"If we don't study the mistakes of our future we are doomed to repeat them for the first time" - Ken M
Icy wind bites at your skin as you hike up the snow covered trail to the mountain village of Frostpine. As you make your way closer to the town you see a mixture of goats and earth ponies milling about. The townsfolk seem sluggish as they go about their tasks, like they bear a heavy weight on their shoulders. The whole town has a dark, mournful aura.
The snow crunches beneath your feet, already hard and packed enough to not give way. As you enter the town proper, you mostly notice some snow covered huts scattered across the place, but two buildings set themselves apart from the living quarters. Smoke wafts from the chimney of each of the sparsely populated town's homes, save one. A dark gray building that sits towards the south. Inside is completely dark. Above the door rests a wooden plank with a crudely painted rod with a serpent twisted around it.
The second building, however, emits a warm glow, and from this distance you can just barely make out the silhouette of a stallion standing in front of the door. He heads right toward you, and once you get close enough you manage to get a better look. A towering gray earth stallion wearing a bearskin draped over his shoulders. He nods in greeting, stopping when he's near you.
"I suppose you're the three who came for the job," he says. His voice rumbles as he speaks. He turns around and waves his hoof, motioning for you to follow. "Come. Let's get inside where it's warm."
Upuaut wordlessly nods, fur standing on end as the hot-weather dog tries to adapt to the frigid weather. He follows the stallion inside.
As he enters Frostpine, he takes note of the grim atmosphere. "I've seen funerals with more cheer," he comments, slightly uneasy.
He bows in greeting at the large stallion. "We are. Yuenlong, at your service." He follows the stallion into the building, bowing his head slightly to avoid bumping his antlers on the frame.
Rough marches through the snow, shivering along the way. A bit too stubborn in claiming it couldn't be that
cold up the mountain, and they wouldn't take too long with the job.
"Yes, let's. Didn't expect it to be quite so nippy up here."
The stallion leads you inside, where you’re greeted by a warm flame heating the entire building. A minotaur sits in the corner taking a whetstone to a large knife, and doesn’t bother to look up as you enter. “Thank you again for coming,” the stallion says. “Even if it is just a job to you, it still means a lot that someone was even willing to answer.” He sits down at a nearby table and gestures for you to sit as well.
“I’ll try not to take too much of your time explaining. I know how off putting this damned ice is and I grew up here. I can only imagine how it’d be for-” He stops mid sentence, mulling over something in his head as he looks the three of you over, lingering particularly long on Yuenlong and Upuaut. Finally, he clears his throat. “Non locals.”
“Well, I’ll start at the beginning, then. Last month our village was hit with a plague. I personally don’t know the specifics, but it was bad. One of our guards’ relatives happened to fall ill as well, but the local healer said that the only thing she could do was keep everyone quarantined so the rest of the village didn’t get sick too. That the only thing that could even possibly save them was a rare flower that grows through the ice at the summit of the mountain. This wasn’t something she should have told Abraam -the guard I mean- because before the day was out he’d gotten together a band of men to go up into the mountains.”
“To cut it short, we were hit by a blizzard and he didn’t come back. A couple of our men went into the mountains on a search and rescue as well, but they didn’t come back either, and I fear the worst. Getting to the point, the job is to go into the mountains and either bring back our men-” He pauses and looks away. “Or, in the worst case, find out what happened and bring back their bodies.” He rubs his eyes with the back of his hoof. “That’s probably the case, but I hope not. I’m so damned tired of funerals.”
He sighs. “Anyway, if you don’t have gear for climbing then we still have some supplies that you can borrow. If need be, say the word and we’ll happily provide you with the climbing gear, food and water, and a sled in case… Well, in case you have to bring something back down the mountain.”
He listens intently. "So, a search and rescue party, then." He nods. "Tell me more about this flower, should we find it ourselves. What does it look like?"
Rough takes a close seat to the fire, warming herself back up from the biting wind.
"A quarantine? Are you sure you don't want us to find this flower as well?"
"How long has it been since they went missing? I've heard how blizzards can easily cause a pony to get lost, and in this cold I can't see anypony lasting long."
She asks as she checks through her supplies.
"Climbing gear would be very helpful, thank you."
"You need not fret for my own comfort when it comes to this mission. I have taken this mission to test my body against the elements, so that I might get to know the lay of this land better. I will accept any provisions you might provide, but should things grow dire I am fully capable of scavenging."
The Diamond Dog says as he remains standing, only so that he may remain closer to the fire,
"The information the dragon has asked for will be useful. As well, are there any hostile spirits or beasts that live in these mountains that we might encounter when on our journey?"
"Oh, and I will not require climbing gear. I can fly well enough."
"I have weathered sandstorms, the ibis know to seek shelter and not fly. I imagine snowstorms could be just as impassible."
"Crystallofolium. It's a bit of a local myth, but I've seen it once before myself. They only grow this close to winter, so collecting them from the summit of a mountain is reckless. You'd know them when you see them. Light blue, four petaled blooms growing from icy white stalks. The grow in patches">>703631
He drops his head. "Unfortunately," he says. "Everyone who was sick has already passed. If you wish to risk it, then by all means. I'm sure our healer would reward you. They wouldn't help now."
He looks back up at you, and you can tell he's trying his best to keep his composure. "The first party has been gone two weeks. The second a week." >>703632
"That's impressive if it's true." He glances down at his hooves as you mention 'things you might encounter'. After turning it over in his head for several moments, he finally speaks. "Wolves, for one. Bears. And-" He pauses and falls silent.
Rough says at the unfortunate news. Seeing his body language, she feels she may have been a tad harsh.
"That sounds better than a month like I thought. If they found a cave or some kind of shelter around here I believe they're holding on fine."
"Creatures of myth or the supernatural, then? The others I have heard of, but you hesitate. I am one to be wary even of local boogiemen, trickster gods, or cursed lands. Even if the stories prove to be fiction, every tale has some
basis in reality."
Upuaut says, cocking his head towards the stallion,
"Even if you do not believe we might encounter such a thing, or knowing of its existence would cause more harm to us than ignorance, I would like to be as well informed as possible."
"I suppose you're right," he says, touching his chin. "Let's hope we don't run into one of those. Best to err on the side of caution though.">>703637
"Crystallofolium," he parrots, rather enjoying the sound of the word. "Understood."
As he falls silent, Yuenlong looks rather stony yet intrigued, his mind already racing with possibilities. "You suspect something evil afoot on the mountain? I have heard stories of crones and skin-walkers digging their warrens in the deep places of the world…"
"Thanks. And that's what I'm hoping." He sighs and leans against the table, folding his hooves in front of him. "Town this small, you get to know everypony pretty close, y'know? So many of them being there one month and just… Just gone
the next… It's hard.">>703642>>703646
He nods. "I suppose it's best to just say something, then. There is a legend. A dark spirit that lives on the mountain. It's said to possess those who do evil deeds and drive them mad. I don't know anyone who's actually seen it. Nobody that I know has, but it's a story that's been passed down as far as I can remember. A 'local boogieman', as you put it."
He mulls this over. "I see. I do not think it should be taken with a grain of salt. As my canine friend has said, every legend is based on a truth."
"Just how many did you say have gone missing? If possible we should try to account for everyone."
"It is best to err on the side of caution, thank you for the information. Is there any information that you have for us, such as paths not to travel or the like?"
Rough gets up to put a hoof of support on the stallion's shoulder.
"We'll be back before you know it."
"Seven. Four for the initial trek and three for the search party.">>703655
"I'd steer clear of the cave systems. There isn't anything monstrous or anything as far as I know, but best not risk bears. They likely won't be out this close to winter, so as long as you keep to climbing you should be fine. There are two sheer drops you'll need to scale, but besides that it's mostly steep inclines.">>703661
He swallows. "Thank you again. I'm… I'm sorry it had to come to hiring outside help."
"Don't say it like that. There's no shame in outside help."
"Well acknowledged. We'll gear up then, and get ready for the expedition."
He nods, starting to write down everything he says for future reference. "Will we be on our own, or will we have a guide? I imagine it can be easy to get lost up there."
He stands up and brushes himself off. "I knew you were coming, so I already prepared the equipment. I'll just have to go grab it. I can send a guide with you if you'd like." He glanced over to the Minotaur. "Hey, Hugo. You know the mountain pretty well, right? Well enough to act as a guide?"
The minotaur looks up, grunts, nods, and goes back to sharpening his knife. The stallion nods. "Well then, if you need a guide then I'll send Hugo along with you."
"A guide would be helpful with all the snow about. Once you fish the gear out, I'll be ready to go."
Upuaut nods and lets the stallion grab the equipment.>>703674>>703672
"If any of us are to get seperated, whose names am I to call out to the wilderness?"
"We will need all the help we can get," he nods, bowing rather stiffly to Hugo. "I am ready whenever the others are.">>703682
He does a double take. "Oh, of course. Where are my manners." He extends a claw. "Yuenlong. A pleasure to meet you."
"Oh my, how did I forget that. I'm Rough, and you?"
Upuaut nods to both of them, looking slightly puzzled as Yuenlong holds his claw out,
"I am Upuaut,(wep-WA-wet)
let us hope such an occasion doesn't occur."
Hugo stands and slips his knife into a belt sheath. Now that he's standing you can finally get an actual idea of his height. Even without his curved horns he looks like he'd have to duck to avoid the top of the door, and is broad enough that he nearly needs to turn sideways. On his right hip a wood splitting maul hangs from his belt.
The stallion leads you out of the longhouse and around back, stopping at a shed built onto it. From here you can see the freshly turned earth of an icy cemetery in the distance, just beyond a sparsely treed wood. The stallion swings the shed door open and pulls out a sled, on top of which is a backpack and several lengths of rope. "Should have everything you need here," he says. "Just follow me. I'll lead you to the first cliff face, and you can go from there."
It takes nearly twenty minutes of hiking through the snow, but the five of you finally make it. The wind has already picked up some, and the frigid chill even threatens to spike through your clothes. Hugo takes the initiative, grabbing a rope, a harness, an ice axe, a sack of pitons, and a piton hammer.
"Someone take the pack," he says. "The pony will need the special boots." Without saying anything else, he ties the rope for the sled around his waist and walks over to the cliff. After looking it over for a moment, he seems to find a place he's satisfied with, grabs hold of an outcropping with one hand, hooks his hoof into the cliff, and slams the ice axe into the wall.
"Since we know something out there caused the last two parties to get held up, it should. Provided we don't get stupid out there.">>703690
Rough looks on to the graveyard as they gather their supplies, silently making a promise that they'll be sure it won't get bigger today.
Rough follows behind the minotaur to the cliff, doing her best to avoid the wind by using the rest of the party as a shield. When the minotaur says she'll need to wear special boots, she sits back to put them on as she watches him strike the cliff with his axe.
"Are these for the cliff climbing?"
Carrying no gear but his clothing and quiver, Upuaut takes the bag and slings it over his shoulders, waiting for further instruction.
He looks perplexed as Upuaut doesn't return the handshake, rather awkwardly putting his front legs back in front of his body close together like a cat.>>703690
Seeing Hugo start to climb, he takes to the air himself, floating steadily up the cliff face along with (assumedly) everyone else.
[1d10] if you need itRoll #1 10 = 10
Hugo looks over his shoulder and nods. "Spiked boots. Can't get a hold of the rocks if you don't have hands to hold 'em with. Ain't as good as hands is, but they're close.">>703692>>703691
"Put on the harness. Tie the rope to the harness. Hammer one of these-" he pulls a piton out of his small sack and shows you. "Round abouts every body length or so so if ya slip, ya don't fall to yer death. Climb, hammer, repeat.">>703693
You ignore the wind completely, flying up the side of the cliff with no problems. You feel like you could probably fly up and down this part as many times as you want without any issues.
He lazes idly at the top of the cliff while he waits, keeping an eye on his companions in case they slip. While he's there, he takes the time to set up his instrument, idly strumming it as he waits. Occasionally, he glances over the edge of the cliff to see if they need help.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN6OuVc2NSc
[1d10+2] Inspire, bonus from talentRoll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Upuaut nods looking to the harness and putting it on, tying the rope on and following the minotaur's orders. He begins his ascent.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"Alright. Harness, hammer, climb."
Rough repeats as she sets p her harness and ties herself secure, with a little struggle now that she has the spiked boots on before doing all that.
She tests the boots grip by placing on on the rock first, getting a feel for how secure it is and the best way to place it. Once she's confident, she grasps the hammer in her mouth and begins the climbing process.>Scale the cliff [1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
Your playing is quite inspiring. Even Hugo seems invigorated by the strange, foreign sounding tune.>>703696
You make your way halfway up the cliff with relative ease. The wind licks at your back, threatening to pick up, but slows before it's too much to handle.>>703697
You make it a quarter of the way up the cliff before the wind seems to catch you. The ice cracks as you wobble, and you fall fifteen feet to the ground, landing flat on your back. The fall seems to have caught and twisted your front leg, leaving you with a sharp ache. [temporarily lose climbing gear bonus]
Hugo looks down at you and shakes his head. "I need ta come back down and carry ya?" he shouts down at you.
As he sees Rough Patch slip, he flies down wordlessly and tries to help him climb up, resisting the urge to make a name pun.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Upuaut doesn't make the mistake of looking down to check on the others, climbing the rest of the way.
[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
Rough tries to quickly correct her grip as the ice cracks, failing as she lads hard on her back. The wind is knocked from her lungs, dazed as she stares up into the white cold sky. Her forelegs fall to her sides, glad for the cold now as a sharp spike of pain runs up her leg.
"J-Just a second. I… I can do this."
Rough rolls onto her stomach, getting back onto her hooves, though flinching as she puts weigh back on her injured leg. She steps back to the cliff, and tries to climb again, a little more slowly this time.>Climb [1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Hugo pulls himself over the cliff and stretches his back. You see him move to step away from the cliff, but he freezes, seeming to stare at something you can't see from this angle.>>703699
You fly down to help her, but she's already started climbing again. At least now you'll be there to catch her if she falls again.>>703700
You climb your way the rest of the way up the cliff and pull yourself up. Hugo holds his hand out to keep you from moving too far forward, but not so close to the edge that he accidentally pushes you over. Looking up, you see what he's staring at. A massive brown grizzly stands on all fours, pawing at the ground. Luckily she's turned away from you for now.>>703701
You manage to make your way halfway up the cliff. With Yenlong to help guide you you make it up to the top with everyone else.
"Hold. A beast lays ahead. I could provide a distraction elsewhere so that it's attention is lead away while you continue forward."
Upuaut says quietly, pointing to the bear.
"Perhaps a rock thrown in the opposite direction?" Yuenlong suggests, scouting around to see if he can find a safe path around the bear.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
"Ah, the beast is not one equipped to burrow beneath the ground. I, however, am. I have only to burrow past it and show myself on the opposite side of our travel, then return once it has been distracted long enough."
Rough climbs up to the top, sitting down in the cold snow to help relieve some pressure off her leg. She takes a moment to scrounge through her saddle to mix up something to help ease the twisted pain to not hinder the rest of their trek.>[1d10]
As the others look ahead to the bear, she looks a bit worried since they're cornered at the cliff's edge.
"At least it's not looking at us. Maybe it's looking for something, probably the best we don't try to bother it or distract it."Roll #1 1 = 1
Hugo takes a single step forward and crouches down, drawing his long knife from his belt. "Don't even make sense," he whispers. "Too close to winter. Bear should be hybernatin'." He hums to himself for a moment, scanning the mountain. After a second he nods to the a cliff face on the far end of the shelf, right beside the bear. "Ain't easy to see, but over there's a cave that leads up. Might be able ta sneak past the bear if we're real quiet like," he says. "Safer ta go up the slope past the bear, though. Cave is full'a ice, and new cracks and holes open up and close all the time. Y'all got torches or somethin'? It's dark.">>703988
You don't see any options other than the two Hugo pointed out.>>703990
All it seems to do is sharpen the pain.
The bear continues to scratch the ground. After what seems like a fruitless attempt at whatever it was trying to do, it lets out an annoyed huff and takes a couple of steps forward, continuing to dig at the snow.
He checks his inventory, frowning. "Fie. I could have sworn I packed a lantern…" He shrugs and looks to Hugo apologetically. "If no one else has a light source, I suppose we will have no choice but to move past it. Let us hope it is not hungry."
"My eyes are honed to pierce the night, however, give me a moment to scavenge and I can see what I can do to aid."
Upuaut scans the surrounding area for materials to create a crude torch.
>Survival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 1 + 3 = 4
Rough stands back up, toughing out the pain.
"At least the cold will help keep it from swelling.">>703992
"I have a few mixes that can make fire if we need, though the smoke might be a bit irritating if we're going through a cave."
"H'm. S'pose ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Didn't expect to be goin' through the caves because the idea was to avoid
bears and such.">>703994
"Irritatin's better than bein' torn apart. Maybe we can scare it, though. Best be decidn' quick, afore-">>703993
You dig through the iced over snow, but can't manage to find anything. As the ice breaks, a thin fracture spiders across it and back toward the cliff face, dividing in two halfway across. As it reaches the edge, the ground beneath you rumbles and a huge chunk of ice and rock separates from the cliff, tumbling to the ground below.
The loud boom from the impact startles the bear, and it jumps, swinging its head around. When its eyes find the party it stands up on both its hind legs and bears its fangs and lets out a low, rumbling roar.
"Not to mention it might agitate whatever lives inside. Still, I would rather take my chances with the cave than have to deal with an angry bear."
Upuaut stays low to the ground, continuing to pad at the earth slowly even as the bear turns it's attention.
>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.>Digging a pitfall trap incase the bear starts running towards the group
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Alright. Don't blame me if you get thrown into a coughing fit though."
Rough warns. She pulls an empty bottle from her saddle, looking through her other ingredients before mixing together two liquids, then tossing in a pinch of powder to make it light up with a small flame.>Alchemist's Fire [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Hugo nods in agreement. "Bears up in these parts get big, mean, and strong. Don't wanna fight em if I don't have'ta.">>703997
The ice is too thick, and the ground too hard. You manage to dig a small, couple of inch deep pitfall, but nothing that will make any difference. >>703998
The concoction erupts into flames before settling down. Thick, acrid black smoke wafts off of it, just like you'd warned everyone.
