Necromantic Ambitions


A Most Surprising Hero



You’re awakened by the sound of a shout echoing on stone walls, “Parts!”

Looking around, you find yourself in a small, stone, cell with nothing more than a thin pallet on the floor and a bucket in one corner. With a sinking feeling, you check the door to the lone exit and find it securely locked. Its scratched and battered face is broken by a covered slot at the bottom and a small barred window near the top.

Standing on tiptoes, you’re able to get a dim view through that opening. Peering out, you see a long corridor that disappears into darkness. Doors identical to your own line its length in both directions. What little light there is emanates from evenly spaced globes of glowing energy, floating untethered, near the ceiling.

The light globes appear to be magic, but this doesn’t feel like anywhere in Fantasia. Gloom perhaps?

As you contemplate this, glancing back and forth down the corridor, you hear the voice call out again, “Parts! Get up here. I need your eyes!”

You hear a repetitive squeak, like a shopping cart with a bad wheel, coming from the shadows to your left, and the faint rattling of chains.

Angling yourself to get a better look in that direction, you see a strange figure emerge from the shadows, pushing a cart loaded with buckets. The creature appears to be an odd patchwork of different humanoids, and even animals. Its face appears all too human, however, features of at least three different men stitched together to make a whole, the skin a jaundiced yellowish green. Even so, he moves with surprising grace. Especially once you take in the heavy chains that encircle his neck and connect the manacles at his wrists.

As he draws even with your cell you whisper urgently, “Hey! Where am I? Why am I here?”

The squeaking stops and the creature extends his long legs, like those of a praying mantis, to bring his head level with your own. Up close you realize that his skin is extremely pale, almost bloodless, the sickly green you’d attributed to it an artifact of the spectral lighting. He glances sharply to his left, his eyes flashing like those of a cat, and then back at you.

He opens his mouth to speak and the insistent voice echoes down the hall again, “Parts! I will not ask again!”

His mouth snaps shut as he startles, then he turns his head to call back, “Yes sir! Coming sir!”

His voice stuns you with its unexpected beauty. It sounds like he swallowed a harmonica, yet somehow managed to integrate it with the rest of his chimeric body to create a voice composed of beautifully intertwining chords.

With a quick glance back, he moans resentfully, “See what you’ve done!” as he scurries out of sight, pushing the squealing cart.

Time is hard to track in the perpetual twilight but, gauging by your thirst, you’d guess it’s been at least 2 cycles since your encounter with Parts and some indeterminate time since your arrival. No one has come nor gone in that time and while you’ve heard occasional banging and frantic scratching from some of the other cells, your attempts at conversation have been universally ignored.

You’ve begun to worry that you’ve been forgotten when you hear the squeak of the cart making its way toward you. It stops at regular intervals, during which you hear a short musical tone, followed by a scrape and then a metallic clang, a pause, then the musical tone, scrape, bang! The cart moves a little closer, pause, music, scrape, bang! Pause, music, scrape, bang! You count 36 repetitions before you can make out what Parts is doing.

As he reaches each pair of doors, Parts “sings” a short melody and the slot at the bottom of the door opens, at which point he shoves a tray with gruel and a bowl of water into the cell, after which the cover slams itself shut.

Though your throat is parched you desperately try to engage your jailer in conversation once again, “Hey, could you please tell me why I’m here?”

No response.

“What have I done?” you try again through cracked lips.

Still nothing.

“He calls you Parts, why is that?”

Not looking at you, he says nervously, “That’s my name. Parts…” Wringing his hands til his chains clank together, he continues in obvious terror, “S-s-s-pare Parts.”

His musical harmonies still muted, he finishes, “That’s part of my job.”

Before you can ask for clarification, he squints up at you, as if trying to make out your face in the dim light, “You’re not like the other residents. You can still talk. You must know things. Things Sir wishes to hear from your own mouth.”

He quickly “sings” the slot on your door open and shoves a tray in. Before you can get another question out he turns to continue his work, all further attempts at conversation met with a sharp blast of music, the scrape of metal on stone, and a bang!

Your food must have been drugged because the next thing you know you find yourself strapped to a chair facing a desk crowded with an alembic, notebooks, and other alchemical paraphernalia. Craning your neck, you can just make out a pair of pale feet on what appears to be a mortuary table.

Your movement is greeted by a rich baritone, familiar from its shouted commands, “Good, I see you’re awake.”

