Holes/Session 57

A fragment of the Garden of Remembering

EXT. Unmade between - starheart concept
Radek wakes up screaming.
The Gravedigger hugs Radek.
There, there, it's all right.
The Gravedigger pats Radek.
What.... what have I...
(he pants heavily, staring down at himself)
I'm... still here.
You're not going anywhere until we've fixed... all this.
Rhu gestures toward the light surrounding them.
You want to fix this?! I think you've got your head turned around. Here, I can fix that.
Amadi reaches for Rhu's head.
The Gravedigger snatches Amadi.
No head-touching!
Amadi climbs up the Gravedigger and fixes his hair instead.
Pink or green?
Radek looks up at Gravy with some relief.
You were right.
...Now get off of me.
The Gravedigger releases Radek.
Wonderful! ...About what?
Coming here - this power. We did need it.
(he chuckles a bit sadly)
...I hardly knew what I was doing, before. I don't know if you're wise or just lucky, but you were right. Shall we go?
Rhu nods enthusiastically.
The Gravedigger pumps a shovel heroically.
The path back is falling apart. The navigator is working on it trying to recreate disintigrating bits, but the degredation is now exceeding its abilities to repair the damage.
The Gravedigger looks at Radek to fix things.
Radek drifts over and raises his arms at the path like he's goddamn Moses.
Ganelon (Radek): Let's try to repair it. Maybe even improve it. (rolled 24 arcana)
The path strengthens and solidifies before them, glowing in madness patterns shifting and twisting like nightmares. It looks perfectly safe.
Radek drifts forwards.
Much... better. Yes.
I may require some practice to familiarize myself.
Frezak (Gravy): I'm totally ready to continue on, because this is totally safe.
Ellemerr (Amadi): This is totally not safe.
Gaurav (Rhu): What's the worst that could happen?
Frezak (Gravy): Yes, gaurav. The Worst is indeed what could happen.
Apheori (GM): That depends on how you define 'worst'.
Ganelon (Radek): Oh, you know. Just the unraveling of all reality. Ganelon (Radek): But on the bright side, the concept of "worst" will go along with everything else. However, so will the concept of a bright side, so really you'll not be able to enjoy or hate it past a certain point.
The others follow after Radek, into the light, all around, vast and blinding, but the path is an expanse of visibility before them. Its patterns shift and change, glowing in rhythm to the song of the light, almost unheard. It's so perfect, so complete, that there had been almost nothing to hear at all when in the centre, but now, passing through it once more, from time to time a whiff drifts through. Strange and lonely, and then gone...
The Gravedigger turns to Amadi as the resident expert at songs. She's singing an entirely different song that sort of fits all the same.
Radek scowls.
The Gravedigger hums a tune that is subtly different from Amadi's. Jussssst enough to irritate a careful listener.
The light fades almost suddenly as they emerge from the other side, and the path twists and curls, much as it had before, out against the strangeness and the stars, same same, but different. The stars are singing all around, at great distance, near enough to touch.
The path behind them unravels, unseen, unnoticed. At the tail of the party, the Navigator drifts along behind them, dutifully cleaning it up, cutting off tears before they can spread too far.
This time Radek's not taking notes, he's just experimenting. The tone-deaf star stands out in particular, jarring but distant, right there, just off the path. He directs the path before them to change, to redirect itself through the dissonnt star, and it shifts and rejigs, now leading them right through its heart. (rolled 32 arcana)
As they approach, this star is full of motion, of roliling things within the light, hinting of madness and strangeness. Different hues glint in and out. The song, now, is loudest of all.
...Why do you sing when you cannot do it correctly? Are you aware of your own flaws?
Are you walking into a star, Radek?
I believe so. This should only take a moment.
Entering, the light blooms around them once again, not quite overwhelming, just sort of there, growing in intensity and tuna. The song is full of beef, stranger and stranger. And then they step out into another space within the light, like the last, but not.
This time the light around is not constant. It's shifting and changing, moving to the notes in the dissonant song, and when the song jumps, everything else jars too. And in the middle, instead of an orb, is a box, small, gift wrapped, with a bow on it. A bright merry present.
