>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Loss. Morning.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party set out on their mission to infiltrate the Shell fortress of Easthold-By-The-Sea, approaching them via a cliffside tunnel under cover of night. While it was guarded, and apparently closed off for reasons unknown, they were able to distract the guards and sneak past them undetected. Upon entering Easthold's cellar, they searched for a while until they found the source of the Shells' submarine abilities: several samples of a foul fungus known as Bleeding Jelly, which they would ingest to be able to breathe underwater temporarily. The party have taken some samples of the fungus to use for themselves when they set out on their retrieval of the Immortal Soul that was taken from the Disciples of Order. Meanwhile, Maali continues his training with the Earthmover, the last remaining member of his kind besides him…
>Abenad is at 6/5>Galehaut is at 7/7>Gloria is at 6/5>Maali is at 6/5>Timber Hoof is at 6/6>Tourmaline is at 11/6
Known monolith locations:>Lunemark>Serpentine Keep>The Dreaming Spring>Heart of Jevel>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>679107>>680224>>680225>>680226>>680227
You are inside the cellar of one of the towers of Easthold, surrounded by a disparity of different foods, trinkets, and supplies used by the Shells here, including Shell uniforms in various sizes and chests full of strange artifacts from foreign lands. The Bleeding Jelly fungus you require has been secured, and you have the opportunity to pillage the cellar if you so desire. There is a stone staircase leading higher up into one of the towers of Easthold, from which you can hear what sounds like someone banging half-heartedly on iron bars, as well as snoring. Kivoda looks troubled by the former.
Lapis takes a few of the mushrooms and sniffs them inquisitively, wrinkling her snout in disgust before putting them unceremoniously in a small leather pouch. "This is definitely what we're after. Well, the extract, at least. Let's get going before we're discovered. Unless you wanted to help yourselves to anything here?" She looks around at the cellar with a disdainful expression.>>680228
"There is much you must learn about the nature of this world, young sapling, before the Storm arrives."
You sit alongside the Earthmover, the last two members of your kind alone in a dark and gloomy cave. The immeasurably ancient stag is a rather frightening sight, with his corpselike visage and the roots of the tree above embracing him and growing through him, but he is blood of your blood nonetheless, the closest thing you have to family outside of the party. He looks at you with his soulful earth-brown eyes. "You must have so many questions. I will answer what I can, then we must get started. We have precious little time and much to do."
"Let us not tempt fate, lest it take our bait."
Galehaut says, keeping a keen ear, and eye to his surroundings.
>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.
> Supreme Survivor: passive; automatically passes all spot checks, autocrits on jump, climb and other traversing checks.
Abenad goes over the shelves and trinkets one by one for any jewelry or something to wear to appeal to his sense of vanity.
Gloria decides to see if the Shells may have any meat or jerky she could take for herself on her way out. "Unless there's something that catches my eye… no. Do we have enough of the extract?"
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Looking for good shit
Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
She helps him look for some good shit right here. [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
The young stag, hesitant, took a few steps closer to the elder "I haven't been called sapling in so many years. By my teacher, Marajoara.." He muses, smiling
"Master… What is the Storm?" he sits down, leaning forward slightly "When is it coming? A-and what will happen once it arrives?"
Up above, you can hear the footsteps of a guard on patrol. From this, you can infer that the rooms above are a prison or dungeon of sorts, presumably holding those afflicted by the curse like yourselves. You can hear the two Shells outside chatting indistinctly as well.>>680231>>680233
While there doesn't seem to be any jewelery, you come across a wooden chest in a corner containing a set of dull golden armor with a tattered red cape, as well as a large flanged mace made of equal parts silver and gold. The mace doesn't seem to be touching the bottom of the chest, hovering a few inches above it idly. There are other chests containing other pieces of armor, weapons and shields, but they all seem fairly standard and none as lavish as the one you've found.>>680232
You find a paper bag full of thin strips of dried salted beef, sprinkled with some spice you don't recognize. It seems edible enough, at least for a snack. Kivoda looks over with a frown, seemingly disapproving of the consumption of meat.
Abenad picks the mace up, curious about its floating nature and dropping it to see what happens.
"Make it fast, there is a guard patrol above us."
Galehaut says, in a hushed tone.
She plunders the armor, noting to get it fitted for kivoda, then looks to Gloria for future instruction.
The Earthmover's expression darkens. "It goes by many names," he intones. "The Disciples here call it Disorder. Kaarad. Those of the Way of the Light in Sarnath have given it the name of Sheol. In the dark land of Sarkomand, the only thing they fear they call Senh Lorna. For us it has no name. For all, it is a foe outside of time, a nameless dark presence that has always existed and always will. The source of all ruin and despair. The Pain of Ages. The Storm. Countless lands have been consumed by it, and countless more will in time. Its attention is fixed now on Rin, even more so by the madman Dreamcoat's advent of the curse that binds us. I fear that it has already begun to take a hold with his demise. That is why the curse must be lifted, and the Immortal Souls united. You may not be able to defeat the adversary immemorial, but you will be able to push it back. Else this land, and in time all lands existing now, will cease to be. I pray you never have to look upon its malice."
Gloria smiles after finding a little snack for later. After putting it away she looks over to Tourmaline and Kivoda. "Now that we have the Bleeding Jelly, I think it's best we leave to prepare our search for the soul." She says.
She notices Kivoda's frown and follows his gaze to the paper bag in her grip, she looks back to him and shrugs. "What? Griffons eat meat." She says before putting away the paper bag for later.
Roll #1 10 = 10
The mace is immensely heavy, much more so than it looks. Nevertheless, you are able to lift it with both hands, although it takes a considerable effort on your part. Once you drop it, it stops a few inches from the floor, dipping slightly as if it had hit a soft surface. For some reason, the mace and armor look familiar to you.>>680238>>680239>>680241
Lapis nods and makes her way to the door, motioning for the rest of the party to follow. She peers out first, then ducks under. "Those two guards are coming this way!" she hisses, looking around frantically before crouching behind a large wine barrel, staying out of sight. Kivoda quickly catches on, taking cover in an alcove under the stairs leading up.
Maali listened wide-eyed, gaze locked on the ground "Then… We must hurry. They need to know about this, the other seekers of souls… "
Raising his head, he continued "Then… You know of Dreamcoat's death. Master, does that means that you saw what happened there? Do you know what happened to him? And where the 'body' is g-going?"
He pulls back "I'm- Forgive me, I might have too many questions, more than we have the time to discuss about"
"Do we need to hide? We have what we need, we should rush out and let our numbers scare them into conflict. We have the cover of the night."
Also rolling to see if I remember where it's from.
Gloria decides to follow Lapis' lead, even if others are exposed first a well timed unseen strike might help.
>Finding a blindspot to hide in
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Well, we'll hide and you can just ask them if we need to hide," she says.
And hides behind Galehaut, as she is smol and he is not. [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Abenad pulls a canvas cloth over his body and holds still.
Galehaut looks sternly.
"Fine then, I will wait standing next to the door, so that they only see me having after entered."
He draws his battleaxe, standing vigilant as a statue behind the corner of the portal leading to the room.
[1d10] stealth, even though he doesn't want to be hiding but the party has it in their mind that they need to hide.Roll #1 9 = 9
He nods grimly. "He was taken by the Storm. He used a fragment of its power, fool that he was, to further his experiments and bring about the wretched curse. Now he has paid the price, and is its puppet. With luck, it is the last you have seen of him. But the future is not set in stone. It is full of endless possibility. In time, you will see as I do."
"There will be more time for questions later. For now, let us begin your own path." His eyes glow white, and he enters a sort of catatonic state. After a moment, a small dirt-matted mouse scurries out from the tangled roots, its eyes matching his. It stands still for a moment, then crawls up your leg and onto your back. You hear his voice in your head now, speaking in your tongue. "The old practice of skinwalking
," the Earthmover explains. "Only our kind can use such a power. It will serve you well in the wars to come.
" It jumps off you after a moment, its eyes turning back to normal in sync with the Earthmover's. It looks confused for a moment, looking around the cave and sniffing in curiosity. "These will be your first steps," the Earthmover whispers from his gnarled throne. "Your amulet will help you, but in time you will not need to rely on it to channel your inner strength. Focus on the mouse," the Earthmover urges. "You and it must become one. Open up your mind and see through its own eyes…"
"Why are we hiding, we can just leave."
"But you are so tall! You make a great hiding place. I always wanted to try this."
"Element of surprise?" Gloria shrugs.
You hide under a nearby sheet of cloth and do your best impression of a pile of old clothes. You can't seem to recall where you've seen the equipment before, but you feel like it has something to do with your journey through the Coil so long ago.>>680251
You stand perfectly still as the two stroll in. They don't seem to notice you.>>680253
You are with the party in the cellar of Easthold, under what seems to be a dungeon for those that they capture while on patrol. Tourmaline and Abenad have found a unique mace and armor set that look strangely familiar. As Lapis warns the party that the two guards outside are drawing near, you follow everyone else's lead and pick a hiding spot behind a large shelf.>>680248>>680249
As you look around for a place to hide, the two guards come in sooner than expected, catching you off guard. The dour-looking griffon looks confused for a second. "Here, who are you then? And why aren't you in your uniform?"
Abenad tries to remember again since he's not doing anything else under the sheet.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Galehaut swings his battleaxe in one forceful movement, slicing to take out the two guards before they even notice him.
[1d10] Black Empress Cleaver: Great tag, no critfail disadvantage.
cleaving bothRoll #1 3 = 3
She decides to do something different for a change, maybe it'll work out better than what she normally does.
She sits, pouts and starts to cry. "I-I-I was just trying to find out what I was supposed to be doing, and these intruders came and beat me up and took my uniform, so I had to put this on so I wouldn't be naked, and these guys interrogated me, but it's my first day so I didn't know anything, so they hit me again and-and-and th-then, they ran deeper into the fort to look for more souls!"
[1d10] lyingRoll #1 9 = 9
Timber tries to stealthily make his way around to the exit the guards would have to use to leave so as to block them off. Can't have them sounding the alarm.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Calm down soldier." Gloria plays along, looking to the guards. "I don't think the question should be about the dress code right now, we have a few 'rats' slinking around." Gloria says in attempts to add onto Tourmaline's bluff.
>Rolling if needed
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
It's still not coming to you. The winged frogmouth helm that accompanies it is quite distinctive.>>680259
You take up your axe and swing at them. The more vocal of the two griffons cries out in surprise, flapping away and stumbling over his companion. "Oi, watch it!" he says angrily. "You could have killed us!">>680260
They don't really seem sure how to react to Tourmaline's display, the more stoic of the two patting her on the shoulder awkwardly. "Right, right. Take it easy," says the other. "Go get some food and drink. We'll handle it from here.">>680262
"What, some prisoners escaped, did they? I didn't hear anything," the griffon says, looking at Galehaut warily and inching away from him. "Was it that paladin again? I hope not, he's a nightmare to keep down. Do you know which way they went?">>680261
You manage to creep past them despite your considerable size.
In the background, you can see Lapis getting anxious, inching towards the doorway. She's making gestures towards them, mouthing something silently and moving her hoof across her throat rapidly. Upstairs, you hear the snoring stop.
Abenad surreptitiously tugs down his canvas sheet, pulling out a copper piece from his bag and throwing it over the heads of the guards to land behind them and distract them.
[1d10+1] To throwRoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
The crying intensifies, and she falls over onto the guards, pushing them toward the exit. "They went that way, don't let the intruders hurt more ponies!"
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Galehaut takes advantage of their turned heads, trying to remove them again.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Gloria waits for an opportune strike. "Paladin? You mean those fellows with shiny armor, glowing magical weapons and such?" She asks, knowing what's to come soon.
Timber contemplates the situation as quickly as he can. With the limited time, he concludes the only solution is to kill these guards.
Timber wraps his hoof in stone and bashes on of the guards in the head.
>Earthen Strike on the guard on Timber's right [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
You toss a coin their way, distracting them as they look in that direction for a moment. "What was that?">>680266
You miss your swing again. "Just what is your problem?" the guard says irritably. "Are you trying to get us killed or something?" You secretly wonder if they're really that dense or if they're turning blank. You also notice that the guard up above appears to have left.>>680267
He nods. "The one we've got up there, apparently he was a big deal before the curse took over. Very valuable prisoner. Very strong too, he's broken out like three times. Think we've got him locked up for good now though." He shrugs.>>680265
"Right you are!" They do an about face and go to leave, coming face to face with Timber. "Oh. It's you again. What'd the captain say? And why are you still not dressed?">>680268
You silence the more aloof griffon with a single punch, knocking him out cold. The other griffon squawks and starts to make a run for it, flapping away from you and scrambling up the stairs. "INTRUDERS!" he screeches. "INTRUDERS IN THE CELLAR!" Kivoda and Lapis get out from their hiding places. Lapis springs to action and raises her hoof as her amulet glows for a moment, a semi-transparent barrier of light blocking off the griffon from getting away. He stops dead in his tracks, reaching for his saber in a panic as he sees himself outnumbered.
Without saying a word, Timber strikes the other guard square in the face.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
"We make our leave."
Galehaut says, protecting Lapis (since she has what we came here for), and rushing forward with his shield in front of him, bulldozing an exit.
"Come Lapis, lest we linger and lose the reagent we came here for!"
Abenad stands up, running with the canvas on him and pulls out his hammer, swinging it at the guard's legs.
[1d10+1] HammerRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
She keeps sniffling, deciding that she's so good at this ruse that she may as well save a bit of her tears for when more guys show up.
Seeing that Timber has this handled, Gloria decides she wants to check out this prisoner first. "Hold on, I want to go see who their prisoner is… I can't let a fellow paladin remain locked up by the shells, even if they might not be from my Order." She says to the others. "They might even be helpful to us if he can break out 'three' times." She adds.
You give him a solid punch, crumpling to the floor unconscious with a single blow. His body slumps down the stairs and to the floor rather comically.>>680271
She nods and makes her way towards the door, gesturing for the rest of the party to follow. "Let's get out of here before more of them arrive!">>680272
You go to attack him, but he's already been knocked out cold by Timber.>>680273
You're even starting to convince yourself a bit of your situation. Kivoda walks over and offers a hoof to pull you up.>>680274
"Make it quick," Lapis urges you. "We don't have much time." Moving upstairs, you find what appears to be part of a dungeon. There are several rows of damp stone cells fitted with iron bars, with moss growing in the cracks of ancient cobblestone. Torches burn dimly on their sconces, barely illuminating the prisons. Many of these contain blanks, long lost any sense of who they were. Most just sit around listlessly, but a few are throwing themselves against the iron bars to no avail, or beating their heads bloody against the stone walls. One such blank is rocking back and forth, singing quietly to himself in an unnerving manner. You notice that three of the cells seem to be broken, the bars warped and torn apart from the inside.
In one cell sits a pony who doesn't appear to have succumbed to the curse, a large, yellowish earth pony with a shaggy gold mane caked with dirt. He looks like a mess. The stallion is slumped in a corner with silver manacles around his hooves, engraved with runes of some sort. He looks up in disdain as you approach, only to look hopeful at the sight of you. "Oh, hello," he says politely in a deep voice. "You're not one of them, are you? If you're not, then open this cell, if it please you. The warden just left, and the keys are right over there." He nods towards a nearby nail in a wall, upon which is a ring of keys. "I'd free myself, but the fiends caught on quickly and put these blasted shackles on me. I'm afraid I'm in quite a tight spot."
Abenad follows Gloria. "I'll come with, in case there's anyone that needs carrying," he says.
He puts his hand on his chin when he meets the yellowish pony. "Hmm, you seem familiar," he says, "Do I look familiar to you?"
Galehaut continues to escort the lady outside, knowing that the rest of the party can handle themselves.
Gloria smiles at the glimmer of hope he has shown her, she reaches over to take the keys. "Hello there, my name is Gloria, Ashbringer of the Golden Claw." She introduces herself, opening the cell as well as the bindings with the keys. "The Light shines upon you today, I'm glad to see another strong will survives in these cursed lands, hope has become quite a rarity these days…" She says.
>Aura of Faith: Good vibes
Tourmaline follows Galehaut, dragging along Kivoda. "Did I convince you as well?" she asks cheekily.
Timber nods to Lapis. "No sense wasting time here," he says as he goes (presumably with her) to the exit.
He looks at you for a moment, rising to his hooves. "Ah, I remember you!" he says heartily. "We worked together some time ago to defeat that ghastly underground creature. You and your friends saved me, if I recall. I am truly lucky that our paths have crossed again.">>680279
You unlock the cell and free the paladin. The manacles fall to the floor with a loud clatter. "And I am Cashmere the Lambent, of Ortague," he says, rubbing his sore wrists. "Charmed! It's a shame you had to see me in this sorry state. I've lost count of how long I've been here now." He picks something small and disgusting out of his scraggly, unkempt beard, flicking it away with a frown.>>680276>>680279
Cashmere stretches and cracks his neck, taking a moment to adjust himself to freedom. "I say," he pipes up for a moment, "have any of you seen my equipment? The scoundrels took it and locked it away down there somewhere. I simply can't travel without it.">>680277>>680280>>680281
You exit through the tunnel and onto the beach. You notice that the chatter from the other side has quietened down. Presumably someone heard the shouts and they are searching for you. Lapis silently gets to work readying the boat, not asking for any help as she packs the supplies and tries to push the boat out in preparation for you leaving. She looks warily in the direction of the Shell docks as a light looms over it. "Someone's coming," she says. "Get ready.">>680280
"Hm? Oh, no, not really. I just found it funny how they actually fell for it. Hopefully we can get out of here now without any more interruptions."
"Maybe, what did you have?" Abenad asks, "I found an axe upstairs, did that belong to you?"
Gloria walks with Cashmere, leading him towards the exit. "I'm going to take a wild guess and assume it's probably what my friend here, Abenad, was carrying not too long ago.">>680283
"Did you find any armor out of place to the other armor the Shells had?" Gloria asks.
"Tourms and I found a helmet," he said, "And some armor. The helmet was like this." He puts his hands up under his neck so his fingers were under his eyes. "The lip looks like something you'd pour a canteen into."
Galehaut looks out infront of him, his shield in front of his form and battleaxe behind it, prepared for a challenger.
"Reveal thyself, challenger."
However, their form is already revealed to Galehaut.
>Sound Hound: Galehaut isn't affected by light levels and can hear stuff super clearly.>Supreme Survivor: automatic spot check
"Why should we? Our boat's right here, isn't it? All we need is you to go retrieve the sightseers," she replies.
Timber looks and listens for whatever may be approaching them.
