The Shadow and the Flame

Session 9: The World Tree
Eh... er... you what?

Right – Honestly I have no idea. I have made the best sense of my notes that I could and put them into a reasonable order. But there is a lot of reiteration in the notes, a lot of back forth and over-repeat… so if it does not sound right please feel free to change it!

MICHAEL says he is only going to SHATTERLIGHT for 30 mins. He needs to use his Order for something good and they must die. Plus he wants to check.

The STAIR resists him opening a door, or a force of some kind resists him going to SHATTERLIGHT. MICHAEL forces the issue and it pushes back, but eventually he opens the door. He goes through to find the city aflame. He lies to his army telling them a nearby tower is the last archive and sends them to take it.

MICHAEL senses the CARIACH and the presence of THE RED PRINCESS. As he returns he drops a SILVER ROSE and it causes the CARIACH to Scream, it sounds like heartbreak. Its the scream of a cruse, of a wronged woman… she wants to end whatever the rose is. THe SILVER ROSE was from CORWIN’s garden.

SHATTERLIGHT falls and MICHAEL blows the door, burning off its remains and sealing it.

Back in THE GARDEN plans are discussed.
To be honest I am not bothering to type them up as they became obsolete by the end of the session

Abruptly the GARDEN disappears and they they are standing on a tree, infinite in its proportions, its branches extending out into the dark. Either side of the tree massive armies are emassed.

It becomes apparent that the VIEL has burnt off and all that remains is reality as it truly is. Order on one side, Chaos on the other.

Off from the Tree they see TOMASCAL – he has a Warship from THE GARDEN. Everyone walks off the tree onto the GALLOWGATE LAD.

SAIL remains and communes with the Tree/Stair. This cycle either it lives or it dies. It asserts that it has given us all the tools we need. MICHAEL’S SWORD is broken and needs to be reforged and all that rails against the tree must end.

MICHAEL exhausted from his efforts goes to sleep on the GALLOWGATE LAD.

NYX appears to have some kind of fit and then awakes and speaks and says we must go to the roots and tells ‘SAIL to take them there. She says we need to get to the ’Machine’ of the Stair/Tree – or in other words go see its creator.

As they descend to the roots of the tree they come up against thuds of energy and then ballista fire. ’GARRIDAN and ’SAIL erect shields around the ship and they continue. As they descend the tree starts to open up to allow them through.

MICHAEL has a flashback to when he went to the center of the Labyrinth – to where they are going now. The WIZARD with the staff did not move, things moved round him, he was 0,0 and we take onboard that knowledge and head there.

MICHAEL access the ‘back door’ as it were and they take the shorter route to their destination emerging in the CITADEL OF 1001 NIGHTS. As they step out into the Labyrinth ’SAIL self actualises into a Master of the Stair.

As they walk out into the LABYRINTH following MICHAEL all icons of the previous 6 go cold. The arrive in the center – there is the box/coffin/stasis pod/sarcophagus that CORWIN is in and MERLIN/THE WIZARD his ‘son’.

’SAIL is able to sense CORWIN in the box and communicate directly. He tells her to fuck off… and then tells her he did not want this. He did not want to be in the sarcophagus… his thoughts reinterate, she picks up on the fact he reiterates taht he loved her, they loved each other, they did not want to be here… he did not want to be here.

MICHAEL talks to MERLIN, he notes that he should not have come unarmed.

’SAIL confronts MERLIN saying the story he told MICHAEL does not fit with what she hears from CORWIN. He is evasive and unclear.

’SAIL continues to talk to CORWIN. She learns he fucked up trying to save the half-sister he adored and loved more than anything else. She died in the war between Chaos and order. He took her essence and with it grew the Stair, he did it knowing breaking every rule. Hence FIONA/THE RED HAIRED PRINCESS is fucked off, he did break the rules. and the CARIACH/The half sister feels betrayed… he did not save her.

TOM is brought back by NYX and GARRIDAN. ’SAIL apologizes and he seems well.

Both TOM and ’SAIL agree that they must symbolically somehow end the story between CORWIN and THE CARIACH. There is also the understanding that it must be done as the six of us together to work.

TOM’s ideas is to give her the a symbolic sacrifice of CORWIN. This amounts to giving MICHAEL to the CARIACH as MICHAEL is CORWIN’s son. MICHAEL immediately tries to do this and it fails.

’SAIL explains that it can be less specific. CORWIN broke the rules when he made the Stair. Therefore the rules are mutable and changeable within the bounds of the Story.
TOM points out you do not need to know all the story.

They set off to reforge MICHAEL’s SWORD (once DRAKEs).

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Session 8: Torture & Destruction

I added my notes over Ben’s… so this is both of our stuff. Andy you might want to stick your stuff in here for OCC record.

So fast this expedition
So vast this heavy load
With a touch of luck and a sense of need
Seeing the guns and their faces
We look around the open shore
Waiting for something …

… Exchanges in the currency of humans bought and sold
and the leaders seem to loose control

Shall we lose ourselves for a reason?
Shall we burn ourselves for the answer?
Have we found the place we’re looking for?
Someone shouted ‘open the door’
Lookout!

Shoot High, Aim Low by Yes

Recap of the Month between Session 7 and 8

Michael and Garridan have been traveling the Stair, Michael has become THE Master of the Stair and gone to the center of the Labyrinth – discovering the family feud behind the Dwimmerlaik. (See Session 7.1 and 7.2 notes)
’Sail traveled home – and has been ruminating on how to get round Fiona
Tom left the Garden on one of the new Ships that have been built by the crew of the ’Lad – he has reverted to his original form of Tomascal.
Pieter – has learnt Wrighting
Nyx – ?

Discussions have been had that disseminate the information in 7.1 and 7.2 mini sessions – which for brevity come down to these facts:

The Stair exists in the Abyss (Shadow) between two alternate dimension/realities called Chaos and Order. The effects of these realities cause tides in the Shadow – and maybe the manifestation of Eidolon and Umbra.

Fiona, the Red Haired Woman is behind the Dwimmerlaik. She is sister to Corwin, a man at the center of the labyrinth who is literally dreaming the Stair into life. We know this from his dodgy son Merlin whom Michael met in the center of the Labyrinth.

Fiona has control of the Cariarch, the Empress of the Dwimmerlaik somehow and is causing these cycles of war because the Stair is imposing on her dimension of Order – she wants the Stair not to be. The Dwimmerlaik are effectively her puppets.

Session 8 Notes

Discussion on the ‘Lad and its agreed that we assault the infiltration on the Order (Michael’s organisation) to find out how the Dwimmerlaik got control and what they are doing. Hopefully this information will be used to cut the infiltration out of Garridan’s home world of Edifice… and give us some clue as to how we can break the control on the Dwimmerlaik and on infected parts of the Stair.

The Plan for the Order Op is simple:
- Michael will open several doors in range of the Order’s Tower, they will investigate, thinning their numbers
- We will go in through the ‘back door’ and try to quietly talk to the Master of the Order’s Library which is ancient, and may give us clues.
- Big no no’s the tower is mostly wood, so no fire
- There are about 12 persons with significant power there, but hopefully things will be okay

Caer Dolsadarn – Home of The Order

Step out into cold, wet Welsh landscape – NYX notes that there is a sense of Umbra (imbalance on the plane). Out of range of the Order, give the Sorcerers time to adjust.

MICHAEL relates that a Master of the Stair has been present in last 6 months – many doors have been opened – could be indication of MICHAEL’S mentor (back from dead). Something about the world seems akin to a Mind Garden.

MICHAEL is going to open a door into HENGIST’S Chambers – he is the Master of the Order’s Library and who we have come to see.

Eliiseg – kill if have to (is Michael’s wish, apparently behind attack on Garridan)

Step onto Stair then through door into quarters/cell of Hengist (Master of the Library) – candlelit room, shadows appear to be pulling light in – feels akin to when there were storms out in Shadow. HENGIST is not there.

Garridan – opens scrying spell to show library – writing desks been converted to 1960s mainframe computers, HENGIST and apprentices are focussed on giant Egg – just in corner of library slipping in and out of vision in the Shadow is a Dwimmerlaik. The room appears very similar to what we saw in the Caldera on Edifice where we found the Ouroboros.

’SAIL asks if there anyone MICHAEL can trust, he only trusted HENGIST and CADWELLAN. Move into neighbouring room to see CADWELLAN – he is asleep… MICHAEL has to remove an illusion, CADWELLAN suddenly looks dirtier, unkempt – unmanaged (long beard, nails, pressure sores, etc) – reveal truth, he has been cut out of the loop. CADWELLAN Recognises The Nyx, mistakes Pieter for Drake because of his sword.

Nyx, is The Nyx – plural, The last of her kind, and at the same time all of them. CADWELLAN takes the news of 6 months (the last thing he remembers is a visit from SHASTA) passing and Drake’s demise fairly well and is calm about the idea that we need to talk to the Dwimmerlaik in the library. He organises a drill parade on the grounds outside to provide distraction whilst we pile into the library and have a “Chat with extreme prejudice”…

We wait, spying with GARRIDAN’s new fisheye spell – only HENGIST, two apprentices from SHASTA’s CELL and the Dwimmerlaik left.

Go in. ’SAIL opens portal to her warren Thyr in front of Dwimmerlaik bathing it in pure light – screams and anguish

The rest storm through, NYX void-blinks to Dwimmerlaik and engages, GARRIDAN sweeps its legs and NYX and PIETER we pin it to the floor with their swords through the shoulders.

MICHAEL takes out the apprentices with koshes to the back of the head and incaps HENGIST. They are bound and gaged.

Dwimmerlaik speaks – words hurt our heads. Interrogation begins:

SAIL has to form a psychic link to the Dwimmerlaik in order to interrogate it… her impression is of a creature made of blind hate. It is Amalash the Deceiver (AtD) – never set foot on Throne of Skulls, but has beheld it. It is obedient to the hate. It is fueled by hate but its not hate, it is simply a vessel.

SAIL uses the hate and obedience to get AtD to report back: NYX supports her by disrupting AtD’s ability to use Umbra or anything else.

For 50 yr I have watched and waited; we sent them into the wild, we waited and we bound… Their bones are too feeble to grace your throne (It infiltrated during the last war and has controlled the Order to some extent since then, sending them out to be the eyes and ears of the Dwimmerlaik)

S: Extent of your control

AtD: They seek truth, but they do not know the meaning of the word; they cannot see us…they are our thing

S: What have you learnt

AtD: We have found an egg, hidden behind a door…(controlling Order since last war)…in the final fires there will be darkness. We await only your cry, we are ready, we are amassed. The hour is near
(They have sent out multiple MICHAEL later relates 8, groups to find Eggs to rebirth the Dragons and use their fire to burn ‘the tree’)

S: How secure is your control from the point of entry

AtD: We are in the shadows, we are the monster under the bed, they cannot see us
(They are ready and amassed, they await only the fall of SHATTERLIGHT and the call to arms)

S: Are there any threats?

AtD: SHATTERLIGHT, new knights – they are fractured and weak, cannot even stand together.

Other voice: Yes

S sees distant throne/tower of metal and skulls that belongs to the Cariarch – OV: I see you little god, you will die last (is pure hate) – ’SAIL is nonplussed by this but gets out before the connection can be used against her.

AtD cries out, stands up (stripping flesh off) spurting out an ichorus blood, GARRIDAN pulls Sail out of the way of the spurting ichor as rest of the group dive to avoid it.

The Remains of AtD taints everything, the blood is a cursed ichor, like acid but worse, its persistent corruption. GARRIDAN has to lose her armour as its corrupted by the ichor that she took for ‘SAIL.

The Library has somehow become an attempt at Garden, but not correct, like someone had heard of how Garden’s work, but did not understand them.

MICHAEL interrogates HENGIST – is aware of being under control of enemy; (’SAIL’S investigation of mind reveals labyrinth of different cells, he is a construct of the darkness and enslaved by it, there is no way to separate him out).

HENGIST has been here 92 years. They have been working on reviving the Dragons.

H – brought in Van Buren; they brought in the boxes – don’t open the boxes, one of them will bring them through, (he is referencing the constructed nature of his mind, filled with 12 boxed personalities)

There’s twelve of us, one between the 5 & 7th – one of me is Master of the Doors, trying to open all the doors (a reference again to the 6th) that one can start the war today.

Menhirs – surrounded by stone, each of those surrounded (reference to his internal mental construction)

MICHAEL pushes and brings out the voice that controls HENGIST. It warns him it can open the doors, MICHAEL goads it and it opens the doors in the Library (MICHAEL later reveals that it opened ALL the doors in existence and it cost him a lot to close them all). HENGIST is then knocked out and killed.

CADEWELLAN found SHASTA on Parade, and he is now down a well with smashed legs. MICHAEL orders him recovered. He is questioned by MICHAEL.

SHASTA reveals they have been to many worlds with rooms like the one in the Library and Caldera. He will only agree to talk to MICHAEL about what is down in the Cells. MICHAEL is insistent about going down into the Cells as there may be more Dwimmerlaik present. MICHAEL returns with a Map to the Cells.

Head down to dungeons – NYX senses more corruption as go deeper… it was once a place where men contemplated in the dark, in a process to make themselves stronger against the darkness. This process appears to have been corrupted by the Dwimmerlaik into a process of nightmares and torture. The cells contained tortured and mummified remains of Order members who never made it out of the process alive. The deeper they go into the Cells/dungeons the greater the sense of corruption.

At one point the darkness speaks and is answered my MICHAEL and GARRIDAN. IT asks “Would you prefer us in the light” – there is some backtracking… and it starts to retreat a ‘metaphysical’ rate, just beyond our encroachment. It leaves.

NYX finds a crack in the foundation stone, part of an earlier building where the darkness came through.

On emerging from the Cells/Dungeon MICHAEL orders the library packed and ensures that the returning groups place their Eggs and anything else they found into a Cell he can access. He will seal all the doors to this world and set it adrift into Shadow, effectively burning it as the previous 6 had done to corrupted worlds before because we cannot cleanse it.

GARRIDAN asks ‘SAIL to check her head to see if TOM did anything to her. ‘SAIL can find nothing, but whilst there TOM initiates icon contact, but tells ‘SAIL to leave so he and her can talk privately.

