Holes/Session 46

A fragment of the Garden of Remembering

On the way to the crashed airship and whatnot to the south, the party returns to Dorgin to spend the night, midgets in tow.
INT. Dorgin guardhouse - morning
The Gravedigger, Greibel, and Rhu are all asleep. Radek is working at a table, notes and tablet in front of him, scrivening down and organising his latest findings, not all there, vaguely dozing off as well.
Amadi is nearby, watching, making a flower out of bits of grass.
The Gravedigger Dreams.
: You dream of roots. You're trying to dig through them, but it's not working. You try to dig around them, but they move to block your path. Don't they understand you need to hurry, you need to get down there, there's not a lot of time...?
: The dream shifts and you're standing in a tree, the same tree whose roots blocked you so adamantly before, now holding you aloft in its leafy branches, high in the sky, well above... nothing. There's just nothing as far you can see, and you can see pretty damn far, just charred ground and cloven earth, horrible rifts and chasms opening up in utter disarray. Utterly shameful. You could do so much better.
: Then you remember. You were the one who did it, and now you're there, doing it, digging the chasms, pushing the earth apart, because down there, down there somewhere, is something that shouldn't be, and you need to get it out. Some things must not be buried, some things cannot be buried, so now here you are, digging, pulling, prying at the earth, tearing it to pieces, not even putting the removed earth itself anywhere in the process.
: Somewhere in the back of your mind you realise how utterly wrong this all is.
: Amadi turns you around with a gentle hand, but this Amadi is as tall as you are. "Come," she says, drawing you away. "You're strong, stronger than anyone. You don't need to do this. You can put it right."
: And then she hands you a shovel. It's perfect.
The Gravedigger wakes up slowly, thinking of shovels.
Radek Dreams.
: Sometimes your mind wanders off task. You pretend it doesn't happen, of course, but more and more it does. Perhaps you're just getting old, but there's a certain finality to it, like you're running out of time. Never enough time.
: You were working on your research, cataloguing results and methods, comparing different situations, but right now you just can't focus. Your hands want to make. They want to build. They want to do everything, and you just can't do everything, because you're doing something else right now. The chicken is back, too. It wants you to build. You're not building.
: No.
: Not right now.
: The chicken is bones at your feet. The building has crumbled around you. Above, the sky is vast and gaping, a maw opening up into Midnight, the emptiness of the holes you've come to know so well, finally here to swallow you up.
: For lack of any better idea, you hold up your tablet in defense, but the tablet is now a bomb, and so you set it off, and suddenly everything is fine.
Radek's dream fades, and he continues on, now rather grumpier than he was, getting back to the details of his scrivening.
Greibel Dreams.
: You dream of raisins. You're counting them. You need to have a very exact number, or Mrs. Balshmere will be quite displeased, and Mrs. Balshmere is the scariest Kanai you've ever known, and you've probably known every scary Kanai who lives on the island. You seem to have a knack for finding them, and pissing them off, and then running away, and raisins.
: The raisins don't want to be counted. They keep moving away as you get to the next one, and no matter how hard you try you lose count at around one every single time. The chicken isn't helping either. It keeps eating your fingers.
: "No, no, eat the raisins," you tell it, but it seems to have gone senile in its old age and won't listen, and then you're out of fingers anyway.
: The dream shifts, and you're in a cottage. Have you been here before? It's quite nice, well-lit and airy, full of plants and odds and ends and strange pictures on the walls. You head for the kitchen in search of tea, and suddenly you're there, sipping it, and it's good, normal tea, right and proper, the way you always liked it.
: The woman who comes around the corner is Eapherod. She doesn't really look like anything in the dream, of course, but you know her and she knows you and you share the tea in quiet company for a moment.
: Then she says, "We really blew it."
: You could argue, but you don't.
: She goes on, "You'll have to trust her. The Librarian. She was our sister, you know, and now she's all we have left. A sister who doesn't even know who she is. But that's fine. Nobody really does, anyhow."
