>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Despair. Dusk.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party claimed two Immortal Souls at Mount Venn after bringing peace to the sorceress Tascheter and slaying the creator of the curse, Dreamcoat; however, as they did so, a spirit seemed to possess the archmage's corpse, an eerie red and gray mist animating him like a grotesque marionette before dissipating as the body was cut down again. While possessed, the entity that possessed Dreamcoat's body thanked the party for "cutting its strings", although the true meaning of this is as of yet unclear.
After this portentous event, the party reunited with their companion Kivoda and began making their way back towards safety in the form of the Dreaming Spring, where King Doom's hideout can be found. On their travels, they narrowly escaped a crew of Changeling pirates as their ship was attacked by a sea serpent seemingly controlled by an outside force. Upon touching the serpent, Maali received a prophetic vision guiding him to an ancient tree to the islands of far east, where a sect known as the Disciples of Order are known to reside. Several days of relatively uneventful travel have passed since, and the party find themselves returning under cover of night to report to the Resistance leader on their adventures in the north-western reaches of Rin…
>Tourmaline is at 11/6>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>>676262>>676263>>676264>>676265>>676266>>676267
The sun is setting on the horizon and darkness is closing in as you arrive at the peaceful birch glade known as the Dreaming Spring. The large, vine-covered monolith that stands in its center blots out the sun as you approach the inconspicuous boulder that marks the entrance to Doom's hidden stronghold. It has been roughly two weeks since last you visited this place, yet it feels like much longer with everything that has happened during your travels. As you know well by now, the only way to enter the stronghold is to knock twice on the boulder, then three times more; then, when asked for the password, you are to give the single phrase written on a piece of parchment hidden in the surrounding bushes.
"Finally," Kivoda sighs in relief as you arrive, eagerly rushing over to the crystal clear pond that is the place's namesake to take a drink. "I thought we'd never get here. The days seem to stretch on forever when you're on the road.">roll if you're going to search for the parchment
Abenad knocks on the door. "Knock knock!"
Galehaut finds the hidden passcode.>Supreme Survivor: passive; automatically passes all spot checks, autocrits on jump, climb and other traversing checks.
Timber knocks twice on the boulder, pauses, then knocks three more times.
She practices the fine art of waving a katana around like a retard.
With a heavy sigh, the tiny cervine joined Kivoda for a drink of the pond ''You know, I have been thinking the opposite, Mister Kivoda.'' He raises his head, droplets of water falling from his chin
''Compared to my travels alone, traveling with all of you have made the days go by much faster''
Maali looks for a dry spot to sit on, relaxing while waiting for the others to open the way ''Your company really make this much more uh… Bearable'' He smiles to the party
''Um… Miss Tourmaline maybe you could do that in the training room?'' The deer speaks up with worry
''I think I will go there with Miss Gloria to train later, you could join us''
"Mmm… I don't quite feel like it. There's something in the air that makes this feel right."
Gloria glows with hope and faith (figuratively), having been invigorated knowing the party is still closer to their goal of cleansing Rin of the curse. She decides to take a water break to refresh herself.
She lets out a sigh of relief, wiping away the water from her beak. "I'm just glad we are safe. We've been through quite the ordeal as well. It would feel nice to relax in the training grounds and take a nice hot bath…" She says, the last part mostly to herself.>>676275
Gloria smiles in return. "The feeling is mutual, Maali.">>676277>>676276
"It would be pretty fun to see your combat skills up close and personal." Gloria says to Tourmaline.
''The air here?… Well I see what you mean. But if you change your mind, we will be waiting there, right miss Gloria?''>>676278
''I agree. If we know eachother's weakness and strenghts, it will help us in fights in the future''
There's no response from the other side. Presumably they know better than to answer just anyone that comes knocking.>>676272
You eventually find it, tangled up inside a thorny bush. Luckily, your metal gauntlets protect you from harm. The parchment simply has the word 'Aegis' written on it in messy black ink.>>676274
Kivoda looks up from his drink to watch you practice for a moment. He looks rather amused.>>676275>>676278
The water is incredibly refreshing, quenching your thirst with just a sip.>>676275
He smiles gratefully. "Well, I'm just glad you've all accepted my company for the time being," he answers. "I would've perished many times by now if I hadn't met you.">>676273
A gruff voice answers you after a moment as you use the secret knock. "What's the password?" Galehaut shows you the parchment he's found; today's password is Aegis. As you give it, there is a brief pause before the boulder is moved to the side to allow entry.>>676271>>676272>>676273>>676274>>676275>>676278
There are three guards on duty today, all earth ponies in mismatched plate armor carrying torches. Two of them salute you silently as you enter and make your way down the main corridor to the mess hall where Doom can normally be found. It is more crowded than usual, with both of the two long benches almost full with Resistance members of all shapes and sizes tucking in for dinner. It mostly consists of a disparity of fruits, large bowls of vegetable soup, wheat and hay for the equines at the table, and two whole roast boars to serve to the carnivores. Drinks consist of water, ale, fruit juice, and mead.
Near the back of the room, on a rectangular dais, is another table with a tattered, faded banner of the ten-headed serpent of Rin hanging behind it. Scarred, stone-faced Doom sits in the center, watching his would-be subjects over a mug of ale. On his immediate right sits the side-whiskered, yellow-cloaked bat pony Regulus, his second in command. On his left is an empty chair, presumably where Dreamcoat once sat. There are three or four other ponies at the table, but you do not recognize most of them; presumably, they are among Doom's most trusted. One in particular stands out, that you have never seen before: a sky blue, austere-looking crystal pony with a roughspun robe and chains across her chest. Tourmaline, Maali, Timber Hoof and Abenad would recognize this as being the usual garb of the Disciples of Order. Unlike other Disciples, the chains she wears are brass instead of iron, her robe is gray instead of brown, and she wears a large wide-brimmed hat.
Doom seems to be exchanging words with Regulus for a moment, but as you enter he stops to look at you, stopping mid-sentence to give you his full attention. The chatter in the room quiets down as they notice his gaze, and you can feel everyone looking at you with curiosity and expectation. "The Seekers of Souls have returned," he declares after a moment in his usual gravelly voice. "What news comes from your travels? I pray that it can only be good."
"The betrayer mage and his former subject have been slain."
Abenad stands proudly before the table, arms crossed with a smug look on his face. "Indeed, we have laid to rest Tascheter and slew Dreamcoat to his surprise atop a mountain peak. "Might I ask who this representative of the Disciples of Order is?"
"The creator of the curse, as well as one of his subjects, has been slain. We have claimed their souls." She reports, bowing to Doom as a sign of respect and greetings.
"Why do I feel like you're just buttering me up?" she says gloomily.>>676280
She swishes her tail over Kivoda's face. "Want to help me? How good are you at standing still?"
"We have acquired two Immortal Souls," Timber reports simply as he looks at each of the individuals sitting at Doom's table.
"While they have imparted power upon us, I have found it to be… underwhelming. I suppose my expectations were set a bit too high. But, it has been made abundantly clear that the Immortal Souls definitely CAN end the curse."
He walks over the crystal pony Disciple. "You are a member of the Disciples of Order, are you not?" he asks abruptly. He then follows this action up by cordially extending his hoof. "My name is Timber Hoof. If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you some questions."
''Don't worry abou it. We all protect eachother. So what are you going to do today after we report back to Doom? Have a well deserved rest, bath and meal?''
He waits until the others are done to continue
''But after we claimed the souls… On our way, we were… Well captured, by a group of changelings that were traveling by ship. We would have been taken, but a giant sea serpent monster attacked the ship, and then made some kind of mental contact with me. It touched my mind and told me about a great tree in the east islands.''
''Master Doom, I would like to go there as soon as I possibly can. Whoever sent that serpent to speak to me must be very powerful, and must know things very important to me''>>676284
''That's gross… You're not a piece of bread, miss Tourmaline!''
Gloria shrugs to Tourmaline. "Sparring is just fun to me. We should get to know each other better too, considering the journey we will be traveling together."
"No, but I am a vegetable.">>676287
"I'm a bit shy about that."
"That's rude to vegetables."
"Well, if you're uncomfortable about it then you don't have to."
"I don't think now is the best time," he says rather nervously as everyone watches.>>676281>>676283
An excited murmur suddenly fills the room as you report Dreamcoat's death. Doom seems less grim than usual. He is about to speak, when Maali reports the incident with the changelings.>>676286
At the news of the events aboard the Silence
, Doom loooks troubled. Then again, he always looks troubled. "Reinforcements for the Shells' growing army, no doubt," he muses. The Disciple looks at you wide-eyed at the mention of the great tree.
