The Broken Lands and ki-lin: Part 3 (log)

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From the annual Beacon Hall and Twilight Hall Ki-Lin hunt of Frontier Days, 8/5/5117. This had the bad luck of happening at the exact same time as the Dev Round Table at SimuCon 2017 which was being live streamed, having been pushed back due to delays at the conference. Some of this audience wandered in half-way through it.

[Beacon Hall Annex, Commons Park]
Shielded by a thick evergreen hedge, this broad expanse of lush green lawn provides a welcome respite from the chaotic world just beyond the arch.  Not many steps away, a large and elegantly drooping willow provides a shady resting place.  Further in and across the way, an open gazebo shelters a rope hammock, several comfortable looking pillows, and a wobbly tea cart.  A pebbled path meanders over to the far corner, leading to a large glass-domed sandstone building.  You also see the Burgoczorn disk, a skinny frosty white imp, an orange tiger, a disconsolate luck spirit that is flying around, a crimson and ivory canvas tent with an open tome over the entrance and a shiny pickle barrel.
Also here: Xorus, Krakii, Ylandra, Goldstr, Pendowilt, Nuc, Arcon, Arceth, Ponclast, Jandria, Relic Hunter Rolfard, Great Lady Rendena, Starmizt, Keeper Astru, Boatswain Reidar, Fyonn, Melikor, Burgoczorn, Chancellor Kaldonis
Obvious paths: none

>look Xorus
You see Xorus Kul'shin the Soulslayer.
He appears to be a Dark Elf.
He is tall and has a gaunt frame.  He appears to be ancient.  He has dark-rimmed violet eyes and dark skin.  He has shoulder length, flowing silver hair.  He has a gaunt face, a sharp nose and a spider-shaped birthmark on his wrist.
He is in good shape.
He is holding a chalice of venom in his right hand and an attractive Scalu symbol in his left hand.
He is wearing a shadowy black hood, a dark silver moonstone-inset diadem, a moon-filled veil iron pendant, an opaque glass amulet, a crystal amulet, a high-collared black leather coat, a rune-etched pink topaz pin, a deathstone inset ora stickpin, a blackened leather wand harness, a silver trim black leather backpack, some vruul skin casting leathers, a twisted gold ring, an emerald-set black faenor ring, a small abyran'ra skull, a silvery mail sack, a pair of studded black leather pants, and some thigh-high black leather boots.

Xorus says, "In the past I have spoken of the corruption of Uthex Kathiasas by the cult of Bandur Etrevion, the dark mage and 'lord high sorceror' of the necropolis we know as the local graveyard. Last year I addressed how their fell abominations in the Broken Lands are depraved soul mutilations."

Xorus says, "The broken lands are an underworld of coexistent dominions, though truly a realm of mind and will made manifest, filled with wondrous things that are mockeries of wandering and transplanar entities."

Xorus says, "The dark vorteces are obviously kindred to the shadowy voidlings of Althedeus. The fog beetles are the bed bugs of the infernal pales. And so on, and so forth."

Xorus says, "Except these are unnatural hybrids, much like the vesperti, the elf-bat things of Foggy Valley. The work of a most arrogant luminary of Fash'lo'nae."

Xorus remarks, "I trust you will find that the work of Uthex and his crystal dome will prove quite relevant to the restoration of Lich's Landing."

Xorus says, "What has most often been missed is its relation to Shadow Valley, another desolate wasteland out of joint with time, where nightmares merge with the waking world."

Xorus says, "It was only a bit over six thousand years ago, within a few centuries of Bandur Etrevion, that Shadow Valley was instead in the Lysierian Hills."

Xorus says, "It was still there, or perhaps only there, shortly after its tragedy. The flows were unstable when Selias Jodame compiled its story from tavern tales."

Xorus says, "In fact, there are identical 'moaning spirits' in the ruins of Castle Anwyn, which belonged to the royal family of Terate Niebelun."

Xorus says, "Terate as you may recall was much older than he appeared, and almost destroyed the world for the Vvrael."

Xorus says, "He was killed in a backlash from The Rift. But before that he was the prince of that kingdom."

Xorus says, "The relevance of the fallen kingdom of the Niebelun to Shadow Valley will be clear later."

Xorus says, "The Lysierian Hills have a dark history of demonic and other powers lying hidden deep underground. The idyllic surface has always been a facade for its secrets."

Xorus says, "Castle Anwyn has its deep underground chasm, the Broken Lands is hidden under a mountain tarn."

Xorus says, "... and then there was 'Silver Valley', perhaps the most infamous of all."

Xorus says, "In that time Silver Valley, as it was called, was famous for its wild horses. Many legends spread about the silver-hooved equines that could not be tamed."

