Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

For in-universe game play. Journey through both familiar and foreign settings, explore lost ruins and forgotten cities, and try to bring light to the darkness of the world... or, you know, blow stuff up. Either way.
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Graybeard
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Post by Graybeard »

"I don't know about this..." Therese almost-whimpered, but she held onto Desiree's hand as they walked cautiously toward the glow.

Was it moving away from them as they approached? It was hard to tell. The light was too faint to cast shadows in the brightening landscape, and the soft wailing that continued to surround them wasn't sounding any more distant than it was. But the possibility was unnerving. Therese couldn't help remembering the stories from her youth, of will-o'-the-wisps that would glow mysteriously in the forest and lure the curious to their destruction. She'd always discounted those stories as wild tales, not least because they always seemed to have happened to the friend of a friend of a friend, who'd heard about it from another friend, and so on. But when you were the one seeing the fire in the forest ... well, the nervousness was a little more immediate.

They'd been picking their way through the rough terrain for quite a few minutes when there was a drastic change in the situation.

Afterward, when she regained consciousness, Therese would remember, whether accurately or not, that the sun was almost up when it happened. The wailing had died almost to the point of being inaudible, and the light -- yes, it definitely seemed to be receding -- was almost indistinguishable from the growing light of day. But then ... the words, or rather word, of the wailing changed, and its volume grew a thousandfold, enough to strike the women almost as a physical blow. There was still only a single, Tsuirakuan or elvish word in the banshee's howling, but it was one she'd heard enough to recognize it: a long, utterly despairing "NOOOOOOOooooo..."

The light suddenly blossomed in a massive flare of magic, just as the sun first appeared over the horizon. And then it was gone.

The blast of magic in its wake came as a physical blow. Therese recoiled backward, as much from the emotional content of that wail as from the magic. Whatever the cause, it was enough for her to hit her head, hard, on the rock outcropping they had just passed.

As blackness engulfed her, she had just enough time to consider it a relief....

[OOC: No problem with bringing Lillith back into this. Her reluctance to come out for this night is a matter of being in character, rather than something that I don't want to do.]
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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The wailing had died almost to the point of being inaudible, and the light -- yes, it definitely seemed to be receding -- was almost indistinguishable from the growing light of day. But then ... the words, or rather word, of the wailing changed, and its volume grew a thousandfold, enough to strike the women almost as a physical blow. There was still only a single, Tsuirakuan or elvish word in the banshee's howling, but it was one she'd heard enough to recognize it: a long, utterly despairing "NOOOOOOOooooo..."
The light suddenly blossomed in a massive flare of magic, just as the sun first appeared over the horizon. And then it was gone.


The first thing I notice is the whine. It's high, piercing, and constant. I hear it - and nothing else.

I open my eyes on darkness. But that doesn't make sense - it was just dawn. I should be able to see. Unless...!

I push myself up and concentrate on casting a light spell. I'm too tired to do it well, but I manage to create a febble light. I practically fall over with relief and the faint light illuminates my hand and arm. I'm not blind!

My relief, however, is shortived. I'm sitting on a stone floor. How I got here, I have no idea. Therese... is nowhere within a meter of me. I remember losing my grip on her hand when... when the light came. I call out to her, but my voice sounds like a far away echo and I can barely hear my own words over the whine.

My ears? I touch sticky wetness at my ear, a dark smear across my fingers. So it's my hearing, not my voice that's the problem. I let the light spell go and cast a healing spell, touching it to both of my ears. The whining lessens, but doesn't stop. I try speaking again, and I can hear myself a little better, but it still seems oddly distant. That's... actually, I don't know enough about healing to know. I guess my ears might heal more on their own? I can hope.

I cast the light spell again and stand up. My legs feel wobbly, but I don't topple over. I need to find Therese. If hear ears are hurt too, she might not have heard me calling for her.

I try to make the light spell stronger, but I'm just too tired and pained. I can't get more than a couple more than a meter and a half of dim light.

Which, as it turns out, is just enough to prevent me from stepping off a ledge.