After everyone is done speaking, the murmur grows into a loud chatter, which quickly fades away as Doom rises and holds up his hooves. "Words cannot express the service you have done to this land, Soul-Seekers. You have lifted a great burden from us all. Were these easier times, I would grant you lands, titles, whatever you desire for your act of valor. If there is something you wish of me, I will grant it if it is in my power." He motions for you to approach, offering you a seat at his high table. "For now, you may help yourselves to what little food and drink we have. It is the least we can do for your actions." The usual drone of the reistance fighters covnersing resumes.>>676282
"I am Lapis of the Shallow Brigade," she answers as you approach, "Second Speaker to the Earthmover. I am here to advise the future king in his time of need, although my time here is running short now that you have arrived.">>676285
"I am," she answers, shaking your hoof. "We have met before. I advised you to make haste to my people some time ago. I understand that you have been occupied. Now that you have returned, this should be a priority," she explains. "There is a monolith on our central island. I will be going there at dawn. You and your companions should do the same, especially now the Earthmover has chosen one of them." She glances at Maali.
"Well hey, there's plenty of time for you to tell us about anything important about… wherever you're from and whatever you do." He purses his lips and strokes his chin. "You do seem somewhat familiar, but I can't place it, myself."
Timber smiles as he shakes her hooves. "This is exactly what I wanted to talk to you about. As you've pointed out, it has indeed become our top priority on top of being our only solid lead at the moment."
"Are you referring to Maali as an Earthmover, or is that some sort of deity? And what do you mean it's chosen one of 'them'. One of who? And, for what?"
"Thank you, Lord Doom. I do not need anything in return, my only reward is seeing this land cleansed of the curse." Gloria says, rejecting the need for a reward. She decides to take his offer to sit and eat however, considering she had to eat nothing but bread for a good while.
Upon hearing Lapis speak of a "chosen one", Gloria's attention shifts from her meal to Lapis. "Chosen one of them? What exactly are you talking about, Lapis?" She asks with curiosity.
"Ah, tonight then? Excellent; the darkness shall add a challenging element to the fray."
She leads Kivoder off to go get some food.>>676290
"It may be I'm just tired of all the fighting we have done lately."
Galehaut dines, but otherwise does not contribute to conversation at the time being, rather preferring listening instead.
"The Earthmover sent us to aid the injured in the aftermath of one of Doom's great battles," she replies. "We have crossed paths before, I believe, although I did not know your significance at the time.">>676293>>676294
"Our leader and benefactor," Lapis answers. "If he has reached out to one of your own, it is plain that he has plans for him. What he wants, I could not say. It is not my place to interpret our benefactor's will, only to speak it as he does to me. Your friend has a great role to play in the wars to come." She looks reluctant to elaborate for now.>>676295
You both help yourselves to some of the food at the table, sharing a bowl of apples. They seem fresh enough, no more than a few days old. Kivoda also helps himself to some mead, offering to pour you some.>>676296
You listen in to the conversation between your companions and the Disciple known as Lapis, tucking into some hot vegetable soup. It's quite tasty, considering the living conditions of Doom's people.
"Well, believe me, I'm quite significant in these events," Abenad says, sitting down and getting a bowl of soup with a cup of mead, "I'm definitely the one getting things done in our group."
"I would like to hear what this role is… we have a duty to fulfill together as a team, I will be there to help him." She says, still curious about what "role" Lapis mentioned. Gloria dines with Lapis as they converse, feasting on some boar.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"I see," Timber says as he takes a seat and eats an apple. "Does the Earthmover often send massive sea serpents which sink the ship the recipients of his messages are sailing on? I apologize if that sounds rude. I'm just trying to determine if what Maali saw definitely was a message from the Earthmover."
Galehaut mumbles, listening to the conversation.
She drinks some thoughtfully, then rolls her tongue at the weak-ass drink.
"I know this now," he replies, idly stirring her own soup bowl as she waits for it to cool down. "You all are. You are the Seekers of Souls, who will put an end to the curse consuming this land. It is known.">>676299
"I am sorry, Ashbringer. I do not know my master's plan for your friend. If I were to conjecture - although it is hardly my place to do so - I would imagine that there is some knowledge that he must learn, or a power the Earthmover wishes to impart upon him. It is said that our benefactor can see the past, present and future, and project his mind into lesser beings. You have seen the extent of his power already. Perhaps he wishes to share this power. It is plain, however, that he will have to leave you for a time. I understand that this is a difficult position for your companions to be in, but it is the Earthmover's will.">>676300
She blinks in surprise, looking rather flustered all of a sudden. "I… I am sure my master would have delivered you to safety in some manner. No harm would have come to you. Noradzir.">>676301
You keep listening in, making sure to catch everything that's being said between your companions and Lapis.>>676302
"It's not to your liking?" he asks in concern. "Shame. I think it's pretty good." He finishes his mug thoughtfully. "You know, as vile as Dreamcoat was," he says all of a sudden, "he sure did have an impressive collection of books. Perhaps there's something useful left in his office, if there's anything left of it at all…"
"If this truly is what must happen… then I can only hope the light will protect him during his 'leave'. Please, promise me he'll be safe at least." She requests.
Abenad feels somewhat melancholy after getting back from their most recent adventure, thinking about the sudden death of Dreamcoat and what could have happened had he survived. He quietly drinks his mead and eats a fair share of soup throughout the night.
"As I said, I don't mean to judge him," Timber replies cordially. "I'm just trying to be certain of what is happening."
Timber continues to eat contently.
"I will go look at Dreamcoat's office, if you do not mind."
Galehaut says, finishing his soup,
"I do not like to sit idle."
"I don't want to touch anything he's ever touched. Best we just forget him."
"Do not worry. Your friend will be safe and sound in our care. It will not be the end of your adventures together.">>676306
"There is no other possible explanation for this," Lapis answers. "Our benefactor drove off the brigands that wished to harm you, and now Maali must have audience with him. The Earthmover wills it.">>676308
You finish your dinner and go to have a look around his old office. Most of it has been removed by now, and there is little left of his workplace save for the bookshelves. Even those have had several books destroyed or removed. The books inside seem to be mainly history books, especially considering the lineage of the alicorn kings, from Adin the Conqueror all the way to the one you served before the advent of the curse, Endon III. There are also books concerning several magical artifacts, including the mythical Sword of Moonlight, which has been lost since the time of the third King of Rin, Lorn the Ancient. There is also much talk of the Sentinels of Ibergal that Kivoda is so fond of, and the eventual disbanding of their order.
Above all else, there are several books concerning a rumor-shadowed city known as Sarkomand. From what you can gather, the city does exist, but few travelers have ever seen it. The exact location of the land the city belongs to is unclear, although it is said to be far to the north. According to the books, there is little light in Sarkomand, and nothing is forbidden in it, however terrible or depraved. Warlocks, necromancers and shadow-binders are said to practice their arts openly in the city. It is understandable why Dreamcoat would have been interested in such a place. What disturbs you slightly is that there is talk of another place beyond Sarkomand that even the wretched enchanters of the dark city live in terror of, but the name and nature of the place are left undescribed. Perhaps this is for the best.>>676309
"Come on, aren't you curious to know what else he had up his sleeve? Not even a little? I'm sure there's something good to be found there." He seems rather let down by your refusal, and does not press the issue further.
>>676305>>676307>timeskipping, assuming everyone else is following
You finish your dinner and go to get some well-earned rest, sleeping soundly for the first time in a long while. The following day, at dawn, you leave the stronghold behind you and rendezvous with Lapis. She is sitting cross-legged by the monolith, whispering to herself as you approach. When you do so, she stands up and bows slightly. "I am glad you decided to listen to me. Now let us move." She offers her hoof so you may be teleported alongside her as she reaches out to the monolith and closes her eyes.
The cramped, gut-wrenching blackness that comes with warping is uncomfortable as ever, and leaves your head spinning as it clears up. When you recover, you find yourselves standing at the foot of a flight of rough cobblestone stairs leading to a tall wooden archway, engraved with images of ponies. It seems to be telling a story of some sort, but you cannot make out the details too well from here. Looking at your surroundings, you are standing halfway up a pale grassy hill, with no trees to be seen anywhere in sight. Behind you, the hill drops steeply to a stony gravel beach, and beyond is a great expanse of lapping waves. In the distance, far behind you, you can faintly see the outline of the Rin mainland. The smell of the sea is almost intoxicating, but Lapis does not seem perturbed by it. "Welcome to my home, Soul-Seekers," she says calmly. "This way, please. I will lead you to our hierarchs."
