Our second session of the story arc “The Relic of Tur’dar” saw our adventurers further north in Weyell, having returned in passing to the hamlet Virrad, the former home of their companion Dyrakos. From there the adventurers continued their journey toward the Protectorate in the midst of strange dreams that afflict Lem’. To their shock, another party member succumbs to the dream, and they seem to encounter more questions than answers. The group struggles with their decision to continue up the north road, and they must find the strength within them to survive both the threats of the wilds and the challenges within their own mind.
The following players were present at this session:
- Hodjai, the Djenndan fighter with the members-only dining pass, played by @Evan
- Sookta, the Djenndan blacksmith with a humerus laugh, played by @xSubNuke
- Lemur-o, the kahlnissá ghost with the soothing-spinal tendencies, played by @Terri
- Ts’uviti, the viantu savant with teat-piercing aim, played by @saelbrin
The party’s arrival in Virrad was bittersweet for some and inconsequential for others. It seems that the central house that Dyrakos once used as a hub for procuring and providing goods for the Virrad community had burned down. The back wall of the building was all that remained standing from what appeared to be an extremely hot fire. The remnants and coals were caked in a month’s dirt and weather; the center of the ember tomb was a dark sheet through which bright fingers of green curled out for the light of noon. Out in the square people gathered around a merchant’s cart, likely a traveler from Pelmora. But little else had changed in the hamlet.
Dyrakos was typically unmoved, and given Lem’s dream condition, the party was anxious to return to their travels. They decided to camp the night in the safety of Virrad before setting out the next day. They didn’t want to linger too long.
Ts’uviti spent some time gathering soothing herbs for his companion, Lem, in the hopes that the dream would take on a different shape. The savant was convinced that the dreams were the work of dark sorcery. The two worked together to develop strategies for Lem to turn her dreaming experience into a lucid one. The viantu told her to take control of the dream, and if possible, change the outcome or at least interact with her surroundings once aware of the dream. Lem thought of a mental cue–the image of Dogedan greeting them when they emerged from the Torlish ruins–as her tether to awareness and the reality of the waking world.
The afternoon after the adventure party left Virrad the misty rains and caravan conversation were interrupted by a large brown bear. The beast, which seemed to dwarf Hodjai, stood in the middle of the road hugging the sky, drooling bubbled foam from its echoing roar. Kishsahat’s oxen bucked back and it was all the survivalist could do to keep the cart from being torn away from the scene. But Sookta and Hodjai quickly dispatched the aggressive animal. The blacksmith’s hammer smashed the growling bear in the chest, the hammer’s odd searing effect singeing the hair from its chest as it cracked into ribs. As soon as the hammer left its mark, Hodjai stepped forward pressing the pointy end of his great sword through the fresh burn mark. The bear’s growl stopped short, and its body became limp and lifeless.
The party was left unscathed after quickly ending the bear, and so Hodjai and Ts’uviti said a few words to honor the beast’s power and the natural order of things. Then Kishsahat set out butchering the bear, to add the hide to their goods and the meat to their food stores. This amounted to the rest of the day’s activities, so the group set up camp and Kishsahat took over Dyrakos’s usual cooking duties to make bear pies for everyone. Ts’uviti took the bear’s spine–most all of what was left of the great beast–and built an honored rock cairn on which to lay the bones and sinew. Dyrakos looked on, his confusion hidden by a vacant and impenetrable stare.
After making camp, Lem became tired and soon began to dream. Try as she might to become aware once in the dream world, she was carried through the same imagery and sequences as before with no ability to change or alter what she was experiencing. The ghost awoke well into breakfast time feeling as if she had just closed her eyes. She was frustrated; the dreams were getting longer and it did not seem that she had the ability to control them. Additionally, Lem felt frustrated and violated, convinced that these were no mere dreams but rather invasions of the mind. Or were they memories she was being forced to experience? Whatever the cause, she wanted to be free of them.
That day, the group ate more bear pies for breakfast and set out on the road north with a renewed momentum. Lem was exhausted and decided to sleep for six hours of travel. She did not dream, and woke feeling more well rested. The wagon carried her and the rest of the party without incident that day. In the evening, Kishsahat found a nice location for camp, and the group settled in for the night.
