Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Drusia » November 19th, 2015, 1:58 am

"NOOOOOOO!" the man's yell came from beyond the barrier, but even in the few seconds it lasted, it was becoming fainter, as though receding in the distance at speed. And then it was replaced by something else, a high, gurgling, choking rattle ... one which Therese knew from experience was the kind of death scream made by a man whose throat had just been cut.
The rattle died out, maybe from distance, maybe from the end of the speaker's life, as the Dwarven Artifact clattered to the ground where Armature had been standing. From beneath the rock wall, blood began to seep.


I hide behind Therese, pressing my eyes closed against his scream. I try to take a calming breath, to tell myself that the black thing didn't hurt me, so it won't hurt him either.

And that's when his scream goes high and gurgling. And when the blood begins to pool.

I want, very much, to run screaming. Or, slightly better plan, to grab Therese's hand and then run screaming with her in tow. I don't want to be here. Why did I think I could do this?

No. No, I can't run away. I can't go to pieces. People are counting on me. Therese. Brad.

But what can I do? It didn't hurt me before, but was that merely a coincidence? Or maybe because of Compassion? Was she protecting me somehow?

A new thought occurs to me, startling me out of my immediate fear. Compassion's cries. I assumed she was lovelorn, but what if she isn't trying to be with the black thing, but prevent it from hurting people? Maybe she wants to return to her destiny, but can't because she's the only thing stopping this creature from going on a killing spree. That would explain why she refused to leave - not because she wanted to stay, but because she felt a responsibility to stay.

Sasha must have been the one who released the thing from that crypt - or prison, maybe? Whatever it was, Sasha is likely the one who unleashed it - hence why she fled so quickly. And that's also why Compassion feels responsible - because her guardian caused the problem. Maybe at her behest? What did Compassion expect to find here?

It's still just my best guess, but it holds together with what we've seen.

My reason, spurned on applying logic to my wild guessing, considers another item as well.

"Spirits don't cut throats," I tell Therese, my voice surprisingly calm. "It has some sort of physical form. That means it can be physically damaged."

I call on Anilis, praying to her to grant Therese and Brad strength and courage. I let Anilis fill me, radiating her holy light. I normally do this to calm a first time lover's fears, but now I do it to grant them the bravery to do what needs to be done.

If I knew how to banish illusions, I would remove that false rock face, but I don't. That means we have to go inside. One at a time, we're vulnerable. All at once, we'll have an advantage. I step out from behind Therese and stand tall.

"Hit it with everything you've got!" I shout.

Time to charge. Anilis protect me. Anilis protect us all.

-- Desiree

OOC:
Sorry, been busy grading (amoung other things). I'm still here.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Graybeard » November 20th, 2015, 6:50 pm

[OOC: No prob, good stuff is worth waiting for, and that was very good stuff... and now it hits the fan. This is long, but I hope, also worth waiting for. Incidentally, it's playing out differently than I intended before Desiree did what she did.]

Later, Therese (and Brad) would reflect that what happened next might have been anticipated, at least in gross outline, Errants being what they were. However, it wasn't, at least not by her.

As the exorcists tried to rally their destructive magic against whatever lay behind the stone face (not much rallying they could do; Therese was the only one of the group with much grasp of destructive magic, and what good would her Earthquake defensive magic do here? -- which question, to be sure, would shortly be answered in the most dramatic way), the four Santuariel militiamen who'd escorted them up to the site, and then stayed below, were startled out of their torpor by Desiree's shout. They sprinted up to the site, arriving just as one of Therese's Force Bolts crashed uselessly against the face; not the first one she'd cast here, and no more productive than the previous two, to all appearances. The command to "Hit it with everything you've got!" was clear enough, but what could they do? The men were mainly sword-swingers rather than spell-casters, and for three of them, their own Force Bolts contributed almost trivially to the energies being directed at the target.

The fourth one, however ... the fourth one, a man named Tamaz ... his reaction was different.

Therese saw the glow of Errantcy, and of unknowably strong magic, rise in his eyes. (That was the part that might have been anticipated, she later thought; if a half elf was going to make the transition from stability to Errantcy, this was just the kind of setting to cause it.) Before she could stop him, he screeched a single word -- "EARTHQUAKE!" -- and mighty magic burst forth.

