Sleeping Beauty's Library
Inspired by Doctor Who, Evangelion, Alice in Wonderland and Anderson's Fairy Tales
The Twilight-Caste Loremaster and Sorceress Altessa Endymion was revered as “The Chief Secretary of Information” of The Deliberative, directly serving Queen Merela. Merela was never fond of Altessa (neither were most of her peers) but felt obliged to offer her a position of significance because of her vast knowledge.
Assisted by a team of Sidereals/Gods and other Twilight Solars, Altessa was the lead programmer of “the internet” of the First Age, I AM. This was her crowning glory and she was obsessed with its immortality. I AM was based out of Altessa’s own manse which is known as “The Library”. She refers to the vast artificial intelligence as “my baby” and it calls her “mother”. I AM is the only “creature” living or artificial that Altessa has ever been capable of holding a civil conversation with.
Cheop Kejak, if asked about Altessa still regards her as one of “the most dangerous Solars” ever to have lived – and it is plausible to assume that she knows things about the Sidereals that even they themselves have forgotten. Altessa gained her immense knowledge of craft – not from Autochthon like some other ancient Twilights, but from a primordial &/or unshaped Fae now known as The Weeping Maiden. Kejak is especially sore that Altessa was not killed during The Usurpation. He does not know how she devised a plan to escape, but he suspects that she went into The Wyld.
Long before The Usurpation, Altessa began to realize that trouble was brewing. She mobilized her Library (and with it the vast amount of knowledge she had gathered to program “I AM”). She then created around her manse a Solar Sanctuary that would be maintained with her own Essence and the efforts of an army of Illuthrita. She then sailed out into the deep Wyld, counting on a bargain made with The Weeping Maiden to keep her little bastion of Creation safe. Unbeknownst to Altessa, The Weeping Maiden made an effort to invade Creation during The Usurpation and was trapped in a physical form by the Solar who later became the The Silver Prince.
When The Weeping Maiden is freed, she may be interested in visiting with Altessa. Of course, Altessa harbors no misconceptions about the nature of her frequent “tea guest”. She knows with certainty that one day The Weeping Maiden will destroy her – when she can no longer provide anything “interesting” and she considers that a great challenge to her own formidable intellect. This Scherazade-style storytelling has been going on for more than a thousand years (but has paused since The Usurpation) for reasons that Altessa cannot fathom as her awareness does not extend far beyond her Library.
Altessa has attempted to reach Creation several times with elaborate probes that she has constructed in her sleep – but with no success. She knows that something has happened but cannot imagine what. Having left Creation before The Usurpation, it is quite possible that she believes The Deliberative still exists and that her peers have simply forgotten about her.
The Library has NEVER BEEN FOUND (Its location is limited to certain individuals, mostly Sidereals working for Oversight and including the little god Madame Marthacine, another “tea guest” of Altessa’s). Since The Library was a project spearheaded by a Solar working with a team almost completely comprised of Sidereals, its existence was shrouded when the Sidereals concealed themselves. Only a Sidereal, certain Gods or a completely unaltered ancient text could tell anyone in Creation about this Library. It could also be uncovered by visiting Tea Gardens of Yu-Shan, as the God who runs this Solar-training facility (Pugumien) is one of Altessa’s few friends. Bringing her up would lead to an awkward conversation with Lytek who has been unable to find Altessa’s Exaltation. He fears that it has been captured by the Deathlords and would be very pleased to learn that Altessa somehow survived the Usurpation. Not that he “likes” Altessa – but the consequences of her terrifying intellect in the hands of someone like The Eye or The Silver Prince is too horrible to consider.
The Solar Sanctuary which surrounds Altessa’s library has proved a most effective deterrent for the curious and really, the Library doesn’t actually do anything that should concern more powerful denizens of the Wyld. It just floats above a sea of churning primordial chaos, adding the interesting-if-improbable addition of an alabastar-and-orichalcum tower (surrounded by several Italian-Renaissance style piazzas, outbuildings and lush gardens) to the scenery. The entire complex of The Library is about the size of a large University… and indeed, that is what it was meant to resemble. Altessa duplicated Sperimin in its entirety – but without “the people” that she “never did get along with”. Her staff consists of brilliantly constructed machines made to resemble insects, Builder Bugs and Illuthrita (117 – 120 in Wonders of the Lost Age), who are under specific instructions to remain unseen (so as not to spoil the view). Among other things, Altessa cultivates rare and exotic flowers, venomous snakes and salamanders, insects which have not been seen in many centuries, butterflies and a strain of Wyld silkworms which spin the gossamer she uses to wire many of her constructs.
