Monday, August 19, 2013
The Gossamer Saga e03 : Homebrewed System
The Gossamer Saga : Revolution
" The Fallen"
Months have passed.
Armies have been steadily moving towards the provinces. The soldiers seem to have been headed towards the Capital on foot. But these events are not much the focus of the heroes. Instead, they busy themselves with personal matters.
Kale uses the mirror to peer at his father's location. He seems to always be in the same room. While Kale has been having Ash stay in his room to keep her safe from her self-created night terrors, Kale uses the mirror only when Ash is away. At one time, when Kale summons the visions, the image shows a brighter location that usual. Candles. Robes.
Ash arrives. Kale asks her about "her boon" and Ash admits she does not know what he means. Kale shows her the mirror he received but Ash instead notices, "that place..." She recalls Staniga's Ass and uses the Trust she had learned to Perceive better. Ash realizes she recognizes the place.
It was the same temple she was in when Chi'tarn first recruited her for the Gossamer Tower.
"I never got to finish my mission there. I wonder. What if the man I was supposed to kill was you father?"
"Could you promise not to kill him," Kale asks after Ash offers to bring him there. But Ash admits she would never make a promise that contradicts an earlier promise.
Larkspur angrily thinks of Ballouise and how she has usurped the identity of the Bright One. She stalks Ballouise, spying on her for weeks. A knock on door. Larkspur opens the door to her room and finds Ballouise standing outside. Larkspur reacts surprised to see her but Ballouise tells her she has noticed the other observing her for the last few days. "It goes both ways," Ballouise explains as she refers to the use of the Trust to observe another, and the Totems to find another in the Tower. Reacting to Larkspur's subconscious, the stained glass in the room shatters. Ballouise smirks, "I just wanted to make sure, since I keep bumping into you in the hallways."
Larkspur subtly accuses her of posing as the goddess. She clearly still does not believe that Ballouise could actually be the inspiration or source of the stories of the Bright one. They switch the topic of the conversation to talk instead of a mission to look into the disappearance of the Regent. Ballouise tells her she should do it with Quince. Larkspur thinks of the fear and uses it as a resonance to find Quince in the Tower.
Quince is supervising the archivists in the library. They were amused how he periodically returns to observe them, but now they are getting frustrated and annoyed with his constant interference as he tells them of ways to do things more "efficiently." Over time, they realized it was simpler to just do what he said. Quince sees only success and proudly remarks, "Now there is a proper chain of command. It is efficient."
Larkspur arrives, and tells him of the mission to find the Regent. "What of the others?" he asks.
"The mission was for only the two of us" Larkspur replies.
"How unfortunate," Quince remarks, "I will be back. I will procure a fish." Larkspur's eyes widen as she recalls how Quince had used fish to handle annoying people.
Back in the other room, Kale and Ash continue to argue on whether or not killing is a necessity. "You should never kill," Kale implores Ash, but she admits, "I never kill indiscriminately." Ballouise arrives and the two set aside the discussion for the time being. Ballouise tells them of the Regent of the colonies and how he has been missing for quite some time. While Kale talks to Ballouise about these things, Ash sees the Mirror which Kale left on the bed, and picks it up. "Things have been much more interesting since the arrival of the Caerdin army," Ballouise suggests that they should consider looking for the Regent together.
But Kale, being Kale, reaches out to Larkspur using the Totem. He asks her if they have a mission as well, and tells her that he and Ash were tasked to find the Regent. Ash, amused to remember the quest she never finished, decides to head there immediately. Kale panicks upon realizing Ash had left with the Mirror, and quickly shifts out of the Gossamer to follow her.
In the temple, Kale follows and is surprised to find himself with her up on the rafters of some building. Thankfully, Kale quickly balances himself and looks around. Down below, robed and hooded figures arrive. Kale asks for the Mirror back, and perhaps to sweeten the pot, offers Ash a knife to keep. "I don't think we should be here," Kale mutters but Ash insists that she has to finish this job. Almost as if to force them to make a decision, the two see a young woman brought into the chamber and laid down on a white sheet atop the altar. "Should we do something to stop this?" Kale asks worriedly and Ash questions doing so with Kale's own words, "I'm not supposed to kill, right?"
"We don't have to kill anyone," Kale stresses.
"Then show me how," Ash mutters.
Knowing Kale was bound to draw the attention of the cultists, Ash slips away to the far side and as Kale distracts those present, slithers through a doorway leading deeper into the chamber. Kale uses his Trust to empower his own body to become faster and stronger, and leaps down to where the woman is. He tears off the manacle that locks her to the alter, then carries her on his shoulder as he leaps for the further doorway. The robed figures shriek and claw at him, but are unable to stop him as he kicks the door open to head out. But alas, instead of the freedom of outside, Kale finds another corridor and realizes something Ash had not told him: They are underground!
In the other side, Ash moves silently through the corridors, and uses the Trust to Perceive the walls around her as shadows. She remembers how back in Staniga's Ass, she would use the shadows to block out distractions and focus on her target. She uses it here with the Trust pushing her abilities to impossible levels, seeing through the walls as if they were immaterial smoky lines. Realizing there are so many people in this level, she calls out a false alarm to trick everyone to start rushing off to leave. In her mind, it would permit her a chance to scan the faces of those leaving. If her target is seen, then she can deal with him. But if not, then he is probably imprisoned somewhere and will be left alone.
