No.708863[Last 50 Posts]
Joined by the sorceress Aegis, the party have continued their journey towards the Weeping City, where a great Swap Meet is to take place; however, not all is well within the group. Hermodur, marked by the enigmatic Oneiromancer, has resolved to break the Cuckoo's egg, which has led to him leaving the party to go on adventures of his own, for a time. The rest of the group, meanwhile, are now being stalked by a mysterious bounty hunter called Clawson, who, out of a desire for a challenge, has given them 24 hours to put as much distance between them and himself as possible. Their quest continues, the constant presence of the Oneiromancer and the threat of Skylord Lysander hanging over them like a guillotine…
You sail over a sea of green, heading northwest, following the trusty compass onward. The loss of Hermodur casts an ill mood over your flight, but given the circumstances, you press on without him. The landscape gradually changes as you progress, and eventually you find yourselves flying over the Broad River, crossing to the other side of the gigantic body of water by midday. The lands here are less dense and more fertile, with slightly less vegetation and more safe spots to land for a spell.
As you fly, Aurora keeps lookout, and points out two points of interest:
There is a small merchant caravan that seems to be being held up by bandits, on a dirt road winding across a hillside.
There are also the ruins of some forgotten temple in the forest that could be worth looking into. Violet muses that there could be something useful within for bartering with at the Swap Meet.
Alternatively, you could simply keep flying onwards, and make more distance between yourselves and Clawson.
Having been brooding above deck, i peer out at the caravan with a newfound interest.
"Oh my, it seems they're fairing about as well as us at the moment. Should we help?"
Rabi flicks his ears, getting out his spyglass and taking a look. He tucks it away, and nods in agreement with Silver
"We have some time before we're being chased, so we might as well make use of some of it."
Aegis eventually walked out of the captains quarters after setting up all of the few belongings she had on the room, joining the others, staring down at the caravan in the distance ''I thought you were planning to do something about the bounty hunter first, are you sure it is the best idea to simply flee from him?''
"We probably shouldn't waste the time we have, but I guess helping out isn't a waste. I say we go down amd see what's going on."
the plan, prior to Hermodur's decision to leave us. Now that we've lost one of our more formidable fighters i have some concern, despite the advantage of numbers."
"I'm sure we'll still have some time to prepare, even with a short detour."
''I see. In that case, if we do end up having to fight this bounty hunter, I can offer you my assitance in fending him off… Or killing him, whichever you decide''
"I'm with Silver on this one," Violet chimes in. "Plus, he's given us an advantage, so we should take it. Hopefully this stop won't take long.">>708884
"I still reckon you should try ghosting him, when the time comes," Violet suggests. "If you can sneak onto his ship and get an idea of what we're up against, it'd be a great help when it comes time to throw down. Right?">>708878>>708879>>708881>>708882
"Guess that's decided then," says Violet. "I say we help them as best we can and move on. We should cover as much ground as we can by tomorrow."
Zunden pilots the airship down into a nearby clearing, and you leave the ship behind to go and investigate the stickup. A single caravan, pulled by a trembling grey earth pony, is being ransacked by some unsavory looking bandits of disparate races, many of them wearing bandannas to conceal their identities. All of them have a tattoo on their forearms of a skull over two crossed axes. "Bloody Mummers," Violet hisses. "What are they doing this far north?…"
There are about seven bandits total; one of them, a stocky black minotaur is holding a green pegasus hostage, grabbing him firmly by the wings, while another, a lean grey minotaur with burn scars, holds the frightened mare at gunpoint. The other five are rummaging through the merchants' belongings for anything of use. They don't seem to have noticed you yet. Violet and Aurora hang back, thinking silently of how to go about this, looking to you for ideas.
Aegis wordlessly joined in the group in hiding
''The one with the firearm is possibly the most dangerous, assuming he is the only one in possesion of a gun. If you want to spare the lives of those ponies we should find a way to deal with him first, or get those ponies away, they will surely use them as hostages if we approach''
"If i can close the gap, i may be able to poison him into a stupor, though it will only last a short while. We'll need to move fast once i strike."
"My concern is for the pegasus, the minotaur could quite easily hurt her should we slip up.."
From hiding, i eye the assembled party of bandits, trying to piece together a plan.
[1d10] KnowledgeRoll #1 10 = 10
>>708887>[1d10] You know what's more important than Swap Meet? Knowledge.>>708891>>708887
"Well, maybe I could take the Minotaur down quickly? Or at the least, dull him with magic enough to keep him from going after her?"Roll #1 1 = 1
''She is in a better situation at least. Potentially losing her wings is better than easily losing a life. A bullet to the head is a sure, swift death, that serves for you as well. Closing the gap wont work if you just put yourself in the place of the pegasus and risk your life''
Aegis turns to Rabi>>708893
''I have an idea. Do you think your arrows accurate enough to shoot the gun out of that minotaur's hand?''
I look out at the bandits. "Bloody Mummers. That's one of the other big gangs, right? Alongside the Tiger Clan?" I left my sprayer on the ship, but crouch down and try to summon a couple of rats. "Even if we win here this could be bad for future us."
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I imagine I can, yes. Why?"
"It sounds as if she wants you to knock the gun away from him, dear." i chime in. "It would certainly be quite the shot, but if you're willing to try.."
Silver instantly recalls where she's seen the minotaurs before. As a third, short, white-furred minotaur comes out of the caravan clutching an expensive looking bead necklace, she remembers these three clearly as the trio of thugs that bullied her on her first day in the Echoes. Seems they still bear the injuries from the ensuing barfight; the lean one still has the burns from Rabi's flaming arrow, the stout one is missing a few teeth from Hermodur, and the short one has a limp, courtesy of Violet. The latter narrows her eyes as she recalls them as well. "Great. These assholes again. They just don't learn do they.">>708891
"We should take out those two first, if we can," says Violet with a small nod. "I can try and sneak around and tackle one, but it'll be up to one of you guys to deal with the other.>>708893
She nods in agreement. "How's this: I'll go around and try and take out the black one, the one holding the pegasus, and you and Silver try and knock out the one with the pistol.">>708897
She nods. "They're usually only active down south, where we've come from. Didn't know they'd expanded northwards of Braildorn. This isn't good."
