Episode Twenty Eight - Unfinished Business
Episode Twenty Eight – Unfinished Business (Level 13)
*Three months, two weeks have passed since the party traveled into Darius’ mind. They are still unable to reach Professor Jennish by magic. Tobias sends a letter in the pouch, and it vanishes, but there is no return reply.
*Ichtaca finds himself tumbling head over heels in the hungry red-edged blackness of Volgolthyde’s dreaming mind. Inaya flies to him, embracing him and wrapping him in a protective sheathe of psionic magic, and for a time things look desperate as Volgothyde focuses on them, tearing at their life-energies. Then, Ichtaca reaches out with the spirit vines of his soul, pulling them from the blackness into the only other place he can sense here; the dreaming worldfire. Worried they will be trapped here forever, they explore a vast, primordial forest bordering on other types of pristine wilderness. They pass by communing spirits, heroes of Ithachol, singing. Ichtaca approaches a spirit elder, and only succeeds in confusing the man with his questions. Why would he want to leave? This is heaven! There is no way out, nor should their be! The man protests. He and Inaya travel on, meeting a Norlthyn tribesman who is endlessly engaged in hunting and being hunted, the prey rising up again each time, whole and unscarred. He claims to have hunted the black lion himself, and have been killed by him twice now, a glorious thing. Eager to resume that hunt, the young man leads them to Sarnoss himself. Sarnoss speaks with Ichtaca, telling him that the worldfire re-defines the laws of nature in some ways. It spans the dreamworld and the plane of reality, and they have crossed over into it from the dreamworld in their travels. The worldfire was once a man, a primal hero who served him. He thought to protect Vinramar by becoming a great storm, and blanketing the world, but also sought to thwart the gods, whom he despised. The hero’s name is lost, and his sentience has long faded. The worldfire has become as a second, false afterlife, drawing and diverting the souls of animals and men into itself from Sarnoss’s domains in the high realm of Vinramar. Sarnoss, resenting this theft and poaching, came to the worldfire to take them back, and became trapped here himself. He tells Ichtaca that he saw the potential for greatness in him when he was born, and gave him the seed of the power he now wields. He asked him to reclaim the whip of Imbakao, knowing that with this tool, when Ichtaca became strong enough, he could free him from the worldfire. Ichtaca swears to return. Sarnoss opens a pin-prick tear in the worldfire, just large enough for Ichtaca and Inaya to travel through. He cannot leave himself, but he says he will be waiting, devouring the souls that are meant to be his, and taking them into himself in that way. He roars, sending the two spirits flying through space, to pass over the known worlds and eventually collide with Icthaca’s body, onboard the Bone Dragon, moored at the upper edge of the atmosphere of Morvugol. Inaya thanks Ichtaca and leaves to rejoin her brother in the fighting.
*The group, meanwhile, have spent two days resting on the ship, waiting for Ichtaca’s return. Carmenith recovers, and seems bright and cheerful. The goddess Iala went back to the battlefront, but blessed them each with a sacred kiss before she left. Sadhai also left them during these two days, returning from his battles only to pick them up. Sadhai takes the group to Vinramar. He drops Ichtaca off in the town of Cilianthe, with Lyda and Carmenith. Darius and Catzin are left in the vault, where King Enarran has continued to stockpile meteors, and Tobias and Vash are dropped off in the king’s chambers, in his closet.
*Tobias and Vash relocate to a garden near the king’s balcony until well past midnight, when the lights go out. Then, they sneak onto the balcony, knock out two guards, take their clothes, sneak into his room, to find the king and queen sleeping. Both are nude in the warm summer air, so they see that the slim queen is pregnant again, just barely showing, a child conceived perhaps just over three months along. They travel into the king’s mind.
