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Author Topic: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat  (Read 31192 times)

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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2012, 02:28:07 PM »
I will get to the Hall of Hauntings and the non-Euclidean pathways in due time. I am sorry to say that I did not think to take pictures. Further proof of my amateurish bumbling. Were it not for my guides and the resources of Franz, my inexperienced corpse would likely be decomposing well out of sight of humanity. (My first thought was to say, "I'll surely remember to take pictures next time." Certainly this will be my only foray, especially after the number of times I nearly found my doom in but a single day.)
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2012, 02:30:28 PM »
I slept more soundly Saturday night than I expected to. Despite the obvious dangers and how quickly events had progressed, I drifted off shortly after the previous day's post.

Once again I experienced a vivid dream about Franz and his daughter. We were all in the sitting room in which I had first met him. This time Ms Gonzalez was also present. She and Franz were in the far corner, talking quietly but in earnest.

Irena sat upon the floor, white dress spread out around her, sipping at a cup of tea. When she noticed me watching her warily, she raised her delicate china cup to me as if in offering and giggled when I recoiled. Her thick black hair had once again fallen across the left side of her face and she looked directly at me with one large blue eye. I felt ice-cold fingers walk down my spine but could not look away, transfixed by that single cerulean orb. My wrist began to itch and burn simultaneously but I could neither scratch it nor look at it.

Franz interjected sharply.

"Irena, please be gracious to our guest."

She blinked, releasing me, and then stood up gracefully, curtsied, and flounced across the room, flinging herself into a chair at the edge of my peripheral vision. Luisa was nowhere to be seen.

Turning to me, Franz said, "You have a long journey ahead of you, longer than I am sure you expected when you began this quest. Ms Gonzalez has updated me on your progress. She is very good at what she does. I would listen to her without argument or hesitation. You are new to this game and I would hate to lose you so early."

With that, he snapped his fingers and I found myself awake and upright.
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Offline Dozus

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2012, 02:31:48 PM »
Ha! Getting to decompose in the Tomb of Xbalanque! That's funny stuff! :lol:

Seriously, though, decomposition would have been a generous alternative to what happens to most who venture there. Glad you made it.
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2012, 04:15:09 PM »
The day began slowly, tediously, and miserably. We marched in the heat, endlessly harassed by biting insects and jungle foliage. After the fifth straight hour of hiking, my haste in taking up this quest began to seem pure folly. Who could possibly hope to locate and unearth, in a single day, the bones of a king dead many centuries! I am a foolish man, far too quick to fling myself after any excitement!

But I kept to my purpose, loathe to turn around once on the path to my goal.

Just shy of the seventh hour of our trek, Luisa called a halt to our party of 6. Three of the men quickly divested themselves of their packs and sat down to rest. The other joined Luisa and beckoned me forward. We walked a ways past the others.

"We shall rest for a short time," Luisa told me. "And then begins the next phase of the journey."

When I looked at her questioningly, she gestured before us at a large pool of water.

"Behold! The gateway to the Underworld!"

It took me a moment to catch on. I had seen pictures of these cenotes in the book. I tried to piece together the references and how they could possibly relate. They dotted the land, connected together by hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of underwater caverns. An entire chapter had been devoted to the relationship between the cenotes and ancient Mayan ruins.

Then I had it.

"We're traveling through the Underworld?" My face must have matched my disbelief, for Luisa laughed.

"Didn't you look at your own map? Why do you think the tomb of the Great Xbalanque has been undisturbed all this time? He may have been buried in the mortal realm, but that does not mean there are any mortal roads which lead to him."

I could think of naught to say in reply; not that I had the chance. Gunshots rang out nearby and a man screamed.

Luisa, her man, and I ran for the others, drawing pistols as we did so.

Chaos greeted us. One of our own men was down and bleeding. The other two had drawn their machetes and charged the attackers.

Events unfolded too quickly for me to recount them all. I fired a few wild shots before it became clear I was as likely to hit our own men as I was theirs.