[1d10] to determine direction and how manyRoll #1 1 = 1
"My gilded armor," he elaborates, "and my mace. You can't miss it. Gold and silver, flanged.">>680284>>680285
"Yes, yes, that's the one," he presses as the three of you go down to the cellar. "Once I'm reunited with them, I'll be able to continue my own quest posthaste." As you get to the cellar, Cashmere's face lights up as he sees his mace floating on the ground. "Ah, here we are! My Sacred Oath!" He picks it up effortlessly and slings it across his shoulder. "Excellent! Now let us move, yes? No reason to tarry any longer.">>680286
You stand in a defensive position, axe at the ready with your shield up to meet the incoming Shells. >>680287
"…Wouldn't it make more sense to wait for them to come to us instead?" Kivoda asks. "I'm sure we can hold off a group of Shells on our own.">>680288
It isn't hard for you to find them, as they come from over the rocks in a largish group, about ten of them. "There they are!" one of them says, a lean Diamond Dog in a feathered cap, presumably their leader. They rush down from over the rocks to face the five of you. From the sounds of it, even more are on their way. The moon is gibbous, looming over the water as you stand your ground against them on the sandy beach. Kivoda steels himself as he grips his staff, while Lapis rushes to your side in determination. "Let them come. We just need to hold out until the others join us. We will weather this."
>>680289>Leaving this for next game.
"Would you like to travel with us until we reach safety?" Gloria asks Cashmere.
The little buck sighed, a bitter look on his face. "I hope to never see him again" He mutters, growing more frustrated "Miss Archie… I hope she is safe"
His expression quickly shifts to one of surprise, and then amazement as he sees the Earthmover's display "A-amazing… I thought our blessings and powers were only connected to the plant life, not with other living beings!" laughing with joy, he leans down closer to the little rodent
"Open my mind…" He says, closing his eyes and focusing on the mouse as his necklace glows "Become one… See through it's eyes…"
'1d10' BODY SWAPRoll #1 2 = 2
The Earthmover seems apprehensive at the mention of Archie, but says nothing on the subject.
"It is not named the old practice for nothing," he answers as he watches you somberly from the roots. "It was common among the Guarira in my time, but over the years it was used less and less, and eventually forgotten to memory. Until now."
You try to focus as he has instructed you to, but your thoughts keep straying to Archie, the party and your lost tribe. For a brief moment, you feel separate from your body, but it passes and nothing has changed. The Earthmover seems unsurprised. "Again," he says patiently. "Clear your mind and concentrate." The mouse begins to scamper away, but in an instant he regains control over it and repositions it in front of you before pulling away into his own body again. It looks extremely confused and disoriented.
He frowns at the mouse before noding and trying again, Filtering away the thoughts and worries from his mind
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
It still isn't coming to you, even though you try your hardest to concentrate. "Perhaps you are not ready for skinwalking just yet," the Earthmover muses as he lets the mouse run away for now. "Let us try something else for now." He closes his eyes for a moment, and with a slow cracking and crunching sound the roots nearby begin to form themselves into a wooden throne much like the one he sits on. "As members of the Guarira tribe," he explains, "we have a spiritual connection to the most ancient of trees. Just as we can change bodies with the creatures of the earth, so can we See through the trees, through the millennia of history that have come before. We watch, we listen, and we remember. You will need to be able to see this, if you are to be ready to weather the Storm." He feebly motions for you to take a seat. "In time, you will be able to See on your own, but for now, I will guide you through the motions. Join me, young sapling."
Maali groaned at his failure, head hung low as he looks at the mouse scampering away
"I'm still slow to learn, is what my old master always told me"
He looks up at the master again, bowing his head in agreement "Yes. I always felt closer to the trees anyway"
He carefully takes his place in the throne of roots with newformed confidence
"I imagined you would. Do not be disheartened. It will come to you in time. Repetition is the only key to expertise, after all."
You tentatively take a seat, making yourself comfortable. Almost immediately, the roots quietly but quickly close in around you, trapping you in place as firm as iron manacles. Before you can process what is happening, you feel a sharp jolt from around your navel, as if someone had hooked you and pulled you towards them at full speed. You are surrounded by rushing lights and indistinct noise as you hurtle forwards uncontrollably towards your destination.
Once everything settles down, you find yourself in a place you thought you'd never see again. Guiding moonlight shines through great towering trees covered in flowering vines, ferns and odd fungi sprouting from the ground all the way up to your shoulders at some points. Far off in the distance, you can hear indistinct chatter in your native tongue. You are back home, before it was consumed by fire.
Looking around, you see the Earthmover is by your side. He is no longer a decrepit half-dead stag, as you know him. Instead, he appears in this place as straight backed yet extremely old deer, with impressive horns to match. He looks extremely grim and sorrowful as he stares in the direction of your tribe in the distance. "Follow me," he says simply, beginning to walk in the opposite direction into the undergrowth. You notice that he simply passes through the ferns as he walks, leaving them undisturbed as if he were a ghost. Looking down, you see that you too are standing in the middle of the undergrowth as if you were not there. "I apologize sincerely for what you are about to see, but it is necessary." You feel like you should do as he says, but you could also disobey him and go and see your family.
Hearing and seeing the Earthmover near him calmed Maali down from the initial sudden feeling from the trip. However the panic settled back in as he saw his own form going through the plant life "I- we are not dead, are we?" he asks, quickly hoping after the older stag "Were are we, Master?"
"We are home," he answers, "such as it is." He sounds oddly wistful and morose. It feels strange to move through the plants undisturbed, but you stick close to him as you take in the sight of the forest. Eventually, you come to an apparently empty clearing, beyond which you can see the outlines of the all too familiar huts that made up your home.
As you enter the clearing, you see it is different from inside; a small group of seven or eight somber-looking ponies suddenly appear there, dressed in the familiar grey and red leather armor of the Shells of Light. Two of them are dressed in hooded robes instead of armor. The transparent ripple in the area surrounding them suggests that they have cloaked themselves from view with magic. Much of the surrounding foliage has been drenched in what appears to be oil, and there is a wagon containing several barrels of the substance. The oil seems to have been spread in a trail leading all the way to the village.
The only Shell that isn't a pony is a white goat with pale green eyes and high cheekbones. He is dressed in a short cape covering his right side and wearing a feathered cap, clutching a small bundle of unlit torches. Presumably he is the leader. Looking at the Earthmover, he is staring at the unicorn with a look of anger and disgust. "His name is Prandine," he says to you quietly, not taking his eyes off the goat. "Remember him, for our kin."
The Shell leader known as Prandine begins to distribute the torches among his men wordlessly. "Marshal, I don't know about this plan," one of the Shells speaks up as he unwillingly takes it. "It seems cruel."
"Bishop's orders," Prandine replies simply.
"But couldn't we just capture them all instead?" the Shell insists. Prandine ignores him and finishes distributing the torches. "How's the Silence spell holding?" he asks the two robed Shells, a pair of identical twin unicorn mares.
"It'll hold," one answers, also looking uncertain.
"And the Recall?"
One of the mages produces a flat, perfectly round stone with a glowing symbol engraved on it and looks it over. "Stable."
"Good." Prandine moves over to the wagon and produces a flint and tinder, lighting his own torch and passing it to a nearby Shell. "Everyone light their torch and throw it on my command," he intones. He moves towards your village and motions for everyone to follow. All the Shells look apprehensive now more than ever, but nonetheless follow his orders, the clearing soon being illuminated by their lit fire sources.
The Earthmover looks on in silence, shaking slightly as Prandine barks an order. You feel ill.
Maali stares in silence as the memory of the goat's face slowly marks his memory. His breathing gets faster, and like the Earthmover, his body starts shaking
"Master, I do-don't want to see this.." his voice cracks as he stutters
He nods slightly. "Enough of this," he says. His own voice trembles with sorrow and repressed anger. The last thing you see of the forest are the flames spreading through the undergrowth and up the trees, all twisted branches stretching upwards, and the moonlit sky quickly erupting into an orange haze. As the first shrieks of warning and terror from your kin ring out, Prandine looks on for a moment before turning away coldly.
You feel the Earthmover suddenly grab your shoulder firmly. A rushing sound fills your ears, and the next thing you know you are back in the cave, gasping for air. Your head spins as you readjust yourself to your surroundings. The Earthmover is back to being decrepit and immobile, a veritable corpse tangled and absorbed by the ancient tree. "I am sorry, Maali. Truly. You were not ready to relive that time, were you? I imagine the memory is still painful to you as it is to me." He looks mournful.
Panting, Maali slowly calms himself "No- well, yes. It is just" he wipes the forming tears in his eyes "Its been so long, and I tried so much to forget, to leave it behind and look for a new hope."
Sniffling, he looks up at the corpse among the roots, hugging his stomach "I finally moved on so long ago but now this feeling, These wounds are haunting me again"
He puts one hoof on your back and pats you slightly. Despite his crippled form, it is comforting on some level. "In truth," he sighs, "I know how you must feel. I have watched that moment a thousand times over, and I am never ready either." He speaks with strength, unbecoming of his frail body. "The past is already written. The ink is dry. But the future is like the boughs of a tree," he muses, "splitting into smaller and smaller branches. Some may break off, some may burn, but some yet may flourish and sprout leaves, flowers and seeds, eventually creating trees of their own in time…" He looks down at you, a faint fire in his ancient eyes. "I have been here for a very long time, young sapling. I will not be with you forever. When I am not, you will have to make some difficult decisions. Choose the right branch, Maali," he urges you. "Become the hope you have in your heart. Bring this world a new light, before it is snuffed out forever."
>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Loss. Night.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party made their way out of the Easthold cellars, but not before being found by a guard and having the nearby Shells on full alert. Before they did so, however, Gloria and Abenad assisted one of the Shell prisoners, a paladin named Cashmere who the party had met long ago. He was grateful for their help, and took up his mace which the party had found earlier. The party are now gathered on the beach facing a group of Shells, while Lapis is hurriedly packing everything into the boat they arrived on…
>Abenad is at 6/5>Galehaut is at 7/7>Gloria is at 6/5>Timber Hoof is at 6/6>Tourmaline is at 11/6
Known monolith locations:>Lunemark>Serpentine Keep>The Dreaming Spring>Heart of Jevel>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>680229
Abenad and Gloria quickly join the rest of the party on the moonlit beach, with the paladin Cashmere in tow. He looks rather bedraggled and poorly from his captivity. He opens his mouth to greet the party, but merely raises steels himself as the sees the incoming Shells. "Buy me time," Lapis says warily to you all as she looks over her shoulder at them. "I only need a few more moments then we can leave." The moon is gibbous and the clouds are clear. In the distance, you can see the vague outline of an enormous tiered tower, which you can only assume is the Tower of Silence.
The leader of this particular group of Shells steps forward. He is an older, long-snouted, heavy-lidded Diamond Dog with black and white spotted fur. He is wearing the usual Shell marshal's uniform of a short half cape and a feathered hat, and wields an elegant basket-hilted sword with an ornate gilded filigree pattern. You notice that most of the Shells he is leading are Changelings. For now there are fourteen in total, three of whom appear to be mages, but from the sounds of things many more are on their way. "Intruders!" the Dog barks to you. "You are outnumbered. Lay down your arms and surrender now, and you will be spared." On the wind, you can hear the very distant toll of a bell, coming from the direction of the Tower.
"Hey guys, remember that last time we were outnumbered by about twenty or so Shells and killed all of them except for the one that ran away, plus their captain?" Abenad asks, flexing his muscles through his fancy clothes in an intimidating manner.
[1d10] IntimidationRoll #1 6 = 6
"I bow before no mortal, let alone a dog."
Galehaut says, pointing the butt of his bittersteel battleaxe at the leader.
"Proceed no further, while you have numbers, you are outmatched. Your soldiers may have heard word of a brigantine of their race. It is no more, and so are the bugs that resided on it."
Timber scoffs at the suggestion that they will be "spared".
"If by 'spared', you mean subjected to a fate worse than death locked in a tower as we repeatedly starve to death and lose our minds, I'd rather not be spared. We already have what we need, and I suspect you won't miss it. At least, you won't miss it as much as your lives. We are leaving now. I suggest you don't try to stop us."
[1d10] for intimidating diplomacyRoll #1 4 = 4
"Actually, it was 40 of them! And do you remember all those bitch-ass changelings they had with them, and how Shells always kill their changelings first because they know they can't feed them properly, unless they're all prancing la-la homo fruits?"
[1d10] talking mad shitRoll #1 7 = 7
Gloria reaches for her blade to prepare herself for a possible attack. "There's no need for a fight… Our mission is too precious to surrender and be captured by you, allow us to leave safely and there will be no bloodshed." Gloria says, attempting to add onto the warnings her allies are giving.
>Talk smack get whacked
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
The Marshal doesn't seem convinced you're much of a threat to them, but his lackeys seem wary. Two more Shells join the group, both of them ironclad minotaurs wearing bucket helms. One is carrying a lance, while the other wields a greataxe aqnd a tower shield. The lance-wielding one looks at you, then whispers something into the Marshal's ear. He looks at you all curiously. "You are the Seekers of Souls," he says in realization. "The ones everyone's looking for…" He seems to reconsider his options as his lackeys look at him expectantly. In the distance, the bell tolls again.
He takes a long time to come to a decision before gritting his jaw and exhaling slightly. "Destroy that boat and capture them all," he commands. "Do not kill them. We'll have to take them to the Tower. The Bishop will have questions for them." Reluctantly, the Shells begin to advance. The leader hangs back, as do the three Shell mages who huddle together and begin to conjure what looks like a fireball, growing larger and larger in size. Seeing a fight begin to break out, Cashmere rushes to take on two of the Shells, while Kivoda is swept up in fighting a third. Lapis pauses for a moment and makes circular motions with her hooves, creating a protective bubble of faint white light around herself and the boat. "The barrier won't hold them off forever," she warns hurriedly. "Defend the boat or we'll be stranded here!"
The lance-wielding minotaur charges at Abenad, while the axe-wielding one swings at Tourmaline.
Two crossbow-wielding Shells open fire on Gloria.
Three Shells beset Timber with their swords.
Galehaut is attacked by two more.
>four turns remaining until the boat is readyRoll #1 1, 1 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #2 6, 7 + 1 = 14
/ Roll #3 8, 4, 9 = 21
/ Roll #4 9, 9 = 18
Abenad grabs the whalebone hammer by the end of its handle, swinging it at the two minotaurs charging at him and Tourmaline.
[1d10+4] Cleave @minotaursRoll #1 5 + 4 = 9
Should be +3, rolled 8 total.
"You have made your pact with your gods, now face the will of the All-in-One!"
he pulls his shield in front of him, standing stalwart.
>Protect: Abenad Tourmaline Gloria Timber>Retaliate
She puts the kibosh on the axe guy, punching him without the use of a weapon.
[1d10+4] Slam, disgruntledRoll #1 5 + 4 = 9
Timber considers his options momentarily as the ponies advance toward him.
"I'd take you up on that capturing alive for questioning offer if it weren't for the fact that we have a guest with us. I am not willing to risk the life of our guide. So, I apologize, but this will hurt."
Timber's body turns to stone as the swordsponies reach him.
Gloria raises her blade up, the light of her blade burns brightly. "Light, guide my blade so that we may take our vessel to safety!" Gloria cries out in prayer, the flames of her blade suddenly enveloping her to empower her strikes.
Gloria rushes forward, swinging her blade out to cleave the two crossbow shells that had fired at her.https://youtu.be/GRKuPhsMl_w?t=12s
>Empower Weapon: automatic instant, recharge 4 after effect ends, spell; caster or single ally gains +3 bonus to normal attacks. Each successful hit reduces the bonus by 1 until it reaches 0, ending the effect.
>Cleave x2: Crossbow-wielding shells
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
The wedge-like spike on the end of your weapon cracks their heavy steel armor like a robin's egg, piercing through skin and flesh. They are both knocked back from your mighty swing, stunned momentarily.>>680807
You ram into the axe-wielding minotaur with all the strength you can muster, knocking him flat on his back into the rocks. He lies sprawled for a moment, too winded to get back up. You see Kivoda struggling to fend off his attacker, whacking him to the ground with his staff before succumbing to injury himself and taking a knee.>>680806
You charge in front of your allies to draw the Shells' attention, hoping that the All-In-One is with you in this battle. You act quickly, blocking the shots fired at Gloria and leaping in front of Timber to protect him from his own assailants. You are dazed and weakened from your injuries, but you remain steadfast for now. In a haze, you see the paladin Cashmere take out the two Shells that were assailing him with his gold and silver mace, joining the battle at your side. >Galehaut takes 18 hits, at 1/7 due to Protect>>680808
Your body begins to turn to stone, Galehaut >>680809
Galehaut manages to block the incoming bolts with his shield, protecting you. You press the advantage and hack at your assailants from above with your sword, knocking the two of them to the ground in a flurry of blows. >Gloria takes 3 hits
The mages' spell is complete, the fireball hurtling towards Lapis' barrier at a frightening speed and exploding spectacularly on its surface. The spell wavers and is broken momentarily, but Lapis manages to hold her concentration for long enough to bring it back up. "I could use some assistance!" she shouts in a panic. The mages begin to conjure another fireball together.
While the axe-wielding minotaur is still dazed from Tourmaline's attack, the lance-wielding one gets right back up.
Three Shells go to attack Cashmere, while four of them beset Galehaut.
>three turns remaining until the boat is readyRoll #1 2, 8, 1, 10 = 21
Gloria attempts to fly towards the mages, readying one strike to bring down upon them.
>Blast on mage
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Take the mages, I shall batter back the brutes!"
Galehaut says, with a mighty swing.
[1d10] Cleave 7Roll #1 6 = 6
She breaks the minotaur's weapon-arm so that they can use him as a meatshield.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 5 + 3 = 8
Abenad swings the hammer back at the two minotaurs.
[1d10+3]CleaveRoll #1 8 + 3 = 11
>>680810>>680812>turn 1 of stone elemental
"Right," Timber nods as he runs toward the mages.
>running toward the mages
As he reaches them, he leaps forward to slam the closest one in the chest with his now stone hoof.
[1d10+3] to melee attack in the chest of one of the magesRoll #1 1 + 3 = 4
You interrupt their spellcasting by beheading one of the three. They quickly fall back and regroup. From over the rocks, you can see at least fifteen more Shells approaching quickly from the Easthold tower, if not more.>>680812
You only manage to kill one of the incoming Shells, cleaving him from shoulder to navel. The others lunge at you, piercing your side again.>end of Protect>Retaliate now at 21 hits, triggering next turn>>680813
The minotaur is clad in black iron armor, making it difficult to do so. Kivoda is beset by two more Shells while he tries to get back up.>>680814
You knock the lancer back down as soon as he gets back up, finishing off by driving the hammer's spike into the axe-wielding one's heart. He is dead in a matter of seconds.>>680815
One of the two remaining mages merely blasts you in the chest with a bolt of magic, knocking you backwards.>Timber takes 6 hits, current max 8
As Gloria and Timber attack the mages, the Shell marshal springs to action, stabbing at Gloria in strangely elegant motions.
The lancer gets back up again, undeterred by his companion's demise.
Four Shells rush to the minotaur's aid, two attacking Abenad and the other two Tourmaline.
One of the two mages fires another magic bolt at Timber.
One Shell keeps attacking Galehaut.
>two turns remaining until the boat is readyRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
/ Roll #2 1, 7 = 8
/ Roll #3 6, 6 = 12
/ Roll #4 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #5 10 = 10
Gloria turns to the marshal, riposting his strike with her own. "It did not have to come to this!" She shouts with her strike.
