No.750308[Last 50 Posts]
Last time, on Anno Castra…
Our explorers unwound their minds for a bit, after Tay and their assistants helped to ameliorate their physical wounds from fighting the Shadedrinker. Qhapaq and Good Intentions had a wrestling match in the rec room, much to the amusement of a group of watching Aya. Good ended up being the surprise underdog victor, which threw the Family into such an ecstasy that they nearly carried him down to the bar, on B3F of the bunker. Qhapaq rescued him before he could break any of Ironcastle's strict laws about underaged drinking.
Zamrud met two of the Aya who had come to their aid during the first bout against the Shadedrinker: A female Zawatil by the name of Ch'utiy, and a male Puros by the name of Utqay. Both were quite eager to get back out on the hunt, but were patient enough to talk awhile with Zamrud to get to know him better. During their conversation, the pair mentioned that Godspeed lingered behind to speak to Tay about something secret, yet obvious.
As the crowd of celebrating Aya filter out from the Commons area toward the Bar, many Aya join them, having little idea or care of what just happened but knowing better than to pass up a party in development. As the Commons area clears up a bit, Billy, having spent some time relaxing on one of the couches, notices Zamrud, Qhapaq and Good grouping up with two Aya he does not recognize.
Ch'utiy and Utqay patiently await their introduction, and nod to Qhapaq in greeting, not knowing him by name but still recognizing him, through the Familial Bond – the sense by which all Mutants of a Clan supernaturally recognize their fellows.
La Senorita, Godspeed and Grutar are all still absent, for the moment.
>To Qhapaq and Good
"Yes, yes, I'm aware of what wrestling is, Qhapaq. But, I wasn't anticipating it here. More over, with all due respect, I wasn't expecting Good to pull off a victory. You're quite a bit larger than than the young Lord.">>750311
As Zamrud meets with Qhapaq and Good, he waves over Ch'utiy and Utqay, "Well, while you two were busy becoming famous around the bunker, I took the time to meet my rescuers. They do indeed have an interest in coming with us after the Shadedrinker, if you'd care to meet them."
After getting a relaxing sauna break,Grutar gathers his belongings again and heads off to meet up with the others, feeling very refreshed now.
"Mmm- the crowd likes an underdog, which definitely helps." the griffon says, before shrugging. "Wrestling is very common amongst the Aya- I never really asked if you would like to participate, since it didn't seem to be your thing.">>750311>>750314
Qhapaq nods his head a little, and offers a wave to the two fellow mutants. "Greetings, kin. Thank you for helping save my friend, Zamrud."
Zamrud shakes his head, "And, you would be right… I've done my fair share of wrestling with the young princes and even a few siblings, I must admit I find it not to be my cup of brew."
He looks both ways, then leans in to whisper, "You went easy on Good, didn't you?"
Billy waves as he comes over curious on the going ons of his group. "How is everyone?"
Good was still very much sore and exhausted but he also felt the slightest bit chuffed at Zam's surprise at the situation.
Qhapaq doesn't say anything for now, giving him a pat on his shoulder. "I see. Wrestling is a common passtime here- you have ones that focus a little more on strength, and others that focus more on technique.">>750324
"Hello, Billy. We're doing well, I think."
Billy tilts his head a bit. "that is good to hear."
Utqay holds out his fist to Qhapaq for a bump. "I suppose you can translate for these ones,"
he says in the Aya tongue, gesturing to himself and Ch'utiy.
As Grutar comes over, fresh from the sauna, Ch'utiy pulls her mask fully aside, and watches his every step with interest.
Utqay looks back to you. "Once you and yours are done purging battle-stress from your minds, we've a quarry to catch. Blood, do they have any light weaponry?"
"Quite well, thank you Billy. I hope you're recovering nicely as well: you took as bad a hit as anyone during our encounter. How are you?">>750326>>750327
"Well, perhaps I'll catch the next match, but I think I'll do alright just as a spectator. Doubt I'd have anything to offer your adoring audience would like to see.">>750315>>750326>>750327>>750324>>750329
As they interact with Qhapaq, Zamrud motions towards the two other Aya, one a male Puros much like himself and the other a female Zawatil. "These two are Ch'utiy and Utqay, the ones who ferried me away from the battle earlier after I was hit by the explosion. Ch'utiy, Utqaq, these are Grutar, Good Intentions, Billy, and as you might recognize as your own 'blood', Qhapaq."
"I am pretty alive thankfully to everyone's work. Probably wouldn't know when to step back when everyone else had." Billy frowns at the thought of his actions.
Good bowed his head to them quietly, leaning on Qhapaq for now as he worked off the adrenaline and exhaustion. Honestly he might hit the saunas himself soon.
"Mmm. They know little of the Aya tongue, for the most part." the griffon says, before shaking his head. "They don't, no- none of us do. I've always relied upon my talons, and most of these haven't fought such creatures before.">>750332>>750333>>750336
"They do have a good point- it might be good for us to acquire some light weaponry- for some of us, at least."
"One must be mindful of ones' own limitations. Tragically I didn't realize mine until an explosive mine nearly already took my arm.">>750339>>750336
"Some heavier weaponry, more like: the Shadedrinker is injured but if there was any heat-based weapons the Aya have to barter with, we'd be better off with it. We could also use something to detect those mines: those are by far going to give us the most trouble. I am told they give off a similar heat-signature - which is to say, almost none - as the mist itself, which will make them a challenge to find."
"Ah- that is the kind of weaponry I meant, Zamrud. 'Light' weaponry, as in the kind they were using."
Grutar gives a salute to the two Aya. "Thanks for savin' my pal back there! Anyone who does that is a good friend in my eyes, nice to meet you two!" he says before offering his paw for a shake.
Utqay and Ch'utiy impart a brief greeting to each member of the party as they're introduced, but their attention seems more to be on their quarry – the Shadedrinker for Utqay, and… well, someone else, for Ut'qay, who glances sidelong now and then at Grutar. "It will cost you, but these ones can furnish you with light weaponry. Should you be willing to trust this one with your current weapons, this one can modify them. So long as they are some manner of metal, they can be made into a light weapon. Though, be warned: They won't be as effective against those who do not walk in the dark."
Qhapaq and Zamrud recall at this point that the Aya have no specific, all-encompassing word for the Dreaded Ones. As the Aya spend their lives entirely outside the Castles, they have little reason to distinguish them categorically from the "natural creatures" that reside in the Outlands, as the security forces of Ironcastle distinguished Trajan, and thus allowed him entry with Good. "Dreaded Ones" is thus a loanword from Equish.
Utqay shakes your hand. "Thank Tay, for without the sacred lots, these ones would not have known of your plight."
Ch'utiy holds onto your hand for a bit longer than one might expect. "And where is this one from, that he is not one of our Blood?"
she asks, gesturing to your drill arm.
"What does it cost for some weaponry usually?" Billy decides to speak up feeling curious.
"We rarely find ourselves fighting anything than Dreaded Ones anyhow. We'll be able to acquire more conventional weapons if we must, but for now something with more effect would be welcome. Would Schillings be accepted, or would we need to barter other weapons and equipment?"
"Mmm. Light weaponry would be appreciated- I am sure I have some talon covers, or something similar, that could be modified."
"I do have a Falx that could be modified but I generally prefer to fight from range, unless you can apply it to my shoulder gun too."
>>750358>>750349>>750351>>750348"Your Castle's currency shall be acceptable, but we'll have to take it at a… what's the term? Oh – a markup,"
Utqay says with a shrug. "We've few opportunities to trade out here, so your currency holds little value outside of your high walls. Of course, should you have anything worth trading, we can count that value against the price of your light weapons."
As you speak, Utqay gets up, gestures for you to follow him, and heads to the northeast corridor, which you took on your way to Tay's infirmary. As you pass by, you see Tay and Godspeed, sitting upon one of the infirmary's counters, discussing something in low voices with Tay's assistants. Godspeed, for the first time since you've met her, looks relaxed, and even allows herself a few stiff chuckles – each "Huh" being separately, deliberately pronounced, as if she's out of practice with laughing.
Eventually, you reach another doorway, which Utqay opens with a touch. Beyond it lies a spacious terminal lab, with many clusters of computers arrayed in small islands of desks, furnished with torn leather rolling chairs and a soft carpet."Sit anywhere you like, most of those terminals, we've restored,"
Utqay says, heading further back in the lab. You see him and Ch'utiy heading toward a cluster of desks, where heaps of scrap metal, toolboxes, and rows of strange tools are propped up.
>>750348"It varies depending on the weapon's size and quality,"
Ch'utiy explains. "Higher-quality weapons are easier to imbue, so we'll charge less for those. Typically, it's not far off from the weapon's original price. Show me what you want to imbue, and I'll give you an estimate."
Good paused and set his gun on the table after disconnecting it "How much? he asked read to just head back to the saunas so he could relax.
"I don't have much on me that I can imbue, but may I ask for another service?" Billy takes out his weird books that hold ancient language and diagrams of gems in it. "Would you be able to translate the language or help me understand the purpose of this text?"
Weird Book:You also get your book appraised. It seems that the contents are of an old grimoire from the Old World. Your appraiser can't get much out of it, for it is written in a language too ancient to comprehend, perhaps even at the time it was written (for many such texts often were, they say). However, the plethora of gemstone pictures and diagrams suggests it may be a work of earth or even of gemstone magic. He suggests to keep it with you, and to expose it to magic sources you may come across, as this may activate the latent magic stored and dormant within.
Zamrud nods in approval. "Completely understandable," he says in reply to the mark-up. "I can understand how it would be worth less out here. As to more valuable objects to trade, I'm afraid we're in short supply. Is there anything in particular you would find valuable? Historical artifacts, information?"
As they pass by Godspeed, he takes note of her more relaxed expression and even her laughter, and smiles at her in approval, enjoying to see the zebra open up a little as they follow Utqay to the terminal lab. He sits nearby, looking around the terminals. "Your armory is somewhere in here?" He asks as he looks for where the weapons might be.
"A markup is acceptable, yes." the griffon remarks, taking a seat and pulling out his claw-gauntlets . "This is, for the most part, all I use. Should I fight something not susceptible to such weaponry, I can always remove them."
"Oh! I'm from Zinccastle, great place with lots o' great dogs like me!" He boasts with a guffaw.>>750359
Grutar looks around for the most comfiest seat to find so he can sit down and relax again.
Ch'utiy begins. "Er… well, this one already looks to be a lightgun, though of a different make and model than what these ones would produce. But there's always work these ones can do. Another power source and barrel attachment could provide you with a secondary fire. Or, this one can offer you a barrel converter, for stronger burst fire at the cost of longer recharging.">>750364>>750365
Utqay double-takes at the grimoire. "Hrm… hold onto this for but one moment. It reminds this one of something that Tay was showing off not long ago."
Utqay quickly leaves, heading back to the infirmary. Soon after, he comes back, with Tay and Godspeed in tow. Godspeed is back to her usual stoic self. Utqay brings Tay up to speed about Billy's question, while they look over the grimoire.
Tay turns to Billy with a smile. "Hey, hey. I don't make any promises, but this looks a lot like something I found in the computer archives recently… I might be able to slap together a sort of translation key for this gibberish. If you let me make copies of the text, I won't charge you anything for the key. Do we got a deal?">>750365"Good quality metal, gemstones, and anything electronic,"
Ch'utiy says. "But you'd be surprised what use these ones can get out of what you Castle folk consider trash. Show it, and this one will appraise its worth."
As to your other question – "The armory is near the security room up front. This is our makeshift workshop. We're mostly scrounging off of broken terminals here.">>750367
Utqay looks over your claw-gauntlets. "As our Blood, I can cut you something of a discount. It will run you 300 Schillings to make these into lightclaws.">>750368"Well, don't just leave me waiting to hear more,"
Ch'utiy says. "This one has never met anyone from Zinccastle.">>750362>>750364>>750365>>750367>>750368"If you don't have anything to upgrade, or want something new altogether, you can find a catalogue on our network,"
Utqay says, gesturing to the operational terminals. "Just open the default browser, and it shall retrieve it."
"The secondary sounds fine." he said after a moment. He liked having two options instead of one.
Billy gives a nod."That does sound good if you have the answer."
"Metal, gemstones, and electronic… well, we found a Helping Hoof out there, but personally I think we're all rather attached to her. I'm afraid the most valuable thing I've found on our way up here was an impeccable recipe using snails and mushrooms, if that has any appeal. Regardless, I'll keep a look out for gemstones and metals once we return outside to bring back. In the meanwhile, I'll simply use coin."
Zamrud draws out his single Sachsum knife, "I typically use explosive compounds in combat along with this knife. Could the knife itself be upgraded? If not, I would happily take some sort of fire-arm. I'm not keen on getting close to this thing in the first place."
"Oh you should see the minin' pits there, great bunch. Me n' the boys back home used to find critters in the deep places to race one another, or find different mushrooms that didn't poison us or make us hallucinate to put into our hard drinks too. The kind around there really brought out the flavors in our brews at home! Used to be a part of a team that explored the most deepest darkest places too, so there's some scary parts of it too." He says, going on and on about more of his escapades, mostly before he became a mutant.
When given the chance, Grutar would look over a catalogue to pass time while he chats as well.
"Mmm. Still a decent sum, but I rarely want for much. I will take it. Thank you, blood."
>>750370"Then that will run you about 350 Schillings,"
>roll barter if you desire a lower price>>750371
"Well, I might, and I might not," Tay answers. They take the grimoire over to a terminal with a copy machine nearby. Taking care not to harm the ancient pages, they start to leaf through, and begin making copies of key pages. "I'm going to be awhile here, but I'll come get you once we're done.">>750372
Ch'utiy gives it some thought. "…This one will need to hear some taste-tester review of this recipe before this one accepts it."
She looks down at the dagger. "That'll be 100 Schillings for the knife. Most firearms will be anywhere between 400 and 1500… but this one makes no guarantees that the cheaper models won't burst in your hands after a few bad shots.>>750373>>750374
Ch'utiy nods along with Grutar's stories. "Sounds like many of this one's ventures spelunking in ruins, bunkers, and the like – remnants of what this one is told you Castle folk call the Old World. I'd hoped to find pictures of what it looked like, but the oldest files we've come across are records of Castle folk explorations, dating hundreds of years back, according to your calendars, anyway."
She takes Qhapaq's gauntlets over to the workbench, and begins to work on them as she chats with Grutar.
"350? that seems quite high, you yourself indicated that you were more suited to high tech things."
[1d10] BarterRoll #1 4 = 4
"You should see the stuff that ended up underneath the surface. Some of our big brain fellas think that some dreaded ones had shifted the ground around the place, some of the other dogs think it's stuff the first settlers took shelter… but me n' the boys? We found somethin' that blew our minds!" he says, accentuating by lifting his drill arm up a bit more to show off.
"It was like an entire castle full of dreaded ones, we woulda left it if it wasn't for the glow one room had that fended those fiends off."
Zamrud offers a chuckle, "Well, you can look to my friends for their reviews if you like. But I was kidding about offering the recipe as a trade. Fine cuisine is the right of everyone, in my opinion, I could never sell it and sleep soundly."
"100 Schillings for the knife is a fine deal, I'll take that. I don't have more than 1000 to spare though, so I'll have to opt for a cheaper model in the 400 range… out of curiosity, do you offers rentals? Could I acquire a high-grade weapon with the intent to return?"
"Not a bad idea, all things considered- any edge in the upcoming fight you think you need would be wise to take."
Billy smiles. "Well I do have time." Billy looks over to his group as they work on their own weapons.
"For what it is worth, blood, he is trustworthy- he has stood by me before, and we have worked together for some time."
[1d10] Rolling persuasion on rentals
Roll #1 6 = 6
Ch'utiy nods, her attention held firm as your story reaches its apex.>>750382>>750381>>750380>>750378>>750379"A rental?"
Ch'utiy repeats, eyes narrowing. "…You do have the word of our Blood. Not something many of you Castle folk can boast. But– these ones have worked hard to recover and restore these weapons. They can't just be handed out for battles from which they might not come back. The highest this one can give you for a rental gun is 900 Schillings' worth. Do you accept?">>750376"As this one said, your coins don't hold much value out here,"
Utqay says, holding firm to the price. "This is a better deal than what others would give you. Unless you've something to trade in, this one cannot drop the price any lower."
Zamrud puts a paw on Qhapaq's shoulder. "I appreciate the vote of confidence, Qha."
He turns to look at Ch'utiy, and shakes his head. "I cannot, it's too much for me. I understand these high-grade weapons must be handled with care, so I understand perfectly. Thank you for considering it, but I will manage with 100 for the knife, and 400 for whatever sort of long-range, fire-based weaponry that might provide."
Billy looks forward and finding the prices being quite high for the gun itself. Though he figures to himself it might be because he hasn't handled a gun.
"So we go diggin' through to reach the room through a much safer route… but! We had run into a bit o' trouble along the way and had to hide out in that glowin' room. Turns out the place had a big fiery lookin' gem, I figured why not go grab it and bring it back to our castle." Grutar says, before rubbing his drill arm with his good hand.
"That's how I got THIS baby!" Grutar says with a wide grin and a pat. "Burned like nothing I've ever felt before, but when it was all done I got meself the best workin' tool! It just burns real hot if I spin it up too much. If you wanna learn anythin' from this, use gloves!" Grutar finishes with a hearty laugh.
He sighed and retrieved the pouch with his shillings and quickly handed the necessary amount, grumbling as it cost far less to have the thing made into a gun for his suit in the first place.
If that's all, I shall head back to the sauna, I need to let my bruises heal a bit and I feel a nice steam will help that."
Qhapaq smiles a little, and softly pats the Puros's head. "Of course. You have stood by me for worse. It would be a dishonor to not do the same for you."
>>750383>>750384>Sorry, misunderstood the deal. Please replace with
"A 900 schilling weapon should more than suffice for what we have in mind. How much would you be willing to rent it for? Ideally, I would return it as soon as we've dealt with the Shadedrinker, if it hasn't taken off too far hopefully only a day or so."
>>750386"Heh! If only you Castle folk weren't so reclusive, that all sounds like this one's idea of time well spent,"
Utqay nods. "This one shall inform you once the attachment's all done. Set your mind at ease, for we shall have much to bestir us on the hunt.">>750389>>750388>>750385Cycle*"200, or, if you can put up collateral worth that much, this one can accept that as well."
As you mention your desired properties for the rental gun, Utqay begins to look about, and eventually scrounges up a long rifle, a bit on the older side, but with dot sights, and a red crystal where one would normally load ammunition. "There is a practice range in the back of the security station,"
Utqay adds. "You may take it there for practice before we hunt."
Good nodded and thanked him before starting off slowly, making his way back and watching around him curiously. He did want to find out some more about the culture of the Aya.
Billy lightly pats himself thinking of his own lack of a weapon. Though feels fine with the strength in his own body at the moment if allowed to keep close to his enemy.
[1d10] Observation of theses fascinating creatures.Roll #1 3 = 3
"200 is well within my price-range, you have a deal. An additional 100 for the knife, as well. Thank you again for accommodating this, you have my word I'll pay in full if it should come back in anything less than working condition."
As he shows him the rental gun, Zamrud picks it up, feeling the weight as he tests aiming down the sights, demonstrating trigger discipline as he carefully handles it. "A practice range would be a good idea, been a bit since I fired a rifle. I notice the crystal in place of a standard magazine, magic?"
"I would not be certain myself- it would be a very smart idea to first practice though, yes."
"Aye, But it put me outta commission for a bit so it was not worth it at the moment. But now it's helped me enough that workin' again with it ain't so bad."
Without knowing much of their language, it's hard to glean insights about their culture at a glance. From what you've seen, they're a physical people. Even outside the wrasslin' matches, there's much touching, hugging, pushing, and poking about, and a small bubble of personal space. The shoves and horseplay, even the more rough end of it, elicit no negative reaction among the Aya, even from the old or the young, who all take it in stride.
You eventually reach the saunas, but there's a problem…
The male and female saunas aren't distinguished by any symbols, but rather, Old World words. Words you can't read.>>750392>>750395>>750394
Utqay nods. "You won't have to worry about reloading, but there's about a three-second period of recharging between shots. Stay afar from your foe if you hope to use this effectively at all.""You're clearly experienced,"
Ch'utiy adds. "But should you still have money to burn, some of our other Blood who hang out at the range may be willing to teach you a greater mastery.">>750396
Ch'utiy nods. "Of course. It's always worse for those not born with a piece of Might, who gain it by travail, or by discovering a curse from the Old World… say, if you've more stories, this one would listen to many more. Perhaps when we drink to our victory soon."
"Oh I've got LOTS of stories! Once you've gotten a drink in me belly and a ear to yap to, there's almost no stop to my stories!"
"Three seconds between shots… similar to an old bolt-action rifle. I can adapt, and I assume it packs an appropriate punch for what it lacks in rate of fire."
As he suggests taking lessons at the range, Zamrud ponders this as he slings the rifle over his shoulder, "I have training with a gun, but there is always room for improvement. Especially seeing as how I've never fired one with this unique sort of ammo, I'll take what help I can get. I'll head over and get some training in right away, so as not to delay your hunt."
It didn't really occur to him about that as he had removed his suit and set it into a small cubby where he saw others put there things and he headed into whatever door was closest without thinking.
"Against the proper targets it does, I imagine. I have never used such weapons myself before, actually. I do not believe my village had access to such things as that."
Billy takes a seat nearby. Curious about the stories he might tell.
As you walk, Ch'utiy and Utqay lead you out of the workshop, toward the bunker's circular front door. In a hall perpendicular to the hall connecting to the front door, there is an automatic door. Beyond it, a security station, staffed by the largest and most imposing of the Mutants, ponies, donkeys and griffons of significant stature, wearing the full set of eclectic Aya armor, and their masks fully worn. Rows of monitors line the walls, each one displaying camera footage from outside, or from the public areas of the bunker itself.
You enter another door from there, which leads to a long target-shooting range, with many stations separated by reinforced glass. Each station has a panel of buttons for queuing up holographic targets, controls for the distance and mobility of the targets, and buttons to request urgent or non-urgent assistance from instructors. "Pick whichever station you want and get started,"
Utqay says to Zamrud. And if any of you want to try your hand, we can have some practice arms wheeled over.">>750400
[1d100]Roll #1 64 = 64
As you enter the sauna, bare except for your towel, you pick a room and enter it – finding behind it a collection of female mutants talking and chittering about something in the Aya tongue. It continues for a moment after you enter, until one Mutant does a double-take, apparently realizing that you're not a coltish-looking mare as she may have first assumed.
Silence grips the room.
Then you are tossed backwards as a wave of telekinesis slams the door shut, expelling you back into the hall connecting the sauna rooms together.
Good yelped as he hadn't even opened his eyes and he was suddenly flung out, rubbing his head "My that was… rude and painful." he said as he had tumbled a bit and was now debating staying here any longer.
"I'm more used to the stuff that lights up a big fire, dreaded ones hate the stuff. I'll watch you fellows practice your shootin'. OH! That reminds me of one of the boys back home! Uses big firearms even though it knocked him on his ass every time. One time he flung himself back into a big pool of snotty goo once, couldn't clean the stuff out of his fur for weeks!"
Zamrud, now toting his new crystal-rifle, keeps it pointed-up on all times while on the range as he nods to Utqay, looking around for proper ear and eye protection to use while preparing to practice his rented gun. "Right, thank you once again Utqay. I'm interested to see what sort of kick this weapon has."
He looks for an open lane, preparing to set up holographic targets to test firing on before asking for pointers of any of the vets, focusing on his recovering eyes to help him line up his shot.
Qhapaq's expression stays neutral- perhaps a little surprised- as he watches Good Intentions walk into, and get chucked out of the mare's side of the sauna. He lets out a mildly amused snort, before helping the stallion up on to his hooves. "Look before you leap, Good.">>750517
"I do not know if I need much training with talon guards- I do not think they are too different than they were from before, yes?"
"I am not that sure on how to handle a firearm that well besides from how I think they should work. Would you mind helping me out here?" Billy request of grutar.
You hear the discussion intensify inside – there's only one thing they could possibly be talking about now, all things considered.>>750523"You may be surprised at your new reach with them activated,"
Ch'utiy says. "I'll get back and continue to work on them, but while you're here, head over next door and try out the boxing room. There's a pair there that will be pretty similar to what I'm making. You can borrow those to practice.">>750521>>750522>>750523>>750524
Ch'utiy continues to listen as Qhapaq translates Grutar's rambles; meanwhile, Utqay comes back with some sets of goggles, but no ear protection at all. After passing out the goggles, he examines Zamrud's posture and stance, reaching up to offer some minor adjustments to help him properly secure his form.
Soon, three stationary holographic images of Dreaded Ones manifest: lanky black quadrupeds with pointed, pimple-like heads and lolling tongues that extend nearly to the ground. "Bloodhounds," as they are called in the vernacular. "Fire when ready,"
Utqay says, stepping back to let Zamrud shoot.
>Zamrud has obtained Scarlet Lightrifle>Weapon; Ranged; Masterwork; Elementalist: Fire and Light; Recharge 1; Crits on 9+
"Just imagine it's the shade drinker and you're gettin' some payback to it!" Grutar cheers on Zamrud as he watches.
"They didn't need to throw me out. They could have just asked nicely. No concept of manners." he muttered, feeling justifiably nettled by this.
"Mmm, that is quite the sudden moment to have a stallion appear. A tad harsh, but understandable.">>750525
"Hmm… I suppose it is worth inspecting, then. I would not like mis-estimating my reach, I think.">Take a chance to try the test pair!
Billy attempts to watch his compatriots in how they handle their own weapons in case he may wield one himself.
Zamrud turns over his shoulder as he keeps his barrel down-range, chuckling at Grutar's comment. "My thoughts exactly. Thought that might make for some excellent motivation">>750525
Zamrud stands still but maleable as Utqay moves in to correct his posture, taking note of how he should be standing while holding the rifle. As he lacks the ear-protecting, he flattens his ears as hard as the soft, feline folds will go down, and moves up to the firing range, watching the holographic Dreaded Ones pop up before his very eyes. He lowers his eyes down on the sight, taking steady aim as he prepares to fire the rifle for the first time after disengaging the safeties.
[1d10+1] He takes a shot down the rangeRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Good huffed in annoyance "All I did was walk in, I hadn't even opened my eyes." he added with a huff as stepped away now. The blush was for other obvious reasons.
You head over to the next room, connected to both the shooting range and the monitor room by hallways, and find a well-furnished room for boxing, something of a miniature gym exclusively for those Mutants who run the security station. Given nobody's in here at the moment, it's doubtful they'll mind.
In a locker nearby, you find several sets of boxing equipment, and a collection of hand-based weaponry: reinforced gloves, spiked gauntlets, punch daggers, and so on. Among them you find a set of gauntlets with slots upon the knuckles, through which you can barely see sprawling aetherios circuitry, indicating they're light-based.
At the base of the boxing ring, you find a control panel much like that in the range. Projectors, lined with protective foam padding, circle around the ring's boundary, and seem to provide the necessary holograms.>>750526>>750527>>750529>>750530
As Zamrud fires, the shot grazes the leftmost Bloodhound hologram, and it flickers away. What's most striking, and that you don't even notice until it's over, is how quiet the gun is. Even with Zamrud's cheek braced against the stock, he could hardly hear it – the rest of you even less so. It doesn't feel as powerful as the Castle's Hardlight and conventional kinetic weaponry, but this lightrifle is nearly silent.
Ch'utiy heads back to continue working on Qhapaq's gauntlets, and with Qhapaq in the boxing room, Utqay is left without his translator. He goes ahead and wheels out a small collection of practice lightguns of various sizes for the rest of you to try out if you wish.
Good gsve a small sigh and headed back to redress. He lost the urge to relax any more and he just wanted to fiddle with his comp until his gun was done.
"huh, that was a pretty good shot there Zamrud." Billy nods at the effects and accuracy of the shot.
"Real quiet one that is, might be real useful distractin' a few dreads. You folks have anythin' that makes a big bright light? Like my trusty flamer."
Qhapaq gently pats the young lord's head, before stepping away to give the light-based knuckles a shot. He'll inspect the control panel, and try to get some of the holograms up and running.
The control panel's screen prompts you to pick between Souled targets, or Dreaded Ones.
Zamrud's ears twitch as he notices the odd silence of the gun, making a noise sounding like purr mixed with a snarl as he only manages to graze the target. He looks at the gun after firing the first round, looking at it with intrigue. "Incredibly subdued. Is this some kind of suppressor on the end of the rifle, you could fire this from a 100 yards away and no one would even know you fired the shot. The weapon of an assassin, if I might be dramatic about it."
He tries taking another shot at the hologram, giving the crystal the necessary time to charge as he tries to line up another shot. "I think I like it."
[1d10+1] Shot 2Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
The rifle has no silencer nor suppressor, but you notice that, upon the range's far well, there's barely a smudge of a burn mark. The silence must be a product of the weapon not firing an actual projectile besides a thin bolt of elemental, magical light and fire. A tradeoff in power for stealth – though it's still ultimately a weapon that goes against your combat training in the Castle, which prioritized avoiding any battle that wasn't necessary, and thus eschewed almost all long-ranged combat.>>750539
You dome the second holographic Bloodhound, and graze the third in the process, eliminating your targets. >>750535>>750534>>750533
With Qhapaq gone, Utqay can't exactly communicate with you, as he does not speak Equish. You'll have to hit up Tay or try to find someone else who can speak Equish. He nods and heads back to the workshop to continue preparing your weapons, leaving the practice guns there.>>750533
You get suited up once more, and when you go sit down to idle away time until the completion of your weapon, you find that you have a message in your Concord inbox. It's an invitation, from Godspeed, to play one of the standard-issue multiplayer magicomp games – a card game of old.>>750538
Out from the projectors manifests a tall and lumpy monstrosity, the color of mouldering flesh, all soft and malleable with a texture like clay, and a head something like a pair of conjoined, wringing hands, wrinkly and lumpy. It is, as the Castle folk call it, an image of a Hinderer, a bipedal Dreaded One noted for its use of grapples and grabs, and its capacity for a frightening degree of intelligence and tactics.
Good tilted his head and pondered on it. His dad had taught him some games so this could be fun. He accepted and waited to see what exactly he had to do.
Billy walks up closer to Good. "How are you doing yourself?" Billy tilts his head looking at him.
Grutar always has fun being expressive in how he talks and moves, like even if nobody understands him he's playing one big game of charades. He waits patiently as he strokes his beard with his good paw.
"Sore and annoyed at the locals now but otherwise I'm good."
Qhapaq wiggles his gloved talons a little, annoyed at the lack of covering for his spare claws, before trying to activate the Atherios Tech. after he manages it, he'll take a swing at the Hunderer hologram.>Attack: [1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
"Thank you Billy, though that first shot clearly could have used a bit of work. All the same, I think I'm going to get along well with this weapon.">>750540
Zamrud takes note of the guns' unusual features, particularly the logistics behind its silent nature, and as his shot manages to snipe not only the first target he sets his eyes upon, but the second as well behind it, Zamrud grins, patting the side of the gun affectionately.
"Marvelous. If I only had the schillings to buy you properly…" he muses, before pressing a few buttons on the side of his firing platform, re-engaging some targets to take more test shots at as he tries his basic Aya tongue to Utqay
["Out of curiosity: assuming I wanted to fire a louder, stronger shot, is it possible to over-charge the crystal?"]
[1d10+2] Shot 3 for testingRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
It brings up a trading card game, Sorcerer's Mass, that's quite popular across age demographics in the Castles. It brings you and Godspeed into a room, and prompts you to load or build a deck. An indicator on the screen indicates that Godspeed – who uses the default Concord icon – is building her deck at the moment. Various help options are available at the side of the screen – beginner guides, sample decks, last year's tournament decklists, banlists, and so forth. In the chatbox, Godspeed has posted her signature 100 emoji.>>750546>>750543"You'd need some modifications,"
Utqay says, keeping his language limited to the simple words you used before. "That's just the base-level model she gave you, but that platform is good for custom stuff. Gets expensive quick, though.">>750545
From the knuckles of the light-gauntlets, there extend a set of talons made of light. They are longer than yours, and with your willpower, you can make them manifest, or shorten, at will. You note that they leave your actual talons free to do with as you please, opening many options for quick attacks.>Leather Lightclaws>Weapon; Melee; Can make a normal attack as an instant action; Masterwork
The holographic Hinderer staggers back as your claws sink into it, and you feel a slight resistance as your attack makes contact, though not to the degree that real flesh and bone do. (You recall seeing options for the hologram's durability, solidity and power in the control panel.)
The Hinderer catches its footing, and retaliates, swinging at you with loose, floppy arms that are riddled with the canyons and valleys left behind by hands pressing into smooth clay.
You graze one target which disappears soon after.Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5
Billy decides to pick up a deck and look at the illustrations on the cards rather than the effects or the guides themselves.
Good gave a response of a smiling pony and went to work as he picked big and scary looking creatures and things associated with making them work.>>750549
He smiled at Billy and watched him for a moment before returning to his work.
["Right"] Zamrud replies, ["I could see how it could get expensive. Gun itself, very good."] he says in basic Aya. ["Mods, even more valuable"]
["Any more tips for how to aim? I feel I'm getting the hang of it, but you may be more familiar with this weapon. Could share them with the others too, if I learn tricks."]
[1d10+2] Test shotRoll #1 7 + 2 = 9
Qhapaq hums a little bit and tries adjusting them to be a little longer, before striking again. He'll try a quick stab, and then a grab with his actual talons!>Instant Attack: [1d10+1]>Grapple: [1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
Grutar continues either waiting for him to be pointed to a weapon to try out or until something catches his eye that he goes over to check it out himself.
Godspeed finishes putting together her deck, and the match begins. Her deck seems to be an aggressive one, as you can see she's summoning a slew of weaker monsters in quick fashion, while building comparatively few resources for her to tap into later.Best 2 out of 3, your dice vs. hersYes this is going to syncretize like 2-3 TCGs not even sorry
[1d10+1] Godspeed's turn>>750552
You and the holographic Hinderer trade and parry one another's strikes in a volley of slaps, jabs and stabs, until you lengthen the claws and hook them about its torso, quite literally grabbing an opportunity for yourself. As you pick it up, it raises both its arms, and slams them down into your trapeziuses as hard as it can!
[1d10+3]>>750551>>750553"Tell you what,"
Utqay says as you nail another hologram. "It will delay the hunt, but I can spend the next few hours teaching you all some skill in guns. Then we'll rest, and hunt when we wake. What say you?"
>You can spend the rest of the Cycle here training your skill in Guns for a permanent +1 to the use of firearms… but the hunt for the Shadedrinker will be delayed until you wake up, risking it a chance to heal.
>early pause due to exhaustionRoll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8
"Bah!! I don't see a reason for it! I'm rested and relaxed, that thing out there probably isn't! I'm not sure about the others, but I'm already good to go finish that thing off!" Grutar exclaims while shaking around his drill arm like an angry old dog.
Good tried his best to counter with what little skill he had in these games.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Your deck proves suitable for countering her rushdown strategies, and you wipe out her board just before she can press on to attack. After that setback, she spends a long time without making another move, and you watch as the clock runs down in the game's turn timer. Periodically, the chatbox will indicate she's typing, only for the ellipses to vanish. She seems to be deep in thought…
But at last, she manages to bring together a few more monsters through a complex series of discards, graveyard plays and resource-gathering. It seems costly – perhaps she's over-extending? This may be your chance to overwhelm her.
[1d10+1] her rollRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
Good continued to try and build up a large wall of monsters to put the pressure on.
[1d10] Time to DuelRoll #1 2 = 2
You manage to summon a few monsters to your side, but the cards you've drawn are more suitable for extending combos, not beginning them – there's not much you can do right now…
Godspeed, in a strange play, gathers a few land cards, but doesn't press the attack… she passes her turn without doing much of anything.
>counting this one as a tie
[1d10] What could she be thinking?Roll #1 5 = 5
Good decided to try one of his own rushes to try and end it.
[1d10] Cmon Heart of the CardsRoll #1 1 = 1
She spares you no mercy, activating a trap to wipe your board before your attack can even touch her monsters. She chains another card, clearing your resources to ensure no comeback is possible. She draws her prize cards for defeating your monsters.
When at last her turn comes back around, she attacks, and it turns out that her prize card from last round offers her another battle phase. With it, even her handful of weak monsters is enough to drain your summoner's health and mana to 0.
She drops a simple "gg" in the chat.
Good sighed but gave a proper "Good Game" as he had been quite bested by her.
He paused and just closed the chat window as he would rather not have this brought back up already.