Hugo steps in front of everyone and stands up as tall and straight as he can. "Here, here! he yells. "Git. We don't wanna fight ya!"
[1d10] intimdateRoll #1 9 = 9
The bear drops back to the ground and takes a couple of steps towards the party, but freezes when it sees Hugo screaming at it. It doesn't run right away, but it stops moving. Slowly it swings its head towards where Hugo indicated the cave was, almost like it's checking for something.
"Not as planned." He pulls out his guqin, hovering midair as he rests it on his tail, strumming all the strings discordantly in an effort to conjure something to fight by his side if need be.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 2 = 2
As Hugo attempts to intimidate the bear, Rough holds up the burning potion. With the awful smoke coming off it, she hopes letting the wind blow it towards the bear may aid in repelling it.>Repel [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
He curses in his native tongue as he fails to conjure anything, instead playing an inspiring tune to (hopefully) instill his allies with magical fortitude.
[1d10] InspireRoll #1 4 = 4
Upuaut decides to continue forward slowly,
"We cannot stand here forever, the elements will get to us before bear does if we do.">moving
Your music rings out but nothing shows up, and nothing seems to happen. Your last note just dies in the air.>>704002
Hugo slowly steps toward the cave, continuing to stand at his full height. As you hold the potion, the bear gets a sniff of the smoke and takes a step back. It lets out a huff, but otherwise doesn't move.>>704004
As you move toward the cave you can slowly see it come into view. As it sees you make your way toward it, the bear runs forward, right at you, prepared to barrel into you at full force.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Rough moves slowly with Hugo, legs growing stiff as she keeps her flame held high to help keep the bear repelled. Time pass agonizing slow, but it's relieving that they aren't getting attack. That is until the bear charges for Upuaut.
She shouts, reaching into her saddle and pulling out a crystal vial. She pulls out the cork with her teeth and flings the liquid out at the dog to quickly aid in protection.>Fortify Flesh [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
As he sees the bear turn aggressive, he springs to action, baring his claws and raking them across the guqin, sending sonic blades slashing at the bear.
[1d10] RangedRoll #1 1 = 1
Upuaut attempts to burrow out of the way, hiding underneath the snow.
[1d10] burrowRoll #1 8 = 8
The throw arcs perfectly, dousing Upuaut in the fortifying liquid. He suddenly feels tougher.>>704007
The sonic blades miss the bear completely, taking a wide arc upward and slashing across the top of the cave. The cave rumbles, and rocks and snow fall from the top, halfway covering it. It looks like to get inside now you'd have to take time to dig it back out.>>704008
Your claws rake at the ground furiously, and you dive into the snow. The bear wings your leg, but otherwise dashes right over you. [-1 hit] It stops just past the hole, looking around in confusion.
Hugo runs towards the bear with his shoulder forward, prepared to tackle the confused bear.
[1d10] SlamRoll #1 5 = 5
He grits his teeth as the entrance collapses, playing another impromptu melody in an effort to summon an ally to his side.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 4 = 4
Now in a strategic position, Upuaut digs out a secondary hole, trying to pitfall the bear again.
[1d10] trap while undergroundRoll #1 6 = 6
Rough sets her current flame down in the snow, unsure of what the plan is with the group split in fighting and retreating. She looks over at the now blocked cave after the harsh sound. Whether it's an exit now or something the bear was interesting in, clearing it is a good priority at the moment.
She pulls out another bottle, a smaller one, as she mixes up another concoction to throw into the cave and melt away the fallen ice, while she runs up to it after to buck away the rocks and rubble to clear it.>Alchemist's Fire [Instant due to Revolving Drum] [1d10]>Slam (To Clear rocks) [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
Hugo slams against the bear, but it doesn't budge. After regaining its bearings, it lashes out a huge paw to swipe him away.
Nothing happens again. The ending of your song is accented only by the howl of the wind.>>704011
You dig a pitfall right under the bear. Nothing happens yet, but if it makes any sudden moves you're pretty sure it's going to fall.>>704012
The chemicals spark and sputter out, but your hooves slam into the rubble, knocking it away completely. Deeper in the cave you see a small shadow move, darting behind the corner.Roll #1 10 = 10
Rough peers into the cave, picking up the flame so she can have light to see.
"Hello? You can come out, the way is clear now."
She calls gently to the shadow, having suspicions on what it is.
>>704013>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.>bear triggers
Upuaut breaches the cold earth, looking to the rest of the party,
"The bear is fallen into my trap, let make haste to leave before it breaks free.">>704014
Upuaut gazes into the cave, his eyes adapted to darkness.>urvival: spot check rolls +3. Can create and forage for basic supplies like rope, bandages, tents, torches and low-quality meals. Can see far into the distance and can see if dim or night light.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
Satisfied as the bear gets trapped, he joins his companions inside the cave, peering about trying to see if he can spot anything in the gloom.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
The bear drops into the pitfall, digging frantically and fruitlessly against the slippery ice around it. It roars as you approach the cave and tries to dig its way out even harder.>>704014
The shadow slowly peeks around the corner but jerks its head back in upon seeing you.>>704015
Your special eyes see the inside without any problems at all. As the shadow peeks around the corner, you see that it's a small bear cub about half your height.>>704018
You can barely see as far back as the first bend in the cave, but past the first couple of feet everything is shrouded in darkness.
"The creature is a mother, looking for it's child. Let us be off."
Upuaut says, letting Hugo lead the way.
"Ah, so. That explains quite a lot. We should not tarry. The mother will be free before we know it." He follows the rest of the group onwards as best he can, trying his best not to let his nerves show at being surrounded by darkness.
"So that's what she was looking for. Just keeping her cub safe."
Rough comments as they spot the little bear.
"We should probably get out out of here before she crawls out of that pit."
Hugo pulls himself up, rubbing his head. Seeing the bear trapped, he sheaths his knife and runs up in front of the party. "If there's a cub in that cave we'd best git in the opposite direction as fast as we can," he says. "We get too close and she'll tear us apart or die tryin'. C'mon. Let's get up that slant a little piece afore she gets out."
The bear helplessly beats against the sides, trying to hook her claws into the ground enough to pull herself up.
Yuenlong nods and follows closely behind Hugo, keeping a wary eye on the mama bear.
Rough nods, following after Hugo.
Upuaut offers a curt bow to Rough.
"I appreciate the assistance."
before returning to follow Hugo in the opposite direction.
"I'm glad it got to you in time. Didn't think you'd be able to dodge a bear charging right for you."
Hugo turns slips around the bear just enough to grab the sled to pull behind him. Quickly, he walk-runs toward the icy slope leading up the side of the cliff face. It's a little steep, but not so steep you feel like you risk losing your footing. You make it more than halfway up before the bear manages to break herself free, and instead of chasing after you she makes a mad dash for the cave.
Hugo's lips tighten into a thin line and he stares straight ahead, deep in thought. "Still don't make sense," he finally says. "Even if she was lookin' fer her cub, they shouldn't even be up and about. Somethin's got 'em frazzled, and that don't sit right in my stomach.."
He nods pensively, floating down to the ground. "I am no expert, but it is indeed very strange. Very strange indeed. Have you ever seen anything like this before?"
"If the predators of this realm are on edge, it only means there is a danger greater than them."
Rough walks cautiously up the steep, her leg still a little sore.
"Do you think whatever kept the others from returning is what upset the bears?"
He shakes his head. "Not as far as I can recall.">>704030
A shudder visibly runs through his entire body. >>704031
"I'd say that's a good bet. 'Specially if it is a predator more dangerous'n a bear."
The further you make it up the slope, the more the wind picks up. Light snow falls from the sky, quickly picking up into a whipping icy white sheet. As you near the top the snow picks up enough to make it difficult to see more than ten feet in front of you. Almost the moment Hugo leads you onto the shelf, a low, mournful sounding howl echoes across the mountains. Hugo freezes in place.
"Wolves?" he asks worriedly, tensing up at the sound. His eyes dart to and fro, trying to see through the falling snow at whatever might be stalking them.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
Upuaut's head snaps like a watchdog's, immediately looking around the surrounding area for any more creatures that may prove hostile.
[1d10+3] look, look with your special eyesRoll #1 6 + 3 = 9
Rough holds in place as the howl echoes out. She looks up to Hugo as he does as well.
"Is that a wolf, or something worse?"
She asks, trying to peer through the cold sleet to not be caught offguard.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
You don't see anything through the snow. The sound doesn't give any indication of where it's coming from, and instead feels like it's all around you. Hugo shakes his head. "That weren't no wolf. I've heard wolves. That was-" he pauses. "Somethin' else." Whatever it was it doesn't seem to be around. "We should keep movin'," Hugo says. "I don't wanna be up here longer than I gotta. That thing didn't sound right. Almost… Hollow."
Upuaut takes an arrow nearly half his body length from his quiver and holds it by the shaft defensively.
"Nor do any of us wish to stay here longer than we have to."
Continuing to follow, as usual.
He feels a chill run down his spine, and not just from the cold. He presses on with the rest of the group, staying quieter than usual.
Rough questions, looking around through the snow.
"How much father is it to the summit? It's getting hard to see ahead, it's going to be tough to see signs of the others."
He leads you across the shelf to another cliff face and stops. This one isn't a sheer drop like the first, but at about an 80 degree angle it's pretty steep. >>704039
"Just a little ways to go. Some more caves up this cliff, then you gotta go around a piece ta climb higher. Maybe another forty, fifty feet." He looks up the cliff. "This one shoulda been pretty easy ta get up, but with the snow the way it is I ain't sure. Should be another cave around here if ya wanna try that instead."
He squints and judges the weather before deciding to take a risk. "It does not look so bad. I will go first." He starts levitating and does his best to fly up the side of the cliff, sticking close to its face so as to be able to see where he's going.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Upuaut shuffles with unease,
"My species is much more comfortable in a cave than scaling cliffs…"
"If the bears are all riled that doesn't sound like a good alternative unless we can tell the others went in there."
You fly up the cliff face, guided by the wall. As you near the top the snow picks up even more and the wind blows you against the wall near the top. You don't fall, but you're having trouble making any more progress up. Roll to continue or fly back down.>>704042>>704043
"Best decide quick. Looks like yer friend's already almost up top. Bears are probably still down the mountain, but I can understand bein' a little worried about findin' somethin' else in there."
"I suppose up is the way to go. I doubt they would've stopped without that plant either."
Rough decides, going to climb the cliff to continue to the summit.>Climb [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
He pauses to confirm that the rest of the group are climbing before continuing to make his way up the mountain.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Upuaut remains hesitant, first watching the others start climbing.
You dig your boots into the cliff face, but the slush makes it hard to get any kind of traction and you just slide back down.>>704046
It looks like Rough is trying to follow you up the cliff, but she's having a difficult time of it. You don't manage to make it much closer to the top either.>>704047
Hugo stands back with you, hesitant to climb himself. "Yeah," he says. "I think the dog's got the right idea. Too dangerous to climb in this weather."
He grumbles indistinctly as his efforts prove fruitless. As he sees his companions flounder as well, he gives up and flies back down. "No luck. We will have to take the caves, I suppose." His failure to scale the cliff seems to have soured his mood somewhat.
Rough plops back down into the snow as she slides down off the cliff. She stands up, looking over to the caves.
"Cliffs it looks then. It would be nice to get out of the wind too."
Hugo nods and leads you to a cave a little bit away. "Should be this one," he says. "Leads to a cave near the top. Once we get through there, it should be a straight shot to the summit." He glances over his shoulder at Rough. "You have that light?"
"Yup. Have it right here."
She says, holding the jar up high to help light the cave Hugo points out.
Upuaut leads given his natural darkvision, keeping a wary eye.
[1d10+3] spotRoll #1 10 + 3 = 13
He looks behind cautiously before following his companions into the cave, looking around with curiosity, still on edge from the howl they heard before.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
The light makes it easier for everyone to see the ground and avoid the many small cracks and crevices that line the floor. Upuaut leads the party through the cave with no problems. When he rounds the last corner, though, he sees two shadows on either side of a campfire. Piled in one corner are what look like rucksacks. A pile of bones sets in the other corner, and across the cave right in front of the mouth, through which he can only see a violent cascade of white, is the body of a griffin lying face down in the snow.
Optimism grows as they come around the corner and see a light. The bones cause worry and hesitation that they might be too late. Spotting the body laying on the floor, Rough quickly rushes over to check to see if they are alive.
He looks grim as he sees the remains, looking to Hugo to gauge his reaction before tentatively approaching the presumably dead griffon, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else.
On edge, the diamond dog draws back his arrow in one paw as if preparing it to fire, holding his other empty hand out as if it was holding a bow.
"I'll stay watch. Do you recognize them, Hugo?"
As you get closer you see the two are earth ponies. Not only are they dead, but large chunks are taken out of their bodies. Some look like cuts, but their stomachs are torn open by what look like jagged bite marks.>>704058
The griffin is indeed dead. He lays on his stomach with his neck craned to look out the cave. A look of anguish still rests on his hollow face. His outstretched talon is frozen in a ring shape, like he was holding something before. >>704059
Hugo swallows and takes a couple of steps forward. Tears fill his eyes as he kneels down beside the two bodies. "Yeah," he says. "These are the three that went with Abraam. They must've hunkered down in here to try and wait out the blizzard."
Repulsed by the body but also intrigued, he examines it closer, looking for anything out of the ordinary that would give hints as to how he died.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Rough stops, holding a hoof to her mouth in terror at the sight.
"Dear Celestia, they've been ripped apart."
She takes a step back, standing on the other side of the fire.
"This couldn't be by an animal, could it? This cave doesn't look like a home for anything."
Upuaut stands vigilant as the other three continue to look at the bodies.
"Scavengers, perhaps," he suggests as he continues to examine the griffon corpse. It's like he can't look away.
It doesn't take much observation to tell that his throat has been slashed out. His body seems otherwise undisturbed.>>704062
"Not any animal I've ever seen," Hugo says. "Anythin' on this mountain would've eaten all of 'em. Or at least torn the bodies apart more." He gets up and walks over to the skeletons. "Like these three…" He crouches down and squints through the darkness. You can hear his breath catch in his throat, and he stands back up and stumbles back a couple of steps. "Those clothes. These are the three that went after them.">>704063
A long, low howl like the one you heard earlier bellows from outside. This time you can tell where it's coming from. This time it's close.
His mane bristles and he perks up at the howling, plucking a very specific sequence of notes - B, E, D, E, G - in an effort to summon a spectral ally.
[1d10] Conjure MinionRoll #1 8 = 8
"But what kind of scavengers would live on a mountain like this?">>704065
"Now we know where they were, but not what happened to them."
Rough puts a hoof on Hugo's shoulder to help him through this rough moment.
"You said they were with Abraam, so we didn't see him yet. He might be higher up, possibly waiting out the blizzard safely."
"We cannot linger much longer, I fear the cause of these deaths may soon approach."
A spectral jian with a pale blue aura materializes in front of you, hanging in the air.>>704067
He nods and takes a deep breath through his nose, flaring his nostrils. "Yeah," he says. "If he ain't here he could still be alright." He sighs. "Part'a me thinks it'd be better fer him if he ain't, though. Not sure how ta tell him 'bout what happened." His eyes shoot to the mouth of the cave and he draws his knife when he hears the howl.>>704068
A ghostly chill blows across the back of everyone's neck, like an icy spider crawled up their spine. Hugo shivers and tightens his grip on his knife. Through the furious snow you can just barely make out the silhouette of something vaguely pony shaped moving toward the cave. Something seems off about it. The shadow seems too tall. Too thin.
Two words echo in everyone's mind. A plea. 'Kill me.'
A low, ravenous sounding growl pours into the cave.
Rough tenses up at the chill, standing at alert and suppressing a gasp at the sensation. She sets the fire jar down next to the campfire, looking to the cave as a figure comes into view and growls.
She looks on, frozen in place as the words flow in her head.
He is frozen for a moment as the… thing… shambles into the cave. He almost has to will his fingers to move as he begins to pluck his magical instrument again, using his nails as picks to strum up what he hopes is an inspring melody:
G C C D E D E C G C C D E C B / G C C D E F E D C B G A B C C
The jian stands poised to strike, blade hovering near the entrance to the cave, ready to swing at the figure.Roll #1 1 = 1
Taking note of the bear attack before, Upuaut digs into the ground to hide himself away.
Your sword hovers near the entrance as you strum your strings. Your trembling hand plucks only sour notes, playing a gut wrenching metallic cacophony instead of a song. (-1 to next action.)>>704072
You easily dig away the dirt in the cave and burrow beneath the ground.>>704070
"Abraam," Hugo croaks.
The lumbering shadow steps closer to the mouth. Slowly, the snow parts and you can see the thing standing in front of you. Jagged, broken antlers protrude from its head and shaggy gray fur stained with red lines its whole body. Its face is twisted into a pained grimace, half of which looks like a pale blue earth pony, while the other half looks like that of a feral deer or elk. Jagged teeth line its blood caked mouth. The eye on pony half of its face is a deep black, but the eye on the feral side of its face looks almost normal. It stops to look down at the griffin, before looking back up at the party. A low, hungry growl rumbles from deep inside it as it takes two slow steps towards you. Wisps of icy vapor pass its lips with each breath, and the whole cave suddenly feels colder.
Unaware of the beast that lies above him, Upuaut digs underneath the ground, digging a pitfall to whatever vengeful creature approaches. The sour notes of the magical instrument above unsteadies his paws.
>Trap: recharge 1; Starting next turn, first enemy to attack is helpless for 2 turns.
[1d10-1]Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3
He is frozen in place at the sight of the terrible beast. Hands shaking, he looks around at his companions, unsure of what to do. Seeing them take the offensive, he unsteadily rakes his claws along the guqin in an effort to send a sonic blade at it.
The jian springs to life, swinging at the creature in an uppercut slice.
[1d10] +1 from Conjure Minion, -1 from Inspire critfailRoll #1 3 - 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
Rough takes a step back as the horrid creature enters the cave. She's nearly frozen in terror, and also from the chill of the wind and the eerie aura this beast emanates.
