You are the Keeper of the Four Lakes up top your mountain and one of them has wandered free. How will you find it? What will you do if you don't?
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Word Count: 2164 Played: Nov 12, 2022
How did you become the one and only Keeper of the Lakes?
I was an apprentice to the last keeper, who was an apprentice before them and so on and so the story goes. When he died and I bound his body with soaken branches and sacred weights I laid him to rest in the bottom of his favorite lake and it accepted it into the depths and silt.
What do you remember about your past?
I was too young to remember before I joined the Master. I must have had parents but I never knew them. I grew up here, learning to attend to the lakes and the surrounding area.
Have you always lived on the Mountain?
Yes. I have never left.
When you became the keeper what tools did you inherit?
I was taught the knowledge of the branches, how to tame them and use them to guide and shepard the lakes. They are carved with an old bone knife engraved with symbols, over and over to retain its power.
What did you sacrifice to inherit this role and why are you so committed?
I must never leave this mountain. I must use my voice with the villagers, and I must never show them my face. I wear a large hat with a dark veil when they approach. I commit because I must, because there is no other, and there is nothing else for me.
Have you wandered through the forest? What wonders and terrors have you seen?
Yes, I know these forests well. I hunt, and forage supplies to keep myself alive and tend to the needs of the lakes to see that they do not wander.
I have seen the waterfall that flows in reverse to do the winds on the mountain. The air current is so strong it picks up the mists and guides them to the tops of the cliffs. No creature lives in the pools below. This waterfall is not connected to my lakes, so I have no need to care for it and will let nature take its course as it wills.
I have seen a creeping shadow, with a darkened aura filled with snow and ice and sorrow. Its cries can be heard for miles and even those in The Plank know not to hunt when it is near.
Have you visited plank?
I only visit when I am desperate for supplies. The villagers are kind and trade with me what I need but I barely visit more than twice a year.
It is a walled village, surrounded by long logs of felled trees with only two entrances inside. They keep guards posted outside and do not let outsiders inside without permits.
How do you feel about life on the mountain?
It is all I know. It is all I will ever know. I wonder sometimes about the stars when I look up at them. How must life be outside of this tiny little place? For such a mountain so large, it feels so small.
How does it feel when one of your Lakes is missing? Which Lake is it and why do you love it best?
I am afraid. I am angry. I do not know why it has happened. The sacred branches are all lined up correctly and the patterns of magic that keeps it in place has not faltered.
Something about the world has changed.
This was the Lake of Sorrows. The one that holds the bones of my Master, His Master, Her Master, Their Master, and all of those who ever were and will be.
This is the most restless of the Lakes. It will seek the bones of all those who have fallen, and will search the mountain over and over for all manner of ended things.
One of the tree Lakes pulls you into a foolish task.
Clue: How did the Lake go missing?
I spoke with one of the other Lakes, the lake of Joy.
It set me upon searching for more fruits for it. Then more music from my flute. Then a story, a joke, and another story. It was half a day before I realized that it simply wanted my attention.
It laughed at me, at my expense then spoke to me of the world. One of the old gods had died. A new god was born, the stars have all been rearranged, and the pattern of magic is old.
The old ways will not work anymore to contain them, and even now the Lake of Joy can roam free as it wills, but it has chosen not to.
I could not trap it as I once could--I would need to convince it to come back.
Total: 5, Setback
An enticing person offers you their help -- at a price.
Setback: A darkened sky
It was too late to look for the lake today. The night would soon be upon me and I had spent the day entertaining the Lake of Joy instead of searching.
I made preparations for a journey tomorrow, packed food, water, tools, weapons etc and as I prepared to turn in early there was a knock at my door.
I put on my veiled hat and opened it, hoping it would be a villager who had found the Lake. It has happened before, twice in the past 10 years.
But this time it wasn’t human. It had a long snake-like body, with scales that covered their mouth and face and hands with extra joints with sharp curved claws.
It gripped the sides of the doorframe, cracking slightly, and demanded entrance to my home.
I remained silent. It demanded again, this time offering information about my lake.
I still remained silent, and the door frame cracked further.
It demanded a third time, saying it would not kill or maim me and at last I relented and it slid past me and into my fireplace.
It writhed around in the flames and soot before slithering up on the table, leaving soot and ash everywhere.
It told me that something had found it, and taken it from its home. It was still in the mountains, but soon it would pass through the threshold and I would never see it again.