Altessa was a very old Solar even by the standards of The First Age. She is Twilight Caste (Essence 7 or
and appears to be roughly forty or fifty. She wears a small pair of green-colored glasses that sit on her nose without arms (like “The Matrix”). These are an artifact which allow her to observe Essence flow around her manse and pinpoint problem sites before they begin to deteriorate. Almost everything she builds is nigh indestructible – thanks to the liberal use of the Charm “Art of Permanence” and some Solar Circle Sorcery. The party may discover this if they try to damage her home. Even the tea cups which she leaves everywhere miraculously repair themselves when they are smashed. This should be boatloads of fun and quite frustrating!
Altessa tends to dress in Victorian-style garments of pure white which make her bronze skin stand out in stark contrast to her cornflower-blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes. When she slips off her stifling Victorian gowns and intelligent gossamer cloak, Altessa dresses simply in a white breeches and a loose shirt which allow her freedom of movement. She prefers to be called “Tess” with no ostentatious prefixes attached. She has a special affinity for spiders – much of her library is decorated with gold or orichalcum spiders and gossamer webs. The amulet which holds her most treasured “hearthstone” - not actually a hearthstone but The Wonderous Globe of Precious Stability - is in the shape of a spider.
While she is not particularly physically imposing, Tess a master of FIVE martial arts styles, ranging from innocuous, non-magical and meditative (Tai Chi) to world-destroying Creation-rearranging styles that SHOULD only be known by Sidereals (such as the legendary “Perfected Lotus Style”). The Sidereals who came to know her well may remark that she would have been a very good “Chosen of Secrets” if the Unconquered Sun hadn’t had other plans for her.
Despite being a survivor of the darkest era of Solar rule, Altessa’s fault is quite simply that she cares nothing for “people”, preferring the company of her books and tremendous artifact collection which includes a piece of the Primordial Bright Shattered Ice (given to her by the Twilight-Caste sorceress of that same name). Her museum is filled with artifacts created by the Dragon Kings and other predecessors of the Exalted. She has a fascination with the Wyld and has some more dangerous “pets” wandering about in the labyrinthine halls of her manse, but they don’t concern her – though they may be powerful enough to destroy the party. See: Winter Rose, Fire Ants, Heart Wasp, Chillikin (not tainted by The Usurpation), Illuthrita, Snakebud Tree, Tomb Beast – and pretty much anything else found in Creatures of the Wyld 1 & 2.
Altessa especially prizes intellectuals/philosophers and would “collect” them if she could – but her abrasiveness drives off anyone who doesn't like being seen as a science experiment – because that's what she thinks all people are. Strictly speaking, Altessa is not a “thief” (she won’t take anything that hasn’t been “donated” to her) – and she is also not a “tyrant” (she won’t force people to do things “against their will”). Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt that as old and powerful as she is, Altessa can manipulate and coerce people simply with her presence. Even still, she replaced her living entourage with automatons long before heading off into the Wyld so many centuries ago.
The Essence drained to maintain Altessa’s vast Library in the depths of the Wyld caused her to undertake drastic measures. She put herself into a kind of cryogenic state. Of course, not knowing how long it would take for stability to be restored within Creation, Altessa also planned to continue working while asleep. She merged her consciousness with “I AM” and the system that maintains her Library, a connection that will immediately be severed should she wake up.
Alone, she lacks the power to return her Library to Creation without risking its destruction (which she will never do), but if some Essence-users were to visit her, that would give her the energy needed to rouse herself from stasis while maintaining all of the Library’s essential systems. Controlling the whole Library still involves the commitment of nearly all of her Essence and her complete attention. While in stasis, the energy produced by her flaring anima will maintain the building, when she is roused – she will begin to glow normally as any Solar who has spent all of their personal (and at least 10 points of peripheral) Essence. And without her pure intellect to meticulously guide every part of the system, Altessa’s waking will doubtless cause malfunctions throughout The Library.