The sub-cave earth is even harder than the dirt you'd tried to dig through outside. You scrape away a tiny bit in front of you, but not nearly enough to have any effect.>>704075
The creature steps out of the way of your sonic blade, almost floating on the frigid cave floor. It had been so focused on everyone else that it hadn't noticed the jian as it slices a huge gash into its shoulder, sending it staggering. Before it falls over, it catches itself on one of its misshapen legs and freezes, standing unnaturally still as ice crackles over the wound. Slowly its head lifts back toward the party. >>704076
Its eyes frantically dart around like a madman's, as if it's unsure of who or what to focus on. Its nostrils flare as it takes in a deep breath and lets out the same hollow, unearthly howl you head before.
Roll perceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
He covers his sensitive ears and cowers as it howls, feeling a sense of dread wash over him as it simply regenerates the injury. He starts backing away from it, seeing it pointless to attack for now, eyes darting to and fro as he tries to formulate an escape plan.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
Rough's ears lower as the creature howls again, the terror met with confusion as the beast hasn't attacked or done anything yet aside from corner them now. She tries to follow it's eyes to see what it's trying to focus on, hopefully to see and find a way to distract it so they can flee.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Clenching his teeth, Upuaut lies on his back in the hole he's dug and holds his right hand out as if holding a bow, taking one of his massive arrows and drawing it back from the imaginary string. He closes his eyes, letting go of the imaginary string with his left paw. The arrow flies from his paw and flings foward into the æther, disappearing from his hole. >>704079
A foreign glyph appears midair in front of Rough Patch, one of Upuaut's arrows emerging from it and flying out at the horror seemingly from nowhere.
>Eye of the Beast: recharge 1, weapon, ranged; Forgo your own vision look through the eyes of your minions or allies. Any foe that they can target, you can fire a bolt through the magic between realms to hit them, regardless of your own location.
[1d10+2] DC-1Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Before the beast stands again, you see something sticking from its back, right between its shoulder blades. You can't quite make out what.>>704079
The howl sends your heart into overdrive, making it difficult to focus on anything but the creature's eyes. As if you'd flipped a switch, they lock on you. Baring its fangs, the creature runs at you, preparing to pounce.
The bolt strikes it in the face as it charges Rough, and it lets out a quiet whine.
Hugo shakes himself free from his stunned stupor, locks his jaw, and draws his knife. Digging one hoof into the ground, he whispers a quiet, "I'm sorry." and barrels at the creature.
[1d10]slamRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
His eyes narrow as he catches glimpse of the thing in its back. He sends out another sonic wave at it, while commanding the jian to strike at the spot he noticed.
[1d10+1] Minion attack>>704079>>704080
"On its back!" he calls. "There's… something there…"Roll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
[1d10] PerceptorinoRoll #1 2 = 2
Hearing the arrow strike true as the horror whines, Upuaut hones in on it's position.> Bloodhound: Passive; After making a successful, physical attack against a target you pick up its scent. This target does not benefit from stealth when being attacked by you or attacking you for a number of turns equal to the amount of damage you do. Darkness also does not affect your ability to target.
He attempts again to set a trap, now that he holds a better understanding of the creature's position.>Trap [1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Rough nearly jumps back as the rune appears before her, nearly yelping as if it as an attack from the beast until it shoots at it.
"Oh my Celestia…">>704081
Rough's over-driven heart nearly sinks as the creature leaps at her. Some feeling flows back into her frozen and nearly numb legs to act, quickly pulling out a small spare concoction to toss at the creature's face before it leaps.>Alchemist's Fire [Revolving Drum Instant from >>704012] [1d10]
Then she quickly turns on her forehooves, spinning back to deliver a devastating buck to try and knock it back as it does leap.>Slam [Crits 9+] [1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
The wave slams into its shoulder as it scrapes its claw toward Rough, knocking it off balance just before it does any actual damage. Before it can catch its footing, the jian slices into it again, digging an even deeper gash into its stomach and sending it to the floor. In moments icy shards slowly crackle around the wound, sealing it again. It tries to stand back up, but can't seem to right away. Its breathing picks up as it continues to slowly crawl toward Rough.>>704084
You dig under where the creature was
, but Yenlong's strike sends it staggering away. The earth above you gives way, collapsing in on you. Helpless two turns.>>704085
A shrill screech comes from the creature as it's bathed in flames. The stench of burning fur and acrid smoke fills the cave. It doesn't stop it from biting into your leg as your buck misses it by inches. -1 hit.
Hugo's slam barely misses as the creature is pushed out of his way. He moves to stab the creature, but freezes when he sees the thing in its back. Now that it's on the ground at your feet, you can see that a silver dagger etched with strange runes is just barely sticking into its spine. The area around the dagger is blackened and charred, and a constant swirl of icy vapor encircles it as if it's trying to push it out.
He hones in on the dagger, snaking through the air and flying above the creature before swopping in to try and pull it out. He commands his jian to keep attacking, causing what is essentially a flanking attack.
[1d10] Remove dagger
[1d10+1] Jian attackRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
Rough quickly regains her hoofing and gets back from the creature after her failed buck, stumbling as the pain from the bite rockets through her limb once it touches the cave floor.
"Th-That dagger, is that why he's like this?"
She shouts over to Hugo as she pulls out a small vial, drinking it to try and relieve the pain.>Fortify Flesh [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
You fly at the creature, nearly missing the dagger. As your hand nearly misses the handle, it almost seems to stand up enough to help you get a hold of it, sliding it free from its back. The wound quickly closes up and the creature pulls itself up. Its pupils dilate, and the frantic, maddened look in its eyes seems to dissipate as its face shifts into a hyper-focused, predatory glare. All traces of humanity that were once there seem to be gone now. The jian slices into its shoulder, but instead of taking a bit the wound freezes over as soon as it opens up.>>704088
The earth shifts around you as you manage to unbury yourself a little.>>704089
Your shaking hoof loses grip of the vial, dropping it to the ground. Hugo swallows and shakes his head. "I think it's more the opposite," he manages to get out, before the creature turns on him and gallops at him without a second thought.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
He curses as removing the dagger only makes things worse. With his newfound weapon, he coils around and tries to shank it right in the throat.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Rough looks down at her broken vial, gulping at Hugo's answer. As it turns at him, she reaches into her saddle. Her potions may not be the best in a cave, but the flames are their best bet with this creature. She mixes up a larger jar, making it a more volatile concoction as she tosses it at ht creature's back.>Alchemist's Fire [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
The rest of the earth falls away, freeing you.>>704092
The creature slams into Hugo and bites deep into his shoulder. Hugo tries to grab onto him, but his fingers can't seem to get a good grip on the creature's frozen skin. While it's distracted, you slam the dagger into the back of its neck and it shrieks again, letting go of Hugo and staggering to the side. The dagger only sticks in just over halfway, but its movements slow. Its eyes find Hugo again, and tears well up in them, freezing on its cheeks as they touch the air around it. Its blood caked mouth curls into a frown as its head creaks back toward Hugo. Like a reluctant puppet on strings controlled by somebody else it shambles toward Hugo, ready to dig its fangs in again. He reaches out to try and grapple it to hold it still for the party.
The flames fall just short, exploding on the ground behind it. As it feels the fire licking at its back legs, it tries to scramble forward a little more.Roll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
Coughing, Upuaut finally clears enough room to breath. He weakly holds out his arms to fire another arrow.>>704092
A foreign glyph appears midair in front of Rough Yeunlong, one of Upuaut's arrows emerging from it and flying out at the horror seemingly from nowhere.
Eye of the Beast [1d10+2] DC-1Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Unsure of how to bring down the monster, he keeps his distance from it, plucking out a rousing melody to inspire courage in his allies.
[1d10] InspireRoll #1 8 = 8
Rough stomps her good hoof as she misses her jar toss, but at least it shows fire does fend the creature away.
As it seems to become more docile as Yuenlong embeds the dagger back in, she runs forward at the creature. She lunges out with her hoof, aiming for the dagger to try and slam it in deeper in the beast.>Slam [Crits 9+] [1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
The creature's fangs dig deep into Hugo's arm, forcing him to the ground. He manages to get his hands around it just long enough for Rough to slam the dagger all the way into its neck and through the front of its throat. >>704095
The bolt slams into it, knocking it off of Hugo. Hugo's hand shoots to his arm, covering it and applying pressure as best he can. He's still bleeding out from his shoulder, and weakly tries to stand.
You play an inspiring song, invigorating all of your party members. +1 to all rolls next turn
Slowly, the creature stands up just enough to turn toward the party. Its eyes study all of you, and after a moment it holds its claw out. Tears fall freely from its eyes, and its mouth moves as if it's trying to speak. An icy wind blows through the cave, swirling around its closed claw. The wind carries a single word.
Abraam collapses on the ground with his closed claw outstretched as if to hand you something. He's still breathing, but only barely.Roll #1 7 = 7
The jian hangs over Abraam, poised to strike at Yuenlong's command. The dragon surveys him with suspicion, silently looking to his companions to see what they do.
Hearing the loud thump echo above him, Upuaut burrows up, covered in dirt and clenching an arrow defensively. He gazes upon the beast for the first time and takes a step back,
"This clearly is the work of some evil."
Rough breathes deeply after slamming the dagger deeper into Abram, not moving as she hopes that did the trick. As he turns to the party crying, Rough feels guilt at her action, even despite the monstrous actions.
Looking down at his curled claw, Rough cautiously steps over to open it.
Hugo limps up beside you, holding his shoulder. "Reckon you ain't wrong," he says. "Evil worked on a desperate man." He bows his head and closes his eyes. "We should prob'ly end this 'fore we take the bodies back down the mountain. Y'all heard him.">>704101
The claw easily opens. There, at the center of his palm, is a single blue flower on an icy stalk.
Rough looks down at the icy flower, eyes tearing up.
"He went through all of this… I can't believe it.
She takes off her saddle, searching through it and fetching a container big enough to hold the flower so they can safely carry it down the mountain.
While she does so, she takes out a smaller vial and hands it to Hugo after putting the saddle back on.
"Here, this should help your shoulder.">Fortify Flesh [1d10]
"…Who was Constance?"Roll #1 10 = 10
Upuaut nods solemnly, taking his arrow and walking towards the corrupted creature,
"May your soul travel safely to what's beyond, and may your heart prove weightless."
Upuaut holds one arm up to the twisted monster, notches back an arrow, and fires it into it's jugular.
He nods, looking grim as he takes in the scope of the situation. He looks at the creature that was Abraam with pity. "A terrible curse for one so noble," he reflects. "You will be remembered for your great deeds, Abraam." Seeing Upuaut intending on landing the killing blow, he bows his head and plucks the first few notes of a funeral dirge.
Hugo takes the vial and knocks it back, giving Rough a nod of thanks. His pain seems to ease completely, and he closes his eyes again and takes a deep breath. A watery gleam sparkles at the edges of his eyes as he sees the flower. "The bastard actually managed it." He swallows. "His daughter," he croaks. "Constance was his daughter.">>704104
Your arrow fires straight into his throat. His body twitches once and falls lifeless.>>704105
Hugo bows his head and shudders as he tries to hold back a sob. "Damn right you'll be remembered. I'll make sure of it, Abraam. I'll make sure of it."
Rough wipes her eyes, the tears freezing on her eyelashes.
"He never forgot, even with what happened to him… I'm so sorry it had to be this way."
She says, mostly to Abraam's body.
"Let us hope his soul finds respite in the afterlife. Are we to carry the corpses of the fallen back to the village? I can bear one over my shoulder, or I could bury them here. They are of your fellowship, so it is your choice to make."
Hugo wipes his eyes with the back of his hand. "Just a shame it was too late," he says. He turns to Upuaut. "We can load them onto the sled. That's why we brought it. I'm damn well making sure he gets a proper funeral." He turns to look at the corpses around the fire. "Making sure they all do. We should just have to tie them down. The trip down the mountain should be a little easier than the way up."
Rough fetches the jar to help give them light as they retrieve the fallen villagers.
"He more than deserves it. They all do."
Upuaut nods again, going to Abraam and pulling the arrow from his throat, helping Hugo bring the bodies to the sled in pensive silence.
It takes a little bit, but the four manage to get the bodies loaded onto the sled, including the three skeletons. Now that you get a closer look, you see that the shape the Griffin's hand is in, and his position in the cave makes it look like he was probably the one who stabbed Abraam in the first place. With most of the ponies having bits of them missing, the sled is surprisingly light for having seven on it. Hugo pulls a canvas tarp and some rope out of one of the bags around the campfire and secures the small pile of bodies after covering them up.
As you descend back down the cave and exit, you see the snow has passed and the skies are now clear. As Hugo said, it only takes you an hour to make it back to town, even with the load. As you step within eyeshot of the longhouse window, you see the stallion from earlier staring out, as if waiting for you. At first he looks excited, but then he sees the sled behind Hugo and his face falls. Standing up, he shambles out of the building to meet you.
He stops in front of Hugo, who just gives him a small nod. His eyes well up, and his gaze turns to the sled again. "I was afraid this was the case," he said. "Mortar warned both them and us, but…" His words trail off and he shakes his head. "A fools errand, anyway, going up the mountain in winter. Seven good men, dead from a fool's errand." He sighs and turns back towards the large building. “Anyway,” he says. “I suppose you’ll be wanting payment, as promised. I already have it prepared inside. Hugo. Would you go speak with Cedar about preparing funeral arrangements?”
Hugo nods. Turning to the party, he gives a short, "Thank you." and walks away.
It's been four hours since your stagecoach left for Eisenstangen. The three of you, all meeting up with the same stallion for the same job, had all had to stop a town over to find a ride, as according to the stallion -a rail thin, grey earth pony who had introduced himself as Mr.Flue- nobody but those already in Eisenstangen seems willing to venture near the place.
Now, finally, the wall of stone buildings that makes up the outer city comes into view, and as you cross over from a dirt path into stone streets the air suddenly feels a little heavier. Though the midday sun hangs in the middle of the sky, once passing over into the city proper it hasn't seemed to do anything to assuage the cold, dank chill that lingers around you. Something about the air feels reminiscent of a small basement or wine cellar. Almost claustrophobic.
The faint clip clop of your stagecoach driver and his two worker's hooves resonate through the nearly empty streets. A severely disproportionate number of ponies meander about compared to the walls of buildings, and none seem to linger in one place long, moving as if they're in a hurry to get somewhere. While their actions imply urgency, however, their speed does not. Even watching in passing shows those actually in the streets are barely pulling themselves along on their gaunt, fatigued legs.
Finally, the stagecoach pulls to a stop. "This is it," Mr.Flue says, unyoking himself. His chest heaves, but he remains composed, smoothing his greasy, sweat-soaked mane with his hoof before opening the door to your coach. "City hall. Burgomaster Stone is expecting the three of you, and he'll explain the job in greater detail than I could."
The kirin made sure the large blade across his back was securely attached before stepping out of the coach and taking a moment, his lower jaw gently moving as he breathed under the mask that concealed his visage, the only visible part of his face at the moment as he scanned the area.
"The feeling of dread and looking for answers from the divine is palpable here." he said simply as he began to slowly make his way to the head of this town. He cast a glance at his companions before moving on.
Nepenthe stares out the stage coach window absent mindedly, eyes glazed over and occasionally humming a little under his breath. He breaks out of his reverie briskly as it stops. "Oh, yes, I see. Hm." He trots out and thanks Flue for the lift, looking around at the surroundings with a bit of a frown. Something feels wrong in this place.
"Burgomaster?" he parrots. "Is that a name or a title?" Regardless, he continues onward, pulling his scholarly robes about him and pausing for a brief moment to look up at the skies, as if expecting something to happen.
Mr.Flue sighs. "Yeah," he says. "Didn't always used to be like this. Used to be loads of hustle and bustle same as any city, but since -hell, plague, curse, whatever it is- folks ain't so keen on leaving their homes." He frowns and his eyes fall to the ground. "Folks thats left, anyways. Here's hopin you three can make things right again. Probably never the same, but-" He rubs the back of his neck. "But at least right.">>742249
"Title. Leader of the town." He lets out a dry chuckle and shakes his head, shutting the coach door behind you. "Though most of his family have been acting Burgomaster at one point or another. Almost may as well be a family name.">>742249>>742248>>742247
He leads the three of you to the building and opens the door, gesturing for the three of you to follow him in. "Burgomaster Stone!" he calls out. "It's Brass! Here with the folks you brought to deal with the problem!" He steps back outside, grumbling something about secretarying not being his job. Glancing up at each of you, he gives a brief nod and says, "Good luck. Hope you ate good before leaving."
Several bookshelves line the walls, presumably filled with current active records, and an empty desk with a bell on it sits in the middle of the room. The interior floor is covered in dark red carpeting save for a stone floor in front of a caged fireplace, over which hangs a picture of a jolly looking, severely overweight yellow unicorn with a black mane. In spite of the crackling fire, the interior doesn't seem much warmer than outside.
To your right a door creaks open and a weak, rhaspy voice draws your attention. "Finally," he says. As you turn to see him you're met by an emaciated yellow unicorn. Flaps of skin hang from his face and, in spite of his attempts to tighten his suit and breeches enough to hide the worst of it it, his body as well. "I put the job order out weeks ago. I was beginning to lose hope."
He hobbles over and sits in a chair behind the desk, gesturing to several waiting sofas behind you. "Please," he says. "Have a seat. Tell me a bit more about yourselves before I lay out the job. I don't want to ramble on about nothing and needlessly leave out useful information."
The masked kirin refrained from a remark as he felt it was not his place to make one as he decided to simply place his blade against his chair and took a seat "I am Scorched Earth, my home and my past are not something I desire to share at this moment. I accepted this job as I saw an oppurtunity to enact the work of the divine flame and cleanse this land of the taint that hurts those who dwell here and those whose worship goes interupted by it." he adjusted slightly in his seat as he kept his solemn tone.
"I see that it had carried on far longer than I had thought and for that I apologize for my not arriving sooner. I will seek to redouble my efforts to purge this threat."
"Ah," he says simply, and does not question it further.