Two years later, Sarine would save her own life by using this same spell in her battle with Melrin. What Tamaz did would make Sarine's magic look like an exercise from a Tsuirakuan kindergarten.

The whole world erupted in sound as the earth heaved, knocking all nine men and women off their feet. A time later that might have been a microsecond or an hour -- time had ceased to behave here -- came the second sound, a great WHACK! from the stone face, a sound like the crack of doom. And then came the third, final sound, the sound of sounds, a sound that came from everywhere and nowhere and penetrated not just the bodies of the exorcists, but their very souls. Sanity could only take just so much of that sound, and the men's and women's consciousness fled under its impact.

-------------

Time passed; none of the people at the site, being unconscious, knew how much, but it was still dark when a party from town, sent by the watching priest couple (and, of course, including Lillith), came upon them. Lennart's comments about watchers if things went to pot were looking all too relevant, but then, the exorcists began to revive. Desiree was first, and the others came around in proportion to their distance from her as they lay in the clearing. (That was another thing that Therese would wonder about later, when she found out about it. Had Desiree's goddess protected them from the worst of whatever happened? It seemed an interesting question.) At least those present and surviving did, but that excluded two of the party. One was Padre Glim. The priest had simply vanished without a trace, other than a slight scorch mark where he had been standing when Tamaz cast his spell. The other was Tamaz himself, who was quite present, but also quite dead, without an obvious mark on him.

Of the rock face, there was nothing to be seen; only an earthen hillside stood in the moonlight. That moon had just been coming up when Reverend Armature met his fate, Therese realized, and now it was high in the sky; that must mean that several hours had passed while the exorcists lay unconscious. No magic remained on the site, no sense of evil, nothing. The forest had returned to stillness; the banshee's wail would not be heard this night.

Armature's blood, however, remained; proof that what had happened here had not been a dream, if any proof was needed.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Drusia » December 1st, 2015, 4:28 pm

I don't remember how I got over here. I remember waking up... and now I'm sitting here on the earthen rise where the rock face used to be. Tears run down my face.

"I don't know what to do now..." I whisper, watching my tears land on the dirt.

I tried to help. I thought I knew what to do. Wrong again.

Is it my fault? Did my choices lead to this? Is Compassion lost because of me? Or was she lose before we arrived, too far gone to save.

I wipe at my tears, but more replace them.

"I don't know what to do..." I say again.

-- Desiree
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Graybeard » December 1st, 2015, 11:19 pm

For a long time Therese said nothing, but simply held Desiree in as warm, comforting a hug as she could manage. This, of course, was due in no small part for the love she had developed for her partner, but it was also because she didn't have a clue what to do next, either.

By the time she released the hug, a number of things had changed. For one, the sun was soon to come up. That was good, Therese thought; based on the previous night's experience, if any dark forces remained in the clearing, they would flee, or at least become dormant, before the light of day. For another, the crowd had thinned out. She dimly remembered Lillith gathering Brad up in mothering style, and gently walking him down the path back to town; presumably they would spend the rest of the day being love and comfort to each other (and sleeping). Most of the rescuers who had come while she was unconscious had left too, as had the surviving militiamen. [OOC: Paging Boyd; this would be the time to introduce your character if you want to join this thread. /OOC:] However, Lennart was still with them, looking tired and ten years older, and now he spoke.

"I don't know what happened here," he said. (Nice to hear we're not the only ones, I guess, thought Therese.) "Did we release some evil force on the land that we'll have to hunt down? Did it somehow get Glim? Or did something else happen, and the evil is gone now and won't be back? I just don't know."

At these words, Therese reached a decision. "I don't know either," she said wearily to Desiree, "but I don't know about you, but I've had enough world-saving to last me for a while." (This coming from a woman whose entire adult identity was bound up in saving the women of Goriel, one at a time. She didn't even manage a weak smile at this break from her character.) "Maybe we can ... take a break. Travel back to Refuge-Nouveau, let you see what my homeland is like; I think you'd like it. Rest up..."

She squeezed Therese's hand, and there was mist at the corner of her own eyes as she continued. "... And start building a life together."
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Drusia » December 5th, 2015, 12:42 am

"I don't know either," she said wearily to Desiree, "but I don't know about you, but I've had enough world-saving to last me for a while. Maybe we can ... take a break. Travel back to Refuge-Nouveau, let you see what my homeland is like; I think you'd like it. Rest up..." She squeezed Therese's hand, and there was mist at the corner of her own eyes as she continued. "... And start building a life together."

