Black Cat Crossing

1629, Sea Season, Disorder Week


Lord Raven is in his Sanctuary, where he exists, even if he does not really live. Berra has gone away. Session SA3.13.


There’s a soft sound in the room, disturbing Lord Raven’s peace. Perhaps near the door. Someone has very quietly entered into his sanctuary.

The Wyter cannot stir. He can only observe, and decide on action. He cannot even act.

In his altar room, he can feel intruders, but he lacks real power, unless he should elect to spend his own substance with magic.

The footsteps are silent, but it is as he feels them. Four feet. Small. Too small, really.

Lord Raven cannot sigh. No put-upon noise could cover this matter anyhow. He considers magic. It is his responsibility to protect his Temple, even against small matters. He has the lesser magic he learned as a man. However, casting it is tricky. He… is slow, and clumsy. He fails twice.

The lean black shadow surveys the space. Cautious steps take him around the room. He brushes his body against the sparse furnishings, leaving his scent in the process. This is his. He has decided.

The Wyter manages the spell. Demoralising the enemy is a valid method. It may be a temple cat. He is unsure if they have those and no force on the lozenge will make him ask Lord Eril. So, no pain. Only fear.

He would admit if asked that he has a soft spot for cats.

If asked correctly, of course.

By someone worthy of his time.

With a scrambling of claws on stone and a twitch of his tail, the cat flees, back the way he came. Oddly enough, he does not close the door behind him.

Lord Raven seethes quietly. How else could he?

Still, there is an action to be taken. He reaches out for the Great Wyter, to have the community spirit order one of his warriors here. Darl or Amling or Natrys. Darl. He is never fazed.

It takes a long time, but the warrior answers the summons. He comes bearing a single rush light. He stops at the open door and glances around to see if there is anyone else present. Once he’s certain there isn’t, his brow furrows more, but he steps into the sanctuary and approaches the altar where the sword sits.

Raven has no need to compose himself while waiting to be approached. However, perhaps there is something to be said for being calm in general, as he cannot speak to Darl, even within the Temple. It will pass. It happens. It is not a problem.

The warrior checks the altar – the sword is in its place. He contemplates it silently. He was summoned, he knows that. But he cannot tell what for. He shrugs and kneels in front of the sword, far enough back that once he is in position, he can prostrate himself properly, arms outstretched and face resting on the cold stone.

Lord Raven, in his Temple, manages to contact someone actively listening, at least.

My sanctum has been insufficiently proofed against intruders.

He does not say ‘stray cats’. There is no dignity in it.

A brief flash of alarm runs through the warrior, a tensing of muscles which are then forced to relax. Darl sends a wordless query to the Wyter.1GM tried a POW x 5 with an estimated POW of 16. Failed. She doesn’t think he can articulate his question clearly.

The door, Darl.

His thoughts are pointed. They need to be – this man is only a lay member of his cult. Even that demand is effort.

Darl seems to understand. His reply is still wordless, but he attempts to send reassurances. He follows this with a brief prayer and then rises to his feet. He checks the sanctuary over again and then leaves, closing the door very carefully.

Raven waits.

To be frank, it’s a bit boring.2Explanation for Main GM: Varanis decided Raven needed a cat.

Hours pass in silence.

There’s a soft sound on the other side of the closed door.

Lord Raven does not deign to respond to it.

It starts slowly, cautiously. A strange scraping sort of noise, rhythmic and persistent.

Raven continues to ignore it. Someone will be along soon.

The pawing increases in intensity.

He is of course bound to his duty. Calling Darl back would be awkward. He never really liked cats anyhow, except for one. He calls for Amling.

The door shifts, just a crack, but it is enough. The sleek black animal slips through. He’s emitting a soft rumble of satisfaction.

The cat begins to prowl the sanctuary again.

Raven considers magic, for long enough to decide he has to. This is His Place. He must protect it.3Passed Loyalty Temple, failed POW for luck.

Unfortunately the cat is currently too close to the altar for him to see it, and it takes some time to gather himself to simply know where it is.

There is a skittering sound, barely audible. The cat goes completely still, barring a single twitch of his tail. His gaze is fixed on a small crack in the mortar of the west wall.

And there it is. Lord Raven casts the… fails to cast the spell. His Priest was not enough to form him fully, and his spirit is weak.

Amling steps through the door. The cat jumps, then gives the human an irritated glare, before dashing through his legs and the door. It’s sudden enough that the warrior almost stumbles. He mutters a curse, then checks the room for trouble, using the light from the hall outside. Not finding anything else, he closes the door, plunging the sanctuary into darkness. He does not need light to approach the altar and prostrate himself. He waits, listening for the spirit who had him summoned from his sleep.