He does a bit of a double take as he sees the fat unicorn in the picture, then the thin one in front of him. He is a bit disturbed by it, but is too polite to comment, given the circumstances.
"My name is Nepenthe," he says graciously with a bit of a bow. "Occultist, man of science, and scholar of the arcane and antediluvian. At your service. Rumors reached me of certain magics plaguing your town, and I took it upon myself to investigate further. I'm certain I can be of some use in sealing away whatever blights your lands."
Reverie seats herself in the sofa, reclining slightly, "Do you mind if I smoke in here?" Reverie asks, pulling a cigar from her satchel, "An anycase, it is my pleasure to meet you Bergomaster Stone, I am Reverie. Former woman of the faith, now an investigator in the matters of the paranormal. I've garnered expertise in the matter of hauntings and other supernatural occurrences through my research."
He nods and lets out an uncomfortable laugh, pulling a white handkerchief and dabbing at his already dry forehead. A habit, maybe? "Of course. Wouldn't ask you to divulge anything more than job relevant information. That shlould be more than enough, thank you. It's been nearly six weeks. Not a small amount of time, but also not a length I can lay too much blame on anyone for, dire cirumstances notwithstanding.">>742252
He smiles and nods to you in greeting. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr.Nepenthe. You certainly seem like someone up for the task.>>742253
He shakes his head. "Not at all, detective. Just don't burn or ash on the carpet, please." He hums. "Interesting. A detective of the supernatural."
"Wonderful," the stallion says. "This is wonderful. Perhaps this is why the response wasn't immediate. I'd half feared I'd end up sent a bunch of sellswords thinking they can just hack at our problem to make it go away, but the three of you seem to fit our needs almost ideally." His smile falls a little. "Now," he says. "On to the nasty business of the problem itself. I'll keep it as short as I can manage. I have reason to believe we've been cursed."
He clears his throat. "Six weeks ago the citizens of my town -myself included- started to notice certain… dietary peculiarities. It wasn't anything that bad at first. Mild loss of appetite. Nothing seemed particularly appealing. Just a 'I could go for something else' feeling. Problem was, there wasn't anything that actually seemed good. Still, we ate, and nothing seemed that strange."
"By the next day it was already worsening. Unanimous disinterest in eating. Some even experiencing active revulsion. It was around this time where some of us found ourselves unable to eat alltogether."
"It was the third day where things really started to get bad. That's when the hunger set in. Nothing like I'd ever felt in my entire life. A ravenous, all-consuming hunger that you feel all the way to your bones. You feel empty. Hollow. So, we ate. We ate, and we ate, but the hunger didn't go away."
"The fourth is when the vomiting began. No longer could we even try to stem the pain, because the moment we swollowed it would come right back up. The next day we couldn't even swollow. And the day after… well, I don't suppose the cravings are important to discuss. Now, we are all cursed with constant starvation and are, for the most part, completely incapable of swallowing. As far as I know there's only one pony in town who, for whatever reason, is still capable of eating."
"I have reason to believe it has something to do with our decision to open that damn prison back up. That place should have been demolished decades ago, but I let my advisors convince me that it's old enough to be a tourist attraction. I don't know how or why, but it's the spirits in the prison causing this. The ponies who died in the riot that closed the place fifty years ago. Over three dozen prisoners and a dozen and a half guards were killed, and they're angry."
"Perhaps some demon or spirit of gluttony has taken refuge." he said using his own basic knowledge of these things to speculate "Other than that I cannot fathom a proper guess as to the cause aside from those spirits whose anger at starving has kept them from making the trip to the afterlife." he drawled quietly
"But that does explain your rather malnourished physique."
He raises his eyebrows. "Fascinating. A hunger that can't be sated. This sounds like the work of a curse. I've heard of certain ghosts in the East inflicting similar afflictions, I believe…" He tries to recall whether he's right about this, and if he knows anything that might be relevant to the situation in general.>Esoterica: Nepenthe is a master of the mystic arts. He is attuned to the presence of all sorts of magics, and can roll to try and detect traces of such in an area, as well as generally roll to recall relevant information on the subject.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
"Well while curses are not my expertise, trying to quell the dead are. Should they need to be laid back to rest through appeasement or by force, it seems a task that's doable. Were all those subject to prison sentenced to life?"
He manages a weak chuckle. "Yes," he says. "I'd been meaning to drop a few pounds, but I'd hoped it'd be during better circumstances, and perhaps not quite so quickly." He shakes his head. "I don't claim to know why or how it's happening. That's just my speculation, but the place itself is damned, and the time lines up. One thing is for sure, starvation isn't how any of those men -prisoner or guard- died. Swords, axes, arrows, one was even burned to death, but all more violent than starvation.">>742256
It definitely seems like a curse.>>742257
He shakes his head. "It was before my time, but from the records we held prisoners of all walks of life. Some petty thieves, smugglers, a couple of murderers and gangers. The gangers are actually who led the riot. We'd just accepted a transfer of their boss thinking we had it handled, but through some kind of error or ineptitude he'd been left entirely unguarded. Lot of good it did him. He was one of the prisoners killed."
He keeps wracking his brain trying to think of something.
"I imagine you've tried putting the city guard to the task of storming the bastille," he pipes up. "How did it pan out if so? Any knowledge gleaned?"Roll #1 8 = 8
"Are those records still accessible? I do prefer to do as much research as possible, though I will hasten the process given the urgency required for this task."
He nodded "How many survivors who might have had the capability to cause such a curse to come about were left from the riot?"
"We've tried. But the men who entered were not the same men who came back out. We sent three guards in, and all three were affected differently. One had to be physically restrained and, incidentally, imprisoned. It seemed he'd been entirely consumed with blind rage. Attacked anyone he'd seen on sight in a fit of anger. Another came out a sobbing mess, gibbering about crippling loneliness. The last hasn't said or done anything. Completely catatonic. The last two are at the hospital being cared for by the only one unaffected by the curse. Nurse Silver Needle." He leans in and looks around before whispering, "You don't think she might be causing this, do you? A witch?"
Something does come to mind. The Curse of the Hollow. Typically placed by a vengeful spirit. Either the spirit needs to be destroyed, laid to rest, or the curse allowed to run its course to end.>>742260
"I believe we have some simple records, yes. I'd have to dig them up. Lists of those that died in the riot, a full list of prisoners and their infractions, a full list of guards. Anything more is likely still in the prison. Were you looking for something specific?">>742261
"Well, this was fifty years ago, so I'm not even sure how many are alive now. We stopped keeping records of them when they were transferred out."
He doesn't seem very fazed by the news. "Unlikely," he replies. "More likely it is being caused by a particularly wrathful revenant haunting the place. Were there any prisoners of notably nefarious renown in custody?">>742260
He clears his throat to get your attention. "Miss Reverie, I am starting to put together some scantling of a theory. Does the event known as a Curse of the Hollow hold any meaning to you?"
I see, so potential outside forces may also be in play with this situation. That is something that may be very useful depending on the evidence we may uncover." he said "Regardless, the cause and the curse shall be purged and with little mercy for those who show no remorse."
"Perhaps? I would beg your pardon, most of my knowledge is investigating that of the nature of a death and putting spirits at ease, not curses that spirits may give." Reverie puffs from her cigar that she must have found time to light during this conversation, rubbing her chin and turning to Stone,
"Those that died please, if you would. It makes it easier for me to identify corpses and piece together what has happened. The last thing I would want to do is mistake a dead guard for a rioter who donned their armor, or vice versa."
"Ah. Allow me to explain. A Hollow Curse is a rare event in which a wrathful spirit places a malediction on those it believes to have wronged it. It can manifest in all manner of symptoms, but the only way to lift such a curse is to destroy the spirit, or complete its wishes and lay it to rest. Of course, you could also allow the curse to tire itself out, but that can take months, years, even decades or centuries. Not a particularly viable option. Either way. It appears that some purification of the prison ruins will be in order. I for one am excited. I haven't had an opportunity to do such before!"
He lets out a long, relieved breath. "Good," he says. "Envious though I am, I've known here since I was a young colt. She's always been a sweet old mare." He pushes his chair out and stands. "Give me just a moment. There were over a hundred prisoners at the time, and I hadn't thought about it as anything more than the town's history up until all of this, so I don't know any besides the absolute worst from memory. I know we held Beadle the Butcher, a notorious griffin clergyman-cum-serial killer that preyed upon the homeless seeking refuge. Great White, a drug smuggling and mass murdering hippogriff/shark sea pony who killed thirty guards before he was finally detained, Mouldering Spine, a zebra warlock kidnapper and child murderer who decided occult research and appeasement of his god was more important than the lives of twelve innocent colts, fillies, and chicks, and then there was the last. The guy who organized the riot. Probably heard of him. Marcio Mascarpone. Huge crime boss back in the day. Killed the sisters know how many guards, ran a drug and
sex trafficking ring, and worse. He was slated for execution before the breakout." >>742264
He gives you a warm smile. "Thank you, Mr.Earth.">>742265
"Ah, yes. I can get you a list of the dead. It's not short, but I suppose you can sort through it relatively easily." He falls silent for a second. "There were also around a dozen escapees. I suppose that's important as well if you're investigating outside sources?"
Listening to the description of some of the names and the crimes that came with them, he gave a noise of disgust. "The stench of sin upon that place is mighty. You were wrong not to level it and have it cleansed by priests." he said letting the venom he felt for those disgusting individuals practically drip from his tone.
He purses his lips as he rattles off the names of the various inmates in the prison. "Seems we'll have our work cut out for us clearing all those wretched ghosts. No surprise they'd work together to bring ruin to this place."
"Would you happen to have any maps or blueprints of the place? It would help greatly to know the layout of it all before venturing in. Additionally, is there anything we should know or anyone else we should speak to before we explore the place?"
"Incredibly, my first guess would be the nurse having ancestry with one of said escapees. Still, I will make no assumptions that won't help in the investigation. Unrelated, is there one source of drinking water in the community?"
He shakes his head. "Yeah, I don't think I am wrong. The city hasn't been doing great lately -that's why we were going to open the place up as a tourist attraction. Folks love the macabre, after all- but in all honesty if I had it my way the eyesore would have been gone years ago and only the plaque honoring the guards who lost their lives would remain.>>742269
"Yes! Blueprints wouldn't be hard to come by. I think I know just where to find them." He thinks for a moment before shaking his head. "Off the top of my head? No.">>742270
"It's possible. I never looked into Ms.Needle's past. Never needed to, so I don't know." He nods. "Yes. The water is led in through a nearby river and purified before being sent to homes and pumps throughout the city. Why?"
He nodded then paused "You said the riot was 50 years ago yes, is it not also possible that this nurse may have been in the prison at the time? Perhaps she was kind to some of the inmates whose spirits still dwell within?" he said speculating somewhat.
He knits his brow and thinks for a moment before shaking his head. "She's old, but she's not that old. She's in her sixties, I think, so she must've been maybe ten at the time? Just a filly. If you want to talk to her yourself she's likely at the hospital. It's not far from here."
"Hm. Well, if you could bring those to us, it would be a great help. I think the best course of action from here would be to speak to this nurse, see what she knows, then sojourn into the prison ruins for ourselves and record our findings. Is there anything else we should know?">>742270>>742272
"Would you agree with this plan, associates?" he asks, turning to the others.
"I have to ask after solving a town's haunting after having them abstain from a tainted water supply, pardon for the odd question." Reverie waves a hoof, "Any try to leave town when the curse began? Or entered after it began? A few more misc questions to sate my curiosity, if you have the health to continue with questioning.">>742274
"I suppose that would be the best course of action, I can look over records while we're there."
Perhaps a guard was her parent? I am simply speculating.">>742274
That seems the most logistical path for the moment so I agree with it."
He gives a dismissive wave. "Think nothing of it. I can still talk at least, and anything that'll help is worth a little fatigue, yes? It seems those who enter town feel the effects of the curse, but when they leave it quickly subsides. Citizens trying to leave, however…" He sighs and hangs his head. "It gets worst faster. Most that left ended up coming back. I haven't heard from the rest.">>742274
"Right. Be right back." He continues into the next room. After a second you hear some shuffling boxes, a loud thunk
, a crash, and what sounds like the hiss of papers sliding across the floor. "I'm fine!" his weak, strained voice assures you from the other room. After a few more seconds, he hobbles back out into the entryway holding a two large, dusty looking rolled up pieces of paper. "Here we are," he says. "Blueprints for both the main level and the bottom level.">>742276
"Perhaps. I can't imagine there isn't a reason, I'm just not studied enough to begin to speculate why."
He stood on his hooves and used his horn to put his blade back onto his back as he creaked and his joints audibly cracked a bit as he limbered himself up "Thank you. I shall endeavor to end this curse as fast as I am able."
"Capital!" he proclaims. "I'm glad we're making such quick progress.">>742277
He frowns. "Are you okay back there?" he asks. "…I would've been happy to help. But thank you. I'll study these posthaste." He nods in gratitude and takes the blueprints, unfurling one to examine. "Do you mind if I hold on to them for later reference?"
"I wouldn't accept any pace. The amount of suffering currently going on means I may not be able to go as in depth with research as I'd like to, but it still is a matter in which I feel some confidence in solving.">>742277
"Interesting, once I have my records, I believe we'll be on our way then. Would you like for me to grab them instead, and save your energy?"
Expediency is a necessary asset for this mission to succeed."
After handing off the blueprints, he walks over to the bookshelf and pulls one of the books from the bottom. Flipping through it, he carries it back over. "And here we are. A list of those who died in the riot. Guards and prisoners alike, along with the prisoners crimes."
For the most part none stand out to you. Many of the prisoners were killed by sword and spear wounds or arrows, and a number of the prisoners killed were run of the mill hard-timers. A large number are due to bludgeoning, as are the deaths of nearly half the guards. The other guards deaths are just listed as 'mauling'.
Some of the prisoners, however, do stand out. Along with Mascarpone, two more of the major killers Stone mentioned are listed. It appears Mascarpone was rather anticlimactically killed by a crossbow, Beadle was hacked apart with an axe, and, finally Spine was the one he'd mentioned that had been burned alive. Alongside them, it appears there are notes next to several of the deaths listing them as members of Mascarpone's gang.
"Oh," he says. "I did find one other thing. It appears I was mistaken. While a dozen did escape, it seems all but one were later detained by either guards or bounty hunters. A former shop owner and small time fence by the name of Silver Scales. Probably a dead-end there, I guess.">>742279
"Oh, no, I'm fine." He starts off chuckling, but breaks into a coughing fit. After catching his breath, he says, "Hardly an invalid. Just dropped some boxes. I'll clean them up later, when I get some energy back.">>742278
He nods. "Thank you," he says. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
The fact their name is Silver and the fact that the Nurse also has a name with Silver is a rather interesting coincidence no?" he said noting it
"Perhaps it is just so but it is something I find to have piqued my curiosity."
He seems to have to think about it for a moment, but finally lets out a quiet, "Huh. Silver isn't an uncommon name, but I suppose it's rather interesting that one of the former inmates share a name with the only unaffiliated citizen."
"Quite. As much as I'd like to stay and investigate the fell happenings here, lives are at stake. We mustn't linger here any longer than we have to.">>742282
He grimaces at the descriptions of some of the inmates' deaths. "Getting shot with a crossbow isn't so anticlimactic," he points out. "I once heard of a great and wealthy lord that was killed with a crossbow while on the privy."
"I digress. We have work to do. If there's nothing else we ought to know, I suppose we'll be off to have a chat with this nurse then."
Reverie jots some notes in her note books relating to the deaths with a stub of a pencil, looking up to Nepenthe, "Then let us be off, no time like the present."
"Just so. Tempus fugit
, as they say."
Scorched nodded and motioned for the others to lead the way for now.>>742284
Indeed it is."
He just stands and waits rather awkwardly. He seems to have been expecting someone else to lead the way.
Reverie stops nursing the cigar with her hoof and places it in her mouth, guiding the two stallions onward.
Scorched followed her closely for now, saying a few quiet words under his breath as he prayed for the upcoming battles.
Looking over the blueprints shows you there are two real levels to the prison. The main door leads into what looks like a visiting and check-in area. Only one door leads to the main part of the prison proper. Once inside, half of the first floor is filled with cells, while the other half seems to be various other rooms, presumably processing, interrogation, armory, and other boring things. Each half is separated by a large stone wall, and only two doors on either side lead to the upper cell block. At the corner of the cell block a stairwell leads down into the lower cell block.
The second floor is made up almost entirely of cells, ringing the whole floor save for a large room at the very back. At the very back, there seems to be some kind of series of rooms half the size of normal cells that are just empty spaces, but there isn't really any indication of their use. Also assume there's a kitchen somewhere.>>742285
"Well, I suppose I wouldn't know. I just know he organized the whole thing, so to let himself get taken out like that seems a little-" he shrugs. "Amateur?">>742288>>742289>>742290
He waves to you as you leave. "Thank you all again. And good luck."
Following the directions he gave you to the hospital, you arrive in minutes. Even from outside you can hear the sound of pained groans and sobbing coming from all throughout. Once inside, you're greeted by a sickly looking young pegasus sitting at a desk. She frowns and looks you over. "Good evening," she says. "If you haven't reached autophagia yet I'm afraid we can't spare the space. Do any of you have any urges to bite into yourselves?"
It takes him a moment to realize people are leaving, but falls quickly in line behind the others, following them on.>>742292
"I imagine he didn't really have a choice in the matter," he says with complete earnesty.
He goes over the maps and nods satisfiedly, tucking them away. "We'll be back as soon as we know something."
"Oh, we're from out of town," he tells the receptionist. "My name is Nepenthe, and these are my companions. We're looking for a nurse Silver Needle to aid our inquest into the happenings at the local prison."
Scorched paused and stared at the mare before deciding to try something. It likely wouldn't work but if it aided at all it might be worth trying.
"If you will, I wish to see if I may aid you in this work. with some of my magic, if you consent of course."
"Perhaps I shouldn't overcrowd the hospital, given you two already plan to press questions towards the nurse. I imagine the addition of myself won't add much more to questioning." Reverie says to the other two, looking sympathetically at the receptionist.