A human looking man of indeterminate middle age walks from behind you to take a seat at the desk. His features are bland and unremarkable, his hair an ordinary shade of brown, shot with grey. He’s of average height and weight, with a slight pot belly. The only notable part of his appearance are his eyes, colored an icey blue, they shimmer with undisguised magical power.

“I’d introduce myself, but names do have power. You may call me sir, or Necromancer, if you must.” he continues, “I won’t bother to ask your name, but you will give it to me from your own mouth, should I decide I have a use for it.”

“Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll need you to tell me why Para has interfered with my business in Amasu. Do you have any idea how long it took me to convince the Urugali to lock up those annoying spirits?” he asks with a tone of mild disappointment.

“Why should I tell you anything, you evil glitch?” you reply hotly.

“First, I assure you that I am not evil, malice serves no purpose and is a waste of energy. Secon-”

“Tell that to the minotaurs!” you cut in.

“Minotaurs?” he seems confused by your outburst. “Oh! So Para interfered with my experiment there too? It seems your master is causing more interruptions than I’d thought.”

He pauses to consider, then continues, “I will explain my motivations on that minotaur issue and then you will tell me about your master’s objectives. Once we understand each other I’m sure there will be no need for conflict between us. The three Realms are vast, Para can take what he wants as long as he extends me the same courtesy.”

The Necromancer leans back in his chair as he warms to the topic. “You need to understand that I had no desire to cause undue pain,” he explains, “any discomfort or other suffering was merely a byproduct of the research. Using the minotaurs was strictly a matter of efficiency. Their village was located on a ley line junction that I needed, they refused to leave. Coincidentally, I also had interests in an inhospitable region of Darkrealm, and I needed test subjects. They had to be removed, it seemed best to make use of their passing. If Para cared about suffering he would not have interfered, a few more weeks, at most, and I’d have had my results. As it was, I had to start over.”

“So, now it is your turn to explain what your master wants. Start by telling me why he released the Nefer-Ta?”

Close to a rev drags on like this; sometimes the Necromancer grills you cycles at a time, often asking questions that could be answered by anyone with a few decimes research in the public datasphere back in Synthex. At other times, buildcycles will pass before you are summoned to have some obscure, yet specific, piece of information extracted from you.

Meanwhile, you spend your efforts on trying to befriend the only other being with whom you have contact. Though the process is slow at first, after some buildcycles Parts begins to open up a little.

“You have a beautiful voice, is it yours naturally or was it given to you so that you could open the cells?”, you ask one cycle, during mealtime.

He smiles shyly, “It’s mine! The only thing left that’s mine.” he says with obvious pride.

Buildcycles later, when Parts is particularly talkative, you ask, “We’re in Gloom, I mean Darkrealm, is this where you’re from?”

“Oh no! I’m from Flux, before sir took me. I don’t know if you’ve been there but it’s such a wonderful place! Things aren’t rigid or dark like they are here. I miss the freedom of it, and my friends and family!” Parts replies fiercely.

He looks around fearfully, as if afraid he’s been overheard in this implied disloyalty and hurries on with his duties, refusing to be drawn into further conversation.

First one and then two cycles pass without any sign of Parts and you begin to worry that something has happened to him. On the third cycle, just after you’ve finished the last of your hoarded water, you hear the squeak of the cart and peer hopefully down the corridor, only to see a bloated, long limbed, loper going about Parts’ duties.

“Parts, is that you? Are you OK?”, you ask in concern.

“I’m not sure,” he replies sadly, his usual, beautiful voice playing in a mournful minor key, “this body hurts and itches. The adjustment has never been this hard, and it keeps feeling worse instead of better. I don’t like it when sir experiments.”

He slumps dejectedly against the wall, leaving a slimy trail of corruption on the stone, “Is it this hard everywhere? I barely remember Flux, maybe I’ve imagined it. Sometimes the residents here make up fantasies when they can’t stand it any longer. I’m not sure I can stand it any longer, I’ve got to make a change. You’re my only friend, tell me, what can I do to make things better?”

Thinking hard, you ask, “Parts, how does the Necromancer switch your whole body this fast? I don’t see any way he’s doing a whole brain transplant this quickly, even with magic.”

“Oh, the brain is just a place to manifest,” Parts tells you. “I’m really in here.” he says, carefully opening a seam in the loper’s, or rather, his, chest, to expose a brilliant blue gem, a miniature spirit jar. “The only physical part of me is my voice, and sir has gotten very skilled at splicing it into just about anything.”

Here the Verses Discord was offered a choice.

