Episode 2

Episode 2- The Valley of the Chirotrani

Arro, Janet, and Tesla were knocked unconscious during the landing. Fortunately, a young woman and a strange batlike creature discovered them before they could be set upon by any native wildlife. Taking the strangers back to a primitive village built into the trees of the forest, the woman and the creature began to treat the three castaways, but their wounds seemed to be beyond their ability to aid with their archaic medicines and medical knowledge. Within a few hours, Janet and Tesla regained consciousness, and Janet was able to diagnose that aside from suffering injuries during the crash, it seems they had all begin exposed to severe radiation, which had poisoned them.

At this time, the young woman and the creature reappeared in the hovel where the three were being kept, and there was much confusion. The woman appeared to be clearly human, and she had no understanding of their language. The creature remained mostly silent, but his apparel and mannerisms suggested he was sentient, and not just a mere pet. Tesla activated her universal translator, and was able to communicate with them.

The woman’s name was Tuona, and the creature’s name was Roth. It seems that Arkova was inhabited by two sentient species- the human-like beings called the Two-Eyes, and the bat-winged, eight-eyed beings called the Chirotrani. The two species lived in complete segregation, Roth explained, citing the Chirotrani’s religious belief that the Two-Eyes were the advocates of the evil spirits, who wielded tools of iron and lightning to drive the Chirotrani out of their native nests and into the forests. Tuona, who’s name literally translated to simply “Two-Eyed”, was a foundling discovered in the forest several years ago. In an act of pity, she was taken in by the Elder of the village, and raised as one of his own. Tuona explained that she had never seen another two-eye up close before, and she was very curious as to why Arro, Tesla, and Janet would trespass on Chirotrani land.

Janet explained that they were travelers from a far off land, and that they were searching for other Two-Eyes who might have infiltrated the forest. Making exceptional use of the information she had been given (and being especially careful to hide any pertinent information that might violate the PTEA), Janet explained that they were pursuing several individuals who had intended to use human technology, or “the spirit’s craft”, as the Chirotrani had come to identify it, to bring great harm to those living in the forest, but they had been stopped when their vehicle was destroyed by them. She also explained that in doing so, they had been greatly poisoned, and could very well die if they did not receive proper treatment.

Tuona then shocked both of the alien women by laying her hands on them and mouthing a strange mantra, causing a surge of light and cool breeze to emanate from her. Janet and Tesla’s wounds were healed almost immediately, and although the radiation poison remained, they were nonetheless impressed. Tesla identified the phenomenon as an independently triggered alchemical reaction. It seemed that Tuona, and perhaps other Arkovans as well, had the ability to create self-sustained alchemical reactions of their own will, allowing them to perform supernatural feats of power as easily as a normal human could walk or breathe. Tuona explained that she had been taught these arts by the elder of the village. It seems that since she was a two-eye, she was not eligible to marry a warrior of the village, and as such she had no choice but to become a medicine woman for the tribe.

Arro managed to regain consciousness at this time, and Janet and Tesla carefully filled him in on the details. At this point, Arro asked Tuona if it would be possible for her to use her talents to heal them of their illness. Tuona shamefully stated she was not yet skilled enough, but Roth pointed out that the village elder would most certainly have the skill to do so. At Arro’s behest, Tuona and Roth departed to meet with the elder and request his aid.

At the elder’s hut, Tuona and Roth explained the situation, but they were not met with much in terms of enthusiasm or mercy. The elder explained that, aside for Tuona, no two-eye was permitted to live within the forest valley, and while they would not be so cruel as to kill the strangers while they lay wounded, they would impart no aid aside from food and water. Tuona reacted in anger, feeling betrayed, and cited the exceptions he had made for her in the past. He told Tuona that he did hope the strangers would survive, but he could not afford to anger the spirits yet again by showing mercy to those that would make ill use of their secrets. He told Tuona that if she were to find a way to save them, he would not protest, but he would offer no such aid- and no other member of the tribe would do so, either.

Tuona became angry, and stormed off into the forest, with Roth tagging along after her. Roth suggested they seek the aid of another with power to rival the elder- a local pariah living in a strange atelier in the forest. Roth referred to a strange being called only “the Cat God”, a strange creature who walked like a two-eye but behaved like a feline that was said to practice evil magic in the forest and prey on the lost souls of the Chirotrani. Tuona was initially wary, but she felt unable to abandon the strangers. Tuona and Roth traveled for several hours through the forest in search of the Cat God.