GARRIDAN relates from TOM that DAYLE is dead and SHATTERLIGHT is falling to the Dwimmerlaik. VARLA and BASTIANOS are fighting.TOM has given her an icon because he wants contact from PIETER – he is going to find DRAKE and needs PIETER to aid him. TOM was told by DAYLE that the cycle (that had only begun really a month or so before) is ending and that it is to become what they make of it.

NYX pokes the Machine found in the Library. (not sure what came of that)

MICHAEL despite NYX, ‘SAIL and GARRIDAN arguing that its not the best path, that they are repeating a cycle they are supposed to break out of, feels he must go to SHATTERLIGHT. He is taking 110 men from Caer Dolsadarn who are tainted with him, its their last chance to be useful. He wishes to watch what the Dwimmerlaik have to throw at VARLA and BASTIANOS as it may be important. He asks ‘SAIL to create a banner for him a single lit candle on a white field. He feels it is important to not let VARLA and BASTIANOS go into the darkness alone. ‘SAIL argues, but ultimately its because she has a gut feeling its wrong, that VARLA will do her nut because they are doing this to give them cover to find another way, not repeat the past… and because she fears they will not return. MICHAEL is certain he will be able to get out. GARRIDAN will go with him whatever. NYX decides to go with him to make sure GARRIDAN and he return.

‘SAIL retreats to the Garden, she is given the ICON for PIETER to contact TOM. She will make sure that should NYX fail she can bring them all back to the GARDEN.

Meanwhile on his quest to find DRAKE TOM is accosted by his own Shadow that wants a chat with him… like any sane person he freaks out at having his shade come chat with him.

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Session 7.1 & 7.2 Breakfast Natter & Michael and 'Sail get Metaphysical...
Summaries of Email play

I condensed some 60 pages to 3… so if I skipped important stuff sorry! Did my best to be representative, but also wanted it to be quickly readable. Please edit as needed.

All characters bar Tomascal were technically at the Breakfast Natter 7.1 the document was large and convoluted so I split it into Character Stuff and Plot related Discoveries for ease of reference.

Only Michael and ’Sail were talking in private in 7.2; so its OCC record, unless you were eavesdropping, or asked ’Sail or Michael, or were told by them after the fact. Quite a bit of what passed in that session was related IC to everyone bar Tomascal at the start of Session 8.

7.1 Breakfast Natter

Time: Shortly after Session 7 end, a week or so into the month gap between Session 7 and 8
Place: Gallowgate Lad
Present: Garridan, Michael, ’Sail – and nominally Pieter and Nyx as well
Scene Setting: Breakfast on the Ship

Overall the scene plays out as a discussion whilst the Ship prepares breakfast, its early morning – all named characters above have been invited to breakfast in the Library – Tomascal has buggered off again to the best of anyone’s knowledge.

Character dispositions

- Sylvia (with glee) and Michael (with much embarrassment) ask ’Sail’s permission to remodel the ship so they can have a double bed and room. ’Sail is surprised the ship has not already done it as that is part of its core functioning, to provide what is needed

- There is much piss taking of Michael’s embarrassment about relationships by ’Sail and Garridan, exacerbated by the fact that ’Sail is clearly in a dressing gown and Garridan clearly believes in being open about the two of them

- ‘Sail has been ’home’ she has bought two new dresses and come back with coffee, fruit and pastries which are breakfast (Sylvia wants a fry up though, and the Ship provides)… she is off kilter through the discussion

Several dynamics are clear through the conversation
- Michael and Sylvia are in a serious relationship, and are both extremely protective of each other
- ’Sail is overwhelmed but hanging in there, desperately trying to come to grips with the metaphysics and questions they are facing

- Michael and Sylvia are concerned about ’Sail, they think she may be under the influence of Theydon Bois or worse, she gives them (and anyone at that breakfast) free access to her mind to check for influences, none are found, but ’Sail was clearly stressed by her time in the Shadow

- ’Sail speculates at length, but this stresses out Michael and Sylvia because of the cost of revelations to Michael, however there are many crossed wires in the conversation and its abandoned for safer ground

Discoveries

Michael and Sylvia have been off in the Mausoleum at Shatterlight, and Michael has visited the Labyrinth at the base of the Stair – they have discovered much, but cannot tell everything just yet. Michael is under serious bonds and has paid serious prices for the information. He has also become THE Master of the Stair – he is yon big daddy now.

- This is the 7th Cycle, the previous 6 referred to themselves as being the 6th Cycle. Previous cycles have lasted some 12 000 years. This is the start of the 7th Cycle.

- The Dwimmerlaik are reduced to corrupting others in the stair since the Cauterisation of the Stair at Finestere via the sacrifice of 10 000 Masters of the Stair (Sylvia has strong opinions on this, backed by Michael, they are scathing of the previous 6)

- There are only 32 Masters of the Stair left

- Previous 6 were bound by the 6th heavily, prevented from saying anything; also the idea that they were heavily controlled by the ones that came before them and so they are trying a hands off approach as well (Michael thinks they should not be forgiven for holding back so much)

- Dayle prophesied the fall of Shatterlight, it will happen and the previous 6 will die defending it, it will happen – probably soon because its a huge psychological blow to the defenders of the Stair
They are doing this to distract the Dwimmerlaik from us, buying us time to move behind the scenes and find another way to end the cycles of destruction.

- Michael and Lucien have talked. Michael found Lucien’s sword and traveled to the center of the Labyrinth, there he found a “Son of a Power” who had been waiting to reveal much. Michael lied to Lucien though and told him there was nothing in the center of the Labyrinth… he needs to talk to this Power again before more can be explained

- Michael as THE Master of the Stair commands 1001 Knights, souls who died in the Labyrinth and now defend it from attackers – but they are lost, they maybe in Drake’s Citadel – which is in the Labyrinth. Drake gave the location of it to Michael when they went on the Ashen Path.

- Several events have accelerated this Cycle:
1. Tom going to the Lighthouse on his own
2. Michael finding parts of Lucien’s Sword – going to the Labyrinth
3. Going to Finestere
4. Michael opening a door to the ’Lad whilst they were in Shadow, and subsequently at the cost of personal pain having to destroy the part of the stair he created out in shadow – which may have been seen as a incursion
5. Garridan taking on the Mind Garden and ’Sail bringing a Spearship into it

‘Sail speculates that the Cycles have Chiral points, of which the 6th is one of them, and that these chiral points are bound into the ’Primal force’ and hence are indestructible… examples are discussed, little is agreed on beyond the objects themselves which are:
- Michael’s Sword
- The Gem/Shard of the Lighthouse
- Pieter’s Sword
- The Gallowgate Lad

‘Sail argues that Tom – despite an almost universal lack of trust, as he is clearly telling half truths, even if he was ’hag ridden’ to the lighthouse – that Tom should be back within the group and trusted, because he is clearly linked strongly to the 6th, and has contained his spirit if not more… and its bad that we had no chance to talk to the spirit in him, but there may be other opportunities that won’t exist unless we work with Tom.

There is discussion as to how Tom managed to get him vomited out of Garridan. ‘Sail speculates the only way this would be possible is if he utilised her True Name. This obviously shits up Garridan and Michael who suspected as much – and there is discussion on how to circumvent such control over her, but its all after the fact. Garridan believes she is locked in a ’wyrd’ with Tom.

‘Sail by virtue of being ’precocious’ is being hunted. But she is safe as long as she is near Michael. There is discussion of her relationship to the ‘Lad… ’Sail is clearly very much emotionally attached to the ship as a concept of ’home’ – however she admits beyond knowing its functions she has little idea how it works…

7.2 Michael & ’Sail

Time: a day or so after the breakfast natter
Place: ’Sail’s quarters in the observation deck of the ’Lad
Present: Michael and ’Sail – private conversation – other characters can feel free to read, but its only IC if you eavesdropped somehow

Michael has been back and forth between the ship and ‘other places’… ’Sail has mostly kept to her Quarters or the Library

Uncontested knowledge between them:

Michael can finally tell her what he found at the center of the Labyrinth clearly
- There is a man in a box, dreaming the Stair… creating it. His name is Corwin. He is from Amber, an alternate reality.
- He has a Sister, called Fiona. She is the Red Haired Woman. Fiona is the ruler of Order, an alternate reality/dimension. She is from Amber.
- Corwin is guarded by his Son; Merlin. Merlin is a doggy fucker – but all this information comes from him, as to wake or kill Corwin would end existence as we know it. Merlin claims to be guarding his father, and once to have been the King of Chaos – an alternate reality/dimension.

The Stair was an attempt by Corwin to create an Egalitarian universe as Amber is not. Corwin created the Stair in the Abyss between Chaos and Order. Now the Stair encroaches on the other realities. This has pissed off Fiona and it is she who wants destruction of all that is the Stair. It is she who said ‘It must not be’.

The Nyx (a plural) were created as part of an accord between the Stair and Shadow, they were to police the balance, remove ‘trouble makers’.

The power of Chaos and Order causes tidal movements in Shadow.

Fiona is causing the Dwimmerlaik’s unquestioning hate.

’Sail’s current demeanor is due to the exertion of her time in the Shadow, and her uncertainty over her roll. The ’Lad was under attack whilst they were there and she and Dayle expended much to keep it safe, hence she has little recollection of what took place whilst they were out there.

Contested ideas and Questions arising from their discussion:

‘Sail thinks the Mind Gardens are a manifestation of Corwin’s dreaming of the Stair – either a direct attempt to copy, or as a side effect, or indeed the mechanism itself

She thinks the Power that Corwin uses is the Primal Force and hence its indestructibility in the Cycles

She believes that there is no way to ‘insulate’ the Stair against Fiona’s influence (tried before and failed, to enormous a task) BUT that killing or circumventing Fiona directly may work (ie. suicidal take down of Fiona OR destroying the Cariarch’s throne which may be a mechanism of control)

She believes the spirit of the 6th is a manifestation of Corwin and therefore is indestructible and that it maybe possible to summon it still even though Tom left it to be destroyed by Fiona. It probably knows how we can circumvent Fiona, if not how to kill her.

As a completely MENTAL idea ’Sail suggests calling Merlin a liar and waking up Corwin, however the two of them universally agree this is a terrible idea – but ’Sail felt the need to come up with three options.

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Session 7: Dissention in the Ranks
Dissention in the Ranks

And you said you always had my back
but how were we to know?

Oh there is bad blood here, won’t you let it dry?
Its been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?

If we’re only ever looking back
we will drive ourselves insane
As the friendship goes, resentment grows
we will walk our different ways

But those are the days that bind us, together, forever.
And those little things define us, forever, forever.

Bastille, Bad Blood

Leaving Theydon Bois

Whilst at the Dragon City ‘SAIL has been aware and fighting a presence that was trying to control the GALLOWGATE LAD. Towards the end of the fight she was helped out by a second presence bolstering her defences – this turns out to be DAYLE who then reactivates the icons on the ship and talks to ‘SAIL with some urgency.

DAYLE convinces ‘SAIL that the lighthouse is another 3 months away and that there is no guaranteed way back. ‘SAIL argues that TOM is going to go whether they go with him or not, and it’s best not to leave him alone. DAYLE argues that none of them are ready… ‘SAIL is swayed by the fact that she knows events are accelerating, that they are getting ahead of themselves, and she is unconvinced that there are any answers in the LIGHTHOUSE… not to mention she knows it make take them far too long to get back.

Everyone returns to the GALLOWGATE LAD – ‘SAIL announces she is turning around and going back, giving and overview of her conversation with DAYLE. TOM does not see the point of going of not going forward. ‘SAIL and NYX argue that we can always come back, but going there ahead of ourselves could be very bad. PIETER mediates and eventually they agree to turn back, following the trail that DAYLE as left for them.

During the conversation the STAIR attaches briefly to the ship and then retracts.

Icon contact comes from MICHAEL and GARRIDAN – but they are reluctant to say more until we are all together. They are in SHATTERLIGHT having gone done the pilgrimage to the 6ths tomb. It is agreed that they will all meet in CARCOSSA as they all wish to talk to BASTIANOS.
Morning comes and TOM has predictably taken the row boat and left. ‘SAIL can get him back… but is reluctant to violate his right of freedom like that. She talks to PIETER and NYX who think she should… and she tries to force him to return, fearing that he is going into to something way above all their heads – but he does something and the contact breaks. She declares ‘Fuck him’…

Carocssa

Sans TOM they all meet up in BASTIANOS’s realm. MICHAEL and GARRIDAN explain that they journeyed into the MAUSOLEUM and discovered that Tom was the 6th and that the others could not say as they were bound to his will. In the tomb they also saw NYX… well many Nyx’s – it transpires that both her and TOM may be related to the TYPHONIANS, Nyx a creation of theirs (part of a defensive army) and TOM possibly a descendant.

MICAHEL explains the lack of Masters of the Stair; the previous 6 used them to fuel a massive burn-seal of the stair to shut out the DWIMMERLAIK. The war started because the 6th went exploring… and he failed massively at diplomacy… and that this was the 6th (6-8th no-one was willing to give an exact number DC) of such wars, that all started with one exploring and recruiting the others. However the massive burning of the Masters of the Stair to fuel a seal was Plan B… there was a Plan A – and all agree they would like to know that.

Now the DWIMMERLAIK are shut out, they confirm that they are corrupting minds to fight for them… and open doors to let them through. This seems to fit with ‘SAIL’s previous idea that they were corrupting icons and using shadow images as conduits to take control of minds and let themselves in.

The plan is to talk to BASTIANOS to see what he says – given he is the most proactive of those that remain from the previous 6. Michael and Garridan wish to know things from him as well as asking what Plan A is. After that it’s agreed after discussion to find an incursion point and investigate it to see how the DWIMMERLAIK are operating. MICHAEL says that they should isolate the infiltration of his order as that suits his and our purposes as well… and it seems like a good test case.

Contact is made through a CALIBAN, who is only persuaded to let them meet BASTIANOS when MICHAEL pulls rank as a Master of the Stair.

