-The 9 Incomparable Pearls of Might
The Understar is incomparably beautiful. She is slender and taller than any human, over 8 feet. Her flesh is a pearly gray, much like that of a porpoise. Her hair is a mane of thick braids and ponytails, woven with rings and jewels and chains reaching to her , and is of a blue-green shade. Her eyes are large, black, and liquid, with long eyelashes. Her nose is long and noble, and her lips are pouting and of a violet shade. Her ears are small and pointed, and pierced with many rings. Her body is flawless according to the standards of the age. She has a long tail which is about half of her height in length. Her neck, back, shoulders, and tail are adorned with pearlescent blue scales. She dresses in a long kimono of a pearly white and gray silk.
The Understar casts no shadows, except to the light of The Lantern That Reveals All Secrets, and she has no reflection in any mirror. She abhors iron, especially cold iron, and cannot stand cold water, though she will enter it if pressed.
She speaks with a familiar but unplaceable accent, and when she laughs it is a soft, masked sound. Her voice is possessed of a velvety, liquid quality.
The beautiful creature reclines, her braided mane spreading around her like some sort of blue-green cloak. Her pearly gray flesh almost shimmers in the torchlight. She casts no shadow.
"You have come all this way seeking the Understar. I am not she. I am her mirror, and her mirror is she."
The Understar sighs, and reaches into a pocket in her kimono. She pulls out a fist-sized pearl, bluish-purple in hue.
"This pearl tells a story. A story of destruction and beauty. Like my story. It was ripped from its mother the clam and used in some unappreciative being's jewelry, and eventually, came to house the essence of one of my Monsters. My husbands, that is." she says. "You have come here seeking my tale. I will tell it."
She stands again, and replaces the pearl to its pocket in her sleeve.
"In the ancient days, long ago, before you humans came, before the elves usurped us, before the dwarves began to hollow out the mountains, there was a race of beings known as the Agharti. We, the Agharti that is, were the brothers of the gods and the spirits. Our father was the Warden Who Built the Temple, a god who no longer exists in a knowable form. Our mother was Creation. We knew everything there was to know about our mother, and we learned much of the Spirit World from our father and our brothers and sisters. I was the Eldest Daughter of our father, thus I was the ruler. We loved our brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers, but we also loved our station. We loved the power it gave us. We loved the wealth, and most of all, the beauty. We, the Agharti, dabbled in the arts that should not be known. We began to look for a way to find more power. We first sent word to the Machines, who dwelt in the Void, but they ignored us as they were wont to do."
At this, the Understar stops, and gives one of those inscrutable laughs of hers.
"We would not take their refusal, and we tried to force them with words of power. We trapped the God of Machines in a pearl," she says, removing again the pearl from her sleeve. "Much like this one. But the Toolmaker was too powerful for even our magic, and shattered us. He returned to the Void and gave us his curse. This was the 1st of the Curses of the Agharti."
She turns her exquisite back to you, revealing the tail that drags from her kimono.
"But we Agharti did not learn our lesson. We laughed at the Toolmaker's curses and forgot the Machines. We instead tried to learn the way to more power from the Dead Gods and their ilk in the Underworld. But of course, the Dead Gods wanted our names in exchange for the powers they would give us, and the ghosts and Ghostlords had no beauty, so we turned our backs upon them, and we spat upon the Tombs of the Dead Gods and the Well of Oblivion. For transgressing against them so, the Dead Gods gave a droned death-curse. This was the 2nd curse of the Agharti."
She turns toward you and stares into your eyes with those indescribable black pools. Their beauty nearly moves you to tears.
"We went looking where we should not have. We sought to find power from the fell Demons of the Inferno. How arrogant we were! When we saw the hideous appearances of the delegate of the Demons, and the horror of the Inferno, we spurned them, and, being haughty as we were, tried to seal them even tighter. We tried to trap the Emperors of the Inferno and the Demon Princes in our beloved pearls. They were shattered. That was how the Agharti recieved their 3rd curse."
You see that a tear rolls down the pearly cheek of the Understar now.
"The curses came soon then. The first curse, the Curse of Machines, stripped us of our ingenuity. We made no more magical achievements. We found no new technologies. We no longer sought to riddle or percieve. The second curse, the Curse of the Dead, drained us of our time. We were removed from the Cycles of our mother, Creation. We no longer aged. We were sterile and none were born again. We did not die or grow old, children did not grow up. The third curse was the Curse of Demons, and this curse was the most fell. It made us take our rage to our mother, Creation, and all who dwelt within her. We made war, oh yes, terrible war, and slaughter. We laid waste to entire civilizations of beings who you have no fathom of now. We stripped the land bare of life, and the seas. The Dragons came then. They adjudicated, and looked into the souls of the Agharti, and found us lacking."
This last sentence is a near-silent sob. She grasps the pearl in her long fingers.
"I am the last one. I am the Understar. Those that may find me, may sample my knowledge, and my magic. As Eldest Sister, the Dragons said that I might live with what my race had done. I am locked here, in my Garden. My Garden below the surface."
She once again reclines, and closes her eyes. She holds the pearl between her breasts and sighs again.
"That is my tale. That is what you sought. Go now. Go now from my Garden, and tell no-one of me. There will be others."
The Understar is a powerful sorceress, rivalling the power of the Prince of the Endless Corridor, and is peerless in her lore and knowledge. She is godlike in power.
She also possesses the 9 Incomparable Pearls of Might, jewels which contain monsters that she has broken to her will. Due to the transgressions of her race, the Agharti, of which she is the last, she is imprisoned within her underground Garden. Though she never speaks of it, she is filled with rage, and wishes to be free so that she and her 9 Monsters might take revenge on the gods and those who cursed her.
Plot Hooks relating to the Understar:
-The PCs may need to seek her out for some esoteric bit of knowledge, or for help in answering some sort of riddle.
-The 9 Monsters (Of the Incomparable Pearls of Might) may be released, and the PCs must destroy them and the Understar to prevent her from breaking free and battling the gods.
-The PCs may be contacted by the gods and told that it is time for the Understar to be free. The PCs then must battle through the deep caverns to her Garden and let her go.
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? Responses (7)
Awesome story! I don't know how I would use it to its fullest potential, being so powerful and etc. but it's a great tale, with such a rich physical description and some many nuances.
Only two criticisms:
1) you say hair down to her ... and then dont say where in the physical description
2) I wonder what the tail looks like, its mentioned, but not described
Could use some cleaning up on the formatting side, but aside from that a staggeringly cool read. The names are pure Penguin, leading us off to ponder their meanings, my favorite being the Prince of the Endless Corridor. There is a very strong and resonate dichotomy between the Understar's calm demeanor, and the power of will that bound the nine monsters to the pearls and would unleash ruin upon the world.
The names, the setting, the tragedy and the Understar´s monologue... Love it all! Sure, it has some rough edges, but the basic idea itself is just staggering. This deserves to be seen! /David
I commented on this. I know I did.
Formatting as well as a general clean up is needed. Otherwise: AWESOME!!!
As per usual, CP needs some formatting and clean up.
Interesting character with some good visuals. Hard to reimpliment in a campaign without writing the campaign around the legend.
Excellent! I thought I had read all of CP's works Am happy that was not the case.