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File: 1659658239173.jpg (Spoiler Image, 175.26 KB, 1024x1024, Moon.jpg)

 No.761609[Last 50 Posts]

>Iron King Ischyros, the Far Seeker, sets down the fourth and final Report of the Agatecastle Investigation, and sips the coffee Sister Root had set before him. They are the only ones to occupy the conference room on this Cycle.

>Mabin, High Director of the Lux Deorum, is uncharacteristically absent.


>"Sister," Ischyros says, keen to take his mind off anything other than his confidant's absence. "Make a note about this Concord program. It desperately needs some security updates. I mean, have you read this Report? Seems just about everyone's exploiting it one way or another."


>"Yes, sire," the Sister says. She casts another glance at the conference room's sealed and enchanted door. "…Th-this Report was late in coming, I note. Do you think Mabin's absence may be–"


>Before she can finish that sentence, the door flies open. With quick and long strides, a lanky white Diamond Dog, his clothing ruffled and stained by dried blood, enters the room. Sister Root gasps, fishing for the medical supplies she always carries in her saddlebag.


>"You must forgive my tardiness, your Majesty," High Director Mabin says as he takes a seat, taking care to not let the dried blood flake off as he fishes his cigarettes from his coat pocket. "I had an unexpected rendezvous with a certain Noble and spent the past hours in a most gripping discussion."


>Iron King Ischyros scoffs. "Surely we have known each other long enough that you do not need to hide your personal affairs behind euphemisms!" he says. "Truly, it seems the missus was–"


>"No, no," Mabin interrupts. "I speak plainly, but allow me to be even clearer. The Noble who accosted me was none other than Lady Offbeaten Path, of House Titanite."

 No.761610

>>761609
The others keep silent as they help the soldiers get to the safety of the arcade, following Firmgold's direction for an indirect, winding route. However, they exchange glances of doubt, conveying they caught it too – this hope the battle has engendered is nothing but deceit.

 No.761611

>>761610
Lost continued to hunt for anything of value

{Previous roll was a 10}

 No.761612

>>761610
And I'm here too.

 No.761613

>>761610
Once we are across the arcade, I will whisper "we should make a dash for it."

 No.761614

>>761611
Unfortunately, it seems there is naught much among the battlefield worth taking.

>Deadweight

Thinking it over, you reason that staging battles like this would have little purpose, other than to convince the Iron Souls unwittingly caught up in them that the floating machines are their allies. The one who controls them seems to want the Ironcastle forces on their side, and is more than willing to sacrifice a few security bots, and possibly even able-bodied Iron soldiers, to achieve that.

>>761612
>>761613
>>761611
>Deadweight

"I agree," Huitlapan says. "We have yet two Floors to breach before we reach the Necromancer's lair. Let Vissei take commmand of healing the injured while we forge on."
"I too am in agreement," Cautaa says. "We've done what we can here."
"There's a stairway downward not too far from here," Xu says. "I'm ready to head out if you all are."

 No.761615

>>761614
"I suppose if we must…" Lost seemed more keen to keep in large number.

 No.761616

>>761614
>>761615
"Let's forge ahead."

 No.761617

>>761614
Deadweight mutters, "I think those floating machines were trying to win our favor."

When the party discusses moving on, Deadweight nods in agreement.

 No.761618

>>761614
"Every new step will take us to completion of this objective, and we should not tarry."
I will go with the group down

 No.761619

>>761618
>>761617
>>761616
>>761615
Xu nods, pulling up the map on her semi-bricked Comp. "Hope Sapphire didn't go through my Pictures folder…"
>"I did, and you should be ashamed," Sapphire types.
"Shit!" Xu hisses.
>"How the hell can you find anything when it's so disorganized!?" Sapphire scolds.
"That's the idea!" Xu says. "If somebody steals my Comp I need to buy as much time as I can before they find– we have a quest to get to!"

Xu leads the way north towards a downward-leading stairway station. As you approach the stairway, it looks to be in relatively good repair, and no hostiles are nearby… but the lights in the stair-tower are dim, and flickering.

 No.761620

>>761619
"Are you the type to send unsolicited memes Xu?" Lost asked as she began to try and slip into the shadows for the umpteenth time.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.761621

>>761619
I'll shine my suit light down it.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.761622

>>761619
Deadweight blushes slightly overhearing the mention of Xu's Pictures folder.

Deadweight follows Xu to the stairway section and squints down the stairway. Looks deceptively safe.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.761623

>>761619
I will use Spellbreaker pointed to just about everything before us prior to descending [1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.761624

>>761620
"They're funny! Nobody else posts in that channel because they're all waiting to see what I post!" Xu insists.
"There are only so many puns one can make on Prench cuisine," Huitlapan says. "Perhaps it is better if you branch out somewhat?"
"Es-car-go-to-hell," Xu says.
"You posted that one last week," Cautaa says.
Xu sighs like her career's been ended.

>>761620
>>761621
>>761622
>>761623
As you take some tentative steps into the stairwell, Firmgold's instincts warn her, and she takes aim, and blasts into the air before her. Her intuition is proved as keen as ever. Her magic bolt collides with a heretofore unseen rippling in the space before you, similar in appearance to heat shimmers, but much, much more difficult to see.

Now with something to look out for, Conflagration and Deadweight see that the corridor is full of the shimmerings. Each one is about 2-3 feet wide, and 4-5 tall. They are not so numerous that you could not descend the stairwell with some care, but if you were to sally forth without looking for them, at least one of you would surely collide with one, and experience whatever effects it may beget.

