Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Tales from Grandpa - The Cleansed One Quest - Chapter 6
The Setting: Bad Side, The Fattened, then Slaughtered Calf, a favorite hangout of unwanted and forgotten animal nomads. Here gather the drunks, the exiled, the crippled, and those too damn selfish to do the right thing and crawl off into the Wastes to die. The hide curtain is drawn since it is Dark Season and there's a chill in the air. A withered but still somewhat steady arm pulls the curtain back, releasing an ungodly stank into the night air. Overly sensitive individuals and smartasses alike claim that you can hear the grumbling mutters of broken promises, failed dreams and decades of missed baths voicing a pitiful wail as they waft to the heavens. It's believed that Storm Bull always leaves a strong breeze here to carry the stench off to the Devil's Marsh where it belongs. A broken down wreck of a man enters the bar. Once a High Llama rider of some fame it's none other than the man once known as Tamerlan but now known to all and sundry as Grandpa. If the patrons could be bothered to care about anything they'd all groan at his entrance as it can mean only one thing, well two things actually. First, all the kumiss is going to be drunk in a surprisingly short time and second, it's story time. With some effort he manages to plant himself atop his usual stool and grabs the kumiss One Armed, But Still Burly Bob serves him. He drains the first cup and gratefully accepts the second cup he's immediately served. Everyone waits expectantly for him to begin. Finally he clears his throat and spits on the floor.
You all 'member that nasty business with the Grant Lands? How Argrath, Jaldon and the boys "cleansed it"? All the Lunars were either killed or enslaved. The survivors were gonna be marched overland to Pimpers Block and then sold but the Mothers at The Paps had had enough of the blood and sent the Axe Maidens who guard The Paps to fetch them. None of the boys were in the mood to lose their nuts so they washed their hands and rode off. Long story short (someone in the bar rouses themself enough to snicker and earns a rheumy glare) they ends up in Sun County at least temporarily. But that's neither here nor there as the real problem was the piles of corpses left unsanctified in the Grantlands. We all knows that this sort of business always leads to trouble. (Knowing nods and squinty looks are exchanged). Well later that year the trouble was fixed by some old friends of mine. I wasn't with them then but this is what I heard from them. They'd become messengers for Argrath White Bull going here and there on his business instead of their own business. On one of their missions for Agrath they learned that Zeena Duran, High Healer had gotten captured by some broos from Snake Pipe Hollow. Well they immediately leapt to rescue here and entered the Hollow. Long story short again (pauses to glare around the bar but no one snickers) two of 'em Hallelujah Harnsdottir, leader of them self-same Axe Maidens from The Paps, and some damn dirty ape of a baboon named Lawrence I didn't know then got themselves tainted by Chaos. Well they weren't brave enough to do the right thing so they decided they'd travel of the Leaping Place Falls and go on the Cleansed One Quest.1] Hallelujah Harnsdottir Axe Maiden of Babeester Gor and Lawrence of the Desert, Baboon initiate of Grandfather Baboon and Storm Bull were the questors. Peracles the Sorcerer, Durnfal Strongspear, Lightson of Yemalio and Baron of Rabbit Hat Farm, Bjorn Windchaser, Storm Voice of Orlanth Adventurous, and Belintar Fatesson, initiate of Foundchild and Yemalio and the prophesied Dog Boy saviour of Balazar were going along as helpers. Kannr Sword of Humakt was heading back to Pavis to deliver a message to Argrath. I wasn't there so this is what they told me afterwards so the lingo is less personal than it could be..
After receiving as payment an ornate bejeweled birdcage retrieved from the Hollow the Priest of the Cleansed One subcult Flashing Waters had prepared the supplicants Using his sacred shell razor and a lot of lather he shaved first Hallelujah and then Lawrence clean. It took almost as long to shave the Axe Maiden as it did the hairy baboon but he claimed it was attention to details the old pervert! The rest of the party were welcomed to the cult as laity, other than Durnfal who was already a River Voice. Flashing Waters sent them on ahead down the falls to a boat they had rented from the cult. Meanwhile Kannr and the Humakti and Yemalian initiates had already started off down the road back to Pavis so they could deliver the message they had for Argrath. Once Lou and Lawrence were prepared they proceeded to the edge of the Falls where they leapt down!
