>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Pain. Afternoon.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party managed to escape the changeling reavers after Maali received a prophetic vision from the possessed serpent attacking their ship. In the vision, he saw a tree much like one of the many that grew in his forest. A voice spoke to him in his native tongue, telling him to travel east and search beneath the tree. After a few days of uneventful travel, they returned to the Dreaming Spring where King Doom's stronghold is located. Upon arrival, they overheard Doom heatedly berating a pair of underlings. From what they overheard, a valuable member of the Shells named Lord Meris had escaped the resistance and rallied forces to overthrow the resistance fighters stationed at a place called Pine Pass. The party now make plans with the resistance leader, plotting out a course to reach the next stop on their quest: the Shrine of Order…
>Tourmaline is at 8/6>Maali is at 5/5>Timber Hoof is at 6/6>Abenad is at 6/5>Galehaut is at 7/7>Gloria is at 6/5>Known monolith locations: Lunemark, Serpentine Keep, The Dreaming Spring, Heart of Jevel>2/5 Immortal Souls found
>Old thread: >>666306>>667212>>667213>>667214>>667215>>667216
Doom continues to show you some options on his map table. "We have discovered monoliths here, here and here," he informs you, pointing at Drothen's Hollow, Lunemark and Syro's Mire. "Regrettably, they are the closest to the Islets that we know of. I believe the easiest way to reach the Islets would be to attempt to sneak into Easthold-By-The-Sea and steal a boat from there. The Shells have only recently taken control of Easthold from the blanks that inhabited it previously, so their garrison there is tenuous at best.
It would be much faster for you if you travelled from Syro's Mire, but be warned that you would be deep in enemy territory. The Mire is one of the last areas in the east that has not been taken by them. Lunemark is friendly to us, but it would take you at least a week to reach Easthold from there. Not to mention you'd be very near the Tower of Silence itself. It would take twice as long from Drothen's Hollow, and Lomar is another one of their large bases. You would have to travel around it via the Archback Mountains, or you could steal a boat from there. That would be extremely risky, however.
Of course, these are just suggestions. If anyone else has any ideas on how to reach the Disciples, then it might be best if you formulate your own plans…"
He stops and thinks for a moment. "In truth, we could do with assistance retaking Pine Pass. I don't trust those cretins to do it themselves one bit. If you lead my fighters to Pine Pass and negotiate a surrender out of Lord Meris, then you will be rewarded. I am the king. It is in my power to grant you all titles if you so wish."
"Well, I've made my stance. I have no interest in helping with this. Of course, I'm sure everyone will disagree with me, so you don't need to worry about what I have to say in the matter."
Abenad pats Timber on the head. "I agree, I'm not terribly interested at the moment, either. We should go to the hall to get some food and mead, then have a good night's sleep and figure out what to do in the morning."
"Yes, perhaps rest would be in order."
"Well, there's no point in figuring out what to do later. We can just figure it out now."
"[font8]I'm going for it,[/font8]" she whispers to Gloria.
"Kivoda, do you prefer a mare's hair worn up or down?" she asks Kivoda, shaking out her hair wildly.
Abenad shrugs, "Or you can figure it out for me, and I can come back later."
He turns to Doom. "Sorry to be so careless, but there's more going on than your military conquest. Maybe once we've slain the immortals I can come back and be a captain, I'll be a monster-slayer already, so a military hero would be my next step." He backs out and gives the king a polite fun gesture before going to the food hall for some food and drink.
"I agree, we should figure this out now. I do not see why we should not assist Pine Pass. From there we would be able to pass through Torngrove and cross over Geldra River, giving us a straight shot to Easthold. If we assist Lord Doom then he could help us in our search for the other immortal souls." Gloria suggests, looking among the group for other opinions.>>667222
Gloria gives Tourmaline a thumbs up motion.
Maali leans over the table, glancing from Foom to the places in the map, trying to look like he's listening and in deep thought
''Uh…I will talk about what we'll do next with them, Master Doom…'' He speaks up, turning to the party>>667218>>667219>>667220
''But what about the reward he's promising?'' He whispers '' Idon't know if he really is in position to give us something great but we can get something really good from him, right?''