I stumble back from the edge and fall over, landing with a muted thump. After rubbing my poor, abused posterior, I crawl back over to the ledge. I reach out with my light... and I can't see the bottom. So, it could be a two meter drop, or it could be a bottomless pit - no way to tell. There aren't any convienent pebbles about, and even if there were, I probably wouldn't hear one land over my ears ringing.

Instead, I stand back up again and cautiously walk along the edge of the ledge. I wonder why no one thought to put a railing on this thing. The... actually, I don't seem to be on stone anymore. Wood, maybe? I'm not sure exactly what the floor is made out of anymore - just that it's not a forest.

Before I can wonder more about that, I find the end of the ledge. Or, rather, a path leading off from the ledge. It appears to be some sort of ramp leading downward. It's wood, I think, but not carved - it looks grown or magically shaped to a walkway. And, once again, there are no safety rails on the ramp as it heads downward with possibly bottemless pits on either side.

"I want to complain to someone about the lack of safety regulations," I say aloud, mostly for the comfort of hearing someone's voice. My voice seems a bit clearer, and a bit closer, I think. Is the ringing getting softer? I... think? That's good - maybe I'll be back to normal in another hour or two.

Now... if only I wasn't inside of some sort of dark, mysterious...

I kneel down and touch the ramp. I run my fingers over the rough texture. Wood, I'm all but sure, but unfinished wood. Smaller pieces of wood branch off from the ramp into the abyss to either side lik... well, like branches.

Am I walking on a giant tree?

-- Desiree

OOC: Enjoy the curveball.
If Therese wakes up, she should find Desiree mysteriously vanished.

As for where she is... well, if someone turned the lights on, I imagine it would look something like a rundown version of this: http://www.errantstory.com/2005-10-12/426

Not the same location, mind - just similar.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Post by Graybeard »

[OOC: Good stuff! Run with it! And it's consistent with what Therese is about to experience...]

Therese struggled up to consciousness, with the warmth of the newly risen sun on her face to distract her from the throbbing in her head.

She had no idea how long she'd been out. In objective time, it couldn't have been that long; the sun was just about to peep over the horizon when that magical/emotional blast had hit her, and it wasn't very high in the sky now. In subjective time, however, it seemed an eternity.

She'd had a dream, or vision, or the Sisters alone knew what, while she was unconscious. She'd been floating through the air toward the source of that magical explosion ... and suddenly she wasn't in the air any more. Rather, she was in a vast cavern full of weird shapes and vapors and glows that seemed to come from nowhere, walking (or was she still floating?) along a decrepit catwalk far above the cavern floor. [OOC: In other words, a place resembling this one in much the same way as Desiree's resembles the Giant Magical Potato. /OOC:] The light was receding in front of her ... and then it wasn't light at all, quite the contrary; it was the most profound darkness she'd ever experienced, a darkness of the very soul. The darkness seemed to reach out toward her ... and then she'd awakened.

She shook her head tentatively to try to clear out the cobwebs, but abandoned the attempt almost immediately; the throbbing got worse with every movement. And then, somehow, it all cleared, under the influence of what could only be a Healing spell. Bless Desiree for casting it; she apparently hadn't been hit by that force as badly as she herself had.

But then, a baritone voice made it clear that the source of the Healing wasn't Desiree at all.

"Therese! Thank Luminosita you're all right!" Brad said, with a vast sigh of relief. "I was just out, saying my dawn prayers, when there was this awful noise and --" He broke off just as Therese ventured to open her eyes and see that the speaker was who she thought it was. And they both noticed something, or rather someone, amiss.

"But where is Desiree?" Brad and Therese said at the same time.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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Am I walking on a giant tree?

I keep walking.

The air feels... it feels like it does in the caves beneath Snamish. Did I fall down a hole and end up in a cave? Maybe this is some sort of giant root system? I'm sure I learned somewhere that certain trees had roots underground that resembled upside-down trees.

Of course, you'd think I'd have noticed a tree that big sticking out above the rest of the forest. Unless that tree died and only its roots were left?