 No.761625

>>761624
I pick up a loose bolt from the floor and toss it at a shimmering field with my telekinesis.

 No.761626

>>761624
>>761625
Deadweight waits to see what the field does to the bolt.

 No.761627

>>761624
"Ah, perhaps it's a good thing that these creatures are not entirely magical. Hold fast as I find some… way to alert others who will pass through this way-"
I turn to look at everyone
"If we don't take the time to rid the staircase of these fiends. Neither choice is ideal, but I wish to save others from what we discovered."
I will then pull out my utility knife and start etching a warning triangle ahead of the staircase

 No.761628

>>761627
"Good thinking," Deadweight says to Firmgold.

 No.761629

>>761628
"Thank you, Miss Deadweight."

 No.761630

>>761628
>>761627
>>761626
>>761625
The bolt disappears, as does the shimmering, the second the two connect. Your allies fall silent, Xu and Huitlapan's ears twitching as they attempt to listen for another sound, some indication of its true effect… but none comes.

"No residue, so unlikely to be a disintegration," Huitlapan observes. "Perhaps shrinking… or teleportation?"
"Any idea where?" Xu asks.
"Nowhere any of us would like to be," Huitlapan concludes.

 No.761631

>>761624
Lost began to shoot some very basic memes into the channel if sher had access to it as she didn't wish to make Xu self conscious.

 No.761632

>>761629
Deadweight smirks and does the cool upwards nod at her.

>>761630
Deadweight tosses another piece of debris at where the shimmering was. If nothing happens to it, she gathers a bunch of debris in her wing and scatters it down the stairwell.

 No.761633

>>761630
I chuck another bolt through the area where the shimmering was. If it doesn't also disappear I'll proceed a few steps, chuck another, and repeat the process all the way down the staircase.

 No.761634

>>761633
>>761632
I will watch as Conflagration and Deadweight move down the stairs, and then do my best to etch that path in my warning
>>761630
then put my dulled knife away and follow the group as they cautiously trail down the stairs.
[1d10] my artcraft

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761635

>>761630
Lost remains sneaky and watching as she dind't want to vanish.

 No.761636

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.761637

[1d10] tosser

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761638

>>761635
The others stop and check what you post… and a hail of disappointed glances fall upon you. The icons of the others' accounts all change to "Busy."

>>761634
>>761633
>>761632
>>761631
>>761637
You proceed down the stairwell, judiciously stopping to dispel the shimmerings with tossed debris… but after a few successes, one very small one suddenly appears. It happens just as Firmgold's hoof nearly settles onto a step below. But then, the shimmering disappears, and in its place, left behind by no discernable source besides the shimmering, is a banana peel, just under Firmgold's boot.

Firmgold goes tumbling into the aether, and Conflagration and Deadweight desperately pick up the pace, throwing as much debris as they can to protect Firmgold from colliding with the shimmerings. Your three allies join in as well. In the frenzy to protect Firmgold, some shots miss, bounce off railings, and then bounce off of foreheads, lightly injuring poor Conflagration.

>Conflagration 3/5


Soon enough, Firmgold comes to a halt – by slamming into the door at the bottom of the steps. The door is closed, but electrical displays near it indicate that it is unlocked.

>Firmgold 0/4

 No.761639

>>761638
"A banana peel? Diabolical."
I help Firmgold up.

 No.761640

>>761638
Deadweight sweats as she tries to dispel the shimmerings ahead of Firmgold. Once they reach the bottom, Deadweight silently sighs in relief and tends to Firmgold and Conflagration's injuries, with medical kits if necessary.

 No.761641

>>761638
Lost winced and began to try and find something a bit more timely.

Puros being caught doing cat things. She hoped that would help.

 No.761642

>>761638
>>761639
I thank Conflagration for helping me up, but turn down the medical kit offered by Deadweight.
>>761640
"Thank you Miss Deadweight, however I ache all over and if I don't know the extend of my injuries then I cannot place where medical application would help the most."
>Name: Apparent Invincibility
I will run my tongue around my mouth to make sure no teeth were knocked loose, and then stand behind the group to stretch and lean as I try to figure out where I'm most hurt.

 No.761643

>>761642
In your social image, you are definitely most hurt.

And between your shoulder blades. That absolutely smarts. You probably don't have any cracked vertebrae, probably just some bruising, but it wouldn't hurt to have a medical examination just to be sure.

>>761641
>>761640
>>761639
>>761642
While you assist Lost, Conflagration and Firmgold get over their recent misfortunes, Cautaa, Xu an d Huitlapan take up positions by the door. After preparing themselves for whatever might lie ahead in ambush… they open it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcJk8FstIw0

Before you is a scene straight from the Orchards of Ironcastle. Grass grows from below, shoots poking through the flagstones of the roads and sidewalks, even scattering them in some cases. Trees and vines are overtaking nearby buildings and disrupting trolley lightlanes, and they stretch high in the distance, in colors varied and rich. You appear to be in the midst of a public park – this place was verdant even before this sudden growth.

"Floor 5…" Cautaa says. "This is where we are to meet the forward teams and receive the spies' reports, is it not?"
"Right," Huitlapan says. "We should look out for signals from the other teams."

