Friday, June 4, 2010

The Heights of Mt. Ossa

Monday, June 9, 1650


Aric will strike out for the slopes of Mt. Ossa, taking pathways that are steep and not that well travelled. By early afternoon, the two of you have climbed to a place where Symeon is able to see a considerable distance across the plain below, eight or ten miles to the horizon.

“Symeon,” will say Aric. “I have heard you speak of Greece as a single entity, and while I understand this thinking, I cannot say that I condone it. Greek thought has never been a single land or had a solitary existence. It has existed as slave, servant and master in a hundred lands, and whatever the political nature of its people, the ideas are not bound by mere soldiers or kings.

“You have said you wish Greece to be free. When has this land ever been free? We were Byzantines and the land was soaked with blood as usurper slaughtered king over and over. We were Roman and still there was blood. We were many independent cities and always, again, blood. And now you would raise more armies and drench the ground with more blood, to gain what? To make the land free. It is only land, Symeon. It does not breathe, it does not feel pain, it knows nothing of whose armored feet tread upon it, nor does it care. Think not of the land, but of the people in it, of the spirits that have dwelt here for ages upon ages, reaching back into the depths of time. When blood is what they want, they will call for it. If it satisfies them to have the land in the hands of the Turks, we cannot bring about a change.

“We must worry ourselves with those things that are in our grasp. We must keep chaos from breaking loose the bonds that keep it held ... the chaos that those bandits down there, who share your views, would release upon the land. Stop, now, and look out at the plains below. Do they seem ill at ease, or do they seem at peace. The land blossoms, food grows, children laugh and play, all is as it should be. Put aside this anger, and find instead peace yourself.”

It would be the character’s nature to ignore all this, but I will point out that when Symeon does look out at the plain, he DOES feel a sense of peace ... this would be a sight he would rarely see, and it would be compelling and even, if we must use a magic phrase for it, suggestive. So he may stuff all that down if he wishes, but he must admit to himself that the world is a beautiful place.

35 comments:

Symeon Kokolas said...

"Aric, you are an artist with words. I am not a particularly wise man. My gifts are of personality and swift motion. You speak of the spirits of this ancient place, and it is something I had never given much thought.
I do not want freedom for the land, I want freedom for her people. To be able to keep what you earn, go where you wish, and make your living in any way that suits you and harms none. Free to follow the path of righteousness without fear of persecution.
This need not happen at swordpoint. It would be better for us all if words were our weapons. Still, there will always be those who will not listen to reason. When those people stand in our way, I and men like me are ready to do whatever is necessary. I understand that my actions will cause pain and evil, so I balance that against the good I see as the result.
For now, my goal is to rescue my companion. You seem to be a trustworthy man, and I am willing to do things your way while in your company. Perhaps you will help me open my eyes to a new approach. Perhaps we will fail. Only time can tell."

Alexis said...

"Your companion is in the hands of God, now. I shall send someone soon to see what has become of her, and we shall trust to good news.

But of your willingness assures me that now I am on the right course. Perhaps I will be able to show you something unthought of in your philosophy, Symeon."

And with that, he continues to lead you up the mountain, to a large boulder some hundreds of yards from the summit.

"We are here," says Aric. "Compare this in your belief, Symeon." He moves forward to the boulder, puts his hand against a smooth part of it, and speaks the word, "Fish."

And promptly disappears.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will attempt to match his actions exactly.

Symeon Kokolas said...

"My faith does not teach what is, only what should be obeyed. I will enter with respect, but nothing more. Thank you for your trust."

Alexis said...

(OOC: I only noticed now that my post yesterday was eaten. Sorry about that)

Aric will lead you into the temple, which is quite austere and devoid of decoration. There is nothing inside but a single font, standing upon a narrow pillar, perhaps three feet in height. Beyond it is a staircase down.

Aric will throw off most of his gear, and wash his hands in the font. "We must travel to see the oracle," he says. Then, taking up nothing except his maul, he will wait for Symeon.

Symeon Kokolas said...

(no worries, it's happened to me too.)

I will follow suit, leaving my backpack behind and taking my dagger.

Alexis said...

As you follow Aric down the steps, and underground and into the mountain, the air becomes dank very quickly. "Keep your eyes open," says Aric. "We will probably 'disturb' something as we climb down - this is always so, and I will confess that I am glad that you are with me. I am only sorry to say that I do not know what we may disturb."

Following the descent of some thirty feet, the stairs will disappear, and Symeon finds himself in a natural tunnel. Do you wish to make any specific preparation?

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will draw my dagger. I will move as silently as I can while keeping pace, and I will listen very carefully. I will attempt to stay clear of Aric's maul so that he has good clearance to swing. If the tunnel is wide enough, I would try to stay about 5' behind and 5' to the side of him. If there are openings on my side, I will shift to his other side as we go, trying to keep him diagonally between me and possible threats.

Alexis said...

The tunnel is perhaps eight feet wide, and seven feet high; the slope is easily detected, it is as much as ten percent, even twenty in places. The floor is not slippery, and easily to manuever on. Aric keeps to the left of the tunnel; therefore Symeon would be on the right.

"This is the gate," says Aric. "The oracle is below us ... and will tell us where the womb is. But it does not always allow itself to be visited."

Symeon Kokolas said...

"The womb... curious. What is it?"

Alexis said...

"It is a bowl," answers Aric, "of great antiquity. It has always been a source, of power, of rebirth, of health in the land and of plentitude." He pauses, listening for several moments, before feeling confident enough to continue descending.