Radek creates a tuning fork.
Amadi goes over to the present and pulls another out of her pocket. It looks exactly like the first one. She juggles them both a bit before putting them both down where the first one was, each inserted neatly into the same space.
The song jangles and Radek's tuning fork melts.
Radek frowns and reconstitutes the fork.
What are you doing?
Um... Presents?
Another Amadi appears across the present from Amadi. It looks just like her, but a bit more confused. Or possibly less.
Rhu whimpers.
Amadi waves at the other Amadi.
Radek shakes his head and taps the fork against the end of his rifle.
The other Amadi raises a hand to wave back, but then frowns a bit at it, examining the hand, and suddenly smiles joyfully. She seems to be the current direction of the song.
The fork cancels out bits of it, and things in the surrounding light flicker.
Amadi smiles overbearingly.
You brought the song?
When she says the word 'song', the word sort of flickers between 'song' and 'gift'.
It seemed like you might need it.
(indicating Radek)
He can fix it. Can you?
I've never fixed a thing in my life. But I can cover up the cracks so they're nigh impossible to notice.
The other Amadi beams.
Hmph. I'm not here to hide flaws, I'm here to erase them.
The other Amadi opens her mouth and the song pours out, broken and strange, full of discordant notes and missing pieces. It tastes of Nightmare.
It's simple, really. It's not even a star. A piece of reality. A shape of universe, interacting with more shape. This is all an abstraction, in a way. Maybe it's the angle. Out of balance.
Radek turns the star like a tetris block 90 degrees.
Everything shifts jarringly around them. The light turns. The shapes shift. The other Amadi suddenly looks a lot more like Dawn than Amadi. This maybe improves things a bit, but now they're off in a different direction.
Rhu, meanwhile, is too terrified to do anything. Giant fish are going to start flying any minute now, he just knows it.
Radek holds up a needle and balances the entire star on its point. This time he turns it more carefully, in three dimensions, to see if he can't keep it from falling off. It gets close and far and close again, (rolled 31 arcana) narrowing down until it's as close as it's likely to get. So then he gives it a spin to keep it in place. Spinning a star on the tip of a needle like a ball trick.
It works. The song stabilises, in tune! Perfectly balanced, mathematically sound. The light around still shifts, but now it's sensible, full of chaos, properly balanced. And the other Amadi just looks surprised. Now she doesn't looke like Dawn or Amadi or all, but... the other one. The one they saw in Midnight, the one... with the name...
Oh dear. I mean, oh. Hi. Hi. Oh.
The other Amadi giggles, strangely melodic, a part of the song, and then does a backflip and swoops around.
Everything in its proper place. Or a better place than before, at least.
Hello to you.
Thank you!
The other Amadi sings, full of joy and strangeness and mad terror, singing out into the black...
(To Amadi)
Is that normal, for her?
...I don't even rightly know if it is her...
Apheori (GM): Power takes form. Avatars exist within and without, and take shapes sometimes misleading, or confusing. I was trying to think of something, or perhaps understand, but I seem to have lost the pieces.
Radek bows to the new Amadi.
Try to remain as you are. I have more work to attend to.
The other Amadi doesn't explicitly respond, just beams happily, and takes one of the presents and swoops away with it, dancing around the space at the heart of the star with the sheer mad joy of the song, holding it close.
The party goes to where the path should be. It's not there.
He knows what he needs - to find Kyrule, and the shovel, and the hole - and suddenly he's right there, not as himself, but as an avatar, tall, glowing, floating almost a metre off of the ground.

INT. Great rift at Sanessee - caverns
Everything is much as they left it. The Rist, hovering in strange globules, ghastly and Black. The ground, cracked and sheered in patterns of broken glass. The shovel, pinning down their opening. Kyrule, now two, standing nearby it.
Radek raises a glowing hand.
The word almost comes out broken. Speaking is strange with this, but then he manages it regardless and the word emerges as it is, off, but understandable. (rolled 18 diplomacy)
Is it safe to return here?
One of the Kyrules turns to regard Radek. It's not the right one. This one is skeletal, empty, wearing a black mask writhing in madness patterns about its skull.
