Advanced Fighting Fantasy

SCENE 29 - Clay

SCENE 29 – Clay
By Gamekeeper Fbaff on Friday, 22 November 2013 at 08:09

Across the moor south of the Whitewater River, near Oyster Bay on the West coast, is a small but legendary village called Clay. It is situated upon a large clay deposit which has been used by the villagers for centuries. The village is on the Whitewater River where it fans out into a broad and rocky shallows, half a league wide where it meets the sea. The river has in the past flooded into the clay pits, surrounding the village with small lakes, some of which go deep. A particularly hardy species of marsh plant grow up from it, known as brittle-bind. It grows as clusters and is similar to a soft bamboo, its roots binding the clay and forming often impenetrable thickets.

The village is raised above the slippery and marshy surface by generations of tribe folk carrying rocks from the river to the Heap, as it is known. It stands tall above the forest of brittle bind, which is woven to make baskets and for adobe bricks, wattle and daub, and cob walls. It is also burned as fuel in the domed clay ovens and is mashed for food.

The earthenware vessels manufactured here are, despite their crude simplicity, said to be the finest in Allansia, although the locals shake their heads and reveal even yet more finer artefacts found in the Desert of Skulls to the south, from where their ancestors perfected techniques that have passed down through the generations.

Then they will show similar items of glassware, solar heated and made of the desert sands, also passed down as heirlooms through the generations. It is impossible to tell if their stories of blast furnaces are true, speculative or merely for inspiration; although it is known that some of the desert tribes use glass beads as a monetary system instead of the more popular metal coins.

Here, the villagers adorn themselves both with clay body-paint and dried clay beads and effigies; most commonly the patron deities of their lifestyle being the goddess Throff, who discovered the clay from which the whole world is made by the various gods, and Logaan the Trickster, who fashioned it into humankind by putting pieces of himself into the clay; into Man, his brain; into Woman, his heart. So if anybody should ever question why the Trickster has vested such interests in the fate of humankind, this is the reason.

[The whole story of how the Gods made the world and the beings who live on it can be found in Titan, p48-54]

The way into Clay is slippery, or most commonly dried cut brittle-bind, or well-tended rock paths, depending which route you find and whether it has been raining. The locals are dressed only in clay smeared on their bodies, or both genders will wear skirts made from woven brittle-bind (it is only brittle when it has dried). They carry a particular type of wide shallow basket with handles woven around the edge, which is used either for carrying things or as an umbrella if it rains; these are carried on their backs and sadly they have never heard of turtles nor tortoises to make the obvious comparison. So useful are these to many of the villagers that they sleep in or beneath them in secret clear spaces in the thickets, so that the ancestral village is more of a community centre or gathering place, as well as a method of orienting themselves while travelling around. Their region expands for some way; it just so happens that its edge is the horizon as seen from standing on the Heap, and this makes them happy.

On a regular basis the people will take their goods to a coastal village called Salt, where they trade directly for goods unavailable to them from their environment, without needing to use money. This drastically reduces the number of outsiders who make the half days journey from the coastal road. There are many small wildfowl birds nesting in the brittle-bind forest which like the tribe, eat the brittle-bind-beetles and fish from the flooded clay pits.

Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff The walk across the moors is refreshing. Although a mist sets in, Riana knows her way and leads Draco all morning directly to the expansive thicket of brittle-bind that marks the Clay tribes territory. Aside from the sounds of the wind in the reeds and birds hidden in the forest, it is meditatively silent.

Around the circumference of the plants for some way until a sun-baked brick road is discovered, partially overgrown as the plants roots work their way through the path. Deeper in and several routes lead off from it. Toward the centre, the paths are all wicker-weaves, the floor smoothly curving up to form a wall and in places tubular tunnels.

As you continue making your way, you feel that you are being watched.