After a moment, Raven has to admit that was objectively amusing.

Keep the cat out of my room, he instructs. He has to. It is his Temple.

Amling is briefly puzzled, but he sends back a wave of acquiesce and reassurance. It will be done. He leaves and closes the door carefully again. But he goes no further than the door to the sanctuary. He takes up position to guard it through what remains of the night. Other solutions will come after Yelmrise.

Raven settles to let time pass.

It is probably still an hour until dawn when the skittering sound returns.

That at least is a valid target for a spell that will let him release some of his irritation. Lord Raven concentrates on sensing the thing in his sanctum.

It is still working its way through the mortar. The hole is not yet large enough.

If he can see it, he can cast…

Scrabble, scratch

That is not a problem. Raven has the patience of Darkness.

Finally, there is a tiny nose with tiny, twitching whiskers.

… And a Disruption spell.

Lord Raven has been waiting for that for some time.

The creature dies instantly. In the wall.

Lord Raven has no problem with that. He has presumably never had mice die nearby.

At least it splattered and will dry nicely.

In the morning, it gets noisy in the hall outside the sanctuary. There is clattering and banging and finally Amling returns to say that a bar has been added to the outside of the door too. When there is no one visiting, the door can be barred from the outside and nothing lacking opposable thumbs will be able to enter.

He does not notice the tiny blood splatter or the barest metallic traces in the air.

Commendably eager. How am I to leave should I need to? Lord Raven leaves the question hanging delicately.

“You can summon us, my Lord?” the warrior offers.

Think again.

Lord Raven does not miss his Wyter Priest’s company, of course, but she is a good intermediary between him and those who are held back by respect.

“You could always lock the door from within, if you’d prefer,” the man offers. “We are currently too few to mount guards against a cat each night.”4A pass on Insight despite the problem of being in a sword.

Insight: Amling is tired and knows he made the wrong choice. He’s a bit flustered and thus defensive. I know exactly what he’s thinking and will record it here for posterity: Shit. Wrong choice. But it’s not like he leaves on his own! Argh. By Humakt, it’s just a cat. What does Lord Raven expect from him? Where is Berra anyway? She should be dealing with this stuff. But… he’d better find a way to make it right if he wants to stay in the Wyter’s graces.

Berra is absent, and even speaking is an effort. Lord Raven considers. Forming as a man, even for a moment, would use the very power that holds him together. lock it tonight he says. tomorrow, fit a latch

Time for one more sentence among the exhaustion of concentration. Death must not be locked away when needed. Amling needs a reason. Lord Raven needs a rest. Berra is not dead, merely in danger, elsewhere. Perhaps tomorrow he will have a body.

“As you wish, Lord Raven.” The man rises from the floor and vanishes, presumably seeking his bedroll for a few hours.

In the night, the pawing at the door returns, but it holds fast against the cat. There is an indignant meow.

Fortunately, this is not his problem.

It is, after all, a corridor shared by many, required by few.

The following day sees the bar replaced by a latch and when Amling returns, he is well-rested and bears an offering of wine. He dusts the sanctuary, no one outside the small cult is permitted to do so, and is puzzled by the blood by the one corner. He shrugs and cleans it away. Perhaps Berra will return soon.

Two days later, walking out for a quick snack, Lord Raven almost trips over a cat.

It blinks at him, unperturbed.

Raven carefully pulls the door shut, and walks towards the kitchen.

When he returns, the black shadow remains, nose tucked under tail in a tidy puddle of cat.

“I’m not going back in,” he tells it. “I just dissolve.” He has brought food back with him. Dried fruit. Nothing cats like.

The ears twitch.

Something catches the cat’s attention. Green eyes open, peering into the shadows where wall meets floor.

Lord Raven looks, and crouches down silently. “Don’t go after it,” he says in a sad voice. “There will be enemies about and I… have bad luck with cats. Do not adopt me, or you will be ash, not charcoal.”

The cat stares up at him, losing interest in whatever prey had caught its attention. His stare is long and unblinking.

“I am a harbinger, little one.” The dark entity is fading from view. “And my nature is a thing you are not.” While the stare is fading, it is also unblinking.

With a disdainful flick of its ears, the cat returns to its nap. Vanishing spirits are of no concern.

  • 1
    GM tried a POW x 5 with an estimated POW of 16. Failed. She doesn’t think he can articulate his question clearly.
  • 2
    Explanation for Main GM: Varanis decided Raven needed a cat.
  • 3
    Passed Loyalty Temple, failed POW for luck.
  • 4
    A pass on Insight despite the problem of being in a sword.