Heart-Catcher Gardens

From Sunless Skies Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is a stub. You can help Sunless Skies Wiki by expanding it.

Heart-Catcher Gardens
Pan ambience.png
Heart-Catcher Gardens (Sidebar)
Located in Eleutheria
Ports Heart-Catcher Gardens
Shops none

Heart-Catcher Gardens is a platform in Eleutheria. It occupies the very middle of the central circle, close to Pan.

The Hour in Pan[edit | edit source]

This storylet will sometimes automatically show when docking in Heart-Catcher Gardens.
See Pan icon.png The Hour in Pan for possible interactions.

Heart-Catcher Gardens[edit | edit source]

A grizzled coterie of gardeners care for this unusual orchard. The plants that grow here are Heart-Catchers, whose fruit looks - and speaks - like human heads.


The Nurseries
Greenfingeredwarhorse.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299286


The Nurseries[edit | edit source]

A series of finely-manicured indigo lawns cover this corner of Pan. Peculiar plants grow in the beds: tangled as rose-bushes, and budding with fruit. The fruit is lumpen: perfectly formed facial features are growing on it. This one has a frantic, staring eye. This one is growing an ear. This one keens pitiably through tiny, trembling lips. Silent gardeners, whose broad-brimmed hats are hung with veils to hide their faces, tend devotedly to the plants.


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Speak to a Green-Fingered Old Warhorse
He removes his hat. The face beneath is scarred and bleak. A soldier's face.
Sanctify the corpse of the Chorister Saint
You'll need to locate where the Chorister Saint was lain to rest. The Heart-Catchers will be displeased by your excavations.
A place for slumber and sorrow to meet
Careful exploration reveals a concealed grove, far from the main gardens of the Heart-Catchers. The plants here are particularly plump.

Leering heads ooze from the vines, dripping ichor onto the grass. You get to work with a shovel, going quickly to avoid discovery.

The roots of the plants form a knot deep in the ground. You dig into them, gouging your way through, until your spade hits metal.

Clasped within the boil of vines is the brass carapace of the Chorister Saint. All of its eyes are dull; it is a desiccated husk, drunk dry.
Consecrate the Chorister Saint
The Scarlet Condiottere has instructed you.
You hack away, removing the rest of the vines. The Heart-Catchers will no doubt plant more, but you can grant the Chorister a brief reprieve. Its body is too great for you to move it elsewhere.

You daub its lips with some of the vial of souls, and anoint its armour as it would have done when it accompanied the suns to war.

There is movement nearby. Time to be away. You have done what you can for the Chorister.
    • Devilshell icon.png Requiesat in Pace = 10 [You have anointed one of Hell's Saints with soul-chrysm]

    • Devilshell icon.png Sanctify the Corpse of the Chorister Saint = 10 [[COMPLETE]You have anointed the ruin of the Chorister Saint]

    • Fire icon.png Curdled = 1 [The devils of Carillon claim to be experts in the assessment and improvement of the soul. They would describe yours as sickly, cloying and unappetisingly crawling. ]

Reinter the corpse
Leave the Chorister Saint be. You won't desecrate the Heart-Catchers' grove.
You use the shovel to go over the soil, showering the saint's corpse with clod after clod of rich earth. You are careful to avoid harming the roots of the plants, and the faces of the saints smile on you as you pat over the last of the ground.
Win the acceptance of the Heart-Catchers
Tell the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse you have disposed of the three unwanted deaths.

Game note: You will be granted access to the Mimiricon.

    • Pan icon.png A Friend to the Heart-Catchers = 10 [You have been given three deaths to hide in different ways as you explore the sky. Return to the Heart-Catchers when the deed is done]

    • Terror icon.png Death in a Jar ≥ 4 [[COMPLETE]You have disposed of all three deaths]

Admirers
You hand over the empty box, and begin to tell him where you disposed of the deaths it contained. He raises his hand. "No, it's best no one knows. Especially me. There's already too much I'd rather forget." He leads you along the thorny hedge that encloses the inner gardens. A single archway – made from the vines and tangles of a wary, fully-grown Heart-Catcher – allows entry.

