Ok, here is the story of Bright Machine Speaker and friends
It is/will be based on a mix of characters that some of my players have played, plus some of my invention (Speaker for example) acting out the story I'm currently playing with own player group. It is as much me playing my own character in my own adventure, as it is me thinking up new fun things to expose my players to.
Part 1: Lookshy's light
Greetings reader of my journal.
I do not remember my mortal name, but I now go by the name of Bright Machine Speaker. This journal is my recording of my adventures.
I was once a combat medic for lookshy's fabled gunzosa troops. I equally did a lot of field maintenance, seeing as for them to get hurt at all their gunzosa armor, their armor would have to be damaged quite a lot too.
I was not strong, nor was I especially brave. I was not a warrior, but I had a seemingly endless stamina when it came to spending ours suturing wounded men. My resistance to fatigue even allowed me to keep pace with the gunzosa troops, landing me a spot as one of a couple of combat medics for a scale of them.
One time, while deployed to help defend a marukan village against marauding undead the ranks broke, a giant undead monster of flesh lashed together with brass rivets storming towards us
I had only basic hand to hand training, plus I had practised a lot of throwing some of the acupuncture needles I had around as thrown weapons - so I did just that. it of course didn't do much, other than now I didn't have my acupuncture needles.
After the battle I was patching up soldiers when I came to a not so stunning realization: To fight the undead scourge that had taken Thorns we'd need to do more than just hold our ground... we needed to do something. I myself wished I could help in that process, while trying to stop a marukan soldier from bleeding to death, the poor man's left arm having been torn off...
and then suddenly his wounds closed as what looked like fresh flesh and bone started growing - slowly - into a new arm. Also, I was glowing, a lot. Sure, I was inside a tent while this happened, but people outside noticed it none the less.
Three hours later the soldier's arm was regenerated - what a miracle!
I was brought before the local commander of the lookshyan forces present... but I could not speak to explain myself. While doing the procedure with the arm ancient memories had flooded my mind, almost displacing my own. People calling my name, I did not hear them; the name I now knew was mine was a different one: Bright Machine Speaker.
The captain, a seasoned dragonblood, wasn't sure if I'd gone mad, become anathema, or a combination of both. However, Lookshyan immaculate doctrine is not the same as that practised on the blessed isle. This probably saved my life that night: The captain asked me to 'do that arm thing again' on a couple of other crippled soldiers that had been grievously wounded in action.
I spent the rest of the night ceaselessly patching up soldiers with a precision I hadn't had before. Legs came back, arms came back, hands worked again. I was cheered, but cautiously so. The word around the camp was that I was anathema... but with these results, how could that be a bad thing?
In lookshy you are always judged by your actions first, with spiritual matters and other nosh later. I had been judged to be an asset.
The next day I was rushed back to Lookshy where I was made to stand before the general staff - the senior dragonblooded leaders of lookshy.
To my surprise one of them had thought it had been one of the gunzosa soldiers who had exalted. But I was judged on my merits none the less. I was deemed a risk, at least to the extent that my powers were largely unknown and that with my new memories my loyalty to lookshy was guestioned. The old me felt great shame. I had served Lookshy all my life, with all my being. I had worked hard educating myself into a physician, a battlefield surgeon. The 'new' older me didn't seem to mind, wanting to find old places that I remembered but knew not the name of.
I was given indefinite leave. I was told that should I want to return to lookshy and serve it again, I would have to prove that I again trustworthy and able to do so. That I had given five men the use of all their limbs back apparently wasn't enough for this.
I prepared leaving Lookshy on foot with all my earthly possessions, my clothes, my uniform, a fine set of doctor and surgeons tools I had received as a gift from my family when I had graduated... oh the looks they gave me when I told them I had to leave. Some cried, some looked confused. My parents had passed away some time ago, but I had aunts, uncles, and their family, to contend with. Some asked if I had done something wrong, others if I had truly made deals with demons. I simply told them I had... been blessed, but not by the dragons - and certainly not by demons. Still, it was weird.
The rumor that I was anathema had spread through-out the city, and I had in turn heard that someone had assaulted and again crippled one of the soldiers who's broken leg I had fixed. I felt I needed to leave quickly lest I become a target as well.