Lawrence managed a decent dive but Lou flubbed it and sort of belly flopped into the water. They surfaced to the disapproving visage of the biggest damn catfish they'd ever seen. The River itself looked different, sort of hazy and somewhat otherworldly. The catfish priest of Zola Fel introduced himself as something that sounded like a Raspberry so that's what they called him.
"Ugh, more supplicants for the Cleansed One quest? Why should we let you pass and besmirch the God's River?" Lou looked inside and found sweet words that soothed the savage beast. Lawrence though found his monkey lips failin' him. The catfish looked stern and something started to emerge from the depths of the River. Lawrence racked his brains and tried to think of something that a catfish might want that he could provide it. He noticed that the priest's eyes kept lookin' uo at a plum tree hanging over the River and he offered to climb the tree and fetch some plums for the priest. Meanwhile the something from the bottom emerged from the water and turned out to be a catfish big enough to swallow a riverboat whole. Turns out the priest was only the second biggest catfish they'd ever seen! Lawrence climbed the tree and threw down as many plums as he could find. The big greedy guts ate most of them but he saved a few to hand directly to the priest. The priest was pleased by this offering so he agreed to allow them both to pass. He did lay a geas on them both to help cleanse the River.
They swam off down the River passing Bullford along the way. Hallelujah left her dagger axe in the boat but kept her armour on. Lawrence both wore his armour and kept his longspear. They slept on the banks of the River and everyone took turns keepin' watch. The River was fairly high, not as high as it would be in Storm Season but high enough and they made good time heading south to Pavis. Halleluljah decided that they would stop early and enter the Rubble in the morning so they would avoid any trollish interference. Another night passed uneventfully.
The next morning at the crack of dawn they swam past New Pavis and entered the Big Rubble. No one spotted them as they passed along but as soon as they entered the Rubble it started getting dark and cold. Them damn Zorani drums started and sling stones started peppering the water. No one was hit, even trollkin get lucky sometimes. The drums was getting louder and louder but then a new sound started which drowned them out. A bullroarer started howling and there on a rise beside the River sat Sax Bolderson on his mount Horse. He was decked out in his full iron panoply and was swinging his bullroarer Kettle. He bellowed out, "I am the Raging Storm and this station is mine. Begone Icy Darkness. It slowly got warmer and less dark and most of the sling stones stopped. He asked the pair why he should let them pass and Lawrence managed to use his loyalty to Sax, who was his kahn, to persuade him to let him pass. Hallelujah, who is Sax's sister had a bit of a harder time getting permission but he eventually agreed to let them both pass. He did lay a geas on the pair that they must deliver a message for him in the future. He also offered a weapon to help them on their quest and pulled something out of his pocket tossed it in the shallow water near the boat. The thing unfolded and turned into Kannr the Humakati! Last thing he remembered was delivering the message to Argrath and then meeting Sax back at the temple in the Rubble they share.
After that the quest continued and they made it as far as the southern edge of Prax County where they stopped for the night It passed uneventfully and they proceeded into Sun County. The weather was much hotter and the River was quite shallow. As they made their way along they started hearing some rhythmic dancing and guttural chanting. They rounded a bend in the River and saw not the expected Yemalians but a troop oif baboons! They were mostly wearing cuirboilli and were armed with javelins and shortspears. Their leader though was shaved almost as clean as Lawrence and dyed yellow! He was wearing plate and had a longspear and introduced himself as Mello Yello. initiate of Yemalio. This was the notorious Baboon file of Yemalians, the 99th Monkey Business. They were dancing and twirling and chanting prayers to Yemalio, well at least Mello Yello was. The rest were just sort of half-heartedly chanting whatever they felt like chanting. As soon as they spotted the Questors though Mello Yello barked an order and they became all business spreading out across the River blocking passage. Those apes wasn't going to allow them to pass but once again honeyed words worked their magic and they were allowed to pass. They made it as far as Chomorro before night fell.
