Thursday, 10 December 2020

PARIAH "ETAU" CAMPAIGN, SESSION 22: Swims Like a Dolphin Thinks Like a Fish

These events continue from the TWENTY-FIRST session. The real world session took place on Saturday 5th December on the Atelier Hwei Discord. Today is the 8th 14th December and this is my 8th tenth blogpost this month, 8 GOLD RINGS FOUR POSTS BEHIND!

- Eugene  as Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe
- Mister Kent as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- Semiurge playing as Mortally-Garnished-of-the-Fallen

Fallen-far-from-the-Wind and Fleet Snailwife were NPCed.

To find out more about PARIAH please read this post: 


The party had been surrounded (or so they were led to believe) by a group of (somewhat short) local hunters. Garnish was badly injured and, during negotiations led by Fallen they had been unable to secure anything beyond an uneasy truce: the locals told the pariahs they were not welcome on the island, nor near their village, until they had gotten rid of the "strange boy" from the mainland.

They also learned that the islanders considered the "Eagle-Witches" to be pitiful wretches, pathetic victims of an ancient curse... while also stating that they were to be avoided.

It was a poor outcome but better than a full-on fight, so the remaining pariahs allowed the hunters to disappear back into the foliage and retrace their steps, taking Garnish with them. One piece of information that came to light was the fact that the boy from the mainland always returned to his camp at the beach by sundown. They would find a place to hard, get Garnish to safety, and stake out the beach.

Dead Caves

The path they had followed to the clearing had been somewhat uphill, though between two higher points. They followed it back down to the beach and made their way to where they had first picked up the boys trail. 

The high-hills around the beach sometimes didn't grade down to the beach quite so gently, and several rocky outcrops or small cliffs lined the perimeter. Also visible were multiple large holes in these cliffs at irregular intervals.

Investigating one such cave mouth, they were greeted by a simple shrine consisting of a boar's skull painted in black and red geometric patterns. Mercifully Wasted heard the mocking sound of wideawake bird fly by and yell "GRAVEROBBER!". 

Taking a breath and then expelling it from their body along with their soul, Cuckoo's spirit ventured into the dark. They felt only a hint of melancholy.

They placed a piece of dried meat. As a votive offering and ventured inside.

The cave mouth was about 7-8 feet high, but the ceiling dropped sharply as it went deeper. It was dark, but the pariahs decided to remain at the front of the cave and wait for this "boy" to return. In the meantime, MW and Cuckoo decided to go exploring. Beautiful Other gave them her flute to use as a warning signal.

As the pair of pariahs further explore the coastline, they happened upon a similar cave with a similar pig-skull shrine. Electing not to explore the cave but instead follow the cliff-face, they came upon a third shrine, though this one was fashioned from a different skull:

...that of a turtle. Otherwise, the shrine was constructed in an identical fashion. 

The pair decided to turn around, but this time to trace a route along the top of the cliffs, on the jungle edge, ultimately dropping themselves back down to beach level once they returned to the cave.


Reporting their findings, it emerged that the "boy" was actually about 19 years old> Fleet describe him as "foolish", always going missing with his family coracle (the "missing" coracle):

"His name is "
Swims-Like-Dolphin, Thinks-Like-Fish"

Beautiful Other suggested ensnaring him in some kind of trap, as they knew that he'd make his way back to the campfire by sunset (or so the islanders had told them). Eventually they settled on digging a pit about 5 feet deep in the sand, lining it with vines to both entangle and soften the landing, then cover it with a net and leaves and sand to hide it.

As the sun began to set MW covered his ears and hid out in the jungle.

Presently they heard some singing but it was in a weird dialect and was almost impossibly to understand: Garnish and Fallen were able to pick out some of the intent and vocabulary beneath the weird cadence... it was a song warning others to stay back, for the person singing was in fact a great spirit. But it sounded like the person singing didn't realise that...

A figure came into view, tall and slender, carrying a spear over their shoulder upon which two fish were impaled. Two sacks were tied to their belt. They were oblivious to the fate awaiting them, and fell into the pit.

A Dolphin, Interrupted

The party surrounded the pit to see a frightened, dark-skinned young man staring up at them wielding a broken spearhead. He was handsome and athletic and clearly could handle himself. but he was threatened and it took a while for him to grant the party his trust. Ultimately the party's openness and non-aggression (while possessing the numerical advantage) enabled Dolphin (for it was he) to relax around them.

