Arden Vul

Memory Craps
who says games are not educational?

I’m sitting in meditation, trying to understand how I can remember things that haven’t happened yet, or that happened before I was born, or that happened to someone else. How memory works at all, really. Are Pyrite’s spells just memories? If that was true, how does he make anything that he’s never seen before? Can he pull images from the memories of other people?

Purposeful recall is difficult, even during meditation. Being reminded of something works better. Fighting those white baboons reminded me of the first time Jasper saw one, in NewMarket, on a leash, when he threw one of Tikkun Thane’s Disciplined into the river. How the man thrashed and sparked and went still. I don’t remember that event from Axe’s point of view, or the Disciplined’s, presumably because they were never raised by Jade Cup. I remember Jasper’s death, but not Axe’s. Of course, if Axe were here, and alive, I could just ask him.

I could probably talk to the leftover baboons, too. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the Druid. Maybe he has been speaking Baboon too long. Or maybe one of his trinkets drove him mad. Or maybe he was already crazy. Maybe his god likes him that way. I took some of that yellow “neuroderm” stuff that was in those big glass jars, the stuff that Rudish-va, Triv-Lok, was floating in. The stuff that kept her alive in there for hundreds of years. I wonder if it would heal the Druid’s mind?

I realize much of this is nonsensical. This is just a game I’ve started playing, tossing ideas together like dice. Sometimes new memories land on top, and I can read them off. I learn things that way. Just a few hours ago Grimley used one of those magic pearls to seal off his mind from that devil. Later, I remembered how to do the same thing myself, only I don’t need the pearl.

I was the one who opened Triv-Lok’s tube/bed/thing. I’m still not sure how I did that. Did I remember it? I should go back down there. With noone else around to distract me, I might remember something else. Or I might bump into Triv-Lok again . . .

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A Spoke in the Wheel
what wheel?

We will do great things together, you and I.

That’s what it said when I picked it up. And it hasn’t spoken since. No announcements of its powers. No warnings that Balthazar had made a deal with a devil. All we know is what Balthazar’s pearl-spell told us, that it is a powerful weapon against both Good and Evil creatures. And I’m not much confident in Balthazar’s judgements about anything, because HE MADE A DEAL WITH A DEVIL.

They went off exploring and left me here with Ulv to guard the prisoners. We got really lucky, surprising them before the Druid could bring his magic to bear. Having Aylinn play “Fox & Hounds” with a chunk of his baboon army was a good idea, but it wasn’t decisive. Dropping the Druid was, and not just because of his spells. He was wearing magic armor, plus the blood-drinking Mantle of Fenth that is keeping me not at all warm right now, sitting here on the floor. He could have held out against our blades for a long time. And he was carrying this.

Spoke_in_the_Wheel.jpg

I like this thing. It’s extremely well balanced. I can flip it in the air from pretty much any direction, and its handle always lands right into my palm. I haven’t hit anything with it yet. It’s supposed to do a lot of damage, but that must come from its magic, because it’s got no sharp edges, and it feels too light to break bones.

I wish it would talk again. With the others gone, it’s too risky to un-gag the Druid to ask about it, assuming I could even get his attention. He’s just staring at the wall and drooling right now (though to be fair, that could be the gag). His fighter friend, or bodyguard, or whatever he was, claims not to know anything about it beyond the word Beytnorn, which is one name for an Archontean goddess. I gave him some parched grain to suck on for that bit of information. It was pretty salty, so soon he’ll want some water. Maybe that will jog his memory. There are other ways to do it, but I don’t do that kind of thing any more.

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Fools

Slow your breathing… rhythmic. Listen to the simpleton snore. Everyone must believe. You can’t tell them, they can’t understand. The pain… it’s constant now. The soul being pulled to an impossible task. Melchior must die. You have to. There is no other way now.

Hide it. The pain. You are Balthazar the Blue. They can never see it. Ashamed. Lessened. They need you.

Quietly. Quickly. The words. Known. Prepared. Invisible. The others would never see, but the elf… vigilant. Did anyone notice? Quiet. Listen. Nothing.

I should tell them. Even fools understand pain. The priest, the goblin, the dead woman. Fools. Good fools. My fools? Protective? That is new. I will have to think more on that later.

