Friday, May 27, 2016

A Confusion of Tongues

One of my favorite parts of Playtest Document 0.1 so far is the removal of a universal "magical language" from the game, and  "Read Magic" along with it. Instead, every Magic-User writes their spells in a rare, obscure, or dead language of their choice.

What I really like about this sort of system is that it's a fountain of adventure hooks for Adventurers to go on ridiculous scholar hunts throughout the world. It's one thing to kill the wizard, but it's a whole other issue finding someone who'll teach you enough Aramaic so you can use his old spell book.

There are, however, a lot of dead, rare, and obscure languages. I gathered some of my favorites into a few different categories after trawling through the sources, culling them down while trying to maintain some variety and connectedness, and also making them into lists that'll fit onto your standard Polyhedral dice. I have some more thoughts about making these into tables as well, but we’ll get to that later.

While basically all of this is from the real world in some way or another this isn’t a work of professional scholarship; I’ve altered, fabricated, or fully abandoned facts here and there. I've also embellished some things and made up a few others. I did try to avoid anachronisms as best I could so everything would fit in an Early Modern setting, except for Voynich because that was too good to leave out.

d10 Languages of Mystical & Religious Origin
1. Enochian: The celestial language of the Angels. It is also known as the "Adamical" lanugage, as it is thought to be the language used by the Adam in Eden when naming all the living things of Earth, and also the language of the creator God during the construction of the universe itself. It sounds vaguely like Hebrew, is read from right to left, and uses a unique alphabet.
2. Voynich: A language written without punctuation, comprised of at least 23 characters drawn using only one or two strokes of a pen, with words that sometimes have tripled letters. It sounds like something between a Germanic language and Chinese, Tibetan, or Vietnamese when spoken. It is remarkably difficult to decipher or translate, and is possibly unearthly in origin.
3. Sandha-bhasa (also called Gongpay-kay): the "twilight language" of tantric Buddhists and certain Hindus. Its full and correct use involves very precise visual, verbal, and nonverbal communication. It is said to be such a remarkably esoteric language that only the initiated have any hope of understanding it, and even then only through the guidance of a proper teacher.
4. The Language of the Birds: Also called “Lingua Verte” or “The Green Language” by Alchemists. This language can be whistled, and so may be written using only musical notation. It is also said that it can only be used to transmit true information, and it may or may not allow one to communicate with all of nature itself including, in addition to birds.
5. Balaibalan: A language created by Sufi mystics using the Arabic alphabet, with a new vocabulary entirely constructed for it. Some of these words may be deciphered back to common Arabic words through an understanding of Sufi metaphor. There are those who claim this language is the one in which the next revelation of god will be written in, as Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic once were used.
6. Vāc: Vedic Sanskrit, from the Indian subcontinent. The language of the sacred Vedas, and thought to be the language of the Gods themselves. Found most frequently in the form of chants, the pitch used when speaking certain words can change their meaning significantly. There exist a great variety of scripts for the written form of this language.
7. Ecclesiastical or “Church" Latin: The Latin language as it is used by the Catholic church for performance of the Roman Rite, and the language of the Holy See. The grammar and pronunciation vary from Classical Latin, as well as the meaning of certain words.
8. Classical Arabic: the language of the Koran, which is distinct from the language as it is spoken throughout the world. It is related to both Hebrew and Aramaic, and written in a unique and distinctive script.
9. Hebrew: the liturgical language of the Jewish faith, and of the Israelites and their ancestors. Related to the ancient language called Aramaic, as well as Arabic.
10. Avestan: the sacred language of Zoroastrianism, written using a 53 character alphabet from right to left. This alphabet is very loosely based on the Aramaic one.
d10 Obscure Languages Of Human Design
1. Lingua Ignota: the "unknown language". Written using the "litterae ignotae, an alphabet of 23 letters. It is a language of constructed words ordered but ordered using the Latin grammar, making it both straightforward and remarkably difficult to translate. Glossaries translating it into Latin are known to exist, and if found would make translating this language remarkably simple, assuming one is familiar with Latin grammar.
2. Lingua Universalis: The invention of a German philosopher*, typically used only for mathematical calculations among the well-educated elite. *Leibniz, in 1678.
3. Grammelot: a nonsense language of mime and mimicry composed of onomatopoeia, borrowed words, and movement. It would typically be encountered in a Commedia dell'arte performance, but despite its comedic nature it has nonetheless been used to record occult knowledge using jokes and buffoonery.
4. La Cifra del Sig. Giovan Battista Belaso: the dreaded code language of Giovan Battista known as le chiffre indéchiffrable  to the French ("the indecipherable cipher"). It is essentially unbreakable without knowledge of the key phrase used to decode it, as well as fluency in the language it was originally written in as well.
5. Real Character, or, "a Philosophical Language": Created by an English clergyman and natural philosopher*, this language is claimed to be able to describe every possible thing or notion in our universe. It is only a written language, with no agreement or guidance as to how it would or should be spoken. *John Wilkins, in 1668
6. Logopandecteision: A Scottish philosophers* remarkable invention, said to have been suppressed by the Church. It has only four numbers, uses eleven genders (which include god, goddess, man, woman, and animal), and is conjugated with eleven tenses, seven moods, and four distinct voices. It is allegedly capable of translating any idiom without altering its meaning, and expressing even the most vast sums using only two characters. *Sir Thomas Urquhart, in 1653

