Part 26: "The Holy Spirit" Isn't A Part Of Any Kinship Terminology I Know
Act Two Chapter Eighteen - Received Wisdom
We've queued with the dead; been judged by the celestial majordomo; suffered through Hell; defeated the Trickster; peered into our own soul. Now we have our audience with God.
We've earned this.
The Slumbering Coven marks the halfway point of the game - though it's tricky to measure that when both Ashenwood and the Wells of Lurue are entirely optional. Don't expect the full set of answers just yet, though.
: :: Yes ::
: The slayers of my father, the warden of my mother, and the ones who punished her never to sleep, never to dream.
: :: Yes ::
: :: The one you travel with - she is the product of such broken laws, as are you. Transgressions must be punished, or they are repeated ::
: I agree - and that is why we are here to punish you.
: :: No, not unless you want this place to unravel around you, to see all dreams, all the chambers of this city flooded and gone ::
: :: To do so would kill you as well, and much further do we think you have to travel ::
: :: Dead and gone, by our law ::
: :: As your mother gave in to her appetites, so was she forced to devour her own mate... in the manner of all hags, piece by piece, leaving just enough alive to scream ::
Gann will have to wait for his vengeance. After all, we originally came to see the Slumbering Coven to find out what they told Lienna of the Veil theatre - since not long afterwards she abducted us and imprisoned us in Okku's barrow.
"The Nine" is an interesting title for the Coven. It's derived from the three hags in a coven, multiplied by three covens total, respecting the three aspects of the Triple Goddess/ur-femininity - but I said that already, didn't I? It's funny, though, because threes can be linked to the Holy Trinity of Christianity, or to the three theological virtues (hope, faith, charity), or to the Hindu triune of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, or to Hecate the three-faced goddess, or to the three great traitors of Alighieri's Inferno, or to numerous mythological groups like the Grey Sisters, the Norns, the Fates, the Erinyes...
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah... an intriguing parallel, but not insightful.
: So you walk unbidden through people's minds?
: :: Yes. Mortals are stupid, forgetful things. We walk in their dreams, and we take what they will only lose ::
: Why did you show me those dreams? What did they mean?
: Then those dreams... came from my mind?
: :: From its deepest places, yes... where dreams mingle with hidden and forgotten things ::
: Your servant said that your dreams were disturbed... and that I was the cause. Is this true?
: :: Yes. You are a tempest of dreams, a whirling storm, devouring dreams and dreamers alike. They swirl around you like leaves - tearing, shifting, blending one into another. It is maddening ::
Running with the aforementioned parallel: if the Slumbering Coven is God (like the Wood Man before them) then dreams are an act of worship. Actually, scratch that... the Coven walks amongst the dreamers of Rashemen, Thay and Thesk, harvesting the best dreams and preserving them in their dreamscape. After all, when the dreamers wake, the dreams will be lost forever, won't they? So dreams are less an act of worship and more actual faith itself - or the souls of the faithful, at the very least.
Which makes the Coven's dreamscape a kind of Heaven of sorts... a realm of eternal rest for the grateful dead.
The issue of consent arises... but I don't recall asking God to create me in His own image, and yet He demands filial piety from me, on pain of being sentenced to Hell. In comparison, the hags are practically benevolent.
: :: The white twin was Lienna. The red twin was Nefris ::
: Nefris? The mother of Safiya?
: :: The pretty one... her dreams are scattered, nauseating to look upon. She knows not what she is ::
I don't think the Coven are referring simply to the fact that Safiya is a Red Wizard. There's something darker at work here - and as a hint, consider it in terms of dreams = souls, a not-uncommon trope.
: Then Nefris and Lienna were sisters?
: :: They were sisters, of a sort. And they were more than two ::
That's not what they ended up doing! Are the Coven lying to us?
: All right. Show me, then.
* * *
: See us, hags of the Coven, and know us for what we are.
: We beseech your wisdom and bear gifts of dreams to trade... dreams of a sort even you have never seen.
: :: Your dreams are a treasure, unique in our hoard... like worlds seen through different facets of the same ancient stone ::
: :: Your question resounds across the infinity of your dreams... but in this place, you must ask it aloud. Speak ::
: We seek an answer, not a riddle. That God of the Dead has passed beyond thought or dream. He has been slain and his throne usurped - his knowledge is lost.