Qhapaq grunts a little bit and tries to bear the hits as well as he can, lengthening the lightclaws into the hologram's side before hurling it across the room!>Instant Attack: [1d10+1]>Mighty Throw (Aiming at whatever training dummy is nearby): [1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
Before you can toss your foe across the room, twin spikes of hair- and feather-raising electricity flood down into your chest through your shoulders. You drop the hardlight projection, and fall to the ground with a horrid cramp seizing up your neck.
>Qhapaq "Helpless," no H/W lost due to safety measures built into the hologram system
The triumphant Hinderer picks you up to toss you out of the arena.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Qhapaq growls a little bit from the sudden jolt of electricity, dropping the projection and slumping over. He tries to shake off the cramps and get back to all fours before he can be thrown himself!>Recovery: [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
The animation bugs out and hangs for a moment, hardlight projectors whirring and buzzing as the hologram, at its current level of power, fails to lift an object as heavy as you out of the ring. Instead, it just sort of rolls you out, shoving you a few times to squeeze you under the ropes until you finally plop onto the floor.
The projection vanishes briefly, then reappears at its corner, T-posing for an instant before going back to its usual idle animation.
Qhapaq huffs a little as he's thrown out- or, rather, rolled out- of the arena by the hologram. He gives the T-Posing figure a curious look before hopping back up and stepping inside the ring. "One more round, I think."
Onmce the program has re-readied, the griffon goes for a quick slice, followed by trying to trip the creature and smash it into the floor.>Instant Attack: [1d10+1]>Suppress: [1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5
The Hinderer deftly deflects your strike, disrupting your balance, then turns your momentum against you as it effortlessly tosses you to the floor.
>Qhapaq "1/6">Quotation marks will serve to indicate "Virtual" damage, that is, damage taken in combat situations which present no danger to the participants, such as when fighting holographic trainers with safety protocols enabled
The AI seems to have learned a bit from your last fight, as it goes right for the roll instead of the throw this time.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
"Hmm. Not my fight, it seems." the griffon notes, trying to grapple the Hinderer to take it with him as he's rolled out.>Instant: [1d10+1]>Grappl: [1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
Just as you're squeezed through the ropes of the arena, you hook your claws about the Hinderer's hardlight leg. Perhaps owing to that weight which thwarted its earlier attempt to throw you, you manage to drag it out with you as you roll to the gym's cool tile floor. It lays there nearby for a few moments, before vanishing, then reappearing in the ring. No T-pose this time, perhaps the machine's just on the fritz.
"Hrm… curious machine. That is enough for now, I think." the griffon remarks- mostly to himself, since it's not like the hardlight projection can hear him- and looks for a way to turn the machine off.
You power down the hologram, and the training program offers you some options. You can print a record of your wins and losses, or have them sent to your Comp. A tooltip appears as well, requesting that you clean and put away your training equipment once you are finished.
As the offer is made to Zamrud, he rubs his chin, contemplating if it's worth the exchange of time for training.
"Hmm… were I alone, I think I would readily accept it. The Shadedrinker might heal in that time, but hopefully not by much, and the better we are equipped to deal with it the less likely we'll be to take any further casualties. But, I should consult with my companions. I imagine they may have a few things they could do with a full Cycle here as well."
Zamrud decides to put a rest to rifle training for now, and opts to go looking for his companions to check with them. "Did you happen to see where most of them went, Utqay?"
Utqay shakes his head. "The colt went off to the Commons, this one thinks. Qhapaq went over to the gym over to our right here. And the other two – Godspeed, and the 'bot – they're with Tay. Look, to keep things simple, these ones can put down the training for later. It's better to get your practice in the field anyway."
Utqay takes one of the practice lightguns, gesturing to the remaining two on the tray for if Billy or Grutar want to get in some quick practice. "These ones should warm up our skills until your companions are ready. Zamrud, the elders' proverbs say the first rule of gun safety is to have fun. What say this one to a quick competition?"
Billy gives a smile as he picks up one of the guns feeling it in his hand. "What kind of competition?"
"I'm more used to flamers… but I'll give those things a shot! I'm pretty good with a drill, so what's the difference?" Grutar says with a grin, ready for any minor competition to pass the time waiting.
Zamrud turns towards Billy and Gruatar, "Well, what say the two of you? Would you mind delaying our hunt for a Cycle more so we can get some training in with these, or would you rather pursue sooner lest it recover? Personally I advocate for caution, no need to rush into things."
As Utqay suggests a competition, Zamrud offers a smile, "Well, I should think the first rule of gun safety is something else, closer to actual safety protocol, but I'm certainly no opponent to having a good time. What kind of competition did you have in mind, do these holograms have some sort of point system? Called shots?"
>>750581"Point and squeeze the trigger,"
Utqay says. "Not fundamentally different from this one's flamers.">>750582"Question not the elders' proverbs.">>750580>>750581>>750582
Utqay gestures to the terminals which operate the hardlight targets for shooting practice. "Use the training terminals to call up six targets, at the default placement settings. Six shots, the one with the most hits is the winner. Quick and simple. These ones can mix it up with called shots and high-valued targeets after the hunt, when these ones are properly six drinks deep. Sound fun?"
Zamrud bows his head respectfully, "My mistake."
He turns towards the hardlight targets, pressing a few buttons on the terminal according to the default settings. "Sounds fair to me. I'll start off with just aiming for hits, then once I'm feeling a bit more confident I'll attempt called shots. Don't want pride to come before the fall." He says as he presses the side of the rifle to his cheek, lining up his shot carefully. "What will you be using to shoot with, I feel I have a bit of an advantage using a rifle this good."
[1d10+2] Shots 1 - 6
[1d10+2]Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #3 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #4 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #5 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #6 1 + 2 = 3
Trying to follow Zamruds example Billy makes six shots himself at the targets before him.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #3 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #4 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #5 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #6 10 + 2 = 12
[6d10]Roll #1 10, 7, 5, 7, 5, 4 = 38
"Six drinks for six shots?! I'm in!!" Grutar says, looking for the nearest gun they're offering and finding his target to compete with. When fiddling with it safely to get his bearings and aim, he calls out before firing. "Let's see if I can get em all straight n' center!"
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 2 = 2
/ Roll #4 1 = 1
/ Roll #5 7 = 7
/ Roll #6 8 = 8
>>750586>>750584"A fair point, but a quality weapon is no replacement for skill in gunplay,"
Utqay says as he primes the practice pistol. He whistles as Grutar, Zamrud and Billy's shots fizzle out out 3, 4 and 5 holograms, respectively. "Here, this one considered going easy. Observe."
He takes aim, readying his lightgun…
[1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #3 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #4 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #5 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #6 1 + 1 = 2
Utqay looks just a hair embarrassed as he only manages to snipe three targets himself. "Hrm. Are these ones so sure they have little training in gunplay? This one admires your skill – mayhap it is this one who will learn from you!"
"Don't admonish yourself. It seems your just having a bit of an unlucky day here." Billy tries to console Utqay.
Zamrud grins as he notices his shots going through 4 holograms, but looks on with surprise as Billy manages to nail *five*. He turns to look at the young goat, "Billy, excellent marksmanship. I have the better gun and you still shot more targets than I did. Very well done."
He turns to look at Utqay, smirking as he hoists up his rifle. "I did have a little bit of training, I admit, the Permata household trains its retainers in a number of fields that might benefit the crown. But sharpshooting was never my forte, I find myself better with a chemistry set. Perhaps I'm simply lucky, or the gun truly made the difference. I'm sure if you were to use my model you'd outshine me."
"Hah! Thing isn't a flamer, but it works well enough. Dunno if it's my kinda thing y'know?" Grutar then puts down the gun after having only gotten three targets himself.
Anno Castra: A Record of the Oaths
At the end of the year 31273 AC, a Mendicant Priest of the Abbey by the name of Rudolph took advantage of a heretofore unknown Intranet security bug, and disseminated an alarmist manifesto throughout all of Ironcastle. In it, he published clandestine evidence that the Iron Heart, the primordial magical and mechanical structure that provided Ironcastle with all its sacred, protective Light, was not an infinite reservoir of energy, as so many assumed, but that it would run out of power within this generation. His manifesto concluded with a snippet of an old legend of The Moon and the Sun, a pair of colossal machines that supposedly once gave light to the entire Diskos.
Within hours, Mendicant Rudolph was apprehended by order of Iron King Ischyros, the Far-Seeking, and has not been seen since. At the same time, the House of Iron, in cooperation with the leaders of each of Ironcastle's Strata, began a mass campaign to quell fears and answer the public's questions… and as that went on, a fast acting virus spread through Ironcastle, deleting every copy of the manifesto, and itself.
About one month later, with the advent of the year 31274, five brave souls were among those chosen by Iron King Ischyros for a special mission. These five – House Bahasa retainer Zamrud, Zinccastle miner Grutar, Aya Clan warrior Qhapaq, House Titanite scion Good Intentions, and young samaritan, Billy Spark – were called by the King to assist the Warrior Stratum. A spate of recent deaths among the Warriors left them unable to keep up with the influx of missions requiring travel into the Outlands, and so, the Iron King wished to authorize those of other Strata to go into the Outlands and take on those excess missions. The five accepted, and were granted the King's blessing in gratitude.
The first of these missions was to investigate an Abandoned Fortress north of an Old World Lakeside Town, which had been overtaken by Dreaded Ones and was in need of an extermination. As they explored the fortress, they were nearly lured into traps more than once by the Host, a Dreaded One capable of absorbing and controlling the bodies of its victims as it digested them. Hidden deep within the Fortress's dungeons, the Host used the bodies of Ride or Die, Assembly, Dorya, Bet and Gimmel, five servants of Ironcastle, to control the Fortress's security systems.
Mercifully, our brave souls were able to slay the Host before it could claim the lives of its five victims. Afterward, Ride or Die, the leader of this other band, shared with our souls a certain theory of his – that the Warrior Stratum was being sabotaged. Although all missions in the Outlands were to be taken with the assumption of grave danger, protocol dictated that the most powerful Dreaded Ones sighted around and within the mission area were to be identified and studied prior to the mission's assignment. However, in this mission, and the missions which recently claimed the lives of other Warriors, such threats had not been identified. Additionally, per protocols, missions were to be assigned to those personnel whose documented skills made them the most qualified for the mission. This protocol had also been neglected, and as such, unqualified personnel were dying in missions they should have never been given.
Although Ride's theory did not have much beyond circumstantial evidence to support it, there was a historical precedent for even the bravest of souls to give into despair – such as the suicidal cult of the Flagellants, a heretical offshoot of the vitalist Abbey, whose unthinkable teachings had seduced prominent individuals of every Stratum, around 1,200 years prior.
Pondering over these speculations, our heroes cleaned and secured the Abandoned Fortress. Not a moment too soon – for as the next Cycle began, a colossal Dreaded One, known as the Siren Singer, drifted within sight, bringing in the wake of its maddening songs, a stampede of Dreaded Ones. With little time to prepare, our heroes bolted back for Ironcastle to shelter before the stampede could overtake them.
Once back in Ironcastle, they reported their findings to Mabin, the Iron King's right-hand dog, who pledged to investigate these alarming circumstances. Afterward, they unwound with an impromptu visit to Good's family manor, where his parents, Steel Unyielding and Offbeaten Path, greeted them warmly (his little sister, Lazy Days, less so – at least initially).
Two weeks passed by before they could leave Ironcastle, as the stampede passed through the badlands, levelling all in their path. When at last they were clear to leave for missions once more, they took an intriguing delivery mission, outsourced by USB Delivery Systems, who needed personnel with Outlands clearance to deliver certain cargo to an Aya Clan Family in the City of Oath. They accepted the mission, but when they asked the USB representative what the cargo contained, he whispered that the manifest had been scrubbed – and it was better to not ask questions.
After refreshing their supplies, they set out once more. They decided to stop as the Lakeside Town for shelter and rest, as it was on their way. There, they met an ancient, wandering robot, identified by its serial code as a Helping Hoof, capable of speaking naught but Old Equish, a tongue originating in the Time Long Forgotten. They puzzled out that the robot was in search of some manner of kingdom by the name of "The Grand […] and Holy […] of the Fourth […] Canterlot," which supposedly lay to the east, some unknown distance away. As the robot seemed friendly, they prompted it to follow them, provided enough audio samples for it to build a Castle Equish audio library with AI, and gave it a "spicy señorita" accent, earning it the name, "La Señorita."
As they traveled onward to Oath, they passed through the Ghostroot Forest, where they met an agrarian community of undead, ruled over by the quiet buffalo necromancer, Granpaw, and his adopted earth pony granddaughter, Rind. Granpaw provided them with a guide, a donkey by the name of Sancho.
It was not long after they left Granpaw's farm, however, that they met a rare sight – a fellow soul from another Castle: Heart-borne Godspeed, Exarch of the Abbey of Zinccastle. Recently, Granpaw had come into possession of two Souls, belonging to her fallen colleagues who had fallen prey to a Soul-stealing Dreaded One called the Shadedrinker. Godspeed was willing to fight Granpaw for their liberation, but our heroes talked her down into a negotiation instead.
Back at the farm, Granpaw agreed to Godspeed's demands, but only if they could prove they were up to the same task by which Granpaw took the Souls – they would have to slay another Shadedrinker. Fortunately for them, the one that Granpaw slew was part of a pair, and the one who survived Granpaw's onslaught had fled, seeking to heal itself by feasting upon Souls in Oath. Granpaw entrusted them with a creature of his own making, called an Egregore, that could devour the Shadedrinker should it be weakened enough.
Armed as such, they made for Oath once more, tracking down the Shadedrinker by the trails of Astral Matter that its wounds left behind in the forest.
At last they arrived in Oath, only to discover a trap set for them at a street intersection. Brute and crude in its design, it had been set by the Feoh Mutant Clan – the weakest and lowest-regarded of the Mutants. But these ones had taken hostages (as the Feoh were wont to do): a caravan of Aya merchants. To save the caravan, our heroes used engineering and wit to turn the trap against the Feoh, and thus gained hostages of their own. This turned the hostage situation into a standoff between our heroes and Galdrar, the leader of this Feoh group, and one of the few Feoh to inspire fear and respect among all Mutants. Galdrar agreed to release his "merchandise" in exchange for something of far greater value – a piece of the Shadedrinker that had recently fled into the city, further north. They took his deal, and continued their hunt.
It was not long after that, when at last, they came across signs of the quarry so many had wanted. Many blocks of the central districts of the city were enshrouded in a frigid mist, full of toxic pathogens… a sign of the Shadedrinker's presence. What began as a hunt soon turned into a fight for survival as the fog spread – and the Shadedrinker tried to devour its quarry. Zamrud and Billy were deeply wounded, and Sancho was blown to smithereens… but then came a sudden, dramatic rescue by a group of Aya.
As it turned out, their delivery destination happened to be nearby; a bunker, full of Castra technology and software. It was at this bunker that a Family of Aya had taken residence in, some weeks past, only to be pinned down when the Shadedrinker fled into the city to escape Granpaw. One of these Aya, a Diviner (and film director) by the name of Tay, learned of our heroes' struggle while consulting the divine lots, and sent out a party to rescue the wounded.
The rest of our heroes followed them back to the bunker, where they were able to seek treatment for their wounded bodies and strained minds. While there, they completed the delivery to the Family's Skull – a perpetually burning Kirin by the name of Apuchin. It was when Apuchin inspected the delivery that they learned that something was wrong.
The delivery's contents consisted of an inordinate amount of Crystal Hearts, storage crystals whose primary purpose was to hold pure Undefiled Light from a Castle's Heart. It was not strictly illegal, or even unheard of to trade small amounts of Crystal Hearts to Mutants (as part of controversial philanthropic efforts by the Iron King). However, Crystal Hearts were to only be handled by Papilliones, the highest-ranking Sages, specially trained from birth to handle matters of the Heart. And besides, an amount this large – representing a year's worth of Light – was completely unprecedented to give to Outlander Mutants.
Apuchin was unwilling to part with this shipment, but as a show of good faith, told them of the one who had organized the purchase: A dragon, plainly armored, though bearing the insignias of Ironcastle. Zamrud recalled seeing someone – an anonymous, plainclothes agent of the Iron King – matching that description at Mendicant Rudolph's arrest. Additionally, so as not to jeopardize further transactions, Apuchin agreed to print and sign a record of the transaction, as well as entrust the party with his empty Crystal Hearts.
With that finally taken care of, our heroes met two of their rescuers: A puros named Utqay, and a zawatil named Ch'utiy. The two were eager to get back to the hunt, but spent some time training our heroes, and upgrading their equipment, for a modest price.
>Last time, on Anno Castra…
Billy, Grutar and Zamrud finished their introductory firearms practice with Utqay, Good Intentions finished his card game with Godspeed, and Qhapaq finished his solo wrestling practice in the security room's holographic boxing ring.>>750590>>750591>>750592"No admonishment, only respect for skill and talent,"
Utqay says to Billy. He makes sure to collect and put away the practice guns. He pulls from his pocket a small rectangular device, which unfolds to display a keyboard – looks like a primitive, discounted version of your Magicomps, but it is of no doubt Castle make. "Ah. Ch'utiy is finished with the equipment. She wants these ones to meet her by the bunker doors. This one shall help her bring out the equipment, while you lot collect your allies."
With that, he heads for the equipment room.
After taking some time to rest from the fight, you feel a poking sensation in your side. You turn, and see La Senorita there.
"Ready for liftoff," she drones in her prerecorded voice clip. >>750566
After getting some time by yourself to unwind, you start to get the feeling that you should check in on the others.
"Mmm. Time to go already then, I see. I will be ready in just a moment, robot." the griffon says, getting to all fours quickly and stretching out. It doesn't take him long at all to pull his cold weather gear back on, strap on his Light Claws, and strap his mask to his neck- he likely won't put it on until they're ready to leave, but not having it close feels wrong.
"Sounds good! I'll meet the rest of ya over at the bunker doors then too." Grutar mentions to the others before heading off to the meeting spot.
"Thank you kindly Utqay." Smiling at the praise given to him he bows his head. "Are you up to anything from here on out?"
"Right. I'll go find Good and Qhapaq, I'll inform them we'll be waiting a Cycle to get some training and rest in before we go out to finish off the Shadedrinker. Thank you again for this, Utqay, I feel like the additional time spent practicing with these weapons will prove beneficial to seeing we incur no further casualties."
With that, he hoists his rifle along his back, intent to find the others who need to be made aware of his selection to delay the hunt.
Utqay says simply, before departing.>>750816>>750817>>750818>>750821
You gather before the bunker's massive doors, with Utqay and Ch'utiy rolling out a cart with the requested equipment upgrades – Qhapaq's lightclaws, and Good's improved shoulder-mounted cannon."Right, then,"
Ch'utiy says. "Are we going now, or later, after training and rest?"
As she asks this, Godspeed and La Senorita file out from Tay's medical room, steeled and ready.
Good sighed and dragged himself up to check on the others and the state of his guns upgrade.
As everyone gathers, Zamrud clears his throat. "Well, now that everyone is here: I had thought it might be wise to delay our hunt by a single Cycle. We've only just recovered, and while the weapons we've acquired should level the playing field I think we could use more practice with them."
"There is a risk of the Shadedrinker recovering in this time as well, but I doubt it will be back to 100% any time soon. And the better prepared we are, the less likely we'll be to be taken off guard like before. Are any opposed?"
"I still think we can handle that beasty before it finds a way to patch itself up. But it's your guys call." Grutar says, looking all geared up and ready to go.
Behind Godspeed, you see Tay coming out, holding your grimoire. They hand it off to you, along with a data chip that looks comparable with your Magicomp.
"Okay, I wasn't sure what'd be the most convenient way to translate it, so I basically just slapped together a quick program for you. The translated grimoire is on that data chip. You can set it to recognize your voice if you want it to jump to a page or a spell on demand. But, unless you have some natural magical talent, or another Catalyst, you'll still need to hold onto the grimoire to actually cast the spell. In either case, I'd still recommend you to hold onto the book. I don't think they'll be as strong without it."
>Obtained Mysterious Grimoire>Obtained Grimoire's Translation
"Anyway, have a quick look through and tell me if it all looks right. I think the software on the bunker Comps is a bit outdated in comparison to what you guys got."
"Thank you kindly. I think I will need to give this a big read before thinking of casting though. It is much appreciated." Billy smiles looking at the translation and opening it up to look at.
Good quietly affixed his gun and nodded his thanks.>>750826
"If it's all the same I would much rather we destroy it as fast as possible and go home."
"If you think it would be best to delay, I will not say no- though, it may be for the best to strike while the iron is hot, as they say."
"Well, that's two votes delay, two votes depart."
He turns to Billy, "Your thoughts?"
Each page of the grimoire has been scanned and uploaded into the program, and it seems like you can jump to them at will – but there's an issue. The grimoire is divided into several sections, with the front half of the section dealing with a specific spell, and successive pages providing commentary, stories, even strange jokes about the spell in question. But, only the first section's pages are legible. All else look quite blurry.
Tay, looking over your shoulder, clicks their tongue. "Thought so. The same thing happens when you check the physical book. Oh well. You'll probably have to get some practice with it before you can get to the other stuff."
Fortunately, there's one spell you can access as it is:
>Crystal Wall α:>Spell; Ranged; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Encase your target in a 5x5' square of crystal, permeable only from their end. The crystal square absorbs 5 Hits of Damage on behalf of the target, after which it breaks.
"I am okay either way." Billy shrugs noncommittally.>>750836
"I am still happy to get some use of it as it is." Billy looks a bit happy.
Zamrud sighs, "Well, then we've still a tie." He turns to look at Godspeed and their two Aya recruits. "I imagine Utqay and Ch'utiy will opt to leave as soon as possible. Godspeed, how do you lean?"
"I vote we be on our way," Godspeed says. "We've no telling how quickly the Shadedrinker may replenish itself in the time it takes us to practice. What better way to learn, if that is your intent, than to learn in the field?"
Good for his part started by putting a magical barrier on Zamrud as he was the one who nearly died last time.
[1d10] InureRoll #1 4 = 4
"Then, it would seem our decision is made." Zamrud nods towards Grutar and Good. "We'll leave right away then. I've gotten the basics of how this rifle handles, I'm certain I'll be able to learn more once we've begun the hunt."
"I would request one small detour though: I would like to visit the battlefield where we first fought it, and collect Sancho's remains. I have a theory I would like to test, but even if it should prove false I imagine Grandpaw would appreciate his bones returned."
"This is amenable given he fell to protect us."
"Of course. It is only right to do so, and it should not take us long."
"I don't see no reason not to. Seems right to pay a bit of respects."
Billy opens up his weird book again to look over the pages of the new spell. Hoping to gain a better understanding of the spell itself.
"Thank you. I thought very much the same he was owed that much. And I imagine we'll need to head there anyway to pick up the Shadedrinker's trail."
Messing around with it a bit. Billy casts the new spell on good.
>Crystal Wall α:>Spell; Ranged; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Encase your target in a 5x5' square of crystal, permeable only from their end. The crystal square absorbs 5 Hits of Damage on behalf of the target, after which it breaks.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
You study the words of power, the necessary visualizations – much of it to do with peculiar gemstones with ancient, untranslatable names, but still bearing potent properties long lost to mortalkind's imagination…>>750856>>750846
Channeling surprising power from within, you secure Good in a dense barrier of protective, light neon pink crystal, which moves with him so as not to trap him.
>This barrier will endure 10 Hits instead of just 5>>750839>>750849>>750847>>750845>>750844
With that, Utqay and Ch'utiy secure their masks, and the air about them changes. They say not another word, until they approach the door guards, and hiss a quick word. The door guards nod, give a quick salute of a single chest-pound, then turn to operate the door's controls. With a heavy groaning of metal upon metal, the doorway slides open, allowing you to pass.
None of your allies say a word, moving swiftly and silently as they can, weapons at the ready. Shadows glide across the foul-smelling underpass streets, until at last, the filth and trash underfoot gives way to slick, slimy snow. Thick fog wraps about you, curling and tangling about every structure nearby…
As you emerge from the underpasses, Utqay signals for you to stop as he sweeps the perimeter. "Snow's closer,"
he whispers. "Eyes up."
Godspeed and Ch'utiy silently brace themselves…
Good sighed and aimed a repeat of the last time they tried this as he aimed skyward and worked to fire a singularity to pull the fog out of the way.
[1d10] Singularity Shot
>Singularity Shot: Recharge 4, Spell, Good's possesses a natural ability to magnify his gravitational prowess into an attack that creates singularities that he can hurl as a projectile that will pull everything around them towards them. On crit the attack can actually be stuck inside of a target making them the center of the Singularity.Roll #1 6 = 6
Billy nods in silence and attempts to follow where Utqay is looking.
As they leave the safety of the bunker, Zamrud says a silent prayer for them all as they move on past the gates, noting the totally changed demeanor of their two fellow hunters.
As Utqay commands for the group to stop, Zamrud does so, crouching low and keeping an eye out for any sign of danger. "It moved 'closer'?" he whispers, "That's odd. You would think it would flee further away from where it was injured."
[1d10] Alleycat: Instant; DC 4; Every alleycat develops a keen sense of where he or she should look for potential attackers. You can roll this to identify places in your immediate surroundings that would be relevant in combat, such as ambush spots, choke points, and good escape routes. Higher rolls can even anticipate incoming attacks.
[1d10+1] Perception CheckRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
Qhapaq, now masked, stretches his wings out a little, in case he needs to force the fog away. He'll stay still for now, and watch closely.>Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
Grutar keeps his eyes out to make sure nothing flanks his buddies.>Perception
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Good clears the fog about the immediate area, leaving naught but the extreme chill and the putrid, oil-stained snow beneath you, clinging to your boots. Utqay and Ch'utiy keep watch, but… it's quiet for now. Grutar notices that the fog seems to be thicker to the east – while to the west, where Sancho's remains lay, it is less dense.
>"Suggestion," La Senorita begins in your Concord voice comm channel. "Live bait – may prevent – ambush."
"That is quite ominous. Is there anything that should follow being bait?" Billy looks toward senorita.
"That isn't a bad idea, Senorita. I hate to impose, but would you be willing to take the initiative? I don't know if it would be interested in a machine, but among all of us you by far have the most armor to withstand a direct attack. Then we can surround it and take it down as swiftly as we can."
"Hmm… Seniorita or I both may be able to do as such."
"I will play the role of bait, I have Billy's protection to help me for now." he said as he stepped forward.
Zamrud's eyes pop open as he reaches and pulls Good back. "No. I respect your courage, Good, but you're allowing your altruism to get the best of you. Among us, only you have healing and barrier magic, AND you are able to do away with the fog. If you are critically injured in the first attack, we will be at a severe disadvantage."
"Senorita is best suited with the means to withstand a direct attack from that monster."
"Qhapaq may also be a good option: his healing factor will also mean he has a good chance of surviving a direct assault."
Good grimaced and sighed as he had to concede that Zamrud was correct.
"Billy, can you provide your protection for Qhapaq the same as you did for Good? Between his healing factor and a few layers of additional protection, he may be our single best candidate."
"Hmmm… Fog's pretty thick eastward. Think the thing hides in the thickest parts?" He asks the others around him.
"East seems to be the likely source if it's injured and hiding."
"I will stay a bit further back: this rifle is best at a long range, after all. It can appear anywhere within the fog, so we could use that to our advantage in luring it into a trap. Qhapaq and Senorita will head directly into the fog, while Good uses his gravity magic to move the fog out of the way for them… except on one side, where it will be closest to them and most likely for it to appear."
"The moment it does, Billy, Grutar, Godspeed, our two associates and myself will unload everything we have on it. We want to try and bring it down in one fell swoop."
"I am willing to do so." Billy reads up in his grimoire again.
>Crystal Wall α:>Spell; Ranged; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Encase your target in a 5x5' square of crystal, permeable only from their end. The crystal square absorbs 5 Hits of Damage on behalf of the target, after which it breaks.
"Do stay safe out there you two. Though I will do my best to support in any way!"Roll #1 1 = 1
"Sounds like a plan, yes- let us waste no time."
"Gotcha, I'll be ready anytime for the signal."
Qhapaq and La Senorita begin to head Eastward, into the fog that wraps about what was once the city's commercial district. As they get to about ten paces off, Godspeed begins to follow, her hoofsteps making not a sound on the snow. Ch'utiy and Utqay wait until she's just out of sight before they move out after her.
The fog eclipses all about Qhapaq and La Senorita as they trudge through the snow. Shadowy buildings waver in and out, seemingly from existence itself, amid the darkness and the fog…
Good sighed and began to move west "You said you wished to find Sancho? We had best move now so we can regroup as soon as possible."
"That is quite the ominous sight over there. I do feel a might bit scared over not knowing if anything is there or not." Billy shivers a bit.
Qhapaq continues to look around- even if the point is to get caught out, he'd prefer to know if it's working.>Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"I do," Zamrud says in response to Good, "But I thought the Shadedrinker would have moved further away from where we last fought it. If it's still so close, it's best to deal with it first so it does not take us by surprise while we search for his remains."
As Qhapaq and Senorita move into the fog, Zamrud readies his rifle, keeping an eye out for any sign of movement within it as he gets down over a piece of rubble, and uses it to prop up the rifle as he starts to take aim. "Good, can you use your magic to maneuver the fog? Give us a clear line of sight to Qhapaq and Senorita, but keep it thick on one side of them. That's where we'll look for the Shadedrinker to pop out."
[1d10+1] PerceptionRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"I'm ready, not gonna let no gunk cover my helmet this time. If it does, I'll have to ask one of em aya folk sometime to get me some wipers for the visor."
"Very well then." he said moving with them and scanning the area.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
>>750886Dozens of prickles dance about your cheeks, and neck, and at once, a numbing feeling enshrouds your beak. Your tongue defies your control, and your eyelids start to droop without warning. Your mask's alarms ring dully in your ears, dimming in quality and sound almost as soon as they begin.
>Qhapaq loses 1 Wound, takes -2 to actions next round>>750884>>750885>>750887>>750888
In a moment of quiet, the fog completely obscures the images of La Senorita and Qhapaq, and Godspeed freezes. A moment, and all is still–
>"Warning. Immediate…" La Senorita begins, until her comms break apart. You can hear her treads suddenly speed up. Her laser rifle fires, but the sounds quickly diminish.
[1d10-1] La Senorita's reckless attack
Without hesitation, Utqay and Ch'utiy open fire into the fog.
[2d10+2] Lightgun attacks
Godspeed inches forward, her sword-arm trembling as she tries to stick to the plan.>>750889
As you trek into the snow to the west in search of Sancho's pieces, you find that the fog is much clearer around here, and the blast-marks and damage of your battle are quite plain to–
Your hoof catches upon a hunk of asphalt, hitherto hidden in the snow, and you stumble to the ground. As your visor warns you of the snow's toxicity… you feel something, several small somethings, crawling onto your back.Roll #1 1 - 1 = 0
/ Roll #2 7, 2 + 2 = 11
"I don't like the sound of that… Do we head in now?" Grutar asks Zamrud, sounding a bit worried for his team mates.
Good promptly jumped up and looked around, activating one of his filters and Using his mutation to try and blow whatever was on his back off.
>Mutation Repulsive Force : Recharge 2, Instant Automatic, This mutation allows Good to turn his gravitational attacks into reverse, repelling foes instead of attracting them, and inflicting them with the force of their body being hurled back or potentially an attack being hurled back at them. This may also be used in conjunction with his Singularity Shot for various effects.
>Magic Bolt [2d10]Roll #1 4, 1 = 5
As the laser bolt fires out recklessly into the fog and Senorita's radio breaks out, Zamrud's eyes open wide, and he swiftly leaps over his cover and charges for the fog. "We can't see it! Good, Billy, stay back, provide long range support! Try to clear the fog! Grutar, you're with me, we're moving up! Don't get too close, it'll have mines place around the fog! Step lightly!
Activating his advanced mutation, Zamrud tries to pierce the thick fog with his sight to see his quarry before shooting blindly, not wanting to injure any of his companions.
[1d10+1] Perception (enhanced mutation to see through solid objects, locating the Shadedrinker with advanced vision)
[1d10+1] AppraiseRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
"Pretty sure somethings on me so any help would be appreciated right now!" Good shouted with audible distress over the comms
"Right! Let's see if this thing can handle my drill a second time!">>750894
"I'm comin' to help, Good!!" Grutar shouts.
>Search for Good to assist him
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Billy attempts to aid good rushing over to him to attempt to see the problem enemy.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Good writhes and spins, trying to get whatever crawled onto him off once more. Grutar and Billy run over, and they can see the culprits – small, near-white centipedes of a sort, composed all of snarled, clenched-up finger bones, inching toward the joints of his Armorsuit, where no plating covers, for the sake of mobility. Together, the three of you toss the centipedes off – and as they're ripped away, they explode in a chain of blasts, pelting Billy and Good.
>Billy 3/6>Good's Crystal Wall has 6 Hits remaining>>750893
A terrible silhouette, lumbering, fading upwards through the fog, mixing into it like smoke, its outline stretching to the tops of the buildings surrounding– you can see no more than that, but you can sense the trepidation of a wounded beast.>The Shadedrinker>Weak: Wind>Resist: None>Null: Ammo, Poison>Absorb: Water, Ice, Spirit>Repel: Mind>142/300 HP>>750893>>750896>>750895>>750894
With Qhapaq still unseen, Utqay and Ch'utiy's fire is cautious and restrained, as they attempt to shoot overhead.
Godspeed, however, steps inward, and cuts the shape of a sigil into the fog.
There is a distant, muffled explosion. Only static comes from La Senorita's comms.
From the fog, there comes a deep sighing…
>wait for resultRoll #1 2, 9 + 2 = 13
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #3 8 + 4 = 12
And the sigh becomes a deep, gentle breath, belying its hideous strength, as a deep fog, dark as pitch, floods from the east, over the entire block, trapping you in the dark.
Qhapaq staggers a little bit, trying to fight off the numbing, deathly cold of the fog.>Accelerated Healing (Automatic): Restore 1 Wound. Disable Accelerated Healing's passive Hit regeneration for three rounds.
Qhapaq takes a wild swing of his own into the fog, trying to strike the Shadedrinker- even a graze could help him figure out where it is.>Light Claw Instant: [1d10] (Counting the -2, which negates bonuses)Roll #1 10 = 10
Seeing the sudden burst of dark fog overwhelming his team, Grutar lets out a shout of anger as he charges towards the direction of where it came, ready to bash anything that look like the horrid shadedrinker.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Good was not really keen on letting this fog remain near them and aimed to fire a new singularity to pull it away or at the very least lighten it for them all.
[1d10] Singularity shotRoll #1 4 = 4
Billy attempts to spot his way through the fog and find the shade drinker while being next to good.
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
"Help is on the way! Try to use your magic to fling the mine as far as you can!">>750897
Seeing Grutar and Billy move on to assist Good amid the mine problems, Zamrud grumbles as he manages to catch an outline of the creature in the fog, hoping it doesn't have time to slip away before he gets his sights on it.
"You're a foot in the grave already, monster… do us all a favor and slide in." He whispers to himself as he takes his fire rifle off his sling, aims it through the freezing fog for the vague target, and fires off a shot
[1d10+3] +1 from Appraised target talent, +2 from rifle as he lets loose a flaming, silent bolt, hoping it does not give away his positionRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
Ch'utiy and Utqay gasp as the fast-moving fog envelops everything about them as it floods through and over the streets. Your visors sound out a warning, alerting you to the presence of concentrated toxic gasses about you – but soon you realize that the alarm is quickly becoming the only
thing that you can hear. All sounds about you, even those close by, sound muffled and distant, as darkness consumes the area.
>Each turn you are in the fog, you must spend one Charge of your Air Filter, or take 2 Wounds>Actions to directly assist someone else are impossible until the fog is cleared or you escape it.>>750899Your strike slows as you swing through the fog, almost as if you were trying to strike through a body of water, filled with strange coagulants which cover your hand, leaving it frigid and stinging.>>750900You swing about, but you feel more as if you were thrashing underwater whilst drowning. A cold pressure settles upon your shoulders, and slowly creeps upward toward your neck, pressing in on your windpipe from every direction.You lose 2 Hit>>750901As you try to launch the singularity, you feel it immediately fall, pressing back down onto you with an awful weight, as the fog oppresses your attack.You lose 4 Hits>>751191You can see naught but the warnings in your visor.>>751193>>751191>>750901>>750900>>750899A neon crimson bolt zips through the heavy black fog, and as it does, each of you can see it, however briefly. As it courses through the darkness, you get but a brief glimpse of something within the fog – a long procession of distorted, waxen faces, eyes and ears and howling mouths stretched and squashed beyond recognition. A set of Lightclaws slashes across the faces, but despite this, they show no pain, only a strange glee. Deep blue blood, stained neon crimson, leaks from their eyes, before the fog folds in once more.