She follows along sleepily.
Gloria follows Lapis, still a bit queasy from the warp. "Urp… I don't think I'll ever get used to that…" She mumbles, swearing she has already said this before. She continues to carry the strangely still unconscious deer on her back, the strap holding her blade moved over wing to avoid having the deer lay on her blade.
Galehaut only the packs the history books written about rulers he lived under, a book on the Sentinels,and the one on the Sword of Midnight.>>676311
Galehaut staggers a bit from the warp, before following Lapis.
Abenad follows along, breathing in the salty air with pleasure. "Hrmm, what a unique feeling," he says, "To fill your lungs with the scent of the ocean. What kind of creatures live in these waters? Have you had any fish fries as of late?"
Timber looks around at their new surroundings. "That was certainly time-efficient," he says with a satisfied nod. "Could you imagine if we had to actually walk that whole way. Imagine the complicated combat and political situation of figuring out a way through all that Shell territory. That would have been terrible."
"What is the meaning behind these arches?" Timber asks as he climbs the stairs, pausing briefly to observe each one.
"Are you alright carrying him?">>676315
"I don't think I've seen any non-pony Disciples, so I doubt it."
"I'm fine, it only disorients me for a moment."
"Well when we get the chance, I'd sure like to go down to the shore and do some fishing, just a day or two of sitting down, doing nothing, and letting the water lap at my hooves."
"That sounds like a fine way to spend time once the curse is ended.">>676318
"I meant in general."
"Yes, I'm fine. Thank you for the concern." She says calmly.
"You could always wake him up," Timber says, looking at the sleeping Maali with a frown.
"Or tonight, depending on what's going on. I could go for a swim, even."
"He didn't wake up going through the warp, I don't think there's much I could do to wake him up myself after that."
Timber chuckles and nods his head thoughtfully. "Fair enough.">>676323
"Make sure you get ample rest. You never know when something might happen."
"Hm? Fish fries? What?" She seems confused, and maybe even a little offended. "No, of course not. We are not carnivores. The creatures of the sea are not for eating.">>676316
"It is the tale of our people," she explains solemnly, pointing out the carvings as you walk up. You notice that each individual step has a small decorative symbol carved on it, each one unique. They light up slightly as you step on them, presumably some form of magical ward.
"It is written that long ago, we lived in a land far from here, where everything was green and bountiful, and the land was protected by a musician whose enchanted pipe kept Chaos at bay. One day, the piper died, and of the three candidates to replace them, our people could not decide who to grant the instrument to. So divided and bitter did we become, that we listened to the advice of a mysterious stranger among the crowd. They suggested that the pipe be split into three parts, to give to the three candidates equally. With no true music to ward off the Chaos, we were forced to flee to this land. So began our sacred Order, keeping us all united so evil may never again sway our minds. Noradzir.">>676312>>676313>>676314>>676315>>676316
You trudge up the cobblestone steps, passing through the archway. You feel a strange tingling sensation as you pass through, briefly reminding you of the dark tunnel that is the entrance to the magic city of Jevel. On the other side, you find a large collection of round stone huts, with the roofs being made of large leaves of seaweed. The inhabitants of this place are all crystal ponies, many of them dressed in simple brown tunics. There are no children to be seen, many of the inhabitants being rather old. They stare at you with no small amount of curiosity as you pass by. "They are not used to seeing outsiders," Lapis explains as she strolls through. "Some of them have never seen anyone that isn't one of our own before, much less beings such as yourselves."
She leads you through the main settlement quietly, eventually crossing a sturdy rope bridge to one of the other islands. The building on the other side is an impressive sight, a large tiered wooden tower with multiple eaves. Two statues mark the entrance to the Shrine of Order, depicting a pony covered from head to toe in a long, flowing robe. "A depiction of the Earthmover," Lapis says. "None are allowed to look upon his true self, save for his First Speaker, who represents him in corporeal form. He is waiting for us inside."
There are two guards near the entrance, wearing the gray robe that Lapis wears, sans the hat and chains. She greets them with the usual "Noradzir," and they bow to her and open the sliding doors to the temple's entrance. The inside is rather dimly lit, with several wooden carvings depicting the Earthmover lining the ceiling. Paper lanterns hover suspended in midair, parting slightly as you walk in. Many more Disciples in full uniform are inside, kneeling in silent prayer but standing as you enter. At the back of the room, sitting upright on a throne far larger than themselves, is a figure draped in a hooded yellow robe that flows all the way down to the hard wooden floor. Presumably, this is the First Speaker, the acting leader of the Disciples.
"What do you mean, the creatures of the sea aren't for eating? Tell that to the other creatures of the sea!"
>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Loss. Early morning.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party returned to the Resistance stronghold at the Dreaming Spring and reported their achievement to Doom, who had regrettably little to offer in return save for high praises and a seat at his table of the most trusted. While taking the time to relax, they met a high ranking priestess of the Disciples of Order named Lapis, who knew of the vision Maali had experienced in the party's run-in with the Changeling reavers; it was a message from the Earthmover, hierarch of the Disciples, who wished to see him in person for reasons unknown. To this end, it was made clear that Maali would leave the party for a time, remaining in the custody of the Disciples. Before setting out, Galehaut took the opportunity to scour Dreamcoat's office, taking a few choice books off the shelves in case they might be useful in the future.
At dawn, the party met up with Lapis again, warping to the Shrine of Order in the far east. As they were guided through the ascetic settlement and to the temple at its heart, they noticed that most of its inhabitants were incredibly curious and perhaps a little intimidated by their presence; indeed, most of the islanders have never left their homes, making anyone that isn't of their own race a rarity among them. As they entered the temple, they beheld the acting leader of the Disciples, the First Speaker of the Earthmover…
>Tourmaline is at 11/6>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>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>676269
Sitting inside the temple is a smoky grey crystal pony, garbed in a long yellow silk robe that flows down past his wooden throne and drapes all the way onto the ground. His black-trimmed hood covers his eyes and forehead, leaving only the lower part of his face visible. In one hoof is a golden crook topped with the diamond symbol that represents their order. The throne itself is covered in ornate symbols, built to be much wider and taller than the average pony, dwarfing the already rather and frail-looking pony. Indeed, he moves little on his wooden throne, looking almost like a corpse upon first glance. Kneeling next to him are several other crystal ponies, dressed in a similar grey robe and wide-brimmed hat to Lapis.
Despite being blinded by his raiment, the crystal pony turns to face you as you enter, along with the other Disciples present who were until that moment kneeling in silent meditation. Kivoda looks extremely nervous at all the attention, freezing in place and going rather pallid. The robed pony's attention does not dwell on you for long, turning instead to Lapis, who averts her gaze and raises her hoof in silent greeting. The two converse for a while in their native, watery-sounding tongue. To your surprise, he has a soft, youthful voice, that of one barely grown. After a moment, he turns his attention back to the lot of you. "I am Morion Augur, of the Shallow Brigade," he says, "First of the Nine Speakers of the Earthmover." He speaks slowly and deliberately, as if it cost him greatly to speak in the common tongue. "The Second Speaker tells me you have slain the treacherous Dreamcoat, and claimed both his Soul and the mummer's Soul he created." He takes a deep breath. "Brave undead, if it is the Immortal Souls you seek to claim, then you will not find one among us any longer."
"We have held out for some time against the Shells through our sealing magic, but we are beginning to falter. Ever since the Soul was brought to us long ago, our people have prospered in the face of adversity. Not long ago, we were attacked by a threat unlike any we've ever faced. Undead, like all of us, banding together on stolen ships and raiding our settlement. We were able to fend them off, but not before they defiled our master's sanctum and took the Immortal Soul with them. The Earthmover was able to punish the transgressors in time, and show us where the Soul can be found, but the damage has been done. The Immortal Soul is no longer ours."
