You remember only fragments of the ritual that led to your Vanishment. The iron cage. The silver sword. The cheering crowd. The shimmering whirlpool of many colors.
What you do remember is your reason for being there. No one is sent to the Echoes without reason, and you are all no different. Whether you deserved your Banishment or not is for you to decide. It doesn't matter now.
You remember plunging into the shimmering whirlpool, all the colors of the rainbow rushing up and embracing you. You couldn't move, trapped as you were in those cold iron cages. Patterns formed around you as you fell deeper and deeper through the whirlpool, kaleidoscopes of green and yellow and purple and blue. They coalesced, slowly but surely, giving way to a plane of endless white: then, darkness fell.
Your past has already been written. The ink is dry. All you can do now is turn the page.
You awaken to the sound of waves and the smell of salt. With an ear piercing creak, the doors of your cages swing open, spitting you out into your new home.
You find that you have landed on a beach of dark sand. Waves lap gently against the ebony shore, and coastal birds similar to seagulls can be seen wheeling overhead. Looking up, you can see a convergence of rainbow colors spiraling into each other, then dissipating as the portal that dropped you here closes.
Looking around, you can see several points of interest from where you are. There are many other cages littered around the beach similar to yours, showing this is a popular dumping ground for your kind. Far to the right, you can see a lighthouse, although it looks like no one's used it in some time. On the left, the beach gives way to a dense, muddy mangrove, while behind you the beach turns to sharp, jagged rocks. You notice that there are also fresh-looking tracks all across the beach, though you can't tell much about them without closer inspection.
Checking yourselves, you see that they were merciful enough to let you keep your belongings before being Banished, although you will not get far with only these to your name. You also find that the five of you have been Banished together. You remember each others' faces as the others that were present during the Banishment, but nothing more. You are strangers, both to each other and to this land.
Rabi, for what it was worth, felt like he deserved his Banishment. He offered little to no reaction as the kaleidoscopic whirlpool filled his vision, slowly growing into a bright, blinding white, and then to darkness.
Rabi shakes his head a little as he comes to, wiggling his snout and shakily getting to all fours. He takes a few moments to gather what possessions he'd been banished with, and take in his surroundings, before looking to the other four he'd been banished with. Perhaps, if they were willing, they could band together for long enough to find somewhere safer than this?
Stirring from sleep after the warp, i raise my head to take in the surroundings, before pouting in the sand.
"What a disaster!
to think that I, a mare of such standing, can simply be thrown to the wastes on a whim? Oh, how shameful.."
feeling a little better after wallowing in pity, i get back onto my hooves with a sigh, brushing the sand off my dress with a wing.
"Now then, just where did they toss me? They really should have included some sort of map.."
"I doubt they have a map of such a place. I have not heard of any returning from here… but, perhaps we can make do on our own/ There's a lighthouse, nearby… maybe we could scale it, and get a better view from that point?"
"Hmm, i suppose so.. perhaps whoever owned those footprints forgot to search it?"
"Ah, but where are my manners?"
Leading in with a bow, i introduce myself.
"I am Silver Song, daughter to Brass Tacks and heiress of Dominion rails, though i'm certain you must've heard of me."
A chill creeps down my spine, and my face contorts into a pained grimace as the screeching cage assaults my sensitive ears. I attempt to open my eyes, but immediately squeezes them shut again as the sudden light intensifies my already budding headache. A quiet groan passes my lips as I hoist myself onto my hind legs and slowly cracks my eyes again, this time giving them a chance to adjust. As the world around me comes into focus and the fog over my mind dissipates, I can't help feeling almost disappointed at my surroundings.
For a brief moment I wonder what I'd even expected. Some kind of hellscape? Leather winged creatures flapping around, herding wrongdoers into torture camps where they'd be buttered and eaten alive by insects? I gives a dismissive snort. Whatever I'd expected, it wasn't a beach.
I glance around, noticing my dagger and small burlap bag on my belt, and my animal trap and pocket journal on the ground beside me. Well, that's something else I hadn't expected. They'd let me keep all of my things for some reason. Even my dagger.
I brush the sand off of the seat of my scarlet pants and gather up my things before turning to listen to the two conversing equines and quietly listen. Some kind of noble? And from the look of it the other one is a foreigner.
This is what they do with crooks, right? So then that means everyone around me is some kind of heinous criminal or another. Then again, what does that make me? Well, that's it. I guess I'm a murderer now. Better get used to it. O'l Mr.Black the brigand. Norvegicus the cut-throat. Ratman the butcher and slayer of all.
I sigh, drop back down on the sand, and glance up at the birds. Well, it's not prison, and there's company. How bad could it be?
"Perhaps. At the least, it is worth a try, no?"
The Saddle Arabian dips his head in greeting, and offers a bit of a smile "You may call me Rabi. I hail from Abyssnia." he says, before thinking her name over "I… have heard of it in passing, I believe. I wasn't the most well-off, though, so I doubt I ran into the right circle to hear of it often." >>690397
"Hail, stranger. Recovering alright?" he calls out as he sees another shape rise out of one of the iron cages
"A pleasure to meet you, Rabi. I must say it's surprising to see somepony as well mannered as you here. I had assumed i'd meet only the roughest of society in this place."
I grunt. "Yeah," I say. "Just a bit of a headache. A bit of a dry mouth. Oh, and a bit of being transported to a prison dimension that- what did you say again? Nobody has actually ever been released from?" Alright, maybe that was a little harsh, but if I'm going to solidify my new and improved brutish hardened brutalizer attitude it'd be best if I did it now.>>690403
I stand up and brush the sand back off myself again. I lift my box trap by its handle and stare straight into your eyes. "They call me Mr.Black the Ratman," I say. "And I'd watch who you're calling 'roughest parts of society' if you know what's good for you. I'm a cold-hearted killer with no real emotions. I could just snap-" I snap my fingers for emphasis and give a fake eye twitch. "Just like that. I don't take no guff from nobody."
There. Dominance cemented. That was intimidating, right?>>690405
I cock my eyebrow. "Three others? Sounds like they were a little trigger happy with the banishings today."
"Hrm… well, from the look of it, we've got plenty of water. No clue if it's clean, but… it's water. And, no worries. We'll give you some time to get the brutish brutalizer attitude settled. Take what time you need to get your bearings straight, first." he offers, before chuckling "And, yeah. With you up and about, that makes… two more. Though, I haven't seen them. Perhaps they're still out of it, or woke up sooner?" he offers, taking a look around
"Well i had meant no offense, of course, i was simply pointing out the need to keep some civility in this horrid place."
"Though really, threatening an innocent mare you've only just met? How brutish!"
"Come on, now. No need to go after each other. We're all equal nothings now, anyways. Why not at least cool it till we get somewhere better, yeah?"
"Oh it's quite alright, i'm mostly joking, even if his introduction was quite rude."
"Fair enough. So… should we check on the others? Or, just get a move on? I've got the feeling this is a bad place to stay out in during the night."
"Probably for the best we check for others, the last thing you'd want would be being left here alone in the echoes."
The experience was all too much for Hermodur's simple mind. By the time he landed in the new land on the beach, he was unconscious. And, there he laid, unconscious. The waves lapped against his foot, giving him the unpleasant sensation of wet feet. This quickly causes him to come to his senses.
Quick as a whip, he instinctively reaches for his great hammer laying next to him. He raises it up and leaps to his feet. However, the dizzying sensation of waking up so suddenly causes him to fall face first into the surf.
"Gah!" he sputters as he picks himself up again. "My suit!" he looks down mournfully at his now ruined 3-piece suit. Of course, the water was the least of its concerns. It was ripped in frayed in many places. Dried bloods stained it in a few places. He was clearly in a battle while wearing that suit recently.
He grumbles to himself about his appearance as he takes a few steps away from the water and then sits back down. He sits in a meditative position with both of his hands on his hammer. The head of the hammer was placed on the ground with his head held against its hilt. And this is how he remains silently.
The large saurian flops from her belly to her back as she turns in her sleep, letting out a loud snort as her claws curl up reflexively. Now on her back, her bassy snoring becomes audible.
"Well, there's one…" the Saddle Arabian notes, looking him up and down. "Oh, a Felid. Good to see someone else from Abyssnia, then." he comments, before offering a wave. He'll leave him be for now, seeing as he's meditating. The >>690434
"And, there's two… it's alive, at least. We'd probably be best off waking it up somewhat soon, yeah?"
"true, he does seem rather busy, and if he's anything like our friend 'Mr.Black' i doubt it'd be best to hurry him."
"The saurian? Feel free to wake her if you'd like."
"Hrm… oh, might as well risk it." the equine says, trotting over to give the Saurian a prod "Hey, rise and shine."
I'm a little stunned that you actually react a bit, and for a moment I'm at a loss for words. Finally, I clear my throat and say, "R-right. Brutish. Because I'm a brute. And you'd better remember it." I glance away. "But as long as you keep that in mind and don't get on my bad side you don't have anything to worry about.">>690433
I gulp and take a couple of steps back. Now this. This is what I'd expected everyone else to look like. Is that- Is that blood? Oh goodness, I think I feel a little lightheaded, and I stumble a bit. Still, I can understand the frustration at losing a fine suit. >>690434
I glance over my shoulder at Zunden, and my face immediately shoots back to attention. Goodness me, maybe I should put the tough act on hold for a bit.>>690436
A small tinge of unease twists my words into a slight stammer. "So I suppose that's everyone then?"
"Whenever you're ready feel free to introduce yourself!" i shout from a ways off, waving a wing.
The saurian gives a grunt as she's prodded, eyes opening as she lies on the ground. She looks up to the Saddle Arabian, with bemusement.
"Oh, hello zere."
"It appears so, a little motley but more than durable enough to see us through this wretched place."
being the key, i'd hate to be horribly maimed before i make it back in time for my inheritance."
"Abyssnia…" Hermodur grumbles as he opens one eye to look in Rabi's direction. "A den of iniquity and meaningless violence. A shining example of the world's desperate need for guidance in a lightless world."
Hermodur stands up and puts his hammer in a strap on his hip. "Do not include me with such filth.">>690441
"I am Hermodur Aput," he says dramatically as he does a sort of salute with his fist to his chest. "I am the messenger of a god. The one true glorious god of Equestria who will lead its people to a new era of glory! Behold for you stand before the right hand of Ailuros Bastet!"
You likely have no idea what he's talking about.
"Oh.. sounds lovely."
clearing my throat, i bow
"As you seem one for extended introduction, i'll match with my own. I am Silver Song, daughter of Brass Tacks and heiress to Dominion Rails, my father's company."
"That makes everyone, yeah. At the least, I don't remember seeing any others banished alongside us.">>690442
"Morning. Sorry to wake you, but I wouldn't reccomend sleeping here. We were going to look for somewhere safer, maybe… the lighthouse? We'd be able to get our bearings straight, at the least.">>690444
The Saddle Arabian raises a hoof, and shrugs "Didn't mean to offend, Hermodur. You can call me Rabi. I'm… a bit of a wanderer, I guess. We were heading for that lighthouse, if you'd want to come with."
I set my trap on the ground just so I can make a show of crossing my arms. "Well," I say. "As long as we're doing introductions I guess I should introduce myself too. My name is Norvegicus Black. Let's just say I work in "Pest control" and move on with it."
"I am pleased to see that there are those with respect among the criminal scum," Hermodur says with a respectful nod.
"However, before I can do anything, I must receive orders from her Majesty. And, so I sit and meditate," he says as he does what he says.
"I doubt you'll be getting many orders soon, friend. Unless she has some special way of getting them to you. But, if you'd want to wait, we can leave you to your business."
"I… I hear nothing!" Hermodur stammers after a moment. "Her beautiful sumptuous voice is lost to me… I am lost…" he says with his voice drenched in despair.
chuckling, the reptile rises, looking around at her surroundings and brushing herself off, checking her satchel with some concern before remembering her belt, feeling a pouch and then sighing in relief.
"I zank you, I'm uzually not a heavy zleeper. Zis is the Echoez, zen? Cheery looking plaze."
she looks to the people around her,
"You have all been banizzed, I prezume? I am Zunden, as I zee we are introduzing each other."
She smiles, looking to the Arabian as she now stands over him.
"I zank you az well for not taking my zingz in my zleep."
"I'd imagine being trapped in here might put a damper on outside magic."
"For now at least you're welcome to join us, at least until you can hear her again."
"I… I thank you," Hermodur says, suddenly very deflated. "Without her voice, I've never felt so… listless.">>690451
"Ha!" Hermodur laughs. "The lizard cannot say her 's'es."
"We're all pretty lost now, it seems. But, like she said." he points to Silver Song "You're more than welcome to come with us until you hear from her again.">>690451
Rabi offers a soft chuckle in response, and helps the Saurian up "Cheery, yeah. Almost cozy enough to settle down into, yes?" he says, before smiling "We've all been banished, yeah, for one reason or another. And, of course, Zunden. I'm not the type to steal off of someone anymore."
"A curiously kind lot for ones who have been banished," Hermodur observes.
"Well, there's no need to be hostile here. It's not going to get us anywhere now, yeah?"
"The only one here who has obvious reason to be arrested is this one," he points to the 'pest control' pony.
The lizard turns, smiling,
"Yez, iz a zymptom of my zpeciez. Much like you muzt have to zpend a lot of money on zhampoo.">>690454
"I zee. Who are the ozherz, haz everyone already been introduzed?"
"From my experience, the 's'es from your kind are usually more elongated. I was amused by the irony of the opposite being true. But, perhaps different saurians have different lips and tongues. Tis the greatness of diversity which leads to a more powerful world," he adds enigmatically at the end.
"While we're all getting ready i really should see what exactly is around here."
stretching my wings, i fly up a ways above the treetops, looking around the area.>bounce
"I know of the zaurianz you zpeak of. My tribe iz, er… waz a bulkier folk, not thoze zkinny lizardz you'd find in the zwampz. We uzed our bulk to endure the zandstormz of the ze dezertz of Abyzzinia."
"Yeah, we have. I'm Rabi, and we've got… Silver Song, Hermodur, Silver Song, and… Norvegicus."
Zunden nods, turning to everyone in turn offering a hoof or paw shake to each of them.
"It iz good to know you all. Are you all okay wiz working togezer for ze time being to find our bearingz?"
meant to reply to here
"Why of course! I was in need of some traveling companions, this land i'd imagine would be quite rough on my own, better this than risk being accosted by bandits and other such exiles."
"People normally just call me "Mr.Black".>>690463
I pick my trap back up and nod. "I don't suppose it could hurt anything."
"So, I suppose I will be the one to ask the obvious question," Hermodur says as he follows everyone. "What did you all do to end up here?"
You fly up to get a better view of the surrounding landscape. You can see that beyond the lighthouse, the beach turns into more mangrove. You can't see too well, but it looks like there's boardwalks here that would make traversing it easier. Further inland, past the rocks are a series of a dozen or so large boulders, which seem to have been carved into indistinct, vaguely pony-like shapes. Who they're meant to represent, and who would have done so, is a mystery to you. You also notice the remains of a campfire amid the boulders, suggesting someone's been here recently. Even further in the distance, you can see a solitary mountain, half-hidden behind the clouds. It is truly massive, able to be seen from miles around. >>690448
You meditate for a while, trying to establish a link between you and your former master, Ailuros. Try as you might, you see and hear nothing but the beach. It seems the Echoes cut off all communication with the outside world. Apart from the rest of the party, you are alone, for now.>>690434
You sit a while and rest. The hot sun above is incredibly comforting for you.>>690460>>690386>>690463>assuming the rest of you are following
Deciding it's best not to stay where you are for now, you make for the abandoned lighthouse. It looks even worse up close, much of its original red brick cracked and faded over the years, weeds growing at its base and climbing up its walls. The front door seems to have been broken not too long ago, by the looks of things. The interior has mostly gone to rot; curiously, however, it seems to get less and less dilapidated the higher up into the building one goes.
More importantly, you notice that the tracks all across the beach have led here at some point, then moved away into the rocky area behind you. It looks like the prints were dragging something behind them, perhaps a wagon of some sort. You also notice that there is a broken boat on the beach, stranded ashore. It looks like there's something inside it, but you can't tell what from where you are now.
You can't help but shake the feeling that something is watching you from afar.
"Me? why, i was framed, of course!"
"My father had wanted me to marry a political ally, believing he's secure him a lucrative trade deal. I refused, he had called in a favor and, well, here i am."
"Quite sad, isn't it? Cast aside so carelessly?" i finish, covering my eyes with a wing.
"Hrm… not really the best place or time to discuss it, yeah? We should at least wait until we've gotten shelter." he offers>>690468
"Hmm. Well, it's seen better days, but it's still standing, yeah?" he says, before looking up towards Silver "See anything of note?"
Rabi will also keep a bit of a lookout himself, as he feels something watching him… (Perception [1d10] )Roll #1 9 = 9
"curious, something left so in the open, clear of the treeline?"
approaching the boat, i keep low, trying to avoid the treeline.
"It seems there's quite a trail of boardwalk past the treeline, and a snuffed out campfire a ways in. Still, we'd best be cautious."Roll #1 8 = 8
I clear my throat. "Like I said. 'Pest control'."
I stick behind a little and crouch down. Channeling my energy into my box trap I make an attempt to summon two rats inside, not opening the door just yet. (+1 DC)
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Awash and alone at the shore, the lonely criminals come to the sign of safety only to find more nothing," Hermodur observes dramatically. "Or, did the intrepid ones who came before us find something of value? As I observe these trails in the ground, I must wonder what it is that they took with them. Tis a perplexing mystery, but also one which requires no solution. For, it is all meaningless to me. Alas, I look up at the sky and feel no salvation without my beloved to guide me."
"But lo, on yon shores I spy a shipwreck. There appears to be something aboard the lonely vessel, cast from its environment. What mysteries must it hold?">>690469
"Such a pitiful use of a cruel punishment," Hermodur responds dramatically. "As it becomes easier to cast aside that which one does not agree with, the ability becomes abused. Such is this sinful world without a god to lead it.">>690470
"I see no reason to hide anything now that we have been cast away like garbage.">>690472
"And now the messenger of a god is forced to collude with a lowly assassin."
Zunden explores around the campfire, feeling how warm the embers are.>>690467
"I harbored those that society rejected, and when guards came to took them, I spoke back. I am guilty of my crimes, but I do not regret them."
"Alright. It might be best for the rest of us to wait here. More people might make sneaking harder.">>690474
"Eh, fair enough. I was banished for carriage robbery, and murder. The murder was accidental. A magic bolt gone awry, but… it doesn't change what I did."
"Sounds like Abyssinia…" Hermodur grumbles.>>690475
"You speak as if you were being charitable. But, if they were criminals, the charitable thing would have been to turn in for the sake of society."
You see something a very slight movement on the walls of the lighthouse's exterior, indicating… something's presence. You can't really tell what it looks like, but it's very large, has multiple legs, and is completely transparent, almost completely invisible to the naked eye unless you know what to look for. It's been watching you and your group this whole time. Whatever it is, it doesn't attack yet, but is merely clinging there, as if it were hiding from something else.>>690471
You lay low, sticking to the rocky shoreline that hosts the small lighthouse in an effort to remain undetected.>>690473
You manage to lure out two small, grey rats with matted fur. They sniff around curiously, looking a little apprehensive.>>690471>>690474
You find that the boat contains a fishing net, some clothes, and a diary of some sort. It seems to be completely waterlogged, making reading it difficult. The tracks you saw earlier lead from the boat to the lighthouse. Whoever they are, it seems that whatever they were carrying was quite heavy, and slowed them down. >>690475
You break up from the party momentarily, moving to the strange pony-shaped boulders and the campfire within. It seems that the fire was put out not too long ago, as the kindling is still slightly warm. There are tracks nearby matching the ones on the beach where you landed, as well as near the lighthouse. Whoever they are, they might be nearby.
As Hermodur boards the boat, he picks spies the diary and picks it up. He begins to read it.
>>690475>"I harbored zoze that zoziety rejected, and when the guardz came to take zem, i zpoke back. I am guilty of my crimez, but i do not regret zem.">>690477
"Criminalz are only zuch becauze lawz make zem zo. We are guided by fate, not ponyz. Zey took the idea of "Making zere own deztiny" wrong, now zey make ozer'z deztiniez, and banizj zose who dizagree.">>690478
"I have found trackz in ze dirt. Zey are frezj too."
Zunden pokes her head into the lighthouse,
"Are we ztaying long? We zjould follow zese before the perzon goez too far."
Curious, i look over Hermodur's shoulder to read the diary, quickly checking to see if i still have my diary on me.>>690479
"Should we really be rooting through someone's things? Exiles we may be, but sifting through someone's journal is just rude."
"Well, yes. Saddle Arabia's around that area." he says, before shrugging "While this isn't the best place for it, I'm trying to attone.">>690478
Rabi makes note of the… thing, on the walls, before humming a little. He looks to the rest of the group, before walking a little closer to share what he's found.>>690479>>690478>>690480
"There's something on the walls. It's hard to catch, but I don't think it's hiding from us… I imagine there's something else here, then."
"I do not disagree with your sentiment. However, if the guards came for them, they must have done something reprehensible.">>690481
"You are probably right, but search I must. Without purpose, I am listless in a sea of possibility.">>690482
"The fact that you lived in a world where you felt such actions were necessary is precisely why Her Majesty should lead us. Should we ever escape this hideous place, I've a mind to introduce you to Her Grace if you've a mind to accept her."
"It did not matter, zey were not committing zose crimez in my home. Zey zwore by it. Everyone did."
"They still committed the crimes."
"I don't think I know of 'Her Majesty' much. I suppose it couldn't be any worse as life as a highwayman, so… sure. Why not?"
"Az I zaid, bezidez the point. If they are willing to ztop what zey did in my abode, zen zey could have been able to ztop elzewhere. Zey were never given ze chanze."
"A fair point provided they were going to spend the rest of their life in your home.">>690486
"Her name is Ailuros Bastet. Even her name is enticing…" he practically swoons. "She is a true goddess the likes of which have never been seen since Celestia and Luna abandoned us. She will bring a new age of order and glory to the world. And who desire peace and harmony will revere her name with love in their hearts. And, all who would continue to live lives of treachery and villainy will learn to fear her coming."
My lips curve into a warm smile as I hear the rats squeak and I crack the door to the cage just enough to reach my hand in and give them a quick scratch under their chin. Good boys. Steeling myself, I scramble to catch back up with everyone else.
"Hey!" I shout. "Sorry, I was looking over there. I miss anything-" I try to think of a better way to word it but nothing comes to me. 'Uh… Over here?"
asked a question forgot to link to others>>690481>>690483>>690482>>690489
You go through it to the best of your ability. It is soaked to the bone, but you can make out a few words here and there. The owner's name seems to be Dawn, it makes mention of a Sanctuary many times throughout, as well as the phrases "one of three" and "two of three" being repeated several times in the later pages alongside a recurring symbol: a circle, split into three thirds, with one or sometimes two of the thirds being shaded in sometimes.>pic related
Overall though, the diary is nigh illegible due to having been destroyed by water, the ink blurred and distorted.>>690489
The rats sniff your hand, then dart further into the cage. It seems something is frightening them, and it can't be you.>>690480>>690482
The thing on the lighthouse reveals itself all of a sudden, gaining color. It can best be described as looking like a gigantic panther, although it is more monstrous than that. Its eyes are burning red like chunks of glowing hot coal, and thousands of tiny tentacles sprout from its body instead of fur, rippling constantly. From its back sprout two enormous tendrils, with flower-like appendages at its end. It pounces from its vantage point, landing in front of you without a single sound.
It swipes at Rabi and Zunden first, its claws elongating to an impossible length.
[2d10+2]Roll #1 1, 8 + 2 = 11
"As I invade the privacy of another lost soul such as myself, I find that this individual found himself a new purpose. But, what could this purpose mean to-" Hermodur's out loud introspection is cut short as the sounds of combat reach his ears. He drops the diary and turns back toward the tower.
"Lo, such a familiar sound does reach my ears. Hermodur, the Right Hand of God, shall draw Mighty Mjolnir and slay whatever beast should threaten my new allies!"
As he runs, he swipes the back side of the hammer and it causes a flame to ignite. "Haaaa!" he shouts his warcry. Mjolnir makes a whirring sound.
>[1d10] for sharpenRoll #1 5 = 5
I scream and stumble backwards, landing on my butt. My trembling hands struggle to catch the latch on my trap, but after a couple of failed attempts I lift it to free my rats.
"Out," I say, calmly but firmly. They reluctantly slink out of the trap with arched backs, both terrified and trembling. I don't make them fight right away. Poor guys.
I shut the trap again and close my eyes, channeling my summoning magic into it again in an attempt to set forth a swarm of rats. [animal swarm]
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Zunden holds up her massive arms, standing stalwart against the beast.
"I waz too complazent! Ziz iz a new world, one wiz new dangerz az well. Very well beazt, come at me."
The sun shines through the door as she holds her staff up, the finely detailed pole starting to glow.>Bask: automatic, recharge 2 after effect ends; You take a moment to sunbathe, recharging your energy. After doing so, you get a +2 bonus to a skill of your choice next time you use it. The effects of Bask are cancelled if you are knocked helpless while using it. Can only be used in sunlight. The debuff from being exposed to cold can be cancelled by Basking, although if used in a snowy environment Bask's recharge is increased by 1.
+2 to Healing Bonds
"Oh? some sort of struggle, perhaps? My, this i'll have
creeping along behind, i pull my shivs from their holsters, readying for the fight in the shadows.
"Or, not! Look out!" he calls out, wheeling about and pulling his bow out. Rather than nock an arrow, he channels his magic into it, which forms into a ball of light. He looses it at the panther-like monster>Radiant (Elementalist)>Seeker Bolt: [2d10+1] (+1 from Seeker Bolt)Roll #1 10, 4 + 1 = 15
Mjolnir's flame ignites, then sputters and fades away. Not even your own hammer is here to save you, it seems.>>690493
You try and coax more rats out, but to no avail. Whatever this thing is, it is making your rats unnaturally frightened.>>690494
As you stand firm and challenge the monster, it takes a powerful swing at you, sending you reeling. Its strike leaves a black ichor on you, which smokes ominously before dissipating.>Zunden takes 4 hits>>690495
You sneak up while the creature is distracted by the others, preparing to strike.>>690496
You manage to scramble out of the way of its attack, retaliating with a powerful shot of light that hits the monster between the eyes. It recoils, thrashing about silently as the hair-like tendrils on its body pull the arrow out. It is left confused and unable to see momentarily.>+2 DC to its next attack roll
The tentacles on its back reach out and try to grab Rabi in retaliation.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
uncorking a vial of toxin with my teeth, i soak a shiv in a clear fluid, before leaping in front of the monster, slinging the excess towards it's face!
"Have some of this, wretched thing!"Roll #1 4 = 4
Hermodur arrives on the scene and sizes up the !Displacer Beast.
>Hunter's Eye on it
"Ailuros, My Beloved!" Hermodur calls out as he lifts up his hammer. "If you are still out there, LEND ME YOUR STRENGTH!"
>Sharpen [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"Now zen, feel the warmz of ze zun!"
Frozen Light: passive; Whenever you cast a successful spell on an ally, it can instead be held to be used later at their choice (You must decide if you’re holding the spell this way when casting). The spell locks as an orb of light above the targeted ally, and they can use the spell whenever they want as an Instant Automatic action at the roll you made for it originally. There can only be one frozen spell on an ally at any time.
+>Healing Bonds: recharge 3, spell, ranged; Chain of energy that heals up to 3 allies to full hits and restores 1 wound on each one of them.
[1d10+2] Zunden, Rabi, Aput
if it succeeds, this effect also applies to the frozen spell above you.>Supernova; passive: The spells of Zunden may be frozen in time, but they radiate the inspiring light and warmth of the sun. Frozen Light's orbs count as suns for the purpose of weather-related effects, and sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. Additionally, when the spell inside is EXPENDED, the orb releases a miniature supernova, offering a +1 to the next roll of the affected ally.[more rule text than post, ik. Just doing this for the first time each session for reminder]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
I gulp and lean down to eye level with my rats, turning my back away from the fight. "Okay, guys," I say, putting on the best 'pep talk' voice I can in a whisper. "I know you're scared, and I'm sorry. It's a big, scary cat thing. I'm scared too, but I need you to go in and help out our new friends, okay?" I reach out and scratch the two rats on the head. "I'm really sorry to make you do this, but you'll both get a nice little treat after."
The rats tremble in fear, but both dart after the creature with the blinding speed of scared rats. Both of them leap at the creature's leg, trying to sink their teeth into it.
I roll over, still prone, and place my hand on the cage. I try and summon two more rats to help out.DC+1
[1d10]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #3 1 = 1
>>690500>Forgot to greentext frozen light
Zunden holds her staff, three orbs of sunlight falling upon herslef, Rabi, and Aput
Not intent on giving the beast a moment's rest, he nocks another arrow, and wills a little bit of magic into it. The tip turns a dull, dark blue, and he tries to aim for its forehead. >Trick Ammo: Knockout>Ranged Attack: [1d10+1] (+1 from Seeker Bolt)>>690500>>690502
"Thanks!" he shouts in response, a little unsure of what the orb of light actually does.Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
You lob the vial at the monster. It shatters harmlessly against its oily surface, getting grasped and flung away by its tiny tendrils.>>690499
Mjolnir sparks for a moment, but nothing more. You keep an eye on the monstrous thing while you try and get ready, watching its every move.>>690500
You conjure three radiant orbs of sunlight, placing them above your head as well as those of your newfound allies. >>690501
All animals are dangerous when cornered, and your rats have nowhere to go but forward. They dart towards the monster, ripping and tearing at its hairlike appendages, leaving it severely wounded. It swipes at its tiny assailants, but to no avail, being too small a target for it. They keep clawing and nibbling until they can't anymore, scurrying away back to safety.
You also manage to get two rats out, but they refuse to leave their cage. When you stick your hand in to try and encourage them, they bite at you instinctively, leaving you with a nasty wound.>Norvegicus takes 1 hit>>690503
You manage to dodge its attempt to grab you, preparing a special arrow to stun the beast. You manage to hit it in the shoulderblade, knocking it over monetarily. It thrashes about, trying to regain its bearings.
The thing's back tentacles lash out again as it tries to get up, targeting Zunden.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"No, no, no!" Hermodur begins to panic. "Please, don't fail me now! I need your power. Please, please, please!"
>Sharpen [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
darting back, i dig through my belt to fine a crimson vial, dipping my shivs into it before leaping at the creature!
"Have at you!"Roll #1 10 = 10
Zunden grimaces as the tentacles lash at her, casting one last spell before she goes down. >Frozen Light Mend, Norvegicus
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
I wince in pain as the rats bite me, reflexively jerking my hand out of the cage. Probably just going to leave those poor guys alone for now. I reach into my pouch and pull out four tiny, donut shaped treats, gently laying too just inside the cage for the scared rats. I kneel down and click my tongue, calling the attack rats back over to me.
I let them scamper up my leg and to each of my shoulders, giving each of them a treat when they're comfortable. They take them in their little paws and happily chitter as they munch on them. I take a step back. Probably best just to let everyone else handle the rest of the fight for now.
"All things considered, this could be going worse!" Rabi calls out, before firing another arrow at the panther-like monstrosity>Ranged Attack: [1d10+1] (+1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
The hammer suddenly comes to life in your hands, fire crackling from its head.>>690506
You cover your blades in the secretions of a carnivorous plant, enhancing your blades' bleeding capabilities. You lunge at it with all your strength, piercing through the fleshy tendril exterior and to whatever lies underneath. It shudders and writhes hideously at your blow.>>690507
You heal your tenuous ally before being grappled by its appendages. It lifts you up, then slams you into the ground hard, leaving you dazed and winded.>Zunden takes 3 hits, helpless>>690508
You hang back for a moment, taking the time to comfort your cherished rats. It seems to work, as they seem fairly docile for now.>>690509
You put a dangerous amount of strain on your bow. It creaks ominously as you draw your arrow. Your shot goes completely wide and clatters off of one of the strange carved rocks.
Sensing it's outmatched, the creature starts retreating down towards the beach, heading for the mangroves. Its tendrils writhe and convulse as it tries to shake off your attack.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and pull myself to one knee. I don't want to make the rats in my trap attack just yet, but I open the door to let them out to get some air.
I glance up just in time to see Zunden go down and the creature sprint away. Well, I was going to try to summon another swarm, but there's no reason to attack a wounded animal while it's trying to escape. I sigh and stand up, and the two scared rats dart behind my legs to hide.
"Hardly worth the effort to chase it down, really."
scowling in the creature's direction, i dip a shiv in an ink jar, sitting down to pull open my journal and quickly jot some notes on the fight.
"YES!" Hermodur celebrates as the hammer revs up. "Behold the blessing bestowed upon me by Her Majesty! With this, nothing can resist my awesome power!"
Then, he realizes the beast is trying to flee. "Oh, no you don't! You started this, you will see it through to the bitter end!"
"Have at thee, monster!" he shouts as he runs after it. As he runs, he swings his hammer. When he does, the front end opens up. He swings his hammer with all of his might, the jet on the back increasing its speed. As it is swung, the opening on the front releases a ball of glowing magical energy which explodes upon impact with the creatures rear leg.
>Single, Ranged attack>take the higher roll [1d10+3] [1d10+3] with DC-1Roll #1 5 + 3 = 8
/ Roll #2 1 + 3 = 4
"I will not go down zat eazily."
Zunden says as the sun above her extinguishes, basking in it's light.
>Instant Automatic 7 on Healing Bonds
>Bask: Healing Bonds
Rabi blinks once or twice, considering himself lucky to have had the shot deflect in such a harmless way. Shrugging to himself, he funnels magic back into his bow, turning the nocked arrow a bright, blinding white>Elemental Arrow: Radiant>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
The rats take a moment to double check the coast is clear, then leave the cage and start sniffing around, rearing up on their back legs to explore their immediate surroundings.>>690512
You take notes on what's happened so far, including a description of the strange creature you just faced.>>690513
The creature scrambles to get away from you, but you bring your hammer down. As you do so, the flames immediately engulf it, and the creature begins to physically shrink as it is burned. The smell is indescribably nauseating. Eventually the flames die out, and all its tendrils recede and shrink away into the creature's core: a small roughly cut translucent red and grey gem, which smolders slightly. The black tendrils can be seen within the gem, moving every so often around its interior.>>690514
The sun above you convulses and is snuffed out in a brilliant display of radiance, bthing you in its warmth and restoring your energy.>Zunden is healed, back at 5/5>>690515
You go to fire an arrow, but Hermodur's blow seems to have killed the creature already. It seems to hate fire. Your shot instead hits one of the nearby mangroves, where it illuminates the surroundings, driving off a flock of the birds you saw before.
You are suddenly aware of a figure watching you from afar, standing amid the rocks overlooking the mangrove forest. You can't see them very well from where you are, but it seems to be a pony wearing a hooded robe of some sort, with a large object strapped to them. They see the creature burn and wither at Hermodur's hand, then turns to you all and raises one hoof in silent greeting.
Hermodur stares at the pony with suspicion, his hammer still whirring in his hands.
After a moment of silence, he says, "Such a beast cannot match up to the might bestowed upon me by My Goddess," he boasts.
Zunden's staff glows a final time as she attempts to create two more suns for those in the party without. She goes to investigate the gemstone dropped by the creature, holding it up to the sunlight to look inside.
[1d10+2] Frozen Light Healing Bonds on Zunden, Silver Song.Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Rabi remains at the ready as the unfamiliar stallion approaches, but offers a friendly smile. As she throws her hood back, he does much the same himself, and offers a bit of a pouch "Hello, stranger. I believe we all pulled through without many scrapes. From the look of it, you've been around here for a while, yeah?" he asks, slowly putting away the bow
"So, what can we call you, then? Or should we wait for safer ground?"
"Oh yes, quite alright, my companions proved more than effective at fighting that creature off, thankfully." i reply, tucking my journal into my vest.
"Might we ask just whom we're speaking with? It'd be best to run through introductions while we have the chance."
I herd two of my rats back into the trap, slip two more treats out of my pack and drop them in. In hindsight I should probably be saving these, but the little guys did so good I can't help but reward them. After the two rats on the ground scurry back into the cage I reach up and scratch the two on my shoulders under the chin.
I look up at the mare and cock my eyebrow. I'd planned on keeping silent for a bit, but she said something that definitely interested me.
"Wait," I ask. "Just the one? You mean they tend to pack together? That one seemed a little territorial."
The pony seems to sense your apprehension towards her, backing off a little to look less aggressive. She nods in response. "I saw you fall from the sky and made my way back to find you all fighting that Prowler. I was going to intervene, but, well, you seem to have things under control. Quite an impressive display.">>690783
Your staff glows brightly for a moment, but then fizzles out, to your chagrin.