>the Shadedrinker becomes untargetable if a round passes without a success from a Lightweapon or some other source of light such as fire.Muffled sounds drown in the fog.
[3d10+4]Roll #1 4, 1 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 7 + 4 = 11
/ Roll #3 1, 9, 1 + 4 = 15
>>751195Good grunted and decided to take the moment to try and shoot the shade drinker with his shoulder mounted light gun to double down on its damage with the secondary fire as well. HE mainly hoped the crytal barrier might help>Shoulder Gun
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
>>751195As the fog swiftly moves over them all, Zamrud shouts out as loud as he can, "Everyone, hold position! If you wander around blindly in the fog, you're likely to step on a mine!"
*Activating charge of Air Filter*
As the fog rolls over, he activates his mask's filters and puts them into overdrive, looking around in the dense fog as all goes deathly quiet. He says aloud to himself as all noise drowns out, "It can dampen sound as well… an enemy we cannot see nor hear. No wonder it's so troublesome."
He keeps his eyes peeled for any sign of the creature's movements, readying his rifle to strike as he scans the area. The moment he sees an outline of the monster, surely that of the Shadedrinker and not one of his companions, he takes a breath and reaches for one of his flaming chemical poultices as his gun recharges.
"A coat of alchemical napalm should it a bit harder for you to hide…"
[1d10+1] Alchemist Fire: recharge 1, ranged; Concoct a flame that produces virulent smoke and can latch onto anything, even water. Deals damage and gives +1 to all skills against that target next turn. On Crit this has the Fire Elementalist effect.
Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
>>751195Qhapaq lets out an angered screech and lets his light-claws extend further, before giving the creature a quick pair of swipes. "Do not run from me!"
>Claw Swipe: [1d10+2]
>Free Swipe: [1d10+2]Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #2 7 + 2 = 9
>>751197You fire at where you last saw the horrific faces, but see no more of them. Instead, you can hear a faint shattering all about you, followed by severe chills breaking out over your arms and legs as new weights latch upon them. Your Crystal Wall must have shattered.You lose 4 Hits>>751198>>751199>>751200https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QlpMMBy1s0In the distance, or perhaps nearby, you cannot tell – you hear a sharp cry, followed by another, and then a third.A vial shatters, and suddenly, all is aflame.Absolute darkness gives way to an almost unbearable brightness, as Zamrud's alchemist flame catches upon the black fog, encircling you as much as the fog does. In this new and terrible light, you can see the Shadedrinker's mosquito-like head, and its atrocious, lumpy upper body – it is now surrounded by a cloud of those terrible faces you saw before. Enraptured with dark glee, the faces swarm the Shadedrinker, attacking it however they can. Some faces seem to have sprouted arms, while others simply bite down onto its head as hard as they can. You get a glimpse of Qhapaq's Lightclaws stabbing and ripping into the monster's flesh, giving you a good gauge of its proximity to you.With fire surrounding you, the oppressive chill gives way to a terrible heat. Alarms of all kinds blare in your helmets as sweat runs from your foreheads.
>You must use another charge of your Air Filters, and succeed on a resistance check, or suffer 2 Wounds. The Shadedrinker lashes out in every direction with its dark, needling tendrils.
[5d10+4]Strange noises echo in the distance.
[1d10+4]Roll #1 10, 1, 4, 8, 10 + 4 = 37
/ Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #3 10 + 4 = 14
>>751201As the flames light up the dark fog, Zamrud allows himself a grin of satisfaction. "Success."
However, as the faces come out and take form from the bright, overwhelming heat of the fog, Zamrud is forced to shield his eyes, wincing as the heat becomes overwhelming. "Rrrg…. they're not PART of the Shadedrinker? What are those faces then?"
[1d10] Resistance check, and using another charge (Charge B)
With the mosquito like head of the monster now clearly outlined and the fires aiding their ability to target it, Zamrud quickly levels the rifle and takes aim, making a shot for one of the tendrils it sends lashing out. "Not so fast!"
[1d10+4] (Additional +1 from successful Alchemist Flame)
-Fault Point: recharge 3, weapon; You can notice the imperfections in anything from your years of crafting. Strike at a foes gear, either their weapon or armor, abusing these faults to weaken them and applying a stack of Faulty. Each stack lowers the quality of a weapon by 1 or lowers the damage reduction a foe has by 1 on armor. Once the gear reaches 3 stacks it will be destroyed. On Crit, or when the gear is broken, this will deal damage (Damage on break will be based on the roll that applied the 3rd stack). Can be used out of combat to break most average materials.
*Targeting its tendrils to lower its attack*
Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 2 + 4 = 6
>>751201>Resistance check: [1d10] (Using Augmented air Filter Charge C)
Qhapaq lets out a furious snarl, trying to press his advantage and slam the Shadedrinker against the floor, digging his claws in further. There's little to be done about the heat, but he at leasts tries to shield himself with his wings.
>Light Claw Instant: [1d10+2]
>Riposte (If the Light Claw hits): [1d3]Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #3 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #4 1 = 1
>>751201 Good hissed in annoyance as he popped another cartridge and was beginning to grow angrier and angrier at his failures here and he resolved to try and force the fog or at least the Shadedrinker up out of the fog.
[2d10] Magic Bolt
Repulsive Force: Recharge 2, Instant Automatic, This mutation allows Good to turn his gravitational attacks into reverse, repelling foes instead of attracting them, and inflicting them with the force of their body being hurled back or potentially an attack being hurled back at them. This may also be used in conjunction with his Singularity Shot for various effects. Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 4, 9 = 13
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
>Use the second charge of the air filter [1d10]
Billy goes forward in an attempt to get near the shade drinker and hit it.
Slam: recharge 1; Crush an enemy with your body, dealing damage. Crits on 9+.
-Martial Defender: passive; You gain 3 Max Hits, and Slam Crits on 8+.
[1d10] slamRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
As your eyes at last adjust to the fire's great light, you can see one another, scattered across the battlefield as you are. Utqay lies crumpled on the ground, with Ch'utiy trying to provide medical assistance, only to get struck across the back by a tendril, leaving her with an ugly red wound stretching from hip to shoulder. Godspeed slashes again in the shape of a sigil at the Shadedrinker, but a tendril snakes up, stabs through her leg, and flings her upward into the sky, hurtling through flames into the sky's darkness.
>You can now assist one another thru rolls>>751204
You leap forward, and drive your claws into the Shadedrinker's grotesque body, but feel your claws stop short after only a few inches in – a sharp pain in your abdomen pulls your attention downward, and you see a tendril jabbing between two of your ribs, and feel it erupt from the back. The Shadedrinker slams you to the ground as your blood runs over the streets, mingling with oil and snow.
Fighting flame with flame, you blast the Shadedrinker's head with your flamethrower, seeing glass melt and shatter under its spew. One of its tendrils slams into your side, but you catch most of the blow with your drill arm, diffusing the shock through the bone-metal.
Zamrud shoots at the Shadedrinker's gut, from which the tendrils spew forth, but their lashes swing all about, fanning the flames into a hellish chaos. A tendril stabs through Zamrud's forearm, then arcs upward, ripping his arm out of socket and gouging through his chest-plate, scoring through muscle skin and bone underneath all in one go.
Billy rushes forward to strike a fatal blow against the dying abomination, but is narrowly scraped by a sweeping tendril, throwing off his breathing. He takes a deep breath of the Shadedrinker's airborne toxins, and stumbles, coughing and hacking.
Good launches a bolt of reversed gravity, striking against the Shadedrinker's head. Much of the flame around you disperses, and the air – just barely – becomes tolerable. Though it burns your lungs, it is free of the horrid, numbing toxins.
>No Air Filter Charge required this round
The Shadedrinker shudders, reeling from its many wounds and the torturous bites of the countless disembodied faces surrounding it. It turns its attention to Ch'utiy and Utqay laying nearby, and a blue mist ekes from its tendrils, floating toward them. The two Aya begin to float as well, their bodies hanging limp in the Dreaded One's grasp…
[2d10+4]Roll #1 1, 1 + 4 = 6
Good wasted no time "Get Zamrud up and use the Eregore! We need to get this thing stunned so we can put him down!" he barked before turning to focus on the beast again and readied to fire again at the beast.
[1d10] Shoulder gun (Light)
[1d10] Secondary fire (Light)Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
As the darkness fades and the ability to see through the flames returns, Zamrud's eyes open wide at seeing the carnage the monster enacts. "Damn it… we're so close, it can't have much fight left in it."
When he fires his shot, he looks on in shock as a tendril races towards him, gasping in pain as it penetrates his arm and then dislocates it, screaming in pain as he holds his arm and chest in agony as he rolls out of the way. "GAAGH! My bloody arm again?!"
He grunts as he moves to the side, struggling to find cover to get off a few more shots
[1d10] Rolling up from Helpless>>751209
"Rrgg… my thoughts exactly. It's bloodied now for sure, if the Egregor doesn't finish it off it'll be damned close enough. But we need to get everyone out of range, it won't discriminate between us and it if we let it loose! The Aya and Godspeed need help too."Roll #1 1 = 1
Billy tries to restrain the shadedrinker before him wrapping his dragon arms around the limbs of the creature. Focused on restraining it.
Grappler: passive; Trained in melee and close quarters combat, you overpower foes easily in such situations. You have +1 to all rolls when making non-combat actions to grapple, subdue, restrain, or in any way preventing a target from moving with your own body. You can apply this bonus in combat to remove an enemy from combat without killing them, but only when they’re the only enemy in their zone and helpless, or on very low health.
-Sentry: passive, recharge 4; You can declare one action you make to be Automatic instead of rolling.
Seeing Zamrud go down once again, Grutar rushes over to help get Zamrud up. "Up and attem, we can't let this thing take any more of us down!"
>Trained Talent: LEAVE NO DOG BEHIND!>Automatic recovery to Zam
While he's had worse in recent memory, this doesn't bode well. When he sees the Shadedrinker look towards the other two Aya and the rest of his party, the griffon grits his beak and tries to get up to all fours.>Recover: [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Despite the flames surrounding you, Zamrud starts to feel deeply, deeply cold as blood oozes from his copious wounds. Though his arm spasms in pain, he can hardly feel, let alone control it.
Billy dives underneath the Shadedrinker, wrapping up its myriad tentacles in as tight a bear-hug as he can manage. They thrash and writhe, but he braces himself, holding it still for as long as he can.
Grutar scoops up Zamrud as best he can, through Zamrud continues to lose sensation in his extremities and head.
Utqay and Ch'utiy fall to the ground, and the two stir, coughing and twitching as they desperately try to rise.
A moment later, a thunderous crashing rings out, as Godspeed plummets through the fragile roof of a nearby building. Glass and drywall rain from above as she crashes through each floor in succession.
Qhapaq finds himself gasping for breath upon the asphalt, unable to flip himself over.
As Billy holds the dying Shadedrinker, he can feel his grip nearly slipping…Roll #1 7, 10 + 1 = 18
Good stomped his foot and aimed at one of the open wounds on the beast as he tried to literally blow it apart from the inside as he growled in indignant rage at this thing for daring to hurt his friends.
[1d10] Singularity Shot
>Repulsive Force: Recharge 2, Instant Automatic, This mutation allows Good to turn his gravitational attacks into reverse, repelling foes instead of attracting them, and inflicting them with the force of their body being hurled back or potentially an attack being hurled back at them. This may also be used in conjunction with his Singularity Shot for various effects. Roll #1 7 = 7
After rushing to get Zamrud up, Grutar looks around to assess things and rush over to Qhapaq. "Your turn, lad. Let's beat this thing together!"
>Assist recovery from helpless
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Zamrud groans as he is helped up by Grutar, his head spinning as he feels the loss of sensation throughout his body from the overwhelming pain. He steels himself, gritting his teeth as he looks around at their fallen comrades, but sees Billy successfully holding the creature down with surprising strength.
"Thank you, Grutar… now, let's help the others, I'm going to let loose our ace. GOOD! Keep your distance and provide covering fire. Billy, hold onto its tendrils as long as you can, but be ready to grab someone and run! Grutar, help me pick up Qhapaq, Utqay and Ch'utiy. I can't see Senorita, hopefully she can find cover…"
He turns on Concord, and shouts, "Godspeed, if you can hear this, stay in that building! I'm about to loose the Egregor, keep in cover. Senorita, retreat to a safe distance!"
He looks at the Shadedrinker to gauge how much fight it has left, while running to the other Aya to help them up
[1d10+1] Appraise Shadedrinker
[1d10] Helping up Ch'utiyRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
Feeling his grip slip from the many limbs of the creature. Billy pushes his closer against the creature trying to keep hold and restrain the bastard.
Grappler: passive; Trained in melee and close quarters combat, you overpower foes easily in such situations. You have +1 to all rolls when making non-combat actions to grapple, subdue, restrain, or in any way preventing a target from moving with your own body. You can apply this bonus in combat to remove an enemy from combat without killing them, but only when they’re the only enemy in their zone and helpless, or on very low health.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
An explosion erupts from within the Shadedrinker's fleshy body, and Billy dodges to the side, as chunks of meat and shattered tendrils fall from its lower half in a grotesque shower. The remaining limbs try again to stab at you, but Billy chases them down, and despite his fatigue, grapples and bars them with a grip worthy of iron, forcing them to dance and scrape against the ground.
As Zamrud says the word "Egregore," Ch'utiy and Utqay, despite their wounds, are up on their feet, and make a mad dash westward. They lob the disco-light grenades over their shoulder, not daring to slow down for even an instant.
Utqay shouts. Even without a translator, his meaning is clear.
Perhaps realizing the end is nigh, the Shadedrinker lets loose a terrible, echoing ghostly wail…
[1d10+4]Roll #1 6, 8 + 2 = 16
/ Roll #2 3 + 4 = 7
Good made some distance himself but worked to keep the beast in place with his magic.
> Magic Boon: instant automatic, recharge 3, spell; Enhance the magic of either yourself or an ally. Their next successful spell will also restores either 3 hits or 1 wound on them, chosen when you cast Magic Boon.
>Heal target is ZamrudRoll #1 4, 7 = 11
Despite the wailing, Grutar charges forth at the shadedrinker, planning to try and land a blow hard enough that he can dig away at the creature's core.
>Overdrill Martial Slam
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
As Utqay and Ch'utiy both manage to get up, Zamrud scans the area, trying to make sure there's nothing left in the blast-zone as he pulls out the Egregor, eying just how softened up the Shadedrinker is now. "Grutar, Billy, Qhapaq, I'm getting it ready, we're the only ones still near it! Prepare to run in a few seconds…"
[1d10-1] Perception check, seeing if the area's clear of anything else of note
[1d10+1] One more appraise on the ShadedrinkerRoll #1 4 - 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
"Urgh. Thank you, friend." he says, struggling to all fours. "Yes, let's take it together!" He snarls, lunging again for the Shadedrinker. He lets out a flurry of swipes, trying to slice it to ribbons.>Dual Wielding: [1d10+2] [1d10+2]>Light Claw (Instant): [1d10+2]>DC-1 From AccurateRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #3 10 + 2 = 12
Feeling more confident in taking down the creature in front of him billy takes one of the nearby limbs of the shadedrinker and makes two quick strikes on the weakened creature.
-animal husbandry (Fight With Your Enemies):instant automatic, recharge 5 after effect ends; The coolest thing most of your enemies will ever see. Whenever you render a foe smaller than you helpless, you can use this to equip them as a weapon with no properties to replace your current weapon. All successful attacks you make will also deal damage to who you are wielding. If you become helpless, Critfail, or the “weapon” makes a successful roll to recover from helplessness, this effect immediately ends.
-Cavalier (Lone Knight):You fight by yourself. You have a Bonus Action every turn for basic attacks only. You have +2 Max Hits and +1 Max Wounds. All Doctrines from Cavalier apply to you.
Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 5 = 5
Qhapaq, Billy and Grutar assail the dying Shadedrinker, tearing flesh, blood and glass from its sides as the haunting specters surrounding it chomp and pull away at what remains of its hideous form. The three of you nearly stumble as the thing's horrid cry rings out, but Billy and Grutar's suits automatically dampen the noise, keeping them on their feet. The Shadedrinker, heedless of its injuries, tries to shamble forward, but recoils as Good's blast and the strobes of the Aya's light-grenades prohibit it from moving.
At last, the Shadedrinker's head slumps to the side – but its body continues to float. A curious rippling starts to surround it, describable only as some kind of peculiar un-
light. Utqay shudders as he beholds it, turning to cover his eyes. "ZAMRUD, NOW!!"
he cries, voice tinged with horror.
A malfunction triggers in your suits' visors, as the HUD fills with static and unintelligible characters…
[9d10+4]□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGhbf-2UAiYRoll #1 3, 1, 5, 1, 7, 4, 7, 5, 9 + 4 = 46
Good for his part turned to Zam and tried to work him into a more protected state as he cast a spell and then immediately closed his eyes in an attempt to shield himself.
[1d10] Inure on ZamrudRoll #1 2 = 2
Billy joins in goods efforts casting his new special from the translation of the weird book he has to protect Zamrud.
>Crystal Wall α:>Spell; Ranged; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Encase your target in a 5x5' square of crystal, permeable only from their end. The crystal square absorbs 5 Hits of Damage on behalf of the target, after which it breaks.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Qhapaq lunges for Zamrud, wrapping him in a tight, powerful hold. He's not sure what's about to happen, but Zamrud hardly looks well enough to take it.
"Not now, suit! I'm tryin' to gut this thing!" Grutar says in frustration as he starts to rev up his drill to get its sharpness ready.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
As the black light starts crippling around the Egregor, Zamrud winces as his search is cut-off, looking at the disturbing scene of the nearly dead monster pulling out some sort of last stop as the HUD goes haywire.
"Right… now or never then. Everyone, run! Get to a safe distance, now!" Zamrud shouts as loudly as he can as he pulls out the skull-like Egregor, holding on to its heavy chain-leash tightly… before pulling it free, and throwing it towards the warping Shadedrinker as he pulls away into Qhapaq's grip, pointing towards the buildings where Godspeed fell.
"Clear the area, go go go!" Zamrud shouts unusually frantically, "To those buildings, Godspeed fell through the roof
[1d10] Roll if necessary>>751230
"We're going Grutar, blast zone is clear! If it somehow survives this, you'll have something to drill after I'm sure. But for now, move your paws!"Roll #1 7 = 7
The small, white, gaseous skull of the Egregore floats between you and the abominable un-light, which has now all but overtaken the Shadedrinker, for but a moment.
And then, as Grutar's paws cross over the threshold of the ruined building –
It all unfolds in an instant.
The Egregore shudders, and with each twitch, grows and grows in a flash, sprouting more grinning skull-faces from its body, elongating into smoky serpents, each one Qhapaq's size. Twisting and churning, they erupt forward, mouths clamping down onto the Shadedrinker from every angle. Dark azure blood splashes in every direction as the skulls devour it, but rather than chew, the Egregore continues to grow forward, slamming through the buildings around and ahead of it in an uncontrollable rampage that reduces concrete and asphalt into a fine smoke, and launches glass and rebar as far as it can fly.
You are forced to duck away from the building's windows to avoid the storm of debris, lest you become more victims, but the audible terror of the Egregore's rampage rings out as proof of your triumph.
It ends with a final, horrid squealing, and a squelching, as the Shadedrinker is shredded, and mulched.https://youtu.be/8kN1MyxE988
Good paused and slowly opened his eyes "Oh… that went better than expected." he said simply looking around trying to see where everyone else went "Hello?"
Billy peaks up with his head waving at good silently to indicate his position.
Zamrud keeps running even as he starts hearing the carnage ensuing behind him, listening to the smokey heads of the Egregore tearing the Shadedrinker and every building close to it to shreds. Shouting to all of his companions, "Don't stop to look back, we don't know how long its range is. Get further away!"
He makes for the building where Godspeed fell, stopping momentarily to look through the rubble as he turns on his Concord, "Utqay, Ch'utiy are you clear? Godspeed, if you're able to hear this, send me a message, respond. Senorita, where is your current location?"
[1d10-1] PerceptionRoll #1 10 - 1 = 9
Good waved back from his hole as he slowly climbed up, pausing for a moment, and then checking his comp before trotting away for a moment to try and find Sancho since for the most part things seemed to be safe.
"Keep going? Of course. Are you unhurt so far, friend? Please, try and keep from moving. I will take the brunt of whatever might happen.>Accelerated Healing (Automatic): Restore 1 Wound
Grutar keeps revving up his drill, adrenalin pumping through him as he's continuing to dash off on Zamrud's command.
[1d10] SearchingRoll #1 8 = 8
[1d10] SearchingRoll #1 9 = 9
Utqay and Ch'utiy, who lack Concord software, follow behind you, adrenaline keeping them on their feet despite their wounds. You head to the center of the building's ground floor – it's so decayed and rotted that you can hardly tell what it used to be, in the Old World. But there, in a crater in the center of the floor, lies Godspeed, clenching her falx with a death grip. Even a blade as quality as hers has chips and dents in it after that fall.
She says nothing as you approach… but curiously, she appears to be unharmed. Even her leg, which was pnctured all the way through by the Shadedrinker's tendril, is totally without damage.>>751237>>751235
You head westward, to the intersection where you first fought the Shadedrinker, and comb the area for Sancho's remains, fanning out from the scorch mark of the explosion that destroyed him.
In time, combing over every bit of debris and carnage you find, you find a collection of bones… all except for his skull.
"Huh… do you think perhaps it took his skull? The Shadedrinker that is."
"Should we check inside the shade drinker then? Maybe it ate it?" Billy lightly taps his chin.
Grutar takes the time to head over to where Godspeed is to get her up and brush her off. "You alright? No broken bones or anythin'?"
"I guess it wouldn't hurt." he said as he suddenly winced as finally the drawback of his mutation hit ""Do me a favor and load the bones up into my pack… my moving is gonna be a bit… slow."
"Godspeed. Are you well? You seem… unharmed, despite everything." the griffon says, nervously brushing her off and looking her over.
"Unhurt would be an exaggeration," Zamrud grunts as he feels his arm. "The Shadedrinker dislocated my right arm, shame I just had it patched back up. Lord Good's magic mended the injury a bit, so I can at least move it-" he says as he demonstrates, wincing as he does so. "But it certainly doesn't feel pleasant.">>751242
Zamrud looks to Utqay and Ch'utiy, "Glad to see you're both relatively intact. That was the first time I've ever seen an Egregore unleashed, I take it you are more familiar with the sight?"
He spots Godspeed lying in the crater, his eyes widening in concern at first before he sees her laying completely unharmed, albeit silent, as he approaches. "Ah, you're okay. Blessings to the gods," he says as he slides down into the crater, offering her a paw to help her stand. "The Shadedrinker is dead, or soon will be. The Egregore is finishing it up as we speak… you're quite hardy, taking a fall like that. Are you injured anywhere?"
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Qhapaq huffs a little bit, wasting little time in lifting both Utqay and Ch'utiy up off the ground, settling them on to his back. "Please, try to stay comfortable, Blood. I do not want to see you stress yourself."
Godspeed sighs, sheathing her falx, and nods her thanks as you help her up. "I'm fine," she says. "Just praying that we are finished with the hard part of it all… but I have a sense that that was the easy part."
She looks to Qhapaq. "I have certain equipment issued as part of my status as Exarch; you have little to worry about. The only thing it can't do is pour me a drink. What about you two? Are you feeling alright?"
Ch'utiy narrows her eyes as Qhapaq gives Utqay and her a ride. "If any of these ones feel strange… speak up."
Her finger glides far closer to the trigger of her lightgun than it should as she says these words.>>751248
Utqay shakes his head. "No, but these ones have heard much, far too much, of the power of the one they call 'Granpaw.' This one shall say little on the subject. Sorcerers have… many ways of hearing, and many ways of hexing.">>751243>>751244
You hear a most peculiar bouncing sound behind you…
Good looked around for the sound of the bouncing with a curious glance.
"Very well, Godspeed. If you are sure… and, I am feeling well, yes- any injuries I have will mend themselves in short order." he says, before giving Ch'utiy and Utqay a look.>>751251"It will be fine, Please, blood, trust."
Billy follows along with his gaze standing stiff from such.
[1d10] speedRoll #1 3 = 3
[1d10] speedRoll #1 6 = 6
Zamrud rotates his arm, wincing as he does so. "Feel like my arm may be due another treatment very soon, but other than that, I am fine. We all could have come out much worse. The only one missing in action appears to be Senorita, I'm hoping her armor allowed her to withstand the creature's attack."
He raises his brow. "That was the EASY part? The Egregore must be done tearing it to shreds by now, is there more?">>751251
"We've only just recently met Granpaw. He's certainly intimidating, but cordial enough from my experience. I have no desire to get on the bad side of a necromancer but he's been quite reasonable."
>Last time, on Anno Castra…>>751559>>751561>>751563
As you turn about, Good just barely manages to catch a glimpse of some shape
dart underneath a burnt and frozen chunk of asphalt. To Billy, it appears as if the sound were simply coming from nowhere in particular.>>751560
Ch'utiy keeps her lightgun at the ready, but after some consideration, slides her finger back away from the trigger. "Very well, bone.">>751564>>751560
Utqay only nods to Zamrud, having no wish to discuss Granpaw any further.
Godspeed rises, stretching herself out as she takes stock of the damage to her suit. "First, we must recover the Egregore, and hope that it is satiated from its rampages. Second… dealing with the Feoh. Granpaw's secret weapon levelled at least a city block. There's no way that Galdrar didn't notice that. He might come looking, especially with the fog having vanished. If he were to approach with ill intent, I doubt most of us are in any shape to fight back… to say nothing of the risk of a Clan scuffle from the Feoh stepping into Aya turf. Last but not least, his hostages…"
"Did you manage to see anything out here? I thought I heard something." Billy tries to look around darting his head left and right.
Zamrud nods, "I suppose he might… I had assumed originally their operation left little room for raiding parties, keeping to those crossroads looking for hapless passersby. But seeing an explosion of that magnitude might draw their interest. I am still prepared to do dealings with Galdrar, assuming he means to keep his word in exchanging the hostages for the Shadedrinker's remains… but we should prepare for the scenario he truly never meant to do business with us at all."
"It is unlikely Galdrar would come out here with the hostages, and would probably not leave many to guard them if he did. Assuming Galdrar is on his way here, we could keep him occupied under the pretense of our trade deal while someone else goes to release the Aya he's taken. I am not eager to fight him so soon after the Shadedrinker but we could at least keep him distracted."
"Though, last I recall he's not the only one who was interested in the Shadedrinker's remains. Your companions souls, are they…?"
Good nodded as he moved to the chunk of asphalt, using some of his surprising strength to lift it up to look underneath.
>"Though, last I recall he's not the only one who was interested in the Shadedrinker's remains. Your companions souls, are they…?"
Change this to:
"Though, last I recall he's not the only one who was interested in the Shadedrinker's remains. Granpaw asked for proof of its destruction as well in exchange for your companions' souls. How much do you think the Egregore left behind?"
"If he comes with ill intent, he will be dealt with." the griffon says, huffing a little and shaking his head. "Let us waste little time- find the… Egregore, and be on our way."
Underneath the chunk of asphalt, you see a donkey's skull, hopping through the power of some unseen force, as it tries to scuttle away to the next hiding-place, but it is far too late. It turns about, and you recognize it as Sancho's.
"Shit," is all he says.>>751570>>751567>>751571
Godspeed gives it some thought, before nodding to Qhapaq. "Right. I think the Egregore will prove the key to our success. Qhapaq, you and I should be the ones to confront Galdrar, with the Egregore between us. Perhaps with a bold and unflinching enough projection of force, he will have little confidence in any tricks or dirty dealings. He himself may be strong, and cruel, but I doubt even he is willing to risk sacrificing the lives of his underlings, cannon fodder though they may be."
Her segmented helmet folds over her head, and with a nod, she heads out with you.
Utqay and Ch'utiy, injured though they are, prepare to head out as well. "Bone,"
Utqay says. "These ones will recover your 'bot, and lie in wait, anticipating an attack from Galdrar. These ones are yet too bloodied to suffer a battle head-on."
>roll for speed in your search for the Egregore.
"Why are you down here Sancho?" Billy tilts his head at the placement of his acquaintance.
sacrificing the lives of his underlings on a fruitless endeavor*
>>751572"One of my companions could heal you, I am sure- please, do at least wait long enough to be mended a little."
he suggests, shaking himself out as the last of his injuries mends itself.>Accelerated Healing: Recover all Hits. If at full Hits, Recover 1 Wound. Passive Healing disabled.>Search roll: [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"Oh… hello Sancho, you seem to be… getting ahead in life~."
"I especially agree in using the Egregore as a bartering piece: I don't know whether it will be able to be used so soon after using it now, but all we need to hope for is Galdrar not knowing one way or the other either. We could use it to bluff our way to a reasonable agreement if we must: he can take what remains of the Shadedrinker, we take the hostages, or else the Egregore will have a second feast. Let's scan the area to see if there's anything else we should secure before his arrival."
As Utqay offers to recover Senorita, he nods, "I thank you. And yes, hiding would be good: he hasn't seen you two yet, he wouldn't know we brought back-up of our own. Here," he says, lifting up his rifle, "If I'll be dealing with Galdrar directly, a silent, long-ranged weapon will do me less good than one lurking from the shadows. Do you think you can use this?"
>After passing off his master-work rifle, he goes to search for the Egregore using his strained eyesight
[1d10-1] PerceptionRoll #1 7 - 1 = 6
[1d10+1] (+1 from robe) for Distill Life to share with the AyaRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Feeling tense from the earlier fight, Grutar remains as vigilant as a watchdog can be for any dangers.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Sancho clatters his teeth. "Well, after the battle subsided, I was gonna track you guys until you concluded I was dead, then pop out, all like, 'ta-daaah!' and we'd have this big reunion scene, and, uh…" he laughs awkwardly. "I had this whole sequence planned out, but you guys got some good hearing, I guess."
"Bad news is that blast had enough Astral energy to sever my 'glue' – the Astral stuff holding my bones together. Sorry, but I'mma have to hitch a ride with someone back to the snail farm. At least I stillcan provide insightful commentary.">>751576
Zamrud gets the sense that Ch'utiy would normally crack a joke at such an obvious question, but she takes the lightrifle and performs her checks as quietly and quickly as she can. With Galdrar in converstaion, the air has completely changed.
Utqay and Ch'utiy reluctantly calm down, and allow Zamrud to try to address their injures at Qhapaq's suggestion. Despite his attempts, it seems that their injures will require deeper treatment, probably using Tay's equipment. With that done, they nod to you, and dart off Eastward, where you last saw La Senorita.
You and Godspeed hustle out into the wreckage left behind in the Shadedrinker's wake. The destruction is at least a block long, but it is strewn South, across streets that flow largely from East to West. As such, toppled offices and uprooted streetlamps have knocked down their neighbors. Freeway overpasses and deep-buried pipelines mingle with long-faded crosswalks and parking lots. You pick your way over this chaotic gash, until you at last reach the dustbowl remains of what may have, at one point, been some manner of park.
At last, you see it, floating afore you: A white orb, with a squiggle of a mouth and two flat, thin-lined eyes, all as if scribbled on with pencil.
Grutar, almost involuntarily, turns about, glancing over the destruction's path that you just walked. He can distinctly sense something approaching…
"Well, you sure had me worried and surprised me here. So good job!" Billy gives a thumbs up before he bends down to be able to carry the Sancho back to the farm.
Grutar turns quickly in the direction he starts to notice something. Getting ahead of himself he gets his flamethrower ready for anything. "Somethin's comin' lads. Gonna keep the weapon ready in case it ain't one of ours."
Good snickered as he watched him get all huffy at the pun "You got a bone
to pick with me now Sancho?~"
As they head out into the rubble, Zamrud's eyes open wide with shock at the collective destruction. "Hmm… about an entire block has been leveled. I think we retreated with appropriate response, but it's admittedly smaller than I thought it might wipe out. Will be useful to keep in mind for next time."
As they eye the white orb, the skull-like features of the Egregore (presuming it's what it is) wiped out with the innocent, childish expression of the squiggly lines, Zamrud looks uneased, steadily approaching the orb as though it might be ready to take another bite. "For all our sake, I hope that means you're full…" He says as he steadily approaches with the chain
[1d10] To reclaim the Egregore (motioning for the others to stay back>>751582
"I well imagine it won't be, Grutar: keep your weapons primed, we may not be out of this yet."Roll #1 4 = 4
Qhapaq whirls around and ties his claw-gauntlets back on, just in case it's something hostile.>>751580
Qhapaq looks at the Egregore and frowns a little, saying "At least we have it back. Let us be gone, now."
"I'll recommend you to Granpaw if you keep up, colt!">>751581>>751583
Sancho hops onto Billy's shoulder, and as you see Grutar, Zamrud and Godspeed rush out southward, you join them, and see what they saw. (>>751580
Before Zamrud can approach the Egregore to try to tame it, the fur on the back of his head stands up.
You hear, from behind you, a soft humming.
With the path of destruction that the Egregore cleared, you can see their silhouettes. A vast shape, surrounded by no small number of others. Through the dust in the air and the deep darkness of the Outlands, they come into view, shade by shade. The earth softly rumbles as they approach.
When Galdrar at last stops, he continues to hum for a spell as the rest of the Tribals approach behind him, his vast and well-armored form a stark contrast with the thin and scrap-armored dregs of the Feoh.
At last his humming ceases, and silence falls between you.
"Speak quickly, Feoh. Have you come for the corpse? Take it, give me my blood, and go."
I look to Sancho that I have with me after seeing the white sphere creature. "Do you recognize this thing here?" I ask out loud to Sancho feeling unfamiliar with it.
Zamrud clicks his tongue as they arrive, narrowing his glare at Galdrar as he approaches. He flattens down the hair standing on his head, collects himself, and approaches the imposing bandit as he keeps a steady eye on the Egregore.
"Galdrar. Thank you for coming out here to meet us and saving us the walk back to the hospital." He says cordially before looking around, waving his hands about. "It wasn't easy, but we've done exactly what we said we would set out to do. The Shadedrinker's life is extinguished, and its remains are yours for the keeping to do with whatever you wish or sell to whomever you wish. I take it you remember our agreement when we set out from the hospital earlier this Cycle?"
[1d10] Alleycat: Instant; DC 4; Every alleycat develops a keen sense of where he or she should look for potential attackers. You can roll this to identify places in your immediate surroundings that would be relevant in combat, such as ambush spots, choke points, and good escape routes. Higher rolls can even anticipate incoming attacks.>Sensing dangerRoll #1 4 = 4
"Should I open fire now?" Grutar asks the others.
>Perception: Keeping eye out for sneak attacks.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Goods entire demeanor shifted as he looked at Galdrar with a look of barely concealed contempt and disdain on his features.
Galdrar slowly turns his head toward you, his expression unchanging. Then, just as slowly, he turns it back to where Zamrud stands. >>751590>>751587>>751589>>751591
Godspeed stands a bit before Zamrud, meeting Galdrar's gaze evenly. Grutar and Zamrud can sense the agitation among the Feoh who have formed up behind Galdrar. Most of the wretched bandits are eager to rush and gut you for your valuables, but are just as edgy and fearful. They finger their weapons, but not one of them dares to set foot forward for the fight.
"So I recall," Galdrar whispers. Each word shudders the air, and Godspeed and Sancho brace themselves to keep their balance.
A long pause follows. Then…
"I've heard tell that you have promised the remains to another," Galdrar whispers. "So, how much did you intend to spare for me? I've heard Granpaw does not like to share."
Godspeed tenses. Though she had whispered that information to Zamrud via Concord, it seems Galdrar knows it all the same.
Zamrud holds up a paw, "Not yet, Grutar… as of the moment, we're merely conducting business.">>751592
He shares a look with Godspeed, then Zamrud points his paw behind him at the floating white sphere. "The only thing we need is that orb. Everything else is yours for the taking. We were going to go through the trouble of digging through the rubble to collect every piece for you, but I can understand you brought your company on site to do just that. Allow us to collect the orb, our gear, and the hostages, and we shall leave everything else to you. It was quite the impressive monster, I think you'll be very satisfied with its remains."
He raises a brow, "I take it that's agreeable?"
[1d10] PurrrrsuasionRoll #1 8 = 8
Grutar nods to Zamrud, but keeps his flamer trained and lets his own growls do the trick for him.
>Intimidation to the bandits
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Qhapaq, knowing anything he said or did would just make this go poorly, stays silent.