OUTSIDE THE LIBRARY:
1. Reflecting Pool (the size of a football field containing giant, man-eating koi fish)
2. Firefly Pond – water induces hallucinations that can be dangerous
3. On the beach (where the party docks) the Wyld is slowly encroaching
4. Pier for Airship Docking (very large ship, non-running due to Wyld infestation)
5. Mirror Dojo
– for practicing Sidereal Martial Arts
6. North Observation Deck – a telescope, getting pulled into the Wyld
7. South Observation Deck – Can you see Creation – or is it a mirage?
8. Hydroponics Lab/Garden
– experiments galore. They will eat you.
9. Rose Garden
10. Liarbirds – throughout the forest. Bioengineered ravens that talk nonstop and seem to enjoy causing people to panic.
11. Marble Slab movable paving stones that hover 6 inches off the ground make paths throughout the island. With the proper command words, these paths move – and even turn into staircases (in elegant spirals) to access seemingly illogical doors – ala’ Winchester Mystery House.
Immediately surrounding the main entrance. Like the story Sleeping Beauty the (Winter) roses have grown up all over the Library (castle).
1. Automaton Assassin (4), in the form of snakes, running loose
2. Clockwork Efficacy Servitors (12), gardening, they have cut the Winter Roses down to almost nothing in one small area while they have devoured the building everywhere else. The Snakebud tree is also overgrown.
3. Clockwork Efficacy Gardener, non-operational
4. Cup of still warm tea sitting on a little table.
5. (Creatures from “Creatures of The Wyld”) running loose.THE HANGER:
1. Resplendent Dolphin Class Undersea Courier (4) – and another Wyld-mutated killer koi hiding in the pool beneath it.
2. Tools EVERYWHERE
3. Warbirds (4). All non-operational.
4. Partially Dismantled Royal Warstrider “Callisto” AI of 4
5. Teapot, several cups full of still warm tea.
6. PIER for docking very large First Age warship
** A good distance out the back door of The Hanger is the MIRROR DOJO – 5 stories tall, mirrors on floor, ceiling and all walls. Used for practice of Sidereal Martial Arts. No trophies, except for a single white silk ribbon in a frame.THE SHOP:
1. Fivefold Harmonic Adapter in a drawer marked “Junk”
2. Tools EVERYWHERE.
3. Forge Hand Gauntlets on workbench near cup of tea.
4. Portable Geomantic Recharging Module
5. Recorder of Everlasting Glories. Connected to I AM terminal. Records an experiment conducted with the Geomantic Recharging Module. If the party watches the experiment, have them notice a strange little creature manipulating the object in the background. This is “Spot”.
6. Cup of still warm tea.
7. Several crates of Quagmire Perimeter Mines, deactivated
8. Clockwork Efficacy Servitors (10), working on various projects
9. Collar of Clockwork Diligence (3, some broken)
**The Servitors will remark if asked about the Collars – that the “dogs” have all “disappeared”. They do not understand why this has happened. Investigation will reveal that the dogs died centuries ago and have crumbled into dust.MAIN ENTRANCE DOORS
– Flash caste mark and doors will open.
Do anything else and you'll just get tired.LOBBY:
I AM terminal, an expressionless humanoid face (like an ivory mask) appears as a free-floating hologram. “WELCOME.” It says in OLD REALM. “You have been expected.” A Clockwork Servitor explains that the Mistress is indisposed but desires that her guest be well cared for. If asked how long the Mistress has been “indisposed” – the Servitor will reply “XXXX years, 200 days, 16 hours and 43 minutes” Someone with a really good roll may identify this as about the time of The Usurpation. Ideally, the party will take this to mean that “The Mistress” is dead.
If the party is hungry or tired, I AM will direct them to the dining room or to bedchambers which have been prepared for them. If not, a Servitor will direct them to The Library and tell them to make themselves at home in the sitting room outside of the Mistress's study. The Servitor will bring them tea in about thirty minutes if they wait – if not, they may explore.
