Melody’s Diary 08

Posted by davidludwig
Jun 29 2012

Dear Diary,

I, I’m not sure I like it at TASK… Maybe Nova and Terra can do the same job as Jack, but it just doesn’t feel right for me. Also it seems like maybe TASK knows way too much, across too broad a spectrum–like maybe they should be several separate organizations? They certainly seem to share information internally like a bunch of separate organizations.

I don’t know, it’s just all so confusing I guess. Oh, I’m also keeping a Journal for TASK now that I’m a Researcher–I think I’ll just give them the facts-only-version of what I tell you, without the analysis of myself and others. Maybe the stuff about myself is important to learning Song Magic, but I don’t really want to volunteer it.

The night before our first day Nova, Terra and I all had this terrible nightmare. We were in a field with lights like in Taragosh’s clearing, then this man on the horizon with one glowing red eye lifted a shepherd’s staff and summoned three of the gargoyles and a whole lot of gargites like we fought in Taragosh’s clearing… Like, way too many of them. I put all but one of the gargoyles to sleep with the Lost Lullaby, but even that one was too powerful for Nova and Terra to defeat, and then he did that thing where they destroy all their friends and bring them back fresh, and next this big vile red dragon came out of a portal in the sky and swooped down to eat us and we woke up!

I didn’t like that dream. But I especially don’t like that I think it was probably more of a vision or prophetic dream or something. I think the guy with the red eye is Alishtor’s Researcher, and now I’m worried he might have the same issues his Sage had.

In the hallway on our way to breakfast we met another new-recruit of TASK whose name turned out to be Tiffany–though she didn’t tell us that at the time. She’s got a headband and wild hair that sort of matches her personality. She was pretty insistent that we try the waffles at breakfast, but I really wasn’t hungry enough for waffles–those are sort of a once-a-week thing for me. If that.

The hogling chef in the kitchen is nice and reminds me a little of Cooky back at the Temple. I was a little surprised with how impressive the building looked to learn that their kitchen was fairly average. Terra had a big mouse the chef had caught in the strawberry jam, Nova had some chocolate bread that smelled wonderful, and the chef did his best to make a mixed berry parfait for me–though they didn’t have much in the way of fruit and the jam was sort of weird. Not weird like I got the same container as the mouse, just, not very normal for a parfait… Still, it was a good breakfast.

Orientation was in a large auditorium, and Dr. Zjavont was the one giving it! I guess he’s our Sage for now because he knows us best. So, Yay Science! He told us about how we’d have three days of tests to establish what our course in TASK would look like, and told us a lot about what the organization is–basically a reaction against any limited definition of humanity, or people-ness since they also help hoglings, scarecrows and even simians… I don’t like simians, I mean, I guess… Well, they’re pretty scary.

With the size of the auditorium I thought there might be a lot of new Researchers, but I guess it’s just Terra, Nova, Tiffany and I. Also, apparently Tiffany and Dr. Zjavont don’t get along–and not just because she doesn’t have patience for science. Then because I’m capable of Song Magic I guess I’m going to have special sessions with the Sage researching Song Magic.

Charlie went to find Gokasan to confer with him about the current situation–I really hope he has a good answer that will minimize any suffering caused by Alishtor’s actions. Jack is away on a mission to find Alishtor’s Researcher. I missed him a lot already, but after our dream I was actually really worried to imagine Jack looking for the Researcher by himself. Jack promised he wouldn’t die again, but Alishtor’s Researcher should actually be more dangerous than Alishtor was himself. I don’t know where that puts him in relation to the Man in the Red Robes, but after our dream I’m really worried about it.

Also, why doesn’t anyone even know what Alishtor’s Researcher looks like? I know TASK is a big organization, but given the kind of knowledge they deal with that just seems irresponsible to have such a loose grasp of who’s in the organization and who isn’t. It seems TASK is led by a Council of Five Sages, and apparently Barrister is the sixth Sage!

They’ve positioned themselves as Arbiters of knowledge, with a lot of checks and balances on that knowledge. I understand that the wrong information in the wrong hands is extremely dangerous–case in point being Alishtor. But he WAS a member of TASK. In fact he was a Sage! I feel like a more open system would work better. Who really has the right to decide what other people are or are not allowed to know anyway? I think that if everyone had access to all information, even the dangerous knowledge, then we could all keep each other in check as a community.

Would Alishtor have been as costly to stop if we’d all known what he knew from the start? I don’t think so.

Oh, and I guess Terra, Nova and I are specialized in exorcism, so our first mission is an excavation of ancient ruins with a mild ghost infestation. Nova wasn’t too happy about that, but I guess it is sort of what I joined TASK for… Kind of. Though I don’t think this is one of the breaches Alishtor made.

