Friday, February 14, 2014

After the Rain ep04 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Four
"Fortunes and Downfalls"

Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain, many of the Ven have found themselves to be far more intense, more imposing upon the world.  This was a reflection of how many young ven were raised to push harder, to fight more intimately, and to act more directly to reconquer that which Shanri had taken away.  In the game, I reflected this by applying one of the old stuff John Wick cooked up in the game's blog.  This system of Fortunes and Downfalls seemed appropriate for our game (even if many of them seem to be written with older rules in mind).  I applied one for each player.

Galeo Silja was of Potent Blood.  Once per game, the player could spend Style to add to Beauty rolls to represent the strength of the Fox in Galeo's blood.  Ironically, Galeo suffered from the Pride of the Elk, however, and would have to actually spend Style to ever admit having made a mistake.

Jaric Thayl was blessed with a Sorcerer's Eye, gaining extra dice when making Risks related to the history, identification and knowledge of the sorcerer-king's old ruins, rituals and artefacts.  This strange benefit left him, however with an affliction of having an Early Solace.  Jaric tended to ramble on and on about the details of what he had learned.

Seran Thorne was raised so young to be wary of threats that she had gained Vanada and could no longer be caught off-guard.  Her family's love of wandering Shanri, however, seemingly had its repercussions as many whispered she was Marked by the Storm.  Ill weather typically followed her around.

Nia Jalan played no part in this session, sadly, as the player had other personal matters to consider.  But in the coming game, I foresee the player having to pick among Acquiescent or Inconspicuous as the Fortune and Coward's Heart or Trusted Friend as the Downfall.


The end of Winter nears.

Galeo recalls the events leading to the death of their firstborne, and the story behind Galeo's transformation into The Artist, and the spouse's transformation into The Painter.  It was to be a Double Celebration at Castle Dunlath; The Baron's first year and the coming of the Child.  There were many notable guests, include Seran's father who brought rare Herbs as a present, and Maja Thayl, Jaric's mother who transforms Every Party into Her Party.

Hero, Galeo's spouse is introduced and during a talk with the mother, Galeo meets the Duke of Tamal (Haroun's father) who came hoping to find a daughter to pair off to his son.  But claiming to have an eye for such things, he pronounces Galeo's coming child as a son and departs when he learns his son is up to some mischief.

Galeo recalls the twins, Ryx And Fex Mwrr being turned away by her mother from the party.  She actually draws her Blood Sword to remind them that they are not welcome.  It is only thanks to Maja's antics that others still find humor in the events that come, even as Galeo begins to give birth and the two break into song.

There is mention of a Work of Art which Hero fails to complete well, leading to a sore moment in this memory.  But nothing can be far worse than the death to come when the young Haroun chooses not to warn the Household of a pack of Orks infiltrating the castle, and the Gateway of Art which Galeo and Hero had created fails to protect them.   In the party, the firstborn dies, and with the death Galeo embraces the name of the Artist, vowing to create a masterpiece before ever attempting to have another child.  And Hero becomes pegged the Painter, to distance him from Galeo and to remind him of his failings.

Memories are painful things.


Galeo awakens to find a Hero away from their bed.  He seems flustered and secretive of his whereabouts.  Galeo catches the sight of an unfinished portrait of their dead child, however, in his workshop.  Galeo shares with Hero the suggestion of her mother that they attempt to have another child.  But when Hero continues to be distant, Galeo decides it may be better to instead focus first on creating a Shrine for Talia Yvarai.  Galeo considers creating a great Work of Art, a marble statue of Talia to hold the Fruit of 7 Kisses in its hand.

Jaric and Seran exchange letters, and the idea to return to Ul and revisit the ruins interests them both.  As Seran tries to talk to Lukas about the upcoming trip, she reassures him that she is going with Jaric and not Haroun.

And that is when Haroun's airship comes into view, fireworks erupt in the sky and rose petals fall like rain.  Haroun swoops down to greet Seran, and upon seeing Lukas, greets him like an old friend.  He teases Lukas (who is dressed in the armor of a Swordsman) that Seran plans to take a dangerous trip, and when Seran reassures Haroun she can handle herself, Haroun pokes fun at Lukas and teases him she no longer needs him.  The words are barbs against his heart, however, given the double meaning Haroun does not realize they happen to have.

As Seran shimmies up the rope, Haroun teasingly asks Lukas why he had never fallen in love with her.

"Everything in the right time and place, my lord,"  Lukas replies.

Haroun thanks him and leaves as well, suggesting that he will be proud to have Lukas serve with them once Seran finally gets married.  The Roadmen turn to Lukas confused.  Why is his wife being referred to as someone who is about to get married?

Seran finds Jaric on deck and he admits to her he invited Haroun to join them.  Seran challenges Haroun to a race up the mast and when the wind blows her hat away, Haroun catches it with his teeth.


