View Full Version : The Story at 2nd Xtranj so far.....

January 29th, 2005, 06:38 AM
The below was the work of four different authors over several weeks of realtime.....

Dreth peaked into the boiling pot, and used a pair of tongs to pull out one of the ivory handled needles. He studied the needle for a moment and dumped it back in the water.

A man came crashing in through the door of the shop, trying to look
menacing. “Who’s the baddest tattooist here?” he demanded.
Dreth exchanged a long-suffering look with Garren and Tosk, his shop-mates.
“Next alley, all the way at the back,” they told the guy, together. The guy gave them a confused look and left much quieter than he came in.
Dreth spared a thought for the door. As a dwarf, Garren had resisted the idea of a wooden door, and Dreth was beginning to sympathize.
“Didn’t know the guard was hiring again,” Garren remarked.
“Mayor’s worried about refugees,” Tosk shrugged, mixing a small pot of pigment at his workbench. It was a particularly violent shade of purple.
“That one didn’t even have practice scars,” Dreth shuddered. “And what the hell was that he was wearing?”
“Some of the bronze-wrights have been making ‘costume armor’,” Tosk
replied. “It’s a new style among the rich, for parties.”
“Gah!” Garren spat. “I’d better stay away from home, then. Me Da’s going to be chewing the table again.” Garren’s father was a captain in the guard, and took his temper out on the furniture. His mother had been a healer with the guards, and would brook no nonsense about the house.
“Maybe we should close up shop for a few days,” Dreth sighed.
“I got three boys from Master Kerrel’s coming in soon,” Tosk replied.
Tosk did a lot of business with the bordellos from a certain section of town. The tattoos would show they had been accepted as apprentices, and then altered later when their apprenticeships were complete.
Dreth sighed. “Ok, but the next one goes out feet first.”

He looked up from his workbench, where he was working on a spiraling
circle of Arcanish script for one of the temple guards. The drawing was almost done, except for a bit of decoration.
“Dreth, I got it, I got it, I got it,” the young man cried, bouncing up and down on his toes as he waved a scrap of parchment in front of Dreth.
“Is it contagious?” Dreth asked as he carefully put down the tracing
quill and reached for the parchment. He scanned the script.
“Five days?” Dreth demanded. “You managed to convince your revered
mother, who has never changed her mind in under a year, to let you have a tattoo, in five days?”
“She said I could have a tattoo if I got into the guard, and I got hired on this morn,” the young man told him, scraping blonde hair out of his eyes.
Dreth felt the distinct sensation of his conscience kicking him in the ass.
“Jhen, listen to me. I will do this tattoo, on one condition,” Dreth
told him, standing up slowly and deliberately, towering over the slight youth. “After I do the tattoo, you are going straight to Kerrel’s and ask his master-at-arms to train you in weaponry. I will not give you a tattoo just to have it grace your corpse at your funeral.”
“The guard will train me,” Jhen protested weakly.
“The guard trains recruits with the pike,” Garren told him, coming up to stand at Dreth’s shoulder. “No edge work, unless you’ve already been trained.”
“And a pike isn’t for city fighting,” Dreth informed the boy, leaning
towards him dangerously. “The first time you have to break up a brawl, you’ll get sliced open by the first drunk who decides to prove he has bigger balls than you.” He narrowed his eyes and concentrated in putting all the anger he could muster into them. Friends had told him that at times they seemed to be full of blue fire. “Agreed? Or should we just start carving you up now, and save your mother the wait?”
“I... agreed,” Jhen squeaked.
“Good.” Dreth sat back down on the stool, and Garren returned to his
study of pictures of Dwarven art, the large metal rings woven into his beard jingling as he sat down heavily. “So, what did you want?”
“Oooh, what’s that one?” Jhen asked, reaching for the Arcanish Dreth had been working on. Dreth moved it away from the boy’s hand.
“That’s a commission. I don’t sell copies until the person who
commissioned it agrees, and agrees to a fee for use of the artwork.”
“Oh.” Jhen looked disappointed.
“Well?” Dreth asked.
“Ummm.” Jhen looked around, wincing at the tattoos visible on Garren’s arm. The Dwarven runes looked to be carved of stone. “Could I get something like your eye?”
Dreth rubbed the tattoo on his scalp, above his right eye, about three inches. “Something like how?” he asked.
“Give him a target over his kidneys, so the drunks know where to aim,” Tosk commented, from where he was working on a white-faced male
prostitute. The two of them looked matched, due to Tosk’s whey-colored complexion.
“Keep it up, Tosk, and we’ll throw you back in that hole we found you
in,” Garren remarked, looking up from his contemplation of a
masters-mark on a Dwarven axe.
Garren and Dreth often joked that they had dragged Tosk out of a hole, to make the fifth required student in their class. Master-Priest Pharrion had declared that this was going to be his last class, and would not teach less than five students. In truth, Tosk had simply been late to sign up, arriving just as Pharrion was about to refuse to teach them at all.
Two of their classmates had never graduated, found wanting by the
Dreth had a glimmer of an idea, and tuned out the bickering of Tosk and Garren, and the frantic fluttering of Jhen. He slowly turned the thought in his head until it started to become an image.
Dreth pulled a piece of parchment towards him, and began sketching.