BASTIANOS has appeared to put a monumental effort into getting pissed… since he is about to die soon enough. PLAN A appears to be nothing more complex than destroy the LIGHTHOUSE as without it there is now way for them to find us. This plan failed as it appears that the LIGHTHOUSE, even though it was constructed by the 6th became imbued by a PRIMAL FORCE – which resisted destruction. The same is true of all the other Ancient Artefacts, such as the ORUBORUS and the SPEARSHIPS.

It is asked how long he has the ORUBORUS (to figure out how long the ACADEMY had been infiltrated). BASTIANOS relates that he had it since the fall of the 6th, he knew the second it was taken, it was gone barely a month. The logical conclusion is that the infiltration on GARRIDANs ACADEMY had started long before the raid as they set up the room prior to taking the artefact.

GARRIDAN then throws up TOM… to pretty much no comment from anyone. PIETER immediately attacks TOM and releases him of the shard of the LIGHTHOUSE that he is carrying. TOM explains that he was hijacked by the 6th AKANAT when he travelled down into the MAUSOLEUM (a Sun deity of some vein) and compelled to the LIGHTHOUSE. It was apparently a plan of the previous 6 to send the 6th forward into the next group to guide them. (MICHAEL leaves within moments of TOM’s return – DC)

‘SAIL is highly exasperated and in a fit of pique (but also genuine pity for him) offers to sleep with BASTIANOS… mostly so she can have a sensible conversation.

Pillow Talk

BASTIANOS reiterates much of what was already known and said, but independently so… and ‘SAIL becomes convinced they are not being tricksy – they are simply desperate, and always have been. He relates that DAYLE prophesised that SHATTERLIGHT would fall and they would die defending it – but as they did so they would buy us time to figure out who was behind the DWIMMERLAIK and the answers to all the unanswered questions…. ‘SAIL pushes him a bit, asking why they are all simply laying down and accepting that they will die. Why none of them are fighting such a fate – and it appears it’s because they are out of answers. He points to there being something in the Ancient Artefacts…. Something primal… in MICHAEL’S SILVER SWORD SHARDS, in the GEM in the LIGHTHOUSE… that all of these are linked in some way … but he does not understand and suggests we talk to LUCIEN who knows more about it than any of them. He has spent his life waiting for someone to pulls the SILVER SWORD, and now MICHAEL has he feels his role is done.
He explains that none of them were recruited as they believe. The 6th found DAYLE and he and she went exploring… DAYLE recruited the rest. DAYLE and the 6th built the lighthouse and the Ships… and caused the war….

Lucien

‘Sail relates what she learnt from BASTIANOS and it’s agreed that they go and talk to Lucien. ‘SAIL questions… guided somewhat by a circumspect MICHAEL. GARRIDAN pushes on her ACADEMY… and the upshot is the following information.

He reconfirms that they were brought in by the 6th and DAYLE.

He thinks that the DWIMMERLAIK EMPRESS is older than any of them… maybe even the Ancients. She will not compromise but the DWIMMERLAIK themselves might.

DAYLE’S PROPHECY (less a prophecy, more a pact) simply stated that they will all fight to defend SHATTERLIGHT. But it will fall and at that time the true enemy will be revealed. He describes it as a tontine.

He contends he is not hiding in the labyrinth he has a duty there. ‘SAIL confirms with MICHAEL (sort of) that his duty is to defend the Labyrinth, because if it falls so does everything. A duty which MICHAEL is supporting – and why he has to spend a lot of time away from them.

LUCIEN presses GARRIDAN as to why she did not destroy the GARDEN… because ultimately she knew it was special. These artefacts, the Garden, the Sword, and the Gem of the Lighthouse are imbued with a PRIMAL FORCE… but he does not know anything about it really.

The TYPHONIANS do not predate the Stair; they came first though, perhaps. They protected… and hence the question of Why are they gone when they are protectors and protected. Lucien reaches – what if they saw something in the beyond… if the stair was smaller then (hence all the ancient worlds are lower down on the stair) … if one of the echoes was that of the desire for exploration.

LUCIEN asks TOM what happened at the LIGHTHOUSE. TOM says he arrived in the LIGHTHOUSE to find the EMPRESS of the DWIMMERLAIK and to be confronted by the 6th… who was apparently very confused and did not know what he was doing there. The EMPRESS mocked him, told that he had come too soon and without any backup. There appeared to be a lot of history between the EMPRESS and the 6th… he pleaded with TOM for help, but as he had been hijacked he did not feel inclined and left the 6th to his fate… the EMPRESS intimated she would kill him (it’s made clear here that the EMPRESS is not a DWIMMERLAIK, she is a red headed woman… but I am not sure at what point… tis all a bit sketchy).

Pieter asks about the ORUBORUS – was it a thing that bound? Lucien does not really answer, but confirms that the ancient artefacts are pervasive.

The DWIMMERLAIK walked the Stair and changed it… in a way that made it anathema to them. There is something behind them that wants the Stair to end… if they destroy the Labyrinth, they get that. The idea scares MICHAEL.

MICHAEL and ‘SAIL talk – he is bound, he cannot say… but he says the answers are in the TYPHONIANS and the ANCIENT worlds…. He makes hints. ‘SAIL can feel something just beyond her comprehension – and feels utterly thick. There is much thinking until ‘SAIL finally realises that what she needs to do is ask MICHAEL to take her to the Oldest World… she does. He will.

‘SAIL and TOM get into a massive argument over him leaving the 6th to die. He sees it in purely personal terms, she does not… in the end PIETER mediates talking ‘SAIL down with the words “What else could he have done?”

Plans are changed. GARRIDAN and MICHAEL will raid the ORDER alone… with NYX as backup. PIETER, ‘SAIL and TOM will talk to THEYDON BOIS about the mind-set of the DWIMMERLAIK.

View
Chapter 6: In the Shadow

I put a spell on you because you’re mine
You better stop the things that you do
I ain’t lyin’, no, I ain’t lyin’

— Nina Simone


Ben: Rough (to say the least) notes from this week
C: adding in extra detail from my notes, will be doing sporadic saves, will bookmark how far through I’ve got!

Chapter 6:

The four are ushered into the receiving room, to see a desk. with a high-backed chair turned away from them. As they enter, the chair turns, revealing a Dwimmerlaik – one horn intact, the other cracked, that side of his face scarred. Like the humans of the city, his eyes are slit-pupilled, red-hued – draconic. As he speaks, steam (or perhaps smoke) emanates from his jaws.

“What are you doing, bringing a weapon of war here?” he asks.

Sail and Pieter ask in tandem, What weapon?

He gazes at the four of them, assessing. “That ship, the Spearship!”

Nyx steps in to reassure, “We’re travellers…” – but Sail and the Dwimmerlaik have already locked eyes. It’s unclear who starts it, but both continue – the psychic conflict between them is immediately visible – Sail staggers to one knee, while the Dwimmerlaik gasps and steadies himself against the desk; the balance in skill leaving each unwilling, or perhaps unable, to either overpower or break away.

Tom lays a hand on Sail’s shoulder – asking whether she’s OK, and taking the opportunity to raise an Umbral defence around her. Pieter lays his hand on his sword hilt, advising the Dwimmerlaik not to try that again, re-iterating that they are travellers.

With their intervention, the Dwimmerlaik shakes himself free of the contact, “You are mostly certainly on a Journey…I apologise. When someone brings one of those here…” he massages his scarred temple & falls silent.

“Bad memories?” (Didn’t catch who asked that, sorry)

The Dwimmerlaik offers wine – stories – introductions, as he stands up and steps out from behind the desk. He is 7" tall, wiry – disturbing. Even to those who are not superstitious, his appearance evokes a primal discomfort – harking back to the devil-myth archetypes found in virtually every world. He pours wine into glasses for both himself & each of them, raising his glass in a toast, “Hospitality!”

Nyx is untrusting, but accepts the glass of wine. Tom raises his mental defences, while Pieter outright questions the change in tack, “A second ago, you were demanding answers, assulting one of our party – now you are offering wine!? Is this the Dragon City way?”

“I over-reacted. Now I offer hospitality. If you accept then you will be my guest. I am Theydon Bois, Menhir of the Cariach”

They introduce themselves in turn,

“I am Tomascal, a traveller – it is what I have been doing for as long as I can remember.”

“I am Nyx. I am.”

“I am Captain Van de Brauweller.”

(Sail presumably also introducing self, or possibly just massaging own temples & nodding a greeting?)

They all sip a nominal mouthful, upon which Theydon Bois speaks again, “There is now hospitality. Now I am safe from you.”

“Were you ever in any danger?” (sorry, again didn’t catch who asked)

“There have been stirrings – I will have no part in it. I have seen your mark before…” he nods to the bracelet on Tom’s wrist.

“Do tell…” – Tom, smoothly speaking of balance, etc.

Theydon: “I fought in your [Tom’s] war – I will not fight again”

“Where good men do nothing…” – Tom.

Pieter, “Tell us about the War. Why was it fought?” – he again pleads the ‘ignorant traveller’ card, “Discovering only now that this ship is for war…”

Theydon: “You’ve fought wars. Why did you fight?”

Pieter: “I’m a soldier…”

Theydon: “So was I. Once. What is any war for? It was for power, control, dominion. But not for just territory – for reality itself…”

Tom: “So who’s starting it? Everyone says the others…”

Theydon: “This [dragon] was mine, she was the largest of her kind. Together, we rode through the abyss. And we saw the light. And you. And what you were should not be. So, we fought – the Cariach, the Queen, decreed it so. We fought, and you fought, and we died, and we died again…"

Tom replies, suggesting that whoever would make such a decree must surely be mad…

Theydon: “She is our Queen. Our mother. She is eternal, undying…if she calls for war – and she will call, she always calls…”

The group talk over one another with their questions:
“She is mustering the troops, even now?” / “Is she just seeking our eradication?”

Theydon: “Come with me, take a walk through the city…” – he leads them out into the streets.

Tom: “You seem to have found some sort of balance, here in the city…one-sided, maybe though – you are the only one of your kind here…?”

Theydon: “The life of men tends to be short and brutal. Unbelievable to see one of those ships here again…”

He speaks of the battle fought here, long ago – between his dragon and the spear ships. How they crashed into her hide, killing her. How he in turn killed hundreds, in anger and revenge – and then wondered why. Falls silent, implying another path chosen.

The group query this – could matters change so easily, peace be found so quickly?

“Yes, of course” – Theydon admits – “there was fighting in the initial generations – but time passed. Now is it our home.”

Pieter expresses concern about the implications of travelling in a Spearship – “Will we be assumed to be warmongers, that we are an initial assault force? We have no desire to be attacked on our journey…”

Theydon points out that this is assuming they wish to press on – they could stay, There is a place here for the four’s skills…

Tom: “I won’t find my answers here. I’m unwilling to make the same mistakes twice – and until I know what mistakes were made, it’s hard to avoid them…I’m sick and tired of war, of fighting – but I’m unwilling to lie down and die because your people don’t think our should exist. Even if you’re not fighting, they are – there;s got to be another way…”

Theydon: “You have some promise, at least…”

He continues to show them around the city. It houses perhaps two thousand individuals, and is built from bone. The four notes that the city clearly has defences, but does not appear to be on a war footing.

Referring to the draconic characteristics of the citizenry: “It seems to have changed you…” – (sorry, didn’t catch who)

Theydon nods. “We have lived within her bones, eaten of her flesh…it changes people, over time…” he changes the subject, “Will you stay, for a short time? The dignitaries of the city are most keen to meet you. A formal dinner – you can rest, we can re-supply you, perhaps make some trade arrangements…”


Back in Shatterlight, some 3 months earlier…

After a brief return to The Garden – where each takes the opportunity to set pen to paper – Michael and Sylvia begin their travels on the Stair to reach Shatterlight, talking as they go (OoC: More wordcount-heavy between-game emails, which will eventually get uploaded as a separate doc/linked here!)

They move through the castle, (giving their names to the guards as ‘Michael of the Stair’ and ‘Garridan of the Garden’) – reaching the throne room where they find Vala and Dayle.

“What have you done?” – Vala.
“Is this the right place for this conversation?” – Michael, with a glance at their surroundings.

They move to a solarium/ante-chamber, where Garridan asks whether they’re free to talk here (the stresses in her query making it clear she’s talking not only about the privacy of the room, but about Vala/Dayle’s freedom to answer questions). She is assured that “Safe, yes. Free…” – Vala pauses “Promises were made. Terrible things were done. We will find a way…”

In reply to Vala’s questions, Michael explains journey from the Garden to Finisterre – how Nyx and Tom both felt that what was beyond the hidden/overgrown doorway in the Garden was significant. How they had seen the line drawn in the sea, between Gossamer and Shadow – this far and no further.

Michael: “What happened to the Lighthouse?”

Vala: “It was lost into shadow…”

Michael/Garridan: “So, the Lighthouse didn’t cause the separation?”

Vala: “No. we did. We set the boundaries between the two – we set them, we shut Them out, changed things…The beacon of the light, we cast free to shine into the night. We didn’t shift the Gossamer there, we moved it. We expunged them, we changed the rules: we made it a place that the Dwimmerlaik Could Not Be. We blinded the Cariach with light. We used Finisterre and a thousand other worlds…there isn’t just one Finisterre – what you saw…it wasn’t just there. There are an infinite number of Finisterres. We made a place that we and they couldn’t touch.”

Michael and Sylvia continue their questions, asking about the Cariach – is she free once more? What’s changed?

Vala: “Now they can see again. They’ve found something that allows them to step through – this is a cycle: we defend, they counter, defend, counter…”

The two ask about Vala/Dayle’s predecessors. With something of an evasion, Vala confirms, "Oh, it has happened before, we weren’t the first, maybe not even the third…”

Michael, prompting, “…and every time, there’s the Sixth…?”

Vala: “Every time, one remains. The Sixth…I CAN’T. I can’t speak of this, we’re bound by oaths…you’ve got to walk the Mausoleum. Whoever wears the Ouroborus is the one who has done it before…”

Garridan asks, were they forced – or tricked – into taking these oaths? Would they make the same choice again if they could?

Vala looks frustrated, “What point is there to asking that? We cannot re-make our choices!” She pauses, openly weeping, and continues through her tears, “We chose to, we killed – sacrificed – millions, billions! We were, you are, children playing at being Gods, and now the Cariach is stirring, now she can see again…”

She collects herself, “The Cariach – the Queen, the Empress – she cannot come through herself. They cannot come back, we at least ensured that, we we changed the rules. They cannot open the door – but it can be opened from within. By those they corrupt.”