: Suddenly you remember. You remember what it was you needed to tell her, and you begin to form the words to actually say it as she looks on in quiet expectation, and suddenly it all shatters all over again. This was what happened before, when the last time, when the masks were exchanged. Was it a silvery mask, or a lace mask, or...
: Who are you?
Greibel wakes up suddenly, only to find that he is, in fact, exactly who he has always been. Greibel. Exactly Greibel.
Rhu Dreams, his first true Dream since his arrival in Arling Tor.
: "Hello," Amadi says, smiling. "I was wondering when I'd see you. It's about time."
: You're dreaming about a future. You know you've worked so hard to get here, sacreficed so much, but now here you are, standing at the precipice, overlooking the city, and it is so very nearly over, all over. Amadi is with you, and others too, all standing behind you, relieved, fearful, aprehensive. But this is it. The last... last what? You're not quite sure.
: The sun sets suddenly over the harbour, and everything is plunged into darkness. Suddenly you're running, running with the others, running from the fire, running for your very existence. You swing your maul but it does nothing. You try to channel, but you're alone, utterly alone in the dark, and everything is silent. This isn't even a dead end. It isn't even anything.
: Amadi is sitting next to you, holding a chicken. It looks a little worse for wear.
: "It doesn't have to end like this, you know," she says.
: "What?" you say. You don't even know what it is.
: "It's good you came, though," she goes on. "Nightmares like these strive to be shared." She leans over and puts the chicken in your face, and suddenly you're the chicken and everything is wrong and...
Rhu wakes up utterly confused. He checks his hands, making sure they're indeed hands and not, well, wings, and indeed he finds no feathers.
Rhu then takes out the mask Amadi had given him earlier and tries it on, just in case. Though it, he checks his hands again, then glances over at Amadi.
Through the mask, his hands look hair. Amadi looks huge and full of bees. Hairy bees. Then the bees settle down and she just looks like a brilliant glowing hairy Amadi.
He puts the mask away only to see Amadi burp a bee, Winnie the Pooh style.
The Gravedigger scoots nonchalantly over to Radek.
(out of the corner of his mouth)
You remember the... thing that wasn't a shovel? Right?
I'm not senile yet. Yes, I remember.
Do you think you could find it again? If you were back in the region? And by region I mean dimension rather than geographical location.
Radek opens his mouth to answer, then pauses and thinks about it for a moment.
It's possible, but I won't guarantee anything.
Thanks, Radek. You're a peach.
Radek scowls.
(turning to the others)
What sort of eggs? Not... chicken eggs?
Bee eggs! Mmmmm, bee eggs...
Radek doesn't raise his own voice.
I have a question for you, as well.
Oops, what is it, Radek?
How likely do you think it is that we will need an exceptionally powerful explosive before the dimensions are completely destabilized?
One capable of... for example, obliterating all life on an average-sized continent, and shattering its tectonic plate?
I believe that you have demonstrated an exceptional ability to resolve issues via application of sudden and potent forces. The bigger the better.
Dawn walks in with a yawn and hands The Gravedigger a trowel. It isn't one of his.
He pockets it.
Radek returns to his own thoughts.
(in Rhu's direction)
I... don't feel like chicken today, is all.
The Gravedigger equips Amadi in his offhand slot and goes looking for eggs.
It was the best butter!
Butter and beer.
We messed that up. Good thing it wasn't us.
She hurries after the Gravedigger.
Mmmmmm. Butterbeer.
I think I might just skip breakfast today. I had a strange dream. About chickens.
Rhu shivers.

EXT. Dorgin - morning
They all head out toward the inn in search of food, the Gravedigger leading the way, swinging Amadi thoughtfully.
Radek follows after the others, but he hangs back, still lost in thought.
Greibel gets a bit left behind due to wandering off into some bushes.
Amadi yells at Rhu while being swung about:
It was only ONE chicken! It wasn't even very big!