I know I have my doubts about my place in TASK, and I’m not sure Terra or Nova are particularly committed to it either. Tiffany on the other hand seems really excited, when she isn’t sleeping on her feet. I guess she escaped what she considered a dull farm life and is really excited about mastering special powers. I think it would be nice to live on a farm, getting to be outside and enjoy all the fresh air, and the company of the animals, and just living freely and simply. Nurturing life.

After the orientation Nova, Terra and I went to the gym to work out. On the way we met a Sage with brown hair and big glasses named Argentino! He’s the Song Magic Sage! He talked a lot about how amazing Song Magic is, and the sorts of amazing things I’ll be able to do with it if I continue on the current path. Raising the dead, reversing the degradation of age, regenerating lost limbs, all the sorts of things I heard the priests whisper about back at the Temple of the Consecrated Choir. I think he was talking about The Song of Life–only, I’m starting to get the feeling there’s another Song… One I don’t think I want to know.

The Hymn of Healing and Dynamic De Capo Aria are different from The Lost Lullaby in a way I can’t really explain. The priests and in particular Maester Forte taught me the Hymn of Healing, I just sort of made up the Lost Lullaby. There’s this thing in my chest that feels both tempting and wrong at the same time, and it feels more closely related to the Lost Lullaby than the Hymn of Healing or Dynamic De Capo Aria. It’s been there since sometime after our battle with Alishtor and the Man in the Red Robes.

Why did the Simians attack our temple?

Anyway, Argentino is capable of Song Magic himself! So I’m not the only one who can use it! I wonder if Maester Forte could use it too? Though if he could, why wouldn’t he ever demonstrate it to me? Argentino taught me some cool sub-vocalization techniques and showed me how to manipulate water with multi-tonal singing. He says it’s staggeringly amazing that I can use Song Magic, so I guess we’re still really rare even if I’m not the only one.
Terra doesn’t seem to like Argentino for some reason–but I’m really excited to meet someone else who can use Song Magic.

We learned a little more about our first mission. We’re apparently retrieving an ancient magic from the ruins used by an advanced civilization to launch projectiles from a metal barrel sort of like a crossbow. It was used to conquer much of the world, and a rather nasty tribe of lizard people in the area mean to reclaim the method when the ghostly activity subsides during the equinox. Since we’re not as superstitious as the lizard folk we’ll go in before the equinox and get the magic before them.

Then we heard that Barrister is currently away on a diplomatic mission to deal with some disgruntled royalty that TASK has to buy off with knowledge from time to time.

Our training in TASK began with a simple Will application. Dr. Zjavont shot us with cushioned cross-bow bolts, and we were supposed to manipulate reality with our Will to cause the bolt to miss. We opened with meditation, so I used the meditation hum I learned at the temple to help everyone get into it–Tiffany in particular seemed unfamiliar with meditation, or wound too tight to do it just then anyway.
It turns out we were learning in the Spiritual Practice Room! A whole room with an Energy restoring circle in the floor! The Spiritual Practice Room is now my favorite room in TASK! What would have been a draining meditation elsewhere was a breeze in the Spiritual Practice Room!

Then it was time to actually test the technique. I volunteered to go first, and was able to force the bolt off course with my Will… Only, the technique spends spiritual energy, and I do more than enough of that already. I don’t think this technique will be very helpful for me. I need ways to generate more Energy, not more ways to spend it! If only I could get some sort of reserve of additional energy or something!

Dr. Zjavont then proceeded to shoot Tiffany repeatedly, which didn’t seem very nice. She was really struggling with the technique, but I guess it was worth it because she was really excited when she finally got it.

Then it came time for Terra and Nova to try the technique–only their combat reflexes were so good it was really hard for Dr. Zjavont to hit them in general. By the time he fitted a scope to the crossbow and they were actively trying NOT to dodge he started shooting them like he’d been shooting Tiffany, though eventually they were able to cause the bolt to miss instead of dodging themselves… I’m not sure how useful a technique it is for them either though, because with their level of combat skill it doesn’t seem like the degree of spiritual influence the technique provides is very likely to be significant.

After that it was time for our testing to determine our areas of focus in TASK. I went first and did a bunch of vocal exercises just like back at the Temple. I guess I still need to work on volume… Though I’m not sure why? I can be heard just fine even over long distances. I hope they’re not hoping for me to sing so loud it hurts people…

Terra went next and they worked on escalating her already impressive jumping ability toward outright flight! That would be so amazing if Terra learned to fly! I’ve never seen a flying fox before! Nova worked on her super strength, lifting weights that even some of the people at TASK hadn’t realized were actually for use!