I barely dodged a knife thrust directed at my face. I grabbed my attacker's wrist, pulled it forward and then slammed my other forearm into his elbow, twisting my hip as I did so. His lost his grip on the knife and ran off, his arm hanging limply at his side.

Another came at me with a machete, slicing shallowly across my left shoulder before I could twist completely out of the way. I fumbled at my scabbard, seeking to free the blades while adrenaline made my hands shake. Twice more I dodged his blows. The third one I caught in the guard of one blade and then chopped into his neck with the other. He fell to the ground, twitching.

We routed the rest soon after but it wasn't clear if they would stay gone.

With no time to lose, we bandaged up our wounded and headed for the cenote. Once there, Luisa read aloud a passage in some language unrecognizable to me. We then followed her footsteps in a meandering path around the water. I shook the entire time, the adrenaline still tearing through my veins and the possibility of another attack looming in my mind.

From the angle at which we now approached the cenote, it became obvious that a path had opened up along its side, leading downward with smoothly carved steps and completely free of water. Perhaps "opened up" is not the correct phrase. I think, rather, that we had approached an entryway hidden by clever use of ancient Mayan power and the strange effects of non-Euclidean geometry.

It would be difficult for anyone to follow us.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2012, 02:24:14 PM »
It appears that I caught a fever while in the jungle. It has finally broken and I hope to continue my tale soon.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2012, 10:46:41 AM »
After a number of strange occurrences (illness, power outages, and numerous internet interruptions) I am finally able to continue with my tale.

I know now that our journey took but a handful of hours. At the time it did not seem so. I swear that for me 3 days passed within that strange realm. The hours that passed, the rising and setting of that strangely luminous sun, all point to a period of 3 full days and nights. Even curiouser, for our guide Carlos it was 5 days and for Luisa it was 7. We spent no significant time apart, remember all the same events, and can make no accounting of our difference in perception of time. Having perished in the journey, none of the rest of our troupe can supply their own experiences. In this retelling I will use my own subjective sense of time.

We descended down that stone stairway, away from our pursuers and into a group of limestone caverns lit by an ambient bluish-green glow. The chill air appeared wavery and slid across the skin as we moved, feeling almost like brushing through spider webs or thin tissue. It smelled faintly, but I have no words to describe of what other than to say it was like comfort and fear both rolled into one.

After what I believed to be the end of our first day the man who had been shot became infected with a host of fast growing black worms. He began screaming as they tore their way through the wound and under his skin. Within 10 minutes they were streaming from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. In the meantime he had gone silent.

We camped within the caverns that first night, rotating tired but alert sentries. I had despaired of my original timeline but the excitement of discovery had found its way into my blood and I could not fathom turning back. I only hoped that my family would not fear for me in my absence.

The second day we left the caves and ventured into a forest lit by that same dim bluish-green glow. Something like a sun traveled in the sky but it did not move like our own reliable star; I found I could only take a brief glimpse of it before its erratic motions made my head feel as though things were trying to dig their way out of my brain. During that long day, we were set upon twice by roving bands of demon monkeys with slings and copper-headed clubs. None of us escaped without harm, though none perished either. My side is still sore from a bruised rib and the gash across my cheek bled profusely at the time.

That night we camped below a floating, inverted cenote, whose waters were filled by a constant stream from the ground before us up 50' into the air.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline Dozus

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2012, 11:44:13 PM »
This is the cause, in part, to all that to-do about the "Maya apocalypse". Doubtless they have the date pinned - to the last seconds, it is said - but exactly which 144,000 days a b'ak'tun lasts is not as direct as one might think.

I have seen the strange landscape you describe but once before. I wonder if it was the same cenote? I should not speculate, I suppose. It would be... incautious to speak too much of it here unless I was sure. Strange how even speaking the words of some things seems to cause them to come into being.
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #32 on: December 26, 2012, 11:21:00 PM »
I have seen the strange landscape you describe but once before. I wonder if it was the same cenote? I should not speculate, I suppose. It would be... incautious to speak too much of it here unless I was sure. Strange how even speaking the words of some things seems to cause them to come into being.

