The Territorial War

A Homebrew / In Development game In the world of Miranse
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Sessions Archive

23rd May 2020

T W: Session 00 -- Mulling Things & Wine

Arch-Shadows left the Cistern in an excited seethe. They were as animated as such beings ever got. The reason: The sole Drowse had been made a Netherjinn – all charges substantiated. Tar Kiln – a criminal.         To be made a ‘jinn was a punishment handed down once an Age. Its rarity more a fact of the lack of criminals special enough to demand the sentence than any reluctance on the part of the judges to it deliver it.         Lesser shades – Chiterns, Sispers, Reliquaries and Leanings all felt at least somewhat better off than the one who had been deemed, Substantial.         The merest of Wisps departing the tribunal, could well imagine the hardships of losing their ephemera and shauric gifts.         For Kiln, to be made part of the firmament was undeniably terrible. Tar Kiln would never be less than part of Shadow’s domain but he would never again be allowed the gifts that came with being a denizen. It would be better if he’d been an outcast. Kiln might have gained some bitter resolve from that. Shadow did not cast him out. Instead he would be at any of Shadow’s beckoning call. A servant to any shadowling who might have need of him.         Taken to the Lintel, this last member of the Turnal Drowse was flayed. His carapace stripped from him by experts in their field. His hands clenched and his mouth formed curses. These dreadful words, made his captors flutter gently in acceptance that his oaths were proof of the effectiveness of their works upon his body. Once his outer mantle had been taken from Kiln, his ephemeral body was left to coalesce. Turnal had always been able to take a non-ephemeral form when they had wanted so this process was short.         Kiln’s clenched left hand retained his carapace’s thumb’s tip and second knuckle. His captors’ work had been less than complete. He knew that this oversight would be discovered. At the Lintel, truly exposed to feel the elements for the first time, Kiln shivered uncontrollably. Cold. It was a new sensation. Kiln, in particular, had always enjoyed new experiences. It might be his saving grace else he might well be driven to madness. All he could manage was to plant these two pieces of his true self on a passing shadowthrace and hope that the harmless thing might carry the last part of him away to the mortal worlds, away from where the rest of his epidermal layer was to be consigned to the hard-quench. That done, Netherjinn Kiln, immediately learned of a substantial state that mortals called ‘unconsciousness’.         _________________________________________________           Ice hung everywhere from the rigging of the Scanleer’s Pride. The ship creaked in protest at the extra weight and being asked to confront the harsh winds and violent, icy sea. The helmsman had bullied the crew into giving over both a warm, knee-length coat and an outer saltsheer to the ship’s only passenger. The latter was a waterproofed skin made into an overcoat that added dryness and a barrier to the cutting winds. No one onboard would wish the winds to lessen, as these drove the Pride ever-quicker to safe harbour at the town of Staves on the Territorial coast. It was worth risking the storm’s power to get to Staves sooner. Now somewhat better protected from the punishment of the weather, Baltazar managed to look ahead to landfall. The navigator had prophesised that the journey would end today or at the latest just hours after nightfall.           Late in that evening, the helmsman’s stare began to bother Baltazar so much he had to lift himself from the smooth stones of the beach and leave the man’s drowned, stiffening corpse behind. Baltazar’s first thoughts were of living through the night. Staves might be miles or only a few hundred paces away but in the bleak night he had no idea what direction to set out in. Disorientation was not his chief worry — surviving was. Trees had been knocked over by nature’s command to the wind to deliver its lashes. Baltazar managed to move between them until he found where some of these fallen trunks had form a haphazard shelter by the way they had been downed. He gave no thought to the precarious balance the tree trunks might have achieved. It was enough that they provided respite from the weather’s worst.       Fire. Fire would be good. Food could wait. Baltazar had wretched earlier. The sea’s taste hadn’t agreed with his stomach. He grew colder even though the trees hunched over him. Apart from the saltsheer coat, all his garb was sopping. The fire kit that had been recommended to him refused to work. He was sure that the best bits of bark the sheltering trunks had provided were dry enough to take spark. It was his flint and steel that were refusing to do their assigned duties.     At the point of throwing the items away in frustration, he thought he saw smoke rising from his assembly of bark and twigs. Encouraged, he struck the flint to steel more vigorously. In his effort, Baltazar noticed rather later than he might have, that the smoke was far darker than smoke tended to be. When the ‘smoke’ formed a blackbird’s eye, Baltazar realised what he’d missed. His efforts hadn’t made smoke. Instead it was Shadowlight, now in the shape of an eye. The eye did not speak, Baltazar remembered later. That was a comfort, as magickal eyes often did speak and it was unnerving to consider where the eyes’ voices came from. ‘Baltazar’s eye’, followed nature’s decree that mouths were the objects given to making pronouncements. All this shadowy eye did was to look in a direction. This was where Baltazar’s eyes looked as well. On the uprooted earth lay two items. They were both fashioned of the same deeply, coloured metal. Small objects, each was less than the length of a man’s extended finger. Hollowed tubes, almost wearable as rings although they’d be quite a bit bolder than some would choose to wear.       Baltazar didn’t wonder at the magickal eye’s appearing as it did. Strange weather often produced these kinds of occurrences... It did in the tales he’d been told by his uncles, at least. ‘Nature likes to remain even-handed’, they had told him. His hope of surviving used the words as inspiration as he set to striking the strange, metal rings together. It only took two strikes. Baltazar was in the motion for a third and beyond when the second produced more than the fiery spark he tried for.       There was fire. A small but strong fire that lit the ‘tree house’ and brought immediate warmth. That was good. With little thought, Baltazar slipped the metal tubes on to his thumbs. He’d been shown diagrams of Tighan archers that used something similar, to draw bowstrings. He might as well look the part, even if his archery was only new to him. He’d have to figure out what to say when somebody asked why he wore them on both hands. Claims of ambidexterity would have to wait because brought into being by the striking of the two ‘rings’ together was also a form. It was more than an odd shadow cast within the dancing flames. Larger and more menacing it grew upon the fire until the shadow coagulated into the shape of a person.       The benighted form stepped from out of the firelight, taking the shape of a mortal and Baltazar learned as the ‘man’ announced itself that it was called, Kiln and that he was cold and that he would share the heat of the fire with Baltazar until the day should dawn and that they might as well speak together until then and did Baltazar have any decent wine…

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