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Drofor's Grotesquery is the title of this artwork. It features the great hero, Drofor, being torn apart by shadows which have coalesced into shapes like arms and claws and scary maws. It was painted three hundred years ago by the great artist Kala Kautuka, also known as the Ascarya. Like all of her paintings, it is hard to look away from.

KALA KAUTUKA, the Ascarya

Kala Kautuka was a Shahani elf, who devoted her life to her art. Her parents sent her from her home when she reached the age of one hundred and six. It was then that she made her way west, across the civilised countries, past their borders into the territories of giants (and this was before the war when humanity claimed that country of great, stone cities), and into the barbarian lands.

She settled herself down on the slopes of the White Crown Mountains, and there she found her god, Bo-Voormith, the king of dreams.

Bo-Voormith visited Kala every afternoon, descending from the steep cliffsides of the upper mountain to the valley where she set herself up, and he visited upon her the gift of oil paints and brushes and canvases. Then he would pose for her, and she devoted herself to him wholly for years.

For a single year, she aimed to perfect his eye. For another, she aimed to perfect his lips. Years and years, she devoted to his individual pieces. And when she was finished on a day, Bo-Voormith would kiss her forehead, and take the painting away. The acidity of his touch would push her into a comatose sleep, which she would not wake from until the sunrise. And that afternoon, Bo-Voormith would return with new materials.

In her dreams, Bo-Voormith showed her many things, each one more exciting than the last. And the dreams were so colourful. She felt blessed, and only wanted to paint these things. But Bo-Voormith insisted that she paint him and him alone.

For ten thousand days and ten thousand nights, Kala stayed on the slopes of the White Crown Mountains, painting Bo-Voormith, and Bo-Voormith alone.

Until the ten thousandth day, when he sat down across from her and spoke.

'Kala,' he said. 'I have asked you for a portrait of myself, but you've given me naught.'

'I have given you thousands,' she replied.

And Bo-Voormith pulled out a canvas from behind himself. 'It is your first painting I will show to you now,' he said.

He unfurled it, and her eyes widened. Her lips parted, her breath flowed strange and mingled with the wind.

She attained enlightenment there on the slopes of the White Crown Mountains. She travelled in heaven-on-earth for one hundred years, and when she returned, Bo-Voormith rolled up the painting.

'I think it is time for you to go,' he said. 'Go back to your civilised world. I'll wait here for the day you give me my portrait.'

Kala never told any what her first painting had been. But when she returned to the civilised world, she brought with her nine-thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine paintings, each more beautiful and strange than the last had been. Not a single one showed Bo-Voormith.

She told people how she had attained enlightenment on the slopes of the White Crown Mountains, and they believed her, because her eyes glowed and her hair flowed as though underwater, and her breath, when she exhaled, was as white as the sun's light. They called her The Ascarya, meaning 'the wonder'.

THE CULT OF ASCARYA

One of her paintings was a self-portrait. She never remembered painting it. She never remembered the specifics of any of them. It is rumoured that looking at the self-portrait directly will cause you to go into a lustful frenzy, and delve into an orgy with whomever you share the painting's gaze.

This was found by the parents of First Ascarya, the daughter of a collector of Kala's paintings and her husband. This woman owned fifteen of Kala's paintings. Though she was a very, VERY wealthy woman, this was all she could afford, with the price Kala asked of her.

Three nights after she received these paintings, she held a gala to show them off. One hundred people were in attendance, and they all saw the paintings when they were unfurled in the dance hall.

The self-portrait was the first which many of them saw, and in the centre of the ballroom there was a ravaging, raping mess of bodies. In the middle was the hostess herself. She gave birth to a baby girl, whom she named First Ascarya. Many other babies were born of this orgy, and they were named similarly: Second Ascarya, Third Ascarya, Fourth Ascarya, and so on. They became the paragons of the Cult of Ascarya when they came of age.

Others in the ballroom had many different effects. Some fell dead on the spot, while others vomited uncontrollably for hours until they were bleeding from their throats and sobbing into the floor. Others levitated above the floor and spouted nonsensical language. They never spoke Common again.

The paintings were rolled up and never viewed again. The Cult of Ascarya wants to keep them all safe, and, in the present year, has collected seven hundred and eighty of them.

DROFOR'S GROTESQUERY

Drofor's Grotesquery is possibly one of the strangest of Kala's paintings. In its centre is the hulking body of the world-renowned hero, Drofor. He is the avatar of The Wilted God, who famously inhabited the body of a tiny, petite girl who would have died of consumption, and she grew into a man. She became a he, and became a legend.

Drofor is nearly eight feet tall, with broad shoulders and rippling muscles. He is, for all intents and purposes, a human. However, he is also half a god, at least.

In the painting, Drofor is in the middle of a field of orange tulips being held aloft in the sky by arms of shadow, coalescing into claws which are trying to draw and quarter him.

Staring at the painting too long makes the shadows appear harder, and in motion.

The shadows are recognisable as being the arms of Voorm-Sotha, the shadow spider, who was an enemy of primitive humanity. It is believed that Voorm-Sotha was a fairytale, though his appearance in a painting by the Ascarya should cast suspicion on that.

The strangeness of this painting comes in when taking a look at history. Voorm-Sotha, if he existed at all, would have existed thousands and thousands of years ago. Drofor, however, is still alive. But Drofor was not yet alive when Kala painted this, three hundred years ago.

Is it a prophetic painting, nobody is sure?

And it is very hard to continue staring at this painting, as it will make you vomit violently upon seeing it.

INFORMATION FOR PLAY

Players should roll against their wisdom (Will Saves, or roll+WIS, or whatever the system calls for) when first looking at the painting. A success will still give them feelings of nausea. A middle failure will have them throwing up, and needing to eat, or else be weak of body (losing STR and CON until they eat). A low/critical failure will have them knocked out fully, seeing a vision of Death himself.

Those who view Death now have a bond with Death, and with The Wilted God. If they die, Death will offer them their life back if they can work in service of The Wilted God. Doing anything against The Wilted God's will will result in their mind being removed from their body, and their body being used to cut a swathe of destruction across the land as far as it can withstand whatever is thrown back at it.

The Cult of Ascarya will be very interested in this painting. This would be relatively common knowledge.

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? Community Contributions (1)-1

If this is appreciated, I'll do a '30 Paintings By Kala Kautuka' each with different effects.