Quince and Larkspur consider heading to the Capital to find the missing Regent. They discuss on how to find the missing Regent, and Quince suggests they just head there to get information. But Larkspur admits it would help if they had something of his. "Why?" Quince asks.
"Because community links from one thread to another, that's why," Larkspur explains.
But Quince counters that objects are not what represent community. "People do."
They opt to go to Regent's area. The place is massive castle that is built against a mountainside. Larkspur opts to head for the plateau while Quince takes a detour to head for the Apiary. "It has been a while since I've been there," Quince admits.
Larkspur eventually makes her way to a small clearing in the area. She searches for the city marshal and acts all impressed about seeing the large buildings, pushing the idea she's a common person from the rural lands who happens to be lost. The guards, accustomed to such people getting lost, offers to show her to where she needs to go. Larkspur throws a few jokes about having to deliver "buns" and gets them to help her find her way.
Quince visits the Apiary, and they seem to be well tended. The hives are buzzing with activity. He gathers some honey, then considers going to the capital to "sell" the wares.
Kale uses his magic to delay the pursuers. But the lack of light makes his escape harder as does not knowing where to go. He grows a massive tree to help him stay safe against the monks and even takes a branch off to use as a makeshift weapon if he can.
A voice in the darkness.
"Who disrupts my feeding?"
The voice again asks, "Who disrupts my feeding again?"
Seven foot tall woman, greenish skin. Black glowing pools for eyes. She reaches for Kale.
The thing breaks the giant tree. Kale disappears.
Ash sees her target and makes her way to him. A second door catches her attention, with something about it seemingly familiar, but she opts to ignore it for now. Her mission is her goal. It has not been fulfilled for far too long. When she finds the room, she sees it is empty. But using the teachings she learned of the Trust, she peers using the darkness of Staniga as her guide, and the target becomes visible to her Perceive. As she pretends not to know the target is there, she suddenly swoops with her knife to slash at him!
He parries with a staff.
"Who?" he asks with far more words than she can recall.
"The Bright One's Shadow," Ash retorts, amused at herself for finding a new way to name herself and she attempts to leap over him. But he uses some unseen force to slam her against the wall. Ash swings the blade at him, but instead of aiming with the steel, she visualizes the shadow of the blade as the carrier of her will. "Destroy," she whispers and begs her shadow to cut the man. Alas, the man is trained in the Trust as well, it seems, and a magical barrier deflects the strike.
"You may call me, Larkspur," Ash hisses.
"I will remember this name," he growls and vanishes through a portal he creates by slamming his staff to the ground.
Alone, frustrated with having failed, Ash opts to head back to the earlier door.
Larkspur uses the hierarchy of the group to look for the Regent. She remembers the order of her homeland and reflects upon that as she stands at an alleyway to seek out the missing Regent. However, what she finds instead through the Trust is... the Seneschal. And oddly, the man seemed to register as not being part of the hierarchy.
"A word if you may, Quince," Larkspur calls out to him using the Totem. As she explains what she has glimpsed, the odd man replies instead, "There is redundancy here. Inefficient."
"This finding means he is powerless where he should be most powerful," Larkspur suggests.
"Then we must shake the nest," Quince replies succinctly. "The Wasps come to a hive to tell them they are here to take over. In this case, it is because the Regent is gone. Those who have spirited him away will make their moves."
"But how," Larkspur queries, "How will these people know of this?"
"You are noisy. You will figure it out."
Larkspur stomps to the park, screeching about as if she were some preacher of the Bright One. There was a time she would never do such a thing, given her faith to the Goddess. But given Ballouise, perhaps she is more wont to do this act of sacrilege given the Bright One might actually just be Ballouise's other name.
Quince finds a tavern and steps inside to sell the mead he has brought.
As he sells his wares without struggling to generate profit, he takes the opportunity to spread rumors as well of Prosperity being in flames and of others being trapped within until the army that passed had left. With a gentle prodding of the Trust, he ensures the rumors will spread more by twisting it around people's desires and instigating the urge upon them to seek out the Regent as well.
"Efficiency," Quince mutters to himself.
A day has passed.
Larkspur hears rumors that Prosperity is a smoking husk that once was, and that an army has been spreading and pillaging and the like. She is a bit taken aback since none of those were rumors she created. Larkspur makes plans to head back to her homeland, so she returns to the tower for now. She finds the tower in high alert.
"A breach!" the guards exclaim in alarm.
Turns out, as Kale escaped from the monster by shifting back to the tower. And as he shifted, he took with him the naked woman he had rescued from the robed men. The Gossamer tower sensed the companion and diverted his shift to the main lobby instead of his room. "We have a breach!" guards call out as they rush to the area with their pole arms and intercept Kale and his companion.
Gorval arrives, definitely looking very unhappy with the situation. He demands Kale explain himself.
Ash returned to the door. She inspected it and tried to see if there was anything odd but couldn't shake the feeling there was something calling to her. She slipped inside and finds lots of boxes and chests and cabinet doors. Not wanting any more delays, she called upon the Trust to break each and every door.
The sound alerts others to her whereabouts. And as they make for the door, she wraps her arms around everything she could gather from the cabinets, and spirits herself away back to the Gossamer Tower.
She had hoped he was able to take with her whatever seemed to call at her.
But falling to the ground, clattering against the stone floor, was a cufflink that bore the Caerdine Imperial seal.
"With everything that happened, not a single one of you even found any true information about the Regent!"
"We were looking for a regent?" Ash sheepishly asks, unaware of such a goal all that time.