Then we finally got to see what Tiffany’s power was! She can generate pink lightning and crystalize it into a blade! Only, when she tries to split the blade–which looks possible–she has trouble controlling it and I guess the spare tends to go flying and stick in Dr. Zjavont’s arm. So that’s why they didn’t get along so well… What’re the odds on hitting his other arm like that? Especially after he taught us the technique to make things miss us?

Dr. Zjavont had other business to attend to after that, so he put on a bat mask and left. We got underway ourselves, with Rose providing transportation again. Tiffany and Rose seem to get along really well–I think they think sort of alike.

When we got to the town it was pretty heavily battle damaged. I guess they never bothered to name their town, though some of the youth refer to it as the Middle of Nowhere–even though it’s really close to the coast. The ruins are North East of the town past some awkward trees resembling a werewolf, unmentionables, and an Indian head respectively. The battle damage on the town is apparently a result of an ancestral feud that had been bred into the neighboring lizardfolk with no clear indicator of what started it.

Wait… Near the coast… Are we near the ocean?! Ooo! I have to go see it when we’re done! We’re close!

Apparently I reminded the old man who greeted us of his daughter and he was very friendly and helpful… Then I saw the blacksmith! He was fairly nondescript with brown hair and an eye-patch over the eye that glowed red on the figure in our dream! That seemed very suspicious to me, so I did some digging.

I guess his name is Jack, though he isn’t as cool as the real Jack. He’s lived in town for thirty-three years, which admittedly doesn’t sound like it would describe a Researcher for TASK. He pooped on the Indian Head Tree as a boy, and tried repeatedly to sleep with the old man’s daughter–and got caned just as many times. The old man says his daughter is loose, but not that loose… I’m not sure I’m as flattered about reminding him of her anymore. I’m not loose!

Then blacksmith Jack developed a fascination with staves–like the figure in our dream had! He married a hot red head, and has been the village weapon smith for ten years. Then the old man’s daughter showed up after he got off on a tangent about his wife and politely escorted him away.

I decided to spy on the blacksmith while Nova and Terra were buying weapons from him to see if I could learn anything. If he’s the figure from our dream I’d really like to figure that out before he hurts anyone. A slow witted and inept hogling who called everyone Larry entered the weapon shop to buy some gauntlets for punching out ‘Larry’. He returned home with the gauntlets in tow to apparently inflict injury on himself…

That’s when John arrived! He was an elegantly dressed but similarly nondescript brunette to blacksmith Jack, who also covered the eye that glowed red on the figure in our dream! If the figure had been closer I’d know what he looked like, but as is he really could be almost anyone!

John’s a traveler, which lines up more with being a Researcher for TASK… Are we allowed to talk about TASK? I wish I’d thought to ask that before we left. It would have made checking John out much easier if I could have just asked him if he was a member of TASK. Maybe I can? Secrets are so confusing. I’m not supposed to tell anyone I’m the Songstress, but if others are capable of Song Magic then I’m still allowed to use mine, right?

Anyway, John told us the armorer is a bit of an enchanter if we want nicer equipment–though I left my gold from Alishtor’s castle back at TASK. It’s so heavy! John doesn’t stop by the town often but seems well ingratiated with the community. He let us know not to take the cheapest deal at the Inn, but to favor the middle option. Also he was able to guess what Nova and I wanted to drink! I’d never even had the Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri Charlie recommended before! How did John know to about it? If it’s that obvious I’m less happy about the Pink Lotus Rose got me.

John shared that he was named for his uncle, who was a doctor. He also told us about the town’s feud with the lizards–and how a couple villagers recently disappeared to be experimented on! Apparently Psion and Golem came from this village! So then, Emperor Regal was one of the lizard folk! The lizard folk believe they were wronged, and have the philosophy to “Leave no trace of your enemies.” There has to be some way to make peace here, but it doesn’t sound easy.

Just as John was leaving, screaming lizard raiders with scythes attacked the town! I tried to talk them down, but they were very crude and both they and Terra and Nova seemed bristling for a fight… As a last ditch attempt at deescalation I used the Lost Lullaby to put all but one of them to sleep–not doing bad on my effectiveness there, but I’d like to get all of my targets one of these times. Terra rushed into battle with the last one, and John crushed the lizard man with some sort of air distorting force effect! So he’s got the power to possibly be a TASK Researcher too.

That didn’t really line up with my idea of disarming them and trying again to talk things out–but John says their scythes are forged and enchanted to kill in a single blow–and I would rather the lizard die than Terra. It’s so frustrating! They didn’t want to listen to me at all!

