No.698082[Last 50 Posts]
Hermodur, Norvegicus, Rabi, Silver and Zunden have traveled to the cruel, unforgiving expanse known as the Shifting Sands with their companion Violet. On the way, they became allies with the monks of the Lunar Monastery after helping them solve a murder case. The culprit, a bat pony mare named Aurora d'Arbanville, has also joined the party on their travels.
Back in the Dominion, Hermodur has had visions of Ailuros' continued campaign. Against her normal wishes, the would-be princess has contracted a Fire Witch, members of a sect of Celestia that are known for their prophetic powers. Ailuros is using the Fire Witch's abilities to routinely check on Hermodur. Hermodur himself has also encountered a Fire Witch called Fever Ray, who suggested trying dragonfire to transmit messages out of the Echoes.
Meanwhile, Zunden encountered a crippled mare called Dawn, who was under the care of the monks, who was found by them under bizarre circumstances. She soon found that this was the same Dawn whose ruined journal they had found at the start of their travels, although she was unfortunately not able to say much to Zunden before passing out. However, her most grevious wounds have been healed, and she will recover in time, although it is unlikely she will be able to see well again.
The Shifting Sands have proven themselves as deadly and treacherous as their reputation. A vast expanse of crimson sand, the Sands are populated by all manner of monstrous creatures, such as the predatory Terreocti or the elusive but deadly Bone Shambler, and the few that live there have been driven to madness and desperation by the desert. To make things worse, the party have discovered that the desert itself is alive, comprised of millions and millions of tiny treasure-loving insects masquerading as grains of sand.
Not all is despair, however. The party have not only grown in number with the addition of Aurora, but also made the acquaintance of a pair of traveling merchants, Rosen and Gilder, from who they acquired clothes for their journey as well as a disparity of magical trinkets. After having claimed water supplies from a reaver camp nearby, the party stand poised to embark on a long and arduous stretch of their journey traversing a vast salt flat. Beyond lies the center of the desert where Violet has heard great treasures can be found in forgotten ruins, as well as the heart of the Shifting Sands: an immense spire known as the Hive.
Old thread: >>695148
After a meager dinner, you find yourselves falling asleep one by one. Violet seems oddly distant, speaking little for the remainder of the night. The overhang where you have camped is cold and uncomfortable, but you make do with what you have. Your sleep is restless and plagued with bad dreams.
You awake the next morning and waste no time in preparing for the journey ahead. For breakfast, Violet shares some delicious bread rolls she'd packed from the Moonlight Monastery. "The last good meal for a while," she comments glumly. After this, you get to work dismantling the tents and set off down the scarlet dune towards the salt pan below.
It doesn't take you long to get to the bottom of the dune. It only just now occurs to you how far you really have to go. What must have once been a lake is now a vast, neverending stretch of flat blinding white. There's not a sign of life as far as you can see; even the incessant drone of the Sands is quieter here, fading to a low murmur in the back of your head. The scent of the sea is in the air, and as you step out you feel the soft crunch of minerals under your feet. Aurora wordlessly expresses her reservations, hanging at the back of the group and only stepping out onto the salt after everyone else does. "…Well, no sense in dawdling," says Violet, trying to stay optimistic. "Everyone watch your step. Could be cracks in the ground."
>>698083>rested, +1 wound (5/3 > 5/4)
Feeling a little better since last night, Zunden Basks in the desert sun, poking ahead of her with her staff as she walks.
"I no longer zhink I will be optimiztic az long az we are crozzing ze dezert. It haz not done me any favorz thuz far,"
Zunden mutters to herself, adjusting her shawl.
>Bask: Healing Bonds
"I've never seen a stretch of desert quite like this," Hermodur comments. "It's… unsettling."
He stops using Mjolnir as a walking stick, not wanting to ruin the metal with excess salt.
I wake up in a haze after nightmare after nightmare kept me from getting any respectable amount of rest. I only remember bits and pieces of them. Specific items I can't put context to. A bloody dagger. A beak gnawing on flesh. Manic smiles. Even worse, the heavy feeling from last night only seems to weigh even more now that I've had time to think about everything.
I reach up and touch my face, wincing as the scabbed over gashes sting beneath my fingertips. I sigh, shake my head, and gather my things. As we travel, I remain completely quiet, both not feeling like saying anything and not knowing what to say.
My stomach turns as I look around at the endless expanse of nothing. Still, I clench my jaw and silently follow everyone else, only moving just barely before Aurora.
squinting as i peer out over the vast expanse of the salt flat, i try to shield my eyes with a wing.
"Quite the line of sight out here! At the very least we won't have to worry over an ambush.">>698084
"Then again, this hasn't exactly been your standard desert now, has it?"
"Between the cannibals, dunes of dead bugs and giant bloodthirsty insects we're quite lucky to have made it this far."
"You and me both," Aurora comments, gingerly treading the ground. "I never thought I'd say this but I miss the Dominion. At least not everything there was trying to kill me.">>698088
"Don't curse it," Aurora grumbles. "Don't you dare curse it.">>698084>>698086>>698087>>698088https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7pPFMb_Vkc
The next six days consist of nothing but endless walking. Violet periodically plants flags to mark the path you've taken, so you can find it on the way back. As you progress, the droning of the Sands gets quieter and quieter, fading away altogether by the second day, and all you can hear is the soft crunch of the salt underfoot. The landscape barely seems to change, and you use the Hive far off in the distance as your guiding marker, as well as Silver's compass. You eat and drink little and speak even less, Violet recommending you save your energy for the daily trek. Before long, you start to realize the sheer size of the Hive as you draw near, less of a spire and more like a mountain jutting out of the middle of the Sands.
You barely see any signs of life on your journey. On a few occasions, you find the remains of some unfortunate soul who lost his way out in the desert, or a stranded animal you don't recognize, usually Terreocti but also other strange insects with centipede-like bodies and long, grasping pincers. One memorable occasion has you come across what looks like a dead whale, but is actually the dried carcass of some sort of gigantic burrowing worm flopping out of a hole in the salt pan. Aurora remarks that there seems to be some shred of truth to the stories of sandworms in forgotten places.
Eventually, you reach the other side, deprived of a large portion of your food and water. You are even closer now to the Hive, and the droning sound has returned as you climb a dune and take in the nearby view. It looks now not like a mountain, but a towering volcano, made of some bizarre brown and black material. The winds in the area seem to sweep towards it.
Nearby, you can see a change of pace from the endless salt, rock and sand. Vast, sprawling stone ruins spread out and around the base of the Hive, remnants of some long forgotten civilization. Violet, whose spirits have been low for much of the journey so far, perks up at the sight of it. "So there is something worth exploring after all! Knew this wasn't for nothing."
"Hm… Where to first? There seem to be the remains of someone's tomb northways, but over there to the northeast it looks more like a ghost town. Either way, we should be wary. I doubt we'll encounter anyone friendly here of all places."
"Neizher of zhem will have food, mozt likely. If we're lucky perhapz ze tomb haz organz perzerved in honey, and we could fetch zhat out."
"Bezidez, it iz ze more likely choize if we wanted to avoid an encounter."
"We're here to raid ruins. Let us raid ruins," Hermodur says, gesturing to the tomb.
I keep my eyes to the ground, mostly lost in thought. When Violet asks where we should go first I briefly look up and mutter "Tomb." before glancing back to the ground. Knowing how everything has gone so far we'll probably be ambushed either way, so it doesn't even really matter.
struggling up the side of the dune, i take a moment to catch my breath.
"I..doubt we'll find anypony at all
out here, remote as it is."
"As you mentioned, if we're quick while we're here our supplies should hold until we're past the flats again. Tomb first, if we find something of note we'll see what comes of it."
Hermodur gives a concerned look to Norv. "You've been overly pensive for days. Did my story cause this?"
Violet looks at you incredulously and wrinkles her nose. "Gross. You really want to try two thousand year old organs?">>698093
"No one that doesn't want to kill us and steal our kidneys or something, at least," says Aurora. "I'm with you. Best stay away from anywhere that looks like it might be inhabited, after last time.">>698090>>698091>>698092>>698093
"Tomb raiding it is then," says Violet. "Let's go."
You keep moving north towards what Violet said looked like a tomb; however, it seems that she was mistaken, at least in part. It's no tomb, but a graveyard, judging from the sandstone monuments poking out of the ground every which way. Some of them have inscriptions on them, but it isn't an alphabet you can read. Aurora looks nervous, half-expecting skeletons to pop out at her at any moment, but not such thing happens.
"Hm… disappointing," Violet remarks. "Was expecting something more noteworthy." She starts looking around the graveyard for anything else of note. Aurora soon joins her, although she doesn't seem entirely convinced the graveyard is safe.>roll Perception
I glance up, only half catching that the question is directed at me at first. "Hm?" The words actually take a second to click in my head. "Oh, no, it's just… Well, it's a lot of things. Don't worry about it."
I wander around the graveyard, scanning the indecipherable script on the tombstones. The whole place is eerie, but somehow it makes me less uncomfortable than the flats. I look up and glance around the ancient cemetery.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Zunden snorts, letting out a hearty laugh,
"Ze honey, Violet. Honey never goez bad."
She continues to laugh for a short while, before stopping,
"Ooh I need zhat, haven't laughed for a while. Of courze I wouldn't, zhat's dizguzting."
Zunden looks around.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
After examining the tombstones only to run into the same indecipherable text, i let out a sigh of irritation.
"Please..don't tell me that these
are the ruins you mentioned.."
trying another stone, i roll my eyes after seeing more of the same markings, glancing up at our surroundings.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
Hermodur rubs his chin in thought. "Why would they bury their dead here? Are the corpses even still there?"
Hermodur starts digging at one of the graves.[1d10] for digging because fuck perception!Roll #1 1 = 1
You just see the tops of more stone buildings, buried in the sand. Nothing really sticks out to you right now. You can't help but wonder who was buried here.>>698098
She looks rather sheepish. "…Well, I don't know how you carnivores work. Me personally, I find eating meat in general absolutely revolting."
"Is that true?" Aurora asks curiously. "About honey? That's pretty interesting.">>698099
"Might be," she muses. "Or at least part of them.">>698098>>698099
You notice two cylindrical structures jutting out of the sand further on into the graveyard, in an area that plateaus into a flat clearing. They look surprisingly similar to the cylinder Violet found washed ashore on the beach where you landed. Zunden would recall it is connected to Dawn.>>698100
"More likely this is one of those places that just appeared here from the outside," Violet comments. "It happens sometimes, like with that abandoned church we saw once. It's how Braildorn was founded, actually. The settlers here happened across a copied city, found it uninhabited, and made themselves at home."
You start digging into one of the graves, only to be greeted by withered pony bones and the funk of 40000 years scorching your nostrils, courtesy of what look like an endemic species of fungus growing within.>Hermodur takes 1 hit>>698097>>698098>>698099>>698100
Zunden and Silver point out the similarity between two cylindrical pillars nearby and the cylinder Violet has been carrying ever since the beach. Her eye lights up as she hears the news, and eagerly heads on down to the flat area. "Yes! What are the odds?"
Following her, you find that the two pillars are arranged in a particular geometric shape, surrounding a stone disk on the ground covered in runes. Both pillars present are in a traingle formation, as shown by the indent where the third should be, while in the spaces between the pillars are filled by three much smaller pillars, totalling five (six counting the one Violet has). All in all, they form a triangle within a hexagon.
Violet removes the cylinder from the cart and moves to place it in its slot, but hesitates. "…Should we really be doing this? I mean, we've come this far, but anything could happen once I put it in. What… What is this place?"
"Ah, so that
would be why you were insistent on carrying that cylinder, a key!"
"We've made quite the trip to see just what is out here, Violet. To leave without seeing it now
would be a tragedy!"
I resist making a comment about dying maybe being better for us in the long run, and instead just shrug. "If we turn around now then it wasn't everything -all of it
- for nothing? I say to hell with it. Roll the dice."
"It a valued commodity Abyzzinia, given all it needz after hundredz of yearz iz warming up, zinze it doez
"Yez, no point not trying it. It may unlock a zecret tomb, or end up being wayztonez. Exploration requirez experimentation."
"Ah, that makes se-" Hermodur begins to say as his nose is suddenly assaulted by the smell. He falls onto his back out of the grave and hacks and coughs.
"That wasn't worth it at all…" he mumbles as he finishes his wheezing and gets up.
Then, Hermodur watches silently as she prepares the cylinder. "Isn't that why we came here? To find out? And then benefit from it."
"…Fine. No sense in getting cold feet now, I guess," she says with a slightly nervous smile. Aurora stands way, way back, flying up and perching on a nearby tombstone like some overgrown raven.
Violet steels herself and plonks the cylinder down into the slot. Immediately, glowing blue lines spider out from the pillars towards the center of the disk. There is a sound like ice cracking, then the stone crumbles away, revealing a staircase beneath it that leads underground. Instead of leaving debris everywhere, the chunks of broken stone simply vanish as they fall, leaving the staircase completely open. There is a pregnant pause.
"…Well, that just happened…" Violet slowly digs around in the cart and starts lighting torches and passing them around, along with the poison resistant masks Black Pudding gave you. Since there aren't enough for everyone, she and Aurora make do with strips of cloth. "Just in case, you know? Might have to deal with traps down there. If this is what I think it is, we're in for a real treat." Aurora gives her a curious look, but doesn't press the matter, humming to herself in an effort to steady her nerves.
As you begin to descend the stairs, you notice even more tombs dug into the walls, with great stone coffins nestled within. Unlike the graves outside, these have inscriptions on them in the common tongue. They almost all read as follows:
"GRAVE OF A NAMELESS VANGUARD. RAISED HIS SWORD FOR THE GREAT DRAGON."
The exceptions are few and far between, the only differences being that they give a name for whoever is interred. Most of these seem vaguely Abyssinian: Azif, Talin, Phintias and Isran are among the names listed, although apart from this they all share the same epitaph.
Eventually, reach the bottom of the stairs, although what you find there disappoints Violet.
"Don't tell me we came all this way for nothing!"
Indeed, there is nothing but a circular stone room here, with a few more vanguard graves in the walls. There are a few curios strewn about here and there, such as brass goblets and clay urns, but nothing of real value. At the far end of the room is an alcove, within which sits a stone basin of some sort. Nearby is a small stone and a chisel. Violet starts taking what she can, occasionally cracking open a grave in desperation for anything of worth. Aurora starts looking around, checking for hidden passages or anything at all of particular note.
Zunden approaches the basin with interest, checking for ash in case it might have held a fire at some point, or discoloration of the stone from once holding a liquid.
[1d10] investigationRoll #1 7 = 7
"How terribly barren." i comment, my voice echoing off the stone walls.
trotting ahead, i take the time to examine the basin. "Hmm.."
"This seems suspicious. For all this effort to seal the chamber off, there simply has
to be more."Roll #1 1 = 1
"What is this place," Hermodur asks curiously. "Or at least, what did you expect it to be?"
He picks up the stone and chisel and observes it. Is there anything already carved into the stone? [1d10] for observationRoll #1 9 = 9
I step inside, disappointed in it just being a normal tomb. I don't know what I expected when Violet said- What was it again? Some kind of wizard or something? I'd half expected the bodies inside to come to life and attack us as soon as we walked in. Instead it seems pretty normal. Almost too normal compared to everything else we've seen in the desert so far.
I follow the party to the basin and look around, trying to figure out what they're looking for.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
The basin seems empty. The bottom has been repeatedly scratched with something, presumably the chisel. You notice that there are also some ominous dark stains both on the basin and the floor surrounding it.>>698113>>698116
You don't see anything worth observing.>>698114
"Well, according to that history book I got back in Ironbrook there was this old king of Abyssinia, Lucan, who became a notorious treasure hoarder. He was so greedy that people started calling him the Dragon," she explains. "He supposedly built this huge vault somewhere to store all his treasures, but no one ever manage to find it." She shrugs. "Doesn't look like much of a vault to me."
The chisel seems to be used for carving inscriptions into something. Looking around, you see something carved into the ceiling of the room. Upon closer inspection, you can see that they spell out some kind of riddle:
"MY BODY IS RADIANCE AND COWARDICE. I LEAD TO RUIN AND GLORY. ALL COVET ME."
Hermodur reads the inscription and stares at it for a moment. He looks to the basin.
"It would seem this IS a vault," Hermodur announces to everyone. "This inscription would suggest there is a riddle here. I would guess that if we were to solve its meaning, we will find the way in."
He shows the inscription to everyone else.
Zunden brings a claw to her chin, scratching it,
"It zeemz like gold… but zhat'z too eazy, right? It'z zeemz too obviouz for it to juzt be gold."
"Is gold cowardice, though?"
Squinting as i read the ceiling inscription, i take a seat as i ponder the riddle.
"Hmm.. Radiance and Cowardice, Ruin and Glory.."
"Fire, perhaps? That would be radiance, and i would imagine fire can ward away the dark for those who are afraid of it.. But what of Glory?"
"You heard what Violet zaid, ze man Lucan waz greedy and hoarded hiz treazurez away like a coward. Don't zhink he'd call himzelf a coward in his grave, zhough."
I squint up at the riddle everyone else is looking at and tilt my head. H'm. Radiance, cowardice. Ruin, glory. Coveted by everyone. I scratch the back of my head, listening in as everyone tries to puzzle it out. I suppose gold would
almost make sense, but the cowardice part doesn't really fit. Fire would also make sense. Maybe even more sense.
"Do you guys think the chisel is important?"
"Along those lines, the sun perhaps?">>698396
"That's… actually a good point. Why is the chisel still here? Did someone really just chisel this then just drop it on the ground?"
"I ztill don't get cowardize."
Zunden says, frowning.
"What if it is something like the Sun? Like, what if it's not something physical we can just bring down? Maybe we'd have to carve it somewhere or something instead?"
"Well, day and night. The sun is always running away from the moon, right?"
"Gold could work. Not sure what else I'd go with, anyways.">>698398>>698400
"Maybe that, or not being able to look at the sun? Not for long, at least."
"Quite right! Though i still have my doubts over the sun as the key. How would the sealers use the sun when this tomb is underground?"
"That would also sorta make sense. Ruin because of droughts and famine, but glory because of abundance. Same reason everyone would covet sunlight-" My ears fold back and I glance away, suddenly realizing I'm probably the last person that should be giving input. "But maybe I'm just stretching it. Just a thought."
"Well anywayz, I don't zhink it'z ze zun, but atleazt I have an eazy way to tezt. It'z not like zheze zhingz have any weight, zo it won't zet off a prezzure plate."
Zunden says, casting her sun orb to rest in the basin.
Zunden does this thing
I rub the back of my neck, visibly sagging a little more. "Yeah. Thinking we were supposed to carve the answer somewhere with the chisel was pretty dumb. Sorry. I'll just, uh, let you guys do your thing."
"Quite alright, we are
trying to puzzle through this, any idea is better than giving up and leaving empty hooved after all."
"Actually, I wonder if the chisel is a clue. Or at least an aid in case we do not have what we need. As in, the answer can be gained by chiseling it out of something in this room."
Hermodur looks around the room for any gold that could be chiseled away and put into the basin. [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Let'z do one zolution at a time, zhough."
Aurora does a double take. "Huh. Guess we're not stuck down here after all.">>698392>>698401
"I'm leaning towards gold as well," Violet says, "although it does seem too simple. Anyone with a brain could guess that, and he doesn't seem the type to let people into his vault easily.">>698394>>698396
Violet starts looking around, taking note of the scratches in the basin. "Looks like we are meant to carve something here. Can't make much sense of what's there already though. Get the feeling we'll only get one shot at this too, so we should be absolutely sure before locking in the answer.">>698404>>698405
Nothing happens, save for illuminating the area even more. You see what looks like an archway outlined on the solid stone wall behind the basin, presumably the door that will open once the puzzle is solved.>>698408
You don't spot anything else in the room, apart from the basin and the stone coffins sticking out of the walls.>>698391>>698392>>698394>>698396>>698401
"Maybe there's multiple answers?" Aurora suggests, pacing around the room. "Or maybe we have to put something in the basin? I don't know. I'm no good at puzzles." Violet starts jabbing at the wall impatiently, trying to brute force the riddle lock, but to no avail.
I perk up a bit. "Wait, what? I was right?"
"So, a carving, is it?"
"Sculptor i am not, i'll have to leave that for somepony else. At the very least we can narrow down the options to either Gold, the sun or fire, unless we've had a new idea."
Hermodur starts to double back to see if there's anywhere else there might be scratches on any surfaces. [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Just tried zun, or az cloze az I can get to replicating it."
Zunden pulls out her deck of tarot cards, harumphing,
"Perhapz I zhould invoke ze Arcane to zee if zhere'z anyzhing zhat would help our decizion."
"I'm sure there are more answers, but it seems like those are what come do mind." I look around the now brighter room, rolling the riddle over in my head as I do.
[1d10] (Fuck it. I'll actually roll for a hint.)>>698414
I deadpan. "I meant about carving something. But yeah, maybe that could help."Roll #1 1 = 1
"One shot? That's… troubling, but, alright.">>698414
"Maybe the Arcana would be a good thing to try. They seemed right before." the stallion notes, trying to look around the now brightened room.>Perception? [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
"Seems like it." Violet shrugs.>>698412
"I'll do it," Violet offers. "Not that I have much experience, but I can give it a shot.">>698413
There are some chips in the wall at some intervals, but nothing that suggests a solution to the puzzle.>>698415
Nothing really comes to mind right now, but you get the feeling it's one of the three options presented to you.>>698416
Inspecting the room, you notice that apart from the scratches in the basin, there is a small, flat, circular indent in the center of it, as if something is meant to be placed there.
Rabi points out the indent to the rest of the group. "Hm. Looks coin-shaped to me," Violet comments. "Maybe the solution is that simple after all."
"Really? Well if everypony is alright with it we could try fitting a coin in. Maybe we truly are
"Huh. Well, lucky us, I suppose. Maybe we need to try that then."
"Zoundz fair, I'll zave the Tarot for anozher time."
Zunden zayz, holding open the bag of holding if anyone wanted to do the honors.
"Who has a coin?"
"Surely if one of us were to scrounge around in that bag of holding we could dig up one
I shrug, reach into the bag, dig around for a bit, pull out a coin, and carelessly slot it into the hole.
"I gave all my money to Rabi," Hermodur says indignantly.
Roll #1 8 = 8
"Hey we put it to good use."
You hear a small whoosh
as you put the coin in. Jerking your hand away, you narrowly avoid an ethereal blue spear that juts out of the basin.>>698419>>698420>>698421>>698422>>698424
A tense, silent moment passes as Norv's hand is almost impaled on a magical spear. "…That was close," Aurora mumbles after a moment. "Looks like we'll have to be extra careful."
Violet's hooves shake a little as she uses the chisel to carve the word 'gold' into the basin, stepping back quickly as soon as she finishes. The arch-shaped outline starts to glow cyan, arcane symbols and lines growing across the wall and basin alike, in the same fashion as the disk that blocked entrance to the tomb.
Then, the basin and archway alike vanish, opening up an entrance to a vast circular chamber filled with piles upon piles of gold. Shelves carved into the stone walls are lined with ornate artifacts of disparate appearance, many Abyssinian in fashion but many others looking like they were collected from all over the world. There are passages at regular intervals leading even deeper into the vault. Statues of Saddle Arabian soldiers bowing in sumbission can be seen positioned around the vault, armed with shields and spears.
Violet's eye lights up, grinning like a madwoman as she takes in the sight. "Oh my God. YES."
The center of the vault contains a very peculiar artifact separate from everything else: a very large egg, about half the size of a pony, with a smooth, glossy black surface. However, as you approach, a magical blue cage appears around it, blocking access. Aurora reaches out curiously, poking the cage only to hiss and jump backwards as it burns her. "Wow. He really didn't want anyone getting to this, did he."
I stumble backwards and freeze in place as the spear shoots from the basin. My heart leaps into my throat, and for a moment I just stare.
Just as I'm starting to calm down a little, though, I look up at the piles of gold. I can practically hear my heart in my ears, and my jaw hangs open, and small drops of thick drool drip from my floppy jowls. Everything that happened since I wound up here disappears from my mind as I greedily eye the riches inside.
I swallow and pick my jaw up from the ground, wiping the back of my hand across the side of my mouth. "Yeah. I can't really blame him, either."
"Are you SURE he wasn't a dragon?" Hermodur asks as he stares at the egg curiously.
Hermodur holds his hammer nervously and stares at the egg. "Everyone else collect what you can. I'll watch this…"
Stunned as the glint of gold suddenly shines under the miniature suns, i take a moment before shaking my head and entering the chamber.
"Oh my.. This is gold enough for several royal ransoms, a veritable mountain of wealth!"
giddily moving through the chamber, i take a moment to examine the artifacts scattered among the shelves.
"Presumably these are enchanted as well! What a find.. but what of that egg? You don't suppose there was more to his 'Dragon' title than they thought?"
"Now Zhiz feelz like ze plaze to invoke ze Arcana. Lezt not greed guide our actionz."
Zunden says, taking the Tarot Deck out and kneeling, shuffling the cards, setting the deck down.
"Only one card for guidanze, I do not zeek ze pazt, prezent, and future."
>Draw from the Arcana: Once Per Day action
"Woah… I'd expected treasure, but this is…" he shakes his head a little, before looking around the room.
"So… should we take stuff, or?">Spotting anything unusual [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
"I mean it's what we came here for." I follow everyone into the room and start thinking about how much gold I can load into my pack for myself. "Do you think it's trapped?"
"Yeah, that's exactly my thinking. Who would put this much treasure out and not do that?"
"It's not exactly 'left out'. It's hard to find the tomb AND hidden within the tomb."
"Still, why stop at just two layers of defense…?" he mumbles ominously as he continues to stare at the egg.
"Unless of course they assumed nopony would figure out their riddle." i chime in
"Hrm… maybe. Let's just be careful though, yeah?"
"Of course, not to worry." i reply, waving off the concern with a wing while looking through the shelves.
"I'm certain we'll be just fine, Rabi."
You see Violet very cautiously reach down to one of the piles of gold, take on coin, then another, before starting to scoop it up in hooffuls. "Seems safe to me.">>698429
Looking around the room, you see an urn depicting the historic Battle For Canterlot about 300 years ago. Twilight Sparkle, the now-Alicorn Empress, is seen alongside the Five Saints standing firm in front of a black tsunami, presumably a symbolic representation of the Changelings.>>698430>>698431
"Couldn't have been," Aurora muses. "I've seen a dragon egg once before, and that definitely isn't one. That just looks… ominous.">>698430
While your attention is mostly on the black egg, you spot a ceremonial shield among the piles of treasure, with a polished silver trim and an embossing of a roaring lion at its center.>>698431
In one of the alcoves, you spot an old pony-shaped mannequin wearing a dress that seems to be made of a combination of embroidered cloth and steel plating. It looks like it was designed to battle with style.>>698432
You take a moment to crouch down and do a reading. This time, the cards bode ill, speaking of betrayal and an unseen enemy.>>698433
You spot a blue crystal on the ceiling, dangling from a small chandelier. It seems to be powering the cage around the black egg. There are also some strange shapes on the ceiling surrounding the chandelier, but you can't really make it out too well.>>698429>>698430>>698431>>698432>>698433
While Violet starts scooping up as much money as she can, Aurora starts exploring deeper into the vault, wandering into one of the passages. You all hear a soft click, then a whirr. Aurora yelps and scrambles back as buzzsaws come out of carefully concealed slots in the walls of the passage, moving back and forth at regular intervals. "That could have been worse," she breathes. "Watch your step around here. Hm… What's that at the end?" Without getting too close, she starts trying to make out the other end of the passage where the buzzsaws are spinning, but can't get a good look. "Some sort of weird statue at the end. C'mere."
Seeing Violet fill her bag with no problem I crouch down and start shoveling as much gold as I can carry into mine. I slow down but don't stop as I see the saw, and after I've managed all I can comfortably cary in my bag I walk over to Aurora. "What's that?"
"Well, that's a fine piece of equipment," Hermodur comments as he walks over to the shield, still keeping an eye on the egg.
He picks it up and observes it. "I wonder if it has any special qualities…"
[1d10] to understand the item if necessary… or useful… or possibleRoll #1 8 = 8
Spotting the dress hanging from the old mannequin, i approach cautiously noting the design and start to search for a way to remove it.
[1d10] Trap search
"Oh my! I didn't expect something like this
down here, it looks lovely!"Roll #1 9 = 9
Zunden shouts, before anyone continues, holding up a card depicting a saurian dead in the sand, ten swords pierced through their back,
"If ze trapz are not portent enough, zhiz iz ze Ten of Zwordz. Dizazter may zoon be upon uz if we are not careful. Not only doez zhiz card zhow defeat, but alzo betrayal. Anyone or anyzhing here may not be what it zeemz."
Zunden says, observing the egg,
"Zhat may not only be a trap, what if it iz to hatch?"
"Which is why I've been watching it," Hermodur says as he observes the shield.
Rabi blinks a couple of times and looks at the crystal, letting out a soft, curious hum. He squints a little harder at the shapes, trying to see what they could be.>Perception: [1d10]>>698444
"There's something above the egg. I don't like this…"Roll #1 10 = 10
"Hatch?" i ask, peeking out from behind the dress mannequin "Well i suppose we would have to take what we can and run. Given our record fighting horrendous monsters attacking a dragon
is a fair bit out of our league."
"Aurora zayz it'z no dragon. We've been zurrounded by inzectz in zhiz dezert, however…"
"So then shouldn't that just mean we leave? Like, really soon?"
"Obviously, we don't leave empty-handed."
"Ah.. an insect egg. Wonderful.."
"Well, with the magic cage surrounding it presumably keeping it dormant it feels slightly safer. We would simply have to avoid anything that could potentially release the spell."
The gold coins seem to be of a weightier alloy than what's used in the modern day, so you cannot carry much. Still, you find yourself slightly richer than before.>+250 bits
You go to see what Aurora's found. Through the grinding saws, you can see some sort of stone statue in the chamber on the other side. It looks like it depicts a horned snake-like creature, but you can't make out the details.>>698442
You examine the shield without touching it. You can sense some sort of magical energy emanating from its surface, especially around the lion's head, but it does not seem to be booby-trapped.>>698443
You examine it further. The cloth is a deep navy blue, contrasting nicely with the gleaming silver of the plating. Chainmail is deftly woven between the cloth and the steel plates, making for a sturdy, lightweight and, most importantly, fashionable set of armor.
As you examine it, however, you see that acquiring it will not be easy. As soon as you get too close, the mannequin's head jerks towards you stiffly, staring you down with its blank face. It does not move again, but it is clear now that it is animated in some fashion.>>698446
Looking closer, you can make out several long, curved shapes, followed by a large triangular one. It almost looks like enormous bones. Taking in the whole picture, you can see that they are bones. The skeleton of an enormous dragon is clinging upside down from the ceiling, almost like an overgrown gecko.>>698444
Violet stops mid-scoop, begrudgingly emptying out some of the coin she'd already looted. "You're probably right. I've got a bad feeling about that egg. Let's just get out of here and take what we can.">>698448
"Doesn't look like an insect egg to me," Aurora comments. "More like some overgrown bird laid it. Strange."
"O-Oh. That's a, uhm… that's a dragon skeleton." he says, trying to check around the room a little more. Maybe he can find something cool in here, or at least something to disable those buzzsaws with.>More looking: [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Hmm.. it seems Zunden's warning was correct, this hoard is
"..However, it simply wouldn't do to leave behind such a lovely dress.">>698450
"Oh Hermodur~" i start in, offering a smile and gesturing towards the mannequin with a wing. "Do you think you could carry that mannequin stand there? I suspect the dress is a trap of some sort, but if we were to take the assembly with us
we may be able to disable the trap later."
Nodding, Zunden finally gets to looking around the room, looking to take a memento before everyone leaves.
"Take ze Bag of Holding if you do, anyzhing zhat'll weigh you down more zhan a few coinz or a pieze of jewerly zhould go in."Roll #1 3 = 3
"In a moment, I'm taking this first," Hermodur says as he PICKS UP THE SHIELD, DAMNIT!
"That doesn't sound like a particularly safe idea.">>698452
I'm not really sure what I could find that would actually interest me, but I decide to follow everyone else's lead and look around at the artifacts, or at least find something I'd have an excuse to take.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Well, as i see it, the dress
is logically the subject of the trap, correct? if we just take the mannequin with us
we wouldn't technically trigger the trap."
"..provided the enchantment isn't on the mannequin as well, of course."
"The dress is trapped and you were asking me to take it?" Hermodur chimes in, sounding insulted.
"Please, i wouldn't risk your life and limb over taking the dress
, hermodur! I merely wanted you to take the whole mannequin, for later!"
"..Unless, of course, you're afraid of a mass of cloth and wire." i add, leaning in with a grin.
"If so, i suppose i
will have to risk my life in this desperate
struggle against window dressing furniture." i add, covering my eyes with a hoof.
You check some of the side rooms. There seems to be a side passage linking to the chamber beyond the buzzsaw hallway, but this one too seems to be rigged. Fortunately, you spot the pressure plate and move through into the chamber beyond.
This room seems to be filled with stone statues and effigies of varying types, depicting a variety of races, most of them sapient but others more monstrous. One in particular catches your eye, the one Aurora saw from the other side. it depicts a winged, two-legged snake-like creature with the head of a goat. Its wings, horns and limbs are all mismatched, like it is comprised of an amalgamation of different creatures.Oh finally, someone's here.
You hear a deep, elegant voice in your head all of a sudden, as if they were standing right next to you.Why, it's been so long, I can barely remember the last time I saw a friendly face. How would you like to make a deal, friend?>>698455
You take a look around, eventually finding a simple amulet among a pile of other assorted jewelry. The pendant is made of bronze, and is encrusted with a gleaming emerald. You can feel some sort of magical power coming from it.>>698456
You take the shield, finding yourself gaining sudden insight into its nature.
>Silvermane Kite Shield>shield
An enchanted kite shield from the island nation of Andraxis. When timed properly, it can provide even greater protection than a normal shield, shrugging off all but the most powerful of blows with ease.
>Bulwark: automatic instant, recharge 4; You negate all incoming physical damage. If the source is a ranged attack, you can reflect the projectile back at your attacker, dealing 1 less hit of damage than the original attack, minimum 1.>>698457
You don't manage to find any magical artifacts, but happen upon a goblet made of solid gold among the shelves of treasure. It looks extremely valuable.
Seeing Hermodur busy himself with a shield, i roll my eyes. "Well, i suppose it falls to me to find a method around this odd trap."