No. I can’t tell them. Too risky. What if they tried to stop me? What if they didn’t? Can’t risk it. The self-righteous paladin would never allow it. Would never forgive it.

Roll over. Quietly. Start moving. Escape.

You remember the way. Turn. Straight. Hidden Door. Still locked. Of course it is. Anyone powerful enough to unlock has the sense not to.

Release. Dispel. Open. Illusion won’t work now. I see.

Last chance. Turn back? No…. I can’t live with this pain. The only way.

Step in to the room. It can’t hurt you, yet. Caged. No need to be afraid. Stop being afraid.

Now. We Bargain.

Fools. Forgive me.

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Have You Ever Danced with a Devil in the Pale Moon Light? Or under other, less romantic circumstances?
Callista's color commentary

“EVIL!”

Charge.

Whatever, Grimley. All I know is that skinny bitch Triv-Lok played us. I should have punched her in the throat the second she took that green card from Wick-trimmer. Instead I let her get away with it. She was so fast … need to learn that.

Obey me.

Obey this, old man. Be glad I got to you first, and that my hands were empty. Ulv would have gutted you for fun.

WHAK!

That was a strangely calm command for an old man outnumbered six to one. And a strangely solid jaw, for all he spun around like a drunken sailor. Why is Ulv scrubbing at the floor? Doesn’t matter. Elbow to the kidney will drop him.

Whiff!

Crap, he fell the wrong way. Right into Grimley’s swing

Tink!

Nope, somehow his blade bounced off the floor. Sweep the legs.

Swish!

Oh, nooo. We’re being played again.

“Uh, ladies? I hate to tell you this, but the Amulet of Djed says that you’ve got a tiger by the tail in there. And by tiger, I mean big red devil. Horns, hoofs, giant iron phallus, the whole deal. I think he’s happy to see us, if you know what I mean.”

Thanks a lot, Wick-trimmer. And me without a magic weapon.

“Luna, stop fiddling with the walls and tackle the barbarian! Don’t let her break the circle, or we lose our bargaining power with the devil!”

Or he escapes, and kills us all, if we’re lucky.

“My name is Aaaaaariel!” WHUMP!

“I vas kleanink! I must klean der flor!”

“Shut up and (grunt) out … the … door!”

Time to go, Grimley. Time to go, Grimley. “Time to go, Grimley!”

“EVIL!”

“It’s been here a thousand years! It’s not going anywhere … !”

Tumble. Stumble. Run.

“I’m Wizard Locking this door. It won’t stop the devil if that circle was degraded in any way, but it will prevent any other party from getting in there to release it. Assuming they even have the wit to find it, which is unlikely. It was so cunningly made that only one of such godlike intellect as Balthazar the Blue, the kind of genius born once in a thousand years – ”

“Hey, I found that door. Me, Ariel.”

“Shut up, Luna. Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking about myself. Or any other time.”

I have GOT to find some more professional associates. And a magic weapon.

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A Brief Summary of Events Dark and Deep

We have new titles based on the last session:

Wicktrimmer: Champion of Thoth and Traveler of the Astral Plane
Callista: Calmer of the Star-Fallen
Grimley: Conqueror of the Zodiac
Luna: Slayer of the Montari

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Sssmoke Signals
floating through the ether

Almosst sssertainly noticed, if not actually intersssepted, by Klimt the Watcher, Klimt the Observant, Klimt the Eyefully Endowed . . .

Boys. Left town quickly. New standing orders. Don’t kill anyone. Beatings fine. Watch CoP. C.

Cats. Blue fool blew up patrol. Three survivors. Do not kill. Discredit. C.

Dudes. Outlawed. Need smoke-tight alibi. Blame doppelgangers? C.

Eggs. New plan, Op: REASONABLE DOUBT. Buy sightings from CoP goblin. Total crime wave. Noone dies. C.

Fellows. Hiding out. Smoke silence. Do not attempt extraction. Continue REASONABLE DOUBT. Don’t overdo. Infamous, not monstrous. C.

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Who Knew Dwarves Could Sing?
From the laboratory journals of Pyrite the Magician, member in good standing, College of Perception:

This is maddening! There is simply not enough of the hallucinogenic poison left on the dart to analyze alchemically. The Shen have disappeared from Narsileon, and no one here knows where they have gone. Otherwise I would just get a larger sample, or – better – Hypnotize one of them into telling me all they know of it. My new spells might allow me to find them, eventually, but if the servants don’t know where to go, then searching systematically will take longer than I expect to live, especially if the Shen have gone back to their far Western homeland. Unless I had literally thousands of Shadow Servants searching in parallel … (note to self: research hijacking of Shadow Servants cast by other mages).