The night before I left I was approached by a strange figure. I had never learnt much of Lookshy's old lore, I only knew how to read, write and what other few things that lookshyan citizens were taught as children: I was no academic - yet. The figure, a man clad in ancient robes, with a face with crusty wrinkles so sharp and cracked that they... were inhuman. This was not a human.
I had seen many a dragonblood in my days. I was close to forty, and had served Lookshy all my life. I paid my respect to the dragonblooded. I did not pray much, for my family had never been graced by the dragons, nor anything else, and we had always been content with that. But this, this was not a man, nor was it a dragonblood.
This was a god.
The figure introduced himself as Tu Yu, his lips moving in weird ways, as if his face had become parchment or thin stone; it creaked and cracked as the lips moved, giving off tiny sprinkles of dust as he spoke. He spoke of old times, to which my new memories spoke in kind, me remembering a much younger looking Tu Yu, in a city much different than Lookshy, but in the same place.
Tu Yu said it was good to see me again, and that he had hidden everything where instructed. I knew not of what he spoke, but again ancient memories seemed to tell me that it was all ok. I followed the strange old god through the streets of Lookshy.
Through tiny passage-ways and hidden shortcuts, we made our way from my humble apartment in the district of schools, over to the academy of sorcery, Valkhavsen - but I dared not ask why. As I knew through my military training, then when it came to dealing with fae and spirits, it is best to leave such to the dragonbloods, and that mindset was still in effect - even though the ancient memories I now had told me to treat this god more as a friend.
Somehow we got into Valkhavsen, were we were greeted by old scholars who bowed deeply to Tu Yu. It occurred to me that I had not shown such respect to the god, so I quickly joined in, only for Tu Yu to berate me: I should be the one he saluted, not the other way around. This puzzled me greatly.
I followed Tu Yu further down into Valkhavsen, the old bearded scholars, some of them dragonbloods, questioning me endlessly: Had my essence awakened, did I speak new languages, was I able to do new things? I was quite confused. They seemed to know more about me than I knew. This just seemed to intrigue them even more, prompting them to ask even more questions I wasn't sure how to answer. I was a combat medic, a good one at that, and a part time magi-technician, not a demi-god or a sorcerer as they seemed to believe.
It was when Tu Yu dismissed the scholars and led me deep into strange tunnels under Valkhavens that things started to make sense. Passing through golden fire that did not feel hot, the iconography on the walls, the symbols... it all seemed frighteningly familiar - and yet it was also clear that someone was wrong. I could not say what, but the damaged were at least clear enough: the place was a ruin, a ruin with golden pillars with sun-burst motifs everywhere. This was a ruin of an ancient anathema lair. How could such a place be under Lookshy?
Tu Yu asked if I remembered building this place. I said yes without even thinking about it, only to catch myself wondering why I had said that. The god smiled, revealing inhumanly long and crooked teeth, like finger long shards of bone, yellowed and... dusty?
The god said that I was ready and revealed a hidden cache of... junk. Gears, jewels with runes inscribed on them, bits of steel and a few small ingots of an oddly warm kind of gold. No, it couldn't be gold. It was far too heavy to be gold.
Looking over the pile I started to remember things. I remembered asking Tu Yu to hide something I had taken apart, I remembered how to put them back together again, I remembered how to make things without tools, I also... knew that I couldn't do any of that right now. It was then I became concious of my own essence, holding one of the ingots of warm... orichalcum.
It was then that Tu Yu handed me a handful of glowing golden crystalic spheres - he then bid me to fare well on my journey, stating that his promise was to lead you here and give you these things. I looked at them, knowing what they were without knowing the words for them.
I threw the orbs around the ruined hall with a pinpoint precision that would make even dragonbloods envious, and for a brief hour the place lit up - reinvigorated by compressed crystalic essence storage devices releasing all their glory. The place rumbled, ancient machinery coming to life and reassembling the gears and gems and orichalcum before my eyes. The ingots were sliced into rods, plates and other bits. The gems were set, the gears put into place. In a matter of minutes a wonder probably not seen in creation for millennia was there once again.
