[continued from last entry]
The next day Jin-La set forth to find Silver Sparrow. Meanwhile T’dara stayed behind to help throw a celebration for the Y’danese in thanks for their hospitality and to respect their gods and traditions. Ebai and Seventh Feather followed along with Jin-La but as he entered into the home of the old sorcerer they found their own means to entertain themselves, stumbling into an underground Gateway tournament where they met the Efreet lord known as Boiling Rhino. While they evaded getting in too deep in his affairs, Jin-La found that Silver Sparrow had one other interested student: Jade Mockingbird. Mockingbird had long been Jin-La’s rival and as the too bickered the old sorcerer made it clear he would only take one student. The first who could complete a task for him would awarded with instruction in the sorcerer’s ways. Their task was three fold: investigate an old demense a few days from Y’dana using no magic to find it, uncover its nature and purpose, and gather up its power and bring it back to Silver Sparrow.
Mockingbird wasted no time in leaving calling upon a flying cloud skiff from some relic in his possession. Jin-La rounded up his circle mates and headed off, not wanting to lose any time especially knowing how resourceful his rival could be. Two days passed as they traveled into the wild jungles off the inland coast finding the land poisoned by the Wyld more and more as they grew closer to the demesne. As they came upon the clearing it was in they found a great, twisted tree-like shape made of mud and clay like a ant hill formed in open air. As they approached a pack of guardian blood apes came upon them and Jin-La used his gifts as a Twilight caste to bind one and make it his familiar and convince the rest to stand down.
As they drew closer to the earthen structure stretching far into the sky they found many Naneke, 1st circle scholarly demons, studying the branches and watching their movements. As they entered inside they found the whole structure was mostly hollow and filled with even more demons. Dozens of Myrmele, demon-blooded ant lions the size of horses, moved about inside building the structure and birthing more of their kind. A veritable army of the beasts hanging like maggots from the inner walls waiting to take their final form. One such creature retched up some sickening bile upon Ebai to mark him as food, giving them all the feeling these creatures were little more than demonic animals but no less dangerous as result.
Questioning the Naneke they learned that the great demon mother Suondeka dwelt in the deepest recesses of the demense where the presence of the Wyld is at its strongest. As Jade Mockingbird had entered just as they had, the group all traveled into the depths together with Jin-La and Mockingbird exchanging barbs as the rest of the circle learned more about their rivalry and their past. When they finally reached deep, inner rungs of the structure they found the strong emanations of the Wyld had warped most of the demons in peculiar ways. As they watched from above they could see Suondeka herself, a massive millipede like creature with the torso of a chitin covered woman protruding from it where the head would be, coiled at the depths around what was the ruins of the manse that had once stood here. Now collapsed in upon itself as its essence flows had lingered uncapped so long they had given way to the nature of the Wyld itself.
Wasting no opportunity to incite trouble, Mockingbird attempt to trip Jin-La and send him spiraling down to Suondeka’s feet to start a commotion, knowing such an act might break the old oaths T’dara was invoking to allow them to enter and speak with the demon mother. Jin-La grabbed Mockingbird as he attempted this and both landed in the presence of the monstrous Suondeka who was not pleased to be disturbed by any humans. T’dara and the rest of the circle quickly intervened to keep the situation from turning into a fight and warned Mockingbird that if he tried anything like again it would be the last thing he ever did.
As they held her attention Jin-La studied the surroundings and found a way into the old chambers of the manse where he might find what he was looking for. Ebai followed along after him and as they descended into the ruins to come across an chamber deep below where the faded pages of a magical tome were scattered about that Jin-La realized had once been used to bind Suondeka and control her. Also in his room was a great ruby-like gem the size of a young man that caught Ebai’s eye. As he was drawn to he saw inside it the face of a djala woman begging to be freed and as Jin-La tried to make sense of the pages and begin making an effort to use them rebind the demon above his unseen companion pounced on the gem trying to pry it loose. As he did it tumbled from the inlay socket it was set into to the ground and curiously.
Things quickly got out of hand. As Suondeka sensed the book being touched she lashed out at the circle as their aggressive act shattered their Eclipse’s safe passage. She and her demon children began to attack the circle en mass. Meanwhile down below Jin-La was struggling to bind her essence back into the book when an entity released from the shattered gemstone passed into the book instead contesting with him for control of its magic.
Dozens of the maggot-like Myrmele burrowed into the chambers trying to reach the book while Seventh Feather and T’dara faced off against the demon mother and her grown up offspring. Seventh once again went toe-to-toe with a menacing threat while T’dara drove Suondeka’s offspring back, filling them with fear of her Steel Devil prowess. Mockingbird also assisted in this revealing he already possessed some knowledge of sorcery as he unleashed a Death of Obsidian Butterflies into the Myrmele then escaped down into the ruins himself.
Just as the young Myrmele broke into the chamber exposing a great hole into which Suondeka could see, T’dara threw herself in front of the mother demon to stop her from descending after her circlemate just in time Jin-La to shatter the will of the entity invading the tome and drive it out and into another relic and finish recollecting the pages and invoking their magic to bind Suondeka back into it, nearly exhausting himself in the process. The entire structure of the earthen hive began to violently quake and the circle quickly rushed to escape not knowing the fate of Mockingbird of what he was truly up to.
