A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 38

After a relatively uneventful night, we gathered for breakfast to discuss our findings regarding the girls diary. It looked like these were from different periods of history and passed from one little girl to another.

Filing away those bits for the future, we gathered our group together to contact Sawtooth’s gang through a lawyer of Hartam. Interesting fellow Sawtooth. Pure practicality is actually a bit refreshing in this mad city.

With the help of a kobold, we made our way down into the sewers and promptly got lost all sense of direction. Thankfully Sawtooth’s kobold managed to keep us from becoming completely lost. We did come up upon some maneater centipedes and with a giant wave and a pig, we managed to circumvent.

Before we entered the wizard’s lair, we were confronted by a set of shadowy summoned creatures. We managed to bring them down with our sheer numbers without heavy losses. The wizards themselves were evacuating the chamber. There were quite a few of them, although only two were focused on repelling us while the others skittered away or focused on some work there.

We almost died to an empowered lightning bolt that coruscated through us. A giant pit was open in the middle, but between a barrage of arrows, spells, and summons we managed to put both of them down. Cinnamon with that special cloak punched through to smash the crystal. Now we’re here holding three wizards…

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 37

After striking a standoff deal with Nurgle and the Temple of Caillech, we were given safe passage down the road back to the city. I believe Nurgle’s companions ensured that we weren’t troubled through our travel down the hill. After informing the blackcloaks of the situation in the cemetery, we watched them begin to march in and finally help those there. I hope they will be in time to save the University.

We gathered Lady C with us as there seemed to be a wizard plot afoot near the docks. I was a little nervous of our new companion, a sailor skin thief, who traveled with us to the docks. We spoke with a local priest that guarded said docks and uncovered a story about… something that lives in the water. I attempted a ‘seeing’ and then saw what seemed to be a wizard-borne aberration that lay hidden in the waves. A mere tentacle almost killed me in the attempt we regrouped quickly out of it’s reach.

After that, we decided on a course of action to meet with the local gang to see if it was possible to go down into the sewers to pick up the old trail I saw in my vision. That is, after a nice long nap at Byron’s place…

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 36

With Cinnamon and Leo scouting ahead, we happened upon a group of Devlin’s troops. After a great deal of discussion, Byron just flew us over them. I thought we were home free, except we were attack by some kind of dragon-lion creature with Devlin’s troops chasing us beneath.

Cinnamon, Byron, and Leo managed to crash the dragon into the ground among the Devlin troops before we ourselves arced upwards… and then crashed on the road. It wasn’t too terrible, although my hopes to soften our landing into a padded divine cow didn’t work. What is it with Gods and listening to prayers these days?

Afterwards, we managed to avoid conflict as we rushed up the hill to the Temple of Caillech where we were escorted by the “friendly” skin thieves. Watching the struggles of various forces made me feel sick inside, but we have a duty.

Arriving there, we spoke with the head of the skin thieves and many of our numbers seem sympathetic towards the creatures of Maka. I disagreed and Leo and I were very much at each others throats. My position as a pacifist is precarious, but I don’t need it shoved down my throat. I already ask those questions of myself. I don’t need some noble youth using me as the butt of a joke. It made me wonder why I keep the company I do, but I believe that there is a purpose behind our group. I pray. I hope.

So we need to understand this “Voice of Maka” and if there is a way to prevent conflict between ourselves and the skin thieves…

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 35

They said I woke up dancing with knives in each hand. Not exactly normal by any standard. Still, who wouldn’t want to wake up in the Big House with coffee and grease covered food so readily available?

We talked a bit about the vision I saw and we discussed for a bit on what it meant. Then Pimply came out after having beaten up several of his guards. It took a bit to calm him down with the help of Alice although I have reservations about having him with us.

Then Harrik let us know that Cinnamon’s mother was ready to attend to us. You can feel the tension ratchet up in the room and it took some time to get Cinnamon ready to talk with her mother. The conversation started with a slap and things turned strange and awkward.