You summon Roquefort, or Rocky for short, a timid little white and brown rat. He doesn't seem to want to leave the cage, stubbornly staying in the very back corner.
"Very well, I'll begin the approach."
waiting for Violet to get ready, i begin the slow approach to the gun toting Minotaur, keeping low as i can.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 9 = 9
''Not if you kill them all, then there wont be anyone alive to divulge what happened here, granted the ponies keep this a secret''>>708898>>708899
''Then that probably would be the first step we need to take, and the best way to engage them. After that is up to how they will react'' Aegis eyes the caravan hold up with cold analyzing eyes
''It doesnt seem like any of us are dedicated frontline fighters either so we have to use the surprise to our advantage''
Aegis's shield began to glow and seep smoky strands of cold haze as she called forth three orbs of crystaline bluish-white magic
''Be prepared, we must act quickly once we start''>>708901
''If you can get to them unnoticed then I will cover you, but be careful you dont get too close''
With that, Aegis nods to Rabi, standing at the ready for him to take the shot>>708898
''In case you miss'' She whispers ''I will try to hit the gun as well''
"Sorry, buddy. I'll try not to make you fight," I whisper into the cage. Standing back up, I decide to leave my tonfa away right now, tucking them into the waistband behind my back.>>708905
"I'm not killing anyone," I say "I probably wouldn't be able to stop any of you, but I refuse."
''Then either find another way to silence them or live with the aftermath''
Rabi sticks his tongue out and flicks one of Silver's ears teasingly "I got that much, dear. I just wasn't sure what else I should try after that. Regardless, I /should/ be able to make it. I might need some time to figure it out through my spyglass, though…">>708901>>708903
"Be careful, dear." he murmurs, before settling in to line up a shot.
>Aim: [1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
I study Aegis for a moment, gulp, and look back to the group. Alright. She's kinda scary. Probably best to just keep my mouth shut for now.
You stick to the bushes and creep around, sizing up the encounter, ready to strike.>>708905
You summon three glacial orbs, which hover idly above your head, ready to be sent out at a moment's notice.>>708910
You line up an arrow, closing one eye to aim right on the minotaur's hand. He is entertaining himself terrifying the mare by shooting at the ground where she stands without warning.>>708903>>708905>>708908>>708910
Violet stands ready to pounce, giving you a meaningful nod from the bushes. She's ready to strike when you are.
Carefully applying a dose of midnight oil to a shiv, i bring the blade around to cut into an exposed part of the minotaur!
[1d10] Sleep serum, Gun-otaurRoll #1 1 = 1
Aegis prepared to fire, watching closely for Rabi's shot, mentally aiming the orbs to home in on the bandit's hand in case he misses, but if not she would quickly switch targets to the black minotaur near Violet
She also readied another more concentrated spell barrage for the minotaur with the gun just to keep him busy
[3d10] Homing magic, elementalist ice
[2d10] magic bolt, elementalist iceRoll #1 4, 2, 2 = 8
/ Roll #2 9, 4 = 13
Rabi nods a little bit, satisfied, and looses the arrow at his gun. To help whittle him down, he imbues the arrow with enough magic to split in two!>Split
Without any kind of distance attack I hang back and wait for an opening. In the meantime I try to summon two more rats.
[1d10]improviseRoll #1 8 = 8
You rush out, but the minotaur's ears prick up, and he grabs you with his free hand by the neck before ramming you to the ground in a chokeslam. "You again! Still trying to play the hero? Where's your big kitty friend? Eh?">Silver takes 5 hits, helpless>>708918
Your crystal orbs go wide, shattering against some nearby trees. Your magic bolt hits the minotaur square in the chest, and he staggers backwards with a grunt.>>708919
Your arrow splits in two, spinning in a helix pattern through the air before striking the gun out of his hand. The minotaur looks around in confusion before spotting you, letting out a low growl.>>708920
Two rats, Brie and Camembert (Cammie), join the fray. They seem more eager to get out than Rocky does.>>708917>>708918>>708919>>708920
"Three. Two. One." Violet pounces out and grabs the black minotaur from behind, pulling him to the ground and slowly choking him out, teeth gritted as he squirms and kicks at her. All hell breaks loose as the bandits bark orders to each other, huddling together and bracing for a fight.
Bandit A (the gun minotaur) paws the ground and lowers his horns, getting ready to charge Rabi.
Bandit B (the black minotaur) keeps struggling to break free of Violet's grip. She holds on with all her strength, squeezing the air out of him.
[2d10] B vs Violet
Bandit C (the white minotaur) starts moving towards the pegasus merchant, aiming to try and grab him.
D (a saurian) moves over towards the earth pony merchant, trying to do the same.
E (a unicorn) fires a spell at Aegis.
F (a griffon) moves over towards Violet, aiming to try and pry her off.
G (a bat pony) pulls out a throwing knife and hurls it at Norv.
Aurora casts a white spell on Silver.>Silver is BolsteredRoll #1 9, 8 = 17
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
Seeing stars from being slammed into the dirt, Aurora's magic allows me to catch my breath and bring me to my hooves.
"We won't need him to teach you your lesson, you sorry fool!" i reply, coughing from the impact.
"I intend to keep my promise this time, my revenge will be swift for the humiliation
you put me through in that fateful inn!"
I open my cage as the rats come out. Before I get the chance to give them any orders, I see one of them eying me and yip as a knife flies right toward me. In a desperate attempt at not being hit with said knife I hit the deck.
