CAMPFIRE – Mechanics

September 15, 2017

The greaseweed charoot hung loosely in the corner of his mouth, captured but still able to move weakly whenever he spoke. His face was burried in the goggles that looked down at brass cases sized for his pistol and a ring of tiny shaped hammers posed above it. His hand hovered over a complex, poorly arranged keyboard of symbols and strange punctuation arranged in groups that implied cohesion but outwardly made no sense.

“I hate these old models. They’re always so…indiosyncratic.” His voice was once smooth, only now hardened by the constant smoking. Each syllable was puncuated by small bursts of black, oily smoke from his mouth or nose.

“I’m sorry, if I had known a connoseiur was coming I would have invented my own that’d make even less sense. You wanted a bullet press and I found one, got it working, and I’m working on your arm and leg. You could be a little thankful.” Her voice was almost melodic, as if someone who learned how to sing not with drums and strings but with the sound of brass on bronze and steel on iron. Someone who sung while they worked rather than while they played.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t thankful, I just hate what you found.”

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Thousands of years ago, a star fell upon the Earth. It was a black star, born of the infinite void and cold to its infinite depths.

Men sought out that star, brought it into their home, and formed it in their fires. They shaped and bent the star into a sword, though no matter how hot it was bathed it remained cold in its heart.

Great kings and warriors carried this sword, passing it from leader to leader, though it brought with it a curse. The sword sought the blood of men and it drank deeply. On the battlefield, the sword was a force of nature that destroyed armies without slowing. When it hung in peace, though, it drove those who carried it to madness and, eventually, death.

This sword crept through the world, seeking death and blood wherever it went. It was bent and broken, reforged and reformed numerous times. Every time seeking power and not understanding the price of blood. Eventually the sword became only known not by its many names but what it does – That Which Drinks Blood, or just the Drinker.

The sword fell from history but did not disappear. Its victims became those who were not known, those who were on the edges of the places where people lived.

Until the blade fell into the hands of Imanuel Kresk.

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The following is a transcript of the recent broadcast of “Run Up to the Monsterous Mansion Season 4”, the first episode in this season’s summer pre-show. It consists primarily of a conversation between the three hosts; Suzuki Omaya the show’s historical specialist on the mansion and previous seasons, Tom McCallister the color commentator for this season, and Greg Oyotonombe the magical arts specialist and contestant bio specialist. There are two on-the-ground reporters for the team, Maria Patel and David Silverman, who put together the bio packages and interviews for the show. Here they will be referred to as their first names.

In case this transcript skips dimensions like last year’s finale did due to the actions in the Second Foyer, a brief description of “Monsterous Mansion” – in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of the Paiute Protectorate and Confederacy a sorcerer that assited in the War of Resistance built a massive mansion complex in the mid-19th century that was slowly expanded either by his descendants or the Mansion itself. It is  a somewhat intelligent complex that housed the family for over 100 years. In 1997, the family was abruptly dislocated from the premises and sent to one of their European homes as the Mansion twisted itself into something dangerous but did not move beyond its own borders. No one yet knows what is wrong with the buildings themselves or why they would do this. After ten years of attempting to infiltrate the complex themselves and with professional help, including the shaman of the Paiute Protectorate, an agremeent was reached with the International Broadcasting Board to allow a competitive telescry show to be broadcast on restricted channels showing self-selected teams to breach the Mansion and attempt to repair or recover what they can. Cash prizes are offered as well as access to the family’s extensive artifact holdings. While these forrays can be deadly, resurrection has been unsealed for these contestants and the necessary materials have been provided by numerous organizations across the world, from the New England Freestates to the Flying Cities. Contestants only gain cash prizes and artifact access if they survive; otherwise they are resurected at the end of the season.

Here is the transcript –

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Drestin rotated the lock on his pipe with one deft hand, setting bowl sideways on the small table near his chair, and pulled a small leather pouch off of his belt. “Do you mind if I imbibe, zev?”

Hashim chuckled, “Yes, and there’s no reason to call me teacher anymore. Though it does warm my heart to know that you remember the Words of the Law still.” Hashim sat himself in another chair, opposite Drestin, and poured a small amount of a glassy, amber liquid for himself.

Passa, mouth still agape, stared at the two in turn. “You still haven’t explained what’s going on here. How is this man with mecka older than I am supposed to help with the Duke?”

Drestin looked up from his task of moving the black, tar-like substance from his pouch to the pipe. “Yes, Hashim. Now would be a good time to tell both of us about my task.” Looking at the mass for a second to appraise it, Drestin decided it was fine, used his hand to seal the pipe back up, and pushed a small artfully hidden button to light the greaseweed. A small, delicate sigh escaped him as he settled into the chair and a dark cloud already forming above them.

Hashim took a long, slow sip of his drink, leaned over his knees and held the glass in both hands. “Yes, Drestin, I suppose now is a good time to tell you about the zesh’desor, the blood-eater, that I asked you to come for.”