He looked up at Jhen, coming out of his drawing trance, and then at the drawing. He looked up at Jhen again, noting the disappointed look on the young man’s face.
“Nah, this would be way too painful for you,” Dreth sighed, starting to throw the drawing in the fire.
“No, no, it’s great, I like it, I can take it!”
Dreth smiled coldly at the boy’s babbling. The drawing was a
necklace-type, based on the inheritance tattoos used among a nomadic
people a hundred years before. In flowing, but readable, script, it gave Jhen’s name and the name of his most recent three ancestors.
Anyone not completely stupid or blind would know the name of Jhen’s
“revered” mother, the gossipmonger Karthansa, and think twice about
harming her eldest son. And if he were harmed, at least the body would be returned to her.
Dreth looked towards the window. “I’ll need a little time to finish
this. Come back after dinner. And blessings to your mother.”
Jhen started to protest, but looked at the light in the window, and left to return home.

Dreth made his way down the street, towards the small plaza where there would still be food-sellers. He stopped and dropped a few coins in the bowl of a beggar.
“Thank ye, me Lord,” the man said.
“Tater, if you call me lord again, I will tattoo your face with a demon mask,” Dreth told him.
“Be an improvement, wouldn’t it?” the beggar crowed.
Dreth grinned and shook his head. The man’s face, one wit had noted,
looked “like an incompetent sculptor-god with palsied hands had tried to make something from mashed potatoes”. Hence the man’s street-name, ‘Tater’.
The disease had not been as kind to the rest of his body.
A scantily clad, artfully grimed young woman stumbled toward him, her
arms outstretched. She clung to him by his vest, sobbing.
“Please, milord,” she begged. “A little charity for a woman torn
unjustly from her home?”
“Let me guess,” Dreth drawled. “Your husband died and the magistrate
evicted you from your home in the midst of your grief.”
The woman looked at him in bewilderment.
“The rips in your clothing are from a sharp knife,” Dreth pointed out. “The stains on your face and hands are from cosmetics, not soot or dirt. Your shoes have very little mud on them. Your belt has slight bulges in them, indicating it’s a money belt.” He sighed. “And those are breasts you are trying to rub against me. Yes, I’ve seen breasts before, and they are nice. I’m charitable, not stupid.”
He untangled himself from her and let her go.
“Oh, sure give to that freak, but not to me,” she screeched at him.
“Catamite! Filth! Will the freak share your bed tonight?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t asked him yet,” Dreth replied. He stepped back, to allow the newly lit lamp to illuminate his body.
Dreth stood proudly in the light, enjoying the effect on the woman. She had only seen that he was male, in the dim street, and noted that he had given some coins to Tater. She hadn’t really noted much else.
He was six foot tall, lean and muscular, with a tall stripe of hair
going down his otherwise bare scalp. The winged eye tattoo, in bright
red, was on the right side of his head. Gracing his chest was a
six-armed prism, full of glorious color. A stylized spider rode on his left bicep. The tattooed hilt of a knife could be seen poking above the waistband of his trousers, and a more physical blade rode on his other hip. The light also reflected nicely off the gold ring in his nose.
“And I AM a freak,” he told her proudly. He turned and walked away.

Dreth returned to the shop, and laid the heavy package wrapped in brown paper down on the table that was situated near the fire-pit and between the three workbenches. Tosk was putting the finishing touches on the tattoo of the third of Kerrel’s boys.
“You forgot the pitcher of beer again,” Garren noted as Dreth sat a pitcher full of sweet cider down next to the package.
“I know,” Dreth sighed. “I got cheese pies and sausage rolls.”
“We’re going to have to start selling them,” Tosk noted. He kicked one of a half-dozen stored under his own workbench.
Dreth rolled his eyes and went back to the drawing, wiping his hands on a clean cloth before touching the precious paper.
Garren leaned back from the Dwarf he was tattooing. The older Dwarf’s
face and body was rigid. “Look, I‘ll let you brag about how excruciating painful this is, if you will just relax. I can make tattoos that look like stone, but I can’t tattoo stone.”
Grumbling, the Dwarf relaxed, looking warily towards the door.

