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After having captured the bounty hunter Clawson, the party have continued onwards on their travels, reaching the fabled Swap Meet, a great gathering of drifters from all over the Echoes. They have spent some time there exploring and stocking their new ship for their future travels. However, all is not well. They have heard whispers of Skylord Lysander building a crew for his new ship, as well as premonitions from Zunden of disaster striking should they remain for too long. Thus, they have resolved to return to the Weeping City to explore it at a later date, after the more pressing issue of the Cuckoo's Egg is dealt with.

Zunden has seen fit to hire Black Pudding to cleanse their ship of the Oneiromancer's influence and hide it from prying eyes, which he has agreed to do. However, upon returning to the ship, they found themselves faced with another problem: a strange mare has arrived on their ship,carrying a horrific creature on her back, claiming to be part of their crew. Black Pudding has diagnosed it as a Squatterbloat, a lesser name-stealing demon that drains the memories of its host and those they have met. He will banish the demon, but it is a rite that will require participation from the others…
1333 posts and 15 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.


[1d10] Vi Nav

Roll #1 9 = 9



Roll #1 5 = 5


"Sure. Thanks for the tip, Dawn! Might not be what we're after, but it's better than nothing!"

"My pleasure," she says politely. "If you ever have need of magical consultation, you need only ask."

After a brisk coffee, you both head back to the forest with a pail each, trying to find the cave again. After a bit of searching, you come across it once again, taking two buckets of the precious waters to store on the ship.
>Abluting Dreamwater x2


"It waz terrifying the firzt time, given ze zhip waz plummeting and I waz injured." Zunden sits on the bed and helps Aurora to a more comfortable position, having gained many a cricked neck from laying in uncomfortable positions and driving.

"You can tune your focuz to a zertain room, if you feel overwhelmed. I zuppoze it may help you already know ze feeling of flying - it waz one I waz foreign to, which added to ze ztrezz. Zee if you can't focuz on zhiz room. One of ze more novel zhingz I found iz looking at ze back of your head."

Zunden heads over to the door, "I'll go get ze door. Would you prefer me to cloze ze curtain to ze bed while Aegiz iz in here?" Zunden does so, if asked.

"Come in, Aegiz. Pardon Aurora'z prezenze, zhe iz practizing wizh ze Fulcrum."


''Oh? I didnt think she out of everyone would step up to attempt using it'' She nods and makes her way in the room ''Do not worry, my visit will be brief, I had a favor to ask and an offer to make''


You half walk Aurora into a sitting position. "This is like… like I'm outside of my body," she slurs, "and… I can see everything…" She continues to mumble indistinctly as she accustoms herself to the sensation. "Wow… I never knew there were so many rooms… so many places to hide… so…" She seems drowsy, and the ship comes to a complete halt. You hear something topple over in the distance, and a Servitor flickers in and out of existence between you. She doesn't seem to hear you when you ask about the curtain.


Zunden offers a seat at her table to Aegis, heading over to the bed and taking the necklace off Aurora.

"Alright Aurora, little bitz at a time." She attempts to wake the bat pony back up, "You're gonna exauzt yourzelf if you try exploring zo much on your firzt go. Zhat'z why I waz zaying focuz on ze room."

She turns back to Aegis, "Do you need to azk in private? It zhouldn't be a problem really, I zhink zhat zhould be all for now Aurora. Zhould I make a pot of tea?"

She turns back to the bat pony, "And would you like zome of your hot chocolate? It'll help wizh ze exzhauztion."


''No, it might actually be better if she listens as well. To put it simply, I have been reading upon the Liber animarum, but I have had no reason to perform any of the rituals I have discovered so far, this is why I have come to you'' She produces the ancient tome from her bag and magically opens it for Zunden ''Take a look… It is… Rather old isnt it?'' She quickly closes its pages


She stirs a little, trying and failing to focus on you. "I… Gods, this feels strange… I'm everywhere…" She closes her eyes and focuses, opening them again and looking generally towards you, like a blind mare. "…I… I think I've got it. Kind of. I can see you…"

"Hot chocolate would… would be great. Thanks." She stirs, her gaze more focused now, sitting upright on the bed and looking up at the ceiling as she keeps experimenting.

"Don't… don't mind me," she slurs from the sidelines. "Just probing… Wow, you should try this sometime. It's so…" She doesn't finish the sentence as she keeps experimenting.


"Juzt keep telling me about it Aurora. If you go zilent for a few minutez, ze necklaze iz coming off. I want you to be zafe firzt and foremozt."

