(Click here for the previous session.)
[In this session I was both able to find out what are the stakes for Eli, and move on to the "Call To Adventure Phase", and even sneak in the beginning of the "Refusal of the Call" ]
An improbable reversal of luck changes the fishing fortunes of the two young men. As they walk back to their homes, they each carry no less than five fish. So excited is Eli that he almost forgot his travelogue book, were it not that Thor remembered to carry it for him.
[Mythic: Desert Balance/kookily graceful.]
Eli makes it home in time for dinner and is confronted by a new prominent painting inside the living room. The subject is a quite unusual looking man, who somehow manages to also be elegant and graceful; eccentric would be the word. [kookily graceful]
Bryne greets Eli and asks him if he likes the painting.
"It's interesting, mother."
[Who is he, and how did he go mad (desert-balance)? For the man's bio, I used the Rory Story Cubes]
"This was Anius of Apos, Eli. An ancient artist, Magus, world historian and traveller. He is obscure even among those of us interested in history, and those who waste their time in occult circles," Bryne rolls her eyes as she mentions of the last group.
"A Magus, eh," says Eli, looking closer in wonder.
"The superstitions surrounding him are quite colorful. It is rumored that he went mad in his search for the mythical Keys Of Fortune, said to grant their owner success in all of his endeavors. Those given to flights of fancy speculate that he found darkness instead."
"Old wives' tales," Eli says, trying to impress his mom.
"Not quite." She sees Eli's confused expression and adds, "Not literally true, of course. Those tales are usually metaphors, dear."
"Of course," Eli says trying to hide his embarrassment.
"I would have never dreamt of finding anything like this in Hart's Island, and at The Emerald Harlequin of all places. It's usually full of mundane trash. It must have come from a visiting stranger."
"That is quite a stroke of luck, Mother."
"Yes," she smiles. "My interest is purely historical, of course. Shall we sit down to dinner? Your father is waiting."
[NPC Positive: Struggle-Rumor]
Dinner goes by uneventfully, but before they retire to bed, Bryne surprises Ichard with a present: A gold insignia purportedly belonging to a soldier of the "Hidden Army", that is rumored to sere the Emperor. Ichard is very appreciative, as he collects martial trinkets.
[Time to find out what's at stake for Eli. Mythic says the mysterious painting is involved, and that it affects Eli's parents: Oppose-The Mundane]
Eli wakes up and as he sleepily makes his way downstairs for breakfast, he does a double take when he sees Ichard at the table, reading a book on the art of abstract mosaics. His father reading a book? He's never had any interest in books!
Eli almost jumps out of his skin when Bryne hugs him from behind, and kisses him good morning, and lovingly puts a steaming bowl of oatmeal down for Eli, before sitting down next to Ichard. It's not like her at all to show her affection in this manner. And serving him? She usually won't lift a hand to help the maid.
A bemused Eli sits down to chow on his oatmeal, thinking that maybe they should bring more wonderful antiques to The Emerald Harlequin, when the strangeness of the situation hits him in full force. The portrait!
Eli eats a few bites, while watching the strangeness of their behavior unfold, and he can't help but think of some of the spooky stories he's read. Are they playing a practical joke on him? No, his father doesn't have the time to waste on silliness like this. And his mother? She doesn't have that much of a sense of humor.
He eyes the portrait with suspicion: "I'll get rid of it tonight." He is surprised at his own decisiveness, and the irony of that is not lost on him.
That night Eli sneaks downstairs to get rid of the portrait that he believes is the source of all the strangeness. He finds it's light enough that he can carry it by himself.
[Random Event: Move Away from Thread: Break-Enemies]
As he un-mounts the painting from the wall, he clumsily breaks a small vase. It is then that he hears someone clear their throat.
"What do you think you are doing?" says a voice he can't recognize. When he looks over, it's Ichard.
"I thought I would just get to the point, rather than try to trick you into thinking I'm your father," Ichard continues in that same unknown voice.
Eli assumes the voice belongs to the person in the portrait: Ainus of Apos. Despite his trembling knees, and failing voice, he says in false bravado, "It's just as well you don't waste your time. I'm aware of what you are doing, and I'm getting rid of you." He tries not to be scared as he walks past Ichard/Ainus towards the door.
"Oh, I see. That's the kind of gratitude I get for helping you all of these years."
"You forgot that I already know you're not really my father," Eli opens the door.
"That's not what I meant. Remember the scary fellow following you around and making your life miserable?"
"Pardon me?" says a non-plussed Eli, knowing that Ichard/Ainus is not talking about Brelward.
"Ah, yes, how quickly sullen youth forgets, tsk tsk."
Eli almost drops the painting. "Did you get rid of the creature?" He hadn't thought about it in years, trying to rationalize it away as childish fancy.
"Who else?" The old Magus says cockily.
Eli studies Ichard's eyes, and finally asks, "What do you want? We don't have your Keys of Fortune, or whatever it is that you're questing after. Please leave my family alone."
"You don't have them? Oh my, I must have made a mistake! Please accept my apologies. I will be out of your life as soon as I collect my luggage."
"Irony won't stop me," Eli smiles insincerely gesturing at the portrait in his hands.
"Go ahead, it won't do any good," Ichard/Ainus yawns. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"We'll see about that."
"It might even make things worse, who knows," he shrugs as he gets up to walk up the stairs.
"Maybe I am. Good night."
Eli makes it only a few steps out the door, and turns back. Catching Ichard/Ainus midway through the stairs, he asks, "Alright, what do you want?"
"I was trying to answer that before you so rudely walked out on me." He gestures for the young man to hand over the portrait, and Eli does so reluctantly.
[What does Ainus want? Judge-Attention]
After Eli sits, Ichard/Ainus continues, "You see, young man, you and I are both in a peculiar predicament."
"Oh really? What would that be?"
"We have both drawn the attention, and eternal judgement of the gods."
"I've never done anything so terrible as to offend the 'gods'"
"Not in this life," Ichard/Ainus smiles and winks.
"Then why haven't they struck me dead already?"
[Mythic: Spy A Path] "They sent a creature to report on your current life...and dispense a bit of divine punishment, perhaps."
"Well, the creature is long gone, so thank you. However, I don't think your divine problem is any of my concern," Eli says getting up.
"For someone who reads so much you don't seem all that bright, son."
"Oh, I'm the dull one, am I? If there are such things as 'gods', how can anyone escape their divine judgement? "
"Why, I'm glad you asked: You force them to bargain by taking away what they love," Ichard/Ainus says with a mischievous smile.
"You are as mad as the rumours say," Eli grabs the painting from Ichard/Ainus, who doesn't struggle.
"I already told you it won't help."
"I'll take my chances," says Eli, now angrily heading out the door for good. In the back of his mind, he is still concerned with how unconcerned Ainus was about the portrait, but he marches on all the way to the docks.
"Maybe he's bluffing and can't do anything to defend himself," he rationalizes, as he stands on the edge of the sea wall. Taking a deep breath he hurls the painting into the ocean, and watches it float out of sight with the tidal current.
All he cares about is for his parents to be safe, and everything to return to normal.
Edit: Click here for Session 9.