Ritual of Yule
The door to Radaama‘s shop blows open. Wind and snow swirl in the doorway. A shade walks thru the door illuminated by the Unseelie candle. Radaama’s voice croaks, “Ah, your first visitor. Two more will visit you afore dawn then the magic will be gone.” The wording and nearness to yule calls to mind an ancient tale of a miser who brokered with ghosts for visions of past, present and future.
The ghostly form is a six foot tall half-Orc with red glowing eyes and a pained expression. Ooze has seen better days. His ghostly form shows the damage he received just a few days ago. His visage is dark as he turns hate filled eyes upon you. It speaks in a hoarse whisper.
“I am the spirit of the past
Come to show you what was asked
Empowered have I been
To show the past of a Friend
Ware not all you seek is kind,
parts may unhinge your mind
what was asked can not be unasked
To see my hand must be grasped”
The spirit holds forward a macabre hand, waiting.
“Well, don’t you look a sight,” Grin murmurs under his breath as he hops down from his chair. “Don’t let on t’anyone, but ye aren’t the ugliest creature t’ask fer me hand of an evening.” he jokes gamely. Let’s be about it, then. Never good to keep a plump secret a-waiting." The gnome’s left hand curls around the comforting shape of his oath rod, his right grasps Ooze’s outstretched paw.
OOC: I take it this thread has just been booted forward in time to “now”, rather than occurring prior to the events of last session… good plan!
OOC: This is the story I have had in my head since Nick first started to detail out his character’s back story. Each little vision with have points where I will pause so that Grin can act, ask questions of the spirit etc. I asked Nick to throw out some bits as he would like. Yule seems to be a very active time for Puss Very Happy
A cold more bitter then the kiss of Koliada envelops your hand. Winter’s theft of warmth can not compare to that of the grave. The Magic Box’s walls fall away in a gauzy transformation. Blue mists open up before your feet. You feel yourself falling into that mist.
In Quarrytown a sleeper tosses and turns on the stone floor. He grips a sword hilt as his dreams of snakes to turn to nightmares of the past.
Your feet come to rest on sharp cobblestone in a snow covered alley. Bells toll out the Yule notes in the distance. Joyous voices sing thanks that the harvest will sustain the populace through out the winter. Before you five children, two girls and three boys, kick about a dyed leather ball. Warm coats and gloves struggle to keep out the chill. All five wear new deer skin boots. The new ball is unmarred by dirt nor use. A clear voice calls the children for warm drinks and cookies. The five race off into the distance, the ball left behind forgotten for the moment.
A sixth child emerges from the shadows. Its skin is yellow and stretched to thin over its ribs. Its head and arms pokes thru holes cut in the burlap sack. Scraps of cloth are wound about its feet to keep out the snow and sharp stones of the alley. It scrambles crab wise picking up the ball, “Mine, mine,” it hisses to no one in particular. “Sell it for a month’s food.” The pig faced child strokes the ball tenderly, “Careless brats don’t deserve it. No, no they don’t.”
“We don’t, do we?” A fist staggers the child. The ball rolls away as he sprawls onto his belly in the cold snow. Slush quickly seeps thru the burlap. A male child picks up the ball. His cookies discarded in the snow, in favor of the blow he just dealt. The two other boys come down the alley dark looks upon their faces, “What do we have here? A filthy orc thief is it? My pa told us about your kind, raiders, brigands and murderers.” Each word is punctuated by a kick from new boots. The yellow skinned eyes stare at the cookies steaming in the snow. It crawls forward ignoring the brittle sound of bones breaking as it struggles toward that single morsel of life.
The two girls emerge a few moments later they stare shocked at what the boys are doing. “Stop, stop you’re hurting him.”
The boys pause looking down. The first boy looks down at it shaking his head, “Can’t hurt it, doesn’t even bleed. Look it’s just Puss. You splatter it on the walls and mop it up with a bucket of soap and water.”
One of the other boys snickers, “If you can get the stain out.”
The girl turns in a huff. Her friend pauses to say, “You are wretched simply wretched Benchamin Ironwall.” The two girls storm off down the alley.
“Oh, Cedra.” The boy sighs and chases after her. The other two give a last few kicks and turn munching their cookies merrily. The injured boy lies in the alley a long while, slowly his hand stretches out and drags his body to the cookie. The soggy cold thing goes into his mouth. The damp sugar cookie is the best thing he has tasted in a long time. “Puss. It called me Puss.”
Grin watches in sober silence, his bones resounding with echoes of similarly violent beatings from heavy hands, in twisted, fungus-lit tunnels far below the brighter surface of the winter-wrapped world.
The spirit of Ooze gives you a rough push. You find yourself falling through alley walls time and time again. The fall is a montage of Puss on the streets of [[P’bapar]]. He is beaten by dwarves, minotaurs and dragonborn for attempted theft, digging a meal from garbage and finally rescuing another half-orc from a beating by a human inn owner. Each successive beating shows Puss growing stronger, older, wider and wiser. The images settle at last on Puss crouched in an alley speaking with three other half-orcs, a bugbear and a revenant dwarf. Two of the half-orcs are recognizable as Ooze and Sludge. Your ghostly guide is no where to be seen.
