5 Dec 2007

Spirit of the Century - Session 7


As Clay clings on to the controls of the wild machine the unnatural illumination of the vast room reveals a section of the machinery, glowing and expanding.

Clay flings himself towards a covered vent in the floor, and pries it open, but the explosion throws him hurtling through the entrance. When the maelstrom subsides Clay comes-to and finds himself in the safety of the vent twitching uncontrollably. Sounds of a pitch battle emanate from above, between the Nautiloids and their rebelling Slave Race and Clay decides to find his way, via the vents, back to the office and his prone friend Oriole.

Oriole knows of death, he finds himself in the Endless Plain and looks down for the footprints he must follow to the Land of the Dead, and sees none. This is a time long ago, the first of his people to die has not yet walked the path for others to follow, Oriole realises with wonder that he must find his own path on a vision quest to wherever that may lead. He strikes out in the direction that feels right and wanders endlessly across the featureless plain until he comes across an oasis tainted with blood.

By now, the flooded office is red with blood, and Clay locates Oriole lying with a barbed harpoon dart straight through his chest. Clay lifts and cradles his dead friend, pulling the dart through from behind, a dark red cloud follows in it's wake. Clay reaches out with his mind in an attempt to make at least some slight contact with his fallen comrade, and remembering a terrible thing from his battles against the occult, he cuts his wrist open with the harpoon, and meditates upon the fresh blood that spills into the room. The blood flows out and forms a trail for him to follow.

Oriole is amazed to find himself next to his friend Clay, and greets him “How”, but Clay shrugs and says that he does not know.*

Doc and Sylvie contemplate the friends that they have left behind. Docs old Blood Brother scars begin to bleed and he senses that Oriole is somehow not dead but lost. Realising that he is now in the mysterious valley of Oriole's clan, he decides to recreate a ritual of self torture that he experienced in becoming Oriole's Blood Brother; in order to contact his adopted clan. As Doc performs these strange rights, Sylvie decides to have a look round, and comes upon a group of Apache, carrying an elder who says in broken English that he is following Docs call and is here to help bring back Oriole. Sylvie expresses her doubts, as Oriole is dead, but the seer states with conviction that Oriole is not yet in the Land of the Dead. The ancient Apache explains that Oriole could be brought back by creating a beacon in the spirit world, and offers Sylvie a central role in the painful and arduous rituals alongside Doc.

Oriole and Clay wander in the endless plain until Oriole espies a high hill, and explains to Clay that they must climb it in order to see far, as they are lost far back in time. They embark on a direct path, and come across the tracks of a big cat, Oriole is convinced they have nothing to fear from the tracks of a Mountain Lion but Clay suspects that, as they are so far back in the past, they may belong to a far more vicious creature. Clay persuades him to be more cautious and taking a sheltered route they spot a Sabre Toothed Lion on the side of the hill, and Oriole is grateful that they followed the Path of Friendship.

The Apache clansmen take down the unconscious body of Doc, and build a large tent in which to hold the beacon ritual. Sylvie declines their kind offer and asks if she can be useful in a less painful manner. The warriors ask Sylvie to stand guard with them outside the tent, as such rituals attract many foes. Doc surfaces from unconsciousness in a wild ritual of dancing and pain, and in his delirium he follows the guiding voice of the seer, to embrace his pain and stand tall in the spirit plain.

Outside, a beam of light flashes out from the brush, and scythes through two warriors on a path towards Sylvie. She leaps over the beam with catlike grace, and bounds towards it's source. Her lash arcs viciously into the brush, gripping and pulling the leg of the fiendish Martian bent on revenge. The Martian struggles, bearing his deadly weapon upon Sylvie at close range, but she evades it, by pulling him onto his back. The beam cuts wildly above, and disturbs a rock outcrop, and as Sylvie dives clear the rocks pin the Martian down and entomb him.

At the top of the hill Oriole and Clay peer over the strange and indistinct landscape of the spirit world, and Oriole sees a large figure on the horizon, which explodes into a cloud of blood. “We must go that way” says Oriole recognising it as a signal from Doc, and they set out towards the vision.

In the heady atmosphere at the heart of the ritual, amongst the wild dancing, and the heat and smoke from the fire, Oriole and Clay emerge from the shadows. They are embraced in great celebration at the return of lost friends.

And so our heroes have all returned from the distant past, the Martian's plan foiled. The Apache considered the Martian's punishment and settled on leaving him to his own fate, beneath the rocks, deep in the wilderness. We can only speculate on how the rebellion fared but the Nautiloid threat has not been felt since.

* Yes, we are aware that this greeting is not very Apache, but this is a pulp genre joke and we couldn't resist its corniness. http://www.native-languages.org/iaq16.htm

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