Monday, December 28, 2009

Report: Beatriss's night in Jangzy

Beatriss left Khanbaliq in the company of eight soldiers from the house of Mehwa, and the four peasants. Just outside the city, they met two more peasants from Jangze—a young man, handsome and cheerful and a young woman who was more similarly miserable to the other peasants. They travelled together for a good part of a day, Beatriss and the two commanders on horseback, the others walking. Towards afternoon, they reached a ruined temple, and considered making an early camp. The peasant assured them that they could reach Jangze by nightfall and wanted press on. After another hour or so, they reached a ravine, crossable by a footbridge. One of the soldiers stayed behind with the horses while the others crossed the bridge. Here, the topography changed. The ground was softer, and covered with thick forest. As they passed through the forest, they saw large webs, but no spiders. At dusk they reached the village.

The village was deserted. The peasants hurriedly explained that because of the spiders, they had all taken refuge in a cave in the hills. And they needed to be leaving, too. Beatriss protested. The peasants didn’t answer—they just ran away—the four older men and, more reluctantly the young woman. The young man stayed. He invited them to stay in his house, on the edge of the village in a simple, but clean and comfortable hut, shaded by trees. He provided a simple supper of rice and tea, and did his best to create a relaxed atmosphere. Beatriss answerd his questions about her homeland politely, but showed little interest in conversation.

After eating, they set up a watch. But before anyone fell asleep, the noises began—first in the trees, then on the roof, then crawling around on the walls on the outside of the house. The doors and windows were closed, but the long hairy legs started to poke through and thatch started to fall down from the ceiling. And so Beatriss and the soldiers decided to make a move. Bursting out of the doors and windows, they made an aggressive attack. One spider pushed its way into the house and threatened their host, who defended himself with a piece of firewood. Beatriss came to his rescue. Within a few minutes all the spiders—more than a dozen—were dead. Some of the soldiers had been bit—none severely—but enough to fall to the poison. In total, four died. They moved their bodies to an empty hut, and then settled in to exhausted, uneasy sleep, Beatriss rebuffing the host’s suggestion that they should “find a way to celebrate.” Her dreams were strange, and she woke up in a small cramped space, hemmed in between moist earth and wooden planks. She heard the soldiers clomping around on the floorboards above her and called for help.

They found her in some kind of animal’s den beneath the hut. The hut itself looked very different in the morning light— its roof long collapsed, the inside strewn with debris, tree branches poking through the windows. Their host was gone. They returned to the city.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Play report: Beatriss in Khanbaliq

Playing with fire…
Originally uploaded by NaPix
Gwinch wanted to rebuild the dwelling place destroyed in the fire. He offered to assist with his know-how and the labor of his sohei followers in a rebuilding project. The landowner, of course, was very glad to have his assistance. The former tenants, however, were not to be found.

Beatriss pursued the rumor that there were other people “like her” (i.e. Cynadecian) living in Khanbaliq. Gamo (“Senior”) introduced her to an entertainer named Ashi who came from a faraway place where they spoke a different language and ate different foods. When she first came to Khanbaliq, Ashi stayed with other girls and young women and one of them looked so much like Beatriss that they could be sisters. In their brief conversation, it emerged that Beatriss was acquainted with Mehwa. This was interesting to Ashi because one of her friends, Kei-Lo had gone to his household. Ashi was glad to know Kei-Lo was happy there. She couldn’t say much about the Cynadecian woman, because no one could talk to her. Even when she was awake, she seemed to be dreaming.
Beatriss decided to explore the outer city on her own. She encountered a lost child who refused her help. She came upon the smoldering remains of a fire. Gwinch’s new construction had burned to the ground just like its predecessor. The gathering crowd pointed at Beatriss ("ash face") suspiciously.
On her way back to the “green zone,” Beatriss met with three peasants, who seemed to recognize her. No, they had not seen her personally, but they had her about her when she visited their region. They came from Jangze, a village a day’s trip to the west that was plagued by spiders the size of dogs. Beatriss had killed some spiders there already so maybe she would like to kill some more.?
They implied that it was a matter of duty. Because Beatriss had killed some spiders in the service of Mehwa, they hoped she would complete the job. Especially since the problem had become worse in the month since her visit—- had she done something to anger the spider spirit? Beatriss agreed to introduce them to Tehwa’s family.
At first, the family was more hesitant than Beatriss in offering assistance. But the peasants seemed to know a lot about Mehwa. It was rumored that he had promised his own daughter to the spider spirit. And it was breaking his promise (because isn’t Mehwa’s daughter going to marry someone here in Khanbaliq?) that had angered the spider spirit and had made the spiders attack the village. While the peasants didn’t believe these rumors about Mehwa and his family, other people might, especially if the problem were allowed to continue.
The family agreed to send eight of its soldier in company with Beatriss. Besides dealing with the spider problem, they were also recover the body of Mehwa-- or at least his armor.