Dreth stretched carefully, as Tosk and Garren looked at the tattoo on
Jhen’s neck. As “tough as nails on a crucifix” as they all acted, each of them realized this was an important moment for Jhen. The effect was marred somewhat by the boy’s teeth-clenching grin. Karthansa looked on, grimly, and then walked back to where Dreth was cleaning up.
“Do you really think it will work?” Dreth asked her quietly. She raised her eyebrow. “Getting him to commit to the guard, to teach him stability and responsibility.”
“Maybe not right away,” she replied. “But in time. Thank you for the
suggestion of training. I am not conversant with the guard’s training.”
“It’s getting to be a problem,” Dreth shrugged.
“Odd that I haven’t heard a rumor about that,” Karthansa mused darkly.
“No time like the present,” he smirked.
“I manipulate my son, for his own good, and you manipulate me…”
“… for the good of the city?” he finished. She shook her head at him and winked.
“That is one of the finest inheritance tattoos I have seen in my life, Master Dreth,” she told him loudly, as Jhen came toward them. “That you chose to do it for my son honors me and my family.”
“Inheritance?” Jhen asked, his pain forgotten. “Me?”
“Who else?” his mother asked. She turned back to Dreth. “What do we owe you?”
“You can’t pay me,” Dreth answered. “You didn’t get a tattoo. However, Jhen owes me 24 silver. Those who get a tattoo pay for them.”
Karthansa raised an eyebrow, and shrugged, looking at her son. Jhen
fumbled for coins and produced two gold and four silver, his eyes shining.
“Take this ointment, you can get more at the apothecary’s shop. Apply it three times a day. Wrap your neck with gauze, get it from the healer down the street, and change it three times a day. For seven days, wash it with a clean cloth, do not let it slip beneath the water when you bathe. Clean every time you change the gauze. You should not need to wrap it after seven days, but use the ointment for two weeks.” He caught Jhen’s eye, sternly. “This is your tattoo. It not only honors you, but your family as well. Show it the same honor, or everyone will know the depth of your own. Understood?”
“Yes, Master Dreth,” Jhen nodded like a marionette.
“If it starts to feel hot to the touch, or continues bleeding after you wake up tomorrow, or starts to swell, see a healer, immediately.
Infection will cause the tattoo to bleed or the ink to pull out.”
“Yes, Master Dreth,” Jhen nodded.
“Next time you want a tattoo, see me a few days ahead of time,” Dreth
told him. “That will give me time to design something more ornate.”
“Yes, Master Dreth!” Jhen answered, his eyes alight.
“Go get that gauze, and don’t put your shirt back on until you put the gauze on.”
Karthansa watched her son leave and turned back to him.
“’Next time’? He doesn’t even seem to remember the pain all of a sudden.”
“Most don’t,” Dreth smiled. “He’ll feel it in the morning, until he sees himself or somebody remarks upon it. Why do you think we have so many beggars about the shop? The customers are so happy with their tattoos, they give freely to the beggars.”
The gossipmonger snorted, bemused, and handed him two gold pieces. “For the information, all of it. I’m sure it will all go to good use.”

Garren glowered at him after the woman left the shop. “What luck of the damned do you carry?” he demanded. He swore in Dwarven. “You realize that no one else in the city would have tattooed that scatter-brained son of hers, for fear of being ruined when she found out?”
“It was no luck,” Dreth replied. “I understood what she was trying to
do. I simply did something to complement it. She forced her son into the guard to try to teach him to be responsible and to stand on his own feet. I reinforced that with the inheritance tattoo. You saw his face. And he is going to be reminded of the obligations he is under every day.”
“If that life-chaser learns responsibility, the world will surely end,” Tosk noted darkly. “Something to look forward to, after all,” he mused brightly. He ran his fingers through the thin, tight braids that circled his bare scalp.
Dreth ignored Tosk (and his borderline heretical remarks) as he dropped his portion of the sale into the lockbox. Once a week, a Temple priest stopped by to collect the ‘rent’.
Dreth looked over to his friends. “Drinks?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Garren sighed. “Last time, I got knocked on the head
with a chair.” He picked up a mirror to study again whether the runes on his bare scalp had been marred by the injury.
“It’s about time to clean up and head home,” Tosk demurred. Neither
Dreth nor Garren knew where the young man actually slept, but left it
alone. There were some things Tosk preferred to keep private.
Dreth nodded, and began to gather up the tools and supplies he had used for Jhen’s tattoo. The drawing itself was placed between thin sheets of tin, and placed into a drawer with other such drawings. The pots of pigment were emptied and scrubbed lightly, and they and the mixing tools and needles were dumped into the pot over the fire. The fire was banked, and water added to the pot, to simmer slowly overnight.
“There’s still pies here,” Tosk noted as he finished cleaning up his
“I’ll take a couple. No dinner at Mother’s tonight,” Garren noted grumpily.
“Take what you need,” Dreth told Tosk. “I’ll see to the rest.”
Tosk shrugged and picked up one, his second of the day.
The door slammed open and a man demanded in a brash, surly voice, “Who’s the baddest tattooist around here?”
“Next alley, down at the end,” they told him, together. They waited for him to leave, glanced at each other, and hurried out the door, locking it behind them.
By the time the man made it past the beggars who lined the alley, and
back out of the alley again, they were long gone.