[1d10]Roll #1 1 = 1
Rabi lets out a satisfied grin when the shot lands, dropping his bow and whipping his rifle out to fire off a fully charged blast into his shoulder as he hunkers down.>Surge Shot: [1d10+2] (Fire)Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Aegis clicked her tongue seeing most of her shots fail. She began to prepare another spell, but glancing behind herself she noticed Aurora supporting the team, and changed plans on the spot. Moving back to dodge the Unicorn's spell while analyzing the white spell she puts on Silver while preparing a smaller, less focused blast to keep the black minotaur busy
[1d10] magic attackRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
"C'mon then, poppet," he grins viciously. "After I'm done with your friend 'ere, you're next!">>708925
You aren't fast enough to dodge the thrown dagger. It hits you square in the collarbone, sending a shock of pain through your chest and neck. Your head feels light, and before you know it, you're downed.>>708927
You flick the bolt back as he prepares to charge, and focus your amgical attunement on it. The Copperhead rumbles dangerously, and when you take your shot you are sent staggering backwards from the force of the recoil. The snake-like decorations on the barrel flash blue as you fire your shot, tearing through his shoulder like it's made of tissue paper. He howls in pain and staggers backwards, clutching his injured shoulder and slumping against a tree. "….Not bad. Another!">>708928
You instinctively raise your shield, and the unicorn's shot bounces off of it harmlessly. You take a moment to analyze Aurora's strengthening spell, storing the memory of it for later use before firing off a blast of magic at the black minotaur, hitting him in the arm, which smokes violently. He wheezes in pain, looking around in confusion.>>708924>>708925>>708927
Bleeding heavily, minotaur A struggles to get back up, his breathing ragged.
Violet keeps clinging on, but as she sees Norv get hurt, her grip loosens, and minotaur B breaks free, coughing and wheezing. He's stunned for a moment as he gets his bearings.
C grabs the merchant, wrapping one thick arm around his neck, dragging him away by the wings, threatening to break them.>Hostage Situation! C is guarded by the pegasus merchant
D does the same, holding a knife to the mare's throat.>D is guarded
E tries to summon several magic orbs around himself.
[1d10] Homing Magic
F grapples with Violet for a moment, but she manages to get away from him. He tries to grab her as she immediately rushes over to Norv, biting her lip with worry as she tries to help him up.
[1d10] F Grapple
[1d10] Violet assist
G, seeing Rabi pull out the rifle, hurls another knife, this time at him.
Aurora pulls out her silver sword and flies up, swinging at G with clenched teeth.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 2 = 2
/ Roll #4 7 = 7
/ Roll #5 7 = 7
/ Roll #6 4 = 4
I scream as the knife slams into me, barely noticing as I teeter fall on my side. I clench my jaw and groan. I haven't even done anything yet and I'm already down. As I see Vi move to help me I feel even worse. Now I'm taking her away from combat, and she's turning her back on enemies. "I'm sorry," I mutter as she helps me to my feet. Seeing the two hostages, I click my tongue to get Cammie and Brie's attention. "Sneak around and try to attack them from the back," I order. Quietly, the two scamper out of the cage and try to stay low to the ground and move unseen through the grass.
[1d10+1]BrieRoll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6
With the hostages being dragged away, i take advantage of the chaos to dive back into the bushes, trying to hide and pursue.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 7 = 7
Amidst the chaos of the battle, Aegis sees the ponies being taken hostage. She squints as she prepares to fire off another set of crystal ice blasts
[1d10] homing magicRoll #1 4 = 4
Zunden charges one of her rings, preparing to blind the marauders.
Rabi looks at the first Minotaur, a little surprised by the fact that he's still conscious. He shakes it off, turning to aim the rifle at the third minotaur, and instead redirects himself to one of the three not taking a hostage. He channels a bit of his magic into the gun, firing out a small bolt of green energy at the one attempting to cast a spell.>Silence [1d10+2]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
You see Violet spin around and deliver a powerful roundhouse kick to the griffon's head, knocking him out cold. Without missing a beat, she rushes over to you, grabs you by your good arm and hauls you up, looking at the wound with concern, but breathing a sigh of relief when she sees it's a flesh wound. She shrugs off your apology. "Can you walk?"
Cammie and Brie scurry into the bushes, maneuvering behind the two Mummers. They blend into the environment easily, almost impossible to detect due to their size and general inconspicuousness.>>708933
You dip out of the fight and stalk the two as they start retreating, holding the merchants firmly despite their constant struggling. They start talking to each other, seemingly discussing what to do, but you can't quite make out what they're saying.>roll Perception if you want more information>>708934
The general bedlam taking place right now makes it difficult to concentrate. You fail to summon the crystal orbs.>>708935
You close your eyes and focus for a moment, charging up the channeler's ring, ready to unleash a magical flash.>>708937
You fire a magic bullet at the spellcaster, completely shutting down his attempt to mimic Aegis' spell. His horn fizzles ineffectively as strands of green energy coil around him, restricting his spellcasting. Your effort to do so, however, distracted you from an incoming throwing knife; you take a nasty flesh wound to the foreleg that starts bleeding heavily.>Rabi takes 2 hits>>708932>>708933>>708934>>708935>>708937
Minotaur A keeps trying to stand, giving a wide, bloody grin.
B starts preparing to charge at Violet, who's distracted momentarily as she takes care of Norv.
C and D keep retreating down the dirt path with the merchants in tow.
E curses at Rabi, being unable to act for now.
F gets the lights knocked out of him by Violet, falling unconscious.>6 bandits remaining
G's attention is called to Zunden, and he hurls a knife at her.
"Zunden, look out!!" Aurora calls as she swings at G. The bat pony soars out of the way and kicks her in the chest, knocking her off balance midair, but she rights herself and wheels about for another swing.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
/ Roll #3 4 = 4
Zunden nods to Aurora, raising her clenched claw and unleashing the charged ring's power.
>Flash: spell, recharge 3; Emit a burst of magical energy, attuned to Light. Affects enemies all around you, but does not deal damage unless on crit, instead debuffing them with the effects of the Light element. (The target is momentarily blinded, suffering +1 DC to all rolls on its next turn, or +2 on a crit. This damage type deals twice as many hits versus undead enemies. Radiant spells can be used to illuminate the environment, providing a dazzling light source.)
