Part 53: InterludeInterlude
The Tavern of Broken Dreams (Music)
"Oi? What's this about this Aoskar fellow now?" a voice calls out from the crowd.
"That- that name is forbidden..." Mikon growls, "The Harmonium would have the head of anyone who dared to speak it." He looks around for support, but finding none he resigns himself to sitting down and downing a gulp of bitter black ale.
Scii-Tavakis purses her lips in an embarrassed smile, "Ah... I'm afraid I've heard little of the name. It seems that few in Sigil are eager to speak of the matter... and I've little patience for chasing the wind."
"Ah, if I may," Oudilin says, raising a hand, "Such is a tale worth telling properly, and in full."
"Ach! Better to chase th' wind than be full o' it," G'mir grumbles. The stout midget dwarf had been bound from shoulders to ankles and set upright. As the one responsible for ripping off one of the table legs, he now is responsible for propping it up. While no doubt grumpier, he has been a lot more quiet.
Oudilin strums his lyre, "Listen all and hear the tale of one who is whispered of in shadows, memory kept alive by silent hymns and muted chants. Know that the Harmonium destroys all that bear his image, arrest those who speak his name, and strike his history from all tomes. Aoskar, once god of travel, the bearer of fortune, the keeper of all opportunities, and lord of portals! This all back in an age where the Powers themselves walked the streets of Sigil.
"Yes you hear true. Long ago Poseidon had drawn the waters of his land into the City of Doors, and fair Lady Bast was paraded through the marketplace on a palanquin of sweet myrrh and incense. Heironeus' light shone pure and true, cleansing the city of all iniquity, while Shar lurked in the shadows and waited. All Powers were welcome to come and go as they pleased, some merely to shorten the vast journeys between worlds, while some built temple and kip within Sigil's fair and shining walls. Aoskar was one such deity, the god of travel, the bearer of fortune, the keep-"
Oudilin gives a start at Shara Six-Blades' annoyed glance, and coughs politely before returning to strum calmly at his lyre, "But to continue, Aoskar prospered as the figurehead of Sigil. His word was the thrum of this heart of the Planes. His portals were the veins through which all prosperity flowed. The face of Aoskar gilded every wall and pillar, and every other hymn sung was in praise to this Father of Portals.
"Many believed him greater than the Lady of Pain herself, while no few philosophers considered Her Serenity to be a mere aspect of his power... for who could truly love that sublime queen of blades, when the light of grand Aoskar's portals outshone hers?
"As for the Lady of Pain herself, she remained silent."
Another artistic strum and Oudilin continues, face solemn as his tune grows mournful.
"It was one fateful day when one of those silent caretakers of Sigil, servants to the Lady of Pain... a Dabus, made a terrible decision. He could sing no hymns, nor preach the holy word, but he had faith, and that was enough. Draping the clerical robes over his shoulders his proud folly was also the doom of that which he had chosen to worship, for the Dabus known as Fell proclaimed himself a Priest of Aoskar!"
A collective gasp fills the room and a chorus of murmurs abound. Many have heard some whisper of rumor, and indeed a few wore proudly the crawling tattoos that Fell had inscribed upon their flesh. So strange for a quiet and humble Dabus to betray the Lady of all things.
"Some say the Lady floated to the Grand Temple as serene as Her namesake, some say she strode the streets howling with the fury of ten thousand worlds. I have heard it told that the winds of Sigil carried the shrieks of countless blades sliding against one another, that Aoskar squealed in half a hair of a moment of agony as he was impaled on one of Her shining blades, evanescent gods-blood spilling white and pure upon the stones.
"This... this was and still is the most terrifying moment of the Lady's fury that any and all have witnessed, for with but a thought the Lady gave Aoskar her razor-honed caress."
"It took only one moment for this god of portals to be utterly slain by the Lady, and his temple and all things within a thousand spans were annihilated. Buildings were ground to dust, and flesh was riven from the bones of countless loyal worshippers. Only the shell of the Grand Temple remained, and the gray husk of Aoskar's corpse was taken by the Astral Plane. From that point on, all Powers were barred from the city of Sigil. Such was the justice of Her Serenity, the Lady of Pain.
"To this day the Temple still stands, taken by the blaspheming Athar as a monument to the impotence of gods. Such is the fate of Aoskar, and the tender tragedy of his memory."
"I've gone and soiled me knickers..." a voice whimpers from the crowd.
"That... is why the name is forbidden," Mikon grunts. He glances at you, shaking his mug, "No need to bring Her down on our heads like that."
You nod politely in response. The poor man had been shamed, dismissed, and scoffed at his entire time here off-duty, and now he had to sit through what bordered treason against the Lady in the minds of the Harmonium. Perhaps it would be best to treat him to another ale... he seems like he desperately needs it.
You rap your knuckles against the bar for service, just as the Athasian begins anew.
"The Nameless One had endured worse of course, and such a petty death would not keep him still for long. Those familiar aches returned to him as he stumbled to his feet, stiff and numb with his fresh death..."