Riana stops. “It was different last time I was here. We are lost.” You are at a crossroads, a small clearing with five paths stemming off. Numbering them clockwise from the one you entered the clearing as number one; you may choose any of the paths to continue on your way.
29 November 2013 at 20:21 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco feels uneasy and draws his sword.
@ Riana “If we are lost then one path is as good as another…i suppose. However…….”
Draco looks at the beginning of each path to see which one looks the most used.
29 November 2013 at 20:46 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
gauging buy the clay footprints, it seems that path 1 and 5 are rarely if ever used, path 2 and 4 are occasionally used and path 3 is most often used. With 2 and 4 having half the mount of traffic as 3 it is probable that 3 is the major route.

While you are pausing to look at the paths, some birds in the forest nearby begin chirping, no longer afraid of your presence.
7 December 2013 at 07:12 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco Studies the pathway entrances and, although he is no Tracker, his years of looking at the mud caked streets and alleyways of Khare allow him to gauge the path that is most used. As Draco has decided, he tenses,aware that something…..but no, it is the return of birdsong that he has noticed. He snorts to himself as he relaxes and returns to Riana.
@ Riana “The third path is most used. I think it is worth a shot. We should get going.”
Draco,always a little wary (Khare will do that to you!…) keeps his sword drawn for now as he escorts Riana along the path.
7 December 2013 at 08:36 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Something sharp stings the back of your neck. By the time you put your hand up in reflex, you are falling to your knees. You are unconscious before your head hits the floor.

Fortunately it was a soft landing and you have no injuries. Some deep primal part of your awareness tells you this as you awake. The sun is bright, mid-afternoon bright directly above you. Your eyes slowly come into focus on the tip of a hollow spear that a pre-teenage child whose naked body is covered in patterns made of clay, is holding inches from your face. The child wears a crude mask made from twisted brittle-bin leafs. Your hands are bound behind your back, presumably by the same tough cord.

You hear Riana gasp as she awakes, she is laying beside you and in the same predicament. As you gather your senses you see and hear that a large group of perhaps twenty children and several adults are gathering in the clearing. Most of them are dressed similarly to the child who is standing over you, several are wearing crude clothes made of woven brittle-bind; string loincloths. A shield-wallis forming around you both, of large wicker shields half of which are caked in dried clay and painted with motifs.

These people speak a dialect of the common tongue; you listen and learn through the babble of excitement and concern that a boy named Kapi has claimed you as his prisoners and the elders have sent for.
9 December 2013 at 08:11 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco makes crude indications,as best he can,that he wishes to sit up.
9 December 2013 at 18:05 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
“Relax, Draco. They will cut us free soon. These are friendly people and they know me here. The kids saw your sword. You should apologise to their leader.” Riana explains.

Both of you wriggle and sit up. You see now that most of the villagers are wearing small (knuckle size) clay effigies on string around their necks. These are mostly crude humanoid shapes.

It is not long before a group of three people wearing large oval shield-masks totally covering their bodies, these masks covered in black and white designs from ash and charcoal; one is very white, a face with huge eyes that sees everything. One is very dark, a face with slitted eyes that moves sinisterly, one is checkered, half light and half dark with the rune for chaos in its centre. There are dry rattle-shakers and watery metallic gonging sound accompanying these frightful ones.

The villagers are shouting; “The Judgers! the Judgers are here!” and scampering about fearfully and excited as if this is some greatly important event.

The Judgers surround you in a triangle. “It is their Law.” Riana sighs. She shouts; “You know me. I am Riana. We make trade many times, many moons. He (exaggerated head motion toward Draco) is my guard. We no harm. We friends.”

You realise that your pack and weapons have been taken, you cannot see them. You also realise that the crude bond tethering your wrists has come loose and fallen off.

Some tabla drums begin playing in the distance, a sound which grows in volume and number as more drum join in, apparently making their way toward this clearing.
12 December 2013 at 06:49 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco sits and nods at Riana’s words.
@Riana (whispering) “I am free….lets see who is coming.”
12 December 2013 at 06:54 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Riana pulls a foul face. “They do not have a leader, they have a senate demographically elected. The Judgers keep their law and make the real decisions. I imagine we are waiting for the senate to convene. This will take all day as most of them are elders, old and decrepit not to mention deaf and half mad with age.”

