This little vignette is a roughed out legend for my 3.x D&D/Pathfinder/Swashbuckling Adventures game in the original world Maraeternum. The story is meant to explain (in part) the development of a certain type of nasty thing in the world (amongst others, I suppose…).
The tragic tale of Ghaund and Amarestine
Once upon a time, in the uncounted centuries before the fall of the Basilica del Mare, on the shore of a great island lived the sorcerer Ghaund. He once had been a great man, though as he grew in powers arcane, he had forgotten how to care for other living things. His beloved lady, the prophetess Amarestine, had foreseen this and left when she could bear his growing coldness no longer, retreating to a cave at the far end of the fair isle that had been their home through all of their years.
Ghaund came to be beside himself with pain at the loss of his beloved Amarestine and begged for her to return. She refused him sadly, warning that she could not love a man who had forgotten how to care.
“But you are the light of my heart, my reason for breathing!” Ghaund protested.
“Would that you remembered the emotions that could birth those words, my love,” replied Amarestine, for she could see in his eyes that there was no love there, only the pale memory of real feeling. “I can only return when you have remembered how to love me and all others, as you once did.”
And so she left him on the walls surrounding the tower they had once shared and retreated to the far end of the isle, through the villages there, over streams and across the woodlands, and abided in a cave on the shore.
Ghaund fretted and seethed, thought and plotted, consumed by his inexplicable need to have his lady returned to him. Though he could not remember how to feel, he knew at his core that he needed her at his side, though he knew not why. Nothing would stop him in his quest to return her to him—not even Amarestine herself.
For a time, he sought to remember how to feel, though her words made no sense to him. He could cut himself, and he would bleed, and it would hurt, though it would heal in time. He felt no pleasure from the healing, only the pain of the cut. He felt no gladness when he gazed upon her portrait, only sadness eating away at his soul. There was no reason to feel, no reason to care. There was no joy in giving to others, only loss. His heart grew cold, his heart grew hard, and all he knew was that his magic soothed the only things left he could feel—pain for the loss of his lady, ambition for the power to retrieve her, and anger for his inability to have her as he wished.
And so he began to plot, to work, to scheme. He read a thousand books, wrote to a thousand scholars, spent a thousand sleepless nights at work to find a way to bring her back to him until he finally found a way.
He had created from kelp and ambergris, gelatin and water, magic and alchemy, creatures malleable and yet man-formed. He shaped them, he honed them, and he imbued them with powerful magics and even more powerful compulsions. These creatures—his great triumph among triumphs—would surely be able to return his Amarestine to him! And so he sent them forth, oozing, slipping, running across rocks and cobbles, through woods and water, until they reached the cave in which Amarestine made her abode.
The prophetess was not startled to see these strange creatures, man but not, liquid yet solid.
“O Ghaund!” She despaired. “Oh, my love, what have you done?”
The creatures fell upon her then and carried her back to their master, who felt no joy at the return of his beloved. He looked upon her and sighed, feeling nothing. He touched her and though his blood raced, he knew not why, kissed her and felt light-headed, knew her and yet pleasure did not truly reach him.
And so he kept her there, in the tower, guarded by his creations, until all the days of their lives were utterly spent, and learned nothing at all.
I’ve slipped back into the gamemaster’s chair recently for the Thursday night crew–Torg GM is absolutely torched, so I volunteered to step up and run something. That something is Maraeternum, the World of Endless Ocean. It’s a world that I’ve been playing around in for several years now with a longtime friend of mine from my Star Wars days and it’s actually kind of cool to be able to run something in it. Last night was the second session of it and everyone’s backgrounds are already crossing nicely (whether some folks are realizing it or not). No barfights–not yet–but I’m sure that’ll come soon enough. They’re scoundrels and pirates–it’s bound to happen sooner or later.
It’ll be an interesting ride. I have several plotlines that are starting to be seeded. Some they’ll walk right into. Others….
First off, happy 18th birthday to my little sister as of 9:51pm last night. I was at Trish and Chris’s house, in their basement, playing Torg at the time. I really don’t think she minded, since I know she was playing an OYO concert.
Now on to the Torg update.
I’m not going to subject anyone who happens to care to read this to a YouTube video of this week’s song, which was “Turn the World Around” by Harry Belafonte. I told David it was the weirdest song we’ve had so far (Weirder than Gorillaz? He asked. I said yes.).
At the beginning of this week, the Well of Forever looked back into us…and I don’t think most of us liked what we saw. What Ren ended up seeing was a reality bridge in Orrorsh and herself using the Starfire Wheel to make it fall apart…only to leave herself open to the demonic frog deity she banished in Ys almost a year ago.
Banishments only last, apparently, a year and a day.
When we all snapped out of it, Mable and Grace fell over unconsious (Liz opted to stay home since her mother got H1N1 and Jen had to stay late at the library), which meant Mei and Christian had to carry them out of the suddenly very unstable cavern….a cavern suddenly very unstable because of artillery that was mowing the lawn for advancing infantry and cavalry.
After barely managing to not get ourselves blown up, killed, or otherwise maimed, we climbed out of the hole to find a Polish patrol standing outside of the hole we climbed out of. After convincing him that Ren was an American soldier, the others were able to climb out of the hole. All of us were brought back to a forward post where they ran our IDs again…and that’s where we found out that the guy we thought was named Alex was actually named Anton Fratelli (and declared that if Ren made one Goonies reference….not that she would ever do something like that in the first place because Goonies really wasn’t her thing) and is a CIA operative. Which Ren suspected after she saw the sniper rifle but never made mention of–why look a gift-horse in the mouth, after all?
