Without Ram, we didn’t know what to do about Death, or the lack thereof. However, we received a heroes summon and answered it!
Dreams of another world
After the darkness of death faded, we were each transported in a dream:
In the wake of the battle against the gnolls, with the not-quite-dead all around you, you fall into an exhausted slumber. You awaken on a vast plain, with armies arrayed for battle. Various traditions and deities have their own versions, but one of the more common depicts this as the battle between Indra and the snake demon Vrtra at the beginning of the world. It is the archetypical battle between Dharma (righteousness) and Adharma (wickedness). In your dream, you are there, arrayed in armor of light and with god-made weapons in your hands.
Kanta dreamed that she rode on the great elephant Aravata offering wise counsel to Indra as the battle progressed. In her dreams she cut to games of chess played with Vrta where she learned of the giant serpents plans, however his presence was so commanding that Kanta was distracted and conflicted in her duty.
Merit convinced Vrta that she was an ally and confused the snake demon with her silver tongue and clever words. In the dream we saw the juxtaposition of the serpent that could swallow a sea and the small figure of Merit beguiling him with her friendly demeanor.
Rahi stood at the front of Indra’s army smashing the forces of Vrta, slaying 5,000 of his soldiers. A dozen with every sweep of her great blade.
When we woke from the dream each of us felt we carried wisdom, cunning and strength [mechanically we had hold which we could use for moves later in the session] and our heroes marks were changed:
- Kanta, when looked at closely appears to have an army of Indra’s soldiers glistening over the horizon behind her.
- Merits tattoos now move of their own accord, forming the signs most need at any time.
- Rahi glows with a golden aura.
The creatures who attacked the Dark Moon Festival were monsters that came from the Night of Blight. They spoke not earthly tongue, but Kanta was able to consult the winds to whisper truth into their ears, and the meaning of their words into ours. We learned of their natures and desires:
Gnolls are a race that live in the badlands to the south and west of Wet Plains. They are believed to have originated during a Night of Blight, and it is widely speculated among those who spend their days speculating about such things that one or more of the portals that open in that area are stable connections to another realm. In any event gnolls have been occupying the area for as long as anyone can remember.
Despite this, little is known about them because they are extremely xenophobic. They are believed to have their own gods, and their style of dress is distinctive and unusual. Based on markings, banners, and scarification it is believed that they form loose tribes, which appear to be constantly at war with one another. Their society is divided along gender lines, with females generally staying home to guard tribal territory and males being sent off to hunt, raid, etc. Female gnolls have proven to be stronger, tougher, and more intelligent than their male counterparts, and it is believed that their society is matriarchal.
Tribes bordering other lands will occasionally raid for loot and slaves, and what little is known about them comes mostly from those who have escaped captivity. Gnolls are carnivorous, and typically eat those they capture after a time, using them as labor for only short periods. Though they are known to cook other foods, such as game, they prefer their sentient food raw and struggling.
Fear the Little One
Once we could speak with them and realized they did not understand what happened to Death either, Merit threatened that we had greater powers that mere whispers on the wind, but could infact cut them off from there god the Demoness of Wrath and Destruction. Like beaten dogs the mewled in sorry and were quick to tell is whatever we wanted to hear in order to stave off our wrath.
Unfortunately for our cause they knew very little and all we could learn was that the came from the badlands to the west, far past the wet plains. They were sent by their dark mistress, and perhaps she had some knowledge of the great calamity that had just befallen us.
A bell ringing in the west
As we began heading in that direction, and we observed the terrible suffering of sick or injured people who could not die, Both Merit and Rahi began to hear a bell tolling, and to both of them, it sounded very familiar. The sound of the bell from the small Yaksa village The Golden Cornucopia of Nourishment That Yields the Purest Milk and Cheese This Side of the Great River (Copia for short), that Merit was from, and that Rahi allowed to be burned down.
When we arrived we saw the village just as one would expect it if it had not been raised to the ground years ago. All the people were there including Merit’s family, and greeted us kindly. Merit was welcomed home while Kanta and Rahi were offered the hospitality befitting heroes.
This of course did not go over well with either Rahi, who revealed to Merit that she had let her town burn down, nor to Merit who believed all these people, people that she loved, were dead.
The dreams were a fun way to incorporated the 10,000 gods and the settings backstory without being dogmatic or making us listen to eons of flavor text. The move outcomes were fun and were a great way to bridge the terrestrial and the celestial in the mind’s eye of our heroes.
Bringing Merit’s home town into the story was great. This is what all those bonds are for; i’m so glad they are coming up.
Seeing Merit all put out by Ram being gone was great. She depends on Ram for her stability, and without him, she’s kind of a mess. It was great fun to see!
Kanta got to do more weird ass names and truth magic shit. Fun times.
Rahi’s guilt. Oh, the guilt. You could eat it with a spoon!
What could have improved
It always happens that just as the story looks like it’s going to focus on one character, that player can’t make it to the game. Just as Ram’s patron goddess death had departed, Adrienne schedule prevented her from being there to play it out. Edmund resolved it by going on a “side quest”, which worked out pretty well though.