Brisk sent the following report to TMN:
Thoom Paramedic! Brisk here with a recent report straight from the Lour Tour this zodiac. It was an eventful trip and the culmination of a few tours worth of charging, hunting for pages of rend, and translating of ancient triangles.
The tour began with the group using the cloud's mirror portal to go to Fountfell. This portal was setup ahead of time thanks to the one and only Master of Clouds, Whirlwind! From there we took a short trip to the entrance of Shadowspring Citadel with the purpose of checking in on the shadow seal far below in the basement. Our group was mighty and made short work of the rock creatures in our way. As we approached the ancient machinery I thought I heard some soft chanting. I had assumed Ovar was muttering about choosing such a frail host for his pysche and shrugged it off as I was busy bartering with Jamboree for a chain after breaking all mine. There was very little shadow activity so it seemed the seal was holding, however, any amount of shadow activity meant there may be a leak as its been far too long since we checked on it. After passing the ancient and mysterious arcane thrones that sit flooded, yet still burning with flame, we were expecting to find Pelaegia in her home. She was nowhere to be found and it was concerning as she left Tartarg's cave awhile ago but we pushed onwards. We didn't have to wait long to find her, after crossing the bridge she was found panic bubbled into a corner and very trapped by all manor of shadow and rock creatures. It was a difficult battle to free her but when we did she was more than interested in helping us check the shadow seal. Side note: Fanan and I were very interested in the manner of panic bubbling she managed to produce. We must remember to ask how she created a bubble barrier in the future.
The trip to the seal itself from this point was rather short with Xepel's superior lava cloak skills and we quickly reached the bottom of the stairs. It was at this point I recognized the eerie chanting I was hearing was actually coming from my own pack. It was the page of rend and the closer we got the louder the sounds were until I could swear I was hearing it sing. Coriakin asked to see the page. I think the song it was singing was something he recognized as well. All of a sudden I saw a gleam in the eyes of Coriakin and Xepel as they surrounded me attempting to get a look at the singing page in the guise of being bards. As I rushed away to safety there was a strange sensation and a rift appeared in front of me. Folks immediately hopped in and their thoughts of the plane of shadows filled my sunstone. Pelaegia looked alarmed for us and offered a sun lantern to Fanan to attempt to keep us safe, well, 'safer' in our journeys. We plunged in after our comrades.
Some of the exiles reveled in the shadows. Perhaps they were just more susceptible or they have been chosen by the shadows as conduits. Fanan was hard at work trying to keep the group sane by sharing his sun via the lantern loaned to him by Pelaegia but was quickly becoming overwhelmed. We fought through a few areas finding new challenges in every corner. Crossing between the islands required a high amount of mental fortitude to find the pathways and each time crossing was very dangerous as a large amount of shadows awaited on the other side. There were "plants" with gnashing teeth, and others that hurt just being near them. We saw shadowy representations of a large assortment of beasts from our plane as well as other forms of pure shadows. The shadows pulled on our cohesion with the group only coming together during extended or difficult battles. While we roamed around the lands of the shadows we occasionally heard speaking from the trees, and some of the trees looked like our own exiles. There was a shadow version of Coriakin, that spoke of a Periwinkle Pen, and another of Inu Teisei that just hurt to touch. I could see sweat pouring out from the hood of Fanan's cloak. He chased after folks holding his lantern high in the air attempting to soothe and expel shadows from their minds.
We eventually lost Stinkfist, who ran off on his own, but we could still hear him yelling. After some investigation we found the water flows in opposite directions in the shadow plane, and when we looked above us could see him rowing around a large body of water. Naturally Mork would be right at home, and since we are all Mork, we dove into the waterfall after Stinkfist and landed into the shadow ocean above us. The shadow seaweed and shadow seahorses (are these the correct names?) were plentiful as we rowed around on the backs of Gaia knows what. We regrouped here, all of us afraid to reach over the edges of our sight, not knowing if the shadowplane was flat or round and fearing falling off the edge of the plane into nonexistence. Eventually the braver or more foolhardy of our group crossed and found a whirlpool that sucked us up into the skies to the shadowlands above us.
At this point, most of our group had succumbed to insanity brought on by the shadows, myself included. I kept feeling the need to check to the west in a compulsion to complete some mapping and peeked through a crossing. What met me was an instant fall with a whole pack of bears. Fanan sensed my light being extinguished and sought me with his skristal. Praise the sun, I was found! Until, I saw a very overworked Fanan hop over my body and fall right next to me. The others unaware of where we were quickly became fully overwhelmed by the shadows and by the time they reached us were too weak to take the area. Much to Phroon's chagrin, we departed, learning that purgatory calms our minds of shadows. Everyone except Inu Teisei who, at time of publication, tried to absorb into the shadowplane herself.