"I don't care for a position of power, I'm a soldier. I just want peace to come to Rin, and that's not happening with the Shells. Since I'd prefer to come back and not find the rest of Ortague in ruin, I'd suggest we help the Resistance a bit."
Galehaut says, before sitting,
"There is my stance, I would still like to rest."
"Well, even if we take Pine Pass, then it will still probably be faster and safer to teleport somewhere to get to Easthold. But, if you want to take it, then we can take it.">>667226
"A title would imply that I am a citizen of his kingdom. I am not. Nor do I wish to be. But, as I said, my stance is just one stance. If everyone else feels differently, then we will do what you want."
He pats the donkey on the side ''Then please sleep well mister Galehaut'' Giving the donkey a big smile, he takes a step back ''I don't know if anyone said this yet, but I am very thankful to have you with us''>>667228
''Maybe we could ask for something other than titles? I am not a citizen of Rin either…I think, but if he can give us a title, I'm sure we could ask for something else that would be more useful to us''
"You can," Timber shrugs. "I don't really care either way."
He groans ''Something that could help us in our quest even further Mister Timber! Don't you care about that?''
Abenad pauses on his way to the hall, then comes back to the planning room.
"Aaaalllright, let's go to Pine Pass," he says, "No harm in helping out."
Timber shrugs. "Save for the immortal souls, which are the very things we are hunting anyway, I haven't gotten any such thing to help in our quest yet, and I've been fine."
''Then what about the food that Doom is letting us eat? And the warm beds that Doom is letting us use to sleep?
Did you also forget that if it was not for Doom, we wouldn't have Mister Galehaut and miss gloria with us?''
"The beds are not welcome. The food is unnecessary, and our new allies make their own decisions."
Mouth slightly agape, maali glances to the others with a ''Can you believe this shit? I can't believe this shit.'' look
"Are you implying that Gloria and Galehaut do not have wills of their own?" Timber responds to the face.
''No but…They make their own decisions, sure but what does this was not what I meant… We would have not Met them
if it was not for Doom''
Galehaut looks to Maali,
"That's not true, you said you traveled through Ortague, and we're in the same country. It's not too hard for travelers to pass each other."
"Hm?" He turns to you wide-eyed. "Well, down, I suppose. Why do you ask? Are you trying a new look?" he asks innocently.>>667225>>667227>>667232
"Very well." If he is pleased, it does not show on his face. "If you will help, ride for the twin castles at Lucan's Bridge. Tell them I have sent you to reclaim Pine Pass. If, however, you come to make a different decision, then I will not hold it against you. Do as you will, soul-seekers. I have my own wars to fight." He clearly doesn't intend on holding audience any longer.
"Thank you, Galehaut," Timber nods to him. "A minor coincidence is no reason to be thankful toward someone. Doom did not put together some elaborate event for us to meet. We happened to be there and Doom just pointed out that we were near each other."
"As for Gloria, she was a researcher looking for a way to help. She would surely eventually have found out about us and sought us out to help when we presented ourselves as the best option that we are. Even she was not handed over to us by Doom. She chose to come with us after Doom presented the option."
''Y-yes but…There would be a very small chance we would meet still, or that we would even pass by eachother, and even if we did, we might not even notice too! Rin is a big country!''
His face scrunches up slightly>>667240
''Um…W-we can ask for something other than a title yes? I don't really fit the title of a 'Glorious Knight'…'' He looks down at himself, then back at Doom
''Well… I-I…'' glancing down, his eyes move rapidly as he tries to think of a response…
His ears fold back as his expression goes sour ''Okay, fine… I suppose you're right…'' kicking the ground, he looks away from Timber
Abenad pats Doom on the head. "You're surely doing what you can to bring peace and life back. At the end of the war there's sure to be green grass, blue skies, and red apples on the trees."
Gloria nods, giving Doom a salute before looking to the others.>>667238>>667239
"I'm sure one day Dreamcoat's intents would have caught my attention if we had not met… Seeing that you knew him before, we would have probably crossed paths.">>667241
"If it wasn't me, it would have been one of my other brethren stationed in Rin.">>667242>>667243
"Maali, does this talk of our chance of meeting really bother you? I really don't see the point since we've met and we both have the same goal." She gives the deer a smile and a pat on the back.