There is a sidewalk to the north, and a fountain to the south. All around you are high-growing and dense trees, leaving little walkable space. You can't get through to the east, and behind you, to the west, is the stairwell.

 No.761644

>>761643
"Okay, it's likely between my shoulder blades and my spine.."
Entering the orchard, I will look on the ground for signs of activity.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.761645

>>761643
Lost steels herself after the pain of rejection and moves along, remaining the groups stealthed eyes and ears.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761646

>>761643
I'll check out the fountain.
[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761647

>>761642
"Mhm," Deadweight hums with a nod, putting away the med kit.

>>761643
Deadweight keeps her eyes peeled for anything sus.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761648

>>761644
>>761645
>>761646
>>761647
As you prepare to explore this strange and overgrown floor, you keep your heads on a swivel to maximize your situational awareness – and out of all the possible combinations of blindspot overlaps, the worst possible circumstances arise…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwxTZaa3NgI

You all collide heads.

>all lose 1 Wound


As you sit there, dazed in your newfound headaches, you hear distant echoes… the faintest of rumblings… behemoths walk about here.

 No.761649

>>761648
Lost yelped and winced back in pain as she rubbed her head.

 No.761650

>>761648
I sit and hold my head
"This isn't good, the furthest we've gone and the most damage we've all taken is from each other's misfortunes… How long have we been at this?"
I will check to see if the clock on my magicomp is working

 No.761651

>>761648
Deadweight grumbles as she rubs her head. She stops when she hears something nearby. She hides in a nearby bush and tries to ascertain the behemoths' location.

 No.761652

>Perception
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761653

>>761648
Can I tell where they are?
[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.761654

>>761650
Things are still all good there. It is about 1600 hours.

>>761649
>>761650
>>761651
>>761653
Listening carefully, you discern that they are quite far from you, and distantly apart… four… maybe five, in number.

"There aren't any within our vicinity, at least?" Huitlapan asks.
"None that I could hear," Cautaa confirms, and Xu nods in agreement.
"Should be safe enough to poke around a bit here," Xu adds.

 No.761655

>>761654
"I could try and peek on them while I'm still in the shadows if it helps?"

 No.761656

>>761654
Determining the coast is clear, Deadweight emerges from the bush, says, "I'm gonna walk down sidewalk," and walks down the sidewalk to the north, keeping her eyes peeled.

 No.761657

>>761656
"I will follow."
>>761654
[1d10] Perception as I ride Steadfast

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.761658

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.761659

>>761655
>>761654

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.761660

>>761654
I follow along and keep my eyes peeled.
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.761661

>>761657
>>761658
>>761659
>>761660
Just before Firmgold, elevated on Steadfast's back, can get whacked by a low-hanging branch, Deadweight flies in and catches it, moving it aside so Firmgold can pass.

However, before they advance too far, Lost notices something, now that the branch has been parted: A camp, occupied by Iron Souls. Between the branches, you can see a group of four leaders – an Elemen, a Hippogriff, a Caprinos, and the Knight-Brother Mountain himself – sitting in a group, with their teams huddled about them. They are discussing something in low voices, and members of their groups are taking watch nearby. Perhaps owing to the serendipitous nature of your discovery, they haven't seen you yet.

 No.761662

>>761661
>>761660
>>761658
>>761657

Lost quickly messages the others on Concord

>Camp ahead, shall we move to join them?

 No.761906

>>761662
++I support this choice, if so we remember who we passed and who passed us on this trial.++

 No.761907


 No.761908

>>761661
>>761662
>>761906
>>761907
Deadweight replies with a wings up emoji.

 No.761909

File: 1662085082275.png (524.51 KB, 625x625, map.png)

>>761908
>>761662
>>761906
>>761907
As you push through the branches and bushes to approach the camp, Xu calls out. "Hail, Iron– gyah!"

The camp's guards snap towards her with weapons drawn… but lower them once they recognize the Ironcastle heraldry upon your armorsuits.

"Hail," Knight-Brother Mountain grunts in reply. Stress and worry darken his otherwise stoic countenance. The other leaders also look perturbed, but Mountain is the worst of them.

Cautaa, Xu and Huitlapan make ready to salute Mountain, but he motions them down. "Sit," he orders.

You can see that the groups have their comps on display, all showing an annotated map of this part of L-8, F-5. Many comps' screens glitch out now and then, much to the annoyance of the users.

"The team that ventured to L-8, F-4 got cut off from us," Mountain says. "Seals of a peculiar material appeared on the doors to both elevators and stairwells, after that team descended.

"The seals themselves didn't react to any attempt to break them, but they possess five indentations, where someone might insert a 'key' of sorts. We searched around, and identified five behemoths nearby. Each of them possesses a circular stone object. Most likely, the keys we're after. We circled the areas on the map where each behemoth was spotted patrolling."

 No.761910

>>761909
"That is unfortunate."
I turn to the group
"Perhaps we can visit the closest of these behemoths, while we still have the energy to."

 No.761911

>>761909
"Any description of them beyond that they're big?"

 No.761912

>>761909
Deadeweight sits when Mountain motions him to and nods as he relays info to her.

 No.761913

>>761909
Lost took a moment before joining the others for a seat and opening her helmet a bit to sigh and breathe in some non recycled air.

 No.761914

>>761910
>>761912
>>761913
>>761911
"There are two which walk upright, and three which walk quadrupedally," Mountain says.

