I think I’ve got a plan as far as scrying devices go… I can tie a standard crystal ball into some small, cheap tokens. I’ll pass them out among scouting parties; I don’t want anyone engaging with any more manifestations of Mara without my at least knowing about it. The crystal ball will be the most expensive part, it’s 21000 gold, but the tokens should be cheap enough, say 250. I have enough money saved up that I can make the central crystal ball, and 40 tokens, so we’re not going to run out.
Ceor received a couple of messages from free companies in Trombei and Triolo, wanting to negotiate battles for the campaign season; I can’t bring myself to care, but I suppose it’s only polite. The group from Triolo seems to be made mostly of minotaur infantry, we’ll let the aasimaar’s company of Summer Knights handle them. The company from Triolo is more mixed, magic and infantry. The tieflings can probably handle them.
…The aasimaar leader is entirely too full of himself. I like the tiefling much better. I hope he doesn’t get himself killed.
The fact that Triolo and Trombei got messengers to us first probably means that Friula and Savoyne aren’t taking us at all seriously… I think I’m okay with that. Kammae probably won’t be involved at all this season… something about the ongoing magical apocalypse.
I did get a message from the wizards in Trombei saying that they’d keep an eye out. I don’t think they’re taking me seriously just yet, but a long as they let me know when something inevitably crops up I don’t care.
We also got a message from Valera saying they weren’t going to send a company at us this year… which is probably for the best. Also a message from Goasta Cliffs that while it did not sound incredibly urgent, it did request some priests.
Because of course.
We’ll send the priests, but the last time we sent someone to handle a problem, shit happened. So we’ll go with. We took a handful of assorted priests from the different temples… generally wide-eyed, eager apprentices just thrilled to go on a holy mission. We’ll have Ceor train them in some combat. And by train, we mean demonstrate how much they don’t know. (Granted, the priest of Hecate probably knows to stay away from sharp objects, and the priest of Mavros ought to know what he’s doing too.)
One of the nights that we stopped, I noticed a comet in the sky, tinged a little violet. I know that comets are generally harbringers of war… but it’s the start of the campaign season. Reeshka, however, said that the last (and only other) violet comet seen on Midgard, it was associated with the greatest magical catastrophe that had ever happened. When the elves withdrew and the Mage Kingdoms started to turn on each other.
Fuck my life.
At least we made it to Goasta Cliffs without real incident. Apparently, ever since the incident at the temple of Mavros a few months ago, they’d had trouble keeping priests. And they were building a new temple of Mavros, but it was necessarily a long and expensive process, and while the original one is still standing, it’s an… uncomfortable place. So we probably ought to do something about this.
Between Ceor and myself, we got the general picture. When people go in, it feels like someone is staring at them or breathing down their neck, and generally weird things happen. Lights at night, strange sounds. It’s all very strange. One person even insisted that she heard chains rattling when she passed.
I guess we’re staying the night in the temple. The locals made symbols against the evil eye… which is only to be expected, I suppose.
We cleaned it out last time, so there’s definitely some familiarity. We settled down to camp. At about midnight, we heard some sort of scraping sound, near the altar. I couldn’t see it, though, like the edges of my vision were cloudy. The light on Reeshka’s staff was getting brighter, with a bluish tinge. My staff also started to glow oddly; there are always firey lines on it, but now they seemed like molten metal. It seems to be indicating a strange and abnormal level of power.
Reeshka said that the scraping seemed to be coming from under the altar, and sounded like something digging… she scraped the ground and got a response. She sounded it very unefficient, like they were just scraping the stone rather than properly digging.
It’s a pretty standard layout, so we went down into the crypt to see what we could see. The doors to the crypt were stuck, naturally. Ceor tried brute force, but they were really stuck. So he tried again, this time with feeling… to the same result. He said that touching the handle made his teeth hurt, like he was too close to lightning magic, which stopped as soon as he let go. It was a massive door, and I’m pretty sure that there’s metal in it that prevents me from sensing magic on the other side.