Doubtless it is the same one. At least I hope... it frightens me to think there could be more than one of these. I too shall avoid giving voice to the thing which woke me that morning of the third day. I shall only say that I lay there in silent terror for an unknown length of time, wishing that that nameless thing would disappear, banished from sight and memory.

Why it did not take any of us before it crawled back into the hanging cenote, I will likely never know. Perhaps we were as insects to it, unworthy of notice. Whatever the cause, I am thankful. Doubly thankful, for had it not disturbed my slumber, the lot of us would have been slain in our sleep. Our man on watch died soundlessly by a hurled stone-tipped spear, the blood pouring from his neck as he was transfixed upon its point.

I shook myself, yelling incoherently to wake the others while trying to dislodge the echoes of the horror of that nameless thing from my mind. For we had been set upon by scaly snake men, wriggling into our camp upon thickly coiled tails, wielding clubs and spears of wood and stone in their too-human arms. I myself took a blow to the solar plexus from a club before I could sufficiently rouse myself to action. I sat there on hands and knees, vulnerable, waiting for breath to return or death to take me. The retort of a pistol sounded just moments before a heavy body fell upon me. I later learned that it was Carlos who had saved my life in that moment. At the time, however, I was only grateful to still have breath in my lungs.

Without an opportunity to retrieve my own weapons (I had been thrown too far aside to easily reach them) I had to cast about for something with which to join in the fray and came across one of the primitive spears of the hideous snake men. Fortunate for me; the spear is my favorite, rightly called the king of weapons. In my spare time I  practice with it as often as I can manage. Recovered, weapon in hand, with the others of the party at my side, our attackers were soon routed.

Only one man had fallen in the fray, though we found it necessary to patch each other up. None among us had escaped unharmed. Carlos walked with a limp. Luisa's right arm was tied in a sling. The other man had received a nasty gash to his scalp and I suffered from a number of minor cuts to my sides and arms.

For the one who had fallen we made a simple grave and Luisa said a few respectful words in Spanish. Afterwards we gathered up our gear and continued on our way.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline Dossta

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #33 on: December 27, 2012, 11:27:57 AM »
Ah, the exciting life of tomb raiding and underworld exploration!  How I miss those days, but alas -- parental duties required that I put my sword up years ago.  I'll say though, that the spear you collected from the Naz'atha is a potential collectors item, worth a pretty penny if you manage to bring it back in good condition.

I'm looking forward to your report when you get back to your home.  I've found many uses for ancient Mayan remains, but fashioning a spade from the skull of Xbalanque is a stroke of pure genius!  Can't wait to see how effective it will be at curing your pumpkin problem, and what cosmic side-effects that particular desecration will put in motion.

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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2012, 11:55:34 AM »
I did manage to bring home the spear, although despite its monetary value I intend to hold onto it as a token of my journeys. It is quite effective and a work of art, primitive though it appears.

As for what happened when I returned... the specifics are soon to come, but I must find some way to remove the curse which followed me. I have suffered a number of odd and seemingly unrelated mishaps since leaving with the bones of Xbalanque; a mysterious illness, power outages covering just a portion of my home street, equipment burning out, errant vehicle troubles, and more. More than likely I will need to return to Franz for assistance, though the idea of that sends chills down my spine.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline Dossta

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2012, 12:30:49 PM »
Sounds like you may have an infestation of Ch'amway -- the Mayan version of gremlins (photo here).  They are a common pest encountered by hobbyists, and you may be able to find more advice for ridding yourself of them on the relevant forums, if you are reluctant to approach Franz.  I can understand that, though.  It can be embarrassing to approach a seasoned veteran for help with what amounts to the grave robbers' version of lice, but he may also be able to provide you with a faster way to rid yourself of them. 

