Thursday, 7 January 2021

PARIAH ETAU CAMPAIGN, SESSION 25: SAVE THE DOLPHIN

These events continue from the TWENTY-FOURTH session. The real world session took place on Saturday 2nd January 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  

Players:

- Mister Kent https://twitter.com/MrKentKomiks as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín https://twitter.com/OisinoftheHill playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- JFur https://jenniferixon.itch.io/ playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind

Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe and Mortally Garnished-of-the-Fallen were NPCed.

There are 2 things to note ahead of this session report. The first is that these reports take a very long time to write. Secondly, judging by the views and comments, they are the least interesting to site visitors. I've said it before but I'm going to try and take a less narrative approach in an attempt to address these issues. 

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali. Love can do strange things to people.


25th Day of the Crow Moon (last Quarter, waning)

With Zhao missing and Dolphin still bewitched the pariahs led him and the chimpanzees back to the beach. The problem facing them now was getting Dolphin off the island. The plan had been to heal Zhao to full health (with the assistance of the shaman High Mountain and the chimpanzees led by Ao Ao, thus winning Zhao's trust and encouraging her to release Dolphin from whatever spell she had placed upon him. 


It seemed unlikely that Dolphin  would leave without her. This was also embarrassing as the apes had already lost one of their siblings to an attack by an Eagle-Witch. They had nothing to show for this loss.


The pariahs camped on the beach with Dolphin and set a watch. The apes stayed in the forest.


26th Day of the Crow Moon

Dolphin returned to the rocky bay at Zhao’s cave in the morning, resuming his oyster fishing. With better light the party investigated the area more thoroughly, noticing a series of bloodied claw-prints—presumably belonging to Zhao—leading out of the cave.

The previous hypothesis had been that she had crawled into the smaller tunnel at the back of the cave. Now they believed that Zhao had used her magic to heal herself and flown away.

When the claw-prints were pointed out to Dolphin, he couldn’t reconcile the marks with the person who had left the shoes at the mouth of the cave. This prompted the party to try to use magic on him (courtesy of Cuckoo’s bound Dusk Spirit), but it had no effect. They did discover that the key to the charm appeared to be in the shoes.

Cuckoo put the shoes on their feet, at which point Dolphin immediately took them for his partner, though was unable to identify who “she” was byname. He was pleased that she had recovered, and began enthusiastically making plans for their return.

Once back at the beach Dolphin was prepared to leave the island, but the pariahs had left their boats at the beach across the bay and would need to retrieve it overland, so instead they retraced their steps.

Ape Tribe and Eagle Seers

After a few hours trekking through the tropical forest, including a nearly disastrous attempt to cross the spiderlands, they managed to return the apes to their home. Ao Ao accompanied them on their trip to Eagle Mountain, explaining to the island’s rulers that they were taking Dolphin home.

(Dolphin believed the party would be travelling to his fabled “city” as opposed to going home)

They were told not to return. Ao Ao was told that his tribe’s actions would hold them in good favour, but they had not yet been incorporated into the tribal council.

They passed by High Mountain on their way down. He was sorry to see them go, but wished them luck. They gathered their coracles and returned to their home beach where the others were waiting.

Depressed Fish



During Cuckoo’s watch a series of flying fish launched themselves onto the beach in an apparent suicide attempt. The spirit of the shoal expressed its desire to leave the ocean, to die on the land and be reclaimed by the dawn-spirit. Cuckoo cooly slaughtered the fish by decapitation and presented a delicious feast for breakfast.

27th Day of Crow Moon

The party returned to the coastal village, with some grumbles from Dolphin, who was keen to start a new life with Cuckoo (whom he believed to be his beloved while they continued to wear the magical slipper). 

The crossing was rough, but the reception at the stilt-village was warm, initially at least. The conservative villagers laughed at Dolphins actions and beliefs The same villagers grew stiff when Fallen tried to explain that they hadn’t killed any of the “eagle-witches” and that they posed zero threat to settlement.

Despite the awkwardness, there was an unspoken agreement that the blood-debt was satisfied: the villagers had blamed the pariahs for the loss of Never to a giant catfish, and now the pariahs had gone on a dangerous mission at their behest. It didn’t seem to matter that none of these events were linked by causality. Something had been done.

The party returned the coracles and reclaimed their canoe, bidding a fond farewell to Fleet Snailwife. She had been looking for an adventure and it was probably more than she had bargained for, but she would be thinking about the giant snail for a long time.

Pariah Settlement

The pariahs did not stop by Etau’s stockade, instead heading straight for the adjoining pariah settlement, specifically to the hut of Wolfskin.

The purpose was to get to the bottom of Dolphin’s enchantment: under present conditions, it seemed likely that Cuckoo removing the shoes would cause unnecessary stress to Dolphin, and Cuckoo was not willing to continue stealing the mystery person’s identity.

Some experiments were carried out as to the efficacy of the charm, including both Cuckoo and Fallen each wearing a show (

While Cuckoo was not in the room Wolfskin tried to get Dolphin to relax. He brewed a soothing tea and asked Fallen to supply a gentle melody and othing percussion, with some accompaniment from Beautiful Other. It was established that shortly after arriving on the island Dolphin had befriended a local girl of the Turtle clan named Orzha, that she had disappeared for more than a day, but had re-appeared in their cave, badly hurt. This roughly corresponded with the timeline of Zhao, and with the pariahs arriving on the island.

The consensus was that either Orzha’s soul was trapped in the shoes or that Orzha was a false memory implanted by Zhao for some unknown purpose. Intelligent usage of their magic (and the recruitment of Undecided-over-the-Yellow One, a pariah of experience in such matters) gradually allowed them to unpeel the layers of the mystery. 

Ultimately it was uncovered that a dawn spirit bound to the shoes perpetuated a powerful charm that affected Dolphin only. While the shoes were at the cave entrance, he seemed to believe that Zhao was Orzha (or at least the affections and memories he had of Orzha were somehow embodied in Zao). Once the shoes were removed it seemed that this magic then transferred to whoever was wearing them.

Orzha, it transpired, was (or had been) a real person: consultation with a moon-spirit revealed that Orzha clings to life at the bottom of a well. Presuming that was way back on the island, and that she had been there for at least three days, the pariahs did not rate their chances of rescuing her.

They decided they would leave her to die alone in a pit, and would somehow break the news to Swims-like-Dolphin.

Conclusion

I was grateful to JFur for narrating her character’s interaction with Dolphin, as it meant I likewise could narrate his response. It’s been an emotionally draining time of late and putting myself into the shoes (ha!) of a young man who had just been told that the woman he loved was as good as dead. Sometimes 3rd person roleplay is better than improvising a dialogue.

Fallen had brought Dolphin to a quiet spot, a little upriver from the settlement, and here she revealed Orzha’s fate and the nature of his enchantment. Naturally Dolphin went from denial to anger quite rapidly, before finally bargaining his way out of the situation. He placed Orzha’s shoes upon his feet, and fell to staring at his own reflection in the dark water like a Neolithic Narcissus.


* * *

The campaign continues at

https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2021/01/pariah-etau-campaign-session-26-27.html

wherein the pariahs venture out into the wilderness to track down Rides-the-Grave, Earnestly Wooded and Witheringly-Footed-at-the-Point, last seen heading towards the Temple of Water 

https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2020/11/pariah-discord-session-19-temple-of.html

So see you next time. Meanwhile, a word from our sponsors...

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Download the art-free edition of PARIAH for no charge at the following well-know digital RPG stores:

https://atelier-hwei.itch.io/pariah-art-free

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