Feeling sure of the capabilities of his group's negotiation abilities. Billy stands by close relaxed but keeps open an ear for anything he hasn't considered.
"You seem to have no qualms stealing from the less fortunate already you barbarian, so at this point why don't you just leave?"
Galdrar continues to fix you with his dark look. He shows little reaction to Good's insult, instead continuing to examine each of you in turn, always looking directly at you, dead center, not moving his eyes for even a moment.
"Vitki," he whispers, not even looking at the bandit.
"Yes, skull?" Vitki asks, running up to his side.
"Take three with you. Bring the merchandise."
Vitki nods eagerly, pulling a few of the bandits and heading back over the trails of destruction toward the Feoh camp.
"Never let it be said I am an unfair dealer," Galdrar whispers to you. "You folks just relax, while my people bring your goods."
You get a notification of a Concord message.
Billy just tries to follow the people who are leaving with his eyes. Curious about what they will be bringing back with them.
Good for his part looked like he was perfectly fine with removing the threat before them even with the group being battered and beaten.
"They are unharmed, I would hope."
Zamrud keeps a steady glare on the bandit, but nods his head as he tells his men to bring the 'merchandise'. He offers a smile, "And never let it be said I don't appreciate someone with a good sense for business. Thank you, I am glad we could come to an arrangement equally beneficial to each other." He looks around the area, "The Shadedrinker's death may change the political climate of this place a bit. If you don't mind my asking, do you intend to have your people stick around now that it's been made safer, or were you planning on moving on regardless?"
As the Concord message pops up, he takes a moment to look down at it and see what's been sent
Grutar takes some time to struggle and figure out how to pop open the message and see what it has.
"We go where and when the business is good," Galdrar says. "Even to Ironcastle, a far journey though it may be, if you should want our business.">>751602>>751601>>751600>>751599>>751603
The message, posted in your Concord's general chatroom, is from La Senorita. It appears that she has fewer troubles with text communications than with audible communications, but her Modern Equish AI still needs work and input.
>"Having trouble with mutant bandits?" she writes. "Oot-kay and Cha-oo-tee are in position, ready to shoot. Click here to install Ironcastle Software's Emissary-to-Concord Conversion Patch v.1.25.39."
After some time, Vitki and his bandits come back, and this time, you can see Nina and the other hostages with them, bound in chains, their possessions all unceremoniously tossed onto a half-broken wagon which one captive pulls with a yoke.
Galdrar, who didn't let his gaze leave you during that whole time, looks now most searchingly at Zamrud. "If you find everything satisfactory, I will take the Shadedrinker now."
Good quickly shot a message.
>Make the trade and stab them in the back before they have the chance to do it to us?
Grutar gets closer to Zamrud to whisper. "They may be bandits, but we aren't. I don't think It'd be right to back stab'em after gettin' all peaceful. I can still keep me eye on them."
Billy looks at his head and mentally shrugs not feeling any attachment to the bandits, but not feeling too trusting of senoritas plan without the input of the rest of his group.
"Your offer is appreciated, and should you ever find your way out there, I'll see what services might be available. But, I'll tell you in advance, things are done differently at Ironcastle than the Outlands.">>751604
Zamrud lets out a sigh of relief, responding shortly>"Relieved to hear from you Senorita, was concerned. Negative, tell them to take no action. Deal is going as arranged, leave them be."
As the others return with the hostages, he nods, looking around to the others as he assesses if anything else is needed. "Indeed. As I said, we need only the orb and your hostages. Your end of the agreement is fulfilled: take the Shadedrinker at your leisure."
"We only have one last piece of business here," he points with a thumb back where Sancho fell, "To collect the remains of one of our own who fell. Soon as we grab his bones, and we'll leave you to collecting the Shadedrinker.">>751605>>751606
He quickly shoots a message on Concord back>"Negative, young lord: they kept their end of the agreement. We shall keep ours until they give us reason not to: hostages are weak, unarmed, may be killed if we make any sort of attempt which defeats the purpose. They honored their agreement Good, let us not perform the very act we would accuse them of doing."
Qhapaq moves to inspect the hostages over, much more concerned to see if they're safe and healthy.>Roll to check?: [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"That's not what I heeeaaar," Galdrar says, cracking a very rare smile. "But I wouldn't know. I've never entered. I only hear what I hear.">>751611
Nina, perhaps not believing how well this is going, stops you. The hostages look a little dirty, and maybe a little hungry and cold, but they don't seem to have suffered any physical abuse.>>751609>>751608>>751607>>751606>>751611
Sancho, crawling out of Billy's equipment bag, clacks his teeth at Zamrud. "Eh, so this probably isn't the best time, but young Good here got me covered. I think we're good."
Galdrar looks about at your group. "So it seems. Well then, be on your way, Castle folk."
He turns about. "Oh, and – you'll tell your sharpshooters their services won't be necessary, won't you?"
"So long as you lads don't kill anyone, we'll be fine. Enough of them dreds goin' around and killin' both of us folk out here." Grutar warns Galdrar, showing he still has some bark in him.
Billy lightly moves in place wanting to get a move on.
Zamrud scoffs. "Another day, I might be curious to ask what rumors you 'hear', but for now I think I'll put a pin in that conversation.">>751612
As Sancho comes crawling out of Billy's bag, Zamrud looks down with surprise, blinking rapidly. "…well, I was hoping given the nature of your existence, you might be put back together Sancho… but I didn't think you'd be ready as soon as we found you! Have you been like this the entire time we were gone?">>751612
As he mentions the 'sharpshooters', Zamrud pauses, and he raises a hand nonchalantly. "If there are any in the area, I'll be sure to pass that message along to them." He turns towards the hostages, signalling everyone to collect them and then move back to the bunker. "Let's go, ladies and gentlemen."
"Oh get eaten by something bigger than you and save the world so this world improves." good spat as he seemed to just be done with this entirely now.
Qhapaq gently beckons Nina and the others over, watching the Feoh warily.
Save the world the trouble of you existing*
Sancho clicks his teeth. "Remind me to tell you of my plan later," he whispers. "We should get outta here first.">>751616
At last, Galdrar looks in your direction. As you spit out "existing," Galdrar softly shushes you.>>751613>>751614>>751615>>751616>>751617
With the deal concluded, Galdrar leads the Feoh away, humming and muttering strange words under his breath. Despite his whispering, his words yet rumble, and you can – not quite hear, but feel the words rumbling in your bones.
When at last he and the wretched Feoh are gone, you and your allies make all possible haste toward the Aya bunker, northward. Utqay and Ch'utiy meet you at the bunker doors, both leaning partly on La Senorita, who seems to have suffered moderate damage, mostly to her treads. Nina and the other merchants offer swift greetings to Utqay and Ch'utiy, but all seem far too agitated and tired for proper conversation.
When at last the bunker's armored doors slide open at the input of the guards…"Let's give our heroes a big welcome!"
At the door, Tay greets you with a large professional video camera propped on their shoulder, filming every moment. It seems most of the Aya of the bunker are gathered in the Commons, and most have some manner of drink in their hands or hooves. Tay's assistants lead the charge in a round of stomped applause and guttural tribal shouts, while Tay focuses on getting good angles on each of you.
"Let this one at least get on some makeup…" Nina complains.
Good all but stormed past as his mood was shot and at this point he was done with basically everyone but Billy and Sancho. Anyone who could see past his mask could see his eyes were hard and very, very full of anger.
Holding his arm somewhat tenderly, Zamrud moves with the group back towards the Aya bunker. As he looks on ahead, he sighs with relief at seeing both of the Aya hunters more or less safe and sound, along with an intact Senorita. He bids them all welcome as he approaches before the doors all open wide, revealing Tay and a huge crowd swarming the common area ready to meet them. Zamrud opens his eyes in wide surprise, not nearly expecting such a reception as he steadily approaches the common area, looking straight into the camera as Tay approaches. He offers a light grin, reaching up to rub the fur on top of his head. "Hah… I wasn't prepared for such a festive greeting. How did you all know we were successful? Surely Utqay and Ch'utiy couldn't have gotten here so far ahead of us?">>751620
Looking at Good as he storms past the crowd, Zamrud's eyes furrow a bit in concern at the colt. As they're swept up in the celebrations, Zamrud keeps a mental note to go after him after he's had a few moments to himself to reflect on this.
Billy stands tall in the back looking forward a bit surprised at the response. Unsure how to respond himself he blankly waves with a closed smile.
Qhapaq is a little too focused on ensuring that the rescued Aya are well enough to travel, offering any who aren't a ride on his back. By now, the griffon's more like an airbus than an apex predator, but he's fine with it.>>751619
"Ah! Hello, Blood! We have returned with the captured kin- some will need attention right away, but they all live!" he says, before looking to Utqay and Ch'utiy, and offering a smile- a little rare for the huge, sheepish griffon. "Thank you for helping. I did not want to see our blood hurt, nor see these hurt." he says, gesturing to the party.>>751942
"Thank you for the help, friend. I am lucky to have you." he says, setting a heavy set of claws on his shoulder.
>>751944"Think nothing of it,"
Utqay says. "We blood and bones fight and live as one corpse.">>751944>>751943>>751942
"The same way that I learned you were in danger during your first confrontation – the Divine Lots," Tay answers Zamrud. "I'm surprised that you guys didn't come to me for advice earlier, but, looks like you had it locked up even without my tips'n'tricks."
Ch'utiy and Utqay nod their thanks to Qhapaq, then carefully climb down, leading Nina and the other traders to the medical room. Tay passes off their camera to an assistant, following them. "Right, before we get too wild, we should tape you guys back together again, huh? Anyone who's injured, come with me.">>751620
Even the celebrating Aya can recognize your mood, and part way for you as you head into the bunker. One of the only quiet areas is the sauna changing rooms, surprisingly, and it is there, in the male changing room, that you find some respite.
From your bag, out crawls Trajan, laying a claw on your arm to try to comfort his squire.
"I always do appreciate some tips and tricks every now and then. A story doesn't go wrong from the saint seeking help." Billy nods to himself thinking back.
Good let out an annoyed breath as he all but threw his suit off. He took a few breathes to calm himself before gently petting the scorpion next to him.
"One of the few I can count on around here Trajan. Don't let it go to your head." he joked.
Zamrud smirks, giving a light shrug. "Funny, I was thinking of saying the same thing to you. I would say you did more to that beast than I did, and you took the brunt of its initial attack. How are you feeling?">>751945
"The Divine Lots…?" Zamrud asks, tapping his chin. "Now that you mention it, I didn't even stop to think earlier how you knew we were engaging the Shadedrinker. I supposed I just assumed your hunters were out on patrol and we were fortunate enough they passed us by. What are the 'Divine Lots'?"
As Tay leads them to the medical room, Zamrud grins and rubs his arm. "It's not nearly so bad as it was when I first came into your clinic, but I'm afraid the Shadedrinker favored my right arm once again."
"For the most part, yes. I am thankful for my vitality, as it let me survive within the mist for some time. Hopefully there are no lasting effects from it, though… mmh, I will deal with it.">>751948
Qhapaq gently pulls the Puros into a hug, before setting him back down and humming. "I feel… fine, I believe. It doesn't seem like there's any lasting effects from the Shadedrinker. I'm more concerned about you, though- your eyes seemed a little damaged… will you be alright, friend?"
Using his tail, Trajan also disengages the small custom Armorsuit your father commissioned for him, and grabs a clean washcloth from a nearby basket, which he puts about his thorax. Looks like he's ready to unwind.>>751948>>751946
"I can't tell you a whole lot, being you're not from our corpse," Tay says as you walk. "But, Billy has the right idea. The Lots let the Diviners – myself, and others – hear more clearly what our Ancestors wish to tell us. Things from our future, our present, and our past. You guys came up earlier during my routine readings – and I asked about your fight's second round not long before you came back.">>751949>>751948>>751946
Once you get to the medical rooms once more, Tay summons their assistants, and once more they begin the process of treating your various injuries and wounds.
During your treatment, Nina raises her hoof to you. "We shall fix your armor, and any damaged equipment, free of charge, from now on. 'Tis a small thing in repayment for purchasing our freedom, so if there is aught else with which we may aid, hesitate not to ask for it."
Good found it charming as he entered the Sauna and set up in a far corner with a towel so he could quietly relax.
"Why thank you." Billy smiles as he hands over his items that faced wear and tear in the battle. With all his items off him. He decides to pick up his translation of his weird book hoping to learn a new spell or upgrade his current understanding of the first one.
Zamrud's eyes open wide as he's pulled into a hug, awkwardly standing and allowing himself to be embraced as he reaches around to pat the griffon's back. "Ah… there there, my friend…" As he's released, he winces, reaching up to rub at his eyes.
"Ah, my eyes will be fine. It's just a side effect of straining their mutation. I can enhance their vision significantly, which proved useful in locating the Shadedrinker, but it leaves my sight more than a bit fuzzy afterwards. I'll be better by tomorrow, take no concern.">>751950>>751950
"I… see." Zamrud says in response, not entirely sure how credulous this method of foresight sounds, but results speak for themselves. "If you wouldn't mind, could you show me these Lots? I would be interested in seeing them put into action."
As Zamrud hops up on the medical slab, he allows the assistants to have a go at his arm, wincing at every pull and prod they go into on it. "I have already returned the rifle I rented to Utqay, I presume he can return it to the armory for me. I admit I'll be sad to see it go, it was quite the weapon. Perhaps I could purchase a cheaper one to take back with me before I depart."
"Thank you, Nina. I'm just glad you and the others are safe." he says- waiting in the room less out of a need to be patched up, and more to stay with his friends.>>751953
"Very well. Hopefully we do not need to strain you too much more often." he says, before thinking a little bit and leaning in close to whisper "Didn't you want me to introduce you to one of the Aya? I believe it was Nina, yes?" he asks, gesturing to her.
Owing to the party atmosphere, there's nobody in the male sauna, so you and Trajan have the run of the place. Trajan fairly quickly unwinds a bit too much, and lays there, half-asleep, enjoying the heat.>>751953
"Let me see what I can have arranged," Nina says.>>751953
Tay shakes their head. "I cannot. You're asking a… lot
more than I can provide. The only one of your number I could show is our bone, Qhapaq.">>751952
You get in some quick studying of the formulae and diagrams associated with the first crystal spell. You learn that the words of power associated with this form of magic tend to be quite prideful, and will not answer the spellcaster if there is even the slightest mispronounciation.>>751953>>751952>>751954https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZugkxi_b8o
Over the course of about an hour or so, the healing gel and cauterizations have done their work, leaving you a bit sore and stiff, but healthy once more. One of the more mechanically-inclined Aya (judging by the oil stains and small burns on his overalls) wheels in your equipment on a cart, it all having been patched up.
Tay sits back in their chair, spinning about a bit. "Phew! Okay, I'm done for the Cycle. You get hurt again, you're on your own."
Good himself was of a similar mindset as he actually got a chance to finally unwind his physical tension. He would leave the emotional issues til later.
"Ah- apologies, Zamrud. Things such as the Divine Lots are rather secretive."
Billy smiles at this new information he finds. He decides to put it to practice by reading out loud the first spell he has to attempt and see if there is a noticeable change.
"Yes, frankly I hope as much as well. Think my eyes could use a break…"
As he leans into whisper, he turns towards Nina, blinking towards her as he nods his head, "Ah, yes, I do seem to recall asking you that. Indeed, if you think you'd be up to it, I want to make sure she's feeling alright following her capture.">>751955
After being healed up, he nods his head towards Nina, and says, "And, while I greatly appreciate the offer of free services, I insist you let us pay recompense somehow. We were simply assisting our fellow adventurers of the Outlands, and surely you're in as much need of resources as we would be."
"On that subject, how are you feeling? I did not get much opportunity to speak after you were delivered safely, I pray the Feoh treated all of you decently… as one could expect from them, anyhow?">>751955>>751957
As Tay shakes their head, and Qhapaq further explains, he sighs, but nods his head. "I understand. I am DEEPLY curious now but I won't ask either of you to break your customs on my curiosity's behalf. I shall simply have to say for now it is rather efficient. Could I ask you to ask it questions for me?"
With careful effort, you manage to pronounce the words perfectly and slowly, and the spell activates without hesitation, covering you in a barrier of crystal. The assistants are impressed, commenting in the Aya tongue as they poke at the barrier with curiosity.>>751959
"They were not so foolish as to damage the merchandise," Nina says. "I'd say they mistreated their own worse than us. The most I could complain of was that they did not let me charge my tablet.">>751957>>751958>>751959
Tay nods. "Sure. This is what I had intended to offer you if you had come to me before slaying the Shadedrinker. I can ask questions on your behalf, but should the Ancestors not provide an answer, or one that I can relay, then that's that."
Godspeed, who had skipped out on the treatment of injuries (owing to whatever mechanism might have healed her earlier wounds), enters the medical room. Instead of her armor, she wears a light robe, and her mane is somewhat damp. She's eating a peculiar dark red root, as well. "Say, are you going to stay in here forever? I cannot say for certain, but it seems the Aya here wish to honor the brave hunters, and you are making them wait.">>751956
Before you can drift off to sleep, someone knocks on the door, but does not enter the sauna. If you should choose to open it, you will find a basket of deep red roots sitting at the threshold of the sauna chamber.
Smiling I try searching for changes with the barrier itself and poking at it.
Good was silent and opened the door, slugishly pulling them over and looking at them, giving one of the roots a sniff as he did so before taking an exploratory nibble.
Qhapaq chuckles a little bit and shrugs, before saying "Right. Let us not waste time, and go to the celebration. Would you like to come as well, Nina? Provided you're well enough to come along.">>751959>>751960
"Hmm… a decent enough approach, yes."
Zamrud smirks, "Well, as unforgivable a crime as that may be," he says in regards to the tablet, "I imagine other prisoners have been through worse. I am glad to hear you and the others were relatively unharmed, though I assume the same couldn't be said of most of your merchandise. That was 'your' caravan we saw on the road, wasn't it?">>751960
"I would have some to ask…" Zamrud says to Tay, extremely curious about some of the details of the area and this bunker, but his thoughts are disturbed as Godspeed comes in to the medical bay. He raises a brow as she mentions the reception eagerly awaiting them. At this, he turns to Tay, "BUT, it would appear we're keeping our audience waiting. I'll return once we've placated the masses." He says with a chuckle, stepping off of the bed to walk towards Godspeed, "Hope they don't mind me looking a tad rugged. Perhaps I should have hit the showers rather than the med-bay."
He nods towards Nina and Tay to come along. "Care to join us? If it weren't for you Tay I imagine half of us would not even be here."
Roll #1 1 = 1
It doesn't seem like there are any significant differences from your previous successful uses with the spell, more that a perfect pronunciation is required for its use in the first place – a potential challenge in the heat of battle.>>751962
For a root, it's surprisingly juicy, and is a bit like a soft apple in terms of texture and density. The juice is tangy and sweet, and Trajan climbs up your arm to your shoulder, clearly enticed by the sweet smell.>>751964
"Unfortunately, yes, that was many Turnings' worth of scavenging that they now keep for themselves. We managed to come away alive, and still in possession of our personal belongings. But, such is the law of conquest. By the aid of the Ancestors, we shall strengthen ourselves, and take from them twice over in war.">>751964
Godspeed seems to say something, but instead–
"Someone certainly doesn't mind," you hear Tay murmur with a chuckle.
What or who they meant, you cannot tell.>>751963>>751961>>751964
Tay nods. "Let me get my camera crew and I'll follow right after you."
Nina cheers up a bit as you invite her, and she motions for her fellow merchants to come along as well.
When you come back out from the medical rooms, the celebrating Aya direct you to head down the elevators to the west. After the elevator takes you down a level, you head east through the halls, then north, into a large and segmented dining-area. It's divided between some large communal eating rooms, and several booths inside small rooms for privacy and soundproofing. Toward the back is a bar and grill, with many large monitors.
Already many Aya are seated and eating, their fare consisting of an interesting mixture: fresh caught meats, served in a variety of ways, soups and salads of mysterious plants, as well as the occasional official Ironcastle ration. The bunker must have had quite a stock stored up.
Godspeed glances at Zamrud, then at the bar, then at Zamrud, saying nothing as she retains her usual stoic silence.
He broke a few bits off and set it down next to him so the little scorpion could enjoy some for himself. He had to admit that despite having known him for such a short time, he had grown quite fond of his dear scorpion.
Billy clicks his tongue at the realization. Bill stands up and makes sure to stand close to the rest of his companions feeling unsure how to handle cameras alone.
"Mmm… quite a good spread, yes." the griffon says, picking himself up a plate of a little bit of everything- meat, soup, salad, and whatever drink he can find. >>751966
"Everything alright, Godspeed?"
Zamrud nods in sympathy to Nina. "An unfortunate loss, to be sure, but I would say coming out of it with your lives and well-being intact should be counted as a blessing. You'll rebuild and grow stronger than you were before - you are thinking ahead, which here in the Outlands greatly increases your chances of survival. Still, I'm sorry we could not help you to recover more… we were not in the best position to bargain.">>751966>>751969>>751968
Zamrud turns towards Tay, curious what she means by that, but is pulled along too quickly by the group towards the awaiting crowd as they push forwards. "If you say so…"
As they reach the elevators and go down towards the dining area, Zamrud's nose catches the scene of some delicious barbecue, but also the whiff of some amazing herbs and meats used to spice up the soups. He's drawn towards the bar and grill, his stomach aching as he shakes his head.
"Ah, you know, I'm realizing it's been a while since we've sat down to a decent meal… and frankly the scents here have my absolute attention. Let's start this off with a bite and a drink, shall we? I'd like to see if I could learn a thing or two about Aya cuisine while I'm here." He waves everyone (including Nina/Godspeed) towards the restaurant. "And I believe I owed someone here a drink as well, didn't I?"
Despite his earlier enthusiasm, Trajan eats the root slowly and with poise, befitting a noble knight. When at last he is done, he exits the sauna, going back to the changing room, where a vending machine awaits. This one only serves water. Trajan looks up at the vending machine, puzzling out how he's going to order something.>>751968
As you ponder this, Sancho wriggles out from your bag, observing the party atmosphere. The Aya show no especial reaction to the sight of an autonomous skull, with some even greeting him as they might a passerby on the street. "Pick me up a plate and somethin' to sip on, yeah?" Sancho asks you. "I can feed myself, it's just carryin' it back to the table that's gonna be a problem.">>751969
Her gaze bounces from the bar to you – then off to the side. "All is well, thank you."
An obvious lie.>>751970
"You accomplished a task that even Galdrar was unwilling to attempt – why do you think he sent you to do it? When I heard what you agreed to, I thought at least one of you would go to your death. But, you survived and freed us. Let us thank our own Ancestors, and yours, for that.">>751968>>751969>>751970
Nina, glancing at Godspeed, smirks and sits a bit further down from your group at the bar. You, along with Godspeed, sit at the counter, and place your orders through Qhapaq's translations. It's on the house tonight – in part for saving their kin, and in part for clearing the dangerous fog that surrounded the bunker, allowing the Aya to move on once they have accomplished all that they wished to at this bunker.
As you sit down, Tay and their camera crew set up toward the back, but don't try to bother you too directly.
Godspeed takes her drink (a suspiciously-glowing martini), and raises it. "Shall we start with a toast?"
Good chuckled and hopped up and slowly made his way out, grabbing a schilling from the outfit and getting his companion a cup of water.
Billy nods in response to Sancho's words. Grabbing himself a plate and one for Sancho as well by filling them both with food. Breathing a happy sigh Billy takes a seat and has Sancho's seat next to him and began to eat.
"I did not intend to sacrifice any of our number when we went to go fight it… but, I was prepared for the possibility. That we all came out of it more or less unscathed truly is a miracle as well. With exception to poor Sancho, but, at least he's still with us.">>751971
Zamrud asks for a fish stock soup if they have it, feeling particularly strongly on some kind of water-faring creature for dinner but will be happy with anything they have to offer. Soup he finds preferable though for easy of eating, and finding himself still drawn to the aroma.
In addition, he orders a martini same as Godspeed, taking a moment before sipping to nod in approval at Godspeed's idea. "An excellent idea. Now, what to toast to… seems fairly obvious to me." He raises his martini glass to hers, "A toast to a successful delivery. A toast to evils vanquished. A toast to lost souls returned safely home. And a toast to our continued well-being in spite of certain peril." He clinks his glass to hers, smiling. "Cheers?"
"Please, I am not quite that dull. Is it the drink? Or, is it something else?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.
He translates the orders to the bartender, before taking his own drink and stretching about a little. "A toast? Sure, I suppose. To blood saved, and a foe vanquished. Cheers."
"Cheers," Godspeed and Sancho echo, and they clink their glasses together – well, Sancho does in spirit anyway. Even if he hadn't ordered the tallest mug of ale possible, moving it with his mouth would be difficult.
The Aya running the bar bring out your food and drinks, and someone puts on one of Tay's cheesy crime drama films – starring them as the detective protagonist, as per usual.>>751975
After a deep sip of her drink, Godspeed looks back to you. "…Matters pertaining to Zinccastle will soon pull me away from here. I do not know when I shall be able to see you all again, or if ever we shall meet again… Zinccastle may be the closest of the Castra to Ironcastle, but the roads are long, and treacherous, as you know.">>751973
Sancho digs in, ordering a plate almost exclusively of meat. The food vanishes as he chews it, mysteriously and mercifully.>>751974
One cheeky bartender appears to have drawn cat's whiskers and a little half-diamond nose on your martini glass.>>751972
Trajan sips at the water as he wipes his carapace down with the washcloth. By his sluggish movements, it is clear that he wants little more now than a place to sleep… but rooms have not been assigned.
He did his best to make a small bed for him out of a towel and a washcloth blanket before heading back in to snack and probably nod off in the Sauna.
Billy approves Sancho's appetite. Mimicking him by wolfing down his mix of veggies, fruits, bread, meat, and likely a few utensils as well. Billy isn't a picky eater.
Zamrud smiles as he sips his drink, taking a moment to look at the little 'cat whiskers' on his glass with amusement. He takes a moment to snap a photo using his magicomp to post to Concord later, before looking at Sancho with his massive mug. "Sancho, if you don't mind my asking… will that ale even go anywhere?" He says, noting the distinct lack of a neck or body for poor Sancho. >>751976
As the classic detective film comes on, Zamrud looks on with interest, rubbing his chin. "Tay certainly has a thing for old cinema… I don't think I'm familiar with this one in particular, where do you think he gets these? They couldn't possibly be all the way back from the Old World, could they?"
Qhapaq nods a little bit, taking a drink from his mug. Unsurprisingly, the griffon's mug is about as large as it can be. He's happy to see the movies featuring Tay, and seems rather interested in it.>>751976
"I… see. I understand the hesitation, now. I imagine it's things you can't speak of to us, yes?" he says, cocking his head to the side. "But… it will be sad to see you go. It has been pleasant having you around."
Trajan quickly starts to doze off as you leave him, but as you go back into the sauna to finish dozing off, you hear a familiar voice.
"I would not suggest that," La Senorita says. "Sleeping in – sauna – presents risk of dehydration. Suggestion – try our – hotel rooms."
You turn back, and see her peeking her head in, having pushed the door open with the barrel of her gun. Owing to her large size, she's basically stuck in the hallway, unable to complete the tight turn needed to enter.>>751978>>751979
Like with the food, the ale that Sancho sips (by hopping to the top of the glass and sticking his bony snout into it) vanishes into places unknown.
"Don't worry about me, skinny. I can pack away a meal just fine.">>751979>>751980
"Well, this one appears to be an original," Godspeed says as she watches Tay play the role of hardboiled private eye on the screen. "But, they must have come across quite a collection of flicks somewhere, to have gotten such a curious love for a medium seen only in the Castra.">>751980>>751979
Godspeed studies her drink for a while. "There are… certain matters of which I would speak to you. But not here, and not now. We still must complete the final step: Delivering the Egregore back to Granpaw, so that I might ransom back my own companions. When that is done… we'll see what I can say."
She knocks back the rest of the martini in a single gulp.
"Uh… we don't have rooms I think. I guess I could share one with your and Trajan though."
Billy smiles and raises his own drink as he brings it up and downs it. Following the example of Sancho.
Last time, on Anno Castra…
Our explorers took the well-deserved rest that had awaited them at the end of their hunt of the Shadedrinker. While Zamrud, Qhapaq, Grutar and Billy went drinking with Godspeed and Sancho, Good spent some time in the sauna with Trajan. La Senorita arrived to warn him of the danger of falling asleep in the sauna, and advised that he take a room in the bunker barracks.
Zamrud stares at Sancho's disappearing ale with bewilderment, giving a mere shrug of the shoulders as he takes another sip of his martini, relishing the taste and relaxing for what feels like the first time in days. "Well, just don't make yourself sick."
As Godspeed comments on the movie, he taps his chin looking at the interesting flick play out, "So I can see… then where I must ask did he find the time to make so many home movies out here? The production isn't bad by original standards, is there a studio somewhere in this bunker? Feel like I still have so many unanswered questions around this bunker, not the least of which was their dealings with whoever gave them so many Hearts from IronCastle…">>751981
He listens further as Godspeed mentions there being things she wishes to speak on, to which Zamrud raises an eyebrow. "If you wish to wait until you're ready before discussing it, then by all means, but things seem fairly calm as they are."
As she knocks back the entirety of her martini, Zamrud's eyes open wide, commenting. "…you should probably slow down, you'll make yourself sick drinking like that. And these are drinks to be savored."
"Hrm… perhaps there are other trades that go on- it's difficult to say, for sure. Maybe he'd be willing to answer, at some point." he says, humming a little bit.>>752307
"Maybe alcohol doesn't affect her as much? Some are more accustomed to liquor."
"Nah, just me and my computer."
You turn, and note Tay standing not far from you, while an assistant holds their camera. They seem to be getting B-roll footage. "The Divine Lots foretold you'd have an interest in my filmmaking.">>751997
Sancho hops down from his drink, and gnaws away at his food, which disappears just as neatly and without a trace as his drink. "Oof, if only Granpaw knew how to celebrate like these folk do. They sure can cook! I haven't had much else besides mushrooms in… must be decades now.">>752308>>752307>>751997
Godspeed seems unaffected by her quaffing of the entire drink in a single sip. "It'll take more than this to get me under the table. I've tried."
"Sounds to me like you're asking for a drinking competition," Sancho says.
"You do have such an imagination," Godspeed retorts. "Can you even get drunk?"
"Eventually, but I've got years of Granpaw's lampshine under my belt, Miss," Sancho answers. "Even with just a skull, I can out-drink all of you.">>751982
La Senorita's gun barrel retreats, but the flap on her chassis's front remains open. You hear a metal clacking, and out slides a key with a card attached to it. The card reads "A-18," and below it, in subscript, "2 bedroom, 2 bath."
"Mmm, I see. So, the computer handles some of the filming, then? That's interesting." he asks, still a little lost.>>752309
"I expected as much, Godspeed. You didn't seem like a… what's the term… lightweight. And-" he turns to Sancho "-I do not like to drink too much, so I will take your word for it." he says, nodding to the skull on the table."
"We'll find out more once I've had a chance to look into this individual… I've never been under the impression there were no deals made under the table with Ironcastle. Drugs, supplies, every so often these things will leak out. But light from the Heart, in such great supply? One must be particularly high up the chain of command to arrange such a thing.">>752309
As Tay suddenly speaks up behind them, Zamrud turns around in his chair, setting his drink down as he smiles at Tay. "Ah, Tay. Delighted you could join us."
He nods his head. "Quite, one question has already been answered: you're able to make all of that-" he points at the movie playing, "Just using your computer? Where is the set?">>752309>>752311
Zamrud chuckles at Sancho, "If you're trying to goad me into a drinking contest, I'm afraid I'll have to concede early. I don't believe in getting truly under the table unless I'm closer to home. Besides," he raises his glass again, "These are fine drinks, terrible to rush, don't you think?"
As Godspeed comments on her being able to take it, Zam nods his head. "I see. Still, it's been a long day. I'd say best not to risk it too much."
"Ah…" Tay says. "No, I just edit on the computer. It's like, how would I descri… oh! Like building a mask. Cutting the material, touching it up, makin' it pretty, and puttin' it all together.">>752314
"A lot of it's recordings from our past travels," Tay says. "Any scene with the sky, it's probably at least three or four of our family's migrations I'm stitchin' together before I put in all the characters. Can you believe they used to use these things called 'green screens' to totally fake all the backgrounds and stuff? I don't do that – just good old fashioned cinematic trickery.">>752311>>752314
Sancho looks on with disbelief as all but Godspeed explicitly turn him down. "You're joking… I don't know any of you people."
Godspeed snorts, and stops to savor this second martini. "You may find some competition among the rest of the Aya, if you're bold enough to venture out on your own."
"I'm plenny brave, but I don't know what I'll do if they challenge me to a wrassle…" Sancho says.
"Ah! I see, I see. That makes much more sense now." the griffon says, bobbing his head.>>752315
Qhapaq shrugs a little, before saying "I'm not joking, no. Drinking contests are not typically something I enjoy doing. I drink to relax, and to spend time with friends."
"Fascinating…" Zamrud says as he looks at the screen. "Is it all edited by hoof…? I can hardly tell it's spliced together from other recordings."
"Do you pick up any cinematography techniques from other movies? I was curious, seeing so many of these I must imagine you must have gotten inspiration from other films, do you have a collection?">>752315
"I'm afraid that's just how it is with Qhapaq and I. More casual drinkers, sadly. If you're looking for a real challenge though, I can find Grutar for you. That is a dog who'd take you up on your offer readily. Billy or Good might too but I think it best not to have them drinking so much."
As he brings up wrestling, Zamrud smirks. "You could head-butt them?"
Oh… Well good. Thats nice. Hopefully I don't need to split it with Zam or Qhapaq." He muttered.
"Yeah, and they can combo me!" Sancho protests. "What does a headbutt combo into, a bite? That's a totally different fighting-style, cat! They'd hang me up like a trophy…">>752318
"Oh, yeah, we've come across a lot of holo-discs and even classic film reels in our migrations," Tay says. "Trottic Thunder, Bat to the Future,
series, Mean Fillies, Forrest Goat, Aponecalypse Now, Spider-Mare, Fyrdag the 13th…"
All films you recognize from the media catalogue that comes preinstalled on your magicomps. Some, made by Ironcastle directors, while others originated from other Castles. Godspeed listens in, frowns, and has another sip of her drink.>>752316>>752318
Utqay and Ch'utiy, still a bit bandaged, but otherwise walking steadily, approach. "This one wishes to know how the small skull puts away so much drink,"
Utqay says. "And to put his capabilities to the test.">>752320
"I will – deliver – keys – for – separate rooms are recommended for young couples for the sake of –"
La Senorita cuts her rampant voice line short, then attempts to back out, only to bump into the hallway. She rolls forward and gets stuck in the doorway. "Assistance – requested."
I'll take you if you need a room Senorita. You or Billy." He said as he walked over, doing his best to try and help her so she could get out.
"A single good headbutt would not need a combo." The griffon states, humming in thought. "Though, perhaps it's understandable to be worried. You have a good head on your shoulders." Qhapaq says, trying a joke on for size.>>752321
"I haven't watched many films, myself. Is there a way I could… copy some of them? Borrow them somehow, without depriving you of them?" He asks Tay.
"It could combo into another head-butt, I suppose?" Zamrud chuckles, taking another sip of his drink. "On the topic of your body, we tried to recover what we could of your body, but Grandpaw be able to fix you up with them?">>752321
"Quite a collection. The next time we may find ourselves by, I'll try to bring you what I can from IronCastle's library, I'm certain we have quite a few more we can add to it. If you don't mind my asking, what's the oldest movie in your possession?"
His keen eye catches as Godspeed frowns and turns back to her drink, pausing to ask, "Is everything alright?">>752321
As Utqay and Ch'uity approach, Zamrud smiles and taps the head of Sancho. "There, see? If you want spirited competition, you shall have it. Though I do think Grutar would be interested in this."
Billy tries to peer over to check out the titles of films he hasn't watched. As he found himself behind in the movie industry.
Tay gasps. "Piracy!?
Qhapaq, how could you? You should take them from me in battle like all true Aya do!">>752324
Sancho glares at you, then leaps up to give you a (very light) headbutt. "Yeah, real clever there, numbskull.
"Yeah, and even if you're missing a vertebra or a rib here or there, I'm not above taking on a graft. I'm just glad most of those bones are still intact.">>752329
"Huh?" Sancho says, before Utqay scoops him up. "Come, and let us drink our fill, for soon we perish,"
Utqay says, ferrying Sancho away.
