No.701786[Last 50 Posts]
Our heroes have returned from the Shifting Sands, where in a forgotten vault they encountered someone they did not expect: a petrified Discord, god of chaos, now known as Persolus. Seemingly under an enchantment forcing him to always tell the truth, he told the party that he had figured out a way out of the Echoes, but it required freeing him and messing with some sort of egg that was being kept in the vault. Sensibly, the party chose not to trust him, and declined his offer.
From there, they have made their way to Braildorn, one of the few places in the Echoes that most closely resembles modern society. However, while they sought respite within its walls, they soon found their troubles were far from over: Lysander, an ambitious and greedy dragon with significant influence in the Echoes, saw to the kidnapping of their friend Violet, replacing her with a spy to study the party and assess them. The party soon rooted out the spy and followed a trail of clues (including striking a tenuous alliance with the nefarious Tiger Clan) which eventually led them to Lysander's ship, the Lady Luck. From there, they proceeded to fight their way to Lysander himself, rescue Violet and take the Lady Luck for themselves - which was not a ship at all, but rather an enchanted construct called a Sanctuary. They soon found that overtaking a Sanctuary did not come without its failsafes, however; the Fulcrum, a unique magical object that controls a Sanctuary, was bound to Lysander and Lysander alone, and no one else could use it without risking severe mental harm or even death.
Via one of their newfound acquaintances, however, they may have figured out a workaround. Fumblemore, a bumbling but good natured wizard, knows of a way to break the Seal of Dominion, but it is a dangerous ritual that requires the participation of the entire group; their spiritual forms would entre the Fulcrum, according to Fumblemore, and have to physically bypass whatever defences Lysander has placed.
Meanwhile, the party have made themselves quite busy while in Braildorn:
Hermodur has accepted a contract to hunt down a creature plaguing the town's citizens, a particularly large and intelligent balaur known as the Beast of Braildorn.
Norv has expressed his interest in performing a courier task for Carnifex, a servant of Black Pudding. He has also commissioned a new sprayer to be made for him by the master craftsman Hadrian, which has dug deep into his pockets.
Silver and Rabi, now officially an item, wish to aid a farmer who's been having a strange problem: non-hostile zombies come down from the hills every night and taint his crops, targeting his farm specifically.
Violet, having experience in ousting warlocks, has shown interest in pursuing a terrible sorcerer known as the Oneiromancer, who has enslaved a small fishing village on the other side of the Broad River.
"We have consulted various hunters in town, drifters or otherwise, and assembled some info on balaur in general, and the Beast itself." Captain Fergal starts rummaging through a cabinet and eventually pulls out a tightly furled scroll. "Let's see here…"
"Balaur are highly intelligent, that much is clear. About as much so as an exceptionally clever dog, by all accounts. Some have even domesticated balaur before. They come in several variants: Boneridge, Deathwhistler, Cursebite, Grallvore, Fellform, to name a few. The Beast appears to be a Blackjaw Balaur, albeit a freakishly large one. Blackjaws are exceptional climbers and can spit acid as well as secreting it reactively when injured. Ranged combat recommended for this one. As for habitat… Balaur can live anywhere and eat anything, but they prefer damp environments. We believe the Beast to be hiding somewhere in the sewer system of the city, but it could be anywhere really."
"Was there anything else you'd like to know? We have quite a dossier on it."
You hoist up your attacker and start half carrying and half dragging him towards Carnifex's shop. He smells awful, and your wounds slow you down immensely, but you somehow manage to pull through, eventually arriving at the small black stone dome-shaped building. The smell of ammonia isn't as strong now, replaced with what smells to you oddly like roast meat.
"If yer willin' t'stay th'night t'wait fer 'em," Ricard suggests, "I have an old guests shack out back I could set up fer ye. It's not much ter look at, but it'd serve ye well enough if yer willin' ter follow 'em."
Violet flinches a little instinctively as you touch her reassuringly, but accepts it. "…Yeah. I guess you're right. Sure sounds like it was a doozy last night. …Thanks for staying behind. I know I don't really say so often, but I'm glad I met you. And everyone else of course. It's been great." She falls silent for a moment as you keep talking, listening quietly. Soon enough, the tea is brought out and served, charging you 15 bits. Violet quietly drinks some.
"…I think I'm going to be leaving soon," she says after a long silence. "I… I feel like it's for the best. For everyone. After what happened today I think it might be better if I lay low. I keep getting you and the rest of the gang into all sorts of trouble because of my past. It's not your cross to bear. We'll meet again, but I'm thinking in a few days I'll just go undercover for a while…"
"I think we could manage a guests's shack." he says, giving Silver a friendly nudge. "About what time does it start? Just at sunset, or once the sun is down fully?"
The farmer shakes his head. "Midnight. Ish. They start runnin' down from the hills 'n just stand there, menacingly. It's 'orrible."
I curl my nose at the stench of the cat, almost welcoming the mild ammonia stench, and definitely welcoming the smell of roast meat. I grit my teeth, trying to push through the pain of my wounds as I hobble up to the door. After juggling my cage and the felid for a second, I realize I have to actually set my cage down in order to knock on the door. I crouch down, drop it to the ground as lightly as I possibly can, reach up with my partially free hand, and knock. I keep telling myself that I really don't need to do this, and that it's probably better if I don't. No matter how many times I say it in my head I can't bring myself to believe it.
"Hrm… really specific, then. Do you happen to ever see anything else come in and out, or do you head back inside?"
"Can I see a picture of its tracks? Also, if they can be tamed, then they can be predicted. You can't tame something if you can't catch it. They must have some method of luring out the beasts. Do you know of any Balaur trainers in town?"
"That would work quite well, thank you." i reply with a nod.
"Once they've arrived we may finally see just what
is causing this mess."
You hear someone shuffling behind the stone door, and with a heavy scraping sound it opens. A grim beaked face pokes out, with orange markings around the eyes. "We have not seen thee before," she says, sounding a little suspicious. "Who art thou?"
He shakes his head. "Nothin' else, no. …Wait. Sometimes if I peer real hard out into the trees, I can see some shadows dancin' 'twixt 'em. Not all the time, but only sometimes. No clue what they could be. Hard to see that time o' night."
I grunt and adjust the felid on my shoulder as I feel him start to slip off. "Norvegicus Black," I say. "I'm here about the job. And also here hoping you can help do a little bit of healing or something? This guy is banged up pretty bad."
"Shadows? Hmm.. nothing i've heard of, for sure. Perhaps it may be the caster.."
"In any case, it will serve as something to keep watch for, at least."
Zunden takes the tea into her hands as well, but doesn't yet drink it.
"Do you mind if I azk you about your pazt? I've had time to talk to ze ozherz individually yet you're alwayz doing zomezhing planning ahead or helping Norv out or I dunno…"
she trails off,
"Zhiz ztuff izn't my crozz to bear, you're right, but I'd like to help if I can. It'z juzt hard know what zhat crozz iz. I call zhievez and murdererz companionz, and I care little for what zhey might have done in ze pazt."
She shrugs, taking a sip of her tea,
"I want to know more about you, before you met uz near the lighthouze. Ze pirate drake made mention of a hiztory yet you do not zpeak of it, it haz made me curiouz: who were you, before everyzhing of zhiz? Before ze Echoez?"
"Might be whoever's causing it, then. Thank you for the information, at least. Hopefully, we can find out who's causing this and put a stop to them- and of course, take the zombies out if we need to."
He digs around in the cabinet again and produces a rough sketch of its footprints. It has three digits on each hand, with terribly long claws.
"We have one, yes," he replies. "Linde. She's in custody. We suspect the Beast may be her doing, but we don't have any hard evidence yet. You could question her if you like.">>701793>>701797>>701799
"So, will ye be investigatin' it tonight, then? I'll 'ave the missus get the shack ready if so. If not, just say the word. Please 'urry though. We don' have many crops left.">>701796
Her beady black eyes dart from you to the homeless cat. She seems conflicted, but opens the door. "…Enter, then."
You see that Carnifex is strikingly elegant for a servant of Black Pudding. She is very tall as griffons come, with long, thin legs and brilliant black and white plumage. Several black quill-like feathers jot out the back of her head. She has a stark contrast to her work environment, which is about what you'd expect: a dark laboratory with several shelves containing unpleasant looking ingredients, as well as alchemical tools such as alembics and burners. She hastily clears out a stone table and helps you haul the Felid onto it. She quickly gets to work, starting to rummage about for certain ingredients. "Bezoar… Where is the bezoar… Hm… Lamb's breath, no… Deer's eye, no… Demon's jawbone? Certainly not… Hm…"
As she searches, she makes conversation. "So, the job placement brought you here? 'Tis a simple task, really. Tomorrow evening, someone will arrive at the western gate toting a certain ingredient my master wishes me to experiment with. It is a… rather clandestine matter, owing to the nature of the ingredient. Thine task would be to meet this someone and recite the code we have established: "Red sky at night, sailor's delight." Thou'st heard the second half of the rhyme, we hope?">>701798
She pauses. "I thought I'd told you? Maybe you weren't there. Any case, I don't exactly try to hide it, so here goes:
"I used to be a park ranger back home. It's how I know how to survive out in the wild. It was a simple enough job, although it could be tough at times. There was something unnatural about the woods there. An old magic. Something we can't really understand. I… I don't want to get into the details, but my curiosity got the better of me once, and… It resulted in the… the child we were hunting being found dead. Miles away from the woods. At my home. …My coworkers testified against me. I think they were hiding something. One thing led to another and… Well, I ended up here, met Lysander - Nivius, he was called back then - and, well, I guess you know the rest."
"That does sound fruitful," Hermodur nods. "At the very least, I could learn more about how to lure it out of hiding and to where we want it."
"Could someone take me to her?"
"I don't know ze rezt though, zhat'z why I'm azking-"
Zunden says, taking another sip,
"You zaid you didn't know why he'd be angry at you or anyzhing, zo what did you do togezher, when did you zplit up?"
she coughs politely,
"I'm zorry I'm inquizitive, I juzt know nozhing about ze Echoez, and you've been here much longer in comparizon. You're a very interezting perzon, and I want to know you. Not az a bozz, or a guide, but a perzon perzon. I want to know Violet."
"Right, we should. As far as things go for me, Silv, we'll need to keep the door to the shack open- so, make sure to keep watch while I'm… out. I'd hate for a zombie to come in after you." The stallion says, nuzzling at her cheek a little. "And, hrm… I wonder if whoever's causing this might be watching. If I can figure out where they are, maybe you could sneak around to the edge of the forest? Assuming that is them."
"That sounds simple enough, dear. You keep those eyes of yours trained on the treeline and i'll
creep towards them." i reply, returning the nuzzle.
"In theory we should be fine, given the undead showed no sign of aggression prior to now, and unless whoever is behind this has observation magic that won't change."
At first I'm taken a bit aback by the griffon. I'm not sure what I expected. A unicorn, or another ooze maybe? I tense a little as I see the rest of the place, confirming that she is, in fact, the person I'm supposed to be speaking with. I crouch down and hook my finger into my cage's handle, pick it up, and head inside. I grunt as we hoist him up, glad to finally get the felid off of my shoulder and onto a table. Now that I'm relaxed a bit more, I take a step back and work my shoulder in its socket for a second, but freeze for a second when I hear deer's eye. I might bring that up some time before I leave. Probably shouldn't, but maybe.
I quietly listen as she describes the actual job. Well. A little escort mission. That doesn't sound too hard. I feel like I've heard it before, but I can't place it. Slowly, I shake my head. "I've heard it before, but, uh… Can't really say I remember. Sorry."
He nods and calls for the guard that escorted you, who leads you quietly out of the captain's office and down a flight of stairs into a group of holding cells. They seem empty, save for one, which contains a rather poorly looking unicorn mare. She is sitting about lost in though, but perks up when she sees you approach. The guard turns his back and waits for you to finish. "Are you here to question me too?" she asks. "You don't look like one of them, so I'm assuming not.">>701803
"I thought I'd said so before?" she frowns. "I get now why he's mad at me. I didn't even know he was still alive. He was one of the first ones I met when I first got here," she explains. "He showed me the ropes, pointed me in the right direction, and we stuck together for quite a while. We were business partners, you could say. …Maybe he saw me as more than that." She shrugs. "I always thought there was something strange about him. Very ambitious. Always said he'd conquer the world some day. I just saw it as a pipe dream of his."
"One day, we were coming back from a looting expedition way up north, and we got jumped by a bunch of Prowlers. I made it out in one piece. He didn't. Got ripped real bad. I carried him as far as I could, but I just couldn't anymore. We would've both frozen to death if I'd kept carrying him. I had to leave him, and… well… I guess he's mad because I took his share off of him. The dead don't need treasures, way I see it. Never in my life thought I'd see him again, but here we are." She takes another sip of tea.>>701804>>701805
"If yer any good at scoutin'," he suggests, "ye could go have a look-see around the woods. I tried meself, but I'm no ranger. Got lost for about a day, didn't find nothin' either.">>701806
She looks surprised. "'Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning'. Thou shalt know thine contact by their response. If they say this, they are the one. Aha!" She pulls out a foul looking stone shaped object from one of her shelves and starts grinding it into a paste with a mortar and pestle. "Do this for us - myself, and my master - and he will see to it that thou'rt rewarded. Not in gold, but with an object most wondrous. He has a way of granting boons to those who assist him."
I give her a small, slightly forced smile and nod. "Yes, I've spoken with him once before. Helped him once before too, actually." I gulp and cringe a little as I watch her grind the thing. "So, uh, that's going to help disinfect and heal his wounds?" I clear my throat. "How much is this service going to cost me?"
"Ah, very true! We've time yet before nightfall, we might as well take a look while the room is prepared."
taking my leave, i head towards the treeline the goat indicated, searching for any sign of hoofprints as i go.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 8 = 8
"I imagine we can give it a shot- I'm more at home in the desert, but I can probably find my way around the forest pretty well…">Search, preferably for hoofprints, or anything that looks out of place [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"We met ze drake earlier today, he may have told uz ze ztory but I hadn't heard it from you bezidez aloof ztuff. You talk about being a liability, but I don't zee how zhat'z ze caze. All you've done iz help uz, and even your 'enemy' wazn't your fault, he waz irrational."
She offers to fill Violet's cup again, doing the same for her own after finishing the rest of her own cup,
"I don't get what ze crozz you have to bear iz. We all have miztakez, but none are damning. No one iz hopelezz."
"Well, I have questions," Hermodur answers her.
"I've been told you are a Balaur trainer. I was hoping you could share some of your expertise. Particularly on how to track one down."
[1d10] for starting off on the right foot!Roll #1 2 = 2
"Oh? Thou knowest the master?" She doesn't look up from her task as she speaks. "He can be a little… overbearing to some, but we have formed a firm alliance. For those with an open mind, the master can teach many things."
"Hm? Oh, for this, it is no charge. Thou art not the patient, after all. If thou seekest treatment for thine own injuries, however, that will cost, depending on their severity." She pauses a brief moment to look you up and down, then keeps grinding the bezoar. "For those, we would charge 25 bits.">>701809>>701810
You head up into the trees and start looking around. You have to be careful not to go too far in; Ricard was right, and it is indeed easy to get lost in this place. You catch a faint foul smell of rotting meat, but apart from that, you can't find anything out of the ordinary.>>701811
"Yeah. I suppose you're right." She stares into the tea for a while. "I just don't want anyone getting hurt because of me. Even if it isn't my fault Lysander's on our case, he's still dangerous. It's me he was after, not you guys."
"Still. What's done is done. Nothing much we can do now but wait and see what happens next. Hopefully that seal breaking spell will work out.">>701812
"That I am." Linde has a very posh accent. "I train them and sell them. They make for good pets, if you have the stomach for them. It's entirely possible this Beast is one of mine, but that wouldn't be my fault, it'd be the customer's. I shouldn't even be here. My beasts are starving!"
"If you're looking to track the Beast I'll tell you what I told everyone else. They favor damp places out in the wild. Anywhere there's a water source nearby. They're amphibious, you know. I'd bet my bottom dollar it's taken up refuge in the sewers somewhere, and uses them to navigate the town. I would try to lure it out with some bait, although… it's developed a taste for living flesh, from the sounds of it. Make of that what you will."
I look down at my wounds and grimace. Yeah, I probably should do something about those. Maybe Zunden's healing thing will help. I close my eyes and focus on expending the healing sun. Looking back up at Carnifex, I knit my brow. "You can't really charge him, though. I'm certain enough he probably doesn't have anything. Or at least not enough."
"Interesting… I've been told that they eat anything. But, is there any specific creatures you've found that they prefer?"
"Goodness, he certainly wasn't exaggerating when he mentioned the forest being this dense.."
finding an open space in the treeline, i take flight, in an attempt to see if a structure is hidden among the growth!"
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 7 = 7
"Mmm… hmm. This is for sure different from a desert." the stallion says, at a bit of a loss.
"I can definitely smell some rotting meat, though… I guess the zombies idle here in the day?"
"Quite possibly, though it is
hard to tell."
"I'm going to try and fly above the treeline here, perhaps that may prove more fruitful." i mention as i try and find a break to fly through. "Do be careful not to get lost, dear."
"Not after today he izn't."
"But zhat iz a ztupid reazon to leave, I know zhiz from exzperience. 'I don't want anyone getting hurt because of me?' I had zhat going through my head while we were in ze dezert. I wazn't healing, people were getting hurt, I blamed myzelf. No one iz getting hurt becauze
of you, zhey chooze to travel alongzide you. If we get hurt, we get hurt togezher. It iz a toxic zentiment zhat civilization haz pazzed on. Ze culture iz wrong, everyone experienzez hardzhip, but it'z not zuppozed to be a zomezhing you have to do zolo. If I waz to deci-"
Zunden cuts herself off from talking to long, chuckling as she realized how heated she getting over a tangent,
"Zorry, I am a zilly lizard. I juzt don't like people blaming zhemzelvez for uncontrollable eventz. I am no zychologizt, I juzt look at picturez on cardz and uze zhem to help people apply meaning to zheir livez. I have no power zhere, it'z juzt zhat people want direction."
You heal your wounds with the sun. Carnifex looks impressed. "Powerful healing magic, thou hast. Curious…"
She looks down at the hobo and nods. "Forsooth. Thou'rt a kindly soul to pay for his wounds. I would charge the same price I would have charged thee." Satisfied with the consistency of the bezoar, she starts scooping out the paste by hand and mixing it in a bowl with a vial of sickly lime green liquid. It smells like boiling sprouts.>>701815
"In the wild? Smaller animals, mostly. Mosscats, fish, sometimes Tyruxi. Mushrooms are a favorite of theirs as well. Oftentimes they group together in packs and hunt down larger beasts such as Indirae or Orchard Keepers. I imagine this particular balaur is large enough to do the work of an entire pack on its own.">>701816
You can see a small, seemingly abandoned campsite in a clearing deeper in the woods. It looks almost entirely reclaimed by the surrounding forest.>>701819
She listens quietly to what you have to say, nodding and steeling herself. "Yeah. You're right, again," she says with a soft smile. "I shouldn't blame myself. Whatever happens, happens. …I'm… I'm glad to be traveling with you. With all of you, really. You have a heart of gold, Zunden. Don't let anyone take it from you." She drifts off, lost in thought for a moment. "Anyway. What comes next? Assuming we break the seal, and help out the Beldam, where do we go from there?"
Well, 25 bits. That's not as bad as I expected. Still, I'm not so sure I can be called a 'kindly soul' for paying to get his wounds healed when I'm the one that caused them. I look away sheepishly. That's like knocking a vase on the ground and being told you're a good person for cleaning it up. I pull the bits out and quietly wait and watch. I can't exactly just leave him here, but there's no way I'm taking him back to our boat with the others. He's one of those… uh… What'd Raff call them? Lemon junkies, I think. A real sourpuss. At least the way he was twitching and talking I could tell he was on something
. I sigh. Maybe I'll pay for another night at the inn. There was a cheaper one, though, wasn't there? Probably a better option.
Spying the campsite, i land as near as i can, before crouching down to hide among the trees on the approach.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 10 = 10
"Ehehehe… I'll try, at least." the stallion says, trying to look around and get a gauge for where that smell might be coming from>Can you even roll to sniff? [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Thank you," Hermodur says with a nod. "I'll have this mess sorted out. Then, with any luck, you'll be set free."
Hermodur turns back to the guard. "I have one last question for your captain, if you wouldn't mind."
"Do not zay i'm right, I don't like claiming to be to come up wizh ze ideaz zhat people already know. I juzt know it'z hard to argue wizh Anguizh. It iz ze darknezz zhat waitz to fill ze room at ze zlightezt guzt againzt a candle'z wick."
Zunden giggles, adding,
"Remind me not ever try poetry. I'll ztick to ze miztique of ze Arcana."
"Well it zoundz like what a good bit of ze group would like to do iz leave ze Echoez. It'z a lofty idea, but I zhink it'z a good quezt. Zomezhing vague for uz to ztrive for, while keeping eachozher company and protecting eachozher in the meantime. Money helpz wizh zhat, zo of courze ze odd job along ze way or to. Iz zhere any ozher planning zhat zuch a plan would need?"
She takes the bits without another word. Her claws are all grubby with bezoar paste. You watch as she stirs the liquid and the paste together, adding a pinch of some strange herbs almost as garnishing. When she's satisfied with the consistency, Carnifex takes a wooden spoon, scoops up some of the mixture and moves over to his wounds. She goes to administer the vile substance, but pauses as she sees him start to come to. "Restrain him for us, if it please thee. For his own sake.">>701822
You hide as you approach the campsite. It doesn't look like anyone's home, though, overgrown and abandoned as it is. There are the remains of a long snuffed campfire, and a ragged old tent torn apart by time.>>701823
You start following the vile smell. It leads you past the long-abandoned campsite and towards what looks like a set of vine-covered graves nearby. It doesn't take a detective to see they've been disturbed recently; in fact, they have all been dug up, and the graves are empty, with the only trace of their occupants being the vague lingering smell of death.>>701824
Linde nods and goes back to sulking.
"Right this way, please," the guard says as he goose steps back towards the captain's office. He takes you back, where you find Captain Fergal poring over the scroll concerning the Beast. "Yes? What is it?">>701825
She chuckles. "It's okay. I'm no good at poetry either. I've tried before but I can only ever write doggerel. Not even good doggerel at that."
"Well, we'd have to find a way out of here first," she shrugs. "Hopefully one that doesn't involve making a pact with an ancient chaos god. That being said. Whatever he is, he doesn't seem anywhere near as dangerous as the legends said. …Anyway, I'm not even sure I want to leave the Echoes. There's not much for me back home. I never really started a family of my own, and I didn't really make friends easily. If anything, coming here's been like a second chance, the way I see it. What about you? Do you miss your home?"
"Where do the sewers dump out of the city?"
I grit my teeth and look back and forth between her an the felid. Restrain him? Will it be that bad? I set my cage down, nod, and walk over to him, holding him down. "It'll be over soon, buddy," I whisper, not entirely sure why I feel the need to reassure him.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Hrm… well, we know where they came from, at least… I wonder if they're still around."
Relaxing my guard at the empty camp, i set about searching through the area.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 1 = 1
Zunden holds her tongue, emptying her cup as she thinks of a responce,
"Have yet to dezide, and I zhink I will not zhink one way or anozher about leaving until I'm at whatever ancient magic would be ready to wizk uz back."
She gazes past Violet,
"Home iz a ztrange conzept for me. I waz born to nomadz, zo home waz ze people zhat were zhere no matter where you went. I lozt zhat home to a plague."
Zunden takes a deep breath, continuing,
"Ze boarding houze too wazn't zomezhing I waz attached to. It protected me from rain and allowed me to help ozherz. I heard from my zell before being banizhed zhat it had been torched by eizher guardz or a gang or zomeone leaving a ztove on. I worry for zhoze who lived, zhere zhough, zure. I took in children wizhout parentz, ze zick and lame. I hope zhat zhey are okay."
she sighs leaning back in her chair, closing her eyes.
"But I am not zheir mozher, and one cannot be coddled zheir whole life. I merely wanted to provide zhem rezpite before ze next journiez of zheir life. Zhey now begin a new chapter, and zo do I. Zo what comez next? I do not know. I can only truely know ze pazt and prezent, and apply zhat to ze future. Zhat iz ze way of ze Arcana."
She keeps her eyes closed, remaining quiet for a good half minute before speaking up,
"But az for not wanting to leave to leave? Who zaid a journey haz to have a deztination anywayz. Maybe we find a plaze to ztop along ze way, find zhat 'zecond chanze' zhere. Only wrong zhing to do iz zit on our handz, errr, hoovez."
He consults the map. "Hmm. Most of them finish over in the Downs, opening to the river itself. If you're looking to go exploring there, you'd do best to try one of the entrances there. Be warned though. The Downs are a maze, and filled with all sorts of lowlifes. And the sewers are even worse. You'd need someone that knows their way around that area.">>701828>>701829
As you hold him down, Carnifex gives you a countdown before starting to smear the substance. Almost instantly, the hobo cries out in pain, kicking and screaming like a man possessed. "'Tis just a sting, child," Carnifex says irritably as she continues to administer her medicine, quite unperturbed by his display. She treats not only the wounds received from your rats, but other wounds he's accumulated through rough living as well. After a while, he stops thrashing and flailing, and passes out again, slumping onto the table. "He shall live," Carnifex says simply. "Now then. Was there anything thou requireth?">>701830>>701831>>701832
You start scouring the area, but much to your chagrin, the zombles are nowhere to be seen. It is as if they vanished into thin air. Rabi, however, being more attuned with magic, senses something that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, some sort of unseen magical force present in the area.>>701833
"That's a good attitude," she answers. "More about the journey than the destination. I like that."
"Tell me more about this boarding house. What sort of clients did you get? I imagine you see all sorts passing through there."
"I see… Thank you. Worry not. This Beast of Braildorne will soon be no more. Best of luck in your duties, sir. I will be off now."
Hermodur heads back to the ship.
I clench my teeth as he screams and flails, reminding myself that this is for his own good. As he passes out I let out a sigh of relief. Looking up at her, I shake my head. "No, thank you. I think that about covers it. Western gate. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Bring the ingredient back. Got it." I look down at the felid, not looking forward to dragging him back into town. "Well," I say. "I guess I'd better get a move on if I want to get back before nightfall." I gesture to the felid. "And thank you, for- well. You know. Helping."
Picking my cage up, I hoist the smelly cat's arm over my neck and lift him up, heading back towards town and where I can hopefully remember where that cheaper tavern was.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"It waz ze manifeztation of a promize I made to my matriarch to help zhoze who had not yet ro realize zheir deztiny. Ze rezidentz were zo diverze, it'z like you took ze whole Dominion and zquazhed it into one building. Mozt people ztayed a monzh or zo at a time, but we had over zhree dozen more or lezz permament rezidentz az well. It waz hard at firzt to lay down ze rulez I had for ze location, but az more permamentz came and grew to underztand what my goal waz, I got more help. I bazically had unpaid bounzerz keeping troublemakerz out wizhout me having to zay a word."
The saurian smiles as she remineces,
"It waz much like ze Echoez even before I came here. Lot of former and active criminalz, putting azide zhat lifeztyle when zhey walked zhrough ze doorz. Even had warring gangz zleep next to eachozher at one point, 'Ze zaur'z home iz off limitz'
they'd zay to eachozher, it made me happy. Courze, zhere waz zheir bad applez. I've been ztabbed, choked, clawed, bit in zhoze allywayz. I zhank my tribe for my zhick zcalez and I zhank my friendz zhere for keeping me zafe. It'z why I know zo much about wound care."
"Mm, nothing. Well, i suppose that would be a better outcome than a hoard of undead, yes?">>701832
"Find anything of note, dear?"
"Oh… hmm. We're not alone here, that's for sure. It's something magical… maybe I should try going on a little astral trip, and see if I can see it there?"
"Oh! Excellent idea, Rabi."
"Find a spot to sit down, i'll keep watch for physical threats, you focus on the magical ones."
"Mhm. Good hunting," he says stiffly, then starts to question the guard about something else.
You make your way back to the ship. It's still there, and in quite serviceable condition. It doesn't look like any of your companions have returned yet, however, giving you ample time to look around and explore the ship if you wish.>>701836>>701837
"Farewell, Norvegicus. We await thine safe return."
You start trying to carry the helpless junkie, but the combined exhaustion of getting mugged, carrying him to Carnifex, and having to restrain him during the whole bloody affair leaves you exhausted. You can't carry him any further, and are forced to leave him near the Den.>>701838
"Hm. There always are, aren't there," she muses. "One thing I've learned while adventuring, is that some people are just irredeemably evil. No one can help them, not even themselves. They're just rotten to the core. …Surprisingly, I haven't met many of those people here in the prison dimension. You'd think it'd be a hive of villainy, but I find it rather pleasant here. When something's not trying to murder you that is. Hehe.">>701840
You exit into your astral form and start looking around. Your senses are heightened in this form, and you can feel traces of magic that lead you through the woods, almost like a breadcrumb trail. It takes you some time, but you eventually follow it all the way to the other end of the forest, where a second farm can be found. It looks rather poorly, and is much, much smaller than Ricard's.
I groan as I realize I can't even get him out of the downs. I stop for a minute to catch my breath, dropping my cage on the ground to give myself a place to sit. Probably should just take him to the inn here and forget about him. After catching my breath, I decide to do exactly that, hoping that in my preoccupied state some other wise guy doesn't get the idea to try and mug me.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"I don't like having to aczept zhat, but zome people have forced me to in ze pazt."
Zunden's brows furrow, before chuckling,
"And yez, I firmly believe people only do ze bad zhingz zhey do becauze of ze reztrictionz of zociety and law. Zhey become outcaztz becauze zociety caztz zhem out firzt, it'z a zelf-fufilling prophezy. You give zhem a home, food, and a ztable life - az I've learned - and zhat 'villainy' goez. People juzt want to be treated az equalz. Zhame zhoze here have to be banizhed to anozher dimenzion to finally experienze zhat."
Seeing The coltfriend slump over as the spell takes hold, i take a seat next to his body, keeping a watchful eye on our surroundings.
[1d10] Watch keepingRoll #1 6 = 6
"Thanks, Silvy. I'll come back as soon as I find something good… or if I find nothing, I guess." he says, taking a seat by a tree and trying to relax…>>701842"Hrm… well, there was something. Neat." the stallion notes, 'talking' along after the trail. It looks like it's a tad too convenient, so the stallion stays on guard. He hasn't really… practiced… but, maybe he can try lobbing out a bolt of magic if needbe. Regardless, he floats along to the farm and tries to keep an eye out.>[1d10] what the fuck's in the spirit world anywaysRoll #1 10 = 10
You take a breather before carrying him in a fireman's lift all the way to the Happy Minotaur. The smell is unbearable, but you power through it, eventually leaving him at the door of the inn. After a moment it creaks open, and a large, extremely surly looking minotaur pokes his head out, looking first at him, then at you questioningly.>>701844
She nods thoughtfully. "As awful as some of the convictions are, I think the Echoes work, in a way. It gives people a second chance, you know? It's hard living, but we've made it a new home, such as it is. Of course, some never grasp that and just stay rotten, but others, they try to make amends. A lot of 'em do, really. We all have our baggage, our reasons for being here. In some way, for a lot of people, this is a shot at redemption.">>701845
You keep watch. Nothing much eventful happens, for now.>>701847
This second, poorly looking farm seems to be inhabited, judging from the smoke coming from the main house. Unlike Ricard's, the crops seem to be doing well, despite the overall inferiority of the estate. You can also sense heavy traces of magic lingering around it. Whoever lives here, they clearly have skill in the arcane arts.
"Zure, zure, but ze conzept iz ztill flawed. Even if zomeone fully turnz heel on zheir former evil or wrongdoing here, zhey will never be return to family or loved onez. It iz an act of permanent unforgivenezz, never azzepting zhat zhey would be fit to live amongzt zociety ever again."
Continuing the vigil, i lean against my comatose love, sighing as i idly listening for movement.
I stop for a second to catch my breath before giving the big guy a sheepish smile. "I, uh… Wanted to maybe rent a room for the night?" I nod toward the felid. "For this guy. And leave a message for him. And maybe set him up with a meal in the morning if that's possible." I crinkle my nose. "And a shower. I feel like I'm about to lose my sense of smell."
"Yeah… I guess you're right. I hadn't thought of that." There is a slightly awkward silence. "Still, there's got to be a way home, right? I don't know if I'd take it, but it can't be impossible to find a way back. I didn't really have much back home, so to me it wasn't really a big change, coming down here."
"What about you? Do you have anyone back home?">>702121
You move closer to the house, floating in through an open window. At first it looks like a relatively normal little cabin; then you notice the odd tomes lying about, the strange bottles with gruesome looking ingredients preserved within, and the sinister symbols drawn onto the ground in places. The house is inhabited by a bat pony, currently fast asleep.>>702123
The minotaur thinks for a good long while, then just grunts as he grabs the Felid by the scruff of the neck with one swift movement, pulls him inside and closes the door on you. It seems that's a no to the shower.
"Shouldn't I-" I stand there, stunned as the door shuts in my face. I was going to tell him I was going to be back the next day to talk to him, but I guess that's not happening. "pay…" I dumbly finish. If he doesn't answer the door again then I turn and head back to town. I need a drink.
Between the events of the day and the wait, i start to nod off, shutting my eyes as i continue the wait for Rabi.
"Az I zaid, it zertainly makez for an interezting quezt, pozzible or not. Az for people back at ze boarding houze? Zhey would have eizher zcattered or ended up here in ze Echoez az fellow 'terroriztz'."
After a minute, you hear thumping footsteps, and a big, hairy hand pops through the door expectantly. "Fifty," he thunders from behind it.>>702126>>702127
Rabi rejoins the world of the living, feeling somewhat dizzy but overall in good shape.>>702128
"Hm. So no family around? Mine are either gone or not worth contacting, for what it's worth." She orders herself another beer. "You want one?"
I jump back and raise my hands defensively. Slowly, to show I'm just paying him, I pull out fifty bits. I can't believed I'm letting myself get robbed by this guy even after I stopped him from mugging me. After paying him I leave.
Feeling Rabi stir, i perk up enough to cuddle into him. "Finally back, dear? How did it go?"
"Ah, geez… that's gonna take some getting used to. And, it went well, Silvy. I think I know what's happening… I think the zombies are a distraction. There's a decrepit farmhouse, surrounded by very, very well-off crops. In addition, the whole place, including the farmhouse is laced with magic. It looked like he had a ritual circle in his house, too."
"My tribe waz ztubborn, even az zhey fazed deazh zhoze zhat weren't bedridden ztayed zhere, tending to ze zick. Myzelf included too, if not for ze matriarch telling me to not doom myzelf to ze zame fate az ze rezt of zhem."
She says a bit detached, tuning out for a moment before looking to Violet confused,
"Family or beer?"
"A ritual circle? My, so it's either that may be what raises so many dead, or he's planning on using it for something more nefarious.. What would you suggest? Should we confront him while his dead are still dead?"
The cuddle is returned immediately, of course.
He closes his fist and retracts the hand. You hear him counting under his breath, then he just grunts and closes the door again.>-50 bits
You start heading out of the Downs and making your way back across town to the Old Familiar.>>702133
She lets out a short bark of a laugh. "Ha! Both I guess. But seriously, you want a drink or not?">>702130>>702133
Violet looks rather stony as Norv walks in looking beaten and worn, and smelling like a hobo. "…What the hell happened to you?" she asks bluntly.
I don't answer right away, instead setting my cage on the ground, unsommoning my rats, and looking up at whatever barmaid is around. "Can I get a Manhattan please?" I brush the fur on the top of my head back and go to talk to Violet, but look back to the barmaid instead. "A double!" Sighing, I lean on the table, exhausted from the day that never seems like it's going to end. Finally, I look up at Violet, notice her expression, and freeze. "Did you guys want something?" I shake my head. "Anyway, it's been a long day. Want the details or the highlights?"