I'm not the most seasoned raider myself, but I can give you some pointers that might help.  I had a friend who once brought back a whole host of Ch'amway from his adventures in Mexico.  Here are the steps we took to expel them from his home:

1. Shave your entire body, to confuse the spirits and make them lose sight of you.
2. Take a long shower in running water, whilst sprinkling salt around the area to further confound them.
3. Emerge from the shower and dress entirely in red, and paint your face to resemble a jaguar.  By now, the Ch'amway will not recognize you, and will be looking for a new host.
4. Place your shaven hair in a hollow gourd (a pumpkin will do), and bring it to the nearest body of water.  I would recommend a river or a lake, as a pond is a bit small for this purpose.
5. Wait until nightfall, then float the gourd out onto the water, after lighting the hair on fire.  This will draw the Ch'amway away from the shore and they will become lost over the open water and unable to find their way back to you.  When dawn breaks, they will be defenseless -- out in the open and without shelter.  The morning light should banish them back to the underworld.

Carving the pumpkin is optional, but will give this a greater chance of success.  Try matching its features to your own, if at all possible.

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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2012, 02:16:43 PM »
We walked for most of a day before stumbling upon an ancient Mayan city populated by the dead. They watched us in silence as we trod upon a stone road, passing fields of strange fruits, vegetables, and grains before entering the city proper. Each man, woman, and child wore colorful clothing and a hideously styled mask of beaten copper, through which we could see naught but blankly staring eyes.

Soldiers lined the roadside as we entered, their collective gaze intent upon our every move. We walked warily along the meandering stone walkway, catching glimpses of various buildings, pyramids, and courtyards, all made of stone with elaborately carved figures upon them.

I wish I could say that we made it through this city of the dead without any conflict, but that is not so. Near the edge of the neighboring forest, we were suddenly surrounded by soldiers who roughly grabbed one of our party and hauled him off. We could do naught against their multitude of bristling spears. Luisa, Carlos, and I could only listen on in horror to his screams as he was carried away. We know not of his fate, for we were forceably ejected from the city and into the wildlands once again.

Now at half of our original number, we trudged onward into the surrounding hills. A meandering path led us to a great pyramid. We followed a winding stone staircase from the base to the topmost terrace of this great structure. There we found a doorway, seemingly leading to nowhere. But, as she had done at the entrance to the Underworld, Luisa chanted in the ancient Mayan tongue and led is into the doorway.

At first it appeared that we would walk directly through the doorway and onto the other side of that great terrace, but we somehow made a slight twist to the right and found ourselves in a completely darkened space which carried the echoes of our footsteps back to us.

We had finally left that cursed Underworld and ventured into a cavern of gigantic proportions. With our flashlights, we made our way across, into an intricately created replica of an empty, ancient Mayan city, complete with a pyramid-temple at its center. It was there that we found the remains of the great Xbalanque. I will admit that I wept at the sight of his bones. We had gambled much to make it this far and lost 3 brave men in the process. I know I will never be the same again.

Despite our exhaustion, we did not rest until we had put the city-tomb of Xbalanque far behind us. I had expected us to take the same route home that had led us here, though the prospect of facing those horrors a second time gave me pause. This was not to be, however, for Carlos, using Luisa as translator, explained that we could return through the Hall of Hauntings. Apparently this Hall exists in many dimensions but allows travel in only limited directions. He tried to explain how this was so but I found myself unable to follow. At the end, I merely shrugged and gestured for him to lead onward.

I braced myself before entering the Hall of Hauntings. From the name, I expected to be set upon by ghosts or any number of unnameable horrors. Fortunately for me, I do not speak Latin, so the attempts by the ghosts there to make me repeat the litany of word conjugations had no lasting effect upon my already fragile mind. Luisa did not fare as well; at one point she degenerated into babbling about Past Imperfect Passive vs Past Imperfect Active. I am told she will recover, given enough time.

