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Zeitgeist Blue

Jungle Memories: Walking the Daydream

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<Hmm?> Doji's ears perk up at your story. As you continue he doesn't move from his seat. It is only when you end that he looks at Isa.


<You should go back to the gate or sleep!> He says, clapping his hands suddenly and the noise seems to startle her. <God knows you haven't had enough the past few days.>


<But---> Isa says, but he stands up before she can say anything else and ushers Isa out with a surprising vigor for someone his age. He bids her goodnight from the door and watches her leave. After a few seconds, he closes the door and slides a lock across it.


Only then does he move towards the table and sits down, the energy fading from him, and for a moment he looks a hundred years old. He steeples his fingers and thinks, eyes downcast, before he finally looks at you.


<There is no need to ask for forgiveness. The world is old and leaves behind many of its refuse hidden where few go. It seems to me you have stumbled across one.> He moves his head and shadow falls across his eyes. You see the wrinkles on his forehead, the drooping of skin. He is old and has seen many things. <I know of the temple you speak of. And that something lurks within.>


He pauses, then takes two mugs and pours what looks to be tea into them. He speaks as he pours. <Decades ago, when I was young and foolish and before the we had fully decided to plant our roots here, I had two friends who told me of this temple they had discovered, same as you. And that they planned to take whatever was inside to grow rich and give to their families. They began their trek and when weeks passed and I had not heard from them, I knew something was wrong.>


He passes you a mug, steaming with hot air. <I saw the temple, the lure that it brought to those plumbing its depths, and I turned away before I too could be caught.>


He looks down at his mug. Then he raises his eyes and they meet yours. <Are you seeking what I know? Stories of old myths? But I am not surprised that you think the beast assailing us is of the old world.> He smiles at you, scratching his neck. <Paruma, if I recall. A servant of the Beast, who stalks the jungles and reminds us that we are not the masters of nature we think we are. They were unshackled from their pens and given free reign when the Moon was devoured, a lunar eclipse, and so people would offer sacrifices to appease them at the same time sacrifices to bring back the Moon they so loved.>


<They were, like many things from the myths, part and parcel of Nature. Not unkind or giving, but just. Perhaps they mean for us to move, do you think? To leave them alone?>

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"<You have been honest with us, and I can only be honest with you>" said Snakebite, slowly and with a twing of shame. "<We are historians, archeaologists. We seek to understand and bring the history to the present. It is..well...perhaps we are tainted with pride and vanity...>" she said, head bowed. 


"<But we seek no harm. We have found that temple, and...we found...Paruma....>"


"<We do not understand fully what happened. But...I think they used human sacrifice to appease the beasts below this world. And we think one of those sacrifices went very wrong....>"


"<I do not know, but I think the only way the world can be saved from Paruma is by the ritual done correctly....>"

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<I see no wrong in your livelihood,> he says, leaning back on his chair as his hands rest on his stomach. <This is your way of preserving your people's past, or of other people's in this case, just as our oral traditions do in a similar way. If your pride and vanity has brought this upon us then at least you have the courage to attempt to fix it.>


<And while I appreciate you being so open to me about the faults you perceive in yourself but,> and his eyes dart to the door. <Your companion. Perhaps he won't be as admitting of his own.>


He shrugs his shoulders, shirt hanging loose on his wiry frame. <Maybe it is an old man's fears, to worry. Now, you were talking about human sacrifice? And that the Paruma is somehow connected to it?>


He pauses, thinking before he resumes. <I hope you are not implying we enact a human sacrifice.> He smiles tightly at you to show he was merely kidding. <But if you think you have a way, even if just an inkling, to stop this beast, then I will do what I can to help. My tribe will too, but their first priority is to the defence of our village.>


He sighs. <But I fear it will be futile if we continue like this.>

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I hope we don't have to sacrifice a human either. Especially not me...


Cassie was driven in many ways. But she wasn't so heroic that she would lay down her life. Risk her life, maybe. Sacrifice...well. That was another matter. She liked life. Quite a lot. 


"If we can help, we will. Although I really hope that doesn't mean human sacrifice. I...don't think it does. If we can just make sure the sacrifice that should have happened properly does happen properly, maybe that will work. But to get it right, we need herbs. Ingredients. Some kind of drug..." she offered. 


A thought struck her. 


She showed the old man her ring. 


"And if we can work out what this is...maybe that will help...."

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<Herbs, ingredients, drugs.> He runs his fingers through his hair as he repeats your requests. <We have those and I did promise you them, but they are in scarce supply since that Paruma came, injuring many of us.> He nods his head, determined. <Yes, you will have the ingredients.>


He reaches over and slides a wooden board to the side, opening a window, then points to a nearby house. <Our healer holds most of our ingredients but I have some myself here. They will have to be prepared overnight but you will have it in the morning.>


<How else can we ensure this ritual goes properly?> He asks you as the cool evening air streams in.