Parts has asked you for direction and seems ready to do whatever you suggest to make a change, do you:

A: Tell him to steal back your Portarray, then remove his spirit jar and flee back to Initiative headquarters with it. He will need a new body and, unless the energy shortage has improved during your captivity, he will have a long wait. Even if they can synthesize a body for him, they won’t have health scans to work from and you have no idea if they’ll ever be able to reproduce his voice, but at least he’ll be free.

B: Through the last rev you’ve spent in conversation and interrogation with the Necromancer, you’ve come to understand their goals more fully. They are gathering energy and knowledge with the intent to create an entirely new Verse (or ‘Realm’, as they think of it)! While you find some of their methods abhorrent, you do think there’s a real chance that you could broker a non-interference agreement that would prevent further conflict between you. Tell Parts to arrange for another meeting with the Necromancer so that you can make this proposal. Include Parts release, to act as a go between, as a requirement for the deal.

C: No one should have to stay in this place! Tell Parts to release all the other prisoners at once and escape in the chaos. If things go well, you can then take as many of the Necromancer’s notebooks and other intelligence as you can carry and make your way physically to the nearest Initiative outpost. Some of those cells undoubtedly contain lopers, and probably worse, so you’ll need to be prepared for threats beyond the Necromancer.  Your conversations with the Necromancer leave you with no doubt that there will be no hesitation to destroy this stronghold and everything in it, if that is the most pragmatic course of action. Once this kicks off you’ll want to move fast! There’s a lot of risk with this choice, but a lot of potential reward as well.

D: You need an agent in the Necromancer’s camp and it’s the best role Parts can play. Convince him to work as a spy. If he sends a message through the Portarray to call for your rescue, he should still be able to maintain his cover. Once you’ve escaped you can set up a system to communicate with him to retrieve his intel.

(If you’d like to vote on our stories, influence Verses lore, what happens next, game mechanics, and even future cards. Then join our Discord at

[Historian's Note: The Para Initiative was divided between two popular plans, with 40% favoring a quick escape with Parts' soul stone, while 60% thought it best to get an agent in place before escaping.]

Considering your options, you realize that loosing the other prisoners, while briefly satisfying, could also lead to disaster and possibly your own demise. The other extreme, negotiating a treaty with the Necromancer, seems feasible but you fear that sooner, rather than later, they will perpetrate some new act of horror on an innocent third party that can’t be ignored. You could take Parts’ spirit jar and escape using your Portarray, but the Necromancer is a potentially serious threat, plus the information they have about the nature of some of the Verses is incredible! You know you have to have an agent working for you in their camp and from what you’ve seen Parts is literally the only choice.

While your training as an Explorer isn’t focused on spycraft, you’ve been taught a number of SENTINT techniques as a means to develop rapport with the members of newly encountered cultures and quickly gather key information from them. Some of those methods are very effective at recruiting and developing intelligence assets and turning them into agents. You’ve already successfully deployed a number of these cultivation techniques in your efforts to befriend Parts.

Now it’s time to take those efforts to the next level. Ideally, you want to make Parts think it’s his own idea to stay behind to help prevent atrocities and pass information to the Initiative. Your training has taught you that the ideologically motivated agent is almost always more reliable than one who works for some sort of payment. Besides the only payment that’s of any value to Parts is his freedom and his voice and neither of those are within your power to give if he’s to work for you. With this in mind you set out to radicalize Parts to your cause.

The process extends your imprisonment several more buildcycles, but in the end you feel it’s all been worth it. The hardest part was working out the technical details to create a dead drop for Parts to conceal his intel where the Sieve can retrieve it. You found it relatively simple to convince Parts that the Necromancer is evil and must be stopped. He was reluctant at first, but once he was transferred out of the loper body he became more tractable to extending his time here indefinitely.

Now everything is in place for your escape and Parts new life as a spy. You provide Parts with instructions to discreetly pass information through your Portarray so that the Initiative can pull you out of here and then give him a final pep talk.

“You’ve got this Parts! The Realms are going to be a better place for everyone thanks to your efforts. I know it’s hard, but you’re the only one who can do it, and I have faith in you.” you say with conviction.

“I can do this!” he agrees with tones of enthusiasm. Then, in a more mournful key, “I will really miss you though. You are my only friend.”

Then he quickly pushes his squeaky cart away and soon after you feel yourself Seived away…

[SHK-E Assessment: It takes an ice cold HEART to leave Parts and all of those other prisoners in the hands of Necromancer, and also some ongoing ENERGY investment to operate the dead drops.  The Para Initiative is confident that the KNOWLEDGE gained about the Verses and the SAFETY improvements from knowing about the operations of this other paraversal actor are both well worth the cost.]

