Chapter 3 (Autumn 1228): Singing the Song

Ipek arrives at the covenant with Viola in Summer 1228 and quickly...well, "settles down" would be the wrong phrase. "Pokes her nose into anything that looks remotely interesting" would be a better one - one of the grogs finds her stepping in and out of Gregorius' empty lab trying to work out how the illusory "flame trap" functions, and it's a minor miracle she hasn't got herself petrified by the gorgan yet. In between her escapades, however, she learns the song from Calliope, then sets about translating it into Kipchak.

It's the story of a woman who was a priestess of Poseidon. A woman who bore the children of the god she served - or perhaps only of his rival. For Neptune disguised himself as Poseidon and deceived her, coveting as he did all that Poseidon had and was. Until one day, Poseidon discovered them together. In his wrath, he cursed the woman such that she became a monstrous gorgon, and her gaze caught Neptune and petrified him. Then Poseidon declared that such would be the fate of any upon whom she set eyes that did not truly bear his blood, and he withdrew his river from the temple and he left her.

One of the woman's children heard their mother's crying, and came to her and was struck stone. Then those of her children that remained were much afraid, and they barred the temple door upon her and the other priestesses. The woman fled into the deepest passages of the temple, whilst the handmaidens of the temple turned upon each other with recriminations as they succumbed to their hunger.

Left without their mother, the children grew wild and uneducated, becoming little more than barbarians. Fearing their mother, but ashamed of their treatment of her, they told of her affliction, but not that Neptune had deceived her. And so every now and again a man would take up his sword and go into the temple to slay the dreadful monster that laired there. And so the statues in the temple grew in number, one by one.

Then one day, a woman arrived, and heard the story. But she searched deeper than the tale of the monster, and was moved to pity, for she had had a son herself once, and understood the bond that lay between mother and child. And understanding that bond, she said "these children may be of one father or the other, yet all are of the same mother, that which should be the closest bond of all. But these children have turned from their mother, and so the bond is weakened and cannot overcome the curse." Then she sat and thought upon how the children might be reconciled with their mother.

Then she went down to the children, and spoke to them, saying "grievously have you wronged your mother, that you would let it be thought that she would willingly be unfaithful. It is not her infidelity that lies between you, but your own. And she went to the mother, and said "you have been thrice wronged, lady; by Neptune and by Poseidon and by your own children. But your children in their humility have recognised their fault, and crave your forgiveness". Then she brought the children before her, still averting their eyes, and as each spoke their shame one of the serpents upon her head withered and died, until at last only one remained.

Then the children were dismayed, but the wise woman knew that one of the offspring yet remained unreconciled, so she brought the statue before its mother. The mother wept bitter tears, and said "grievously have I wronged you, my son, who alone of all of my children came to my aid", and her tears ran out of the temple so that water flowed from it once more - and it flows still. Then she took the snake, and crushed its head against the statue, and where its blood ran, flesh appeared. The mother and her children embraced, and ever afterwards became the closest of families. Every year they celebrate their reunion, and it is said that on that day, if a mother forgives a child of the wrong they have done them, or a child their mother, their tears can wash away the obstacles that stand between them.

[OOC: last chance to make adjustments to the story...]

Who's the woman who intervenes? I thought it would be Viola, but Viola has no son. Well, she does have a filius--that that she really trained him, but he still counts. Otherwise, looks good! Do we want to specify anything about what the environment inside the regio looks like after the transformation?


Yes, that's Viola - the apprentice was what I was thinking about. It's close enough for symbolism purposes.

On the environment point: what did you have in mind, and do you have any idea for how to weave it in as a consequence of what's going on in the story? There's currently the restoration of the river happening. I know you mentioned rabbits previously, but I couldn't see anywhere obvious for them to have come from (similarly I didn't put in Demeter, because she seemed a bit "out-of-nowhere").

The story's also missing the resolution of one other element that's mentioned in it earlier.

Presumably we'd end up with something like the original temple...but I'm not sure what that lower level (currently the labyrinth) would have looked like then. Would it have been basement storage, or perhaps an inner sanctum? But then, it's got a river flowing through it, right? That suggests a natural landscape. The river flows from that level into the outermost room, I guess? Perhaps there's even two regio levels in essentially the same physical space, one templish and the other natural. Viola's not a Creo specialist, so fertility symbols aren't exceedingly useful, but plants are animals certainly are--but they wouldn't be all that useful if there's not an easy connection to the rest of the lab.

Refresh my memory--is this the thing about her helping other mothers? That would certainly gives the locals a motivation to participate.


I'm no expert, but I'm not sure greek temples actually had lower levels. The closest they seem to come is inner rooms used for statues of the god and votive offerings. I'm not sure if the river necessarily comes all of the way into the inner sanctum, but that's flexible.

Wikipedia has a surprisingly nice overview of Greek temple architecture: I recall looking at similar pictures the last time I thought about the lab's layout.

Viola's living quarters are likely the pronaos (or rather, a version of it in the regio--I don't think we covered the subject, but the mundane version is probably in ruins); that's the room with the "statues", frescoes of Poseidon, and a Poseidon fountain. Water from the fountain runs down a staircase into the lab itself, which would be the main room, the naos or cella. That would make the crones' kitchen the adyton. I'm not sure the recessed rooms (the pronaos is lower than the porch, and the naos is lower still) are something that actually existed, but they don't seem entirely implausible.

