Sunday, October 9, 2016

Nobilis: Haruspexy

Yesterday was Nobilis! Violence was done to an unblemished goat.

Last time, we ended with the Familia jumping through a portal into a new Chancel. This time, we begin with them hanging off the edge of the world. This Chancel was flat, thin, and round with a hole in the center. Out in the middle of the void was a couch, on which an Asian man was sleeping, a butterfly flitting around his head.

The Nobles found themselves in a deep, dark, wood, and quickly discovered a grizzled man with a huge, fuck-off beard gnawing on a raw salmon. After some initial speculation that he might be the Power of Bears, we learned that his name was Hugh, and he was the Power of Self-Reliance. He wasn't so much interested in helping us save the world ("World that can't save itself ain't worth saving," he grumbled beardily), but was able to point us toward someone who could help us - Tim, the Power of Kites.

(Tommy recognized Hugh as Hugh Glass, but only because he's seen The Revenant.)

Realizing that they needed to get out to a particular star (which was actually a kite), Woolaroo floated up, kite-like, and then extended string that the others could all cling to. She deposited them on a beach, with hundreds of people flying kites. A surfer dude directed them to the end of the beach, where Tim, a young boy, was flying a blue diamond kite.

Tim was much more receptive to the idea of saving the world (the fact that there would be no more kites just wrecked him), and he agreed to turn his impressive reconnaissance ability to the task. He looked through all the kites, and said that the Shard of Rejuvenation had gone through the next domain over, that of Lu Bon. The Familia thanked him and charged ahead, emerging in a land of stone houses and people doing crafts - making wheels, pottery, and so forth.

Asking around, the Familia found Lu Bon, the Power of Obsolete Crafts. He said that the silk yield had been abnormally high, and the Familia tracked the Shard of Rejuvenation that way - the Excrucian carrying it had moved through the forest toward a land dotted with altars, the domain of Corban, the Power of Sacrifice. This, in a bit of foreshadowing, made Isabel very nervous. People sacrifice goats, after all.

The Familia trudged there, sacrificing time and energy to arrive, and saw Corban slicing the throats of a host of folks and shoving them down a cliff. The Powers spoke with him, and while he was disturbed by the idea of the Shard of Rejuvenation being removed, he wasn't interested (or able?) to help without a sacrifice.

Each of the Familia gave something up: the Countess gave up the White Whale, the great beast she'd been keeping alive because she hated it so. It died, and sank to the bottom of the ocean, happy to be free. Tommy gave up Carlos Gallardo, an actor that he'd Anchored to (Gallardo was the star of El Mariachi, if you're interested). Gallardo died on the set of a new movie, falling out a window doing a stunt, and never got his big break or comeback. Woolaroo gave up Mary Margaret, an old woman she'd Anchored herself to, and Mary Margaret died of a stroke, a blanket falling over her face. Isabel, after some complaining (she wasn't cool with sacrificing something with will and a soul, since she felt it wasn't her place to do), gave up her Bond to Provence. The bees that pollinate the lavender died off, and she ceded the land to the Power of Pesticides.

Drinking in these sacrifices, Corban tracked down the Shard, and found it...in the butterfly ("I fucking knew it," said Tommy. "First thing you see, you know it's gonna be relevant later in the act"). The man and the butterfly, Corban explained, were the Imperator in this Chancel - the man dreaming he is a butterfly, the butterfly dreaming he's a man.

The Familia talked about potential solutions, but part of the problem was that they weren't sure of the scope of the problem - was the Imperator dead, possessed, sleeping, what? And where was the Shard? Tommy pointed out that his Gift of Cogent Exposition would help, but he wasn't going to just pull out a phone and turned on the radio; that wouldn't make any sense at all. Woolaroo suggested haruspexy (that is, reading the entrails) and Corban zeroed in on Isabel (she was "unblemished", after all). Isabel wasn't really on board with having her entrails read; Tommy offered, but Corban said that he wasn't really a suitable sacrifice (blemished, I guess). Isabel agreed, but grudgingly.

Corban opened her up and pulled out her liver, and inside was a scroll of paper that revealed that the Imperator had, in fact, been destroyed. Isabel pulled herself together (she's a Power, it'll take more than a ripped-out liver to hurt her), while Woolaroo projected herself across the abyss. As she did, the thought occurred - was she the threads, or the space between them? What was truth but a framework of lies? She put all this aside and smothered the man and butterfly, and returned to the Familia.

This, of course, left Corban, Tim, Hugh, and Lu Bon without an Imperator, so the Familia performed the Rite of Rescue, adopting them into their Chancel. They reappeared in Erehwon Island, and Isabel, still hurt that we'd used her for haruspexy, stomped off with her daughter.

We still have to find the Shard, however.