Chapter 3f (Winter 1230): Reuniting Halia with Her Children

One of the children contributes,

"Yeah, Ma! Only don't turn us into stone like wot you did to Pely, right? There's this woman wot said she's got some sort of plan, only she ain't told us wot it is exactly. Prolly 'cos it involves old corn-giver taking over Pa's temple."

Viola turns in the direction of this voice. "The plan...we help your mother. No one takes over temple. Yes? Please....help her. Try nice."

After a pause, she continues. "We give her the brew....That helps."

Scott

"All oi'm saying, roight, is that there wos an 'ole load of plants growing roight before you brought down this darkness. But anyway, hi, Ma."

"Ma" responds, her tone disapproving. "Keyx! There's no call to be rude about someone who is trying to help us. Being rude about a goddess giving her aid is utter folly - have you learned nothing?"

"...yeah, Ma."

"What do you say?"

"I'm sorry I was rude. And I'll sacrifice a pig to the Protectress of Fields just as soon as I can find one."

"Better. Now, good lady, what is this brew of which you speak?"

Viola steps forward through the darkness, following the sound of sound of Halia's voice. "This brew from Demeter. Her power lifts curse. Drink, please." She holds the brew out to where she thinks Halia stands.

Scott

[I'm going to assume that Viola was pretty close to the boundary, as should would have been finishing tracing it as the barley animation spell took effect.]

Stepping forward is rendered difficult by the plants still entangling Viola's legs, but she holds out the brew in what she thinks is the right direction. After a little while the brew is taken from her hands. A little later, and Halia's voice calls:

"My children? The serpents sleep - come to me."

[OOC: Note that the children also have slight plant entrappment issues currently.]

It sounds like we're where we need to be, and it should be easy to end both the darkness and the gripping effect by casting a PeHe on the root forming the circle (I make that as PeHe 10 if she can touch it, based on the PeHe 5 guideline).

However, before we do that, Viola needs to step outside the circle, if she can, to make sure things are actually safe. If she drops the Parma on Chryse (not a Peripheral Code issue, because this isn't training), her MR for Parma 5 with the Form bonus for Co totals 32--and it's very unlikely Halia could get off a high-level effect with that kind of Penetration. So that's what she'll do.....

Scott

She'll need to do something about the plants holding her. Fortunately, the wind does seem to be dying down...

Foo. I was thinking a ReHe spell with of the same level as the one Viola used to awaken the stalks in the first place: but I apparently miscalculated that one, thinking a Duration of Ring was +1 magnitude, so that with the ReHe guideline of 4 and Range of Touch, I had it as level 10--but it should have been 15. Her ReHe total would with Fatigue be Re 8 + 2*He 6 +2 Sta + Aura 6 + Words/Gestures 2 - Weary 1 + stress die 7 = 34 before dividing...but she's down another level of Fatigue, to Tired.

For the current spell, she just needs a Duration of Diameter, so it's level 10. That still requires the stress die, but not the Fatigue: with her Fatigue now at Weary, and without the doubling of her Herbam score, her total is 19 before the die roll.

9; Weird Magic 9

After that, everyone is free of the stalks--temporarily--but Viola will caution them to wait until she gives the all clear. She'll then step forward to greet Halia (again, after ending the extension of her Parma to Chryse--Viola getting stoned wouldn't be very much in her apprentice's interest).

Scott

Stepping outside the circle, Viola sees a woman in ancient greecan dress, standing clinging to a clump of barley. She's hairless; instead from her scalp sprout snakes, drooping down onto her shoulders in apparent sleep.

She looks at Viola. "My children?"

[OOC: Viola hasn't felt anything bounce off her Parma. Which is either good or really bad?]

Given the nature of the beast, if an effect were penetrating Parma, its result would probably be obvious....That being said, we're clearly not completely out of the woods, since the snakes are only sleeping, but there's no real choice here but to continue.

Viola nods, then turns and places her foot on the circular vine. The PeHe guideline for destroying a plant is 5, and a range of Touch will raise the spell to a level 10; she realizes at this point she should have used wood rather than a live plant, but it's too late to worry about that. Her PeHe score is Pe 5 + He 6 +2 Sta + Aura 6 + words/gestures 2 - Tired 3, for 18 before the die roll and dividing. That's enough to try it without Fatigue.

Stress die: 5; Weird Magic: 8

That should destroy the vine ring, ending the spells depending on it and revealing Halia's children.