>Leap of Faith
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
>>680816>Disgruntled: […] You can end your loathing once the target is helpless, dead or decides to submit themselves to your mercy.>removing Disgruntled bonus to avoid the penalty to the other schmucks
She cleaves the two guys attacking her.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
>>680816>turn 2 of Stone Elemental
"Right… magic. Perhaps a less direct approach is in order," Timber says as he rubs his chin in pain.
He quickly sidesteps the inevitable fireball and left hooks the mage in the face. [1d10+3]
That's less direct!Roll #1 8 + 3 = 11
Galehaut kneels, praying to the All in One as the Shell looms forward.
"Myna, allow these aggressors to feel the pain of their own strike."
"May the world you go to have forgiveness on the life you're leaving," Abenad says to the dying axe-wielding minotaur, pointing down at him. He gets into a squat stance, then turns and swings at the two Shells attacking him.
[1d10+3]CleeeeeaveRoll #1 3 + 3 = 6
You manage to parry his blade instinctively, countering him with a stab to the gut. He grunts in pain and clutches his wound, but does not fall.>>680818
Both of the Shells manage to land hits on you. In response, you slice them both across the torso with your trusty axe, causing them to back off and reassess the situation. Over to your right, Kivoda has managed to knock one of his attackers to the floor and is trying to scramble away from the other. He looks wounded.>Tourmaline takes 2 hits>>680819
You punch the mage so hard you snap her neck with a stomach-turning crunch. She falls to the floor like a rag doll. The other mage's magic missile hits you square in the chest, knocking you to the ground.>Timber takes 4 hits, helpless>>680820
You kneel in unfaltering prayer, meeting his blow head on. All of a sudden, you feel the strength of the Forlorn Mother flowing through you, becoming more powerful than ever before. With a mighty battle cry, you charge into the fray, swinging your axe with reckless abandon. You behead the one who just attacked you, eviscerate a second, deal fatal blows to four more, and sever a sixth Shell's sword limb. He falls over onto the ground, shouting in pain. As your wrath subsides, you limp over to a nearby sand dune and collapse in a puddle of blood, succumbing to your grievous wounds. Your vision and hearing begin to fade.>Galehaut is at 0/1>>680821
You manage to kill one, but only nick the other. He counters with a quick jab of his thrusting sword, which pierces your leg.>Abenad takes 2 hits
Even more Shells arrive to the battle, outnumbering you at least 5 to 1. "Only a few moments longer!" Lapis calls. "We can do this!"
Despite his wounds, the Shell Marshal gracefully swings his blade at Gloria.
Seeing Timber fall, the mage turns his attention to Gloria, firing a magic missile at her.
Timber is beset by two of the reinforcement Shells.
The lance-wielding minotaur lunges at Abenad.
Tourmaline is attacked by the two Shells again, this time with two of the reinforcements joining the fight.
As Galehaut falls, Lapis takes a moment to cast a healing spell on him, revitalizing him for the time being. His wounds are still terrible, however.>Galehaut is now at 7/1
>one turn remaining until the boat is readyRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
/ Roll #3 6, 5 = 11
/ Roll #4 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #5 4, 7, 2, 2 = 15
Abenad swings the hammer one-handed at the head of the lance-wielding minotaur as he pierces him with the lance.
[1d10+1] Reflex ShotRoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
>>680822>final turn of Earth Elemental
"Well that was… mostly accidental," Timber apologizes to no one in reference to killing the mage. "Sorry about that," he says as he gets up.
[1d10] to get up
As he struggles to his hooves, the sand beneath his hooves glows slightly, and his burns begin to dissipate.
>Earthbound heals 1 woundRoll #1 8 = 8
Hey, there's enough room!
Tourmaline fucking murders the four guys.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Galehaut uses his battleaxe as a walking stick, making his way to the boat, helping with the last of the boxes with whatever strength he has.
Gloria sheaths her weapon and takes off into the air once more, flying over her allies. She takes her tome she has had at her side, opening it up and quickly finding the proper page.
"With Light's strength, let us see the moment that cast our souls and heart into torment. Let us find healing in Light's purest grace and a new path that leads to benevolent ways. May I pass on the wisdom of Light's glory, have its righteous words uttered through me. So contempt and pain are retained by none and have the mercey to see the crime undone." Gloria speaks out, her word being carried through the air as the tome begins to shine with the embers of light.
>Perseverance Tome: rolling if needed.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
As the minotaur charges you, you swing your hammer down instinctively. The spike pierces the helmet and cracks his skull in a single blow, killing him instantly. His lance still pierces your side, dealing a heavy blow to you.>Abenad takes 5 hits, helpless>>680824
Your wounds heal as you pick yourself up, ready to keep fighting. One of the Shells manages to slice at your leg, but you shrug it off.>Timber takes 1 hit>>680826
You manage to take out two of them and injure a third. The last one ducks out of the way and manages to stab you in the shoulder blade.>Tourmaline takes 2 hits>>680827
You help Lapis with the boat, keeping the mushrooms you pilfered safe. "My thanks," she says hurriedly, keeping a wary eye on the mages as she casts another healing spell on you.>Galehaut is at 7/2>>680828
You wince at the wounds dealt to you by the mage and the Shell leader, ascending into the air. As you speak, you feel the warmth of the Light embrace you. Everyone in the party is surrounded by radiant light, giving them the strength to persevere even in the worst of adversity. Abenad manages to get back up despite his fading strength, ready to leave. The Shells seem stunned by your display for a moment.>everyone has +3/2 max H/W until the end of combat, all helplessness removed
Lapis calls out to the party. "Over here, come on! We must to move quickly before we are overrun!" Cashmere heeds her advice and begins to charge through the group of Shells, knocking them back with his golden mace. Kivoda limps around them, hobbling over to the boat and climbing in.
The Shells begin to focus on the boat, ignoring the party in favor of attacking it. The mages shoot fireballs at the boat, while three Shells ready their crossbows and fire at the hull. Lapis' barrier is beginning to give out.
[3d10]Roll #1 5, 3 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 9, 9, 2 = 20
Abenad falls down to his knees, grabbing the lance in one of his hands and pulling it from the body. "I'm taking this," he says, turning to get up and run towards the boat.
[1d10] Recover, transition into running to the boat on successRoll #1 1 = 1
Just running towards the boat with the lance, then.
"I have a laaaance!"
Galehaut stands to block one of the crossbows bolts
[1d10] can't protect, so body blockingRoll #1 3 = 3
Gloria flies down, the flames of light engulfing her beginning to die down to leave a lasting glow. She charges for the boat quickly to get on with everyone else.
Before getting on however, she attempts to take a shot for the ship knowing the light is protecting her.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
She hops into the boat with Kivoda in her pocket.
Timber rushes into the boat.
"Let's get out of here," Timber shouts to everyone.
[1d10] for boat getting inRoll #1 8 = 8
You quickly run past the Shells and into the boat, carrying your newfound weapon. It is awfully heavy, made worse by the plethora of weapons you already carry.>>680832
You try to stand up, but your wounds pain you too much to be able to do so for long. Besides, standing up inside the wooden boat makes it rock dangerously, threatening to capsize.>>680833
The fireballs break the barrier, allowing the bolts to rain upon the little boat's hull. Seeing them incoming, you fly in front of one. It digs deep into your shoulder, causing you no small amount of pain, but you power through it and hold on long enough to get onto the boat.>>680835
You manage to support Kivoda before he succumbs to his injuries, helping him on board before climbing in yourself.>>680836
You climb in after everyone, rocking the boat slightly with your weight as you get in.
One crossbow bolt manages to pierce the hull with a loud crack, water quickly beginning to pour in. Lapis exclaims in her native tongue and concentrates hard, reaching out with one hoof and creating a barrier of light to plug it for the meantime. She says little else as she concentrates on keeping the ater out.
Cashmere is the last one on board, pushing the boat out into the water before clambering in himself and grabbing the oars. Before long, you are away from the shore, a crowd of Shells gathering on the beach as you begin to row away to safety. "…That was quite the performance," he says, huffing and puffing in exhaustion from the battle. "I knew we could pull through! Bravo! We all did our part, did we not? …Oh, but where are my manners," he says, facing Tourmaline, Timber and Galehaut. "I am Cashmere the Lambent. Your friends here rescued me from that wretched prison before. I believe we've traveled together in the past, actually, although I do not recognize most of you." He nods at Tourmaline and Timber. "The Coil, do you remember? We worked together and slew that foul crow demon."
The armor Tourmaline took from the cellar catches his eye. "Ah, my armor! I'm very grateful you were able to find it. I'm simply naked without it, don't you know."
Abenad stands up near the back end of the boat, standing up to catch any arrows or missiles that might hit the others.
She scrunches her mouth in displeasure at having to give up the armor, but gives it to him. "Oh right, you did that one thing to that crow… thing."
Seeing Kivoda's injuries, she wraps up his wounds, using it as an excuse to get close and rub noses with him. "Since when are you such a brave fighter?" she asks Kivoda.
Gloria lets herself relax finally, feeling exhausted from casting her last prayer. "By the Light… I've never felt the light course through me like that before…" Gloria says, amazement breaking through the exhaustion in her voice. "You all did well back there, at least we can rest now…"
Timber narrows his eyes in vague recognition. "The knight that couldn't speak?" he asks, pointing at Cashmere. "Sorry, I don't remember much of that actual fight. I was… having my own excursion at the time."
Galehaut keeps close eye on the crack and of the surroundings whilst they travel.>All my passive spot check stuff
"Galehaut, former city guard of Ortague, a servant before the many heads of the All in One. If you have traveled with this group, then I will put my trust in you."
he takes not to clean and sew shut his wounds when he is on solid ground, the cloth of his armor sticking to the crimson ichor that mats his fur.
"Oh yeah, my name's Abenad," he says, "I'm a future duke. It remains to be seen."
The Shells seem to have ceased fire. You can see the silhouette of the Dog marshal standing amidst his men. Something tells you that's not the last you've seen of him.>>680840
Kivoda winces as you treat his injuries, but pretends not to hurt. "Well, I have to be, don't I? Nowhere to run off to in a situation like that, right?" He shrugs.
Cashmere takes his armor back in satisfaction, trying unsuccessfully to put it on in the cramped little wooden boat. "Thank you, sincerely. I won't forget this.">>680841
"We are all lucky to be in one piece," Lapis muses, still concentrating on holding the barrier. "A few moments more and we would have been swarmed. Let us rest, and recover once we get to the Shrine. We still have a long journey ahead of us beneath the waves." You do not relish the thought of doing so. Looking around at the many miles of water around you, you see only swirling darkness.>>680842
"The very same," he answers. "I have you and your friends to thank for the recovery of my voice. Unfortunately, my further expeditions in the Coil revealed no trace of the Sword of Moonlight. And so the hunt continues…" He sighs.>>680843
As long as Lapis is allowed to maintain her concentration, then you should be fine.
"Any servant of the All-In-One is a worthy ally in my eyes," Cashmere says jovially as he bandages his leg. "Although I will not be with you for long. I have my own quest, after all, as ordained by King Endon years ago. Know you the name of Francois, the Moonlight Knight?"
In that case I pull my dick out and wave it at them mockingly while facing away from the group.
He bears his shield,
"I would like to believe as such. He is of my race, patron, and realm: I would see him to crusade alongside with, if I could."
"Such a tough mercenary of the sands. Shall I reward you with soup and a blanket for the night? I have no money, you see," she says, uncaring of the others' presence as they prepare to spend many chapters on this boat.
"Fascinating that so many know of him yet no one knows where he left his apparently powerful weapon," Timber muses.
"Where will you go now, Cashmere?" Timber asks. "Shall we drop you off somewhere? Our next destination is not particularly… convenient."
Gloria sighs as she glances at the water, the thought of delving into the depths of the sea doesn't really sound pleasant when you're going to be soaking wet the whole time.
She sit and gazes into the water as exhaustion begins to settle in, resting for the ride.
You are too far off for them to be able to see you, making your taunting fruitless.>>680847
"By the Ten!" Cashmere exclaims at the sight of it. "Is that really Dusk itself? …Then perhaps there is hope, after all. Even so, Francois lived centuries ago. Unless he discovered some form of immortality, it is more than likely he has perished, my friend. My king ordered me to go forth and find his namesake, the Sword of Moonlight. I have spent quite some time now searching for it. Tell me, friend, how came you by his shield? Any clue as to where he was last seen would be most appreciated.">>680848
"A blanket would be nice, actually," he says, huddling close to you for warmth. "It's a bit chilly out, don't you think?">>680849
"You are going to the Disciples' sanctuary, yes? I will use the monolith to warp away, and make my way from there. There's many rumors as to where he was last seen. One such rumor pointed me towards the Coil, but to no fruit. When the Shells captured me, I was making my way north, towards the Archbacks. There is a little known place there called the Funnel. Rumor has it that Francois slew a dragon there. And so becomes my destination.">>680850
Despite the heavy battle you endured, the wind is still and the sea calm tonight. You gaze out into the water blankly and get some rest, eventually drifting off into slumber.
It is the morning after your first lesson with the Earthmover. Your sleep was restless, haunted by strange dreams of a winged figure draped in rags, trudging and struggling through an endless expanse of colorless fog. A nameless, formless presence lurked just out of sight of the straggler, filled with infinite malice. In your dream, you tried to approach whatever lied beyond the fog, but found yourself filled with indescribable dread that roused you from your sleep.
You currently find yourself on a mass of tangled roots, twisted and formed into a makeshift bed of sorts. A water canteen and a simple wooden bowl have been left in front of you, containing a variety of fruits such as apples, grapes and berries. Light is shining through the small cobwebbed cracks in the cave ceiling, a warm orange glow illuminating the area. At his perch, the Earthmover sits silently, his eyes closed and his expression neutral. It is difficult to tell whether he is sleeping or not; as a matter of fact, you are not sure whether he even sleeps at all.
Maali didn't seem worried if the Earthmover was asleep or not, and if he was, the little deer didn't show it, instead he decided to silently enjoy his breakfast, waiting for his Master to start
The breakfast provided is better than it looks. The apples are ripe and filling, the grapes round and juicy, and the berries just the right amount of sweetness, with a touch of sour. As you eat, the Earthmover soon wakes, giving you a kindly smile and sighing slightly. "Ah. Good morning, young sapling. I sent for food while you were asleep. I'm afraid the Disciples have little variety in their cuisine, but I hope it is to your liking. Did you sleep well?"
Ripe, juicy and sweet enough to make him smile. The young deer ate carefully and spat out the seeds, putting them away in his bag with the many others
"It is perfect, Master… Though I wouldn't reject some honey next time" he says jokingly. His brief smile quickly vanished though "Well enough. The Only thing that bothered me was this odd dream that I had" he passed on his dreams to the elder stag
He doesn't seem surprised by your recount of the dream, but does not offer any elucidation on it. "I cannot tell you what it meant, unfortunately. We should only hope it was but a dream, and not a vision. Now, let us concentrate on the present, for we have much to cover today. You must start on the path of skinwalking before you are ready to See through the trees again. No more Seeing for now."
His gaze lingers on a cobweb nestled in between some tangled roots, in which you can see a smallish brown spider clinging to the pale strands, surrounded by husks of insects. "I thought we might try a less complex creature than a mouse. It might be the easiest path to take for the meantime. …You are not afraid of spiders, are you?" he asks, although you feel like he already knows the answer.
Maali's gaze followed the Earthmover's as he pursed his lips, a slightly uncertainty showing in his face "No?… They are alive and a child of the world too. J-just like all of us…"
He swallowed the lump forming in his throat and closed his eyes, again taking a deep breath as he concentrated
'1d10'Roll #1 5 = 5
He nods sagely. "Indeed. They are born of nature, just like we are. Just like this tree. They are kin to us in a way, although they take a different form. You should not fear it," he urges. Empty your mind and become one.
The Earthmover watches as you concentrate, your amulet glowing bright green as ever with his presence. Nothing happens for a moment; then, your head spins and the world blurs around you, making you dizzybut when you do you find yourself staring at your own enormous body, slumped over as it is with its eyes and amulet glowing white. Everything around you looks a million times larger than it ever has before. This lasts only for a brief instant before you feel yourself getting dragged back out, reawakening in your own body, gasping for air. The Earthmover looks impressed, and the spider remains inert.
"The scraps of an Immortal Soul have strengthened your soul, young sapling," the ancient stag remarks as you try and gain your bearings. "You are doing in moments what took me a very long time to learn. I knew you would be powerful, but I did not see how much so. How are you feeling?" he asks warmly. "Do you need anything?"
It takes you a moment to make sense of everything, but when you do*
He shook off the dizziness, panting for air with a hoof on his chest. It took him a few seconds to full calm down, shaking his head "No, I feel fine, Master, Actually I feel better" he looked up at the spider
"seeing myself and the world with someone else's eyes, even if for a moment… It was so scary and amazing at the same time" smiling, he glanced back at the stag covered in roots "May I try it again?"
'1d10' rolling in advanceRoll #1 7 = 7
He merely nods and observes in anticipation as you focus on moving into the arachnid again. It comes to you much easier this time, and the experience is much less disorienting. As you move into the spider's body, you can't help but marvel at how big everything looks. The roots seem to tower up to the heavens, thick as a castle wall. You can barely see the roof. You look at your own body, now the size of a mountain, your eyes rolled back into their sockets as you possess the creature. You try to move, but find it difficult to control. It takes no small amount of concentration to keep the spider controlled and move around in it at the same time, but you soon manage to hop off of the web and plummet to the rocky floor, millions of miles below you yet feeling unharmed. The tiny rocks on the floor are like boulders now, and the blanket of fog that usually comes up to the base of your hooves now blocks everything from your sight.
You feel your control beginning to slip, and before you know it you are back in your original body, still dazed and confused but otherwise fine. You see the spider climb up a root and back onto its web. The Earthmover's lips curve into a thin smile. "Excellent," he says. "Most excellent. These are your first steps on a long road, young sapling. Mastery of skinwalking will come to you quickly."
"Soon, you will not only walk, Maali," the Earthmover promises, "but you will fly."
>new skill: Skinwalking: recharge 4 after effect ends; Take full control of a non-magical creature for 3 turns, or 5 on a crit. You are unable to communicate with others while skinwalking, but can access areas and see things that you would otherwise be unable to do. Your original body is immobile while skinwalking, and the effect can be ended early if necessary. Larger and more intelligent creatures may be more difficult to skinwalk, or require continuous rolls to maintain controlled.
Over the coming days, your training with the Earthmover continues. It is difficult to tell how much time passes in that dark cave. A pale sun shines through the gaps in the roots, rising and setting and rising again. Dark clouds often fill the sky, threatening to turn to storms but never fulfilling their promise. Under the great tree, you two deer sit upon thrones of roots, whispering in darkness as small creatures scamper in the foggy cave floor.
Thrice a day, you are brought food by an unspeaking, blindfolded Disciple. It consists mostly of rice, fruit and grasses, with the occasional loaf of bread or small round pastry filled with jam of a fruit you don't recognize. You have the little cave-dwelling mice to keep you company, as well as the ancient cadaver that is the Earthmover.