She looks at Garridan. “Your Academy. Something…odd…there. Lucien’s been looking into it.”

Michael continues his questions, seeking confirmation on his theories about Drake’s behaviour on the Ashen Path, his insistence that Michael open the doors. Vala and Dayle confirm – Drake was an assassin, bound by the same oath that they were. Yes, he’d have been bound against opening that door (hence need for Michael). Michael points out that the Doors between the worlds of the Ashen Path had been rearranged. The Dwimmerlaik, they’re told, are unlikely to use Stair (or by implication, have the ability to manipulate Doors?) – they’re scared of it. Therefore – yes, they may have corrupted a Master of the Stair.


Back in the city, +3 months

Trading occurs – barter based, no common currency.

They trade a copy of a map (one of the maps they’ve been making of the region of Shadow they’ve been exploring?) in return for a letter-opener with hilt made from dragonbone – the bone has similarities to gossamer, but it’s not of the stair.

Nyx makes an observation: there is underlying control and order to city.

Moving on to dinner – the four are presented as guests of honour, brought before the council for introduction. They are presented in a wood-lined chamber, beneath a faded banner – on closer inspection, it’s made of a flag, which has Bastianos’ ‘Red Fist’ symbol on it – and is stained with old blood, appearing to have been repeatedly dipped. (NB: Think the wood wasa identified by someone as being re-purposed spars of Spearships?)

The councillors arrive one by one – dressed well, but from piecemeal items of clothing – remnants of old glory, heirloom clothing worn as if it were court regalia:

  • Del-Dechie – thick white beard, aged.
  • Marcello – a young buck in his twenties, swaggering in leather trousers.
  • Sir Le Pont – a naval officer.
  • Renalle – wearing an ornate chain of mixed metal, with a blasted crystal shard at its centre
  • Sir Antonius – military bearing.
  • Lady Katrina von Bach – dowager-lookinh
  • Lady Targon – all the inhabitants of this dragon city have a slightly reptilian look to their eyes – but this woman takes it to a whole other level. Her skin almost scaled, nictating membraneous eyes…
  • Commodore Sinclair – Tall, with an eyepatch & shaven head. Commander of navy.
    [Most influential in bold]

Tom has a sense of recognition at seeing Renalle’s chain: the crystal/glass looks as though perhaps it was from the Lighthouse.

Nyx has the feeling that someone, somewhere here – close, in the room – is the reason she needed to be here.

The councillors are acting very pleased to meet the four – very willing to show off and promote themselves and the city, treating the four as if they are a diplomatic mission. They remain deferential to Theydon Bois. Observing the interactions between the council, it’s clear that Del-Dechie, Renalle & von Bach are the most highly respected/influential.

Tom begins to ask Renalle about the chain he wears – it’s one of office: he is the mayor. Is it old? Oh yes, the chain has been in use since the earliest days of the city. Since the ‘Oath in the banner of blood’.

Tom brushes a finger along the chain, following the different segments – Does it tell a story, he asks, as he does so. As his fingers pass the crystal, he is blinded by light (visible only to him, and to Nyx), as though he had stared into a lighthouse – and stumbles back….

Nyx sees the flash – and can see pinpricks/threads of light passing from the necklace to everyone, and to Theydon Bois, connecting them all. Whether Theydon controls everyone through the necklace; or whether the wearer is controlling everyone including Theydon, isn’t quite clear – but someone here is the puppet master…


On Shatterlight, 3 months earlier, in the Solarium

Garridan says she & Michael will take the long walk in the Mausoleum. First though, she asks Dayle whether she can track the Icons she’s made – specifically, the ones on the Gallowgate Lad. Not without danger…but Dayle is at least able to locate it/identify its bearing roughly enough for them to be confident the Gallowgate Lad is making its way towards ’Sail & co, rather than having disappeared for some othere reason. They continue to talk about the Spearships – the Gallowgate Lad is the oldest existing ship (last one left?).

They ask about the new ship(s) being built in The Garden – Sylvia is concerned that the ship-building could strip the Garden bare. It’s indicated that it wouldn’t be quite that destructive – but it’s warned that Gardens can wither, fade – how does her Garden grow? (Implication that she needs to look into what sustains the Garden, to avoid this?) Dayle reveals that she once had a garden of her own – she found it, and lived there when the rest of her own six turned up – it’s not the same one.

After the two have left:

Dayle: “What do you think they’ll do, when they find what we’ve done?”
Vala: “Probably try to kill us. You should go…”

They embrace & Dayle departs, leaving Vala sitting alone.


[editted to here]

Tom bluffs blindness away as migraine, altering eyes – sight replicated anyway by bracelet – now also sees, feels and hears the threads of light
People here were sworn soldiers to the Bloody Fist (Bastianos) – we dipped the banner in the dragon’s blood to agree peace
Other banners in room are of captains of other ships – Tom buttering up guests with stories using their family names, Nyx notices how this changes social dynamics
Targon, Theydon and Renalle are only connected directly to light
Targon approaches Tom – noted his testing room with tongue – finds him familiar,
Nyx spots Renalle being the controller
Commodore – things out there, darker things moving out there – starts commenting on the rest of the party “why are you with this group?” –TB steps in and joins us (me and Comm) – comments to Comm “You will be missed when you’re gone” Nyx notices thread snap.
Talk to Commodore – blah
Marcello – conversation with him, bring sword down in front, Marcello collapses
Theydon examines and calls end to evening
Sword out – sever link, knocks back Theydon and Renalle – Sail calls “Die”, he collapses and bubbles as body changes form
Theydon’s horn regrows
Tom psychic battle, I sword-sweep to decap, cuts off wrist, Nyx plucks chain, second sweep decap, chain free
Body change reforms, Theydon charges in and stamps on body – calls in guards “take these parts and burn them”
Others stunned
Theydon, less civil – more sense of menace now
“I do have to listen to her – that was the price we paid…I do not want to fight again”
“I can hear her again – from the mountain of skulls to where the dragons are birthing”
“take the shard, hold it to my head” – Tom does so, forming link, offers to return the connection – TB declines
Tom notices that icons return to power and can sense lighthouse

View
Session 5: Mass Indecision

Session 5 – Mass Indecision

_"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich…

That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody’s got this broken feeling
Like their Father or their Dog just died…"

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows {From the wisdom of Tam’s Grand Random Shuffle Typing List}

WARNING – first draft type up – please amend as necessary…. if I missed it I either did not hear right or got entirely the wrong end of the stick…_

GARRIDAN and MICHAEL return.

’SAIL gets icon contact with a pale and knackered looking Sylvia and they are brought back to the GALLOWGATE LAD.

They explain in outline their walkabout. That MICHAEL entered the LABYRINTH leaving Sylvia with an acquaintance of MICHAEL’S who was apparently another masquerading as the man he knew as SHADER. SYLVIA was attacked by a group of what they know now as a corrupted sect inside the Order of the Pillar. She lost a kidney and has been recovering having been saved by MICHAEL.

MICHAEL asks ’SAIL if he can experiment with the doors on the ship and she agrees, He opens the erstwhile mop cupboard door and it now leads to a Volcano. He closes and seals it again, breaking the door somehow.

On seeing the door opened again ’SAIL has a moment of epiphany and then with it the knowledge that she is being hunted.

MICHAEL can feel that there are 12 (11 + ’SAIL) people walking the Stair who are close to ascension and are being tracked by the HOUNDS and PURSUVIANTS . The ascension is what takes places during the call to the LABYRINTH and the trial you undergo there.

MICHAEL confirms what ’SAIL had dreamt of … that the Ship had once been part of a fleet that was destroyed in the War. It is known as a Spearship.

They both met LUCIEN during their walk about, and he said he had been released from the Oaths of the Order of the Star as he was no longer needed. He offered SYLVIA the gauntlet he owned and the Seat of the ACADEMY. She has taken time to think about it… but is not keen as she has been released from her oathes by LUCIEN.

SYLVIA and MICHAEL also speak of the Sixth, he apparently is always fighting, and losing the war – and that he reincarnates to do so. That this is the path of the cycle.

The Question of What to Do??!!

MICHAEL raises the point that his Order have been infiltrated by the DWIMMERLAIK, a small cabal in the upper echelons … and that this is worth taking out, especially as they have a Library that pre-dates the war.

He also raises the point that we should give the 11 who are being hunted some kind of respite on a distant world or perhaps on the Ship as it’s moving and harder for the HOUNDS to track.

PIETER raises the idea of trapping and seeing if we can actually take on the HOUNDS and the PURSUVIANTS.

SYLVIA wishes to return to the GARDEN and ‘secure’ it somehow; and MICHAEL too wants to go back and seal some of the doors to the GARDEN.

TOMASCAL wishes to find FINESTERE and the LIGHTHOUSE.

There is much indecision.
It is finally agreed to go to the GARDEN and perhaps set up a trap for the HOUNDS using ’SAIL as bait. No one is wild about the idea.

There is much indecision on whether it is worth using the GARDEN as it resists the HOUNDS and PURSUVIANTS. PIETER points out we would not know if it was us or the GARDEN that bested them if we did work out how to use NYX’s knowledge she gained testing the remains of the PURSUVIANTS PIETER brought back from the ASHEN PATH.

’SAIL opens a portal to the GARDEN with the respect that at least SYLVIA and MICHAEL can do their tasks… and that perhaps we should go with what is most pressing… though there is no consensus.

In the GARDEN.

The GARDEN is co-locating in a number of positions… is not on the Stairs, but it is – its cheating. Its currently about 2/3rds the size of the GALLOWGATE LAD and a kind of diorama of a world with a sun and Moon circling this block of land, which is currently a mass of thorns. The thorns clear as SYLVIA looks down to the land.

The wood of the trees in the GARDEN look very similar to the wood of the ship and the SERVITORS. ’SAIL asks them if they are the same, the SERVITOR ties a shank knot; she takes this to mean YES, they are tied in a fundamental way.

SYLVIA and MICHAEL learnt from LUCIEN that the Garden was one of many. That they were places of Ideas, which bore fruit that eventually ‘grew’ into new worlds. The trees in the GARDEN are in fruit.

’SAIL is asked if she can identify doors that worry her. She points out two, and MICHAEL finds a safe door. He shows her how to open it. She does and it goes to her home world. On seeing it ’SAIL realises that she can never go home, and that she does not want to. She makes the Epiphany with “Well that is shit!”.

She closes the door and MICHAEL releases the location it leads to has changed. The door as it was is no longer needed. He gets her to open the door again, it leads to a places that is almost, but not entirely quite unlike Hobbiton .

MICHAEL asks ’SAIL if she wants him to keep the HOUNDS from her. She says yes, emphatically so.

SYLVIA says she is just going off to look at the Sundial.

NYX and ’SAIL talk, neither are convinced of the necessity or profit in hunting the HOUNDS. ’SAIL asks NYX what she thinks they should do and she outlines looking for areas of incursion and dealing with them… its what we should be doing. ’SAIL agrees, she has been listening to gossip, trying to identify persons who the gossip is coming from, who could know more than they should from the official histories… she thinks it might be a good idea to find out more from other sources before taking on anything as big as the possibilities before them now.

TOMASCAL, PIETER and ’SAIL discuss the merits of looking for incursion points and seeing if we can find a better way to deal with them, based on the theory that ’SAIL proposed to broken channels being exploited by the DWIMMERLAIK in areas where the boundaries between our realities are weak. TOMASCAL and PIETER point out that they are going to have to face the dogs one way or another… and if we go and do anything else we will end up facing them less prepared. ’SAIL agrees.

At that point everyone notices a large dome of ivy has grown in the area that SYLVIA walked into… they go to the dome in no state of surprise at all that SYLVIA has managed to walk head first into something.

Outside the dome it grows dark and stars come out. MICHAEL does not like it much and NYX works out that dawn will come, the night is young. ’SAIL lights the area. There is much facepalming as they wait for SYLVIA to emerge.

Finally a door opens into the dome and a voice floats out “beware there are dragons” and SYLVIA emerges. She was apparently asked by the GARDEN construct to claim the world and shape it… make it a world…

So she gave it Stars, a Water Cycle (MICHAEL finds himself stood in a Brook that was not there before) and some mountains. Inside the dome softly glowing fruit have appeared. The Garden does indeed appears to be birthing world’s as LUCIEN told.

The SERVITORS leave the GALLOWGATE LAD and start cutting down the trees. ’SAIL looks at SYLVIA with despair… after some toing and froing with a piece of paper between ’SAIL and the SERVITORS it appears they are building another Spearship and the SERVITORS for it. 20 SERVITORS are needed to make one ship… it appears they will be some weeks.

In the meantime the OUROBOROS wakes and starts pointing… TOMASCAL goes up into the GALLOWGATE LAD again and sees THE LIGHTHOUSE. The group go up as he calls to them and see the LIGHTHOUSE as well… then the OUROBOROS starts to point downwards and the LIGHTHOUSE fades… it points towards a Monolith, a door.

There is much indecision as to whether they should go through the door, but both TOMASCAL and NYX feel that this is a path they should and want to follow. MICHAEL opens the door knowing it to be a dangerous place, a fated place – and which also appears to be warded in such a way as to make people ‘forget’ it, unless they were trying hard to find it. They pass through the door….after a lot of toing and froing and gathering of supplies.

FINESTERE

They arrive in a world devoid of life. A blasted city, like some kind of dead Alexandria. TOMASCAL and NYX know the place, it is FINESTERE… the place of the final battle. The corpses there are mummified, there is no decay here… there is no life here at all. There is a sense this world has been amputated from life…

There is no sign of the LIGHTHOUSE, but TOMASCAL starts to follow his memories down to a shore that seems to end in utter void… darkness, the darkness beyond.

NYX and ‘SAIL attune their psyche to the world as they walk through the blasted city. There are giant war machines of every imagining and also the remains of House-sized Leviathans and the dead are both human and Dwimmerlaik. The dead number in the thousands, thousands upon thousands.’SAIL is shocked at the remains of children on a battlefield- but the LIGHTHOUSE was supposed to provide safety, and the end was fast. It is clear from the fighting that the main battle was outside of the city, pushing towards the LIGHTHOUSE.