I looked like a golden disk with five finger-sized holes in them. It was about half an inch thick, and the edge of it was... well... it went inwards, revealing sharp golden barbs or something on the inside. I beheld its glory. Then I understood its purpose and took it into my hands, my fingers fitting perfectly into the holes. I powered it with essence, and the bards inside the disk came out and spun at great speed, making an awful noise. It looked quite impressive.
Then the whole place, this factory cathedral, went dark once again, only the glowing caste mark on my forehead giving off any light. The place groaned, like a hungry beast having been made to exert itself once again.
I could instantly tell what was wrong: the whole place was failing. It needed repairs, it needed essence. Looking around I saw the walls of the great factory hall, revealing golden inlays in white marble that would support a very specific geomantic effect: this place was meant to fly... and it was burried underground, under Lookshy.
I rushed to a place I knew but had never seen before, and with my gyroscopic chakram cut myself so that I bled. It hurt, yes, but my ancient memories told me that I would heal again. my medical knowlegde telling me that could fix myself up even faster. I bled into a receptacle that slowly came to life. I bled a lot, to the point that most men would have fainted - but I held my conciousness like a warrior held his blade in the face of a murderous horde.
Then the receptacle closed off somehow and the rumbling stopped.
I sat down hard on the floor, panting. I had lost a lot of blood. I pulled out my surgeons tools and went to work. When I was done my wrist didn't even have a scar, although it still hurt. How long I had been at work was beyond me, but I knew that it was past dawn and that I was meant to leave the city post haste.
Sneaking out the same way I got in proved strangely easy. I could have sworn I saw a few of the same old scholars from the night before distracting people as I made my way out, but I did not stop to question them. One thing I did know: I could now answer a lot more of their questions, should I ever come back.
Part 2: Outshined
With what little money I had I had bought transport on a cargo ship going to Great Forks. The captain didn't seem to be bothered by the rumors surrounding me, not that I mentioned anything, but then again... I think he wasn't human. People from Great Forks were like that.
I had met officers from Great Forks during training exercises. They apparently sent a lot of their officers to be trained in Lookshy, and I had only heard good things about the place. Well, also that its full of hedonistic revelers and such, but I'm sure I wouldn't have to partake in anything I didn't want to.
The ship set out from the harbor in the lower city of Lookshy, slowly beginning the trip upstream towards Great Forks. I never asked what the cargo was, but it looked like a legit operation.
A few days of sailing, me mostly just sitting up at the bow of the ship meditating, I tried to focus my mind on the many new things I knew. It was quite a lot. Like a second life having entered into my conciousness. It was strange: I could barely recall my former name, people on the ship calling me Speaker, which in my opinion was perfectly ok, but with their Great Forks accent it just sounded weird, as if my name was 'Sleaker'. Still, the crew liked me. While I had payed for my passage I still made myself useful. I fixed things. Patched up the sailors whenever a knife slipped or when that guy fell from the rigging. That I was able to save the man's life after such a nasty fall earn't me a lot of goodwill with the crew. Their way of thanking me turned out to involve a lot of drinking...
Now, I've always been a hardy sort. As a combat medic I might not have been the fastest runner, but I'd never run out of breath. I tough in both mind and body, now feeling even more so, so while the sailors celebrated my saving one of their's life by getting drunk beyond all salvation, something I drank to as well - in moderation - I didn't feel affected by it at all. A bit odd some might say, but I had drunk young dragonbloods under the table. I could hold my drink.
That night, while most of the crew slept soundly, with far too much rum in their bellies - and on their clothes if judging from the smell - something happened.
I had been given the ship's surgeons room. The captain had already talked to me, following the day's medical drama, offering me the job - apparently their last surgeon jumped ship during their last stop in Nexus - but I had politely declined. I felt an odd need to get to somewhere... somewhere, south of Great Forks. It weird: My own memories knew of Great Forks. Not much, but I could probably point to it on a map and had heard a little of it in Lookshy, but my 'new' ancient memories knew nothing of it. As to why I felt drawn to the place? I had no idea. Maybe it was all the gods and spirits rumored to live there, maybe it was something.