There was a great deal of bitterness from Cinnamon and I could tell her mother was hurting. Is that bridge too wide to cross? I don’t know. What I do know is that her mother will always be there for her. After that, we began to move to the Graveyard to track down the leader of the skinthieves. Unfortunately the entire district seems to be covered in magical beasts. Whose bright idea was to make all of these creatures?

As we struggled to climb a cliff, we were attacked by a wolf-spider, a bubonic 2/3rds of a cerebrus, an owlbear, and a pack of rats in the span of the same minute. Somehow we managed to escape with minimal injury to any of us.

Leo's View: Mothers and Monsters

Apparently last night everyone dreamed of the music but me. Cinnamon and Varus both sleep-danced into the kitchen and tried to abscond with knives. I’m pleased to have enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep.

Over breakfast of coffee, bacon, and toast, Varus showed us some rambling that he’d written during a vision last night. It was all cryptic like divine communications are, but here are some thoughts on different parts:

You are blinding yourself with expectations.

This is one of those helpful-not-helpful pieces of advice. Jettisoning all expectations would probably not result in sudden clarity, so without knowing what it is specifically that she’s referring to there’s not much we can do other than generally question our assumptions. That’s a little crazy-making.

Danger comes from many sources.

… There’s another helpful-not-helpful.

Trust must sometimes be dictated by faith not action.

Now this starts to get interesting. Are we acting somewhere insteading of turning to faith…?

She has tried direct force twice and been rebuffed; she will be more subtle.

… Which Varus asserts is good, but which means we’ll have to be way more vigilant. ‘She’ being Macha, presumably.

The [UPLIFTED] will seek the call of the Voice to the ends of the world but their quest will shatter their unity. This can be exploited.

Okay, now here’s some seriously helpful information. I’m not sure how we can exploit this divide yet, but we’re on our way to talk with Nirgle, so better start thinking pronto.

The devotees of pain will join them. Nothing but the [ANCIENTS] will stand in their way. all will be wiped from the home of the dead if this is allowed.

I’m guessing that the devotees of pain are new-Devlin’s followers. Alice says that the Ancients might refer to the Fuzuku Butsu, since their name means “Keepers of the Ancient Ways.”. And the Home of the Dead would be the Graveyard District.

“Stand in their way” … does that mean “oppose their advance” or “compound happens to be on their path”, I wonder?

All being wiped from the home of the dead… well now it’s on fire and populated by all of the monster animals that were released from Ebelton College, and probably any surviving strife-Devlin worshippers. We could do without those. But Caillech’s temple isn’t exactly disposable.

The Song cannot be silenced for long but the Hand bears no malice.

This makes sense. Annalise never seemed malicious. If there’s any of her left.

I wonder if she became the Hand before The Builder stuffed a piece of his soul into her, or at that moment, or afterward? I’d guess she was standing there dancing to the song already by the time he got down there.

- So Macha was neutralized by Farsq, presumably at the site of the slagged crater in the Old CIty.

- The Old City somehow magically dropped underground, NOT burning to the ground the way the histories tell it.

- Macha’s influence later (?) attached itself to the elf girl.

- Centuries pass.

- The Builder comes down and sees a golden opportunity….?

Your enemy lies in the lowlands where it can witness fire and dwell in water.

Alright, the Lowlands would be Balsam, and yes, there’s the pillar of flame there, and the river, but what dwells IN the water?

Alice saw something in Pimply’s mind about following sewers down from the Government District to a huge waterfall falling into the Old CIty, where Pimply felt compelled to go back to what sounds like that huge garbage heap we saw. That garbage heap that manifested into a trash-golem.

Do not discount the Broken they are more than they believe. Their aid will be key.

The Broken… The Builder’s cast-aside creations like Jinko and Andrea, and maybe Virginia?

The Sickers or the residents of the convalescents’ home?

Broken pieces of doll toys, like the ones making up that corridor to the Dollmaker’s room?

Scent and Song — you are missing the last of the trifecta.

Neener, I’m the bloody goddess of sight, but I’m not going to tell you.

Hm. Well. Sight is another S-word linked to sensations.
And that creepy little girl was using human eyes in her dolls, and the Builder made those creepy little bone-monkeys chained to Virginia, one of which I think was sight.