Sauce for the goose, etc....

* * * * * * * * *

Karl rose to another exciting day. The young girl who served his
family woke him, as always, by massaging his feet. He would have
preferred her to massage something else, but his parents slept in
the adjoining room.

Today looked like a better than average day for Karl. They were
rehearsing a new play today, The Vampire's Feast, and he was playing
the Vampire.
Today, they would rehearse the scene where the Vampire took control
of the headmistress of the ladies finishing school.

Breakfast was typical, eggs and ham with bread and milk. His
father had been away overseeing the loading and departures of their
ships for the last week, but his mother greeted him at the
breakfast table. Both he and his Mother were in short undertunics,
while the maid wore her summer uniform. Karl was an only child; his
mother was unable to have children after bearing him.

After eating heartily, and kissing his Mother good-bye, Karl
headed to the theatre. Most of the rest of the cast was there
already. This play had a larger than usual ensemble,
because of the dozen women who played the school's students. The
actress playing the headmistress, Yvonne, had written the piece.
She was about as old as Karl's mother and an accomplished actress.
She was also a recent widow.

Rehearsal went well. Yvonne really got into her part, breathing
life into every line.
Baring her neck for Karl, and saying the line, 'My body is yours, my
Master.' really was a turn-on for Karl, but he did not know why. He
didn't find her particularly attractive, yet when she said that to
him, he did. Maybe because when he got close to her to 'bite' her
neck, he got a good look down her shift at her larger than average

Most of the rest of rehearsal time was spent with the other men
of the cast, as they tried to track down the Vampire's Lair. Karl
spent much of it chatting quietly with the young ladies of the
cast. They seemed interested in him. Yvonne joined into the
conversation from time to time, and showed the girls the proper
technique for loosening up before a show. Her experienced hands
easily relaxed Karl's tense neck and upper back.

After rehearsal, Karl went home for dinner. His Mother told him
about her rather dull day, and how the market had been out of the
small red potatoes. She had had to settle for large regular
potatoes for dinner. Karl didn't mind; he liked potatoes
in general. He liked most foods, actually.

And so, another few days and nights pass.....

* * * * * * * *

“It’s nearly sundown. I was about to fetch my dinner,” Shirah says shortly as the door opens and the shadow falls across the floor of the shop. She looks up from where she sits on a simple stool before a table, grinding with mortar and pestle. Getting a glimpse in the fading light of the angry wreath around the neck of the young man in the doorway, she adds more gently, “Never mind. You’d better come in.”

Jhen, as she learns his name from his tale, obediently sits on the edge of the raised pallet she steers him toward and tilts his head back. She squats on her heels in front of him, a woman in man’s clothing, and raises the thick beeswax candle to fully illuminate his neck.
“Hmmm,” she murmurs, then leans forward to sniff at it, frowns, probes lightly with her fingertips along the tattoo. How
long since Dreth had her prepare ointment for him? Not that long, she thinks; if memory serves the moon was at first quarter and it’s not yet turned new again. She’ll have to check her notes, but she’s sure this is the boy’s fault, not the artisan’s.
“Well you got here quick enough, I’ll give you that much.
But that’s all. Did you follow Dreth’s instructions? It’s not covered, I see. Use the ointment he gave you? No, I didn’t think so. He gets it from me,” she adds at Jhen’s look of surprise.

She moves across the room to a large table and soaks a scrap of thick clean cloth in liquid. Jhen jumps and yelps at the sting as she begins to clean the tattoo.
"It’s not poison. It kills the poison that’s trying to grow in
there. So does the ointment you didn’t use,” she adds pointedly.

“Why do you do this, anyway?” she asks as she cleans, ignoring her patient’s continued mewls and squeaks.
“Oh, I know why,” she continues, cutting off whatever answer Jhen might have supplied.
“It’s still stupid, though. But if you had to do it, at least you had the sense to go to Dreth. Have more sense and take care of it properly, can you do that?”

Finished, she tosses the used cloth in a basket in a corner. Back at the table, she reaches for more cloth, water kept warm on a brazier, picks through bowls of herbs and selects. In minutes she returns to Jhen.
“This won’t sting. This will feel better,” she says at his start, and lays the poultice all along the tattoo. Wisps of pungent steam rise up around Jhen’s face.
“Hold that there,” she says shortly, placing his hands.