She sneers at the name and almost looks like she's going to spit, but nods. "Nurse Needle is working with some patients for nutrient compositing right now, but she should be done in a few minutes.">>742294
She purses her lips and looks you over for a moment. "I've only seen a couple things work, and none of them are really pleasant. But hey, if you can find a volunteer that's getting tired of the pain from the nutrient compositing procedures then have at it.">>742295
She just shrugs.
He nodded and gently scanned the area for one he could attempt to aid in the nearby area, a rare tremble of fear shaking his otherwise solid form. He didn't wish to make it harder for anyone here.
After a few minutes a door opens down the hall and several frail, emaciated ponies with sunken faces walk out. The group is filled with all kinds and ages of ponies, from an elderly earth stallion all the way to a pegasus filly that doesn't look older than ten. Some of them sport bandages on different legs, and one of them -a middle aged pale blue earth mare- even has an entire leg bandaged up along with part of each of the others.
Behind them an elderly pale cream colored unicorn with a dark grey main in a tight bun steps out. She watches each of them limp away with a look of pained sympathy. Judging from the fact that, while she does seem haggard and malnourished, she isn't completely starving you have a reasonable guess that she's Silver Needle.
"Hm? Oh, if you like.">>742294
He blinks. "What did you have in mind?" he asks.>>742296
He frowns a little at her reaction. "Of course. We're happy to wait." He proceeds to sit down on a bench and do just that, seeing if there's a magazine or a copy of the local rag to keep himself busy in the meantime.>>742298
He then springs up as she enters. "Miss Needle, I presume. My colleague and I are conducting an unofficial inquiry of sorts into this town's affliction. May we have a moment of your time?"
Scorched decided to stop at the blue mare who seemed to be in a great deal of pain "If I may be so bold as to ask, would you like me to try and alleviate your suffering?" He said with a soft gentle tone though somehow managing to keep his solemn nature prevalent in his speech.
She looks you over with the stern skepticism of a teacher thinking you cheated on a test without proof. "Yes, I'm Nurse needle," she says. "It's impolite to state my name and then start questioning me without introducing yourself. But if you can help us gett through this… whatever it is then sure. I'll answer some questions. I can't imagine I'll be much help, though. I don't know any more about what's going on than anyone else.">>742300
The mare looks up at you with empty, tired eyes. Looking back at herself, her entire body shivers as she does everything she can to keep from breaking into sobs right there. "What do you think you can do?" she mumbles, both accusatory and, very faintly, a genuine bit of hope.
"Hm? Oh, apologies, where are my manners. My name is Nepenthe. I'm from out of town, as I said. We were wondering if you could help shed any light on the situation. We are planning on investigating the prison itself, but my companions and I thought it would be a good idea to ask around about any… familial connections to the place." He lets that hint linger and allows Scorched and Reverie to take the reins for questioning.
He nodded and sighed as he began to focus his magic as best as he could, ready to redeploy his magic onto himself is something went wrong.
>Protect on mare
[1d10] PurifyRoll #1 5 = 5
The mare snorts and turns her nose up. "No connections you'll find in the prison," she says. "My father was an inmate back in the day, before it closed. Nobody seems to care these days, but it isn't really much of a secret. Used to be big talk. Silver Scales of the local general store fencing stolen goods for Mascarpone himself." She shakes her head. "Only had a couple of years left on his sentence, but I guess that was a couple years too long to spend for his family. Left as soon as he broke out, I assume. Last time I saw him was before the riot. Never even stopped to say goodbye. Why? You think that'd actually help?">>742580
She waits for a moment before her frown deepens. Her chest heaves a little as she stifles a sob, and just slowly shakes her head.
He blinks and makes a mental note of it. "We think there might be blood ties involved in this curse," he admits. "It might be a stretch, but it's worth following. I was told by the Burgomaster that you were the only one in town unaffected. If you could elucidate that in some way, any information we have would be most helpful."
He purses his lips and frowns as Scorched's magic does nothing to help. "Pity," he mumbles.
"I have no idea why. I've always gotten along with just about everyone in town for as far as I can remember up until recently. Now…" She trails off before finally sighing. "Well, I don't blame them for hating me. I can barely stomach eating seeing everyone else like this, but at least I can
eat, and I've seen what the cravings do to someone. I wish I could help more, but I'm doing all I can as it is."
He frowned and bowed his head softly "I am sorry I couldn't help more. I can try again if you wish." he said his own voice wavers a bit.
"No idea…" He looks perplexed. "And no one else at all in town is immune like you? That's very strange." He looks at her quizzically for an almost uncomfortable amount of time. >>742583>>742584
"………Well. Unfortunate that this was rather fruitless, but I'm sure we'll find answers in due time. Mr Earth, would you have any questions?…"
"No," she says, glaring back at him for the same uncomfortable amount of time. "I'm working myself ragged trying to help the afflicted. I sure hope you aren't implying I'm the cause.">>742584
She studies you for a moment, sighs, and says, "Sure. Go ahead. Not like I have anything to lose."
He looks a bit taken aback. "Of course not. That would be inconceivable. You're doing a wonderful service to this community. We're just trying to get to the bottom of it all."
She actually seems a little embarrassed for a moment. "Alright," she says, looking away. "Sorry. I just-" She swallows. "You wouldn't be the first to make the accusation is all. I wish you the best of luck, and if there's any way I can help let me know, but I don't know much more than you do."
He shook his head and once again tried his magic ready to take any harm that may occur.
>Protect on mare
[1d10] PurifyRoll #1 8 = 8
She closes her eyes and, for a moment, a serene expression washes over her face. She cringes a little after, but gives you a small smile. "Ain't totally gone, but some of the pain is dulled I think I feel a little less empty. Thank you, stranger."
"I understand. It's all very mysterious. It seems we're all in the dark on this. Rest assured, as soon as we get to the bottom of it all, you'll be one of the first to know.">>742588>>742589
He looks a bit surprised that Scorched's spell actually worked, but keeps his thoughts on the matter to himself. "We'll be in touch," he assures Needle. "Until next time, good lady." He looks over to Scorched. "Shall we?"
He sighed in relief and nodded "Yes lets, I am not sure I can bear to see the suffering of the innocent for much longer. I am glad you feel better." he said turning back to the mare he helped.
The two of you step back outside the hospital where Reverie is patiently waiting.
"Anything helpful gleaned from the nurse? I didn't hear any more cries of pain than when we came here, so sounds like it went well," the begoggled donkey notes.
"Rather fruitless, I'm afraid," he sighs. "Her father served in the prison, but he didn't seem to be involved in the riot. She knows little more than we do about the curse, and why she's the only one unaffected. I suppose our only course of action now is to go there and see for ourselves…"
Reverie nods, "Let us be off then."
It seems I am able to mitigate the damage of the curse but ending it seems to be the only course we can take with lasting effects."
"Aye." He falls in line with the others to head to the prison, trying to wrack his brains to see if he can remember anything that might shed some light on the situation with Needle's immunity.
[1d10] EsotericaRoll #1 4 = 4
It takes ten minutes, but following the Borgermaster's directions you manage to make your way through the empty streets to the prison. You know you're getting close before it comes into sight by its aura alone. By the time you're halfway there it seems with each step your stomach seems emptier and emptier, and a sense of foreboding brushes the back of your necks.
When you actually arrive it's unmistakable. While the rest of the city is filled with normal sized buildings, all relatively standard and uniform in their architecture, the prison is a rectangular stone behemoth. Something about it is simultaneously gigantic and claustrophobic, and just looking at it makes you feel like if you get any closer you'll never break free. The surrounding buildings seem long since abandoned, likely way longer than the empty houses left by the curse. The skeletons of homes and businesses only seem to enhance the menace.
The cobble walkway leads to two large metal doors set into the stone, on which is a faded bronze plaque that you can't quite make out from where you stand.
Nothing seems to come to mind. For now it seems like her possible relation to whatever is going on is your best lead, but how it all fits together eludes you entirely.
Scorched inhaled for a moment before drawing his blade and starting for the door in silence. He was going to take point for this one and he might as well enter first.
He looks up at the sinister prison, looming over them like a guillotine. Despite his intimate knowledge of the occult, he can't help but feel intimidated by it. "…Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained!" he says, trying to remain cheery, and follows Scorched onward, stopping briefly to examine the plaque.
"Certainly atmospheric, let's hope we can solve this with haste, as to avoid more suffering on the town's part." Reverie takes up the rear, following her male counterparts onward.
It seems to be a plaque in respect for the guards who lost their lives in the riot. At the top it says "In honor of those who gave their lives protecting our safety", and lists each of their names below.>>742602>>742603>>742604
As you step inside, the entrance is rather simple. Several desks line the walls, presumably check-in desks, and on each still sit different binders full of paperwork. At the end of the room is only a simple wooden door, currently open. You can't make out much in the next room, but from what you can see it's rather large. At least as big as the room you're in.
DO we have any ideas on which area would be the ideal point for this curse to originate from?"
"I'm surprised it looks as if the carnage didn't even make it to the front entrance, I expected to see a mess everywhere, but things seem to at least be in place here." Reverie notes, her goggles glowing in the dark.>>742606
"Well if any of the prisoners had time to set up some type of rituals, they would have had to have done so in the cells, or at least made an entrance to a hideaway stemming from one. That's my guess, anyways."
"Hm. The damage doesn't look so bad from here," he remarks. "I believe the cells are in a general…"
He unfurls the blueprints to get a better sense of his location.
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 8 = 8
Looking at the blueprints, you see that through the door is a large atrium that wraps around the room you're currently in, to the west a row of rooms, and to the east, through barred doors, the first cell block.
"Aha. We need only go through the door and to the east. Er, right. Be alert. There could be anything lurking in this fell place."
Despite his directions, he heads off to the west first, towards the unmarked rooms, curious to see what lies there first.
A sound observation.">>742609>>742610
He nodded as he inhaled and exhaled sharply before moving in lockstep with the crystal pony.
As you make your way into the next room, the temperature seems to drop several degrees. While there is barely any natural light in the room you're in, you can still make out several brown stains on the floor near the entrance alone. On the wall behind you are a couple of unlit torches.
To your right is a long wall, and several feet away you can just barely see a rusted barred door set into the stone. Beyond the first ten feet of the room, you can barely make out anything and, while knowing for the most part where the rooms are, you can't see them through the curtain of black.
Through the bars, however, you think you can make something out. A faint pinprick of pale blue light.
He shivered and did his best to calm himself as he scanned the area. "The evil in this place is palpable."
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
"I wouldn't exactly call it palpable, I've dealt with palpable evil before. This is more of an ominous, semicoporeal evil." Reverie peers onward, not yet exploring the glowing blue room.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
"Quite so," he says, agreeing with Reverie. "I believe this would be classified as an ineffable presence."
He joins Reverie in pushing on for now, and coming back to the glow in a moment.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Scorched grunted in response as he pulled a torched from his pack and lit a match before trying to get the torch lit to give them some more light.
You can't quite seem to make anything out through the darkness.>>742614
Squinting long and hard, you can make out four doorways. From the look of it, two are either open or missing, and two are closed. The wall of doors seems to continue further than you can actually make out.>>742615
As you stare into the blackness a hollow pit seems to open up in your stomach. You feel something wet on your face, and, upon inspection, notice that for some inexplicable reason tears fall freely from your eyes, blurring your vision some. An ineffable loneliness creeps through your entire being, and suddenly your body feels incredibly heavy.
>Roll will save
He falters, struggling to maintain his sanity when faced with this sudden crushing weight…>Emotional Resonance: passive; Crystal Emotions now offers a +2 bonus for your next turn at the cost of suffering a -1 penalty on a critical fail.
[1d10-1] Will SaveRoll #1 9 - 1 = 8
"Four doorways ahead, I do think it would be good to do as much investigation as possible before confronting the spirits head on." Reverie notes, "As long as they're not being outright hostile to us, we should try to collect more information into the nature of the haunting. If there are indeed spirits here, it will help to know more about the prison and perhaps who they are in order to reason with them more." Reverie says, looking back to the others.
As quickly as the feeling came it fades, leaving behind nothing but a pale imitation of the all encompassing isolation. Your stomach grumbles.>>742616
Your torch ignites without any issues, casting a faint orange glow that's plenty enough to see by ten feet all around you.
He welcomed the glow with some grunt of satisfaction.>>742618
He raised a brow at the sudden change in his allies stance "Is all well?"
He quickly regains his composition, straightening out his robes. "Ahem. For a minute there, I lost myself." He peers through the darkness and sticks close to Scorched's torch, moving a bit further into the room to try and see if he can find something of note.>Esoterica: Nepenthe is a master of the mystic arts. He is attuned to the presence of all sorts of magics, and can roll to try and detect traces of such in an area, as well as generally roll to recall relevant information on the subject.
"I think they're quite aware of our presence already," he comments, "and they don't seem happy about it. I felt the most peculiar wave of… well, I'm not really sure. Ennui? Despair? The word eludes me to describe it. Quite queer. And dangerous. Be on your guard, friends."Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"I've yet to feel something similar, did you preform any actions that would've led to such a thing happening?">>742620
Cautious due to Nepenthe's worries, Reverie moves forward to check out one of the closed doors ahead.
"Naught but looking into yonder blackness." He points into the corner from where the feeling seemed to emanate. "Avert your eyes."
As you make your way through the atrium you can tell that this is a large part of where the battle took place. Judging by the blueprints, the cells funnel right into here, so it's likely this is where the guards make their last stand, and not the first room. As you try to get a sense of arcane presence, a series of emotions cycles through you, though doesn't threaten to consume you as before. Loneliness. Fury. Betrayal. Regret. And, above all else, fear. They linger in the air around you like motes of dust. >>742621>>742622>>742623
As you make your way toward the doors, you can see the first two doors are completely destroyed, like someone tore them off their hinges, while the second two are still closed. You can't make out what's inside, but you can just barely make out something on the floor in front of the door. As you get closer, you see it's a face-down, open leather bound book similar to what you'd seen on the desks in the last room.
Scorched moves along with the donkey, checking the doors on the other side and using his torch to help illuminate.>>742622
Scorch quickly moved to the book, knocking it open, raising his torch ready to burn it if any curse attempted to leap out of it at the group.
Nothing happens. The pages on the inside are faded, and it's currently too far away to really read, but it looks like a list.
"What's in the tome?" Reverie asks, not caring to peek herself but curious all the same
His expression darkens as he realizes where he's standing. "Be… Be aware," he says out of the blue, sounding more somber than usual. "This must be where many guards lost their lives. It would explain the… the feeling I had just before. This place is mired in fear and rage."
He lets them pore over the book and moves a bit further on, peering into the darkness through the obliterated doors.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
He moved down to try and read it so he could make out the list. "A list of some sort."
"Official looking, or scrawled by an inmate?"
Trying to ascertain that."
Seems it's a record of the prisoners. The right page says; "Solitary:A:
Each is blank. The left page, you see, has the names of each of the prisoners and their cell number.>>742630
Beyond the door the book was in front of you can see a room of overturned bookshelves, each with similar books. It's safe to assume this was the room they kept records in. The other door has a completely destroyed desk, split in half and overturned. Its surface is scarred with cuts and holes. The bits of what seem like two chairs lay scattered across the floor, and on one side of the room a metal ring juts from the ground. Interrogation, from the look of it.
Seems official. Its a list of who was in which solitary cell in this hellish place."
"I want to find Silver's then, since he's the only one who seems to have made it out alive. Could they have perhaps revisited?"
COrrect that to))
"It seems to be a manifest of prisoners along with their locations in the prison. Quite useful actually."
He grimaces at the sight of the latter. "Charming." Despite himself, he can't resist poking around for clues inside the interrogation room for anything more of interest.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
As luck would have it, Silver's cell is actually on the first level. Row three, cell four.>>742638
As you step inside and look around, something seems odd about the carnage. From the shapes of the gashes, it seems like it might have been done by the same weapon striking it repeatedly. Perhaps out of anger? Looking at the bits of the door, they have matching gashes that you recognize as marks from an axe. That, along with the destroyed chairs and lack of any bloodstains in the room itself, almost make it seem like the room was destroyed out of anger and not in the battle.
Hanging on the wall as you go to walk out is a dusty, pitted key ring.
"Row three Cell four on this level." he said taking the book and offering it to Reverie with a small grunt.
"This would be better served with you than me."
He takes in the details, rather nonplussed by what he's found. Another piece of the puzzle, but none of them fit yet.
He notices the key ring, and brightens up a little. "Capital!" he exclaims, and takes it without a second thought.>>742637>>742636
"Good news, everyone! I've found a key ring!" He shows the rusted array of keys proudly. "It should be much easier to explore this place with this. Provided none of the keys are rusted enough to snap in the lock. …Which is more than likely, come to think of it. Ahem."
Reverie nods, "Evidence is evidence." Let's fetch Nepenthe and-">>742641
"Ah, good to hear. We've found a listing of every prisoner's cells, I want to see if Silver ever returned to his cell after he escaped." Reverie says, starting to head in the direction as she chats.
"Lead on!" he says, feeling much more confident and cheerful after his discovery.
The three of you make your way back to the barred door leading to the first cell block. The once faint pinprick is a little larger, and seems like it's slowly shambling closer. A faint whisper echoes through the cell block, but have to strain to make out what it's actually saying. Just looking at the pale blue figure brings back the melancholic feeling that overtook Nepenthe, albeit in fainter waves for now. The barred door is locked.
Scorched turned his head slightly, ensuring his mask was still firmly on as he tried to understand the noises.
[1d10] Perception.Roll #1 5 = 5
"we should make haste."
Reverie says, picking up her pace as they move onward.
[1d10] percepRoll #1 3 = 3
He freezes in place a little as he feels that sensation again. He doesn't unlock the door just yet, forcing himself to put one foot in front of the other and try to comprehend the blue glow.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
You can't really make out the whispers to begin with. As the figure advances, the details start to become a little clearer. At first, you can tell it's in the shape of a pony. Then, after a couple more steps, you can tell it's a unicorn. In place of eyes, the pale blue glow is pierced by an inky void, surrounded by a tight, skull-like face. It stands on rail-thin legs that look as if they're going to give out beneath it, and, behind ribs that practically pierce through its body, you can make out a bulbous distended stomach. It sobs and opens its mouth, reaching out to you with a quivering hoof. It mouths something, but only Scorched manages to make it out. >>742645Please come back.