The gem is a bright red with streaks of grey, an odd lumpy sort of shape and about the size of your palm. As you look closer, you can see the ropy tentacles of the creature squirming within. "Careful with that," the newcomer warns, looking at the gem with clear disgust. "I don't know much about Prowlers, but they're no natural creation. That's some powerful dark magic if ever I've seen it.">>690784
She nods. "Longer than I'd care to admit," she answers with a smirk. "To be honest, it's hard to keep track of time in this place. It doesn't seem to work like on the other side.">>690785
"I saw," she says, sounding impressed. "It's not often I hear of newcomers being able to take down a Prowler like that. Strength in numbers, I suppose.>>690784>>690785
"My name is Violet," the one-eyed mare answers. "Violet Moon. Charmed.">>690786
The rats happily wolf down the treats, consuming them in mere seconds. Not even the crumbs are left. Violet seems amused by the spectacle.
She nods in response to your question. "Prowlers seem to come in all shapes and sizes, not just big cats. They always travel together. Four, five, even up to seven at a time. The one you slew was either a scout or a straggler, although I'd wager on the former. …That's about all I know about them I'm afraid. I'm no zoologist, although I'd hesitate to even call those things animals." She glances uneasily at the dark crystal it left behind.>>690782>>690783>>690784>>690785>>690786
Violet looks around. "Hey, listen, I don't think it's a good idea to tarry for too long. Prowlers never stray far from their packs, and I don't fancy fighting off a whole group of them. Here, let me give you some advice, since you're new around here."
"There's an established settlement of fellow exiles about an hour's travel due west, and from there you can go your own way. You can use Mount Alken as a waypoint, if you get lost." She points at the huge, half-clouded mountain that Silver Song saw in the distance. "For my own part, I'm planning on heading back to the settlement, then northwards from there. Towards the Shifting Sands, five days travel from here. There's something I've been meaning to investigate in that area. You can come with me if you want. If not, there's plenty to keep yourself busy with around these parts if you ask around." Without further ado, Violet starts heading off in the direction of the settlement, glancing in all directions in case of a Prowler ambush.
"Traveling to that settlement certainly beats waiting for more of those 'prowlers' to appear."
"Unless we'd like to try our hooves at exploring the grove..?" i ask, turning to the others.
Rabi smiles a tad, before offering "Rabi. Likewise. And… Prowlers, is it? Good to have a name for them, then. I imagine whatever we do, staying still shouldn't be a part of it.">>690788
"I'd be fine with either, honestly, but I'd say our best bet is to get our bearings straight before searching around anymore. What better place to do that than in town, yeah?"
Zunden stares wistfully at gem for a short while longer before suddenly snapping her head around to Violet, nodding,
"Zandz you zay? Zoundz of my childhood home. I zhank you, Violet Moon-Charmed."
she says, unwittingly mistaking the pony's name,>>690788
"If it iz a trap, we can alwayz flee or fight back. But it iz good to azzume to ze bezt of poniez and ze like. Ozherwize, why zjould zey truzt uz?"
"What do you mean time works differently?" Hermodur suddenly asks with great concern. He doesn't bother speaking dramatically.
My pest-control mind immediately sets to work. If they pack, then that means they form communities. I want to ask some questions, but at the same time I don't want to come off like some weak, push-aroundable blue-collar mook. I silently chew my nails, conflicted. Everyone already thinks I'm some kind of badass assassin. I can't ruin that bone-chilling fear and respect that they no doubt have already just because I'm a little inquisitive.
Probably shouldn't put myself in any more danger than I have to, anyway. I've already been banished. I don't plan on dying while I'm here.
Then again, it is a prison dimension. I visibly shudder, thinking about what kind of people actually make up a settlement entirely composed of convicts. Would I really be safer just hanging around there? Still, looks like everyone else is going to follow and if they were going to kill me they already would have. I decide to quietly follow Violet. If I want to bring something up I can always do it when we're alone.
"True, and at the very least a town is less likely to cause problems than the wild."
"..Though given the residents of this place we had better keep our things in hoof's reach" I mutter under my breath.
"That's something, yeah. Then, let's head for the town!"
"Go your own way if you want," Violet answers, "but I'm fairly certain the Prowlers around here come from the mangroves. And there's other beasts about in those parts besides. Sunrays, Mirodan, Orchard Keepers, you name it." You have no idea what any of those are, but none of them sound friendly.>>690789
"Well, we call them that, for lack of a better name. Some of the old folks say they weren't always around. Something, or someone, spawned them, and now they're everywhere. Word of advice: they absolutely hate fire.">>690790
The writhing of the tendrils is almost hypnotic. You pull yourself away eventually. Violet looks concerned, but makes no comment.
"Well, if not you, then it'll be some other folks from town," she explains as she walks, not bothering to correct your mistake. "There's treasure everywhere in this land, and most everyone wants a piece of it. Mostly because they're clinging on to the hope that they can find a way out of this place." She shrugs.>>690791
"It's… hard to explain," she says, trying to put her thoughts into words. "I think time moves slower here compared to the real world. Or maybe faster. Some that end up here, they talk about places and things that didn't even exist when I was in the Dominion. And some seem to come from before my time, even. …In any case, if there is a way home, I doubt I'd even recognize it if I saw it." She smirks again, somewhat wistfully this time. "Oh well. It is what it is I suppose.">>690792
She sees you shudder at the mention of the settlement. "It's… not as nasty as you'd think, actually," she explains reassuringly. "There's some rough folks around for sure, but there's many more that have made peace with their new life, like myself. Even some that were born down here, and don't know the outside. So don't fret. Life down here isn't so bad, once you get used to it.">>690793>>690792>>690791>>690790>>690794
You follow Violet onwards, past the oddly shaped stones and across the rocky plains. Along the way, you find out that the giant brick cylinder she's carrying is actually almost entirely weightless, likely due to some enchantment.
"I actually don't really know what it is yet," she explains. I found it in that boat when it washed ashore last night, the one near the lighthouse. No sign of a mariner. Whatever it is, it's probably valuable to someone."
You keep traveling without any further incident, until you reach the settlement Violet told you about. Resting on the banks of a river overlooking a thicket of woodlands, the settlement of Ironbrook is little more than a shanty town of 100 or so settlers of various races, living in houses made of wood and stone. Near the center of town are a spattering of shops selling supplies to travelers passing through. It seems that many people come to Ironbrook, but few stay for long.
The shops in the area sell and trade for supplies such as tents, bedrolls, food rations and water. In addition to these, there is a rickety looking inn called the Laughing Squire which provides boarding as well as drinks, and a strange wooden building shaped like a chess rook which seems to specialize in magical supplies and enhancements. "I'll just be a few minutes," Violet says, heading towards the latter. "I'm going to see if they can help me find out more about this weird cylinder."
Zunden puts the gemstone in one of her pouches, taking out her cards and kneeling on the ground and shuffling them,>>690794
"I zink I jzould read ze tarot before we go any furzer. Would any of you like your fortunez read? I cannot claim to zee ze future, but I can interpret the zignz jzown in eajz card."
*GM post should be the first section, everyone else should be second section.
"Oh? You can read fortunes?"
taking a seat nearby, i peer over to catch a few glimpses of cards.
"Well i'd certainly not mind seeing how i'll fare here, I've heard these cards can be quite accurate."
"They hate fire? Well, that certainly works for me. Thanks for the tip, Violet."
He looks over the cylinder she's carrying with curiosity, before humming a little in thought "…I can't imagine what it'd be used for. Maybe some sort of strange key, or container?" he offers, before taking note of the inn's name "Got it. Thanks for your help, Friend.">>690796
"Didn't like the last tarot reading I got, but… sure, why not? We've hit rock-bottom, so we only have one way to go." he says, before smiling
Well, she said it was okay, so I'm sure it's fine. When we get to the town I scope it out, assessing the different shops, buildings, and ponies I see around the place. Hopefully they really aren't as bad as they are in my imagination.>>690796
My ear twitches and I drop to my knees, locking your eyes with a fierce, expectant gaze.
Hermodur stares at Violet with horrified, downtrodden eyes. "I… My beloved… I may never see her again?">>690796
Hermodur sits down next to Zunden and folds his arms, a brooding expression on his face.
"Time works… differently? That's certainly interesting. I'm sorry about your beloved, Hermodur… I can't say I stand to lose much, but the loss is a shame to hear all the same."
You claim the gem for now. It might be worth something to a dark practitioner, or a scholar of magic. You notice that it is oddly wet to the touch, as if it had been drenched in water.>>690799
"That's what I was thinking as well. Although, it doesn't seem to be solid. Maybe it's part of a set?" She shrugs. "Might never know. All I know is it's probably worth quite a bit.">>690800
You take a look around at the denizens of Ironbrook. For the most part, they look like you'd expect prisoners living in a self-made shanty town to look. They are mostly draped in dirty clothes, many of them hiding behind cowls or masks. They seem to suspect that you and your party are new arrivals, sneering as they shuffle by on their business. Other passers-by look more respectable, or as respectable as one can look in the Echoes. They are sometimes dressed in armor, or wearing foreign garbs suited for long distance journeys. On more than one occasion you see entire groups of travelers setting off with wagons in tow, off on some great adventure. Overall, while this is undoubtedly a hard place full of hard folk, it could be a lot worse.>>690801
Violet stops in her tracks, looking remorseful. You sense that she knows how you must feel right now. "…I'm sorry. I really am. But banishment is a life sentence. And there's no way out. That's the way it's always been, and always will be. It's… not an easy pill to swallow, but none of us are ever going back. This is what life is now. I…" She trails off and just sighs before continuing on her path, lost in thought.
"Very well very well, one at a time pleaze."
Zunden says, turning to the pegasus who spoke up first,
"I will begin wiz you, Zilver Zong. Let uz zee your pazt, prezent, and fujzure, and how we can uze what we learn to plan ahead."
Zuden pulls three cards and places them in a row in front of Silver,
"Firzt, ze pazt. What haz happened to get you to zis point."
She flips over the first card, which shows a lizard much like herself holding a scale in one hand and sword in the other. The card is upside down.
"Ah, it iz Juztize upturned. An upzide down card meanz it'z original meaning is reverzed, in thiz caze the oppozite of what is Juzt. Thiz zymbolizez Dizhonezty, Unfairnezz, and Unaccountability. Perhapz it referz to to unfair act of ze politizian zat framed you. Maybe you have been dizhonezt in ze pazt, and it haz lead to zis fate. Eizer way, Juztize haz turned a blind eye, and zomezing zat would normally have been met with retribuzion and punizjment haz gone unnotized."
She looks up, smiling, "But zat iz in the pazt, we muzt learn from it, but not dwell on it. Let uz zee ze prezent." She flips over the next card, revealing a dragon staring down at two imprisoned lizards, one male and one female.
"Ze Devil. Perhapz you are feeling inzecure about ze current zituation. It reprezentz ze inzecuritiez that hold uz back, our obzezzionz, and our fearz. You may feel chained down or bound, but know zey are not phyzical chainz."
She looks to the last card, winking, "And finally, ze future. What iz to come of Zilver Zong in ze end."
She flips the last card, revealing a lizard wearing a crown and hold a scepter, also upside down.
"Very auzpicouz, zree Major Arcana. Zis iz not very common. Ze Emperor reverzed. It Zymbolizez Tyranny, Rigidity, and Coldnezz. Zomeone will have much power in your future, but alzo uze too much of it. Perhapz zomeone will have a firm grazp on you, or perhapz you will gain great power and fail to uze it with reztraint. I cannot zay, zese are for your interpretation. Do wiz it what you will.">>690803>>690799>>690801>>690800
"We need not zit down, I can do ziz while we explore the town. Come, let uz zee ze zhopz."
Zunden getz up, carrying her cards with her as she Silver's back into the deck.
"Hrm… well, I'd hold on to it, at least for a bit. It'd be a shame to sell it off and find the other pieces, you know?" he suggests, before looking at the set of cards>>690804
"Oooh. Color me interested, then. Could you do mine next?"
*as she shuffles Silver's cards>>690805
"Yez, one moment pleaze."
I glance over my shoulder, only half paying attention through the excitement of having my fortune read. "I don't see what the big deal is," I say. "We weren't executed. We were banished. And banished to a place that it actually doesn't seem incredibly hard to survive in. I mean look, they're doing well enough to practically have a little village going here. That has to count for something." As gross and mean as some of these ponies look, that is. I guess I'm probably not making any new friends anytime soon. I lift my finger and absently pet one of my rats. Not like it'll be that much different.
"I have nothing to live for…" he mourns dramatically. All of his previous vigor is gone.>>690804
"We can go wherever you want," Hermodur stew sadly. "It matters not to me."
"It doesn't matter if I do not have My Goddess to serve."
I chuckle. "Sounds like someone put all their emotional eggs into one basket." I freeze, just now realizing that I'm taunting someone that can probably kill me by breathing on me. I quickly change the subject.
"A-anyway, I'm starving! Where's a good place to find food around here? And do you guys still use normal currency?"
"Oh my, what an odd reading.." I reply, shuffling around nervously.
"Dishonesty.. Tyranny.. Obsession.."
"Quite a lot to take in.">>690803
"Our best bet would be to check the inn, securing a place for the night is a priority."
"Though we still might need some way to pay
for it.." i trail off, making my way towards the inn.
"I have packed food, but I would like to zample the cuizine. I agree."
Zunden says, shuffling.
Come on now, Hermodur. Perhaps, if we can find a way out, you would return to the time you were banished. We an't just give up now."
My floppy ears fold back, and I try my best not to look too disappointed that I'm probably going last.
As you do your reading, you get odd looks from passers-by, who seem to think you're putting on a show for the crowd. Looking around, you find that a small audience of onlookers has gathered, watching your performance curiously.>>690807
The rat is grateful for the petting. You are lucky that the powers that be let you keep them, at least.>>690804>>690805>>690807>>690808
The shops, mostly consisting of small stalls here and there tended by surly-looking ponies or saurians, sell traveling supplies: mostly preserved food and water, but also the following:>camping equipment>torches>fire-starting kits>oil lamps>rope>medicinal herbs for light injuries>shovels>saddle bags and pouches>spyglasses>hunting knives>maps of the surrounding area
Most of these are listed as relatively inexpensive, with a few exceptions. However, you soon realize that even between the five of you, you are completely penniless at the moment. If you wish to acquire any of the above, you will probably have to trade or sell something of your own for them.>>690811
You investigate the inn. It is rather empty this time of day, although there are a few patrons here and there. They seem to sell both food and drink here, as well as lodging. However, judging from the rather bleak condition of the place, you can't expect anything too spectacular.The innkeeper looks as grim as his establishment, a stocky, hairless Felid with eyes like lamps. He looks up at you and nods in silent greeting, then goes back to his fruitless task of cleaning the gunk off of the counter.
On the menu are such prime delicacies as Mirodan stew, gutter crab fondue, black pudding, sawgill salad, and filet of Tyrux. You also notice a notice board at the back of the room, which may be able to point you and your new allies towards other adventures - assuming they turn down Violet's offer of traveling to the Sands.
"What choice had I?" Hermodur asks dramatically, as if you could know. "When faced with such resplendence, there is only but one way forward. Now, I am in a box with no opening.">>690813
"You have no reason to think that," Hermodur pouts.>>690815
"Oh, how I long for the days when everyone was provided for me by My Goddess…" Hermodur laments as he realizes he can buy nothing.
"Now zen, Rabi. You and the cat come from the zame landz az I onze came from. Let uz zee if your fate iz az warm az ze zandz were, or perhapz hot like ze zun."
She pulls three cards to the top of the deck, fanning them out before pocketing the rest of the deck momentarily, "Again, firzt we will look at what brought you to zis point: Ze Pazt."
The first card she reveals shows a strange circular rune in the sky, a dragon sitting on the top and a robed saurian upside down on the bottom.
"Aha, it iz hard to notize it iz upzide down, but zis is a reverzed Wheel of Fortune. Your pazt iz one where you had little control, much like a run away wheel. It zeemz like luck waz not on your zide, even if you depended on it." She smiles again, "Like I zaid to Zilver, zis is the pazt, it only reflectz on your prezent az a point of learning. Let uz zee the Prezent."
She reveals the second card she has fanned out, a robed saurian holding a carved rod in the sky much like Zunden in the previous fight. A magical rune, sword, staff, and cup sits on a table next to him.
"Ah, more pozitive. Zis iz the Magizian. He reprezentz pure willpower, dezire, and the manifeztation of zuch dezirez. You are at a point where you can take all zat iz around you and uze it to achieve your goalz. In the grand zcheme, it zhowz zat the greater workingz of the world are much like zat of our every day life. Az above, zo below."
She looks to the saddle arabian before continuing, tapping the last card, "Now zen, let uz hope ze future is az bright az your prezent."
The final card is also upright, showing a female saurian bathing in an oasis. The sky is lit by the light of a large star, surrounded by smaller stars.
"Good, it iz az I hoped, bright. Like Zilver, you have alzo a ztrange and powerful fate, one zat is rare and powerful. Zis is ze Ztar, it reprezents Hope, Faiz, and Rejuvenation. Hope iz truzting in oneself, and in the univerze that zurroundz uz. Zis card iz a good zign, but what you make of it iz up to you. It could mean ze pozzibility of rebirth, or juzt zat the world haz not forzaken you yet.">>690815
"Hm, we zeem not to have anyzing to pay for zeez goodz. I do not wizh to loze my tarot deck, zo we may need to acquire zome currenzy by doing zome tazk or quezt."
*everything, not everyone
Picking my way up to the counter, i clear my throat before addressing the innkeeper.
"Ah, yes, hello there. I was just checking to see if you had any rooms available for a party of five?"
I eye the menu, and even with some of the unappetizing names my stomach grumbles. I might take that horse up on his offer. "So, uh," I say to anyone who's actually listening. "You don't think the only 'work' around here is exploring stuff, do you? Because I'm not sure my old line of work will help me out here."
Looking towards the diamond dog, Zunden emits a bassy chuckle, shuffling her deck again.
"I apologize for making you wait, Norvegiucuz. We will reflect on your pazt, prezent, and future next."
I grin, and short, stubby tail involuntarily swishes through the air behind me. I've never really had money to waste on fortune telling, but I've always thought it sounded really fun. After a second I regain my composure and give a quick nod.
"I do wish you all would stop associating me with that abysmal desert," Hermodur broods.
"I don't, no. But, we have no real way to tell, do we?" he offers, before turning back to Zunden>>690817
"Well… this all seems pretty good. The past couldn't be more accurate, and… the present, and the future are rather comforting." he says, chuckling a little "I never thought cards'd be able to lift the spirits like that. Thanks, Zunden.">>690815
"Hrm… the maps, and the little knives both seem good.But, I'll need to swing by when I've got something worth trading." he says, before ducking off to follow after Silver Song>>690819
"If it'd help, we could probably share rooms to cut down on the space." he adds, looking hopefully at the innkeeper
"No gods down here, friend," says one of the shopkeepers, a short but muscular diamond dog with heterochromia. "Now you buying something or what? We trade around these parts too, so if you've got something worth giving up you might just convince me to do the same." He doesn't elaborate, but the implication is clear as he glances at your hammer greedily.>>690819
He stops and stares at you wearily for a moment, seemingly taking a while to process what you said before pulling a scroll out from under the counter. He alternates between eyeing you and eyeing the scroll. "Got two rooms available," he grunts. "Fit for three each. 20 bits a head. Before you ask, we don't trade." He holds out his paw, clearly expecting payment.>>690820
The innkeeper overhears you and points at the billboard. "If you're looking for things to do, there's plenty to choose from over there," he says simply. "Or you can go get lost in the wilderness and come sell what you find." He doesn't seem to have noticed your rats yet, which is probably for the best. You doubt he'd take kindly to such creatures in his establishment, grubby as it may be.>>690824
You join Silver and Norvegicus inside the inn. It's not much to look at, and could definitely use a good spring cleaning, but it looks serviceable enough. It has a certain quaint charm to it.
Zunden feels pangs in her heart as she sees her home burning in her mind, the inn's rustic feel making her a bit emotional.
"Ah, ze pazt is ze pazt…"
Zunden mumbles to herself, reading the billboard as best she can.
I shrug and walk over to the billboard. Can't really see there being anything I'd be fit for, but it couldn't hurt to check.
"Thus, it is hopeless.">>690825
"I have naught to offer but my services," Hermodur says half-heartedly. "Is there anywhere one such as myself might find work?"
"Oh.. Well, you see, we're new arrivals to this land and the guards left us with nary a bit between us."
"But perhaps if the oh-so-gracious
inkeeper could spare but a single room
for just the night, we could promise to cover it as soon as we can!" i plead, smiling and batting my lashes at the gruff inkeep.
[1d10+2] persuasionRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Rabi goes to say a little more, but decides… Silver Song seems pretty well adjusted to this kind of stuff, so he'll keep quiet.
Zunden fans another three cards after shuffling nodding back to Norvegicus,
"Now zen, tough and ztrong Norvegicuz," Zunden winks, "What doez ze cardz have to zay about a dog like you. Your pazt is firzt."
Zuden pulls forth the first card, an aged saurian with faded scales holding up a lantern in a grey background, a staff planted on the ground in his other claw. This card is also upside down.
"Fitting, zat our paztz are reverzed. I do not believe we would have gotten to zis banizjment wiz zhrough good alone, no? Ziz iz ze Hermit. Upzidedown like zis, it reprezentz a lonelinezz bred from izolation. You zeem to be friendly with your ratz, zo I do not believe you were ever truely lonely, but perhapz along ze way you became dizconnected wiz ze ozherz that inhabit our world. What can you do to bring what you learned in your zolitude outward? Ze cardz will help tell uz. Let uz next zee your prezent."
The next card revealed is right-side up, showing a saurian with a tooth grin walking out into the desert, a path faded by the sand infront of him. He holds a sack over his shoulder, and has a small gecko following him.
"Ah, ze beginning of ze journey, az reprezented by The Fool. It iz not bad to be a Fool, it only meanz we do not know what dangerz lie ahead of uz in our travelz. Your zoul iz zat of a free zpirit, one of innozenze. Now zat we know zat your journey beginz anew, what doez the future hold?"
Zunden flips the final card, revealing a card that has the same saurian as the previous picture, in the sky draped in a silk cloth holding two rods. In the corners of the card there lie a cup, a sword, a magical rune, and a carved rod.
Zunden's natural grin turns to that of a smile, letting out a belly laugh as she rubs the shoulder of the dog that's smaller than her. Patting him on the shoulder, she wipes an eye, beaming at the dog,
"Ze lazt few drawingz have been auzpiciouz, but yourz zhowz the mozt promize of zem yet. Zis is ze World, ze complezion of the journey, and a harmony between you and the rezt of the univerze. Ze World paired wiz ze Fool iz quite exciting az it'z both ze beginning and ze end. Let uz hope whatever your journey iz, you reach ze end zafely and fulfill whatever your fate iz."
"Try the inn," the dog suggests. "There's always miscellaneous jobs posted there. Good luck, chum.">>690829
The innkeeper looks a bit taken aback, spacing out for a moment as he weighs his options. "….Fine." He passes you a single comically oversized key from a drawer. "Room 4, upstairs. I want the money back within the fortnight. Or else.">>690826>>690827
The billboard has a list of tasks and advertisements placed by both Ironbrook residents and outsiders. Most of them are fairly innocuous, such as someone trying to sell some treasure they found, or a local having some trouble with pests in their basement. A few, however, look more promising:
The first one that grabs your attention is penned by Violet Moon herself. She is looking for a group of able wanderers to accompany her on a treasure hunt in the Shifting Sands. She promises to reward all parties with an equal share. Details on the exact nature of the expedition are scarce.
Another is from a local called Erskine Carrow. Apparently a disgraced member of a noble family in the Dominion, Erskine seems to have been robbed during the night. While the thieves did not take much of value, they did take an important heirloom of House Carrow: a crest with his family emblem on it. He has been able to track the thieves to a bandit den in the nearby forest, and would be extremely grateful to anyone who could retrieve his family crest. Dispensing justice to the bandits is not required.
The third is from a local farmer named Palace Posy. She writes that her chickens have been periodically slaughtered by some unknown force for almost a year now. She doesn't know what's causing it, and wants some worthy adventurers to hunt down whatever beast is preying on her livestock.
Zunden turns her head at the mention of hopelessness, smiling back to the cat,
"Pleaze, hopelezznezz iz zitting in a zell waiting for ze gallowz. We have another chanze at redemption, and I've heard rumorz from my old patronz zat zere are wayz out of here az well. Perhapz I could find your hope in your card reading. I will do yourz next.">>690832
"Ooh, look at ziz one about ze farmer. He may not have much to pay wiz, but it iz guaranteed he will have food.
(posted too early)
-perhapz we could help him? What do you four zink?"
"Good work, Silver Song. I suppose I should've expected someone in your line of work to have a silver tongue." he says, grinning a little "Though… we ought to look for work, soon., I'd hate to start getting kicked out of places here, so soon."
My tail starts wagging again, but even though I'm obviously happy with what I got, I try to keep up the act. "Innocence?" I ask. "I don't know about all that. I'm a monster!" Yeah. This is getting weird. Maybe I'll drop it soon. "Still," I say, patting your hand. "Thank you." Knowing that I'm not going to be completely useless has a nice reassuring effect. >>690832
I immediately stop reading the billboard as I glance over locals with pest problems. I rub my hands together before pulling out my pencil and notepad and take note of locations and names. I crack my journal open, hook one of my claws into a place where the pages seem separated, and flick it open. Inside, like little bookmarks, are three small business cards. And here I was thinking my line of work wouldn't be useful here.
Taking the key, i slip it into my vest, beaming at the rough looking Felid.
"Oh, thank you, darling! We'll be sure to pay in full, don't you worry~!">>690835
"Well of course, a mare of nobility should always be one to charm, how else would business be done otherwise?" i reply, grinning smugly.
"Though you've got a point, it'd be best to check that board for a job."
Hermodur hobbles sadly and silently to the inn to look at the bulletin board.>>690831>>690833
As Hermodur listens to Zunden do her fortunes, he feels hope. Not necessarily for his future, but for something else.
"Do my fortune," he says cautiously.
Rabi offers a chuckle in response to her smug grin, and scratches his neck as he looks over the board "Hrm… well, this one sounds pretty good. Some noble from the Dominion's lost a family crest. Sounds like an easy enough job; sneak in, grab it, sneak out?"
"Hmm.. Miss Violet has been nice enough, perhaps we should help her? We should
be back in time to pay for the room, barring some grand adventure, of course."
"Fair point, though sneaking around rarely is successful, unless you're light on your hooves."
"Hrm… the loud approach might be easier in the long run, yeah.">>690840
"That's pretty fair, too. She deserves something in repayment for all this… besides, it's not like we need the money tomorrow…" he says, nodding a little
The pest problem one isn't so much rats as it is insects, apparently. The owner, a local lumberjack called Humboldt, describes a swarm of giant cockroaches digging a hole through the foundations and invading his home. He promises a handsome reward for anyone who's able to get rid of them, as it's gotten to the point where he's had to board up the entire basement to stop them from spreading.>>690837
The innkeeper just grunts in response and goes back to wiping the counter. Spotting a piece of leftover food encrusted on the wooden surface, he picks it off with his claw, tastes it, then spits it into a bin.>>690838
You entire the quiet little inn and rejoin the rest of your companions. See >>690832
for a list of available jobs.>>690833>>690835>>690836>>690837>>690838>>690840
As you debate over which job to take, Violet saunters in, without the monolithic pillar she was carrying. She is accompanied by a griffon who is clad in heavy armor from head to toe. Violet exchanges some words, first with the grifon and then with the innkeeper, then the griffon leaves the inn and she buys herself a tankard of ale. "Given any thought to my proposal, friends?" she asks curiously, sauntering over to you. "If not, there's plenty of others passing through that'll jump at the opportunity." She shrugs and takes a swig from the tankard, then wrinkles her snout in disgust. "Gross."
"Ziz zeemz fair, we cannot eat richez but we can exzhange zem for food. Do we help Moon-Charmed?"
"We were just considering it as a group, Violet. It seems to me, at least, that we were planning on- hold on." he responds, before looking her back over in curiosity "What happened to the pillar? Offloaded it somewhere safe?"
I snap my notepad shut and tuck it back into my topcoat, shifting uncomfortably. "Actually," I say. "I had another job in mind. I'll probably attend to that instead. Better suits my… Well, my 'skillset'."
"What is this expedition?" Hermodur asks Violet, pointing to the board.
"How quick iz ziz job, perhapz we could finiz it before we leave?"
"Hmm? What is it, then?"
I open and close my mouth a few times, before finally deciding to answer truthfully. "W-well," I stammer. "It's, uh… 'pest control', actually."
"Why yes, we were just looking at your post on the board here!"
"I must ask, how long would we be gone for? I've promised a fee to the innkeeper you see, and i've only a fortnight to repay him."
"Oh.. Pest control, is it?"
"Well, i suppose that's one way to earn our room.." i reply, appalled.
"Pest Control? Well, huh. That seems up your alley, then." he says, snickering a little bit "Didn't expect to get this much work."
So she took me literally then. Alright, well, that means I don't have to waffle around it. Makes it a little easier. "I'm not actually sure how long it'll take. It said-" My face contorts into a disgusted grimace. "Cockroaches. That can go either way. Either it could take me ten minutes, or it could take me the rest of the day. I don't have any of my poison or anything, and my trap-" I lift up my box trap to point it out. "Is more of a rodent thing, so I'd have to go at it the old fashioned way. Still, cockroaches are easily the pest I've handled most in my years as pest control, so I at least have a lot of experience with them."
I drop my gaze to the ground. "Do did you, uh-" I clear my throat. "Did you know that I wasn't actually a, you know, assassin from the beginning then?"
I let out a half-hearted chuckle and rub the back of my neck. "Yeah," I say. "I guess that would give it away. Anyway, I'd have to check it out. I could always come back and work on it later, but depending on how long he's had the infestation it's only going to get worse with time."
"You're NOT an assassin?" Hermodur raises an eyebrow. "I just assumed that the whole rat thing was a part of how you killed people. Usually an assassin would just be captured or executed. But, to be sent here? It would certainly have to be a demented assassin indeed. Such as one who kills violently using vermin."
"Or is convincing us that you aren't an assassin a part of your assassin ruse?"
Zuden spreads out three cardz,
"Az you wizj. Formalitiez azide, let uz begin. Your pazt."
She flips the first card, looking at the cat, revealing an old lizard draped in multiple layers of clothing. To each of her sides rests a pilar, one black and one white, with a silver eye printed on the black, and a golden one on the white. The card is upside down,
"Az expected, an inverted card. Let it be known the cardz are not normally zo eazy to attribute to ze livez of ozerz. It zeemz ziz group haz a ztrong tie to fate. But you want your fortune, not ze groupz. Ziz iz ze card known az ze High Prieztezz. Again her meaning iz reverzed. Zhe callz for you to what your inner zelf tellz you. There waz a time in which you heard her, but along the twistz and turnz of life, her voize waz zilenced. Thiz may mean you lack a zenter, or maybe reprezzed feelingz. What partz of your unconzious are you denying? Iz it trying to zay zomething?"
She smiles, "Ze pazt is behind uz, we reflect upon it, but we cannot live in it. We-" she taps the next card, "live in the prezent."
The next card revealed has a similarly robbed saurian, this time facing the correct way and counseling two other saurians at his feet. He holds a rod depicting a religious symbol, and wears an ornate headpiece.
"I have a full deck of cardz, but it zeemz I can only reveal Major Arcana amongzt ziz party. Following ze prieztez, it makez zenze that the Hierophant is next. He reprezentz tradizion, morality, conformity, and ezhicz. What iz tried and true is valued, and it may not be time to ztray from tradizion juzt yet. Ziz can also reprezent a perzuit of knowledge, or perhapz a zpiritual guide."
Zunden looks at the last card and hesitates, looking back up at Hermodur, "finally, we have ze future. Doez it follow ze trend of ze firzt two cardz?"
The final card is flipped, revealing a the skeleton of a saurian blowing into a trumpet, skeletal wings outstretched over a graveyard in a desert. Claws reach out from the grave, reaching to the skeleton.
"Hmm, neizer good nor bad. Anozher zat you will have to interpret for yourzelf. Ziz is Judgement, no fancy ze Judgement or anyzing, juzt Judgement. Ziz iz the cuzp of a new day, the moment before being reborn. It zuggeztz inner voice, what you may have lacked in ze pazt. It is alzo a card of reflection and reckoning, coming to an honezt evaluation before you awaken. What will you have to reflect in ze future, what deedz do you have to look back on?"
She lets the words linger for a moment, before shuffling them back into her deck, placing the deck on her belt.
"Zat iz for you to learn, zhink on ziz. If you do not like ze cardz drawn, remember they are only paper. Zey only have meaning if you put meaning into zem."
She suppresses a chuckle. "You can just call me Violet," she says politely.>>690845
"I left it with the wizard who runs the shop over there, she explains, gesturing towards the rook-shaped building she entered earlier. "He says he wants to study it a while, so I'm hoping he can give me some answers after the expedition. He gave me this as collateral too." She gestures at a strange ornament dangling off one of her saddlebags, a circular pendant made of wood with a star-like pattern in the middle. Several beads and feathers dangle off of it. "It protects against dark magic," she explains. "Should help keep Prowlers away, or at least slow them down.">>690847
She takes a seat, making herself comfortable. "So a while back, I was exploring this old mausoleum in the Barrens west of here, and I came across a message carved on the sarcophagus." She digs around for a bit before taking out what you assume is her journal. It's unusually thick and worn, suggesting she's had it for a very long time. "'Deep within the Shifting Sands rest six great slabs of carven stone. If thou art worthy, thou shalt pierce the heart of the heart, where within thou shalt find Lucan's last gift.'" She closes the journal. "Not much to go on, but to me at least the meaning is clear. We find the six "trunks" at the center of the desert, dig there, and if we'll worthy we'll find something quite special. As for who Lucan is, he's the one who was entombed where I found the message. Seemed to be a King of Abyssinia at some point. No idea how he ended up in the Echoes, but there you go."
"Of course, that's not the only thing to find in the Sands. The whole place is littered with ruins, so there's bound to be something worth st- er, claiming in that place. Always wanted to visit it and see what there is.">>690851
"Hard to say. It'll take us five days to get to the Sands, and five days back, and who knows how long we'll be searching." She thinks for a moment. "Tell you what. I like you. You seem like a good sort. I'll just cover your debt this time. But don't expect it to happen again."
Before you can protest, she walks over and talks to the innkeeper, plonking a bag of bits on the counter. She rejoins your group with a satisfied smile on her face. "I know it's hard getting by in these parts. We all could use a helping hoof.">>690846>>690848>>690849
"Huh?" Her ears prick up as she listens to what Norvegicus has to say. "…Well, I suppose if you'd rather do this, I can put off the expedition for a time. It's not like anyone else knows the details. The last thing I want is some hotshot beating me to the punch on this lead. The only reason I'm telling you about it now is because you don't have the supplies to go yourselves."
I do my best to twist my lips into what I feel like is a demented smile, but really I just look constipated. "I said I didn't have any of my 'poisons' with me. I'll let you decide on that.">>690860
I defensively raise my hands in front of me. "I mean I don't want to hold you up or anything. I'd planned on doing it alone in the first place."
Hermodur listens to Zunden speak with a flat and stern expression. His face barely moves. His arms remain crossed as he listens stoically.
Even after she is done speaking, he continues to stare silently at the cards. He contemplates them for minutes before he finally speaks.
"Why is the priestess inverted?" he asks, pointing to the card. "What would it have meant if it weren't?"
"A good queztion, you are zmarter zan ze rezt. Knowing both zidez of ze card is important. Perhapz I could teach you more about ze deck still?"
Zunden raises a scaley eyebrow, before lowering it and chuckling,
"Anywayz, the Prieztezz when her voize is not zilenzed iz one that callz for intuition and your inner voize, much like Judgement. To direct your will, you muzt alzo be able to underztand the world wizin you. The High Prieztezz iz the guardian of the unconziouz, and beckonz the traveler: zat being you. It iz a card of myztery and potential, yet withdrawn from involvement."
She holds the card between two fingers, offering it to Hermodur incase he wanted to inspect it.
"Hmmph," Hermodur smirks. "A priestess withdrawn from involvement. Fitting, then, that it should be inverted for me."
"You…" Hermodur says slowly and cautiously. "I know your kind. They are observant and prey on ignorance. These things could all be a creation of some twisted game you're playing. I don't… want to believe any of this… You could have surmised all of this just by watching me!"
Zunden's bassy laugh shakes her form again, smiling at the felid,
"Zen believe zey are juzt cardz. Ze meaning of ze tarot are fluid, it iz up to ze rezipient of ze reading to ultimately interpret ze cardz. If you believe they are juzt piezez of paper, zen do zo. Truzt me…"
she pauses, musing,
"well you don't have to do zat eizher… But I only offered a chaze and zeeing zhingz in a new light. I zee you take ze Hierophant to heart, whethzer you believe in ze card or not."