[1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Aegis lets go of her breath and looses her focus for a moment, but it didn't seem to bother the crystal mare so much as she simply channeled a fierce blast of magic to fire at the black minotaur, who she saw was charging at Violet
[2d10] Magic bolt, elementalist iceRoll #1 6, 2 = 8
Following the pair, i perk my ears, trying to gather what they're talking about as i pursue.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 3 = 3
Rabi winces a little bit, grabbing at his foreleg and dropping his bow. He picks it back up with his un-knifed forleg, and focuses his magic into it to lob a bolt of flame at the feet of the bandit that hurled a knife at him.>Magic Bolt: [1d10+2]Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
I'm still a little dizzy, and my arm aches, but I think for the most part I'm alright. Not sure if I risk taking the knife out, I leave it in for now. "Yeah. I should be fine. Thank you." I notice the minotaur preparing to charge over Violet's shoulder and shout, "Look out!" On reflex I move between him and her. I wonder if I can even close the distance before he charges. Hoping to manage, I charge him first.
Cammie and Brie leap out at C and D respectively, biting into their achilles tendon to try and slow them.
[1d10+1]CammieRoll #1 7 + 1 = 8
/ Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3
You take a throwing knife to the side, but it doesn't leave much more than a flesh wound, thanks to your armor and scales. >Zunden takes 1 hit
The area is engulfed in searing light as you thrust your fist into the air. A small shockwave rattles the area, and many of the bandits fall to the ground, covering their eyes and crying in pain. Even the would-be kidnappers stumble backwards, letting go of their hostages for a moment.>>708941
You fire off a large crystalline bolt as he begins to charge, , but it glances off of him. He barely even notices it.>>708942
You only catch a few key words. "Mother… Playthings… Tiny…" Zunden's flash knocks them both to the ground, so whatever they were planning doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.>>708943
Your flaming arrow hits him in the wing, quickly spreading to the rest of him. Panicking, the bat pony spirals to the ground in an effort to extinguish the flames, knocked helpless for now.>>708944
Cammie gets her tail stepped on by the angry marauder, but Brie sinks her teeth into his leg, slowing him down and making him stumble. He charges right into you, slamming his weight against you, but the impact is lessened by his bad leg, and you take it on the chin and roll over, slightly winded but otherwise unharmed.>Cammie takes 3 hits, helpless>>708939>>708941>>708942>>708943>>708944
Minotaur A is blinded and stunned by the flash of light, and soon loses consciousness. Many of them seem completely stunned by Zunden's flash, unable to see. The merchants take the opportunity and gallop off, trying to find a hiding spot.
C and D are dazed, but still standing. "Get back 'ere!" the minotaur bellows as both of them take off after the merchants.
The rest of them have been severely crippled by Zunden's blinding spell, and are in no shape to fight anymore, either trying to pick themselves up like a flipped turtle or stumbling about blindly, flailing at thin air. Aurora flies down and dusts her hooves, nodding at Zunden with a slight smile of gratitude. Violet looks around before moving over to make sure Norv's alright, looking around at the chaos you've caused. "Well… that went well. Good on you, Z! Now let's go help those guys and get out of here, yeah?"Roll #1 6, 10 = 16
/ Roll #2 3, 7 = 10
Seeing the battle is nearing its end, Aegis prepared to conjure more ice orbs to to blast any remaining fighters on the enemy party
[1d10] homing magicRoll #1 10 = 10
Momentarily blinded, my vision clears quickly enough to see the minotaur pursue the merchants!
Acting fast, i quietly dash from my hiding space, oil-soaked Shiv aiming for the fastest minotaur of the two!
[1d10] Sleep serum, Minotaur DRoll #1 7 = 7
I wheeze as he slams into me, somehow not having expected him to still charge without more distance. Fighting for breath, I pick myself up off the ground. After I stand, I rush over to Cammie, who sets squealing in pain on the ground. Images of the now dead Stilton and Grav flash through my mind. "C'mon," I half assure her, half plead. "You're gonna be okay."
She fights to gain control of herself and stand. [1d10+1]
While Brie scampers after the Minotaurs chasing the two merchants, moving to bite Minotaur C's other leg. [1d10+1]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2
"Hey! Focus on us, not them!" Rabi shouts, forming another blue, magic arrow and flinging it towards them. It splits into two, slamming into the backs of both of them.>[1d10+2] (Magic Bow, Split)Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12
Zunden holds out her staff and prepares to bind the third minotaur with tentacles.>>708950
but stops as she sees Rabi fire two arrows directly into the troublemakers. She makes to tend the injuries of the others.
Healing Bonds: Norv, Zunden, Cammie the rat
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Energy flows through you, a chill wind blowing your clothes dramatically as five crystal energy masses appear above you in a neat little arc.>>708948
You fly out and shank the saurian in the side several times before retreating back into the shadows. He grunts in pain, clutching his side before collapsing unconscious with a loud thud.>>708949
Her tail is broken, but the little trooper of a rat rights herself and jumps into your hand, looking for security.
Minotaur C inadvertently kicks Brie, sending her careening into a log with a soft splat. At first you think she's gone, but you can see she's still breathing, albeit shallowly. She looks like she broke some ribs. Violet covers her mouth with her hoof. "Is she…?">>708950
You fire a helix arrow, which splits in midair and splits in a V shape, nailing both of them in the back, piercing their lungs. They both wheeze quietly, stumbling in place before falling over, dead. Aurora nods in approval. "Nice shot," she comments.>>708951
You clutch your staff and channel its healing energies, bathing your allies in a soft yellow glow.>Norv is at 5/5>Zunden is at 5/5>Cammie is at 3/3>>708947>>708948>>708949>>708950>>708951
Seeing their pursuers drop dead and the other bandits incapacitated, the two frightened merchants start slowly making their way back. They are a young green pegasus stallion and a earth pony mare with a grey coat, respectively. "Th… thanks, strangers," says the mare. "Would've been done for if it wasn't for you!" "Who ARE you?" the pegasus asks curiously. "Never seen anyone fight like that before. That was amazing!"
My nose curls as I see the two collapse and I can't help but look away. I guess it couldn't be helped, and the two merchants are okay. My blood runs cold as the minotaur kicks Brie and I rush over to her, dropping down. Gently, I scoop her into my hands and tears well up in the corners of my eyes. Maybe I should stop having them fight completely. I'll be way less useful, but at least they'll be safe. "It's okay, girl," I whisper. "You're gonna be fine. Let me just-" I look over my shoulder. "Z! Can you help me?"