Xorus says, "The rumor the tourists were told was that there was some terrible monster from another plane of existence sleeping beneath the valley."

Rolfard grins wryly.

Xorus says, "Much as fortune hunters fancy legendary kingdoms of silver, in its own fashion this was the dragon hording it all."

Kaldonis exclaims, "Yes yes, everyone please, hold your questions to the end!"

Kaldonis just nudged Rolfard.

Xorus says, "It was said to have opened a gateway and burst up through the ground, perhaps not so very long before, as there were many such instabilities in that time period."

Xorus says, "The horses fought back this demon and knocked it unconscious, driving it into the depths of the earth, warding it from emerging again ever since."

Xorus wryly dismisses, "It is, in fact, a fairy tale. The horses would have no such power over the lands, unless they were not horses at all."
Jandria nods.

(Rolfard covets his ki-lin horn.)

Xorus says, "This 'wyrm' as the demon has been called was a flying serpent known in some circles as a Terrorite, often lieutenants of more powerful 'Demon Lords' called Ordainers."

Xorus says, "There is a questionably unconscious such lord that 'reigns supreme' in the haunted walls of Bonespear Tower."

Xorus says, "There are still other legends of huge serpents in chthonic realms where time flows at different rates, with vast hordes of precious metals, transforming those who harm snakes into humanoid-faced snake things."

Xorus darkly speculates, "I imagine this has some heritage in common with the abyran and missing Faendryl of Lorae'tyr."

Kaldonis blinks.
Kaldonis mutters chthonic.
Kaldonis gibbers incoherently.

Xorus says, "Whatever their relation, 'Terrorites' were also notorious for turning up unexpectedly in other planes of existence, knocking out helpless summoners with sleep poison from their fangs."

Xorus says, "They summon their own demonic servants who are known to ride 'night mares', cursed horses who seek retribution for past wrongs. Nightmares proper are victims of demonic possession, but it will carry out vengeance regardless upon whomever beat the dead horse."

Xorus says, "This would turn out very badly for the wyrm in the distant future, a little over twenty years ago from the present day, as the horses in their defiance returned in a sky rift and destroyed it, after a few ghostly pookas were uncursed from their chains and transformed themselves into a giant shadow steed."

Fyonn blinks.

Jandria blinks.

Xorus says, "In spite of outward appearances to the contrary, the pookas and shadow steeds are the same thing."

Xorus says, "This will sound much less strange later, when I speak of the true nature of the horses."

Ponclast ponders.
Burgoczorn furrows his brow.
Astru nods.
Ponclast removes a ghostly toy pooka from in his wool cloak.

Xorus says, "When they first imprisoned this world dragon of drought and nightmares, they were still living and stampeding for others to tell the tale, and the valley itself was none the worse off for it."

Xorus says, "Such was the state of affairs for many years, until an immortal named Muylari was forced to bring a mining crew to Silver Valley, undoubtedly seeking out legendary underworlds with vast wealths of silver."

Xorus says, "Muylari means 'the watcher' in an archaic elven dialect called Erlini. His birth name is unknown, he might not even remember it."

Xorus says, "The Ordainers happen to also be known as 'Death Watchers', or Vog Muylari in that idiom."

Xorus says, "He was in bondage to some dark elven master who commanded him to mine the valley. This was most likely Lorgalis, the warlord whom Kestrel Etrevion served later, and whose fiefdom was usurped by Bandur."

Xorus says, "Uthex was killed in the same year Lorgalis conquered this whole region with the aid of the Ordainer known as Kharuugh. It was undoubtedly why his fellows came here searching for him."

Xorus says, "The shrine of Imaera on Lake Marliese, who like many things in the region was herself a shapeshifter, depicts the devastation to the landscape in that conquest."

Xorus says, "Whoever the master was, given that the folk tales of Muylari and the mares are too imperfect to clarify it, his mining crew woke up the beast."

Xorus says, "The miners were slaughtered, the horses became undead, all the valley turned to dust. Most intriguing of all was the water."

Xorus says, "The wells and rivers and ponds were replaced with a viscous caustic ooze with awareness and the will to devour."

Xorus says, "It is strikingly similar to the ooze of the magru, the blood of the Vvrael, the blood of the Ur-Daemon of Teras Isle, the black ichor and sludge of the Red Forest."

Xorus says, "These places are all marked with deep similarities, such as strange mists and time distortions, and quite often infestation by some variety of the fog beetles."

Xorus says, "The valley was filled with dust beetles before the shadow mares and steeds returned to avenge themselves. I was not in this region when it happened."

Xorus says, "There was also a treacherous ladder instead of the clay ramp, which some hazarded to avoid the miners."

Xorus clears his throat.