...huh? What?
Two! There were two!
Rhu tries to time his questions so he asks them when Amadi is facing him mid-swing:
You know about my dream? How do you know about my dream? What... where was I? What happened to me? Why?
Frezak (Gravy): Presumably with screaming midgets the town now knows that we're back. Like particularly deranged heralds.
Or were there? Time is so funny these days.
(to Dawn)
I... was a chicken? I guess that counts as two? Um...
Rhu looks around suspiciously to see if anybody apart from the crazy godlings heard that.
Amadi looks at Rhu as if he's asking questions far beyond her consideration.
It was your dream!
(glaring at Dawn)
And it was only one chicken.
Oh. Okay.
It wasn't just a dream if you were in it, was it? It must have been... oh gods... a vision. I hope it wasn't a vision. It was the last...
How do me being there make it anything but a dream?
(she rolls her eyes)
Meanwhile Greibel is off in the distance trying to bend two sticks into something like a balloon animal. (rolled 5 reality) The result is very balloon-animaly.
Greibel hurries over to catch up with the others.
(To Amadi)
Dreams are a poor forum for debate. If you have something to tell us, use your voice rather than invading our subconscious minds.
And I've built plenty, incidentally.
What, chickens?
Dreams tell you what you already know, not anything new. They're the best of you, all you.
Except when they're not.
(she sticks her tongue out at Radek)
I didn't invade squat. I was invited. Besides, it wasn't even me.
Wasn't me either.
(catching up)
One time I dreamed I had a house made of gold!
It was very hard to clean.
I certainly did not invite anyone.
Well, you know best, of course. We all know that.

INT. Dorgin inn - day
Today, the inn is a bit dirtier than usual. Mugs are on the floor. The bard is passed out on the floor. There is also a rather lovely aroma of pancakes and something very meaty.
The innkeeper is sitting by the bar, two locals are at various tables, and a group of six outlanders who look suspiciously like adventurers are also there sitting around three tables shoved together. Their tables are heaped with gear and breakfast.
The Gravedigger enters loudly, Amadi in off-hand. The others pile in around him.
(looking up)
You guys here for breakfast?
The adventurers turn and eye them suspiciously, sizing them up. There are six of them, a massive orcan (skin patterened black and white) in massive armour; two smaller humans in more ordinary heavy armour, one of them with a hood shrouding his face; a man in a loincloth; a robed man who looks like some kind of wizard; and an elf woman in a hooded dress. They're all a bit dirty.
Radek gives them suspicious looks right back. Uppity adventurers.
Amadi burps a bee at them.
The Gravedigger waves enthusiastically for a bit, then puts down Amadi and resumes waving.
Then the Gravedigger plods up to the inkeeper.
Hello again. What'll it be?
I'll have yer finest!
The orcan adventurer gets up and blocks the path of someone who isn't the Gravedigger. He winds up facing down Amadi, glaring at her and rubbing the hilt of his sword. It is a very large sword, almost as long as he is tall, hanging precariously on a rope off his shoulder.
Dawn walks up to Amadi and stands next to her.
Amadi looks up at the big adventurer. She cocks her head sideways, looking curious.
Rhu skirts around the orcan and goes up to the innkeeper as well.
(to Innkeeper)
Is that pancakes I smell? I'll have two!
The innkeeper glances around Rhu and the Gravedigger to see if anyone else is about to come over, but they all look busy.
Sure thing. Just...
(he glances at Rhu)
The innkeeper goes back to the kitchen to pass along the orders.
Amadi kicks the orcan adventurer experimentally on the shin.
The orcan tries to kick Amadi back, but misses. He pulls his sword off his shoulder.
Are you okay? You seem upset. If I had a sword like that, I wouldn't be upset. It's a very nice sword.
The orcan pauses, looking down at Amadi, confused.
The Gravedigger leans his back and elbows on the counter and watches, producing some straw from nowhere and chewing it.