As you step through, the heads among leaves bow. "Death-burier!" one cries, in tones of deep respect.

"Fate-breaker!" calls another.

"Friend," whispers the third.

Beyond are the deeper glades, where mature Heart-Catchers hold their counsels.
Whisper Eleutherian Mysteries to the Heart-Catchers
The young plants require more than meat and bonemeal. Their minds, too, must be nourished.

Game note: Trade Eleutherian Mysteries for an Otherworldly Artefact.

The Binary
The Green-Fingered Old Warhorse leads you to a frail-looking Heart-Catcher whose leaves are so thin as to be translucent. You find a pale fruit that bears a delicate ear, and whisper your mysteries to it. It listens, closely. As thanks, the Old Warhorse gives you an obtuse artefact. "We find them while turning the soil," he says. Its function is inscrutable, but the designs engraved on it show the Eleutherian sky, occupied by two suns.
Acquire a death
The Heart-Catchers capture deaths. Perhaps you could acquire one. Perhaps you could arrange for it to be altered. Perhaps it could become a death for someone of your choosing.

Game note: Acquire a Crimson Promise, which may be useful in certain stories.

A custom-made death
It shouldn't be done, of course. But this is Eleutheria, where laws are broken. And the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse has lived a lifetime of illegality. He demands Navaratine gemstones, and bombazine to hide them in. He asks for three truths about your enemy that no one else knows. He insists you swear thief-oaths to secure your secrecy. They are taxing. He meets you away from the gardens, in a shabby, noisy, port-side taverna. They know him, here, all the old villains he once kept company with. Grim-faced, he hands you a jar, the lid fixed on with wax and wire. Inside, the death you bought.
Prove your value to the Heart-Catchers
You could – if you chose, and if you were prepared to dedicate yourself solely to them – ally with the Heart-Catchers. But you would have to prove your value.

Game note: Ally with the Heart-Catchers. Be warned that if you do, you will not be able to ally with the Brazen Brigade or Winter's Reside.

In an egg under a mountain on an island behind the wind...
The Green-Fingered Old Warhorse hands you a box containing three carefully-packed clay jars. "Each jar contains a death. Petitioners pay very well for us to capture a death that they fear or have had foretold, and ensure that it won't trouble them. Unfortunately, deaths are clever little blighters: always slipping free and cropping up where least expected. The best we can do, once we've caught them, is to hide them as inconveniently as possible.

"Take these and find hiding places for them during your travels. And hide each in a different way! Leave no pattern. Leave no trail."

Game note: Look for ways to dispose safely of the deaths while you are travelling the sky. Return when all three are disposed of.

Ask the Heart-Catchers to capture your prophesied bedridden death
You have been cursed with a foretelling of your likely death. But if you are prepared to pay the Heart-Catchers' price, they will catch that death in a jar for safekeeping.

Game note: This will remove the 'Bell Tolls' facet and replace it with a unique one: A Jar with your Death in it. This increases Mirrors and either Hearts or Veils, and your Bohemian or Villainy affiliation. It will not make you immortal: a thousand deaths await in the skies.

Interred
The process is not gentle. You are entombed for three days and nights amidst a Heart-Catcher's roots. You eat nothing, drink only droplets of dew, and dream of ways to die. Afterwards, the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse digs you up and hands you a jar, sealed with wax and wire. Your death is trapped inside. Now you have it, what will you do with it?
Keep it on your bedside cabinet
Where you can keep an eye on it.

Game note: This will increase your Hearts and your Bohemian affiliations.

Occasionally, you could take it out and contemplate your mortality. It also makes an excellent conversation starter. Poets in particular are terribly impressed.
You buried it deep
A death is a dangerous thing to keep nearby.

Game note: This will preserve some of the Veils you gained from A Bell Tolls and increase your villainous affiliations.

What if it got out? What if the jar broke? No, better to hide it carefully, far away. In time, the story of your deed becomes popular in villainous circles. Thieves have always been a superstitious lot.
Ask the Heart-Catchers to capture your prophesied death in the sky
You have been cursed with a foretelling of your likely death. But if you are prepared to pay the Heart-Catchers' price, they will catch that death in a jar for safekeeping.