Correction: the saurian and minotaur take magical bolts to the back, the latter getting knocked over by the blow while the other succumbs to Silver's poison. They're down and out, but not dead.
As Aegis conjures the crystal masses, she watches as the battle unfolds and seemingly come to an end. Looking undisturbed, Aegis calmly walked to join the group with the merchants, but kept the orbs around just in case, casting a slightly eerie blue glow above her
''Drifters, that is what we should be called, yes?'' She momentarily glanced at Violet for comfirmation before staying quiet and letting the others talk
Zunden rubs her chin,
"I zuppoze we have no offizial title or anyzhing. We're juzt travelerz, and zaw zomeone in trouble."
Zunden snaps her head back, not realizing the other rat was injured as well. She nods sternly, squatting down.
"I've healed petz before, I'll zee what I can do."
She looks to Aurora, beckoning her over, and sending a healing pulse into the chest of the rat.
[1d10] MendRoll #1 1 = 1
Zunden places a claw on Aurora's back as she comes to help, invoking mystic determination in order to help keep Norv's furry friend alive.
>The Chariot: automatic instant, once per session; When invoked, this card fills you with determination from beyond. Your next roll, or that of one of your allies, counts as a critical success, no matter what the result. Further attempts to invoke the power of the Chariot will result in your next roll counting as a critical fail instead.
Satisfied with two dropping unconscious, the stallion smiles a little at Silver, before looking to the merchants and offering a shrug
"Uhm… I guess we could introduce ourselves? We don't really have any group name… but, it was our pleasure to help regardless. I'm Rabi.">>708953>>708956
Rabi winces a little as he looks the rat over, before speaking up with "Maybe… we could find some sort of trinket to help them stay safe at the Swap Meet? Even if it's just some little, ehm… rat-armor. I'd hate to see one get stomped out."
stepping out of the brush, i dust the leaves off my armor with a wing.
"Excellent, it seems as if everypony is alright."
clearing my throat, i offer extend my wings in a bow.
"I am Silver Song, Daughter of Brass Tacks and Heiress to Dominion Rails. I'm quite glad we managed to arrive on time, those bandits looked more than ready to give you a rather grisly end."
Aurora flies over as Norv calls for help, seeing Zunden's spell fail. "Hmm. Let me try…" Her necklace glows and emits a small shockwave as she concentrates on healing Brie, and you hear the soft rumbling of distant chariot wheels. Aurora's ears perk up, and she gives Zunden an odd look, but shakes it off as her ears playing tricks on her.
Violet nods and gives you an encouraging smile.>>708955>>708956>>708958>>708959
"Like the others said," Violet chimes in, looking away from the wounded rat for a moment, "we were passing by and saw you needed help."
"Well… we certainly appreciate it!" the mare says happily. "I thought we'd be kidnapped for sure!"
"Er, I suppose you'll be wanting some sort of reward?" the pegasus asks, picking his way over to the caravan. "We don't have much, but help yourself to whatever you like. We owe you that much at least, drifters." The mare nods eagerly. "I'm Streaky, by the way," she adds with a polite little bow, "and this is my brother Dilemma. Pleased to meet you all!"
>pausing Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
''Its a pleasure'' Aegis says without any excitement as she does a curt bow to the duo, joining them as they walk to the caravan
She didn't say anything yet, but Aegis scanned the place for anything of interest among their belongings
Aurora's pendant begins to glow as she tries to heal the wounded rat. At first it seems like her spell isn't working, but after a brief moment, its broken bones start realigning in a slightly gruesome display. Before long, though, Brie is better than ever, perking up and starting to sniff out her surroundings. Aurora blinks in surprise. "It… worked? Huh…" She shoots Zunden a curious glance. "Did… did you feel something just now?"
I gently pet her with the back of my claw as both Z and Aurora try to help her. "It's alright," I whisper. "You have two great healers helping you." I briefly hear the two behind me, but can't tear myself away from Brie long enough to care. The battle is over, so she's not getting any worse, right? So why am I freaking out?
"Oh, that would be lovely, thank you! We were just
on route to the swap meet, more to trade would be perfect."
"Of course, we wouldn't be much better than the bandits to simply trot away with something of note; we can put together enough bits to compensate the offering."
I turn away slightly, squinting as I watch her bones realign. Whatever happened, she seems fine now. I give her a scratch on the top of her head and move to my cage, letting her into it. In one flash I unsummon all three of my rats, pick up my cage, and rejoin the party. "Thank you," I say to both Z and Aurora.
"Anyway." I force the anxiety down, trying my best not to think about it for now. Turning to the two merchants, I smile and nod. "It wasn't a problem at all. We couldn't just let you get kidnapped. Nice to meet the both of you. I'm Norv."
Is it really okay to just take something? We would have saved them anyway, and it feels like extortion.
Zunden grins, "I zuppoze zo, you did a good job zhere zhough. Zhankz for ze help.">>708960>>709540
Zunden nods, "Yeah, zhiz waz uz doing a good turn, we zertainly don't require anyzhing. It'z tough enough to get by az iz wizhout giving out rewardz every time zomeone doez a good deed."
"I'm with you on this one, Norv- though, if you're traders yourselves, we could buy a thing or two."
You examine their wagon. They have a collection of weapons, armor and clothes for sale, seemingly scavenged from here and there. Of note are the following items:
-Harridan's Archstaff>great, catalyst, +1 to basic attack rolls
A sturdy wooden staff with both tips banded in steel. Can be used as a spellcasting catalyst, but also doubles as a hefty quarterstaff for use in combat. Useful for any spell slinging warrior.>60 bits
-Mournwing Cloak>passive; +2 to Stealth rolls, -1 crit range on Backstab
A dark blue hooded cloak of a shimmering, velvety material, with a pattern somewhat like raven feathers along the back. Imbued with a magical enchantment that blends its wearer in with their environment near effortlessly.>75 bits
-Raptor's Guise>passive; +1 to Perception checks and grants access to either Marksman Shot or Rupture. The skill granted is decided at the start of combat.
