No.751376[Last 50 Posts]
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Cutlass, Alder and Cerulean went south through the jungles of Cuauhtemoc, seeking after Captain Bee Holder and her four first mates, to update them on the situation with the informant, and the investigation of Gullveig's attack. It wasn't long before they found them, as the Watchkeepers seemed to guard the southern regions of the island far more jealously than the northern ones, and Bee Holder's party were forced to turn back after surviving encounter after encounter.
Cloud aided Mallea, Thessaly and Godot in collecting medicinal plants to restock their supplies following all the intense battles that had plagued their stay on this mysterious island.
Meanwhile, aboard the Thunder Serpent, Captain Kukulcan and his own trusted inner circle raised an automaton of their own – but not one of the Watchkeepers, over whom Kukulcan supposedly had authority as a god of the island. Rather, it was Two Tons, a sapient construction purchased on the Black Market. They were not expecting any manner of intelligence from the robot, so rather than press it into indentured servitude, Kukulcan negotiated for the robot's loyalty in exchange for fair wages, living accommodations and mutual aid.
Kukulcan shakes your hoof with gusto. "Good to have you aboard, sir. We shall discuss the details of your pay and employment once you have had a chance to acquaint yourself with the rest of the crew. Come, and I shall introduce you, though be warned that not all of them are with us for the moment."
>Cerulean, Alder, Cutlass
Bee Holder stops and considers for a moment as she takes in everything that you've said. "…Well then! Looks like we're the ones in need of getting caught up."
"You cleared that entire place by yourself!?" Bent Scales exclaims to Cerulean. "Respect! But, Captain, doesn't this mean we can get that map made now?"
"After we see what Mallea needs our blood for," Sickly Sweet says.
"Whatever it is, I'll bet it's to do with why you sought us out directly instead of calling ahead," Bee Holder says. "Let's be off."
Despite being down an eye and an all-knowing crow spirit, you aid Godot in finding most of the roots and shoots and bulbs and leaves upon his list. Godot hums to himself as he works, occasionally looking back to you. After a time, he signals to his goat bodyguards, and they plop down upon pony-sized tree roots to have a break.
"Worried?" he asks, offering you a handkerchief for the sweat upon your brow.
"Truth be told, I don't know why we are here," Cutlass shrugs. "I'm just following along until we get back on track. So, let's get back as soon as possible, please."
"Not entirely by myself. I had Roger and Tabasco helping me along the way," she responds with a big, playful grin.
"Yeah, but I don't think I can say just yet cause of 'that problem' we have and all."
"Ah, yes- it has to do with, ehm…" he looks around, before saying "The attack on Ms. Gullveig. We want to try and identify whose blood it was we found, and perhaps try to find out about any other traitors from there… though, I am rather curious- what do you do with traitors on a ship? Leave them on an island?"
The automaton for his part nodded happily and moved to follow the friendly stranger.
Bee Holder just smiles. "Perhaps you may find out. I know not to spoil a good surprise."
"Oh, right," Bent Scales adds. "You joined after
the last traitor. Yeah… that's… yeah.">>751378>>751379>>751380
At Bee Holder's behest, you head back to the Hidden Dagger,
explaining the situation thus far, up from Cloud's discovery of Gullveig's shop yesterday, to the investigation that Chiu, Mallea and Thessaly conducted, to Mallea's blood testing. By the end of it, they agree to provide Mallea with blood samples, and after a while, Sickly Sweet comes back from the Beesting
with Chiu's blood sample.
"Okay…" Mallea sighs as Bee Holder and her first mates devour the last of her cookies. "Is that everyone?"
"Droplet and the others are still aboard the Thunder Serpent,"
Mallea sighs. "Right, then. I'll take a small party to retrieve theirs."
Ossie looks out the window. "It's still early afternoon… you should be able to get there by nightfall. Just stay the night, as they've allowed us to do until now."
"Right," Mallea says. "Well, with the Captain's permission, anyway. Forgive me, Cutlass. I am not used to sea life."
"I see no reason to stay here. We might as well head back to the Thunder Serpent and retrieve the blood samples ourselves. This goose chase is not our top priority right now, anyway. We need to get back to the assault on that vault."
Ossie frowns. "If I make a suggestion, Captain: why not allow your crew to deal with it so that you can focus on the Vault?"
"Of course. My crew is welcome to do whatever they want as long as it's not hurting us."
"Though, if you remember my suggestion last night, then this problem will resolve itself soon enough," Cutlass says cryptically.
Cloud takes the handkercheif, wiping off his face from the heat of the island.
"A-A little," Cloud says, not realizing he's been on edge the whole time until called out. "Still not all that comfortable being in the forest after losing a leg, even with all the guards."
Alder swallows a little bit, before nervously flicking his tail, and coiling it around one of his hindlegs. "A-Ah! Well, I was, ehm, just curious, but I suppose I will wait until the time comes.">>751382
"This is everyone, aside from those aboard the Thunder Serpent- would you like any of us to accompany you to it, Miss Mallea?"
"Well if anybody goes there, I wanna tag along. With a bunch of other stuff happening while I was in the temple, I'm feeling kinda uneasy about all them…."
Kukulcan gestures about the area. "You have already met myself, Miss Two Reeds – our ship's Accompass, by the by – and the indomitable Sir Diamantaire."
He turns to where the tall, imposing griffon once stood, only to find a completely different griffon, one of a normal size, and a normal, quadruped posture, standing where he once was. He carries a dark red ball under one arm. "Sup? Name's Cycle Kick," he says, holding out his fist for a bump.
Nobody acknowledges this abrupt change of appearance.
Following this, they go up on deck, and begin the introductions of a wide variety of sailors. They are of diverse races, but the majority appear to be Vola, with Krikral and Puros being close runners-up. There are quite many – you'll have trouble remembering this many names.They're mooks.
Mallea frowns at the mixed signals. "I won't turn down your help, but I gather that Captain Cutlass wishes to focus on the Vault we have seen so frequently in our accursed dreams, than the investigation. If you shall entrust this task to me, I'll take Miss Sunshine, Puddin Tame and a few of your other sailors as my backup," Mallea says. "Godot shall remain behind as Vice-Captain while Miss Sunshine's away.">>751386
"Yes, yes," Godot says. He withdraws some fruit and fish from his pack, offering you the fruit. "Not to mention all else that you must have on your mind at this moment."
After snacking on the fish, he looks back your way. "I understand you got a newspaper on your last trip back to Agyl. May I borrow it?"
That's a neat trick you got right there bud." He says to the now smaller and significantly more rad Griffin. "You should wear a backwards hat."
At seeing all the others though his mechanical jaw hangs open "Wow… It must be a nightmare to organize so many birthday parties."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
"Thanks," Cloud says, taking the fruit and biting down on one.
He nods, pulling the paper out of his pocket and handing it to Godot. He swallows his mouthful of fruit as he looks over it.
"So, what'd you do to get your bounty so high? And to have dead only too?"
"That would be a catastrophically bad idea," Cutlass responds to Mallea. "The last thing we need right now is less people on the ship being vigilant. We can find a way to send them back to you for a blood test."
"That being said, if we're taking the assassins out of the field, I'd be open to taking one or two crew members with us as backup," Cutlass adds after a moment of thought.
"Hmm…I dunno. There's just too much stuff happening at once. Its like picking between a tasty tuna or a just as tasty grouper." Has a look of bewilderment: both at the situation and reliving that dilemma in her head.
"Mmm, very well. Do not hesitate to call if you need something, though. I would not want any others to get hurt from investigating this mess."
Just as you ask that – indeed, even before – Godot has already flipped to the section on bounties. His beak is turned with annoyance, and he says nothing for a moment. "They reduced it…" he remarks, before idly flipping to other sections.
He looks over the edge of the paper as you ask what earned such a bounty. "I suppose that telling you is a different matter than telling the Captain… I was instrumental in a certain war effort. More accurately, it was thanks to the weapons I designed that the war did not end in disaster for our side.">>751390
"Trick?" Cycle asks, genuinely not understanding you.
As you look about, you see that the massive galleon ship is docked at a lake. Surrounding the lake is a vast wetland, bordered to the north and south by tall, dense jungle, and to the west and east by a long river that flows through the lake. Upon the eastern horizon, you see a large ziggurat.
"Thankfully, my sailors are quite on top of reminders of important dates. Now, let's go meet Itz," Kukulcan says, taking you down the gangplank, to where you see a hairless diamond dog sitting by a campfire.
He turns, and leers at you with suspicion, not saying a word. Three perfectly symmetrical mats, filled with perfectly symmetrical lineups of foodstuffs and tools, surround him.>>751392>>751393>>751394>>751395
Mallea shrugs. "Well, Cerulean, Alder, you're not part of our ship, so you don't have to take Cutlass's orders, but it looks like she doesn't want us to split up, so I'll be following her direction. Do as you wish. Captain, I'll depart at your command – just give me a moment to write some instructions down for Godot and Thessaly."
"Weapons for a war?" Cloud repeats, taking another bite of fruit. "But why would they want you dead only? I would think they'd want that info, or for you to make more for them or something."
Two tons veered off to look at those piles intently, eyes, if they could grow, massive at them as he looked at the items with such awe and wonder in his face. He wanted to touch, and yet he mustn't as it would undo the careful work this strange dog had done.
"Man if I could eat I would totally wanna try one of these maybe. I don't know." he said as he moved around with surprising speed to look at these many things in detail. He had forgotten what he was supposed to be doing now because this was quite neat.
"Wait, wait, wait," Cutlass says, shaking her hooves in the air for everyone to slow down. "There seems to be some miscommunication here."
"What I'm proposing is that Alder, Cloud, Cerulean, and I - and two or three others if they want to come - go back to the Thunder Serpent to prepare for the attack on the Vault. When we get there, we will send Colobok, Sparkler, and Droplet back to the Hidden Dagger so that Mallea can give them their blood tests here."
"On a side note, since we'll be going to the vault soon, we'll need to be sure to bring the control rod that Cerulean retrieved and the sun crystal with us."
"Everyone good with this?"
"I think that works well enough, yes- thank you for the correction, Captain." he says, to Cutlass.
"OH! That makes way more sense, I think! Yeah, let's do that! And no worries, I've been carrying the rod around so it doesn't leave my sight," she says and pats the rod that is currently strapped to her back.
"Good, in that case, let's go get some chunks of sun crystal. After that, let's find Cloud so we can head over the Thunder Serpent together."
Cutlass looks to Mallea. "Where is the Sun Crystal being stored?">>751401
"Good thinking," Cutlass says with a satisfied nod.
"It is precisely because both of those are true that I turned away from weapons dealing and manufacturing," Godot says. "And it is why they gave me such a bounty. Originally, my bounty came in at 100,000 Bits – an attempt at intimidating me, and enticing bounty hunters to go after me. I raised my bounty – through certain ignominious deeds that I made no attempt to hide – to strongly discourage my pursuers from bothering me. In retaliation, they…"
He pauses. "Cloud, I am a doctor. A dealer of herbs and medicines that save lives at certain doses – and take them at others. I can turn food and drink toxic with but a glance, and counteract that poison just as easily. Do you understand what it is that I contributed to weapons manufacturing – a field so conventionally different from my own?">>751398
Itz somehow narrows his eyes even more than they already were, which would seem impossible at first.
Kukulcan clears his throat. "It appears he is busy. Now then, where is…?"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-mirYruXFo
"Hello, hello!" a voice calls from behind. You turn, and see a unicorn standing upon the gangplank, wearing a robe of intricate folds, the likes of which you have not seen in your travels. "Ah, I see you've awoken it. How good."
"Magoja!" Kukulcan says. "Mister Tons, you have this gentlecolt to thank for your presence here. It was on his recommendation we purchased you."
"It just seemed like the right decision at the right time," Magoja says sheepishly. "No need to offer me so much credit. How are you, then, Mister Tons?">>751399>>751400>>751401>>751402
"Ah," Mallea says, head slumping to the side as she gazes at the floor of the infirmary, body limp as if dead.
"I gather you had an ulterior motive," Thessaly deadpans.
"Fresh air, stretching my legs…" Mallea complains. "No matter. The Captain has taken the helm, and I have pledged my service.">>751402
"We set it up in the port town's plaza," Bee Holder says. "It's focused on that Metal Man we took in two days ago. Make sure you leave enough to keep him pinned! I've already had one crewmate incapacitated because of that thing, I'll not suffer another."
There was a pause before he tilted his head and clomped on over, grabbing a gentle hold of the robes "Kinda worried about my friend but pretty good. A bit stiff though from being like a statue for so long. You ever been a statue? It's not very fun, it's like… all black and you dunno what's going on for a long time and then you wake up and some people wanna take you on a quest or something."
"I promise you, Mallea," Cutlass says, consolingly. "As soon as we are down to just one crisis at a time, you will have your opportunity for relaxation and sight-seeing.">>751403>>751401>>751400
"Thank you, Bee Holder. I'd rather no go out there alone. Not that Ossie isn't an excellent body guard. But, more bodies are always better. Care to come with me?" she asks Alder and Cerulean.
"Oh, don't be like that," she says to Mallea in an attempt to cheer her up, "you can take a break, ya know. Like five minutes personal time. Or maybe more.">>751405
"Of course! I've got some words with Kukulcan if he brings up some stuff. Plus, you guys mentioned Crimson King was around, right? Well I think its only polite I show myself since we do have a wager going." She grins and chuckles a bit.
"Perhaps a member of the Bee Holder should come along with us then- I would be happy to come along, Captain Cutlass. Perhaps we can bring along Cane Shuga- just in case we run into danger."
"We still have to find Cloud, so we still have some time before we've actually left," Cutlass comments as they head off the ship to go get some sun crystal.
"Right- I will go track him down, then."
"Close!" Magoja replies. "I was frozen for quite some time, imprisoned in a deep place. Only through the aid of certain travelers did I manage to survive. I always say that my one power is being in the right place at the right time, and even then, that held true."
He seems unbothered by the grabbing of his robes. "Would it assuage your concerns if I assured you that your friend was not far off?">>751405>>751406
"First the manor, now this ship," Mallea grumbles.
Thessaly's eyebrows fly to the top of her head at this flippancy.>>751405>>751406>>751407
Bee Holder nods to Cane Shuga, who gets up, and snatches the last cookie from the tray before Kling-Klang can grab it. As Bee Holder and her other first mates swear vengeance upon Cane, he trots to the deck, snickering all the while.
Following Bee Holder's instructions, you head to the plaza of the port town, where you see the body of the Metal Man, guarded by mooks from both ships. Etch and Splendid are there as well, observing the Godray Crystal as it hovers over the body of the Metal Man. Much of the Metal Man is covered with palm fronds, burlap sacks, and whatever else the pirates could spare, but his center is exposed, and thus the light of the Sun Serpent keeps it pinned.
Etch nods as you arrive. Cane Shuga, wasting no time, explains the plan to break off some chunks of the Crystal for easier use. Etch thinks about this for a moment, then takes his tools, and experimentally taps at the Crystal's surface. After some time of testing it, he starts to break off hoof-sized chunks for each of you, leaving about half the Crystal left when he's done.
"We'll want more than one of these things if we can manage it," Etch observes as he passes out the crystal chunks to each of you.
He nodded so hard his head looked like it might fly off before he stopped and tilted his head in confusion wondering as to how this stranger might know this.
Confusion was all but written on his face.
"Well… I was just expecting to have Cerulean bite at it or something," Cutlass laughs. "This was MUCH more sophisticated."
Cutlass takes a chunk and some more chunks to give to others. She holds one out to her shadow for Ossie to take. "I wonder if you can even hold this…" she ponders aloud.
"Now, with that done, let's go find Cloud," she says with a sigh at the end of the sentence.
"Cerulean biting might cause a little bit too much damage, but it could probably work."
Cloud listens to Godot's story, sounding like a classic tale of getting roped into a bigger web than originally intended.
"…Was it chemical weapons?"
He answers after a moment of thought.
Cerulean decides to let Mallea be cranky for now and follows along with the others.>>751410>>751412
"Oh neat!" She takes the rock and looks over it a bit.
"Yeah, no, I don't really enjoy biting into really hard stuff like this. Maybe with my tail I could've, or it could've been some fun practice with my aura tools I got from the temple."
"What aura tools did you get from the temple!?" Cutlass asks, sounding a combination of exasperated and jealous. Or exasperated with how jealous she is.
Ossie takes it without issue. "No, I trained to bring objects in here," she says. "That way I wouldn't have to be naked.">>751414
"What was desired more than anything was a swift, and unquestionable, final word on the war. What better method than…"
Godot silently folds the paper and hands it back to you. Rather than say more, he looks past you. "We may discuss this further at another time. The Captain approacheth.">>751412>>751415>>751414>>751413
You find Cloud and Godot sitting at the jungle's overgrown edge, at the northwestern end of town, along with Godot's three bodyguards.
"Captain," Godot says. "Why do I have the dread suspicion you are here to abduct my research assistant.">>751411
"He won't be here immediately," Magoja says. "But it will not be overlong until you can see him again."
Kukulcan approaches with curiosity. "One of the Beestings
or the Secret Assassins?
"Mmm, I forget which," Magoja adds cryptically. "But speaking of them, Captain, isn't it about time we check in with Cerulean?"
"Oh!" Kukulcan says, his crest arising again. "Thank you, Mister Magoja. Two Tons, feel free to show yourself around. I've an ally to touch base with.">>751415
Your Conch begins to ring.
"I was more thinking about the odd condition of holding sunlight within a shadow," Cutlass responds to Ossie.>>751417>>751414
Cutlass can't help but laugh at Godot's question. "No way!" she says, in apologetic disbelief. "I am so sorry! This is just a ridiculous string of coincidences, I swear!"
"What did Godot rope you into doing this time?" Cutlass asks, looking to Cloud.
Cloud nods, taking the paper and tucking it away.
"Alright, I'll take your word on that.">>751417>>751416>>751415>>751413
Cloud turns, ears perking up as the others approach.
"Oh, hey guys. How's things going back at the ship with the testing?">>751418
"He didn't rope me into anything. I volunteered to help gathers herbs and plants."
He nodded and paused for a moment to look over the piles of pleasant symmetry once more before he went through and did his best to introduce himself to all of the mooks, Trying to get their names and birthdays so he could later send them gifts when said birthdays happened. That was what it meant to be a good friend.
"Ah! Hello, Cloud. We were looking for you- we were going to retrieve the last few from the Thunder Serpent. Care to join us?"
"To be clear, going to send them back to get their blood test would be the last step in this hunt for now, and the first step in getting back to the reason we came to this awful place."
"Oh, right. We still have a few on his ship still. We kinda lost track after meeting back with Cerulean and then all that stuff at Gullveig's, didn't we?">>751422
"Well there's still the blood where Hmm got attacked, Thessaly and Mallea need to do something with my eye to get that later."
"These," she says and shows a bunch of blacksmith tools that looked normal enough, but then had her aura flow through it much like water.
"Thanks to these, its how I made Torpedo, and put the spider guardian back together after I beat it up. The real Thunder Serpent let me keep them.">>751417>>751419
"Hey Cloud. Things are-" she's about to speak, but then her conch rings.
"Ah, sorry, gotta take this…I think. No clue who it is."
She reaches for her conch and takes it out.
"Heyo, Cerulean here!"
"It's not fair…" Cutlass grumbles.>>751423
"How soon and quickly can that be handled? If it's fast, we can do it before we go."
Cloud nods, not wanting to interrupt the phone call.>>751425
"Thessaly said I'd have to be put under, so I'm not sure."
"Mhmm- but, we are trying to mend it, now. Sort of."
"Sounds like something that should wait, then. We can't waste too much time. Kukulcan will only wait so long before he just attacks the vault himself."
"Cerulean!" comes Kukulcan's voice through the Conch. "What happened in the Skull Temple? Where are you now? We've not seen fin nor tail of you in quite some time, so I thought I'd check in so that we can coordinate our efforts to crack the Vault once more.">>751419>>751421>>751424>>751418
"Fine, fine," Godot says with mock annoyance (though it's hard to tell, given it's practically his default emotion. "Take him away, take him away. My guards and I will deal with this on our lonesome…">>751420
You take some time to thoroughly introduce yourself to each member of Kukulcan's crew. Most are pleasant enough, but some are quite overwhelming with their bombastic energy and physicality, clapping you on the back and shoulders despite you being made of metal. You're not sure if you can remember all those names, but they definitely remember yours. There's about 50 mooks in all.
"There's one more member," Two Reeds says, approaching. "A mare by the name of Juniper Yumeno. She should be with the Beesting
now, but we'll be regrouping in time. She and Cycle Kick are a package deal, normally."
"I don't know how long blood will last in there, so I intend to get it done as soon as possible. Kukulcan needs that staff, right? I don't think he'll do anything without it."
There was a delay "Oh you mean that guy who looked rad? Neat!"
Cloud stands up, popping the last of the fruit Godot gave him in his mouth.
"It is important we get the others back to our own ships. But hey, if you find any small sprouts or seeds of the plants you need still, I can grow you a whole stock from it."
He suggests to Godot.
"Well- ready to go, Cloud? If you need to hang back, I understand."
"He seemed to regard the staff as optional."
Then, Cutlass sighs. "Fine. We can at least see how long this will take."
"Oh, hey Kukulcan! Well, what happened was me and my friends passed all those trials," she says victoriously into the conch, giving a brief summary of her encounters, though she leaves out meeting the real Thunder Serpent and all that transpired there.
"But yeah, anyways, so I got that staff. Its really pretty."
>Last time, on PirateQuest…>>751702>>751703
"Off with you, have fun without me," Godot says, waving you away as a grouchy old bird (which he is) might wave away a fledgling (which you are not). >>751700
Two Reeds nods, though she doesn't quite seem to know your meaning. More of a nod to move the conversation along.
"Since you'll be working with us, we should get you up to speed on the situation. Both to begin the introduction, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I must ask: Have you been having any strange dreams – if you dream at all?"
Indeed, come to think of it, your CPU's information processing function has been producing strange subroutines as of late. In the middle of compartmentalizing and compressing the day's gathered information, you've been coming across strange visions not matching anything you've seen in your "Waking" state. Visions of a high Vault door, blurry, pixelated icons of humanoids, all in what appears to be diving equipment, waging battle against mechanical monsters that arise from thick jungle, like that which you've seen surrounding this lake…>>751702>>751703>>751704>>751705
"Incredible, miss Cerulean!" he at last exclaims, so loud that even Cloud, Alder and Cerulean can hear. "Unbelievable! Stupendous! This brings our plans along faster than I had hoped! Outstanding! If you were in my employ, I'd give you a raise – ask your Captain to give one in my stead!"
He clears his throat, calming down.
"Yes, well, I understand that you left our ship not long ago. But, if you are willing to come back, we might discuss the next step in prying open this damnable Vault in person."
As you discuss this, Cane Shuga and Mallea approach, Mallea having a noticeable bit of pep in her step from finally being let off the ship.
He stood there for a long moment staring into the sky "Huh… that's new… kinda neat though." he said before pausing again, mouth agape "So should I do something if I'm dreaming? I have to admit that these are weirder than the ones I usually have, but those are of back when me and my pal had fun… not like these werid things with big doors and weird art."
"Before we get going, CLOUD has to COMPLICATE everything and get some business concluded first," Cutlass announces to everyone pointedly.
Cerulean holds the conch away as it was a tad loud even for her, but she chuckles a bit as the compliments are poured on. She takes a moment to wave to Cane and Mallea before putting the conch back up to her ear.
"Aww, thanks. And sure, I think we were about to head to you to check up on our friends with you, so it works out.">>751706>>751708
Cerulean looks over at Cutlass and gives a slight inhale.
"Or…maybe might have to wait a bit. Dunno what's going on there, but I'll tell you all the juicer details when I get to ya…whenever I get to ya."
Cutlass waits until Cerulean is done with the conch to talk to her.
"We could bring you along next time, Mister Godot." he says, wacing a little in response and heading off.>>751706
"Oh! Hello, Mallea, Cane Shuga. Are you both ready to go, then?" he asks, fluttering his wings a little bit.>>751708>>751702
"Ah! What is the matter, Cloud?"
"Yea, I'm good to go.">>751708>>751711
"I'm not complicating anything, I had already established business," Cloud retorts to Cutlass's announcement.
"Thessaly and Mallea were going to use a spell to get the blood from my eye that I saw where Hmm was attacked. But Thessaly is working on dechipering a book of Gullveig's we found, so it'll be a little later. But getting back to the ship is fine, I can go with you guys no problem."
Two Reeds is plainly surprised. "Incredible… are you allowed to divulge information on your making…? Oh, don't answer that, lest I be distracted all the day long. To answer your question: No. If you are capable of moving during those dreams, which most of us are not, I would not recommend doing anything, except perhaps to run away from the Vault, and any of those strange beings who come forth from it."
She begins to elaborate. It seems that all who have been on this expedition have had those dreams in some form or another as they drew near to the island. Those dreams are of the Vault, and the tall figures who emerge from it are known only as the Metal Men. The mechanical beasts – machines of obsidian and ancient, advanced technology – are called the Watchkeepers, who arise each night to fight a losing battle against the Metal Men as they try to steal more and more of the island into the Vault.
"Any living being who so much as grazes the Metal Men are left as little more than husks," Two Reeds says. "We seek to plunge the Vault's depths in the hope of finding some manner of dislodging it from this Island, or this plane of reality, whatever the case may be."
She stops to think. "Is there aught else I forgot to mention…? Oh, and Kukulcan and I are gods of this island.">>751708>>751709>>751711>>751712
Mallea looks about between all of you, especially between Cutlass and Cloud over their dispute. "Dysfunctional… though I doubt that's a rare thing among pirates!"
"We'd be little better than mariners if we weren't," Cane says. "Come on, we're burning day snake light."
There's the way you took last time, through the Gibbon Village, a somewhat indirect route forced by the terrain and the omnipresence of the powerful Watchkeepers. However, the gibbons may be on high alert this time, given your last visit to the Village. And, with the Key of the High Mechpriest, the Watchkeepers may not be an issue…
>Choose either the Gibbon Village route, or opt for a new route. Majority rules. Roll navigation (with a collective +1 bonus from Cane's presence) if you opt for a new route.
"Neat." was the response as he really didn't seem to have a grasp of metaphysics or anything else that wasn't catching his immediate interest "Say do you think I would be a husk? I'm already made of metal."
"Considering we just robbed the gibbons, we should avoid their village. We'll be safe enough with Cerulean's staff."
>find a new path around the village [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Cerulean gets done with her conch call and looks to Cutlass.
"Hey, what's up? You looked like you needed to talk to me or something," she asks as she follows along, helping with finding a new path.
>New route option
[1d10+1]Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
"Who were you talking to?"
"What, you couldn't heard from how loud he was," she asks with a slight laugh.
"Just Kukulcan. He hadn't seen me in awhile, so was checking up on how I did in the temple."
"Oh, you're coming along Mallea?"
Cloud asks as she and Cane join the group.
As they make their way forward into the forest, Cloud follows behind the others, keeping close to the group, still not all too comfortable going through the island.>New Route [1d10+1]>Echolocation if applicable>Echolocation: passive; Bat ponies can use the sound reflected off of objects to “see” their surroundings. Your ability to see is unaffected by darkness. While in low-light conditions, enemies without means of seeing in the dark (e.g. Light sources, Hawkeye, Phase Aura, Fourth Eye, Hornlight and similar effects) have DC+1 to all rolls against you, you receive a +1 bonus to all rolls against them, and you are counted as stealthed to them (But you don’t gain the Autocrit bonus of Stealth).Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
"Okay, so if I was following that conversation correctly, you were implying you'd tell him about our hunt for the informant?"
"Don't do that. Don't tell anyone who isn't in our crew. But, most importantly, don't tell Kukulcan. He works for The Crimson King - as does the informant."
>>751713>New route! [1d10]
"It is not rare, it seems. Cloud and Cutlass tend to be rather… like this. I am surprised neither has attempted to strangle each other."Roll #1 8 = 8
"What? No! Why would I tell him that stuff?!" She blurts out, sounding almost offended.
"I was just gonna tell him in more detail of what I went through. Like how I used my aura chains to ride on the back of a dragon."
Two Reeds pauses to think. "Hrm… it would depend on the nature of your consciousness… Watchkeepers possess an animal soul, which is of a lower order on the Chain of Being than mortals. Yet, perhaps owing to their mechanical bodies, they are less afflicted by the Metal Men's touch than mortals are. They are still lost, with enough exposure, but they are far more resistant, still. As for you – well, I suppose the answer lies in whether you have a soul. Then, have you one?">>751715>>751716>>751721>>751719https://youtu.be/H8NTdrl-MEI
You reach the hill's crest, where you previously turned south, and eventually found the bridge to the Gibbon's Village. However, as you survey the Sundial Plaza from this hill, you see that some slopes on its northeastern face look climbable. Opting then for a more direct route, you pick your way down from this hill, first proceeding north down a somewhat steep drop, before the path evens out toward the west, and leads into a low, bowl-shaped valley, full of high trees.
It's surprisingly cool, and even peaceful in this bowl valley, down where the sun-serpent's light can hardly reach. Ambient glows come from nearby moss and mushrooms. Cane takes point, hacking down thorny brush with a machete.
About an hour or so of hiking later, Mallea aggressively suggests a break. Despite her typical stoic demeanor, she's clearly sweating, unaccustomed to such a long walk as you are.
Obliging her demand, Cane clears a little space around a cluster of rocks, allowing you a space for respite.
"I… don't know… I never tried to find out."
Two Reeds nods. "Let us pray that you do not discover from a deadly encounter with the Metal Men. Now then, if you had any other questions, please ask away. Otherwise, feel free to explore the camp as you wish. I'd not venture far out without aid. Or, there's always lots of work to be done around here, if you've a mind to occupy your time like that."
>brief timeskip available when desired
He nodded and happily moved off to go and help the mooks out while they work. He figured it'd be the best way to make some more friends.
Cloud eases up as they journey along without running into anything. With the cool valley helping fend off the sun's rays, Cloud starts to look over the flora around them more, noticeably so when they pass the glowing moss and mushrooms.
When the protests for a break come, Cloud sits down, gladly taking the respite. Seeing how uncomfortable Mallea looks, his eye glows lightly as he attempts to conjure a cool cloud over her to give her some extra shade.
"You doing alright there?">Climate Control [Clouds] [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Are you alright, Miss Mallea? The heat is quite unforgiving… here, take some of my water." the griffon remarks, passing her a canteen. He'll take a seat and stretch out, before pulling out his guitar and tuning it idly.
>>751723>Cerulean, Alder, Cloud, Cutlass
You feel slightly dizzy, as, unbeknownst to you, timelines merge… but it is for but a moment, and once it is gone, you realize that Juniper is there as well. She in fact has been with you this entire time. She's looking through her glittery, sticker-covered grimoire while resting during the break.
"I know that feeling," Cutlass laughs when Mallea demands a break. "I wasn't so unlike you when I first became a pirate. To be honest, I hadn't noticed how much these years had… toned me," Cutlass says, sounding proud of herself.
"Where did you get all those stickers?" Cutlass asks Juniper, eyeing her book cover.Roll #1 6 = 6
"Ah! Doing alright, Miss Juniper? I could share some of my water, if you would like."
"Whew…hopefully that's just the heat," Cerulean says as she shakes off the dizziness and takes a look around.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Mallea grunts her thanks, and as Alder passes his canteen, she takes a wooden cup and a couple of odd tablets from her bag, pours the water and drops in the tablets, then passes back the canteen. The water fizzles, turning a light red, before she sips it.>>751730
"Are you calling me young and spry, or yourself old and wrinkled?" Mallea scoffs.
Juniper looks over the grimoire. "Oh, some of these I already had collected from the Black Market. These new ones" – she points to the more detailed and colorful stickers – "I commissioned your crewmate, Make Believe, for.">>751731
"Oh, I'm good!" Juniper says. "I'm super used to hikes like these.">>751731>>751730>>751727>>751732
As you sit and talk, Cutlass, before the others, notices a large Watchkeeper snake approaching the party from behind, nearest to Cerulean. >>751726
The mooks are friendly enough as you approach again. A cluster of them, whom you spy working out near the lakeside, usher you over. Other groups protest, but the lakeside mooks chase them off with some rough and coarse banter. The others walk away, swearing their vengeance just as coarsely.
One of them, commenting on your metal physique, asks for a spot of sparring and wrestling, if you can manage it. Apparently, your metal body makes them tag you as a good training partner for battle with the Watchkeepers and the Metal Men, if you are willing to humor them.
The robot assumed a thinking pose and nodded. He had a bit of a soft spot for grappling so he figured he could spend a nice chunk of time having fun with them as he posed a bit.
"I'm calling us both pampered and sheltered," Cutlass responds to Mallea. "At least as far as manual labor and a general level of cleanliness are concerned.">>751733
"I thought so," Cutlass nods to Juniper. "I didn't think a sticker enthusiast could have contact with my crew without having made contact with Make Believe."
Cutlass pauses for a moment. "Off the black market?" she asks suddenly. "Stickers?">>751733>>751732
"Cerulean," Cutlass blurts out with the same sort of mild urgency one might have when they see a big spider. "There's one of those obsidian things sneaking up on you. Use that staff."
"Huh, what?" Cerulean holds the staff out, but looks around frantically, not seeing the snake right away.
[1d10+1] Time to GrappleRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
As they rest and rejuvenate, and spotting Alder take out his instrument to play, Cloud takes out the boney lute he got before. He didn't get a chance to try it after tuning it, or showing it off to Chiu, when they got caught up in the investigation of Gullveig. And it was one of the last things he talked to Hmm about before that as well. He frowns, but then tries to play it, seeing if the lesson stuck.>Strum [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Cloud peers over as Mallea puts some tablets in her water, turning it red.
"What's that you got?"
"The giant snake right behind you!" Cutlass shouts in a combination of growing panic and annoyance.
"Ah, you are? Glad to hear it, Miss Juniper. I am quite used to the outdoors, though the heat… not so much, ehehe…" the griffon flicks his ears a bit, before strumming his guitar's strings a few times.>>751733
Alder blinks at Mallea, before asking "Ehm… w-what was that? Is everything okay?"
You put up a good effort, but despite your weight and your grapples, the mooks manage to lift and toss you a short distance onto the soft grass. They'll be paying for it though, as you can tell from them massaging their muscles afterward. They help you up in case you want to go another round.>>751735
Mallea scoffs. "Speak for yourself. I may get winded easily, but if you knew what mischief I get up to in graveyards, 'pampered' would be the last word on your tongue."
Juniper nods. "You can get anything on the Black Market, even Clear and Gray Market stuff. As for what
kind of stickers you can get there, it depends. Usually, stuff that would get censored, such as for themes of blasphemy, or subversion against kings and barons. Or, if they're made of restricted materials, or maybe counterfeits of particular company properties… but mine aren't so exciting. These Black Market stickers of mine are a custom order, and I happened to find someone there who undercut the usual commission rates…"
She smiles sheepishly. "Can you tell I'm kinda broke?"
Then, she gasps, making a connection she didn't think about previously. "Oh, but don't worry, I didn't scam Make Believe. He doesn't charge much either… he could really make more money if he wanted.">>751739>>751741
"Something I made myself," Mallea says. "They make any water fizzy and flavorful."
She takes out another couple of cups, and a tablet. "Pour yourself some water, and I'll show you.">>751741>>751738>>751740>>751736
As Cerulean produces the staff, the Watchkeeper snake slithers into your makeshift campground, with Cane Shuga readying his gun, and Juniper her grimoire. Mallea, however, is totally relaxed as she sips her fizzy drink.
As for the snake… it glances at Cerulean, then to Alder and Cloud as they have out their instruments. It observes them, waiting for a performance.
Mallea scoffs at Cutlass's panic.
"Huh?" Cerulean turns around, and then finally sees the snake.
"Oh! Well hey there big guy," she greets as it observes them. She looks at the staff with a head tilt and a satisfied sigh or sorts.
"Huh, guess all I have to do is hold it out."
Two tons took a moment and all but sprinted back into the thick of it.
[1d10+1] Round 2Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
"Really? Neat, Juniper has something similar to that too," Cloud says as he takes the cup. He looks over to Alder. "Got some water to spare?"
The casual talk cuts short as the Watchkeeper snake comes into view, Cloud nearly jumping back in his seat, wings spread to bolt until he sees it just sit there, eyeing his lute. He looks down at his instrument, slowing his breathing after the near heart attack.