I could ask my elders here at the College, but that would cost more gold than the warrior wench is paying me. I could visit Klimt, but that would be even more expensive, in “contracts.” Flipping Achonteans. What’s wrong with a good Goblin spit-shake?

The library here at CoP has been little help, so far. There are 61 volumes on opium, and a dozen on mushrooms of various species – though none on the fungal forest that we found underneath Arden Vul. There is also an epic poem in Khazak by a bard of unsavory reputation who styles himself the Lizard King, whose handwriting certainly looks as if he were on something. If I still had my helmet, the translation would be instantaneous. Hm . . . I could easily visit the Dwarf embassy here in Narsileon.

Who should I wear? Someone formal, I think.

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"At 3rd level, monks can speak with animals"
"This is not a magical ability, and the GM should determine how it works."

From the Scriptures of the Jade Cup:

I’m getting used to dreaming other people’s dreams. It’s almost a good thing that they’re mostly dead people’s dreams. That makes it easier to tell where they came from. Once I know that it’s not my dream, but someone else’s, I can relax and move around in that dream without fear. I learn all kinds of things that way. Sword and staff techniques. Catching that Shen dart? Saw that in a snake woman’s dream. Didn’t know there were snake women? Me neither. They dream weird, weird things.

Usually those dreams happen when I’m asleep, or meditating. And until today they were always people’s dreams. People who walk and talk. Not … animals. I figured, who would use the Cup to raise a squirrel from the dead?

I was sitting meditation, just following my breath, when a little brown bird dropped to the ground in front of me. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads, so if they want to look straight at you, they turn their heads. I never thought about that before. This bird looked straight at me with one eye and put that half of his brain to sleep. Its other eye, pointed away from me, was still awake, looking out for trouble.

Maybe that’s what Luna does … ?

Anyway, the swamp sparrow (that’s what I decided to call it) had a very detailed map of the campsite and the surrounding area in his head. Yes, it was a he. Suddenly I knew where to find every seed and insect for a hundred yards. Then he woke up and flew to a rotten log about 15 yards from where I was sitting. I stood up, walked over, and split the log open with my longsword. Ants swarmed out, stupid with anger. The sparrow pecked up his fill and flew off.

That was the strangest thing that happened to me, that day.

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Ülv Fire-Eyes (Bruntzilla) bad trip with Cat-Vultures

BruntzillasBadTrip2.jpg
Ülv Fire-Eyes (Bruntzilla) bad trip with Cat-Vultures.

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Sweaty Visions
_From the laboratory journals of Pyrite the Magician, member in good standing, College of Perception, Narsileon._

A tall woman visited the house today, claiming to be the warrior Jasper freed from the Cult of Set’s gaol underneath the Forum in Arden Vul. She was better fed, and sun-darkened, and vaguely different in demeanor, but I detected no whiff of illusion magic.

She produced a small dart, which she said was coated with a poison that induced potent, debilitating visions. Similar darts had apparently rendered Br and Bz completely batshit crazy for a period of several hours. Bz, she said, had fallen in love with a fountain – not in the romantic sense (though that would have been hilarious). Instead he had become aesthetically transfixed, unable to look away. The barbarian’s visions were different but equally powerful.

The users of the poison, a group of Shen from the far west, beyond the Elfin Kingdom, though friendly in their brusque and honor-bound way, would neither reveal the source of their “sacrament,” nor trade for larger samples of it. They only allowed her to keep the one dart because she had plucked it from the air when they shot it at her. Apparently that meant she had “won” it from them? Religious people are so weird (Note for later: legality of starting own religion). The nature of the misunderstanding that led to them spitting darts at her was never mentioned.

In any case, she offered me a thousand gold to solve the riddle for her, either to identify the toxin and where it might be found, or to replicate its effects alchemically. I have plenty of my own research projects to carry out, but none of them is cheap.

Preliminary questions:

1) minimum effective dose?
2) independent effect, or synergistic with illusion spells?
3) soluble in water, alcohol, or oil?

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