I guess a towns person named Jimmy tried begging the lizard folk to stop their hostilities, and they ate him! Is that what’s going to happen when I ask them? Blacksmith Jack is a survivor of the counter raid on the lizards after that. Even the old man says that we can’t make peace with the lizard folk… So I left the lizards to the townspeople… Blacksmith Jack slit their throats then burned the bodies. Apparently the funeral pyre is considered an honorable warrior’s death, and so there won’t be reprisals from the lizard folk for the loss of the raiding party.

I basically murdered those lizard men! They were completely helpless because of my song, and because I thought it was easier to let them die than work to find a solution that benefited everyone! I’m such a horrible person! And then we just went to the bar like it was nothing but mindless monsters we’d disposed of, or tormented ghosts we’d freed from suffering!

Turns out Tiffany is only 15, and she went to the bar to get drunk! I guess that’s her choice… But it seems like a really bad idea. I could tell it tasted just as bad to her as it did to me, and then after the third one she seemed really off balance, and then was finally sick… Why would anyone do that to themselves intentionally? I looks terrible! But, I guess it’s not really my business what other people do to themselves…

John opened up a little more, telling us how a friend of his died recently. His friend used to get an Old Fashioned to drink at this bar, and Beef Wellington is apparently John’s drink there–though it doesn’t look anything like the Beef Wellington the High Priest liked to eat. John says his friend died in construction, and he just wanted to make things right. I wanted to ask him if his friend was Alishtor, but construction does seem like a bit of a stretch… Though maybe from Alishtor’s perspective his business wasn’t really destruction–only I think he knew it was because he mostly talked about what he was taking out of the picture, hell and the gods.

Then John had to leave. I was too dispirited to really dig any further into my suspicions that he might be Alishtor’s Researcher… The way I failed those lizard men, just feels so inexcusable. I hate myself right now. It’s so strange, I’ve never, EVER, felt hate before… But this whole stupid feud and intolerance and violence… My heart is full of hate, and it’s making me sick! But I can’t afford to let it out, because if I were to actually direct the hate at someone or something else that’s the only thing I could imagine being worse than feeling it in the first place… So I hate myself.

In the past whenever I’ve felt bad I’ve been able to cheer myself up by singing. So I went to the town center and sang with all my heart. Most of the village came to listen, so I wove the Hymn of Healing in under the song to cure their hurts. I sang of faith, and hope and all the things that used to comfort me. Please, gods, don’t let me lose my way like Alishtor or the Man in the Red Robes.

The villagers figured out I was the one healing them, I was kind of hoping they’d chalk it up to the power of positive thinking and good attitude… It turns out that Jimmy was their pastor. Faith and spirituality have been low in the village since his death, and they don’t have a doctor so some of the injuries get pretty serious with no one to treat them.

Then an old woman started calling for me to kill the lizard folk with my songs. She wants a killing song… And the worst of it is, I think I… I think that… I can. Why are there songs that can hurt people? It just seems so wrong! Even the other townspeople wanted me to stay with them forever, and I can’t do that… I’ve got too many other responsibilities around the world, plus I’d hate to put them in greater danger like I apparently did the Temple of the Consecrated Choir.

I have to stop this feud with the lizard people. I’m going to go to the lizard village and find some way to stop this before we go… I wonder if we can send the relic back with Rose? We should probably take care of it first, and we can’t risk it falling into the lizard folks’ hands… But I don’t think Nova and Terra would let me go alone, and I’m so confused right now I don’t know if I’d want them to or not.

Then as the sun was setting Jack arrived! I feel so much better knowing Jack’s okay, but I’m also ashamed for him to see me like this, and embarrassed about what I said the last time I saw him. We did tell Jack about our dream though, and he told us it was a shamanic dream–which is very significant. I also gave him detailed descriptions of blacksmith Jack and John, and the reasons I had to suspect each of them of being the man in our dream and/or Alishtor’s Researcher.

I don’t know what’s going to happen, or what exactly I should be doing here, but I know I’ve got to try my hardest. I can’t give up!

 

-M

One Response

  1. davidludwig says:

    And now for session quotes!

    “I am confused and sad.” -Melody when the gargoyle fight started

    “Hahn-hahn! Sucker!” -Nova after being hit by the gargoyle’s meteor

    “…and that monsters are bad. For some reason.” -Dr. Zjavont

    “How awesome is powers?” -Tiffany

    “You met Jack? He’s hot.” -Tiffany

    “You’re a very suspicious fox-shifter.” -Argentino
    “I’m smart.” -Terra

    “I have a heart. I just don’t know how to express it eloquently.” -Argentino

    “I don’t want to toot my own horn; actually I want to toot yours.” -Argentino

    “You just want to shoot us…. Ohhh…” -Nova

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