Itzpapalotlilamatecuhtli's page

17 posts. Alias of Sebecloki.


Map of Raam

Jimbli Willit:

About three weeks ago, in the City State of Raam…

It is the second third day of the Month of Breeze, known as Fifthover in the Merchant’s Calendar, immediately following the Five Day Festival of the Cooling Sun, the chief observance of the Season of the Sun Descending, which lies under the zodiac of Hortle the Spider.

Raam, storied city-state of the sorcerer-queen Abalach-Re, 5th Champion of the Warbringer Rajaat, the Orc-Plague, the Grand Vizier of Badna, Kaghan of the Temüjin, the Dark Lady, and the Queen of Shadows, has upon difficult times.

The once-famed mines of the city have run dry, and the fields are now unable to support the metropolis’ burgeoning population.

Chaos is only held at bay by the tyrannical rule of the Grand Vizier, Abalach-Re. On every crowded street-corner, her cruel will is enforced outwardly and covertly by the combined efforts of the Grand Vizier’s street enforcers, the scimitar-wielding manṣabdāri, as well as the assassins known as the kuotagha or hashâshīn, who lurk in the shadows.

Yet, in time, even this shall not be sufficient to avert disaster…

Jimbli enjoys the brief respite from the intense oppression of the midday sun offered by his audience in the House M’ke compound, the chief headquarters of the Raam’s primary merchant house situated precipitously top a steep acropolis near the heart of the teeming cityscape.

It is a sense of limited relief that seems unlikely to last.

Having been dragged unceremoniously to the compound by the ostensible ‘mark’ of his unsuccessful attempt at brigandage, the halfling now faces an uncertain fate.

It is however, considerably less-decided than that of his brothers in the criminal organization known as the Syāmavarṇa Karāroṭa, the “Dark Ring,” who were felled by Adiyta M’ke, the young, and apparently psionically-gifted, scion of the house, who now draws Jimbli hither to whatever awaits at the compound.

The step-sided tell upon which the residences of House M’ke constructed sits in the threatening shadow of Jebel al Hashâshīn, the Mountain of Assassins in the Bedouin desert tongue of the horse lords who conquered this city for the Grand Vizier some millennium or more in the now ill-remembered past.

Moreover, this precipitous rise which offers a scenic vantage to the House M’ke compound is made up of ancient temple ruins from the city’s early days, for the complex is one product of the Grand Vizier’s savage conquest of the city. Though its origins are obscured somewhat by later renovations, the site was originally one of the Mandirā Rāvaṇa, the many temples of the ogre-king Rāvaṇa worshipped by the population of humans or Desi who founded Raam. Both the deity Rāvaṇa and the other yakṣas, the ogre-magi who once rule the native humans, as well as varanas, elves, dwarves, nagas, and others who formed the diverse population of the city, were struck down by Abalach-Re’s conquest. This temple was pulled down by the horse warriors, the Temüjin, and a new structure, an elaborate palace and kārvānsarāy—the latter a way stop for the merchant palace’s many outgoing and returning caravans. It is now known as the Apadāna M’ke, the Palace of M’ke (outside view).

Even given these tribulations, past and present, the halfling finds himself enjoying the shade offered by one of the many audience halls of the M’ke compound (interior view).

This reverie is quickly disrupted by Zahiriddin Babur, chief procurator of House M’ke, speaks in a highl-pitched, enervated voice to Aditya,

”Yes, I do see that you’ve dragged in another brigand, but… what am [i[I[/i] supposed to do with it – a half man of this sort surely won’t be of much use as a beast of burden?”

Zahiriddin’s high turban, egg-shell white and brilliant even in the dissipated rays of the sun which enter the audience chamber, appears in form like the many onion domes of the vast city. It bobs slightly as his features assume a felicitous aspect, seeking Aditya’s response,

The young, hawk-nosed Desi man replies in earnest,

”This one has useful psionic talents – leashed with a control collar, he will serve as an excellent watch dog for our excursion.”

Nodding reflectively, the Chief Procurator then gestures towards two other figures, a pair of muscular muls, fitted with long, open-chested vests and baggy pants. Their twin sabers each mark them as members of the queen’s manṣabdāri, specifically the ‘born eunuchs’ who functions as a special caste of enforcers.