"I think that'd be a safe bet, actually. He was sleeping, so if we hurry, we'll have the drop on him. We can figure out why his crops are doing so well, too."
"Right, lead the way, dear! Once we get close i'll try to sneak in." i reply, nodding determinedly.
Zunden chuckles as well, clearing her throat,
"Yeah, I zuppoze zo. To ze drin-">>702137
"Did you go out to do ze job by yourzelf? You look terrible, and you've had to heal yourzelf…"
Zunden takes her staff and channels some magic, floating another orb to hang over Norvegicus,
"Zit down, we were ordering drinkz."
"I didn't do the job, but I talked to the job giver person. Carnifex. She said we're supposed to meet someone tomorrow, give them a code, and then just kinda take the package to her." I shake my head. "Nah, the healing was for something different."
Following behind Rabi, I make my way with him towards the farm, keeping an eye on our surroundings.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
"Just be ready to bolt- I didn't see any of the undead myself." he says, pulling her up on to her hooves (and into a hug) before moving onwards>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
One of the barmaids, a gangly, buck-toothed young mare, nods and goes to prepare the drinks.
"Lay it on me," says Violet. "Did you go panhandling or something? You look crap enough to pass for a beggar.">>702137>>702140
The drinks come out surprisingly fast, presumably due to lack of other customers: two frothing mugs of beer for Violet and Zunden, and an extra strong Manehattan cocktail for Norv. Violet nods in thanks and pays for all three.>>702141
She wrinkles her snout. "Carnifex. Yeah, we've met. She's kind of a bitch, but at least she's not Pudding." She gives you an odd look, but doesn't really elaborate.>>702138>>702139>>702142>>702143
You move onwards toward the tiny little farm. As you do so, you notice - moments too late - that there is a very faint, nigh-imperceptible glimmer on the ground surrounding the farmland, forming a border. As you step across the threshold, an ear-piercing shriek sounds out, like a yowling cat. It pierces your eardrums, painful like nails on a chalkboard. As the shrieking starts, black shadows begin to bubble around you, with several decaying, rotted limbs starting to claw out of them, pulling themselves out of the ground. The shrieking alarm sound does not let up as you find yourselves surrounded by five shambling undead of various races and in varying states of decay. They are very clearly unfriendly, unlike Ricard's experience. Two of them, a skeletal griffon and a rotting earth pony respectively, lurch towards you in turn, clawing at you.
[1d10] vs Silver
[1d10] vs RabiRoll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
Zunden takes the drink, sipping it as she looks to Norvegicus,
"Pleaze, elaborate if you will."
Folding my ears back in pain, i draw my shivs to try and fend off my attacker!
"There was a trap?! Ohh i knew this was too simple!"
[1d10] Melee, GriffonRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
"Gah, shoulda known!" The stallion shouts, springing back and firing off a bright arrow at the animated pony corpse.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] (Light Element)Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
I cringe at the sting of being told I look like a beggar, even though I know that's not how she meant me to take it. Picking up the glass, I take a long sip, shiver, and set the glass back down. "She seemed weird, but at least she healed the guy that mugged me for pretty cheap." I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and decide to start at the beginning.
"This morning I wake up feeling like I was brained by an iron club with a hangover the likes of which I've never felt in my life because of drinking an amount no mortal should probably ever ingest. I stumble down the stairs, happy to see you're back and instead of going with everyone else I decide to stay with you and catch up. You look like you had a hell of a night so I want to make sure you're okay. After maybe ten or fifteen minutes I figure out that 'hey. This isn't my
Violet, and this guy is doing a really shitty job impersonsting her." I take another sip of my drink, set it down, and slide it away from me a bit to try and pace myself. "So I lead him upstairs under the guise of giving 'you' my money to hang on to, because I figure 'hey. He'll probably jump at the chance to keep it if he can.' Drop the bits in his hand and then boom-" I slam my fist into my open palm for emphasis. "Sucker punch him right in the kisser. He doesn't go down long enough for me to grill him, though. No. I have to chase the guy halfway across the city before finally tackling him, lying to some guards about what I plan to do with him, and carry him back."
I scratch my chin. "Actually it's kind of funny, because that's not even the only time I carried someone I knocked out today." I lean forward on the table. "Oh, I'll get to that, though. So I get him back here, take him up to my room, tie him up, and convince the guy I'm going to feed him to my rats." I stop talking, realizing I'm breathing heavy. I try to regain my composure and continue. "For faulty information. Oh, but it's okay, because the guy is freaking dead
now because of it. So we have to do some running around all over the city trying to get some info on where you might be before one of us remembers 'oh, hey, we have a thing that keeps us from needing to do that'. So we follow it across town to the docks, and find Lysander's ship. We try to hop on, but it doesn't happen. So, for the second time today, I sucker punch a guy, get the piss kicked out of me, before finally helping save Aurora by choking a guy out. All while still feeling the effects of my hangover, mind you. It's only then that finally we go below deck and find you chained up. Kind of adorably I might add." I chuckle. "You were so happy to see us." I clear my throat and sip my drink. "Anyway, I guess that's about when everything catches up with me, because I apparently passed the hell out and missed the whole confrontation with the actual guy."
My breathing is heavy, and my cheeks are a little red. I decide to take a second to let everything sink in. "And that was just my morning."
The skeleton overpowers you, clawing at you with surprising strength and knocking you to the ground.>Silver takes 5 hits, helpless>>702147
The zombie manages to graze you. You back away and nock a glowing arrow. It strikes true, disintegrating the undead on impact. You see the bubbling shadows they crawled from begin to spread, collecting the undead's remains and drawing them back in.>Rabi takes 1 hit>>702148
She looks surprised. "You… You really did that? Chased some guy down all the way across town and grilled him for info? That's… that's pretty crazy."
"I saw him go for it," Chardonnay says in passing. "It was kind of impressive."
Violet continues to listen patiently, looking both sympathetic and impressed. "Just another day in the Echoes, huh. I didn't really stop to think how full on today's been. For everyone, really. …Who are you calling adorable?" You can't tell whether she's actually offended or just pretending.
thrown onto the ground, i try to get back onto my hooves!
[1d10] Recover!Roll #1 10 = 10
Zunden nods along, sipping her beer.
Rabi takes note of the fact that it seems to be slowly drawing together, but can't help but be angered at the other skeleton. He lets out a snarl, and flings a bolt of flame at the griffon>Magic Bolt: [1d10+2] (Fire)Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
I laugh, a little surprised at Chardonnay chiming in. Nice to have a witness. "Yeah. It was terrifying, buy I did it. Besides, it was to help you, so that made it a little easier. Your eye looks really good, by the way. I told 'you' that this morning, but I don't guess you'd have remembered." I wink, give her a small, sly smile, and continue.
"Oh, but that's not all. So we get back to shore, I pay Hadrian so I don't risk getting robbed, and then decide I want to head to the downs to see it maybe I can help out some how. Stop in this creepy church at the very end of their sermon. Meet a nice guy named Raff who shows me around the place. Oh, I think I know where to look for BoB when we get to it."
I take another drink and bury my face in my paws. "So one of the things Raff shows me is the gambling hall. I try to resist, but I can't help dropping in. Oh, Rosen and Glider are in town too. So that's kind of neat. Beat Rosen and a couple of others at Liars Dice again, and then decide to hit the poker table for a bit. Almost get cleaned out but manage a lucky break. I swear, with the trash hands that Zebra was playing he had to have god-like luck. In the end I manage to win and walk away with more than I went in with." I turn to Zunden. "Here's where we get to the answer to your question. I also found where Carnifex lives and decide I'll ask about the job while I'm nearby. On the way this felid -who I'm pretty sure was on something. I think Raff called them Lemon Junkies or something.- jumps me. I fight back, get cut and stabbed in the stomach, and then let my rats out. They maul the guy. Like, tear him apart. I have to almost force them away. So he runs away, but I know how nasty rat bies get so I follow him, carry him ton carnifex, pay her to heal him while I ask about the job, and then get him a room at the something or other minotaur. Some in down there."
I exhale and lean back in my chair, finally finished. "Then I came back here, sat down, ordered a drink, and told you two about my day.'
"…Lemon Junkiez? You were attacked by drug uzerz? Do you zhink zhey are after ze package we'll be delivering later?"
She asks, concerned,
"I am glad you helped ze perzon, zhough. Dying in ze ztreetz iz a terrible way to go."
You get back up in one swift motion, ready to keep fighting.>>702152
Your firebolt misses.
The griffon skelet claws at you, while one of the other three, a larger than average saurian, shambles towards Silver and swipes at her.
The door of the farmhouse opens and the bat pony bursts out, looking livid. His hooves are glowing with dark energy. "Trespassers!" he yells at you. "Get outta here!">>702153
She looks flattered. "It's just an eye," she says modestly. "Compliments should go to Zunden for it, not me."
She drinks and listens as you recount your adventure in the Downs. "Lumen," she corrects you. "I've heard of it. It's a sort of magic light. They bathe in it. I don't know what it does, but they can't get enough of it."
She winces at the description of what happened to the junkie, listening quietly to the rest of your story. "Wow. Good on you," she says soberly. "Most would have just left him there. Zunden's right. That's no way to die." You seem to have given her some food for thought, as she nurses her drink, drifting off for a moment.Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
I cradle my cup in my hands and look down at it. "Yeah," I say. "I know. And I don't know. I think he just saw me leaving the gambling hall and decided I was an easy mark with some money worth mugging for. It was before I visited her, so he probably didn't think I had anything."
"The skeletons are going to keep reforming, we need to find a way to stop this! M-Maybe you can talk him down and we can see what we can do from there?"
Right. Lumin. Duh. I mentally slap my forehead. I figured lemon sounded silly.
I breathe a contented sigh, relax some, and sip my third-of-the-way-through drink. That was kinda cathartic. "So anyway, you guys just been hanging around here? Anything on your minds or agenda? I don't think I've gotten myself into enough trouble yet."
"I suppose it could work!">>702155
"Would you kindly call off your undead for a moment? We just came here to talk!" i call out mid dodge, avoiding the saurian's grasping claws.
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"Magic light? Tell me more. How can one become addicted to… light?"
You try to avoid the griffon but it gives you a good rake across the leg.>-1 hit>>702159
He stares down at you judgingly, then raises his hoof. The cat shrieking stops, and the undead back away for a moment. "What do you want?" he says suspiciously, eyeballing you from his vantage point above you. "You're not meant to be here. This is private property.">>702158
"Yeah. Silver, Rabi and Hermodur are off doing other stuff. So is Aurora, think she went for a walk. We've just been here chatting, really. About, uh, what I missed last night." She lets that hang, failing to elaborate.>>702160
"Some sort of magic effect it has on your brain. I don't know. I don't touch that stuff. I think it's a phenomenon that only exists here in the Echoes, because I never heard of it back home." She shrugs.
I tense as she mentions last night. Slowly, I sip my drink. "Right," I say, more than a little awkwardly. "Last night was, uh… Something. Wish you were there, but I guess you were a little-" I clear my throat and dumbly continue. "Tied up."
With the undead retreating, i sheath my shivs and sigh.
"We were hired by a farmer down the hill to investigate the mob of undead wandering into his fields. My companion and I tracked the magic to this Farmhouse, intent on speaking with you, before we triggered a warding spell."
"Would you be willing to explain the situation? I'm sure we'd all prefer avoiding the effort of fighting, correct?"
Zunden snorts mid-drink upon hearing 'tied', the frothy beer coming up her nose somewhat.
, had to zneeze."
Rabi winces from the swipe, but it's not much of a problem. He nods in agreement with Silver, intending to let her handle the talking in a tense situation like this.
She shrugs, looking blank. "Hey. It's your choice. Don't see why it would've been different if I were there.">>702163>>702165
He gives you a frigid look. "You don't want any part of this," he says evasively. "Not your business. Now get lost or I'll sic 'em on you.">>702164
Violet looks concerned. "You okay there?"
"Fine, juzt a zneeze I azzure you. I could help up to bed if you two wanted to talk, I've been chatting wizh you for what, a few hourz now?"
"We're just concerned. His crops are dying, and we wanted to figure things out."
"Oh, come now, The two of us here would certainly like to help. Aside from the scuffle just now the undead have been largely passive, leading me to believe you aren't just after the Goat's blood. Perhaps we could help clear whatever may be going on?"
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
I sigh and slowly twirl my drink. I take a gulp of it, putting it at about half through, and slam it down. Scratching the back of my head in frustation, I sit up a little straighter. "Damn it, this is something we need to talk about." I look up at Violet, locking eyes with her. My heart slams against the inside of my chest, and in the back of my mind I know I should quit while I'm ahead. Still, especially after Violet being kidnapped, Aurora's words ring louder. "It would have mattered because I would have been paying more attention to you. I like you. A lot, actually. I think you're amazing, and even though I have a hundred excuses -I had 12 shots of Brandy, I was feeling vulnerable and kind of depressed, she made me feel like I was actually someone worth flirting with- it still feels like, even though I haven't actually said anything until now, I betrayed your trust somehow."
I groan. "And I know maybe that's silly, but that thought probably bothered me more today than being stabbed."
I laugh. "And now her and Rabi are actually a thing. Gotta say, I commend the guy. I don't think I'd have it in me to look past that, let alone not punch my lights out."
She shrugs. "If you want. Is it really that late already? Feels like it's only been a few minutes." She looks outside; it is indeed already getting dark. "Huh. Could've sworn it was earlier.">>702168>>702169
A shadow of a doubt passes over the sorcerous farmer's face. He changes from angry and defiant, to hesitant, and ashamed. Even frightened. "I…" He flies down to eye level. "…Look. I can't stop it. Even if I tried. I… I can't tell you who's making me do it, he'll kill me, or worse. Don't… I… I never wanted to hurt his livelihood. I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do about it anymore. It…" He seems to reconsider his own words, steeling himself. "…It's the Oneiromancer. Across the river. He's making me do it. He wants to poison the land. I'm just the start of it. …Gods, what have I gotten myself into… Just go. Tell Ricard that Algol did it. They'll take me away, I'm sure. Better that than end up at the mercy of him." He can't seem to look you in the eye. "…Leave me be.">>702170
She pauses mid drink, looking at you with an odd glint in her eye. She puts down the drink, a smile on her face. "…Well. It's about time," she smirks. "I… I like you as well, Norv." She doesn't seem to know what else to say. "…Even when everyone else is bigger than you, or stronger, you always pull through. You went through hell today, just… Just to save me…" She's at a loss for words, looking a little flushed. She hastily takes another swig of beer.
I ease into my seat and relax a little. There's a lot less yelling than I expected. "Wait, what?" I ask. There's no way it was that easy the whole time. I try to keep myself from getting too excited. "Seriously? You're not mad? I might pull through, but 90% of the time it's because of you guys. I screw up. A lot." I run my finger along the rim of my glass. "And I'm starting to think I'm a little impulsive."
Zunden remains quiet, hating to be a third wheel.
"Oh my, it seems this is much bigger than we thought.."
seeing the bat stand there defeated, i rack my brain for something to console him with.
"You need not say more, Algol. We'll send for the guard to get you away to safety, with mention of your actions being forced. I'm sure that given the situation they should understand your predicament."
With that, i motion for Rabi to follow as i start the trek back to Ricard's farm.
"Yeah. Heck, if we can, we'll try to put a stop to this… Oneiromancer. A Dream mage? Huh. Regardless, we'll make sure they aren't too harsh on you."
"Hey," she says, reassuringly. "It's like Zunden said. That wasn't you. I can't control what you do anyway."
"Well then. What happens now? I'm, uh, I'm not very good with this stuff.">>702175>>702176
He just nods sullenly, dismissing the conjured corpses, breathing a sigh of defeat.
You start moving back through the woods, making your way back to the larger of the two farmsteads. Ricard is playing with the dog you saw earlier as you approach, looking up and waving at you. "Yer back! Anythin' new from up there?"
I tap the side of my glass, clearly caught off guard. That went way differently than I thought it would. "Yeah. Me neither. I've never really been in any kind of-" My voice cracks and I have to clear my throat. "Real relationship. A couple of flings back home, but I didn't expect to get this far so I don't guess I thought about what comes next. I'd guess we just… Uh… Act like normal and see where it leads?" I glance over at Zunden suddenly thinking about the fact that she's been here this whole time. I don't feel like apologizing is the right approach, but at the same time I feel a little exposed.
"So, uh… Yeah." I shrug. "See where it leads." I glance down at my glass, not entirely sure why I feel so awkward all of a sudden. I chuckle. "And I already said that."
You are currently back on board the Lady Luck, awaiting the rest of your companions. In the meantime, it occurs to you that you could explore the ship; Lysander is sure to have something of note stashed away on his personal vessel.
"We've got some good news, yeah. We found the source of your problem, and, with some work, we'll get it dealt with."
"Why yes, we've found the culprit behind all of this, a Bat Pony by the name of Algol. He was compelled to summon undead by this 'Oneironmancer' fellow working nearby, in an effort to poison the surrounding area."
"He's standing down, for now, and i would recommend bringing the guards to escort him to safety, doubtless the mage may try to do away with him, having told us their plan."
While he waits, Hermodur takes it upon himself to start searching through what was left on board the ship.
He starts his search in the captain's quarters. [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
She smiles, clearly feeling as awkward as you. "It'll work," she answers, her voice wavering a little. She looks at you, clearly wanting to say more, but she can't seem to find the right words. She tentatively leans over the table and holds your hand, looking you in the eyes. "It'll work," she says again, more confidently this time. "We'll make it work.">>702411>>702412
"Algol? The feller just o'er the hill?" He looks thunderstruck. "We always got along well. Wouldn't 'ave pinged 'im fer the magic type. That's… disturbin' ter say the least. Well, if it's dealt with it's dealt with. Thank ye kindly fer seein' to it. Don' know what I would do if ye hadn't come along."
"Ye'll be wantin' fer a reward I take it? Er, one mo'." He shuffles back into his house and comes out with a large, fat coinpurse, along with a tray of steaming cupcakes. They smell delicious. "'Ere ye go. Least I can do fer havin' ye solve this. Yer always welcome 'round these parts!">+350 bits>>702413
You go to the captain's quarters and start rifling through it. The books there seem to be primarily relating to travel around the Echoes, as well as history books detailing different cultures and historical moments back in Equestria. He seems to have an interest in collecting souvenirs from around the Echoes.
More significant, however, are the documents you find. On the desk in his quarters are a series of scrolls addressing figures referred to only by codenames. These codenames correlate with chess pieces: Lysander seems to be Black Bishop, while he seems to be in correspondence primarily with Black Queen and Black Knight. Each of these scrolls is stamped with a seal depicting some sort of bird; the species looks familiar to you, but you cannot recall what it is off the top of your head. It seems this organization, whoever they may be, are in opposition to another group who use white chess pieces as their codenames; one of them, for instance, simply states "Black Knight takes White Rook". There are also several instances of the word "Scriniarii", though its meaning is lost on you.
At first I want to ask if there's something on her mind, because she seems a little apprehensive. My beart skips as she touches my hand and that thought gets shoved right into the back of my mind. She seems just as happy about it, so that's more than enough. Looking around at everyone, I cock an eyebrow. "So, uh… I guess we're going back to the ship some time soon?" I take a drink of my cocktail and set it back on the table. "I don't know about you two, but I'm tempted to put a couple more of these in me-" I tap the rim of the glass with my claw. "So if it does end up happening it probably shouldn't happen here."
"Hmm…" Hermodur ponders as he stares at the scrolls, trying to discern from meaning from them.
The only thing he can think of as a lead is the bird. He knows he recognizes it. [1d10] to rememberRoll #1 3 = 3
"Oh! How lovely, thank you!"
strapping the bits to my side, i take a moment to unwrap one of the cupcakes, savoring the taste as i finish securing the bag.
"I'm sure the others would love to try these, it's certainly been a while since I've had a dessert."
covering my muzzle with a wing as i chew, i gesture back to the forest with the other wing.
"Now, while i'm certain he won't cause issue, for now, we really should send for the guards, if only to make sure he's taken to safety. By the sound of things the Oneironmancer is one to not trifle with."
"Huh? O-Oh, thank you. The food's definitely welcomed. We're just happy to lend a helping hoof where we can, yeah?">>702417
"Yeah- maybe one of us go stay with him, and the other collect the guards? What should we do about this Oneiromancer, anyways?"
"Hmm.. Well, between the two of us my wings would let me reach the guards faster, if you wouldn't mind keeping an eye on him."
"Once the guards are made aware, we should be in the clear to head back to the ship." i add, finishing the last bite of my cupcake.
Rabi takes a curious bite of the cupcake, his face brightening a little as he enjoys the rather unusual (to him) pastry. He offers an eager nod, before offering a mock salute
Clearing my throat, i replace the wrapper onto the tray and stretch out my wings.
"Right then, I'll be just a moment, dear. Do make sure Algol doesn't get himself into trouble while i'm gone."
with that, i head airborne, orienting myself towards the town before heading to the guard's post.
She nods. "Yeah. Let's go back before it gets too dark. Hopefully the rest of the group will meet us there."
You exit the Old Familiar and start making your way back to the rowboat, quietly joined by Aurora who seems to appear out of nowhere as she often does. Violet sticks close to you, rather awkwardly putting her hoof around your shoulder as you travel. She seems to have trouble showing affection, despite her outwardly friendly nature.
It isn't long before you return to the Lady Luck. It seems quiet for now; however, you can hear Hermodur ruffling about somewhere on the ship. >>702416
It takes you some time to remember, but you do recognize it, although it raises even more questions. The seal depicts a cuckoo, of all things. Curious.>>702417>>702420
The cupcakes are absolutely delicious.>>702421
You fly out from the farm and towards a guard outpost on the outskirts of town. The black armored guards look at you suspiciously. "What is it, citizen?" one of them asks you stiffly.
Hermodur lets out a small laugh as he remembers. He shakes his head and moves on to the cargo hold.
[1d10] to search the cargo holdRoll #1 6 = 6
Not wanting to bother Violet and Norv, Zunden goes to see if there's a mess hall in the ship, or if there's any old food being stored that would need to be taken off the ship.
Landing at the outpost, i take a moment to settle my dress before continuing.
"Ah yes, i have some news to report over the farm nearby and the siege of undead. We've found the culprit, a necromancer living within the forest nearby by the name of Algol."
"It seems he was compelled by 'the Oneironmancer', the mage mentioned on the job board, to poison the farm with the dead, in what appears to be a larger effort to ruin the lands surrounding the city."
"We had managed to convince him to resist the mage, though i'm concerned he may be in danger. Would you have the guards to spare to escort him to town?"
Finishing off the last third of my drink in one gulp, I stand up, just a little off balance, and follow Violet and Zunden back through town and to the rowboat. On the way back I lightly ease my weight into Violet, closing my eyes, ease into her just a bit, and feeling just how warm she actually is against me. It feels a little weird actually touching other party members after this long. At least when I'm not sobbing. Still, the feeling is more than welcome. As we board the ship I turn to Violet and cock an eyebrow.
"So," I say. "Now that I finally have the chance I might call that drink you owe me. Probably just one, though." My face twists into a playful, but still uncomfortable looking cringe. "Don't want to wake up tomorrow feeling like I did this morning. I actually bought a pretty nice whiskey this afternoon, I think, planning on just that." I clear my throat and look away. "But I understand if you're tired. It's been a long day. For all of us. I'm okay with taking a rain-check. I still have, what, five days before I can pick my sprayer up from Hadrian? Plenty of time."
Rabi nods in agreement, and heads back for Algol's farm.
You go into the cargo hold. It is filled with what you recall was being loaded onto the ship when you first laid eyes on it: an assortment of large, nondescript wooden crates. Opening them reveals nothing particularly interesting: packed food made to last (although it looks completely unappetizing), a disparity of steel weapons, steel construction materials, and, in one, a selection of fancy exotic clothes. However, one crate catches your eye; it is a long, rectangular shape, sealed tight with padlocks and chains. It seems difficult to open without the right keys.>>702424
You go into the lower deck and look around, eventually finding the mess hall and the attached kitchen. It looks to have been cleaned recently, presumably by the others, and has an impressive array of cooking utensils; pots, pans, knives, spatulas, tongs, an oven, a stove, a cold room, and everything else a proper chef would have in their kitchen. However, it is woefully bereft of food, save for a few bits of hard tack and ailing fruit; barely enough for a proper dinner.>>702425
The guard strokes his chin; he seems to be of higher rank than the others, and is presumably in charge of the outpost. "Algol? The farmer? This is disturbing news indeed, if true. We will send for a guard retinue at once to verify your claims. If what you say is true, the Oneiromancer may be a greater threat than we thought. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, citizen. We will handle things from here." He barks some orders to some of the nearby guards, and before long a party of four start heading out from the outpost and towards Algol's farm.>>702426
She leans into you as well, enjoying the moment of silence. She almost nods off to sleep, but starts as you arrive back at the ship. "Sorry. Long day."
She nods at your offer. "That sounds lovely," she answers with a soft smile. "Been waiting on that drink long enough, haven't we? Heh.">>702427
You travel back through the woods to where Algol resides. You can see the morose looking farmer sitting on a nearby tree stump, his face buried in his hooves. He looks up as you arrive. "You again. What is it now?"
"Excellent, my thanks."
"Do show the poor fellow some mercy, sir. It seems he was little more than an unwilling pawn in all this, having been caught up in the mage's scheme.."
With that, i take to the sky, heading back towards the farm and Rabi.
"Just watching over until the guards arrive. This Oneiromancer you mentioned seems dangerous, so we wanted to make sure he, or someone else, wouldn't come after you."
Hermodur takes Mjolnir into his hands and tries to smash the crate open.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1]>DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
Zunden rubs her chin,
'must have already cleaned the ship. I'll have to remember to go and buy provisions, if I can beat Violet to it. She could use some time to relax anyways…
she continues to wander the ship.
I chuckle and nod. "Yeah, I suppose we have." I look around. I adjust my pack on my shoulder and head to whatever room I decided to pick out for myself. "I stashed the drinks with my other stuff. I actually grabbed the stuff I needed to make my own Manehattan -Which is really nice, because it's my personal favorite drink and I haven't actually had one since-" My mouth feels dry as I recall the poker game that ultimately led to my banishment. "Well, in a while. The one I had at the tavern was nice, but I like mine with a little less vermouth and a little bit of juice from the-" I theatrically smack my forehead as I realize I forgot something. "I forgot to buy cherries." I sigh. "Oh well. Normally just supposed to be a garnish anyway."
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"I see. We shall deal with him as justice sees fit."
You fly overhead as the guards head through the woods, eventually reuniting with the gloomy farmer and Rabi on the borders of his farm. He nods slightly at you, but makes no other acknowledgement of your presence.>>702430
He nods. "You're wise not to underestimate him. He appeared to me like any other person, and he said he could work miracles on my crops. And he did. Then I found out what he truly was, and his intentions, but at that point it was too late, and he had me under his thumb. Don't listen to him. His words are poison.">>702429>>702430
It isn't long before the four guards arrive. After exchanging words with Algol, they handcuff him and start leading him out of the forest with no resistance from him. They thank you for informing the authorities of what was going on, and reward you with a further sum of coin, although much less than what Ricard paid.>+125 bits>>702431
The crate gives way easily under your hammer. Within is a rather ominous object: a black sarcophagus with the snarling face of a Diamond Dog engraved on it. You get a vague feeling of dread just looking at it.>>702432
You wander about the ship. You see Aurora looking through Lysander's personal quarters, mainly out of curiosity. She is holding a small black bishop chess piece, examining it curiously. She looks up as you enter. "Oh. Hey. Have you seen this stuff? Seems Lysander was involved in something pretty… weird. Dunno what to make of it.">see the reply to Hermodur in >>702414 for a description>>702433>>702434
You lead her to your living quarters, threadbare as they are, and start pulling out the drinks. "Manehattan, huh. I don't think I've ever had one of those before. I'm not normally big on cocktails in general, to be honest."
You make yourself a Manehattan to the best of your woefully limited ability and pour out a whiskey for Violet. She thanks you and raises her glass with a smile. "To us," she toasts before taking a sip. "Feels weird to say that, I won't lie…"
I lift my glass and take a sip of my drink, cringing as it touches my tongue. Woah. Way too much vermouth. Oh well. Guess I'll settle for my wine with a little whiskey in it. "To us." I chuckle and lean back, relaxing a little. "Yeah," I say. "More than a little weird, but-" I shrug. "Can't say I'm not happy about it."
"Oh!" My eyes widen as I remember something, and I lean over to dig around in my pack. Without much needing to search, I pull out Violet's journal and hand it back over to her. "Here. Thought you might want this back."
"Got it. Does he only show up in the flesh, or does he contact you otherwise?"
"Well…" Hermodur says as he sees the sarcophagus. "I suddenly regret my own rash behavior."
"Something to discuss with the others when they come back…"
He promptly leaves the cargo hold. However, he makes sure to not go quickly. He won't let his own nerves get the better of him. Hermodur goes to wait for the others on the deck.
Zunden looks at the materials, rubbing her chin again,
"'zuppoze we ought to zend a letter out informing zhat Black Bizhop haz been taken by uh…"
Zunden chuckles, pulling out her tarot deck and pulling a card from it,
"Ze Tower I guezz. Zeemz like your average ezpionage letterz. I knew mezzage runnerz back in ze Dominion."
She pauses to grimace as she's reminded of something, before shaking her head,
"Would be bezt to get rid of it incaze it'z zenzative information. We might get people trying to board ze zhip to deztroy it ozherwize. Could zell it to one of Lyzander'z rivalz maybe."
"Right then, with all this settled, i believe it's time we return to the ship, right Dear?"
I ask my love once i've landed, leaning on him affectionately.
"It'll be dark soon, we certainly wouldn't want to worry them, would we?"
>>702440Rabi responds to the affectionate action with a kiss on the mare's cheek, before nodding in agreement. "Can't stay here forever, yeah. Let's hope they had as good of a day as we did."
"Mm. Me neither." She smiles softly again, nursing her whiskey. She looks a little tipsy to you at this point.
Her face lights up as you return her journal. "You found it!" She wraps her arms around you in a big bear hug of gratitude, squeezing you a little by accident. She doesn't show it often, but she's deceptively strong. "Thank you so so much! I thought I'd lost it in the Downs. Did the spy take it?">>702437
"First I met him as anyone else, plain as I'm seeing you now. He took the form of a Dog like any other. Then I started seeing him in his true form, in my dreams. That's how he speaks to me. Sometimes I'm afraid to fall asleep, because he'll be there…" He rubs his face, clearly exhausted.>>702438
As you leave the cargo hold, you hear most of the others nearby. Norv and Violet seem to be in one of the living quarters, while Zunden and Aurora are in the captain's quarters, presumably having found what you found. Rabi and Silver aren't back yet.>>702439
She nods, starting to look around. "Hm. Wonder if this'll do it?" She points out a dragonfire candle covered by a glass bell on one of the many shelves. "But… Do you really think it's wise to start contacting whoever he's talking to? Might be getting in over our heads…">>702440>>702441
You start heading back to Braildorn. It takes you quite some time, but you eventually make your way to the docks and arrive back on board the Lady Luck. It sounds like everyone else got here before you.
"Ah, you found that too," Hermodur says in response. "I was pondering perhaps just returning it all to Lysander. It might be a token of good will to get him off our case. Let him know we have utterly no interest in him or his operation."
"More importantly… I found something ominous in the cargo hold. I don't think we should keep it on our ship. But… I'm leery of even touching the thing."
I hug her back, little caught off guard by her strength. Should I really be surprised, though? She put a spear right through a guy like it was nothing. Without dwelling on that thought, I sit down beside her and lean against her. "Yeah, he was kind of flipping through it. Made sure to grab it after I knocked him on his ass, though." I give a mock flex, surprised by the small amount of muscle that actually seems like it's developing over our exploits.
Rubbing the back of my neck, I glance down. "I also kind of read through it too. Thought it might have given some kind of hint as to why you were kidnapped. Apparently it did, but-" I shrug. "I just didn't realize it. Maybe I should apologize for that. Kind of a breach of privacy."
"Fashionably late, I think the phrase goes?" he says, looking to Silver with a chuckle. He looks back to the group, and offers a friendly wave.
"Evening, all! Sorry we got back so late, we had an… interesting time. Might've found another job to do, if we need the money."
Wandering below deck onto the ship, i greet the assembled group with a wave of a wing.
"Hello again, everypony! How has the day gone? Rabi and I have just finished the contract regarding the undead and the farm, rather nasty business involving the Oneironmancer of all things!"
"You did it by yourself?" Hermodur raises an eyebrow. "Impressive."
"I waz joking about ztarting correzpondenze, zhat zeemz recklezz."
she turns to Hermodur,
"I don't zhink he'll be off our caze one way or anozher, he did not zeem the type to let zuch a zhing go. If he held a grudge againzt Violet for ze dumb reazonz he did, imagine zhat for taking hiz zhip."
"I zhink we zhould burn zhem or give zhem to a rival zo he haz ozher zhingz to worry about ozher zhan ourzelvez."
She turns her head askance as he mentions something in the cargo hold,
"…Go on, zhow me I guezz."
"yes, well, I do
have a way with words, after all. Some convincing that we weren't there to kill him and the Necromancer halted his attack."
"As it turns out, he was under orders from the mage we've heard mentioned on the job board. The intent was to start at the farm and render the surrounding lands fallow with the hoard of undead. Thankfully, things turned out rather well, with his surrender."
"Aside from that, how'd things manage with you?"
"Yes, how did the hunt for information on the beast go? Do we have a possible lead?"
"Well, the MANNER in which he held his grudge was certainly foolish. I can understand wanting what is his, but he just wanted to punish her unnecessarily."
"Still, I have learned much of strategy in dealing with enemies in my time as Ailuros' messenger. For some enemies, the greatest insult and most effective way to beat them is to let them know that you simply do not care about them. If we completely crush his will to fight us, then he will not fight us.">>702449
"Surrender? Where is he now, then?">>702451>>702450
"I have some good leads on where to find the beast and how to draw it out on our teams. It may have to involve live bait, however."
"Henze we get rid of ze letterz, not hand zhem over."
"Then, how would he know that we no longer have them?"
Aurora frowns. "What sort of something ominous are we talking about? A dead body?">>702444
"Niiice," she says, nodding in approval. "Can't believe you actually chased that guy down. That's tough. Really tough."
She frowns as you tell her, but you get the feeling she's not too upset by it. "How… How much did you read? It is kind of a private thing, you know. I mean, it's too late now, I guess." She takes another drink of whiskey.>>702448
She nods. "Best to hold on to them for now. If we do end up keeping this thing we might have to change the name, and the look of it too. It's pretty recognizable. Wherever we go people will probably be expecting Lysander.">>702445>>702446
"Hey there." Aurora listens as you tell of your exploits concerning Algol and the Oneiromancer. "Hm… I don't know if we should keep prying. Is it really our business to go fighting this guy? I mean, money is nice and all, but he seems like serious business. We're not exactly well equipped to deal with this sort of thing. I don't think.">>702452
At the mention of live bait, Aurora is the first to touch her nose, albeit jokingly.
"Why, under the watch of the city guard, of course. I had reason to believe he may have been in danger after telling us the plan; he seemed convinced that he was done for after halting the summonings, so i sent for the guards to escort him to the outpost for questioning. In theory he should be far safer there than exposed in his farmhouse."
"Ah. And here I was thinking you'd be foolish enough to just let him go," Hermodur nods in approval.>>702455
"Well, there may be a dead body inside. But, that's really besides the point. It is a sarcophagus. The relic itself has a very ominous feel to it. Just being near it made me feel as if I was in danger."
"Well, arrested, most likely. And… live bait? Hrm… who's it going to be? I could do it, if needbe- I can hop back on my hooves pretty quick.">>702455
"Hrm… wait and see, maybe?"
"Oh yeah it was tough. I almost lost him a couple of times. Hell, even after I caught him I had to talk some guards into not… you know… arresting me for assaulting him in the middle of the street. Still, I managed."
