Lady Anne Mowbry wakes up in a parlor playing some unknown game with a barrel-chested man. The man’s laugh sort of reminds her of her uncle Paul, but it is off enough to be jarring. She concedes the game and leaves the parlor into a foyer where a man behind a counter greets her. He is wearing a brightly colored cloth draped about and around his body in a style that is unfamiliar to her. His name is Ollonni and he is the owner of the Watchers’ House.
He warns her of the dangers facing one such as her outside. He often collects lost magicians that would be a danger to themselves or others. Even after warning her that the world has turned against her people Anne decides to leave. So that she may find shelter he gives her a key. One time only it will open the door to the House, but after that she will have to pay the rent to stay.
Outside the house is a bustling marketplace in a ramshackle city she does not remember. She feels the fear, anger, and rage of another invading her thoughts. She throws off its attack and turns to find herself facing a manticore no bigger than a small dog. The creature struggles to drag her down, but it simply does not have the mass to knock Anne from her feet. Instead it tries to flee, but she corners it against a building. The creature surrenders and tells her it was ordered to bring her to where she belonged. Intrigued Anne follows the creature into the mist where once a building stood.
Halfwyn suddenly wakes to find herself concealed in some ground covering looking over the aftermath of an ambush. Overturned carts, scattered crates of vegetables, and goblin bodies lying about – even the mules have been killed. Her bow was already in her hand, but she is still cautious when she slips from cover. The goblins were killed close in with axes, hammers, and knives. She sees tracks from about ten men leaving to the south.
Following the tracks to the south she comes across a small farming village. Several score of goblin slaves tend to the fields and orchards watched by a handful of human overseers. A messenger on a lathered horse charges down a road to the village calling for the “Elder Pollet.” An old man and two younger boys come from the long house to speak with the messenger. The story just begins when one of the men spots Halfwyn hiding in the grasses.
Halwyn steps out and explains she was following a blood trail from an ambush in the woods. The men of the village slowly circle her and would have probably attacked except that several arrows fell among the group killing one of the young men. Halfwyn immediately ducked into the fields and zig-zagged away from the group. Several more arrows fell into the group of men before they were finally all behind cover. By then Halfwyn had circled completed around and caught the attackers unaware.
Halfwyn’s arrow pinned one of the archers through the leg before they knew they were under attack. She drew her knife and closed in. Although outnumbered her attackers were wounded and would have been killed swiftly but suddenly everything stopped. Halfwyn could barely turn her head to see a rotund baby with a single eye in the center of its forehead waddle into the battle. Halfwyn is still in a muddled stupor as the creature leads her into the tall grasses.
Keribrar wakes near the edge of a forest to the sound of a horn. The melody has a sad and haunting sound as the woods seem to whisper in counterpoint. This would not be the first time time he got lost somewhere, but typically he remembered the why. He follows the tune and comes across a naked elf and a tiger. The elf is playing a brass horn and stroking the tiger’s fur. He welcomes Keribrar to Mocker’s Grove and when he stands upright Keribrar can see he is both man and tiger. Like the centaurs of stories his lower half is that of a larger tiger.
The Harunic calls himself Mr. Canders is amused by Keribrar and during the course of some wordplay he decides that Keribrar would be fun to hunt – Keribrar is not a willing participant. Keribrar offers to tell him a story for amusement instead, which Mr. Canders agrees is a good trade. The story is so poorly told that Karibrar is nearly killed on the spot. Instead Keribrar preforms a bit of magic, which seems to at least buy him some time.
Mr. Canders finally admits that he was waiting for some of the summoned to finally make their way into his woods. He is here as a guide for people like Keribrar to arrive. He is unimpressed by the elven wizard and makes no bones about his chances of surviving the coming collapse. In the end Keribrar agrees to a future favor if Mr. Canders would set aside his disappointment and act as his guide. The agreement struck Mr. Canders guides Keribrar into a thick fog bank.
Thorne wakes up in a very comfortable chair in a well laid out parlor, a goblet of wine in his hand. In fact it nearly slips out when he wakes, but he catches it with panache. After looking around he is in the sitting room of the The Sister’s Roses, a well-known mid-shelf brothel. One of the sidhe walks into the parlor speaking to Throne as if in the middle of a previous conversation that Throne does not remember. The best he can make out of the conversation is that this sidhe is drawn to death and expected to find something here. He is willing to wait for some time to see what happens.
An argument between a patron and one of the Shakkers’ Gang draws the attention of both sidhe. Thorne moves to break up any potential calamity, a task which the madam pays him well. This is not their night at the house and Thorne knows trouble is brewing. Most of the gang members are carrying poorly concealed knives or bludgeons waiting for Holwen’s Boys to arrive. Conversation comes to an end when the door shatters into splinters and blows inward. The staff run for cover as a mage with his hands afire steps through the doorway.