”Very well, young Aditiya, but it will not, I am sure be entirely sufficient. Consider these -- Azam and Hidr are… on retainer from the nobles of House Altantsetseg, the House of the Golden Flower, and favored of the Grand Vizier. They will ensure your safe arrival at the diamond mines of Kalidnay, as well as the other mineral and gem deposits it is hoped this expedition will be able to exploit for the betterment of our fair city’s current sorry fortunes.”

The two muls betray nothing but an amused grimace, and the collection of some dozen other M’ke functionaries gathered in their shadow, at the back of the audience hall similarly remain silent as Zahiriddin dismisses them….

Three days ago… approaching the mountain in which rest the diamond mines of Kalidnay…

The past weeks have largely passes without event, the small caravan wending its way gradually south through the often formless expanses of the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes.

That is until three nights past when, JImbli is awakened by the tortured screams of his compatriots.

The bruised and bloodied bodies of several House M’ke operatives are strewn upon the sand at the feet of the creatures that have replaced the two mul manṣabdāri of House Altantsetseg on loan to the M’ke expedition. In their place are two reptilian creatures who quickly silence the screams of the surviving caravan members.

”Know that we are the Second Born of the Scale, servants of Great Dregoth, the Sleeping King of the City of Silt, and that your lives have been taken in hand by the power of the Lord of Ten Thousand Corpses. The rule of the Grand Vizier draws to a close as our lord awakens to avenge his ancient defeat, and you shall play a small part in putting right that ancient injustice. The ruins of Kalidnay have stirred, and opened the way to a vast power which our lord must possess to triumph over his betrayers. You shall all have the honor of serving as offerings to the keepers of the mines, so that we may pass below and seek the treasure desired by the Sleeping King.”

The reptilian creature continues to speak in a threatening tone,

[b]”Know that there is no escape, and no other path open, you who have been chosen.”

The remaining days are a blur, the drugs and magics administered by the mysterious creatures incapacitate JImbli and his compatriots.

Fevered memories alone remain, dim recollections of pale-skinned creatures and their curious speech as his assailants deliver their offerings to those who now rule the ancient mines.

And here, too, you may have this one as well."

The intellect devouerer, controlling the fallen ritualist, pushes another prisoner, a halfling, into the midst of the convocation,

Amunet-Ra wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Amunet-Ra feels the disquieting, squamous embrace of one of the white-skinned creatures that now rules the mines roughly direct her shoulders. Its serrated black nails dig slightly into her shoulders, forcibly moving her forward, out of the shadow of the guard towers that protect the cliff-bound fortress overlooking the mine's abyssal central shaft.

The elf's eyes begin to assume their ordinary focus with difficulty, the potent drugs administered by her captors still exerting a powerful grasp upon her half awakened consciousness.

As the overhanging shadows of the watchtower recede, the source of the recent tumult becomes slightly more apparent. The tremendous crash that just now shook the entire complex with a seismic force was doubtless initiated by the immense levitating platform which appears to have crashed into the ritual grounds set before the fort's main gates. Several of the white-skinned creatures were pulverized in the attack, the distended limbs erupted by the impact in an impossible bloom of mangled joints and rent ligaments.

Two of the creatures, one robed, and one astride a massive horned mount, appear engrossed in negotiations of some sort with another party. The latter consists of a sinuous half-orc, a bald human with a severe expression, a thri-kreen, a stout dwarf female, and halfling Amunet recognizes from her still-blurry recollections of captivity as one of her fellow prisoners in the pale-abominations' deep holding places within the once thriving mines. Finally, another elf, not one of her tribe, and a pair of green-swathed humans stand at attention with the rest as, apparently, some kind of tense negotiations are being conducted with the two representatives of the white-skinned creatures, which the Serpentsingers have named the 'bloodless' or 'moon children'.

As she is pushed into the unfolding scene, a sinister voice erupts in her mind,

"Here, you wanted the other offerings -- this female also is of no use to these minds of the minds of the Thinking Towers, nor to the Master of the Aerie, and you may have her, and take her from this place."