Lem decided to take watch that evening, considering her extra sleep throughout the day, but soon after taking her position near the fire, she involuntarily fell asleep, collapsing to the ground in a heap. That’s where the group found her the next morning, still breathing but unconscious. Ts’uviti grabbed Lem and tried to wake her, shaking her shoulders to no effect. However, the viantu soon felt a burning in his palm after touching her arms. He had the sense to tell the rest of the group to be sure not to touch either of them. Whatever sorcery was afflicting Lem he had surely just caught. The group began to hypothesize that Dadrauth was feeding on dream energy somehow.
The adventurers had to place Lem carefully in the wagon in order to continue their journey. They wondered if they should turn around and head back to the capitol and face Dadrauth, but ultimately concluded it would be safer to seek help in Pelmora. Distance-wise, the group was closer to the City of Embers than the port city. Soon they would be arriving in Pike’s Watch and from there Pelmora. Someone should be able to help them there. The party exchanged conversation and bear pies as they continued further along the road, stopping only at dusk in order to rest, eat, and sleep.
When sleep came, it came for both Lem and Ts’uviti in the form of a dream. The viantu and the kahlnissá both found each other in the same grove of pines. But something about the sharing of the dream was enough of a tether to allow both Lem and Ts’uviti to be aware that they were dreaming. They began to explore their surroundings in this dream environment, and after a time they found blood on the grove floor among the shrubs of pine. Ts’uviti realized that he felt himself being pulled into another part of the dream right before it happened, and he grabbed Lem’s hand. She was pulled with him to the field and the burning house. They explored their surroundings, familiarizing themselves with the layout of the general area. But after a time, Ts’uviti felt himself being pulled away once again. Lem took his hand and they were both whisked to the waking world. The savant managed to pull Lem out of her slumber.
They woke to a rain that continued throughout the rest of the day. The adventurers discussed what they might do when the arrived in the City of Embers. They explored the mystery of the dreams. No answers seemed to present themselves. Dyrakos was unusually silent and Kishsahat began to show signs of travel fatigue. The morale of the group was suffering as much as the dreamers as from their lack of sleep. When the rain let up toward the end of the afternoon, Kishsahat noticed a clearing just to the left of the roadway where there might be a good place to make camp. But Hodjai noticed that the bushes near the edge of the clearing were shaking and rustling.
Thinking that there must be an animal just outside the clearing, Hodjai decided to throw a rock in that vicinity so as to scare the animals away, so they might make camp. But the rock bounced into the shrubs with a slap, followed by a gruff-sounding “Fuck!” and a cry of pain. With their cover blown, three rough-looking brigands emerged from the underbrush, their weapons brandished.
Kishsahat jumped off the wagon with her curved blade sword and met the oncoming attackers. A brigand with a blackened, toothy grin hit her with his cudgel and she grimaced in pain, but she managed to deflect the attack of another brigand holding a crude sword. Hodjai did not fare as well from the onslaught and was cracked hard in the face with a quarter staff from a third brigand. The fray held up the attacking brigands long enough for Lem and Ts’uviti to fall back and fire missile attacks at their enemies, while the brigands hurled insults and threats to the adventurers. One of Lem’s attacks skewered the quarter staffed assailant through the neck; he died scratching the wound. Ts’uviti fired a bullet at one of the bare-chested attackers, and though the bullets fly too fast to see, the brigand’s cries of “Ow, me neehpoh,” let everyone know exactly where the attacker had been hit.
The battle was a grueling one, especially because of the constant derisive comments and vile threats that the brigands used to demoralize the adventurers. In the end, both Sookta and Hodjai found themselves in a berserker-like rage. Sookta crushed a brigand’s skull with his searing hammer, and Hodjai, caught up in the gripping heat of battle, slammed his hand through a brigand’s chest, tearing out the man’s heart. As his crude sword fell to the ground, the man’s last experience was having a Djenndan warrior spit a piece of his own heart in his face. The battle was shocking, the brigands brutal. But the adventurers were able to survive. The adrenaline of the encounter caused the Djenndan to tear the arms off one brigand and eat them in the old Djenndan way. Ts’uviti reassured a horrified Lem that the eating of their enemies isn’t about appetite, but about the heat of the battle. It was an in-the-moment, adrenaline-driven decision. Still, it was a terrifying sight.
Eating their dinner that evening took on a new meaning. But the difficult battle scene waned in the anticipation of the coming dreams. What would they find? How would they proceed? Lem and Ts’uviti developed a plan of action that they could take into the dream. They hoped they could continue to learn from the dreams until they reached the City of Embers.
The journey continues next time!