Monday, February 10, 2014

The Observatory

Samrat Yantra: Rear View by BibhushanBeatriss and Tetsukichi spent several weeks at an unnamed village in the cloud forest north of Tempat Larang. They found a guide who knew the way to the Observatory. Their guide, an old man, told them that when he was young, he was one of several boys who guided visiting sages to the Observatory, but as Tempat Larang fell further into ruin, the sages visited less frequently, and evil creatures began taking up residence in the Observatory. It was many years ago that he last brought a scholar there, and that young man never re-emerged. So, he was willing to guide them, but he point out the last section of the journey and then wait for them, returning to the village after one night if they did not return.

Beatriss and Tetsukichi brushed off his warnings, but prepared themselves for battle. They were accompanied by all of their retainers. Several young people from the village also accompanied the group to provide for the safety and comfort of the group.  

The hike to the Observatory took more than a full day. The night in the jungle was uneventful, except that Ju-May was plagued by terrible dreams throughout the night. In these dreams, he saw General Goyat, clutching at him with his long nails, pricking him with a rusty knife, and demanding, over and over, “Where’s Gwinch?” In fact, all the member of the party had experienced similar dreams since their meeting with the General face-to-face. Ju May spent the morning sipping tea and trying to clear his mind. Although his mind was so clouded that he could not cast spells, the party did not even consider leaving him behind during their exploration of the Observatory.

The last stage of the journey involved climbing an overgrown, but still easily discernible paved path. The Observatory itself was a solid building of stone with a domed roof. All of its windows had been bricked close, but the main entrance an open archway.

The group proceeded boldly and found themselves in a beautiful, blue-tiled, two-story entryway. Their footsteps echoed loudly, and the party made their way swiftly into one of the side rooms. They found a series of store rooms containing a variety of they termed “art supplies”—including different colors of ink, colored powders, waxes and oils, large sheets of papers, iron stamps, and a large variety of pronged bronze disks of uncertain purpose. Some of these rooms looked like they had been vandalized by other explorers.

After exploring several storerooms on the south side of the building, they sought a way to cross to the other side, looking especially for a way up. Entering a larger room, they noticed a light flickering on the other side and rushed toward it to investigate. Too late, they discovered that the floor had been oiled or waxed, and several members of the party tripped over themselves as they tried to cross the room. As they struggled to regain their feet, they were set upon by a dozen small humanoid creatures with baboon like faces and blue shaggy fur. Some of these creatures threw bronze disks at Tetsukichi, who had sprawled to the floor, while others clubbed Beatriss with iron stamps. A loan scholar would have had a hard time of it, but these two experienced warriors, supported by their most valiant companions, defended themselves handily and killed all of the nasty blue creatures, without suffering any significant wounds.

The light that first attracted their attention turned out to be a simple lamp burning in the blue creatures noisome den. A flight of stairs leading up was also hear. The party explored the upper floor of the Observatory and found the roof—a flat top to the domed roof. A strange bronze chair was there, tilted so that one sitting in it would be looking into the sky, but with a transparent “hood” that covered the sitters face. After various experiments had no unusual results, the party decided they should wait for nightfall.

sextant by Ian RileyAt nightfall, the party discovered the chair’s effects. Beatriss sat in it and was able and see her children. She saw them in fox form snowy mountainous place. Her emotions—fear, longing—seemed to interfere with her ability to watch them closely or for long. She looked for Gwinch and found him. Here her view was more clear, as she found that she could see not only Gwinch, but every step she would need to take to get to where she was, back through the jungles, swamps, and mountains where they’d traveled over the past few months, to a small building of bamboo and crumbling stone outside of Pasar. He was meditating and two men were watching him from the shadows. Tetsukichi remembered that they had a particular reason for seeking the Observatory, one related to their mission. He sat in the chair and asked to see the altar they’d read about in the library, the place they could go to summon the peoples’ protector and get assistance in undoing Goyat’s ritual. He sat in the chair, and he saw an alter in the jungle, but that’s all he saw. They asked Afu to try. Afu started to suggest that Ju- May would learn much from the experience, but everyone, even Afu could see that Ju-May was still in bad shape from his bad dreams the night before, and was nursing a nasty bite on his neck from one of the blue
creatures. So Afu sat in the chair. And after several minutes, he burst out laughing. “Yes, I can take you to the altar of Nung Chiang!”


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