Runs the Rabbit, Bleeds the Sky

HareLeapWhat follows is the narrative setup for the next Ehdrigohr adventure entitled “Runs the Rabbit, Bleeds the Sky” which will be playable as a sequel to Red Dog, Hungry Dreams or as standalone adventure. It takes place mostly in the Beyduuni Wastes and among the forgetowns of the Salduun empire.

Enjoy and keep an eye out for more info.

If you’re curious about Ehdrigohr, now’s a great time to check it out as you can get it as part of the Bundle of Fate along with numerous other independent Fate based games for a price you set yourself. More info can be found at http://bundleofholding.com/index/current . The sale lasts until Thursday 9/19.

Runs the Rabbit, Bleeds the Sky

Geestah pushed her way through the crowd in the market doing her best to not draw too much attention her way. The wrap she wore was nondescript and revealed little but her eyes. To a casual passerby she might have even been mistaken for a D’zul man, with their colorful veils and a facewraps, were it not for her diminutive and square stature.

All of the wrapping made her terribly hot but, here in the Outer Passes of the forge town called MouthRidge, she probably drew less attention as a foreign traveler than she would have if she were wearing her maker’s robes and belt.

People always remember a maker. They wanted to connect with you or offered you tobacco in hopes that it might lead to a favor or be used to better their family. The merchants in particular are always trying to sell you something or get you to make a deal so they can sell your creations. As a traveler however, no one cared. You had no standing in the town so you were practically invisible.

Her stomach growled loudly, reminding her that it was near evening and she hadn’t had any food yet. Pushing the hunger out of her mind she found herself drifting back to earlier in the day.

She had been moving all morning.  Ge’Tayah had awakened her just before sunset and told her to move. The Barbers were coming and they were looking for her.  She had to scramble out of the Making Towers and get into the streets. Luckily Ge’Tayah, her uncle, knew paths through some unused garbage chutes that they used to move unseen.

She felt for the small contraption he had passed her. This thing was the source of all her troubles. How can something intended for so much good become such a source of strife for her and her family.

“Take this, and bring it to Cha’Raza  out in the waste,” he had told her in hushed tones as he passed her the contraption still bound in a leather pouch. Do not let it out of your sight.

He had been out the previous evening for a meeting with the Council of Gears. When he left her, he had seemed proud of what his niece had crafted. It was a masterpiece he had told her. Only one maker in a generation ever creates something so wonderful and as far as he was concerned she had outdone even M’Assaad the first maker himself.  When Ge’Tayah returned, however, it was in a panic. All he would say was that she should get to Cha’Raza. They had left their chambers in a flurry. Ge’Tayah ran through the workshop snatching off of the shelves and out of drawers. Much of what he took was . . .dangerous which made Geestah even more concerned than she already was.

She knew Cha’Raza. It had been seven years since her uncle had brought up that name. She had met him/her, Cha’Raza TwoSpirit he was called in the sands, a few times when her Uncle would travel out to the wastelands to check the spirit towers on the ways.  Cha’Raza was a JayCloak among the wandering folk who walked the ways and spent a great deal of time around SandKeeping Temple to the east. He was always there to act as a guide to Ge’Tayah. He always found them a place to stay when they were out there beyond the safety of the forgetowns.

Cha’Raza and her uncle had a history. When they were together she could see it. There were always lingering glances and embraces that lasted a breath longer than those given by casual friends. She had asked him about it once, and Ge’tayah simply said that they had walked together in the past but could no longer agree on certain things so they maintained their distance.

Her aunt knew him too for Cha’Raza was there at her death bed to hear her stories before she journeyed onto The Road. There was great love in her eyes as she whispered to him of the things she’d seen and the loves she’d gathered in her winters in the Waking Lands. With her last breath she had placed Cha’Raza’s hand into Ge’Tayah’s. That’s when Geestah knew that they had been three at one point. After her auntie, D’Zinayeh, had passed and her body had been put to smoke, Cha’Raza had left with her ashes and she’d not seen or heard of him since that spring.

Geestah and her uncle hid in sewer pipes for a while, avoiding hunters and the barbers, who were the Saldu’s secret “peace keeping” order. When they had an opportunity, her uncle guided her to the edge of the Maker passes which they had reached as the sun set. They had taken a long circuitous route and avoided guards and other makers the whole way.

“Here we have to part,” he said suddenly pulling her into an alley. He reached into a pocket and produced a small intricate, beautiful box. Applying some pressure on the sides and blowing on it lightly caused it to suddenly pop open and unfold to become a delicate clockwork sculpture of a dragonfly. The sculpture had wings painted with the turquoise and red geometric style designs that craftspeople often put on the rims of pots and at the ends of blankets and tapestries. He murmured some words into it. He then twisted its abdomen to wind it, and then cast the gear-work creature into the air where it flew off, over the adobe, wood, and metal structures of the forgetown, and into the distance.

“There,” he sighed. “If you keep moving, Cha’Raza will find you.”

“What is going on uncle? What are we running from? What happened? Did I do something wrong?” Geestah demanded.