Radek prepares to use Thundering Armor on Amadi if the big guy actually tries to harm her.
The orcan continues to stare down at Amadi for a very long couple of moments.
(from the table)
Jalik, stop harassing the ladies.
...Could I have it? I don't think I've got any swords quite that big. And it does look very fun!
The orcan looks around uncertainly.
The others are just watching.
The Gravedigger grins in what may be an encouraging fashion.
Amadi reaches out for the sword.
Looking completely dumbfounded, the orcan gives it to her. It's considerably longer than she is tall, and weighs... a lot.
(patting the empty seat next to her)
Jalik, come and sit down.
Amadi nearly falls over from the weight of the sword, then balances it on its point on the ground.
Woah! You must be very strong! This is much heavier than my other swords. What is it made of? You should've painted more feathers on the hilt! Not on the edge, of course. You want the edge to be heavy. Don't you? I dreamt that I was a sword, once. Except that wasn't really me.
Amadi rolls her eyes.
Radek shakes his head and goes to sit down by the Gravedigger. The innkeeper watches him hopefully.
One of the armoured adventurers starts laughing and buries his face in the table.
The cook brings Rhu some pancakes and the Gravedigger a huge plate of pancakes, eggs, and four types of sausage.
The Gravedigger digs in.
Rhu looks at the Gravedigger's sausages a bit disappointedly.
Did you want something, anyway?
The orcan continues to just stand there staring at Amadi.
He wants money and meat and kittens. We could give him kittens.
Oh? Oh! Thanks, Dawn, didn't see that. Why didn't I see that?
He didn't see it either.
Amadi picks a tiny, red kitten out of her pocket. It's on fire. Smiling cheerfully, she holds it out to the orcan.
Here you go!
He takes the kitten uncertainly, then, when it doesn't burn him, holds it happily to his face. It purrs.
Several of the other adventurers look quite surprised at this.
I know, right! Four kinds!
Jalik likes kittens?
He's got to like something.
The orcan, Jalik, sits back down, petting and adoring his flaming red kitten. The elf woman tries to pet it and gets burned.
Amadi goes over to the Gravedigger and steals some of his food.
Rhu orders a beer, trying to make sense of his disturbing dream. The innkeeper frowns at him suspiciously before providing one.
(in a philosophical tone, to Amadi)
Four kinds!
(with her mouth full of his food)
Fouw hines!
Dawn sits next to Rhu and glances over at him expectantly a few times.
(to Dawn)
Yes? What is it?
(he goes back to thinking)
Do you think we're important?
Yes? No. I... don't know. Important how? To what?
Just. Important. I don't know. Like, with these Holes. Do you think we're going to save the world? Be big damn heroes? I thought that's what we were here for, but - maybe we're going to fail. Maybe it'll all be for nothing.
Why be here for anything? Or you. What do you want?
I want to help. Them.
(he waves vaguely at the rest of the group)
But my god has turned away from me. Whats the point of an avenger without a god? What if my dream was right? What if I just end up empty and alone, stuck in a universe that isn't mine rejecting a god who is a dick failing to fix a problem even my god can't figure out?
(she shrugs)
It should either eventually crash or show you some kind of success dialog. If it's still sitting there after more than a half hour, it's probably done and you can safely kill it.
Radek approaches the adventurers' tables. He addresses the wizardly one specifically.
...Excuse me. You have the look of a proper intellectual.
Yes? I've put thought into many topics.
I wish to compare theories.
Indeed? Sit.
Radek sits and emits a long stream of technobabble. (rolled 30 arcana)
The wizardly adventurer looks impressed, and responds with a string of babble that isn't quite as impressive, though he keeps up well enough. (rolled 25 arcana)
Radek is pleasantly surprised, and it shows in both his face and his tone as he continues.
Ganelon (Radek): Pretty much, he wants to talk about the Hole Problem with this fellow. See if he's tried anything himself, share discoveries (it's the absence of stuff interacting with residual magic!), and so on.