That’s wandering into the realm of wild conjecture, though. Alright, fine. At least we know there’s a missing piece from the Macha picture.

And we’re missing two of the three pieces of the Builder’s soul.

And Devlin makes three… does he have a trifectate something-or-other also, I wonder?

[THE BUILDER] glows bright like a meteor falling from heaven or an ember right before it catches flame.

… like the star cult / fire cult, check. Back to Balsam. No surprise that there’s a link between the Builder and these, since he wants to reap the rewards of pain and chaos. Obviously a link between his agenda and Macha/Devlin’s, but it’s unclear who’s pulling the strings.

Change begets change. Violence begets violence.

Pfft. Platitudes. So we should what, lay down our arms and hug it out with the Builder and Devlin and Macha?

Actually. That’d put a stick in their plans for mass chaos and destruction.

Although it seems unlikely that a plan involving sunlight, bunnies and love would actually work in Valenci.

If you cannot end the suffering then I will.

…. That sounds more like Caillech than Aisling. Eerie. I have no idea what this means.

As we were eating breakfast and Varus was poking Cinnamon about Ivrahim — who has apparently gone someplace where he doesn’t need his hair — there was a commotion when Pimply broke out of his room and started accosting guards. Varus calmed him out of it, I distracted him, and Cinnamon grabbed him from behind. Once he snapped out of it, he was really sorry, but Harrik is justified in not feeling safe keeping him around the Big House.

Pimply said that the music was telling to Stop Fighting and Go to His Room, except that his room was “his old room” “downstairs”, which Alice discovered meant that garbage heap, back when he was a small-animal sized skin thief. We’re conjecturing that the divide amongst the Skin Thieves has already begun to fracture and the Macha is trying to call a time-out between her fighting children.

Harrik said that Daleena Mann was waiting and hoping to meet Cinnamon and Varus. This went about as Cinnamon had imagined it, awkward and uncomfortable. Her mother did seem to care about her, but Cinnamon wasn’t in any kind of place to hear it.

I’d initially gauged Daleena as a complete bitch, since when Alice, Byron and I entered the room Cinnamon still had a bright red handprint on her face from being slapped, and Daleena seemed to be having a grand old time messing around with protocol. She was curtseying to everyone left and right with this obnoxious twinkle in her eye. Byron gave her a grand bow — too grand, probably meant to be mocking, but it seemed to roll off of her. I tried court-cant signals and a reserved bow to tell Daleena that her acting out of line wasn’t going unnoticed, and that Cinnamon has friends. She caught and acknowledged those, at least.

By the end of the conversation she’d gained a shred of my sympathy. I don’t blame Cinnamon in the least for hating her — I certainly would in her place. Cinnamon’s pain seemed to genuinely affect Daleena, though. I think she had been making a game at the outset to try to feel in control of the situation, but by the time we left she was barely holding back tears. At that point I was willing to give her an appropriate bow as we departed.

Chip, who hadn’t been around at the start of this, was at least there afterwards to give Cinnamon some Watcher-cat snuggles. Big Brother Chip had been declined as a stand-in cat. (BBC seems freaked out that Everything Is Dark, which seems important coming from a shadow creature, but he’s not able to explain further.)

We decided to try crossing the Graveyard district to try talking with Nirgle, in the hopes of gaining insight into the skin thief schism and finding a way to leverage it to our advantage. Possibly not our brightest idea yet, but Varus was all lit up about it and we don’t have a lot of other actionable leads. I’d have said that talking to the River Walkers or Coughing up Cats down in Balsam might have turned up some information, been less suicidal, and have given us time to figure out what the the hell we plan to say to Nirgle, but fuck, what’s life without a little adrenaline?

Once we crossed into the Graveyard district we didn’t encounter much trouble until we came to a steep cliff. Cinnamon and I climbed up it to tie off a rope. (Note to self: that piratical knife-in-teeth thing — don’t do it while rock climbing.) At the top of the cliff was this mangy-looking pustule-covered two-headed dog.

