Homontel, and beyond

As we play, occasionally we'll close a thread and open a new one to keep the size of threads (and relative complexity) down to a dull roar. Here's where we store the closed posts from the history of Errant Road.
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Graybeard
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Homontel, and beyond

Post by Graybeard »

As the wagon trundled toward the intersection, Brother Miguel took the opportunity to look at the landscape around him. No doubt about it, things were returning to a state of normalcy, at least relatively speaking. As they moved away from Centoriel, the forest started to look distinctly healthier, then gave way to pedestrian-looking farm land. Nobody was in the fields at the moment; this was the last day of Departure, and most of the residents were either at home, starting to re-establish the routine, or in town, having one last bender. Because of that second group, it wouldn't do to get to Homontel too early in the day. Things should be calming down after dinner.

Sister Rose reined the horses to a halt as they reached the intersection. "Hang on, got a couple of things to do here." She climbed down and inspected the road sign. "Just as I thought," she said. "It's been turned back so that it's pointing in the right directions. That doesn't help us figure out who did it on our way south, but it certainly makes it clear that it was intentional." Miguel nodded agreement.

"The other thing -- sorry, Lillith, this might make you uncomfortable, but I think it's important." Looking around to make sure no one outside the party was watching (indeed, the road was empty), Rose assumed a distant look, and her green eyes flashed. Reality blurred for a moment, and then she was back in her conventional nun's getup and appearance rather than that of the fashionable explorer.

"I think this will be useful if we go into town tonight," Rose said as she climbed back aboard the wagon. "For a short time after Departure, the people in these little towns will be minding their p's and q's when there are Veracian clergy around. The Orthodox branch, of course, insists that that's because they've taken the Departure time to meditate on their sins and purge themselves of unrighteousness. We of a more ... pragmatic ... denomination think they're just having guilty consciences. Either way, for a day or two, appearing as a party of pilgrims under priestly guidance may help stave off unpleasant encounters." She left the nature of those "unpleasant encounters" dangling in mid-air.

"Now, Sasha, maybe we can help find a way for you to use what happened back there without ruffling too many feathers. Why don't you tell us a little more about your thesis research?"
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Viking-Sensei »

"I'm researching the period of time between the Errant War the Mage/Priest War, specifically the non-Tsuirakucentric version of it." Sasha said, pulling out a ream of loosely bound notes. "Tsuiraku has a fairly well documented historical record of this period of time, but being that my forefathers were living on an invisible flying island and were doing their best not to draw attention to themselves, the scope of their historical account extends about as far as Kiyoka, and that's it. Specifically, I'm looking for the source of the "Yikes!" Signal. Ever heard of it?"

Sasha saw blank faces in reply to her own... except Argus, who quietly groaned a "another one of those"-sort of sigh-groan and leaned back to rest.

"Well, you know how Tsuiraku became re-visible, right? When Luminosita destroyed the elves barrier, the released magical pulse hit Tsuiraku so hard that it destabalized our cloaking spells that had been running for centuries, popping us back into visibility. But that wasn't the only time Tsuiraku's spell shields were 'impacted' by massive magic being cast elsewhere in the world... little ripples hit it all the time from regular higher-end magic usage... occasionally really big ripples would hit it, usually coinciding with some event of global importance."

"Of course, since we were isolated, we never knew what caused the various signals until recently, when we started cross-referencing our shield records with recorded history. For instance, the third highest spike corresponds directly to when Luminosita..." Sasha paused, considerering her next words very carefully... then continued. "...Luminosita's will was made manifest for the first time. And the highest was, as I said, the elven shield going offline. In fact, we've been able to match all of the top 20 signals with real-world analogs... except for number 2, also known as the "Yikes!" Signal."

Sasha held up a chart with a jagged line running across it... towards the left hand side, the line leapt straight up to almost the top of the page, sustained for about 3 minutes (according to the notation), then dropped off again. On the page, there's a big hand-written note reading "Yikes!" and pointing to the spike.

"The "Yikes!" Signal was so strong it nearly knocked our shields offline... the cloak fluctuated for about a day after getting hit by this... thus the note on the official log. Given it's strength and direction, the best we've been able to figure is that whatever happened here happened near Veracia... Probably around what was, at the time, Lorenzel, though with that massive of a burst of energy it's hard to pinpoint it. Tsuiraku made official inquiries into this back maybe... 10, 15 years ago, but was stone-walled by Veracian officials... and while we do have access to Veracian history books... including a few we probably shouldn't, as an outcome of the Mage-Priest Wars, there's nothing in any of them about what could've caused that sort of massive release of magical energy."