We made it out of there in short order, emerging near a small town in Guatemala. I was greatly surprised to find that I had been gone for less than a day. Carlos made arrangements for one of Franz's helicopters to pick us up and bring us to an airport, whence I was able to return home mostly safe and somewhat sound. The administrations of my wife were of great assistance in my recovery, though the details are not fit to relate here.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
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His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2012, 02:19:37 PM »
Sounds like you may have an infestation of Ch'amway -- the Mayan version of gremlins (photo here).  They are a common pest encountered by hobbyists, and you may be able to find more advice for ridding yourself of them on the relevant forums, if you are reluctant to approach Franz.  I can understand that, though.  It can be embarrassing to approach a seasoned veteran for help with what amounts to the grave robbers' version of lice, but he may also be able to provide you with a faster way to rid yourself of them. 


I am sure that you must be right about the Ch'amway. I have little knack for this sort of work. It sounds like I will need to seek out Franz's assistance for this as after all.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #38 on: December 29, 2012, 07:44:29 PM »
Now I come to the crux of my tale, where I faced off against the kind of terror which only a sorcerer can bring to bear. This is where I show my gratitude to you all for your kindness and helpful hints during my long ordeal. And though this occurred more than 2 weeks ago, every detail is still fresh within my mind.

I had in my possession the powerful skull of the ancient Mayan hero Xbalanque. I was home. I had mere hours with which to fashion the shovel and dig up the dead fowl which I would bury three days hence.

I am no skilled craftsman and a skull is a difficult thing to fashion into any other form. But I would not allow any obstacle to prevent me from completing my quest. There was no aesthetic in the shovel which I formed from the skull and it was no easy tool to bring to bear. What could have been 10 minutes with a normal shovel took nearly an hour with my morbid creation. And yet, the burlap sack was there! Right next to the old redwood which I had planned for the burial place. The dead bird inside was rank indeed.

It was late at that time and I am certain from the look on his face that I had disturbed my neighbor during his evening repast. I must have looked quite frightful in my own way, bandaged, tired, covered in grime, and holding a sack from which emanated the stench of partially decomposed fowl.

The purpose of my quest was full upon me and his usual tricks failed to impress me; eyes glowing red, sigil-bedecked robes billowing out in an unseen wind, and the almost heard chitters of small creatures behind him. Even his pumpkins did their best to send me running, each a mere foot from either side and growling low.

"What do you want, Worm!?" my neighbor said, chuckling in his usual self-satisfied way. "Do I need to have you escorted from my domain?" With a flick of his hand he summoned a skeletal claw which began to reach out from the darkness of his house.

"Not at all," I said, my voice calmer than I expected it to be with the full force of adrenaline coursing through my tired and battered body.

"I am here to make sure you get the message through your thick skull once and for all."

With the power of the chicken coursing through my voice, I bellowed out, "Keep your own d**n pumpkins in your own d**n yard!" and struck him full across the face with the foul smelling sack.

The change in him was immediate and astounding. The red glow vanished from his eyes and they went dead. His robes sagged. The skeletal hand pulled back into the house as if yanked from within.

With no inflection whatsoever to his voice, he said, "Yes, my master. My pumpkins shall never bother you again."

Satisfied with the result of my quest, I walked back home, keeping my head up as well as I could. Pure exhaustion had set in and I was barely able to crawl into bed before sleep took me into its sweet embrace.



I slept through the night and most of the following day, a deep and dreamless sleep the like of which I have rarely experienced. When evening arrived and I finally roused myself from slumber, it was to the smell of freshly baked pies.

"Look, Love," my wife said, grinning wide, "the neighbor brought us some freshly baked pumpkin pies."



On the night of the full moon, I used the skull of Xbalanque once again. This time to bury the corpse of the poor chicken. At least the smell had lessened over the intervening days. I worried that the cats would try to get into the bag but they wished to have nothing to do with the thing.

I buried the sack in the same spot by the redwood tree in which I had dug it up three days previous. Once it was safely settled under a mound of earth, I straightened its neck, removed it from the bag, and set it free. I have seen it wandering about these past couple of weeks, always walking backward with a certainty to its step. I expect to one day find an egg on the lawn. The lawn which has been free of pumpkin scat for some time now.