Varus ‘That Fucking Guy’ Mann decided we were taking too long to tie off the rope and HOLLERED AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS to see if we were okay. Seriously. That fucking guy.

This alerted a Wolf Spider that had been nearby that there was tasty tasty food within easy nibbling distance. As Alice and Varus were climbing the rope and Byron was about to begin, it came out and started scrambling up the cliff, faster than any of our friends could climb.

Not wanting to be attacked from behind by the now-irritable-looking gross dog, I went and killed it while Cinnamon jumped off of the cliff onto the Wolf Spider, knocking it to the ground. While the others climbed the rope, Cinnamon used that FB cloak to fly up instead, and she and I did a one-two feint-push and pushed a charging Owl Bear off the top of the cliff. Everyone else got to the top, shortly after which Alice used a phantom noise spell to keep us from getting gnawed to death by a huge pack of rats.

Some disgusting biting worms got up my sleeve when I killed the dog thing, and Varus says the bites are Worm Pox, that they’re badly infected and that I should get to a Vikon clinic right away. Good thing I’m heading into the middle of the Graveyard district filled with monsters instead, right?

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 34

Thank all the Gods that Caillech could take that body off of us. The plan was to leave the body in the hands of Caillech’s Risen to contain her and possibly destroy the corpse (she’s not alive- it’s just a body). I think Leo managed to convince the skinthieves to give us two weeks to remove the Builder’s influence from her.

After some tense debate and having Leo pick up a piece of the skin that the leader left behind, we managed to make it back to the Government District without being killed by the dissenting skin thieves and the followers of Devlin (they seemed underway in attacking the college).

Across the bridge we gave a summary of what was going on to the masses, somehow managing to not have it explode into political strife. It was oddly satisfying having most of the active participants in the city be involved in the same room without anyone getting assaulted.

Of course we had to have a secondary meeting with the city’s Black Cloaks, where I found out that Leena was part of the secret police all along. I managed to brush past her on our way to the green pillar of fire (after having debriefed everything) and got a sense of who she was. Someone who actually cares about the country? How rare!

Listening at the green pillar, we heard the same voice and confirmed it to be similar to what we heard in the government district. After a long, long day and me babbling about the apocalypse, Leo got me drunk and we finally had a chance to sleep away the night.

Dancing, Dancing,

The Mastiffs took care of the Devlin mercenaries that followed Alice.

Curiously, the Avatar? of Har-Tam was sitting by the edge of the bridge waiting for us. Leo went to talk to her and the rest of us greeted Jinko, who was also waiting on the bridge. The avatar apparently told Leo that one piece of the builders soul which was stored somewhere we were familiar with would be coming very soon. It was then we began to faintly hear music. dancing figures vaguely visible in the trees. The center of their dance then emerged. It was her. Analisse. From below. Only now, not only she could hear the music. And she had a piece of the builder’s soul. Her song was very compelling, and it was twisting things. In a bad way. We tried to talk her out of going anywhere, but she seemed determined. so I called to Varys and told him to deafen her in the wild hope it would work to stop the dance. She dropped like a puppet with cut strings.

We had Jenko take her to the temple of Caillech as fast as he could to get her out of the way. We started to proceed there and were intercepted by Nergal. We had an interesting discussion about the relationship between them and how Annalise was the one through which the voice spoke that told the skin changers how to become and what to do. And how the one who hurts had tried to infect her. And how He had done something about it. We all eventually made our way to the temple where there was much arguing.

I may have to attempt the stupid thing.
I don’t want to, but I can’t ask anyone else to do it. Even if I succeed without becoming one of the Yearning, I will have crossed some line beyond which there is no return.
I must be certain that it is necessary.

Disrupting the hunt.

I am sometimes amazed at our ability to find trouble. We decided we needed to prevent the Devlin influenced mercenaries from doing whatever they were doing by ourselves. Without help. So, we decided to “sneak” through the fens in a not very sneaky way, because we’re terrible at it.

