Saturday, 30 January 2021

PARIAH ETAU CAMPAIGN, SESSION 26 & 27: PLANNING & PLOTTING

These events continue from the TWENTY-FIFTH session but also picks up the characters not seen since the NINETEENTH SESSION. The real world session took place on Saturday 9th and 16th January 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  

Players:

- Eugene  https://twitter.com/eakiselev  as Nervously Rides the Grave 
- JFur https://jenniferixon.itch.io/ playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind
- Mister Kent https://twitter.com/MrKentKomiks as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín https://twitter.com/OisinoftheHill playing as Earnestly Wooded
- Semiurge http://archonsmarchon.blogspot.com/ playing as Witheringly Footed at the Point

The Temple of Water


28th Day of Crow Moon

Beautiful Other was joined by Antelope, the old ally of the founding pariah band in hope of tracking down the mystery surrounding the irrigation temple and the apparent disappearance of Wither, Rides-the-Grave and Earnestly Wooded. The latter resolved itself fairly soon after leaving the settlement...

After the injuries he picked up in the encounter with the giant spiders EW took plenty of time to recover, improving his tattooing skills all the while and even drawing one on his one-armed friend. Rides received an image of the aforementioned arachnids while EW etched a rather good rendering of the mysterious Light Bringer they had encountered in the Land of the Dead. Wither meanwhile fortified the camp and helped to ensure they were well stocked up on food. They quickly intercepted Antelope and Beautiful Other on their journey towards the temple, spying them from their encampment and filled them in on what was occurring. With assistance from local girl Lion, Beautiful Other and Antelope infiltrated the temple's lay staff.

Keepers of Names and Stories

Pretending to be cleaning the upper tower while Twelve was teaching, Far-from-the-Lake (as Beautiful Other chose to abbreviate her name in the temple) bypassed the priest Fimu with ease. He was transcribing soft clay tablets onto hard stone tablets, apparently listing names and dates of the order's members.

Having convinced Fimu that she was there to clean, Far-from-the-Lake was able to enter the chamber above, crossing the creaky wooden floor and retrieving a number of artefacts. On sheets of papyrus in black ink Twelve had made a number of recent sketches accompanied by markings she assumed corresponded to the written language known to Earnestly Wooded. She stole them.

Returning to the floor below and reuniting with Antelope and Lion, the trio crossed paths with the corpulent and somewhat inappropriate priest Doonwit. They learned little from him but failed to raise any suspicions. They left Lion behind and returned to camp.

Back at Camp

Rides-the-Grave had used the shaman shrooms available to him with some invocation magic in an attempt to penetrate the mystery of the spider. Already aware that the creature was somehow controlling the leader, Aiduk, and also aware that it was subservient to the Spirit-of-the-Forest, Rides sought away to break the malign influence. He emerged from a trance clutching a mysterious red flower, with instructions to transform it into a powder to destroy the spider.

Using sharpened sticks in a broad circle surrounding the camp, Wither had created an effective corral and temporary fort to defend against future attacks. The camp was also well situated on the edge of the forest to prevent detection from the temple.

Upon Beautiful Other's return with Antelope, EW was able to decipher some of the content of the stolen papyrus sheets. The pariahs' suspicions regarding Aiduk were echoed though Twelve seemed unsure as to the provenance of the spider. There were also sketches and notes regarding the incarceration of the Daughter of the River, the spirit-of-the-place that gave the temple its significance. Though the language was archaic and somewhat obscure to this son of the northern steppe, EW detected that the writer was wrestling with their conscience over whether it was moral to act.

EW and Beautiful Other decided to gather some food before sundown, while Rides searched for mundane spiders upon which to test his magical flower.

A Curious Canal

To the west of the temple ran a canal, embanked by the worked stone of the settled peoples. Seeking some fish or amphibians, the 2 pariahs travelled to it, though hoping to keep out of sight of the temple priests.

At such an extent the structures that embanked it had crumbled or were non-existent, and the canal seemed to spill out into a broad wetland. After bypassing an abandoned shrine to a water spirit (a stone relief of an otter with fish scales, matching the sketch in Twelve's notes) they spied a priest in the distance, wading in water with his blue robes rolled up above the knee. Two youths splashed and larked in the water beside him, while two ordinary looking settled spearmen kept the to one side.

They seemed unwilling to engage with the pariahs, and took their leave shortly after contact was established, heading off into the sunset along the forest's edge... away from the temple.

The two pariahs managed to procure a handful of small frogs and a few fish for their evening meal.

Ape Attack?

As the two foragers were returning Rides alerted the camp to the presence of a shadowy figure on the forest's edge. Instructing his dawn spirit to "catch" the raider, he heard the figure hit the ground, and located a semi-conscious orange-furred ape clutching a linen shoulder bag, wearing an expression of ecstasy upon its face. The pariahs were attacked by stones thrown from other figures in the forest and retreated back to Wither's fortifications. The ape recovered, and retreated into the forest.

EW spotted a hand-sized spider and brought it to rides: using a combination of natural charm and the afterglow of his magic mushrooms, he coaxed the spider to nibble on the red flower he had been given, to no apparent effect. Tentatively, Rides-the-Grave took a small nibble of an individual petal. The dawn spirit, given to him in return for his arm, writhed in agony: they now knew what the flower was for.

29th Day of Crow Moon, waning to a slim crescent

Fallen-far-from-the-Wind caught up with the pariahs not long after dawn while hunting on the forest fringe. The jungle was already creeping into the paddy fields of Etau's people, many of whom had abandoned their sites now that the irrigation priests had neglected their duties. Dry season's sun shone high in the sky and the clouds showed no signs of descending to this side of the mountains.

Having obtained multiple outfits of both the water-priests and their lay servants, the pariahs were now warming to the idea of infiltrating the complex more directly and winning the support of Twelve. Wearing the white robes of the "unclean" (though Wither kept a change of priestly attire beneath his cassock) Fallen, Wither, Earnestly Wooded and Antelope made their way inside, with Rides tripping the light fantastic beneath Beautiful Other's watchful eye.

At the entrance Fallen explained to the guards that she was on a pilgrimage, and the guard was happy to allow the pariahs in wearing such attire, as it seemed the community of lay-folk had a fairly porous relationship with the surrounding community.

Within, the pariahs obtained a short audience with Twelve, revealing their scheme to release the water-spirit from the bonds placed on her and destroy the spider that had twisted Aiduk's mind. Twelve pledged his tacit support, but made it clear this meant nothing greater than turning a blind eye and providing information: by nature the priesthood were conservative, and would not be able to comprehend the nature of the insurrection against them. The pariahs would be on their own: they would need to use subterfuge and skulduggery, but a plan was taking shape.... they needed the cover of darkness, a distraction, and access to entheogens...

* * *

The campaign continues at LINK TO FOLLOW.

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

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