"The first upright one prefers to fight with its claws, and the second uses magic. We believe it to be Dark-attribute, as it produces dark clouds, which are intangible, unlike smoke. However, our scouts didn't get close enough to run airborne tests, so we don't know if the clouds contain poison.

"The first quadruped is heavily armored, and seems capable of resisting most attacks. The second also uses magic, but seems skittish. Its magic appears to be of a primarily defensive nature. The third is also on the skittish side, but is quick on its feet, and throws objects at its targets."

"Prey?" Huitlapan prompts. "You have already engaged these behemoths?"

"Not us," Mountain says. "These behemoths have been making short work of Dreaded Ones. Our scouts were able to watch from a distance. It was a one-sided massacre on every front. The behemoths have sustained some damage, but it's anyone's guess if they are capable of recovering, or how long it'll take."

He nods to Firmgold. "My thoughts exactly. While each of them reels from their wounds, we move in and crush them. Five teams, we each take one, and meet back in Sector 1 with the recovered keys. Any objections?"

 No.761915

>>761914
"I've got no opinion on any of them. What about the rest of you?"

 No.761916

>>761914
"I have no overt objections beyond perhaps suggesting two teams to each behemoth, it would take three tries but we may incur fewer injuries as well."
>>761915
"I may be a soft counter to the magic-user, as my weapon cannot pass through armor."

 No.761917

>>761914
>>761916
"I agree with Firmgold," Deadweight says.

 No.761918

>>761914
Lost seemed to be fine with whatever the group chose to do.

 No.761919

>>761918
>>761917
>>761915
>>761916
"We don't have time for that," Mountain says. "The Seneschal herself is with the forward team trapped on L-8 F-4."

His agitation is getting worse, no matter how badly he tries to hold it back behind a set jaw and steeled eyes.

"Last transmission we got from them– we heard a crossfire," Mountain continues. "They need backup and they needed it five minutes ago."

With effort, he steadies his breathing. The other teams look between you and him, clearly contemplating your suggestion… with some pressure, he might relent…

 No.761920

>>761919
Deadweight furrows her brows and nods. "Looks like we don't have a choice then."

 No.761921

>>761919
"Let's do it."

 No.761922

>>761919
"Then by your word, Sir Mountain we shall take these behemoths on per team. I cast my vote to challenge the magical one."

 No.761923

>>761919
"Sir I think perhaps you need a moment to calm and consider things before rushing in."

 No.761924

>>761920
>>761921
>>761922
>>761923
"Come again?" Mountain asks, turning to Lost with a grimace. He's normally double her height, and with his scowl, seems even taller.

"Sir," Cautaa says, stepping to Lost's side. "If the behemoths massacred Dreaded Ones, surely living souls such as we should take greater precaution when facing them, despite their wounds… even if it might take more time."

Mountain pauses to think…

 No.761925

>>761923
>>761924
Deadweight looks at Lost in surprise, but she agrees with her words. She looks to the Knight-Brother to see what he says.

 No.761926

>>761924
>>761925
Lost started to bend but she cleared her throat "I'm just saying perhaps it's best if we think through all our actions before we push in blind."

 No.761927

>>761924
"Are any of them flammable?"

 No.761928

>>761924
I said my piece and will wait for further development

 No.761929

>>761927
>>761928
>>761926
>>761925
Mountain is momentarily distracted by Conflagration's question. "The lot of them should be susceptible to fire – every one of them appeared to be skeletal, undead."

"What?" Huitlapan gasps.

"Now what's the matter?" Mountain asks.

Cautaa freezes up for a moment. Perhaps he's suspecting the same thing. "…We have an adept fire magus among our numbers, and another skilled at countermagic. Let us take another group with us to fight one of the magic users. With overwhelming numbers and our advantages, we'll make short work of them."

"…Granted," Mountain relents. "Pick your allies and get a move on."

 No.761930

>>761929
"I vote for the dark magic one."

 No.761931

>>761929
"I'll just go wherever Deadweight goes."

 No.761932

>>761929
>>761930
>>761931
"We'll also go for the dark magic behemoth," Deadweight says.

 No.761933

>>761929
I ascent to the dark magic one

 No.761934

>>761930
>>761931
>>761932
>>761933
Mountain nods, and transmits the map data to you. "The dark magus was last sighted near Sector 10, but each of them is highly mobile, despite their size. Don't rule out an ambush, especially with one that can manipulate darkness."

He turns to the other three groups. "Meet Finether, Sonard and Idana," he says, gesturing to the elemen (a floating, vaguely equine-shaped crystal which emanates a dark, equine-shaped vapor), caprinos and hippogriff, respectively. Each one has a team of their own, consisting of three members total.

Finether's team consists of two magi, covering the smoke and bloom attributes.
Idana's team consists of a knight and a rogue.
Sonard's team consists of a second bard (as Sonard himself is a bard), and a paladin who looks like he'd be more at home in a mosh pit.

You are the ones who recovered the survivor, Green… Finether says. If you weren't after a dark magus, I'd consider my team and yours to be suitable allies.
"I don't know how well I'd be able to assist you," Idana says. "But if you want to team up, I am willing."
"The Seneschal promised me a concert at the end of all this," Sonard says. "So, if you wanna save her, let's get a move on already."

 No.761935

>>761934
Lost seemed to be leaning towards Sonard

 No.761936

>>761934
I will make a point on Concord to recruit Sonard's team

 No.761937

>>761934
I have no opinions.