"I only got a few words of that, but I heard drink, so it's on your tab!" Sancho says.>>752329
Tay answers. "One of the first-generation reels, too. You'll have to kill me and cut me open for the key to the vault I've got it in."
"Just a feeling of nostalgia, made stronger by drink," Godspeed says. "I grew up watching some of those. Some probably I shouldn't have been.">>752333
In fact, every single one of those movies is pre-installed on your Magicomp. You could watch them at any time, albeit on a much smaller screen than what Tay could provide with all the computers laying around the bunker.>>752322
You help La Senorita get unstuck, and she turns her head about, and rolls off toward the elevators. Trajan remains asleep on his makeshift bed, curled up next to his armor and favorite sword.
Good took a moment to throw on his own armor, gently scooping up his knightly companion and doing His best to catch up with his treaded metal friend.
Billy makes a note to watch and binge films when he is all alone. At least when he needs time away from his book."Quite the large collection. Do you have any favorites from here?" Billy pokes for a recommendation.
"P-Piracy? N-No, I don't intend to steal." the griffon says, ruffling his wings and looking around nervously. "I will battle if I must… I did not intend to thieve, I apologize.">>752334
The griffon almost doesn't react to the headbutt- almost! He chuckles softly when he's bonked in the head.
Zamrud smiles as they come to scoop up Sancho, clarifying for them, "They heard your brazen challenge for a drink-off, and no Aya can turn down a challenge. I wish you all luck in your endeavor," Zamrud says as he takes another drink of his martini, finishing it off as he humbly requests another. "I'll be going at my own pace here.">>752334
Zamrud shakes his head, "That's quite alright, I don't think I'll be needing to do that. Though that is an impressive feat, I've only seen snippets of that piece in records. An original strip, by this age it might even be one of a kind. Where did you pick it up? I've honestly been a little curious about the area itself, there's something… peculiar about it that I've not had time to think much about."
To Godspeed, he nods. "I'm not as big a fan as Tay of cinema, but I've seen a fair share of those as well. Growing up, I was expected to watch 'classics' as part of my education, but I found more enjoyment from some less reputable ones I watched with the King's sons." He flattens on ear. "What makes you say you shouldn't have seen some? Too sad?"
"The Griffon who Stole Hearths' Warming!!"
Tay answers. "The original animated version, though. Not the… live-action one… we don't talk about that one."
Tay snorts and nods. "That's right, buster. I'll see you over at the arcade cabinets in an hour. As the challenger, to you goes the honor of picking the game.">>752339
Tay stops to think for a moment. "What was the term in your language…? Oh, right: Hallowwood."
Godspeed laughs in her soft huh-huh-huh,
a laugh made old and deliberate from what sound like years of disuse. "No, the same as you. Too raunchy, too violent, too crass. Yet, I couldn't look away. I always had to shut off my comp when the priests and nuns of the Abbey came to check on us… they should have really just confiscated those things.">>752335>>752336>>752337>>752339
At the far end of the bar, the elevator opens again, and out rolls Good and La Senorita, whose gun barrel has retracted. She rolls toward you, but is stopped frequently by Aya who wish to poke and prod and question her as she nears them. Owing to her service-oriented programming, she stops to chat many times.
Good dimmed the visor on his helmet and killed the Mic so he could roll his eyes and groan in peace as he rather wished to just get to his room right now.
"Oh… arcade cabinets? Alright, I suppose." he says, still rather confused.>>752340>>752341
Qhapaq looks away from Tay, Zamrud and the others, offering the stallion a little wave as he steps out of the elevator.
Billy smiles naively. Ignorant of the unknown horrors in live-action films. "I will be sure to check it out." Billy makes an exclusive note on his electronic device to grab the movie when he can.
>>752340>Checking Knowledge roll results before responding to Tay
Zamrud laughs, a quiet, subdued chuckle as he shakes his head. "I really shouldn't have been watching them with the boys thinking back on it, one of the King's sons were definitely too young, but it was quite the comedy, I dared to watch it to the end and promise to never let the Princes' father hear of it. I can only imagine the Abbey is even more strict on that sort of thing."
He taps his chin, "I think my favorite movies were always spy movies. Particularly the ones with a suave, competent, confident debonair to him, you know the one who always simultaneously saves the world and falls in love with a new girl every film?">>752340>>752341
As Good and Senoria roll out of the elevator, Zamrud spots the boy despite his attempts to hide himself with his helmet. He holds up his martini, calling out to Good, "Young lord, there you are. Care to join us for a drink?" He says, offering the underage colt a chance to partake of alcohol.Roll #1 8 = 8
There was no response from the foot.colt that they could see. He glanced at the two but turned his head only to Billy and gave him a wave.
Hallowwood – like Oath, another Old World settlement, this one particularly noted for its partial collapse into vast sink-holes, full of a radiant substance of a most mysterious kind. It seems to have once been some kind of media and cultural hub for the Old World, however, going by the vast heaps of broken technology found there.>>752345
"Huh-huh-huh," Godspeed laughs, now leaning over the bartop, the martini glasses stacking near her. "Is that who you model yourself upon?">>752341>>752342>>752343>>752345
La Senorita eventually disentangles herself from her newfound fans, and rolls up to you, offering each of you a key with a card on one end. You've all been given your own rooms, but each are, notably, 2-bed, 2-bathroom rooms, allowing you to bunk with another if you are so inclined.
"Lodgings for – this – Cycle," La Senorita explains. "I will be your designated driver. Please turn over all car keys and weapons."
"I don't… think we're… that drunk yet," Godspeed says, taking each word deliberately and cautiously.
Billy happily gives a wave back to Good. How are you doing?" Billy is curious about his situation.
"Don't worry, I've only had a single drink… and, I can't really turn over my weapons." the griffon says, looking at his claws passively.>>752348
Qhapaq frowns, retracting his wave and letting his ears droop a little bit.
Good nodded "I'm doing well. I enjoyed a stay in the sauna by myself. If you wish to share a room Billy I am more than happy to share."
"That is very kind of you. I am happy to take you up on that offer." Billy beams a smile to join his friend.
"I'll look forward to having a nice chat."
Zamrud nods to Tay, "That's quite a journey, but clearly it was worth it. I'm surprised it managed to survive for this long in the first place, how long ago was this? And, on that topic, if you don't mind my asking: how old is this bunker?">>752350
Zamrud, trying to look as cool as possible, takes his newest martini class and casually stirs it around with a nail from his claw, smirking. "Well, I would never dare to presume I could ever live up to Mr. Jack Bond himself, but why not? Cool, collected, saving the world and getting the girl, it's a classic role model. The rifle earlier made mee feel particularly reminiscent of him." He takes a slow sip from the martini, grinning. "Call me Bahasa. Zamrud Bahasa.">>752350>>752348
As Good passes him by, Zamrud lets out a sigh, taking another sip of his martini as he says plainly. "Another time, perhaps."
He looks to Senorita as she comes over to collect their weapons and keys, Zamrud chuckles, waving his paw, "Left my gear when I was being examined by the doctor, and I don't have any keys to worry about. But thank you, Senorita, that's exceedingly responsible of you." As she passes out the keys and cards, he looks at them, nodding as he tucks it away in his pocket. "The bunker's hospitality really is without equal across all the places I've been to in the Outlands. I'm much appreciative for a warm bed over a campsite tonight."
A somewhat contemptuous "Yeah right." Was the response as he continued to focus on Billy. He seemed to be disagreeing for the sake of it more than anything else."
"Dunno about the bunker, but I got my haul of films back there about… two years ago, give or take.">>752358
Godspeed snorts again, nearly falling from her chair as she laughs at your performance of the cool, suave spy. "You… you… dork. You would be his biggest fan, wouldn't you."
She sets her hoof on your forepaw. "Well, mister… Zamrud Bahasa. You've saved some lives. Not exactly the world, but a start. What about getting the jane?">>752353
"Please keep in mind the symptoms of alcohol poisoning," La Senorita replies.>>752352>>752353>>752354>>752358
"Activating vocal tone analyzers," La Senorita adds after passing out the room keys. "Analyzing… results disconcerting. Communication is key for team cohesion. Please talk."
"I am kinda confused on what the issue is here? Did I miss something?" Billy tilts his head towards Good. Not looking for an answer from the machine.
He took the keycard "Who the hell puts a tonal analyzer in a combat robot." He grumbled as he snorted dismissively.
As is he was about ready to storm off again save for the fact he really didn't want to go and upset Billy right now.>>752361
"Let us say that I am quite cross with the groups choices as of late and wish to get to somewhere else pr do something else."
Qhapaq tilts his head to the side, before saying "I… apologize if you're not comfortable with the choice we made. I cannot say my choices would be any different, though- my blood is more important than a pack of Feohs- they are hardly worth scorn to begin with, as awful as they are.">>752360
"I… will, yes. Thank you."
"Aren't sure about the bunker?" Zamrud asks, looking around. "I see. You've definitely turned it into something impressive, but I was mostly curious about its history, as well as that of the town. For example," he says, holding up his magicomp, "the software you have installed is outdated IronCastle text-messaging. Was it already installed on these systems or, did you come across it in your travels as well?">>752360
"'Dork'?" Zamrud repeats, looking like his pride is somewhat hurt. "Well, that's a tad harsh. I think I pull it off quite nicely, Miss Godspeed." He says, leaning back in his chair and taking another sip. "Perhaps if I had a pair of shades…"
As she sets her hoof on his paw, he turns to look at her with some surprise, eyes opening wider as she comments on 'getting the jane'. He pauses for a moment, suddenly starting to feel a few things he's been told since he got back 'click' into place. "…Oh. Ah… well, I," he says, finally taking a bit off guard, before building up to a grin. "Well I suppose that'd be the only proper way to end the film, wouldn't it?">>752360>>752359
Zamrud sighs, shaking his head as he's met with a contentious response, but does not raise his voice further towards Good as he moves off to focus on Billy. "Indeed…"
As Senorita speaks up, he looks to her, "I agree, Senorita, and appreciate your input." He says (ideally out of earshot to Good) "I imagine he's still approving of our letting the bandits go, but I intend to talk with him soon. I just thought to give the young lord some space first, see if he feels ready to talk."
"I am fully equipped for all home maintenance needs, from home security to violent and non-violent familial conflict resolution," La Senorita says.
That line seemed to require no splicing whatsoever… must have been a common enough question to warrant a dedicated recording.
Still, she rolls back a bit to give everyone some space in this tense moment.>>752367
"No, that was on the bunker computers when we got here," Tay says. "Apuchin found installers for most of the old software these things use so that our tablets could interact with what we found. Film's more my thing, but if you want to pick his brain about what he's found, he's the horse to talk to. A real computer wizard if you can keep his mind from wandering.">>752367
At the word 'film,' Godspeed glances over at Tay, who frowns. "No. Sober up."
"I wasn't suggesting anything," Godspeed stammers. "Barkeep, one… sober, please."
The barkeep serves her some dry bread, and a glass of water.
Billy follows along. Not pursuing it inline with words, and is content to follow behind him.
"It was already on the computers…?" Zamrud asks, his curiosity piqued as that particular point seems contradictory. "That's… very peculiar. Do you know if anyone else inhabited this bunker before you arrived? Surely this bunker must be a creation of the Old World, but the software isn't THAT old, someone must have installed it before you arrived."
"Perhaps I'll have a word with Apuchin if you don't think he'd mind, where might I find him?">>752369
Zamrud blushes hotly as Tay suggests Godspeed sober up, embarrassed at seeming like a couple of kids who were getting too much to drink. "Ah right, my apologies, I wasn't… 'suggesting' anything either, simply… commenting on how it wouldn't be inappropriate if… well-" he pauses, taking a deep breath, hating the feeling of stumbling over his words. "Barkeep, make that two sobers, if you would."
Qhapaq blinks a couple times in surprise as the line rolls out smoothly, but ignores it for now.
The barkeep passes you cold water and some bread. Godspeed, despite the emergency "sober" passed her way, leans half-asleep over her bread. Despite her plain intoxication, she seems, for the first time since your paths crossed, genuinely at ease. Perhaps, a mere effect of alcohol, or a more worrying sign of dependence, or, perhaps something else altogether…"You have someone to watch her in her room?"
the barkeep asks you.>>752373
Tay rolls their eyes. "Where else? In his office. That gumball is always working in there. Doubt he knows we're even all drinking down here.
"No, no," Nina says, leaning over. "I messaged him earlier."
She shows you the chatlog from their message. Despite the size of Nina's tablet, her message about the party and Apuchin's reply take up the whole screen.
Apuchin's response. "OK….. THANKS….. KEEP UP GOOD WORK. SIGNED APUCHIN FROM MY KAL-COMP."
Below that is an honest-to-goodness message board-style sig.>>752374>>752371
Tay checks their tablet, then socks Qhapaq's arm lightly. "I need to wrap up some director business, then I'll meet you at the cabs when you're ready, cool? Billy, if you want to come with, you're welcome to."
"I am more concerned we let them go to cause more harm. I understand your loyalty to your people Qhapaq and I admire it on some level. But honoring a deal with that filth and not taking them out when the aya were safe is an issue. There's being honorable and then there's willingly letting a menace to everyone he meets continue to breath."
As the bread and water is passed out, Zamrud quickly takes a long sip of the water while munching on some bread to help get his head more on straight. As he looks over at Godspeed, completely relaxed and half-dipping into her food, he puts a paw on her shoulder, smiling as he says, "Heh… suppose we've both had enough to drink for now. Perhaps we can just enjoy a bit more of Tay's motion features before calling it a night?"
As the barkeep asks in Aya if there's anyone to watch her in her room, Zamrud responds, in Aya, ["She's the only mare in our group, unless someone like Nina is willing to volunteer. I'll look after her all the way to her room, don't worry, I'll see her there."]>>752377
As Nina holds up the message from the chatlog, Zamrud gives a short laugh at the long response at the bottom. "He's rather… 'old-school' about his messaging habits, isn't he? I don't think I've seen a post that long since I was in school."
As Tay mentions where he's located, Zamrud asks, "And not much for socializing either. Perhaps it wouldn't be inappropriate if I brought him a drink? Everyone should be celebrating tonight."
Qhapaq nods a little in acknowledgement to Tay as he leaves, making note to figure out where the cabinets are.>>752380
Qhapaq stares at Good for a moment or two, before sighing. "Because they're not worth it- the Feoh rarely are. As awful as that group was, it's better to focus on what does have value- my Blood, and the safety of those I travel with. Do not lecture me on the world I was born into- a world you've gleamed the surface of. Picking fights with every bit of trash in the world will leave you exhausted, dead, or worse." the griffon says, in a rare display of wordiness from the otherwise shy griffon.
Nina nods. "I've got it covered. Just toss me her key. I don't want her barfing on my stuff after I've gotten it all back."
Godspeed murmurs something about wanting to watch a spy movie, or, to use her exact words, "a spy cat movie.">>752384
Tay smirks. "By all means, go ahead. It's not that he's a stick-in-the-mud, it's that he's a scatterbrain. Probably already forgotten Nina's message. Remind him to have a break every now and then, won't you?"
With that, they head out to finish their business before Qhapaq's arcade match.>>752380>>752384>>752385
With the celebrations dragging on, more and more Aya retire from the bar, either heading for the Commons, or to the rec room (where Tay and Qhapaq are bound for their fateful fighting tournament), or, mostly, to their bunks. Nina helps take Godspeed to her room to safely watch over her for the time being, while the barkeep mixes Zamrud a nightcap to take to the workaholic scatterbrain Apuchin.
If you have other business before you sleep, you may write it out. Otherwise, the next session will begin in the next Cycle.
"Trash piles like them should be burned lest they turn into piles too big to remove. I can neither condone their way of living nor anyone who chooses to ignore them. I was not advising we drag your kin into this fight Qhapaq but to not only aide but abet them is… Well the term cowardly feels appropriate.
Qhapaq gives him a bit of a blank stare, mulling over the words for a little bit. "Cowardly is not appropriate, Good Intentions- but, you don't know life out here. I don't blame you for that. Galdrar is a Feoh of note- they are few and far between, but do exist. They do not turn into 'piles too big to remove'. They never have, and likely never will. Difficult to stamp out, and hardly worth the effort. Aya, much like the other tribes, would rather focus on Dreaded Ones, and on other problems- water, food, shelter."
"Now forgive me, but one might surmise that removing a group known for raiding and making life difficult would be something of a good thing and it would make survival and finding resources less of a grueling task. Now while I commend focusing on Dreaded Ones, they are by no means the only thing that needs to be removed from these lands."
"Again, it's the effort and the outcome. The Outlands are wide, and desolate- plenty of places to hide. The Feoh, rats that they are, excel at hiding. Their raids are normally of little concequence, and to respond to each one by aggressively rooting out every nest you can find wouldn't be worth exhausting yourself of water, and of roving the Outland without end." he says, before pausing for a moment. "I'd appreciate you not talk down to me- self-righteous anger is one thing, but I am not fresh, nor am I a child."
"I speak from the position of one who sees this as someone who simply wants to spare others the fate of your blood. I understand it is a move that is not viable to a tribe. And perhaps I should have realized that. Perhaps some punitive expeditions when this is all resolved. Remove as much of the stain as possible and burn anyone foolish enough to stick their head back out of the hole."
Zamrud looks after Godspeed at the bar until the party starts to wind down, giving his thanks to Nana as she takes care of her to her room and offers to spend the night with her. He waits for the barkeep to finish Apuchin's drink as his attention is drawn to Good and Qhapaq's conversation, noting it becoming more heated, and decides now is a good time to step in.
As he approaches, he starts out with saying, "I don't recall aiding or abetting them in attacking the Aya caravan, or in kidnapping its drivers. We do not support the Feoh's methods Good, but there's a time, a place, and a means for dealing with them.">>752405>>752401
"We did not come out here to start a crusade against bandits, Good. We do not have the resources for it and unless IronCastle authorizes it, we can't expect them to contribute the manpower. Attempting to wipe out the Feoh would surely trigger a war between them and the Aya, and you must consider the loss of life that'd incur."
"One I qualified that statement with when our troubles being resolved. Two I do not think the Aya would stick around if Ironcastle were to turn its full might onto burning these scum off the face of the world. And are we not abetting them by saying we will not stop them from simply raiding another caravan? Condemning potentially more Aya to death?"
Qhapaq quirks an eyebrow at that, before saying "I… do not quite like the way you suggest that. If they would not 'stick around', it's difficult to say where they could safely shelter. I would prefer Ironcastle, or any of the other Castles, not conduct a 'Crusade' against the Feoh. The Feoh kidnap and bargain, and the other tribes either scatter them across the Outlands, or bargain for their Blood back. It is how things have been for quite some time, and I think that keeping it as it is would be better than trying to scour the land of Feoh, likely stirring up more trouble in the process."
"You're right, they wouldn't. Then where would they go? Do you know another convenient, secure bunker they could safely move into if Oath were to turn into a battleground? We'd send them out into the wastes of the Outland searching for another home."
He sighs, "I don't doubt what happened with the earlier caravan will happen again with Galdrar still on the loose. But we are not in a position to do anything about it. They had hostages and children that we had to take into account, and we had just barely finished off the Shadedrinker by the time they arrived. Neither of these situations called for slaughter, especially when another solution was readily available. Galdrar proved himself reasonable, and willing to honor deals when made. That alone seems to suggest there can another way to stop what they're doing than simply killing them."
"Not all Aya are as lucky to have something such as this Bunker, either."
"This time. He proved himself willing to honor deals this time. And if you are comfortable knowing that any further blood he sheds is upon your hands, than so be it.">>752411
While it is true that such an action would have short term costs, the long term benefits of one threat being minimized seem worth it. But I am just a child. So perhaps I am wrong." He said clicking his tongue a bit as he took a bit of sarcasm "I am aware my life and yours are radically different Qhapaq. And I understand that we may not see situations the same. But I simply see this as a choice that had it been made, would have done thw job better than doing nothing."
Qhapaq sighs a little bit, before saying "It's not because you're a 'child', Good- I do not think of you as one, though I don't know Castle age customs- I apologize if it sounds like I think of you as one. Short term costs are sometimes far too great for any long-term benefit to be seen, sadly."
A sigh from the little Lord "Perhaps this is true. In the world of the outlanders, the permanence of a castle is something I cannot account for. You do not have a static location you can rely on to fall back to. Or supplies to see through something this taxing."
"Mmm. It tends to be poor planning to descend with large numbers, as it means leaving what home you've made for yourself vulnerable. This Bunker is… a rarity, and one that comes off as a little strange. Normally, we shelter in less… fortified bunkers than this, or in the husks of structures or Castles."
After a moment or two, he says "If it would put you at ease, we can pursue Galdrar- perhaps not this moment, but I doubt a Feoh of his sort moves without notice from others."
"I am comfortable in knowing my decisions led to Nana and the others being safely returned to their home with their lives, as well as every single one of my companions and friends. If Galdrar takes another life after being let off this day, then that was his own decision to make, not mine."
"If we had killed Galdrar today at the cost of Nana, or Godspeed, or one of our lives, would you find satisfaction in that conclusion? Another warlord would just rise to take his place among the Geoh, potentially someone even worse."
"Good… your actions helped guarantee we all lived to make it home to Iron-Castle. We destroyed a Shadedrinker, a powerful Dreaded One that was causing the Aya no shortage of difficulty. And Nana and the other hostages were returned home without a scratch. There is no shame in what was accomplished, saving the world doesn't need to happen all at once."
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. If I needed to fall to drop that monster than I would do it a thousand times Zamrud. I would not have put any of the hostages in danger nor would I have asked any to fight who had no desire to. But if it means cutting the head off a dangerous group and making a point, then so be it. My blood may be noble but it will spill when I die like anyone else's. I have no fear of dying. Merely a fear of knowing I couldn't do more to stop those who are monsters.">>752424
Perhaps when time is not against us and a tree with the potential to aide us is not in play we may purge him and his ilk."
"As a quick aside, I would not suggest you think so little of your own nobility, but that's another topic. I'm a noble too, Good. Maybe just a branch-family and not nearly so high up the ladder, but a noble nonetheless. I don't find my life any more valuable than that of these Aya."
"But you have to realize that, in that situation, it would not have been your decision if any of the hostages were put in danger or who would be the ones to give their lives. Even if the Feoh did not use them as shields, which I wouldn't put it past them to do, what if they were hit by a stray shot, or collapsed by rubble? Do you think everyone is as willing to give their lives to 'make a point', when the option for everyone to step out of that situation with their lives intact was an option?"
"You - we - did the most we possibly could without incurring unnecessary losses. If that is your fear, then you shouldn't concern yourself with having not done enough. Perhaps there's more we can do with the Feoh, but then was not the time or place. Not all problems can be solved with a spell and a sword the moment we see them, you must plan these things out."
"Mmm. Many unexpected things can happen, to say the least." he says, with a shrug. "Avoiding fights helps you avoid lots of other… complications in the Outlands, as well."
"Perhaps. But one would assume a dark enough reputation would dissuade all but the stupid from harassing you.">>752429
My plan Zamrud, would have been to ensure we had the Hostages before I put a round into the back of his skull. I'm not stupid enough to attack when there are innocents are in the cross fire. But I also have no compunction about acting dishonorably to one who never had any honor to begin with.
Perhaps my pragmatism is surprising but my families roots are intertwined with the Knights. And we both know Honor has a time and a place, but not with those who would never show you any to begin with."
Qhapaq shrugs a little bit, before saying "Not always. I see the point you wish to make, though. And… thank you for being willing to talk through things with us. Even if I don't fully agree with you, I have valued both you and the time you've spent with us.">>752407>Later, after the talk.
Qhapaq makes his way to the arcade cabinet, after taking a bit of time to relax somewhere quiet- the griffon's not a particularly social person, so a large party followed by a serious talk left him feeling a little drained. He waves down Tay, and asks "I… hrm. I did not play too many of these arcade cabinets at all, truth be told. I guess I'll pick…" he trails off, looking over the options, before picking out… a fighting game!>Just in case the roll is needed right away! [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You notice Tay's eyes (the one visible eye through their hair, anyway) shrink with horror as you make your selection. They say nothing as they select their character, and the match begins.
[1d10] vs 8Roll #1 6 = 6
You take the first round handily. Tay squints, eyes/eye not leaving the screen even for a moment as they get ready for round 2.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"And I can say the same of you Qhapaq. Despite our differences, I still endeavor to become your friend."
>>752463>Round 2: [1d10] vs 1
"This is… not as difficult as I expected. I was worried my talons would be to large for the controls."Roll #1 1 = 1
>>752467>>752463DRAW! SUDDEN DEATH!
Tay's eye gleams. "We had the same health!? Oh, crap!"
Their character rushes you down, with only 20 seconds to score a hit.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Qhapaq reaches out (and down) and gives the stallion a pat on the shoulder with a heavy set of talons, before offering a smile. "Well, I do not think you will have to try hard. I would offer to talk more, but… I-I admit, public gatherings are not something I'm good with. I'm still glad we got the chance to talk, all the same.">>752471
Qhapaq panickedly mashes at some of the buttons.>Sudden death! [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
You tie, 1-1, when Tay pokes you with their character's rapid opening jabs.
Round 3 begins…
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Mmm." the griffon notes, trying to focus harder on the game. It looks a little silly for a griffon of his size to be hunched over staring at the screen, but he tries his best.>Round 3: [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Tay seems to be getting into the zone, as they recover from their earlier setbacks with a victory.
Tay scrunches their snout as they try not to blow this lead…
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Hmm. Down to the wire, I guess?">Round 4: [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Tay looks at you, eye twitching, as you beat them once more. "You liar! I'll bet you go to tourneys all over the Diskos, don't you!?"
"That's it," they say, and reach upward, switching their hair so that it covers their left eye, instead of their right. "Time to use my full power! If you die, I take full credit."
Now exposed, their right eye glows with motivation.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Qhapaq lets out a confused warble, not sure what to make of the comment and the hair flip. "I… I-I assure you, I merely picked this because I enjoy wrestling.">Round 5! [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Tay gasps and wiggles the sticks with much, much more excitement than is appropriate when they win the last match. At last, they release the poor machine, and step back with a sigh.
"…What were we fighting over again?"
"Ah! Well, that was about the result I expected. More fun than I thought, though… and, I was asking if it was possible to make copies of some of your films, so I could watch them- without depriving you of them, of course."
Tay's confusion seems genuine, as in very genuine, if only for a moment. "Yeah… that sounds like something I'd agree to. Alright c'mere, I'll burn you some."
They lead you off to their room to give you their filmography, even though they won.
Qhapaq blinks a couple times, more confused than he was to begin with. "I thought it was… piracy? I'm not stealing, am I?" he asks, somewhat nervously.
"Piracy's the good kind of stealing, like pillaging and conquest," Tay explains… the complete opposite of their earlier stance.
"Mmm… I see. V-Very well, then. Thank you for allowing me to have copies of your films, Tay." he says, offering a set of talons to shake.
Tay shakes with a grip that could crush a coconut, if such things grew in the Outlands. Alas, only in the Castles do they.
"If he never showed us *any* at all, Good, we would not have come out of that exchange without a fire-fight. He has at least a shred of a sense of honoring his word, and we should learn to take advantage of it rather than toss it aside. We can seek to put an end to his days of larceny, but it's better to do so when we're holding the advantage."
As the drink for Apuchin is served up, Zamrud goes to collect it. "I am always available if you wish to discuss things further, young Lord, but for now, I think we can all use a rest. The bunker is in celebration, I feel we can afford a bit of the same." With that, he takes the drink towards the secluded workaholic's lab, interested in finding a few more things out for himself…
After you enter Apuchin's study, the perpetually-burning Kirin continues tapping away at his computer, and it is only as he stands up to retrieve something from a nearby printer that he notices you.
"Oh! Zamrud, was it? What brings you here?" he asks, retrieving the document and sitting back down.
Zamrud holds up the fancy, alcoholic beverage the bartender made for him, placing it down on the desk besides him as he slides it over. "The bar downstairs was kind enough to fix you up something in celebration. Nina said she sent you a message reminding you to come down to join the festivities, but by this point they're already winding down. Got a little caught up in work?"
"Hrm," Apuchin says, savoring the drink's aroma, before having a sip. "They sure know how this one likes it."
Then, he nods. "This one was meaning to stop by, but even for these nomads, the paperwork never ends. Supply checks, maps, dealings with the other Families and Tribes… plus, cracking this bunker's security has become something of a hobby of mine, even if I fail pretty frequently."
"Hmm. Well, I can certainly understand getting lost in one's work, hopefully Nina and Tay will as well." As he lists off all the requirements to his job, Zamrud nods. "I can imagine there's much to keep track of coming in and out of the bunker, tracking hunters and traders. Good thinking with making sure your security is up to date as well."
"I was wondering if might ask something regarding the computer system here, actually, Tay had mentioned something down in the commons area: he mentioned that the OS was already installed in this bunker when you all found it?"
Apuchin nods. "Yup, looks like the last update to the OS was about 128 years ago," Apuchin says. "Despite that, it's all still pretty functional. The update notes and changelogs this one found showed the developers were pretty excited for the next big OS they were planning to transition to."
Zamrud's eyes blink in surprise. "One hundred and twenty eight years ago…? It was here for THAT long before you arrived?" He asks, shaking his head, "I see… the messenger system you have installed, Emissary: that wasn't on the computer when you arrived, was it? We used to have it in IronCastle before Concord more or less rendered it obsolete."
Apuchin nods. "Emissary was on every last one. This Concord you speak of, the update files make mention of it, and there is even a beta build available on the bunker PCs. It was, in your peculiar terminology, supposed to be a 'killer app,' and was included as a preview, as part of a transition to the new OS. However, it went little used. It seemed that whoever was here before us preferred their old technologies."
"…I'm sorry, CONCORD was on it as well, as a beta? Am I understanding this correctly?" He looks somewhat stupefied by the implications, but decides press. "You are absolutely certain no one else had been in this bunker or installed anything on your systems before you arrived? Installed these systems since the previous updates? Otherwise, that seems to suggest that Concord and Emissary are both over a century old. Which is… just not possible. Concord is fairly recent, and Emissary while out-moded isn't THAT ancient."
Apuchin seems a bit lost in all your concerns. "Unless the ones who installed both of these softwares deliberately altered the changelogs to make it look as though it were all last updated 128 years ago… then yes."
He pauses for another sip. "This one may be interested in this little project that this one has been cracking at for awhile."Note, when multiple instances of "this one" are used in a sentence, the speaker indicates the proper subject with gestures. Apuchin gestured to you for the fist one, and himself for the second one.
"This one has attempted to run some of this bunker's software through a decompiler, but these programs are bound by heavy security. If only the security can be cracked, then more may be gleaned from the source files. Would Zamrud be interested if this one put the OS, various programs, and the decompiler onto a data chip for further study?"
Zamrud pauses, the mystery of this situation proving more and more confounding. "…that isn't completely out of hte question, I suppose, updating the changelogs but, for what purpose would that serve? An elaborate prank?"
"But, what else could it be? Iron-Castle only just started using Concord a few years ago, it is NOT more than a century old, nor is Emissary. Surely, someone must have been in here before you arrived, are you certain there were none?" He shakes his head, trying to contemplate what could explain this as Apuchin offers the data-chip for further study. "I'm impressed their security is so tight: being so ancient I would imagine we'd have far more robust means of cracking them, but then I guess the Old World was nothing if not impressive. If it would not trouble you, I would appreciate a copy of your environment to analyze once we return to Iron-Castle. I'll, of course, be sure to send along any results we're able to find. How long have you been trying to crack it, precisely?"
Apuchin considers it. "Well, no. It is all but confirmed that there were others here before this Family. The food stores here have rations that were packed as far back as 20 years ago, which will only expire in this year. But, they seemed not to have made any updates or changes to the software that these ones have found."
He has another sip as he contemplates this. "Or could there have been another explanation for why such aged software would still be in use long after it was outdated…?"
At your other question, he responds – "Off and on, since these ones' arrival a few Turnings ago. The well-being of the Family takes precedent over any hobby."
"So, there were other settlers within the bunker before the Aya arrived, but you're certain they did not use or alter the database?" Zamrud thinks this over, "I can't be so certain of that… it's the only explanation I can think of for why Concord would be found on a century old computer. It's not simply about Concord being old, it simply isn't an invention of the Old World. At least, not so far as I'm aware…" Zamrud suggests, rubbing his chin. "Hmm. Or, could it?"
He shakes his head, "I'll need to do some research into the creation of Emissary and Concord itself, I believe… I am admittedly somewhat ignorant of their early development, I assumed the Castles created them from scratch but, perhaps they are legacies of Old World tech. You would be willing to pass along your entire OS and database on a chip to me? Are you concerned for security?"
"These ones have their own proprietary OS," Apuchin answers. "And as for Zamrud, as a resident of Ironcastle, this one senses a kinship between the code and the residents of Ironcastle."
Zamrud bows his head, "It is much appreciated, thank you."
He tilts his head to the side, "I don't know if I would use the word 'kinship', but I suppose it's not far off the mark. Concord IS extremely popular in IronCastle. Almost everyone I know uses it for sharing, communications, hosting servers… the idea that it came from century old technology may come as a bit of a shock, but that's quite a leap in judgement to make without further investigation. That Emmissary is in the same boat, more or less, is bizarre as well, I suppose I'll have to look into the origins of both messaging systems. If they were pulled from a similar source or created by a similar team…" he pauses, shaking his head. "Who can say for certain, but at the very least this deserves looking into. There's many mysteries tied between this bunker and Iron-Castle, it would seem."
Apuchin nods as he prepares the data chip, and invites you to use the computer lab across from the lodgings on the third floor, the same as the bar, but as for himself, it seems he'll be retiring for rest, once he's spoken a bit with some of his friends among the Family.
Zamrud takes the data-chip as soon as it's prepared, looking at it contemplatively as he considers starting to break into deciphering its information… but merely pockets it for now, feeling the effects of the earlier alcohol may not make for a great working session.
"I imagine I'll be shortly behind you on sleep, but if you'd like to make an appearance downstairs before all the festivities wrap up, I think I'll join you."
Last time, on Anno Castra…
You spent the last few hours of this Cycle unwinding, both from the battles from earlier, and from the copious celebrations. Just like in Ironcastle, the bunker's lights dimmed to a low ambient glow so that you could find your way back to your rooms, and get a good rest. Each of you received your own room key from La Senorita, so unless you chose to bunk with another, you had a room all to yourself.
Your sleep in those dark hours was peaceful and dreamless, for even your subconscious was too exhausted to ramble. All, except for Qhapaq. Only, when he awakes, he cannot quite seem to recall it, leaving him with naught but a feeling of a creeping sense of something long since forgotten, a matter of import. When he awakes, his arms are elevated, engaged in the posture he takes during battle.
It is 0600 hours when your alarms go off, each of you snug in your beds.
"Ah yes, because bringing child soldiers is the sign of honor. How could I be so mistaken." he said as he watched him go as he saw it was pointless to continue arguing with someone who didn't want to listen.>>752716
Good for the most part just spent the time in his room with Blue and partook in none of the celebrations as he had no desire to take part right now.
After dealing with all the recent events, Grutar is slower to wake up this time by about 15 or so minutes from his alarm or anyone trying to wake him up. But once he's up he looks real tired and more hunched over than usual. "I knew all this fightin' was gonna get to my back one day… Augh… At least that sauna is helpin'"
Zamrud opens his eyes in his room, still quite appreciative of the fact that he got to spend a night in the Outlands in a secure, comfortable room rather than in a tent. Rising up, he double checks all his provisions and supplies (as well as the data-chip Apuchin gave him), nodding as he decides to make preparations for their long awaited departure from the bunker.
He resuits up in his armor suit, moving out of the room to move out into the central commons area to see who all is already there to greet him, be they his traveling companions or bunker denizens.
"Goodmorning." Billy says he gets up in a mumbly voice. He wipes at his eyes trying to help himself wake up.
"Good morning Billy. You sleep well?"
Over the course of many minutes, you all, minus Good, gather in the common barracks area. La Senorita is there when you arrive, and Godspeed is the last to appear. As she sees Zamrud, her mouth opens to speak, but then slowly shuts, her snout then scrunching up, as she looks off to the side.>>752719
You receive an invite, via Concord, to a private voice chat with Godspeed.
Qhapaq shakes himself out, looking around the room in confusion. He feels… off. Something's not right. He lowers his forelegs and lets out a confused noise, before suiting up and getting ready to move out.
"Does anyone have more drinks on them? My back is KILLIN' me!" Grutar complains, rubbing his sore old back. "I think I need more cushionin' in my armor too…"
As Zamrud heads out into the commons, Zamrud waves a paw to everyone gathered. "Good morning, everyone. I trust we all slept well, we have a long journey back to Iron Castle ahead of us. If there's anything else we needed to do here before we left, best take care of it soon.">>752722
As the message pops up for him on Concord, he takes a look to Godspeed, there present in the barracks, and looks down to his Magicomp, typing in reply>"Hello?"
