EXT. Cabin in the woods - morning
The party detours on the way back south to the crashed airship in order to investigate the mysterious cabin Greibel had discovered out in the woods.
It turns out to be a nice enough cabin, rustic but well-maintained, out in the middle of the woods with no apparent trails to or from, foothills towering up behind it. It has a small porch out front, with rabbits hanging from the rafters, a pair of shovels against the wall, and a rocking chair by the door.
There's nobody visible, but someone clearly lives here.
The Gravedigger looks over the shovels. They look decent. Some clearly have very different purposes (snow, roots, ???) and are more or less beat up as a result. The snow shovel looks particularly (ab)used.
Rhu looks around for anything in front of the cabin - he finds that there seem to be signs of people using the door. Tracks and stuff. (rolled 16 perception)
Ganelon (Radek): Hmm. I think we need Gravy.
Frezak (Gravy): You always need Gravy. He's a rock in this ocean of chaos and uncertainty.
Apheori (GM): Which is why Amadi is sitting on him.
Rhu makes eye contact with Greibel, gestures towards the door, and nods confidently.
Greibel looks to the door wondering what's going on.
Greibel blinks at Rhu.
(whispering to Greibel)
It's the door. People use the door when they go in or out.
Greibel looks back at the door.
That's a... that's a very useful observation Rhu.
Greibel pats Rhu on the back and goes and tries the door. It's unlocked, so he opens it.
Gravy twiddles a horn and looks about properly. (rolled 35 perception) He gest the impression that only one person actually lives here, no sign of visitors, apparently some pets. Possibly ferrets.
Keep an eye out for ferrets, guys.
Pets, I think. Wild ones have bigger feet.
As they discuss the ferrets, a woman comes around the corner of the cabin, having apparently been working around the back. She is old and wizened, and she smiles welcomingly.
Welcome, welcome! What can old Grenity do for you?
From atop the Gravedigger, Amadi smiles welcomingly back.
HELLO. I'M THE GRAVEDIGGER. DO YOU HAVE FERRETS?
THOSE ARE UNRELATED FACTS.
Oh, I wouldn't say I have the buggers. More they have me.
Like cats. Cats have your dreams.
Pssst! Hey. It's the house. People use it when they want to not be outside.
Greibel winks. Then, having exhausted his joke, he looks around and absentmindedly heads inside to the kitchen looking for tea.
Rhu glances after him, then stays outside by the door in order to keep an eye on the suspicious old lady.
YOU WERE KIDNAPPED BY FERRETS?
The Gravedigger hefts his shovel and scrutinises the area.
Not hardly. They just run over everything.
Grenity goes to look at what Greibel and Rhu were doing by the door, hands on her hips.
Why are you yelling? Is he yelling? Gravy, are you yelling?
Don't worry. I'm a professional. She's old. Old people don't hear well.
(over her shoulder)
I hear just fine, thank you.
ARE YOU SURE?
Well, if you keep yelling, I may not be.
Well, it's nice to meet you.
Amadi nods several times to the old woman.
And you, young lady!
...I might have met you before. I don't remember. I'm old; it's allowed.
Old? Older than dirt? Old as Dream, perhaps?
Grenity switches to a completely different language which doesn't even seem to be a language at all, and then adds in a whisper:
You don't look like dirt.
Grenity nods several times as well.
(whispering very loudly to Amadi)
(whispering back, perplexed)
The Gravedigger points theatrically at the old woman.
Frezak (Gravy): Pretty sure Gravy doesn't know how to whisper.
Some hearing loss can be very slight. You don't even know it's there unless you have sophiscated technology. Which we do.
Well, come on in, let's get you some tea. It's obviously been a long journey, and you must be exhausted.
Grenity waves everyone inside and follows inside after Greibel.
No tea for me, thanks.
He follows Grenity inside.
(whispering back to Gravy)
Oh, HER. I thought you meant THEM.
Amadi points at the old woman.
Amadi points at the old lady again.
Oh. Oh. OOOOOH. Riiiiight. Yes. I knew that.
That she's a them. I totally knew that. Yes.
YES LET US GO INSIDE WITH THIS OLD WOMAN WHO IS NOT SEVERAL PEOPLE.
The Gravedigger winks theatrically at Amadi.
The Gravedigger heads inside with Amadi. Radek follows.
INT. Grenity's house - day
Inside is... house stuff. Furniture and lamps and all the usual trappings. A living room full of sofas - very, very comfy-looking ones, at that - gives way to to a small kitchen. A short wall divides the two rooms.