7. Asemic Writing: A trance language, when spoken it is known as glossolalia. A combination of legible and illegible scribbles, often fully improvised. Possibly translatable through the use of a cipher or context, but not necessarily.
8. Hermetic Language: An entirely novel but consistent writing system, vocabulary, and grammar created by the Magic-User for use in their spell book alone. Such a language likely to be readable by no other being on earth without intense and dedicated scholarship.
9. Macaronic Language: A mixture of languages within the same text, sometimes involving hybrid words. The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, or "Poliphilo's Strife of Love in a Dream", is the most well known macaronic text, it is written in a sort of Italian with terms based on Latin and Greek, as well as some Hebrew, Arabic, and common Italian words.
10. Hermeneutic style: a variation on the Latin language that was most popular in the 10th century, it is only distinct from other forms of Latin due to its pervasive use of archaic and elaborate terminology derived from Greek.

d10 Languages Of The Bible & Of Some Ancient Empires
1. Sumerian: There are two dialects of Sumerian, one of which is sometimes used only by women, or in occult song. Longer words are created by combining many smaller ones together, similar to German. It sounds vaguely like classical Arabic when spoken, and is written using a series of wedge shaped markings known as cuneiform.
2. Old Babylonian: Also called Old Assyrian; the language of King Hammurabi, and the one used on the Code of Ur-Nammu. Written using cuneiform and logograms. Despite being written in cuneiform it is actually unrelated to the other languages of old Mesopotamia. Pronunciation varies wildly among current speakers.
3. Neshite: also called Nesite or Hittite. The language of what is now called Turkey, during the bronze-age. It's nouns only distinguish between moving and non-moving objects, rather than gendered ones. When spoken it contains several distinctive sounds produced in no other language.
4. Aramaic: The tongue of the Christian martyr known as Jesus, and also of a great many empires of the ancient world. It is related to Hebrew and Arabic, and is still sometimes used as a liturgical language. It can be written in several different cursive forms.
5. Lycian: A language of the iron age, written using a modified Greek alphabet. There exist texts which are written in Lycian, Greek, and Aramaic, greatly simplifying translation.
6. Luwian: Written in Cuneiform or by using hieroglyphs. It is closely related to the Neshite language, and is what largely replaced it in the 14th century BC. It was spoken by the Trojans, in their horse.
7. Sogdian: the lingua fraca of the Silk Road, it is written right to left using an alphabet as well as logographs.

8. Hudum Mongol bichig: a script for Mongolian developed around 1200 AD and derived from Sogdian, it is written vertically from right to left.
9. Etrsucan: No living language is related to this one, the only connection being that Latin alphabet was eventually derived from the Etruscan one. There do however exist gold leaves on which an Etruscan text is translated into Phoenician.
10. Phoenecian: A very distant ancestor of Arabic and Hebrew, the language of Canaan.

d10 Dead Languages of Europe
1. Gothic: The language used by the barbarians responsible for the decline and fall of the Roman empire. Used in the Iberian peninsula until the late 8th century. There exist Bibles translated into this language.
2. Althochdeutsch: "old high German", the oldest form of the German language from 750 to 1050 AD.
3. Goídelc: Also called “Old Gaelic”, the notably complex ancestor language of Scottish Gaelic. In common use until 900 AD.
4. Ænglisc: Also known as Anglo-Saxon. This is English as it was spoken during the Middle Ages, and was in use for almost 700 years.
5. Castellano Antiguo: Medieval Spanish, as it was spoken until the beginning of the 15th century.
6. Zarphatic: A language used by the Jewish peoples of Northern France until the 14th century.
7. Ancien Français: French as it was spoken in the 8th through 14th centuries.
8. Old Low Franconian: the language which developed into Middle Dutch by the 12th century.
9. Medieval Galician: an ancestor language of Portuguese.
10. Medieval Latin: the highly individualistic and idiosyncratic language of medieval scholarship.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

World of the Lost, Session Four: Derelicts of the Master

Baldwin & Dietrich were joined by Gerald, but unfortunately Everett as well as (the former player of) Heinrich were unavailable.