While pondering this another memory emerged. I remembered making a manse. Me, making a manse? Who'd have thought it? Well, a past me, or something. Then I remembered, painfully clearly... a me lying down in a sarcophagus inside that manse, to die. It wasn't a pleasant memory - and it felt as it wasn't that far from where they were on the yananse river right now. I went up on deck to get some fresh air.
To some extent I would later regret going up on deck. But then again, I wouldn't have met someone who later turned out to be a great friend of mine, a bit more than a friend really.
Up on deck I saw something I probably wasn't supposed to see: A small lookshyan patrol ship, a first age ship that didn't have sails, had silently moved up next to the cargo ship I was on. A boarding party of five was, well, boarding us... and they did so quietly as the night. I had never paid much attention to Lookshy's navy. As a combat medic I had never really thought of ships or sea power, plus being attached to a gunzosa fang meant flying around in manta class skyship transports. Oh flying was fun. I wished he was up in the air flying right now, as opposed to seeing the ship I am on being boarded.
Now, to begin with I somehow managed to stay hidden in the shadows. It was chilly a night too, despite it being halfway through Ascending fire. I did wonder why this ship was being boarded silently. If it was a raid against pirates it wouldn't be done quietly. Hey, there were supposed to be sailors on watch!? Where were they? Looking around, I saw one hanging from the barrel cut in half lashed to the top of the center mast. Somehow I was able to tell that he wasn't dead, at twenty yards away, in the dim moonlight. What I couldn't see was the dart in his neck that had been dipped in a powerful sedative.
Ugh, I hate getting distracted. The boarding party. They weren't setting up sentries as if taking over the ship. I might not know that much about how to run a military operation, but I could tell these people were looking for something... or someone? Where they here for me? I'd hate to fight them, but I would not let myself get captured.
I found that I had my orichalcum gyroscopic chakram in my hand. How it had gotten there was a bit of a mystery, then again I thought I had lost it after it disappeared from me when I left the ruined factory cathedral. I had stored it in Elsewhere. Interesting, I'd have to experiment with that later. Argh, distractions! I had to focus on the situation. The boarders. What were they doing?
Peeking around a corner, I could see that they were waving what looked like talismans on string around. A somewhat spooky detail I noticed was that the talismans closest to me were glowing ever so faintly, while those further away from me weren't. Those things could detect me somehow. Again I found myself more curious as to how those talismans worked, while I should probably be focusing on escaping. I elsewhere'd my gyroscopic chakram. If I powered it on it would make far too much noise.
Still, it appeared that the dragon's simply didn't like me tonight: My act of doing away with my artifact chakram made the talismans light up, especially the one held by a a soldier not that far from where I was hiding.
It took them roughly thirty seconds to find me, subdue me, and haul me over to their ship. I didn't struggle. While I would resist if they tried to harm me, then I would bide my time right now: It seemed like the best choice right now.
I was locked in chains below deck. There wasn't much room, and it was right next to pulsating essence engines. It struck me odd that I would know what they were, but what struck me as sneaky was the thought to do a little sabotage, as I found I knew exactly what bits would make the essence engines not work if removed. Sure, I didn't have any tools to work with... and my ancient memories told me of a wonderous time when I wouldn't have needed any either, but it was a moot point: I was chained, my arms especially, so I couldn't do any sabotage even if I wanted to.
At dawn I was awoken by being hauled up on deck, roughly. I was made to kneel before the dragonblood in charge. Oh I knew this guy: Teresu Gido, of gens Teresu. He was a Lookshyan Sohei, a very skilled one at that, one of the oldest alive. I had never met him personally, but I knew he taught at Valkawsen. What I didn't know was how well connected he was, which shouldn't really surprise anyone him being over 200 years old, or how much of a fervent believer in the immaculate philosophy... or that he very much hated anathema. The last thing I did figure out fairly quickly, as he began questioning me as to what dark deed I did to gain my unholy powers.