The branch ends abruptly, spreading out into another platform. It seems I was right about it being a cave as there is a earthen wall with a tunnel leading deeper. Or less deep, or into a bear den - I have no idea.

The bear den option gives me pause. I'm too tired to cast the calming spell again - particularly not at the power level I did earlier. I need to rest. I've been going non-stop half the night.

Since the ledge looks fairly solid, I sit down in the middle and let my light spell end. The pitch blackness is really black. I close my eyes and pretend I'm back home in Snamish. There are plenty of caves that serve no useful purpose other than giving children somewhere to play. It wasn't unusual to nap in them.

I curl up on the ground and try to sleep.

....

....

Yeah, no. That isn't happening. Tired as I am, I too scared to sleep. Okay then, if I can't sleep, maybe I can meditate? Calming and centering myself might help. I open my eyes - futile in the darkness - and sit up.

And blink. Light. It's faint, and it looks pretty far away, but there's some sort of light.

I call up my own light spell, as faintly as I can. I hold it up... and I can tell that the faint light was coming from the cave tunnel. Slowly, I stand up and walk into the tunnel. I can't see the other light while my spell is on, so as soon as I'm in the tunnel, I let my light spell end again. At first, it's just darkness, but after a minute or two I can see it again - a faint glow in the darkness.

Okay, so probably not a bear, unless someone has invented phosphorescent bears.

It might be the way out. Or at least to a part of the cavern where some sun can leak in. If so, going that way might be my best bet to find my way out of here.

I call up my light spell again - just in case there are any pitfalls or ledges - and start off down the tunnel. If it splits, I'll have to end my spell again until I can figure out which way the light is coming from.

I walk for several minutes, but there are no other branches. The tunnel leads straight ahead.

And, once again, ends abruptly. I... I think I see light ahead, but I'm not sure, so I drop my spell for a... I've lost track of how many times now. I let my eyes adjust for a moment and... and I can see the source of the light.

Unlike the last, vast chamber, this one is small. Well, not small - just smaller. It is dimly lit by a lightsource in the center. There's some sort of dias that resembles a broken egg and not much else - other than the tiny crying woman. With wings.

I swallow hard and pray to Anilis to give me strength. Then, slowly, I walk into the room. She sheds enough light that I don't have to worry about tripping over any of the debris in the room. She doesn't seem to notice me, so I take care to not get too close. When I'm in what I hope is a non-threatening range, I kneel down, trying to get nearer to her height, and take another breath.

"Compassion," I say softly, "I'm here to help you."

-- Desiree

OOC: Her reaction, I leave to you.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Post by Graybeard »

The tiny figure stopped whimpering and turned around, and Desiree saw madness in her eyes -- not necessarily the same madness as the last thing an elven high commander would see in his ten-thousand-year-long life, two or three years later(*), but the same general idea. (At least there was no hammer, although she did carry a tiny spoon.)

"Dessssstinnyyy..." the fairy whispered, almost inaudibly. In the distance, a spot of darkness formed.

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

"I think we'd better get Lillith," Therese said, regaining her senses. "If what I -- saw while I was out is this Compassion, she's no messenger of the gods, she is a very scary spirit, with the forces of darkness behind her. Lillith broke the ties between another scary spirit and the physical world, if I understood Rose correctly. We'd better do it again."

Brad gulped, but nodded and started down the path. A question needed answering first, though. "But where did Desiree go?" he asked; that did seem like something they would need to know, after all.

Therese shook her head. "I don't know for sure. You get Lillith while I'm figuring it out. But I bet she's wherever this Compassion goes during the day time ... and it's nowhere she wants to be." She set about looking for tracks as Brad hurried back to town.