The Regal Elephant, that tavern where the four Germans had become entangled with diamond smugglers after a night of serious drinking, had become the adventurers home in Khirima. Baldwin and Dietrich had returned there after their introduction to the Edo faith, and were now meeting with Gerald in the courtyard to discuss what would be done next; now that they had the assistance of Odafin entrance to the temple was an imminent possibility. Alas, Everett could not join them as he was still recuperating from the pox given to him by the demon of filth, but Qian tended to him as he convalesced. There was yet another problem beyond this one, though: Gerald could not speak a word of German.

Dietrich had managed to learn a bit of Edo, and so asked the bartender if he knew anyone who could speak a bit of English. He suggested that Dietrich simply ask one of the merchants who frequented this place, but Dietrich (fully aware of the fact that they would be discussing illegal and forbidden acts in short order) balked at this suggestion. He asked if the bartender might instead know of a more “discreet” person, as it were. The bartender seemed to understand what he meant quite well, and after being given a most generous tip by Dietrich he sent a worker away to a much seedier establishment, the Scowling Jackal, to retrieve someone.

The man who came to them was called Adzua, and Gerald was overjoyed to meet him, quite thankful to meet a second English speaker in this foreign land. Adzua was quite friendly and very polite as well, but in that way that only people of dubious moral character always are. He seemed loyal enough after being presented with a significant amount of silver by Dietrich, in any case. He was also a member of the Edo faith, as evidenced by his facial scars. He had far less than Dietrich did, but this also provided a bond between the two. The adventurers were cautious when they discussed the temple, and spoke only in generalities to keep him unaware of the true meaning of their conversations, and their ultimate goals.

They were more straightforward when they began to examine the item retrieved by Dietrich from the Fountain of Ants; it radiated that subtle, silent, invisible strangeness that both Gerald and Dietrich recognized as a sign of magic. It was a wide, round band too was too large to be a bracelet, so perhaps it was an arm-band. It was made of smooth brown stone, it looked something like compressed and glassy mud. It was flawlessly smooth too, excluding several deep gouges along the outside of it that were of an unknown origin. The inside of it was a bit worn too, which indicated it was a piece of jewelry and not simply a decorative object.
After some hesitation Gerald was the first to try wearing it. He held the band, and lowered it cautiously onto his left arm, the whole of his hand fitting through the opening with ease. As soon as it had past the bottom of his hand it stopped, fitting perfectly snug around his wrist. All seemed well, despite the unexpected fit, and he after moved each of fingers he tried to remove the band. It it slipped off without issue, fitting around his opened hand without difficulty.
Dietrich then tried it on, and it fit well after also changing in size for him. He wanted to discern if it had powers beyond impossibly resizing itself, so he gazed around the courtyard while he wore it. His eyes began resting upon pebbles, blocks, and paving stones. The stones seemed strange to him after some time, appearing the way they would if he had not blinked for too long. In his mind the conceptual idea of “stone” had become something different now, when he looked at these things he saw something not hard and unchanging but something pliable, and responsive to a firm touch. He reached out and touched a small rock, and it felt like it was putty.
Adzua was quite astonished by all this, and asked where they had found such a wondrous bracelet. Dietrich explained that it had been retrieved from that floating fountain, the one that had been filled with ants. Adzua could hardly believe this; he was quite familiar with that place, and several others like it. The relics left by the Sodality of Conjurers were used as landmarks throughout Khirima by some, and Adzua had visited many of them. He began to tell Dietrich of the most notable of them.

There was the “ulo-elu mwute ifoalso called the Obelisk of Sorrows, a tower of bones that told only sad stories in which there was rumored to be a portal to a strange and happy land; one often visited by the Conjurers. There was a place called the Living Library (izubandu n'ọbá akwụkwọ), a round structure which contained a monstrous guardian beast that was bound by an unbreakable chain. This beast guarded a mystical key that was surrounded by a collection of living and breathing scrolls of knowledge. There was also too the Tomb of an Unknown Wizard (ili nke na-amaghị ama ọkachamara), a place which was contained within a sphere of water, and everything within that sphere was weightless. Dietrich bluntly asked Adzua which of these was closest, and so they went forth to the Obelisk of Sorrows that afternoon.

To reach the Obelisk of Sorrows they walked through the pleasant hum of commerce that defined the central area of the Trade Square to a much further edge of it, nearer to the inside of the city walls. It was more shabby and ill-maintained, it was an area behind several buildings and down an alley. A wide open area, very similar to the plaza where the Fountain of Ants was discovered. This was more of an empty lot with debris scattered about, and in the middle of it stood the structure called the Obelisk of Sorrows.

