Hârn: Genisis – Entry 22


08 of Azura in the year 720 TR

The old man, Spar Daymar, seems to think Moab is safe enough for the time being. His attackers will need some time to regroup before trying again. The Voice and the Savage have been quiet since last night. Its been the closest I’ve felt to normal in quite some time. When they are quiet for long enough, memories start to come back to me. Many of them terrible, but a few of them nice. Days spent in training on the gladiator grounds. Long runs through the forests and grassy hills surrounding the pits in Retham.

We had a smaller than usual group of players for this session. As such, the GM elected to have us do a little side activity rather than continuing our travels on in the hunt for Alexander Marco.

Even Echo seems to sense my calm today. He is still recovering from the wounds suffered last night, but he allowed me to venture out into the market with Merrick, Talon and Falcon without a guide. We stopped for lunch when a frantic old man burst in, shouting for help. Merrick calmed him down and promised our aid. His daughter had fallen into a hole outside of town. Though it was a serious matter, I could not hide a little bit of a smile as I knew our party had some experience with falling into holes recently.

We followed the man out of town along a narrow road into the hills. He was holding an impressive pace given his age, babbling the entire time about the girl. It took far longer than any of us expected to reach the spot, a hole nestled between the large roots of a mangled tree, causing me to wonder exactly what the man and his daughter were doing this far out.

Outside the hole, we could indeed here the distant cries of the girl. Falcon used the divine powers of Siem to bless a rock, causing it to illuminate like a hot coal and tossed it into the hole. After falling some distance, it bounced out of sight. Merrick convinced the old man to allow us to tie a rope to him and lower him into the hole. The three of us would stand at the top and pull him up when he had the girl.

After some convincing, he agreed and we lowered him through the hole. He was barely out of sight when suddenly the thick braids of the rope began to unwind, wrapping around our fingers and wrists and the fibers became sticky like glue. Before we could react, there was a sharp pull on the rope. Merrick, Falcon and Talon immediately lost their footing and were dragged headfirst into the hole. I planted my feet at the entrance, trying to stop their fall, but the loose soil gave way and the rope behind me snapped as I too was drug down into the earth.

We fell through the widening darkness until we hit some sort of bubble, like thick foam, it slowed our fall as we passed through and fell safely to the floor on the other side. Nearby was Falcon’s glowing rock, illuminating the small cavern. Above us, the hole leading down was sealed by a mirror like surface. I climbed to my feet stiffly, obviously smarting from the fall more than I realized, and examined my party. To my surprise, Falcon and Merrick were still with us, but Talon was gone.

In his place, I looked upon an exact duplicate of myself, which in turn was staring back at me! It took a few moments to sort out what had happened, but upon passing through the bubble our minds appeared to have switched bodies! Talon claimed to be within my body and, upon looking down on myself, I realized I was wearing his clothes and equipment. Falcon and Merrick also announced that they had switched bodies as well.

The GM had us switch character sheets at this time, forcing us to adapt our game play strategies on the fly as we tried to get used to new characters.

Uncomfortable in this weaker and uncoordinated body, not to mention his lack of traditional weaponry, I pulled the short sword I carried off of my body as Talon fumbled with my axes. The sword felt heavy and clumsy in my hands, but, mentally at least, it was reassuring. Seeing no other way out, we ventured into the nearby tunnels and began exploring the caverns.

The tunnels twisted and branched often, forcing us to make a point out of exploring them deliberately and orderly to prevent getting lost. Many ended in collapsed tunnels or simply narrowed into impassible points, forcing us to backtrack. The others ended in small caverns with only the single tunnel leading out.

In the first, we came upon a nest of rabbits. Talon and I turned to leave, but Falcon insisted on trying to commune with the animals. He failed though, apparently his powers being left behind with his body. Encouraged, Merrick gave it a try and, to his amusement, the rabbits responded. By the time he was done, we had a herd of the things following us down the tunnels.

In the next chamber, we came upon a strange sight. Though the old man was nowhere to be found, a little girl sat in the center of the dimly lit room with another bunny in her lap. She greeted us warmly, but there was something off about her. It did not take long to deduce that the little girl all dressed in blue was no normal little girl at all.

She asked us if we wanted to play and Merrick, I think too afraid to risk upsetting her, agreed. She giggled and asked us a riddle. “Feed me and I live, give me water and I die. What am I?”

Talon answered back almost immediately with the answer. Fire. The girl giggled with the ease of the answer and congratulating us. Popping up from her seat and into the air with a twist, she vanished, leaving us alone in the cavern. Clearly, no normal little girl in blue.

Continuing on, we entered another chamber and were surprised by a Gârgún. Merrick took an arrow as the creature howled at us in surprise. Falling to old instincts, I charged forward with my sword, aiming to take off the creature’s head before it could drop its bow and draw its club. Unfortunately, my new body did not cooperate. My feet tripped over each other and the sword arm lacked the deftness I was used to, causing me to miss entirely. Fortunately, I was able to dodge out of the creature’s reach.

Talon dove in right behind me with my axes. He nearly cut the creature’s arm free in his first strike, while the other two were still trying to sort themselves out. The creature turned on him, flailing against him, but he ignored it and buried the second axe in its chest, killing it. Clearly he was having a much more enjoyable time in my body than I was in his.