’SAIL notices that the skittering and moving shadows are actually ghosts, trying to grab onto their own shadows… they want life. She brings up a ward around the group and sets a light to places their shadows directly below them…. and tells all to stay close to her.

They see the tattered remnants of BASTINIOS’S flag… ’SAIL and NYX start to her the ghosts and smell something like flint… TOMASCAL starts to whistle and old marching tune… the ghosts start to echo it… feeling their rage at being sacrificed ’SAIL tries to talk to TOMASCAL to get him to stop… but he continues and they echo him.

As they approach the seafront a ghost calls out that they are going the wrong way. ’SAIL explains the situation to TOMASCAL asking him if he is sure of his memory. They follow the ghosts direction to a row boat on what was once a pleasure beach of some kind.

There is the question of whether to take the boat and what state it is in. ’SAIL suggests that she call the GALLOWGATE LAD. TOMASCAL asks NYX if they should take the row boat out… he believes the LIGHTHOUSE to be out there. NYX agrees they should go out there…

TOMASCAL hearts the voice of a ghost… and appears to have a conversation with it. He explains that as far as the ghost knows the LIGHTHOUSE was a defence mechanism that was corrupted by the DWIMMERLAIK into being a weapon… a weapon that ended the war… TOMASCAL asks NYX again what they should do. She think they should go.

There is only space for 4 on the boat. ‘SAIL and PIETER join NYX and TOMASCAL on the boat. As they leave they hear VARLA’S trumpets…


VARLA’S is horrendously annoyed… and on the beach questions MICHAEL and SYLVIA as to why they did not just ask if they wished to know the answers to the questions that brought them here… they point out that it was far from clear that such things were possible.

VARLA is clearly excised that they have gone into the darkness in a tiny row boat when they had the GALLOWGATE LAD, and that they took DRAKES sword in, which is a violation of the peace treaty that was drawn up in FINESTERE.

She argues MICHAEL and SYLVIA into returning with her to SHATTERLIGHT and walking the MAUSOLEUM as TOMASCAL did, as there are things they need to know.


In the Darkness

’SAIL feels her sorcery leaching and the others feel the lack of any other powers…. she uses the last of her power to call out to the GALLOWGATE LAD. A day later the ship finds them and they board.

They sail out for three months into the void – accompanied by ’SAIL’S cyclical rant that they are going to far too soon. TOMASCAL argues that this is a an adventure PIETER says that they have already set out on the PATH… besides they do not know how to get back.

It takes them 6 weeks to attune to the darkness and ’SAIL to regain the use of her sorcery. About the same time to learn to use the charts on the ship that show the darkness. ’SAIL and NYX work on the charts.

It’s three months at least before they can make any contact with the Group through sorcery.

They learn to feel and work with the shifts and eddies of the darkness… they spot remains and debris in the darkness…

Around 2 months in they see a lot of floating lights in the distance.

Two of the lights come out to them… they turn out to be little Shifs they hail the GALLOWGATE LAD, wondering if we are lost. They are denizens of E’DRIGOTH… they are the descendants of the survivors of the Great War… and they live on the remains of a dragon carcass in a city.

They follows the Shifs back to the city… it is clear a 1000 people or so live on the remains. They are very pale and have made their city, their everything, from the remains of the dragon. Their eyes are almost reptilian slits.

They are welcomed by the dockmaster, the city is a free trading post and they are welcome to come and trade. Our dock fees are waived because it’s our first visit and the GOVERNOR wishes to see us….

They are taken by a rickety elevator to the the head of the dragon, and there in a Throne room in the skull, against the giant stain glassed windowed eyes of the dead leviathan is a high backed chair. It turns to them… and they see a DWIMMERLAIK.
“I am THEYDON BOIS, this is my Dragon. You will explain why you brought a weapon of War here.”

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Letter to Sail
Hi Mum, just stepping out on an errand..

OOC note: This precedes ‘Corvus…’ and Silver and Grey – and once more proves that Garridan should never be allowed to say anything as innocently dangerous as (paraphrased) ‘Hey, I think a few days solo would be healthy…need to heal, doncha know…’ — Yes, while the doc may not have hit Tam’s inbox until after our minigame, I assure you that that bit was all already written beforehand – I was just trying to unravel the last bits of IC plot post-mortems into something approaching coherency before sending!!

DaveW:- IC beliefs follow the horizontal rule half way down, with helpful headings – some of these may since have been updated, and if so we’ll discuss those IC at the game – but this is what they were when we split off from the group, and what ‘Sail was advised of IC! Above that line it’s largely IC fluff, but does summarise conversations that either happened at the game quietly or subsequently over email.


IC: Letter slid under ’Sail’s door prior to Michael & Garridan’s departure / handed over in person as she sees them off, depending on whether she’s awake. The script is a close approximation to the common cursive one that ’Sail’s seen on the letters Michael’s written to Sylvia (and, thinking about it, that Sylvia used when writing down her oaths for the two of them to read). However, while it starts in the classic cursive, it rapidly morphs into a rather more angular/black-letter variant – still readable, but obviously written by someone who isn’t writing in their own native script – and whose native script is angular rather than curved. (I’m pretty sure ‘Sail had seen Sylv’s journals in the garden anyway – she uses a runic script)


’Sail,

I’m going to travel with Michael to find his Labyrinth. I don’t think I’ll be permitted to walk it with him, it’s a mystery of the Stair-walkers, but if I can get him into the entrance safely, that will be something.

He’s driving himself into close to a trance-state through lack of sleep, getting the focus he needs for this, and I can only take on trust that that’s the right thing to do. No, focus isn’t the right word – it’s almost the opposite. I think he’s sort of doing what you were threatening to do with your deck in Shatterlight. Un-focusing, ready to see things in a new light. As I’ve told him – the Stair may be a guide and a friend to him, but from what he’s explained to me, it’s testing him – it’s not going to stop him fainting flat out mid-journey, or someone cutting his throat if he’s crashed out in a corner somewhere. That’s for rather more practical and less metaphysical friends to do.

Plus, he and I need time to get comfortable together again, after what’s happened since he came back from travelling with Drake. We’ve talked, a lot, tonight, and we’re getting there, I hope. You could probably bang our heads together and speed that up – but I need to go with him, he needs to go now – so we’ll have to figure this out by ourselves, and in the long run that’s probably healthier, that whole teach-a-man-to-fish thing. And yes, we’re probably both rather more broken souls than we realised – or at least, than I realised – I think he’s well-aware of his scars and hides them well, and mine are probably more obvious to everyone else other than to me – but hopefully, we can help each other heal.

When I get back – and I’ll be getting back alone, ‘Sail, there’s another place he has to go after this Labyrinth, a worse place – we must talk about getting me free from these oaths. Both Tom and Michael have tried to get me to consider whether some of this might not be as much oath- as belief-based, but honestly I wouldn’t know, it all started too young. Just tell me what to do. Please…

…No. That was a very telling phrasing, and it’s not what is required. Advise me on what can be done. I do need it done, I do want it done – but at the far end, it’s got to be me NOT being told what to do any more, not being required to do as I’m told any more, hasn’t it.

I lied, there, I realise. Michael’s not the only one knowingly hiding the broken bits. I can and do buckle up the metaphorical armour and hide the wounds as well. I better tell you, because Tom is a closeted cove and he won’t, but you need to know – I asked Tom the other night whether he would agree to cut my icon-tattoos from me. I know they are no different from the icons in the map room, save that I wear them on my skin, but I need to be free, I need to be clean of this. And I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

Yes, I was in a dark place, I wanted him to stop blaming Michael for shooting that family, I turned his disgust and disdain onto me instead. Talked about being able to put my oath siblings and my cadre – all of whom I bear tattoos of – in touch with each other, by sending letters containing the tattoos across to them, give them enough info to let them decide whether to choose to try and free themselves from their own oaths; encourage them to destroy their own tattoos of me. He saw straight through me, or maybe it just sounded silly to someone who can just replicate icons – realised straight away that I was offering him my own flesh and a blade in an attempt to appease what I had done to him, decades ago. It was a stupid thought, I know that now. He looked at me like I was a fucking savage. He thinks Michael is too like Bastianos. I don’t think he even gives me that much credit. He is not Lutheran any more…there was still some spark of that man I once knew, when we first saw them through the stone gateway from the Garden – but he has been a stranger ever since he returned from Shatterlight. Lutheran may as well have physically died at my hand, in that cell.

And now Michael…no. That is not mine to tell. If he has told you what he intends after the Labyrinth, then you know my heart is breaking, but we have talked all night and I cannot dissuade him. I only hope it is worth it. I will be there when I am needed to bring him home – and Tree have mercy on his tormentors if they get in my way, for they will have none from me.

But first, we are going to the Labyrinth. Where there must be no blood letting. Like I say, I doubt I’ll be permitted entry. It’s not my mystery, and I doubt I’m its type. Hopefully it’ll let me down gently on that.

Still, the road will give Michael and me some time together. I have been a fucking fool to let his guilt over that family’s deaths fester all week – I defended his actions to Tom, to Pieter, and not to him. Not just the festering guilt over that either – he’d tried to kill me, the night after he got back from the Ashen Path. Did Nyx tell you?

It wasn’t him, ’Sail – I shook him awake out of a nightmare, he was hag-ridden and knew me not – tried to throttle me, grabbed a bottle and broke it, would have stabbed me…Nyx was at the doorway. I had to kick and punch at him, push him away – the first the poor boy knew of it was looking at his own thumbprints on my neck, his feet all cut up by glass he had no memory of breaking – and I saw the shock and horror in his eyes, and all I could do was nod dumbly when he offered to sleep elsewhere.

And then in the morning, we acted like nothing had happened, bickered like children because we had no idea how to be adults with one another anymore – and went to Terminus, and saw what happens when people throw please-this-any-price-this-only-let-us-have-our-desire out into the universe, and the wrong thing hears.

Can you blame us, then, for spending a week with a wall between us, still seeing the bricks at the end of the world fall away into nothing?

But I couldn’t let him go without trying, ‘Sail. So I wrote a note, and he wrote a note, and then we talked. Most of the night. Drank from tin cups, with everything sharp tied down or locked away just to be safe, as if the room itself was about to pass through some great storm. And he remains my very dear friend, and we are both more than a little devoted to each other, crazy enough to keep trying to make this – whatever this is – work. And we are both fucking furious about things in one another’s pasts that the other shrugs and accepts as part of the way the world works. So it’s all back to front, and upside down – and one day, in between the bizarreness of being able to talk tactics, and languages, and alchemy, and oh so much more without a moment’s pause; between blushing and stammering at each other like damn teenagers in private when feelings are accidentally touched upon, while sword fighting and smart-talking in public; between worrying about chasing labyrinths and breaking oaths – one day, he and I might actually manage to go for dinner together, and see where things go from there. Apparently there’s fish on the menu. Apparently I might even dress to impress.

Apparently I am actually sufficiently bonkers over this man to consider a promised fish supper an invitation worth striving for and building on – as opposed to an irritating obstacle standing in the way of my usual habit of getting laid as quickly as possible. Weird, huh?

This Labyrinth may change him, as the mausoleum did Tom – and losing my oaths may change me – but the sooner it is done, the sooner we can know what we are to ourselves, to one another.

I know it’s selfish to ask, ‘Sail – but please, just get me out of these things. Get Tom to help, if you need to – I know he despises me, and I know I’ll end up in hock to him for it, but it sounds like he knows something that will help. I did try to ask him myself – but then it all got twisted and I asked him about the tattoo aspect. It wasn’t just me being wantonly self-destructive: I think I thought for a moment that maybe you would be able to use what I was asking him to do as a focus for your stuff – or at least, that the pain would be sufficient to distract me, to prevent me instinctively counter-casting defensively.

Anyway. I am being a maudlin twit, and dawn is coming. I didn’t intend to write half that – it’s probably useful for you to know – but it’s indulgent twaddle as well. Blame not having access to a confessor as well, I suspect. I will need to get used to that.

What I meant to say was – put two warriors such as Michael and me in a room together when there’s certain bits of conversation they are desperately avoiding – and they’ll actually end up mulling over things that might turn out to be tactically useful, and I should give you a summary of those ideas before we hit the road. (I shouldn’t have said that, there’s every danger you’ll consider it worthwhile to keep us teetering on the edge of an argument to keep us honed….joking!)

So here goes. Sorry it this meanders.


Pursuivants/Hounds are after me. Will have to go walkabout sometimes.

The things that have been chasing Michael for years – the Pursuivants, and their Hounds – have got my scent now as well. I may have forgotten to mention that to other people – I had a suspicion that that’s what it was, as soon as I stopped dealing with that hound that had its teeth in him, and I started feeling hunted – but I had to project what I was feeling to him, see if he recognised it – and I didn’t want to do so with everyone else there, in case he blamed himself, which of course he did. Sorry if that just looked like I was bearing him off to the bathroom with intent. Well, there was intent, but it wasn’t the randy one it looked like. They use Doors and the stair rather than Portals, so I should be able to outrun them far more comfortably than Michael has been to date – but it does mean I may need to go walkabout for a while if you want to moor up in one place for too long. Does solve any temptation on my part to go running home though, so silver linings.

They could be after other people too – please find out

Can’t be totally sure how they got Michael’s scent to start with – I’ve got a theory on that – but he reckons from what Drake said that they were originally – bred? re-made? – to hunt down Dwimmerlaik and those associated with/influenced by them; and have since got twisted in purpose to the extent that they now go after ANYTHING that’s had any contact with GoatyMcGoatFeatures. Assuming we can trust anything Drake’s up to – also see below.