Game note: This will remove the 'Bell Tolls' facet and replace it with a unique one: A Jar with your Death in it. This increases Mirrors and either Hearts or Veils, and your Bohemian or Villainy affiliation. It will not make you immortal: a thousand deaths await in the skies.

Interred
The process is not gentle. You are entombed for three days and nights amidst a Heart-Catcher's roots. You eat nothing, drink only droplets of dew, and dream of ways to die. Afterwards, the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse digs you up and hands you a jar, sealed with wax and wire. Your death is trapped inside. Now you have it, what will you do with it?
Keep it on your bedside cabinet
Where you can keep an eye on it.

Game note: This will increase your Hearts and your Bohemian affiliations.

Occasionally, you could take it out and contemplate your mortality. It also makes an excellent conversation starter. Poets and artists, in particular, are terribly impressed.
You buried it deep
A death is a dangerous thing to keep nearby.

Game note: This will preserve some of the Veils you gained from A Bell Tolls and increase your villainous affiliations.

What if it got out? What if the jar broke? No, better to hide it well and far away. The story of your deed becomes popular in villainous circles. Thieves have always been a superstitious lot.


The Green-Fingered Warhorse
Greenfingeredwarhorse.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299306


The Green-Fingered Warhorse[edit | edit source]

He must occupy a senior position, for the other gardeners nod their heads as they pass him. Beneath his overalls he wears a ratskin suit, ragged from the plants' playful thorns. There is a deadness to his gaze.


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Ask about the petitioners
A number of desperate-looking people are lined at the hedgerow gate to the inner gardens.
A death in a bottle
"The Heart-Catchers know many secrets," he says. "Among them is a method to capture a death and seal it away so that it can't trouble you. If you fear a particular end, like drowning, say, or freezing, the Heart-Catchers could hide it away."

He takes a cage of squirming mice from his pocket, fishes one out, and drops it into the thorny vines of the closest plant. The vines constrict. The mouse squeaks. The plant shivers.

"It's no guarantee of immortality, of course. A thousand deaths await in the skies."
Ask him about himself
Judging from his military bearing, he was not always a gardener.
Past lives
"No. Once I was a soldier, and a commander of soldiers. I was good at it, as such things are measured. Now I keep the gardens, tend the Heart-Catchers, and pray that I have no further effect on the world at all." Another gardener passes you, carrying a bucket. Kneeling by a bed full of budding Heart-Catchers, they tip the bucket over. The contents ooze, redly, onto the soil.
Ask about the Heart-Catchers
Learn more about these peculiar plants.
Scholars and councillors
"They are a species native to the heavens," he observes. "Here in the nurseries we help the younger specimens grow to maturity, before transferring them to the inner gardens: the Mimiricon."

He indicates some colleagues, who are digging up the largest plant in the garden and wrestling it onto a cart while it tries, affectionately, to throttle them. You note its fruit, which are now big enough to resemble the faces of bawling cherubs.

"Once fully grown," the Warhorse continues, "their fruit can reason, and speak, and debate. More effectively than we, even. Each plant is an entire council or faculty."
Ask about entering the inner garden
A hedge encloses it. An archway permits entrance, but is protected by a mature Heart-Catcher whose cynical faces peer from the thicket. They excoriate intruders with insightful critique.
    • Pan icon.png A Friend to the Heart-Catchers ≤ 10 [You have been given three deaths to hide in different ways as you explore the sky. Return to the Heart-Catchers when the deed is done]

Quid pro quo
"Only friends of the Heart-Catchers may enter the Mimiricon. And successful petitioners, of course, but the latter are blindfolded. Perhaps, if you performed a service for the Heart-Catchers, they would warm to you."
Bid him goodbye
He dons his veiled hat and returns to his labours.




The Mimiricon
Bronzewood.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299292

The Mimiricon[edit | edit source]

The inner gardens are surrounded by a hedge as thick as a fortress wall, knotted with thorns and strangled with vines. Behind it are the grove-homes of the Heart-Catchers, steeped in Eleutheria's midnight and frequented only by their favoured servants.