I blink my teary eyes and look at Therese for a moment. For a moment, I don't know how to respond. I'm feeling so many things. But... at the end of the day, I'm a priestess of Anilis. I know how to read a lover and respond.

"... I'd like that," I say softly. It's what she wants to hear - what she needs to hear. And it's at least partly true. I like many things about that idea.

I look up from the dirt to take in my surroundings for the first time in a while. Hours? I'm not sure. Then I look up at Therese. "You should help Lennart and the others. I'll be alright here for a few minutes. I... I need a moment alone, I think."

Therese looks torn between happiness over my earlier response and concern over my request. Still, she does as I ask. As Therese moves off to help Lennart and the others, and when I'm certain she's out of earshot, I turn my attention back to the dirt at my feet.

"Compassion," I say, making sure I speak softly enough that Therese and the others don't hear me, "Are you there? I am a servant of Anilis. Please, if you are still here, somewhere, somehow... please come to me. I want to help you complete your destiny. In Anilis' name, I pledge my aid to you. Compassion, if you yet live, please, let me help you."

I don't close my eyes. I sit there, waiting. And, as I wait, I pray to Anilis: Please, Anilis, if Compassion is still here, please guide her to me. And if she is gone, please, Anilis, watch over her. I am yours, Anilis - do with me as you will.

I sit and I pray and I wait.

-- Desiree

OOC:
If Compassion appears, then Desiee will do her best to aid her however she can.
If Desiree gets some other sign, she will respond as best she can.
If nothing happens, Desiree will follow Therese to Refuge-Nouveau.

I await whatever is to come.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Graybeard » December 5th, 2015, 8:47 pm

No sooner had Desiree finished her prayers than four things happened in quick succession.

First, a gentle gust of wind wafted through the clearing, coming from the west. It had on it a subtle fragrance that might have been just the scent of the pines, might have been a gentle hint of perfume, might have been something else. It lingered but a moment, and did not tarry.

Only seconds later, a doe deer peeked her head into the clearing from the north, She blinked at Desiree in surprise, then slipped back into the trees, perhaps spooked by the human (and half elf) spoor on the breeze that had passed through, perhaps .... well, who could tell?

Mere seconds after that came the sweet call of a nightingale, heralding the morning sun before she retired for the day. This bird soared over the clearing from the south, and then she too returned whence she came.

And finally, the sun rose in the east, over the town of Santuariel. It wasn't just any sunrise; for a brief moment, the sun's rays illuminated a cloud that, one might fancy, bore a passing resemblance to a winged figure. The moment passed quickly, but the cloud lingered in the east.

That was the problem with omens: they were so ... ambiguous.

[OOC: Hey, you didn't think it was going to be THAT easy, did you? :twisted: ]

----------------

Meanwhile, Therese was seeing Lennart and the others off down the trail to town. They should have no trouble getting back, she thought; there were already signs of life in the town itself, and the first few hardy souls were heading for the fields. She took a minute to put up her detection magic as she bade them farewell, finding nothing of any note in the breeze and nightingale's call (which she observed) nor in the forest whence came the deer (which she did not). Nor was there any residual magic or evil or anything else in detection range, other than Desiree's own magical essence ... and she wasn't sure what to make of that.

Is she trying to put me off? Did I do something wrong?

She started to go back to where Desiree was praying, but something told her that the priestess of Anilis needed some time. Well, let it be so; even the most passionate lovers couldn't be together constantly. She'd learned that from both of her previous relationships, and she wasn't going to risk this one by disregarding the lesson. She caught herself before reaching Desiree, and contented herself with another quick scan of the site where the rock face had been; and now she noticed something that she hadn't seen before, the dark of night being what it was.

Low, grassy weeds were growing from the hillside where the face had been. That wasn't remarkable in itself, nor was the fact that they looked a bit wilted and pale, as though they hadn't seen the sun lately. But how could that be? If they'd been hidden behind the rock face, they wouldn't have grown at all, being starved for light from the moment they sprouted. They'd managed to emerge and grow to a modest size, but now they were looking light-starved in their later growth ... as though something had come along to block the light.