Zunden shuffles the Priestess back into the deck, shrugging.
"Ze only twizted game I play iz life. We are all playerz, I'm afraid."
*offered a chanze
Hermodur continues to stare at Zunden as if he is contemplating life in general. After a long pause, he finally says.
"I don't know if you are mystic or not. You are certainly no goddess. Yet, you are wise. And, I find myself drawn to that."
He pauses for a moment longer as if to reconfirm what he is going to say. "I wish to follow you. To serve you. To protect you. I… have no direction. And, you provide that with your cards. Would you allow me this?"
"…Well, that's the long and short of it, as I was telling your friend here," Violet explains to the group at large. "The inscription I found in the Barrens catacombs leads me to believe we'll find six stone slabs at the center of the Shifting Sands, and at the very center is… a gift? Treasure of some sort? The wording's unclear. In any case, if you want to do other things before leaving that's fine by me. Still need some time to prepare for the journey. I've never been to the Sands, but from what I've heard of the place, calling it a desert would be like calling a lake a puddle. If only I still had a Sanctuary like in the old days…" She drifts off, mulling over the situation for a while and taking another swig of bad ale.
"I would like to go to a dezert again, feel ze zand beneazh my toez. Ztill, I agree wiz ze dog, let uz make some coin firzt.">>690937
"Yez, you gain wizdom zhrough exzperienzing eventz. If you only live zhrough zomeone, zhere is notzing to gain but age."
She crosses her arms, clearly bemused by the request,
"I will not ztop you from following me, I like companionzhip. I plan to continue to reading ze tarot, zo zat too won't change. Zo in ze end, eh."
Zunden shrugs again,
"Do what you will. Juzt remember, I do not provide anzwerz. I juzt azk queztionz. You will alwayz be your own mazter, whezher or not you chooze to believe it."
"Huh. Well, sounds good enough for me. Any clue what's on the slabs, or did the inscriptions not give that much?"
"And, for what it's worth, I'm somewhat accustomed tpo the deserts, so we should have a somewhat easier time."
"Hmm.. given the length of our journey into these 'shifting sands' it would be wiser to take a few of these other jobs near here, if only to buy supplies."
"Violet has already paid for our room and i'd hate to impose on her for supplies.."
"Preparation is probably wise," Hermodur nods.>>690939
"You don't need to provide something on purpose in order to provide it."
I kind of thought that was the idea to begin with. I'm not even entirely sure I want to go on the expedition at all. It seems a little dangerous. Even if I do, it would definitely be better to get some more supplies together.
"Well, it looks like we're all in agreement, then, so what are we still just standing around talking for?"
"True, be careful azzuming meaning where zere iz none zhough."
Zunden chuckles to herself again,
"I truzt whatever I zay won't cauze too much harm zhough."
I let out a defeated sigh, pull my notepad back out to flip to the location of the guy with the infestation, and walk out of the inn, silently hoping it'll be easy to find.
"My, you seem rather eager to throw yourself into work!"
"Given our banishment here we've little cause for hurry, not like we've anypony waiting for us, after all.">>690938
looking at the board again, i pick the listing from Carrow off it's pin, checking for directions.
"Recovering a crest is simple enough, and it would
be refreshing to speak with another pony of nobility…"
"I would curb your enthusiasm," Hermodur advises. "What is a 'noble' pony in this world?">>690944
"There is meaning in what you choose."
"Sure. Why don't we go ahead and grab the crest, then? Seems easy enough to me."
"Now you are juzt trying to zound zmart."
"There's more to nobility than simply land and title, Hermodur. Upbringing and training are as important as the status itself!"
"And that sort of upbringing persists even through what rough times we've been subjected to."
"Understandable," Violet smiles. "It's best to have some coin on you at least, for traveling expenses. Most folks in the Echoes aren't exactly charitable. On the other hoof, having too much can attract unwanted attention. It's a good idea to always keep your money out of sight, so you don't become a target for thieves and bandits.">>690940
She shakes her head. "The only lead I have is that the inscription was in the tomb of a former King of Abyssinia. Apart from that, you know as much as I do. Still, there's ruins everywhere in the Sands, from what I've heard. Even if it amounts to nothing, there's bound to be something worth scrounging for out there.">>690941
"Oh, that's not a problem," she says dismissively. "If we're going to be adventuring partners, then we should be looking out for one another, right? I'll do my part to get whatever we need for the trip, and I'll trust you'll do the same.">>690943
"It's your choice, friend," she says coolly. "I won't force you to come. If adventuring isn't the life for you, maybe settling down in one of these settlements would be a good idea. Sounds awfully boring if you ask me, but I won't judge.">>690946
The note directs you towards a house nearby. You can see it through the window. It is larger and more ostentatious than the surrounding buildings, clearly built in the fashion of a noble manor, or as close as one can get to a manor with the limited materials available. It is in dire need of repairs, from the looks of it.>>690945
You follow the instructions on the note to the edge of town, arriving at the house detailed to belong to the lumberjack Humboldt. It is a small, cozy-looking cottage on the other side of the river, looking over Ironbrook from its post near the edge of the forest. As you knock on the door, you are answered by who you assume is Humboldt, a stout, troubled-looking minotaur with a shaggy beard that almost forms a sort of lion mane on him. He looks you up and down. "Don' get visiters often," he grunts. "'Ere aboot the roach problem I'd wager?"
"Let's just say I speak from experience," Hermodur says dodgily.
Before walking up to the cottage I tuck all four of my rats into the trap, quietly whispering for them to be good. After slipping one of my business cards out of my pocketbook, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and adjust my suit. After tucking my pocketbook back into my suit, I approach the door with a broad smile.
"Good evening sir," I say, holding out my business card. A small, eggshell card with jet black type, it has the silhouette of a rat and the silhouette of a crushed cockroach on either side of "Ratman Pest Control". "Norvegicus 'the Ratman' Black. You'd win that wager in a heartbeat, sir, in a heartbeat. And you're in luck. Cockroaches just happen to be my second specialty."
"But whoze experiencze?">>690951>>690953
Zunden follows the dog, interested in what the pets of this world look like.
"Hrm. In that case, I guess we should expect something related to Abyssinia, then. Any kinds of creatures out there we should no about, or the same we saw earlier?" he asks
"My point being that I am not sure what kind of pony would be CONSIDERED noble in these parts.">>690954
Hermodur laughs. "Now, YOU'RE the one just trying to sound smart.">>690953>>690954
Hermodur follows Zunden and Norvegicus to the edge of town. He folds his arms and remains silent upon being greeted by the pony.
"My, i hadn't expect the manor to be so close!"
pocketing the note, i trot back through the inn's door, waving goodbye to the innkeep with a wing, and head towards the sizable building.
"Off we go, then. I don't recall this 'carrow' fellow from my time in the capital, but i'm certain he must be quite the gentlecolt."
"care to join me, Rabi? It seems we've already lost track of 'Mr. Black'."
"Hrm… seems we have. Well, I'd be happy to, Silver." he says, getting up and stretching out, before moving to her side and smiling
Humboldt looks impressed at your professional air, taking your business card and inspecting it before tucking it into one of his pockets. "…Right then, Mr Black." He stands aside to let you in. >>690954>>690957
You follow behind Norvegicus and arrive at Humboldt's humble house. The owner blinks in surprise as you do so. Unlike your canine ally, neither of you look like exterminators at all. "…Guessin' yer with Mr. Black 'ere?" he asks, looking a little wary of you. He doesn't seem to expect an answer, and lets you in anyway.>>690953>>690954>>690957
The interior of the cottage is quite comfortable, a small little wooden house with both an upstairs and a downstairs area. The latter's door is barred shut with wooden planks. "I 'ave ter warn ye, these aren't yer normal roaches. They're bigguns. Worse than the ones back 'ome." He stretches his hands out for emphasis. "Don' know if ye can even call these buggers roaches. Good thing yer 'ere now. They've been getting feisty, tryin' ter knock down the door." As if on cue, you hear an ominous thump come from the basement, and the barred door rattles a bit.
"Tell ye what," Humboldt says. "Ye look like the travelin' type. If ye can get the beasties oot soon as possible, I'll add this ter the payment." He opens a nearby trunk and pulls out a tightly furled scroll. "'Tis a map of the surroundin' lands o' this place. Used ter be an adventurer meself, boot I've settled down since. Don' need 'em any longer."
"If there be nothin' else ye need to know, I'll open the door fer ye. Hope ye can get rid of 'em. They're nasty pieces of work.">>690956
"Apart from the ubiquitous Prowlers, we'll probably have other monsters to deal with. The insectoid Terreocti live in arid regions of the Echoes, and they're not easy to deal with, let me tell you. Apart from that, I couldn't say for sure what dangers we'll face. You look like you can take care of yourself though, so I imagine it won't be anything we can't handle as a team." She smiles encouragingly and drinks again.>>690956>>690958
"Right then. I've got some other errands to run in the meantime. I'll meet you back here whenever you're ready to leave. Good luck!"
You leave for the dilapidated manor, thumping on the large wooden door with a rusted door knocker. After a minute, a fancy-looking diamond dog answers the door. He is tall and lanky, with a large mustache. He doesn't look like he's slept well in some time. "Good day," Carrow says in a deep baritone, nodding stiffly in greeting. "Can I help you with something?"
"Alright, thanks. I'm sure we can all handle it together." he says, before looking to Silver Song "In that case, should we be off? I bet we'll have some time to ask around and get supplies after, too."
Hermodur looks at the door with a confused and wary eye. He slowly and silently draws his hammer and begins to rev it.
[1d10] for sharpenRoll #1 10 = 10
straightening my dress as we approached the door, i bow in greeting.
"Good day sir! My companion and i are new arrivals to the area and noticed your posting at the inn. We're not too late to accept the task, are we?">>690962
"Of course, of course, once we see to this business about the crest i'm sure we'll have enough to buy whatever we need."
Zunden hangs around outside the door of the house, stretching her large arms and legs as she continues to bask in the sun.>Bask: Healing Bonds>>690963
"Zo Zen, if you plan to be following me, tell me about about yourzelf. What iz zat ztrange hammer anywayz. You are a zmith?"
I clear my throat and adjust my tie, a little on edge as I hear the thumping beyond the door. I know the ad said they were big, but that sounded maybe just a little bigger than I'd expected. "Right," I say. "I suggest you leave for, oh, a half hour or so? Get some air. I doubt you want to be around for this, and truth be told it might be a little dangerous."
I set my trap down and pull the flap open, coaxing my four rats out of it. I glance at Hermodur and Zunden over my shoulder, like I owe them an explanation. "Rodents treat roaches almost like candy rabbits," I say. "They like to bite the head off and crunch on their exoskeletons. Usually they'll just throw things like the legs and wings to the side, but bu then there isn't really much roach left to call an infestation." Closing it again, I shut my eyes and focus on summoning a swarm of rats inside.
I look up at Humboldt and nod.Roll #1 3 = 3
"Will they be big enough?" Hermodur asks, eying the door warily.
"Well, not the swarm I'm trying to summon. That's just meant to help slow the bugs down and act as crowd control, but I feel like these guys-" I scratch one of my four rats under the chin. "Should be just about the right size."
"We have feet, if not. I've learned to not be zqueamizh in keeping a boarding houze."
"I don't know if I'd call myself a Smith," Hermodur responds. "I know a thing or two about how to use a weapon. But, I don't really make them."
"This," he holds up his now whirring and glowing hammer. His voice is suddenly more dramatic. "Is the Mighty Mjolnir. It was bestowed upon me by my goddess," he says it almost nostalgically. "That its charm still works even separated from her so is a testament to her immense prowess. It is also proof that I am worthy to serve her. And, with this weapon, I am her most trusted and capable servant. It saddens me to think of how she is getting along without me.">>690968
"Alright…" Hermodur says dubiously.>>690969
"Feet are unnecessary when I have Mjolnir," Hermodur says proudly.
"You cannot uze your hammer to walk."
"I obviously meant for fighting!" Hermodur objects.
Your hammer roars to life, bursting into flame. Humboldt stumbles out of the way in alarm, almost falling over. "Ach! What are ye doin'!" he cries in panic.>>690964
"Hm? Oh, that affair, is it. Yes, yes, it's still available. Those blasted thieves snuck into my manor some moons ago and stole my precious crest. It means worlds to me if you can retrieve it. I'll pay well, of course. I've been asking around, doing some investigation of my own, and I have good reason to believe they're holed up in some old ruins in the woods north of here. If you follow the road past the bridge and into the woods, you should eventually find a trail leading to it. I can't say for certain how many bandits there are, but the most important part for me is getting that crest back, don't you know. It's… well, it's the only thing I have left from the other side anymore. If you can deliver justice to the ruffians even better, but please, do see to it that my crest is returned.
"Again, there's a handsome reward if you succeed. How does 150 bits sound?">>690965
You embrace the warmth of the sun, drawing newfound energy from it to enhance your spells.>>690966
You fail to summon any more rats other than the four you currently have.
"…Aye, ye don' need ter tell me twice." He looks extremely apprehensively at Hermodur. "Good huntin'." With that, he removes the wooden bars one by one then opens the door cautiously, exiting the house soon after.
A moment after he does so, a grotesque insect comes barreling towards you out of the basement with a loud buzz of its wings. It looks vaguely like a cockroach, but no cockroach you've ever seen is the size of a large cat. Its mandibles gnash as it flies straight at you and tries to take a chunk out of your arm.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Pathetic vermin, you are no match for me!" he shouts at the roach as if it is challenging him
Hermodur lifts the hammer above his head…>Hunter's Eye on the roach running at them
Then, the back end of the hammer erupts like a rocket and his hammer slams down right as the roach steps directly into the impact.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] with DC-1, take the bigger rollRoll #1 9 + 3 = 12
/ Roll #2 9 + 3 = 12
Rabi follows Silver Song out towards the Noble's house. He hums a little bit, before cocking his head to the side "Sorry, friend. I've had a bit on my mind, and forgot. Was the crest stolen from him, or is it simply missing?"
"Zen zay a zentence in your head before you zay it outloud. You zound zilly."
"Az for your goddezz, one muzt azzume any zort of diety doez not need anyzing from their followerz exzept their devotion. Zuppoze zhe is doing fine, if you ztill believe in her.">>690973
Zuden raises her staff up, letting light fill the room.
"Let uz zlay zis pezt wiz ze zun'z rayz guiding uz."
Zunden casts out suns for those who don't already have it in the room.
[1d10+2] Healing Bonds, atleast Zunden, maybe Black if he uses his sunRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
"A fair price, i'd say. We'll have that crest back in your paws in no time!"
taking my leave, i head towards the previously mentioned bridge and the forest at a brisk trot.>>690975
"That crest of his was stolen by bandits, and according to him their hideaway is to the north."
"I suspect we'll need the others to deal with the bandits directly, but it certainly won't hurt to scout ahead, right?"
"Right. Neither of us should have that much trouble staying hidden. Though, I can hang back a little bit, if it'd be easier for you to go in alone."
I scream as the roach tears into my arm. I should have expected its speed because of how fast normal roaches are, but just how much that speed increased when overlayed with the size of a cat catches me off guard. Gripping my trap as tightly as possible, I take a couple of quick steps back in hopes of the roach picking another attack target. "Kill it," I shout at the rats, doing my best to ignore every scream of internal disgust at the thing. Crouching back down, I expend the spell in the sun and try to summon another swarm.
Each of the rats dashes at the roach from a different angle, each attempting to tear at one of its legs.
[1d10] (DC-1)Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #3 4 + 1 = 5
/ Roll #4 5 = 5
/ Roll #5 4 = 4
"Oh it should be quite alright, the treeline should be more than dense enough to stay hidden." i reply, waving you off with a wing.
"Besides, i can scarcely imagine them noticing two ponies skulking around the ruins. I'm sure we'll be fine."
"Pah," Hermodur spits angrily. "The word 'deity' is so… disgusting. It implies a level of disconnection that Ailuros does not have. She is among us, like the Alicorn Princesses of old. But, unlike them, she will not abandon us. And, she will ascend to greater glory because of it. She is a Goddess, but no deity."
"Right. I hope I can keep up, then." he says with a short chuckle, before picking the pace up a tad
You crush the gigantic roach like a grape, spreading its insides all over the cozy little house. It occurs to you that you may want to be a little careful not to damage Humboldt's house in the process.>>690976
Your staff glows brightly, then, to your chagrin, dims with no further effect. >>690979
The roach bites into your arm. Fortunately, it does not bite as deep as it would have liked, causing a minor flesh wound at most. The damage is mostly psychological.>Norvegicus takes 3 hits
The roach has already been slain by Hermodur, but your rats manage to make quick work of most of the remains. There's little left of it after a minute or two, save for an unsightly stain on the wooden floor and a few bits of chitin here and there. Turning your attention back to your cage, you manage to summon several more smaller rats to your aid, although they do not leave the cage just yet.>>690977
He smiles gratefully. "Thank you, sincerely. You will not regret this. I'll make it worth your while.">>690977>>690975
You leave Carrow's house and make your way towards the forest across the bridge. You pass a small cottage on the outskirts of Ironbrook, from within which you can hear a loud commotion. There is a very nervous-looking minotaur nearby.
You press onwards on the forest trail indicated by Carrow. The trees are dense and stifling, blocking out a lot of the sunlight above. You can hear the buzzing of insects and the calling of unfamiliar birds all around you. At some points, the path is overgrown by weeds and thickets, but it is not untraversable. Overall, your journey is relatively uneventful.
You eventually reach a signpost that points towards a place called Fort Cinder. Following it, you soon find the ruins Carrow was referring to. Almost entirely reclaimed by the surrounding wilderness, the crumbling ruins of Fort Cinder stand in a largish clearing, with all but one watchtower having long since fallen to the ground. The only sign of it being inhabited at all is a tongue of smoke wafting from within the fort walls. You can also hear faint voices, and can smell cooking meat.>>690974>>690976>>690979
No more vermin rush out to attack you, although in the gloom of the basement, you can hear them scuttling about still. A nauseating smell wafts from inside.
Hermodur stands silently with his hammer continuing to whir. He looks to the open door then to his two companions. He wears an expression as if he is awaiting directions.
"I zee. Well zhe zounds nize. Would you care to lead down ze ztairz? I will try to zummon anotzer light in the meantime, but you ztill have yourz."
Zuden stores another spell on herself.
Frozen Mend > Zunden [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
a reminder>Frozen Light's orbs count as suns for the purpose of weather-related effects, and sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet.
I steel myself, swallowing hard. "I take it that's where the infestation is concentrated?" Obviously not needing an answer, I click my tongue at my rats and they scurry to me. Picking up the trap filled with rodents, I tip my hat at Humboldt and approach the basement door.
Brushing past the undergrowth, i unfurl my wings and fly up to a tree branch higher up, looking towards the tower to check for movement.
"Right then, first we should check for guards on that tower. The last thing we'd want is being spotted on the approach."Roll #1 5 = 5
"Hrm… this seems to be the place. Looks like we're in luck, too. With only one watchtower, they can't see quite as clearly."
He nods a little bit, and tries to look around more clearly >Perception [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Hermodur nods then heads cautiously down the stairs.
[1d10] for making sure nothing gets the drop on me (which should be pretty easy with the sun over my head)Roll #1 4 = 4
You summon an orb of light above you, this time a slightly whiter hue than other spells. It illuminates the basement from where you are, showing off the ugly mess inside in all its glory.>>690987
Humboldt is nowhere to be seen, having taken off once the fighting started.>>690985>>690987>>690990
The basement is in a shambles, compared to the otherwise pleasant cottage. There are at least a dozen of the giant roaches scuttling about, and you can see large white clumps of what are presumably eggs in one corner. Whatever furniture and accessories Humboldt had inside have been chewed on and otherwise ruined by the hideous bugs. As you enter, the roaches shrink away from the sudden light, cornering themselves in a desperate attempt to get away.>>690988
You perch on top of a tree and survey the surroundings. From what you can see, there's nobody in the watchtower at all. The only signs of activity are a trio of hippogriffs that are sitting around the small campfire they've started, chatting away merrily. No sign of a crest.>>690989
The walls of the fort are built too high for you to be able to make out anything from the ground. You do, however, find that the front gate is wide open.
Zuden attempts to coral the bugs into one corner with the light.
"Ze if you can zquish zem all at oncze. Zey fear ze light of ze zun."
[1d10] corrallingRoll #1 2 = 2
"See anything, Silver? I'm not getting much."
"How do we approach this, exterminator," Hermodur stands, ready to swing his whirring hammer.
"Well now, we're in luck! It seems their little group is in the middle of lunch."
hopping down from the tree, i keep low and make my way across the clearing and towards the gate.
"Stay close and follow my lead. They might be busy, but you really never know if somepony might decide to take a stroll and spot us."
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 6 = 6
Rabi nods a little bit, and ducks as low as he can manage as he follows along behind Silver Song>Stealth [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
I rub my chin for a moment. "Well," I say. "It looks like the lizard lady might have the right idea," I say. "Get them all together so we can try and deal with them at once." I think for a moment. "Just killing the roaches won't help if the eggs are still around. You two try and separate them. Roaches in particular aren't that hard to back into a corner. I'll send my four rats with you while I split off and use my swarm to consume the eggsacks. They don't like light, so if she casts that light spell on you too, then you should be able to leave some shadow for them to hide in and they should move right to it. If they were smaller you'd have to worry about them disappearing into cracks and crevices. Thankfully them being this size actually makes extermination easier." I glance over at Zunden. "You, uh… You can do that, right?"
"How hard can ziz be, zey are only inzectz!"
Zunden says, moving the sun orb around with her staff
"Well, this should be easy, then."
Hermodur positions himself (and his light) so that none of the roaches can escape through the door without him seeing them.
[1d10] for being observant if necessaryRoll #1 2 = 2
You might as well be herding cats. The rest are much less aggressive than the desperate one that had a go at Black, but they still scatter in all directions as you approach them. A few of them just freeze in place, having nowhere to run.>>690999
You guard the door, watching the ongoing shenanigans. The roaches have now scattered all over the basement, as opposed to one big clump.>>690995
You lay low, making your way through the gate unnoticed. You stick to the walls as you creep along, hiding amidst the rubble. You spot an ajar door nearby leading into the fort proper.>>690996
You try to follow suit, but accidentally step on a loose brick and send it loudly falling to the ground. The hippogriffs at the campfire perk up, talking among themselves for a moment, then one of them gets up and starts looking around in suspicion. She doesn't seem to have spotted you yet.
I squint my eyes at the roaches' location, glaring at them like they're an old nemesis. "Oh, do not underestimate the cunning and tenacity of even the common cockroach, madam. One enters your home. Three days later you're looking at hundreds. Three days after that you're looking at thousands. They develop resistances to poisons generation by generation. They consume everything they can get their slimy little chittery claws on, including, but not limited to, glue, wood, paper, and I've heard legends of some species even evolving to rust and consume metal. To you these may just be little insects. But me? I know the truth."
Rabi winces as the brick clatters to the ground, and ducks even lower. He tries his best to remain hidden, hoping that they don't see him.>Stealth 2: Stealth Harder [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I cooked zem if I ever found in ze boardhouze. Zey aren't zat bad."
Zunden says, struggling to get the bugs in one location,
"Fiezty creaturez, zhough.">>691000
Continued stepping on/ corralling bugs
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
I hesitate, but descend into the basement. "This isn't working out like I'd hoped," I say to my rats under my breath. "New plan. Split up. Two of you run to destroy the egg sacks. They don't seem to work like normal roach egg sacks, so be careful. Eat'em if you want, but be wary of premature hatching." The rats squeak in acknowledgement and skitter towards where the white clumps were. When I make it to the bottom of the basement stairs, I adjust my tie again, kneel down, and release the swarm of rats inside my trap.
Seeing Rabi struggle to take cover, i roll my eyes and try and pull him into a secluded area of rubble.
"Shh, get down
" i whisper as i drag him off.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 8 = 8
After some running around, you manage to corral all the roaches into one corner. They cower at the light, panicking at being trapped.
One of the roaches seems to fly into a frenzy, dashing at you and nipping at your ankles.
Your rats make short work of the eggs, destroying them easily. Your swarm also takes down most of the roaches easily, devouring the ugly critters in a matter of minutes.
After their feast, there's only three roaches left, one of which pounces at you in sudden confusion.
You fail to find a good hiding spot in time, your head poking out of the rubble.>>691005
You grab him by the scruff of the neck and pull him down alongside you.>>691002>>691005
The hippogriff keeps searching for a while, but doesn't manage to find you. "Nothing here," she calls to the others. "Must've been a rat or something." Seems like the coast is clear for now.Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Still standing by the door.
[1d10] for vigilanceRoll #1 9 = 9
You keep watching, making sure none of them try to get away. As Black's rats make short work of the infestation, one of the surviving roaches runs at you in a panic and tries to bite you.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"It's almost endearing," Hermodur comments as he swings his rocket hammer down on it.
>[1d10+2][1d10+2] DC-1, take larger rollRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #2 2 + 2 = 4
Nodding at you, i motion with a wing to keep down, staying ahead as i sweep the area for their store room.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 4 = 4
I send the swarm and my two rats at one of the remaining roaches, trying to stand away from the crossfire myself.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
Zunden delivers a quick thunk with her staff to the giant bug.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Rabi offers a short, thankful nod, and looks around the area for anything of use himself.>Search [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
It manages to give you a nasty bite. You retaliate with a powerful swing that crushes it utterly, leaving almost nothing of it.>>691010
With the hippogriffs off guard, you fly into the fort. It is gloomy on the inside, lit only by the occasional lantern. The bandit trio seem to have refurbished much of it to suit them as a base of operations. You look around for a while, but you can't find any crests around.>>691011
You manage to avoid the roach coming at you, and your rats manage to gnaw it into submission soon after. It twitches and flails in panic, then is still.>>691013
You follow Silver into the fort. You don't manage to find a crest, but you do find a roughly cut emerald gem in a nearby drawer. It could be worth quite a bit.>>691014
Your scales protect you from the attack, leaving you only with a minor nick. You retaliate by giving the overgrown bug a good thwack. It recoils and mellows out almost instantly.>Zunden takes 1 hit>>691009>>691011>>691014
Seems like the roach infestation is all but dealt with. The only one remaining is the one that attacked Zunden, which is trying to hide somewhere and failing miserably at it.
Rabi hums a little bit, and… pockets the emerald, for now. It oughta be worth some good money, anyways. He keeps searching around the area, trying to catch a hint of something that might be what they're looking for, or at least a sign of it>Search: [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Hermodur continues to block the door. [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Keeping out of sight, i continue my search through the fort, peeking into rooms as i go.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 8 = 8
Zunden tries picking the roach up, having pacified it.
"You can come wiz me or I'll kill you and eat you. Your choize."
>totally spending sun now
[1d10+1] gain cockroach petRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
I click my tongue and my rats dash to my feet. "Finish it off," I tell my four rats. Each of them charge the last roach, and I turn around, theatrically running my claw across the brim of my hat as they leap at it.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
/ Roll #4 5 = 5
"Consider these pests controlled."
"Ze ratz, zey zaved none for me! Ah well, zey earned it."
You keep searching together, eventually coming across the object of your search. In one dusty room, you see an old metal crest lying in a corner. It is gold, blue and red, depicting two wolves rampant. The name "Carrow" is emblazoned below them, with a phrase in an unknown language written across the top of the crest. Overall, it looks quite impressive.
Looking around, you can see other treasure that the bandits have presumably pilfered over time. There is a large bag of coins nearby, as well as a ceremonial silver sword of the sort used in Banishment ceremonies, and a sealed bottle of expensive wine.
You hear several hoofsteps coming from nearby. The bandits seem to have finished their lunch.>>691017
You block the door extremely well.>>691019
The cockroach ignores you and continues hiding, its antennae twitching feverishly. It doesn't seem to have understood you at all.>>691020
You watch as the rats charge towards it. They rip into it ravenously, and don't leave a single trace of it. You look around proudly at you and your companions' handiwork. A job well done overall!
I beam with pride at my rats. "Alright, guys. You all deserve a rest." I crouch down and open my cage. After another click of my tongue, they all run inside, disappearing as I release the magic I used to summon them.
"Fantastically accomplished, compatriots, Hermodur says with a hint of pride!"
(Yes, I know where my quotation marks are!)
The room you are in appears to have been an armory once. The bandits seem to use it for storage now. There are shelves with various knick knacks they've pilfered over time, a few chests here and there, a central table with a map of the surrounding landscape and a bag of coins, and the aforementioned loot you noticed.
Hearing the bandits fast approaching, i motion to take cover to Rabi, hiding under the center table
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 4 = 4
Rabi smiles as the two of them finally come across the crest, and he almost
says something aloud, before pivoting his head around at the sound of hoofsteps approaching. He looks to Silver Song, and nods a tad, before ducking under the table as well >Stealth: [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"That went well, and ze mapz will come in handy. Zhame zere iz nozhing left to zalvage. It iz a new world, I wizj to zee how edible everyzhing is az well."
Zunden heads outside to once again bask.>Bask: Healing Bonds
"Ew," Hermodur says somewhat childishly.
I hang back for a moment, wrinkling my nose in disgust at your proposition of eating either the roaches themselves or their eggs. Honestly I'm not sure which would be worse. Shrugging it off, I head outside and look around for Humboldt.
"I'm still confused as to how a simple exterminator ended up here," Hermodur comments.
The small horde of rats scamper into the cage and blink out of existence.>>691029
You head out and bask for a while in the sunlight. It warms your cold blood.>>691024>>691025>>691029>>691031
It is not long before Humboldt returns, poking his head through the door cautiously before grinning. "Hah! Well, look at tha'! Ye did it! Thank ye, thank ye so much. Yer all lifesavers, ye know tha'? I don' know wha' I'd've done if ye hadn't showed up!" He goes on like that for a bit before pulling out a bag of coins, as well as the furled up scroll he promised as extra. "I don't have much ter me name, but it's all I have. If I could give more I would. I'll never ferget this!">+65 bits>>691027
You fail to hide properly, your back legs poking out from under the table for all to see.
The hippogriff mare from before enters the room and rummages about before doing a double take as she sees you. "Wha… Who are you?" she demands angrily, reaching for an elegant rapier at her side.>>691028
You manage to hide under the table easily, curling up into a ball.
Rabi keeps hidden for now, but gives Silver a worried glance. If she decides to go loud, he's more than willing to.
Zunden says somewhat seriously, before chuckling,
"Or juzt the nature of the ze zyztem of law and order. Who am I to zay.">>691033
Zunden nods, raising her staff, it glowing with the sun's rays.
[1d10+2] Frozen Healing Bonds: Zunden, Norvegicus, HumboldtRoll #1 6 + 2 = 8
"A gift for you az well, zhen. If you ever cut yourzelf or find yourself hurt, zimply dizpell thiz orb wiz your mind and it will heal you. Ozher wiz, it can act az a torch whenever you need it."
I look away. "It's, uh… It's kind of complicated," I say, brushing my suit off. "Maybe some other time.">>691033
I put on a broad smile, take the coins and map, and tip my hat. "All in a days work, sir. You have my card. Spread my name around if anyone else has any problems, and I'd consider that worth as much as any coin you'd owe me past this. I'll be back in town sometime soon, and I'll drop by then to make sure the infestation is still under control but you should be good to go."
Lifting my head, I walk away with the sense of pride you can only get from doing a job that you're good at, making up my mind to head back to the inn and wait.
"In a place like this, you must figure that your story is probably tame in the scheme of them," Hermodur assures him.>>691036
"Such a pathetically flawed system of law and order should be overturned," Hermodur grumbles. He seems to be just commenting in general more than actually responding to Zunden.>>691033
"You're not wrong, but you should perhaps appear a little less thankful. It makes you appear weak," Hermodur says to Humboldt.
pulling myself out from under the table, i hold a feather to my mouth, hinting to keep quiet.>>691033
quickly pulling myself out from under the table, i brush my dress off before clearing my throat.
"Me? Why, i'm nopony in particular, really." i reply, brushing the question off with a wing.
"I..Had heard there was a group of ruffi-..warriors
here in the forest who i.. had wanted to join!"
"..Although, it seems i lost my way, you see. I had no idea where you were, so i tried checking here, and, well, you startled me, so i tried to hide." i finish, grinning sheepishly.
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 6 + 2 = 8
"Iz what I zay as well."
"Why WERE you arrested, anyway?" Hermodur asks, raising an eyebrow.
You keep out of sight, watching the ongoing altercation.>>691037>>691036
Humboldt nods solemnly in understanding, clasping the magical orb in his hands. "A miracle worker, I see. Thank ye kindly, and light walk with ye.">>691038
"Rest assured, sir, I will. Ye've done me a great service, and I shan't soon forget it."
You head back into town, returning to the inn. You find it slightly busier than before, filled with some rather rough-looking clientele. Violet is there as well, sitting in an alcove poring over her diary. She looks up as you enter and waves hello. "Back from work, I assume?">>691039
Humboldt tilts his head curiously and straightens up, suddenly appearing much less friendly than before. He matches you in size and stature. "Begging yer pardon, sir," he answers in a low voice, "but I don' have nothin' ter prove ter anyone anymore.">>691040
The hippogriff stares you down for an uncomfortably long period of time. "….Get out of here," she eventually growls in an icy tone. "This place won't be any fun. Not for you." She refuses to budge from the room until you leave, pointing at the door.
"Yeah," I say. "That's kind of what I was thinking in the beginning. I'd expected to be surrounded by cold blooded killers and cutthroat thieves. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still kind of uneasy about the whole thing."
Rabi has a bit of an unsettling feeling as he realizes he doesn't have much of a way out of here on his own. Well, worst comes to worst, he's pretty speedy on his hooves. That, and maybe a bit of light could blind them long enough for him to escape.
I smile and wave back, walking over to her. I try to hide my discomfort with the surrounding patrons, but I'm not sure just how good of a job I'm doing. Still, maybe this is a good time to try and make friends. Violet doesn't seem as bad as most of the others here. "Yeah. By some stroke of luck I was actually able to find something that suited my talents." I look for a seat near her.
"We went over ziz. I zhrough a guard out ze window of my boardhouze and knocked anozher out with my ztaff. Zey were zearching for a wayward pony who had azked for zhelter, and I denied zem entry. My patronz alzo attacked the guardz, alzhough I did not azk zem to. Zhus, I waz branded a terrorizt leader and my boardhouze waz burnt down."
"I am guilty of my chargez, zhough I would not call myzelf a terrorizt.">>691043
"May your fate be one of promize."
she replies, leaving with the rest.>>691046
"Ah pleaze, there will alwayz be a need for zomeone who dealz wiz peztz."
"Oooh, why i never!"
With a huff, i make my way out of the armory and back outside, griping aloud to nopony in particular.
"I make my way through this dreadful forest to join your band of fighters, and you think i can't handle myself?"
"We were all cast here for some crime or another, and I'll tell you MY
crime was certainly not a soft one. I'm more than capable of whatever it is you're after!">>691045
casting a quick glance from you to the medallion and back, i make my way out of the room, pushed along by the hippogriff.
"Oh… right…" Hermodur says in a combination of awkwardly and sadly.
You watch as Silver is shunted out of the fort, complaining all the while. It seems like now would be a good time to go for the opportunity.>>691046
The alcove seems to be big enough for you both, and the rest of your group to boot. She closes her journal with an audible thump and nods. "Good on you," she says encouragingly. "Always folks around here in need of certain skills. Or if not here, then the next town over. What sort of work was it?"
A timid-looking unicorn mare in a dress also approaches the table, holding a little notebook. She is presumably a barmaid, and looks at you and Violet. Before she can ask, Violet gives her her order. "I'll just have a glass of cider, thanks." She turns to you. "You want anything to eat or drink? It's on me.">>691047>>691049
As you return to the now bustling inn, you find Norvegicus and Violet already sharing a table, having just been approached by a barmaid. Violet waves hello, beckoning for you to join her.>>691048
The hippogriff ignores your protests, following closely behind you and giving you a soft shove out of the fort. "Don't come back," she says menacingly, standing firmly in place until you leave.
Hermodur approaches the table and sits down silently.
continuing to grumble, i wait until i make it to the treeline before flying up to another branch, worriedly scanning the ruins below.
"Oh, i hope Rabi is okay in there.."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
Rabi takes the chance so graciously supplied by Silver Song, and slips out as quietly as he can manage. He tries to keep low and move quick, since he's not sure how long it'll take for them to return.>Stealth: [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"One of the reasons I sat down was actually because of how hungry I am." I remove my hat and set it on the table in front of me, revealing a sweaty mop, clumped up patch of fur caked to the top of my head. I smooth it back as best I can and give the barmaid a smile. "Evening. I'll have a glass of cider as well, and whatever small meal you'd recommend, madam. You seem like someone who's instincts I can trust." I give her a small wink.
[1d10] for how nice my smile is.Roll #1 9 = 9
Zunden sits at the table as well, pulling out her tarot deck and shuffling it, placing it on the table. She touches the deck, thinking about the status of Rabi and Silver before she draws a card from the deck.