"That's why I'm here." Sasha said, triumphantly. "I figure that if it's not in the history books - even the history books that are deemed heretical - than it's something that even you probably don't know about. That's why I've been trudging through muddy fields and poking around old Veracian settlements that pre-date Luminosita - I was secretly hoping that whatever caused the signal spike also caused at least some of these towns and villages to be abandoned, and if I could watch them with the viewer, I could maybe single out some sort of event that might help me locate the source of the signal."

(OOC - For the real-world analog of what Sasha's talking about, see The Wow! Signal)
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Drannin »

"Yeah, I've heard of it," sighed Argus, who'd had his ear talked off by a colleague on the subject. Said colleague was presently labelled 'bastard no. 121' in his mind, but never mind that. "The 'yikes' signal had everyone up in arms. Didn't everyone worry that it was going to permanently de-rez the shield? I don't remember. In any case..." Argus glanced at Rose and Miguel, "It took a god to knock down the field in the end, anyway." Or a convincing facsimile thereof, but no point aggravating the people you're relying on.

"Weird how 'Lorenzel' is always associated with 'weird shit,' eh Boss?" Harker suppressed a yawn. If it wasn't architectural, he wasn't interested.

Argus was quiet, and looked speculatively at Sasha. "Any theories thus far?" Personally, he was a fan of the Interstellar Scintillation Leading to Mana Field Fluctuation Theory; which basically translated to It Happened, Get Over It. Sort of a reaction to all of the conspiracy theories out there. Honestly, Argus wasn't convinced that it was anything other than a weird malfunction that some klutz had thrown a story around to cover his own ass.
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Viking-Sensei »

Sasha shrugged. "It's as good a theory as any... one of the 'lead researchers' on the subject claimed to have first-hand proof that it was actually an invisible magic volcano rupturing, and wrote several novels to that end... one of the Mesuinu clan, a few generations back, if I remember correctly. Yeah, I know the subject tends to bring them out of the woodwork - that's part of why i decided to investigate this as my thesis. It's a popular subject of speculation, but so far that's all anyone has ever really done - speculate. I want some proof, one way or another."
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Graybeard »

"Interesting," Brother Miguel said. "I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Centoriel is worth your further investigation; it sounds like that kind of thing, and Centoriel is definitely that kind of place. The spider-golem isn't ours, it isn't Tsuirakuan, it doesn't look dwarven or elven, so whose is it? The time frame fits; the spider was deeper underground than the big war golem, after all."

Sister Rose looked dubious. "Maybe. This isn't the time to go back and find out, though. That site is going to be the subject of some decidedly unwelcome attention for a while, Sasha. I'd definitely let that die down before going back there."

Miguel started to say something, but was interrupted by the arrival of the second parrot. "Good," he said. "I was worried we'd have to take this in town, where keeping it quiet would be a lot harder. Let's stop here for a minute and see what it has to say; we're not in a hurry, after all."

(UNCLASSIFIED) As promised, the second installment pertaining to your recent experiences.

(LUMINOSITA'S SECRET) Your hypothesis that one of the three travelers succumbed to the Malletarian teleport trap is almost certainly correct. Other sources have reported a puzzling overnight increase in activity at the Malletarian compound in Farrel. Details will have to wait until you reach Lorenzel. We recommend, in the strongest possible terms, that you NOT investigate this disappearance yourself.
(The parrot was practically screaming at this point.) The hazard far outweighs any possible gain; besides, we can't imagine that Egbert Kankaniel would have made the mistake of falling into that trap, so it would be a digression en route to your goal of finding him, and a horribly dangerous one at that.

(CONFIDENTIAL) As for the Arganial surname, investigations are still continuing, and will take some time -- as I noted, Arganial is a common surname in Farrel, and many leads will have to be checked. However, we have learned that two Farrelite exchange students surnamed Arganial, a boy named Burton and a girl named Elizabeth, are enrolled at Emerylon University. Details are lacking but will be sought; there is a possibility that these two may be the "Buddy" and "Liz" you cite.

(SECRET) If feasible, we request that you secure the horses the three victims were riding, and bring them to the nearest temple, either in Homontel or Mashtel, depending on your route. They will be stabled there until we can send a specialist to see whether anything can be learned from them. We'll make arrangements with the respective temple priests; you should be expected.

(UNCLASSIFIED/OUO) There have been some developments in Kiyoka that may interest you, but they do not appear to bear on Kankaniel's disappearance, and are not urgent. If I may say so, a qualification for becoming Cardinal Inquisitor appears to be that you be a complete pain in the ass, and an insensitive fool in the bargain. You're lucky you're not there. Thank Luminosita for small blessings, and good luck as you continue to search.