"This must be karma for those snake-charmer jokes."
He mumbles to himself, making sure his instrument is in tune to avoid another attack from the dolls, and this snake, before strumming out a tune.>Song [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Ah! Alright, sure!" the griffon chirps, pouring himself a cup of water and presenting it to the unicorn.>>751742
"Hmm? Sure, I can try a little something." the griffon says, strumming his guitar again.>[1d10+1]Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"You had to dig the holes yourself!?" Cutlass says in a mock sort of scandalous voice. "You didn't have servants to do it for you? How shameful!">>751742
Cutlass shrugs. "I didn't even know he was selling stickers. Besides, I don't think you COULD cheat Make Believe if you wanted."
"It strikes me as a bit odd, though. That you can be broke as a treasure hunter. Unless you're all just really unsuccessful.">>751743
Cutlass stares at the snake for a moment. "Cerulean, I hope this goes without saying, but do NOT give that staff to anyone."
"More like a big spender," Juniper says. "It's a vicious cycle."
Mallea either deliberately ignores your humor, or misses it entirely. "If I'm to prepare a corpse properly, or harvest my desired materials, or whatever the cause may be, I do it myself, lest it be done poorly.">>751747>>751746>>751745>>751743
Perhaps due to the atmosphere of worry and anxiety around the snake's appearance, Cloud and Alder's impromptu duet is more than a bit shaky. The Watchkeeper snake is quick to lose interest, turning instead to Cutlass. Sir Pent crawls out of her hat, rearing up in a defensive posture as he prepares to defend Cutlass, and even Monty looks up, leering at the Watchkeeper. However, the Watchkeeper just seems content to hang out near her and Cutlass.
"Wonder how much control you can command over them with that staff," Cane Shuga thinks aloud. "Cerulean, care to give it a shot, test its limits?">>751744
You very handily redeem yourself, learning quickly the mooks' tactics, and manage to wrassle the lot into submission despite their best efforts to the contrary.
While the mooks take a moment to recover and catch their breath, you spy something to the south… two shapes emerge from the jungle. It's hard to tell at this distance, but one appears to be a dachshund diamond dog, and the other, a young colt in a blue gi.
Much like the big lug he is, Two Tons hops off the pile of victory had had made and bounded on over to meet the friends he hadn't made yet.
"Alright…hmm…let me see…ahh! Got it!" Cerulean steps forward and taps the staff to get the snakes attention.
"Play dead," she says in an authoritative voice.
Cloud tenses up as his performance isn't the best, expecting the snake to lunge, but when it turns away to Cutlass instead, opting to chill around her instead, he let's out a sigh of relief.
"S-So, uh, Mallea, how about that drink?"
He asks, holding out his cup to try the tablet.
"Ahaha… it could have gone better for us, no?" he suggests, gently ruffling Cloud's mane. In the mean time, he'll take a sip of the now-flavored water Mallea gave him.
"You and I had very different upbringings…" Cutlass deadpans. "And, not even because of the whole demon/necromancer thing.">>751748
Cutlass smiles at the odd circumstances that has lead to yet another snake taking an interest in her. "My moniker should have been Snake Queen, at this rate," she laughs.
"A bit more practice would help for sure," Cloud comments, giving his mane a flip after the ruffle. "Not having a giant snake for the first performance would be a plus too."
Immediately, the snake flops over, mouth open as if in the throes of death-agony. A moment later, it's peeking up at Cerulean, even as it plays dead, as it awaits her next command.
Mallea then obliges Alder and Cloud, pouring their drinks. The result is a fizzy, strawberry-flavored drink, quite sweet and tasty, and quite energizing. Juniper, upon seeing this, starts up a conversation about the subject. Juniper looks like she regrets it quite quickly, as Mallea takes the opportunity to begin a long and academic lecture on chemistry.
Cane Shuga takes the chance to sit in a nearby tree to keep watch as you recover and recouperate.
>roll navigation when ready to get moving again.>>751749
The two have a start, and brace themselves as they see you running up on them. However, they don't attack, and after you stop, there's a long pause where neither of them says anything, but they glance back and forth between each other. Eventually, both stare at you…
At last, the dog gasps, and shakes his head. "Whoops! Forgot, I actually have to talk, talk.
Uhh, hey there. I'm looking for a mister Kukulcan. You seen him?"
He gestures to the colt. "Short stuff here says he doesn't think he's met you. He's Make Believe."
"Think he's back on the boat, my names Two Tons of Fun. But you can call me whatever nickname you want." he said as he knelt down next to Make Believe and grinned "I was like a statue for a bit but I don't normally do that, so it was a learning experience."
Cloud glances over as the snake plays dead, deciding to keep away from these constructs even with the safe control Cerulean has over them.
He takes a sip of the drink, and then takes another chug.
"Wow, this is great! Got any more of those tablets to spare?" Cloud asks eagerly.
When Mallea get set on her lecture of chemistry, finishes off his drink, slightly intrigued.
"Oh, hey that reminds me. Mallea, you got anything cool you can do with Esthis Sap?"
Alder snickers a little as Juniper is given a long, dry, academic explanation of the drink tablets. He finishes his water and begins to pack up to continue on.>Navigation: [1d10]>>751754
"Mmm… strange audiences here, yes. On the plus side, most performances ought to be less nerve-wracking!"Roll #1 9 = 9
"Is there any alcohol in those?" Cutlass asks as she eyes the drinks Mallea is handing out.
Once the others are ready to go, Cutlass leaves as well.
>[1d10] navigationRoll #1 4 = 4
"You're right, nothing can be more intimidating than a giant snake."
Cerulean giggles a bit and pets the snake.
"Alright, now go and go back to what you were doing, but do not attack anyone I'm traveling with, okay?"
She then looks to the others.
"Alright, I think I'm good to go."
Make Believe tilts his head at you, as if confused by your very existence. He then cautiously reaches out, holding out his hoof. It is empty at first glance – until you see the glowing sphere of Aura atop it.>>751759
"I refuse to serve you alcohol," Mallea says. "Even if you were of age, I shudder to think what this would unleash upon the world.">>751757
Mallea blinks. "Tis like asking if a recipe calls for water… well, not quite, anyway. It's a rare and potent thing, yet unmatched in its versatility. Though, not everything calls for it. It enhances nearly every combination of chemicals you can pour it into, and of course, not all is well when everything is at maximum strength. Some tinctures are downright poisonous if they're too strong. I suppose you could always sell it for no small fortune, but it would be a grave insult to whoever entrusted you with it.">>751762
The snake gets up at your command, and slithers off.>>751762>>751760>>751759>>751759
Between Alder's aerial directions and Cane's navigating on the ground, you manage to suss out a decent route westward, directly from the abandoned port town, to the mountain upon which the Sundial Plaza was built. The path up the mountain is somewhat steep and more than a little treacherous from loose rocks and skittish little critters here and there, but with some effort, you manage to climb up the northeastern face of the mountain, and reach the Sundial Plaza, just as you did many days ago.
Mallea, taking another breather, trots over to the western end of the Plaza, peering out over toward the Dreamer's Moon with her spyglass.
"Hullo…" she mutters. "Make Believe and Schnitzel seem to have beat us here… are they speaking with an automaton? Captain, come and see this."
There was a long pause before the robotic form slowly reached out as if to touch the ball. Then he tried to touch it.
"Hmm? An automaton? What kind is it, if I might ask?" he says, scooching over to take a look.
Cerulean waves to the snake as it slithers off, then looks at the staff.
"Wow, that was actually really easy!"
"Wait, is one of those obsidian things actually able to talk," she asks and moves closer, also curious.
The automaton had a very equine base form, to the point of just looking like a big metal pony with armor plating that seemed to be capable of moving and redeploying itself.
"I drink all the time," Cutlass objects. "It's not THAT bad!">>751763
"They… beat us here? Why are they even here at all?" Cutlass asks, growing more confused by the second.
[1d10] to see what Mallea is seeingRoll #1 5 = 5
>Last time, on PirateQuest…
Our crew escorted Mallea, along with Cane Shuga and Juniper Yumeno, toward the Thunder Serpent,
so that Mallea could collect the last of the blood samples from Prisma, Paraiba and Droplet, along with their mooks. They were able to take a shorter route because of Cerulean's Key of the High Mechpriest, which rendered docile the Obsidian Watchkeepers.>>751764
The aura sphere disappears as you touch it, shrinking into your hoof as your body absorbs it. You soon hear a new, youthful voice in your head.Uh, hi! Can you hear me? Did it work?
The colt before you waves at you, suggesting the voice belongs to him. It definitely sounds like it matches.
"Either way, you know if Kukulcan's taking inquiries right now?" the diamond dog asks. Introduce yourself,
the colt scolds the dog.
"Eh… right," the dog says, obviously harboring trepidation about giving out his name. "I'm Vice-Captain Schnitzel, of the Hidden Dagger.
Mallea leans back, grumbling like a cat forced into a bath as you all scooch in to try to peer through her spyglass. She passes it to you then squeezes out the back to get some personal space once more. Through it, you can see the automaton speaking to Make Believe and Schnitzel, though you cannot hear what's going on.
"Perhaps Kukulcan was hiding a crewmate," Mallea guesses. "As to why it remained hidden, I can hardly guess."
"It?" Juniper asks. "Oh! Does it look like a robo-pony?"
"You are acquainted?" Mallea asks.
"Yeah, he was below-deck for the longest time," Juniper continues. "I honestly just thought he was a decoration we might have gotten as a promo deal on the Black Market. If he's moving, it might be for the first time as far as I know."
"I don't care about any of this! I want to know how and why Schnitzel and Make Believe are here!"
Cutlass pulls out her conch and says into the code that calls Schnitzel.
"Hmm. Well, maybe we ought to check it out.">>752059
"That too, of course."
"Sorry, I have to take this," Schnitzel says to Two Tons, pulling out a vibrating conch from his bag. He holds it up to his hear.
"Vice-Captain Schnitzel of the Hidden Dagger,
" he says, not bothering to walk away.
I think he's on the boat. I dunno if hes doing stuff with Ink but he's probably able to talk. I dunno. I got super distracted by this guy making piles of stuff and then I started wrestling the crew."
There was a moment before the lightbulb kicked in.
"Oh hey you can do that aura stuff my friend can do… Cept his doesn't make voices in my head." He said as he poked his head "Thats kinda neat. He'd probably go insane if I could be in his head all the time." He laughed.
"What are you doing? Why are you here? HOW are you here?" Cutlass asks in a huff.
"Oh go ahead, I'll be quiet." He said midway through his sentence.
"Hey, its not made of obsidian and stuff. Though guess we'll find out once she calms down a bit," she says with a giggling motion to Cutlass on her conch.
Cloud steps over to the spyglass to see what everypony else is seeing.
"Wait, they have a robot over there?"
"Captain!" Schnitzel greets. He nods to Two Tons, rolling his eyes as he points at the conch. He at last turns about and heads over to the lakeside further to get out of earshot.>>752062Oh, another Aura-user? Cool!
Make Believe says while Schnitzel walks off. Well, I was gonna talk to Kukulcan, but I wanna know more about your friend, if you don't mind. Are you busy?
He starts to trot toward the Thunder Serpent,
hoping you'll follow him.>>752065>>752066>>752060>>752059
"Shall we carry her down there?" Mallea asks. >>752063
"The how and the what aren't all that important," Schnitzel continues. "But, I'm here… because I'm weak, cap."
He starts to sniffle.
"Everyone else can do super-cool, super-strong Aura techniques, and all I can do is… oh, I'm useless! I can only see it!
His sniveling gives way to tears. "So I'm here to train with Kukulcan's crew, 'cause they're stronger than ours! That way, I can get stronger, so that what happened to Zerk and Cap'n Plague can never happen again! That way, I can defend you and all our friends!"
While he cries, you recall what he said to you via Make Believe's telepathic connection earlier in the day – about developing a special Aura Ability that would ensure the Informant's apprehension.
"I mean I guess so. But I gotta be careful about what I say. He told me not to go blabbing too much to strangers." He said as he followed the colt "But I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk a little."
"Sure, we might as well. If the automaton is talking, it must be decent, at least."
"Tempting as it would be to get a free hug on her, I think she'd get super mad if we were to do that. Plus, she's on the conch. I think that'd be a little rude to do that to her right now."
Cutlass stays silent for a moment. She contemplates at first calling him out for his crocodile tears. But, she then realizes it's not for her benefit.
"I see," Cutlass responds. "I would have preferred if you told me first."
"Also, I SAW you roll your eyes at me. I'm coming down now."
Cutlass heads down toward the two of them.
"Yea let's hurry down. I met somepony was looking for a robot, so this could take out a lot of jobs at once."
Make Believe laughs. Right, sounds like he knows his stuff. Don't worry, I won't ask you to divulge his abilities. But I take it that you can use Aura too, right?
Make Believe heads back around the camp, until you spy Captain Kukulcan speaking with Two Reeds, Sir Diamantaire, and Cycle Kick. They sit about a table, pushing about figurines between them.
Make Believe pauses. Hmm… let's wait until they're done. I'll want Schnitzel here for this.
After some time, Schnitzel approaches, frowning as he sees the Captain conversing with his inner circle. "Okay… Two Tons, your crew and mine are officially working together – as I'm sure you're aware. But, I've never really directly spoken with the guy, let alone asked him for a favor. Any advice?">>752071
You see Schnitzel whip about, trying to pick out your vantage point from which you saw his cheeky gesture. He says nothing as he tries, and fails, to play it cool. "S-sure, Captain, I'll see you soon.">>752069>>752070>>752071>>752072
As you come down the small mountain atop which rests the Sundial Plaza, you see Schnitzel walking around the Dreamer's Moon, from the east end to the west end. There, he speaks a bit with Make Believe and the automaton as they watch Kukulcan and his inner circle, along with Cycle Kick, speaking around a table. Nearby, Kukulcan's crewmates perform their daily tasks.
You are still far off, so it is unlikely that either the trio or Kukulcan's group have noticed you.
"I… Dunno. I don't think So. But maybe? I never really tried." He adjusted a bit "Most of the stuff I've seen is him doing stuff with other stuff. I never really had to wonder if I could do it because he could do it ya know?"
He seemed rather pensive on the matter as he mulled over if he could.
"As for him… I unno he was pretty friendly so… Be friendly? He offered me to join in for a cut of the loot so I think thats friendly."
"If no one else has any business to conduct, I think it's time we had a business meeting."
Cloud looks ahead, wary of Kukulcan's group and Cycle Kick after all the events earlier. He changes his focus to the robot with Make Believe and Schnitzel, heading over towards them to see this construct up close.
"I don't know much of business, but yeah, let's start the talking stuff!"
"Sure- I think that would be for the best. It seems like we are unnoticed as of yet. so why not head down?"
>>752074Sounds like a lotta stuff,
Make Believe says with a silent laugh. But the reason I ask is that I never really wondered what an autonomous life made with Aura would be capable of doing. It makes sense that, regardless of your own capacity, you'd be able to see Aura because you've been made with it. Are there more automata like you?>>752074
"Friendly, huh?" Schnitzel wonders. "Hmm… okay, thanks pal."
He approaches Kukulcan. "Scuse me, Cap–"
"Schnitzel, my lad!" Kukulcan squawks, flipping about. The crest atop his head flies up, as does his hat. While Schnitzel stands there, wide-eyed at such a loud greeting, Kukulcan catches his hat. "What may I assist you with?"
"Ah… well, sir, it's just that… frankly, I don't think I'm strong enough to be of any use to you. This expedition and everything we've seen has all been quite overwhelming. If it's not too much to ask… I'd like to request your crew's help with training myself, and my friend here, Make Believe!"
He bows his head, subtly shivering. Kukulcan reaches out… and pats him on the head.
"Of course, lad!" Kukulcan squawks again. "But only on condition that you relax, and not be so formal. I agreed to take your crew, and the Beesting,
as partners in this grand expedition, and I will not have fear and worry undermining our beneficial relationship."
"Th-thank you, sir," Schnitzel stammers.
Make Believe snickers, but nods his thanks as well.>>752075>>752076>>752077>>752078
Juniper pauses as Cutlass says this. "Sh-should I make myself scarce, Captain?" she asks Cutlass.
The machine pony shrugged softly "I am fairly certain I'm the only one W made. He made me when he was a kid to keep him company and I've been with him basically since I've been built. I still kinda worry about him but the captain said they'd help me find him.">>752078>>752075>>752076>>752077
Said robot was all but oblivious to the approach of any others.
Cutlass shrugs at Juniper. "You can do what you want."
"Hello!" Cutlass calls out to Kukulcan as she approaches.
As they approach, Cerulean gives a wave to just about everyone.
Cloud let's Cutlass handle her business talk, walking over to the robot to give him a look over.
"So, you're the talking robot the others talking about?"
"I would not say you have to, Juniper- up to you, I suppose." The griffon says, shrugging a little bit before waving a bit and following after Cutlass.
>>752080Only one, huh? I guess you two must have been pretty close… how long's it been since you were created? You must have seen a lot of islands together.>>752081>>752082>>752083>>752084
"I don't wanna be alone," Juniper mumbles, keeping close by you all.
"Captain!" Kukulcan shouts again as you approach. "Ah, and dignitaries from the Beesting
as well. Come, sit. How fortuitous your timing! We've much to discuss."
Kukulcan gestures for his mooks to bring more stools for you all to sit. You can see that the gathered participants are sitting around a topographic map of the island. Multiple stone figurines – in everyone's likenesses – are positioned at various points on the map.
Cane Shuga frowns as he looks at the map. "You wouldn't happen to have a copy of this map we could take, do you?"
"I'm afraid we shouldn't even be using this map to begin with," Kukulcan says. "For, you see, this map is outdated."
"I'm afraid before we discuss any plans, some business needs to be conducted," Cutlass says in a businesslike tone. "It's come to my attention that our arrangement has become… untennable."
Cloud glances over, noticing a figurine of everypony on the map.
"So, uh… what's all that for?"
Alder gives Juniper a soft pat on the shoulder, tugging her along to keep her close to the group.
"Outdated how, if I might ask? Have parts of the island, ehm… disappeared?" he asks, before glancing to Cutlass, and waiting.>>752080
The griffon peers at the machine pony for a little while he waits for Cutlass to continue, trying to get a better gauge of what it is.
Cerulean looks at the map, namely her own figure, and inspects it closely and curiously. She even opts to give it a poke, much like a little kid.
"Let's see he built me when he was 10 so… About 11 years old I think? And yeah we've been all over. Entered the place not too long ago.>>752083>>752088
"Huh? Oh hey new friends. Nice to meetcha!" He said beaming at the two.
>>752090Must have been something of a prodigy to make a robot at the age of ten! So… what can you do? If that's not rude to ask.>>752087
"We have been using these figures to map our plan of attack south along the island," Two Reeds explains. >>752089
They are expertly made, and quite stylized for simplicity, characterization, and silhouette readability. Yours in particular looks hungry.>>752088
"Thanks," Juniper says. She puts some confetti into your feathers.>>752089>>752088>>752087>>752090
"Exactly right, Mister Alder," Kukulcan continues. "Much of the southern half of Cuauhtemoc has been completely liberated
from this world. Stolen is a more precise term. If any of you have ventured southward in recent times, you will have more than likely met with extreme resistance by the Watchkeepers. Our scouts have reported as such."
After a moment of consideration, Cane Shuga nods. "Ours have, too.">>752086
Kukulcan leans in, putting his hands together as he thinks on your opening statement. "Go on, Captain. What do you mean?"
"Plan of attack?" Cloud questions, looking to where his figurine is. "When were you planning on telling us about this?">>752090
"Nice to meet you, a friendly robot is great for a change," Cloud greets, holding out his hoof for a shake. "Hey, so just to ask, do you know a pony named W.W.?"
"Ah! Uhm, hello. It is nice to meet you too… robot? Automaton?" he cocks his head to the side.>>752091
Alder blinks a couple of times, looking at the confetti in his plumage, before letting out a soft giggle and nodding. "Of course.">>752091
"Hmm. Concerning, but about what I expected. So, as the Watchkeepers push further north, will more land be stolen?"
"Before I begin, I feel it is important to… define some terms. Let me ask you this: would you say that Cycle Kick is a part of your crew?"
"Oooo, neato." Her attention then shifts away from the figure now to the automaton. She circles around it as she looks it over, more curious than aggressive.
"Huh, neat, I've always seen big, metal things like you in the ocean, but they were all rusty and not moving and some even had octopi living in the head part. Do you have any in you?" BEfore an answer is given, she's already trying to look all over Two Tons' head.
"Oh well I can shoot some magic and I can change my armor plates around to create different combat modes of I need them." He said with a grin as he gave a small flex of his plates.>>752092
"Huh! Yeah that's my friend! Do you know where he is?" He asker all but picking Cloud up and shaking him as he did so.>>752093
"You can call me Two Tons O'Fun. Or whatever you want." He said stopping his borderline assault of Cloud for a moment to answer before turning back to the other.
"Over the course of the expedition's unfolding," Kukulcan says. "But hiding it from you was never on the table. But, like the nature of my and Miss Two Reeds' stolen divinity, revealing it to you and not being met with complete incredulity required time, and first-hand knowledge of the situation.">>752093
"Right. The more ground they lose to the forces of the Vault, the more of the island that is stolen within, and the faster the island shall vanish, unless we stop it. Our progress has been slowed the most by the Watchkeepers, whose defense protocols have been so overwhelmed that they have come to see the very souls they are meant to protect as enemies.">>752095>>752093
"That is," Kukulcan says, turning to gesture to Cerulean. "Until one of your crewmates achieved the unthinkable, and retrieved the Key of the High Mechpriest! I must congratulate and thank you once more, Cerulean.">>752096>>752095>>752094>>752093>>752092
Kukulcan nods. "Indeed, he is."
Make Believe says. Well, I suppose it's only fair I share some of my tricks in exchange, right? You've already encountered my telepathy… so do you like stickers?
"And, if he were to be afflicted by some sort of state of being that would have some sort of impediment on his will, he'd still be a member of your crew, right?"
"For example… I don't know… If he were possessed or something. He'd still be Cycle Kick. And, thus, he would still be a member of your crew, yes? Even if he were acting of someone else's will?"
Yuh huh! Me and W used to use some back when he was a kid.">>752095
His mouth hung open as he mulled on it and he gently popped his head plate revealing the gears and servos that were inside so she could look "Do ya see any?"
Cloud stumbles in place a bit from the over-eager shaking.
"Glad for that wish now…" He mutters before recollecting himself. "Well, I'm Cloud. And yea, he's up on Agyl Isla— Oh! I was supposed to meet and completely forgot!" Cloud blurts out, remembering the call with W. W. just before the incident.
"Well, it'll be fine. I found you after all. Funny, he did mention you might've sunk to the bottom of the ocean. Guess he was half right."
Cloud pauses, looking around the automaton.
"He also mentioned you'd have a green flame. What's that about?">>752097
"Yea… time wouldn't have helped since I'm not all too keen on being back on the front line against any of those things out there."
Cerulean's curiosity only intensified as she looked inside. It reminded her a lot of the lowest part of the temple with all the fancy machine bits.
"Nope. I don't think anything would be too comfy in all that moving stuff.">>752097
Cerulean looks over as her name is called, making her grin a bit with a head rub as she finds herself in the spotlight a bit.
"Heheh, yup! There were a lot of neat things in there. And I learned a good bit, too," she says, giving Kukulcan a bit of an awkward stare, "a lot of very
"Hrm… how do we slow it, then? Just with the staff?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.>>752099
Alder gives Cutlass a look, just to see where she's going with it.>>752096
The griffon nods a little, and says "Ah! I am Alder."
>>752100Well, my stickers are special. They can change a person's strength and personality, giving them bonuses or weaknesses per the sticker. You wanna try?>>752102
Two Reeds notices your look. "What do you mean?">>752103>>752101>>752102
"With the staff, we shall be able to take control of the Watchkeepers en masse," Kukulcan continues. "Thus, we may rally them against the Metal Men in concerted fashion, and organize a counter-attack against the Vault. It opens at night, and closes when the Sun Serpent appears upon the eastern horizon. Two options are therefore before us: Attack at night, and invade the Vault when it is open, or attack in the day, and find some manner of opening the Vault when the Metal Men are at their weakest, made immobile and invisible by the sunlight which curiously deadens them so.">>752099
Kukulcan leans forward, his demeanor changing. "Let's cut to the chase, Captain. I am aware of the… situation… involving Cycle Kick and Juniper Yumeno."
"You knew!?" Juniper suddenly shouts. "But– but Captain! Are you just okay with it?"
"It was – following your run-in with her,
one of two ways to save both of your lives. Neither you nor Cycle should be able to remember what happened, however."
"Save us?" Cycle asks.
"I shall inform the both of you of the full details at a later time," Kukulcan says. "For now, for the sake of not letting this discussion become overly convoluted, I shall keep it brief. The two of you, Cycle and Juniper, perished during an ill-fated confrontation with her.
Luckily for you, you ended up – body and soul – upon the Black Market, where our benefactor – and now, my subordinate – purchased you."
Cycle shudders, and his mouth moves, but he speaks with the Crimson King's voice.
"Money, as I have said, is a useful thing."
Cycle grimaces, rubbing at his chin.
"I have already told the Crimson King this and I'll say it to you as well," Cutlass says to Kukulcan. "I don't care. I don't care that he is possessed by the Crimson King. I don't care how it happened. Who or why is not my concern."
"I have one simple question for you. Is he still a member of your crew and your subordinate even when the Crimson King is in charge of his actions?"
He pursed his lips and began to search his compartments for a bit trying to find where he had put the flame "Oh heck lemme look.">>752102
Well thats good." He said popping the plate back on.>>752103
"Nice to meet ya Mr. Alder.">>752101>>752104
He took a moment to open all his compartments which caused a small team orb of fire to emerge and gently float up between him and Cloud "There we are."
He promptly looked to Make and nodded so hard the joints in his neck audibly groaned.
"Does the door itself turn invisible like the Metal men, or is it disappearing entirely?" Cloud asks. "Cause if they're able to steal away this whole island, I'm not going near that Vault unless I know I won't get stuck there."
When Kukulcan mentions that Cycle and Juniper died, Cloud looks worried, but says nothing on the matter to avoid the topic from being worsen for them than it already is.>>752106
Cloud looks at the orb of fire, it being pretty much what to expect of an orb of fire.
"Huh. So is that your power source, or just a fancy trick?"
Cerulean blinks as she notices her stare and tries to play it off.
"Oh, nothing much really. Just maybe something to talk about later…privately. Ya know, not to make a scene or anything, ya know?"
"Its kinda like a conch phone but unique to W. He can make them and we can stay in touch most anywhere. But I don't think it works under the Ocean or wherever we are."
"Wait- they, uhm… they died? I did not realize someone could be Bought back to life. Are they… well, properly alive?" he asks, at a bit of a loss.
Make Believe takes a small metal case from his bag, then puts a sticker resembling a chimpanzee upon your arm. It takes a few moments. Walk around and just do what comes natural.>>752107>>752108
Two Reeds shrugs and nods to Cerulean. Then, to Cloud, she continues. "It does not seem like it disappears under the sunlight. We have not seen it ourselves for many centuries, not since Cuauhtemoc first sank, and we fled. But, unless something has changed between now and then, which is doubtful, it should still be the same as it was then.">>752105>>752110
"For my answer to make any sense, you must understand the 'mechanics,' so to speak, behind their situation," Kukulcan says. "Juniper and Cycle are victims of demonic possession, but if you presented them to any priest who lacked a particularly keen spiritual sense, you would not know it. That is because the possession has been made smoother through hypnosis. In the process, it wiped out all symptoms of the possession."
"This – this is just getting better and better," Juniper says, lightly stumbling as her expression wavers between aghast, disgusted, indignant, and despairing.
"A hypnosis, for which I can provide proof, that you requested," Kukulcan says.
Cycle and Juniper both fall silent with disbelief.
"Originally, the Crimson King intended to possess you with the Yellow Jester as mere disguises, with no consideration for what either of you wished. However… during the process of our negotiations, regarding him joining the expedition, I pulled a little trick on him, and he signed away his loyalty to me. To put it succinctly – he is bound to my orders.
"Back to Cycle and Juniper. When we first met, I offered to let them join my crew. I explained to them what their role was to be, and offered them the option of hypnosis to blot their deaths and subsequent resurrection-through-possessions out from their minds. As far as they would know, they had been my crewmates for the past year.
"Most of the troubles from possession come from the conflict of souls within the body. Through hypnosis, these conflicts can be smoothed over… like living with a roommate who says little, but always pays his half of the rent and does his assigned chores without fail. If they did not agree to all of it, down to the smallest dot on the smallest 'i', I would not permit the King or Jester to possess them."
"So, we agreed…?" Cycle says.
"As I have said, I can provide proof of the matter," Kukulcan says. "And so, to answer your question, Cutlass, yes, I consider them both my crewmates and subordinates. Despite everything – no, because of it – Juniper and Cycle are able to retain their wills."
"Hrm… after this's done, I want to see the proof," Juniper says.
"I'll take care of that," Two Reeds says.
"The yes is all I needed," Cutlass says, sitting on the stool. "On to business."
"When we began this expedition, the deal you made with me, Kukulcan, was that I and my crew would receive all gold and treasure that is found on this expedition. Collectively. This is a single expedition across all three crews. And, that means if it's found on this expedition and it is treasure, it goes to my crew."
"The exception to this that we both agreed to is that anything of historical significance goes to you. Now, I am still entirely for this deal. But, the minutiae of it has gotten… complicated."
"First of all, the Crimson King over there continues to insist that he will take any treasure he finds for himself, despite this being directly contradictory to our arrangement," Cutlass says, pointing to the Crimson King.
"Second, this is also obviously contradictory to the deal you made with the Bee Keepers. So, first, we need to figure out a deal here that doesn't contradict itself."
"Well… they are still them, at least. That is… ehm, that is something, I suppose. That is a very confusing process, though…"
The automaton nodded and pondered upon what he had to do as he began to scan the area for something as he seemed to be mulling over his thoughts.>>752110
He decided to do what seemed natural and give the nice Griffin a hug with his surprisingly strong metal limbs. He missed the talk of treasure as he hugged the poor bird.
Alder lets out a surprised squawk and squirms free after a moment or two, before shaking his head a little. "A-Apologies, I am… not quite as fond of touching from those I do not know particularly know. No offense."
"Huh, neat. Well after all this stuff down here is done, I can bring you back up to W.W. in a jiffy. He was pretty concerned about where you went.">>752111
"So you don't know where it is then."
Cloud responds flatly.
You… don't really feel all that different, come to think of it. No more or less like a chimpanzee.>>752116
"On the contrary, we know where it is, but getting there is our current main obstacle," Two Reeds says.>>752112>>752113>>752116
"I have a history of speaking… bombastically when thrilled, and few things have captured my attention like the chance to restore this island," Kukulcan says. "Though, I must thank you for your patience, and your willingness to negotiate. Other pirates would be more prone to just shooting."
"I better get the Captain on the Conch for this…" Cane Shuga says. He takes out his conch and dials up Bee Holder.
"Let's keep things simple and brief – a three-way split on the treasure should suffice," Kukulcan says.
"Ok but you also said you haven't seen it in centuries. What if it changed up how it works since it's been working on this island for so long?">>752117>>752112
Cloud looks over as Kukulcan starts to change up the treasure distribution.
"Well that seems like a poor deal from before. I'd take finders-keepers over that."
Cloud pauses, then thinks a moment.
"Yea how about that. If all the treasure is in the vault, the treasure should be divided on how many ponies each crew sends in there to get it."
He smiled from ear to ear if that's what those were. "Aww I knew he would miss me. Even if he keeps going on about how I give him headaches.">>752117
"I think this ones a dud." He said looking back.
"No," Cutlass says flatly. "I would not have come on this expedition for that deal. And, I will not continue the expedition for that deal. You forewent your share of the treasure, and I intend to persuade you to honor that."
"I'm willing to split the treasure with The Bee Keepers if I must. But, I won't partake in an expedition on terms that are so blatantly not at all what got me to agree to go in the first place."
[1d10+3] normal persuasion>Using 3 TBPRoll #1 6 + 3 = 9
"So how'd you end up down here anyways? From the sound of it it seems like you two normally stick together."
"It is alright, you did not know." he says, ruffling his wings a little bit.>>752117>>752120
"Ah, he did? I forgot that entirely."
"Because I didn't share that information with anyone else."
"My interest has never been with the treasure," Kukulcan says. "Take what you will and divide it as you will."
"I am fine going along with what Cloud suggests, Cutlass," Cycle says, with the Crimson King's voice. "You will get nowhere arguing with that one. He is a peculiar pirate, truly caring more for archaeology and his island, more than even the treasure the Vault steals from his island!"
"W-would you stop doing that!?" Cycle barks, poking himself in the chest.
"Finders Keepers is usually the law of my ship anyway," Bee Holder says over the conch.>>752119
Make Believe frowns. That's what I was afraid of. Just like with the obsidian robots, it seems it's not working on you too quickly. Keep it on for a little while, but don't keep it on longer than five minutes totall, alright? I'd like to see just how long it takes.>>752122>>752118
"A fair question," Two Reeds says to Cloud's objections. "If you are unwilling to deal with the Vault, we shall not force you, in accordance with our ship's law."
He visibly deflated but then perked back up and looked around at Make "Why shouldn't I keep it on that long he asked with a worried look.>>752121
Well I don't really know. We were out in this market and then something hit me. When I woke up it was because these guys were doing stuff to wake me up."
Cloud is shocked at hearing what happened, and leans in close to Two Tons to whisper.
("Did Kukulcan or his crew kidnap you?")
Cerulean hears about the split, and mulls over it a bit.
"Hmm…I dunno. I kinda have a bet going on with Crimson King here. Be a little tough to keep things challenging for him if I gotta split stuff with him, ya know?" She gives a slight grin to Cycle Kick, but it was directed to Crimson King more, obviously.
>>752125Longer than that, and the effects will remain after the sticker's been removed. More than ten minutes, and they could be permanent. But,, I wouldn't do that to someone I'm working with! Promise.
You begin to feel a most peculiar urge to climb a tree.
("I don't think so. They've been pretty nice to me and they even woke me up. Plus their crew was nice and wrestled with me. He paused ("Why are we whispering?")>>752128
He nodded as he began to eye the mast of the ship, gently pulling Cloud along with him as he debated trying to climb it.
"And, again I refuse. This need not turn into more of a competition than it already is. I'm willing to go 50/50 with the Bee Keepers. And, that's generous of me considering the previous arrangement I made."
"As for this one's input," Cutlass says, pointing to Cycle Kick. "I have no reason to care for or about it. He is not a leader here. And, he is bound to his captain's word."
"In fact, I'm inclined to say that we should make this into an unbreakable vow so that no funny business happens behind anyone's back."
"Hmm? I, uhm… I am not fully sure, actually- When you say finders, keepers, you mean like… the more crew we send, the more we get, yes?"
"There is no need for any of that," the Crimson King says once more. "I shall take what strikes my fancy. You may squabble over the rest among yourselves."
"Cutlass," Bee Holder says. "I highly doubt this is going anywhere other than a back and forth. Besides, pooling our wealth at the end and trying to split it down the middle is a fool's venture anyhow. No telling if everything we find that's worth stealing is going to be neatly quantifiable in its worth, or divisible. It's not like we're only going to find gold coins in there, I imagine. Statues, boats, weapons… everything like that will complicate an equal split further.">>752130>>752129>>752127>>752131
"If all of this negotiating is now done…" Kukulcan says. "We've plans to make for how we'll strike the Vault. We can't exactly divide up the spoils before we've even claimed them, wouldn't you all agree?"
("Cause you don't want to accuse somepony of kidnapping out in the open. And this is just a personal talk between us.")
Cloud whispers as he follows Two Tons along, not that he has much choice under the robot's strength.>>752131
"Pretty much, yea. Don't want any crew not putting effort but getting a ton of the treasure, right?"
"I still stay 'take what you claim', but I'll go with Cutlass on all the treasure going to our two crews."
Cloud comments to Kukulcan.
"As for the Vault, I'm not going near that until I know more about it."
"Hmm…got a point there. So then what's your plan with all this?"
The robot nodded quietly and began to try and climb the mast while leaving Cloud where he was.
(That makes sense.)>>752132
"I mean we could keep talking."
"Hmm… I agree with Cloud on this personally, but we do not even know the contents of the vault, yes. Would you happen to know… well, anything about the vault that might make this easier? Anything could help."