Xorus says, "The Red Forest is the most recent of these poisoned landscapes with a dormant force of darkness, intriguing in its own right as a haunted realm of transmogrified things and spirits, sprites and flying serpents, shifting in and out of phase with our world and coexisting in multiple places or times."

Xorus says, "Much like the mythical 'isles of transfer', islands said to move around or vanish from our reality, which are to be avoided as exceptionally dangerous."

Xorus says, "The forest became unstable like Shadow Valley because of a rare lunar alignment mixing badly with the disruptions from the elemental confluence."

Xorus says, "Something celestial may have affected Shadow Valley, but if so, it was not recorded by local fortune hunters."

Xorus says, "Much more subtly, the Lysierian Hills are a realm not only of the demonic but also the fey, who transform into malevolent spirits from violence or corruption to their surroundings."

Xorus says, "There are, for example, 'faerie rings' of mushrooms in its clearings which are formed by fey dancing in circles, much as the mischievous Ilvari do in the Red Forest with its glowing fog."

Xorus says, "Ilvari itself is a debased off-shoot of another archaic elven dialect. The Ilyari were 'high elves', Erlini were 'wood elves.' The words descend etymologically from 'beauties' and 'growers' in Iruaric, the ancient language used in the Broken Lands."

Xorus says, "The Ilvari are fey who take the form of elves, but like the fire sprites of the Glaes Caverns, were twisted and warped by dark powers."

Xorus says, "Never walk into a fairy ring, say the old wives tales. They will kidnap your children and replace them with changelings, or steal you away to their fairy lands, where centuries will pass while you sleep."

Xorus says, "Still others hint at darker truths, saying the rings are burned into the ground, formed by the tails of sleeping flying dragons."

Xorus says, "Pookas happen to be shapeshifting fey, in this case cursed unto undeath, often appearing as horses in heavy chains."

Xorus says, "So-called 'knockers' are pixies who take the form of spectral miners pounding on the walls of cave-ins."

Xorus says, "Moaning spirits are essentially a variety of banshee, much as the bainsidhe of Castle Anywn."

Xorus says, "In short, things are not what they appear to be in Shadow Valley, much less the equines."

Xorus says, "They were undoubtedly a kind of shapeshifting water spirit known as 'kelpies', accused of being 'demon horses' for drowning those foolish enough to ride them."

Pendowilt asks, "Are we talking about the viishri?"
Pendowilt giggles.
Kaldonis says, "They should just race horses and put up bets."

Kaldonis says, "That's what'd they'd do in the rest, ghost horses would just get higher bets."

Xorus says, "Which is so much to say the reason no one had ever ridden a horse of Silver Valley was because no one ever lived to speak of it."

Xorus says, "Leaving us nothing but fairy tales, in the most literal meaning of the words. Water spirits traumatized by drought."

Xorus says, "For the same reason the sea nymphs are driven mad by the volcanic wasteland of the Coastal Cliffs."

Xorus says, "Or for that matter, the kappas possess much the same disposition, luring and drowning victims."

Xorus insipidly muses, "While silver is mined in those hills, the mythical treasure was always water."

Xorus says, "Faeries are often associated with Otherworlds beneath mounds, where time is thought to run differently compared to our world, just as 'wyrms' are said to guard burial mounds of dead kings. This is undoubtedly part of the reason Shadow Valley with its fairy magic would eventually merge under the graveyard."

Xorus says, "The keep of Castle Anwyn is built on its own mound, descending deep into a summoning chamber adorned with nymphs, which has a chasm into bottomless darkness."

Xorus says, "One can see the naiads, the fresh water nymphs, as spectral lights in the fog. The so-called 'fools fire' of Shadow Valley, the Red Forest, and Lough Ne'halin."

Speaking to Xorus, Pendowilt asks, "Sort of how where the Stronghold is now was once where we banished a bunch of creatures?"

Xorus says, "Which means something to the effect of 'lake without salt', in spiteful contrast to the 'lake of tears' of Lorminstra regarding lost souls."

Speaking to Pendowilt, Xorus says, "It has been a very long time since I have been through that valley and its stone creatures."

Xorus clears his throat.

Xorus remarks, "In some traditions it is the pookas who lure wanderers with their 'faerie fire' who become lost in the will o' the wisp."

Xorus says, "There are even old legends that the King of Anwyn is the king of the faeries, leading the wild hunt of hell hounds that are to bring souls beyond this world."

Xorus says, "It happens that hell hounds have appeared in the summoning chamber of Castle Anwyn, an ancient cavern or purgatory descending into a 'vale perilous', while Shadow Valley is such a vale with night hounds which are servants of darkness itself."

Xorus says, "The ki-lin have a similar role as 'psychopomp' reapers in myths. They are said to appear with the births and deaths of immortal sages."

