Thursday, January 21, 2021

House of Worms, Session 210

The lights in the darkened chamber were three in number, blue-white in color, and rotating around each other, several feet above the ground. Keléno and Znayáshu recognized these as nexus points, similar to those seen elsewhere in the ruins of Pashkírigo. The ancient Naqsái city seemed to be situated in an area where the "skin of reality" was thinner and magic generally more effective. Consequently, nexus points were unusually common here and, when encountered, were often seen in odd configurations such as these. Regardless, the pair believed that it was likely through these nexus points that Arúken hiSesmúga, with whose spirit Znayáshu had communicated, intended to rendezvous with his ally, Kétem. 

After a time pondering the best way to test this theory, one of the group's guards, a younger member of the House of Worms clan, stepped forward and offered to enter one of the nexus points and, if he survived the journey, return to the chamber to report what he saw. With some reluctance, the group endorsed this plan. The guard entered the nexus point – and did not return. The group waited several more minutes, eventually amounting to thirty in the end, before deciding that something untoward had happened to their young charge and someone else would have to test the nexus point. Grujúng volunteered, along with Nebússa. They entered the nexus, one after the other, and likewise did not return. This began to worry the party, who eventually decided, with great reluctance on the part of Keléno, that they ought to all enter the nexus point, reasoning that their purpose would not be served if they were separated from one another with no means of communication.

What they discovered, upon passing through the nexus point, is that they had all arrived at the same point and at the same time, despite their having passed through the nexus point at different times from their perspective. Keléno noted that it was not uncommon for such temporal anomalies to occur, as nexus points can traverse time as well as space. More pressing was the fact that, up ahead, they saw a young man employing both sorcery and an eye to defend himself against a half-dozen strange, silvery-white humanoid figures. These figures were utterly featureless, having no discernible faces or or even fingers or toes. They seemed to possess sorcery of their own, shooting bolts of energy at the young man, who, for the moment anyway, was able to protect himself. 

Nebússa suggested that perhaps the young man was Kétem and, if so, they should join the battle on his side. Though there was some dispute about this, the characters ultimately decided to do so, with Grujúng and Nebússa running ahead, weapons drawn, supported by the guards they brought with them. Meanwhile, the others attacked from range, with Chiyé making use of his crossbow, Keléno his eye of Krá the Mighty, and his third wife, Mírsha, her spells. Most of their efforts proved ineffectual, or seemingly so, as the silvery beings were quite resilient. Keléno in particular was frustrated that his eye had failed him multiple times, while Grujúng, usually a potent combatant, was unable to do much damage against these weird beings. Ultimately, it was Mírsha's sleep spell that proved most effective, causing all six of the beings to enter a quiescent state and stop attacking.

The young man smiled at the sight of this and, addressing Mírsha, said, "You must show me how you did that!" He then thanked the characters and suggested that they vacate this space by returning to the chamber from which they had come. He showed them the proper nexus point to enter and they all did so, leaving the weird beings behind. Upon returning, he said that his name was Kétem and he inquired what had become of Arúken. Kétem was saddened to hear of his ally's death but was nevertheless grateful the characters had come to his aid. He explained that those beings appeared "whenever someone was attempting to meddle with branches of the Tree of Time."

Upon hearing this, the characters erupted in questions, which Kétem did his best to answer. Over the course of much discussion, the following was learned. A group within the Temple of Ksárul known as the Ndálu Clan had been traveling between two branches – two alternate versions of Tékumel – transporting people and objects between them in an attempt to merge the two into a single branch, thereby altering reality more to their liking. Kétem explained that their efforts had already succeeded in part, resulting in numerous changes to the past, present, and future of the branch the characters inhabited, a fact that explained a great deal about what they had experienced both on the Southern Continent and back in Tsolyánu before they had any inkling that a plot of this magnitude was afoot.

Needless to say, the characters were simultaneously appalled and fascinated by the information Kétem shared. They pressed him for more information, especially about the Ndálu Clan and their purposes, but he knew little, saying only that, "whatever they are up to, much of it has already been achieved." However, it was still possible to prevent more changes by "sealing the breach" between the two branches that the Clan was using to move between branches. He explained that there are certain fixed points on the Tree of Time that cannot be altered. The Ndálu clan was using one such fixed point as a "bridge" of sorts and that he and Arúken had been planning to travel to this fixed point in order to seal up access to it from the other side – something he hoped the characters would now join him in doing.

Naturally, they were interested in doing so, at least until they learned two details. First, the fixed point in question was the fabled Battle of Dórmoron Plain, the Armageddon of the Gods. The characters had earlier discovered a nexus point that seemingly led to this location/event and had spent a short time there before fleeing it. Second, Kétem stressed that, in order for the seal to work properly, it would have to be effected from the other side and be permanent. In other words, they would be forever trapped at that fixed point and unable to return to Tékumel. 

While the characters recognized the logic of what Kétem suggested, they were understandably concerned, to the point that Keléno stated outright that he was unsure he would join them in this endeavor. However, before any decisions were made, Kétem recommended that they ready themselves. He opened a nexus point to the Linyaró so that they return to their home, speak with anyone they wished, and otherwise make any preparations they felt were needed. If he were correct in his claims, they might well never be seeing Linyaró – or Tékumel – again.

1 comment:

  1. I can’t wait till we get to the Battle of Dórmoron Plain. I hope we dare to stay more than 30 seconds this time…