal with any further fallen stars they acquire.
The group gathers around Carmenith now, each touching her as the healers establish links, channeling energy from them and into the dying woman. When the ardent healer reaches Darius, he looks up, confused. He informs him that he can donate life-energy from his soul, but that he has no immortal spirit. Darius is troubled and confused, but still wants to participate. The healers channel spiritual energies from each friend, and Carmenith is brought back from the brink of death. In a few days, the healers assure the group, she will be as good as new.
Darius confesses to Tobias that he has spoken to Lyda, and the two have a tense conversation, including Darius’s past, and Lyda’s resemblance to the girl he lost. Tobias, fearing some supernatural connection he doesn’t understand, that he may lose her to this man, is relieved to hear Darius’s logical theory that the girl may be Lyda’s cousin, so relieved that he forgives Darius’s impropriety immediately. The two men rejoin the group, who are discussing the possible origins of the Nemelethe.
Ictaca’s primal ritual to make it safe for the party to rest there: 50 xp
Tuoch’s Dragon encounter (story mode): 600 xp
Sacred Springs combat encounter (story mode): 600 xp
Roleplay with Nenetle and Chamanaltia: 100 xp
Accepting Chamanaltia into the party: 100 xp
Finding the temple skill challenge: 3,000
Quest – Finding the moss: 200 xp
Roleplay with Ictaca’s tribe: 200 xp
Darius impressing the twins: 50 xp
Ictaca’s name ceremony: 50 xp
Tobias’s skill challenge to keep Carmenith alive: 1,200
Quest – Getting Carmenith to the temple in time to save her: 200 xp
Exploring Always Falling and the village below: 50 xp
Chamanaltia learning about the Nemelethe: 50 xp
Ictaca and Darius gathering information about Mathis and the ritual: 50 xp
Darius defending Chamanaltia from the stick-theif: 50 xp
Vash examining the drinking blade: 50 xp
Darius learning about the Starborn: 50 xp
Vash offering Cátzin his blood: 50 xp
Tobias and Darius mirror confrontation: 100 xp
Vash and Tobias letter roleplay: 50 xp
Soul Transfusion / Saving Carmenith: 200 xp
Amazing Inter-party roleplay all throughout: 200 xp
Total XP is 7,250, divided by 5 pc’s, is 1,450 each. Previous cumulative individual total was 24,586, and is now 26,036. (Level 11! Welcome to Paragon Tier!)
Tuoch’s meteor is being made into a pair of bracers, which he will have in a day or two. (diamond bracers level 9)
Tobias gained two custom rituals, one in the letter he Received from Jennish (for exploring dangerous places), and one from Jenmai (for shielding meteors and converting them into magic items).