Which, fair enough for them to sic themselves on me – we saw that Dwimmerlaik in the Caldera; Luth -Tom reckoned he saw another one in the chamber where he was put to the question on Edifice years back, and I was there as well – but if that’s all it takes, it wouldn’t JUST be me. The rest of you have had just as much contact as that – Pieter in particular, given he was travelling with Michael & Drake – find out whether anyone else is feeling the same? It’s an itch between the shoulder-blades, that feeling of being watched/stalked. Apparently if they get too close it feels like an approaching storm, haven’t had that yet. Other option is it just somehow sensed an existing sympathetic link between me & Michael, and decided that if he was worth hunting, so was I – but if so, the sensation didn’t kick in until the hound & I were in a room together (or possibly til the Icon connection came through from Michael to me – it all happened pretty damn fast and I was a bit busy kicking arse to get all meditative about exactly which second it started).

Drake was being a sneaky fucker

Ignore all the indenture stuff that he was trying to get people thinking about – it may have been important to Pieter & Tom – but in relation to Michael, it was pure flim-flam and chicanery. Just distraction.

Michael spotted that Drake wasn’t opening any of the Doors on the Ashen Path – he’s definitely capable of it, because he was leading the world-hopping til they got there, so he also knew where they were going, but then he made sure Michael was opening all the Doors on the Path. Some of the Doors further into the lattice of worlds held Vala’s/the Order’s seal – but Michael had already opened them in years past, so they weren’t that effectively sealed. They were the same Doors that he’d experienced before – which seems to make a big difference to ease of opening [ 1 ] – but the destination of the Door had changed since he’d last been there. (I’m not sure how long ago, sorry – I forgot to ask him. I guess assume the last 10-12 years, max, since he says he’s about 32 [ 2 ] )

Michael’s theory is that there’s an agreement amongst the Order not to re-open those Doors – ie that Drake was being a lawyering bastard by playing tagalong, and as such, passing through without laying a finger on the sealed Doors. Which brings us to why he’d want to do so – and now we’re really into wild hypothesis country…

I’m pretty sure from what Michael’s described that Drake can do sorcery – as he fell away into Shadow, Pieter threw a witchlight out to him, and apparently Drake reshaped it into an amber bubble around himself. My suspicion is that he was pulling the gossamer around him for protection, petrifying it, making it something that will not be easily broken open – and that potentially, the reason he ‘dropped’ his sword was because he made it part of the spell, that it will be able to be used as a key to release him. Not 100% sure on that – without seeing things as they happened, that could be all out of sync. However, regardless of whether that was what HE did, you and I figuring out a spell that did something like that bubble might not be a bad idea if the ship ends up being sailed out into Shadow – knowing the luck of some of us (OK, mostly me), having something pre-prepared to hold someone safe if they fall overboard, probably not the worst of plans.

Michael said Drake didn’t seem to struggle as the two-head Dwimmerlaik bore him away. I don’t know what to think about that – he could have been conserving his strength, he could have been shamming, he could have wanted to let it take him away to do whatever dodgyness he was planning, he could have decided to switch sides…it’s all just speculation. I’m just putting it out there so you can have a think about it.

The question keeps coming back to – did he already know that there was a weakness through to Shadow in that chamber, and did he always intend to go from there into Shadow to do…something…or was it all an epic fuckup that left him improvising?

My gut instinct is he was planning something, maybe even intending on a Shadow excursion – but he wasn’t counting on that Dwimmerlaik being there. Could be totally wrong. On the other hand, if people are going to point from Vala to you, they’re potentially also going to point from Drake to me, so maybe my gut on what he’s playing at isn’t the worst one to go on.

Dwimmerlaik, Shadow, Sorcery

Michael said Shadow was utter nothingness. I don’t think that’s right. It may be to the Gossamer as oil is to water – antithetical, opposing, inclined to stay separate – and we may not have the ability to sense what is there – but it’s not empty. Something else he said – the Dwimmerlaik are known to be able to use various powers, but he didn’t think their sorcery was ‘normal’ sorcery.

And everyone keeps saying they come from the shadows. Not just the Shadow, the shadows.

I’m wondering whether maybe they can use Shadow in their sorcery, as we use gossamer …but if so, they wouldn’t have access to it on a gossamer world – but maybe that’s why they’re always seen lurking in shadows, that they’re using them to access a…watered down?…version of the Shadow? Ah, I’m not explaining this well, sorry. It made sense when I was explaining it last night. That they’re using the shadows as a conduit, straight back to Shadow. Which if they’re fundamentally accessing Shadow itself, rather than the shadows of the world, would potentially mean they had a universal source for their sorcery – rather than needing to attune to each new world. Like I said, into the realms of wild speculation here.

Continuing the thought experiment – if we’re not talking about the Shadow as a lack of gossamer, but as something opposing – maybe there are, or could be, pools of gossamer in the Shadow, just like there are pools of shadow in the Gossamer. That is they can use the lesser shadows to access the Shadow – maybe we could use those hypothetical pools of gossamer to access the Gossamer. That such pools could be…seeded, expanded, spread?

Lots of ‘ifs’. But it would make someone sorcerous disappearing into Shadow with a mobile pool of gossamer make a certain sort of sense.

Drake’s sword

He’s recently renamed it Caliban. It can’t be a coincidence that he’s picked the same name for his sword that Bastianos has for his recruiting man/men.

I think someone said the re-naming was a fortnight ago? That would place it around the time the Garden & Carcossa got cozy, maybe a touch earlier? So, whatever Drake was playing at – he was moving his pieces into place well before the Star Chamber convened.

I think it was said that Caliban finds people for Bastianos – the once-sworn, the ones who have a likelihood to swear…I don’t know exactly. But let’s assume, however it works, that Drake was trying to use re-naming to get his sword to mimic Caliban’s knack. Why would he do that? It’s not like he couldn’t find his sword-brother whenever he wanted to, ask him what was occurring, who he was recruiting…
…so maybe Drake was trying to do some recruiting of his own? Maybe he was trying to get intel on Bastianos’ recruitment drive? Either way, it points towards distrust and covert plays. Maybe someone who understands names and artificing better can make more sense of these ideas.

Seals and how the Pursuivants got Michael’s scent

Sorry, I thought I’d got everything down, but now I re-read and realise I missed this one. I’m wondering whether Vala’s seals on those doors may have had to incorporate some level of Shadow in the seal in order to be effective at locking off the weak-point to Shadow itself beyond. Know thine enemy, and all that.

I think when Michael opened the doors the first time, he got his hands dirty. He wouldn’t have had any reason to recognise what he’d just touched – but it would still have marked him. I think maybe the Pursuivants scented Shadow on him, and came on after.

If it’s something that rubs off that easily seal-to-person, or person-to-person for that matter…well. Might explain why yours truly is looking over her shoulder a lot more.


Ugh. So many damn ideas, and it’s just a grab-bag, and probably half of them are wrong, but if anything goes horribly wrong, it’s better that you have them than they’re stuck sitting in my cooling brain pan.

Tap me through the Icons every couple of days, ‘Sail.

Better to contact me than Michael – while we’re travelling together, reaching me will mean reaching him as well – and once we’re separated, it will mean he’s in the Labyrinth, and who knows whether Icons will work in there anyway.

There’s no point doing so more often than that – I’m a big girl, I’m well used to bouncing around strange worlds with a pack and a sword on my own, and I’m more than capable of finding somewhere comfy to hole up once I am ready to come back, until the next call comes from you – it’s just that I haven’t got an icon of those of you on the ship as yet, so I can’t easily get back to the ship without a pick-up. There’s no point you mooring up in one place waiting for me when I don’t know how long this will take!

Sylv

[ 1 ] As far as I can tell, it’s akin to you and I having visited a world before & being able to key into the sorcery. Leads to interesting theoretical considerations about whether a Door is the unique product of the worlds to either side, magically speaking – although if one side opens onto the Stair, is that a world as such? And does it have consistent gossamer sorcery all the way up/down? Sorry, that’s got nothing to do with tactics right now, just interesting ideas that I couldn’t really handwave with Michael because he doesn’t do sorcery. I really wish I’d been there with him to look at this stuff, trying to decipher it second hand is a pig. If I have the opportunity to discover anything further about how sorcery works on the Stair on this latest excursion, I’ll be sure and let you know.

[ 2 ] Yes that means I was already walking the worlds when he was born, and I have a nephew a decade older than him. Shut it.

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Game 4: The calm before the storm
Session 4

WARNING – This has had no editing bar a cursory spell check. It got typed up on the train and whacked up here…. please feel free to edit and add bits… and check I was not sleeping through bits.

“I know I ask too much of you,
and I am pushing you away.

I’ve got nothing to say to her ghost, hoping she’ll fade away
I’ve got nothing to say to her ghost, let us not live this way.

Take your words and put them in my mouth, help me say the things that never come out.
I forgive you.
So afraid I’m scared you’ll walk away.
Eyes are tired, but I am wide awake.
I forget you."

Woman’s Hour – Her Ghost – had it playing on my phone – seemed apt.


Enroute to The Dynastic world of URAH, The Library of the Arch Magi of the Sea Elves

*Michael and Pieter Return: The Destruction of the Pursuivant Remains
*Tomascal returns: The Lantern is created
*Aftermaths and Screams in the Night

GARRIDAN receives icon contact from MICHAEL that ends her vigil in the Library of THE GALLOWAY LAD. The icon shows a disintegrating skewed and wrong version of the Star Chamber… in the receding darkness of the nothing beyond the falling chamber is a pin prick of light. She pulls through a disheveled and ash covered MICHAEL and PIETER who is clutching a sack full of undulating parts.

They are being attacked by a large hound, that GARRIDAN beats down with her sword. MICHAEL promptly flumps to the floor declaring the undying need for a bath (explains that they’ve been travelling through radioactive/poisonous lands), and he is led to the Ship’s bathroom by GARRIDAN.

Meanwhile PIETER requests a heavy chest. ’SAIL and NYX accompany him to the WORKSHOP and the bag is dumped into a heavy chest. ’SAIL and NYX ask what is squirming in the bag and he describes the PURSUVIANTS that he and MICHAEL set out after with DRAKE. They apparently can reform themselves from any state. PIETER grabs a hammer off the workbench and starts to pulverise the sack. ’SAIL casts a stasis ward over the bag and interior of the chest. But its clear the only effect of the spell is to slow the regeneration from minutes to hours. PIETER remarks there is more than one of them in the bag.

NYX takes a small part of the remains and investigates it. It appears to be a corrupted form of Umbra. She tests light effects on it and understands that its the point of ignition that actually damages the remains. The three of them wonder what to do with the rest of the remnants and NYX suggests dumping them into a Star… though that is a dangerous course at best. She tests again and manages to incinerate the remnants, and this does indeed ‘kill’ it, turning it to noxious ash.

’SAIL and NYX incinerate the remnants in their entirety, seal the ash in the chest and ’SAIL promptly opens a random portal and throws the remains through it.

TOMASCAL makes icon contact with ’SAIL and she feels the pull of the call and goes into the MAP ROOM to answer it. She does not recognise the man that she sees, except that it feels not entirely unlike TOMASCAL.

He is physically changed, taller – seemingly of Egyptian (Middle Eastern?) descent, dark skin and hair, with a regal bearing and dress… he seems very full of himself. She can see his things and the OUROBOROS that is still attached to him… ’SAIL is fairly sure it is him but wary. He explains that this is the seeming that he had to take to survive what turned out to be a trial to reach the tomb of the 6th member of the ORDER OF THE STAR. They severely underplayed how difficult the pilgrimage would be.

For securities sake she asks if he would allow Psychic contact to confirm it is him in there. He relents… and ’SAIL not for the first time wonders how he lives with such a mind… its definately TOMASCAL. She relaxes, and remarks that she quite likes the change in him. He takes it as a compliment.

TOMASCAL asks ’SAILs aid in creating a LANTERN that he has started to construct. He can give it form and understands what it should be, but does not have the formality of power to tie it together. He needs a sourcerer. He explains at length to ’SAIL how it works and she wraps her head around what he is creating. THE LANTERN is essentially a device that detects ’The Darkness" (how he defines the nothing-shadow that the DWIMMERLAIK come from)… powered by Umbra, it should essentially cycle the power in order to provide not only detection, but in some way early warning of the encroaching Darkness. He would also like it to Ward against the Dark, providing protection in the form of ethereal light. ’SAIL suggests adding wards as well should it detect it. She agrees to aid him, his request being time consuming but not, too her mind overly complex.

PIETER, NYX, GARRIDAN and MICHAEL join them in the MAP ROOM. TOMASCAL explains to everyone what he saw on his Quest to the Tomb of the 6th which he previously recounted to ‘SAIL. As he walked the catacombs he saw the battles that were started by BASTINIOS and then overtime taken up by VALA. He explains that they ’threw’ millions of lives into the Darkness in their attempts which were born in the desire for conquest and then moved onto the battle with the Darkness. They created living, organic ‘monstrosities’ in order to win, and seemed not to mind the consequences of such actions.

The carvings he saw on the worlds told a bloody history some 5000 years long. It was clear to TOMASCAL that the pilgrimage was far more a trial than anything else. There were many footprints he walked in… many bodies. It is clear that many had died on this journey. He was attacked by things he named ‘constructs’. He was not certain if they were DWIMMERLAIK or not, but they bared a resemblance. He reached the end of the catacombs and learnt the name of the 6th, but he cannot say it – its so powerfully warded.

MICHAEL explains that DRAKE lied to them as they journeyed the ASHEN PATH looking for the things that chased him, that DRAKE named as PURSUVIANTS. ‘SAIL asks how he knew DRAKE was lying and he explains that his words directly contradicted what they all declared true in the Star Chamber. He said that he, not the 6th had a hand in the construction of the PERSUVIANTS and that he had lost control of them. The lie was blatant that MICHAEL felt that DRAKE was being deliberate… making a point of the lie. The group discuss what this could mean, but to what end he lied, and why its not clear. MICHAEL recounts their 10 days crossing the desolation of the ASHEN PATH till they reached the warped Star Chamber. He retells the tale that PIETER earlier explained to NYX and ’SAIL… that as they travelled PERSUVVIANT HOUNDS crossed their path and DRAKE put them down with a command word, that when they arrived at the Skewed Star Chamber that they were set upon by the creatures and that DRAKE was snatched by a giant two headed goat. ’SAIL recognises the description from her research in the Ship’s library as a form of the giant 2 headed DWIMMERLAIK. PIETER threw DRAKE a light of some form and DRAKE used it to encase himself in Amber…

As DRAKE was snatched he ‘dropped’ his Sword. MICHAEL is skeptical of this ‘accidental’ loss… that it is in someway still bound to DRAKE and will aid him. ’SAIL argues that its perfectly natural to drop your sword when you are being snatched by a giant monster… MICHAEL adheres to the view that DRAKE may have made some kind of pact with the Darkness. ’SAIL doubts it but keeps her peace.