HEART: Excellent
KNOWLEDGE: Excellent

Para Initiative Reputations:

Friend of the Keep

Para Initiative Inventory:
‍Oystersand’s Illustrated Arcana
Notes on Xavi and 1086
Untranslated Copy of Dear People
‍Gloomspark Portarray]


Fishing Expedition: Departure



“Parts!  Get up here!  I have a job for you.” 

“I’m here Sir, what do you need of me?” Parts asks, his voice a beautiful symphony of musical chords.  As he glances nervously around the laboratory, Part’s apprehension increases visibly at the sight of the alien body lying on one of the operating tables, a hooded figure leaning over its open chest cavity.

“You’ll represent me in discussions with the A’anooye.  I made some of their clan leaders ageless a few hundred years ago in exchange for their submission and future services,” replies the hooded figure without looking up.

There are quick flashes of light as the figure uses an extraordinarily sharp tipped scalpel to inscribe glowing runes and lines of power, linking all the major nerve pathways of the body to a black, metallic, bezel mounted on the body’s spine.    

The figure continues, “They know me as the Lifegiver, not the Necromancer.  Do not confuse my titles.”   

“Yes Sir, is that the body I’m to wear?” queries Parts.

“They live on a wet, heavy world, you’ll require a form that can withstand the stress,” the Necromancer responds absently, focused on his work.  As he finishes, there is a burst of fluorescence, briefly outlining the body’s nervous system in brilliant neon green. 

“Open up.  It’s time for the transfer”, he commands.

Parts steps forward, reluctantly opening the seam in his chest to reveal a shining, blue gem.  Life drains from Part’s eyes as his body becomes motionless.  The Necromancer removes the gem with practiced ease and secures it in the bezel.

A short time later the body, now Parts, rises from the table and looks around cautiously, eyes taking on a shocked expression

“Sir!  What happened to my voice!” Parts exclaims with concern, his query devoid of music.

“It will be safe here, where it is unlikely to cause any…  complications to your task.  Hurry along, there is some urgency.” the Necromancer replies, leading the way down a long hall.

“Where am I going, Sir?  And what is my role in these discussions?” Parts squeaks, staggering drunkenly in the unfamiliar body as he tries to keep up.

“You will be going to the world of O’ooryu, as I said before, it’s a wet, heavy, world, but the form you’re wearing is from a local.  The A’anooye clan wishes my assistance in the extraction of Lifespring, what we would call Dream-source, from the carcasses of the local aquatic megafauna.  They’ve lost the skill to do it themselves and there is some opposition to the practice from the currently dominant culture,”  the Necromancer explains as they pass a series of dedicated workshops and holding cells.

“They have petitioned me to provide the wherewithal to perform the work in exchange for a share of the power harvested.  You are to finalize the arrangement on my behalf.  All the details are in this form’s hippocampus.  Review them and make sure the A’anooye comply fully.  If necessary, remind the ‘elders’ that their extended life is at my convenience.”  

Reaching the end of the hall, the Necromancer lets out a shrill series of whistles and squeaks.  A dim green glow begins to emanate from a circular structure at the back.  About a dozen disembodied heads hang at the center of the portal, mounted to a framework constructed from bone and sinew.  At the Necromancer’s approach their slack faces slowly animate, their eyes warily tracking his progress. 

The Necromancer looks over the cluster of heads and vigorously taps one with features quite similar to Part’s new form.  It slowly animates and looks around dazedly.

“While you’re there, tell Odronosco that he’ll need to provide me with another guide.  This one is almost spent.”

After a few more quick raps, the enervated head’s awareness seems to meet with the Necromancer’s approval.  He emits a few more shrill notes and the cephalic display vanishes in a bright swirl of sickly green energy.

“Do not delay.  This guide is not capable of holding the path for you.” urges the Necromancer.

On still unsteady legs, Parts rushes to do his bidding, the portal snapping closed behind him.  


Fishing Expedition: Arrival



Parts staggered under the increased weight as he emerged from the portal.  The world was both heavier and wetter than he’d expected, the humidity thick enough to cut with a knife.  After a few moments  of adjustment, he was pleasantly surprised to find that his current form was quite graceful in this new world.  It seemed the clumsiness he’d experienced in Darkrealm was more an artifact of poor environmental fit than some failure of his own.

