[6:40:42 PM] Mike: * Midnight, and the world is quiet. Imagine the path the party is on as a large loop of thread, with the town of Crabchitin at the point where the thread crosses itself: You have ascended the rocky cliffs that are in the middle of that loop, surrounded by the thread of road. The air is chill and swift; your breath might appear in visible puffs ahead of you, though it is only uncomfortably cold, not dangerously so.
[6:42:25 PM] Mike: Speaking with the Crucibelle further after the Warriork pledged their allegience to Surolam and the Bringer of Desolation, you noticed a few telltale clues about her tomb. And up here, you find it – not a grand and ornate affair, not a tomb of kings, but an ancient cave, tucked into the hillside. Even looking into it, you can sense the weight of ages sloughing from its mouth, a patience that could wait another thousand-thousand years with only a sigh.
[6:44:11 PM] DNA: <hope> (It’s quiet here,) so he thought. He takes a few deliberate steps towards the mouth of the cave, and waits. He wants to see if the only voice he hears is that of the stones, or if there are other creatures nearby. He will wait for 30 seconds.
[6:46:39 PM] Mike: The cave itself is natural, and old – old enough that time and nature have reclaimed it, it seems. You can detect the faintest hint, not of an object per se from it, but of an object-that-was.
This tomb is an object that was, but no longer is.
[6:48:12 PM] Mike: As for other creatures… You push your sense further. I don’t need a roll, but tell me – what’s your Focus or Perception like? The higher of the two, please.
[6:48:24 PM] DNA: Focus is higher, and at 6d6+2.
[6:52:25 PM] Mike: The cave may be an object-that-was, but like any corpse, other things may live inside it. You push your senses further, into the cave – perhaps taking a step, then another, unconsciously. And you can sense other objects-that-were, and objects that hibernate, left so long without sentient contact that they have dried up and gone to sleep, neither awake-and-aware nor decayed and gone. But you can sense the faintest hint of another presence, too – not an object, but more like a Pokemon, watching in the night with curiosity.
[6:54:45 PM] DNA: Hope’s eyes narrowed, only just. He’d expected the tomb to be bereft of life, and yet there was something there. He steps into the tomb, only a few steps, and waits, as if expecting the other creature to make a move.
[6:55:33 PM] Mike: No movement happens. Are you shirning light into the tomb-cave, or leaving it dark?
[6:55:49 PM] DNA: Nothing beyond Hope’s natural glow about him, no.
[6:58:16 PM] Mike: Even that faint light might reveal a few things. The cavern is naturaly-hewn, a large pocket of air in the mountainside. The walls have faint markings on them. Along the ground, near the walls, are urns – the same kind that the Crucibelle occupied, but more heavily scoured by sand and wind and time.
[6:59:09 PM] Mike: The floor is vaguely concave, just a bit. In the middle of the cavern floor, you can see a stain, darker than the stone surrounding it, seemingly absorbing your light and refusing to reflect it back.
[7:01:09 PM] DNA: Hope’s gaze turns about the room, but then settles on the patch of darkness, noticing its strange behavior. He then stares right at it, with his burning white eyes, and utters a single word: “Well?”
[7:03:14 PM] Mike: The concept of movement in the dark; though nothing physical actually shifts, you can sense the motion of the air, the idea of a head-tilt. That curiosity has increased just a hair. But it comes on a mental level, and from all around you – not only the patch of darkness, but the entire cavern, is… owned? Encompassed? By this force.
However, it does not speak or reach out or react further… yet, at least.
[7:05:15 PM] DNA: Hope takes a seat on the ground, and sits cross-legged, his eyes still locked on the dark patch. If he does not hear anything right away, either auditory or mental, he will close his eyes and wait.
[7:10:07 PM] Mike: While your eyes are open… nothing. The wind mewls softly at the mouth of the cave, and the weight of the things-that-were rests in the still air of the cavern.