"We have a solution, however. The Shells used a certain substance from a foreign land to survive underwater and raid us from below. If you could somehow acquire the substance from them at their castle on the coast, we could provide transport into the open ocean and wait for your retrieval of the Soul. Regrettably, we will be of little assistance in the former matter. Ours are not the ways of war and deception.">>677007
The First Speaker then turns his attention to you. You can feel his gaze on you. There is a deafening silence in the room, then he speaks again. "And you. The Second Speaker has said much about you. That you have been blessed by our master, the Earthmover. If this is the case, then you will be granted a gift, tree child. You will have the honor of laying eyes on our illustrious benefactor. I do not know how long you will be with him, but you may have to be separated from your companions for a time." He turns to the Disciples in grey next to him, speaking to them for a moment. Their language sounds remarkably similar to your own, although you do not understand it. "You and your companions will stay here a time. Whenever you are ready, we will take you to the Earthmover's Sanctum. You may take your time."
"I am sure you have many questions for us, travelers," the First Speaker says to the group as a whole. "Now is the time to ask, before you embark on your journey."
Galehaut takes notice of the architecture, taking note of the aesthetics and how long it's been around. >Supreme Survivor: passive; automatically passes all spot checks, autocrits on jump, climb and other traversing checks.
Timber stares at the speaker for some time. "What do you mean The Immortal Soul is no longer yours? That seems a fairly deliberate choice of words."
This website has actually managed to get worse.
She shakes Kivoda a little. "What's the matter?"
The small cervine, no doubt the most petite among all in the room, seems almost as if he was about to stutter, but took a moment to breathe in and respond, his voice sounding clear with just a hint of his usual shyness. ''It will b-be a honor to meet the Earthmover. I thank our Mother and your benef-fa-factor for the blessing.'' With a little bow he takes a step foward
''And thank you, I will stay just a bit longer with my friends before I go. I want to say goodbye, Master Morion''
With that, he turns to the party>>677012>>677013>>677014>>677015>>677016
''Well… We won't see the other for a few moons…'' He glances down at his own hooves before looking up with timid resolve ''W-whatever it is that the Earthmove wants from me, I will try to do it right, so I can be back with you sooner! Alright?''
"Months, huh?" Abenad says, leaning back, breathing in. "Well, that'll be a real shame, it's been a pleasure traveling with ya, Maali. You've been the biggest lifesaver out of all of us- no doubt we'd all be dead several times without you."
"Good luck," Timber says with a nod.
"So… The soul has been lost with the ship that was carrying it?" Gloria asks, still not enjoying the thought of diving into the deep ocean.>>677017
"Just stay safe, Maali. Hold onto that book too, we still haven't read through it all yet." Gloria says with a soft smile.
"Don't perish whilst you are away, I've enjoyed your companionship."
''D-don't say that!'' He speaks up suddenly before taking notice of his tone of voice. Backing off, he picks up ''Please… You guys are strong. Even more now that we have taken Dreamweaver and Tascheter's souls. I know you will be fine on your own.'' he forces a smile>>677020
Maali raises a hoof to his bag, touching it lightly ''Yes, it is still here miss Gloria, and I already can't wait to go back to it with you. I'll miss that…''>>677021
Chuckling, he raises a hoof to the donkey ''And you better protect everyone while I am gone. Please''
"Do you think you'll be eaten?"
''Of course not! And I hope you were not hoping on that, Miss Tourmaline'' he peeks at the mare
''I mean, I would come back, because of the curse, but I am trying to avoid dying''
"I don't plan on stopping."
he says, nodding to him in respect.
The temple is dimly lit, mostly made of heavily polished wood. The doors and inner walls are made of a thin, paper-like material, sliding open rather than being fixed on hinges. The roof reaches up high, slanting up and out to create overhangs at several points. Despite the sheen everything seems to have, you feel that you are standing in an incredibly ancient place.>>677013
"It was recovered by us on an expedition shortly before the advent of the curse," he explains. "None dared claim it, lest they succumb to disorder, but it strengthened our magical prowess considerably with its sheer presence. With the Soul gone, it is only a matter of time before the Shells overrun us. We will go into exile before we let ourselves be captured by them. No doubt they are being influenced by the Great Other." He looks at you meaningfully, presumably referring to the transient alicorn Kether.>>677015
You monologue inwardly as you listen to the First Speaker.>>677016
He shakes his head, not giving an answer for now. He seems deeply affected by being in the First Speaker's presence.>>677017
"Take your time," he replies calmly. "It is imperative that you do whatever you must before going out to face your destiny.">>677020
"It has," he replies. "Retrieving the Soul will be no easy task, but you have survived many trials and tribulations thus far. For the sake of all Rin, you must succeed."
"There is another matter," he goes on. "Although we are not by nature a warlike folk, there are those among us who are more than capable warriors. To aid you in your travels, the Second Speaker will accompany you on your journey." Lapis looks shocked by this declaration, opening her mouth to protest. "The Earthmover wills it," he continues, speaking rather firmly. "I have no doubt that she will be an invaluable companion to you on your quest."
"If there is nothing else you wish to ask of us, the Second Speaker will escort you to your dormitories. Feel free to stay among us as long as is necessary. As the Seekers of Souls, it is our duty to provide everything you may require."
He nods back with a bright cheery deery smile>>677026
''It is fine, thank you. I tried to be as brief as I could. I'm ready''
"You think that the Shells are cooperating with death?" Timber asks, raising his eyebrows. "To what end? Though their goals seem fairly similar, The Shells act as if the fact that the curse will never end is a foregone conclusion. And, Death wants the curse to end."
"More importantly," Timber says, getting back on subject, "There's no reason to think that something else has already absorbed the soul? That's at least reassuring.
At the offer of staying, Timber shakes his head. "It's still early morning, we've just eaten and slept. Thank you for the offer, but we should make use of all the time we have as much as we can. So, the most important question now is where we go to acquire some of this substance which will enable us to breathe in water? Any insight you might have for us would be appreciated."
"Are there any concubines here?" Abenad asks, "I mean, you all probably feel pretty pent up, I'm sure there's someone here who's supposed to take care of that."
Galehaut looks to Lapis,
"What skills do you present to the group, if I might ask?"
"If they felt pent up, wouldn't that answer your question?"
"Thank you for all the assistance you're giving us. If it is fine with the rest of you, I would like to see our dormitories… we have some planning to do if we're going to get inside a Shell castle." Gloria says.
"Just an amusing thought.">>677026
"What are you offering? I have a feeling everything I want would be refused."
He shrugs. "Hey, I'm just asking."
"I would also like to welcome you to our group, Lapis. May the blessings of the light protect you while you follow us on our journey." Gloria says with a blessing of light to Lapis.
Timber looks between them then to Lapis. "Ah, YOU are the Second Speaker?" Timber asks. "I'm sorry, I didn't know. I suppose it should have been obvious considering the insight you seem to possess."
"Not cooperating," he answers. "They are being used to some end, a mere cog in his great plan. If he contacts you in your dreams, do not do as he says. It can only end in chaos."
He seems surprised at your refusal to stay for long, although it is hard to tell in his robe. "You are more diligent than I could have imagined," he says amusedly. "Very well. The closest Shell stronghold to here is Easthold-By-The-Sea, a few hours by boat from here. We believe they may have come from there. If you are to enter, it would b e wisest do so under cover of night. They must have some supply of the potion hidden somewhere. We can row you to shore, but can take you no further. The Second Speaker will be able to keep you alive, should violence break out.">>677029
There is a deafening silence in the room for a moment. "…No," the First Speaker says eventually, sounding rather irritated. "Of course not.">>677030
She doesn't answer for a moment, looking angry and confused by her sudden dismissal. "I… I know some healing magic, and I can hold my own in combat just fine… I'm sure I'll be of some use to you.">>677033
"We have little material possessions to offer, but our food and homes are yours, for as long as you need them. This is a place of respite, in the midst of all the disorder consuming this land.">>677035
"Thank you. I will do my best to help you on your travels, until the Earthmover sees fit to recall me.">>677036
She simply nods, looking rather bitter.>>677032
The First Speaker nods. "Every moment of planning is crucial for such a momentous task. Second Speaker, please show them away if they have nothing else to ask." Lapis nods defeatedly, motioning for you to follow.
"Very well," he says, sounding heavy-hearted. He turns again to the other Speakers next to him, and two of them come to escort you away, leading you through one of the sliding doors at the back of the room and outside.