Then he shuts the window as you show him your ring and he regards it with curiosity. <I'm afraid I don't know what this is. From the images these would be depicting the old gods?> His finger reaches out and he taps the cold iron once. And at that instant the ring warms and you see a younger man instead of the one who has seen decades pass him by. He is dark of hair and of skin, with a bookish sort of look and he regards your ring with curiosity.


Then the young man retracts his finger and you see Doji, old and wrinkled if still robust. The ring is cold around your finger once more.


<Something from the temple?> He shales his head vigorously then inspects the finger that touched the ring, as if it were burned. <I'm just an old man with a head for stories. I don't know much about rings that grow hot to the touch.>


He looks up at you, brows raised in question. <Is it magic? Can it? But if it is from the temple then it must be cursed magic that you wear.>

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"<I think it is....>" replied Cassie. "<Cursed that is. For I cannot take it off....unless you know some special trick to do so. I am afraid that, even though I dig through much that is old and forgotten, I am not an occultist, shaman, or witch>" she explained. 


Although Witches have a somewhat mixed reputation!


"<I think it is from the temple...but I am not sure. I found it on my finger after a vision of the past. A dream, you could say. Hmmm....the old Gods....>" she pondered for a moment. It was true she was no occultist, but she had heard of strange an terrible ancient Gods, the Cult of the Yellow Sign, the Unspeakable one....


"<If you can spare the herbs we can make the sacrficial drug. Perhaps that will end the scourge of Paruma. I hope so. In the mean time, we would help the village as best we can. Perhaps even fight the creature off, should it show its teeth to us....>"


"<As for your wounded, we have some medical supplies. I am no doctor, but perhaps we can help a little>" she added. 

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<Then perhaps all we can do is hope and pray,> Doji says. <You were the ones who have experienced what the temple had to offer. So I will trust your judgement in this even if it seems like a last grasp for hope.>


He stands up, pushing his chair back, and leads you out to his door. He unlocks it and opens it for you, and leaning against the frame says to you, <It isn't so late that you would be waking people up, but tell Anne you come with my blessing. She can be testy with her patients.>


He nods to you once then shuts the door, drowning your surroundings in darkness. It isn't a bother for you though and you make your way towards the house Doji had last indicated, where the healer was. But before you could knock on the door, it opens and you see a short and stout woman glare at you from behind the door. You see that she too looks as if she has not slept very well for the past days. Her and clothes are ruffled, and from the inside of her house you can smell a sickly, sweet smell as if perfume was being cooked in a fire.


<Oh, it's the foreigner,> she practically snaps at you. <I'm busy. What do you want?>

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Cassie was not one for praying. A thousand hands praying cannot match one hand acting...


But that was her - and people needed rituals to survive. And hope. "<We must always keep hope, even if there is none>" she answered Doji. 


"<We came to help>" explained Cassie, pulling out her medical kit. "<If we can>" she explained. "<We aren't doctors, but if there are any sick or wounded, we will try and help>" she said. She wished now she spent a bit more time studying basical medical care - it was certainly handy in an expedition. She always ended up to distracted with history...


She did what she could, anyway, even if it was hardly of much help. The thought counted, although when it came to saving lives, it was the saving that counted more. 


"Seems the beast has followed us" she said to Neil whilst they tended. "We have a duty to this village. Protect them as best we can. We best check on the perimeter once we have finished up here. If time permits, even some old school traps and snares would not go amiss...."

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Healer Anne stares at you for a second before she relents. <Alright, fine.> She waves you inside the hut. <If Doji's one to send you then maybe you aren't so bad. Just don't mess up or you're gone faster than you could say 'Ouch'.>


Inside, there is a row of patients, all in different states of health and care. Some are covered in bandages all around their torso, red with blood. Others have wounds that seem to have mostly healed, and they lay down on their cots peacefully. You lend your hands to a pair of assistants and Anne goes back to her work. The assistants bandage wounds, rewrap bandages, apply salves, and help the injured drink water. They give their patients what seems to be the concoctions, which put their patients into a near sleep. Healer Anne meanwhile, when she isn't working on creating more potions, walks among the mats where the injured lie, treating the worst looking among them.


You don't know their medical practices, but some things are universal, and you are able to bandage some of the wounded. Anne looks over your shoulder a few times but leaves with nothing more than a huff.


An hour or so after you had begun, Neil enters the hut, receiving the same treatment you had from the healer. He begins work he same as you do until he is beside you, muttering something about not being able to sleep.


He grimaces as you lay out your plan. "Sounds like it would achieve nothing, honestly. Traps and snares..." He sighs. "This isn't a dear we're trapping, or even a bear. Walking around alone's going to "


"If it's following us then it seems like the best plan is to get the hell out of dodge." He points at your ring. "Only thing worth following for. Maybe it wants that, maybe not. I'm no expert on the supernatural. But, sure, I'll go with you if it'll get you peace of mind."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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