Part 12: Hagspawn In Disguise
Act Two Chapter Four - And You Thought The Angel Had Baggage
This is the World Map, encompassing the land of Rashemen (presumably it was drawn by a native too).
Take note of the "Days to Travel" box - because travelling takes time, a journey of sufficient length could kill you through starvation. For "Days" read "hours" - this journey will cost us two hours' worth of Spirit Energy = 2 Units.
The Wells of Lurue map is a large overland area, consisting mostly of narrow mountain passages and isolated groves. However, we start out at the bottom of a valley, near a humble homestead.
Lurue is the fey goddess of intelligent animals, particularly unicorns and pegasi. She's like Okku but higher up the hierarchy (and not a bear).
: I remember a pool... a gathering of beasts... water rushing from above...
: The moisture on the air... it carries the scent of my clan. And their voices, too. They are near, Calliope, can you hear them?
: I... hear nothing.
The Wells are Gann and Okku's area, really. Lots of content for these two coming up.
: Do they live? I hear pain in their cries... and rage.
: My kin are here... hiding among the rocks, perhaps. But why...
: Come. We'll search these gorges until we find them.
Okay, so you've probably guessed what Okku's sidequest is. But what's Gann's connection to this place?
Have you noticed every time I pose a rhetorical question, something bad happens? No, don't bother answering that.
: I expect nothing from the farmers of Rashemen except the fact and tone you show me now. Rest easy, for I am not here to share a roof - nor will I ever again, with such a reception.
: Expect no hospitality from me, now or ever, dog. I offered you all this, and you took the stable... and ran your sickly claws through my daughter's mind!
: I don't understand how Gann came to be here in the first place.
: I walk where my dreams take me, but on occasion, I need a roof and bed rather than the stars. Upon even rarer occasion, I am courteously offered a place to stay and treated as a guest.
: I offered you a place to stay, hagspawn, but you only had eyes for corrupting my Anya.
: Do not speak of her that way - she is hurt and wounded, and you make light of it!
: What is wrong with your daughter?
: Anya speaks in mumbles, half-words... ever since the visit of that hagspawn! Lost to madness, because of him!
: You think I bear the weight for that? You soil-churning fool of a farmer, watch where your tongue takes you.
: I have done nothing to your daughter. If you blame me, I demand proof! If not, th-
* * *
I love this music.
Alexander Brandon did a bang-up job with the audio direction for Mask of the Betrayer. If the name sounds familiar, he was the man behind the music for Unreal and Deus Ex (and you can definitely hear it in some of the tracks). So a pretty good pedigree, no?
I'm sorry, I'm getting off-topic.
: But why come to me now? Father will see! Unless you are in trouble, you must come only in dreams, only then can we be alone.
: Anya, I have no intention of entering your dreams, nor have I... not after the night I stayed with you.
: But... but you came to me last night, and the night before, and the night bef-
: Anya, I did not come to you, I have not stepped into your dreams.
: You have. Who are you? You are not acting like yourself.
: Are you putting on a show for this one you follow? Do you fear to reveal your feelings for me in front of her?
: But... but no, that cannot be.
: Something... something is wrong with her, her father did not lie.
: Anya, will you close your eyes, for just a moment?
: Of course! What game do you pl-
: She... she does not lie. I do visit her, but it is not I. She has... shaped another me with her mind.
On the other hand, at least she's not pregnant. Of all the possible scenarios, mere insanity seems a pretty good consequence to me.
Anya is, of course, a dreamwalker, just like Gann. However she has no training in it - so when Gann dream-slept with her during his stay, she created a dream-Gann so she could enjoy his dream-delights every day.
: What do you mean, Gannayev?
: I cannot fix this, at least not alone. But the more she shapes this echo of me, the worse her madness will become.
: We need to end this other Gann, and quickly, before he becomes any more real.
: Why are you speaking of madness? And of killing yourself? It makes...
: ...unless... you are not real yourself.
Oof. Gann's seduction technique is so good, Anya doesn't even recognise him when he isn't trying to schmooze into her knickers.
Anyway, Gann explains that we can't help Anya right now, but things might change that in the future. We'll have to leave things as they are until then.
: This... "Gann" she whispers of, I assure you, is not me.
Gann gets pissy if you even imply he has some kind of responsibility for what has happened to Anya.
Which he does. But he's not ready to accept that yet.
: Indeed. The damage was not done by me, and I bear no responsibility for this. I am not indebted to do anything.
: Her dreams run strong, and they rule her, not the other way around. In her dreams, she has made a "Gann," but this Gann is something she has woven, and it bears little resemblance to me.
* * *
Wells of Lurue
Enough of the Waltons. We have an appointment with Ku'arra.
: U'juk has much knowledge of spirit-eaters and the Gift to share with you.
: We've begun preparations for a feast. With your arrival, we can complete the feast. Follow me, please.
Ku'arra's folk seem even more primitive than the Rashemi.
Are those bones left lying around in the middle of the campsite?
: I have lived since another time, centuries past. A time when stories walked the lands in flesh... and blood.
: I have known spirit-eater in many different shapes. Some I have befriended, learned from and taught.
: Others I have eaten, when they betrayed the Gift. It is a service I provide in respect to spirit-eater, so that the Gift may pass to one worthy of it.