Ooze growls at Puss, “You sure many golds in wizard’s tower. I not like be toad if not for manies in golds.” Sludge nods in agreement with the bigger half-orcs words.
Puss looks up across the street at the tower. “The gold is inside. Riches your eyes can not imagine. Grunge has seen it.” Puss slaps the fourth half-orc on the back grinning.
The dwarf revenant nods as if reaching a decision. He quickly reviews the plan making sure everyone knows there role, “Ooze and Sludge will take out the two footman and stash them behind the crates in the alley over there. Grunge and Puss will keep an eye out, here. I will use the dust on the wall and reveal the door. Once, Mucus picks the lock we all cross the street and meet up inside. Grunge will guard the door and make sure we don’t get trapped inside. Keep your eyes open for the four roving guards we need to get by them or take them out swiftly. The wizard is due back in an hour. We need to get in grab the loot and be back out by then. Grunge, don’t forget that door has to stay open or we are trapped inside.” He looks at the others lingering on Grunge.
Grunge glares back, “Grunge heard Scab first time. Keep door open, door disappear if closed. Magic dust only works one time. You think I not hear and I not smart. Grunge clever, you see. This job make you see.”
“All right Oozing wounds. Let’s get rich.” Ooze and Sludge cross the street quickly. The Yule morning is shattered by the sounds of “Hey you there, stop.” Followed by gurgling as Ooze and Sludge bury there axes in the footman’s chest. The bugbear and revenant run low to the ground. Scab flings a shinning silvery dust on the wall, a heavy iron door appears. Mucus pulls a pair of lock picks open and fiddles with the lock for a few moments.
The door pops open and Puss runs from the alley. Ooze and Sludge reach it first. The five are peering down the hallway when they hear the door clang shut behind them. “See tell you this job show Grunge cleverness.” Grunge holds a purse stuffed with gold coins up to the wall. “Wizard paid real well for test subjects.” Grunge laughs a cruel laugh and skips down the street as the bells signal the approaching dawn of Yule. The wall blocks your view from the alley; obscuring Puss.
Peering around, Grin murmurs “Ooze? Still with me, deadman? Can’t stop the tale now… one good betrayal surely deserves another, after all.” He waits a few long moments for a reply, then steps forward, testing the “wall” in front of him with his right hand.
Grin’s hand passes through the wall and the door beyond. Ooze fails to appear or make any sound in response to his inquiries. Shadows grow long on the streets of P’bapar. The sounds of combat echo from the tower. A moment later a shape blocks out the sun for a moment and then lands on the balcony of the top most chamber.
Sporting a rueful, I’m-probably-going-to-regret-this-later smirk, the gnome boldly steps through the wall (or attempts to), aiming himself as best he can towards the sounds of engagement ringing from above.
A whispered word summons the frost-bound rapier that is the heart of his pact, and his steps grow quicker.
Grin’s walk through the wall causes a disorienting shift in perspective and time. Grin emerges from the wall rapier drawn in the top floor of the tower. The upper chamber of the wizard’s tower is illuminated by harnessed lightning traveling along spun metal cables mounted in the ceiling. Squawks and cries arise from cages that line one wall. The bodies of two creatures are covered with cloth in the same corner. Two dwarven footmen stand over the unconscious bodies of Puss’s allies. Puss himself is bound to a stone table in the center of the room. A heavy set human in multicolored robes moves about the room. Where he walks yellow slime is left behind. The wizard turns to an eye painted onto the wall. Blood drips from the heart he holds in his left hand. He speaks to the eye, “Soon master, your ancient enemy will once again walk the world.” He takes a bite from the heart and turns to Puss. “You will be a fine subject for the cacodemon’s possession. It is a fitting punishment for trying to steal from me. Fear not, once Pazzuzu enters your body it will devour your soul leaving nothing more then a husk. Like clothes it will wear your flesh as it marauds the country side. Slaying and devouring souls. Sooner or later divine eyes will turn this way. When that happens your flesh will be torn asunder and he that imprisoned my master will be slaughtered. The prison walls will come crashing down and I will have my reward!”
Puss flinches, as the wizard drops the heart into a metal bowl and picks up a red stone ring. Carved delicate feathers decorate the outside of the rings surface. Puss clenches his fingers tight; determined not to open his hands for this mage. The wizard hisses, “If you don’t openz your hand I will have my Duergar break your fingerzz. One by one until you comply.” The wizard eyes Puss for a long moment, “Very well.” He sets the ring down on his workbench and signals the dwarves forward. They stare down at Puss with glee filled eyes. Puss doesn’t emit a cry at the crack of his finger bone being bent backward.