 No.761938

>>761935
>>761936
>>761937
"Righteous…" Sonard says with a nod. His fellow bard, a she-goat with a small portable theramin, plays a spooky sound. The paladin, a male diamond dog in dark, spike-covered armor, puts his paws together, in a rather timid posture.

The other teams start to mobilize and make for their own assassination targets.

"…I hope we have not already met our targets," Cautaa mutters with apprehension.

>Paused

 No.761985

>>761938
"It's a pleasure to meet you all."
I make a quick introduction and then move for a waythrough to our destination.

 No.761986

>>761938
"This is going to be a blast."

 No.761987

>>761938
Deadweight gives Sonard a nod back, one of the cool guy ones with the half-smirk.

 No.761988

>>761938
Lost gave a lazy wave to them.

 No.761989

>>761985
>>761986
>>761987
>>761988
As you gather together with your new allies, you review the map data transferred earlier.

See: >>761909

At first, it seems that there is are two only slightly divergent paths one could take to Sector 10:

The first, head east from Sector 9, then either head south to Sector 13, then east, south, north, pass through Sector 18, then reach Sector 10.

The second, head north from Sector 9, cutting through Sector 7 to bypass Sector 13, then proceed to Sector 18 and then 10 as previously mentioned.

However, a glance back at the path that you took to get here, through the opening in the treeline, suggests an alternative.

"Ah," Cautaa says. "Perhaps this Floor's makeshift 'walls' offer an opportunity to bushwhack our own path. What say you?"

 No.761990

>>761989
"I suppose. I shall return to the shadows for now."

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.761991

>>761989
"Sounds good," Deadweight says.

 No.761992

>>761989
"I like that idea, and we have our map to consult so lets be on our way."

 No.761993

>>761989
"I hardly ever get a chance to whack some bush. Let's do it."

 No.761994

>>761990
>>761991
>>761992
>>761993
Your new group proceeds to Sector 9, as you speak. You see the remains of a covered seating area, full of rotted wooden benches, and old stone stools, now covered with moss. There is a broad river nearby, and you see that the long "corridor" just east of Sector nine is actually a series of bridges. Much of the area to the south and east is a densely forested lake, with towering, reed-like trees growing up from underwater.

Xu and the female goat bardess stop to marvel at the view…

Sector 7, just to the north of this bridge, is another land-based seating area, with tree-walls to the north and east.

"Okay…" Cautaa says, consulting the map again. "In theory, cutting through due east of here would lead to Sectors 18 and 10."

"But," Sonard says. "Judging by the scenery, we might just cut a path into part of the lake if we cut through here."

 No.761995

>>761994
"Would setting the trees on fire help? I can burn down this entire floor. Except the lake."

 No.761996

>>761994
Lost for her part grunts and decides to not actually hide as she sucks at it.

 No.761997

>>761994
"Perhaps this water isn't deep enough to pose a problem."
>>761995
"Perhaps a finder's flare would help better."

 No.761998

>>761996
You creep behind the group hiding behind every mossy rock and bridge post you can find. It works for now.

 No.761999

>>761994
>>761995
>>761997
"Yeah, let's not set anything on fire yet.

>>761994
>>761997
"Yeah, let's try cutting across. If it's too deep, we'll just take a different way."

>>761996
Deadweight gives Lost a consoling pat.

 No.762000

>>761999
>>761997
>>761996
>>761995
"Given how much water these plants must be getting, a fire wouldn't be very successful," Cautaa says.

"And, it could just as easily turn against us," Huitlapan says.

As you suggest cutting across, Xu pulls up an image file of a lightbulb, and holds it over her head.

Sonard points to her. "Yes, you in the back, with your hoof raised?"

"There could still be maintenance boats docked somewhere under the bridge," Xu says. "We could swipe one, and maybe even get the drop on the target better like that!"

 No.762001

>>762000
"Maintanance bots sounds good. Do we just nab one and hack it or?"

 No.762002

>>762000
"I like that idea the best. Except haven't the robots been acting weird?"

 No.762003

>>762000
"Good thinking," Deadweight says, pointing a hoof at Xu.

 No.762004

>>762000
Rather than join in the conversation, I will keep an ear out as we pass through this place.
[1d10] Awareness

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.762005

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.762006

>>762000
>>762003
Deadweight looks around for a maintenance boat.

[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762007

>>762002
>>762000
"Oh, boats! Good idea!"
I'll look around for some boats while keeping a safe distance from the water.
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.762008

File: 1662694593910.png (526.75 KB, 625x625, L-8 F-5 with Water.png)

>>762005
>>762004
>>762003
>>762002
>>762004
>>762007
You do some searching around the bridges, and after some proscribed burning by Conflagration, you find a stairwell down to the underside of the bridge, near the water's edge. There is a lower bridge, specifically only to be used by maintenance workers. It's not nearly as nice or decorated as the upper bridge, for visitors to the park.

Closer to the land side, you see a small dock, where several boats are tied off. Most of them are in pretty bad shape, having been left without care recently. However, you see one that is mounted on the wall, and as such, is in fairly good condition. It's a gondola-style boat, with room for one pilot, and three riders.

Unfortunately, there's only the one…

"So, four of us can take that boat," Xu says. "But that leaves the rest of us with these old things."

"We might be able to jury-rig a quick repair…" Cautaa suggests.

"And risk sinking if it is insufficient," Huitlapan notes. "Or if we are attacked."

