Still Sky

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[edit] The Village of Still Sky

  • Size: Small (approx. 100 people)
  • Primary Industry: Foraging – the surrounding lands are quite fertile, with plenty of food to be had in the bamboo forest in the form of shoots, bird eggs and boar, as well as from the surrounding plains in the form of deer, berries and natural orchards.
    • The majority of the people in the settlement are hunters or gatherers, and at the end of every day (or hunt, for multiple day excursions) bring their food to the Plentiful Pavilion, where the Consecrated Arrow takes that food for the village, effectively purchasing the food for the village. The Consecrated Arrow keeps accurate tally of all the food an individual brings in; this credit can be used to take home food, or to purchase services/goods from craftsmen in town.
    • Trading also happens between the gathering class and the crafting class as well, although many families consist of one hunter or gatherer wed to a craftsperson.
  • Power Structure: Autocratic — The city is governed by the best hunter in the settlement, who rules for five years. This individual, called the Consecrated Arrow, is the one who has provided the most food to the village. The Consecrated Arrow’s job is to keep careful tallies of those providers in the village, so that he can appoint the next Consecrated Arrow when his term is up.
    • (In actuality, the name Consecrated Arrow is a memory of the Solar that once used the manse nearby as his hunting lodge. The people here are the descendents of the ones who once served him there.)
  • Religion: Stalking Tread, a local god of hunting and his bride, Sweetest Vine, a goddess of foraging, act as the primary deities. The local areas are also home to a number of dogs of the unbroken earth (Core 297) who permit hunting and foraging, but ruthlessly slay anyone who dares to alter their lands.

[edit] The Dancing Grove

Wood Demesne ••••

The Dancing Grove seems more vibrant than the rest of the bamboo forest in which it sits. The bamboo here grows thick and closely together, and while the leaves are thicker, woodier and more lush, their edges also seem slightly crystallized and golden, so that as the wind blows through them they chime slightly, like light wind chimes. There are also skeletons here and there, showing signs of mutation.

Occasionally winds blow through the grove, setting the entire thing to chiming musically, and in a strange sort of rhythm.

In the center of the Dancing Grove is the remains of an old manse, done all in fine mahogany, with bits of green jade and orichalcum here and there, none of it really big enough to do anything decent with.

  • Essence Token: The Dancing Grove’s token is not a physical thing — it is a dance. Those gathering the token must make a Wits + Lore roll, dif 2 while watching the swaying of the bamboo in the wind and listening to the chimes ring to learn the dance. He retains this dance in his heart and in his bones, though he may teach it to another – at which point he himself forgets the dance. In four days, the dance has faded from his understanding of it. Botching the roll causes the character to hurt himself in the attempt to learn it, reducing his Dexterity by one dot for a day as a Crippling effect.
  • Mutation: Over the course of four years, creatures in the Demesne develop the following mutations (8 positive points, 4 negative): Disturbing Voice (all their voices or other sounds seem to ring like chimes), Mood Swings (Manic, rolling Temperance –2 on full moon to do anything but engage in wild, strange dancing), Delusions (Dancing prevents the dancing grove from dying).
    • Developed positive mutations include Enhanced Hearing (+2 to hearing-based Awareness rolls), Leaves (develop leaves in hair, +1 to Survival rolls, +1B/+1L), Skin Color (to a light green like new bamboo shoots), Wood Adaptation (resistance to plant toxins, reduce Athletics diff by 1 for climbing trees, double tree climbing speed, reduce diff by 1 of Surviv/Resistance rolls to find food or endure hunger), Chameleon (+1 to appropriate Survival rolls, +2 to Stealth rolls), Impossible Joints (+2 to Stealth and Athletics rolls, plus becoming super flexible).

[edit] The Tree Singers

In the bamboo dwell a colony of tree singers that have been warped by the demesne. They appear as two foot lemurs with long, sinuous tails some six feet long, and green fur with a sheen of opalescence that actually makes them look like they’re made of some sort of pale green jade, and gold eyes, teeth and nails the color of the leaf-edges.

[edit] The Grovefolk

On nights of the full moon, those residents of Still Sky who are affect by the Demesne feel a pull to come to the Dancing Grove. As dusk approaches, the small group of them set out with lanterns to reach the grove early in the evening.

When the moon is directly overhead, winds begin to blow through the grove, creating a strange melody, and the tree-singers somewhere in the distance begin to sing a frightening, discordant song. Each of the grovefolk grasps a large shoot of bamboo and begin to hum themselves, shaking the bamboo at strangely appropriate times. The whole effect is a tremendously eerie sort of many-part harmony of chimes, the weird voices of the tree-singers and bamboo clacking together percussively.

And then, the people begin to dance. Their dances are wild and insane, twirling around larger shoots of bamboo, leaping over one another using the bamboo as vaults and hurling themselves bodily from one stand of bamboo to the other. The music from the tree-singers grows far more frantic, almost as though there were some sort of hunting vibe to the whole thing.

As this goes on, the peoples’ frantic dancing takes its toll. They become exhausted, and injure themselves on broken pieces of bamboo. They turn ankles in the uneven soft ground, but all continue dancing.

After a few hours, however, something horrible happens: red panda beastmen attack the dancers. Though the beastmen eat only bamboo, any dancer that possesses all the mutations count as bamboo, and the beastmen find them irresistibly tasty.

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