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Our crew gathered near the Thunder Serpent
once more, where they met Two Tons o' Fun, an autonomous mechanical pony, who could see Aura, despite his apparent inability to wield it. He was the newest member of Kukulcan's crew following his awakening in the ship's cargo hold, and was quickly brought up to speed on the crew's significant figures, as well as the goals of the expedition: to stop the eldritch entity known as the Vault, and its minions, from stealing any more of Cuauhtemoc than it already had.
Cutlass also stopped to renegotiate the terms of her alliance with Kukulcan, and in the process, learned more about Juniper and Cycle, as well as how they had come to be in Kukulcan's employ. They had, apparently, perished some time ago during an encounter with someone Kukulcan only identified as "her.
" The Crimson King later found their bodies and souls upon the Black Market, where Kukulcan offered them a choice to join his crew if they, through demonic possession, agreed to serve as disguises for both the Crimson King and the Yellow Jester. According to this narrative, they could have the possession process go smoother through hypnosis to make them forget everything from their deaths to the possession, replacing it with a narrative of having been Kukulcan's crew for quite some time. The two agreed, and thus joined his crew.
That divergence aside, Cutlass wanted Kukulcan to abide by his original agreement to let her have all the treasure, in spite of the Crimson King's desire to claim the treasure for himself. Kukulcan cared little for treasure, preferring to let them argue it out while he tried to lay out the agenda for breaking into the Vault.>>752434
The desire to climb, once placated, turns into a desire to swing and leap from tree to tree – or mast to mast in this case – and an overwhelming compulsion to ook.>>752133>>752432>>752433>>752435
Kukulcan nods. "As I was saying, our current knowledge of the Vault is limited to what we recall from the first attack, my and Miss Two Reeds's divine spirits were stolen away, as well as the various legends, folklore and pirates' tales we have accrued over the centuries following."
He turns a number of papyrus sheets to you, bearing various illustrations of a terrible sea-monster, rendered variously, such as as a towering, dragon-headed serpent, a chaotic chimera of monstrous sharks and eels and whales and other feared sea-beasts, and, most commonly, as a writhing tangle of ridged tentacles, perhaps belonging to some kind of octopus, or other many-limbed beast.
"The common elements of the stories, we believe, point to a sea-beast you may know as the Hunger, the Voidmaw, the Devouring God, the Insatiable Lord… its titles are many. Each story, however, tells of some key weakness, a lone thread holding it back from consuming more and more, eternally. Though the stories disagree, we believe the Vault to be an expression of that weakness. If there were truly a sea-beast of legend such as this, why else would it not simply eat and eat until all was naught? I believe that it wishes to – but for this reason or that, it must send this entity, this Vault, with all its weaknesses, in its stead. The Vault is therefore some part of the Hunger."
Cloud looks over the sheets as Kukulcan talks.
"So the Vault is the Hunger's stomach then? Or it's mouth? That's not all that encouraging to make anypony want to go in that."
There was a pause before he began to ook a bit. For a minute or so. Then he pulled the sticker off and set it down "That was kinda neat. A bit of uh… existentmalawhatever nightmare, but all in all I could see that being fun another time."
He craned his head to the others "As long as I get a share for me and my pal, then I'm fine with whatever you guys wanna do."
"Hrm… perhaps this is the 'mouth' of the beast, then? It seems to be drawing things towards it though, like a lure… since, the Vault causes the dreams, yes?"
"Hmm…maybe it made a wish with a genie…," she says, pondering out loud and remembering why she's been more hungry than usual for a very long time now. Or maybe this new level of hunger is her new normal?
"Okay, so we know that, but how will that help with going inside with the staff? Are we just beating this Hunger up through the Vault or something?"
"Tell me, why should I care for or about anything you just said when you blatantly ignore me?" Cutlass says once Kukulcan is done talking. A clearly offended glare is written on her face.
The robot paused for a moment and then looked at her "Well I reckon it's because getting something is better than getting nothing?" he asked with really no hint of malice or sarcasm in his tone.
"Oh, I'll get something either way," Cutlass responds ominously.
"Well that's nice. Would probably be better to do it nicely though. Don't want people to get all mad and fight over it."
"That is where what we have witnessed comes into play," Two Reeds adds. "For we saw the Vault open, when we were but godlings, and we bore witness to the last generation of this island's divines charge inside, to tear and stab at what they thought was its wretched heart. Attacks to the exterior did not work, thus the gods surmised that something inside had to be the locus of its power, just as all things, immortal and immortal have their center. They left nothing unturned, blasting at the walls, the pillars, even at the treasure itself the Vault held within, all seeking to strike at its weak point, something that could be called its heart… to no avail."
"It was only as Miss Two Reeds and I escaped that we uncovered the trick," Kukulcan continues. "For we stole away a certain object – and the Metal Men fighting inside and out the Vault fell over, as if dead. Only, it was far too late. Our divine spirits had been lost, and the elder gods, who had fought to buy we godlings time to flee, lost every part of themselves – every bit, stolen away, leaving them lying there, helpless, as the great doors sealed shut afore them."
"The Vault's weakness lies in its name," Two Reeds says. "Stealing its contents is the only way to stop it, lest it devour ever more of our world, with each time that it opens. You may think it too dangerous to enter, but you will, one way or another.">>752441>>752438
cycle Kick just sits there, one hand twiddling his demonic coin, his face half-cocked in a smirk, the other a frown – probably both Cycle's displeasure at his situation, and the King's annoyance.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaMyVSovvjw
Kukulcan squawks, his crest flying up again. "Enough! Your Majesty, you shall take no treasure, on my life! Cutlass! You and the Beestings
will get what you take and divide it as you please, as you said not long ago! Am I clear!?"
Cycle shrugs, and speaks with the King's voice. "So long as I get my daily wages, it is as you say."
"Thank you," Cutlass says with a nod and a smile.
"So, you're saying that stealing from the vault weakens the metal men? Or, do we need to steal something specific?"
"So just taking stuff weakens it?" Cloud repeats in question. "I… guess that makes sense. What did you steal though to make them all stop?"
When Two Reeds says they'll all enter, he looks to her, forgetting the whole gravity of gods and the Crimson King as he glares at her.
"Is that a threat?"
The robot would find a mild annoyance in being annoyed but he seemed to have lost focus for the moment and he began to gently poke the cool teal flame in front of him "Oh Dubya, I miss you so much." he mumbled quietly
"That…actually makes sense. I know I'd feel super tired and stuff if a bunch of whatevers stole food from my stomach like that," she comments, giving her stomach a bit of a rub as she was making herself uncomfortable at such a thought happening to her.
"Well, I'll be entering of my own will, if that's what you're implying! I didn't go through that temple to not use this fancy staff. Oh! I think I just got a great idea, too!"
"Well… theft happens to be something I am rather decent at, admittedly. I do not know about essence-draining Vaults, but perhaps I could get something done." he remarks, flicking his tail.>>752447
"It does, yes- it would be like starving it, if it is devouring things. It is concerning, though- if this thing can 'steal' gods, how exactly can we get in and out?"
"Yes, but I am not the one threatening you," Two Reeds says. "Cuauhtemoc himself sunk to the bottom of the sea to imprison the Vault, bringing himself to the edge of death for this, his final noble act. What will you do, should the Vault escape, and place itself on another Island? Shall the Hunger devour you later, or shall you aid us now in crushing its mouth shut beneath the weight of what we shall steal from it – of everything it has ever stolen, from us and others!?"
Kukulcan gently lays a claw on her arm, then turns to you. "Never let it be said that I force anything upon my crew, or upon my partners in business. If you should wish to leave, nothing shall stop you.">>752446
"Although we stole something of great power and value," Kukulcan begins. "I do not believe it need be something specific. The principle, most likely, is that the more valuable the item stolen, the greater the damage done to the Vault.">>752450
Kukulcan catches his hat (which flew off when he snapped at Cutlass and the Crimson King) and smiles at you. "Full glad am I to have your assistance, then."
He claps you on the back.>>752449
As Two Reeds calms a bit, she looks your way. "And what would that be? Please, if you've even a half-baked idea, we would welcome any help.">>752448
Make Believe pokes you, holding out his hoof. If you're all done with the sticker, I'll take it back. I'm the only one capable of safely disposing of them.>>752446>>752447>>752448>>752449>>752450
"As I asked before," Kukulcan continues. "If you are willing to venture forth with us, I shall elaborate further on our more immediate tactics, and our longer-term strategies. What say you?"
"No further questions from us," Bee Holder says.
Make Believe, Cane Shuga, Juniper and Mallea nod.
He sighed and handed it over before looking to the captain "Uh yeah, sure."
"I guess either by being quick, or hoping it doesn't notice us.">>752451
Cloud looks between Two Reeds and Kukulcan, not entirely trusting either.
"Alright, whatever you say."
Cloud nods with the others.
"I'm not 100% on this yet, but go on."
"Go on," Cutlass nods slowly.>>752453
"What!? Cloud being reasonably cautious about something!? What is the world coming to!?" Cutlass says with a snide grin.
"Well, its more of an idea for when we get in, but I was thinking: we have a bunch of chests, right? What if we gather up our chests…and put wheels on them?! Oh! Or even make them float on water, and I could use my aura to make water as I go! Thay way, instead of just taking maybe a couple of meals from this stomach…vault…thing, we could take out an entire buffet!" Her stomach growls at her own word choice.
"If you want to rush in for treasure, go ahead. But I'm not running into some god-eater room and risking leaving my future foal without a dad over some gold."
Cloud retorts casually.
"Such maturity!" Cutlass says sarcastically as if she's impressed. "We'll see how long it lasts."
"But what if its more than just gold? What if there's a bunch of other things, like a crib! Or even a shiny, gold whatchamacallit?! I remember I liked those when I was a little pup."
"I seem to be particularly good at both of those things, so… here is hoping, yes?">>752451>>752453
Alder takes a second to look the hat over as he snatches it out of the air, before shrugging a little. "It seems if we want to know what we need to know, then we have no other choice. Continue on."
Kukulcan gestures to the topographical map once more. Illustrations of mortal-made landmarks, such as the towns, the roads, the Skull Temple and the Sundial Plaza, are all drawn out in a careful fashion. You see that there are many other towns besides the port marked on your map. Notably, there is another great structure, approximately the size of the Skull Temple, straight across from it, at an equidistant point from the island's center as the Skull Temple is. The Sundial Plaza is in turn equidistant from that place, and the Skull Temple, but oriented eastward. The center of the island also is marked with a great settlement.
The majority of the figurines are placed at either the abandoned port, or at the Dreamer's Moon. A few others are placed elsewhere.
"As I have said, this map is outdated, and we are in need of a new version as soon as possible," Kukulcan says. "That is our current objective."
He gestures to the great settlement. Cerulean recognizes one of the figurines put here: A dolphin inside an aquarium on wheels. "Currently, a small section of my forces are scouting the Capital, located here. As the grand hub and axis of this island in its golden age, he who controlled the capital held control of all major roads and rivers covering the Island. If we can retake it, we will have established a far more sound position for later attacks.
"Assuming we can take the Capital, we will then move on to the Ruby Round, located south of it. Part ceremonial ground, part sporting arena, it shall serve as a forward base ere we push onward to the final attack.
He points to the southern tip of the island. "The issue is that we know little of the current structure and makeup of the southern end of the Island. That will determine our attack routes, escape routes, and methods of attack. We know that the Ruby Round yet stands, as does the Capital, but little more besides that."
"Questions so far?" Two Reeds asks.>>752455
"Yes, well…" Kukulcan fishes for a polite way to say this… "A smashing idea! We had already something in mind with our empty barrels, but we've enough material from defeated Watchkeepers that the construction of wheeled plunder chests is not out of the question."
"Yes. I don't know what any of that means."
Not a question but perhaps a valid point.
"Hmm… so, we will scout out from the Capital once we take it, yes? Is there a particularly safe way to study or scout out the southern end? Taking the capital will likely be difficult, though…">>752460>>752455
"Oh! Perhaps we could make something out of the watchkeepers that could help? I would be of little use there, but maybe it would be worth trying."
"I'm sorry… I'm a… tad bit confused. You make it sound like we'll be waging some sort of prolonged war against them. First of all, I question whether that is the soundest strategy against something like this. But, more importantly, why recruit for this the way that you have?"
"You've been advertising this as a treasure hunt expedition. Clearly, you were looking for people who are skilled in seeking things out and getting what they came for. A quick, in and out, grab and run."
"And, that feels the best way to deal with this situation too. So, what is this strategy REALLY aiming to accomplish?"
"Don't worry, you'll learn it too if you ever find a stallion." Cloud says, reaching over to give her a condescending pat on the head.>>752458
"A crib could be nice, but I could probably build one of those with less risk. But uh, what gold thing are you talking about?">>752459
"If anypony could pull it off, it'd be you.">>752460
"Retake it? From who, the metal men? Shouldn't it be easy to just move them out of there during the day?"
Cutlass glares at him as she accepts the head pat. "I hope Sir Pent bites you…" she grumbles.
"Actually, I did find some special tools in the temple that can easily work and make Watchkeepers, like I did with Torpedo here," she says, motioning to the obsidian bulldog.
"I'm still kinda new with them, but worth a try.">>752460
"Uhh…one, from all that info you gave: are we gonna have enough time to do all that?"
Alder flicks his tail and smiles at the compliment, before saying "Hopefully I can put my new trinkets to the test, too.">>752472
"Oh! New or not, you did an amazing job, then!"
Kukulcan nods. "I found myself in that position often when I, as a young godling, had to acclimate to living in a mortal body. To put it simply, we are moving south across the island, taking territories as we can, to make our eventual assault on the Vault easier, and to build conting– backup plans if we should needs retreat.">>752464>>752466>>752472>>752469>>752468
"Right," Bee Holder adds. "We attempted to scout out the southern end ourselves, to little avail when all those stone bugs came out to greet us."
"An obstacle we faced as well," Kukulcan says. "But forgive me for singing Miss Cerulean's praises once more, for her recovery of the Key of the High Mechpriest will be instrumental here. As she has attested, she can command, and even rebuild, the Obsidian Watchkeepers, This shall help us retake the Capital and Ruby Round both. In fact, recovering the Key was the first phase of our plan, now accelerated from this boon.">>752469
"It is not so simple as that. Slight exposure to the sunlight paralyzes and weakens them, while full exposure renders them intangible – but not dead. They are able to rise once more when darkness falls upon them… even when seemingly dead. This is one reason why they are so damned difficult to push back. This is why I told you to put the body of the Metal Man that you recovered under tarps, and ensure that light would be upon them at every hour, both from the Sun Serpent in the day, and the godray crystal at night. >>752472
Two Reeds nods. "As far as we know, we are under no time limit, but we have sketched different variants of this plan for if our time were limited for whatever reason." >>752468
"Originally," Kukulcan begins. "That was the plan as we originally envisoned – while my crew, aided by the Watchkeepers, dealt with the fighting, our hirelings would run in, grab what they could, run back out, and repeat. It is, in essence, still the plan. However, the strength of the Vault's forces, combined with our numerous earlier setbacks at the hands of the rampant Watchkeepers, has required certain adjustments. The raid on the Vault will be much easier from the north, with both the Capital and the Ruby Round in our control. though, if you do not wish to partake in the capture of either, then I cannot force you. I will, however, ask that the holder of the Key of the High Mechpriest assist in the capture of both holdings so that we do not wage unnecessary battle against the Watchkeepers."
"Perhaps you are wondering why we cannot simply attack the Vault from the south, or above, with our flying ships?" Bee Holder suggests.
"Oh. Well that sounds smart. I can help fight pretty decent I guess," he said bounding up as the little teal flame followed and began to gently circle his head.
"Mmm. So, maybe we tak some time to try and make something out of the ones we have wrecked, and then use those to help us push further south? Less Watchkeepers hounding us would let us map things out better, and study our surroundings.>>752478
"What is, ehm, the flame circling you, if I might ask?"
"Huh, well neat. That's a lot more planned than I could've done…though then again, I don't really plan, so this is kinda nice having it done already," she says with a little bit of a laugh.
"Haven't you tried trapping them when they're paralyzed? If you can't kill them then locking them up in some cage should've been to go to."
"A more direct plan DOES seem more reasonable when we have an army of dispensable giant robots on our side," Cutlass nods to Bee Holder.
"Though, on that note, I suppose an indirect route COULD prove advantageous for gathering more forces. We could gather more obsidian soldiers as we go. By the time we get to the vault, we'd have a whole army at our disposal."
Cutlass nods. "Aright, find. I see the sense in this plan for now."
Hmm? oh! It's my way of communicating with my friend… well it would be if it worked down here."
"You use a flame to communicate…?" Cutlass asks with a raise eyebrow.
"Hmm… is it too far to communicate properly?"
I think it doesn't work like… under an ocean. Though I guess no flame does…">>752485
Like it's linked to his magic? and we can use it to talk to each other like we have those conch phones. But he's the only one who can make them so it's a secret fire phone."
"That's a useful idea," Cutlass contemplates. "Is that an aura ability?"
"Can…" Cutlass looks Two Tons up and down. "Whatever you are… have aura?"
"We have, but the method is impractical between the time and resources it requires to subdue one of the Metal Men," Kukulcan says. "Recall that the majority of them are rightfully called giants.">>752478>>752479>>752480>>752481>>752483
Kukulcan nods. "We have considered both the aerial and seaborne routes before, but neither are more viable than the direct approach. Whatever's happening at the island's southern tip is generating great waves that repel those who would approach from the south, and an aerial approach, even with cannon bombardment, leaves us at a vulnerable position at risk of retaliation, and with no easy way to take away our stolen treasure from the Vault a safe distance. Thus, our current plan."
He separates your figurines from the pile, and pushes them away from the Dreamer's Moon. "Apart from Cerulean, who I must ask come with our main attack force to first take the Capital, and then the Ruby Round, you are free to choose how you would like to proceed with this plan. You might assist us in taking both holdings. You might venture south on your own to scout ahead and help fill the map. You might proceed west of the Capital to see what might remain of the other towns once situated on the island's western end. Or, you may try something of which we have not yet conceived. Though it may hamper me, I will not order you, for I am not your Captain, only request, and show my appreciation for, your assistance. What are your thoughts?">>752490
have Aura," Cane Shuga says. "At least, that's what Manny told me before we left. It's just that we use our Aura directly, and deliberately, to interact with the Aura fields of other objects. Hence, why some people can make objects float with Aura. All they're doing is connecting their Aura to the object's Aura, and influencing it, one way or another, to produce floating."
"No it's like… I guess something tied to his magic? His Aura stuff is… way more destructive than a talking fire."
Her sight beheld a large robotic equine that seemed to be trying it's hardest to match a Pony, With expressive eyes and a mouth the moved in an almost eeriely organic matter, though with a moment more, one would notice that all the details were slightly off, almost as if one had an incomplete picture with the subtle off difference. Also of note was the armor plates on this equine seemed to be made to shift mass.
"And I… I dunno. I had a talk with the sticker guy over there about it… I kinda wish I did though." he gave a small almost excited laugh "Would be cool to do that…">>752492
"Oh neat! I get to pick which team I'm on?"
"If we can't kill them and we can't trap them, then how can we retake it?"
Cloud looks over the map, and the options available.
"Do you think there's anypony else down here in those other towns?"
"I think we've split up enough," Cutlass thinks out loud. "We should turn this attack into a blitz. Gather a huge army and use it before the enemy knows what to do about it.">>752493
"You… are confusing…" Cutlass says as if that's the answer to the question she's been looking for.
"Honestly, I'm with Cutlass idea of staying together. I wouldn't mind having a few more extra eyes keeping me safe." She looks to her little companions.
"Not that you guys didn't do anything, but I think you could use a break from keeping safe like you did," she says smiling, petting each of them.
"Ah- makes sense, I suppose.">>752492
"Towns on the western end? Hmm… it might be good to check that out, though it would likely not be safe to travel there alone… if we find survivors, it could be of value though, no? As for taking the capital… I cannot say much about whether to split or not, but it might be best for me to go with whichever group is epxected to bear the brunt of it. It would be a shame to lose too much to make what we gain worth it."
"Oh? Do you want me to explain it again?">>752500
"Oh… happy to have you agree!"
Each pet eagerly accepts your petting.>>752495
"By weakening them with our theft, until they can be cast once more into the pit from which they came," Kukulcan repeats. "I should note that I have witnessed the Watchkeepers win far greater success at this endeavor than fighters of our size.">>752500>>752498>>752496>>752495>>752493
As you consider exploring the western end of the island against taking the Capital as a unified whole, Kukulcan looks over at the map. "Like upon the eastern coast, the west was also noted for its ports and trade hubs, only, owing to more favorable topography facilitating transit, the western end ws the more economically successful and developed. I doubt any living souls are left there, but if they were, they'd be there."
"We have enough crew that we could send small detachments to the West without weakening the attack on the Capital," Bee Holder notes. "I'll have a small force scout it out while another division joins you at the Capital, Kukulcan."
"My thanks," Kukulcan responds.
Cloud says after a pause to Kukulcan's explanation.
As Kukulcan explains the western coast, and Bee Holder chimes in, Cloud remains silent on the matter, thinking it over.
"If you just WAITED for us…" Cutlass says with a huff.>>752501
"I don't think it'd make sense, even if you did.">>752502
"If it's a port, I could have those left on the Hidden Dagger sail around to it. They could explore it on their way to reinforcing us," Cutlass suggests.
Cerulean giggles at the pets' eagerness.
"Don't think I have much else I can think of. I'm more interested in the parts where I smash things, maybe bite things, too.">>752504
"I'm sorry, I was just really, really curious! Then I got more curious the further I went in…and then next thing I knew, I got what we needed."
"Oh… uh sorry then.">>752502
Hmm, staying with the main group sounds fine I guess. Or I could go with the other guys."
"Mmm. Thank you, Captain Bee Holder." the griffon says, bowing a little bit. "In that case…">>752503
"Mmm? Cloud, what do you think? You seem rather conflicted."
Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire play out a mock battle on a corner of the map with some of the unused pieces, while Kukulcan steps aside to give Cycle Kick/the Crimson King a serious talking-to, presumably over the earlier conflict. Meanwhile, Cane, Mallea, Juniper and Ossie gather around to process what they've learned and discuss possible plans of attack. It sounds like all but Mallea intend to head into the battle at the Capital.
"For obvious reasons, you understand," Mallea adds.
"I'm… not sure. Fighting those things…" Cloud pauses, a small shudder of fear rolling through him. "I don't know if I'll be able to do that.">>752512
Cloud looks around as everypony else is geared to fight in the Capital.
"I need to think on this."
"I actually don't," Cutlass says to Mallea, raising a curious eyebrow.
"I… I-I understand. I need to be more careful- I do not want any others to get hurt like before." he says, folding his ears back. "I do not want you in danger again unless you feel like it is right- maybe head back to the Beesting and think it over there?">>752512
"Of course, Miss Mallea. I understand."
"I can stand in front of ya if ya want. I'm pretty big and can take a hit."
"So Thessaly and I can do one another's hair, makeup and hooficures," Mallea answers.
Cerulean thinks over a bit, then tells her little posse to stay put as she moves a bit towards Kukulcan and the CKs. She makes herself slightly known as to not be accused of eavesdropping, but waits for them to address her in case they were talking. She got the somewhat serious look on her face like when she mentioned wanting to talk about something earlier in the meeting.
"Maybe I should…">>752516
"Thanks, but, I don't want somepony else getting hurt for me."
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
I mean I'm made of metal. Better I get hit than your fleshy parts. They can't take the same punch."
Cutlass stares at Mallea for a moment. Then, it clicks.
"Ah… Seems a waste of your time to have volunteered to come out here if you're so tied down by your work."
"You can make your way back to the Hidden Dagger when it arrives at the west port. So, go with Bee Holder, I suppose."
"I am… sorry this has been so hard on you. I do not know if promises to keep you safe would do much after last time." he says, scratching at the back of his neck. "Either way, perhaps a chance to talk with Chiu, and maybe even the Captain. The captain helped me work through some of my issues."
Cycle/Crimson continues to twirl his coin as he looks up at the displeased Kukulcan.
"…will have the path to the Heart that you so seek," Kukulcan says. "But only if you can cooperate with pirates who distrust you for obvious reasons. The contract we drafted with Magoja plainly ruled out this kind of…"
Kukulcan freezes, then looks back at you. "Cerulean. With what may I assist you?"
Immediately, Cycle/Crimson pocket the coin.>>752513>>752514>>752515>>752517>>752516>>752522
Mallea nods, then turns to Juniper. "You, demon mare."
"…That could have a good ring to it if I dress it up a bit," Juniper admits.
"Come with me to the Thunder Serpent's
infirmary," Mallea orders.
"Juniper Demon! The Demon of Dressup! …Eh, it's a fallback choice at best."
"Evening will be upon us soon," Cane says. "Let's secure some lodging for the night."
"We already camped here," Ossie notes. "I assume we can just head there. You can have Splendid's lean-to."
Meanwhile, Make Believe and Schnitzel head over to Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire to discuss their training.
"Yea, but you'd still get busted up some. And we're a ways from your friend to get you repaired."
"I mean I was made to take some damage. Grasnted it's not punching robots level of damage but hey we got some time for me to bang them out.">>752524
"Oh do we have tents or are we sleeping under the… ocean since I don't think there's any stars down here."
"…Yea, that might help. Thanks, Alder.">>752526
"I guess. Let's keep the damage to a minimum then so W.W doesn't get worried when he sees you again.">>752524
As Mallea goes to head off with Juniper for the infirmary, Cloud turns, following after.
"Hope you don't mind me tagging along."
He says, with a mixture of concern and worry.
Last time, on PirateQuest…
The negotiation between Kukulcan, Cutlass and the Crimson King ended with Kukulcan reminding the King of their Contract – a powerful force that demons cannot disobey or violate, once it is sealed. The King had no choice but to relent, and thus, Cutlass was assured that Kukulcan's crew would take no loot – at least, not to keep.
This, they discussed during the next phase of their meeting. The Vault was an eldritch appendage of the Hunger, a legendary sea-creature capable of swallowing entire islands, and an appetite to match. For reasons yet unknown to Kukulcan, the Hunger was unable to freely rampage, or else the world would have likely been devoured by now. Instead, it could only send forth entities like the Vault.
But, Cuauhtemoc, the Island-Turtle, sacrificed himself to bind the Vault where it had appeared upon his back, thus sealing the Vault here. Still, little by little, the henchmen of the Vault, the Metal Men, would steal away Cuauhtemoc until naught remained, and the Vault could go free to devour another Island. It had, however, a key weakness. If valuable things were stolen out from the Vault, the Metal Men would weaken, and even perish, depending on the item's value.
Kukulcan's plan, then, was to coordinate a massive heist upon the Vault. The direct assault would be the most effective, and to this end, Kukulcan sought to capture two territories – the Island's Capital city, and a sporting arena south of it, called the Ruby Round. Controlling these areas would give them a base of operations close enough to the Vault at the southern tip of the island, allowing them to stage their assault once they were ready.
There was also a port on the western end of the island that their mooks could investigate, hopefully finding something that may be of use to the heist.
"Hrm… little else to be done tonight then, yes? Might as well settle in and sleep.">>752951
"Of course. Whatever you decide, I trust it will be the best decision for you."
"Then, if we are done planning, I will go ahead and call the Hidden Dagger," Cutlass offers, making sure that the proceedings are completed.
"It would be nice if we could get him before this for the extra help. But I'm sure he won't mind having to bang a few dinks and dents out of me. He likes to tinker."
Cerulean gives a brief smile and nod to the two, letting the two wonder how much she heard, but then looks serious.
"Answers," she plainly responds, "and real ones. No beating around the anemone or that nonsense like it feels you you have been. We can speak somewhere less crowded, but honestly, I learned some things in the temple that has me questioning you…a lot."
Cane nods. "A good night's rest sounds in order, even if it's a mite early. We've got much to plan for."
"I'll update the Beesting
on what we've discussed," Bee Holder says via Cane's conch, before hanging up as well.>>752526
Two Reeds gasps. "I was not aware you could sleep. My apologies for neglecting to assign you a room, but to be fair, you were cargo until just recently. I shall make arrangements for you anon.">>752956
Kukulcan furrows his eyebrows, then the King nods, and heads away toward the Thunder Serpent.
Kukulcan gestures for you to follow, then heads for the perimeter of the jungle, his hands folded behind his back. "What can I answer for you, then, dear Cerulean?">>752951
Juniper shakes her head. "Not at all. Consiering the circumstances, I'm surprised you all trust me to the degree that you do."
The three of you head into the ship's infirmary, where you see Droplet, Paraiba and Prisma, as well as the mooks. They seem to be doing alright.
Droplet smiles as you enter. "Well, well, another visit. Have we been missing much?"
"Indeed," Mallea says.
She begins to relay to the three of them everything suspected about the informant, including the attack on Gullveig, and the blood test.
"I hope so.">>752955
"Huh, yea. I guess getting him would probably make things easier on you…"
He mutters, trailing off.
"Anon? No my names Two Tons." he said with a laugh "I mean yeah I sleep, everybody needs to sleep now and then. I think it was mainly so I didn't bother Dubya too much.">>752958
He nodded again "I think he'd like you. He likes neat people. And you're pretty neat."
Cerulean follows Kukulcan and gives a sigh. So far, so good.
"You claim to be the Thunder Serpent, right? Or the incarnated form or whatever it was you said. However, I meet with a being called Thunder Serpent in the depths of the temple. It wasn't you. So tell me: why are you pretending to be a god, or as the 'real' Thunder Serpent called himself and the others with us there, a force of nature? Who, or what, are you really.
Cloud says, the compliment lifting his spirits a bit before he heads off to the infirmary.>>752957
"You look pretty in control of yourself. And I can't blame you for all that demon stuff when you didn't ask for it."
Cloud says as they walk to the ship.
When they reach the infirmary, Cloud looks over the trio.
"You guys all ok? Nothing weird going on here?"
Alder hesitates for a moment or two, before giving the bat pony a soft, quick hug.>>752957
"Mmm. Very well, then." he chirps, finding somewhere to settle in. He considers grabbing an instrument to play, but now might not be the best time.
Cloud is a little surprised by the quick hug, but returns with a pat on the back before heading to the infirmary.
Cutlass nods and steps away so that she can talk on the conch in peace. She calls Miss Sunshine.
Two Reeds nods. "This Dubya of yours would have made for a fine Mechpriest, if only he had been born long ago upon this island."
She then heads out to find you a room aboard the ship.>>752961
"Well, if his proof is to be believed, then I kinda did," Juniper says. "I don't recall dying, but… apparently, I wanted to forget it, and continue living, even if I had to do so, possessed by a demon."
"Nope," Droplet says once Mallea is done. "All seems to be in order down here. Not like you guys, by the sounds of things. I mean, we've got some unwanted attention, and of a violent sort to boot…"
"Well, it goes without saying we'll cooperate," Paraiba says. "We're almost well enough to head out, anyway."
Mallea nods, and begins to withdraw equipment from her bag for the drawing of blood.>>752960
Kukulcan listens, his expression turning to one of confusion, and of a genuine sort. "… I know not the meaning of this. The Skull Temple abounds with methods for testing and teaching its challengers… On Cuauhtemoc, there were priests – the Mechpriests – who would ritually adorn themselves with the clothing and mannerisms of the gods, taking on their roles and powers for a brief time, particularly for a ceremony or other major event. You must have encountered such an obstacle in the Temple, intending to test the faith of the Mechpriest, making the unworthy fail, and the worthy stronger.">>752959>>752962>>752964
While Alder and Two Tons chill, Cane Shuga decides to walk about near the lake shore, while Make Believe and Schnitzel speak with Sir Diamantaire.>>752964
Miss Sunshine picks up within a few rings.
"Captain, do you think I'm ugly?" Miss Sunshine says. She sounds like she's been doing her share of moping. "Or a creep, or a loser? Or poor?"
"He does make a bunch of things… but he really doesn't like rules too much." he responded before watching her go.
Seeing Cane Shuga he shrugged and hopped off the boat with a hard thud into the sand and moved to walk with them.
"Don't think anypony would want to not continue living if given the chance," Cloud comments, trailing in thought. "Guess there's not much point dwelling on all that."
"Violent attention?" Cloud questions, then looks to Paraiba. "Good, sounds like we need to get you guys back as quick as we can."
"I- what? Huh?" Cutlass stammers before she groans and regains her bearings.
"Of course you aren't ugly! I'm… not really into girls, but I have to say that you're the prettiest girl on the crew. I don't even know where you'd get the idea that you are a creep or a loser from. You ARE poor, though. We all are."
>>752967>>752965>changing the last line
"That's good to hear," Cloud says, hearing things have been fine so far. "At least getting you guys back soon will take away one worry, with how things have been going here."
Cerulean has a face like she's not convinced.
"I don't think so, because at first, it actually did look like you at first. But when I told them you were claiming to be the real Thunder Serpent, they called you an imposter, and their appearance changed to something else. In fact, their appearance changed a couple of times as I talked with them. If the test was having faith that you are truly Thunder Serpent, then I should've failed. Yet I have the staff, as well as tools used to build the Watchkeepers."
"Not to mention: why would you have to proceed through the temple and face the challenges if you are what you say? We saw you fight before and how close you were to becoming chum. From what I saw of that, and what I went through in the temple; its more reason for me to think you're not really what you say you are."
Alder stretches out a little bit, and takes a moment or two to try out his detachable talons again. He'll pop off his… right! talons, and let them walk around the camp for a little.>>752970
Alder flicks his ear, and listens intently.
Cane Shuga is a near-black earth pony stallion, and looks to be a pensive sort. He glances over as you approach, then turns to face you. "You're the new guy, aren't you?" he asks. "Good to be working with you. Name's Cane Shuga of the Beesting.
You've already met Cloud, Alder and Cerulean, and of course Cutlass, one of our ship's allies. Bee Holder and Etch will want to meet you, I imagine.">>752968
Miss Sunshine sighs. "It's just one of those days… I wish I wasn't so poor. Anyway, what'd you call for…">>752969>>752967
Once Mallea finishes taking all their blood, the trio sit and think for a bit. You notice that Prisma pecks a bit at a yellow feather sitting on the nightstand next to her bed. Mallea arches an eyebrow with concern. "I hope I didn't cause that."
"Oh, don't mind her," Paraiba says. "She seemed to have got it off Alder's head awhile ago, and she's been keeping it since, always playing with it.">>752970https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O3EDuV2FRg
Kukulcan appears more and more concerned as you go on.
"Then who…?" Kukulcan mutters to himself. "This… warrants further investigation. I know who and what I am. I have not lived this long and survived the loss of home and divinity to be undone by mere suggestions. Tell me: Is this entity you encountered still down there? I shall see and question him myself.">>752971
Your hand walks around on its index and middle fingers, enjoying the cool grass upon them.
It is now that you recall the notebook the Crimson King was writing in, shortly after Cutlass accidentally revealed his identity.
He nodded "Yeah probably. It's fun to get to meet some many new people. Wish that it was like… normal instead of waking up under the ocean but not underwater. That's kinda weird ya know? Then again I'm a metal pony… sort of. So who am I to judge what's normal and what's weird."
"When I left, they were. Though they looked very old and probably would've fallen apart if I hugged them," she idly remarks, as if hugging stuff was her normal thing.
"However, I don't think we're going to have that time to check, since the Vault should be opening soon, right? And plus right now, between having the Crimson King do some weird body stuff, and now this stuff with Magoja; how do I know you won't try and do something to them, especially since they're probably still fixing the damages I caused?"
"You mean like right now? Or is this some baggage from some other point in your life?" Cutlass asks, sounding genuinely concerned.
"Anyway, we have a plan of attack for tomorrow. There's a port on the west side of the island. It's too dangerous to sail now when night is approaching. But, once there's sunlight, sail around to the west side of the island and dock there."
"From there, you're going to assemble a good chunk of the crew push toward where we will be fighting. Then, we're going to push an attack all the way to the vault. If everything goes well, we'll ALL be much richer."
"Do your blood tests normally dye fur… er, feathers?" Clouds jokingly questions Mallea. Cloud then looks back at the feath after Paraiba mentions Alder. "Wait, off Alder? But he's not yellow, are you sure it's from him?"
"Hrm… he frowns to himself a little, before snagging his talons and slipping it back on to his wrist with… no noise, surprisingly. He wiggles his talons to test a couple of times, before looking around for Juniper.
