Zion - Light of the New Moon, Part 2
Based on votes from the end of 1.5, Myrh receives + Favor but, sadly, there were not enough votes to provide an experience point bonus for a character. Based on the party's event arc, the following modifiers apply to Myrh: + Willpower, - Delay, - Danger if successful or -- Willpower, + Delay if they fail.
"So what is this about a child?" Anya demanded of Artemisia once the rest of the group disappeared down the stairs. Artemisia knelt on the stone floor looking down at her empty talons. When the dragoness didn't respond, the jackal spoke up, "Where you going to tell us you were pregnant?"
"I didn't know." Artemisia answered flatly.
"Understandable, I suppose." Anya acknowledged, casually turning her holy symbol around in her grasp, "You don't even show."
"I..." the dragoness paused, "shouldn't be that far along." one of her talons went to her stomach.
"How long before we left did you conceive?" the priestess questioned in a no-nonsense tone.
"I don't see how that's any of your business." Artemisia hissed.
"It is my responsibility as the Priestess of the group to keep everyone safe. We've been on the road for the better part of a month. If you conceived far enough ahead of when we left then I need to know so I can plan accordingly."
"It won't be a problem." Artemisia scowled deeply, the hiss still in her voice.
"As you wish." the jackal noted, and tossed the holy symbol at the dragoness.
Artemisia snatched it out of the air and looked down at it distastefully, "What's this for?"
"For Tah'Aveen's favor." the priestess noted, heading for the stairs, "If you use the wrong prayer at the wrong time it can alter your life energy."
"Obviously." Artemisia countered, "It's done that before."
"If your child is far enough along then it might die before it even leaves your body." Anya answered, "Wear it." it wasn't an order, but it was spoken with just as much weight.
Scowling down at the silver symbol of the Sickle Moon, Artemisia sighed and slowly donned the necklace. She waited until Anya was gone before she put her face in her talons and cried.
- - - - - -
"Alright..." Beo mused as he led the group down the stairs, "Someone please tell me, if this is a floating tower, how in the Eternal Flame does it have a CELLAR?"
"Well, the obvious answer is that, since a cellar is below a building and built into the ground..." Ryan proposed, "We should probably get back down to ground level and look underneath the tower."
"Regardless of how strong magic is supposed to be, I'm not exactly comfortable walking under a floating building." Thera admitted.
"If only a floating tower falling onto us was the only danger we faced." Jerard noted. Having assumed his human form, the magus had a much easier time sliding past the rest of the group to catch up to Beo. Glancing at the husky, Jerard asked, "Have you ever seen a dragon's hoard before?"
"Nope." Beo answered honestly, "But I figure if you've seen one huge pile of treasure you've seen em all."
"And you've seen a huge pile of treasure before?" Jerard questioned.
"Nope..." the black dog answered with a wide grin, "But I'm looking forward to it." he wagged.
"Ground rules..." Jerard raised his voice, keeping pace with the eager husky, "Valaraisiev said supplies and equipment."
"Good memory." Beo wagged.
Jerard rolled his eyes, "There's a point to everything a dragon says."
"How much experience do YOU have with dragon hoards?" Kell challenged.
"First hand?" the pale human asked, "None."
"What other kind of experience is there?" Ryan inquired neutrally.
"I've read about dragons..." Jerard stated, "a lot."
"...and?" Beo pressed.
"A Dragon's hoard is a connected to its spirit... it's a conduit through which it can focus its strength." the human spoke, "Anything we do to his hoard, whether slashing a painting, chopping open a treasure chest, or pocketing a few coins is something that Valarisiev can feel like any of us would feel someone tapping us on the shoulder."
"So think twice before helping ourselves." Thera acknowledged, "Right."
"Just remember," Jerard warned, "no matter how helpful Valerisiev might have been on the roof, we'll lose any friendship, and probably any chance of survival if we take advantage of his hospitality." With that, the group reached the bottom of the staircase and onto the lowest level of the tower.
"We are after supplies and provisions," Yearl acknowledged, "We're not about to become thieves." and he walked toward the open archway leading out of the tower.
"Wait!" Beo suddenly barked, resting a paw against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. Several eyes went to him as a slow smile spread across his muzzle, "I just realized something." The questioning glances started the husky's tail wagging, "You know all the earth clumped up underneath the tower, hanging off of it?
"What's your point?" Kell questioned.
"That's more than big enough to hold a cellar... and even though it's floating, technically anything inside that is still underground, right?" the black furred magus wagged.
"If that IS the case," Yearl acknowledged, "How would we get into it?"