You find yourself at the temple's rear exit, escorted across a long rope bridge leading to one of the many islands of the south-east. Unlike the other islands you have seen, this one is covered in vibrant green grass, with an enormous tree growing at the top. You immediately recognize the tree from your vision. With every step you take, you can feel a sort of presence nearby, something at the back of your mind telling you to keep moving. Eventually, you are led up a flight of stone steps leading to the base of the giant tree, and the Disciples that escorted you leave you completely alone. You are looking into a large, perfectly round tunnel leading under the tree. The wind is howling, ruffling your fur as you step inside.
The cave is strangely warm inside, illuminated by patches of bioluminescent fungi. The gnarled roots of the ancient tree are everywhere, covering the walls and the ceiling, looking like large veiny hands. There are other tunnels dug out, going deep into the island. What catches your attention the most, however, is the figure entangled in the roots. Much like the First Speaker, the Earthmover almost looks dead on first glance. He is not a crystal pony at all, but a deer of your kin. He looks pale and skeletal, garbed in black clothes that have long begun to rot. The roots around him embrace him as a mother does a child, grasping at his withered limbs tightly like wooden serpents. His antlers are enormous, twisting and melding into the roots as if they were a part of him. At some points, the roots have even begun to grow through him, poking straight through his fraying skin. His fur is long and white as bone, flowing like water. You can barely see the tribal markings that your kin sported, but they are present, glowing slightly like the fungi. You notice your amulet too is glowing bright blue with his presence, brighter than you've ever seen it before.
The Earthmover does not make any effort to welcome you; you can see that his eyes are rolled up in his skull-like head as if he were in a trance. Nevertheless, you hear his voice in your head, a hushed, dry voice like the crackling of autumn leaves. "Maali of the Guarira,
" he says, speaking in your native tongue. "I have watched you for a long time, watched you with a thousand eyes and one. I saw your birth, and that of your father before you. I saw your first step, heard your first word, was part of your first dream. I was watching when you fell. And now you are come to me at last, at the turn of the tide.
Gloria nods to Lapis and follows, giving Maali a wave goodbye before they both leave.
Abenad waves goodbye to Maali.
"Well, if we're going to be spending the day and night here, I'd like some line for fishing," he says, "There's sure to be some good fish out here, isn't there? Nice big tuna fish or salmon?"
"What the gods will, shall be done. We cannot hope to comprehend their plans, except for the betterment of all."
Galehaut begins to read about King Elstred the Unlikely in his history book, seeing if he can find any mention of The Moonlight Knight
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
She picks up Kivoda, considering that he is too unnerved to walk. She decides to find a place to rest until the others demand they move along.
Timber considers this new information, but says nothing.
"In that case," he says at last, "We'll at least spend the day her. We'll leave just before nightfall so that we can arrive in the dark with plenty of dark to spare."
"If you would be so generous as to spare some food for our trip, it would be appreciated," Timber says with a bow.
He looks back at the party one last time before going
The island and the tree, the sight of the pale elder buck, the voice in his mind. It was too much for the little deer; He tears up the moment the Earthmover makes contact with his mind and falls to his knees in prostation, his small body shivering as tears moist the ground below his chin
He replies with his mind. ''Thank you, for watching me and those before me. And thank you for your call. After all your wait, I am here, I am ready''
"We do fish on occasion," she admits, but it is only out of necessity of their resources. We do not eat them. You are welcome to do so if you wish, of course. One moment." She leaves for a few minutes, returning with a fishing rod.>>677044
"Of course," the First Speaker says. "It will be seen to that you are provided with everything you need for your journey.">>677041>>677042
According to your book (Chronicles of the Monarchs of Rin and Their Most Devout
by Withick of Irontown), Francois the Moonlight Knight was a masterful swordsman and anointed knight who served under King Elstred II, named "The Unlikely", due to being given the position of King due to being a distant relation of the previous king, Alton I the Good. Francois not only slew an Archdragon at The Funnel, naming his mighty sword Dawn, but also fought alongside his king during the second rebellion of the Stormenders, a family descended from the bastard son of an old king who claimed to be the rightful rulers of Rin. While the Stormenders were repelled, Alton perished in the final battle, his final action being to proclaim Francois to be the Grand General of the royal army, becoming the first ever donkey to have the title. He served the next king faithfully for many years, being present at the climactic battle of the third and final Stormender rebellion.
In his old age, Francois turned to history and religion, stepping down from his role as Grand General and living as a peaceful monk. He became restless, however, and set out on one final adventure to travel across Rin and the other nations in search of the legendary Sword of Moonlight that was his namesake, an artifact that according to your other book (Artifacts Lost To Time
, also by Withick of Irontown), was given to ponykind as a boon by Ytarr, the Aspect of God representing Hope and Despair. Francois was never seen again, believed to have perished in the attempt.>>677039>>677040>>677041>>677043>>677044
Begrudgingly, Lapis escorts you to your dormitories. The building you are in, much like other houses in the settlement, is a large rectangular affair made of rounded stone with a roof of dried seaweed. It is much more comfortable on the inside, however, with plenty of furniture and decorations. Among these are strings of orange and yellow water lilies, small bowls made of clam shells, and tiny stone carvings usually depicting either the diamond and cross symbol or the First Speaker. You notice that apart from the paper lanterns you have already seen, they use a certain kind of bioluminescent jellyfish kept alive inside a glass vial. They swim lazily to and fro, making for a mildly entertaining spectacle. Oddly, the Disciples seem to use only thin mattresses with bedsheets, sleeping on the floor in lieu of using bed frames. "I know it's not much," Lapis says apologetically, "but make yourselves at home." She sounds pleasant, but she still looks perturbed at being made to accompany you. Kivoda seems rather wary of the place, but it seems to disappear as he observes the jellyfish, seeming amused by the oddity.
"Now will you tell me what is the matter?" she says to Kivoda pressingly.
Abenad drops off his excess equipment and armor, leaving to the beach with a fishing rod to fish for the rest of the afternoon.
[1d10] FishingRoll #1 4 = 4
"Not much!?" Timber says happily. "This is perfect. I can't sleep right in those extravagant mattresses. They're too high up and too plush. This is much more my speed."
He looks at Lapis with a tinge of concern. "I apologize if we got off on the wrong hoof. I assume your sour demeanor is due to being forced to accompany us? Is there anything I can do to assuage your concerns?"
The Earthmover's eyes roll back to look at you. Despite his frightening appearance, his eyes are warm and soulful, dark brown like the roots that grow through him. He speaks now, his lips barely moving as he looks deep into your eyes. "Rise," he says softly. "Do not think of me as your master. I am here to help you. For a thousand years I have waited, watching the world go by as the roots grew through me. Waiting for one of our kin to rise in power. When the Fire consumed our families, I thought my wait was in vain. So my gaze fell on you, last of the Guarira. When you took an Immortal Soul for yourself, I knew that you were the one I had been waiting for." He is lost in thought for a moment. "There is a storm coming. You must be ready for when it does. To do that, you must learn everything. Everything that has transpired before you, and everything that will. Come. Be one with the roots. It is time for you to become me."
>To be continued…
Galehaut reads intently, only looking when nudged by Lapis.
"Hmm? oh, alright."
he turns to Kivoda, getting his attention when Tourmaline is finished with him,
"Would this be of interest to you?"
He says, offering him the book on the sentinels.
"I don't mind it, it's actually fairly cozy." Gloria says, deciding for once to take off her armor and set it down neatly and out of the way as well as resting her blade against the wall and floor near her armor.
"Now then… could you tell me a bit more about that castle the shells reside in? Do you know how long have they been there exactly and how often they intrude?" She questions Lapis, stretching after getting out of her gear.
"I… I swore I heard voices, when I walked into that temple," he answers, looking away from the jellyfish. "Didn't you hear them? I swear they were speaking our language, although I couldn't understand a word. It felt like someone was poking away in my mind…"
"It could have been a sign from the Earthmover," Lapis pipes up, "although if it was not clear then perhaps it was not meant to be. Maybe it's best not to dwell on it. Many people are affected by being so close to our benefactor.">>677048
You walk down a flight of cobblestone steps, eventually reaching a pier with a few small wooden boats docked at it. The beach is mostly made of dark sand and gravel, and the ocean is largely still. The view is quite pleasant, facing out towards the east. On the horizon, you can see many more small islands, some of which have buildings on them. They are mostly interconnected by rope bridges, with more piers and outhouses built at their base.
Unfortunately, you do not manage to catch many fish; only two go for your bait, and they are far too small to be of any use to you. They are silver, bullet-shaped fish with reflective scales and yellow streaks running along their back and sides. >>677049
She smiles warmly. "I'm glad you're happy with them. Most visitors to our island end up grumbling over the beds."