Franz returned for the bones shortly after I buried the chicken. He appeared upon my doorstep the following evening, making no attempt to enter my house while I went to gather up the bones and his book. I was both relieved and oddly sad when he left.
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Offline Dossta

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #39 on: December 31, 2012, 02:56:49 PM »
A satisfying end to a worthy quest!  I do hope that Franz was able to provide you with some better tips to rid yourself of the Ch'amway (since shaving one's entire body is both uncomfortable and often unsightly), and that you are now well-rested from your long journey.  Tell me, as a first-time tomb raider, how did you find the hobby?  Will you continue to pursue it, now that your quest is over?

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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2012, 10:52:26 PM »
Well, I'm in a bit of a pickle. You see, I contacted Franz via email about the Ch'amway. According to him, these are not the typical variety and require special handling. He does, however, know the cure, but it will likely require another journey to gather some special ingredients. He wishes to meet with me to speak of the matter in person, but the thought terrifies me no end.

What have I gotten myself into?
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline Dozus

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #41 on: February 03, 2014, 09:05:37 AM »
Well.

I had hoped we would not need to speak of these things again. I tried to handle things on my own - I didn't want to drag any of you back into these dark tidings. But now I find myself in over my head, so to speak, and I am helpless. I come to plead your assistance one last time.

It happened on the last day of this year - a full year since you last mentioned your dreadful affairs. The wife and I were enjoying a quiet fire out on the brazier in our back yard. Our yuletide wreath had gone dry, and I suggested we burn it up as a way of marking the new year.

With foolhardy abandon - brought on by more than a little drink - I tossed the wreath into the fire. Instantly it flared a bright orange, then pure white, the flames roaring. My wife was frightened and went inside to fetch a bucket of water in case the fire left its container. I stayed to keep watch.

And out of those flames, I saw it.

I cannot - I dare not - try to describe in vivid detail what I saw, though the image is burned into my mind and I see it whenever I try to rest (O, to sleep peacefully again!). I will tell you only this: there were eyes, dreadful eyes; a tangle of flesh wrapped on warped bone; and an endless, gaping maw.

In a moment it was gone. When my wife returned, the flames had died down, but I could not banish the sight from my mind. What had been called forth from those flames? Why did I still feel its presence?

I contacted your acquaintance, Franz, as I knew of no one else who could help. He responded within minutes - odd, given the holiday - asking about the origin of the wreath. We got it as the same time as our tree, at one of those stands that seems to conjure from nowhere after Thanksgiving. It was small, only a handful of workmen there, and we spoke to man named Mikko. He was a Finn, tall and gangly, perhaps in his thirties but maybe much older, with a shock of yellow hair and a thick mustache. He was friendly enough, jovial and with a thick accent, and he gave us a good deal on a spruce. When I asked him where it was from (there are many such tree farms in the Carolina mountains), he leaned in close and said "On the banks of the Tuoni! But which bank? The near, or the far?" As he pulled away, I saw a crazed grin on his face and a queer twitch in his eye. Too much of the hard cider, I reckoned, and smiled politely. As his fellows loaded the tree onto my car, Mikko offered my wife a wreath since we were "such good customers." We threw the tree into the back and drove off.

I had thought nothing more of Mikko or his odd answer until Franz asked. I relayed the information to him and awaited his reply, the image of the fiery beast never far from my mind. A week went by, then two. Finally I had a reply from Franz, but a grim one at that. He said the wreath must have been made from the boughs of a tree grown near the River of the Dead, which the Finns called Tuovi. The "far bank," as Mikko put it, was that in the Realm of the Dead, called Tuonela by the Finnish. It goes by many names: the Greeks call the river Styx or Acheron, the Sumerians know the land as Irkalla, to the Hebrews it is Sheol. All the names mark the same place: beyond the dark river is lies the deep abyss where the dead dwell.