He drew his sword, a very well made and intricately decorated straight sword. He told me to rise. He then told me to die like a good lookshyan soldier and raised his blade to strike me down. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
Upon exhaling, I had my gyroscopic chakram in hand. It whirled to life with a mechanical roar, cutting the chains around my wrist away as if they were not here. In one swift motion I equally brought the device up in front of me, catching the blade of Gido's sword in the teeth of my gyroschopic chakram. I knew the name of this move, this technique: Gear catches gear defence. Gido quickly withdrew his blade, strike again twice in rapid succession. I performed the same defensive trick two more times, but his attacks were slowed by having to wrest his blade from the teeth of my chakram each time. After using the technique the third time I saw an opening and twisted his blade away, disarming him... well, his sword snapped in half. I then moved to attack, Gido drawing up a watery screen to defence himself. The water blew away in a hiss of steam as my chakram cut through it, the words forming in my mind as I brought the whirling device to a halt just before Gido's throat: The circle screams.
For a brief moment I wondered where I'd learnt these techniques from, but the answer was obvious: I had known them in my past life. Thousand Wounds gear style. I recalled having invented the style as a gift, but to who I knew not. I quickly snapped back to reality as I noticed that I was surrounded by soldiers with spears poking me. I withdrew my chakram from an obviously frightened dragonblood and stepped away.
Gido, the blue shades in his hair showing his aspect, angrily told the soldiers to grab me, and two soldiers with wooden clubs moved in to strike me down. Again my chakram caught their weapons, cutting the wooden implements in half.
I calmly stated that I would hold no ill will against them if they would let me off on the shore. Gido angrily said that he would never suffer anathema to escape him and began shaping sorcery. What sorcery I knew not, but I knew it was sorcery. That alone was bad. Of course, me standing now some ten paces from the dragonblood put me in perfect range for my chakram. I doubted that anyone present had any idea what it could do: They had only seen me use it for close combat. still, if I killed Gido I might not be able to return to Lookshy, and I loved my homeland too much to see that happen.
With flick of the wrist my chakram roared through the air, striking the sorcerous accumulation of essence the dragonblooded Sohei was creating. Through the solid mass of essence it went, then at the last second banking to strike Gido on its flat side. Whatever sorcery Gido was trying to shape failed spectacularly, the essence dropping down like water, washing off the deck. Gido stared in disbelief as the bladed chakram flew up in front of him, hovered for a split second, then flew back to my hand.
Now, I had never been much of a performer, but right now I felt I could do a little grandstanding - if for nothing else then to deter any more senseless battle. I pointed out that, yes indeed, it does tricks. I then inquired whether they wanted to see what it could do next? I quickly stated that it required a volunteer, or at least three yards of his small intestines. Yay for medical training paying off to intimidate people.
Gido Teresu looked at me with hatred beyond words. Roiling elemental fury was in his eyes, like a tsunami held back only by a wall of rice paper. Gido knew I could probably hurt him, a lot, before he could do anything right now. Sure, I would probably get grievously injured in the process too, Gido not exactly being alone against me - but the soldiers had seen me use my bladed chakram, how it cut their weapons in half.
Begrudgingly Gido gestured for the ship to approach the nearest side of the river. From what little I could tell I was still somewhere in the Lookshyan hinterlands. As the ship pulled away Gido shouted at me, with a force that left indentations in the ground beneath me, that if I ever came back to Lookshy he would see to it that it would be to attend my own funeral.
I waved him off, shouting that next we meet he would kneel before me. I am not sure he took it well, as the waters around the ship seemed to splash a lot, despite the river waters being fairly calm.
Turning around and looking around at the grasslands before me, I started walking. I didn't have my surgeons tools anymore, that was annoying. I didn't have what little money I had left Lookshy with. I had... the clothes on my back and my artifact chakram. Could be worse. Could be a lot better. I smiled, looking around.
Then I blinked.
I looked around again. I hadn't been to this place before, neither had I in my past life, but I was remembering something. I was remembering... fieldcraft? I walked over to a couple of trees and used my chakram to cut a series of long branches off, then I felled the tree using the device. I cut the trunk into long poles and made a very nice little hut. I thacked the hut with reeds. I had never been able to do something like this before. I even found myself thoughtlessly picking through the plants in the area, stuffing the edible ones in my mouth or in my pockets. I had never known these things, but not I found it all effortlessly easy.