She sits at the table, which Jhen now sees is covered with piles of handwritten notes, inkpot, bundles and bowls of herbs, vials of unidentifiable liquid, mortar and pestle, sewing gut, needles and assorted sharp instruments, concoctions in various stages of preparation. The disarray is deceptive; she knows exactly where to find exactly what she wants. More herbs hang in bunches
from the ceiling. Others are ranked on shelves along the walls, these bottled and labeled neatly with symbols rather than words. The small front window is full of bunches of fresh plants, tied and arranged more attractively for sale, along with bottles of tinctures and extracts, jars of ointments and cosmetics, powdered mixtures both culinary and medicinal, and assorted charms against
everything from pregnancy to possession by wicked spirits (much the same thing, in Shirah’s opinion). The air inside the shop is dry, spicy and sharp, insulated against the outside street. The bustle is susurrous, the occasional shout muffled.

“Jhen?” she confirms, scratching pen against paper.
“Family name?” and adds that, feeling a flutter of nervousness in her belly. Her proficient treatment of Karthansa’s son can serve to raise her in that woman’s estimation; the opposite could see her tossed outside the city walls as an undesirable half-breed, skilled healer with inherent Elven talent or no. Shirah the Healer
is respected enough, but Shirah the Anything Else is generally not, and not in certain circles regardless. Not that she ever treats anyone as well as she is able, but she doesn’t need Karthansa speaking against her when her half-wit boy got himself in here to begin with.

Bollocks politics anyway! she thinks, and continues scratching at the paper, silent. Her memory is excellent – a walk through the streets of Septimus is more a moving catalogue of maladies and calamities than a procession of people she knows – but she keeps meticulous notes nonetheless.

Finally removing the poultice, she probes at his neck again.
“That should have got it. This,” holding another of the ointment Dreth originally gave him, “use it this time. All of it, whether the tattoo seems healed or not. Keep it clean. Three times a day. Wash it, put the ointment on, wrap it, with these.”
Holds up more cloths. “Do it an extra time if you decide to dive into a midden heap or something. Don’t dive into midden heaps. If it still feels hot to touch it in two days’ time, come back.”

She wraps the cloths and ointment into a neat bundle, hands them to him.
Formally, she says,
“Kindly pass my greetings along to your mother. I may call
next week to see if she needs more of the ointment for you.” There.

“I don’t suppose you have money to pay me?” she asks, sardonically hopeful.
“Ten silver pieces. Or I take foo—thank you.” The silver earns Jhen a small smile that doesn’t quite touch her green eyes.

She ducks into a curtained-off back room, emerges with a cloak, and ushers Jhen out of the shop ahead of her. She locks the door and turns to nod a curt farewell to her patient, sees him already ten paces gone. Wisps of straw-colored hair escape from its thick pinned-up braid and her cap, turn briefly to gold as the last of the light catches it. She moves lithely down the street, adopting her usual invisibility – pretend you are, and you are – and is satisfied that she is generally ignored. The few who do acknowledge her do so
cursorily – she is no one to pass the time of day with. Dislocated shoulder, she catalogs as she passes one man. A pox, but it didn’t scar too badly. Childbed fever. Fractured thigh, that was an ugly one, wonder if he’s learned not to stand up on moving wagons when he’s been too deep in the alepot, as she passes other townsfolk. No, she corrects herself: Roasted chicken, a flask of wine, perhaps some fresh bread this late in the day? She continues toward the inn of her choice, a boyishly-built woman not in skirts and easily
mistaken for a young man, belt at her waist holding sheathed short dagger, purse and small bag of herbs, dyed with the identifying snake totem of apothecary and surgeon. Toothache. Night terrors. One fracture and gash after another, and if she’s really falling down stairs and walking into doorjambs I’ll eat my boots…

* * * * * * * * *

It was a normal day like any other in Septimus...

People were going about their business at about 2 hours before mid-day.

Suddenly there is an amazingly loud 'gong!' noise from NorthWest of
the city, and something falls thru the sky and into the ground
within and around Septimus...a vast, glowing purple light.

Some of it falls thru people, not harming them....but surprizing
everyone, both them and everyone around them. it doesn't matter
whether they are inside or out, it ends up having fallen thru about
1 out of every 3 Septimus citizens

When it fell thru, it felt briefly cold with an electric tingle
up and down the spine a few times, but then that faded away.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Karl looked into the young girl's eyes. "You are mine now. Your
blood shall be my food." She responded, "I shall be your food."
The director interupted, "No, Phoebe, more breathy, more dazed." She
responded in a slightly miffed voice, "I am doing the best I can."

Karl started again, "You are mine now." Before he could get out the
second half of his line, the purple light streaked through the
area. It hit both Phoebe and Yvonne as well as Karl.

Karl felt chilly, kinda cold. Then strangely, he felt this weird
feeling, like tiny pinpricks, going up and down his back. He wasn't
sure what the heck was going on.