*Ichtaca, meanwhile, finds that Cilianthe has a statue of him, looking some years older, but very heroic. He is greeted with enthusiasm, as a hero. The bard in the tavern sings a rousing song about him. A woman approaches, who is the very likeness of Lyda, only 80 years old. She greets Icthaca by name, kisses him, and introduces herself as Lynna, and claims to have been his lover sixty years ago, after he saved the town from a horrible monster. The legend of his week with them is a part of this town’s history. Icthaca questions his “son”, the innkeeper, while Lyda questions Lynna. They learn that 60 years ago, he arrived under a conjunction of strange stars, a lesser conjunction of the same one that happened 3 months ago. A huge monster attacked the village, which he defeated. He took Lynna as his lover, lingering in the town for a week, at which time the same monster or another like it attacked. He slew it, but it devoured him, and both bodies dissolved into goo. Lynna does not recognize Ichtaca’s other friends, and has no memory of her life before she woke here in the forest, with no idea of who she was beyond the hint of a name. She was about 20. She was taken in by a local family, and has made a life here as a weaver. She introduces Ichtaca and the others to the innkeeper, her son, who looks very much like Ichtaca. She also has half a dozen half-elf grandchildren, and some great-grandchildren, several of whom are named Icthaca. They believe that he has been returned to them by some magic wrought of the recent conjunction of stars, along with this strange “copy” of Lynna.
*Icthaca heads off into the woods with his two companions. They search for two days, but locate both the drow encampment gathering in Vash’s name, and a meteor fragment, in a crater surrounded by about a dozen other ones the size of coins. Carmenith picks one up, and it vanishes into her skin, making her glow brightly and involuntarily for several hours afterwards. She tells Ichtaca that she’s also been feeling a “pull” around magical items. After some experimentation, Ichtaca advises her not to touch anything they value.
*Tobias and Vash, in the king’s mind, leave his active dream and enter his memories, shaping them into a form they can understand and manipulate; a great library. Each book is a memory, and opening it forces the reader to relive the memory in full sensory detail from the viewpoint of the King. After some effort and searching, they are able to find the “books” they seek; memories and ingrained thoughts on the drow, and how they are treated in eladrin culture. They identify several key memories, but finally, they find an early memory of Enarran’s childhood, where he first encountered someone who disliked the way the drow were being treated, an uncle. In the memory, Enarran thought his uncle a fool. Tobias and Vash re-write the memory, changing it so that Enarran was impressed by his uncle, and agreed with him, although he was and has never been brave enough to act out against his culture and express his true feelings in the policies of state. Their goal; to make him remember always secretly regretting the treatment of the drow, a building feeling that is just about to burst loose in his current reign. It works, and memories with emotions founded on this one glow across the shelves lighting up in a cascade effect radiating away from the two men. Tobias checks the memory, and it feels false, the emotions heavy handed. In addition, Vash’s emotions on this subject are strong, and partly taint the memory, and all connected memories. The farther the memories get from the original one they altered, the more forced and broken they become, with logical gaps and a growing feeling of conflicted emotion. In the more recent memories, their changes smack of madness. Tobias goes back to alter the original memory again, but only strengthens the effect. Vash finds a book with the memory of the King realizing Inalenderil is still alive, and making plans to hunt her down and “reclaim” her. He burns the book, then moves on to find another, King Enarran’s memory of the ritual three months ago with Carmenith. After re-living the memory from the King’s perspective, he is enraged. He struggles with the urge to use self-forbidden shadow magic, and finds that when he and Tobias separated out that part of him, made it a physical person in his mind, that that influence began to take on the aspect of a true alternate persona. The personality of Revikoth Kavan attacks Vash’s mind, taking over, and drawing on the King’s shadow to lock this memory of Carmenith into a box. Tobias can hear Enarran’s wretched screaming begin in the real world, as the king wakes in a blaze of agony. The queen is shouting, running to the door, and guards are coming. Tobias grabs Vash by the arm, trying to drag him away from the magic he’s creating, but Vash-Revikoth resists long enough to imbue the box with his sneering laughter. The laughter draws in the aspects of the King’s tortured screams, and what they leave behind in the King’s altered mind is a black, growing construct made of the King’s own shadow. It is a locked box, radiating horrific screaming laughter. Tobias flips the bed against the wall, and the two escape into the night, flying out of range of arrows quickly. They rondevu with Darius and Catzin.