It stood about 30 feet tall, give or take, in the center of that lot. It was a four sided column which terminated in a point at the top. Two opposite sides of it had an archway leading through the interior, which was tall and wide enough for a several people to pass through quite easily. One could see to the other side with difficulty, because of thick puffs of smoke boiling throughout the interior of the structure.
It was made of small interlocking bones, almost weaved together like a basket. These could have been human or animal in origin, it was very hard to tell. In between the weaved bones there was an occasional lick of flame that threaded itself up along the the tower through the gaps, hard to avoid as they emerged seemingly from nowhere. It was unclear what this flame burned to produce the smoke inside, if this was indeed the source of smoke, and the bones seemed unharmed by it as well. There was faint whispering noise around the structure, constant but very quiet.

Having already interacted with a relic of the conjurers Dietrich encouraged the others to investigate the tower first. Adzua had no interest at all, and the others were less than enthusiastic, but ultimately  Gerald was bold enough to approach it. As he drew closer the whispering became clearer to him. It was in perfectly accented English. It was a true chorus of voices, but one of them was clear to his ears.

“A German man came to Khirima with his friends, they were seeking a fortune in  stolen silver. But, his friend summoned up a demon and it took him from this world. He is now lost forever.”

Gerald entered the confines of the obelisk, and saw that the smoke seemed to pour out from nowhere. The licking flames had not touched him, but the fumes stung his nose and eyes. He looked up, and he could not see the top of the obelisk through the haze. The walls were the same as the outside, just weaved bone, but looking down he saw a shimmering and indistinct point on the floor, and he walked towards it.

Baldwin and Dietrich, after quickly losing sight of Gerald in the smoke decided to approach the obelisk themselves. Baldwin went first, and after being nearly scorched by a passing flame overheard a perfectly accented german whisper relate a story to him. It was something about a man who had not been able to pay a proper amount of silver for the tribute, and so had taken on some kind of debt, and had now lost everything. A most unfortunate tale. As Baldwin stepped further into the smoke he saw a shimmering and indistinct point on the floor, and he walked towards it.

Dietrich came next. He instructed Adzua to watch for their return should they be gone for a long time, stopping by each day if he had to leave. Believing the sad stories to be a silly distraction, Dietrich simply walked straight into the fuming central chamber and towards the shimmering point in the floor shortly after Baldwin.
Each of them in turn fell through that point without warning into the void, reaching immense velocity as they plummeted through nothingness, losing all sensation of time and orientation in space.

Gerald was the first to land. Suddenly his fall had ceased, and he found himself standing upright on solid ground with a thin haze of acrid smoke dissipating into the air around him. That air around him seemed perfumed in a strange way; it was heady and sweet.

His eyes were facing towards the ground, and he saw the earth was pinkish, a dusty rose color, the thin blades of grass a silvery gray. The sky above was a very faint pea green, perhaps with wisps of electric blue, and there might have been either one or two suns hanging in the sky as well. Behind and beyond him was a vast landscape of vegetation as large as trees; but strange things that branched like coral, mossy-textured formations in a variety of light to dark purplish colors. The sounds all around him were strange trills and whistles, these were analogous to other sounds of other forests he had known, but none were the same as any he had heard before.

As his eyes leveled they faced towards a more distant point, and what seemed to be another Obelisk of Sorrows. This point was near the bottom of this place, which was revealed to be a large, bowl shaped sort of valley that he was along the side of. Near the obelisk was a squat and square tower of pale blue stone atop a smallish hill. Around this blue tower and hill was a landscape bereft of these purple trees but instead crowded with large growths. These resembled mushrooms, but were as large as the tree-like purple corals. They were speckled, streaked, and multicolored, and they surrounded the area of the tower and obelisk. There was also a series of what looked like very large pools or ponds, but each of them was riotous and bizarre color unlike any sort of water.
Gerald began to walk towards the obelisk, but then felt a strong blast of wind at his back after a few hundred paces, and when he turned saw that Baldwin had come along as well. The two were soon joined by Dietrich in a similar manner, and so they continued on together.
They began to see the occasional tiny mushroom poking out from the pink earth as marched onward, and Gerald gathered a few of the smaller fungi for later examination. These increased in size and frequency, while the purple corals became smaller and less frequent, until all around them was mushrooms. At this point they had also reached the area of the colorful ponds.

There were several distinct pools, but they were nearest one that was a whitish color, and Dietrich approached it with his waterflask drawn, then reconsidered taking a sample upon examining it.  It was fuzzy, like a molded piece of bread. They avoided this one, and instead approached a violet colored pool, with a smaller fuschia colored one beyond it. As they approached the violet pool they felt the tickling of a curious urge to go and see that white pool, the fuzzy mold one, once again.