Kethe Cinderfell wrote:

"Taalik Amun." Kethe says, rolling the name around on her tongue. "You are free. I am Kethe, my companions can introduce themselves as we..." She stops as a sudden thought strikes her. "We are venturing into the fortress from which you have emerged. No doubt you have less than fond memories of that place, but if there is anything that you can tell us of it, or better yet, if you can accompany us inside, that would be very helpful. We have negotiated an... alliance of sorts with the ones who... Hm, as a matter of fact I am not entirely certain of the relationship here. Give me a moment, please."

Attuning her mind towards the entity or entities who had been speaking in their minds, the dwarf thinks. This captive, was he being sacrificed by your order, or with your blessing? What was the purpose of this ritual? And what might we call you?

"The Master brought to the domain of these minds of the Thinking Towers the three fire serpents who dwell in the caves on the far side of the chasm. They are the children of Ymeri, the Empress of the Blood Scales and the Queen of the Fires, who holds court in the Elemental Stronghold of Flame."

"Several of the minds of the Thinking Towers resisted him when he emerged from the Uttermost Depths to open the gates of the Aerie, and these he either destroyed or subjugated. Those like this mind of the minds of the Thinking Towers who immediately acknowledged his power and accepted the boon which he offered where endowed with the mysteries of the Blood Queen's cult. Indeed this mind of the minds of the Thinking Towers, which is called Itzpapalotlilamatecuhtli-Aghathlelb was made the Hem-Netjer-Tepi of Ymeri, the Queen of Fire Drakes."

"Merchant, you may observe my high honor in the child of Ymeri who accompanies me."

As the intellect devourer conveys this information, a small scaled creature, seemingly a miniature species of the great fire drakes, manifests.

"Pef-aa-khons-Phrahiunamif-Pa-du-pthah, the Sightblinder, the Flicker in the Eye of Ymeri, has been bestowed as a blessing of the Queen of Fires upon Itzpapalotlilamatecuhtli-Aghathlelb. He is a sign of Her Favor and that of the crimson benediction Her Hand, the Master of the Aerie."

"The Master was displeased with the impertinence of our servants, the Hwt-Ka-Ptah, in opening the doors of the mines to the servants of Dregoth. He punished the guilty among the Hwt-Ka-Ptah, and determined to dispose of this one as an offering to Ymeri of the Fires. In his absence, we shall offer another of our mortal cattle, for though the children of Ymeri need not eat this one, eat they must."

"Listen to me, merchants, this is what you must do. You must speak with the Master -- it is he who has strode the lonely , memory-haunted climes of the Uttermost Depths, which extend far beneath this long-dead fire-mount. He came to us from these depths, and opened and closed the gates of the Aerie."

"It is he who can guide you to the unspeakable nesting-places of the serpent-spiders, and steer your course aright in the lightless dark of the Uttermost Depths. I can assure you, merchants, that without his guidance, you will wander aimlessly in the dark, and fall prey to the serpent-spiders or other terrors which stalk the shadow-choked tunnels beneath Kalidnay's ruins."

"Here is what these minds of the minds of the Thinking Towers and you merchants must do -- these minds of the minds of the Thinking Towers will guide your party to the gates of the Aerie, and you will commune with the Master in the Heart. Here, he will guide you and offer your party greater powers with which to banish and slay the serpent-spiders."

"You see, you merchants must follow these minds of the minds of the Thinking Towers, and do what we have said."

Malkaer Illuvinar wrote:
When you day that they corrupt your servants, how so? Is this a corruption of the heart, where they have stolen loyalty from you? Or is this a more insidious corruption where they have made monsters out of your retainers?

"The serpent-spiders are in kind many, and one of them is an emissary of their darkness. This caste, which the minds of the Thinking Towers have named as "Proselytes," draw the bodies, minds, and souls of others to their creed -- the song of the Serpent-Fiend. They offer great power to those who pledge themselves to the darkness which, the Proselytes claim, first gave birth to the serpent-spiders. They raise dark orbs similar to those which comprise the Great Orrery, and twist the bodies of our good servants, making them in form greater, and more terrible. Their minds, as well, are claimed by the emissaries of this dark creed, and they thereafter serve faithfully their new masters, even marching against their former masters within the Thinking Towers."