The next day they headed into the North Bog. As they made their way through the reeds Lou spotted what she thought was child resting on a sand bar. She approached cautiously and hailed the child but as she neared she realized that it was nothing but a big doll! As she got a little closer she heard a voice hailing her from the reeds in a quavery little girl's voice. "Don't hurt my dolly!" She called out, "Who's there?" A hideous groaning clatter arose and a monster emerged from the reeds. It looked like a weird cross of a crayfish and a crab with far too many limbs and sea metal scales covering the creature. Incongruously it had a blue bow tied to one the many feelers adorning its head. Hallelujah asked what its name was and it said, "Mirana." They questioned the creature and she said that she was one of the survivors of the cleansing of the Grant Lands. She had fled into the Great Bog until the Beast Riders had left. When she finally got the courage to return days later she found everyone dead. There was something at the top of the keep though, a giant Heart that beat only once a day at dusk. When it beat a spirit emerged from the Heart and descended to take over one of the corpses and turn it into some kind of monster. (The description sounded like a ghoul to them).
She didn't want her friends and family to become monsters so she tried to move the Heart. Every time she touched it though she gained a Chaos feature. She tried to move it for days, hiding from the ghouls, but eventually gave up and fled to the North Bog to hide. Kannr and Bjorn if they'd had their way would have slain her then and there as a Lunar and Chaos but they were incapable of acting independently. Hallelujah and Lawrence overcame their revulsion and hatred of Chaos (remembering that the Cleansed One had to persuade a wretch to undergo the quest to cleanse themself) and persuaded her to join them. She agreed as long as they were going to try and destroy the Heart and help her kin. They agreed to do so. She also insisted that her doll be allowed to ride in the boat. Peracles inspected it and assured the rest of the party that it was nothing but a doll. They proceeded a little farther and then rested for the night.
The next morning they continued along until they reached Reis Fort. They noticed the horrible smell emanating from the place right away and proceeded cautiously up the stone outcrop the fort was perched on. Peracles released his sylph which carried most of the party up. Kannr, Lawrence and Mirana climbed up the cliff unaided. At the top they cautiously proceeded around the wall to the main gate. Or at least where the main gate had been. The gate was gone and it looked like someone had chewed their way through the wall. Clmbing over the rubble they entered the fort. All the buildings were ruined and corpses lay everywhere. They were not as rotted as they should have been considering how long they had been dead. They cautiously approached the Keep which they found ruined as well. Mirana said she would hide in one of the ruined buildings and wait for them there. She scuttled off. As they went to enter the Keep the howl of Ghouls greeted them! A few were momentarily stopped by the sound but they eventually steeled themselves and entered. Inside was a mob of Ghouls which they easily dispatched. They climbed to the second floor where the situation was the same, Ghouls howled, they overcame the fear, killed the ghouls. One more floor, more fear, more ghouls. A ladder led to the top. They paused to take stock of the situation. Arrow slits were the only windows and they thought they might go outside and fly up to the roof. Finally Lou and Lawrence proceeded to the top. There at the center of the Keep was a large heart slumped in a pile. As they observed it wondering what they should do with it it beat once. A specter emerged and looking hungrily at them passed by and down the tower. They heard the howl of a Ghoul come from below soon thereafter and saw a Ghoul heading towards the ruin Mirana was hiding in! They heard a shriek and the sound of a quick battle. Mirana waved at them from the ruin.
They tried striking the Heart with weapons and magic and tried fire but nothing seemed to effect it. Mirana joined them atop the Keep. Finally they realized that the only way to get rid of the Heart was to carry it to the Sea where it could be purified. At first they wanted to put it in a container and carry it that way but they realized that it would be safer to eat it and carry it that way. Mirana's claws proved capable to cutting the Heart into three pieces and the three questors downed it. Lou managed to swallow it right away but it tokk Lawrence two tries to keep it down. Lou gained a strong regeneration (5 pts) and Lawrence could spit acid. They spent the rest of the day burying the unsanctified corpses in a mass grave dug by Peracles' gnome. Hallelujah said some holy words over the grave. As night fell they saw a strange sight. The Red Moon in her full glory looked down on the Fort and shone a beam onto the grave. As they watched spirits emerged and walked up the beam towards the Moon. Mirana wept and waved as a couple and a little boy headed up the beam.