The director, Melvin, a slightly overweight man about 40 years old,
spoke. "Is everyone OK?"

Karl nodded, as did everyone else in the cast. "I felt slightly
strange for a few moments," said Yvonne. "Me too." added Phoebe and
Karl together. "Let's take a short break," said Melvin. Everyone
went to sit down and relax.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Dreth looked up as the light changed around him. The wide brim of the
black leather hat he wore kept his eyes in shadow, but this sudden
change seemed to stab him through the center of his being.

"I shouldn't have traded shots with Garren last night," he thought. And as the sounds around him registered, he left off haggling with the tinker, over the wire he and his partners needed for needles, he looked up farther.

Brilliant purple light was falling from the sky, like shards of
brittle-edged glass. As it fell towards the city, people scrambled to
get out of the way, some pushing others to the ground.

"It's a mage attack!" The tinker swore, diving for cover under the table cluttered with pots, pans, and metal trinkets.

Dreth reached out to help a young boy who had pushed aside, and the boy lashed out at him with his hand, scratching the inside of Dreth's
forearms with jagged nails.

"Good thing I have no tattoos there," Dreth thought, as he let the boy stumble away.

He looked up again, letting his hat fall off his head and hang suspended from the thong around his neck.

The light falling towards them seemed to move too slow to be light, and too fast to be solid. And it was definitely too much of either to be a spell, not to mention an attack spell.

The first of the shards struck, and people screamed as it passed through them. Yet Dreth saw nothing to warrant the screams, as they did not seem to be wounded, they were not changed, and they didn't even seem to be in pain. Besides, the light was pretty, as if Irisia had broken a rainbow into pieces and scattered it upon the people to spread her hope and joy.

Dreth looked up again, and saw the shard falling directly toward him.

"Oh, good," he said. And the shard struck him on his bare chest,
directly in the middle of the symbol of Irisia tattooed by master-Priest Pharrion.

And it passed through him, leaving behind a sensation that was not
unpleasant. In fact he thought it felt kind of like when he saw someone he was attracted to.

With that thought, he scurried over to help a young man who had been
knocked into the potter's stall, and was in pain from being cut by the broken shards.

Both Dreth and the young man would need to see a healer anyway. Dreth
for the scratches on his arm, and the young man for his cuts.

The day wasn't starting out as bad as he had thought.

* * * * * * * * *

The colorfall lasted for about 3 minutes....

In the Droll Dragon, Zanadrim went around the bar, waking up those
who had spent the night drinking,, unofficial sleep-overs. Suddenly
the dark inside of the tavern was brightly illuminated with flashes
of purple light as bright shards of color came thru the ceiling and
then went thru the floor.

"What the Fark?*" said Zanadrim, almost rearing. Then one of them
passed thru him, chilling to the bone briefly, followed by an
amazing number of tingles up and down both of his backs.
The light-show continued for a time, then all was dark again.

All around Septimus, the 'colorfall' stops, and people variously
recover or panic, even though there's no real damage. As a few
minutes pass, some of those that were struck (including all the
PC-s) feel a warming sensation, that quickly becomes a brief burn-
feeling (for about 1/2 a second) and a dark magenta fog hovers near
them, lit by orbiting bright purple sparks (for about 2 minutes).
Then for some of the people ( about 1/2 of those hit, but none of
the PC-s) the sparks whirl around them faster and faster, and their
forms become brighter and brighter as they start screaming
mindlessly (for about 15 seconds), and their forms collapse in on
themselves shrinking steadily. Then the glows stop and little wisps
of steam rise from the piles of ash here and there thruout the city.
For the rest of those who were hit...the fog and the sparks fade a
bit, but are still recognizably there...

"Farkin' Ay!" says Zanadrim, looking around at the inside of the
tavern whose lurid source of light is him.
"Why'd it haveta be purple!?"

As he continues his clean-up routine, he becomes aware of a kind
of 'mental itch'....

* Fark is a Goddess of purposeful mistakes, she maliciously seeks to
ruin everyone's work, mortals, elementals, even other gods. Think of
her as a pernicious cross between Murphy/Finagle, Loki, and
Loviatar. Most sailors include her in variety of 'new' words
like 'Situation As Normal, Farked Over Beyond All Hope'

* * * * * * * * *

“All the brightest blessings, again,” Shirah murmurs
again, then closes the door behind her with relief.
Stopping only long enough to buy a simple breakfast
that she eats while walking, she walks tiredly toward
her shop and home. Trying to rub the grit of
sleeplessness from her eyes, she begins thumbing
through her mental filing system, looking for
something that proves her theory that babies do, in
fact, intentionally choose to begin their arrival
process when normal people would be sleeping.