Rokan the Ascetic wrote:

Rokan's curiosity starts to get to him as the details continue to pour into his mind, and releases a bit of his hostility.

What is to be gained by the minds of the Thinking Towers in awakening Kalid-Ma? Do they seek alliance or to subjugate her and claim her power?

Of what do you speak, foolish man child? Are you no wiser than you chintinous companion? We of the Thinking Towers did not awaken Kalid-Ma from her slumber, nor would we -- no, it is the serpent-spiders who these minds believe to have done this. Indeed, her restlessness commenced after their arrival in the deeps astride the Womb of Midnight, from whence arise the many obsidian orbs which comprise the workings of the Great Orrery and the Sphere Wall."

"No, indeed, chitinous one, you are most wrong in your supposition in this matter, indeed most egregiously so. The scaled ones of which this mind of the minds of the Thinking Towers has been speaking, and with which our servants treated most presumptuously without the explicit endorsement of the Master of the Aerie, are not natives of the ruins above. Such foolishness! Do your antennae connect to a functioning brain? They are travelers, inhabitants of the City by the Silt Sea, which the Tablelanders refer to as Giustenal. Do you see a Sea of Silt beside the ruins of Kalidnay? This once great city is in the midst of the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes, far, far from the Sea of Silt and the ruins of Giustenal from which these scaled ones traveled in service to their master, the forgotten sorcerer-king Dregoth. These scaled ones are not the serpent-spiders."

"The latter flooded into the tunnels deep beneath Kalidnay within recent memory, long after the arrival of the Master of the Aerie. This mind and many other of the minds of the Thinking Towers believe that it is they who have stirred Kalid-Ma from her slumber by reawakening the pylon known as the Mother of Talons in the Temple of the Great Mother, which rests at the heart of the ruins of this once great city of men. The serpent-spiders have begun to call new powers and servants to themselves from the gates created by the Great Orrery. They have seized the dark heart of the deep caverns which lie beneath these ruins, which once were the domain of the terrible servants of the Stoneburners. They are great beasts, immense serpents which crawl with spider legs. Their greatest kinds are of formidable dimensions, large as a fortress, greater than even the fire drake of the Master of the Master of the Aerie. They have also corrupted many of our good servants, for which cause our minds join in hating them with a great and burning hate."

Kethe Cinderfell wrote:

Kethe frowns a the discussion taking place and some of the others' willingness to walk into the fortress of this unknown entity. A truce was acceptable under the circumstances, but surely this was rash.

"A trader of souls? Who wishes to trade with us? We do not deal in souls, ours or otherwise. And speaking of souls, what of the prisoner? Will you allow him to go free? It was mainly for his sake that our party attacked, for clearly he was to be a sacrifice of some sorts and we do not condone such things. And who are the creatures who were holding him prisoner?"

"You need not trade in souls. This minds of the minds of the Thinking Towers intended only to express that you and the Master share a common profession, and thus, perhaps, a shared perspective from which some variety of rapport, and even advantageous alignment, might be facilitated. "

"As to the that one, he is of little import to the Master. For unbeknownst to the Master, who was communing in the Heart of the Aerie with its ancient spirits, our servants unwisely bargained with the scaled ones from City by the Silt Sea, and offered them an open way into the domain of the once-slumbering sorcerer-queen. The Master was displeased with their hubris, and punished several severely for their error in this decision."

"The Master's entrance to the Aerie was already secured by one of the souls in his possession. This one adds nothing upon the Master's mastery of the opening and closing of the gate to the Heart. You may take him."

"You, dwarf, are curious, and one of the kind that can open and close the gates of the Aerie. The Dawn Chariot was a product of the same ancient people, who dwelt here long before the subjects of the sorcerer-queen. Though know that, you, too, just as this one, will add nothing upon the Master's opening and closing of the gates of the Heart, only that this fact has not escaped the minds of these minds of the Thinking Towers."

