« on: September 02, 2017, 02:29:33 PM »
(16:16:58) [GM]: ----------
(16:17:11) [GM]: At the unofficial request of Margaretha of the Crane Knights, Micah and Miriana investigated a seed of corruption in the church. What they found was a conspiracy to slowly extinguish the knowledge of evil, and they managed to destroy a demon summoned to hasten this plot.
(16:17:11) [GM]: After the events had been revealed, Miriana and Micah received official recognition for their deeds from the Emperor on behalf of the whole city, and a personal gift from Margaretha. News travels quickly to the Fair Constable, too, where regular patrons will not stop calling them heroes.
(16:17:32) [GM]: A week later, once the greatest commotion has died down, the two head into the inner city once more to speak to one Deacon Jeronim about the university's hidden library. The day is sunny, but Livest's towers give the impression of holding their breath. An inquisition is investigating, and everyone knows it.
(16:17:55) [GM]: The university quarter announces itself with an archway bearing its motto: "A fire in the dark". After asking around and getting the lay of the land, the duo locate lecture halls, businesses catering to students and faculty, offices, collections and museums, accomodations. Roses seem to be popular, decorating the walls of many towers above the ground level.
(16:18:16) [GM]: The building where the faculties meet stands centrally, its facade proudly decorated with a large astronomical clock known as the Saros Clock, famous beyond the city's borders. Small flocks of students move through streets, loiter, or in one case are playing a ball game. Negotiating with the Deacon should be easy, considering their services, but how will they approach him?
(16:23:30) Miriana: Miriana shuffles her feet, a little nervously. "I'm half-reconsidering the idea and just trying to sneak in," she admits to Micah. "But I suppose we're already here...I wonder if you need an appointment to see the Deacon?"
(16:24:44) Micah_Whiterune: "Ask and find out." Micah starts clomping his way towards the nearest person should Miriana not initiate anything.
(16:25:44) Miriana: "...Fair." Miriana goes to inquire a little more politely where the Deacon might be found.
(16:27:13) [GM]: The two get directions to the Deacon's office from a nearby student, who also says they do not need an appointment as such, assuming the man's in.
(16:28:20) Miriana: Miriana thanks the student and presses on a little more optimistically, rehearsing the conversation in her head just in case.
(16:30:25) [GM]: The faculty's offices are within the large main building - despite its height, most rooms in use are on the ground floor, as the mechanisms of the Saros Clock take up much space. Each of thirteen faculties has an office arranged around a circular main hall, and the Deacon's office is down a short hallway from there. He appears to be in, calling for the visitors to enter when they knock.
(16:33:17) Miriana: Miriana pushes the door open. "Deacon Jeronim? I apologize if I'm interrupting. Would you happen to have a few minutes to speak?"
(16:37:46) [GM]: "Is there anyone who has as much time as they need?" Jeronim is a skinny, middle-aged man wearing round spectacles, looking up from a stack of papers at the newcomers. His blond hair is cropped short like a monk who's lapsed in shaving their head. A scribe on a small desk facing him looks up from her own work. "But yes, please step in. You're a student?"
(16:41:31) Miriana: Miriana smiles at that before the thought that Camelia certainly doesn't runs through her mind, unbidden. "Ah, not as such. My name is Miriana Nemetz; this is Micah Whiterune. Neither of us are students, we're just visitors hoping to learn a few things."
(16:42:32) [GM]: "Well, that is what we're here for. How can I help you, Miss Nemetz and Master Whiterune?"
(16:50:32) Miriana: Miriana clasps her hands behind her back. "I understand that the university has some excellent archives, including ones less available to the general public. With your permission, Micah and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to...well, browse sounds too casual, but to search those libraries for information."
(16:55:21) [GM]: "Hm. Very careful wording, but I think I catch your drift. The main library is open to anyone, though books can only be loaned to members of the University. Its special archives aren't top secret as such, but they do require a very good reason to consult. May I ask what you are looking for?"
