Aftermath

Aftermath Log 12

Madness Followed arc, conclusion / Mortairi arc 1

The amorphous monstrosity, risen to its full stature, now began the task of unmaking the Legion Playhouse. Timbers and pilings flew through the air, air gangrenous tentacles crushed pew, beam, and flesh. The party attacked. Anast, Henric Tyrson, and Kiernan found themselves face to face with the beast, while the rest of the party leveled shots and bolts from afar. However as the mass slivered further into the theatre, the combatants found themselves wrapped tightly in the crushing gelatinous tentacles, and pulled deeper into the midst of the crushing suffocating mass. Shots range out in the hall, as the melee fighters struggled against the grappling gooey arms. The mass continued its ravages, crushing theatre-goers and leaving a trail of destruction. Then, suddenly, the rift in the air pulsed again with the sickening light, and the rift, the corpse of Sophia, the jelly-mass, and the riven pallid mask, were sucked back through the portal that closed up with a roar and a hiss, leaving behind only the party, standing in calf-deep fetid water in the midst of the playhouse, staring at the now-floating body of Keira, crushed and cold.

Within moments the front door were filled with silhouettes and shouts as the city guard burst into the room. The party quickly made arrangements for the body of their companion to be looked after as they were hustled away to the manor house in the midst of the city. They were led into a large dining hall, and told to make themselves comfortable. Still ill-at-ease, their fears were even less assuaged when they heard a bolt being fastened on their door from outside. After investigating their surroundings and discovering little more than a well-stocked bar and a strange translucent painting of an entity they could only assume must be the Primogen Eoluk, the party settled down on sofas, divans, well-stuffed chairs in search of a brief bit of rest from their journey and toils.

In the early hours of the morning, the door was flung wide and numerous armed men entered the room, followed by half a dozen others armed not simply for defense but rather for assault and destruction, and behind them a coterie of servants, porters and robed figures all attending to the well-dressed man from the portrait on the wall and the slender drow hanging on his arm. “It appears,” he said quietly and intensely to the party, “that I am in your debt. It would appear that you have not only destroyed a powerful enemy but that you have saved from city from a fate too horrible to contemplate.” His eyes coursed over each member of the party as he smiled and ever-so slightly bowed his head. “You have but to ask, and if is in my power, I will see your wishes granted.”

He looked to Nuana Kornis, Anast, and Henric, “Perhaps a short stay with our weapon-masters to begin unlocking newer and deeper mysteries of the martial world?” His glance shifted to Ipster, “Or maybe you would desire new training with those who dance in the shadows?” And then he gaze rested on Sullivan Keth. There was a pregnant pause in which he gazed, and then seemed to scent the air as a cruel smile broke over his features. “Perhaps you wish the gift of citizenship through migration?” His eyes narrowed again, staring at Sully, “Or perhaps a greater gift?” The Primogen turned to the young woman hanging on his arm and whispered coldly in Deep, “What do you think, my love? Should we Take him?” And then turning to Sully, “What do you say, boy? Ask a boon and I shall grant it. Do you wish to come into my Embrace?”

The air grew cold and still, as the party’s eyes studied Sully and the Primogen, and then the young archer said, “Yes, I wish it.” Eoluk motioned to the porters to escort the young man away, and began to leave before turning to the party and pointing to one of the servants. “This is U’akan, my chamberlain. Ask your boons of him and he will see that all of your needs are met. Do you wish to stay the rest of the evening with us?”

The party quickly glanced at each others’ stunned faces before refusing. “Pity,” replied the Primogen. “Perhaps we shall meet again soon. You have my deepest thanks.” And with that the entourage exited from the room leaving behind the party, now missing two members, and the Primogen’s chamberlain. They asked after a house of the Eidonites, and were given taken to a nearby residential neighborhood and ushered into a “chapterhouse”. There they sat in the safety of a friendly hearth, but now faced the numbing cold of true sorrow over their fallen friend, and the creeping anguish and rage over their betrayal by another. After discussing their way forward, they settled down to sleep.