"Come on, let's go get a meal. I think you'll relax after that." She says, heading off to the mess hall for a bite to eat.
"Well, I always wear a helmet, but how do you prefer my
hair when I'm not?" she asks. >>667225
"Am I doing this right?" she whispers desperately.
"Thank you for the directions," Timber says to Doom with a head nod.
"We still have some daylight. And, I fear that our mission on the island may be on a limited time based on the fire that Maali saw in his vision. So, we shouldn't waste it.">>667243
"I don't dislike Doom or his kingdom," Timber says in a voice of reconciliation. "I simply dislike being applied forced citizenship due to the fact that I am coincidentally living within an uninhabited area within what he claims to be his borders."
I forgot to add that Timber goes back outside, ready to go.
''N-no it does not bother me it was just…T-timber was being… And I-Hmmgh…okay…Okay okay I'm going'' He slumps>>667247
''Okay…I was just a bit upset that you were not appreciating the help we received from DOom is all…'' his gaze still rests on the floor
Galehaut to heads to rest with the Ortague survivors, not caring for discussion.
"His 'help' is provided specifically so that he can claim ownership over me. He's already attempted to before. He told me I was his citizen because I lived in his shelter and was protected by his armies. If his help comes with such a price, I am not interested in it."
"You're doing good. See if you can get him to ask about how clean your tail looks too." She whispers over.
''W-well… I don't blame him so much for wanting to keep you or any of us around''
He starts Climbing Timber ''You are a strong warrior, many armies would like to have you''
''But yes, let us forget this talk, its not getting us anywhere. Let's go rest and eat''
"As I said," Timber responds as Maali crawls onto his back. "We still have daylight and I fear that your vision may be an indicator that we are on a time limit to reach the island. I don't wish to waste time if we don't have to."
''Yes, you're right…'' He leans against Timber's head and mane, worry showing on his face ''I hope we are not on a time limit…But if the message was sent by someone who controlled that serpent to do so, then whoever it was must be very powerful…And the fact that it did… That to me and my necklace just makes it more important for me to find out who was it''
"If titles do not suit you, then whatever is in my power to grant you I will.">>667244
His face turns to stone, and he instinctively puts one hoof on his sword hilt. "Touch your king again and you lose the hand," he says coldly.>>667246
"Well, I'd say the same," he replies bluntly. "Although I think you'd look good with a braid. Why don't you try that?">>667245>>667250
You find the stronghold rather empty. Apart from a few faces you recognize, it's practically empty>>667250
You make your way to the barracks and lie down for a bit. You can't seem to find your friends. Presumably they are off on missions of their own.>>667245
The mess hall is woefully devoid of food, save for a few baskets of fruit and some slightly stale loaves of bread.>>667248
You leave the stronghold and wait for your companions by the crystalline pond. You can see a plaque affixed to a stone nearby.
THE DREAMING SPRING
Drink, gentle stranger, and be welcome.
Those of evil will beware.
Timber pauses. "I hadn't considered that. You're right. For someone to find a way to use such a powerful creature just to send a message… That's a great deal of power - or at least knowledge. Even if their abilities and intelligence are localized in just the area of dealing with animals, that's still a very impressive individual. What help would they need from us? Perhaps the message was not for help at all? Could fire indicate some other meaning?"
Abenad retracts his hand and shrugs, before going to the mess hall in earnest to get some food before going to the barracks and getting some sleep in.
Galehaut sighs, working on his puzzle box.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"But that's promiscuous!" she protests.>>667256
She looks frustrated. "Where have all those nice things you were saying about me earlier gone?" she mutters. "How good would I look? Prettier than anything you've seen in the desert?"
Timber reads the plaque and curiosity consumes him once more. He drinks from the spring.
"Well… Not much around here… I suppose I could do with some bread and fruit." She says, looking for a way to prepare her No-Bake bag and take a piece of fruit to fill herself.
"So, what do you suppose we'll find on that island?">>667260
"Make sure he's talking about the health of your hair and not anything else, that's how you get them." She defends.