Approaching the mannequin, i wait for it to turn it's head before continuing, clearing my throat in the mean time.
"My, that's quite the lovely dress you have there, good.. er.. Mannequin." i lead in, keeping up a less than confident smile.
"But oh, it must be so
uncomfortable wearing such heavy mail and cloth in this place!" i continue, fanning my face with a wing.
"What say we make a trade? my current outfit, 'desert chic' i call it, makes for quite easy wearing in a stuffy old room as this. If you'd allow me, i can exchange that heavy dress for something a tad more comfortable!" i finish, watching the mannequin for a reaction.
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
Rabi looks around the area in confusion for a bit, before shaking it off- must be the some sort of magic. The stallion offers a shrug, and says "Well, is there anything around here you'd have that might fit me? I'm afraid all I've seen is some interesting bones, and this really, really neat statue."
Zunden looks at the amulet with suspicion, opting to brush the whole pile of jewelry into the Bag of Holding until they're in a safer place to identify, trying to make up for lost time given she started exploring the vault later than the rest.
[1d10] One more cursory glance through the treasures as she figures out where Rabi went.Roll #1 6 = 6
Hermodur nods with satisfaction as he appraises the shield. He puts his arm through the strap then tightens it on his forearm so that he can still hold Mjolnir with both hands, but also have the shield for protection.
He then looks for Silver to see if she still requires assistance. He does nothing for now.
I grin as I see the goblet. Better than any dumb enchanted weapon or armor. I grab it and stuff it as well as I can into my bag, slinging everything over my shoulder. Good to know the whole trip wasn't a complete waste of time and near-death experiences. Satisfied, I look around and decide to catch up with Rabi. "Find something else?"
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You talk to the mannequin with as much charm as you can muster. Unfortunately, it does not seem much for conversation. It continues standing around absentmindedly.>>698464Nothing here but us statues!
The voice sounds flattered at your compliment. But really, you'll want to hear me out. I think I might have figured out a way to get out of this awful dimension. It won't be easy, and I imagine it'll take quite a while. But it can be done. …I think.Tell you what, friend. You bring me over to the rest of your little crew and then we'll talk. I'm the handsome devil right in front of you.
You can only assume he means the statue of the strange monster.>>698465
You take the whole lot. If nothing else, it'll be worth a fortune.
Most of the treasure that you can see consists of gold coins and gems of varying caliber. You can see Rabi has entered a chamber that seems to be full of statues, which Aurora had noticed before.>>698466
You strap on the shield, feeling better protected already. Silver seems to be trying to chat up the mannequin, to limited effect.>>698467>>698468
You take the goblet and follow Rabi, barely sidestepping a pressure plate on the ground. You join him in a room full of statues of various races, including monsters. He seems to be particularly interested in a statue depicting a snarling horned monster with a serpentine body. Rabi seems to be speaking to himself.
"Are you sure you want me to pick it up? Surely, if it is trapped, then the mannequin is as well."
I stare at Rabi for a second. Welp. I can't blame him for cracking a little. Just surprised it wasn't me first. I step up beside him and put my hand on his shoulder. Cocking my eyebrow, I ask, "You okay, buddy?"
After waiting for a few moments in anticipation, I scowl as the mannequin continues its vigil.
"Hmm.. it seems my usual charm falls on deaf ears."
"Hermodur, what do you suppose we do, then? I'd hate to be forced to leave behind such a lovely dress…" I ask, gesturing downtrodden towards the mass of cloth in the alcove.
"Have you tried taking it off?"
"Well no, though when I originally approached the mannequin it fixed me with such a menacing glance I hesitated in disturbing it."
"Admittedly frightening, but it IS just a mannequin. We have fought more threatening things. Just try and see what happens."
Figuring she's the one with the magical storage, Zunden tasks herself with collecting the mundane treasures for later sale,
"I don't like lingering in one room for too long, ezpecially wizh zhat egg. We zhould be moving on soon."
"Hmm, true. Alright then, I suppose it's too late to have cold hooves over it, now or never and all that..">>698469
Beginning my hesitant approach towards the mannequin, I reach out and touch the dress, intent on removing the outfit.
"W-Wait, really? How's that even work?" Rabi asks, before flicking his ears and turning around>>698471
"Norv!" He says, giving the Diamond Dog a pat on the shoulder "I'm completely fine. The statue here is speaking to me somehow… in retrospect, I shouldn't have talked aloud… b-but, apparently whatever's in here has been working on a way out of here, and just about has it."
"You know, for some reason you sound less crazy when you say the statue is talking to you." I glance over at the statue in question, looking it over. Somehow not the weirdest thing I've seen since we've been here. I freeze when I realize what he just said. "Wait, as in a way back home? Or a way out of the temple, like we've just been locked in?"
"A way back home. I've got no clue how it works."
You store a sizable chunk of money in the Bag, as well as a large assortment of gems. >+300 bits>>698477
You touch it. Nothing happens, and the mannequin doesn't flinch. Tentatively, you start undressing it, eventually removing the armored dress entirely, gaining insight into its magical nature in the process.
>Royal Battle Raiment>passive; -1 hit taken from Dark magic attacks>An armored dress made for a long-forgotten duchess who had a taste for battle and a distate for warlocks. Offers significant protection against dark magic.
Nothing else happens for now. The mannequin remains inert.>>698470>>698471>>698472>>698476>>698478
You feel a faint rumbling under your feet and the distant sound of whistling wind, but it soon passes. Aurora joins Rabi and Norv in the statue room, examining the central statue curiously, while Violet seems to be contemplating a strange jade eyeball she's found.
I swallow and shiver a little at the thought of going back home. "And, uh… You think we should listen to the voice coming from a statue that's been locked in a magical trapped tomb for who knows how long?"
"I… don't think so. We might want to just leave this be. Find a useful item, and skidaddle, yeah?" he says, before looking to Aurora "Hey, Aurora. We found an ominous statue offering a way home.">>698483
"Mmmmm… I don't know."
"Well there you have it," Hermodur says as Silver takes the dress. "It would seem the defense was entirely based on the would-be theif's fear."
Then, the rumbling happens for a moment. "Or at least I hope…" he mumbles ominously.
I stop and look around. That can't be good. "Yeah, we should probably leave. Now, probably."
Zunden shudders as the ground trembles,>>698485>>698477
"We have made our profit. Zure zhere are more treazurez, but I'd razher leave alive wizh zome loot zhen die in here wizh all of it."
"It depends on what our employer wants," Hermodur comments idly.
Cautious at first, I remove the armor and look the fabric over with a wide grin.
"Aha! It looks like my fear was getting the best of me after all, it all turned out quite alright!"
Eagerly slipping out of view in an alcove, I take the time to undress and try on the new armor.>>698485
"Hmm.. perhaps my fears weren't completely unfounded after all." I reply, sticking my head out of cover to look around in worry.
"You don't suppose that was from the exit, was it?"
>>698484Oh, fie. Look, even if I wanted to lie to you I couldn't. Really. Those blasted twins put a spell on me so I can only tell the truth. It's AWFUL. Please, just get me out of here. I'm sick of having to look at the same wall every day, and these other guys aren't exactly riveting conversationalists.
Aurora looks troubled. "That… smells fishy. We sh-" She's cut off as she struggles to keep her balance following the rumble. "What was that?"That was a couple of hundred thousand tiny sand bugs heading your way. If you don't hurry up, you'll either get eaten alive or be trapped down here forever. I imagine either way is less than ideal for you. You get me out of this room, and I can try to find a safer way out of here.>>698489
You put it on. It has a faint smell of dungeon, but it fits you like a glove.>>698488
"I wish you'd stop calling me that," Violet says.>>698484>>698485>>698486>>698487>>698489
"Yeah, we should probably leave soon," Violet mumbles as she slips the jade eye into her pocket for later. "Before something horrible happens. …On the other hand, whatever that was, it just passed over. I think we still have a bit of time." She does a quick head count then frowns. "Rabi, Norv, Aurora, where are you guys?"
Aurora dips out of the statue room and rejoins the rest of the group in the main chamber. >>698485>>698487>>698489
"Rabi found something weird. There's a statue back there that seems to be talking to him. Says it knows a way to get back home. I don't know if we should trust it." Violet furrows her brow. "Yeah, that doesn't sound good. Maybe we should just hear it out though? I dunno." She glances cautiously back the way you entered from, in case something happens.
Zunden looks to Aurora,
"If ze ztatue had ze ability to take zomeone back to Equeztria, how zhen did our friend ze Dragon die here and had hiz pozezzionz buried wizh him. Ze only zhingz in here are treazurez and trapz, and zhat caliber of treazure would mean ze Dragon would not even have been buried here."
Zunden says, flatly.
"You hired us. You're our employer. This is your mission you've assigned to us," Hermodur repeats the sentiment he's already made. "I'll take your orders," he adds dutifully.
Hermodur then walks the way Aurora came to see the statue she is referring to. "Aurora says you've found a statue, Rab-" Hermodur says as he rounds the corner, however, he quickly cuts off as he sees the statue in question.
He immediately draws Mjolnir and revs it up. He stares it down with a ferocious but terrified expression. "You fools!" he shouts at Norv and Rabi. "Do you have ANY idea what you're talking to!?"
>[1d10] for sharpenRoll #1 8 = 8
"Yes that rumbling was quite ominous, i would sooner escape than worry about a cave in."
"And this statue, you're saying it may know the way out of this horrid dimension?"
"Well at the very least we can afford to listen to it, provided it can make it's point before the chamber collapses."
"Does… is anyone else hearing this, by the way? It's not just me hearing the statue talk, right?">>698492
"W-What? N-No, I don't."
"It's a draconequus!" Hermodur shouts in equal parts anger and fear. "A chaotic false god! It is nothing but pure evil. Don't listen to its words. We should leave now!"
I take a step back as Hermodur draws his weapon. "Woah, woah, slow down. First off, I'm not talking to anything. The statue is in Rabi's head, not mine. Second, no matter what it is I don't really think you need to go straight to the smashing.">>698494
I shrug. "I haven't heard anything yet."
"Drak what?" I look back over at the statue and squint. "I mean I guess it kind of looks like a dragon? Maybe some kind of wyrm."
"There is literally nothing more dangerous in all of existence!" Hermodur says practically pleadingly.
"A… huh?" he says, cocking his head to the side "I haven't heard of something like that…">>698496
"N-No one else is hearing things? U-Uuhhhh, h-huh… I'm liking this even less."
"So far, no. You're sure this statue is talking, correct? Have you had some water recently? Dehydration can make you hear things that aren't there, after all." I ask, looking with concern.
"I know we need to conserve water but I'd prefer you having a drink over losing your mind, Rabi."
I nod, continuing to stare at the statue. "Right. Most dangerous creature ever. I think I'm going to turn around and leave now." At the end of my sentence I do just that, walking back toward the main room of the tomb.
"Is nobody paying attention to the false god and chaotic being of pure evil part?" Hermodur says, growing annoyed.>>698501
"At least someone has the right idea…"
"Currently we're paying attention to you yelling at a statue while poor Rabi is suffering from heat exhaustion. It seems the trip took more out of him then we thought.."
"He's not suffering from heat exhaustion. He's being preyed upon by an evil being!" Hermodur says, growing annoyed again.
"Really, has NO ONE hear heard of a draconequus before?"
"I-I don't think I'm suffering from heat exchaustion. I'm not shaking, am I?" he says, looking himself over in confusion.
"Again, I do not zhink it matterz. It haz already lied to uz, why give it any more benefit of ze doubt."
Zunden says from the other room.
"It is a possibility, hearing things is quite a worrying symptom. Do you feel light headed? Is your vision clear?" I continue, feeling your temple with a hoof.
"I don't know, I didn't talk to it," she answers rather defensively. "I'm just relaying what Rabi said."
"Er, that's not him up there, by the way," Violet adds, gesturing at the skeletal dragon on the ceiling. "Lucan was a Felid, I think. His tomb is somewhere out in the Barrens. I've been there. That's probably some sort of guard dog, if I had to guess. Although, it doesn't seem to be doing a very good job." She jingles the the many coins in her bags for emphasis.
Seeing most of the group adjourn to the statue room, Violet joins them, while Aurora stays behind.>>698492
Mjolnir powers up with a gout of flame, trembling ominously.>>698493
You join the rest of the group and observe the strange serpentine statue.>>698494Oh, did I forget to reach out? My bad. Just give me a moment…>>698492>>698493>>698494>>698496There we are.
A genteel voice snakes its way into your ears. Violet gasps and does a double take. Awfully sorry, it's been a few centuries or so since I had to use telepathy. Let's start with the basics, shall we? My name is Persolus. Formerly chaos incarnate, now reduced to a hunk of rock and unable to say anything but the truth. A far cry from my former glory. A pleasure.Now, is this everyone in your little party? Because I do indeed know a way to get out of this cesspit. It involves that egg over there. I'm sure you noticed it. If you want to go home, you'll listen to what I have to say. Shall I continue?
Violet seems too shocked to give a response.>>698495Well that's a bit harsh.
He sounds genuinely. Here I am trying to help you get home and you barge in threatening me and waving that thing around? Fie! Put that down before you hurt yourself.>>698497He's right, I am indeed a draconequus. At least that's what you lot call me. I'm THE Draconequus, as a matter of fact. A bit of a lonely existence, really.>>698503That… was my mistake. Sorry. I can assure you he's perfectly fine. Maybe a little scrawny, but otherwise in tip-top shape.
He sounds genuinely hurt*
"Death is a preferable alternative to living under a draconequus' rule," is all Hermodur has to say to Persolus.
"Oh! Oh my, so he was fine after all.. I see."
Blushing furiously, I back away from Rabi, clearing my throat to gather my thoughts.
"This method of yours involves the egg? It looked quite ominous, what would you have in mind?"
Zunden grimaces, staying out of the room. She shouts to the others,
"I zuppoze I'll wait outzide ze tomb zhen, zhat way I can attempt to dig you out onze ze zhing collapzez the exit on you."
(not leaving yet)
"I'm with Zunden," Hermodur says, going to stand with her. "Nothing good can come from this."
Rabi huffs a little at the mention of scrawny, but can't deny it. He looks to Silver with a nervous giggle.
"T-Thanks for the concern, though."
A chill runs down my spine as I hear the voice, and I freeze in place. Slowly, I turn back towards the statue. I gulp again. Great. Cosmic being. It doesn't help that I haven't even really decided if I want
to go back to begin with. Now we're caught chatting with a being of literal chaos. Still, I stop and listen.
he scoffs. What sort of petty conqueror do you take me for? I don't want to 'rule' anything! You assume a lot, my friend. Just because I WAS a rampaging god of mischief, doesn't mean I still AM. …Well, maybe a little. But I can't do any rampaging in this state. In fact, I don't want to leave this state at all. All I'm asking you to do for me personally right now, is break off my head. …It might kill me, come to think of it. But I can't stand this place. It's so desperately DULL! Do you… Do you have any idea what it's like to stare at the same stone wall for a good few hundred years? If breaking off my head kills me, then so be it. If it doesn't, then even better!>>698511Well, I can't lie, so here goes. You're going to have to find a way to disable the magic field protecting it. if I recall correctly there's a crystal creating the field dangling from that hideous chandelier. That'll let you get to the egg, but it'll also wake up the dragon up there. Here's the fun part. Break the egg and take the orb inside. It's called the Porpentine. You'll want to hold on to that. After that, you'll want to run for your lives, because if you don't get out of here lickety-split you're going to get caught between a rock and a hard place. By which I mean an angry skeleton dragon and a swarm of flesheating bugs. Not to mention the whole vault will probably start to sink. So be quick about it, won't you!>>698513Oh, poo. Fine, have it your way. At least the rest of your friends have a good head on their shoulders!
You join Zunden and Aurora. "What's going on in there?" the latter asks. "Sounds like everyone's talking to it now.">>698512
As you wait, Aurora absent-mindedly picks up a gold coin and starts flipping it to pass the time, interrupted by the return of Hermodur.>>698515Oh, don't give me that look, you,
Persolus says. Believe it or not, I'm actually quite thin-skinned. At least I would be if I weren't made of rock.
"You just recently did a reading for an impending betrayal," Hermodur comments in an annoyed tone as he follows Zunden. "If they do anything that thing wants, they are utter fools."
Zunden heads for the exit, not wanting to die in the temple.
"Pick zhem up and carry zhem zhen, I can do nothing exzept leave."
"Why do you think I could do more than you?"
Zunden flexes, smirking a little,
"I have not been keeping up wihz my abdominal exzerzizez"
I study the statue for a moment. Is everyone trapped here? Even magical beings like the forest spirit and this guy. I just wish there was a way to tell if he was lying about not being able to lie. Maybe we could help->>698517
Actually that's a good point. It should be pretty obvious that helping him out is a bad idea, but I can't help but feel sorry for him. My expression softens.
"I-" I sigh and turn around. "I think we should probably go." I turn and walk toward Zunden and Hermodur before anything can change my mind.
"So, break the egg, take the orb and bring your head with us? Reasonable enough, though-" interrupted by the others brushing past me, I look down the hall towards them in confusion
"We've a chance to be rid of this place and you're choosing to stay? This could very well be our only way out!"
"Don't trust the false god of chaos," Hermodur calls back to her as he leaves.
"L-Look, Silver. I know you want to get home. I didn't really want to when I got here, but… I think having a-" he pauses a little, and stammers out "f-friend like you on the other side, I'd be willing to do it. But, something feels wrong here. What if we're being tricked?"
Persolus grows increasingly frustrated. Oh for crying out loud, what will it take to convince you lot?! I'm. Trying. To. Help. You. There's NOTHING in it for me. I don't even want to go back to Equestria or the Dominion or whatever they're calling it nowadays. You mortals are so narrow-minded. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. You know what? I don't even need your help. Go f-
As you leave, his words become increasingly fainter until they vanish from your mind altogether.>>698523Well, I hate to say it, but I don't have much of a choice. That last part is completely optional. I would very, very, VERY much appreciate it if you did, however. …I think you'd need your argumentative friend for that, though. No offense, but I don't think you'd be strong enough.>>698525For the umpteenth time, no tricks. Not anymore.>>698523>>698525What about you?
You can only assume he's asking Violet, who until now has remained silent. Won't you help me?
She takes a while to answer, but eventually shakes her head. "I… I don't know. I just don't know."Oh come on! That is such a cheap, copout answer!
You can almost see him rolling his eyes.>>698517>>698518>>698522
Aurora follows you outside. "Yeah, I think we're better off leaving it be. That's some evil magic at work."
"From what Ailuros has told me, 'magic' may not even be accurate. Its powers are… nearly godlike. I don't want anything to do with it. And, I pray to Ailuros that the others see the light."
Shifting my gaze between the statue and you, i offer a pained look in return.
"I..I want to believe him, but i can't do this alone. If everypony truly is set on leaving, i've no choice but to follow.">>698526
Dejected, i leave the chamber and follow the others out, head hung low as i trudge down the corridor.
I stop just before walking up to everyone else, realizing that Violet still hasn't joined us. Not listening to every part of me that's telling me to leave, I turn around and walk back toward the room with the statue. "Vi," I shout. "You coming with us?"
Rabi puts a foreleg around Silver and pulls her into a soft hug, before following alongside her out of the chamber.
"Godlike?" She looks extremely worried. "I didn't stick around long enough for it to get to me, but I had a bad vibe as soon as I saw it. What… what WAS that thing? ">>698528>>698530Pah. Fine. Have it your way. Hope you rot out there.
He blows a mental raspberry as you exit the vault.>>698529
You see Violet straggling behind, looking curiously at the crystal powering the field around the caged egg. You see she has a rock in her hoof. "I… Maybe we should do it. Not for him, but for ourselves…" She is speaking more to herself than to you, hesitating as she struggles with a difficult decision.Do it! Do it! Do it!
As you stand outside, you notice a sandswarm on the horizon heading your way. It is moving extremely quickly, growing larger and larger by the minute. "What's taking them so long?" Aurora frets.
Rabi turns to look at Violet on the way out, setting a hoof on her shoulder "Violet- you alright? You seem really… troubled, friend."
"If puzh comez to zhove, I zay we boot zome of ze rezidentz out of zheir tombz and take refuge in a coffin. I azzume zhoze zhingz are flezh-eating."
Zunden says, looking back at the entrance,
"Do you zhink we're being greedy? We need to zhelter ourzelfz, or elze we'll juzt end up rich zkeletonz."
"My, that's quite concerning.."
Watching the swarm approach, I look back to the tomb in worry.
"I don't suppose there's some method to take cover inside, is there?">>698688
"Hide inside the tombs?"
"Well.. I suppose if we've no other option.." I reply, shuddering at the thought.
"You can imagine how long ze zhingz have been dead, likely nozhing but bone left. It iz not zo grozz."
"Maybe something we could move in front of the entrance, just for now?"
"Mm, I suppose.. though hoofing bones out of a coffin to make room is still quite grizzly work.">>698691
"Was there something to move in the main chamber? We would need something wide enough to block the exit, so much as a gap open and we're likely to be consumed."
"Zhey are not complaining."
"Hrm… we could check. Failing that, maybe trying to retreat further into the tomb? Or, the coffin trick."
I feel my heart climb into my throat as I see Violet holding the rock in her hoof. "Vi, wait!" I call out. "You can't." I run up to her and not-so-subtly put myself between her and the egg. "Just think about it. You don't know what that'll do. It's probably hidden here for a reason. With-" I gesture to the statue. "What was he again? Some kind of literal embodiment of chaos? I know you're smarter than that."
Hermodur grumbles with growing concern as Norv and Violet don't arrive from the tomb.
"They can't be so foolish as to lusten to it, can they?" he asks aloud with near terror in his voice. Without regarding the others, he fast-walks back into the tomb.
Seeing Violet not come back out, you return to find her facing the egg, seemingly debating whether or not to follow Persolus' advice. Norv seems to be talking her out of it, though.Why, she seems to have had a change of heart. Getting all sorts of ideas in her head. …It's not my doing, by the way. I'm not controlling her, at all. Limiting my power and influence is a particularly nasty effect of my current predicament, so if I could, I would have enchanted you all to do my dark bidding by now. Alas, I cannot. I couldn't even speak until a decade or two ago, actually. Not that it does me much good when there's no one for company but old bonesy up there.>>698688>>698689
"That could work," Aurora says. "Good thinking. I was thinking we could just run for it and let the swarm do its thing. Either way, we should get moving." She looks uncomfortably out at the oncoming cloud of insects, which is getting larger and closer by the minute, the faint drone of the desert getting slightly louder as they approach.>>698695
She hesitates again, but eventually nods, dropping the rock. "Yeah. Sorry. Just a passing thought. Stupid. Let's get going.">>698687>>698695>>698766
As Violet turns away, resisting the temptation, Persolus grows disappointed. Aww. I thought we had a good thing going. Are you sure you won't at least take me with you? I would so treasure a change of scenery. …Oh, who am I kidding. You wouldn't do that for me. Why would anything nice ever happen. Hmph.
You hear the faint droning sound grow louder. "That's not good. Let's get moving before we get caught in a storm."Oh yes, by all means, leave me to rot. Not that I can rot. I thought you mortals were supposed to be a compassionate bunch. Do you know how desperately dull it is to stare at a stone wall for millennia? It's torture. But you don't care. You heartless bastards.
"Oh, just shut up already. Come on, we're wasting time. Where's the rest of the group? Topside?"
"I'm certain you haven't even gotten everything you deserve yet," Hermodur responds to Persolus before he turns to leave with Violet.
"I believe the current plan is to hunker down in here. But considering the company, I'd very much prefer to avoid that option."
I knit my brow and glance over my shoulder at the statue. He literally just told us that if he could then he'd mind control us, but something still screams at me that I should help him. Something reminding me that, in spite of everything I've seen so far, that everyone deserves a second chance.
I grit my teeth and ball my hands into fists, tightening my grip on my cage's handle. Something Hermodur said rings in my mind, just below everything else. Mercy is for the strong. If you can't back it up, then what separates mercy from cowardice or stupidity?
I turn around to Persolus. "I'll come back when I've sorted everything out. Once I can guarantee letting you out won't destroy everything, and figure out a way I can make sure you're telling the truth, then I promise you. I'll return to help you. Even if I have to come back alone. That's the best I can do and the best you're going to get from
pretty much anyone."
I turn and walk toward the group. "We need to find shelter. Some place we're not going to get trapped in."
"Where are we to flee to, zhen? I have alwayz known to weazher a ztorm, not try and outrun it."
"Given the speed of the swarm we really should make a decision quickly."
"I don't suppose those ruins could act as shelter until this swarm blows over? I very much doubt we could outrun one
of those bugs, much less a cloud
"Wasn't there a town to the-" I think for a second, holding my hand out in front of me and using my other hand to triangulate where we are. "I think it was east. Think that'd be safe enough to spend the storm in?"
"Yeah, but we're a little stuck. A big storm is rolling in, and we're trying to figure out a way to deal with it. I'm not thinking that braving it would be for the best, but barricading ourselves in here with that… thing, might not be the best either."
"Ze tombz are welcoming."
Zunden says in passing, testing the weight of one of the covers to the coffins.
>>698770Well that's just rude. What did I ever do to you? Here I am offering you a way out and you spit in my face. You hurt me, fuzzypants. You really do.>>698772Oh, you melt this old draconequus' heart. Blessings, blessings. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee we WILL meet again. But I hope we do. I like you already.>>698774
"That could work. I'm just worried we'll get sealed in that place somehow. Might be a safer option really.">>698773
"I think Silver has the right idea. We should try hiding out in that town instead.">>698775
"Good idea," says Violet. "If we move fast we should make it before that storm hits.">>698776
"I'm with Zunden on this one. We should try and hide in that abandoned town we passed."
"Well let'z move zhen, no point dizcuzzing when we're lozing time."
Zunden says, pulling up her shawl and leaving.
I give Persolus a quick, resolute nod and follow the party. "If we're going to go then we need to go quick. I can tell you now, I've seen swarms and infestations of insects." I shiver. "Including the flesh-eating kind, and I can tell you right now. You don't even want to get caught on the edge of one." I follow Zunden.
"Oh certainly, i would trust a relatively sturdy building over ancient tombs any day."
checking my belongings and glancing back at the oncoming storm, i pick up my pace and head back towards the town from earlier.
"Now, i would imagine being in a place so remote we're not likely to run into other travelers, but all the same we mustn't lower our guard. Anypony rough enough to survive out here is certainly rough enough to be a cause for concern."
"Yes, I'd rather not stay here," Hermodur comments as he looks back at the tomb.
He rushes toward the dilapidated town.>>698780
"I would strongly advise removing that encounter from your mind. Thinking about him is exactly what he wants. From what I've been told, even gods have difficulty dealing with such a creature."
"Right. No time like the present." he says, quickly following the others.>>698782
"How many times have you bumped into something like that?"
"I've never seen one in person. And I hope I never do again. I only know what Ailuros has told me."
"Well, glad we had the heads-up. It didn't feel
right, but I had no idea it'd be that bad."
"What he said earlier, about the way home.. Do you think he might have meant it? If he truly is as dangerous and powerful as he is, could he really create a way out of this place?"
"…Probably. I don't know what else that 'way out' would do, but… I'm sorry we had to choose that way."
"I haven't the slightest clue," Hermodur shrugs. "And, I assume he doesn't either. Not that it couldn't. But, it's a creature of chaos. You have to assume that whether and it can or even would do something changes from moment to moment."
"The more important thing is that there is no bribe great enough to let out such an evil. Doing so for your own gain would be the most despicable act imaginable."
>>698779>>698780>>698782Ta-ta! See you in your darkest nightmares. Guess I'll just have to practice my scary voice for the next century or so…>>698779>>698780>>698781>>698782>>698783
You reunite and promptly move back down towards the abandoned village. The buildings are all round, like igloos, and made of dark red stone. They have clearly not been used in many, many years, and it is difficult to find a place for all of you to hide. You eventually find one, however, in what looks to have been a town hall at some point. The sands have all but taken it, but the roof is still intact, and you find enough rubble lying about to seal the door shut.
As you huddle together, the storm starts to blow in, bringing with it a bitter wind that rages against the walls of your shelter. It seems to never end, and the building threatens to collapse more than once. The buzzing sound is almost deafening, persisting for hours and hours.
Eventually, the storm passes, and the buzzing dies down to a low roar. As you emerge, you find that it is now about late afternoon; more importantly, the entrance to the vault is completely sealed now, claimed by the Shifting Sands. All around, you can see the imprints of coins, trinkets and baubles carried away by the gold-seeking insects. "Least we managed to get some of it," Violet comments. "I reckon we should camp for the day, then start planning our expedition out of here. We got what we came for, after all. Unless you guys want to stick around a bit and explore more?"
keeping casually close to Rabi during the storm, i keep an ear out until the swarm clears, watching the scenery from the town hall door.
"Hmm.. I suppose we could
take a look around once camp was set up. Perhaps there was something the bugs missed in one of these buildings?"
I sit down against a wall and close my eyes, trying to drown out the sound of the buzzing with my thoughts. It was doomed from the start, as all I manage to do is remind myself how many times I've screwed up, how useless I am, and the mistakes I'm probably going to make later down the line. Everyone says they like having me around. That I've helped out a bunch, and I'm only getting stronger. I know that they know they'd be better off if I wasn't here. And I can still hear the damn buzzing.
My stomach sinks as I see the vault sealed. If we'd stayed inside then we'd probably still be in there too. I swallow and lick my lips. "Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Camping for the day I mean."
I glance over at where the vault was, hoping to see the key cylinder still slotted in with the other two.
"If you feel this was a lucrative enough venture, then there's no need to stay in this accursed place any longer. You ARE the employer, it's your decision," Hermodur reminds her as he loves to do.
"Not a terrible idea, yeah. Between the heat and the sa- err, bugs, a good chunk of it might not be worth much, but it's worth it."
"I zay zhiz bag iz eazily ze mozt uzeful zhing we've found zo far,"
Zunden says, patting her bag of holding,
"I would hate to have had to leave wizh my pack laden with gold.">>698792
"Zhiz, for the mozt part. We zhould divvy up our treasurez firzt and zhen it iz your job to dezide what to do wizh uz."
Zunden says, reaching into her bag and holding a fist full of jewelry,
"I have yet to count it'z worzh."
I cock my eyebrow and lash out a little more harsh than I probably intend. "Didn't she say that made her uncomfortable? So maybe stop pushing it? Did you think that maybe there's a reason
it bothers her?"
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
[1d10] loot diceRoll #1 3 = 3
moving from structure to structure, i duck my head inside to check for anything of note.
"Hmm.."Roll #1 4 = 4
Rabi will search, as well!>Shiiiet [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
[1d10] for loot>>698795
"It it bothers her, she shouldn't employ people."Roll #1 9 = 9
"That's what I'm thinking.">>698791
You can see that despite everything, the three brick cylinders are still jutting out of the sands. It will be easy to find this place if you return.>>698792>>698794
She rolls her eye. "Fine. We take what we can find here then leave tomorrow morning.">>698790>>698791>>698792>>698793>>698793
Now that the storm is passed, you start exploring the abandoned village proper, in search of anything the sands may not have taken.>>698796
You enter what looks to have been a marketplace, judging by the bare tentpoles and stone benches. Near one, tucked in some forgotten corner, you find a ring with a curious design across its surface, almost like interwoven leaves. A faint green light shines from within it, but you cannot glean what sort of magical abilities this artifact might have as of yet.>>698797>>698798>>698799
You manage to find a few coins, but nothing of particular interest.>+30 for Norv and Rabi, +45 for Silver>>698800
In what looks to have been a library, you find the remains of a magic scroll. The parchment is tattered and crumbles slightly at the touch, but the runes inscribed on it still burn fiercely. You are not sure what sort of enchantment it possesses, however.>>698790>>698791>>698792>>698793>>698793
The next morning, you start the long walk back. Because of Violet planting flags at regular intervals and the compass Silver purchased, you find it easy to traverse the unforgiving desert.
The journey lasts over a week. You eat little and drink even less, spacing your supplies out carefully for the journey. You meet few obstacles, save for a few stray Terreocti, but nothing you cannot deal with. The journey gives you plenty of time to reflect on your travels so far. It feels like a lifetime ago since you awoke on the black beach and met Violet. You have survived trials most would fall to, and yet you have persevered. For you, success has been a matter of persistence and concentration. You find that everything you do is a bit easier, more instinctive, and more satisfying. >You gain 1 Enlightenment Point
After a grueling journey through the sands, you find yourselves traversing a rocky pass at the border, eventually getting spat out into a dry grassy plain. You can see the sun going down, bathing the landscape in oranges and purples. For once, the breeze does not threaten to flay your skin, and the ubiquitous drone of the sands is no more. "Ugh. Finally," Aurora grumbles. "If I ever see sand again it'll be too soon."
Violet starts getting a camp ready. "So. Now that we're out of that awful place, we should discuss what happens next. I think we should make for Braildorn to unload our goods, but from there… Well, I don't know what comes next. Do any of you have ideas? Because I'm open to suggestions."
"I think we should check up on that patient we had back at the monastery at some point," Aurora suggests, looking pointedly at Zunden. "It's been a while. Maybe she's recovered by now. I'd like to know what happened to her, if she's in a good state to talk. Although, I'd have to sit it out. I shouldn't have to say it but I'm not exactly welcome there."
>>698801'This looks much safer than the trinket I currently wear… I've also yet to examine the artifact i found in the tomb. Best do it now that we're out of the gauntlet proper…'
Zunden says, examining the two magical items as they camp. She looks up from the jewelry as Aurora brings up the monastery, smiling and nodding,
"I'd like that, yez. I ztill have many queztionz az to how zhe ended up in zuch a ztate."
Upon finding the scroll, Hermodur stares at it pensively for a moment. He then proceeds to stuff it in his pocket. When he comes back to camp the next day, he shows it to everyone. Though, presumably, no one really has a way of knowing what it is.
Later on, as they start setting up camp, Hermodur comments on Violet's question. "I imagine once we are back in town, we have nothing tying us together anymore," he says in an aloof, but disappointed tone. "We were hired to escort you into the desert to recover treasure. We've accomplished that."
"I stare pensively off into the horizon as I make this realization. Alas, I am once again adrift, without meaning. I suppose I could occupy some extra time by finding out what this scroll does."
Hermodur reverts to his dramatic manner of speaking as he takes out the scroll and stares at it. "If Ailuros were here, I'm sure she'd understand what it does instantly," he sighs.