TOMASCAL investigates DRAKES SWORD. It is in some kind of chrysalis – apparently waiting. It was made by Drake and has had many names, many forms. It is currently called CALIBAN but 2 weeks ago it was called Lucy. It is currently unclaimed and has no connection to DRAKE, who is for all intense purposes dead. PIETER and TOMASCAL discuss the relative merits and possible pitfalls of PIETER claiming the sword and its eventually mooted to simply try and invoke the blade by its name.

PIETER takes the direct approach “Caliban awake thee!” and then bashes it on the Map Room table three times… on the third time the Chrysalis shatters… and PIETER cuts the Map Room Table in half – much to ’SAIL’s annoyance and the general amusement of the others. It appears the Sword will take any form PIETER imagines, and he now holds some kind of monomolecular chain sword (at least that is what I heard the GM describe!)…

NYX and ‘SAIL answer MICHAELS’s questions at to what happens to the PURSUIVANT remains, and he seems very relieved at their reply.

Given the nature of the discussion MICHAEL asks GARRIDAN to leave as she is oath bound to report what they speak of. She does.

TOMASCAL asks to experience MICHAEL’S quest and they link Psychically (not how I recall it all, I understood it to be a hand wave to not go over stuff in real time again. I really wouldn’t have let loon anywhere near my mind, Dave). MICHAEL points out that the door to the Skewed Star Chamber was sealed shut by VALA with her seal, and as such he should not have been able to open that door as he did so 25 years ago… and yet he did open that door, and he is sure of it… it still bore her seal. There is the suggestion by MICHAEL that they were able to make doors… and no one has a good suggestion as to why all those years ago he was able to open the door at all.

MICHAEL and GARRIDAN are beyond knackered and they retire to bed, to sleep.

PIETER says that the PURSUIVANTS have a collective knowledge – which startles the hell out of TOMASCAL and ’SAIL who are half way to warding the ship and back before PIETER can finish explaining. DRAKE said they could share knowledge if they needed to, but given that they have chopped up their trail and that they were busy reforming, it is unlikely that they would be tracking them now. ’SAIL also points out that massive wards are not such a great idea anyway… PIETER summarizes it well… like walking into a room in full plate… it attracts attention and questions… and does not incur trust.

’SAIL and TOMASCAL discuss using THE LANTERN as a early warning system. Tom notes, and ’Sail remembers she meant to ask… because the filigree work on the Lantern, and on the Ship and on the OUROBORUS are all similar… well they seem more similar to ’Sail. Tom points out that they are reminiscent and shows her the differences (she tries to see, but has little skill too) he reassures her they are more different, and reminds him of his Masters work, but he does not recognise the ship work as such.

They work on the Lantern through the night… ‘SAIL adds some extra wards that are Lynchpined on the Lantern’s response… when it powers through it will erect a ward vs Darkness around the Ship or the holder of the Lantern.

During the night Michael starts tossing and turning in distress, leading Garridan to try and shake him awake. He reacts instinctively to the threat, grabbing his attacker by the throat, choking the breath from her, and grabbing for whatever weapon he can find – an empty wine bottle, which he knocks against the bed frame to break. Garridan realises that Michael isn’t fully awake – he doesn’t seem to recognise her. There is an abortive moment where she considers trying to reach his mind, then realises he will be able to stab at her with the bottle, or throttle her into unconsciousness, long before she can affect his mind – and she grapples him, kicking and punching until he releases her, stumbling back into the broken glass. The commotion attracts NYX ‘s attention, and shehas no compulsions about entering the room. Garridan is sat on the edge of the bed with heavy bruising around her neck, fists bunched, sucking in desperate lungfuls of air, looking at Michael with combined shock and concern. Michael is standing in the middle of the room, a broken bottle in one hand, surrounded by/standing on shards of the bottle, looking almost like a sleepwalker. He drops the bottle in shock as he ’wakes’ and surveys the scene, and offers to sleep elsewhere, Garridan mutely nodding agreement. During the night, the Ship quietly clears up the smashed glass and mess from the altercation. NYX – and indeed everybody else on the ship leave it well alone. ‘SAIL especially as NYX explained to her earlier what a ’Cockblocking Witch’ actually was…

The Arrival at URAH in the heart of the DYNASTIC WORLDS

*Fishy Japanese Elves
*The Darkness at TERMINUS
*The Black Library

The following morning they arrive at URAH.

GARRIDAN appears to be dealing with the massive water world, and other things by sparring with MICHAEL on the Ship deck. ’SAIL is with NYX watching as the ship docks on one of the outer rings of the Library. ’SAIL is very excited by the idea of a World Library.

They are greeted by a Blue skinned, androgenous bald elf. The The Elf informs them that he’s MASTER ERZ welcomes NYX and the Elves there kneel as one to her. The Library is a massive tower of concentric rings with docking ports and is seemingly an endless cathedral to knowledge – even in the archaic form of books. Everyone follows NYX who warns us that the protocols of this world are strict, so we are to be on our best behaviour.

As they pass through – a nebulous cloud of something imparts degree level Botany on PIETER. ’SAIL learns two languages she has never heard of – and is utterly delighted with such a gift… TOMASCAL however repulses the effect of the Library and can smell nothing but burnt circuits. He explains to ’SAIL that its an artifice of some kind and is most pissed off by the presumption and intrusion of it into his mind.

The Elf asks what they are after and NYX explains they wish to know more of the great war. He says the MASTER wishes to talk to them and with that promptly drops off the edge of platform they are working on. NYX follows promptly… ’SAIL thinks this is immensely fun, but keeps her demeanor and promptly drops down after them. TOMASCAL seems reluctant (as he is not sure it will work for him) but drops down… and MICHAEL and GARRIDAN utterly fail at any decorum, and GARRIDAN almost minces herself on what appears to be a very convenient and easy form of transport lift… MICHAEL grabs her and they make it down in one piece.

They go way down, below the water into a great underwater level, the waters are crystal blue…. they are met with lovely silk Kimonos, sushi and tea… and ’SAIL is officially in love with this planet. An Elf appears who seems to be more regal than the others, if not much older.

MICHAEL and GARRIDAN appear to be squabbling every step of the way (albeit partly over dealing with her dislocated shoulder)… NYX scowls at them, as she has extended herself a lot to get the group access here – and they could well damage her connections here. TOMASCAL points out to ’SAIL and NYX that there is always a price for knowledge, NYX says the price is our good behaviour, at least in part. ’SAIL feels that the prices are worth it… and to be honest not so great as what they are asking.

The more regal elf declines a ornate headress (He is ARCHON URAH KURKH – though this is explained later to ’SAIL by NYX and not very clear at the time, as he is just referred to as THE MASTER) and asks NYX what they wish to know. NYX, MICHAEL, GARRIDAN explain that they are looking for knowledge on the Great War and an independant account from the Star Chamber – an unbiased account. NYX clarifies that they wish to know an independent view of the Great War, as the Elves are impartial holders of such knowledge… and the Master seems satisfied if not a little surprised “You do not ask much do you?”

They are proud of their independence from the Athenaeum (LUCIEN’S network of schools and academies) – and remark on GARRIDAN’s presence (describing her as a member of that body). She offers to leave several times if need be, but they decline. They will only allow NYX to enter the Library, but want the group to deal with the Darkness that has encroached on their world of TERMINUS.

MICHAEL discusses what he knows of the Darkness with the MASTER when he remarks that Michael knows of it but ensures that NYX gets a ‘fair deal’ for the knowledge he can impart. He writes down his accounts for the Library. THE MASTER remarks to NYX that even with this there will still be difficulties for them if DRAKE were to find out – and MICHAEL duly picks this up and trades out the knowledge of DRAKE’S demise. The Master relents with this knowledge saying two of the group can go in to the Library. NYX asks ’SAIL to go with her.

The MASTER points out to ’SAIL that she has seen gods – indeed she needs to wash more as it still on her. ’ SAIL exasperatedly remarks that she must have it printed on her forehead as its the first thing everyone says – and that they are very small Gods of a very distant world – so they cannot harm this place. The MASTER points out he was not being rude, merely that her experiences will colour her perceptions of the Library, and she agrees to try and not let that happen.

Suddenly the MASTER turns to NYX and tells her to effectively run… he questions her sudden emotional attachment to the group as out of character for her… there are protests… but the MASTER is firm that it is out of friendship to her that he gives this advice, even though he knows NYX will do as she will. But NYX feels that this is where she must be, it is necessary.

It is agreed that MICHAEL, GARRIDAN and PIETER will go to TERMINUS and deal with the DARKNESS there.

NYX and ’SAIL will go to the Library to research.

TOMASCAL stays on the ship and in the open areas of the Library, to see if he can find anything useful on TERMINUS and will follow on after the others to Terminus… as he wishes to approach the situation less directly, and maybe he will find out something of import, even if he might also be late.

In the Black Library
NYX & ’SAIL spend a week researching the GREAT WAR and the DWIMMERLAIK

In the Black Library records the GREAT WAR started formally 2000 years ago, even though there is much run up to this. This coincides with these worlds meeting their first stair walker.

All accounts of the Great War are brutal in the extreme (think WWI tactics and sheer shock of all out war for the first time). The “Incursions” are describe alien goat creatures that always emerge from the Shadows.

Plato – a philosopher during the war – describes a universal set of branches of the stair, at the ends of which is ‘The Darkness’ … not entropy, not umbra, not merely shadows… but a cancer like Darkness that is all consuming.

The War is described in terms of ‘Infections’ – if they could not save the world then the ‘infection had to be cut off’ – they lay waste to that which could not be saved.

VALA and BASTIANOS are described taking millions to war in the Earliest days. The Records show that this is all they could… in the early days the only way they knew to fight was to simply throw massive armies at these infections. Its all they could do – WWI tactics.

Later the records show that tactics became more subtle. VALA and BASTIANOS – and many other names – that appear to warded like the name of the 6th, as neither ’SAIL nor NYX can read them… started to use more focused tactics, and a seeming succession of increasingly more dangerous weapons. The war was brutal. It was all they could do.

The first recorded message from the DWIMMERLAIK simply reads “You should not be.” They always came from the edges, from beyond the worlds – from the ends of systems and branches. From ‘The Darkness’ – the same ‘Darkness’ that the Ship has been through, NYX realises that there is no wash of Umbra on the Ship, that it has touched the Darkness… that it has sailed through it.

The Biology, as ‘SAIL has read on the Ship’s library, of the DWIMMERLAIK is non-uniform… no two are the same, there hearts are not in the same place… their organs are different from one individual to the next. This made them extremely hard to fight with any precision.

No one weapon worked well against them – in fact it appears that it was not the power nor the type of weapon that was the best. The Best weapons were the named ones, the ones where the owner had formed a bond with the weapon… named it and imbued it with personal meaning. This suggests that it was the owners will… their control of reality that made the weapon effective against the DWIMMERLAIK.

There were lots of communications from the DWIMMERLAIK, but most of them consisted of themes on death threats. They fought constantly – even at the very end, when they were losing, even when their loss was assured… even when the only victory available to them was Pyrrhic at best- they fought. True fanatics… their motivation to end us… as we are the enemy… that which should not be.

They looked for patterns to the ‘infections’ – always the shadows… always the ends of branches of the stair.

They look at the history before the war – looking for portents to all effects… things that happened as the war approached. Certain symbols appear – ‘The Endless Wheel’, ‘A Broken Blade’, ’Hero archetypes – repeated over many many worlds and cultures… The Symbol of the Rose.

SAIL remembers the zen garden that welded The Garden and Bastianos’s realm together… and the roses she saw in there… the wild fractal rose bush…. but there is no reference to the Roses that she saw – ones that smelt of Silver.

They look at how the Star Chamber came to lead the war against the Darkness – but it was simply because they were the right people in the right place and the strongest, most well resourced and connected at the time.

There is much on the Story of DRAKE – the Assassin and BASTIANOS the General – its a story of archetypes, the enemies who fought together so long they became allies and then friends. Both swore to VARLA early on, because she was so pure, so true, so strong and honourable – a veritable ‘White Queen’.

Back Aboard The Gallowgate Lad

MICHAEL, PIETER, GARRIDAN and TOMASCAL arrive back one day after they set off.
’SAIL and NYX return a week later.

On their return its clear there are tensions between the others. TOMASCAL is unreadable to all… and there is residual resentment between PIETER and MICHAEL. GARRIDAN is at MICHAEL’s side. NYX lets ’SAIL take the lead (thanks Nyx)…

On Terminus it appeared that a family of Elves had not had a child for 300 years… and in their desperation they prayed to a ancestor deity – that apparently in some way resembled TOMASCAL. GARRIDAN emphasises this fact, TOMASCAL denies it was truly him… and calls the icons they saw of him icon identifiers/broken and imperfect links/untrue addresses in counter to GARRIDAN’s clear suspicions/implications.
The prayers to this deity allowed the child to be born. But since the child was born Ash had started to fall on the worlds and reality was starting to break down…. they encountered the child’s father who explained what had happened and took them to the Mother and Child – who were now floating in a tower that was disintegrating in the same way the Skewed Star Chamber had.

TOMASCAL points out that they know nothing else though, becuase when they got there MICHAEL shot the Mother, Baby and Family – and that this ended the troubles… MICHAEL points out to NYX and ‘SAIL that it was the beginning of what he knew came to pass on the Ashen Path. The Lantern however flared after MICHAEL’S actions – and this caused TOMASCAL disquiet – as the Lantern detects Darkness. GARRIDAN is insistent MICHAEL did what had to be done. PIETER argues along with TOMASCAL… he is certainly not in agreement that it was necessary and TOMASCAL reiterates that they know nothing of why it started there or how….