"Others could just stay on land," Sonard adds. "Might be able to pull off a pincer maneuver, if the target's still in its last known location."

 No.762009

>>762008
"Yeah, I don't think we should take any of the other boats. Half of us can just go by land, and I can be in the air."

 No.762010

>>762008
"I am fine going on land. I can remain hidden better there."

 No.762011

>>762008
"I might set the boat on fire on accident. I'll walk."

 No.762012

>>762008
I agree with my team about going the long way

 No.762013

>>762012
>>762011
>>762010
>>762009
Sonard nods. "Sound travels easier over water, so we'll take the boat. Let's exchange Concord codes, and keep in touch if we see anything."

If you choose to do so, Sonard and the gang will give you their Concord codes, and accept yours as well.

"Looks like we're back to the long way," Cautaa says. "Now, then, north or south, everyone?"

 No.762014

>>762013
"There doesn't seem to be a through-way to the north, perhaps south as the path should be guaranteed."

 No.762016

>>762013
>>762014
Deadweight exchanges Concord codes, then says, "South sounds good."

 No.762017

>>762013
"I… whatever the group wants."

 No.762018

>>762013
I'll swap codes.
"South."

 No.762019

>>762017
"Something on your mind?" Deadweight asks Lost.

 No.762020

>>762014
Ah! And seeing Conflagration swap codes I will do the same after him

 No.762021

>>762019
"I unno, without something to actually track I'm… not very good at finding my way."

 No.762022

>>762021
"No worries, just stick with us," Deadweight says with a wink and a smirk.

 No.762023

>>762016
>>762017
>>762018
>>762014
Xu starts filling the new groupchat with memes. Sonard and his crew all start dropping links to Trotify playlists there too.

Cautaa, sensing Xu about to start roasting their musical tastes, intervenes.

>"Focus!" he types. "If you see ANY of the five behemoths, I beg you do not attack before we have a chance to study their appearance. I have a terrible inkling we may already have intel on these things, but I need to see to be certain."


>"Copy," Sonard and his crew type in response.


As these exchanges take place, you start making your way south along the rightmost bridge from Sector 7. Soon, in the distance to the east, you can see a tree-filled island, surrounded by more bridges.

"Another behemoth was spotted there," Huitlapan says. "Be on guard, everyone."

 No.762024

>>762023
Lost Tries once more to vanish into the shadows.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762025

>>762023
I will notify Steadfast that we should add our ears to this.
[1d10] Awareness, myself
[1d10] Awareness, Steadfast

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 2 = 2

 No.762026

>>762023
Time to sneak.
[1d10] Stealth
[1d10] Awareness

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 3 = 3

 No.762027

>>762023
Deadweight keeps an eye out for any hostiles.

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.762028

>>762027
>>762025
>>762026
>>762024
You reach a T-intersection, and begin heading east to continue following your chosen path to Sector 10. But as you cross the south face of the densely-jungled island, your sixth senses irritate you, your hairs rising, and skin prickling with goosebumps… something on that island has its eye, or eyes, upon you…

>Paused

 No.762074

>>762028
I take cover and try to spot what it is.
[1d10] perception

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.762075

>>762028
Lost bristles and moves to lock onto him.

[1d10] Hunter Sense

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.762076

>>762028
Deadweight jerks her head towards where she senses the eyes on her.

>Perception

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762077

>>762028
I will position myself and Steadfast between the island and our squishier members in the group.
"We should hurry and avoid a fight with whatever is watching us and the precious time we have to regroup with Sonard's group."

 No.762078

>>762074
>>762075
>>762076
>>762077
Out from the shadows of the treeline streak a flurry of near-white blurs!

>everyone roll dodge; Firmgold and Deadweight get a +1 bonus from previous turn's perceptions


Huitlapan, Xu and Cautaa hit the deck.

[3d10]

Roll #1 8, 5, 10 = 23

 No.762079

>>762078
Deadweight takes to the skies to avoid the ambush.

>Dodge

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.762080

>>762078
Lost moved to avoid it.

[1d10] Dodge

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762081

>>762078
[1d10] dodge

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762082

I will pull Steadfast behind a tree, or a bench.
[1d10+1] Myself
[1d10] Steadfast

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4 / Roll #2 2 = 2

 No.762083

>>762078
>>762079
>>762080
Seeing Lost stumble, Deadweight dives in front of her to block her from the attack.

>Block

[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762084

>>762082
>>762079
>>762080
>>762081
Conflagration, Firmgold and Huitlapan get just barely grazed by the streaks, yet the wounds sting screaming all the same. A silver-white mark, almost like a burn, lingers around the site of their armorsuits where the ammunition glanced them.

>Conflagration and Huitlapan lose 2 Hits, Firmgold loses 3


Lost and Steadfast aren't so lucky, and take the shots straight to the body, managing to twist just in time to take them to the haunches, and not to any vitals. The impact flings them to the far side of the bridge, where they slam into the safety rails.

Steadfast is large enough to brace himself, but Lost nearly falls over the edge. Deadweight drops in and grabs her by the hoof to pull her back, but takes a shot in the flank, and barely avoids collapsing. Straining through the pain, she flings Lost back onto the center of the bridge.

>Lost 0/5


>Steadfast and Deadweight lose 6 Hits


After they've landed, you can see the ammunition used: Long, silvery-white bolts, almost more like small javelins, for how large they are. No weapon used by a mortal fired these bolts. If you look at them for more than a moment, your visors start to blur, turning mosaic over the bolts.

