From The Jackals To The Shepherds 17: Jack of Diamonds

 
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By Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio streamed directly from their servers.

Mild CW for non-graphic character death

The Woods:

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The Map:

DaveTaylorBrandonFrankieCole

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Battlebards Tracks used:

Elven Dirge – Farewell – Score Music – Philippe Payet

Ancient Chamber – Eon City – Score Music – Mark Stothard

Transcription:

For a long time, we were at war with The Jackals. But now, we’ve driven them off, and we have this – a year of relative peace. In this moment, there is an opportunity to build something.

A week has passed.

Following the ceremony to memorialize Figueroa, we return to our dedication to explore the earthen tunnel, exposed by swollen roots and clotted dirt. The summer sun has ducked behind storm clouds, and the rays of warmth disappear in favor of a chill and humid wind.

Months have gone by since we last raised arms, and while the war against the Jackals is far from over the memories still haunt our minds. Trembling before the mouth of the cave, with ancient armaments polished and reflecting the grey sky above, we poise, ready to venture into the earth.

Concerned faces greet the brave explorers. When once we mocked their drills as having forgotten the terror of the Jackals the passing of Figueroa reminds us again of the two lost first in the camp. No mockeries now for them who stand at the mouth of the newly opened cave; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs of birds and the silent faces of those watching from the field. The memory of Gerrard and Jules who met their end at the hands, no, claws, of the Beast within the woods, echoes ringing like metal plates struck by grief thrown mallets ring in our ears of the scaled creature deep within the mines. Spurred by warnings our generator hums on to power the bright lights to ward off the Beast, and despite the soothing words of the calming girl who’s been with us a long time, we keep a wary eye on the river to watch for the Monster as yet unseen.

Together we steel ourselves and take our first steps into the dirt tunnels. The first boot steps into the darkness of the tunnel, as Micha tests the soft loam of the earth and smells the rank scent of the caves. In order to combat against the nausea, he packed flowers from his personal garden into a face mask over his mouth and nose.

As the mask passes under the cave opening, back at Micah’s home, his garden wilts. As one, every stalk in his planter goes slack, and the colorful blooms searching for a sun obscured by clouds go grey and slimy. Atop the Jewel of Gerrard, the lone flower closes its bud. Playing on the hill near the sealed doors of the mine, Yuen and Ezekiel see a quick flash of pearlescent blue light peek through the cracks in the barred doors.

From the distant woods, a smug growl rumbles in the trees, and at the river’s bank, helping with the morning’s washing, the wary girl who’s been with us a long time gives pause and her luned pupils sparkle in the water’s reflection.

Twelve of us enter the dirt cave. What candles may be held to speed them all through the lightless earth? Not in their hands, but in their eyes shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes we thought we would not need. After three hours, eight of us walk out. Of the missing four, Micah’s face is the most absent, the leader of the excursion having disappeared in the tunnels.

As the eight survivors gather, wounded and in need of healing, a voice from the back asks “What happened? Where is Micah? Where are Miley, Arah, and Eugenia?” The remaining eight look battered & confused, but some of them respond, with conflicting answers.

“We made it through the caves, into a blue room, they stayed there, they wouldn’t leave, they wouldn’t move.”

“The creature roared when we touched its nest, the scales cut into us like knives and it swallowed Micah in one gulp and, and we ran. I don’t know why the rest didn’t.”

“Micah was the bravest of us, but when he saw it there sleeping, he… he just laid down next to it, like he forgot we were there to attack.”

“I was in the back so I couldn’t see much, but something grabbed someone, maybe Miley? Just reached out from inside the dirt itself and pulled him through the walls”

As the storm clouds break, we light candles in mourning, and move to gather petals from the gardens of those lost. As we see Micah’s garden wilted and rotting, so too do we see the gardens of Old Miley, Arah, and Eugenia in similar stages of decay. The forest sends us omens, and the seeds that sprout do so for good or ill. Their flowers tell the tenderness of patient minds,
And at slow dusk we share a drawing-down of blinds.

And a week passes

Thank you for joining us for the sixteenth episode of From The Jackals To The Shepherds. If you like this show please give us a rating on iTunes, tell a friend, or share us on social media. As always the intro for the show was read by Dave Lapru, who is also our mapkeeper. You can find Dave on twitter at plantbird, and I’m at leviathan files. Additional voices this week were provided by Frankie Garza who is at Frankie Extra on Twitter and who runs the Actual Players of Color podcast, Cole who is At king cole miner and appears on the Blue Dawn podcast, Brandon Leon Gambetta who is at Dr Captain Kobold and who hosts the Stop Hack And ROll podcast, and the aforementioned Dave. Please consider visiting our website at Riverhouse Games dot com, or supporting this show and other Riverhouse Games work on Patreon at patreon dot com slash Riverhouse Games. Music for this episode was provided by Battlebards dot com. Until next week, I hope your week goes well.

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