Tuesday, 13 October 2020

PARIAH DISCORD SESSION 015: UNLUCKY ONES

A summary of the FIFTEENTH session of the discord live voice-chat game of PARIAH. This is a continuation of events in the FOURTEENTH session.

To find out more about PARIAH please read this post https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/p/pariah-proto-neolithc-psychedelic.html or trawl through the many, many posts tagged pariah at this link https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/search/label/Pariah.

Sleepflower by Abigail Lingford


SESSION 15: DAY 16 CROW MOON FULL

(This session took place on Saturday 3rd October, real world)

Featured Pariahs:
Earnestly-Wooded-far-from-the-Dreaming Land (Oisín)
Rides-the-Grave (Eugene)
Brave Porcupine (Stephen) 

The party ate breakfast in silence and gathered up their things: the surviving goatherds explained they were returning to their village—not far from Etau's settlement—specifically to inform Never's family of his probable death. 

There was some good news for the band: Rides-the-Grave had recovered sufficiently to walk. This was just as well as his place on the sled had been taken by the seriously wounded Grove. Wither was still unconscious in the coracle, which Gazelle and Garnish had borrowed from the coastal settlement.

It was anticipated that it would take only a few hours to get back to the settlement, and the pariahs adopted  wide formation as they followed the river... home?

Taking the Lead

The least experienced of the pariahs, Earnestly Wooded and Brave Porcupine took point: it was surmised there was less likely for a threat to come from the front than the rear. Garnish hung back, with Gazelle, Worm and Undecided over the Yellow One taking turns to drag Wither and and Grove in the centre. Maggot kept herself concealed within her woollen blanket.

The recently recovered Rides-the-Grave skipped ahead to acquaint himself with the new arrivals. The three of them were therefore the first to see an unusual structure in the centre of a deserted rice paddy. 

Three trees, stripped of their bark and their branches, forming a triangle about a large mound of boulders. Numerous glyphs and pictograms were carved into the side of the great trunks.

To everyone's surprise EW was able to decipher the curious symbols and explain their meaning to his comrades: here was imprisoned a powerful spirit of the land, bound so that the people of the mud can improve their land and culture.  
 
Fascinated, Rides-the-Grave began to scrimshaw the binding glyphs onto wood, asking EW to further explain their meaning, and expressing a desire to share this knowledge with the wise-man Wolfskin.

The Hall of Etau

The pariahs arrived at the palisade surrounding Etau's hall and central settlement: for Brave Porcupine and EW, this was their first sight of the impressive structure. Gazelle, Garnish and Worm helped Wither and Grove back to Wolfskin's hut so that he and 

The guards shuffled to one side as Rides entered to explain their successful—though costly—delegation. Within Etau was nowhere to be found, but a slender young woman draped in a hooded cloak (the advisor who had usurped Wolfskin) sat in an empty hall upon the seat of her chieftain.

Apparently Etau was out hunting...

The woman remarked that the pariahs had increased in number, though it was apparent they had been wounded. She explained how pleased Etau was with her "unlucky ones": Brave Porcupine's chest swelled with (somewhat unearned) pride; Rides was suspicious of the woman and attempted to interrogate her. EW mostly observed patiently, trying to wrap his great intellect around the comings and goings of this strange new place.

The woman was impervious to Rides' questions, and maintained a smug look on her face while also mocking Rides' recent injury to his remaining forearm. Nonetheless she went on to explain that they would be rewarded with the burned village on the north bank of the river. This had previously been attacked by the hill tribes after recently being made the location of Wolfskin's exile from Etau's hall. 

Brave Porcupine was further enamoured of the advisor, and EW was happy to hear that he would be given a home, but Rides saw the offer as cynical: they had already inhabited this area and the structures were damaged by fire. It was, to him, an empty gesture.

Rides bid the lady farewell and left, followed by his new comrades.

Wolfskin


A short raft journey across the river took the pariahs back to their "new" home. They found Wither and Grove in Wolfskin's hut, being tended by the aforementioned. He invited the pariahs to join him for tea.

The bitter drink calmed the three pariahs as, led by Rides, the tried to obtain knowledge from Wolfskin:

What is the drought that Etau and her advisor had spoken of, and which they had seen evidence of during part of their journey?