Of course, on the ride to behind the lines, Ren and Anton argue. A lot. He’s been given the full plot dump, warts and all, and has decided to take Ren to task for it even though most of the circumstances were largely beyond the group’s control (was she really supposed to tell Amarant that he couldn’t become a wall? Really? And, for the record, the Order is NOT a snuggie cult). When we finally make it to the more substantial operations center behind the lines, the party is reunited with Dr. Hatchi Mara-Two (Too?), who is as scattered-brained and special as ever.
Mable’s got some wacky stuff going on with the nanotech virus in her blood. There’s nothing we can do about it, and Galen did something weird with it. Greeeat.
From there, lay out the situation–and begin to plan, for once. Using Anton’s networks, we put out calls to every ally we can think of to come help us storm the papal holdings in Avignon, to stop Odyle before she can break the world. God only knows if we’ll be able to stop her. We’ve put out a call to the Knights Templar, to the Mystery Men, to the First Fleet, everyone we can think of. But we have to find the Knives of Artemis, Mara’s said. If we can find them, we may have an easy way into the papal palace, a way around the guards. We hope. But finding them will be easier said than done…and do we have the time to find them before everything comes to an end?
Nanowrimo began on Sunday, and I was out of the gate with more than 2000 words before I went to bed at 2am on November 1. By the end of the day on November 1, I had almost 4,000 words in. As of this writing, I’m sitting at 5,465 words and counting–already above where I need to be for today (I would need to be 5,000 words in to be on par for the day — I will probably push for at least 7,000 before I sleep tonight).
My project is, of course, the project I’ve been doing the world-building for which I’ve posted here. The Last Colony tells the story of humanity in its twilight, with the potential for a dawn. The synopsis as posted to the Nanowrimo site is as follows:
Old Earth is dead.
A hundred light years away, New Earth is dying, murded by human hands.
Thousands of years after the human diaspora, another homeworld is dying the same death, promising that history does, in fact, repeat itself, and no one cares.
The Rose Foundation and the Psychean Guard have a plan. The world of E557 is their last hope to save all that is right and good in humanity. Sustainable energy. Virgin soil. Some of the best and brightest minds in a generation.
But the conglomerates of New Earth want what E557 has to offer, and damn the consequences–after all, it’s just another world. There’s always more where that came from.
War is coming to E557–the Oracle has fortold this. It is a fight humanity cannot afford to lose.
But can the galaxy afford for humanity to win?
The excerpt I have posted is actually the prologue to the story and takes place eleven years before the story’s start. My friend Mike is already hooked. Jen hasn’t seen the story yet (I should probably send her the first nine pages). One of my WoW buddies has it in his hot little hands, too, but I went to bed before I could see what he thought of it.
In addition to this wonderfully magical noveling experience, I’ve also started a few specks of new fiction. One is nowhere near complete (it’s in the beginning stages) but it’s an explanation as to why Quin’lisse Adama missed the wedding of one of her best friends. When it’s done, hopefully it’ll knock a few socks off. The other is a serial for the RoA and Sentinels Realm Forum entitled “The Devil is in the Details.” The frst few posts of it are below the cut line.
This session’s music: The Night by Disturbed
Call it a first. We never get through that much material on a single night of gaming. David was shocked we pressed so far (he had two scenes prepped — one involving a combat sequence, the other not involving a combat sequence. The dice liked us, and we made it through combat quicker than anticipated). Two scenes in one night. Usually takes us longer.
But I digress.
After escaping from Mei’s brain and hopefully controlling her leakage issues, we forged onward, heading toward where we figured the Well of Forever was located. As we soldiered on, we encountered troops mustering for a major offensive–French, cyberpapacy troops as well as NATO/US/allied troops getting ready to lay the smack down on the technodemons. Their survival is far from assured and victory…well. I’m not going to get into what I think their chances really are.
We did have another close encounter with Galen, who ended up leading us down to the caves that held an ancient temple and the Well of Forever. He told us a bit about what the location really is–a place where reality thins. Each world has its own Well. This one is…well…kind of a mess due to the Tharkoldu encroachment on the area (if Ren had a way to make it a hard point…she probably would). He also explained to us that there is a piece lacking from the story we got at the Temple of the Starfire Wheel — there is a third piece, one that lays between creation and destruction: the matter which is the object of creation and destruction, the form. That is what Grace’s symbiote, Void, is linked to (perhaps actually is–I’m not sure).
Of course, we come to quickly find out that’s what Odyle wanted from us, why she wanted us to come to the Well–she needs Void for her plan. Of course, she was in no mood to play nice with any of us, nor was she in the mood (at first) to let us know what she was planning. When she started to lose control of matters and Fred started to get…well…upset with her, she sicced a group of technodemons on us.
I was shocked by the fact that it was a standard, not a dramatic scene. Then David reminded me that it wasn’t scene four yet. And I was like “Crap.”
We, however, were largely competant when it came to dice. I took the fight as an opportunity to play with the fighting style that Ren had been learning from Grant before we left London for France, the style he and Allison had created.
Giving enemies setback results based on running around like crazy people is fun. And useful.
It was all over in under ten rounds–six technodemons dead and we weren’t in bad shape, either.
And then we went off chasing Odyle and Fred, who’d walked out of the chamber. We found Odyle. Fred is apparently on his way back to Avignon (and probably his imminent demise. Damn him!)…and she was soon to be away as well.
She wants to destroy everything and then rebuild it. She wants Void to help her. Void…doesn’t see a reason not to see what Odyle’s all about, but–mercifully–doesn’t trust Odyle. Morality is lost on the poor symbiote. But Void told us where Odyle is going: Avignon, with Void and the Wheel, to where the pope’s Darkness Device rests.
To destroy the world and create it anew.
We’re off gaming this coming week due to Youmacon (I, unfortunately, will be wholly unable to attend due to work). We will see what lies ahead of us come November 5, when we gaze into the Well of Forever…and the Well gazes back.