He nods ''Thank you, Master Doom''
Once at the mess hall with the others, he takes a bowl of fruits and bread for himself
''Maybe it is just that everyone else ate before us…Or that this place is low on supplies… But I was expecting a bit more than just bread and fruits…'' He chews the bread
''What wouldn't I give for some honey…''>>667257
''Hmn…If the one who wanted to send the message if from my tribe, then maybe…Fire can mean many things… Power, love, passion and of course, warmth, and like the other three elements: Life…''
He cross his arms, laying on top of Timber's mane, pondering ''But that might not matter, because in my vision, what I literally saw was the tree on fire, so…It might not have been a metafore''
Abenad decides to not sleep, and instead unloads his equipment, wandering the fortress and finding himself at the Dreaming Spring.
"Greetings, Timber," he says, sitting next to the spring and reaching in for a handful of water, drinking it all at once and licking his lips before having another handful, "Shame there's no good food in here, especially since it's a king's stronghold. No good alcohol in these lands- haven't seen hide nor hair of mead or cider."
''Hello, Mister Abenad'' He waves at the cervitaur ''Didn't the traveling salesman who we met a few times before sell something like that? If not…We could ask if Doom has any tomorrow, right?''
"If he did I would have bought it!" Abenad grumbles, "I remember drinking jugs and mugs of the sweetest ciders, meads, and perry."
"'Metaphor'," Timber absent-mindedly corrects the (I assume) incorrect pronunciation of the word.
"THE tree?" Timber asks about the wording with more purpose suddenly. "Did you recognize the tree?">>667264
"That's fine," Timber responds. "I was hoping to leave soon anyway."
''Well…Cider is made with apples, right? I can get you apples! Do you know how to make cider? Or wine, with grapes!''>>667267
''I do recognize the tree…I saw some like that growing in my home…Though that one was huge''
Timber ponders for a moment. "Where WAS your home?" he asks without much tact.
"No, I don't know how to make it, that knowledge was forbidden to all but the Applemancers."
''Well… It was in a big forest… We had great hills nearby, and on the south, there was the ocean… do you have a map?''>>667270
''Ehehe…What a silly name… Well, hopefully we can find somewhere that still sells tose in the cursed land of Rin…''
"Oh, no, the Tome of Ciderlord is held in a secret academy where the Applemancers go to learn and memorize their trade, before returning to their towns. They were bound to secrecy, and their drinks would have been the first to go."
''Oh…'' He stops giggling ''And all that just for ciders?…Wow…''
"Hey you take that back, cider's the best thing in the world, I won't be taking any shittalking about it, you hear?"
''I-I'm not!'' He hides a bit behind Timber's head ''I just said I did not expect it to be that important…Sorry''
"I do," Timber says, as he pulls out the map with the markings of guesses as to where Immortal Souls might be.
"You said you lived in a forest? Did the trees there get very large? I mean like the size of the one you saw in your vision. I would imagine not. Trees often have limited space to grow and limited resources to gather in forests since there are so many other trees around. If one tree does become significantly greater than the others, than it's usually as a result of being in a clearing."
"But, you said this tree was alone?"
He leans close to the map
''Yes, I lived in a forest most of my life…And no, no trees ever got that big in the forest… And yes, that was the only tree in the island…''
he points to the map ''This blue here is the sea right? My forest must be here then'' His hoof taps Midwood
After some fiddling, you finally manage to solve the puzzle. Inside is a single diamond almost the size of your hoof. As far as you can tell, it is completely flawless, worth a small fortune. It is resting on top of a crumpled up note with a remarkably well drawn ink portrait of a female Diamond Dog. The caption reads "For Elizabeth". There also seem to be flower petals inside, although they have long since withered away and lost their color.>>667260
"Well, that wouldn't be saying much," he chuckles as he makes his way out of the fort to rejoin the rest of the party. "There's not exactly much room for great beauty in the Shifting Sands. But don't take that the wrong way! You're certainly very pretty. There's no comparison there…" He blushes slightly and trails off, not knowing what to say next.>>667262
There is still a fire pit burning low. You manage to prepare 6 loaves of No-Bakes and take a large, ripe-looking apple before joining the rest of the party outside.>>667261>>667264
The water is incredibly refreshing, and has a pleasantly sweet taste to it. You feel like a great burden has been lifted.
Galehaut examines the contents, before sealing the contents back inside the puzzle box, putting it back in his bag.