Baldwin and Dietrich both realized this was folly; clearly some sort of unnatural persuasion. Gerald was clearly being influenced by it, and was stumbling back towards it. All that stopped him was a solid slap from Baldwin across the face, which brought him to his senses. Suddenly their minds began to be filled with a horrendous squealing emanating from the purple pool, like panes of glass being rubbed along gravel and stone, or an enraged kettle, and they fled to the next pool nearby to avoid it.

This banks of this pool of deep- verdant green sludge were covered in a thick layer of frost and ice. A thick chilly mist filled the air, and three posts stood nearby, with chains leading from them into the strange liquid. These lead into the slime. Two of these chains were attached to small casks, like one would use for beer or ale. Baldwin pulled out one of these casks, and found a small spigot on the front of it. He opened it, and a pinkish liquid fizzed out into the dirt. A floral, fruity, beer-like aroma filled his nostrils. While it was clear that this strange land had no laws like the Reinheitsgebot of Germany, Baldwin still decided to keep the barrel for a later tasting.

Dietrich, meanwhile, approached the bright orange pool beyond the green one. It lapped gently along the shores, as if there were a gentle breeze stroking its surface. He grabbed a small stone, and in a boyish fashion tried to skip it across the pools surface. It smacked the surface once, and is it coasted through the air afterward fizzled into nothing. Dietrich then grabbed a small, stick-like piece of brush and hurled it in, and this dissolved into its own reflection. Dietrich then walked to the green pool, and pulled out the second cask of fermented drink. He lugged this to the side of the orange pool and hurled it in, and as it hit the center of the mass its bottom did disintegrate and cause the liquids within to froth and vanish as the orange consumed it all effortlessly.

While all this transpired Gerald had approached the vibrant crimson pool, a shiny puddle of semi-liquid muck. He saw several orbs sitting along the edge of this pool, and gathered them up to examine them. One of these orbs contained what looked like only water, but had an odor coming off it just like the ripest sourdough bread. The next resembled water as well, but very dirty water with small flecks of corruption drifting about inside. It smelled like mold, or decay. The last one looked like fine black sand or gravel, and reeked of halitosis. After showing these to Dietrich, Gerald hurled the black-gravel orb into the orange pool, where it exploded into nothingness as it touched the surface and splattered.

He then tasted the sourdough-smelling water, by sucking a bit out of the transparent bubble, and found that the liquid inside it somehow transported itself out of his mouth and somehow back into the sphere. During this commotion Baldwin gazed up towards the tower and saw the outline of a figure against the green-colored sky, one who had clearly been observing them this whole time.

After becoming aware of this they thought they should now approach the tower, and perhaps speak to this figure. They ascended the hill, and saw before only a smooth and pale wall of blue stone with a ladder leaning against it. Dietrich began to imbue himself with the mystical powers of the bracelet, and started pulling out great handfuls of the stone wall next to the ladder like clumps of muddy oatmeal.
Baldwin instead climbed the ladder to the small balcony above, and saw that there was another ladder, leading downwards into the building. He lowered his head down into it, and as his eyes adjusted to the ambient light he heard several guttural, grunting vocalizations. His eyes fell onto 3 massive man-like forms, pale and malformed, completely covered in fungal-looking lumps and swellings. They rose up to their full height and grunted, pointing at him angrily while they lumbered forward.
Dietrich finally ripped a hole into the wall, and as he shook the stone from his hand saw a group of three enormous and malformed men, approaching Baldwin while pointing at him.

Gerald, who was watching the landscape beyond the pits, became quite alarmed when he saw figures the size of very small men, or large children, come into view. Their skin was a sickly orange, and their hair an ugly yellow-green. Behind them was a small contingent of tremendous men, or things like men. They were pale and malformed, and also completely covered in fungal-looking lumps and swellings.

The two orange things ran up to Gerald then, the lumpy men lumbering behind them. They began gibbering at him in shrill and obnoxious voices, in English thankfully, with each speaker alternating to finish the others sentences at various intervals. They were both remarkably ugly too, but not as malformed as the other creatures. Their faces seemed smeared, in a way.

“Interlopers! What brings you here? And why?” they sneered.
Gerald spoke quickly, explaining that they were only investigating the place, and meant no harm. He offered his hand to the small men.

“I am Gerard, and I am Torious” said each of them. Gerald was quite astonished at this, and introduced himself with enthusiasm. “Why, my name is Gerald!” he said.

“Yes, that is...a name.” Said one of them in response. Gerald questioned who they were, and they responded vehemently.