Looking around, Parts found himself in the center of a sigil inscribed on the limb of an enormous tree.  There were no other obvious signs of intelligent life, nor means of descent.  As he peered through the gaps in the foliage, he could see the light from a pair of suns reflected upon the surface of a vast ocean, hundreds of feet below.  After determining that his new form lacked any unusual capacity for ropeless abseiling, Parts gave a wistful sigh and plopped down with his back against the bole of the tree to review the mission parameters stored in his new form’s hippocampus.

As the second sun sank towards the horizon, he began to worry that some mistake had been made.  The guide responsible for the transition had been far from fresh and transVersal travel was not an exact science in the best of circumstances.  While not common, it was quite possible to end up in the wrong place or even an unexpected time.  Assuming he was in the right place at the right time, his contact still might have been delayed indefinitely.

After considering his options, Parts inspected the sigil to see if he could discover some means to re-open a portal to Darkrealm.  While not his favorite place, it was currently the only home he had.  More importantly, his voice, the only remaining piece of his original body, and the only possession he valued, was being held there against his return.

The sigil was a crude bit of work, its execution hinted at a creator more skilled with ephemeral magick than the patient construction of lasting enchantments.  The lines and glyphs had been repeatedly burned into the bark of the great tree,  laying down paths to direct the local environmental magick and draw life energy from the tree itself.  It appeared to be in the process of rebuilding energy stores depleted by Parts’ recent arrival, but unless things changed, Parts feared it would be at least two or three days before it might be fully replenished.

If back wasn’t an option, down would have to do.   Unfortunately, within the canopy of the vast tree there was little light to be had even at noon and dusk was rapidly approaching.  Channeling magick was always difficult in a new form and Parts was unfamiliar with this Verse.  Feeling that a cautious approach was best, he decided to start his experiments with something extremely simple, and more importantly, much safer than trying to levitate several hundred feet straight down into darkness.  With a small grimace of concentration and a few quick gestures, he conjured a small ball of light.

Surprised by how easily the energy for the spell had coalesced, Parts gave a nod of satisfaction and started weaving threads of air together to assist in his descent.  As soon as he shifted focus, the globe of light began to increase in size and brightness, the effect accelerating at a runaway pace.  In just the moment it took for Parts to react, the orb was already brilliant enough to clearly outline the bones in the hand he’d thrown up to shield his eyes.

With a curse and a few rapidfire arcane gestures the light was extinguished and Parts was left standing fearfully at the limb’s edge, entirely blinded by the after image seared into his retinas.  One foot after the other, he slowly backed away from the drop and carefully took a seat on the rough bark.

When his vision had cleared, Parts tried conjuring the light once again, this time putting just the barest trickle of power into the spell.  At first all seemed to be well, but when he tried to increase the brightness slightly it flared dramatically and then dimmed to the faintest of embers before he could react.  With some experimentation, he began to get a feel for the ebb and flow of Dream-source on this world, but it left him exhausted.

Trying to manage two recalcitrant spells while negotiating a lengthy descent was out of the question.  With a sigh of frustration, Parts curled up next to the bole of the tree to go  to sleep.  When drowsiness crept over him, it seemed that the tree became more and more comfortable, as if it had been made for this form.

Parts was awakened by the light trickling through the canopy and faint sounds rustling below.  Sitting up groggily, he was startled alert by the sudden appearance of a figure ascending gracefully through the air.  The figure appeared to be male, and was obviously of the same species as Parts’ host body, with a broad, flat nose and extended jaw that almost formed a stubby beak.  The most notable difference was the color of the fleshy plumage cascading from the man’s head.  It was a vibrant yellow with bright orange tips, while Parts crest was a much more sedate series of green and blue bands.

As the new arrival settled onto the branch he beamed at Parts and shouted with obvious joy, “Cousin!  You’ve returned!  The family will be so happy to see you!” 

Cousin, with family that knew this form’s original occupant, Parts thought, now THAT would've been good to know ahead of time.


Fishing Expedition: The Fish



As he got to his feet, Parts assessed the man standing above him.  He was powerfully built and wrapped in lines of magickal energy.  I hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way…

“I’m afraid I’m not your cousin.  I’ve been assigned his form to act as the Nnn… erm, Lifegiver’s voice on this world.  Your cousin has important work that can’t be interrupted,” Parts said with false confidence.

At least I hope his cousin is doing important work, or really, any work.  More likely he’s been tossed aside like a bad appendix, nothing more than a potential problem for this form’s function, Parts thought glumly.

“The Lifegiver is truly great!  Glory unto Him!  It is an honor for my cousin to be in His service.”

“Um, yes, the Lifegiver is very powerful.  I was instructed to meet with Odronosco?”  