He pulls out the Dreaming Spring water and stares at it longingly. He knows it will do nothing but torture him. But, he must. He takes a sip from the bottle.
"Nozhing tying uz togezher? Not even ze fact zhat any one of uz would likely be at rizk of dying to briggandz or monzterz traveling alone? It may not be what everyone zhinkz i zuppoze, but what forze iz preventing uz from making zenze of zhiz foreign land az a group, razher zhan zplitting to go our zeperate wayz?"
finally escaping that sand trap, i collapse onto the grass, thankful for something besides dead bugs to lay on.
"Finally.. i may be able to get some proper sleep for once, free from those horrid bugs."
stretching luxuriously, i thoughtfully look out to the plains, watching the grass blow in the wind.
"Mm.. I'd imagine once we make it to Braildorn we could poke around for information on that portal ritual the guards used, for one. If we could recreate the magic with the blade we found, that might allow us a way out."
I remain silent for most of the journey, and end up little snappier than usual. I don't know if it's me getting tired of everything, or because of everything that's been weighting on my mind, but it seems like I've been a lot sadder and more irritable. I'm a little relieved when we make it out of the desert, and when I see the field of green I can't help but reach up and touch the scabbed over claw marks across my face.
I think back on everything that's happened so far. The world feels weird. Like it doesn't really exist around me. I can hear everyone talking to each other, but there's something about it that seems surreal. Almost disconnected.
I try to put it to the side and look over at Violet. "How far away is the Dreaming Spring?"
Rabi lets out a sigh of relief- he's used to deserts, but that was… a bit much.>>698807
"I'd say it can't get much worse than that so it's just getting better from here, but… I don't think I want to jinx it. Hopefully no more bugs though, right?" he says, with a bit of a chuckle. The mention of using the blade brings him a bit of pause, and he says "That might not be a bad idea. At the least, get a bit more information about how the whole thing works…">>698808
Rabi gives Norvegicus a pat on the shoulder, and a reassuring smile "Hey. Hopefully some of the less disturbed travel's given you time to settle things in your head. Feeling a little better now, at least?"
I give Rabi a small smile and nod. "Yeah," I lie. "A bit. I'll be fine."
"I mostly meant Violet," Hermodur shrugged. "But, without a common goal, its naught more than for safety's sake. Hardly a reason to live. Still, if you have need of me, I currently have no other reason to live.">>698807
"What blade?" Hermodur asks hopefully.>>698808
"That is actually something I'd very much like to find," Hermodur nods as he puts his own flask of Dreaming Spring water away.
"Oh yes, I'd imagine somepony
would have determined the steps for it by now, and a city like Braildorn would be the first place to check.">>698812
"Why, a guard's ritual blade, of course. A while ago me and Rabi had managed to steal the weapon from a group of bandits, i believe Aurora currently has it."
"You have one of those tokens, right? You could just use one to go there whenever you want. I'm sure the others wouldn't mind waiting a while.">>698805
"Well, you're not bound to anyone, you know. Not anymore at least. You can go and do whatever you want. Think for yourself. What do YOU want to do?" She looks at you quizzically with her remaining eye.>>698807>>698809
"Hm. A bit of a stretch, but yeah, we could do that. Although, there's only one wizard of real note in Braildorn last I checked, and he's…. well, he's not very competent. But he knows a fair bit. He might be able to help." In the background, Aurora tries unsuccessfully to rid her garbs of all the bugs. "Ugh. It gets EVERYWHERE. Never going to stop finding these things…">>698808
"Hm?" She thinks. "North from Braildorn, I think. At the foot of Mount Alken, near the Blasted Heath. Not easy to get to though. Why do you ask?"
Aurora takes a break from her fruitless task to show off the weapon. It is a silver longsword with a pointed guard and a patterned steel blade.
"Black Lilies. They're there, right? And two deer eyes. If the Dreaming Spring is north of Braildorn then that's the closest, right?" I swallow and look down. "And Braildorn is a pretty big city. Do you think they'd have some kind of library, or maybe some really knowledgeable mage?"
"Black Lilies. They're there, right? We need to get those. . ."*
"Good thinking, Silv." he says, giving her a friendly little bump.>>698816
"I'd imagine they'd have a library, yeah. Even if no books end up down here, plenty of knowledge likely does.">>698814
"Knowing something's better than nothing, right?"
"Hmm.. well, i suppose beggars can't be choosers."
"We'll see what he knows and move from there. Have to hold out hope that there's a way out, right?"
"I'd razher travel zhere while I have ze option to. Zhoze tokenz zound much more uzeful in ze caze of, zay, a zwarm of flezh-eating inzectz zurrounding me wizh nowhere left to run."
Zunden says passively, her attention still on the magical trinkets.
[1d10] IdentifyRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
"That's true," Hermodur says, perking up more. "We still have our business with Black Pudding. I pledged that I would assist the Lady of the Swamp!">>698814
Hermodur stares at Violet thoughtfully. He tries to think of something. Anything.
"All I want is to follow Ailuros," he says at last.>>698815>>698819
"An impressive find!" Hermodur praises Silver. "Surely, someone in here must have been a guard at one point. Someone must remember the magic. We just have to find them!"
I smile and perk up a little. "Yeah!" I say. "Exactly. You remembered! I thought you all either forgot or didn't care."
"Exactly! We would just need to find said guard and we may just have a way out of here."
She frowns. "There is a mage, but… is this about the swamp spirit again? You should forget about it. That's between it and the slimeball. None of our business.">>698818>>698819
"I guess." She shrugs. "To be honest, I'd rather trust Black Pudding than that hack, but if there's no other choice…">>698820
While you cannot discern the nature of the amulet, the ring proves quite useful, as it turns out. After testing it a little, you find that you can channel its magical energy to provide bursts of concentrated light around you.
>Channeler's Ring>A ring designed for magical warriors to focus in combat. Allows the user to concentrate their energy into erratic bursts.
>Flash: spell, recharge 3; Emit a burst of magical energy, attuned to an element of your choice. Affects enemies all around you, but does not deal damage unless on crit, instead debuffing them with the effects of your chosen element. >>698821
She rolls her eye. "I somehow doubt your Ailuros would want you to go out helping ancient swamp spirits. I'm telling you, that thing is no good."
"At the very least, we would be passing through the town on the way to the spring. Norvey could gather his lilies and I
can research the ritual without straying far from the group."
My shoulders sag as my spontaneously perky attitude dissipates. I swallow and glance to the ground. "Oh," I say. "Okay…" After a moment I look up and look around at everyone. Without thinking about it, I ask something that's been on my mind for a long time. One of the things that made me decide I wanted to leave the first town. One of the things that's nagged at me every turn of our adventure. "We- We're actually not heroes… are we?"
"Never claimed to be, I do not zhink."
Zunden says, putting the amulet back in the bag for now,
"I zhink ze clozezt word would be adventurerz? Explorerz? I do not know, people call me by many titlez, many of zhem even are accurate."
stifling a laugh with a wing, i shake my head. "O~hoho! Norvey please
! just about everypony
in this realm was sent her for being quite the opposite!"
"Thus far we've avoided ending what life we could, be it from coincidence or restraint, but i assure you mercy like that is a rarity here."
"Better than Black Pudding," Herodur comments with discontent in his tone as he uses the name.>>698826>>698827>>698828
"Heroism is less important than doing what is right," Hermodur says as he slowly lowers himself to sit down and starts doing some maintenance on Mjolnir. There's a lot of 'sand' in the parts, and he wants to get it out.
"What do you imagine a hero to be?"
"Now there's a plan. Could split up into groups, actually, now I think about it.">>698826
"'Drifters' is usually the term they use for our kind," Aurora comments as she whacks away at a tree stump with her sword, practicing her swings. "Apt, really."
Violet looks at you. "We are what we are," she answers earnestly." "If you want to make yourself a hero, then you strive for that, Norv. The way I see it, there's more freedom down here than ever before. You get to decide what sort of person you're going to be."
"That being said. If you want to go pursuing magical ingredients to free the Berrengaith then that's your choice. Last time I got involved with Black Pudding I lost an eye. Count me out.">>698829
"Rock and a hard place, big guy," she answers as she follows your lead, working hard to get all the grit and bugs out of her sword's telescopic handle. "One's a foul tempered overgrown mold and the other's an ancient being that'll probably wreak havoc if we help it. Like I said to Norv here, if you want to get involved, that's on you. I'm not having any part of it."
"Hmm, well.. one could easily imagine a hero as the classic knight in shining armor, fighting for justice and defending the weak from evil.. though by that metric we
would be the ones a hero would fight against."
I let out a quiet, cold chuckle. "Yeah," I say, not bothering to look up. "Sorry. It was a stupid thought. For some reason in my head I just always equated adventurers with heroes. I don't know, I just thought we'd be helping people more or something. I just-" I turn around and a small shiver runs through my body as I fight back crying again.
I manage to push it down, swallowing everything. With cold, idle detachment I say, "I don't know. You're probably right, Vi. I'm just an idealistic idiot. Probably shouldn't have brought it up. Sorry."
Without saying anything else I move to help set up camp.
"I don't see how fighting for justice would entail fighting us," Hermodur says without a tinge of irony in his voice.>>698832
"When you were arrested, what you expected was an opportunity to help people?" Hermodur asks, looking to Norv incredulously.
"No, we aren't. I'm sorry. That doesn't mean we can't do some good, though.">>698832
"You're not an idiot, Norv. I don't think it'd hurt for us to try and help people out a little more often."
"Really? Were we not acting against the law in the first place, being banished here as the result?"
I don't bother looking over my shoulder as I answer. "I didn't. I thought It'd be the end of my life. That I'd come here and basically end up killed within the first day." I pause and look up at the sky. "But then I found you guys, and you invited me to join you. You basically saved that first prowler. Violet helped us find our bearings, full well knowing we could be a bunch of serial killers and rapists. I just thought that maybe if I took the chance -if I became an adventurer- then I could maybe help this damned, blighted world be a little better, y'know? Like I said. Idealistic idiocy." I scratch the back of my head and let out a small chuckle. "For some reason I didn't think it was so idealistic back then, though. Not sure why that is."
"Law and justice are not always the same," Hermodur says in a sour tone.>>698836
Hermodur smiles as he listens to Norv and continues to perform maintenance on Mjolnir. "I know you probably don't want to hear it," he says, also not looking at Norv.
"But, you sound like me. You see so much bad around you, and it eats you up inside. You want to change the world. You want to make it better. You want to take the idiots who spend their days sinning and wallowing in their own avarice and beat some sense into them. If you had it your way, someone worth listening to would come along and beat them all into shape. Show them a better way."
"It's NOT idealistic," Hermodur says with sudden, pointed anger in her tone, turning his head toward Norv. He stares at him meaningfully for a moment. "'Idealism' is a term used by fools who are unable to accept their own weakness. They blame the world for all that is wrong with it instead of blaming themselves for being unable to change it. Do not be like them. You are on the right path. If you're doomed to be called idealistic, so be it. One day, you will stand tall above those weak-minded sinners and show them the glory of what you can achieve!"
>>698837>in her tone>too much time playing female characters
I freeze in place. That's right. Most of them aren't heroes. Maybe even none of them are, but the entire time, at every corner they've been there supporting me trying to be better. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open them again to look over at Hermodur the world around me is blurry, and a tear falls from the corner of my eye. I give him a small smile and a quick, resolute nod. With as firm a tone as I can muster through my quivering voice, I say, "I want to. I want to get stronger. To be the hero. To help people that are too weak to help themselves. To help people like I am now, and like I've always been. It seems like everything is trying to pull me away from it, but I don't-" I swallow. "I don't want to give up on that goal."
"If that's what it means to you to be a hero, then so be it. Be a hero. What you want to do is certainly a worthy goal. It's also what Ailuros and myself wish to accomplish."
"On my first day in this world, I stood on a hill and looked down on the land. I could see the glorious world Ailuros could create in this place. The beautiful order and peace she could create. I pray that one day once she has conquered Equestria and beyond, she will come for me here and will can bring that same order to these sinners."
"If such a day comes, you would do well to join her. She would be delighted to have such a devoted agent in her top ranks."
She frowns. "That's just harsh. Who said you were an idiot? If more people had your mindview this place wouldn't be the dregheap it is. Chin up, Norv. You're a good person. Don't beat yourself up like that. Like I said: You decide who you're going to be."
"Also, there's a spider on your shoulder."
The spider from the web you blundered into back at the monastery comes back to torment you as it clambers up your neck in a sudden panic.
I chuckle and wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. "I'm not joining your damn cult. But that doesn't mean I can't work alongside you if we share the same goal. Gods in heaven, it seems like all I do is cry. I don't know how you all are strong enough to handle this stuff." >>698841
"Yeah. Maybe. I just… It just feels like it's not a goal I'm actually supposed to reach, y'know? Like every time I think I have a chance to do good, or every time I try to solve a conflict without killing everything goes- wait, what?"
A chill runs down my spine as I feel the spider's legs tickle my neck. I scream, hop back, and reflexively move to swat it away.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You manage to swipe it off you. It lands at your feet with an audible plop
and scurries into the undergrowth. Violet snickers with amusement.
"Hey, maybe you should try and catch it. Heard those big ones can make for decent pets. Or just feed it to Zunden's cube." She shrugs.
"Anyway. All I'm saying is you shouldn't beat yourself up so much. You're probably one of the few good people in this bitch of a world. Live up to that. Lead by example, even if no one else will. …I'm sorry, I'm not good at motivational talk, am I."
I wander over to the brush where the spider ran and crouched down, looking around for it. I'd never actually thought about keeping anything but a mammal as a pet before, but something tells me I couldn't get a huge spider to listen as easily as rats.
>[1d10]Trying to find the spider to get a better look at it.
I sigh. "Well," I say. "I wouldn't really call myself good
. I've done bad things, just like the rest of us. But even if I'm not good, I still want to do
good, y'know?" I rub my neck. After everyone's encouraging words I thought I'd feel good as new. I do feel a little better, and definitely more motivated, but there's something gnawing at the back of my mind. An emptiness I can't really figure out. Something telling me I'm not good enough. Not strong enough. Telling me that I'm only trying to play pretend.
"No," I assure Violet. "You've helped me as much as anyone. It's nice being told that I'm not being completely stupid and naive, especially since I'm starting to question it myself."Roll #1 3 = 3
"It's not naive to want to do good," she answers. "The big guy is right. Nothing wrong with dreaming a little."
Aurora joins the conversation, taking a break from practicing her swordplay. "I think you should focus more on helping yourself, not others. This place will eat you alive. Sometimes literally."
I crouch down on my stomach and try to get a better look, trying for just a bit longer to search out the spider as I continue the conversation. [1d10]
"That's what everyone seems to think, but that really bothers me. People always looking out for number one seems to me like how you get people like those bandit cannibals. Hell, even they seem to be able to work together, even if it's for a depraved, disgusting purpose."
I sit up and look back at Aurora. "But I'll tell you something. The calmest, safest places I've seen so far? The monastery and that first settlement I keep forgetting the name of. They're both places people are working together to protect. Especially
the monastery. No matter what the motivation was, the way they took in travelers like that without even a second thought, sheltered us, and even fed us from their own stocks? That's the kind of place I want to help make this world, my own weak, sniveling well-being be damned."
I crouch back down in the brush. "It actually kind of bothers me a little that a former member of the monastery doesn't agree. Maybe I have them pegged wrong."Roll #1 10 = 10
You manage to catch the spider before it gets away, finding it futilely trying to hide under a rock. It flips over and curls up, clearly pretending to be dead. Violet cheers quietly.>>698962
"Their own kindness is killing them," she replies distantly. "Everyone goes there because they know they'll get free food and shelter. I've seen some people stay for weeks, even months at a time, leeching off of the monastery's resources, taking advantage of them, and there's nothing the monks can do about it because it goes against their code. I… I don't mean to sound ungrateful. They did so much for me when I needed help. It's a great service they're providing. But they're an outlier, and just about everyone takes advantage of them because of it. I don't know how much longer they can last before some bandit scum gang comes knocking on their door and demanding constant resources from them. That's no way to live. You give someone a hoof, they'll want the whole leg eventually."
I look over the spider, wracking my brain for any info I can glean from just looking at it. If it's the same spider I ran into before then I know it's some kind of orb weaver, but that gives me a huge variety of possibilities to work with.
I set my cage down and dig around in my bag for my quill. Carefully I lift one of its legs to try and get a better look at its pedipalps in hopes of at least getting an idea of its gender. My mouth lifts into a small smile as I try to coax it. The other arthropods I've seen so far have been at least semi-intelligent. Maybe this one is the same?
"Come on, buddy," I whisper. "You're not fooling anyone. It's okay. I don't want to hurt you."
My smile falls as I glance over my shoulder at Aurora. "So you're telling me out of all the people there, they couldn't defend themselves from bandits? Well, maybe say that is the case. That's where adventurers -where heroes
- come in. I've heard stories. It's what they're supposed to do. Still, even without them if enough people did work together to protect their own common interest what can a ragtag group of bandits do? People like that- Well, I have a feeling people like that will always exist. But I also believe with every fiber of my being that they aren't the majority. That, as selfish and greedy as everyone can be, they don't want
to do evil. That they don't want to pillage and murder. To constantly live in fear of being killed on a raid. I truly believe that if someone stoops to that level that they see it as the only option." I shrug. "So we show them there's another option. We make
another option. This place is a waking hell, but it can be better. I've seen it."
I blush and quickly glance back at the spider when I realize that I just dumped a monologue about something I barely even know about. "That's how it looks to me, anyway."
It remains tightly curled up; however, judging by the pedipalps, you can guess it's a male. You also get a much closer look at it; it is a large specimen, almost the size of your hand, with a deep purple coloration with red banded legs. It has a body more akin to that of a tarantula, sans the sensory hairs.
"I'm not talking about small bandit groups, although they could be a problem. It's the big gangs that worry me. Bloody Mummers. Tiger Clan. Even Two Heavens could get a chokehold on them. The monks are pushovers. They don't even carry weapons, apart from whatever guests bring with them. Any of them come knocking on their door, it's game over. I've tried getting them to have some sort of defence, but the High Priest won't allow it.
"But maybe you're right. Maybe someone would come to their defence if they get taken over. Unlikely as it is, it could be, I suppose. ….I guess I'd do my part if that happened. I owe them a lot. If it weren't for the monastery I'd probably rotting in a pauper's grave somewhere." She shrugs. "Part of me wants you to be right. But I don't think it'd happen."
"That's a pretty one," Violet comments as she sees the spider. "I think that's one of those fighting spiders. They raise them for sport over in Braildorn, I think. Completely docile, unless they see another of their species. Then they fight to the death. …I feel like that should be symbolic of something."
"Oh, man. That's actually pretty neat. I really need to pick up some kind of book about the known creatures of this world when we get to Braildorn. I have a lot of general information to work with, but I'm not used to not recognizing something like a spider at a glance." I crouch down and open the door to my cage. I feel like since it's about as big as some of my rats it probably won't be able to get out. "Feeding you could be a problem, but I think I might take you with me." I gently ease it into the cage and lightly run the back of my finger along the side of its abdomen. "You're a handsome boy, aren't you?" I shut the cage and stand back up.
"That's what I'm saying, Aurora. Do you really want to live in a world where you would have been left for dead? Where people are too selfish to care? This isn't Equestria. It doesn't have to take its worst parts, while forgetting about its best."
I sit down on the cage and lean back. "Still, I know I'm a hypocrite for saying so but the monks not wanting to defend themselves would obviously cause problems. There have obviously been a lot of folks sent here, and judging by the fact that places like the Monastery even exist tells me they can't all be bad. Folks like all of you." I sigh again and look up at the sky. "I don't know. Maybe I'm not right, and if I hadn't met the monks or you guys I'm not even sure I'd feel this way, but I did, and I do." I look back towards Aurora and Violet. "Anyway. Enough about that. Don't really think it's going anywhere from here."
I reach into my pack and dig around a bit before finding what I was looking for. A wide grin spreads across my face as I reveal the pack of cards Rosen and Glider tossed me what feels like a lifetime ago. "You guys wanna play some cards while we rest tonight?"
"I mean, we have that bestiary. I think Zunden's holding on to it. I've seen those before though, so I'm just telling you, you'll want to train it, because those things are worth a lot of money. They absolutely do not stop - ever - once they get a whiff of their opponent. They will chase each other for miles and miles. I don't know how they haven't gone extinct, really." She chuckles. "At least give him a name, why don't you." The spoder seems to tense up as you touch it, but as you close the cage you see it unfurl and start wandering around in confusion before poofing out of existence.
Aurora doesn't respond, pensively mulling over your words. You seem to have given her some food for thought. Violet perks up as you pull out the deck of cards. "Sure, I'll play. Got something in particular in mind?"
"Miles? That's actually a little bit unsettling. Was already planning on training him a bit, though. At least as much as I can manage. I don't really have any experience with spiders outside of, y'know. 'Getting rid' of them. As far as the bestiary, it only seems to update under certain conditions. It's useful in certain circumstances, but it doesn't really help me identify something as soon as I run into it."
I flick the top of the cards open and let the deck slide into my hand, removing the two jokers and slipping them back into the box. I flip through them really quick to make sure there aren't any too rough dings in any of the cards, do a quick one handed cut, and an in-hand bridge shuffle to get a feel for them.
I cock my eyebrow and give Violet a sly smirk. "I was thinking low stakes no-limit hold'em. 100 bit buy in with 1-2 bit blinds. After all we grabbed in the tombs I think that might be pocket change for all of us." I clear my throat. "Or, if you want a more casual, non-gambling game we could play some rummy something. It's whatever you guys are comfortable with."
"Maybe I'm exaggerating actually, but point is, they're angry little beasties. I don't think he'd need much training, just plenty of TLC. I mean, as far as you can pet a spider. …I don't know anything about spiders. Don't mind me."
The card deck seems to be in relatively good condition. A couple of them are a bit dogeared, but nothing too bad. It's a perfectly serviceable deck.
Violet thinks for a minute, then pulls out her now-heavy coinpurse. "Sounds good. I've got plenty to go around now, so why not." Aurora watches curiously as Violet flattens some of the tall grass to create a playing space before counting out a large pile of coins and putting it in the middle.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see how it goes." I give the deck another few shuffles before dealing the first hand of the game.
Roll #1 10 = 10
The game only lasts six hands, and after seeing the flop I fold the first couple, making it seem like Violet is winning. I keep a straight face through the next couple of hands, managing to win what I lost back and just a little bit more. On the fifth hand I manage to win off a pair of sixes and a pair of nines. The sixth and final hand is tense. I can sense how confident Violet is in her cards, but I realize how that'll be what does her in.
Ace and king of spades. She raises. I re-raise and she hesitates. She calls and we go to flop. Five of spades. King of hearts. Eight of spades. My heart skips, and I sit back a bit. "Bet," I say, pushing thirty bits into the pot. "Thirty." She called and I flipped the turn. King of diamonds. I look up at her, take the rest of my bits, and put them into the pot. "All in." She calls and I flip the river. Two of spades. I see her face change as she sees it. However subtle, the confidence is gone. I lay my cards down and so does she.
"Flush," I say. She only has three of a kind. Finally I let my face change and give her a huge, shit-eating grin. "Good game," I say, leaning over to slide the pot over to me. "Maybe play again some time. Could be fun to get everyone in on it, actually."
She sucks her teeth in frustration as you beat her fair and square. "Damn. You're good at this. Good game." In her confidence she'd put plenty in, leaving her coinpurse aching. "Hadn't played in forever, to be fair. I'm kind of rusty. But whatever. A loss is a loss." Aurora looks smug.>+200 bits
"I'd be down for that, actually. Not tonight though. I'm getting tired. Be interested to see if the others are as bad as me." She laughs dryly, although you can tell she's a bit sour over the loss.
"I'm not much for card games," Aurora comments, "but I guess I'd give it a go if everyone else will. Wouldn't want to be left out."
Zunden's eyebrow rises slightly as Violet mentions her eye again, turning to her.
"You know, I've been meaning to zay- I could help wizh ze, err… mizzing eye, you know."
Zunden says, holding one of her healing orbs in her claw,
"I wanted to azk zhough, I've met zhoze who refuzed my offer to heal mizzing hoovez and hornz. Eizher it'z got memoriez attached to zhem, or zhey juzt zhink it makez zhem look intimidating."
She sits down, crossing her legs,
"I've heard your ztory, zo I've hezitated azking. I ztill wanted to put ze offer out, zhough."
Man. Always forget how good a game like that feels, even with low stakes. I chuckle and shrug as I load my bits into my bag. "I have a lot of experience. Like a wise gambler once said. 'You gotta know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold'em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run."
I give her a quick wink and pick my pack up just high enough to drag it over beside me. Starting to think I really should make use of Zunden's bag. My pack is getting kind of heavy with all the money I've picked up. Not such a terrible drawback to have, honestly.
"Nah, I understand not tonight. Just some time." I cock an eyebrow and glance over at Aurora. "Well, if you want I can give you a few pointers some time. Not often I'm the one that's in a position to give advice."
After a meager dinner, Violet pulls out her journal and starts making a list. "So, sounds like we have our goals set out then. Get to Braildorn, sell off some of the stuff we got, talk to the wizard there about that sword of yours - what was his name again? - and see about getting to the Dreaming Spring as well. I'm not having any part of it though. In fact I'll probably lay low once we get there. Got some errands to run. We should also check up on Zunden's patient back that the monastery at some point, maybe.
"Did I miss anything? I find it helps to have a list of goals, so if there's anything else you'd like to do now's the time.">>698982
She takes a while to consider your offer, debating whether to accept or not. "…You really think you could pull it off? I get the feeling it wouldn't be an easy fix. ….I guess I trust you to try, at least. Never really crossed my mind to get someone to restore it, but you're welcome to give it a go." She tentatively removes her eyepatch and closes her eye. "Just be careful. If you mess up my other eye we're through.">>698983
"I'm sure you do. Never was any good at it to be honest." She shrugs. "Gotta be good at something I guess."
"Sure, I'd appreciate that," Aurora answers. "I've seen others play, so I know the gist of the game, but I don't think I've ever done it myself.">>698985
"That'd work. We might have to split the party if some of you are going to the Spring while others stay behind."
"Give me one moment to channel my energy, I do want to be az careful az pozzible."
Zunden says, channeling some sunlight energy.>Bask: Mend
"I'd be fine with that. We should be safer anyways, so no reason not to split up a little right?" >>698986https://pastebin.com/UWSrQmgK
"Hey, give Zunden some faith. She's good at what she does, yeah?"
"It iz her face, zhe haz every right to be concerned. My magic iz not ze type to injure when it goez awry, but I do not want to cauze any dizcomfort."
"Sounds good to me," Hermodur says as he finishes his dinner.
"So I guess that means it'd be me and Hermodur going to the spring.">>698987
"Were you going to go with them or come with us?"
"We might as well go with them into town first. We have to resupply anyway."
"Quite right, and given their
task we've been given the short straw, extensive research away from a pleasant hot springs trip." I reply, fanning my face with a wing in mock drama.
"I suppose sacrifices must be made as some
point, grave as they are! At the very least i'll be in good company, correct?"
"I meant after. Just kind of want to know what we're doing ahead of time."
"At the very least, you will. Truly, you are making an incredible sacrifice." he says, laying his hoof on her shoulder supportively.">>698989
"F-Fair enough. You just seem good at what you do."
You focus for a moment and channel the warmth from the healing orb.>>698988
"I'm not saying she isn't," she responds calmly. "She's kept everyone alive so far, hasn't she? I'm just saying it's just a delicate process that could go awry.">>698990>>698991>>698993>>698988
"Okay, so Hermodur and Norv would go north, while the rest stay in Braildorn. What about you, Aurora?"
She thinks. "I'm undecided," she answers. "I guess it depends on how many in each group."
Violet nods and looks back to Zunden. "What about you? Where will you go?"
"I am done with wizh zhoze two creaturez of zhadow. While ze zwamp zhing may not have alwayz been evil, zhey have zince been conzumed by darknezz. I'd razher let zhem bicker to eternity."
Zunden turns to Violet, sending out a soft light towards her.
"I would keep the eyepatch on, for ze time being. Ze new tizzue will be ezpecially zenzative to light for the next few dayz."
[1d10+3] Mend the EyeRoll #1 8 + 3 = 11
"I mean, you know what I want to do. I'm just glad I'm not doing it alone."
"Myself and Rabi will be heading into town to research the guard's sword; The mage Violet mentioned may have an idea as to how we can perform the ritual to reverse the banishment process."
"Meanwhile Norvey is off to the spring to gather the lilies he needs for freeing the spirit from the mire."
"My point being that that seems like a day's worth of research at best. Then, you can come with us."
"At least we can figure out more about it. Maybe, if we can, I can start working on it myself. I'm not much of a talented mage, but I've got some aptitude."
"Hmm.. that would depend on how quickly Norvey wanted to visit the springs. If everypony was willing to help then that would work out quite nicely."
"If he's in quite the hurry we could simply divide and conquer as the plan called for."
"I'm not really in that big of a hurry. Can't say I want to pass up the chance to relax a little in the city "most like home", and I didn't expect anyone to go along with me to begin with, so I can wait a bit."
"Understandable. I'm staying out of it as well. It's only going to lead to bad news."
She doesn't move a muscle as you begin to cast the mending spell, regenerating her eye slowly but surely, focusing entirely on the spell, shutting out any outside interference. When you are finished, you find that the spell did not quite work as intended; instead of her natural purple eye color, her new eye is a deep emerald hue. She flinches and blinks a few times, adjusting to her new eye, looking up at the night sky, lost for words. "…Wow. This is weird. I forgot what depth perception was like." She laughs and keeps looking around, then flinches as she looks into the fire, quickly covering her eye up with the patch again. "Thank you, Zunden. I'll never forget this.">>698998>>699000
"In that case, I'm going with them," says Aurora. "They might need someone that can patch them up.">>698997>>698998>>698999>>699000>>699002
"Then it's decided. After we get settled, Norv, Hermodur and Aurora can go on their excursion, while the rest of you see about dealing with that mage. Now let's get to bed. It's a few days march from here to Braildorn, so we'll want to get up early."
You wake the next morning and have a hearty breakfast before heading out towards Braildorn, aided by Silver's compass. It isn't long before you find a proper dirt and cobble road cutting through the wilderness.
The next day is rather uneventful. Walking, walking and more walking. You don't meet anyone out on the roads, apart from the occasional wandering creature. That night, you see Prowlers stalking about nearby, but they make no attempt to attack you.
The following day is much the same; however, you make note of your dwindling food supplies, having only just enough to reach Braildorn by tomorrow. Violet manages to scrounge some fruits and nuts, but it's not much.
At about lunchtime, you come across a river cutting across a woodland area, with a bridge allowing for safe passage. However, the path is blocked by a group of four mean-looking Diamond Dogs carrying weapons and wearing black tunics. One of them puts his hand out, blocking your path. "Can't cross here without paying the toll," he sneers.
Violet looks indignant. "What's this place coming. to. Says who?"
"Skylord Lysander. He owns these parts. He hired us to guard it from drifters like you lot. Now pay up. 50 bits a head."
"50 bits?! That's outrageous!" She looks to you indignantly. "You think we should find another way across or what?"
You find yourself in a grim, dimly lit room. The view from the nearby barred window shows you a starry night, with a cold and bitter wind blowing through. You seem to be in a castle, presumably claimed by Ailuros' continued conquest, although you do not know which or where.
Your attention is drawn to a roughly hewn stone table, with a map of the Dominion unfurled. It seems to be a strategic map, judging from the stone icons depicting different figures placed across it. Ailuros herself sits at the head of this table, looking elegant yet troubled. She is not alone; you see several figures sitting with her, most of which you recognize from your time spent with her:
At her left side is Sir Hanuman Mergen, a salty old knight of a donkey. A renowned war veteran in Equestria, you know him to have become increasingly disillusioned with the state of affairs in his homeland and thus has pledged himself to Ailuros, not out of faith in her divinity but faith that her rule will be the best thing for the kingdom. He is clad in red and black finery that indicates his new allegiances.
On her right is a rather unwelcome sight: a tall griffon with a face like a barn owl, proudly clutching a sleek black spear. Minerva, as you know her, was a constant annoyance to you, a loud-mouthed firebrand who often clashed with you in hopes to gain Ailuros' attention. In your absence, her position would suggest she has replaced you as Ailuros' right hand and personal bodyguard and enforcer.
Next to Minerva sits Lord Anansi Bluetongue, a saurian with a face not unlike that of a skink. Similar to Sir Hanuman, Lord Bluetongue was a well-connected noble who has, unknown to most of the Equestrian elite, pledged allegiance to Ailuros, believing her victory to be inevitable. As Ailuros' spymaster, his connections have led to him forming a network of spies, both willing and unknowing of his true nature, which has led to many calling him 'The Spider'. You have always found him to be a rather unsavory character, but he has proven himself useful thus far.
Finally, across from Lord Bluetongue sits the Fire Witch who you have seen already, although you do not know her name yet. She is dressed in a beautiful scarlet robe and is now wearing a mask of some sort made of interlinked pieces of wood. Her mane is bright red and flows freely down her back, while her eyes are a fiery orange.
The five of them seem to be discussing their next plan of action, although having joined their meeting midway some of the context is lost to you. Many of the names thrown around mean little to you.
"-and winter is almost upon us, Your Grace." Hanuman sounds a little older and more gruff since last you heard him. "Taking the Western March now would lead to disaster. We would get frozen in place and starve."
"Then what would you have me do, general? Sit here and wait?" She sounds impatient. "We've been holed up here for far too long as it is. We need to move or we'll freeze no matter what. …What about Harridan Hill? Could we take that?"
He shakes his head firmly. "Too heavily guarded. You would survive, sure, but the garrison there would crush what's left of us."
"If I may, Your Grace." Anansi speaks up, looking up from rifling through a series of parchments. "My little birds tell me Harridan Hill is not completely unimpregnable. There may be an architectural flaw, you see, oft overlooked. If what I am reading is true, it could allow you discreet access to the fort. If it pleases you, I could try and glean more information on it…?"
"You don't have to ask me for that, spider," she snaps. "Do your job. Investigate. If there is a weakness, I need to know more about it. Where it is, when it's available, how many know about it, everything." She turns back to Hanuman as Anansi nods sagely and starts penning a letter. "What do you know about Harridan Hill, general? Work with me here."
"…Well, it's fiercely protected. Owned by the Barrows… no, wait, the Sable family." Anansi nods in confirmation without looking up. "And the Sables are deep in agriculture and military investment," he continues, "so it might not be easy fighting them over their resources. They have the numerical advantage over us, for one. Maybe we could negotiate with them?"