"Uhm, Miss Juniper- where is Cycle Kick, if you do not mind me asking? Back on Kukulcan's ship?"
"Well, we are still underwater," Cane Shuga says. He gestures upwards at the dome of clouds which cover all of Cuauhtemoc. They are currently a sunset-red, and the source and summit of the color is a long, golden-red serpentine dragon flying down over the western end of the island, past its surrounding waters. "My guess is that the two serpents up there – the other, being the Moon Serpent – are keeping an air bubble around us through their power."
He shrugs. "This whole situation is weird. The Ribcage is weird. You're one of the more normal things I've run into on this whole trip. So don't feel like too much of an outcast.">>752974
"I shall pass along the plans to Two Reeds, Sir Diamantaire, Magoja and the rest of the ship's leadership. I trust them enough to let them run things in my stead. As for these peculiar beings… I can give you my word I shall do no harm to them. But, I can sense that mere words are not enough. Shall entrusting you with collateral suffice, if I let you name your desired collateral? You understand that I must see to this matter as quickly as possible, owing to its grave nature.">>752975
"Yes," Miss Sunshine says.
As you move on, she sighs again. "Yes, captain. I'll let everyone know… and I'd better get a Vice-Captain's share.">>752976
Mallea leers at you.
Paraiba nods. "She pecked him pretty good yesterday, and this fell out, though I don't think anyone but Prisma noticed until much later."
"Doesn't match her feathers or his, or anyone else's," Droplet says. "You got any idea?">>752977>>752976
Juniper turns as Alder enters the infirmary. "Sorry, I don't quite know. He must be around here, with it getting so late… oh, well, depending on which one's in control now, he could be in Kukulcan's office to see the proof of our agreement. Or, he usually likes to fish a little in the Dreamer's Moon, just before bedtime. Try those places."
"Of course you will. Just like last time."
"And…" Cutlass pauses for a moment. "If you want to talk about it later, I wouldn't mind."
With that, Cutlass hangs up.
"Aww, you're a nice guy." he said with a few laughs before he sighed "I hope this goes good. I don't wanna see people getting hurt if I can help it ya know? Maybe it's that part of me that just wants to make sure everyone's happy."
"What?" Cloud says as Mallea leers at him, the witch glare making him a bit wary as he turns to Dropletto focus on the mystery.
"I… No," Cloud says, realizing he cannot ask Hmm about this feather. But then an idea comes to him. He quickly turns back to Mallea. "Mallea, can you test this feather, see if it matches any of the blood, or the blood left where Hmm was attacked later?">>752978>>752971
Cloud turns as Alder enters.
"Oh, hey, Alder! Do you recognize this?"
He asks, pointing to the feather.
"Ah! I will try those two places, then. Thank you, Miss Juniper!" he chirps, offering a bow before stepping out.>>752981
"Oh! I, hmm…">Memory roll? Master Thief? [1d10]
"I am… is that
why she was pecking at my head?"Roll #1 5 = 5
"That's what Paraiba said. Have you been around any yellow birds or gryphons lately?"
"I…don't know how to answer that one. All this negotiation stuff is really not for me," she says plainly and with a shrug.
"Honestly, all I really know is something isn't adding up right. You said the gods were swallowed by the Vault and all, yet there I was talking with them. So its just……I don't really know now. I wanna believe you, but everything just isn't adding up right."
"Depending on what kind of feather it was, most likely not," Mallea says. "But, I can try."
She produces a petri dish from her bag, and holds it out for you to enter the feather.>>752980
Cane hums. "You are pretty weird; I take it back. That's hardly the attitude a pirate has. Wherever we go, someone's bound to be upset. Though as far as any of us are concerned, they either deserve it, or else we're basically indifferent to it all. Who made you? A fellow pirate?">>752982>>752981
Alder recalls seeing a similar feather before… the last time he came down here to visit the Thunder Serpent's
infirmary. Neither he, nor Splendid knew what to make of it, as it didn't match the colors of any griffons on the Beesting
or Hidden Dagger.
Prisma must have pulled off multiple, for Alder took one, and she has this one.>>752979
Miss Sunshine mutters something before you hang up, but you can't make sense of it. Probably more moping.
You notice Kukulcan and Cerulean having an intense discussion near the jungle's edge.>>752984
"Many gods, young and old, were worshipped in this land," Kukulcan says. "In the confusion and chaos that followed the Vault's appearance, it is possible that other gods hid elsewhere, even as the majority of the elders charged in, in their ill-fated endeavor to destroy it… but I remember what I remember, and I know what I know. Before I can call myself a leader to any, I have a duty to see this discrepancy through to its source. Let me enter the Skull Temple, and I pledge that I will only seek the truth, and nothing more."
"I don't think he's a pirate… but he also does do jobs for stuff that I find… weird." he said as he tried to hide the mild hurt he felt at the weird line, though his eyes still darted down for a moment.
"My friend Dubya made me when he was a kid. I've been with him ever since."
Cutlass takes a seat somewhere nearby that seems comfortable. She keeps Cerulean and Kukulcan within view. She's not trying to eavesdrop. She's just trying to make sure Kukulcan doesn't try anything.
"Let's hope it is."
Cloud looks down at the feather, picking it up with the tip of his wing to minimize any contamination and sets it in the dish.
"We'll get this back to you in a jiffy Prisma."
"Hmm… a second feather! It certainly does not belong to anyone on either of our ships… maybe on Cutlass's ship? Or, one of the previous islands… hrm.">>752988
"Hrm… does it seem familiar to you, perhaps?"
"Honestly, its probably the best thing for now. Still, I'll see you keep to your word, at least until I hear what you have to have about them."
"No. But Hmm was attacked by a gryphon, and we have a mysterious feather here. It doesn't hurt to check."
"Oh, I see, a civilian," Cane says. "A mechanic of some kind? Well, heed my warning anyway; wherever pirates venture, misfortune follows in their wake. Hopefully, the misfortune afflicts the wicked. We're not what you might have heard of pirates; on this voyage, we've freed an island from genocidal monarchs, helped a town clear out some pests, and sort of exorcised a house – alongside a host of other small deeds. I think I heard something about our crew fighting an evil scientist shrimp… but they'll have to relay that tale to you themselves.">>752988>>752989
On the contrary, full glad does she seem to be to get rid of it, because once Mallea seals the dish, Prisma relaxes, then leans her massive chicken neck over Alder.
Paraiba and Droplet rise from their beds, stretching out after the long rest they had there.
"Apologies, but you'll be back in there soon," Mallea says. "We're spending the night. You see…"
She explains the content of Kukulcan's plan.
At the end of it, Droplet smiles. "Nice… bout time we got going on this Vault thing."
"Cutlass better share!" Paraiba insists. "Or else I'll just steal from her if she tries to hoard it all.">>752990>>752987
Kukulcan nods, and bows, his hand over his heart. "As I have attested, so I will act. Let me convene with my command, so that they may be able to spearhead the operation in my absence."
"Heard she changed the deal to a 50/50 split for our crews," Cloud assures Paraiba. "Course, a little more wouldn't hurt for what we've been through."
Alder warbles a little as Prisma leans her neck over him, weighing him down quite a bit! He hums softly to the Accompass bird, before gently rubbing at her neck. "Hmm… you deserve a chance to relax a little, yes? Feeling better?"
"I mean if you're pirates, you could just be lying to me to make yourself sound better." he said shooting some sass back at him "Besides it's not like me and Dubya can't fight. The two of us can do a lot of damage when we need to. Mostly collateral but the point stands." he said sitting back with a grunt "I know… not everything he does is legal. And I have come to terms with that, so long as he doesn't do anything really bad… I know his hearts in the right place. Plus he kinda dresses like a pirate, with the coat and all."
Cutlass continues to keep an eye on Cerulean.
"Alright. Sorry about the news, but yeah, I think I better get back with the others as well," she says, giving a few nods before heading back to the others.
"Exactly," Paraiba says. "I don't see how we're going to pay for Zerk's medical expenses and recovery procedures without it.">>752994
Prisma clucks softly, then preens your feathers and fur a bit, giving you a nice scratching before she sits back in her bed again, watching you with her chicken eyes.>>752995
"Heh! Now you're starting to get it," Cane says, taking a shine to your sass. "Well, this Dubya guy, we'll help you find him as soon as we can. Figure we should help one another so long as the relationship's good and the money is gold.">>752996>>752997
Kukulcan nods and bows, before heading off to speak with Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire. Schnitzel and Make Believe exchange some words with the three, and then head off to the camp's perimeter, unpacking their bags to make ready their tents and sleeping cots.
Alder flicks his tail happily as Prisma preens his feathers, and takes a moment or two to return the gesture as she settles back into her bed. "Anything I can get you, Prisma? A little water? Some music, maybe?"
"Bu-gawk!" she squawks.
Alder hums a little bit, before giggling. "Ah! Of course. Well, I will play a little something, and if you would like me to stop, peck me on the head once or twice, yes?" he suggests, before taking a seat and pulling out his guitar. He takes a moment or two to tune it, before strumming out a short song!
The mechaniquine grinned back at him and gave him a punch to the foreleg playfully with one of his own "Well I try to be nice but being sassy is fun too." he replied as he sighed "Who knows, maybe being a scoundrel will be a nice change of pace for me."
Prisma leans back to enjoy the music, and Juniper departs briefly, coming back shortly with a large water bowl, from which Prisma drinks with gratitude.>>753003
"You'll probably like it a lot more than being a square," Cane says. "We have far more fun than do-gooders, who have to clean up our messes."
"I have plenty of fun. Fun is what you make of it. You don't gotta go and do mean stuff or go and get messed up to have fun. Granted it's not like I can get drunk… I think. It's not like I've tried to be fair."
"Thank you, Juniper! I hope you are enjoying the music as well- do you play any instruments, out of curiosity?"
Cerulean nods her head, looking like she's got more questions than answers from all this, and moves back with everyone else as Kukulcan takes off.
Cutlass follows Kukulcan and walks up to him. "I've contacted my crew. They'll be sailing around to the port tomorrow morning," she reports.
"Right… We'll make sure to get extra treasure for that."
Last time, on PirateQuest…
The Captain fell asleep at the helm.
Cerulean confronted Kukulcan about what she encountered in the Skull Temple. Although Kukulcan insisted on his story, and truly seemed to mean it, he pledged to investigate the matter himself by heading into the Skull Temple a second time to meet the one who claimed to be the true Thunder Serpent. Considering how badly Kukulcan was injured on the first round, it remained to be seen if he'd survive this venture alone… Meanwhile, Cutlass listened in on the conversation to learn of this most peculiar crisis of identity.
Cloud, Alder and Mallea informed Droplet, Paraiba and Prisma (and the mooks) of all that transpired, while Mallea took their blood samples for the investigation. They spent some time relaxing while they digested the current situation.
Two Tons and Cane Shuga discussed what a pirate's life was like, and Cane seemed to take a liking to him and his creator, Dubya.
Meanwhile, Schnitzel and Make Believe hatched a plan of their own to catch the informant… that's the truth, isn't it?>>753006
Cane pats you on the back. "Stick with us and we'll show you a different way of seeing the world. Never hurts to expand your horizon.">>753009
Juniper runs her hoof along the edge of the bowl, and the water plays a curious tone. Prisma leans back, and squawks with surprise. Juniper shrugs. "I mean, that's about it. Put most of my time into fashion and dress-up.">>753597>>753597>>753009
Cerulean picks up the scent of blood aboard the Thunder Serpent…
she follows it to the infirmary, where, instead of a violent scene, she instead sees Mallea taking blood samples from Droplet, Paraiba and Prisma, as well as the mooks. Alder, Cloud and Juniper Yumeno are there too.
Droplet nods. "Well, well. The grand explorer herself. How's it going, Cerulean? Haven't seen you in a spell.">>753598
"Excellent," Kukulcan says, though his eyes are distant. "But, a matter of import, one I must tend to myself, has arisen. I am transferring command of the retaking of the Capital to Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire. Not that their authority is binding on you, but I trust them to carry out the plan as I could myself."
Two Reeds bows her head. "It is an honor to hear those words. We shall not disappoint."
Kukulcan nods. "For my part… I will rejoin this expedition only once I have finished my business. You may not see me again, ere the final assault on the Vault, depending on how it goes."
"An interesting talent, all the same. Fashion and dress-up sound nice, though- my mentor was very much in to those things, but I do not think it caught on well with myself.">>753600>>753597
"Oh- hello, Cerulean. Just doing some blood tests."
He chuckled "You'd get along with my friend. He loves the idea about pushing forward and exploring new stuff. It's why we left home to come out here. The less than legal or friendly stuff came later but… well I like to think I play the role of his conscience now and then. But yeah… seeing the proper pirate life might be a great change of pace."
"Yeah, I could smell the blood from out there," she replies to Alder like its a normal thing for her.
"Just making sure nothing bad happened."
"Ooooo…Grand Explorer Cerulean. I like the sounds of that. You think they'll make that my new wanted poster name?" She gives a happy grin and laugh.
"But I've been good, Droplet. Just swimming with the current and seeing what happens. Hows all this going," she says, doing a hoof motion to all the blood tests going on.
"Mmm… it does sound good! I think we will have to try and get it on a poster, yes." he remarks, before cocking his head to the side. "Right- sharks have an excellent sense of smell for blood, yes?"
Cutlass cocks her head with concern. "Might I ask what this business entails? Don't share details if you must. But, we've already encountered too many roadbumps as a result of your lack of sharing information. So, at the very least, I think it best if you would give an inkling of the nature of your errand. I'd hate for us to accidentally get in the way of it as a result of our ignorance. That would just be the cherry on top of the cake of misinformation that has already plagued this venture."
>Whisper in Your Ear [1d10+4] DC-1>using 2 TBPRoll #1 3 + 4 = 7
Cloud looks over as Cerulean comes in.
"Oh, hey Cerulean. Everything's fine enough. We found an odd feather off Alder though."
Cloud says, pointing to the yellow feather.
"If the informant heard you, it could very well be," Droplet responds. "Hrm… perhaps another newspaper run to the surface will be in order."
Paraiba perks up for your second question. "We're finally feeling ready enough to get going and rejoin you guys."
"Good, 'cause…" Droplet suddenly endures a very long yawn. "Just like Colobok did when they captured him, I used a technique from my assassin's training. Only, instead of putting myself in a coma, I used mine to stay awake this whole time, to make sure nothing fishy happened to us. So, I'll probably be asleep for quite some time. Just wake me when we're ready to raid the Vault.">>753605
"Inside the Skull Temple, your Cerulean encountered a… being…
who claimed to be the true Thunder Serpent, and I, an illicit impostor of the gods," Kukulcan answers. "I intend to confront this deceiver and uncover why he has spun such a blasphemous lie. Perhaps more gods survived the fall of Cuauhtemoc than I had believed, but divine spirit or no, I am still one of them."
He frowns. "Despite everything withheld, I have not provided you with false information even once," Kukulcan says. "Nor shall I.">>753602
Cane smirks. "Kukulcan better watch out, 'else our Captain Bee Holder just might try to poach you from his crew."
He laughs. "Well, anyway, I need to check in and make my report. I'll join you guys again once it's time for some shut-eye."
"Ah! Uhm… sleep well, then." the griffon says, before cocking his head to the side. "They must have a particularly effective method to send word from all the way down here…"
"Fair enough," Cutlass shrugs. "'A lack of information' would have been more accurate. But, it doesn't roll off the tongue as well."
"Anyway, I wish you luck on your mission," Cutlass says with a small wave before she turns to leave.
"You can do that?" Cloud questions on the technique. "That sounds pretty useful. How easy is it to learn that?"
He grinned as his eyes seemed to grow before he shook the stallions hoof and stretched out a bit, the whirring of gears and pistons as his body flexed "I'll be seeing you then bud. And try to be a nicer pirate. Catch more flies with honey than vinegar."
Cerulean looks at the feather with a puzzled look.
"Huh…yeah, that's not Alder's. And pretty sure its not his little girlfriend's feather neither," she says with a playful grin and giggle.>>753604
"Usually, yeah. Better in water.">>753607
"Ooo, are the results finally in? Do we know who has 'it'?" She says in an attempt to be discreet.
Droplet is already asleep. Prisma climbs out of her bed, picks him up with her beak, and sets him on her back, where he promptly disappears inside of her immense feather fluff.
Paraiba blinks with shock. "Okay… next naptime, I call dibs on that.">>753612>>753610>>753608
Mallea shakes her head. "I still need to compare these samples with those aboard the Hidden Dagger
before I can name a suspect. Once the ship pulls 'round tomorrow morning, I'll climb aboard and make my comparisons – though Godot and Thessaly are probably already at work, and I asked Granny to help keep watch. The informant, or their assassin, may have gotten the drop on Gullveig, but they'll hardly have such luck against Granny – not to mention the Sea Witch and the Good Doctor."
Mallea suddenly gasps.
"Why didn't I get a pirate's epithet on my bounty poster!?" she suddenly fumes.>>753611
"But you'll catch even more with gold, blood and rum," Cane retorts, before heading off along the lakeside, conch in hoof.>>753609>>753611
Kukulcan waves back to Cutlass, half-heartedly. This is the first time you've ever seen anything of that range of emotions from him.
As he turns away, Cutlass and Two Tons happen to turn in each other's direction, and thus, catch one another's eyes. Perhaps a perfect opportunity to interact?
>Timeskip to morning available; if not taken by the end of this session, ideally, next session will begin in the morning
Cutlass heads over to Two Tons. "You are… an unknown quantity. I don't like not knowing. What are you and where did you come from? Are you a part of Kukulcan's crew? Why didn't I see you before?" Cutlass asks her flurry of questions in a demanding tone.
"Right- sleep is for the best, most likely. I will be eager to see the results when they come through, Miss Mallea." The griffon says, bowing a little. "And, I do not… know. I was not aware you wanted one." He suggests, going to check on Splendid.
He blinks in realization, before saying "Right! I need a better place for the fish I got- and, I ought to feed it."
"I'm Two Tons, I'm made of metal. My friend made me when he was a kid. Probably not much younger than you little girl. I guess I am? And I was apparently a statue because somebody put me to sleep and made me look like one, then his crew bought me and put me on the ship, then they woke me up and asked me if I wanted to join and get treasure. And until I can get back to my friend that seemed pretty nice."
The large automaton had no problems parsing the rapid fire questioning as he maintained his usual grin.
"Smart, nothing can get past Granny," Cloud comments, relieved with her being on the lookout. He then snickers as Mallea fumes over not having a pirate title. "Well you gotta do something to get a title for it. Or, have a unique look like me."
Cutlass's eye twitches as she receives a series of infuriatingly unhelpful answers.
"Okay…" she lets out a long sigh. "So, you're more or less just in this for the ride?"
>Soul Sight on Two Tons o' Fun
>>753618>>753616>Forgot to add:
Her eyes subtly glow silver as she speaks.
"Or do something people remember you by, like how much I can eat!"
"But dang, even more waiting?"
He grinned still as he found the eye twitch a bit funny "Oh well I guess. I was also going along because they said they would help me find my friend again."
Two Tons was a simple robot and his desires were equally simple. To see his friend again. And make more along the way.
The whole being built when someone was a kid thing might be the source of his demeanor there.
"I see…" Cutlass contemplates, eyeing Two Tons as she is deep in thought.
"Did he give any indicator of where your friend might be?"
"Hrm…" Mallea ponders. "I don't want to do anything too similar to any of you, and I am not particularly boorish or gluttonous or visually impaired… oh, consarnation, I will simply let the Virtues or the informant decide for me. I have work to do."
She looks over to Cerulean. "I assure you this will be the last of the waiting to be done. Once all the samples are checked – which admittedly, may take quite some time – we will be able to identify our traitor. And I care not if they somehow heard that; they attacked my friend, and they have nowhere to run.">>753615
"Oh, I can help with that," Juniper says.
You, Juniper and Paraiba go to the kitchen, where Juniper borrows another large bowl for your fish. The two look on with impatience and excitement, waiting for you to release the fishy.>>753618>>753616
Two Tons notices a giraffe sticking out of Cutlass's shadow. Or, at least the head and neck of one. She appears to be a young giraffe, as she's only about six feet tall.
"Hi," the giraffe says, sticking out a hoof for Two Tons to shake. "I'm Ossie. Nice to meet you."
"No… oh but the guy with the one blue eye said he talked to him. Not sure how but he said he could bring me to him. Or maybe him to me. He could probably help with this big fight with some of those gadgets he has with that weird… energy stuff he has.>>753623
If his eyes could encompass the entirety of his face, they just might as he looked in utter awe at the magic girafe.
"You could go for The Alchemist or something," Cloud suggests.
"I am a chemist, not an alchemist, I'll have you know."
Cutlass can't help but chuckle at Two Ton's reaction. "Ossie is my bodyguard, nothing to worry about," she says with a grin. "I trust her completely.">>753624
When he mentions that Cloud told him he knew where to find his friend, Cutlass narrows her eyes. "He really said that. Hmm. What's your friend's name?"
Alder huffs a bit- clearly a little overplayed- and says "Well, I imagine she is not secretly golden, and neither am I.">>753623
"Mmm… 'Grand Witch' Mallea, or something like that?" he offers, before nodding. "I imagine they will figure something out.">>753623
Alder slowly fills up the bowl, before releasing the fish into it. Once it seems settled, he'll add a little bit of food.
"Oh, or like 'Grand Chemist'. That has a good ring to it," Clouds says, combining the names.
"Well he said to call him W.W. whenever he isn't around. He doesn't want people trying to use me to get to him. Or for me to blab about him cause he's… well he's not the most friendly guy with the law."
He turned to Ossie "Well I think she's neat. and Cool. and kinda Cute, but like… in a friendly way? Maybe. I dunno if I like girls… or anybody like that. Not sure I can." he laughed.
Then he turned back, motioning to the small teal ball of flame hovering above him "Normally me and my friend could talk through these but this place doesn't let it work."
"W. W." Cutlass contempaltes out loud. "What is he like?"
At that last thing he said, Cutlass furrows her brow. "Sometimes you say things that don't make any sense to me…"
"Oh well… he's really smart, and tall. Sometimes he gets kinda testy with me for being so goofy… But he's a nice guy. Though he tends to get annoyed when things don't work for him.
He pondered on what else he could share "He's a Kirin too. I guess I can share that. Not too identifying I think."
He giggled a bit as he found her expressions amusing "Yeah I kinda ramble without thinking… kind of alot."
"Hmm. Well, if your search for your friend doesn't work out, you could make plenty of new friends, I'm sure. There's certainly a lot of people on my own crew who would get along with you."
"Man everybody wants me to be part of their crew. Kukul whatever, that other guy said a bee lady might, and now you."
Cutlass frowns. "Do you want my honest response to that, or do you want me to just keep being nice?"
"Uh sure. Why wouldn't ya be honest with me?"
Cutlass sighs. "I can't speak for why the others have made their offers. But, I'm just trying to soften the blow for when you make the seemingly inevitable realization."
"It sounds like you've been… down for a long time. Long enough that your friend is likely long since dead. I just wanted to give you something else to look forward to when that happens. Your situation has garnered my pity."
Uh… but your pal with the Blue eye said he talked with him. And I didn't see him all that long ago…" he said as his tone took on one of hurt at the thought of his friend being dead.
"A short time from your point of view, perhaps. But, do you know how long you were… asleep?"
"Maybe I'm wrong," Cutlass shrugs. "You ARE a very confusing… thing. I don't really know what Cloud was talking about. Maybe he knows something I don't. Or, maybe he's trying to be nice or manipulate you."
"I don't know either way. I just didn't want to lie to you. I'd rather give you something new to be happy about than have you keep living under a delusion. I guess other people disagree with me," Cutlass shrugs.
"But, if I'm wrong, that's good too."
He rubbed his head and whined a bit as he found her words confusing "I feel like you're just trying to confuse me but I don't know." he said as his eyes clenched shut as he tried to alleviate the headache he was getting from the roundabout sentence structure and confusing back and forth."
"Guess Cane was right about Pirates not being nice." he said with a small grumble.
"Well, it's true. Pirates are better at being mean than nice," Cutlass laughs. "But, to be fair, I ASKED if you wanted me to be nice or not. You said you didn't."
"I… fair. You said honest not nice… so maybe I did ask for it." he grumbled as he stamped a metal hoof.
If nothing else he certainly did have a childlike world view which would give credence to his claims of being built by one.
"Anyway, why is a kid a pirate?" he asked rubbing his head a bit "Your mom the captain or something?"
Cutlass grimaces at being called a kid. "I'm almost 17!" she objects. "And, I AM the captain!"
"Oh. Sorry you're just… kinda small. Then again I might be skewed cause Dubya is really tall. So again, sorry about that." he said bowing his head a bit.
Cutlass gives Two Tons a silent glare when he calls her small. Then, she lets it go.
"Anyway, to answer your question, my father was a pirate. Piracy is in my blood!" she says dramatically.
"Suffice it to say that my home life was… insufficient for my pirate blood. Too stifling. I naturally crave freedom!"
"So, when I was 14 and I saw an opportunity to leave, I did it without ever looking back. I have YEARS of pirating experience that has lead to me being a captain of my own crew," she says with no small amount of pride and smugness.
"That's pretty impressive. You and Dubya would probably get along. He left home as a kid two and the two of us have spent years just… wandering I guess. Exploring and doing our own thing." he paused "Though he might make fun of your height a bit, Just a heads up. He likes to tease."
"I'm…" Cutlass lets out a long sigh. "Used to it…"
"Just wandering wherever you want sounds nice," Cutlass comments. "The ultimate expression of freedom. That sort of self-sufficiency is hard to achieve. I envy your robotic nature. It must be much easier for you."
"I mean I guess? I don't even know if I have a soul or any of that Aura stuff I've heard about. I don't eat or sleep or do really anything that makes a person a person." he sighed "I dunno. I guess if you normally have to do that stuff you don't think about missing it, but when you've never had to do it, you kinda wonder just what it would be like to need to."
"Grand Chemist…" Mallea ponders. "I certainly hope the informant is taking notes."
As Alder drops in the fish, it swims about, getting a feel for the size of his bowl. Voraciously, he leaps at the food that Alder drops in; not one piece can sink to the bottom of the bowl before it's eaten.
"Cuuuuuute," Juniper says.
"Kinda scary though," Paraiba appends. "Whatcha name him?"
"Mhmm- hopefully, they will!" the griffon chirps, snickering a little bit.>>753650
"I named him Peka- it means River!" the griffon explains, before cocking his head to the side. "Scary? How so?"
"Glad you like. Heh, maybe Chiu and I should get into business making the names for these bounty posters," Cloud jokes at the good reception. He then pauses a moment, and takes out his conch, calling Chiu up.
"Do they ever eat that much? And jump like that?" Juniper asks.>>753652
"Cloud!" Chiu responds after a few rings. "You'll never guess what I just found."
"Huh? What'd you find?" Cloud asks, surprised and curious of the sudden question.
"I… hmm. I do not know, to be honest- I have little knowledge of the fish in the Ribcage, beyond what some of them taste like. Perhaps he is an unusual fish variety?"
"Some kind of badge inside of one of the cereal barrels that Bee Holder bought in bulk. It was wrapped pretty securely in cloth, so we don't think there's any contaminants. And we checked it for both Aura and magic, but it looks pretty mundane. Might be made of silver or something. You want it?">>753656
"I'm from the Ribcage, but even I haven't seen something like it," Paraiba says. "Of course, that's true for most things you'd find in the Ribcage. Nobody's ever really put together a comprehensive catalogue of all the wildlife."
"Maybe Two Reeds or Kukulcan would know," Juniper suggests.
The goldfish jumps out a few more times, this time apparently for fun.
"Mmm… right, I imagine due to the nature of The Ribcage, it would be hard to make an extensive catalog of species."
The griffon tilts his head to the side, and looks at the fish closer. "Like the new bowl, Peka?"
"Oh, that's all," Cloud says with a sigh of relief, expecting something more concerning. "Wait, they have prizes in the cereal out here? Sure, if you don't want it. What's it look like?"
Cloud pauses a moment.
"Oh, yea, how are things going over there?"
Peka jumps out of the bowl and gives you a fishy kiss on the beak. They jump out again and slap you with their tail.
"Body language like that could go either way, it's hard to tell," Juniper says.
"Yeah… hey, is it a boy fish or a girl fish?" Paraiba asks.>>753660
"It's something like a coin, then around the outside you have this design that makes me think of a pair of tiaras or crowns or something," Chiu says. "I don't know if it was a prize exactly… kind of a weird thing to use for that, don't you think? Bee Holder's pretty busy right now, but I'll see if I can find her ledger to check who she bought these from."
"Mmm. I… do not know, actually. I assumed, but it is difficult to say- I do not study fish often." the griffon says, giggling.
"It's not the weirdest, unless it's real silver. Should check out the other barrels when we get to them, see what other prizes they snuck in there," Cloud muses in thought until Chiu mentions Bee Holder. "Yea, I'm not surprised. Kukulcan just told us he's planning a raid on the capital of the island tomorrow to make a base for when they raid the Vault. It's… kinda worrying."
Cloud checks around, making sure none of Kukulcan's higher crew are around.
"It doesn't really sound like he knows what he's doing. He said those metal men can't be killed or contained, so I don't see how we can take back a city from them, and he hasn't said much about the Vault aside that we need to get stuff out of it. It… just feels like a disaster waiting to happen."
Cloud says with growing concern.
"No worries: just point me to the right thing and I'll happily help hold them down for you," she replies with a happy grin and nod.>>753905
"Well that's why I got this fancy staff thingy. And as I saw earlier, it made the ones over here listen to me."
"Yea, but who knows what else that Vault has spit out that we'll have to deal with."
"Well, we'll just do what we have been doing: see what pops out and nip it in the butt…or take a chunk out of it. Depends on how bad they're being." She gives a playful grin as she tries to reassure him.
"No worries: everything will be alright!"
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Kukulcan informed Cutlass of his intent to transfer the taking of the island's capital to Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire. While the two were busy reviewing the plans with their crews, there was still some time to prepare before night fell.
Cloud, Juniper, Mallea, Alder and Cerulean went into the Thunder Serpent's
infirmary, whereupon they caught up Droplet, Paraiba and Prisma and the mooks on everything that had been going on. The trio gave Mallea their blood samples, and then Droplet promptly fell asleep.>>753663
"Well, unless we can ask the fish, we can just go with whichever," Paraiba says. "If he… she… they… if Peka can jump out of the bowl and mess around like they've been doing, I'm sure they'll inform us one way or another."
"Oh yeah!" Juniper says. "One of our crewmates, Kahuan, also has a battle aquarium. I'm sure you wouldn't want Peka to be in danger, but maybe Kahuan could help you make a secure one for Peka!">>753905
"Yeah… I've honestly had second thoughts about this whole thing since the start. I thought I was just being paranoid, but lately, I've been getting that sense more and more as time goes on. I wonder if the Wetnurse has been sending me little signals or something… and if that's the case, she's really suspicious of Kukulcan in particular.">>753907
Mallea nods. "I'll trust you to handle security when we call a trial for the suspected informants."
"To me, a person is just someone free to choose. Can you choose?"
"I mean I can choose stuff yeah, I have a mind and can think about how to decide." He replied.
"Like choosing to put that sticker on and then taking it off when I felt uncomfortable."
"Does that mean I get to use that tiny hammer?!" Her tail swishes back and forth excitedly, awaiting the answer like an excited child.
"Sticker? Was it one of Make Believe's?"
"Mhmm, it had a monkey on it and I started feeling like one after a bit, which I found to be kinda uncomfortable."
"A… Battle Aquarium? I am afraid I have not heard of one of those before… but, a more secure aquarium would be nice!"
"That'll be easy you on the front lines."
Cloud says, feeling a little better at the sharky grin.>>753927
"With what Cerulean said about him, she's got good reason to." Cloud then pauses a moment. "…I'm just not sure what I should do in all this."
"B-bureaucracereal!?" Chiu exclaims.
Cloud stammers in complete befuddlement.
"Sorry, I just found Bee Holder's ledger… turns out that was Bureaucracereal she bought. Granola, almonds, oats, and marshmallows, all shaped like bureaucrats to try to make the wonders of papyrus and quill-pen pushing appeal more to kids. Turns out the prizes are all themed after those kinds of jobs too. Looks like I got a defense attorney's badge. You can have it though, I was never interested in law."
"That's quite a mouthful," Cloud comments. "Save a bowl for me, that sounds pretty good. And a defense attorney… Hope you're interested in lawyers then."
"I'm eating for two, plus a demon. You can have whatever's left of the barrel once I'm done," Chiu says. Somehow, you can hear her wink.
"The Captain's checking out some other town found on the coast tomorrow. Maybe I'll check that for some treasure to buy my own barrel," Cloud chuckles. "Save some marshmallows, everypony knows those are the best part."
"I would nobody else, armed with no other hammer than that one, on the security detail," Mallea confirms.>>753939
"Yeah, it's basically…" Juniper begins, before stopping to think. "Basically, hard to explain, now that I think about it. I'll let Kahuan demonstrate when you meet him.">>753954
"We're pirates," Chiu retorts. "You'd better come steal 'em if you want 'em!"
"Yeah, Make Believe seems to have a track record of making people feel uncomfortable. He doesn't bother me, though," Cutlass shrugs.
With the evening growing long, the exhaustion from your two treks across the island, first in the cool of the morning, and the latter in the heat and humidity of the afternoon, catches up with you. You eventually conclude your evening business, and retire to your lodgings. Cloud, Cutlass, Alder and Cerulean head back to their lean-tos from yesterday, while Two Reeds provides Two Tons with a cot, a blanket and pillow. Sadly, Kukulcan's Thunder Serpent
is currently full on rooms. He'll have to wait for a death or a resignation to get his own room.
"At the very least, I enchanted the cot to be comfy," Two Reeds says by way of consolation. "And Juniper should be able to redesign it as you wish."
At last, with the Moon Serpent's soothing light filling the air with calm, you find yourselves drifting into sleep, despite what dreams await you there…
…As for Kukulcan, however, there are other plans.
Kukulcan stands before the entrance of the Skull Temple, equipped with naught but his clothing, a satchel of equipment and food, and a pair of pistols at his side. Silently he observes the Skull Temple's entrance, before stepping inside, trailing his wing-tips across the stone glyphs carved into the entrance's walls – the glyphs, his servants carved, after his own designs, or so he believes.
Knows for a fact.
Whatever Cerulean encountered, whatever denied his claim to godhood…
No, it's not even worth arguing.
Not even worth considering.
He is who he is, and always shall be.
So long, and so distracting are these thoughts, that Kukulcan nearly loses his legs, when a bladed leg of bronze and obsidian comes swiping for his ankles. Only on animal instinct does he leap backwards quick enough to evade it. Before him, in the dark chamber into which he wandered while lost in thought, are four colossal Watchkeepers, fashioned after dreadful insects. They glower at him with red eyes as they surround him.
"I created each and every one of you," Kukulcan says, stretching out his arms. "Fashioned you from the earth from which I drew you, giving you name and life both… and still, you do not recognize me?"
The machines make no response, merely clacking forward with single-minded intent to destroy the unknown invader before them.
"Nothing…?" Kukulcan begins. "Listen! It's me, the Thunder Serpent! I am back! I am home! Put down your weapons, I am–"
Blood spatters against the Temple's walls and floors, as the blade of the largest of the Watchkeepers stabs into Kukulcan's flesh.
But not where it had aimed. It had gone for his chest with its razor claws, but he caught it, in his own. Now, he holds the massive beast still with a hand.
"Nothing at all…" Kukulcan murmurs. "…I am grateful that Cerulean can repair you. That means I do not have to worry."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wzXxTQeq58
Golden lightning flashes from his wound, dancing across his blood."Thunder Step,"
With a blast of thunder that can be heard as far as your campsite, obsidian stone and twisted, melted brass erupt all across the Temple's room, slamming across the walls, floor and ceiling.
As for Kukulcan, he is no longer there. He has stepped all the way across to the other side of the Temple's first floor. In his wake lies every Watchkeeper that guarded this floor, now laying destroyed.
Lightning crackles across his skin as he descends the stairs to the next floor.
"I don't recall the stairs being here, however…" he notes.
Cloud heads to sleep in his lean-to, head abuzz with thoughts on the next day. Concerned over what he should and shouldn't do, if he should do something else away from all the plans Kukulcan tossed about. He fades to an uncomfortable sleep, stirring through the night.
