Zarzanna's page

22 posts. Alias of stormraven.


Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Sadly, I know you are right. It is only because they are insecure with themselves that they do not see your inner beauty radiate through. They see an appearance that frightens them and they cannot look beyond it and see who you really are. For this, I am truly sorry. I hope that some day we will all mature enough to see the error of our ways and be in a position to be able to make amends with you."

Zarzanna smiles at this, not unkindly. "Inner beauty? I'm a crone to the bone, child. But I thank you for the kind words."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Tell me, Zarzanna, if you were invited to come back to the village to stay, would you accept such an offer?"

The hag shakes her head. "I'm a creature of wood and wild, bog, thicket and bramble. Here is where I belong... But Burlap wouldn't mind bein' able to visit town with less doors shut to us. He's a bit of a chin-wag that rat is!" She chuckles and pokes the rat with her toe. Burlap harumphs at the old woman. Disconcertingly, he seems to understand exactly what she said.

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Until we meet again, Fare well!"

"Go with the Gods, child... and keep a wary eye on the Blood Moon!"

Lyrica leaves the strange old woman and the even stranger surroundings of the cave and closes the door. She rejoins the gentlemen waiting outside.

OK, guys, you mentioned a possible quick return to Dies Drear before heading out to the Teeth. You'll be swinging past town to get to the Teeth in any event so that will present no problems. We can either handwaive that part - meaning you just have to let me know in an OOC post what you'd like to accomplish there - or we can RP it, if you want to interact with anyone specifically.

After that, it is off to the Teeth unless you've got another plan. In that event, I'd like to know your:
1. Marching Order (single file, two across, and open field configurations)
2. Schedule - Hike from 8AM to Dusk, make camp, set watches and go to sleep by 9PM, etc.
3. Fire Prep - Build a fire and each watchman tends it during their shift, no fire, etc.
3. Watch Order - I'll divvy up the hours evenly but I need to know who is on first, second, any overlap, etc.

Aerik Wynn wrote:
"Thank you for your kindness. I share your preference for solitude and nature, but times are dark. Especially if the prophecy you speak is true. Should you want to come to town, we can make sure you have a place."

The crone nods, "Kindly offered... And if'n the days become black as pitch, I could say 'yes'. 'Til then, may the wilds guide your steps."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Zarzanna, I admit that my mother warned me about you. I admit that I have always been nervous around you, but I also admit that I really do not know you at all. Although I am young, I do know that it is very easy to be critical of another when you do not know them. I also know when you isolate yourself out here in the woods, people become suspicious and perhaps even frightened of you. When people live with fear, especially children, they can be unkind and do things to harm others both with unkind words, and even with the throwing of mud. It is this fear and ignorance that causes parents to become extra protective of their children. Certainly you must realize that nobody ever wants anything ill to happen to their children?! I just don't believe they realized what pain they were causing you."

Zarzanna raises a flinty eyebrow - both surprised and slightly pleased, it seems. "The truth will out, eh? Good. At least you show spine; you'll need it. And some of what you say rings true, as far as it goes. But let me give you an old woman's wisdom. Don't be laying all the blame on fear of the unknown. You think if I was pretty as you, they'd be slinging mud and hard words behind my back? Not on your life!" She cackles and does a passable imitation of the gossips in town "They'd be talking about the pretty, lonely sorceress what must have got her heart broke by a cruel man." She chortles again and returns to her raspy voice. "No, they fear this face, these hands, this life, this rat, and most of all this." She taps the cauldron with her stick. The hag looks to see if her words are sinking in before she continues. She leans conspiratorially toward Lyrica. The eyes - black and dead white - regarding the young woman candidly. She says quietly, "And they'd be right to fear what I can do if I put a mind to it."

The crone sits back, losing her sudden earnestness. "And some of them just plain hate. I've seen that all my days. They hate what's different, what don't fit into their small minds, and what don't bend to their ways. And they pass it along like mother's milk to their bairn." She pokes the fire for a moment, condensing her thoughts.