"Oh no, not at all," she says hurriedly. "I just wasn't expecting to have to leave again so soon. I have been helping King Doom with his war efforts for some time now, and I hoped I would be able to have a moment of respite after bringing you all here. But if it is the Earthmover's will, then I cannot refuse. I will help you all as best I can, until I am dismissed.">>677051
You offer the book to him (The Secret History of the Sentinels of Ibergal
, yet again by Withick of Irontown). "Hm?" He looks over, perking up at the sight of the book. "Oh, thank you!" He takes it and leafs through it for a moment. "My, this is quite a find. I've never seen a collection of the Sentinels' history this extensive before. Why, it even has some information on the individual members after the Library of Vathis fell… Where did you get this again?">>677052
She seems relieved that you like it, making herself comfortable by taking off her hat and sitting down on a nearby chair for a while.
"We get raids from them quite often, about once every two weeks. It used to be once a month, but they've gotten more daring now we don't have an Immortal Soul," she answers absent-mindedly. "Most of the time they don't do much, since we're able to use our abjuring enchantments to ward them off. We weren't expecting an attack from underwater, however. That's what really crippled us. As for the castle, I'm fairly sure it was one of the first places they took when they started their incursion. They've been at it for quite some time. It doesn't help that their castle is difficult to place under siege. It's built on a series of islets, much like our own settlements." She gestures out the window, where you can see many small islands linked together by rope bridges. If you squint hard enough, you can see some Disciples making their way across to another settlement. "There's four sections to the castle in total. The furthermost one is where they keep their ships and storage. If we could infiltrate their docks somehow, and sneak past the guards, it shouldn't be too difficult to get to their potion supply. I'm almost certain they keep it there."
Abenad tosses the fish back in, deciding to go in for a swim around the island, enjoying the salt water smell and texture. He tries to see into the water for any more fish, or anything else in there.
"I looked over the study of the late Dreamcoat, his knowledge is mine to gain. Do you know anything about the Moonlight Knight? Specifically, the last location he may have been seen? You seem like the studious type, and after acquiring his shield I've become interested in the knight which shares my cause, race, and religion."
"I'm glad to hear it," Timber says with a nod. "I've been pondering the nature of this adventure as of late, and I must say that I've grown to realize the importance of cooperation. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to say. I don't mean to imply that I've felt that I could always do things alone. But, I've… never had the need to do most things."
"Perhaps I still don't have the NEED to do these things. But, then SOMEONE does."
Timber chuckles. "I'm sorry, I've gotten sidetracked. The point is, I'm glad to have you along with us."
Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
"The Moonlight Knight?" Timber parrots the phrase curiously.
"Aye, a well known knight who served under King Elstred II of Rin. This shield,"
He procures Dusk,
"Is his. He was thought to have perished hunting the Sword of Moonlight."
"We should take a small boat then at night. If we're lucky, it might rain and obscure our vessel further. Do you suppose a distraction might work? Such as setting a flame to a ship carrying blasting powder." Gloria ponders.
"Oh joy, he's not going to get eaten by whatever you worship is he?"
"Interesting," Timber comments. "So, if he was the Moonlight Knight, why was the Sword of Moonlight not his to begin with? Was there another Moonlight Knight before him?"
"The Sword of Moonlight was a gift given by one of the aspects of the All-In-One, Ytarr the Mason King, to ponykind. Sir Francois earned the title after never returning from his quest to find the artifact."
"Ah. So the title was Posthumous. That explains it."
The water is cool and refreshing, reinvigorating you. Your vision is rather blurred while under the water, and your eyes sting if you have them open for too long, but you can clearly see the outline of a small coral reef just off the shore. There are several fish to be seen, although again, it is difficult to make them out properly. Most of them are fairly large. A prominent species is a disc-shaped fish about the size of your head, which travel in schools of about 20 or 30. They are quite shy, fleeing from your presence as soon as you get near.>>677055
"The Moonlight Knight? Francois?" He shakes his head. "He went crazy and disappeared hundreds of years ago. I know as much as you do about his whereabouts. Sorry." He examines the shield curiously. "Are you sure that's his shield? Where did you even find that?">>677056
She smiles back. "And I will do my part to keep you safe. At least I know I am in good company on these travels.">>677060
She nods thoughtfully. "That's the plan, at least from what I heard the First Speaker say. Some of the other Disciples will drop us off at a nearby grotto, and we'll make our way in from there. Rain would be a double edged sword, I think. A boat trip in bad weather is not a fun experience, believe me."
"If you have a way to produce flame, then a distraction like that would be quite effective, I imagine. I would hate to have to damage such an ancient structure, though. It may be a Shell hideout now, but Easthold-By-The-Sea is one of the oldest structures in Rin, I believe.">>677061
"What? Eaten?" She laughs it off, although she looks a little offended at the prospect. "Of course not. The Earthmover is wise and benevolent. He doesn't eat anyone."
Timber starts inspecting the shield. "So, what is so special about this set that makes it worthy of naming a knight after them just for looking for them?"
"Same man who tried to take the Sentinel's spear to pawn to other adventurers. Real or not, Francois still went on his quest.">>677066
"Not this, this was Francois' personal armaments, in which he also held a sword named Dawn. The Sword of Moonlight is a god-given weapon, and was thusly sought after."
"It would be a shame… but structures can be rebuilt, the greater goal is what matters at the moment." Gloria says in regards to destroying something so old. "As for a flame, my blade can produce one. If we need to, I can also fly."
"How are people certain that it exists at all, then?"
"How do we know finding the Immortal Souls will restore this world to what it once was?"
"A fair point before, though that question has since been answered. It stands to reason that that which created something can also destroy it."
"Faith, Galehaut. Even if we don't truly know what will happen in the end, we must have faith that it will work."
>Passive: Aura of Faith
"Then I continue to seek truth.">>677072
"Aye, simply responding to a question with a question."
Abenad swims back to land, shaking the water off and walking back to his chamber with his clothes, joining up with the others. "What's new, everyone?"
You are still rather soaked from the swim, but it mostly dries up under the morning sun by the time you get back to your hut. Kivoda looks up as you enter, but doesn't say much other than a noncommittal grunt of greeting. Lapis greets you rather enthusiastically, seeing you rather damp. "Hello again. Did you have a good time in the water? It's so refreshing at this time of day.">>677067
"Oh. Him." Kivoda grows sour at the mention of Clean Slate, frowning at the shield in disapproval. "That bloody grave robber. No respect for history at all. Don't you feel any guilt owning it?">>677068
She nods. "True. Still, it wouldn't really be the same if it were rebuilt. If every plank of wood in a boat is replaced, would it be the same boat?" She lets the question linger for a moment.
"Then we should be prepared for explosions, if they occur," she says hopefully, although she still seems unsure of the plan. "Truly your group are ready for any occasion. A regular Sarnathi Army knife of adventurers!" She chuckles at her own bad joke.>>677072>>677073
Galehaut feels his spirits lifted by Gloria's encouragement, feeling confident about what the future will bring for the party.
>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Loss. Morning.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party bid farewell to their faithful companion Maali for a while before having audience with the First Speaker, the leader of the Disciples of Order, who informed them of the location of one of the Immortal Souls. The Soul they sought had once been cherished by the Disciples as a fountain of magical energy, but it was stolen in a Shell raid and lost beneath the ocean waves. In order to retrieve the lost soul, they would first need to acquire a certain substance used by the Shells to be able to breathe underwater, by raiding one of the keeps that make up the seaside fortress known as Easthold-By-The-Sea…
>Tourmaline is at 11/6>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>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>677009>>679088>>679090>>679091>>679093>>679101
You are all gathered together in the small yet homely dormitory chosen for you by the Disciples. The lucent jellyfish continue to drift lazily in their glass vials, illuminating the room with a warm blue glow. Kivoda makes himself comfortable, putting down his belongings and flopping down onto one of the mattresses on the floor. Lapis looks at you all and speaks up. "I don't know how many of you heard my conversation with miss Gloria here, but I'd just like to reiterate the plan we came up with. If all goes according to plan, we'll leave at night and make our way to the eastmost Keep via boat. We should be able to make our way in through a grotto at the base of the island the fort is built on. From there, we should be able to sneak in and take what we need, hopefully without raising an alarm. How does that sound to everyone? …Oh, and are you all hungry?" she adds after a moment. "I don't think you've had breakfast yet. I can go and bring some for us if you want."