Someone was able to figure something out about their strategy, that they were hunting something, much like a fox hunt on the estate. with a line, and beaters and so forth. when we got close I called on Gelt for assistance and it seemed at first that nothing had happened, and then it was clear that something was in front of their line. something terrible in its destructive beauty. It would reduce things that got too close to their component parts somehow transmuting them to primal essences. It destroyed their line briefly, and slowed them, perhaps giving the quarry a chance.

Alice used this distraction to move ahead of the line, and in the process accidentally attracted the devourer, but managed to escape. again delaying the pursuers. We made it to sight of the main force who was trying to destroy our liaison with Har-Tam. We did what we could to aid her, and fled. In the confusion we lost Alice. I swore that I had the feeling that she was taken by the devouring aspect of Gelt, and I plead with Him to spare her,so that she might do more to free those who need it in the future as she just had here.

We exited the wood, and were greeted by Mastiffs massed, waiting. Alice burst out of the woods! I was most pleased to see her, praise be to Gelt! But she was persued by the minions of Devlin, it seems.

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 33

As we collectively caught our breath, we spotted the woman on the side of the bridge, eyes staring off into the hills. It was the Avatar, somehow still alive after last night’s display. Leo spoke with her and we found out that a piece of the Builder will be coming upon us shortly.

That was when we heard the music and I ran to the wards, beckoning others to follow me. Surely dear readers you’d consider that after last night’s escapades we’d be a little more careful. Of course not. They stood their ground and the music grew louder. When Byron beckoned for me to join them, I double-checked to see Alice countering the song.

I joined them hesitantly before Byron gestured for me to silence the woman. Well, Byron usually only does this for a good reason. Or this was Gelt giving us one last hilariously suicidal nonsense. I gestured and the spell flowed out with a prayer to Benjiro.

The woman halts and then seems to collapse. Checking on her, it seems as if she has been dead for a long time. Afterwards, we attempted to perform some divination only to discover a magical maelstrom swirling around her, making any kind of magic dangerous. We gathered her up and started moving to the Temple of Caillech in hopes of reaching the temple proper. Skin thieves were the ones dancing in the woods and they made themselves apparent.

After hastening Jinko to run with the corpse along with Cinnamon we spoke for a time with the one known as Nurgle. We discovered that they are followers of Makka and their fates are intertwined with those of the dead lady. Now with Nurgle and his skin thieves keeping watch and Korm of Caillech conferring, we needed a plan.

A Short History of Two Kalbs, A Bard, and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 32

Our report to the High Seer was brief, but to the point. Devlin had changed and the death of the High Necromancer had only made things worse. We gave what information we could in the hopes that the High Seer can find more information regarding the situation and perhaps some insights on what we could do next.

Letters. So many letters. While Byron and Cinnamon went to go seek Ivraham, we sent out letters of warning regarding the change in Devlin and to be on guard against him. It took significantly less time with the help of bureaucratic acolytes capable of penning out the basic forms.

When everyone returned. Leo received an animal messenger speaking of a situation happening in the forest near the cemetery. After some argument about the logic regarding that plan, we made our way to the park, stopping to find the bridge wards would hold against the Blue Hounds in case the new not-High Necromancer couldn’t hold them.

Ivraham led our crew into the woods where we managed to avoid an initial confrontation with Devlin’s hunters. After some preliminary scouting, I can only describe Byron’s actions as “chewing on a stick” that caused a horrible transmuter beast to spawn in the midst of the mid ranks of Devlin’s line.

This cause untold death and mayhem, which I suppose was Byron’s intent? When we heard the lines being quickened, we moved to help the Avatar of Hartam with illusions, trickery, and various clever ploys. Alice disappeared in the turmoil as we retreated, attempting to pull back Hartam’s line.

I felt a tingling, a seer’s sense if you will, that Alice was going to do something… brave. I pushed my power to change her fate and a part of the tapestry went dark to me. The rest of us made it to the edge of the woods where dawn was fast approaching. We waited there, hoping that she would return and Alice made it through, disheveled and followed by Devlin’s troops.

We made a quick retreat as the Blue Hounds and Devlin’s corrupted fought one another. We had done what we could for the Avatar of Hartam. I whisper a prayer to Aisling that she is safe and will find us soon.


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