Conflagration remembers a similar effect, from when he beheld the dust left behind by the floating machines' attacks against the "malfunctioning" security bots…

The others scatter, bracing themselves behind what limited coverage the great bridge's supports can give them. You can hear a rustling, and a metallic clicking and rattling, from the island… a great shadow steps back from the treeline, too fast to behold.

>"Are you all well? Can you run?" Cautaa says over voice chat.


>"Lost is down!" Xu says.


>"Shield me and I'll help her," Huitlapan says.


He attempts to heal Lost from behind his cover.

[1d10+2] Heal

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10

 No.762085

>>762084
Lost Groaned and did her best to stand back up.

[1d10] Stand

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.762086

>>762084
"It's like those weird floating robots we saw earlier!"
I'll grab a stick with my telekinesis and give one of the bolts that landed nearest me a good whack to see what happens.

 No.762087

>>762084
I unsheathe my sword behind cover and grab Steadfast's attention through the group voice chat. My helmet enclosed.
"You must remain, sir Steadfast!"
[1d10] Lay on Hands: Steadfast
Steadfast prepares a Counter as he moves over to me.

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.762088

[1d10+2] Steadfast's Counter Slam (crit 8+)

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7

 No.762089

>>762086
A fine silvery dust floats up from the javelin, and placidly drifts back down, feather-light. That which falls upon the stick lingers a moment, and then, starts to spread, like a creeping mold. Over nearby inorganic matter, it does not spread, only upon the stick.

>>762085
>Hunter Sense

You duck behind the nearest cover, and squint out over the railing at the shooter's last known location. Focusing deep, an image comes to mind, translucent-silver behind the great trees of the island…

It is nearly ten feet fall, and three feet wide, lean and scrappy looking. It is equine in shape, and covered, unevenly, with thin scraps of white plate metal, intended to straddle the line between protection and a low profile. Sections of the plate metal have dozens of the javelins protruding from built-in quivers, almost like patches of porcupine quills. Upon its shoulders are mounted a pair of large crossbows, rigged to be able to fire a half-dozen bolts apiece.

Between the plate metal, you can see that the figure has no flesh nor muscle, but only a skeleton. The skeleton is coated with white dust in uneven patches, as if it had simply dropped a bag of flour.

Additionally, the figure… appears to be dancing? Behind the treeline, it shuffles, wiggling its shoulders and hips, its hooves tapping out some unheard rhythm, the lone participant of a rave only it can hear. This, along with its white color, clashes with its otherwise stealthy form and strategy.

Perhaps it is because the face is no more than a skull, but something strikes you as… wrong. Well, many things are wrong here. But, something behind its metal helm, in particular…


>>762087
>>762086
>>762085
>>762088
>1 + Counter
As Firmgold rushes over to aid Steadfast, his head snaps to attention, and he pushes her aside. A bolt streaks from the treeline to where her center of mass had just been, and instead stabs into the wooden support stringer of the bridge. Steadfast yanks the bolt out of the stringer, stands and heaves it straight at the cover behind which the shooter was last seen.

The bolt vanishes behind the treeline, but Lost can see that the bolt struck true, grazing off the shooter's helmet. Still keeping up its crazed dance, it steps back and shakes its head to recover.

>"Where's the target?" Sonard says over vc.


>"Somewhere in the trees!" Xu shouts.


Your allies approach from below on their boat, their progress slow from the fact that it's a gondola. Lost can see the crossbows on the shooter's arms rack more ammunition… it's looking right at Sonard's crew!

 No.762090

>>762089
>It's some kind of large skeleton in the trees. Big and covered in a strange dust. It's behind the trees so we need to close distance since it seems to fight from range.

She moved to slip into the shadows and approach.

[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.762091

>>762084
>>762089
Deadweight grunts when she's shot and grunts again when she throws Lost back on the bridge.

Seeing Huitlapan taking care of Lost, Deadweight, Deadweight flies into the trees with her claymore in hoof.

>Tactician, declaring 2

>Slam, +2 bonus, crits on +9
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.762092

>>762091
>>762090
>>762088
"Don't let the bolts strike flesh! They've got some sort of dust on them that grows on organic material!"

>>762089
I toss the stick away and summon up some burning homing magic.
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.762093

>>762089
I will pull myself away from this stagger, move ahead of Steadfast and shout "Show yourself!"
[1d10+2] Word of Power (antimagic focused on the bolts first)
Steadfast will request healing from Xu, as Slam and Counter are on cooldown

Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7

 No.762094

>>762092
You conjure up four bolts.

>>762093
Hui slides in to the rescue.
[1d10+2] Heal

>>762092
>>762093
>>762091
>>762090
With no direct connection to the island, Lost waits a moment for Deadweight to fly over the water, then leaps and bounces off her back to hit the treeline. This throws off Deadweight's trajectory, and she makes an improvised landing on a steep slope, nearly falling into the lake. Through the shadows of the trees, she can see the towering shooter leap back, as if spooked. It lines up its shot, putting Deadweight square in the sights of one crossbow, and Sonard and company into those of the other.