If we are to attempt more expeditions, to communicate with the shadows, or just to gather more information and explore a new plane, one thing is clear. We will need to bring with us more light. It has left us thinking of more questions as well. What else is on the shadow oceans and does it connect to more shadow islands? Is it possible to map the area or does it shift over time? Is there a way back to our plane with our light? Is there a way to control the pages of rend to open these rifts when we wish like the high priestess was attempting? Should we even investigate the shadowplane or will it cause more harm? Would the shadowplane help us repair the other altars in the lands knowing that ours is powered by shadowy light stolen from them? I don't know about you, but I am both excited and apprehensive about this new plane.
Azriel sent the following report to TMN:
The recent emplacement of a fearsome Granite Greymyr in the Auction Hall suggests that the spirit of Nilor has returned to Puddleby.
Azriel eliminated the threat to public safety.
Chaos Storm #1288 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1288:
Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance. — Anthony De Mello (1931–1987)
- The Chaos Storm has revived an Ancient spelling- and grammar-checking machine. Its first effect has been to restore a number of words that had long ago been erased or obscured by the ravages of time.
Dae Fenris sent the following report to TMN:
Recently Stinkfist took the Lore Tour on an astral projection adventure which ended, in an utterly unexpected and completely shocking twist, with him coercing the group into stealing something.
The entire incident is a bit...hazy. Not solely because we started the adventure by burning bags upon bags of kudzu in the middle of town center, but also because we were rapidly swept from location to location where we had to fight something hidden in the darkness . . .
. . . a band of trools that seemed to have prior quarrels with Stinky, and the evils lurking within the shadow plane itself. Of the two moments of respite we were given, one was spent eating snacks on a floating rock in the sky, and the other was used to steal an obelisk from a meshra village.
I tried to abstain from the burglary, but eventually we returned to the Puddleby mushroom hut with the obelisk in tow. Everyone fought through some very unsettling thoughts intruding into our minds from the shadow plane, and just as we were able to recover our bearings we witnessed the monolith sink into the pool under the giant mushroom.
My head is still reeling from the whole thing, but any opportunity to fish is a good one so I've been spending some time in the hut trying to see if I can snag the obelisk...if it's really there. I'm not sure what's to be done if I confirm it's down there, but by then I'll have a belly full of fish so my brain might be working better. Here are some notes I took while fishing, for those who might be interested in the piscine make-up of the pond.
Tugs missed - 83
Tugs that caught an aquatic monster - 2
Casts that snagged my clothes - 3
Number of shoes floating around in the pond - 5
Snackerels caught - 25
Gobbies caught - 7
Chulies caught - 14
Puddlefish caught - 5
Feralfish caught - 5
Tho'lins caught - 2
Flingerling caught - 3
Shusie caught- 1
Snift caught- 1
Shasi caught - 2
Prickleback caught - 1
Hetaler caught - 1
On a related note, if anyone knows how to become a regional philanthropist so I can use a colored bobber I'd love to chat!
Bard concert earlier today!
Concert on the Beach was enjoyed by all, except some music-hating Darshak, who continually tried without success to interrupt the performances.
Chaos Storm #1284 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1284:
Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. — Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
- Healers can now cad other peoples’ pets using /use /pet (which heals the healer’s pet, but if the healer doesn’t have a pet, then the closest pet is healed instead). Pets are burstable, as well.
Epistol delivered the following letters from Aledral to ThoomCare’s office. Unfortunately they were temporarily lost in a pile of fishwrap and various solicitations. A thousand Thoomish apologies. -Para
Dear Denizens of Puddleby,
I will reiterate that your kindness in hosting a lost scholar such as myself does not go forgotten. My 80 years’ worth of research is being pored over by my colleague, Ledarla. Master Sombrion has informed us that once we have completed our ruminations over the meaning of my findings that the report will be delivered to representatives of your town immediately.
I found my journeys with your people to be enlightening, and I feel that my perceptions of the world have grown as a direct result. This will aid in my further research, and for this, I am grateful.
Ledarla and I spoke of the fiction that the kind yellow-clad Fen'neko woman taught me of, and we did take some time to investigate Sombrion's library in search of some in an attempt to understand this concept - "fiction". We did find one book that contained a story that we both concluded could not possibly be true. The book is on loan from the youngest brother, which encourages us to believe this is fiction. I will transcribe it for you below.
The Story of Falinea, of the Winged Centaurs
Long ago there was a beautiful island, inhabited by many unusual creatures. Among these were the Winged Centaurs, an ancient and honorable race, devoted both to the hunt and the pursuit of knowledge. They lived for many aeons in peace, respecting and protecting the land, for the island was sacred to them.