I bite my lip. "Well, kind of a lot. After he told me you were kidnapped by a crime family I kind of freaked out. It was the only lead I really had, so I wanted to actually cross reference it with anything that might have helped. That was before we remembered we could just use the compass. Which kind of made the whole thing completely pointless, so yeah. Sorry." I sigh and close my eyes. "Though I guess we're 'allies' with said crime family now, if their little 'gift' is any indication. Or at least not on bad terms. So that's something I never thought I'd ever say." I think for a moment before continuing. "Though I guess Hard Twelve was kind of a crime boss type guy, which is part of the reason I was more on edge than I normally would have been. I associated with him kind of a lot before… well… You know. I've already told you that story. I think I'm kind of losing my point here, though"
"Well, I am awaiting the return of our exterminator to discuss the plans for the beast. He is the best for this sort of job."
"If zhe info waz in ze handz of hiz rivalz, zhey would mozt likely act on it, zhuz making him aware it wazn't in our handz.">>702455
"I've wanted to change ze name anywayz, Luck iz zilly. Name it wizh zomething to do wizh Fate inztead. Fate'z Fortune.">>702457
"…odd indeed, I could look into it tomorrow after I have rezted zome->>702460
-Norvegicuz came back wizh me and Violet, zhey're currently zomewhere on ze zhip mending fenzez."
"Hehe, Hermodur please
, i'm not so optimistic as to just let him wander off!"
i reply, laughing dismissively.
"It was two-fold, in truth. Partly to have him questioned, partly to get him away from the area, as he was sure he would be killed if left alone.">>702458
"I suppose that would be best. With how Algol spoke of him, i've grown concerned fighting him head on may be more dangerous than expected..">>702460
"Indeed. We can set aside this 'oneironmancer' for now; the beast seems a great deal easier to deal with than a mage and the myriad of spells he may have."
"Maybe just… keep an eye on what they do, and make a choice from there, yeah?" he suggests.
"Precisely, dear. With Algol no longer summoning the undead for this plan of theirs we may have put enough of a damper on things to bide our time and decide later." i reply with a nod.
"Well, giving it to his rivals would be an act against him. If we did that, we wouldn't be able to play the part of the unimpressed superiors."
"Not that your plan is bad. I just wish to provide my input.">>702462
"Is there even any money in taking down this mage?"
"Hmm.. I believe Zunden made mention there was a bounty on his head, as far as i
recall, and with this new information coming to light the bounty may very well increase, depending on the severity of the situation."
"We should dump it," Aurora suggests. "Whatever it is isn't worth the trouble. Who knows what Lysander meant to do with it. Throw it overboard into the river, I say, and let it rot there.">>702459
She snorts amusedly as you mention the compass. "That thing is just too useful," she chuckles. "We should just use it all the time to find things. Could've avoided the whole wild goose chase that way!"
"I guess that makes sense," she mumbles between drinks. "I would've probably done the same thing. …Still." She puts on a mock annoyed tone. "Don't go rifling through my stuff." She bops you on the snout playfully and laughs. She's definitely more than a little tipsy at this point.
"Well… at least we're on their good side," she shrugs, leaning back against the wall. "And it doesn't sound like they want much more to do with us. For now at least. They won't bother us if we don't bother them." She frowns as you mention your experience with Hard Twelve. "Sounds like you bit off more than you could chew with that guy, huh. I can relate." She taps the side of her head where she was once missing an eye.>>702460
"Yeah, Norv is around somewhere," Aurora chimes in, attesting what Zunden said. "I think him and Violet are an item now." She shrugs. "About time I reckon. Seems like everyone's finding someone nowadays.">>702461
She thinks. "Sounds a bit redundant to me. But you're the boss I suppose.">>702460>>702462>>702463
"That's a good question actually," Aurora says, changing the topic somewhat. "We should probably change the ship's name, but to what? Should be something everyone's happy with."
"Violet and the dog?" Hermodur asks incredulously. "Isn't she far too old for him?"
"I am not ze bozz, zhuzh. And it waz juzt zome wordplay, I meant Fortune az in a treazure or zomething. Zeemed pirate-y. Ze zhip iz our fate'z fortune."
"I have zaid I zhould not be a poet.">>702468
"Why doez affection have an age limit? Ze echoez zeem to be a lonely plaze, only fair zhey remedy it."
My snout wrinkles and I cross my eyes to look at my nose when she bops me. I laugh and lift my drink to my mouth, holding my breath as I take a drink of my sorry excuse for a cocktail.
I sigh. "Yeah, but you at least learned from your mistake from the sound of it. I have a habit of that. Biting off more than I can chew, I mean." I slide down a little, laying my head against her neck and closing my eyes. "Actually as far as risk-taking goes, I've been meaning to ask you something for a while. What made you decide to actually join up with us and help us out, anyway? For all you knew we could have murdered you and looted you the moment you tried to approach us." Actually now that I think about it I feel like I've already asked that before, but I can't really remember the answer right now. The alcohol from the drink at the tavern combined with the drink now is starting to catch up to me, and my body feels like it's covered in a warm glow.
"You…" Hermodur says, seeming a combination of surprised and relieved. In fact, one might say that his eyes might being watering up a bit.
"Ah, wonderful, Norvy found his own special somepony in Violet. I'm sure they'll make for a lovely pair."
"As for the ship's name, well, i suppose we really should leave the final call to the one piloting it, correct? Zunden would be the captain, after all, were this an ordinary ship."
"Ztop zhat, juzt becauze I put on ze ring doezn't mean I'd want to be called captain. I'd be happy to hear ozher zhingz."
"Hmm? Oh, good for them in that case," he remarks towards Aurora.>>702468
"No harm in it, is there? Age can't mean that much." he responds with, before shrugging.>>702467>>702472>>702473
"I dunno, at least offer a suggestion or two Zunden. You can fly it, so it's only fair to give you a chance."
"Sky Camel?" the stallion suggests, with a chuckle.
"Speaking of pairs- I was thinking of turning in a little early, Silver. Care to join me?" the stallion asks, sweeping his tail across her chest lightly as he makes for the door.
"Why, of course, dear.. Today has been quite
the journey, after all, It would do me some good to recover in time for tomorrow." I reply, Following behind as we make our way to the sleeping quarters.
"As bare as they are, i suppose we'll have to make do until we can redecorate."
"Sol Invictus," Hermodur suggests the ship name authoritatively.
Aurora shrugs. "…How old IS Violet anyway?" she suddenly asks in confusion. "Like 40? I've never been able to tell…">>702469
She smirks. "I wouldn't really call us pirates. I guess the name fits though. I kind of like it."
"Yeah, poetry's hard. I've tried writing before. I mean… I still do. Kind of. I write haikus every once in a while. It's a good exercise, I think.">>702470
She nods, looking rather grim all of a sudden. "…Yeah…" She rests her head on yours, just sitting and relaxing for a moment, sighing. You hadn't noticed before, but she has a very unique scent to her, although it's probably from having been in a cell overnight.
She thinks for a while before answering your question. "…I felt like I had to," she answers hesitantly. "I saw you there, lost, no idea what to do, where to go, how to survive. What would you have done? I couldn't just leave you there. You would have been dead in a day. Probably." She drinks again and hiccups a little. "I don't know, I just felt like I had to do something. I wanted… I wanted to save someone, I suppose…" She shifts a little and makes herself more comfortable, giving you a tiny peck on the head.>>702471
Aurora frowns as she sees your reaction. "You… You okay there?">>702479
"Not bad, not bad," Aurora says, nodding in approval. "Sounds powerful. Intimidating, even. A bit of a mouthful though. How about just Invictus?"
I chuckle. "Well, at least more often than not I end up surprising myself and actually manage to handle whatever it is I think is more than I can handle."
I quietly listen as she answers my question, and give her a small smile. Clearly I'm satisfied with the answer. It could have easily been something as simple as 'nobody would actually travel with me so I figured fresh faces were a good mark'.
My eyes flutter a little as she kisses me on the forehead, and I open them back up to look at her. Clearly she's a little more inebriated than I'd thought. Damn. Violet can't hold her liquor as well as me. Who'd have thought? "Yeah," I say. "I can't speak for the others but it probably wouldn't have been even a day. Chances are that prowler would have killed me, so you can rest assured knowing that I appreciate it. Turned out for the best, I think." I let out a loud laugh. "Yeah, I understand wanting to save someone. I don't when that started happening, but I didn't used to be like this, you know. Hell, even just the day before I came here. I guess I just figured 'hey, maybe I actually have the power to do something now', and it felt like the whole world just kinda opened up, y'know?"
I sit up just a little too fast and my head spins. Alright. Maybe I'm not holding it as well as I thought. "Anyway," I say. "I talk about myself way too much. You've gone from looking happy, to seeming like something was bothering you, to looking happy, back to seeming like something is bothering you. Something up?"
"Yeah. I got… I got the same feeling when I (hic) when I got here. Feels like forever ago now. Felt like anything could happen. Like… there's no preconceptions of what to do, where to go, how to do things… But Nivius… er, Lysander, now… He showed me the ropes, he showed me where to go, how to live out here… Even though he was always… greedy, ambitious (hic)… he cared, back then. Can't speak for him now, but he used to be alright. What happened?"
"Hey, where are you going." She tries to stand up but rather clumsily flops back down again with another little hiccup.
"…Well… Just been thinking. About this whole situation with Lysander. He… This is a long shot, but he… might have gotten the wrong impression? About him and me, I mean. I never (hic) I never showed interest in him, but I think he might have, might have hit on me? I can't tell, I'm TERRIBLE with relationships. But I got the feeling he liked me." She snickers. "So I guess in his eyes I'm the crazy ex? Might make things complicated." She shrugs and closes her eyes. "Maybe I'm looking too far into things," she mumbles. "I hope I am."
I reach out to catch her as she stumbles and scoot close to her again. "Don't worry, I just didn't want to fall asleep." I chuckle. "You were so comfortable it was probably an actual risk, so I don't want to just kind of cut short."
Might have gotten the wrong idea. Damn. Yeah, that might make things a little more complicated in the end. At the same time a twinge of jealousy needles at the back of my mind for some reason. "I don't know," I say. "Honestly he creeped me out a little." I cock an eyebrow, put my arm around her, and lean against her again, this time actually staying mostly upright. "If he got the wrong idea isn't that his problem? I mean if you inflate your own value in someone else's life without actually knowing that's where you stand then you're kind of setting yourself up for failure." My shoulders droop a little. "Wow. That's probably one of the most depressing things I've ever said. Still, it's kind of how I feel about it."
I reach out and gently pet her chest. "Besides, what if that was the case? Then what? Does that actually change anything? It's shitty, and maybe I'm just not getting it, but it doesn't seem like a huge deal."
"Mm. He kind of sucks. Shame we're gonna have to bump into him. Ship's nice though, huh? Once we get it working we have a nice little (hic) base going."
She shrugs again. "I just feel like it could make him more dangerous, maybe? Iunno, I'm rambling." She finishes her whiskey and sighs. "Still. We outnumber him. We can take him on any day! Right? I won't let him touch a hair on your (hic) head, Norv." She hugs you again.
"It really is pretty amazing. I've never even really been on a ship before, and now I'm kind if the co-owner of one. It's pretty weird." I finish off my drink as she finishes hers. "Yeah. I mean he was pretty small for a dragon. I'm pretty sure we can handle him if he shows up again."
I lean in and return the hug, wrapping my arms tight around her. Closing my eyes and place a single, gentle kiss on her neck. I'll make sure nothing happens to her either. Whatever it takes. "Everything's going to turn out alright," I whisper, not even entirely sure I said it loud enough for her to hear.
She flinches a little at the kiss, but rests her head on yours. She looks like she's going to pass out at any moment. "I love you," she slurs in a sleepy, drunken stupor, almost nodding off right then and there on top of you. "Not gonna let them hurt you… (hic)"
I ease back down a little, holding her in my arms. My heart feels like it stops when I hear… That. I haven't heard or said that in a long, long time, so I hesitate for a second, knowing the words will feel weird on my tongue. Slowly, I say, "I love you too, Violet."
I break away just enough to move in front of her face and gently kiss her. "It's late, my head is spinning-" From more than just the alcohol, but that's definitely playing a part. "And its been a long, long day for both of us. Maybe we should get some sleep."
"I know." She giggles very uncharacteristically. As you move in for the kiss, she is taken off guard, but returns it hesitantly, gently pressing against you. When she pulls away, she looks stunned for a moment, reeling slightly, but smiles faintly. "Not bad," she grins.
She nods at your suggestion, half-dragging herself onto one of the nearby beds - or what passes for a bed at least. It's just a bare mattress at the moment. She doesn't seem to mind, though, and clumsily struggles her armor before flopping face down onto it. She looks at you with a slight smile on her face before rolling onto her back with a heavy sigh. She eventually makes herself comfortable by awkwardly curling up like a cat. "Was a day, huh."
I smile and watch as she crawls onto the bed, feeling my cheeks grow warm as she struggles her armor and rolls around. Never expected to see her like this, and I have to admit, it's kind of incredibly adorable.
Slowly, I pull myself to my feet, stumbling a little. I'll have to actually buy some stuff for the room some time, but that's pretty low on the priority bracket. Priority number one right now is climbing into the bed between Violet and the wall, curling my arm around her, and closing my eyes.
I want to talk a little more. To pick the conversation back up until one of us falls asleep. The warmth of her body and steady rhythm of her breathing is almost hypnotic, and before I even manage to get anything out of my mouth everything catches up with me and I drift off.
As you curl up with Violet, she takes your arm and gently pulls you in closer for warmth. She mumbles something indistinctly and hugs your arm; it's kind of uncomfortable, but there's not much you can do about it seeing as she dozes off within seconds. Soon, however, the exhaustion from the day's events takes its due, and you fall asleep by her side.
The following morning has you wake up feeling well rested. Despite the threadbare nature of the dormitories on the Lady Luck, they are surprisingly comfortable. Your breakfast consists mainly of the meager rations that were left behind by Lysander; while bland and unsatisfying they are food as much as any other.
"So," says Violet over breakfast. "To Fumblemore's, then? I get the feeling we'll be there a while, so if there's anything you wanted to do before leaving I'd suggest we do it now. I'm ready to leave when everyone else is. Aurora nods in agreement, standing ready to go.
Copper yawns, still feeling the remnants of exhaustion despite getting a good night's rest (likely due to the exertion it took to control the ship the prior day).
"Whenever everyone iz ready. Ze only zhing I want to do iz retrieve ze artifactz I gave to Fumblemore overnight, but I can do zhat when we arrive."
After a good night's sleep, much to my surprise I feel incredibly refreshed. I didn't drink that much, but I was still afraid if a hangover, but overall it's like it's the first time I've ever slept.
I glance up at Zunden. "Hopefully we manage to finish this before later," I say. "We still have to meet up with that guy."
A look of realization washes over my face and my eyes snap to Hermodur. "Oh! I've been meaning to tell you since yesterday. I'm pretty sure I've found where we can find BoB, too."
"I'm sorry, I've been distracted. Why are we headed to Fumblemore's? Are we getting that sarcophagus appraised?"
"Actually-" I lift my hand to contradict him, but then realize he'd already found out for himself. Lowering my arm, I clear my throat. "Actually, yes. The sewers. There are a bunch of places in the downs where you can get into them, but they're full of addicts, so that's something we have to watch out for."
Rabi joins the group a tad later than normal alongside Silver, letting out a satisfied yawn as he joins them at brakfast. He chuckles a little bit, before giving Silver a nudge and saying "See? You hardly noticed the room was bare last night."
"My plan was to find a place where the sewers dump out of the city so we can fight it on open terrain. We don't want to have a fight like against that Shambler. We need enough room to maneuver."
"To that end, I wanted to know if you knew of any traps to set up for an animal so large. Or an easier way to attract it. Sadly, my current plan is just live bait. Along with some mushrooms or other things that it might scavenge."
"I know not how ze magic workz, zo who knowz how long it will take. Bezt to get it done early."
"I was actually thinking about that." I clearly look a little excited as I climb into the chair and lean forward on the table, madly gesturing with my hands as I talk. "So the sewer system has a bunch of entrances and exits. The thing is, this is exactly what I'm used to working with. When people called me for problems with raccoons, or opossum, or other varmints it'd usually be because they got up under their house and were wreaking havoc, right? So what I was thinking was the sewer isn't all that different than a crawl-space. Just a really big varmint, and a really big crawl-space. All we have to do is isolate the specific area BoB sticks around, corner off any other potential exits, and lay traps at hotspots. I figure if there are junkies all over the place then it shouldn't be hard to find out where it frequents, because folks'll have gone missing around those areas, right? So we close it in, trap escape routes, and corner it. That should give us
a decent area to work with if we're coming in on multiple sides, and it with a small space." I pant a little as I finish laying out my plan, and a small blush buds on my cheeks. Slowly easing myself back into my chair, I clear my throat. "So anyway, if it doesn't actually trigger any of the traps then chances are it'll be more dangerous cornered, but with all of us I think we might be able to do it."
Sneaking out ahead of Rabi to freshen up with a bath in the River, the Pegasus joins Rabi as he wakes up for breakfast, letting her mane airdry.
"Ah, so we're ready to wrest control from Lysander, then? Very well, hopefully this whole affair goes smoothly.">>702780
"Well of course, dear. so long as you're around i could sleep anywhere." I reply, leaning on you as we eat.
"I'm good to go- it might be worth checking out what he knows about that Oneiromancer, anyways."
"What sort of traps could we build for something so big? I doubt the sewer would have room to lay anything bigger than a beartrap."
"Alright, sounds like you have this pretty well thought out. Do we need some sort of bait? What sort of traps would you even set for something like that?"
"Hm? Oh right, you weren't around for that. He's figured out a way to break Lysander's spell on the rings. It's not going to be easy though, and apparently he needs our help to… go into the rings somehow? I don't know, I'm not a sorceress. We'll see what happens I suppose."
"I still think we should dump the sarcophagus," Aurora pipes up. "Throw it into the river and never speak of it again.">>702774>>702776>>702777>>702785>>702784
"Alright, let's move then," she says, finishing her meal. "Hopefully this won't take long."
After finishing breakfast, you leave the ship and head back to Braildorn, eventually making your way to Fumblemore's floating house. He answers the door in his usual attire, looking a little frazzled but still in a good mood. "Hello there!" he says cheerily. "No sense in delaying it. Come in, come, come! As promised, I have prepared the ritual for breaking the spell, and learned more about the defences in the process:
"It's… going to be a little complicated, I'm afraid. First off, you will each have to lend me a pinch of your blood for it. Unsightly, I know, but it's required. Once I perform the opening of the Fulcrum, you will find yourselves transported to another realm, one of Lysander's own fashioning I'd imagine. It will feel very real, but rest assured, none of it is. You will have to fight your way through whatever defences Lysander has put in place in this realm, and destroy the illusory aspect of him that can be found there. You all look able bodied enough, so I'm sure it won't be difficult for you."
"Now then, are we ready to begin? If you have any other questions, now is the time."
"Yez, ze artifactz I left overnight? I figured zey might come in hand in ze Fulcrum."
"Zhough I zuppoze zhat dependz how quickly I can learn lute."
"I only know combat," Hermodur says practically immediately upon Norv finishing. "Under normal circumstances, the stronger combatant is the one with the advantage in an enclosed space. Even if they are outnumbered, that just works to the advantage of the stronger."
"However, if you think we can treat this as less of a fight and more of an extermination, then I trust you. Your plan seems sound. I will trust your expertise.">>702788
"Sounds… unholy. But, I will comply," Hermodur says with some distaste.
"We won't simply fade away if killed within it, correct?"
"Beyond that, i believe we're as prepared as we can be, given how little we know of what Lysander has planned."
"Hmm… so, if it feels real, everything comes with us? Or, everything we 'think' would come withus?" And once it's destroyed, do we just… supplant it, I guess?">>702791
"It seems more like a… I don't know, shared dream rather than something like Astral Projection. I imagine if we 'died', we'd just wake back up… I think?" he looks to Fumblemore for clarification.
"Well, I had a few ideas. I have a couple bear traps in my kit. Depending on what the sewers look like I can think of a couple other options, too. I'm pretty sure a snare trap wouldn't work, but tripwire traps really aren't that hard to set up, and I have some poison I can use to coat the arrows. I'd say a foot snare would be another option, but it's a sewer so I can't really get-" I gesture digging with my hand. "You know. Under it. I haven't really had to use most of these so I'm not positive how good I'll be at setting them up, but I at least learned how to do them, so it's a real possibility.">>702788
This was the mage everyone kept mentioning, wasn't it? I'd have to keep howto get here in mind and come back later. I cringe as he mentions taking some of my blood. That sounds uncomfortable, but I guess the end result is a flying ship, so it's a fair trade. >>702791>>702792
My face blanches a little. The thought hadn't even occurred to me that if we died in the simulation we might die for real. I glance back to Fumblemore and wait for the answer.
"The more traps we can get it to set off, the better. However, do you have a plan to make sure nothing else sets of the traps first?"
"Hmm.. If we had an alchemist's kit we could try and create something stronger for the creature."
"As you could imagine, i'm quite versed in poisons." Says Silver, putting a hoof to her cheast "And, with your help of course, i'm sure i can retool one of mine for use against a beast."
"Hrm… tripwire traps sound pretty good, yeah. I don't have any poison on me, but I bet we could find some in town."
"Outside of warning everyone that approaching could mean certain death? Maybe putting up signs or something. I doubt BoB is literate. I might need to see if I can't get a map of the sewer system, though. It's apparently pretty labyrinthian. As far as other animals setting off the traps goes, then I'm not as sure. I'd have to know what exactly lives down there, but I genuinely think this could work. I've worked in sewers before. Not exactly to this scale, but either way I think the concept seems sound enough."
"Signs are a good enough idea."
"Yeah, I was actually thinking about that too. I'm not entirely sure how easily this thing resists poisons, but from what Black Pudding said the sleeper poison we got for that one job should be pretty potent. I'm alright with using mine, but I wouldn't ask you to use yours since a good bit of it would likely go to waste. I could definitely use your help. I've made poisons before, but usually only for handling mass cockroach and rodent infestations that I couldn't take care of some other way. Don't think those would work as well in this situation."
"A flute? I never learned, I'm afraid. I did play viola in my younger years though. …Oh, yes, the artifacts." He darts upstairs for a moment, and quickly returns with the ring and lute. "I have indeed been able to find more:"
"This ring… well, it doesn't have an enchantment really. But it's meant as the key to a lock. The crest is that of House Ostvengr, rulers of the City of Sorrows here in the Echoes. Quite a fascinating place, it. It's always raining there, hence the name, and it's filled with vengeful spirits who protect their home at all costs. A very dangerous place, completely uninhabited. If you decide to go there, I imagine this ring would unlock something quite significant."
"As for the lute, well, that's also quite a find. The lunar motif on it is no coincidence; it is a catalyst for spells from the user, and its power waxes and wanes with the moon itself. If you can learn to play it, it would make for quite a tool, I imagine.">>702790
"'Unholy' is a rather strong word," he says warily. "I would use the term 'old', really. I must admit, ritual magic is not my area of expertise. My colleague Black Pudding is much more adept in this sort of thing, but alas, he is not here. I can do this. In theory.">>702791
"No, not at all. You'll simply wake up back in your bodies here, as if it were all just a bad dream. Be warned, though. You will only get one chance at cracking this seal. As I explained it to your friend here, it is as if you are an invading virus, and Lysander's defences are the antibodies. If you fail the first time, the seal will be much, much harder to break. In fact, I doubt you will be able to break it at all.">>702792
"Once it's destroyed, the realm will collapse, and you will find yourselves back here. Simplicity itself.">>702789>>702790>>702791>>702792>>702793
"Right then!" He seems quite enthusiastic about trying this new form of magic. "Let us begin!"
He ushers you through his house and into a room he's set up for it. There is a circle of chalk drawn on the floor, with a stone basin of sorts in the center, within which are Lysander's rings. The room is lit by glass candles around the chalk circle in a heptagram formation, and incense is burning on a nearby drawer. Overall, this feels like a very old, ritual form of magic you are about to partake in.
He does a quick head count. "…Five, six, seven. Mm, yes, perfect." He ushers you to stand each at one of the glass candles, then moves into the center and sprinkles a strange powder onto the rings, speaking in a language you do not understand. You see that he is reading the instructions from a book as he goes; presumably, this is his first time trying something like this.
After this, he pulls out a knife and looks to you apologetically, taking the hefty basin and motioning for you to hold out your hooves/hands. "Please, trust me. This is the only way." As you comply, he cuts your palm. It smarts dreadfully, but it subsides after a moment. He drains the blood into the basin. "Praesidium adversus egotisticus," he intones every time the blood is spilled.
With this phase complete, he motions for you to sit down, then places the basin back in the center, speaking more words in the old tongue. A gout of purple flame suddenly bursts from the basin, and your heads start to pound. The room spins around you, and you know no more. The last thing you see is Fumblemore grinning in awe of the ritual's success.
The next thing you know, you are somewhere else entirely. You stand at the top of a snowy hill, a chill and bitter wind blowing, carrying with it fell voices and the distant howling of wolves. At your back you can see a forest of pines, while at the bottom of the hill is an enormous, ancient ruin of a castle, complete with a moat and a closed drawbridge. The banners it bears are purple, with a white dragon's head. Inspecting where Fumblemore cut you, you can see a single line of a scar, glowing like hot embers, although it is not hot to the touch. Curiously, despite the freezing environment and being completely undressed for such, you are not cold at all.
"So that's our target, I'm assuming," Aurora says of the crumbling castle, still trying to get a grip on her new surroundings. "Guessing there's going to be guards of some sort… Any ideas on how to go about this? Should we sneak it, or go in guns blazing?" Violet says nothing, looking a little disturbed by the setting.
Waiting for the headache to subside, i take in the surroundings and the distant castle.
"Hmm.. I suppose we should tread carefully, for now. If i can get close to the wall we may be able to find just what we're dealing with."
"Hey, I'm fine using what I have. We're in this as a group, aren't we?" he offers, before flicking his eyes back to Fumblemore.>>702790
"Eh, old magic's just like that. It makes up for less advanced procedures with a bit of blood.">>702801
"Right- so, one shot, but we aren't dead if we foul it up. Works for me." he says, giving Silver Song a soft kiss on the cheek before going to stand by one of the glass candles. He doesn't wince much when his frog is cute, offering the blood with little issue. >>702802
"Mmm, I imagine so. This is… fascinating, honestly. I had no idea magic could do something like this.">>702803
"Right- good luck, Silvy."
I hesitantly hand him my paw, and curse under my breath as he cuts me. Yep. That hurt. That definitely hurt. When I get my hand back I shake it a little to try and get the pain to fade some. As I sit up inside the simulation, I cradle my aching head. At least I went one day without waking up with a headache. Standing up, I glance around, hoping I still have my cage. I'm not really sure how it would manifest a catalyst, but having a couple of rats would help.>>702802
"I feel like if we're treated like a virus then they probably already know we're here, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to at least try
to sneak in at first. Seems like 'guns blazing' has worked out for me a surprising amount lately."
I glance over at Violet and furrow my brow, stepping up right beside her. "Hey," I softly say. "You okay?" Considering her reaction, and the fact that Lysander is the one who set it up I'm pretty sure I can draw my own conclusion to what the problem is, but trying to be a little supportive couldn't hurt.
Moving down the hill and towards the castle, I keep low in an effort to reduce my approach.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 7 = 7
"Lysander himself was no match for us. I doubt any of this will be either. We should simply destroy whatever we have to and be done with this," Hermodur says as he checks to make sure that he still has Mjolnir.>>702804
"It makes me feel… dirty," Hermodur says as he looks at his now cut palm.
"Eh, it's not something we should have to do often. And, as for Lysander… I don't know. With how this place looks, I've got a feeling that the representation of him'll be tougher."
Zunden adorns the ring and straps the lute to her back.
"Very interzting. I'll have to find a bard to teach me when I'm not maztering guiding a flying zhip, cooking, reading ze Tarot, or healing ze wounded."
"Before we leave, let me distribute zeeze trinketz among ze group…"
Zunden says, ruffling through her bag of holding.>>702806
"Before you leave, Zilver, I have zhiz mantle for you."
She passes a hooded cloak over.
————–>passive; +2 to Stealth or Hide rolls when in areas ripe with plantlife
A hooded cloak patterned to resemble undergrowth, allowing for extremely effective stealth in woodland and forest areas.>>702804
"And a protective charm for you, Rabi, az to keep your mind your own while you rezt."
She takes the charm from her bag, holding it out to the saddle arabian.
————>Passive; grants passive immunity to psychic attacks when sleeping, and a +1 to resisting their effects otherwise.
An odd circular item with a pattern much like a net, with several adornments such as beads, feathers and gems. Sometimes used by certain reclusive tribes.>>702805
"And one for you too, Norvegicuz, az your profezzion takez you to dangerouz locationz and faze ztrange creaturez."
She picks bronze and emerald pendant from her multitude of jewelry pieces on her person, taking it off and putting it on the diamond dog.
———————>passive; -1 hit taken from lightning magic attacks.
A plain bronze amulet with an emerald pendant common among spellswords. It contains a simple warding enchantment designed to ward off lightning attacks.
"HA!" Hermodur lets out a hearty burst of laughter. "It's true. His image of himself is stronger than the reality. A fair reason to be cautious."
"Oh my, Thank you, Zunden! This should be very helpful."
taking ahoof of the cloak, i test the material before slipping the mantle into my armor for safekeeping.
"Given the snow around here, i'll have much better luck with this after we free the control gem."
"I've… I've been here before," she answers heavily. "This is where I left him…" She doesn't seem to know what to make of it, but whatever Lysander is trying to do, the setting surely bodes ill. "Let's.. let's just get the job done. Eh?" She gives a weak but uneasy smil.>>702806
You creep down the hill and towards the castle undetected, for now. At first glance, the whole place seems abandoned to you, but you get the feeling you weren't placed here for nothing.
>everybody roll perception
I dip my head, helping her lower the pendant over my head. "Thank you," I say. "Not sure how often i'll come up against lighting, but it's definitely something to be worried about if it does
end up a problem."
traversing the perimeter, i look for a quiet entrance as i keep an eye out for danger.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 7 = 7
[1d10] Zunden looks with her special eyesRoll #1 4 = 4
That's about what I expected. My heart sinks, but I try to give her a small, reassuring smile. "Hey," I say, lightly tapping her with my hip. "It's not real. We just have to get in, get done, and get out, right? We've managed harder. Try not to sweat it too much."
[1d10] Reassuring Violet
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
"Oh… thank you, Zunden. Are you sure you don't want to keep it? This seems… I don't know, I've never been good at accepting gifts." The stallion says, flustering a little.">>702812
"Yeah. It'll be nice and easy, Violet. So, just… relax a little, yeah?" he offers, before looking around a tad. [1d10] (Perception)>>702810
"I don't have much on me, but I'd be willing to bet his image of himself is a lot taller."Roll #1 6 = 6
As Hermodur follows the party, he keeps his ears open and a hand on his hammer.
"And less pudgy."Roll #1 7 = 7
"I have many charmz, it iz zilly for me to hoard zhem to myzelf while I ztay in ze background."
Zunden smiles warmly.
You can't get too close to it, owing to the large moat running around the castle, but you manage to scout around it as you assess the situation. You can hear whispering though, coming from inside the castle. Closer listening reveals it sounds disturbingly like your own voice.
Moving around the castle's perimeter, you see a grate near the moat that would lead you into the castle proper. You could either take this quieter entrance, or try to find a way to open the main gate to let the rest of the group in.>>702816
Violet nods, smiling again, this time looking more confident. "Yeah. Easy grab." She hesitates for a minute, but gives you a light peck on the head.>>702816>>702815>>702817>>702818
As Hermodur and Rabi point it out, you notice something quite disturbing in the far distance. What you'd took at first to be part of the snow capped mountain range is, in fact, a cuckoo bird. Its wings are drawn about it, and it sits on the horizon roosting. It is impossibly huge, as big as the mountains surrounding it, but it does not move. For now. Aurora recalls the seal on many of Lysander's private documents depicting the same bird. You also hear faint whispers on the wind; at first you'd dismissed it as wind, but you can hear now that they are indeed voices, albeit indistinct ones. They sound eerily like your own, and are coming from within the castle.
A faint blush buds on my cheeks as she kisses my head and my smile broadens a bit. I give her a small nod and turn back toward the castle, freezing when I hear the whispering. Swallowing, I crouch down, place my hand on my cage, close my eyes, and pop my sun to try and summon three rats right off the bat.
[1d10+1] Summon, improvise. DC 6.Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
"What is the obsession with the cuckoos?" Hermodur ponders out loud as they continue toward the castle.
Zunden charges her channeler's ring with the power of her artificial sun.
poking around the area, i move the grate aside and begin the crawl into the castle's courtyard, on the hunt for the gate switch.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
"Actually I might have an idea. Maybe it's a symbol for a coup? Some species of cuckoo are brood parasites. I've had to handle a couple infestations destroying local helpful bird's eggs before, so maybe it has something to do with slipping into upper levels of government and taking over? That's what he was trying to do, right?"
"Was he trying to slip into government? Seemed more like he was just trying to replace it. But, he seems to have correspondence with some other group of criminals. Which means that you may be on the right track."
"Hrm… that's a neat bit of… ah, what do they call it? Psychological?" the stallion says, stroking his chin a little bit. "Maybe some of this'll be what he wants, and other parts are… subconscious, or unintentional."
You summon a trio of rats. They look oddly placid, despite the bleak surroundings.>>702823
You charge up the ring, getting ready for a fight; however, one never comes.>>702822>>702825
"That'd make sense," Aurora chimes in as you move closer to the castle. "But… Wouldn't that make him Black King if he's the one that wants to take charge? All the letters we found called him Black Bishop. Hmm…">>702824
You enter the courtyard. At first it looks fairly ordinary, but then you notice the tree; it has bark as white as bone, and is in full bloom despite the climate, with beautiful purple flowers. You also notice what look like scorch marks on the ground, as if some great flame had burned everything around the tree to ash. Past the tree is the main gate to the castle's keep, while you can see a huge, hefty looking chain operating the main gate and drawbridge. It looks a little heavy for you to operate on your own, but you should be able to manage with some elbow grease.>>702827
"I'm just kind of dreading whatever he himself will look like in this place," Violet muses.
Keeping to what shadows i can find, i slink over to the Gate's winch, leaning on the handle as i try to push the gate into action!
[1d10] Push!Roll #1 1 = 1
"If the dog is correct, then he woudln't be the king because he hasn't supplanted himself into the top position of power yet."
At this point, Hermodur waits for Silver to open the castle gates.
I breathe a sigh of relief and stand back up when I see the rats. Shifting my focus back to the castle, I feel a chill run up my spine. "Well," I say. "Whatever he looks like I'm sure we can pretty much guarantee he'll be scarier than he is in person." Saying that out loud feels weird considering I was down for the count the entire encounter, but thinking back on it he really wasn't that bad.
I think for a moment. "Yeah, I guess that would mean someone else is the leader. Still, bishop is pretty high up, right?">>702830
"Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I'd think the position of power would be the opposite side of the board. White King or something."
Zunden waits patiently for Silver.
"Considering that these are monikers used by multiple people, I presume he did not come up with the names. Thus, the chess metaphor is not his. The black pieces are merely the group he is working with. Thus, if you are correct about his intentions to usurp power from within a group he has wormed his way in, it would be with the people he is working with. In other words, the black pieces."
I rub my head, suddenly a little confused. If the black pieces would be the enemy group, and he would be black bishop, then what would the white pieces be? His actual group? But if that's the case then what does it mean when a black piece takes a white piece? And wouldn't a black piece be taking another black piece if he was 'moving up in the ranks'? "Alright," I say, giving up. "Think I'm going to put this down for a little bit."
Rabi can't help but offer a short snicker, and say "Maybe he's the jester?"