“Odronosco is our clan leader.   I’ll take you to him, but first I need to show you the wheylanni so that you understand the scope of our needs.  I’m Dantabo.”

“Of course, please lead on,” Parts replied.

With that, Dantabo closed his eyes in concentration and a broad glowing disc appeared at the limb’s edge.  He gestured for Parts to precede him.

Obviously untaxed by the effort of controlling the spell, Dantabo maintained a running monologue about the politics of the world and the cruel reversal of fortunes that had befallen the A’anoye clan throughout their descent.  Though Parts knew nothing of the other parties involved, he got the sense that the A’anoye had once been very powerful but were now reduced to near irrelevance, living on the fringe of society at large.

“So you can see, with the Lifegiver’s aid, sorcery will once again eclipse the lesser arts of enchantment and alchemy, thus restoring the proper order of things,”  Dantabo concluded his rant.

“Erm, yes, the Lifegiver is always happy to see his… allies… obtain a place above other factions.  He will be very pleased with your improved station,” Parts agreed.

When they reached the ground, Dantabo dismissed the disc and started to make his way over the tangled roots and shallow pools of water at the base of the tree.  

“The flyer is this way.”

Parts followed in his footsteps, trying valiantly to keep up without landing face first in a tidepool.  His new form was quite graceful in this environment but Parts was still inexperienced with its reflexes and found the rough terrain to be quite a challenge.  After about 30 minutes of stumbling over roots and pushing through stands of lesser vegetation, Parts finally struggled free from  a large patch of reeds to find himself looking out over a vast sea of unbroken water.  

Dontabo was already hip deep, untying a strange craft made from the shell of some enormous aquatic mollusk and Parts found himself staring at the vehicle.  Its nose spiraled to a sharp point and the back had been shaped to form a passenger compartment.  There were two pairs of dragonfly-like wings on each side of the craft that appeared to have been made from some form of tough cellulose.  It was a marvel of occult engineering and he’d never seen anything like it.   

Mistaking Parts' hesitation, Dontabo hurried to offer reassurance as they climbed aboard, “Don’t worry, I know she’s an old model but I keep her in tip top shape.  It’s shameful to waste a valuable resource.”

They sped along in the flyer, skimming just above the waves, the cool sea spray a relief from the stifling heat.  Parts marveled at the vast scale of the planet and the endless sea, its blue green surface only occasionally interrupted by a small island or stand of enormous trees.  After several hours, Dantabo slowed the flyer enough to be heard over the wind of their passage.

“We’re almost to the hunting grounds.  We need to ascend in order to spot the wheylanni, but we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves,” Dantabo shouted.  “Keep an eye out for other flyers.”

With that, Dantabo brought the flyer into a steep climb until they were circling several hundred meters above the waves.  Once they’d achieved a suitable altitude he set the controls to perform an automated search pattern.  

“Two underwater mountain ranges come together here to form a shallow channel.  This forces the wheylanni much closer to the surface as they move to their northern feeding grounds.  It shouldn’t take long to spot one this time of year, but we must take care not to be seen.  The effete clans in the Assembly spit upon tradition and will harass us if they think we might be preparing for a hunt,” he explained.

While Parts scanned the sky for other flyers, Dantabo studied the water below, looking for signs of their quarry.  First one hour passed and then another.  Parts’ anxiety increased as he scanned the sky for other flyers, uncertain what to look for and what the consequences might be if he failed in his task.  He felt immense relief when Dantabo tapped his shoulder and pointed at the sea below.

“There, just to the south!  Do you see it?  That’s a big male, he would be a great prize for our clan’s hunters!” he shouted.

Parts peered down, trying to locate the source of Dantabo’s excitement.

“I’m sorry, I don’t see it.  Where is it in relation to the eastern tip of the mountains you were talking about?” Parts queried.

“Those mountains *are* the wheylanni!” laughed Dantabo.  

“Now you know why you had to see them!  We can’t just pull one up in the shallows and bring the whole clan to dress it like in the old days.  Even the blind city squatters from the Assembly would notice something that obvious.  As we said in our petition, we hope the Lifebringer can give us the means to process them discreetly.”   


Fishing Expedition: Negotiations



Parts sat in quiet contemplation, reviewing the Necromancer’s proposal stored in his brain, as Dantabo flew them back to the A’anooye village.  It appeared that the Necromancer was familiar with the characteristics of the wheylanni, or had at least taken the term “megafauna” more seriously than Parts.  Everything should be simple to implement as long as Odronosco agreed to his terms and it seemed best to finalize the matter as quickly as possible.