>Draw from the Arcana; passive/'automatic instant; once per day': Zunden utilizes the tarot deck to tell the fortune of an individual. As a passive, can do a reading for an individual or group, using the cards as guidance. Once per in-game day, however, she may seek more clairvoyant guidance by using the arcana to offer guidance, gaining a vague hint or brief vision from the past, present, or future that applies to their current situation.
>Once a day guidance
(Slight change. Pilfer the sword, the gold, and the crest, then skidaddle.
Violet gives you a friendly smile as you take a seat. "Something wrong? Can I get you a drink?">>691052
You spot the hippogriff making her way back inside, exchanging words with one of the other bandits. As they do so, you see Rabi zip by them undetected, rejoining you outside. He seems to have pilfered some of the bandits' ill-earned goods.>>691053>>691056
You double check the coast is clear before taking off with some of the bandits' loot, sticking to the shadows and creeping along silently. You manage to sneak by the hippogriff mare and one of her companions undetected, eventually reuniting with Silver outside.>+40 bits>>691054
Her guard slips a bit, and she smiles back as she writes down your order in the notebook. "O-our special for today is Orchard Keeper stew," she informs you. You don't know what an Orchard Keeper is, but before she can elaborate the innkeeper calls her over for something. As promised, Violet is the one to pay for your drink and meal this time, saving you some hard-earned money. "So," she asks you, "given any thought to my proposal? It's a lot to ask, coming on an expedition like this one, so I understand if you want to stay behind.">>691055
You shuffle the deck and seek guidance from your deck. The cards tell of great hardship and misfortune, but also great reward at the end of your journey.
"What's that you've got there?" Violet asks curiously, craning her neck to get a better look.
"You are too kind," Hermodur says courteously.
Rabi offers a quick wave as he rejoins Silver, before holding the crest up "Got it- and, some other stuff. I pilfered the bits and the sword, too. I wonder if the sword would sell for much… or, at least, be useful?"
I sigh and sit back, absentmindedly scratching the top of my head. "Yeah," I say. "I've been thinking about it." I let that hang in the air for a moment before finally continuing. "I think I'll do it. I've never really gotten the chance to get out much outside of normal work. Oh, and I supposed I didn't answer your question. It was a pest control job. Before I came here I worked in extermination, so when I saw there was a guy with a roach infestation-" I gesture towards the job board. "I thought I'd jump at the chance."
Zunden smiles as she reveals a card showing a saurian with a golden orb embellished with a strange rune in her out reached claw, picking it from a tree where others are hanging (five in total). An additional three are in a basket in her other claw.
Zunden turns to Violet,
"Ah, ziz iz a tarot deck. I uze it to gain inzight on the eventz happening around uz, and for making helping make decizionz. I'm az zome would zay a… fortune teller. Zilly name, I can't promize fortune. Ztill, zhiz card in particular bodez well. It iz ze nine of pentaclez. It iz a zymbol of the fruitz of labor: the rewardz after a hardzhip or challenge. I zink our new friendz will be returning wizh their headz held high."
Quickly moving down from the tree, I gallop over to embrace you, wrapping my wings around your neck.
"Oh, you're okay! You had me worried, all alone in those ruins, but I'm so glad you're safe!"
Remembering my place, I back up, blushing. "A-and you've got the crest too, also important." I add with a smile.
"We'd best hurry, before they realize what happened.">>691057
With the crest (and loot) in tow, I start heading back towards the village at a canter.
Rabi chuckles a little bit, and pats Silver Song on the shoulder softly "Thanks for worrying, Silver. You did a fantastic job luring them away though." he says, before coughing a little "And, yeah. I got the crest, too."
"Don't mention it. So what's your poison? Ale, wine, mead, beer? They have all sorts in this watering hole. Although, none of it seems to be any good.">>691059
You examine the sword. It is an elegant, ornate weapon, with several runes and engravings across both the blade and the hilt. You recognize it as being a ceremonial weapon that is often used to activate portals into the Echoes during Banishment rituals. Still, it is as effective a weapon as any, and could fetch a good price.>Banishment sword: Single>>691060
She beams. "That's the spirit! There's adventure everywhere in these parts. Why not live a little. And don't worry, it may be dangerous out there, but I'll be watching your back."
She nods as you tell her of the job you just took. "I don't envy you. If there's one thing I can't stand it's roaches. Ugh. Sounds like honest pay for honest work though!"
Soon enough, your food and drink order is brought out by the barmaid. Placed in front of you is a wooden bowl of stew, containing mostly chunks of white meat. It has a somewhat pungent aroma, but not entirely unpleasant. Violet receives her glass of cider with muttered thanks.>>691061
She listens intently at your explanation. "Interesting. I've heard of this tarot business before, but I've never had it done myself." She looks at the cards for a while. "…Say, how about giving me a reading? Just out of curiosity.">>691062>>691063
You return to Carrow's manor. He answers the door somewhat austerely, but then smiles thankfully upon seeing his crest returned to him. "Wonderful, simply wonderful! I thought I'd lost it for good. I am indebted to you two. Thank you, sincerely. …Here, as promised." He hands you a bulging bag of coins. "The least I can do to repay your hard work.">+150 bits>pausing
I crinkle my nose in disgust. "I'm with you there. They're probably the second most common thing I have to take care of, but by gods they're easily the ones that turn my stomach the most. The way they look and move is one thing, but there's just something about the smell of a severe roach infestation that could put the most hardened man off his lunch." I nod to the barmaid, sliding the bowl closer to me. "Thank you."
"Anyway, yeah. You learn to deal with them, even if they are disgusting, prolific little vermin, but work is work." I shrug, leaning in a little. "Honestly, I think I'd feel a little safer out there with you than-" I glance around at the intimidating patrons before looking back at Violet. "Well… you know. 'Here'. Alone." I take a spoonful of the stew and lift it to my lips, stopping for a second to gesturing to it. "Oh, and thank you by the way."
You taste the stew. Given the rather dingy establishment, it's better than nothing at all. A little bitter, and a tad too much salt for your liking, but it's better than starving. Whatever an Orchard Keeper may be, it seems to be a bird of some sort, judging by the meat being somewhat like chicken in flavor and texture, although richer.
"Don't mention it," she answers warmly. "I'm just doing my part to make sure you all can get some footing around here. Just… well, I'll be blunt. I won't be sticking with you guys for too long. After this expedition, we'll probably be parting ways. So don't expect me to be around forever. I hope you understand." She raises her glass in a slight toast and drinks.
"Why of course! It was no trouble, really." i reply, strapping the bag to my side.
bidding the dog goodbye, i make my way back to the Tavern, coins jingling merrily as i trot>>691063
"I certainly hope the others are alright, seems we lost track of them earlier.."
"Oh, but of course. We're glad we could help you get it back.">>691307
"I'm sure they are. They seemed capable enough, so unless they've gone well out of their reach, they should be fine." he offers, as they make their way towards the tavern "Until then, why don't we grab something to eat, or drink? We've got money enough for board and supplies, and the tavern probably has something edible."
"Wine, the gentleman's drink," Hermodur says proudly.
"What are you looking for in your reading? Do you have any queztionz about ze coming future? Are you looking for love maybe?"
"I do general readingz, but zey don't provide az much inzight. Anyzing zat might be worrying you or you queztion ze outcome: Zat iz when a reading iz mozt uzeful."
"Good point, all this sneaking around has left me famished, it'll do us good to eat something."
"..You don't suppose that sword we found is enchanted, do you? It's quite similar to those ritual blades, and if the sword open the path here we might be able to open it again."
My ears fold back and I look down at my stew. "Oh," I say. "Yeah, I suppose it would be naive to think otherwise." I lift my glass and toast back, chuckling. "Can't be babysitting all the time."
"Hrm… It's worth a shot, actually. I'm not the most capable at identifying magic, but I'll see if I can feel anything. And, at the least, I imagine it could sell for a pretty bit. Or, one of us could use it. For a ritual blade, it seems rather sturdy.">Identify: [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You return to the inn. It's a bit more lively than before, although the patrons look a little rough. The innkeeper nods at you in greeting, while a nearby barmaid pony moves over to you. "How may I help you?" she asks politely.
You soon see the rest of your group sitting in a large alcove alongside Violet, who hails you with a friendly wave. She sees the coin and treasure you're carrying. "I see you've been doing well for yourselves. Where'd that come from?">>691309>>691310
"Good choice." She turns to the barmaid. "A glass of wine for my friend here, please." The mare merely nods and shuffles off to serve it.>>691311
She thinks about it for a while. She seems more invested in the idea now. "…Tell me about my future, then, reader," she answers eventually. "What does fate have in store for me, according to the cards?">>691313
"Hehe. That's not the word I'd use, but I guess it's apt. I like to think you can take care of yourselves. I'm just keeping an eye out for you. I'd keep both eyes out, but, well…" She chuckles, although you can't tell if she's amused at her own joke or at her disability. >>691314
You examine the sword closer. Although it's not your area of expertise, you can sense some magical energy resonating from it. You recall that silver swords such as these are a key part of the ritual that leads to the opening of a portal to the Echoes: as the final act in the ritual, a silver sword is stabbed into the rainbow pool and rotated like a key, briefly opening a gate to this other dimension. If the sword has any other magical properties, however, they elude you for now.
"Now then, seeing as we're all here I have a few announcements to make regarding our expedition. I went and made some preparations while you were gone."
"First off, the wizard fellow I left the cylinder with got back to me much faster than anticipated. He says it looks like a key mechanism of some sort, and the engravings on it are similar to those found in pre-Dominion Abyssinia. Given the links between Abyssinia and our destination, I think it'd be a good idea to bring the cylinder along. Just in case. Which leads me to my next point."
"I've been doing some research on King Lucan, in whose I found the inscription leading me - well, us - to the Sands." She pulls out a hefty looking book with a golden trim and opening it to a bookmarked page. "I got this history tome from the local wizard. Only a few bits for it too. Anyway, so apparently this Lucan was quite the treasure hunter, collecting antiquities from all over the world." She quotes a passage from the history book. "'His subjects soon took to calling him the Old Dragon because of his hoard; Lucan was known to possess a huge stock of magical artifacts from all corners of the earth.' …It also says here that he ruled Abyssinia centuries ago, before the Dominion, while the Sun and Moon were still corporeal and ruling over Equestria. …That's about as far as I've gotten. Whatever's in the Sands, it's got to be something good."
"The final thing is that I've gone ahead and purchased a wagon for us to carry our supplies, as well as whatever loot we find along the way. I have it stationed in a barn on the outskirts of town. It's fairly large, so it should be able to hold everything we'll need for the journey. Unfortunately, we don't have a Sanctuary available, else we'd be traveling by that. It's quite a trip from here to the Sands, so we'll be leaving at dawn tomorrow morning. I'll probably come and wake you up, if you're not up already." She's mentioned a Sanctuary a few times now, and it's not something any of you are familiar with.
"That's about it. If there's anything you guys want to buy from the markets in preparation, you'd do best to go about it now before we lose the light. If you have any questions, now would be a good time, although we'll have plenty of time to talk on the road."
in whose tomb I found*
"You are too kind to us," Hermodur says with another thankful nod. "It saddens me that I can't return the favor.">>691316
"So, whatever we find would have been around during the days before the princesses abandoned Equestria…" Hermodur laments out loud. "Interesting."
"Are we properly supplied for this venture?"
"Ah yes, I'd love to try the inn's specialty dish, if you've some on hoof." i reply kindly to the barmaid.
"As for the treasure" i begin, turning to Violet "Rabi and I had just managed to sneak by that bandit camp the noble was having trouble with. Seems they had quite the haul before we arrived."
"Recovered the crest and
some treasure as well, not a bad outcome at all." i finish, looking quite smug.
"Hrm…" Rabi mumbles a few things to himself as he looks the blade over, before stroking his chin "It seems to be magical in some
way, but I can't pin down how. I remember them using it as a 'key' during the Banishment Ritual, so I think we'd best keep it on us. I've got no clue if it can, but if we find the right conditions… maybe it could work as a way back? Regardless, we'd best find a more capable wizard. They could tell us more, most likely.">>691316
Rabi offers Violet a wave in return, settling down into the alcove next to Silver Song. "We picked some money and a ritual blade up while we were grabbing the crest for that noble. All in all, we made out pretty well- 190 bits. How did all of you fare?"
Rabi listens intently to Violet's explanation, before smiling widely "Sounds like we'll find something handy, then. Maybe a few magical artifacts, or something of the like. And, as far as questions go, where would I find the local wizard? If he could inspect the sword for us, we could find out if it's got anything special on it."
"As for this expedition, i'll have to see about filling our packs for the trip.. after a bite to eat, of course."
"Oh," Hermodur says, crossing his arms, looking rather disappointed. "You already took care of the bandits?"
"Why yes! Rabi and I had managed to sneak by them, stealing back the crest they stole from the noble."
"It was quite the heist, my distraction was just enough to let Rabi slip by unnoticed, and all
without raising a blade." i nod, smiling smugly.
"How was your foray? We seemed to have split up earlier, something about 'pest control'?"
Rabi chuckles a little, and offers a short nod in agreement "It went much smoother than planned. there was only three of them, and despite being spotted, Silver Song managed to distract them enough for me to make off with the lion's share of their treasure, Crest included. They didn't even have guards posted, so we were rather lucky."
I laugh along with her before falling silent again to listen to Violet's explenation. Was I really going to do this? Actually risk my life just because some of the folks around town were a little more intimidating? I furrow my brow and sigh, contemplating my stew, barely even noticing as everyone else shows up.
I lift my bowl, slurp down the rest of my stew, and let out a loud belch. "Well," I say. "I suppose it's to the market then." Though to be honest I'm not entirely sure what exactly one needs for 'adventuring'.
"Oh," Hermodur says, suddenly sounding more pleased. "So, you didn't hurt the bandits? Excellent, I still have a chance to teach the the glory of Ailuros. Knowing bandits, so long as they are unharmed, we'll run into them again eventually."
"I, on the other hand was relegated to mere bug killing duty. Though, they WERE quite massive bugs. It still felt rather beneath me. But, I suppose it is good to be where you are needed.">>691324
"You should have taught them a lesson," Hermodur says in disapproval before lightening up. "But, I'm glad you didn't."
"It went well. Made a little coin, but the small potential network for future jobs was invaluable."
The fur on the back of my neck prickles when Hermodur mentions how killing bugs was beneath him. Deciding to take that as my cue, I clear my throat and, with as little venom as possible, say "Anyway, I'll be shopping. I suppose we should split the coin from the job." I take a third of the coins and drop the sack back on the table, letting a couple spill out. Without saying another word, I turn and leave the inn.
"Good, I am an early rizer, I will be ready by dawn."
Zunden says confidently, turning back to her cards.>>691315
"Alright, I will we will zee your zituation, your action you are taking or will take, and ze outcome of zaid zituation. Keep in mind, ze cardz are not magical, zey are only uzed to interpret the world around uz."
Zunden shuffles and lays three cards infront of Violet, tapping the first one.
"The current zituation."
The first card is reversed showing a young saurian holding a runed sphere, amidst a grassy field.
"Ah, ze Page of pentaclez. It'z upzidedown nature meanz it'z original meaning iz inverzed. The current ztate of affairz iz one of impracticality and zloth. Are you perhapz not enthuzed about a new venture? Are you catching yourzelf daydreaming? Eizher way, zhere may be zomewhere that practical action is lacking."
Zunden shrugs, pointing to the next one,
"Ze Action. What actionz can you take, or are current are taking, to addrezz ze zituation."
Again the card is reversed when drawn, showing a weeping saurian with two goblets in each hand, three more spilt over on the floor below.
"Ze five of cupz, again reverzed. Normally ziz iz a card of conflict, but reverzed it zymbolizez moving on and finding peaze. If timez have been tough in, you may have, or will, pull yourzelf through a zituation by looking foward. Whezher it be prezent or future, not all has or will be lozt. Zhiz iz healing, and acceptanze."
She smiles, tapping the final card.
"And ze outcome. What can you expect from taking ze action."
To the party, the card is familiar, having been drawn for Silver Song reversed before. The card depicts a saurian holding a scale in one hand and sword in the other.
"Juztice, a Major Arcana. Fitting it iz ze outcome, az upright it meanz Cauze and Effect: fairnezz, truth, and exercize of the law. To be fair, zhere may not be the zame lawz az from before banizhment, but ze lawz of the land. Lawz of nature. What you get iz a direct rezult of your actionz. Clarity and Truth iz what you can expect as an outcome."
She turns her head, looking to the pony,
"And zhat is zhat. Doez anyzhing hold rezonance? If not, remember, zhey are only cardz. I don't claim to hold maztery over anyonez fate."
"Well, it sounds like you had some
fun at least, using that hammer of yours."
"But i'm glad you finished that job while i was away, i'd sooner fight bandits over some horrid bugs!" i finish with a shudder.
"Well, happy to disappoint, in that case. I'm not going to go looking for a fight when it's not too worth it." he says, before looking to Zunden's Tarot cards."
(I'm pretty sure that 65 bits we got was 65 each so it's already split.)>>691330
"Mjolnir was not bestowed upon me by a living goddess so I could smash some insects," Hermodur responds haughtily.>>691331
"If it means opening the eyes of some lost souls to the path of salvation with Ailuros, then it's very worth it.">>691329
"If we can find clarity through this quest, then it is surely one on which I wish to embark," Hermodur comments as Zunden finishes.
"It's not a big deal. I just don't want you guys being left in the dirt. It can be rough starting out here in the Echoes."
"Hmm…" She reaches into her saddlebags again and pulls out a checklist. "Well, there's enough food for at least two weeks, plenty of water, rope, a lantern… Really, the only thing you guys would have to buy is extra food, since I wasn't expecting to have five others on board. Oh, and tents. I've only got one, and I don't mind sharing, but it's not going to fit six by any means.">>691319
"R-right away." She nods and shuffles off into the kitchen to prepare your order.
Violet nods in approval. "Good on you. I don't much care for that Carrow guy, but bandits are even worse. It's hard enough to get by down here as it is. The loot's in much better hooves now, I'd wager.">>691320
"190 bits? That's a great haul for a first job." Violet looks impressed. "Seems like you chose the right patron."
"The wizard? He lives just across the road, in that weird building over there." She points outside, where you can see a tall wooden building shaped like a chess rook. "Odd fellow, but he knows his stuff, I'll give him that. He should be able to help you with that sword of yours.">>691321
"Good idea. There's still about another hour or two before the sun goes down. Plenty of time to eat up and do some shopping." >>691318>>691321
The barmaid returns with your orders. Hermodur is presented with a large glass of red wine, while Silver is served a steaming wooden bowl of vegetable soup. Both look serviceable enough.>>691325
Violet winces a little at your table manners, but offers no further comment as you leave the inn.
You have a look around the markets, finding a variety of items on sale:>camping equipment - 15 bits each>torches and lanterns - 6 bits/bundle, 12 in a bundle>fire-starting kits - 3 bits>oil lanterns - 8 bits >rope - 2 bits for 10 meters>medicinal herbs and poultices for light injuries - 5 bits (automatic, heals full hits but no wounds)>shovels - 3 bits>saddle bags and pouches - 9 bits>spyglasses - 8 bits>hunting knives - 6 bits
There are also weapons vendors with a variety of armaments in stock, including swords, axes, maces, spears, greatswords, greataxes, hammers, polearms, daggers, bows, crossbows, pistols, rifles, claws, caestii, rapiers, whips, curved swords, katanas, quarterstaves, throwing knives, slingshots, and everything in between. Most of them look a bit too hefty or too complex for you.>>691329
At first she merely seems amused by the reading, but when the Five of Cups is drawn, Violet looks like she's seen a ghost. As you finish the reading, Violet seems mystified by the results of it, regarding you with her single eye. "S-Some of it does line up, I have to admit," she stammers. "It's… just a lot to take in, all at once. Thank you, reader. I appreciate it. It's given me a lot to think about. Maybe there is some truth to the cards after all…" Still looking a bit shaken, she nonetheless raises her glass to you and drinks again. "Now, can I get you anything? Food, drink?"
"Take my share as well," Hermodur offers. "I have little use for it."
I look around at the various gear spread across the market, and scratch the top of my head. I'd taken 22 of the bits, but even then everything seems kind of expensive. I'm not even entirely sure what I'd need, but everything seems useful for one reason or another. I pick up a hunting knife, look it over, and put it back down. Maybe someone around here can help me. I look around for one of the shopkeepers.
"Ah, I'd nearly forgotten," Hermodur says as she slaps himself in the forehead in response to Violet's list. "In addition to our payment, we also received a map. Might that be useful for our venture?"
"And here we are, a drink for a civilized individual," Hermodur says as he takes a sip of the wine. As he swallows it, he cringes. Not because of this particular wine. He just doesn't actually seem to like win that much.
Nodding in thanks to the barmaid, i quietly sip my soup as i listen to Violet speak with Zunden.
"Surprisingly accurate for a deck of cards, isn't it? I was as surprised as you at the time of my
"Anything on the menu catch your eye, Rabi? This soup of theres is quite alright. More than whatever they served me prior to banishment, certainly."
Rabi nods, tucking the sword away for the time being "Indeed. Silver definitely had an eye for the best job. And, in that case, I'll visit him after I eat. Speaking of which…">>691339
"The soup seems like a good option, then. I think I'll go with that." He says, before thinking back to his own tarot reading "I can say for sure, mine felt rather on the dot. I didn't expect cards to be that… precise."
Zunden nods knowingly at the reaction, offering a comforting smile,
"Ze cardz do tend to behave zat way. Az for anyzhing for me? Let uz zhare a loaf of bread and some hard zpiritz so zat face of yourz regainz zome color."
Zunden chuckles, taking the cards from the table and shuffling them and placing them back on her belt.
"You do not zhink ze ztaff would mind if I took off my chainmail? It iz not exactly comfortable clozhing."
"I'm sure it'll be fine, it's not like we run risk of needing it in a tavern."
You see a shopkeeper nearby. He is a skinny droopy-eyed saurian with a long snout like a crocodile, puffing on a hookah. He folds his arms and looks at you. "Help you with somethin'?" he mumbles.>>691337
"A map!" she exclaims. "That's what we're missing. Good thing you managed to get one. Although, I know this part of the Echoes quite well by now, so I don't think we'd really need one. Still, it's good to have one on board, if we have to take a detour."
The wine isn't particularly good. Kind of a fruity sort of aftertaste to it. It's about as good as you can get in a town like this.>>691338
The soup is tasty enough, although they definitely use too much salt in this locale. You find it quite filling.
Violet doesn't seem to hear you at first, but then turns to you and smiles. "Yes, it just took me off guard is all. It's like they read my mind. I don't know if I believe it's magic, but… well, it's an interesting trick really.">>691340
You order some soup for yourself, and it is brought out not long after. They've probably prepared a huge batch of it in preparation for the evening rush of customers.>>691341
Violet downs the rest of her drink with a slight hiccup. You recall she'd ordered a drink earlier when you were in the bar for the first time. She looks a bit dizzy by now, but nods in approval. "Spirits! Good thinking. And yeah, go for it. No one will judge." She calls for the barmaid and orders some brandy for herself and for you, along with a loaf of bread.>>691337>>691338>>691340>>691341
Your idle chatter is interrupted by a sudden clatter and breaking of glass. A trio of minotaurs on the other side of the room seem to be bothering the barmaid. One of them grabs at her dress and causes her to trip, spilling all the drinks. Their table breaks into raucous drunken laughter. Violet just shakes her head at the display, pursing her lips. "Best… best not to get involved," she says in a low tone to you as the barmaid picks herself up. The innkeeper is nowhere to be seen.
"The exterminator has the map right now," Hermodur explains. "It should be safe with him. He's far more sane than I expected.">>691343
Hermodur's head slowly turns to watch the display after the sound of the breaking glass. He glowers angrily.
After Violet says to not get involved, he slowly pushes himself away from the table and silently crosses the bar to the barmaid. He extends his hand to help her up.
"Oh my, poor dear."
"Ah, but it's not my problem. The last
thing i'd want would be being roughed up by a minotaur, let alone three
of them." i mention, before returning to my meal.>>691344
Raising an eyebrow, i watch as you head over to help the mare up.
"There's definitely some magic to her cards, yeah." he remarks, as he digs into his own bowl of soup. He goes to say something more, but he's cut off by the excessive clatter and noise from the Minotaur table. He hums softly, before looking to Violet and cocking his head to the side "So, what's with them? Regular thugs, from the look of it?"
I look up at him and crinkle my nose when I catch sight of his hookah. Before I end up staring for too long, I rub the back of my neck and look around at his wares again. "Uh, yeah," I say. "Apparently exploring is pretty common around here. I was just wondering if maybe you knew what those explorers usually bought before an expedition? And if you had any other information or-" I clear my throat. "Well, anything. That'd be great."
Zunden lifts the tunic off of herself, placing it neatly in her satchel before moving to her chainmail. It gives a bit of trouble once it reaches her bony protrusions on her head, some of the chains snagging on them before she maneuvers a claw to remedy. After setting that on her lap, she looks to her gambeson, and shrugs.
"It will need to come off anywayz. Not az if I have anything zpecial underneath."
She unties the padded armor, taking off the cloth vest gingerly to not snag on her spine-coated body.
After placing the two in her satchel, she swivels around to look towards the minotaur table, just in time to see Hermodur approach it. She crosses her arms, interested in what he does next.
"No, don't-" Violet tries to stop you, but to no avail. The barmaid seems a bit wary of your help, but takes your hand, brushing the broken glass off of herself. She looks up at you gratefully, and is about to say something when the innkeeper yells something from the kitchen. She quickly hurries off to go see what it is, pausing briefly to look back at you.
The table of minotaurs goes silent. One of them gets up, the one that tripped her over. He is lean as minotaurs come, with dark brown fur. You notice that all three of them have tattoos on their forearm in the shape of a skull over two crossed axes. The minotaur sways in place as he looks at you, then over to your table, then back. "What you playing at then? Eh?" he slurs. "Trying to be a hero, kitty?"
"Just leave it, big guy," Violet calls nervously. "They're not worth it." The rest of the inn's gone silent as you face him down.>>691346
She shakes her head worriedly. "Those markings they have. They're with the Bloody Mummers. Big bandit group based up in the mountains. They usually don't bother any of the local villages, as long as they pay their dues. Seems like these ones are over-asserting themselves…">>691347
He just stares at you for a moment. "Huh. You don't look like an explorer to me…" Before you can respond, he digs around for a while before pulling out a large backpack. It includes two full waterskins, several packets of rations, a compass, a good length of rope, pots and pans, a blank journal, a quill and ink, a hatchet, and some flint and tinder. "Got everythin' you could need for goin' out and explorin' in here," he says as he thumps the pack onto the counter. "Except for tents. Those cost extra. If you want it, you can have it for… Eh. 25 bits."
"Oh he's gone and made a mess of things, hasn't he?"
"I'd best smooth things over before it gets out of hoof."
leaving the now empty bowl, i make my way past the onlookers to the minotaurs.
"Now now, i'm sure whatever my friend did he meant nothing by! A bit too concerned for his own good, you see, I'll be sure to talk with him back at the table." i assure the trio, stepping in between them and Hermodur.
[1d10+2] disarming talkRoll #1 2 + 2 = 4
Hermodur simply stares at the barmaid, unsure of himself. "You are not alone," he says quietly with a straight face to the barmaid as she turns back.
He then turns to the minotaurs' table. He stares them down angrily. Then, he takes a step towards the table so that he's practically standing over them.
[1d10+2] for intimidation
He reaches over the table and takes several napkins.
He turns back around and starts sweeping the broken glass into a napkin and uses the rest of the napkins to soak up whatever other mess may have been made.Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Hermodur does not respond to Silver. He continues to clean.
Rabi finishes his soup in short order, and casually reaches for his pack and his rune-carved bow. He's not doing much right now, but he's readying himself just in case the situation goes south.
Zunden grips her staff, thinking to intervene, before sitting herself back down and continues to watch the group.
25. H'm. Well, I'm sure that sounds right. I nod. "Okay," I say. "Sounds good." I pull the 25 bits out and set them on the counter. I don't remember anyone actually saying if I'd need a tent or not, though. "And I'm not, really. Just taking a little trip, I guess, and want to make sure I'm prepared. How much are tents?"
The lean minotaur looks over to you. "And who are you? His boyfriend?" The other two burst into laughter like it's the most hilarious and clever joke they've ever heard, thumping the table obnoxiously. The lean minotaur smirks at your attempt to defuse the situation, staring you down for a moment. Then, he grabs his own mug of beer and pours it over your head, leaving you drenched from head to hoof in cold alcohol. "Run along, little lady," he growls as the other patrons mutter in disbelief. "Before you ruin your pretty dresses even more.">>691351
The minotaurs don't look very intimidated by you. They snicker as you start cleaning up the mess. "Keep going like that and you might start getting paid for it!" one of the other drunkards pipes up, a short minotaur with a high, wheedling voice. They soon give you even more to clean up as the lean minotaur pours his drink on Silver. He doesn't take his eyes off you, as if daring you to lash out at him.
You see the innkeeper bustle out, looking anxious at the events unfolding. He makes no attempt to get involved. They all seem to be afraid of the minotaurs.>>691353
You finish the vegetable soup and reach for your weapon, just in case. It seems to be going from bad to worse.>>691354
You take up your staff. Violet shakes her head, nibbling at her hooves worriedly. "No," she mouths at you, even as the minotaurs keep abusing your teammates. It's likely that she doesn't want to pick a fight with these minotaurs due to their affiliations.>>691355
He silently takes the 25 bits and hands you the backpack. It's quite heavy. "15 bits each for a tent. Room for two in each one, or just one if you're really big, I suppose."
In a shocking amount of speed for a felid so large, in one fluid motion, Hermodur stands, grabs his hammer and turns with it outstretched. The hammer zooms straight toward the minotaur's skull who poured the drink on Siver Song. But, it stops short inches away from the side of his head.
He grimaces angrily at the minotaur. There is a crazed, murderous look in his eye. Mjolnir whirs angrily. The minotaur can feel its heat next to his head.
"Apologize to her. Now," he growls in a low, steady tone.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Zunden eyes Violet back,
"Zhiz iz not for fighting. I only brandizh it now becauze I'm afraid zhiz might end in me mending injuriez. And not juzt thoze who we'll be traveling wizh."
She takes a moment to bring her glowing orb out, letting it linger above her head as she basks in it.
>Frozen Light active, frozen spell counts as sun due to talent>Bask: Healing bonds
Rabi grips the bow a little tighter as they dump the alcohol over Silver, and he finally takes a chance to speak up "Come on now, everyone. Why don't we just step this down a little bit? We don't need to go wasting anymore drinks, or giving the doctor any unnecessary work tonight, yeah?"
His tone is rather level, even a little friendly. But, he won't conceal his hoof on his bow, or the slight, arcane glow it's giving off.>Diplomacy (Or intimidation, up to you): [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
stunned for quite some time by the sudden deluge of beer, i come to my senses fast enough to draw my daggers, diving at the offending minotaur!
I'll.. i'll SKIN YOU ALIVE for that!
" i roar, rage coming to a head as i slash wildly!
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"Silver- let it go, for now. No need smashing up the inn, yeah?" he suggests, standing up from the table and stepping over to lay a hoof on her shoulder
"We've got somewhere to be tomorrow- we don't want to risk that over some nobodies, yeah?"
"I simply Cannot
let such an action go unpunished! I've my honor to defend, Rabi!"
The minotaur winces and cowers as you pull out the hammer, but soon regains his composure. He grits his jaw and retaliates with a powerful punch to your gut that leaves you winded and reeling. >Hermodur takes 4 hits>>691359
Your words fall on deaf ears. All the minotaurs get from you is that you're looking for a fight, judging from your glowing bow.>>691358
Violet nods as you conjure an orb of radiant sunlight to lend you strength. "Let's just hope they don't do anything drast- oh." It all falls apart as a brawl breaks out.>>691360
You catch the minotaur off guard, giving him a deep cut across the cheek. Roaring in drunken rage, he backhands you hard, leaving you seeing stars.>Silver takes 2 hits>>691357>>691358>>691359>>691360https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LMZYnOml54
As violence breaks out, the other patrons start panicking and making themselves scarce, many of them leaving the inn or heading upstairs. The innkeeper yowls and ducks under the counter in case it gets worse. Violet hisses sharply in alarm and reaches for her sword, pulling out the telescoping hilt to turn it into a glaive. The minotaurs in turn prepare for a fight, raising their fists or grabbing nearby objects to use as improvised weapons.
The lean minotaur, who started the whole bloody affair, lunges to pummel Hermodur again.
The shortest of the three minotaurs with the high voice throws an empty tankard at Rabi's head.
The third minotaur, who is grey-furred and overweight, swings a chair at Silver.
Violet tries to maneuver behind the trio while you distract them, staying out of sight.Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
Blind with anger, i leap at the third minotaur with a dagger laced with toxin, aiming for under his ribcage!
[1d10] RuptureRoll #1 1 = 1
Hermodur stumbles back into a table behind him after he is punched. He begins to laugh, a grin spreading across his face. "Good."
He stands up and lifts his hammer toward the sky. "I am Hermodur Aput. I am the messenger of the great goddess Ailuros Bastet. Behold her glory and lament your villainous ways!"
As he makes his speech, his hammer begins to whir to life.
[1d10] for sharpenRoll #1 6 = 6
"I can attach an arm back to a body zat hasn't been zere for yearz. Only zhing I worry about is property damage. We juzt made zhoze bitz."
Zunden glances at Violet's patched eye for a bit, before casting a spell while the fighters are distracted, casting it without them noticing.
[1d10+2] Healing Bonds: our three 'heroes'Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
Rabi sighs a little bit, before quickly retrieving his bow and nocking an arrow. He pours some of his magic into it, and the arrowhead begins to glow a soft, blue-ish color as he releases it. >Ranged Attack (Knockout, Minotaur 3): [1d10+2] (+1 from Arabian Agility, +1 from Seeker Bolt)Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
You leap at him, but he knocks you out of the air by swinging a chair at you. The impact hits your both in the head and square in the ribs, sending you crashing painfully to the ground. you're seeing stars as you try to get back up from the powerful blow.>Silver takes 7 hits, helpless at 0/3>>691366
Your hammer comes to life in your hands. As you pose dramatically, the lean minotaur shoulder slams you, toppling you on your back. "Stay down, kitty," he growls. >>691369
The brute underestimates you, however, as your activate the healing spell Zunden had cast on you previously, rising to your feet. He looks dumbfounded at your resilience.>Hermodur is at 5/5>>691368
You fire an enchanted arrow at the white minotaur. It finds its mark; he stumbles and lets out a yelp from the sudden pain, dropping the chair and falling to his knees momentarily, weakened by your magic arrow. As you do so, however, the short minotaur lobs a steel tankard at you with surprising accuracy, hitting you right on the back of the head and making your head spin.>Rabi takes 4 hits>>691367
You start healing Silver and Rabi, revitalizing them and curing their ills. You also conjure another radiant orb near Hermodur.>Rabi is back at 5/5>Silver is at 5/4, no longer helpless
The fat minotaur is stunned from Rabi's arrow, sinking to his knees as he tries to get back up.
The short minotaur grabs a bottle and hurls it at Zunden. "Spells!" he shrills. "She's castin' spells!"
The lean minotaur heeds his advice, swinging a powerful fist at Zunden.
Still creeping up on your opponents, Violet is poised to strike at the short one. She motions for you to keep him distracted, while she aims to try and grapple him from behind.Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
Hermodur grins at the Minotaur. "You really should have apologized."
He swings his hammer back like a baseball bat and lets the rocket roar to life. He aims for the minotaur's chest.
[1d10+4] [1d10+4]>Take the bigger roll, DC-1Roll #1 6 + 4 = 10
/ Roll #2 3 + 4 = 7
battered and sent flying, my wounds are healed just as quickly, allowing me to get back onto my hooves.
sweeping up from behind the shorter minotaur, i sling a caustic fluid towards his face!
[1d10] BlindRoll #1 4 = 4
"I have no qualmz wizh you. You are making a miztake."
Zunden brings an unarmored (though still covered in spiky scales) arm up to block the fist, absorbing the blow and infusing her body with the portable sun.
>Spending Sun, no main action.