Turning into her own street, fumbling for her key,
purple descends into her vision, inundating everything
around her, seeming to permeate her own body. She
stops short, jolted by a feeling of ice all through
her, followed by what seems to be fire running up and
down her back. What…? In the time that the purple –
purple? – glow lasts, she has time to see it cutting
through the people in the street around her.

I’m more tired than I thought, she thinks, walking
toward her door again. But no…whatever that was, it
was real. Folk in the street are dazed, clinging to
each other, one young girl running aimlessly circles,
a man obviously her father trying to calm her down.

Only barely able to see through the red fog that now
engulfs her, she watches in disbelief as the young
girl condenses - how does a person condense, she
thinks wildly – and disappears in the sparks she
herself is trying to see through. Disbelief changes
to horror as more follow, leaving piles of
greasy-looking ashes.

A woman careens into her, wailing toddler clutching
her legs. “Help us!” the woman screams.

“But I don’t –“ Shirah begins and breaks off,
confused, firmly holding the woman to steady her. She
closes her eyes, trying to collect herself, then
wishes she hadn’t. The windows behind her eyes, the
warmth infusing her body, are maddeningly familiar.
The yellow light seems to beckon, to invite her touch
it again and again, drawing her more surely than the
confused and frightened cries of the townsfolk around

No! These people need help, get it together, girl!

She forces her eyes open to see Dreth, injured young
man in tow, barreling down the street toward her.

* * * * * * * * *

As he continues his clean-up routine, Zanadrim becomes aware of a
kind of 'mental itch', constantly there at the 'back' of his mind.

Finally frustrated, Zanadrim tries to 'ground', and in the process
closes his eyes. With eyes closed, Zanadrim sees a view as if he
were in some building, somewhere, looking at a corner wiht two
windows looking out on dark fog. The pane of the window to the left
is covered with hordes of tiny little bugs...most of them are grey,
but some are grey with pinkish edges, the four near the very top of
the window pane are faintly glowing magenta, and the one at the top
is simultaneously glowing magenta brightly and somehow Zanadrim also
recognizes it as himself!

'This is the strangest daydream I ever.....' he thought.

The window pane to his right had bigger 'bugs' on it, 5 black ones
in the bottom third, then 6 pale yellow ones in the middle third,
and 1 bright yellow one in the top third.

'What in the Farking world....?' Though he had no hands, Zanadrim
felt as if he could somehow 'touch' these window panes. Reaching
out, he 'touches' the bright yellow big bug, and as it fades to pale
yellow the whole vision begins to fade away.

Zanadrim opens his eyes and shakes his head. Going outside, several
women shreik and leap back as he comes out the door. He sees Lucky
scooping up a pile of ash.

"Humans!" Zanadrim trots over to Lucky's side.
"Whatcha doin', Luck?"
~~"<ahem!> Cleaning up the remains... Do you know what that is?
~~ Those little purple sparks?"
"Fark, no! Do you?"
~~"No, I guess no-one does...<sigh!>
~~"What am I doin', huh? I don't know how to break this to ya',
~~ big guy, but just a little while ago, some of the people who
~~ were glowing kinda like you are now... they started glowing
~~ brighter and screaming, and then they melted down into these
~~ piles of ash, all over town. So, some people are kind of afraid
~~ of all you glowing people, now."

"Ha! Past performance is no indication... and all that! I don't know
what this is, Luck, but it kinda feels good. Why aren't you araid?"

~~"I'm the son of a glitch, remember? The worst thing that could
~~ ever happen to me occurred at my birth, so I aint afraid fo
~~ anything! Be horrid if the only tavern in town that lets me run a
~~ tab changed hands, tho..... can't you find out what that is?"

"Well.....maybe." Carefully Zanadrim sat down, and grounded again,
closing his eyes. It wasn't as automatic this time, but then it
didn't feel like an 'itch' either. On his fourth try to 'touch'
(roll = 18) the last Yellow Bug he'd 'touched', Zanadrim succeeded.
Mentally, he shouted: 'I'd like to re-name that 'Inner View',
please!?' A small bug split off of it and stepped to the side.
Zanadrim could just make out 'Inner View' printed on it in tiny,
tiny letters.
'Wonder what that means...'
Humming to himself, Zanadrim chose to 'touch' one of the other pale
yellow bugs...and it glowed bright yellow, just as Zanadrim was
suddenly able to see the front of an alley-side tattoo-art-place
that he knew was about 800 feet away. Carefully, he looked around,
and discovered that he could see as if face-to-face anyone or
anything that was upto a thousand feet away. Zanadrim 'touched' it
again, and it faded to pale yellow again.
'Rename that one 'farsight', please!' He 'touched' 'inner sight'
again and the whole thing faded away, leaving him looking at an
astouded Lucky and crowd of bystanders.
"What's up?"
~~"You started glowing brighter again, but you survived! It just
faded away!!!"