Several drummers enter the clearing. The drums are clay tabla with animal skins. They do not appear to have any musical structure nor organisation but every now and then by coincidence their competing drum patterns seem to blend into a moment of harmony and rhythm. You feel the power of it.

“Stand!” Booms a deep voice, you cannot identify from where. Riana stumbles to her feet. Provoked by gentle pokes from bamboo spears you do too. “Walk!” You are being led out of the clearing. A passageway opens in the crowd.
12 December 2013 at 07:04 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco walks alongside Riana but keeps up the pretence of having his hands bound.
12 December 2013 at 20:16 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
You are led through more wicker-walled passages, some of which are short tunnels where the wicker comes all the way around in a tube, of various widths and heights until you come to another open clearing; this one surrounded by tall bushes opens on one side to open surface water, a small lake from which tribesmen sit and fish.

Your captors are arguing whether to use a small boat to transport you across the lake to the Heap or to take you around by foot. You can see the heap, a tall man-made mountain of rocks, with a large clay dome dwelling on its top, across the lake and the forest from here.
15 December 2013 at 13:33 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: @Riana (whispers) “Should we allow ourselves to be taken to that place!?…..”
15 December 2013 at 14:47 · Edited · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:

Riana replies; “Yes, thats why we came here. Don’t worry they’ll let us go as soon as they realise we are no threat. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

Kapi finally wins the argument, on the basis that you are his prisoners and therefore it is his choice. He seems quite charismatic. The drumming has dissolved into a pathetic disinterested murmur during the debate but now it is renewed with vigour as you are pushed down a side-tunnel, through narrow footpaths created by shoving the reeds out of the way and tethering them back with cord, roots which trip peoples feet and make slow, single file progress. Eventually you break through onto a larger path, this one with no wicker but cobbles; a major route. Once on this path, others join the procession by emerging from out of the reeds or tributary paths onto the main road.

Up ahead the Heap looms. It is not long before you arrive at a large busy clearing from which crude steps lead up to the top of the heap. To your left and right are wicker and clay dome huts from which hang clay effigies and earthenware jars, against which are propped more of painted clay shields and masks. Most of the people peering at you now are elderly, their hair long, white and matted with clay, their bodies painted with it. This apparently is the Senate, and they seem utterly disinterested in your fate. They begin yelling at the drummers to fall silent before they invoke all the curses of the gods upon themselves, which seems to work. Fairly soon the whole place falls into peace, the sound of wind on the tops of the reeds is most soothing.

The Senate continue to ignore you and instead discuss openly what to do about Kapi’s latest stunt. He is evidently a wayward youth with ideas of his own up and beyond the expected and respectful role that the elders believe he should have toward the Ways of the people. This is the latest in a long string of problematic behaviour he has caused and a small faction want to throw him out of the tribe altogether!

Kapi dramatically reveals your sword by punching it into the sky and whooping to get attention. Surrounded by the three Judges he explains that as an unknown armed soldier and a witch entered the camp, weapons drawn; that he has heroically saved the people by using the sleep darts he was accused of stealing last week, and sensibly has taken both the warrior and the witch prisoner. His prisoners which he now presents to the Senate. Several of the young female villages are very impressed with Kapi’s heroism and are openly propositioning him. They seem to have no problem with sharing him amongst themselves. Kapi does his best to ignore them but his male friends are leering back at the girls.

At this time Riana is recognised by an elderly member of the community who hastens to embrace her and orders that her bonds be cut. Riana calls her Mother although they are quite obviously not related. This woman wears a moon shaped clay pendant that is stained black and orders the immediate release of both prisoners. As none of the Senate disagree, you are now free of imprisonment. Kapi, his gang and several of the young girls leave the clearing and are followed by the silent drummers. Your belongings are returned to you.
15 December 2013 at 16:53 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco makes a small show of gratitude for the return of his belongings and sheathes his sword. He feels more like himself to be re-armed and ready.
Draco realises that,as an unknown outsider,he is best of by taking his lead from Riana……for now. He takes the chance to study his surroundings and looks for the youth called Kapi.
15 December 2013 at 19:02 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
The Judges make a small show of their importance by dancing and asserting their presence before climbing the stairs into the dome hut on top of the heap.

