Saturday, May 7, 2011

Isle Imperium: Episode 1.12 -- The Goddess Proserpine

As the party sleeps, MANTIUS experiences something like a dream in which he has a conversation with the shard Ossis Potior (Bone Collector). The shard explains that Mantius’s fortunate son shard ability was most likely instrumental in their surviving the encounter with the chaos courtier Avaunt, and further, passes on the benefit of experience that he earned battling certain creatures of the island -- which were apparently drawn to the party due to VARIAN’S wearing the shard Barbas Magus -- during their conversation.

Mantius awakens to pass this experience around; and CATALINA dons the shard Concinnarium Vigilo (Harmonic Warder) in order to make their report to the warder overseers. Unfortunately, the one she happens to face turns out to be strongly prejudiced against females and so does not provide any useful advice or information toward fulfilling their quest to acquire the Eye of Pluto under the new circumstances. The party returns to slumber, and Mantius updates Ossis Potior on what has occurred.

While Rogelio and Alina remain at the beach to continue building a boat, the party explores the island, finding and opening up a cave entrance sealed with rocks. They soon realize that it is filled with various sorts of undead—in particular, a large scuttling creature on the ceiling—and after ALECTO survives the death gaze of two vaguely female creatures and Varian risks his life to acquire a heap of treasure embedded in the edge of the abyss that bisects the cavern ‘floor’ (which is really composed of bones and undead scorpions), Mantius opens a gate to return them closer to the entrance of the cave, and they hurry back out of what they later learn to be the lair of one Lacadaemon, who uses treasure to lure and trap his prey.

Following some degree of gloating over their new acquisitions, they continue their explorations, in the course of which they spot a small house and an orchard within an area of surprisingly good soil. Venturing therein, they make the acquaintance of the lady of the house, Honoria, and her talking dog, CANIS VARAS. After politely declining Honoria’s offer of food and drink, and then bribing the dog with olives grown by Catalina in her capacity as the mount of the shard, the accomplished Silvamanus (Thorn Thumb), they eventually realize that ‘Honoria’ is in fact the goddess PROSERPINE, in a sense the original daughter of sorrow, whom they believe the goddess Eris meant to receive the apple she gave them, hopefully as sort of a countermeasure against the Blue.

Despite the goddess’s resistance to the idea, she is finally persuaded to take the apple when Aly mentions Eris’ assertion that the god Mars has also been infested. Proserpine orders the party to leave the premises, but they are unable to do so and thus remain to witness the confrontation between the queen of the underworld and her summoned lover, the god of war. Upon managing to elicit a confession of sorts from the latter that he was responsible for letting Chaos into their world as part of his bid to win both the Underworld and its queen, Proserpine deceives him into ingesting part of Eris’ apple, causing a massive outrush of blue from the god’s being. Having earlier exposed the cowering party members in their hiding places, the enraged but evidently weakened Mars swears vengeance—hopefully just on Proserpine but don’t hold your breath—and departs.

Having protected the group from her former lover, Proserpine then proceeds to threaten them with blinding, mutilation, dismemberment, and a good deal worse if they so much as think of relating what they have seen. They swear a solemn oath not to do so, and she grants them the Eye of Pluto (a large opal that she once gave as a gift to her husband), with the admonition that she was impressed by them, not their shards, and so they had better ensure that their superiors do not think to use her gift against her and those she considers hers. Further, she punishes Canis Varas for revealing her identity by revoking her gifts of human speech and intelligence, and banishes him from her presence.

The triumphant but very cowed party walks backward out of her domain, accompanied by the dog.

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