"A trade, or a surrender? Both are doubtful if what you say is true. They will be hard to crack."
"Send me!" Minerva butts in. "I will form a team and infiltrate the castle for you, my lady. Their numbers will mean nothing if we take them by surprise!"
Ailuros mulls this over. "That could work. I'll keep that in mind. …Now, what are our other options?"
Hanuman hesitates before pointing out an island in the middle of a lake. "Sun's Eye. It's uninhabited, so it could make for a good base of operations for the time being-"
"General!" she barks. "I need progress. We've been stagnating long enough as it is. If we camp at every sightseeing opportunity, we'll all be dead come winter. We need to move south. Fast. If the Western March is out of the question, then the only option I see is dealing with the garrison at Harridan Hill."
"Might I suggest an infiltration mission, Your Grace, rather than overt bloodshed?" Anansi finishes his letter and clasps his clawed hands diplomatically. "If one, maybe more, of our agents could sneak in unawares, they could sabotage Harridan Hill from the inside."
Ailuros thinks, then nods slightly. "There's an idea. I'll need a bit of time to think about our next course of action. Dismissed."
Almost robotically, her inner circle start filing out one by one, bidding Ailuros farewell - all except the Fire Witch, who stays behind. Ailuros gives her a quizzical look. "Something on your mind, Kamui?"
"Yes, Your Grace." She has a deep, smooth voice. "It is about the other adherents of my old faith. I have been speaking with them of late, and they say the flames have… have told of disaster in your future. Disaster that can be averted."
Ailuros looks worried. "And what have the flames told you?"
"I see nothing but snow in them, Your Grace."
There is an uncomfortable silence, then Kamui speaks again. "They also believe that the only way to avert certain disaster is to… to have another sacrifice.It is an ancient ritual to set alight one of powerful blood as an offering, but this wouldn't be one to the goddesses, but to you, the one true goddess."
Ailuros looks outraged, bristling with indignance at the suggestion. "No! Absolutely not! How dare you suggest such a thing. That is heresy."
"Your Grace, I-"
"ENOUGH." Ailuros' body courses with magical energy as she rears herself up to her full height, towering over the Fire Witch. "That is digusting. I will have no burnings. Tell your sisters to pray harder."
"…Yes, Your Grace."
Another pregnant pause.
"Do you have something else to say, Kamui?"
"…There is someone here. I can feel them. Someone is spying…"
Confused, Ailuros follows Kamui's gaze as the two of them stare right through you to the wall behind.
All of a sudden, you jolt awake, finding yourself back on your uncomfortable bedroll. The moon hangs over you portentously. it is some time before you can go back to sleep, your mind racing with all the information you just received.
Rabi goes to speak up, but thinks better of it- he looks to Silver to see if she's got a better way with words.
They could sense him! It's all Hermodur can think about, both in his sleep and in his wakeful hours in the night. They could sense him. If he could find a way to communicate with them, then he might be able to help them. Or they might be able to help him. Or both.
Any sort of communication with his beloved goddess would make him ecstatic.>>699005
Hermodur simply crosses his arms and frowns at the highwaymen. He has other things on his mind.
"Now Violet, lets not be too quick to give up." i chastise the newly-bi-ocular mare, moving around her to approach the four dogs.
"Let me see what i can do."
Making my way over to the guards, i clear my throat to get their attention.
"'Drifters'? Why, you haven't received the news?" I ask, covering my muzzle with a wing in feigned surprise.
"Doubtless it was your distance from the messengers, out here on this remote bridge!"
"We were sent ahead as Envoys for Ironwood; There was talk of expanding Lysander's territory to the village, and we were tasked with making the trek to a meeting in Braildorn."
"It's of the upmost importance we reach the city as soon as possible, to move forward with the deal, and i'm sure The Skylord would hate to be delayed due to his own guards, correct?" I ask, raising an eyebrow.
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 7 + 2 = 9
Zunden again raises an eyebrow at the different colored eye, but sighs in relief that it went okay.
"I'm glad I could help, Violet, I conzider it my plaze in ze world to help ozherz. Keep in mind zhat iz not ze zame eye zhat waz lozt earlier, I couldn't reztore zomething that wazn't zhere."
Zunden says, offering a silver piece of jewelry to use as a mirror.>>699005
Zuden lets Violet work her charm, but whispers to Violet in the meantime,
"It iz not like we are hurting on ze gold at ze moment."
I back up a little, standing behind everyone else in case things start to go south. Probably better to let the others do the talking.
She examines her new eye in the makeshift mirror. "Huh. Green. Wonder if I can get a wizard to change that back…" >>699012
"Well yeah," she whispers back, "but I don't want to give any to these goons. Never even heard of this Lysander guy.">>699011
"Ironbrook? That's quite a while away. Near the coast, isn't it?" The group exchange a look and huddle together and discuss something in hushed tones before turning back to you.>>699009>>699010>>699011>>699012>>699013
"Our mistake," the lead Dog says with a sheepish grin. "Must've missed the memo. Sorry about the holdup. Go on through."
"I can't believe that worked," Aurora remarks as soon as you're out of earshot. "Those guys must've really been dense. Good work, Silver." Violet stays silent, contemplating the encounter.
You continue along the road, passing through the woodlands and continuing on your way. The rest of the day passes with no further incident. In the late afternoon, you arrive at what seems to be a lake at first glance, but on closer inspection turns out to be a truly enormous river, spanning as far as the eye can see, splitting the land in two. Built on the river's shore is what must be the beating heart of the Echoes, the sprawling town of Braildorn.
Most of it is built of wood, with the exception of thick stone walls that run across its perimeter. What immediately strikes you is the unique design of the place; while a portion of it reaches out to land, the majority of Braildorn is built on the lake itself, propped up by sturdy wooden structures. Many of the buildings have distinctive red conical roofs, and at several intervals, spiraling towers can be seen jutting out amidst the skyline. One detail that catches your attention is what looks like a floating house tethered to one such spire, suspended by a huge hot air balloon. The smell of fresh fish can be felt on the wind even from afar.
"Well, there it is. Braildorn. Haven't seen it in a while. Wonder what's changed," Violet remarks. She stops for a minute to admire the view before continuing on, reaching one of the main gates. As you go down, you notice a few farmsteads in the distance, as well as guard outposts at several intervals. The guards around here seem to wear a more alborate variant the same black uniforms as the Dogs you encountered, with the addition of some armor.
You are greeted at the gates by one such guard, a beige earth pony with a droopy eyelid. He looks up from reading a book and surveys the lot of you. "Gudday, drifters. What brings you to Braildorn? First time visit?"
"Not my first time. I know the drill." Violet steps up. "Violet Moon. Here to trade some wares. And run some errands." The guard nods and jots it down in a nearby ledger. "And what about the rest of you? Name and business, please."
"Zunden. Here also to trade zome itemz and have ozherz appraized."
Zunden says to the bookkeeper
"Norvegicus Black. Wanted to trade some stuff and buy some stuff."
"Hermodur," is all he says with his arms crossed. His size, weapon, and stance should tell the story.
Thanking the guards as we pass, i continue down the path with a spring in my step, stifling a laugh once out of earshot.
"Ohoho, you're too kind, Aurora. Even out here a mare of refinement can charm her way anywhere." i reply, chest puffed up with confidence.
Approaching this new guard, i bow with a flourish of a wing.
"Good day sir guard. I am Silver Song, here to see the local wizard. I've a few questions i was meaning to ask, hopeful he may have some answers."
Rabi offers a thankful headbob, and follows along with the others.>>699018
"Well, that was some fancy wordplay, Silver. Good job!" he says, grinning a little
"Rabi. Here to see the wizard, as well. Nothing too serious."
"Oh it was nothing, really, but thank you." i reply, blushing lightly.
"To be honest, i wasn't quite sure it would work, but i'm glad we made it all the same."
He frowns. "Huh. Wouldn't 'ave pinged you for the merchant type." He jots you down anyway.>>699017
"Hermodur what?" He just stares at you cluelessly for a moment before shrugging and writing you down as 'sightseer'. He doesn't seem to care much.>>699018>>699020
"Hm? Oh, you mean Fumblemore. I wouldn't go there if I was you. He's been more… explosive than usual lately. Gods know what he does up there." He writes you both down in the book.>>699015>>699016>>699017>>699018>>699019
"And what about you then ma'am?" He turns to Aurora.
"Aurora. Just Aurora. Here on personal business." The guard nods and puts her name down as 'Aurora Justaurora.'
"Alright then. Lemme just get the gate open…" He vanishes through a door behind him, and you hear him fumbling with several locks and bars before the large wooden gate swings open. "Alright, in you go. Don't go causing trouble, y'hear?" With that, he closes the gates behind you, leaving you to explore Braildorn.
You can see that the city is thriving with activity, feeling more like a city back home than anything else you've encountered so far. Citizens of various shapes and sizes bustle through the narrow wooden streets, while further in from where you are you can see a thriving marketplace. The smell of fish is strong in Braildorn; it seems to be a prime export given the location of the town. Violet informs you you are currently in Braildorn's market district, one of the more affluent parts of town. You can see that without proper guidance, it will be easy to get lost in Braildorn. "Perhaps we could find some sort of map somwhere around here," Aurora suggests, taking in the sight of the thriving town.
"Well, first things first, we should sort out accommodation," says Violet, "unless you fancy squatting in the Downs with the other bums. I'm not too familiar with this part of town, so we might have to look for an inn or anything really that can get us directions. See if we can rent some rooms, and all that. Also, figure out how to get to your wizard. Unless you want to try and unload all these goods first? Up to you."
"Hmm.. Finding a place to stay would be a good start, if only to base our trips around."
"Though where to begin? should we ask around, or trot along for a time?"
"Wow, nice place," Hermodur comments as he looks around. His tone is a combination of impressed and surprised.
"Oh, I see," he says as things click. "Security is so tight because we're in a literal jail. And this place is nice. Right," he says almost forlornly.>>699018
"Well, I believe I will accompany you to this wizard to have my scroll appraised."
"Finding a place to stay, and maybe a good map or set of directions would be my suggestions."
"As you'd like, Hermodur, though given the guard's statement i'm concerned he may be less helpful than we thought.."
"..Do you think Rabi would be able to read it? As i understand He has some knowledge in the arcane, perhaps that may be enough to discern the contents."
"I think I want to get someone to appraise some of this stuff. Also want to find someone who might be able to get me a new poison sprayer. There have been a couple situations where I wish I still had my old one." I glance over at Violet. "Know where I might find something like that? Or where I could find someone to maybe make one?"
"'Explosive' sounds perfectly acceptable for a wizard to me.">>699026
"Well, are you able to make anything of this scroll?" Hermodur asks as he pulls the scroll out of a pocket and hands it to Rabi.
"Many yearz of my life I offered homez to thievez and bumz, I am not above zhem if zhat'z an izzue."
Zunden says, shrugging,
"Knowing my patronz, I might even meet zomeone I houzed back in Equeztria."
"Yeah, I can make an attempt." he says, looking the scroll over.>Inspect: [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"I don't think it'd take everyone to find a place to stay, so it couldn't hurt to split up now, right?">>699030
"I think it was supposed to be a joke, but yeah. I know what it's like too." I knit my brow and stare at the ground, lost in thought for a moment. "Actually, I think I might want to stop by there before we leave."
[1d10] what are the oddsRoll #1 2 = 2
"Correct, though i'd much rather have my belongings secured before
wandering the streets than risking the potential pickpocket."
"If You're not as concerned then feel free to explore; If we get lost we could always check back here." i finish, gesturing to the market around us with a hoof."
"Actually, I guess that makes sense. We probably should find a place to begin with, then."
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Doing my best to remember which way is back to the markets, i set off in search for an Inn.
"Do remember to meet back here if you find something, everypony!"
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 6 = 6
What Silver said. That, and we'll all pick the same place regardless of where we go."
"Can't hurt to look around, I guess," she shrugs. She begins to do just that, examining the many buildings but never straying far from the party. Aurora follows suit, trailing idly behind her.>>699025
"…Right. That's exactly why," the guard says before hobbling off, giving you a funny look.>>699028
"Hmm… I think there's a craftsman somewhere in this district. Or maybe it was the Grey Gardens district." She touches her chin trying to think. "I can't remember, sorry. You'd have to ask one of the locals.">>699030>>699033
"Yeah, maybe," Violet shrugs. "I just hope you don't meet them in the Downs, else they wouldn't even be able to catch a break here of all places.">>699031
You examine the magical scroll, the runes on it glowing in response to your innate magical attunement. After some probing, you manage to discern that this is in fact a scroll that allows for a one-time use of the Haste spell.>Haste: recharge 4 after effect ends, spell; For the next two turns, you and all allies can use a second normal action, excluding Haste.>>699035>>699036
You split off from the party and go further into Braildorn, towards the market district. It is jam-packed with the town's denizens at this hour, moving from tent to colorful tent looking to buy, sell and trade all manner of goods, ranging from food to magical curios to arms and armor, and even live animals, most of which look alien to you. You think you spot Rosen and Gilder among the crowd, but they move too quickly to be sure.
Eventually, you push past the market square and move more towards the properly established shops, where more specialized goods are sold. Among these, you spot three options for accommodation:
The first is a rickety old flophouse built rather like a castle watchtower, only out of wood. They don't seem to serve food, but offer cheap, and probably uncomfortable, boarding.
The second is a humble little inn offering food and drink, as well as boarding. While a step up in quality from the flophouse, it seems to you that you would only be able to stay for a limited time.
The third is a more lavish boarding house, offering food and drink along with accommodation, promising what amount to apartments for sale. However, this seems more designed for long term or even permanent residence, and would dig deep into your pockets.
The flophouse you come across goes by the name of Crippled Hubert's, while the inn has an elaborate sign naming it the Old Familiar, with a black cat carved above its doorway. The boarding house boasts no name.
>>699038>Bask: Healing Bonds
Zunden bites a lip, thinking about what Violet says,
"Zhat iz… very true. I don't want to zettle down like I did when I came to Equeztria. I can do more zhan help ze zame people day after day."
She scratches her cheek with one of her claws,
"Perhapz I'll find zhat mage inztead."
"Oh, good," Hermodur says as he takes the scroll back from Rabi. "Now, I don't have to get a wizard to look at it."
"So, I suppose I'll go take a look at this inn," he says as he wanders toward it.
"Looks like it's a Scroll of Haste. It does exactly what you think it'd do. Like any scroll, it's one-time only, so use it carefully. Anywho, time to make for an inn, yeah?"
"Hmm.. Given we won't be here for long and we've money to spare i say we should check with this 'Old Familiar', Right?"
I rub the back of my neck as I consider my options. "Well, I think the boarding house is our of the question. I'd like to actually be comfortable now that we're not camping out, too, so yeah. I'd say that's our best choice."
"Sounds like a good idea, yeah."
"Sounds like a plan," says Violet. "Think I've been to this one before. Decent place." Aurora just shrugs and follows along.
As you make your way towards the inn, you hear what sounds like a distant explosion coming from the floating house you saw before. The ground rumbles for a moment, but it passes as quickly as it came. No one seems perturbed by this sudden event, Violet included.
You approach the Old Familiar. It is a large, respectable-looking inn, two stories high and made primarily of hardwood, with a chimney and a red tiled roof. You can hear lively music and the idle chatter and laughter of patrons from inside. "Oh, by the way," Violet says before entering. "It should go without saying, but these places can get a little rough. So try not to draw attention, hide your moneybags and don't cause a ruckus. Oh, and don't stare."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnCSjTPcWn0
The interior is bustling with activity, even this early in the evening. It is large and spacious, decorated with tasteful still life paintings and suits of armor. A merry blaze crackles in a nearby fireplace, with a fat black cat curled up fast asleep nearby despite the noise. You can see several groups of patrons drinking and merrymaking all around, with attendants flitting back and forth like bees. One corner is set up for a live band, piano and all; a fancy-looking Diamond Dog is playing acoustic guitar to an audience currently. A set of rickety stairs leads to the rooms above, as well as a balcony area where a few barflies are watching the performance from. Overall, the difference between the Old Familiar and the glum, nameless inn you stayed at in Ironbrook is night and day.
As you enter, one of the staff almost bumps into you, a harrowed-looking mare with her hair in a bun carrying a huge platter of seafood. "Oh! Sorry! I'll be with you in a minute!" You watch as she delivers the platter to an eager table of griffons and bustles back over to you, wiping her hooves absent-mindedly on her apron, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry about that. What can I get for you?"
meant to quote >>699040
as well in that reply>>699040
"Well, if everyone's going then I might as well go say hi," Violet shrugs. "Haven't seen him in a while."
Zunden stuffs the bag of holding into the front of her robe, heeding Violet's advice.
"I have zeen plenty
of roughhouzing, it won't be anyzhing new to me."
"Quite alright, not to worry." i reply, waving off her concern.
"I am Silver Song, pleasure to meet you. My companions and I were hoping to book a room or two for our stay, no more than a few days at most." i finish, gesturing with a wing to the assembled group.
Hermodur simply nods as he is gestured to, then surveys the room to see if there's anyone who might be more of a threat than the others.
[1d10] for perceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
"How many rooms do you have to spare? We could probably bunch up in a couple, if you can't spare more rooms."
I step back as the mare almost bumps me, trying to steer clear of everyone by staying behind the party. I swallow and look around the inn. I did want to ask about where a couple of things were, but she looks busy so maybe I'll hold off.
You take a look around at the clientele. They are an eclectic group, most of them looking surprisingly savory for convicts. There are a group of Breezies in an alcove all clustering around one glass of red wine, while in another a bat pony, a minotaur and a Diamond Dog are arguing over a poker game. Near the fireplace, a pony couple, clearly drunk, have started dancing clumsily to the music, much to the cat's chagrin. On the top balcony, a trio of snootish-looking unicorns are discussing something over champagne flutes, and at the far end of the bar is a lone elderly saurian smoking a pipe and reading a book. Overall, it doesn't seem like anyone's looking for trouble.>>699048>>699049>>699050>>699051>>699052
"Rooms? Certainly. Just a moment." She sees another staff member going past, an adolescent hippogriff, and she gets his attention and says something to him indistinctly. The hippogriff nods and seems to take over her duties tending the tables. The barmaid leads you over to the bar, and starts going through a notebook. "Hm… Yes, we have a double room available for you all. Number 9, upstairs. For all of you, it'd be… Hm… 105 bits a night. Will that work?"
You agree to the price.
"Excellent!" She collects your payment and takes down your names one by one, then leads you upstairs to Room 9, unlocking it with a skeleton key.
The room is quite large, clearly meant for adventuring groups such as yourselves. It has 3 beds, large enough to fit two of you, as well as a couch that can expand to form a makeshift bed. It is decorated with blue and white china on the dressers, as well as a painting depicting a severe-looking Felid noblewoman. At the foot of each bed is a large trunk to store your belongings.
Once she's finished showing you around, the barmaid, whose name is Chardonnay, hands you a small brass key to the room. "Now then, is there anything else I can do for you? Food, drink?"
I speak up. "I was going to go out for a bit. I was wondering, do you know if there's a craftsman somewhere around here?"
"Who is that?" Hermodur asks the barmaid, pointing to the portrait of the Felid.
on thing, if you wouldn't mind."
"You see, I've plans to meet with Fumblemore, the wizard presumably causing the explosions from earlier, and i'd love some directions to reach his tower. Having Arrived recently I'm afraid i'd be woefully lost past the Inn's door here."
"Yez, I zhink I'd like to offload zome itemz found on our travelz zo zhat I can get zome more bitz to zpend here."
Zunden says, pulling down her bandana and speaking in a low tone, not wishing to announce any sort of wealth to the tavern,
"Iz zhere a jeweler or pawn zhat you'd recommend to get ze mozt bitz for my treazurez? Ze more I can make, ze more I can zpend here of courze."
Zunden winks, offering a sly grin.
"Oh, yeah, I guess that'd be something I'd need, too."
"Yeah, we wanted to do a bit of research. Is he nearby? Does he take visitors?"
"Craftsmen?" She furrows her brow and thinks. "Well, there's Hadrian here in Grey Gardens. Probably the best smith in Braildorn, but he's practically retired now. Doesn't really take many customers. You can try to talk to him though. He's not hard to find. Exit here, then go two blocks down to the right. You should see his forge. There's also blacksmith Lewin over in the Farthing District, I guess. He does weapons and armor, I think. Were you after that, or were you thinking more tools, or…?">>699056
"Hm? Oh. You must not be from around here. That's a painting of Lady Amelie Grosvenor. She used to be in charge of this city. Her daughter Cécile's taken over since she passed. She owns the manor on Mercy Isle.">>699057>>699060
Chardonnay looks concerned. "Fumblemore? Well, it's your bisness I suppose. I haven't seen him much, but he seems like a good sort, if rather clumsy. He does take visitors. If you want to reach him you'll have to fly up to his house. I'm sure you've seen it floating up there. The easiest way though is to touch one of those great big spires he's left around. Horrible things, really. Ruin the skyline. There's five of them total: one in the Bazaar District where you must've passed through, one over at the Whiteharbor Docks, one at the Grosvenor Manor on Mercy Isle, one in the Brax District up north, and one on Twilight Square near the center of town.">>699058>>699059
She thinks, then nods. "There is a pawn shop in the Bazaar District. Gotthard's, I think it's called. Think the owner's part of the Swain family, but that's not my business. If you're looking to sell things, you should go to him. I'm not sure exactly where it is though. Sorry. I don't visit that area too often."
"I was thinking kind of a custom tool." I nod. "Thank you, you've been very helpful." I look around at everyone. "Well, I guess I'll catch up with you guys tonight? I want to do a couple things." I wave and leave, heading two blocks down.
"Ah, Excellent, so it seems he's easier to find than expected."
"My thanks, you've been quite the help." i nod to Chardonnay, moving over to a trunk to store my belongings save for the Shivs, which i keep to the sheaths just in case.
"Right then, Rabi, If we've any chance to make it back before sundown we'll have to leave soon. Ready?"
"Zhank you, I'll be back with bitz ready to be zpent on alcohol."
Zunden says in the same low tone, chuckling.>>699062
"Do you want me to zell anyzhing at ze pawn zhop for you, Norvegicuz? I'll be heading zhere anywayz."
"Hmm," Hermodur contemplates as he looks at the portrait. A Felid doing well for herself is an odd sight to him.
"Are people allowed to visit her manor?"
"Uh, yeah. There's a cup thing in my bag upstairs. Could you get that checked out for me?"
"Would you prefer to fetch it now, or can I go to take it? I do not know if you have any izzuez with privacy of pozzezzionz."
I shrug. "I don't really have anything in my bag I have to worry about you stealing, unless you wanted to flip through my journal or take some of my animal treats. That's up to you, but I'll warn you ahead of time that it's pretty boring stuff."
"Uhm… hmm. Well, I can't fly. I don't know if you can carry me, either. Can you?"
Zunden chuckles, smiling at the diamond dog,
"Was juzt azking zo I didn't cauze you to feel uncomfortable. Do not worry, zhere iz plenty enough food at zhiz inn, i will not be eating any of your rat'z treatz.">>699061
Zunden heads up to take Norvegicus's goblet from his bag and adds it into the bag of holding, then seeks out the pawn shop.
mention the tower had an access pillar in the Bazaar, in theory we could teleport to his house using that, not to worry."
"R-Right, haha. Sorry."
"You're welcome," she answers with a warm smile.
You exit the Old Familiar and follow Chardonnay's directions, taking a leisurely stroll down one of Braildorn's many narrow streets. You find yourself in a small, quiet little plaza with several small houses surrounding it. There's not many people around, the only sign of activity being a sleeping urchin in an alleyway and a stray dog scrounging for rubbish, giving you a wide berth. You can hear a faint banging of steel on steel as you look around, coming from a small house with a plain blacksmith's forge forge built adjacent to it.
As you approach, you see something quite bizarre. Standing behind an anvil, hammering the blade of a sword into shape, is a bipedal creature resembling a giant mushroom, complete with a bright red cap. It is wearing a plain leather apron and is clearly hard at work crafting a sword. It stops to stare at you. "Yes?" it asks, despite its clear lack of a mouth, nose or indeed a face at all, except for a pair of beady yellow eyes.>>699063>>699070>>699072
You take the goblet, leave the inn and head back the way you came, staying away from the main marketplace and looking at the different shops. Eventually, you start heading out of the more vibrant parts of the district and to a more shabby, run-down part of town further east towards the river half of Braildorn. Here, on the same street as what looks like a brothel, you spot a small shop simply labeled Gotthard's Pawn Shop. Entering, you find it rather messy and dimly lit, cluttered with various artifacts behind glass cases. At the counter is a bland-looking griffon wearing a brown vests. "Hey there. What can I do for you?">>699065
She shakes her head. "Lady Cecile is fairly reclusive. The bridge to the manor is guarded. Unless you have business or an invitation, I don't think you can get in.">>699063>>699069
You leave and start heading towards the closest of the spires you saw while approaching Braildorn. They are much taller than most of the other buildings, so it is easy to navigate your way towards the nearest one, just past the now-thinning market.
Up close, the spire is clearly magical in nature. Its surface is white and reflective like glass, with streaks of rainbow energy coursing through it. It occasionally emits a low humming sound, reminding you uncomfortably of the Shifting Sands, although this is almost certainly a coincidence. The spire seems to have just appeared out of thin air one day, standing out like a sore thumb against the quaint little buildings all around. Bypassers give it a wide berth.
Hesitantly, you touch the magical object, and instantly find yourself in another place entirely. Your body feels strange, like you have pins and needles all over. Looking around, you see that you are now on the front porch of the floating house, which apart from being a floating house looks completely ordinary. You go to knock, but before you can do so the door opens, revealing an odd little earth pony standing inside. He is balding, sporting curly black hair on the sides of his head, along with a neat little goatee. He has beige fur, and wears spectacles and a long green coat, with a bowler hat of the same hue. "Hello!" he says cheerily. "Can I help you?"
Having been warped without warning, i shake myself clear of the feeling before approaching the door.
Seeing the balding, noticeably non-unicorn wizard preemptively open the door, i clear my throat, offering a slight bow in greeting.
"Good day, Wizard. I am Silver Song, pleased to meet you. I had hoped to ask a few questions about the nature of a magic item we found, if you had the time."
"Ideally, I'd like to partake in bozh buying and zelling of warez here, but for now I'd like to ztart wiz appraizing what I have here, zo zhat I could get an underztanding of what I could purchaze from you."
She says, first pulling out the pieces of jewerly from her bag of holding two by two, until she's set the various jewelry in a line on the countertop,
"Ze famouz cat zhat went by ze name of The Dragon hoarded a great number of treazurez. Zheze are from hiz tomb."
*Ze Dragon, not to be confused with a Zea Dragon
Rabi shakes himself out from the weird sensation of teleportation and takes a couple of seconds to pat himself down, before smiling and offering a hoof to shake. "Rabi! Good to meet you. We wanted to learn more about a particular artifact we came across."
Hermodur decides to take this moment to stay in the room and reflect and pray.
He thinks back to his dream. They could sense his presence. There is at least some small connection. In the past when they occupied the same universe, he could communicate with her through his prayer. It was as easy as using a phone. But, it hasn't worked here yet. He assumed that it was because he simply couldn't contact her. That didn't seem to be the case however.
So, he tried again. He sat down on ground with Mjolnir in front of him. He rested his forehead on the head of the hammer. He focused as much as he could. He emptied his mind and thought only of Ailuros and his devotion to her.
[1d10] for some sort of connectionRoll #1 9 = 9
"I can build anything," he answers plainly. He has a low, husky, echoing voice. He lumbers over to you and takes the paper sheet. He looks at it for a moment, then brings it closer, squinting in confusion. "These meant to be blueprints?" he asks, handing it back to you. "Just… Just tell me what you want from me." He looks a little flabbergasted.>>699077
"Hmm?" He pulls out a pocket watch. "About 6 o' clock, madam." He smiles at you obliviously.>>699078
The griffon, presumably the eponymous Gotthard, looks dubious as you unload the assorted jewelry. "Are they now. Well that would be worth a lot of money, you know. But I can't just trust the word of a stranger." He takes a sapphire necklace and starts examining it. "I mean, they're certainly old. Probably could buy a house up on the surface with all this. But down here…" He lets that thought linger for a while as he continues his work, examining each and every piece in minute detail with a peculiar piece of eyewear with multiple interchangeable lenses like a microscope. When he's finished, he pulls this off and stares at you for a while, mouthing something and counting on his fingers. "…Best I can do for all this is about 800.">>699080
"Fumblemore, at your service!" He shakes your hoof vigorously.
"Eh? An albatross? I wouldn't harm it if I were you. It's bad luck. Or so they say.">>699081
You think of her and pray harder than you've ever prayed before, hoping against hope for some sort of connection. Alas, nothing happens. Not even so much a whisper reaches you. When you open your eyes, you find you are alone in the room. There is a note from Violet on a dresser saying she's gone to the markets, while Aurora is nowhere to be found.
Giving the pony a confused look, i shake my head.
"No no, not the time, we're here for an Artifact! We hoped you could take a look?"
My ears fold back as I take it and gingerly fold it back up. "Yeah. They were. It's supposed to be a poison sprayer. Like, for pest control."
"I'd be more worried if you truzted me outright, your wordz zhow experienze."
Zunden says, nodding along,
"But I'd ztill like a bit more… Az I zaid, I'd be partial to purchaze zome of ze warez zhat might be collecting duzt around here. Perhapz you could add in a bit more, not az more bitz, but az credit towardz buying zomezhing here?"
[1d10] barterRoll #1 9 = 9
Artifact, not Albatross."
Hermodur curses his own weakness. He hits his head against Mjolnir harder than he ought to have. It makes him dizzy for a moment. As he rubs his head, he tears up a bit.
He doesn't want to use the spring water. He'll run out too quickly. And, it is such torture to come so close to his beloved, but fail to make contact.
In frustration, he storms out of the room and heads downstairs to get a drink.
As you raise your voice slightly, his eyes widen. "Oh, urgent, is it? Well you'd better come in then. Let's make this quick. I can take a look at what you have.">>699086
"Huh? You'll have to speak up, sorry. I'm a little hard of hearing in one ear.">>699083>>699086
Fumblemore stands by to let you in. The interior is quite homely, with many neat little bookshelves and alchemical apparati bubbling away. The interior is quite well organized, contrary to what you'd expect from a wizard like him. However, much of this is marred by scorch marks and the acrid stench of smoke and sulfur lingering in the air. "Please excuse the mess. I haven't had much of a chance to clean up. Too busy working, don't you know."
He leads you into what looks like his study, a circular room with several shelves containing a variety of magical items, including a rather sinister jar of eyeballs. He clears out some stray books on the central desk. "So. What have you brought me? Oh, and can I get you anything? Food, drinks?">>699084
"Uh-huh." He thinks for a while. "…I can work with that. Just leave that sheet of paper here. I might need it. Maybe." Before you can react, he pulls out a ruler and starts taking some measurements on you. "You an exterminator then? What are you planning to spray with this thing?">>699085
He thinks for a good long while, trying to decide whether to do so or not. It seems to be a heavy choice for him to make. "…..Fine. 800 bits, plus 100 worth of credit. Final offer.">>699087
You march downstairs, almost crashing into one of the snooty-looking unicorns from before. You see Aurora sitting at the bar with a mug of ale. She doesn't seem to have noticed you yet. The bartender is a stocky pegasus with a big walrus mustache. "Need a drink, stranger?"
"I do, indeed, Barkeep," Hermodur says dramatically with a long, equally dramatic sigh. He sits down next to Aurora.
"Iz fair, I am not one to puzh buttonz. Anywayz, I have one additional object of value, zhough I bring it here for a friend. I will keep zhiz tranzaction zeperate az all ze bitz for zhiz one are hiz to zpend."
Zunden says, putting the goblet on the counter,
"From ze zame location az ze jewelry came from. We raided zhat tomb till a bugztorm forzed uz out."
stepping through the doorway, i cough lightly into a wing as i make my way to the study.
"It's quite alright, not to worry. After the journey to get here some clutter is least of our concerns."
"As for what we have, well.."
Pulling the Sword from my vest, i set the blade onto the Desk.
"My companion Rabi and I had managed to find this from some bandits near Ironbrook, one of the swords used in the banishment Rituals. I'm hopeful that given the right material we may be able to replicate the effect here and reverse the direction out to the Dominion."
"It's certainly a stretch, but would you know of the ritual, or somepony who does?"
I clear my throat, awkwardly moving around to make it easier for him to measure me. "Well," I say. "Bugs. Really, really big bugs. And yeah. I've been doing it for maybe four or five years now? It's gotten a little more interesting recently, and I don't have my old sprayer anymore." When he's done measuring me I pull the piece of paper back out, trying to conceal that I'm more than a little happy he wanted it back.
Rabi blinks a couple of times. He's not used to someone this hard of hearing.>>699091
"Anything you know about it, or any books you have that might? Even just somewhere to start looking first."
There is an awkward moment as the bartender waits for you to order something, then he just shrugs and pours you a glass of ale. "Here. Queen Bee Ale. First one's on the house. You look like you need it."
Aurora looks over to you with a grimace. "We're supposed to like this sort of thing, right? Tastes awful to me. I think people just pretend to like it because everyone else does." She shrugs.
"So, what's on your mind?">>699090
"Hoy there. That's a good find." He taps his claw on it. "Pure gold. Don't get many like these coming through." He bites his lip and thinks. "Give you 100 for it.">>699091>>699093
"Let me see. Hmmmm…" He pulls out a little pendulum from one of his pockets and starts swinging it back and forth across the sword, furrowing his brow. It makes a high pitched sound that you can barely hear. He then takes out a tiny mallet and hits the blade with it, as if he were melding the metal. He seems satisfied with the results, running his hoof along the flat of the blade, then the hilt. He goes all the way down to the pommel, which he promptly removes and nibbles on gently before putting it back. "Curious…"
His odd tamperings go on for a bit as he places in a vice of sorts, then sticks the blade between the floorboards, then taps it on his desk, then sprinkles some powder on it only to clean it off, and other mind-boggling activities besides. He definitely seems to know what he's doing, as his eyes suddenly light up. "Aha. I nuderstand now. This sword was definitely used for dimensional magic. There is a trace of it within this weapon still. However, it cannot be reverse engineered. The remains are too old and too thinly spread. But it is part of what you may need if you want to try and find a way home. Not that anyone ever has, mind you. Essentially, think of this sword as a key. Now, you need to find the lock. All keys are unique, after all. If you could find the place where the portal opened up, you could, EXTREMELY theoretically, open a way back. But the odds of finding the right place at the right time are astronomical. Even if you did find it, you'd have to wait for the portal to open again. It just can't be done, practically."