One thing my chakram proved less suited for was hunting. it was far too noisy for that. Still, I had my shelter and enough plants to eat to stay well fed. Oh and that manse I remembered lying down to die in? I felt it was nearby. I'll have a poke at that tomorrow.
part 3: Darkness lit again
I awoke oddly… not confortable, but not in any pain either. Closing my eyes for a moment made me aware that I had a good deal of essence surging around me, keeping me warm and cushioning my very makeshift bedding. It even kept insects away. Was this the benefits of this… thing… I had become.
Oh I really needed to put a name on what I was, or what had happened to me. I am certain that my ancient memories held the answer, but while I could occasionally gleam certain words or phrases, then most of it was in a language I did not understand. I momentarily sighed, thinking that in the ancient times they probably didn’t speak riverspeak. I knew that Sohei like Gido learnt the old tongue in Valkhawsen, to learn medicine I hadn’t needed to learn any new languages, the professors from Great Forks who taught the Lookshyan army surgeons speaking riverspeak quite well, albeit with an, in my opinion, silly accent.
Distractions! I knew that all these things needed to be answered, I somehow equally knew that in time I probably would learn it all, but right now… right now I had something else to do: The manse I remember building. The manse I remember laying down to die in.
I had not dreamt much during the night, but now that I was up I felt this location oddly familiar. There was no sign of civilization visible where I was. I knew that Lookshy was to the west, but much too far away to see even the lighthouse or aviary. Closing my eyes I walked around, trying to ‘feel’ the place.
I recalled looking around and seeing a lot more than what I saw now. I knew that between then and now much time had passed, so the place obviously didn’t look the same, but at the same time I knew that it wasn’t visible landmarks I should go for.
It felt like yesterday. I had been afraid and injured, gravely so. I didn’t remember hurting, but that was because of charm use. Right, charms, that’s what they’re called. Like what dragonbloods call their essence magic.
Looking skywards I angry sneered that it was nice finally ‘remembering’ that. It was quite annoying that these memories didn’t just tell me everything at once, instead of giving me a little at a time. Argh, distractions!
Right, focusing on the memory of this place. I had been trying to escape; I had to plan for the future. I knew I didn’t have much time. I think I used sorcery to do something. Something so others wouldn’t be able to see me. But I removed it again, whisked away the sorcery when I had done something. Done what? I had built something, but I had made it so it couldn’t be seen. So the manse that couldn’t be seen…. Couldn’t be seen being built.
Great. I know knew what I was looking for: A manse, a powerful manse, one that my past me had somehow ‘made’ from whole cloth. I remembered somehow making the demesne the manse was made on as well. How in malfeas do you do that? But I knew it was somewhere around here.
I had never been trained officially in geomancy, but being a bright mind I had picked up a few things relating to earth-works. Mainly how to build defensive positions. Apparently even a stockade of wooden stakes held better if built in harmony with local geomancy… but I had never been taught how to measure or feel geomancy… and yet I found myself almost dancing around, slowly turning to sense things I didn’t really have names for.
It was right before I started feeling really silly doing all this that I fell down narrow stone stairs I hadn’t seen. I was quick enough to brace myself against the cold stone walls to stop my fall, and looking down the remaining stairs that seemed like a good thing; the seemed to extend forever into darkness.
Standing up, I found myself remembering myself playing a sad piece of music. I had recalled this memory before: It was the death-song of this place, the music that had made this place. I hummed it absentmindedly as I walked deeper into the tomb-manse.
At the bottom of the stairs there was nothing. Featureless stonewalls that echoed of eternity, with no a scratch on them or anything to indicate their age simply surrounding the small platform that the stairs ended at. Of course, I knew that there was more to this place.
I just didn’t know how to get in.
Humming the mournful tune as I looked back up the stairs, I saw that the sunlight was but a tiny dot in the darkness.
I tried to tap my forehead to make it glow again, like it had back under Valkhawsen. It was really handy, having a light in your forehead, especially in a dark place like this. The light appeared, but at the same time the ground began to quake ever so slightly. Then the stone wall in front of the end of the staircase seemed to slide away, revealing a doorway into more darkness.
