Prologue to Adventure is a collection of stories, ideas, and inspiration for role-players and GMs everywhere.

Effervescent of Skies Green

Effervescent of Skies Green

Effervescent perched atop a gargoyle, watching the rabble in the market place below conducting their endless dance of consumption and profit. For some reason, it found the movements fascinating, the currents and eddies in the mass of swirling bodies adjusting and moving around one another, a function of space, sound, and color. Here a surging stream was stopped as a hawker yelled out his pitch, a small crowd gathering and preventing all but a thin trickle of people past. There a Feral Glyph turned and leapt, trailing green flame, creating a small island in the flow of traffic. The stalls burst with bright colors and luscious odors, selling fruits, meat, tinctures, emotions, dreams — anything you could name was to be found somewhere at the Great Market.

“Attend me.”

Effervescent reluctantly brought its attention to bear on its employer. A thin, sickly-looking man with something like a rigid cock’s comb in place of hair, and two pale solid-yellow eyes stood in the center of the rooftop, clad in a suit of dusty brown tweed. In his left hand he carried a silver-tipped cane, grasping it a little below the hilt, a bowler hat perched atop it. He raised the cane above the skylight at his feet, a pyramid of clear glass (memory) looking down over a plush billiard room (childhood). Effervescent moved itself closer, looked down at the red baize (voice) of the billiard table (thought). It looked questioningly at the man in the suit.

“Yes,” the man spoke brusquely, “you are to go there. No complaints. And no side-trips this time; I will be watching.” Effervescent bobbed, dulling in hue to a deep green of regret. “You know the importance of what you are to find, and why we cannot wait idly for the perfect moment. Get in there, find it, and return quickly so we might be away.” Waving a hand, the man caused a pane of the glass pyramid to swing open, and gestured toward it.

Effervescent sank through the glass (memory). Flashes of other places, other times flickered across its vision. Lower it sank, into the billiard room (childhood). It brushed delicate fronds of sensation and notion across surfaces as it passed, like gentle fingertips through soft hair, a tingling sensation accompanied by feelings and emotions simultaneously alien and familiar. Passing through a door (foresight) into a long corridor (lost), Effervescent found itself drawn toward paintings (shame) hanging on the walls, each a blur of motion, too fast to see. Its eyes flickered left and right to follow the indistinct movements on each, but could not discern anything. A ripple flowed through the corridor, sending the paintings sliding out of sight; out of mind.

A gate of burnished bronze came to Effervescent’s attention. Through it was a school-house (forlorn) where an elderly woman (resolve) in a long black dress stood before a blackboard (snake), holding forth silently to several boys (pain) in starched white collars and black blazers (fight). Remembering the admonition, Effervescent moved on, despite its longing to reach inside.

The corridor turned, its walls turning from deep green (loss) to a warm burgundy (seek). Along its walls burned gas lamps (sequence) in opposed pairs every few feet. No paintings adorned the walls here, and underfoot lay only old warped floorboards (danger). At its far end, an immense distance hence, a door (expectation) hung open a crack, with a glimmer of light (hope) spilling through. Effervescent eased its way onward, tentatively, curiously, holding itself close.

Underfoot, the floor creaked with a sound like the growl of a tiger. The walls towered to insane heights, lamps grew teeth (fear), their flames burning green now. Effervescent hummed softly to itself, trying to remain calm. The air ahead grew thick with pressure, making it difficult to move onwards. It tightened itself, slid into a javelin form, long and sleek, always its senses reaching delicately ahead, questing for the far end of the corridor and the door (expectation) that waited there, tantalizingly ajar. A force, more powerful each second, was pushing, pushing back against Effervescent every inch of the way, and it took all of its energy to hold itself together. At last, it felt something ahead of it, gripped, and the pressure was gone.

Light (hope) surrounded Effervescent, moving in waves, flocking like birds in an evening sky. An upturned table (surprise) hung motionless in an empty void, words trailing from its surface, coalescing into shapes (ideas) that faded into nothing, or else bursting in showers of bright sparks (truth). This, then, was the center; the item it had been sent to retrieve was here, if Effervescent could find it. Scanning its surroundings, it saw the void was absolute, only the bursting words (truth) and the flocking motes of light (hope) shared this space.

Effervescent turned its attention to the table (surprise), touched it lightly, causing it to spin gently along its length, gradually coming upright. The flocking light (hope) took on a different pattern now, exploding and reforming, shifting in color through white to yellow to green to blue to white. The very air quivered. The surface of the table (surprise) was faintly etched, a pattern hiding amongst the knots (forgotten) and whorls (confused) of the wood grain (experience). Effervescent turned itself, matching rotation with the table (surprise) and casting a notion over the surface, feeling the slight indents of the carving (secret).

Secret. This was its goal, the object of the excursion. Notion and sense moved quickly across the carving (secret), light as a feather, gleaning, understanding. Effervescent reached within itself, brought forth a memory of silken steel, clear as glass, strong as diamond. This it placed on the carving (secret), pushing it hard against the table (surprise). The lights (hope) bounced, burst, fled and clustered all around, and Effervescent beheld a key of clear diamond (steel). Nothing now was etched into the table (surprise), the words flowed out onto the pages of a book (hidden), the light (hope) now burned in a grate (chains), low and red, flickering on the edge of warmth (comfort).

Effervescent rippled, gently. It passed through the corridors, past the gate beyond which the woman (resolve) still lectured the class (pain). Back to the billiard room (childhood), and up, up through glass (memory). Shape reasserted itself, breath and blood and sound returned.

“Success.” The man's words, as usual, were short, clipped of emotion. “Now show me.” Effervescent revealed the key. It was plainer now, made of copper with verdigris building in the ruts and channels of the words and shapes, sigils and signs adorning it with intricate patterns. “Yes, that will do nicely. Our principal will be pleased.” He held out a hand to receive the object. Waited. “Well?”

Effervescent shimmered, yellow to orange to yellow to green to blue. Somehow, it felt a kinship with this object. A reluctance to hand it over to the man. This was new; never before had it felt such things. Bending its attention toward the key, Effervescent perceived something. There was (would be) (had been) a connection there. It would come later (had come before), regardless this man's actions. Effervescent placed it into the outstretched palm and floated to the rooftop's edge, watching the churning currents of the people in the market place below. Somewhere, somehow, it smiled.

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