Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (49)

    We were on the first level, having made the decision to go find Lord Ostahar.  Goru had had a vision of him talking to some old orc.  I had gone downstairs to check out the vision, and I did indeed find that.  The next morning Goru had a vision of Ostahar in melee, and we were concerned and prepared to go down.
    We discussed the ethics of helping him.  I mention he's no more a free agent than a sunflower turning to face the sun.  Goru objected on the grounds of fairy honor, that we must not help him in his combat.
    I led Miyara to the place, with others following at Miyara's invitation.  Sun and Shon stayed on this level, as did Hosei, Bark, and Goru, but the others all came along.  Before I had followed him down stairs to a normal dwarvish area, then along corridors and through a door to an area of narrow corridors, much more ornately carved and more likely a noble area.  That was where Ostahar had shared ale with the orc in front of a fireplace.  There was another path that had been used that went further down to another set of stairs, but I had not followed that then.
    Goru said that the place of the fight was not that of the meeting,  We went first to the place of the meeting; perhaps that orc was the equivalent of the old dwarf, and would be able to help us.
    The room was a sitting room with a fireplace; there was no-one here.
    We returned to go downstairs.  Ashu scented like a dog and said that both the orc and Ostahar went down.
    These next stairs went a very long way down to the third level.  This was much more of a peasant area.  The orc trail and dwarf trail separated at the bottom of the stairs.  Ostahar went north, and that is where we followed.  After some winding around, we began to hear a somewhat muted sound of combat.
    Pireseri came to the front to do his special sight.  Miyara said that if Ostahar had no trouble, we should not intervene.  We continued along the long corridor; the sounds were from the far end, about 50 feet ahead where it opened up.  As we closed, it became clear there was a large room where the combat was occurring.
    The battle sounded like two or three people fighting, not a full melee.  The room was in darkness, so those with lights stayed behind while Miyara sent me carefully and quietly to scout out what was happening.
    I arrived at the opening.  It was a large room.  O was fighting a mighty battle, cornered but putting up a grand fight with a giant battleaxe.  But I could not see what he was fighting, there was nothing there.  He was dodging blows and taking blows occasionally, so he was fighting something real.  He was struggling but not overwhelmed.  I returned to Miyara and reported.  I told her he was fighting an invisible spirit.
    A sound came from the battle room.  Someone was coming quickly.  It was Ostahar.  He jogged up to us and said it was good that we had come.  He told us to come quickly, that they did not usually follow out of here.  We did so.  He led us back the way we had come.  By the time we had reached the top of the stairs, the barbarians were severely winded.
    Osthar seemed quite pleased with himself.  He said he was fighting the Grey Mountain Clan.  He realized we had not seen them, and said that they did not usually leave that desecrated place.  He said he gave them a good fight, but that it was not over.  Someday he would drive them out and reclaim the whole place.  He called for beer and food, which Hosei had already prepared.
    I ask if someone would translate for me, and Miyara agreed.
    Who was the other orc, the one I saw him meeting with.  I apologized for following him.  O said it was a nice morale boost.  The orc in the room with the fireplace?  He had met this main orc many times.  He is the head of the GMC and he's always called him <orcish word>.  Why did they meet?  To drive him out of Ostahar, he said with an air of it being a dumb question.  Goru said, in a similar tone, "By drinking ale with him?"  He told O about the vision, that they were drinking ale.  HE asked if it was the same orc, and I said it was not because the trail for hte other orc went a different way.  Miyara did not translate that for him, but Goru understood, both of them also sensing something strange.  I said I had some ideas we should discuss later.
    Dinner continued, with songs from Shon.  Later, O looked at us all and said, "I do remember you.  You put on a good show, but I do remember you.  He said he had asked us (goru in particular) not to call him Highness."  He had not done that.  "It was Kadar-Helgad, a good dwarven name which you will all remember."  (That is where we found and left the Stone of Stones.  The name had been across the front entrance.)  I took on a strange expression, laughed strangely, and apologized.  He added that it was 22 years ago.
    Goru said he had been busy since then and would like his memory refreshed.  O said that his memory was vague too, but he did know that we were there together, and were overrun and the ogres took the place.  I said that yes, this was all becoming clear, and thanked O.  Goru said we weren't all there, were we?, and pointed to Bark and said he wasn't, Shon was, and Son wasn't...  O seemed skeptical, but said nothing apparently because he could not trust his memory.  Goru mentioned in Nipponese that perhaps we would travel in time or that O was delusional.  I said O was certainly not delusional.  Miyara told G, still in Nipponese, that we would discuss this later.
    Goru mentioned that the ogres made a mess of the place, and O's mood dropped and he agreed it was very bad.  Goru added that they were all dead now.  O became dark and silent.  Shon sang brightly of great drawf victories, but it did not return O to his previous upbeat mood.l
    Miyara suggested he should rest after his great battle, and O agreed.  We left for a convenient nearby room for a chat in our quartersl.