“We are the guardians of the great wonders of Vilnad the Master, gaze upon them in their glory!” One of them gestured towards the slime in a grandious fashion, but then they then noticed the damage done to the architecture by Dietrich. “WHY DO YOU DESTROY THE WONDERS OF GREAT VILNAD!?”

Gerald spoke again, trying to convey that this was all clearly a misunderstanding. They were only investigating, and had discovered many fascinating things. He then showed the the orb of dirty water, as an example.

“THEIF! You STEAL from VILNAD!” they cried out, enraged, but Gerald quickly apologized to them, and handed back the orb. This seemed to calm them only somewhat, but when he showed them the small mushrooms he had gathered earlier they took on a different demeanor entirely after a short pause.

“Oh, oh. You have touched the mushrooms? Then surely you are infected yes? You have been infected! And we must cure you! We will help you with your infection!” Each of them took him by the hand, and began walking him towards the slime pits. “We must anoint you with the healing slime to cure you of this infection, it is what we must do for you or else you will be consumed!”

Unable to precisely understand what the tiny and hideous orange men were saying, but fully aware that no good could come of them both walking his companion Gerald towards the slime, the acidic muck of the orange pit in particular, Dietrich ran towards them as they reached the banks. He grabbed one, Gerard to be precise, by the seat of his pants and the collar of his shirt. He transferred the momentum of his brief sprint into a forward heave-ho toss, which sent Gerard sailing through the air, wailing and flailing his limbs. He collided with the orange slime and began to deform and melt instantaneously, his entire body dissolving into nothing but the vague memory of former presence in only seconds.

Torious screamed out in rage and sadness as he ran to the edge of the pool, wailing at his loss and falling to his knees. “You have killed Gerard!” He moaned. He then reached from something attached to his belt, which he then threw towards Gerald and Dietrich. This projectile exploded at Gerald's feet, and although it flung out a great cloud of debris and noxious vapor he was able to shield his eyes from harm, allowing him to react to this assault, and follow up more properly to Dietrich's’ tossing of the dwarf by unleashing some hostile magic.
With a spirit of bile and invective Gerald spat out the forbidden words needed to Summon a creature from beyond reality and bend it to his will, so that he might enact vengeance on the grieving Torious. At his feet a deep marble pool of thick and unctuous blood bubbled out from a central point and formed into a wide diameter. Rising from this pool there emerged a tremendous dripping column of crystalline branches and fluorescent pseudopods; these countless appendages functioned as wriggling probosces, squirming legs, and also as the bearers of sticky, barbed claws that endlessly chattered in the air.

It rose up and out, gently arched across the greenish sky as it extended itself into this world and prepared to express its own will, not Geralds. For alas, Gerald had called forth a being more vast and terrible than he could possibly have any influence over, and this unknowable and nameless thing demanded from him an immediate sacrifice. He chose one.
Suddenly the curvature of the emerging column brought it down towards the balcony, and directly onto Baldwin's’ head. He was gouged by its crystalline thorns and sliced by its relentlessly gnashing pincers as it wrapped itself around him. He was pulled up into the air screaming and then down back into the blood-pool to the Hell-Dimensions. After the hateful column of flesh and light submerged into the pool it then drained away at Gerald's feet, leaving not a trace of it nor Baldwin in this or any other universe.

Torious fell to the ground terrified but unharmed. Unshaken by the appearance of a mere uncontrolled demonic entity Dietrich strode up to the squealing, apoplectic halfling and raised his boot to push him into the awaiting solvent. He kicked too high leaving his leg extended over Torious’ head. Torious then grasped for the hovering leg, but reached with such excess and ineptness that he flung himself instead towards the slime, rotating to land face first thereby dissolving his entire cranium into vapor before he was able to even begin to scream.

Edoni knew he would be executed on the spot if he were discovered to be a Necromancer in Khirima, but nonetheless he was still drawn there. Not only was he tempted by the rumors of the silver tribute, and notions of stealing it for himself, but also by tales of the Sodality of Conjurers and their mysterious treasures. He now found himself before one of those strange monoliths: The Obelisk of Sorrows.

As Edoni analyzed the skeletal structure he saw there was another man nearby, waiting in this otherwise empty plaza. Edoni spoke to him. He was called Adzua, and he told Edoni of these other men inside the obelisk now. They were outsiders who had hired him as a translator, and they were a group of Europeans. Edoni thought these men might be worthy allies, for who else would meddle with a relic of the lost Sodality but the bravest of souls? He stepped into the smoke surrounded by mournful whispers seeking them out, and soon found himself falling, but once in the strange valley he approached the blue tower in search of them still.