He jumps when the thunder booms across the campsite, covering his sensitive ears.
"Didn't think there was weather down here…" He grumbles groggily, "This is a horrible night…"
Cerulean turns over in her sleep as the sound of thunder goes out. She stirs a bit to look outside, wondering if it was raining or something. Though it being sort of late at night/early in the morning, she yawns and goes back to sleep after a moment of being somewhat up.
With that, another night passes, haunted by the dreams of the Vault. Ever it moves onward, and ever do the Metal Men steal away more territory before being subdued by the Watchkeepers, armed with the light of the Sun Serpent.
The Metal Men are getting close enough now that you can see the patches and rot upon their suits, the decay in their helms… your helpless, paralyzed faces in the shiny gleam of their glass eye-ports…
Then, you awake, safe and sound, in the lodging afforded to you last night.
Alder lets out a startled squawk as he's roused from his half-sleeping state by a thunderous bang. He looks over towards the direction from the noise, and mulls over whether or not to go check it out… then, decides against it. No one else seems to, that's for sure.>>754250
"Hmm… well, at least there was only one crash of thunder." the griffon remarks, stretching out a little after slipping out from under his lean-to. "Though, I might prefer being awoken to those awful dreams."
"It was more the sticker that did it. Personally I thought he was pretty cool, what with the talking in my head thing.">>754247
By that point later in the night he had simply place his cot on the deck to look at the stars as being a robot, he had no need to sleep, but then he got worried that maybe a storm was gonna come in.>>754250
Given his worry over the storm, Two Tons didn't sleep the night away, instead finding ways to try and keep his cot safe, mainly by using spare barrels and fabric to make a fort over his cot, and then working to improve said fort throughout the night.
Before Cutlass went to sleep, she secretly let Sir Pent loose aboard the Thunder Serpent to kill and eat any rodents he might find.
Cutlass groans as she wakes up. "The sooner we are done with this place, the better."
She stretches and takes her hat off. As she absent-mindedly fixes her bed-head, she checks her hat to see if Sir Pent has come back to her yet.
Cloud sits up as the light stirs him awake, rubbing his eye after the haunting dream and again poor sleep. He gets up, an extra sense of loneliness hitting as without his eyepatch, he only sees blue with no Hmm from his false eye. Sitting there in silence for a few minutes, he takes a piece of cloth, scribbling away on it. Didn't sleep to well last night. Can you fill this up with some of that cereal and send it back?
Sticking the note into his Messenger Bottle, he gets up, walking out of his lean-to to the Dreamer's Moon, tossing the bottle in.
"Off you go to Chiu."
He says to send it off, then falling back to sit on the ground with a yawn, hoping that whatever happens today can fix up these dreams.
He gets up, an extra sense of loneliness hitting as the dread void of gray greats half his vision, instead of the blue that he's grown accustomed to.
Sir Pent is curled up near the foot of your bed. Atop his head there rides a small mouse, also curled up just like him.>>754254
After vanishing for a brief time, the Messenger Bottle appears once more, filled to the brim with the Bureaucracereal that Chiu mentioned yesterday. Prosecutor and defense attorney-shaped marshmallows mingle with bits of granola and almonds fashioned into desks and briefcases.>>754254>>754253>>754252>>754251>>754249
As you awaken, the head of the Sun Serpent emerges over the eastern horizon, and the light that follows it provides quick comfort and warmth against the lingering chill of the night. Kukulcan's crew is already up and about, busy as ever, but Kukulcan himself is nowhere to be seen.
Ossie sits at the edge of the lean-to camp, with dark bags under her eyes, looking exhausted. Cloud recalls Droplet's special all-nighter technique. Cane Shuga and Juniper, on the other hand, look well rested as they get a small morning campfire going and make small talk to pass the time.
The metal being seems to be satisfied with his fort after a point, and then goes off to try and prep a pot of coffee. He seemed to recall people liked than when they were tired. He went rummaging around the ship looking for beans, a percolator, and fresh water because he was fairly certain salt water was not drinkable.
He also made sure to say good morning to everyone he saw because that was just polite.
"AAh- you look rather well-rested, which seems to be a bit more than I can say for… well, most everyone else, it seems. Slept well, Juniper?" the griffon asks, settling down next to the campfire and looking around. "I assume… hmm- was that Kukulcan out there last night?">>754255>>754254
Alder frowns a little upon seeing Cloud, and offers a short wave.
Cerulean groans as the more she sees that dream, the more it reminds her of her fight with the spider and the odd feeling of emptiness she felt towards the end. She tries to shake off the feeling and check things around the place, especially if breakfast was hot and ready to serve as her stomach growls.
Cutlass does a double-take form Sir Pent to the mouse. Her dumbfounded expression slowly turns up into an adoring smile. "Is this a gift for me?" She asks the snake. "You are just the most precious things in the world," she says as she boops the snakes nose. "Yes you are!"
"Shall we keep him as a pet, then," Cutlass says as she telekinetically lifts her hat and observes the mouse. "I suppose you could save him as a snack for later. Or a little breakfast if you're feeling hungry again."
Cutlass telekinetically lifts Sir Pent and places him on the brim of her hat. She doesn't put the hat on. Instead, she keeps the hat floating in front of her so that she can watch what the two animals do next as she walks to find the others.>>754256
Cutlass notices Ossie looking tired. "Ossie!" Cutlass says, sounding disappointed in her. "If you needed help standing watch, you should have asked! I appreciate the effort, but you need your rest too! Are you at least able to sleep in my shadow?"
Cloud stretches a bit, spreading and flexing his wings as he waits. The sun feels nice on his wings, still adjusting back to having them. When the bottle returns, he pops it open and tosses it back, dumping some of the cereal into his mouth to chow down on to help wake up.
He takes out his conch, giving Chiu a call.
"Thanks babe," He says when she picks up, still chewing.
Cloud looks around, standing with his breakfast. He walks over to Ossie, concerned with how exhausted she looks.
"You up guarding all night?" He asks.>>754258
Cloud looks over, giving Alder a wave back.
Chiu stifles a yawn as she picks up the conch. "Anytime, but make sure you wash the bottle real good every time we use it for food. You never know if some liquid might get in, especially as that cork gets old and chewed up.">>754260
The mouse and Sir Pent groggily get up, before Sir Pent coils around the hat as he is wont to do. The mouse crawls around, sniffing about the hat until he at last climbs atop it, and starts to clean his face with his paws.>>754261>>754260
Ossie grumbles something, then stumbles over to Cutlass's shadow and practically trips inside. She sinks as she hits the ground, until she's absorbed by the shadow.
"Hey, looks like there's finally something I'm better at than Ossie," Droplet says. You turn, and find him standing behind you, scratching at his neck. "Captain, looks like I'll be your guide for today.">>754258>>754259
"Yeah," Juniper answers. "The thunder didn't really bother me much. The Captain's like that from time to time."
"Sounded like it came from the Temple," Cane says.
"There was one more blast after that first one, but you might not have heard it," Juniper says. "I only noticed 'cause I got up to use the little mare's room.">>754257
You search for the necessary tools to make coffee, only to find that the mess hall aboard the ship is a bit sparse on tools. You come back out, only to find that Itz, the chef you met yesterday, is already hard at work pouring pots for a growing line of Kukulcan's crewmates. Looks like he could use some assistance meeting the crowd's demands, though.
"Yeah, I heard something in the night, too. Actually managed to wake me up for a moment. Though I'm guessing that means he found temple Watchkeepers I didn't come across…or maybe they got fixed by those odd guys at the bottom."
"Guide?" Cutlass says with a smirk. "I think you mean guard."
She continues to pay more attention to the mouse on the floating hat in front of her. "What do mice eat?" she asks aloud.
The robot tromped on in, grabbing a bag of beans and opening his mouth revealing a series of small blades and poured them in. He proceeded to close his mouth.
One might be mildly scared as his entire upper half began to make a high pitch whine before be found a large bowl and proceeded to deposit a very finely ground pile of coffee beans.
"Ya might wanna add some salt if you don't want it too bitter. That's how my friend likes it."
"Mmm… I did not hear it, no- was it just quieter, or something?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.
"Yup. I'll wash it out when I get back to the ship. …Should order some extra corks then too when we get back to the surface," Cloud says, tossing back a few marshmallows he picked out. >>754262
Cloud looks down as Ossie stumbles and falls into the shadow, then looks to Droplet.
"So that no-sleep technique is a you-only thing then?"
He asks after seeing that display.
"I assume it's one of their weird shadow abilities," Cutlass says distractedly as she watches the mouse clean his face.
"Bit of a stretch for shadows and sleeping there. I'd expect something with nightmares or something going in that angle."
Cloud comments, then looking to see Cutlass watching the mouse.
"…Found a new friend?"
"Cheese, of course," Droplet explains. "They are quite fond of fondue in particular."
He then snorts. "Anyway, it's not shadow-based, but it's one of our techniques, all the same. The same style of technique that lets us leap and sprint faster than any of you, and cut through muscle, bone and steel with each of our strikes. I can't tell you much more than that – only that Ossie wasn't too adept at those, even though she was a prodigy at our shadow techniques.">>754263>>754266
"Sounded like it," Juniper says. "It must have come from deeper within the Temple, because it was muffled. I don't know how soon it was after the first blast, but it was still pretty dark out."
Cane serves you some hardtack biscuits, as well as a side of fresh fish, and two mugs of black coffee. "Compliments of Itz, over by the Thunder Serpent.
Itz just leers at you for a minute, and you gather that a chef might not be so keen on serving food that's been in someone else's mouth. He picks up the bowl of coffee beans, inspecting them as a fire-red Aura flashes over his eyes…
After a few moments of inspection, he continues to serve coffee with the new set of beans. "Tons," he says curtly. "Take their mugs, heat the water, and serve."
The crewmates, despite Itz's trepidation, look like they've seen (and consumed) grosser things. Such is the life of a pirate.
"So I guess that means you can't teach it. Would be nice to skip over this dreams lately," Cloud says as Droplet doesn't get too deep into the details.
"He was a gift from Sir Pent… or she. Not sure how to tell…"
"Actually," she mutters as her eyes glow silver.
>Soul Sight on Sir Pent
"Also, surely they like more than cheese. Something more feasible for me to find."
If this was anyone else Tons might agree, but he is a machine, and one with quite clean insides as he took the mugs and grabbed a kettle, and once again pulled it close, though this time his chest plate opened in a spinning gyro with a molten core emerged "Now this is me being creative." he giggled.
"Not really supposed to use lava magic like a stove but if you got a thing in ya that uses it, you can be a little creative ya know?" he said as he held it high, but soon enough the kettle began to whistle, he did his best to add some salt to each mug before prepping the cups. He didn't think to ask for milk or sugar as he was mostly focused on pouring all the cups.
With some gusto, he moved to serve the crew the coffee, hoping they enjoyed his unique style of coffee prep.
Cerulean sips and coffee, even trying dunking her biscuits into the coffee for some extra flavor.
"Well, at least we know he's still alive in there if thunder is going to keep happening every time he does something. So that's kind of a good thing, right?"
"Really? Huh, thought snakes ate mice," Cloud says, looking at Sir Pent. "Pretty sure cheese is easy to get too." He adds.
"Hmm? Oh- thank you for the fish, and the coffee. And the biscuits, as well." the griffon says, setting his things aside for now.
"Mmm… is he still in the temple, then? I do not see him."
"They do. Which I guess is why Sir Pent thought I'd like one as well."
In your mind's eye, you see the mouse sitting in front of a thimble-bowl of cheese, and an acorn's worth of coffee. The mingling scents of the fresh food fill his small and cozy den as the mouse reads a tiny newspaper.
Droplet thinks for a moment… then shrugs. "Sounds like a job that calls for further research. I hear that Cerulean is actually quite the bookworm. Ask her?">>754273
Itz's leer narrows even further as you resort to untraditional means to heat the water. Seems he's a naturalist when it comes to cooking. Nevertheless, the rest of the crew is quite morbidly intrigued by your unconventional methods, and they line up to get your coffee, perhaps more sold by the strange preparation methods more than anything else.
Soon, you've poured each crewmate a fresh mug of coffee.>>754271>>754272>>754274>>754276
"Hopefully," Juniper says. "When I heard we were going on ahead of him with Two Reeds, I got a little worried, despite everything. He's never been bad to me, Cycle or anyone else on the crew, so even if we joined under different circumstances than I initially thought, I couldn't help but wish him well."
"I heard there were rumors going around last night," Cane says. "After Two Reeds told her crew that she'd be leading them to take the Capital. Something about him seeking answers to something?"
"Not sure what that'd be," Juniper says. "I just hope he'll find what he's after without getting himself killed."
Paraiba approaches from the ship's direction. "Morning! Two Reeds is looking for you guys, whenever you're ready to get going."
Two grabbed a few extra mugs since he had left over grinded beans and went to prep those now as he caught the leer "Oh um… did I do something wrong? I was just doing coffee the way I normally do. The boat I normally ride on doesn't have a stove so usually I have to be it." he said as he did his best to set the mugs on a tray, though he did offer Itz a cup "I dunno if you like milk or sugar in it so you can have it like this if you want." he said trying to give an olive branch of black bean juice.
"Are you calling yourself a snake?">>754278
Cloud finishes off the rest of his cereal, tucking the bottle back into his pocket.
"She ready to go already?" Cloud repeats as Paraiba informs them. "I was thinking of checking out that place out west instead…"
"I can't tell if that was intentional irony or not," Cutlass responds to Droplet's suggestion that Cerulean is a bookworm.>>754278
Cutlass listens to the conversation with interest. She puts her hat on her head, leaving the mouse alone for now.
When Paraiba says that Two Reeds is looking for them, Cutlass nods. "It would probably be wise to use all the sunlight we can. Let's get this show on the road!"
Cutlass laughs. "No, but a snake wouldn't understand that not everything likes what a snake likes."
[1d10] for CoffeeRoll #1 8 = 8
"Oh, right. Still a little tired here." Cloud says.
"So you're calling yourself a mouse then."
"Wh-what?" Cutlass says, doing a double take.
Cerulean gives a troubled hum at hearing all this, knowing the reason for him going there was sort of her fault.
"Yeah, hopefully he does."
"Oh, good morning. And yeah, sure. Lemme just…." She downs her coffee quickly and eats the rest of her biscuits with one, big bite.
"Alright, I'm good," she says and walks over to where Two Reeds is.
"Hmm… he will probably be fine. He seems competent enough to be fine, but… I do not know what to expect in there, really. And, I would be ready to go myself, but we ought to do whatever we need to before then.">>754280
"Right- like, checking out the place to the west."
"Snakes like them, they're small…" Cloud says, droning off and rolling his hoof as he lists.
"I-I'm not THAT small!" Cutlass stomps her hoof, blushing slightly.
Itz sips the coffee, plain and black, then pauses to think…
Though he still leers, he nods. "This is the way," he says.
You have a sneaking suspicion that he just might leer by default, and not mean anything by it.>>754281
"She's got a library card, and she did have a decent amount of books checked out," Droplet says without a hint of irony. "I figured wildlife had to come up in at least one of them, yeah?">>754280>>754281>>754286>>754287>>754283
Paraiba, Cane Shuga and Juniper put out the small morning campfire as they see the crew starting to gather on the other side of the Thunder Serpent.
Droplet gestures for Cloud and Cutlass to follow along, and Cane gets Bee Holder on the conch.
The crowds of the crew gather on the starboard side of the Thunder Serpent,
to find Two Reeds fluttering above the crowd, coffee mug in her hoof.
"Good morning, everyone," she says with a sip. "I hope you're well-rested, because today, begins our war."
"WHAT!?" Cutlass responds to Droplet as if this is the most distressing news she's heard in her life. "Where and when is she checking books!?">>754290>>754286
"How reliable is that control rod? Will it control all of the obsidian creations around us without fail?"
Two tons practically beamed with excitement as he did his best to get another round of cups ready, grabbing a small thing of milk and sugar and heading up with a platter to the main deck to begin offering coffee to those up there, including the crew of the other boat, with Cloud and that little pony whose name escaped him for the moment.
Cloud follows the others as they all gather together by the Thunder Serpent
. When Two Reeds greets them with their mission described as a war, he doesn't look to well.
"Yup! Maybe a bit hungry, but I think I slept enough.">>754447
"I'm…not sure myself. I mean, it worked on the one big cat looking one a while ago here, but I dunno how it'll go once we start stuff. So…just in case, I better hang on to it. Just in case it doesn't work and something attacks, it'll at least try and go after me. I can take whatever they throw at me, no prob," she says, grinning as she tries to assure Cutlass that everything will be fine.
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Our crews got a good night's rest… or, at least, they would have, were it not for the recurring dreams, and the mysterious blast of thunder that broke the night early on.
Unbeknownst to all but Cutlass, Two Reeds and Cerulean, Kukulcan, Captain of the Thunder Serpent,
known to his crew as the Thunder Serpent, but denied by the supposed "true" Thunder Serpent, descended into the Skull Temple. On his first attempt, two days ago, he was nearly killed by Watchkeeper guards in one of the first few rooms, as he sought not to harm them. But, now that he was assured that Cerulean could rebuild the broken Watchkeepers with the divine hammer and tongs, he no longer had to hold back.
In a single step, a single blast of thunder, he cleared the entire first floor.
A second blast echoed out much later in the night.
Five more to go.
When morning rose again, our crews got their bearings, ate their morning meals, and chit-chatted until they were summoned by Two Reeds to the starboard side of the Thunder Serpent
once more, this time, to discuss the war on the Capital.>>754447
"I think it was just after we got to Agyl Island, right?" Droplet asks, then shrugs. "You might need to ask her. After all, I'm not the informant, so I wouldn't know. Heh heh heh.">>754448>>754449>>754447>>754450
When you arrive on the Thunder Serpent's
deck, all members of Kukulcan's crew – the ones you have met so far – are gathered, save for Kukulcan himself. They look at Two Reeds with just as much respect as they regarded Kukulcan.
After all, she too is a god, as Kukulcan said.
Two Reeds nods at Cutlass as she asks her question. "Just the opening I was looking for, Captain. The Key of the High Mechpriest is now in our possession, wielded by our great ally, Cerulean Splash, the Hungry. With it, all Watchkeepers in her range will obey her, without fail. Its radius of effect extends as far as the wielder can see with their naked eye. So long as she can see them, she can issue orders. The orders must be spoken aloud, but the target of those orders need not be within earshot; the Key transmits those orders, so long as they can be seen – again, with the naked eye.
"This will provide us a certain advantage in our taking of the Capital, and this is quite the boon especially because of the peculiar nature of the enemy we fight."
Two Reeds sips her coffee.
"Our foes… are sleepyheads."
The crews murmur with confusion at this rather childish turn of phrase.
"The Metal Men," Two Reeds continues. "Cannot maintain their physical forms while exposed to direct sunlight. If immersed entirely in sunlight, they vanish from this plane of existence, but if the sunlight should fade or be covered, they appear again. If they are exposed to a limited, but still sizable amount of light, they lose their strength until they finally fall paralyzed. Generally, at dawn, they find places to sleep outside the sunlight, while at dusk, they rise.
"As such, we will be spending most of this morning preparing for the real fighting, which is to start at dusk. Only, it would, if not for our preparations. Per Captain Kukulcan's plans, our preparations will be entirely about denying the Metal Men a chance to attack us in the first place – a violent and bloodless takeover of the Capital in a single turn.
Cutlass stares at Droplet and blinks. "Honestly, I haven't suspected any of you assassins because you're all as subtle as bricks. So, a comment as unsubtle as that just makes me suspect you MORE.">>754451
"In what way will we be 'taking it over' at all if not through combat?"
"Bloodless does sound rather nice, if we can manage it. An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure or something similar, yes? What do we need to ready?"
Two Tons hummed a little tune as the cups clattered a bit on his tray.>>754450>>754449>>754447>>754287
He proceeded to offer the others a cup of his custom lava brewed coffee with milk and sugar if they so desired.
"No, thank you. I'm not much of a coffee drinker."
"Fight at dusk? But, wouldn't it be better to fight them now, when they'd be paralyzed?"
Cloud asks as Two Reeds details the plan.>>754454
"Oh, thanks," Cloud says as Two Tons offers him some coffee.
"Woah…that strong? Sounds like I better keep my best eyes out so I can see them."
"Though maybe one thing I should say: while I was down in the temple, there was a Watchkeeper that had a Metal Man kinda…clinging onto it. Like some kind of parasite or something. And as it was fighting me, it was making me numb. Like it attacked my tail, and when I went to smack with it, it was more like I slapped it with seaweed than my tail. Not to mention how it made me forget almost…everything and everyone when I was about to be fishfood." She looks uncomfortable talking about that part.
"I don't know it entirely, but fighting these metal guys really, really mess with you.">>754454
As coffee is offered, she beams a bit.
"Oh, perfect! Thanks!" She says and takes a cup.
Droplet half-smiles. "Oh yeah? I'm flattered that you think I could take on Gullveig, but personally, I don't think I'm half as strong as her… nor did I ever have an interest in fighting her. But if you proved I was the informant, I guess I'd just have to accept your verdict.">>754452>>754453>>754454>>754456>>754457
"Renovations," Two Reeds answers Cutlass and Alder.
To Cloud's question, she continues. "Our scouts have reported that the Metal Men have largely left the exterior of the Capital – its walls, overpasses, bridges, public works, and all other structures large enough to conceal them – mostly intact. It is the Capital's interior and underground where they seem to be stealing the most. After all, they can fight at any time of day if they are hidden within the darkness. They have demonstrated a most crippling lethargy when battled during the day, just as any of you would if attacked while you were asleep."
She pauses to let Cerulean add her testimony of the battle with the possessed Spider Watchkeeper. Many members of Kukulcan's crew shudder at the details. Others nod grimly, and seem to have had their share of that horror.
"Indeed," Two Reeds continues. "He was clear that we are not to count on their daytime lethargy and become overconfident as a result. His plan, if all went well, was to identify where every Metal Man in the Capital rests his head during the day. Our scouts have confirmed our theory that they indeed sleep wherever there is shade. Then, the bulk of our forces will remove – or, if necessary, destroy – the parts of the city which provide them that shade. Not entirely, but just enough to immobilize them. Leave the fighting to the Watchkeepers, and focus as much as you can on immobilizing them before the Metal Men can steal either the Watchkeepers, or yourselves.
"As all that happens, a second team, comprised only of our fastest, strongest and stealthiest members, will race into the center of the Capital, and raid the Heart Temple for its dragon hoard's worth of Godray Crystals. We will charge these Godray Crystals with as much sunlight as the day provides us after their recovery. Then, when night falls, the Godray Crystals will be positioned so that they keep their stored sunlight trained upon the Metal Men, keeping them immobilized even when the Sun Serpent has sunken below the horizon."
She takes a second mug from Two Tons as he passes by. "Thank you. Questions so far?"
The Spine Temple*
Cutlass snorts at the circular logic her own silly statement created.>>754458
"No questions aside from the obvious one: who among us is the fastest, strongest, and stealthiest?"
Cloud thinks over, Cerulean's recap on fighting a Metal Man not giving the best mental image of facing an army of them, even if they're paralyzed.
"No… No I think I'm good."
""Hmm…nope," she pauses to take a big sip of the coffee, "so far I'm actually following along good."
"Hmm… well- how would we go about demolishing everything? I can think of one or two among our number- Cloud Shear and Cerulean, for instance- that could destroy or remove shade easily, but the rest of us… do you have anything to assist with it?"
Two Tons for his part just nodded simply as he let them discuss.
"I think I might know a guy," Droplet says. "Handsome, too."
"I have identified key members of the Thunder Serpent,
and assigned them the mission," Two Reeds says. "If you would volunteer your crewmates, and Bee Holder hers, that would help – to a point. The larger this second team becomes, the greater the risk of discovery, and the more lives on the line during the raid of the Spine Temple. Cerulean will need to be out in the Capital proper to direct as many Watchkeepers as we can possibly gather, so unless she is willing to pass the Key to another, she cannot be on this second team, nor can the second team expect any support from the Watchkeepers, who are on the whole out to kill the Metal Men, not be stealthy.">>754463>>754464>>754462>>754461>>754460
"A natural question," Two Reeds says to Alder. "We hope to avoid as much destruction of the Capital as possible, for several reasons. The first is that it is simply impractical for defeating the Metal Men. Even when slain, they seem capable of rising again, even without demonstrating any healing capabilities. Only paralysis in the sunlight seems sufficient for stopping them with any amount of permanence. Even if they were buried underneath tons of rubble, they could 'steal' their way out, by stealing the rubble once their strength came back. Secondly, the Spine Temple is underground, and with few entrances and exits. We wish to preserve as many escape routes as possible for the team sent inside. Thirdly, as you will understand, Kukulcan and I love the Capital as much as we love the generations and generations of our people who built it. We would not see it destroyed unnecessarily… But, if the worst should happen, and it seem that we were in danger of losing the battle, we are prepared to deliver aerial bombardments as part of a last-ditch evacuation effort."
"I'm certain I have no idea who you are referring to," Cutlass says with a smirk and a roll of her eyes to Droplet.
"I suppose I'll just have to volunteer you instead."
"I was talking about Colobok," Droplet says without a hint of irony.
He then frowns, as if just now realizing that he should be offended.
"Actually I have a question, is there any kind of um… what's the word… oh! Is there any kind of volcanic activity in the capital?"
"So… when is all this planned to start? Like how far away is the Capital?"
"Alright, so minimal destruction- that might be easier, honestly.">>754469>>754465
"When are we to start, yes?"
"I think Colobok has had enough of stealth missions for a while longer after Kaco Island," Cutlass responds to Droplet in a more grim demeanor.
"Well, you said stealthy, and unless its in the water, I'm not exactly the most stealthy. More of a 'dynamic entry' kind of shark."
"Plus, that said, better I just kinda stand and watch and order. Aside from how much I eat, I think I might be known for how well I break stuff."
"Hey, you'd be surprised," Droplet says. "You can't keep a guy like him down. Better not mention it around him if you don't want him getting involved; better yet, tag him in for guard duty, while I go with their ninjas."
"How did you know we employ ninja?" Two Reeds asks.
Droplet blinks. You can see him wondering if he really is the informant. "…Lucky guess?" Droplet asks.
Two Reeds gives him a suspicious look over the rim of her mug.>>754468
"Near the southern end of the island, there was much of it," Two Reeds answers. "But, with the Vault appearing in that region, who knows how much it has changed since then.">>754468>>754472>>754471>>754470>>754469
"On hoof and wing, it is nearly a full day's journey off," Two Reeds says. "You shall have another chance to rest and recover while listening to the scouts' reports and viewing their maps. Our scouts will meet us at their makeshift camp in the hills just north of the Capital. On our journey there today, we will strive to gather as many Watchkeepers as possible so that Cerulean may build up as much of an army as possible before our attack."
"I imagine you won't be starting at dawn," Bee Holder says through Cane's conch.
"Correct, not until the eighth hour will we fight," Two Reeds answers. "The higher the Sun Serpent is in the sky, the more daylight will be spread across the Capital, and the deeper the Metal Men will be in their sleep. Luckily for us, the Capital was constructed along Cuauhtemoc's leylines so as to be at the exact center of the island. With the Sun Serpent passing directly overhead, we will not have to worry about making different calculations for how much sunlight the north, south, east or west sides of the city will receive… pardon the divergence. We should hope to have the Godray Crystals charging by no later than the twelfth hour, so that they may be able to shine all throughout the night, until the next dawn arises."
"Good. My lava might not start too much damage then… hopefully. Or Dubya if we pick him up before we invade."
"I'm sure you're right, but I still feel responsible for what happened to him," Cutlass says, looking down at the ground. "And, I'm still trying to make it up to him."
After a moment of contemplation, Cutlass nods. "Guard duty is a good idea. You can be relieved when it's time for us to split ways. It won't be long between that and my meeting up with them at the docks.">>754474
"Are you some sort of mage?" Cutlass asks curiously.
"So there's a day until this all starts? Well, that's good…"
Cloud comments, though sounding more like he's talking to himself considering options than anything.
"Woah…a whole army? That sounds like a lot to watch over." As she questions that, her mind forms a new question.
"Wait, would that technically make me a Captain," she asks with a playful grin.
"Mmm, it sounds like we will have some time- you wanted to check out that town to the west, right? You would not mind if I tagged along maybe, would you?">>754474
"Lava? Where from?"
"Oh, uh, sure, if you want," Cloud says, surprised by Alder's offer. "Are you sure this isn't too far off the path from helping the others with this raid?"
"Well my friend is one and he gave me some of his." he said as his chest opened to reveal the lava core "Lets me do some of the same lava magic as him."
"And you really shouldn't mention those thoughts around him," Droplet says. "He can't stand that line of transactional thinking, much less than when it's directed at him. Have I mentioned that he's never taken a cent of pay from even a single one of our jobs, both before and after joining the crew? Money might as well be poison for him.">>754477
"You'd have to leave the crew, then," Bee Holder says. "Only one Captain can be on my ship."
"What about like…" Juniper says. "A Vice-Capt–"
"That position does not exist on my ship," Bee Holder says curtly.
Cane winces – but not at Bee Holder. He winced the second that "vice" left Juniper's mouth. Even now, he looks like it still stings, just hearing those words.>>754474
"Just be judicious as to how you will use it," Two Reeds says.>>754474>>754475>>754476>>754477>>754478
"If there are no further questions regarding the agenda," Two Reeds says, "We shall break down camp and make ready to leave. The Thunder Serpent
shall remain at the Dreamer's Lake so as not to attract undue attention. Only once we are ready to begin the attack on the Capital will it move into its emergency evacuation position. Our scouts will fill you in on the details after we arrive."
"What of the Captain?" Juniper asks.
"He shall join us when his business at the Skull Temple concludes," Two Reeds says. "It shall not be long, I imagine."
"How does he survive?" Cutlass asks as if she doesn't believe Droplet.>>754481
Cutlass finds a nice place to watch the proceedings as the riff raff takes down the camp.
"Mmm… I do want to help the others, but I worry a little about anyone going off on their own. If it will not take long, then we will likely return in time to assist, yes?"
"I… really don't know how long I'd be. Though, I could always send you back to the others with my jar, if you still want to come.">>754481
As it looks that the prep is dying down, Cloud walks over to Bee Holder.
"Hey, you're checking that port town, right? I'd like to tag along on that."
"But I like your ship! Its cozy and has great food!" She visibly looks like she's trying to scramble for a reason to not be kicked off Bee Holder's ship.
"What…if…Alpha instead? Would that be okay? Plus its only for this, so its fine, right? Ahh…hahahah."
"I would like to, yes."
"I'd be good to have you along then."
He nodded quickly as he had nothing else left to ask them.
He would ask Cloud about his friend when he was free to do so.
Two Tons lumbered over to Cloud when he seemed like he was free to chat with him
Cloud looks over as Two Ton walks up.
"Hmm? What's up?"
"Figured now would be a good time to bring up my pal."
"I guess this war stuff is giving you second thoughts too, huh?"
"Well yeah, but more I think it would be good if we brought him in."
"That might be a bit difficult…" Cloud looks at Two Tons, thinking for a moment. "How about you come check out that port town with me instead?"
"Oh… I mean maybe…" he whined lightly afterwards.
"Don't worry, you'll enjoy it," Cloud says, patting the robot on the back. ("It'll be better to be away from this crew for it.") Cloud whispers.
"I know… but… I just miss him is all. And I don't want your friends getting hurt when you're helping mine and I could do something to help it ya know?"
"I know what that's like, I'm missing a friend too," Cloud pauses a moment. "I guarantee you'll reunite with W.W today. But, you'll need to keep quiet about it until then. There's, some things I don't want public knowledge around here."
He perked up immediately "My lips are sealed." he said making a zipping motion, then sealing his mouth with an armor plate.
"Wow, you're serious on that," Cloud comments as Two Tons literally seals his mouth.
"Through the magic of friendship. He couch-surfs.">>754483>>754484>>754488
"Not a problem," Bee Holder says via conch. "Get here before noon, or you'll be rowing your way over there. Actually… hold that thought."
You can hear sounds of clutter being rifled through on the other end.
"Scratch that," Bee Holder says. "We'll come to you. Just make sure there's a pot of coffee waiting, or you'll be rowing your way over there after all."
"Brutal…" Juniper mutters, intimidated.>>754485
"We'll discuss the details once you've actually amassed the army," Bee Holder says. "No need to fret about it before then."
His eyes smiled for him.>>754502
He caught the faintest sound of coffee and made a note to go brew up more.
"Uhm, hmm… we can do that, probably!"
"Alright, got any brew requests or do you just want it black?"
Cloud responds, unphased.
"Phew, that's a HUGE relief," she says, giving out a big sigh of relief. She then looks back to Two Reeds.
"So…after we find a bunch of the Watchkeepers and get them to our side…then what do I do? Just give them an order to go nuts and join them?"
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Two Reeds, one of Kukulcan's fellow fallen divines, a goddess stripped of her divine spirit, relayed Kukulcan's plan to capture the Capital to all the crews, with the Beesting
being on speaker-conch, and the Hidden Dagger
waiting to hear the news from Cutlass.
The plan consisted of attacking at the peak of the morning, when all the Metal Men would be fast asleep, hiding their large forms underneath whatever structures could provide them enough shade to hide from the Sun-Serpent's withering light. When the time to attack came, the three crews' forces would largely focus on demolishing just enough of the Capital, at just the right places, to expose the Metal Men to the sunlight, thus paralyzing them. The Watchkeepers, under Cerulean's direction, would take care of any fighting that broke out – but that fighting was to be avoided if at all possible, because of how quickly the Metal Men could dispatch their opponents, as Cerulean experienced firsthand in the Skull Temple.
Meanwhile, a second group, led by the ninja of the Thunder Serpent,
would steal into the Spine Temple, located at the Capital's center. The infiltration team's goal was to retrieve the Godray Crystals contained within the Spine Temple. This would be key in keeping the Metal Men paralyzed throughout the subsequent night, by directing the sunlight the Crystal absorbed to focus upon the inert Metal Men in a continuous 24-hour cycle.
Getting to the ninja camp would take just under a full day on hoof. The journey there would provide ample opportunity for Cerulean to find and recruit more Watchkeepers to their cause.
With all that done, Bee Holder was en route to take Cloud and Alder to explore the western port town, as he still harbored reservations about Kukulcan's true goals down here…>>754503>>754506>>754504
"Cinnamon, and marshmallows," Bee Holder says with absolute sincerity.>>754703
"Deploy them wisely," Two Reeds cautions. "The Metal Men can steal them away just as easily as they can steal us. We'd like to avoid fighting if at all possible; any Watchkeeper deployed could very well become a Watchkeeper stolen over to their side, once a Metal Man takes possession of them."
"Yeah, don't have to remind me of that part. Still get the heebee jeebees. But no worries, I'll try my best to prevent that from happening."
"Guess I can't be too surprised on the sweet tooth with the bee theme and all. I'll go whip that right up."
Cloud says, leaving the conch and looking to Two Tons.>>754503
"Hey, where did you make that coffee earlier?"
Cloud asks, looking for the coffee station.
Cutlass snorts at Droplet's answer.>>754705
As Cutlass watches the proceedings, she pulls out her conch to inform the Hidden Dagger that it's time to sail around to the west port.
"We… can probably get the both of those, yes?" he suggests. "Coffee does not take too long to brew, either. I can go looking for the ingredients while you get the coffee, if it would be for the best."
"Sounds like a plan. Marshmallows would be the toughest one to get I imagine."
Two Tons had leaned back in to listen before charging back off to the kitchen to do the exact same things he did before with the coffee, save adding some cinnamon to his internal grinder, potentially bowling through some mooks as he rushed to go prepare.
He dropped his panel "Follow me and I'll show you!"
Miss Sunshine picks up to receive your instructions.
"Already making ready, Captain," she says. "Bee Holder let us know what's what. If you need to drop off or pick up anything, you just relax right there."
She hangs up on this cryptic note.>>754706
"If you wish, you can pick a unit of perceptive individuals from our ship," Two Reeds says. "I would volunteer, what with my compound eyes, but I already occupy a position in the assault team. But feel free to poach others from our crew, or perhaps from yours, or Cutlass's.">>754710>>754709>>754707>>754706>>754711
"Oh, that reminds me," Two Reeds says. "For clarity's sake, let's use the terms Siege Team, and Infiltration Team, in communications. I believe it is obvious which Team is doing which. Make subdivisions within the Siege Team as necessary. Cerulean, I believe you may find it prudent to declare a Team of your own to assist with the deployments of the Watchkeepers."