An elderly tribesman with missing front teeth beckons you over to him from one of the huts on the edge of the village. There are clay pendants hanging from the open front of his dwelling.
21 December 2013 at 18:52 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco walks over to see what the old man wants. He inspects the pendants as well.
21 December 2013 at 19:01 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff The pendants are mostly quite simple design of a crude humanoid shape, as well as several moon and sun shapes. There are perhaps a dozen. Some are stained white, others black and the rest remain the same colour as the natural clay. The stain is made fr…See More
21 December 2013 at 21:07 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco takes a subconscious glance around and then reaches for the pendent. He fishes a Gold Piece from his pocket and presses it into the man gnarled old hand as he takes the pendent from him.
He looks the old man in the eye and makes gesture of wearing the pendent to see if that is what the old man is suggesting.
22 December 2013 at 08:12 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
The gaffa laughs as he looks at the gold coin. He shakes his head, flipping it into an empty clay jug in the doorway of his dwelling. Money is not a thing that the people of this village need for their lifestyle unless they trade with outsiders.

He nods encouragingly at you as you indicate that you intend to wear the pendant. It is on a crude loop of string. You may add 1 LUCK point all the time while you are wearing this (this applies only to yourself).

Some of the villagers are descending the stairs passing clay bowls around, followed by large jugs containing green stew which they are offering to anyone who wants a meal. Many more villagers are gathering in this open space and through the wicker tunnels to the clearings around it, to share the tribal meal. A clay bowl is handed to you.
22 December 2013 at 13:49 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco sees the man toss his coin away and wonders at this until he realises that barter value probably rules here. He is not offended and knows that his intentions were good and understood. He nods to the man and wears the pendent.
Draco takes the bowl and looks to others as a clue as to what he should be doing next.
22 December 2013 at 16:05 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:

The hot food is passable and restores your STAMINA to full.

Riana sits beside you to eat her meal. “I have some sylphwing!” she is really happy. “We can travel direct to Goston vale.”

The Gaffa eats his bowl of food, watching you all the while. His eyes are creamy, and seem to focus not quite on you but through you or beside you in some way, as if he is watching you displaced be a few inches. He breaks his gaze only to look at the approaching figure of Kapi, still wearing his mask and holding a long pole.

“Judges make decision. I go with you.” He sits beside you proudly and waits patiently.
23 December 2013 at 13:10 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco looks at this Kapi then to Riana
@ Riana “Not up for debate, i’m guessing?…….”
23 December 2013 at 13:24 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Riana chuckles. “Agents of fate…” She says between mouthfuls of her meal. “There’s enough powder to bring him along. He’s your charge though.”
23 December 2013 at 13:26 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco looks sidelong at Kapi as he takes another mouthfull.
@Himself (mutters) “Seems expendable to me……”
Draco finishes his meal and looks to Riana.
@Riana “when do we leave?”
23 December 2013 at 15:39 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Kapi hears your comment and repositions himself directly opposite you. “I save your life. You see.” He points at the black sigils adorning your skin, trying to point at all of it at once. “How you, tha tha tha ?”

Riana laughs. “Eat your meal. We can leave when ready. There is some time before nightfall”
24 December 2013 at 15:27 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco finishes his meal and puts the clay bowl aside. He takes a little wander around camp to stretch his legs.
24 December 2013 at 16:58 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Kapi stands and follows you. He will not let you out of his sight.

The village around you consists of the large clearing with wicker tunnels and open walkways of reed floors between clay and wicker huts, and the steps up the Heap. Behind the buildings and in some place above them, the tops of the reeds blow in the wind and provide a gentle sound.

Families, elderly, tribe folk talking together and in groups; the same people who went around handing out bowls are now collecting them in the large wicker shields worn and carried by many, these items double as trays or bags. The feeders are collecting the bowls to take to the riverside to wash and one of them, a fat woman with dry clay tube beads for hair, offers you to go with them to the river.
24 December 2013 at 18:21 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco,having nothing better to do, accompanies the woman.
24 December 2013 at 21:51 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff The procession of crockery carriers and tribes folk making their way to the river lead you through wicker tunnels and wide open path, through the brittlebind forest, some way along a fairly straight path; you are sure you can find your way back. Many paths lead off left and right of it.