Day in, day out, you sit on that wooden, gnarled throne, listening to the hoarse whispers of your teacher, practicing your skinwalking. "Remember, you must never fear darkness, Maali," he says often, his words accompanied by a faint rustling of wood and leaf. “Respect it and venerate it, yes, but never fear it, no more than you should fear the wind or the sea. The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother’s milk. Darkness will make you strong.”
You soon learn that while you still require material sustenance, the Earthmover draws life from the tree he has become one with. He does not eat or drink: he only sleeps, dreams, and watches the world from his perch. You are unnerved at the thought of becoming like him, a grisly immobile talking corpse entangled in an ancient tree. As wise and thoughtful as the Earthmover is, you can only hope that is not your destiny.
Your skills in skinwalking progress quickly, soon being able to take control of the isle's inhabitants with relative ease. While you started with simple animals such as spiders and mice, you soon become accustomed to controlling other creatures of the island such as the birds in the sky, or the fish in the sea below. It soon becomes as easy as slipping on a robe. You find it difficult to maintain your control over them sometimes, their base instincts sometimes taking over and throwing you out of their body. Some of the more complex creatures maintain some consciousness while you possess them. As you use them, you feel a presence by your side, meek and even fearful as you move about and explore the area surrounding you in their bodies. You sometimes wonder what would happen if you were to skinwalk into a sentient being such as a pony.
While skinwalking, you discover that the cave runs deeper than it appears to from the initial cavern. Through gaps in the roots and cracks in the walls, you discover an underground river far below, the water black as pitch and the caverns frigid and lifeless. No living thing dwells here, and the water has an unpleasant bitter flavor to it. The only fish that you find in the underground river are dead, blind, and hideously swollen. Contrary to what he often says about darkness, the Earthmover has advised you to stay away from that place.
Your strange dreams continue over the following days, although the Earthmover no longer shows you any visions through the tree. On the second night, you dream of your friends, huddled together on a blood-soaked beach, surrounded by faces of red and grey. A golden giant looms over them all. Another night, you dream of them plunging into an abyss of infinite inky blackness, innumerable floundering grasping things lurking just out of their reach. Some time later, you have a nightmare about a festering banquet of slaughtered corpses, strewn across overturned chairs and hacked tables. Severed hands and hooves clutch bloody cups and wooden spoons, and a wolf-headed figure at the head of the table feasts on its own eyes.
You woke up drenched in cold sweat that night, but nobody came to comfort you. When you told the Earthmover of this dream, he looked troubled, but told you to forget as he did with the first dream. "Dreams can betray you," he said earnestly. "And are easily manipulated by outsiders. You should be wary of what you see when your mind runs wild, and take it with a grain of salt." He seemed more distant than usual that day.
Much time has passed now since you first started. It is a cold night, the moon a black hole in the sky and a bitter wind whispering through the primordial roots. "I feel you are ready to try Seeing again," the Earthmover murmurs as you finish another session of skinwalking, this time into a bat. "You have progressed much faster than I ever anticipated. What do you think? Should we try it?" Outside, you hear the familiar hoofsteps of the blind Disciple coming with your dinner.
He kept his eyes closed for a few seconds more, as if lingering on the feeling of the wind caressing his body
Without opening them, the younger deer spoke up "I feel I will never be truly ready to see that again Master. Neither of us will be"
Getting up on his hooves, he limbers up a bit "But I feel that I could take it better this time. Let's try it, Master" he says with confidence
"You will not need to See into that moment," he explains calmly. "There are other things that you learn. But before we do, you should be able to do it on your own. I will not be able to guide you forever. Skinwalking into a tree is no small feat, but I am confident you will be able to master it in time."
The blind Disciple soon arrives, sets down the meal in front of you, bows respectfully then leaves. Apart from your dinner of warm, freshly baked bread and honey, there is something else that has been brought along with it: a smaller wooden bowl made of very dark wood, much like the tree you are under now. Inside is a thick, heavy white paste, with dark red veins running through it. A spoon has been provided, made of the same wood. For some reason, the sight of the paste makes you feel ill; it is clear that the substance is made of some sort of plant extract, but in the moonlight, the red streaks in it look remarkably like blood. "A paste of seeds from this very tree," the Earthmover explains. "It will help awaken your gifts, and strengthen your connection with nature. It may not taste very good, but you should still consume it before you try skinwalking the tree."
With a bit of discomfort, Maali pulled the bowl close to himself "You know, I never asked you about this tree, Master" he mutters before eating, holding the spoon rather clumsily,leaving the bread for last, probably to get rid of the taste of the white mush
He smiles. "I planted it, when I first came to this island. It grew as I did, and blossomed as I did, over eons and eons into what we see now. I had a name in that time, before the Disciples came. I had a name…" He seems wistful all of a sudden, trailing off as you eat the pasty substance.
It has a bitter taste, like tree nuts but much less pleasant. The first spoonful is the hardest to swallow, and you have to force yourself not to retch it up. The second tastes better, the third almost sweet. To your surprise, you almost eagerly spoon up the rest. To find it bitter and unpalatable now seems like a joke. It tastes of honey, of new-fallen leaves, of freshly brewed tea from your mother's own recipe. The fresh warm bread is almost tasteless in comparison; however, after eating it, you don't feel any different. It's almost a disappointment after how strangely good it tasted.
"Now, says the Earthmover gently, "close your eyes. Slip your skin, as you do when you join with the animals. But this time, go into the roots instead. Follow them up through the earth, up to the tree above, and tell me what you see."
His tongue moved around in his mouth, idly reaching for a Bit more of that taste. He nodded, and repeated the routine he grew so used to over the days; closing his eyes and focusing, this time on the roots of the tree surrounding both of them
'1d10'Roll #1 7 = 7
You focus on skinwalking into the tree, trying to drift away into the roots. For an instant you can see the cavern in its black mantle, the waves crashing against the rocks outside, and the forbidden river rushing by below. Then, all of a sudden, you are back home again, in the forest.
Tukumakilua of the Guarira sits upon a rock beside a crystal blue pond in a small clearing, the dark roots of the tree at her back arching up around her. She is sitting idly, lost in thought as she gazes out onto the water. You are by your mother's side, yet she pays you no notice. She is humming faintly. It is a tune you heard many times as a child.
The phantom of a deer opened his mouth for a moment before he seemed to remember
Quietly, he watched the scene unfold, his eyes focused on the face of his mother and his old master
You and your mother are alone at the pond. The Earthmover is nowhere to be found. Your mother looks saddened by something. You only wish you could know what she is thinking. You move a little closer to her, even though you know you cannot do anything. As you do, she jumps all of a sudden, turning to look directly at you. "Who's there?" she asks in your native tongue. And then, suddenly, everything pulls away. Your mother and the pool and the trees fade and are gone, and you are back in the dimness of the cavern. The roots of your wooden throne seem to cradle you.
"Tell me what you saw," the Earthmover demands. He sounds a lot more firm than he usually does.
He takes a brief moment to fully come back to his senses "Ungh. My mother, and my teacher was there too, for a second, but then I was alone with my mother in a pond and-…" He paused, took a deep breath and calmly explained his vision again, from the beginning and with more detail
Upon reaching the end, Maali's face showed disturbance and worry, wordlessly asking for an answer
As you relay your story to him, the Earthmover's expression softens, looking almost relieved. "You saw only what you wished to see, young sapling," he explains. "You still yearn for home, so that is what you saw. You must know how to look before you can hope to see. Time is differently for trees than for our kind. Sun, and soil, and water. That is what a tree understands, not days or years or centuries. For us, time is like a river. We are trapped in the current, hurtling from past to present, always moving in the same direction. Trees, however, root and grow and die in the same place. The river does not move them. An oak is an acorn, and an acorn is an oak. And to these, the most ancient of trees, a thousand thousand of our years are a moment to them. Through such gates, you and I may gaze into the past."
"When you approached her, she did not hear you," he continues. "She heard a whisper on the wind, a rustling among the leaves. You cannot speak to her, try as you might. I know." He hesitates for a moment. "I… I have my own ghosts, Maali. A brother I loved, a brother I hated, a doe I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. It is already written, and the ink is dry." You recall that he has used that same phrase before, on the first day you met him.
"Once you have mastered your gifts, young sapling, you may look where you will and see what the trees have seen, be it yesterday or last year or a thousand ages past. I will guide you at first, but I will not be with you forever. We live our lives trapped in an eternal now, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow. That is all we know of the days to come. Certain moths live their whole lives in a day, yet to them that little span of time must seem as long as years and decades do to us. An oak may live three hundred years, a redwood tree three thousand. A tree such as this will live forever if left undisturbed. To them, seasons pass in the flutter of a moth’s wing, and the past, present, and future are one. Your sight will not be limited to your old home, either. The first of us carved eyes into these trees to awaken them, and those are the first eyes a new Seer learns to use… but in time you will See well beyond the trees themselves."
The youngest deer did not stop the tears from coming this time, leaning forward and heeding to the Old stag's words with all of his being
For a few seconds after the speech, he seemed troubled, as if struggling with his own words. It took almost a full minute of stuttering and gagging before Maali dried his tears and bowed, deciding that a simple, but honest "Yes, Master" would suffice
The Earthmover closes his eyes for a moment. In lieu of him holding you, you find the roots moving by his will, reaching up and holding you gently as a grandfather embraces his grandson. He looks saddened again and sighs. A chill wind blows. "I promise you this, Maali. In time, you will be able to see your family whenever you wish, for whatever comfort it may bring. Perhaps in a month, or three, or ten. I have not glimpsed that. But mark my words, it will come to you as it did to me. But I am tired now, and the trees are calling me. We will resume on the morrow."
Post your sheets and write up a reply to >>680851
if you have one.
I am here.
Also, I forgot what my current H/W is.
"Aye, but the dead no longer wish to remain such, and a knight of such stature surely would not rest during these times of trouble, whether through a pure or corrupted soul."
he turns to his shield, looking at it for a time.
"I wish too, to know where this shield was procured from. There is a fickle merchant who appears and leaves seemingly at will in this world, one who goes by Clean Slate. He is there when you need him and not, and achieves his goods in ways that the gods would deem neither honest nor theiving."
He looks to it,
"The stallion seemingly goes and is everywhere. I would have to meet him again, to ask where he might have found the artifact."
>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Loss. Night.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party successfully fended off a garrison of Shells and managed to escape the fortress of Easthold-By-The-Sea. Accompanying them to the Shrine is the paladin Cashmere, who the party had managed to rescue before taking off with the fungal extract required for the next leg of their journey. Cashmere has told the party that he shares a similar goal to Galehaut, seeking to retrieve his legendary Moonlight Greatsword. The party are currently on the rowboat returning to the Shrine, where the Disciples await their return…
>Abenad is at 6/5>Galehaut is at 7/7>Gloria is at 6/5>Timber Hoof is at 6/6>Tourmaline is at 11/6
Known monolith locations:>Lunemark>Serpentine Keep>The Dreaming Spring>Heart of Jevel>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>680795>>680979
Cashmere nods thoughtfully. "A difficult pony to reach, it seems. I can only hope I encounter him at some point in the near future. As for yourself, I wish you the best of luck. We share the same goal, after all.">>680975>>680976>>680977
It is another hour or so before your party returns to the Shrine. The sun is only barely beginning to peek out over the horizon, visibility improving as you approach the main island of the Disciples. As your boat begins to pull in to the pier, a lone Disciple on guard duty hails you, ringing a loud, deep gong that resonates over the waves and across the island. As you dock, a small crowd of Disciples gathers, the First Speaker at the lead in his long yellow silk robe and golden crook. An excited murmur grows among the crowd, until the First Speaker thumps his crook on the ground firmly. Silence falls almost instantly, and the hooded pony faces you all. "Brave Seekers of Souls," he says. "It gladdens us all to see you have returned. You bring hope to us all. I trust your mission was successful?"
"Whilst the Shells hindered our quest for the reagents, our cause was more righteous than theirs, and thus the gods favored us."
As the speaker asks about the mission status, Abenad pats his clothes and pockets as if looking for something. "Oh no, I dropped it," he says, "Guess we'll have to go back."
"Yes, and some weirdo knight decided to join us. May we keep him?"
"We had a bit of trouble on our way out… but we were successful nonetheless." Gloria says, giving the First Speaker a bow.
"It was," Timber nods. "Now, I trust someone can explain to us how to use what we just stole?"
"…Indeed." He doesn't seem very pleased with your devotion to the All-In-One, but makes no further comment.>>680982
The First Speaker seems confused, while Lapis glares daggers at you.>>680983
As you introduce Cashmere to the Speaker, he turns his attention to him. "And who are you?"
"Cashmere the Lambent, o Speaker," the bedraggled paladin responds politely, bowing rather stiffly. "The heroes rescued me from Easthold during their foray. If I may, would I be able to stay among you? Not for long, just so I can take the time to get prepared for my own quest."
He thinks for a moment, then merely nods. "See that our guest is cleaned, fed and rested," he orders. Several Disciples dutifully break off from the crowd and move to Cashmere's side, guiding him away into the Shrine.>>680984
He nods. "Then order shall be restored. You are all blessed on this day, heroes. If you had failed in your mission, the consequences would have been dire for all.">>680985
"It will be prepared into a potion by our alchemists. You will need to use them periodically while below the waves." He motions again, and three more Disciples split off from the main group and take the bag of fungi away.
The First Speaker motions for you all to follow him, the crowd parting to give him a wide berth. He is flanked by two other Disciples. "The hour is late. I am sure you must be very tired. If you require food or sleep, we have both to offer you. The next path on your journey will be a long and arduous one, I fear. Please, take your time in getting ready. The Bleeding Jelly potion will be brought to you soon."
"In addition, if it please you, we would conduct upon you a sacred ritual before you depart. It is traditionally reserved for those of us venturing into unknown regions. Will you accept our blessing? I know you are not of our faith, but it would bring peace of mind to us all while you are away."
"I would accept a blessing," Abenad says, after giving Lapis a smug look of satisfaction from someone that's successfully confused someone.
She looks at Kivoda for his input. "What do you think? Ought we to take their whatever-it-is?"
"I do not make it my intention to step on the hooves of one of another faith. While it is not mine, we will share it for the ritual."
Galehaut says, commenting on both the Speaker's reaction earlier and the offer of the blessing,
"A tree that doesn't bend breaks in the wind."
Timber bows gratefully. "I've never been one to turn a nose up at another's faith. Or to turn down a potential boon. So, I'll accept your blessing gratefully."
"Also, I assume these potions are in some way waterproof? If we are to drink them while underwater, that could be a complicated and potentially disastrous process otherwise."
Gloria smiles at the offer for a sacred ritual. "I would be honored to take part in your ritual, First Speaker. I pray one day I can return the gesture by one day restoring Light to this land…"
He shrugs. "It couldn't hurt, I guess." He seems to have something on his mind.>>680987>>680989>>680990>>680991
The First Speaker smiles, pausing as you arrive at the hut you have been given as a sanctuary. "It warms my heart to hear this. It will take some time to prepare, so we will send for you shortly. For now, you should rest, and plan." With that, he bows and leaves you, his two followers accompanying him as he moves in the direction of the main temple.
After a brief silence, Kivoda cleas his throat and speaks up. "Ahem. Everyone, I want you to know that I'm very grateful for your company. Unfortunately though, I don't think I'll be able to follow where you're going. I can't swim, you see. So I'll be waiting here for when you return, alright? Er, if you return. …Which I'm sure you will."
Lapis slumps down on one of the mattresses, sighing in content after the ordeal you went through. She yawns after a moment. "Aren't you all tired? I'm just about ready to fall asleep myself."
"Tired, yes. Tired? No."
Galehaut says, pulling out 'Artifacts Lost To Time' from his satchel, looking it over once or twice, then setting it down, uninterested.
"I should learn meditation, it is a practice of mine, but I feel like it'd be good for me."
Abenad bows politely after the First speaker and his attendants leave. "I'll be going to bed, then," he says, going to his cell, "Good night, everyone, don't ruin your sleep with bad dreams." He gets into his bedclothes and has a nice lie down.
"Well, we're not swimming, you lummox. We're… on a boat or something. I think. I let the others keep a focus on such things. You don't have to get all dramatic about it."
"Very tired…" Gloria replies to Lapis, beginning to take off her armor so that she could rest properly. "I don't think I can eat until I wake up." She says, resting on her own mattress.
Gloria yawns, stretching her wings and legs before starting to curl up and use her own wings to blanket herself. "Wake me up when breakfast is ready…" She says tiredly, beginning to slowly drift off into sleep.
"I can conjure a barrier to give us a few moments to breathe when they start to wear off," Lapis explains. "As long as we take on before going in, we should be safe and so should the potions."
"That makes sense," Timber nods thoughtfully.
"I assume the plan is to sail as far out as we can until we are just above the point at which we need to dive. No point in wasting excess energy.">>680993
"I often find myself lost in idle thought," Timber comments. "I don't know if you can call it meditation, but it certainly is calming. The best advice I can give is to close your eyes and focus on a single point on your body."
Galehaut muses to himself,
"I do that in battle, though. I think of one injury in particular, so I don't feel body-wise agony."
"Perhaps I will try it tonight, though."
"Interesting," Timber says, suddenly seeming more into the conversation. "I've never gotten a good point of view into the mindset of a person who is a fighter by trade. In case it hasn't been clear by my…" Timber chuckles. "Brutish approach to combat, I'm not particularly adept at it. I'd like to understand how you think in a fight more."
"What benefit does it give you to focus on a single injury? Is it to focus on not making the most important injury worse?"
"I don't fight, I protect. It's hard to defend many people without giving everything you have. In my case, my body is what I give to protect those I care for."
he rubs a front shoulder,
"Focusing on one injury means it hurts that much more, yes. But, it frees up the rest of your body to continue fighting. If I focus my pain on my sword-arm, then I can focus the rest of my energy on defending my allies."
"I am sure it is a placebo, but I feel like my psychology is at least a little sound."
You relax, exhausted after your adventure. Darkness soon falls, and you quickly fall asleep.>>680993
You thumb through the book, briefly reading up on a weapon named the Axe of Fortune. Said to be both blessed and cursed by Abteus, god of Chance and Whim, it is written that the bearer will receive a huge bounty of treasure, but also meet a terrible fate.>>680995>>680998
"That's the idea," Lapis chimes in. "We'll have to go diving after we get to the coordinates. It would behoove you not to go if you can't swim," she tells Kivoda. He nods. "Don't you worry about me," he says to Tourmaline. "I'll be fine here. Worry about yourselves really. Diving sounds perilous. I shudder to think what you'll find down there."
"By the way," Lapis says to all of you, "if it hasn't occurred to you already, you'll have to travel lightly when we leave. Carry only what you absolutely need, and leave your armor behind. Otherwise you'll sink like a stone."
You all soon succumb to your exhaustion and slip into a deep and dreamless slumber. You are woken after a few hours by a polite knock on the door. "Hello? Anyone awake in there?" It is Cashmere's voice. "They told me to come and find you. You're undergoing a sacred rite, or something along those lines. Also, I brought some breakfast."
"I chose words poorly. I suppose I should have described as something more along the lines of being one who partakes of combat by trade."