(*) OOC: We have never fixed the time relationship between Errant Road and Errant Story firmly, but most likely the starts of the two were both in the spring, with Errant Road earlier by either two or three years. A couple of characters in the "Airship Pirates" thread group had taught classes at Sashi Mu that included Meji, before game time, and knew about the ice incident mentioned in Bani's backstory here. So this episode doesn't have anything to do directly with what Sarine, Jon, Meji, etc., experienced, and we can go where they lead without necessarily stumbling over canon, although we'll still have to be careful.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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The tiny figure stopped whimpering and turned around, and Desiree saw madness in her eyes -- although she did carry a tiny spoon.
"Dessssstinnyyy..." the fairy whispered, almost inaudibly. In the distance, a spot of darkness formed.


Am I too late? Has... has whatever happened here driven her mad? Can the gods be insane? That... would explain a frightening amount about the current state of the world.

Okay, this might be dangerous, but I don't see another option.

"Yes," I reply softly, "I'm here to help you complete your Destiny. I think it might be mine as well."

She tilts her head at me. Does she even understand? I move a little closer, edging slowly, trying not to startle her. She watches me intently. She's... beautiful, in a scary sort of way. She looks a little like my mother - like a Rinkai - but with wings. Or... are her ears maybe a little shorter and rounder than they should be? Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but she looks a little more like a half-elf than an elf.

"Dessssstinnyyy..." she whispers again.

I nod. "Desinty," I reply. "Your destiny - and mine." She blinks at me, and... did she just furrow her brow? She's so small, it's hard to tell. Am I getting through to her?

I hold out my hand to her, slowly so as not to startle her. She watches me intently. "I heard your screams," I tell her softly, my hand offered in friendship. "I heard your pain. I've felt it too. And, like you, I was lost. I cried and screamed too. But someone was there to show me compassion. I think... that's what you need now. Just like I needed it then."

She looks at my hand, and then up at me. Then she clutches the tiny spoon to her chest, looking up at me through her matted hair with wild eyes. But she doesn't move away.

"I'm here... to give myself to you," I tell her. "Take me. Use me as you need to. I am yours - and you are my Destiny."

My own words shock me slightly. I didn't plan to say that - the words just slipped from me. Was it Anilis? No... I don't think so, not this time. I think it was just... my heart.

"Destiny..." she whispers slowly. And then, still clutching the spoon to her chest, she reaches out with her other hand and touches mine.

I expect something to happen - for her to possess me or - or something. Instead, it's just a touch.

She stays like that for a long moment, her tiny hand pressed against mine. And then, her wings flutter, just for a moment, and she's sitting on my hand. She snuggled againt my palm, like a child cuddling into a too-small bed, her legs and arms too long for my small hand to contain.

I pull my hand to my chest, using my breasts and other arm to give her some support. I hold her against me like a child.

Tears run down my face. I don't have any limbs free to wipe them, so I lean my head to the side to try to wipe them on my shoulder without disturbing Compassion. I only kind of succeed. It's okay though - she seems to be asleep.

So... what now? I was kind of hoping that she would get us out of here. That seems unlikely, at least for the moment. I suppose I could go back the way I came?

I turn around and see... something. A shadow... except nothing's casting it, and it's moving, and nothing else in here is since I'm standing still. Whatever it is, it's near the tunnel I came in by - or maybe farther down the passage? - I can't tell. I'm not even sure how it's casting a shadow when there's no light behind whatever it is.

"H-hello?" I ask. The... thing... doesn't respond. So, not help then. "Are you what did this to her? Are you what's hurting her?" I keep a protective arm around Compassion, trying to shield her from... it.

"I won't let you hurt her anymore," I tell it. It's an empty boast since I have no idea how I would stop anything with my arms full. Still, maybe the threat will give it pause? Or amuse it?

"She's under my protection," I add, trying to sound brave and heroic. My voice cracks in the middle of the word 'protection'. So much for brave. "If you want her... you'll have to go through me." Okay, that was a little better.

There's another tunnel behind me. I haven't been that way yet, so if the... thing comes forward, I can bolt that direction... and hope there aren't any pits for me to fall into.