"Don't fret over what injustices they done and what pain they may have brung to my doorstep. What's done is done. You be lookin' towards what injustices they will do. Because if things get bad enough in Drear, someone, one of those good and kindly folks you think are the salt of the earth... They're gonna look to find a cause for this evil and they'll be lookin' to me first thing. Don't need to be an Oracle to see that. That's got the bloody stamp of history on it. And if those good folks come bringing death to my doorstep... that's what they'll get."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
Lyrica pauses for a moment as she gathers her thoughts. "Zarzanna, I feel as if I have offended you by simply being here. I am sorry if I got off on the wrong foot. I am also sorry if we have intruded upon your solitude. Truly, we are grateful for all that you have told us."

The hag grunts in amusement, "Girl, I'm not a housewife that's gonna shoo you nice from the door. If I wanted you gone... I'd a sent you packing."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"The one question that I still have for you is about my mother. She is now lost to me, and I am desperately missing her. She has set an example and lived a life that I have aspired to all of my life. I just want to know if you have something to tell me about her. Did any of the Strom family come and see you over the years? Were they ever unkind to you?

The crone chews her words, "What I know of your ma is the hard looks she gave me and the words that others said she said. As for unkindnesses, I don't count'em. It'd take up too much of my day." She lets out a bubbling chuckle.

"As to the other matter... I've had a dealin' with one in your family. I ain't saying who, when, or what it was about. A confidence is a confidence. There are questions you don't want to know the answer to."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
Lyrica recognizes that the hag is obviously lying, but she does not know why and she still wants to be able to work with her. Thus, Lyrica continues to genuinely and persistently make an effort to make a connection with Zarzanna. She decides to approach the subject from another angle.

Not sure if you are going for Lyrica's reaction or a statement of fact here but - in case it is the latter - Zarzanna isn't lying. She was answering your exact questions honestly and you detect no falsehood in her assertion that someone from your family was a client. Although, based on the initial Q&A, it clearly wasn't Delanor.

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Dear Zarzanna, I imagine you know just about everybody in the Dies Drear. Did you grow up here in the village? I imagine you have gained a great deal of wisdom over the years in watching the people of our town interact with each other. Do you think that children all grow up being just like their parents, or is this some other factor involved that makes them each unique?"

As the men file out of the cave, the chamber takes on a different air - two strong women equally determined: one fair and young; the other ugly and ancient; one soft and pleasant; the other hard as bone and bitter.

Zarzanna watches the Paladin as if her every word might contain a dagger. "First I'm a lady, now I'm a dear." She chuckles, "I wonder if I'm moving into or out of your affections?" She picks up another stick from the bench, swirls it in the cauldron, and takes a taste. Her face scrunches to become even more prunish. "Fah! TERRIBLE... it's almost ready! What were you saying now, young Strom? Ah... the village. You are near on 20, eh? In that time, you've seen me little, eh? Do you fancy I was once a pretty Miss like you with a beau and prospects?" She shakes her head ruefully and sits on the bench, stroking Burlap with a dirty foot. "No, young Strom, I didn't grow to womanhood in Drear and I know scant few people there. And the less I know of 'em the more I like it. What I get from most is averted eyes when I don't get shunned. And when you Drear-folk are feelin' your oats, why I get little girls throwing mud at me and callin' names."

"Havin' none, I can't say about children and their parents. But I hear the apple don't fall far from the tree... and my experience has been that is oft so."

Marcus Braun wrote:

"I don't put much faith in magic or prophecies and the like, but you spoke plainly and true, so I thank you for that. I hope that we are the people in your legend, so we can set things right. And while you didn't ask for payment, honest counsel is worth gold. So if you ever have a tree needs felling, you send for me. Thank you again."

Marcus looks Zarzanna in the eyes, the good and bad, while extending his hand for a handshake.

The hag looks oddly at his offered hand, like it's something unfamiliar. Her glance shifts back and forth between his hand and face for a time, as if trying to divine if he'll retract the gesture at the last moment. She wipes her knobby, arthritic hand on her skirt to clean it and tentatively grasps his hand. For a withered crone, she has a decent grip. "For my part, I hope this ain't the time of the prophecy and you find nothin' more mysterious than bird-droppings at the Teeth. But if I'm wrong..." She retains his hand while twisting around to inspect her littered shelves. She paws through them one-handed, knocking down all sorts of odd bits onto the bench below. She comes up with her prize - three tiny waxed leather pouches strung off a single leather thong like a string of pearls. She smiles and puts them in Marcus' hands.