When your eyes close, and you begin to meditate… then, the presence moves. It is not aggressive, but it is predatory. Your mind’s ear can hear the faintest padding, a cat-like tread upon the stone. You imagine a single finger, moving towards your back, to trace a figure – and then holding, just above your skin, before pulling away from your light.
The figure continues pacing around you, like a predator… but not a hungry predator. Like a curious one, like the Meowth who has found a Rattata, and circles it, simply enjoying the act of watching. You can sense it gently prodding at your mind, just the surface level, attempting to read you like a book – one left open on the table, not touching the pages, just seeing what was left to be seen.
[7:12:51 PM] DNA: <hope> “A tomb is a symbol of rest and the afterlife, of silence and departure from the land of the living. Those interred here are freed from mortal bonds, and left undisturbed by the hand of man.
And yet you are here, whoever or whatever you are. What drive causes you to take residence among the departed?”
[7:13:03 PM] DNA: He said all this without opening his eyes once, and without moving. Clearly, he was waiting.
[7:17:12 PM] Mike: The presence pauses in its pacing. It leans in, and it whispers.
“Wherever my handiwork is,
so am I.
Whenever your body is beseiged,
I am empowered.
Whatever sickness transpires,
I am made whole.
However you are poisoned,
I am enriched.
And whoever poisons food and drink, defiles water and air,
spreads my dominion.
This is my temple, consecrated in my unspoken name,
given me unknown by supplicants ignorant."
[7:18:36 PM] Mike: “And yet, you are here. A healer without patients, a body without illness, a mind without need for swift and silent vengeance.” A smirk – the flash of white teeth, the canines sharp, but the smile not all edge and malice. “What drive causes you to take residence among the departed?”
[7:21:15 PM] DNA: Hope seems to pay no mind to the counter jab. He seemed as if he expected it.
“I supposed it would be quiet here, as tombs normally are. It appears I was mistaken.” He stood up, but without opening his eyes. “Therefore, I shall be on my way, for a sanctuary of true calm.”
[7:24:40 PM] Mike: “You have treated my subjects with respect, healer. We are at odds, but we are not enemies.” A shrug, and then the presence begins to pad away. “You may have your secrets. I will uncover them eventually, if they should prove of interest at all.”
[7:25:32 PM] Mike: “Fair thee well, healer. Perhaps someday, you will pray to me. Pray – and I will answer.” A gentle chuckle, as the presence fades into the darkness, away from your mind.
Moments pass. The cave is quiet, and now without presence, though you can sense that the presence’s ownership of the place remains.
[7:27:01 PM] DNA: Hope says nothing. A few thoughts ran fleetingly across the surface, but they quickly dissipated. As promised, he would leave the tomb and find another place nearby to meditate. He steps outside, looks around for something like a grove or other secluded area, and ponders.
(I wonder what that urn would think of her tomb being now inhabited,) he thinks, in passing.
[7:28:26 PM] Mike: (( Would you like me to continue? Or would you like to pause it there? I can see this either-which-way, is why I ask. ))
[7:28:37 PM] DNA: Continue.
[7:29:48 PM] DNA: My first instinct is the Crucibelle is up late, but I’d have no idea.
[7:29:55 PM] DNA: Failing that I’d just find a quieter place to meditate.
[7:31:23 PM] Mike: Hrm. I’m not even sure if slime molds have a concept of sleeping! But she would also be in the Warriork camp, which is likely not quiet, given their sleeping and drinking – so having a quiet moment with her would be a question of itself.
[7:31:54 PM] Mike: However, I can also offer you: a vew to the west, to where your path will lead you on the morrow.
[7:32:08 PM] Mike: Or, further up, perhaps something a little snowier.
[7:32:30 PM] DNA: I was going to say a view to the west, but a quick excursion further up the mountain? You tempt me. I’ll take it!
[7:33:18 PM] Mike: (( Getting inspired my my most recent Zelda adventure~ ))
[7:34:17 PM] Mike: * The cavern was not at the summit of this mountain. Rather, that lays further up – where a thin dusting of snow holds sway. The air is officially cold, but the summit’s evergreen trees help buffer against the wind, making it much more still and quiet than it would otherwise be.