"Do NOT equate the bishop with a jester!" Hermodur suddenly snaps to Rabi.
"It was a joke, relax." The stallion says, raising a hoof defensively. After thinking on it a little, he offers "Well, I thought I heard something similar to us. Maybe those are the white pieces?"
"That it was a joke is precisely the issue," Hermodur says in a sour tone.
I bristle a little at the outburst and pointedly stay quiet.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
You struggle to get the gate open, but to no avail. It's simply too heavy for you. It only budges a tiny bit before you lose your grip. You can hear your friends on the other side of the portcullis, waiting for it to open.>>702840
A slight rustling, and the raising of the voices, alerts you to something behind you. Turning, you see something unexpected: it's you. Or rather, a simulacrum of you, rising out of the shadows of the castle within. There is something not quite right about your doppelganger's features; you can't tell if it's the face, or the proportions, but it looks unnatural, an imperfect reflection of reality. Whatever it is, it stares at you blankly, menacingly, before opening its mouth and speaking in your voice. The words are incomprehensible, and garbled, as if of some alien thing trying to imitate speech. You notice that it is not alone; behind it you can see the silhouette of what is clearly meant to be Rabi, and Zunden. Presumably, the others are there too. The imperfect reflection continues to speak before turning and walking into the depths of the castle.>>702835
Aurora nods, then does a double take. "That's… not from chess. At all.">>702837
Violet nods, while Aurora mulls this over. "Yeah. I heard it too. I have an idea of what it could be, but nothing certain…">>702830>>702831>>702832>>702835
You see the gate budge a little as Silver tries to open it from the other side. "Should we give her a hand?" Violet suggests, frowning. "Although, we can't really cross that moat… Hmmmm…"
Going pale as i watch the copy try to speak, the sight of it, the uncanny nature of the things leave me briefly paralyzed, breaking into a cold sweat.
Stuck as i see them walk into the castle, i break free and try to open the gate in a panic.
[1d10] ShoveRoll #1 1 = 1
"Well, if she's in then she had to have gotten in somehow, right? Think we should look around and maybe try to find how she slipped inside or just, like, wait?"
"I don't see how anyone but a unicorn could possibly help here," Hermodur responds.
He finds a nearby rock to sit on and wait.
After several attempts, Silver manages to open the gate for the rest of the group. The old, warped portcullis groans as it shudders open, and the drawbridge unhinges and falls across the moat with a deafening crash that shakes the foundations of the ruined castle. As it does so, you all get an overwhelming feeling of unnamable dread, as if faced with your own mortality. The unnatural fear washes over you like a wave, and it passes as quickly as it arrives. Looking around at your companions, the shaken look on Violet and Aurora indicates you were not alone in feeling it. Violet shakes it off and wordlessly steps forward, moving across the courtyard. Aurora seems more hesitant, but reluctantly follows suit.
>everyone except Silver roll Perception in addition to whatever else you do this round
Hermodur grimaces at the ominous feeling. He already hates everything about this. He waits for the others to go in first.
I jump back as the drawbridge crashes into the ground, already a little shaken. The feeling is multiplied even more as a sense of unexplained, visceral dread completely overtakes me. I swallow and look around at everyone before tightening my grip on my cage and following Violet.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
"Onze more unto ze breach."
Zunden mumbles, the air of silence amongst her companions muting her voice somewhat. She beckons her frozen light and follows alongside Norvegicus.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Rabi grimaces a little as the feeling of dread washes over him, and he takes a few uneasy steps in place until the worst of it subsides. He uneasily grips at his bow, and follows along after the others.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You notice something unnerving: the mountain-sized cuckoo is now awake, looking in your direction; or at least it would if it had eyes. Where they should be is instead a vast black bottomless pit.
You enter the castle, taking note of the white tree with purple flowers - the colors of Lysander - and of the heavy scorch marks surrounding it. Pressing on, you can see an entrance to the castle's keep straight ahead, while on the left are the guard barracks, armory and one of two watchtowers. On the right are a chapel, some sort of dining hall and the other watchtower, which seems to have crumbled over time beyond repair. The faint whispers you've been hearing seem to grow louder now.
"Maybe we should split up?" Aurora suggests, breaking the uneasy silence that's fallen over you. "We could cover more ground that way."
My stomach seems to grow heavier and heavier with each step I take. A chill creeps down my spine as I see first the Cuckoo, and then again when I see the tree. By the time I hear the voices again I visibly shudder, mentally reminding myself that as deeply unsettling as it is, none of it is real.
My jaw clenches as Aurora suggests we should split up. "Are you serious?" I ask. "And get jumped by whatever is going to jump us while we're alone
"A-at the very least, I suggest we stay in at least groups of two," Hermodur suggests, sounding uncharacteristically nervous.
I gulp again and nod. "Yeah, if we do split up we should at least stick to groups."
"Zhere iz no time limit, I uhhh, zhink. We could be zlow and mezhodical about it. Togezher. No need to ruzh into zhingz alone."
"Though, getting out of here faster isn't sounding like a bad thing…" Hermodur contemplates out loud.
"I'm with them on this, personally. I don't think I've ever had such a… violently bad reaction to a place before. Even that 'desert'." he explains, looking around uneasily.
"We can move a little quicker, just… Cautiously, and together."
"Well, we don't have to do it alone. We could just split in-">>703040
"Good idea," Violet chimes in. "Between the eight of us we should be able to cover four areas at once."
Aurora frowns. "Eight?"
Violet nods assertively, but then looks uneasy. "Er… seven. Thought I… Never mind.">>703043
"What, losing your nerve?"
You have no idea who said that.>>703044
For the briefest moment, you think you hear the faint droning of the Shifting Sands. Surely it's just your ears playing tricks on you though.>>703039>>703040>>703042>>703044
Aurora nods. "Fair. Might be best to stick as a group after all…"
You press on, first exploring the dining hall, or what's left of it. There is nothing much to see here, the great stone table having long since crumbled and the once opulent food served there now rotten and worm-infested. When you exit, you notice that the two watchtowers have switched places, the left one being ruined while the right still stands.
The armory proves of little use either, full of broken swords and rusted armor. You think one of the armor pieces turns to look at you as you enter, but it stays still as you look around, and upon closer inspection the whole thing just falls apart.
Finally, you enter the keep. Unlike most of the castle, it seems to be in prime condition, as perfectly kept as it must have once been when it was inhabited. Decorative armor lines its walls and many banners hang from it, but they are all of them completely blank. You can hear the voices more distinctly now; while what they are saying, or trying to say, is beyond you, the voices sound like some animal trying to imitate speech.
You ascend the keep into what looks like some sort of throne room. More blank banners hang from the walls, with the throne itself overlooking two long stone dining tables much like the one you saw at the main hall. The throne is carved from rock, with leaf-like designs criss crossing its surface. Proudly displayed above the throne is the skeleton of an enormous dragon.
What grabs your attention, however, are the figures sitting about one of the tables. They are you, or imperfect reflections of you. All seven of you are present, happily feasting on some sort of flesh and chattering amongst themselves in their mimicry of a tongue. There is something inherently wrong with each of them; they look like wax figures of some sort, rather than living, breathing beings. Their proportions are slightly off, and their faces dull and lifeless, yet they continue to feast messily, paying you no heed. Aurora looks like she's going to be sick, while Violet averts her gaze, clearly disturbed by the surreal sight.
"New rule. If you zee zomething zhat'z even zomewhat off, you zay it outloud, even if you zhink we all zee it. Zhiz plaze iz mezzing wizh our headz, I zhink."
Zunden moves her frozen light towards one of the reflections, checking from a distance if they're corporeal or not, or if they're any bit translucent.
I take a step back as I see the things at the table, furiously shaking my head. It's not real. No matter what happens here I'm safe. None of it is real, I keep saying. A mantra my sanity feels like it's hinging on right now. Through heavy, unsure breath, I look around at the others. "We don't need to confront those things, right? We're looking for Lysander, so we can just walk by?"
Hermodur nearly jumps out of his skin when a voice from nowhere addresses him. It leaves him on edge for the rest of their exploration.
"I can't take this!" he shouts in an angry panic after a moment of observing the wax figures. He draws Mjolnire and revs it up.
[1d10] for SharpenRoll #1 5 = 5
I tense up as Zunden and Hermodur almost immediately do something that would get their attention. "Or we can confront them…"
Seeing Hermodur begin to panic, Zunden turns to Rabi,
"Rabi, could you perhapz zcout ze manor in an aztral form? Your charm zhould prevent any zort of trickery while you are unconciouz. I fear wandering will only cauze more paranoia to all of uz."
"I-I guess… I-I guess that explains the voices." the stallion says, shivering a little bit. >>703046
"Maybe this is something we need to work past mentally, then? I was never one for the whole… deep introspection, thi-">>703048>>703050
"O-Or, that. Yeah." he says, shying away from Hermodur. He looks to Zunden, and offers a bit of a nod, before circling around a little. "S-Sure, sure I can. Just, uh… make sure to keep an eye on my body, yeah?"
"I will guard you ze bezt I can."
Zunden says, kneeling down by Rabi, leaning on her staff.
"T-Thanks, really. I'll look over everything as best I can, Zunden." he says, settling down on to the ground. He holds the charm tightly, and after taking a few moments to calm himself enough to focus… he slumps over>Astral Projection
"I hope so," says Aurora uneasily, unable to tear her eyes away from her doppelganger. "I think we might have found him," Violet adds, nodding at the skeleton above the throne.>>703046
They are completely corporeal, unfortunately. As real as the nose on your face. If you had one.>>703048
In your sudden panic attack, you fumble and fail to ignite the hammer. The figures continue to eat happily, oblivious to your threatening display.>>703053
You focus for a moment, trying to exit into your astral form. For a moment, you think it works; then, you have a terrible vision of the eyeless cuckoo staring directly at you. It lasts for a split second, then you fall to the ground, your heart racing and your head pounding like nothing else. It feels like your skull will split in two.>Rabi takes 1 wound
I look back up at the dragon skeleton. "Oh. Yeah, I was kind of hoping that wasn't the case…" I clear my throat and look back at Voilet. "So what now? Should we just walk over or-" I spin around as Rabi falls to the ground, almost leaping into Violet's arms. "H-hey," I manage to get out. "Are you okay?"
As his hammer refuses to ignite, Hermodur stares at Mjolnir with a blank stare.
"Ailuros, your humble servant asks for the strength to stand strong in this nightmare…" he mumbles to himself as he shakes the hammer slightly.
[1d10] Sharpen againRoll #1 1 = 1
"G-Gah!" he shouts, his eyes snapping open little more than a few seconds later. He grips his head tightly, the sharp pain keeping him from saying too much… the vision burned into his mind doesn't help much, either.
Zunden gets to healing Rabi,
"Zo eizher ze charm or ze Aztral Projection iz nullified here…"
[1d10] healin bondsRoll #1 3 = 3
"A-Astral Projection. I tried to leave my body, and I saw…" he shudders a little, and says "Some sort of cuckoo. Threw me back into my body, so… n-no dice on the Astral side. Sorry."
"So, nothing works here…" Hermodur mumbles fearfully. "We should just keep looking as quickly as we can then."
"I was able to summon some rats, though."
"Might as well give it a shot." She braces herself to move past the grotesque figures and keeps moving after making sure Rabi is safe.>>703056
You hear a faint hiss from inside the hammer, and a tongue of smoke coils out.>>703058
You start trying to cast a healing spell, but your staff fizzles out.>>703055>>703056>>703057>>703058
Violet takes initiative and approaches the dragon skeleton cautiously, spear at the ready. As she does so, the skeleton's bindings break, and the whole thing clatters to the ground with a crash. Something begins to change; the bits of flesh scattered about the table your doppelgangers sit at begin to float up and towards the skeleton, slowly beginning to reform into organs: eyes, lungs, heart, brain, and many others besides beginning to develop. Some of the fleshy parts attach themselves to the bones, forming muscle and sinew.
Your reflections stand up, staring at you blankly before springing to life:
The imperfect Norvegicus begins to melt away, sinking into his clothes and turning into a swarm of chittering rats, soon leaving nothing but a pile of rags.
Hermodur's copy grows much, much larger than the real thing, mouth twisting into a demonic snarl as the hammer ignites; unlike the real Mjolnir, the entire weapon is made of living flame, transforming into a burning sword.
Zunden raises her arms, beginning to glow all over, becoming an entity of blinding white light. She begins to float a foot above the ground, surrounded by radiant wheels that wildly spin around her.
Silver turns pitch black, transforming into a formless living shadow, rocketing up onto the ceiling and peering out at you all with glowing white eyes.
Rabi's yellow cloak extends and wraps around him as he readies his bow, scurrying backwards with many spidery legs, smoking with blue magical energy.
Violet's shade bulges and distorts horribly, collapsing into a pile of flesh and blood, becoming assimilated by the reconstituting skeleton.
The false Aurora twists into an inky form, flying towards one of the ornamental suits of armor. It springs to life and draws her silver sword.
The real Violet looks stunned and horrified at the sight of your nightmare counterparts, freezing in place.
Zunden's eyes widen, quickly holding up her ring and looking away,
"Ze light blind you!"
> Flash: spell, recharge 3; Emit a burst of magical energy, attuned to Light. Affects enemies all around you, but does not deal damage unless on crit, instead debuffing them with the effects of the Light element. (The target is momentarily blinded, suffering +1 DC to all rolls on its next turn, or +2 on a crit. This damage type deals twice as many hits versus undead enemies. Radiant spells can be used to illuminate the environment, providing a dazzling light source.)
[1d10+2]Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
At first, Hermodur stares at the display with his mouth hanging low. However, as the copy of himself stands tall with flaming hammer, Hermodur grows angry. He holds his own hammer up above his head.
"I am the messenger to Ailuros Bastet!" he shouts to assert himself to both versions of himself. "If I falter, I reflect poorly on a living goddess - on perfection. Clearly, this is something that cannot happen. So, it WILL NOT happen. I WILL NOT yield. This world, this ring, YOU. YOU will falter. We are real, you are imagined. YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER US!"
As he shouts, he ignites Mjolnir. [1d10] Sharpen for real this time!
[1d10+2] to intimidate the entire ring worldRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11
My heart races, and all I can bring myself to do is stand there and watch the horrifying display. Slowly, I drop to one knee and open up my cage with a trembling hand. Are we supposed to fight these things? Most of them didn't even seem to have a concrete form. I look back and forth from the party to the twisted reflections, at a loss for what to actually do.
"W-What's even going on in here?" The stallion panickedly forces out, drawing his own bow in response. He fires a darkened bolt of energy at his twisted reflection, wanting to be rid of it as soon as possible.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] (Dark Elemental AmmunitionRoll #1 2 + 2 = 4
You emit a pulse of light around the room. All except for your reflection flinch at it, momentarily disoriented by the blast of radiance. The shadow Silver seems particularly vulnerable to the light.
Your reflection points at you, muttering in its mockery of speech. A beam of light shoots towards you.
While Mjolnir fails to ignite once again, you thump it on the ground, challenging the doppelgangers. The foundations of the castle shudder as you refuse to give in to the mind tricks and nightmares presented to you. Reflection Hermodur steps forward, the burning sword shifting into a replica of Mjolnir. He returns your gesture, thumping his burning weapon on the ground, leering down at you. He is easily twice your size.>>703065
As you stand petrified, the horde of nightmare rats comes rushing towards you like the ocean's tide, gnawing and tearing with a hundred starving maws.
Your shot goes wide. Your copy rises up, a billowing hooded thing in yellow with countless legs, returning your shot with a volley of arrows. They scream shrilly as they fly through the air towards you.
The impostor Aurora takes a few steps towards you in its suit of armor, then begins to falter, staggering and fumbling before collapsing in a pile of twisted metal. A wisp flies out from it, becoming assimilated into the rapidly reconstituting dragon. Almost all of its organs are in place now, the bones covered in rapidly growing layers of muscle. Violet snaps out of her fear induced paralysis and starts stalking around the skeleton, trying to spear it in a vital point.Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 8, 3, 10, 9 = 30
/ Roll #3 8, 3 = 11
I stumble backward, nearly tripping over as I try to swat away the rats. As I aimlessly thrash around all that runs through my mind is the fact that this is what people see when my rats attack them. As I scream out in fear my three rats leave their cage and attempt to fight back the horde.
[1d10] Aimlessly thrashing about in hopes of protecting myself
[1d10]Rat 1 (DC-1)
[1d10]Rat 2 (DC-1)
[1d10]Rat 3 (DC-1)Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 5 = 5
/ Roll #4 5 = 5
Hermodur stares "down" his clone right back at him. But, he instinctively keeps track of the rest of the situation with his peripheral vision and cat-hearing. It wouldn't do to be taken by surprise while focusing on a different opponent.
Then, he notices the clone of Aurora drop dead without a fight and assimilate into the corpse of the dragon. Hermodur looks around to see what the real Aurora is doing.
[1d10] to find AuroraRoll #1 3 = 3
Also, [1d10] to Sharpen plzRoll #1 5 = 5
"You may be bright, but you are a pale imitation. I balanze ze light with ze dark."
Zunden tentacles her copy, hoping dark magic will counter it's radiant form.
> Prowler's Snare: spell, recharge 3; Conjure shadowy tentacles to bind a target in place, rendering them immobile for 1d3 turns. On a crit, this roll also gets a +1 bonus, but the effect cannot last more than 3 rounds. A Snared target may roll to break free of the spell, and doing so counts as an instant action if successful. Larger targets, as well as those tainted with dark magic, may be more resistant or outright immune to Snare.
[1d3]Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
"G-Gah, really?" he half-shouts, lobbing a bolt of flame at the reflection "K-Knock that off!">Magic Bolt [1d10+2] (Fire)Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
You manage to fend off the majority of them by kicking and stomping, but one of them slips by you and sinks its teeth into your neck. Luckily it was not able to lethally wound you, but the shock and pain of the attack sends you off balance, falling to the ground.>Norv takes 5 hits, helpless
Aurora flies over to you as she sees you fall, casting a strengthening spell on you.>Norv is Bolstered
Your rats do an admirable job stalling the tide of rats that seeks to consume you. One, however, succumbs to them, finding itself overwhelmed and collapsing over its mounting injuries.>Rat 1 takes 3 hits, helpless>>703069>>703070
You fail to ignite Mjolnir again as you look around for the real Aurora. You see her helping Norv as he falls to the rats that plague him.>>703071
You fire out shadowy tendrils, but they quail and shrivel before the light, disintegrating with a nauseous stench of brimstone. The beam of light hits you full force, burning your hide even through your thick hide. You are stunned by the attack, but not down yet.>Zunden takes 4 hits>+1 DC to next roll>>703072
You dodge one of the arrows, but the other hits you in the chest. You realize they are not arrows at all, but leeches, writhing snapping things that clamor for your blood. You tear it off before it can attach itself.>Rabi takes 3 hits
You respond to the attack with an orb of flame, hitting it dead on. It seems susceptible to this as it flinches and shudders horribly at the blow, but is not downed yet.>>703068>>703069>>703071>>703072
The horde of rats attacking Norv pull back, clumping together, squirming and piling on top of each other. Before long, they have reformed into the twisted shape of Norv himself, composed entirely of the squealing, writhing vermin. The rat-Norv lurches towards the real thing menacingly, the rats clustering at its hands to form huge claws that it uses to rake at the helpless Dog.
The monstrous Hermodur raises its hammer aloft before bringing it down on its real counterpart with staggering force.
The shadow-Silver silently creeps behind Rabi, hooves formed into wicked blades, going for a sneak attack.
The reflection Zunden raises its arms, glowing even brighter, powering itself up.
The shade of Rabi, faltering at the real thing's blow, collapses into a formless yellow robe, becoming assimilated with the dragon. Skin is beginning to form on it, and with it, scales hard as steel. Violet sees time running out and lunges, trying to pierce its twisted heart.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #3 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #4 5 + 2 = 7
grumble grumble heal self with orb, grumble grumble group heal with DC+1
[1d10+1] Healing Bonds: Self (orb), Rabi, NorvRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
I try to catch my breath as I pull myself to my feet, and my heart sinks as my rat squeals and collapses. "Come on, little guy," I cheer. "You can do it." It weakly attempts to pull itself back up.
My heart skips a beat as the rat-me lunges at me and I clumsily scramble backward, hoping to avoid it enough to get an attack in.
My other two rats attack without needing to be told.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
/ Roll #4 4 = 4
Hermodur looks over at Aurora doing nothing and contemplates the nature of these copies. He blocks the incoming attack with his shield and does nothing else.
Rabi rips off the leeches with a panicked shout, before trying to steady himself . He focuses on the dragon, trying to fire an arrow into its chest before it fully seals up.>Magic Bow: [1d10+3] (+1 Frozen Light, +1 Light Element)Roll #1 8 + 3 = 11
You expend your radiant orb and heal your injuries.>>703315
Empowered by Aurora's spell, you get back up, but are not fast enough to avoid your reflection's blow. Its claws collapse onto rats that rain down on you in a squirming, squealing rage, gnawing and tearing at you. You manage to swat them away before they can strike another mortal blow, but your injuries are still severe.>Norv takes 4 hits>>703316
You hunker down with the shield, bringing up to block the incoming blow. As the flaming hammer comes down, the snarling lion engraved on its surface glows fiercely, and the hammer glances off with a magical pulse. You hear a fierce clang
like a bell, along with an ethereal roar.>>703317
Seeing Violet try to weaken the dragon, you join in and fire an arrow into its chest. The arrow explodes with a brilliant fireworks display of radiance. The misshapen dragon throws its head back and howls like a wolf, disoriented by the sudden blast.
You feel a sudden jolt of agony as a blade is driven into your back. Weakened, you collapse to the ground, seeing a bubbling shadow vaguely shaped like Silver standing over you. It pauses to contemplate your prone form before flitting away like ash in the wind.>>703075>>703315
Violet's aim is true, driving the spear into the monstrous beast's chest. As she does so, scales and flesh form around her weapon. Panicking, she tries to yank it out, but to no avail; it's wedged firmly in the dragon's chest. Her blow weakens it, as the half formed monstrosity emits a horrible braying snarl and slams her to the ground with a mangled, half formed talon. With every moment that passes, the dragon seems more and more formed, the scales going from a sickly ashen hue to a resplendent bluish white.
The other Zunden, now crackling with flame-like wisps of pure light, raises one incandescent claw and swipes in a horizontal slash, lashing out with a conjured blade of pure sunlight.
The other Norv reforms into its basic shape again, this time forming one of its arms into a whiplike tendril of rats, lashing at the real Norv.
Aurora springs to action, clumsily hacking at the other Silver with her sword. The shadow retaliates by jabbing at her with her blades.
[2d10] Other Silver
The other Hermodur is not deterred, its left paw distorting with a sickening crack to become a monstrous claw that it swipes at Hermodur with.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #3 2 = 2
/ Roll #4 6, 1 = 7
/ Roll #5 3 = 3
Zunden tanks the hit, standing near an ally to bask in the light of their pocket sun.
>Bask: Healing Bonds
The rat squeals as it tries to build up enough energy to stand back up again.
I howl in pain and panic, use Zunden's sun to heal myself. Gritting my teeth, I try to catch the tendril under my arm and headbutt the rat Norv.
[1d10+1] Cheap shot
Both of my rats round and try to chew their way through the rats forming the thing's legs.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #3 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #4 5 + 1 = 6
Rat 2 manages to rip and tear through some of them, making your twisted reflection waver and lose its shape. The other rat finds itself outnumbered and wounded, and is forced to back away before its throat is bitten.>Rat 3 takes 1 hit
Rabi winces as he feels something drive into his withers, collapsing with a startled gasp. He's only down for a second or two before working himself back up to his hooves, and trying to fire off another arrow at the dragon before it forms up too much more.>Magic Bow: [1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Correction: Rat 3 isn't injured
Hermodur continues to stare down his opponent. It doesn't use its hammer. It's still attacking, but it's using the same hand Hermodur himself just used.
Silently, he revs up his hammer. [1d10] SharpenRoll #1 2 = 2
You take the blow, finding yourself momentarily blinded and disoriented by the attack. It passes through you with a spectral echoing sound, your insides feeling like they're on fire. You falter, but are not terribly wounded.>Zunden takes 2 hits>>703322
Rat 1 stands back up, bleeding but still able to fight.
You heal your injuries as quickly as they appear, golden light knitting your flesh. The rat whip strikes you across the chin, but you manage to grab it and pull the amalgamate closer, headbutting it as hard as you can. Both you and the other Norv stagger, but your enemy seems to have gotten the worst of it, falling into a mess of rats. It seems to be finding it harder and harder to stay together.>>703327
You try and prime Mjolnir again, but are forced to forgo this in order to beat back your enemy, parrying the claw rake. It stumbles backwards, but is still standing.>>703324
You shoot an arrow into the soft underside of its jaw. It doesn't seem to have done much, as the reforming dragon plucks it out like an inconvenient splinter.>>703321>>703322>>703324>>703327
Violet struggles to recover from the blow, dazed and reeling.
Aurora stabs the shadow Silver in the gut, slaying it with a single powerful blow. As it bubbles and roils, it lashes out, extending one foreleg around her and backstabbing her. The shadowy spike runs her through, piercing her lungs and coming out through the chest. Aurora silently crumples to the floor of the throne room, feebly dragging herself along the ground. The shadow Silver churns and fades, vanishing before the dragon can assimilate it.
The other Zunden maintains the offensive, leaping at Zunden with claws outstretched.
The other Norv reaches into its own body and hurls a horde of rats at Norv.
The other Hermodur reaches out with its enormous claw, aiming to grab Hermodur by the neck.
The dragon is almost fully formed at this point, though it seems weakened by the blows it has been dealt. Bones burst out from its back, becoming great leathery wings, and it breathes heavily as it sprouts several rows of knife-like teeth.Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
/ Roll #3 8, 2, 2 = 12
/ Roll #4 3 = 3
I take a second to recover, breathing heavily from the exertion. Out of the corner of my eye I notice Violet injured, and I feel a heavy weight settle on my stomach. Instead of continuing with the rat Norv, I make a mad dash to try and help her, ordering my rats to stay and fight.
Each of the rats hesitate before trying to climb the rat Norv, ripping and tearing into it.
[1d10]DC-1Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
/ Roll #4 7 = 7
Zunden watches Violet and Aurora fall, and grits her teeth as she once again allows the doppleganger to strike her as she heals her allies.
"Zhiz iz not ze end!"
[1d10+2] Healing Bonds: Aurora, Zunden (frozen), VioletRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
"Come one!" Hermodur shouts at Mjolnir unceremoniously. [1d10] to sharpenRoll #1 4 = 4
Knowing that the only person that can help Aurora and Violet is Zunden, Rabi knocks and fires his Splinterwood Arrow at the other dopplegangers in an attempt to clear the field a little. Even if it makes the dragon stronger, one source is probably better than multiple.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] On Other ZundenRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Dark element, not that it matters
You swat away the incoming rats as you dash over to Violet. One of them gnaws into your cheek, but you rip it off and throw it away like a used bandage. Violet only barely acknowledges your presence, her head still spinning from being thrown like a ragdoll.
Two of the rats are tossed aside, the first being too injured to get back up, while the third manages to burrow through the squirming horde with tooth and claw, killing many rats before jumping off. With that, the other Norv is defeated, the horde collapsing and scattering into the depths of the room.>Rat 1 is helpless at 0/1>Rat 2 takes 2 hits>>703331
Your body pulses with healing energy as the room is illuminated with a flash of light from the head of your staff. You thump it on the ground, sending out beams of healing power to your allies, as well as conjuring a small sun for yourself. Aurora's mortal wound closes, and she manages to get back up, clutching at her chest in vague disbelief. Violet finds the strength to recover, struggling back up and patting the sides of her head. Your clone pierces your scales and sinks its claws into your chest, but you barely feel the pain.>Zunden takes 3 hits>>703332
You fail to ignite it again, only just avoiding being grabbed by the demonic figure.>>703333
Your shot goes wide, the Splinterwood ricocheting off some pillars before clattering to the ground just out of reach.>>703330>>703331>>703332>>703333
Aurora expends her sun to gain further strength, staggering with sword in hoof towards the other Hermodur, stabbing at it.
The other Hermodur brings down its twisted copy of Mjolnir, unaware of Aurora behind it.
The other Zunden swipes at the real Zunden again.
The dragon seems almost complete, stretching its limbs and swinging its tail, getting adjusted to its surroundings. Its eyes are yet to open, and the wings are crumpled, like a newborn butterfly. It paws curiously at the spear embedded in its chest.Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
"I know you're not real, but you will still listen to me!" Hermodur says to the Mjolnir in his hand.
[1d10] sharpen!Roll #1 7 = 7
I'm still panicking as Violet stands. "Are you okay? That thing just… It just crushed
The first rat struggles to stand.
The second slowly limps over to my side and weakly climbs my leg, nestling itself into my pocket for warmth and reassurance.Roll #1 5 = 5
Trying to buy Zunden some breathing room,Rabi hurls a fireball at the copy of her.>Magic Bolt [1d10+2] [1d10+2] (Fire)Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
Zunden quickly expends the orb she just gave herself, trying to re-arm Violet by mending the spear out of the dragon.
[1d10+1] Mend the spear wound of dragon. (doesn't heal hits/wounds)
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3
Mjolnir finally springs to life, belching a gout of flame as it ignites. Your confidence bolstered, you sidestep the blow, countering with a pommel jab to the chest that knocks your demonic doppelganger off balance.>>703337
She nods as she struggles back up, leaning on you for a moment. "I'm… fine. Just a bit frazzled."
The rat manages to get back up, hobbling towards you. It looks like it broke its foot.>>703339
The other Zunden floats up, avoiding your fireball shot and countering by hurling an orb of light at you. It explodes in your face, stunning you.>DC+1 to next roll>>703340
You reach out with your magic and bend the dragon's flesh to your will, forcing the spear out of its chest, leaving an open wound. The spear clatters to the ground, slippery with black blood.>>703336>>703337>>703339>>703340
Aurora's blow is useless against the other Hermodur's leathery hide. It spins around to face her instead, swinging its hammer in an uppercut.
She does her best to fly out of the way of the attack.
Violet shuffles over to her spear, retracting it into a sword, nodding in thanks to Zunden.
The other Zunden begins to charge up again, crackling with wisps of light.
The dragon is complete. It unfurls its enormous wings, spanning the entire throne room. The eyes slowly open, a deep lilac hue, burning with a desire to destroy. He rears on his hind legs, unleashing a deafening roar that shakes the foundations of the castle.
>Archdragon Lysander has awakenedhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb6b2EMRMQc
Lysander rears his great head, mouth billowing smoke. With another sky-cracking roar, he unleashes a torrent of scorching purple flames, engulfing friend and foe alike in his terrible rage.>roll to avoid
[1d10] Violet dodgeRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 5 = 5
I scoop the other rat into my pocket, furrowing my brow at the poor little guy's injury. Maybe I'll go ahead and unsummon them. They've done enough.
Before I get a chance to, I finally properly notice the dragon still coming together, and take a step back just before it finishes. I barely manage to will my legs to move, attempting to leap out of the way before he bathes me in flames.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
[1d10] dodge, keep in mind saurian damage reduction
Zunden maneuvers herself behind Hermodur and uses his sun to Bask once again.
>Bask: Healing BondsRoll #1 9 = 9
Rabi yelps as he's blinded by the duplicate, before panickedly trying to duck out of the way >Dodge [1d10] DC+1Roll #1 1 = 1
"Finally," Hermodur mumbles in annoyance.
He plants his feet in the ground and puts his hammer head down to the ground. The front opens up, and he aims it at Zunden's clone. He swings it like a golf club to launch a ball of energy at Zunden's clone.
[1d10+2] [1d10+2]>ranged attack, DC-1, take larger rollRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 + 2 = 4
Hermodur quickly follows that up by putting his shield out in front of him.
Still putting the shield up, just no bulwark.
[1d10] to blockRoll #1 2 = 2
You are not fast enough to get to cover in time. The flames engulf you, and it is only because you are able to drop to the ground that you avoid being incinerated completely. You survive by the skin of your teeth, but your injuries are severe.>Norv and Rabi take 10 hits, helpless +1 wound>>703343
You manage to get out of the throne room in time, diving to the ground as the flames rush over your head. They lick at you, scorching your clothes, but you yourself remain unharmed.>>703345
You fling a fireball at the clone. It bursts in a brilliant display, but it doesn't seem to have done much to the other Zunden. More of a distraction than anything else.>>703347
You instinctively try to block it with your shield, but to no avail. You find yourself overwhelmed by the flames, being forced to drop to the ground to avoid getting killed outright. Mjolnir starts to glow like a burning ember from the heat.>Hermodur takes 9 hits, helpless +1 wound>>703342>>703343>>703344>>703345
Violet manages to dive out of the way, but still suffers some burns. Aurora meets much the same fate as most of the others, being brought to death's door by the flames. The other Zunden and Hermodur are incinerated almost instantly, though Zunden is only just still alive. The other Hermodur is assimilated by Lysander, the skin beneath the pearly scales glowing as he absorbs the nightmarish reflection.
Violet struggles to get back up.
The other Zunden raises her claw feebly, beginning to conjure a small sun much like the real thing.
Lysander charges forward, breaking through the wall of the throne room with no regard for its stability. He lunges out into the courtyard and towards Zunden.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #3 8 + 3 = 11
Hermodur roars with passion and pain as he goes down and struggles to get back up to continue the fight. [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
I scream as the flames wash over me, twitching from the sensory overload of being incinerated. I can just barely see everyone else through my tears, almost everyone going down just like me. With powerful determination, but weak arms, I try to pull myself back up. We need to protect each other. I need to help protect them.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Buckling under the pain of the fire, Rabi takes a few moments to try and force himself back into it. They're not done just yet! [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Zunden flinches as the dragon lunges towards her, once again embracing the hit as she sends out a blast of healing light out to her allies in an attempt to save them from their peril.
[1d10+2] Healing Bonds; Aurora, Rabi, Zunden (frozen)Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
You anchor Mjolnir to the ground and push up against it, propping yourself up again, feeling powerful despite your grievous injuries.>>703350
At first you can't, but then, through sheer determination, you pull yourself back up, standing tall amidst the burning room. You shrug off the pain and get ready for a fight.>>703351
Your injuries are too much for you to bear, and you fail to recover, for now.>>703352
With a last ditch effort, you send out another pulse of healing light, bringing your allies back from the brink of death. Seeing them regain their strength, you take the blow from the Archdragon head on as he barrels into you, snatching you in his jaws and thrashing you about like a chew toy before tossing you aside.>Zunden takes 4 hits, helpless>>703349>>703350>>703351>>703352
Through Zunden's healing magic, Rabi finds the strength to get back up, as does Aurora. She lopsidedly flies over to Zunden and returns the favor, casting a strengthening spell on her.>Zunden is Bolstered
Violet struggles back up, gritting her teeth and lashing out at Lysander's ankles, stabbing at them as best she can.
The other Zunden fails to cast a healing spell before vanishing in a burst of light, getting absorbed by Lysander.
Lysander ignores Zunden and wheels around, growling as it paces around the white tree in the courtyard like a feral dog defending its territory. Without warning, he lashes out at Hermodur with his enormous tail.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
Zunden offers a thumbs up to Aurora, pulling herself with the help of Aurora's magic,
"None of you are dying while I ztill breath…"
I clench my jaw and howl madly as I charge Lysander. Everyone else is giving it their all. So am I. I click my tongue and scream "Attack!" Practically foaming at the mouth, I leap at Lysander and try to dig my claws into the tendons in the back of his leg.
My rats weakly climb out of my pocket and clamber across my arm. For a moment I feel terrible, but then I remind myself that none of this is real. Still, after all this I'm going to owe them.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
Hermodur smiles as he stands back up. He looks up at the big dragon. "Just you now," he says with a grin. "No more distractions. You don't stand a chance."
>Hunter's Eye on big Lysander
Hermodur rushes down the dragon. Once he reaches his chin, he stops, plants his foot in the ground and lets the rocket roar. The head of Mjolnir flies upwards for an uppercut into Lysander's lower jaw.