The magician turns his flames on the Shakkers, but a well thrown club disrupts his concentration. The flames lick up his arms as he panics losing complete control. Twin pillars of flames extend from his flailing hands burning anything, and anyone, they touch. The sidhe is fascinated by magician’s agonizing death as Thorne leads the Shakkers out through a window. Outside are a group of Holwen’s Boys who have been waiting for the rats to scurry from the building.
Thorne rushes in-between the groups trying to calm things long enough for him to deal with the still screaming and fire-spewing magician. He barely jumps to escape the other sidhe from poking him with an elongated finger. The sidhe is once again behaving strangely while watching Throne. All of time seems to slow down as Thorne feels his spirit leaving this reality and slipping into the space between reality and the [[lore:fae lands.
The sidhe has been watching people in this land as they have awakened from their slumberwalk, but this is the first he has seen affect one of them. From the sidhe to the lesser fae they have been unbothered by the thing that clouds the minds – all except for Thorne. The sidhe brings Throne to the entrance of a cave. Inside the cave the sidhe is where Thorne will find his answers, but unfortunately not the questions.
Quilate wakes up standing in a dry riverbed looking at a large multi-step waterfall. Where once was a large pool of water a crevice has opened up drain all of the water. In his right hand is a fragment of a skin map with the only Geval ca the only legible word. After taking to wing to survey the lands he determines he is nearly a days’ flight from Fountainhead.
Looking down in the crevice he can see a large lake has formed. The water has a pale green luminescence quality allowing him to see a large henge structure around a central alter. He flies does and lands on a dry outcropping. From close up the water looks and feels odd – slippery and clingy – with a sulfuric smell. There are schools of small fish, probably from above, with their scales flaking off.
Atop the alter is a stone body or bas-relief carving with its hand raised and just extended above the water. Quilate swoops around and tries to grab the hand on his third pass only to nearly be grabbed in return. The hand clearly tried to grab him when he passed over and it now above the water nearly to its elbow. This time he builds up more speed and comes crashing down with his feet, shattering the arm mid-length along the upper arm. As the grime sloughs off he can see it appears to made from a milky jade.
Before he can get a good look at his prize the water begins to bubble and froth. Large steamy geysers shoot out from the underground lake and crash against the roof. He dodges the largest geysers, but just as he nears the crevice a titanic toad rises from the water. He flies up and out of the cavern, but the toad jumps and slams its body into the roof of the cave. Large cracks run along the ground where it hits, some of them even fracturing the walls of the caves.
As Quilate circles around the canyon watching the monstrous toad he spies someone watching the spectacle as well from a concealed position. Quilate gains altitude and strikes down at the spy, knocking some implements from their hands and scattering ink and papers. The woman rolls backwards while trying to kick out at the same time – failing at both and ends up tangled in a blanket.
When she finally untangles herself she lets fly a blistering verbal assault on Quilate. It is clear that she is some sort of academic and has been here for several weeks. She becomes even more angry when she sees the broken jade arm he is holding. She diverted the river in the hopes of reviving the toad goad worshiped by the Geval. Now the creature is clearly angry and will not stop until the entire canyon collapses – already Quilate can see that it can get the front of its mouth clear of the cavern.
Silence descends on the canyon as a stone lemur-like creature pulls itself away from the wall at the back of the cave. It touches the woman on the back of her head and puts her to sleep. The stone lemur tells Quilate that he has finally woken but he does not think he is ready. He has been summoned to guide Quilate, but warns him that his destructive greed will darken his path. The lemur seals the broken crevices and returns the toad-god to his slumber.
He opens a shadow door in the back of the cave and leads Quilate through.
Caves of Chaos
Each of the wakers end up somewhere between the bedrock of reality and the fae lands. This impossible space is twisted and bent filled with abstract things – their spirits twisted not to some deeper truth but as if a child’s game.
Lady Anne appears as rapidly changing statues of possibilities. From mother to warrior to noblewoman to mage. Each one seemingly more and more a disjointed blend of the others than oneself. She tells all to seek her at the Watchers’ House and her name.
Quilate has nothing but a large pair of feet with attached wings. A very small feathered head twisted sideways floating through a golden halo of light and it follows along on a slight breeze. Quilate names himself and tells them he is a jundari from the northeast.
Halfwyn is a two-dimensional werewolf pulling itself off a tapestry with its bloody claws. There is a large rip in its chest from here it has already extracted itself. Halfwyn conceals herself as she prefers to be the hunter than hunted.
Keribrar is a thin glass statue filled with shifting and warring energy each battling for control and willing to destroy everything for domination. A featureless face appears to nearly form in the dominate energy before falling apart. Keribrar tells them his name and that he is lost in Mocker’s Grove.