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A Long Road

May 26, 2017

Black, oily smoke poured from his nose as he sighed. The view from the end of the pass looked down on the foothills of the Tarthian mountains and seemed to frame the village of Missran perfectly. The steep peaks of the houses, the domed Temple of the Law set into the mountain herself, and the humming of the Machineshrine built on top of their modest Vent. The only reason this town was here.

His pipe hung loosely in his mouth, working around the grimace he carried from the extreme cold of the mountain. The spines of his mecka seemed to twist and grind in the cold lately and the weight bearing on his leg didn’t help. His arm, at least, he could carry in a sling.

He grasped he cart jerked his head a bit to his mecka cart and headed down the winding switchbacks toward Missran, a filmy haze of greasesmoke trailing behind him as if to warn the others out there. The others in the deep pine forests spotted with powerful redwoods that seemed to guard the woods.

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Whispers From The Past

January 17, 2014

Keton jumped over the low wall and sprinted quickly across the barren courtyard. Wreckage of the Old World littered the place – too dangerous yet, it seems, for any of the Folk to retake it. He could smell his charge inside though – ink and paper books, still at least partially intact, despite centuries of languish.

He skipped over a bench, almost rolled into a ball, with some kind of message woven into iron fibers that it had once been made from. Some message in Latin. It was hard to read, with only the “EST” still visible on the outside of the mass. Respecting the warning, he unbuckled the grip for his aether emitter, a glove-like device that was used not just to project certain tools useful for spelunking in the ruins of the Old World but also for defending himself against the many threats that live in the ruins and feed and unwary travelers.

A Librarian, however, was no unwary traveler.

Keton crept along the outside of a massive building he had followed the trail of books too. Both the smell of binding resin on the wind, faint but enough to track, and the subtle comfort of the books themselves. He could feel the resonant song of the knowledge contained within them, that special talent that selected the Librarians from all other Folk. Taking care to not get lost in the ecstatic song, he carefully pushed the doors open with his right hand, left hand slipping into the aether emitter and pressing the lock combination. The bonds quietly folded around his arm, locking into place like a gauntlet of brass and light. He quickly tapped in another code on the buttons, lighting up the nodes on the gauntlet like a torch. He raised his hand, fingers extended so the light filtered throughout the room. Illuminating rows and rows of rotten but only just books.

A treasure beyond imagining, a wealth of information of the Old World waiting to be reconstructed. Recorded. Preserved.

He sprung into action immediately, whipping a brown leather messenger’s bag to his feet and pulling out a contraption of arms and plates, filled with tiny intricate clockwork and a thrumming aether engine, whirring and spitting tiny jets of steam. He then pulled out a bottle from within the bag, a strange shaped bottle filled with the cleanest water, and poured it into the machine’s fuel port and stepped back, letting the strange machine unfold until it seemed like an open book, two big copper plates with a spine joining them, with several spider-like arms that ended with various aether tools specialized in the reconstruction and recording of the printed word.

He quickly set about carefully moving the less decayed works to the desk he had set the machine up on and stacked them near a large, padded claw on the back of the machine. It slowly grabbed on book at a time and the arms went into motion. They peeled away filth and brushed away dust. They spun with light and flashes of lightning, carefully restructuring the broken chemical bonds that were once pages and ink. Then a large lens would scan each page in less than a second while the other arms continued their work on the next page. Each book was placed back on the desk looking as it did when the library first received it, carefully recorded into the machine’s internal aether matrix.

Keton grew more and more excited the more books he saw placed down. All were medical texts, ancient troves of knowledge that the Clerics of Forest Paths would pay dearly for. That may save people and bring him both glory and recognition in the Order of the Sheltered Bower.

He dreamed of sheltered promenades, a house in the High Hills, his own private library. Perhaps even an apprentice, a Secretary. He might even be made a full brother of the Order. A true Librarian, not just a Master of Acquisition.

The machine worked faster and faster, hitting a certain stride as it adjusted to deal with the images filling each of the pages. The books were from a later period as well, printed on high-reflection glossy paper, filled with bright colors and vivid images. It seemed wasteful to Keton as he flipped through one of the finished tomes. They left wide, bright white margins and took up entire pages with unnecessary images of men and women at sport or at play.

Flipping through the books and daydreaming let Keton forget the first rule of being a Master of Acquisition, however – The Library is not the only place that hungers for knowledge and feeds upon books. Be ware, be warned, be alert.

Unfortunately for Keton, he never saw the bookworm until it was too late, his fingers frantically stammering on the keypad of his aether emitter for his blade before finally going still.

So this is getting placed in the middle of NFTAP2 to establish a history for a few things I want to work with later. This isn’t the only large scale edit I’m going to be doing to NFTAP2.

So, here we go!

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