[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>DC-1, take the larger roll
[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>Roll #1 10 + 3 = 13
/ Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8
/ Roll #3 3 + 3 = 6
/ Roll #4 5 + 3 = 8
Growling with frustration, the stallion works himself back up on to all fours, before loosing a dimly-colored bolt of energy at the spear-hole in his chest.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] (Knockout)Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
You get back up, still a little winded from the attack but otherwise good to keep going.>>703358
You bare your claws and tear at Lysander's leg; however, his scales are as hard as iron, and you can't get through them. However, you see your rats clamber up the leg, undetected by Lysander himself, and along his underbelly towards his exposed chest wound. Pausing ever so briefly to sniff for blood, they slip between the scales and into the open wound, vanishing from sight for now.>>703359
You only just avoid getting knocked to the ground by the tail lash, standing your ground and waiting for Lysander to charge. As he does so, you swing Mjolnir upwards, your blow connecting with his jaw. You hear the splintering of solid bone as your strike rings true, and Lysander lets out a bellow of agony and rage.>>703360
You nock a magic arrow, take careful aim and fire. Your aim is dead on, hitting the bullseye perfectly and piercing the dragon's chest. It roars and stamps in fury, belching purple flame every which way.>>703355>>703358>>703359>>703360
Violet's attack is ineffective, and she is unable to pierce his thick scales. She tries a different approach, darting under him as he's distracted by Hermodur and extending her spear, jabbing upwards into the underbelly.
Aurora follows her lead and does the same.
Lysander snarls, striking like a serpent at Hermodur, baring hundreds of teeth.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 5 + 3 = 8
His wings begin to beat as he starts preparing to take off, conjuring up hurricane force winds that threaten to sweep you all off your feet.>roll to maintain your footing (Instant)
Hermodur grins at Lysander's bared teeth. "I'm not done yet! YOU WILL BREAK!"
He pulls Zunden's sun out of his pocket and breaks it in his hand.>Activating sun
Then, he swings Mjolnir like a bat right into Lysander's bared teeth.
[1d10+4] [1d10+4]>DC-1, take larger rollRoll #1 6 + 4 = 10
/ Roll #2 3 + 4 = 7
[1d10] Don't prone me bro
Rabi tries hurling another bolt of flame, this time at one of the dragon's wings.
Magic Bolt [1d10+2] [1d10+2]Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #3 2 + 2 = 4
At first I'm frustrated that I'm effectively doing absolutely nothing. Thinking quick after seeing my rats, I extend my claws, flattening it out into a knife-hand. Lunging forward, I try to shove both my claws into Lysander's chest, trying to hold onto his insides tight as he takes off.
[1d10] improviseRoll #1 4 = 4
Zunden flashes her ring out as she waits for her healing powers to return to her.
[1d10] FlashRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
>>703363>>703361>fixed health again
After his attack, Hermodur uses the backswing to keep his balance from the gust of wind. [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
You crush the shell of light in your hand as you face down the irate archdragon, waiting for the right moment to strike. You take the blow full on as you give him a faceful of hammer, splintering his bared teeth. He howls and staggers. As you take a moment to recover and brace for the winds, he charges forward again with terrifying speed, snatching you up in his jaws, his remaining teeth easily piercing your leather armor and sinking into your flesh. He spits you out, and you clamber back up, injured but not down.>Hermodur takes 3 hits>+1 critfail range to all rolls next round>>703365
The winds knock you off balance, and your shot misses by a hair. You find it difficult to concentrate with the gale force winds.>+1 critfail range to all rolls next round>>703366
Seeing him charging and rampaging like a mad bull, you seize the opportunity and hold on for dear life as he takes off. Your hands are coated in slippery black blood, but you manage to hold on, for now.>>703367
Your ring proves ineffective as the sudden gust of wind tosses you about like a scrap of paper. You crash into the white tree and hit the ground hard. While you are relatively unharmed, your ears ring, and your vision is blurred.>+2 critfail range to all rolls next round>roll Perception>>703363>>703365>>703366>>703367
Violet spears his underbelly and clings to her weapon's haft with all fours. Aurora is caught off guard by the sudden burst of wind, and is knocked aside, disoriented.
Lysander begins to soar up into the air, surveying you from above. You can feel life ebbing from the colossal dragon, but he is not dead yet; if anything, your attacks have made him even angrier.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9fcsTNf7eM
Smoke billows from his toothy maw as he prepares to unleash another torrent of purple flame.
[1d10] perception, critfails on 3
As Zunden's ear-holes ring, she takes a moment to collect herself to unleash another healing burst of light.
>Bask: Healing BondsRoll #1 9 = 9
"You will never win, Lysander!" Hermodur calls up to him as he prepares his big attack. "Not even in your dreams!"
Hermodur opens the front of Mjolnir again. Once again, he swings it like a golf club. This time, he aims the ball of energy for the inside of Lysander's mouth.
[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>ranged, DC-1, take the larger rollRoll #1 1 + 3 = 4
/ Roll #2 2 + 3 = 5
I let out a maddened scream as I dig deeper into his chest, searching for something soft and meaty to dig my claws into. The blood oozing up my arm causes my stomach to seize, but I remind myself over and over that it isn't real. Like a baby kangaroo climbing into its mommy's pouch, I try to pull his wound open and tear my way inside, fully prepared to tear him apart from the inside out like a cornered rat.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
While not expecting to land the same shot twice, Rabi tries to shake off some of the constant aching pain with the assurance that none of this is real, and aims a dark magic-laden arrow towards Lysander's mouth>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] (Dark)Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
You notice that when you hit the white tree, Lysander seemed to flinch in pain. You remember that he seemed fairly defensive of the tree when he moved to the courtyard.>>703371
You predict he's going to soar up before carpet bombing you with a gout of flame. You predict wrong. He sees you about to counter attack, and instead closes his mouth and swoops down, barreling into you with the force of a runaway train. He slams you straight through a pile of rubble and into a wall, leaving you there to nurse your wounds before flying back up.>>703372
You cling for as long as you can, trying to dig into the dragon, but you lose your grip. Clinging for as long as you can, your strength fails you, and you slip and plummet to the castle courtyard below. For a moment, it feels like you're suspended midair; then, a jolt of blinding pain rockets through your body as you hear a stomach turning crack
. As you struggle to recover, you look down at your body, and see both your legs at impossible angles. You notice that you can't move your arms either; or the rest of your body, for that matter. You are dimly aware of Violet nearby, shouting something.>Norv is helpless at 0/1>>703374
As he bares his teeth, you hold your breath, draw your nocked arrow and loose. You watch as it whistles through the air, finding its home on the roof of Lysander's mouth. He roars furiously and beats his colossal wings, losing balance midair as he shakes off the sudden attack. He seems weakened by your dark arrow.>>703370>>703371>>703372>>703374
The sudden attack from Lysander proves too much for Violet to handle, slipping off and thumping to the ground with a soft grunt. She quickly gets back up, shaking herself off.
After having divebombed Hermodur into submission and shaking off Violet, Lysander soars back up, licks of flame sparking from his mangled jaws as he does a graceful midair spin. With another star rattling bellow, Lysander swoops down, unleashing an onslaught of fire on you as he leaves a trail of lilac sparks in his wake. Instead of a single long stream, he seems to sputter, doubtless crippled by Rabi's arrow.>roll to dodge
[1d10] Violet Dodge
[1d10] Aurora Dodge
[1d10] Hermodur DodgeRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 4 = 4
Watching the arrow fly with a bit of satisfaction, the stallion lets out a startled whinny and leaps out of the way of the weakened flames.>[1d10] DodgeRoll #1 8 = 8
Using my wings to gain vertical movement, i try to leap out of the way of the roaring fire!
[1d10] Dodge!Roll #1 6 = 6
All I can manage to do is weakly groan in pain as tears fill my eyes. This is supposed to be fake, but this is the realest, most intense pain I've ever felt in my life. I faintly hear Violet's voice in the distance -or maybe she's close and I can't tell?- but I can't make out what she saying. I look in the direction of her voice and wordlessly mouth, "I'm sorry."
After rolling out of the way, the stallion looses an arrow at the dragon!>Magic Bow: [1d10+1]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Zunden launches off a healing wave before ducking behind the tree, teeth grinding as she watches the event unfold.
"I… I don't know if I can keep zhiz up…"
[1d10+2] Healing Bonds: Rabi (frozen), Hermodur, AuroraRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
You manage to duck for cover, feeling the searing heat as the flames pass over your head. You are unharmed, for now. Retaliating, you quickly fire off another arrow at Lysander. It hits him in the throat and stays firmly wedged. He falters, but is not downed.>>703379
You fly out of the way and avoid the worst of it, but not all. Your wings are scorched, and you almost corkscrew to the ground, but manage to stay airborned.>Silver takes 3 hits>>703380
Through blurred vision, you see Violet get up and dart over to you, oblivious to the rising tide of cleansing fire behind her. She starts and tries to get out of the way, but you lack the strength to do so. For a brief moment, you feel as if you can see through the castle to the mountains beyond, meeting the Cuckoo's eyeless gaze. Then, there is only fire, and then, nothing.
The next thing you know, you are back at Fumblemore's house, the ritual diagrams still in their place. Your other companions are bent over almost as if meditating, their heads bowed and their bodies uncannily still. Your head feels light, and you are a little stiff from having sat for so long, but other than that you feel fine. Looking through the nearby window, you can see that it is now sundown.
Fumblemore can be heard nearby, humming idly to himself. It sounds like he's upstairs.>roll Perception>>703382
You take cover behind the tree, protecting yourself from the tidal wave of purple flame. It engulfs the tree, but to your surprise, it remains untouched by the fire. Focusing for a moment, you thump your staff on the ground and send out beams of solid light to your companions, restoring them even as the flames envelop them.>>703383
Hermodur and Aurora are consumed by the flames, but due to what is practically divine intervention on Zunden's part, they are healed as soon as they are burned, and remain standing. Violet isn't so lucky, the flames enveloping her before she can get to cover. She lets out a cry of pain as she collapses, almost immediately struggling to recover.
Aurora seems to hesitate, limping a little, but pauses to use her healing orb before bravely drawing her sword and flying up, taking a rather clumsy midair swing at Lysander's head.
Hermodur follows suit in using his orb and flings another bolt of energy skywards.
Lysander remains airborne, lilac eyes flashing as he scouts you from above. You can hear him breathing raggedly, black blood dripping from his many wounds. He pauses to think for a moment, then tries to divebomb Zunden.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #3 3 + 4 = 7
/ Roll #4 7 + 4 = 11
/ Roll #5 6 + 3 = 9
As Lysander unleashes his torrent of fire, you see Norv make a feeble effort to dodge, but to no avail. He is incinerated by the flames, and when they subside there is nothing left but a pile of ash.
Flying above the party, i make a beeline for Lysander's ragged form, sliding a shiv over a red-stained cloth before diving for an exposed wound to stab!
[1d10] RuptureRoll #1 4 = 4
Zunden's eye water as she watches Norv turn to ash,
"Damn it all… Norv!"
She hyperventilates, rushing over back to the battle scene to help Violet up as Lysander divebombs her.
[1d10] help up Violet>>703384>to hermodur>>703386>>703381
"Ze tree in ze courtyard! He iz protecting it! When I hit it he flinched, I zhink it's bonded to him."
Zunden shouts out, baring her back to Lysander's claws/teeth.Roll #1 1 = 1
"Bonded? Perhaps we should try striking it? It may very well end the fight now!"
"I can try, I guess! Out of the way!" He shouts, bursting his frozen light orb and flinging a fireball at the tree>Magic Bolt: [1d10+3] [1d10+3]Roll #1 8 + 3 = 11
/ Roll #2 1 + 3 = 4
"I am ztruggling enough keeping everyone up. We juzt lozt Norvegicuz."
Zunden says, breathing heavily,
"I hope he iz alright back in the real realm."
My eyes snap open and I instinctively scream as the feeling of being baptized in flames is only seconds behind me. My breath catches in my throat as my hands shoot to my face. Frantically, I look around me.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Lysander moves to the side at the last moment, and your attack glances off of his iron scales. He doesn't even acknowledge your presence.>>703387
You are unable to reach Violet in time as Lysander's charge sweeps you off your feet. Instinctively, you curl up into a ball to avoid the worst of it, winded and bruised but not downed yet.>Zunden takes 3 hits>>703389
Your fireball sets the tree alight in a dazzling spectacle, the lilac leaves consumed and the brilliant white wood crackling and turning black as pitch. Lysander winces in midair and snarls, as if damaging the tree had injured his heart, faltering in midair.>>703386>>703387>>703389
Violet's face is a mask of horror as she sees Norv turned to dust. She just stares blankly in shock, unmoving.
Aurora's sword strikes true as she sinks it into Lysander's chest. Her eyes flash with determination and what seems to you almost like enjoyment as she buries the blade as deep as it can go, then twists. She pulls it down and flies back down to the ground as Lysander screams in agony.
Hermodur's energy orb cripples his left wing. Unable to keep aloft any longer, Lysander seems to lie suspended in midair for a moment, then begins to fall, plummeting through the castle ramparts and sending debris every which way.
>roll to dodge and also roll Perception
The ground quakes as the tremendous dragon falls to the ground, barely drawing breath as he glares at you with burning hatred. In a last ditch effort, he feebly swipes at whoever's closest with one giant talon - in this case, Rabi.
Hermodur takes Mjolnir in both hands and swings at the burning tree as hard as he can.
[1d10+2] [1d10+2]Roll #1 8 - 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #3 4 + 2 = 6
Missing my mark with the shiv, i try to fly over the debris flying from the crumbling castle!
"My, that seemed to have done it! He's weakened, strike quickly!"Roll #1 1 = 1
Diving down, i strike at what exposed flesh i can find with my shivs!
[1d10] Melee, Lysander
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
/ Roll #3 4 = 4
[1d10+1] perception with orb used>forgoing dodge
Zunden consumes her orb in her claws as she finishes running over to Violet, hugging her so that any debris heading towards her hits Zunden first.
"He… thiz iz… not reality. We can't fail Norv by letting Lyzander take uz too!"Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
It takes you a few moments to calm down. Looking down at yourself, you see that you are perfectly fine. It is as if the recent events were all just a bad dream.
Curiously, you feel something in your pocket that wasn't there before. You examine the object: it is a single black feather. You're not sure what to make of it, but you can sense a vague aura of magical energy coming from it.
>>703392>Oh shit, debris [1d10]
After ducking out of the way of the debris(hopefully), he'll look around the field and let out a sigh of relief. Reminding himself the pile of ash isn't
actually Norv, and the dog is completely fine, Rabi nods in agreement with Zunden.>>703395
"Speaking of which, let's get this over with." he says, taking a few moments to try and calm himself down before firing an arrow at the downed dragon>Magic Bow: [1d10+1]Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
Perception, forgot [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
I furrow my brow, looking the feather over. Huh. What's this weird obsession with birds and feathers that's been around. Slowly I pull myself to my feet, a little unsure of my movements for a second. When I realize my feet aren't going to crumple around me, I clear my throat, trying to get Fumblemore's attention.
You are peppered with debris, taking a rock to the head that leaves you dizzy and unbalanced.>Silver takes 3 hits>>703395
You take a few blows from the falling rubble, but find yourself relatively unharmed. Violet barely acknowledges you, staring at where Norv was with glazed eyes.>>703397
You deftly avoid the falling debris, draw an arrow and fire it point blank into Lysander's eye. It sinks all the way up to the fletching. >>703395
You are faintly aware of a sudden gust of strong wind, and what sounds like the beating of great wings.>>703393>>703395>>703397
Hermodur shrugs off the blow from Lysander and cracks the tree with a powerful blow. With a faint groan, it begins to topple, collapsing to the ground. Rabi's arrow finishes the job, slaying the dragon with a final blow. You hear a faint sigh as he finally closes his eyes, lying motionless.
A wisp of rainbow light begins to snake from Lysander's mouth and eye sockets, as well as from the downed tree. The wisps stretch and extend into serpentine coils, twisting around each other to form an orb of many colors. It slowly begins to grow larger and larger, as the sound of wings Zunden noticed also grows louder. The ground begins to rumble, and the grounds surrounding the dream castle collapse, sinking far into the earth. The sky and horizon seem to simply melt away, giving way to pitch black nothingness. Before long, all that is left is a tiny island of ground in a vast black void.
The beating of wings grows deafening. The Cuckoo flies in, soaring over you. It is impossibly huge, a grey and black striped creature the size of the world, with eyes like gaping voids. It extends its wings around your tiny patch of land, enveloping you. There is a flurry of scratching and fluttering, and then nothing more.
You begin to stir. You find yourselves coming to back in Fumblemore's house. It is now dusk, as far as you can see, and Fumblemore himself can be heard upstairs humming idly as he works. Norv is already awake, examining what seems to be a single black feather.>>703399
He doesn't seem to hear you. He's upstairs working on something. You see the rest of the group begin to stir, looking just as disoriented as you but otherwise unharmed.
Awaking with a start after the bird's approach, i look to the others before clearing my throat.
"..D-did we do it? Break the seal on the ring?"
Darn. I was hoping I'd get a chance to talk to him before they woke up. I look everyone over, a still little put-off by the whole experience. It's odd, though. I can barely even remember what any of it actually felt like. "Hey, how'd it go. You manage to beat him without me?"
Zunden gets up with a jolt, looking around.
"Norvegicuz, thank ze Arcane."
She says, going over to hug the smaller diamond dog.
"Get yourzelf to Violet and comfort her."
She says breaking away, pointing to the mare.
I jump as Zunden wraps her arms around me, surprised by the sudden contact. I knit my brow as I glance over at Violet. She was right above me when the flames hit. I didn't even think about that. I walk over to her and crouch down, gently setting my hand on her foreleg. "Hey, Vi, you alright?"
"It appears so. Terribly sorry about that, Norvey, i'd imagine that must have been a terrifying experience."
I let out a quiet chuckle. "Yeah," I say. "Easily in my top three since coming here. Probably even top five of all time."
Rabi wakes with a shout, covering his eyes and holdind his ears a little. He shakes it out a few seconds later, before sighing "Damn cuckoos… whatever. Is everyone alright?">>703402>>703406
"Norv! Good to see you okay! I mean, we knew you'd be fine, but… it's good to see you, all the same." he says, giving the diamond dog a friendly pat on the shoulder.
Aurora pats the sides of her head, looking a bit disoriented. "It looks that way," she muses, nodding to the crucible in the center of the room containing the rings. They have a slight rainbow sheen to them now that wasn't there before.>>703403
Aurora alerts you to the now glowing rings. "Seems like we did what we had to," she comments. "Care to try them out? I'd offer to, but I can't really wear them." She gives you an odd look, but offers no further comment for now.>>703402>>703404
Violet still looks glassy eyed. She just stares at you for a moment; then, without warning, rushes in and bear hugs you. She clings on to you like her life depends on it, as if she's trying to reassure herself that you're real. You can feel her sobbing quietly.
Aurora nods. "Bit dizzy, but holding together," she comments.
I straighten up a little at first, but ease into her just as fast, wrap my arms around her, and hold her close. "It's okay," I tell her. "It wasn't real. I'm okay." I gently run my hand through her mane.
Zunden sighs in bittersweet relief, looking to Violet and Norvegicus embrace. She turns her head to Aurora, nodding and chuckling weakly.
"Ze burden of having digitz, I zuppoze. Let uz zee if all zhat bore fruit."
Zunden says, hesitantly taking the rings, trying them on after a pause.
"excellent news, then! With those rings clear of his lock the ship is now fully ours to control."
"Now, i suppose we should track fumblemore down to pay him for the ritual.."
getting back onto my hooves, i take a look up the stairs as i try to find the wizard.
Rabi leaves Violet for Norvegicus, before turning to offer Silver a smile. "What about you, dear? It looks like you sort of… got crushed there at the end. Everything alright?"
"Crushed? Oh, nothing so severe, dear!" i reply, laughing lightly.
"A few rocks were kicked up, perhaps, but certainly nothing too
After what feels like forever, she breaks away, wiping her eyes and smiling weakly.>>703411
You put on the four rings. For a moment, nothing seems to happen, then the mental assault begins once more as you can see the ship and everything on it at the same time. This time, however, it is overwhelming but not unmanageable. With some effort, you find that you can almost push the ship to the back of your mind and focus on what is happening in front of you right now. You cannot do this for long, however, before your attention is devoted fully to the ship. With some practice, you may yet be able to manage the control of the ship. At least you don't run the risk of becoming a vegetable now.>>703412
You head upstairs, where you see Fumblemore humming cheerily in his study as he mixes some sort of powder in a beaker. He starts as you come in. "Oh, you're awake!" he says with a smile, putting the beaker aside and starting to rummage for a parchment on his desk. "Hello again. How was it all? I have the bill here somewhere… Ah. Here we go. For the ritual services, that'll be 600 bits."
I bring my arm to rest just under her chin, holding her head in my hand. Looking straight into her eyes, I ask, "Are you okay?"
Eh, it just looked… bad, I guess. I don't know." he says, with a bit of a nervous chuckle.>>703415
"We managed, I suppose. Don't think I'll be forgetting that experience anytime soon. As for payment… I'm pretty sure we've got more than enough to cover that."
"Ah yes, it was quite the.. interesting experience, to be sure. None of us were quite prepared for such a heavy resistance from the seal, though we managed to break through."
"As for the matter of payment, i believe Zunden was in charge of the bits, let me see if she's free..">>703411
"Zunden!" you hear, Silver calling you from the upstairs room "We've the matter of payment, 600 bits for the ritual. You've our bits in the bag, correct?"
Zunden's head snaps back as her mind is assaulted. But she powers through and removes the ring before she collapses.
"It'z… it'z bearable now. It ztill takez all my mental ztrength juzt zo hold power over it zhough.">>703418
Zunden heads upstairs, taking 6 coined-filled pouches from her magical, slightly larger pouch.
"Zix hundred, alright."
She looks like a wreck, but she nods firmly. "Don't run off like that," she says with a nervous laugh. "If you die I'm never talking to you again." She gives you another quick hug and heads upstairs to join Silver and Rabi. >>703417>>703418
"I see," Fumblemore nods, touching his chin. "I won't pry, but I'm sure it was quite horrible." He waits patiently to receive his payment.>>703419
Fumblemore greets you as you enter the room, taking the payment gratefully. "Wonderful!" he beams. "I'm glad we could do business. We really should do this more often.">>703417>>703418>>703419
"Oh! I almost forgot. Someone came looking for you. Well, more you in particular," he saysas an aside to Zunden, "but they wanted to speak to you all. I didn't catch their names, but I remember their faces: a blind mare, and a hippogriff knight. At least I think he was a knight, since he was wearing armor and all. In any case, she said something about owing you a debt, and needing to see you urgently. They said they'd be… One moment, I wrote it down here somewhere. …Ah. The Naissance
wharf, in the Downs, tomorrow at midnight." He shrugs. "Friends of yours, I take it?"
I watch her as she walks away, studying her. I really shouldn't have rushed in like that, but it really seemed like I had a chance. Maybe it was a little selfish of me. I sigh, steel myself, and follow her up to Fumblemore.
My face pales as he mentions the spooky wharf. "That's, uh… That's the ghost boat, right?"
"Blind mare… could zhat be.."
Zunden's eyes widen,
"I was meaning to vizit ze Zanctuary… Well zhat meanz we can't go chazing danger tommorow if we zhink it'll take too long."
Zunden looks to Fumblemore with a bit of confusion,
"How long did… zhat all take, anywayz?"
*monaztery , not sanctuary
"Oh? Interesting.. We'll have to meet with them then, our mysterious indebted allies."
"For now, at least, our business is concluded, unless anypony else has something in mind. Now that the ship is freed, our next step i suppose would be to track down that beast the city guard was having issue with. Nasty business, that, but better to spare the city than leave it to its business."
"That's actually a good question. We still have a job to do. Not sure how they'll take it if we're late to that."
"Eh… it could've gone worse?" he says, shrugging a little "It's sticking, though. It worked though, right?" >>703424
"Yeah! Can't be worse than what we just went through anyways, right?"
"Mmm, perhaps.. Though do keep in mind if one of us were to die this time
, there's no waking up in a ritual circle."
"Oh yes," he nods gravely. "The haunted galley of Braildorn. Quite a sordid story behind it, if you care to hear it.">>703422
"You've been under the spell for seven hours," he explains. "Not to worry though. Whatever happened down there, I'm fairly sure it had no bearing on our world. All a mere bad dream." Aurora, as usual, says nothing, but looks curiously from him to Norv.>>703424
"Oh, you're going after the Beast? Well… good luck, I suppose. Plenty have tried, but… well, only a handful have come back from hunting it. I have a good feeling about you though!">>703426
"It seems so," he says, smiling as he sees the shining rings Zunden carries. "Take good care of those. Many would kill to have their own Sanctuary.">>703421>>703422>>703424>>703426
"Well then. If that's all for now, you must excuse me. There's something rather odd about the stars this evening, and I have to get ready for the next Swap Meet besides…"
Violet and Aurora do a double take, looking excited. Even Aurora looks intrigued at the mention. "Swap Meet?" Violet asks eagerly. "Where?"
"Oh, not for another fortnight. Hadn't you heard?"
She looks frustrated. "No, where?" she repeats, slightly louder.
"No need to yell. I'm just a little hard of hearing is all. I was told it'd be in the Weeping City this time." He looks to Zunden. "Might be a good reason to go see what you can do with that signet of yours."
"Well, I really must bid farewell now. Things to be, places to do. So if you won't be requiring my services…"
"W-Well… right. We've got Norv though, right? This sorta stuff's his bread and butter.">>703428
"Definitely good to have, yeah. Ehm… though, what's a 'Swap Meet'? I think I've heard of Sanctuaries, but not… that."
I can't help but grin a little. "I actually feel pretty good about this, too. Almost excited, even. Especially if I can get a map of the sewer system, I feel like I can at least make it a good deal easier on us."
"Erm.. A 'swap meet'? I'm afraid i've no idea what you mean. I suppose it might be a trading area of some sort?"
"I might want to hear it some time, but for now I think we're both a little busy. I'll be back when I'm free?"
"Sure- maybe we could talk to a guard, or a member of a maintenance crew in town? Someone that might end up there often could have a map."
"3 tomorrow? I… think I'm available then." He checks a ledger. "Yes, I can make an appointment for then. Not a problem!">>703429>>703431
Fumblemore, Aurora and Violet all look at you with confusion. "Oh, that's right," Violet says. "You're new here still. Makes sense."
"It's a gathering," Aurora explains. "They hold it every 1000 days, always in a different place."
"1200 days, actually," Fumblemore corrects. "Essentially, the Swap Meet is a market. The biggest market in all the Echoes. Anyone who's anyone will be there. They come from all over: Braildorn, Sardewald, Withick, Durenwol, The Blasted Heath, you name it. The whole land gathers for a few days for the great bazaar."
"They don't just trade with money," Aurora adds. "Anything valuable can be exchanged if both parties agree, and even favors are a form of currency, depending on what the favor is. Kind of like those coins you got from Tiger Clan."
"The best thing about it," says Violet, "is the truce. Market Truce, it's called. No one can harm anyone without consent. No one's broken the truce in living memory either. Everyone's there on neutral ground to carry out their business."
"It's a glorious tradition," Fumblemore asserts. "I haven't missed a one in all my years of exile here. If you get the chance to, you should see about attending!">>703430>>703433
"A map? What do we need a map for?" Aurora asks bluntly. "We have the compass."
"Goodness, that sounds amazing! Rabi dear, we really should see if we can visit!"
"Just the place for finery and valuables! And perhaps, if we're lucky.. Somepony with information on a ritual site..?" i add in a hushed tone, leaning in towards rabi at the mention of the blade."
"I actually said- H'm. Well, three probably works for me too. Alright, then, I'll be back tomorrow at three." I glance over at Aurora and cock an eyebrow. "If I have a map then I'll know where to set traps. We can use the compass to figure out where it is, get ahead of it, set traps based on locations on the map to head it off, and then ambush it. Use the enclosed space to our advantage. WIthout a map I'm just kind of going blind."
"A map would let us plan out our approach. Even if we know where it is, it won't do us any good if we don't have the ability to use that information. It's like casing a joint before robbing it, yeah? See the best ins and outs, and where you don't want to be.">>703435
"That sounds fantastic- maybe we could get you a new dress, or something special like that? I-I don't really know what works as a good gift." he says, rubbing at his neck nervously. He continues in a lowered voice "And… maybe, yeah. A map to one?"
"That's a little specific, but not wrong."
Aurora nods. "I suppose that makes sense. You guys know what you're doing more than I do I suppose. Don't mind me.">>703435
"Not just finery and valuables," says Fumblemore. "You can buy rare foods, weapons, armor, trinkets and baubles, even hire mercenaries…"
"I remember someone selling nightmares at the last Swap Meet," Violet comments. "Didn't buy any myself, of course, but that's hardly the strangest thing you can buy.">>703435>>703436>>703437
With your business with Fumblemore at an end, you say your farewells and start heading back to your newly acquired base. Fumblemore eagerly gets back to his beaker, poking its interiors with a glass rod and marveling as the powder starts to creep up it like some sort of spider.
"Of course! And with a meeting like that, who knows what else they have to offer?"
"For now, at least, we'll have to focus on the task at hand and save some bits for the swap meet."
"Right! I've been considering looking around for a new trinket or two- can't hurt to be overequipped here, yeah?"
Later that night, you find yourselves hanging around outside the main gate, as Carnifex had instructed. The hour is late; hardly a soul stirs at this time of night, and even the guard on duty looks to be asleep. A handful of houses have lights in their windows, but these and the dull glow of the lampposts help little in bring able to perceive your surroundings. Luckily, Zunden's sun's provide ample light for the immediate area, cutting through the gloom like a knife.
>Healing Bond Orbs reset>>703703
Zunden keeps close to Norvegicus and closer to her magic orb, keeping her nerves as she basks in it's light.
"You'll have to remind me az i waz buzy elzewhere when you met wizh zhiz Carnifex. Are we waiting for him, or an azzociate? Or…"
>Bask: Prowler's Snare
I shift uneasily as I notice the guard lazing about during what is arguably the most important time for him to be alert. "An associate. We meet up with them, say the code-words, transport the hing, and boom. We're done. I guess I'll have to lead you to and through the downs, but I'm sure I remember well enough."
[1d10]PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
Norv notices a winged shadow flit over the moon, and points it out to Zunden. You watch as a pegasus flies silently over the city wall, darting close to the edge so as to avoid prying eyes, landing close by. Soon enough he makes his way in your direction, a wan, shabby looking pegasus with a wiry orange mane. He wears a brown coat, under which he seems to be carrying something judging from the odd lump. He freezes as he sees you, eyeing you with suspicion.
[1d10] perception as well>>703706
"Do you know if ze itemz are… illizit? You may want to wear ze mazkz we got from Pudding earlier."
Zunden says, shifting up the desert scarf to cover her nose and mouth,
"Juzt in caze."Roll #1 3 = 3
You pull the scarf up to disguise yourself, just in case.
I freeze and think for a second. I don't guess I actually asked. Leaning in close to Zunden, I whisper. "I don't know. I didn't think to ask. I just assumed that since it was on a job board it was allowed. Passed through some kind of surveyor or something.">>703708
I stand back up, clear my throat, and half-whisper, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight."
"I wouldn't put it pazt zhem, nor do I zhink zuch lawz are even nezzizary. Eizher way, I am here for zupport, I will let you do your zhing.">>703708
Zunden extinguishes the orb for now, letting the lamp's light be the only sources again.
"Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning." The pegasus nods and gestures for you to follow him off of the main road and into a nearby alley under cover of darkness, where he pulls out the items he has in his coat: a small thin vial with dark grey clouds of smoke and what looks like lightning within, a largish, heavy ceramic jar with an unpleasant bloody odor to it, a shrivelled purple flower with six broad heart shaped petals, a nondescript wooden branch with a single knife shaped leaf, and a perfectly round greyish white stone that feels chalky and powdery to the touch. "This is everything the lady Carnifex asked for. …Don't recognize you from the last trade. Seems her and the slime burn through you lot like torches."
"Anyway, that's that. I've done my part. Tell Carny I'll be expecting my reward. Wasn't easy getting these, 'specially not this one." He taps the side of the ceramic jar. "Well, good luck. I'll take my leave I suppose." His job complete, the porter waits to see if you have anything to ask before leaving, eyes darting from you to the street behind you constantly.
Burns through couriers like torches. Well. That's reassuring. Before he leaves, I ask, "Is there anything here we need to be particularly careful with? Something specific we need to be worried about?"
I glance to Zunden. "You have the bag, or should I carry some of it?"
"Ze vial and and urn zeem zafe enough to ztore zhere, You can take one of ze ozher zhree. I ztill have my zatchel and pouchez for zhingz like ze flower zhat zeem too fragile ozherwize."
Zunden loads the jar and vial into the bag if the courier doesn't protest, distributing the other three with norv as needed.
He nods, pointing at the vial which is starting to look more and more like a bottled storm. "Bad news if that gets out. Try not to break it. Don't drop the urn either, eyes'll go everywhere. Gross. The leaf is rare like you wouldn't believe, so try not to break it. And don't eat the flower either. Lethal. And the stone… Well the stone's alright I guess.">>703714>>703716
"Alright then." The courier nods as Zunden loads everything. With a quick and wordless nod goodbye, he takes off and starts flying towards the nearest inn to spend the night.
I curl my nose a little at the mention of the eyes, but otherwise only take the stone until we get everything else sorted. >>703716
"I'd say that you should hang onto the vial and leaf at least. Looks like you already have the vial and jar, so I'll take the stone and flower. That sound alright?"
"Fair enough, now to avoid being pickpocketed and ozher nazty zhingz."
Zunden places the stick carefully in the cloth satchel hanging over one of her shoulders.
I reach into my bag, pull out the face cloth I'd gotten at the desert, and fold the two up into it. Gently, I place the package into my cage and close the gate. "There. Can't think of anyone who would pickpocket from an animal cage. Only problem is I can't summon anything without taking them out."
I stand back up and shrug a shoulder. "Well, next we head to Carnifex's place, I guess."
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Following Norv's lead, you traverse Braildorn and start heading to the dingier part of town, into the slums that the common folk call the Downs. They are even more dismal at night than they are at day, the twisted wooden streets littered with filth. Every once in a while you can see rats, cockroaches and other vermin skittering about. Even at this late hour, lowlifes skulk on every corner, leering at you from the shadows. You get the strong impression you aren't welcome here. Zunden soon finds that the name of this place is quite literal as well as figurative; this is the lowest point in Braildorn, being built directly above the Broad River. You can hear rushing water beneath your feet most of the time.
With the compass' guidance, you start making your way towards Carnifex's house. As you walk through the Downs, you start getting an uneasy feeling, like you're being followed.>roll Perception
I swallow and try to discreetly look around myself. Last time I felt this I was jumped, and that was during the day. "I probably don't have to tell you this," I whisper to Zunden. "But stay on your guard."
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Zunden nods, adjusting her bandana somewhat nervously, checking behind them.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Even with the light of Zunden's suns, it is difficult to see in the Downs at night. Lamplighters don't come here often, so the streets are lit by candles instead.
As you keep walking, you are suddenly aware of a shadow emerging from an alley, a small, mangy looking Dog with a knife. He is accompanied by a second, larger Dog with lupine features. They don't look friendly at all. Backing up, you see an ominous figure slither out behind you, a mottled snake-like saurian with a hood like a cobra. Between the three of them, they have you surrounded.
"Make it easy for yourselves," the knife Dog says, stepping forward with an outstretched hand. "Hand over your valuables and you'll get out of this in one piece."