-- Desiree

OOC: Two years sounds good to me. I don't expect this to have any effect on canon - hence why I specified a different potato/tree than the actual comic. More like a ruin... or a memory.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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"Nev-- nev-- never--" the small fairy got out, the first words other than "destiny" and "no" that Desiree had heard her say -- if it was an entire word, which it might not have been. She was looking at the blackness as she said this, and she cringed back against Desiree's body.

The blackness, in its turn, emitted its own soundless wail of pure pain, but it stopped in its tracks (or in midair or however it had been advancing). Then it started to say something too.

"Com-- com-- comp--"

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

Aha, Therese thought. She'd picked up Desiree's footprints, which weren't hard to follow under the circumstances. Even a less skilled tracker than she (hopefully, for example, either Brad or Lillith) would have had no trouble following them to a blank rock wall, beside a faint trail heading up toward the mountains -- but there they stopped abruptly.

Therese's magic sense told her that this was no ordinary wall, however. There was a distinct magical field surrounding it, but of no kind of magic she had ever run into before. With more than a little nervousness, she started to go through her arsenal of detection magic, hoping that the Nurias would appear soon; this seemed like the kind of place where Lillith's ability to divine the nature of things from the "spirits" might be useful.

Little did she know.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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"Nev-- nev-- never--" the small fairy got out. She was looking at the blackness as she said this, and she cringed back against Desiree's body. The blackness, in its turn, emitted its own soundless wail of pure pain, but it stopped in its tracks (or in midair or however it had been advancing). Then it started to say something too.
"Com-- com-- comp--"


I swallow hard and try to look brave.

"So, you're called Never?" I ask the blackness. I'm just guessing, but I get the impression that it and Compassion are trying to say one another's names. No idea why - maybe, as magical beings, they feel the need to greet one another before... whatever this is? I would say doing battle, but if that was the case, it looks like Compassion already lost.

The blackness doesn't respond to my question. Typical. Probably overwhelmed by multi-word sentences.

Okay, that was supposed to be a joke to reassure me, but I'm almost kinda wondering if it might be true. Hm. Might be worth testing - at least if I had a better idea about which way led to outside. I'm pretty sure that back the way I came led to a dead end, so... I guess my only real option is the other passage.

"Well, it's been fun," I say, backing slowly towards the tunnel, "but this little demi-goddess and I have a breakfast to be at. So we'll just be going now. Of course, if you'd like to listen to me tell a really long story about a Cortessan..."

I step into the passage way, walking with an awkward sideways gate so I can both keep an eye out for pitfalls or side passages and still keep an eye on the black thing. Because, if it decides to charge at me or something equally threatening, I'm just going to have to start running blindly. Or, well, slightly less blindly since Compassion puts out a little bit of light.

-- Desiree

OOC: Yes - if it turns out that talking a lot is the creature's secret weakness, then Desiree will be telling the entire Cortessan story again (the one that so scandalized Tim). Otherwise, she will be running and screaming a lot. ^^
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

Post by Graybeard »

[OOC: The thing in the blackness isn't much for conversation. :evil: So:]

"Comm-- comp-- compa--" the blackness droned, continuing to advance toward Desiree. However, when it reached the mouth of the tunnel that she had retreated into, it stopped as magic crackled in front of it. For a moment, it remained in place, grunting the same syllables over and over. Then, slowly, almost ponderously, it retreated whence it came.

Compassion's reaction to this development may not have been exactly what Desiree was expecting.

The fairy's eyes got big, and her glance darted from Desiree to the blackness and back, then again, and again. Her facial expression, never particularly subtle, moved from nervous to outright terrified, Then she uttered that one long, pain-stricken syllable that Desiree had heard before -- "NOOOooooo" --

-- And ripped herself free of Desiree's embrace and flew through the magic at the tunnel's mouth, toward the blackness, but maintaining a good distance from it as she resumed the "Never-- never--" call.