Rabi, in an attempt to end the encounter quickly, pops his Frozen Sun and shoots a bolt of volatile magic at the lean Minotaur. The bolt, while not bursting into flames, glows bright red.>Magic Bolt(Augmented by Elementalist(Fire)): [2d10+3] (+1 Frozen Sun, +1 Arabian Agility, +1 Seeker Bolt)Roll #1 9, 7 + 3 = 19
He's about to offer a smarmy response, but your hammer shuts him up. With an almighty smash, you send the braggart flying, crashing into a nearby alcove and cracking the wall with his imprint. He just lies there for a moment, regretting his life decisions, before pulling himself out of the alcove, looking at the minotaur-sized crack in the wall in disbelief.>>691373
You try and fling some blinding acids at him, but he manages to stumble out of the way just in time, retaliating by giving you a good kick to the ribs again.>Silver takes 1 hit>>691374
You manage to block his attack, the radiant sun healing your injuries instantly. Almost instinctively, you manage to duck just in time to avoid a bottle being hurled at you, smashing against the wall and dripping beer everywhere.>>691375
The minotaur lurches back towards the fight, but a smoldering arrow from you makes him reconsider. It hits him in the shoulder, and the latent fire quickly spreads to his back and head. Losing his nerve, he starts screaming in panic, running out of the inn in blind terror.
The short one goes to try and grab something else to throw at one of you, but Violet manages to grab him before he can do so. "Gotcha." She slices him painfully across the ankle, then grapples him with the haft of her glaive, pinning him by the neck. He struggles futilely, kicking and grunting in a vain attempt to free himself. The fat minotaur, having just seen one of his companions run off with his hair on fire and the other get hamstrung and incapacitated, rises to his feet puts his hands up, admitting defeat. "Alright, enough. Mercy. We'll leave you be." He has a very low, gravelly voice. "You're not worth the fuss."
"If any are wounded, come to me now. I would have prefered you all did zhiz outzide. Thiz iz a plaze zat feedz you and letz you rezt here wizh little fear of being ztabbed in the back. Treat the property and it'z owner wizh rezpect, regardlezz of who iz at fault."
Zunden brushes some of the shards of broken glass aside with her scaly feet, going around treating both friend and minotaur alike indiscriminately.
In between sobbing and rage, i quickly leave the inn the moment the minotaurs run off, galloping off towards the river to find a secluded area and wash my dress off.
"Behold her power. Behold her majesty. But, above all, behold her mercy," Hermodur says loudly across the room. "This is the power offered to those who are loyal and live their lives in devotion to Ailuros' code. You too can have this power if you repent your lecherous, sinful, hedonistic ways."
Hermodur marches to the minotaur and grabs him by whatever collar he has. He turns him so that the minotaur is between Hermodur and the door. He lines up his shot. "But, first you have to get what's coming to you."
"Anyone in the way had better move," he announces to everyone in the room as he winds up again.
[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>take better roll, DC-1Roll #1 2 + 3 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 + 3 = 6
Zunden walks in front of the Felid,
"You can enact divine punizhment az much az you want, but don't destroy ze zame plaze we're ztaying at. Did ze proprietor wrong you?"
Rabi nods shortly as he watches the minotaur run out of the inn screaming, and trucks his bow away as the second is incapacitated, and the third one folds. "Good decision, friend.">>691379
"Come now- I'm sure he's more than learned his lesson. Leave it at what was done.">>691378
His ears perk off and his words trail as the pegasus shoots out of the room, grabbing his pack and hurrying out after her. After catching up to her, he takes a moment to collect himself, and gently sets a forehoof on her shoulder.
"Already on it," he says dutifully.
"If he's had enough, he can run."
The minotaurs reject your offer. "Don't touch me, witch," the white minotaur says, shrinking away from you in suspicion.>>691378
You fly out towards the river, catching a glimpse of your reflection in the water in the process. You barely recognize yourself, but even under all the matted fur and dripping beer, that's still you. Welcome to the Echoes.>>691379
You give the out of shape minotaur a good, punitive wallop. He grunts at the impact, leaving a nasty red mark across his jaw. He groans, gingerly touching his teeth, some of which were knocked loose by your strike. After a moment, he gathers himself, and, after Violet lets the other troublemaker loose, the remaining two shamble out of the bar. Before they leave, however, the short one turns to you.
"You… pissed off the wrong folks, kitten. You, your friends, this whole rotten town, you're all dead, you hear me? DEAD. The Mummers will hear about this. Mark my words, mate, you're going to regret your little display." With that, the two make some obscene gestures towards you and the rest of your party before limping off to nurse their wounds elsewhere.>>691381
You join Silver outside of town, near the river. She looks a right mess in her sorry state.>>691377>>691379
As things begin to quiet down, Violet rejoins you, looking somewhat shaken, but otherwise unharmed. She's about to say something to you two, but is interrupted as a trembling but very angry innkeeper slowly pokes his head out from under the counter. He looks from one of you to the other, whiskers aquiver before pointing an accusatory finger at you. "You lot," he grunts. "You're paying for this. All of this. You started it. You help fix it."
"It iz our fault. Put a broom in my clawz."
Zunden says, nodding,
"You will help. Do you know how to zeal crackz in a wall? No matter, you will learn."
I look back at you, teary-eyed as I try and hold back sobs.
"R-rabi? You followed me all the way out here?"
"You shouldn't see me like this, i-I'm in quite a mess.."
"Just be sure to wait until I get back," Hermodur calls out to them as they leave.
He then turns to the innkeeper. "I started it?" he says angrily. "YOU started it! Maybe if you had the slightest respect for your employees, they wouldn't be harassed by patrons. You don't deserve to run an inn at all! The current state of this place is EXACTLY as it should be until you learn how to protect your employees from people like them.">>691385
"I refuse," Zunden says angrily.>>691387
Hemodur grabs more napkins and hands them to Silver Song. "I only regret that I can't help you further."
Ignore the last part.
"If the world harborz wrongdoerz and 'zinnerz', zhould you not deztroy the world? You are complaining about bad patronz in a plaze where EVERYONE iz a criminal. Wake up."
Zunden says, stomping on the Felid's foot.
"Be the change you want to happen, not more deztruction."
"I don't care about those idiots. I care about him," Hermodur shouted angrily, pointing to the innkeeper. "HE'S the worst thing I've seen in this place so far!"
Rabi sits down next to Silver, and offers a reassuring smile "I couldn't just let you go out here on your own, Silver. Besides, I don't like seeing you upset. Anything I could do to help, maybe?"
"Zhen zleep outzide, if ze man iz not built for fighting like you, don't expect him to pick fightz. Ignoranze izn't a good trait, but fervor can be worze."
"If the man can't fight, he shouldn't run a business in The Echoes," Hermodur shouts angrily. "At the very least, he shouldn't run a business which puts his employees at risk."
"But what's worse is that he blames them. Oh yes, I am ALL TOO familiar with this relationship," he says, looking at the innkeeper with disgust. "The poor barmare was just doing her job, then by no fault of her own, she is tripped. And, SHE is the one who is yelled at. ABUSE! COWARDICE! ARROGANCE! Is her life not already miserable enough? Must he make it worse?"
"Well i-i was going to try and wash off the beer, if you could turn around while I clean off that'd be lovely..">>691384
With rabi hopefully not peeking, I peel off my sodden dress and move into the water, trying to wash myself and the dress clean.
[1d10] wash upRoll #1 2 = 2
He just grunts and goes to the back for a moment, returning with a wooden trolley full of cleaning equipment: brooms, mops, dustpans, buckets, sponges and the like. "Get cleaning." Violet is more than happy to oblige, starting to sweep up all the bits of broken glass, being careful not to step in any of it. She has a grim look on her face.>>691388
He glowers at you, arms crossed. "You insolent nitwit. How dare you. Do you even realize what you've done? You're lucky I'm even letting you lot stay the night after the trouble you've caused. Now the Mummers are going to be breathing down our necks, taking over the whole damn town like they did with Shady Banks. Now get cleaning, or you can sleep outside with the Prowlers.">>691395
Unfortunately, try as you might, you can't get all the stains out of your dress. Unless you can either clean it even more than you already have or find a wizard who can make them magically disappear, that dress will be the way it is for quite some time.
>pausing>feel free to reply and/or keep talking in character
"Yez, if you are a criminal who waz thrown in here for anyzhing ozher zhan killing a pony, zhen you zhouldn't be allowed to have a job. You are zhick and zelf-righteouz. Ze barmaid did not dezerve zhat, but guezz who'z job it iz to clean the mezz you made ozherwize."
"No no no! Oh these stains are never coming out!"
Scrubbing vigorously, I give up, sulking in the river as the water flows by.
"Sure." the Saddle Arabian replies, looking away long enough to let her peel off the dress, and standing a little closer to help clean it out a little
"So… is the dress special? You seemed a bit more upset about it than I would have expected.">Cleaning: [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Hey, hey, calm down. Let's just give it another try, hmm? Nothing wrong with giving it another go." he adds, giving her a soft nudge
"There are other solutions as well," Hermodur barks back. "He could hire protection. He doesn't have to fight himself. But, he has no respect for those who work for him. So, he's cheap and lets his labor suffer. And, when they make him look bad they get punished."
"I should tear this whole building to the ground. Then I'd have nothing to clean!"
"SHE'D have nothing to clean…" he corrects himself. "This- that's- bah!" he shouts angrily and storms out of the building.
You help her clean the dress in the river. With some extra wringing, you manage to get the worst of the stains out. They're still there, but barely noticeable to the naked eye.
"My dress? Why it's an old one from home, would have fetched quite the price before this whole banishment thing."
Busy scrubbing, I missed you coming closer until you started cleaning the clothes, surprising me as I splash away from you, covering myself with my wings.
"Gah! Rabi! Where are your manners! You can't simply join a mare in her bath, it's indecent!" A stammer, blushing brightly.
"There we go…" the Saddle Arabian says, before holding his bow and focusing. he creates a small fire, and gestures to it before saying "There we go. That should help it dry soon-Agh!" he shouts. hopping away from the mare and turning to look away "A-Apologies, Silver. It wasn't my intent to intrude in that way. I just wanted to make sure you were alright, and help clean the dress. I can head back to the tavern, if you'd prefer to finish up here on your own."
"Actionz have conzequenzez. Whezher or not ze are morally zound!"
Zunden shouts to the leaving Felid, looking to Violet.>>691396
"I acted out when I could have handled a zituation differently and it got me exiled and my boardhouze, a home to ze deztitute, burnt to the ground. Ze cat iz like a child, and haz never had known rezponzibility."
she works alongside Violet, keeping a similar face to that of the pony.
Zo I digrezz, I met him zhiz morning, I zhould not feel rezponzible for him already, even if he zwore hiz allegianze to me. Honeztly. I ztill apologize on all of zheir behalf, even if I know none of zhem."
she forces herself to chuckle, despite her attitude,
"Ztill, it zobreing, no? I didn't even get a drink."
Rolling my eyes, I sit back down in the river as I try and clean my fur with my hooves.
"I suppose you can stay, you did help me with the dress after all, but no peeking!"
"..as to why that dress is important, it was one my last before that dreadful falling out with my father that landed me here, in the echos. It reminds me of not being here."
Rabi nods, and turns to look away from the pegasus. He flicks his ears a little as she speaks up, taking a moment or two to respond.
"I… see. I can understand why it'd be important, then. I suppose the most sentimental thing I've got would be the bow. I never really had much to my name, but the bow was something I worked on myself."
"A pony with only a bow to his name, quite unfortunate indeed." I reply, rinsing my mane and tail in the river.
"It's not so bad now, surely. You've friends in Hermodur and zunden, and I'm here for you as well.."
"We'll find some way out of here, I'm sure of it."
"Yeah. Oddly enough, this's been going better than I thought it would've… I've found some pretty good company. Thanks for the talk, Silver." he says, giving her a pat on the shoulder when she finally finishes up "Now, let's head on back, yeah? We don't want to give them too many ideas.~" he teases, flicking his tail a bit and chuckling.
"Oh, true! First that foray into the bandit camp, now this river bout? Why they'll think we're some sort of item, us two!" I laugh coyly, slipping on my dress when you've got your back turned.
Hm. Fifteen is over half of what I have left, and I still have to pick up food. I take the backpack and grunt as I sling it over my shoulder. Damn. I'm not sure I could actually carry a tent too, anyway.
"I think I'll be fine," I say. "Thank you."
You exit the building in a huff. As you do so, you see the barmaid coming out of the other end of the building. She has forgone her working uniform for a simple hooded cloak of the sort many travelers wear. She seems fixated on moving towards a nearby house, presumably hers. As she sees you exit, she hesitates in her tracks for a moment before nodding in acknowledgement before continuing toward the house. She looks troubled.>>691405
You get to work cleaning the inn alongside Violet. Mercifully, there isn't too much work to do. The worst of it is the large, noticeable cracks in the walls, and there is next to nothing you can do about those with what you have at your disposal. However, you soon get to work cleaning what is there, righting the furniture, sweeping the broken glass, and mopping the floors.
Violet nods as you speak to her while you work, looking somewhat wooden. At your apology, she merely shrugs. "You shouldn't apologize, friend. It's not your fault any of this happened. You're not responsible for any of their actions," she answers as she wipes a long trail of beer off the wall. "Although, that Felid fellow, he certainly is an odd one. He has a lot to learn. Needs to get his head on straight, really."
She doesn't return your chuckle, looking somber. "Those Mummers… The gang those drunks were a part of… They have a lot of influence around these parts, or so I've heard. Extort the local villages now and again, but mostly keep to themselves, unless one of their own gets killed or wounded. I don't even want to know what they're going to do next," she muses. "At best, they'll send their goons after us. At worst…" She trails off. She seems to dread the idea of the Bloody Mummers cracking down on this settlement.
It isn't long before you're finished, the work having gone much faster between the two of you. The innkeeper has little reaction, save for a satisfied nod, but he still looks understandably frustrated. He seems to resent your presence in his establishment.>>691409>>691410
You head back to the inn. It looks like Zunden and Violet have been hard at work cleaning the interior, as there's hardly any signs of a fight having taken place by now. The most obvious signs are some glaring cracks and indentations in the walls, as well as some tiny, harmless bits of glass here and there on the floor. The innkeeper doesn't seem happy to see you, and gives you no greeting save for a low disgruntled sort of sound.>>691411
"Suit yourself, man," the crocodilian shopkeeper drawls, and goes back to smoking his hookah.
As you keep browsing the local goods, revealing naught more but a few trinkets and keepsakes, you suddenly hear the sounds of yelling and fighting coming from the inn. After a while, A lean, brown minotaur barrels out with his hair on fire, soon followed by a short black minotaur with a nasty limp and an overweight white minotaur nursing his jaw. It seems like your newfound companions have gotten into quite a scrape.
I look up at the inn exit and knit my brow as I watch the minotaurs burst out of the inn. Well. Narrowly avoided that little scuffle. While I'd hoped I could find more stuff to buy, I settle on the pack and its contents and head back towards the inn. I couldn't have been gone more than, what, fifteen, twenty minutes and they're already brutalizing the locals?
"Yez, I am familiar with exztortion, me being a property owner in a zeedy part of town, I waz well aware of the grip zhoze type of groupz can have."
She sighs, setting her brush against the wall,
"Fortunately, when you harbor criminalz and people who have nozhing to live for, zhey end up protective of zhoze who will have zhem. Zhoze exztortioniztz kept away after one of my patreonz cut off their memberz earz in the night. Courze, I never told anyone to do anyzhing, but I cannot ztop people if zhey value the home I gave zhem zhat much."
"Would need a charizmatic leader to pull ze zettlement togezher to ztand up againzt a group of banditz like zhat, or a few warriorz whiz a deazh wizh. Zeemz zhere are a few zhat fit ze latter requirementz, if you zhink we zhould make zure zhiz zettlement is ztill here by time you're done with our exzpedition. I don't know if you're ze type to have a conziouz, zhiz iz a land of criminalz after all, but I wouldn't want a bar fight leading to innocent people lozing their pozzezzionz and homez due to people who don't even live here. Talk about conzequencez…"
She looks out the window, nodding about Hermodur,
"Az for the cat: Yez, I'm learning zhiz. He'z eizher deluzional or being in what I believe waz a cult haz left him wiz a… poor underztanding of conzequencez. For exzample, you do not cut ze throat of zomeone juzt becauze zhey cut you in line. I digrezz, hopefully he learnz about grey, now zhat he iz no longer living in a world of black and white."
shuffling my hooves, i clear my throat as you set down the broom.
"Ah, uh.. terribly sorry about that little outburst
from earlier, it seems i let my temper get the best of me. That and i really had to wash off before the stains set in. You understand, right?" i sheepishly ask
"Oh zure, I underztand. Ze town won't onze zhoze minotaurz burn it down zhough."
Zunden says, making direct eye contact with Silver, though softness still in the gaze,
"We will have to do zomezhing about it, you know. I perzonally like zleeping in innz, not zmoldering remainz."
"Oh my, so we've got quite the dilemma on our hooves, don't we?"
"If flaying open some ruffians is ample repayment for the brawl, i suppose i'll have to oblige. Question is, just where
do these fiends lurk?"
Hermodur sits against the outside of the building with his arms crossed. He nods back silently, then looks down.
"I hope you were able to clean up alright without us." he offers, before looking to Zunden>>691848
"Hmm. I'd had a feeling it was going to be something like that. Well, do we know much more about them? Despite being brutish, of course."
You join the rest of the group inside the inn, with your newly acquired traveling gear. The inn is mostly empty now and there are signs of there having been a struggle, but by the time you enter it seems most of it has been cleaned up by your companions. Everyone is present save for Hermodur. Violet nods at you in greeting, eyeing your hefty pack. "Been busy shopping, I see. What did you get for yourself?">>691845
She nods as she makes her way back to the alcove where she was sitting, gathering her belongings. "That makes sense," she comments when you tell her of your experiences. "If all they'd have is a boarding house like yours, then they'd want to fight for it, tooth and nail. I can only hope the residents of this place have the will to fight back against the Mummers, when the time comes."
At the suggestion of returning here, she seems to have reservations. "I don't think that would be a good idea. We've attracted enough attention as is. This might sound harsh, but there's no sense in acting the hero, not in this place. Not unless you have a death wish. There's plenty of other towns in the Echoes. This one isn't worth risking my neck for."
If you wish to return to this place, then that'll be your own path. Don't get me wrong, I like you and your group well enough, but I don't plan on sticking with you forever. Just long enough so you get your bearings in this dump. After that, I'm going my own way."
"A cult?" she parrots, looking alarmed. "Well, that explains a lot. The poor sod's probably been indoctrinated since birth. You be careful with that one, friend. I know I will.">>691846>>691851
Violet hails you silently as she resumes her seat after finishing cleaning. Her previously bright, optimistic attitude has been replaced by a somewhat gloomy demeanor.>>691849>>691851
She shakes her head. "As I was explaining to Zunden here, you probably don't want to get any more involved than you are already," she warns. "Best to keep out of trouble. We have enough to deal with as it is with this trip coming up. If I were you, I'd put it out of mind for now and finish up with the shopping before they close up, as well as any magical items you want to see to. You made quite a lot from the crest job, didn't you?">>691850
You brood for a while, barely noticing Norvegicus walk by and enter the tavern. After some time, you see the barmaid pop back out of the house, carrying some full saddlebags and a large coinpurse. It seems she's intent on leaving the town for good after the incident.
I look around the inn. Well, it's definitely in better shape than I expected. Looking over at Violet, I adjust my pack and clear my throat. "Well," I say, trying to recall everything. Finally, I decide I've properly recalled what the lizard man said. "I thought some stuff would come in handy so I bought two full waterskins, several packets of rations, a compass, a good length of rope, pots and pans, a blank journal, a quill and ink, a hatchet, and some flint and tinder. Oh, and the pack itself."
"Hmm.. fair point. I'd imagine one scuffle won't burn the village down, and we do
have that expedition to get to.."
"while we're deliberating i should really pop off to the store and gather supplies, no sense waisting daylight after all." i finish, motioning towards the door with a wing.
slipping out the door, i make my way to the market stalls, searching for the supply shop further in.
"I zee, well zhen,"
Zunden turns to the others here,>>691849>>691851
"We will have to avoid burning more bridgez nexzt time, yez?"
"And simply brush off such a terrible chain of events? I'm not one to simply accept an attack on my honor!"
"And i can certainly
guarantee apt revenge on those same three from earlier, should we ever cross them again. Perhaps not right away, but once the moment presents itself."
Rabi seems a little conflicted, but doesn't say much else on the topic. He grabs the rest of his gear, before heading to the door and nodding a little bit to Violet "Right. I'll get that sword checked, and grab a bit of supplies.">>691857
"With class acts like them, I'm sure they'll more than give us the moment."
"Wait, revenge? Uh, what did I miss, exactly?"
Hermodur watches the pony leaves. He considers calling out to her. He considers telling her not to leave. He considers staying and protecting the town from the bandits. But, something stops him.
Hermodur sighs and decides to cut his losses. He lets the pony go. A new world, the same injustices. He's all too familiar with these sorts of things for it to make him make more mistakes than he already has. One day, he and Ailuros would fix this world too. But, until then, he and the rest of the world would have to endure.
"You have no nobility here. You are an outcazt, juzt like everyone elze. Any titlez or honor you have had in ze pazt are gone. It'z time to ztart from the ground up. If you want to make enemiez, make friendz firzt."
"Three simply awful
me, in front of the entire tavern! Not to mention emptying their drinks on my head and nearly ruining my dress!"
"With my honor at stake, there really is no other option than to do away with them, clearly." i reply matter-of-factly, nodding.
staggered by your response, i recover quick enough to tilt my head away with a "hmph!" before heading through the door.
" i mutter on the way out, steaming.
drinks? On your head?" I shudder at the thought. "Gross. 'doing away' with them might be a little extreme, though, isn't it?"
"I'll have to greaze ze door hinge at ziz point az well."
Zunden huffs, rolling her eyes.
"Of course not! surely you heard violet? These minotaur are part of some bandit band or other, more than enough reason to rid this place of them!"
"I've simply tacked yet another reason onto their list of grievances done to the townsfolk, and if I
were to extract revenge from a noble act, all the better!"
Hermodur spies Silver Song as she also walks out of the bar in a huff.
"I'm sorry that happened to you," he says glumly.
She nods in approval, smiling. "Sounds like you're packed to the teeth then. That's just about everything you could need. Well, the basics at least. Shame it doesn't come with a tent. I think I have one or two packed away. Might have to share with the others.">>691857
Violet looks perturbed by your insistence, her one eye meeting your two. "Look," she says sternly, "this isn't the Dominion anymore. There's no one here that hasn't done something to deserve being here. That includes me, and most likely you. There's no honor to be found here. You'd be a fool to go chasing it. If I were you, I'd just let it go. You might have the chance to go after those three at some point, but don't go throwing your life away because of their affront. They're not worth it." >>691858
You go towards the local wizard's shop, a large, wooden building shaped like a chess rook. A rickety sign above the door reads "Petrefax's Magical Menagerie". The interior is what you'd expect a magician's abode to be like. It is cluttered and messy, with many tomes and scrolls heaped about the place. Many curios can be seen lining the shelves of the store: glowing crystal orbs, samples of odd plants, a pot full of staves in one corner, and a large supply of potion-making tools such as mortars, alembics, scales, cauldrons, etcetera. A chalk board behind the counter has a list of services provided:>Scrolls - 5-15 bits (one time use of any spell skill)>Healing potions - 10 bits (automatic; recover full hits and one wound)>Magical readings and identification: 20 bits
A little bell rings as you enter, and soon the shopkeeper Petrefax shuffles out. He is a bent old Felid with brown and black fur, striped like a tabby cat. He wears large, round spectacles that seem to have several other lenses attached to the rims, that can be flipped down to allow for closer inspection. "Hm? Oh, yes, hello there, traveler. What can I do for you?">>691855
You have a look around. Most of the shops and stalls seem to be closing up, seeing as the sun is soon to set. You do, however, make your way towards a large stall, run by a hookah-smoking crocodilian, which has the following equipment for sale: >camping equipment - 15 bits each>torches and lanterns - 6 bits/bundle, 12 in a bundle>fire-starting kits - 3 bits>oil lanterns - 8 bits >rope - 2 bits for 10 meters>medicinal herbs and poultices for light injuries - 5 bits (automatic, heals full hits but no wounds)>shovels - 3 bits>saddle bags and pouches - 9 bits>spyglasses - 8 bits>hunting knives - 6 bits>>691860
You watch her leave. She seems to hesitate before doing so, but strengthens her resolve and trots off down the path, to places unknown. You can only hope she arrives at her destination safely.
You see Silver and Rabi exit the inn, the former looking a bit flustered. It seems there's been some conflict within your group recently, along with your argument with Zunden.
"Oh. Actually I, uh, didn't hear that part.">>691867
I sneer and pointedly look away from Hermodur.>>691868
My sneer fades and my stumpy tail wags as Violet compliments me. "I mean, I can still buy a tent. I have enough. I just thought it might be a little-" I adjust my pack again. "Well, a little heavy."
taking a breath, i smooth out my dress with my wings before approaching the stand.
"Ah, yes, hello there, I was hoping to ask if you had some advice on the essentials of camping? I've been tasked with gathering supplies for a trip, and it seems we'll be buying what we need on our own. What do you recommend?"
Zunden sighs, seeing half the party leave again,>>691854
"How have you been, Novegicuz? It'z been a long day, eh?"
the lizard giggles,
"You're a zight for zaurian eyez after that encounter."
Hermodur groans angrily and then leaves. He doens't know where he's going. He just needs to go for a walk.
[1d10] to find something interestingRoll #1 3 = 3
"Heh, yeah, I guess so." Honestly I'm not sure what Zunden means about 'Sight for saurian eyes' but I don't comment. "Just doing what I was good at, I guess. It was nice. Kind of an anchor in all of this surreal-" I wave my hand in the air, gesturing all around me. "well, this."
"Hrm…" the saddle arabian hums, before picking out a couple of scrolls (Homing Magic, Astral Projection) "I'll take these, and… a magical identification if you can. I'd like to get this sword checked out, since it feels like it's got something to it." he asks, holding out the ceremonial blade.
"Well, I've been zurrounded by criminalz for mozt my adult life, zo I zuppoze I have an anchor too. Do you drink, perchanze?"
Zunden says, taking out a few wineskins,
"Don't zhink we'll be able to order anyzhing now, but I have zome watered down wine, and a zmidgeon of brandy."
I cock my eyebrow and look over at Violet and back to Zunden. "Do we have time to sit down and have a drink? Seems like everyone is doing something." I guess the saurian and the saddle arabian have been the nicest besides violet so far, so I guess actually getting to know them a bit doesn't sound so bad.
"I'm not zhopping, you've already done yourz. All we have to do iz zurvive until the morning and leave. I'd razher relax while I can."
Zunden reclines in her chair,
"Not zat ze ozherz are making zat eazy."
"Actually yeah. Relaxing for a little bit sounds kind of nice." I walk over, set my cage on the ground, and slip my pack off my back, dropping it beside my cage. "Yeah, sure. Why not?" I sit down.
"True, true," she says. "Then again, I do have a cart, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem if you do decide to buy one. Again, as long as one of your companions buys at least one we should be fine. They can usually fit two, maybe three.">>691870
The saurian regards you lazily, taking a long drag from his hookah and blowing it out through his nostrils like a dragon. "You with that weird Dog with the red coat or somethin'?" You assume he means Norvegicus, but he doesn't expect an answer, instead beginning to dig around his stall. "You'll be needin' somethin' to start a fire, I'd reckon. And a tent. Maybe one of these as well…" He brings out a disassembled tent, a hunting knife, a fire starting kit, and an oil lantern. "This should do you good, missy. That'll be 32 bits. Could knock off some from the price, if you've got anythin' worth tradin'.">>691872
You start pacing around Ironbrook aimlessly, going out towards the southern end of town, back the way you came. There's a small hill there that you go up onto, where you can get quite a good view of the surrounding area, all the way back to the beach you woke up on. Looking north, you can see the mountain Violet mentioned a while back, Mount Alken. It is far away enough that it doesn't appear on the map you received. It is part of a long mountain chain, which may be the mountains indicated to be surrounding the Shifting Sands where you are headed. Looking eastwards seems to be a long stretch of forest, while to the west the landscape seems to give way to marshlands. This might be the edges of Durenwol Fen that the map mentions. It seems quite far. Southwards is the beach, while to the south east is a long stretch of arid land, dotted with ruins. For some reason, looking at that area makes you uneasy. These are presumably the Barrens that Violet spoke of, where she found the clues leading her to the Sands.>>691874
Petrefax nods in understanding, flicking down a few of the lenses before placing both paws on the flat end of the silver blade. He runs his paws up and down, peering closer at the sword. "Hrmmm… It is old. Quite old, in fact. I couldn't date it, but at least a few decades. It has an enchantment… Hm. It appears this was used to open and close some sort of portal. For Banishment, it seems. But you probably already knew that. I'm afraid… Wait… There's something else here… Hrm. Quite peculiar, this sword. It seems to have absorbed some magical energy from repeated use in Banishment rituals. To the ensorceled creatures of this land, this blade will be anathema.">Banishment Blade: single; deals +2 extra hits against Prowlers
He takes his paws off the sword and flips the lenses back up. "That's all these old eyes could glean, I'm afraid. But I must say, that sword is quite a catch. Take good care of it, and it won't betray you in turn."
Zunden tosses a wine skin to the dog, taking the top off another one for herself,
"Ze wine is hardly alcoholic. It'z moztly for ze clean water. You might get a buzz if you drink ze whole thing, but beggarz can't be choozerz."
Zunden shrugs, taking a gulp of the low quality wine.
"Alright, I might try to do that before we leave, then.">>691880
I lift my hands to catch the wineskin but fumble it, just barely managing to keep it from dropping to the ground. "Yeah, I don't really drink all that much anyway." I gesture towards her with it. "Thanks." I uncork it and take a sip.
As you chat with your companions, the innkeeper lumbers over to you, holding a notepad. It seems the barmaid is absent. "So, you guys want anything or what?" He looks at you expectantly.
"Ah, I didn't want to bozher you anymore zhan we already have. Two zhotz of brandy, and uhhh…">>691881
"I azzume you won't be having anyzhing? We're both meat eaterz, if you want to zpit a meal."
"Sadly no, i've yet to find much to trade just yet, a new arrival, you see."
not wanting to push my luck chatting up a saurian, i open my coin pouch to sort out the bits for the supplies.
I look up at the innkeeper and back to Zunden, shaking my head. "No, I'm good, thank you."
Hermodur stares out the land, contemplating its empty nature. There's so much, yet so little places to live. He wonders where the pony might go. He wonders where the bandits will come from. He imagines how things might be if it were all more peaceful.
Hermodur begins to imagine colonizing the land. He pictures all the things he and Ailuros could do with everyone under her hoof. They'd make a clearing in the forest and build her mansion there. They'd start a port town on the beach. There'd be a massive military outpost in the mountains: a reminder to everyone the power that looms over those who commit misdeeds. The town would be stretched out along the river. It would reach even here. On this hill, there'd be a shrine to worship Ailuros and thank her for the peace she has graced everyone in her benevolence.
He imagines the prison, overflowing with fools who refuse to obey. He imagines the glorious torture that awaits them: all the ways to change their minds and take up a peaceful lifestyle. In his mind, he can see the graveyard; it is a mass of mounds of dirt. There are no head stones. There are no memorials. They do not deserve them. They are all those who died attempting to resist her. The field remains there, at their final battlefield as a reminder of the fate that Ailuros had tried to avoid but is all too glad to repeat if she must.
Hermodur smiles. He is at peace with his thoughts.
Rabi strokes his chin a little bit, and hums thoughtfully. He passes the 30 gold over and tucks the sword and scrolls away, before smiling "Now, that'll be handy. Thanks!"
With that, he heads to the markets.>Buying: Fire Starting Kit, Spyglass, Camping Equipment (26 Bits)>>691884
"Hey, Silver. Found everything you needed so far?" he asks, giving a giddy smile "Turns out this sword we found is something special, friend. It strikes harder against the beasts in this land. I don't have much use for a sword, so I can give you this one if you think you could make use of it."
"Excellent news, Rabi! But you've no use for it?"
"I suppose i could hold onto the sword, perhaps it may be useful, eventually."
"As for supplies, this kind saurian here helped me pick out some camping supplies for the trip. Fire kits, a tent, that sort of thing."
Rabi chuckles a little, before shrugging "Between my magic and my arrows, I don't have as much use for a sword- I figured you, or one of the others could handle it a lot better than I could."
He just grunts noncommittally and takes the money. "Thanks, love." The gear is a bit awkward to carry, but you can make do.>-32 bits>>691883>>691885
"Right then." He trudges off, returning in time with the two shots of brandy Zunden requested. He places them in front of you and holds out a grubby paw, expecting his payment. "There. Twelve bits.">>691886
As you contemplate the landscape while the sun goes down, your thoughts turn to Ailuros herself. You wonder what has become of her since last you saw her, and where she might be. You can only pray that her efforts to reshape the Dominion have not been in vain. The Dominion was founded on a lie, venerating the false idols of Luna and Celestia. A complete social reform is the only way for it to be saved.
The sun sets, and you see the moon on the horizon. You notice that it is much larger than in the "real" world. Taking up a huge portion of the horizon, it looms portentously over the night sky. The patterns on its surface are also different somehow. The stars, too are in different arrangements than you've ever seen. You wonder if it's possible to ever reach them.
Down in the village, lights begin to appear in the windows, illuminating the surrounding area. The shops begin to close, and Ironbrook's denizens return to their homes. >>691887
"Ah, cheers," the saurian shopkeeper says as you buy some supplies for the trip. He starts happily counting out the coin he got from you, Norvegicus and Silver.
As it gets dark, he turns and heads back into town and back to the inn. He finds a place to sit in the front/porch of the inn.
"Oh! seems we've let the time slip by, Rabi."
"We'd best hurry back to the tavern, before they close for the night.">>691890
with a wave of my wing, i lug the camping tools back to the waiting tavern, taking in the night sky on the wandering trot back.
"Zhank you again."
Zunden puts 15 bits in the bartender's paw, She peers through the shotglass and at the brown/amber fluid, before downing the shot.>>691885
"Zo zhen. What now? Juzt gonna zettle down zomewhere now that we're… here? Or looking for a way out?"
Zunden shrugs again,
"I have not given it much zhought myzelf, juzt wondering if ozherz have."
"Hmm, it has. I'd wager we should hurry back as quick as we can." he says, before hefting his own supplies and returning to the tavern
"Did violet mention renting a second room for us? I recall her paying for the one i bargained for, though i suspect there won't be enough beds for the five of us."
"Hrm… I wager we could get another room between the five of us, if needbe." he offers, before shrugging "Though… I don't remember if she said anything."
I sigh. "Yeah, I guess I haven't really thought about it either. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do after this 'expedition' thing. Right now I guess that's it. After that I might look into maybe starting my business back up. Seems like people around here need pest control too even though the pests are a little… Well, a little different." I look down and twittle my thumbs. "I think the worst thing would be just not having anything to do, y'know?"
try and convince the innkeeper to lend us another room, though i'm certain we'll find some sort of arrangement."
"The tavern was spacious enough, surely the bedrooms can accommodate a few over capacity?"
"Yez, I waz in a melancholy for about a year after I left my home, doing nozhing iz zomzhing I would like to avoid doing az well. Ztill zho, I don't know what fate haz in ztore for me."
"I guess we'll see!" he comments, before nodding a little "And, even if they're not the most spacious, I bet we can make do."
You observe the night sky, taking notice of the size of the moon. It is several orders of magnitude bigger than the moon back home, and it along with the stars look different otherwise. >>691893
He looks at you suspiciously for a moment before accepting the small tip, pocketing the money and going back to the counter. The brandy tastes strong and fiery, but has an unpleasant sickly sort of aftertaste.>>691891>>691892>>691895
You all reconvene and head into the inn again, where Zunden, Norvegicus and Violet are still sitting. Violet acknowledges you with a simple nod in your direction.>>691891>>691892>>691893>>691894>>691897
"Now then, you all have a room for the night, right?" Violet asks, although she already knows the answer. "Although, I don't think you'd all fit in the one room, would you. Hm. If any of you are willing to share, my own room has a spare bed as well. Even then, unless you're willing to rent out a third room, it looks like at least two of you would have to sleep on the floor… Hm…"
"Hrm… how much is a room? If it costs a little too much, I can just take the floor."
"I would not mind zharing a room wiz you, but I'm content wiz ze floor if ze ozherz are more needy."
Zunden downs her second shot, letting out a yawn,
"I tend to take napz in ze zun anywayz."
"Well, I guess we'll find out. For now we have something to focus on.">>691901
My tail beats against my coat tails and I perk up. "I can share with you."
I look down. "Oh, yeah. I guess that would make more sense."
"Zhen it'z zettled, I can zleep nexzt to ze floor incaze we are awoken by bovine banditz."
"If it helps, I'll sleep outside," Hermodur offers as he raises his hand.
*next to the door
I grumble and look away. "Didn't notice you came back."
"Do you have something to say?"
"I'm sure we can make due, though I've yet to actually see
the room we rented. It'd be best to see what we're working with first."
"And as much as i'd love
to take the bed, i suppose i could settle for a cushion or two, if need be.."
I grumble again and cross my arms but don't say anything.