A visored helmet made out of the skull of some fierce bird. When worn, the wearer's senses are enhanced, allowing them to strike with the speed and accuracy of an eagle.>90 bits
-Spry Sabots>passive; +1 max hits, +2 dodge rolls
A pair of wooden shoes, designed to fit both feet and hooves. Despite their awkward appearance, they are surprisingly comfortable, and make for a sturdy defensive option as well as allowing for a firmer grip on the ground.>50 bits
-Dragon Hunter's Yumi>ranged, great, targets are rendered helpless for 1 turn on crit; passive -2 to dodge rolls and stealth rolls while equipped
A truly monstrous wooden bow with equally monstrous arrows. Requires great strength and finesse to use. This mighty weapon packs a considerable punch, sending its targets flying, resembling more of a portable siege weapon than a normal bow; however, such a thing is cumbersome, and the user's movements will be slowed by this gigantic weapon.>80 bits>>709539
The two exchange a glance. "Well," says Streaky, "you, er, probably shouldn't take everything. But you can have one item for free! How's that sound?" "We do have a business to run, after all," says Dilemma, shifting in place a little.>>709540
Violet breathes a sigh of relief as Brie seems healed, nodding in approval as you unsummon them. "Better to let them rest for now," she muses. Aurora gives you a nod of acknowledgement.
"Pleased to meet you too!" says Streaky cheerily.>>709541>>709540>>709542
"Oh no, we insist!" says Dilemma. "Please, take a look. I'm sure you'll find something of use!"
Aegis eyed through the items of interest, stoping at the staff and the cloack, both which seemed to catch her attention, especially the cloack
''Excuse me'' She spoke up to the salespony duo ''Can you tell me more about this cloack?''
"Well, if you're sure." I wander around, looking at the different wares. As I'm looking at the shoes the helmet catches my eye. "Huh. This thing is kind of neat."
''I liked that one too, it is very tribal-looking, but look at this''
Aegis holds up the blue Cloak to Norv ''The pattern worked on the cloth is masterfully done in this, I thought it looked very sleek'' She says without a hint of excitement in her voice
I chuckle. "These two together would be kinda spooky. Like some kinda creepy bird."
''Good point, maybe they were meant to be worn together, but are you not afraid of ridicule by going around wearing a bird skull mask like some kind of savage?''
I look the helmet over again. "Yeah, that's a good point. I guess it would be a little silly."
In spite of me agreeing with her I deflate a little.
''At least it would protect your head from surprise crossbow bolts to the head, so it should be worth of any potential embarassment''
"Woah… that bow is fantastic. Where'd you find something like this?" he asks, blinking in surprise as he looks it over.
Zunden eyes the staff, looking at her current one.
"I zuppoze I could put you on dizplay in my room, hate to loze part of my tribe in a battle or zomezhing…"
She rubs her chin, "Do you have any winter gear? I've been zhinking of making zure I have an outfit if we ever go to zuch a climate.">>709547
Zunden comes up to Norvegicus, speaking quietly as to not have Violet overhear.
"I zhink ze helmet would look cute on Violet, ze look zertainly fitz a ranger like her.
"Yeah," I whisper back. "I was thinking the same thing, but now I feel like she'd probably think it was silly."
"Glaze iz a newcomer, what doez it matter. I'd zay pick it up right before we head back for ze zhip and gift it to her later."
seeing i've minced my words, i hastily reassure the pair. "Oh no, you misunderstand, i didn't mean to imply i'd simply take everything
, Just that i would be happy to pay!"
Flustered, i smooth down my feathers and take a look at the items arrayed, eyes going wide at the sight of the cloak.
"Oh my, this looks lovely! I simply must
try this on.">>709553
"Ah, yes, if you do carry some clothing i'd like to know as well, a cloak this lovely really should have an outfit to match, Purchased with bits, of course."
''Here, I'll help you put it on if you need it'' Aegis says, handing the cloak over to Silver
I nod. "Yeah. I think I might do that."
"Juzt tell me when, I might gift her ze remade weapon at ze zame time.
"Oh, interested in the cloak as well, are we?"
"It's quite alright if you'd rather take it, Aegis. The swap meet is bound to be quite the place for accessories, and it does
work well with your coat.."
"Certainly!" Dilemma shuffles over to you eagerly. "We found this one in… er… Hey sis, where did we get this one from again?"
Streaky thinks. "Valley of the Lost, wasn't it? Those wraiths?"
"Oh yeah!" He nods eagerly. "We were in the Valley of the Lost, right, and we came across these angry ghosts. Thought they were going to kill us, but it turned out all they wanted was their bodies to be given a proper burial. We did our best, and in return, they let us keep the stuff on the bodies. Of course, we're not exactly adventuring material, but I figure they should go to someone more deserving. Right? It's yours if you want it!">>709545
"It is, isn't it?" Streaky wanders over to you. "We managed to barter it off of a wandering goat. Traded it for… oh, I don't remember. A sword or something. Pretty nifty, huh?" She flips the visor up and down to demonstrate.>>709548>>709549
"Well I think it looks cool," Violet chimes in, sounding a little defensive.>>709552
The bow is truly massive. It has a spike at the bottom to help with adjusting the aim, and it stretches up to be even taller than you. In spite of this, and its hefty weight, it is quite flexible, although drawing it requires great effort. The arrows are more like tiny spears, clearly designed for hunting larger prey.
"We were at Fiddler's Green, and there was a big weapon market on at the time," says Streaky. "We traded it for a nice suit of armor we picked up from a cave on Mount Alken.">>709553
They exchange a glance. "We might do…" They both start rummaging around a large wardrobe full of clothes, hmming and aahing as they look over a disparity of different articles of clothing.
"Aha! How's this?" They find an elaborate getup just for you, consisting of a white fur cloak, a brown padded shirt with elaborate embroidery, and a flowing green and yellow skirt. It looks about one size too big for you. "I'm afraid this is all we could find for winter gear. It doesn't really get cold in these parts, after all. Do… do you like it?">>709556
The cloak is smooth as velvet to the touch, and drapes over you in a single fluid motion. It fits you like a glove.
