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Chapter Four: The Manifest of the Harikan Squall

Jun 14, 2016 6:14 pm
This place has no name.

Everil called it the Squalid Sett, but the inhabitants refer to it only as the Queen's City. The Queen protects them, the Queen provides, to give it a name would be to suggest that the place could endure or hold a purpose without the Queen.

At the end of the west canyon there sits a squat stone tower: this is the citadel of the Queen. In the mornings those who have need gather at the base of the tower to take their portion of the white mold that grows there and apply it to their skin. Some of them cut or scrape themselves bloody before doing so: this gives the mold a better place to take hold, and gives it quicker passage into the body, and thus it nourishes and enlightens them even more swiftly and effectively.

There are visitors here, those who have not accepted what the Queen offers, and they are tolerated. There are no zealots here, no forced conversions. Those who serve the Symbiont Queen do so because she has given them cause. With her they have a safety and a sustenance that is more reliable than any they could find in the world above.

The Queen herself is a servant, they say, not a tyrant. She serves a forgotten divinity and passes its blessings on to those who need it. Is it true that she took half the Ways from the badger kings of old? Well, yes. But only to secure for herself a simple domain in which to carry out her religious duties, and the age when one could claim a realm for oneself without impinging upon someone else's claim was long past.

And now the time has come and she will grant an audience to Marjo Gull and her hired men. Her servant Lubien leads them to the citadel. He is of a race none of you have seen in the flesh before: one of the dark elvenkind. The white mold grows in elaborate striped patterns all across his back, chest and arms, following the ridges of old and new scars. Lubien takes you into the tower but instead of ascending to the highest floor he leads you down, down, into the narrow, wormy tunnels of a deep cellar.

Lubien stops midway through a long, straight passage. "Go on ahead," he says in his whisper-soft voice. "She will receive you alone."

The doorway at the end of the passage, about sixty feet distant, glows with a faint indigo luminescence.
Jun 20, 2016 8:02 pm
"Right," mumbles Zangua. He is still uncomfortable wandering around without his weapons, wary of possible ambush. With clenched fists he leads the way towards the door to open it.
Jun 20, 2016 8:21 pm
What do we want/need from her? Just to pass through to Hazard?

Is it possible to partake of the white mold without becoming a "worker bee"? Does it seem to grant any special abilities or knowledge?
Jun 20, 2016 8:41 pm
Zora's plan is basically to trade intel about the Implacable killing (presumably) Everil for safe passage into Hazard. Leaving out, of course, the part about how the Implacable was down there looking for her. Her expectation is that this is such a small, reasonable thing to ask for, that there shouldn't be any difficulty.

As far as you've able to observe, the white mold seems to function as a mild stimulant and analgesic, possibly with some psychotropic effects, but it's hard to tell about that because a lot of people here are tripping balls on very potent mushroom tea much of the time. Some people also eat the mold when it starts to dry up and flake off.

In re: "worker bees," while the Queen does seem to have a staff of sorts, most folks here are either self-employed in some kind of entrepreneurial venture or just hanging around being unproductive.
Jun 20, 2016 8:47 pm
OK, I was assuming it was some kind of hive mind situation. I think Mordred will stress to Zora that we want to maintain plausible deniability here. Let's not come right out and say Everil is dead, but rather tell the Queen what happened and let her draw her own conclusions, in case Everil shows up later.
Jun 20, 2016 8:53 pm
Just to further clarify, the vibe here is more "hippie commune with a beloved figurehead," not so much "brainwashed cult." There are definitely outsiders who come and go, and they do seem to be mostly a criminal element taking advantage of the obscurity of the place, but none of the ones you've talked to came via Hazard directly. Plus, you seem to be under a kind of house arrest anyway, so you're not really sure they'd let you out if you tried to hire an independent guide. Zora thinks appealing directly to the Queen is your best bet at this point.
Jun 20, 2016 9:31 pm
The white mold intrigues Vad as he stares longingly at the squat tower. "Going to try some of that before we leave" he whispers to whoever happens to be next to him.
Jun 20, 2016 11:33 pm
The door is, in fact, a curtain of heavy black cloth. Zangua pushes it out of the way and looks into the throne room.

The room is about 40' wide and unremarkable -- just a rounded hollow that might have started out as a natural cavern -- with another curtained doorway in the back and to the left. To the left of this doorway there's a nice in the wall, and inside the niche, another small statue of a black dog with copper eyes.

The indigo glow comes from the Queen's throne, such as it is: a phosphorescent fungus growing out from the wall in layered discs, rather like a great many pancakes of varying size stacked together in a jumble. Thick, fuzzy coatings of mold grow up toward the ceiling behind it and to either side. All over the floor, but especially around the perimeter, are pale white cave toadstools and other patches of fungus.

The Symbiont Queen herself sits cross-legged on her throne, wearing nothing but a diadem made out of some braided organic material on her head and a string of beads -- similarly unidentifiable -- her neck. Her skin coloration is mottled shades of purple. Her hair is a muddy brown, thick and matted, cut into shaggy bangs that mostly cover her eyes. She has wings folded at her back -- tattered, dusty, membranous wings, like the wings of a moth that has beaten itself half to death against a lamp.