I had to leave that night instead of in the morning, with that creature still in my home. I doused the fire and attempted to shoo it outside but it would not budge.
I hadn’t the time to deal with it, so I left it, hoping nothing would be too broken by the time I returned.
Total: 7, Clue
A strange person invites you to take part in leisure.
Clue: What can you do to stop this?
All manner of strange things come to the mountains in the night. There was a trail this time of glowing footprints leading towards the Reverse Waterfall and so I followed, hoping for clues.
In the pool there was a strange young man, with glowing hands and feet. He looked up at me as I approached and greeted me as he knew my position on the mountain.
I sat down on my knees on the edge of the lake and signaled a greeting to him. He asked me what I was doing out so late at night, and I signed to him the departure of my lake.
He rubbed his chin and said he saw a creature made of solid ice roaming the wilderness. It was a creature he had never seen before and said it was large enough to hold the waters of the lake.
I signaled to him if there were any bones in the waters, and he shrugged and said he could not tell.
I thanked him for his time and left the waters. A creature so large and heavy would leave footprints.
Total: 7, Setback and Clue
A dangerous person or thing offers you a blessing.
Clue: What can you do to stop it?
Setback: Muddied Path
Down through the forest I searched, following all manner of small puddles, frost, and broken branches as I went. The water seeped into my shoes and I sludged forward despite the growing uncomfort of my wet socks.
The Lake-Thief was quicker than I had imagined, and I could see the sun peeking above the horizon as I wandered further down towards the base.
I heard my name. My real name, the one only the Master should have known. It was whispered through the trees and tickled my ears like a buzzing bee.
I turned around, all around, searing everywhere but I could not see what had spoken. I called again, and again, before giggling.
There was a voice in the wind and I could not respond. It laughed again and again, and grew louder until everything became still.
No creature chirped or buzzed, and the trees and leaves and waters had all grown still around me. I had thought it had taken my hearing until I heard it speak again.
“Follow,” it commanded and I heard a flute in the distance. I risked offending it if I did not obey so I did as it commanded until I reached a clearing.
In the center was a smooth stone table and a small paper box with one rough side.
“Take. Strike,” it commanded and I picked up the box. After examining it, I opened it by pushing on one side and inside of it were seven neatly carved sticks with bulbous ends.
“Strike,” the voice commanded and I threw one of them on the ground. Nothing.
The voice laughed and laughed. “Scrape, Scrape the rough,” it sneered.
I picked up the stick again and scraped the end along the rough side of the box. It lit into flames and I quickly dropped it on the ground.
“Melt it. Melt it. Melt it,” the voice laughed and faded away and I could hear the sounds of the forest once again.
Your friend from the Plank pulls you into a foolish task.
Clue: How will the lake leave the mountain?
A/N: Changing “friend” to someone who recognize you for plot reasons
It was early dawn when I reached the gates of The Plank. The guards stationed outside rushed up to me, both of them looking scared and out of breath. They spoke of a creature made of ice rampaging throughout the village and told me to stay away.
I shook my head and held up the box of sticks. They didn’t understand and would not let me enter. I sighed and tried to walk around them but they would not let me pass.
I tried to mime to them that I needed to enter but they were too concerned. They said I was too old, and that it was too dangerous but I kept shaking my head.
Finally I took out one of the sticks and struck it in front of them. They both jumped back in surprise but then relented and allowed me to pass after I had shown them one more time how the sticks worked.
They were amazed and I pray that I still have enough to melt the creature and save my lake.
The creature was standing by a well, its hand deep inside it and I could see it sucking the waters out and adding it to its own form. It grew bigger with each passing moment as the waters washed over it and froze.
I was lucky it was distracted as I lit the match underneath it. It howled as the flames grew and licked around the creature, sending cascades of water throughout the streets. But one flame wasn't enough and it was quickly doused in the waters and was extinguished.
I took all the sticks from the box, struck them as one and held it again to the creature. It screamed but could not fight against the magic flames that surrounded it and soon the whole town was awash in the lake waters.
It swallowed me whole and surged forward towards the mountains, carrying me along with it. I could feel something brushing against my legs and could smell the rot and death that was contained within the waters.
My eyes started to weep and we rushed faster and faster up to the mountains as I held my breath when my head was tossed beneath the waters.
My lake dumped me at the foot of my door (where I could still hear that creature making a mess) and settled back into its home, surrounded by the branches.
I was too wet and too tired to deal with the creature, so I stripped from my clothes, toweled myself dry and fell asleep into my soot covered sheets.