Rather than being afraid, I just pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh. We're surrounded, but I've gotten through worse situations, and I have Zunden with me, so all things considered I"m pretty relaxed. "Look," I say. "Yesterday I had my rats maul a guy who tried to mug me. He seemed pretty out of it, so I was hoping I could talk with him some time today and sort things out, but I can't keep paying people's doctor's bills, so if they eat through you then I'm just going to have to leave you to bleed out in the street. So can we just make it easy on everyone, stand down, and maybe go after the next person that comes through here or something?"
[1d10]IntimidateRoll #1 7 = 7
Zunden follows Norvegicus lead, pointing her staff at at the knife Dog,
"It izn't wize to meddle wizh azzoziatez of ze Oneiromanzer."
she says in a low tone, binding the dog not to cause harm but instead to disarm and display her shadow magic.
[1d10+2] Prowler's Snare
[1d3]Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
They seem taken off guard by Norv's bravery, and even though Zunden's spell fails to cast, the mention of the Oneiromancer is enough to make them reconsider. "Alright, alright," the smaller Dog says, backing off. "Don't want to get tangled up in that lot. Get out of here."
"Hold on." the larger, wolf-like Dog speaks up, looking to Norv. He looks rather dim-witted. "You said you had rats. Could I have one? I like rats."
Huh. That actually worked. I cock an eyebrow, a little caught off guard by the Dog's request. I think about it for a moment. "Do you mean as, like, a pet? Because the ones I have are friends of mine, but I could probably help you train one for yourself."
"Do you zhink we have time to zocialize? Ze mazter doezn't take well to delayz. He'd kill ze zhree of zhem and
uz if we ztick around to hand-out vermin."
Zunden snaps, deciding to adopt an air of malice to finish selling the act.
My stomach sinks as Zunden snaps at me. Yeah, just standing around really isn't the best idea. I'd planned on coming back later to do it, but if I did that I probably would
be mugged. "Right." I look back at the dog. I attempt to stand a little straighter and puff out my chest some, speaking a with a slightly harsher voice. "We don't have time to just stand around." I deflate a little. Someone who likes animals can't be all bad, right? "But perhaps I can meet you somewhere some other time. As it is, lingering puts us all in danger."
"…They keep em as pets?" He looks confused.>>703730
"Sorry to have disturbed you," the small Dog says, putting on a tone of oily reverence. >>703730
"I'd like that. Haven't had a good rat in days…" The smaller Dog tugs on his coat to draw him away.>>703729>>703730
"Have a pleasant night, madame. Lord Rat-speaker." The small Dog grovels before leading his goons away, skulking back into the shadows of the Downs from whence they came.
You continue on your way undisturbed by any more thugs, eventually arriving at Carnifex's hut, a building of smooth greenish black stone. Lights can be seen through the window, and you can hear voices coming from inside. She seems to be dealing with another client at the moment.
My face pales as he mentions not having a good rat in days. Well. I suppose it's just as well I'm not selfless enough to give him one of my rats. Sounds like he was planing on eating them.
I look up at Zunden. "Well, this is the place," I say. "Do you think we should knock, or wait for her to finish? She didn't seem like the type who'd like being interrupted."
As soon as they're out of earshot, Zunden's shoulders slump and she lets out a breath she didn't realize she had been holding in,
"Zorry, zorry zorry Norv. I didn't mean to be mean or anyzhing, I waz worried and zhinking on my feet and zhought acting all zpooky and evil and ztuff would work. Your ratz are nice and I didn't mean to call zhem peztz or anyzhing."
Zunden whispers, rubbing the back of her neck nervously. She quickly pats down her satchel and bag of holding to make sure everything's in one place.>>703732>>703733
"I'd zay we wait. Zhey're likely ze type to actually
know ze Oneiromanzer."
I give a quick, dismissive wave. "You're fine. I'm the one who broke character. Mine aren't specifically, but sometimes they actually are
pests, so no offense taken." I let out a relieved sigh. "Man, this 'acting evil and scary' thing is actually pretty easy when you deal with rats. I might have to practice it more."
"You're probably right." I set my cage down and take a seat on top of it. "Best not to interrupt."
"Well don't practize too much, I wouldn't want a zcary Norvegicuz all ze time."
After some time, the door opens, seemingly on its own, and an elderly whiskered donkey shuffles out, clutching what looks like a live pigeon. He wears a distinctive cloak made of bird feathers. "Thank you, thank you," he says to Carnifex. "Same day and time next month then?"
"Indeed," Carnifex replies. The two say their farewells, and the donkey walks off still firmly holding the pigeon, hardly giving you a second glance. Carnifex pokes her head out the door, noticing you there all of a sudden. "Good evening," she says politely, nodding in greeting and mainly addressing Norv. "We presume thou hath brought the agreed on supplies?">>703734
Unlike her master, Carnifex looks quite fair to you. She is a tall, svelte looking griffon with white feathers, and an orange band around her eyes. Several black quill-like feathers sprout from the back of her head, giving the impression of some sort of crown. she seems to glance over you at first, but upon noticing you quickly cleans off her long, bony claws and extends one to you in greeting. "I do not believe we have met, miss…?"
I chuckle and shake my head. "I'm not sure I could keep it up all the time. It's exhausting. Having a working knowledge of pest and vermin works to your advantage, though. Good intimidation material.">>703737
I stand, brush myself off, and nod. "Yep. All-" I shoot Zunden a glance. "Five, right?" My eyes trail back to Carnifex and I nod again. "All five things. Made it here with basically no problem at all."
Zunden remembers her shroud still being worn, and lowers her bandana.
"Zunden, one of Norvegicuz' companionz and reader of ze Arcane."
she says, trying to be polite and extending her own claw to shake hers gently.>>703738>>703737
"Yez, one canopic jar, one vial of ztormz, a rare flower and leaf, and a ztone. Zhoze were ze goodz given to uz by the courier."
"Speaking of which, your fence wanted me to tell you something. Something like 'I'll be expecting my reward', or something."
"A reader?" She seems impressed. "Thine ilk are a rarity in this land. 'Tis good the tradition is kept alive." She has a firm handshake, but not overpoweringly so.>>703738>>703739
"Excellent!" She lets you in, her house/store looking surprisingly clean and orderly for a swamp dweller's assistant. It would look like a normal home were it not for the various alchemical tools and ingredients lining the shelves. The main bench is covered in feathers and dried blood. She hastily sweeps it all aside and waits for you to show the goods.>>703740
"Hm? Ah. Well, he can rest easy. The master and I always settle our debts." While she surely didn't mean anything by it, you can't help but feel a rather sinister implication from that.
"Right. Just passing the message." Setting my cage down on the ground, I crouch and open it up, removing the cloth with the flower and stone. Gently, I lay it on the bench and unfold it. "Here are these two."
"A dying art, ze caze being literal when it came to my tribe. I do my bezt to keep up ze tradition."
she first procures the stick and leaf from her canvas bag, then moves onto the two items in the bag of holding.
She eagerly takes the flower, holding it in the palm of her claw for a second - then, without hesitating, she plucks off a petal and eats it, nodding in approval after a moment. "Pure venom," she mumbles. "Perfection itself…"
"Interesting…" She takes the stone and runs one finger across its surface, tasting the powdery exterior then pulling a face. "Very interesting…" She proceeds to grind the whole thing down into powder with a mortar and pestle, deftly storing the substance in a mason jar, sticking a label on it and adding it to the shelf behind her.>>703743
She examines the leaf closely then plucks it off and stores it in a drawer full of similar leaves, seemingly satisfied with the sample.
She opens the urn to examine the ingredients. A horrific stench fills the air, but she doesn't seem to mind, adding it to a shelf packed with similar jars.
As she takes the bottled storm, she holds it up to the light as if checking a counterfeit note, then taps the side of the vial. The storm within roils and rumbles portentously. This seems to please her greatly, and she stores it with utmost care in one of her many drawers.>>703742>>703743
"This is an excellent hoard," she declares. "The master will be most pleased when he hears of this. She starts digging around in a trunk in the corner, eventually finding a small bird statuette much like the enchanted one Rabi bought from Rosen and Gilder. She puts it aside for now.
"I suppose a reward is in order." She moves over to her shelves. "For thine services, I offer thee a choice: a monetary reward of 300 bits, or access to some of my topmost concoctions. I have several to choose from, but I may only offer thee four of thine choice."
"I'd say I'd like to look at the potions."
"I value a mazter brewer'z workz much higher zhan zimple gold. What are zheze tincturez?"
She smiles satisfiedly and leads you through a curtain at the back of the room into what is, for all intents and purposes, a makeshift distillery, complete with great barrels connected by clear pipes. There are several shelves stacked with potions of all different shapes, sizes, colors and consistencies. "My supplies have been… dwindling of late. But I am sure thou shalt find aught of use."
>drinking a potion is automatic>all effects last until the end of combat unless noted otherwise>all potions cost 75 bits each
>Dreadrum - -2 crit range
>Fetching Fizz - +2 to recovery rolls
>Werewhiskey - guaranteed autocrits on attack rolls when at 2 wounds or lower
>Magus' Gimlet - user gains access to any spell skill they wish
>Ashbrandy - the next two attacks that would send you helpless leave you at 1 hit remaining instead
>Catspaw Mead - User is highly resistant to fall damage for 1 hour
>Leech Stout - Heal for 3 hits whenever you roll an 8 or higher against an enemy
>Whale Ale - Makes you incredibly strong (lasts for 1 hour in-game)
>Doomshine - take 4 hits on use, but gain autocrits on all rolls for 2 rounds
"So two and two? If you want to split it like that I kind of like how the Doomshine and Ashbrandy sound. What do you think, Z?"
"Ah, zhat zoundz fair. Ze Maguz' Gimlet and an Azhbrandy az well."
I nod. "Guess we've made up our minds, then. So that's 150 bits?"
"As thou desirest. These tonics are in limited supply, so prithee, use them wisely. Thine assistance tonight shall allow me to remedy this."
She scours the shelves, passing you the four potions in exchange for your money. Ashbrandy, as it turns out, is an opaque reddish orange tonic with sparkling bubbles, while Doomshine is black as pitch, and constantly roils and churns inside its glassy prison. Magus' Gimlet is a remarkable potion in its own right, as it is of a color you have never seen before.>-150 bits>Norv: -150 bits
"If thou findest any rare ingredients on thine travels, prithee, bring them to me. We shall pay most handsomely, and the elixirs we could concoct would be of great benefit to thee."
She thanks you again for bringing her the assorted rarities, and with your business concluded, you say your goodbyes and rejoin the rest of your friends on board your new ship.
>>703751>before returning to the ship
"Actually, when we firzt zought after your patron, we firzt brought him fruit of ze Zleeper orchard az an offering. I kept an unripe fruit in ztaziz in my magic bag incaze we ever encountered a zoporific creature, but perhapz you could diztill ze fruit to ztrengthen it'z effectz?"
Zunden says, reaching into the bag and offering the fruit.
"Indeed?" She examines the Sleeper Fruit, peeling off a bit of its flesh and nibbling at it. "Hmmm. 'Tis not ripe yet. A perfect antidote for a sleeping poison. Or a catalyst for great haste, perhaps… We may work wonders with such a thing. As payment, thou canst help thineself to one other brew from mine assortment." She waves a claw rather distractedly at the wall of potion shelves as she continues to poke and prod at the oversized fruit, knocking it on the table.
"Ah, not a concoction bazed on ze reagent itzelf. Very well, I do want to enzure zhat my alliez live long and prozperouz livez, zo more brandy will help wizh zhat."
"A wise choice." She puts down the fruit and hands you another bottle of the fizzy reddish tincture. "'Tis a potent brew. Quite popular amongst drifters like thineselves. Not an easy one to brew, however. I cannot guarantee it shall always be in stock."
"Zhen I zuppoze it iz bezt we are acquiring zhem while we can."
Zunden places it in her bag.
"Zhank you for your zervicez. If you ever require zhe zervicez of my own profezzion, you only need mezzage me."
"The pleasure is mine. We shall be contacting thee soon, I feel." She bows formally as you leave.
As the sun goes down, you return to where you last saw the ship, only to find something curious: instead of floating out in the middle of the river, the Lady Luck has moved closer to the jetty, and is anchored there for your convenience. Who, why or how is a mystery. Aurora looks troubled, while Violet proposes it might have to do with Lysander's spell being broken. Whatever the case is, accessing your new ship is much, much easier now.
"So," Violet says once you get settled back in, "what's on the agenda for tomorrow? Other than our rendezvous with the blind mare tomorrow night. Are we just going to be hunting down the Beast?"
"The sooner we do it, the better," Hermodur nods.
"I wager our first order of business tomorrow should be seeing if we can get our hands on that map- I'm not sure what else we might want to grab, but I'm sure there's some more things that could help us prepare."
"I zhink we zhouldn't zeek out ze Beazt itzelf, but it'z ztalking groundz and find a choke point in which we could lure it ze night after tomorrow."
"I believe our resident vermin killer had a good plan for hunting it down."
"Zunden has the idea. Tomorrow isn't so much hunting the beast, as scouting out the area. Like I said, a map would really help, but if we can't find one then I'll probably talk to the guy who showed me around the downs." I scratch my chin in thought. "Heck, I'll probably end up talking to him anyway. He had a run-in with Bobby, so if he can tell me where exactly that run-in was then maybe we can narrow down the area a little easier than just scouting."
"True," Violet nods. "If nothing else it'll help build up our reputation.">>703767
"A map, or a guide," Aurora muses. "Surely there's someone that can guide us. One of the locals that knows the sewers. In the Downs, maybe.">>703768
"That too," Violet says, nodding eagerly. "Take some time to scout, get ready for the fight, then spring the trap after.">>703780
"Sounds like a plan," Violet nods. "We might be better off with a guide anyway, especially if you've already touched base with him. Easier to follow than a map, in my experience."
"…'Bobby'?" Aurora asks, incredulously.
"Sounds good," I say to Violet. "Shouldn't be too hard to find him again." I chuckle and glance at Aurora. "Oh. Shoot. Yeah. Sorry. Beast of Braildorn. B-O-B. Bob. Bobby. Just kinda what I've been saying in my head."
"Especially since I already boasted that we'd have it dead within a week," Hermodur muses.
"That's kind of on you, big guy."
"A guide could work too, I suppose. Up to Norvegicus." he says, looking to him and snickering a little.>>703780>>703782
"Hey, it works. So, what do you suggest we do for Bobby? Anything we might want to pick up to prepare?"
"Fault changes nothing but morality."
It takes a moment for it to click with her, but when it does she smirks and chuckles quietly. "That's not bad. Good a name as any.">>703784
Aurora looks concerned. "Don't you think you might have oversold us a little?">>703782>>703785
"Guide it is then," says Violet. Let's get some rest. We're gonna need it, I reckon.">>703767>>703768>>703769>>703782
The rest of the evening is spent setting up your rooms the way you like them. While there's not much on board, they are livable enough now, having the bare essentials for what they are. Violet sleeps closer to Norv than before, the day's events clearly still weighing on her.
The following morning, you awake to the sound of construction work and the crying of birds that sound like seagulls but aren't quite seagulls. You can smell fresh fish in the air from the active docks. After a meager breakfast (noting that your food supplies are starting to run low), you exit the ship and get ready for another busy day.
Having the most experience with the area of anyone in the group, Norv leads the party into the Downs in search of his acquaintance. This part of town is grim even at this early hour, a constantly damp and gloomy district due to its proximity to the river below. Everything is built of wood here, and there seems to be a thug or a ragpicker on every corner of the Downs' narrow, snaking streets. The smell of fish and mildew is overpowering. Aurora and Violet look uncomfortable. "Doesn't feel right coming back here," Violet muses under her breath, drawing her coat tighter around her to avoid prying eyes.
I tilt my head slightly towards Violet without taking my eyes off my surroundings. "I've actually been meaning to ask you about that," I say. "Remind me later, if you actually don't mind talking about it. Either way, sorry. This is where he's supposed to be."
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"It doesn't feel right COMING BACK?" Hermodur comments, raising an eyebrow. "That's not an odd choice of words. This area doesn't feel right in general. The coming back part seems irrelevant."
Then, Hermodur looks around at his surroundings with disdain. "Even as a child on my own, I never lived in such squalor. Though, I know many criminals did. I suppose everyone builds what they are used to."
Zunden of course has her hood up and bandana covering her face again, incase they run into the muggers of last night,
>Bask: Prowler's Snare>>703793
"I called a plaze like zhiz home for many yearz, by choize. Ze people I cared for, however, did not have zuch choize. Fortune cannot favor all."
"It CAN. We just live in a world where it do not allow it to."
"Hrm… maybe we should estock after we deal with this beast? I'm sure we'll have the cash to spare.">[1d10]>>703793
"You're probably right on that- then again, they might just not have the means to make it better."Roll #1 7 = 7
I sigh, and my shoulders sag a little. "Yeah," I say, a little quieter than I've been talking. "That's what I've been thinking. It really does seem that way."
"My point exactly. They do not have the means because they have not been ALLOWED the means."
"Zhere iz a differenze between zociety and fate. Fate iz a zycle, you will have bad timez and you will have good timez. Ze ztructurez zhat we know az zivilization, atleazt the dominant one zhat we rezided in, I agree doez not allow ozherz to fufill zheir deztiniez."
"Oh, it's nothing like that," she says. "Just that I've been involved with Tiger Clan before. They hang out around here all the time. I got into pretty big debt, but it's all paid off now. We're fair and square. This place just brings back memories is all. Wasn't all bad.">>703793
Aurora nods. "And I thought I had it bad as a street rat," she remarks, wrinkling her nose. "This place is just…" She can't seem to find a good word. "…Maudlin." She narrowly avoids stepping in a puddle of raw sewage.>>703794
While you see plenty of thieves and beggars as you walk, including a fair share of urchins, the trio of muggers are not among them. It seems there is safety in numbers.>>703798
Violet nods. "We'll be able to eat like kings if we pull this off. Even more so if we can deal with that Oneiromancer. 3000 bits is no joke, and that's just for one of them.">>703792>>703793>>703794>>703798
Norv quickly gets oriented, taking a series of alley shortcuts before arriving at an open square connecting much of the Downs. There is little of note in the square itself, save for a depressing little chapel. Norv knows this to be the Church of Starry Wisdom, where a hateful old priest resides. On a bench nearby sits a scruffy, one-legged Diamond Dog plucking away on a worn old banjo. A set of crutches are propped up next to him. Norv recognizes him as Raff. He has his back to you, and is occupying himself singing an old folk song. "In Levin's fair city, where the mares are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…" He's not particularly good at playing, but no one can deny he does play.
For some reason, the Dog seems vaguely familiar to Hermodur.
"The bad times should not be so inescapable.">>703803
"I am curious about the order of events," Hermodur comments to Aurora. "You have a general air of dignity about you that would indicate to me that your life at least started on a cleaner path. Or, is that just something that came as a result of the temple life?">>703803
When the diamond dog sings, Hermodur stops and listens. The voice feels familiar. The appearance feels familiar. But, he can't put his finger on it.
With the instinctive curiosity of a cat, he approaches the diamond dog. "Excuse me," he says politely, expecting the diamond dog to turn around.
I walk over to Raff, but try to stand back a little. Not wanting to surprise him too much, I clear my throat to get his attention.
"Well zhat was the intention of ze boarding home…"
Zunden keeps her distance from the priest's wrath, never one to have theological debates.
"It might be hard to do much more than survive out here for most, honestly." He says, with a bit of a sigh.>>703803
"I think we'll need to do an awful lot of legwork to go after that Oneiromancer, but… I'd say it's worth it. It'd be nice to keep making a real difference here, you know.">>703803
Rabi lets Norv do the talking, for now.
She seems surprised at being engaged in conversation for once. "After my mother died I was moved to different homes for a while. I was with my grandparents first, but that didn't really work out, so they sent me to live with my uncle. Less said about him the better." She seems hesitant to keep talking. "I ran off, boarded the next train to Vitra, and… well, fell between the cracks I guess. Eventually they arrested me for pickpocketing, I found myself here, got taken in by the monastery and, well, here I am."
The Dog stops mid-song and turns around curiously. You've seen him before, many years ago. The memories come flooding back, memories you had buried long ago. A stranger arriving at your home, and leaving you nothing but misery and despair. He is much older now, but there's no mistaking it. The Dog on the bench killed your family.
"Yeah? Need something?">>703811
"Oh. 'S you again." He puts the banjo aside and pulls himself up on his crutches. "Hullo.">>703813
"I've dealt with power hungry warlocks before," Violet says confidently. "He's not immortal. We can take care of him, I know it.">>703809>>703811>>703812>>703813
"Friends of 'is, are you." Raff struggles to stand up, but gets there eventually, looking at the large group with curiosity and nodding in greeting. "What do I owe the pleasure."
Upon seeing the diamond dog's face, Hermodur falls over onto his rear - sewage likely ruining his pants. He doesn't get up. He simply sits there on the ground with his mouth hanging open. He stares at the diamond dog with wide, terrified eyes - like a petrified child. He breathe's shakily, unable to move.
"Well, I'll take your word for it- you haven't been wrong before." he says, with a confident smile.>>703817
"Ehm… Hermodur? You okay?"
"Hey Raff," I say, giving him a short half-wave. "I'll cut right to the chase. We're hunting the beast. I remember you mentioning you had a run-in with it, and was hoping you could give me more details. We know it likes to hang out in the sewers, but I'd hoped that, with your help, I could narrow it down a little more.">>703817
I cock my eyebrow and glance over at Hermodur. "Yeah. You alright, buddy?"
"H-he… H-he. HE! It's him!" is all Hermodur manages to say.
As Hermodur falls to the ground paralyzed, Zunden's passiveness snaps to alertness as she's quick to respond and kneel down.
"Woah zhere big guy,"
Zunden places a claw on Hermodur's back, looking him over for any signs of harm or magic at work
"Hey now, are you hurt? Iz zhere zomething I can do to help?">>703819>>703820
"Let'z not ztart a crowd, I'll make sure everyzhing'z alright, how about you all get ze info you need zo we can get zomewhere zafer if need be. We don't need unwanted attention."
Zunden says briefly looking up, rubbing Hermodur's back,>>703821
"Breeeazhe, Hermodur, cloze your eyez and take zome deep breazhz in."Roll #1 6 = 6
"Know him?" Hermodur asks in a confused daze. "No…"
"Him? You know him?" he asks, setting a hoof on Hermodur's shoulder "Calm down a little… how do you know him?"
Raff jumps at your reaction. "Easy. You alright?" Violet looks worried, while Aurora immediately moves to help you up, necklace glowing ready to cast some healing magic in case. She touches your forehead gently before offering you her hoof to pull you up again. "Hermodur? You're sweating…">>703820
He tears his eyes aware from Hermodur, looking rather disturbed by his reaction. "Er… Y-yeah, I could do that. You lookin' for someone to show you around, or what? I know the sewers around 'ere pretty well, but I get kind of lost further out into town. If yer after info on the Beast, I don't know too much myself. I just remember was off doing some ragpicking in the sewers, then he comes out of nowhere and has a go at me. Managed to get away, minus a leg, but that's the only time I ever seen it.">>703823
As far as you can tell he isn't injured or under any sort of curse or spell.
"H'm… Yeah, being shown around the sewer a little would probably help scout for good places to set traps. Do you have a general idea of where you ran into him? What I'm trying to do is kind of pinpoint where he hangs out when he's not… you know… tearing folks apart."
"A-alright?" Hermodur asks, at first still in a petrified daze. A few tears well up in his eyes. But, as he processes the question, he wide eyes slowly narrow until his face is rewritten into one of anger.
"ALRIGHT!?" he repeats the word furiously as he stands up. He looks down at the diamond dog. He stares furiously straight into the face that has tormented his dreams. "YOU DARE ASK ME IF I'M ALRIGHT!?"
"You killed them! And then you ran! NOW you want to know if I'm ALRIGHT!?"
I jump back as Hermodur screams and do a double take. "Wait, what?"
"My mother, my father, my brother…" Hermodur says, looking to Norv. He breathes heavily with each word he says. "All dead because of this… racist coward…"
My jaw tightens as my eyes flit back and forth between Raff and Hermodur. For a long moment I'm speechless, but finally I manage to say, "A-are you sure? Maybe he just looks like him. Maybe-"
"I have seen that face in my dreams more times than I care to count," Hermodur says, staring at Raff. "I can still hear his voice. I have never been more certain of anything in my life."
Zunden's kneeling position is knocked back as Hermodur gets up quickly, pushing her to the ground unintentionally.
"Hermodur, pleaze, we have no context of what'z going on-"
Zunden says, pulling herself up from the same filthy street,>>703832
"Keep your witz to yourzelf. I can't help zhingz or underztand what'z going on if we get to zhouting. Let'z zlow zhingz down, pleaze."
She tugs at one of Hermodur's arms, trying to pull his attention.
Hermodur continues to look in the direction of Raff. Though, it begins to look more like he's staring off into space. He wipes his eyes with one hand.
"It feels like I'm there," Hermodur says shakily. "Like I just saw it happen. Like I can stop it…" he says as he slowly reaches for the hilt of Mjolnir.
"Hermodur. You are *not* zhere. Lizten to me pleaze."
Zunden tugs at Hermodur's arm again,
"You cannot change ze pazt, and it izn't your wrong ti right. You pride yourzelf on righteouznezz, not wrazh."
Raff doesn't have a chance to answer before he's accosted by Hermodur.>>703828
He quails as you confront him; you are easily twice his size if not more. As it dawns on him who he is to you, he pales, and he hobbles back nervously on his crutches. He seems lost for words, his mouth hanging agape. >>703833
"No." Raff shakes his head. "'E's telling the truth. "I did it." He swallows. "I did it," he says again, as if to fortify the truth. "…I didn't… Didn't know there was someone else there… A reflex… I didn't mean to…" He keeps backing up, his face a mask of shock.>>703837
Raff has the same glazed expression, as if he's reliving that time over and over. After a moment, his eyes drift to Mjolnir. "…Are you gonna do it?" he croaks. "I'd do the same."
All I can bring myself to do is stand there and stare in shock like an idiot.
Hermodur's arm doesn't resist Zunden's tug.
"You're right," he says, looking down shamefully. "I've never sought him out. I never thought I'd see him again. I knew that if I did, it wouldn't change anything. I used to wish I could just talk to him. Ask him why he did it. But, as I got older, I understood. Give anything enough thought and you'll figure it out eventually, I suppose."
"I should have known he'd be here. I should have known his ilk would eventually find a place like this to fester.">>703839
Hermodur looks down at Raff. He notices the crutches and a tear trickles from Hermodur's eye.
"Why?" Hermodur asks, despite claiming to already know the answer. "Why? Why? Why? WHY?" he asks louder and louder.
"My father was coming out to HELP you," he says in an oddly even tone as if he's explaining what happened. "And you SHOT him. You didn't let him say a single word. I just… don't understand."
"Didn't you say you already understood? Or… do you just want to make sure?"
"I know why… but I don't understand it! I can't comprehend it! Is it truly just unbridled cowardice that moves him? How can a creature live such a life?"
Zunden keeps her claws around the one arm, still nervous but worry slightly assaulted by Hermodur's acknowledgement,
"Zhen zpeak, you have ze chanze to. But don't perpetuate ze cycle of pain."
She speaks more softly, changing her tone less to pleading and more of sympathy. She keeps close Hermodur for support.
My face pales, and I swallow. "Unbridled cowardice is kind of part of the reason I'm here at all," I say, tightening my fist around my cage's handle. "Not that I'm trying to compare the two, but… Well…" He's right, though. How can
a creature live such a life?
You stand there and stare in shock like an idiot.>>703841
At first he doesn't have an answer for you. "…I was scared," he answers huskily. "Scared and young… 'Twas instinct… I never wanted to hurt anyone, was meant to be an easy grab…" He wipes his lined, grubby face. "I made a mistake," he says. "A terrible mistake. I destroyed so much in just one moment… Not a day goes by I don't think about what happened. Every single day I've wished I hadn't done what I did. And… Stars above, it's been 43 years…" He collapses back onto the bench, burying his face in his hands. "There's nothing I can say to make things right," he says after a moment. He can't bring himself to look up. "If you're gonna kill me, we'll all be better off."
"It's hardly the same," Hermodur responds, with a vicious tone directed more toward Raff than Norv. "Your gut reaction to meeting a 'big scary felid' wasn't to shoot him in the head.">>703845
"No one would miss him," Hermodur spits at Raff. "That's not an excuse. Just an observation."
"No. Instead I let my horde of rats maul a man I owed a legitimate debt to because I was scared to confront him."
"And iz zhat not it'z own punizhment? He iz already dead, zhiz iz clearly hiz purgatory."
"She's got a point. If anything, killing him in a place like this might be a mercy."
"I don't deny a certain level of cowardice behind your actions. But, your cowardice I can at least understand.">>703847
"But, YOU," Hermodur turns back to Raff as he finishes speaking. Hermodur takes a deep breath.
"I want you to understand exactly what you did. My parents ran that orchard themselves. Just the two of them, my brother, and myself. We worked hard to take care of those plants. Despite that, my father was never interested in profit. He would always give away his watermelons for free to travelers."
"When you showed up…" Hermodur chokes up before continuing. "When you showed up, he was coming out to ask what you needed. He was going to GIVE you the watermelon. But you-" Hermodur says viciously.
Then, he sighs. "Was it racism?" he asks genuinely. "Did you just see a felid and assume the worst? That's what I always figured. That's the only thing that made even a little sense to me. I get why you did it. But… it was completely unnecessary!"
"My mother just wanted to help her husband. She wasn't attacking you! I get you were scared, but could you really not think straight? I don't blame you for shooting my brother. He'd likely had killed you if you gave him the chance. It was still your fault, though."
"If…" Hermodur pauses, scared to ask the question. "If I had come out as well - me, a five year old felid - would you have shot me too?"
My jaw drops. "Are you serious? You're saying we should just execute him? Right here, right now, 43 years after a crime he's showing clear remorse for? All of us-" I gesture to the party. "Every last one of us, including me, has done things we wish we could take back. Things in a time of need, or fear, or desperation. The only thing that makes this different is that it was done to one of our friends."
"No, no- no one's saying to kill him. Zunden remarked this was a form of punishment, and it is. I don't think Hermodur even wants to… anymore, at least."
"Oh. It sounded like-" I clear my throat and shift uneasily. "Sorry.">>703852
I look up at Hermodur as he speaks, studying him. Part of me knows he has every right to want revenge. Especially a revenge he never thought he'd get to have. The other half is silently begging him to stay calm.
He does a double take as you accuse him of racism. Wordlessly, and perhaps a little baffled, he shakes his head.
At your second question, he doesn't have an answer either. "I was… I was someone else in those days. So long ago it seems like another lifetime. I don't know what I would've done back then. I was only… only 17 years old…" His voice cracks and he breaks off again, looking down at the mold-ridden wood. "If you want answers, I'm sorry to disappoint," he says with a bitter laugh. "Words are just words."
"It's fine. Things are tense. Let's just… keep quiet, and let him talk it out, yeah?"
Hermodur stares at Raff with a look of even greater disgust. "Then you were even more of a coward than I thought. I thought that if it was at least an irrational fear like racism that I could understand it. But this… it is beyond my mind."
Hermodur stares at Raff a while longer. But, he no longer sees the diamond dog who murdered his family. Instead he sees a lonely, miserable, old cripple. Then, Hermodur smiles.
"I just wanted you to know the full truth of what you did. For you it was 43 years ago. But, for me, it was 20. The fact that you know the exact number of years still tells me everything."
Hermodur takes a moment to pause. Then, he says, "I forgive you."
I drop to my knees as all the tension leaves my body. I'd hoped a mutual agreement could be reached. A kind of non-hostile hatred. But forgive him? I don't know what to say.
Raff looks up at you, weary-eyed. He looks utterly wretched ; in that moment, he reminds you of some sort of martyr, looking up and praying for absolution. You can feel all eyes on you.
As you say you forgive him, that seems to cut him deeper than any sword ever could. "…That's cruel," he says with a wince. "I'd hoped you'd do me in. Rip off the patch and get it over with." He fumbles for his crutches and pulls himself back up with more strength than before. He still can't bring to make eye contact with you for long; to him, you are the embodiment of decades of shame.
"Alright," he grunts, addressing the group as a whole. "I'll 'elp you with the beast. But when we're done, please. Leave me be."
Previously on TR, the gang ventured into Braildorn's sewer system, scouting out the area in their preparation for their upcoming hunt for the Beast of Braildorn. So far, they have found a spot where a sluice gate opens up for water control, which could potentially be turned into either a guillotine trap or a means of forcing the Beast into another part of the system. Meanwhile, Rabi tracked down the Beast's den, where he made an unfortunate discovery: it has a nest, and has laid eggs. By all accounts, there are two
beasts plaguing the town of Braildorn, not just one. Also Silver was attacked by a weird sewer monster.
"Two beasts?" Aurora says quietly, looking deeply concerned. "I don't know about this. One seemed bad enough…"
"Might be they'll pay ya double the bounty," Raff suggests with a toothy grin, trying to lighten the mood. You sense that he's inwardly relieved he won't be the one fighting them when the time comes.
Violet concerns herself with Silver, ensuring herself the mare is safe (which she is, apart from the rapidly fading weals on her leg) before looking to the party. "So. Guess we're going to have to come up with a new plan, huh. One that involves keeping them separated. I'd hate to have to fight both of them at the same time…
"We should keep scouting. That gate might come in handy to flush one out, or even to crush one if we time it right. We should look for more things like that.">roll for navigation>here's an abstract map of where you've explored so far, unexplored areas are in dark grey
I nod, rubbing my chin in thought. If I could just get a bit more of the layout, I think I know what I want to place where. "I already have a budding idea of the layout. So far at least. I think I already have an idea of what I want to set up, too. I just wish we had more people." I sigh and shake my head. "Taking care of more than one… One was bad enough. Still, I think the plan stands, and that-" I gesture to the gate. "That could do a lot more than just flushing or, if we actually get lucky, dropping. That right there is a barrier that Bobby and… Uh… Bobbette? Anyway, it's something we have access to that they don't. A movable barrier, and a funnel."
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Well, you are not poizoned, az far az I know. But zhat iz a danger, ze not knowing. Zhiz iz a foreign land, we know not if ze next bug zhat bitez uz down here will kill uz. We need to be careful."
Zunden turns to the group,
"At leazt, move zlower. We aren't chazing ze beazt right now, no need to ruzh into an ambuzh again. I don't even zhink all of you have been looking up-"
Zunden points to one of the predatory slugs hanging on the ceiling,
"It iz a world in it of itzelf down here…"
"In eizher caze, I worry if we were to kill one, ze ozher would grow enraged. If zhey are mating pairz, anyhow."Roll #1 8 = 8
"You want to keep scouting even knowing that there are two?" Hermodur asks, raising an eyebrow.
"Even if we set up traps to catch or slow down one, there's no guarantee any of them would get both of them. Which would AT BEST leave us at the same disadvantage we would have been if we just came in here and fought the thing unprepared in the first place."
"It would seem to me that this has gone form an extermination to a combat scenario. In which case, I have gone back to believing that our best option is luring them out into the open at the place where the sewers drain out of the city."
I follow Zunden's gesture and recoil at the sight of the slugs. "Yeesh. Yeah, maybe I should be paying more attention. Hey, Raff, you know anything about these guys?">>704116
I deflate a little. I'm working hard to figure this out, though. Leading it out of the sewers could put people in danger. "Would you at least hear my idea out first? It might be stupid, but I'd at least like to get it out."
Recovering my senses after the horrific assault, i manage to get back onto my hooves, keeping some pressure off my back leg.
"What a horrid monster! I'll most certainly need a tailor's kit to re-dye my dress after this..">>704115
"Well, at least it's somewhat reassuring i've avoided some illness from the attack." i reply, following along behind you
"Well, what did you have in mind?"Roll #1 7 = 7
"H'm. First I want to see the other side of that grate, but I think we have just enough people for what I have in mind.
Hermodur crosses his arms. "My plan isn't fully complete anyway."