Within the Mimiricon, the Heart-Catchers are big as trees and clustered with mature heads. Each plant is a council of intellects, debating the secrets of the sky.


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Seek entry
An arch in the hedge leads inside. A dozen heads, grey-haired and bitter, peer from among the leaves.
    • Pan icon.png A Friend to the Heart-Catchers ≤ 10 [You have been given three deaths to hide in different ways as you explore the sky. Return to the Heart-Catchers when the deed is done]

Turned away
"Begone!" The heads insist. "You have not been chosen. You have not served." As far as you can tell, the whole hedge is the body of one vast, brambly Heart-Catcher. As you turn to leave, one of its heads whispers something, and the others snigger. When you ask what was amusing, a hawk-nosed head apologises. "Sorry. We'll just never get used to how much your heads look like fruit."
Offer yourself in a perilous rite to aid a Heart-Catcher
An old Heart-Catcher has succumbed to an insidious poison. Drastic measures are required to affect a cure. "Not to put too fine a point on it," the Old Warhorse says, "but we will need your head." He eyes your neck, critically.

Game note: If successful, this will allow access to the innermost grove of the Heart-Catchers, where the oldest of them sleeps. If not, well, the game features a robust legacy system allowing deceased captains to pass much of their progress on to those that follow.

The Nepenthine Ritual
The Old Warhorse explains the problem. "One of the Heart-Catchers has been poisoned by doubt, and we have been unable to arrest the toxin's progress.

"All but one of its fruit have contracted the poison, and if the last one succumbs, the entire plant will die. We need you to masquerade as one of its fruit, and fortify the remaining head.

"The process is not without danger," he confesses.
Seek counsel with one of the Heart-Catchers
They have deduced many things about the High Wilderness. If you give them reference points, they can tell you about any part of the sky.

Game note: Trade Visions of the Heavens for an Unlicensed Chart.

Receiving counsel
You sit among the roots of a gnarled old Heart-Catcher as its vines coil in thought. It's just the two of you – the laws of Eleutheria only permit a tale to be told to one other person.

The hanging heads debate your question. One provides a hypothesis, another an antithesis. The remainder negotiate a synthesis. You record their findings.

As you listen, you learn fragments of Eleutheria's history. Of a costly victory in a war against the Solonacean Conjunction. Of the grieving of the Halved. Of the visit of the Second Storyteller— The Heart-Catcher falls silent. It has said too much.
Seek an audience with the oldest of the Heart-Catchers
You have saved a Heart-Catcher's life, a feat few have managed. Therefore, you are permitted an audience with the first of them.
Your first visit
You are led to the roots of a gnarled Heart-Catcher and down a tunnel of stone. The Green-Fingered Old Warhorse stops. "I am permitted no further." You go on alone, into a wide space half cave and half chamber. An immense, creaking Heart-Catcher fills it.
Seek another audience with the first of the Heart-Catchers
The oldest of their kind resides beneath the Mimiricon. Mostly, it sleeps, but sometimes it will provide an audience to those it trusts, if they bring mysteries.



The Second Storyteller
Pastscandal.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299297

The Second Storyteller[edit | edit source]

The oldest of the Heart-Catchers is a crooked tree, roofed with rattling leaves. Stone props support its vast branches, keeping their weight from toppling it. All but one of its heads has grown huge, grown old, and died. Now they are great, grinning skulls. The last living head rests on an altar. It is as big as you are tall: lank-haired, stone-grey, graven with wrinkles. It sleeps.


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Ambition: Ask "What is the Courtesy?"
The Second Storyteller has seen the deaths of stars and the turn of aeons. It has mastered death. Surely it will not be afraid to answer.
    • Maskedcitizen icon.png The Citizen's Investigation = 40 [Join one of Pan's factions, advance within them to access to their inner mysteries, and ask about the Courtesy]

Halfway to the truth
The great head opens its eyes. It tells you a tale; slowly at first, then quicker, like a stone rolling downhill.

Of a war that broke out between the stars and how, when the first star died, they paused. To end the war, they made the Courtesy: an agreement which set out the terms and rituals under which one star can kill another. And to ensure the Courtesy was kept, they—

The Storyteller stops. If it tells you the rest if this story, it fears what you will do with it. "I have learned my lesson," it says, and will speak no more. Its eyes close.

