S.A.S: Session 6 -- Epilogue
Session 6: Epilogue
At A CrossroadsEminence, I desire that Luck shackles itself to your wrists and that every game you play is golden. Not to forget that winning the throw can be more important than the token amount earned from your prey? You see? I remember your teachings well! My mission to educate continues. I have tried to teach the reliant ones that Luck observes those most able to appreciate it. At the same time, I have continued to educate myself about these, encased artefacts you have sent me after. The objects, whether sphere or hand or whatever, have until now been easy to get a whiff about but elusive in their laying down a scent I could track. That changed today. My latest stalking on Axildusk began as the other times I have come here. I bypassed the Verges and came to Atrix as you taught me. A tremendously useful casting you gave me! The necklace you lent me has proved to add to my own powers as you said it would. I have low-growled in pleasure from time to time, at the strength I am saved in using it. The calash beads seem to retain a bit of their strength even after their use? Is this something you are aware of, Eminence? The city is much as I had last left it; Shadowed and ripe with the abundance of hides from which to spring from. The one notable change is the appearance of a being named Sybermane. I have noted his scent and his main followers in the scratch-patch I send with this message. To look at he is nothing more than a rogue of our world. The few other horse-like rogues I have met or read about have been fast movers and occasionally capable of being useful for moving heavy things around. Not much else. This Sybermane, is quite different. He shows some skills in defending himself: his hands and feet become pure when he wills it and he can violently stroke those he feels deserve it. He has a signal! It is hidden by the hand of I know not but it is there when he calls upon it. As an aside, the signals of the other Races appear to be few among the mortals. So far this question still seems to be answered that the Humans, Cleftyck and Vast are without. They admit this failure by their use of what they refer to as attenuators. Even with this, they barely do so despite the greater strength available through the use. Sybermane’s is hidden. Twice he has revealed it. Both times I saw it, he sent it spiralling through the air to rend my followers. It strikes me that there is some similarity between this and the Vestigial Chaerin. In some ways he bears some qualities they have but he has no hallmarks of their kind. He has not proclaimed to be a Chaerin either, which my teachers have told me they are commonly known to do. Either this Sybermane lies in wait with this knowledge because he is a deceiver and strange among his kind, or he’s an outcast, or he doesn’t have a connection to the Chaerin other than shared traits. Sybermane has a business in the city. He stalks for money. A common enough occupation for rogues. Tebbaren makes many fine stalkers that operate on the other worlds! He has a couple of followers. One is female. I have questioned some locals and she is thought to be desirable in her age and gait. Humans are always hard to know this about as they try to deceive with their diet, clothings and flower-scents. She seems to be attractive and ready for cubs without much need for these coverings. She is called Trance. Sybermane shows an interest in her despite their differences but I see no sign of them being a bonded pair. Perhaps it is her dark pelt on her head that he admires? It is similar to his own. His other follower is more interesting. This one’s name is Tar Kiln. He names himself this and as a Drowse. Eminence, you have hinted that there are those who might be hidden from our senses. When I asked how our greatest stalkers might by fooled, you said that I should think on how a scent could best be masked. I had no correct answer that day. The other students got a good laugh! Now I wonder if I have the answer. If one lies dormant long enough, maybe all trace is cleansed by the passing of time? I say this, as this Drowse claims to be a rogue of his kind, awakened from a sort of lengthy hibernation begun before the before. The Ursans and Saursans share this trait of sleep but never have I considered that a race could sleep beyond waking! If it is true, then surely the Drowse must be considered a potential new Race? Not much to worry over as he is alone. His manner is respectable — much more so than Sybermane’s — as this Kiln shows no interest in an occupation. What he does seem to lower his head to, is strength. My talk to him revealed him to be friendlier once he knew of my items. Someone who acknowledges strength is one worth inviting to the table, yes? Maybe this is Sybermane’s take on Kiln too. They don’t seem to act as long time companions do. They share some abilities with Shadow. This, I think, has brought them together and they have