"Through here." Beo noted, resting his paw on the stone-surface of the wall, "See... if this were a landing for the first floor and the stairway were to continue then we'd be turning here... and walking into this wall." he tapped it with his palm.
"But there's a wall there." Thera pointed out.
"Not if it opened on command." the husky offered.
"What have you found?" Anya asked, finally catching up to the party.
"We might have found a way into the cellar." Jerard noted, walking up beside Beo and resting a hand on the stone, "It's not the same stone as the rest of the tower."
"I know, right?" Beo grinned, "This is probably it."
"Where's Artemisia?" Yearl asked the priestess.
"She's taking a few moments to regain her composure." Anya explained casually, "Worry about our goal and not about her."
"So how does it open?" Thera asked, "Do we need an Elementalist?"
"No..." Beo shook his head, "Just the right word." and he removed his paw from the wall, turning to face it, "Kaeor." he spoke quietly, and his voice caused the stones of the floors and steps to shake, but the wall before him reacted the most as the stones pulled back, drawing into themselves to create an archway through to a set of stairs leading further down. The husky turned to those around him with a wide grin on his muzzle, "Yea... I'm THAT good." and, with that, he proceeded down the stairway.
The stairs led downward, first through cut stone, and then to mixed. Gradually, the stairs themselves became little more than hard-packed dirt before giving way to a large, open, underground cavern that appeared to be little more than a dug-out root cellar... right until the party stepped off of the landing. Suddenly the group's surroundings melted away like color bleached out of a piece of fabric, and they found themselves in an immense underground cavern with enormous piles of...
"I thought dragons collect huge mounds of gold." Beo commented, kneeling down next to a gigantic stack of books.
"So much for being well versed in dragon lore." Kell mused to himself.
"They collect items of value." Jerard noted.
"These are books." the husky noted, motioning to several libraries worth of reading material.
"And knowledge can be very valuable." Yearl acknowledged.
"Damn it... why can't more things be literal?" the magus questioned.
"There's magic in here." Thera suddenly spoke up.
"Obviously." Jerard acknowledged, "Hence the fact that we walked into a root cellar and ended up in a stone cavern."
"No... I mean some of... this... stuff." Thera motioned around at the huge collection of various items.
"I agree." Kell acknowledged, picking up a black-as-midnight cloak, "There is definitely magic present." and, with that, he clasped the cloak about his shoulders. The leopoard-wolf pulled the cloak close and disappeared completely from view, "Very nice magic..." he added.
"I'm not certain he meant magical items when he said provisions and equipment." Yearl commented flatly.
Thera reached out and rested a paw on the lion's elbow, "I have a feeling that's exactly what he meant." and she motioned to a sign over the pile where Kell found the cloak.
"Provisions and Equipment." Anya read in an even tone, "Hmm... perhaps he has a sense of humor."
"I think that's about as clear as things will get." Jerard spoke, "Literal enough for you, Beo?" he glanced back toward where the husky had been a moment before, but the black furred magus was gone.
"Oh! Master Jerard!" Beo called from behind the pile of 'provisions and equipment', "Look!" and he held up embroidered black leather straps in either paw, "Collars!" he wagged.
"They're chokers." Jerard answered, rolling his eyes.
"Magic chokers!" Beo noted, bounding his way happily back to the human. He held one out, "We can have a matching set."
"Fantastic." Jerard acknowledged flatly, accepting his reluctantly, "I don't really think we need to--" but he paused as the husky put his own on. The choker was too large, hanging loosely around Beo's throat, "I'm not sure it suits you."
"Ah... I bet it's great." Beo waved the concern away, "Yours is about the same size so it'll fit you even when you go all Moon Blessed and everything!" his tail began wagging in an entirely 360 degree spin.
"Wonderful." the human noted with no great enthusiasm, "If I humor you and wear the damn choker then you need to stop wandering around and picking up random magical items... deal?"
Beo's grin widened, "Yes, Master!"
"And you need to teach me about those words of power." Jerard added for good measure.
"I thought you were MY master, not the other way around." the husky chided. The human rolled his eyes, and put on his own choker.
"You're practically twins." Kell's voice came from off to one side.
"Focus please." Anya noted in monotone, and knelt down beside the pile to collect a platinum necklace laced with bright silver. The amulet hanging from it glimmered faintly the moment her fingers touched it, and the jackal stood up, holding it in her palm, "This..." she breathed, "...is beautiful." a faint hint of emotion in her voice.
"A Myrhean Holy Symbol." Yearl acknowledged.
"No." she countered, sliding the necklace on, "Similar, but not exact." she corrected, "This is from an ancient sect of Sickle Moon worshipers... 'Death's Divide'."