As they exited the hive it started to collapse in on itself and the Myrmele that had marked Ebai followed after them seeking a new ‘mother’ now that Suondeka was bound. One they had made their way out of the clearing they tamed the demon ant lion by way of the now bound Bloodape familiar of Jin-La who he had named Grimskull. T’dara was placed upon its back as the final blow from the demon mother had rendered her badly wounded. The circle then made the return trip back to Y’dana, catching a glimpse of Jade Mockingbird on his cloud skiff high above – knowing he had made it out. Jin-La realized he must have been after the relic he drove the gemstone entity into and cursed himself for not grabbing it in the commotion.
Back in Y’dana a few days later they arrived at the great gate leading into the isle of Ananda to find the Myrmele they brought with them could not pass its boundaries due to its demonic nature. Ebai has grown slightly attached to it and was trying to figure out what to do as it started causing trouble by toppling over a small hut nearby and gnawing at its walls. Not wanting to debate the matter Seventh Feather killed the beast and the barely conscious T’dara insisted they bring it into the city so she could cook it as a delicacy.
Jin-La returned to see Silver Sparrow and give him the tome, having completed the three aspects of his test but arrived to find that Sparrow had been attacked by an unknown assailant and claimed it was an assassin sent to put him down. Jin-La told the old man of what happened and what Mockingbird did and Sparrow advised him to be careful of that elusive bastard as he could be related to the attack on his life. Sparrow then began to initiate Jin-La in the ways of sorcery.
Meanwhile back at the temple-manse the rest of the circle came across Scurries and Fading Ember who had stayed behind. It seemed the generosity of the Y’danese was too much for him as even trying to bully them and steal for them backfired on him. So distraught was he had been avoiding anyone at all up until they left. However now when they came back he was acting like some kind of spiritual guru, and had amassed a small group of people who he was teaching the ways of the Fahr Fara. Ember found the whole situation to be rather amusing.
Jin-La sent word through Trailing Vapor, a spiritual ally of his, who informed the circle he was training with Sparrow and what had happened to the old man. Seventh Feather suspected Mockingbird was responsible and upon asking Trailing Vapor told the Dawn caste he could tell him more but first he would have to bring the one known as Ometia to justice.
Meanwhile Ebai went off seeking Boiling Rhino and found his encampment outside the temple gates. Rhino gave him a means to contact him if needed clearly having an interest in the young Night caste’s skills. As he was leaving a younger djala boy named Ithe found Ebai. Ithe had an interest in going to Champoor and heard Ebai was from there. He asked if he could tag along with the back to the Nighted City which Ebai didn’t see as an issue.
When Jin-La returned from his studies later that evening Seventh Feather told him of what Trailing Vapor had told them and overhearing their conversation Chanda mentioned she had heard mention of that name once out on the isle of Indamatu. Finishing up their bug-demon feast at the hands of their masteful Eclipse caste chef, the circle headed out that way.
There they came upon a graveyard amongst the rolling hills that lead up to timeless but well worn stone mausoleums from the distant First Age. Upon a recent grave marker they found the name Ometia and noticed one of the grave tenders watching them then turn and very stiffly walk away towards the masoleums. Ebai followed and witnessed that the grave tender was in fact a skeletal servant and that it along with several like it were carrying an iron coffin out to a small boat on the shores of the isle. Meanwhile back near the masoleum even more of these servants were gathered around The Beldame who was speaking in an unknown tongue to a young woman by the name of Ometia. The Beldame’s hand then turned into a twisted black claw and she tore the woman’s throat out, dropping her body before the entrance to the masoleum that opened into the long winding paths of the Labyrinth.
It was about this time the circle came up to engage with and speak to The Beldame, who had no reason to fight them and answered some of their questions regarding her presence in Champoor and now Y’dana. All of which she claimed was at the request of those who wanted to make arrangements with her master, one she referred to as The Howling Tempest of the Drowned Shores. As she walked away towards the boat, in the distance the could see a massive soulsteel ship on the waters a few miles out, a terrifying vessel The Beldame had called The Stygian Tyrant.
Turning back to the masoleum Jin-La noticed the young woman’s ghost was now begin drawn back into the Labyrinth by a spectre who had emerged to claim it. The circle inquired as to what value this woman’s soul had to the spectre as her ghostly form silently begged and pleased to be freed from its grasp but were only told she was given to the spectre as payment by The Beldame. Seventh Feather asked what it would cost to take her instead and the spectre told him it would cost thirteen more lives. Upon hearing that the circle realized it was not worth it to know what else the spectre may ask of the rest of them so realizing this ‘Ometia’ had gotten herself into this, they left the spectre to claim its soul and watched as the gate to the Labyrinth closed behind it before heading back to the temple-city on Ananda. Whatever the Deathlord and its servant were up to it was not something they were ready to face.