He hands the sword back to you. "Now then, was there anything else? Scrolls, tomes, enchantments, disenchantments…?">>699092
"Mhm." He puts the piece of paper in his apron pocket. "I could make it. Not like I have any other big projects right now. It'd take me at least a week. Maybe more. How much do you want to pay?"
I rub the back of my neck. "Well, I don't know. Do you think you can give me a quote? I don't really have a good handle on what a decent base price would be." Probably shouldn't have told him that. I'm just setting myself up to get swindled. "I was thinking round about a couple hundred bits." It is a custom job so I'll probably end up needing to pay more, but it'd be nice if I could get away with that. "And a week is fine."
"Thanks," Hermodur says, nodding to the bartender.
"Ales are more… palatable than most alcohols. Ailuros has a penchant for wine, but I tell you, I think it's just for the status image. I cannot abide by the taste or the sheer feel of it. Of course, in order to maintain the image, I had to drink it whenever she did…"
"What drink do you have there?" he asks before taking a swig of his own. He doesn't answer her question. At least, not yet.
Initially looking hopeful, my optimism was quickly dampened by the news.
"I see.. astronomical odds, then.."
looking away for a moment to feign a cough as i wipe my eyes, i compose myself and offer another bow.
"N-no that would be all, thank you for your help, Fumblemore."
Waiting to see if Rabi had business left, i make my way out of the house, dutifully holding back any sign of tears as i head back to the spire and the Inn.
Zunden thinks about bartering some more, but decides not to push her luck, nodding again.
"Zoundz good, I'll have zhat put in a zeperate coin purze right away. Ze 800 and credit we'll wait to zee what I'm purchazing. No zenze in giving me bitz juzt to hand zhem back over."
"So, we can't really work it out of this, but if we found something it could interact with here, it could send us back? Maybe, at least? It's better than nothing."
"Well that depends. If you want me to make it just a straight up poison sprayer, no strings attached, that'll cost you about 100. For more bells and whistles - weaponized attachments, alternate modes, more variety in usable materials, integrated armor pieces, that sort of thing - that'll cost more. Looking at anywhere from 200 to 600." He looks at you expectantly.>>699096
She scrunches up her face. "Ale. Same as you. I just don't like the taste of alcohol in general, I guess. So bitter. Ugh." She forces herself to scull the rest and pushes it away, clearly not wanting any more. The bartender collects it, looking a little disappointed.
"Well, if you don't want to talk, that's fine." She shrugs. "Just asking. Say, I'm gonna go over to the market before they close up, see if I can get some new clothes. Desert chic doesn't really suit me. You want to come?">>699097
He looks a bit taken aback at your reaction, blinking in surprise. "W-Was it something I said?…">>699098
"Alright then." He starts counting out a large bag of bits and hands it over to you before starting to put away all the trinkets you brought him. >+900 bits>>699099
"Not just that. You'd have to find where the portal opened on our end, then wait for it to open again before doing the ritual yourselves. As I said, it's a very slim chance. Whoever owned it might know where it was from. I would suggest retracing your steps, and trying to determine the origins of this sword. I'm afraid that is beyond my skill."
>>699098>correction because I'm retarded
"Alright then. Take your time. Plenty to see in here." He puts away all the trinkets you brought him and starts grouping some coins together before pulling out a book and starting to read while you browse the shop.
"H'm. Well, I think I could use a variety in usable materials, and maybe the integrated armor. Not really interested in 'weaponized attachments'. At all. I could see alternate modes being useful, too." I rub my chin and hum to myself in thought. "Alright, how about I set it my price at 400 and you do what you can with that? Does that sound alright?" It's going to cut into my pocket pretty hard, but I'll be damned if it won't come in handy.
"Oh, and while I'm thinking about it can you tell me how to get to 'the downs'?"
"Well, no one really 'owned' it here. We found it in the possession of some thugs. But, I guess that's another thing for us to look for… wherever that'd be."
giving a half-hearted smile, i shake my head
"N-no it's quite alright. I shouldn't have put so much hope in the sword, really."
"If there was any
way of escape, it certainly wouldn't be so simple. Hopeful naivety to believe otherwise.."
"Yes, I should find more suitable attire for the messenger of a god," Hermodur says proudly. Then, he lets out a long sigh. In a display that may turn the stomach of some, he drinks the entirety of his remaining ale in one go.
"Mhm." He sits down at a nearby bench, pulls out a pair of comically small spectacles that somehow attach to his face and starts writing down your details, including your name. "Alright. I'll have it ready in a week. If you don't have the money on you now, you can pay on pickup."
"Why would you ever want to go to the Downs," he grunts. He doesn't wait for an answer. "East side of town, out on the river. Once you hit Twilight Square, you'll see a big waypost. Should guide you to wherever you need to go in town.">>699239
"I see. Well, there's not really much else I can offer you in that regard. I'm sorry.">>699240
"…Well, I'm sure there is a way! Nothing is impossible!">>699239>>699240
With your business completed, you bid Fumblemore farewell and make your way back to the front porch, where you can see a smaller version of the white spires waiting to be used. "Goodbye!" he calls as you go to teleport away. "Good luck out there! Come again!"
You find yourselves back at the base of the spire where you started, near the marketplace. The sun is starting to go down, and the streets are less crowded than before.>>699241
The ale is bitter and unremarkable. The barkeep looks impressed at your display.
"Okay then. Let's get going before we lose the light."
You leave with Aurora and make your way back towards the bazaar. It seems to be quieter now that it's closing, although there are still plenty of merchants out and about, mostly trying to sell food products. However, you manage to find a clothes merchant among them, a young ewe with a prominent eye necklace. Her collection of clothing is quite expansive, including accessories such as hats, glasses and jewelery. She also caters to travelers as well as fashion enthusiasts, with more practical wear being widely available along with the more conventional line. "Hey there, travelers," she says cheerfully. "Need something from my collection? There's plenty to look at." Aurora starts idly browsing the stall, trying to make up her mind.
I nod. "I don't have the money on me right now, but I have it. I'll pay for it when I pick it up. Thank you."
Truth be told I wonder why I want to go to the downs, myself. I don't know what it is, but it feels like something I should do. I mentally take down the directions and nod again. "Got it. Thank you. I'll be back in a week."
I leave and follow the directions.
"I'm looking for something tasteful. Nothing too elaborate, but still fanciful enough to establish a deluxe personage," Hermodur says in a bizarrely businesslike manner as if he's shopping for a piece of art.
He looks over the clothes with a thoughtful hand to his chin.
Zunden browse the items slowly, sometimes lifting them up and peering at them closely, shaking the philal of sand, taking the ghillie mantle and putting it on her shoulders experimentally.
"Thiz one - iz it magical? I have friendz who like zneaking."
"Well… it's not much, but it's something." the stallion notes, before looking to the sky. "Ooh, it's getting late. Should we swing by the market on the way back?"
Back standing in the marketplace, i kick at the dirt with a hoof, before letting out a long sigh.
"Mm.. It seems we've been thrown back to square one, our leads running dry now that the sword is out of the question."We've time yet before needing to regroup, perhaps a stroll will help clear my head, i could certainly use one after this mess.
i thought to myself, glancing at the waning light around me.>>699247
"By all means, i'll regroup with you shortly. This whirlwind of a journey has left me rather muddled, i'm in need of some time to think."
Looking around for landmarks, i pick a street at random and follow the path idly, mulling over the trip so far.
[1d10] strollingRoll #1 5 = 5
"Eh, we might as well stick together. I don't have much else to do, anyways."
Hadrian just grunts and gets back to work.
You start heading due east. You notice that the further into Braildorn you get, the more the scenery starts to change, going from dirt and cobble to rickety floorboards and skeletal wood buildings. You can hear the gentle lapping of the river far beneath you.
After some time, you arrive at what you can only assume is Twilight Square. As the name would suggest, it is a very large plaza with the centerpiece being an elaborate fountain depicting the Alicorn Empress and her Five Saints. The streets all around are almost dead at this time of day, with the only ones around being lamplighters of ambiguous race, wearing wide brimmed hats and long, heavy overcoats, going about their business in illuminating Braildorn at this time of the evening.
Apart from the plaza, you can see a church nearby, along with a waypost directing citizens around Braildorn. You can see that there are 10 major districts labeled by the sign:
You are currently in the Twilight Square District.
To the southeast are the Downs, where you intend to go.
To the east is a district called Daltry, along with another called Whiteharbor.
To the north and the northeast is the Brax District, seemingly a more affluent and upper class part of town, along with a place called Mercy Isle. You recall this being where Chardonnay said the Grosvenor manor is, currently owned by the de facto mayor of Braildorn, Cecile Grosvenor.
To the south is the Farthing District.
To the west and northwest, where you came from, are the Bazaar District and the Grey Gardens District, respectively.
You notice that the presence of lamplighters indicates that the sun is almost completely down at this point. Going to the Downs might not be a good idea when you're by yourself at night, especially when you don't know the town too well.>>699245
She gives you an odd look, but nods. "I think I have something. One moment…" She digs around amid one of the racks before presenting you with a maroon and black three piece suit. "How about this? I think it looks quite striking myself. It also has a leather undercoating, for warmth and protection."
Aurora can't seem to decide whether to go with a grey hooded coat like Violet's or a pale yellow dress.>>699246
You notice that the sand seems to float back down into position as you shake it, almost like a snow globe.
"I don't think it is," Gotthard answers with a shrug. "Seems useful for hiding though.">>699248>>699249
You head down one of the many narrow streets of Braildorn, observing as the lamplighters of the town start going about their business lighting up the town. As you walk, the cobble streets turn to wood, and the structures become more flimsy.
You are on the eastern end of town now, built on the riverside. As night falls, you see more unsavory types start to emerge in the shadows and alleys, urchins, thugs and prostitutes. You get odd, leering looks from the nightowls of Braildorn, and you get the feeling you are not welcome here.
"Hmm… it may be best for us to pick the pace up a little, Silver." he comments, looking around casually. Since they haven't found much good, he's been watching the people.
"Form and function in one," Hermodur says with an approving nod. "Well done. This selection is perfect. Blessings of Ailuros upon you," Hermodur says thankfully.
"What do I owe you?" he asks as he takes out his share of the party's money.
keeping largely quiet during the trek, i perk up upon noticing the ramshackle area.
"Oh! It seems we've wandered quite a ways further than i thought.."
"Should we turn back? Time seems to have slipped by quite quickly, we might lose the way back, even by lamplight."
"Very well.. Let'z zee zhen.."
Zunden lays the mantle on the counter, and goes to collect the lute, signet ring, bottled ship, and the dreamcatcher.
"Well zhen, conzidering it iz not magical… and ze ring..? I zertainly don't zee anyzhing here to unlock zhat'd fit it.."
Zunden does some math in her head,
"How about two hundred for zhem all?" [1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Sounds like a good idea, Silv. Let's get on back to the inn…"
"very well, We'd simply need to follow the trail back and we'll be right as rain."
taking a look down the road, i cross and start trying to pick my way back to the inn.
', eh? My, how informal! Somepony may assume we're in a relationship at this rate, strolling through the city, casual nicknames and all."Roll #1 7 = 7
"A-Ack. It just sort of came out, I guess. I can avoid that in the future, if that assumption would be bad."
The deeper I get into braildorn the more worried I am. Maybe coming this way alone wasn't such a good idea, but it's going to bother me until I do. I sigh, turn around, and head back to meet up with the group at the inn. I'll probably come back with Zunden tomorrow.
"Ohoho, it's nothing to worry about, Rabi. I find it quite cute, not to worry." stifling a laugh, i brush your shoulder with my other wing.
"..Not for a lack of interest, certainly, just an observation~"
Rabi lets out an embarrassed little chuckle and blushes, before managing to say "W-Well, glad it's not off-putting. And, uhm… noted, I suppose." he finishes, with a bit of a smile.
"For this one, that'll be 60 bits," she answers. Aurora decides to go with the yellow dress after some deliberation.>-60 bits
You pay what you owe and leave the markets, heading back to the Old Familiar.>>699255>>699256
Seeing that you've gotten into a bad part of town, you start heading back the way you came. You cross a large plaza with an ornate fountain depicting Twilight, where you manage to get your bearings on where to go (see the reply to Norv in the previous post). You press on, eventually arriving back at the inn.>>699254
He frowns and shakes his head. "All that's worth at least 250. I'm trying to run a business here."
After some convincing, you manage to bring it down to 240. In the end, you walk out with some new items, and enough money to last you a long time. Unfortunately, the white lute doesn't fit in your bag of holding, so you are forced to carry it down the streets, getting an odd look from passersby.>+760 bits>>699251>>699252>>699253>>699254>>699258
At dusk, you all come together outside the Old Familiar. Zunden has gotten herself a lute, while Hermodur and Aurora went shopping and are both sporting new clothes, Aurora in a yellow dress and Hermodur in a rather swanky maroon three piece suit. However, Violet is nowhere to be seen. Aurora looks a little worried. "She said she was going to the markets, but I didn't see her there. Did you?"
Returning the smile, i trot along with you back to the Inn's entrance, taking in the scenery as we move.'noted'? did i say too much? Oh you stupid mare you blew it!
i think to myself, blushing furiously.>>699261
Arriving at the Inn's entrance, i look around with some concern as i shrug.
"Not so far as we've seen, though Violet disappearing is nothing new. You don't suppose she might be lost out here? This city is quite big, we nearly lost the trail back earlier."
I shake my head. "No," I say. "I haven't seen her anywhere. I guess I haven't been to the market either, though. Did she specifically say where she was going, or just say she was going to the markets?">>699262
"She's been here before. More than once from the sound of it, so I think we can rule her getting lost out."
Zunden plucks at the lute experimentally as she sits cross-legged on the floor of the inn.>identify: [1d10]
"I doubt zhe'z dizappeared for good, we have yet to properly divvy up ze pay. Perhapz zhe had private zhingz to attend for. If zhe izn't back by ze morning, we could look for her."
Zunden says, hitting a particularly sour note on the lute and scowling,
"I waz able to get a more zhan fair prize for the treazurez I took from ze tomb. I picked up a few knicknackz wizh zome of fundz, zince I managed to convinze ze pawn dealer to give me an additional 100 bitz in credit zhere."
Zunden displays the wares she purchased from the pawn shop: A ghille mantle for hiding in forests, a signet ring that would work as a key for some unknown object, a ship in a bottle, and a dream catcher.
"I know one or more of zheze are magical, so I intend have zhem identified. If zey prove uzeful, I plan to zhare.">>699263
Zunden turns to Norvegicus, speaking quietly to him
"Ze goblet waz worzh a hundred bitz, zo I saved zhiz for you."
Zunden says, handing over the bag of bits to the diamond dog discretely as not to make a show of it to other patrons of the inn.Roll #1 8 = 8
"She can take care of herself," Hermodur says in regards to Violet.>>699265
Hermodur notices the dream catcher and he immediately shows an expression of practically desperation. "Do you know anything about that?" he asks quickly and hopefully, pointing to the dream catcher.
"Yeah. I'm sure she's okay, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried. IF she isn't back by morning we should look for her." I smile and take the bag, covertly stuffing it into the top of my robe dress thing. Man. I really need to get some different clothes now that these aren't as practical. I nod. It wasn't as much as I was hoping, but it was certainly more than it could have been. "Thank you. Saved me some time."
"I do not, no, but it intrigued me! If you like you could look it over."
Zunden smiles, passing the dream catcher over to Hermodur.
"I know little of magic, but let's see if anything comes to mind," Hermodur says as he takes the dreamcatcher and observes it.
[1d10] to identify itRoll #1 9 = 9
"So, where do you think this 'exit point' we'd need to find is? I have some weird feeling it isn't necessarily where we popped up when we arrived here."
"Norv's right. She seems to know her way around," Aurora shrugs. "She doesn't seem the type to get lost that easily. If she doesn't show up by tomorrow, maybe that compass of yours could guide us?">>699263
"Just said to tell you she was going out to the markets. She left a note in the room, I think.">>699265
You noodle a bit on the lute as best you can. You sense some magical enchantment on it, but cannot discern exactly what. The local bard gives you a dirty look, pausing in his performance to play a rather aggressive piano riff.>>699266
"I suppose you're right. Shouldn't be worrying, especially now she has both eyes.">>699269
You examine it for a while, turning it over in your hands a few times. You sense a sort of protective magic coming from it, but more than that, you cannot tell.>>699262>>699263>>699265>>699266>>699270
"I think Zunden has the right idea," says Aurora. "If she's not back by tomorrow then we should be worried, I think. In the meantime, maybe we should see about work that needs to be done? Not that we're short on money, I mean, but it beats sitting around all day.
"Also, I don't know about you but I'm getting kind of hungry. We should get something from here if we're going to be staying overnight."
Zunden sets her lute down at the mention of food, stomach rumbling.
"I have been zmelling fizh zince we came here, I will wait no longer to eat it."
Zunden says, flagging down a waitress,
"What zort of fizh iz caught here?"
"Of course. So long as we have the compass we'll be perfectly fine." I reply, nodding.
"As for food I'm quite famished, it would be nice to order something to eat for a change, rather than subsisting on rations.">>699270
"As Fumblemore said, the odds of finding the exit point are astronomical." i reply glumly. "We'd have better luck digging up the statue than finding it."
My stomach growls at the mention of food. I've been so busy today that I don't think I've actually eaten anything. "Yeah. I might look around for a job. I want to take a couple hours to play with my rats and the spider for a little while, though. I don't think I've really called them out for more than fifteen or so minutes in the past week, and that isn't fair to them.">>699273
"I guess that means you guys didn't really turn anything up either? I kind of want to stop and talk to him about a couple of things before I leave. I have a week before my new weapon is ready, so I guess I have some time to kill anyway."
"Yeah- if she's not back by tomorrow, we should go looking. As far as food and work, both sound good.">>699273
Rabi sets a hoof on Silver's shoulder, and offers a reassuring smile "Well. we went from 'no chance of return without dealing with the devil' to 'some chance'. That's something, right? Who knows what else we could come across?"
"I don't know what this does, but I wonder if I might keep it until we figure it out. I might have a use for it," Hermodur says, still hopeful.>>699273
"Would you be able to show me the way back to Fumblemore? I need to know what this does," he says, holding up the Dreamcatcher.>>699271
"With all this money, I say we celebrate with a feast," Hermodur suggests boisterously.
? Oh my, that will rack up quite the tab at the inn, nearly a hundred bits a night and we'll be cleaned out of pocket. What in equestria are you having built?">>699275
"Mm, i suppose.. It's quite the long shot, but perhaps the bandits from Ironbrook may still be in the area, if so we could pry out where they found it. A slim chance, but one nonetheless.">>699276
"Ah, it's getting quite late, but if you'd like to speak with him there's a teleporting pillar in the marketplace, very hard to miss." i reply, gesturing behind me with a wing.
"Feel free to hold onto it, I bought zheze for anyone to keep.">>699277>>699276
"We zhould travel tommorow togezher zhen, Hermodur. I'd like all zheze itemz to be appraized, ideally."
"A poison sprayer. It's going to run me a lot more than my old one then, though. I hope it's worth it. I was actually thinking about only staying here a night or two and just checking out a cheaper place after. It's not like you guys have to stick around just because I am."
"I will zay, given what I made from ze jewerly I looted, we could all ztay here a week."
"But we would have nozhing left over."
"Fair enough. As Aurora mentioned we could supplement the tomb's treasure with work here, quite possible you wouldn't have to live as a pauper while we're here, so long as we keep busy."
The waitress passing by happens to be Chardonnay, who eagerly comes to tend to your group's table. "Hello again! How did everything go?">>699272
"Well, we have all sorts, all endemic to the Echoes. The most popular one is our Sagefish, or Red Bream, but for the more daring we have Whorl Shark available. We also have Dolmencrab on the menu, or Orchard Keeper if you're not interested in seafood. And salads, of course, for the herbivorous. We have a range of soups available as well. Today's special is…" She checks a notebook in her apron pocket. "Steamed Whorl Shark fillet.">>699276
"Good idea." Aurora orders herself a Caesar salad.
"Yeah, see? It's not hopeless- it's just a little more plausible every day."
Hermodur can't help but burst out laughing at that remark, a large grin on his face. "Very well said," he says approvingly through his own laughter.>>699282
"I'll have a sagefish," Hermodur says with some excitement. "And, odd question, but do you have any watermelon?"
"Ah yes, hello!" i say, settling into the table, waving with a wing at the waitress.
"We had managed to find Fumblemore, quite the.. interesting pony, though sadly he didn't have the news i was hoping for. A pity, but not wholly unexpected."
"In any case, there's little sense mulling over what can't be helped."
giving it a moment of thought, i order a salad along with Aurora.
"H'm. Yeah." There are still so many things I want to check out and do. At this rate I'm afraid I'm not even going to get to before running out of money, even with picking up jobs. The sprayer is going to take a chunk out of my pocket, and I'm still rolling other ideas around in my head that might take even more money.>>699282
For probably the first time in my life I'm actually in a position to order something I want instead of what's just cheapest on the menu. I lick my lips and think for a moment. Daring? What's daring about fish? I look up at her. "I think I'll try the Steamed Whorl Shark fillet, please."
"Hmmm I'd try a zampler if you had one juzt zo I could familiarize myzelf wizh ze fizh, but if you do not have zomething like zhat, I'll have ze zpecial."
"I'll take a salad, if I can as well. I'd rather avoid meat for now."
She writes down your order. "Hm? I think we might, yes. I'll check." She excuses herself for a moment then comes back. "Yes we do! Would you like a slice or a half?">>699285
She nods with a small smile. "Yes, he's quite the character, isn't he. Shame he couldn't help much. I hope you find what you're looking for!" She takes your order.>>699286>>699288
"Right you are!" She jots down both of your orders.>>699287
"Yes, of course." She leaves for a moment and brings back a small plate with a sample of grilled Sagefish. You find it to have quite a rich, salty flavor, not unlike tuna.>>699284>>699285>>699286>>699287>>699288
"Now then, is there anything else I can do for you? Drinks, information…?"
Addendum: You proceed to try a little of each of the meats listed. Orchard Keeper you've already tried, being somewhat analogous to duck, while Dolmencrab to you tastes like crab back in the Dominion, although with a sweeter flavor to it. Red Bream is rather like whiting, with a very subtle, slightly bitter tinge. Whorl Shark is by far the strangest, being very rich and filling, but also having a spicy bite to it somehow. It leaves your mouth stinging a little, but not unpleasantly so.
"drinks, eh? What would would you have on hoof? It's been ages
since i've indulged in some."
"A half please," Hermodur answers the watermelon question. "Also I'll have another of that ale the bartender gave me earlier. Forgive me, I forgot the name."
"I take that back, bring a whole watermelon, for the table!" Hermodur says with boisterous excitement.
Zunden enjoys the small sample platter, thinking to order more but deciding against it as not to get her stomach too used to large meals. She nods in thanks to the waiter,
"Hmm… Brandy, do you happen to zell liter or 5 liter cazkz? If you don't, I'll juzt take a glazz. Ozherwize, how much would zhat cozt?"
Zunden asks, pulling out her bestiary to personally add addendums on the tastes of such creatures. She checks her bags for any writing utensils, looking around,
"Hmm, I do not have any ink or zuch. I'm not uzually a writer but I wanted to keep track of ze wildlife of ze Echoez along wizh ze book'z magic.">>699293
"Ooh, zhat zoundz interezting. I've zeen it zold at marketz, but never tried one of zhoze big zhingz. Zhey are ze big green onez, right?"
"Watermelon's good, too."
"I'll just have a water. Other than that I think I'm fine, thank you. And if I can could I go ahead and pay so I can just get up and go to my room when I'm done?">>699293
"I think I'll pass on the melon, thank you. I want to actually get some sleep, so I'll go ahead and head to our room when I'm done eating. That way I can take some time to play with my rats, and then maybe try and train the spider a little before you guys decide to turn in."
"Oh? ordering melon for all of us? How lovely! Thank you, Hermodur."
"Training a spider
? How would you manage that? I'd imagine they're not the best at following commands, being as they are."
"Well, the most popular is our Queen Bee Ale, but we also have the usual drinks: beer, wine, cider, cocktails… As for non-alcoholics, we have a variety of fruit juices - mostly the usual stuff you'd find back home, really - and homebrewed tea.">>699292>>699293
She looks a little taken aback. "Er, okay. One whole watermelon it is. And the Queen Bee Ale.">>699294
"We do sell it in casks, yes." She writes down an order for a 1 liter cask of brandy.">>699296
"Water it is then."
"A cask is about 40 bits."
You pay for your meal on the spot. It turns out to be relatively inexpensive.>-15 bits
"Yes, but you don't eat the green part. You eat the red flesh of the fruit on the inside. It's quite delicious, AND refreshing," Hermodur speaks in a businesslike manner.>>699295
"The best fruit there is!" Hermodur says with a child-like smile.
"Though, there's not much competition," he adds in a more reserved tone. "As a feline, I don't like most fruit.">>699296
"Suit yourself," Hermodur says with a bit of a frown.>>699297
"It's my pleasure," he says with a courteous smile.>>699299
"It's too bad Violet is missing out," Hermodur muses with a tinge of sadness.
Rabi chuckles a little, and offers a short nod "I can't really disagree. It's always been a rather nice touch to any meal."
I shrug. "Apparently you can. I'll probably ask around for more information on it later, maybe try and read up on it some. For now I need to actually make sure he's comfortable being around me. That's the best place to start with pretty much any animal, I'm sure. And while he is
just a spider, he seemed pretty smart, so who knows?
[1d10]preemptive spoder adjustment roll>>699299
I flash her a small smile."Thank you, miss Chardonnay.">>699301
I shrug. "Sorry, big guy. I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty busy for a bit, and I've been in kind of…" I clear my throat. "Well, kind of a sorry state, so I haven't been giving them as much attention as they deserve, and that isn't right."Roll #1 3 = 3
"Curious, You'd gladly eat watermelon, yet avoid lettuce completely. Are they not similar? Both are largely made of water, after all.">>699299
"Hmm.. sounds lovely, Honey Ale, presumably. I'll take a glass, if you wouldn't mind.">>699303
"Huh.. quite the strange choice for a pet, but if anypony is qualified to care for it that would be you. After all, the rats you care for seem well taken care of."
"..Though i certainly hope you'll keep it caged when sleeping. I'd dread to wake up with it on me
." i finish, shuddering.
Zunden drums her claws on the table for a short bit, before nodding,
"Yez, zhat is fine. I will order ze cazk too."
Zunden says, handing the 40 bits.
"A fellow denizen of the desert would understand," Hermodur nods. "They can be lifegivers in the right circumstances.">>699304
"First of all, don't EVEN compare the two," Hermodur says in a practically insulted tone. "The grass flavor of a leaf is a far cry from the heavenly, gushing flavor of a well ripened watermelon."
"Second, feline teeth are still able to bite into watermelon. I can't help that I am simply not evolved to be able to eat your leaves."
"Definitely. It's eating and drinking at the same time, in a sense."
"Fine, fine. I hadn't meant to offend, I can see you're quite passionate about this." i reply, waving you off with a wing.
"It was a simple observation, you see. You seldom find a carnivore partake in fruit, after all."
Your orders are placed and everything is brought out for you in a timely manner. The individual meals are overshadowed by the truly enormous watermelon that is brought out, requiring two ponies to carry it and split it in half in front of you. The cask of brandy is left next to your table, due to the gigantic fruit dominating the already limited space. You find the meals themselves quite tasty, and a cut above what you'd usually find in the Dominion. Aurora keeps mostly to herself, idly eating her food, lost in thought. As time goes by, there is still no sign of Violet.>>699303
After finishing your meal, you excuse yourself and head upstairs to your room, and take your new spider out to try and socialize with it. Unfortunately, it's having none of it, skittering under a nearby dresser and refusing to leave.
"I apologize," Hermodur says, dialing it back a bit. "I didn't mean to be aggressive. It's as you said, watermelon is… close to me. It's odd to say, but there it is. Growing up, my family ran a little watermelon farm on a small oasis in the desert in Abyssinia."
"Watermelon every day for every meal… Some might grow sick of the same food over and over. I just learned to love it."
"T-This is quite a deal bigger than expected, but it works I suppose." he comments, before getting started on the salad. The Saddle Arabian occasionally glances up to the door to check for any sign of Violet, but doesn't speak up yet."
Hermodur is ecstatic over the size of the watermelon. "From where did you acquire this behemoth?" Hermodur asks as he marvels at the giant fruit. "I'd like to see how they've done it."
Hermodur eats his fish, then moves on to a hefty portion of the watermelon.>>699305
"Well now there's plenty for you to sample," Hermodur says happily. "I can't believe you've lived in the desert for so long, but never had the chance to partake in the glory of watermelon."
leaning back in shock at the size of the melon, i take a moment to take in it's size before returning to my salad.
"My word! Do melons usually end up so big
"Uh… no, actually. Most of the one's I've had are much smaller than this."
"It takes a lot of skill and resources and work to get a watermelon this big," Hermodur says with an admiring grin.
I sigh. Yeah, that's about what I expected at first. I'll have to remember to pick up some crickets or something so I can feed him. I crawl over to the dresser and lie down on my stomach, trying to stay a little bit away so I don't intimidate him. "Buddy, I don't know what I was thinking. I don't have any experience with spiders so I'm not even really sure where to start." I hold my hand out flat against the floor and study the spider. "Really should give you a name, though. I don't really have to keep thinking of you as 'spider' in my head." I roll it over for a moment, scratching the back of my head. "Well, normally I'd probably name you something like Violet, but given the circumstances that might be kind of weird. How about… Webster. How's that sound?"
[1d10]Another roll if you need it or want it.Roll #1 3 = 3
"Anyone iz welcome to ze brandy, I keep zome in a wineflazk at all timez az antizeptic, but it'z alzo fine to drink."
Zunden says, taking out the half wineflask containing Brandy from Equestria and drinking it, given that she's got a replacement. She shudders, given it's high proof.>>699312
"Again, I had zeen it in marketz, but my clan had a pazh we'd travel in over ze courze of a year zhat take uz to cacti and aquifierz. If a melon waz found, it waz uzually given to adultz."
She says, trying to figure out how to procure a piece of the red flesh from the watermelon,
"I waz four yearz from adulthood when I left for Equeztria, zo I never had it. I conzidered purchazing it in ze marketz, but I had to be frugal at ze time."
"Well, help yourself now," Hermodur says happily and expectantly.
"One of the farms out in the Sticks grows them," Chardonnay answers, pausing to catch her breath after hauling the absolute unit of a watermelon. "Ever since Starfall, they've been bringing out these monsters. Must be something in the soil…">>699316
Webster doesn't understand a word you're saying, and remains firmly in hiding.>>699317
After a while of trying to take a piece of flesh from a fruit the size of your torso, you eventually settle for prying some out of it with a knife.>>699311>>699312>>699313>>699317
The watermelon is absolutely delicious. Tastefully crunchy, sweet and most of all filling, it's some of the best you've ever had.
"Ooh, well if you insist!"
with my mood largely improved after finishing my ale, i refill my cup with brandy.
"Harder liquors were generally saved for special occasions, so this will be quite the change of pace. My thanks, Zunden."
"Hmm, i suppose that given this space is magically made the soil must be of a higher quality."
"It's the dominion's loss, i suppose, missing out on crop yields like this."
"Starfall?" Hermodur asks curiously.
"Here," Hermodur says as he takes a knife and slices out an easily eatable wedge. He hands it to Zunden with a smile.>>699321
"This IS a special occasion," Hermodur says as he finishes his own mug and starts in on another from Zunden's supply. This being his third drink in the past few hours, it is starting to show. He's just a little wobbly.
I sigh and sit up. Probably going to have to change my tactics, but to what? Now that I have him out I can't just leave the room. Last time I had him cornered he played dead, so if I just reached in maybe he wouldn't bite me. I stand up, pick up my cage, put it beside the dresser, and move to the opposite side. This way if he tries to run then he should just run straight into the cage, and if he doesn't I can pick him up and put him back. I'll probably just actually end up asking someone about it, just in case there's something I'm doing wrong. I crouch down and reach my hand under, moving to scoop him up.
Zunden bites into the piece, raising an eyebrow and continuing to eat the rest of the piece, biting into the rine once before quickly retracting it from her mouth.
"Right, you zaid not to eat zhat part. It holdz zo much fluid, now I underztand why it waz zo big now. I zee why ze clan kept it only for ze adultz, zhough, ze little zaurianz would likely whine zhat zey couldn't have it more often."
Zunden nods, taking her own knife and cutting another piece, eating it as well.
"It'z quite zimple too, not a complex flavor. Even zhough ze zkin izn't good, ze white bit remindz me of cucumber, which I've tazted before."
"Oh? And just what
would that be?" i reply, clearly not holding the liquor well.
"Would that be our making it here, or our spending of the trove? Or perhaps something else.">>699314
"Ohoho, Rabi you really must
try this brandy, it's quite smooth!" i laugh, gesturing clumsily to the brandy barrel, flush with drink.
"I guess it is, yeah. I would have expected a place in exile to have less… I don't know, fertile land? Magic or no, it really wasn't something I expected."
"As far as drinking goes… if you wouldn't mind, I'll try some. Unsurprisingly, I didn't have much time for alcohol back home."
"I did intend on taking zome of it along wizh uz, zhough I zuppoze I could juzt order anozher keg zhen."
Zunden says laughing, deciding to take a glass of the brandy as well,
"Ze only two alcoholz i've really had, zhough zhiz iz really juzt diztilled wine zo I guezz it'z all ze zame."
"Ah, it's quite alright. Simply making it here is a cause to celebrate!" i reply, taking another swig of brandy.
"Considering what we've
been through, we could use a chance to have some fun."
"Celebrating the success of our mission, of course!" Hermodur says before taking another swig. "In the employ of Ailuros, we'd always celebrate like this whenever we had successfully handled a major mission," he says with a wistful smile. "Hanuman, that old codger, he'd drink and drink… Ailuros bless him, several times we thought he'd died," Hermodur laughs.
"Minerva and Anansi childish they are not, but get some drinks in them, and they would concoct all sorts of mischievous plans. Ailuros," Hermodur sighs. "She would always seems so uncomfortable, but so amused with the antics. Hardly befitting behavior for her inner circle. But then, life can't always be serious."