In the kitchen, Greibel is making tea. A huge pot of stew is boiling on the stove next to him, and the smell that drifts out is lovely, a savoury mix of herbs and vegetables.
The others all pile in as well, crowding around Greibel and the stove. They all only barely fit.
Greibel turns around to see everybody in the room and blinks.
The Gravedigger waves at Greibel from the other side of the tiny room.
Radek scowls at Greibel from right next to him.
You could do with soup, I expect. Bowls are in the cupboard, go ahead and grab some. Got plenty for everyone these days.
She attempts to bustle and fails miserably on account of a lack of space.
Amadi sits on Gravy to take up less space.
(opening the lid)
Gosh, this is a lot of soup. Were you expecting us?
To a point. Sometimes the trees give warning, and so few visitors come by these days.
You talk to trees? Hey, Greibel does that too! Man.
As soon as Greibel actually looks at the woman, he realises she is, in fact, ferrets. Six of them.
Greibel giggles at seemingly nothing.
Do you want some soup, Radek?
You do! I saw you suck the juice out that deerthing. Back in soemthingplace.
The Gravedigger will wave a bowl in front of Amadi.
Amadi takes some soup and digs in.
Greibel hovers around Grenity inspecting her hair curiously. It's very interesting, defying several very important laws of physics. It's a ctually a very good illusion, considering.
Greibel mumbles things excitedly.
It's old magic, very important out here. Got all sorts of herbs, too, if you need.
I'll thank you not to disgrace my methods by placing them in the same category as eating, Gravy.
Okay. Do you want some soup?
Greibel mouths "Fascinating".
Sorry about Radek, old lady, he's a grump.
Is that a yes?
...Oh. Did you say... heeeeerrrbssss?
This is some lovely and filling soup.
Well... I would be very grateful if you would so choose to show me to these herbs.
Grenity shows Greibel her herbs. There are a lot of them. A lot. This takes awhile. Some are hallucinogens, some seasoning, some medicinal. One looks like a very powerful antipsychotic, which could have interesting effects if tried on, say, Amadi or Dawn...
Greibel looks in Rhu's direction and taps his nose reassuringly.
Amadi starts singing "Beautiful soup".
The Gravedigger and Rhu notice there don't seem to actually be any ferrets around. (both rolled 34 perception)
Amadi? Is she... them magic? Like a lot?
Because there are no ferrets.
Sooooooooooooouuuuup of the eeeeeeeeeeeevening~!
Radek checks Grenity for magic. (rolled 28 arcana) It appears she has some sort of illusion up, possibly to conceal just how old and decrepit she really is, but he can't tell for sure.
Rhu gets the distinct impression that the woman is indeed deceiving them. (rolled 28 insight (natural 20)) But she also seems as though she doesn't actually mean them any harm and is genuinely very happy to actually have visitors for a change.
Also she's old. Like... more old.
Psssssst. Raaaadek. Heeeeey.
Can you turn off her illusion? Because you see, there are no ferrets. She might be a bunch of really old ferrets. A ferret legion.
(turning on the Gravedigger)
I am NOT ferrets.
Prove it! Where are the ferrets?
You prove it! Prove you... aren't a squid!
I think you're really nice.
I have hands. Squids don't have hands. Or, you know, breathe air.
They can if you magic them.
(calming down a bit)
The ferrets are outside, probably sleeping. I dunno, I only really see them for dinner, usually.
AHA. SO YOU ARE A MAGIC FERRET!
Radek clears his throat and tries to ignore the fact that there is in fact a cephalopod resting upon his head. Gibbering.
All of you. Very nice.
Radek attempts to dispell whatever illusion it is Grenity is using. (rolled 29 arcana) This has no effect beyond messing up her hair a bit and earning Radek an annoyed look.
Radek blinks in surprise.
Greibel blinks as well.
I don't think she means us any harm, Gravy.
...I want hot chocolate.
Do you have some hot chocolate for the magical midget, old lady that isn't ferrets?
Oh, I wish I had chocolate. Haven't even seen a chunk since I left Ord.
Of course maybe she says hot chocolate and means obsidian bees.
...I have some... not hot chocolate? Could you make it hot? Pleeeease?
Amadi digs out a very modern plate of chocolate. From her pocket. Not from her hair. Though she did consider it.
Grenity nods and takes the plate of chocolate, and gets out a pot and stuff and starts mixing and boiling it with milk and stuff.
Rhu plops down on one of the sofas. It's quite comfy.
Ord again... What is Ord?
It's the... other. The mirror universe where they have shiny hats and buoys and chocolate and all things good and nice.
Oh... I think I have Ord in my pocket!