[7:34:50 PM] Mike: The snow is but an inch or two thick, crunchy and fresh. These first snows have not yet reached the lower altitudes, where sane humans and warm-blooded Pokemon reign.
[7:35:17 PM] Mike: The air is crisper, cleaner, and even the quietness seems louder. The sky is open and clear, and through the trees, you can see the stars.
[7:37:00 PM] DNA: Whatever passed for a smirk on Hope’s mask was just barely perceptive. He didn’t need to sit down cross-legged to meditate here; he only need look up at the beautiful night sky. He finds a small enclosure sheltering from wind, but from where the sky is still cleanly visible.
(It’s…it’s stunning.) He doesn’t even seem to be affected by the cold. His eyes are just fixed on the stars – and, if visible, the moon.
[7:39:06 PM] Mike: The moon is out, not quite full, but brilliant all its own. You feel as if you could see all the way to the end of the universe here, that every shimmer in a dot of light is a Deoxys or Rayquaza passing in front of the stars.
A streak of light crosses the sky, thin and quick – a falling star, from east to west. It falls low on the horizon, cutting a mark across the sky, quiet as a surgeon and quick as a swordsman.
[7:41:41 PM] DNA: (A…shooting star.) His mind is momentarily distracted by the thought of somebody, but he quickly shakes it off as he stares upward. (One of these days you’re going to have to tell her. Perhaps when we’ve stopped running. But for now… we cast our eyes heavenward.)
[7:43:08 PM] Mike: (( The problem with quiet spaces is, they may not have Pokemon to disturb you. ))
[7:43:49 PM] DNA: (And if that’s the case, then so it is. I’ll still sense to see if there’s anything or anyone nearby.)
[7:46:35 PM] Mike: The trees and the rocks are all natural; a realm of existence untouchable to you and your senses. But- another object-that-was rests here, beneath a stone, tucked under a single root of a tree, across the way from you.
You can sense its shape: a doll, vaguely humanoid. It is like many of the urns in the cavern below; neither active, nor entirely decayed; merely hibernating, conserving its thing-ness.
[7:47:58 PM] DNA: Hope’s eyes don’t move, but he can sense it. In contrast to the encounter before, he decides a different tact. Again he says 1 word, but it’s different, and reaching out only to objects: (Hello?)
[7:51:40 PM] Mike: A stirring, uncurling. It reaches out – its mind is primtiive and slow to work. (Momma?)
[7:52:19 PM] DNA: (No, I’m not a mother.) A beat. (Wait, where are you?)
[7:53:53 PM] Mike: (Momma, it’s dark.)
[7:46 PM] Mike:
<<< beneath a stone, tucked under a single root of a tree, across the way from you.
[7:54:50 PM] DNA: He doesn’t wait to correct the doll again. He moves quickly to the stone and removes it, to observe who- or what-ever is underneath it.
[7:57:27 PM] Mike: It is the simplest possible object – bundles of sticks, tied together with a basic rope, to form a bare-bones doll. Two legs, two arms, and a head, topped with an ancient pinecone. The pinecone-head was carved, and some work was put into it – the seed’s pointed bits remain as ‘hair’ in the back, but the face is plucked free of them, with a primitive set of eyes and a line for a mouth.
The object is so old as to have ossified. What were once flammable twigs are now petrified wood.
[7:57:49 PM] Mike: (Momma!) The doll is glad to see you, to be held again. This was its purpose.
[7:58:18 PM] DNA: (As I stated, I’m not your mother; however, who put you here?)
[7:58:42 PM] DNA: Rather than standing up, he sits down cross-legged, holding the doll gingerly with both hands, as if letting it go might cause it to break.
[8:00:48 PM] Mike: In fairness: It might.
(Momma’s momma put me here. She was sad. She put me here so she wouldn’t be sad.)
[8:01:44 PM] DNA: (Who was your original owner? Was it a young girl? Perhaps granted you as a present?)