"Sleeping outside?" he ass, stepping a little closer "No offense meant, friend, but I wouldn't recommend that. I've got no clue if those minotaurs would come back, but one of us sleeping outside alone would be easy pickings."
"20 bits, I think," Violet answers. "A bit pricey if you ask me, but I guess he's got to make a living somehow.">>691904
She seems a little taken aback, then amused by your eagerness. Your attempts to get her attention don't seem to have gone unnoticed. "Well, alright then. As long as you don't snore too loud," she says with a smirk.>>691906
She blinks in surprise. "Suit yourself, I suppose. Can't imagine that'd be too comfortable, but if you don't mind I won't get in your way.">>691907
"I'd have to agree with Rabi. That's not a good idea. You're likely to get jumped sleeping outside, if the Prowlers don't get to you first.">>691911
You head upstairs and to room 4, as the innkeeper says. Unlocking the door with your oversized key, you find that it's slightly grubby, but could be far worse. There's two plain beds set up, as well as a tattered couch, an old drawer and an empty wardrobe. There is little in the way of decor, save for some slightly wilted flowers. It looks like a previous customer took a bite of them at some point. A door to the side reveals a small, damp little privy with a large uninhabited cobweb in the ceiling, and not much else.
"Hmm… Silver? Think you could talk it out, or should we save the rest of our money?"
"There seems to be a couch and two beds!" i call down from the upper hallway "Seems we won't have to make much room after all!"
"Even better! Let's settle for that, then!"
I smile and nod. "I don't snore that badly," I say, before looking away and thinking for a moment. "At least I don't think so. Never actually had a second opinion."
"Well now, as first in here i guess i'll take the beeed!~" i playfully call down, before hopping onto one of the plain beds.
Rabi chuckles a little bit, and makes his way up shortly after "The couch will do fine, for me! I'd rather not fight over the beds."
"Oh hush, i'm sure they won't mind if you help yourself to the bed." i assure you, waving it off with a wing.
second in, after all."
Zunden sits next to the door cross legged, letting out a sigh as she crosses her arms, her bags clutched underneath her.
"Very well, I will sleep on the floor, then," Hermodur compromises.>>691912
"Your anger is unnecessary and unappreciated," Hermodur says in return.
"I guess it's "beneath you"." I slide the wineskin back too Zunden, stand up, and pick my pack and cage up. "Anyway, it's getting kind of late."
"Then I guess we'll see," she says simply, her playful smirk not leaving her face. "Whenever you're ready to rest, I've booked room 7." With that, she excuses herself and heads upstairs for the night.>>691919
You find the bed's mattress slightly stiff, and the sheets rather thin and worn. Still, it's better than sleeping outside.>>691920>>691922>>691923
You head upstairs. The room isn't much to look at, but it'll have to do.>>691920
You get comfortable on the couch. Ironically, it seems to be more comfortable than sleeping on the beds, although your leg slips through a large gap in it as you get settled. You'll have to get used to that during the night.>>691922
You sit in a meditative pose and try to get comfortable, wondering what the morning will bring for you all.>>691923
You try to find a spot to sleep on the floor, but your size makes it difficult to do so. There is a spare bed, however, that either you or Zunden could use.
I nod. "Seven. Right. Thank you." I adjust the pack on my shoulders. "So, I guess I'll just go ahead and head there then?"
"Zhank you. Get zome rezt now. Bickering can come later."
Her reptilian maw lets out a yawn, adding the wineskin to her pile of possessions in her lap.
Hermodur will make the floor work somehow and let Zunden have the bed.
"Hmm.. Admittedly more than i expected, yet less than i'd hoped. I suppose it will do."
pulling myself under the covers and out of sight, i carefully slip out of my dress before folding it neatly and placing it on the drawer. Drawing the sheets up to my neck, i lay down for some sleep.
"Sleep well, everyone." i mumble, before i push my head into the pillow.
Rabi finds the leg slipping through more than bearable, and after taking off his clothing and armor, dozes off rather quick himself "Mmm. Sleep well."
Zunden doesn't budge from her position, shooing Hermodur with a claw dismissively.
"Why?" Hermodur practically whines.
With no response from her, you eventually head upstairs and into room 7. It seems to be more or less the same as your companions' room, albeit with a painting of a pretentious looking pony noble on one of the walls.
Violet has already taken off her coat and eye patch and is getting ready for bed, although she turns her head to spare you the disagreeable sight of her empty socket. She seems tired from the day's events, and speaks little to you save for bidding you goodnight.>>691928>>691931
It takes some slight shifting, but eventually the two of you manage to find workable positions to sleep in for the night.>>691929>>691930
You make yourselves comfortable, making the most of your meager lodgings. >>691926>>691927>>691928>>691929>>691930https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkxXifynPmA
It is not long before you fall asleep. It has been an eventful first day in the Echoes for all of you. You have made new friends and new enemies alike, encountered and learned of the monsters that inhabit the land, earned an impressive sum through honest work then spent a large portion of it on supplies, and are now poised to set off on a journey into unknown lands. You can't help but wonder what the future holds, and whether any of you will see your homeland again.
Dawn breaks. You hear unfamiliar birds calling as the sun begins to loom. You all feel relatively rested, although a bit stiff and from your cramped, suboptimal surroundings. Zunden and Hermodur especially feel less rested than everyone else, due to having slept on hard wood.
Violet is one of the first among you to wake, eventually knocking on the party's door. "Come on, time to get going," she urges. "We've got a lot of ground to cover today. The sooner we get out of Ironbrook the better. I'll meet you all outside." With that, she goes back downstairs and exits the inn, presumably preparing the cart she'd mentioned earlier.
"I have already made my mind up about zhiz. It iz better I be the firzt to encounter ze minotaurz if ze come back. I would not try to bazh their zkullz in az zoon az I zaw zhem. Bezidez, I did no fighting.">>691933
Zunden stays true to her previous comment (before the brawl) about being an early riser, though that may be because of the sleeping on the floor as well. She's already sat herself outside, basking in the sun's light with her eyes closed, unmoving.
Rabi rolls out of 'bed' with a soft yawn, and picks himself up off the floor shortly afterwards. It doesn't take him all that long to get geared up and ready to go, joining Violet outside in short order "Right. Hopefully it stays cooler. Travelling in the heat can be difficult."
stirring from under the sheets, i slowly stretch out a wing to drag my dress under the covers, taking the time to slip the still serviceable garment on, before throwing the covers off.
"Mmm, morning everyone." i mutter, hiding a yawn behind a wing.
hopping out of the bed, i pull the covers back into place before heading downstairs.
"Very well," Hermodur concedes before he goes to sleep on the bed.>>691933
Hermodur wakes up unnaturally immediately upon violet's wake up call. He follows Violet downstairs.
"May I assist you with the packing?" he offers.
I head to room seven and unload my stuff. After removing my topcoat and peeling my undershirt off I lie down and curl up. I glance over as Violet prepares for bed, tryng not to be creepy about it. I briefly wonder what exactly took her eye, but even I know that's not something you just ask. I close my eyes, and before long I drift off to sleep.
Sunlight filters through my eyelids, and I squeeze them tight to try and block it out. I groan and squint, pulling myself to my feet and stretching my back out with a long yawn. Yep. Wasn't a nightmare.
Standing up, I notice that Violet is gone. Guess I can't be that surprised she left before me. After some morning grumbles, yawns, and tummy scratching, I pull my shirt on and tuck it in before slipping my topcoat back on, pick up my pack and trap, and walk out to the enterance.
"Sleep well, Rabi? that couch looked a tad.. unstable."
"Hmm? Leg hung through, but it was surprisingly cozy. I was pleasantly surprised, actually. What about you, Silver?"
"Was the room too cramped? I'll be honest, I didn't expect it to just be me and Violet."
"Oh it was quite alright, the sheets were unfortunately thin however, left me with quite the chill."
"Ah, but nothing a ride through the countryside won't fix!"
As you are already outside, you hear Violet calling to your companions before joining you outside. "Oh! Good morning, reader," she says, clearly surprised at finding you up and about already. With that, she heads off, and you hear her return soon after. The trundling of wheels suggests she has affixed herself to the cart already.>>691937
"Hm? No, no, I have everything under control," she replies. "But thanks for offering.">>691935
"Oh, the climate around here is fairly easygoing. There'll be plenty of heat when we get to the Sands, don't you worry.">>691934>>691935>>691936>>691937>>691939
You all gather outside of the inn with all the equipment you've gathered thus far. Violet is standing with a cart filled with miscellaneous materials for the road ahead, all of which are covered by a thick cloth to keep them affixed. She is holding a paper bag full of apples, which she offers to the group. "Breakfast, anyone? It's not much, but we'll have to keep rations low. It's five days from here to the Sands minimum. Depending on what happens along the way, it might be up to a week."
>map link: https://mlpg.co/q/src/1514728193836.jpg
"Now then, from what I know there's three routes we could take on the way to the Sands:
"There's a route that leads us northwest, which would take us through the swamplands on the border of Durenwol. By doing so we'd be both avoiding the attention of the Bloody Mummers, and passing through Black Pudding's outpost. He's a sorcerer of some renown around these parts, although… Well, let's jsut say there's bad blood between us. If we do take that path, I'll have to keep a low profile."
"There's also a northwestern road that'd take us through part of the Barrens, as well as the Celestial Woods. The Woods I don't know too well, but the Barrens are essentially a mass grave ripe for plundering. Odds are we'll run into other treasure hunters, as well as more undead than you can shake a holy tome at. The Mummers will probably be slightly more active in that area, which leads me to option number 3."
"The last path heads straight north, past the Standing Stones and past the Tower of Joy. I'm fairly certain the Tower is where the Bloody Mummers are holed up, so that's potentially the riskiest option, but also the fastest. The other two would be detours."
"Personally, I'm leaning towards the second option. But what do you think?"
Zunden nods to Violet, not opening her eyes but acknowledging her,
"Ze Norzhwezt zoundz like it haz the leazt conflict along ze way. Bezidez, I would like to zpeak to a zorcerer, one that izn't ze friendly neighborhood type."
"Hmm? Not particularly. We all fit alright." he says, shrugging>>691943
"Hrm- I suppose you're right! Let's just hope it stays nice and warm." he chuckles, before looking to Violet>>691944
"The second option sounds like a safe bet- I'm more than capable of dealing with undead, at least."
I take the apple and listen to Violet. When she finishes my eyes light up in understanding. "Oh!" I say. "They're [I]called[/I] the Bloody Mummers. I thought they were called the Mummers and you were just cursing them every time you said their name." I chuckle and adjust my backpack. "Anyway, doesn't the first option sound like the best? Or is the blood really bad? I don't know who the 'Bloody Mummers' actually are-" I rub the back of my neck and look away. "I think I might have missed that explanation at some point, but they sound like some kind of bandit group or cult or something, so wouldn't avoiding them all together be best?"
I knit my brow. "I'm not. I don't really like the sound of undead at all, actually."
taking a seat with the apple, i block my chewing with a wing as i weigh the options.
"I suppose dealing with the undead is preferable to trudging through a swamp, and we do
have the advantage over mindless bodies.."
Zunden nods with the dog,
"Why zeek conflict? We are not in a ruzh. Novegicuz haz ze right idea."
I look over at Violet and shrug. "Then again, Violet is the most experienced here. Maybe she'd know best?"
"I'm not saying I'm wanting to go looking for a fight, but I'm not really sure if we could all sneak through the first passage. In terms of the third one, we'd be dealing with more capable, sentient enemies- that can be harder."
"To be fair, Violet does not seem too keen on the first option. If she's okay with it, then so am I. Otherwise, 2 seems like the best compromise."
I grumble and look away from the stupid cat. "I said it first."
"That could work, i had thought the second path easier to work with anyway."
"I'm agreeing with you!" Hermodur says, exasperated. "If there is something you'd like to get off your chest, you'd best do it now. T'would be unwise to let such maliciousness fester on the road."
"Hermodur's right- while we don't need to be friends, we need to be willing to work together. This place is far too harsh to go solo for long."
My scowl sofens a bit, but I keep looking away. "You said my job -my life- was 'beneath you'," I say. Actually it sounds kind of stupid and petty now that I say it out loud, but it still hurt! "I know it was just a casual comment, but somehow that made it worse. Like something you scrape off your boot and forget about."
"Well, Durenwol isn't exactly the most pleasant of places either," she explains. "Prowlers aren't the only monster in the Echoes, and the swamps are a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty things. And Pudding himself isn't exactly one for conversation. Not to mention the swamp itself is easy to get lost in.">>691946
She nods in agreement. "We'd probably run afoul of the Mummers if we went that way regardless. Still, I'd rather risk that than walking into the lion's den.">>691947
She looks at you with confusion. "…Oh, that's right, you weren't here for that. They're a pretty nasty group of bandits that operate in these parts. The party had a run-in with a few of them at the bar yesterday, and they're probably going to be coming after us. So that's going to be fun." >>691949
"Not in numbers we don't," she warns. "The Barrens seem to be a mirror to many such places in the outside world. A sort of mishmash of different burial customs. It's just ruins and blasted waste. There's good treasure there, but getting through the Barrens would be hard work.">>691953
"Well, the first option would just be… difficult for me. But I can manage. I'd just have to avoid the sorcerer's attention. I've crossed him before, and he has every right to be angry with me.">>691945>>691946>>691947>>691949>>691953
"In any case, we have plenty of time to decide. Before we decide which way we go, we still have to get through the forests. Now come, let's get going. We can discuss this on the way." With slight effort, she starts moving the cart onwards, beckoning you to follow behind her as she sets out to leave Ironbrook.
Hermodur's attitude instantly lightens up as well. "Is THAT all?" Hermodur responds, almost laughing. "I thought this had to do with the inn!"
"My dear Chimera, I am sorry for the confusion. I did not say that such work is beneath ME. On the contrary, elimination of threats and bothers for my Goddess is the entire reason I exist. What I said was that the destruction of vermin was very much beneath Mjolnir."
"And, I stand by that statement. 'Tis a holy weapon bestowed upon me by a most gracious goddess," he says as he holds up his weapon and admires it. "To have it sullied by such base creatures is… borderline blasphemous."
"I'm sure this is a notion you can appreciate and agree upon. One such as you must use various tools for your trade, yes? Some tools simply should not be used for certain ends. That is all."
My shoulders fall slack and my crossed arms loosen. I clear my throat, dreadfully aware of how silly I probably look. "Oh. Yeah, I guess that does kind of make sense," I say. "No reason to put a bear trap down to catch mice."
My arms fall to my side and I sigh. "Alright," I say. "I forgive you." Still a dumb brown nosing cat though.
Previously, the party set out on their journey towards the Shifting Sands, with the adventurer Violet Moon as their guide. According to her, there are three routes they could take to reach their destination:
The fastest route leads directly north, cutting straight to the Shifting Sands. However, this would take them through territory occupied by the Bloody Mummers, a notorious gang of bandits who have exerted their presence in these parts of the Echoes. The party have already crossed them before when they got into a barfight with three of them, and the Mummers will surely be on the lookout for them. This path would also take them to a place called the Standing Stones, which seems to be an area of mystical significance.
The second route takes them northwest, on the borders of Mummer territory and into a tangle of ruins called the Barrens. According to Violet, they are absolutely crawling with undead, but are also ripe with treasure to be looted. The path is also technically still in Mummer territory, so it is likely that they would encounter them here as well, although less so than if they were to take the northern path. This path would also take the party through a region known as the Celestial Woods; although Violet knows little of the place, the name suggests it is of religious importance.
The third option is the longest way around, and would lengthen the party's journey; however, it would also be the safest, avoiding the Mummers altogether. It would, however, take them into the land of Durenwol, an expanse of swamplands presided over by the sorcerer Black Pudding. Violet has mentioned that she has a rough history with Black Pudding, and would need to keep a low profile and therefore not be able to assist the party as often; it is, however, a perfectly viable option, and an encounter with the Druid of Durenwol could prove profitable for you all.
Before they choose their path, however, the party must first make their way through the woodlands outside of the small town of Ironbrook.
Violet leads you onwards out of town and towards the woodlands as the sun begins to rise. You cross over the bridge and pass Humboldt's cottage, where Hermodur, Norvegicus and Zunden routed a cockroach infestation yesterday. It is not long before you are traveling on the path through the woods. The sun is shining through the canopy, bathing the woods in a warm orange glow. The trees are tall and resemble umbrellas. They have thick light grey bark, streaked with lines of dark red. The ground is marked clearly by a cobblestone path, but much of it is overgrown by gnarled weeds and creeping vines. You can hear the faint buzzing of insects, and the distant calling of unfamiliar birds. Violet says little during your little trek, humming to herself idly.
Eventually, you come to a fork in the road, where you can hear the trickling of a stream close by. A nearby weather-worn sign points toward Fort Cinder. Rabi and Silver recall this is where a trio of thieves are holed up. Between the five of you, you could potentially rout them and even take some of their spoils for yourselves. Violet, however, seems interested in going off the path. She cranes up, holding up one hoof to signal you to stop. She begins to sniff the air curiously with a slight frown. "Smell that?" she half-whispers.
Indeed, there is a sweet smell in the air, a delicious sweet aroma of fresh fruit, almost like ripe peaches. "Sleeper Orchard nearby," she says. "If we could get some of those fruit, they'd fetch a fine price if we do visit Pudding. …Where there's an orchard, there's always an Orchard Keeper, though. It's up to you, but we'll have to be careful. Those birds are real tough."
"I've wanted to learn about ze cuizine of ze land, zo i don't zee why not. I don't mind a detour."
Zunden walks between the patches of sun that occasionally peak through the trees, humming contently despite the land being foreign.>Bask: Healing Bonds
"Orchard Keeper? Some kind of bird native to this land?" Rabi asks, stroking his chin "It might be worth making an attempt, at least. Maybe one or two go in, try to grab a few, and duck out?"
He also takes a look over Fort Cinder, trying to gauge the thugs inside to see what they've got on them>Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"I suppose we could detour for some fruit." i reply from my seat on the card. "Though we did
eye some bandits in the fort further in. It would depend on whether you prefer fighting fools or fowls." i finish, stifling a laugh with a wing.
"Birds? Are Orchard Keepers animals or people?" Hermodur asks as they leave the path.
You bask in the sun's radiance, drawing newfound energy from the dawn and channeling it through your staff. Its end begins to glow with golden light. Violet squints a little at the sudden light.>>692613>>692616
Violet shakes her head. "Don't be fooled," she warns. "Sleeper Fruits aren't for eating. They taste delicious, but one bite of one and you'll fall asleep in a heartbeat. Their juices make for a great poison because of it.">>692615>>692620
She nods. "They're like cranes of some sort, or storks. We call them Orchard Keepers because they're always found around Sleeper Tree orchards. Animals get lured in by the fruit, eat it and fall asleep. Then the Keeper gets them, and whatever's left fertilizes the trees. It's a twisted sort of relationship they have."
You go down the path to Fort Cinder, but can't tell much from where you are. You can't hear the thieves, so they're probably inside right now. "Hey, don't go too far," Violet calls to you. "Easy to get lost in this place.">>692620>>692613>>692615>>692616
You follow Violet off of the beaten path and towards the source of the smell. She uses her sword to beat away the tangled weeds and occasional spiderwebs. The rushing water you heard before become louder the further you go, and the smell stronger.
Eventually you reach the Sleeper Orchard. It is an idyllic looking place at first glance. The stream you could hear opens up into a large glade, the rocky ground below being covered in a blanket of clear water. Growing from the water are several drooping trees resembling willows, but with much shorter branches. Lining these branches are huge, bulbous fruit resembling golden pears, about the size of a pony's head. The sweet smell wafting from them is intoxicating. There's no sign of the Orchard Keeper Violet mentioned, for now.
She motions for you to hang back for a moment. "Let's grab what we can and get out of here. And try not to make too much noise." With that, she starts stalking through the orchard as quietly as possible, making her way to one of the Sleeper Trees and picking out three of the fruits.
>roll for either harvesting the trees or perception
"So, these trees occur naturally?" Hermodur asks with his arms crossed as he looks around cautiously. "I don't like this place. I will stand watch."
He looks around quietly, his arms crossed and a concerned scowl on his face.
Man, fuck computers. [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"Interesting.. I was in the market for something more potent than my current stock, perhaps i should try harvesting some!"
trotting up to a nearby tree, i fly up to a nearby branch to start picking one of the ripe fruits from the branch
[1d10] HarvestRoll #1 9 = 9
"Poizonz you zay. My late zizter, blezz her heart, would be zhrilled to learn of new reagentz."
Zunden forgoes casting to use her bipedal nature and size to reach up and delicately handle the Sleeper Fruits, putting them in her cloth satchel.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Just taking a look, friend. Not taking it much further." he remarks, before folding back and rejoining the rest of the group.
Rabi hangs back for now, keeping his eyes peeled as he looks for any signs of the Orchard Keepers mentioned by Violet. As much as he'd like to nab a fruit or two himself, having a couple people keeping watch is important.>Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
She nods in response, but doesn't say anything for fear of alerting the Keeper.
As you stand guard, you hear a faint rustling in the undergrowth. Before you can investigate, however, you feel a sharp, painful pierce right in the square of your back. The sudden blow knocks you to the ground, landing face first in the shallow waters.>Hermodur takes 5 hits, helpless>>692624
"Well, not lethal poison, but it'd even knock out a dragon, I'd imagine. If we do visit Pudding, he could probably make it for you. For a price, of course."
You pick the largest and fattest Sleeper Fruits you can find. They are quite heavy, and you struggle to carry them all.>Sleeper Fruit x4 acquired>>692625
You manage to pick one of the fruits. Trying to take a second, however, you fumble as it drops off the branch, splatting to the ground messily.>Sleeper Fruit x1 acquired>>692626
You don't see any sign of the Orchard Keeper. You do, however, notice a grim detail in the shallow water. Many of what you at first assumed were rocks are not rocks at all, but bones of the Orchard Keeper's previous victims, half-buried in the mud to be almost indistinguishable at first glance.>>692624>>692625>>692626
Suddenly, you hear a loud splash from behind you. Hermodur has fallen over, and standing behind him is the Orchard Keeper itself. It is surprisingly large for such a stealthy creature, about twice the size of an average pony. It has long legs and a snakelike neck, with a needle-sharp, bright orange beak. Its plumage is predominantly black with white streaks, and its small beady eyes are bright yellow. Violet cries out in alarm as the beautiful but deadly bird stalks towards you.
Without warning, it suddenly lashes out, running at full speed towards Rabi and lunging at him with its fearsome beak.
[1d10+3] PeckRoll #1 3 + 3 = 6
Hermodur gurgles in pain and distress as he falls face-first into the water. He pounds his fist angrily against the bottom of the creek bed as he gets up.
"Cowardly wretch!" he roars angrily.
[1d10] to get upRoll #1 4 = 4
"Oh my! That's hardly
hopping down from the tree, i set the fruit at it's base for safety and leap behind a tree, trying to avoid it's line of sight.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 8 = 8
"Pezky bird. Get up cat."
Zunden says, holding her staff out and sending out three orbs of sunlight.
>Healing Bonds: Frozen on Zunden and Violet, Standard on Hermodur
[1d10+2] Bask'dRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"I-I agree with Silver here! I don't think that's much of a bird!" he shouts, jumping back to try and put some space between him and the Orchard Keeper. He'd wonder how it snuck up on them so easily. but he's got more important things on his mind right now, as he channels and fires a bolt of dark, purple energy from his bow.>Elemental Ammo (Dark): Target deals X-less (X=Their roll-5) damage next turn>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Correction: I can't read
You try to get up of your own accord, but to no avail.>>692629
You take advantage of the sudden commotion to fly out of the orchard and into the nearby undergrowth, staying out of the Orchard Keeper's line of sight.>>692630
You heal Hermodur's injuries, revitalizing him and giving him the energy he needs to stand up.>Hermodur is back at 5/5
You conjure two more healing orbs, for yourself and for Violet as well.>>692631
You manage to tumble out of the way, but not quite fast enough. Its lunge grazes your foreleg, leaving a nasty injury on your shoulder.>Rabi takes 1 hit
You nock and draw a magical arrow, but the Keeper manages to move at the last moment, making your shot go wide.>>692628>>692629>>692630>>692631
The Orchard Keeper flaps its wings slightly, wheeling to face you all again. It rears up and swipes at Zunden now with its webbed clawed feet, trying to grab her.
Violet gets out of its range and starts circling it, extending her sword handle out to form a spear again, trying to get a good angle to pin it.Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"Could you keep zhiz bird off of me? I'm trying to pick zheze fruitz here."
Zunden ducks behind a tree, ignoring the bird to pick more fruits.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Rabi winces a little as its beak cuts a little into his foreleg, but manages to tumble out of the way. With a little more breathing room, he takes a chance to try and better aim, and fires off an arrow-shaped bolt of flame at the Keeper's side >Elementalist (Fire): Harder time recovering (DC+1), burns flammable targets/parts of the environment>Magic Bolt: [1d10+2] [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 4 + 2 = 6
(Hitpool corrected, apologies)
creeping up towards the bird, i drip a blue sleeping solution on my shivs before leaping out of cover, aiming my blades at the creature's exposed side!
[1d10] Sleep SerumRoll #1 8 = 8
"I'm on it, my-m-milady," Hermodur stumbles over his words as he gets up.
He grabs his hammer from his back and raises it in front of him. He flicks the back of the hammer like a lighter. It begins to glow and whir. He glares at the bird as he does.
>Hunter's Eye on the Orchard Keeper
He activates the magic within the hammer as it gets louder.
>Sharpen [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You try and pick another Sleeper Fruit, but are forced to drop it in order to dodge the Keeper's grab. It watches the fruit tumble to the ground, tilting its head slightly. If anything, your harvesting seems to be drawing its attention more.>>692635
You manage to shoot the Keeper in the thigh region. It flaps urgently as it begins to catch fire, ducking down into the waters in order to put it out. >>692637
You manage to shank the Keeper in the side. It falters and hops away from you, but to your surprise, the poison does not seem to affect it. It twists its neck around to face you, hissing angrily.>>692638
Your hammer whirrs and rumbles, but then sputters out, much to your chagrin.
The Keeper seems entirely focused on Zunden, pecking at her several times in succession.>[1d10+3]Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6
Zunden raises a brow to the bird, defiantly picking another fruit as she turns her back to the bird, letting her scales and chainmail absorb the blow.
picking [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"Come on, don't fail me now," Hermodur grumbles as she shakes Mjolnir a little bit.
>Sharpen [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Surprised as the bird remains standing, i leap back in shock
"W-what? Still standing? That was enough Midnight oil to fell a buffalo!"
shaking the shivs clean of serum, i apply a coating of clear liquid to the blades before chasing after the bird, circling to face it before slinging the excess fluid at it's eyes!
[1d10] BlindRoll #1 1 = 1
"Goodness. Things here sure are resilient!" he comments, nocking another arrow and firing it into the creature's thigh, hoping to capitalize on the burned region>Ranged Attack: [1d10+1] (+1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
I cock my eyebrow when I hear the mention of poison. I've been considering making some more as long as I'm here. Especially If I'm going to be getting back into pest control. I gulp when I see the angry bird. Birds can be some of the most aggressive home invaders, and it doesn't look like this one is any different. I place my cage on the ground, crouch down, and focus on it.
Summon rat x2 (DC+1)
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Both your chainmail and your natural scales protect you from the Keeper's pecking, doing little more than leaving you slightly bruised but unharmed. You manage to pick another Sleeper Fruit, but this one is smaller and somewhat shriveled in comparison, and probably not as effective a poison.>Overripe Sleeper Fruit acquired>>692641
As you give it a shake, your hammer roars to life, shaking dangerously in your hands before calming down somewhat. The Keeper's attention is drawn by the sudden noise.>>692642
You leap out at the Keeper, trying to blind it; however, your attack misses, and you are left staring down a very angry bird. It regards you for a moment before lashing out with a powerful peck right in the side, knocking you over like Hermodur before you.>Silver takes 5 hits, helpless>>692643
You manage to shoot it just above the hipbone this time. It staggers and flaps wildly as it tries to get its footing, letting out an eerie foghorn-like bellow.>>692644
Two extra rats come skittering out of your cage, sniffing about curiously.
The Keeper tries to grab Hermodur this time, swiping with its webbed claws.
Violet is poised to throw her spear, signalling to you to buy her just a bit more time.Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
I scratch one on the top of the head. "Sorry to ask you to do something as soon as you come out, guys, but I need you to take care of something." I crouch down even further, just above them, and point to the Orchard Keeper. "I need you to take care of that for me. You can even eat it if you manage to kill it."
The rats squeak and sniff at the air for a moment before darting at the Orchard Keeper.
I try and skirt around the bird to hopefully get at some of the fruit.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 8 = 8
sent sprawling into the water, i try and get back onto my hooves!
"Oof, quite the bite to this one, careful it doesn't snap at something important!"Roll #1 6 = 6
Zunden sighs, clearly not having much luck with fruit picking. Basking in the sun once more.
>Bask: Healing Bonds
"Cowardly parasite of a bird, you chose the wrong prey this day. You will hurt these people no more. You shall meet your reckoning by Mjolnir! Behold its glory!"
As Hemodur finishes monologueing, he runs at the Keeper. Once he is just in front of it, he stomps his foot (paw?) down and swings back the hammer. The rocket roars to life, and the hammer slams directly into the chest of the (presumably) hollow-boned animal.
[1d10+3] [1d10+3]>take the better roll, DC-1Roll #1 5 + 3 = 8
/ Roll #2 6 + 3 = 9
Rabi hisses in annoyance, and nocks another arrow. He fills the shaft with light and fires it at the Orchard Keeper, hoping that they finally manage to bring the beast down>Elemental Ammo: Radiant (Blind, DC+2 to hit)>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
Both of your rats hesitate before scurrying at the Orchard Keeper, aiming to strike. However, they are no match for the gigantic waterbird. With a twist of its long neck, it pecks and stomps them both into submission. One of the rats is still able to fight, but the other is too badly injured to do so.>Rat 1 is at 0/2>Rat 2 is at 0/1
While the Keeper is distracted, you manage to grab some of the Sleeper Fruits for yourself, making do with two particularly ripe looking specimens. >Sleeper Fruit x2 acquired>>692647
Despite your nasty injury, you manage to get back up, ready to keep fighting.>>692649
You take a moment to sunbathe. Energy flows through you and into your staff once more.>>692650
Your hammer meets its mark. With all your might, you smash the Keeper with your hammer. It falls to the ground and flails about in pain for a moment before righting itself and retaliating furiously. It flaps up awkwardly and grabs you by the shoulders, pushing you down into the water. You hit the back of your head on a rock in the process, leaving you seeing stars. The air starts leaving your lungs as the Keeper keeps holding you down.>Hermodur takes 5 hits, helpless>Hermodur is grappled; after a successful helpless recovery, must roll an additional success to break free>>692651
Your arrow clips the Orchard Keeper's wings, flaring up in its face. It twists and stumbles about in sudden panic, hissing.
Violet takes the opportunity to strike, hurling her spear into the Orchard Keeper's wing, pinning it down. It struggles angrily to get free, but to no avail. Unfortunately, it still retains an iron grip on Hermodur, trying to drown him. "Finish it while we can!" Violet urges, galloping over.
Bubbles erupt uproariously around Hermodur's face as he roars in anger and pain. He pushes his way back out of the water.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
I catch the Orchard Keeper brutalize my rats out of the corner of my eye. One looks like it's in pretty rough shape and it's breathing pretty heavily. Without even thinking about it I drop the fruit, pull my dagger from my belt, and charge the bird to keep it from hurting them any more.
The less injured one tries to stand up.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
soaking wet but mostly intact, i splash through the water towards the thrashing bird with both shivs drawn, slashing at it's exposed body!
[1d10] MeleeRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Zunden sends out three orbs again, all of which bursting on contact with their intended targets.
Healing Bonds: Rat 2, Hermo, Silver
[1d10+2]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Rabi lets out a bit of an excited whinny as the spear pins the now-clipped wing down to the ground, and takes a chance to aim a little better. He focuses a bolt of flame into his arcane bow, and looses it at the Keeper's head!>Elementalist (Fire)>Magic Bolt: [1d10+2] [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #2 2 + 2 = 4
The Keeper keeps holding you down. It is much stronger than it looks, and despite your best efforts you cannot shake it. Your lungs feel like they're on fire.>>692654
You swing at the big bird as best as you can, giving it a heavy gash across the chest. It looks like its breathing is starting to slow down. Your rat squirms as it tries to get up in the water, but fails to do so.>>692655
You charge at the fallen Keeper, only to slip and land in the shallows. You find yourself face to face with a pony's skull buried in the silt and mud. It leers back at you. Your jaw aches from the landing, but other than that you're okay.>>692656
You channel your healing magic into the targets, revitalizing them. Silver's injuries fade, and the rat manages to right itself in the waters. As for Hermodur, he feels a newfound burst of energy, but is still pinned down by the overgrown heron.>Rat 2 is at 3/3>Silver is at 5/5>Hermodur is at 5/5, still grappled>>692657
Your shot goes wide and hits one of the nearby Sleeper Trees, loosening several of its golden fruit.
The Keeper manages to pull itself back up eventually. It is fatally wounded, flapping its good wing awkwardly and limping about in an effort to right itself. Nevertheless, it remains standing on top of Hermodur, and takes a slow, clumsy swing at Norvegicus with its beak.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Very well, Keeper of the Orchard," Hermodur says as he struggles against its talons. "I acknowledge your strength and skill. But, no one can stand up to the might of Ailuros. And, her might is my own!"
[1d10] to break freeRoll #1 2 = 2
I grit my teeth and stab at it again, intent to keep its attention away from my rats.
The second rat stands up and shakes off, but hesitates to attack the bird that felled it so quickly. The first rat gives a weak squeak, trying to stand again.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
"Stars above, just die already. I feel bad for it, more than anything." Rabi comments, before nocking and firing another arrow >Ranged Attack: [1d10+1] (+1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
stumbling back onto my hooves, i continue to kick up water as i splash through the shallows to reach the bird.
popping the lid on my toxins kit, i fish out my red vial to prep my blades, before diving towards the bird with a poisoned shiv!
[1d10] RuptureRoll #1 8 = 8
Feeling things are sufficiently dealt with, Zunden goes back to picking fruit.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You try to speak, but it just comes out as garbled bubbles. Despite your newfound strength, you fail to push the giant bird off of you. Water starts filling your nose and mouth, and you find yourself slipping in and out of consciousness. Your head feels light.>Hermodur loses 1 wound>>692660
Your rat struggles to get up in the slippery rocks and bones. With a single, swift motion, you stab the creature in the chest. It flaps wildly in panic, trying vainly to bat you away.>>692661
Your shot merely grazes the already ailing creature, clipping its broken wing.>>692662
Your blade strikes at its breast, piercing the Keeper's heart. It struggles momentarily, then goes limp, crashing to the ground for good.>>692663
You manage to harvest four more of the forbidden fruits: two ripe, one overripe, and one small, pale, rock-hard one, presumably not ripe yet. You find it difficult to carry so many of them at once, but somehow you manage.>Sleeper Fruit x2 acquired>Overripe Sleeper Fruit x1 acquired>Unripened Sleeper Fruit x1 acquired
Violet reclaims her spear and telescopes it again. She looks almost sad at having had to kill the Orchard Keeper, but soon gets back to work, taking one more Sleeper Fruit herself. "That should be more than enough," she says, trying to adjust her bags which are bulging with fruits by now. "…I think Orchard Keepers like to decorate their nests with trinkets from their prey as well, so if you want we could have a look around and see if we can find it. Might be something worth claiming. Otherwise, we should get going."
"Hrm… I'd say, we go ahead and make our way back down the road towards Fort Cinder now. As good as searching for the nest would be, we already have a rather decent haul. Don't want to spend too long here." he comments, grabbing one or two of the ones he accidentally knocked off the tree, if they hadn't been gathered already
"Or what, zhe bird might come get uz? Ze problem haz been dealt wizh, it'z wazteful not kill and not uze every part of it. In zhiz caze, ze nezt iz an exztenzion of zhe bird."
Zunden says, putting the fruits in her bag in order of ripeness (unripe at bottom, over at top).
"I would ideally like to carve it up too. I wonder if it haz a zoporific effect like turkey doez."
As the bird dies, Hermodur finally lifts his head from the water. He stares down at the creak quietly. Then, he stands up and turns to look at the dead bird on the ground.
"You put up a valiant effort," he says to the bird respectfully.
Then, he returns his hammer to his back. The flame goes out and it becomes quiet.>>692663
"My apologies," Hermodur says with a bow. "I failed to provide much aid. The beast took me by surprise and I was unable to regain the upper hand. I will endeavor to improve."
sighing, i shake my still wet mane away from my face. "Oh i knew
i should have packed a brush, my mane is a mess
trudging through the water, i make my way back to the fruit i gathered earlier, balancing them on my back with my wings to steady them.
"We'd best get these back to the cart, there may be more of them on the way."
"Erm.. We do
have a place to store these, right? I fear most of these will rot otherwise.."