"But, you are certainly right to not doubt the power of a placebo. The mind is a powerful thing. But, especially in the role of protector, I'm interested that this mentality doesn't lead to dangerous outcomes. If you work an injury too hard, it could lead to collapse and failure. Of course, I've thus far been impressed by the amount of damage you can withstand."
"Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to tell you. Unless we are inside or some other place less… attached to nature, I advise you protect others. Thanks to my attachment to nature being strengthened by the Immortal Souls, it seems that my body regenerates at a… rather outrageous rate. I'd prefer it if you saved your stamina for those who need it more.">>681002>don't bring your armor
"What if my armor is my catalyst?" Timber asks with concern. "It's literally the only possession I have…"
"Thank you, Cashmere," Timber says cordially as he gets up. Living alone in the wild makes one get used to going from full on asleep to full on awake in an instant. It's a point of pride to Timber.
"Where will the ritual take place?" he asks as he quickly gets a few bites of food.
Gloria is now lying on her back, leg twitching a bit in her sleep. After hearing the knock, she suddenly jolts up with her feathers all ruffled. "Who-wha?" Gloria says, stumbling on her words after being awoken so suddenly.
When Gloria hears Cashmere's voice she begins to stretch again, brushing her feathers down with her claw before walking over to the door and putting on a smile, despite her morning grogginess. "Did someone say breakfast?" She asks to greet Cashmere.
>>681002>Galehaut did not sleep the entire night, due to Restless, he tried meditating.
"Thank you, comrade."
he begins eating whatever the knight took with.>>681003
"Ah, but do you not see me at the end of every battle? I am in danger every time I do such defending. As I hope the party trusts in my shield, so do I in the group's ability to take care of the threat at hand. I will keep that in to account, though."
He says, nodding his head.
"If it's so perilous, should I stay as well?" she asks, frustrated. "I can hardly swim either, really, and I'm not keen on letting them ogle me."
Abenad leaps from his mattress to the breakfast table, landing on his side and pulling some food from the breakfast tray. "Excellent," he says, "And what do you plan on doing, Kashmir?"
"Hmm.." Timber contemplates. "I suppose there is more to battle than risk and reward."
"I hadn't considered that," she answers, touching her chin. "Would it be possible to only take a part of it? Otherwise I'm not quite sure what to do. We don't normally need catalysts ourselves, seeing as our bodies contain innate magic.">>681006
"But you'll have to go, won't you?" he asks with concern. "You're one of the Seekers of Souls, after all. I'm just me. I don't have any fragments of an Immortal Soul inside me." He shrugs.
Lapis enters the conversation. "I understand if you don't want to leave. I don't want to go either, to be honest, but it is the Earthmover's will that I accompany you. If you wish to stay, then I'm sure we can make arrangements for that. What will you do?">>681007
"I'll stay to watch the ritual, then I'll be going, I suppose. It's a long road from here to the Funnel.">>681003>>681004>>681005>>681006>>681007
Cashmere is standing at the door with his usual friendly grin, accompanied by another Disciple. He looks several orders of magnitude better than he did when you first met him, having washed and straightened his previously bedraggled mane and trimmed his shaggy beard to form. Overall, he looks every bit the part of a paladin now. He is holding a wooden tray containing a bowl of small round pastries you don't recognize. They are fresh out of the oven judging from their warmth, and are filled with some sort of jam made of a disparity of fruits. You find them quite tasty. "Tuck in, tuck in," he says eagerly. "I've already had my fill. They're quite delicious."
The Disciple accompanying Cashmere steps forward. "The First Speaker awaits you, on the isle of Shiera's Bones," he states quietly. "From there, you will receive the Ekri-Norad. A ship has also been prepared to take you out into a coral reef off the shore. When you are ready, follow me, Soul-Seekers." He bows politely.
Galehaut nods, waiting for the rest to finish.
"Funny thing about funnels is that you'll always end up out the other end," Abenad says as he munches on breakfast, taking a handful of jam pastries. "Mm, rather delicious."
Gloria can't tell which sight she enjoys more, the good looking stallion or the pastries. "What are these?" She asks, taking one as she moves aside to allow others to take one. Gloria sniffs the pastry, the look on her face faltering to one of excitement after smelling how good it smells, only to munch away at it somewhat quickly and only hesitating a few bites to enjoy chewing on it longer.
After listening to the Disciple, Gloria finishes the last bite of her first pastry, absentmindedly grabbing for another one. "Ekri-Norad? I take it that's the name of the ceremony?" She asks, munching down on the second pastry.
"I'm not sure what it would do to my body to turn into an elemental without the catalyst. It always grows from within the armor so I've never actually seen the effects. At best, it would do nothing. At worst…" Timber muses for a moment.
"I suppose I can keep the armor on my hooves. I can limit the elemental effect to that area. The only form it would affect greatly would be the Stone Elemental. And… I don't think I should be using that underwater anyway. So, I'll just bring the gauntlets."
Timber removes the rest of his armor apprehensively. Once it is all off, he still appears very large, but somehow small.
"An odd feeling…" he mutters to himself.
"I am ready," Timber says as he steps toward the disciple.>>681012
"It's unwise to engorge yourself before swimming," Timber advises in a half-joking manner.
"H-Hey I can control myself." Gloria says as she's eating her third one now.
"Whatever, there's never a choice in these matters. Stay here and be on good behavior."
"Let's go already before they steal the soul, in the unlikely event they haven't already," she says, eating four pastries in quick succession.
"I believe the saying goes that 'the lady doth protest too much'," Timber chuckles.
Gloria huffs a little, taking her fourth pastry before she has even finished the third. "You forgot to end it with 'Methinks'." She says, before going back to eating.
The Disciple merely nods.
"We call them Avani," Lapis says. "They're a traditional recipe of our kind. You can call them whatever you like." She tentatively takes one, then after just one bite helps herself to a few more. "Mm, they're good today." Between yourselves, Kivoda and Lapis, there are soon none left.>>681015
She looks a bit taken aback by your perceived rudeness, offering no further comment.
"I'll see you off, then," Kivoda says, taking a few pastries himself. "Good luck, Tourmaline. Come back in one piece, will you?" He gives you a hug.>>681010>>681011>>681012>>681013>>681015
"This way, please."
You follow the Disciple across the small settlement, crossing one of the myriad rope bridges linking the eastern islands together. "This is a great honor, you know," Lapis says excitedly as you make your way across the swaying rope bridge. "The Ekri-Norad is usually only reserved for those of us who venture out into the world on crusades, to spread the word of Order. It hasn't been bestowed on outsiders in living memory."
The isle of Shiera's Bones is an impressive sight. While it is one of the smaller isles, it is host to the enormous skeletal carcass of some sort of sea-dragon. The island is bereft of any plantlife save for grass, the connecting bridge leading to smooth cobblestone steps that lead up to the beast's ribcage. They tower above you like great white trees, as wide as a warship's mast and twice as tall. Standing in perfect rows on either side are a plethora of Disciples holding lit wax candles. At the top of the isle, where the beast's head would be, stands a pool of seawater, behind which is a great stone slab of an altar engraved with depictions of the Disciples. The First Speaker stands behind it, with the other seven Speakers at his back. Everyone is eerily silent as you approach. Wordlessly, Kivoda, Lapis and Cashmere are gestured to move aside, splitting apart from you for the time being.
The First Speaker suddenly raises his crook. On command, and all the Disciples including Lapis stamp their hooves on the ground once in perfect unison. The thunderous sound resonates over the crystalline water, echoing over the bay. "Approach and kneel at the pool, Soul-Seekers," the First Speaker intones.
Galehaut moves forward and kneels penitently.
Gloria does as the First Speaker says, pulling out her blade and kneeling with the tip of her blade resting against the ground. The way she looks is much like a paladin kneeling to pray to their deity. Just staring at her long enough one could swear she's glowing.
Abenad follows along with the whole group and procession, bringing with him the Sundering Hammer, Tooth and Nail, and Umbral Precision, laying them down and removing his shirt. He squats down, resting his arms on his knees and making himself comfortable.
Timber looks around at the reverberating water contemplatively. He follows directions and approaches and kneels.
"Is this where we're supposed to put on the jelly or what?" she asks to the empty space next to her, considering Kivoda is probably not there. She then kneels, seeing it's what everyone else is doing.
As you kneel, you see five of the seven other Speakers move from their spots, one standing behind each of you. "Remain calm," the First Speaker orders. "No harm will come."
With little warning, each Speaker grabs you, pushing your head down into the seawater pool. It drenches your hair and stings your eyes. You have to restrain yourselves not to kick out and escape. "In the name of the Earthmover, our eternal mentor, and Chrysanthemum, the first of the Old Prophets, we bless those gathered here at the site of our ancestors' arrival. Let them be reborn amidst the ocean that bore them," the First Speaker drones. Your lungs feel like they're on fire, begging for air. You are drowning.
"We bless their souls. We bless their steel. We bless the salt of their existence. May they be guided by Order on their pilgrimage, and return to our havens safely." You hear the thump of his crook hitting the rocky ground. "Noradzir."
"Noradzir," all the Disciples chant in unison. Then, you are brought back up, spluttering and gasping for air. Your heads feel light and your vision blurred. You cough up seawater and try to make sense of your surroundings. While you recover from the near-death experience, the crowd begins to disperse, until the only ones left are the First Speaker, the two Speakers that did not participate, and your companions. Lapis rushes to your side, handing each of you pieces of cloth to dry yourselves as well as a water canteen to share. "How are you all feeling?" she asks concernedly. "Maybe I should have warned you about the Ekri-Norad sooner. My apologies."
"You should not have to apologize to them," the First Speaker says. "Now they are protected." Lapis opens her mouth to protest, but answers nothing.
"Well that was certainly something," Kivoda comments, moving to Tourmaline's side. "Are you okay? That looked rough."
Cashmere offers no comment, but he looks like he doesn't approve.
The First Speaker motions to the other two, and on his command they produce a large satchel full of glass vials. The potion inside is a brown, murky substance that bubbles slowly. It looks disgusting. "You should not delay, Soul-Seekers," he says. "Your journey will be long and arduous. Our ship awaits you at the foot of the isle to carry you onward."
Galehaut nods, keeping a mantra for the All-In-One in his head even after he started it while drowning.
"Yes, we move forward."
She nods and goes along with Galehaut.
"It was nothing important," she says to Kivoda.
"Well, it's a good thing we can't die anyway," Timber jokes as he gains his breath. "I'll be interested to see if this 'protection' actually provides anything tangible. If that was just for the metaphorical protection of resolve through experience… that was a bit much."
Gloria's willpower is strong enough to make her resist the urge to pull her head back, despite her disliking of being submerged in water.
Gloria sputters and coughs up water, letting out a few coughs with some light squawking mixed in with it. "Yeah-" She coughs more. "Would have been nice…" She coughs again. Gloria rises back up, shaking off the water before drying herself off with the cloth.
Lapis takes the potion satchel, fastening it firmly and casting some sort of charm on it to keep it sealed tight.
"Well, I suppose this is where we part ways," Kivoda says with a sigh, looking at the party warmly. "You've saved my life more times than I can count now. …Well, be safe down there, alright? I'm looking forward to traveling with you again when you come back."
"I will have to leave you also," Cashmere says rather pompously. "I am in your debt for everything you've done for me. I relish the time when we will cross paths again, Soul-Seekers. If you ever feel frightened or alone, always remember: you are your own heroes." He bows deeply. "Ten blessings upon you all." With that, he turns tail and begins to make his way back to the main settlement, across the rope bridge.
It is the morning after you first Saw without the Earthmover's help for the first time. Today, the Earthmover has woken before you, although your dreams were again troubled by thoughts of your family, and the fate that befell them. You also dreamed of the winged figure in rags again, battered and broken in the corner of some dark room, a looming shadow threatening to snuff out its flame. Breakfast has already been left for you, consisting of a plate containing four perfectly spherical pastries. The Disciples call them Avani, as the Earthmover has told you. Each pastry is filled with a jam made of several different types of fruit. They have been brought to you a few times now, and are quite delicious.
The Earthmover seems lost in thought, looking rather wistfully at the Avani before turning his attention to you. "Good morning, young sapling," he says benignly, as he usually does. "How was your sleep?"
Yawning, Maali picked up one of the sweet pastries, eyes slightly squinting as the last traces of sleep remained
"Good morning Master" He said before taking a bite out of the avani "Another nightmare, the same strange being with wings covered in a cloth"
The Avani are as delectable as ever, a sweet and slightly sour flavor due to the mixed fruits within. The crust is hot, but not unpleasantly so. They must have just come out of the oven to be at this temperature. You can barely finish the fourth one, filling as the pastries are.
As you tell the Earthmover of your dream, he looks troubled for a moment, but it soon passes. "I am certain it is nothing to worry about, young sapling," he assures you calmly, although you are not sure he is telling you the truth. "Dreams are but fragments of memory, after all." He shakes his head slightly and straightens in his throne of roots. "Today I thought we might start making progress with your Sight. It is one thing to be able to slip into the tree momentarily, but to be able to control what you see, that is another gift on its own. …Or perhaps we could focus on your skinchanging, and hone your abilities further. The choice is yours, small one." He looks at you patiently, awaiting your decision.
He smiles, sighing with satisfaction after finishing breakfast "I need to ask the disciples how they make these. They are delicious"
He leans forward, staring at the hoof of the ancient stag "Well… I think I can now practice skinwalking on my own now, during my travels. So I think we should go further in my Vision" Nodding, he looked up to the Earthmover
The Earthmover nods. "Very well. Then pass into the tree again. But this time, visualize a moment from your memory. Any moment at all. Visualize it as you become one with the roots," he presses you, "and See as you Saw at that moment." The congeries of roots behind you reach up and contort, forming a throne to match his own.
He nods again, slowly settling down on his own throne "Then I know what I want to see" Muttering, Maali closes his eyes and again projects his mind to roots of the dark tree
'1d10'Roll #1 10 = 10
You close your eyes and focus. As you skinwalk into the tree, you visualize a simpler, better, time, before darkness had fallen.
After a moment, you are back home, amidst the trees and vines that were ubiquitous in your village. The sun is shining brightly through the trees. You can almost feel its radiance on your back. At your side is the Earthmover, appearing as he does in visions, elderly as ever but stronger, less decrepit. The area you are in is circular in shape, with two deer sitting together. One is your old mentor, Marajoara, an older, straight-faced doe. The other is you, although much smaller and more innocent. It feels strange to look at yourself back then, knowing everything that was in store for that small fawn.
The two of you watch as your past self goes through training, Marajoara urging your younger self to concentrate on a nearby wildflower that has yet to bloom, trying to get you to tap in to your innate magic and channel it through your amulet. The way she urges you to focus reminds you of the Earthmover.
Your past self concentrates, closes his eyes and focuses. Nothing happens for the longest time, then slowly, the flower begins to open up. Over what feels like an eternity, the wildflower blooms, the petals unfurling and revealing the brilliant blue iridescence contained within. The younger you is practically jumping with joy at his accomplishment, while Marajoara looks pleased. She congratulates you and rubs your head affectionately before looking up at the sun.
"It's getting late," she comments. "Our time's nearly up. I'll be seeing you tomorrow, okay?" The younger you agrees and begins to leave.
"Oh, Maali, before you go, here. I want you to have this." She reaches into her bag made of thatched dried leaves and gives the younger you a flute, the same flute you carry with you to this day. "I had it made for you. I would have given it to you sooner, but I think you deserve it now more than ever," she says as she presses the flute into your hooves. Your past self hugs Marajoara, babbling about how grateful he is for the gift.
You turn to look at the Earthmover. He is smiling, but to you it seems like a sad smile. After a moment of tranquility, his expression changes to a foreboding stare. "It is time to go," he says suddenly. You don't understand why you have to leave so soon, especially considering it's your vision and not his.
Maali chuckled, a huge smile of nostalgic happiness on his face as he watched himself, even wiping the forming tears on his eyes "I miss these days so much. Even the ones before these when we were friends, she was much more harsher, and I had no talent at all…Heh"
His smile was gone when he heard the Earthmover "Can… Could we stay just a little longer?"
'1d10'Roll #1 8 = 8
The Earthmover seems unsure of what to do. You watch for a while as you and Marajoara bid farewell to each other for now, going your separate ways to return home as you always did in those days. You would always take the same route to get back to your home, through a series of tangled vines and climbing up a series of branches on a particularly old tree. Your mother had warned you not to do that or you would fall, but you never got hurt once. Almost involuntarily, you take a few steps forward to follow yourself home again.
Suddenly, somehow, the Earthmover is standing in your way, looming over you like some gigantic crow. Although he does not look angry, for some reason he frightens you terribly. He reaches out and grabs your shoulder, although you feel nothing. With a rush, the clearing fades, and you find yourself back in the cold, dark cave. "That feeling…" the Earthmover mutters, more to himself than to you. "Then the spell must hold…" He drifts off, lost in thought, paying little attention to you. Something seems to be vexing him. You only want to go back home.
Maali grunted, startled after being pulled away from the warm vision of his childhood.
He was shivering
"Wh-why, what happened? Master, why have you done that?" he stutters, slowly getting down from the throne of roots
The Earthmover turns to face you, as if he'd only just noticed you were there. He has a strange glint in his eye, as if he'd suddenly remembered something he'd rather have forgotten. "It is beautiful beneath the sea," he says simply, "but if you stay too long you'll drown. Stay too long where you don't belong, young sapling, and you will never return. …Tell me the truth. You don't want to be like me, do you? To stay here for a thousand thousand years, with the roots growing through you?"
The younger deer started at the Earthmover with a heavy sad look "No…" He answered simply
"I'm sorry Master, but that is not the life I want to live" shaking his head, he sat down on the cold floor
He seems amused. "I do not blame you," he answers, with a soft chuckle. "I did not want to be like this either. To sit here for an eternity, trapped by this tree, watching the world from a distance, able to see but never act… It is torture."
But I did it anyway," the Earthmover says. "Because I knew what I had to do. Because I needed to pass on the mantle. So I waited for my successor. I waited for you. …Now, do not fear, blood of my blood. You will not be here forever. You will not be an old stag in a tree. But before you can leave," the pale lips promise, "you must learn."
Maali's gaze lingers on the hooves of his master again "I understand, Master" he says as he climbed the throne of roots once more
"What is the next lesson, then?" he asks with a hint of excitement
"The past inside the present," he states simply.
>new skill: Green Sight: spell; Skinwalk into a tree, seeing through time into history. The roll determines how effective the attempt to gain information is. One may stay as long as they wish, but requires consecutive rolls to remain in control after the first turn.
More time passes. Outside the foggy cave, the sun and the moon wheel by overhead, bathing the cave in purples and blues and oranges over and over again. Through the primordial tree, the Earthmover shows you much and more, visiting moments across time day in and day out. Many involve your companions, and those you have met along your journey.
You see Galehaut on the battlefield, drenched in blood, chaos and disorder reigning as he fends off the rebelling clerics during the One Day War. The battle led to the fall of Rin's capital of Ortague, and the land's further descent into ruin. The sight of the carnage that day makes your skin crawl.