Zora stops at the doorway and seems to lose her nerve for a moment. She makes brief eye contact with Zangua, then glances back at the other behind her before taking a breath and walking in. There are no attendants in the throne room, no-one to give cues as to the proper protocols. The Queen tilts her head slightly but otherwise does nothing to acknowledge her visitors.

Zora clears her throat, gives a short bow. "Uh...your majesty," she says, after waiting a moment to see if the Queen would address her first. "My -- my name is Marjo Gull --"

"Marjo Gull," the Queen repeats. Zora starts.

"Yes, and, and these are my friends -- my men -- we were making our way to Hazard through the Badgerways, and --"

"Badgerways?" the Queen snaps.

"I'm sorry, the Sett, we were passing through the Sett to get to --"

"The Sett. The Sett to get. Get to the Sett to the get." The Queen smiles, then starts giggling. Zora looks back at you all, a rather stricken, despairing look on her face.

"Yes...so...I have to get to Hazard, and --"

"Marjo Gull?"

Zora blinks. "Yes?"

"Your name's not Marjo Gull." The Queen leans back in her throne. You can see her eyes better now, all glossy and brown like opals, no whites. You can also see the ground-down stumps of horns poking through her hair. "Don't lie to me again. Please. I can't stand to be lied to. I would prefer to not be told your name than to be given a false one."

"I -- I'm sorry, your majesty, it's --"

"Wait. No. I won't speak to you any more. I've decided." She leans forward again. "Let one of your men come forth and talk to me. He can start by giving me his true name."

So, who wants to volunteer?
Jun 20, 2016 11:44 pm
Zangua looks to Zora, then to the group. His eyes fall upon Mordred, who has thus far been an unofficial spokesperson for them. Of course, if Mordred seems hesitant, Zangua seems more than willing.
Jun 20, 2016 11:54 pm
Vad simply shrugs as Zangua looks his way.
Jun 21, 2016 9:59 am
Seeing the others hesitate, Felor steps forward and bows deeply.
"Your majesty, I am Felor Sturlusson. That is my full and true name. I am a humble servant of the mighty Fjorgyn."
Last edited June 21, 2016 12:34 pm, a total of 1 time
Jun 21, 2016 12:14 pm
Does Mordred have any idea what she is?

Rolls

Nature? - (1d20+1)

( 6 ) + 1 = 7

Jun 21, 2016 12:34 pm
Ooh yeah, lets do some rolls. Trying to ID what creature the Queen is.

Rolls

Nature skill check - (1d20+3)

( 3 ) + 3 = 6

Arcana skill check - (1d20+1)

( 8 ) + 1 = 9

Jun 21, 2016 1:21 pm
Mordred is also going to attempt to intuit what is going on with her babbling and giggling. Some kind of intoxication or mental illness, or just a strange non-human intelligence?

Rolls

Insight - (1d20+2)

( 12 ) + 2 = 14

Jun 21, 2016 3:52 pm
Zangua sticks close to Zora. The last thing he wants is their ward taken while they're all engaged with the weird lady.

Rolls

Perception - (1d20+5)

( 15 ) + 5 = 20

Jun 21, 2016 4:05 pm
Mordred: those are all plausible theories, yes.

None of you are sure exactly what the Queen is, but "non-human" seems like a safe bet.


Zangua keeps his eye on Zora. She glances back at him and gives a barely perceptible shrug.

"Felor," the Queen says. "Felor Sturlusson. Felor Felor Felor. You're not from here, Felor Sturlusson. Where did you -- no, don't tell me. Sturlusson. Son of Sturlus. I don't want to know about your father. There is a very maternal energy woven into your purposes right now. Felor Sturlusson. All of you. Tell me about your mothers."
Jun 21, 2016 4:08 pm
Zangua returns Zora's shrug, and pans his eyes across the room, looking for potential exits or other oddities. When his eyes return to the Queen, he answers her question.

"Dead."
Jun 21, 2016 4:59 pm
"My name is Mordred Kaliban. My mother was a barmaid who had an ill-advised fling with a dark stranger from Felboc. She was kind and gentle and trusting, but overly fond of her ale and her mead and her rotgut. She died in agony when I was a boy. What else would you like to know?"
Jun 21, 2016 6:05 pm
"Dead mothers. Why do you have dead mothers? You need a living mother. Or a mother beyond life and death."

"Your majesty," Zora says, "I need to find my mother. That's why I have to get to Haz--"

The Queen holds up her finger. "Shush. Shush. I told you that you and I are no longer speaking." She turns to Mordred. "Did you know your father, tiefling? Did you know what he was before he was a dark stranger from Felboc?"
Jun 21, 2016 6:29 pm
"I never met him or even knew his name. I'm not sure she knew his real name. I have been told that Kaliban is a common false name for Infernals to give when they want to stay anonymous. Why do we need a living mother, your majesty? In many ways, she was my real mother." Mordred gestures towards Zora. "She fed me, clothed me, taught me. It's why I am here helping her find her mother."
Last edited June 21, 2016 8:37 pm, a total of 1 time
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