She gives the book a cursory glance, but without the ability to read well, doesn't give too much interest.

"Yez, ze tome Black Pudding held much interezt in. You had no intention to zummon demonz, yet purchazed ze book? I zuppoze zhat makez zenze, if you were wizhing to keep it from ozherz. Why do you wizh for my azziztanze?"

She pours some water into a kettle, placing it under the table before looking back up ath the crystal pony, "Don't look at zhat kettle, it won't boil if you're watching it."


''When I bought the book, I didnt know most of its entries would have been unavaiable to me. The few that I managed to read on were not very relevant to my interests'' She keeps her eyes on the lizard, ignoring the kettle
''But perhaps they would be relevant to yours, or Aurora's'' She opens the book to a specific page and reads it out loud
''Discerning the locations of lost people and things if provided with an ample description; Guiding one to shelter during storms and natural disasters, or to the nearest port if at sea; Surveying areas and assisting with map-making.…''
She flips to another page

''Assisting with negotiations; Improving one's reputation and increasing one's fame or infamy, whichever desired; Training one in all manner of etiquette, social skills, manners, decorum and body language'' She glances up at Zunden as she reads that one before clearing her throat and moving on to another section
''Identifying all manner of plants and animals; Purifying poison or rotten food and drink; Curing a variety of sicknesses, mutilations and ailments, though not all.''

She clears her throat ''Are any of those of interest to you?''


"Being able to keep tabz on ze drake Lyzander would be zomezhing alwayz uzeful, az I zuppoze ze egg if ze compazz ever failz. In fairnezz, zhey all zeem practical in a way. Have you azked Dawn about reztoring her vizion wizh ze latter?"

She leans back a little, "And I azzume zheze all come wizh a cozt?"


Aegis nods ''I didnt consider it, but we would need to summon it in order to know. And yes, they all require some form of tribute, but they are all rather easy to acquire. 200 pieces of gold, a vial of blood, and a poem or donation to the poor, made in the demon's name''


"Zhey all zeem razher mundane in nature, bezidez perhapz ze vial of blood. Do you know if it haz to be your own blood?"


''Any blood, I dont suppose the demon might have a preference for anything specific, say, a noble's blood''


"Zhen perhapz, if you wizhed, I could procure zomezhing from kitchen, tenderize zome meat and collect the drippingz. Where do you intend to do zuch zummoningz, in your own room?"


''That could work, and wherever is the most convenient. Does this mean you have something in mind for Vemafalin,the second Demon?''


Zunden shrugs, "Perhapz it could teach you to zpot a lie via one'z body language, or how to underztand ze elk currently aboard ze zhip. I do not zhink being more charizmatic would ever hurt."

She rubs her chin, noticing the pot whistling and pulling it up from under the table to pour the two cups of tea, "Ze zhing to keep in mind iz, at leazt wizh ze curing and teaching demonz, iz how do zhey plan to do zo? If ze demon waz to reztore eyezight to Dawn, would ze eyez belong to ze demon? Would ze be able to zee zhrough zhem and manipulate what iz zeen? Ze zame goes for teaching charizma, would ze demon be able to zpeak zhrough you? Perhapz change what you're zaying wizhout you knowing?"

She takes a sip of her tea, "All zhingz to keep in mind. Ze zafezt of ze zhree zeem to be ze one zhat can dizcern locationz."


Aegis blows on her cup as she listens ''You are very cautious about this, Zunden, I appreciate that, and I can understand why, especially after that little incident the other day nearly erasing me from existence''
She takes a little sip
''I have no concept of what these demons intentions are or how truly helpful they will be once summoned, so the only way to learn that is to summon them. Instead of worrying about the what-ifs, we should be prepared for the worst.''

''…Black Pudding is not here to dismiss them again in case things go wrong'' She notes ''So we have to ensure everything is done right to appease whoever we summon''


"I have made dealingz wizh Black Pudding, I find making zuch dealz are not zomezhing to be made lightly. Zhat being zaid, I alzo do not zay zhey zhouldn't be made at all. Let uz gain zight upon Lyzander, in order to tezt ze waterz."

She points to a corner of the room decorated with drawings of runes,

"I have been practizing runez much like ze warlock haz, but I could not attezt to having ze power to banizh a demon zhould zhingz go wrong. At bezt, I could invoke ze power of ze Chariot to make zhingz go our way."