You see Gloria and her followers bidding each other farewell after pledging their swords to the would-be king of Rin. They went their separate ways in beating back the Shells and breaking the curse on Rin, and have not been reunited since.
You see Dreamcoat, surrounded by Disciples, casting spell after spell to ward them off. The First Speaker is at their head, his yellow robes fluttering in the strong wind, his golden crook banging on the ground as he banishes Dreamcoat from the Shrine of Order. They do not look angry at him, only a look of disappointment and sadness on the Disciples' faces. "Apostate," the crowd name him, chanting the word over and over. "Apostate, apostate." The sorcerer turns tail, cursing their names before hurrying away over a swaying rope bridge.
You see a nameless, forsaken pony being sheltered by a kindly Diamond Dog hermit. The hermit was slain and turned blank by Shells, and the nameless one fled amidst the confusion. Weeks later, he returned, and in remembrance built the hermit a grave, and took up his fallen friend's name of Doom.
Other visions are of the history of Rin. Why he shows you them you do not fully understand, nor can you see why they are important, but he shows you them nonetheless. You see the coronation of the first king of Rin, and the construction of the Bone Point Lighthouse you passed by some time ago, the oldest standing structure in the land. You see the arrival of the Shells on Rin's shore, seventy times seventy ships carrying sellswords and fanatics from all the known world. In all these visions, the Earthmover pulls you out before long, always reminding you that it is not safe to linger for long.
Just as the Earthmover draws you out and shows you the past, you often slip into visions of your own, seeing yourself and your family. You are careful never to stay for long, and the Earthmover is always by your side. He sometimes steps in and pulls you out if you are there for too long, ever wary of what may happen if one stays in the past for too much time.
Your strange dreams continue, more and more often dreaming of the ragged, winged figure. Every time you see it, it is facing some sort of hardship, suffering at the hands of unknown entities, always wounded but never dying. One time, you dream it is surrounded by six golden beings, their radiance revitalizing the wanderer and making it powerful. You can only wonder what the dreams mean, and why you keep seeing the winged figure so often.
One night, you dream of the figure again. It is worse than ever, almost completely broken now, held up only by a series of strings that move it along like a puppet. The strings are controlled by what looks like a cloud of some sorts, but when you peer closer it is full of stars. The winged figure only barely limps along, unable to break free of the puppeteer.
You suddenly wake up in the middle of the night. The moon outside is a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife. The wind blowing from outside is warm, and carries with it the smell of the salt of the sea below. To your surprise, the Earthmover is not asleep, but rather in the white-eyed trance that denotes skinwalking. Judging by the lack of animals nearby, you can only assume he is accessing the past. You could try to go back to sleep, or you could try to join the Earthmover in his vision, or try to slip into a vision of your own.
>if going into a vision, roll 1d10
Curious as he is, the deer decided to try visiting the sight of his master. Without stopping to think of the consequences, he focused his mind
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You close your eyes, concentrate, and slip into the tree once more.
You find yourself back in the forest of your youth; at least, it appears that way at first. The trees are much taller, and the vines are not flowering. There are plants growing you do not recognize, and unfamiliar birdcalls in the distance. Looking around, you see that you are completely alone, for the first time since you first started Seeing, and had the vision of your mother at the lake. Your mentor the Earthmover is nowhere to be seen.
You are in the middle of the forest, with no huts in sight. The trees tower over you as they never have before. They seem to be growing in a specific pattern. Many of the trees have their roots growing above the ground, reminding you of the cave.
Circling around a bit, he took in the sights of the forest strange to him, intimidated at first, but he calmed down and made his way through, knowing that this was merely a vision of the past, and he had nothing to fear
'1d10' perceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
You seem to be alone in this forest. You're not quite sure what you're doing here.
"Mistress Ereavi?" A voice suddenly rings out, breaking the uncanny silence. It belongs to a young stag, about a decade older than you, with short branching horns and an unkempt beard. Unusually for one of your kind, his fur is bone-white. He enters the area with a walking stick in hand and a tribal amulet around his neck, wearing a simple black cloak of the sorts a traveler would wear in rough weather. He speaks your native tongue, albeit a slightly different dialect, which makes it a bit hard for you to understand. "I have come to say farewell."
"Hm. Always the upstart." You hadn't noticed before, but there is an immensely old doe in one of the trees, half-hidden by the roots. She appears to be part of the tree, much like the Earthmover. She is immensely old, and her tribal tattoos are all connected to form the emblem of a tree. As her eyes slowly open and she is roused from her meditation, you see that they are covered in a thick white film. She is blind. "I suppose it is too late for you to reconsider now."
The stag seems hesitant, unable to make eye contact with Ereavi. "…It is. I know what you have seen, through the trees," he says more forcibly. "I cannot abide it any longer. I have learned much, but we must go our separate ways."
Ereavi snorts derisively. "I did it for your own good, young sapling. In time, you will see, and you will not be welcome back when that time comes. Where will you even go?"
"…West. My followers and I have heard of a green place across the sea. We can rebuild there. They trust me. I… I am sorry it had to come to this, but I promise, I will not forget your teachings."
"We watch," Ereavi says patiently, "we listen, and we remember. The past is already written. Th-"
"The ink is dry." The stag finishes her creed. There is a pregnant pause, then he turns heel and leaves the sanctuary, his head bowed. "I take my leave of you, mistress."
"Keep the words safe, Kureimoa," the old doe croaks as he walks away, "and remember to pass on the mantle."
You are suddenly aware of the Earthmover by your side, watching the stag leave. He doesn't seem to notice you there. "Kureimoa…" he mutters. "I dreamed that I was old…"
"You were just like me, too" He muttered, his eyes locked into the old doe at the tree for a few seconds before turning to the Elder
"Why did you leave, Master uh, Kuremoia? And what did she mean when she said you would not be welcome back?" he looked down at the grass and up to the trees again "And what is this place…"
As you speak up, the Earthmover turns to face you. He looks right at you, but he doesn't seem to truly see you at first. At the same time, his younger self stops in his tracks, looking in your general direction. "…Maali?" the old Earthmover says worriedly, as he starts to reach out for you.
All of a sudden, you notice something's changed. Before the Earthmover can touch you and pull you out of the vision, the ground begins to dry and crack, the grass withering away, the trees crumbling to dust, Ereavi's corpse splintering into a million pieces. You suddenly feel like you're falling, the wind howling all around you, the Earthmover's utterance of your name echoing eternally. Before long, you recover your orientation, only to find there is nothing left but an endless expanse of cracked grey clay, the occasional twisted remains of a tree dotting the landscape. On the horizon in every direction you look are a stretch of barren mountains, jagged like the teeth of some enormous beast. Overhead there is no moon, and soon, you realize, no stars either.
The Earthmover is nowhere to be seen. It seems you are alone in this dead landscape, but then you see what fills the lines in the ground. Bodies, or parts of bodies, as cracked and withered and grey as the ground itself. They stretch as far as the eye can see, hundreds of thousands of corpses stuffed unceremoniously in narrow cracks. There is not a sound to be heard, save for the faint blowing of the wind. Atop a barren hill stands a white alicorn, his eyes filled with a million stars. You recognize him as the one who has haunted you and the party in your dreams for some time, but has been strangely absent of late. He is Kether, the old prince of Rin who became the embodiment of Death. He is staring directly at you, his expression foreboding.
You get the strong feeling you shouldn't be here, but there is nowhere to run.
The more he saw, the more worry and fear grew into him "No, oh no, no, no…" turning his head to see the ground, the bodies, the sky or lack of it, his eyes wide and his hooves moving quickly, as if getting ready to run as fast as he could in any random direction
But when his eyes landed on Kerther, he froze completely, not moving or breathing as the wind gently shook his fur
You make eye contact with Kether on the bone hill for what feels like an eternity. He looks not only austere, but also almost confused, as if he didn't expect to see you.
All of a sudden, you hear a loud, pervasive dragging sound from behind you. Turning around, you see the bodies in the ground clambering out of their stony prisons. Most of them are beyond repair, falling apart from the gray rot they suffer. All of them are glowing with an eerie red light, like Dreamcoat's corpse did after you slew him. An army of the dead is soon surrounding you, shambling towards you slowly. As you turn back around towards where Kether stood, you find him right in front of your face. He lunges forward, and you suddenly feel as cold as ice.
Everything rushes away, and you find yourself back in the cave, drenched in sweat with your heart pounding out of your chest. Your left front leg feels strangely tingly, and is throbbing slightly. The Earthmover is looking at you. For the first time, he looks genuinely afraid. "The Great Other," he whispers urgently, his voice cracking as eye contact remains unbroken. "He touched you."
Maali held a hoof to his chest as his breathing stabilized "That was… K-Keth" he coughed "T-t-touched me?" he looks at the Earthmover, in slight panic "Did I DIE?"
Maali pales as well when his eyes landed on the mark "W-wa-wait I have seen this before… This mark"
He looked back to his master, more nervous than usual "I-I will, I…" He paused and nodded with his head "Yes, I… I promise, Master"
He nods. "Then we must begin. Before long, you will be the new Earthmover, like Ereavi and countless others before her. I know you are not ready, nor will you have the time I hoped for, but we must make do with what we have where we are. We have precious little time and much to do." Before you can respond, the tree's roots reach out to grab you, and everything fades as you are plunged into the past once more.
>>681362>>681363>>681364>>681365>>681366>10 642, Ytarr's Day of Longing. Night.
In the previous session of Mortal Souls, the party returned to the Shrine of Order after stealing an alchemical reagent from the local Shell outpost. They spent the following morning preparing themselves for their underwater expedition, traveling lightly so as not to be weighed down while swimming. After receiving a sacred blessing from the Disciples in the form of a drowning ritual, the party bid farewell to Cashmere and Kivoda for the time being. They are about to board the ship that will carry them out to sea, on a search for an Immortal Soul…
>Abenad is at 6/5>Galehaut is at 7/7>Gloria is at 6/5>Timber Hoof is at 6/6>Tourmaline is at 8/6
Known monolith locations:>Lunemark>Serpentine Keep>The Dreaming Spring>Heart of Jevel>Shrine of Order
2/5 Immortal Souls found
Old thread: >>680980
You follow the First Speaker down from the colossal skeleton you underwent the ritual at and to the pier at the bottom of the small isle. You can see a smallish ship has been anchored there, crewed by about a dozen Disciples. You notice that the timber the ship is made from has been repainted, the pitch black wood underneath showing in some spots. You recall that the Changeling ship was made of the same wood; presumably the Disciples were able to capture it and repurpose it for their own needs.
"The Earthmover has spoken to me," the small yellow-robed crystal pony says to you. "He has Seen that the Shells are starting to prepare for another assault on our home. If the worst comes to the worst, we will abandon this place through the monolith, tainted by the Great Other as it is. I will p-"
He is interrupted by the sound of running hooves from behind him. Kivoda comes rushing down the stone steps and quickly joins you on the ship, bending over and trying to catch his breath. "I… I changed my mind," he manages to blurt between huffs and puffs. "I'll… I'll come with you." He doesn't seem very sure about his last minute decision.
The First Speaker looks both surprised and a little indignant at the interruption, but ignores it. "As I was saying," he intones rather coldly. "I will pray for your safety, Soul-Seekers. Your success will bring us all one step closer to breaking the shackles of this curse. Blessings of Order upon you. Noradzir." With that, he bows stiffly and turns tail, being escorted away by the Disciples that follow him.
Abenad pats Kivoda on the shoulder as he comes in range. "Ay, good boy," he says without patronization. He climbs onto the boat, looking for somewhere comfortable to settle onto.
"Thank you for the blessing, and for the prayers," Timber bows gratefully.
>ready to go
"Ah, Kivoda. You have missed the ritual. Hopefully it was merely for ritual's sake, and not be an important blessing you missed out on that proves crucial later in our quest."
Galehaut says, readying for travel. He goes about and asks that the books he's keeping be kept by the Disciples for as them not to be waterlogged and thus ruined.
Tourmaline hooks her arm under Kivoda's, not paying much attention to the speaker. "I guess you'll have to hold onto me pretty tightly, won't you?" she asks with wiggling eyebrows.
Gloria makes her way to join the others onto the ship, giving Kivoda a hard pat on the back. "Good to see you facing your fears and joining us, Kivoda." She says.
He nods and forces a smile, quickly moving to Tourmaline's side. "I may not be able to swim, but I'll do my best to try and stay close. I know you'll keep me safe, won't you?">>681370
The Fifth Speaker, a burly, square-faced Disciple named Diamondtail, takes the books from you and assures you they'll be kept safe.>>681368>>681369>>681370>>681371>timeskiphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTtagMRtAAM
For the second time in a short span, you find yourselves out at sea on a Changeling ship. The journey out to your destination takes a day and a night, and is relatively uneventful. There is no wind or rain, the waves being completely still. The area below deck is spacious, and your cabins, while frugal in design, are quite comfortable. Food is provided in the form of a large assortment of fruits, grasses, and even more of the Avani pastries. They seem to be a staple of the Disciples' diet. Lapis does not join you the entire night, staying with the ship's captain and discussing something with him constantly in their own private language.
You awake the following morning to find the ship already anchored at your destination. The waters are blue and clear as crystal, matching the cloudless skies above. All around you is the smell of sea salt, and the sound of the gently lapping waves on the sides of your ship. Below you, you can make out the outline of what looks like a coral reef of some sort, with the occasional shoal of small silver and yellow fish darting by.
Lapis is on deck already, peering over the edge into the waters below. The bag containing the supply of potions is at her side. As you arrive, she turns to you and waves in silent greeting. "This is where the Earthmover has guided us to," she says, gesturing at the reef. "The Immortal Soul awaits us somewhere below the waves." She takes off her hat and robe, unfastens the bag, and begins handing out the muddy brown potion. "…Well, there's nothing else for it now, is there?" she says with a shrug. "Bottoms up." She uncorks a flask of her own, swigs the potion, visibly struggles to swallow it and promptly hops off the ship and into the water.
"Least I'll sink fast."
Galehaut says, before deciding to take off his armor.
"Although I'd hate for it to rust."
He empties his two water skins and seals them, tying them to his body, as well as his shield and battleaxe.
"The bottom is actually down."
He says, swigging the potion, wishing he had waited to pour his waterskins out, and jumps into the water.
"I seem to recall something in my youth about being held under water," Abenad replies to Kivoda, "Where if I was drowning, at least I could learn to not drown longer."
Once it's time to get in the water, Abenad dresses down to his long underwear and folds his nice clothes up in his cabin. He takes some time deciding what to bring, deciding on the Whalebone Hammer and Tooth and Nail, strapping the hammer to his back and working to put the swords on his legs. He comes out, gets himself a swig of potion, jumping in and staying on the surface for a while first before letting himself sink downwards.
Getting completely naked besides the waterskin and the teleportation rune, she picks up Kivoda and hops in the water, obviously after they drink their thingamajigs.>>681372
"Typically the female carries the male, right? I don't know the gender relations of these ponies. When do I get the deed of ownership over Kivoda?" she asks.
Having to wait on another ship once again, Gloria takes up reading her holy book further to study further the relation between The Light's scriptures and these "Miracles" she had found in the book. The way she felt when reading the scripture was the first time she felt the light rush through her so intensely since she first wielded the Ashbringer. 'What more could these miracles teach her', Gloria pondered to herself as she began to drift back to sleep.
In the morning, Gloria rose from her sleep with a stretch and yawn before equipping herself with her armor, making her way back up to the deck of the ship. While waiting for the others to awake, she takes time to relax near the railings and peering down into the water bellow. 'I wish I still had a fishing pole with me…' She thinks to herself, wishing she had some fish for breakfast.
When Gloria meets with Lapis and the others, she takes the potion Lapis offers to her with a bit of a look of hesitation on her face. "Just think of drying off in the sun… just think of drying off in the sun…" Gloria mumbles to herself before chugging down the potion, gagging a bit after she does while trying to keep the potion down.>>681376
"I'm not really sure how pony relations work either… Typically it's the stronger ones that cares for the weak where I'm from." Gloria says, before stifling a small laugh, although it shows as she starts to talk. "Well you could always put a dog tag on him." She answers, leaping into the water when Tourmaline does.
The fruit and grass diet suits Timber just fine. His time aboard the boat is considerably better than usual for him.
Timber looks down at the reef with some suspicion. "Remind me," he says to Lapis. "How did the Immortal Soul end up here?"
He drinks a potion and jumps in.
You read one of the words of wisdom from the book. "Verse LXI: When all is in darkness, one must stand firm, for the Light will come in the morning.">>681378
"The Shells took it from us in one of their raids," she explains, "but our benefactor the Earthmover was able to use his power to destroy their ship before they could return to their base with it. The Souls is now lost somewhere down there.">>681374>>681375>>681376>>681377>>681378
The potion tastes as repulsive as it looks, a cloying, bitter taste with lumps of the mushroom still in it. Once you drink it, however, you find it difficult to breathe properly, your lungs closing up and your head feeling light. Once you jump into the water, however, this problem becomes nonexistent. You find yourself breathing completely normally, despite being submerged. While the salt water would normally sting your eyes and blur your vision, you can see completely clearly without hindrance; however, you cannot see more than about 15 metres in front of you.
The coral reef surrounding you is a thing of beauty, a menagerie of reds, golds and greens in every direction. Shoals of fish swim by in all different shapes and sizes, large anemones sway idly in the ocean current, and in between the rocks, small crustaceans trundle about their business. In the distance, you see a small purple-grey shark with an anvil-shaped dorsal fin chasing a pair of long, wormlike fish. You've never seen anything quite like it before. Looking behind you, you can see that the reef is built on an underwater cliff, at the bottom of which is a forest of sea grass as tall as you are. The light from above isn't quite as bright down there.
Kivoda flails to right himself in the water, clinging to Tourmaline like a barnacle to a whale. He seems awestruck by the sight of the reef. Lapis, on the other hand, takes a moment to swim about expertly before turning to face you. To your surprise, you can hear her clearly as she speaks underwater. Doubtless another effect of the potion. "We shouldn't linger," she says, although she watches the anvil-finned shark chase its prey for a moment.
"I believe the best thing to do for now would be to look for any remains of the Shells that took the Soul. Ship fragments, scraps of their clothes, their bodies, anything like that. It would be wise to look in the cracks of the reef, near the bottom. You could also look near that coral over there, it seems like a good spot." She points out a large jutting formation of bright blue coral vaguely shaped like a seven-fingered hand. "It seems to flatten out for a while just beyond that, so that might be a good place to look too. If we don't find anything, then perhaps we should move on to the dropoff." She nods towards the sea grass forest.
"Remember," she warns as she starts swimming towards the hand-shaped formation, "we shouldn't stray too far. And try not to disturb anything either. There's far worse than just sharks in these waters."
Gloria decides to keep near Tourmaline, looking about where she is as well as anything around her as she follows.
"Perhaps if we're lucky we might find a pirate ship with treasure in it." Gloria jokes to Tourmaline.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Galehaut's ears, after adjusting to the potion's effects, begin to hear every movement of the fish and every sway of the aquatic plants. Likewise, his eyes notice tiny wood chips that lay on the seabed, lacquered to be waterproof much like ships are. He follows them.