"I think so?" Billy stands up and arches his back in a weird way of stretching. "How about yourself?"
>>752725>"Nina has reported that I acted toward you in a most… uncouth manner late last Cycle. It seems my confidence in my secret weapon against drunkenness was not well placed. It must have been overloaded from the damage I took during our two battles against the Shadedrinker… I hope I did not cause offense or scandal," she says via the voice link.>>752723>>752724>>752725>>752728
"I hear – breakfast has been served," La Senorita says. "Please report to – cafeteria. Single file line."
"But we're down a couple of squirts," Sancho says, bouncing off the corner of a couch onto Qhapaq's shoulder. "Where's Billy and Good?"
"Mmm. I might appreciate a chance to speak with Tay again about… something- though, I do not know if he has time to do the Divine Lots before we leave. If he cannot perform them, and does not know much of what I mean to ask, then I will do without, however." he explains.>>752729
"I… do not know. I imagine they are taking a bit of time to awaken."
"No idea… maybe they're practicin' wrestlin' moves or something with each other for warm up?" Grutar wildly guesses to Sancho as he's hobbling off to get some food.
"As well as I could." he said somewhat dryly as he sat in his armor "My interest in this bunker has quickly grown to the point of being non-existant."
As Zamrud reads the message, he takes another look towards Godspeed, offering a calming smile as he replies>"You acted nothing of the sort last night, Godspeed, I quite enjoyed the evening spent. I imagine we both had perhaps a bit too much to drink, but you need not concern yourself with having acted unbecoming of the mare I know you are.">"There's nothing wrong with unwinding every once in a while.">>752729>>752731
As La Senorita informs them of breakfast being served, Zamrud nods. "Sounds perfect. We'll fill up and then take our leave, I could do with some ham if they have any…"
As Sancho brings up the two youngest still not being up, Zamrud shakes his head at Grutar's suggestion. "I imagine they may have just over-slept. One of us should go grab them for breakfast.">>752730
"I do not know how long the Divine Lots take, but I imagine we can make the time before leaving. Come to think of it, I thought I might ask him about this mysterious broker from Iron-Castle they managed to grab on the security feed, as much info as we can obtain about him may be prudent before I make any moves."
As he notices Qhapaq's off behavior, he flattens his ears. "Is something the matter, Qhapaq?"
(The off behavior happened when they woke up, silly!)
"I… do not know. I felt as if I was doing something important- something I forgot about. I felt as if I woke up mid-fight, but… I do not know why."
"Why is that?" Billy tilts his head. "There have been quite a few nice things lately at least."
"Something important?" Zamrud asks. "Something last night? As I recall we were all enjoying ourselves at the bar last evening. Something perhaps left undone from the Shadedrinker…?"
>>752733>Godspeed smiles, then looks off to the side again. "Though we may reside in separate Castles, I hope that will not be the last time that we can unwind in that way. Perhaps remaining sober for just a tad longer than I had.">>752733>>752730>>752731>>752732>>752735
"I saw one of 'em in a real bad mood – when I actually did see him, anyway," Sancho says. "You fellas go on ahead and get some good eats, I'll be the bad guy."
Sancho hops down to where Good and Billy's door awaits, and headbutts the door in rapid succession, a trick he picked up from his drinking competition and subsequent wrassles with the Aya.
"No- it was if I awoke while in the middle of something important. I… do not know what it is, though.">>752738
"If you are certain."
Zamrud and I have had a severe difference of opinions about how things have been handled and unlike the others, I have found the charm here to be waning."
"Ahh. I do hope we can come to an understanding soon through talking to one another again. We have to agree and trust each other if we ever find ourselves in a heated situation again. That is if we all want to work together again. That makes sense right?" Billy taps at his chin.
"I hope there's fresh coffee…" Grutar keeps grumbling as he continues on to the cafeteria to eat while relaxing his old bones.
>>752738>"As do I. If we both find ourselves braving the Outlands frequently, I'm sure we'll see each other eventually. Or I'll keep notice of any jobs that take me to Zinccastle.">"You have a good smile, Godspeed. I'm sure many would be thankful to see it.">>752738
"I think I know which one you are referring to." Zamrud says to Sancho. "If you do not mind being said bad guy, go see if they're up. We'll meet up in the cafeteria.">>752739
"Are you certain what you're thinking of wasn't just part of the dream? Perhaps you are simply imagining you've forgotten something important."
Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
"I… I-I don't know. I feel as if it was something important. It might be nothing, or it might… not. I don't know."
>"You're going to make it very…"
She pauses, for an inordinately long time. You note her visor dimming, such that you can only barely see a silhouette of her face.
>"It's going to be hard to part ways from you."
She at last turns away, and makes a slight haste for the cafeteria.>>752739>>752741>>752742>>752743>>752740
While Sancho continues to knock, the rest of you are bound for the dining hall, which you see has been considerably cleaned since last Cycle's dark hours. Many Aya are seated already, nursing varying degrees of hangovers. Eggs, hayggs, bacon and haycon are on the menu for today, with sides of ham, buttermilk pancakes, shrimp, chicken, and copious dried fruits and fruit juices and teas for the sides.
Godspeed takes her food, then sits where Tay sits with Nina, and a few others.
Good sighed and got up to open the door, looking at the skull "Are we leaving?" he asked looking at the skull with the annoyance at the noise on his face.
"Not before you get a good meal in ya!" a voice from below hollers. You look down, and see Sancho waiting at the door expectantly. "C'mon, a growing colt like you's gotta eat. Granpaw would turn me into glue if I didn't getcha outta there."
Grutar gets himself a very basic meal, a small bit of ham along with bacon, eggs, and a pancake. He slowly eats and quietly reminisces to himself, choosing to seat himself near the others but mainly anywhere close to Zamrud or Qhapaq.
Zamruds leads the last message, watching Godspeed through her visor as she begins to move off towards the cafeteria. Zamrud for a moment isn't quite sure what to say in response, wanting to give her a bit of room as he types out a simple reply for now>"Likewise.">>752748>>752748>>752742
"Likewise, Grutar. I feel we could all use a few cups to get our bearings."
From there, he moves to the cafeteria, deciding to stick with the guys as he grabs a healthy but not too filling supply of sausage and eggs from the supply line, taking a bit of tabasco sauce to drip over his eggs as he sops up the excess yolk with the sausage and buttery toast.
As he eats, he turns to Qhapaq, "Hmm… if it's something so powerful it may not be just a dream, but unless you've been secretive about it I cannot think of anything we've missed. Perhaps Tay can assist with that, we'll see him and his 'lots' right after breakfast. Then, we should probably be going."
He pauses, trying to think of anything. "Something to do with Galdrar? The Aya?"
"I doubt he would care that much." he said scooping up the skull "But fine. The clock is ticking on how we can save this world and I will do what I can to save it with what time we have left." he said flatly.>>752741
"It does Billy, but sometimes someone has to make the tough call and do it on their own. But for now lets eat. I know you appetite could put the Shadedrinkers to shame."
Billy smiles looking forward. "That looks like quite a nice spread here." Finding the dining hall.
"It feels like it was something from long ago. I, ehm, am not sure… breakfast might help, yes." he says, settling in with the rest of the group to eat.>>752749
Qhapaq offers a bit of a wave to Tay, Nina, and Godspeed, making a note to check in after he's done eating.
"I'll probably need a few cups myself. A cup of coffee and a cup of pain killers!" Grutar says with a guffaw, but then groans again when he almost throws something out from slapping his knee too hard.>>752756
"Don't worry Qhapaq, I forget a lotta things often. It happens to all of us sometimes, just gotta knock it about in your head a bit."
"Long ago, hmm?" Zamrud shakes his head, "Well, only so much I can do with that. We've been friends for some time but, I don't think we've shared much about our pasts, have we?" He takes a slow sip of his coffee, "Family matters, you think?">>752757
Zamrud chuckles, "Sounds you got it worse than the rest of us. Sancho was looking for a partner for a drinking challenge last night, did you accept?"
Along with the more substantial food, you see a bit of a strange, pulpy alcohol being passed about, poured in small cups, for those with the strongest of the hangovers. It smells strong, but with a bit of a medicinal tint, less for having a good time and more for chasing away a bad time. A few Aya take it, but the majority, particularly the elders, seem to be doing just fine despite how much they knocked back not a few hours past.
Sancho has a sip, and all his bones rattle as he chokes it down. "Phew! Ooooh, Granpaw just might have a competitor."
Tay glances over, says something to Godspeed, then walks to your table. Their hair is back over their right eye once more.
"So, I heard you're headin' out?" they ask.
Good apparently teleported to the room but he just grabbed a plate of eggs and took a seat by himself quietly as he ate. He gave Qhapaq a lazy wave but otherwise just sat and ate, glancing at the watch on his wrist comp now and then as he munched.
"Yes, soon. Though, I wanted your help with something, if it were possible." he says, frowing a little. "I feel as if I've forgotten something important. Would your Divine Lots be able to help, perhaps?">>752758
"Mmm. I apologize for being… ehm… odd, today. It's not my intent to worry you."
"It all depends on the will of the Ancestors," Tay answers. "If they are willing, they may answer. Can you give me anything more specific?"
"Lad, bein' challenged to drink more than another ain't a challenge, it's a blessin' for free booze for me! Of course I accepted! Helped me forget about the last couple o' fights it did, I think someone also dragged me outta the sauna… I remember that clearly." Grutar says, showing very odd clarity of memory of when he drinks heavily, even if he forgets how to precisely use his comp to this day. "What about you, Lad? Didja have your own fun last night?" He asks endearingly.>>752759
Grutar would get himself some more to drink, even after drinking some last night he'll take anything that might be alcoholic just to try it.
While everyone talks. Billy grabs a plate of food to serve himself and eat. What a nice thing to wake up to.
Zamrud feels a bit of a headache from last night, and looks at the apparent 'cure' some of the other Aya are chasing with some intrigue. While he likely doesn't need it, curiosity once again has a hold of this cat, as he decides to take a small glass for himself to try and see what it tastes like.
Before he downs it however, he sees Godspeed and Tay coming over to his table, nodding in answer to Tay's question. "Yes, more or less right after breakfast. Don't want the Cycle to get away from us, and it's a long way back. But, we were hoping to take you up on your offer from earlier, though… you mentioned you could ask these 'Lots' something on our behalf?">>752761
"Nothing to apologize for, Qhapaq, I take an interest in your well-being. Let me know if it becomes worse than bothersome, I'll see if there's anything I can do.">>752763
"Haha… as I suspected. I can only imagine how that must have been like, Sancho lacking a liver or a stomach to put alcohol away in, I'm truly curious what his upper-limits might be. Though, I'm sure you gave him a run for his shillings one way or the other."
As he asks if he had his own fun, Zamrud turns towards Godspeed, then back to Grutar nodding. "Of my own sort of 'fun', yes. I enjoyed the evening."
"Fun is fun, Lad. I'm glad you had some as well." Grutar says with a wide smile. "Maybe next time I'll join you lad, drinks mighta helped a bit but I can't do as much partyin' as I used to."
"I awoke this morning feeling as if I had forgotten something from long ago, and of great importance. I awoke to find myself poised for… a fight? I do not understand.">>752765
"Of course. Thank you, friend."
It's a mean and purgative dose going down, but soon, both muscle pain and headaches quiet their pulsing, and your body relaxes, losing the strain of its recent travails.>>752760>>752763>>752764>>752765
As you eat, Tay sits partway on the bench near you, producing their tablet. "Yeah, more than likely, after what you've done for us," they say. "If any of you have a question you want me to ask, let me know. Try to be as specific as you can."
"Oh!" Nina suddenly exclaims. She says somethng to Utqay, who sits across from her. He finishes off his tea, nods, and heads out from the cafeteria.>>752767
Tay starts to type down what you relate, but partway through, they lower their tablet, turning their head to you with a look of concern. "…Come with me when you're done eating."
Curious. Billy looks toward Nina. "Did something happen?"
Nina raises her hoof in a shushing motion. "A surprise. Keep it under your helmet."
"Ehm… o-okay." he says, shifting about nervously.
Grutar lets out a long relaxed sigh when the pain relief finally hits. "That's the stuff… Maybe I should get a whole bottle of this stuff before gettin' back to work."
Grutar turns his head to Tay when she sits nearby. "You have a way of contactin' people to other castles? Even just a letter or somethin'. Just remembered somethin' and I don't remember how to messages on my wrist screen." He asks out of sudden curiosity.
Good caught the line and bit back a remark as he knew it wouldn't have gone by as he watched Nina leave for a moment and sighed.
His mind turned to the Feoh he had to take down as he fought to save the Aya. He wondered if they would simply end up dead living the life of a raider or if they would end up even worse than that monster they were following.
He put his head against the table and idly wondered why a world like this could continue when it was so clearly wrong so many had to live lives either scraping by or in systems where they had to become as bad as the monsters that they fought. It was an unpleasant truth he had begun to consider the more he spent outside of those walls he called home. And every minute he sat here not doing anything was another minute the problems simply continued to exist.
Part of him wanted to deem this a world beyond saving but he could never damn all to destruction. He would simply need to do something to fix it. Do something to fix it and ensure this world never again had to face whatever calamity left it in this state.
He began to zone out entirely as he ignored the others, such was the absorption his thoughts began to pull him into, one might mistake him for a statue.
"As you used to? Grutar, you make it sound as though you aren't in the prime of life. I can say with no uncertainty you party harder than anyone else in our team.">>752767
"Any time, Qhapaq.">>752768
He visibly blanches as he downs the hangover cure, his fur standing on end and a noticeable, cat like 'meowl' sound coming out of his gullet as he blows out of his nostrils. As its after effects kick in and his body and head relaxes significantly, Zamrud looks at the drink quizzically. "Well… that certainly had an effect. Better perhaps than a prairie oyster. Could use the recipe."
As Tay sits down with the tablet, Zamrud looks at it with inquiry. "Yes… well, mine would be about the dragon who made the sale of Iron-Castle's light-filled hearts to this bunker. Apuchin mentioned he couldn't make out any identity, but hopefully with just a little digging back home I can find out who it is shortly. If your Lots could warn me in advance of who it is I'd be dealing with, or if anything in particular should be kept an eye out for, I would appreciate it."
He notices as Nina and Utqay speak to each other before swiftly leaving, looking over at them with curiosity as to what that could be about.
"Oh I know, and I use to party HARDER back then. You shoulda seen me before I got me job, some if not all called me the Mad Dog of Zinccastle. I was even the drinkin' champ for FIVE YEARS STRAIGHT once, until some bastard with some sorta… high techie liver stole it from me. But besides that, I was a real party animal!" Grutar continues to gloat, now that he's more relieved his ever young spirit still shines through.
"But… I would be lyin' if I said that the slower bits in life is nice too now, just a drink with the lads is nice…"
"O-Oh, right. And, for the Lot as well, I wanted to know more about a particular Tiger-Masked mutant."
"I suppose we should be grateful for the handicap your age provides us then, I doubt any of us could have kept up in your youth. Still, some say age is merely a frame of mind. I wouldn't guess you're letting letting time get to you."
"Me, I've always appreciated taking it slower. I can handle my share of excitement by trade, but my idea of fun has always been a bit more on the quiet side."
"Depends on where you're tryin' to get," Tay answers. "Ironcastle, Bronzecastle and Zinccastle are the best destinations. Close enough, and about as friendly as Castle folk ever get to us."
"My caravan makes the rounds sometimes," Nina adds. "When we aren't under attack by cowards such as the Feoh. Thankfully, we had already delivered what few messages we had when they attacked our caravan. You will understand if we must ask for a donation for its safe delivery.">>752777>>752775>>752773>>752772>>752779
Tay jots down the requests, then nods. "Okay. I'll relay whatever I get. Qhapaq, c'mon, let's go."
With that, Tay ushers Qhapaq along, as they lead the way back towards the elevators. The doors open, and Utqay walks out, followed by Apuchin. Utqay carries a medium-sized case, while Apuchin has a hoof-full of papers that he's reading. Apuchin mostly just follows behind Utqay as he reads. Tay and Qhapaq enter the elevator once they're past, and the doors shut again.
While Apuchin blindly collects a tray of breakfast from the servers, Utqay approaches Zamrud, holding out the case. "Though the model you wielded yesterday can't be given away for free, Nina arranged this for you. Have a look.">>752779
Tay says nothing as they take the elevator up to the second basement level. When the doors open, they lead you through the halls toward a room with a double-wide set of doors. https://youtu.be/IOzh1MFR29w
Inside, you see a carpeted space, with dark curtains covering most of the walls. The only lights that come on when Tay hits the switch are strings of dark-colored fairy lights strung up all around. Cushions are arranged in a square shape, and in their midst, is a ring of dust and debris.
Tay wordlessly gestures for you to sit at the square's southern corner, then steps behind one of the curtains for a few minutes. When they emerge again, their mane and tail are weaved up in a feminine fashion, and they wear a peculiar gown of sorts, resembling a mixture between a hoodie, and a set of patched battle leathers, held together with glowing stitches and neon tape; damage and ceremony melded into one.
They carry an old wooden chest with them, covered with long-faded stickers. They sit, and withdraw from the chest many bundles of sewing needles. They unravel the binds holding the needles, and start to construct a perimeter in the square of dust and debris.
Zamrud watches Qhapaq and Tay take off towards the elevator, before looking at Apuchin and Utqay approaching their group with the medium-sized case. He looks at them whit intrigue before the Aya puros approaches him with the case, putting it into his paws as Zamrud feels the weight, and quickly assumes what it is they are bequeathing him.
"My word. Is this…?" He says, before opening up the case before them.
Good sighed and finally got up and left the room as he didn't want to be here now. He went to gather his things and go to rest outside the Bunker because… he really didn't know. His brain hurt and he didn't like it. His emotions didn't know where they wanted to settle and he didn't like it. All in all he was in a state that bluntly, he didn't like. He left his tray and went to wander a bit. He figured it was best to leave Trajan out of this as the last thing he wanted to do was drag his companion down into the morass he was riding through.
He cast a glance to the others, seeing they seemed to have their own thing going and he left the room to wander with no real direction. He already lost interest in going outside anymore because it was only going to reinforce the state of this world as one where things were just… bad.
The griffon looks around in confusion as he's brought into the odd, carpeted, pillow-filled room. He's even more confused when Tay returns, dressed somewhat strangely. Regardless, this hardly seems like the time to speak up, and so Qhapaq silently watches as Tay sets up… whatever he's doing.
"Gettin' old just means you've seen a lot, no reason you can't still be the way you've been for a long time! Except when your body start's tellin' ya!" Grutar says with another guffaw.
He then relaxes again to eat the rest of his food and watch things unfold around him, like Zamrud opening his case.
Billy decides to wait patiently, staring at the new wooden chest as If he was moviegoer waiting for the movie to begin and see the show start. Now the only thing missing is some stale popcorn.
Billy decides to follow along with Good up to beside him. Feeling uncomfortable with leaving Good alone by himself.
As Zamrud receives his case, he takes note of Good as he begins to wander away from their group, looking more contemplative and lost than before. After he accepts the gift, he turns towards Good, hopeful the young stallion would be in a mood to talk.
"Ahem… young Lord. We will be leaving shortly, best not to go too far. Eager to return to Ironcastle?">>752788
"Precisely. I'm still rather young myself, but when I get older I don't intent to let that stop me from serving my King and Castle. Though, I must ask: *is* your body starting to yell at you? If you're suffering aches and pains, you should have spoken up, I could see about adding proper supplements to any meals I cook that could help with that."
Good glanced back to Billy and gave him a weak smiled before turning back, staring forward as he walked.>>752793
"I don't know." was the flat reply as he carried on out of the room.
Inside, you find a folding rifle. Overall, smaller than the one you wielded against the Shadedrinker, and lighter. However, it seems to use the same light ammunition system, removable scope, and a comfortable grip. "It is slightly more modular than the other one,"
Utqay adds. "This one may wish to trick it out to his own comfort.">>752784>>752790
You wander the bunker as you please, and though the Aya passing through the halls and rooms are friendly enough, they can sense something is amiss, and make no effort to stop the both of you. Trajan crawls out onto Good's shoulder. As much as Good may wish to leave him out, it seems the scorpion knows trouble when he feels it.>>752786
When Tay finishes setting up the needles, they loosen their mane somewhat, such that all of it falls down over their eyes, leaving you unable to see either one. They take the box, and set it in their lap. "Beloved Ancestors – blood of our blood, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, corpse of our corpse,"
Tay intones in the Aya tongue. As they speak, it seems to you that they are speaking with two voices, nearly indiscernible, at times consonant, and at other times, dissonant. "Sit with these ones. These ones will ask, and these ones will listen. Remind these ones of those who have come before, and excite these ones with those who are to come.""Know you of the dragon who sold Apuchin the Crystal Hearts? Name him, if you deign, what forces move his hand, what mouth commands him."
Tay scatters the box's contents onto the dust and debris. Out fall animal bones, lightbulbs, bits of shiny plastic, marked with glyphs, fragments of shattered technologies, and ancient coins, all of which, is scented with a fine layer of incense. Tay studies the patterns in which they fall, then taps something into the tablet. They then collect the lots, putting them back into the box."Know you of the Tiger-Masked Warrior of whom Bone Qhapaq has heard? Name him, if you deign, what paths he walks, how they might join or break our own."
Tay repeats the casting of lots, marks the results, and collects the lots again. They pause before the third question."Know you of the dream Bone Qhapaq dreamed? Name it, if you deign, what that one has forgotten, and what that one fights."
Tay scatters the lots again, but freezes when they behold the results."Beloved Ancestors – forgive me. This one has erred."
Tay collects the lots, then scatters them once more.
Even if the secrets of the lots are known only to the Diviners, even you can tell.
Tell how they fell.
The lots fell in the exact same configuration as they fell the first time."Beloved Ancestors – this one begs pardon again. This one shall not disrespect the Corpse further."
Tay collects the lots, and marks the result.
Grutar nods lightly. "It's bad from time to time, usually after messin' with big dreads like that last one… And thanks Zam, means to me you'd do that. Bein' married to work means I have to listen when someone tells me what to eat or when to sit.">>752796
"You fellas really know your gear and how to keep it up, might not be one for guns but I can appreciate equipment care." Grutar compliments.
Good was silent, his eyes moved to his companion for a moment and then back to the path. He found himself in the Bazaar or whatever they had that one could approximate to it as he quietly took a seat near a few stalls. He just ended up staring at the ground as he couldn't put his thoughts in any sort order.
Eventually his eyes simply began to scan the area as he put his thoughts onto those around him. There were times like these he wished he could take his own conflicting emotions away, but he could never bring himself to let another bear his burdens when they were his alone to bear. Such was the weight upon all his house, such was the worlds burdens. If he must carry them until he is crushed… well so be it.
Zamrud frowns, nodding his head. "I see. I'm not so sure about a lot of things myself. The last couple of days have given me… well, I imagine everyone a lot to think about. It can be a burden, I imagine?">>752796
Zamrud looks at the rifle with awe, carefully removing it from its foam packing as he takes the rifle out, re-arranges it into firing position, and looks at its various features such as the scope and crystal-ammo system.
"Indeed I will… thank you. Truly, after working with the other model, I was quite sad to part with it. To have this as a parting gift is, well, it's something I won't soon forget." He looks to Utqay. "I would give my gratitude to Nana for this, but are you sure I cannot compensate you for it? I would happily give something back to the bunker in exchange."
By the time he responded Good had slipped from the view at the same slow pace without any response.
Billy decided to bring one of his arms over good in a half hug. Trying to give Good a show of comradery and friendship by showing he is here.
Good genuinely jumped and looked to Billy in surprise at the hug before letting out a small smile and hugging him back rather tightly. He knew he could always count on Billy if nothing else.
Billy smile leaning into good for a full hug back of his own.
Qhapaq listens to the Divine Lots as they're casted, keeping as quiet as he can so as not to disturb the process. It's definitely enough to get him curious, though, and he watches with rapt attention.
At the end of the last one, his face twists in confusion, and he asks "Uhm… is something wrong? The last answer sounded…. concerning." he says, scratching his neck a little.
Zamrud looks surprised as he turns to realize Good is already out of ear-shot, sighing to himself as he takes a moment to give chase after the colt.
However, when he sees Billy wrapping his arm around colt in a show of comradely and brotherly love, Zamrud stops, looking at the scene with a renewed smile, imagining the dragon-goat handled this better than most would have thought
He let out a small sigh as he felt the troubles of the world seem far away for a bit. It was nice. He slowly pulled away from him and looked up.>>752809
And then he noticed Zamrud, and his emotions returned… though the same, more… conflicted on how to approach the feline.
Nina shakes her head, gesturing to Zamrud, then herself, and to your group as a whole. "This one must put his money away. This one will not allow compensation for a gift of gratitude. If these ones must 'repay' it, then repay it by staying alive, and slaying our common enemies.">>752802>>752803
Trajan holds out his claw for a bump from Billy.>>752808
Tay bows their head, then whispers a final prayer, taking their time before raising their head once more. They start to undo the circle of needles, reversing their steps one at a time.
"You might want to consider staying here for quite some time," they eventually answer, once the needles are all put away. "I didn't get all that much, but what I got was pretty bad. You seem to have… how should I put this? You've attracted some attention. That dream is a sign of it. The masked warrior, and the dream, both. Someone, or something, has seen your deeds."
Giving off a charmed smile. Billy follows up with Trajan and fist bumps him.>>752810
"Are you feeling well." Billy asks as Good leaves his side.
"I… wha?" he asks, confused. "The Masked Warrior and the Dream are both a sign that something has… noticed me? That's… concerning. But, I don't know if I can simply remain here. I need to keep my friend, and our companions, safe."
"Don't plan on lettin' any of these lads stay down for good. Leave no dog behind, what the lads back home always say."
"Remind me, if you don't mind my asking, how old are you again? Once we get back to Iron Castle's network, I'm sure I can find a few good recipes to help with bone aches and the like."
He pauses, then chuckles. "My apologies. I don't mean to make it sound like you're an old dog just yet.">>752813
Zamrud looks to Nina, the Aya hunters who fought alongside them, and Tay, and bows his head graciously as he holds the gun close. "Then, I will do just that. Forgive me, but House Bahasa repays its favors. Thank you again for this gift Nina, I shall make sure to take care of it and use it wisely."
He turns to look at Utqay, "And I hope next time I can see if my aim has improved on the course any.">>752810
As Good turns to look at him again, Zamrud smiles, offering an encouraging nod towards the colt as he starts to put the gun away, looking towards the other Aya again as he tries to keep a friendly, warm aura about the group for him. To be inviting to him when he is ready to approach him and speak some more.
Good sighed and slowly stood from his seat and took a few deep breathes and exhales to relax himself.>>752815
"I am. Seems you are as good at resolving others emotional issues as myself." he joked gently.>>752822
He took a breath and approached him "While I may still disagree with your choices, you are perhaps the only one I can speak to on the points of philosophy and feelings, so I am willing to bury the hatchet and apologize for any offense I may have given to you before."
"It's all fine, not the first time I've heard that question! I sorta lost track and don't keep me birth sheet on me all the time… but I'm in my 60s at least, don't plan on retirin' either until somethin' breaks where I can't do no more. Suit's even designed to help me in the outlands."
"Well, it's just my opinion. I'm no warrior. I'm a Diviner and a director. If it were me, I'd stay here and make all the movies I wanted with the footage I've already got. But you, you're a Warrior. I get why it sounds like a bad deal. Here's what they told me, as clear as I can express it. In the past, some few Warriors, who gained skill and fame for their deeds, began to have those dreams, remembering nothing, except a certainty that they've lost, or were about to lose, something. If ever they stopped striving, the dreams dwindled. Some, becoming obsessed, sought greater, and greater feats, to try to call the dream back. And then, when at last the dreams appeared once more… those Warriors vanished. Only thing people see of them again is their mask – worn by another Warrior, appearing and disappearing like a spirit."
Tay steps behind the curtain again to change out of their ceremonial garb. "If I had to guess, the Tiger you spoke of… could probably be your threshold. If you should defeat him, I don't know what will happen next. Surrender, or be beaten, and you'll probably avoid whatever would have come from the dream."
They step back out, tapping away at their tablet. "Anyway, I have something to tell the rest of your gang. Wanna help round 'em up?">>752815>>752825
Trajan relaxes somewhat when it's clear that Good is calming down as well.>>752822>>752825>>752815>>752819
Utqay and Nina nod, then Nina picks up her tablet. "Looks like Tay will be waiting for you by the bunker door once you're ready to be off."
"That makes me happy to hear.You are a good friend and have been reliable out there. I am also looking forward to other missions we will be heading out on." Billy announces to him.
"I-I… I see. I will take it into consideration. T-This is quite a bit to take in, so I think I will talk to the others, and see what they thing, and what I think. And, yes, I will go and get them." he says, looking more concerned and uncertain than he did before.>>752833>>752826>>752825>>752822
"Ah, hello. Tay wished to see us all before we left. He had something important to say." the griffon says, once he catches up to the group.
Zamrud smiles, and shakes his head. "No apologies necessary, young Lord. I wouldn't ask you to apologize for your beliefs, nor had I suffered any offense. To be able to speak openly with you on things such as philosophy as right and wrong is my honor and privilege as a noble."
"You're free to speak more on the matter at any time: if I am truly committing anything you find truly egregious, I would want to see I am kept in check.">>752826
"Your… 60's?!" Zamrud replies with surprise, taking another look at the old dog. "I… forgive my surprise, that's just older than I anticipated. I had initially assumed you to be your 40's, 50's maximum. At your age, not a single member of my family would still be adventuring, they're either retired or in less intensive careers. I take it the life of retirement doesn't suit you?">>752827>>752835
Zamrud leans down to finish re-packing his new modular rifle, nodding again in gratitude to Nina, Utqay, and the others. "Indeed. Soon as we've had a moment to speak to Tay about the Lots, I think it is best if we depart as soon as possible…"
As Qhapaq comes back from the elevator, he turns his attention towards the griffon. "Ah, Qhapaq, there you are. All done with Tay, then?"
As he insists upon telling the group something important, Zamrud raises his brow. "I see. Something to tell us all individually, or is it alright then if we all go to see him now?"
"That seems fine." he said as he gently reached up and debated quietly easing Trajan further with his powers, but he doubted that would work so he let it be for now.>>752833
"Oh Billy, with you by my side, I think the two of us can save this world and everyone in it.">>752839
He sighed and turned back to Zam "Noted. But… when we have time I need to speak to you in a private manner about some of the belief that I have begun to find myself carrying in these last few hours. They are… troubling."
Billy pumps his fist in the air. "Wooo!"
"I believe he wanted to see us all, so it would be best to go as a group." he explains, before shrugging. "I have been given much to think on, but I believe it must pertain to the question he asked about the crystal hearts."
Grutar snickers at hearing Zamrud's reaction to his age. "Nah, retirement is borin'. Had to stop workin' for a bit when I got my mutation, really made me realize I can't stand not workin'. I took tests, if I'm still passin' then I'm still useful, rather be out here tryin' to save someone else or keep em safe."
When at last you gather at the bunker door, Tay is there, still smelling a bit like incense.
"Sup. So, I asked about that Dragon Apuchin cut a deal with," they begin. "Whoever he is, even the Ancestors said little. There seem to be certain powers and presences around him, wrapping around him like that armor he's got on. He seems to have allies in dark places… but they've said for certain that he is a mortal being, like you or me. Finally, it seems he doesn't go many places beyond Ironcastle, but where exactly, they didn't have much in terms of specifics."
Tay frowns. "Obviously, you should take care around him. Getting involved with him means getting involved with his friends, whoever – or whatever – they might be," Tay says. "And if I had to bet, I'd put down money that those friends are the ones keeping him in mystery. The Ancestors spoke what they could… they usually spill all the dirt on those they dislike. But for him, they had little to say. They had little they could say."
"Yes…" Godspeed adds. "I understand."
"Troubling?" Zamrud repeats, not entirely sure what Good could be referring to. He nods, "Of course. We'll have plenty of time on the way back to Granpaw's village I imagine, we can walk separately from the others if you want to take time to discuss it. Hopefully I can help in some way.">>752843
He raises his brow, "Your discussion was that intensive? Interesting… I take it whatever was troubling you this morning, you've gained more insight on. What was it he asked about the Hearts?">>752844
"I see. Well, I admire your commitment. I've heard some of my older family members offer the same criticism of retirement but, usually they find other hobbies than braving the Outlands. Perhaps golf?">"Still, you seem more than suited to it with your capabilities, if I didn't know any better I'd easily mistake you for a much younger dog."
"Spendin' time here has made me realize somethin'… If I'm gettin' a new home I'm puttin' in a sauna!!">>752847
"Oh! That's one of my brother's favorite games he likes gettin' me to play whenever I visit him! Probably because he always loved just makin' his own courses when he was young, dug up holes everywhere! A bit hard to play now though with my drill, wonder what he'll think of my handicap next time."
"More insight, yet I find myself more troubled." he says, scratching the back of his neck uneasily.
Good nodded simply as he looked to the horizon. He spared a glance at Godspeed but wrote it off as he doubted she would know or care of his thoughts.>>752847
That would be good. I fear my thoughts would be… less than welcoming to others amongst our group."
"OH." Zamrud comments, "Right, dogs excel at digging. I imagine making courses and holes would be quite befitting your claws and drills," he nods, "Though, I can see how the drill could make it complicated, but isn't it modular? Can you replace the drill head with, I suppose this is rather blunt but, a driver or wedge?">>752849
Zamrud turns his head, "You learned more about what was making you uneasy and it just made you more uneasy. So often as it goes. May I ask what you learned?">>752851
"I see. Of course, I'll keep the matter private if you wish it so. Just between us, unless you're ever interested in sharing it."
"The Tiger-Masked Mutant Warrior and the odd dream are connected, in a way. Apparently, Warriors of the past that gained renown for their deeds would have dreams- muddled ones, filled with the sensation of having lost, or of being on the edge of losing something. If they stopped pushing themselves further, the dreams would fade. Others would seek out greater feats of skill to call the dreams back, and when they did, they would… disappear. Their mask would turn up upon another Warrior, appearing and disappearing."
He clears his throat a little and ruffles his wings, before continuing. "If… I surrender, or I lose, I will avoid whatever happens. If I defeat this Tiger-Masked Warrior… then, I don't know. The Divine Lots would not say more."
"The Tiger-Masked Mutant… right, I think I remember the mission docs warning us about him when we set out, didn't we? We hadn't ran into him along the journey, though I thought Galdrar may have been him at first I suspect they aren't the same after all."
As Qhapaq explains his dreams, and the rituals of the Aya, a look of confusion crosses Zamrud's face, "I'm not entirely sure I understand. These dreams, they're the result of you having accomplished a great deed, and they will persist with you so long as you continue to push yourself to do greater. And, if they are pushed far enough, they disappear entirely, including their mask? How is that possible?"
"No- I think what they meant was that the Warriors themselves would disappear- their masks appearing elsewhere, as if the one wearing it after their disappearance was a spirit. As for how, I… I-I don't know. The Outlands are a place of many abnormal things- these dreams among them, it seems."
"AH," Zamrud says, understanding a little clearer now. "I see. Well, I still question 'how' it is done, but, you're not far off the mark… there are many strange things in the Outlands, and magic is certainly no stranger to it."
"So… the idea here being that the Tiger-Mask aya is such an ascended warrior, then? One who pursued the dreams haunting him until he vanished? And now you are experiencing these same dreams of loss that lead to it. Am I following?"
Grutar chuckles at the thought of his drill being replaced entirely. "Nah… this isn't removeable. Docs told me it's made entirely from my bone, so thing is stuck to me whether I want it or not. I think the gem I touched is still in there too.">>752871>>752872>>752873
"So like a guy who got a super promotion for doing so well, but with spooky magical stuff behind it?" Grutar asks to try and understand the Tiger-Masked aya in question.
"Yes- I am not the first, and I am likely not the last, if what Tay said is to be believed. I… do not know what will happen if I encounter and defeat this Tiger-Masked Warrior, is what I meant to say.">>752874
"I… sort of?" he says, cocking his head to the side. "Promotion may not be the best word."
As Tay explains the scenario with the Dragon that had arranged for the hearts to be shipped illegally out of IronCastle, Zamrud grumbles, rubbing his chin in concern. "I see… even the Lots could only reveal so much about him, then? Well, if he sticks close to IronCastle, then he shouldn't prove too troubling to track down. I already surmised he must be fairly high up the chain to arrange something like this, but I'm curious just how deep his network goes."
