Around a crackling fire, the children go to bed, having heard the history of the Five, of how they came to be. But then it was time to tell what happened to the Five…
ROLL CREDITS – PANTHEON, SERIES ONE EPISODE ONE: “PILOT”
On the endless plain, two of the Three, the Lord and Lady of Balance, the effective ruler of the Gods, Rokan and Ankar, announce that their time as rulers have begun to wane, and their time of power over the world below likewise. It is time to hand things over to the Five, and of course, Rokan adds, this means that Korak and Always will marry, as they pledged, and become the new king and queen. And yet, in the crowd, none of the Five are present to hear this.
Cut to Korak, resplendent in brass and seated on his brass throne, dreaming of glorious battle, and interrupted by news that his betrothed is at his very palace gates, handmaidens in tow. He hasn’t heard the news about the announcement and was kind of hoping he would never get married (so he could real alone). Greeting her himself, he is unnerved as hell to see that, after removing her mask, she has taken the form of his Perfect Woman. (Always causes Stress) This sets the tone of the relationship quickly.
Meanwhile, in the Forest Infinite, a bird flutters through the sun-dappled forest air. Suddenly a hand snatches it and Ix devours it messily. He’s interrupted by Ankar, Lady of Order. Ix wonders what Order and Wild have in common, she explains that she understands that Ix has done a lot to protect Always and appreciates that he has not always been rewarded for it. She goes on to say she doesn’t want Korak and Always to rule, she wants Always to rule alone. Ix agrees that Always certainly deserves better for a husband. Ankar says she will not be ungrateful for anything that makes Korak fall from favour as husband or king, and they shake on the deal. (no roll)
Meanwhile, in the Underworld, Zyz sits in banishment with the First Peoples (the malformed beings created by the Gods before the Balance was made) and makes stew for his guest – Smith. Smith tells Zyz about the announcement, and assures Zyz that he intends to bring down Korak and upset the natural order because we’ve had order for too long and “order is not the same as justice”. Zyz approves, happy that Smith becoming a God has not dampened the once-mortal’s love of the underdog, but demands that in his machinations to take the throne, Smith bring no harm or shame to Korak, for Zyz still loves his son. Smith tries to bluff Zyz that he agrees, but Zyz sees through it (Zyz wins the roll) and tells Smith he can’t build a new order on lies. Smith swears an oath that should he bring harm to Korak, he will surrender the testicle he stole from the war god (which was the main part of what made Smith immortal) over to Zyz. They make a pact.
Pan up and up to the heavens. Aristeia, God of the Sky, herds the clouds and talks to Teyamaq, who is the moon. Long ago, when Ankar first wanted to create warmth and spare people from the terror of the Rimeblood, the Kalakaq, Ankar made a terrible deal – she arranged for the Rimeblood to capture Aristeia in exchange for her plan succeeding. Aristeia was imprisoned and tortured by the giants for eons, before she was freed by the young Korak. In her torment, one of the Kalakaq took pity on her and became her protector and confidant, and escaped with her – and that was Teyamaq. He also fell in love with the brave Korak during the rescue, but that is a secret (as is Ankar’s betrayal).
Teyamaq tells Aristeia she should be happy for Korak and Always, and she should spend more time socialising with the Fifthlings. She gives the ancient smallville cry of “don’t tell me what to do!”. But they agree to go and see Korak and Always so Aristeia can talk to Ix, for whom she has a fondness.
Back at the Brass Palace, the table is set for dinner, Korak and Always at each of a small-ish but formal table. Korak is watching his young bachelor life of doing war stuff vanishing as Always explains how now that they are going to be married and king and queen it is time to turn away from the Second People and go and be On High. Korak wonders if instead of copying the old ways, they should form a new Balance. Always wonders what that would imply, how much might change, which is the cue for Ix to barge in through the doors.
Ix says that if anyone is going to be talking about the future of the Five, the Five should all be present.
Always says “Yes, but we weren’t talking about that”
Ix is dubious. Korak tells Ix to sit down and join them and Ix parks his butt and puts his muddy feet on the table.
Ix: So let’s talk about this marriage.
Always: It’s been coming for thousands of years, why talk about it now?
Ix: Because it’s imminent, which means we must question it before it is too late.
Korak: Question? What is there to question?