Hermodur sighs and looks down sadly. Then, he finishes his third drink.>>699325
"Please don't compare the glory of watermelon to that of vegetables," Hermodur says in a sour tone.>>699327
"No time? As I said, life can't be ALWAYS serious.">>699328
"Yes, it's not… great. But, it gets the job done," he concludes with a laugh.
She blinks in surprise. "You must not be from around here. It was a huge event about four, five months ago. I didn't see it myself, but one of the stars themselves fell from the sky and scorched the whole landscape further north. Must've done something to the land though, because ever since then the farms have been better than ever." She shrugs. "Sometimes things just happen around here that we can't really explain. You learn to live with it. I remember about a year ago the sun went out for a minute, then came back. It was as if someone had turned the lights off and on again. Completely bizarre, and no one ever found out why." Aurora nods in acknowledgement, nursing her salad. She's barely eaten. "I remember that. The monastery was all up in arms for a while. They said it was an omen from Luna. Nothing came of it though.">>699324
You grab the spider as it curls up in your hand, pretending to be dead again. For a creature supposedly used in what are analogous to cockfights, these spiders seem quite docile to you.>>699323>>699326
Aurora frowns. "Watch yourselves now. Don't want to drink too much, or we'll never hear the end of it when you wake up tomorrow morning."
I look over the spider and gently run the back of my finger over its abdomen. "Wish I could do better for you, buddy," I say. "Oh well. We'll figure something out. I still need to check the bestiary, I think. Maybe there's something there, but for now I'll leave you alone." I slip it into the cage and shut the door. Don't really know what I expected, but I thought it'd go differently some how.
"More the money than the time, I guess. But, it's the same either way."
quite unsteady, i slide over in the booth to drape a wing over your back.
"Oh don't look so down, Hermodur! You're lucky to have such fond memories to drink over."
"It was all champaign tastings and suitor propositions anytime alcohol was out, such an absolute bore
, and anything remotely enjoyable was quickly ended. Really quite tragic, father was never one for entertainment." i pause, taking a moment to drink more of my glass.
"Savor the memories and drink to their health, yes? The last
thing you want is to mix fond memories with sadness." i ask, pushing the glass over for a toast.
"To their health!" i finish, before taking another swig.
"Very well then,">>699327>>699330>>699334
Zunden says, holding up a glass,
"To ze fact zhat we are all here in one pieze, ztill living and breazhing."
Zunden toasts, taking a drink.
"Here here!" i reply, finishing off the last of my drink.
"Close calls for certain, but we've made it!"
"Not mixing fond memories with sadness? Hmm," Hermodur scoffs, but there is a thoughtful tinge to it. "But, that is tantamount to living in denial. Sadness that the past is no longer the present is a part of motivation for a better future."
Even while drunk, Hermodur preaches like a dramatic priest. "Do not doubt the power of mixing emotions. Do not doubt the drive it gives you. Yes, I feel grief for what I have lost. But, it gives me the drive to get it back," he says in an attempt to sound driven, but his voice is shaky.
He scoffs again. "I would not have been able to help Ailuros as much as I did if I never had grief for my past. If life has taught me anything, it's that sadness will always creep its way into your past," he says bitterly.>>699335
To this, Hermodur smiles and laughs. "Now THIS is a proper victory celebration toast!"
Rabi gives Silver a soft nudge, before continuing with "Definitely. And, making it's what matters. And, not that it's a huge consolation, but… I thinkl I got exiled with a pretty decent band of people."
Zunden nods in agreement,
"I've met much worze people."
After tucking the spider away, you head back downstairs, where the rest of the party, especially Hermodur and Silver, seem to have had one too many at this point. Aurora looks somewhat uncomfortable, staring blankly at her empty salad bowl.
I take a seat and cock my eyebrow. "I miss anything interesting? Should I be, like, grabbing a drink?"
"If you do drink. We're toazting to ze fact we're all more or lezz in one pieze."
Having refilled my cup, i lean onto your shoulder, nodding slowly.
"Mhm.. It's all worked out quite well, far better than what i had once expected."
taking another sip, i look up at you then around at the party, blushing from the liquor.
"I was quite callous, admittedly, upon arriving here.. I had really only joined to use the group as a sort of 'pony shield'.." i trail off, taking another sip.
"It wasn't until later, after traveling for so long that i changed my mind.. You're all wonderful friends, and i do hope you'll forgive my original opinions.."
"Well, heck. Yeah, I'll toast to that." I gesture towards the cask and cock my eyebrow. "I guess this is ours?"
I shrug. "When we first met I pretended I was a hard ass assassin because I thought you were all cut-throat murderers, so no offence taken."
"I bought it yez. Waz going to take it wizh uz on our travelz az antizeptic and a drink, but zhiz workz too. I can alwayz purchaze another."
"How can we be in less than one piece?" Hermodur asks drunkenly.
I look around the table for a shot glass. Not finding one, I grab the glass I'd used for water, fill it half way, and hoist it into the air. "To not being dead," I say, knocking back part of the cup in one gulp. I clench my eyes shut and shiver, but the feeling isn't entirely unpleasant. "Phew. Been a while since I've actually drank anything."
"Not all of us, no. Though i'm fairly certain Hermodur and I had our share of it out in the dominion, as he surmised seeing me fight.." i chuckle, taking another sip.
"Well if we were to zeaze exizting, we would be in no piezez, I zuppoze."
Zunden says, giggling.>>699348
Zunden raises her glass and drinks again.
"Hmm.. we could have lost a limb, after all.." i reply, nodding sagely.
"That's certainly one way to do it."
"That would be a very impressive accomplishment," Hermodur laughs.>>699351
"That would be two pieces. The limb, and the rest of the body."
I look around at everyone. "So, on a whim, I don't suppose you all want to play cards?">>699349
I let out an awkward, slightly uncomfortable laugh. "Yeah. I'd put that much together." I lean back and sip my brandy.>>699351
I reach up and touch the scarring gash across my face. "Yeah. I suppose we definitely could have come out worse off." I snort, and let out a bubbly little, already tipsy laugh. "Actually if you count Violet we came back with more
body parts than we left with."
Hermodur laughs. "That sounds wonderful! We should use Zunden's deck!"
"Zhey are not playing cardz!"
Zunden says defensively, clutching the pouch holding her cards defensively,
"Zhey are my elder matron'z dying gift to me, I don't want to play poker wizh zhem."
completely stumped, i take another sip.
"I appear to be mistaken.">>699353
"Cards, you say? I'm afraid i'm a fair bit into my cups, i really wouldn't make for good competition."
"Besides, i'm rather short on bits and i'd rather not wager parts of my armor to make the difference." i reply, chortling at the idea.
I knock the last of my brandy back and click the cup against the table.>>699355>>699354
I giggle again. "I mean, I have a deck of cards. Played some with Violet.">>699356
I raise my brow. "Yeah. I suppose all of you are." I give her a small, sly smirk. "Maybe I'm just trying to take advantage of you, though? Who knows?"
"My, how forward!" i reply, covering my muzzle with a wing in mock shock "Robbing a mare in her drinks down to the clothing, quite the rogue you are, Norvy." i finish, winking at you while taking another drink from my cup.
My head spins a little as I lean back in the chair, shrug, and chuckle. "I have my moments. Mostly involving cards, dice, or spinning wheels." I wink. "Sometimes involving clothing." I lose my footing the chair nearly falls backwards, diminishing my statement a little. I barely manage to catch myself on the table and ease myself back to the ground.
laughing louder than expected, i stifle it to a mild chuckle with a wing.
"Ohoho, Norvey please
"I must admit, you're quite charming once you've loosened up with a drink or two.. It's nice to see you relaxed after having such a difficult journey." i add, finishing my third cup of Brandy.
I let out a content sigh and half fill the cup with brandy again. "See, that's the thing. I used to be alright. You have to be when you run a business, y'know? It's just ever since I came here-" I shrug. "Just feels like I've been screwing everything up. One thing after another. There are three times I can think of where I managed to feel like I was actually in my element." I lift my hand and count them off. "When we first got to Ironbrook and I helped exterminate that guy's roach problem," I lift up a second finger. "When I won that gamble with Rosen and Glider and got my trapping tools for cheap." I lift up the third. "And when I helped with the cube. It's disheartening."
I take a drink of the brandy and give a dismissive wave. Seems like every new drink you have the less reaction you have to drinking it. "But hell, you've listened to my whining enough. I'm sure it's getting old by now. Besides, I think things are starting to look up again."
Nodding along slowly, i reach down to refill my cup from the keg on the floor.
"Definitely, Norvy. You've had quite the string of bad luck, but you always managed to make it through in your own way."
taking another drink, i shift positions off of Rabi and scoot closer to your chair.
"Among other things, i've always admired your.. ability to keep to your morals, Norvey." i say, taking another sip. "That despite the trip here you've..you've managed to get by without being a killer like us." i add, sloppily gesturing towards Hermordur and myself with a wing.
"Whether by luck or restraint i've no idea, but it is
something to keep safe, that in-nocence, you know?"
I chuckle. "I don't know. I'd like to think it was my own doing, but there were times that… Well, there were times I thought I was going to lose it, y'know? But yeah, I'm glad I didn't."
I rub the back of my head. "Still, getting praise from you
is kind of nice and unexpected. Can't really say I know you as well as I know the others. Hell, I don't even think you know why I'm here. You were in the baths for that. Still, it's nice. I might have my morality, but you're strong, beautiful, well-bred, skilled, smart-" I lift my hand and start counting them off. "Tenacious, fast, hidey, decisive, and I'm sure you pull off a dress way
better than I do." I snort. "Truth be told, in the beginning I think I was more intimidated by you than anyone else."
"Oho stop it, you absolute charmer!" I reply, blushing fiercely as i take another sip of brandy, sidling up closer to your seat.
"Ordinarily I'd hesitate to speak so candidly, though now that I've shared what I've thought I'm quite surprised I hesitated for so long. Perhaps out of habit or courtesy, and being.. More than a few drinks in is certainly helping to loosen the tongue."
Taking another drink, I lean in close, face flush with liquor.
".. everything you said then, do you really mean it? Am I truly beautiful to you?"
I drain the last of my glass and slam it face down on the table. My head is already foggy and spinning, and I'm not about to go for enough to black out. That had to have only been, what, five shots maybe? Never realized I was such a lightweight.
I let out a hearty belly laugh. "You're not serious, are you? Of course I mean it. With how much I've seen you use your-" I wiggle my eyebrows. "Wily feminine charms there's no way I'll accept that you don't know how pretty you are." I drunkenly wiggle my finger in the air. "You might be able to trick me some way, but that's not the way you'll be able to trick me." Wait… Did that make sense? Huh. Oh well.
"Oh? And how then would i be able to trick you?" i reply, giggling as i run a hoof around the lip of my drink.
"When you've seen so clearly past my charm, what could i have left to trick you with?"
H'm. Actually that's a good point. I shrug. "Dunno, but you're pretty crafty so I'm sure if anyone could pull it off it'd be you." Part of me wants to grab another drink. The other part realizes how bad of an idea that probably is. My mind thinks back to both Persolus and the Beldam. "Besides," I say, letting out a sigh. "Maybe I'm just a reckless kind of guy who'll take risks even though I know they're bad for me in the end."
"Ah, but a risk never taken could mean a reward never received, Norvy! You musn't be afraid to be daring, dear."
with the last bit of my drink, i raise the cup with a wing.
"What say we toast again? To a new chapter, for all of us. To not..forget the risks we took to get here, and the rewards we gained for succeeding."
Without questioning it I turn my cup back over and fill it halfway again. "Know what?" I say, lifting my glass. "I'll drink to that. Can't win if you don't play. To high risks, and high reward." I knock the glass back and drain a third of it. My face is starting to take on a numb feeling, and a lot of the things around me seem like I'm looking through them through a glass of water. Still, for some reason that last drink has me wanting to drink *more*. Not less. Weird.
"It's good to see you open up a little, Norv. I know this place's been getting to you a lot, so it's good to see you can still get away from it a bit.">>699368
Rabi chuckles a little as he slips back in to his seat and stretches out "Hope you didn't drink up too much while I was gone, Silv. That stuff Zunden bought was pretty good."
Zunden holds up her glass and sips it, only having finished a second glass and been mostly just trying to attempt to teach herself how to play a lute.
Zunden says, looking up from her lute,
"What waz it like being… I guezz a noble? I no nozhing about luxury or one'z going onz for zhat lifeztyle. Waz zhere anyzhing you had to worry about? I can't imagine."
"Good question, actually. I know what you wanted was rather… different, from your family's, right?"
I chuckle. "Yeah, this is nice. Just wish Violet was here to enjoy it, too. I offered to share a drink with her ages ago, and now that it's actually happening she's not around." I sink into my chair a little. "Still have the rest of the week, I suppose." I take a sip of my drink and set it back on the table, scooting it just a little further away from me. "I'm sure she hasn't had too
much. She can still sit up. We were just having a nice conversation about risk vs reward." I glance over at her and give her a completely unsubtle, red-faced, drunken wink.
with the last drink from my cup and my fourth of the night, i lean onto your shoulder for support.
"Yes, yes that's the spirit.."
laughing lightly, i toy with my empty cup as i continue.
"My word, it seems i've had more to drink than i thought. climbing the stairs will be quite the hassle.."
"I don't suppose.. when the time comes, my ever so charming drinking friend could help me?" i ask, looking up at you as i finish.>>699370
"Ohoho yes, it's all so wonderful
!" i reply, trying and failing to set my empty cup on the table, sending it tipping onto the wood.>>699371
"A.. Noble? Boring." i reply bluntly. "All very clean and proper, and the suitors
! I could hardly enjoy anything without my father
shoving all manner of horrid ponies my way."
"I'm in my element here, quite frankly. I could never fit in among the upper crust, my brother was always more suited for it all."
Rabi chuckles a little bit more, and sets her cup upright before gently steadying her "Good to hear, then! I suppose this must be somewhat of a relief, then. You get to choose for yourself for once, yeah?"
"I would azzume it'd be lezz exziting, but zhat tellz me nozhing. Did you do anyzhing bezidez feign interezt in ztallionz and, I dunno, zit around? Zurely zhere waz zomezhing interezting about being rich. Many people want zhat life, after all."
"Mhm.. Father always left the brandy locked away.. drinking as i'd like now is quite lovely.." i sleepily mutter, supporting myself on Norvegicus' shoulder.>>699376
"Hmm.. Well, i was originally being trained to take over Dominion Rails. Between the mingles and proposers I.. traveled between foundries learning from Father. Being a company manager was quite the workload."
"..Though by now Father must have began training Silver Mark, useless as he is.."
A faint blush blooms on my cheeks, and my heart skips but I'm not sure if it's from the drink or something else. At this rate I'm not entirely sure how I'll
do with the stairs, but I can't in all good conscience turn her down. "Of course," I say. "What kind of a guy would I be if I said no?"
I cock my eyebrow. "Yeah, everything else aside, I guess there is a kind of freedom that inherently comes with not being tied down to anything."
"Zo you know trainz… you alzo know how poniez work. Where'd ze fighting come from? You can't tell me it iz juzt zurvival inztinct, I've been mugged plenty by untrained knife wielderz."
"Mm, yes.. not defined by class or wealth, a blank slate free to establish relationships with anypony who won't kill you..">>699379
Sobering up slightly, i mourn the empty keg as i reply.
"My Father was never a popular pony, and his employees were often targets for other companies to sabotage. Poison, stabbings, you know."
"I spent a good deal of time in the company infirmary, treating employees and taking notes on where bleeds how much and what poisons they were under. Everypony needs a hobby, after all."
"Were i not here, i could quite possibly pass for a doctor, given how much i've seen."
Rabi frowns a little at that, but doesn't push too much. "And, what company you keep is up to you. I'm surprised you'd hang around us, but I definitely don't dislike that.">>699380>>699379
"Huh. Never realized things'd be so cut-throat in business. I'd heard the term, but I didn't think it'd be… well, literal."
"As i said, i was quite callous first meeting everypony. I had really only planned to keep myself safe by hiding around the group, Though traveling together for a time changed my perspective for the better."
"And business was always quite dangerous, though certainly off the record. There's a reason employees lived on site and were treated in our infirmary. Business would collapse were the reality revealed."
"Jeeze. That sounds more like a war zone." I study her for a moment, realizing just how wrong I'd pegged her. I want to say something, but my brandy addled mind can't seem to dig up the right words. "For what it's worth I'm glad you decided to join us." I laugh. "Hell, right now I'm
glad I decided to join us, too."
Zunden rubs her chin, buzzed but not the drunk that the others are,
"If you could learn how to fight zimply by looking at injuriez and looking at what'z effective, nerdy bookwormz would rule ze world."
Zunden says laughing,
"Zo what, did you act as a counter azzazzin? Did you zpy for your father?"
She grins, asking less interrogatory and more so out of jovial curiosity,
"You do not need to anzwer of courze, I've juzt provided bedz for bozh before."
"I'm glad you joined up too. Especially now that you've gotten that silly idea that you're not good for anything out of your head, mostly.">>699382
"Glad I- err, we- spotted you, Silv. I don't think it would've been the same without you."
I unsteadily nod my head, and take another drink of my now just under half-full cup. "Yeah," I say. "I've decided that from now on I'm done moping. Doesn't get anything done. Can't
get anything done. From now on I'm going to go for broke, and if it bites me in the ass or if I screw up-" I shrug. "Screw it. Learn from it and do better next time. I can't be any worse off than half the idiots that landed themselves here, right?" At this point I don't know if it's me or the brandy talking, but I'm liking the words. "Go for broke," I repeat. "All in all the time, baby."
"Mm.. I'm Happy to hear it." i sleepily reply, resting my eyes as i adjust my position.
"And i was so worried you'd think ill of me for what i thought, too..">>699384
"I learned from practice around the town, Zunden. I always hated being bothered by catcallers and propositions.. Doing away with them was the answer for a time, until one got away."
Zunden raises an eyebrow, strumming her lute noisily in an attempt for a dramatic sting (only turning out to be a rapid succession of off tune notes).
"Zhere we go, I zhought it wazn't zhat boring after all. I zertainly don't condone it, but zhen again I knew plenty of murderz. I zhought nobelz were zuppozed to get away wizh zhoze kind of zhingz zhough, even if you did get caught."
"It's not like things can get worse, right?">>699387
"Huh? No, of course not. It's fine to be apprehensive of people dumped into exile. On the contrary, I'd say I'm rather fond of you."
"Hmph.. They had nothing besides his testimony, and yet somehow
reached a conviction.." i grumble.
"If i had to guess, my Brother may have suspected enough to chime in and push the jury towards their call..">>699389
"Oh?" I ask, opening an eye to look at you. "Quite fond of me, you say?"
"Well, yeah." he says, after a pause. "I can't think of a day where being around you didn't make things a little better."
I point. "Exactly." I polish the last of my brandy off and slam the cup down facedown again.>>699390
I shrug. "I'm not even here for murder. I'm here for attempted
murder, assault, and hoarding animals, so I wouldn't think you were lying if you said the system was a little broken."
"Zoooo, what now?"
Zunden asks, resting her elbow on the table and placing her chin in her hand,
"If we do zomehow manage to get back to the real world, you zertainly can't go to your family. Likewize noone here would recognize your title, maybe zome fellow outcazt noblez, but it won't get you far."
Zunden says, before shrugging,
"I zuppoze it's rude to bring zhoze zhingz up. You handle yourzelf well, and I prezume you're ze planning type. At ze very leazt, revenge on your brozher?"
"Isn't this world technically real, too?" I lean into silver a little bit and stretch, resting my arm on the chair behind her. "Honestly I've personally been thinking about if going back is even a good idea at all. I mean we're all here because we pissed someone off, right? What's to stop them from just tossing us back here again? Shouldn't we maybe just try to make the most of this as it stands?"
"The feeling is mutual, Rabi. You've been very supportive to us all since arriving, quite the gentlecolt.">>699393
"Oh yes, I've plans to speak with my brother, certainly. Of everypony i know, he would be the only one aware enough to realize my intentions. He was always quite good at reading others, His own sister not an exception.">>699394
"I find it quite unfortunate. I had planned to live a quiet life in peace, hindered by accident and thrust into this place without ceremony has completely shattered that plan."
"Escape would be more for unfinished business and rebellion than trying to return to normalcy."
"Well, ironically enough I'm living better now than I ever was before, but yeah. I'd hoped and expected to lead a quiet life too." I scratch the back of my head with the arm not behind Silver. "Hadn't really thought as much about 'unfinished business', but yeah. I guess you're right."
"I zuppoze zhere are zhoze zhat would you could ztill conzider friendz back zhere, all zhingz conzidered."
Zunden nods, turning to Norvegicus,
"I too zuppoze I could go back and have 'friendz' zhere, and likely I wouldn't be a recongized faze to all but zhoze guardz zhat ruined my home. But for now, I am not in hazte to get back; zhere are plenty here zhat I can help realize zheir pazh, maybe even more zhan back home."
She turns back to Silver,
"I can zee the rational behind your planned actionz. I am not one to ztop you, but an eye for an eye doezn't heal ze eye back. I've not been known to be az perzuazive az lady Zpite, zough."
"Well, of course. I've seen this as a second chance. I'm going to do what I can to make the most of it. What about you?"
"Mm.. That was the original
plan, at least. Traveling with others really has changed my perception.. Thinking about him now, i don't believe i've the anger needed to pursue it further.">>699398
"I suppose i should make the most of it as well. As it stands, our odds of returning home are quite slim, so for now at least we should press on as we have." i reply, nodding slowly.
"I understand that completely. Would you believe me if I told you that I was going to let the guilt of horribly maiming the guy who tried to kill me
bog me down? It's crazy what a little introspection over a long journey can do."
"Yeah! If we keep pressing on, our chances only get better, right? What's to lose?" he says, before humming a little and mulling it over… there can't be much to lose, right? "Though, I don't know about you, I was thinking of… heading upstairs. Care to join me, Silv?"
"Zo again, it's back to ze queztion of 'what now',"
Zunden gives a half grin, letting out a yawn,
"But I don't exzpect zhat to have a full anzwer right now. Nor do I want one. Really, I juzt wanted to know more about ze myzteriouz noble woman who doezn't hezitate to poizon and kill."
Zunden says, offering a small chuckle,
"You're an interezting pony, I'll give you zhat. Every one of you iz really. I don't zhink ze readingz when we met were a fluke.">>699400
"Killing zomeone iz terrifying, regardlezz if it'z to zave your life."
Zunden says, grin fading,
"I onze zcooped up a little gryphon boy -he couldn't have been older zhan zeven- who waz wailing and running zhrough a back alley blindly. Zhing had blood all over hiz clawz, apparently he killed hiz fazher. He was traumatized, took him over a monzh to even talk again, and he never zpoke more zhan twice a week even after zhat."
Zunden's tone drops, rubbing her temples,
"I don't like ze idea of normalizing killing. Juztification iz fine, but it'z ztill ending zhat perzon'z pazh."
She looks at the empty cask, pausing before closing her eyes.
"I zhouldn't drink, I talk too much."
Chuckling to myself, i adjust further into my spot on Norvy's side.
"Why, whatever do you mean, Rabi? The night is still young after all, though if you're feeling tired it's understandable, we did
have quite the journey here."
"It's been such a lovely time speaking with everypony, to move to bed now would be such a waste..">>699402
"As are you, Zunden.. Interesting, that is, not a pony.." i add, drunkenly nodding.
"Ehm…" he frowns and folds his ears back, before rubbing at his neck a little "R-Right, it is rather early. The offer's still there, if you ever decide you're feeling a little… tired."
I lower my arm to where it's actually draped around Silver's shoulder and give a genuine, lighthearted, albeit drunkenly lopsided grin. "Yeah, I agree with that," I say. "Never expected Silver would be so nice to talk to, but I've enjoyed every second of it. Charm. Wit. Everything you'd want in a conversation. Don't really want it to end now."
"I can definitely agree there, Norv. I've found her nice to be around for a while, now." he responds, with a bit of an edge.
"Mhmh.. I'll be sure to keep that in mind, Rabi." i reply, waving you off with a wing and a wink.>>699405
"Oh yes, quite. A shame we've run low on brandy though, but it's for the best. I'd imagine at this rate none of us would make it to bed were we to have another cask!" i nod, sloppily covering my laugh with a wing.
"Ze night iz an old hag. We zhould head to bed."
Zunden responds to Silver, then looking to the party,
"Ozherwize we'll be in bed till noon. We have zhingz to do tommorow."
"Hmph, spoilsport.. Though i suppose you're right, if not in bed soon we'd chat til dawn."
The bite of his words goes completely over my head, and I nod in agreement. "Feel bad for not seeing it before, but hey. We didn't really get a chance to talk, so I guess that's expected.">>699407
I laugh and nod. "Honestly. If there was
more I don't think I'd likely have had a few more drinks, and like anyone I'm reckless and tend to make…" I clear my throat. "Less informed
choices than when I haven't." What I don't mention is that I feel like chances are I'm already beyond that point already. Oh well. What they don't know won't hurt 'em.
I throw my head back and groan. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Still, I feel good, so just going to sleep now feels like it'd be a waste." I glance from Zunden to Silver adn back. "Maybe just move it upstairs and pass out when we feel like passing out? Which, if anyone else feels like me, shouldn't be too
"Zunden's got a point. Besides, I've got a feeling my wallet's going to hurt more than my head tomorrow.">>699409
"W-Wouldn't happen to be willing to take me up on that offer now, by chance?"
"Oh yes, That sounds just fine."
moving off of the seat, i try and fail to stay steady after so many drinks.
Leaning on your chair for support, i look back at you, blushing.
"Now Norvy, i don't suppose you could help me to bed? You haven't forgotten your promise, have you?"
I stand and nod, only a little wobbly on my feet. I might end up looking a little silly, but I'm sure I can make it up the stairs just fine. I flash her a small smile and cock my brow. "Of course I didn't forget. If a man doesn't have his word, what does he have, eh?" Holding out one arm, I move the other to help keep her steady, not hesitating to actually rest it on her shoulder and even lightly pulling her against me. "Shall we?"
Zunden rolls her eyes,
"Zhere are enough roomz for each of uz. I can help Zilver to her room if you'd like to check on your ratz, Norvegicuz."
Zunden says, getting up herself,
"Regardlezz, I'll be going to my room if you two zhink zhiz iz what you want."
Rabi bites his lip a little and sighs, before heading up to his room.
I snicker and am entirely unable to stifle my huge grin. "Oh? 'if this is what you want'? Just what is going through your mind, Zunden? How unbecoming of you to make such assumptions."
"We shall." I reply, leaning on you for support as you lead us upstairs.>>699415
"Why, whatever do you mean, Zunden?" i coyly ask still clearly inebriated.
Zunden sighs, but grins slightly,
"I do not need clairvoyanze to know ze effectz of alcohol. Had to zhoo folkz like zhat out of my commonroom before. If it wazn't zo late, I'd tell you about how a couple of your folk-"
Zunden gestures to Norv,
"-ran out ze door when I zhouted at zhem. Naked and well, ztill very cloze
. Couldn't get it out due-"
she stops herself before she goes into more detail, heading to her room.
"Goodnight, don't do anyzhing ztupid."
blushing fiercely, i nod.
"R-right.. Goodnight Zunden."
I let out a quiet snicker and shake my head. Part of me actually wants
I nod and let out a small giggle when I see her blush. It's cute actually seeing someone like her caught off guard. "Of course." I hold onto you as we both take the party to a more private location.
After an eventful night of carousing, you awake from a deep slumber the next morning feeling exhausted and more than a little hung over. Silver and Norvegicus especially have splitting headaches. You find a note slipped under the door; as with any establishment, the bill has come due eventually. Along with the 105 for the night, the total for the dinner last night comes to 90 bits. Total owed: 195.
After a quick head count, you find that Aurora is now missing. You vaguely recall her having excused herself quietly during last night's events once it got too rowdy for her liking. She has left a note on the dresser: "Back by midday." Violet, on the other hand, has now returned. You notice that she has a fresh cut on the bridge of her nose, although she seems to have cleaned herself . "Sorry about last night," she says. "Got into a spot of trouble over in the Downs, but it's all dealt with now. Nothing to worry about. …You guys really look like crap. What did I miss?"
"I purchazed a hard liquor to take on our journey az antizeptic, and zey managed to drink ze whole cazk by ze end of ze night. "
Zunden says rubbing her temples,
"I zold ze jewerly yezterday afternoon, it could pay for zix more dayz, if we ate nozhing or drank
nozhing more. However, az part of ze deal I alzo managed to get a few unidentified magic artifactz for next to free, 5 in total around 50 bitz. I do want to get zhoze identified and pazz zhem around."
Zunden says, before looking to Violet,
"Were you looking to continue traveling togezher in ze coming dayz? Technically we've done what we were hired to do, but zhat doezn't mean we have to dizapear."
Rabi works his gear back on slowly, taking a bit more time than he probably needs to. He works his way downstairs, and settles in to a seat by Zunden and Violet.
"Eh… drank too much, the night wasn't really the best either. You… look like you had a rough night yourself. I hope things didn't go too bad.">>699424
"Zunden's got a point. What's up for you now?"
barely opening my eyes, i'm blinded by the morning sun, a pounding headache immediately making itself felt. Struggling to avoid the sun, i turn over, bumping into something in the bed.
Cracking open an eye, i look over to Norvegicus' next to me in the bed.
"Nngh.. N-norvy? Why are you-"
recalling events of the night, i panic and fall out of the bed, tangled in the sheets as i notice the scattered bits of armor.
"Wh-what, I.. With you..?"
was as far as i could say before the hangover caught up to me, keeling over as i try to not vomit.
A thick fog settles over my mind as the morning light filters through my eyelids. Before I have a chance to react to anything my head splits in two like I've just been smacked between the eyes with a club. My stomach gurgles, and it takes all I have to keep myself settled. I groan as something bumps into me. Something… Warm?
A distant voice, like it'm listening to it from underwater. Slowly, I crack my eyes to see- Silver? Weird, they've never sent Silver to wake me- bits and pieces of the night before rush back to the back of my mind, and my face pales.
Slowly, I sit up. "Silver, I-" I don't manage to get another word out before letting out a heavy heave. My hand moves to cover my mouth and I dart out of the bed and half crawl, half sprint to the bathroom.
I don't even wait until I've dropped down to let loose, spewing vomit into the toilet. My head throbs harder, and I heave again. This time nothing comes up, and a sharp pain shoots through my chest. I lift my paw to wipe the back of my eyes, then my mouth, and mumble a small, "Morning."
Seeing you run into the bathroom, i follow behind, in a cold sweat as i move you out of the way to upend the remains of last night's salad. A few move heaves and i shakily climb into the bathtub, barely able to turn on the water as i attempt to clean myself.
"..good morning." i quietly reply, dunking my head into the running water.
Once he was done with dinner, Hermodur returned to the room to meditate and sleep. He remained blissfully unaware of the world around him until Violet returns. He opens one eye and looks at her.
"Well, if YOU had trouble, then we should probably go looking for Aurora. I severely doubt she'll be alright on her own."
Hermodur stands up and adjusts his equipment before heading toward the door.
"Who's coming with me?"
Barely caring Norvegicus is in the room, i try to roughly wash the stickiness and sweat off in the bath before trying to wake up properly, letting the water run on my head and mane.
I flush our disgusting waste down the toilet, lean against the side of the tub, groan again. Even the sound of the hissing water seems to hammer at the back of my skull, and I close my eyes and relax for a moment. When Silver is done I turn to splash some water in my face and try to shakily wash up a little.
I close my eyes and lean my head on the side of the shower, waiting for my turn to wash up. "So," I say. "Is 'thanks' the appropriate thing to say in this situation?" Managing to crack a small smile, I let out a quiet chuckle. A chuckle I immediately regret as I double over in pain and bury my face in one of my hands.
"Unbelievable. That explains a lot actually."
"Interesting." She rubs the back of her head. "Where'd you get them from? Do you remember the name of the vendor?">>699425
"It's nothing. Really. I'd be more worried about yourselves.">>699424>>699425
"Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately," she answers. "And I do think it'd be for the best if we stuck together. Safety in numbers, you know?">>699427>>699428
You barely notice Violet looking in disbelief at the two of you. "Sounds like I missed a hell of a party," she remarks. "Maybe for the best.">>699429
Violet looks a bit confused for a moment for some reason, then does a double take. "Right. Yeah. if she's never been here before then we should go look for her. Good idea.">>699430>>699431
You take turns showering to get washed up after the events of the last 12 hours. The hot water runs out fairly quickly, unfortunately, jolting you awake extremely roughly as it runs cold.>>699424>>699425>>699429
At this time of day, the Old Familiar is very quiet. There are no other patrons right now, and even the usual band have packed up their stage. The only ones around apart from yourselves are Chardonnay, who smiles at you in greeting as she sweeps the floor, and the barman, who seems to be talking to the black cat that was making rounds about the inn yesterday.
"So, apart from tracking down Aurora, what's the plan for today?" Violet asks, removing her eyepatch for a while. You see that she also has some bruising around the eye, presumably from having gotten jumped last night. "We heading out of town any time soon? Kind of eager to get back on the road. …Should wait for our friends upstairs though. Sounds like they had it rough."
"For the, ahem, boost in confidence? Perhaps.."
stepping out of the bath, i slowly trudge over to the scattered remains of my armor, making an effort to at least put on the under dress.
"Ooh my head.. It was a pleasant night, to be sure, but i deeply regret the brandy.."
"Apparently, Norvegicus has ordered some weapon that will take a week to finish," Hermodur answers Violet. "We could always come back to pick him up, though."
Hermodur then proceeds to approach Chardonnay. "Excuse me," he says politely. "Have you happened to see where our batpony companion has gotten off to?"
"I had maybe two glazzez, I know Zilver and Norv likely had double zhat. Zhey bedded togezher."
Zunden says, rolling her eyes,
"Gotthard azzumedly, az iz ze name of hiz pawn. I plan to get zhem looked at today."
Zunden says, examining the ship in a battle as she speaks [1d10]
"And I'd be happy to ztick togezher, we've not murdered eachozher in our zleep yet, low chanze of it now."Roll #1 1 = 1
"That'd be great, Violet. I can't speak for the others, but the more the merrier. Now… I suppose we should wait here for Aurora, yeah? I'd want to go out to town and check for a bit of work, but it would be a shame to miss her as she came back.">>699435
Rabi frowns a little at the mention of that, but doesn't say anything.