''Very well. We will summon Ragalaseab then, and for that we will need 200 pieces of gold, also keep in mind the book describes this particular demon as 'short tempered' and 'biting'. Let's try to not anger it''


"I have alwayz been diplomatic, juzt be careful not to make mention of apperanze, zmell, or ze like. Treat it like buiznezz and only zhat." Zunden says, sipping her tea.

"A zhame to dip into fundz again, but I agree it iz bezt to at leazt underztand what uze ze tome haz." She taps her head, "Ah, one more zhing. I will truzt you to do ze negotiating. If it iz zhort-tempered az you zay, I'm zure it will not appreziate me mizpronounzing it'z name."


Aegis nods, setting her cup down and moving to the door ''Then come with me, we can perform the summoning in one of the Ship's vacant rooms'' She makes her way out, waiting for Zunden, before taking the book and a ink recipient with her to one of the Ship's empty Bedrooms

Once there, she dipped her hoof on ink and produced a circle, carefully making it as perfect as she can, and placed the required tribute in the middle, 200 pieces of gold in neat piles
With that done, Aegis re-read the entry one more time as she sat down on her haunches in front of the circle, raising her arms and closing her eyes

''Oh Ragalaseab, Demon-Patron of Guidance and Divination, it is through this offering that I, Aegis Glaze, humbly request your audience. Come forth!''


The moment Aegis invokes Ragalaseab's name, the coins crumble, turning to what seem like burning cinders, only glowing eerie blue. The lights in the room dim, and there is a smell in the air as if of fresh rain. As the coins disintegrate and scatter to the winds, the world seems to blacken around you, to the point where you find yourselves in a navy blue void, with a ring of flickering sky-blue flames where Aegis' circle used to be. From the center of these flames, a towering, hunched figure rises from where the ground should be. The demon is deathly thin, draped in a medium blue robe that seems to stretch on endlessly into the blue void below it. The legs, if it has legs, are engulfed in the robe, while from the arm sleeves sprout great reptilian talons, bigger than your heads, twitching erratically. An impossibly long neck ends in a long, furred snout, evoking both a crocodile and some feline creature. Bulbous yellow eyes shine out like lamplights, each moving independently of the other, focused on the two of you individually.

"Hm. I do not recall your faces. Speak your terms, flesh."


''I wish to locate the one called Lysander, and discover his current location. He is a tall biped dragon with white scales and horns that curl like claws'' Aegis spoke loud and clear, glancing to Zunden
''That is correct, isnt it?''



Zunden nods, not speaking as not to possibly upset the moody demon.


"Lysander. Formerly known as Nivius. Son of Janus. I can show you where he is right now. But what will you give me in return?" Ragalaseab's claws seem to grow impossibly huge, splaying out and curling around you both, threatening to ensnare you./ The ring of blue flame flares up threateningly.


Aegis stands her ground, calmly eyeing the demon
''Do you desire more gold?'' she asks simply


"Perhapz zhat queztion rephrazed - do you dezire tribute material, bodily, zervize mozt?"

Zunden speaks up.


"Gold is but the medium for you to enter my domain. I have no use for it. Unless you have something to offer me, we are both wasting our breath."

One eye shifts to focus on you. "We understand each other, it seems. I will do you both a favor. In return, a favor will be asked of you both. Material lucre means nothing to me. It is servitude I require. A bargain you would be familiar with, Zunden."


''I understand, please overlook my ignorance'' She nods ''Although I must intervene I must object on one thing. I request that Zunden is left out of this deal, as I am the one who summoned thee, I am ready to take full responsibilty of your requirements on my own''


Zunden nods,

"Ze zcalez are unbalanzed - you azk for tribute from two, yet reveal one location. I am only a mediator, I have not zummoned you here."


"Hm. If we have nothing to offer each other, then begone with you."

Zunden finds herself ensnared in one of the demon's claws, lifting her off the ground like a child holding a doll. In the demon's slitted pupil, a familiar four pointed symbol of an eye appears, and the Reader slips out of Ragalaseab's dimension.

The next thing you know, you are back in your room. Aegis is sitting in the middle of the circle, seemingly in a trance, while Aurora is sitting upright. "Zunden? Are you alright? I was focusing around the ship and came back to find you both passed out. Is everything okay?"

As Ragalaseab grabs Zunden, she simply vanishes with a puff of sky-blue smoke.

"Now. I will show you the one you seek. But a favor will be owed.