Finally, they came to his home, a strange treehouse built into a large oak-like tree with rainbow colored leaves. The Cat God met them with an unsettling but eerie curiosity, wondering why they would dare to approach him so casually. Tuona explained the situation, and implored his aid. He told them he had once read a potion that could be created that could remedy all illness and nullify all poisons, but he stated it would require some very specific ingredients. He also said that if he was to give them aid, he must be allowed passage into the village and be given access to the two-eyed strangers. Tuona and Roth reluctantly agreed. The Cat God then took them on a wild expedition into the heart of the forest, where they faced all sorts of dangers in the form of man-eating plants, monstrous spiders, and the mysterious “vanished beasts”, a form of legendary animal vilified by the Chirotrani for devouring the dead. After some time, they managed to locate all the rare herbs, stones, and fruits needed to concoct the potion, and hurried back to the strangers’ hovel.

Inside, the three off-worlders were shocked to see another humanoid being. Arro identified the Cat God as another human like Tuona, only bearing the severe mutations commonly noted in late generation Mendels. This raised quite a few questions, but at the moment they were placed aside while the Cat God performed his ritual. Combining the ingredients in a boiling cauldron, he finished the brew by powdering a strange black stone- a stone that was immediately recognized by the three aliens as a piece of orexisite! Once the brew was completed, Tuona administered it, and within a few hours, Janet could no longer detect any signs of radiation poisoning in any of them.

Arro and Janet began to plan a way out of the village. At this point, the Cat God interrupted, and asked them why they sought to leave. They explained, citing the same reasons given to Tuona, and with a purr, the god asked to be taken along with them. He told them he was not, in fact, a god, but a sorcerer from outside the valley who had left the two-eyed communities to practice his craft in peace. However, he was intrigued by the travelers, and wished to see more of their journey. Arro was reluctant to ally with a civilian, much less a civilian from another world, but after some time, Janet and Tesla softened his resolve and they agreed. The Cat God informed them his true name was Mauta, and that he would be able to serve as a guide for them, as he was quite familiar with the goings-on outside the valley.

Meanwhile, Tuona and Roth had climbed to the forest canopy. Tuona began to express feelings of loneliness, saying that for years she had wished to meet others like her, and now she would go back to being the only two-eye in a village of eight-eyes for the rest of her life. Roth asked her if she was thinking about leaving, and the girl hesitantly admitted she was very much thinking about it. Roth said that he felt he she should do as she felt was right, just like with helping the two-eyed strangers. He said that lately, he had come to question the tradition of his people, as well, and often wondered what it would be like to escape from their lives. He referred back to a time when they were both children, and he had broken through the canopy to see the sky- after which he was punished. He told Tuona that while the bright light was almost painful, he never felt more free than when he was in the light of the sun- and he was never born to be part of that world. He then stated that Tuona was meant to be part of that world, and he felt it was only natural that she should crave to be with those of her kind. The two of them then formulated a plan to follow the strangers as they left.

That night, Janet left the hovel to get a drink of water. She moved clandestinely through the village, but she was encountered by Mauta, who was lurking in the shadows. Mauta confronted Janet, telling her he knew that the three of them were not from this world. Janet became defensive, but Mauta assured her that their secret was safe with him. He said he did not entirely understand it, but he could see they were like no one from beyond the valley, and as such his curiosity was piqued. The two of them shared a drink, first of water, and then out of a flask of whiskey Janet had, before returning to bed.

The next morning, as Mauta, Janet, Arro, and Tesla crept out of the village, they were ambushed by several Chirotrani warriors and the elder of the village. They stated that the strangers were minions of the Cat God, who had stolen into their holy land in order to devour the souls of their departed dead. Mauta summoned up lightning and thunder to try and scare the Chirotrani away, but the elder dimissed it with a power of his own. Just then, Tuona and Roth emerged from the woods and attacked their own. The elder, in rage, cast out the two-eyed shaman and her friend, saying that they were traitors to the entire valley. He tells them that they will be cast out, and the intruders will be killed. Just then, Tuona calls forth a mighty forrse, a bear-like creature native to the woods, and revered for its strength and gentle nature. The beast drove the warriors back, and during the chaos, the off-worlders, Mauta, Tuona, and Roth all darted into the dark woods, running as fast as they could.

Before long, they were rejoined by the forrse, who Tuona briefly explained was her spirit guide, and her friend. The massive animal and the six escapees ran through the forest for much of the day, until they finally arrived at the foot of the mountains around sunset. Mauta told them he knew a quick path through them, and they scaled the heights within a few hours. Without looking back, they all left the valley. The three aliens were filled with awe as they stepped out into the untouched world of Arkova. Tuona and Roth were equally impressed, having never been out from beyond the forest’s protective canopy for more than a few moments.

Taking a moment to soak it all in, the six of them set off to see the world of Arkova- some of them to find the Mendel Race operatives that had shot them down, some of them to witness whatever intrigues these alien invaders had to offer, and some simply to live, unfettered, in a world outside the wood.

Episode 2

The Accretion Gospel photoneater