Monday, September 7, 2020

House of Worms, Session 197

Toneshkéthu Vokrón, third stage student
of the College at the End of Time

At the end of the last session, the characters found themselves attempting to return to their own version of Tékumel after having passed into another one by means of an errant nexus point. The Lady Srüna hiVázhu was quite impatient with the characters, berating them on their lack of preparation and general ignorance of the way that nexus points work. When her own nescience in these matters was pointed out, she blustered and attempted to change the subject by launching into a disquisition on the subject of the Tree of Reality and the many planes of existence that make it up.

Keléno, ever polite, spent some time talking to Srüna about this bit of esoteric metaphysics, hoping that, by doing so, he was not only buying time for his clan mates to figure out a plan of action, but that he might gain additional knowledge into these matters. However disagreeable Lady Srüna was, she was nevertheless a lay priestess of Ksárul and thus likely quite privy to many magical secrets he would enjoy knowing himself. After some time, though, Srúna grew tired of discussing branching decision nodes, bubble universes, and bundle-branches and insisted that the only important thing right now was finding a way home.

The characters agreed and decided that the best approach was a purely practical one: step through the nexus point again and again to see if they could somehow happen upon the proper version of Tékumel. The first one they tried was clearly not the right one. There was a mysterious black obelisk located not far from the other side of the nexus point. However, thinking back on their experiences in a previous alternate Tékumel (this occurred in a session prior to session 196), Kirktá suggested that, if they ventured forth even in an alternate Tékumel, they might find valuable information. In particular, they had found a chamber beneath the Temple of Ages that contained a tiled floor. The tiles each contained a unique ideogram in a script none of the characters knew. Unfortunately, some of the tiles had been smashed – deliberately so, it seemed – and that had prevented Kirktá from collecting a complete set of ideograms. He was sure that these strange writings contained useful information and he urged his clan mates to consider going back to the chamber. Perhaps in this alternate version of the Temple of Ages, no tiles had been smashed.

The others agreed and they set off to visit the chamber. As they made their way toward the location of the chamber, they saw evidence of sounds and movement ahead. Scouting in advance of the party, Nebússa saw a mass of serpentine Qól, more than two dozen of them, in fact. The characters had dealt with these nasty creatures before and did not relish doing so again, especially in such large numbers. They then elected to turn back, much to Kirktá's disappointment. It was at this point that the characters remembered that they were still carrying three chests they had previously found and not opened (they had already looted a collection of spell scrolls and enumerated their contents). Most of the contents were pieces of jewelry and coinage, but there were also two unique items. One was a collection of eight human bones – four arms bones and four leg bones – wrapped in silk. The other was a small crystalline sphere with the word "small" written around its circumference in Llyáni. Aíthfo can read and speak Llyáni and assumed this was a command word, which he spoke aloud. Immediately, he, Keléno, Nebússa, and Grujúng were all transported into a spherical chamber somewhere. Looking about, it became clear that they had shrunk and were now inside the crystalline sphere. Aíthfo spoke the command word again and they returned to full size. Excited by this new find, the party passed back into the nexus point and the other-planar space beyond.

Not having any other plan, Grujúng kept passing through the nexus point to see what lay beyond. He did this several dozen times, each time finding a version of Tékumel that was not their own, in some cases quite drastically so. Since there seemed to be no good reason why they were not able to return to their home plane, they were beginning to despair of ever doing so, since their previous experience with nexus points had been much more straightforward. That's when Keléno got the idea of contacting Toneshkéthu Vokrón, a student at the College at the End of Time, a magical academy located far in the future of Tékumel. The characters had encountered Toneshkéthu two years previously while exploring the Dry Bay of Ssu'úm, east of Tsolyánu. When they met her, she already knew them, having, she said, met them previously, though they had no recollection of this. Later, after they had traveled to the Achgé Peninsula, they encountered her again, this time beneath the ruined Naqsái city of Pashkirígo. This time, she did not know them and was indeed shocked that they knew her, as it was her first time visiting "this branch of the Tree." (They would later surmise that her perception of time is different, owing to her home base being the College at the End of Time)

Toneshkéthu had left a magical device for Keléno to enable him to talk to her when needed, though she stressed that her teacher, Master Sinustragán Dzáshu, would not tolerate her providing them with too much information. When contacted, Toneshkéthu expressed surprise that Keléno was contacting her, as the characters were "at the really good part yet." Still, she agreed to help, if she could. Keléno explained their predicament and she replied, "Your resonance must be out of sync with your home plane. Have you done anything to affect your natural harmonics?" Since no one could really even understand what she meant, they had no answer. Toneshkéthu then asked, "Did you take anything from another plane and attempt to bring it back to your branch?" That was when they realized that the items they'd taken from an alternate Tékumel were affecting their ability to return home. Reluctantly, they abandoned all the armor, weapons, jewelry, and magical devices they discovered, including the crystalline sphere, before setting back through the nexus point. This time, they arrived home. Keléno thanked Toneshkéthu for instructing them in the finer points of planar physics and they prepared to make their way out of the Temple of Ages once more. 

No comments:

Post a Comment