Back at Purenote, there is an airship coming upon the tallest tower.  

There, Seran swings down to invite Galeo to join them on a trip.  Jaric is pushed down to tell Galeo that Haroun cannot "dock" the ship given the lack of a proper port for an airship.  Galeo extends hospitality and there is a moment of awkwardness when Hero is mentioned.  All present have heard of how he had been striken of his Blooding to a House.

They talk about revisiting the Ruin in Ul, which most likely is now under the ownership of the unpopular Lady Isolde.  Haroun is good Friends with her, however, and promises them they will be safe in his company.   Galeo opts to go, leaving Hero to manage the Castle in her absence.  

The three eventually return to Haroun's ship, and during the journey argue over Seran's mother and her achievements.  The discussions on the "old ways" and on Seran surpassing her mother reach intense exchanges.   While both eventually realize Jaric hold authority on the subject, Galeo is surprised when she hears Talia mutter, "Listen to him."   Haroun eventually admits that part of the reason he came was because Isolde had asked him to find a way to bring Galeo Silja to her.   As to why, Haroun confesses not to know.


Ul.  The servant that greets the group is called Dara.  The term tickles Jaric's interest, but he opts to remain mum on the term.  As they are guided inside, the Dara asks them to leave all weapons and to continue on without him.  It turns out there are portions of the Castle which Isolde has deemed that only the Blooded may walk.

They find Isolde wrapped in chains and being scourged by women wrapped in white cloth.  They strike at her with the barbed brambles from the roses abundantly growing.  With each strike, they rip away clumps of flesh.  Blood flows from dozens of tiny rivers.  All the while, Isolde remains silent.  Galeo realizes the act is an old forgotten ritual called the Transformation of Talia.  To practice it, it was believed, was an act of intense veneration.  To fail was to never be permitted Talia's presence again.

Even Jaric is bothered by the ritual and his eyes quickly scan the room (as does Seran) for the voice of the speaker seemingly leading the ritual.  They find a Court Scholar on a balcony above the room reading from ancient scrolls, which Jaric convinces the man to drop down.  Jaric accuses the man of speaking of the Fallen Ones.   As Galeo pierces her own flesh to draw blood and empower the Pearl Fragment in her hand, she whispers to Talia to answer if this Ritual should come to pass.

"I hear only you," comes her reply.

Haroun wants to rush forward but Seran stops him.  He notices the fragment in Galeo's hands.  Galeo asks once again if this ritual is of her liking.

But the Suaven only replies:  I hear your prayer.  I hear none else.

Wanting to stop what Galeo felt was blasphemous, Galeo invokes her Secret Name, declares that Truth Will Bloom, and judges that, "This is NOT of Talia, and it is called out!"  All feel the weight of Galeo's words.    Isolde speaks out, ending the Ritual, claiming to finally hear Talia whispering to her and telling her that she is forgiven.  But when Galeo whispers once more to Talia, the Suaven still responds that she hears only Galeo.

Only Galeo.

They realize the one that answered might have been someone else.  The Fallen Suaven.  Afhil, the Suaven of Pain.   Galeo admits to them that the Suaven no longer answer to words and prayers.  They will now only answer to actions.


The old papers speak of strange things.  Of Talia being formerly a Spy Master.  Of her transformations.  Of a word that lead to the Final Transformation.  A word that had never been uttered within the temples of Talia in the past.  But the succeeding page is missing.  Jaric insists the papers must be disposed of, while Galeo feels they should be kept safely in a temple.   Knowing Isolde also heard her Secret Name, however, Galeo uses the Blessing: Moving the Pawn to remind her that she is not to speak of that name ever again.


The child.

Discussion of the child then come.  Isolde admits that she had hoped for Talia's favor.  She had hoped to be blessed with a child.  There has been no ven child born in the last few years.  Galeo wonders if she had somehow circumvented that strange malady, or if the Orks had taken from her someone that no one else could bear.

The servants are everywhere, reaching out and handling things for the ven.  None notice how the veth seemingly have become much more attentive.  Much for focused.
Dranna Ru, Blooded of the Serpent, Landless


And a visitor arrives.  A late night arrival.
Isolde seems excited as she welcomes the guest inside. She informs her that her "brother" had just left.  Isolde explains that her brother had found someone who loves him.  And the woman replies, "One look and I can tell if she truly loves him."

Jaric peers from the steps above and realizes the woman... Haroun's sister... is the blue-eyed Dranna Ru.

Dranna Ru, Blooded of the Serpent, Landless
Three true things about Dranna Ru
She knows more than she should.
She lost her land when a Storm destroyed the Province.
Her brother is the Duke of Tamal, Haroun Q'n, Blooded of the Fox.

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