Something, maybe, like a rock face that hadn't been there when they came up, but had only come into existence when Compassion -- or maybe just Sasha -- had passed by.

That was something to think about as she waited for Desiree to emerge from her meditative state.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Drusia » December 13th, 2015, 12:24 am

I wait... and nothing. No Paedagogusi anyway. Some animals approach and then vier away, but that's as likely because of us - or the presence of whatever darkness was previously here - as anything.

If Compassion was here, she isn't anymore. Or she won't answer me. Either way, there's nothing more I can do.

I wipe two final tears from my eyes, and then stand up. Therese is nearby examining... something? I walk over to see what she's up to.

"Ready when you are," I tell her.

-- Desiree

OOC: Those mysterious 'signs' would have meant more to a nature/spirit specialist like Lilith.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Graybeard » December 13th, 2015, 12:27 pm

[OOC:
Drusia wrote:OOC: Those mysterious 'signs' would have meant more to a nature/spirit specialist like Lilith.

Actually, they probably wouldn't have. :roll: Anyway, a short one this time, with something bigger (and a decision point) after you reply:]

Therese stood from where she was examining the plants, took Desiree's hands, murmured a soft "I love you," and administered a gentle kiss. Then she pointed out the recently shadowed undergrowth. "I wish I'd noticed this earlier," she said. "Looks like that rock face was a recent arrival here. If it had been here all along, there would have been no room, and probably no sunlight, for these to grow. And you can see where some of the leaves have gone pale as they got bigger. They were in open sunlight for a while, and got shaded by that face, which means the face came along after they'd started growing."

She looked up. "Like, say, when Sasha came by. I remember Argus saying Sasha's gadgets could see back in time, in a scary way that allowed parts of the real world that existed in the past to come into this one in physical form. Wonder if that could have happened here?" She shivered. "If it did, I want no part of it. Time magic is scary."

They probably did not hear the distant call of a Melnibonean kingfisher at this point, but they might have. [OOC: Take that as a starting point for reading more, if you wish, on what Argus "told" them during some presumed down time during the group's travels. Incidentally, it would have to have been Argus who spun the yarn, as Rose declined to when she had the chance, only mentioning the time-projection part of Sasha's gadget, although she wouldn't have been angry with Argus for telling the kingfisher (and dragon) story later.]
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Drusia » January 10th, 2016, 11:40 am

She looked up. "Like, say, when Sasha came by. I remember Argus saying Sasha's gadgets could see back in time, in a scary way that allowed parts of the real world that existed in the past to come into this one in physical form. Wonder if that could have happened here?" She shivered. "If it did, I want no part of it. Time magic is scary."

I think about that.

"... implying that the black thing was something from the past that Sasha unleashed." I shake my head. "If I ever meet this Sasha, I'm going to slap her. This has all been her stupid fault." She had Compassion, and lost her - somehow.

I sigh. "Come on," I say softly. "Let's get out of here."

-- Desiree
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Postby Graybeard » January 11th, 2016, 11:21 am

"Let's," Therese agreed, squeezing Desiree's hand. They walked in silence back to town, to retrieve their belongings; but as they reached Brad's and Lillith's house, they noticed that Lennart (deputy mayor? husband of the deputy mayor? they still weren't sure) was waiting for them, carrying a pair of objects.

"The keys to the city," he explained, handing one to each of them. "Of course, there are no gates that these keys open; we're just here, But If your travels bring you back, know that you will always be welcome, and appreciated for your services in dispelling the banshee. Now if you will excuse me, I must go comfort my wife."

Therese was genuinely touched. "Thank you, sir, and please give her our best regards. I'm sorry to hear she is unwell. Desiree and I both have some healing skills. Is it anything we can help with?"

Lennart smiled sadly. "Afraid not, my dears -- my friends. Hers is not an infirmity of the body, but of the soul. She is in mourning for her sons."

Uh, oh. "Her -- sons?" Therese repeated, almost certain she knew what was coming next.

As indeed it was.

"Glim and Armature," Lennart answered, now looking about ten years older than he had moments earlier. "Now please excuse me. Safe travels and the blessing of the Cosmic Good be upon you." He didn't wait for a response, but turned and walked back toward his house, his shoulders sagging and his footsteps dragging.
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