He stubbornly endures the pain as he curls his finger back into a fist, “That’ll hurt my pick pocket skills a tad.” He looks about for a dagger or blade to cut his bonds with. The second finger takes both Duergar to bend the finger back and keep him still. Puss rolls his head toward the work bench and catches sight of the ring. He seems to pause staring at Grin.
“Well, well.” Grin murmurs. “Hello to you, my poor Gander.” He flicks a wary glance towards the balcony, then takes several deliberate steps out of the half-orc’s line of vision, watching to see if Puss tracks his movement.
Ooc: The ring has not been on Puss’s hand in your time with him.
The much younger Puss watches you sidle around the room, trying not to draw attention to you. The half-orc’s eyes are filled with desperation as he looks to you with a mute appeal for aid.
Surprised by Puss’ clarity of vision the gnome stops his pacing, narrowing his eyes in a furtive glance that pinpoints the location of the wizard and his lackeys. A still moment of concentration results in the tumult of raised voices outside the chamber (OOC: Ghost Sound) and Grin is moving, not thinking. He lunges to palm the ring while the ice-wrought rapier flicks swiftly forth to sever Puss’ bonds snick-snick-snick. “Ware the window, my broken Gander!” he whispers, launching himself towards the nearest wall.
Grin’s efforts to scoop up the ring in one hand and slice Puss’s bonds are partially successful. The instant the ring touches Grin’s palm the dark malevolence trapped inside throws off his concentration. The blade pierces the bonds and Puss as well.
In Quarrytown a much older, sleeping Puss winces as the wide slashing scar of a dagger changes to the thin line of a rapier blade. Two bone fingers on his left hand knit together as if they had never been broken.
Grin shivers as the ring’s voice pounds in his head, “Of course the orcs were elves once before they were corrupted by the shards power. The Orc has the spirit sight of his people.” Grin has heard the voice before but issuing from Puss’s mouth during Crusher’s ambush.
OOC: Grin’s actions put us off the script so to speak. Nick your future is yours to make. Keep in mind the rubber band will have to snap back eventually. Pulling time back into its correct shape but for now you can re- order events as you see fit. Matt don’t worry this or something similar was meant to happen, you definitely have not broken anything.
OOC: Good to know that nothing’s broken! Has there been any reaction from anyone/anything other than Puss at this point? Grin was intending to fling himself at a wall to “speed up time” and escape, assuming that all hell would break loose, but if no one has noticed, he’ll just slink into a shadowy spot close to the balcony and continue watching events unfold.
Ooc: I am expecting puss to rise up off the table and react but haven’t heard from nick yet. Right now I see you racing for the wall to do just that. If I don’t hear from nick before tonight I will assume you sped up time… Then nick will be able to fill his actions in later.
Puss looks at the Gnome with gratitude. Ignoring his wounds, he wrenches his hand free of his bonds. (Theivery, with Puss’ bonus’ I assume he will get free.)
Shoving the Mage aside, his eyes grow dark with the realization of what is in store for his rescuer. Bounding to Gnome (acrobatics), Puss grabs the cursed ring from the Gnome’s hand, locking eyes as they both clasp the ring in an expression of thanks.
The Mage stumbles his disguise slipping momentarily. The ring seems to twist between the two of your hands. Puss’s hand passes through the incorporeal hand of grin. “At last, freedom.” Echoes in both your minds as the ring slips onto Puss’s forefinger. Feathers erupt upon Puss’s torso. His face scrunches down to a beak. The Mage cries out in joy, his yuan-ti body seeping with yellow sores. The mage twists a ring on his finger and vanishes. Pazzuzu turns toward the duergar just as Grin reaches out for the wall. Pazzuzu taloned hand closes on Grin’s collar its eyes never leaving the duergar.
Grin strains against the creature’s grip, eyes suddenly wide with fear. Twisting around as best as he can, he swings his pact-blade at the grasping arm and steps sidewise into the elsewhere.
Pazzuzu’s grip loosens as the gnome tugs the demon’s ethereal spirit for a moment and then vanishes. There is a split second where dual images surround Puss. One is the half-orc and one is the bird like demon. The momentary refraction alters the possession. Puss swims to the surface of consciousness, soul intact. The split falters and Pazzuzu slams back into Puss. The two wills continue their struggle for dominance.
Grin’s step into the ethers leaves him standing in a field of tall grass. His breath crystallizes in front of him showing the cold of the air. His view is mostly obstructed, due to his height challenges, but thick black smoke rolls up into the sky to the left of him. Screams, roars and the sound of violence come from the same direction.
Grin sinks to his haunches, catching his breath and letting the fear drain from his mind. He inhales deeply, savoring the crispness of the air and letting the subtle scent of the plentiful grasses settle his spirit. He shakes his head, expression reflecting equal measures of relief, dismay and regret. “Poor, greedy Gander. Quite a pickle he got ’imself in now, for certain.”
Standing, he wraps his cloak and its attendant shadows around himself, and skulks carefully towards the sounds of carnage.