    I spoke.  There is no-one here but us.  O he's a spirit, a part of this place, refighting battles with orcs that also aren't here.  Goru said he ate and drank, and I said spritis can do that.  Miyara agreed, or there would be no point in leaving food or drink.  He did not understand spirits.  Goru said O was real and he had not heard of his dying (but he might not have).
    That did not matter.  He's the spirit of O, the place, an embodiment of it.  It has lost it's way.  That's what I just said.  Goru asked how could a place lose its way.  We said it could.  We have to resolve the unfinished issues here.  It is up to us.  This spirit was here, he doesn't need our help to refight battles.  We need to find what the place wants, what's unresolved here.  O is like an old tapestry, part of the place, and we need to find the answer ourselves.  Miyara said we need to bring this place into hte present.  I continued, we should stop focussing our action around one part of the place, and look for what the place wants.  We should continue to offer this part of the place beer and food and stories, of course.   Perhaps we should talk to the other spirit, find out more of the story.
    Ravenna asks if our spirits leave traces and tracks that they can follow.  Why shouldn't they?  THe place wants its issues resolved, and it's in it;s own way showing us how to do that.  A spirit can open and close a door, why should it not stir dust and leave tracks?
    Miyara would now take us to see the other spirit.   I said we should bring offerings, and Miyara agreed we would bring beer and food.  So Sun, Shon, Hosei, and Bark would stay here with the spirit of Ostahar, while the rest of us would go.
    We went down the stairs carrying beer and food for the orc spirit, as well as some for ourselves.  We went down the two sets of stairs.  Ashu was first with myself, as I could see beyond the light and Ashu would be scenting.  Second would be Goru and Pireseri, then Rabena and Carimera, with Miyara guarding the rear.
    When Miyara was about ten yards down the second set of stairs, the whole group of us heard, in pretty good common, "Stop" from the top of the stairs, "Please do not go down there."
    There was an old orc standing at the top of the stairs, dressed in full battle regalia.  His weapons were not drawn.  She called for me to see if it was the same one who met with Lord O, and I said it was.  We went back up to speak with our friend here.
    The orc stepped away to let us come up, and then led us to the fireplace room.  It was clear he was both a mage and a warrior.  Goru in Nipponese suggested to Miyara that this might be the person Shon might need to talk to about the box and orcish magic.  He did have some of those boxes on him.
    He said down in his usual chair, and welcomed us.  Miyara sat in the other main seat and offered the food and drink.
He graciously accepted it.  He was attentive but did not start conversation with us.
    Eventually Miyara asked him why he did not wish us to go downstairs.
    The orc said it was his home, and he would rather we did not wander around in it.  It was also a test of our intention.
    Miyara said we wished merely to speak with him.
    He said that was clear.  Of what would we speak with him?
    Miyara asked him to tell us something of the history of the place.
    THe Orc said it was a dwarven city of old.  But the dwarves had not been here for ... 200 years.
    Goru asked what he called Lord O and himself.
    Returning?  Neverthreless, historically the dwarves did leave.  Sometime after they left, a small colony of orcs inhabited the lower levels, what he now called his home.  That was the story of Ostahar until about a hundred years ago, when a colony of religious aesthetics more like Miyara and me and Rabena than the others in our group.  They inhabited at least some parts of the upper parts of Ostahar and apparently lived on not completely unfriendly terms.  He added that this was based on guesses from what he could tell when he came.
    I said, "Which was when?" in Nipponese of course, and Miyara asked the question.
    He said he came here about 15 years ago, and the others had gone by then.  He continued his story.  The orcs before the humans came had become involved with a particularly nasty form of a cult of Nurgle (he used the orcish word).  Apparently the humans stopped that, but he doesn't know how or why and is shocked it happened.  The local orcs closed off the shrine they had built to Nurgle and began living in a slightly difrrent part of hte lower levels.  He's not sure of hte timing , but about 25 years ago, maybe 30, that portion of the shrine was re-opened.  Again, he does not know why or how.  Nurgle's wrath was unleashed upon everyone, and all the humans and all the orcs were dead or otherwise gone inside five or maybe ten years.  He arrived about 15 years ago, and Ostahar arrived at about the same time.  Sometimes they argue about who exactly was here first.
    Miyara says, so you and Lord Ostahar are the only ones here?
    Yes, and you.
    Goru asks who O was fighting.
   Ghosts.  He was haunted by memories of a particular lost battle, he's somewhat vague about hte details.  The mention of the place Kadar Helgad has led him to believe that is where he suffered his loss.
    Goru asks if he remembered the orc being there with him.
    No, he replied, his enemy at the time was ogres, not orcs.
    I suggested to Miyara that she should ask him about the statue, or Og, but she had already thought of that, of course.
    Miyara said it seemed strange to some of us that he and Lord O should be on amicable terms.  How did that come about?