“The Lifegiver wishes me to speak with Odronosco and the other elders as soon as possible,” Parts called over the rushing wind.  “He believes it is important to get this concluded so that you may begin the harvest”.

“Of course!  The elders will want to meet you as soon as we touch down and I’m sure they’ll be happy to proceed quickly if that’s the Lifegiver’s wish! ”

As they made their descent, they passed over a long sandbar filled with drying racks covered in fish and seaweed.  Parts could see members of the clan, bright plumage dazzling against the sand, busily collecting the finished food stuffs and replacing them with a fresh catch.  

Seeing his interest, Dontabo commented proudly, “We may not hold the place we once did, but we can still make sure that everyone is well fed.  Many of those city squatters can’t say they provide so well for their people.”   

They soon touched down in a crystal blue lagoon shadowed by vast trees where they were greeted enthusiastically by a group of young clan members.  The youngsters dove into the water and swam out to the flyer, chattering non-stop as they guided the bobbing aircraft over to a small pier.

“Are you the Voice, the Lifegiver’s Voice?” one girl shouted.

“He’s come to elevate the A’anoye!” another adolescent called excitedly.

Dontabo leaned in to say, “You’re something of a celebrity!  If they’re bothering you I can send them away.  They won’t be allowed in the clan hall for your meeting regardless.”

 “Uh, no… no, I wasn’t expecting to be a celebrity, but I don’t need them to go,” Parts replied in a slightly dazed voice.

Once the flyer was tied up, Dontabo led the way, following a raised path made from planks of hardwood sealed against the wet with some sort of hard resin.  Their colorful entourage grew as they progressed, joined by people of all ages excited to see the Lifegiver’s representative.  

As they reached the foot of a wide, spiral staircase that wound around the trunk of one of the vast trees, a young woman with shocking neon yellow and hot pink plumage pushed her way through the crowd to address Parts.

“Please!  Representative!  When you have time I would very much like to talk to you!”

“Erm, yes, who are you?” Parts asked uncertainly.  

“She is no-one.  Just the woman we send to ‘represent’ us at the Assembly so that we know what those fools are plotting.  The clan hall is this way.”

With that, Dontabo interposed himself between Parts and the crowd and urged him up the stairs.  As they began their ascent, he hissed back over his shoulder at the Representative, “This doesn’t concern you!  Remember your duties!”

As they circled up and up around the tree they passed residences and small shops selling crafts, fruits, and other delicacies.  After climbing several hundred feet they came to an ornate archway of woven limbs.  Two guards, stood to either side of the entrance, crossed ceremonial spears blocking the way.

“Who comes before the elders of Clan A’anoye?” one intoned formally.

“Dontabo of the A’anooye brings the Lifegiver’s Voice to share his wisdom and guidance!” replied Dontabo with equal formality.

“The wisdom and Voice of the Lifegiver are always welcome in the halls of the A’anoye!” the guards answered in unison, as they uncrossed their spears and bowed deeply.

“Erm, yes, the Lifegiver thanks you,” Parts said weakly, unsure of how to respond.  

Whatever they may have expected, this seemed to satisfy the guards who straightened and marched through the archway into the room beyond.  When Parts hesitated, Dontabo gestured him forward.  As he crossed the threshold he stopped dead in his tracks, stunned by the beautiful filigree of interlaced tree branches that formed the hall.  Sunlight and fresh air were allowed to pass gently through the lattice of living wood and leaves, creating an expansive space filled with gauzy light and soft ocean breezes. 

Adjusting his sight to view the subtle planes and the influence of magicks, Parts could see the lines of energy used to shape and control the space.  The care with which they were maintained was obvious, but the enchantments were very old and starting to fray.  Fascinated by the craftsmanship, Parts maintained his enhanced vision to continue these examinations as he stepped fully into the chamber.

The right hand guard’s spear echoed loudly throughout the room as he rapped it three times against the hardwood floor.

“The Voice of the Lifegiver has come!” he announced with obvious pride.

Seven young and vital looking men stood and approached the new arrivals with smiles of welcome.

“Glory to the Lifegiver!  Welcome to his Voice!  The elders of the A’anooye greet you and bid you enter our hall!” they said in unison.

With some difficulty, Parts pried his gaze from an enormous shell mounted on the far side of the hall to focus on his hosts.  He nearly gasped in surprise when his occult sight revealed that these young men, younger even than Dontabo, were wrapped and permeated by a complicated web of enchantments and magickal energies.  He recognized the Necromancer’s style in the bindings, but it was an ancient work, and far less elegant than his current mastery would produce.