A faint breeze and the figure fades away. At the same time, Scorched's torch flickers out, leaving you in total blackness.
>Roll will save
He looked around and tried to find where it went as his entire body quaked.
[1d10] Will SaveRoll #1 3 = 3
He barely has time to process what just happened before the figure vanishes, along with the torch. He tries to brace himself mentally…
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
>>742649>Unbreakable Will: passive; Famously stubborn, donkeys are immune to mind control, domination, intimidation and suggestion.
Reverie stands stubbornly, tilting her head and inspecting the ghost.
"Are you one of the prisoners? Or someone else?"
>Commune: spell; Ask the dead for aid. The better you roll, the more helpful they are. Crit fail summons a hostile undead.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
You gaze into the darkness ahead and see nothing. Whatever it was is gone for now. A tremor runs through you, and, dispite your companions on either side of you, you feel complete isolation. Please, you repeat in your head. Come back. But you know you're alone. The your face feels a little damp.
Your stomach gurgles as a sharp pang shoots through it.>>742651
You feel like you're about to lose yourself again, but you manage to keep your wits. It's still dark, but whatever was there is gone now.
You also feel a sharp pain in your stomach, worse than the grumbling emptiness you'd felt earlier.>>742652
Nothing. Complete silence. Scorched lets out a quiet sob.
The Kirin held his stomach and leaned on a wall for a moment as he let his blade drop with an audible clang.
He needed a moment to recover as he leaned on the wall panting and fighting back further sobs.
He holds his head, feeling faint, reeling for a moment with an audible groan. He takes a moment to recover, trying to stay optimistic and force down the ache in his gut. >>743076>>742652
"W-well, that was quite something." He forces a smile. "How's everyone holding up? Shall we continue?"
Seeing her temporary ally fight back the well of emotions that comes from the terror of being exposed to such a manifestation of hopelessness, Reverie comes to his side, rubbing his scaled back. "You're safe, deep breaths now. Just focus on breathing.">>743077
Reverie looks up from her position, "It's fascinating, but I'm fortunate to have a natural predisposition towards shrugging off supernatural effects, at least mental ones. Still, I empathize towards what you two may have to go through." She looks back down to Scorched.
"Lucky you," he chuckles. "I just tell myself this too shall pass. If only it would pass sooner…"
The feeling slowly fades, leaving you feeling
a little numb. Still, for the most part you manage to catch your breath and recover.>>743076>>743077
The pain in your stomach dulls a little, but it's still an unmistakable feeling. You're uncomfortably hungry.>>743078
While the mental assault seems to be unable to pierce your iron will, you, too, feel a little peckish. It's not much of a stretch to guess the curse is taking hold.
He clutches his stomach, trying and failing to resist the urge to eat something. He digs around in his saddlebag and takes a few bites of bread before forcing himself to continue onward. "N-no sense in dawdling, yes?"
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
"There is sense in it if we've yet to fully recover, the last thing we need is to venture onwards panicked and distracted." She watches Nepenthe eat, "Ah, the curse has already taken hold in you as well? I've just begin to notice my own hunger."
"Hm? Oh, forgive me, I lost my manners." He offers to share the loaf of bread.
Reverie holds up her hoof, "We already know it won't do much to help. If you take comfort in it, feel free to eat as much as you desire."
"I know I shouldn't," he confesses, "but…" He takes another bite, then forces himself to put it away.
Scorched gave a thankful nod and just carried on in silence for now glad his mask hid his face more than before.
You can't see anything through the darkness. With the torch out and the light gone, the most you can make out is the stone a few feet away from the entrance. You chew the bread. And chew. And chew. Something isn't right. It's like you're trying to swallow something twice as large as your throat. Still, after some effort, you finally manage to swallow it. The pain is dulled further, an afterthought for now, but you're still hungry.>>743086>>743084>>743083
It's still cold and dark, but for now everyone seems to be as composed as they're going to get.
"Now then, we're here to end this town's suffering, let is push forward with renewed strength."
Reverie makes to start exploring again, heading back in the direction of Silver's cell.
[1d10] passive perceptionRoll #1 2 = 2
Scorched sighed once more and did is best to try and find the next direction they should go.
[1d10] Perception.Roll #1 4 = 4
Scorched also took a moment to relight his torch with his matches as he looked around.
He scrunches up his nose and gags at the unpleasantness of it all, squinting through the gloom. "Would anyone care to risk a little more light?…"
[1d10] Perception againRoll #1 2 = 2
The three of you can't seem to find anything of note in the complete darkness of room. Feeling around, you can't seem to actually get any kind of bearings on where you actually are or which way you're even facing in the large empty room.
Once Scorched relights his torch, on the other hand, it's a good bit easier to tell where you're headed. There are three rows of cells, each on a different face of the wall. Silver's cell, as described by the book, is the fourth in row three. The very end of the bottom row.
You make your way over to the cell, getting a peak at the other open cells along the way. Each one has the cell in disarray, but as you get to Silver's it's the worst.
It's been completely ransacked. The cot in the corner has been completely chopped apart, a writing desk has been overturned, and even places in the stone wall and floor have huge gashes in them.
"Someone has clearly been here before. Or something…"
He blinks at the state of it. "It's as if they tore the place apart. Perhaps searching for something?"
He examines the gashes in the stone, slightly disturbed that something could have the force to do that, before moving on to look around the cell a bit more closely for any clues.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 6 = 6
"Spirits being angered at them escaping while they were trapped here, perhaps?"
[1d10] percepRoll #1 3 = 3
The three of you look the room over, turning over the destroyed bed, searching through the remains of the rotten and broken desk, and checking out the cuts in the wall and floor. From what Nepenthe can tell, they're identical to the axe gashes in the interrogation room.
At first it seems like you aren't going to find anything else useful, then something slips out of the desk, hidden in a long since destroyed and rotted compartment. A dusty, yellowed envelope.
Scorched levitated it over and offered it to one of the others to read as he turned to watch for any potential foes.
Reverie adjusts here goggles and reads it, the soft blue glow shedding dim light over the paper.
The front of the envelope reads "Silk Suture" in neat hoofwriting. You open it and start reading.My Dearest Silky,
The past week has been an emotional roil. I'm having a difficult time deciding how I'm feeling about how things are unraveling, but I'm trying with every fiber of my being to remain cautiously optimistic. With that said, I have some terrifying news, some good news, and some bad news.
I'll start with the bad news. Anvil says Mascarpone and some of his gang were apprehended and are being transferred here pending trial. This should be good, but I imagine it goes without saying what that means for me. I think he found out about me helping find him.
This would have me a trembling mess if it wasn't for the second bit of information. Anvil says he should be able to get me moved to a prison further north for the remainder of my sentence. This means you and Silvy likely won't hear from me again for a couple of years —maybe even less if all goes well— but it also means by the time I'm free I won't have anything else to worry about. By then Mascarpone will probably have long since taken the drop he deserves.
The terrifying news is; Anvil doesn't have proof, but he thinks Warden Blackiron is corrupt and in league with Mascarpone. Nothing concrete, but he thinks something big is going to happen in the next couple of days. For this reason he's agreed to deliver this letter in person. He says he knows how he'll keep me safe until he can complete the paperwork, but hasn't actually told me how yet.
I'd expected Anvil of all ponies to hate me for what I'd done, and for a time I think he did. I don't blame him. His best friend going behind his back and working with a heinous criminal, no matter the severity or reason, is no small betrayal. Still. Without his help I'd likely be dead within the week.
Should something go wrong, Sisters forbid, look under the floorboards behind the counter of the general store. Every bit I made working for Mascarpone is in a tightly sealed steel box. It's no excuse, but I'd hoped we could use it to move out of this forsaken pit and give Silvy somewhere nice to grow up. Both the key and ownership of the store are willed to you and Silvy.
You and Silvy are my world, and I'll wait as long as it takes. Tell Silvy daddy loves her. I love you, Silky.
- Silver Scales
Reverie regails the listed information to the others, offering her opinion after, "Well the bits we can inform Silver of when we're done, or if we're not payed for our services, but this does give clues to why there is favoritism in the curse."
"Indeed it does." he said simply as he kept scanning the area.
In addition as you read it back to everyone else, anyone who read the records or the plaque out front would recognize a name. Incus Anvil was the former guard captain, and one of the casualties of the riot.
He purses his lips as he hears the letter. "It does make more sense, yes. If nothing else we should deliver this to Silver once we're done."
He keeps looking for anything more.
He suddenly does a double take. "You're not actually suggesting we steal the money for ourselves?" he says incredulously.Roll #1 8 = 8
"If we are not paid for our services yes." Reverie says flatly.
"I am not fond of this conversations direction. If we are paid for our services we are paid, but we aren't thieves."
Reverie shrugs, "Nonetheless, our services are the pressing matter." She looks out of the cell, "There's more investigating to do."
"I'll have no part in that. Helping these wretches and having a chance to study the wyrd at work is its own reward," he replies disapprovingly.>>743106
"Just so. We'd be no better than the inmates that cursed this place."
It doesn't seem like there's anything else of note in the cell. Glancing back down at the blueprints, you take note that what you have left of the prison are
The rest of the rooms near the entryway. Judging by the first couple it mostly seemed like bureaucracy stuff, but it's possible the keys you found could open the locked doors without any trouble.
The rest of the top floor cells. From what you understand this is where the less dangerous inmates were kept.
A stairwell leads to the lower level with way more cells, more dangerous inmates the deeper into the prison you went until finally, in the depths of the prison's bowels, was the questionable room you can now safely assume is solitary.
"I suppose surveying the bureaucratic area would be a good next step before we move to the more direct center of violence."
"Fair reasoning, onto more paperwork."
Reverie heads back to the entryway.
"Sound reasoning. We should pay the solitary confinement area a visit afterward. I'm almost certain there's aught of interest there."
You find your way back to the entryway without any issues. The first two doors you already checked out. The interrogation room and the record room. You find that, after some messing around, you do actually manage to find the key to each of the next rooms. Systematically unlocking the doors, you find;
Another record room, this time with older, rotten looking boxes filled with paper. It seems like it hadn't been touched for a long time even while the prison was still open.
An armory. Or at least what looks like it was probably an armory at one point. Empty armor stands and weapon racks line the walls, and only a few rusted short swords remain.
A room with a desk in the center and a box with different kinds of paperwork. It's some kind of processing room. There are still papers in the bin waiting to be pushed fifty years later.
A storage room. Seems like this is where they kept contraband. Different makeshift weapons, tools, and even things like cups fill various shelves.
Finally, the warden's office. The first room you've seen that's actually decorated and carpeted. A large, heavy looking desk sits at the center, and two large suits of armor stand in either corner.
"Hmm…" He eenie-meenie-miney-moes it and lands on the warden's office, investigating it a bit more closely.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Scorched meanwhile decided to search the contraband room for the moment.
[1d10] SearchRoll #1 4 = 4
Reverie, on the other hand, starts to rifle through the processing room's files.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You don't find anything interesting. Besides normal, boring warden stuff you find some manacles and a small crossbow under the desk. It is, however, strangely untouched for a warden's office after a riot.>>743115
There isn't a whole lot interesting. Razor blades. Small weapons. A makeshift club. Even a bottle filled with a murkey looking liquid, an actual unicorn skull, and an envelope with a weird powder.>>743116
You search the processing room top to bottom. Nothing interesting at first, but as you look under the desk you see a piece of paper taped underneath it. Looking it over, you find it's Silver's transfer papers along with a note. "Privately send these out ASAP. I owe you one, Quill. -Anvil." It was pretty concrete before, but now you know for sure Silver was never transferred.>>743114>>743115>>743116
Strangely, it seems like the hunger has subsided a bit for now. Neither Scorched nor Nepenthe feel any pain, at least.
Scorched attempted to ID either of the mysterious substances he had found in the room with a quiet investigation.
[1d10] if necessary
Roll #1 6 = 6
He blinks as he realizes the pain's subsided, stealing a glance over to Scorched if he's in view but not commenting on it out loud. He takes note of how untouched it is, and moves on to the armory.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Replying to this
Reverie searches for any notes about spellcasters being assigned to this jail as well, the type to leave behind a curse.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
The murkey liquid looks like a fine, aged hooch. In other words it's fifty year old bootleg toilet wine. The powder you recognize as powdered death. A very potent, very illegal stimulant.>>743119
The armory is for the most part cleared out, likely as a result of the riot. You only find a few weapons covered in rust and rotten, cracked, dusty leather that probably once was armor.>>743121
The only spellcaster of that calibur was one of the noteworthy inmates- The child murdering cultist, Mouldering Spine. You recall he was burned to death during the riot, but there weren't any other details.
"Disappointing," he muses, and leaves to rejoin the others.>>743120>>743121
"A fruitless search on my end," he bemoans. "And you?"
He took the powdered death for now. If nothing else it might be an ace in the hole for later. He headed back.>>743123
"Illicit liquor of questionable quality and a potent stimulant I have taken as something we may need."
"Paperwork confirming that Silver was never able to be transferred. We should get a move on deeper into the prison."
"Intriguing. The only thing I was able to glean is that the warden's office was more or less spared during the riot. Very mysterious. We should investigate solitary confinement."
He does one last scan of both rooms to make sure he didn't miss something.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"I agree. Let us get to the heart of the monstrosity in this place."
Reverie sets off, looking for the torchbearer to take the lead.
You don't find anything new.>>743126>>743127>>743128
You make your way back to the first cell block and toward the stairs. As you head toward the stairwell, the pain in your stomach grows again, urging you to try to eat even though consciously you know it won't help.
You open the door to the stairwell and begin descending, but halfway down, through the bars at the bottom of the stairs, you notice something. A pale, eerie orange glow, barely visible in the torchlight.
"It's a different color this time." Reverie notes, taking the lead, "I will lead this time, in case something similar to last time occurs.
He wished to argue but he found himself nodding "I shall be beside you."
"There it is again," he murmurs as he feels the pain return. He ignores it this time.
He slowly approaches the light, peering out through the darkness, trying to attune himself to the surrounding magic.
[1d10] EsotericaRoll #1 4 = 4
You descend the stairs, keeping your eyes on the glow. You peer through the bars and get a good look inside. You can't see that far, but from Scorched's torchlight part of the way back you can make out the first couple of rows of cells, at the end of each a toppled, damaged suit of armor.
The glow slowly twitches and jerks toward you from the fourth row. As it gets closer, you can make it out. It's almost the same as before. Tight, leathery face. Ribs jutting out in front of a disdended stomach. This time, when you get to the legs, large chunks of its forelegs are completely gone. Just empty air before the legs continue down to the hoof. A hollow whisper hisses through the halls, but you can't make out what. Over the whisper is a constant, animalistic snarling that resonates from its snapping mouth.>>743131>>743132
For now the two of you hang back a little bit. Nepenthe can't quite glean any new information, but you're pretty sure you're close to at least figuring out what this is.
Scorched hung back for a moment before quickly following Nepenth down the hall as he prepared his blade to smote any foul creatures.
He concentrates and tries again, inching forward more. "Reverie? What do you see?"
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"Another entity, like before. It sounds more feral than the previous one."
She again approaches it,
"Are you a former prisoner? Staff?"
>Commune: spell; Ask the dead for aid. The better you roll, the more helpful they are. Crit fail summons a hostile undead.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
The thing comes into view. A twitching, feral thing
. Just looking at it your blood starts to boil, and a red haze creeps in at the edge of your vision.
It doesn't respond. As it nears, though, you can make out what it's saying. "I'll kill you and eat you, Anvil."
Instead of coming straight toward you, it trembles and jerks toward the fallen armor. You notice deeper in, another pile of rusted armor glows with a faint grey light, but it hasn't moved.
Scorched went wide eyed and braced himself as he tried to resist.
[1d10] WillRoll #1 7 = 7
His breath catches in his throat at the sight of It, recoiling and trying to resist what wormed its way into his mind…
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Reverie steps backwards, going paler as she leaves behind a ghostly silhouette of herself, putting a body in front of her incase the thing attempts to attack.
>Bloodborn: spell, recharge 1; Sacrifice one Wound to summon an undead minion based on yourself. This minion shares your Max Health, does not count towards your maximum limit of Minions, has no skills and disappears when combat ends.>Combat Talent: (Ghost Trick; passive: Reverie's Bloodborn minions spiritual echoes of herself, being able to pass through solid objects and able to hover in the air. As a basic ranged attack, a Bloodborn minion may jaunt forward and switch locations with a distant enemy, dealing damage and swapping zones with them.)
[1d10]> Converge: passive; Your magic condenses onto a single point, boosting your magic. When you successfully cast a spell on an ally, they gain 1 Temporary Hit in addition to the spell’s normal effects.Roll #1 7 = 7
You both manage to calm yourselves and regain your composure before it becomes a problem.>>743140
A spectral replica of yourself appears in front of you.
>-1 wound, Ghost Reverie 5/6
The ghost disappers as it stumbles into the armor. The rusted iron rattles and realigns, reconstructing itself. What's left in front of you is a twitching, rattling suit of snarling metal.>>743139
A quiet, melancholy whisper invades your mind. Just give up and die. It's easier.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
He freezes as he hears an insidious little voice in his head, shaking it off and dismissing it as a hallucination. Seeing things start to get violent, he adjusts his headdress and tries to cast a hex, only to have it backfire on him. He curses quietly and backs off a bit.
The Kirin inhaled and decided to help one of his allies gain an edge against the cursed armor.
[1d10] Purify on NepentheRoll #1 3 = 3
The ethereal Reverie moves in towards the armor in an eerie manner, as if it was an animation that skipped every few frames. It tries to wrestle and damage the haunted armor.
[1d10] basic attack from bloodborn minion
Meanwhile, Reverie continues her questioning from behind the minion.
"What caused you to take this form?">Commune
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
For a moment Nepenthe's body glows. Then nothing.>>743142
Maybe it is too much. Maybe you should just give up. Your hex fails.>>743144
The armor stumbles toward ethereal Reverie, bodychecking it and knocking it away some. Then, it rears up on its hindlegs and tries to smash down with all its might.