For the most part, he spoke candidly. Here's a summary of what the party learned:
  • Dolphin came to the island voluntarily. 
  • The coracle belonged to his family: since the death of his father, he has travelled up and down the coast unsupervised.
  • His mother moved to Etau's settlement when he was young.
  • Dolphin owes a knife made of star metal. 
  • He came to the island a week or two ago to dive for pearls, of which he has many.
  • He sleeps on the beach because this is where the islanders bury their dead:they are afraid to come here, but he is not worried by dead people.
  • Whenever questioned about the Eagle-Witches, he grew confused.
  • Dolphin seems to disrespect shaman, spirits and tradition.
  • Dolphin claims to have visited a great settlement known as "the city" wherein dwells a "king" and a "priest".
  • He believes he can trade the pearls for gold, which is highly valued in the city. With enough gold he can claim king-ship.
  • He can get aggressive when the wisdom of his plans is questioned.
Of the party Cuckoo was a little star-struck and Garnish respected his attitude, whereas Mercifully Wasted was sceptical. He told of how he had lost his standing in his tribe and been cast out for similar hubris surrounding the spirits, and believed wholeheartedly that not respecting them was a recipe for disaster.  Beautiful Other was reminded merely of a figure from her past, as it happened someone to whom she had been betrothed before fleeing her people.

As night drew in and Dolphin happily shared his harvest of oysters, the pariahs plotted various ways by which they might extract information from him. They felt for certain that he was hiding something from them, but were also wary of scaring him away. They had 3options:
  1. Beautiful Other to use her charm and charisma to obtain the truth.
  2. Mercifully Wasted uses his imposing physical presence to intimidate it out of him.
  3. Failing that, Cuckoo will use their bonded spell-spirit of Dusk to extract the information from Dolphin magically.
Around our virtual table we referred to the strategy thusly:
  • Good cop.
  • Bad cop.
  • Ghost cop.

Good Cop

Beautiful Other started out flattering Dolphin, but he began to see through the ruse. However, he was forgiving of her, and explained that what he was doing was all for someone for whom he cared deeply. Further questions appeared to cause him mental distress, and in an effort to cut her off, he handed her a beautiful pearl.

Bad Cop

With night drawing on, Beautiful Other had taken Dolphin to one sign to try and speak privately with him, but Cuckoo had tried to listen in. Sadly, all they were able to ascertain was that something was making Dolphin sad. They were also a little jealous of the esteem with which this interesting young man seemed to regard Beautiful Other. Nonetheless, consultation with Mercifully Wasted led to the conclusion that maybe intimidation was not the way, and instead they should keep watch while he slept and see what he had planned for the morrow.

Ghost Cop

While everyone sleep, Cuckoo summoned the Dusk Spirit and asked it where the knife came from. All she learned that it was very old, non-magical and had been found on one of the islands by a foolish boy.


During Garnish's watch, just before dawn, Dolphin calmly got up and headed back to the jungle. He wakes the others and begins to stalk them. Fleet and Fallen remain at the camp.

Through the jungle they go, back over the site of Garnish's earlier calamity, and to a rocky cliff overlooking a rockier bay, buffeted by crashing waves. Far below Garnish spied the figure of Dolphin swimming against the incredible tides.

Dolphin pulled himself up onto a rock, clear of the water. A rope was tied to his waist, secured at an unseen point. He carried his sack with him. He appeared to disappear into the cliff.

Cuckoo used their powers of projection to follow Dolphin. Her spirit left its body, and wandered into a cave. She felt darkness all around her, but also the presence of another living creature. Words were exchanged. An offering was made.

"She'd like that, she'd want that..." said a weak voice in the dark to Dolphin.

She returned and reported her findings.

The party waited for Dolphin to leave, and then scrambled own the cliff, huge waves crashing around them. At the mouth of the cave a pair of moccasins had been abandoned. They had not seen Dolphin wearing shoes prior to that point.

Knowing that it was dark they fashioned very crude torches from the driftwood they had gathered two days ago. The plan was to wait for Dolphin to emerge, but something drew them deep into the darkness.

(SPOILER: what drew them in was the GM not really understanding that they wanted to wait for Dolphin and was mad-keen for them to meet what was lurking at the back)

Zhao, Eagle-Witch

The voice calling out was weak, plaintive, but not afraid. They creature they saw was human-sized and possessed of wings, but it's appearance was not apparently fixed. What was evident was that it was hurt.

The creature declared that her name was Zhao, that Dolphin was a good boy for helping her, and that she was probably beyond the limits of their healing capabilities.

The pariahs returned to the mouth of the cave and waited for Dolphin. As before, he was reluctant to explain himself fully, but seemed to believe they understood the purpose of his mission, that somehow caring for the wounded harpy and gathering pearls from the sea were intertwined with his mission to become "the king".

Against the roar of the raging sea he implored the pariahs to listen to Zhao's song, to embrace its beauty, and follow it to its source... follow it to her...

"Or follow your heart," he said, smiling, cocking one ear to the cave on his left.

The only sound the pariahs could hear was a pathetic, wounded groan, as of a dying bird.

By Mr Kent

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The campaign continues at

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