*Meanwhile, Darius and Catzin have been making free of the royal treasury and the vault containing the meteor fragments. The treasury is sadly depleted, as the king has been pouring funds into his armies, stockpiling supplies and preparing for war. They are forced to leave behind far more than they can carry, limited by what they can manage and still sneak out with. They do, however, select a few choice items from the treasury to share with their friends. They are nearly caught as the palace alarms are suddenly raised, but escape to meet up with Tobias and Vash in the town.
*Tobias, Vash, Darius, and Catzin buy horses, relying on clever disguises, lies, memory altering psionics, and Darius’ ability to take on any form to travel southwest towards Ichtaca and avoid guard patrols and unwanted attention. They collect their wanted posters as they go. After two days, they travel off the roads and into the wilderness, finding Ichtaca, Carmenith, and Lyda enjoying a summer camp, hidden not far from the drow encampment.
*Vash and Ictaca head into the drow encampment, where they see hundreds of drow gathered in a growing tent-city, with more arriving every day. The drow have raised scarlet banners with a black dragon, and say they are serving “Amraseth Ildanun”, or the drow Amraseth (the king’s last name). Vash and Icthaca are taken at spear-point to meet the leader, a twisted looking drow warrior, who seems a formidable warrior, despite his deformities and broken face. He claims that he is Vashvari Gahnalende Amraseth, the king of drow, sent to claim the throne from his father. He also tells exaggerated versions of Vash’s deeds, claiming credit for the slaying of dozens of dragons, and for rescuing hundreds of other drow from dangerous situations and oppression. Vash faces him in single combat, leaving him alive but humiliated. Then, using a wanted poster as an illustration, he convinces the drow of the encampment that this man is an impostor, and that they are risking their lives by gathering in force on the king’s lands. IT will be seen as treason, and met with deadly force, he argues. He asks them instead to accept his blessing, disperse, and travel in small groups to the shadow-gate in a wilderness area near the eastern coast of Iluithum. He will come to them, he promises, and help them. Hailing him as their savior, the drow gather for his blessing. As each one comes forward, Vash taps into his past-life’s shadow power again, placing his seal on each of their shadows. It is the mark of Ulmhasa, but with it, he can find them.
*While the others hunt, enjoy the late summer forest, and rest, Tobias spends two days working on converting the meteor into a bracer for Darius. His first attempt results in an explosion, hurting him and his friends and keeping Lyda occupied with healing. Darius produces a second meteor, however, and Tobias succeeds in making it into another pair of bracers.
*The group travel back to the town of Cilianthe, where Tobias questions Lynna, getting her permission to review her memories. In her mind, he relives from her perspective the week of Icthaca’s visit 60 years ago, and tries to determine the nature of her relationship to Lyda, and to the still nameless girl in Trentsmund Darius loved 40 years ago. He feels as if this woman could be Lyda herself, or a twin sister, or some magical copy of her. They seem to share the same soul and spirit, and Lynna has an untrained, undiscovered psionic gift, much like that he felt in Lyda when they first met. She has no memory of her life before she was found in the woods nearby, and does not know Tobias. Hoping that she may somehow be Lyda’s long-gone aunt (the age is about right), Tobias leaves, shaken and disturbed.
*The group travel on horseback across Telgard, avoiding bounty hunters and the guards, returning to Imsund. Disguised and keeping a low profile, they have taken a shared room in a seedy dockside inn called Malthorien’s Eye, and Darius and Catzin have gone out to find them passage to Olsterik, Iluithum.
Ok, everyone level up! Your current XP level is forthcoming, but it’s right around that time.
Each party member received a divine boon from the Goddess Iala’s kiss. This is actually mechanically two boons, “Flickers of Faith” (Level 14, levels up with characters) and “Book of Divine Truths – The Second Book”
Tobias received a valuable collection of maps and astronomic charts from the Traveler.
Darius stole 18 fallen stars, as well as a set of vampiric gauntlets (L16), a greater luckblade (L15), and a ring of forgetful touch
Ichtaca found that his time in the worldfire had enhanced his ability to use his own armor, allowing him to upgrade his hide armor to a set of bloodvine hide armor (L 16)