After that little aside, Two Tons brews another pot of coffee, while Cloud, with Two Reeds' permission, raids the Thunder Serpent's
kitchen for cinnamon and, of all things, marshmallows. Meanwhile, the mooks of the Thunder Serpent
make ready to move west in search of the ninjas' camp, just beyond the Capital's walls.
In an hour's time, a great wind flows over from the east. A pirate from the Thunder Serpent
calls out a pair of ships off the starboard bow, and lo: Both the Beesting
and the Hidden Dagger
come flying over the eastern mountains, thanks to the Chiccan-class magitech engines Kukulcan's crew installed before your descent.
Both ships touch down into the spacious Dreamer's Moon, and extend gangplanks for you to get on, if you wish. Bee Holder stands at the precipice of the gangplank, keeping a steady eye out for her coffee.
Cloud follows after Two Tons to fix up the coffee. With the cinnamon and marshmallows in tow, with a few extra for his own snacking, he passes them to the robot to take care of the brewing, seeing him go to the kitchen with enthusiasm.
When the Beesting
flies in, Cloud looks up with surprise.
"Wow, thought we'd be walking there…"
When he spots Bee Holder standing and waiting, Cloud pours up a fresh hot cup to deliver it up to her.
"One cup of cinna-mallow coffee, as ordered."
Cutlass walks up the plank to her ship. At the top, she looks around. "They're gathering strong and stealthy individuals for a particular mission. Not exactly my forte. But, Colobok's name did come up," she says as she looks around for him.
Two Tons shivered a bit, regretting having put a marshmallow into his grinders as now they stuck up a bit. He would need to burn it off a bit as he had showed Cloud his unique way of brewing coffee, including the use of a lava core as a heater.
"Dang, that's gonna be a bit to think about." She already begins to hum in thought, thinking of who to take and, more importantly, what her team name should be.
She watches the ships land, but her face still looked deep in thought. Anyone who knows Cerulean long enough would know this expression all too well.
"Hmm…who to ask…?"
"Hrm… marshmallows are going to be a little, ehm… difficult to find. No matter- there has to be some somewhere! Maybe!" he chirps to himself, heading off to look for Itz. When he does eventually find the cook, the griffon offers a little bit of a wave and says "Hello, Mister Itz- you would not happen to have some supplies I could borrow for coffee, would you? My captain wanted a thing or two in hers. Marshmallows may be difficult to find, though…"
"You ok there bud? Coffee doesn't drain you too much, does it?"
Cloud asks as he sees the robot shiver.
"Nah I put a marshmallw in my grinder and it feels all weird. So I'm starting to burn it off inside." he let a few puffs of dark smoke out. They smelt like burnt sugar.
"I am honored for the recommendation, Captain," a voice behind you says. You turn, and see Colobok walking up the plank behind you, as if he were getting on too. He has his guitar with him, doing some warmup noodlings. "Where and and what am I getting up to?">>754714
As Bee Holder sips her mug, she opens her mouth for feedback, but then quickly steps back. A few sudden, quick steps are the only warning you get, before you're hug-tackled, by none other than–
"Morning!" Chiu says as she squeezes you. She presents you with your defense attorney's badge, and pins it to your tunic.>>754716
Bee Holder examines you from over the rim of her mug. "You there. Are you the one I have to credit for this brew?">>754717
The assassins of the Hidden Dagger
might be of aid, but then, they're more likely to opt for the Infiltration Team. Etch, Splendid, Granny and Squatz would be the next most suited for bodyguard detail to keep you safe while you gave your orders. Then there's Juniper and Cycle… Surely the Crimson King would be no pushover in combat.>>754718>>754716
It seems that Tons has beaten you to the punch… nevertheless, Splendid and the rest of your crew would doubtlessly appreciate a fresh pot. Itz sets out fresh beans, cinnamon, marshmallows, turmeric, mint, even salt and caramel.
"Brew it wisely," Itz says with a lean glare. "It is a powerful potion you brew."
"Ah! I will, yes- I brew plenty of things- this cannot be too different, can it?">>754720>>754719
"Oh! How handy. Though, we will avoid putting anything such as a marshmallow in there in the future."
Itz passes you a pestle and mortar, some flint and tinder, and even some equipment for water purification. Seems he's interested to see you do it all by hand.
Cutlass lets out a small "eep" when Colobok suddenly walks up from behind her. "Wh-what!?" she stammers. "Where are YOU coming from?"
Amused, Colobok plays a quick riff, and avoids your question. "My orders, Captain. I live and die by your command."
He nodded as he did his best to set out small amounts of each as he began to break the cinnamon sticks up "Cloud can you cut the marshmallows up small so they'll melt in the coffee?" he asked as he seemed to use very little tumeric but he worked a healthy bit of salt in to cut the bitterness of the coffee and a touch of mint as well.
He proceeded to grab the beans, the spices he had set up and the salt and popped them into his mouth, into the grinders, and letting them all listen to the whirring of the blades blending it all into a nice even consistency grind.
"Oof, yea. Shouldn't let you get all gummed up until we get your friend back to fix you up.">>754721
Cloud waits to see how well Bee Holder approves, until he is caught by surprise by the sudden hug from Chiu. He puts a wing around her, hugging her tight in greeting.
"Morning babe," Cloud says happily. He looks down as she pins the badge onto him, puffing up his chest as he poses like an action hero.
"How do I look?"
Cerulean opens her eyes with an excited look as she seems to have figured out who to ask. Feeling a bit risky for this, she ventures off to find Cycle, or more rather, the Crimson King.
"Alright, well… let me see about this, then." the griffon remarks, setting some of the supplies down on a little plate and getting to work! Shouldn't be too difficult, right?>Coffee! (+1 Temporary Bonus for a +2!) [1d10+2]Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
"Yea, sure, in a sec," Cloud says, waiting until after letting Chiu go to go and chop up some marshmallows to tiny size.
Cutlass gives Colobok a sort of competitive glare. But, she lets it go.
"Some people are going to be sneaking into the center of the capital while the rest are fighting to steal some godray crystals. If you're in, go talk to Two Reeds."
"Now, where is Miss Sunshine?"
"Hrm," Bee Holder says. "I like you. Join my crew!"
"He's already on ours, joined just recently," Two Reeds says with annoyance.
Bee Holder clicks her tongue, but doesn't press the issue.>>754727
"Ready to defend the innocent," Chiu says. "And maybe one or two who were guilty but had a good reason for it.">>754729
You brew a pot of coffee fit for the fallen divines. Alas, Two Reeds must deny a mug.
"If I have much more, I'm going to be gyrating and vibrating all through the journey," she says. "Let your crew enjoy it in my stead."
Doesn't look like you have much choice in the matter. Bee Holder's four first mates have already lined up with mugs at the ready.>>754731
"Most interesting," Colobok says. "I shall send you some pictures if I find anything worth recording."
As he descends the gangplank, word travels through your mooks that you need to see Miss Sunshine. She comes out on deck, trying (and failing) to strike a match on the side of a small box. She's also got a lone cigarette with her.>>754728
You see Cycle sitting near the edge of the camp, looking rather glum as he rolls his ball between his foretalons. It seems that the King is not in control at the moment.>>754726>>754727>>754728>>754729>>754731>when ready to get on with the day's objectives, post that you are ready for a skip. Those headed for the Capital, roll a group navigation roll (taking the average of all the rolls)
Cutlass furrows her brow. "Since when do you smoke?"
"Um… I might after this mission if I'm allowed… or maybe I'll join the little captain. I unno. Lifes fun like that."
He was mildly jealous of Alder but he wouldn't show it. It would be impolite.
"With you at my side I could defend anypony," Cloud boasts. "How was the flight over? Forgot these ships could float around now."
Cerulean notices how glum he is and can already tell that it sure isn't Crimson.
"Hey Cycle," she greets with a grin, "so…how are you holding up?"
Alder happily pours a cup for each of the first mates, before finding a place to sit with Splendid, and enjoy some coffee with her!
"Never, if you couldn't tell," Miss Sunshine grumbles as she fails to light the match once more. "Hrmph… I was talking with Mallea, and she seemed positive it would improve my image as a pirate!">>754735
"Surprisingly smooth," Chiu says. "With Bee Holder at the helm, even her first time as a pilot wasn't too rocky. She managed to get her handle on the turbulence towards the end.">>754736
"Not really sure how to deal with all this," Cycle gripes, scratching his head. "Haven't really spoken with Juniper much lately, either. At the very least, I don't think either demon's seen or done anything with our bodies that we wouldn't want… widely-known, if that makes any sense. Eh, sorry, too much information? I don't know, I'm all a mess lately. Anyway, what's up? We getting ready to move or something?">>754734
"That's the spirit, live with freedom in every moment," Bee Holder says with a nod.>>754737
The first mates nod their thanks, before going off to the lakeside to sit and catch some fish. Meanwhile, you and Splendid, by her suggestion, fly up to the crow's nest, and cozy up there. Splendid is so large that she nearly fills the whole nest, just as a cat fills a small jar, forcing you to sit in her lap.
"Just got done hearin' Bee Holder relay the game plan," Splendid says. "So, whichun we going for? I'm not much for stealth but I figure you could pinch a Godray Crystal without much trouble with all your thievin' stuff."
Cutlass laughs. "Well, making it look like you're trying will never make you look tough. Also, it's bad for you. Don't do that."
"Anyway, I got your 'subtle' hint loud and clear earlier. Once you've docked on the western port, you can lead the troops in the fight to the capital. You'll get your adventure off the ship."
"Sounds pretty good, though anything's better than our entrance here," Cloud says, walking with Chiu to grab a seat while they wait to depart to the western town. He pulls out the extra marshmallows from his pocket, offering Chiu one. "Snagged a few extra when I was helping with the coffee.">Good for timeskip
Two tons nodded simply and beamed a grin back.
>Good to skip
Alder seems more than happy with the idea of settling into Splendid's lap, giving the larger griffon a peck on the beak before humming. "I will be checking something out with Cloud- I would like to make sure he is safe, for now- and after that… stealth might be for the best, yes! I suppose I am rather good at stealing." the griffon says, giggling to himself.>Good to skip!
"Nah, no worries, its fine. I mean, I kinda get how it feels to have something demonic going on. Though I think I'm kinda my own demon?" She thinks, then remembers why she came.
"Oh, right, so yeah, we are getting ready, but I was curious if you wanted to stick with me and play bodyguard a bit while I get the Metal Men together and boss them around. I could even ask Juniper so you two can talk things out and junk, if you want, since I kinda don't need that
much bodyguarding, let's be honest…I don't think."
"Huh?" Cycle asks. "Well… it's not like I'm opposed. But are you really alright with a couple of demons guarding you in the middle of a warzone? Er, more like a construction site, but the point still stands."
"C'mon, mom, let me have just one, just so I know whether or not I like it!"
That "mom" of hers… while normally said dripping with sarcasm, you heard not a hint of it in her voice just now. Perhaps…?
Chiu whinnys, and eats the marshmallows straight from your hoof, very nearly nipping you once the last one is gone.
Perhaps being offered small cubic sugary treats activates some vestigial horse behavior in ponies. Then again, with how tall her father is, she just might be part horse herself.
Cloud snickers as Chiu snaps up the marshmallows.
"That barrel of cereal didn't slow you down at all, huh?"
He jokes, spreading a wing to give Chiu a little head scratch with the wing tip.
She whinnies and nickers again, then nudges her head against your wing once she's satisfied that there's no more treats to be had.
"I'm limiting my sugar and caffeine intake, but little marshmallows like that are my only indulgence," she says. "So, you'd better make sure that I don't go overboard, alright!?"
Cloud puts his wing around Chiu as she nudges it.
"Of course. We'll go into the fruit diet for you, and I can eat up all the sweet and sugary snacks to take away the temptation from you."
She squeaks like a bat.
"Already getting in the mindset," Cloud jokes.
"If I wasn't, I wouldn't be asking, ya know," she says with a big, happy grin.
"Besides, I'm sure the big guy in you wouldn't mind being around something he couldn't buy." She gives a wink, more as a fun tease to Crimson King than to Cycle Kick.
From about your neck, you hear Monty snickering.
"Sss sss sss sss… Captain, what do you call it when a ssssnake pullsssss a card trick on you…?"
Cycle winces. "Big guy in… please, don't ever refer to this whole deal like that again," he pleads.
He then flicks his ball onto his forearm, then rolls it back onto his shoulders, where he idles it back and forth for a bit. "If you're not weirded out by the possession, then I'm down. Just let me know when we're rollin' out. In the meantime, I'll talk to Juniper for a bit, see how she's doing."
"Huh? Well, alright then," she says with a shrug, not too sure what was wrong with that.
"Anyways, I'm not heading out right away, so you've got plenty of time. Speaking of, let me go take care of that now while you get set, alright?" She gives a smile and nod, then heads to look around for Granny.
You find Granny sitting on the rear ledge of the stern, kicking her hind hooves idly as she puffs at a pipe. "Cerulean! Feels like it's been ages since we met, girl. How ya been, come and sit. Just wiped it all down, nice and clean, yeah."
"Impossible," Cutlass responds, nonplussed. "Snakes don't have hands."
"A three-card Monty!" he ssssaysss.
"Hi Granny!" She takes a seat next to Granny.
"Oooo, yeah, this is very clean. And I've been alright. Very busy with a lot of things, and it's only gonna get busier soon, I think." She continues to chat idly with Granny, taking a moment to relax a little bit before having to get back to business.
"So, I have a bit of a question. I know its gonna sound odd coming from me, but would you want to keep an eye on me? Kinda like a bodyguard thing? Seems like my bit in this upcoming thing is keeping an eye on these Watchkeepers and bossing them around, so making sure nothing sneaks up on me would be really nice."
Cutlass snorts. "I'm glad you like the name I gave you."
"Aye," Granny says. "If Ah'm cooped up here any longer Ah'm liable tae start cleanin' the pirates themselves, and then some of them will start tae get the wrong idear about me. Ah'll limit meself to just spritzin' ye down if ye start to dry out. Ach, Ah'll be gettin' tae fight, too, Ah hope!">>754885
"Yessss… it sssuitss me…" Monty ssaysss.
Meanwhile, Miss Sunshine awaits your response. >>754746
Last time, on PirateQuest…
After reviewing the battle-plans again, our crews split into two groups.
Cerulean and Cutlass proceeded with Two Reeds's forces to the south, on a march to the Capital of Cuauhtemoc. In the process, they hoped to recruit as many battleworthy Watchkeepers as possible to assist in their siege – a "violent and bloodless" one, if Two Reeds's and Kukulcan's plans managed to hold true. They would have to proceed on hoof to the Capital, however, lest the great sounds of the Thunder Serpent
flying through the air alert the Metal Men holding the Capital to their approach.
Cloud, Alder and Two Tons proceeded with the crews of the Beesting
and Hidden Dagger
westward, in order to investigate a port town in search of anything worth taking, or anything dangerous that might disrupt greater plan to liberate Cuauhtemoc from the rapacious Vault.
About half of the Thunder Serpent's
crew, thirty or so in all, gather at the western end of the camp, keeping an eye on Two Reeds and Sir Diamantaire, who float above them to lead the pack. Each one of them, including yourselves, has been issued a pack full of rudimentary foodstuffs, as well as bandages and gauze, just lightweight enough supplies to not weigh you down overmuch as you walk.
"Come, we make for freedom," Two Reeds says. In her claws, she holds a mirror of sheer obsidian, that glimmers with an unvarnished sheen. She floats onward, consulting the mirror now and then.
>make a navigation roll, add bonuses from perception
>Cloud, Alder, Two Tons
Aboard the Beesting,
the lookout shouts of a town coming up ahead. Between the treetops, which once stretched for the sky but now reach for the volcanic clouds separating Cuahtemoc from the underground ocean, you can see the flat adobe roofs of a town, so similar in architecture to that of Manenhi, Gecko and Xallan, upon Agyl Island.
>Make perception rolls as desired
"Hmm… interesting architecture, would you not agree? I imagine we will find more of what we found earlier, though."Roll #1 10 = 10
Cerulean gives a bit of a exhale as she tries to get the pre-operation jitters out of her.
"Alrighty, let's get this show on the road then," she says, walking with the staff out and keeping up.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Two Tons silently sat near the front of the ship just watching things, eyes whirring softly as he looked at the upcoming city.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
As the ships fly over the town's high roofs, you can see at first glance that, as Two Reeds said, the western port was clearly more prosperous than the east. This, it seems, to be in part due to more favorable land routes leading in and out of the town, broader, and upon flat and stable earth, unlike to the east. In fact, even now the markets are filled with no small number of… no small number of merchants and traders… and much like it, the port itself is filled with a school of fishers' boats. It is so busy that the Beesting
and Hidden Dagger
(helmed by Miss Sunshine) are forced to touch down in far-out waters, lest they overturn the fishers' boats from the waves begat by their impact.
Alder and Two Tons can see plainly that the townsfolk show little to no reaction to the appearance of two flying pirate ships, flying full colors, to the west. You can't see much else of note from this distance.>>754965
Perhaps it is the security of your Key of the High Mechpriest, or the large number of mariners going with you, but the going is surprisingly peaceful. In spite of high mountains looming ahead to the south, and hills building upon the east and west, your journey is also on the smooth side, as you take an overgrown, but even and well-worn path through the hills, once frequented by travelers to the Capital, most likely. You can see the Sundial Plaza high to the southeast; your hike will take you along the western face of the hill upon which it stands.
Your pets stick close, but seem somewhat relaxed, even Torpedo.
Droplet and Colobok stick between you and Cutlass, with Colobok playing a calm guitar tune. Juniper and Cycle can be seen walking together some distance to the side.
"Ya know I had no idea there were actually other people down here. I just assumed that the place was abandoned save for monsters."
Cloud peers over the side of the ship as they fly off towards the western city, seeing the size of it look far bigger than the previous town they were docked at.
"So do you have any idea of what could be down there?"
Cloud asks Bee Holder.
"Hmm- perhaps the island has been taken in pieces? Or, perhaps there is something here that has safeguarded this part of the island, instead…"
Cerulean gets more relaxed seeing as the walk has been pretty peaceful. She decides to enjoy the hike while she can, looking around at all the nature and sights now that there isn't anything trying to threaten them.
Kling-Klang looks over.
"We all made that assumption, because this is a dead island, sunk to the bottom of the ocean… well, the bottom of an underground ocean. The fact that this place even has breathable air is a mystery, let alone what appears to be a thriving economy."
"And," Sickly Sweet adds. "The eastern port is the very picture of a ghost town, not a living soul in sight. Even the bugs and the beasts see fit to avoid it. This entire place is some unknown aberration.">>754969>>754968>>754970
"Not much point in speculating," Bee Holder says, stepping down from the helm. "Drop the anchor and load up the boats. The port looks far too busy for us to dock. Nor do we need much in supplies or repairs; it's not worth the docking fees."
"Cheap as ever, eh, Captain?" Bent Scales scoffs as she goes to deploy the lifeboats and The Esper.
"Right, I should start pinching pennies from your stipend," Bee Holder retorts. "Now, let's investigate…">>754971
"What do you think those ninja are like?" Droplet asks Colobok eventually.
"Oh, jeez louise," Cycle says.
"Something wrong, your majesty?" Droplet asks.
"That Vice-Captain Two Reeds refuses to get with the times," Cycle says. "I'm just telling you this for your own good, you'll get along better if you don't call them ninja. They're ninjadors.
And they don't like being called the contrary."
"The Vice-Captain just doesn't see the need to complicate things with newfangled terminology," Juniper says."
"And where does this -dor come from…?" Colobok asks.
"I'll bet you can guess."
"Maybe they just like sunsets to sunrises?" he joked softly as he looked around for a boat to ride into the city with the others.
[1d10] Perception if neededRoll #1 6 = 6
"Right. Let's hope docking fees are the worst we have to worry about there."
Cloud comments, hopping in the boat to depart.
Cerulean can't help but giggle from the conversation she's hearing.
"Well why do they need a name if they're supposed to be hidden? I mean, if they did a good job of hiding, nobody would know they're there, so wouldn't need a name, right?"
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Ah, docking fees- I had almost forgotten, ehehe…" the griffon trails off, slipping on his enchanted bracelets before getting on to the Lifeboat with the others.
"You would think that," Cycle says. "But that just reveals that you're not a ninja– I mean, a ninjador."
He looks around, as if paranoid that one of the ninjador
may have heard him.
"Far be it from us to critique how fellow assassins operate," Colobok says. "But I do trust that they are up to their mission?"
"Yeah, they can be sneaky when they want to be. I don't think Hollow will let his performer's mentality get the best of him."
"A performer, huh…?" Droplet asks. "Heheh, I might just have to abandon Cutlass and tag along after all."
As this discussion continues, you espy a glimpse of an obsidian frame, or two, moving through the jungle ahead… already the crew before you has halted, and you can feel the subtle shudders through the earth – the steps of beasts – that assuredly gave pause to their advance.>>754976>>754974>>754973
The lifeboats depart from the Beesting
and Hidden Dagger,
leaving small crews behind to guard the ship in the absence of the others.
As you find some spots at the docks to arrive, you can tell that something is quite off. It's not that you're nearly cut off each time you try to dock – that's all well and normal for a busy and bustling port town. It's not even that, once you get off the boats, the passerby are hurried and heedless of your presence, forcing you to step aside, lest you be run over – that too, normal enough.
Two Tons is the first to realize it. What do any of these people look like?
"I-… hmm. Maybe it was not immune from it. Perhaps it is in the process of being taken? It feels as if they are only half here- the 'idea' of a person, but not an actual person?"
He blinked and narrowed his eyes as he tried to see if they even had a species or discernible details.
"These guys seem kinda… featureless."Roll #1 10 = 10
Cloud isn't too bothered by the rush and cutting off, in fact he looks a bit more at ease than before.
"It's like I'm back in the city," He says with a bit of fondness, working his way through the crowd deeper into the port town.
By cycling through different settings of optical focus, Two Tons catches brief glimpses of the vague shapes that populate the western town. It's a bit like the experience of seeing someone just out of the corner of your eye, except now, that entire vague, amorphous form, occupies the front of your vision. Two Tons can, at least, see that they are, regardless of various other features of limb or skin that would suggest a racial or ethnic heritage, the people seem to be quite tall. The architecture also corroborates this observation; roads are broad and long, and doorways high.
The town itself seems to be in good order, and though you understand not a word of it, there is quite a bit of conversation going on through the town.
"Well, they've shown none of the usual reactions to the appearance of pirates in town," Sickly says. "They must be used to seeing jolly rogers flying in the port. We must be in good company. Shall we disperse and explore?"
"A keen idea," Bee Holder says. "We'll meet here should trouble or interesting happenings arise."
Chiu, Miss Sunshine, and Splendid get off of another lifeboat to join you all.
"YOu think maybe they're ghosts? Because like… it's hard to explain how they never seem to be in focus. Well at least to you guys. Also they are super tall which doesn't necessarily mean they're ghosts… but you never see short ghosts… I think."
"Nah, they can't be ghosts, otherwise we'd pass through them. Maybe they just have a shroud over themselves. Or, maybe they're stuck in a loop…">>754981
When Chiu comes ashore, Cloud gets to her side quick after his last thought.
"Stick close, let's not get split up," He says protectively. "Let's go see if they have a store here or something. That usually tells a lot about a place."
"Stuck in a loop could make sense, yes. Or, again, perhaps it is… partially taken? Not entirely, just a piece of them." he suggests, helping Splendid off of the lightboat before going to join the others.
"Partially taken? So these could just be leftover shadows then…"Roll #1 10 = 10
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
While other groups from the Hidden Dagger
split off to gather information about the town in their own way, your group, consisting of yourselves, Splendid, Chiu and Miss Sunshine, decide to press into the market as best you can.
It is as you press onward, in search of a store not too crowded to accommodate your group, that Cloud and Tons to notice something. It's not quite that the crowds are rude and uncaring in how they brush past or nearly bowl you over. It's that the vague shapes, despite passing around one another with enough flow, seem completely heedless of you, as if, just as you can only barely see them, they cannot see you at all. Splendid in particular seems to be getting it bad, owing to her size.
This pattern holds true when, at Miss Sunshine's suggestion, you stop by a dedicated portion of the market for food and drink. Just as in a bazaar upon the surface, rows of stands and basket-filled tables occupy the majority of the space.
Remarkably, despite everything, it seems that the food here is fresh and edible. Periodically, some of the food vanishes as the vague figures buy and sell the wares, but there's still quite the surplus of fruits and meats, the likes of which you've not seen, for you to try to take.
"This kinda feels like a trap…"
"I'm not so sure…" Chiu says. "It was like this in the other town we explored, too, only there, there was nobody around. All their food and drink was just sitting there, fresh and warm as the day it had been cooked, as if everyone just up and skipped town right as dinner was being served."
"This is like the other town, all the food and stuff is still intact. Though, it seems it's still being used here at least.">>754988>>754987
"Well, there's only one way to know for sure, and to see what these things are," Cloud says, reaching up to take of over the strange foreign fruits.
"Fair but… I still don't think we should touch anything we don't need to. Something about this all is just… screaming "Bad Idea."
"People are… almost here. I imagine if we would like anything, it would be best to pay for it- even if they are not… full? complete? I imagine we will get some sort of reaction from theft.">>754990
Alder swats Cloud's hoof away, before saying "A-Are you sure that is really a good idea? We could try, you know… paying for it? Or, at least leaving theft to one more capable at it."
"I wasn't planning on stealing anything, just to see if they react to it. They might be ignoring us but they might not ignore their own stock."
"I still think touching nothing is a good idea."
"Well, just… have some money ready, perhaps. Just in case?"
Chiu consults one of her many maternity books to see if she can identify any of the fruits on sale. Inspired by Cerulean's newfound literary bent, Chiu had went and got herself a library card just before you departed from Agyl Island weeks ago. With that card, she acquired a stack of maternity books, mostly focusing on what is and isn't safe to eat.>>754992>>754991>>754990
Just as Alder stops Cloud from taking the fruit, two of the shapes, one behind the stand – likely, the owner, or his or her assistant – and one before the stand – likely, a would-be customer – had been in the midst of negotiations over some basket of fruits. Then, they turn and glance in your general direction, stopping the momentum of their previous actions. They gawk, not quite at you, but just at your overall space, for a moment or two.
Then, in the absolute next moment, they revert in an instant, snapping back even, to their previous actions, to the momentum of their previous actions. The pantomimed negotiations immediately resume, with no transition of them looking at you to them bickering among themselves.
Splendid rubs at her eyes and squints at what she thinks she might have just seen. "Say, how abrupt that was…" she says.
"Almost kinda like machines," Miss Sunshine thinks aloud.
"Recognize any of them?" Clouds asks Chiu, peering over at her book.
When the shapes stop and peer at them, Cloud pauses as well like a kid caught stealing a cookie.
"… So, they can notice us, I think."
Cloud then reaches into his pocket, takes out 10 bits, and places them on the counter.
"Like those metal guys they were talking about being at the temple or whatever?"
"M… not quite, I do not think. This feels different, somehow.">>754996
"It was oddly sudden, yes- so, they can deviate from this… whatever it is. Or, at least, recognize things outside of it. Perhaps we ought to test it in different ways, yes?"
She leafs back and forth through many sections of the book, only to grumble with frustration and shut it. "Nope. Looks like I'll be sticking to the ship's rations for now.">>754998>>754999>>754997
As Cloud actually puts some money up, the shopkeeper, this time, gradually turns. This time, rather than an immediate snap to the new stimulus, the shopkeeper's movements are as far as you can tell, somewhat fluid and natural. They take, and even appear to inspect the coins, then look again in your general direction, but the feeling in the air is still one of puzzlement. The one standing near you, the other customer, takes a step away, and appears to be looking about, as if significantly more confused than the shopkeeper, and not quite sure how to deal with the situation.
The shopkeeper, after some time that you can only surmise as deliberation, gestures to the wares while weighing the coins in one hand, or hoof, or whatever they might have.
"Ghosts, you said," Splendid says to Two Tons. "Perhaps you may have been closer than we thought, only, we might be the specters, as near as they can tell."
"Oh wait did we die? Does this mean I have a soul after all?"
"Hmm… I do not think we are dead. Maybe we and they are… in the same place, but not? I do not know."
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Upon arriving in the western port town, the crews of the Beesting
and Hidden Dagger
found themselves in the most lively ghost-town outside of Semetyer Island. Only, whatever populated this town was more husk than ghost. More like fading memories than anything else. These fading figures milled about the town, as if nothing were amiss about being upon an island torn apart by thieving eldritch beings, sunken in an underground ocean. They took no notice of our crews, until the crews interacted with them. Even then, the faded acted as if the crews were the ghosts, as they looked around, seemingly unable to see them but still perceptive of their general influence upon their ghostly business.
As for Cutlass and Cerulean, they journeyed south in search of the camp of the ninja, or the ninjador,
as they apparently were actually called by everyone besides the old-fashioned Two Reeds. One of them was apparently named Hollow, who was quite the performer… but before they could discuss this character more, they came upon the movements of quite large beasts, in the midst of their trails.
>Cerulean and Cutlass
"You would think that," Cycle says. "But that just reveals that you're not a ninja– I mean, a ninjador."
He looks around, as if paranoid that one of the ninjador may have heard him.
"Far be it from us to critique how fellow assassins operate," Colobok says. "But I do trust that they are up to their mission?"
"Yeah, they can be sneaky when they want to be. I don't think Hollow will let his performer's mentality get the best of him."
"A performer, huh…?" Droplet asks. "Heheh, I might just have to abandon Cutlass and tag along after all."
As this discussion continues, you espy a glimpse of an obsidian frame, or two, moving through the jungle ahead… already the crew before you has halted, and you can feel the subtle shudders through the earth – the steps of beasts – that assuredly gave pause to their advance.
>Cloud, Alder, Two Tons respond to >>755000
"I'm sorry our adventure through a dangerous jungle on an island miles below the ocean's surface isn't entertaining enough for you!" Cutlass says sarcastically to Droplet.
When everyone else stops in response to the sight of the Obsidian soldiers, Cutlass turns to look at them. "Should we even be concerned? Cerulean has the staff, right?"
"Yup, I sure do!" She says and holds the staff at the ready.
"Hmm, but just in case, maaaybe still be on the safe side, okay?" Cerulean steps a bit closer to where she sees the obsidian frames.
"Well, they definitely can not see us. We can get their attention at least, right? We could try doing more things like that."" he says, shrugging a little to himself.
The Thunder Serpent
crew part ways and step back, to allow Cerulean and Cutlass to pass. Two Reeds is the only one who advances with them, while Droplet, Colobok and the others of your own crews follow at a short distance, ready to jump to your aid if necessary.
Through the gaps in the jungle bushes and palms, you can see that the obsidian beasts are not as large as may have once been apparent. Though larger than even Sir Diamantaire, Splendid or Cerulean, they aren't overlarge. However, they move with a speed and intensity bound to create the shockwaves and shudders they'd been making until your arrival.
One of the Watchkeepers, a shelled quadruped covered with protective spines, faces off against another, a stout and rotund biped, shaped something like an upright turtle. Both of them look quite damaged, yet still they clash, charging and leaping at one another, tirelessly exchanging strikes and bashes… despite both being mechanical protectors of this island.>>755291>>755001
"I doubt we'll have any luck just talking to them," Miss Sunshine says. "Language barriers and all."
"Since we're foreigners, why not play it up?" Splendid asks. "Surely traders would be no strangers to haggling and dealing despite challenges of communication."
"I'll bet this will get their notice," Chiu says. She reaches out, and takes three fruits.
The faded fruitseller suddenly becomes more animated, gesturing wildly in a way that cannot be mistaken. Chiu's obviously asking for more fruit than she can buy on that budget.
"Watch this," Chiu whispers, before turning back to the fruitseller. Without hesitation, she launches into a tirade of her own, leaping between what sounds like three different languages to haggle.
[1d10-2] Bartering with a ghostRoll #1 6 - 2 = 4
" I feel like I should be offended for these not ghosts."
"So, how hard is it to take control of one of these things?" Cutlass asks in a low tone.
"Uhh…they said for me to just look at them, so…." She looks directly at the two clashing beasts of obsidian.
"Hey, you guys! Mind sitting down for a moment?"
"Wait… does that mean it only works while you're looking at them…?" Cutlass asks with growing concern.
Cloud looks up as the shopkeepr moves more naturally this time. When they observe the coins and thn gestures to the wares, Cloud nods.
"Alright, so they're normal, mostly ,from what it seems."
He comments, seeing that they aren't totally ignored. And with that, then starts to grab exotic fruit to match what he paid.
After their latest head-on charge, in which the quadruped narrowly fails to skewer the biped upon the largest of its horns, the ones upon its forehead, the two Watchkeepers snap toward you, and at once, the problem is apparent.
Both of them are missing bits of themselves, fragments of their bodies where their obsidian hides should be. However, they've been generously replaced – but by a hardened version of the dark slime that oozes from every Metal Man. Cerulean recognizes this slime from when she faced the Giant Enemy Spider in the Skull Temple. However, it's not as bad here… they don't appear to be covered with as much slime as the Spider. Still, they are under enemy influence.
Without hesitation, they leap toward Cerulean, aiming to strike her down.
Two Reeds readies her mirror…
[1d10+4]Roll #1 2, 5 + 3 = 10
/ Roll #2 9 + 4 = 13
Cloud watches Chiu run through an intense bartering tirade, going through what can only be a well trained routine.
"10 bits doesn't even cover three fruits? Come on bud, I got a family to feed here!"
Cloud adds in, helping the haggle with the sympathy angle.>Barter [1d10-2]Roll #1 9 - 2 = 7
"Oh jeez, watch out, they got the slime on them," she yells to them and runs up to one of them, trying to place her tail Slam in the perfect spot to try and have her aura water disperse on it and maybe clean some of the slime a bit.
>Slam, DC-1, +1, take better result, crits 8+
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
The haggle-off between the fruitseller and the peculiar couple that is Cloud and Chiu at last reaches a conclusion, when the fruitseller, in a dramatic flourish, scoffs, perhaps to recover his wounded pride, and gestures for Chiu to take the three fruits.
Chiu simply smiles and passes the three to Cloud. "My diet aside, I think you've earned these. He didn't seem to understand me, but a father's passion is a universal language."
"So they can understand us to an extent…" Miss Sunshine says. "Maybe there's a local leader around. A Haku, or a mayor, or someone else of influence we can try to talk to. They could have an idea of what's going on, right?"
Two Tons decided to see where the biggest building was. In his experience that was generally where the important people lived.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
"W-what!?" Cutlass stammers as she takes a step back. She looks at the mechanical giants as they engage Cerulean and spots the slime in question. She tries to remove it with telekinesis.
[1d10] telekinesisRoll #1 5 = 5
"Ah! Very well done, Cloud. So, we can communicate with them at least. I wonder if they can see us a little better now as a result… eh, hard to say. Looking for a leader sounds like a solid idea, though.">Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
All around you, a high wall of glass appears, weaving between trees and over roots and rocks. Though translucent, it retains a mirror sheen. The wall surrounds you, Two Reeds, and the two Watchkeepers in a 50 foot radius. Droplet and Colobok frown and eye Two Reeds as they find themselves on the other side of the wall.
"Take them with as little damage as possible," Two Reeds says simply, as she floats aside the battle.
Cutlass stumbles back, as the Watchkeepers move faster than she can grab. Narrowly she evades the Quadruped as it stomps into the earth before her. Cerulean leaps in and slams it back, smashing it into the Biped. The Biped shoves the Quadruped aside, and bites down onto Cerulean, pinching down with a vicious chomp, accented by its horrible teeth.
>Cerulean loses 4 Hits and 1 Wound
The Biped slams Cerulean against the ground repeatedly.
While the Quadruped tries to hook Cutlass with its horns.
Two Reeds, meanwhile, shines the mirror upon the Quadruped.
[1d10+4]Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #3 10 + 4 = 14
"I don't know, you had some intense passion there yourself," Cloud says, putting two fruits away and taking a bite of the third to test out the foreign treat.>>755304
"Guess emotion and gesturing works out well enough to get through whatever barrier they got here."
Cerulean gives a slight yelp in surprise and pain, then tries to bite it back.
>Great weapon attack, crits 9+, critfails 2-
[1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Cloud finds the fruit rather tasteless upon biting into it… but as his mind wonders as to the possibilities of what it might be, it takes upon a rather sweet taste, just the thing for a batpony.