"It iz alright, we are all ztanding in zhe end, and I ztill got zhe harvezt I wanted."
I hold tight to the Orchard Keeper as it topples to the ground, hyperventilating. My stomach drops as I consider the brutality I actually just managed. Yes, I've killed animals before. A lot, actually, but those were pests. Home invaders. I gulp and study the creature. Isn't that what we are right now? My mind immediately shoots to my rats and I slosh through the water over to them, leaving the dagger in the bird. I lift them and cradle them in my arms, shushing them. "Sorry guys," I say. "I don't-" I start to say that I don't know what came over me, but I guess I do. I did what everyone else was doing. I close my eyes and carry the rats back over to my cage, easing them in. "Rest up, guys. I'll let you back out when things cool off a little." I pick the cage up and it glows with a faint white light, summoning them. I sigh and walk over to the two fruit I dropped, picking them up in my arms.
"Not to worry, friend. It look vicious… and particularly interested in you and Zunden. Rather focused, I guess.">>692666
"Fair point, but we're not sure how 'alone' we are out here. Though, if there's anything of value to be had of the Orchard Keeper, then, sure. It'd be best to make as much use out of it as we can."
"Still, it is shameful for me to struggle against such a base creature. Especially when someone asked for my aid."
"It's quite alright, Hermodur. I'm certain none of us would have fared quite as well, at least. You look quite alright for somepony nearly drowned a moment ago!"
"It's nothing," Hermodur frowns. "You needn't concern yourself with me."
You manage to gather two of the Sleeper Fruits. They are the only ones in good condition, the rest having been bruised or simply splattered when they fell.
"Fort Cinder? Why would we want to go there?" Violet asks. "It's not too much farther until we reach the edge of the woods, and from there the path'll diverge.">>692666
"Actually, Keepers do make for good eating, or so I've heard. Obviously I wouldn't know, being a pony and all, but they seem to make quite a good stew. I don't know if they have any side effects, but if you want to it's worth a try I suppose.">>692667
You look at the Orchard Keeper. Despite how vicious it is, it's actually quite a strikingly beautiful specimen. Much like how geese are only pretty on the outside. >>692668
"You can borrow my brush if you want, actually," Violet offers. "It's back in the cart."
"Oh, don't worry about more of them. There's usually only two Keepers per orchard, from what I've seen so far. This one was the male, and the female is much, much smaller and far less dangerous. Stays at the nest most of the time."
"I'm fairly certain the fruit will keep for at least a week. They seem fairly long-lived that way. That should be more than enough time to get from here to Black Pudding's. …Er, we are going that way, aren't we? It's still not really decided, but I don't really have qualms with going that way.">>692670
The rats happily scurry back into the cage.
As you gather the fruit, you hear the dagger being pulled out from the body. Violet makes her way over to you, wiping off the dagger and handing it over to you. "Hey you left this back there. L…" She frowns as she sees the look on your face. "Hey, you feeling okay?" she asks concernedly. "You look like you've seen a ghost.">>692665>>692666>>692667>>692668>>692670
"In any case," Violet speaks up as you unload the fruit into the wagon, "I think now's the time to make the call. Which way are we going to go? North, towards the Mummers? Northeast, around Black Pudding's area? Or northwest towards the Barrens? For what it's worth the second option is… well, it's doable for me. Just won't really be able to help you out much if we do go that way."
"Also, I don't know why but Rabi seems keen on going to Fort Cinder. Dunno what's in there, but it might be worth looking into." She hooks up the wagon to herself again and looks at the lot of you expectantly. Your call, guys. Where to?"
"Seems like it would be a waste to get this fruit then NOT go Northeast," Hermodur provides his input.
I turn to Violet and give her a halfhearted smile. "Yeah, I'm fi-" My voice cracks, and a faint blush buds on my cheeks. I clear my throat and continue. "I'm fine, thank you. Just another day of work, huh?" I take my dagger back and look at it like it's something scraped off the underside of a toilet bowl before slipping it back into my belt. "I actually think that's the first time I've ever used that thing," I say. "Bought it for protection. You know. "Just in case". Never actually stabbed anything before. I don't think I like it."
I look around at everyone else, waiting to see what they say before I add any input.
"Right. Sorry, I wasn't aware we had a better way through. Let's go ahead and push onwards, then." he says, before looking to Norvegicus>>692677
"That's a pretty fair thing to say, Norvegicus. We'll try to avoid taking things like this that far in the future. Makes it… easier, you know?"
"Well zhen, doez a group want to vizit ze nezt while I work on preparing zhiz bird? Zkinning an animal iz not inztantaniouz, and I don't want to ztick ze whole zhing in ze cart."
"Like I zaid, I'd hate to wazte the bird itzelf, but if we're really wanting to get a move on, we can."
I nod and look away. "Right. Still, I guess I understand that if that's what it takes that's what it takes. I don't want to hold you guys back because I'm a coward and don't have it in me to really ki-" The word catches in my throat like a large, bitter pill, and I swallow. "Kill someone."
"Meat does sound pleasant. Can you not skin on the road?">>692677
"Impressive ingenuity that you've never had to stab anything in your line of work," Hermodur comments. Whether that is a compliment or insult is unknown.
I furrow my brow and tilt my head. "I guess? I don't know when the last time anyone has had to stab an opossum or a silverfish before, but thanks anyway."
"If you feel like pulling ze cart, I zuppoze."
"Look, just relax." the Saddle Arabian says, settling a hoof on the Diamond Dog's shoulder "We'll avoid it where we can. It's not something you really want to do… besides, it's easier to avoid it most of the time. If it comes to it, we'll deal with it, but for now, just set it aside."
"When it's being stubborn," Hermodur shrugs.>>692683
"It would be no trouble at all," Hermodur says with a thump to his chest.
"Oh! you have a brush? Wonderful, i'd love to use it once we get back to the road!"
"As for the northeast, you don't think visiting this 'Black Pudding' will cause much of an issue, would it? If things go smoothly we could sell the fruit and pass by without incident, barring some disaster up ahead. That and i may be able to trade for some stronger toxins."
I cringe a little as Rabi touches me, but don't move away, instead giving him a small smile. "Alright.Thanks. Best just not to think about it, I guess. "
Zunden shrugs, going to cut any extraneous bits of the bird so that she has sometime to work with in the cart.
"Well, you could always just use the raw juice from the fruits as poison," she suggests. "It'll work as well as any. Still, that does seem like the most sensible choice.">>692677
She nods and listens politely to what you have to say. She looks like she feels sorry for you. "Wow," she says when you're done. "That's rough. You really don't belong here, do you." She looks at you sympathetically before giving you an encouraging smile, patting you on the back. "Hey, cheer up. We're alive, aren't we? It's rough, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. You made the right move, Norv. That bird would've killed you, given the chance.">>692678
"We can take it with us," Violet answers. "Could just strap it on top of the cart, no worries. it's just, I'd rather not dawdle. Still got a lot of ground to cover between here and Black Pudding's. …Guess we're going that way.">>692686
"Well, Black Pudding doesn't really "buy" or "sell" things. It's more a matter of trade when it comes to him. Favors for favors, you know. An eye for an eye."
"Here. Knock yourself out." She digs around in the cart for a moment before tossing you an old wooden brush with the initials V. M. carved on the handle.>>692688
You get rid of most of the bird's extremities. It's hard and gory work, but fortunately it doesn't take too long.>>692676>>692677>>692678>>692679>>692686
"Right then, looks like it's unanimous. Let's go!"
After strapping the Orchard Keeper's remains to the cart, you set off down the trail, eventually exiting the woodlands and emerging into large, sprawling countryside. When the path splits into three, you take the rightmost path, leading you onwards towards your first stop on the way to the Shifting Sands. It's approximately three days' journey from here to Black Pudding's, so you move at a brisk pace, eager to cover as much ground as possible for the day. Far in the distance, you can see a twisted treeline, marking the borders of the swamplands of Durenwol. By Violet's estimation, you should be able to reach the outskirts of it by nightfall.
I smile and nod. "I guess so. Thank you." I scratch the back of my head. "You don't really seem like you belong here either, honestly." My smile falls and I look away as Zunden already starts butchering the bird.
She smirks dryly. "Hehe. No, I belong here alright. It's… complicated, but let's just say I made a lot of mistakes back in the Dominion. I don't really want to get into it now though. Long story." She joins you in averting her gaze, looking slightly disgusted.
"By the way," she says, suddenly sounding much peppier, "if you want, I could teach you a thing or two about self-defence. Show you how to swing a sword properly, that sort of thing. Free of charge as well. If you don't want to though, that's fine. What do you say?"
I shrug. "Well, it's one I'd be interested in hearing some time at any rate." I cock my eyebrow, chuckle and smirk. "Maybe over a drink after we're safe and sound in a town somewhere?" I look away, losing a bit of confidence when she mentions self defense. "You actually wouldn't mind doing that?" I ask. I rub the back of my neck. I really don't want to go into something expecting to kill someone, but being a little better at defending myself definitely couldn't hurt. "I don't know… It sounds like it'd be a bit more of a hassle on you than you'd probably expected when I joined up."
"Sounds like a plan. Although, I don't know if we'll be in a town any time soon. It's practically nothing but wilderness from here to the Sands. I mean, Pudding's is as close as you'll get, but I won't be able to go there myself."
"Yeah, it's not a problem. Anyone can swing a sword around, really. I'll show you how it's done, give you some pointers so you can hold your own next time you get into a scrape. Because there will be a next time. We're in the Echoes after all. I just figure if we're going to be sticking together for some time, might as well show you a thing or two. Eh?"
I laugh. "I guess that's a good point. Yeah, alright. Sure. I think I'll take you up on that, then. Thank you."
"Don't mention it! I'll see what I can do for you when we set up camp tonight. Think I have a training sword somewhere, but if not we can just use sticks or something. Heh."
"Anyway, enough talk. Let's get a move on. It's a long road from here to Durenwol."
The rest of your day's journey is fairly uneventful. You take regular breaks to rest from moving on the road, the longest break being for lunch, in which you chow down some rations of bread and nuts Violet has packed. On a few occasions, you pass other travelers like yourselves, but they don't make much effort to engage in conversation.
Eventually, the sun begins to set, and the enormous moon starts looming on the horizon. The countryside has given way to large, flat, grassy hills, some of which are a little muddy and boggy. This change of terrain indicates you are beginning to get to the very outskirts of Durenwol. Violet suggests two nearby places where you could set up camp:
A steep walk downhill would lead you into a patch of shrublands from which steam wafts idly, indicating the presence of natural hot springs. Violet warns you that while it would make a good place to camp, you run a risk of being ambushed by wild creatures during the night.
The other option are the crumbling ruins of a single lonely church of Celestia on top of a hill. A faint fiery glow can be seen coming from inside, suggesting someone else is occupying this place as well. Whoever they are, they could be friend or foe.
"If you ask me both options are a gamble," Violet muses, weighing her options. "What do you all think we should do?"
"A church of Celestia?" Hermodur says with intense disdain. "What is such a vile thing doing here?"
Perhaps have one of us go to see if the group at the ruined church is friendly? Someone quick enough to get away, should they prove less than… welcoming. I, for one, would not mind the Hot Springs, but the chance of ambush means we'd need to set a watch overnight."
lounging in a space on the cart, i perk up at the mention of a springs
"Hot springs? Here? Why that sounds lovely! We could take turns keeping watch and
enjoy a mineral bath all at once."
"Hmm… I suppose it wouldn't hurt. Maybe we just split the watch between us? That way, we each get a good night's sleep."
Zunden has at this point cutting the majority of the Grovekeeper meat in very thin strips to jerk, leaving a few larger steaks for cooking as-is. As a result of the messy process, her white tunic's been bloodied beyond salvation, and she has since removed it and used it to wrap the prepared meat, keeping flies off of it till she has time to cook it.
"Ooh, hotzpringz zoundz very nize. I would love to cook zome of zeze zteakz on a zuperheated rock. Zhat'll be a much more even zear zhan over a fire would be."
Zunden crunches one of the large, mostly-hollow bird bones, having already tried the meat raw.>>693028
"Do not be quick to dizmizz zhoze who have different believez az you. What you may call a heretic can ztill be a friend, or atleazt, zomeone to debate with."
"Oh yes, we'll divide the watch between us and take advantage of a good soak as we stay on the lookout, an excellent plan, i must say."
"I am just confused as to how such a thing could possibly have ended up here."
"Are you zaying zey can't be criminalz, but your zect can? What an odd azzumption."
"That does sound perfect for you, doesn't it?" he says, chuckling a little bit "It's been some time since I've had something like that… well, I hardly remember the last time. Regardless, it'll be a nice time.">>693035
"Well, thanks. Trying to find the best way to help us all relax a little!">>693036
"Perhaps someone banished here some time ago did it? If they had the time, I imagine they could have put it together."
I laugh. "Because people who believed were sent here? Or maybe they converted after they were sent here? It's not any harder to believe than say, oh, just something off the top of my head, a random cat cultist starting up a church here."
"Even convicts and felons need something
to believe. Perhaps you could be the emissary to the assorted criminals in this land, show them the proper way forward?"
"Let'z not be to hazty."
Zunden laughs, crunching another bone.
"How could anyone choose to worship a god who abandoned them? Let alone someone whose life has lead them to crime or corruption?">>693040
"One day, I hope to help Ailuros set this place right," Hermodur says with a nod.
Rabi was never much one for religous discussions, before giving Hermodur a somewhat unamused look. "I imagine there's a multitude of reasons someone could be thrown down here. Someone could be wrongly accused, or just a victim of circumstance. And, in the worst times is when someone would turn to a god. Aside from that… maybe it's an awful lot older than we'd expect."
"Didn't yours? You said something about not being able to-" I clear my throat, thinking of just how absurd it sounds before I say it out loud. "'hear her', right?"
"All sorts of things from the Dominion end up in this place," says Violet. "I guess it's like a dumping ground for unwanted things from outside. Trash begets trash, as they say.">>693029
"That could work. Whoever goes would have to be very stealthy, though. If only we could turn invisible.">>693029>>693030>>693033>>693035
"I don't mind keeping watch if we go to the Springs," Violet offers. "I've gotten used to having to do it. I'd wake you all in a heartbeat if anything goes wrong.">>693031>>693034>>693038>>693030>>693028
"Well, looks like the hot springs it is then." With a purposeful nod, she sets off down the hill and into the shrublands.
The area all around consists of flat rocky ground, tall grass and large treelike shrubs. Making your way towards the source of the wafting steam, you soon find a series of rocky pools from which the steam emanates. The air is humid due to the hot springs, but not unpleasantly so. Nearby, you see a group of small catlike creatures with mossy green fur, which scatter into the surrounding greenery as you approach.
Violet seems pleased with the choice, taking in the surroundings. "Wow! This place is great! Didn't expect to find anything like this out here. …Well, no sense in dallying. Got work to do." With that, she makes herself busy getting the camp ready, gathering kindling, pitching the tents and so forth.
I glance down at my paws and sigh. "Yeah. That too."
"Sounds nice," I say. "If you want help I'll gladly take watch with or after you. You need to get some sleep too."
My ears perk up before we even make it near the springs. Trickling water. My stumpy tail beats against my breeches as I think about the warm spring washing over me. As we approach, my smile widens. I'd never seen anything so… what's the word… serene? Serene sounds right. I'd never seen anything so serene in the city.
"I understand that some people are thrown in under false pretenses and other such corrupt reasons beyond their control. But, all the more reason to be disdainful toward a god who left you. If worship is all you can do to keep your mind together, then at least choose to worship something actually worthy of it.">>693044
"I assume it's because I no longer occupy the same dimension as her," Hermodur responds, looking rather hurt. "Or… however this place works. She wouldn't let me go if she could," he insists.>>693045
"They can move buildings into here?" Hermodur asks, raising an eyebrow. "Do they move the land under it?"
He follows Violet to the hot springs. Then, he helps her set up camp.
[1d10] for camping gud!Roll #1 6 = 6
Hopping off the cart and picking my way down the hill, i take in the view of the spring with a smile.
"Ah, what a sight! I cant wait
to take a swim."
"..but i suppose i should try and help set up the camp first. I'm dreadful when it comes to tents but i could certainly help grab what you need, Violet."
[1d10] AssistRoll #1 10 = 10
Seeing everyone else is already getting to work unloading everything I'm really not sure what to do. I stand back and observe, hoping to get a good idea of how to help next time by watching.
Rabi offers a dismissive shrug, not wanting to take it all that much further.>>693045
Rabi helps set the camp up with Violet, letting out a pretty relieved sigh. "This is a rather pleasant surprise. A good night's sleep'll make the rest of the trip a little better.">Camp good [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Well, you're certainly doing an awful lot better of a job than I am!" he says, with a short chuckle. He'll try to get some help fixing up the tent he messed up during construction… more aptly put, he set it up upside down.
Zunden starts walking amongst the the hot spring's rocks, testing them with her feet till she finds one that's hot enough to cook over (if such exists).
"The power of proper upbringing," Hermodur observes. His tone sounds almost jealous.
stifling a laugh, i wave you off with a wing. "Oh hush, you're doing just fine, let me see if i can help.." i finish, trotting over to help right the tent.
"Well of course!" i reply with a playful smirk "I may not be one for camping but i can still apply the right touches to anything i set my hooves to!"
"Well, I won't lie. I never really had much of a chance to go camping." he says, offering a bit of a chuckle "Now, I can do a bit of spelunking, though. Caves make good hideouts.">>693055
"Thanks, Silver. I suppose you have the magic touch." he says, with a bit more of a smile.
"I've done some camping," I say. "But, uh…" I trail off. "Well, I guess it was less camping and more squatting, but I think maybe the same general idea applies? At least it looks like it."
Hermodur laughs. "I know THAT feeling…"
"Quite something, isn't it?" Violet says, glancing over to you as she hammers in her tent's pegs. "Don't find places like this very often. We got lucky, really.">>693050
You watch as they pitch the tents. It seems fairly straightforward, a mater of setting up the tentpoles, affixing the canvas and hammering its pegs down so it doesn't all fall apart. You could probably do it yourself with a bit of elbow grease.>>693048
You help Violet with the campfire, gathering some kindling and setting up a circle of rocks. It's easier for you than it is for her, due to both having hands and being much larger than she is. "Thanks, big guy," she says with a grateful smile.
"I don't think it's so much that buildings get banished," she explains, "but more so that sometimes reflections of the outside world just… appear here. Echoes, if you will. Don't know from where or how, but it is what it is.">>693049
You manage to get your tent set up quite easily, pitching it in record time without any outside help. You even go on to help Rabi with his own tent. Violet looks impressed. "Surprised you had it in you, city girl," she says teasingly.>>693051
You get your tent all set up, but then it all collapses in a mess of poles and canvas. You eventually manage to do it properly, although it looks a little flimsy to you.>>693053
You wander around the area for a bit, testing the hot springs one by one. You find one not far from where your camp is that seems to be so hot that the water is bubbling. You see a few more of the moss-furred cats in the undergrowth, peering out at you curiously before scurrying away again.>>693048>>693047>>693049>>693051>>693053
With the camp set up, Violet takes a flint and tinder from the cart and starts the campfire. It soon spreads and becomes a merry little blaze, providing much-needed light under the giant moon. You see that it is almost full. With all the work finally done, Violet breathes a sigh of contentment and looks into the flames. There is a brief silence before she speaks again. "Well. I'm going in the springs. Anyone up for a bath?"
I stand up and rub my shoulder. "I was afraid nobody would mention it. You don't expect just walking to take so much out of you." I look around, trying to get an idea of if I should take my clothes, follow Violet, head to a spring of my own. In the end I decide that I have no idea. "So what do we do? Just head to one of the springs?"
"Yeah, thanks for the help. I think I messed up somewhere around the start." he says, before looking to the campfire with a relieved smile.
"Bath sounds good to me, yeah." he says, looking at the moon for a bit, before shaking his head and getting back on topic "Should one of us hang back for a bit and watch the camp?"
"Well," Hermodur says as he claps the dirt from his hands. "If no one else needs me, I desperately need to clean these clothes," he says as he gestures to his bloodied suit.
"So, I would appreciate some privacy."
Hermodur goes somewhere away from eyeshot where he can clean the clothes and himself.
Zunden heads back to the cart to grab the meats, satisfied with her find,
"I'd love to, but zhiz iz gonna take zome time. Zhame I'll mizz ze fun."
Zunden frowns for a moment, before hefting the 'bag' of meat over he shoulder.
"Alaz, hopefully ze meat will be worzh it."
Having made it back to her cooking rock, she unwraps her meats, looking to the the strange cat creatures. Beckoning them over, she starts placing the larger steaks on the rock right away to start the assumedly slow cook as soon as possible. She holds out one of the raw jerky strips in her claws, squatting low to the ground and smiling at the cats.
"It looks like it, there's plenty of water to go around, find a pool and settle in.">>693062
"Hmm.. Aside from those smaller creatures the area looks clear. If we make sure the food is tied tight we should be just fine.">>693060
"Well of course, i've not had a proper mineral bath in ages
heading behind one of the shrubs, i slip out of my dress before carefully easing myself into a pool a ways out of view.
"Fair enough, yeah. Well, let's take a chance to relax, then!"
"You'll get used to walking. I mean, you'll have to if you want to get anywhere, unless you manage to find one of those fancy Sanctuaries. Not like anyone's going to carry you."
Violet disappears into the bushes for a moment, then emerges carrying her usual clothes, apart from her eyepatch which stays on. You hadn't noticed before, but she has quite a few scars on her that are usually covered up; one on her neck, a few on her chest and what looks like a clawmark on her back. Without waiting for you or anyone else, she leaves her belongings on a nearby rock and tests the depth of one of the springs before jumping in with a loud splash, soon bobbing up to the surface. "Ah, much better," she breathes.
Violet looks over to you. Your stomach turns a bit as you see her eyepatch has come off, showing her empty socket. She doesn't seem to have noticed though, and gestures to you. "What are you waiting for? Come on in!">>693062
"If you want," Violet calls from one of the springs. "You're missing out though. The water's great!">>693063
You find a spring further away from the rest of the group, populated by little more than a few trees. There are a few large, round boulders lined up neatly along the shore, almost as if someone had placed them there intentionally. Seems abandoned now though, and as good a place as any to get clean.>>693064
The Orchard Keeper meat sizzles slightly as you place it on the rock. You almost burn yourself on it, reminding yourself to be extra careful around this area. The water alone is hot enough to boil in.
The little creatures scarper as soon as you try and interact with them. Looking around the area, you note that a few of the plants have been stripped by some animal quite recently. It's very possible that despite their resemblance to cats, these mosscats are peaceful herbivores.
Violet calls over to you. "Don't you think it'd be easier to just use the campfire, reader? It'd probably cook faster!">>693065
You get undressed and get in one of the springs. The water is refreshingly warm, and seems to sting your skin a little bit, but in a good way. It's just like taking a hot bath, only much bigger. You feel something brush against your leg as you do so, but looking down you see nothing but a few startled albino fish dashing for cover at your sudden intrusion.
Hermodur takes off his clothes carefully. They've been torn in many places. If he doesn't handle them well, they could just become useless entirely. He sighs as he looks at the sad state of his once great suit.
Of course, his suits often were ruined from battle. But, he always had backups. Now, this was his last suit. He doubted he'd be able to get another one any time soon.
Once all of his clothes are off, he steps into the spring. He tries his best to scrub out the sweat, dirt, and blood in the suit. Once he's done the best job he can do, he scrubs himself.
All of those scars. She had to have been through something rough. I feel a little uneasy at the sight of the empty socket, but I still smile. Disappearing into the bushes, I remove my coat and breeches and fold them up. I set them down in camp and grab my trap, heading over to the spring Violet invited me into. I stop at the edge and set my cage down, easing myself into the pool of water. Settling in, I let out a comfortable sigh.
I steel myself, and after a moment I decide to risk asking. "How, uh… How do you feel about rats?" I ask. "They've worked pretty hard these past couple of days and I think they deserve to enjoy the springs too." I clench my teeth, just waiting for her to cringe at the thought.
"Cook fazter, yez, but zpeed doez not help make a gamey bird like zhiz loozen up. By how ze meat cut, I figure a long, zlow cook iz the bezt for ze zteakz. For ze jerky, I will uze a fire."
Zunden says, getting up and leaving the Keeper meat to sit out on the rock as she makes note of the plant-based diets of the cats. She takes the strips to a location where she can build a fire, starting to look around for sticks to set up a jerky-making pyramid.
Rabi removes his armor and clothing rather quickly, not wanting to wait too long. He settles into the hot springs with a happy-sounding whinny, before looking to Violet. "I think you're right, I would've been missing out. This is even better than I thought it'd be… so, if it isn't too touchy of a subject, what's with all the scars? I'd figured you for a rough and tumble type, but… that's some pretty harsh damage."
[1d10] for cleanliness
Pardon the delay.Roll #1 4 = 4
with a long sigh i sink up to my neck in the water, stretching out my wings as i get used to the heat.
"Quite relaxing, isn't it Rabi?" i call out from my pool. "Reminds me of the spas in Animus, though sadly lacking in the amenities."
"Yeah, it is. Shame we won't get too many chances for something like this, but… might as well make the most ofthe chance, yeah?"
You manage to get yourself clean, washing off most of the accumulated grime. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same for your suit. While the worst of it comes off, the stains on it never will.
You are suddenly aware that you are being watched. The boulders around the pool are not boulders at all, but large, rocky crabs that were camouflaged until now. The small group of them stare at you with small beady eyes, their claws twitching on occasion. They do not seem hostile for now, but more curious about the large, hairy, hammer-wielding creature in their habitat.>>693069
The water is very warm, not unlike a spa. It's quite comforting.
"Er, hold that thought." She seems to have just noticed her missing patch, and dives down into the spring for a minute, eventually reemerging with it in hoof. She wrings it out a bit and puts it back on. "Sorry you had to see that. …Yeah, if you want to let the little guys out then I say go for it. I reckon they'd like it." She hoists herself up out of the spring for a while, touching her eyepatch gingerly. She seems sensitive about it.>>693070
You manage to gather a few sticks and such from the surrounding undergrowth, scaring away a straggling mosscat. As you come back, you smell the aroma of cooked chicken. Going over to the meat you left on the rock, you see that it has turned white from cooking a while. You recall that Violet, Silver and Rabi all have fire starting kits you could use to make the jerky.
"Just be careful if you're going to be cooking stuff," Violet warns from her pool. "The smell could attract things, you know.">>693071
You relax in the spring for a while, unwinding after a long of traveling.
"Well, I learned the hard way how to survive out here," she explains, rolling her shoulders back. "I mean, I was an explorer back in the Dominion as well, but I didn't know anything about the fauna or flora down here. Wasn't prepared, and it took me a good few years to learn the dos and don'ts. That's part of why I'm coming with you, you know? Don't want you getting lost like I did. Let's see…" She looks at her reflection in the water for a moment. "These ones were from an angry Mirodan on the Glass Isle," she says, pointing at the clawmarks on her back, "and this one was from a couple of looters that tried to jump me one night, I think." She touches the scar on her neck. "And the eye… Well… It's a long story. Don't really want to get into it now, but suffice to say I crossed someone, gambled with him and lost hard." She falls silent for a moment. "You have any shiners like these, Rabi?">>693073
You let yourself sink deeper into the hot spring. You can almost feel your muscles losing their tension from a hard day's work
I give a quick dismissive wave of my paw. "It's nothing to worry about. It wasn't nearly as bad as you seemed to act." I smile as I scoot my trap over to me and place a paw over it. I close my eyes and channel energy into it, trying to summon three of my rats.
I sit back and listen to Violet, eyes glistening with wonder. She'd already seen how dangerous everything here could be, and she'd put herself on the line for a bunch of potentially violent criminals that she didn't even know?
"You're amazing," I mutter under my breath. When she asks about scars I perk up a little. "Oh," I say. "I have a few."Roll #1 5 = 5
Hermodur sighs as he sees that the blood stains won't be coming out. He throws his clothes back onto land. Then, he notices the crabs.
He jumps slightly at the realization. Then, he stands up. "Pardon me," he says to the creatures as he walks by to get out of the water. "I did not mean to disturb you."
Hermodur takes the head of Mjolnir and lights it. He holds his wet clothes up to it to get them a little dryer before putting them back on. Still soggy, but manageable.
Then, he makes his way back to camp.
"Well, not many that noticeable. I got a few here and there, but for the most part, the less I got spotted, the better. I've got one, though…" he says, gesturing to a few rake marks along his underbelly "Which is why I only ever tried transporting animals once. Tigers get a little ornery." he says, with a soft chuckle
taking a short while longer to relax, i climb over the side of the pool and shake some of the water off, slip back into my dress and happily trot back to camp, humming a tune.
"It cannot be helped. Zuppoze we will have to eat it az zoon az it'z done."
Zunden giggles, flipping the meat over before turning back to the group,
"Violet, iz your fire ztarter in ze cart? Need to ztart the jerky. Might take all night."
"Hey, mine are from animals too!" I brush the fur away from my wrist, where, on close inspection, one could see a round row of small dots. "Opossum mom gave me this one." I stand up a little bit and brush some of my fur away. It's faint, but it's clear that there's a small, round patch where the fur isn't growing back. "Feral dog gave me this one. Took up residence under a pony's crawlspace and I had to get rid of it. Did not like me in its home at all. Bit me pretty bad. That's probably my worst, but I have a bunch of smaller ones."
"Huh. So, it's not just a one-time thing, then? I thought it was just my awful luck shining through. Makes me feel a little bit better, but… man, I guess working as pest control's more hazardous than I thought. What'd you do with the dog after you got it out?"
You try and coax some of the rats out, but it doesn't seem to work this time. They don't seem willing to be summoned at the moment.
"You do? Just from your line of work, or from something else?" She gets out of the spring and shakes some of the water off before going to sit by the fire to dry herself.>>693077
The crabs make no indication of having heard you, starting to trundle about searching for food. A few of them scuttle away towards another pool.
You dry your clothes using Mjolnir and return to camp. Everyone seems to be enjoying a bath in the hot springs, save for Zunden who is nearby cooking the Orchard Keeper, and Violet who is drying herself by the fire. She smiles at you in greeting. "See anything interesting out there?">>693078
She winces. "Ouch. Well, there's no tigers down here, so you don't have to worry about that. There are shadowcats in the snowy parts of this place though, although I've never seen one myself. They're like tigers, but black and white, and about as mean." She shrugs. "It's like everything here is similar to out there, but different.">>693079
You join Violet over by the campfire. She's munching on a bag of trail mix and drying off. "Had enough for the night?" she asks, offering you some trail mix.>>693080
"Yeah, just in the cart. Should be at the very top of the supplies." A few large, boulder-like crabs crawl out of the undergrowth, starting to slowly walk around the area. They seem unaffected by the searing heat of the rocks, and must have been attracted by the scent of meat.
Looking between the cart and the cooking meat, Zunden huffs, not trusting leaving the meat alone as the rock crabs approach.
"I'll do zey jerky later… got zome wildlife interezted in what I'm cooking now."
She takes her staff and prods one of the crabs with it, not as deterrence or threateningly but out of curiosity,
"Now if I had a hammer, we could zee how you tazte too."
"The rocks are crabs," Hermodur says distractedly as he notices everyone in the hot springs. He blushes and looks away.
"I don't understand pony nudity," he comments tragically.
Then, Hermodur smells the meat. He is suddenly aware of his own hunger. "That smells incredible," he comments.
Then, he removes Mjolnir from his back and holds it high. "You called for a hammer? Do you truly think you could make something delicious from them?"
I shrug. "Took him to the outskirts of town and let him go. He wasn't rabid or anything so I couldn't bring myself to actually poison him." I cast my eyes downward. "That's what I'd have to do if they were rabid, there were infestations too large to handle, or they were otherwise too dangerous to let loose. It was always unpleasant, but I always told myself that it was better than letting them go unchecked. That I was doing a good thing. Usually helped." >>693083
I shrug as none of the rats come out. Must be resting. "Mostly from my line of work," I say. "Almost had a couple of bad run-ins with gambling debts myself, but it never actually get too far." I sigh. "Well, maybe the last time was just luck. Or a lack of luck, since that's part of how I got here in the first place. But yeah. That's not what you asked about. Sorry. They're all from work."
I decide to stick around in the spring just a little bit longer. Might as well see if the rats want to join me one more time, too. I try and summon two of them instead.
[1d10] dc+1Roll #1 8 = 8
Rabi lets out a bit of a nervous chuckle at that, and hums "I don't know if that's good or bad, but… cross that bridge when we get there. And, yeah. Even that creature we encountered on arrival felt somewhat… familiar. Like a Big Cat, but just wrong. Or, different."
Zunden smiles, waving the cat over,
"Zhank you, Hermodur. I do not know if ze ozherz have the pallet for raw meat, and I muzt admit cooked meatz are much taztier."
she looks to Mjolnir, musing about cooking the crabs,
"Or zhey could be poizonouz. I do not know, but zhen again, nor doez any pioneerz. But I doubt a creature wizh zuch natural protection would alzo require poiozonouz inzidez for zelf defenze. Ze dezert cactuz doez not alzo zhoot fireball and exzplode when conzumed, it only needz ze zpinez."
She laughs at the silly thought,
"Zhough zat would be interzting. Regardlezz, it dependz if you want to anger the wildlife for a chance at zome zhellfood."
"Oh yes, the springs really take it out of you after a while, i'm exhausted."
sitting by the fire, i take the time to preen my wings between munching on trail mix.
"Not quite as glamorous as the spa houses of Animus, but i must admit hot springs hopping under the moonlight has a certain rustic charm to it."
"Regardless of poison, they could be simply indigestible by us," Hermodur adds. "Anyway, I'll leave the decision to someone else. For now, we have all the meet we need here."
He looks hungrily at the meet cooking. He reaches his paw out. Is it ready?
The crab gently grabs the end of your staff, antennae waving curiously. It examines the wooden stick, then lets go and continues on its way. You hear Violet get up from her seat, and she soon makes her way over to you and hands you the firestarting kit. It is a box containing a shard of flint, a small bar of steel, and a little bit of hay to stoke the flames. "Here. Knock yourself out." With that, she resumes her seat by the fire.>>693089>>693091
The meat has turned a healthy white color on both sides by now. This, and the delicious aroma of it, let you know that the Keeper meat is ready.>>693085
"The rocks are crabs," she confirms. "Dolmencrabs, I think they're called. Don't know much about them other than that they're big, docile and dwell in fresh water. Might be good for eating, but I wouldn't know."
At your comment about nudity, she shrugs. "It's a cultural thing I suppose. Ponies don't normally wear too much clothes. We equines in general are like that, not like you two-legged prudes." She smirks.>>693087
Two of the rats poke their tiny heads out of the cage, sniffing around curiously. They slowly creep out of the cage one step at a time before suddenly scurrying out at top speed, eager to have a run around.
Violet nods. "Fair enough. Figure someone in your line must get a few scrapes now and again." After drying off and having her dinner, she starts digging around the cart before pulling out two wooden swords. "If you're still keen, I can still show you a few moves," she calls, keeping her distance from the rest of the group as she swings hers around a bit.>>693088
"What, the Prowler? They come in all shapes. That one just vaguely looked like a cat, I think. I think they can change shapes, being made of those awful tendrils, so they can have whatever form they think suits them." She curls her lip, clearly having no love for Prowlers.>>693090
She nods in agreement. "We lucked out on finding this place. Best savor it while you can. It's only going to get harder the closer to Durenwol we get, I'm afraid."
I lean my head back and look at violet upside down. Oh. I didn't expect to get to it so fast. I look down at my rats. "You two enjoy yourselves," I whisper, scratching them on top of the head. "You deserve it."
I climb out of the water and shake off. Even the warm, humid air feels a little chilly on my fur after my dip. I don't seem to mind the nudity too much, but it's less that I don't mind and more that nobody else seems to mind. "Yeah," I say. "Sure. Sounds good."
I walk over to the campfire and pull my breeches on, leaving my shirt folded with my supplies and my trap by the spring. Walking over to Violet, I hold my hand out for one of the swords.
"I imagine being a quadruped provides you with more… protection," Hermodur says awkwardly. "It's not as if being nude is unheard of among felids. I mean… it would still take certain circumstances to see…" he blushes.
"B-but anyway! Ponies make it so confusing. I've seen occasions in which a pony - who doesn't usually wear clothes - doesn't wish to be seen nude. It's all quite disconcerting."
Then, Hermodur turns back around and pierces a piece of a meat with his claw. This (presumably) keeps him from burning his paw. He blows on it, then takes a bite.
"Oh… that's unsettling, indeed. I guess I just assumed that's what they looked like." he says, before shaking his head "The one we encountered never did that, but, then again, it might have not had time."
"Modesty has certainly not fallen out of favor for the nobility, that
i assure you." i reply, dressed and by the campfire.