The one behind still has her hand on the shovel, still holding it in place, not moving.
The skeletal Kyrule suddenly reaches out of its robes and holds a sword to the other's chest.
Only now does the non-skeletal Kyrule look up, and she smiles slightly.
Radek has a go at taking everyone there. Urgently. He tries to step into his avatar, bringing the others back with him, but then it doesn't work. (rolled 24 arcana) He loses hold and suddenly he's there alone, in the flesh, dropping to the ground.
Kyrule leans back slightly, away from the sword, but doesn't let go of the shovel. She doesn't even seem concerned. (rolled 6 insight)
Radek raises his free arm towards the Kyrules and snaps his fingers and places a ward on the not skeletal Kyrule, directed at the skeletal. (rolled 30 vs fortitude) This has no visible effect.

EXT. Unmade between - starheart concept
Radek just disappears.
Hey! Wait for us!
Amadi drags a water balloon out of her pocket, then splashes it across the ground-that-isn't-there to make a black puddle. (rolled 34 bluff against reality) The puddle splatters and makes a bubble as the other Amadi swoops by in a swirl of song. It might even be helping.
(gathering the others around her)
We need to hold hands, now.
Amadi and the Gravedigger wind up having to reach out and grab Rhu's hands in order to get him into the circle. Greibel is just mysteriously there, though the other hand Amadi winds up with turns out to be Rasputin.
Amadi jumps into the puddle, pulling everyone else in with her.

INT. Great rift at Sanessee - caverns
The rest of the party tumbles out of the air just behind Radek.
The Gravedigger falls like a sack of bricks. Rhu pronks down daintily. Amadi rides an umbrella down, which promptly poofs when she lands.
Greibel falls on his arse with a disturbingly loud splat.
Everyone accounted for, Kyrule pulls the Gravedigger's conceptual shovel out of the ground, unpinning the opening and letting the smaller hole close with a pop.
The skeletal Kyrule stabs her in the chest, and she flickers, grabbing the blade with another hand, and falls to her knees. She doesn't let go of the shovel, however.
What is this, a feud with yourself?
This... is not me.
You are not the real Kyrule!
Neither are you!
Is this really the time!?
Sandwich kid? Should I be smashing either of these?
Amadi replies with a definite:
Greibel rubs his eyes.
Woah, double vision. There's four of them now!
The Gravedigger eyes the two Kyrules and realises the one with the shovel is about to try to shovel the other one even regardless of having just been stabbed and still being slightly impaled. And she's even holding the shovel properly.
The Gravedigger charges to assist. His assistance involves turning himself into a meaty missile.
The non-skeletal Kyrule shovels the skeletal Kyrule, knocking it off-balance, and the Gravedigger rams it into the ground, bringing the full force of the earth up to meet it and hold it in place. (rolled 37 attack)
Rhu follow's Gravy's lead and calls down radiant vengeance on the skeletal Kyrule. This doesn't seem to do anything.
Radek sighs.
Explain your dispute quickly or risk being ignored. I have more important things to do than entertain questions about your identity.
Ganelon (Radek): Lest we forget the holes, right over there.
It's the Rift!
Give me the shovel, Kyrule-With-Shovel, please. The shovel that's not a shovel. You know.
Kyrule tosses Gravy the shovel and collapses, falling on her face - and the sword. Its blade is poking out her back, with black tendrils spreading out from the wound. Their colour looks oddly like the Rift itself.
Thank you.
The Gravedigger shovels at the skeletal Kyrule, attempting to excise it from the world, from the Rift. It writhes away and throws a blast of not quite energy at him with a spare hand, which he ignores.
You fool! She is an imposter.
Yes. It's true. I am a fool.
The Gravedigger digs harder. (rolled 26 digging)
Frezak (Gravy): It's a filthy tumour and I'm the doctor! Doctor Dig, M.D.
Ganelon (Radek): He wears some pretty nice digs for a doctor. I dig 'em.
He digs at it, pulling at the skeletal Kyrule, pulling it out, but it resists. Its connection is not just from the rift, it's also a manifestation of the same thing as the Kyrule that brought you here. Or almost the same. Mirrors.