Thorne is an impossibly large head with a huge smile and glowing violet eyes. Below the head is a tiny pixie body rapidly flitting from place to place sometimes detaching itself from the head. He tells them that he is one of the high Sidhe.
As each of these forms nears the others there is a driving sense of correctness. When they all touch a bright and clear clarion rings out. Each knows that they belong as a part of something greater. They are not whole, but they are more than the sum of their parts. Other floating shapes nearby try to join with them but are rejected.
A patchwork creature of fur, fire, and stone rushes forward from the back of the cave and tries to pull them apart. They recognize at least something of each other during that joining. A bond to find the others in reality forms before the creature scatters them back into reality. Halfwyn and Keribrar withstand the creatures power longer than the others and for a brief moment can hear that its cries and growls are twisted elven words before they are cast back as well.
Qualate wakes back up at the top of the canyon. The woman is gone, but there is still scattered remains she left behind. He still retains a small jade finger in his pouch, but the rest of the hand is gone. He knows that he is drawn to Fountainhead and so sets out to find those other people. He finds Donagal, a rumormonger he as dealt with before, drinking at the Widow’s Wake. The goblin is just wrapping a story for the patrons when Quilate arrives. The goblin tells him that Rathbone of the Shakker’s Gang has a key and if he would kill him then that would square the debt for the information. He is even generous enough to give Quilate a head start from those who have already asked about him today.
Anne makes her way back to the Waters’ House, stopping along the way for some cloth for bandages. Ollonni explains to her the price for staying is one of her memories, which will forever be lost to her. She pays the cost and retreats to her room to tend her wounds. She only asks that Ollonni inform her if any approach the house looking for her.
Keribrar steps back into the fork in the road, returns to Fountainhead, and drinks himself nearly unconscious. The struggle with the creature in the [[lore:Caves of Chaos has left him with memories best buried under alcohol.
Halfwyn walks out of a grain field near fountainhead. It is not difficult the track Quilate to the Widows Wake and eventually speak with Donagal. For the right price Donagal tells her that the jundari is going into the Shakkers Gang territory. Halfwyn ends up getting lost for a bit and forces her way into the territory of Holwen’s Boys. She is battered bruised and more than just a little angry when she finally fights her way into the Shakkers.
Thorne arrives at the Watchers’ House and finds Ollonni nearly subservient to him. He is “honored” and “grateful” to have one of the sidhe come to his establishment. He is giddy with excitement when Thorne pays the memory price. He grants him a fae-crafted key, the only of its kind, and tells him that any door leads to the house for him. Thorne has a nice visit with Lady Anne, even helping her with some of the bandages. He asks Ollonni to move the house next to a tavern so they could get a nice drink.
Quilate flies across the chasm that divides the gang territories from the rest of the town and confronts the “watchemen.” When he inquires about Rathbone the watch are more than happy to point to his home. When Quilate arrives he overhears an heated argument between Rathbone and an unknown woman. Eventually Rathbone storms out of the house with only a cloth wrapped around his waist and his sword.
Quilate tries to calm him but only inflames his angry. He drops the cloth and grasps his necklace. With an effort of power he covers his sword in jagged ice. Unfortunately magic around Fountainhead is challenging and Rathbone loses control. The ice collapses and draws water from the nearby well before flowing into the chasm. There is a rumbling as a large ice giant rises up and claws its way to the surface. As Quilate watches it breathes ice and cold wind on both Rathbone and his house, destroying both.
As the Shakkers charge the creature it begins to wreck havoc on their territory. Quilate searches the rubble and finds the key to the Watchers’ House. He quickly snatches it up and flies towards where the key seems to pull him. He lands in a rapidly emptying street just as Thorne and Anne exit the house. Each of them immediately feel the connection reform. They don’t know each other but they know they all experienced the Caves of Chaos. When Kenribrar staggered out of the tavern everyone knew that at least four of them were gathered.
There is a agreement that first they have to deal with the ice giant destroying the town. Along the way Quilate notices the first of their number is trailing them at a distance. By the time they reach the chasm three more smaller creatures have formed and Halfwyn, the last of their number, has joined them.
Keribrar creates a temporary bridge allowing Lady Anne, Quilate, and Thorne to cross the chasm and battle the creatures. Halfwyn moves among the rubble firing arrows into cracks as the creature moves. Keribrar summons an earth elemental to shield his companions and crush anything it can reach. With the opening provided and the smaller creatures dealt with everyone pours everything they have in defeating the ice giant, which finally collapses into a rotting pile of bodies.
The gang territory has been flattened, but something is building up – everyone can feel it. Where the giant fell it feels as it all magic suddenly explodes outward leaving a spiritual void in its wake. Physically everything looks mostly the same, but there is an uneasiness or wrongness about this place. A place where the living are no longer welcome.
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