Looking deeper, Parts traced the patterns of the enchantment, wanting to make sure he understood the implications it might have for his negotiations.  After some moments he felt he had at least a basic understanding of its function.  It wasn’t anything like the biological manipulations that Parts had expected, their bodies weren’t magickally self repairing, nor were any of his master’s other rejuvenatory techniques in evidence.   It appeared their youth was maintained through the rather blunt means of looping their essential nature back upon itself to create a permanent stasis in which they did not age because they simply did not change.

How do they have any knowledge of the present at all!  As tightly as they’re bound, absorbing new information must not be easy, Parts thought in wonder.

Parts was startled from his reverie by a tentative query, “Is everything alright, your eminence?”

“Hmm, um, I was just admiring the beauty of your hall,” Parts extemporized after a brief pause to process what had been said.

The elder beamed with pleasure, “Oh yes!  We are very proud of it.  In fact, it was crafted over five hundred years ago to provide a space fit to present our petition to Lifegiver during his last visit.”  

“We maintain it exactly as it has always been, though it gets more expensive every year.  Sorcery has become sadly undervalued and we don’t have sufficiently skilled enchanters of our own and must barter for the work,” another explained.

“Which brings us to our current purpose.  As the other clans have hemmed us in and harried us in the pursuit of our traditions, we have not had the resources to train our people in the menial arts, such as enchantment and alchemy.  Now it seems almost overnight we can no longer hunt and harvest the wheylanni at all!  We find that to keep our heritage alive we need those skills to extract and store the essence of the great beasts.  We must humbly ask the Lifegiver once again to aid us in our plight!”

 “Of course, the Lifegiver is always glad to aid his loyal allies.  Which of you is Odronosco?  I was told to address my master’s proposal to him.”

With that, introductions were made and negotiations began.  After several hours of discussion the details were all but finalized.

“So let’s make sure everyone is satisfied, none of us want to disappoint my Master.”

“In exchange for 10% of the Lifespring harvested, the Lifegiver will provide you with a suitable place in the Darkrealm to process the wheylanni and the skills to store their essence.  You will be responsible for maintaining the portal and the actual processing.  Is this fully agreeable to you?” Parts asked.

“Of course!  The Lifegiver is very generous!  Glory to his name and his family!” replied Odronosco.

“There is just one last thing…” Parts added somewhat hesitantly.

“There is a group of outsiders that have recently arrived on O’ooryu.  They have meddled in my master’s affairs before and he doesn’t want them to interfere with his interests here.  They call themselves the Para Initiative and they have some treaty with the Assembly.  To seal this agreement, their  influence must be removed from this world, by whatever means you find most convenient.”

“Of course, we would be honored to assist the Lifegiver with these foreigners!” Odronosco vowed.

After a celebratory feast and more attention than Parts was comfortable with, everything was finally concluded.  As Dontabo loaded travel food and gifts into the flyer, Parts tried to find relief from his pressing admirers in a secluded spot at the far end of the lagoon.  Just as he was starting to relax, he was interrupted by a tentative greeting.

“Please pardon my intrusion, honored Voice.  I wouldn’t bother you but I have an important message for the Lifegiver.”

Searching for the speaker in the dark, he finally spotted the brightly colored plumage of the Representative who had approached him at the stairs.

“Erm, sure, I can take a message for you, but I can’t promise anything will come of it,” Parts sighed somewhat dolefully.

“Oh!  Of course!  I would not dream of imposing upon him!  I just know that he is great and wise and would wish to know the true state of things here.  Our clan Elders, who’s leadership has guided us for these many centuries, have not adjusted well to the changes wrought by the unification of the Clans.”  

“The Assembly isn’t perfect, but there are factions working to make things better for everyone and their skill with enchantments has created opportunities that our clan can’t even imagine!  I’ve heard rumors that Odronosco wants to restart the hunts for the wheylanni.  The other clans will not stand for it and I fear the A’anooye will be broken up or pushed even farther into the margins.  Please, ask the Lifegiver to intervene before it’s too late!”

“Um, ok, I will make sure this information is passed on, but I still don’t want you to depend on the Lifegiver’s involvement.  I recommend continuing to do what you can.  I’ve found that when it comes to the Lifegiver, those who work to help themselves get the best results.”

As he flew through the night with Dontabo, Parts compiled his reports on the events here.  One for the Necromancer, and another very secret and secure report for his only friend, who might be able to help the A’anooye and needed to know about the threat to the Para Initiative.