An Interlude: Ghosts and Their Ways [Cavaliers of Mars]
We’re gearing up for Gen Con, and I’m working furiously on the demo for Cavaliers of Mars. I’d love to see you at our booth (#1201), and maybe we can even roll a few dice together. ^_^
On Saturday of the con at 3:00 PM, Eddy, Rich, and I will be hosting a Pugmire/Cavaliers of Mars panel (SEM1686456) in the Crowne Plaza Conrail.
In the meantime, the text of the book is nearing completion. I thought that today I’d share a bit from our Bestiary, written by Audrey Whitman.
Please enjoy the ghosts of Mars.
I looked into the yawning gulf of Hell’s Basin and wept. Even if I stood here with my mouth open for a hundred nights, I might never find Anatolia. I might never even know if she made it here. Maybe her spirit had been at rest.
–Dysis Horae, Sister of Anatolia, in the month of the Stranger
A ghost knows your name like you know how to breathe, in a secret way that burns and chokes if you try to stop. And the more it knows, the longer it can stay in the shadows of living, carried by dust and storm. If you breathe a ghost in, it can live again, a little—curling into your body and whispering into your ears and your heart.
Some Martians, out of loneliness or longing or love of the divine, welcome ghosts into themselves. To hold on to a remembered lover, to walk more closely the steps of the first Martians, to not be alone. Most possessions are less willing, though, and not all ghosts feel compelled to be truthful about who they once were.
A ghost-eater might draw one back out of your heart, but it’ll leave a mark. A long blue streak persists where the incision was made, and leaves scars where the memories it touched used to be.
Ghosts travel as dust, carried across the world by hot wind and choking storms.
Ways are the uncanny effects ghosts have on those they possess, and on the world around them. Not every ghost knows every way, and each one is very much about the experience it evokes.
A way might evoke the way a ghost’s first body died, the missing thing that’s still tying them to Mars, or a desire too strong to sate. A young ghost might know two, an experienced or especially resilient ghost might know four or more. When a ghost calls up a way, it can choose to terrorize a single traveler or split its attention and haunt their companions as well.
Way of the Stinging Eyes
The desert is dust and sand and the salt of your own sweat, grinding relentlessly against you—eyes painted black against the glare, grit crawling under your skin.
Way of the Burning Voice
The desert is endless heat and the dizzy rage of exhaustion, driving harsh words (and more besides) from the mouth of your sister.
Way of the Cool Breath
The desert is cold down to your bones, the dry air drawing water from your breath with every exhalation.
Way of the Open Hand
The desert is need, running low and then out of the things that keep a caravan moving—water and wine, hope and mercy.
Way of the Closed Heart
The desert is loneliness and the fading echoes of how it must have been, when you could remember the stars in the heavens and name them with a lover.
Way of the Desert Song
The desert is a sand dune humming like a bowstring, then calling out in booms and whispers when the wind rushes hard over you.
Way of the Silent Step
The desert is hard pebbles and striped glass shards that are sand-in-waiting, ready to collapse underfoot in a spray of powder and crumbling rock.