We ventured on, finding the girl in a second cave. Before she got to her next riddle, Merrick was able to get her name, Alice, and also asked her if she was planning to let us go. Alice replied that, if we amused her and played well, she would let us go. The alternative, it seemed, was that “they” would eat us. Normally I might have taken on that challenge, but in this body it seemed like a poor idea.

The second riddle was slightly more difficult, but in the end, Talon cracked this one as well. “The man who built it, doesn’t want it. The man who bought it, doesn’t need it. The man who needs it, doesn’t know it.” A coffin. I probably should have caught that one earlier, given all the men I’ve put into them.

Again she disappeared with a mystifying giggle and we traveled on. In another cavern, we came upon two more Gârgún. This time, with better awareness of my body’s capabilities, I was able to follow closely behind Talon as he charged the first and I ran the second through with my sword, killing it instantly. Experience still trumps prowess, it seems. When I turned around, much to my surprise, Falcon had buried one of Merrick’s daggers through the throat of the first Gârgún in a spray of blood. Even he looked surprised at just how effective he had been. To be honest, I didn’t think the Cleric of Siem had it in him.

We moved on and eventually found ourselves in a strange cavern at what must have been the farthest reaches of the tunnel network. One wall of the room was made up of the same, mirror-like substance we had passed through on the way in. Alice appeared with a surprised sigh. “I didn’t think you would make it this far so soon. Very well…”

I interrupted her, cleverly I thought. “Enough. I have a riddle for you!” I proclaimed. “What is in… my pocket!”

Alice laughed and laughed, before replying, “Marbles, silly!” I was sure I had her there as I thrust my hand into Talon’s pocket. Even I didn’t know what was in there. To my disbelief, his pocket was full of metal marbles!

Getting back to her own riddles, Alice asked, “Pronounced as one letter and written with three. Three letters there are and only two in me. I’m double, I’m single, I’m black, blue and gray. I’m read from both ends and the same either way. What am I?” Proving his education wasn’t for nothing, Talon shot back immediately. An eye.

Alice laughed and continued. “Another! You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What am I?” This one took us some time and I think Alice’s look grew hungrier while we debated. Finally Merrick put it together and answered. An ear of corn.

Alice sighed, “This has been so much fun! Very well… one more and you may leave. I am the black child of a white father, a wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven. I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me, even though there is no cause for grief. At once, on my birth, I am dissolved into air. What am I?”

“A fart.” I answered sarcastically. I thought it was under my breath, but Alice broke into hysterics. When her laughter finally subsided, Talon delivered the real answer. Smoke.

Alice smiled, though she looked half disappointed, then she turned and gestured towards the mirror. “A promise is a promise and you were so much fun. You may leave.” She disappeared into the air again. “But if you ever want to play again, just come back to me!”

Falcon and Merrick began to debate the nature of the offer and the trustworthiness of the girl, but I was already halfway to the mirror when their protests reached me. Whatever the risks, I was tired of Talon’s body and the mirror offered hope that I might regain my own, for all its flaws and difficulties I endure within it.

We emerged out the other side and I paused in the setting sunlight. Looking down, I was pleased to discover my old armor and weapons on my belt. Additionally, my wounds from the past day seemed to have healed. I turned in time to see Talon exiting from a seemingly solid rock wall. I snatched my sword back from him and sheathed it as the other two appeared as well.

We were set to leave when a white rabbit, much like the ones in the caves, hopped up to us. Merrick knelt to it, but we could all hear its voice in our heads. “The lady thanks you and wishes for you to know that she will come to you if you wish to find her again.”

Merrick got a peculiar look and asked, “And if we want to bring the lady some friends?”

“She will most gladly appear for them as well. She has left some gifts for you. Take them with her thanks!” The rabbit led us around a nearby tree and disappeared. At the foot of the tree was a wooden box. Opening it, we found it was filled with several jewels and an ornate, pearl handled axe gilded with gold. Merrick handed me the axe without asking and divided the jewels among the rest of the group.

We returned to Moab to get dinner and rest before we left the next day. It was late when we arrived and we met briefly with the others before they turned in for bed. I was exhausted as I ate and drank, while Merrick surveyed the room. Falcon took the opportunity to sing an old elven song for the tavern, while Merrick approached a table of drunks and began to speak to them.

Things seemed to be going fine when the table suddenly erupted in drunken yelling and the men, clearly excited about something, began falling over one another. One ran into Merrick and he deftly guided the man past him and into a nearby chair which promptly tumbled over to the ground. Falcon cut off his song in shock as the man climbed back up and charged Merrick, tackling him to the ground.

I casually walked over to the struggle while Falcon was busy with the others, chanting a prayer to Siem that seemed to have a calming effect on them. Without breaking stride, I picked up a nearby chair and smashed it over Merrick’s attacker. The drunkard fell to the side, unconscious, while Merrick regained his composure. I procured the man’s ale, who had clearly had enough, and sat down while the others dispersed and Falcon returned to his singing.

Merrick roused the man and continued their conversation, the conflict apparently forgotten. The man was clearly angry, but it was Merrick’s words that caught my attention as he spoke to the man of the futility of ordered society, that the world inexorably devolved to chaos. He spoke of the teachings of Naveh. He and his convert left a short while later, intent on setting the man’s life back on course as I turned in for bed. Clearly there is more to Merrick than he lets on.


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