Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire Session 8: Of All The Stars The Sun Shines Brightest, And Shines Alone

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

Joining for this session were:
-Renefor ( as Velasco the Heterodox Monk

Due to the chaos and contingencies of life our party was reduced from our usual proud legion to just one for this session. There were far fewer debates and violations of the Geneva Conventions, though this may just be correlative.

The party pulls their boat and raft onto this beach of ash and sawdust, coming under the shadow of the great cliff. Ibrahim's hideous, now partially-frag frog-skinned dog yaps towards the Southwest, tantalizing close to the Countess's scent. Velasco unleashes the dog and follows closely after, ending up at a pile stacked as high as a hill, with humanoid figures crawling over it, indistinguishable in the gloom. Cautiously approaching, quieting the dog, Velasco spies that the pile is made of faces somehow carved clean off their heads, and the figures had no faces of their own.

With a sinking feeling Velasco and the dog grope through the pile, giving a wide berth to the faceless people. After some time they find the face of the Countess: beautiful (as much as someone could be before the invention of dental hygiene), and much younger than the Count. Velasco is able to wrest the face from the dog before it could be chewed on. They return to base camp.

With the others presumably too drunk on the remaining turnip-wine to productively contribute, Velasco continues on up the beach, looking for a spot where the cliff dipped down enough to climb. He comes across a section where aquatic Severglaives fauna had beached themselves and rotted, being picked over by a small group of rust-men.

The rust-men come off friendly enough, and after striking up a conversation thank Velasco for rescuing their comrades from the pinecone knights' punishment (those comrades being the ones rescued from a slow drowning execution back in Session 5). They warn Velasco that a settlement of "loyalist" rust-men who still obeyed the King and his servants lay ahead. Velasco in turn preaches of the archons and their love, which provides the first hope and beauty to the lives of these people who'd known nothing but violence and the terror of being chased since their birth into the world. They gift some of the fresher meat they'd harvested to Velasco, then both continue on their way.

After some more travelling Velasco notices some smoke over the horizon, and the cliffside beginning to tilt down to earth. He also comes across a strange figure (though in this land perhaps it's the normal that would be stranger): a porcelain mask and ornate red & purple damask robe, floating in the air as though there were someone beneath wearing them, but past the eye-holes there was only emptiness. The figure introduced himself bombastically as Mazlo of the Deepest Pockets, extradimensionalist extraordinaire. Velasco learns that the man is a mage, and a specialist in places that lay in the uncommon folds of the fabric of space - an art as forbidden to polite society as necromancy.

Using a magic glove Mazlo confirms that Velasco is not of the armoire's world, and presses for information. The mage is seeking the "seed" around which the world had formed. In exchange for the magic glove - reasoned to be the key to finding the Countess now that she'd lost or traded her face -  Velasco reveals the location of the armoire itself in both worlds (apparently Mazlo had arrived through some sort of astral projection).

The monk keeps walking, and comes across the loyalist settlement, fortified from cliff to water's edge by a wall of slates hewn from the cliff's dark stone.

As it was getting late, Velasco decides to return to their boats rather than deal with whatever fresh bullshit waited beyond the settlement's gate that evening, and has the boats propped up flipped-over to nestle under as shelters. The monk whips up a delicious meal with the supplies they'd received from the pinecone knight garrison and the rust-men, and Brindle snuggles up (entirely Platonically) when they set up for sleep, if only to be away from Sieur "Cleave a pinecone to the bone" Alistair and Ibrahim "I see a boar I blast it into gore" the Adept.

In the morning Velasco returns to the settlement, and is confronted by the guard manning the wall. With some quick talking, name-dropping Captain Skybrush, and a bribe of some campfire-cooked food, the hedgehog wins his way in. He makes his way through the place, somewhat ramshackle but the closest to a full and unrazed village the party had been to thus far. The homes were made of the same stacked slates as the wall, and there were some apparently-feral rust-men locked up in cages at times comforted or tormented by the others throughout. At the other end was a massive wall of lumber-reinforced earthworks, and an elevator raising rust-men both caged and not over the top.

At the top of the wall was perched a woman with a bird's wings and lower body, and feathery black-and-white hair, inspecting the rust-men that made their way up on the elevator. Velasco shouts to the woman to get her attention, and she flutters down. The monk surreptitiously scans her with the glove he'd received from Mazlo, but gets no glow off it. The two talk about the Countess, the wedding, and what the bird-woman was doing. She explains that she is a chickadee-valkyrie (chickyrie?), tasked with inspecting and testing fighters to see if they were worthy of the King's service. Velasco brags of the party's victories, and thus impressing the valkyrie is allowed onto the elevator.

-I tried to do the valkyrie's dialogue like a chickadee's call, words or syllables repeating at the end of sentences, not sure how well that came across. Even if it's annoying it's probably easier to remember the character though right?-

On the other side of the wall was verdant land, fields of green and trampled dirt. Something like a war camp stretched out before Velasco, an army of warriors going about their day-to-day business and practicing their skills. He passed north through the camp, trying not to attract any hostile attention.

The monk arrived at the edge of a wide and swift-moving river. A single bridge of broad white stone straddled it. Standing resolute in the center of the bridge was a pinecone wearing the unmistakable spikey armour of the legendary Blackbriar Knight. Here the session ended.

Will the Blackbriar Knight prove the superior warrior to Sieur Alistair? What face does the Countess now wear? Is the game doomed to hemorrhage every player that joins? Find out next time, on Beyond the Bizarre Armoire!

-Following the session Renefor & I were joined by friends of the blog TheisticGilthoniel and Phlox for a long discussion on theology, art, and the best flavour of chips (for me nothing can beat the simple refinement of "regular" - sometimes called "original"). These sorts of discussions often happen after a session, but I've only seen fit to mention them here. Besides playing the games themselves, being able to have these smart & interesting talks with smart & interesting people who I otherwise never would've encountered has been one of the few genuine pleasures the abominable quarantine has afforded me. If the world ever returns to a semblance of normalcy, I hope that's what remains.-