Secrets of Pavis

The Naming Ceremony

Thrust unwilling and in some cases unclothed into a Lunar Heroquest, our heroes learn a little more about themselves and cause a major headache for Sor-Eel

Grom, Skye and Xaraya were dragged to the Seven Mothers Temple, where Cakor Deth arranged for them to be stripped naked, hosed down, and thrown into male and female cells, all with a great deal of charm. Grom was placed in a cell with a couple of Orlanthi rebels, while Skye and Xaraya were on their own. After a short period an elegant, older priestess of the Seven Mothers came to visit them in turn. She healed Grom’s head wound and, on seeing Xaraya’s scars from the vampire’s magic, she bathed the nomad princess, singing a healing song, causing her scars to vanish. When she had left, Grom’s cellmates marveled that he had attracted the attention of the Mother of Mercy, Berene Pavalava, priestess of Teelo Norri, darling of the poor of Pavis.

The next morning, Berene reappeared with a crate of boxes manipulated by two minions. They unpacked a series of ornate ceremonial masks, covered in rune markings and obviously of great magical power. She asked each of the characters to choose the one that appealed to them the most. Grom chose a hideous black mask adorned with his runes of Darkness and Death, that resembled a bat. Skye chose a copper mask depicting a beautiful green-skinned woman wearing a golden crown, that included her Movement rune and the Life rune also. Xaraya almost chose a mask resembling a horse, but remembered her Praxian ancestry and silver and copper mask of a beautiful brown-skinned goddess with green eyes and am enigmatic smile.

Grom’s cellmate Dimas told him that they had obviously been picked to be part of the Naming Ceremony that the Lunars were preparing the previous day. He opined that the ceremony was what gave them enough magic to keep the Red Moon in the sky. Grom thought long and hard about this.

In an hour or so, the heroes were dragged, still naked, out of their cells and through the streets, to the hoots, derision, and lewd remarks of Lunar soldiers, to the Air Temple, where the masks were fashioned about their heads. They were then given their “costumes.” In the case of Grom and Skye this consisted of little more than body paint – black in Grom’s case (although he also had a black cape of sorts) and green in Skye’s (all she had to allow her modesty were some palm fronds attached to her wrists, but at least she also wore an elaborate gilded necklace, bracelets and anklets). Xaraya’s costume was a little more elaborate, consisting of a Tashite dress with the midriff exposed.

They were then pushed into the main temple, where Krogar Wolfhelm stood, looking more than a little embarrassed. He called the heroes over to him and confessed that he had known that Blacktooth was looking to capture the characters to take part in the ceremony and that he and his allies had agreed that this would be a good thing for the Free Pavis faction, but that Xaraya was well-known for her antipathy to being caged. It was also essential, answering Xaraya’s objection, that the heroes must genuinely resist capture, to confirm their status as the best available candidates to play the “rebel gods” in the ceremony.

Krogar then explained that in the ceremony, the Emperor, that figure of hidebound unearned authority in Orlanthi legend, would attempt to assert his authority over the rebel gods by giving them names of subjugated Solar gods. However, if they were able to assert their own Orlanthi identity and resist the Emperor’s names, they would strengthen their own magic at the Lunars’ expense. Grom was clearly his own god, Humakt, god of death. Skye was Ernalda the Green Woman, the bringer of love and life, while Xaraya was Ernalda the Earth Queen, the mother of kings. By asserting these names they would also gain powers. Finally, in order to assist the heroes, Grom slipped the Arm-Ring of Duke Dorasar, part of the regalia of the Air Temple, on to Skye’s arm. He said that it contained a reserve of magic that the heroes could use in the ceremony.

The Lunars then intruded back into the temple and demanded that the pagan Storm worshipers begin their profane chants. Krogar led the prayers, and the heroes found themselves transported to the Other Side, the world of the gods.

They found themselves on a broad ledge surrounding an endless pit. Strange winged creatures swooped up and down, and Grom found that the cape enabled him to fly, although he chose not to take advantage. In fact, he was now a large black bat. Skye was the epitome of lust, and Xaraya the archetype of a regal queen. There were other denizens of the pit, who chose to talk to the hero-gods largely in riddles, while the only way out of the pit was a huge door of bronze valves guarded by a massive skeletal monster bearing a huge club and a whip.