"Is there any particular reason the Lots refused to share more of him? Could it be they 'liked' him then if they usually spill all they can on those they find displeasing?">>752874
"AH… I should have figured as much, given the obvious, but, I thought it couldn't help to check if it was modifiable.">>752874>>752875
"Well… I am quite curious about what would happen as well, but, if that is what we imagine may happen is your disappearance, then perhaps we might avoid the Tiger-Masked Warrior all together? He was initially of concern due to suspicions of him targeting our package, but now there's nothing for him to plunder. Do you think the dreams will only worsen if you leave him be?"
>Last time, on Anno Castra…
On the next Cycle, our explorers made ready to leave, stopping briefly for a hearty breakfast and treatment for last night's drinking. While everyone ate and gathered their strength, Nina worked a deal with Apuchin to let Zamrud have a somewhat weaker lightrifle than the one he rented for the battle against the Shadedrinker.
Tay and Qhapaq consulted the Divine Lots before our explorers left, whereupon Tay shed light on the strange dream that Qhapaq had suffered the Dark Hours before. By dreaming of losing something, but not knowing what, and awakening with his body ready to fight, Qhapaq had endured what many Outlander mutants had undergone. By facing and overcoming great trials, he had attracted the attention of certain forces, though Tay knew not what. They only knew what had befallen those other warriors who suffered the dream – first, an obsession with the dream, then, in seeking the dream more, a encounter with a mysterious warrior… only to vanish into the Outlands, never to be seen again, except when their mask appeared on the face of a new mysterious warrior.
Tay also attempted to discern the identity of the dragon who had sold obscene amounts of Crystal Hearts to Apuchin, which they had unwittingly delivered the Cycle prior. The Ancestors shared little – mostly that the dragon never went far from Ironcastle, and was allies with dark forces that kept him shrouded from remote discernment.>>752848>>752851>>753387
Tay shakes their head. "Could've been a lot of things, but their tone was unambiguous to me; they were no fans of his. I'd bet my last gigabyte that they would have said more if they could have. And if even the Ancestors aren't sayin' much, that tells me you don't wanna cross this dude's path – or at least, that of whatever forces he's made friends with."
Godspeed is silent, her eyes suddenly tired.
"So, just… be careful out there, alright?" Tay continues. "I don't want to have to add a eulogy for you at the end of this flick."
"Hrm… I… do not know. I believe if I do not seek him out, he may perhaps seek me out." he explains, shrugging a little. "Or… maybe he will not. All I know is that if I wish for the dreams to fade, I need to cease striving for more.">>753391
"Yes- we will be careful, Tay." the griffon says, bobbing his head a little bit.
Tay lightly punches you on the arm. It smarts more than what the size of their muscles would lead you to expect. "You'd better, blood."
"…your Lots, they can't be 'blackmailed', can they? It couldn't be possible that this dragon, whomever he is, could have some dirt or angle that would give them pause to move against him?"
As Tay bids them a final farewell, Zamrud gives a bow befitting a noble. "I assure you, you won't need worry about that. We'll stay in touch as best we can, and I look forward to the next time I can make the time to see you. Again," he nods to Nina and Utqay, "Thank you again for the rifle. I shall take good care of it. Take care yourselves, should you go out on more caravans.">>753392
"…you don't suppose he is having these same dreams, do you? Only about you instead? Can they be used to trace one another?"
A glance was spared towards Tay but little else as Good moved to the back of the group waiting for Zamrud to follow that they may speak in some privacy?"
"Don't worry, I'll make sure these lads get back home safe and sound." Grutar continues to help reassure Godspeed. He also double checks all of his equipment to make sure he's set.
Billy nodded his head. "Of course."
Tay just blinks at your final suggestion. "…………………………………….No.">>753394>>753395>>753396>>753398
Nina, Utqay, Ch'utiy, and even the forgetful Apuchin gather, along with the rest of Nina's caravaneers, and a few other Aya, to see you out, offering their well wishes and tribal blessings ere you go. Sancho in particular gets a few headbutts goodbye from the more hungover of the warriors.
The great bunker doors slide open, and out you walk, into the musty undercity, whose metallic corpse rots atop the bunker. Through the underground streets and subway stations you creep, remaining alert for possible attack by bandits or the Dreaded, but none come.
At last, the filth beneath your boots gives way to oily slush, as you climb the steps into the overcity. The destruction wrought by the Shadedrinker and Egregore lies open before the black sky, a testament to your victory.
"All that's left is to deliver this to Granpaw," Godspeed says, looking at the small floating Egregore with dry amusement.
>When ready to proceed back to the snail farm, make 4 navigation rolls; time will skip by 4 Cycles.
Grutar gets his flamer ready as he feels his body is ready for the next couple of cycles of walking.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
/ Roll #4 4 = 4
Billy pulls up his big boy pants and feels quite confident standing by his group.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
/ Roll #4 2 = 2
"I cannot say for certain- I do not know if the tiger-masked warrior is even still… an actual being, if that makes sense."Roll #1 7, 3, 3, 4 = 17
Zamrud takes Tay's long, hesitant pause with a great degree of concern, but doesn't press on it further for now. As the rest of the Aya file out to wish them all fare-well, he meets each of them one at a time: thanking Apuchin personally for his work in giving him the data-chip and working out all the details of the harrowing exchange over the hearts earlier, Utqay and Ch'uity for their bravery in rescuing them and later fighting alongside them against the Shadedrinker, Nina for her well-being and safe return to the bunker (as well as helping with Godspeed), and Tay for healing him multiple times and sharing their love of cinema. He takes his time waving off to them as they leave the bunker, carrying a much lighter load now than when they set out, as he prepares to face the wilds of the dark Outlands one final time on the way to Sancho's village.
"Farewell, all of you! Take care, and let our paths cross again in short time."
He pauses, looking to Godspeed as he offers a smile as they set out. "Off to go retrieve your friends then. Shall we?"
"…then, you may not fight him here on the physical plane even? If you are dreaming of confronting him, then could it be wherever it was he ascended to may be in the world of dreams?">>753395
As they start to set out, Zamrud finds an opportunity to match his pace to Goods, moving a bit behind the rest of the group while still keeping them well within sight. As he does so, he looks down to his young traveling companion.
"Well, I believe we should be out of their hearing distance, and just for safety I've turned my magicomp off for a bit. What was it you wished to speak to me about, Good?"Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
/ Roll #3 6 = 6
/ Roll #4 3 = 3
Qhapaq lets out a huff of confusion- and mild annoyance- before saying "No. No, no. No. I meant that the creature likely does not dream because I do not know if it is a living, breathing creature such as you or I."
"Do you think… that this world is one worth saving Zam?"Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
/ Roll #4 1 = 1
Zamrud shakes his head, "Forgive me, this entire concept you're explain to me is something rather new to me…"
He pauses. "Well, if it is not a living, breathing creature such as you and I… could he have become a Dreaded One?"
Zamrud blinks in surprise as Good asks that question. He takes a moment, considering it carefully, before saying in turn. "…an interesting question to be asking. I… I do not know if the world can be 'saved', but I certainly think it's worth living in all the same. It's the only one we have."
He looks up at the pitch black sky, "What would you consider saving it, might I ask? Removing all of the Dreaded Ones and bandits? The Castles' light extended to every nook and cranny of this darkened land?"
"I… suppose he could have. They are said to be spirits, supposedly. Maybe whatever it is that happens causes them to change, in some way. I wish I could say for certain."
35/5 = 7
27 = 5.4 -> 6
28 = 5.8 -> 6
14/5 = 2.8 -> 3>>753400>>753401>>753402>>753403>>753405
The journey is long, but the road familiar as you climb and creep through ancient industrial ruins, then over hard, blasted earth, and at last, boot-deep in the cool and rich soil of the giant mushroom forest, surrounded by both descendant and ancestor toadstools. The first three Cycles are calm, if only barely. Qhapaq's dreams are hazy, and his rest, fleeting. Though no dream he has compares to that mysterious dream he had during the last Dark Hours in the bunker, still the phantom of the tiger-masked warrior always seems to enshroud about him, as close as a cloak.
On the fourth Cycle, you awaken most rudely to the sight of small and ugly Dreaded Ones snatching away some of your rations. Trajan stands between the corpses of two of them, his blade stained a vicious purple. Your codex identifies them as Roblins – perhaps the weakest of the abominations that stalks the Outlands, but certainly the most annoying.
>You spend 4 meal and 4 water rations, and lose 1 of each as well from the Roblin theft.
But at last, around 1425 on the last Cycle, you see some familiar black, leafless trees. You follow the mushroom-lined road to a sturdy mushroom wood fence, where farmers and giant snails alike perform their hearty farmwork under Rind's skeletal eye-sockets.
"Mmm… smells like home," Sancho says from atop Qhapaq's shoulder.
"I do not mean the ground beneath us so much as… the very way of life we all live. Is the standard of living so many have to endure… really worth saving? Is a world of unending gray save for those privileged enough to see other colors worth continuing?"
"Smells like fungus and dirt. Which I suppose would be home to a skeleton under normal circumstances." he quipped.
"Sounds like quite a mellow country life to me. Probably just need some animals to liven things up. I am probably missing something though." Billy places his fist below his chin as he looks around.
"Hmm- this seems to be the right place, yes. We've made good time." the griffon remarks.
"I wonder if I can still drill out and eat some of these mushrooms…" Grutar ponders outloud.
"Seems as plausible a possibility as any… we've seen all too recently the prospect of a Dreaded One turning the living into their biomass." He cringes, remembering the experience on their first outing to the fort. "That said… if you continue on this path of pushing yourself, I must admit I'd be very remiss at seeing you turn into one of those things. Surely there HAS to be a middle ground between abandoning all your ambitions, and turning into a monster.">>753413
"Ah… I see." Zamrud nods, contemplating the life they all live. "…you and I certainly have had it easy, growing up in the upper Layers. For many others, it is not so fortunate. The world outside the Castles are harsh, dangerous, and within them bureaucracy and corruption can be suffocating all the same. But, as I said before… it is the only one we have. To me, I do not think I see it as whether our way of life is worth saving or not."
"Rather, I see it as the only way of life we have. Some parts of it good, some parts of it bad, but if I see error or flaw with it, I feel compelled to try and improve it through whatever practical means available to me, because the alternative is stagnation. Decay. If we don't try and make things better, things will only get worse, and then whether it's worth saving won't even be in question, because there will eventually be nothing left to save.">>753412
As they move through the mushroom fields so familiar to them from the last time they traversed them, Zamrud looks through his stores, grumbling at the prospect of their rations having been stolen like novice explorers, but grateful for having had the foresight to pick up extra rations from the bunker before they left>Note: -175 Schillings for extra supplies
As start going into the forest again, he smiles at Sancho. "Apologies we couldn't bring you home all in one piece, Sancho, though hopefully your not lacking for spirit will see Granpaw isn't too upset. We couldn't have gotten this far without you, truly."
"I agree that it is the only world we have… but at the same time… I feel it needs to be broken down to the foundations, and remade into something… greater than before. A world where all may have a good life."
You note Godspeed hanging back somewhat, making no effort to hide that she's listening in.>>753414
Sancho nods. "Never underestimate how essential proper atmosphere is.">>753416>>753418
"We do have some skeletal pigs," Sancho says. "But they have to be trained before we can let them have free rein, else they're like to eat the whole Ghostroot Forest. Which they could.">>753419
"Don't mention it," Sancho says. "It's not often I get to go on a quest, so I had plenty a fun.">>753414>>753416>>753417>>753418>>753419
As the gate guards open the fence to allow you passage, Rind perks up, and waves. "Well, how-dy. I hoped I'd see y'all again. I 'spect y'all will wanna see Granpaw, right?"
She turns and clacks on the window. "Hey, Granpaw! Granpaw! Those 'splorers are back!"
"Tell him I'll need a bit of glue and tape before I can get back to guard duty," Sancho says. "And some new armor."
"Get ready to work though," Rind shouts. "Sancho's all gone to pieces again."
She turns back to you. "C'mon in, sit a spell. Lemonade or shroom tea?"
"Lemonade sounds good… if it's actual lemonade."
"That certainly does take a whole new meaning to eat someone out a house and home," Billy replies looking to Sancho.
"Is it common for Sancho to fall into pieces?" Billy can't help but ask at the mention of again by Rind.
"Oh! I'll take some shroom tea, I wanna know what these shrooms around here taste like!"
"Mmm. It is hard to say, but I do not think there would be any way to know for sure without going further into it… but, I will be careful, Zamrud. I promise.">>753421
"Mmm… I'll go for the tea, I suppose."
"Mmm." Zamrud nods. "History has shown that many great dynasties or civilizations could come only arise from the ashes of another. It is possible that shattering the foundations to rebuild could lead to a more just world. But, I do not think it should be considered the only way, or the first way. At least until a full plan is devised for whatever may take its place. So long as the Dreaded Ones and the infinite dark remain a constant, the Light will be needed to keep them at bay. And so long as the light is needed, the Castles will be needed to guard them."
"All that said, I should also point out that I'm fond of our current dynasty. The Iron King is a capable, wise, fair, just individual who, given the power to do so, would probably fix many of the issues you see. Sadly, he does not have said power, but I hold faith in him all the same. I might recommend speaking with him, to see if he can offer any insight.">>753421>>753420
Zamrud looks back, noticing Godspeed following not too far behind and listening in, and he gives her a quick look, trying to send a subtle signal with his facial expression that he is trying to offer Good and him privacy.>>753425
Zamrud nods, "Is all I ever could ask of you, my friend. I don't suppose there may be anyone who may help with this once we return to Iron Castle… outside of a psychiatrist, but far be it from me to make such implications.">>753421
Zamrud waves to Rind as they approach. "Pleasure to see you again, Rind, and to be able to see your village again. Had a few close calls out there… some of us closer than others," he says, looking towards Sancho's talking head. "Apologies for not bringing him back in one piece but I cannot speak highly enough of his bravery. Your village is lucky to have him."
As they move in to wait for Granpaw, he thinks. "…Mushroom tea sounds interesting, I'll try a cup."
*first post meant for >>753420
She says nothing to interrupt, and turns away.>>753422
"Might taste a bit astral, but it's lemonade alright," Rind says as she heads inside and enters the kitchen. "Made from real lemon ghost trees.">>753423>>753426
"It is when he's the first one to run out the gate whenever there's bandits or monsters," Rind says.
"C'mon, you could at least play up the heroism like Zamrud!" Sancho says.>>753422>>753423>>753424>>753425>>753426
You enter a sitting room, the first door on the right from the farmhouse's entrance hall, finding many old and patchy couches and easy chairs arranged around a table. Rind comes out with a tray of the requested drinks, as well as coasters. Although the shroom tea is very much tangible (and quite bitter and invigorating), the lemonade is quite ghostly. It quenches the thirst, and is sweet and lemony, but leaves one with a haunting aftertaste.
As you sit and relax, Granpaw appears, much without warning, at the sitting room's entrance. Instead of his ordinary black cloak – as silent, and motionless, as the black sky over all the Outlands – he comes out in a decidedly more physical robe, something coarse and durable and apparently denim, with a few stains here and there. His ivory skull, and smooth, oil-slick voice, are a sharp contrast.
"Come along, Sancho," Granpaw intones.
Sancho shudders a bit, as his skull, and all his gathered bones, float away from you, and take a place floating at Granpaw's side. Granpaw's skull then slides over your way.
"Smells like you done the impossible. Not one soul lost," he says.
He looks to Zamrud, expecting the Egregore.
Billy can't help but giggle a bit at Sanchos and Rinds Exchange.
Billy stands up tall from Granpaws words feeling it to be a compliment.
I suppose. I was not suggesting we go in and invade every castle and break it down to save the world. Simply… voicing my thoughts to one who might not scold or scorn me for thinking such… counter cultural thoughts."
Grutar takes the time to quietly rest his old bones with the strange shroomy tea.
"I'm not sure- there may be a scholar or two in Ironcastle with knowledge of the Outlands, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to start with…">>753428
Qhapaq slurps at the tea quietly as he listens to Granpaw, watching the exchange.
Zamrud sits patiently in the waiting room with the others, sitting and contemplating the bitterness of his tea and how it could use a shot of lemon before Granpaw comes in, his imposing figure and energy immediately drawing all attention to him as Zamrud sets his tea down to speak. As he comments on how they went through without a single soul lost, he nods his head. "When I am assigned a mission, I always seek to fulfill to the letter. With no unnecessary losses. Though, it was fairly close at times, we may have lost many more of us if not for the local Aya tribe. Sancho I was fearful for but I was relieved to see your guards don't fall apart easily."
As he asks for the Egregore, Zamrud delivers it on its chain, nodding as he does so. "Did its job quite well. Devoured the Shadedrinker in one fell swoop.">>753430
"There are certainly many who wouldn't take kindly to such extremes, but I can't say you're wrong. History has proven that some advancements only could have come with the collapse of what was in place prior. The Castles' security may have bred contentment with the way things are. If, for example, we were to lose the Heart and the Castle became as vulnerable as everywhere else, then perhaps the Abbey, the crown, and our scientists would find some other remedy that'd benefit everyone equally. Necessity is the mother of invention, and desperation a strong motivator."
"Though, as I said, I am fond of our current leadership, and would not care to see it undone. And while it may lead to a better life in the long-run, there would be unquestionable suffering in the short-run you'd have to be prepared to accept.">>753432
"Perhaps… there are many intellectuals within the upper layers but with extensive knowledge on the Outlands and Aya in particular, that may be more rare. If I know of any, I'll be sure to see you know about them."
"Mine is the Worlds Burdens Zamrud." he responded gently as he looked to the sky "Mine… is the Worlds Burden." he said as he closed his eyes unsure what to think.
"I have no qualms with leadership, save the Abbey having far too much say over the sages at times, but…" he was unable to find the words after he wanted.>>753428
He let out a sigh and nodded "Sounds good."
Granpaw examines the Egregore, which floats around him now, bobbing up and down as if it were a grim balloon tied to the wrist of a hyperactive skeletal foal at a fair.
From an inner fold of Granpaw's robe, three glass jars float out. Godspeed immediately stands as she sees their contents – a trio of floating, curling spectral orbs, each tinted in watery, fading hues. Godspeed grits her jaw to contain herself, until Granpaw floats the three jars over to her. Immediately she takes them, and opens compartments in her armorsuit's reinforced saddlebags, carefully laying them within.
Granpaw then slides his gaze over each of you in turn. "I'll be workin' in the back. Rind, mind the place."
"Sure, Granpaw," Rind says. "Can I getchy'all anything else?"
"Oil change," La Senorita splices. "Please."
"Hrm…" Rind says. "Alright, but it'll cost ya. Go find our mechanic out back."
La Senorita rolls towards the door.
Billy decides to do some window shopping looking around if any of the shops have any new unique items.
"I can't think of anything I need. I'm fine waiting for others if they do have needs to tend to, though."
Zamrud puts a paw on the colt's shoulder. "This is only your second foray into the Outlands, Good. The world has its problems, but no one is going to have the answers without having experienced as much of this world, the light and the dark, as possible. Many men who've explored much more than you or I combined still haven't found them, but with patience, wisdom, and an open-mind, I believe anyone can. There's still plenty of time to figure things out."
"The King isn't one to call for your arrest if you were to come to him with some radical ideas either, if anything I think he's rather TOO kind. I could set up a meeting when we return if that'd interest you, he may have more insight.">>753436
Zamrud watches as the three glass jars float out, looking at the contents floating within as he turns to take a look at Godspeed, making sure she's taking the return of her comrades' souls well. As she puts them safely in her bag, he nods towards her, offering her another smile as he lets out a sigh. "Safe and sound."
He turns to look at Granpaw, nodding his head, "We offer our thanks to you again Granpaw for your assistance. If there's anything we can do to assist in Sancho's recovery, let me know, but I imagine you know a great deal more of how to fix him than I might."
He shakes his head towards Rind, "No, the tea will be good. Though we may pack up a few more supplies before heading out. What will it cost to repair Senorita?"
"It is not as if I am unable to ask myself. But I appreciate and accept the offer Zam. Perhaps we can talk philosophy."
You venture out into Granpaw's small village out back, and while the skeletons are doing fairly alright, it seems they don't have any new wares since last time. It's likely that they don't see much in the way of trade in a mushroom forest this dense, the sheer inhospitality of the Outlands notwithstanding.>>753442
"Depends what the damage is, but you're lookin' at a few hundred Schillings," Rind says. "The shop boys will give ya the full quote.">>753438>>753441>>753442>>753443
As you talk and deliberate, Godspeed, with a heavy breath, stands and leaves the farmhouse, quickly making her way for the gate.
"I suppose she is planning to make her way home quickly. Or at least I hope. She does not seem the type to pull a stupid stunt… but we all have out faults."
Pondering what else he should do. Billy decides to ask one of the shops on the writings of his grimoire since now he has a translation, but has been unable to get farther in his own readings.
As you present the grimoire to a few of the farmhooves, they have quite the tough time deciphering it. Eventually, they confess their preference for engineering and science over magic, and advise you to speak with Granpaw – he just went back toward his workshop, near the far northern end of the farm's perimeter, just up the road.
"True, if anything your father or mother could probably get you in more reliably than I could too, but still, I think if you're looking for someone to discuss philosophy, the King is a man worthy of your consideration. As I said, almost 'TOO' generous, he'd let things slide I never would. I'm sure he'd hear you out on your concerns and wouldn't hold judgement.">>753446>>753445
"In which case, have them do so. Nothing but the best for our Senorita." Zamrud says to Rind, before noticing that Godspeed stands up and leaves the farmhouse, watching her go rather quickly.
"I'll… be a moment," he says, going after Godspeed as she approaches the gate, simply watching her for now as she leaves.
Billy thanks them for their time and decides to follow their advice in seeking out grandpaw in hopes he isn't interrupting him with what he is doing with the Egregore.
Good nodded and decided to retrieve Trajan from his pouch, giving him a gentle pat on the head "I have to commend your skills with Roblyns my companion."
Qhapaq cocks his head to the side, and follows after Godspeed.
As Godspeed reaches the gate, the guards look at her with questioning gazes for her departing so early. She says something in a low voice to them, and they eventually shrug, and open the gate for her. She steps toward it, then hesitates, as she feels your eyes on her.
She walks a bit through the gateway, but this time, slower, apparently so that you may keep pace with her.>>753452
Trajan clacks his claws. Although your praise is a comfort, he appears frustrated that he was unable to stop the rest of the thieves from making off with your supplies.>>753451
As you follow the snail-made road, you eventually her a soft and steady whistling, coming from ahead. In the darkness beyond, you see a long and old workshop, showing many signs of damage and repair from untold years of occupancy. The door is open, and inside, you see Granpaw carefully arranging all of Sancho's bones atop of a necromantic diagram carved into a long slab of white stone. A few bones are missing, as Sancho predicted, and Granpaw stops to search a series of coffins arranged in shelves along the walls, while he consults what appears to be a catalog in a book.
When you draw near to the doorway, Granpaw turns briefly, continuing his whistle. His gaze lingers on you for a moment – probably the closest you'll get to a proper greeting from the ancient necromancer – and he goes back to his work.
"You left so… suddenly. Please, Godspeed- is this something you could talk to us about?"
Grutar decides to finally get up and take a small stroll himself, eventually meeting up with Billy. "I wonder how painful it is for a skeleton to lose bones." Grutar ponders with Billy to make his presence known.
"It ain't fun, lemme tell ya!" Sancho says. "It's like losin' an aaaaaa…. oh. My bad."
You can tell quite plainly that Sancho was totally going for that.
"I am Billy, and I hope I am not interrupting your work. I was hoping to have a discussion about my grimoire I have with this translation I have recently come upon recently." Billy holds his grimoire up to his chest in clear view.>>753461
"I don't think me and Good missed picking any up? I would have hoped for Sancho to speak up if we did."
"I'll have to look into getting you a tiny crossbow or something so you can fight from range too." he joked quietly.
Zamrud quickly runs towards the gate as he sees her making her way through it, slowing down as she slows down her pace but fast enough to quickly catch up with her.
"Tell me," he says, taking a quick moment to catch his breath. "You weren't trying to leave without saying goodbye, were you?"
"It's like sittin' in a weddin' between two poets!!" Grutar says, showing Sancho a sense of good comradery by revving his drill up briefly while heartily laughing.>>753464
"Looks like they got some replacements anyways, like one big recyclin' bin of bones! I kinda like it to be honest!"
"One of the benefits of being undead I assume." Billy shrugs.
"Just a couple knuckles and a vertebra," Sancho says. "Don't sweat it though, those are so hard to keep track of."
Granpaw looks at the grimoire, and it floats away from Billy's grasp as Granpaw reads it. He even flips to future pages – blank pages, pages jumbled beyond comprehension, pages that sting your eyes when you try to make sense of them.
"What do you wish to know?" Granpaw asks as he finds replacement bones for Sancho. The book floats back to Billy's grasp.>>753465
Trajan stops clacking, and turns to face you fully. Seems he didn't quite catch that it was a joke; in fact, he looks like he's considering it quite seriously.>>753466>>753460
Godspeed continues, but her pace slows to a halt once you're a considerable distance out of earshot from the guards. She does not turn to face you.
You can hear her start to form words, but every time, the syllables fall away, her words turning into muttering, as she tries, and fails, to say something…
She pauses, then breathes.
"Have either of you spoken with Mendicant Rudolph as of late?"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-UGmfA10Ic
The dissident priest of the Abbey, who exploited an intranet security loophole to disseminate his now-debunked alarmist manifesto throughout all of Ironcastle.
An event, of which Godspeed should have no knowledge."
I guess we can check the market for now." he said trotting off to see if anyone had scorpion sized ranged weaponry.
Grutar takes a moment to just idly peek at the book and scratch his beard while Billy looks at the book and talks to Granpaw.
"I… I haven't, no. I don't think I am familiar with him, apologies."
Rubbing at his eyes a bit, billy responds "I do have a translation, but I have been only to read up to one spell so far, Crystal Wall α. Everything else is blurry. I am wondering why this is, and if it is a bad thing for me or my companions."
As Godspeed drops Mendicant Rudolph's name, Zamrud's eyes open wide, his ears drop low, and he stares at Godspeed with trepidation.
"Mr. Rudolph was the… 'individual' who wrote a certain manifesto of great distress to the King. You remember, when our group first met, it was a topic of discussion?"
He pauses, turning to look towards Godspeed. "…I apologize, Godspeed, but would you mind sharing how you came across that name? I've come to realize you know some individuals from Ironcastle's Abbey like Good's mother, but Mr. Randolph's name - and his controversial articles - were meant to be kept out of the public eye as much as possible."
*first line is said towards Qhapaq
"Ah… yes, I believe I remember better now."
You spend some time asking around, and are eventually directed by the farmhooves to the metalshop operators, who apparently manufacture the weapons for Granpaw's guards. When asked about the possibility, the two operators have a bit of a back and forth as they examine Trajan and his tiny armorsuit and sword. Eventually, the operators come to an agreement, and put a proposal to you – they will make you a small crossbow, a quiver, some bolts, and tools for manufacturing more bolts from scrap metal, for a sum of 200 Schillings; most of the price comes from the very precise metalwork they'll have to do to make the thing operational.
>can roll barter to lower the price>>753477>>753478
Granpaw shakes his head lightly as he orients the replacement bones upon the stone slab.
"These things take time," Granpaw says. "Nothin' worth havin's ever come easy."
He pauses to think. It takes quite a while.
"A grimoire," he says with decision. "Ain't a mere dispenser of power. Even the wizards what get their grimoires to give up all their secrets don't seem to get it. But anythin' with magic's got a little will of its own. Wants, too. Likes and dislikes. Moods. It won't learn you nothin' if you treat it like an object. Thank it. Treat it right. Treat it kind. Learn it somethin' it don't know.">>753480>>753477
"Indeed," Godspeed says. She sits on a nearby low rock, draws her falx, and begins to trace a shape in the dirt with its edge.
"Mendicant Rudolph, an Abbean priest who spread alarm through all of Ironcastle, forcibly downloading his manifesto about the Castles' Hearts running out of their protective Light within this generation."
She looks up. "And, if my sources are correct, he published that same manifesto, through the same methods, across every Castle, on the same Cycle, at the exact same time."
She continues to trace the shape, increasing in complexity. And there is a curious effect as you look at it…
"I just…" Godspeed continues. "When I heard you and Good talking – about whether this world is worth saving – I wanted you to know that there are many of us, many of us who think so. We are well aware of the grave problems facing the Castles, and we are working toward solving them, as quickly as possible.
"But there are those who would see us fail, and all life surrendered to the unspeakable horrors that await us, when at last the final Light snuffs out, and the Dreaded Ones have nothing holding them back. To this end, this… order, of ours… must work as discreetly as we can."
Good decided to try and haggle a bit with them to try and save what little credits he had left, but he still wanted to give his small companion another weapons.
[1d10] BarterRoll #1 3 = 3
The operators inform you that they can't give you anything less than 190 for the price – 180 if you helped with some tidying work around the place.
"Thank you very much. Just a few more things on the subject. How do I learn or ask the grimoire for their name? How can I get to know them better as a person rather than as an object?" Billy tilts his head a bit. This is one of the few times he has in practicing magic.
"Every Castle… at the same time?"
Zamrud groans, reaching up to rub his forehead as he grits his teeth. "That's… decidedly not good. Here I was thinking it was at least contained to IronCastle, but you're telling me he was able to submit it to all of them at once? How is that possible, communications aren't that fast between ANY two Castles, how could he release them all at once?"
He sighs, "This will not be good news to bring back."
As she explains how she was over-hearing earlier on how he and Good were discussing whether this world was worth saving, he lowers his head, nodding. "I meant what I said when I say not everything about this world is perfect… but it's the only one I have, so of course I'll do what I can to make it better. For everyone I can."
He sits down on a rock as he watches her draw out the shape, "So… you are also part of an order with goals to try and find a solution for the 'problem' Rudolph pointed out with the heart… I originally wanted to believe it was merely baseless paranoia and conjecture on his part but, our King is convinced it truly is one and I trust the King. Are all the Kings of the Castles in agreement on this issue? Are they somehow keeping in contact with one another to try and find a solution or are we each on our own?"
Good set Trajan down on the table and agreed to 180 as he moved to start tidying, looking for a broom or other implement to use.
"He is… ehm, very affected by his first look into the rest of the world, I believe. I am… I suppose, in the Aya tradition, I focus more on 'Survival' than 'Saving'. But, I would be willing to, uhm… help this order of yours. I would like to improve things, if only a little- especially for those in the Castles threatened by this Light theft."
"Talk to it," Granpaw says. "Read it aloud. Keep the pages and the binding good and proper and clean. And don't be afraid to write in the margins. Y'might think a book wouldn't like that – but any book worth its paper doesn't say no to insight and interaction.">>753495
They direct you to where the broom and other assorted cleaning supplies are kept in a cabinet. Perhaps fittingly, it's the most tidy place in the metalshop. Meanwhile, the operators get their tools ready to make Trajan's weaponry. He watches from a nearby desk.>>753494
Godspeed shakes her head. "I don't know how he did it, and you should be careful about who you tell of this.">>753494>>753497
"As I said, we must work with discretion and secrecy," Godspeed says. "Not one member knows all of the others. We know each other by this mark."
She at last raises her falx from the dirt, and you can see that the sigil she has drawn has a mind-bending quality.
Despite being an etching in the dirt, it seems to have been infused with magic.
From every angle at which you look at it, it is different.
A lenticular image.
From one angle, it appears to be a ring of hands, interconnecting in a series of handshakes. From another angle, the hands are hooves; from still another, they are talons and claws; still other angles show every possible permutation of equivalent gesture – all of them, universal symbols of cooperation and interconnection.
"If ever you should see it, you will know one of us is at work there," Godspeed says. "If you should come across it…"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvMJH6ZMtT0
Her movement is finished before you can even hear the metal move.
Her falx is raised, pointed at the two of you.
"Then don't get involved. We will work as we must."
She looks down at the sigil.
"Our enemies have gone after our friends, acquaintances, parents, children… So please: Just let us take care of things. Don't let yourselves be caught up like them.
"Let this be upon us and us alone."
"Thank you very much Granpaw. I will do my best to put it into practice." Billy looks at his grimoire in a new light. "I wonder if you have a favorite color too." Billy takes his leave to put Granpaws words into practice to not bother anyone around him for when he reads out loud.
Zamrud stares at the symbol, as the sigil seems to grow an otherworldly design about it as he shifts his head to the left and the right to see it at different angles. After she finishes her explanation, Zamrud looks up with surprise at her weapon drawn, to which he narrows his glare.
"I see… well, all that said, Godspeed," he says with a sigh, "We're pretty well involved with the situation as it is. Our long-term goal aligns with yours: we want to find a solution to the waning light of the Hearts, our King has tasked us with it. I understand secrecy as a powerful tool, but," he waves a paw at the sigil. "I think we would best suited to helping you and others like you, rather than staying out of their way. Our company is neither weak, nor ignorant: whatever plans your group have in store, I imagine we will be more than capable of contributing to this solution."
"Huh… talkin' to books? Seems a bit silly but hey I like to talk to my drinks sometimes!" Grutar mentions with fascination in his voice.
"I… why tell us all of this, then? If we are not meant to get involved. I feel like we'll become involved, whether we would want to or not…"
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
If anyone were to see the sight of a noble scion sweeping the floors of some skeleton smiths, they might think it was the start to an odd joke, but on he went sweeping.
Last time, on Anno Castra…
Our explorers embarked on a four-Cycle journey back to Granpaw's house, whereupon they delivered the Egregore, its gut full of the Shadedrinker's remains, unto him. In exchange, he gave Godspeed the two souls of her companions, who had perished by the vile machinations of another Shadedrinker some time ago.
Godspeed attempted to leave shortly after the exchange, only to stop when Zamrud and Qhapaq confronted her. When questioned, she began to reveal something that had apparently been on her mind for quite some time… material of a conspiratorial nature. Apparently, Mendicant Rudolph had delivered his manifesto not just to Ironcastle, but to all nine of the remaining Castles, all on the same date, and at the same time, a feat nominally impossible due to the vast distances between Castles and the lack of internet connections between them. Godspeed confessed to being part of a clandestine organization that was already well aware of Rudolph's revelations, and were actively seeking to remedy the solution. Only, this order had to work in the shadows, lest their efforts be thwarted by those – yes, even their fellow living souls – who would see all the remaining light in the world snuffed out.
Meanwhile, Good, Billy and Grutar milled about Granpaw's farm. Good commissioned a small crossbow for the brave Trajan, while Grutar and Billy learned more about magic from Granpaw. Though normally recalcitrant, the ancient necromancer was more than willing to offer his advice to Billy.>>753717>>753719
Granpaw nods. "Anytime you folk are in the neighborhood, stop on by. I'd like to hear of your progress, and offer my advice.">>753723>>753717>>753719
It is as Grutar and Billy leave Granpaw's workshop and head back to the rest of the farmer's quarters, that they see Good doing the work of servants for the skeletal smiths. Said smiths appear to be working on something very, very tiny.>>753721>>753722You notice her hesitate, trying to formulate what to say next after being called on an obvious oversight.
"…Those were my thoughts, exactly," Godspeed says. "After deliberation, I revealed this because you are of the type that our foes would take notice of. Against all common sense and precepts against direct combat with the Dreaded, you accompanied a fool like me into a battle we should not have won without sacrifices – and fates unthinkable. You're powerful… and almost certainly a bit insane. Their favorite kind of person.">>753718>>753721
Godspeed holds your gaze in silence for quite some time, before lowering her sword again. Methodically, she starts to scratch out the sigil, casting it back into scattered dirt.
"If you will permit me another unorthodox question…" she begins. "Have you ever been present for someone's birth?"
"Heya, Good! Whatta you doin' lad? Got asked to help with a bit of chores or somethin'?"
Being a curious goat. Billy hops in to peek at what is going on at the smithy next to Good. "Hope you are doing alright Good. Always happy to see you around too."
"Doing a bit of work to get a discount on something for Trajan. I mentioned getting him a tiny crossbow and he fell in love with the idea. So I had to get it for my companion."
"I suppose we did work well against great odds, yes. I-I wouldn't call myself insane, but… you have somewhat of a point, yes." he says, humming a little.>>753724
"Yes, I have witnessed the birth of some of my Bones and Flesh."
Zamrud raises his brow, one of his ears flattening and a contemplative look. "I… no, I cannot say that I have. I'm learned in procedures to take during child-birth so that if I am needed, I can assist, but I've yet to actually had an occasion to put them to use. Why do you ask?"