Franz believes the wreath was made from a tree that feeds from that evil water, and the branches must have held some dark being drawn from that place. By burning it - O foolish Suzod! - I released the spirit into the world. Even now, he surmised, it haunts my yard still, which explains the blood seeping from the trees and the black vines encircling my gazebo. As for a solution, Franz said he could not help, not even he would dare provoke this demon.

And so, my friends, I ask you: what shall I do? How can I exorcise this creature from my lawn? How shall I send it back across the Dead River into the Land of Darkness? When should I seed, and when should I feed?
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2014, 09:48:30 AM »
Alas, poor soul! You have been well and truly marked!

First, I must caution you to be wary of Franz's words. His help oft has a hidden cost and his aims do not always align with others' as well as they may at first seem. I learned this to my detriment during last year's foray into hell.

Beyond that, I suspect Mikko to be an agent of... someone I had dealings with just prior to your acquiring the wreath. I shan't speak it's name, for I do not wish to conjure it here.

Sadly, I must confess that I may, in fact, have intimate knowledge of this tree. 'Tis entirely possible that my hand felled it and my arms carried it across to the near side of that very river of which you speak.
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The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.

Offline Dozus

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #43 on: February 03, 2014, 12:46:08 PM »
I have seen your tale, and I am shocked beyond measure. To meet the wrath of Xbalanque, and return - even as the undead, this is unheard of. I pray your experience will uncover this mystery.

After reading Franz's advice, I returned to the field where I had met Mikko. I knew the chance of seeing him again was slim - such stands disappear quickly around December 25. What I did not expect was what I found: not only the stand, but the whole clearing was gone! In its place was a dense forest, all pines and hickories, no sign of human habitation. I parked on the side of the road and prepared to go into the wood, but something stopped me - fate, perhaps, and I stayed away. Whatever force caused this grove to suddenly appear was not one to be encountered lightly.

I reentered my truck and sat in the driver's seat, confused and exhausted. The demonic image still haunted my mind, and now the only clue I had to its origin was gone.