“No, no dear Geestah! What you have created dear Geestah is wonderful. There are people who are afraid of it however. Explaining it would take too much time. There are shadows at work in the passes of the Council and the Viziers. I don’t know who to trust among them, but I do know that we can trust Cha’Raza. Cha’Raza is your relative and will take you in. He will be your uncle and auntie from here on in. Do as she says and she’ll get you to safety.

As he said this there was suddenly a figure at the edge of the alley. Tall, lanky, and man-like, it stood in an imposing manner, wrapped from head to toe in black tattered cloth, in the flickering light of the street torches. They hadn’t seen it come into the alley. It was just there.

“What is that?” she whispered through her teeth, not daring to take her eyes off of it. It seemed to move with the flickering shadows. One by one the torches at the end of the street flickered out and with each lapse of light it was suddenly closer though it never really seemed to move to Geestah’s eyes.

She was frozen in terror. A shiver in the walls of the forgetown, how was that possible? It seemed more manlike than shiver but it had a wrongness to it that was like roaches crawling on her heart. Whatever it was, it was riding on Moment and through Shadow and she felt transfixed by it as it approached. Out of the corner of her eye she saw her Uncle produce something from the beneath the poncho that he wore. It was a hand drum and cloth cover drumstick.

The thing was almost upon them. She wanted to scream but couldn’t force the air from her lungs. It was suddenly beside her. The thing had a smell like mildew that was thick and odious and madebreathe increasingly onerous.

As it drew closer, bringing its face to hers, she tried to look away but it held her eyes fixed, forcing her to gaze into its featureless face. There was nothing there but a mouth. It was an ever slowly opening, ever widening mouth that led to a pit of blackness. There was more movement in the shadows at the edge of her vision.

TOOM!

The sound of her uncle’s drum was like cold water splashed on her – waking her from a fever dream. The dream, however, didn’t fade. It stayed suspended in mid-air. The thing seemed to hover before her like a bug caught in an unseen web. All around her were more of these things caught in various stages of pouring from the shadows. They were stuck in time. Everything was stuck in time. Only she and her uncle remained in motion.

TOOMTOOMTOOMTOOMTOOM

Ge’Tayah maintained a steady rhythm on the hand drum. Geestah could see it more clearly now. It was a panic drum.  They used to use them in the early days of the Still when mining the wastes. Sometimes there would be a cave-in, or a nest of shivers exposed, and the panic drum gave the people an opportunity to escape. They were made with Mysteries by the old makers without gears or contraption.  The right rhythm played on one, by someone skilled in the Mysteries referred to as the Essences, would provide a distortion in Moment that could be used for the escape. They could only be played briefly though, for the distortion was unstable. If the rhythm faltered the results could be disastrous. The Saldu’s Council had long ago made them illegal. The punishment for having one was severe.

Geestah looked from her uncle, to the drum, to the things, then back to her uncle. She didn’t know what question to ask first. Her heart was racing like it was trying to escape from her chest.

“What. . .” she started. “Are these shivers? How did they get through the walls?”

“I don’t know.“ he said maintaining focus on the rhythm. “These shivers are not the type that the warriors of the Red Pale or the Crows fight beyond the walls every night. Those things are random in form and function. These are all identical. These have been bred.”

Looking at the creatures was difficult. It made her eyes hurt and her stomach turn. The sound of the drum was now adding to her sense of disorientation. “Who can breed a shiver?”

“Not who, but what?” The strain of using the panic drum was great and she could see his eyes reddening and blood began to trail from his nose. “You have to get out of here. There are forces within the Saldu’s council that serve something woeful and terrible. Most don’t believe they’re there but I have seen them and they have seen us. Get to Cha’Raza. Tell him what has happened. Tell him he was right. Tell him I love him and you are my last love I have to pass him.”

Tears streamed from Ge’Tayah’s eyes as he changed the rhythm slightly and Geestah saw the air ripple and begin to move her backwards, away from her uncle. He was dispelling her from the distortion.

“No! Wait! She screamed! We can fight them together! Don’t leave me here!”

The things began to shift, slowly coming back into sync. The one that had been near her, turned in slow motion and began to vomit motes of darkness her way that looked like terrible maggot shaped holes in the air slowly floating, crawling, towards her.

“I’m sorry Geestah. There is no more time for us. I claim this moment so that there will be a future for you. Travel well my niece. All of our family travels with you.”

With that, it seemed that the image of them all before her just turned out of existence on her uncle’s last stroke of the drum.

Now here she was, in the market, some hours later. She was tired, hungry, and incredibly sad.

Geestah fished the small pouch from her belts beneath her wrap. She could feel the small spider-shaped contraption she had made. It was shifting in the pouch as though it had a life of its own. It was made to heal but if the wrong people got it in their hands on it could be devastating.

She tucked the contraption deeper into the inner pockets of her belts, wrapped her face tighter, and quickly made her way to the main gate. She was hoping to slip out and into the sandy wastes beyond as the gates closed for the night.

It would be easier to get out of town and down the side of the volcano unseen under the cover of darkness.  For now, at least, she would be safer in the wastes at night than trying to survive in the town.

 

Allen Turner

Writer, Storyteller, Game designer, Teacher, Dad, Table-top RPG geek. I'm just a dude who likes to share my wild imaginings. Follow me on Twitter @CouncilOfFools

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