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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Sareth »

In the back of the wagon, Lillith stirred. "Temple?" Her voice sounded nervous. "You'd just be dropping the horses off, not staying the night, right?"

Leaving the ruins had been immensely helpful to her. Once they'd gotten clear of the place the spirits had become far more pleasant to deal with. They were still a bit subdued compared to what she was used to, but they'd been far more sanguine than those at that place. She'd spent a while just touching and being touched by them in the back of the wagon. It had helped calm her a great deal and set her back on kilter after her harrowing experiences.

Now she was close enough to 'back to normal' to get quite nervous at the thought of someone like her wandering the halls of a Veracian temple.
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Graybeard »

"I honestly don't know," Brother Miguel said. "We surely won't be staying in the temple. Homontel probably isn't big enough to have a full-sized temple complex, with extra rooms for travelers, the way some of the larger towns and cities do. Besides, if they do, it'll almost certainly be Orthodox, and we won't be any more welcome to spend the night there than you would be. Well, not much more, anyway."

Sister Rose nodded agreement. "Much depends on the local situation. It's very unlikely that we'll find a Reformed congregation this far from Saus, but I'm hoping that there'll be at least a small Millenarian temple in town. That's Father Egbert's denomination, and if there's a Millenarian priest there, he'll probably be more inclined to be helpful than an Orthodox priest will be, even if the military has told him to cooperate. If there's only the Orthodox temple, everything will depend on the temperament of the particular chief priest, and to some extent, any junior priests and nuns. It's really the top guy who sets the tone, though."

She subsided as a carriage passed by them, heading north. The man with the reins kept his eyes fixed straight forward, not responding even to Miguel's raised hand and Sign of Luminosita. The pregnant-looking woman beside him gave the wagon and its travelers a brief, frightened look before scolding the three small children in the back seat -- pure curiosity in the little ones' eyes, until their mother(?) got to them, when they assumed the same glassy-eyed stare as the adults.

"Well, that says much," Miguel said after the carriage passed. "Not only Orthodox, but conservative. They were probably freaked out at the sight of a woman driving a wagon with male passengers. It's not really contrary to Orthodox canon law, and in most parts of Veracia, people don't have a problem with it, even though the men do most of the driving. Even out here, most of the towns should be okay with women operating a wagon; it's agricultural country, and the farmers need all the help they can get. That reaction doesn't prove they're ultra-Orthodox, but it's certainly suggestive."

They rode on in silence for a few minutes until the wagon crested a slight rise, revealing a small-to-medium-sized town on the southern horizon, still some distance away. Two church steeples were visible, a large one that seemed to be near the center of town, and a smaller one on the outskirts.
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Sareth »

"This isn't a good idea." Lillith's voice was soft, but clear in the quiet. She hadn't said a thing from the moment they'd passed the carriage, but it had been clear that she'd been thinking. "If they don't even like you, then having me along will give them an excuse. I'm a woman, a half elf, and a heretic. I should go." She sounded reluctant, and yet certain.
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Viking-Sensei »

"Well, I hate to say this, but should we split up? Maybe they-" Sasha said, making a thumbish gesture towards Argus, Lillith, and Harker "-should get off and let the three of us take the horses to the temple. I've got some local clothes and with my hair up I could pass for Veracian, at least with a little effort, but elfy here isn't the only one that's going to have trouble passing... Argus and his talking weasel are a dead-giveaway for foreigners. I'm just thinking that if they stay out here and lay low, we can go into town and see how bad it is, then come back for them if it's not so bad."

Sasha pulled out some plain Veracian-style clothes that she'd picked up along the way in her efforts to blend in and slipped one of the frumpish brown-tan-grey shirts over her own clothes. Then she took out a scarf and tied her long golden-blonde hair up so as to be less tempting and likely to offend the conservative sensibilities.

Of course, the act of pulling her hair up meant that now, for the first time ever, everyone could clearly see her ears... her really, really pointy ears.
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Re: Homontel, and beyond

Post by Sareth »

For a second, Lillith didn't react. The advice being offered by Sasha seemed sound to her. It would probably be for the best. Let the Veracians deal with their own issues. She'd already been dragged into things too deeply as it was. Knowing as much as she already did, being a half-elf...

And then she gasped.

Half-elf.

"Cover your ears!" she hissed at Sasha. "COVER YOUR EARS!" Putting action to her words she grabbed Sasha's wrist and pulling her hand away from where the girl was tying back her hair.
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