The Gravedigger applies more force.
Frezak (Gravy): If problem is unsolved, apply force. repeat.
He finds himself digging up Hole.
The other Kyrule flickers again. She tries to get up, but it doesn't work.
The Gravedigger lodges the shovel in the skeletal Kyrule hole thing and goes and pulls the other Kyrule over onto her back. (rolled 22 strength)
You want it gone?
I want things fixed! DO SOMETHING.
Radek steps up to lean on the shovel and scrutinise the skeletal Kyrule.
...Where are you from, I wonder.
In answer to the question, what Radek sees could fill volumes. (rolled 41 arcana) Shapes. One, the shape of the god from the world they may as well have left, but only a smaller aspect of it. Another avatar, like the one he had sent here... the other, also the same shape, but different, older and newer. It took its shape not from the world, but what had left the world...
The Holes had already taken the real Kyrule when the other stepped into the hole this left behind. How they felt about this was far stranger than any emotion, for whatever it was, it wasn't anything at all...
Rhu is also hanging around at this point with no real idea what to do, but since most of the action has died down he figures he might as well check it out and hang around closer. Greibel, on the other hand, scared and confused, hangs back and tries not to look at anyone.
Amadi gives Greibel some gummy worms.
The Gravedigger tries to pull out the sword, but it's stuck, firmly rooted. It feels like death, but not just death, death seeped into the Holes, the death of reality itself.
Rhu tries to help pull out the sword, but has no better luck, so the Gravedigger has him just sit on Kyrule, and pulls harder. (rolled 35 strength) Together they manage to get the sword out and Kyrule collapses back against the ground, unconscious, suddenly looking much more real than she had just a moment before. The flickers also stop.
Radek strokes his beard.
(to the skeletal Kyrule)
Ah, you... you are part of the problem. You tried to fill a space that was intended to remain empty.
Gravedigger. These two are just as they say - impostors.
(waggling the sword)
Is there even a real one?
Amadi shakes her head really emphatically.
No. Kyrule is dead.
Okay. So... What do we do?
Radek leans harder onto the shovel, for all the good his old man weight does compared to every grave that has ever been.
This one is but a shell filled with emptiness - which is worse than being empty in the realm of concepts, of course - and the other... I believe the other to be a discarded piece of a once-larger whole. Curious that she survived, however. Try to keep her alive for now, please.
You should be aware that my profession does not tend towards the generation of abilities related to the preservation of life.
The sword the Gravedigger is holding turns to smoke.
Rhu tries to stabilise the non-skeletal Kyrule. (rolled 25 heal, 23 religion) He's not really sure what he's doing, but the black stuff begins to fade, receding back into the rather conspicuous hole in her chest, though the hole itself remains unchanged.
The skeletal Kyrule, still held down by the shovel, struggles a bit, and a blob of Rift oozes out around the edges of the blade and drifts lazily upward.
Radek leans down and creates, filling the skeletal Kyrule shell with reality stuff. (rolled 30 arcana) It pours in, and in, and in, but there doesn't seem to be a bottom to it, and besides, the song is wrong.
Tsk. Going to be difficult, are you?
Somewhere in the background of all of this, Greibel is eating gummy worms as fast as he can. This is pretty fast.
Amadi, of course, is helping as much as she can.
Greibel Dreams.
: It is a twisty, tripping dream, and it shifts around in madness patterns before coallescing, and recoallescing. You're Kyrule. Or the concept of Kyrule, or something. You're not even sure who Kyrule is, or when you are, or anything, but it doesn't matter, it just is. It's very vast. You're very vast. Your toes reach into the bottoms of the pits of space. Your nose is like clouds. Your eyes are many, and everywhere.
: You really like cupcakes.
The Gravedigger puts his shield-lid down and opes it up like a bodybag, and they slide the skeletal Kyrule shell inside. (rolled 36 tombs) He mostly seals it, but leaves the top open so Radek can pour more reality stuff into its skull-shell.
Radek does this.