[8:04:32 PM] DNA: also is it okay to say that I’m actually really intrigued with where this is going?
[8:04:51 PM] Mike: (Momma was my momma.) The doll awakens a little more, and begins to remember aloud. (I was her baby. Momma’s papa gave her to me at the harvest-time.) The doll adopts an imitation of a gruff, but caring, masculine voice. (When the Mandibuzz caw or the Abomasnow rumble, hold your baby close, and keep her safe – just as I keep you safe.) The imitation ends. (That’s my first memory ever.)
[8:05:40 PM] Mike: (( I’m glad. :3 ))
[8:06:39 PM] DNA: Hope’s left hand twitches almost imperceptibly, as if recalling something unpleasant. (Your mother…What was her name? How long were you two together? Why were you separated?) He felt a quiet dread in whatever answers he would get…but he had to ask them.
[8:08:30 PM] Mike: (Momma’s name was Namhu. I was hers for two harvests, and I was her favorite, because her papa made me.) The doll pauses at the last question.
[8:08:54 PM] Mike: (…Momma was sick. Her papa said a lot of people were sick.)
[8:10:46 PM] Mike: (When she… when she…) The doll is sad. If wood could cry… (…Momma’s momma couldn’t put momma away. Momma was made into an offering, and the gods took her, and her papa made an urn for her embers. So Momma’s momma took me, and said words, and put me in the ground.)
[8:11:04 PM] Mike: (She was sad. And it made her happier. And making momma’s momma happy would make momma happy.)
[8:11:34 PM] DNA: OOC: Just to confirm, the doll’s owner was cremated? If I’m reading what you said correctly.
[8:11:55 PM] Mike: (( I’m not confirming anything. Not until we’re done, at any rate. ))
[8:12:00 PM] Mike: (( /jerkGM ))
[8:13:11 PM] DNA: You jerk!
[8:13:57 PM] Mike: (( :D ))
[8:15:32 PM] DNA: Hope didn’t move. He didn’t speak. It was almost like he couldn’t, he was so thoroughly shocked. He was just…stuck there, in some sort of trance. If what the doll said was correct, then her owner was… was…
And how long ago? This doll could have been here for years.
(How… How long have you been… in… the ground?) Any calmness and confidence he had before didn’t seem to be present right now.
[8:16:04 PM] Mike: (I fell asleep. A very long time, momma.)
[8:16:25 PM] Mike: (I slept a thousand naptimes. My twigs are stiff.)
[8:18:01 PM] DNA: Hope didn’t even bother (or notice?) to correct the latest momma comment. Rather, he just slowly held it close to his body, and closed his eyes. (…What’s your name?) he asked.
[8:19:16 PM] Mike: (Bau.)
[8:20:14 PM] DNA: (…Bau.) He paused again. (What is your…wish?)
[8:22:06 PM] Mike: (This is it. To be loved and held and cared for. I was made for this.)
[8:22:14 PM] Mike: (Thank you, momma.)
[8:27:20 PM] DNA: Hope said nothing. He couldn’t. How could he? He was overwhelmed – but surprised to be so. His mission, his purpose, was to give light and hope to those who had none, but he didn’t expect that to happen so quietly, and so directly. Bau had latched onto him like a child to a hand, ever trusting, ever hopeful. He couldn’t just deny that.
He simply closed his eyes even tighter and held Bau close to his chest. (I’ll see to it that you never break or are left alone ever again.) Was he crying? He couldn’t tell. How much time was passing, he wasn’t even sure. He didn’t care. Yeah, he’d head back as was custom, but…not now. Not yet. He wanted time alone, with the doll he’d inadvertently saved.
[8:29:44 PM] Mike: Again. Quietly. Nestling into your grip, comforted. (Thank you, momma.)
[8:30:12 PM] DNA: (It’s…Hope. Call me Hope.)
[8:33:16 PM] Mike: No response. The doll is quiescent – not dead, nor hibernating, but dozing, perhaps.