You leave. You had better tell the Masked Citizen what you have learned.
Drink from the bitter waters
Periodically the last head has woken, and wept. The tears have scored its face, cut grooves in the altar, and worn away the floor to make a silver pool.
The witness
A bowl has been set beside the pool. You drink.

The waters are cold and sharp with salt. A melancholy floods you, and you slump at the pool's edge. The bowl falls from your hand. You dream.

You see a blazing, golden sun, so close it fills the sky. It shudders. It dims. You watch as it draws its fires into itself, becoming sullen, crimson coals. Its surface cools, scabbing over with a black crust. Shadows flood this region of the sky.

When you wake, the head's eyes – grey as ghosts – are watching you. "The story you tell might not be the one that others hear," it says. Its eyes close again.

Game note: This will unlock a new facet you can choose when levelling up.


Eavesdrop as it slumbers
Sometimes, the last head mutters in its sleep – archaic wisdoms and memories of ages past.
Fragments
You crouch as near to the altar as you can, and listen as the Heart-Catcher stirs and mumbles in its sleep. It mutters of starlit libraries with books of fire. Of the shifting alliances of suns, and delicate wars between them.

As you are preparing to leave, its eyes snap open. "The first storyteller began a war and was cast into a well," it says. "The second turned a sun to night and was cursed to live. What will the third do, and how will they end?"

Then it closes its eyes, and begins to snore.

Game note: Gain Experience and a Moment of Inspiration, which may come in useful for some stories.



The Nepenthine Ritual
Pastscarred.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299699


The Nepenthine Ritual[edit | edit source]

First, you are asked to inhale mists from a copper bowl. "Vapours from the Achlaean marsh," the Old Warhorse explains. "It's for the best." Your world disjoints. Events separate into isolated moments, each untroubled by sensation or emotion. A lamp-lit grove, ringed by veiled gardeners. The heads of a Heart-Catcher looking down at you, speaking with tongues of fire. The Old Warhorse advancing with a set of garden shears...


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Object
This was a terrible idea.
Spared
The shears pause, withdraw, and slowly close. How disappointed they seem, when the firelight winks out on their edge. Later, your perception of events reassembles itself. You feel things again, things like horror and a splitting headache. The Old Warhorse's expression is neutral. "If you change your mind – again – tell us."

Game note: You will be able to try again in the future.


Observe how the firelight gleams upon the blades
Let what will be, be.
Among the branches
A sharp sound, like tailor's scissors. A period of darkness. Then you are being carried, facing backwards. You can't see where you're going, but you can see what's left behind: a body, slumped among the roots of a Heart-Catcher. It does not look back at you. It cannot. Then you are lifted up and set among the branches of another Heart-Catcher. Around you dangle a gallery of stern heads. The nearest is unsmiling, distinguished, and reminds you of your aunt. This is the head you are here to help. The others cluster about it like vultures. Their cheeks are veined with green poison.



One Voice among Many
Sigil11.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Data ID 299680


One Voice among Many[edit | edit source]

"A Friend to the Heart-Catchers(Severed)"

Trigger conditions

Pan icon.png A Friend to the Heart-Catchers ≥ 22 ≤ 22,


Interactions

Actions Requirements Effects Notes
Challenge their assertion
No. No claim so simple can be true.
A challenge
The healthy head tilts to one side. "My unexpected colleague makes a viable point. I must question your assertion. We've advised kings and Curators and Measurers. If our advice was bad, why did they return?"

Game note: This course is reliable, but costs a Moment of Inspiration.


Lend the dignified head your stubbornness
You whisper a word of encouragement. Her jaw tightens.
Failed event

Game note: If you fail, you will lose some Hearts.

