"The hand that rattles the Cage is the hand that rules the world..."
-- Cager proverb

Copyright 1999 by Ragboy, art by Rodrigo Helder (Kiso) and Karl Mikalsen (Ash)

KISO ( Prime: Toril / female bamboo spirit folk / mage 12 / Fated / LN )


[Howl Mekler's final story to Thera, the only surviving party member. Extracted from Blue-Green recorder stone (one-sided auditory only).]

"Can ye give me a sip of water? By the Lady this hurts..." [gulp] 'Thanks, blood. I can't call you a clueless sod anymore... Ye've saved my skin twice, but not much ye can do now. Nah, don't look at's burned clear through...Stop with yer blazin' prayer, already! I told ye, it don't work down here." [long silence with only a wet wheeze]

"Now, sit back and relax, I hafta tell ye the dark about Kiso. You've got to get this back to her, you got it, blood? Good. Okay, she comes from the prime world Toril. Nah, she's far from clueless. She's what they call a 'bamboo spirit', whatever the Abyss that means. The dark of that is like this: them spirits are tied to their sacred groves, in some manner, like a prime's silver cord in the Void, sort of. She derived all of her power, and even her life, from this one grove of bamboo in her home province. Bah, I don't know...can't even pronounce it...not important... She was a spellslinger there and was out doin' whatever spellslingers do on Toril, when she sensed that her grove was threatened...I don't remember, can ya pipe down for a minute? Fine.

Cage Rattlers:--
Llysadia, Marchious Chou.
Uncaged: Faces of Sigil:--
Kesto Brighteyes (p.16), Patch (p.78), Verden (p.108), Zadara (p.118).

"So, she gets some magic toy and actually extracts the essence of the grove...she called it some screed....ah, the 'heart of the spirit grove'....that was it. It ended up in a glass egg. She used some other toy to get to Sigil and tried to start a new life. The only problem with the bamboo spirits is they have to have their grove, see, so they can recharge...yeah, like when we sling back a few bubs. Well, Sigil ain't exactly the ideal locale for a grove of bamboo...with the ashy rain and all you might expect, but she had already set roots, so to speak, there, with a chain of successful apothecary and herb shops.

"She stumbled onto some incantations that might help her grow a grove there in Sigil, in Kesto's shop. So, she goes through whatever process the spellslingers go through and she grew the bloomin' thing right there in her garden courtyard at her Lady's Ward manse....I told you, she hit it big in Sigil. She didn't know how long it would last, but she knew she had bought herself more time...lots o' time, it turned out. She's been in the Cage for almost twenty years. Still appears as young as a lark, though.... About ten years ago she started having problems.... She 'discovered' a planar effect, an' even the Guvners can't explain it...

"I'm gettin' to it, I'm tellin' the Abyssal story here..." [coughs wetly]

"Her shops fell on hard times. Zadara, the titan bitch with her unlimited jink and jink-slaves, was undercutting her, or something. When that titan gets wind of a profit, she stops at nothing to eliminate the competition. Kiso started getting tight for jink, so she did everything she could think of...charge for spells, even went on a few adventures, but she couldn't keep enough jink around to meet all her taxes and various expenses. She was afraid of losing her house, 'cause that would mean losing the grove, unless she could extract the heart again, which she probably couldn't. The first time had almost killed her, and now she was on the Planes where nothing seems to work like its supposed to..." [violent cough then a long wheezing pause]. "I'm getting to it, hold your yeth hounds, missy...

"So, this...effect...happened. She woke up one day as broke as the last and knowing that she wouldn't see another jinx for a long time. The Heartless tax-collecting minions of Llysadia had been by the day before and she'd made promises to the effect that she would have their money the next day. They had made promises that they would have her jink or her house. So, she began to was sad...even for a hard-ass blood like me....There was a knock at the door and she got up slowly, made her way downstairs (all the servants had left months before). When she opened it, she realised that something was wrong...her street looked completely different...which is understandable, because now her house was in the Hive...and the nastiest part of it...I don't know blood, but some chant says one second her house was gone and the next it appeared in an empty lot in the Hive!

"Guvners've begun to speculate that the 'effect' is similar to the way the gate-towns slide... but no-one's ever seen it happen in the Cage. ... The practical conclusion of this effect was an extreme lowering of her tax rate to a near negligible level...I made up the back taxes for her, and she was saved...The Fated and the Merkhants were ecstatic... no...they lost some jink, but this incident lent credence to the power of jink itself. They think that the residence shifted to a poorer neighbourhood, because Kiso wasn't 'jinked' enough to stay in the Lady's Ward....

[Wheezing pause]

"And the oddest thing about the whole incident? ... Kiso walked out to her grove to recover from the ordeal, and who was there, rooted to the centre, but Ash....Ash?... He's this... Ugghh...

[Long fit of violent coughing that starts wet then becomes painfully hacking] "Blood, I think this is it... Oh, by the Lady, another drink, please? no...make it that Hiter rum... I need one last belt before I go... and Thera? When you get back to the Cage...take Kiso this locket...and tell her I'll miss her...Go now...before they come again..."

[Long pause. Loud gulping then a guttural scream]

( Prime: Oerth / male treant / HD 10 / LE )

Ash[From Flat Gray recorder stone, unknown tout selling dark to unknown spellslinger, one-sided auditory only.]