"You're probably long gone, but I'll see if I can find you Elizabeth."
Galehaut says to himself, before looking for the party and finding the fire, joining the crew. He sits,
"We leave tomorrow?
Abenad yawns loudly. "Haaaum. You know, I keep thinking that this is a nice place to come back to, but then I remember how terrible it is."
He heads off to the barracks to get some sleep for real this time.
He yawns as well ''Good night mister abenad, sleep well'' He smiles and waves
"Midwood…" Timber ponders. "I don't believe you've ever outright said to be what happened. But, I've pieced together that there was a fire. They're a common and necessary part of any forest. But… Midwood is thick. It must have been a strong fire…"
Timber trails off. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to dredge up the past. But, do you know what started the fire?">>667278
Fucking timeskip us leaving now or leaving tomorrow. I don't care anymore.
"Is that aaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllll
?" she asks, getting close to him.
"First thing in the morning." Gloria says to agree.>>667281>>667282
Gloria listens in while eating her meal.
''It was… a very fierce fire… And no mister Timber, I dont know what started it…''>>667284
He smiles and waves at her from atop of Timber
Gloria returns with her own smile and wave. "Feeling tired there?" She asks.
"…No. Not all. I… I really like you. More than most ponies, I mean. I just… I just think you're so pretty, and headstrong… I… I'm sorry. You probably think I'm awful. don't you? I'll just be quiet now. Forget I said anything." He turns even redder and tries not to meet your gaze.>>667279>>667280>>667281>>667282>>667284>>667283
You take the opportunity to get some well-earned rest at the stronghold.
Timber's sleep is haunted by dreams of terrible battles, foes coming together in a rush of steel and shadow, green tree leaves blowing in a storm across a blood-streaked sky.
Abenad dreams of a banquet of slaughtered corpses, strewn across overturned chairs and hacked tables. Severed hands and hooves clutch bloody cups and wooden spoons, and the one at the head of the table feasts on his own eyes.
You leave at daybreak, traveling quickly due south towards Lucan's Bridge. The rain seems to have passed now, and the sun is shining brightly in the sky above.
You are travelling on a dirt road through a grassy valley. An offstream of the Broad River runs through it, rushes growing along the shore as the little creek snakes westwards. Trees are plentiful in this part of Rin, with a small cluster of them growing along the road. As you walk, you see that some of them have been cut down. Judging from the tracks in the grass, they are also being hauled somewhere.
In the distance, just off the beaten path, you can see the wooden framework for some sort of structure. It looks like a chapel under construction. You can hear anvils banging, nails being hammered, and the lively chatter of a group of ponies. There is a faint smell of soup in the air. It seems like there is a settlement under construction in that direction.
"No need to bother them, correct? We should move forward."
Abenad is in a bad mood all morning, but brightens up in the grassy valley. "This is rather nice," he says, despite the chopped down trees. As they approach the church structure, he nudges Galehaut.>>667288
"Do the shells worship at places like this?"
Gloria stretches her wings and takes in a deep breath when she's finally on the road in bright sunny weather once more. "Finally, no more rain. I hope it stays that way for awhile…">>667288
"I do not see a reason either. That soup does smell good however…" Gloria mentions, looking towards the scent of the soup.
"They do not have churches, if anything this a church of my patreon."
"I'd like to know who could and would build a settlement during these times. If it's Shells, they could use it as a foothold. If it's not, then they are liable to be attacked by Shells and then it's a foothold anyway. It wouldn't hurt to at least warn them of the dangers they are imposing on themselves."
Timber heads toward the town-in-making.
"Ah, one such as myself would not be welcome, godless as I am," he says, folding his arms with a distant look in his eyes.
Before the timeskip, Tourmaline nudges Kivoda's cheek with the tip of her nose.
After the timeskip, she nods to Galehaut and figures it's best to move on.
"Not true, ponies are still ponies, or what you are in this case. Belief does not alienate us, just look between me and Gloria.">>667292>>667287
Galehaut follows, seeing as someone's already going in.
Abenad pulls his hood up and follows.