Ix: Well, if the Balance decreed this marriage, and they are departing, then why take their wisdom any more? Are there not, Lady Always, others in the heavens that would make a better match for you? – No offence Korak (he adds quickly)
Always: Do you see a better path?
Ix: No, but the forest has many paths. We should not follow tradition solely for the sake of it.
Always: You must trust us that this is for the best.
Ix: AHAH! See? You decide for us. We are expected to trust you two, to make decisions for all the five? I don’t think so!
And on that cue, the doors push open, and in walks Aristeia and Teyamaq. More places are set at the table hurriedly. A few glassy pleasantries are exchanged.
Ix: (triumphantly) Don’t be too swift to congratulate them – they haven’t even considered the possibility that they might not be best possible match for each other!
Always: You are WRONG, Ix.
Korak: (dismissively, to the others) Ix here has wild ideas, as usual.
Teyamaq: I’d like to hear Lord Ix’s reasons on that matter… (and we know why)
Korak: (seeing an opportunity to embarrass his brother) Yes…I’m sure he has good REASON.
Before Ix can find his voice, Korak is called away by an attendant. In his absence, Ix tries to convince Always she can do better, mostly because he’s jealous of Korak. Not that Ix wants Always, he just thinks Korak has too much already, but he says “Consider the other options, there are a thousand paths in the forest” (rolls on Justice+Korak+Always, 10). Always believes it’s a done deal to do what Daddy says (rolls Duty+Rokan+Inevitable,12) but wants him to just let it drop.”Perhaps you are correct, so we would VALUE our time ALONE to consider this….”
Aristeia: Does that mean we should leave?
Now it’s about power – nobody tells Ix to shut up (Power+Always…and gets a 6). Ix is Stressed Out and is completely shut down by his sister. He bristles with anger but he can’t contradict her because he thinks she’s so awesome. He slowly, sadly, takes each foot off the table. Always claps her hands, happy to have a Proper Family Dinner. She thinks she should have all Five there, so calls one of her handmaidens over to send an invite – at which point the handmaiden removes her mask to reveal he IS Smith. Aristeia is quite happy.
Always is worried though, about Ix’s suggestion, and Smith says too, it is a new era, with a new Balance and a new law. Always agrees but she thinks the marriage should still take place. On that matter, we cut to Korak and his guest, mighty Lord Rokan. Rokan says he is proud of his protégé, but reminds him that he will not rule until he gains the approval of the others – unless Korak decides some are unworthy of joining his realm. Rokan points out that the Three became the Two when Zyz was exiled, in a new age, perhaps the Five may become lesser if it makes for a stronger rule. Although conquering the trickster might be hard, it might be easier to get him on side then to crush him.
Rokan’s parting warning is for Korak to protect Aristeia and watch Teyamaq, for a Kalakaq can never be trusted. Korak returns to dinner. Korak is surprised to see Smith, but when Always explains she wanted everyone there, he grudgingly raises a toast to the Five. Ix however, refuses the toast and storms out. Smith follows.
In the throne room, Ix and Smith stare at the empty Brass Throne. Smith says that though the two haven’t always agreed, they both shared a distaste for Korak and an unwillingness to see him rule. Ix suggests he more opposes the marriage than the rule, but the two are one – foil the marriage, foil the kingship, he says. But what can Smith do to stop fate, Ix asks? Smith says nothing is fated. It is choice, and they agree anybody but Korak should be chosen. They spit shake on it. And Smith’s assurance relieves Smith’s anger (Stress Relief roll succeeds).
Back at the table, the ladies talk amongst themselves. And Always wonders of Aristeia, who sees all things of the World Below, what she knows of a man called Skoh…of whom we will learn more next week.
Aristeia stares at the departing Always, wondering about her sister’s intent.
Ix returns to his forest, greeting Ankar with a wide smile.
Above the forest, in the Palace, Korak stares down at the wood, sharpening his korix (curved bronze axe)
Always knocks on a door – of Lika’s house. She says “I need some knowledge”.
Slipping back into the shadows across the way is Smith, who was clearly heading for Lika’s door with an ornate box. (Lika being his ex-wife).
Stinger: Like takes a bowl of soup from Zyz, who says “But why do you want to go BACK to him?”
Cut to black.
(MVP awarded to Steve (Ix) for smashing into the family dinner with such Drama)