If they wait in the lobby for any amount of time, they will note that the murals shift to show different scenes from the Primordial War.If someone rolls successfully to examine the Library's geomancy, they learn that it is a combination Solar/Sidereal manse built on what appears to be a demesne of Wyld energy. It’s a micro-creation built like the Primordials created “Creation” out of Chaos.ATRIUM:
Between the Dining Room and The Lobby where the party will probably enter is an overgrown Atrium with a glass corridor. Fish swim (and fly) overhead. An orichalcum birdcage is unoccupied and a bed for some large creature lies empty near the doors of The Bath. As with everywhere else, there is a cup of tea sitting on a small table here.
An impressive space obviously designed for a large audience with a portrait of Altessa and her Lunar mate Desmond- who appears as a short, wiry older man. While the two are both undeniably striking, they are not as “godlike” as some Solars portrayed themselves - though the likeness has a “real” feel to it – the faces watch you. In fact, SPOT is watching from behind this portrait, excited by the prospect of company.
Several Ever-Vigilant Guardians will punish the party for any perceived misbehavior over dinner and eject them from the manse if the should choose to tear up the portrait or any of the furniture. The chillikins elsewhere in the room can be persuaded out when the fruit is set on the table by the Servitors, or by any party member showing their caste mark. SPOT will flee if the picture is torn down and the party will startle a dozen illuthrita hiding in the walls “watching” them. Spot will scamper off into the garden much faster than the party can pursue him.
And remember the first rule of Storytelling.* If something is not scary enough - make it a swarm.
Now on the other hand, if the party is well-behaved the flowers in the arrangements on the table will open as the party enters and sits. Chairs will adjust to their height and shape to be perfectly comfortable. Wine glasses (full of a celestial vintage) literally rise out of the table. The white lace curtains open to show a view of the Wyld dominated by the trees on the edge of Altessa’s garden and four large, gold marble columns.
I AM terminal can be called upon to play whatever the party would like to watch (within reason), replacing the window with a hologram that drops from the ceiling. Neither I AM nor any construct/creature knows that The Usurpation has occurred. They will all repeat the same date when consulted about “The Mistress“. “The Master” was last seen five days before “The Mistress” became indisposed.
Four identical rooms provide sumptuous accommodations for any guest, just down the hall to the right of the dining room. At the end of the hall is a bathroom and the bath. There is a small sitting area with a fireplace also and some extremely old magazines.Lunar Dojo
(Training Room, down the opposite hall from the dining room) obviously designed for practice of martial arts and done in the fashion of a traditional dojo. Impeccably clean. Exploring will note that one of the “heavybags” is made of solid stone and dented several times by enormous paws that left claw marks. Further exploration will reveal a suit of moonsilver armor in a closet with a daiklave resting in front of it, as one might expect from a samurai. A staircase in the room seems to lead to “nowhere” – a perceptive eye will realize that it is to “Elsewhere” and probably the secret “den” of the Lunar who used this space. No characters can access it. Also present are an I AM terminal and trophies of extinct monsters.Solar Dojo –
similar to Lunar Dojo but with more natural light. Leads out onto the testing field. Stairs lead down to TESTING FIELD where a Warstrider-sized practice dummy is sitting. It is missing its head.Testing Field:
STAIRS on opposite side of Testing field lead up to an ivory tea pavilion surrounded by carnivorous homicidal flowers that do the “Alice in Wonderland” “wake up” when the party arrives. Then they try to eat everyone.
Kitchen and Laundry:
Pristine, food preserved. Running water. Little bio-engineered lizard scuttles around, unhinges its jaw and gulps up a mouse.
I AM terminal (if consulted about the carnivorous lizard): “The Mistress could have certainly prevented pests from infesting her home – but apparently she enjoyed permitting their existence and letting her “pets” eat them instead. She found it “amusing”.” Such lizards with even stranger abilities are everywhere – some will freeze, incinerate or teleport around their prey. They look like Leopard Geckos in varying colors.