Amadi fishes out a shiny hat. It's small and full of christmas lights.
Don't they have boys here, too?
Grenity gives Rhu a weird look.
Nobody here knows it because they don't want to know it. They don't care for the opportunity they gave up, so they pretend this is the best they have. Except what they left was very much like Ord, back in the day. They've all just... forgot.
So why are you here?
I was here before, and I will be here 'til the world falls.
(still looking through the herbs)
Unlikely. Ferrets only have a lifespan of seven to ten years.
Rhu gives Greibel a weird look.
Grenity gives Amadi, Greibl, and the Gravedigger hot chocolate, keeping a mug for herself, and pushes her way back over to Greibel and the herbs.
Thank you! All of you, this is so nice!
Amadi drinks hot chocolate with much happiness. It's a bit thick and very dark, but good.
Rhu casts admiring glances at Grenity's nose when he thinks nobody's looking.
Grenity puts a little of the antipsychotic in her chocolate.
So what do you think? Have anything to trade?
Greibel shows Grenity the ring he took off of that skeleton in the underground complex.
Grenity takes the ring and nods at it admiringly.
So many stories. So much history, lost to the worlds.
Yeah, and it's not even +1 or anything.
Grenity offers some of her best hallucinogens and an antipsychotic in exchange.
Excellent. This will do nicely.
They make the trade.
If you need more herbs, I'd be happy to trade her a partially digested light fixture.
Well, what are you waiting for?
Greibel gestures for Rhu to do that.
Rhu offers Grenity a half digested light fixture.
I also have a bunch of mushrooms from that stoned, jailed philosopher back in Coffle, if any of you want a bit. That was powerful stuff.
Grenity looks it over, then looks quite surprised.
I... do not recognise this. Where did you get it?
Are you referring to the technology?
The history. The stories. They're not...
Grenity stops and actually gives you all a proper look.
You're it. You're the answer.
Amadi hums a little more of the soup-song.
We found it in a pile of splatter in Sarathi.
That sort of thing happens a lot.
Grenity startles at the name as though she'd been struck. Those who see the ferrets realise they almost just fell over.
Amadi looks worriedly at Grenity.
... Are you lot okay?
No-one poke the old lady. She may explode.
I'm sorry, I'm old and some names... some names you just do not expect to hear again. I'm fine.
So you recognize Sarathi.
It's... I... don't know.
Grenity looks genuinely confused.
Considering how it's likely nothing more than scattered fragments of reality by now... I demand an explanation.
It's not one. It's like...
A hole. When you take a stack of papers and punch a hole through all of them. Hundreds at once. Bits get torn of and scattered down the line, one way as the punch goes through, another back. Sometimes the hole isn't even a hole, just a rip, but it gets stuck to the others.
Grenity is visibly shaking now.
We almost tried it. Once.
And then... it was destroyed. So destroyed it didn't even have a name anymore, and we were destroyed with it, and now we're... we're...
Greibel sips his tea non-chalantly.
Grenity is too shaken up at this point to even respond.
Amadi narrows her eyes at Grenity.
Did you... know me...? When I was someone else?
Gaurav (Rhu): Look at all of us sitting around quietly learning things and having a polite conversation with a strange old lady. Does that mean it's time to ruin everything by invoking Hazz?
...Did I ever know you?
You were always you. You still are.
You don't need to explain, I've witnessed the phenomenon personally.
You knew us all, dear dreamer. You were the one who saved us.
Amadi shakes her head violently.
Grenity calms, and smiles at Amadi.
You're you. You and nobody else.
Amadi keeps shaking her head and hides a little behind Gravy (without climbing off him).
I'd appreciate it if you'd stop upsetting my hat.
It's all right. She means we're us. We're always ourselves no matter who we are.
I don't even know who I am.
Dawn laughs suddenly.
WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ARE YOU?
I'm not, no. And you're not. It's very interesting.
But all of you are. You always were, waiting.
Amadi giggles hysterically for a little bit and then starts brading Gravy's hair.
Dawn guides Grenity over to the other sofa and lies her down. Dawn sits down next to her and strokes her hair/ferrets. They talk in hushed voices.
The Gravedigger sits down on the remaining sofa.
WHAT A DAY, EH?
Getting too old for this.
Oh, don't worry. It's only as old as the worlds.
Amadi falls off Gravy, landing next to him on the sofa, almost as though it were intentional, but only almost: she's upside down.
Rhu gets up wanders around examining the house. The walls have various paintings and drawings, including a whole lot of what look like they might be family. They're all very old, and elves.
Bored, he then wanders out of the house entirely.
