Image by Pablo Dominguez
Leif, a gigantic, white-haired true-kin. Escaped servitor. Wields a dyad rifle. Owns a singing crystal that wails in cryptic song.
Faulkner, “Faulk”, a golden-black new-ibis. Believes he is human. Refuses to wear a mask. His soul was taken by Azathoth, but his body remains on this earth, undecaying.
Nullseed, “Null”, a floating drone-companion, known as a troton. Rescued from a lizard lion attack.
Snow Child, an ash-coloured mycomorph, constantly shedding spores. Saved from a tumblesnare.
The day dawns with an angry sky baring its tooth-white lightning. But no rain falls from the clouds.
Leif wakes up in the distended canopy of some mycogenous material. Beside him is the body of Faulk, in a macrobial burial caul. There wasn’t the slightest sight or smell of decay on him. Null, the troton, is nestled in the corner, blinking stand-by.
An ash-skinned mycomorph enters the tent through some hidden sphincter in the membrane. Watching Leif closely, she introduces herself as Snow Child, and tells the true-kin that he is inside her tent and they have made it safely to Eigin Oasis.
Leif looks at his mangled limbs and tries to recollect the previous day. The horrible realization of how Faulk died stumbles through his mind, helped along by the shrugs and monosyllabic words of Snow Child. The blackness of the nightmare reaches out of the past and forces Leif under. He sleeps while Snow Child prepares a small meal of smoked and salted char-flesh. The remains of a daggertrunk.
Leif wakes later to the feeling of a brush against his cheek. His eyes open and he sees the wings of a messenger moth. It reads:
Passed along to me, from the mouth of an undying friend, was a message. You desire a book that you lost to the bandits at Bent Gully. It is known wide and far that I hate these book-thieves and writ-mongrels. I run a caravan on the lowland trade route, which they pilfer at a whim. My journeys are prolonged from having to give them a wide berth, instead of using the straight-path. Perhaps we can bear arms together and send these ruffians all to Sheol. My fighting men, Zeeb and Zolphan, are well-armed but battered from relentless fighting with the script-knaves. Look for me at the great crystal with the tourmaline window.
“I need a healer.” Leif tells Snow Child.
“Malamue, the she-cobra, is a great healer. You have water tokens? Or something for trade?” asks Snow Child.
Snow Child requests Malamue come and inspect Leif, which she does. After looking over his obscene wounds, she declares that her healing powers can only come at a great cost. Snow Child remains silent. Leif tells the mycomorph to search Faulk’s body for the nightmare box.
At first, Malamue recoils when it is presented, her sorrowful bronze mask shaking.
“It is powerful. It held a dream of Azathoth,” Leif says.
“And so fittingly.” Malamue throws a thick silk cloth over it. “It reaks of the strangest pits of hypergeometric darkness. Azathoth’s fingerprints are all over it.”
“Was not Azathoth a sower of decay?” Leif asks.
Snow Child folds the silk cloth tightly around the box.
Malamue blinks behind her mask, her tongue flicking unseen.
“It would be dreadful if a box like this fell into the wrong hands.” Leif pulls himself up. “Much better if someone could take it and give it a proper cleansing.”
Malamue looks at his striking white hair and salient eyes. “Where do you venture after this?”
“To the southwest. Bent Gully.”
“I shall take this . . . relic into my care.” She grabs the silk-covered box and places it beside her. “There might be a benign use for it yet. No doubt it holds its own power, which could be rechanneled for good. But I request one more thing: if I heal your wounds, will you keep an eye alight for my mate, a synth named Austa?”
Leif nodded. “It is the least I can do.”
“Return news to me within the week if at all.” The new-cobra took off her mask and procured a satchel of elements from beneath her robes. “My elixirs will not leave you the same way they met you. It erases the true-kin’s immunity to mutations. But by next morning, you will have limbs anew.”
“A fair price for brevity,” said Leif.
Snow Child leaves to tend to her own business. She comes back in the evening with a surprised look across her face. Snow-like spores shiver around her. She tells Leif that a young thunderstrike is prowling the skies. A reminder of the long reach of Xrax. Leif says it might explain the rainless thunders this morning.
End of the seventh day.
Afternote: I am happy to end up in Eigin Oasis. I know I’ll come back here again. Note: I changed the location of the Oasis to be south of Xrax’s Lair. Before, it was west. There is a great set of people and things to interact with here. A bunch of stepping stones to push the PC’s off in a new direction, or to spur them towards their current goal. Can’t get over how cool it would be to receive a message written in the wings of a moth. And of course…what a great idea to make a healer one of the main denizens. My travellers needed that, bad.
I’ll also be leveling up these characters. About time.