I peeked inside, gagging slightly. The air smelled horrible, like a moldy tomb. Of course, knowing what the place was that didn’t surprise me, although it was still uncomfortable.
Stepping inside seemed to trigger something, mainly lights. Soft light from smooth oval glass hemispheres set in the ceiling and in the walls lit up, illuminating a great cathedral like hall, with many doors leading to adjacent rooms.
In the middle was a gold-plated sarcophagus. I swallowed back fear as I approached it. It was heavily encrusted in beautifully cut gems and sun burst icons in blazing gold. I felt myself overcome with sadness as I recalled making this for myself to lie down in…
…and I knew I had to open it. I knew I had taken my most treasured artifact with me to the next life, to this life. I had to have it back. I simply had to.
A brief thought passed through my head: ‘Was this thing made to be opened again?’
I remembered etching the glyphs and runes that adorned the sarcophagus in with my bare hands, essence making the gold mold to my thoughts. I put my hands on the runes and said a word I remembered but didn’t understand. I would later learn that it meant “I have returned” in the language known as Old Realm.
The sarcophagus lid split down the middle with a snap loud enough to knock me over. Touching my ears revealed a slight trickle of blood. When I got back up and beheld the remains I couldn’t help notice three things:
First of all my prior self had apparently been female. My past life memories had shown me nothing of this – but now I found myself worrying if I would ever recall having sex, and how weird that would feel.
Secondly I noticed that for a funerary garb, then my past self had been dressed very modestly. There were no gold jewelry or fancy bits of anything amongst the remains. I had to question myself why anyone who could make such a wondrous place like this, own her own, would allow herself to go to rest in such humble attire. In the back of mind some part of even seemed to regret not having ‘made’ something fancier prior to dying.
The third thing I noticed was a short staff, just long enough to use as a cane, along with a stone tablet. They were the only solid objects in the sarcophagus beyond the dust of long decayed bones.
I took the white cane and felt immensely relieved. I didn’t know why. In fact I had no idea what it was or what it did – but if it was epic enough for my past self to burry herself with it, then it must have had some use. The stone tablet mystified me. It was polished to a shine, but when I tried to see myself in its reflection I noticed the lines of writing on it.
I had to squint to even see the glyphs written on the tablet, and I couldn’t speak or read the language at all – but as I saw it I started mouthing the words. I was remembering writing it.
The first part of it read:
“To the future bearer of the mantle of the Bright Machine Speaker. I have spent weeks pondering what wisdom I should impart to you. We, the solars, have been betrayed, but I will not tell you by who. To inform you would of that would probably put you in more danger than it would do good.”
I put the stone tablet down on the edge of the sarcophagus for a moment. Great, my past self still wasn’t going to tell me everything! What a ripoff! I got a sneaking suspicion that I would have to learn this language pretty soon if I was to be able to do anything here. I kept ‘reading’, although I had to stop at some of the bigger words to really think about what they meant.
“I came to this place, east of Deheleshen, north-north-west of Denansdor, seeking a refuge I did not find. To this end I made my own, this, my tomb and my final gift to my successor. My soul has been wounded, for I would be able to heal any wound of the flesh, so my time is short.”
Well that’s interesting. I know that the lighthouse in Lookshy is called the Deheleshian lighthouse and that Lookshy was built on shogunate ruins – but do Lookshy’s roots really date back that far? That would explain the ruined solar factory cathedral under the city. I had never really heard of this place Denansdor in this life, but the name felt really familiar. I read on:
“I will call this place the Soulforge. Whether you choose to keep that name or rename it to reflect that it is now also a tomb is your choice, but I made it to house the remains of my greatest gifts to this world. I have not left you artifacts or other trinkets that looters might steal. Indeed, this sarcophagus is made to only open to my own exaltations presence combined with a word and to open the door to the stairway out produce the tune that matches that which made this manse, you should know it well: If you’re reading this, you should already have sung it. Argh, distractions. Must keep focused.”
I had to stop and laugh for a moment. Was my past self truly so similar to me? I had always found myself easily distracted – not more than any other man might be – but I had always quickly become conscious of it and found that very annoying.