The malformed men stood by motionless as the watcher on the roof finally spoke. He shouted out. “You killed my brothers!”. After a pause he added, at a lower volume “I hated my brothers. Kill the rest, if you want to.” His words were listless, bitter-pitiful.

Gerald had a realization, and he drank down the sour-bread-water. The pungent taste of it filled his mouth completely, and just as his gaze focused on the roofs edge he realized that he was in fact there already on that roof and not on the ground below. He could now see exactly who this observer was.

The hundreds of eyes of the watcher all set their gaze upon him, dozens of narrowing pupils focused their gaze. It was a small creature like Gerard and Torious were, but its whole body was an agglomeration of countless functioning eyeballs, all of various sizes and colors. It spoke. Gerald asked what it was called, and why it was here.
“I am called Six-Eyes. I have many more eyes now, and I live here with my awful siblings. My sister is Hakana, and there is Mamsel, and Toxis, and Melinda too! We are the guardians of the wonders of Vilnid, but I have been abandoned by them, cast off because of my ruined body. Vilnad changed us all, and I once lived in pleasure and bliss with them, but not now, so I hate them now!” Six-Eyes shook with disdain.

Gerald questioned him further about Vilnid, and the tower, the spheres, and the obelisk.

“Those are the great works of Vilnid! Great Vilnid who left us, many years ago he left us. Beautiful in his pale blue armor, we think he left through the tower, but we do not know. We only know that we must protect his great works, but I can do this without my wretched siblings, so I am happy to see them die. The balls? Those are the fruit of the pits, the wondrous magics of the pits!”

After some time in conversation the taste of bread ceased to linger in Geralds’ mouth, and he found himself again on the ground below the tower. Six-Eyes, able to visually track his movements in all directions, continued the conversation by shouting.

“My hated siblings are in this tower, and you may do what you wish to them. I will not stop you!” He motioned to the still observing pale men, who lumbered away from the tower with some unknown purpose, as if he had commanded them silently with some detail. He returned to the middle of his balcony then, leaving the adventurers to their devices.

Dietrich saw the necromancer Edoni approach the tower then, and in a moment of wordless understanding brought about by their shared circumstances they realized likely had mutual interests. They attempted to communicate verbally, but he unfortunately spoke no German. They all decided to rest themselves a bit before entering the tower, and proceeding to rid it of any siblings.

Edoni was disturbed from this rest, and peered around the corner of the tower to find the source of the noise that awoke him. There stood along the other side of the tower three  multicolored  shimmering frogs the size of ponies, with an orange skinned creature seated upon the back of one. She waved about a strangely curved bone or stick, which was covered in odd runes and markings. She giggled madly, and as she babbled the three frogs all leapt into the distance, and after several great jumps were gone. One of Six-Eyes siblings, it seemed.

Dietrich, upon waking and consulting his spellbook, instructed his companions, as well as Six-Eyes, to move some distance away from the tower. He was restricted to only simple words and gestures due to the barriers of language, but was eventually successful.

Dietrich then used the spell Rockspeech to make a small request of the nearby hill which the tower sat upon. He asked it to toss off those things that lived upon it, or to be more precise, the thing which was built on its’ back. The hill did not understand the meaning of this at first, but found the task quite simple once it was comprehended. Unfortunately, as it began to do as Dietrich wished the ground itself began to tremble and convulse, the great mushrooms shaking as the earth shuddered.

The tower began to tilt as the hill rose ever so slightly, then it trembled as the hill sloped, and then it began to collapse as the hill rose more acutely. A great cloud of rolling pink dust kicked up as it slid and tumbled off towards the pits. There was the sound of collapsing stone, and hard things hitting liquids, and a strange chorus of screams within the disaster, and then silence. The ensuing dust cloud obscured their vision for some time, but once it had settled it could be seen that the formerly great tower had been shrugged off into the icy green pit of slime. Whatever had once been living inside it was now smashed, and frozen, and dead.

Six-Eyes emerged from the nearby forest both uneasy about the violation of the tower of Vilnad and overcome with morbid satisfaction at the elimination of his siblings that had dwelled within.

Dietrich still maintained some influence over the hill, and so instructed it to hollow itself as best it could, so that Six-Eyes might have a new dwelling. He directed this with detail once an entrance was formed, and he walked into the new interior.

While this transpired Gerald and Edoni examined the pits once again, to see if anything else might be found in them. The red pit offered them a bounty of orbs (five, to be exact) which they would examine later, though they noticed right away that one of them smelled of peaches, and was a bright orange color. They then carefully approached the white mold pit which had two at arm's length, Gerald tried to pluck one from the muck. A greyish cloud burped out after he pulled it though, and only at the last moment did Edoni manage to pull Gerald back while he stilled his breath and avoided inhaling it. They grabbed the second one that was there as well, Gerald with his breath held safely.