decided to stay by one another. Shadow does seem to collect such. I still struggle to detect where Shadows end and darkness and verges take over! Our first meeting was minor but annoying as my plans were disturbed by their actions. Even though he was not given payment, Sybermane moved to foil my actions. I was able to talk sensibly with him and Kiln and they left off their inappropriate actions. I commanded mister Gnash to gather his pack. It was my plan to have Sybermane leave Atrix. To that end, I sought the fiery destruction of his home. Then I would arrive to offer comfort and a better dwelling on our world. My thought being that once there, you could determine more about his unique character at your convenience. Things got in the way of my plan. Things occurred in rapid pace, one after another, I could see that others had plans as well. It would be fair to say that as I was last to the table my cards were not as strong as Sybermane’s. However, it isn’t Sybermane that most concerns me but Gnash. Gnash must be cornered. His actions were out of hand. He summoned the Three. I don’t know where he gained the Lopes attention but tellingly he made the comment that he was, “... not a follower but a slave.” Gnash’s kind are known to chafe at being collared so I find this most disturbing. The records tell of the Three Lopes but I can say upon my wealth that they are stronger than described, Eminence. That would be an ending to most messages to you. Far enough to be worried about and chewing on... However, the Three are almost insignificant to those that next appeared. Gnash had brought the Three to deal with a woman. She used a strange casting power which being unknown to me, I hope you will forgive me for not noting her obvious importance at first. Regardless of how this caste power works, she was able to mask her age and true appearance. Before she revealed herself she smelled of liniments for the ache of bones and herbal drinks. Her skin was creased and dry, like those readying for the Hunter. Her movements were those of a target to be separated from the healthy. In a caste moment she threw off this infirmity and became youthful and full-blooded. Gnash must have sensed even more with that nose of his. It was due to this that he wasted no time in bringing the Three. I haven’t had time or truly the ability to question Gnash about his actions. He and I were separated by events. Through the course of this, I was stood near to Sybermane but not to Kiln. He has a way of separating himself from the pride. I think it is intentional. As I was close to hand, I heard Sybermane whisper some words of meaning. The result was staggering. I wonder even as I record my thoughts... From an entrance way stepped a figure of myth — The Jackal! His container rests in your possession, Eminence. I remember your efforts to reveal the container’s contents. The deceptive writings were impossible to decipher. Your Luck never seemed to be enough when it came to the black box. Now I know It is empty for sure, as the Jackal is not far from where I lay recording this message. He is not a rakshahasa so I will not be too impressed by him. Saying that, he is mighty. He reveals his power without bluff. You have taught us that any that do this must be respected. He calls himself Anubis-Set. Kiln and Sybermane acted deferentially and as though they knew him. The Jackal’s confident manner was like a player who has so much wealth that he will cover any wager, even when he has small chance of winning. He acted much like he owned the the big-table. The manager arrived and then revealed that he was in actuality a man known as Benedict. He brought others who are members of his family to stand beside him. One of feral stance was called, Brand and a youth not long grown out from being a cub called, Julian. This last one knew the Jackal from some old rivalry. This let me see that these brothers must be quite powerful, at least as powerful as the young woman who they also called family. She they called, Deordragh. It was at near enough to the same moment that this family arrive and Sybermane had brought the Jackal, that one of the high spires appeared on another side of the courtyard we were standing in. He called himself Bastion. I do not know where he ranked among the Black spires. He was surely confident and as one with his Colour, difficult to understand. I prefer my riddles to be of what nature the next few cards will turn out to be, rather than seated at a game so vaguely played as to be unsure of the rules of the game! Bastion seemed intent on the Jackal. We others he barely observed. This confirmed my thoughts as to the relative strength of the Three Lopes and the ‘Black Jack’. Behind Bastion it was evident that his demense was available to him. Anubis-Set had no apparent recourse of this kind. He had made a point of stepping across the threshold and standing on the demense of the Three Lopes earlier. His actions seemed to show that he