[1d10] "L-Let's try and split them up, maybe? This might be officially a little too much, but the longer we wait, the worse it's going to get.">>704117
"Please, Norv. I'm sure you're idea's a lot better than you're giving it credit for. B-Besides, it's not like we have too many plans right now, right?"Roll #1 9 = 9
"That'd be too risky," Violet retorts. "We'd be endangering citizens if we lured them out into the open. Best to fight them here, where it's isolated.">>704115
As if on cue, one of the slugs extends a curious pseudopod out towards the party, groping at thin air before retracting again. Aurora wrinkles her nose in disgust and backs away.>>704121
"That's what I'm thinking," says Violet. "Zunden has the right idea, we shouldn't be fighting both of them at once. If we could keep them separated, it'd make the hunt much easier.">>704114>>704115>>704116>>704118>>704121
You keep moving, heading eastwards with Raff as your guide. The room immediately to the east is relatively unremarkable; more slugs, a pile of rubbish and what looks like a severed arm. With nothing much of use here, Raff instead leads you through a winding passage to an interesting sight: a huge circular pit is open in the middle of a chamber, with only a rusted iron ladder for access into its depths. It looks like some kind of well, though it clearly hasn't been used in many years. A side opening seems to connect around back to the sluice tunnel, while a winding staircase opposite it leads to parts unknown, from which you can hear the chittering of what sounds like rats. Violet doesn't seem too concerned by it, however, as she observes the giant pit and its connections. You can almost see the cogs turning in her head.
As the party travels through the sewers, Zunden reaches into her bag for the Bestiary to see has to offer on the denizens of this underworld, wondering if it holds insight to what hidden dangers may lurk the sewers and their names.
"Why would there be citizens living out of the city where the sewage dumps out?">>704122
"It sounds like there are rats in that direction," Hermodur points out. "Which is significant. Specifically that it SOUNDS like there are rats. Which means they don't currently feel threatened. Which means we know that that area is safe… relatively speaking."
"Yeah," I say. "Splitting them up was actually part of my idea." I look down the path back to the gate. "Alright," I say. "So how about this. That gate-" I point to the sluice gate. "Is a barrier we can move. That means we might be able to kite one of them through it, potentially dropping it on them in the process. If that doesn't work, we've already had them split up. We split the team in two. I summon all four of my rats and give three of them to one of the teams, while Hermodur comes with me. Then Zunden stays on one team and Aurora on the other working their healing. One of us leads them out into an ambush led by the first team, where we can use the layout of the sewer to surround it. Then someone splits them up while the second team holds the grate open, dropping it as we kite it through. I set traps through both hallways, but especially the one through the gate. At that point we're split up, but we have enough numbers to surround both of them. I lay a few traps to help weaken them in the first place, and I think this could work. What's everyone else think?"
"Well… that could work, yeah. I can fire a shot off at them, and see if I can get one to follow me past the gate- maybe one of them would hang back to protect the eggs?"
"If that's true then that almost makes it even easier. That means they do the splitting up for us. We'd just have to reposition a little." I bite my bottom lip. "But that would mean whichever hangs back wouldn't trip any traps."
"I suppose there's the chance that the beast may flee into the city, if we have the sewer blocked, of course.">>704125
"So we'll make use of the grate to hold them apart, then fight them seperately by surrounding them.."
"It certainly sounds reasonable enough, though that would depend on whether we can find a mechanism to open the grate."
"Split up…?" Hermodur asks with concern.
"The two alternatives are keeping them together and fighting them both at once or leading them out of the sewer back into the downs." I cock my eyebrow. "You don't think it flows out somewhere we can stand when we're on a lake, do you?"
"It wouldn't have to be for long- just long enough to isolate the other, I'd say."
You find new writing manifesting itself before your eyes, shedding insight into the nature of some of the creatures you are facing.https://pastebin.com/pC3tzbpH
>New entries: Carrion Slug, Pale Lurker>Entry updated: Beasts of Braildorn>>704124
"The least fortunate of us live near the sewer pipes," Raff chimes in. "'S nowhere else to go, and you can find some good stuff if you search this place long enough. 'Course, most of 'em end up happening 'cross the Lumen, and… well, 's hard to even call them alive once they get real hooked.">>704125
"Moving in a pincer formation, you mean?" Violet asks. "It could work. It's risky, but we could pull it off, I think.">>704126
"If one of them hangs back, then it might be even easier for us, like Norv said," Aurora comments. "That way it'd be all of us vs one of them.">>704128
"There was a valve back in the sluice room that opened it," Violet recalls. "Doesn't look like it's been used in a long time though, but we could operate it I think."
I knit my brow and look around. "So it isn't a dumb idea then? You guys think we can manage it?"
"Excellent news, then! We'll only need to make sure it hasn't rusted shut, then we can move on with the operation.">>704133
the expert here, Norvey. I'm sure that so long as we follow through on the plan we'll be fine. At the very least, it's far more plausible than simply running at them weapons first."
"It would more likely be a stream. We could stand on its banks regardless of whatever body of water it is. As for how we would lure them there… I have an idea…"
Zunden close the book for now, looking up from the book a bit distractedly.>>704133
"Az long az our planz our zhorough and have multiple outz incaze zhingz go awry, I zhink zo."
"Well, I'd like to think that helps here, but I'm used to smaller things. And probably dumber things, too. Still, it worked well enough on dire rats I had to get rid of once. It was just me and my rats then, though." >>704135
"I don't think I have to say that I'd welcome any input. I'm, uh… I'm not exactly a veteran strategist."
"You live near the sewers IN the city. I'm speaking of the other end. And, if we went through with my idea, they most certainly would have their attention fully on us.">>704137
"Use the eggs. One of the greatest concerns here is that if the battle gets dangerous for them, they can simply retreat. Aside from hunting us, they have no motivation to continue the fight. Let's give them that motivation."
"Yeah, right- if I was a unicorn, I could even try to close the door from down the hallway- no dice, though. I'm afraid my magic is less… subtle. Maybe someone else could manage it?"
"Actually, with this potential hostage situation, why are we still planning this alone? We could organize with the city guard. Or the Tiger Clan. Or both. We take the eggs, the beasts chase us with all that they have. We lead them out of the sewers entirely. There, the guards stand in wait to help us killing these beasts."
"I'm sure we'd still get a reward for it. WE are the ones putting our necks on the line. And, there ARE two of them."
"Hmm.. true, we haven't considered enlisting the guards, and i'm sure that with the news we have now they would certainly pitch in.. We would only need to take the eggs and hope we could outrun the pair before reaching the city."
"How would we manage it? One of us would alert the guards while the others gathered the eggs?"
"I'm saying we leave and talk to the guards now. There's no rush. This was never intended to be the excursion in which we killed them anyway."
"I could do it," Aurora offers. "I have wings, so I've got that advantage at least.">>704140
"There's an idea," Violet says, nodding with approval. "I'm sure they'd be happy to give us a hand, all things considered. No reason we should tackle this alone, really."
"Y'shouldn't go messin' with Tiger Clan," Raff warns. "This isn't really their area. Even if you do have one of their little tokens. Best not to get involved with their lot, if you ask me.">>704133>>704134>>704135>>704136>>704139
"'Bout them eggs," says Raff. "What are you planning to do with 'em? I'd place money on 'em being worth a fortune to the right buyer. With that Swap Meet comin' up, you might do best to hold on to 'em and see if you can't sell 'em there. Or take one and try and raise the little shit for yourselves. Eh?"
"Something best thought of after this is over," Hermodur answers Raff. "We shouldn't count our eggs before we've potentially accidentally broken them all."
Zunden nods along with Hermodur,
"Bezt to work out ze not-dying bit firzt, yez."
"Right then. Given we would have assistance in this case, i'm in favor of gathering the guard for the eggnapping. Anypony else?"
"We need to take care of the adults before the eggs.">>704146
"I'd prefer not risking anyone else, but it's a pretty sound plan. I won't say no, for sure."
"Yeah. If that's what everyone else would rather do I guess I'm with it."
"Guards are accustomed to risking their lives for the sake of the citizens. This is what they signed on for when they joined. Besides, we'll be in the most danger.">>704143>>704148
"If everyone else is on board for this plan, then I say we get out of here before we get in more danger. I apologize to our exterminator. It's not that I don't have faith in you. It's just that the situation has changed."
"yes, given the concern fighting only one
of these beasts, i feel that having the guards for assistance may be enough to defeat both of them."
"..Not that this
plan is any less perilous, given we'll still need to abscond with their eggs, undoubtedly while being pursued by the pair.."
Raff grumbles something indistinctly. With your business in the sewers concluded, he leads you out the same way you entered, exiting into the musty but infinitely more refreshing Downs. It's about 1pm now.
Raff looks around at the lot of you. "Guess this is where we part ways then. Not much else I can do for you really, 'less you wanted a tour of the beautiful Downs like what I gave Norv 'ere. 'S all up to you lot from 'ere on out. Good luck. You're gonna need it. Heh." With that, and assuming no one else has anything else to say to him, Raff gives Hermodur a brief apologetic look back before hobbling off on his crutches, disappearing through one of the many crooked alleys of the Downs.
"Wouldn't we have to lead them through the downs and into town? Apparently they don't usually come here. That'd put more than just us at risk."
I wave. "Thanks, Raff." I turn to the party. "So, I guess we're not actually going through with the plan until tomorrow? Do you guys actually need me here before our visit with the ghost boat tonight?"
Hermodur gives Raff a somber nod.
"Back to the guards' barracks. I've been there before. I know the way," Hermodur says as he leads the way.>>704153
"That's a fair point. But, I feel like this would be worth it for them."
"And, failing that, we could always cash in a Tiger Clan Token."
"Good thing we've mapped it out then… sort of. It'd be a shame to get completely lost." the stallion says with a nervous chuckle.>>704152>>704155
Giving Raff a nod, Rabi turns to follow after Hermodur
have the guard evacuate the downs in preparation, or set an ambush clear of civilians. So long as we can keep them contained in the area that would greatly reduce the risk of citizens being injured."
"Once we alert the guard i'm sure they'll have some idea of how best to deal with the situation."
Zunden nods towards waving him off.
"Do you have somewhere to be?" Aurora asks rather bluntly.>>704157
"True, true," says Violet. "Best to go see them now then.">>704155>>704156>>704154>>704157>>704158
Hermodur leads the group out of the Downs and towards the watch tower, where you can see several guards in uniform standing on duty, although judging by the fact that some of them look half asleep while others are clearly distracted, the Braildorn guard's standards seem rather lax. One of them, a spear-wielding unicorn with an impressive handlebar mustache, blocks your path. He seems to be the only one taking his job seriously. "State your business, citizens," he says sternly. "This is a restricted area."
"I'll take that as a no," I say, ignoring Aurora's question and splitting off with the group. I wave as I head in the opposite direction, toward The Den. "I'll catch up with you guys before tonight."
"Right then, do take care, Norvey!" i reply, cheerily waving you off with a wing.>>704159
"Ah, yes, hello sir. We'd like to report some.. rather worrisome findings about the beast of Braildorn."
"You see, we had managed to search the sewers for information, given the beast was said to travel by the tunnels, only to find that.. there were two
of them, presumably a mating pair, even, with a clutch of eggs."
"The situation is quite dire, and we were hoping to find aid with the guard, perhaps ambush the two in the open, evacuate an area for the fight.."
Rabi leaves the talking to Silver- she's good at this sort of thing, anyways!
"I spoke with the guard captain yesterday about taking down the Beast of Braildorn. After doing some scouting we believe we have come up with a certain method of taking it down. But, it will require cooperation with the city's guard. As such we need to speak with your captain."
Aurora looks rather miffed, while Violet looks surprised as you suddenly split. "Oh. Um. Maybe I should… Nah. Be careful, love. This place is rough."
It takes you a second to orient yourself, but eventually you make your way back to the Den. It's rather quiet this time of day, and there's not even any music playing. You don't see any familiar faces, save for an alcove where the braggart zebra Zulf is holding a poker match. In another corner are a whole gaggle of changelings taking bets on a roulette wheel hosted by a rather seedy looking goat, while at a table are a donkey and a pegasus engaged in what looks like an intense game of chess, with a smallish crowd gathered interestedly. As you enter, you get odd looks and wrinkled noses; it dawns on you that you must stink of sewer.
Zunden breaks away like Norv, deciding to get clothing more suitable for sewage trekking.
Yeah, maybe coming here right out of the sewer wasn't the best idea. Oh well. They can suck it up. I walk over to the poker table, set my cage down, and take a seat. "Buy-in?" I ask. "Still 100 bits?" I look around for any kind of bar, tugging on my collar a bit. "And can a guy get a drink somewhere in here? I'm parched."
The guard seems to recognize Hermodur. "Ah yes. You again. Well, I'll tell Captain Fergal know you're here. One moment…"
He leaves you for a while, moving into the watchtower, and after a few minutes he returns and escorts you inside, leading you into a long room with a big map of Braildorn on the table in the middle. Captain Fergal is there, an alabaster, no-no-nonsense minotaur, conversing quietly with another presumably high ranking guard. He looks up as you arrive, dismissing both guards. "So. You're the ones going after the Beast, are you. Or Beasts, as I was informed. This is troubling news. But not unexpected. We'll do what we can to help you, but there's no guarantees. What do you have in mind?"
"Ha! I knew you'd be back. They always come back." Zulf leans back in his chair, leering at you. "Same buy-in, yeah. Bar's just over there." He points behind you to a small barpiece, where a glum looking griffon is wiping the counter.
You start heading towards the Braildorn markets, which seem to be thriving around now. Food is commonly sold now, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. After a bit of digging, you find a small shop for outdoors supplies and clothing, run by a friendly looking ewe with huge round spectacles. "Hello! What can I help you with?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll be right back." I walk over to the bar and stand beside it. "Can I get a whiskey? A burbon if you have it. Just whatever of you don't. Straight, on the rocks."
"The beasts have a nest of eggs," Hermodur reports. "The current plan is that we will take their eggs to ensure that they come after us. We will lead them out of the sewers and into the more open Downs. Your guards will be waiting there to ambush them. Together we should be able to take them down easily. And, with the eggs, they'll have a reason to not retreat. Of course, we should probably make sure to cut off their escape anyway."
"Of course, since there's two of them, we will be expecting extra bounty."
[1d10] for persuasionRoll #1 7 = 7
The griffon nods. "Bourbon on the rocks, comin' up." He turns away from you and gets to work preparing the drink. He serves it to you efficiently, charging you 20 bits.
Trotting over to the table, i take a moment to look it over and find the sewer entrance before relaying the plan.>>704171>>704167
"Correct. With the guard's help, we will certainly fair better against the pair, though there was the concern of civilian fatalities when we lure them out of the sewer." i add, nodding to hermodur.
"If possible, evacuating the downs prior to the mission would eliminate the danger the beasts could pose to the residents, if you've the guards to spare for the task."
"Yeesh. Steep. I got a whole bottle of rye for just over twice that." I shrug and drop the bits on the counter. "Whatever. Thanks." >[-20 bits.]
Grabbing the drink, I walk back over to the table, sit down, and nearly stack my hundred bits on the table in ten stacks of ten. "Alright. Deal me in. We dueling, or anyone else joining us?"
Zunden says, happy to be out of the sewers and seeing more friendly faces,
"I uh, waz looking to get zomething to wear actually. I hate covering my feet and zuch but I'm going to be zomewhere zwampy, and dezpite how tough my zcalez are, I don't need zhat tracking on zhem."
She rubs the back of her neck,
"I've zeen zome felidz wear zheze leazher foot wrapz before. Do you know ze type of zhing I am zpeaking of?"
"We can talk bounty when the job's done," he says firmly. "The problem here is thus: we don't have much jurisdiction over the Downs. That's in the hands of the Tiger Clan. Much as we'd like to get rid of them there's no much we can do about it. We're not exactly welcome there, and they won't listen to us, most likely. Not to mention, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to fight the Beast. Let alone two. I could help you, but… it'd be risky for me, and my men. I'm not really sure we can make this work." He seems hesitant to get involved.
He shrugs. "That's what they told me to charge."
Zulf looks at your buyin, then at you, leaning over the table. "Know what, I feel like thrashing someone. Let's go. You and me, right now." The crowd murmurs in anticipation.
"Leather footwraps?" She taps the side of her specs pensively. "Hmmm… I think I might have some, actually. One moment…" She goes digging through a wooden crate, eventually unearthing a pair of leather wrappings. They look like they're meant for felid feet, but with some adjustments they should fit you as well. "Here we are. They're not ideal, but they ought to do right by you. What do you think?"
"What if I could guarantee safe passage through the Downs for your guards?"
"Yeah, much preferable zhen zomething caking onto my feet. Would you be able to fit zhem? I realize it'z an odd requezt from a Zaurian, I'm zure I could figure zomething elze out ozherwize. I'll pay for it, zhough."
I sit up in my chair, relaxed as I wait for him to deal me in. "So," I say. "You just stick around here, then?" I take a swig of my whiskey and let out a breath. "You have a story? About how you started playing? Seems like you're around here a lot, so I'd guess you're really rich, really lucky, or really love the game."
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"The situation is set to grow even worse than it currently is, Captain. With the clutch of eggs further in and a pair of beasts to deal with, it isn't much longer before we aren't dealing with two but a dozen
or more beasts of Braildorn. You stand to completely lose control of the city if we aren't able to rally enough fighters to contain the threat, sir."
"The threat may be great now, but i assure you this is minor compared to what will happen once those eggs hatch.."Roll #1 10 = 10
"And how would you do that?" He frowns, still unsure of the situation. >>704182
He considers your words, mulling the situation over and weighing his options. "I suppose when you put it that way… Alright. I'll muster what troops I can to aid you in the hunt. I hope you know what you're doing, drifters.">>704179>>704182
"So. When would you be starting this hunt for the Beasts? I can have my men ready by this time tomorrow."
"The sooner the better," Hermodur responds. "Shall we meet them here or at the Downs?"
"Certainly! Just a few minutes…" She takes your measurements and takes the wrappings into another room, where you hear her humming and snipping away. Eventually, she comes back out with the leather wrappings changed, now able to fit you like a glove. "These should be a perfect fit for you, madame," she says proudly, presenting them to you. "Is there anything else I can help you with? Tents, bedrolls, climbing gear, compasses, lanterns, antivenom…?"
"If it helps, they could all sit at range- we can be the ones closer-up."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
"Most of the time," he answers, dealing you in. "I find it's a good way to unwind after the hard part of the day is done. Been playing for a good few years now. Guess I just have the knack for it. Rarely lose a match, I do."
"Enough talk. Let's do this."
"Ah, good point dear, the guards acting as a rear guard, archers or reserves and the like. this fight will be rough, but between ranged support from the guards and our own mettle we should be able to stop them."
You find the match to be one-sided. Your hand is no match for his, as he wipes you shortly, bragging loudly about how good he is. However, as he does so, you think you see a glint of something metal under his sleeve.
"Told you I'd thrash you," he crows. "Don't push your luck. Walk away while you still can."
"Oh uh, zome armor to match zheeze actually, I have bozh chain and clozh, but ze chain will ruzt in water and ze clozh iz hardly any protection. Waz zhinking juzt light leazher wizh zome earzh-tone clozh to match it.">previous pic ref
Zunden ask, before perking up at antivenom,
"To what creaturez do you have antivenom for? It may prove uzeful."
"So be it. We'll rendezvous here this time tomorrow. I'll have a retinue of musketeers and spearmen to provide backup for when the beasts emerge." He extends his hand to Hermodur. "Best of luck with the preparations, drifters. The town is counting on you all."
My eyes only briefly linger on his sleeve. "I know what you mean. I've been playing for five. Got into it when I was just about out of my teens. Freck, a friend of mine, invited me to a game and I just kinda fell in love with it." I swallow and glance at the stack of bits I just lost. No. I'm better than him. I remember him winning with several hands last time that should have been unplayable, but he kept them. Even if he won, that was still dumb. I take a drink of my burbon and click it against the table. Pulling out another hundred bits, I lean in and lock eyes with him. "Deal me in again."
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
"I shouldn't shake your hand," Hermodur says cordially. "I've been searching the lair of the Beast of Braildorn," he reiterates what he's been doing to send the message.
"Hmmm… I don't normally deal in armor per se, but I think I might…" She rummages among the racks for a moment, finding a second-hand boiled leather cuirass and a brown hooded cloak. They seem to be your size. "How are these, love? Sorry I don't have much else…"
"Well, it's not exactly meant for specific creatures, but it should cure most poisons, unless you're fighting something particularly nasty. It's meant for snakes, spiders, that sort of thing." She shows the bottles to you, a leather strap with 8 thin phials of a light green watery liquid. "It's not exactly delicious, but it should cure most venoms, toxins, poisons and what have you."
He lets out a short bark of a laugh. "HA! You're joking, you're joking. I can't believe my ears! After all that, you're gonna go again?… Your funeral, friend."
The ensuing match is even worse than the first. Either the whiskey is affecting your play, or Zulf has the devil's own luck, or he's cheating, or any combination of the three. The crowd sighs in disappointment as Zulf wins again. "This is almost painful, you know," Zulf say smugly as he puts away your hard earned coin. "I did warn you not to play me. Come back when you're a little richer, dog. You don't look like you can afford to be here."
"…Right. Sorry, I didn't notice. I don't have a sense of smell, you see. Probably for the best not to shake hands then." He retracts his hand and folds his arms. "Well then. This time tomorrow. I'll start making the arrangements ASAP."
"And I am not a warrior, I juzt wanted rezilient clozhing, zo iz not a big worry. Zhiz iz plenty good, zorry for azking out of your comfort zone."
Zunden says nodding as the ewe explains the antivenom's use,
"I zee? Well firzt how much iz zhiz whole enzemble? If it it'z not too bad I zhink I could zqueeze in a purchaze of ze antivenom too, if it'z not too exzpenzive."
She tallies up the costs: 30 for the boots, 40 for the armor and cloak, and 25 for the antivenoms, plus a discount for buying in bulk. "80 bits for all of them," the ewe says, proceeding to bag all of the goods.
"We'll ready however we can. As an added plus, we'll know where it'll likely retreat to."
"Zhat'z more zhan fair, given you having to work wizh ze zpecific requezt."
Zunden takes a pouch from her bag of holding and removes twenty bits from it, handing the remaining in the pouch to the ewe.
"Excellent, we'll gather our supplies and inform the team of the details then. Thank you captain, the effort won't be wasted, i assure you."
I drain my whiskey and slam the glass against the table. Leaning forward, I give him a small, half-drunk, half-predatory smile. "I'm an adventurer," I say. "That means I have stuff and know about stuff worth more than you can probably even dream of." I pull out my last hundred bits, the vial of Sleeper Poison, and one of the potions I got from Carnifex at random. "One more game," I say. "A fair
one. But not poker this time. This time, I put those hundred bits and those two potions on the line against four hundred. So two hundred of yours and the two hundred I just lost." I reach into my pocket and pull out a coin I had separate from my bit pouch. "On a coin flip. Heads I win, tails you win. A fair 50/50. You're a gambler, right? What do you have to lose? A couple hundred bits?"
He looks amused for a moment, then a little suspicious. Without asking permission, he snatches the coin out of your hand and examines it like it's forensic evidence before tossing it back to you. "Alright, drifter. You're on. 50/50." His smug demeanor gone, he leans in and the crowd quiets down, waiting with bated breath to see what happens next.
He nods and salutes, calling in the high ranking guard from before and starting to converse with him about the preparations. With that, the uppity mustached guard escorts you out of the watchtower and leads you back outside.
"Thanks for that!" She counts out the coin and puts it neatly away in a drawer. "I hope they serve you well!"
My heart races as I position the coin on my thumb. Taking a deep breath, I flick the coin into the air, catch it, and flip it on to the back of my hand.
[1d1]Roll #1 1 = 1
All eyes are on the coin as it spins through the air, watching intently as you catch it and reveal the result: heads. As the crowd oohs and titters, Zulf looks like he was just forcefed several lemons. Glaring at you with fiery yellow eyes, he extremely reluctantly pulls out his coinpurse and upends it, counting out 400 bits - in 2 bit coins. He pushes the small mountain of coin over to you carelessly, sweeping the rest into his bag, which you realize now is a bag of holding. "There's your money, mutt," he growls, grabbing his things and storming out of the Den. He bumps into a smaller pony on the way out, stopping to yell at them for a bit before throwing open the casino door and slamming it with a bang. There is an awkward silence before the patrons go back to their business.
I almost feel bad for the guy as he storms out. I give the trick coin one more flip before kissing it and slipping it back into my pocket. Nothing like doubling your money to make a guy feel a little better. And the booze doesn't hurt either, I guess. Gathering up my winnings, I grab my cage and head out. Maybe I should start leaving most of my money with everyone else's and just keep a gambling bankroll. These coins are getting heavy.
You leave the Den and start making your way towards the Happy Minotaur. It seems to be closed, but not unattended. You can see moving silhouettes moving on the windows of the grim little inn. No one else seems to be around on the streets. It's almost too quiet for the Downs.
A chill runs up my spine as I look around. It's almost even spookier in the middle of the afternoon. Stepping up to the Happy Minotaur, I try the door. If that doesn't work I knock.
The door seems locked. As you knock, you hear talking coming from the second floor, then footsteps. A gangrel looking Dog with a mean scar running from his left temple all the way to his chin answers the door. "We're not open till 5pm," he says with a very unfriendly tone. "You want to book a room, come back then."
"Uh, I was actually looking for someone I left here last night." I scratch the back of my head. At least I think it was last night. So much happens in a day I think I'm starting to lose track. "A felid. Smaller guy. Not so easy on the nose. I was hoping he was still around or someone knew where he might've gone."
The Dog thinks for a moment. "…Yeah. Yeah, I remember him. Took off this morning without a word. No clue where 'e went."
"Ah. Shoot. Alright." I smile, fighting his unfriendly attitude with calm air of politeness. "Thank you anyway." Well, I hoped it'd be that easy, but I didn't actually think it would. I sigh, nod to the dog, and turn around to walk away.
You leave the inn and start heading out of the Downs and out of Braildorn proper, exiting the main gate nad looking around. It doesn't take long to spot Rosen and Gilder's caravan; they seem to have set up a little tent at the bottom of a hill, the remains of a campfire visible nearby. Gilder is tuning his lute, but stops to wave at you as you approach, calling for Rosen. "It's your favorite bloke again!"
Rosen hobbles out of the caravan with his walking staff, grinning widely at you. "You've got some nerve showing up here mate, especially after what you pulled." He wags his finger cheekily at you. "Here to browse? We've got some new stuff in stock! Admittedly not much, but it's something, eh?"https://pastebin.com/qNkjAyPP
>new items: Darkslayer, Lost Card: XIV Temperance, Moonlight Sonata, Stray Cat
I return the grin. "Nerve is something I have in spades," I say. "Especially lately. Just wish I had a little more than just nerve, yeah?" I chuckle. "Don't worry. No more dice this time. Just wanna look around some. A couple things caught my eye last time, and I need some new clothes so I figured 'hey, I planned on paying my favorite two traveling merchants I've ever met a visit'. Suppose I've only met two, though. Before I look around too much, I want to buy a suit. A red one, and a white undershirt, like when we first met. I want to get out of these desert clothes, but my old one is kind of one step away from turning to rags."
"Yeah, the desert look isn't really in vogue this season," Rosen says lazily, sitting down on a tree stump outside as you look around their shop. You'd forgotten how much bigger their Sanctuary is on the inside; it's essentially a fully fledged store hidden within a little wagon. You manage to pick out some new duds for yourself, a fancy red suit to match the one Hermodur got along with a white undershirt. It looks to be in good condition. Gilder wrinkles his nose in disapproval. "Ehh. Not really a good color combo, you ask me. You're the customer though."
I hold the suit up to my body and look down at it, satisfied enough. "You don't think so?" I ask. "I always liked red."
The frilled saurian shrugs. "Don't listen to me, I'm no fashion expert. You do you."
I nod. It'll be nice to be back in my normal clothes again. "Alright, then. I'll take it. How much?"
Gilder looks it up and down, then shrugs. "40. 'S just clothes."
"Make it 50 for him!" Rosen calls from outside. Gilder just closes the curtain. "40 bits," he repeats.
I nod and return to looking around the shop. "There are a few things I like, actually. I think I'll take the music book, the skull, a wand of Haste, a wand of Bolster, the good luck charm, and the master chef tools. That's about 270 total, right?"
He gathers all the knick knacks for you and counts them up. It takes him a couple of tries, but he gets there. "Yup. 310 all in all. Sure there's nothing else you want to grab?"
Rosen waddles into the shop, his eyes bulging as he sees how much you're buying. "Strewth! You're gonna run our inventory dry at this rate! Where'd you get the money from? Actually, I don't think I want to know."
I wink at Rosen. "A few ways. Some of it's yours." I hand over the bits and nod. "Thanks. I have my eye on a couple other things, but I want to keep some extra money, just in case. I think this is all for now. I'll keep you guys in mind if I do need anything else, though." I chuckle. "Maybe even spend enough at some point to get some kind of loyalty discount?"
Rosen pouts. "Least it's ours again now." He counts them out and splits them with Gilder, who both pocket the money. "Cheers for that.">-310 bits
"Fair enough," Gilder shrugs. "We'll be around till tomorrow, then we've got to get moving, so if any of your mates want to come buy something you should point em towards us. We'd normally stay longer, but we have to restock our inventory, and it's a long road from Braildorn to the Weeping City."
"Eh, I dunno about that," Rosen mumbles. "We don't really do loyalty discounts. …Maybe. We'll see. Depends on how much you buy, mate."
"Eh, I'm mostly teasing anyway. Weeping City… That sounds familiar for some reason, but I can't place it." I pick up my bags and shoulder them. "Anyway, I'm gonna go ahead and get going. I want to get cleaned up and changed. I smell like a damn sewer." I wave. "See you two around." I turn around and head back into town. I wonder if that inn would let me borrow a room for ten minutes. Couldn't hurt to ask. I really don't think I have the time to head all the way back to the ship. I make my way back to the first tavern we stayed at who's name I can't remember.
"See ya next time mate!" Rosen says with a friendly wave as you leave. You eventually make your way to the Old Familiar, where you see Chardonnay busy sweeping up some broken glass. She jumps slightly as you enter, but gives you a nervous little smile. "Hi! What can I get you?"
I rub the back of my head. "Uh, yeah… I have a weird question. I was wondering if maybe I could just get a room for a few minutes or something? I just need to clean up and get changed, but don't really have time to head back to my new place."
She looks hesitant, looking behind her as if to ask her supervisor, only to see there's no one else around. "Uh… Sure. Just be quick. I'm not meant to be doing this." She hands you a key to one of the rooms. You find it to be pretty barebones, with only a bed, a drawer, other assorted furniture and a rudimentary shower with instructions not to use it for more than 5 minutes at a time.
Thank goodness. I nod. "Thank you," I say, taking the key. "I won't be long." I shower as fast as I can, and afterwards put on my new suit, pull my hat out of my bag, and, for the first time since the sands, fit it onto my head. It's nice to be back in real clothing again. After looking around to check for anyone watching or listening, I pull out the skull, set it on the bed, crouch down, and clear my throat. Here goes. "How do I keep Persolus from hurting people if I help him?"
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
The skull just stares at you with its gem encrusted eyes for a moment. Then, the lights in the room begin to flicker and dim, and a strong wind blows seemingly from nowhere, surrounding the skull. It begins to float of its own accord, levitating above you, leering with dead, blind eyes. Its jaw twists and cracks as it stares down, and with a ghostly echoing sound, it speaks:"Nyeh! Did you hear about the psychic midget who escaped from the Echoes? He's a small medium at large! Heheheheheheeeee!"
Then the skull drops to the bed, inert for now. You feel like you got exactly what you paid for.
I get a little excited as the skull floats, but my face deadpans as it just tells a joke. I sigh. Well, at least it was only ten bits. Picking the skull back up, I head out of the room and stop to give Chardonnay the key back.
You hand Chardonnay back the key. "Oh? Done already? Well, I suppose there'll be no charge for it. No one will be the wiser." She flashes you a quick smile as she puts the key back. "I don't know what that was about, but I won't pry."
I smile back. "Yeah. I appreciate it. I needed that." I run my finger across the brim of my hat. "Just changing into my fancy new duds and cleaning off the manly musk of adventure. Nothing interesting. I just have a meeting with a friend soon, so I didn't have time to go all the way across town. I tip her five bits, rounding my funds out to 90. "Thanks again, Chardonnay," I say, giving her a quick wink. "You have a nice day." All in all, even though they didn't go with my idea I made some extra money and spent it to help the party. I'd say that was a good several hours well spent. Adjusting my pack, I make my way out of the Old Familiar.
"O-Oh! Thank you!" She eagerly pockets the tip and waves you out of the humble inn. With everything done, you start heading back to the Lady Luck, where the rest of the party await.
With your plans for tomorrow's hunt complete, you all return to your new ship, with Norv taking a detour to finish some odds and ends. With your rendezvous with the mysterious Dawn being set for midnight, you find yourselves faced with a significant amount of free time. It is currently 2 pm, for reference. Violet occupies herself with refurbishing her living quarters, while Aurora seems content with her barebones dormitory and devotes some time to writing her haikus.
>do whatever you want to do as downtime, or just vote to timeskip to midnight
I plan on visiting Zunden with a present, but I decide to search out Hermodur before I do anything else.
"If we have free time today, I'd like to take some time to have that sarcophagus assessed. It does not seem safe to me," Hermodur says. He heads to the hold to make sure it's even still there.
I catch Hermodur on the way to the hold and stand up straighter. "Hey," I say. "Hermodur, can I talk to you for a second?"
Arriving back at the ship, i take a moment to head below deck in search of something to clean myself, pausing to remove my heavier metal plates, keeping the underdress with me.
"Now that we've finished our rather eventful sewer trek and sorted the beast situation out, for now, The next step would be to find a tailoring kit to redye my poor dress."
"What a horrid creature, bleaching my clothes.. Once i've bathed i'll have to head to market to fix this.."
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 10 = 10
“I didn't want to bring it up with everyone else because putting you in the spot like that wouldn't be cool.” I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and exhale. Instead of beating around the bush, I decide to just be completely up-front. “Alright,” I say. “I don't like your plan. It's dumb, reckless, has no fall-back strategy, and has too much potential for property damage, which the folks in the downs can't afford. And that's assuming we can get everyone evacuated, which is a lofty assumption. I know the kind of folks there. They won't want to leave. It has too many things that can go wrong, and then what? Then someone gets hurt –or worse– and we have two rampaging Balor to worry about. I know you have an aversion to fighting in tight spaces, but right now I don't care. We can use those tight spaces to our advantage here. I do like that we have some guards helping now. I never would have even thought to ask because one of the rules in the downs was 'don’t get the guards involved’, but I admit, we probably need their help. That just makes my plan even more solid, because the main issue –splitting everyone up– doesn't hurt us as much as it hurts them now. Even assuming only three or four show up, that still leaves us with way better odds. With your plan we're fighting them head on, full strength, and enraged. That's not only reckless, but I think it's borderline suicidal. Especially for whoever actually carries the egg, because I'll tell you what they'll do. They'll hyperfocus on that one person. They'll lash out and won't stop until the threat to their brood is gone. They’re strong, intelligent animals, but from what I gather they're still animals. Let me be the first to say that I realize I'm not military strategist. I'm not going to pretend like my plan is the best or most fool-proof, but at least it's better than “hit them really hard until they stop moving”.”
I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “That said, I'll still help on your suicide mission, but I really think it's a bad idea. Are you sure you won't change your mind?”
"S-Sorry I wasn't there to help, dear. We can find you a new dress or two too, I'm sure." he offers, following her along with more than a hint of concern in his voice.
With having purchased her new outfit, Zunden makes her way back to the Lady Luck and pass two of the antidotes to each of her companions Violet and Aurora,
"Have two on you juzt incaze zomezhing bitez you in ze zewer, or any time from now. I can heal poizon myzelf, but if you are bozh injured and poizoned at ze zame time, zhiz meanz I can heal you wizhout having to worry of ze ozher."
