Monday, 5 January 2015
Runequest solo 2 - part XI, The sign in the heavens
Setup: kill time in Hasharu
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza / death rune cult
5. The Evil Jeweller
1. find a certain sage
[Back to the Cities tables. Lachaidiga first needs to deduct 80sp for room & board for the end of week 3.
Week 4: no events.
Lachaidiga pays 200sp for Level 5 companionship for both herself and Wihiyaba. She at first tried to coax the jeweller out for the evening, but he is still recovering from his captivity. She's quite bored, however, and manages to drag Wihiyaba out. Her tastes are a bit too posh for him, or else she'd have gone for Level 6 (300sp each) again. Perhaps this is best for her purse. She does spend another 20sp to send the jeweller a basket of fruit and cheese to speed his recovery.
Week 5: no events, but I rolled a 1 on the d6: the time is right. so...]
Since receiving the grimoire, Lachaidiga has done her best to study it, but her increasing boredom with Hasharu and her aggravation at not being admitted to the temple of Ishq-Ihar has made concentration difficult. She's tried going twice a day, every other day, even waiting a whole hour on their doorstep, but the much vaunted Time never seems to be Right. With a groan of frustration she tosses aside the scroll she has been reading, or at least at which she has been blankly staring. The ancient papyrus lands with a crackle, and pieces flake off the edge onto the tablecloth. She gasps at the realisation of what she has just done, take the scroll and kisses the damaged edge gently, promising never to be so unappreciative again. She also make a mental not that learning the charm of Mending should be one of her more immediate priorities.
"Maybe I should get out for a while," she says to herself. "Perhaps if I bought some nicely scented candles, I could study these scrolls after dark, when the heat of this tiresome city isn't so overwhelming." She hunts through her strongbox for some copper coins, and heads purposefully to the market.
As she is admiring a bolt of fine mauve silk, a shadow comes over her. She pays it no notice at first, but then the murmuring of the crowd begins to change. Some screams pierce the air, and the merchant who had been singing the praises of his fine textiles suddenly trails off. She looks around to see a darkness spreading over the market place, over the whole city. A shadow is slowly moving over the face of the sun, blotting out its light. Many fingers are pointing skyward, many voices are praying for deliverance, whilst Lachaidiga has but one thought: the sign!
[Q: Is there general panic? Likely: 32, Yes.
Lachaidiga will need an Athletics (19%) check to make it through the crowd: 82, failure - resulting in 1d8 damage to a random location: she take 1 point to the Right Leg.
Now she needs a Brawn (21%) roll to push through or she'll take more damage: 04, success.]
Lachaidiga leaves her parcel of candles, sweetmeats, a new handkerchief, and cut glass baubles forgotten on the ground as she rushes out of the market -- or tries to. Panic has gripped the crowd and people are running every which way, shrieking and crying, and none mindful of their neighbour. She is nearly swept away amidst the stampeding marketers, falling once or twice but managing to regain her feet before being trampled. She is forced to rudely elbow her way into a side street. Once free, she sprints across the city to the silent temple, driven by her purpose.
Setup: meet the sage
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza / death rune cult
5. The Evil Jeweller
1. find a certain sage
Running through the dark streets, aided of course by her magic, Lachaidiga arrives swiftly at the temple of Ishq-Ihar. She is torn between pausing at the entrance to the alleyway to catch her breath, or going right up to the door. She neither wishes to appear absurd nor arouse their ire with a delay, but when she senses that the door stands open at the end of the dark passage, she knows that she must enter at once.
A monk is waiting inside in the dimly-lit outer sanctum, the same one with whom she has always spoken, the same one who always turns her away. "I got your message," gasps the sorceress, bent nearly double as she hangs on to the door post.
"We did nothing but wait in silence," responds the monk, "The sign had been foretold. That is all. Now compose yourself, for the first of us would speak with you, and whilst your zeal in coming immediately upon witnessing the omen is to be commended, it is best that you enter the sanctum in a state of reflection and serenity."
Lachaidiga says nothing whilst she steadies herself, trying to breathe slowly and evenly, and fighting against her own curiosity and impatience. It takes a supreme effort of will[-power (79%)] to wait in the doorway under the irritatingly impassive gaze of the monk, but she thinks back to her years of study at the college and regulates her thoughts and attention as if preparing to work a great spell.
At length she appears to have recovered for her exertions. "I am calm now," she lies. "I believe 'it is time'."
Lachaidiga thinks she sees the faintest trace of a smirk pass the monk's lips as he turns and silently motions for her to follow. He leads her to a bare wall at the back of the sanctuary, between two idols. He pauses before it. Lachaidiga does the same, aping his every movement in an effort not to do the wrong thing. She cannot help but think that she is still being tested, and must remain on her guard.
As they stare at the rough grey stone, it begins to move, seeming to become almost liquid, draining away like a melting candle. Beyond is a long, marble-floored hypostyle hall with a stepped altar at the far end. Bronze tripods fill the room with a sharp incense; Lachaidiga's nose wrinkles involuntarily with the strong odour. Man-sized, conical candles provide what little light illuminates the scene. Ahead in a pool of darkness, a lone monk sits upon the altar under the glowering image of the Lord of Silence. Lachaidiga cannot see him, nor indeed the great basalt idol behind him, but through her magic she is aware of their presence.