We seem to have perhaps lost Taalik; I've now woven him into the story, so I think I'll have to bot him if his player doesn't show up soon *** hint hint hint ****

Malkaer Illuvinar wrote:
We will see. Now that we have established that hostilities will be a needless drain for all parties concerned, will you allow us safe passage?

The voice turns its attention to the elf, an alteration of focus that can somehow be mentally perceived by those assembled on the fortress cliff,

"We shall guide you to the gates of the Aerie, young windrunner, and there you may seek the audience of the Master, who doubtless shall wish to treat with those such as yourselves."

Pak'cha wrote:

"The Merchant House has no city-state, its tentacles in all city states".

"An Outsider then".

Pak pauses, could it be that the trouble stirred is by this figure and not another from their own Burnt World?

"Indeed, the Master of the Aerie is not a native of this world, unlike our servants, whose bodies we have now reawakened, nor like ourselves, the masters of the Thinking Towers. He is from afar, a city of metal which sits beneath a smoldering sky within the elemental strongholds on the Inner Planes."

The disembodied voice replies with a tone of evident surprise,

"No masters? You, then, are masters? Who are your slaves?"

However, it appears to quickly recover its composure, and then directs a clarifying inquiry at the thri-kreen,

"From what city-state does this merchant house derive?"

In response to Pak'cha's own question, it offers the following:

"The Master of the Aerie has not given us his name. He descended upon our domain from a portal which he opened deep within these mines. He hails from a city on the Plane of Fire, where, he has informed us, he was a broker of souls for the rulers of the city. He told us that a bad business deal caused him to leave the city."

"He came here and has opened the door of the Aerie, which previously none had attained. His power is even beyond our ken, and so we, the rulers of Itezchuacan the Thinking Towers, have placed our resources and our good servants at his disposal."

"He is a skillful trader and will wish to bargain with you."

"NOT servants of the serpent-spiders? Who, then, are your masters?"

"You are traders? The Aerie's Master is also a merchant far from home. He is a great purveyor of souls, there is none his equal. You share a discipline, and he is your natural ally."

The thought-voice of the abomination now assumes a more hesitant tone, as if this answer from the elf were unexpected,

"Not servants of the serpent-spiders? Not soldiers of their war against the Aerie?"

It seems as if its probing retreats for a brief moment for it to recollect its powers, and determine a new course forward in the unfolding detente,

"Then why have you trespassed these sacred stones, and cut down our good ministers? Who are you then, and how have you come into the domain of the Master?"

Rokan the Ascetic wrote:

Mine is more caution than ire. These creatures can put up the appearance of cooperation and lull our guard. Enter this with your eyes open, leaving no room for good faith on their part.

Rokan twitches nervously at the psionic creatures they’re letting be, watching carefully for a physical or psychic ambush.

Very well...

Their invisibility is still functioning, along with their protective shields -- all anyone is hearing is their telepathy, neither Rokan nor anyone else can see them.

"Yes, excellent thoughts. Tell, one of you, then, to me, this one mind of Itezchuacan the Thinking Towers, how the serpent-spiders have possessed you, so that the Master of the Aerie may know of the bonds his might must undo."

Rokan the Ascetic wrote:

Rokan scans with his mind's eye to see if he can tell where the voice is coming from.

manifest detect psionics
[dice=knowledge (psionics)]1d20+12

It's probably one of the creatures that turn these bodies into puppets. Don't listen to them! Misra, do you know where Slavathras has slinked away to?

"No! Listen slaves of the serpent-spiders, the Aerie's master may free you. His treasures are greater than those of your masters. You should parlay with we who speak for the master who are before you."

A disembodied voice pounds into the heads of all,

"Slaves of the serpent-spiders, for your own heads, you must parlay! The Aerie's master is generous and will free you from your bondage. You should fight his servants no longer, and speak with him, face to face, in the heart."

"The serpent-spiders have sent their slave against us brethren. They have failed to seize the Aerie from below, and now they attempt a surface siege."

The voice then seems to address House Vordon's representatives,

"Know, slaves of the serpent-spiders, that the power of the Master of the Aerie shall annihilate those who possess the gall to disrupt the sacred worship of Ymeri the Queen of the Fires."