However, when Firmgold calls out, the shooter raises its head toward her. Its shoulders slump, as if… almost as if in relief. The shooter turns its head toward both crossbows, which are still trained on their targets, then appears to strain. The crossbows shudder, as if they themselves were struggling against the shooter, but the shooter's will is stronger. Both crossbows point straight down and fire their heinous volley straight into the ground. A thick cloud of silvery dust balloons up from the impact site, blocking everyone's view. Only Lost is able to see as the shooter leaps back further toward the center of the island.

>"A skeleton, you said!?" Cautaa repeats. "I can't see! Did it respond to language at all!? Get it closer to the shoreline!"


>"What are you getting at?" Xu asks.


>"We may have met this target sometime before!" Cautaa says.


Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12

 No.762095

>>762094
>It's moving to the center. Watch for the dust.


Lost then moved to tail the beast, summoning a pair of dual claws through use of her partnership with Dhampir.

>Symbiosis Evolved, Dual Weapons

 No.762096

I will request of Steadfast that we be used to protect our crew who can't fly over the water.

 No.762097

>>762094
Deadweight tails Lost and tries to get her eyes on the hostile.

>Perception, +2 bonus from tactician

[1d10+2]

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.762098

>>762096
>>762094
"Did they really run off ahead like that?"

 No.762099

>>762098
I will let out a worried sigh.
"It seems they did, but we shouldn't worry. There may be a way we can aid them from here."

 No.762100

>>762096
>"What are you talking about?" Xu asks.

>"It might be one of the Knights of the Gravepyre!" Cautaa says. "Oh, you never met them – a group of good-hearted fools, playing at serving the Necromancer!"


>"Whoever it is, our allies just ran in after it!" Huitlapan says.


He runs about on the bridge, desperate to find a quick way across. When none presents itself, he looks to Steadfast. "Throw me!"

>>762098
>>762096
>"Island access is on the north side," Sonard says. "And if we all piled into the gondola, we'd sink. We'll have to drop off our guys then ferry you over."

Their boat stops near the island, and he and the goat get out, leaving the diamond dog to steer toward the bridge. There's a maintenance ladder nearby you could climb down to get to the water's level.

>>762095
>>762097
Lost and Deadweight spring after the shooter, leaping over earth and rock to pursue the target, until it suddenly stops, near a shadowy bend where the canopy is thick. The thing spins around and fires at Deadweight, who on reflex, chops at the bolts… only to realize that both shots were aimed for the ground before her; they wouldn't have hit her unless she went for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVZQJL4c034

The shooter, yet again changing its tactics, holds its ground. It resumes its bizarre gyrations and grooves, yet as it does, both crossbows stay trained upon Deadweight and Lost.

>Reflex Shot; A vs Deadweight, B vs Lost

Crossbow A: [1d10+3]
Crossbow B: [1d10+3]

Roll #1 1 + 3 = 4 / Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8

 No.762101

>>762100
Down the ladder I go.

 No.762102

>>762100
Deadweight dives toward the shooter and tries to pin it down.

>Protect

>Grappler, +1 bonus
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.762103

>>762100
"Mister Huitlapan that's not a wonderful idea. H-…how will you land?"
If he presses this, then I nod to Steadfast to throw the rhodos to the other island [1d10]
Seeing Conflagration go for the ladder I will follow as well

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.762104

>>762100
Lost, seeing it stopped, decided to move and harm it with her claws.

>Unseen Foe

>Rupture
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3

 No.762105

>>762103
"You may not know, but I'm a dab hand at rollerblading," Huitlapan says. "I know how to take a fall."

Steadfast nods, and with Huitlapan's assent, loads him up like a shotput, spins him around, and flings him toward the island. Huitlapan, balled up with his knees to his chest, lands on a heap of earth with a winded grunt. Sonard and his companion help him up.

>>762101
>>762103
You both climb into the boat, and Xu and Cautaa remain behind on the ladder. The mosh pit dog begins the arduous process of turning about the gondola to make the trip to the island.

>>762104
>>762102
Deadweight throws herself in Lost's way, and chops up a volley of bolts, but these ones erupt into sharp splinters, stabbing into her like a slew of porcupine quills. She keeps her footing for now, and grabs onto the shooter's right shoulder, yanking it down toward the ground. Lost uses the opportunity to run up and slam her blades into Crossbow A, shattering some of the dusty metal upon it.

>Crossbow A loses 5 HP


>Deadweight has 12 damage stored up in Protect

>Protect turn 1/2

The shooter's back half is still enraptured in its peculiar dance, despite its right foreleg being pinned by Deadweight. Now at point-blank, Crossbows A and B fire at Lost and Deadweight again!

>Marksman Shot; A vs Deadweight, B vs Lost

A: [1d10+3]
B: [1d10+3]

Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6 / Roll #2 10 + 3 = 13

 No.762108

>>762105
Lost yelped and did her best to dodge the attacks. Yet she also did her best to slash apart crossbow A with her claws.

[1d10] dodge
[1d10] dual attack 1
[1d10] dual attack 2

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 9 = 9 / Roll #3 9 = 9

 No.762109

>>762105
"AGH!" Deadweight shrieks when she's pierced by the bolts. That was a bad hit. Once Lost lands her blow, Deadweight tries to land one herself then says, "I'm bailing!" and flaps her wings to fly back to the party.

>Dodge and gtfo

[1d10]
>Basic attack, Lone Knight
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 9 = 9

 No.762200

>>762105
I will wait as fast as I can while the gondola makes its trip to the island, shouting for Steadfast to wait on its return so he can get on as well.


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