The spirit heart
Watcher of my secret

-- Kiso

"Yea, I bobbed it....not so fast, berk...jink first then the info...No, no, you don't get the book, you get me reading you the book, that's the deal....that's baku-sod!.. Read your contract, you clueless ether-brain.... 20 thousand jinx for the information in her journals. That's it, berk, the chant...take notes if you want...Thanks for the business... now...get comfortable..

...Okay...some screed about her clueless homeworld Toril...can't even pronounce half of this sod...'s some relevant stuff...

'Ash came to me under surprising circumstances, as my house had suddenly disappeared from its place in the Lady's Ward to a very nasty spot in the Warrens. I've got some people working on that. He was quite depressed to find himself literally rooted in my heart grove, which thankfully moved with me. We spoke briefly, though he seemed preoccupied and a bit perturbed at not being able to move. He was in the Outlands, protecting his newly adopted grove from the...slaads, as he calls them, and suddenly, he appeared here.. in Sigil. He thinks he's been seems...'

...some more mess about some spells she's researched regarding her grove and some other screed... That one looks pretty I don't think you'll be hearing that...

'...came from Oerth...'

...jeez another clueless... some War to end all Wars mess destroyed the forest that was in his keeping...oh I see, he was one of those walking tree..things... Anyhoo, she continues:

'He becomes very depressed when he speaks of the war, as he lost much there, his family, his forest and at the end, his world. Pushed through a portal by some roustabout adventurers who thought they were doing him a favour, he ended up on the Outlands, without a clue to where he was... '

...blah blah...

'he was confused at the new surroundings, as he did not speak the "paths of water" here...'

...what kind of sod is this?... okay already...

'"paths of water" here, but he heard the strange language and adapted to it, quite quickly for a tree spirit. He came upon a group of creatures he'd never seen before, hideous he says, not for their appearance, which was quite frog-like, though larger, but for their actions. They were spraying volatile liquid from their posteriors onto surrounding trees and lighting this liquid with torches. The forest was aflame, and he immediately moved to protect it....'

Blah blah, more screed about his adventures against the slaad...must be a powerful berk if he can take on the slaad...says here he got some help from the "land" whatever that means....Anyway, he gained the respect of the land and became one with it, or whatever....Hmmm, interesting...her list of magical toys and where she's hid them...nah, you have no use for that paid for the tree-man story, right?...Right. Okay... here we are...some years after the above...guess he's been rooted in Sigil for a while then..interesting... she goes on:

'Ash is dying, as I am, from the climate no doubt and the infernal nature of this place. I cannot undergo the process again, as I'm sure it would be the end of me. The heart of the spirit must remain here. Ash must also...he is severely weakened, and losing parts of his memory daily.... Today, however, in a lucid moment, he described an elven woman, Merden..Verden...something...a native, or resident of Sigil...she undergoes a rejuvenation process that keeps her alive. He is researching it through the network of razorvine. He's found a patch he can communicate with, and hopes to have the dark of it soon. (Listen to me, writing like a native...this place's influence has seeped into me as much as he)...'

Well, this cutter has the dark on that as well, and is tied into some thinking razorvine...that's worth twice what you paid for this, berk... nah...consider it a gift...this book will keep me in jink for years, in darks on what's going on in the Warrens alone...oh yea, plenty of action there...Lady's Warders should be a little scared though...yeah...yeah...last bit and then you get lost....hmm..okay...

'Ash has the process, and I'll get the supplies tonight. I'm short on jink at the moment, but I'm sure Howl will lend me some...he's quite a dear, but I can't tell him that I have no real feelings for him...Ash and I have exchanged water...he is, in a sense, a part of I am of him... '

That's more of the relations with plants...

'This process will keep us both alive to support the things to come. He is speaking with the razorvine now to find more darks that we can sell. A step down from shop proprietress, but I'm so happy I could burst anyway...Ash is my life now, and my grove. I'll do what needs to be done for the rest...with the money I can continue spell research, and eventually free him from his infernal roots....'

And...I guess it worked...

'...the process works. Ash is stronger and more lucid every day, and I feel my power returning. New insights fill me daily that I will apply to researching these spells. I feel some remorse for those that must sacrifice themselves, but they are on their death's bed, anyway, or near it. I have bloods scouting future prospects. There is that infernal rain again...berks wandering around crying for their mommies and emptying their stomachs in the Guvner stopped by to ask if we'd been affected by it... this is some bonus chant for ya. Maybe you can use this to recoup your little investment...

'He is trading the secret of the process back to the Patch, as he calls it...our razorvine ears, it would seem...but... Ash has done something....terrible. The Patch reported to us that the Guvner, Jaghn Vernim, has determined from where this infernal rain has come ...our process!...The still in which I distil the essences we need to live causes this..."Stygian rain" as Vernim coined. Today, Ash asked me to invite him in for discussions on the topic...then...its too terrible... My beloved...I fear for your soul...but we cannot stop the process, or it will be us in the dead book...'

That's it, berk, other than where she keeps a big pile of jink, and how to get past the traps she's laid...that's old news though...Oh look...she also has the dark on Marchious Chou...looks like she's going to put it on the street...that'll bring a pretty penny with all the chant on S.I.G.I.S. out there. You wouldn't be interested in that anyway..."

Cage Rattlers
Consult the Mimir Again