A voice whispers in Reverie's mind. "Fair. It isn't fair. Forgotten. All of them, they've forgotten."
Another voice, similar to the first, but more drained and hopeless whispers, If you just give up the pain will go. No more pain. No more hunger.
[Fail]Roll #1 8 = 8
Scorched took a breath and raised his blade and took a swing at the armor trying to put it down.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
He shakes his head and pulls himself together, focusing on taking down the armor. He pulls out the Hand of Glory and casts a spell with the candle it grips, sapping the strength from the animated armor as he mutters in an eldritch tongue.>Enfeeble: Recharge 2, Weakens a target’s will. Whenever the target goes helpless, it cannot get up on it's own and needs help to get back up from one of its allies. Lasts until the target dies or is cured. On Crit the target loses all strength and is immediately rendered helpless.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Forgotten? Sounds right up my alley. I'll uncover the secrets of this place for you."
Reverie's phantom attacks again, uncaring for it's own health.
Reverie attacks with her glowing censer as well, in an attempt to temporarily banish it.
>Reap: weapon, recharge 1; Enchant your weapon with the cold touch of the grave. Deals damage and this skill gains +1 for every wound you are missing. On Crit you can extend your touch at expense of yourself, letting you target additional enemies in the same zone as your original target at the cost of 2 Hits per.
[1d10+1] Great WeaponRoll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
The twitching slows a little, and it seems like your spell has taken some of the wind out of its sails. It doesn't fall, but it definitely seems weaker than before.>>743146
The blade goes wide, and in the armor's wild thrashing it catches you across with its helmet.
The phantom drives itself into the armor, wrestling it to the ground. In the grapple, the phantom itself is slammed underneath the rusted metal. Before it can attack again, however, the censer slams into it and it collapses to the ground. The twitching fades, but the glow stays, along with weak growling.
The grey glow of the suit of armor across the room blinks and, slowly, almost reluctantly, reforms before stumbling toward the downed orange ghost.>>743146
A quiet whisper you now recognize to be not from the reflection of anger, but the reflection of defeat worms into your mind. It doesn't matter. They're not coming back for you. Anvil betrayed you.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
You're overcome with an intense sensation of apathy and melancholy. Your next attack misses.
He backs up and looks around, seeing Scorched swinging his mighty blade. He grins a little and points the hand at his ally, whispering to it. The fingers crack and twitch, pointing at him, empowering him with black magic. "Allow me…">Tartarian Power: spell; Demonic power fuels your minion or an ally, making all their actions critical, success or failure, until combat ends or you take a DC6 action to end the effect. On Crit the magic fuels their body endlessly, preventing them from falling helpless. Whenever they would fall helpless, their hits fully restore and they lose a wound. On Critfail the target goes berserk, hostile, or possessed, and lasts until they fall helpless.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Scorched shuddered and decided to try and aid his ally once more as he focused what he could.
[1d10] PurifyRoll #1 7 = 7
"Are you Silver? You had plans to be transfered to another prison, but Anvil died before he was able to transfer you. You were trapped here when the riot broke out."
Reverie ponders, her phantom pulling itself up.
[1d10] up from helpless
>no action from Reverie this turn unless phantom fails to get up, otherwise help with helplessness
[1d10] if neededRoll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
Scorched is filled with demonic energy. The unholy fury completely replaces the apathy instilled by the spirit.>>743152
Nepenthe, in the meantime, is filled with a holy aura. On his next attack he's prepared to smite the unholy fiends in front of him.>>743153
The phantom recovers from helplessness, standing in the reflection of defeat's way. It pauses, rears up, and tries to bat her out of the way. The reflection of fury just continues to lie there."He- riot? Lies. You're lying. He's working with them. The're working with him. All wanted me dead. They-
The voice falls silent.
[1d10]Attack on phantomRoll #1 1 = 1
Scorch let out a sudden cry of rage and rushed in trying to crush the being.
[1d10] SlamRoll #1 5 = 5
The warlock's eyes shine as he grins from ear to ear. "GNAIIHNYTH N'GHFT 'FHALMA." Taken over by his lust for sorcery, he lashes out at the possessed armor with a conjured sigil from the Hand twisting into a gesture.>Lifestream: recharge 1, spell; Saps a target’s lifeforce, dealing damage and storing that energy. You may use the sapped life to restore Hits equal to the damage done on yourself, an ally or one of your minions, even undead ones. On Crit you drain a wound as well, and can give that heal along the same guidelines listed prior.
[1d10+2] Bonus from Emotional ResonanceRoll #1 10 + 2 = 12
"No one escaped that day, even the ones that fled got hung after. If anyone was conspiring against you, they're long dead." Reverie continues to take no action, letting her double stand in their way.
>>743154>Phantom Detective; passive: When Reverie determines cause of death for an body where she wasn't present for the death itself, she can use Commune on the automatically, once, to ask their spirit a single question.
"You never escaped. People thought you had made it out alive and ran off, instead you starved to death in the jail. How can we ease your suffering?"
The phantom gets up under the ghost as it rears up and throws it off balance, slamming it to the ground. Right as it seems like it's about to move to attack again->>743155
You slam into it, forcing it back to the ground. Both it and the reflection of fury try to move, but they're both too weak. As the reflection of defeat makes an attempt to stand back up->>743156
A wave of energy is drained from both of the pieces of armor. After a short moment, the glow dissipates and they both clatter to the ground in a useless heap of rusted iron.>>743158
An ethereal form manifests near the party. A unicorn with a short mane stands in front of you. Unlike the reflections you've seen, this is -for the most part- a normal stallion. He's gaunt, and his body isn't unlike his doubles. His ribs just out, and on closer inspection you can see spots in his legs and haunches that appear to have been gnawed away. His eyes drift from pony, to kirin, to pony as tears flow from them. "How long?"
>>743159>>743158>Ignore the last part of the post
As the Reflection of Anger and the Reflextion of Defeat dissipate in a pale etherial whisp, faint images flash through your mind.
>A letter being written in a jail cell. Fear. You know they're here, and you know they're coming for you. But Anvil will be here soon. You trust him.
>Relief. A burly guard pegasus comes to the cell and guides you out. You trust him.
>Anxiety. He lowers you into the oubliette known as "The Hole". He tells you you're safe. Nobody knows you're here, and solitary is enchanted to be soundproof. He says it won't be more than a couple of days before your paperwork is processed. You trust him.
>Boredom. Even before the first day is up, it's worse being here in this almost soundless, featureless room than it was back in the cell you spent years in. You've noticed a leak. Hard not to with all the silence. The dripping is almost maddening sometimes, and a pleasant drone others. No word from Anvil. You're getting a little peckish. You trust him.
>Hunger and annoyance. It's not completely dark. There's a dim light enchantment in the corner, so you can still see. There aren't any windows, so you can't tell what time it is. When was the last time you ate? Yesterday? Two days ago? It's probably your mind playing tricks on you. You know he said he'd be back to give you food. You trust him.[i]
>Lonliness. Sorrow. He still hasn't come back. Maybe he got held up. If the warden really is working with Mascarpone then he could suspect something with you not being in your cell. Still, it feels like ages since you've heard anyone's voice. Just your own breathing, and that drip that won't stop. Still. [i]You trust him
>Crippling hunger. Anger. You know it's been more than a week. Your latrine bucket is overflowing in the corner, and the smell is unbearable. You've managed to use the drip to get enough water to keep you hydrated, but your stomach screams at you for food. Something -anything- to fill your belly. You eye the bucket. You trust him.
>Blind fury only dulled by weakness. The coprophagic binge managed to stop the pain for a time, but you never expected to hold it down. How long has it been? Weeks? A month? More? You managed to catch a rat that somehow got in. The taste of actual food -even raw meat, blood, and bone- was heavenly. You look down and eye your back leg. How much, you wonder, can you lose without dying? Maybe the pain will go away longer. Maybe you'll get up enough strength to figure out a way to break out. Guards. Mascarpone. Anything is better than this. You don't know what happened. Was he fired? There's no way he forgot about you, right? He has to come back, right? You trust him.
>Defeat. You don't know how long it's been, but you can see your ribs poking through your stomach. You assume some kind of gas buildup causes it to bulge, because there's nothing inside. You can't move anymore. You don't have the energy or the will. Thoughts of your wife, Silk Suture, and your daughter, sweet little Silver Scales pass through your mind. You try to whisper that you're sorry. Sorry for not being able to hold on a little longer. He probably won't be coming back, but they have to use the hole eventually, right? As you try to apologize for not being stronger, only a whisp of air passes your lips. The last whisp of air you breathe.Y o u t r u s t e d h i m."Please. Just get me out of here."
Nepenthe clears his throat, coming down from his temporary exertion. "Ahem. Excuse me. I got a little carried away. It takes him a moment to acknowledge the spirit in front of them. He frowns slightly, putting things together in his mind. "…Are you Silver Scales?…"
He keeps a wary eye out for anything else that may try to sneak up on them.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 5 = 5
"The body's in solitary, we'll need to exhume them and bury them with his daughter. Ponies that were never buried properly are textbook hauntings, I'm surprised his was -err, is– so powerful, but this prison has stored up so much negative and hatred energy passively that I bet his spirit was able to tap into it and was shaped by it." Reverie deducts, her determined gaze only reflected by her grin, her goggles continue to illuminate her face.
"Is that so? Fascinating…" He stares at the ghost as if he's examining a museum exhibit. "I'll have to make a note of this for future endeavors. What an incredible way to inflict injury and despondence!"
"It's dreadful, isolation in life is terrifying and confusing, but to feel this when in entering into the afterlife for long periods of time, it will break down a mind."
"Perhaps… a proper burial might set you to rest?" he said simply. It seemed logical that giving the dead the chance to have a dignified burial would be good.
You don't notice anything immediately, but you finally have enough information to piece a bit together. You're not dealing with a bunch of different ghosts. You're dealing with an angry, powerful revenant, and you know one thing for certain. The fight isn't over.>>744412>>744413>>744414
The figure nods and turns its head to look down the hall to the back of the prison. "Number three," it whispers. "Get me out. Please." Slowly, it turns its head back. Its eyes are hollow, and the consciousness it had before has gone with them. It unhinges its jaw in a silent scream and stumbles toward you. After its second step, Reverie's spell ends and it blows away like a puff of smoke.
All three of you suddenly experience a crippling sharp pain in your stomach. It twists and gurgles like it's digesting itself, almost forcing you to double over.
>Nepenthe, Scorched. Critical starvation. -1 to physical actions.
>Reverie, no debuffs yet.
"Let us make haste, we haven't a moment to lose." Reverie says, her ethereal echo fading as combat ends. She makes to head deeper into the prison, guided by the dim light of her censer flail, though expecting the torchbearer to be behind shortly.
Nepenthe does double over, clutching his stomach and groaning slightly at the sudden pang, like a knife twisting in his belly. He nods slightly to Reverie and follows along, loping at the back of the group.
Scorched hunched over using his blade as a prop before shaking his head "Just… find the cell he's in so we can dig him up…"
Following the blueprints, you find that the solitary block is entirely separate from the rest of the jail. A rusty, barred door blocks a separate room. Beyond, by the light of the torch, you can make out a heavy iron hatch leading into the floor. Ten feet away on either side are two more. According to the blueprints, there are five. The temprature has dropped so far you're pretty sure you can see your breath.
Scorched inhaled and prepared himself to potentially have to try and bring the door down "See if we have any keys that fit."
He starts shivering uncontrollably from the cold. At Scorched's prompt, he starts fumbling stiffly with the keys he found earlier, trying to find one that fits.
[1d10] Not sure if this gets the -1Roll #1 6 = 6
In the meanwhile, Reverie sees if a solid buck to the door can knock it down.
[1d10] Ass kickingRoll #1 4 = 4
Luckily, witb some fumbling, you manage to find a key that fits. It takes a good bit of work from Reverie and Scorch to actually force the seized hinges free, but in no time the room is open.
He takes a few steps forward, squinting to peer around the room.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Reverie pushes forward, also on watch.
[1d10] percepRoll #1 3 = 3
Scorched followed suit using his torch to keep things lit.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
As you cross over the threshold, the hatch in front of you begins faintly trembling. After a moment the rattle picks up a little more. By the time you stand near it, it's like something is slamming on it from the inside. Then, suddenly, it stops.
He pauses and narrows his eyes, watching the hatch like a hawk.
[1d10] EsotericaRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
Scorched inhaled once more prepping himself "Anything to help us get this open?"
Unlike the two stallions staying, Reverie goes up close to investigate the hatch itself.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Nothing else happens, but you're overcome with a sense of dread. There's definitely something beyond. And it's hungry.>>744430
It's still, and the metal is ice cold. There's a lock in the top, but it's completely rusted over and corroded. Seems your best bet is to either force it open and hope to break the lock, or just break the lock outright. You recall that below, the hole itself is more of an oubliette than an actual cell. Getting down won't be easy even once you get it open, and getting back up might be even harder.
"Do we know if that's his cell or?…"
He shivers. Not because of the cold this time. "…I-I suppose we have little choice but to pass this threshold. Stay vigilant, friends. We can do this. We can do this, we can do this…"
He pulls out the Hand of Glory and whispers something to it. It twists and cracks into an arcane gesture, unleashing a blast of magic at the trapdoor.>Unleash: spell; You catalyst builds up magic passively that you can release for a powerful blast. For every 2 turns of combat you do not use this skill, increase the damage this skill deals by 1 hit. This bonus damage is reset when you use Unleash or at the end of combat.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Swinging her flail, Reverie helps in bashing the metal.
>eap: weapon, recharge 1; Enchant your weapon with the cold touch of the grave. Deals damage and this skill gains +1 for every wound you are missing. On Crit you can extend your touch at expense of yourself, letting you target additional enemies in the same zone as your original target at the cost of 2 Hits per.
[1d10+1] Reap, Great WeaponRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
The spell slams into the hatch, denting it. With a loud crash
Reverie's flail follows soon after, blowing the old rusted iron off its hinges. A stale, musty breeze wafts out of the hole like a dense miasma. It leads straight down with no obvious way to the ground, exactly like it says on the tin. A hole. Below is pitch black.
Scorched let out a sigh and tossed the torch down the hole figuring that would be the quickest way to see what was down there.
He waits apprehensively to see what the torch illuminates, trying to get a better idea of what sort of magical anomalies they're dealing with.
[1d10] EsotericaRoll #1 9 = 9
Reverie peers down below.
[1d10] percepRoll #1 3 = 3
As the torch tumbles into the hole you get a better look at the inside. It's about a twelve foot drop. For the most part the torch illuminates the whole room. Brown stained gashes are carved into the stone where it looks like someone was trying to claw their way out with their bare hooves. In the back corner you see a bucket, caked and crusted in some long since dried black substance. Finally, huddled in the opposite corner, you see what looks like a pile of rags.>>744437
He's here. And he's in the body.
"A shame none of us have wings. I do believe I'm one of the heaviest, if we need to tie a rope to something to rappel down."
He shudders again, searching his pockets quickly. "I have none. Should we just jump and hope for the best?"
"How do you plan to get back up?"
"…….I'm sure we'll find something!"
Scorched shuddered gently as he watched the sights and odors wafting up as he prepared to drop down and try to wipe it out.
Reverie looks down for something to help assist in making the way down. [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Not having any kind of rope on hand, you take a look around. Just above the doorway you see a ladder, presumably the one they used to actually send prisoners down and retrieve them. It's pretty old, so it's pretty rickety, but maybe it could hold well enough to suit your needs. Alternatively, you remember bed-sheets and other mattress parts are in each cell. Maybe you could tie the old rags together to make something serviceable to rappel down with and still be able to climb back up.
Reverie goes back for bedsheets, trying to make haste. [1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
He weighs his options, then joins Reverie in doing so.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Scorched decides to simply keep watch for now so as to prevent a potential ambush.
You strip most of the bedsheets off of beds, braiding them and tying them together onto a decently long rope. While the sheets themselves are dryrotted and tattered, the added strength of combining them seems like it'll more or less hold each of your weight. Probably.>>745316
Nothing happens just yet. For now everything stays quiet.
Scorched decided to head down first, and climbed down as best he could to reach the bottom.
He gives the sheets a good few tugs to ensure sturdiness. Satisfied with the weight, he nods to Reverie in approval and starts lowering it into the pit before carefully shimmying down into thedarkness.
[1d10] if necessaryRoll #1 2 = 2
[1d10] to climb if need be.Roll #1 2 = 2
While the jenny makes sure the cloth is tied to something stable, she stays up top to personally hold it in place as well.
[1d10] HoldRoll #1 8 = 8
The way down is a little sketchy, and through the silence you hear the quiet rip of stretching fabric, but everything holds together. At the bottom you now see what looked like a pile of rags from the top is what you could have expected. Old, rotten prison clothes hang loosely off of a leathery, dried out husk of a corpse.
The air is thick and musty, practically dense enough to carve through. Though the soundproofing wards have likely long since worn off, the cell is still eerily quiet.
The corpse twitches and creaks. Slowly its head turns to look at you, its face scarcely more than skin tightly pulled over a skull. It sets its empty eye sockets on you, and its mouth slowly opens to reveal broken, jagged teeth. The corpse moans in agony and places one of its hooves in front of it, dragging itself just a little closer to you.
A sharp pain shoots through your stomachs, and your mouths feel moist and a brief thought passes your minds.You don't need your whole body, do you? What if you had just a little nibble?
>Begin combat>Free action, roll will save.
Scorched groan and shuddered as he swayed and tried to hold steady, before swinging at the beast
[1d10] Saving Roll
[1d10] SlamRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
He does a double take as the rotting corpse begins to come to life. He jerks away from it instinctively, mentally bracing himself and trying to expel the intrusive thoughts.
[1d10] Will save
He points the Hand of Glory at the corpse, and it twitches into a hexing gesture, attempting to drain its necromantic energy.>Lifestream: recharge 1, spell; Saps a target’s lifeforce, dealing damage and storing that energy. You may use the sapped life to restore Hits equal to the damage done on yourself, an ally or one of your minions, even undead ones. On Crit you drain a wound as well, and can give that heal along the same guidelines listed prior.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
>>746073>autopass mental checks
Feeling the urge pass over her and shrugging it off, Reverie quickly double takes and looks down, realizing her allies are likely feeling the very same thing, with them having far less resilience than her. Going paler, Reverie summons another spiritual echo of herself to assist.