I cradle my head in the palm of my hand as I step out of the shower. "Yeah. I knew I probably should have stopped myself after one, but-" I give a half-hearted shrug and laugh. After the cold water I've woken up a bit, but I don't imagine I'll be feeling completely better even before the day's over. "'Least it was fun while it lasted. Definitely worse people I can imagine myself waking up violently vomiting in the toilet beside after drowning myself in brandy."
I look over my clothes, debating if I want to put my tattered, worn, dust-covered suit back on, or stick with my desert dress robe thing. I let out a small sigh and slip the robe on. I want desperately just to climb back into bed, but there are things to do. I brush off my robe and try my best to make myself look presentable. "Well," I say. "Guess we should get downstairs."
With my underdress on and straightened out as much as i could, i follow behind Norvy as we head to the dining hall.
Rabi turns to look as he hears the other two come in, before turning back to Violet and Zunden
"The one that was with you guys last night? I think I saw her leave earlier this morning. Don't know where, but she might have gone to the markets.">>699435
She raises her eyebrows in surprise. "Did they now. That explains the puking I guess."
She nods. "Yeah, that's who I thought it'd be. Gonna have to go talk to him later in that case."
The bottled ship just looks like a regular model to you. Nothing really special about it, except for making for an interesting ornament.>>699437
"Or go looking for her. He seems to be keen on doing so." She nods at Hermodur. "Maybe one of us could stay behind and wait for her?">>699439>>699438
You get as well-dressed as possible and crawl downstairs, your heads still feeling like an angry minotaur is trying to bust out. You see Violet and the rest of the gang waiting downstairs; they are just about the only ones around (see the previous post for a full description). Violet raises her eyebrows in greeting, but doesn't say anything for now.
"Maybe… we leave a note on her note? I'd rather us not split up any more, since this town seems a little rough in places."
"Talk to him later? He zhortchange me?"
Zunden asks, raising an eyebrow
I freeze when I see Violet raise her eyebrows and give her a small, awkward wave. "H-hey!" I say. My head throbs, and I squeeze my eyes shut and look away. I stumble over and join everyone, lightly rubbing the bridge of my nose. Speaking softer this time, I continue. "You look pretty rough. You alright?"
I don't bother looking up at everyone else. As it is just the light has me in pain. I can only imagine actually trying to focus
on something for too long. "Were we heading out or something?"
I meet your eyes for a moment, before looking away, ears flattened as i blush.>>699441
"ooh.. Goodmorning, everypony."
stumbling on the last step on the staircase, i take a seat far from Rabi as i try in vain to straighten out my mane with a hoof.
"Violet, i see you made it back.. though quite the worse for wear. Are you alright?"
"I've got nothing better to do," Hermodur shrugs to Violet. "But, yes maybe some people SHOULD stay back in case she does come back. I'll head to the markets to see if I can find her."
With that, Hermodur leaves and heads to the markets.
[1d10] to spot Aurora or some sign of herRoll #1 2 = 2
"It's not so bad. As long as you stay away from the east side of town. That's where things start to get nasty."
"Hm. How about we go out, try and track down Aurora, then come back here before midday if we can't find her? Might be the safest bet. I might just stay behind though, in case she gets back early.">>699443
"Oh no, nothing like that. It's, er, a bit of a private matter. We've met before. Nothing you should be worrying about.">>699444>>699445
"I'm fine. It's you you should be worrying about. You both look like death warmed up."
"And yeah, it looks like we are going out in a moment. He seems keen on going after Aurora." She nods over at Hermodur. "Might be for the best. Wouldn't want her getting in trouble.">>699446
"I'll stay here while you look around," she says, proceeding to do just that.
The markets are also rather quiet this time of day. Most of the stalls now are either fruit stands, second hand weapons or traveling gear, while most of the people around are beggars. No sign of her around yet, although the markets are a fairly large area.
Hermodur retraces the steps he and Aurora took yesterday. If something made her suddenly want to go alone, it must have been something she saw before. Thus, it would be where she went before. And, since he didn't know of any other time she went to the markets, he figured it had to be when he went out with her.
As he walked, he looked around for anything that might have caught her attention. Or just for her.
[1d10] for perceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
"Yes well, several glasses of Brandy will do that to you.." i mutter, head resting on the counter.
"Hmm.. as much as i'd love Breakfast, even if me keeping it down is questionable, i suppose we should
look for her.."
"Morning." he says, after a short pause.>>699447
"Yeah, that could work. As long as everyone else agrees, but I think it'd be the best course."
"Well, I want to go ahead and stop by Hadrian and pay him so I don't accidentally overspend. If Hermodur already went out looking for her, where should we even check?" >>699449
My stomach churns at the mention of food. "Yeah," I agree, groaning. "I can't imagine even being able to swallow right now."
"Very well, I won't pry. Did you want zhat cut healed a bit fazter before I chaze after Hermodur? We were going to get zheze artifactz examined togezher, but lookz like he'z cruzading again."
As you look around, you see a hooded beggar beckoning to you. As you approach cautiously, they throw their hood back, revealing themselves to be Aurora. She's nearly unrecognizable; her hair is messed up and filthy, there's dirt all over her face and body, and her yellow dress has been tucked away in favor of her original blue robe, now torn, stained and ragged. She grins at you, looking around before holding up a large coinpurse. "Look how much I've made so far," she whispers excitedly. "This should be enough to pay for last night I reckon.">>699451
"Markets?" she suggests. "Or Twilight Square. There's a notice board over that way, by the way, if you want to go check it out at some point. It's where people usually advertise jobs they want done.">>699452
She shakes her head. "No, it's fine. Thanks. It'll heal on its own. If you want them identified, go talk to Fumblemore, maybe. He's good at that, on a good day."
Hermodur stares at Aurora with a confused expression for a moment. He opens his mouth to say something several times.
"Why?" is all he finally manages to say.
"I suppose looking for work is a good start.. We'll need some way to pay for all this."
with a sigh, i push off the counter and start heading out the door.
"I don't suppose anypony else would want to look with me? I'm doubtful i can keep track of it all, my mind is in quite the state."
"Alright, I truzt you to keep yourzelf zafe, you're a rational adult. I'm going to chaze after ze kid in a warrior'z body."
Zunden says, tying the lute to her back with some twine,
"At ze very leazt, I can play clean up."
Zunden offers a weary smirk, heading out the door to find the large, suited cat.
She looks amused. "…Because we need the money? Because I wanted some time alone? Because I'm good at it? How do you think I survived before I got exiled? You have to learn to beg if you want to survive in the city. And steal a little, of course. But who cares. Point is, that 200-odd debt we have should be covered by what I've scrounged so far. Might even get more. Some people just can't watch their pockets around here. You'd think they'd have learned by now.">>699456
You head out into the rather quiet market district (see previous post for description). It doesn't take you long to find Hermodur, standing in a nearby alleyway. At first you think he's talking to one of the local beggars, but then you realize it's Aurora in a disguise. She waves hello to you.>>699454>>699456
"Oh, hi Zunden. If you'll excuse me, I'm trying to g-"
She is interrupted by a sudden strangled yell from nearby, coming from somewhere in the marketplace behind you. You hear a crowd start to quickly gather, a low murmur growing into panicked, fearful shouts.
You start heading out towards Twilight Square, passing through the quiet marketplace. As you do so, you hear a sudden shout from nearby. A crowd quickly begins to form around the source; whatever they've found gets them worked up into a panic, as you hear distant yelling and clamoring coming from nearby, along with what sounds like a hideous snarl.
Woken up from my meandering stupor by the commotion, i try to fade into the crowd to see what's going on.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 2 = 2
"I am no thief, and I'd prefer to not benefit from thievery either. Besides, we've made more than enough money to pay for the frivolity of last night. Thank you all the same, but I will not stoop to the level of the scum of this place. And, you shouldn't either. The very fact that people here are not protective of their money is evidence that they are trying to have a civilized society. Thievery is detrimental to that notion."
Hermodur begins to lecture before he realizes what he's doing. He catches himself and says, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be ungrateful. I just wish you wouldn't do this again."
Then, he raises an eyebrow and turns around when he hears the commotion. He gets closer to see what's happening.
"I… I'll come, I suppose. No need to go alone." he says, getting up to follow along.
He tries to keep a low profile, and observes the interaction between Hermodur and… Aurora?>sneak, I guess? [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Seeing you following along, i wave you closer with a wing, looking down.
"Rabi.. About last night, I.."
"I think I'll actually stay back here for now and nurse my splitting headache." I watch as everyone leaves before looking back over at Violet. "So you're sure you're okay? You look like you got jumped last night or something. What time did you even get back?"
"Ah hello Aurora, monk zeeking almz I zee."
Zunden says with a smile, flipping a bit at her.>>699454
"Zhievery impliez it'z taken wizhout conzent. Monkz azk for offeringz and and almz, zhe iz one. Inztead of blaming her, praize zhoze who are zo generouz."
Zunden says, before noticing Hermodur start to move off,
"Zuppoze it'z bezt I follow."
>>699464>"You have to learn to beg if you want to survive in the city. And steal a little, of course."
"She specifically said she also stole."
Rabi slowly works his way closer, and takes a few moments to speak up.
"I don't… why? You didn't seem the sort to just…"
"Ah, well zhen."
Zunden says, turning back to Aurora as she moves away,
"Don't get caught!"
Hermodur just sighs.
You half-consciously blunder into the crowd, knocking into a donkey in the process. He barely notices you, however, as his eyes are fixed on the gruesome scene in front of him.>>699460
"Yeah. I guess you're right. Just trying to make myself useful, you know? If it bothers you that much then I won't. Or at least," she adds with a smirk, "I won't tell you where it comes from. …Joking, of course. But really, I won't do it anymore.">>699461
You see Hermodur and Aurora engaged in conversation. It looks like Aurora's disguised herself as a local beggar in order to acquire more money to pay for the inn. Zunden soon joins them, after which they move away to investigate the disturbance.>>699467>>699468
Aurora nods and gives Hermodur a rather smug look before going to see waht the commotion's about.>>699463
She does a double take before she realizes you're talking to her. "I said I'm fine. Don't worry about me, I just got jumped is all. I'll heal. Got back fairly late, about midnight I want to say."
"Say, did you really hook up with whatshername? That's… certainly something.">>699459>>699460>>699461>>699464
As you approach the crowd, you see a stomach-turning sight. A hideous two-headed creature is squatting over the ravaged body of a saurian merchant. Its hide is black and rubbery, with dark red streaks and a grey underbelly. It has no visible eyes, pronounced talons on each of its four limbs, and a long, powerful tail that thrashes about as it hisses wildly at a trio of frightened guards which are jabbing at it with their spears. The monster is huge, about the size of an average pony at full height.
As the guards approach it, the beast suddenly spits what looks like acid at them before jumping away, crawling up the side of a nearby building and bouncing across the rooftops with startling speed. A couple of guards take flight and start trying to chase it down, to little effect, while the others start dispersing the crowd and investigating the body. "We'll handle it from here," one of them barks at you. "Move along, citizens." "Third one this month," you hear one of them mutter.
"Feel free to beg if you want," Hermodur says distractedly. "If you don't mind demeaning yourself, then by all means. But, I feel as if we can stand to gain more from more legitimate means."
"Speaking of making money…" Hermodur mutters as the creature leaves. He walks up to a guard to introduce himself.
"Sounds like you could use some extra help," he says confidently.
I blush and glance away, unable to maintain eye contact. "Y-yeah. I suppose I did. It's-" I clear my throat. "It was-" I fight for the words, but nothing seems to be coming to me. I rest my hands in my lap and my ears fold back. "We were both drinking a bit, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Sorry." I'm not really entirely sure why I just apologized, but it's too late to take it back now. I manage to lift my eyes back to hers to gauge her reaction.
Zunden flips open her pokedex bestiary.
"I.. When i opened up to you on our walk.. to the possibility of being together.. It felt as if you brushed me off, telling me that it was 'noted'." i begin, the words slowly pouring out.
"I was truly hurt; all this time spent together and.. and the only answer i had was that you heard me.. I had too much to drink, I was petty and Norvegicus was lovely to talk to.. in my inebriation i wanted to hurt you for spurning my want to be with you."
i continue, teary-eyed "Afterwards, i realized what i had done and.. I won't ask that you forgive me, You may feel free to hate me for what i've done, but i ask that you understand why i made the choices i did." i look away, tears streaming as i finish.
"I, uh… I-I didn't intend that to come off like that. I was just, well… nervous. I blurted something out, and I should have realized how bad it sounded after I said it." he says, taking a chance to sigh before continuing with "I-It definitely, hurt, I'm not going to lie… But, I don't really think I can hold it against you, or Norv… much, at least. I really do care about you, a lot."
He takes a deep breath to try and collect himself a little more, before saying "I guess the better way to put it is… as long as you don't do something like this again, I-I'd really like a chance to, well… give it a shot.">>699469
He flicks his ears a little as they draw close enough to hear the muttering, and winces at the sight of the monster. "Third one this month? We might want to look into that some."
The guard, presumably a higher ranking one judging from the badge (admittedly a rather rusty and battered one), simply nods to you. "You must be new here, drifter. There's a bounty out on that monster if you're any good at hunting. No idea where it came from, but we need it dead.">>699471
She doesn't look offended or angry to you, more vaguely interested and even distant right now. "Hm. Well, I'm not sure why you feel the need to apologize. You do what you want.">>699472
The bestiary sheds little light on the situation, save for revealing more about the Beast's nature. It appears to be a member of a species of similar creatures called balaur.
>BEAST OF BRAILDORN
>Threat level: Very high
>A terrible monster plaguing the citizens of Braildorn. The Beast appears to be a particularly large and ferocious variant of the intelligent predators known as balaur, which inhabit the northern ranges of the Echoes. Its origin and current whereabouts are as of yet unknown.
>[Most of the page is left blank, to be revealed once more is known about the Beast.]
Zunden taps Hermodur's shoulders,
"Perhapz we get zheze artifactz identified firzt, in caze zey help in ze zlaying of zuch a beazt. Zhen
we do zomething."
"A bounty, you say?" Hermodur smirks. "Fantastic. It'll be dead within the week.">>699476
"Good idea. I'd still like to know what this dreamcatcher does."
"Now, where is our exterminator?" Hermodur asks, looking for Norv.
"I don't zhink he left, why?"
"For the extermination of the pest problem, obviously."
Pausing in my sobbing, i finish listening and dry my eyes with a wing.
"..Y-you'd really forgive me? after the hurt i put you through?"
eyes welling up again, i wrap my wings around you in a hug, sobbing into your chest.
"th-thank you, Rabi! I promise i'll be true to you, i swear it on my name!" i say, words muffled by your fur.
"Bit bigger zhan hiz normal jobz."
I glance back down at my lap. "R-right," I stammer. "I suppose so…" I clear my throat again. Suddenly my collar feels really tight. That has to be from the hangover, right? My head throbs, and I lean on the table, burying my face in my hands. After it eases a bit, I continue talking.
"So, uh… You're going to be sticking around with us for a bit, then? I'm glad to hear that. Any plans in particular, or…" I trail off.
Hermodur notices Silver and Rabi embracing. He looks at them with a puzzled look. "Is THIS a thing now?" he asks with a combination of amusement and annoyance.>>699481
"A test of his skills, then."
He raises his eyebrows. "That's… quite a bold claim, drifter. But alright. Good luck." As he trots off to give orders to some of his men, you hear him snicker slightly.>>699482
"Not at the moment, no. I have a few stops I have to make here first, but other than that I'll just stick with whatever you want to do. What about you? Planning on going anywhere in the next week or so? You have that project for Hadrian coming up, right?">>699483
"…Now?" Aurora parrots incredulously. "You mean you didn't notice it before? I thought Vi was meant to be the half-blind one."
"You're often too buzy getting neck deep in trouble to notize."
Zunden says to Hermodur as he turns his head to look at the two as well.
"It's true. I have been… distracted…" Hermodur trails off.
Then, he suddenly claps his hands. "Well, someone lead the way to this wizard.
"H-Hey now, no need to cry. I'll do the same for you, alright? I swear." he says, stroking at her mane a little bit as he hugs her into his chest. He holds her there for a few silent moments, before becoming aware that they're still in public.>>699483>>699485>>699475
Rabi coughs awkwardly, and looks around to the others, before asking "D-Don't suppose you think this might be worth looking into? We could always use a bit more money, and there might be a reward in it."
"Your relationship or the monster?" Hermodur asks with a deadpan expression.
"Yeah, he said it'd take him a week. Getting myself a poison sprayer. Something I'm actually familiar with. I was thinking about maybe looking around for a couple of jobs in the meantime." I study the table, debating on how silly it would be to continue. "I also have a couple of dumber ideas, I guess. Probably just wishful thinking on my part, though. After last night-" I pause, and rush to clarify. "I was doing some thinking last night, and was talking with everyone. I feel like I've been too passive, y'know? That if anyone is the one to take action it's pretty much never me." I chuckle and shake my head. "And I call myself a gambler when at the first sign of risk I fold."
Smooth. More poker analogies. That's not corny. "So," I continue. "I've decided I'm going to act on what I want and what I think is right from now on. No more sitting on the sidelines and just watching. That was stupid and cowardly, and if I'm going to be a hero I can't be a coward."
I drop my eyes back down to my lap. "And maybe I should start keeping my dumb little speeches under control," I say, letting out an awkward chuckle.
wiping my eyes with my wing again, i nod, smiling.
"R-right. The wizard's tower has an entrance in the market, we'll just need to find the portal pillar floating there. It's quite difficult to miss."
Breaking away, i nod.
clearing my throat, i adjust my underdress and take a look at the monster cleanup.
"Ooh, a grizzly sight, but i suppose we could take a look for an offer. Something like that would be quite the bounty.."
"Apparently, there's a big bounty," Hermodur explains. "Which is why we want to head to the wizard first. To see if our new trinkets will be useful in our hunt."
She just blinks, looking rather dumbfounded. "Um. Okay then. I meant more if you have any jobs in particular you want to pursue, or something like that. Again, I'd recommend checking out the billboard, once everyone gets back. Might have something worth looking for."
"Oh very well then. I believe the pillar was this way.." i trail off, looking around for the signs to the market.>>699493>>699487>>699485
Waiting for the crowd to disperse, i pick my way through towards the market, gesturing for the others to follow.
"Yeah, we actually went and saw the wizard earlier, we can take you right to him. The sooner the better too… but, he's a little strange, and hard of hearing, so be aware."
Hermodur snickers impishly. "Is that really the only reaction I'm going to get for that?"
Aurora quietly excuses herself, as she often does, and goes back to her business begging for money.
Silver leads the way onwards out of the main section of the marketplace, where guards are quickly coming out of the woodwork to clean up the area and stop bystanders from lingering. You make your way through a small section of narrow paths until you get to the glittering crystal spire.
As you all touch it, you feel an uncomfortable tingling sensation as you adjust to your immediate new surroundings on the front porch of Fumblemore's house. This time, you don't even have to knock before Fumblemore answers the door, having seen you arrive through one of the windows. He is a beige, balding earth pony with a goatee, wearing a green overcoat and a matching bowler hat, along with a pair of small round glasses. "Hello!" he says cheerfully. "How can I help you? Good to see you again, by the way," he adds as an aside to Rabi and Silver. "I hope you're doing well."
"Hello," Hermodur says loudly, since someone said he's hard of hearing. "We have a few items we'd like you to appraise for us. Such as this," he says as he takes out the dreamcatcher and presents it to Fumblemore.
"Yes, hello Fumblemore." i say, raising my voice slightly.
"We've a few more items to look at, if you have the time."
My face flushes, and my heart skips. Right. That was stupid. My stomach tightens, and it feels like the world has dropped out from under my feet. "Y-yeah," I say. "I suppose that's something I should do." I chuckle again and rub the back of my neck. "Just thinking out loud, I guess. Sorry."
She's mad at me. She has to be. It's because of last night? She didn't seem that upset by it, but was she always this rude?
After a moment of awkward silence, I continue. "So your eye looks really good," I say. "I think the deep violet color of your other eye is prettier, but it still looks good. How's it doing?"
"Hello to you, mizter. What ze cat zaid, I have a multitude of trinketz zhat need zomeone wizh a penchant for enchantz."
He takes the dreamcatcher and examines it with a furrowed brow. "Hmm. There's definitely some old magic in this. I can see more, but it's multiple items I'll have to put a price on it. 25 bits per item is what I normally charge.">>699500
She looks confused. "Huh? Oh right, the eye. The eye is just fine. Can see a lot better now. Or at least I could until last night." She touches the side of her head gingerly, indicating the bruising forcing her to keep her eye a little closed.
Rabi tries for a good response, but can only manage a mumbled whinny.>>699497
"Fumblemore, hello again! Our friend here was interested in talking with you."
"A perfectly acceptable price," Hermodur responds.
"Heh, right." I rub my shoulder, studying the room. "Oh! I just remembered I wanted to ask you something. Remember that spider from before? You know a little bit about them, or where I might find out more? I tried to at least get him acclimated to being around me, but that'll probably take some time. It could be nice to look into it and actually start preparing it before I start properly training Webster."
"Quite alright, though i'm not the one in need of appraisal, that would be the others."
"And thank you again for helping us with the sword.. It may not have been the answer we were looking for, but at least we know what we're dealing with."
"Well, I have a multitude of knick knackz. Ze dreamcatcher, zhiz fancy lute I have a full intention on learning how to play-"
Zunden turns around to display the lute on her back,
Zunden says, digging around in her bag of holding, pulling out the amulet, bottled ship, and the signet ring.
"-zhiz bottled zhip, and ze ring. To be honezt, I do not believe ze ring to be enchanted. Iz zhere a charge if it izn't?"
"Yeah. Narrowing our scope, day by day."
"It's my pleasure, my dear lady!">>699503>>699504>>699506>>699507
"Right then!" He stands by to let you in.
The inside of Fumblemore's house is surprisingly ordinary for a reclusive wizard. You can see that he is very fond of books, judging from the many shelves you see on the way in. The only indication of any sort of magical experimentation here is a faint smell of sulfur.
He leads you into his study, a fairly orderly room with several scrolls on the desk, and starts examining the items. He does so by tinkering with them, often placing his hooves on them and muttering, or sometimes taking out strange little tools and tampering with them.
"Hmm. Well, the dreamcatcher seems fairly easy to pinpoint… It has a protective ward on it. Against mental attacks, it seems. It's a very old form of magic, but still quite potent, especially when the wielder is asleep and therefore vulnerable. Quite useful for warding off intrusive thoughts or probes, I imagine…"
"As for the lute… Hm… It's definitely tied to astral cycles. That much is clear. The magic seems to grow stronger when played. Perhaps a sufficiently adept musician could cast enchantments from it? Truth be told, this one is vexing me a little. I could discern more, but it would take me a while. If you're willing to part with it for a while, I could work on this one more overnight?"
"As for the amulet, well, this one's easy. A simple warding enchantment, designed to counteract darkness… No wait, lightning! Yes, of course. It will provide you with some resistance to lightning magic when worn. A fairly ordinary enchantment. Quite common among spellswords, actually."
"Now, what else have we here…"
"Oho. This ship is quite a find. …QUITE a find, actually. My goodness, that's incredible. What an incredibly rare find!" he exclaims. "My goodness! This ship is fully functional! How it was shrunk down and fit into a bottle is beyond me, but I would theorize that breaking the bottle will release it. You take good care of it, you hear? If you were to drop it, I shudder to think what would happen."
"And finally, the ring. A fairly ordinary find, I'm afraid. It has some form of lingering enchantment, though, but only vestiges of something perhaps once powerful. I could try researching that signet, though. It is quite peculiar. I might have something to help track it to its source. If you would lend it to me overnight, I could find more. Perhaps.">>699505
She frowns. "Spiders? You mean fighting spiders? Not really an expert on those. Sorry. I think they have rings for them over in the Downs, but I don't go there."
I study her for a moment. Why does it seem like we haven't talked about this before? Am I losing my mind? "Huh. Yeah. Incidentally I was thinking of heading up there some time today. Probably in a little bit, actually, now that I'm starting to feel a little better." My head still aches, and talking too loud makes it throb even more. Too much jostling and I feel like I might vomit. Other than that I really am starting to feel a bit better.
"Mhm. Well, I hope you feel better soon. You and our mutual friend. Although I suppose you're more than just friends now, aren't you." She snickers a little, then pulls out her diary and starts going through it.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
It takes you a while to catch on, but you eventually notice something a little strange. She isn't actually writing anything in her diary, she's just going back through older entries and rereading them. She looks up at you for a moment, then goes back to reading. "…Don't give me that look. It helps sometimes to go back and reflect on the past. Don't you think?"
I cock my eyebrow. Something about this whole conversation has made me incredibly uncomfortable, and now I don't feel like it's just because of the awkward position I put myself in. >>699513
As if everything else wasn't weird enough, I don't think I've ever seen her actually read back through her journal before. I swallow and stare at her for a moment. Didn't Violet say something before about not
dwelling on the past? I could be remembering wrong, but I seem to remember her keeping her eyes on what's ahead. It's one of the things I admire about her.
"Me and our… Mutual friend? Judging by context I can only assume you mean Aurora, right?"
"Yes, of course," she answers somewhat dismissively, not bothering to look up at you as she keeps reading.
A twinge runs through me. That's something, but not quite enough. I chuckle. "Yeah," I say. "I guess so. Funny how things work out, huh?" I snap my fingers. "Oh! One more thing before I leave. You said you'd hang onto my money for me while we were here in Braildorn, since I'm… Well, you know. Not that strong. Think you can come up to my room with me so I can hand it of to you to hang onto before I head out?"
She looks annoyed for a brief moment, but then she nods as she puts the journal away. "Sure. Don't see why not." She follows you upstairs back to the party's room, looking around curiously and closing the door behind her.
I walk over to my stuff and kneel down to my cage. "I really appreciate this," I say, discreetly resting my hand on top of my cage. I try to channel energy into it in hopes of summoning two rats. With my other hand I dig around in my bag and pull out my bag of 100 bits I got from selling the goblet.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
You try to summon a couple of rats, but they either can't or won't come out right now. Violet holds out her hoof expectantly.
I pretend to fumble around a little bit, 'accidentally' knocking over my trapping tools. "Shoot. Sorry. Give me just a second to-" I sit it back up, but make sure the rope inside is easily accessible. "Ah. Here they are. Sorry. Clumsy idiot Norv, haha." I stand up and turn around, moving to drop the bag in her hoof. While she's preoccupied with grabbing the bits, I reel back my fist and suckerpunch her in the face.
You deck Violet with a single blow as she's distracted by your ruse. With a grunt of pain, she falls to the floor with an audible thump. As she does so, her body shimmers and changes, her facial features melting away and reforming into something else entirely. Before you know it, "Violet" has transformed into a scrawny, metallic blue Changeling, struggling to get away and grabbing at Violet's weapon.
[1d10] RecoverRoll #1 3 = 3
I quickly snatch the rope from my trapper's kit and pounce on the changeling, preparing to tie it up.
"Hah! I knew you weren't Violet!" I shout. I fumble with the rope a little as I try to wrap it around its arms.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
With an angry snarl, he manages to kick away from you, grabbing her sword and journal. He doesn't stop to fight, however, as he barges out the door and starts running off down the stairs, heading to the exit. The sudden commotion startles the dormant cat, who makes a bolt for it. Chardonnay drops her broom in surprise, stepping out of the way.
Drool pools at the edges of my jowls as my lips pull back into a snarl. I let out a low growl and drop down to run full sprint at him before he has a chance to get away.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
You run down the stairs at full speed, pouncing at him before he can get away. You manage to grab him by the coat, seinding him toppling into a nearby table. The changeling growls and kicks and flails as he tries to get back up. "Gerroffme!"
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
He kicks you square in the face as he rights himself, throwing down some chairs in your path as he barrels out the door. He's heading for the market district.
I reel back and snarl again, baring my teeth. I can't let him get away. If he gets away- I take off at maximum speed, pushing my body as hard as I can manage. I try to hurdle the chairs and move fast enough to catch up, even if it's only barely.
Roll #1 6 = 6
You break into a full sprint, leaping over the chairs as you run as fast as you can muster. You almost run straight into a fez-wearing Dog hauling a cart of cabbages, but keep going, almost neck and neck with the impostor.
Looking behind him and seeing you're still in hot pursuit, the changeling stops dead in his tracks and wheels around, lashing out with Violet's sword at you.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
The sudden blow catches you off guard, slicing deep into your shoulder, much to the shock of passersby. You are toppled over by the rapid swing, giving him time to keep getting away. You see a flash of green magic as he moves into the crowd near the marketplace, but you should still be able to identify him by the grey coat.
At the sudden commotion, a few bystanders start gathering around you curiously. A nearby guard helps you back up, casting a quick healing spell on you before taking off into the crowd, looking for the perp himself.
I grab my arm and howl in pain as I fall. Not giving myself enough time to dwell on the pain, I force myself to my feet and continue after him. I nod and mumble a quick 'thank you' to the guard, but not enough to let myself get distracted. Frantically looking around, I try to spot him.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You can't see him, but you can definitely hear him breathing heavily, exhausted from the effort. Following your ears, you track him down easily; he's disguised himself as a snakelike saurian. Spotting you, he hisses in annoyance and changes back, much to the surprise of those nearby, and starts making a run for it again, albeit hindered by the crowd around him. He seems to be trying to get to an open area so he can fly off.
I'm losing him. I'm losing my chance. My blood boils, and I howl in rage. I get the feeling that if I don't stop him now, I won't be able to. My lungs burn and my legs feel like they've turned to mush, but I press on.
[1d10] ChaseRoll #1 5 = 5
You manage to catch up to him just as he breaks out of the crowd and into a small plaza; he's about to take flight when you grab on to the coat, bringing him back down to the ground, if only for a moment. "Help! Thief! Get him!" he shouts as he swings at you in an uppercut. You see a few guards on the other side of the plaza take notice, coming over to break up the fight.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
You instinctively sidestep the swing and counter it by giving him a bare knuckle punch right in the throat. He makes a hideous strangled sound and slumps to the ground, kicking away from you and glaring daggers, futilely trying to recover from the blow. The two guards, both identical beady-eyed Dogs distinguishable only by their mustaches, walks over to the two of you sternly. "What's all this then?"
I shake my aching hand and take a step back. Man, those things have hard skin. "He stole something from me," I say. "A couple of somethings." I look up at the guards. "This is a personal dispute, though, so I don't suppose I can handle this personally?" I furrow my brow, and mimic my sympathetic face as best I can. "I know how tough things can be, so I'd rather just get my things back and talk to him without causing me, him, or you any undue effort."
[1d10]improvise;diplomacyRoll #1 5 = 5
The two exchange a suspicious glance. One of them harrumphs. "Alright, fine. Getting close to break time anyway. But we've got our eye on you, drifter. So watch yourself." "To be precise," the other one adds, "we're watching you." With that, the duo return to their posts.
The changeling struggles again, but is too exhausted to get away. He just glares at you, refusing to say a word.
I kneel next to him and whisper "Play along or I will
hand you over to the guards." Dropping one large paw on the back of his neck, I proceed to lead him back to the tavern and, if he listens to me, back up to my room.
He only smirks at you as he decides to play along for now, letting you lead him back upstairs. Chardonnay looks alarmed to see you with a changeling, but knows better than to ask questions.
There is an uncomfortable silence as you get back to the room. He just stares at you for a while. "Aren't you going to tie me up?" he says mockingly. "I could escape whenever I want at this rate."
A chill runs through my whole body as I lock the door behind me. "You know," I say. "What I said out there… About people having it hard, and me understanding what it's like needing to do what it takes to get by… Under normal circumstances that would have been true."
I wind the rope between my hands, take a deep breath, close my eyes, and exhale. Turning around to face the changeling, I move to tie him up. "Now," I say. "I'm going to try to make this easy and painless. I'll just ask. What did you do with Violet, and why?"
You are met with stony silence as he just keeps staring at you. Every so often his eyes dart around the room, observing every little detail. It almost feels as if he's taunting you, trying to dare you to do something harsh.
I walk over to my cage and pick it up, moving it back in front of him. Sitting down in front of him, I close my eyes and think. Resting my hands on the cage, I attempt to summon a rat. "So what you're telling me," I say. "Is that I could have gotten more by just giving you up to the guards instead of giving you a chance to go free? Is that what you're saying"
[1d10]ImproviseRoll #1 3 = 3
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You manage to summon a rat. It pokes out and starts sniffing about curiously. The prisoner stares at it with a smirk. "…So what happens now?" he asks dryly. "How long are you going to keep me here? Turn me over to the guards for all I care. I'd be out of jail in a week, if that. You can't make me sing. I'm no snitch."
I tap my finger on the top of the cage and think for a moment. After a bit, I finally say "12 tons." I hold my hand out to let my rat climb onto it, sit down on top of my cage, and set it on my lap. Slowly, I start stroking her fur. "12 tons per square inch is the bite force rats can exert with their teeth. I don't know if you've ever seen a rat's teeth up close, but they're small. Tiny, dagger-like scissors." I let out a mirthless chuckle and shake my head. "I've worked on houses where they chewed holes straight through brick and into the home. Where they've destroyed sewage lines by chewing into lead pipes. It's amazing what they're capable of. By comparison I'm not sure what your carapace can withstand, but judging by the fact that I was able to take you down by punching you in the throat, my guess would be 'not as much as a lead pipe.' I get it. You're some kind of thief. You work with some other people, which I can glean from the fact that you said you weren't a snitch. Now, let me tell you what I do. Let me tell you the job that I've trained years for, and I'm actually pretty good at. I'm an exterminator. Do you know what that means?" I scoot closer, and give the rat a place on my shoulder. "That means I kill bugs for a living. So I'm going to ask you one more time. Where is Violet, and why have you taken her?"
[1d10] intimidationRoll #1 3 = 3
At first he seems amused, but as you keep talking you see his grin slowly dropping. By the end he's trying to keep his mocking facade up, but is clearly more than a little unnerved by the thought of being eaten by rats.
"…Fine. You want her so badly, go get her. I don't know who she is or why they want her, but the Tiger Clan have her. I'm guessing she's crossed 'em before. She's being held at the Sultry Scullion bordello over in Daltry. Whole thing's a front for the Swain family, and the Swains run the Clan. Hope you know what you're doing drifter, cause you go stirring up trouble with the Tiger Clan they're gonna kill you. They run this whole town. Hell, if I don't go and report to them by tonight they're gonna figure something happened to me. They'll come here, they'll come for you, and your friends."
