Thursday, 23 July 2009

the veiled caves

Famed locally and further by those who know of such matters, the caves are known as a place of mystery. The oracles of the veiled caves are occasionally sought by seekers after truth who must face charlatans who haunt the upper caves. These charlatans are seldom discouraged by the true oracles and those who dwell in the deeper caves - such matters are beneath their perspective.

The entrance is decorated with veils and pieces of faded cloth nailed into the rock, from afar it looks like strange moss, the truth grows clear as you get closer. Petitioners come and go, some visiting a specific oracle while others seek deeper mysteries or adventure by going into the deeper caves. A few, with resolute faces, claim to visit the deepest cave of all.

Entering the caves
  • At the uppermost cave, there is a cleft in the ceiling in which a variety of birds have taken roost; ranging from doves and pigeons to vultures. The walls and floor of the cave are as expected particularly foul with birdlime and rotting birds. Acolytes of the nine oracles can be found procuring feathers or birds for their masters.
  • There are nine upper caves in which a different oracle (and their acolyte guards) can be found - none have real power but sooth-say with the best. One advises fairly based on what they're told by the petitioner, another will cast dice, demand exorbitant prices and gleefully lie. The rest range from well-intentioned predictions to drawing random lots.
  • Beyond the oracles are a number of veiled passages. These veils conceal those who live in myriad caves; denizens include savage yet wingless bird-men, three-mouthed beasts that snort fire, reclusive madmen tortured by visions, deceitful shapeshifters and ghosts of dead sorcerors capable of minor magics that torment visitors until they reach the depths.
In the depths
  • A twisting mass of caves hides a cult of degenerate sorcerors clad in bird masks of blue and yellow wood (and little else) who guard a chalice of lapis and topaz. To drink from it affords a vision of the thing most desired by the drinker then brings a madness where the drinker joins the sorcerors in protecting the chalice.
  • A bubbling pool surrounded by bluish rocks holds a dreadful secret. Those who bathe in the waters are bodily transformed, the longer spent in the pool, the more extreme the changes that take place. Anyone who spends a day in the pool may change their gender; anyone who spends three days may change their race.
  • One of the larger caves has a crevice in the roof. Ensconced within is a ball of pale light redolent of an eye that showers sparks on any passing under it. Usually harmless, for some the sparks burn. The reason why are unknown, yet it happens to wilfully-ordered individuals who can use the word personnel and mean it or anyone carrying a disease.
The Deepest Cave
  • The deepest cave is filled with white mists that obscure a strange thing - a living sculpture of floating spheres and strut-like limbs from which a thin piping emits. This eerie creature is not of this world and flow towards the visitors independent of terrain or gravity.
  • If the visitor resists or attacks it, it will seek to swallow them whole. If the visitor keeps still, they will see a vision of their choosing. If the visitor keeps walking steadily into the sculpture, they travel to a place and time of their choosing on a one-way trip.
  • Only the gods know if past actions can be changed and they are not inclined to tell though it is said by obscure sages that such travellers visit different worlds arranged like beads on a string and that the string is the creature in the deepest cave...
(inspired by the Oracle at Delphi, Ramsey Campbell's The Render of The Veils and the WFRP/40K demon Tzeentch)

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