"Far from here is a woman called Cecile Grosvenor. She holds much power. Her path will cross with yours in time, as it has with my own. She has broken a contract made with me, and invokes Severance to elude me yet. When your paths cross, you must be the one to kill her in my name. No easy feat, considering her goals. But this is my price for the knowledge you seek."

His claw shrinks to your size and extends towards you, the robe moving back to reveal a disturbingly long, thin arm, all skin and bone. "Do we have an accord?"


Aegis keeps her gaze on the demon's arm ''These terms are agreeable, but please allow me one last question. What is this Severance she invokes?''


Zunden nods, "We are fine, I believe. Aegiz iz making uze of ze Liber Animarum, and I waz mediating it. Ze demon haz zinze broke me off from zheir connection to finalize a deal with Aegiz."


File: 1564635431485.jpg (61.85 KB, 727x727, Severance.jpg)

"Severance is Severance. The cutting of the strings." With one finger, he traces the same four pointed symbol that shone in his eye just before, leaving midnight blue streaks in the air. With a handwave, he dismisses it as readily as it appeared. "She eludes me by invoking it. Sink a blade into her heart, and send her my regards. She cannot elude my curse forever."

"…Oh," says Aurora, seemingly unsure of what else to say in response to talk of demon summoning. "…Well, let's hope it goes alright."

"I've been getting used to this new… mind state," she brings up. "It's still overwhelming, but I think I can handle it. Controlling the ship is a bit tricky, but at least I can keep it still. How did you do it?"


Zunden grins, feeling weary even thinking of the effort she put in back then, "Knowing it had to be done to protect all of you."

She rubs her gloved hand, "I am zhankful for ze rune Black Pudding haz enzrcribed on ze zhip, at any rate. Unlike my time practizing, yourz zhould be one free of ze Oneiromanzer'z interferenze."


''I cannot ensure the means of death, only that she will be killed, as a mage I traditionally make no use of blades'' Aegis nods
''If that will be all then very well. I will seek out this one called Cecile, and let her know you sent me before I take her life'' Aegis extends a hoof to shake the Demon's hand


It takes her a moment to register, but she smiles and nods.

At the mention of the Oneiromancer, she looks pensive. "How much longer do you think we'll be free of him?" she asks, accidentally summoning and desummoning a Servitor as her mind drifts from focusing on the ship. Your balaur looks spooked, huddling in a corner and glaring out at where the blue apparition was. Aurora doesn't seem to notice. "I mean, even if Black Pudding's invocation holds, we're bound to cross paths with him eventually. Right? I wonder what happened to get him where he is. …Maybe, if we ever get the chance, we could speak to him. The idea of him frightens me, but I can't deny, I'm a bit curious about him as well."


Zunden beckons the balaur to sit in her lap, talking to Aurora while stroking it, "I have zpoken to zhem, on multiple occazionz. I do not find zhir converzationz pleazent. Ztill, zhere iz information I would want to learn from zhem zome day."


"Then we are decided." His fingers seem to lose their bones, turning into tentacles as they wrap around your hoof. The tips sprout "fingers" of their own, branching out and going all the way up your leg and up to your neck, binding you in place. Ragalaseab shifts closer to you, both bulging yellow eyes wandering and spinning wildly before locking with your own.

"Now. Aegis Glaze. Open your eye."


The universe seems to bend and distort, flinging you straight through the demon's form, stretching and warping backwards before hurtling forward, as if shot like a rubber band. You feel like your stomach is about to escape through your throat. Colors and shapes form around you, constantly shifting, coalescing and dissolving. You see stars, planets, celestial bodies. Doors in the emptiness that open and close, sending you through a kaleidoscope through space, time and existence. It is like being on a rollercoaster through a fever dream. A hooded black figure appears for a moment, two grinning mouths where the eyes should be, reaching out towards you for an instant that feels like an eternity, but you plummet past it and towards another door in the void. The colors flare up, intensifying, overwhelming…

You are in a dark wooden room.

Shelves of books line the walls, adorned with trinkets and baubles of varying sizes and shapes. A record player sits near a bedpost, currently unused. Through an open window, you can see you are on a ship of some sort, sailing on a river.

Lysander kneels in the middle of the room, in the middle of a diagram drawn in black on the floor. It depicts a strange symbol, like three circles linked together. His face is tense, like he is in pain. Seemingly involuntarily, his glowing blue, magical prosthetic moves to his chest, pulling away at his clothing. You see a black stain starting to appear on his scales. It would almost look like blood, were it not for being part of his skin, spidering outwards from the starting point over his heart.