"We do have an arrangement of clothes for sale!" Streaky directs you towards the wardrobe. "Go on, take a gander!" says Dilemma encouragingly.>assume that they have whatever sorts of clothes you'd be looking for
''I thought the same, but it matches your mane better, if you want to take it I will not hold it against you, it was the group's idea to come rescue the merchants after all so you should have priority over me. That said if you are sure you dont want it, I would be glad to take it, it would be a start to have some variety to my wardrobe, as I only have two sets of dresses to my name''>>709561
''So it came from a corpse then… That certainly is a bit disencouraging to hear, still I'm willing to get it. how much do you want for it?''
Aegis briefly turns to Violet ''I wont deny it has a pleasing aesthetic to it, but do you honestly think it would look good on Norvegicus?'' she glances at the dog
"Interesting… what sort of creatures did they hunt there?" he asks, stroking his chin a little bit. Upon the mention of an arrangement of clothes, he smiles and gives Silver Song a friendly poke.>>709560
"Maybe they'll have something for you! Take a look, yeah?"
Zunden looks at the clothing with curiosity, "It doez interezt me yez, do you mind if I try it on? Zometimez materialz get ztuck on my zcalez zo juzt want to zee if it will work for me."
She tries on the outfit with permission, seeing how big the size disparity is,
"What exactly wore zhiz before me? Lookz zized for a minotaur."
I have to keep my mouth from curling into a smug smirk at Vi's comment. Hah. Take that, new pony. "Eh," I say. "I don't know." I lean in and play with the visor a little. "Seems useful, but I guess it is a little weird." I'm definitely buying it before we leave, but I really don't want to give her any reason to suspect.
"Very true, perhaps it would be better to save our bits and opt to simply find something to wear.">>709562
"Feel free, dear, i'm sure i'll find a cloak at the swap meet, once we have the time." i reply, hoofing the cloak back to you.>>709561
Peering into the wardrobe, i dig through the outfits with interest, spying an interesting ensemble of mostly leather, dark and fitted, with lighter material at the joints for easy movement.
"Hmm? My, this looks like quite the ensemble, something to blend nicely into the dark with."
"Nothing!" says Streaky. "It's for free! You saved us after all, we owe you that much."
"Well… it would look out of place, I suppose. But is fashion really that important? It's not like whoever we fight will be stopping to admire us. Right?">>709563
"Why, I didn't ask. Obviously something big and mean, though. Fiddler's Green is a town, I don't think they'd be hunting anything there. Maybe the river monsters, but…" She shrugs.>>709564
"Sure, sure, go ahead!" Dilemma urges you.
The outfit is a little baggy, but not unwearably so. The fur insulation helps keep you warm, making it suitable for cold environments; in the current temperate weather, it just makes you feel hot and uncomfortable. You'd be sweating bullets if you had sweat glands.
"I'm… not sure, actually," says Dilemma, rubbing the back of his head. "We bought a bunch of these clothes in bulk. Probably a minotaur, from the looks of it.">>709565
Violet looks a bit disappointed. "Well you guys have bad taste," she says cattily, and trots off to inspect a gem-hilted longsword, standing apart from everyone else and waving it around a bit. Something about it seems to bother her though, and she puts it back, continuing to peruse their wares idly.>>709566
"Ooh, good pick," Streaky comments. "It'd go well with that old cloak we found, don't you think?" "Good for defense, too," Dilemma chimes in, poking at the tough but flexible leather.
Aurora looks over from inspecting some sort of ring shaped throwing weapon. "Huh. That's a nice suit. I think it'd look good on you."
With a nod, Aegis takes the cloak back ''Understood, thank you Lady Silver''>>709567
''I cannot, the decision to save you was theirs, not mine, I was simply along to help'' She goes to her bag to fetch some bits
''I will pay you in full, as long as the price is fair, so once again, how much do you want for it?''
I feel a little bad, but I'm sure it'll be worth it down the line. Already having decided what I'm going to do, I just idly mill about the caravan.
"A good pick indeed! Thank you again, you two.">>709568
"Not a problem, really." i reply, waving you off with a wing. "I've quite the wardrobe already, a cloak as nice as that should go to a pony who could make better use of it."
Zunden churrs as she starts to heat up, enjoying it until the heat gets a bit unbearable. She sheds the gear, folding it.
"I am cold-blooded, zo I'm much more vunerable to cold weazher. I don't know where my travelz will lead me, so I feel like zhiz will prove uzeful. How much for it and ze ztaff togezher? I want to buy zhem bozh, I zertainly don't feel like you 'owe' uz anyzhing, honeztly."
"Sounds good to me, then!"
Streaky thinks for a moment. "Er… Shall we say 75 bits? That seems fair, for the quality of it. Right?" Dilemma nods in approval. "75 bits," he echoes.>>709569
You look about. It's a cramped little caravan, with most of it dedicated to their stock, and very little leg room. "Not much to look at, I know," Streaky comments as she sees you milling about. "But it's home!">>709570
"You're very welcome!" They let you keep the new armor for free as gratitude for having helped out.>passive; +1 hits>>709571
They think. "Shall we go with 95 bits altogether?" "Is that okay?">>709572
Dilemma staggers to grab the bow and pass it to you, breaking a bit of a sweat as he carries the massive weapon. "80 bits for it," he grunts, wiping his brow.
"Ehm… I'd be willing to pay for the bow- I'd rather not take something for free, if you understand."
"Hrm… I wonder who this was even made for- were any of the ponies in the town of a size to use something like this easily. I might need to start a bit of strength training, honestly… this could be tough."
"Excellent.. Now, i'm afraid we must be off, we've plenty of ground to cover if we want to make it to the swap meet in time."
"When everypony is ready, of course." i address to the others, bundling up my new outfit and stepping away from the pair, waiting for the others to catch up.
I smile. "Yeah. Serves its purpose, right?">>709576
I walk over to where the clothes are and pretend to look around. "You guys go on ahead. I'll catch up with you in a sec. Think I might see if I can find something I like here."
Zunden takes a coin pouch out from the bag of holding and beings to take 5 coins out of it, before putting them back in.
"One hundred iz cloze enough. You zeem like good people."
She takes her former walking stick and holds the bag of holding open, placing it in with a satisfying drop.