One of the swooping creatures appeared to pay a particular interest in Grom. The Blue Bat spoke in gibberish until he flew around Grom and said, “Who are you? How did you survive? You are dead – I had you killed.” Grom immediately reached out and grabbed the Blue Bat by the leg, pointing out that he was not dead, he was death. He broke the blue bat’s leg and wing and sent him spinning into the endless pit.

Grom/Humakt was about to try a similar technique on the monster by the door when the monster opened the door, and the gods of the pit were escorted out into an elegant plaza (“most tranquil” was the judgment), that led to a grand ziggurat. Gods and goddesses milled around the plaza and the ziggurat, but all eyes were drawn to the magnificent spear-wielding god atop the steps, the Emperor. Next to the god clearly stood Tala Errio, in her priestess garb, at once the mortal priestess and also the Red Goddess. Some other notable gods were a Brown God wearing a crown kneeling at the feet of the Emperor, and a horrendous, monstrous war god all in red, clearly identifiable as Shargash the Destroyer, the Red Planet, Orlanth’s enemy.

At this point, the heroes found themselves overwhelmed by emotions. Grom felt an unconquerable urge to kill the Emperor. Skye felt overpowering lust and the need to inspire lust in others, with the goal of gaining a powerful mate. Xaraya felt the urge to gain a King as a lover and to mate with him. These urges were to change the face of history.

The Emperor began the ceremony, naming the four directions, but Skye started to dance. She danced her way to the foot of the ziggurat, working magic as she did so. She aimed her charms, which were considerable in the mortal world, but irresistible in the god world, at Shargash. Meanwhile Xaraya and Grom worked their ways round the side. Grom was looking for a way to charge up the ziggurat while Xaraya was looking to work her own charms on the Brown God.

Shargash and the Emperor’s other guardian gods were immediately distracted by Skye’s dance. Shargash dropped his club and spear and launched himself at Skye, who returned his “affections” with a passionate kiss. Tala Errio appeared to regard these developments with equanimity. Indeed, she advised the hero-gods to reject the Emperor’s attempts to name them.

The Emperor appeared perturbed, he thrust the god who had appeared before him to be named aside and called to Skye, “You! I name you The Goddess of Lust! Of Nakedness and Lewdness!” Skye rejected the attempt to name her and pushed Shargash to the ground, covering him. At this point Grom picked up the spear and advanced up the ziggurat. He used his powers of darkness and the distraction caused by Skye’s activities to sprint up the steps past the other guards. The Emperor turned to Grom, saying “You! I name you Mahaquata the Bat, Goddess of Death!” Grom responded, “I am indeed Death, I am your Death, and I am Humakt!” He thrust his spear through the Emperor’s mask with all his strength.

The heroquest immediately ended. The participants found themselves on the steps of the Pavis Temple. Grom stood, naked save for his cape, over the lifeless body of Sor-Eel the Short, governor of Pavis. He could feel Sor-Eel’s magic flood into his body. Skye held the full attention of none other than Hucipites, commander of the military forces of Pavis, and when he ripped his mask off, it was hard to tell which emotion affected him the most: shock, shame or disgust. Lying crippled on the ground, the Blue Bat was revealed to be Gim-Gim the Grim. The spear-wielding gods rushed to take on Grom, but Tala Errio stopped them. She announced that the Emperor had failed in his attempts and that the Red Goddess accepted this. She directed the Monster god, now revealed as the troll magician Javis Gan, to take the heroes away. He called the heroes to them and they obeyed, preferring this to the attentions of annoyed, spear wielding Lunars.

Javis Gan bound the heroes roughly with rope and hauled them away through the Temple gate into the Rubble. After a short while, he unbound them. He looked at them and said that he was supposed to take them to the Salt Mines and throw them in there, but he recognized them as Troll Friends, and had been told to watch out for them by Gretaslagg. Instead, he took them to the stonglands of Queen Gretaslagg, where after a while they were joined by Krogar and a band of Orlanthi including Jarang Bladesong. The priest removed their masks, ending the heroquest for them. He also brought human clothes for them, and Skye was able to take the first of several baths to scrub the memory of her ordeal away.

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