The Gravedigger hums.
Radek remains seated in the kitchen and messes with the puzzle box contraption with the rocks. He begins with magical scrutiny. (rolled 29 arcana)
There are two levels to its magic. One is fairly normal, a bit like a trick lock, but it's too broken to see how it's actually supposed to go together (the entire top being missing). And under that is another layer - a layer unlike any magic he's ever seen as magic, exactly, but in general it feels just like the holes.
Radek attempts to jury-rig a functioning top out of... anything at all. (rolled 19 reality) He winds up grabbing some foil off the counter and bending that into shape. He puts it on, and the magic takes it, but it's not going to stay on very well if bumped at this point. (rolled 18 arcana)
Even so, the device seems mostly fixed now, at least at the upper level.
Meanwhile Greibel samples his newly acquired herbs.
Amadi stands on her head for a bit.
Houseowner! I require your attention for a moment.
(from the sofa)
I have a device. Perhaps you will recognize it.
Grenity starts to get up, but then Dawn motions for her to stay put.
Dawn comes over to Radek instead. He frowns at her.
You've already seen this.
The Gravedigger comes over as well and stands around looking helpful without doing anything.
To the Gravedigger, it looks like foil. (rolled 10 arcana) Dawn gets a little further. (rolled 29 arcana)
You need to put in a proper combination to turn it on, but then... I think the stones are just building blocks. Use them to represent the missing reality, and you can reshape... stuff?
Dawn gives the thing another look over, but finds nothing. (rolled 12 arcana)
Amadi comes over, walking on her hands, and then takes the thing from them and fiddles with it. Upside down. (rolled 23 arcana)
The foil falls off as a result. Amadi looks like a guilty child who did something she shouldn't and quickly fixes it so it actually stays on and keeps working and puts it back, looking anxiously at Radek.
Greibel hasn't been paying proper attention to all the conversation and is laughing so hard at everyone right now. They all look like bees.
Amadi falls off her hands/head and ends up on her back.
(To Amadi, begrudgingly)
Dawn fiddles with the stones. (rolled 27 arcana) She selects seven and pushes them across the counter to Radek.
Radek raises an eyebrow at Dawn, but takes the stones and inserts them in an arbitrary order. (rolled 7 reality)
The Gravedigger notices one of the stones isn't entirely seated and pushes it in. (rolled 20 arcana) The contrapture turns on, humming very faintly, emitting light in a way that totally makes sense for a contrapture of its nature.
He hands the device back to Radek and beams.
Well, that's... progress.
You should be able to turn it, now. Change the stones. Whatever that means.
Radek squints at the thing with one eye.
Amadi sense some sort of message in it and leans towards the device. (rolled 19 arcana, 4 reality)
It doesn't tell her. But something is watching. Something huge and sizeless. Everywhere. Watching. Focussed, from infinite angles.
Amadi sticks out her tongue at it, offended.
Radek swaps the positions of the stones representing "fire" and "bird". Greibel suddenly looks like he's on fire.
Radek strokes his beard and gives Greibel a good, fascinated staring.
Greibel waves casually at Radek, with one leg bent over the other.
Do any of you see that?
Apparently nobody else did.
Not you. You don't see you.
I could if I wanted to!
Radek fiddles with the device some more. (rolled 22 arcana) Something about changing perception with the order, reality with the choice of stones themselves.
Radek returns the stones to their original positions.
The Gravedigger finally spots the ferrets on the sofa. The woman. Grenity. Is ferrets. Six of them. (rolled 41 percaption)
I KNEW IT.
Greibel starts laughing uncontrollably again.
YOU know what's up man!
I am upset that you'd lie about it! Its really rude!
Grenity snores in tandem.
Greibel looks like bees, now.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): BEES ON FIRE?!
Apheori (GM): ALWAYS.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): OH GOD I AM TERRIFYING.
The Gravedigger stomps outside.
The others glance around and, having basically finished everything they were doing, wind up following, leaving Grenity asleep on the sofa.
Amadi pats Grenity and leaves her/them some extra chocolate.
EXT. Grenity's cabin outside - afternoon
The Gravedigger starts writing 'I AM FERRETS' on the outside of the house.
Then he stops.
Then he gets out a shovel and instead starts digging the words into the ground.
Rhu wanders back around this point and watches with the others.
Frezak (Gravy): I want the ground to remember. That this lady is ferrets. And was untrue.
Frezak (Gravy): I want to bury this truth right beneath the surface. I want it to be there, in every step taken.
The Gravedigger puts the words down, and they are there, dug into the ground, deep and precise, for all to see.