(17:01:32) Miriana: "A member of my family - my sister - has an illness that has so far defeated every attempt to cure it. Since coming to Livest, I've made some progress in searching for a cure, but what I have right now is incomplete. It may be very possible that the special archives have, if not a record of the illness itself, clues that might help."
(17:08:43) [GM]: "...Ah. Hm. I certnainly sympathize. In general, the special archives are accessed when there is a pressing need for the greater good. For instance, in the past days, a knight of the Shrike came to consult them for the purpose of the inquisition. A personal request is... not without precedent, but there have been some poor experiences."
(17:15:16) Miriana: "Understandably so." Miriana nods. "If it's a question of recommendation, the Crane Knights can certainly vouch for our character. We gave them some help recently rooting out a cult operating within the city."
(17:17:32) Micah_Whiterune: "Plus dealing with the ugly poisonous lizard."
(17:24:29) [GM]: "Ah." Jeronim's eyebrows go upwards as if repulsed by his spectacles. "I see, now I recall the news. Hmm. In that case, if... no, a favor is certainly deserved. I shall record the visit and have you shown to the special archives. I should tell you that loaning books is not allowed, for security purposes, even for univesity members, but you may take writing utensils to copy down information as you like. The librarian and guard are quite peculiar, but no threat to any legitimate visitor."
(17:25:05) [GM]: are quite peculiar, but no threat to any legitimate visitor."
(17:27:12) Micah_Whiterune: "Oh we've seen our share of weird shit before. What's the worst that could happen?"
(17:27:46) Miriana: Miriana makes a point of looking vaguely concerned. "I'll take your word for it. And thank you, Deacon. I truly appreciate this."
(17:32:38) [GM]: "In spite of everything, we do try to live up to the motto. I wish you not luck, but success." An assistant with the necessary permission is called to show Micah and Miriana to the special archive, though they were already shown the way before.
(17:39:36) [GM]: They descend an easy-to-miss spiral stair to a deep basement level. On the way, the assistant explains that the special archive is not kept deliberately secret so much as simply not much spoken of, in the name of having it accessible without excessive fuss when needed but not having just anyone ask for access.
(17:39:36) [GM]: They are also cautioned to treat any book with care, as seveveral contain magic and of these, some may be dangerous on their own. These are marked and need a special request to open, but it pays to be cautious always.
(17:41:15) Micah_Whiterune: Micah comments amiably along the way about the foolishness of young students.
(17:43:03) Miriana: Miriana briefly considers tripping Micah, but decides against it on the grounds that she might be required to help the dwarf up.
(17:45:00) [GM]: The stairway finally connects to another brief hallway opening into a chamber with desks and chairs lined along the near wall. The facing wall has a tall double door to the library proper, and standing next to it a giant figure towering taller than the door frame, with dark gray skin and ashen white fur, shackled to its place.
(17:45:00) [GM]: Its face is covered by a bone mask suggesting the skull of some beast, but with a single round gem as an eye. The guardian Jeronim spoke of. It barely stirs as the visitors enter, turning its head to stare at them.
(17:47:50) Miriana: Miriana considers the creature with some trepidation as she passes.
(17:49:25) [GM]: It's some manner of giant, their guide explains, a creature that shares its life with the hills and forests, tamed and perhaps altered by a saint of the church. Another such creature supposedly guards some inner sanctum of the clergy's.
(17:51:20) [GM]: After being told that they have permission to enter, the guardian giant does not challenge them or even acknowledge them as they pass the doors.
(17:51:33) [GM]: From below, the hidden library has a different air than sneaking a look inside from above - claustrophobic, with a low ceiling and only a bare corridor between the wall and maybe a half-dozen bookshelves. Each book is chained to its shelf, and between the shelves are banks and pulpits for reading.
(17:51:33) [GM]: The crack Micah and Miriana found is indeed difficult to see from below, unless one knows to look, up in a corner and obscured by bookshelves from most angles. Perhaps it's a trick of the mind, but it seems to have grown slightly since.
(17:53:30) Micah_Whiterune: Micah naturally takes a moment to inspect it for mold or moisture seeping in. This is stone.
(17:58:26) [GM]: Interestingly, the sewer can't be smelled at all from inside the library, nor does the air feel excessively stale or dusty despite the complete lack of ventilations.
(17:59:19) Micah_Whiterune: Ominous, he deems it, deliberately digging through stone with claws is never a good sign, as he seeks out the librarian.
(18:01:53) [GM]: The librarian is a face, such as it is, that at least Miriana has seen before: A stunted, hunched figure with a lipless face dominated by a single massive eye that clambers out between two bookshelves to stare at the newcomers. Its face shows no expression, but its teeth clack together audibly when it sees Miriana.
(18:03:08) Micah_Whiterune: "Hi, we got permission but...", Micah motions at the crack, "Someone decided to make their own way in. With claws. Figure you'd want to know before they steal something."
(18:04:30) Miriana: Miriana inclines her head toward the librarian, sending a pulse of greeting thoughts to accompany it. <We return.>
(18:07:38) [GM]: The librarian clacks its teeth together in a peculiar rythm, and nods its head very thoughtfully. "I see," it answers in common speech with what little gravity its broken voice can muster. In its almost-human body language, Micah remembers that the creature offered to take a bribe from Miriana already, and has to have known of the crack for at least a week and a half.
(18:12:59) Micah_Whiterune: Seeing his lawful duty fulfilled for now, Micah heads to the shelves, to see if any books catch his eye.
(18:15:06) [GM]: "You have something for me, and I for you?" The nothic inclines its head and stares, perhaps hoping that they will try to bribe it even though they are now here legitimately and on record.
(18:16:33) Miriana: Miriana decides that the nothic can stew a little longer waiting for its bribe, if indeed she decides to give the creature anything. "Have you something for me?" she replies, idly rolling the fire gem between her fingers as she half-turns to inspect a volume.
(18:18:06) [GM]: In one shelf near the very end of the corridor, Micah finds a study on dwarven faith and history, and especially the retreat of Moradin and various crises in the long siege of the darkness beneath their homes, written by an author whose works were forbidden back home.
(18:19:26) [GM]: The nothic stares silently at Miriana, long and hard and unblinking. Then, it clacks its teeth together and motions for her to follow. The top of the shelf it seeks out has already been claimed as a seat by Soot, who stares down at his master as the nothic clambers up and takes out a slim volume from the top row directly below Soot. She does not remember the cat materializing.
(18:19:43) Micah_Whiterune: Micah takes it down and begins paging through it, , perhaps it might be heretical, but he knows better than most how sometimes the elders are just following their personal beliefs rather than the truth.
(18:21:40) Miriana: Miriana gives Soot a long, curious look, but ultimately decides that perhaps it's not worth raising a fuss over. She takes the book from the nothic, inspecting the spine.
(18:26:35) [GM]: The book Micah inspects seems to give excruciatingly detailed accounts, reading portents and omens with the benefit of hindisght in every event, and speaks of lessons from such omens. It focuses especially on the foes faced by various dwarven lands, current and long fallen, and gives very detailed accounts of many of them.
(18:26:35) [GM]: This is, most likely, what earned the author the dwarves's wrath, for many of them find such knowledge subversive rather than helpful, but the University of Livest is certainly a more welcoming place for it.
(18:28:04) [GM]: The volume Miriana has taken is also bound to the shelf by a chain, though the chain is thin and hangs on a wooden spine that was clearly attached after the fact. The book itself is thin and paper-bound, its cover decorated with a sketch of wilting flower bushels in red ink. She recognizes a rose, a hibiscus, and the love-lies-bleeding flower she found dried in her diary.
(18:28:04) [GM]: The book's title, penned in careful handwriting, reads "Three Fallen Flowers", with no author.
(18:29:04) Micah_Whiterune: Micah, naturally flips to the section on his own homeland.
(18:30:16) Miriana: Miriana chews on her lip, an intense need to know more warring with the desire to spite the nothic. Eventually, she hands the creature the fire gem, wordlessly, and begins to read without a moment's pause.
(18:34:22) [GM]: Inside, the book seems to contain a short anthology of poems, all concerning personified flowers. The opening poem describes a camellia, on the brink of wilting, and in the sections following, it meets each of the flowers on the cover in turn, learning how they died and drawing a conclusion on how to avoid its own death.
(18:34:22) [GM]: The poems are full of cross-references and hidden meaning, and make little sense by themselves except as a somewhat morbid story, but many passages seem to her like references to certain events, stories or places, and the pace of the writing, the illustrations, even the ink dots seem to form patterns.
(18:34:44) [GM]: The nothic retreats a bit with its prize, looking at it carefully and handling it like a raw egg.
(18:39:41) Miriana: Miriana pages through again, frowning at what seems to have been written exclusively for her. <Librarian,> she asks the nothic wordlessly as she goes. <How did this book come to be in the collection?>
(18:42:28) [GM]: The librarian makes a humming sound with its throat, perhaps a lipless version of a 'hmm'. "Part of someone's possessions, perhaps. Four decades ago. Author unknown."
(18:44:24) [GM]: Micah, meanwhile, has just found the section on his own home and is reading in exhaustive detail about a mirror-winged dragon that terrorized the dwarves there in the time near his own birth.
(18:45:16) Miriana: "That isn't much to go on," she murmurs, lost in thought. Perhaps, if she recognizes associations and patterns, she can interpret the book and draw conclusions from it. The section concerning the love-lies-bleeding flower seems like a good place to start. She fetches paper and ink to make her notes, then sits with the book and begins to scrutinize it in great detail.
(18:52:04) [GM]: The love-lies-bleeding is the final poem in the book, which related an amaranth's withering, and the camellia drying itself out like a flower preserved between a book's pages. Its name and character remain, only its life is gone. Its symbolism repeatedly indicates the west, retaining what should be lost, and clockwork mechanisms.
(18:52:04) [GM]: As Miriana pages back and forth between the poems, a pattern emerges in the illustrations and ink-dots, like a constellation of stars. The more she understands, the more obvious they become, until actual motes of light rise from the pages and assemble in empty air.
(18:52:36) Micah_Whiterune: Micah looks up from his reading blinking.
(18:54:52) Miriana: Miriana gazes up at them, fascinated. She reaches a hand out gingerly toward the pattern of light.
(18:58:14) [GM]: Pinpricks of deep red light circle in formation, bathing the library in a baleful glow. As they assemble, Miriana and Micah can feel a heat on their skins as if standing close to a hearth, and when she stretches out her hand she finds them too hot to approach closely.
(18:59:46) [GM]: The book Miriana took out was not marked in any way, suggesting the University is unaware of any magic in it. Perhaps the act of Miriana reading its pages and recognizing the patterns opened a way for these stars, for they're certainly not from the sky anyone knows, nor from the sky she sees in her dreams.
(19:00:14) [GM]: Perception bends around them, suggesting a bubble like the constellation's own celestial sphere, or perhaps a gap in this one. The tiny stars are close, and their heat can be felt on the skin even as their harsh light can be felt on the soul. The library itself seems to melt and revolve about the foreign constellation.
(19:00:14) [GM]: Wherever it came from, its faceless attention is on Miriana and Micah, and it cannot possibly have good designs.
(19:02:43) Miriana: <I didn't do anything!> Miriana reflexively protests in Micah's direction, all evidence pointing to the contrary.
(19:05:40) Micah_Whiterune: "You totally did!" Micah reacts quickly, considering he had been fiddling with his holy symbol already, and raises it to face the malign sign.
(19:14:39) [GM]: Miriana can feel the stars' light on her soul, and for a moment nothing enters her mind but the thought of running away. But the warped library fights her efforts to move, and though she feels herself standing up, she covers no ground. The stars burn, though, simply by silently approaching her.
(19:23:13) Micah_Whiterune: "The hammer of cleansing light. Descend upon the unclean!" Micah motions with his hammer as a phantom hammer drops onto the star.
(19:26:57) Micah_Whiterune: Then with his shield arm, a somewhat forgotten throwing axe flicks into his grip before spinning at the baleful manifestation.
(19:29:13) [GM]: Though one wouldn't think a constellation of stars can be cut, the spectral hammer and then the thrown axe strike the deformation around the stars where it is strongest with an audible ringing, as if they had hit a crystal sphere like the celestial spheres themselves.
(19:31:39) [GM]: The sound wakes Miriana from her single-minded daze, and though the ground and bank still won't do as her feet say, her mind is once again clear.
(19:33:08) Miriana: Still backpedaling to no avail, Miriana fractures and refracts, the ruddy starlight around her bending and splitting into three more identical Mirianas. Each darts past each other confusingly in defiance of the warping of space.
(19:37:30) [GM]: The ruddy constellation flashes brightly in unison, approaching one of the darting Mirianas as one star streaks from the bubble and towards Micah, exploding in a bright flash in front of his face.
(19:42:33) [GM]: Miriana is seen to be scorched by the starfire and burn up to a wisp, but the other Mirianas mercifully remain, marking the lost one as a fake. Micah can't tell either way, though, because he only sees light.
(19:43:59) Micah_Whiterune: Micah is undaunted by the glare, offering up another prayer even as his divine hammer keeps pounding, "Hearth Mother. Warm us by your light. Protect us."
(20:07:30) Miriana: Miriana's duplicates raise phantom wands in unison, though the chant comes from the real Miriana's lips alone. "I've put out older stars than you," she promises, firing a jet of light at the sphere of warped space.
(20:08:18) Micah_Whiterune: "The star there is like a minute old Miri."
(20:12:53) [GM]: The magic blast strikes the distortion around the stars with a noise like shattering glass, and a crack can be seen in apparently empty air, where a tiny petal of crimson flame grows into the foreign celestial sphere. The constellation turns and floats ponderously towards Miriana and Micah, approaching this time the dwarf who cannot see it coming but feels its heat.
(20:16:58) Micah_Whiterune: "Malign flame, be extinguished In the heart of every fire is the ash of it's grave!" Micah abruptly switches tactics as the star is diverted by the incessantly pounding hammer of the divine, hand shrouded in darkness.
(20:18:20) Micah_Whiterune: "BE QUENCHED!"
(20:22:07) [GM]: His hand reaches towards the heart of the warping star and feels solidity beneath his fingers, but Mya's flames burn all the same, engulfing the foreign sphere and burning inside and out.
(20:23:13) Miriana: Miriana sights the remnants of the flame from her last attack, backing out of the region of space where distance has no meaning to line up another spell with that as her guiding star.
(20:26:47) [GM]: Space splinters and cracks, flames crimson and black licking the interior of the distortion. It flares with heat perhaps one last time before withdrawing from Micah, floating away as if swimming through mud.
(20:28:19) Micah_Whiterune: Micah swats the heat away with his shield and reaches out, seizing the star, "So mote it be." Dark flames pour out around it.
(20:30:44) [GM]: The celestial sphere breaks and flakes away, melting back into the library as it was before. Any strange perception now is likely just vertigo.
(20:31:14) Micah_Whiterune: "So...what have we learned today?"
(20:31:37) [GM]: The paper book lies still where Miriana left it, harmlessly open on the desk under its shelf. Soot, who was sitting above previously, is nowhere to be seen.
(20:32:12) Miriana: "I didn't do anything except read the book," Miriana protests, wiping ash off her clothes.
(20:35:53) [GM]: With the foreign constellation banished, the paper book seems harmless - the patterns themselves opened the way for the stars to pass through, and their constellation matched it perfectly. Reading it with care now ought to be safe.
(20:37:03) [GM]: ----------