>Bloodborn: spell, recharge 1; Sacrifice one Wound to summon an undead minion based on yourself. This minion shares your Max Health, does not count towards your maximum limit of Minions, has no skills and disappears when combat ends.>Converge: passive; Your magic condenses onto a single point, boosting your magic. When you successfully cast a spell on an ally, they gain 1 Temporary Hit in addition to the spell’s normal effects.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
For now you manage to fight the urge enough to keep your focus on combat and not eating yourself.>>746074
You slam into the corpse, sending it flying. It's eerily light, like a bag of sticks. As its tumble slows, it catches its footing and, as if completely unaffected by the attack, stands.
Its movements are jerky and unsteady as it makes its way back toward the two of you, locking its focus on Nepenthe. Now with a goal in mind, its mouth stretches and it breaks into a mad dash. >>746075
As you lift your hand of glory the thing tackles you to the ground, gnashing its teeth at you. >Helpless
A spiritual simulacrum of yourself fades into being, almost seeming brighter and more full of vigor than normal.>+1 temporary hit>Echo:7/6>Reverie:5/4Roll #1 2 = 2
"Ahh!" He throws out a hoof to catch himself as he falls, struggling against the living corpse and trying to throw it off to right himself.
[1d10] RecoverRoll #1 6 = 6
"Have you two boys already forgot that we're bringing the corpse back up here? Let me help you out with that." Reverie says, Her spiritual double starting to fade from its place, trying to swap places with the corpse.
>Ghost Trick; passive: Reverie's Bloodborn minions are ethereal echoes of herself, being able to pass through solid objects and able to hover in the air. As a basic ranged attack, a Bloodborn minion may jaunt forward and switch locations with a distant enemy, dealing damage and swapping zones with them.
Reverie waits.>no actionRoll #1 5 = 5
"Bit easier said than done." he grumbled aiming to try and at the very least disarm the beast or maybe dejaw it.
[1d10] CleaveRoll #1 1 = 1
"Rather tricky when it's running at you with murderous intent!" he calls as he struggles to get back up. "We have to subdue it first."
You kick the corpse off of you, rolling it across the floor and away. In that moment you find the time to partially catch your breath and stand.>>746080
It ducks below your blade and lunges at your legs, tripping you up.
It takes the chance to try to sink its teeth into your leg.>>746079
It can't quite manage to swap places with how much the corpse is ragdolling around right now.
[1d10]biteRoll #1 4 = 4
"Ugh! Enough of this!" He smooths out his robes quickly before casting another hex at the corpse, trying to weaken it.>Enfeeble: Recharge 2, Weakens a target’s will. Whenever the target goes helpless, it cannot get up on it's own and needs help to get back up from one of its allies. Lasts until the target dies or is cured. On Crit the target loses all strength and is immediately rendered helpless.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
Reverie's double attempts the action again, starting to fade out of existence. >Ghost Trick
>Reverie's action changes depending on success or fail.Roll #1 2 = 2
Seeing the double continue to have trouble fading entire due to how radiant it is, Reverie drains even more of her life force, trying to summon a less bright double.
>Bloodborn: spell, recharge 1; Sacrifice one Wound to summon an undead minion based on yourself. This minion shares your Max Health, does not count towards your maximum limit of Minions, has no skills and disappears when combat ends.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
Scorched meanwhile groaned and worked to get up onto his hooves.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
The corpse's already shaky movement destabilizes even more and it collapses onto the ground. It continues crawling toward you, but doesn't seem it's getting very far very fast.>>746086
Whether it's the residual necromantic energies, the slowly worsening pain in your stomach causing you to lose focus, or sometng else, the result is the same. Nothing happens.>>746087
In your weakened state you find it difficult to find your footing.
A hollow moan resonates through the cell. Pain. Anguish. Hunger. Each worm their way into your minds and bodies. You swallow. Anything to end the hunger. You'll do anything.
>Free action:will save
You feel your legs grow weak, and your suddenly feel a little lightheaded. Like you haven't eaten in weeks. It took days for the villagers to get this far, but being as close as you are to the source is draining you faster and faster.
Reverie's double tries to pull the corpse from her allies, ensuring they won't be subject to the urges.
[1d10] Ghost TrickRoll #1 2 = 2
Scorched hated this so damn much as he still tried to get up.
[1d10] No be hungry
[1d10] Stand up dammitRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
"Uh, this damn curse is coming back!" he barked out vocalizing his anger and helplessness.
"Ah… Not… not again…" He tries to stave off the hunger pang, whispering something under his breath.
Aiming to finish off the corpse and subdue it completely, he points the Hand at it again. It curls into a fierce claw-like gesture and fires off a blast of unstable magic from its fingertips.>Unleash: spell; You catalyst builds up magic passively that you can release for a powerful blast. For every 2 turns of combat you do not use this skill, increase the damage this skill deals by 1 hit. This bonus damage is reset when you use Unleash or at the end of combat.
[1d10] +2 hitsRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
Growing angry at her own spirit's ineptitude, Reverie lets out an angry shout as she runs towards the hole and top rope shoulder tackles Scorched Earth from 10 feet above him.
[1d10] Falling on Scorched EarthRoll #1 9 = 9
You're too focused on your pain to stand. Against your will, you move your mask just enough to bite something. Your jaws slowly open and your head inches its way toward your foreleg. Your autophagia is interrupted by something heavy slamming into your back, pinning you to the ground. >>746093
You dive onto Scorched right as it seems like he's about to start tearing himself apart. The impact both hurts you and him, and jolts him back to his right mind.>>746092
Nepenthe isn't so lucky. His spell fails as he drops to the ground. His eyes flit around the cell, before focusing on his foreleg. Dropping down, his jaws spread wide, and he takes a deep bite just below his knee. Before he can tear anything away, the pain jolts him back, but it still isn't pleasant. Looking down, he sees two deep gashes slowly oozing blood onto his fur.>-3 hits
The corpse continues slowly making its way toward the group, but it hasn't moved much.
"Gh-!" He scrambles away from it, gritting his teeth. He whispers something to the Hand, and it extends its palm, touching the injury.>Wyrd Reconstruction: spell, recharge 1; Nepenthe attempts to reseal the target's injuries with dark magic. Heals 2 hits on a success, and 1 additional hit per roll (3 on 7, 4 on 8 etc). Heals 1 wound on crit. Overheals grant temporary max H/W equal to the roll -2, minimum 1. Overheal does not apply to targets that are at full hits. On critfail, the target takes 3 hits.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
Scorched ended up letting out a cry of indignant rage as his flames began to erupt.>Nirik Fury
[1d10] The Fire RisesRoll #1 7 = 7
Scorched was quick to buck the donkey off him and turn his sights to the corpse now.
[1d10+2] SlamRoll #1 10 + 2 = 12
Having literally knocked the sense into Earth, Reverie swings her censer to perform a physical exorcism on the corpse.
>Reap: weapon, recharge 1; Enchant your weapon with the cold touch of the grave. Deals damage and this skill gains +1 for every wound you are missing. On Crit you can extend your touch at expense of yourself, letting you target additional enemies in the same zone as your original target at the cost of 2 Hits per.
[1d10+2] Great weaponRoll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Yout wound stings as fark energy stitches the bite closed. After a moment the bleeding stops and the pain in your leg fades. Only the raw, pink flesh where the wound was is any indication it was even there.>>746101
The corpse moves to open its mouth again, but you slam into it before it can do anything, sending it tumbling across the cell. >>746102
It tries to start crawling back toward you, but your censer slams against its jaw, forcing it back to the ground. For the moment it falls limp.
Scorched rushed in and decided to try and remove it's head from it's body figuring that it would do the job of making it's movement stop.
[1d10] CleaveRoll #1 8 = 8
"Hah!" He regains some of his confidence seeing the corpse fall. "In the words of the great sage Pandemonius, 'Naebunma sgn'wahl nilgh'ri hrii s'uhnnyth wgah'n'." He nods sagely, then looks around. Seeing Scorched bent on incapacitating it, he helps him by pointing the Hand. It makes the sign of the horns.> Tartarian Power: spell; Demonic power fuels your minion or an ally, making all their actions critical, success or failure, until combat ends or you take a DC6 action to end the effect. On Crit the magic fuels their body endlessly, preventing them from falling helpless. Whenever they would fall helpless, their hits fully restore and they lose a wound. On Critfail the target goes berserk, hostile, or possessed, and lasts until they fall helpless.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Calming herself, Reverie's double continues to attempt to get the corpse away from the others.
[1d10] Ghost Trick
>Divergent actions depending on successRoll #1 6 = 6
Finally seeing her spiritual echo start to phase into the place of the corpse, Reverie tries to pull herself up the sheet rope.
[1d10] climbRoll #1 8 = 8
Scorched's veins bulge and glow a faint blue-black as he's filled with unholy energy.>>746106>>746104
Your blade passes cleanly through the corpse's neck right as Reverie's echo swaps places with it, sending both the head and the body onto the floor above.>>746107
The rope holds together as you shimmy your way back up. The headless corpse weakly rolls onto its side while the head gnashes its jaws at nothing.
The flames encompassing Scorched slowly faded as he took a few breathes before slowly climbing the rope after the others as he wanted to put this unpleasantness to rest now.
[1d10] ClimbRoll #1 5 = 5
"Oh. I suppose that's over. I thought it would get back up. Luckily, I was wrong. Ahem. Let's finish this, yes?"
He dismisses the enchantment on Scorched. "Now, how are we going to move this up there? I'm afraid I'm not the strongest, nor do I have the knack for telekinesis…"
"It's up. I'll deal with it until you two are up here. If we don't want to deal with it, I'll have my echoes move it for us while we keep a short distance. All we need to do is keep eachother from eating ourselves." Reverie says from the top of the hole, trying to create another spirit to expedite the transportation process.
The echo flies up from the hole.Roll #1 10 = 10
"I was going to kick the head down the hall and drag the body with my magic."
"Sounds like a plan. Touch wood, we'll be out of here soon."
He climbs back up the rope as best he can.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Weakened by the curse, ascending the rope is slow going. Finally you make it to the top.>>746113
You have even more trouble, and the sheet rope threatens to tear more than once. By the time you actually make it up, the head locks its empty eye sockets on you. It opens its mouth, and though no sound escapes, you still feel something.
Something that draws your eyes to Reverie. Your stomach grumbles.
You summon another echo.
He groaned and shuddered as he worked to resist the curse again.
[1d10] No monchRoll #1 3 = 3
Despite everything, he finds himself beginning to succumb to the hunger. He grits his teeth and clings to the rope, trying to push past it and force himself up.
[1d10] WillRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
Reverie gives a firm bonk to anyone looking like they're about to bite themselves, being wary of their mental fortitude.
Both echoes in the same zone as Reverie, one moves forward towards the exit, one stopping a small distance away to try and swap places with the corpse, while the other moves even further towards the exit.
>Echo 1, Move Zone then Ghost Trick
[1d10] Ghost Trick
>Echo 2, Move Zone, Move ZoneRoll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
Your focus locks on Reverie and you shuffle towards her in spite of trying yout best to keep yourself in place. Before you can get too close, she cracks you on the noggin, bringing you back to your senses.
You manage to shimmy the rest of the way up, but as you do your eyes lock on Reverie and, like you're just a passenger inside your own body, you lunge at Reverie and sink your teeth into her leg.>>746117
The echoes swap places with the writhing corpse, bringing it closer to the stairwell. The other echo makes its way into the hallway, only several feet from the door leading up.
You notice both of your companions have succumbed to the curse's influence. But they're not attacking themselves. They're attacking you. You lash out and crack Scorched in the jaw, you're left open for Nepenthe to bite into you almost the moment he climbs out of the hole.
Scorched groaned but quickly used his powers to try and help Nepenthe as he moved with him.
[1d10] Purify to try and weaken the curse on him.Roll #1 2 = 2
"Ah, I…" He draws back almost instantly, appalled at himself. "It… it wasn't… I'm sorry, I just… This curse…"
He tries to pull away from the others and regain control of himself.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
He also decides to use his force of will to try and protect Reverie from any further harm for a short period of time.
" Reverie winces, pulling her leg back, "Let's just keep moving, know it ain't you
doing that shit, still fuckin hurts though.">>746120>>746119
"Think you two could cut a piece of your clothes off and gag yourselves? Chew on some fabric if anything, tie it onto your face if you need to.">>746118
2 is one zone ahead, while Echo 1 has returned to the party's position. the two echoes swap the roles they had last time.
>Echo 2 Move, Ghost Trick
[1d10]>Echo 1 Move, Move (Ending up one zone behind Echo 2 ends)Roll #1 2 = 2
Your purification doesn't do anything. He continues gnashing at Reverie, but as he fails to regain control you get in his way, causing him to bite into you instead.
>5 hits, still at 1 because Protect>>746120
For a moment your mind completely fades, replaced only with the thought of tearing Reverie's tender flesh. Before you can bite into her again, however, Scorched gets in your way, leading to you biting him instead. The delicious taste of his blood fills your mouth, but he stands his ground.>>746122
The echo and the corpse -now a good bit away from you- swap places. The furthest echo is now in the staircase hallway. It looks like this'll all be over soon enough.
Scorched lets out a roar and tries to hold Firm as he tapped into his powers as he tried to summon his flames to heal him.>>746122
"Move or get the corpse out." he growled
[1d10] Resist Curse
[1d10] I Will Not YieldRoll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
The the two echoes continue onwards, continuing to swap places with the corpse to move if forward out into the sunlight.>>746124
"Being done." Rev says, watching as the occultist bites into the Kirin and wincing.
"Agh!" He spits it out, babbling apologies. "I'm sorry, I can't- I swear, it's not me doing this- I'm- I-" He shakes his head and tries to run away to empty his mind.
[1d10] Will saveRoll #1 8 = 8
You both manage to clear your mind and fight off any more urges. Your stomachs still feel like they're in knots but, especially with the body now far away, your cannibalistic compultions have faded.>>746125
Your echoes carry the corpse without any problems, dragging it helplessly gnashing and groaning to the entrance. After a few minutes it seems like a heavy weight has lifted from the air. You feel your echoes fade.
"Would one of you two be a dear and get me one more bedsheet from the prison? I'll carry the remains, but I'd like to wrap them up first. Forgot to think of it earlier with the whole biting and all." Reverie mentions, letting out a long sigh.
Scorched nodded and headed for the bedrooms to grab another sheet.
"Hm? Oh, of course. Let me just- oh. I suppose that works." He takes a moment to rinse his mouth out with water, then waits for Scorched to return so they can finish this once and for all.
After a few moments the three of you stand near the entryway, bedsheets in hoof. The door is wide open, and the orange glow of dusk illuminates a black shadow lying just beyond the placard honoring the guards who lost their lives in the riot. Just above it, hovering in the air, is a faintly glowing etherial stallion staring up at the sky.
Scorched handed the sheets to Rev as he adjusted his mask a bit. "The end is in sight and I await it."
"That's what we were hired for. Just glad we can help bring them some proper rest." Reverie gently swaddles the corpse, carrying it over her back and tying the bedsheet to her back. "Let's inform his daughter, ask if she can take some time to be there for a burial."
"We'll have to inform her she's his daughter as well."
He nods, keeping an eye on the corpse. "Let's finish this whole bloody affair. Could use a stiff drink after all that…"
He tries to find the way back to the hospital to talk to Silver Needle.
[1d10] if neededRoll #1 10 = 10
You wrap the still corpse up in the sheets, gathering up his head with it. While the tight, leathery face stretched across his skull is still horrifying to behold, there's something about it that almost seems peaceful. Maybe it's the fact that he's not trying to bite you anymore. Maybe it's something else.
Barely more than a skeleton, the body feels incredibly light resting over your back. Were it not for the circimstances, you could almost forget he was even there as you make your way back to the hospital. You step inside and see the receptionist's desk unmanned.
Silver Needle pokes her head out of the room she'd been in that morning. Upon seeing you, she smiles and steps out. "Guess you three actually managed to do it, huh? Burgermeister Stone is holding a huge feast. Both to celebrate, and for other obvious reasons. Most of the staff left early. So what was it? Pissed off witch?"
"Disgruntled spirit of a forgotten prisoner who starved to death." he said bluntly "Though there is a reason we came to you first.
"Do you have time to attend a wake? Seems fitting to do it on a day of a feast." Reverie says, making little mention to what's on her back given the other two.
He bears a heavy expression. "It's… a little more complicated than that." He proceeds to recount everything as best he understands it, trying to break the news as easily as he can.
Her smile fades and her lips slowly draw into a thin line. "A wake? For?" She patiently waits for someone to explain, and turns her attention completely on Nepenthe as he finally begins.
Her face cycles through a number of emotions as you retell the evening's events, finally settling on a passive discomfort. When you finally finish, there's a long silence. "I suppose that explains why the curse didn't touch me," she says. "All those years mother thought- I thought…
" She pauses and shuffles, trying to hide a faint shudder. Her eyes are hard, but a faint glimmer at the corners betrays her attempts to mask her emotions. She takes a deep breath, slowly lets it out, and nods. "Well," she continues. "Thank you. I have a lot to think about. At any rate, we're all in your debt. If you hadn't come along I can't imagine the town would've lasted much longer."
"Tis simply my duty. I needn't thanks for saving the innocent from the predations of those most unholy forces."
"A sordid case," he concludes grimly. "It was our pleasure to get to the bottom of it all, and bring some closure to this nightmare."
Reverie nods at Scorched's response, "It's our job."
[Last 50 Posts]
"Your job or not, thank you either way. I'm sure Burgermeister Stone has a reward lined up for you, at least. Couldn't say how much. Probably not enough." She glances down at the letter again. "If it isn't a sum that seems fair then come back here and talk to me. Or talk to me after the feast. I don't know how much father left, but I don't think anyone would argue at least some of it going to you three."