"That sounds so cute!" Billy glows up at the idea of a tiny crossbow.
Nearby, you can see another smith performing much-needed maintenance work on La Senorita. She turns her head your way (with her gun barrel retracted). "I would – rate this establishment – five stars," she splices. >>753729>>753728https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PRUsxBkCkA
Godspeed nods. "During my training in the monasteries of the Abbey, I had to take on a project of service. Unable to decide what to do, I at last joined one of my sisters in training to become a midwife. I found… I had a talent that I did not know I had… and one that left me perplexed. I knew of the terrors of the Outlands, as does every soul born into a Castle. Yet, I could not understand these couples whom I aided. Scarce could I understand how they could fight so hard to bring another life into a doomed world. When all went well, there was rejoicing and gladness… when the worst happened, there was mourning and tears… through it all, not a question in anyone's mind, that it was better to be alive, than not. To fight for every last instant of life, to keep on going, no matter the pain nor the sacrifices. I imagine this is the case even for the tribes who dwell in the Outlands, is it not, Qhapaq?"
She sheathes her falx. "If going on living meant that you had to endure pain, endure indignities, and perhaps, even make sacrifices, would you go on?"
"Huh, wonder if they can work any magic on my old spitter here. Though I'm not sure how much work can be done on it anyways. Or if I even have the cash for it. Oh! Does this mean they'll have to make tiny arrows too for your little buddy?"
"Her speaking is getting quite good." Good noted as he smiled at the bot.>>753730
"Yeah it is, he's still kinda mad about the Roblyn's."
Zamrud pauses for a moment, giving time for collecting himself as he takes in a breath, and sighs. "Yes. I've read many a poem or story wherein the futility of life in the face of unending suffering is explored, and considering both sides of the equation, I must agree with those who would pursue life in the face of hardship."
Zamrud looks around the darkened sky, "I think that simply is our nature. So opposed were we to darkness and death that we sought out the Castles and their lights. Before then, our ancestors fought the elements to carve out their place in history. Sometimes, circumstances can be all be too overwhelming, but I do not think 'surrender' is at our core." He puts a paw over his heart. "At our core, we wish to survive. To live."
Billy decides to give Good a hug. "It is okay to be mad. I will always be here when you do need to talk about it too."
"It is, yes. We always welcome new members of the Aya into the world. The world is harsh, much as it always has been- but, our survival and our existence, as well as the strength necessary to do so in the face of such odds, is something that Aya culture is very proud of. We continue surviving, much like our Namesake did, despite the odds. I will always try to go on living."
Good blinked in surprise but happily returned said hug as he enjoyed it "I'm not mad but thanks Billy."
One of the smiths looks over and examines your flamespitter. He informs you that they can do a clean-up and a look-over for any problems, free of charge, if you wish.>>753734>>753737>>753733
La Senorita just chills; though she cannot make a facial expression with her creepy metal head, she seems just content to hang out.>>753736>>753738
"If going on living meant that someone else had to die, would you go on?" Godspeed continues.
Grutar nods and hands over his spitter happily, smiling at the chance to get his equipment cleaned up for free.
Qhapaq sighs a little bit, before saying "I… hm. I think it might depend. If it was someone I cared for, I would lay my life down for theirs."
"…a good question. I suppose that would depend on who it is that had to die." Zamrud responds. "Someone I care deeply about, perhaps. A total stranger, less likely. A criminal, even less. It relies too much on context to answer straight."
Good nodded and resumed sweeping for now after he worked his way free of Billy's grasp.
"I hope you don't mind. I do need to work better on myself as well. Granpaw gave me some advice I need to put into practice. Hope the tiny crossbow works out." Billy thanks Good for his time as he tries to find a comfortable spot to read out loud the Grimoire from start. Trying to take more care to the works themselves and ready to respond with a writing utensil in hand.
"Let me know if you need some water or rations Billy. I think I have a reading light in my pack too if it helps."
"I think I am doing well on that myself." Billy shows his unique item. "I really appreciate it though. I would love to share a meal once we get back though."
Small magical item, Box of Munchies: Once a day is filled with rations magically. Snacks held inside are eaten between his travels to tide Billy's cravings over.>>753747
+1 Due to comfy place
NonCombat Talent:[Unnerving frame]: Passive:Purposeful or not, Billy is quite intimidating in appearance that others are more likely to listen; You have +1 on all social rolls.Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
The smith rolls over a cart full of tools, some new, many quite old, and starts to do a little basic maintenance, clacking away a staccato work-tune with his bony teeth while he works.
You recall that you haven't seen Qhapaq, Zamrud or Godspeed in quite some time.>>753747>>753749
You head off by yourself to a far corner of the farm, not too far from Granpaw's workshop, but far enough that the only sounds are those of the nearby snails as they graze at small mushrooms. You settle between the roots of a dead tree, finding the bark steady and slanted enough to make a comfortable leaning-spot. Thus you open the book to begin your studies, and start to read aloud.
For now, however, everything seems to be as it was with the grimoire; nothing new pops out at you.>>753744>>753745https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u3he49bYFw
"Then, if it was not your life on the line, but others'? You know not their names, nor what they have done, nor who they are. But some must die, so that others might live. Are you able to make that decision?"
"You seen the others by the way? I started to take a peek around after I relaxed a little too much."
Good, having decided he has done a good job in making the dirt floor sufficently less… dirty, sets the supplies aside and leaves Trajan with them to watch the work.>>753751
"I'll go look for them." he said trotting out and looking for the other trio.
Undeterred, Billy decides to respond to some of the passages he has read through with his thoughts on them with the before mentioned writing utensil in claw. Trying to not take up too much space in case of writing later.
"…I suppose it would come down to algebra. How many would die compared to how many lives it'd save."
"If it answers your question: Yes, I would willing to allow others to die if it meant saving others. I would seek out all other alternatives, but I would see another Castle fall if it meant IronCastle standing at the end of the Cycle."
"I… hrm. I do not know. If the time came to it, I would make the choice I needed to."
"I'll wait here until the works all done." Grutar mentions, all the while watching his gear get cleaned just to see if he can learn something new from the smiths.
As you write down your commentary and annotations in the margins of the page, you get back to reading – only, you seem to have lost your place. Moving back up to review what you read earlier, you espy material that shouldn't even appear until the end of this chapter… then it clicks. This book's got an attitude. It's moving around paragraphs and lines to pull a prank on you, all in plain sight.>>753751>>753760
Soon the smiths call you over for some assistance. Trajan stands there with a tiny crossbow in claw, mounted to his armorsuit. With him is an array of small bits of junk, like scrap metal, screws that fell out long ago from now-broken machines, rocks and wonky paperclips. The smiths hand you some empty, rusted cans, and ask for your help with setting up a shooting range so Trajan can practice.>>753752
As you step out to leave, the smiths inform you that they'll send a messenger once they're all finished.
Since the last place you saw them was in Granpaw's sitting room, you head back there, only to find that Rind is the only one there, leafing through a tattered old magazine as she sips her lemonade. She looks up at you, then gestures to the front window. "Howdy, fellas. The other half of yer gang went out over yonder, past the gate and all. Somethin' looked like it was amiss with one of them.">>753756>>753759
Godspeed narrows her eyes, and pressure builds, from behind her gaze. With that withering look, she suddenly seems to be large, far larger than she was before. Yet, her expression is as flat and stoic as it was before, without inflection, without life.
"And if all the world had to sink into the abyss, so that you and yours could go on living?"
He nodded "Could I get some of that lemonade to go?" he asked jokingly before he trotted off to find them "Actually I will take some on the way back." he called out as he moved in the direction she motioned.
"Lookit that! Trajan's a bonafide outland warrior with that weapon!" Grutar says, impressed that they can make a tiny crossbow like that.
Trajan turns your way and nods with the slow nobility he's demonstrated before, then tries to slam down his free claw, like a fierce barbarian chief. He only makes a quiet tap on the metal table, however.
Billy giggles a bit seeing the trick of the grimoire. "I see what you did there." Billy takes out the digital translation given to him and starts to flip through the pages to find the start and begin once again reading out loud again.
"Well… that, I do not think I could do. While I care more about the Aya than I do the folk of the Castle, I would not doom them to death for the sake of my own- I am not one that should make such decisions.
Zamrud steels his gaze, but is admittedly feeling the hairs prick up on his neck as Godspeed asks them the piercing question."
"…if it was a choice between that or everyone dying anyways, I would make that call."
As you uncover the book's trick, and figure out the beginning throughout all the muddled text, you can feel your grasp of the work and its ancient language strengthening through the practice and travail.
Eventually, the book starts to put the opening sections back in order, allowing you to read it normally…
This, combined with all the reading you've done through the past few Cycles, given life to the seeds of learning in your mind…
>Pick 1 bonus:>A +1 bonus to all rolls with Crystal Wall Alpha>Unlocking the next skill in the Grimoire>>753768>>753770>>753763
As Good heads out through the farm's front gate, and down the road flowing forth from it, he sees Godspeed speaking with Qhapaq and Zamrud. Her gaze is intently trained on the two of them. Good realizes that it is possible that even this Exarch hasn't noticed him just yet.
"…I see," Godspeed murmurs at last. Her eyes flit to the ground, and she once more seems to be the small zebra mare you met many Cycles ago. "You have given honest answers, the both of you. It could be that such things will not have to come to pass… but you know full well that the fragile peace of the Castles is like a lantern floating in the ocean."
She sits down once more, and her hind hooves kick idly at the dirt. "Still… leave it to us. You will have much work of your own in your Ironcastle, as I will in Zinccastle. Our Cyclical responsibilities call to us, even as the aforementioned order deal with the greater problems of the loss of Light. Just… let my order handle things. We'll see it through – there is no need to crush good souls like yours with the burdens of the entire… world… wouldn't you agree?"
"If… if you are sure. Though, if you'd ever like assistance, I'd be more than willing to help you, Godspeed." the griffon reaches over and sets a set of heavy talons on her shoulder, giving her a gentle squeeze. "Please. Be careful. Be safe."
Billy gives a smile with the passages coming together properly. "Why thank you." I feel confident in continuing forward. Better to be diverse for many different situations than being a one-trick pony. No offense ponies, but balloons don't build bridges. No matter how special your cutie mark is. I think?
>Unlocking the next skill in the Grimoire
Zamrud sighs as she backs down, relaxing himself as the questioning winds down. "I appreciate your concern, Godspeed, but, no: I cannot say I agree."
"We know the Light is fading, however slowly: we have been tasked by our King to find a solution. I do not know what your order has in mind but, clearly, you are working towards the same problem. Here is an avenue for us to achieve the same goals, how can I allow this opportunity to pass me by to learn more? My clan's purpose is to take on burden, the burden of leadership, advising Kings and Lords, doing what must be done to protect the Castle. I will not shy away from a bit more."
He pauses, "Allow me this question: do you know if there are any in IronCastle who are part of it as well?"
His eyes narrowed a bit and part of him wondered if this was her attempting to push them to dissuade him from his beliefs. He was not entirely sure of this being the case but… it did not sit very well with the Scion of his house as he wondered if whoever she was… was she truly a friend of him.
He realized that thought was very much unlikely given how they had worked together and her attitude and yet… he felt as if she saw him as but a child playing grown up. It did not sit well with him.
He remained silent now, stopping and moving very slowly to get behind something so she would not spot him and stop.
She looks even smaller with your claw on her shoulder. She looks away, not saying much else. You can feel, even through her armorsuit, that she is tense under your grip. Yet she does not move, nor push you away.>>753774>>753776>>753779
Godspeed, hearing Zamrud refute her dismissal of your help, regains her small smile. Only now, it seems to you entirely forced.
"Very well, I should have known," she says. "I did acknowledge that you were a persistent lot… but do not push yourselves too far, not endanger your lives unnecessarily. Many solutions we have sourced, and many we have tried, and all have failed thus far. It is no problem that will go away with mere willpower and elbow grease. We're… still working on what we must do.">>753776>>753779
Godspeed thinks on this for a moment.
"I cannot say for certain. I have my suspicions, but whether they are allies true, or our enemies perfecting their disguises, it is difficult to say. Only the members of Zinccastle do I know of, but I will not name them. But, as you noted earlier, Zamrud, I knew of Lady Offbeaten Path. Her… I cannot tell what end to which she works. She knows the secret way to draw our lenticular sigil, and yet… she has spoken and acted like someone with a different agenda than our order's, altogether.">>753775
Balloons might not, but crystal might. You learn a spell that summons crystal into long stretches, suitable for walking or climbing.
>Learned Crystal Wall Beta>Spell; Recharge 1 after effect ends; Summon up to 15 meters of crystal, in the shape of a bridge, ladder, or other material suitable for climbing over, down or under obstacles. Such a structure provides +1 to rolls made to travel across them (such as when under duress).
Qhapaq frowns a little bit, trying to regain eye contact with her for a moment or two before sheepishly pulling his talons away. "I… sorry. I didn't mean to make you tense. We won't take any risks too unnecessarily, but… I would still like to help however I can."
Good remained silent from his spot, eyes narrowing as he watched with intense focus. The mention of his mother was something he found to be both confounding and slightly uncomfortable but he made a note of her mention of a secret sigil and quickly began to make notes on what she was saying, adding a note to ask his mother about this when he got back, and to not take any evasiveness without laying down if need be. He let out a shaky exhale as he turned his focus back to them, watching and waiting.
Billy makes an :O face. A bit surprised at the nature of the spell. Billy gets up with the grimoire to find an open space to test out his spell. Somewhere where a structure won't bother the inhabitants of the area hopefully. Billy decides to chant out loud for a watchtower that he can climb up and look from the top of.
Zamrud nods his head. "Well, I cannot force our way into your order's business, either. But, I just wish to offer you the same advice Godspeed, do not push yourself too far." He looks to Qhapaq, nodding in agreement. "We wish for the well-being of this world all the same as you do. And we aren't afraid to put our lives on the line to do it. I think we can accomplish this goal by working together, but we can each only follow our own path."
As she clarifies about whether there are any in IronCastle, he pauses, "Lady Offbeaten Path… I see. Well, that would explain how you know of her, and knowing her somewhat controversial take on the Abbey I am not overly surprised to hear she may be part of something like this. Though it may come as a shock to the young Lord Good."
"What you said, 'enemies', though… if you don't mind my asking this as well, could you be more specific? Your orders goal is to save the Lights of the Castles, which everyone in the Castle and a great many 'outside it' depend on as well. Who would be interested in opposing such a goal?"
Now that Trajan has his weapon ready, Grutar scrounges around for anything that might test the little guy's bow. A can, a rock, even maybe a little mushroom with a target carved into it for the bolts to stick into.
"Alright little guy, let's see what that dread sticker will do for ya out there!"
You set up a series of targets for Trajan to practice with, and the scorpion eagerly steps up, lining up his shots…
You find a space free of snails and other farm inhabitants, and summon forth a watchtower, approximately 15 meters tall. In contrast to the pink color of the other Crystal Wall spell, these crystals are a translucent, faded blue. Granpaw has built the fences around the farm high for safety, but you are able to see over them, between the umbrellas of the other great mushrooms of the Ghostroot Forest.>>753785
"It's… it's fine," Godspeed says, trying, visibly now, to keep her small smile as it is. "I'm… always like this.">>753785>>753786>>753789
"Those who have given into a false hope have made themselves our enemies," Godspeed says. "The false hope espoused, in fact, in Rudolph's manifesto – that, of the Moon and Sun. Those old legends are just that – mere legends, and yet, their many contradictory tales have captivated what we believe to be a new wave of zealots. It is they who would preclude all other options just to see a new Moon and Sun alight, just to illuminate the Diskos for a time again… and burn out what Light we still have left.
"I wonder if you were present for Rudolph's arrest… it was quite the scene. I was there as well, when he was arrested in Zinccastle. I am told that he was, in fact, arrested in every remaining Castle, not long after his manifesto went live. Quite the well-traveled malcontent, was he not?"Roll #1 1, 6, 10 = 17
The first shot ricochets off the target, and dinks off the side of your helmet, setting it to ringing, but the other two are dead-on, right on target. Trajan steps back, apparently surprised at his skill. He eagerly turns… but alas, Good is nowhere to be seen. Trajan's tail flops over as he deflates with disappointment.
Grutar rubs the side of his head, mumbling as he gets a bit annoyed at the ringing of his helmet. But after seeing Trajan hit the last two targets, Grutar lets out a cheer for him. "Bahahah! Good job there! That's a pretty good tiny dread sticker! Maybe those mushrooms are better for target practice too, I'll get you some more." He says, now looking around for more mushrooms to help Trajan practice a bit further until his equipment gets cleaned. "By the time Good gets back, you'll be a master shot!"
Billy looks to the grimoire. "You are quite amazing. You will have to tell me your name sometime. so that I can properly compliment you." Billy decides to go back down next to the tower grinning happily. He leans on the new structure tapping on it. Trying to test it for its durability. Curious if it is as strong as the Crystal Wall Alpha.
Good feels a pang of sadness from somewhere but he can't place it. He is left feeling as if he failed someone.
Shaking his head he raised a brow but continued to take notes on everything he could hear, about this Sun and Moon, making a note to look into those terms as well in his free time to see what exactly they meant. If for no other reason than to get a better understanding of the situation and to sate his love of history.
"Right, I remember reading about that… I can understand how such things can give a person hope, but we won't last long placing our faith in mere mythology. If the Sun and Moon ever were a reality, I don't imagine they're just something we'd find lying around." He nods. "So, the enemies are those faithful to Rudolph's manifest. That would make sense."
As she explains how he was arrested in Zinc-Castle, Zamrud narrows his glare, "Exceedingly well traveled… though, perhaps this may explain how he was able to send a communication to all Castles simultaneously…"
"Could it be that we're dealing with multiple 'Rudolph's? What if Rudolph isn't merely one individual… but an alias adopted by several, with the same goal of spreading the message of this manifesto?"
"Uhm… I see. A hug wouldn't help you feel better, would it?" he suggests, rubbing at the back of his head nervously. "I just want to make you feel a little better…">>753794
"Ah- that is… curious. They would damn all to death, for but a moment of seeing this Moon and Sun again?" He asks, cocking his head to the side. I wonder how many of this Rudolph there are…" he trails off, frowning a bit in thought.
While Trajan gets back up to practice his shooting, one of the skeleton mechanics gets your attention. His hooves are a bit filthy now, as are his tools, but your flamespitter is significantly cleaner now. He informs you that there is some minor wear and tear and dinks and dents from all the fighting you've done and damage you've taken. It's not enough to significantly affect the weapon's performance for now, but he warns that it might build up over time. He can repair it for 50 Schillings now if you're willing to pay.>>753798
It doesn't feel like it has the stopping power of Crystal Wall Alpha, but it's durable enough to support even Qhapaq's weight. Could very well come in useful for navigating tight passageways and halls, where flying won't be an option.
One of the farm-snails comes over and sniffs your hand, apparently looking for a treat.>>753801
"I appreciate the sentiment, it's just that, even with my healing factor, I would prefer to not walk home with broken ribs."Huhuhuh,
she tries to laugh, but she's obviously not feeling it.>>753799>>753800>>753801
Godspeed nods. "I believe that to have been the most likely case, though that does not entirely remove the dilemma of coordination. Even if Rudolph was nine actors, they are still exceedingly widespread and well-coordinated. An enviable position in comparison to my order's. Even if we are waging a shadow war with them for the sake of continued peace within the Castles, even my order must deal with conflicting goals, while their end is ultimately singular: Death."
She stops, and thinks on something else. "All nine, arrested… must have all been within close times of one another, just as every manifesto was released at the same time as well…"
Good raised a brow and pondered upon something. Her words might hint at a conspiracy much larger than she realized, one that had been planning to make itself known. Or that was what he suspected, perhaps all those holos and games he played full of intrigue and layering plots had left him seeing shadows where there weren't any. But he still made a note of everything, before he stood up and finally approached.
He may have very conflicted feelings about Godspeed and her message, but he felt a compulsion to help her.
He said nothing, letting the soft crushing of his hooves upon gravel let his position be known.
Billy decides to humor the snail's hunger with his Mushroom wand. He pulls the before-mentioned wand out of his bag to grow some mushrooms for the snail in front of him. Quite the natural wizard now aren't I.
Grutar shrugs at the skeletal mechanic. "Don't got any cash until I get paid back home." He says, not having a single shilling as he spent it all back at Ironcastle. "Appreciate the cleanin' though, I'd offer to trade a drink but I don't know if skeletons can get drunk."
"I-I'd be careful, I promise!" he says, sonmewhat frantically. "B-But, I understand.">>753802
"Mmm… that's curious, yes. Such synchronized events would be difficult. Could be some form of mutation, maybe?"
"Coordination need not be difficult if they all worked with the same, synchronized timer. They could have meet at some previous point and arranged a count-down. Though, I agree, their cooperation is enviable. Still, while your order may not be as united in exact goal, I wager there are a great many more who would not see this world destroyed than those who would."
"I think when we return to Iron-Castle, we should put our 'Rudolph' through another round of personal questioning. When he was initially apprehended, I doubt the authorities knew he had accomplices on this level in the other Castles. Now that we know this, perhaps we can get him to divulge more."
The snail munches on the mushrooms, and contentedly brushes up against you in appreciation.>>753806
The mechanic doesn't seem to mind at all, simply reiterating his recommendation that you get your flamespitter repaired.>>753803>>753808>>753807
Godspeed looks over to Good, but only offers him a nod in greeting. Thinking over the possibilities, she shakes her head. "With the Castles between hundreds and thousands of miles apart from one another, a countdown is the most likely possibility. Remote manipulation of bodies over so great a distance could simply not be done. But I wonder, more than that… announcing it to the people in the first place could have had no other objective than stirring up chaos. If not, then why bother involving the multitudes? Yet not one of the 'Rudolphs' thought to devise an outcome other than their summary arrest."
She takes a breath. "No– there's little point in indulging in speculations now. Perhaps when I conclude my business in Zinccastle, I shall do the same. If our paths cross again, I will want to know your findings."
Standing, she dusts herself off. "I suppose… I should be off then."
Billy kneels down and happily pets the snail finding it quite cute.
Good was… disappointed by the lack of reaction from the Exarch, but he hid it soon enough as he put his notes away for now "If that is your desire I will not stop you Godspeed. I only ask that if our paths cross, it be as allies and not adversaries."
Grutar nods, putting away his spitter as he tries his best to keep mental note to keep it easy on using the thing until he can afford to repair it back at the castle.
Zamrud's attention is turned when Good reveals himself as well, turning to look at the unicorn with surprise. "Good? How long have you been standing there…?" He asks the colt who was hiding earlier.
He turns to look at Godspeed as she stands up, blinking as he thinks of what to say next. "…I have a feeling our crossing paths won't be a matter of if, but when. And the next time they do, I hope we'll be closer to helping each other find a resolution to the troubling future concerning our Castles."
"Don't count us out just yet."
"Long enough Zamrud."
Last time, on Anno Castra…
The explorers spent some time unwinding at Granpaw's farm… for the most part. While Billy practiced his new magic, and Good and Grutar procured repair and manufacture services from the farm's smiths, Godspeed, Qhapaq and Zamrud had a most ominous conversation. Godspeed had revealed that Mendicant Rudolph, the dissident priest of Ironcastle's Abbey, had somehow distributed his now-debunked alarmist manifesto into all nine of the Diskos's remaining Castles, all at the exact same time.
This feat was on the face impossible, owing to the lack of easy communications between the Castles. The three speculated that it had been distributed via a countdown, but there were issues with that hypothesis. It would have required years of prior setup, owing to the vast distances between the Castles. Also, in each and every Castle, Rudolph was supposedly arrested soon after his manifesto distributed. Perhaps, then, "Rudolph" was not a person, but an alias, assumed by many malcontents…? In any case, their purpose seemed to have been to sow societal discord. In Ironcastle, at least, that discord had been quelled by the quick response of the Castle's media and Royal Family to debunk the manifesto – even though Iron King Ischyros informed our explorers that there was some truth to it, in that the Castle's Heart would eventually run dry of its Light. Godspeed confirmed this as well.
Godspeed also elaborated on her affiliation with a mysterious organization, scattered across the Castles, that sought to find a solution to their collective dilemma. They were engaged in what she termed a shadow war with another group, one that seemed to be a cult of sorts, devoted to the legend of the Moon and Sun. This second organization was willing to use any means to either revive or create the Moon and Sun, even if it meant having to burn out all the Light of the Castles' Hearts just to briefly illuminate the Diskos, and doom all life once the Light faded.
She had not yet given either organization a name.>>753826
The snail brushes against your hand for a bit longer, before slithering off to explore the farm a bit.>>753826>>754103
Most curiously, Good's been gone for a good few minutes, and neither he nor Godspeed nor Qhapaq are back…>>753829
"If I could have it my way, it will be so," Godspeed says. "But as I told Qhapaq and Zamrud from the first, the less that anyone not belonging to my organization interferes, the better those chances.">>754104
Godspeed nods, but her eyes are not on you, Good or Qhapaq, instead cast to the side.
"I have never been… skilled with words, but…"
She pauses, gathering herself.
She holds out her hoof for a shake.
Bill decides to look for his companions which he assumes are out and about the village. Though if they aren't. He can always ask around. Billy also hoped to show Grandpa Gruff about the new spell he learned from his advice.
"I only ask for the same respect be given to me by your organization." he said as he calmly approached the Exarch.
There was a long pause before he took her offer and began to shake it, though his eyes continued to watch her intently.
"I see… well, as you might have heard then," he closes his eyes. "We might have our work cut out for us upon our return to IronCastle, after all…">>754106
As Godspeed thanks them, he offers a bow, letting Good shake her hoof first before moving to shake it his own with his paw. "It was a pleasure, Godspeed. Without you, I can't say we would have made it in the end. Please see your compatriots' soul safely home, and take caution in your travels."
He clears his throat. "And… keep in contact, if you can. I would greatly care to hear from you again, soon." He smiles, "Perhaps we could share another drink."
Now with everything situated and having not seen Good for a long while, Grutar offers the small outland warrior a ride back to his bigger buddy. "C'mon, let's go see where Good went off too. Couldn't have gone too far, eh?" He says before heading out to search for them.
"So it seems yes."
Zamrud pauses, one of his ears flickering. "Are you… alright? You did hear that your… that Lady Offbeaten Path was potentially part of this group?"
"I did. Amongst other things."
"And how are you feeling concerning those things?"
After collecting Trajan, you ask around a bit after your companions. The farm's village hasn't seen them, so it's easy enough to discern that they probably haven't come back here yet. You thus head into the farmhouse proper, where you find Rind in the kitchen, cleaning up after your refreshments. When you ask her, she gestures out through the front windows.
"Somewhere out yonder," she says. "I heard the gate creak, so they musta stepped outside to talk about summat. Can't imagine they just up and left ya."
"I am… conflicted about the things I have overheard."
Billy walks forward looking for his companions. On spotting Good, Billy gives a wave and a big smaile to match as he closes the distance. "How is everything going?"
"Weird of em to be out there… Wonder what they're talkin' about.">>754107
"Heya Billy! Trajan got his little crossbow, lookit! Little fella even has some tricks to show Good." He says, bringing Trajan closer.
"I'd be less than truthful if I said I didn't feel the same. I'm unnerved by the extent of Rudolph's reach and methods, and wonder to what of this 'order' the King knows of."
"I'm also uncertain, if we were to spoke to Lady Path about this, if she would share anything she knew."
Good's eyes softened and he turned andwaved back to the others as he moved to help Trajan back on "I 'm sorry for missing you testing your shot my companion, I had to listen to some less than pleasing things." he told the scorpion.>>754119
"I intend to make a point of questioning her when we get home." he replied with a glance back to the cat.
"Take care, Godspeed. And, thank you for the help- you are always welcome among the Aya, if you have need of it.">>754106>>754112>>754119
"No sense in not trying at the least, yes?"
"Nice!." Billy bends over a bit to see the crossbow. Appreciating the handiwork in the small item.
"I also learned something new myself. With the help of Grandpa Gruff and Grimoire I have learned a new spell."Billy puffs up with confiedence.
"Ah! There you are, Good! What kinda unsavory stuff didja catch in your ear?" Grutar asks with curiosity.
"I'm proud of ya Billy.">>754124
"I believe that Zamrud might do better to explain."
Trajan eagerly clacks his claws. Good can see a small crossbow hooked up to his foreclaw, positioned and proportioned to make it easy for the scorpion to load up bolts, but also small rocks and other dangerous objects as ammo. Trajan loads up a stone, and shoots it at a nearby Ancestor's Stool, making a tiny dent in the mushroom.>>754108>>754109>>754121>>754118>>754117https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmYSsVGoyQg
Godspeed gently shakes Good's hoof and Qhapaq's claws, then when it's time to shake Zamrud's, she hesitates, letting her hoof linger in his paw for longer than one might expect. She looks up and holds his gaze for a time, and he can see, needing no mutation, that her eyes are heavy and plainly sad.
"I… would be glad to," Godspeed says. "I'll… be in contact… when I can."
When Grutar and Billy come down the path, Godspeed flinches, her focus disrupted, but relaxes slightly when she recognizes them. Briefly she turns away, but then looks back, blinking rapidly.
"Billy, Grutar… my apologies. I was nearly about to leave without saying farewell, wasn't I? Please, take care… I am sure your companions will fill you in on what we discussed, but… as for m-myself, I must n-needs be off…"
Before she can turn away again, as she clearly wishes, Trajan clacks his claws, clearly upset by the Exarch's strange demeanor and will to leave. Cautiously she approaches, and extends her hoof, which he bumps with his claw. "A-and, how could I forget you? Kindly, guard your liege. 'Tis a dangerous world we live in."
"…understood." Zamrud says with a nod. "Then, we'll leave seeking out answers from her to you, unless you prefer company. Otherwise, I was interested in questioning Rudolph himself as well."
Billy glows from the praise looking as happy as he can be.>>754126
"Do stay safe Godspeed. It was wonderful traveling with you and I do hope to see you again someday."
"Mmm. Please, if we cross paths again, do not be a stranger." the griffon says, offering a little wave as she turns to leave.>>754127
"I am likely not the best at seeking answers, but I can come along, if needbe."
He found her exchange with Trajan to bring a bit of levity before approaching her "Godspeed, if you wish, I can take on the burdens of your heart, so you may make this journey with less heaviness upon it.">>754127
"I shall leave it to you if you wish to join me Zamrud. My doors have always been open to you."
Zamrud holds the shake in his paw for as long as Godspeed wills, looking at her intently as he gauges the sadness pooling within them.
Before letting her hoof go, he puts the other paw on it, nodding. "I eagerly look forward to it… farewell for now, Godspeed."
Reluctantly, he lets the hoof go, watching as she goes to bid goodbyes to Grutar, Billy, and of course Trajan as well, smiling as she goes to give her as warm a departure as possible.
"Oh hey there, Godspeed! I'll be takin' care of myself the others while we're out here." He says, giving her a minor salute. Though he does wait until she would leave before leaning in to talk with Zamrud.
"Oi, Zam, she seemed a bit down. Did somethin' happen while I was gone?"
At this she frowns, and her brow furrows – a shadow of frustration overtakes her for but a moment, before she regains control, and goes back to being on the verge of tears as she was. "Please, don't… don't offer that. Not to me, nor to anyone. One's own heart has enough weight to crush it. To take on someone else's burdens, in addition to your own… it's to consign your heart to be broken. Just care for what you must care, and protect what you must protect. Knowing that you'll be doing that is enough to assuage me."
She forces a smile, but her eyes cannot hide or deceive her true feelings.>>754131>>754129>>754128>>754131>>754132
Godspeed at last turns away. "Give La Senorita my regards, please," she says, before starting to head into the darkness.
Trajan deflates, curling up a little on Good's shoulder.
"She didn't sound well. Did something happen while I was gone?" Billy asks sounding a bit nervous.
He rather surprisingly moved forward and in front of the other, stamping his hoof into the dirt "Do not… talk down to me as if I am incapable of handling that burden Godspeed. I was born with this ability to help others, and I will not let others go like that if I am able to." he said, somewhere between indignant anger and a genuine plea of compassion.
Zamrud nods. "Thank you. I would have understood if you considered it a personal, private matter. But if you aren't opposed, I would like to be there when you speak with her.">>754132
Zamrud looks to Grutar, hears flopping down as he sighs looking at Godspeed as she bids farewell. "Yes… she did. I don't think she wants to leave our group. I can certainly relate, but our duties are pulling us in different directions for now…">>754133
Zamrud looks at her as she begins to go off, his own bit of unhappiness welling up inside as he takes a step forward to go after her. Pausing for a moment, he wonders if it's healthy to prolong the moment further than it has been, and pauses.
He takes a breath, deciding to try and ease the pain of diverging paths as much he can, as he raises his hand up high and waves it in an unusually encouraging way for him. "We WILL see each other soon, Godspeed. Look forward to it."
"Mmm. Saying goodbye is… hard for her, I believe. At least, that is what I imagine the reason to be. I do hope we run into her again."
"I do hope so too as well. She was quite a kind and strong creature." Billy smiles at the thought.
She looks down at you, more than a head taller, and now no longer seeming as small as she did just now. Her eyes, though wet at the rims, are blank – she has forced them to be.
She pats you on the head… as soft and gentle as her touch is, in light of your words, it might feel more like a slap across the face.
"This burden, you cannot carry," she says, and steps around you to continue on her way.
>social rolls required for more information>>754137>>754136>>754134>>754135
Without looking back, Godspeed waves as she continues into the darkness, before it envelops her.
"Ah… yeah… I honestly get that, was real hard partin' with the last crew I had. Also why I never went into the datin' scene, was too married to my job." Grutar says, patting Zamrud on the shoulder as he shows a sympathetic frown. "Best we can hope for is we'll see her again. Besides if she works out here like us she's bound to run into us even if it takes awhile."
Good… well the terms seething might be the best turn as his anger rolled off of him. Anger at her for denying his help, anger at her society for putting her in this situation, and anger at himself for being unable to fix the issue as he looked down, stamping his hoof into the dirt over and over, gritting his teeth until they hurt "Dammit all." he grunted before his anger abated and he was left with an unpleasant emptiness inside of himself. One he could simply not fill with kind words or thoughts to distract himself.
He hated it.
He wanted to go home and get this over with now.
"Sounds like you are quite busy. Does your job treat you nicely at least?" Billy tilts his head.
Zamrud nods, "Harder for her than most, I think… she struck me as one who didn't find it easy to socialize with others. Now just as she's opening up, she has to leave again. It can't be easy."
He sighs, "But, as you said… we all work out here more often than not. I'm hopeful we'll run into her once more. Soon, she's good company.">>754139>>754141
Zamrud watches as she pats Good's head condescendingly after his declaration and her insisting he couldn't handle it, feeling quite a bit of sympathy for him as he watches Godspeed head off into the darkness, still waving after her and keeping his emotions in check as the zebra departed.
He sighs in sadness at finally seeing her go, before looking to Good, "Don't let her get to you. She seems like someone who has her reasons for not wanting to share her burdens. One day, she'll realize what we're truly capable of."
"When I had a normal arm? Yeah, when I don't? Not so much… They didn't like risks with folk who got mutations like mine. But, when I got a different boss he was able to pull me back in by sendin' me to Ironcastle. Might be away from family but they always knew where my passion is.">>754143
Grutar gives Zamrud a more cheery smile. "There ya go! Keep thinkin' that and the next time she sees us we'll all be smilin'!"
"Indeed she shall." was the not at all ominous reply.
"Mmm, I had assumed as much. She has her reasons for not wanting to split her burdens. For now, do what you feel you need to to be able to later prove you can help. Home, for now, is for the best."
Behind you, you hear a tongue click. "Tarnation…"
You look back, and see Rind, carrying with her a fresh class of lemonade, ghostly vapor rising from the liquid. How she clicked her lack of a tongue, it's hard to say. But, in any case…
"That little lady told a fib. Couldn't tell ya what it was or why, but I could feel it," Rind says. She sips her drink. "Seemed awful sore about it, though. Like she didn't want to."
She pauses, stirring her drink, and shrugs. "…Anyway, I don't mean to make things strange. I only came out here t'tell ya that yer robit's all done with her repairs. Oh, and Granpaw wants to know if you'll be spending the Cycle here."
Good looked over "Is that my glass?" he asked with a flat tone as he felt worn out by the ordeal now "As for staying, I don't know."
"Ahh. Happy it all worked out in the end and I am glad to be working with you.">>754147
"Thank you kindly for coming and letting us know." Billy bows his head a slight bit.