A gift more than a loan
Her eyes flicker towards you, but the criticism from her fellow heads is incessant. Words are not enough. "Excuse me," she mutters to you, "but I need a little of your fire." The vines squirm around you. You feel their frondules crawl into your skin, and then a sensation like suction. The distinguished head looks back to her accusers. "I question your assertion. We've advised kings and Curators and Measurers. If our advice was bad, why did they return?"
Successful event
Examination
Her eyes flicker towards you. Her lips twist in thought, and she looks back to her accusers. "I question your assertion. We've advised kings and Curators and Measurers. If our advice was bad, why did they return?"
Conceal yourself from their sight
You've learned a trick or two in your time in the skies.
Into the shadows
Using an old murderer's trick, you withdraw from the attention of the glowering heads. The one that looks like your aunt clears her throat (an achievement, given her physiology). "My associate's identity isn't important. Their point is. Absolutes aren't a helpful frame for this discussion."

Game note: This course is reliable, but costs a Savage Secret.


Lend the beleaguered head your sight
You represent a fresh pair of eyes. And, admittedly, not much else at the moment.
Failed event

Game note: If you fail, you will lose some Mirrors.

Borrowing your eyes
"Yes, I think that's what I need," the head that looks like your aunt mumbles. Vines crawl around your face. You feel their frondules unfurl, pushing their way insistently under your eyelids. A sharp pain. "Thank you, that's helpful." She turns her attention back to the other heads. "My associate's identity isn't important. Their point is. Absolutes aren't a helpful frame for this discussion."
Successful event
Standing her ground
"Quite right." The head that looks like your aunt agrees. "My associate's identity isn't important. Their point is. Absolutes aren't a helpful frame for this discussion."
Present a counterpoint
The Heart-Catchers are here to advise, not to decide. This one has done so as well as it was able.
Close enough
The head nods in its cradle of vines. "This is so. We have never given advice we knew to be false. We have not wasted our cognition on matters of no significance. We have, of course, been wrong, and will be so again. But that has to be acceptable. We don't have the privilege of certainty: we are counsellors, not priests."

Game note: This course is reliable, but costs a Moment of Inspiration.


Lend the last healthy head your ambition
And let her make a counter-claim to the accusations of her persecutors.
Failed event

Game note: If you fail, you will lose some Iron.

The sacrifice
She falters in her initial points. Your encouragement is insufficient. "Forgive me," she says, and you feel briars writhe about you. The thorns dig deep, and drink of you. As she feeds on your confidence, she rallies. "We have never given advice we knew to be false. We have not wasted our cognition on matters of no significance. We have, of course, been wrong, and will be so again. But that has to be acceptable. We don't have the privilege of certainty: we are counsellors, not priests."
Successful event
Determination
She falters in her initial points; you encourage her to be bold in them. She rallies. "We have never given advice we knew to be false. We have not wasted our cognition on matters of no significance. We have, of course, been wrong, and will be so again. But that has to be acceptable. We don't have the privilege of certainty: we are counsellors, not priests."
Listen to her response
You have helped her as much as you could. Now you find out if it was enough.
Sometimes, a stalemate is enough
"I believe it more than I don't," she answers. "Marginally. And that will have to do."

A couple of the other heads nod, convinced. The pinch-faced head is one of them. "Perhaps it will," he says. The green tinge has faded from his cheeks.

The majority of the heads are still poisoned. The Heart-Catcher is not cured. But maybe it can manage.

Some time later, during the Hour of Knots, the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse retrieves your head. There is another bloody and elaborate rite in the lamp-lit grove. With a complex series of stitches, your head is restored to your shoulders. You are left with a persistent itch, though, around the base of your neck. It will endure to the end of your days.
Listen to her response
You have helped her as much as you could. Now you find out if it was enough.
An ending
"No," she admits, and you watch the poison crawl greenly along the veins in her face.

She and the other heads turn to regard you. "Now," she says, "let's talk about you."

At some point, when the heads lapse into a short, brooding silence, the Green-Fingered Old Warhorse is beside you. Is he on a ladder?

"Alas," he is saying, "that leaves you as the final fruit of the tree. Or the closest we've got. You're all that's keeping the poison from reaching the heartwood. We're looking for another willing to undergo the rite, but you'll just have to hold out as long as you can."

The will not be another, not in time. Your fellow heads begin to stir from their thoughts. You can feel the dull ache of the poison.

Game note: Your captain has met their end.