: What do you mean by "ursine ally?"
: Okku, the bear king, once hunted and tried to eat me. I still bear the scars from Okku's teeth.
: I have hunted many throughout the years. Very few have escaped my claws, and I remember them all. I do not remember you.
Okku's a guardian spirit of Rashemen - he only hunts threats to his land, like spirit-eaters. It's the very reason for his existence.
I don't think U'juk is our friend...
: Okku does not remember me because I conceal myself with the skin of my prey.
Aw crap. We fell for the easiest scam in the book.
Uthraki! Shape-shifting cannibal monkey-men! With eight eyes!
They remind me of Su-monsters - and how I always used to skip past their page in the 2nd Edition Monster Manual because the picture wigged me out so much:
Ugh. Fuck the jungle.
: I know you now, U'juk, you chattering ape! And I remember the taste of your blood... this time, I shall have more than just a taste, I think.
: Perhaps this time the Gift will pass to me when spirit-eater dies. I suspect I killed the other too quickly before. I shall make this death linger.
At least now I can have my revenge on those damn apes.
Oh great. We barely escape a cannibal ambush and as a reward we're given a Moral Dilemma to agonise over.
The important thing about Moral Dilemmas, though, is that they only apply to people who are moral.
The rest of the Well is not tremendously exciting. Almost every encounter is an elemental encounter, which is great if you're still on your Spirit-Eater Training Wheels, but they're just annoying for our low-damage Rogue build.
All right, now we're getting somewhere.
This is Zinoviy and she's a durthan. Durthans are witches like hathrans, but hathrans are nice and durthans are mean. It's an ideological issue: hathrans worship spirits of love and peace and act accordingly, while durthans worship fire- and death-spirits and want to bring war to Rashemen's enemies. Hathrans are basically the government of Rashemen and resultingly stable; durthans are maverick outsiders with a penchant for wild, destructive magic.
Sheva Whitefeather is a hathran and hasn't exactly been a friend to us so far, so imagine what Zinoviy will do to us.
: [Success] It... is true, Zinoviy. You drew us here, told us this would be an easy fight.
: Let the spirit-eater feast on you, Zinoviy. We are done with your plots and manipulations.
Gosh, we barely even spoke two words to her and we're already squaring up to a fight.
Don't worry, I'm used to it.
: Has it? Make certain, before you boast.
: If we slay you here, your hunger will pass to one of us... and we can use the power against our cowering sisters.
: And it will be Whitefeather who cowers amongst the rocks and wails her sorrow on the empty wind...
We're getting close to the end. We've lost the wandering elementals and started picking up telthor packs. Although we made peace with Okku, these telthors are attacking us anyway. Why?
Okku's friends must be around here somewhere. They can tell us the answer.
Well, well, well.
: Bah! Do not claim us as kin. Our blood ran thin in your veins. And now it does not run at all.
I thought the Wells seemed like a nice place to live! Apart from the roaming monsters, lunatic neighbours and man-eating monkeys, that is.
: Ancestors. Elders of my kind. And Wotomo is-
: -his grandfather, in truth. I am the one who sired Okku's father... though my son's spirit has passed to Bhalla's golden woods, and he bathes in these pools no more.
: Better that your father is gone, Okku... that he does not know how you led your race to ruin.
: [Success] You see? She is no monster. We will end this curse, and-
: Do you remember the right on the ice, grandson? How you led your clan against the eater of spirits?
Lake Tirulag. Nakata remembered, at least.
For those who have forgotten (like Okku), the ice of Tirulag is where Okku led an army of spirits against the previous spirit-eater. Okku lost, of course, but was spared out of... what? We don't know yet, but we'll soon find out.
: My grandson's wounds were deep. His spirit bled... and faded...
: He should have come to the Wells to die, venerable Wotomo... as our law commands! The Queen of Talking Beasts would have judged his soul, and freed him from his oath.
: But Okku chose his oath above our law. He brought the monster to our sacred barrow... to the chamber that was meant for him!
: Okku, do you remember any of this?
: Mph. Dreams are returning to me, little one... perhaps it is the waters of the Wells, drifting on the air.
This is important, and not just because it explains how we became a spirit-eater.
: My grandson would have you think that he made a noble sacrifice, spirit-eater. But he knew that he would doom his race.
: Our barrow is a sacred place... a wellspring of dreams. It was poisoned by the monster that was trapped within... and all our race went mad. They perished as wild, slavering brutes.
: If Okku did this, he had good reason - to end the curse.
: I need not explain my reasons to petty, vengeful ghosts. They lured me here, lying in wait, no better than mortal men in the skins of beasts-
Now it gets hairy (hoho). Bears don't go in much for argument and debate. If we're not careful we could end up killing Okku's granddad.
He doesn't actually mind that much, though - he's rather fight his grandfather than betray his principles and act like a coward. But we can talk our way out of this and earn extra XP.
: [Success] We... would not...
: Look at them, Calliope. They are old. Once they dreamed of wind, and blood, and sky. Now they chatter like apes, and bicker over laws.
: But do not look for us again, son of my son. Your decision doomed your race... and so, your race must be lost to you. Now, and always...
A sad character moment for Okku...