"If you come to trouble, smear these on any wound and it'll heal you right up. Or you can swallow'em, but they taste like sh!t. If you need more, I'll trade ya something for them. Can't expect an old lady to go around showing no profit, can ya? Heh heh heeeeeee."

(3) CLW potions @ 1d8+3 healing.
They can be carried separately or together... so divvy them out as you like.

Jak Howell wrote:
Jak stops and waits as Marcus thanks the old woman. Once finished, Jak dips his head as well, "Agreed. Thanks. And I get the feeling a woman as resourceful as yourself doesn't find herself in this situation often, but if you ever need anything from town or down-valley, please feel free to call on me."

The hag gives Jak a once-over look with her black eye... and smiles slightly. "Maybe there's more of your ma in you than I first reck'd, young Howell. Time will tell. You come back some time and we'll spin tales of your mother. I miss her company."

Zarzanna gets a hard and set look on her sour face, "There's no need to be leaving, lest you're ready to go about your business. I've said all I will. The Bonesetter there don't talk about his visitors and neither do I." The implication is clear and hangs in the air... at some point a Strom had business with the hag.

Zarzanna mutters to herself and jabs at the fire with her stick, not liking the Paladin's persistence. Sensing his mistress' troubled mood, the rat wakes with a snort and looks up. The hag eyes the rodent and addresses him quietly, "I know, I know. She's not like to let it go, is she?" She tosses the remnants of the stick in the fire and scowls at the young woman. Her answer is very cautious, "I never had cause to talk with your mother and I wasn't 'bout to say you was like her."

Lyrica Only:
Zarzarra isn't lying. But it's clear she is being very specific in what she says. You have the feeling that she isn't is leaving much deliberately unsaid.

Bluff v DC:21: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"How do you know my mother, Zarzanna? Have you ever spoken with her before?"

The hag gets up to poke at the fire and rolls the large rat over as his wiry hairs begin to smoke. "So, you're to go up the mountain then... to the Teeth?"

Marcus Braun wrote:
"Hell, I'm grateful for the news--much easier to break teeth than, er, teats, I suspect.

The hag cracks a wide semi-toothed grin and cackles in delight.

Jak Howell wrote:
"I'm not saying the prophecy isn't true," Jak adds to the conversation, though his tone clearly conveys his skepticism. "Maybe the prophecy applies to us. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's a load of worm-filled mule squat..."

Zarzanna snorts at this. "Your family I know. In these thoughts, young Howell, you are your father's son, much as young Strom is her..." she cuts the thought off. "Believe what you will. I have offered freely what many would gladly pay to learn. I should have named a price, then you'd listen more carefully. Charity is my undoing. Cheaply bought is cheaply valued."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"...I do not wish to be a vengeful person, I only wish that this evil would stop and that we would save those who are lost."

Zarzanna uses a twig to clean some intractable dirt from between her toes, speaking mildly, "If the Prophecy is true and you are the Wrathful spoken of... then Angarak's Teeth must be broken to set things right. Wishing will not stop this evil."

Marcus Braun wrote:

Marcus sits deep in thought, contemplating the words of the prophecy.

"With these horrors still fresh in our memories, the words seem to tell our story, yes, but I can't say I ever took a prophecy to be the truth, but only to tell people the things they already wanted to believe anyway."

The hag looks sharply at him. "You speak some truth. Many are the prophecies spun by the wicked to beguile others, to part them from their coins or their lives. And many are the gullible who see themselves in every prophecy because they wish it to be so... But some prophecies are true prophecies and to deny that is to sew destruction."

"No prophecy can say all that will befall a man. Only the past, once done, is completely written. True prophecies are the scribbled notes from which the Fated will set their path and have it set for them."

"You must choose your course and see if the prophecy travels the same path. Only then will you know if the prophecy is true and if you are a part of it."