I can find multiple references to basements in Greek temples with a Google search, so it would probably be kosher to place one in this temple. However, Halia's regio level is entered through a bas-relief in the wall of the naos, which (to me) suggests a higher-level version of the naos rather than a descent into the basement. That doesn't really provide a deeper place in the temple for Halia to flee to, but perhaps the trauma of her flight created the upper level of the regio, and she fled into it. Given that the labyrinth, like the naos, has water, it's easy to believe it's an especially distorted version of the naos. Moreover, it's open to the sky (that's also true, at this point, of the ruined mundane level, and of the lower level's pronaos), which provides an avenue for a creating a natural landscape centered on the upper-level version of the stream.

None of that makes any use of the opisthodomos (, which is at the back of the temple (backing up to the crones' kitchen). Given its location (the opisthodomos isn't even accessible from the other rooms, and the bas-relief is in the naos, not the adyton, which is the room adjacent to the opisthodomos), It wouldn't fit as the location of the upper regio level, and it might not even exist in the regio. It could just be a mystery....

How does that work?

One small note: we need to decide what happens to the "statues", beyond that of the one child. Do they remain statues, or are they revived? I don't have strong feelings either way, but they do provide a useful Lesser Feature, and having them all wake up would be a mess.

BTW, what was the missing story element?


I'm fine with that (although none of the wikipedia pictures mention stairs).

They don't by default transform back, but there's a potential resolution derivable from the story.

I'm deliberately leaving that one for you to spot - it won't be catastrophic if you don't, although obviously it would be better if you did.

Check the next-to-last temple in this list, which features an (open) "sunken courtyard":

And here's another one:

Anyway, it's in a regio, so it doesn't have to be strictly realistic, and the difference in levels is needed to make the flowing water work.

I'll have to go back through the thread in question, probably this weekend.


You should only need to read the proposed story.

Are we talking about the storm that blots out the light? Why did Calliope leave that out?


That's currently not in there at all, rather than introduced and not resolved.

It's true mentions of the storm are missing as well - do you want to insert them? If so, how to do you want to resolve them?

OK, I've been back through the story, and all I see that's missing is the storm. This is your previous summary:

I don't see anything we haven't mentioned yet. You told me above why Demeter's not in there; I'm not sure how much of a difference that makes, though I believe the original point of that was to mirror the Odysseus story, in which Odysseus gets divine assistance to oppose a god.

Or maybe you're referring to Neptune being petrified?

As for the storm, if it truly blackens the sky, it does make the petrification problem easier to deal with.


If you want to put the storm in, you can. Please provide a specific edit or edits to the story in the first post, so I know exactly how it fits in - the circumstances under which it springs up, and how it's resolved (assuming it is). The edits should make logical sense in the context and flow of the story.

Similarly for any other changes you want to make.

Depending on what you suggest, Calliope may push back on some ideas.

Note that the story in the first post is a summary of the key points of the story, rather than the story itself, which isn't actually in any language Viola speaks - you therefore don't need to worry too much about Viola's writing ability.

Evidently I'm still missing something--and I doubt that Viola would be as likely to miss it as I am, since Viola's been living and breathing this.

Both the storm and the participation of Demeter strike me as important though--mind you, someone might have to go and fetch Demeter. I'm not sure how much difference the exclusion of petrified Neptune makes. Nonetheless, Viola is going to ask Calliope about all three issues.


That is a factor, which is part of the reason I gave you a hint to look for something - Viola wouldn't have got that, so it sort of balances out.

Calliope frowns. "I thought you were reluctant to start traipsing across Greece on another trip? I can build it in if you want - having the wise woman think of going to Demeter for help is probably the obvious place to do it - but I think the trip will be required. Demeter doesn't have enough of a local presence to get her attention without it."

"The story does state that her gaze strikes Neptune and petrifies him. Were you thinking of something more at the end of the story? I didn't think having him revived as well fit what you were going for. I suppose you could have people take a hammer to his statue instead, but doesn't that lose you a vis source?"

"As to the storm - what exactly is causing it, and what causes it to lift - assuming it does? The obvious answer to the first part is the wrath of Poseidon, but then why does it lift when Halia further defies him?"

Viola isn't particularly concerned about the fate of a petrified faerie, but the issue of the two gods does bother her. "The fact of the matter is that Halia has to overcome Poseidon in some sense--she has to break the curse. The storm's lifting could be associated with that victory. But the need to defeat a god does bring us back to the assistance of Demeter. If we don't involve Demeter, how do we get around the problem?"


"I'd just been going to go with the mother's love being powerful enough to overcome the curse," Calliope says. "Obviously that does have the question of why it wasn't enough to protect her initial child, but I didn't think it was that glaring a hole in the story. I'll grant you it's not particularly original - but then is originality really an advantage with the fae?"

"My only concern is whether or not it will work. In the final analysis, it depends on whether listeners to the story believe it will work: will that bit of illogic keep the locals from believing?"


"I suppose it depends a bit how many people notice it. It's hard to tell myself how glaring it is - did you spot it?"

Viola nods. "It didn't take me long to notice it. We need some source of power to overcome Poseidon's curse. Maybe it doesn't have to be a god...but it has to be something that wasn't there before, or that was there before but hidden or inaccessible."