Sunday, February 26, 2012

SESSION 54 "Oh Mother?"

Their chances don't seem to be improving by waiting, and Paddy and Ashley verify that there's no way to get through the portal with a room full of hostiles there, since the opening requires a recitation in old gaelic. After careful consideration, Daniel decides the best course of action is to burn everything.

Once everyone is prepped, Daniel summons up a doozy of an amount of power and literally pulls fire from the stone, slagging the entire room and all the turtlenecks too. Even Sek-Thul seems to have been caught off guard. When the steam and fire fade, no one is left in the room, and Daniel sinks in exhaustion.

Now it's Malek's turn, and as the group gathers around the well, which seems to have withstood the flames, Malek throws up an impressive shield that expands like a bubble, blocking the entrances and then growing dark and opaque, giving Ashley enough time to enact the ritual that will open the portal. Once the words are spoken and blood is spilled into the well, the stone arch glows bright white and the group walks together through the gate.

There is vertigo and unconsciousness.

When they wake, they seem to be on a very pleasant slope of green hillside, oak trees, flowers, etc. The ocean lies away below them and a belt of deep forest lies upslope, with a cloud shrouded mountain beyond. The sun is bright and the wind is refreshing.They also find that all of them have been bereft of their enchantments, curses and powers. Rhapsody is naked, non-furry, and non-prego, Daniel and Malek have no magic to call, Sherri feels a lack of divine power though of course her faith remains undiminished, and Connel is a corpse. The real, dead, inanimate kind. Ashley and Paddy seem unchanged, though neither had any particular enchantments to begin with. Their weapons and gear all remain, though it seems that any magic they carried is also gone. And the guns don't function.

Of particular importance to Daniel is a "finding" of the lost memories from his time with Adelita in the pocket dimension. He suddenly remembers everything, including his love for Adelita. It's a heavy moment.

With hopes that their enchantments will be returned to them when they leave, the group decides the best thing to do with Connel is build a stone cairn around his body to prevent the animals from getting to it.  With no other course presented, they decide to head toward the forest and mountain beyond, all sensing that their goal might lie in that direction.

When they get to the forest edge, it looks even more dark and daunting up close. There's an overgrown path skirting the edge, and with this albeit lesser sign of others, they decide to follow it, choosing the right path. The walk is a long one. Long enough to notice that the sun seems to be spinning around the isle instead of sinking or rising. When they find a decrepit bridge over a small stream they decide to take a break. While drinking from the stream, Daniel notices a shape at the edge of the forest. It turns out to be a huge tiger. The beast runs back into the undergrowth before he can get a closer look.

Further on, the party is hungry and tired when they find themselves walking through an overgrown farm field. Over some thick hedges they see the roof of a thatched hut. Making their way through the hedge they find a deserted farmhouse of ancient make, along with several stone outbuildings. Though the dwelling looks long abandoned, they do find a plate with fresh fruit inside. Between that, more fruit from a nearby tree, and some eggs provided by a few free-range chickens, they eat. Inexplicably, it seems to be growing dark, so the group decides to sleep in the cottage.

During the night, Malek hears a rustling and thumping coming from the barn. Waking Sheri, he decides to go check it out. Sword in hand he enters the barn and is ambushed by a dark form. The creature tries its best to strangle him with superhuman strength, and very nearly succeeds before a mysterious horseman crashes into the barn and startles the creature off. Before it departs, Malek gets a good look at a shriveled undead horror that somehow reminds him of Connel.

The horseman introduces himself as Thomas. He is quite obviously of Sidhe heritage, with a heroic build and long blonde hair. Once inside the cottage again, eating the dead chicken the undead thing left, the group learns that Thomas has been in the Mother's realm for a year or more by his reckoning, but his archaic speech leads them to ask what year he entered. They are alarmed to learn that he came through the portal in the year 1199. Thomas has been searching for the Mother unsucessfully in all that time.

He tells them the mountain beyond the forest is peaked by a massive white keep, also deserted. Other travellers have come to the isle and all have "set aside their enchantments" upon entering. By this and what they have seen, the group realizes that their magical natures are present on the isle, in separate form. The tiger Daniel saw is most likely Rhapsody's beast, and the shriveled creature is Connel's undead other half. Thomas tells them that sorcerers magic is often embodied in a thing or creature. For instance, Thomas saw his magic once in the form of a silver salmon. He is unsure what happens when you reunite with your magic, but he assumes you are expelled from the isle, and hasn't tried to catch his salmon as a result.

Other travellers have come and gone in the time Thomas has been on the isle. There is only the one entrance that the group used, but there are many exits that appear and disappear on the beaches with the tides. A few other seekers have remained on the isle. One such is a wild woman named Kathryn, who wanders the woods and is responsible for leaving the plate of fruit.

The group decides to travel to the keep on the mountain, hoping to find some clue that will allow them to find the Mother even though Thomas couldn't. Thomas agrees to lead them.

Four days of travel are made easier by Thomas's hunting skills. While in the forest, they are visited by the wild woman, Kathryn. When they warn her of the tiger, she decides to accompany them, though she seems skittish and none too sane. Once on the lower slopes of the mountain, the group finally exchanges stories with Thomas. They give him a run down of their quest, and why they are seeking the Mother, to awaken the Atlantean Oracle and defeat the Balial Gods. In return Thomas tells them of his quest to find a cure for his love, who was poisoned by an Unseelie sorcerer and then placed into a magical stasis by his own Seelie lord. Knowing how long he has been away, he has no idea if his love still lives, but is afraid to return without finding the cure.

Kathryn has become very agitated once out of the forest. Several times Sheri sees her playing with a collection of stones and "treasures" from her wanderings. Once she notices a stone that glows at Kathryns touch.

The second day on the mountain, Malek and Rhapsody spy a group of turtlenecks following them. The group appears to be lead by Sek-Thul, who apparently didn't perish in Daniel's fire. Not wanting a "Thank you Dr. Jones." moment at the keep, they plan an ambush to take care of the Fomor. All is set up well, and the turtlenecks would have certainly been crushed in the rockslide the group had prepared, except Kathryn ruins it all by shouting a warning at the last moment. Together they manage to kill two of the Fomor before Sek-thul calls a retreat and the rest run away. Kathryn is severely agitated by the violence, and looks horrified at the group's behavior. It is only with great reluctance that she stays with group.

They haven't seen the Fomor again upon reaching the keep. It is enormous and deserted. Dry and desolate with huge white walls and bare stone. Giant golden doors lie in the road at it's entrance. Though they try to get her to go in, Kathryn refuses. Once inside, the group crosses a bridge over a green pond. In the water, Thomas spies his salmon, but walks on. Inside the great hall, they find nothing but an empty dias and a set of stone stairs leading to rooms above. At the end of the hallway upstairs, the group finds the remains of sleeping chamber. After careful searching, Malek finds a hidden door. With everyone's help, the door is pushed open. Inside, they find a massive black cauldron they all take to be the Dagda's.

Shortly thereafter they hear Sek-Thul's voice from the great hall below. "Come down and face me. I have your woman and will kill her unless you do!"

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