They then carelessly walked past the purple pit once again. Edoni was able to ignore its magical suggestion to return to that white pit, but Gerald was overcome once again. He began to march towards it, but Edoni grabbed him by the shoulders and held him back. The pit, supremely frustrated, unleashed the hideous squeal once again. Edoni was mostly unharmed, but Gerald was thoroughly ravaged by it and fell unconscious at once. Helpless and bleeding from the ears, nose, teeth, and eyes,  he was dragged by Edoni to the safety of the newly formed cave to recuperate, only a hair's breadth from the afterlife. They all rested once again, unsure of how much time could be passing due to the strange patterns of light in the sky.

Edoni stepped outside to see what other wonders might be found, but he found himself suddenly confronted by three familiar shimmering frogs the size of ponies, one of which had a wild-eyed orange skinned woman on the back of it. Her pupils were like enormous black soins, and she swung the curved bone-stick at his face while shouting incoherently about his being a Wicked-Demon-Monster-Brain, or something like that.

Edoni promptly drew his flintlock and shot at them, but the shot went astray. The frogs all nipped at him, but only one made contact. It also slathered him with a deliriant of some kind, but he resisted being deranged by its effects. Edoni then unleashed his dreaded Maleficence: an urchin-like array of white shafts of piercing magical force that emerged from places unknown and cut through the bodies of those three frogs and the inebriated orange woman atop the center pone. In a chorus of wailing and ribbiting they bound away, half-killed.

Gerald had been drawn out by the sound of gunfire, and just before the central frog had receded from view was able to provide a follow-up: through the magic of Bloodlust the central frog was transformed into a ravenous fanged beast. It bucked off its rider, and then ripped her to shreds with its freshly grown teeth. After half of her had been devoured or shredded it then leapt away in search of its former kin, or other prey, before returning to its former form in due time. Edoni approached the remainders of her body, and was quite pleased to finally take the strange bone-wand for himself.

Six-Eyes had seen it all occur. “That was Hakana you have killed. Now they are all dead. I am alone...I almost miss them.” Edoni spoke with Six-Eyes after they had gathered their wits once again: What was this strange wand? Six-Eyes was not sure, as Hakana was made quite insane from riding the hallucinogenic frog for so long.

All he knew was that it was called the Wand of Atrocity, and had a terrible power of some kind or another. After this conversation both Edoni and Dietrich had decided they had had enough of this strange land, and would now head to the Obelisk to at last depart from it. They came upon it and saw it was indeed the same as the one in Khirima; all weaved bone and winding fire. As Edoni entered the Obelisk, carefully avoiding the flames, he listened to the sad tale the whispers told him. The Igbo language is filled with proverbs and idioms, and this tower of bones spoke perfect Igbo.

“It is said that sometimes the wind itself is the hammer which strikes you down: A very cautious man once came to Khirima in search of silver, but a new friend he made was an impulsive one. His friend summoned up a dreadful demon; and it dragged the man into hell for all eternity.”
Gerald, meanwhile, was quite livid about the purple pit which had shredded his brain with psychic screaming. He asked the somber Six-Eyes how it might be destroyed, but Six-Eyes was appalled by this question. None could destroy the pits! He would destroy the destroyer first, surely, for he was the protector of the wonders of Vilnad! With his siblings dead it seemed that he had become newly focused on this old task.

Gerald then decided to leave as well, but at the smoky gates of the obelisk he performed a spiteful act before he bid the place farewell: he uttered the incantations for a Summoning. As the final syllables did leave his lips he saw a shape like a tremendous antler appear in the corner of his eyesight. It was an impossibly beautiful thing: it was made of the stuff of dreams, a sparkling prism of infinite complexity. Through it one saw only derangement and irrationality, impossible situations and scenery more unreal than even this place offered. It radiated malignant aggression and delirium, and Gerald had only managed to bring it forth like a rabid dog without any leash or harness. A moment before it would have skewered him he flung himself into the smoke, leaving it behind for Six-Eyes.

The three emerged from the smoke filled tower after being flung instead upwards at a great velocity, appearing somewhat disheveled and delirious and stinking of mysterious herbs and with their boots and coats covered in a fine pinkish dust. Adzua approached them, quite thoroughly confused, and asked “How were the two of you inside of that smoke for so long? Did you find anything? It was almost a half hour you were in there! And you, Edoni, are already finished? You have just arrived! And where is Baldwin?”

They gave only vague answers, and proposed a visit to the Library. Most of this session came from "The Molds & Slimes of Vilnid" by Dyson Logos, published in Narcosa. Goblin Punch provided this perfect and wonderful list of liquids.