>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.>Supreme Survivor: passive; automatically passes all spot checks, autocrits on jump, climb and other traversing checks.
Squeezing Kivoda tightly, she follows Lapis.>>681380
"What would your name be if you were a pirate?"
Abenad sinks to the bottom curled up, waiting until he's hit the seabed to uncurl and stand up, trudging along and following the sound of the others through the water. He decides to pass by as many as he can, and keep an eye out for the biggest one first, considering whether he should have gotten himself a spear at some point.
"How about Gloriargh, the Booty Bringer?"
Roll #1 9 = 9
*following the other members of the party by their sounds traveling through the water. He decides to pass by as many boats as he can, keeping an eye out for the biggest one among them.
"That's an awful name considering I've already got this one by the butt. Besides, mine is larger than yours."
"Oddly coincidental," Timber comments. "That they should be wrecked right over a reef."
"How long ago were they wrecked?" Timber asks as he also swims toward the hand-shaped formation. "Coral can attach itself and cover new objects rather quickly. The wreckage may be a part of the reef at this point."
Scanning and looking at stuff.
Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"Oh yeah? We can always compare and have Kivoda judge." Gloria banters back.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"I don't think he even knows what a butt is."
You don't find anything near the coral formation, only narrowly avoiding disturbing an unusually large anemone. A small black and white striped fish darts out from between its tendrils to defend its home before vanishing back in as quickly as it appeared.>>681381
You notice small pieces of wood scattered across the reef. As you follow the trail, they get progressively larger in size, leading up to a large fragment of black wood covered in algae. It is near the edge of the reef, leading out into the dropoff.
You feel a strange ripple in the water all of a sudden, which startles a pair of the long, wormlike fish you saw being chased earlier. They seem to always travel in pairs.>>681382>>681385
You notice a large piece of black sailcloth hooked onto the coral underside. It seems that parts of the shipwreck ended up here after all.>>681383>>681389
You see the same scattered shards of wood as Galehaut, but nothing too major. Another one of the anvil-finned shark swims past, paying little attention to you. You notice that they have an array of small toothlike protrusions on the tops of their heads.>>681388>>681391
"It's only been about a month or so. The wreckage shouldn't be too difficult to find," she answers as she fruitlessly examines the coral. "Although, it doesn't seem to have sunk here in particular. Maybe further out into the reef… Hm…"
You can't seem to find anything either, although Tourmaline and company seem to be successful.>>681390
Kivoda looks uncomfortable. "…I don't think I'm qualified to do that. I'll just end up offending one of you anyway…"
Lapis swims up to get a better view of the area. "Anyone found anything yet?" she calls out.
"He's been looking at yours enough, I think you just need to tell him what it is and he can connect one and two.">>681393
Abenad starts working to pick up the larger wood scraps and move them around, unearthing what he can to at least make some progress.
"Follow me, the fragments of wood leads this way."
Galehaut says, taking time to look for anything pretty looking as well to help remember the time he walked underwater to no harm.
She brings the sailcloth over to Lapis.
"It's because mine is so much better than hers, right?" she says to Kivoda, nudging him with her butt.>>681394
"For once, you're right!"
"For some species of coral, that may actually be enough time to grow," Timber says with concern. "But, I'm still more concerned with WHAT exactly crashed the ship…"
"What sort of methods would the Earthmover usually employ? Would the Earthmover have sunk it itself?">>681395
"It sounds like Galehaut has found something," Timber says as he follows Galehaut's discovery.
"Hmn… I think you might be right." She replies to Tourmaline after hearing Kivoda's comment.
Gloria continues her search for the wreckage, taking note of the cloth Tourmaline found and trying to find a possible lead.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Abenad trudges along, trying to not stay in one place for too long to keep his feet from sinking into the sand. He keeps his eye open for a spear, like a fishing spear, that may have sunken down here some time ago.
[1d10+1] Show me a spearRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
You find a very long, sturdy piece of coral that broke off long ago. It wouldn't be a very effective weapon as it is, but could be made into a spear using the right tools.>>681395
You find a perfectly round gray stone on the sea bed, with a streak of purple running all across its circumference, splitting it perfectly down the middle. Near it remarkably large shell on the sea bed, a conical affair with orange and white markings. Oddly enough, the tip seems to have been hollowed out, resembling a trumpet. Both would make for fine souvenirs, although the shell is rather cumbersome.
You spot a few crabs skittering away as you disturb the sand, only to get pounced on by a previously hidden stingray moments later.>>681396
"…Maybe," he simply says sheepishly. That's as good of a confirmation as you'll get from him it seems.
Lapis examines the cloth. "It must have floated over from the wreck, wherever it may be," she muses before perking up at Galehaut's call and following him onward.>>681397
"The Earthmover possesses the ability to control simpler creatures," she explains as she swims about nimbly. "You saw it yourself when He attacked the pirate vessel. It would not surprise me if your friend the deer learned this power also.">>681398
You find a few scraps of timber floating in the water, but not much else. They are quickly claimed by a hiding lobster, who adds them to its lair under a series of rocks.>>681395>>681396>>681397>>681398>>681399
You all join Galehaut and swim off the edge of the reef and into the sea grass forest. It is quite dark and difficult to see in this place due to the density of the plants, but you push forward nonetheless. The pieces of wood become more and more common as you move along, with larger and larger planks being visible. Starfish are also common here, although of noticeably less vibrant hues than those on the reef.
"Well, let's get back to it," Lapis shrugs. "See if you can find anyth-" She is cut off by the sound of something swimming nearby, a ripple disturbing the enormous submarine foliage. Lapis touches her necklace instinctively as you hear the followup sound of grass being torn. It sounds like something's fighting close by.
Abenad sets up some wood markers for the piece of broken coral, deciding to bring it back when he's got something to keep his hands safe.
In regards to the fighting, he puts a hand on Lapis' shoulder. "We should stay here for now, then," he says, turning his head to try and listen, "Wait for it to stop. The winner will probably be weakened to some degree, and more likely to run away in the face of our numbers."
[1d10+1] listening for detailsRoll #1 10 + 1 = 11
>>681401>You find a few scraps of TimberF
Gloria attempts to peer further, listening to the sounds of the fighting. She remains silent for the moment to listen to the sounds better.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Damn right. Anyone can see the superior pirate's booty, Gloria!" she declares triumphantly before shaking herself out like a dog on the beach.
"Tourmaline, listen closely." Gloria says, suggesting for Tourmaline to listen closer. "Something's fighting down there… How big do you suppose it could be?"
"That's my concern," Timber says to Lapis. "Larger marine creatures will typically live in deeper water near reefs so that they can feed on the fish which tread too far out but still have the space they need."
He looks down into the forest of sea grass below. "We should tread very carefully…"
Then, when the sounds of a predator can be heard, Timber tenses up. It's a familiar but always dangerous sensation. He listens carefully for what direction the sounds are coming from and to gauge how far away the sounds are. Also, are the sounds leading the same direction the wood is going?
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Galehaut's hearing allows for him to check for a creature inside the shell before he takes it with him. If it isn't someone's home, he adds it to his make shift rope belt on his back, and holding his waterskin upside down while he places the rock in, careful not to let more air out than needed.
After that's done, he draws his battle axe, aware of whatever might the group.
(from Sound Hound)>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.
In addition, you hear a lunging sound, then the tearing sound of a weapon piercing flesh.>>681404
Kivoda averts his gaze, pretending but failing to look distracted by a passing shoal of yellow and black fish.>>681406
She nods grimly. "I've seen more than my share of the predators that lurk these waters. It would be disastrous for us to be split up.">>681407
The shell appears to have been unoccupied for quite some time. You can't help but wonder what repurposed this shell into a horn of all things.>>681402>>681403>>681406>>681407
You hear several snapping, clicking sounds, like some sort of beaked creature biting something. This is followed by something unexpected: a strangled, yet still very clear, cry of pain, as if from a sentient being.
A faint cloud of blood floats through the sea grass, followed by a second cloud of black ink. The fighting sounds continue. Lapis turns to look at you all, unsure of how to react. "…Maybe we should step in?" she suggests in a hushed tone.
"Someone's in combat with a tentacled creature," Abenad says, scratching his chin in contemplation, "They've pierced the creature now. If we're to engage it, one of us should try to get some elevation above it in order to better combat it. I suggest Tourmaline or Gloria do so, Galehaut and I can go in on the seabed and distract its attention while the two of you attack it from above.">>681406
"And I guess Timber can do something, too."
"Should I approach? Do fish have traditional greeting dances? I could blend in and pretend I'm one of them."
"I could always brighten my body up and poke it's soft head. Unless that thing's not like normal squids…"
>Should Gloria go in with Empower Weapon and a basic attack? Y/N
"We could avoid making enemies until attacked, as we could attack the wrong creature."
"Not every creature we come across is sentient, sometimes they'll just see us as food. Much like how I could see fish around us as food…" Gloria says, grumbling at that last part in annoyance as she hungers for fish.
"Well, now we're looking at combat between an intelligent creature and a feral one. If we slay the feral one, then the intelligent one would still be injured to some extent and would not willingly go up against our superior numbers, and would possibly feel obligated to assist us with its life and sanity intact."
"Alright, but I shall not make the first strike. It could as easily be a malicious creature out hunting for flesh."
"I heard a weapon piercing flesh. Let's hope the owlbears haven't managed to get underwater and master weaponry."
"It sounds like a squid," Timber says in a combination of horror and confusion at the suggestion of helping. "Or an octopus. Either way, we're way out of our element against it. If it were some manner of fish, we could amount some sort of fight. But, the maneuverability of a cephalopod in the water puts us at an extreme disadvantage. Let's keep searching and hope that poor soul serves as a good enough distraction.">>681412
"I think it's safe to assume the squid is the right creature to strike.">>681416
>>681417>forgot to add
Timber continues following the wood trail. [1d10] to find more useful wreckageRoll #1 8 = 8
Galehaut walks into the ink cloud, obscuring himself while getting closer.
Abenad grunts in quiet disagreement, then pulls out his swords and sets out through the plants and ink cloud towards the fighting, keeping his ears up.
"Indeed. Do you suppose we'll be able to haul back some of the creature and cook it up for a meal?" Gloria drools a bit at the thought.
Gloria uses her wings to swim through the water easier to move above the ink cloud. The flames of Light bathe her once more, before she plunges down from above to slash down upon the squid-like beast seeing as the group wishes to engage it and needs a distraction.
>Divebomb Strike (Basic Attack+Racial Bonus)
[1d10+4]Roll #1 7 + 4 = 11
You stay behind for now with Kivoda, waiting to see what the rest of the party do.>>681418>>681421
Following the trail of wreckage, you quickly find what's left of the Changeling ship, a moldering wreck with the masts broken and a huge hole in the hull. What draws your attention the most, however, is the strange being near it, the source of the fight you've been hearing. It looks like a skinny, greyish-green pony at first glance, but from the waist down it has a thrashing tail like a fish. Its eyes are huge and bright yellow, and instead of a mane and fur it has fins and scales. Its nose and mouth are covered by a bandanna made of what looks like seaweed. The strange creature wields a spear made of bone, and is facing off against three unusually large cuttlefish, strobing in a variety of bright colors. A fourth floats dead nearby. They and the spear-wielding being appear to be wounded, with neither having the upper hand.>>681419>>681420
You walk into the cloud of ink. It's impossible for you to see anything now, even with your sharp eyes.>>681421
You strike out at the closer of the three cuttlefish, cutting it deeply with your blade, the water around your sword boiling. It darts away from you in pain.
The creature with the spear grunts as it expertly throws the spear through the water, piercing one of the cuttlefish (Cuttlefish 3). It retaliates by spurting a cloud of ink in its attacker's face, disorienting the being momentarily.
The cuttlefish Gloria attacked (Cuttlefish 1) swims into the surrounding sea grass, blending into the environment and soon vanishing from sight.
The remaining cuttlefish (Cuttlefish 2) rushes to its partner's aid, spreading its tentacles and trying to restrain Gloria.
[1d10+1] GrappleRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Abenad leaps up as he hears the sounds of movement, piercing at the nearest one somewhat blindly with his sword points.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
She gets rather mad. "I guess we have to fight again," she sighs.
She punches fish 2.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 4 + 3 = 7
Timber stares at the fight for a while, then looks to Galehaut. "I may stand corrected," he says in a flat tone.
Timber watches the fight for now, not sure if fighting the cuttlefish is really the right choice.
Noticing the strange pony-like creature endangered by the Scuttlefish, she decides to side by him in this fight.
"The Light shines upon you today, we will fend these creatures off together!" Gloria shouts to inspire the spear-wielding fish pony.
>Blast: Cuttlefish 2 (Griffon's Glory proc)
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
this should only be +2
"The best offense is a good defense. The deer is gone, but you can heal, no? My shield is put to use again."
Galehaut says, unstrapping the thing from his back while he's still in the ink. After it's removed, he pushes forth back into the fray, blocking oncoming tentacles.
Abenad, Tourmaline, Gloria>Retaliate
"What did I say! This is underwater, not civilization. There is no mild-mannered fiends here."
"If the need arises, I believe I can do that much," Timber nods.
You attack the second cuttlefish, stabbing its underbelly with both blades. It struggles to get away from you, spurting ink madly in all directions.>>681424>>681427
You strike the weird-looking fish with an uppercut. It doesn't seem to be very effective, simply absorbing the blow.>>681426
While injured, it is still nimble, deftly dodging your strike.>>681428
You dash to Gloria's aid as the cuttlefish tries to grab her. It wraps its tendrils around you instead, restricting your movement. It seems to be the one most weakened by its injuries.>roll to break loose, DC7>Retaliate is on 0 hits>>681425
You observe the struggle against the cuttlefish for a while.
Cuttlefish 1 emerges from the sea grass, its oddly avian beak snapping at the creature.
Cuttlefish 2 bites at Galehaut.
Cuttlefish 3 darts away and hides.Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Galehaut doesn't struggle, only pulling the tentacles away from his body
>>681431>Master of Arms counts weapon as Single.
Seeing the Cuttlefish suddenly burst out, Gloria attempts to strike at it with her blade to counter it.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Abenad pulls the swords apart after jabbing them into the little wriggler.
[1d10+1] Reflex ShotRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
She suplexes fish 1.
[1d10+3] SlamRoll #1 5 + 3 = 8
You pull the cuttlefish off of you, following up with a mighty stomp that snuffs out the creature almost for good.>>681434
The cuttlefish tears at the creature's arm, injuring it again. You leap to the rescue and sever some of its tentacles with a singular searing strike.>>681435
You finish it off with a slice of your blades.>>681437
You rush to the creature's aid and slam into the cuttlefish shoulder first, knocking it off balance and into the sea grass. It swims away lopsidedly due to its missing tentacles. Kivoda loses his grip on you as you do so, flailing in the water before sinking to the sea floor. Unable to swim and therefore participate in the battle, he simply sits there and watches.>>681438
As you watch the fight, you are joined by Kivoda, who awkwardly makes his way over to you and sits down on the sand. He doesn't say anything, but he seems to feel safer in your company.
Cuttlefish 3 ambushes once more, targeting Galehaut as it bites at him.
Cuttlefish 1 tries to camouflage itself, injured by Gloria and Tourmaline's attacks.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
"I'm not for eating."
Galehaut says, pushing the cuddlefish back with his shield
[1d10] basic attack jitsuRoll #1 3 = 3
Gloria does not hold herself back, charging at the injured cuttlefish to finish it off. The last of her light gathers into a flaming hammer she wields in her claw, slamming it down onto the beast as the last of her Empowerment is expunged.
>Final Empowered Strike
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Timber mentally acknowledges Kivoda, but doesn't look to him. "Have you seen one of those things before?" Timber asks Kivoda, pointing out the fishpony without looking at him.
Abenad swims towards the squiggly in combat with Galehaut, swordpoints first. He stabs with his longsword first, then follows up with his dagger.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3
She punches the 1st cuttlefish's head off.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
You give it a good shove. It manages to get past your shield and nip you on the shoulder, drawing some blood.>>681441
You bring down a burning hammer of light on the beastie, scorching it severely and preventing it from hiding again.>>681442
Kivoda brings his attention to the being, looking at it curiously. "Never," he answers simply. "I've heard rumors of their existence, though. I always assumed there must be something living down here. As above, so below, and all that sort of thing.">>681443
The cuttlefish is still nimble, rushing out of the way of your attack.>>681444
You finish it off with a good clean uppercut. It feels all rubbery.
The remaining cuttlefish tries to swim away, spurting out a cloud of ink to cover its escape.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 4 + 3 = 7
She swims back, letting the cuttlefish go in favor of settling down on top of Kivoda's back.
Abenad wipes his blades off on his arms before resheathing them, then swims down to the fisher who had been attacked. "Speak common tongue?" He asks, floating over him purposefully.
Galehaut follows it through the ink, trying to get one last hit in before heading back to the group.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Hmmm…" Timber contemplates Kivoda's expression.
"I wonder if it's cursed as well," he ponders out loud.
Gloria smiles, feeling victorious as she allows the cuttlefish to back off. She sheaths her weapon before turning to greet the fish pony. "Greetings, my name's Gloria." She introduces herself.
"Are you alright? You did quite well holding four of them off by yourself." Gloria compliments.
You swim over to him. He seems more comfortable knowing you're near.>>681448
Alas, the slippery creature swims off into the forest of grass, never to be seen again.>>681449
"Probably," Kivoda answers. "Just about every sentient being seems to have it now. I've even seen a few dogs gone blank.">>681447>>681450
The seapony seems to ignore you at first, chasing fruitlessly after the remaining cuttlefish. When it escapes, he grumbles and focuses on the dead ones instead, starting to drag the bodies towards the shipwreck. He stops in his tracks and turns to face you, not knowing quite to make of you. "You, from sky. From above," he says from under his mask. He has a deep, raspy voice, with an almost incomprehensible dialect. "Yes? But not like them." He points with his spear towards the Shell shipwreck. "You, smart. You, strong. You, friend." He straightens up and points at himself. "Ruka, me," he grunts, sounding rather proud. "Hunter, me. Why come you down?"
"Warrior, great and powerful," Abenad says, pointing to himself, "Seek mysterious thing. Strange, weird. You know?"
Galehaut returns, looking closer at the Shell shipwreck to see what kind of damage caused it to sink in the first place.
"Get your own," she says to Timber before scooping up Kivoda again. Yet she hides behind Timber to avoid the fishman.
"We seek a soul. Great long living soul give us power to lift darkness on land. Have you seen the mighty soul?" Gloria says, noticing Abenad taking part in speaking like Ruka.
Timber speaks up from his position a fair distance from the fishpony. "We're looking for a…" Timber trails off in thought.
"Wait-" he suddenly interrupts himself and looks to Lapis. "Did you have the Immortal Soul just… in it's raw form?">>681454
"You own Kivoda?" Timber asks, not completely sarcastic.