All of a sudden, he collapses, his breathing ragged, still clutching at his black stained chest. You find it resembles the blackened right hand of Hermodur, which led to him abandoning the party so long ago. He looks down at it in disbelief, almost fearful of what's transpired. He struggles to pull himself up, and stumbles over to a chest of drawers, producing a large, wickedly sharp knife. From there, he makes his way to the window, throwing it open, his back to you.

You do not see what he does now, but it looks very much like he slashes himself across the chest with the blade. He lets out a soft grunt, but it does not seem to pain him. He throws the blade aside - there is no blood on it - and pulls his coat off, baring his chest to the river.

While you cannot see it from the front, what happens next is beyond belief. A vast flock of grey and white striped birds seem to burst from his chest, taking wing and flying off into the horizon. He lets out a soft sigh of relief, smiling slightly as he watches the birds fly.

All of a sudden, you awaken with a gasp. You are back in the room where you conducted the summoning. Zunden and Aurora are there too, seeming a little startled as you wake up. It takes you a few moments to acknowledge it, but you are drenched in sweat, and breathing heavily. You notice several faint blue lines on your foreleg, where the demon touched you. You feel winded and exhausted, almost out of breath, as if you had just woken up from a terrible nightmare. Aurora moves over to you rather clumsily, offering to help you up. "Are you okay? What happened?"

The balaur hops up with a soft rumbling sound, making itself comfortable quickly and curling up in your lap.

She nods. "It seems to have been a living thing at one point, from what I gather. Maybe there's still some soul left in it, somewhere. Maybe I'm just being hopeful. Starting to sound like Norv, haha."

Aegis awakes with a shudder all of a sudden, interrupting Aurora's train of thought. The balaur, oddly, has little reaction.


Aegis's eyes are wide with surprise, and as she awakes her gaze is distant, fearful,and it takes her a few seconds to regain her usual composure as she looks at Aurora ''Ink…'' She pants out ''Ink and paper, I need it'' She stands up, looking at Zunden
''I saw him Zunden, although the Demon's vision was not completely effective. I can not discern his exact location, all I saw was that he was inside a ship, sailing through a river of some kind''

She sharply turns to Aurora again ''Aurora, please fetch me the map, ink and paper. I saw a rune on the floor of the ship, Lysander was conducting a ritual on it''


"What traitz have made zhem zeem any bit dezerving of zuch? Zhey do not care for ze worldz we live in, ze Echoez or ozherwize. It made itzelf clear in zhat regard when we zpoke."

Zunden helps Aegis back to her hooves, helping walk her back to her room as she places the Balaur on her shoulder. She beckons Aurora to follow, "Are zhey any of ze runez dizplayed on my wall?"

(There is, in fact, a symbol matching the one you've seen, drawn with ink)


''Yes, that one, with the three circles'' Aegis points at the wall ''I do not know what is the meaning of it, but the ritual he performed gave him a mark, black as pitch, identical to the one on Hermodur. I dont know what he hopped to achieve, but what happened after was incredibly strange; He took a knife and stabbed himself, releasing a flock of birds out the window''


Aurora looks startled by your lack of composure. Hastily, she summons a Servitor, which dutifully fetches you ink and paper posthaste.

"A river?" she parrots. "There's only one river anywhere near here, and that's the Broad River." She fumbles to get up and grabs a map. It shows that the Shifting Sands are northwest of the Broad River. "If he is where I think he is, he's probably going to disembark at some point. Probably here." She points out a bend in the river. "Closest point to the Sands. From there I imagine he's going to have some mode of transport to get to the Sands. Either way. This probably means he's got an advantage on us."

"…I don't know," she admits. "I haven't seen what you've seen. I guess part of me hopes there's some good in him. It. But probably not. It seems like another form of existence entirely. I'm out of my element talking about this sort of thing, really. Th-" She is cut off by Aegis waking up.


"Union, ze bringing of two zhingz togezher, phyzically or zhrough promize. Hiz pact wizh ze Oneiromanzer haz conzumed a great deal of hiz body, it zeemz."

She rubs her chin, squinting, "Birdz, zhough?"


''He's closer than I imagined then'' She nods ''That is if we assume that is the river he was in, but I cant imagine why he would be anywhere else''
''Yes. Grey and white birds with stripes, almost like a zebra. Do you have any idea what that means?''


"If he can not view uz zhrough magical meanz, zhen he iz zending dizcrete zcoutz pretending to be wildlife."


''A good assumption. In that case we must make haste to the egg''

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