PrinceCon 32 : Falling Water
Director: Tim DeCapio
Dates: March 16-18, 2007
The Histories Say
In the early days of the RiverWorld, the warlord Kantar, “Sword of Mavors,” and the crusader Mylos, “Light of Heaven,” arose and strove to unite the land. As they won battle after battle, many petty kingdoms fell to Kantar’s sword and listened to the preaching of Mylos, and all seemed well… but all too soon the flesh mortifies, and once-strong friendships are broken. The blood of Mylos was spilled by Kantar’s sons, and the Light of Heaven went out. In the dark times that followed, foul creatures roamed the world, the armament of Kantar’s empire turned to dust, the sky split, and the earth nearly tore asunder.
Out of the chaos arose the mighty Galpot, paladin of Gaia. Using smithing techniques learned from Daglir himself, Galpot’s small band set out armed with steel blades that would not rust and started to put the world to rights. In a final act of healing, Gaia caused the World River to flow and named it for the hero who had served her so well. Kantar expired with the dawn of the new times, leaving no issue, but as a reminder to all people of his fall from grace, the land circumscribed by the River Galpot has remained blasted and barren.
To further honor Galpot, his followers formed the Order which exists to this day.
The Order of Galpot
The Order of Galpot is the most ancient organization of its kind in the RiverWorld. Some follow rumors of their exploits with awe, some with scandal, and some call it a puffed-up Adventurer’s Club, but none can deny the power of members of the Order as individuals and collectively.
Many children dream of becoming a Knight in the Order, but the way is hard. They only accept the most promising candidates for a requisite five years of training, and a fair number wash out before reaching the Test. Not every trainee survives the Test. Those that do are welcomed into the Order as Adepts and are squired to a Knight who furthers the Adept’s training until the Adept is ready to be knighted.
Once a generation, the Order of Galpot holds a ceremony honoring their ancient hero at the Fountain of Gaia. Over the years, it has become a gala event, attracting the rich, powerful, and curious from all around RiverWorld. The Order’s Masters of the Keys lead the ceremony, with as many Knights and Adepts in attendance as possible.
32 days ago
A cheer went up as I saw another tired and dirty trainee pass through the portcullis of the Sanctuary. A half-dozen of our fellows surrounded the towering Eponai with smiles, food, and open arms. She glared good-naturedly at the Fey offering her a sugar cube and quickly accepted a tankard of ale from a nearby Hobbit, then swung him onto her back, neighed loudly and laughed off the “scratches” she’d received during the Test–scratches that would have felled a lesser warrior.
A few more hours and our taskmaster Selwin, Knight of the Order, would come to collect those of us who had passed, and we would finally attain our childhood dream — to be initiated into the Order of Galpot! Moreover, our generation of trainees would be initiated during the Fountain Ceremony a fortnight hence, with dignitaries from around RiverWorld in attendance! It was a difficult scene to imagine, moreso as the Horse playfully tossed the Hobbit into an open barrel of beer. Membership in no other Guild carried quite the same prestige, and our hard training under Selwin had shown us why. He was proud of us (perhaps too proud for the Masters’ tastes) and we vowed that all of us would pass the Test.
I glanced at the big board that listed all our names, with checkmarks next to those who had made it — six names left — then noticed the Aru clerics milling about the big board and anxiously awaiting the one of those six who was of their religion. Arus, thanks to generous application of their own sanctuary and swiftness prayers, tended to do rather well on the Test, and this late hour did not bode well for his safety. As I rose to go to them and offer my support, another cheer — no, a shout — went up. A human figure staggered from the woods and collapsed not 50 feet from the portcullis of the Sanctuary. Protocol forbid interference in the Test. The figure didn’t stir. Screw protocol.
I’m no healer, but could tell upon reaching the body that he had suffered potentially fatal burns. “Medic!” I cried, turning to see the Aru clerics right behind me, rushing to the aid of their compatriot. At my shout, one of his eyes opened and he managed to croak “demons” before passing out again. Ears up, claws unsheathed, I scanned the nearby forest. Nothing. We were safe… for now.
Once inside, his condition stabilized, the prodigal Aru told us that he had discovered two trainees, two day’s “normal” march from the Sanctuary, hung upside down by their feet and gagged. They were still alive, but before he could cut them down, he was attacked by a horned immolating creature — a fire demon. Forced to run, he was Lanced with fire a couple of times before finally shaking it. While catching his breath, he was set upon by another pair of demons and was nearly killed before escaping to the Sanctuary.
This news quickly dampened the holiday mood of the evening, and we quickly outfitted ourselves with the available weapons and armor. Even in the relative seclusion of our training, during the last year we had heard of the appearance of terrible creatures in isolated incidents around the RiverWorld… then these incidents multiplied in number. We had expected to deal with this threat once initiated into the Order, but it seemed we might have some small role to play now. In any case, Knight Selwin would be here soon, and surely he would know what to do.
Only, as we know now, he didn’t come. Instead, a few hours later our steel weapons and armor turned to dust, the ground shook, the rising moon splintered, and the sky burned during what we now call the Shattering.
The first scouting parties have returned, and our fears are confirmed. The World is broken, the fragments held together only by the power of the River Galpot, and there are hints that the water level is dropping. It is still the surest form of transport, and our best chance to save those innocents we can. Many dozens of refugees, seeking shelter from the strange changes to our World in the arms of the Order of Galpot, already fill the Sanctuary and begin to spill into the small courtyard. We can expect hundreds (thousands?!) more to come, with only us to guide them. Our masters are gone; no one has seen or heard from a Knight of Galpot in the aftermath of this catastrophe, and we are left to suppose that they were lost while trying to prevent this disaster… and that they failed.
Our assets? A thorough search of the Sanctuary revealed a pantry large enough to see us through a six-month siege, antiquated bronze armaments that appear immune to the Rust, and a number of keys that appear identical to those worn by the Masters.
What can we hope to accomplish? Well, to start, we must complete our survey of the shattered world and locate and rescue as many survivors as possible. We must discover what — or who — caused this devastation and seek to undo, gods willing, the worst of its effects. Finally, if possible, we must find our masters.
Writings of the Order of Galpot
Know ye that the crude flesh of the body exists in a delicate state; each part provides essential magical sources, transported along invisible ley lines by the love of Aru, to the proper functioning of the whole. To ensure the flow of these essences, the lines have been bound together and the confluences Sealed by the skill of Daglir and protected against tampering by the power of Mavors. The terrible Fyre that ruled during the latter stages of Kantar’s reign is not extinguished, but still smolders within us all, and we are merely shielded from it by Galpot with the grace of Gaia.
The greatest gift from our gods is the luminous spirit within each of us that yearns to return to their bosom upon the failure of our flesh. It is this gift that we must treasure above all others and never surrender to the Fyre, lest we be forever slaves to its burning whims.
– from the Mysteries of the Order of Galpot