ZInvar is never going to be a popular tourist destination.
No, wait, I take that back. I can see an excellent opportunity for Extreme Weight Loss tours. I probably lost half a stone in the last three days. Granted, a lot of that was blood loss, and some of the rest was… well… let’s just say the Extreme Weight Loss tours would have to stock lots of spare pants.
But, let’s take things in order.
The official Zinvar Welcoming Committee popped up shortly after we disembarked. I had previously only seen things like the Welcoming Committee in my nightmares after a full belly of Jonnar’s Special Stew. The Murlogi identified the Welcoming Committee as demons. This only reinforces my suspicions about the Special Stew. We dispatched the Welcoming Committee with dispatch, spent the night on the beach, and moved into the city in the morning.
The buildings in Zinvar are surprisingly well-preserved, what with the city being abandoned for a hundred years. The streets are littered with old corpses. We did not have enough time for a thorough physical examination, but it looked like the inhabitants for the most part attacked each other. The city tore itself apart from the inside… the demons, zombies, and spider-bats only moved in later.
Zombies weren’t a problem — we ran into a pair and dropped a statue on them. I believe that the statue was of Randae Terisonen — the nose is fairly distinctive — but the weathering made it hard to obtain a definitive identification.
The spider-bats were more of a problem. That is, I am told they were a problem, since I never actually saw a spider-bat — just a flash of movement and the pavement rushing up towards my face. As a side note, my nose temporarily rivals Randae Terisonen’s in size.
The spider-bats (so I am told) almost did for us. The only ones left standing were Uinder and the two Murlogi. They dragged us into a building to fort up and recuperate, at which point Bartholomew went temporarily mad, shanked Emerald, and had to be restrained. (Yes, a boy Murlog attacked a girl Murlog. Yes, really. Zinvar’s that kind of place.)
Once we woke up — and thank your deity-of-choice for Uinder, because without the Danarchan we would all have been dead — we figured out that Bartholomew going mad was due to a spell/curse on the building. (Note to self — if I can get away with it on the way back, take another look at how that spell is anchored.) Bringing us into the building may have triggered it. Taking Bartholomew out of the building allowed him to recover from thinking we were all out to steal his stuff.
The building was also the first place we saw non-ancient corpses: apparently, a group of looters. Not clear whether something else killed them and dragged them in, or if they came in and fell prey to the curse.
The next two days were more of the same: sneaking around between ruined buildings, avoiding any sort of movement, backtracking, going around. Interestingly, the three buildings where we saw movement were all shops of some kind. More on what that may possibly mean later.
We were ambushed by feral humans, then again by demons; encountered evidence of a Lugrok looting party slaughtered by demons, and gave that area a wide berth; and eventually arrived at the hospital. So far there seems to be nothing inimical at the hospital, but the inscriptions are deeply weird.
In the emergency ward, scribbled in blood:
“It’s his face in the mirror
Shunned by his unhallowed blood
Leaves me never to love never to feel anything”
In the stairwell, written in chalk over and over:
“We had so much time to understand”
In the library, etched into the side of the card catalog:
“While a million creatures
See their soil turning to dust
- Telpar den Skeldrate, scholar of Linsdell University, Scribe to the Nameless One.
“Hrimata Eleison” means “money have mercy” in Enris-Sokal. At first I thought it meaningless. Upon reflection I find it to have two meanings, both disturbingly ironic.
First of all, wealth has no mercy, the two concepts are almost antithetical. Secondly, “Eleison” is most often used in the context of prayer: is the writing referring to worship of money?
Uinder and Kurimudal have located the research we need. It uses a plant cultivar that was — 100 years ago — only found in one place in Bodlea. Seems we’ll be making a stop on the way home. We’re hunkered down for the night before the trip back to shore. So I’m sitting here — warming my hands on the fire that the Murlog have built with priceless ancient manuscripts — and thinking.
The building with the spell was an inn — and an inn near the town entrance, which means it catered to wealthy clientele. (The hospital, the only other building we entered, did not have a spell on it.) The spell made Bartholomew attack us because he thought we coveted his wealth. We saw movement — someone watching us — from within three buildings. All three were shops, aka repositories of wealth. And then there is that line about “Hrimata Eleison”, and its dual meanings.
The tentative conclusion is that wealth, or more precisely greed and love of wealth, played some part in the downfall of Zinvar. Not quite certain what the implications are for us at present, except for one, which I will have to mention to the others in the morning. It may be a bad idea to feel greed in this place, and an even worse one to act on it.
I don’t think that extends to a greed for knowledge, though: unlike wealth, knowledge acquisition isn’t a zero-sum game. But this is all wild supposition anyway.