"Strange things everywhere here," Ruka replies between drags of the giant cuttlefish corpse. "Many, many things, yes. Stranger still, down in the deep!" With an almighty heave, he brings in the first of the three. "Good eating!" he replies merrily, speaking more to himself than to you. He pulls out a stone knife and helps himself to a piece of its tentacles. His teeth are yellow and pointy. "Good for one and all, yes.">>681453
Apart from the main breach in the hull that Ruka seems to inhabit, there are several other great holes all along its underside. Swimming up and around it, you can also see that the main masts were snapped completely in two, as if whatever did this was both enormous and many-armed.>>681454
He doesn't protest, hugging your back and wrapping his arms around you, effectively piggybacking off of you for the time being.>>681456
She nods, looking at the hunter warily. "No one dared to claim it, lest we be unable to handle its might. Not even the Earthmover. We kept it secret and safe, until the Shells breached our sanctuary and stole it.">>681455
"Soul…" Ruka parrots, pausing between mouthfuls of cuttlefish tentacle to think. "Mighty soul…" He shakes his head. "No soul here. Not anymore. Gone, gone. Into the deep. Into the dark. Gulamara attack-" he points at the cuttlefish then spreads his arms as if to suggest great size "-ship come to us. But soul fall, down, down, down. With Binama kin now. Dark kin. Secret kin. Lightless kin. You want soul, you talk to them." He finishes his meal and goes back to hauling the carcasses.
It is the day after your encounter with Kether. The Earthmover has seemed much more nervous and less talkative since the incident, showing you even more snippets from Rin's history. The last thing you saw was the construction of the Tower of Silence that the Shells now use as their base, as commanded by a particularly pious king of Rin.
You are currently in another vision, standing in a large octagonal stone room. It appears to be a church of some kind, with several pews built in concentric circles facing the center and large red and grey banners with the eye-and-horseshoe symbol of the Shells of Light emblazoned. Atop a large central platform, flanked by decorative suits of armor, is an upright stone sarcophagus adorned to resemble a goat with his front legs crossed, head flung back. Hovering above it is a large orb of white light, illuminating the entire room.
As you watch, the double doors at one end of the room open, and the the white goat known as Prandine walks in. You recall him being the Shell responsible for the burning of your tribe. His eyes dart from side to side as he approaches the goat-shaped sarcophagus. By your side, the Earthmover looks increasingly more distracted and worried as Prandine kneels. "You sent for me, o Bishop?"
An deep, almost soothing voice emanates from within the sarcophagus. "The Resistance are growing every day," it intones, reverberating around the church. The voice speaks clearly and slowly, remaining calm despite the gravity of the discussion. "Because of your failure to snuff out the Disciples, they have allied with Doom and his band. Unless you do something about it, they will soon rise and become a legion.
Prandine cowers, unable to bring himself to look at the sarcophagus. "Bishop Joyce, I take full responsibility for the situation. I will n-"
"Silence," the voice from the sarcophagus hisses. It is somehow more spine-chilling than any loud roar. "Your strategy has failed us, Prandine. It must change, and it must change soon. Have you thought of anything at all?"
"Th-the extract," Prandine stammers. "We have prepared it, o Bishop. Enough for a task force. We will be able to attack the Disciples from under the water, where they will least expect it. We do not have the forces to launch a full-scale assault yet, but if we were to take the Soul they venerate, they would be severely weakened for when we strike with the Changeling reinforcements…" He looks up at the sarcophagus hopefully.
There is a pause as the being called Joyce seems to consider his words. "Go, then," it says eventually. "Oversee the preparations. Do not fail me again, my Lamb. If you do, I will know."
"Yes, o Bishop." Prandine stands and leaves, looking somewhat proud and cocksure.
"That is enough for now," the Earthmover mumbles, and before you can react he pulls you out of the vision. Despite having done it dozens of times, you still feel somewhat disoriented when finding yourself back in the cave all of a sudden. "The worm Prandine is one of the Lambs," the Earthmover explains, although his mind seems to be on something else. "Bishop Joyce's closest advisors and confidantes. I can only hope you remind him of his great crimes if you ever meet. He is by far the least dangerous of the three. I would show you what Jandek and Fallow have done, but time is short."
''I will remember, Master.'' Maali nodded cheerlessly
''This one vision has given more to think about, compared to the others. The Changelings, the Bishop, and now knowing there are other two like Prandine'' Sighing, he adjusted himself in his seat of vines, peering into the eyes of the Earthmover
''What is next?'' Asked the deer, almost sounding impatient
"One more gift for you to use, young sapling," the Earthmover replies. He concentrates for a moment, then one of the tree roots snakes up and touches your amulet before returning into the earth. The faint green glow it normally has intensifies and pulsates, then it changes colors in rapid succession: red, white, blue, then back to green. It strobes like this for a few seconds before returning to normal. It feels a bit heavier around your neck now.
"As you no doubt have learned, small one, we precious few are more highly attuned to the elements than most. In our case, we have a strong connection with the earth. But some of us go one step beyond, and seek not just the earth, but also to be ken to fire, water or wind. You have already learned much of the practices of Earth over the years, in harmony with it such as we Guarira are.My knowledge of the other three is limited, so I will not be able to train you entirely. But over time, perhaps, you will be able to conjure it for your own need. Try it now," he says. "Imagine a gust of wind, or a faint dew drop, or a flickering flame. Reach into the elemental plane and make it a reality, like you do when slipping into the tree." He watches you patiently, although he still seems restless.
He watched, mouth agape as his necklace changed colors before reverting back to its familiar green glow "I-I remember this… My old Master told me about our natural attunement to the elements of nature" he gently touched the necklace "But to unlock these powers, bestowed upon us by our Mother, it took years and years of training and understanding of the aspects of nature…"
Looking up, he beamed "And you managed to fathom all of them, Master!"
Following his advice, Maali tried calling upon the winds with all of his being, a gust in his face and the gentle zephyr caressing his shoulders like the times he Skinwalked in a a flying being
'1d10' windRoll #1 9 = 9
"Not entirely," the Earthmover says. "The Earth is the most familiar to me still. Water and wind are difficult for me to control, and fire even more so. Perhaps you will find it easier than I do. Or perhaps not."
You concentrate on conjuring a gust of wind. Your amulet turns white as you focus as hard as you can, drawing upon the power of Gaia. Almost involuntarily, you make a small gesture with your hoof. Nothing happens for a moment, but then a stiff breeze flows in, blowing away the fog on the cave floor for a moment and exposing the rocky bottom. You feel cold all of a sudden, followed by a strange tingling sensation that starts at the back of your neck and runs through your entire body. Despite the cloud cast over the current training, you feel oddly calm.
"Very good," the Earthmover says, looking relieved for the first time in a while. "Very good indeed. You are quite gifted with elemental control, it seems. Again, there is little time to train, young sapling, but I trust you will be able to hone your abilities in time."
>new skill: Affinity To Gaia: spell; Control or conjure a source of one of the four basic elements, able to manipulate it to your will slightly. Has a limited effect, and cannot be used directly in combat.
"Would you like to try another?" the Earthmover suggests. "Water or earth, perhaps. To make sure you fully understand basic elemental control. We must get back to Seeing once you are done, however. The clouds will soon gather."
He nods, excitedly, bowing before he concentraded again ''Thank you for this gift master. I will not squander it I swear''
He focused his mind, this time, on the element of water, formless and calm, yet relentless like the sea
'1d10' waterRoll #1 10 = 10
"I know you will not, Maali. I have the utmost faith in you," the ancient stag says as he watches.
You call upon water now, again making gestures with your hoof to try and conjure it to your side. It comes much easier to you now, the fog dissipating once more as you call upon the little droplets of mist and have them congeal into a spherical orb of water, your amulet turning blue as the waves outside and far below. The Earthmover seems impressed at your aptitude. "Well done, Maali. I am very proud of you, small one."
The moment is interrupted by a sudden rumble of distant thunder. The Earthmover seems startled at the sound, getting distracted. "The Storm is coming," he utters, his voice quavering slightly. "Quick. Slip your skin. There is something I must show you."
A smile of jubilation formed in the buck's young face, glancing back and forth from the orb of water and the pleased face of his master, as impressed with his talent as the Earthmover was.
When the thunder disturbed the peace, and Maali's focus, the orb dissipated and spilled into the ground. He looked at the poured water gloomily for a moment before his attention snapped back to the Earthmover's order. he nodded and calmed his mind
The Earthmover seems to hesitate for a moment, looking at the cave entrance warily before leaning back. His eyes turn white, and soon you find yourself pulled again into the past.
You find yourself in a courtroom of some sort. The first thing you notice is a sky-blue unicorn with a lilac mane, manacled to a chair in the center of the room. She is clad in nothing but dirty rags, suggesting she's been imprisoned for some time. You can also see that she has a single large scar around her neck, as if she had been hanged but to no avail. The mare seems pale and frightened, shaking in her seat.
The layout of the room greatly resembles that of the chamber Bishop Joyce rests in, with several rows of varnished wooden seats surrounding the central chair. Several windows line the back walls, the midday sun outside blazing in in full heat. Foppish nobles are gathered in the seats, looking on at the prisoner with mixed reactions of disdain, interest and pity. Standing apart from them behind a lectern is a very thin, old, shrivelled-looking alicorn, with grey fur and a light red mane. He is draped in a sleek emerald robe, wearing a golden crown with a serpent motif. You have seen him before in your visions, although he did not look as poorly then. His name was Elstred the Pious, King of Rin, builder of the Tower of Silence.
You and the Earthmover are standing in the aisles, apart from the gathered crowd. The Earthmover doesn't seem to be focusing on the events playing out, nervously looking around or fidgeting on the spot. As the king speaks, the room falls silent, all eyes on the frightened mare. "State your name for the record," he demands, quill and ink at the ready. Despite his frail looks, he sounds incredibly strong.
She hesitates, unable to look the king in the eye. "Einord, Queen of Rin." A small murmur erupts amidst the crowd.
"Queen Einord," the king intones gravely, quelling the chatter instantly, "you are on trial before this court accused of the following crimes: Dabbling in forbidden arts, unlawful use of alchemical ingredients and conspiracy to commit regicide. How do you plead?"
"…Guilty," she answers eventually.
"Proof of your crimes was obtained when a sample of the alchemical plant known as Arinese Rojiella was found in your king's medicine," Elstred continues. "An investigation revealed an abundance of Rojiella in your private storage. Rojiella is commonly used in brewing only the deadliest of poisons. What do you have to say in your defense?"
"…I wasn't using it for that. There's a potion that can help you, I'm trying to help you," she whispers. "You're sick, you're dying, I don't want you to go. Elstred… Please… Don't do this… I l-"
"In addition," Elstred declares, cutting her off, "when first tried for your crimes, the judge sentenced you to be hung for regicide, only to find that you were unable to be killed in this manner. Further investigation revealed you to be in possession of a multiplicity of tomes detailing unspeakable practices linked to the dark city of Sarkomand. You are therefore accused of heresy against the church of the All-In-One and of witchcraft."
She is unable to speak, terrified as she is.
"Therefore," Elstred summarizes, "due to your dark, wicked, unholy nature, you are sentenced to be imprisoned until the end of your days in the Tower of Silence, the first of many prisoners to come. There you will be made to repent for your previously listed sins until your death or the end of time. Whichever comes first," he spits. "May the All-In-One forgive your twisted, eternal soul."
The king stomps his hoof, and a pair of large fully armored ponies enter the room and begin to take the now-sobbing Queen away. You're not sure quite what to make of what you've just seen.
Suddenly, all sound fades away and vanishes, and the scene playing out before you seems to blur and slow to a crawl. You feel oddly detached from everything, with just you and the Earthmover remaining.
The Earthmover turns to face you. "The time has come," he tells you, his voice trembling. "Leave me."
He looks upwards for a moment, gazing out a window to the sky above. He has a haunting look on his face, of despair and terror at the same time. For a brief second, you swear his eyes turn white, as if skinwalking.
Then, a gash splits the Earthmover from shoulder to navel. His body crumbles and turns to dust instantly before your eyes, dissipating in the midday sun.
Maali was stunned, his mouth hanging open. He stood there as the world fell silent
He began taking a step foward, eyes fixated on the roots where once stood his Master, but he hesitated, his hoof hanging in the air as his whole body shivered, and palpitated for a brief moment before suddenly turning back rushing out of the tree husk. He accidentally kicked the bowl of his last meal on the way but he did not care, Maali only kept running, away from that place, leaving a trail of tears in his wake
In shock, you pull out of the vision and find yourself back in the cave. The tree has become engulfed in flame, the sound of crackling wood surrounding you, debris falling from the ceiling as the cave threatens to collapse in upon itself. Outside, you can hear deafening thunderclaps, lightning illuminating the cave at regular intervals.
You are drenched in rain and mud as you run out and across the bridge. All over the islands, you can see the Shrine of Order being attacked by Shells. Fires have been lit all across the bay, and out at sea, there is a small fleet of Changeling ships anchored. The Shrine is teeming with Shells. Disciples are doing their best to fight them off, but most are unprepared, falling one by one to the red and gray army. It is clear that the Shells are almost entirely victorious at this point.
As you hurriedly cross a rope bridge, your mind reeling at what's happening, two Shells give chase to you, both Changelings. They give a shout to alert their partners of your escape before rushing at you, one with a longsword and the other with an axe.
[2d10]Roll #1 10, 9 = 19
''This can't be happening'' He muttered to himself in his first language as he ran
After a quick glance back at his pursuers, Maali turned to the ropes of the bridges as he dashed, as if he considered cutting the bridge. He seemed to quickly discard that idea however, as he kept running. he was smaller and limber, surely they couldn't catch up to him with while carrying heavy weapons
Or so he hoped
'1d10' run, run awayRoll #1 1 = 1
You try to run away, but you slip on the mud and fall. You are blinded by pain as they take turns in swinging at you, drawing blood and knocking you to the ground helpless.
A burly, square-jawed Disciple in a grey robe rushes over, cracking one of the Changelings' skulls with a flail. You recognize him as one of the Speakers that was present when you were first taken to the Earthmover. "Run, Soul-Seeker!" he shouts, barely audible amidst the storm, fire and carnage. "To the monolith! You are our future!" He is bleeding heavily and is unlikely to survive taking them both on.
Maali shakes to his hooves, looking up at his savior. his words come to him a bit like a blur as he stares dizzy for a moment. Wordlessly, he tried to leave, despite his injuries
'1d10' get up and moveRoll #1 4 = 4
You hobble back up and keep lurching forward, across the bridge and to the main settlement. You spare a look back, and see the Disciple beset by four other Shells, falling to them quickly. The bridge collapses not long after you cross, shattering on the rocks below. A few Shells take flight and chase after you.
You keep running, fuelled by sheer adrenaline, dashing through the small village you first arrived on. There are bodies everywhere here, Shells and Disciples alike. You dimly notice that the storms seem to be gathered here more than anywhere else. This seems to have been the bloodiest part of the battle, having moved on to the other islands by now. You notice the archway depicting the Disciples' creation myth has been torn down. You manage to move between the different huts and avoid your pursuers, focusing on getting to the monolith you arrived from.
You see three more Shells standing amidst the battlefield, looking dazed by the bloodshed. As you run, he turns to you, a wild look in their eyes. As they rush towards you, a second figure materializes near the monolith, that of a pegasus clothed in hooded rags. It looks vaguely like the one in the dreams you've been having. They fly up and join your side, wordlessly brandishing a dagger. You notice that their hooves are black with congealed blood and their eyes are glazed over, as if they were blank.
The pegasus attacks two of the Shells, who return the blows. The third faces you with sword in hoof, swinging at you in a daze.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
As you run, they turn to you*
Momentarily dazed by the figure sudden appearance, Maali barely reacted in time to avoid the swing of the Shell soldier, he swiftly countered the attack with one of his own, casting his most basic ability of forming stones in his hoof briefly for a powerful, yet heavy attack
'1d10' earthen strikeRoll #1 6 = 6
You call upon Kureimoa's final gift to you and turn your hoof to stone, dodging your attacker and giving him a swift uppercut. He recoils from the blow, bleeding from the mouth slightly.
The pegasus seems to have been wounded by one of the Shells, but they counter with a sharp jab to one's gut that makes him stumble backwards, crying out in pain. The other seems merely winded for now.
Your attacker does not give up and swings at you again.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
''G-get out of my way!'' Maali squealed as the blade pained him, fueling more rage inside the little deer as the rocks on his hoof extended to his whole body, coating him in stone and earth almost instantly before he rammed and trampled his opponent>Nature elemental, earth
'1d10+1' antlersRoll #1 8 + 1 = 9
The Shell tries to stab you. Blinded by pain, you call upon Gaia and turn to stone just in time, deflecting the blow with your earthen body. You press the advantage and gore him. There is a stomach-turning snap as you break the Shell's neck with the sheer force of the impact.>Maali takes 2 hits, nullified because of the +2 from Earth Elemental
The pegasus manages to fell one of the Shells, struggling to hold off the last of them on their own.
Without hesitating, Maali charged towards the frey, quite literally, charging against the last Shell, solidifying the stones on his head even more for a headbutt, followed by a second one
'1d10+1' earthen strike
'1d10+1' antlersRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
You ram into the Shell at full force, disorienting her but leaving her unharmed.
The pegasus lunges with their dagger but misses, getting counter-attacked by the final Shell. She focuses her attention on you while the pegasus recoils, jabbing at you with her estoc.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Some rocks on his body started getting loose and falling off. Using the last moments remaining of his spell, he recklessly endured the hit and attacked
'1d10+1' normal attack
'1d10+1' antlers, for real this time since last turn wasn't validRoll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7
You take the blow head on, headbutting the mare full force and following up with a powerful uppercut that knocks her unconscious.
The pegasus takes a moment to catch their breath. It's barely sunk in that you just killed someone before your strange ally motions for you to follow as they canter back towards the monolith. "Come with me, Maali!" Their voice is muffled by the hood they wear, but it sounds strangely familiar. "The dead won't rest."
Without a word, he qiuckly made his way to the monolith
You hurry towards the monolith. Before you warp, however, the pegasus pauses in their tracks, seemingly in fear of what's behind you.https://youtu.be/ygisgWFGMEo?t=2m5s
As you turn, you realize that the bay's fallen silent. There isn't any sound of the battle that raged all around you only moments ago. The rain and the lightning stops, and the clouds begin to part and dissipate, giving way to clear night skies, save for one tiny storm cloud that lingers. There is no moon in the sky; with a feeling of sudden dread, you see that the stars are going out one by one also, eventually giving way to nothing but a black void.
The solitary storm cloud begins to rapidly expand, soon covering every island on the bay in a blanket of gray. Silently, glistening bright red tendrils snake out of the storm cloud, touching every single corpse in the Shrine. There are hundreds upon of the tendrils all around you, ensnaring fallen Shell and Disciple alike without so much as a sound.
Slowly, deliberately, the bodies begin to stir, rising up onto their feet and gazing emptily into the cloud. Their eyes and mouth are glowing red as coal, just like in your vision. The last thing you see before warping away is every single corpse being hoisted up into the sky, an army of the dead silhouetted on Kureimoa's burning tree, every single body ascending like a choir of butchered angels to be assimilated into the timeless entity the Earthmover had called the Storm.