: :: Not lost. Myrkul is a corpse, but his thoughts and dreams remain... marooned now inside the rotting hulk of his mind. He dreams endlessly of old enemies come to grief, and ancient slights avenged... ::
: :: As long as he is remembered and feared by mortals - even if they are pitiful and few - his dreaming will persist, and his mind shall endure ::
: It can be done.
: That is all we would know, sisters of the Coven. Thank you.
* * *
: How many Gods of the Dead do your people have?
: :: And if you do not believe in them, then one of their harshest laws shall be inflicted upon you - to lie within the Wall of the Faithless until you dissolve as a fading dream ::
: :: So keep your defiance, if you must, but it will not last when death comes for you, dream-thing ::
: Did Lienna and Nefris succeed? Did they speak to the dead god?
Aha. We had wondered where that door in the Shadow Veil went... now we know.
: :: But we care not what you do, spirit-eater... we have spoken enough. You have troubled our dream too long ::
: My apologies, sisters of the Coven. Just a few more questions, and I will leave you in peace.
: :: Speak, then, spirit-eater, but do not expect us to receive you ever again ::
: :: We see them, in your mind's eye. But their dreams, if they live, are far beyond our grasp ::
: :: The wilds of the witch-realm, the merchant kingdoms to the west, and Thay to the south... in these places, our dreams wander free. And our eyes rove even farther... but not that far. Not yet ::
: Do you mean Bishop?
Also the Wall of the Faithless is on another plane entirely, so he'd definitely be out of the Coven's reach.
There was some earlier ambiguity in the thread about whether the conversation with Bishop was a dream or a genuine encounter with the Wall of the Faithless. The Coven raises an excellent point about dreams and the nature of faith - namely, just because something happens in the confines of your own head, it doesn't mean it's not real.
This is another one of our concerns that hasn't really come up before. Strange, considering that the shoddy open-heart surgery nearly killed us.
: :: Sword and shard are tied to you... and to the others who have also borne the blade. The sword of Gith is not separated so easily from its wielder's hand... ::
: The shard of Gith? What are they speaking about?
: Quiet for a moment, let them speak.
: I've been told that there were other spirit-eaters before me. What do you know of them?
: :: Other masks, yes. Many masks. We walked in their dreams, just as we have walked in yours ::
: :: Their faces were as varied as the mortals who infest the witch-realm... some prettier than yours, oh yes. And some fouler. All ended the same ::
: How did they end?
: :: You are utterly unlike us, spirit-eater. We hoard, collect, preserve. To us, dreams are things to be treasured, torn from those who do not know their worth ::
: :: But you devour and destroy, leaving nothing in your wake ::
Okay, jeez, it's not our fault. Calm down.
: I have no other questions. You've told me all I needed to know.
That's for yelling at us about being a spirit-eater!
: :: If you end our dream, all that it contains is lost. Imagine... the dreams of a thousand, thousand souls, the knowledge of wizards and kings centuries dead, the hopes and loves of men and women and beasts... all contained within our unending dream ::
: :: Such a trove as has never been assembled, here or anywhere across the planes... this you would destroy, for your own selfish whim ::
The hags offer a good argument for letting them be. If you didn't buy my argument about the dreamscape representing Heaven, look at the lines above again. Dreams, knowledge, hopes and loves? Sounds like the essentials of a soul to me.
One of the reasons I'm destroying the Coven is because it pleases Gann and his need for vengeance. Another is for being snide about our spirit-eater curse.
But the main reason is that I strongly believe in starting as you mean to go on. This halfway mark is the appetiser to the end of the game.
: :: You have not the power, nor the will! Stupid, arrogant thing... how many hundreds have tried to usurp our place, but we took their power, and absorbed their dreams ::
: This one does not stand alone, but with me. I am no novice to the unraveling of the dreams and ambitions of others - together, you will not find us easy prey.
: [Together, you reach out... probing... drifting with the ebb and flow of the dream...]
* * *
The actual fight with the hags themselves is an afterthought.
This is pretty typical of Obsidian games, where the dialogue is more important than the gameplay.
Breaking out of the Sunken City is hindered by the many hostile hagspawn guards...
...and by Fentomy the genie, back on the shore.
But we survived. And we finally have an answer to our questions - or one of them, at least. We must find and speak with the dead god Myrkul.
Shit just got real, y'all.