The irrigation channels are maintained by the watermen or the blue priests
they can explain what is going wrong.

Who is the Many-Mouthed King, the leader of the ghouls?

The ghouls leave somewhere between the realms of the dead and the living, 
but they behave like carrion beasts. 
From time to time a leader arises among them, 
but they squabble and implode and fight among themselves. 
It surely is of no concern.

Is there a cure for THE HUNGER?

None that I know of, and it troubles me that you bring that girl into our new settlement. 
We must work together to ensure that this does not become more widely known. 

If there is a cure for the hunger, it will beknown to the lords of the dead. 
It grows around the mountain lake to the west.

What of the binding of the Great Spirit within the three trees? 
Can we use the magic that is contained within? 

That spirit was imprisoned by my ancestors. 
It was the genius loci of that area of jungle, destroyed by the early agriculturalists. 
I am surprised that Earnestly Wooded can read their signs, that skill I thought lost.

It is dangerous to meddle in magics not fully understood though: we receive knowledge from the spirits and our ancestors directly. Taking it from copied signs seems risky.

Could we use the sage to speak to our ancestors, 
to learn the secrets of the binding ritual?

Perhaps, but your eagerness to take this knowledge troubles me.

What of Etau's advisor? 
Are you not suspicious of her? 
Angry for usurping your position?

Of course I am upset, but I am loyal to Etau. 
My concerns about her are tempered by my faith in Etau's judgement.   

However, I should say that she greatly resembles the missing Nameless One 
whom Quiet One (rest his spirit) dubbed Whisper
That she appeared not long after her disappearance is deeply troubling: 
she wears the nameless one's skin, but it is the soul of an all-together more powerful entity.
Perhaps it is wise that we keep a close eye on her.

Brave Porcupine began to feel uncomfortable. 
He had been impressed by the unnamed advisor's generosity...

Do you think we should keep an eye on her? 
Spy on her?

Certainly not. It is better you leave this with me. I will not have Etau undermined.

Rides' gave Wolfskin the swamp-orchid he retrieved prior to the ghoul attack.

You said it is like sleepflower. What is it for?

He sighs.

A ritual... of divination...
I had hoped to divine some truth about the advisor...
...but for it to work, I require a lock of her hair...

Racoon Dog

No, you can't keep them.

Together EW and Rides discussed methods by which they might take the advisor's hair, while Brave Porcupine's jaw dropped in astonishment. Such duplicity was clearly unknown to him.

The conspiracy was interrupted by the sound of barking outside: both Clay and Flea were alarmed by the presence of a Tanuki, which was quite calmly walking through the burned settlement. Upon seeing the pariahs, it fled: villagers claimed it was a spy sent by the hill tribes.

When EW followed its tracks down to the riverside, they disappeared- nowhere near the fringes of the jungle. Where had it gone?

Tattoo

Earnestly-Wooded produce a tattoo kit, explaining that he had no real artistic skill but was willing to give it a go, practising first on himself and then offering Rides and Brave Porcupine the chance to become living canvasses for his art.

In memory of their run-in only one day before, Earnestly-Wood carved a convincing likeness of a Catfish into his right arm (being left handed). Curious about the new writing systems (and the magic they might contain) Rides-the-Grave asked his new friend to tattoo the glyph most closely corresponding to "protection" into his skin.

It came out pretty well. Buoyed by the success of these images, EW offered Brave Porcupine a go: the new pariah requested the image of... a  lone wolf. It seemed to have some personal relevance to him.

Regardless of the motivation, the outcome was disappointing: Earnestly-Wooded started off trying to draw a wolf, then in trying to turn it into a deer was left with something closely resembling a four-legged phallus...

Before the evening meal Rides-the-Grave caught up with Antelope, now mostly recovered from her ordeal with the Hill tribesman, but professing to no longer feeling quite as agile as before. She said she hadn't felt well since before they had met: the Black Goat's curse hung over her and Wither, and would not be lifted until they found that demon its new "mother".

Wither moaned gently, and opened his eyes: he had at last recovered consciousness.

* * *

Next game was played on 10th October: 

https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2020/10/pariah-discord-session-016-turtle-lake.html

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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