Lachaidiga steps forward into the sanctuary. The monk does not follow. She feels a sudden change in the air, and knows that the wall behind her is solid once again. She does not look back, but proceeds steadily toward the altar. Candles flare into life around the motionless figure as she draws near. The man is very small in stature, and dressed in the same habit as the other monks Lachaidiga has seen in the temple. His face is covered in an intricate pattern of tattoos. She has heard tell that a race of painted men live far, far to the east, across the trackless wastes, but she had never considered that one day she should meet one.
"Sit," he says quietly in the ophidian tongue. Lachaidiga kneels in a gesture of respect as she was taught to do at the sorcerers' college, then thinks better of it and sits across from the monk on the marble floor. She feels his eyes -- and moreover the eyes of the idol behind him -- examining her with more than mundane attention. She mimics the monk's posture, sitting cross legged with hands folded in an attitude of prayer or meditation, and bravely meets his gaze. She is desperate to speak, but dares not.
"You are Lachaidiga," says the painted man, again in flawless Ophidian, "moon-daughter and sorceress. You bear a message from Hhsasv: 'The old one stirs in the darkness below the Crescent. You must seek audience, that she render up her dream'."
"Y--yes," she responds, "but... how can... if you already know the message, why was I sent?"
"The message," says the painted man, "is not for me, but for you. It is you who must go to the ruins of the Crescent, you who must seek audience with the Old One who sleeps in the darkness below. You must report to us her dream."
"I have turned this message over and over in my head, wondering first if within it lay clues to finding you, and then later if perhaps it would tell me when the time for our meeting was ripe. I am afraid I still do not understand it, even with this new revelation."
"Your master," says the painted man, "like most of his kind, is a seeker after ancient knowledge. His especial subject of enquiry is very old indeed, for it concerns the origins of things that were ancient even before the cataclysm. He has, perhaps, told you of this?"
"He has made no secret of it, but has said little to me directly."
"You are young. Perhaps he feels you are not yet ready to understand."
Lachaidiga is about to interject, but bites her lip to avoid an outburst.
"Do you know why you were chosen as his student?" continues the painted man.
"No. All those born in Anzakàr who have the talent for magic are brought to the colleges. Since the serpentfolk care little for our social hierarchy, the masters choose students based on aptitude and merit. I know I was one of the choice students from my raw ability, but my schoolmates used to tease me that my teacher must have offended the other masters somehow to get stuck with that prissy little c-- well, with the cruel thing they called me."
"Your birth was attended by signs, was it not? Your eyes bear the mark of a goddess, is it not so? How then could you fail to see why you were chosen?"
"If the Crescent to which the message refers is the ruins of the great Moon Temple, then I suppose the connexion is obvious. But as to the rest..." Lachaidiga's voice trails off expectantly, but the monk does not complete her sentence, as she had hoped. He continues to stare at her, his face a mask of whorled lines and impassivity. She waits and waits, and the realisation that the monk will not talk until she has arrived at the answer, rather than goading her to solve the problem, rather pushes all other thoughts from her mind. She has always hated these exercises in mysticism, much to the consternation of her teachers and the delight of her classmates who were always jealous of her facility with the practical aspects of spell weaving. Even her sweet Nillath used to tease her gently when she complained of it, saying that she was destined not to become a wise old sorceress, but a mad one. But this is certainly not what she should be pondering now. Flustered at her inability to respond, she gives voice to her confusion, hoping it will provoke the monk into a response. "I have consulted with a prophetess. Not even she can tell me the meaning of these portents, and says I'm particularly resistant to prophecy besides."
"Hhsasv had appraised me of your lack of clarity, and insisted that it be no impediment to your performance of the task that has been set for you."
"I can assure you that it will not. I came to find you and was told I must await the right time. I did so, and saw the sign. I have learnt the lesson--"
"You have learnt nothing," interjects the monk. "Your impatience and inability to trust in the judgement of others do you no credit. It was quite a commotion you caused in our order, applying to the Speaking Brother so often as to make your self a true nuisance to the serenity of the temple. More than a few of the aspirants were found to treat your coming as a game for their amusement, and put aside the Teachings of Holy Silence to laugh and joke like unruly children. And all the while you came, and came, and came again, a drop of water to wear away our stone. Nor did any reflection on your part reveal the truth of your task. Hhsasv and I have been in communion for some time. We had felt a change coming, a movement of ancient and hidden powers. The first stirrings he saw by observing the heavens and reading the signs writ on the face of the Moon. It was he who traced the moon's path through the heavens, who knew the time was drawing near to send you, moon-daughter, to seek the interview with the dreamer. And, being overly given to sentiment, he still feels you are under his tutelage. You had troubles in Anzakàr, and he wished to see the burden lifted. So he sent you here to await the coming of the eclipse, that you might be free to prepare for the task at hand, and that you might learn to stand on your own. There is much you must yet do to prepare, moon-daughter. But I see you do not yet understand. Come, seat yourself closer to this censer. Think deeply on the lessons you have received, and contemplate the task ahead of you. May the Lord of Silence bless your meditation with his understanding."
Lachaidiga does as she is bid. She wraps her garments more closely about her, against the cold of the dark hall. She sits next to the smoking censer on the marble step, trying not to fidget overmuch as she makes herself comfortable. She breathes deeply of the bitter smoke and clears her mind of all distracting thoughts, concentrating solely on the stone image of Ishq-ihar she can feel gazing down at her from atop the altar. After a few moments of discipline, reflection, and solid determination, a profound sense of peace washes over the sorceress, who falls quite asleep.