The next day they headed into the marshes around Coflu. (When they woke up Lawrence found himself much faster (+5 meters movement). Lou had gained a Curse of Thed feature instead that attracted all 1 point spells). As they made their way through the reeds they encountered a beautiful woman in cuirboilli armour standing on a sandbar. Lou and Lawrence moved closer. The women asked them where they were going and were they really going to remove their Chaos features. Lou said yes and the woman and some people in the reeds attacked firing heavy crossbows at Lou and Lawrence! Lawrence was impaled in a leg and was unable to do anything. Peracles got out of the boat and waded over to help him. Lou told the tools they could act freely and they prepared their bows to return fire. Lou also asked Mirana to bring her dagger axe to her. Mirana swam over to the boat to fetch it. The tools in the boat saw the ogres hiding in the reeds and managed to fire off some shots which did a bit of damage. The ogre female and a male used their quarterstaffs to attack Lou. She held them off with her battle axe. All the ogres moved over towards Lou so the tools stopped shooting in case they hit her. They tried to row over but had a lot of trouble coordinating enough to row in a straight line. Peracles made it to Lawrence and removed the quarrel. He then healed his leg and Lawrence was back in the battle.
The ogres were slowly falling and the priest decided on a desperate ploy, divine intervention! It took him 4 rounds of trying but finally he succeeded and summoned the Cacodaemon! It ripped a hole in reality and stepped through to attack Lou. By this time she had her dagger-axe and managed to damage the monster. Lawrence charged it with his longspear and the creature parried his blow and ripped his abdomen in half killing him! He tried to call on Storm Bull for aid and failed. None of the rune lords would attempt a DI as they were either Humakti or members of cults that hated Grandfather Baboon! So it fell to Belintar to try and he did using up all but two of his POW in the process! Bjorn and Belintar shot arrows and threw javelins to assist and did manage to wound the creature if only slightly. Durnfal and Kannr stopped trying to row together as they kept going around in circles. Durnfal took the oars and Kannr prepared for battle. By the time they reached the monster Peracles had cast a mighty Boon of Kargan Tor on Durnfal's spear. (Plus 5D6 damage. Peracles and his familiar had tried to Soul Drain the monster, the same tactic that had felled the giant in Snakepipe Hollow but the daemon's POW was took high to be subject to this spell). Lou was meanwhile holding her own. Kannr struck a mighty blow but the monster also tore through his armour and injected enough poison that it would soon kill him. Thankfully his allied spirit used up all but 2 points of its POW and saved him. (He didn't want to try and DI himself because he would have had to use POW rather than rune points. He had hoped one of the other rune lords would help him. They didn't). Durnfal stabbed the creature and Lou slashed it and finally Kannr felled it! But then its spirit rose to attack him in spirit combat! Thankfully the party members with rune metal weapons weakened the creature enough that Kannr beat it in spirit combat!
The next day they reached the Delta Mouth. (Lou got another Curse of Thed and lost 7 points of CON. Mirana grew some extra limbs and Lawrence grew stronger +6 STR). Here they had to face the final opponent the Guardian of the Gate, a Giant Eel. Given free reign the tools prepared their missile weapons. Rather anti-climatically Durnfal let an arrow fly from his composite bow which went through an eye killing the beast with one shot! Lou, Lawrence and Mirana entered the Sea where they faced the Searing Salts. Lawrence and Lou were cleansed destroying the Heart of Chaos in the process. Lou lost consciousness due to her having lost CON. Lawrence hauled Lou to the surface where they found poor Mirana floating face up. She had been too tainted with Chaos to survive the cleansing. They returned to the River where they found a still pool where a naiad healed them. She allowed them to bury Mirana and her doll on the banks. As they did this the Red Goddess appeared again in the heavens and shone a red beam down on the grave as her Blessing.
And so the Quest ended successfully.
1. I modified the quest somewhat by shortening it, admittedly because I misread it and had already sent the party to the Leaping Place Falls rather than headwaters of the River. However the Guide to Glorantha volume 2 page 453 says the Falls is where Zola Fel received the call to head to the Sea and aid Magasta so I thought this worked out okay. Besides it would mean at least two weeks more travel to reach the headwaters from the Falls. Because it's supposed to be a solo quest I decided other party members could join in as lay members of the cult but couldn't interfere unless the two people doing the quest asked them for help directly. They were there to be tools and weapons for the questors. [Back]
Last updated July 02, 2019
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