"Sounds mysterious... and creepy." Beo noted, adjusting his choker.
"They specialized in hunting down and destroying undead." she noted, fingering the amulet that hang from her neck, "I believe I have found my gift from Valerisiev." she announced.
Ryan immediately identified and picked up his own item, "This... definitely this." he declared, letting the holy symbol of Zion dangle from his fingers on a spun silver cord.
"Yearl..." Thera spoke up, holding a folded tabard to him.
"What is--" but the lion stopped mid-sentence as he unfurled the tabard and froze.
"That's the Rakken house crest, isn't it?" the mouse inquired, sliding a ring into her pocket.
"Is that what you're taking, or do you plan on taking more than your fair share?" Jerard asked of the mouse.
"It's all I'm taking." Thera countered, "Thanks for checking." she added with a scowl, then looked back to Yearl, "It's like the dragon had these waiting just for us."
Yearl shook his head, "No..." and he tossed the tabard back onto the pile. Several eyes went to the lion.
"What?" Thera asked, "I think it's perfect." and she retrieved it.
"I haven't worn my clan's coat of arms since I came to Myrh." the captain noted, "The Rakkens are in service to Doen."
"We're tasked with helping achieve a lasting piece among all cities." Thera held the tabard out to him again, "That is a service to everyone... and it's your clan, Yearl."
The lion sighed, accepting it from her, "I can't ask you to understand, Thera." and he slid his head through the hole in the cloth before taking off his sword belt to wrap it around the tabard in correct fashion, "It's a matter of pride among noble families."
"Lion... pride..." Beo snorted and giggled, "that's funny!"
"It was not an intended pun." Yearl stated flatly, then looked back to Thera, "When I left Doen I gave up my title and my family."
"You can't love your family without loving what Doen stood for?" the mouse asked, resting a paw on his arm.
"I can," Yearl acknowledged, "but--"
"But nothing." Thera countered, "If they have a problem with you then it's THEIR issue... if you're proud to be a Rakken then show it."
"We'll discuss this later." he answered simply with a sigh.
"Artemisia... welcome." Kell spoke, and everyone glanced to the stairs; the dragoness marched forward to the group, her face stoic.
"Are we done here?" she asked.
"Nearly." Anya acknowledged, "Apparently our host has left us a very specific choice in gifts."
"I don't want anything from that dragon." Artemisia scowled.
"Then we are ready to leave." the priestess noted, and motioned everyone back to the stairs.
"I can always take her item for her." Beo offered.
"Go." Jerard stated, giving the black husky a light push forward.
"I'll gather everyone outside." Yearl noted to the priestess, who stood right where she was, staring at Artemisia.
"That will be fine." Anya acknowledged, "I will finish up here."
Yearl gave Artemisia a wide berth as he passed by her, walking back up the stairs after everyone else, leaving the jackal and dragoness alone in the underground.
"Are you ready, Artemisia?" the priestess questioned.
"I am." the dragoness acknowledged.
"Good." she nodded, "Then let's be on our way."
Priestess Fanewatcher started up the stairs, only to pause at Artemisia's next words, "About a week."
Anya about-faced and it took a moment for her to realize what the dragoness meant, "You conceived a week before we left Myrh?"
Artemisia shook her head and pushed past the jackal, "No... about a week ago."
The stunned priestess watched the dragoness walk up the stairs ahead of her. A few seconds later, once she saw the sword of Ephram strapped to Artemesia's back everything became clear.
* * * * * *
Welcome to Chapter 2, Post 1 for the Myrhean Caravan in this, Part 2 of Zion: Light of the New Moon.
Characters gain the following items:
Artemisia gains Anya's Holy Symbol (+1 to Religion)
Kell gets the Cloak of Shadows (+2 Defense, +2 Stealth)
Ryan gets the Moonstone Zion Amulet (+1 Religion)
Beo gets a Choker of Insight (+1 Skill)
Jerard gets a Choker of Insight (+1 Skill)
Anya gets the Symbol of Death's Divide (+1 Religion)
Yearl gets the Heraldric Tabard (+1 Presence)
Thera gets the Clan Ring (+1 Presence)
The story continues immediately after the party met with Valeraisiev.
It's time to decide on the next step:
1) There's too much going on at this Wayside to up and leave... maybe there's something the group can do to help! (+++ Delay, + Danger, ++ Favor, Special)
2) Valeraisiev might be able to use their help... talk with the dragon again. (++ Delay, + Danger, Special)
3) It's time to get a move on. Off to Zion! (unchanged modifiers).
Contributing Readers have until Thursday, December 8th at midnight.