Xorus says, "They are also of an elemental nature, much as these water spirits of Anwyn, and the zephyr hounds of Shadow Valley."

Xorus says, "The ki-lin should prove immune to cold if we come across one, associated as they are with ice and moonlight."

Xorus says, "Interestingly, Terate himself wore a ki-lin horn, while the lich monastery was unknown for thousands of years."

Xorus says, "I suspect that Uthex Kathiasas, or even Lorgalis, may have been the father or grandfather of Terate."

Xorus says, "Lorgalis was known to own a 'Blade of the Void.' Terate was notorious for his void blade."

Xorus says, "And his mother, of course, herself became demonic. The Demon Queen of Anwyn."

Xorus says, "It is most interesting that the village next to Silver Valley was named Valeskar, while the Ordainer of Bonespear Tower is Maleskari the Demon Lord of Undeath, and Shadow Valley anchored itself next to Bandur Etrevion, who in his sleeping death immolated himself in ice deep below the earth as Ordainer symbolism."

Xorus says, "The Niebelun had their own mythical cursed treasure hidden in a cavern, guarded in some stories by fairies and others by a dragon. Much as the Dark Shrine insinuates the origins of Marlu as a servant of Eorgina, being a 'spirit born of death', her assassin Onar supposedly draws his power from the 'living stone' beneath their kingdom which in turn held him as their patron."

Xorus says, "Regardless. The underground portal to the Broken Lands was undoubtedly first discovered by Bandur Etrevion, who would have learned the story of Shadow Valley and its underground portal from the journals of Selias Jodame, who had been a Sage of the Library of Biblia where Bandur lived before he was banned for theft."

Xorus says, "It is quite possible that it is the very same portal. The monastery has furniture depicting wild horses within it."

Xorus remarks, "Which incidentally was probably ripped open by a rare unnatural comet from an interdimensional rift."

Xorus says, "But there are many dark powers below the Lysierian Hills, whether original or unnaturally ascendant."

Xorus concludes, "The question is where else are they, and when will they wake up? Thank you."

Questions

Kaldonis says, "But I'd like to open the floor to five minutes of questions, please raise your hand to ask and I will point at you."

Fyonn slowly says, "Never made the connection between the pookas and the steeds before."

Xorus taps an attractive Scalu symbol.

Xorus says, "Sheru's harbingers were unique in that they rode nightmares instead of black unicorns."

Krakii glances at Kaldonis and raises her hand.

Krakii asks, "There a difference between the 'nightmare steed' (like under a Harbinger) and the 'night mare' out inna Shadow Valley?"

Kaldonis turns to face Xorus.

Krakii agrees with Pendowilt.

Speaking to Krakii, Pendowilt says, "The other one can't hold a harbinger of death."

Kaldonis glances at Pendowilt, inspecting him carefully with an expression of cocksureness.

Kaldonis touches one finger to his lips.

Kaldonis says, "Please let the speaker respond."

Xorus says, "The steeds are males, the mares are females. The curious thing is whether the night mares in Shadow Valley were the horses, or something possessing their dead bodies."

Xorus says, "The nightmare steeds seem to be able to travel between worlds. They show up indoors in places you would not imagine them accessing."

Kaldonis asks, "Next question?"

Kaldonis asks, "Anyone then?"

Burgoczorn raises his hand.

Kaldonis says, "Yes please."

Burgoczorn asks, "There has seemingly been an advent of, for lack of a better term, these landscapes that are corrupted by extra-planar forces.  Is there a pattern to this corruption and is anywhere specifically at risk for being next?"

Kaldonis glances between Burgoczorn and Xorus.

Rolfard nods sagely at Burgoczorn.

Rolfard turns to face Kaldonis.
Rolfard turns to face you.
Rolfard raspily asks, "May i?"
Kaldonis says, "A good question."
Xorus nods at Rolfard.
Kaldonis nods at Rolfard.
Kaldonis says, "As you like."

Rolfard raspily says, "A famous Blade and I have had  a lot of discussion over this."

Kaldonis asks, "Though if the speaker cedes the question, do we have others for the speaker?"

Rolfard raspily says, "The barrier between the planes has been pierced and weakened numerous times in recent days."

Kaldonis says, "Otherwise I'd like a round of applause again for Xorus."
Kaldonis gives Rolfard a friendly little kick.

Rolfard raspily says, "This increase in crossplane invasions is a concern that we are consulting the Patriach, Riaches."

Xorus remarks, "Alusius chose Solhaven in particular to pull his gambit with the elemental confluence because the barriers between realities were so weakened and damaged."

Xorus says, "Which greatly exacerbated the situation in northwest Elanith especially."

References

This lecture is the third part in a series about the Broken Lands and its surrounding context: