In our inaugural major Halaghi RP event, a team of the mountain dwellers are called upon to deliver medical aid to the children of Um-Halagh - and must make the journey by dirigible in a deadly storm...
Halagh Communal Caverns (High City of Halagh)
- A series of graduated tiers, like giant steps, have been carved to form a descending path from the great bowl that indents Halagh Peak, winding, twisting and narrowing before finally opening into a great cavernous belly within the mountain peak. Here, the denizens of Halagh's primary city dwell in communal caverns spoking off from a chamber so massive that it actually spawns its own weather.
- Thin wisps of what might be fog or cloud tendrils drift among the stalactites that densely populate the ceiling of the main cavern.
- Iron catwalks crisscross the chamber, intersecting with a great metal support spindle in the center of the communal caverns. The catwalks provide access both to the hive-like domiciles of the Halaghi and to the great chambers that house the steam generators and coal-powered turbines that provide life-supporting warmth to the underground city.
Hal'odan continues his idle wander of the communal caverns, seeming content just to breathe the air as he weaves his way through the various groups of his brethren gathered here.
As he clambers down the ladder of the spindle, Hal'azan grumbles to himself. "I'm a welder. I weld. I'm not a burok. I'm not a medik." He scowls, looking back up the ladder. "You hear me, father?! I *have* a job! I don't need this responsibility!"
"Quite a way to die...", Hal'iinyan continues to muse. "You know, I've heard falling from a dirigible isn't so bad of a way, as long as you're high enough."
"Oh, do stop your complaining, Azan," counters an older Halaghi, descending the ladder after his son. When he gets to the cold stone floor of the communal cavern, he turns toward Hal'azan and says, "Regardless of the job you hold, there are times when the good of others must come before the good of yourself. The buroks-in-answering have spoken. Your name was drawn. You must go."
Hal'alath looks around the cavern for a minute, before scratching his head and turning his attention back to Hal'iinyan. "I suppose not, as long as you were to keep your eyes shut during the fall, at least."
Hal'azan grimaces. "They could draw again." The older man is about to speak, but Hal'azan waves him off. "Keep it to yourself. I've known you long enough to know *exactly* what comes next. Well, fine. Have it your way. I'll do it. But you can clean your own leggings if something goes wrong. And it *will* go wrong. It always does."
Hal'udon blinks, looking towards the shouting. "Ey, wha's this commostraction about?", he says to no one in particular, scratching his ear.
The older Halaghi watches as his son, Hal'azan, stalks away from the Spindle. He raises a hand, opening his mouth as if to call after him, but then stops, scowls, and starts clambering back up the ladder.
Hal'odan stops for a moment to glance at the squabbling pair of Halaghi, silvery eyebrow raised in apparent curiosity as he ventures closer to Hal'azan, changing course.
Hal'azan is muttering to himself again as he walks through the caverns toward the maw that leads to the mountain peak. But then he notices the clump of other Halaghi lurking about. He stops, turns and furrows his brow, mustering what authority he can. "You there! All of you. By order of the buroks-in-answering, you're conscripted for aid duty."
"Well, of course if you held your eyes shut.", the old Healer remarks snidely, as if this were a given. "You don't want to be thinking about the approaching end. No. Shut eyes, and thinking of your mother's lichen stew. Definately the way to go, to be sure."
"Hmm!" Hal'udon is obviously intrigued, approaching Hal'azan. "Wha's this conscriputory duty?"
The facture Hal'odan, however, is less than happy as he suddenly halts his approach. With a hanging of his head, he shakes it slowly. "Didn't they just do this to me?" queries the overworked Halaghi with a sigh, then holds himself up as highly as he can as he moves further to Hal'azan. "What is the aid for?" he asks.
"Um-Halagh needs medical supplies," the welder grumbles. "A bunch of children are sick, and they're out of herbal treatments. So, we're packing up a dirigible with lichen curative and flying over." He frowns, then says, "You've got ten minutes to pack anything you need, say your goodbyes and meet me out on the peak." Hal'azan then turns and stomps off toward the cavern entrance, beyond which swirling snow can be seen.
Hal'udon scratches his beard. "Things I need? Lesse..." he looks down at his toolbelt, "Nope! All ready! Like my uncle Hal'alon used t' say, 'Preprigation is the greatest barrier to success.' Though I don't think that was the exact phrasing. Might have to do with why his goatnatcher backfired and he got launched straight off of Um-Halagh. Yessir, that was a marvelous spectacle to behold."
Hal'alath hmms thoughtfully and looks through the things he's carrying, then pulls his clothes a bit closer in preparation for the cold. He then mutters to himself. "Think that's everything I could need."
Hal'odan takes a look over himself, dressed quite warmly for the weather, and looks back to Hal'azan. "I am ready, then," he speaks, looking between Hal'alath and Hal'udon. "I mean, it's just a quick supply run. What could /possibly/ happen?" asks the Halaghi with a hearty chuckle, heading off at a steady pace after Hal'azan.
Halagh Peak Crest (High City of Halagh)
- Beneath a seemingly perpetual pall of thick gray clouds, the biting chill of high-altitude winds whip furious flurries of needle-like ice shards and snow through the shallow bowl that has been carved out of this, the highest peak in the Halagh Range.
- Aside from the accomplishment of climbing so high, there seems to be little else to recommend making the trip - let alone staying and making a home here. It is cold, desolate and utterly inhospitable to anyone who desires a comfortable environment. And yet: An entire civilization seems to have grown here, and on lower neighboring peaks - sometimes visible between gusting snowstorms.
- Great iron stacks jutting from the rim of the bowl emit plumes of gushing white steam and sooty black coal smoke, created in the caverns that grant shelter and some measure of survivability to the peak. Although it is always freezing cold outside, the city has an inexhaustible supply of ice to melt and turn into water, steam and other useful things - such as the distillation of lighter-than-air gasses that allow for the flight of sturdy steel-framed dirigibles that can be seen daring the wind-whipped gaps between the peaks.
- Ice is readily available along the mountaintop, although it requires time and a test of strength to carry it.
Hal'alath shivers a bit, and pulls his clothes tighter to ward off the cold, as he leaves the cavern.
Hal'odan settles his turb securely upon his head and wraps his hugger tightly about him as he endures the cold once more. He continues to march dutifully after Hal'azan.
Hal'azan is standing up at top of a dirigible platform, where the gondola of one of the lighter-than-aircraft is being packed with fur-wrapped fused crates. The wind howls, causing a swirling maelstrom of snowflakes as he looks down the steps toward the rest of his team. He shouts something, but can't be heard. Still, he makes a beckoning motion with a gloved hand.
Hal'udon pulls his furs up with the rest, walking towards the dirigible platform.
Hal'alath steadfastly walks towards the platform, struggling through the snow and wind.
As the others arrive, Hal'azan can finally be heard - mostly - over the shrieking wind: "Get aboard! It's going to be tight quarters! And the Spindle fall on *anyone* who bellyblows into my lap this time!"
"Wouldn't dream of it," utters Hal'odan quickly, moving swiftly through the crest, onto the platform, and boards the dirigible. He takes a secure place inside, glancing around the vehicle, but speaks no words.
Hal'alath silently climbs aboard the dirigible, and takes the first empty space he can find. As he settles in he looks around but continues to remain silent.
Hal'azan climbs last into the gondola, yanking the door shut and latching it in place. The persistent roar of the wind is muffled now, but although muffled it is now joined by the gentle thrumming of the engines that power the dirigible's propellers. He settles into a spot across from Hal'alath. A gust of wind buffets the craft, and Hal'azan nearly tumbles out of his seat. He grabs a goathide strap and buckles himself in.
"Speaking of falling Spindles," Hal'udon says, settling into the dirigible, "My cousin Hal'omosh and I were exploring about caverns one fine morning when he slipped on a loose rock. As a result, he sent a giant boulder of rock and ice through the caverns, crashing into one wall. The walls shook so hard the stalagtites fell from the ceiling and impale por 'moshy on the spot."
Hal'azan snerks sardonically. "Guess that'll teach him to go where he oughtn't."
Hal'odan stares a bit over at Hal'udon at his morbid tale, though wisely remains quiet on the matter as he makes sure he's settled in nicely and had something to grab on.
Hal'alath remains quiet, as he listens to Hal'udon's tale, and grabs tighter one to a strap, as another gust of wind hits the dirigible.
"On the contrary," Hal'udon says, matter-of-factly. "It taught him to never ask that goat for directions."
A Halaghi working on the platform outside - the tethernatcher - uses a device similar to a goatnatcher to reach up and manipulate the cable mooring the dirigible to the steel column that adds height to Halagh Peak. With a brutal bobbing and jerking caused by the wind, the craft dips its inflated cylinder and angles its windvanes to account for the gale force winds, and powers away from the peak.
Hal'azan leans over to peer out the window. The gondola structure, like so much else of utility in the cities of the Halaghi, is made of a pinkish rendered material and sealed in a clear resin. He rests his fingers on the rim of the window and stares down into the snow-swirled abyss between the peaks.
The dirigible, carrying crates loaded with lichen curatives bound for sickly children on Um-Halagh, has just departed Halagh Peak in a snowstorm.
Hal'odan remains settled firmly into place. He takes note of the snowstorm, then glances over to Hal'alath. "Think one of these things can handle up a storm?" casually asks the Halaghi to the other.
Hal'alath looks around at the gondola for a few seconds, before he turns to Hal'odan. "It looks sturdy enough, I think it'll do just fine." He pauses for a moment, before muttering under his breath. "Least I hope it can."
"You'd think kids'd be courteous enough to get the sniffles when it's not blustering," Hal'azan grunts.
Hal'athesh looks up from his crouching position near the crates, his brow furrowed thoughtfully. He glances from person to person as the conversation flows around him, but chooses to keep his own counsel.
Hal'udon glances around, shifting his weight in his seat. "These dirigibles are made with Halaghi ingeniuitude," he chuckles. "I'm sure the can handle a little wind."
The dirigible is caught up in a turbulent cross current of whirling wind, jerking left and right as the pilot struggles to compensate and bring the bucking craft back under control. As the craft arcs around toward the northeast, the lights of Um-Halagh are visible intermittently through the snowy chaos.
"Of cou-" Hal'odan is heavily interrupted as they experience a little 'turbulence'. "Course," finishes the Halaghi with a light grunt in dismay.
Hal'azan widens his eyes and gasps as the dirigible jerks around, struggling against the wind. He starts to gag and then his cheeks puff out a little as he puts a hand up to cover his mouth, squinting.
Hal'alath makes a hasty grab for a nearby strap as the turbulance hits. His face starts to turn very green and holds his other hand over his mouth.
Hal'udon covers his mouth with both hands, and with nothing to grab onto, is knocked onto his side. "Hurrrmph!"
Hal'athesh rocks forward slightly as the turbulence strikes, grabbing onto one of the nearby crates with his left hand. His low centre of gravity helps him keep his balance amidst the rocking of the craft. He glances towards the others and grins broadly at their distress, then covers his mouth with his right hand, perhaps knowing that his turn may soon come.
Another harsh crosswind tears along the surface of the dirigible's inflated cylinder. At the same time, another horrific gust is whipping from a second direction. And, as if by chance, a third whirling wind demon whips toward the other two. And where these tormenting winds intersect is a brace connecting the peakward engine that juts out just beneath the balloon and forward of the gondola. The force of the rending wind is enough to tear the engine free, and it is blown back toward the gondola. The engine and its whirling propeller *almost* hits Hal'alath's side of the gondola. But he gets lucky, sort of. With the engine and propeller gone, the unbalanced dirigible suddenly spins out of control and the propeller zips past into the maelstrom.
Hal'odan is barely even bothered by the shaking, only the actual movement that forces him to hold onto something sturdily. As all the others who appear near exhalation of their lunch, he chuckles gently to himself as he gazes a concerned eye toward the pilot.
Hal'alath looks out the window in horror, as he sees the engine hurtling towards him. Despite the apparent uselessness of it, he instinctively tries to duck out of the way, only to be slammed around the gondola as the dirigible begins to spin out of control.
Overwhelmed by the wind, the best the pilot can do is fight to point the dirigible in the vague direction of Um-Halagh's mountainside. He calls back over his shoulder, "Going down! Might be a little ro -" The swirling snow clears enough to show a very close, very real, very solid snow-streaked rock face and a broad snow-drifted ledge. The pilot panics, trying desperately to steer hard gapward - a maneuver that might have worked with all engines. But, in this case, it just flips the craft and aims the gondola peakward as the wind slams the dirigible into the peak. There's a lot of smashing, jostling and cracking of rended material. Shouts of the passengers. And then the crash and exhalation of air from the ruptured cylinder. Then: Bitter cold, snow-swirled chaos, and the consuming darkness of unconsciousness.
Return to Season 1 (2003)