"Fuel for our bodies would be most welcome, before traveling again."
Galehaut says, nodding.
"I think the plan sounds fine, but it's not like I know anything about the place," he says, "Are you familiar with it? Have you scouted it out before? Or did someone else do it for you? I'd like something to eat, but I doubt you have anything here to satisfy me."
"Sounds reasonable," Timber comments simply. "And, yes we should keep ourselves nourished. There's no telling when we'll be allowed food again once we reach the Shell fort."
"Breakfast sounds wonderful, Lapis. You wouldn't believe how quickly you can get tired of eating No-Bake bread." Gloria says, enjoying the thought of having something other than No-Bake bread for once.
Laying beside Kivoda, she adds, "And what's waiting for us when we reach the grotto? Are they aware of that entrance?"
"Not personally, no," she admits. "I've never been on the inside, since the Shells set up base there and all. From the activity we've seen, we're fairly sure they keep their supplies in the easternmost fort. You can see it from the window." She points out, where you can faintly see the outline of Easthold in the distance. "That smallest one there," she says, gesturing at it.>>679117
"They probably are," she answers. "Which is why we'll need a diversion of some sort, so we can get past them and into the fort unnoticed. We could also try fighting our way through, but they could send the alarm to the rest of Easthold, and then we'd be in for quite a fight." Kivoda takes out his trusty journal and starts taking notes of everything she's saying, in case you need to refer to it later.>>679109>>679110>>679113>>679115
"I know how you feel, Gloria," she says with a smile. "I'll be right back then. We don't have much, but it'll be better than nothing, right?" She does a quick head count and dips out. "Be right back.">>679109
You see Kivoda looking at Dusk for a moment, speaking up once Lapis leaves. "Not that I condone Clean Slate's actions, but maybe it'd be a good idea to ask him where he found that shield," he comments. "If it really is Francois' shield, there might be some clues to his location wherever it was he found it."
It doesn't take Lapis long to come back, carefully balancing a wooden tray with several bowls of rice and a disparity of fresh fruit, including apples, mandarins, strawberries and grapes. There are also some small round pastries that you don't recognize that seem to have some sort of filling inside. "I know we don't have much here," she says, "but it's the best I could find. Sorry."
Galehaut eats the fruits, uncomplaining.>>679122
he turns to Kivoda,
"That would be best, yes."
Even though it's not meat, it's at least not bread. "Thank you, Lapis. I'm not a picky eater." Gloria says, taking a few fruits and some rice to enjoy.
Abenad takes a bowl of rice and an apple. "Shame about the lack of fish," he says, picking up an orange and biting into it. "Hmm, what a tough skin this has."
"If we need a distraction, might I suggest myself? I still have a desire to talk to the Shells to see if they can be reasoned out of their currently unnecessarily antagonistic tendencies. I don't know if I can accomplish much. But, worst case scenario: I just end up being a secondary item to retrieve from their base."
"I don't think we would need to risk a complication like that. We could always cause one of their ships to catch on fire to pull their attention away from where we need to go."
She eats all her food rather quickly, finding it better than the road food they've had. "I'm not going to be the distraction," she says, underscoring her statement with her hoof on her nose.
"It would need to be considerably away from our own entrance. Or else, their path toward the fire would just bring them past our entrance. And, since the port and our grotto on the seaside cliff are likely to be near each other, that sounds like a difficult task to pull off. It would also have to be a delayed fire so as to get away before attention is actually drawn to our distraction."
"Or, we could always split up into two groups: a retrieval group and a distraction group. The distraction group would not necessarily be in and of themselves the distraction, but doing something something that would cause a great deal of attention wherever the retrieval group would need the enemy to not be."
"Which begs the question," Timber asks as he looks around to the group. "Do we have any way to communicate long distance that won't be noticed?"
"Tell them you were sent as a goodwill gift and that they should plant you in their courtyard. Once night comes, you get up and go to the gate to let us in."
Timber stares at Abenad for a moment, perplexed.
"Do… do you think I'm a plant?" Timber asks at last with confused sincerity.
"No, but I think it'd be funny," he says as he eats the whole orange.
"Your entire plan is based on arbitrary and questionable comedy?" Timber asks with the same confusion in his voice.
"Exactly," Abenad says with a straight face, "I didn't escape from the Tower by any orthodox means."
"You escaped from the tower?"
"No, but it sure would be handy if I did, wouldn't it?"
"Uh, that's not how you… Oh, never mind. You do you.">>679126
"That could work," she answers as she contemplates an apple. "Do be careful if we end up going with that, though. There's probably going to be a lot of them, and only one of you."
The rest of the day goes by relatively quickly, mostly spent making preparations for the outing. Lunch consists of mostly the same food as you had for breakfast, only with more rice and certain vegetables you don't recognize. By sundown, you are all gathered at the pier, sitting in a large rowboat with three pairs of oars to accommodate the seven of you. A small crowd has gathered to bid you farewell, led by seven of the nine Speakers. The First Speaker is not present, oddly enough. Before beginning to row out, the Disciples say a short prayer in their tongue, ending it with the ubiquitous phrase of "Noradzir" as well as clapping their hooves in unison several times.
The trip out to Easthold doesn't take very long, taking you roughly an hour. "Order is with us," Lapis says at one point as she rows idly. "The ocean is still. This is a good sign. Let's hope the rest of the mission is as smooth." Before long, you are all gathered on a rocky shore, looking up at the towering fortress that is Easthold. Lapis tethers the boat before pointing out the glow of torchlight just over a hill nearby, from which you can hear faint chatter. "Those are their docks," she says in a low voice. "Best we stay away from them. The grotto is this way." She motions for you to follow as she moves up the hill and towards the cliffside, where you can vaguely see a cave entrance. For some reason, you get a feeling of deja vu.
Galehaut watches and listens for any danger.
>Supreme Survivor: passive; automatically passes all spot checks, autocrits on jump, climb and other traversing checks.
>Sound Hound: Passive; Intelligent canines have to put up with so much. However there are some perks to being a diamond dog. While heightened hearing can be annoying at times (you know way more than a dog your age should) with a bit of concentration and focus, it’s a very nifty thing. You can listen on whispers and distant conversations with ease; your ungulate friends can’t keep a secret from you. Allies that know that you can do this can communicate with you in confidence escaping the notice of others (except other diamond dogs of course). Also when an enemy engages combat, for the first turn any attack targeting you hits on a DC+2 (DC+1 for stealth attacks and ambushes). You are also unaffected by light-level.
Abenad follows, leaning over and forward in a sneaky position.
She quietly follows Galehaut.
The (incredibly bizarre) sense of deja vu gives Timber a sense of confidence that all will go well. Familiarity tends to breed such an emotion. Thus, for the time being, he assumes a distraction will not be necessary.
He cautiously, quietly, and quickly heads toward and into the cave entrance. [1d10] if neededRoll #1 2 = 2
Gloria wears her armor, all cleaned up save for the scratches from battle while traveling Rin. She remains silent as she follows Lapis closely, keeping an eye out for danger.
>Search for danger
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
You can hear the faint sound of talking coming from inside the cave entrance. From what you can tell, there's at least two Shells in there. You can't make out what they're saying, but it's most likely just idle conversation. Lapis looks at you expectantly as she sees you listening in, readying herself.>>679139>>679140>>679141>>679142>>679143
You follow Lapis' lead in entering the cave. It is suprisingly dry inside considering the location, not much different from a regular old cave except for the salty sea smell. By now, you can hear what Galehaut and Gloria heard moments before entering, idle conversation between two Shells. There is some torchlight coming from deeper within, suggesting they have set up camp near your location. As you inch closer, you can also smell fish cooking. For most of you it doesn't smell very good, but to Gloria and Abenad it is quite appetizing.
"You remember what it was like when we first moved in around here?" you hear one of the Shells say. "Place was overrun with rats for ages. Ugh."
"The changelings got rid of them though, at least most of them," the other Shell says.
"Yeah, but now the place is overrun with changelings. Sometimes I miss the rats," the first Shell mopes. This is followed by a bout of laughter from the other Shell, followed by a brief silence. "How's that fish looking?" he asks after a bit.