"As i've mentioned to Rabi in the past, it's improper to peek at bathing mares, especially when she's indisposed." i add, glancing back at the saddle arabian. "Not that i didn't appreciate his concern."
Zunden takes out the small dagger attached to her belt, letting Hermodur grab a piece and then using the knife to take the meat off the hot stone and transfer it onto one that isn't hot enough to cook. She then taps her palm to her forehead, grabbing at her very full satchel,
"Zere iz boiling water here, I zhould have ztuck ze vegetablez I brought wizh me. I zhould've ztarted zhem when I ztarted ze meat."
She shrugs, looking to the quadrupedal members of the party,
"You poniez can eat meat though, az I learned in my boarding home. If you two are ztrange tabooz, zhere'z one I do not underztand. I'm zure it comez from wanting to be viewed az being pazifiztz."
"Az if that appliez nowadayz."
Hermodur looks from Silver and Rabi with an amused expression. "Well, that's at least easier to decipher. I wish there were more spoken rules.">>693097
"Can they really?" Hermodur asks, raising an eyebrow. "Are you sure it wouldn't make them sick? Vegetables certainly do that to me…"
Rabi chokes a little bit, and lets out a bit of a nervous chuckle. If his coat weren't already red, a flush would be readily apparent. "O-Only the best of intentions, I swear."
"I don't know about a zteak, but I had a zomepony who would peddle it outzide my boarding home. Zaw him eat hiz own food every onze in a while. Zhen again, he looked like he wazn't eating much in general. Ztill, never zaw him keel over and die."
The rats start happily scampering about the springs, dipping in and out of the water and sniffing everything in sight.
You take a moment to dry yourself off before putting your clothes on, joining Violet in the clearing. She passes you the other wooden sword and raises her own in a defensive stance.
"Alright then. Hit me," she says, watching you closely.>>693094
"I think it depends on the pony, and the social context. …Now that I think about it, it's hard to explain exactly when and where is and isn't appropriate. Like I said, it's a cultural thing.">>693095
"Yeah, you guys made short work of it. Again, you're lucky it was just the one. There's usually more around. I don't think they're a natural creation, either. They're almost certainly sorcerous in nature. I'm no zoologist, but I'd be interested to know more about them. Most people that go up against a pack of Prowlers don't live to tell of it.">>693097
"It's not so much a taboo as it is just not liking the taste of it," Violet explains. "For me at least. I tried pork once and felt like death for about a week afterwards. Never again.">>693094>>693097
You take a bite of the cooked Keeper. It smells as good as it looks, having less in common with chicken and more with the tender, savory taste of duck. It's quite tough as well, and takes a good while to chew. Should make for excellent jerky for the road ahead.
"Whatever, I am happy I can enjoy bozh zidez of the zpectrum, unlike you two."
Zunden looks to Hermodur expectantly,
"Well? How iz it?"
I look down at the sword and back up at Violet. "Like, actually hit you with it?" I glance down at the sword and back up again, torn. Well, I decide, she probably knows what she's doing. I lift the sword and give a wide, wild swing at Violet.
[1d10-1]Roll #1 2 - 1 = 1
Hermodur chews the meat for a while, savoring the taste. As he swallows, he laughs heartily. "It's glorious!" he roars in approval. "The taste is elegant, but the texture is rough. Truly, a dish to satisfy all walks of life."
"I've certainly had better, but never anything that was prepared with such speed and ease. You have a talent!"
He takes another cut.
"Well, if I get my hooves on whoever accidentally made those things, you'll be the first one to know." he says, pausing long enough to have a few bites to eat… and giving Zunden a curious look>>693097
"Well, I don't want to be rude. That Keeper did come out looking rather well-done." he remarks, taking a piece and trying it out himself. "Well, the taste is pretty good, but the texture's a little odd. I don't eat much meat though, so that's probably why. "
"You flatter, zhough I've yet to eat any myzelf."
Zunden says, eating off a rock next to Hermodur.
You take a few steps towards Violet and take a wide swing at her with the practice sword. She swiftly moves to the side, deflecting your swing in a swift counter-motion and jabbing you rather hard in the chest with her own sword. Taken off guard by the sudden blow, you stagger backwards and fall square on your back.>Norvegicus takes 1 hit
As you go down, Violet places the sword to your neck. "And now you're dead," she says with a smirk. "Lesson one: never let your opponent know what you're going to do. A big, obvious swing like that gives me all the time in the world to plan against. Be unpredictable, and don't be afraid to fight dirty if you have to."
Before you can protest, she grabs your arm and pulls you back up, handing you your sword back and returning to her defensive stance. "Okay, try again. Remember, don't be obvious.">>693105
You help yourself to some trail mix. It consists almost entirely of diced fruit, assorted nuts, flavorless seeds and oats, making for a bland yet nutritious meal. "Shame we don't have anything good for us herbivores," she laments. "Next time we get the chance, we should focus on getting more greens. Zunden and Hermodur look like they're having a blast with the Keeper." She shrugs and takes a long swig of fresh water, offering you a canteen.
>pausing, but will still be around if you want to talk IC
"Having known poverty, wealth, and a life in between, I like to think that I've gained an appreciation of food both for its practicality and its artistry. And, I must say that this meal satisfies in both aspects."
A faint blush glows beneath my dark fur, and I take Violet's leg and stand. Don't be obvious. don't be afraid to fight dirty. But how can you not be obvious when your opponent can see you? I take a couple of steps back and think for a moment. For one a shorter swing could help. I hold the sword in front of me with both hands and circle violet. This time instead of charging I step in and try for a quick thrust.
[1d10-1]Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3
"Yeah, there's oughta be something good out here for those that don't prefer meat." he remarks, before cocking his head to the side "Well… maybe the fruits that the Keeper was, well, keeping? Not that I'd want to eat many of them, but trying one might be nice."
He takes a healthy swig of the canteen, before returning it gratefully "Truth be told, despite what I expected, this place hasn't been so bad… but, I imagine the worst's to come."
Zunden says between a bite,
"It iz very good, but zhen again I apreziate mozt thingz I get to eat that aren't, zay, plain oatz. I learned quickly as I pazzed from youzh to adulthood zhat you will mizz zhingz onze you don't have aczezz to zhem anymore. Zhuz, I try to zavor mozt mealz, plazez, etzetera."
With a slight grunt of exertion, Violet swings her sword in a downwards diagonal motion to counter your thrust, following up with a swing to your side. You move to counter it, but aren't fast enough, recoiling from the sudden hit. As you do so, she puts her sword to your chest. "Dead again. That was better, but you're still making your actions too obvious. Don't signpost so much what you're going to do. Just do it. Like this!" She suddenly lashes out with her sword.
"Oh, they are quite good," she affirms. "Their smell isn't just a lure, they're actually delicious. You should try one before going to bed. I can guarantee you'll sleep like a babe. I'd have one myself, but I'm keeping first watch."Roll #1 10 = 10
"Hmm…" he looks one of the fruits in question over, and rolls it on over. He's not planning to sleep just yet, he'll go ahead and give one a try when he does "Good to hear, then. Do all Orchard Keepers keep the same fruit, or does it vary? Might be worth sneaking in to grab a fruit or two from others, just to see what they're like."
Her sudden swing catches you completely off guard, hitting you square in the ribcage and knocking you down again. It smarts really badly. Violet drops her sword and rushes over to you, eye wide in shock. "Oh Gods, I am so sorry! Are you okay? I didn't mean to… W-Well. That's what I mean about fighting dirty, you see. You have to catch your opponents unawares. Never let them know what you're thinking. …Man, that was a nasty blow. Sorry."
Hermodur smiles. "That's a good mentality to have."
Then, he lets out a long sigh. "There are things, though, that I simply cannot savor - as I'm sure you've noticed."
I wheeze, dropping to my knees. I work my mouth in an attempt to say that I'm fine, but all that comes out is a quiet hiss of air. After a second, I catch my breath. "Yeah," I say, still a little winded. "I think I get it." I clear my throat and click my tongue. "Go again then?" I ask, and add a little louder, "Here. Easy." My breath catches in my throat as I try to be a little louder. Probably take a bit to recover from that completely.
I pick the sword up again, rubbing my ribs with my free hand. After waiting a second for Violet to get back in position, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Don't fight fair, I tell myself. You fight fair, you lose. Here if you lose, you die.
I mimic the pose Violet is making to the best of my ability. After I properly recover, I lift the sword a little and fold my free hand behind my back. I move in for a quick swing, but pull back before she has a chance to parry. Alright. How about this?
I step in, feigning another wild swing. Near the end of my swing, I click my tongue again.
Near the end of my arc, my two rats scamper off my shoulders and jump at Violet, heeding my hidden order to "Come here" and "Be easy". Instead of actually going in for a bite, they just try to land on her.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 9 - 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #3 1 + 1 = 2
She moves to parry you, but stops as she sees your feint. Seeing you being more defensive, she switches stances, watching you like a hawk. As you take a swing for real, she moves to parry it, but this time does it too early, expecting you to signpost your attack more. You clap her on the ear with your swing, then one of the rats lands on her face, making her panic as she's suddenly blinded. Losing her balance, she stumbles backwards with an incoherent yelp, almost falling into the hot spring. She flails her legs in an attempt to balance herself, then turns to you, breathing heavily. She plucks the rat off her face and sets it on the ground.
"…That was a cheap move." She glares at you for a moment, then breaks into a wide grin. "I love it!" she cries. "Yes! Use everything you have, and don't hold back! Great trick!" She seems extremely enthused by your ingenious use of pocket
rats, laughing heartily. "More like that, and you'll be able to hold your own in no time. …I do think we should focus on one on one fighting, though. This is about swinging a sword, after all. Your rats won't always be able to save you." She leans against a nearby tree and takes a swig of water, offering you some. "Had enough for the night, or do you want to keep going?"
As for your other rat, it misses its leap completely, landing face first in the spring. It scrabbles back out in panic, running in circles before darting back into your cage in confusion.
My floppy jowls twist into a mischievous grin as my plan works, and I bust into deep, hearty laughter as Violet loses her balance. "I can't believe that worked," I say. My laughter dies, and I click my tongue again, ordering the rat that actually hit to my side. I chuckle and crouch down, giving it a soft pat on the head with two fingers. "Good boy," I say. "You can go on back to the spring now. I won't bother you again."
The rat scampers back over to the cage to comfort the spooked rat, and I stand back up. "Yeah," I say. "I'm not sure how many times that would actually work anyway. I only did it once and you probably already know how I give them orders. Just wanted to see if that would actually work."
I give the sword a quick practice swing. "I think I'm up for one more, but I'm starting to get a little winded. Might need to stop in a bit."
Violet nods. "Yeah, should've seen that coming really. I'm getting a little tired as well. We should call it quits after this." She takes a moment to catch her breath before resuming her stance. This time, she holds the sword up above her head in a high guard, ready to counterattack. "Come on then. Show me what you really learned."
I give a quick, determined nod and ready myself. I draw in another deep breath and slowly circle her for a moment, looking for what I can actually recognize as an opening. Apparently I'm not nearly skilled enough, because I can't seem to find one. Deciding it'll be more advantageous for me to be the one leading the attack, I swing the sword low, watching to see where her sword moves. If she moves it downward, I decide I'll attempt to grab onto her with my free arm and attempt to wrestle her to the ground. If she calls my feint I'll attempt a quick thrust at her chest. This is it. Can't make an idiot of myself now.
[1d10-1]Roll #1 3 - 1 = 2
Instead of trying to counter your blow, she deftly dodges to the side, then goes for a high horizontal swing. She clonks you upside the head and follows up with a strong push to the chest, knocking you square on your butt. She taps your head with her sword to signal the killing blow. "Hm. Needs work still, but you'll get there."
She helps you up again, then puts away her training sword. "A swordfight is like a game of chess," she advises you. "You have to think several steps ahead before you move. If you act on instinct, you're easy to read. You're improving though, I'll give you that. I reckon I'll make a fighter out of you yet." She gives you an encouraging pat on the shoulder. "…You sure you're okay? That blow really did look like it hurt. It'll leave a nasty bruise, at the least."
I squeeze one eye shut, rub the back of my head, and pull myself up with Violet's help. "I've never played chess," I say. "Still, I get what you mean." I smile as she pats me on the shoulder, a little more enthused about getting my butt so thoroughly kicked. "Thanks. I'll try to get better, but for now I think I'll stick closer to the back if we end up in a fight."
I rub my ribs again when she mentions it. "Yeah," I say. "Thanks. I think I'll be fine." My stomach growls, and I just now realize how hungry I am. "I, uh… I think I'm going to grab a bite to eat though." I blanch at the thought of eating the bird. "If I can. I might just have to dip into my rations."
"Sounds like a plan. I've got first watch, so I'll be around if you need anything."
You head over to the cart and rummage through the party's belongings, eventually unearthing a pack of rations from the backpack you bought. They consist of a strange wafer that resembles a slice of dark rye bread, but upon eating proves to have a sweet flavor like honey. It is both tasty and very filling; you feel well fed after only two slices. Whatever they are, they are clearly meant for long journeys.
Last time, the party continued on their journey towards the Shifting Sands, deciding to take a route into the dark, bog-laden lands of Durenwol, owned by the sorcerer Black Pudding. They stopped to rest for the night at a patch of wilderness riddled with hot springs, where they took a rare opportunity to unwind. For now, night has fallen, and they must press on.
After an uneventful evening, you all retire for the night and get a good night's sleep. For those unaccustomed to sleeping outdoors, the tents are very uncomfortable, but it's better than having to sleep in the woods. The night passes without further incident, except for one where a few of you are awoken by a mournful, eerie wail like that of a loon coming from the nearby woods, although Violet claims it is nothing to worry about.
The next 24 hours are much of the same. In the morning, you work quickly to pack up your camping site and go through a few of the sweet, filling rations for breakfast. Your day is taken up by more trekking through the wilds, following Violet through creeks, hills and eventually marshes and fens, the grass and dirt giving way to mud and shallow water. The further northeast you go, the more you start to feel a chill in the air. The trees are more skeletal and twisted, and there is a slight mist hanging over the landscape. At one point, a huge, stocky black and golden bird crosses your paths, staring you down for a moment before darting off and disappearing into the reeds.
At night, you camp in a small and increasingly rare patch of woodlands. The trees are slightly unsettling in how identical they are, all having the same formations of pale branches and clusters of leaves of the same reddish hue. Getting into the swing of things by now, you are quicker to set up camp this time. Violet lets you know that you are now in Durenwol proper, and that this campsite will not be taken down, as she is barred from going any further into the land.
"You'll have to go alone to Black Pudding's tomorrow," she explains. "I'll stay here and get this place set up as a proper base while you're away. Don't worry about me, I'll be able to survive on my own. I'll show you the way to his abode tomorrow, but you'll have to make the trip yourselves."
The rest of your evening is, again, rather uneventful. Violet passes the time taking care of her equipment, and foraging some nearby berries to add to the party's stockpile of food. In a rare moment of reflection, she divulges that she used to be a park ranger before being banished, so she has plenty of experience surviving in the wilderness and has no problems being able to take care of herself in hostile environments. She again offers to take first watch during the night.
It is about midnight when she rouses you all, jabbing you in the sides with the blunt end of her spear. "Prowlers," she whispers, pacing about the campsite and looking out into the gloom nervously. "A whole pack of them. Get ready." As you start to come to, you can see that she's not wrong. Just out of the campfire's waning light, you can see several pairs of glowing red eyes peering silently at you all. By your count, there are at least four of the beasts, maybe more.
Hermodur stands up and grabs his hammer. He stands still, listening into the darkness, waiting for one of them to strike first. As he does, he flicks a flame into his hammer to whir it to life.
>Sharpen [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
I grumble and let out a small snort as I slowly sit up. My head pounds, and my back and feet are still aching from both sleeping on the hard ground and the sheer amount of traveling we've been doing.
It takes a moment for my head to clear enough to realize what Violet has actually woken me up for. Prowlers? Like that cat we fought on the first day? I try and shake away the sleep, but I'm still groggy, and can't help but stumble when I pull myself to my feet, not bothering to pull my clothes on.
Slowly, I grab my cage and channel magic into it, attempting to summon three rats in case we're outright attacked.
[1d10] DC+2Roll #1 5 = 5
lifting my head up to peer sleepily into the dark, i quietly get my hooves under me and step away from the firelight, blending into the dark.
"Wonderful. And here i though we'd make it to the tower unassailed.."
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 9 = 9
"Alright, if you're sure. One of us could hang back, seeing as there's some rather nasty stuff out here… but, you seem rather hardy, so if you're sure." he says, before heading off to bed.
The mention of Howlers gets him up and on to his hooves rather quickly, and he grabs for his magic bow. "I'll get us a little bit of light!" he shouts, before firing off a bolt of radiant energy at one of the four pairs of eyes>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+1 from Arabian Agility, +1 from Seeker Bolt)>Elemental Ammo: Radiant (Blind, Brighten area)Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
Zunden pulls out her orb of light, basking in the artificial sunlight,
"You all have lightz if you need it. Do not feel free to uze zheir powerz, az I will replaze them wizh hazte."
Your hammer whirrs and smolders intensely, coming to life in your hands.>>693458
You try to summon some rats, but they don't seem willing to take on a pack of Prowlers right now.>>693459
Gathering your things, you scramble away from the campsite and hide in some nearby bushes, assessing the situation.>>693460
You manage to hit one of the Prowlers dead in what you assume is the head. The eyes immediately disappear, getting covered by the creature's tiny black fur-like tendrils. This Prowler resembles a black blob, propped up on three main legs.>>693461
You use your orb to shed some light on the scene, revealing your attackers. You draw power from the sudden light and warmth, channeling it to bolster your magical abilities.>>693456>>693458>>693459>>693460>>693461
Through Rabi and Zunden's combined efforts, the scene is revealed in full. There are four Prowlers total, hideous black monsters of varying size and shape. None of them resemble the catlike Prowler you encountered earlier: one is a three-legged beast, another like a pillar of entwined tentacles, yet another with a long shape and standing on two legs, and the fourth is a shapeless blob-thing. They all share the similarities of having two main tentacles with flower-like appendages, and having those glowing coal-like eyes.
The three-legged Prowler scuttles away, changing color to blend in with its environment.
The pillar-shaped Prowler extends its two main appendages, swinging at Rabi.
The two-legged Prowler shambles towards Hermodur, reaching out to ensnare him.
The blob Prowler produces several more appendages and swings wildly at Zunden.
Violet hangs back, following Silver's example and taking cover, spear at the ready.Roll #1 1, 4 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 8, 6, 1, 7 = 22
I quietly curse under my breath, and make an attempt to summon a swarm of smaller rats to help out, making an attempt to stay back and avoid the actual combat. Something tells me that I'm still a little out of it and won't be much help right now.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
>>693464>Don't even have inure, guess I basked Healing Bonds.
Zunden takes her staff and hits the amorphous creature with a solid thwock
"Zheze zcalez have protected againzt worze, monzter, don't zhink I'll fall eazily."
[1d10] untagged weaponRoll #1 2 = 2
"What bizarre, ugly creatures," Hermodur says in a confused tone as they appear in the light. "Who wants to fight me first?" he says menacingly, holding his hammer of his head.
"Ah, we have a volunteer," Hermodur smiles as the two-legged one approaches him. "But, you don't seem to move very quickly for a predator. Your mistake will cost you your life for you now face the power of a god!"
He plants one foot into the ground and winds up. He lets the rocket roar and his entire body swings around right into the side of the prowler's head.
>Hunter's Eye on the two legged prowler>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] DC-1, take the higher rollRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
/ Roll #2 10 + 3 = 13
Rabi will hop back a little bit, and fire a bolt of fire at the blob Prowler- he'll take care of it as quickly as possible, if he can!>Magic Bolt: [1d10+2] [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility>Elementalist: FireRoll #1 10 + 2 = 12
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
peering out from behind a bush, i coat my shivs in the dark blue of midnight oil, positioning myself behind the pillar prowler before lunging forward, flashing my blades across it's hide!
[1d10] Sleep serumRoll #1 10 = 10
A handful of small rats scurry out of the cage for now, sniffing around apprehensively. >>693466
You get a good hit on the Prowler, but are in turn repeatedly stung by its many tentacles, knocking you over. They leave a foul-smelling ichor that smokes and burns you. At your blow, the Prowler retreats, retracting some of its tentacles.>Zunden takes 6 hits, helpless>>693467
As the two-legged one tries to grapple you, you retaliate with a devastating downward swing, crushing it under your powerful hammer. It recoils and slithers away from you, almost seeming to shrink in size.>>693468
You nock a flaming arrow, draw as you take careful aim, then fire. The blob-shaped Prowler emits an awful hissing noise as the fire hits it, shrinking away into nothing, tendrils retracting into the red and grey gem at its heart until nothing is left of it but the crystal.
As the pillar-shaped one tries to get a hit in on you, you retaliate with a quick draw of an arrow, piercing its rippling body. It shrinks away from you, but still manages to leave a nasty mark on you, striking you across the chest.>Rabi takes 1 hit>>693469
You lash out with a quick slice of your coated blade, slicing through its many tendrils. It seems to falter and stagger in its approach, convulsing madly. Before it can react to you, you dart back to your hiding spot, hiding once again.>>693465>>693466>>693467>>693468>>693469>3 Prowlers remaining
The pillar-shaped Prowler clumsily swipes at Rabi, weakened considerably by Silver's poison.
The three-legged Prowler pounces out of nowhere, sprouting several tentacles as it leaps at Norvegicus.
The blob-shaped Prowler, although injured, continues its assault on Hermodur, striking with its two main tentacles.
You see Violet creeping up to finish off the pillar-shaped one.Roll #1 1 - 1 = 0
/ Roll #2 2 + 3 = 5
/ Roll #3 2 + 2 = 4
/ Roll #4 4 + 2 = 6
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
I scream in surprise as the prowler pounces on me and takes me to the ground. I thrash around and attempt to fight it off.
The swarm of rats washes over it, nipping at it. (animal swarm deals constant damage to non-helpless creature)
Roll #1 2 = 2
shaking the excess oil off my shivs, i draw the blades through a thin stream of clear fluid, eying the beasts from the shadows.
as the three-legged one leaps from it's hiding space, i follow suit, intercepting the creature with my daggers, slashing towards it's glowing eyes!
[1d10] BlindRoll #1 7 = 7
"Nice one, Silver!" he shouts, nocking another arrow and taking a shot at the Pillar
Prowler as a follow-up! >Bow: [1d10+1] (+1 from Arabian Agility)Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
"Did you think you could escape your fate?" Hermodur shouts at the creature as it backs away. He presses a button on the grip of his hammer and the front of it opens up. He swings the hammer to launch a high velocity explosive at the two legged prowler.
>ranged attack [1d10+3] [1d10+3] DC-1, take bigger rollRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
/ Roll #2 7 + 3 = 10
"Hardly a challenge, really. fighting these 'prowlers' is foals play!" i smugly reply, laughing hautily as i carve into another creature.
You manage to pick yourself up, although dazed somewhat from the attack.>>693472
You manage to avoid getting hit by its pounce, but it still pins you down as it lands right on top of you. Struggling to get out from under it, it kicks you with its back leg in the stomach, leaving you winded.>Norvegicus takes 4 hits
The rats start attacking the Prowler. As they start gnawing at it, it is distracted and starts trying to shake off the small creatures.>>693473
You manage to slash it across where the face should be, leaving it confused as it writhes horribly for a moment, trying to regain its bearings.>>693474
You fire an arrow at the towering monster, piercing where its head should be. It falters and begins to shrink away into nothing.>>693475
It manages to strike you across the jaw, leaving a stinging, smoldering mark. In retaliation, you fire an explosive charge into it. A hideous smell fills the air as it is blasted into smithereens, bits of black flying every which way. Despite your effort, however, the creature is still standing, although on its last legs. It is missing one of its primary tentacles now, and lurches towards you almost defiantly.>>693471>>693472>>693473>>693474>>693475
In its last throes, the pillar-shaped monster lashes at Rabi, only to be run through and cleaved vertically by Vilet as she jumps out from her hiding spot. Its tendrils rapidly recede, leaving only a gem behind.>2 Prowlers remaining
The three-legged Prowler sprouts several tentacles, trying to grab the horde of rodents assailing it, throwing them every which way.
The two-legged Prowler, although fatally wounded, swings at Hermodur wildly with its remaining appendage.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 7 + 2 = 9
With the three-legged one rendered blind by the poison, i rush in with both shivs extended, slashing wildly at it's wriggling mass!
[1d10+2] melee, +BlindedRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7
Deciding to keep her trap shut after being downed, Zunden sends the healing warmth of the sun to her allies.
>Healing Bonds: Hermodur Zunden Norvegicus
[1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
I struggle for air and fumble with my cage again. My hands are trembling and I barely manage to get it closed fast enough to attempt another summon, this time going for two.
The swarm attempts to stay latched on, continuing to tear at the thing.Roll #1 7 = 7
Hermodur presses the button again and the front of the hammer closes. He smiles at the Prowler. "I admire your bravery," he says before swinging at it one last time.
>[1d10+3] [1d10+3] DC-1, take bigger rollRoll #1 9 + 3 = 12
/ Roll #2 1 + 3 = 4
Rabi decides to follow up Silver Song's swings, firing a magically-charged arrow at the three-legged Prowler, which splits into two arrows, the second spiraling towards the two-legged one!>Ranged Attack: [1d10+2] (+1 from Seeker Bolt, +1 from Arabian Agility)>Trick Ammo: Split>>693476>>693478
"I'm almost dissapointed, really! They're almost too easy."Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
With both of your blades in hoof, you divebomb the Prowler and go to town on it, carving it into fine art.>>693479
The end of your staff starts glowing intensely, then smokes with an ominous hissing sound and absorbs all the light in the area.>>693480
You manage to summon two large brown and white rats to aid you. They seem intimidated by the creature as it lashes at the rats attacking it, eventually ridding itself of them. Some of the rats are slain in the process.>>693481
It manages to hit you again, this time across the face. It stings and burns at your eyes, leaving you blinded momentarily. In retaliation, you swing wildly and finish the Prowler with a mighty uppercut, sending it flying and hitting a tree. The tendrils quickly recede, leaving another gem in its place. The effort, and your mounting injuries, leave you completely exhausted, reeling in place.>Hermodur takes 4 hits, helpless>>693482
Your magical arrows find their mark, spearing the two-legged one as Hermodur finishes the job, and pinning down one of the three-legged one's main tentacles.>>693478>>693479>>693480>>693481>>693482>1 Prowler remaining
You are suddenly plunged into darkness as Zunden's magic backfires and snuffs out all the light in the area, save for the embers of the campfire. Violet curses loudly and rejoins your group. You see the towering beast staring at you all with its bright red eyes, then it disappears into the darkness without a trace.
"I zuppoze it iz my bed time."
Zunden says, brushing herself off and laying back down on the cold earth next to the dark remnants of the campfire.
after my eyes have adjusted to the sudden dark, i watch the final prowler fade into the night as i clean off my shivs.
"My, what a rude wake-up call! Luckily these ones were far less effective than our first encounter."
"Did anyone catch sight of those gems they leave behind? I'd imagine we can make quite the necklace with what's left of them." i finish, laughing lightly into the dark.
"I'll grab zem in ze morning, it'z ze middle of ze night and I waz trying to zleep."
Hermodur puts his hammer and sun away. "What bizarre creatures… I wonder from where they hail.">>693485>>693483
Hermodur laughs heartily. "What a delightfully grim idea."
He takes his sun back out and begins searching for the gems in the not-so-darkness.
[1d10] if necessaryRoll #1 8 = 8
"Oof! Who turned out the lights?" he shouts, staggering a little as he loses sight of where he is. He wanders back to the campfire >>693485
"I did, actually- seems rather strange. Maybe it's some sort of… heart? Core? Not sure. With the hit that last one took, though, it'll be some time until it returns, so you'll have to make do with three.~" he teases
I furrow my brow as I look in at the rats in pity. "Sorry guys," I whisper. I click my tongue and recall the rat swarm, close my cage, and summon everyone. I join everyone else and heave a heavy sigh.
"Everyone alright?" I ask, rubbing the back of my head. Maybe they didn't notice just how useless I actually was?
"Oh I suppose only
three will have to do, for now."
"And when we do
run into more of them i'd be ever so grateful to the fearless archer who would risk health and hoof to collect a few more for his lovely mare friend."
"They always seem to make an attempt at running. Usually I'd assume it was just natural preservation instincts, but in this case, it feels more… suspicious. Perhaps it's just that the creatures are so odd and nothing more."
I'm quite well, not to worry. Despite the rude awakening we conducted ourselves perfectly and very nearly wiped them out."
"I'd say that's an excellent sign of times to come, wouldn't you say?"
"Well, there's more of us than there are of them," says Violet. "And you're quite the fighters yourselves. As long as you stick together, a pack of them shouldn't be much to worry about."
"I'd advise against that idea, by the way. Those hearts of theirs are some powerful dark magic. I wouldn't mess with them.">>693487
"Your guess is as good as mine," Violet shrugs. "I don't think they're natural though."
You scavenge about with your sun orb to guide you, eventually finding the three Prowlers' hearts among the tall grass. You can see black tentacles wriggling inside the gem, and looking at them for too long makes you feel uneasy.>>693489
You recall what's left of the rats into your cage. A few of them split from the group and run off into the wilderness instead, never to be seen again. What possesses them to do so, you can't imagine.>>693484>>693485>>693487>>693488>>693489>timeskip
After your altercation with the Prowlers, you crawl back into your tents and get rested for the rest of the night. None of you sleep all too well after your encounter, having odd, dark dreams.
The following morning, you awake to find the ground blanketed in thin mist. While not enough to hamper your vision, the mist gives the woods you are camped in an eerie feel. Violet seems exhausted from keeping watch, and wakes some time after you all, greeting you groggily and helping herself to some of the rations.
"Alright," she says after everyone is set to go. "So. Directions. He shouldn't be too hard to find, and I've been here before, so I know this patch of land fairly well. Keep heading that way." She points deeper into the woods "Go in a straight line and eventually you should find an old black cauldron in a clearing, surrounded by a bunch of fireflies. This is going to sound strange, but talk to the cauldron and tell it what you want, and it should take you to the sorcerer."
"Now, I have to warn you, Black Pudding can be a bit… odd. And ill-tempered. Visitors are expected to pay some sort of tribute, only he doesn't take money. Any sort of trinket would do well really. Those Prowler hearts, for instance, or some of those Sleeper Fruits. He believes in favors for favors. Remember to be polite, do what he asks you, and don't talk back. It's actually probably better if you don't speak at all unless spoken to. And try not to stare too much."
"That's about it really," she ends with a shrug, staring at you all with her one purple eye. "I'll wait here and work on this campsite. Going to be here a while. …Good luck."
"Before we go, let uz zee what iz to come of our dealingz wizh Black Pudding."
Zunden says, taking out her tarot deck and drawing a card from it, thinking of the mysterious magi and his interaction with the party.
>Once a day feature of 'Draw From the Arcana'
"Oh? so these hearts are more dangerous than i thought."
"Well, i'll certainly keep that in mind, not to worry." i nod, eying one of the hearts as Hermodur walks past.
come the next morning, i take a length of cloth to carry some of the sleeper fruits with me as i prepare to leave.
"Straight ahead it is, then. Ready when you are, everyone!"
I nod along as Violet tells us what to do. Cauldron? Well, I guess it makes as much sense as everything else so far. And being polite should be easy enough. I look over everyone else, lingering on Hermodur for a moment. For most of us at least.
Before handing the gems over to Silver Song, he looks them over with a worried expression. "I won't keep these from you, but I highly advice you not keep them for long. As a servant of a god, I know foul magic when I see it. This will bring nothing but trouble."
The next morning, upon mentioning paying in the prowler hearts, he says, "Yes, that's probably the best use of them we'll ever find."
Hemodur waits for the others then gets moving back on the road again.
As much as I'd hate to get rid of them before I can actually use them, I grab one of my fruits as well and meander around the middle of camp, waiting for everyone else.
"Yeah, I'm ready whenever too."
"Oh, but of course. A necklace of more gems than stars in the sky!~" he says, his voice taking on a sickeningly sweet tone, only broken when he chuckles a little>>693492
"I'd agree. We've weathered things pretty well so far, haven't we?">>693493
"Odd? Alright, I'll… see what I have. I'm certain the group of us can scrounge up a few things of interest, can't we? And, thanks for the luck. Hopefully, we won't need it.">>693495
"Any ideas on a little trinket? I'm afraid I haven't much on me of interest."
"I appreciate the concern, Hermodur." i reply, slipping the gems into my vest. "I won't rush headlong into danger for a fashion trend, of course. I'll assess the 'danger' of these heart, then
see what comes of it." i finish, nodding assuredly.
"In the meantime, i'll take a few of our sleeper fruits with us, i'm sure this'll work just as well.">>693499
"Hmm, well, we'll need to procure some proper thread to hold them, they're quite weighty for their size, and find some way to-"
"Oh! you mean for the offering. Well, I've brought some fruit for trading, once we pick our way towards that cauldron." i reply, nodding to my makeshift cloth bag.
Rabi chuckles a little bit, before shrugging "Fruit could do, yeah. And, maybe he has some sort of thread? Who knows?"
You take a moment to read the cards. You find that they are portentous, telling you of conflict, uncertainty, and a revelation of some sort. More than that, you cannot glean.>>693494>>693495>>693496>>693497>>693498>>693499
You bid Violet farewell and head off into the woods as she instructed, heading in a straight line. As you walk, you notice that there is very little wildlife to be heard, if any at all. The occasional buzz of an insect, but that is it. There are no animals to be seen either. It is as if you were alone in the world at this moment.
Eventually, the silence is broken by a very faint, melodic ringing sound, which grows steadily louder as you keep moving. You find the source of the sound when you reach the clearing Violet mentioned. Just as she had said, in the center is a small, black iron cauldron, plain in design save for the four legs it stands on, which are shaped like lion's feet. Fluttering above it are a swarm of bright yellow fireflies, which seem to be the ones making the ringing sound. As you approach, the ringing stops as the fireflies flitter into the cauldron and dim, giving way to silence once more. It's almost as if they are waiting for you to say something.
I swallow hard, tighten my grip on my cage's handle, and take a couple of steps back to let everyone else in front of me. Someone else can make the first move.
As they walk, Hermodur looks to Zunden an asks, "Do we have any more of that delicious meat?">>693500
"I suppose it's also possible they could come in handy at some point.">>693502
Hermodur raises an eyebrow at the cauldron. Suddenly, at this moment, he feels stricken with stage fright.
Stepping forward into the clearing, i take a moment to clear my throat before speaking.
"Er, yes, hello? Is there anyone here? My companions and I are looking for directions..?"
Zunden reveals to herself a card, upside down, depicting a large tent/hut that looks like it could fit dozens of people, surrounded by 4 sharpened wooden spears leading up to it's entrance.
"Four of Wandz reverzed… lack of communication, inztability. Zhiz zhould be interzting…"
she says mostly to herself, looking up to the large cat,>>693504
"Only az jerky I'm afraid. I did not want it zpoiling and attracting fliez."
She tosses Hermodur a small pouch from her belt, filled with chewy Keeper pieces.
Rabi'll let Silver Song and her Silver Tongue do the talking, for now.
Hermodur takes 2 pieces and return them to her.>>693505
Hermodur watches cautiously, concerned something bad might happen. His hand twitches, ready to grab his hammer.
Nothing happens for a moment. Then, the fireflies flutter out again, and a low, sneering voice emanates from the cauldron.
"More of thine kind? How droll. Too long hath it been since we had visitors, and now seven in the same week. Curious, say we. Quite curious. …Very well. Follow, adventurers.
The cauldron springs to life, trotting along through the woods on its four stubby legs. Following it, you find that the woods are joined to a large, twisted stretch of swamp, the trees becoming barren and twisted. Nearby you can see a very old, rickety wooden hut covered in vines. As you follow the cauldron along, the hut itself comes to life also, uprooting itself to reveal several hairy, insectoid legs attached to the bottom. The ground rumbles as the hut walks slowly towards you, eventually coming to rest in front of you.
The cauldron comes to a stop as wooden plank door of the walking hut creaks open, and out slides an enormous pitch black goo pony with a single eye in the center of his face. He grumbles softly before pointing at the cauldron with a gnarled wooden staff. "The tribute," Black Pudding demands. It's the same voice that came from the cauldron. "Thou hast remember to bring tribute, hast thou not?" He glowers at you from his vantage point atop the wooden porch of the walking hut.
I take a step back when I see him step out of the hut. Somehow I was expecting something… Different? A cackling warlock in a massive stone tower surrounded by… well, for some reason I'd just sort of assumed Black Pudding was the one sending the prowlers out, which in hindsight might have been kind of dumb. I swallow and nod, stepping toward the cauldron with my fruit.
"Of course, m'lord," I say, dropping the fruit into the cauldron. I bow my head, keeping my eyes downcast in hopes of giving an air of subservience. "I cou