**SPOT is in the refrigerator. See Spot run!Japanese Style “Bath”
(designed to look like a waterfall and garden indoors, starlit sky above). Pristine white towels and perfumes. A dog-eared copy of “The Book of Three Circles” sits on a rock next to a cup of tea – still warm.The Museum (below the lobby):
An enormous space, but with Louvre like flair. There is the appearance of natural sunlight through a glass ceiling and the floor is white and gold marble. There are fountains and staircase separating “collections”,
1. Paintings and Sculptures
2. Numerous Teacups
3. Dragon King botanical experiments (Bulb of Demise and Renewal (1))
4. Partial Skeleton of a Behemoth
5. Model of the Loom of Fate/Model of a Pattern Spider
6. Fragment of a Treatise on Crafting Sentient Life written by Autochthon
7. Ever-Vigilant Guardians (60), patrolling
8. Clockwork Efficacy Servitor (10), dusting
9. Clockwork Efficacy Overworked Curator AI 3
10. (Both The Library and The Museum operate on the principle of infinite fractal space, that is to say, they both go on forever, AMBER series.)
11. SEE SPOT RUN!Upstairs from The Lobby, The Library:
More than twenty floors of books filling the entire central tower, the room is illuminated by a suspended-in-midair fragment of the Primordial Bright Shattered Ice, 200 foot tall piece of perfect blue crystal. (Both The Library and The Museum operate on the principle of infinite fractal space, that is to say, they both go on forever, AMBER series.)
- - - Clockwork Efficacy Chief Librarian, Mousy and Jumpy, AI 3Powered by Awesome: The Hearthstone Room
Empty, walls are beautifully decorated with fractal-like patterns of Essence.
AND THEN YOU LOOK UP. This is actually the base floor of The Library. The blue glowing source of all power in the manse is A PIECE OF A PRIMORDIAL?! THE LIBRARY IS ALIVE?! It also totally makes Tardis noises.
A direct line can be drawn up from the hearthstone room of the manse through the 200 ft long shard of the primordial to the center of Altessa’s sorcery workroom atop the tower. How else could Solar, Sidereal and Wyld energies be twined together? This isn’t just a manse... it’s a mini-Creation - POWERED BY PRIMORDIAL.The Sorceress’s “Work” Area, atop the tower.
Intricate grooves line the white marble of this raised platform which is about 50’ by 50’. Constructs keep the fires lit. Upon closer inspection, the area was last used to banish a demon of the third circle – successfully? SEE SPOT RUN!Sidereal Star Chamber:
(A door near Altessa's Chambers appears to be a maintenance closet but actually leads to the Sidereal Star Chamber). The ceiling which appears completely transparent shows all the stars of the night sky along with a manipulatible hologram. This is a tool for Sidereal Astrology. An expert will observe at this point that the manse (while much of it is Solar in nature – also resembles a Sidereal manse). This is the other Tower (aside from the Library). The lower levels contain books and museum items.
Servitors will request that the party does not enter, but will not stop them.
On the Vanity in Altessa's Room:
1. More TEA!
2. Age-Staving Cordial (3), consumed regularly like a tea or coffee.
3. Face powder + cosmetics, but the real gem is a mirror that adjusts the lighting of the entire house so that the person looking in it will appear at their best.
(Have the ugliest character in the party sit in front of the mirror after the party sorts out what it does - - - and then have the lights go out!)
4. Moonsilver ring on nightstand with a letter addressed to “Desmond”.
5. Absurd amount of clothing in closet, almost all white or gold, like the rest of the house. Perfectly crafted.
6. Jewelry box, “old” hearthstone bracers. Beautiful flawless mirror makes up one wall. Very close inspection will reveal that the mirror shows a door not otherwise within the room. This is the entrance to The Secret Solar Super Lab. Every paranoid Twilight has one. And if they don't, they should!
7. Books and research everywhere around the room, four desks covered in research material and books stacked into the ceiling. Only one pen – and one chair – on wheels.
*The key to the Secret Solar Super Lab can be found in the tea garden ONLY after the party has explored the rest of the Manse. The key bearer will be revealed as a small intelligent shapechanger – if the library is fully explored, or I AM is consulted, it will be revealed as “SPOT”. Spot appears to be an Illuthrita except that he had eyes and a black spot around one of them. He is far more intelligent and calculating and may be seen hiding elsewhere by the party. When addressed by name, Spot will come obediently and when ordered will give the key to the party, otherwise he will flee. The doors cannot be opened any other way (well, barring destructive sorcery).