Upon looking around for the head honcho of the city, you see some of the Beesting's
mooks walking towards a rather large fixture upon a hillside to the southwest, bordering upon the inland jungle. It's a large complex, a bit like a forum. Aside from the marketplace, it's rather a populous station.
Taking a southerly road, you at last pass through the forum's open gates, and arrive in the central chamber. It is built around a series of statues placed not on pedestals, but low piles of cushions. Only, like the figures who fill the forum, the statues too are formless and void, almost anything…
Except one… though it is built in the image of a beggar. Most of the statue's marble is shaped like a heavy ragged blanket that covers the statue's body and head, obscuring its race and features.
Much like a small child seeing something neat, the robot immediately moved to touch the statue thinking it was someone real, such was the detail to his eyes.
"What do you THINK I'm doing!?" Cutlass asks in a sort of panicked annoyance as she continues to back up and attempt to remove the slime with her telekinesis.
[1d10] telekinesisRoll #1 8 = 8
"Well, this certainly seems like something close to the right place. What bizarre statues." the griffon remarks, trying to take a look around for anything else nearby of note.>>755306
"Well? What does it taste like?"
"Mmm, this stuff is pretty good. Sure you don't want to try it Chiu?" Cloud offers, taking another bite of the sweet fruit.
As they search for the head of the town, Cloud looks about as they find more non-descript beings and even statues.
"It's like any sign of who lived here is being eroded away…" He comments with concern, until they find one that still does some sort of detail. "Huh, wonder if this one was recent." He says ,walking up for a closer look.
"It's really sweet, like the best fruit I can think of," Cloud says, taking out a knife to cut off a slice. "Here, try a piece."
The Biped manages to crush Cerulean against the ground again and again, before at last she champs down upon its slime, breaking away a great chunk of it. The Biped snarls, and tosses Cerulean through the air, and as she falls she sees that another large chunk takes up a portion of its back.
Cerulean hits the ground, her wounds comforted by the presence of the conjured water.
>Cerulean loses 6 Hits and 1 Wound
As the Quadruped charges, Two Reeds slides in front of Cutlass, holding up her mirror – and the Quadruped stops, mid-charge, its legs splayed as it hovers in mid-air. It's a curious sight, as if it were held by some invisible force that concentrated around its horns…
Protected by Two Reeds, Cutlass then strips the Quadruped of its slime, some of which had already been washed off by Cerulean's conjured water. Two Reeds shoves the mirror forward, and the Quadruped, tossed by that invisible force, rolls over onto its back, where it struggles, feebly, to rise.
Meanwhile, the Biped tosses itself forward, riding the water as it tires to body-slam Cerulean!
[1d10+3]Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6
Alder hums a little bit, and tries a slice!
As the pibed tries to slam its body on her, she gets her tail tense and ready to go, swinging it when it gets nice and close.
>Slam, +2 from favored terrain
[1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #2 7 + 2 = 9
"Not until I can be sure it's healthy for me and our foal," Chiu says stubbornly.>>755315>>755313
Whereas for Cloud, the fruit took a while to gain its taste, for Alder, it tastes quite good almost immediately. However, whereas Cloud tasted a nostalgically sweet fruit, almost like a peach from the ranch back home, Alder immediately tastes cherry.>>755309>>755312>>755311https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZh-Vh81Osw
At Two Tons' touch, the statue of the beggar raises its head. As the marble-hooded head arises, you can see that the face is smooth, blank, without any feature that might suggest a race. It was obviously not meant to be seen from such an angle.
The others step back in surprise, but the statue, for the moment, seems peaceable.
The statue's head moves, as if it were saying something, but you hear no voice, just as it was with the fruitseller.
"Ah… hrm," Splendid gawks. "Of all the things to expect, that wasn't one of them, now, was it? D-do any of you have more experience with talking statues?"
The others shake their heads.
Two tons paused and if he had fingers he would snap them as he produced a small note book and a pen and offered it to the statue after quickly jotting down a "Hello Mr. Statue."
"It may not look like a cherry, but it tastes like one. How bizarre… It is rather nice, though.>>755318>>755317
"Ah! Good thinking- perhaps it can understand written language. If not this, perhaps gestures?"
"Well nothing's happened to me yet. We can have it tested when we get back to the ship," Cloud says to Chiu as she denies the fruit again.
When the statue sudden rises up, Cloud steps back in surprise.
"Whoa. Uh… Are you in charge here?"
Cloud asks, gesturing over the forum to try and get through to the statue.
Satisfied with the conclusion of the one bot, Cutlass turns her attention to where Cerulean is getting her ass kicked.
"You alright, there?" she asks, half-sarcastically.
[1d10] to telekinesis slime offRoll #1 9 = 9
At those words, "in charge, here," the statue sits back. Then, at Two Tons' offering of the notebook and quill pen, the statue gestures to the basin before it. A heap of offerings of many stripes lie there, though, like the people of the forum, and the people of the town more generally, the appearance is quite hazy, and ambiguous. However, the presence of the notebook and quill pen atop the heap – a stark contrast of objects, visible and clear, against the other hazy offerings – seems to make the rest of the offerings become more clear… like adjusting the magnification on one's spyglass.Just keeping things going… in everyone's absence,
a voice says. It is devoid of tone, devoid of accent, devoid of gravity, yet still, the words appear in your mind. Come you, then, to plunder what's left, like the rest of them?
The forum's other supplicants pay you no heed, even as the statue of what seems to be a beggar-god moves and speaks with you foreigners. Just like the fruitseller before, they do not notice you.>>755321>>755316https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te2klTPtILs
Cerulean endures a brief scrape of turtle's teeth upon her tail just long enough to slam the Biped away from her, skittering through the Aura-water right towards Cutlass. Cutlass bumps it with telekinesis, tearing away the chunk of sloughing slime as the Biped skitters helplessly away from her, and at last collides, with a satisfyinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwxTZaa3NgI
against the Quadruped, whereupon both Watchkeepers fall inert, stunned by their damage and the removal of the dark slime.
Two Reeds, with a satisfied buggy buzzing, raises her mirror again… the magical mirror-glass that surrounded you dissipates.
"Plunder? No I don't think so. We're exploring pirates…. I know that sounds bad but I am like… 90% certain we aren't here to take anything. The guy with the mismatched eyes over there bought a fruit." he said as if that explained it.
"Honestly I just wanna know whats going on here."
"You are… durable," Cutlass says to Cerulean.
She looks to Two Reeds. "What was the glass for?" she asks.
Cerulean gets up and shakes herself off a bit, giving Cutlass a grin through some new scratches and scrapes.
"Hehe, you know it. Which is why they'll never expect me to be having this fancy thing. Now, let's see if these guys are still working."
She goes over to the Watchkeepers, checking up on them and seeing what kind of shape they're in.
"Cherry? I got more of a peach taste out of it.">>755322
Cloud looks down as the objects start to clear up, rubbing his eye.
"I have enough vision problems already with this…"
When the voice speaks, Cloud glances around, then looks back to the statue.
"Plunder? No, we're here to see what's going on and help with all the thieving stuff. You mean those metal men, right?"
"…Mismatched? I prefer stylized for the pirate life."
Cloud says after the comment sinks in.
"An eye patch would do better… or a big hat… or a laser eye."
"Perhaps our minds filled in the blanks? That might make the most sense.">>755322
"Plunder? No, we have come to find out if anyone was here. We found people, but… things are not right. It is like vague memories of things."
"To mitigate the risk to the rest of our advancing force," Two Reeds says. "If the fighting would spread to them, they would have no choice but to fight back, and potentially destroy the Watchkeepers. Even if Cerulean can repair them, the greater the damage inflicted, the more time that must be spent on repairs, time we must not take for granted."
"Guess we'll just have to get a little closer next time, huh?" Droplet asks, stepping up right close to Cutlass, making her feel all the shorter as he towers over her.
Sir Pent wiggles out of Cutlass's hat and gums Droplet's shoulder, a bite lacking teeth. Sir Pent's pet mouse comes forward and tries to push Droplet away.>>755325>>755324
The two look like they're about halfway damaged. As Cerulean approaches, they obediently lay where they are; it seems the power of the Key of the High Mechpriest doesn't have to be flexed when there's no outside interference.>>755326>>755323>>755329
The statue nods, and gestures to the semi-conscious supplicants, heedless of their beggar-god.It was they whose faith gave me form, gave me purpose, gave me life, and it is now mine that does the same for them. Were it not for this, were it not for how I remember them, this place really would be nothing but a ghost-town, as I heard you speculating earlier.
"Then you're a god?" Chiu asks softly. A god of wealth, and death,
the beggar-god says. Of course, nowadays my work goes against both of my strengths.
"Forgive my presumption, but i-is there anything we can do to help?" Splendid stammers.
The beggar-god looks you all up and down.Well… if you're offering, I could use a bit of help here and there. How good are you lot at filling in the blanks? For even a god… can forget. And the more that I forget…
The beggar-god shudders with a sudden and long sigh.The more they slip away.
"Ya know there's another guy who mentioned something about being a god before. Maybe he would know. He seemed to know a lot about this place. But he's not here right now."
"Nature itself rebels against your influence," Cutlass comments to Droplet with a grin as her pets express themselves for her.
"I did have an eye-patch, though that was just medical for after the surgery.">>755329
"You think the taste got stolen?" Cloud ponders, taking another bite of the fruit to see what it tastes like now after Alder's opinion.>>755330
"A god?" Cloud repeats, "Like Kukulcan?"
As the beggar-god asks for help remembering, Cloud nods.
"I had somepony who was good at knowing everything. She's not here, but I'll do my best to help."
"Huh, yeah, I get it now. As long as they don't have any of the Metal Guy stuff on them, I can order these guys around," she says to everyone, but takes out the aura tools.
"Though I'm gonna try and see if I can patch these guys up a bit. The better shape they're in, the better shape we'll be in, right?"
She then starts to work, trying to see what repairs she can do to them now.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"Well… sure- I imagine we could help you remember things, and fill in the blanks. How would this work?"
Now… it tastes somewhere between the two. You can't tell which one's the stronger – and as you ponder this, the tastes settle into an equilibrium.>>755331>>755333Like who?
the beggar-god asks.>>755335>>755333>>755331Go about the town, recover what is still visible, and meaningful, and bring it here,
the beggar-god instructs. Or, speak with the people, if you can, and revivify what it was they were doing.
"What if…" Miss Sunshine wonders. "Is there anything that might be completely lost?"If it's completely lost, then you won't find any trace of it,
the beggar god says. But if there's something partly lost, gone in pieces, but remaining in others… well, I hope you can weave a believable tale.
"Make something up?" Splendid asks.The truth is hardly made up, even if it must be imagined,
the beggar god says.>>755334>>755332
Droplet glances over at the pets, and, without hesitation, pets them both. Sir Pent immediately forgets his hostility and accepts the rub, as does the mouse. "You were saying?" Droplet asks with a smirk.
The Watchkeepers are subservient to Cerulean, raising no protest even as Cerulean's inexperienced handling of the tools creates only more cracks in their obsidian shells.
Two Reeds looks on in dismay, her compound eyes widening as her breathing gets heavier and frustrated.
"Oh jeez…uhh…maaaaybe I should try this with some…help," she says with a nervous chuckle.
"So! Where to next to find more of these guys?"
Two Tons shuttered his eyes for a moment "I guess I'll have to scan for things that look clear."
Cloud looks down at the fruit, finding it to be quite the odd sensation. He then checks it, to see if there's any seeds inside.
"Oh, right, that's the one we're dealing with. What did Cerulean say the real god was… Thunder Serpent, that's the name. Is that one familiar?" Cloud corrects himself.
"So, check on everypony and if find anything still intact, bring it here? Easy enough. We just had a deal with a shopkeeper who seemed still aware enough."
"Everyone's a traitor," Cutlass grumbles at Droplet.>>755336>>755334
"Huh… Intersting. You can literally command them to come apart. That could be useful."
"Aah…hahah…didn't really mean to break them more. I'm still getting used to this delicate stuff."
"Hmm… I think we can manage it- like, with that shop down there. Maybe we ought to decide what it is they are selling, what the shopkeeper looks like… try to get a better image of it." he explains, looking around. "We can find a few other things like that that should be easy to restore."
Two Reeds sighs. "Let's not deviate overmuch from the path south. There are mountains and hills we'll need to take certain routes for, lest we get taken off track from the ninja camp, and wind up at a disadvantageous position relative to the Capital."
The Watchkeepers await Cerulean's commands. Despite their injuries, they seem willing and capable of moving on at her command.>>755339
Indeed, there are.>>755342>>755339>>755338So, the Thunder Serpent has finally tired of cowering in his Temple? Of sending his machines to fight on his behalf?
the beggar-god sneers. Now, I will believe that when I see it.
"He sounds so different from the Kukulcan we've known," Miss Sunshine whispers. "Didn't I hear he almost got killed trying to fight the Watchkeepers?"
"Right, something like that," Splendid concurs. "This whole business drive me fuckin' bonkers, though."
"I guess we could ask," Chiu whispers. "But, I don't really want to distract this guy from keeping the people around here from fading…"
"Well, Kukulcan may not even be who, or what, he thinks he is- regardless, we can save those questions for after we help out here, yes?"
"Maybe Kooky took this thing so bad he split in two and there's like two halves of him or something? I mean I've heard of people breaking up when they have something bad happen… but I didn't know it was literal. I wonder if that's happened before to other people." he said wandering off into a non-sequitur for a few moments.
He shook his head a bit "Err, maybe we should go look for the stuff then ask him?"
"Right," Cutlass nods. "The more time we spend, the more time Cerulean has to break her new toys."
>ready to continue on
"Alrighty then." She looks to the two constructs.
"Alright, c'mon guys. I'll see if I can fix you up better later, okay?"
>also ready to move on>>755649
"Yeah, I'm still kinda getting the hang of it. You wanna give it a go? You might do better with your smaller hooves," she offers genuinely, thinking she might be on to a good idea.
Roll #1 2, 5 = 7
Roll #1 1, 2 = 3
Roll #1 10, 29 = 39
The two Watchkeepers, broken as they are, rise at Cerulean's command, and follow along. Two Reeds takes point once more, and the assassins group up around your crew as you proceed along.
Over jungle and rock do you dredge, with the temperature steadily rising with the Sun Serpent's arc. The easy going gives way to saddle-like valleys wedged between the great mountains of Cuauhtemoc. Treelines rise onward and onward, even as the earth sinks lower and lower. By early afternoon, you are buried among shadows, but despite the shade, the jungle traps the heat and humidity, and you find yourselves reaching for your waterskins ever more often.
Though you keep your eyes peeled for Watchkeepers who might come to Cerulean's aid, this region seems eerily devoid of them…
"Of course, when we want to see them, they don't appear," Colobok glumly notes.
At least, not until the sunset's long rays color the sky a bloody shade. Two Reeds has directed the Thunder Serpent
crew to build their camp alongside a switchback trail, where no trees will make shade for the voracious Metal Men. It is as they are setting a campfire, and setting up shards of the Godray Crystal for protection, that a strange shower falls from the sky.
Scraps of patchy cloth, reeking of saltwater and putrefaction, fall upon the camp, a kind of grim confetti, just as two shadows dart overhead. A large one, and a smaller one, two avian creatures – Watchkeepers, by their blocky shapes. They fly overhead, southward, much to the amazement of the Thunder Serpent
crew, who look up at them with awe.>>755348>>755384
The others contemplate Two Tons' theory.
"I guess I'd go to pieces too, if I were in his position…" Chiu admits.
"Maybe if we can make some of the townsfolk whole, they might know more?" Miss Sunshine offers. "They would have to know a lot about their gods, right?"
"Makes sense!" Splendid offers. "Ehh, but I'm not much of a social birdy. What you reckon we should start with?"
"Well I figure we should try to find the things to help this guy and that should help the others? He seems to be the one keeping them around."
"Ew, ew, ew! Why did they drop this cloth?" Cutlass whines with a sort of panicked worry as she flails her limbs and telekinesis to get all the cloth away from her.
Cerulean tries to look up at them. She knew it was Watchkeepers, but she wanted to see if these were also ones with Metal Men on them before trying to call out to try and order them.
"Why not start back at the market? Someone like a shopkeeper might know a decent bit about a lot of people in town, and we could work out from there."
"Again they don't really seem to understand us. So maybe getting more things we can see clearly can help?"
Cloud plucks a few seeds from the fruit, looking them over with a studious eye from both out of curiosity, and from the statue's request to recover what info of the town they can.>Study (Special Talent: Spending time to study a plant, Cloud can determine what it needs to grow (How much light/water/time it needs, dirt quality, etc.,)) [1d10]>>755343
"Not sure. From what we know there's a fake running around with his name."
Cloud responds to the statue.>>755654
"The market, or this place might be good with all the ghosts walking about. Or we could go door to door like salesponies."Roll #1 6 = 6
As you can see, both of the flying Watchkeepers is covered with the gray-blue ichor of the Metal Men. However, despite being apparent victims of the Metal Men's possession, they show signs of having torn apart several Metal Men not long ago. Cloth, twisted iron piping, and ichor fall from their talons and beaks. Despite these signs of battle with the enemy, neither of them shows any response to any commands that Cerulean might try to issue with the Key.
"I cannot identify their species, but they must be proud birds, to resist like that," Two Reeds notes. "They head south… perhaps to the Capital?"
She leans out over the switchback, and points to a tall tower between the treetops. "It's within sight now. We should reach it by the morning, if nothing waylays us through the evening."
"And it won't, with us on watch duty," Droplet says, before Colobok bonks him.
"With me on watch duty," Colobok corrects. "Do not think you escaped my notice. You are still in no condition to skip out on sleep."
"Whatever you say, pops," Droplet relents.
>once ready to sleep and move on, repeat the 2d10 and Xd100 process from before>>755658>>755659
"I like that line of thinking," Miss Sunshine says. "Any local celebrities or social butterflies would probably stand out most in that god's mind, right? Maybe there were town jesters, or musicians."
"Probably some criminals could help, too," Splendid offers. "They'd be famous in their own right. And, if they can interact with the physical things lying around here, the better."
"What if we got them to make a scene?" Chiu asks. "That would totally rile up the townsfolk, right? Kinda split the difference?"
You know not the fruit's name, but you determine that it must have been a popular fruit. It is resilient, grows easily in this tropical climate and soil, especially in high humidity. It also yields many fruits once the plant has sprouted, making it an affordable food.
Oh I'm really good at making a scene!"
"Make a scene? Well, I am sure we could find a few ways to go about that. So… we ought to start looking for any figures that stand out- err, as much as anything here stands out. As for criminals… hmm. Perhaps we could find some, yes!">Master Thief: [1d10+1] (subbing in for a perception roll! Trying to get an idea for where might be best to find a criminal.)>>755663
"Oh? How in particular, Two Tons? It could come in handy here."Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
"Can't say I'm too surprised. The Skull Temple had a HUGE, dragon-looking one that I had to dominate. And that was without the staff," she says as the others look on with awe.
"Kinda neat when you think about it. But yeah, sleep sounds pretty good right about now…but not before I try and fix my mess up," she comments and goes over to the two Watchkeepers to try and fix them up.
>spending temp point
After finishing, she says to the two, "alright, think you can keep an eye out for danger while we sleep? Don't be afraid to wake us up, okay?"
[2d10]Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 6, 10 = 16
"I mean being super loud and distracting? Dubya tells me all the time I make them by being myself. Maybe I could pop a bunch of my gadgets out."
"I'm just happy that Ossie gets a chance to sleep," Cutlass says as she takes a tent for herself (and her shadow).
She sets her hat down on the ground next to her and gives Sir Pent a loving good night boop. As for the mouse, she ponders for a moment. She decides that if the mouse is still there by the morning, she'll have to come up with a name for him/her as well.
[2d10]Roll #1 8, 4 = 12
[1d100]Roll #1 82 = 82
[3d100]Roll #1 13, 91, 53 = 157
Cloud takes a mental note of the seed's growing conditions, and tucks them away in his pocket.>>755661>>755664
"Popular folks like a musician… Hey what if we played something Alder? We could maybe pull in some others, or at least get some attention."
Cloud suggests, taking out his skeletal lute and finding a good spot in the forum to sit and starts to strum, figuring even if he isn't good, the skeletons it makes will draw some attention.>Strumming [1d10]>>755666
"Do you have a megaphone or something like that in there?"Roll #1 10 = 10
"I might, I'll need to check my gadgets."
After the camp is prepared and the night shifts organized, you settle down for the night's sleep…
In the morning, you're all still here, despite what the ominous dreams would portend. This even includes Sir Pent's mouse, who did not seem to sleep too well, judging by his disposition, a situation that seems to distress poor Sir Pent. Cerulean managed to repair the quadruped and the biped before going to sleep, and they were unquestioningly willing to assist with the night watch.
The morning meal is quick, for progress must be made. With the dawn gradually giving way to morning, you hastily break down your camp, and proceed onward through the valley. As it rises, fortune strikes, and Cerulean and Cutlass are accosted by no fewer than a trio of Watchkeepers. They seem to have avoided the Metal Men, as with but a word, they are hers to command.
The first of these Watchkeepers resembles a cobra with a fearsome face in its cowl. The second, a stout ape-like creature. The third resembles a large butterfly. The obsidian comprising its wings is impossibly thin, and rich with magic, enabling its flight despite a body of stone.
It is some time after the third one is captured, with the spires of the Capital looming closer and closer, that another encounter of a sort begins. With a pomf,
a cloud of smoke envelops your group. Though the members of your crew look about, alert and ready for battle, the Thunder Serpent
crew are at total ease.>>755670>>755664>>755663
When Cloud starts to strum, a small group of skeletal mariachi appear, each one rattling into existence upon the downbeats. This, naturally, causes quite a stir among the populace of the town. Despite their vague appearances, it is plain that they look on with a combination of grim fascination and disapproval. Despite the mariachi joining in to Cloud's playing, it seems that images of the dead are not easily accepted. However, none of the faded figures approaches to stop Cloud.
As all this goes on, Alder makes his way to what he assumes is the town's jail. Guards mill about in the front office, and through the bars of a heavy door to the side, Alder can see rows of imprisoned figures, with another guard keeping watch over them.
Two Tons quickly scurried to a spot that seemed to have a decent crowd around it and climbed up, looking for his megaphone, and proceeded to pop it out, and proceeded to loudly name everything that came to mind. Which happened to be a rather impressive string of stream of consciousness ramblings about the area, the people he just met, and ponderings about the weather along with many other unconnected topics.
[1d10] to make a scene if needed.Roll #1 9 = 9
Cerulean looked quite happy with her growing collection of animals, looking each one over as her shark-like curiosity kicked in. She wonders if they're gonna need a bigger boat for all of them.
As the smoke appears, Cerulean jumps slightly and looks around, trying to detect whatever may be lurking with her electroception.
Cloud keeps playing, feeling in the grove of playing now that it's tuned and there's not a giant metal snake leering down at him. However, when he looks up to see none of the ghosts approaching, he feels insulted.
"Hey! I got this lute from your island! Don't turn your nose up at me!"
He scolds to the looks of disapproval, still playing despite it, now for the principal of the matter.>Rebel Music [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Aww, poor little mouse," Cutlass says in an uncharacteristically kind tone to the poor scared thing. If there's any cheese in the breakfast, she gives a little bit of it to the mouse.
She starts contemplating a name for him/her. She stares at it for inspiration. She doesn't even know its gender. How can she come up with a name with so little inspiration? A thought occurs to her. She can know EVERYTHING about it!
>Soul Sight on the mouse
"Well… this would be sure to get some reactions, yes." the griffon thinks to himself. He slips in to the back area with the prisoners. The griffon walks over to the guard and tugs at his arm- or foreleg, whatever the figure has- before pointing outside a few times. If he can at least get a few moments alone, he can try to pick a couple of the locks!>Innocent
"Hmmm," Cutlass says after intense deliberations.
"I think I want to call you Remmy," Cutlass says with some degree of conclusion. "You like that name?" she asks the mouse as she pushes more cheese toward it.
"What do you think, Sir Pent?" she asks the snake as she lets it eat whatever a snake might eat here.
Despite the barrier of language and hundreds, if not thousands of years of culture, the townsfolk focus on Two Tons, seeming to recognize the universal language of discontent and rebellion. The prison guards, animated by Alder's prodding, look outside, and head out to monitor the crowd that has gathered around Two Tons now, leaving innocent Alder a moment in the jail to himself.
As for Two Tons and Cloud, the crowd is now starting to reply, but you don't understand them – their voices are muffled, distorted, hazy. Chiu, Splendid and Miss Sunshine, without much guidance, start to join Two Tons' rambling, listing off the litany of pirates' grievances about this or that subject. Taxes, tyranny, bad weather, wet gunpowder, wet clothing, wet food…
As guards approach from the jailhouse to dispel the crowd, you can hear their garbled voices mixing in with the crowd's…
"It's working," Miss Sunshine hisses. "But now the fuzz is here! Whadda we do?">>755678
Remmy gobbles down the cheese, while Sir Pent munches on nearby bugs. Seems like they don't have any complaints.>>755674>>755678
Through the smoke, metal flashes from above – and rows of kunai and shuriken hurtle down, stabbing into the ground in a rather… well, artistic fashion. One kunai, followed by two shuriken. It's a rather deliberate and obviously practiced display.
"Might you be our backup?" a low and grizzled voice asks from ahead.
"Some of us are," Two Reeds answers.
"Good! We could always use stage hands, or hooves, whichever you provide," a higher, second voice says.
As the smoke clears, you see there stands before you a small mustelos, no more than three feet tall. He is clothed in dark, lightweight garb, and he wears a mask that covers the lower half of his face, but not his eyes. The mask is elaborate, and full of color, in almost a graffiti style. It resembles the lower half of a demon's face.
When you look about for the second voice, you find behind you a short, and uncharacteristically rotund minotaur. His garb is the same as the mustelos's, but he wears a mask that covers the upper half of his face, but not his mouth. Like the other mask, his is quite colorful, resembling a demon.
Both ninjador grunt, then strike distinctive poses, like fierce war-gods.
"Hollow Promise!" the mustelos declares.
"Auspicious Sign!" the minotaur echoes.
There is a pause.
"May I present," Two Reeds says. "…the ninja…dor."
"Well- this ought to be easy enough!" He says, pulling out his lockpicking kit and getting to work.>Master Thief: [1d10+3] (+2 TBP)Roll #1 9 + 3 = 12
Two Tons paused and pondered upon it a bit "Honestly I didn't think I would get this far. But I would say get up somewhere high and keep chattering away. Anybody who can fly should look for anything that's not as garrbly gook to your eyes and ears." he said proceeding to continue his rambling by moving into stories that don't seem to go anywhere yet somehow have a purpose now, assuming it should help keep the crowd keen to chatter away.
[1d10] Ramblings that a grandfather would be proud of.Roll #1 4 = 4
"Are they a part of your crew… or…?" Cutlass asks, looking between the two bizarre individuals on either side of her. She sounds somewhere between confused and unimpressed.
Cloud looks around the crowd as they all focus on Two Ton's ramblings. "So this is the life of a street musician…" He mutters, trailing off as he continues to play, but a little more melancholy now. He then thinks a moment, his single eye glowing orange as he attempt to enlarge himself to help add to the attention.>Wax/Wane [Grow Self] [1d10+3]>Spending 2 TBPRoll #1 2 + 3 = 5
Cerulean can be heard clapping as she clearly enjoyed the display, and even commanded any of he Watchkeepers to clap if they are able to in some way.
"Woah! That was neat! Its like a bunch of metal teeth and stuff, but throwable!"
"Yep," Two Reeds says. Sounds like she's in the same boat.
Hollow and Auspicious gather their kunai and shuriken. "Now, then," Hollow says. "If you'll follow us, we'll get down to business. We've only a few hours to prepare for the assault."
The ninjador turn, and lead the way forward to their hidden camp.>>755680>>755681>>755683https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u2CccJ_bKo
As the last of the locks on the jail doors click open, Alder is tossed back as the group of prisoners fling open the doors. Two Tons' and Cloud's street performance is thrown for a loop as a group of faded figures sprint out with single-minded abandon for freedom.
The guards and townsfolk turn in shock, but there's a brief pause, as if all the figures gathered suddenly forgot what's supposed to come next. Unexpected…
the beggar-god mutters. But, no… if I were them…
The prisoners bolt in separate directions, and the guards with them.Right, and who else would help them but…
A group of smaller figures, perhaps youths, rush after the guards, tossing fruit under their legs.And of course, wouldn't you, with your brother you worried so often about…
A rather large figure clotheslines one of the prisoners and tosses him in an empty fruit-barrel.And the rest of you… hrm, the imagination runs wild…
Needless to say, chaos erupts everywhere.
>See you next time
>First Floor: Cleared>Second Floor: Cleared>Third Floor: Cleared>Fourth Floor: Cleared>Fifth Floor: Cleared>Sixth Floor: Cleared
The twin doors slide open, and the jeweled icons of the Sun and Moon Serpents vanish as the doors recede into the adjoining walls. Kukulcan steps over the threshold, entering a long and high corridor, wrought from stone of a deep turquoise. Watery mirrors surround him upon his left and right.
It is just like when he retrieved the jeweled icons.
The watery mirrors reflect everything.
Except for him.
There is neither a Past nor Future Kukulcan, neither to his right, nor to his left.
…perhaps it is because for gods, there is neither past nor future, but only an eternal present.
In any case-
At the end of the great hall, three towering, winged machines descend from above. Colossal, Vola-like Watchkeepers, each armed with a suitably huge gatling gun.
Perhaps, following Cerulean's victory some days prior, the guardians of this trial realized they needed a bit more firepower.
Kukulcan draws two small pistols from his belt.
"Repairing you three would take too much time," he says. "I'll take this Floor slow."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62ezXENOuIA
" Kukulcan shouts, as he begins to run.
From his two pistols erupts a gunfire barrage of his own. Flecks of metal supercharged with Aural lightning streak from the barrels, matching the pace of the guns the Watchkeepers wield. the bullets collide in the air, bursting into magnetic clouds, charging the corridor with static.
Kukulcan breaks into a leap. "Thunder Step
His body becomes lightning, and he jumps to the closest bullet shard, then to the next, and then the next, again and again as he zips through the clouds of metal, magnetizing a streak of shards in his wake.
But when he lands, he gasps, for the Watchkeepers have flipped their tactics: they've swiped the gatling guns for cannons, and they fire a barrage of explosives his way.
Kukulcan desperately reloads, then fires a pair of normal rounds from his guns - one after the other, the first one angled slightly inward. The first bullet flies free, until the second bullet collides with it, knocking onto a different course, threading toward a gap between the Watchkeepers.
As lightning, Kukulcan leaps from bullet to bullet, narrowly avoiding the explosions behind him. Reverting to flesh and blood, he tries again to reload normal rounds, until the Watchkeepers seize upon their chance. They dart back, and surround him, dropping their cannons in favor of obsidian macuahuitl.
As they bring their blades down upon him -
"I was hoping to avoid this." Kukulcan grumbles.
A flash of lightning, barely more than a spark, zips down the length of his body.
>>756266>Seventh Floor: Cleared.
Some time later…
Kukulcan, dirty and bloodied, singed and sparking, walks down a dark hall, escorted by a small Watchkeeper Spider. Soon other Watchkeepers, resembling Cuauhtemoc's humble beasts, join them. All the beasts avoid walking in the center of the hall… the center, being reserved for the gods to walk.
Kukulcan, naturally, walks right down that center path.
Until he stops before a ring of giants.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZh-Vh81Osw
The giant at the back of the ring raises his head.
Almost naught can be seen of him, the skeleton of a machine, wreathed in shadows.
As if he were a memory even the world itself had forgotten.
Yet, when Kukulcan beholds him-
There sits a duo of Vola
Not a pair.
But a myth and a rumor.
A watery mirror, and its reflection.
An invention, and an imitation.
The Thunder Serpents face one another, and ask-
"Who are you?"
Obstinance grumbles, rubbing his lower back, sore and stinging after that fall onto hard stone. Teleportation always was the most clumsy and risky means of navigating the Ribcage. With a start, he scoots away from a nearby figure - before realizing its himself, reflected back at him in the polished face of a high and curving crystal. Such crystals, in shades of deep sapphire and smoky quartz, surround him and his unlikely companion on all sides, obscuring any possible paths around them. The crystals faintly glow and pulse in secret rhythm, lit by some internal source - but before he can ponder this further, a desperate yelp draws his attention to his aforementioned companion: the griffon-shaped genie known as Stone Cold Classic. The demon repeatedly snaps his fingers, but nothing happens. He cannot float nor fly either - his magic is totally inert.
"Shit… shit!" SCC snarls. "Should've known… you! What the fuck were you think- never mind! Truce. I want a truce!"
"What a believable thing to hear from a demon." Obstinance deadpans. "Now why would-"
"Fuck! Of course you wouldn't know. Look! You and I are in grave danger here!" SCC interrupts. "We're not getting out without each other's help. No tricks! No bullshit! I swear it! Look at it this way, I could be the last demon you ever hunt if we stay here. You can't be more than like, 25, right? Is that how you want your life to end!?"
Obstinance falls silent. The demon's genuine desperation aside, he could feel it in the air - danger lurked here. As big a threat to himself as it was to the demon. What had he been thinking to wish himself sent here…?
Obstinance stoops low to shuffle under an overhanging crystal, into the tunnel beyond. "Let's be off," he grunts, deciding to keep his words curt around the genie.
With a genuine sigh of relief, the genie follows, walking with the awkward gait of one used to floating.
"I swear if we get outta this, anything you want, it's yours. No strings attached! There's gotta be an exit somewhere…"Indeed, there was. Multiple, in fact.
In search of it, Obstinance and SCC crawl, leap, run, climb, and swing through the maze of mirrors, stopping only briefly to catch their breath, or to consult the chicken-scratch maps they'd scrawled. Hours pass like this, the dark and stuffy cavern air growing only heavier and more oppressive the deeper they go.However.
Near the end of the ninth hour, they discover hope. In a tall, silo-like cavern, light shines - not from within the crystals, but from high above, from an opening in the ceiling. From that opening, there too dangles a long, thin bit of material - almost like some kind of root, or perhaps spider's silk.The worst possible circumstances had arisen
Obstinance withdraws from his pack an extra waterskin and the last of his dried fish, offering it to SCC. Food and drink were unnecessary for demons, but the psychological comfort of good food, especially when offered by one's ally, was still soul.There had been a mix-up among the Dharmachakra. A scheduling mishap. Even people like them weren't immune to such mundane errors as miscommunication
With a faint smile and a twinge of regret for all he'd done to Obstinance, SCC gratefully accepts the gift. "Thanks… let's be quick, though. We still need to find a boat. My magic should probably be live again once we're far enough from the island."Instead of Loving Kindness, who had been scheduled to train in the Maze of Mirrors upon that day - instead of her was–
Obstinance and SCC are about halfway up the strand when it happens.
Obstinance's withers twitch as he picks up the faintest of vibrations in the air. With a gasp, Obstinance drops his hand toward SCC, just before the vibrations shred the strand between them. He catches SCC by the wrist, clutching the strand with the other hand.
"What's happening!?" SCC gasps as he clings on for dear life.
"Some kind of attack… but I sense no Aura." Obstinance answers, trying to remain calm… "Grab on to something, it's coming again!"
But Obstinance has nothing to worry about.
For the vibrations find their mark.
Indentations press themselves slowly, softly into SCC's body. Blood, vein's, muscle, and sinew rise to the surface, peering out between crushed feathers and fur, drawn out by the indentations. SSC is too deep into shock to even gasp as his body starts to vibrate away, vibrating into nothingness, as the very cells, the very molecules, vibrate apart.
Obstinance makes the mistake of looking down. The sight is nauseating, even to one such as him, after all he's seen and done. Yet he notices now the shape
of the indentations.
"F-feathers?" he asks.
A gurgle escapes SCC's half-slush beak, as his body sloughs away.
The strand above Obstinance snaps, and he plummets through the genie's plasmic remains, towards certain death upon the sharp crystals below-
towards certain death-
upon a bed of white feathers.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BeAIoJc48k
Obstinance feels no pain as he lands in the arms of a colossal Vola, her body so huge she shouldn't be able to fit in this narrow cavern. Yet most of her seems to be a cloud - no, an entire heaven - of feathers. A beak as long and curved as a scythe starts to preen his fur. All of once he relaxes, recognizing her from so long ago, a lady who always gave off good vibes-
No. No, he had no memory of her, just as he had no memory of Sepulchre Island.