Most temples are built to keep things in the vault if they wake up… I can’t tell if the manifestations are tied to whatever is trapped in there, or if it’s tied to what happened here. Ceor decided that either way, his sword should be out. When he drew it, it was covered in flickering blue and white runes… Ceor said it was a hymn to the god of portals, something about opening all the ways.
I’m pretty sure that I never saw this sword in the tower of Rava… which is even weirder than her having a blind spot for Mara, because everyone seems to recognize this fucking sword.
As we were debating, we heard a moan that sounded very much like a zombie, but Reeshka said it was just over-stressed rock. She said that the sound of rattling chains was also produced by metal-reinforced stone shifting slightly. Natural phenomena… but they should have noticed it before, if that’s all it was, and they’re not the sort of sounds you can hear from outside.
Ceor cautiously applied his sword to the door, and something- odd… happened. I wasn’t sure what. I asked him to do it again, and this time I saw a symbol on the door, and it seemed to try to draw something off Reeshka. I saw something that looked like really old symbols. There’s nothing of much importance that’s supposed to be here now… but in a previous incarnation of the world, it was a place of power, where the gods would meet. It’s sealed with god-like power too…
Naturally, as soon as I explained it, Reeshka channeled more power into it. Brilliant silver runes flared up and the door was covered with silver lines. The door opened. Instead of a crypt, there was a smooth room of worked stone. It wasn’t built, it was carved out of solid stone. As soon as we crossed the threshold, it felt like a tingle went all over all of us, and our weapons returned to normal. It was notable that the ceiling of the room was much higher than it should have been, accounting for the temple above…
Reeshka said that she could see all the way across the room, which I suppose is not the weirdest thing about today.
We could still hear the scraping, so we followed it. About twenty feet into the room, gold and silver runes lit up, illuminating the room well. They weren’t in any language I know which is… impressive. And unsettling. We kept going, and the corridor seemed longer than it should have been. Though eventually we got to an archway, carved with pictures of heroes fighting all kinds of horrible monsters. Reeshka said it smelled like it was carved out of marble, but upon licking it, said it wasn’t.
As soon as Reeshka stepped through the arch, silver lines of power went across the floor in what looked like some sort of array… sealing something in and keeping things out. There was an enormous sarcophagus in the center.
This is probably the most comprehensive magical seal I’ve ever seen. There should be no way that anything should be able to get in or out. At all. This whole room was designed to make sure that absolutely nothing, divine or arcane, should be able to get in or out of this room. This whole room is one giant ward, so powerful that even screwing around with the Fulcrum of Fate might not change it.
Reeshka was able to enter the chamber without an issue, and apparently had no problem with her magic. Though when she tested it, her staff flared brighter. Ceor then entered, again without issue. When I went in, my staff brightened somewhat, but nothing else changed.
Gods were involved in creating this. This is something on the same level of the protections holding Nethus in Kammae, though nothing so crude as humans having to fashion wards and move leylines. This is much simpler.
There are two possibilities I can think of. Either this is the god of portals, whom the gods did something to lock away… or this is something to do with Mara. Which would be about par for the course.
The only way to know is to open the damn thing, of course.
When Ceor got closer, his sword started buzzing in the sheath. He elected to try pushing it first. He pushed it with more force than a human should rightfully be able to produce, revealing that the lid was a solid piece, and a silver mist spilled out a bit. However, he only managed to lift it by half an inch, before it settled again.
He touched it with his sword, and fracture lines spread out through the energy lines of the wards. Reeshka had climbed up on Ceor to see the top, and said that it had a humanoid figure carved on the lid, with chains. His hands were clenched in a pose that suggested that he should be holding something, but he wasn’t, and his hands were solid, with no place to slide anything.
For a lack of any better ideas, I suggested placing the sword on top of it in the proper position. It sank through the stone with a click, and the wards really started to fracture. Most of the runes went out, and the sarcophagus lid scraped as it came loose.