Ganelon (Radek): ...We're pretty much just encasing this thing in concrete, aren't we?
He pours in the full of creation, open-ended. It doesn't even matter what he's putting in there, just something, everything, anything, filling the space. (rolled 44 arcana, 17 reality)
The rift shapes over the crack wobble unsettlingly. The globule that had drifted out of the skeletal form explodes, splattering everyone but Amadi and Greibel with black.
Hah! Ha ha ha ha! Yes, that's it! Back to the nowhere you belong!
(somewhere in Gravy's head)
Shit, two of you? Fuuuuuck.
Give me... yes, just a moment.
Ganelon (Radek): I'm like a kid being introduced to Minecraft!

Ganelon (Radek): Specifically, y'all are playing Survival and I'm floating through the sky littering furnaces all over the floor.

Frezak (Gravy): Nah, man. You're filling the floor of your mud house with TNT.
: In the Dream, you're on a grand quest to accumulate all the cupcakes. Rasputin is fighting you. He's getting all the truffles. Been doing it as long as you recall. As long as you've existed. Som of the cupcakes have truffles in them. But that's okay. You have sphinxes. An army of kitties. They're very fluffy. Sometimes they feed Rasputin. Sometimes Rasputin feeds them.
: Now, you are facing down a giant, solid black cupcake that's trying to stab you. You need to eat it, of course, and so you lumber up to it hungrily with your mouth hanging open, and devour the cupcake, and all the black pours out, filling you, slicing, a little poke. You look down, and someone's stabbed you with a tiny stake. Coraline, your... mini-you, just like you but smaller, she's always been there, and yet never... she's staring at you, horrified, like you've made some sort of awful, terrible, social mistake.
I'm going to need a new one of these. Unless...
I can accommodate that easily. But first...
Radek retrieves the box of explosives from his many things and lets it hang in the air before him. It was always mostly finished - a puzzle he solved without quite putting together - but this is the time to see it done properly. The parts move of their own accord, locking and spinning and connecting just so, to form a perfect whole.
...This was precious to me since the day it came into my hands, but...
(he pushes it carefully towards Gravy)
I can always build another. How long would you like the timer to be?
The Gravedigger peers into the rift.
As deep as that.
Radek cups his hands together, then brings them apart to reveal a small button.
...This will have to do, then.
The Gravedigger slips the bomb into the sarcophagus lid tomb and takes the button.
: The Dream shifts and it's done. You've eaten the entire cupcake and all its black and you're sitting in a tree with a bunch of other birds and everything's fine, aside from the fact that Rasputin is eating some of the birds. You tell him to save some for you and reach for the birds as well, but they keep moving away, every time, scooting away, just out of grasp. Bouncing, bouncing, hopping, jumping away. Then suddenly Amadi is there, sitting on one, helping, giving you birds, and you eat the birds, all the birds, but they're not birds at all.
: They're gummy worms.
I'll see you guys later. And remember.
(his voice drops to a whisper, and he gathers the party, including a rather surprised-looking Greibel, around)
Four kiiiinds.
Amadi nods attentively, holding onto Greibel, who doesn't appear to have heard at all.
Good luck!
The Gravedigger hurls himself into the rift, shield-first, as though to bash his way in.
He didn't fall, simply drifts slowly toward the suspended globules as everything lurches around. Suddenly there is no down, down isn't down at all. The shapes of Rift floating before him seem almost to stretch into infinity as he approach, stretching, stretching, stretching as he sinks deeper against the swirling membrane.
The Gravedigger screams and disappears into the Rift.
Greibel trips over a rock behind Radek, mumbling about gummy worms.
Radek gives the place where Gravy was a curt nod, then kneels next to Kyrule to try to help her not die. It would be regrettable if she died...
Oh, no, not again.

EXT. Midnight - the Rift
Beyond the Rift is light, strange, blue, vast. It is familiar, but not.
The Gravedigger floats, spinning, not quite falling, and for a moment he waits, having the tiniest fraction of a zen-like moment. There is no sign here of the Rift itself, but it is here, it was, it will be. It won't matter, not with what Radek did with the bomb.
Graves presses the button.