LETTER TO “DESMOND” (In Old Realm):Desmond –
Please make sure the Servitors have not over-pruned my Winter Roses. Check the irrigation system for the Snakebud tree and turn on the Ever-Vigilant Guardians before you leave. Give Merela and Bright my apologies - not that they will be expecting me. They both know how I loathe parties. Bring home a bottle of good wine - I have something special planned for your return from Meru.
- TessThrough the Looking Glass (The Secret Solar Super Lab):
Down a flight of stairs is a quartz and orichalcum Stasis Chamber – in which Altessa resides. SuperTank Clockwork Efficacy Bodyguards (2) guard the door. These will attack the party. Make them BEASTLY, you want everyone damn near dead when they get past. IE – “Whatever they were guarding must be REALLY GOOD”.
There is also a maintenance closet with 25 constructs in it and a “Hallway of Death” which leads from the secret passage near the Hot Spring to the Lab. An extension cord is run from I AM to the stasis chamber.
The party will most certainly pull it out of the wall (either on purpose or accidentally while fighting), which will begin the process of Altessa waking up. Let them see Altessa first. She looks dead/very well preserved, but when everyone surrounds her – she’ll wake up suddenly.
At this point they should already know about the Illuthrita draining their Essence and may be annoyed but not surprised when several (including SPOT) drain Essence from each party member to Wake Up The Mistress.
Altessa will listen intently to what has happened and drink her XXXX year old tea (which tastes just fine should anyone else dare to drink it). She evaluates her own reflection and remarks that she looks pretty good for being XXXX years old (or however old she is, depending on when you're placing the Usurpation), although she did spend many years in stasis.
Then... BIG BOOM! Tess – I AM, report!
I AM - Malfunction in main power core, power at 50% and dropping, switching to secondary power. Weather Controls Offline,
(It is now raining or snowing or both outside. Maybe even raining up into the sky or sideways?)Tess
(decides to get up, stumbles a bit) Stasis. Nasty business.
(notices that the party has destroyed her constructs) EEEEKK! What have you done to my babies?
Again - BIG, BIG BOOM! (Dex rolls?)I AM – Secondary Power Core offline. Main power at 40% and dropping, Security Offline… Wyld Shield at 60%
Tess – Don't care how you got in anymore. Unless you feel like swimming in the Deep Wyld we need to act at once!
AS THE PARTY ATTEMPTS TO get the power back up, which involves traveling from Altessa’s Lab to the OUTBUILDING shop (the complete other side of the grounds) - all “Security Devices” and Clockwork Servitors will be attacking them. Altessa will dismantle most of them with a sweep of her hand but when she gets to work on something, the party will need to fend off a swarm of Guardians AND the Essence Weapons mounted on the tower which are malfunctioning and firing on them.
Tess will ask the party if anyone can pilot a Warstrider and let someone take a ride in Callisto. The power to the Warstrider will die as they have to escape, preventing them from taking the Royal Warstrider with them. But the idea of fighting a HUGE SWARM of Ever-Vigilant Guardians, the gun turrents and the encroaching Wyld from a Warstrider is too damn ANIME to resist!
CONCLUSION - This manse should be blown up, though not without Altessa working some Super-Solar charms in attempt to save it. This explosion will include among other things a giant piece of Primordial falling through the entire tower and the whole shebang dissolving into the Wyld.
Let your players think they have obliterated a priceless treasure and watch them cry and panic. Then let them count whatever loot you've allowed them to salvage and grin like the evil little monkeys they are.
An alternate way of ending this mess is to have your players bring Tess along as they escape. She is surprisingly unconcerned by the destruction of her fortress. She will pull out her “laptop” when they have returned to Creation and inquire as to the “success of the transfer”.
I AM - All data transferred to your other manse successfully.
Altessa’s new goal will be to update I AM/reinstall it everywhere with all of the information she has missed in the last XXXX years. Of course, a Solar as powerful (and absolutely crazy) as she is – will invariably cause loads of other trouble.
It'll be fun.