Marcus Braun wrote:
"Where did you hear of these verses in the first place?"

"The Silent Gods Prophecy is very old and all but forgotten now. It comes from the bones of the world... for the world will suffer greatly from it. This is my truth. But some say that the prophecy was given to Arcathon the Seer and he penned it in the First Book of Spheres." She shrugs at the possibility.

Once Burlap is calm, Zarzanna moves to sit down on the bench leaving the massive rat laying by the fire, stretched out and snoring. She stretches out her crusty and calloused feet with a pleasurable sigh. "I will tell you a thing not in the Prophecy but just as true as I believe it to be. Every night, the Blood Moon will rise. On her face, the cursed wound will change. The power of the servants of the Blood Moon will wax and wane with it."

Zarzanna puts her hands up. Using the firelight coming from beneath the cauldron, she creates flickering shadow puppets on the wall - a dark sky with a full moon. With a bit of stick, she mars the moon's face with a hand print. "When the Hand is in the Moon, beware the dead. Their strength is great."

Dropping the stick, she uses a craggy hand to create a snarling wolf's head. "When the Wolf claims the Moon, fear the skinwalkers and shapeshifters."

The hag reorients her fingers and upon the flickering moon appears a set of horns sticking from a shapeless head. "When the Horns entangle the Moon, beware those that come not from our world - demons and devils."

She rests her hands in her lap. "Other shapes there may be, but of these I am certain."

The hag nods at Aerik's assessment but speaks to both the Druid and the Paladin. "It is a hazard to read much into prophecies. But he", she looks to Marcus, "...is full of wrath and has wept at the foot of a funeral pyre. As have you all, I expect. And your cause seems fixed - to destroy Angarak's evil. Would you have found that goal if Drear wasn't touched by tragedy and fate, I wonder? Is that rightly a crucible of loss that sets you on a path of vengeance?"

If Zarzanna is offended by Lyrica's reaction, it doesn't show. She coos to the dog-sized rat and continues to scratch it. Warmed by the Druid's response, her dour face softens some. "Ah! You don't know the Prophecy? Then I will recite what is known of it..." She closes her eyes and chants the words, slow and dolorous.

Prophecy of the Silent Gods

When Angarak's scream mounts the heights
His burning tongue splits wide the sky.
Then blood will stain the face of night
As the Undying learn what it is to die.

To shadow's breath, will the lowly fall...
While the long interred shall rise unbound.
As the wrathful weep beneath the pyre's pall,
In loss’ crucible, a cause is found.

The Gods, in silence, watch and wait
As Angarak’s fangs bleed deep the night.
Breaking teeth, the vengeful sunder fate
Setting crimson wrong to stainless right.

"That is all that is known of the Prophecy, and perhaps that is all there is. But my bones tell me there are more verses."

The hag keeps one hand canted in an odd position... ready to cast a spell perhaps? With the other, she scratches the oversized rat behind the ears. It seems to enjoy the knobby handed contact. Her eyes never leave the Alchemist. "He's a good boy, just not a pretty one. I'd be very upset if harm came to him."

SM v DC:13: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22

The crone sees where Ezekiel's hard glance is going. "No, no... Burlap! Come'ere ya wee love!"

The massive and foul looking rat, 20 pounds of it, shakes free of its statuesque pose and leaps from the bench near Lyrica. It bolts across the floor and slides under the hag's skirts, nearly toppling the old woman. Its red eyes stare out from under the tattered frock. Zarzanna explains, "He's my friend."

The old lady snorts, "Hunh? I wasn't here when it came... but come inside it did. It ruined a batch I was brewing!"

She points her stir-stick at the Ranger. "Then you already walk the path of the Prophecy. You need only follow it and you will succeed... or you'll die, probably, if you are not the ones."

The hag considers the question and fires off a few of her own. "At the funeral, did you grieve? Did you cry? Do you seek vengeance?"

Jak Howell wrote:
A thirty-minute sand hour-glass immediately flips over in Jak's mind. Thirty minutes to be back on the trial before we're subjected to whatever's in that pot, he thinks without letting it show on his face.