    Perhaps Lord O's current condition is unique for dwarves (struggling over the word, dwarf, human...), but it is certainly not unique amongst orcs.
    I mention to Miyara that Og lived among humans.
    ...but not to put too fine a point on it, Lord O was not completely there.  Perhaps neither was he.  But they found they enjoyed stories of hte old days more than fighting.
    Goru said that his blind friend had a box much like those he had, and that he should come here to learn how to use it.  It glows and liquifies and burns when opened.
    "Then not like one of these" he said.  He opened up his and it had tinder, flint and steel.
    The druidess sent Shon here to learn about it.
    He agreed it might well have been to see him.  I would be acceptable to bring him here.
    Pireseri got up immediately to fetch Shon and his box.
    Miyara told him she had been searching for an item that she had been led to believe was here, a metal oriental dragon statue.
    The orc said he had not seen such a thing.  Most similar things had been cleared out.
    I ask Miyara if we could perhaps talk to the ghosts in the next level.
    Miyara asks what they would know what this one did not.
    I said they may know of the statue because they were here when the humans were here.
    Miyara asked the orc if he would ask the ghosts of the orcs downstairs if they had seen such a statue, since they had been here far longer.
    He laughed a little, and said "no."
    Miyara asked if she may speak with them and ask them.
    He would prefer that we did not go down to that level.  It was somewhat embarrassing.  The shrine to Nurgle was there.
    Miyara asked perhaps if he could bring them here.
    "The long dead orcs who died at the hand of Nurgle.  No, I will not."  If she had the power to talk to the dead, perhaps she could talk to the dead humans.
    M asked if there were spirits here too.
    He said he had not seen them, but it was possible.  He added that he had not see the ghosts down there.  He could not see the spirits that O fights, but he believed O brought them here and that they were ogres.
    Pireseri arrived with Shon.  Miyara introduced him.
    Shon said he understood his teacher was here.  He produced the box.
    At the first sight of the box, the orc was visibly shaken.  He did not look happy to see it.
    Miyara said he clearly recognized the box.
    He said he did not, but he recognized the symbols.  They were symbols of ... he did not know the human word ...
    Another of the Chaos gods, asked Shon.  Since it was fire, it would be Tzeentch.
    He said yes, the Great Conspirator.  He said he can tell him what it does, how to use it, but he will not touch it and does not want it used here.  It changes time.
    Oh.  We all looked at each other.
    Shon asked, changes it how?
    Any way we wanted.
    Shon asked how to control it.
    You could not control it.  If you ever believed that, it would be foolish.  The orc got up and went over to the fireplace and yanked a large basin off the wall and dropped it on the floor.  He fumbled around in his clothes and pulled out a box, similar to Shon's but not marked at all.  He opened it, and this one had liquid which poured out into the bowl. "These are called Fire Boxes," he said.  Any orc mage would carry at least one.  The mundane ones carried tinder and flint and steel.  The more than mundane ones contained magic.  The really powerful ones had water, like this one.  He then pulled out another jug, and poured it into the bowl with the water in the box.  That was useful to an orc in the wilderness.  Water and food.  He reached into water and pulled out a living rabbit.  It was wet.  He put the rabbit back, poured the water back into the bottle, and put the box away.  Pireseri noted the box was now full of water again.
    Shon said, so we would pour the fluid out into a basin?
    Yes, any body of water.  Small if you need it , or large if you needed.
    Miyara says, so a really big basin you could pull cows out of it.
    The orc says it is unlikely we would pull orcs out of our box.
    Shon suggested a basin five feet across, we could use that to pull out something from another time, or step into it to go to another time.
    Miyara in Nipponese suggests we could catch something and pour it down its throat.
    I said, or we could take the spirit of O back to the other place and win.
    Goru said he was already there.
    Miyara said he was still there, he had never left it.
    The orc said that it was probably worth knowing that in orcan culture water was associated with birth and creation, fire with death and destruction.  The symbols on the box were a god of change, both creation and destruction.  Of course some have said that creation is destruction.
    We could go back and finish unfinished business.
    Goru asked if we would go back to Kadar Helgad and lose again, or rescue them.  Could we change it, or lock it in?
    Miyara remembers the prophecy from KH.  (Kadar has religious connotations, Karak is a city).
    Pireseri suggests that we go back to KH, and retrieve the stone before it was put into the rock.
    I suggest we can use the stones to save KH, and since they were things of chaos we could indeed change the outcome.
    The pillar in KH that gave the instruction, answered in Dwarvish but not a dwarf, a rock or elemental.  When translated out of dwarvish, the pronoun is vague.  It is perfectly reasonable to refer to a place and the people in it using the same term.  I believed that the people were manifestations of the place, and that it was the place we needed to rescue.  A rock spirit would probably think so to.
    We had no more questions.  As we left, he gave us some words of caution: "Do not forget where the box came from.  Even I cannot imagine the amount of chaos that could easily be caused by changing time."