Monday, February 24, 2014

Isle Imperium 1.51 -- The Scent of Myrrh

Myrrh, as it turns out, is deadly to unsharded humans and deleterious even to sharded ones, such that prolonged exposure prevents most ability use, causes unconsciousness, and drains recent memories, albeit allowing the recovery of long-suppressed ones. Unconscious in a warehouse full of the substance, certain members of the First recall the following.

  • was hungry for knowledge and travel to Nova Aeternus as early as ten years old, strongly disapproved by father
  • also as early as ten, was repeatedly exhorted by an unseen voice claiming to be in the woods to “set me free”
  • traded a pommel he “has always had” and a dagger with HADRIAN in exchange for books and scrolls
  • at around 14, got in a fight with father over Arc’s “allowing” his cousin DEVON’S purse to be stolen (by a young Aly and Cat); father let slip that Arc was “found”; Arc ran out and father had a heart attack, was enfeebled ever after. Later, Devon (from Nova Aeternus) said, “You were sent here… safer here… I came to see if you’re all right.”
  • experiences the memory of an ancient man, ORENICUS, wishing to be freed of the extended life apparently granted by his shard from fallen Opal, Fate Spinner. The mount’s servant ULIKAEN attempted to oblige by removing the shard but was killed when it defended, fatally slamming him into the wall. Another servant tried later, using a blade.

  • like Arc, was a regular attendee of the yearly carnival at a young age; when they were around 10, Hadrian (probably) got a wooden statuette from a fortune teller there, while Ian (probably) got a kiss (may have been the other way around)
  • had some tension with Hadrian early on over Ian’s mother’s role in the household; Hadrian’s grandmother decided to teach Ian to read and play a musical instrument
  • At around 12, Hadrian was mauled by a bear. Guilt-stricken, Ian went to avenge him, thus meeting the sharded bear SALAMIS, who proposed to spare Ian’s life if the latter removed the dagger that woke him and prompted him to attack
  • Some time after, Ian made an arrangement with ‘Salami’ wherein the latter pretended to attack in order for Ian to impress his lady love ‘Princess Ayelle’ (a.k.a. TISIPHONE). The plan succeeded, and Tisi gave Ian his first kiss.
  • experiences a memory of DIONES walking through the city of jewels, Acrete, with a certain RASELDAN (not the same as Ruby’s), Bejeweled Warrior

  • wanted to juggle as early as nine years old; was prevented and threatened by lead juggler ROVANCUS (“Juggling is men’s work; you need balls”) in favor of his apprentice, ‘Conrad of the Seven Fingers’. Tisi wanted to be an actress and singer; MEGAERA, a dancer.
  • After Rovancus’s death, Aly was apprenticed by Conrad, with whom a romantic relationship soon developed. At this time, Tisi was hurt by Aly’s acceptance of and friendship with the troupe’s young new lead actress, CATALINA.
  • Some time later, as Tisi was mediating between Aly and Meg over the latter having fallen in love with Conrad and vice versa, they were visited by a massive shambling form that quickly divided into three hooded humanoids, presumably the Furies. The trio noted that the sisters are well named—the eldest being protective, the middle one calm, and the youngest sharp—and prophesied: “Three like diamonds in hand / One who will try and fall / One who with emerald will stand / One who will be one with the saint of all.”
  • had a falling-out with Cat at the age of 15 over the man whom Aly believes to be the father of Cat’s daughter Alia
  • remembers the existence of the Empire of Korantia, the primary rival nation of the Imperium

The three adults are woken from their slumber by the shards Bejeweled Warder, Saint of Consonance, and particularly Unconquered Avenger, who uncharacteristically breaks the rules by making everyone unconquerable, despite not being mounted. Arc uses impossible leap in an attempt to gain perspective from a higher vantage point, with the unintended result of breaking all three through the roof and out of the warehouse. There, they learn from the irate custodian that they evidently made a deal in which they would be allowed to purchase myrrh if they could manage to stay inside the warehouse for two hours.

After returning to the warehouse and enduring the allotted time, they buy three wagon loads of myrrh at the price of 200,000 bright light. They are then obliged to load the myrrh manually onto their hired ship, since abilities are not working and only a second’s contact with the substance was enough to kill one of the unsharded crew members who tried to help them. It takes them three days to do this, and another fourteen days to travel by sea to the port of Kaven, where they are supposed to meet the other four members of their number. (Arc has a hazy memory of sitting in a bar with everyone when Cat decided they should split up to improve their chances of acquiring myrrh in as little time as possible.)

They arrive at Kaven to find it a deserted port with nothing more than a well and four empty warehouses, cut off from the rest of the land by a sharp cliff. Aly and Arc are deciding where to store the substance when Ian realizes that the top layer of myrrh has evaporated even as they speak. Frantic, they resort to prayer in an attempt to make the offering to Terminus, and are rewarded by a voice telling them that they must cross a boundary. They do so, hauling a wagon each from pier to shore, and thereby find themselves in what is apparently the god’s sanctum, where their offering is graciously accepted and permission granted for the rewriting of the writ without further difficulty.

Once returned to Kaven, they decide to at least fill their flasks from the well, having realized that they evidently split their supplies, as well as shards, with the other team. On the inner rim of the well, they find a message from Mantius, carved into the stone in carnie hand signals: “Waited for 3 days, but had to go bec the Bone L is after us. See you at next meeting place. Be careful.” A second message reads: “Don’t let them get their hands on the land grant!”

Mystified as to the location of ‘the next meeting place’, the three decide that since they cannot travel by sea, the boat having long departed, they might as well go by land, at least until enough time has passed to render their shards fully operational again and to enable them to reshard (Ian having remembered that they have been unable to deshard for all the intervening days). Accordingly, Arc leaps to get a better look beyond the cliff overlooking the port—and is shocked and horrified to discover a vast, teeming encampment of the Bone legion just past the ridge.

Following Arc’s panicked descent, the mounts hurry to the water in the hope that washing off any remnants of myrrh will enable them to use their abilities properly. His choice of a spot behind a rocky outcropping proves fortuitous when a dark flash heralds an outpouring of black smoke that seems to be some sort of method of seeking, which before long manifests images of the Phantom Herald, Saint of Consonance, and Scarab Helionaut, clearly indicating the Bone legionaries know exactly who they are looking for.

Fortunately, the washing works, enabling Arc to manifest a frostweave gate and all three of them to hastily reshard. As the black smoke turns back toward the shoreline where it bypassed them previously, they hastily dive into gate, knowing it will not be able to take them to their intended destination, but hoping for the best.

sundry information:
  • The ‘thunder pact’ apparently comprises the shards Keeper of the Thunder Pact, Gallows Mage, Soul Sculptor, and Augur of Arrows.
  • Arc reveals that Ian’s stepfather’s name was Belarigus.
  • chance of mission success: from 11% (Cuburdus) to 15% (unknown) to 18% (myrrh acquisition) to 28% (Terminus’s permission)

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