* * * * * * * * *

Dreth had underestimated the young man's injuries. A knock on the head seemed to have rendered him unconscious, so Dreth was carrying the man over his shoulder, heedless of the blood dripping down his chest and back.

He avoided the piles of silver ash on the street, with the nagging
thought that he had missed something important. In turn he was avoided by the few people on the street, although they gave him wide-eyed stares that annoyed him.

"Haven't you ever seen tattoos before?" he snarled at an older man who flattened himself against a wall to avoid Dreth.

Just then he rounded the corner and saw Shirah standing in front of her shop, a hysterical woman clutching at her.

"Nice body paint," he told her, not able to summon any humor into his
voice. "Didn't know you were into that."

Shirah doesn't even crack a smile, not that Dreth expects her to.

Across the street from Shirah, Dreth, etc, a faintly purple-glowing
woman suddenly shreiks, glows brighter, and stands up!
"The three ancient spirits have been freed, and now
ply their horrid plays upon poor mortals again! Beware!! This
choosing is but the prelude! The enemies of the purple spirit shall
attack Septimus and only those chosen by the purple spirit have a chance to repel them!
Beware! Honor the chosen, or flee for your lives!!!"
and she faints.

Dreth looks at the woman. "Drama queen."

"Huh," Shirah says shortly. "Well, get him in here,"
and she opens the door to her shop, expecting Dreth to
follow, carrying the injured young man inside.
Assuming he'll assist as she smoothly slides into
crisis response, she raps out while reaching for
supplies, "That woman, any other injured people out
there, get them in here for me while I get started on
him. Worst ones first. Please," she adds.

Turning to look at him briefly as he's headed back
out, she says quietly, "Did you know you're still
purple? It faded from the other people, but you're
still glowing."

Dreth noticed the bright purple glow for the first time. "Huh. This is so not my color." The tingling-buzzing got worse, and he grabbed the doorframe with one hand.
He tried to shake the feeling away, to focus on the stricken people
outside, but that only seemed to make it worse. He plodded forward,
ignoring the weird image that kept trying to overwhelm his sight.

It's not until she starts to closely examine the young
man's injuries that she notices she her own hands are
faintly glowing purple as well.

As she starts to work the itch to one side of her mind
becomes more noticeable, first cutting into her
concentration, growing stronger as it pushes to the
forefront. One of the windows is persistent, pulsing
just behind her eyes. She shakes her head sharply,
annoyed, trying to shove it back again. Cleaning one
particularly deep and jagged cut, she is shocked to
see the aura around her hands increase and pulse with
the window in her head, and the edges of the wound
draw toward each other and fuse, far more seamlessly
than she could ever hope to stitch.

She draws up abruptly and looks at her hands. What
did that woman say? Horrid plays and chosen ones to
fight? She lets out a perplexed 'whuff' of air as
Dreth returns with someone else from the street
outside. She merely raises her eyebrows, waits for
his assessment of this new patient and what remains
outside while she continues working on the one she
already has, but it is clear from her expression that
she is troubled.

Dreth sank against a bench. The glowing windows overwhelmed him.

He glared at the window panes in frustration. As interesting, and very intriguing, as the image was, he felt drawn to help the people outside.

"Ok, puzzle," he muttered to himself. "Let's see how you like this."

He started trying to move the darker roundels around, ignoring the
glowing ones for now. "If it glows, leave it alone," Master-Priest
Pharrion had told him time and time again. "Except as a last resort."

The roundels in the left pane seemed to be on the other side of the
glass (or whatever it was). The bright roundel at the top was familiar, and Dreth got the perception that it was somehow was supposed to represent him.

The right pane was different. These were more like cabochons of stone or gemstone, and he could touch them. He didn't notice anything happening when he touched one or two, but when he reluctantly touched one that was glowing faintly, he could feel Shirah doing something. There was also a strange sense of nausea, of walking, of perplexed frustration... and all of them felt like different people.

He also suddenly got a flash of seeing a street-scene, a few streets away.

He finally touched the bright yellow cabochon, and the entire image
faded away. He looked up to see Shirah staring at him.

* * * * * * * * *

Karl had been nearby and had heard the woman's seeming rant about
the purple spirits. He wasn't sure what to make of it, but at least
he felt OK. ~ At least I'm not ash. ~ He shuddered at the thought.

If this has entertained you at all, or if you have wondered about what it might be like to write a character in this kind of story, I encourage you to e-mail raxivar@y ahoo! dot-com (only edit it better) {subject = 'Joining 2nd Xtranj?'}.

April 9th, 2005, 04:09 AM
135 people looked, no-one replied, no-one ever e-mailed me....you guys can wipe this whene'er ya need the space....