But now, having spoken to Mystic, I have new knowledge:
Quote
(13:08:19) MysticMoon: And there is a reason I needed to travel to the far side of the river Tuoni
(13:08:57) Dozus: I still don't understand how this Mikko, whatever dark service he does, came into the possession of the wreath.
(13:09:08) Dozus: And how it then came to me, of all people!
(13:10:26) MysticMoon: I suspect all will become clear as the tale unfolds. Eventually. Well, mabye most of it
(13:10:50) Dozus: Say, does water normally taste like blood and darkness? I can't remember.
(13:11:15) MysticMoon: I thought the tree safely hidden away from the world. At least, as I last left it
(13:13:17) Dozus: Did you yourself cut it from its dark roots? Did you break its iron bark and feel its volcanic sap?
(13:13:56) MysticMoon: Aye, that I did. It was essential in bringing my mortal body back to life.
(13:14:08) Dozus: Of course. Hair o' the dog, and all that.
(13:14:54) MysticMoon: Yes. One of 9 ingredients the necromancer bade me gather
(13:15:10) Dozus: Wait, which necromancer?
(13:15:20) MysticMoon: Have you read my tale in full?
(13:15:41) MysticMoon: He is the one who bound my spirit back into my decaying flesh
(13:15:44) Dozus: Not yet, my friend, not yet. I'm reading it now, between the flashes of terror.
(13:17:35) MysticMoon: I suspect Franz replied to you so quickly out of a suspecion that he knew the tree of which you spoke
(13:18:02) MysticMoon: If so, he is very much aware of the demon within. As am I, but my soul still shivers when I think of such things
(13:22:05) Dozus: ...Well. That is a frightful story indeed. To have gone into the realm of the dead, seen the wrath of Xbalanque, and returned!
(13:22:53) Dozus: Then you have seen the River of which I speak. You have met the Boatman and paid his terrible price.
(13:24:06) MysticMoon: My journey to that river came after... when the necromancer sent me on a quest to recover the ingredients which would bring my corpse back to near full health and life
(13:24:27) MysticMoon: Perhaps as your story unfolds, there will be pieces of my own which will help rid you of this demon
(13:24:50) valadaar: great stuff !
(13:24:53) MysticMoon: Some clue perchance
(13:25:16) Dozus: I pray so. I cannot say why, but something deep within says that to return this demon from whence it came, I too must journey to those black banks.
(13:25:43) MysticMoon: Were that demon to become trapped once again along that river... the world would be a much safer place
(13:26:05) MysticMoon: And it's hideous cries for vengeance upon me silenced
(13:26:39) Dozus: Perhaps that is why this Mikko sought me out. He knew of our correspondence, our dealings in the Yucatan.
(13:26:56) MysticMoon: It is possible. Yes, I believe you are correct
(13:27:02) MysticMoon: Finnish, you say?
(13:27:12) Dozus: A Finn, yes.
(13:27:26) Dozus: Did I mention his mark?
(13:28:02) MysticMoon: There was a woman on my journeys... I could never place her accent, but something in your description of Mikko makes me wonder...
(13:28:05) MysticMoon: Mark?
(13:28:59) Dozus: On his left wrist. A twisted tattoo. I have not seen its like...
(13:29:32) MysticMoon: Ah. Yes, she had one also. They are sure to be connected in some way
(13:30:00) Dozus: It was like a skull, but with more eyes than a skull should have, and more teeth. A spear was pierced through it.
(13:30:31) MysticMoon: I spoke to her of things in confidence. I could not have completed my task otherwise. It pains me to think she may have been part of a larger conspiracy
(13:31:40) MysticMoon: A spear? Yes, she spoke of a spear which pierces the world. It was a spear which led me to the river
(13:32:03) MysticMoon: This was, in point of fact, the very thing I had sought her help for
(13:32:26) Dozus: They say the ancient beings who dwell in the other realms keep contacts here in our mortal one. Cults of secrecy and darkness, ever watching, looking for a chance for their masters to return. Perhaps she and Mikko were part of such a cult.
(13:32:29) Dozus: A spear, you say?
(13:33:22) MysticMoon: I lost it on my way back, somewhere near the Appalachians, if memory serves
(13:33:41) MysticMoon: You will certainly need it if you are to find that river
(13:34:06) Dozus: Then fortune has smiled on me - if only a slight grin. I know those mountains well.
(13:35:37) MysticMoon: I remember also... the necromancer used the smoke of some sort of dried wood in the ceremony. It may have been cedar? I do not know my trees. He explained to me that the demon found such a smell painful
(13:36:02) MysticMoon: Perhaps if you are able to procure some, you may limit it's power, though obviously such a thing would not be strong enough to rid you of it completely
(13:36:07) Dozus: Cedar, truly?! My yard is full of cedars!
(13:36:48) Dozus: I shall fell the trees tonight! I'll have to get a permit from the HOA, but I'm sure there's a clause for demonic exorcism.
[/tt]
The cedars shall burn tonight - I'll mourn their loss, but take joy if the monster's strength is sapped. And thinking again on Mikko's mark, I am reminded of one of my history professors at Appalachian State, a certain Dr. Bond. His background is in medieval religious studies, and he knows many obscure texts. As my quest will bring me to the mountains to seek the spear, perhaps Professor Bond can lend some guidance.
Dozus the Windward
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: The Quest to Eliminate Pumpkin Scat
« Reply #44 on: August 25, 2014, 01:31:50 PM »
I shall document my journey back to health and life: From Decaying Corpse to Living Flesh... What Cost Could Be Too High?
Chosen of Aktagarti – Divine Synod Guild – Level 1
Might: 2 | Agility: 3 | Wits: 4 | Charm: 3 | Spirit: 4 | Power: 2

The old man, grey-haired, braid hanging down.
He is clothed in faded brown robes.
His craggy face is turned up, bathed in moonlight;
He looks for his goddess to smile upon him.