“In the rooms beyond the central chamber you will find vast archives. On stone tablets like these, which you must never remove from this place lest they crumble to dust, are inscribed all of my knowledge of the heavenly skills needed to marry magic and technology. Kal Bax might have cornered manse-making, and Bright Shattered Ice might have kept stealing my notes, but I was the greatest mind when it came to magitechnical wonders. I have built directional titans, I have made protoshinmaic vortices and wonders beyond telling. The knowledge of how to make them are in these archives, but sadly not the blueprints. These I could no save from those who I feel will soon be the death of me.”
Looking around the polished stone walls for a moment I had to just take a moment to think. Had I truly built such awesome wonders in a past life? I had never heard of these things, but in remembering writing this I could feel the great attachment to the words. They were big words which carried great weight. A directional titan. That sounds big. I read the last part:
“In the farthest room of the manse I have built what I recon will be of greatest immediate use for you. It certainly helped me make this place. It is not an inauspicious gateway, and never use it as such, but it is a small portal to far beyond the sane edges of creation. The wyld energies accessible through the portulis of iron and soulsteel are pure and will make for great shaping. This is why I have not filled this tomb with tools and trinkets: If you are a true bearer of the name Bright Machine Speaker, then you will make whatever you need from this. This is my final gift to you. Regain our honor, avenge me”
It was signed by… well… me. The signature looked weird. I figured that it was mainly because it was in this weird old language: pictograms make for weird signatures. I didn’t know the word pictogram until just there.
I had much to think about. These archives sounded impressive, and looking around into the adjacent rooms revealed what must be acres of underground vaults of stone tablets like the one in the sarcophagus. It would take years to transcribe all of this, or a large team of translators. Again, I needed to learn this language – but even then it would take time to gleam wisdom from these writings and diagrams.
Furthest in the tomb I found the wyld gate. It felt weird to be near it, but it still felt safe. The portcullis looked menacing; with spikes of dark iron and what I thought was murky black jade. I felt very much like I did not want to touch it. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with this.
In Lookshy I had learnt to fear the fair folk. They did terrible things to people and be fought easily with iron weapons – not steel, but raw iron weapons. That was what I had been taught. I had never myself engaged fae in battle, but I had helped stitch up soldiers who had fought them. I had picked nightmarishly jagged arrows out of flesh, and helped amputate limps that had, or in a few cases still were in the process of being, mutated. How could anything useful be made from the realm of horrors that such things came from? Maybe I just wasn’t smart enough to figure it out: I may be smart, but I’m not booksmart.
Exploring the rest of the manse took me very little time. It was all stone tablet archives, wyld thingy and main tomb-chamber. There was no running water, no place to sleep and it was actually a bit chilly. For a manse it was actually quite… not very much. I had seen a few manses in Lookshy, from the outside, at a distance and they were all palace-like structures, or grand and beautiful buildings that supplied essence to the wonder-factories and workshops. This place really did look bland – but at the same time I knew there was more to it.
Looking around I remembered the functions of this place, beyond what my prior incarnation had written down. This place was hidden. I didn’t need to think very hard to figure that out, but it was hidden very well. I hadn’t seen the stone staircase leading down until I fell down the stairs. I could also remembered hiding this place from more than just sight and sound: I didn’t understand why, but I knew that this place was hidden from heaven somehow. I didn’t quite understand the connection or the context, but I felt that hiding from heaven was the most important thing about this place.
Had my past self perhaps angered the gods? From what little I knew it seemed to make sense. Gods could strike down even the mightiest dragonblood, only the immaculate monks and those few trained in the heavenly dragon styles of martial arts could even try to take on gods. Had my past self truly angered the gods so? I hoped that whatever slight my past incarnation had done would not be passed on to me.
Going outside I found that it was getting dark. I ate more local plants, contemplating setting traps and snares for animals if I was to stay any longer. My miraculous knowledge of wilderness lore still amazed me. At least I had a nice walking stick. This, my ‘singing staff’. I still needed to figure out what it did.
I have a webcomic: http://psitech.comicgen.com
- Its kinda like exalted, except more furry, more fanservice, more fun, more sci-fi.
- may contain people being called "bob"