’SAIL suggests that what they found in the Library may be illuminating. Why it happened in TERMINUS logically is the same reason that it happened in the WAR… all incursions came from the ends of the branches on the Stair. ’SAIL starts to explain how – as a logical consequence of what she and NYX discovered about the effectiveness of weapons against the DWIMMERLAIK. If only weapons imbued with the owners will – their ability to change reality affect them – then perhaps it also works in their favour. The woman and husband were clearly distressed enough that their will – their belief in the reality of their ancestor GOD created a link that the Darkness could exploit.

’SAIL carries the speculation onwards – because if that is true – potentially they could avoid another war… all they would have to do is spot cases where belief in a shadow – a broken icon… an imperfect copy – like that they saw of TOMASCAL/NOT TOMASCAL could give them access on a terminal world that borders the darkness. Then all they had to do is stop that link being formed.

GARRIDAN argues that its ridiculous – impossible to stop so many being so desperate – that whole worlds could be that desperate. ‘SAIL tries to explain that they would not necessarily need to do that… but fails to get the point across in the face of Garridan’s insistence – and somewhat loses her temper.

MICHAEL ends it by pointing out its nothing more than a supposition – and ’SAIL lets it go. MICHAEL also points out that both DRAKE and DAYLE have spoken of the War as an Evolution or a Cycle – something that is bound to repeat.

As they break up both MICHAEL and PIETER notice that ‘SAIL seems ready to open a door… he explains to her that she will come with him part way (he has to go to the Labyrinth, and he has things to do) but he will take her through a door… but she is not to do it again until he or Pieter are with her, because bad things will happen… he repeats this with emphasis and ‘SAIL smiles… she is a big girl, when told not to do things because it would be bad… she does not do them, because it would be bad. MICHAEL asks if she can teach this to GARRIDAN… ‘SAIL is not convinced its possible.

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Seeking the next step
(Takes place immediately before Pre game 4, Oppon's pull Oppon's push)

Nyx had come away from the conversation with the impression that Sail hadn’t quite grasped what she meant with her comment “When it comes to it, this time don’t fear what you cannot control.” She’d been referring to the mirror of Vala that Sail was ascending to and the actions that would have to be taken in the future. It was a warning not to make her decisions in the same way Vala did. Perhaps Sail was just playing it safe. Nyx had a letter to write in any case, and after combing over the Gallowgate Lad looking for a suitable writing medium she found some untouched parchment and an inkpen.

Perching on the edge of a stool beside a table that would serve as a desk, she recalled her interactions over time with the Dynastic Worlds. She was going to write to Archon Urah Khurkh himself for permission for the 6 of them to visit the exalted libraries of Urah so that they could research the war without interference from the Order of the Star. She knew how to get to the world of Urah and once there could navigate the ship to the capital Urahbah easily enough; this was about ensuring that they would be expected visitors and treated favourably. The information that the group could offer in return and the chance to speak to sorcerers of different disciplines would likely pique Khurkh’s interest. The Dwimmerlaik threat may well present the Dynastic Worlds with an unpleasent surprise.

She put inkpen to parchment, remembering how to write with liquid ink onto processed animal hide, and began.

To the Pyromaster of the Dynasties, Archmage of Urabah, Archon Urah Khurkh of Urah

Salutations to you Khurkh from an old friend of the Stair. I trust that this letter finds you well, and that Choh Itaoh and Choh Riska have followed their dreams of becoming world-walkers. I apologise for so much time having passed since I last paid a visit to Urah or Choh; I have been on other worlds, busy with other tasks – but those are stories to tell when we meet. You knew me as the waterweaver Enhasa and since then I have stepped between identities as befits my tasks. I am now simply Nyx.

She suspected he wouldn’t be surprised at this but felt it was polite to explain it nonetheless. In particular she hoped the written language she was using was still considered to be proper form across the Dynastic worlds, accounting for their familiarity.

This brings me to the matter of my writing. There are movements from the shadow beyond the realms of the Stair as an ancient vanquished force prepares to return in vengeance. In order to better understand the magnitude of the threat, I need to delve into the history of the War that came before. The Great War. I can think of no better place to search for these answers than the libraries of the magi of Urah. We do not wish to be drawn into the power games of Shatterlight and the Star Chamber, and so I propose an exchange of knowledge and a chance for a social visit at your earliest convenience.

It wasn’t that Lucien’s libraries might be inadequate. Indeed if he held the whole Academy as merely one institution among many then his resources would be hard to match. But this wasn’t about finding the most extensive information source: it was about escaping from the shadow of the Order and keeping out of their control. She didn’t trust Lucien, but she wasn’t sure what he was up to. He’d asked her to do something she was already doing in return for some information she was mildly interested in. She wanted nothing more.

I have with me five others of the Stair; Sail who is a sorceress, Garridan who is a soldier-scholar, Tomascal who walks contrary lives, Michael who explores the Stair and Pieter who does as he pleases. Though we have not known one another long, they would be my responsibility while we visit. The six of us are travelling aboard the Gallowgate Lad, a vessel that flies the skies, sails the waves and traverses the planes provided to us by Dayle of the Order of the Star.

She assumed the Archon could read between the lines and whatever docking they would be directed towards would be sufficiently insulated from remote scrying that might use the ship as a conduit. It was important to clarify that it was not an undersea vessel!

We do not wish to impose ourselves for long, and we have no particular requirements beyond our nature as human land walkers.

I look forward to your reply.

In sincerity,
Nyx

Nyx set down the inkpen upon completion of her signoff, and at the same moment a commotion erupted from the library below. She scooped the letter up and moved with fluid swiftness downstairs to the scene of Michael and Pieter’s entrance.

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Game 3 - Interlude - A Pilgrimage
The Paths of the Dead

As I made my way down the last flight of stairs carved into the rock the wall of the well curving before me with Archimediean precision. The last sconce of flickering flame turned away behind, its warm glow becoming nothing but a glimmer of warmth in the darkness. The stone facing on the walls was cold to the touch and the silence wrapped itself around me like a blanket.

I could hear the echos of my footfalls rebounding off the walls and I knew instantly when I had made the last turn, the sound stretching out into the pitch darkness.
I recall a time when the cthonian darkness was a mind numbing experience, and I would be lying to myself if I claimed it no longer made my heart beat faster. It was however a familiar fear, one I had come to terms with long ago, staring out into the black void hardens your soul to such things.

To taste the void I raised my voice and brought forth a note that rang through the hall, bouncing off the walls that slowly took shape as my eyes adjusted and my other senses opened up to allow for the lack of light. An old song, one I had forgotten till that moment bubbled out of me, the battle hymn of a warband I had been a part of in ages past. Its purpose to raise the spirit, to defy the inevitability of death, to remind us of hearth and home and why it is we fight and die. Time and again.

At this a soft glow formed in the air above my head and light seeped out, just enough to banish the darkness and allow my eyes to make out the cathedral I had entered. Vaulted ceilings soaring above me as the sound of my voice seemed to carry further than the space allowed for, the echos of its return suggesting a larger space than that my eyes could see.

Carved upon the walls of the hall a story is depicted of the forging of “The Lion” throughout the iconography again and again the clenched fist of Bastianos is replayed, leaving no doubt to who it represented.

The lines of figures depicted in the images were familiar to me. I could recall the day they represented. The forces arrayed around me and high on the hill overlooking us all, the Lion, his voice ringing out to the host arrayed before him and the first words that would forge a kingdom, to be carved from the worlds that surrounded our own. The image of a coin pressed into my hand and a burning brand.

Around these images are carved the names of the honored dead, those who died to make the kingdom a reality, the cost in lives beggers the imagination, numbering in the tens of thousands.

As the war progresses shadows come out of the darkness, creatures ink black and terrible, to contest against the rising kingdoms, and then we see the rise of a warrior queen to fight against them and who joins with the raised fist. The queen is depicted weilding a halberd with the six pointed star upon it. I know her, I know Varla.

However a name caught my eye, dusty and forgotton at the foot of the engraving of a titanous beast and as I reached down to rub the accumulated dirt to see the name beneath, my memories ruptured and I recalled.

I recalled we stood upon a vast plane of dust and ash, where creatures huge and small swarmed upon the face of the battlefield. I recall the Titan, magnificent and terrible as it strode across the field crushing all who stood before it. I recall standing spear in hand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and dying, crushed with one swing of its fist. I recall the terror. I recall lying in the dark and the mud feeling the cold seep into my bones and the life blood seeping away. A Lifetime or a moment, it was all one till the darkness came and gathered me up and I knew no more.

As I stepped back from the wall and looked up I could recognise some of the names now, higher upon the wall carved cleverly around the depiction of the titanous beast, felled at the last and at great cost by light cast from the heavens.

There is one exit from the cathedral, above the doorway leading down into the darkness the image of the lion and the red fist standing triumphant is prominant, surrounded by more names of the fallen

However as I stepped through the portal, my voice and light and the sound of my footsteps on stone carried me along in a small sphere of sensation only a handful of steps before and after my passing. If the images and names did not change step by step I could have been forgiven for thinking I was standing still. I progressed along the corridor and the images in the carvings began to take on a darker more sinister and surreal bent as creatures appear and begin to attack the kingdom. Smaller battles but many of them continuing one after the other. The death toll mounts and the number of names continue to rise. And worse, I recognise many of the names, and with them flashes of memory, faces and snatches of conversation. Firelight and ale and laughter. Desperate faces gaunt and blood soaked. Dead eyes and crow pecked faces.

I travel further, an endless march, as time begins to lose meaning the story of the war continues to unfold around me. The smell of death and desperation fills my nose and i can feel the memories packed into the stone of the wall. A haunting tune clashes with my raised voice, the lyrics the faint mocking voices of men and women I knew “Pack up your trouble…..” The cadence jarring, out of time and out of key. In response I warp my song to a more mocking tune, lighter and in discordent harmoney with the voices of my past. They are dead and I am not, and life and light is still something I can understand. As my journey continues on the shades of my past recede and I’m left in peace to read the ongoing story as the tunnels progress deeper into the ground. The six sided star becoming ever more prevelant and the story progresses till it eclipses the Red Hand.

Time and again I brush my hand across a familiar name and I am allowed brief glimpses of a life I led, and a death I endured. To fight and to die repeatedly as the multitudes of my bretheran die around me.

Eventually an imeasurable time later the tunnel comes to an abrupt end and opens up into a room that shines with its own Sapphire light. I feel scratching at the edges of my mind and the slight euphoric probing of a mind against my own. Suddenly with force a domineering voice rings in my mind “Who are you? Why are you here?”
I raise my walls and bring dark glass between me and the creature, slamming down the defenses in my mind. I’m rewarded with a painful flash of my family from the otherside, wracked in pain and dying on the tiles of the watch tower on An’ath Ilnor.
Another pressure from behind (Dayle?) forcing her to ask the questions.

My mind fractures and I am tied to a chair. My feet are in ice cold water looking at myself as Dayle stands before me at a switch connected to the writes that coat my naked flesh. Electric currents flood through my body grounding to the earth and I scream in agony as she asks again. Who are you? Why are you here?
I answer myself as honestly as I can, “I search for the name of the sixth throne”
A man steps from the darkness behind her and his brutal face, my own features leer at me. “You see… I told you he was an enemy!” I recognise the uniform, one of Franco’s interogators during the aftermath of the civil war.
I feel the two moments in time as if they are spliced together, the blue light fades and I smell the cordite in the air and feel the wetness of my feet.
I step forward and thrust a pistol in my face, and with a sneer pull the trigger. My world goes white and then dark.

“To what purpose do you make the Pilgrimage?” I hear the voice again, ringing in my mind.

I step out of the memory onto a glittering path of Eidelon, the Umbra wrapping around it and myself, dark and all encompassing.

As I stride along the path Memories come to me of when I last stood on a fractured land, floating into the darkness, sacrificed to the dark. I know now that this was the final moments of the battle at Finistere. As I recall them shapes come out of the darkness and a clawed hand bats my arm away as I strike at it with my blade and clasps firmly around my wrist. I try to sink my teeth into the flesh to free myself but am battered across the face as if a toy.

As it strikes again its claws extended to tear my throat I desperatly claw at the stuff of umbra that surrounds ensnare the goat headed beast and then my blade comes round to part the hand that grasps me from the body.

Freed I think of speed and power and my form shifts around me into a memory of a shape and I sprint along the path, faster than I have moved in many lifetimes. I am a prince amoung men and my pretorian body shifts with my mind to a new address. It is more subtle than the past changes and I am able to control it so it is just temprement and demeanor that changes. No walls come down to alter who I am to the point where I cannot recognise myself anymore. Enough at lest to cause some confusion and distance from who I was. The hidden man, wanderer and listless searcher. Now at least I could feel some purpose again, some clear direction to who I was, or who at least that I could be. I was close to something and my change had reacted to those memories, clouded though they still were.

I burst through the portal at the end of the path, leaving the chasing shadows behind and hurtle along the tunnel and straight out into a vast dome that reached into the heavens and off into the distance. The walls, vast stained glass with utter darkness beyond them. Yes in the darkness a beam of light cast itself out into the night from the apex of the dome and as it cycled round and round it pushed back the dark and the things that owned it.

As I slowed I began to take in my surroundings and the changes in the stonework. It is more modern, more recent, as if this is only a handful of centuries old, the inscriptions are hieroglyphs and there meaning is clear to me as if as a second tounge. Across the ground as if in a flood from out of the tunnel I had just vacated, scores of mummified remains lay in varying states of disarray. All facing away from the the tunnel, all dead. Those who failed to walk the path it seems. Although from the few footsteps that wound there way through the bodies it is clear that at least a few had made the journey.

Throughout the chamber vast pedestals rose from the ground and each of the monoliths bore the names of thousands of dead. A memorial to a final sacrifice. Leading in pattern to a dais situated at the centre of the room. As I made my slow path towards the centre I read the names and knew them, name after name, as if committed to my memory. I knew these people like I knew myself.

As I approached the tomb I could feel the dread, for I knew the face upon the beir, and I knew his name.

Hmmm… Interesting. I find myself unable to write his name despite it being clear in my mind. Nor it seems may i speak it out loud. It is hidden and bound around with words that obscure it and deny it to the world.

He was The Sacrifice. He was the shield brother. He was the last light of the dying sun. Yet his name must forever remain unknown.

Was this his doing, or that of those who built this mausoleum?

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