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

Therese paused in her spellcasting, panting hard. She'd tried every bit of detection magic she knew, learning nothing except that whatever magic covered the rock face was both powerful and completely unknown to her. She'd reached out a nervous, tentative hand to touch the rock at one point, fearing (hoping? it was hard to tell) that she'd be sucked through it to wherever/whatever Desiree was; but the rock appeared to be just that, solid rock, apart from the magic,

She was still regaining her strength when Brad and Lillith came into view. "Over here," she called, and the couple joined her at the rock face. Quickly she explained what she knew of what had happened. "I'm just sure Desiree got through this somehow, and she's in there," she finished. "But I don't know where it leads, and what is behind the face, because this is as far as I can go."

Lillith's face formed a look of determination that would have been unimaginably out of place on her just a few weeks earlier; she'd gained a lot of self-confidence in her time with Sister Rose. "Give me some room, and some time," she told the others. "I'm going to ask the spirits about this thing." She settled into a meditative pose (her expanding tummy wasn't yet big enough to interfere with that) and started to murmur softly under her breath as the other two complied.
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Re: Santuariel, Compassion, and the banshee

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"Comm-- comp-- compa--" the blackness droned, continuing to advance toward Desiree. However, when it reached the mouth of the tunnel that she had retreated into, it stopped as magic crackled in front of it. For a moment, it remained in place, grunting the same syllables over and over. Then, slowly, almost ponderously, it retreated whence it came.

Then she uttered that one long, pain-stricken syllable that Desiree had heard before -- "NOOOooooo" -- -- And ripped herself free of Desiree's embrace and flew through the magic at the tunnel's mouth, toward the blackness, but maintaining a good distance from it as she resumed the "Never-- never--" call.


"Okay, so you... like the dark thing?" I wonder aloud, walking back towards the barrier thingy to watch Compassion, "But you can't approach it? You know eachother's names. So there's a connection between you." I frown, thinking of Kenny again. Is she...? "Are you...?" I start to ask, but of course she can't even complete multi-sylable words, so it might be a bit much to expect her to answer a question.

I have an idea. A very, very bad idea. Heh - what else is new tonight?

"This is a very stupid idea," I say to myself, walking back through the now invisible barrier. "I don't think I can even come up with a worse idea. In the history of bad ideas, this must be some sort of record holder. I should win an award for what a bad idea this is."

I walk back up to Compassion, who has resumed laying on the ground by the broken egg thing and whimpering. I pick her up again - she doesn't resist, and even cuddles against me again. So far so good.

The dark thing... stays put, not advancing or retreating.

"Do you love her?" I ask it.

"Comm-- comp-- compa--" it replies.

I crack a small smile. "Close enough." I turn look down at Compassion, cradeled in my arm, and stroke her hair with my free hand. "Do you love...it?" I nod towards the darkness.

"Never--" she cries.

"I really wish I knew if that was a name rather than an instruction," I sigh. "But, for the moment, I'll take that as a yes too."

I adjust her, making sure I only need one arm to support her, and then carry her a few paces towards the darkness.

It backs away. Ha. So her light is repelling it. They want to touch, but they can't. Maybe it's love, maybe it's something else, but whatever it is, she seems to want to touch it. And she can't. And she's screaming out in despair.

I serve Anilis. It's my duty to help.

"Okay," I say to both Compassion and the darkness, "I'm going to make myself a conduit. I can touch both light and darkness - I can be your bridge." I have on idea if they understand me, but it makes me feel better.

I turn, putting my body between Compassion and the darkness, shading her light from it. And then, slowly, I edge towards it -

- just as it bubbles towards me.

I reach out my free hand, shielding Compassion's light from it, trying to touch the darkness. My fingers brush it and - cold. So cold. I gasp as - as something - what the hell is it?! - surges into me.

Compassion, cradeled against my chest, suddenly burns scalding hot. It's just an illusion, I tell myself - just her light filling me, her heat.

And my other arm is so cold. The cold spreads into me, meeting the heat and... oh gods.

"Worst," I gasp, crumpling to my knees, "... idea... ever...."

-- Desiree

OOC: Did Desiree just accidentally absorb Exitallis? Cause that would be sort of bizzarely perfect.

Either way, I'm pretty sure she just passed out. So, you might want to move things ahead a bit.
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