Scott

The darkness falls away, revealing Halia's children (and also a curious Ipek, a hunched up and miserable Chryse and the various other members of the group).

Keyx asks "Ma...?" tentively, but some of the other children are less restrained, with a couple running to hug her. Fortunately the snakes sleep through this - except that two of them start to shrivel up and drop off. More of the children follow - but even after Keyx has given his mother a tearful embrace, there still remains one snake sleeping on Halia's brow.

So far so good. Viola smiles at all of this. Does she know where the turned-to-stone child is, or will she have to ask the others?

While worrying about this, she'll also take Chryse by the hand, and encourage her to watch the joyful reunion.

Scott

Viola doesn't know where the child is except in very general terms (i.e. almost certainly in the regio).

Chryse watches the reunion...and then starts crying. Viola catches the words "...never going to see them again..." somewhere in the sobbing.

Viola reaches out to hold Chryse, and then turns to the assembled fae. "Where is sibling? The one who's stone?"

Scott

Chryse is soaking wet, cold, and shuddering slightly, although Viola can't tell whether that last one is from the crying or shivering.

The children look at Viola and shrug, then look at their Ma. Halia looks pained. "Near the pool. And...Neptune".

The storm, which had largely been dying down, chooses that moment to let out a particularly threatening growl of thunder.

Viola pointedly refuses to look up at the sky. She merely heads off in the indicated direction (she's been there before), taking Chryse in hand. She turns and beckons, "Let's go."

Scott

Viola has indeed been there before, and the fact that that was through a labyrinth is less of a problem than it might be - where once stood a maze of twisty passages, there's now a rain-lashed field of barley. This doesn't mean that the journey there is easy - the barley is slippery, the wind is still blowing, if not as hard as previously, and several times someone nearly trips over bits of stalagmite which the plants have fragmented but not actually destroyed. More worryingly, whilst most of the statues that used to dot the labyrinth appear relatively unharmed, a few have fallen over, leading several to lose limbs or even, in one case, a head. Ipek, who has caught up with the party after having delayed following them initially, peers at the various statues in a contemplative fashion - particularly the statue of the minstrel that caught Viola's notice on a previous visit.

The area around the pool itself, when Viola gets there, is surprisingly unchanged. The pool is still, and much the same size as previously, despite the recent torrential rain. Its surface is unruffled. The tiled floor immediately around it is largely dry - such rain as does fall on it flowing away into the barley which surrounds but does not encroach upon the stone-tiled area. Indeed, the barley closest to the tiles appears to be stunted and weak.

Ipek peers upwards, and then asks "Is it just me, or is that storm cloud spawning all the others?"

Almost simultaneously, Keyx points at one of the statues - a youth in ancient clothing. "There's Pely!"

[Sorry, I've had a lot going on, including a full day of travel.]

I'm not sure anything could be done about the other statues, and it might not even be a good idea to do so, since a lot of them are likely dangerous characters, but could you remind me about the minstrel statue? Is there any indication of why Ipek finds it so fascinating? Viola is also a little worried about what will happen to the recumbent statue that's presumably Poseidon.

And if I dare ask, any idea what was keeping Ipek? You mean she was slow to leave the area of the encounter with Halia?

In any case, all that notwithstanding, Valia will shepherd Halia as quickly as possible to stand before Pely. She's not entirely sure how this is supposed to work, but hopefully just putting the actors in the right places will get things going.

That was probably it, yes - Viola was a bit busy keeping an eye on Chryse, Halia and the creek fae, whilst trying to pick her way through a rubblestrewn barley field in pouring rain, and as a result didn't pay quite as much attention to her as she possibly could have done - she just realised later that she hadn't been there all the time.

But she's here now, and really, how much trouble could she have caused in ~5 minutes?

Halia stares at Pely for a long moment. "Oh, my son. I'm sorry. You came to find me, to comfort me, and look what I did to you." She gives the statue a (slightly awkward) embrace, weeping as she does so - then she straightens up.

"What my curse did to you. Poseidon's curse. But no longer. For now I break this curse, as I break this snake!"

She takes the head of the single serpent still dangling from her brow, and smashes it against the head of the statue. There's a pause for a moment - and then Viola sees the stone transform into flesh, rippling out from the blood and brains of the snake. A few moments later, the youth stands depetrifyed, blinking for a moment before embracing his mother.

I suspect we're going to get a highly specific answer to that question very soon now.

That seems to be the success we were looking for, but Viola, for the moment, is going to observe and see what changes happen to the environment, and, in particular, with the statues.

Scott