was impressed by this other plane. As to Bastion’s demense, Anubis-Set revealed no interest at all. These were my observations as they happened. Now I am forced to re-think these ideas. Anubis-Set has a large demense of his own. I think he might have only been testing the Lopes’ plane in some caste way. Hard to know, as the ‘Jack’s’ legend grants him many winning ploys. Bastion seemed to show concern with the Jackal’s dismissive nature. He summoned the Heartstone! He made a poor bluff to us that this was but a replica, but I know what I saw! I was shocked by Bastion’s play. The Jackal wasn’t. Somehow, he was able to produce the Skullstone to match Bastion’s lay down. He has already identified these relical things as important. What is more interesting is: what does this Primordial Vestigial see in them? Things didn’t escalate from that point — more that things exploded! Anubis-Set moved on Bastion having heard one warning too many. Bastion retreated to his demense. Clearly, Bastion must have known something of the Jackal’s strength. Despite Bastion’s mighty fortifications and his own hand upon its defence’s, he stood only briefly at his battlements, before toppling. The Jackal has given me new insight into the expression, “Divide and conquer.” A casting made the Jackal into a many versions of himself. Each moved as though they were heedless of the others, independent and real. I saw one stoop and take up a handful of Bastion’s plane. He let the earth sift between his long fingers. The earth fell from his black hand and turned from earthy tones to pale, desert sand. These streams of sand began to spin as they fell, becoming arrow winds that that howled at Bastion’s walls. Two other forms of the Jack moved on Bastion from different points. Another grasped the main gates and ripped them down with great protests from the surrounding stones. The fore court within showed some well armoured warriors covered in their metals and Black gifts. These were Bastions guards but if they were his best, they were not great enough to slow the Jackal for aught. They seemed to engage in a type of movement meant to deny the Jack. He seemed to only then acknowledge their efforts. His long chin touched his chest. In another it might be seen as a movement of deference or deep thought of contrition. If the Jack felt contrite I am dubious. What came of this pose denied this. From beneath his encrusted waistband poured forth palm-sized creatures. They had six legs, mandibles and their hardened shells shone like heart’s blood — deepest, crimson and wet. They were so many that while they didn’t voice a growl, their bodies rubbing against each other brought to mind, the crystal cards being shuffled by a sharp-clawed dealer! The sound of these creatures didn’t bring happy anticipation though... Bastion’s defenders didn’t have chance to move. Like water through an opening, the creatures rise from the defenders’ feet to their metal heads. Scarlet, shiny statues. Then they were gone. The Jack’s chin lifted. I saw him move a rod that he held as our Grand Chieftains do. His scarlet creatures responded as if guided by one thought. They formed themselves into a perfect circle and then became fewer, few -- one. It might be that they consumed each other? This seems needlessly wasteful so I am unsure. In the next moment, the Jack took up the circle and as he did it became a hardened disc that he placed at his forehead. Forgive my fancifulness, Eminence but it made me think of our warm sun as it sets; scarlet in its last light of day before night’s games begin. When I glanced again to Bastion he had already been taken. The Jack nearest his fallen body seemed to lack purpose now that the quarry had been downed. The others I stood alongside seemed enthralled. Benedict was taken by Anubis as hostage but allowed the others of this family group to depart. The Jackal seemed satisfied enough with the one rather than the rest… It was then that I decided to throw the dice and risk all! As the Jackal extolled his own power to us, I interrupted him to ask him straight to let me join him. He seemed in good spirits and told me to fall in with his other followers, Sybermane and Kiln. Then with some self-importance on display, Anubis-Set as I must call him now, created a passage for us to step from the world of Axildusk into his demense. He did not name it to us but once there I separated from the Jackal and spoke to some of his followers. These people were strangely detached. I can’t say what was the matter with them but they seemed to be in a kind of trance, They spoke of feeling odd so their condition was something that was known to them. They were able to tell me that Anubis-Set’s demense is called, Karnak. I will try to use this same method to let you know more as I learn of it, Eminence.
Character(s) interacted with
Larius -- copper of Atrix Manager -- Benedict Brand Julian Bastion Anubis-Set Kathadauk The Three Lopes -- Cur, Fenir, ______ .