"It was only found a decade ago after having been lost for many centuries, and these last years we have worked to comprehend how it may be used to serve man's needs; but there are those to whom the Womb is only power, and nothing more, who would use it to bring forth not life, but death - and for the very things, Symeon, that you have said you would fight for."

Symeon Kokolas said...

"Weapons have their uses, but my goals require willing people. Whether it is used to devastate the invaders or to enrich our lives, the use should be chosen for the greatest need.
Perhaps there is something else you can tell me about. I saw what looked like a short, hunched creature running away from the battle. Is that familiar to you?"

Alexis said...

Aric looks at you in surprise. "Hunched? As though he were carrying something, pressed against his chest?"

Symeon Kokolas said...

"Perhaps. It was dark, and I only just noticed the figure hurrying away. Nasira was too far ahead for me to follow it."

Alexis said...

Aric pauses, and stops moving, considering what Symeon has said. "It will make itself clear, but it seems strange to me that at the moment that thieves should decide to plunder the Womb, that a figure would be stealing away and the Womb should disappear. Does it not?"

I will need Symeon to roll a d6.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I rolled a 1.

Alexis said...

Both you and Aric are surprised. A small, very thin yet humanoid creature, slightly less than four feet high and surely no heavier than sixty pounds, seems to appear from the wall itself. It slashes Aric's waist with a blade the size of a short sword, but curved, and Aric gives a cry and falls back, losing his balance and dropping to the floor of the tunnel.

While Symeon takes a moment to grasp that this has happened - due to the surprise - the creature stabs at Aric again, sinking the blade into Aric's thigh ... the huge man gives another cry.

And now it is Symeon's action.

Symeon Kokolas said...

That should put it in reach. I will strike with my dagger.

Alexis said...

I will need you to roll a d20, and a d4 in case you hit.

Symeon Kokolas said...

d20: 15
d4: 4

Symeon Kokolas said...

(That reminds me, I need to make a wisdom check to be able to enter combat. Assuming it's a d20, I rolled a 4. If you wish, I will re-roll or roll something else at your direction.)

Alexis said...

I'm okay with the roll to enter combat. You blow strikes the creature, causing four damage. It falls back and Aric calls out, "DON'T KILL IT!"

Aric crawls to his feet. "If it's killed the oracle will call forth something greater. We must move forward without violence."

Even as Aric speaks, its clear the creature does mean to strike back at Symeon. "You see? It is because I came forward to there;" he points to where he was standing when the creature attacked. "It will attack only if we move forward."

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will hold my dagger down at my side, ready but not overtly threatening.
"What do you want me to do?" I ask Aric.

Alexis said...

Aric begins to bind his wound with some of his closk. "Speak with it. It guards the oracle - if we force our way past, the oracle will be of no use to us. We must prove that we are right in our purpose."

He turns to the creature, saying, "We seek to do no harm, nor learn anything that will bring harm to others."

Aric gestures to Symeon; "Say who you are."

Alexis said...

(OOC: By the way, I have posted a map that happens to contain the land of Symeon's birth ... if that is of any interest)

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will sheath my dagger, still facing the guardian. "I apologize for the violence of my reaction. I am Symeon of Alos. I am here to help Aric in return for his help in rescuing my companion. I do not intend to do harm here unless I am attacked first. Is there anything I can do to right the wrong I have done to you?

Alexis said...

The creature will not drop its weapon, but it will say, "Give of thyself."

It will then withdraw down the passage, to where it turns, not keeping its eye on Symeon .. and then stepping out of sight.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will follow Aric's lead if he is ready to proceed.

Alexis said...

He's a bit lame; he asks if you will take point.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will proceed in front, dagger still sheathed, but alert for further danger.

Alexis said...

You move around the corner after the creature, and the slope increases quite a lot. You have to move carefully from here, sliding in places and careful not to fall forward. Aric has a great deal of trouble with his poor leg, but he can’t really be helped since his size makes is a danger for Symeon; if Aric should slip, Symeon isn’t large enough of strong enough to stop the big man from possibly bringing you both down.

But it doesn’t take long before you come to the lip of a drop; a dead end, where the passage stops with a chamber, forming a hole in the chamber wall about fifty feet above the floor. The chamber is at least 200’ across, and emits a natural light, which seems to emit from a pool below.

Aric will sit. “This is as far as I can go,” he says. “You must descend to the floor, and speak to the oracle. She is in the pool. Be careful what you say. I have a rope in my bag; I can hold one end up here while you move down.”

Symeon Kokolas said...

"I will go as quickly as I can."
I will retrieve his rope. Presumably I would be able to tie a decent knot (bowline) to hold me and a good-sized knot for Aric to grip.
"Call out if there is trouble, and I will try to help."
Once he is ready, I will descend as quickly as I can. Since he seems to be having trouble, I'll suggest he simply hold the end. I can loop the line around myself, then climb hand over hand down. Seems easier on him than having him lower me, anyway.
However it goes, I'll keep my eyes open as I descend.

Symeon Kokolas said...

(guess I was failing at reading comprehension last night; I just now realized that you already intended him to hold while I lowered myself. Sorry for the overly-complicated post.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: It’s no trouble; I’ve been letting myself get distracted)

It is some trouble to descend to the floor of the cavern. Once on the floor, you may approach the pool freely, there being nothing to bar your way. The water, you can see, is crystal clear, and bright blue, as though lit from beneath. You can smell the water, and against your instincts it smells sweet and comforting.

Across the pool, on the other side, you see the creature that wounded Aric. He seems unthreatening, its hands empty. It makes a gesture which you interpret would suggest it wants you to drink from the pool.

Symeon Kokolas said...

I will scoop up some water in cupped hands and drink it.