''Just a little bit…'' he rubs his eyes
''We did a lot these past days… I would love a rest''>>667287>>667288>>667290
''No sir. Let us keep going, And I can make a soup just as good I'm sure!''>>667292
''I'm sure they might be already aware of it Mister Timber…''
"I'll take you up on that then." She replies.
"That's what I'm hoping for. If they are aware of the situation, then they have armed forces to protect themselves. Those armed forces could help fight at Pine Pass."
''I just need mushrooms, carrots and maybe even a few potatoes and milk''>>667300
''Well…Let us at least make it brief please''
"Well if we're going to be taking a moment, then why don't we find out if someone is willing to sell us some milk while we're here."
You leave the road and go down to investigate, passing a large goldenrod earth pony chopping wood fiercely. He has his back turned to you, but for some reason he seems familiar.
As you travel downwards, you can see that it's not just the chapel being built, but several other buildings have had their foundation laid for later construction. There are large tents pitched acting as the settlers' homes, and you can see a nearby makeshift food stand where some of the workers are being served the soup you smelled earlier. There are two groups of earth ponies carrying felled tree trunks between the three of them, heading in the direction of the soon-to-be chapel. The overall mood of the place is jarringly welcoming compared to the rest of Rin. It feels like this place has been left untouched by the terrors of the outside world.
One pony, a reddish brown stallion with a thick beard and a salt and pepper mane, seems to be the one in charge judging from his supervision of the construction. You notice that he is wearing a pendant in the shape of the All-In-One, signifying his status as a priest. His face is lined with age and small scars, and he walks with a slight limp. He looks kindly, however, a real salt of the earth type of pony. "Come on, put yer backs into it!" he says with a smile to one of the wood-carrying groups before noticing you approach. As you approach, he walks up to greet you with a friendly smile on his face. "Welcome, welcome! Blessings of the All-In-One on ye, friends!" the priest booms, crossing his front hooves in front of his body in a religious gesture. "How can we help ye? Do ye need food? Shelter? We've got plenty of both."
"All-in-One bless you. We need neither, we are passing through, wanted to see what was being constructed here."
"Blessings upon you, kind priest. I am Gloria." She introduces herself with a polite bow. "Thank you for your offer, but we're just passing by. Although, you wouldn't happen to sell any milk, would you?" She asks with a smile.
Abenad nods at the priest. "We are on a quest," he says, "But as you may be aware, food has been rather scarce- in fact we were with quite a figure yesterday, but his offerings were unfortunately meager."
"Would you perhaps be willing to trade a noontime meal for some work, or allowing me to eat while you tell me of your religion? I haven't thought of it much as of late, but I'd like to have something to hold onto in these trying times."
Timber stares at the stallion with confusion. "Are you aware of how close you are settling to a stronghold currently held by the Shells of Light?" he asks, genuinely not sure if they do know.
''Ooh thats a good idea!''>>667303
He waves his hoof ''Thank you, um…Blessings of Gaia to you as well, mister!''
"Well, we're rebuilding the world, is what we're doing. One step at a time, of course. Just because we're undead, doesn't mean it has to be doom and gloom all the time. Someone has to keep the torch lit. We can't die, so why moan about it?"
His eyes linger on your dyed uniform for a moment, acknowledging the All-In-One emblazoned on your tabard. "Are ye a holy man, sir?">>667305
"Sell? Har! What good is gold nowadays? We do have some milk. At least I think we do. Yer welcome to take some with ye on yer quest, wherever it is yer going." He nods and smiles. "You can call me Brother Fateful. Charmed, I'm sure.">>667306
"Well of course we'd share our food! We were just about to have a meal break. Ye and yer friends are welcome to stay for lunch," Fateful replies. "As for work, it would be appreciated. We have many workers here, but we could always do with more. Especially a big feller like ye." He chuckles.>>667308
He looks surprised to see you. "Now that's an unusually small deer. Where does one find such an unusually small deer?" he chuckles. "Only ever seen one other like ye, long ago. Yer from Midwood, I take it?">>667307
"Shells?" he responds in confusion. "They don't bother us these days. Not since those Resistance types moved in to Lucan's Bridge. It's a good thing too. We don't have any steel, save for our brother over there. Stubborn one, he is." He nods in the direction of the wood chopper you noticed earlier. "Violence is a disease. Ye don't cure a disease by spreading it."