Zunden then goes and claims one of the rooms near the kitchen, sitting down and plucking away at the bard's instrument experimentally.
"Oh it's quite alright, Rabi!" i hurriedly assure you "You were busy gathering information, and that monster had appeared out of nowhere."
"..Although, if you're willing to help me wash up once i find something to clean with, that would suffice for an apology. Doubtless you could also use a bath as well, right?" I add, nudging you with a wing.
You head down to the hold. The sarcophagus is still there, but you notice something wrong: it looks like it's been tampered with. The lid is covered in what look like claw marks, and it's been shifted slightly from its original position, leaving scratches on the ground.>>704437>>704440
You head below deck and find some sort of showering area, or what passes for one; there is a large freshwater tank with a tap and several wooden buckets stacked next to it. Since water is a scarce supply on a ship, you can only assume the buckets are for very quick, cold, military style showers. You'll have to find some way to install proper showers if you want that luxury.>>704441
Violet looks up from her cabin, halfway through decorating it. She's propped her spear up on some hooks on the wall almost like a hunting trophy, and the rest of her belongings are folded neatly under the bed. "Hm? Oh! Thanks, Zunden. Been meaning to go restock on these. Good thinking."
Aurora's room is frugal and somewhat messy, the mattress dragged out onto floor to make a sort of futon while her personal effects are tossed into a corner. She is resting face down scribbling something in her little poetry book when you enter, getting up and quickly putting it away. She looks at the potion curiously, then nods. "Thanks for that. Just hope these monsters aren't poisonous…"
You head downstairs and claim a room. There's not much to it, but it's better than nothing. You pluck on the lute and it twangs discordantly. It seems to be out of tune, but you're not sure how to tune it properly.
Zunden experiments with the bits at the end of the lute as she's seen other bards do when they've said their instruments are out of tune.
'Learning an instrument isn't so hard, right? I've met quite a few self taught musicians after all.
[1d10] tuning without a practical understanding of how lutes workRoll #1 5 = 5
"Oh! It seems we do indeed have showers here."
rounding the corner, i take a look at the tank before pulling a bucket over to fill with water, hunting down a soap bar in the meantime.
"This will have to do for now, rather sparce but it's a great deal better than bathing in the river!"
Hermodur stops walking and stops to listen to Norvegicus. As he speaks, Hermodur crosses his arms. But, he shows no big emotional reaction on his face. After Norv finishes, Hermodur waits a moment, then starts speaking.
"First of all, whoever said that only one person would take one egg? That WOULD be foolish. The idea is for each of us to take one egg each."
"Second, splitting up is mathematically worse for us. 1 Beast vs 7 of us was already deemed so dangerous that we had to stack the odds in our favor. And, that's generously including Aurora as a combatant. If we split up, that would be leaving 3 of us alone with one Beast potentially. Even if that IS only running, that's still less people to help someone should they trip with a lower ratio of people to help them. And considering the terrain, a slip-up is likely. At least with us together, that's 6 other people to help them with only two Beasts to capitalize on it - as opposed to 2 other people to help with 1 Beast."
"I would also argue that my plan has MORE of a failsafe. Once we get through the sewers, we will be in safe territory. And, with more of us around to help with any errors while running, errors will be mitigated. Once the actual fighting begins, I'd rather NOT have that fighting take place in their own territory. If something goes wrong, we are only within a stone's throw of safety - as opposed to being in the middle of their own hunting grounds."
"Furthermore, without the eggs, the Beasts have the advantage of simply retreating. We have the disadvantage of being the ones who have to accomplish something. They just need to stay alive. If they deem fighting us to be too dangerous a task, they can simply run. Then, we are back to square one. With a hostage, we ensure they will stay to the death."
"The Beasts are already rampaging. They've already taken lives. The only aspect that my plan changes is that- even should we fail - we've at least delayed their reproduction."
"These are the strengths of my plan. If you deem that not enough to be greater than yours, then by all means, we can go with yours. The only reason we have been following mine is because no one objected. I am only here to provide my muscle and my advice. As I always have been. Feel free to disagree."
"That being said, as long as I am providing advice, if you wish to change the plan, I suggest you inform the Guard Captain."
With that, Hermodur turns and continues his trek to the Cargo Hold.>>704443>>704439
When Hermodur opens the Cargo hold door and immediately notices the box has been tampered with, he stops in his tracks. He stares at it with a grim expression.
"This needs to get off of our ship… NOW."
Rabi blinks a couple of times, and blushes ever slightly, following along with a dopey smile. "Sure. I'm really not sure what all to expect on here, though.">>704443>>704445
"This works more than well enough for me! And, Hmm… yeah, I'm sure we can fix it up as we go along, yeah? Maybe at that big trading thing later."
"I do think mine is better still, and if you want I'll explain why. If you're not fighting it, though, I'm tired and really don't feel like arguing. On the note of telling the Guard Captain, I doubt there would be much to tell them we're changing. Your plan was pretty bare-bones, so I assume we're meeting them somewhere. Past that their job was just to wait. All I have to do is re explain my plan, sneak in, set my traps, and let everyone know when I'm ready. Easy.">>704443>>704446
I reflexively take a step back when I see the box, not actually having seen it yet. "What the hell is that?"
You fiddle about with the pegs, plucking each string experimentally as you do so. You find that they control the pitch of each string, although you have to be careful how much you turn the pegs; too much pressure and they threaten to snap, too little and they can come undone and fall off the lute. After some shenanigans you think you have the lute in tune based on what you've heard before, although they might be tuned to the wrong notes.>>704445
You fill the bucket with cold water and look around, eventually finding a cabinet with spare soap bars of dubious quality. Better than nothing.>>704448
It appears to be a sacrophagus made of black stone, with fresh claw marks on the lid. The lid bears an elaborate decoration depicting a snarling Diamond Dog. It is sealed firmly shut, despite someone's recent attempts to crack it open. Looking at it gives you a vague sense of dread.
"I am not a leader," Hermodur reiterates. "I provide advice. What you do with it is up to you. If you want to do something different, you don't need to rationalize it to me."
"That being said, will you have protection while you set traps or will you be alone?">>704448>>704446
"It is a sarcophogus," Hermodur answers the questions grimly. "I found it when we first took the ship. It… doesn't feel right. And, it seems to be getting worse."
"Ah, here we are."
Grabbing the soap, i wince at the cold after testing the water.
soaking my fur and wings, i use a bar to lather my hooves and chest, moving with purpose to avoid the chill as best i can.>>704447
"Could you help with my wings and back, dear? I'll be sure to help you after." i ask with my back to you, wings unfurled.
Zunden, pleased with herself, begins testing placing a claw delicately on one of the strings and plucking that note with her other hand as she slides the one claw down the neck experimentally.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"H-Hmm? O-Oh, sure! I'd be happy to, dear." The stallion says, slipping off his cloak and taking the soap out of her hooves to work on her back. He lets out a bit of a nervous chuckle, and suggests "We can always warm up afterwards for a little, before heading out."
"Well, I'd like to have someone go in with me, but it is a stealthy-like mission. I'd hate to get caught off guard alone, but I'd honestly hate to get caught at all." I swallow as I look the sarcophagus over. "Well, yeah. I agree with you there. I don't really know what we'd do with it, though. What if someone found it and it's something that needed protected?"
"Hmm, that would be lovely.." i reply, sighing contently as Rabi scrubs.
"Given the time, we should have a few moments to relax before leaving for the market."
"We could take it to Fumblemore."
"It's kind of… Well… Big, isn't it? And it looks like some kind of rock or something. I'm not a rock expert, but usually they're heavy."
"We would need help."
"Do you think maybe we could convince Fumblemore to come here? I was planning on stopping by him some time soon anyway. Probably tomorrow. I could ask him then."
You place your thumb and forefinger on the neck of the lute and pluck the string. A single, harmonious note rings out, echoing around the small room. Encouraged, you try a few other notes, stringing them into a little tune: D Bb C A.>>704451>>704454
The shower water is frigid, and you get it over with as soon as you can. Comfort is clearly a commodity when on a long ship voyage.
Rabi kneads into her shoulders softly as he nods in agreement, shrugging off the shockingly-cold water and shrugging. "It'll be nice to take what moments we can. Any idea what sort of dress you'e looking for?"
"He doesn't seem the… outdoors type. In more ways than one."
Zunden giggles in glee as she moves her claws slowly, but methodically, into playing something that's passable music. She catches herself and make sure no one was watching, blushing to herself as she tries to quell her excitement somewhat. She continues playing these four notes, strumming a little before swapping between each chord to hold the notes out a bit longer.
Having finished scrubbing, i run the water to rinse off, prancing in place for a moment in an effort to warm up.
"Brr! Refreshing, but terribly cold!">>704462
"Hmm.. Goodness, it's been quite a while since i've shopped purely for looks.. I would need to see just what the market has, though i'm sure there's something that will catch the eye."
"For now, we had better find something to warm up in, else we'll catch a cold. I'm sure there should be some loose blankets in the sleeping quarters.."
folding my underdress to store away for now, i head back up and towards the bunks, preserving modesty with my wings, given the lack of towels.
"Yeah. I guess that's true enough." I clear my throat. "Well, anyway, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. We'll figure this out. For now I want to go do something else really quick. Have you seen Z?"
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Z?" Hermodur says with some distaste. "I assume you mean ZUNDEN? I do not know where she is. But, if you find her, mention the sarcophagus. The sooner we deal with it, the better. And, I continue to be ignored.">>704461
Hermodur goes to find a place to bathe privately. And wash his clothes.
"I'm not ignoring you. I heard you, and I think everyone agrees that that thing is bad news-" I hook my thumb at the sarcophagus. "But my mind is on other things right now." I walk out into the hallway, making my way toward the quarters. My special ears pick up the sound of Zunden's lute [sound hound] and I make a beeline for the door behind it, stop, and knock.
Rabi offers Silver his cloak to dry off (and protect her modesty) wish if she needs, and follows after her with a quickish pace.
"Yeah, for sure. Maybe we could buy a towel or two, too. Just to keep from freezing after a shower."
You keep playing. While somewhat clumsy, you think you're getting the hang of it. You come up with a chill little arpeggio melody. https://youtu.be/K6hT4OpIS50?t=89>>704468
You wander around the ship for a bit until you come across what you assume is the shower area, a water tank with several buckets and a cabinet of bad quality soap. Time for a navy shower.>>704465>>704470
You go and examine the available cabins. Three of the ten seem taken already, not counting the captain's quarters, and there's barely anything to the available ones: a bunk bed with some mattresses, a few clothes hooks, and a closet in each one for storage. The bunk beds seem to be designed to split apart into two beds, if desired, and each one large enough to fit two ponies each.>>704469
You find Zunden's room easily, as you hear her practicing the lute. Despite having no prior musical experience, she seems rather good at it.
I glance inside, not walking in just yet. "Hey," I say. "I got something for you while I was out, but dang. You might not even need it."
A familiar setup for Hermodur. He silently washes himself and his desert garb. Once he is done, he dresses back up in his new fancy suit.
Being familiar doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. The water is ice cold, chilling you to the bone. There don't seem to be towels provided either, so you have to shake yourself off like a common dog and stand in the sun for some time to dry off. Once you're done, you put your new clothes back on, ready to keep on keeping on.
Seeing the familiar sparse cabins, i sigh.
"It really does look like lysander never kept crew.. We'll have to purchase some bedspreads as well, for everypony."
picking an unoccupied cabin, i eye the connectors for the bunkbed. "It looks like we can break these down, why don't we take a moment to make a proper bed? The bedsheets can come later."
Hermodur grumbles at the undignified drying session. At least with Ailuros he always had a towel.
His mind began to wonder. He wondered how Ailuros was doing. He was concerned that she might be lost without him. The idea made him lament his fate. But, a part of him also enjoyed the idea of being so appreciated.
Without realizing it, he had taken out the bottle of Dreaming Spring water. He was staring at it longingly. After a moment, he sighs and takes a sip.
Then, he heads to the sarcophagus to keep an eye on it.
You head to the hold, examining the sarcophagus. Just being near it makes your skin crawl. It seems to be secured safely, however, at least for now. Nothing else happens.
"Didn't keep them for long, or didn't much care for how they felt. I'm sure we can find some bedspreads somewhere in town." he remarks. At the mention of breaking the bed down he smiles a little, and hastily gets to work at removing the connectors and (with a bit of help) getting the bunks set up next to each other.
"There. Even if we don't have any bedsheets, this should be more than enough for now."
Roll #1 8 = 8
[1d10] StrengthRoll #1 2 = 2
Zunden plays through the melody a few times, eventually closing her eyes and getting into it and smiling widely.
She freezes in her place after hearing Norv's voice, opening her eyes and looking towards the doorway.
"Hello? Oh Norv, I'm zorry, I don't know how to play at all, I waz juzt playing random notez."
She chuckles nervously, setting the lute down on her bed,
"I got you zomething too actually! It'z not much but it'z another vial of common antidote, like what Black Pudding gave uz a while back. Figured it might come uzeful, even if I know zome curez for poizon already. Zorry if it'z not much."
She takes a vial and holds it out, offering for Norvegicus to come in.
You manage to remove the top bunk and, with no small amount of elbow grease, hoist it up and bring it to the ground next to the other bed. Silver almost drops her end of it, and the legs scrape the ground, leaving an ugly mark on the hardwood.
I unshoulder my bag and dig into it, pulling out the Moonlight Sonata. Walking over to her, I hold it out, holding out my free hand to prepare for the swap. "Oh, no. This is just some sheet music that lets you read it under the moon. Not nearly as helpful as potentially not dying from venom. Thanks."
"Oh I'm zorry Norvegicuz, like I zaid i have no muzical expertize at all. Notez are az foreign a language to me az old draconic runez. You zaid zomething about ze moon zhough? Interezting conzidering ze lute'z linked to ze cyclez of ze moon."
Zunden hands the vial over, looking over the piece despite not knowing basic music theory.
settling the bed onto the ground, i note the mark with a shake of the head.
"Oh! Rotten luck.. though at least we've prepared things for later."
"I had hoped for something to warm up with, though at this rate we may as well head to the market."
Rifling through my things, i search for the least dirty choices of my wardrobe. "A pity my clothes are in this state, but they will have to do, for now.."
You read the title: "Moonlight Sonata". The piece seems to be arranged for lute, as luck would have it. You feel strong magical energy emanating from the bound pages.
I shrug. "Apparently you'll just sort of know how to play it if you look at it under moonlight or something, unless Rosen and Glider lied. They said they didn't actually know what it did, but it apparently does something." I slip the antidote into my bag, pull out the good luck charm and roll it around on my fingers. "I bought a couple of things for myself, too. Down to 90 bits, but I think almost everything was worth it." I gesture down at my suit. "I got myself some new clothes, too. Those desert clothes were getting kinda- Well, I didn't like them either way. Nice to be back in a suit." I flip the charm, and call it. "Clover," I mumble.
[1d2] 1 is shamrock, 2 is rabbit foot.Roll #1 1 = 1
Catching the charm, I smile as I see it land on the clover. With a small nod, I tuck the charm clover side out into my hat band.
"You alright? I wasn't sure if you dropped that on yourself or not. Regardless… yeah, I suppose we should. We can get nice and comfortable later, then." he says, throwing his (hopefully somewhat dry) cloak back on and stepping out of the bunkroom.
Pulling out my desert outfit, i do my best to brush the sand off before slipping into the garment.
"Admittedly this looks rather tattered, given the bone shards sent through it, though it at least is a fair bit cleaner than my sewer-sodden dress."
Hermodur stares at the sarcophagus. At first he is scared. However, fear gives way to frustration.
"I am the Messenger of Goddess Ailuros Bastet. I will not fear this… thing!"
With equal parts trepidation and determination in his heart, he lightly touches the sarcophagus.
"I'm afraid I can't quite share the feelings- you seem to end up getting an awful lot more attention in fights than I do, unfortunately."
Rabi's cloak seems dry enough, while Silver's desert gear is in rather poor condition, but better than nothing.
"Thankfully the bed missed me, though it did
scrape the flooring." i reply, still slipping what's left of my desert outfit on.>>704492
"I suppose it's the nature of our fighting styles, You're often further back while i tend to end up in the middle of things, despite the intention of staying away from open conflict."
As you touch it, you get a sudden vision of something terrible: a black hooded figure with darkness swirling all around them, their face and hands made of pure shadows. In their grip is a black formless shape, which they twist and meld like putty constantly. Despite its lack of a face, the figure stares into your very soul, forming the thing in its hands into the shape of your own shadow.
The vision lasts only an instant, and before you know it you are back in the ship's hold, your hand still on the sarcophagus.
"Oh, would you want to tezt it out wizh me during ze night then? We'll be out on ze dockz anywayz at zhat time. I'd love to learn how to play zomething more zhan juzt guezzwork."
Zunden nods, looking over Norv's outfit,
"It'z a very nize outfit, much better zhan my new one."
Zunden says, standing up to show her leather armor and cloak,
"After going in ze zewerz, i wanted zomething to cover my feet, even if my zcalez are hardy."
Hermodur stares with wide eyes at the figure. He continues to stare as he comes back to reality. He doesn't let go of the sarcophagus. His eyes narrow with determination.
"What… are you?" he says out loud. He only half expects an answer.
[1d10] to get an answer!Roll #1 7 = 7
"Eh, all the same. If we could find something to protect you a little, that'd be nice."
"Yeah, I don't really blame you there. Honestly I'm probably changing back into the desert stuff or my old clothes when we go into the sewers. Don't want to ruin my swanky new duds." I smile and nod at her armor and cloak. "Still. You look good. Also I guess I should let everyone know now. I talked to Hermodur. When we go fight Bobby and Bobbette we're going with 'Norv's plan, but there are guards from Hermodur's plan now.' Best not to catch everyone off guard with that."
It offers no response during the vision, but you've seen a figure of that description before. You recall the bounty poster identified the mysterious figure as the Oneiromancer.
"Ah, to be honezt, I got a little confuzed when it came to Hermodur'z plan. Glad it'z back to yourz."
As Hermodur realizes what he's seen, he backs away in horror. He runs off to find anyone who will listen. Presumably he finds Norv and Zunden.
"I-I think we have the Oneiromancer on our ship," Hermodur says, struggling to contain himself.
"What?!" I take a step back and panic. "No. Why would he be attacking us? We haven't done anything to him, right? He was doing whatever else it was he was doing." My breath is heavy, and I quickly drop down to my knees, fumbling with my cage. "We- We aren't ready. We don't know anything about him. Where is he?"
"He's in the sarcophagus," Hermodur answers slowly, unsure of himself.
I pause as he mentions the sarcophagus, a little bit relieved that we aren't under immediate attack. "Wait, what? Like, he has a link with it, or he's literally inside
"I don't know," Hermodur says in frustration. "He's a mind wizard. Why does he have to have a living body? It very well could be his body locked in there. Or a part of it."
"I almozt forgot about zhat Zarcophaguz, after that time in the ring. Well, zhould we bring it to Fumblemore or azk him to come here? Likely izn't zhat zafe."
"Yeah, I'd thought about asking him to come here since it's probably pretty heavy. H brought up a good point when he said he probably doesn't get out much, though."
"Just touching it gave me a terrible vision of him. So, transporting it will be a problem. Besides, what might happen to Fumblemore if HE touches it?"
Time passes. You go about your business, biding your time until the meeting hour in the late hours of the night. It is now close to midnight, and the party gather to meet their mysterious ally.
Norv leads the way, being the most acquainted with the Downs. The already grim district is even more forbidding at the witching hour, and suspicious shadows stay out of the way of your large group. Norv leads you down the spiraling wooden streets until you get to a semi-hidden wharf leading out to the open river. Normally, there's a ghost ship here, but it's gone now. You can't help but feel a tingle down your spine. The air is thick with magic in this place. Violet peers in the gloom for any sign of Dawn, holding up a steel lantern and sticking close to Norv to protect him if need be. Aurora, being able to see in the dark naturally, looks around in confusion.
"Odd. No one here. Maybe they forg-"
A door opens. Not an ordinary door, but a door made of solid light. It appears at the end of the wharf, a single rectangular frame of blinding white. Despite its brightness, the magical portal does not illuminate the area, everything beyond it being drenched in darkness.
Two figures stumble out through the Door. One is Dawn, a beige unicorn with a light red mane, wearing a blindfold and holding a walking stick. The other is a very large hippogriff clad in dark steel jouster's armor, wielding a gleaming two-hander made of patterned steel.
Dawn is kicking at an inky black… thing wrapped around her leg, almost like an octopus with too many tentacles. You recognize it as a Prowler, judging from the single red eye at its center. Bits of it go flying as the portal closes and the hippogriff slays the Prowler with a single blow. Without missing a beat, he sheathes his sword and rushes over to Dawn, cradling her and inspecting her leg. "Are you injured?" he asks concernedly.
"I'm… I'm fine," she breathes. She has a sort of burn where it touched her, but otherwise appears unharmed. "Are they here?"
The hippogriff looks up. "They are. There's a lot of them too…" He surveys you all, focusing on Zunden. "You're the one she spoke of, I take it. The one who helped heal her? …Didn't expect such a large turnout…" He seems wary of the rest of you.
Hermodur just stands with his arms crossed, looking intimidating. It IS his job, after all.
"You must be the one Zunden Healed, back at the temple."
"A pleasure to meet you two. I am Silver song, a friend of hers as well. Is everything alright? It looks like you had a bit of a struggle."
I take a step back, not quite hiding behind Violet, but still standing slightly behind her, trying at once to not be noticed too much and stay out of the way.
Zunden nods to the hippogriff, heading over to Dawn if he allows it.
"I'm Zunden yez, I zpent a night at ze Moneztary and did zome zimple healing zpellz on Dawn, it waz nozhing really."
She looks in the direction of Dawn, despite it just being their voice she processes,
"Dawn, you're looking better zhan when we met, how iz your healzh. I'm zorry I couldn't ztay and zpend more time on helping wizh your eyez, I could do zo now given I've got…"
Zunden trails off, shaking her head,
"You look like you were buzy if you're teleporting in here juzt now and all, iz everyzhing alright?"
*how iz your healzh?
"Hopefully there's no more of those to deal with- And, good to meet the both of you. I'm Rabi."
"Just a runin with some Prowlers," the hippogriff grunts, kicking the smoking gem that powers them into the murky waters below. "I took care of them.">>704514
"Well… it hasn't been easy," she admits. "Even with this cane, it's hard to get around. Carabas has had to guide me around most of the time, but with everything that's been happening on our end, I haven't had much time to be more independent. I hate to be a burden…"
The hippogriff rests one armorclad claw on his shoulder. "You could never be a burden to me," he says softly. Dawn nods and silently sighs, tapping her cane about to gain a better sense of her surroundings.>>704511>>704512>>704513>>704516
A friend of Zunden's is a friend of mine," the hippogriff says, removing his frogmouth helmet. He has dark brown feathers, a fiercely hooked grey beak and deep brown eyes. "I'm Carabas. You already know Dawn, I take it.">>704511>>704512>>704513>>704514>>704516
Violet and Aurora introduce themselves in turn. The latter looks a little intimidated by Carabas.
"I heard your group defeated Lysander," he says, tucking his helmet under his wing. "And that you took his ship." He seems amused, while Dawn looks a little worried. "White Pawn takes Black Bishop," she muses. You are reminded of the chess code in Lysander's notes. "Tell me," Carabas asks, "is he dead? Did you finish the job? And is the Fulcrum's seal broken?"
"We should find somewhere else to talk now that we're all here," says Dawn. "It's not safe to be discussing this in the open…"
"Hmm.. would the ship be adequate? It seems as safe as any place to hide, though it is
a ways away.."
"Well if you have longer zhan a day or zo, let me zee what I can do to help, okay? I had been traveling all day and ztayed up all night doing what I could, but I'm zure I could do better work wizh more rezt."
she nods, noting the chess-speak,>>704511
"What did you do wizh zhoze letterz, Hermodur?"
she briefly asks, before turning back to the conversation,>>704517
"Zhiz iz true yez, az I heard he fled, I didn't get to zee it zhough az I waz wearing ze Fulcrum wizhout having broken it'z zeal. But zince zhen yez ze Lady Luck iz ourz, zhough I'm not a fan of zhe name. Maybe Mizz Fortune would be a good one… I ztill like Fate'z Fortune zhough."
"What does it look like?" Dawn asks. "Describe it to me, in as much detail as you can, and I'll take us there."
Having been unconscious for a majority of the fight, I decide, again, to not speak up. Seems like everyone else has it under control. No reason to draw attention to myself now. Especially not from someone -I swallow- new.
"Yes, we met with her briefly. It's good to meet you, Carabas." he says, before turning to Dawn and humming softly.
"Well, I suppose the top deck would be the safest place to pop up at, so…" he goes into detail about the ship.
"We have time," Dawn answers. "For now. We might have to leave soon, though."
"He got away?" Carabas asks, his good mood passing. "That's… bad. With what he's planning, it'd be best to put an end to him as soon as possible.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Lysander is planning something? He hardly seemed the sort to plan ahead, when we met him. Hermodur quite soundly bloodied him, it looked as if his shoulder and arm were shattered, and he had barely managed to crawl into an escape ship, spitting something about revenge before leaving."
"Yeah, I've dealt wizh ze vengeful before."
"But I waz on ze floor under ze effectz of ze Fulcrum, zo I had no zay."
"You've heard of him before?"
"You don't know? About the Cuckoo?" She seems taken aback for a moment. "…We have a lot to talk about. I thought we'd be on the same page.">>704522>>704524
Dawn nods. "Alright. I won't be able to hold the door for long if I haven't been there, but that should be enough. Here goes…">>704526
"I see. Well, we'll have to deal with him as soon as possible." Carabas looks pensive.>>704527
"Many times," Dawn answers bitterly. "We'll explain when we get to safety," Carabas adds, moving closer to her protectively.>>704525>>704526>>704522>>704521
Dawn concentrates, pursing her lips as she touches a nearby wall. Carabas warns you all to stand back as her horn sparks. In another flash, one of the doors you just saw opens in the wall, only this time, you can see through to the other side, onto the deck of your ship. "…Did I do it?" Dawn asks. "It would appear so," Carabas replies. He ushers for you all to enter. Violet hesitates, but is the first to do so, and you all follow after her. Aurora takes the rear, only walking through after everyone else has, not wanting to be left alone on a creepy wharf.
The strangest sensation about going through the door is the lack of a sensation; one moment you are at the wharf, the next, back on board the ship. It is just like walking through any other door. Dawn seems to struggle to keep them open, and as soon as she hears everyone come through she closes it, her legs almost giving way. Carabas catches her. "Easy," he says quietly.
You lead your strange new allies into the main dining area, where no one can hear. Carabas helps Dawn into a chair and closes all the doors for safety before sitting by her side. "So. You must have questions for us," he says, as Dawn pulls out a peach and starts eating it with gusto. "Ask away. We don't have anything to hide."
"Before you do though," Dawn says between bites, "have you seen our friend Etrigan? He went missing on an expedition months ago, and we haven't heard from him since. "He's an elk," Carabas adds. "Very tall, big horns. Not hard to miss."
Settling onto a chair, i shake my head.
"Etrigan? I'm afraid not. We've been through the city though most of the past few days were spent in less than populated areas, quite possible we missed him."
"As for this 'Cuckoo' of his, we did see something along that line while breaking his control over the Fulcrum, a massive bird like it within the enchantment, though beyond that i'm afraid i'm unaware."
"Hmm… well, that's a bad sign, then. We'll try and deal with him as soon as we can, but I doubt he'll show his face for a little while." the stallion remarks, before stepping through.
He settles on to the deck next to Silver and frowns a little as he thinks back, saying "No, don't think so. I'm sure someone like that would've stuck out."
At the mention of the cuckoo, the stallion's expression twists a little. "Egh, don't remind me. What significance does it have, other than burning itself into your head in his little ringrealm?"
My heart skips as I remember back to the Cuckoo in the dream world, and the baptism by flame. For a moment I silently chew on my bottom lip, but I decide to speak up. "You don't expect us to… like… Kill him, do you? "Take care of" just means he's going to be imprisoned or something if we capture him?"
You sit alone in your new living quarters, noodling on the lute as best you can. While they do have the essentials for living, they are extremely barebones. Hardly enough for a comfortable lifestyle. From one of the other cabins you can hear Aurora humming idly, while Violet seems to be moving around the furniture in her room.
"Well, what eventz tranzpired to, well, have you end up ze way you were when I treated you back at ze Zanctuary? Zhoze were zome zevere injuriez, ezpecially zince zhey had been healing you before zhen."
Zunden asks Dawn,
"And tell me about your companion, how long have you known eachozher?"
Zunden slowly strums between a low A, high A, and D, strumming a simple tune as she imagines the rest in her head, eyes closed.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSiYT8gIbEE
As she finishes, she takes a look around, panging for some of the comforts she once had before her exile. She sets down the lute for the time being and stands up in the middle of the room, taking in the scene.'I could work with this. About as cramped as I was used to back at home, so i easily can make due.'
She checks if the bed is nailed down to the floor, as well as the small dresser besides it.
The bed is quite heavy, but it isn't nailed down. The top bunk is designed to come off. You could move it yourself, with some elbow grease. The dresser likewise is weighted at the bottom to avoid sliding around during travel, but can be moved.
Zunden rubs her chin, sitting her bags down on the dresser opposite of the bed and attempting to dismantle the top bunk of the bed, leaving her with the one.
[1d10] greased elbowsRoll #1 3 = 3
No luck. You manage to lift it a bit, but you can't hold it on your own before dropping it with a loud bang. Idle chatter from nearby stops for a moment, then resumes.
Zunden harrumphs, considering trying again before deciding it best not to hurt herself. She heads over to Aurora's room and knocks on the door to her room, or the wall next to it if the door is open, just as courtesy.
You head to Aurora's room. Her and Violet are chatting about their travels together, reminiscing about the travel through the Shifting Sands. It seems they both agree they should never go there again. They look over as you knock. "Oh, hi Zunden," says Violet with a friendly smile, as Aurora nods in greeting. "What's up?"
knock on the wall*
"Oh, zorry to interupt. I zuppoze Violet had me getting inzpired to move furniture around my room, but I'm having trouble getting ze top bunk down. If you're buzy it'z fine I'll azk anozher time or get one of ze boyz to help."
"Sure, I'll help," Violet offers, getting up from the floor. She follows you back to your room and positions herself at the far end of the bed, waiting for your signal to start lifting.
Zunden nods and mouths counting to three, lifting and bringing it to the center of the room (or out of room to storage if Violet's willing to help bring it that far).
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
With Violet's help, moving the bed is much easier than before. You both lift it off of its perch and bring it to the center of the room, then, after taking a breather, carry it in short bursts all the way down to the hold. You're tuckered out after carrying such a heavy frame, and both you and Violet have to take a while to catch your breath. "Well, at least that's… out of the way…" She wipes her brow and pants with exhaustions. "Damn. That was heavy."
Zunden catches her breath too, squatting against a wall briefly.
"Thankz again Violet, might be heading to ze market zoon to buy a bolt of clozh zo I can make zome curtainz for my window, az well az zome better pillowz and bedzheetz. Trying to make it feel more like… zomezhing I'd call home I guezz."
With all other matters taken care of, I head to my room. If I can get some answers –cryptic as they may be– I'm going to try. Apparently Violet isn't around right now, so I walk over to wherever the bed is now, sit down, and pull out the skull. I stare at it for a second, sigh, and set it down beside me. Clearing my throat, I decide to ask again, "How do Imake sure Persolus doesn't hurt anyone if I free him?"
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
She beams. "That sounds comfy. If we're gonna be keeping this ship might as well make it as homely as we can. Right?">>704547
The bed is propped up near the window. There is also a dresser next to it, and a cabinet at the opposite side, as well as a closed off bathroom in the corner.
The skull comes to life, staring you down with its soulless green eyes. That horrible shrill tinny voice rings out once more."You don't have a family tree! You have a family cactus! They're all pricks! Nyehehehehehehehe!!!"
The skull then falls inert, mocking you with its permanent bony rictus.
I wince as I hear the annoying voice. That actually might have been funny from someone who didn't make me want to claw my ears out, but as it stands I hesitate to ask another question. Without moving the skull, I breathe in and ask, "Will helping the Beldam hurt more people than Black Pudding?"
Roll #1 3 = 3
The skull starts orbiting around your head like an obnoxious moon. "Did you ever hear about the skeleton that wanted friends! He felt BONEly! Nyeh!
I pull my legs up onto the bed and lean back, resting my arms across my legs. I wonder if there's a limit to how many times I can ask a question, or how many questions I can ask. Closing my eyes again, I decide to ask about Persolus for the third time and find out. If I can't get anything this time I'll think of something else. "How do I help Persolus while still making sure he doesn't hurt anyone?"
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Ezactly, it may be foreign and zcary at timez, zo we zhould have zomewhere we can return to zhat'z alwayz ze zame and comforting."
She thinks for a moment,
"If I get ze materialz, will you want zome curtainz too?"
>>704552"We're all victims of our own gene pool,"
the skull says, putting on a sagely tone. "Someone must have peed in yours! So ugly your portraits hang themselves!"
It falls to the ground and bounces like a beach ball, cackling before deactivating again.
She blinks. She really hadn't expected anything from you. "W-Well, I won't say no, I suppose," she answers rather bashfully. "You really don't have to though. I was going to buy my own things after tomorrow's hunt."
I pinch the bridge of my nose and ask again. Persolus and the Beldam are my two biggest concerns right now, even though I feel like nobody else even thinks about them. "How can I help Persolus and make sure he doesn't hurt anyone," I say, making my 'one more time' assertion a lie.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Well it'z only ze matter of buying a bigger bolt of clozh, curtainz aren't hard to make at all. Given zheze aren't ztandard windowz, you'd have to buy zhem cuztom and zhat would be waaay more zhan ze raw materialz. It would be a wazte of your money ozherwize."
The skull clacks its jaws until a tooth falls out. It somehow spits it at you and laughs like a hyena as it hits you square in the forehead, leaving an angry red weal. "Bullseye! Eeheeheeeheheheheeee!">>704557
"True, true. It's up to you I guess. Again, I won't say no. Was meaning to get me some curtains anyway. And some furniture while I'm at it. Maybe even a nice painting for the room…" She touches her chin pensively.
I flinch as the tooth smacks into my forehead, immediately lifting my hand to rub where it hit. "Ow. Didn't expect that." I groan, gently applying a little pressure to the welt. Frustrated, I lean forward and ask three more times. "How do I make sure Persolus doesn't hurt anyone if I help him, how do I make sure Persolus doesn't hurt anyone if I help him, how do I make sure Persolus doesn't hurt anyone if I help him?"
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Oh yez, definitely furniture. I waz zhinking a nize round table in my room zo I can read ze tarot wizh zomeone in a more intimate enviroment. I find It helpz ze atmozphere and helping ze perzon who azked for reading to be more open to what ze cardz have to zay."
>>704559"They told a prisoner up above how he'd be executed. Needless to say, he was shocked! Heeheehee! I could do this all day, you know."
You hear a knock on the door. "Who's in there?" It's Aurora. She sounds both concerned and curious.>>704561
"That would be nice. …Tell you what. Why don't we both go? If we get some furniture we could carry it back. Might be a bit expensive, but if we pull off tomorrow's job that won't be a problem. …Hey, maybe Norv might want to come along. Should go invite him, maybe."
"Oh yeah?!" I shout at the skull. "Well so can-" My heart sinks as I hear Aurora at the door and quickly fumble to stuff the skull in my bad. "It's just me," I yell. "Come in!"
She pokes her head through the door, looking around in confusion. "Were you doing impressions or something? Heard the most obnoxious voice. Didn't belong to anyone on board. Thought someone had snuck on or something."
"Oh, zhat would
be nize. Yeah, I don't zhink he'z ze type to be too buzy after all. At ze worzt, we can window zhop."
Zunden says, starting to make her wa