But after many years a band of orga appeared in boats on the shores of this sacred island, with many of their Shamans and Warlocks. The orga began to hunt down the inhabitants of the island, killing with violence and magic. The Winged Centaurs and their allies would have defeated the evil, but for the appearance of the creature known as Bartok, who the orga called their god. Bartok brought forth terrible creatures of shadow that corrupted everything in their path and tore at the land itself. Though they fought bravely against these forces of destruction, at length all the Winged Centaurs were killed by fire or shadowy magic.
All except one.
It is indeed possible that others escaped the destruction, but as far as is known only Falinea escaped the carnage. As an intrepid explorer and pathfinder, Falinea was traveling in a distant land at the time of the invasion. By the time news of the decimation had reached her, it was too late. She flew swiftly as her wings could carry her, only to find her island ablaze. There were not even any bodies left, and to this day she does not know what really happened to her kin. She still mourns, and still hopes that others escaped and that she will one day be reunited with them.
Falinea, weary with grief, flew from her ruined homeland to the island where her cousins, the non-winged Centaurs, lived. They made her welcome and mourned the great loss with her, and offered her a home among them. She gratefully accepted and lived with them for many years, but eventually she became homesick and decided to visit the island that was her original home. It was a bittersweet sight to see the forests beginning to regrow and the animals beginning to return. Falinea decided that just as her lost kin had once watched over the land, she would watch over this new growth in their place.
As guardian of the land and its seasons, she was welcomed into the sacred grove at the island's heart and made her home there. To this day, Falinea seeks solace in the beauty of the Grove, roams the forest paths, heals wounded travelers and is ever vigilant, keeping a close eye on the orga. If Bartok should ever return, she will be ready.
The conclusions my colleague and I came to begin from the difficulty in determining the time or place of the piece. The details are very vague, and there are no historical records of winged centaurs. Similarly, there is no historical record of the Orga ever building boats, and they have remained concentrated on Lord Lugubrion's island. Our conclusion is that this seems to be a fabrication of the work. Ledarla noted that there are Orga recorded on various other islands in the chain, but they are so few in number that we agreed this was anomaly rather than proof of validity.
Our final reason for concluding that this story is a work of fiction pertains to the subject of the piece. Falinea is a constellation and assumed to be an ancient, which would make it very unlikely that she has survived all these millennia. Even the Lord brothers are not that old.
Dear Denizens of Puddleby,
I apologize for being unable to send my above letter until now. We have not had a line of delivery to your town until Epistol was tasked with acting as a carrier for the Lord brothers. It has granted the opportunity to further my review of the studies I conducted with Ledarla, and I am proud to report that it should not be too long before we are able to send a copy to your town. Ledarla's assistant has volunteered to copy the report line by line for the purpose. Master Sombrion has insisted multiple copies be made. Admittedly, I worry if Ledarla's single assistant will be able to prepare these in a timely manner, but I shall bring my concern to Master Sombrion when he next returns. However, we are to visit Leradla and discuss our conclusions within a few zodiacs.
He did tell us that he visited a fantastical island with lush environments that was teeming with birds. Ledarla posited that it may be one of the few locales that the youngest brothers might both enjoy. The Master seemed most elevated in mood after the foray to this island.
I have determined from his various musings that Master Sombrion has been receiving conflicting reports of who was involved in the theft of his storeroom. I grow concerned that there may be accusations or insinuations that are causing unwitting difficulties in continued friendly relations. I would be very sorry to lose the ability to communicate with your people.
Chaos Storm #1279 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1279:
I hate being on my best behavior. It brings out the absolute worst in me. — Colleen McCullough (1937–2015)
- You’ll need to keep exploring to find this Chaos Storm’s changes.
Chaos Storm #1275 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1275:
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree;
I’d hoped, of course, that there would be
A tree still left for me to see;
Some lumber firm from out of town
Has chopped the whole darn forest down;
But I’ll show up those dirty skunks—
I’ll go and write a poem called “Trunks.”
— Frank Jacobs, Mad Magazine #181 (March 1976)
- You’ll need to explore to find this Chaos Storm’s changes.
Chaos Storm #1271 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1271:
Books are a uniquely portable magic. — Stephen King (b. 1947)
- Fixed a bug that was interfering with the normal function of ethereal amulets.
Chaos Storm #1266 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1266:
A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery. — James Joyce (1882–1941)
- Sandglasses should now behave properly when using /show and /examine.
Chaos Storm #1262 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1262:
Life is an experiment in which you may fail or succeed. Explore more, expect least. — Santosh Kalwar (b. 1982)
- Sorry for the delay!
- Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and happy computer!