Ceor was able to push it off with no issue, and his sword clattered loose, though he recovered it quickly. The figure was missing from the slab, and when we looked in side, we saw the duplicate in the sarcophagus, apparently asleep. Ceor said it was the duplicate of the old man who’d given him the symbol of Karahome…
Well, I don’t think anything earth-shatteringly bad will happen because of this, except if the gods get pissed at us… and they probably are already anyway.
What the hell.
Because it is us and we never do anything normal, Ceor then proceeded to poke him and try to wake him up. He was still shackled, and had been for a long time… even for a god it looked a little ragged. There were no locks to pick, but Ceor touched his sword to one of them, and it immediately rusted away into a silvery powder.
That did it. The figure opened his eyes and smiled at Ceor. After some general conversation (and a few pastries), he asked how we found him. Reeshka mentioned that we’d heard the scratching, but he just looked puzzled. Then Ceor said he’d caught a glimpse of the glowing dog he’d seen before….
Well, that’s interesting.
And judging by his reaction, he had no idea either. Though it didn’t look like we’d have any trouble getting out… though it took us longer to get out than it did to get in. So far, everything we’ve seen suggest that Ceor’s ‘shiny puppy’ is similar to things from the Outer Dark, in that it doesn’t respect physical reality… though with a different polarity.
Reeshka asked why the other gods had sealed him away, and he said it was because they hadn’t appreciated his part in exiling Mara to the Outer Dark. He opened the way to the Outer Darkness… but when you do that, there’s nothing to close. A handful of gods had cooperated, but other gods thought they could have handled Mara and objected strongly.
But as Karahome said, when something is from the end of time, she already knows everything about those who come before her…
He also said that the sword had wandered up and down time… but that Ceor’s father had made it. I think I’ve gone crosseyed…
He was surprised that Miaako wasn’t with us; apparently, Mnemosyne had predicted that four of us would come.
When we reached the end, he made the comment that when he left this place, all the changes that should have happened to him in the different incarnations would hit all at once. There’s not much way around it, that I could see… but he had other plans.
He shrank down to our size, and then gathered us around him. He touched all of us, and said that he didn’t want to know what would happen if he left, and that considering what else Mnemosyne had said to him, this was as good a way to go out as any. Then he dissolved into mist, which settled on each of us. It felt like a swell of my own power.
I can get behind the idea of going out on one’s own terms.
We remembered him… we also remembered fragments of his existence from his own point of view. When we went out, the massive doors faded away, leaving normal undercroft doors, carved with symbols of Mavros.
Reeshka could still see… which we discovered when she jumped on me, grabbed my collar, and yelled as much, before starting to run around in little circles.
…. Today went considerably better than I had expected.
The temple didn’t feel like something was wrong any more, and it just felt abandoned. It was dawn when we came out, and the junior priest of Mavros was coming up. He was incredibly pleased to see us, and to hear that everything seemed to have been taken care of. I left him one of the scrying tokens, and he stared his work re-consecrating the temple.
Before we left, one of the priests of Mnemosyne found us, and said he had a message from his goddess: “She remembers now.” That was all she said, but that was all she had to say.
Of course, everything wasn’t sunshine and roses… the comet was still in the sky, and still purple. And incrementally brighter.
When we got back, there were half a dozen younger people waiting for us… they said they’d dreamed of a god the night before, a great man with a key on his shoulder, who’d said that he was passing his burden on to the three of us… and that he’d picked them to be our disciples.
I…. think we’re possibly demi-gods, or minor gods now. And we have priests. I’m… really not sure how to react to this.
Reeshka threw a celebratory feast and declared it a city holiday… the Day of Eye-Opening.
The next day, there was a package sitting in the middle of the great hall, addressed to all three of us, in archaic brown paper and addressed in spiky writing. When Reeshka opened it, there was a small wicker basket with some really luscious fruit in it, with a note that essentially said ‘Welcome to divinity, well done.’
It was signed with a picture of a dancing hut.
….it really was delicious fruit, though.