Lapis frowns and thinks for a moment. "What should we do?" she whispers, not letting you hear the state the fish is in. "They're probably here on guard duty. If they see us around here, they'll sound the alarm in a heartbeat. Maybe if we can sneak around them somehow… But there's no other tunnel that I can see… Hm…"
"Changelings…" Timber contemplates aloud as he formulates a plan.
"First of all…" Timber says as he looks around. He picks up seven pebbles. "Here," he says as he hands them out to everyone. "Memorize everyone's pebbles. If we get separated, make sure you show each other these. We can't have ourselves getting fooled."
"Now," he says looking to Lapis. "Could we perhaps trick the shells into thinking we are changelings? Does anyone see any rats? If we can find some to 'chase', then they won't think anything of it."
[1d10] to see ratsRoll #1 1 = 1
"Keeping track of each other should be easy," he says, "I'll set up a codeword for myself, just in case. My code word will be 'beaver.'"
"As for these guards… can anyone here manage to create a terrible smell? It'll be less suspicious than a noise or anything else."
"Don't changelings use pheromones to know each other's identities? My time in the guard, especially working with street gangs, teaches me it's hard to trick a changeling. Why not wait until nightfall?"
"That's not a good plan," she says to Timber.
She takes off some strips of cloth from an old spare shirt she seldom uses. She squeezes one of the oranges she kept with her and stains the cloth with the juices. When they're dry, she ties the cloth strips onto everyone's arm, with the stained side down.
"We'll identify by these. If we have any suspicion about who is real, flip over the cloth and show the stain, as extra proof it's us and not a changeling who knows that we're using these to identify ourselves."
*until they fall weary. No mortal goes without sleep."
Gloria holds back the urge to drool over the smell of the cooking fish, although she does take a moment longer to enjoy it.>>679145>>679149>>679150
"I could remove my armor and weapon for a moment while you all remain hidden. If they see me and think I'm a helpless and alone then I doubt they would set off an alarm just for something they wouldn't see as a threat. All it would take is to run back here and bam, take them when they're lured away." Gloria says, bringing up a second possible idea.
"We aren't trying to trick the changelings. We're tricking the Shells. And, making sure they don't trick us. Also, it's already nightfall.">>679149
"That's a better plan," Timber comments. "I just didn't think anyone had anything complex enough on them."
"I say Beaver works well enough," Abenad says, "At least for me."
"Changelings are capable of magic. Mental magic is a thing. It's entirely possible to run into a changeling that can read your memories and then imitate you. In fact, changelings that can read and copy your basic emotions and actions are very common. Any code word or identifier which exists entirely in your mind will never be an assured enough measure against changelings."
You give everyone a strip of orange-stained cloth. Now everyone smells like oranges. "Good thinking," Kivoda chirps up as he struggles to tie the knot on his strip. "If there's changelings all over the shop, they might try to impersonate us if we get separated.">>679145>>679146
The cave seems pretty clean as caves go. No signs of any rats anywhere.>>679151
"You might be on to something," Lapis muses. "The rest of us could get by while they're distracted. Although, maybe someone else should be the one to do it? If you get captured - not that I think you will, mind you - you would be a much more valuable hostage as a Seeker of Souls."
"I think I should be the one to do it. I volunteer to draw them out while the rest of you keep moving. I'll catch up with you later once I lose them, don't you worry. Unless someone else wants to be the one to do it?" She looks at the rest of the party questioningly. Kivoda seems hesitant to speak up.
The two Shells keep talking in the distance. The first one seems to be frustrated, as the two have been playing what sounds like a game of chance of some sort. "Bah, I can never win at this. I never win at anything. …You remember Watt? Gods always smiled on him. Like when he got knocked off the bridge by that rampaging blank and landed in a nice deep pool of water. How lucky was that, missing all those rocks?"
"Who was Watt again? Don't really remember him. The pool saved his life, did it?"
"Hm? No, he was dead already. Axe to the head. Still, it was pretty lucky, missing the rocks…"
"Hrmm, well, in the event there's any confusion, I'll do something to make sure it's me.">>679155
"I volunteer Galehaut."
"I could kill the both of them, though."
She waits for Galehaut to do something.
"We absolutely should not risk a Speaker," Timber pipes up quickly. "That's a terrible decision. I would say that Kivoda is the best option as he is the most… expendable. No offense," he adds quickly. "But, as a member of a fairly rare race, that may not be fair to him. So, I would say that if we're not willing to risk Kivoda then send me. I'm the least likely to die for my belligerence. Plus, I'm already unarmed."
"Thank you, Lapis. May the light protect you and keep you safe until you return home." Gloria says with a blessing to Lapis.>>679159
"You did say you wanted to speak with them."
"Indeed," Timber nods.>>679155
Without saying another word, Timber walks up to the two Shells and sits down between them.
Roll #1 5 = 5
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Roll #1 1 = 1
Galehaut looks to see if there might be any other way in.>Supreme Survivor
"Very well," she nods. "Good luck, friend.">>679161
You stroll right into the cave where the two Shells are. They're a pair of griffons huddled around a small campfire. They've made themselves at home, with a large skinned fish roasting over the campfire and a card game of some sort set up between the two of them. They're wearing the standard Shell uniform, sans the bandannas, and are both armed with standard spears. They seem rather taken aback by your presence. "Here, who are you then?" the griffon on the left says. You recognize his voice as the more vocal of the two, a rather gloomy looking fellow with monochromatic feathers. "And where's your uniform?
"You shouldn't be here anyway," the second griffon says, a stocky looking griffon with yellow and brown feathers. "This path is off limits for tonight. Captain's orders.">>679162>>679163>>679164
Following Lapis' lead, you creep along while Timber distracts the guards on duty, slipping by them and getting to the end of the tunnel. You eventually arrive at what appears to be a cellar door leading to the castle itself. From the looks of the cracked wall, it looks like it was demolished by something long ago, then rebuilt once the cavern was discovered. The door has been left open, leading to the cellar within. It is a large room lit by torch sconces, with shelves upon shelves of miscellaneous supplies. One corner is host to a disparity of dried food, as well as large barrels of what you can only assume is wine. Suits of plate armor serve as decoration in here, standing watch like silent guardians. At the far end are a flight of stairs leading higher up into the castle.
"Whatever they use for operating underwater, it has to be in here somewhere," Lapis whispers to you all. "We should search quickly, before anyone wanders in here.">>679165
From what you can tell, there's probably a much easier way to get into the fort, but it's likely to be much more heavily guarded than this side entrance.
Galehaut follows Lapis, but waits near the cellar door,
"Move along, I'm going to get Timber Hoof out of the scenario he's in."
after the party are safely away, he shouts down the hallway,
"ROOKIE, GET BACK OVER HERE. PATH IS OFF LIMIT AND
YOU'RE NOT WEARING YOUR ARMOR. I'LL SKIN YOU MYSELF IF I CATCH YOU."
Timber looks toward the cave then toward the caves, visibly weighing his options. He hopes that the options that the griffons thinks he's weighing are not the options he's actually weighing.
"Shit." With a single word, he gets up and quickly runs toward Galehaut's voice.
[1d10] to be convincing if necessaryRoll #1 8 = 8
Abenad starts taking stock of the supplies to see if there's anything worth taking.
Gloria nods to Lapis, looking about the room in search.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
The duo jump at the sound of Galehaut's voice. "You're in for it now, you are," the first one says with a smirk. "At least we're doing our part. At least I am. I don't want him to kill me."
"…What do you think that'd be like? To be dead?" the second one asks out of nowhere.
"…Probably dull," the first one shrugs. "Dull and full of complaints." He puts on a whiny voice as Timber hurries onwards, joining Galehaut and the others in the cellar. "'The ground's too cold! My grave should be bigger! My bones hurt! Why does he get more worms than I do?' Etcetera.">>679169
There's plenty of food of all shapes and sizes to be found, especially dried fish and other meat. Compared to the Resistance or the Disciples, the Shells have a veritable banquet at their fingertips.>>679170
It doesn't take you long to find it. There is a cupboard in one corner containing dried samples of a fungus of some sort labeled as "Bleeding Jelly". It isn't hard to see why it's called that; Bleeding Jelly is a spongy white shapeless species with several dark red translucent growths on it, giving the impression that it bleeds. It looks repulsive. "That should be it," Lapis says as she looks over, handing you a bag. "Let's take as much as we can carry and get out of here." In the background, you see Kivoda help himself to the cellar's supplies, serving himself some of the wine in a pewter cup. He shudders at the taste of it.
>pausing>also yay, commissions