The Whitewater gets its name from its rapids, and here is no exception; the water is cold and moves fast although it is very shallow on a pebble bed. You recall the Bitestone incident from several days upstream and hope there are none of those around.

The bushes grow directly onto the river, so even though it widens as it meets the waters edge and beyond, it is not possible to traverse this in a boat. The forest completely covers this part of the river! However, knowing the direction which the Whitewater flows, you are able to get your directions easily.

To the East there are people splashing and washing. To the West are people working with clay on raised wicker platforms, their upturned shield-tray-baskets, creating small statues. Past the sculptors, people are disappearing into the bushes and emerging seeming refreshed.

Kapi pokes you with his finger to get your attention. He points past the sculptors. “Deepwater Channel. Flow outside the world. You take Kapi outside the world. You from other world. Chaos world.” Then Kapi shows you the pendant he wears, it is stained with white ash and crudely shaped like a humanoid. “Kapi of light. Elders say Kapi of Chaos. Send me with you to decide. You of Chaos.”
24 December 2013 at 23:13 · Edited · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco eyes the shallow water suspiciously and then turns to Kapi.
@ Kapi “……..we will see youngster. There is much in motion and the Fates are….uncertain. You will not choose, rather, you will be shown. Enough of this for now. Kapi, show me your blowpipe and darts, i have never used such a weapon.”
Draco uses actions to accompany his speech to help to make himself understood.
26 December 2013 at 07:52 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
Kapi jumps up and down in excitement. He shows you how to hold the blowpipe, to take the weight of it and press it to your lips. Then he blows quickly. He has not armed it with one of his darts yet, he makes sure you grasp the basics. Then he puts a dart into the mouth end and tells you to hit one of the clay sculptures, which you measure to be around sixty feet away.
Test your SKILL.
27 December 2013 at 17:34 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: roll=7 SUCCESS!!
27 December 2013 at 17:40 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff At the very last moment before you blow, Kapi nudges the blowpipe. The dart flies true, but instead of hitting the clay statue, it hits one of the sculptors whose hands both immediately clasp his butt cheeks. He turns around to look at you but the drug is fast acting and he is unconscious before his eyes discover who has stung him. Kapi laughs and hurries you out of the area, back through the paths.

You return to the clearing where Riana is talking with a few of the elders. “Draco!” she seems happy to see you. “Come, we may borrow a hut for our ritual.” She walks into a nearby hut.
27 December 2013 at 17:49 · Like
Gordon Macleod
Gordon Macleod Draco Wolfsbane: Draco is at first very annoyed with Kapi but, as the dart strikes the man’s bum, he can’t help but laugh and race off with the young hooligan. He hears Riana as he returns to the clearing.
@ Riana “Right,i am ready.”
He follows her.
27 December 2013 at 18:14 · Like
Gamekeeper Fbaff
Gamekeeper Fbaff @Draco:
The hut is a large dome and has a wicker door, its interior and exterior walls are covered with smooth dry clay. Riana shuts the door behind Kapi and yourself before passing you a heavy stone pestle and mortar, into which she drops a small nugget of silvery white substance from a pouch she wears proudly around her neck.
Then she begins searching the hut for useful items which she wraps into a cloth bundle. By the time you have powdered the sylph wing she has finished raiding the place.
She pinches the dust and makes a small circle of it on the floor, and with another piece she makes a rune in its centre, this rune being different from the one you saw her draw last time.
Kapi is watching in amazement, especially so as the powder bursts into flames!
Within moments the three of you are standing in Goston Vale. This time, you are find yourself on the hillside overlooking the misty valley, close to a small stone building, a temple.
Riana looks at you expectantly. Kapi is stunned to silence.

Please continue your adventure in SCENE 16 – the Forest of thieves



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