:D That RULES.

Jak wrote:
"Over twenty-five dead or disappeared at most recent count. Didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason we could figure as to who or what the mist took..."

The hag blinks twice. Clearly, the figure was higher than she imagined. She looks at all of the heroes, reading the individual losses in their expressions, "That's a heavy toll and a heavy burden."

Jak wrote:
"Another thing happened that I wonder if you could shed any light on. I was down-river when the mist came through. Old Man Ruske's bones stood up and tried to kill me. When they dropped back down, they formed a word before sliding right back down into the river. 'Angarak'." Jak tips his head over towards the druid, "Aerik said he saw a rock formation up-mountain before that was called 'Angarak's Teats', but we don't know anything beyond that. Some simple triangulation shows that it could be near the source of the mist. But we don't know what the rocks are or anything. My ma always said you had more information than people gave you credit for. I was wondering if you knew anything about the Teats or Angarak itself."

The crone almost smiles and lets out a subdued cackle that turns into a cough. "Not 'Teats'... Teeth. Angarak's Teeth." She taps a broken nail against one of her remaining teeth to demonstrate before turning deadly serious. "I've never seen the Teeth... but I know they're up there. Just like I know the Prophecy, o' course. But Angarak hisself... he's a mystery. Some say he's among the Fallen, a heathen God overthrown. Some say he's a Lord of the Dead - an Elder Vampyr waiting a chance to return. Others call him a Spirit of Evil that plagues the living - immortal. The only thing they all agree on... corruption and evil follow his coming. That's what's said."

Know: History/Legends 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (18) + 12 = 30 BOOM! Clutch rolls...
Know: Planes 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32

Zarzanna takes a stick from the bench, pokes the contents of the cauldron a few times, and scowls. "Half hour, maybe, and it'll be ready." She waves the stick loosely in Jak's direction. "The Mist came. Thin as a ghost it was. Followed the wisdom of the crow, I did. I got out of its way."

"I saw smoke rising from Drear on the dawn. I hoped it was just a fire but there were skulls in it. Bad sign. Were those pyres, then? How many were lost?"

The door creaks open and a wave of alder smoke hits the party. Along with the smell, a fetid reek, it causes some to gag a bit. The tallest have to stoop to enter the home. Zarzanna's place is well and truly a rough-hewn and arched cave, no more than 15' at its widest and stretching straight back into the hillside approximately 30'. At the far back is a wider semi-circular chamber with a stone bench carved out of the wall on three sides. At the furthest extreme is a hearth and cauldron at a low boil. The old woman kicks at the fire and sorts through a messy shelf for ingredients to add to the brew. She pays the heroes little mind as they advance... which is not an easy task.

Walking from the doorway to the back chamber is an obstacle course. They step over and around collections of skins, bones, plants, rocks, and small barrels filled with Gods-know-what. All the while they must brush aside or avoid hanging meats, bunches of drying herbs, and an impressive collection of taxidermied and preserved animals tied to the cave roof in action poses. A seagull in flight stares down at the party, its mouth open to screech.

When they enter the back chamber, they finally see Zarzanna. She is a stooped and bony old woman with a shaggy mane of grey hair and a face so wrinkled, it could pass for a prune. By the firelight, her one good eye glitters black. The other is, as previously seen through the door, a rheumy white thing that seems to stare everywhere and nowhere. Her clothes are threadbare, patched, and dirty. There is a smell of dirt and mold about her... which is fitting because she looks to be about a decade older than dirt.

She leans a flat pan on the flaming logs heating the cauldron and nods a greeting. Her hooked nose and stooped shoulders make the gesture seem vaguely reminiscent of a pale vulture eyeing game. She indicates the bench following the curve of the wall with a knobby-knuckled hand. "Sit. Talk."

Aerik, Ez, and Marcus Only:
You are quite sure that one of the taxidermied animals close to the back chamber - an absolutely huge and dirty wharf rat frozen in a vicious snarl - just blinked.

Stealth 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (1) + 11 = 12

A's Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
E's Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
J's Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
L's Perception: 10
M's Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14