The space she
occupied in his mind - in his brain - was far deeper than memory.
"Headmistress Chastity," Obstinance says.
"Welcome home, Brother," the Headmistress says.
She carries him home, as the crystals drink in the last vestiges of Stone Cold Classic.
Last time, on PirateQuest…
Kukulcan's trusty second-in-command, First Mate Two Reeds, mobilized the crews for their counterattack against the forces of the eldritch Vault.
The Vault, as you will recall, seems to be some monstrous cosmic phenomenon – a towering set of double doors that appear and disappear by the will of the calamitous monstrosity known as the Hunger. Every night, the Vault opens, sending forth bipedal machines garbed in diving gear, dubbed the "Metal Men," who stomp forth into the area in which the Vault has appeared, and steal all that they can get their hands on.
The Vault, an unknown span of centuries ago, appeared on Cuauhtemoc, prompting the gods of the island to voluntarily sink the island, trapping the Vault with it at the bottom of the ocean. Many gods were stolen into the Vault, and those who weren't still lost their divine spirits, reducing them to a mortal form…
So went the tale told by Captain Kukulcan of the Thunder Serpent, who made a dubious claim to be one of the island's gods – the Thunder Serpent – along with Two Reeds, who claimed to be the Smoke and Mirrors, a goddess of magic. Cutlass and Cerulean outlined many reasons to be suspicious of these claims, not least of all being that Cerulean met a ghost in the island's northern Skull Temple, who claimed to be the true Thunder Serpent… yet also resembled Kukulcan greatly.
Whatever the case, the crew of the Thunder Serpent allied with the Hidden Dagger and Beesting crews to liberate the island from the Vault. To do this, they would need to stage a grand heist, stealing back all the things that the Vault's forces had stolen to begin with. The less the Vault held, the less power it would possess, weakening its grip on the island.
Alder, Cloud, and their new companion Two Tons, went west with Splendid, Miss Sunshine, and Chiu to another port town to investigate it for signs of life. There, they met strange shades of a golden color, who were trapped in a peculiar pantomime of daily life in that town. Soon they also met the shade of a god of commerce, much like the one Cerulean encountered, who was sustaining the existence of the town through what little power he had left. These shades were but memories… all that was left of their former existence after being stolen away by the Metal Men. The crew had begun to cause a scene in the town to help stir up more memory through outside stimulus.
Cutlass and Cerulean, along with Droplet, Colobok, Two Reeds, Schnitzel, Make Believe, Cycle Kick, Juniper Yumeno and Sir Diamantaire, went south. Their task was to make preparations for a raid upon the island's Capital city. The Metal Men had entirely captured the Capital, using it as a basecamp to rest during the daytime, when the sunlight would otherwise erase their existence. This group met up with two more of Kukulcan's crew – Hollow Promise and Auspicious Sign, two self-styled ninjador who would lead a team of the crew's fastest and stealthiest fighters into the Capital's heart, where they would steal a cache of Godray Crystals to aid in the future battles.
"Hmm… well, it seems to have gotten things started, for sure- what else should we try?"
Two Tons for his part was confused but also somewhat proud of the rampant chaos that seemed to have erupted "Well… they're doing things… but now what are we supposed to do for them?" he asked as he hopped down with a loud dull thud as his metallic form hit the ground.
"I don't think more crazy will help… unless it does…"
"Well, we could try to find things that might naturally happen in response, and help spur those along."
"Like start a fire and see how they handle it?"
"Oh- I meant more like try to find more things that would respond to a riot, though I suppose the guards are already, well… there. Sort of."
"Oh… well yeah… Maybe we should look for the people in charge? They would probably wanna know about a riot?"
Cerulean follows the two ninjadors, making sure the gathered up mechanical minions also follow in an orderly fashion.
"That would work- that, or more guards. Ponies have… Police Stations, or something similar in larger towns, yes? Perhaps they have something akin to that here. Those in charge is the best bet, though."
"It occurs to me," Cutlass says as they travel. "How hard would it be to destroy all the buildings in the port area? If the light destroys them, let's destroy their shade."
"Too much noise, maybe? Might wake them up or something. That and from what I learned, I think these things are guardians of some sort, so I don't think they'd like us wrecking buildings like that."
"Yeah, I suppose even with the control rod, it wouldn't be good to upset those obsidian creatures."
"We'll not destroy anything more than we have to," Two Reeds says with firm resolve and a stern glare. "Setting aside the sheer logistical improbability of destroying the entire city… This Capital is still our home, and the apex of countless generations of our people's masonry and machinery. No more harm shall come to it than what must needs be done. The Ninjador shall elucidate what structures they believe to be worth the cost of destroying them.">>756976>>756978
The two ninjador
take your group on a brief cross-country outing, one that at first glance would deter any other travelers, traveling through dense undergrowth, over a floor of roots nearly up to neck height, even rock-hopping over precarious heaps left by past rockslides. After a long enough while, you come to their camp, if you can even call it that. It's hardly more than a sunny outcropping of rock that the ninjador
just happen to stop at. Nice enough place to sunbathe, anyway.
Hollow Promise, clearly the grim and serious one of the duo, starts to dig at various spots near the camp, his paws moving so fast that they are a complete blur. Colobok and Droplet (and Sparkler I forgot she was there too
) look on with admiration at the ninja's techniques, being something of shinobi themselves. In any case, Auspicious Sign, clearly the friendlier of the duo, stops and turns to face you.
"Welcome, everyone. I trust Miss Two Reeds has informed you of the general idea of our plans," Auspicious begins. "Our plan, essentially, is to split into two groups, each with its own focus."
"The first group – oh, you'll need codenames, by the by – shall slip through the Capital either just before, or at, noontide, to proffer you the most possible coverage of the Sun Serpent's light. We have scouted many locations where the Metal Men are known to rest. Under bridges, in tunnels, beneath great public works, and so forth. This team must either force the Metal Men out into the sunlight, or unceremoniously drop them into the sunlight – by selectively destroying the architecture of the Capital under which the Metal Men take shelter.
"The second group, led by myself and Hollow, shall steal into the Capital's heart, whereupon we shall claim the cache of Godray Crystals from the Heart Temple – assuming they have not been destroyed by the Metal Men – and weaponize them against the Metal Men. We hope to accomplish this all as soon as possible, so that the Godray Crystals of the Temple can have ample time to charge before nightfall."
Auspicious adjusts his glasses. "That's the basic idea, at least. May I field any questions you have? Never mind Hollow there – he's retrieving our necessary supplies."
"Guards I think is what they call them. Lets look for a place with bars on the windows. They usually stay there."
Cloud stops playing his guitar as shades run all about causing a panic. He stands, keeping distance from the core of chaos and moving to Chiu's side to keep her from being ran over.
"Well… this seems like more than what we were aiming for.">>756977>>756982
"Should we try rounding any of them up?"
"Hmm… we probably ought to. This seems to have stirred on memories, but it might be a little too much, no?"
"It wouldn't be THAT hard," Cutlass points out. "My ship has plenty of ammo on it. And, I instructed them to sail that way already. But, noted on the intended lack of destruction."
As they travel, Cutlass complains loudly most of the way about the heat and the bugs and the dirt. She concludes it with, "I hope wherever we go next is somewhere much nicer than the places we've been lately! Doesn't any island have a nice, five-star resort!?"
Cutlass listens quietly to the plan when needing code names is mentioned, Cutlass raises her hoof and says, "Don't look to my crew for any code names. They're terrible at them," she gives a playful glare to Colobok and Droplet.
"I'm more of the thieving type," Cutlass offers. "So, I think I should go with the group taking the Godray Crystals."
Cerulean hums for a moment, then shrugs.
"Hmm…nope, no questions that I can really think of right off the bat. Though forcing things to move or get broken sounds like where I'd be going…though I'd feel a bit bad if I have to destroy any now. I wouldn't want someone coming into my home and breaking my stuff."
Miss Sunshine and Splendid look quite alarmed at the suggestion of starting a fire, but Chiu seems to give it credence. "Considering that most of this town has already been stolen, a fire might be just the kicker the beggar-god needs…"
"Yeah, maybe to turn against us!" Miss Sunshine says.
"Err… right," Chiu says. "But the broader idea's sound. Just one more big event might be enough to help him."
Having just come from the town's gaol, the guardhouse is not too far from it. You go a few doors down, and find the guards – the biggest and broadest of the golden shades you've seen so far – are in a hurry. Many scramble to quell the growing riot you just caused, while others are gathered around a basin filled with water. One guard moves its arms around the surface of the water, and an image appears upon its surface, monitoring the riot starting as prisoners and their sympathizers stir up hell in the market district. It's a scrying basin. The guards don't seem to notice your entrance.>>756985>>756986
Droplet looks hurt. "Captain… are you really complaining about our crew name? How could you."
Colobok considers Cutlass's team proposal. "I believe another of us should go with you, then. I wager that will be the far deadlier endeavor."
"I'll go," Sparkler says. "That makes you, me, Ossie, Make Believe and Schnitzel, right?"
Make Believe and Schnitzel nod.
"Guess it's you, Colobok, Juniper, Cycle and me then, Cerulean," Droplet says. "I'll try not to get in your way."
Auspicious nods to Cerulean. "Rest assured your concerns are appreciated. We've considered the risks and prepared accordingly–"
At that point, Hollow approaches, carrying several boxes. In them are many varieties of explosives. "Ah, right on time," Auspicious says. "We have prepared no small amount of shaped explosives for more conscientious destruction of the city's architecture. Just pick the right bomb for the job, and you won't have to worry about unnecessary destruction."
Schnitzel appears to be taking copious notes on the bombs despite not being on that team.
"The bombs are a last resort," Auspicious continues. "But the lives of our comrades are a greater concern. Use them as you will if your life depends on it – it very well might."
Round up the guards? Or someone else?"?>>756987
"I really wanna splash that pool." Two Tons said starting to stalk towards it with a gleam in his mechanical eyes.
"Hmm… what would be another big event in town- should it be something happening alongside this, or after?"
"The shades that are running loose," Cloud clarifies.>>756987
"A fire?" Cloud repeats with a little concern on Chiu's support to the idea. "You sure about that? I could whip up a storm instead of something, something a little more controlled maybe."
As they enter the police station, Cloud looks around seeing the panic has spread in here too.
"Looks like they're already aware, mostly."
"Deadlier than baiting out the metal men…?" Cutlass asks with concern. "She glances at Cerulean. "And she's not coming with us…?"
Cutlass sighs. "Typical."
She looks to Schnitzel and Make Believe. "And, you two are okay with this?"
He nodded as he continued to approach the scrying pool.
"A storm and a fire…?" Splendid repeats. "Gosh, you two are meant for one another."
"I agree," Chiu says. "But, let's save that idea for later– you and Miss Sunshine were right. Perhaps we'd best avoid any unnecessary destruction."
Miss Sunshine suddenly gasps. "Oh, I've got it! A festival! Where I'm from, some months, you can't go ten miles without running into three or four big celebrations of some holiday or another. And guards would always keep watch over the revelry. Maybe there's something around that could clue us into the holiday culture…"
"But would it really be plausible that a holiday's on today?" Splendid asks.
"I doubt that discrepancy would bother them," Miss Sunshine says. "When given a reason to drink and be merry, who's going to question that? Guys, what do you think?">>756991
Schnitzel smirks. "Captain, I wasn't captured by the Gates of Justice for telling white lies. Theft was my bread and butter when I was a wee pup."And this sounds like just what we'd need to push our Aura to the next stage of development,
Make Believe says. Put some faith in us, and we'll have the informant by the small hairs, just you wait.
"We'll take some small amount of the explosives for ourselves, just as a precaution," Auspicious says. "And, you'll find flares in those boxes as well. The red flares are for the city team, and the blue flares are for the temple team. Let fly those flares if your life is in danger and you have no means of escape. Those of us who find ourselves free will come to your aid."
Nodding, members of the two teams start to take flares from the box.
"These teams are larger than I'd like to work with…" Hollow grumbles. "Are you sure you can keep up with our pace?"
The first response was loud splashing or at the very least an attempt to make said splashing as Two Tons began to hit the water like a cat. This went on for about 30 seconds before he turned back.
"I could try and make fireworks. Though they would be lava fireworks so… not the safest."
"Oh, I have faith in you," Cutlass says with a smile to them both. "Obviously, I do. You wouldn't be here if I didn't. I just wanted to make sure you were where you wanted to be."
Cutlass takes a flare. "No," Cutlass says with a deadpan in response to Hollow's question.
"A storm could, perhaps, work- I feel like it might be safer than a fire." The griffon remarks, a little nervously.
"A party does sound like a better idea. If they're all celebrating it might bring up more memories too for the god statue. Good times make more good times, think that's a thing right." Cloud says in support of the party idea.>>756994
"Do you put lava in them, or do they just make lava?"
"It's technically lava magic I shoot out of my core at the sky."
Cerulean seems to take what she says into consideration before patting Cutlass on the back in place of a hug or headpat or some other equally embarrassing of affection.
"Aww, no worries. Next thing we do, we'll do it together, okay? Right now we're just sticking to our strengths so we can have that moment to play again, okay?">>756987
Cerulean looks at the explosives with a bit of wonder, but also a slight bit of apprehension.
"Uhh…how do I know which one is for what job? Sounds a bit different where I can use my tail for any job."
The guards, at last, take notice of Two Tons, and start to move towards him to politely but firmly escort him from the premises before he can cause any more ruckus during their investigation of the riot.
"Oh, hell," Miss Sunshine finally relents. "Maybe we could combine the ideas – a festival thrown into disarray by a storm and a prison break – just to really make sure that we leave a lasting impression."
Chiu nods. "I like it. I didn't become a pirate to not be well-remembered!"
Splendid looks apprehensive. "I've always been a bit camera-shy meself, but if you all think that's the right move…"Come now…
the beggar-god's voice continues. The guards are making headway into capturing the escapees… I need more, lest these souls fall back into miserable slumber…>>756995
Hollow pauses, taken aback by your blatant honesty. "Then I don't want you on the team raiding the temple. I can tell your guards are strong and swift, but I am not one of your guards. I won't be responsible for your needless death – or some other ugly fate – if you are caught by a Metal Man."
"He does have a point," Droplet murmurs. "Captain, you sure you want to be in that group? Makes no difference to me – we'll guard you either way."
"Perhaps you'd best be with Cerulean," Colobok offers. "You could rally the troops who must contend with the Metal Men in the city streets.">>756999
"Oh, here you go," Auspicious says, reaching into the crate. He pulls out a handy User Manual detailing the different purposes of each variety of shaped charge.
>Given you have the Earth Pony racial strong, you can carry up to 10 explosives
Auspicious looks at the trajectory of the rising Sun Serpent. "I'd wager we have just over two hours to make ready for the raid – and we've still to get to the Capital itself. If you need to prepare yourselves, now is the time to do it."
Two tons whined but moved to join the rest of his group as he scratched his chin "Sounds like a fun plan. A party and a riot. " he said as the sound of metal scratching metal followed his movements.
Cutlass grumbles incoherently in response.>>757000
"Certainty is for the foolish, boring, or dead. I am none of those. Nor do I ever plan on being them." Cutlass says, looking to Hollow. "I am not certain that I can keep up. But, I am also not certain that you idiots can pull of a heist without me. So, I'm coming."
"Lava magic, huh. How'd you learn something like that?">>757000
"Alright, let's make it a bit one then," Cloud says in agreement.
"Hmm, where should we start. They didn't seem to take to music earlier, so food and drinks should be the first start then. Do we have any to spare?"
"Ah! Yes- I could go for that, I think." the griffon remarks, before giggling a little and tugging on Splendid's foreleg a little. "You do not have to be front and center- I know it is rather nerve-wracking, ehehe. It took me at least a year to get over my own stage fright."
"Two hours? I…think I might be able to read enough of this," she says, and flips through the book a bit, hoping there weren't any big words. Or at least hopes there'd be a good amount of pictures she can work off of to pretend she read it.
W taught me. Also it's part of my magic core."
"A robot running on lava, now that's cool," Cloud comments, before remembering something. "Oh, right, that reminds me. Gonna need to find a door somewhere…"
Cloud turns to Chiu.
"Hey, can you make a shadow clone for me? Need a guard while I grab somepony real quick."
"Their market district is not too far from here," Miss Sunshine says. "No doubt the prisoners will liberate some food for themselves. We could join them. Or, our own food supplies are well enough off that we could… well, possibly spare some – doubt we'd need more than a day's worth for an impromptu festival. We should still have enough for the return trip back to the surface, if we aren't too liberal. I don't think Cutlass will take exception to it, now… but she doesn't have to know, either."
"Thinking like a true pirate," Chiu says with approval.
Splendid nods. "Okay! I'll run ahead and spread the word to the crews. You lot can scope out the market district, or else come with me to start offloading from the ships.">>757007
Chiu nods, and raises your shadow clone. "Where you off to all of a sudden?" she asks.>>757005
There's some jargon here and there, but it looks like a manual pilfered from some railroad company's training regimen. It's geared for those with a solidly working class upbringing, nothing too highfalutin. >>757005>>757002
Hollow grimaces at Cutlass for a moment more, then clicks his tongue. "Well well. Your attitude is stronger than your ability. Then, I will leave it to you and your guards to look after yourselves. Those of you who can keep up with me will do so. Auspicious will be in charge of the city team, as will Two Reeds. Let's take a moment to exchange Conch codes."
Many gathered start to pull out quill pens and scraps of papyrus so they can record all this new contact info.
>when ready for the Capital raid, we can skip forward to that
Cutlass smirks at Hollow. "I see which of the three you are, then."
>ready to time skip
"Wh-what's that supposed to mean!?" he suddenly blurts out. You have the sense he might be younger than initially thought, to get so quickly flustered.
"Hmm… it might be best if I stay and help scope things out… but, it would be nice to help spread the word."
"Got a meeting I kinda skipped out on the other day, and they might be able to help out here. Possibly. In some way at least," Cloud trails off, questioning the timing. "It'll only be a minute."
Shadow Cloud looks around, stretching a bit.>"Coming in for a party? Good, things are lighting up a bit. Too much dread lately."
"Yea… But first, come on, need you to keep watch.">"Why not somepony else, we got plenty of strong ones here.
"I'd like the sight and hearing, just come on."
Cloud then goes to look around for a vacant door around the town, preferable one in a spot not being used to avoid any interruptions by the shades, and also just to keep the knowledge of the key to a minimum.>>757006
"Hey, you wanna tag along? Got a way to catch you up with your pal W.W."
Yup! It's Neat!">>757008
I Mean I can't eat. Cept for fun. Usually just ends up sitting in a hollow cavity though. Not like I got a stomach. I'm metal."
"Alrighty, that sounds like a good idea," Cerulean says, putting the manual down a moment to exchange info. She then picks it back up, holding it upside-down for a moment, but this time she manages to correct it herself.
You do!?" he was practically nose to nose with the poor stallion as he shook with excitement.
Cutlass merely laughs coyly.
Cloud nearly falls backward as Two Tons gets right up in his face.
"Yea, just gonna take a sec. Hopefully he's still in town up there.">"Excitable robot, isn't he?"
Tons seemed to be vibrating in place at this point. It was a miracle he wasn't shaking apart.
Splendid goes and spreads the word to the crews who are docked in the port, and with some convincing to Bee Holder and the rest of the Hidden Dagger
crew, with the help of Miss Sunshine, soon the crews pool together some food for a townwide potluck. Other pirates from the crews go out into the town's market district – surely with only the purest intentions in mind for supplementing their potluck.>>757017>>757015
Cloud takes a detour of a few streets through interconnected alleyways, eventually finding an old tool shack, disused and some distance away from the house to which it belongs. Using Gullveig's key, he "unlocks" the shack door, and steps out into Gullveig's destroyed shop. Chiu, Thessaly, Granny and Mallea seem to have put up barriers of fishing line around the damage, marking it off much like a crime scene under investigation. You are able to continue out into Manenhi from here, as the shop has not moved.>>757016
Hollow huffs and pulls his mask back up almost to his eyes. Auspicious laughs and arms himself with explosives.>>757014>>757016
After the others conclude their preparations, the city team divvies up the remaining explosives among themselves, while the temple team get themselves warmed up and well-stretched. And good too – it's another cross-country trek from the ninjador camp to a low summit not far from the city's outer walls.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpWCk-Z9aRU
It is around the tenth hour, according to your watches anyway, when you summit a hillside not far from the walls of the Capital. To call them mere walls is a disservice; the vast Capital is surrounded by walls so high and so dense and fortified that each stretch, from spire to spire, could be its own fortress. From your vantage atop the hill, you can see into the city streets, where there was clearly fierce fighting. Streets have been torn asunder, warehouses lie in shattered heaps, and scorch marks and craters lie all about. None of the former combatants can be seen however; no doubt stolen away by the Metal Men, who themselves are not to be seen either. The Sun Serpent nears the crest of its divine flight through the underwater sky, illuminating the great city with its holy light.
The gathered teams pull out spyglasses to get a better look at the city, but a twinge of dread passes through your companions. Seeing the great size of this city, with all its places for Metal Men to hide, has made the mission all the more daunting…
>Perception rolls get a +2 bonus here from vantage and spyglass use
Two Tons was looking at the place with surprise "Golly thats a cool trick but this place is… less than neat…" he said a bit perturbed by the state of the place.
Cerulean gives a slightly drawn out whistle as she looks down and over the place.
"Wow…and I thought going through those way bigger sunken ships was like a maze…."
[1d10+2]Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
"So, you have always been a little camera shy, you said? You could always stick with me during the 'festival', or just sit it out if you are quite that nervous."
"There was… an incident. We're still trying to figure out who caused it. Let's step outside, try not to touch any of those lines."
Cloud says, leading Two Tons outside the shop.
"And you stay guard," He says to his shadow clone, who nods and stands at the door to Gullveig's.
As they step outside, Cloud takes out his conch and calls up W.W.'s number.
Two Tons nodded softly and did his best to avoid that issue as he tippy toed outside.
There was a few rings on the conch before it picked up.
>"Hello?" came a mildly annoyed voice.
"So, where is this temple?" Cutlass asks as she surveys the city.
[1d10+2] to find the temple and subsequently see what kind of danger may be along the wayRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
"Hey, it's me again. Sorry, something came up the other day, but I got Two Tons right here at the shop."
Cloud holds the conch to Two Tons.
"Here, say hi."
Two Tons snatched it quickly and was grinning "Heya Willow!" he bellowed before wincing "Well I got kidnapped and turned into a statue." he responded as he sighed "No I'm not making it up! These pirate guys helped me though. Including this nice guy with mismatched eyes and a shadow." a pause.
"Well it's not a normal shadow. It's like a shadow of him but it talks." He paused "Yeah I'm ok Willow, what about you?" he asked before handing the conch back. His smile was gone but he still had a genuine sense of relief after talking to his friend.
"Quite the conversation…" Cloud mumbles, listen to the half he can hear.
Cloud take the conch, holding it up to his ear.
"Yea, so you can come meet us back at the same place as last time. Won't be going anywhere this time, promise."
>>757028>"If by that you mean the bar you agreed to meet me at before. I am still there at the moment. We literally only talked over the conch. Though if you have somewhere else you desire to meet, I am amenable to heading there."
His tone remained cool but no where near as annoyed.
>"I must thank you for keeping you word on assisting me on this endeavor."
Splendid nods. "Was born into slavery, or at least, captured so young I don't remember anything besides it. Gaining attention as a slave is a quick road to pain… then from where, when I was taken to Sepulchre Island… well, I think if you took a picture-box there, you'd be run out of town faster than snake-oil salesponies. The culture of the people there… seemed like not one of them wanted to leave a trace on the world. Funny how much that Obstinance fellow was a black sheep in comparison… or maybe a black cat. Still, the newspapers seemed like they were in on it. Not one word of Obstinance's presence or work was recorded in their reports on what happened in Gecko.">>757021>>757025
It isn't until she finds herself ogling Droplet's impressive musculature that Cutlass realizes she put the wrong end of the spyglass up to her eye. Droplet notices, and pulls his cloak about himself with a displeased frown.
Cerulean, on the other hand, cannot imagine how Cutlass missed it – just as calling the Capital's walls mere walls was a disservice, so too is calling the "Temple" a mere temple. Appropriately located at the heart of the city, the Temple of the Heart has a most distinct architecture. There is a great and rounded central structure, perhaps the base of the Temple itself, and most open to congregants for temple services. Then, surrounding it, are a series of twelve great arches that arc over the rounded structure in perfectly even and harmonious patterns. Stained glass windows and a legion of obsidian gargoyles decorate them. The arches are arrayed such that they all intersect, and the central chamber they form connects with the rounded structure below it, like a great central spire.
"Needless to say, that's our destination," Hollow says. "Front, back, above, or below… it was designed so that all visitors, regardless of their social status or occupation, could only enter from four vast structures. Entering from above would be the most difficult path, and below the easiest; from above we would have the most light coverage, and from below, none at all. From front or back, it's a toss-up."
As Cerulean looks on, she notes about half a dozen places covered by vast stretches of shade that could easily shelter the towering Metal Men… those are the most likely spots to look for the sleeping monstrosities.
"Woah, that sounds all nice and cool and all, but," Cerulean begins as she takes note of those particularly shadier areas, "I think that might've given them more places to hide from the light. Like those those really fast and small fish that like to hide because they're just that tasty."
"We're at Gullveig's Affordable Sorceries. There's, uh, kind of some explanation but I can get into all that when you're here. And yea, I wouldn't offer to help if I couldn't follow through."
"See you soon."
Cloud then turns to Two Tons.
"You sure he made you? You two sound like complete opposites."
"Mmm, I see. I had never really encountered slavery before- life was not always easy, but everyone at my home is free. I-It does make me feel, well, a little bad you got pulled into the performance I was in. It did let me meet you, though." he comments, before fluttering up to nuzzle at her cheek. "Though, Obstinance in general is… odd, yes."
"Oh, don't flatter yourself," Cutlass rolls her eyes at Droplet as she blushes.
"It's a pity we can't all fly or this would be SO much easier…" Cutlass muses. "Either way, we should definitely approach from above. It's better than risking the lack of sunlight."
He grinned "He was a lonely kid. And I think I made a pretty good pal. Then again I was the only one who talked."
"Aww… I can see why he really wanted you back then."
He nodded as he smiled and looked to the sky "He can be mean but I know it's because he cares. He always keeps folks at hooves length until he gets to trust them but I know he also wants to make friends… Boy he'd get really mad if he knew I was saying this."
"Well hey, we're perfect then to help with that. Well, mostly," Cloud says. "Ah don't worry, I won't tell him you said that."
"What's going on up there!?" Ossie calls from within your shadow.
"I need an adult," Droplet dryly responds.>>757031>>757036
"We'll be taking the spires, then," Hollow says. "Each one was designed for penitential rites. We'll not have to deal with the Metal Men, but rather, with trials designed for those guilty of offense to the gods. Which trials we face depend on the spire we take. Best to all take the same spire."
"The Capital was not my seat of worship," Two Reeds says. "Nor was I overmuch interested in the formal cultus of the gods, unlike the Thunder Serpent. Yet as we approach the spire, I've no doubt the trials will all come back to me. I may even recall shortcuts and the like."
Auspicious nods to Cerulean. "Bridges, public parks and public buildings, such as the libraries, pools, and so on, will be our biggest threats. All of them were designed to maximize shade at all hours of the day, owing to how hot the island would get. If you thought it was cooking now, the histories attest to truly miserable temperatures at the height of summer! Thankfully, the High Mechpriests gave much thought to the wellbeing of the people. With luck, we'll at least have drinkable water nearby at all times.">>757035
As you wait for Cloud and Two Tons to get back, you can see that the pirates of the two crews have claimed for themselves a space in the marketplace, a raised dais around which many stalls have been set up. The golden shades are gathering around as they look on at the pirates setting up for themselves a potluck. The shades don't quite seem to grasp its meaning, yet they recognize the obvious signs of a festival in progress.
"Ah!" Splendid says. "I think we're needed for music and the like. I don't know what's keeping those two, but let's get to it. Or, maybe we could try to get the runaway prisoners back over here…"
Two Tons nodded and went quiet for a bit as they waited.
Eventually a figure would catch the light and a tall shadow would begin to move down the small pathway. Rather lanky and the horn and tail seemed to indicate he was a Kirin. But boy did his thinner taller build lend itself to the name Willow.
Cloud waits patiently, enjoy a bit of the calm atmosphere up above and away from Cuauhtemoc.
His ears perk up as he hears somepony come down the alleyway, startling him a bit given the whole experience about the shop. He turns, seeing the lanky kirin coming down towards them.
"Is that him?"
He asks Two Tons.
Two Tons turned and then grinned "Youp that's him." he said before bounding down to meet him.
He promptly was hit by the kirin's hat who was using his magic to hit him with it.
Cloud gets up, walking down the alley to also greet the mysterious W.W.
"Hey," He greets, eyeing the kirin over, having not seen one before.
Cutlass furrows her brow then looks down at her own shadow. "Should I be concerned that you don't know what's going on?">>757041
"Oh lovely," Cutlass says sarcastically. "I'm sure I've done nothing wrong that the trials could judge me for…"
"How do we get to the spires?"
"Captain, I never know what's going on with you even when I'm out in broad daylight," Ossie says. "You are truly an enigma."
Willow finished his impromptu hat beating of Two Tons before turning his eyes to Cloud. His horn was quite different to anything he would have seen amongst other equines, looking a bit like polished wood and forking into two points. His tail similarly was long and whip like with a tuft of green hair on the end. His mane looked somewhere between a ponies and a lions with how it wrapped around his neck and he even looked to have scales on his back.
"I take it you are Cloud?" he said with a small pant from exertion as he adjusted his hat and coat.
"Hmm… we can get the prisoners later- why not get the music taken care of while we're here?"
"Yup. And you must be W.W."
Cloud says, holding out his hoof for a shake.
"…Never seen a pony like you before. You live around here?"
"I am a Kirin, and no I am not. I am a traveler to this region, but it is far more of a home than my own was." he said taking it and shaking "My name is Willow Wisp, and it is nice to meet you. I must thank you again in person for helping me with Two Tons."
"A kirin, huh," Cloud comments as they shake. "Yea, it was no problem. Kind of a story with that though. When I found him, he was with another pirate crew, so I'm betting that's why he went missing to begin with."
"That would certainly fit his usual habit of getting into trouble." he said as Two Tons looked a bit sheepish
"Really? Well, I think they've either claimed him or signed him onto their crew. Not sure if you wanna deal with that or not, we got a lot of stuff going on right now."
"Drinkable and swimmable if pools around there," Cerulean says happily, focused mainly on the pool part.
"Good thing, too, cause yeah, I'm not used to this kind of heat. A rainstorm would be nice if it didn't make a lot of shade."
Her ears perk a bit at the mention of trials.
"Wait, more trials? Are they like the ones at the Skull Temple?"
"But, surely you can see what-" Cutlass begins to object before she cuts herself off. Her face turns slightly pink. "You're all just messing with me…" she says in a sour tone.
>Last time on PirateQuest…>>757150
Two Reeds nods. "In a loose way, but the trials of the Skull Temple were intended to make prospective Mechpriests prove their wits and brawn and bravery. These trials, to my understanding, were built to prove the penitent's true contrition through blood and fire."
"Good thing we're not going through there," Colobok notes. "I would not want to find out the hard way how the Gates of Justice's sense of right and wrong stacks up against that of a people who lived in the presence of their gods…">>757151
Ossie chortles the way that sisters messing with one another do. Whether she may be the younger or older sister in this situation remains to be discerned.>>757151>>757150
The others continue to stake out the city through their spyglasses, sketching out rudimentary maps of the northeastern quadrant of the Capital (as you are to the northeast of it). Schnitzel and Make Believe, who appear to have spent the past few minutes discussing something with Sir Diamantaire, look over at Cutlass, and motion for her to come aside and discuss something.>>757049
Splendid has a bit of a shiver at the thought of performing live, even to half-living memories. Yet she takes a moment to breathe, and then affects a determined, focused look, the kind that you've seen Thessaly and Mallea wear when they are deep in study or spellcraft and have no care for anything else.
"C-come, familiar," Splendid stammers, her voice cracking on the first syllable. "Er, minion, or– I mean, come, we've work to do!"
She walks over to the middle of the pirates' preparations, shuts her eyes, and begins to whistle.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Cutlass furrows her brow and walks over to Make Believe, Schnitzel and Diamantaire without saying a word.
"Yeah, thank goodness. Dunno if I could do more trials while holding this staff and keeping an eye on everything."
Alder giggles a little bit as Splendid flubs the command, before happily settling on to her back and nodding "Of course! Work to do. Do not worry, you will get the hang of it in time, 'master'!~" he says, teasingly poking her flank before pulling out his lute and joining in.>[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"If you'll forgive the last-minute adjustment, Captain," Schnitzel says, wearing the least trustworthy grin you've ever seen… so far in life, anyway. "We just got done discussing an alternate arrangement. Sir Diamantaire, Make Believe and I can go along a different route separate from the rest of you, leaving you with Sparkler, Ossie and Hollow Promise. It could
make things a bit more difficult, but it sounds like the spires aren't necessarily meant for group endeavors, so having a large group would actually make things more dangerous."The real reason,
Make Believe begins. Is to make things tougher for Schnitzel and I, for the sake of hitting the breakpoint we need to develop our new Ability. We'd hardly be pushed to our limits with Colobok and Sparkler around to slaughter everything in our path, right?>>757154>>757153>New Raid unlocked! Cuauhtemoc's Liberation: Capital Punishment is ready for queue
It looks like the others are making ready to begin the raid. The Gates of Justice are warming up with Juniper and Cycle, while Hollow and Auspicious quietly meditate in the warmth of the sun.>>757155https://youtu.be/ieduCpyHfCg
Splendid is a bit off rhythm here and there, a nervous warble audible in her whistling, but you can hear the makings of a melody within. Recognizing some notes, you quickly start to improv, and Splendid, evidently hearing you, corrects herself to the improv, and soon you have the makings of a song. A few of the nearby pirates start to join in with whatever simple instruments they might have nearby.
The golden shades, having just stood by absently til now, start to approach the slapdash festival, dumbly feeling out its nature, but focusing mostly on the food and drinks for now. Pirates need no excuse to feast and get drunk, so the crews start to encourage the shades with the appetizers and shots.
That is a bridge I will have to cross when we reach it, it seems." He said golden eyes glinting as he pondered the possible outcomes.
Cutlass grimaces at the notion of Schnitzel being in danger without any better fighters around to help them.
Cutlass sighs. "Very well. Good plan. Just remember, you have the flares. Not that we'd get there immediately."
"Now," Cutlass says, looking around at the group. "I think we've wasted enough time standing around."
"Good mindset. Why worry about it now when it's a later problem," Cloud says in agreement.
"Not sure what you had planned for after this, but we got a party in the works if you wanna come. Two Tons was suggesting to make some fireworks for it."
Cerulean nods to Cutlass.
"Mmhmm! Let's get this feeding frenzy started!"
"Did they involve lava?" He asked with a touch of amusement to his tone.
"Please do not actually eat anyone," Cutlass deadpans.
Alder swishes his tail at Splendid once or twice- mostly or reassurance- but doesn't disturb her too much, especially once she seems to slide into the rhythm and the melody! He watches the golden shades work their way into the festival and take note of everything… it seems to be working, so he keeps on playing!
"That's what he said. Kinda works out for what we're planning."
"I…well, huh, I actually can't promise that one. I mean, my teeth are really useful in a fight, ya know?"
Schnitzel laughs. "Are you concerned about me, Captain? Don't let yourself get distracted now. I'll be back before you know it."
Make Believe rolls his eyes.>>757160>>757158
The two groups quickly gather themselves, and at Hollow's direction, start to head down the hillside, southwest toward the Capital's great roads.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvNfo_enTcY
As the Sun Serpent nears its crest, you stand now on a broad road, wide enough that dozens of carts could ride comfortably across its flagstones side-by-side. Before you is the remnant of a towering gate, not destroyed per se, but clearly taken apart by the supernatural grasps of the Metal Men. Lingering black ooze clings to the foundations and supports. Pieces of the gate's controlling mechanisms eerily float in mid-air, supported by nothing, and it seems the Metal Men stole everything around it.