Helena closed her eyes, an expression of intense focus on her face. The air in the room grew charged, crackling with the energy that she poured into the coin - which itself began to close.
The modern world faded out, and the sounds of ancient warfare faded in.
The ring of metal on metal as weapons clash.
Screams of men and horses, injured and dying.
The thundering boom of a cannonade, artiliary advancing without mercy on man and beast alike.
With Sound comes Scent.
Gunpowder from the cannons lingering over the field.
The tang of blood, and the stench of the dying, the dead and the dismembered - bodies torn apart by the shelling, trampled on by the cavalary, skewered by swords and knives.
Churned mud, made foul with human and animal waste, blood and offal from the remains of the dead.
It it enough to make Helena gag, though she’s experienced the horrors of war this way many times that she manages to retain control of herself.
Now, Sound and Scent are joined with Sight, and it hardly improves matters.
Two forces are set upon each other in furious battle: the Imperial Russian Army, their uniforms stained and dirtied, but still recognizable, on one side, and what almost seem like tribesmen - Crimean Tatars, in traditional garb, fighting with the ferocity for which they are known. The battle is heated, and the outcome is not obvious; it could go to either side at this point.
The scene begins to tighten its focus. At first a wide-lens view, now it narrows and closes in on a ferocious young Tatar, wielding his curved Kilij, dripping with blood and gore. He is in a berzerker’s frenzy, fighting like a man posessed…and perhaps he is, for though he is in the midst of the heaviest fighting, he is never touched.
Yet despite their fiercest attack, the Tatars are being driven back by the ruthless, efficient and constant regroup and direction of the Russian troops, led by a Russian officer who seems nearly as fierce and savage as the Tatars themselves at times, pulled back into sanity from his own battle frenzy to a cold, analytic place to give orders - devestating orders - only to return once again to his berzerker’s rage.
The young Tatar is forged in this crucible, seeing their defeat coming, but fighting bitterly till the end. And by the time the battle is concluded, and they are forced to surrender, his hatred for the Russian invaders is nearly palpable.
The scene fades - not returning to the moment, but merely fast-forwarding from the battle. The Tatar is older now, though still in the prime of his fighting years, and his face is hardened, embittered.
He stands in the shadows of an ancient city, watching the hated Russians marching in under the standard of Catherine II, annexing his country at her orders. For their own protection.
It galls him, seeing the hated enemy come in like this, and something wells up inside of him.He will do something about this. He doesn’t know what, just yet, but Allah will provide.
And provide He does.
The Russian Imperial troops assigned to his city, Aqmescit - which they have begun insisting must be called Simferopol - make themselves at home. More conquerors than protectors, a thing which surprises him not in the slightest. In only a few days, they have taken the women by force, commandeered the best provisions without any signs of repayment, and they strike down any who might - cautiously, and even in the most respectful of tones - suggest that perhaps this is less than seemly behavior.
Within a few weeks, the mosques are torn down, and the population has been baptized - at sword’s edge - into the Orthodox Church.
Yet in that misfortunate, Allah rewards his servant - for amongst all this desecration, whom does the Tatar see strolling into his favorite coffeehouse but that same Russian officer, the man responsible for the Tatars’ humiliating defeat a decade earlier? Watching the officer invade this, his personal space, a plan begins to form in his mind, and he mumbles a prayer of thanks that this opportunity has been granted to him.
At home, he ritually bathes himself, purifying himself with water and prayer, before slipping on dark clothes, tucking his daggers into his boots and setting off to await the Russian officer, whom he has silently followed for several days now. He knows where the man will be, knows that he will be drunk and unaware at this time of night, strolling through the streets back to his lodgings.
Tonight, the Tatar is waiting for him.
In the shadows, in the arches of this ancient city, he waits till the Russian passes, singing to himself with no fear of anything untoward happening. He stalks out behind him, creeping up and moving - at unholy speed - to cover the man’s mouth and slit his throat before the officer even realizes that anything has happened to him.
The Russian bleeds out silently, with no struggle at all. The fierce berzerker gone without a whimper, and - the Tatar realizes - without getting even a drop of blood on his own clothing. This murder, no, he corrects himself, this assassination, must truly have been divinely ordained for it to have gone so smoothly, and he offers a quick prayer of thanksgiving for this gift he has been given.
He is about to leave the body and fade into the night when he realizes - if this is what he has been ordained to do, if the death of this invader was provided to him as an Omen, he must take something, a signifier, to remind him of his good fortune, to bring the blessing he’s been given with him as his continues on the crusader’s path opening up before him.
He kneels beside the body, carefully avoiding staining himself with the congealing blood, and searches the man for some little thing, some divine token. Surely, the man must have something on him - the hateful Orthodox cross, perhaps…a weapon, an ikon, anything. Yet all he finds are a few coins in his coat.
He sneers and is about to toss them away - blood money and he’ll have none of it - but one catches his eye: a brand new kopek, printed with the raging symbol of this country of invaders, of infidels. He cannot read the text, but he knows the numbers for he’s seen them before. 1783. This year. The year that marks the begin of the judgment Allah has seen fit to work through him.
Pocketing the coin, he smiles. It is a perfect symbol of the fortune that has blessed him, and he knows it will guide his hand, his warrior’s hand. It is, in fact, his lucky coin.
As the Crimean night faded away, taking the scent of blood with it, Helena drew in a breath. “Intense,” she whispered, opening her eyes and pressing the coin back into Ava’s hand.
“Quite a history,” she added, a moment later, once they’d both recovered themselves a bit. “Quite a strong spirit in there, too - and I suspect, if the spirit approves of you, if it bonds with you, that our little holy warrior there might be convinced to help you out. That is, of course,” and she gave a rueful little smile, “if you want his sort of help.”
Instructions for the Scene
To determine the sort of relationship you and your relic’s posessing spirit will have, roll a d6. 1-2 = he really doesn’t care for you, 3-4 = he’s okay with you, 5-6 = he definitely feels you are a kindred spirit.
Let that guide your bonding experience accordingly.