The next day, before the group had a chance to break fast they were summoned by the chamberlain to an audience with the Primogen. They found themselves once again in the manor house, this time led into an immense library (filled, they learned later, with numerous works “rescued” from the burning library at the Siege of Kittering), and led through a secret passage way deep into hidden vaults below the manor. In a well-furnished and small library they found Eoluk seated behind a massive desk, papers, notes, and maps strewn about, studying the script of the now-infamous King in Yellow. He looked up for his work and welcomed the travelers to join him.

“It has come to my attention,” he said, calmly with a degree of measure in his voice, “that there are certain documents from the King’s Players that you have gathered during your journeys, but with all of the excitement and exhaustion of last evening, forgot to bring to my attention (it was then that the party began to more fully understand the implications of having one of their own number Taken by a Primogen). Perhaps we might sit and peruse them together.” The group produced the notes Sophia left behind in her room in Gale, along with the public notices they had collected from Lamid, as they began retelling their experiences hunting the Players. Eoluk was keenly intrigued by their first meeting with the Players in the Morass and by the strange book that they had sent away with Ian Salzen. He wondered openly at the wisdom of setting loose such a book without knowing the true power it might possess, but then began discussing the issue of the play itself.

“I know who this King in Yellow is,” he told them, “or at least I know of him. Some centuries ago, a conflict not unlikely that described in Lasilaran’s play broke out in the City of Doors, and in the madness that followed a new ruler rose to power. It calls itself the King in Yellow, though it’s true name is older and more powerful than the simple name suggests. After the King gained control over Sigil, he transformed it into the drowned and haunted city of Carcosa, which you all glimpsed. It may even be that you have, through some means I don’t fully understand, have visited the city, from your descriptions of the disappearing Inn in the Corthyn Morass.

“What still makes no sense though, is why, if Faltak were involved as you all seem to suggest, why he would send these players into my own holdings. He and I are certainly not friends, but neither do we have any animosity between us and our trading relationships have been most fair. Nor does it makes sense for him to wage such an attack, even through subterfuge, against another Primogen with whom he is not in direct contest. Such behavior, as he well knows, quickly draws the ire of the Umbral Throne. So why send the Players to me? To what end, this madness?”

The party began looking through their notes, Sophia’s comments on the crowd (which Eoluk explained as likely being a result of the portal’s desire to gain permanence through the drawing of souls – enough power would be needed for the portal to become permanent and the King in Yellow to begin assimilating the city into the realm of Carcosa), through the notes on the play, and the maps of the region. All this they discussed for sometime when Anast, out-of-hand, mentioned that maybe the message had gotten muddled somehow. After a brief pause and a careful thumbing-through of the notes, the Primogen began to laugh. “Pretend, my young friends, that you are mad. Look at this map as the mad would. Do you decipher script? Didn’t you notice the atrocious handwritting of Sophia? Look at the H’s and the W’s – see how see misforms them?” But the group remained puzzled. “What do the cities of Nightfall and Wight Hall have in common?” The group began thinking politically, economically, and socially, but the Primogen reiterated his statement. “What do they have in common? Think like a madman. What do they have in common?”

It was Anast who captured the notion first. “They rhyme?”

“Exactly. Follow the path the Players took. The began in Caer Fiah and headed to Gale. From Gale to Lamid and from Lamid to Wight Hall. Look at the map. could not the orders have easily have been to head from Gale along a similar mirrored path toward Kalit and then on to Nightfall? Remember the W’s and H’s – could not the insanity led the woman to misread her own handwriting.”

“So all this, all the death and destruction, the pain and suffering, all of it was nothing more than a mistake? One big mistake?” the party wondered aloud.

“If only you knew more of the world, my young friends,” was the Primogen’s chuckling reply, “and you would know how often the great deeds are little more than a simple mistake, a bit of poor judgment, and meaningless rotten luck. But that is beside the point. I’ll give you the day to yourselves, and plan to send my chamberlain to you tomorrow morning to receive the boons you would ask of us. Until then, I bid you all a good day.” And with that the group was ushered back into the maze of passageways and out in the bright sunlight through a new hidden doorway. Arriving back at the safe house, the group found their Eidonite hosts sitting down to breakfast, and were eager both to sup and also to mull over the path that lay before them.

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Qoheleth

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