"Now, you let me go, I won't sing. But you go knocking on doors asking about your dearly beloved, you're gonna get in way over your head. So do yourself a favor and stay out of it."
"And let me go for Celestiassake. These ropes are starting to chafe something awful."
I glare at him for a moment, thinking. What if he's lying? If he's lying, then letting him go would mean the end of the trail leading to Violet. But if he isn't, then there really will be someone suspicious that he's gone. I pinch the bridge of my nose. My money is on this guy being on the bottom rung, so he's probably telling the truth. I stand up, hold my hand out, and click my tongue. The rat jumps from my shoulder to my hand, and I slip her back into her cage.
"You're lucky, scumbag," I say. "My friends are going to be back soon, and they aren't quite as-" I clear my throat. "Morally ambiguous
as I am. So to avoid trouble I'd either have to kill you or let you go. Killing you was on the table before, but if you're telling the truth then it's too much hassle now."
I lean in right up to his face and bare my teeth. "But if you're lying to me, or you warn whoever your boss is and I find out then I will
find you. I will
abduct you. And I will
feed you to a screeching, chittering horde of rats. Is that understood?"
I unlock the door, untie him, and let him go.
He seems to regain his composure as you untie him, giving you another smug grin. "Whatever you say, boss," is all he has to say to you before doing a mocking sort of bow and flying off. Chardonnay watches him leave for a while, then just shrugs and starts sweeping up some broken glass from your altercation earlier.
I shut the door behind him, drop to my knees, and heave a massive sigh of relief. My hands and legs tremble, and my stomach churns, threatening to force me into another dry-heaving fit. I did that. I actually just did that, and it worked. I laugh and stand back up, moving to the bed and collapsing. Now all that's left to do is take down an entire secret society organization thing that runs the whole city and save Violet. I'll have to let everyone know what happened when they get back.
Without much to show this time, i watch the proceedings with some interest as items are revealed, though largely keep to myself.
"Quite the interesting haul, Zunden! I'd never expect an entire ship
could be compressed into a bottle."
"Well, if no one else wants to dreamcatcher, then I'd like to have it," Hermodur says, sounding a bit disappointed all the same. "Either that or Zunden. Those are the two for whom it would be most disastrous for all of us if their minds were taken. Of course, if there's anyone here who often deals with mind magic, I suppose they can take it instead."
"I have some tests I wish to run on it anyway."https://pastebin.com/pRCfn65w
"Hrm… I'm not much of a musician, but if we can figure out what's up with it, I'd like a chance at trying it out. You really did find a great haul Zunden, good job."
Zunden nods along as he talks about the enchantments,
"Zo ze amulet iz, what, az effective az a pair of rubber bootz? Or doez it zimply prevent ze zhock in ze firzt plaze."
She raises an eyebrow at description of the lute,
"Well zhat iz… vague, and unfortunately I'm no exzpert in playing it. I zuppoze you could hang onto it, I'd juzt end up practizing wizh it tonight ozherwize."
She smiles wide when she hears about the boat,
"Yez, I waz hoping it'd be zomezhing of utility like zhat. I wonder if it haz a tiny little name in zhere, or if I have to zhink of one now."
when it comes to the ring she shrugs,
"Again, I didn't zhink it'd have an enchantment in ze firzt plaze, it'z a key. I wouldn't zhink ze rezearching to be your profezzion, but if you're willing to, go ahead.">>699652
"Yez, it would be dizaztrouz if you lozt your mind, Hermodur,"
"You are welcome to have it.">>699651
"I zhought ze zame zhing, zhat iz why I purchazed it. Clearly it muzt have been zome zort of magic zhat got it in zhere, zo I figured it was a good buy."
"I AM also concerned for you, though."
"Yeah, Zunden. You're the axle on our cart." he says, giving her a warm smile "We'd be pretty done for without you, friend."
"Quite true, I must admit it's comforting to have somepony more grounded traveling with us."
"I agree!" says Fumblemore excitedly. "In all my years I've never seen a thing like this. As far as I know, it is one of a kind!">>699654
He looks a bit taken aback. "Well… When you put it that way, I suppose it would be about as effective. Even so, it is a powerful enchantment. Situational, but powerful."
"Oh, I have plenty of old history books. They were gracious enough to let me hold on to them in exile. I'm sure I can find something noteworthy.">>699651>>699652>>699653>>699654
With your business concluded, you leave the lute and the ring in Fumblemore's care and pay him his dues. It ends up cutting into your wallet a little, but it's a fine price to pay for knowing what you carry.>-125 bits>Shockbite Amulet; passive; -2 hits taken from Lightning elemental attacks>Dreamcatcher; passive; +2 to rolls to resist mental attacks
After bidding Fumblemore farewell for now, you use a nearby magical focus point on his front porch to teleport back to the marketplace, and steadily make your way back to the Old Familiar. You have to go the long way round, as much of it has been blocked off by guards in the wake of the Beast's attack earlier, but you get back in due time. As you head back upstairs to your dorms, you see Norv sitting about, clearly still hung over, and looking more than a little harrowed. Violet is nowhere to be seen.
"Ah, there you are, Norvegicus," Hermodur says as he dramatically barges into the room. "Good news! We have exterminating to do!"
I cradle my forehead in one of my hands. Expected the damn headache to go away by now, but now that the adrenyline has died down it seems like it's back to taunt me for my mistakes again. A part of me just wants to lie back down and get some actual rest for a while.
I look up as Hermodur bursts through the door. "Yes, I suppose you finding me a job would be good news." I drop my hand back into m lap and knit my brow. "Normally, anyway. Is everyone back?"
Making my way into the room, i stop in my tracks when noticing the hungover dog.
"My word, Norvy, you look worse off than when we left! Are you alright?"
Rabi gives Norv a curious look, and asks "Did you… eat something bad, man? Looks pretty bad for a hangover."
"Well, more a job for all of us. A big reward for the one who kills the beast. And, plenty of clout around here too, I'm sure."
"I zuppoze zo, and lezz unwieldy zhan zhat of ze kindz of rubber bootz.">>699655>>699656>>699657
"Pleaze, you are all too kind. I am juzt a card reader wizh zome healing magic, it iz not like I could fight off ze creaturez of ze land by myzelf.">>699657
Zunden turns to add to Silver, holding up the braclet with a wide grin,
"Zhough I zuppoze I'm even more grounded now.""
Zunden imediately moves to Norv, looking over his wounds,
"Norvegicuz, who did zhiz to you? Are you alright?"
"Let me patch you up, okay?"
Oh. Yeah. Another monster. Not sure why I expected anything less. "Yeah, that's something to think about in a while, but right now we have a problem.">>699662>>699661
"Violet is gone," I say. "I was suspicious of the 'Violet' that was with you guys when we-" My eyes inadvertently meet Silver's and I clear my throat and glance away. "When I came downstairs this morning. I just chalked it up to the hangover and her being annoyed at me, but especially after you guys left she didn't seem like she was herself." I look back at the group. "Because she wasn't. It was a changeling. I managed to… subdue
him and wring out where Violet actually
is, but I'm not really sure how much it helps us.">>699664
I give a quick, dismissive wave, but internally I'm happy she seems to care that much. "I'm mostly fine. You should see the other guy. Thanks, though."
Rabi can't stop a snicker from coming out.>>699665
"A changeling? Well, this is pretty bad. Why wouldn't knowing where she is help?"
"The healer is arguably the most important part of any group," Hermodur states matter -of-factly.>>699665
"Where?" Hermodur asks in a business-like tone.
"Oh my, a changeling
? And Violet is still missing?"
"Goodness, we were all so sure she would be alright, spending our night drinking while she was still very much in danger.. Just where
is she, Norvy?"
I sigh. "Some place called the "Sultry Scallion", or something. She was abducted by some guys called the 'Tiger Clan', if any of you know who they are. According to the guy they basically run the town, with the 'Swain' family running them. He didn't say why they took her. Just that they had her."
"You did well," Hermodur says with a nod. Then, he turns and leaves the room.
He heads downstairs and looks for Chardonay.
"It goez to zhow how little I really know about Violet, I bruzhed off the mood az related to our actionz lazt night az well. Can't trick Norv zhough."
She smiles, though still with knit brows, focusing on both the Violet conundrum and
"I zhould've bought bandagez at ze market zhough. I wonder, Violet
zaid zhey needed to zpeak to ze pawnbroker later, I wonder if zhat iz a clue."
You find her petting the black cat that frequents the place. It gives you an unbelievably smug look, then walks away haughtily. Chardonnay hastily brushes off the stray hairs on the bar. "Oh. Hello again. how can I help?"
I lift my hand to stop him. "Wait, I'm not sure we should just-" He's gone before I finish. I let it drop back to my lap and sigh. I feel like that's what I should be doing, but it's going to get us killed.>>699671
"Yeah, that's definitely a thought." I think back for a moment. "I don't know if it means anything, but he was going through Violet's journal. Maybe there's something there, too."
"I'm not one to pry, but it iz
her life on ze line."
The cat reminds Hermodur of a certain Griffon, he can't help but glare at it for a moment.
Then, he looks back to Chardonay. "Where is the Sultry Scallion, and what kind of place is it?" he asks in a grim tone.
"Good work on finding that out. I'm not sure how to go about this, but… we can't just leave her behind, yeah?"
"II'd hate to make assumptions, but I might be the one here who knows her best, so I should probably be the one to flip through it." I glance back down at my lap, my mind instantly flashing back to her stabbing a spear through that guy's stomach. "At least I've talked to her a whole lot, anyway.">>699676
I glare up at you with determination. "There's now way I'm leaving her behind. She didn't leave us for dead and she didn't even know us. Turning our backs on her now would be-" I fight for the words. It'd be a lot of things, and there's no way I'd do it. Not now. "It'd be evil, selfish, and cowardly."
"Hmm.. an entire clan of thugs? This may take more than simply barging in, doubtless a crime family could muster quite the defense."
"You've done quite well in finding the truth, Norvy, it seems that all the talk of taking risks paid off." i add, winking at you as i make my way back downstairs.
"We'll need your help with this, if you're feeling up to it. Time is of the essence, I've no doubt she'll be in quite the state after a day of capture."
She flinches a bit at the mention of the name. "Hm. That's over in the Daltry district. I've never been to it, but I know the Scullion is a bordello. And not a very reputable one at that. Awful place really. I'd stay away if I were you."
"What exactly are crime families like? I don't have much experience with anything aside from fences." he asks, with a little bit of a frown.>>699677
"Good attitude. If you're feeling up to it, we can all go."
I stand up and try to find where Violet's journal and weapon went after I brought the changeling back. If we're going to mount a rescue mission I should probably bring that with us too. A small blush blooms across my cheeks and I rub the back of my neck. "Hah, thanks. I think it was a combination of that and the general situation." My smile falls and my face turns more serious. "You're right though. I feel like just busting in would be suicide, as tempted as I am to try. Goddess knows what they're planning to do to her if we take too long." I shudder. "Or what they're doing
to her. I'll see what I can figure out."
"Zhat iz fair, I often woke up to ze zound of you two talking while traveling, you know her better zhan I atleazt."
"Think of them as.. a well organized gang, with a specialty in familial ties." i begin after a moment of thought.
"Well organized, heavily armed and typically in control of a given city's guards.. So it would appear we'll have quite the struggle should we choose to fight head on."
"I might trust that if we were all slabs of meat like Hermodur, or all as skilled as Silver, but we're not." Especially not me, but I don't add that part. "So in spite of what Hermodur seems to be thinking, I think we should collect some information before mounting an attack. I assume we're all in agreement on that?"
"Easy enough to find then?" Hermodur says with a nod. "Thank you."
Hermodur then heads back upstairs.>>699684>>699683>>699682>>699680
Hermodur marches back into the room briefly to say, "I'm doing some scouting," then, he heads back out.
>To the Sultry Scallion
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"I should hope so. These thugs will be a caliber above what we've faced before, caution is a necessity." i add gravely.>>699685
"I understand you're eager to save her, Hermodur, but simply wandering up to the entrance is an easy way to be killed!"
"At least allow me to accompany you, i'm sure we can find a way inside given time."
struggling to keep pace with the felid as he stalks out the door, i try to follow as we move down the street.
[1d10] traversingRoll #1 10 = 10
"They don't know who we are. Of course, at this point, that may not be true any more. Still, they have no reason to be outright hostile."
"Well, good news. I really felt like that scoll I got that allowed me to project myself was handy, so I sort of… studied it a little. I could pull off the same trick without it now."
Zunden nods, following,
"I'll come too, incaze trouble followz. We zhould drop by Auorora and inform her of everyzhing by ze way."Roll #1 10 = 10
"Oh.. are you sure about this, Rabi?" i ask, looking concerned. "We did
lose you briefly the last time you used the scroll.."
Rabi lets out a nervous chuckle, before giving her a soft nuzzle "I-I mean, no tar-beasts, right? It should be fine, and I'm much more careful now."
Returning the nuzzle, i nod. "Alright then.. If you've got the spell under control i suppose you should be alright."
"You'll promise me you won't risk your soul if things begin to go wrong, won't you?"
You decide to stay behind as everyone else goes scouting for a while.>>699684
You start flipping through Violet's journal. You find that the first entries appear to date from after she had her runin with Black Pudding and lost her eye. From there, it goes on to detail many of her travels. The most recent entry dates to the party's encounter with Persolus.
Some of the entries include the following:
An encounter she has had with the craftsman Hadrian. Apparently, her unique glaive was forged by him for 300 bits. Violet notes that he must be a one of a kind creature, as she has never seen another of his kin.
An account of her expedition into the Barrens, which resulted in her finding the monolith that opened the way to Lucan's vault. Apparently she had a small party with her, but they were all lost through various means.
A runin with a creature known as a balaur which resulted in some of the scars on her body. She describes them as huge two-headed predators.
An encounter with a saurian necromancer called Klaproth, who apparently terrorized a small village. She and a group of mercenaries slew him with ease.
A detailed retelling of a time she almost managed to score herself her very own Sanctuary, but had it stolen by a rival treasure hunter called Patches. She curses his memory.
Perhaps the most significant account you find, however, is that of a debt she had to a certain Godric Swain, having borrowed money from him to fund one of her expeditions. She claims to have paid off her debt already.>>699688>>699685>>699690
You head out from the inn and head out towards the Daltry district. You get a little lost on the way there, but you eventually get to Twilight Square, where the big waysign helps you get your bearings in the town.
As you arrive in Daltry, Silver sees that the party are in the bad part of town she and Rabi wandered into yesterday evening. It is a rather miserable, run-down part of Braildorn, with lowlifes on every corner. Many of them leer at you all suspiciously, giving you the strong feeling you're not welcome here. This part of town is built out on the riverside, and is therefore largely made of wood.
Once there, Silver uses her trusty compass to guide the party to their destination. It takes you to a tall wooden building with a red door and no windows. The sign above the entry reads "The Sultry Scullion". It appears closed right now, although it is difficult to tell with seedy establishments like these. They tend to try and not attract too much attention.
Remaining largely unworried by the looks received, i pay more attention to the currently closed building.
"..It seems we're here quite early, the entire area is deserted."
Keeping a low profile to avoid attention, i take a look around the perimeter for potential ways in, hiring signs, back doors, etc.
"Right then, let's see exactly what we're working with.."Roll #1 9 = 9
Hermodur reads the sign and grumbles. "Really?"
"No windows," he thinks out loud. "Only one point of entry. Probably highly guarded. At least, that's the intended image. You walk in, and you only walk out if they let you. A clever and subtle threat.">>699696
"See if you can't find another way in or out. I find it hard to believe there would only ACTUALLY be one entrance/exit. That would make functioning very difficult. Also dangerous should the authorities have arrive…"
Hermodur trails off as he looks around for any sewer grates/openings in the area.
I snap the journal shut and set it to the side. A debt. To a crime boss. One he's no doubt trying to collect on, in spite of the fact that she's already paid it. I rub my eyes with my thumb and forefinger. This really isn't good. I look up at Zunden. "Did you say something about the changeling paying a visit to the pawn guy? I'm not really sure why he was reading her journal, but I think I have an idea of why they took her."
we're dealing with and where
we are i'm beginning to suspect the Guards seldom search this area anyway." i reply, continuing my search
"Of course not, Silver. I've got something to come back to, after all.">>699695
"Hrm… so, maybe I settle down in an alleyway nearby and… 'take a nap'?"
"Yeah, after I zaid I made zome purchazez zhere, fake Violet zaid zhe needed to vizit zhere later."
Zunden says, wishing she had that lute to keep her hands busy, drumming her claws on one of the tables worriedly.
"Zhe zuggezted we go here in ze firzt plaze, ze real one. I don't zhink zhe would have if zhe knew zhe would get in trouble here."
[1d10] for searchRoll #1 8 = 8
"Oh! There's a thought, with some careful maneuvering you could project into the building proper and safely look inside." you hear floating from nearby, the source of my voice thrown as i look around the area.
"If they took her because of the debt she owed then I wouldn't be surprised if she thought everything was alright. It says she paid up. I don't know. I'm not even really sure what we could ask if it was
a lead." I lean on my arm. "You don't think the others are going to actually attack the place, do you? Because if they do then I guess me staying back like this might have been kind of dumb."
"I know Hermodur iz foolhearty at timez, but he iz not zuicidal. I hope."
You keep a low profile and scout the perimeter, heading to the back. You can see a back entrance to the place, connecting to a backyard where some dirty laundry is being hung up by a middle-aged female griffon. She thankfully hasn't noticed you yet. Overall, the building is designed to be as discreet as possible, and the front and back entrances are the only ones visible at first glance.>>699702
You spot a hatch built into the ground in an adjacent alley. It seems to lead down into a canal system, presumably leading to the river below. However, the hatch is locked for now.
I tap my finger on my lap for a second, thinking over everything I just read. "You know, I knew she was cool before, but reading some of the stuff in her journal… Damn Violet is amazing."
"Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I might even be able to just phase through the wall, but going through doors will let me know where to go."
"And compazionate az well, zhe'z been nozhing but friendly ze whole trip zo far. Getting her out of trouble iz ze leazt we can do."
"There it is," Hermodur says with a smile. "How are your lockpicking skills?"
Making note of the back exit, i make my way back to the others.>>699702>>699706>>699708
"It seems they do indeed have a back entrance, and
it's open, for now. Rabi dear, perhaps you could give your spell a try?"
"Yeah." I sigh and anxiously rub my hands on my thighs. "What now? Do we just wait for the others to get back and see if they found anything? I feel weird just waiting around."
"Care for a distraction?"
"And no, I don't mean a violent one. I just have some questions for them."
"Hmm.. Even if i were to make my way inside, there's no guarantee we'll make it without conflict. Doubtless they won't take kindly to trespassers, especially ones who've already broken in."
"Let's give it a shot, yeah." the stallion says, settling in and propping himself up against a wall. He closes his eyes and mutters a few things to himself, before his body glows softly, and he slumps a tad.>Astral Projection (roll or nah?)
"How about we check in at ze pawn zhop? It wouldn't hurt."
I stand up and brush my clothes off. "It's better than just sitting here. Think we should leave the others a note in case they get back while we're gone?"
"Right…" Hermodur says as Rabi props himself against the wall. "I forgot about that. Much easier."
You project into your astral form. You still find the sensation of suddenly seeing your own comatose body somewhat queasy, but it soon passes.
"In ze room, yez. Zhould we pick up Aurora along ze way? Zhe haz no knowledge of going up right now."
*of what'z going on right now
Rabi shakes off the bizarre sensation of seeing his own body, and makes for the door Silver had already opened. From there, he'll head inside.
"Oh, so you guys did end up finding Aurora then? Yeah, we probably should."
"Have you found anything of note, Hermodur?"
"Yeah, I'll lead you to her, zhen to ze pawn zhop. Zhe waz panhandling on ze ztreetz lazt I zaw her.">>699706
Zunden gets up to leave to find Aurora.
"Just that locked sewer latch of there," Hermodur points to it as he sits down next to Rabi.
"I'm not lockpicker, though."
I'm taken aback for a moment. "Wait, what? She- She knows we don't have to do that, right? I just assumed she was out, like, shopping or something." I follow her out.
trotting over to the lock, i look back to you.
"..I don't suppose you could break it without too
much noise? Given the power behind your hammer a simple lock shouldn't be much issue."
As the laundry griffon goes inside, you follow after her discreetly.
The interior of the Sultry Scullion is lit with vibrant reds and purples, which don't do much to hide the dark, dingy wood beneath the curtains. The bordello is dimly lit, and features tasteless paintings of mares and other races posing suggestively. Apart from the griffon doing her chores, no one else appears to be around at the moment. Looking around more, you see there is an upstairs area with private rooms, while downstairs is a bar, behind which is a door leading to a basement area.>>699725>>699727
You go to the marketplace, where Zunden last saw Aurora. It takes a while to find her; as a matter of fact, she finds you. Norv finds her difficult to recognize at first, having torn her blue robe into paltry rags and smeared her mane with dirt. "Spare a coin for the infirm?" she asks in a feeble voice as she hobbles over to you hunch-backed, glancing about to make sure the coast is clear before straightening up into her normal posture. "What's up?" she asks. "Only going to be here another half hour or so. Got more than enough for today."
Hermodur raises an eyebrow. "Well, now I guess my hint was too subtle. You really can't pick locks?"
Seeing Aurora pretending to be a beggar like she doesn't have enough money to support herself makes me incredibly uncomfortable, and for a moment all I can do is stare at her with a mixture of disappointment and disgust. I remember what it's like being there. It's not something I could ever see myself faking. "Violet is gone," I say flatly. "We're following up on a potential lead, but figured you might want to be filled in first."
"Well.. no." i reply, blushing slightly. "I had spent most of my time practicing poisons, not picking locks. Admittedly most of those i pursued had latchless windows or were slow to run."
"I zhink zhe juzt wanted to feel like zhe waz doing zomething to help ze group, not zhat we needed it.">>699729>>699731
Zunden nods, filling Aurora in on what the group knows so far,
"You can continue to ztay out here if you want, but we're trying to find Violet'z wearaboutz."
Hermodur laughs. "Pursued? Well now, did I miss some conversation last night? Finally admit to being more than a noble?"
"Not that I'm surprised, obviously."
"Yes, well, after more brandy than i'd care to admit we had all decided to open up." i say, taking a seat next to Rabi as well.
"I was quite callous before my banishment, and had opted to do away with the suitors and offenders who got in my way, rather than remain patient."
"In summary, i had gotten careless and one of them escaped, sending me here." i candidly admit, looking on.
"What? Gone? How?" She looks concerned.>>699733
She nods as you inform her of everything that's happened. "I thought she was acting different. I just figured she was feeling off because of her injuries."
"I'll come with you then. Just give me a minute to wash up.">>699731>>699733
Aurora dips out for a moment and comes back wearing her new clothes and most of the dirt washed off. "Alright. Let's not waste time."
The three of you keep moving, eventually heading out of the markets and arriving at Gotthard's pawn shop with Zunden's guidance. Gotthard himself, a bland-looking griffon, is busy inspecting a small wooden puzzle box as you enter. "Hey there. Looking for something?">>699734
You find the door to the basement slightly ajar, enough to be able to slip through. While the basement itself is unremarkable, you see a series of boardwalks built into the wooden walls, acting as a tunnel leading under the surface. From what you can tell, the tunnel opens up into a hidden dock on the underside of Braildorn itself, opening up into the gigantic river it's built on. She might have been taken somewhere else; you can see a handful of other such docks in the distance at sporadic intervals.
Hermodur laughs again. "I'm sorry. It's just… Why the lies? We're all criminals. What did you have to gain?"
"It wasn't quite
a lie" i clarify. "I had mentioned they had no solid evidence, and i meant it. Beyond the witness testimony i had made a thorough effort to keep an alibi at the time. For all they had he was going insane."
"The half-truths were to downplay my imprisonment. I had my doubts the group would accept a serial killer, and i was in need of pony shields."
"That was all there was to it, until i had traveled with everypony for a time." i continue, smiling to myself. "Being through everything we have, i've long since considered you all friends, if you'd allow it."
"So, you basically took the opposite approach most people do when going to jail?" Hermodur continues to poke fun at Silver. "Rather than choosing to appear more tough, you decided to appear helpless. A bold strategy, but I suppose it worked."
"You were lucky. Had it just been you and me, I'd have left you behind. But, a larger group was better than traveling alone. And, there were more sympathetic minds among them."
Hermodur looks down idly in thought. "I suppose that's not really something a friend should say. But then, I've never been a very good friend. Practice makes perfect, I suppose… A two-way street."
"Well, so long as we keep each other alive we've at least reached the minimum in friendship, right?" i reply, covering a laugh with a wing.
"We'll learn together, the zealot and the petty murderer, how to be proper friends to the others."
Hermodur keeps looking down. He stares silently for a while. Then, he wipes his eyes.
"Messenger," he corrects Silver softly but sternly. He continues to look down, making a clear effort not to make eye contact.
"Ahem, Messenger, yes." i correct myself, clearing my throat.
"There we are again, Being quite callous, my apologies. A-as you said, practice makes perfect!" i add, flashing you a smile.
Hermodur laughs lightly, then looks up at Silver. His eyes are a little puffy.
"Well now, I AM curious. Are you implying you never had much in the way of friendship either? I find that hard to believe."
"Oh yes, I've made a few acquaintances as time went on but it was all so much surface level pleasantries." i confirm, waving off the idea with a hoof.
"I'd never met somepony i could truly
call a friend before i was banished. It was all so clean-pressed and formal, no time for friends when there was business to attend to."
no time for love." i add, leaning on Rabi's shoulder.
"I dare say being banished was a true turnaround point in my life. Meeting you all, finding Rabi, Traveling together. I'd not exchange it for the world."
Hermodur smiles weakly and looks to Rabi sitting unconsciously next to him. "It is a special bond…" he contemplates out loud. "I hope it is genuine for both of you."
"For me, however, being sent here has only separated me from all I ever care about…" He leans forward so that he can remove Mjolnir from its strap on his back. He looks at it with a wistful expression. "Everything I've ever meant…"
Hermodur chuckles. "I suppose in that sense, jail has had its intended effect on your. Correctional. Turning your life around for the better. And, by that logic, it only serves to validate I've done nothing wrong," he says bitterly.
"Hmm.. Trapped properly, without seeing what matters to you.. I do wish i knew how to help you, or at least the words to do so, but there's no reason to lose all hope." i lead in, after a moment of silence.
"Rabi and I are continuing our search for an exit. We may not know how long from now or in what form, but we mustn't lose hope until we find it." i add, in an attempt to sound reassuring.
"In any case, our foray into the dream springs for Norvy's lilies may prove helpful. Perhaps a dose of the water from it's source may prove strong enough to reach out properly."
"..At the very least, we could stock up on the water for later."
"I will never lose hope," Hermodur says, gripping Mjolnir tightly. "I have faith in Ailuros. If I can't get to her, she will get to me. And, together, we will make this place better as well."
"The Dreaming Spring Water… I WILL need more of it until then," he says in an almost pained tone.
"Yez, I waz wondering if you knew a blue changeling wizh a uh-"
Zunden looks to Norvegicus,
"What kind of coat were zey wearing Norv? Anywayz, Norvegicuz here waz talking wizh zhem earlier today, but after zhey left he realized zhey behind zheir journal. Zhey mentioned your zhop by name, zo we were wondering if you'd know where we could run into zhem again."
I'm apprehensive about actually finding the guy again, especially so soon after I let him go, but I decide humoring Zunden is probably in my better interest. "Metallic blue guy. He was wearing a grey coat."
He blinks. "Doesn't ring a bell. Haven't seen any changelings lately. Or if I have they've been in another form." He shrugs. "Can't help you. Sorry."
You head upstairs. You find that it has more or less the same tacky decor as the downstairs area. While most of the rooms are locked, you can see that one, currently being cleaned by the griffon on patrol, consists of little more than a king size bed and a dresser. Overall, there's not much to see here. Wherever Violet is, she doesn't appear to be here anymore.
"And if thiz waz brought to ze Tiger Clan, you'd ztill not know zhiz changeling?"
Zunden asks with an brow raised.
I quietly stand by, waiting to see if this half-interrogation half genuine questioning bears any fruit.
"Nothing I'd know about," he answers firmly. "I try not to get involved with their lot. Now, are you looking to buy anything or are you just here to drill me?" He folds his arms defensively.
[1d10] gonna roll an Insight on that, if he sounds honest or not.Roll #1 7 = 7
He sounds to you less like he doesn't want to talk and more like he's passive aggressively trying to get you to stay out of his private affairs.
>>699754Rabi frowns a little, and decides to return to his body from here.
Waking back up in his own body, he lets out a bit of a whinny and shakes the sensation off before saying "She's not there. I think they might've taken her elsewhere, they have a hidden dock by the river."
Noticing you waking up, i listen in as you relay the information.
"Ah, so a hidden dock? Oh no.. you don't think they've already sent her away, do you?"
"Probably not long ago. I imagine we can hurry, and see if we can figure out any more clues as we go along."
"We'll need to tell the others, it seems this dock might be the key to finding her!"
"None of this makes sense," Hermodur says as he stands back up. "I have some questions for them."
Hermodur marches inside then looks around for someone to talk to.
I glance over and Zunden and shrug. "Honestly I'm short of ideas past just asking around and hoping we get kidnapped." I cock an eyebrow and look back over to the pawnbroker.
"Look, I understand you just have a job to do and don't want annoying people coming in asking questions that you probably don't want to answer. We're just looking for our friend who we think is probably in danger. I'm sorry if we've seemed rude, but we're just a little on edge. I also understand if you actually can't give us that information, but every little bit helps."
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Well, that's one way to do it." he says, looking to Hermodur as he barges in. "Regardless, we should be careful. Could be a trap. Why else would they bother sending a replacement, yeah?"
"That's the thing that doesn't make sense," Hermodur says he as looks around for someone to talk to.
"If they sent a replacement, where does the trap come into it? It seems to me they never intended for the changeling to be caught. So, what in the name of Ailuros did they intend to get out of this whole thing? If they intended to get us to pay on her behalf, they they'd send a message. A changeling is the exact opposite of that."
"Uhm… hrm. Now I'm not sure, actually. This is all so confusing…"
You swing the door right open and enter the brothel. It seems very quiet and empty at this time of day. An angry-looking griffon starts coming down the stairs after a moment. "Excuse me, you can't just barge in here. We're closed. If you're here for our services, come back in the afternoon.">>699767
He eyeballs you for a moment. "You're drifters, aren't you. Lemme give you some advice, drifter. Don't go poking your nose where it doesn't belong. Now either buy something or get out, before I call the guards."
"Typically, confusion arises from lies," Hermodur says assuredly before the griffon comes down the stairs.>>699772
"I'm just here to ask a question," he says sternly. "Why would an organized crime ring kidnap a pony over a debt then send a changeling to take her place? How would that get them what they want?"
[1d10] for diplomacy?Roll #1 9 = 9
"Oh! Rabi dear, keep an eye on Hermodur, I'll fly off to fetch the others, i suspect we'll need them.">>699772
With Hermodur charging into the brothel, i take flight and move towards the inn, on the lookout for Zunden and Norvy.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 5 = 5
"C'mon Norv, let'z juzt…"
Zunden pauses, throwing up her hands,
"I don't know. I am not a detective."
I eye him back. "Our friend is kidnapped and replaced with a changeling, I'd say that is
where our nose belongs," I say. I reach into my pocket, pull out a whole five bits, and leave them on the counter. "Thank you for your time." Spinning around, I walk right past Zunden and out the door without looking back. "Let's just go meet back up with the others."
Zunden follows, in a sour mood.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Roll #1 3 = 3
"Right. I'll make sure he doesn't get in over his head, Silv.">>699772>>699773
Rabi blinks at Hemordur's straightforward 'diplomacy'… hopefully, it'l;l work. He peers around from behind the Felid, waiting to see if he'll need to chime in or not.
"I… I don't know what you're talking about. I'm going to have to ask you to leave, trespasser." She looks uncomfortable.>>699774
You fly up and start searching from high above. It's difficult to spot them, but you do eventually see them walking around one of the many streets of Braildorn. They don't look all too happy.>>699775>>699776>>699778>>699779
"If the Clan got 'em, then I reckon that's it. I wouldn't go snooping if you value your own lives." As Norv gives him a tip, he just grunts in acknowledgement and goes back to his business.
"Come on, now. We know you took her out the secret dockside entrance downstairs in the basement. We're pretty busy, so mind cutting some of the runaround?"
Landing nearby, i stumble up to the two, catching my breath.>>699779>>699778
"Ah, there you are! We've tracked the building down that the changeling mentioned, an old Hostel in the slums! Hermodur had just charged in when i flew off to fetch you."
"There's no need for that," Hermodur replies, continuing his stern tone. "I'm not here accusing you or your colleagues. On the contrary, I don't believe you have anything to do with this kidnapping. However, a changeling pointed to your people as the culprit and this place as the place she's being held."
"So, I'd like to know why that's the case. If you can't help me, bring me someone who can."
[1d10] diplomacyRoll #1 7 = 7
I stop at the door and fall silent for a moment. "I'm willing to take the risk if it means helping her." I trail off for a second before continuing. "You said you didn't know the changeling, but on the off chance you do, tell him to remember… Twelve tons. I won't be happy if I was lied to, and I'm a very observant, very tenacious dog." I leave the pawn shop.>>699783
? It was supposed to be a recon mission! We have to stop by the inn to grab Violet's weapon. I don't want to actually go looking for her and not have it."
"Indeed, i'm hardly dressed for a raid in the slums, most of my armor and
my shivs are still upstairs!"
"I've left Rabi to keep an eye on him, though knowing Hermodur that won't stop him from much."
"Well I mean, zhere are more citiez zhan juzt zhiz one. We make it out wizh Violet and I'm fine wizh being run out by a gang. Better to take our money elzewhere."
"I suppose, though first we'll have to find Violet.">>699785>>699781
Passing the Compass along to Zunden, i start to backtrack towards the Inn, flying off to gather my armor and weapons.
"Use my compass, The two of them shouldn't be far off! I'll join you shortly, my equipment is still in the Inn, unfortunately."
"Alright compazz, I want to find ze exact location of Violet."
Zunden says, holding the instrument infront of her.
She looks completely dumbfounded. "H-how did you know about…">>699784
As she realizes you're not having any of it, her expression changes and she straightens up some, changing from a harrowed madame to a stern, icy-eyed agent. She sighs and pinches the bridge of her beak. "Should've known this would happen."
She beckons for you to follow into a nearby office room. "Come with me. We can talk somewhere more private. I'll expl