Coriakin sent the following report to TMN:
Greetings TMN readers,
I bring good news! The assault on Shadowspring Citadel was a success, and the rift leading to the shadow plane has been sealed. Despite numerous setbacks, the Agronox Seal is in place. Working together with the aid of Tart’targ and Pelaegia, a large force of exiles was able to descend to the bottom of the Citadel, despite the forces arrayed against us. However, just as we began to approach the final chambers, the death of a particularly nasty shadow creature opened a portal to the shadow plane itself, blocking the staircase we needed to follow.
With no other options available to us, we bravely entered the portal to find ourselves in a peculiar, yet strangely compelling place. The shadowy growths that have invaded our island were pervasive there, as were even stranger sights. I was aghast and intrigued to see a plant that seemed to resemble my own harp! While there, I was overcome with a vision of a song—a lament for something long-lost, but still missed.
Sadly, there was little time to explore this place… being there caused intrusive and unwelcome thoughts. Luckily, the lanterns held by Tart’targ and Pelaegia to dispel these thoughts. Despite the fearsome residents of the shadow plane, we were able to fight our way to a portal that seemed to lead to our destination, the lowest chamber in Shadowspring Citadel, the home of the rend.
Unfortunately, too many shadow creatures had already followed that path before us, and the chamber proved to be a deathtrap. Despite everyone’s valiant efforts, it was not long before all were fallen. So close to our goal, it was out of our reach and all we could do was depart.
However, upon regrouping in town, we realized that all might not be lost. With so many departing from the shadows’ home, the borders between planes might be weakened enough to attempt to return to the shadow plane. Stinkfist had some individual success, but I’m not quite sure how… likely something involving “higher” states of consciousness, if you catch my drift. But then I realized that the song I’d been almost possessed by earlier might be a connection between me and the shadowplane. An unwanted connection, but one that I might be able to use. After all, it drew me there once, perhaps it might do so again?
This was not an idea that came from nowhere. As much as I tried to deny it, I have had an experience in the past involving shadow music… moving me. And not emotionally. Perhaps “luring” me might be more appropriate. I’m not proud of that day, I would prefer not to speak of it. But the precedent was there, and amazingly my plan worked! A portal formed, beckoning back to the shadow plane. This time we did not have the support of Tart’targ and Pelaegia nor their lanterns, so we hastened to the familiar spot that promised passage back to our plane. This time we would be ready for what awaited us.
And indeed we were! After a frantic battle we were able to clear the area well enough to allow the ritual to begin. At this point I don’t really remember what happened next, but I’ve been told that the ritual began promisingly enough but the shadows retaliated. Wave after wave of shadow creatures appeared, attempting to slay the mystics performing the ritual but being beaten back by our valiant fighters and healers. At the same time… well, the shadows possessed me. Without knowing what I was doing, I attacked Fanan with the blade of an assassin. One that had been used once before.
I’m told I struggled wildly, but was restrained before I could irreparably disrupt the ritual. Nor could the shadow beasts cause lasting harm to the mystics. Once the ritual was complete, golden agronoxes appeared to help defeat the remaining shadows and I finally came to my senses. I’m ashamed of what I’ve done... I hope there is some way I can atone for my actions and seek forgiveness.
But in the end, the Agronox Seal is in place protecting Shadowspring Citadel. This was a victory for Puddleby, although not one without cost. Opening a portal to the shadowplane allowed shadow creatures into town, ones that needed to be dealt with when we finally returned. That portal is no longer open (thankfully), and we can hope that its appearance was a one-time-only event made possible by special circumstances, but it’s entirely possible that the shadows will be able to reach us much closer to home than the citadel, next time. We must be vigilant.
P.S. The next bard concert is happening next Saturday at 11AM Pacific Time! Come hear the entries in the latest composing contest; the winner will receive a museum token!
Stinky sent the following announcement to TMN:
Arrrr Saturday Jan 22nd 10am PST/1pm EST!! THE Lore Tour of All Lore Tours!
We will be traveling to the depths of Shadowspring Citadel to conduct the Agronox Seal Ritual that was taught to us by an Ancient Witch who went by just too many names to list.
Hopefully sealing the crack/rend in reality there will help the Shadow problem popping up Fane and ABC. At least not make any worse.
We need as many exiles as possible in order for this to succeed, so be there!
Mystics, Healers, and Fighters of All Flavors! Fate of our plane of existence depends on it! BE THERE
Phroon sent the following announcement to TMN. Congratulations to ThoomCare Provider Phroon!
I just hit a milestone of 2,000 Respia!
Chaos Storm #1258 has swept the Lok'Groton island chain. Please post any changes you have observed and wish to share with others in the comments.
Delta Tao's "What's New" for v1258:
Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. — Robin Sharma (b. 1964)
- Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year!