"I don't think it was made for us ponies," he shrugs. "Horses like you would have an easier time of it, wouldn't you? Hope you get more use out of it than we did!">-80 bits>>709576
"Of course, of course. We've all got places to be after all, don't we? Maybe we'll see you at the Meet!">>709577
Violet blinks. "Sure thing. Take your time. We'll wait for you on the ship, okay?" Aurora nods to you and heads off with the others.>>709578
"Oh! Thank you kindly!" Dilemma counts out the coin and stashes it.>-100 bits
You place the staff in the bag. It makes a weird sort of shoonk
sound as it drops.>>709575>>709576>>709578
"Bye now!" says Streaky. "Good luck out there!" "Thanks again for everything!" Dilemma adds, waving as you leave. "You really saved our necks!"
You head back onto the ship, climbing up a rope ladder and back on board. Aurora takes her perch atop the crow's nest, while Violet stays near the railing, looking out and waiting for Norv. "Hope he gets back soon," she comments. "We really shouldn't dawdle any more than we have to. I feel like we might reach the Weeping City soon-ish." She points out the grey clouds in the distance. "Best get ready for rain. They don't call it that for nothing, you know."
After everyone leaves I pick the helmet back up and carry it over to Streaky. "I'd like this please. How much?"
"90," Streaky answers. "It's quite useful, plus it looks nifty."
"It's not that nifty," Dilemma chimes in, crossing his forelegs.
"Still! 90 bits for it."
"We zhould be looking for a plaze to deal wizh ze manhunter zoon enough. Again, I'm zure he'z much ztronger on hiz zhip zhen off of it. Bezidez, I don't know how to operate cannonz."
Zunden says, heading inside and sitting cross legged to begin piloting the ship again. >Dominion: spell; You reach out to the Sanctuary and attempt to manipulate it however you wish, essentially attempting to gain control over the construct. Failure to do so may have catastrophic consequences, and can result in pain or seizure for the user.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
back on the ship, i head below deck to mine and Rabi's room to store my outfit, before returning topside.
"Rain? It feels as if the weather through most of the echoes thus far is quite monotone, would it be the location? Or perhaps a more magical origin?"
"I actually think it looks kinda nifty. Still, 90 bits…" I think about it for a moment. Violet did seem to like it, and it does seem useful. "Alright. 90 bits." After digging around in my bag for my share of the hunt money we at some point or another properly divvied up, I pay. "Thanks," I say, slipping the helmet into my bag. Slinging it back over my shoulder, I make my way to the door. "And good luck!"
They count out the coin. "Thanks! Good luck to you too! Bye now!">-90 bits
You head back on board, where Violet's waiting. "Oh hey, you bought the thing. Neat. Thought you didn't like it.">>709582
You tap into the ship, gaining control over it again. In the cargo hold, the stain still smokes ominously. You get the feeling none of you are truly safe as long as it is there.>>709583
Violet taps her chin. "More like… the whole place is in stasis, I'd say. We do get weather changes, but a lot of the time, it's always the same. I don't think there's even seasons here, at least none that I've noticed. They call it the Weeping City though because of the rain. It never stops raining there. Might be a curse. Might be it was just made that way." She shrugs. "Either way, I hope you don't mind getting wet."
You head back on board, where Violet's waiting. "Hey. That was quick. Find anything good?"
"I'll try, for sure." the stallion says, trying to heft the bow and balance it on his back.>>709583
"Oh, good buy." he comments, leaving the Yumi stowed on deck for now, before heading below deck with the pegasus. "And… yeah, I didn't think about it until now. The weather is odd…"
I shrug, reflexively pushing my bag behind me. "Nah. Not really. Guess none of what they had really interested me." I rejoin everyone on the ship. "Sorry for keeping everyone."
The rest of the day passes without further incident. Lunch and dinner consist of a hearty stew, courtesy of Norv and Zunden. The table feels conspicuously empty without Hermodur there, and at dinner, Violet makes a toast to his wellbeing, wherever he might be. The night is slightly restless, as you ponder what the next day might bring, now that your 24 hour grace period is at an end.
The following morning is rather mundane; after a meager breakfast of fruits and toast, you start flying further due northwest, over a grey, bleak land of ashy twisted trees, cracked clay that hisses with smoke, and unnaturally shaped rocks that seem to ooze like boils; Aegis and Violet recognize this as the Blasted Heath written of in the travel book. The land is a hideous, unsettling sight, and you can't help but feel lucky that you don't have to traverse it on foot. As you keep flying, the clouds begin to darken on the horizon, indicating you are nearing the Weeping City. Violet estimates you will reach it tomorrow morning, and not a moment too soon, it seems; every once in a while, you pass over a convoy headed that way, or a band of like minded drifters, all answering the call of the Swap Meet.
Nothing much happens for the rest of the day. You're not clear of the Blasted Heath until sundown, and even then, the surrounding landscape is barren, and has a certain smell of brimstone to it. Only a few trees here and there indicate you're leaving the ailing land. With Aurora's help, you maneuver the ship into a stony cliff overhang, protecting you both from the elements and from any skyborne threats that might come during the night. After dinner, this time consisting of a dull smorgasbord of trail mix, hard tack, and eggs on toast (or 'chicken on a raft', as Aurora calls it), you all retire to your rooms, and try to get some sleep.
>Before time pass>>709587
While sailing, Zunden goes to visit Rabi, presumably in his room. She knocks before entering, despite seeing within.
Rabi, currently in the middle of inspecting the Yumi he'd acquired earlier, turns to look to the door with a soft smile. "Come on in, Zunden. Need something?"
Having spent the better part of the trip through the Heath worried over the ominous bounty hunter, my fear dissipates somewhat after the uneventful trip.
In bed beside Rabi, my mind remains occupied as i try to relax.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
Rabi leans Silver into his chest and settles his head atop hers, gently stroking her back as he waits for Zunden to come in.
Zunden nods to both. "Zilver, Rabi."
She stands near the door, "I waz hoping to talk to about Hermodur actually, now that he'z er.. gone. If you were busy-"
"Not particularly, no." the stallion says, gently leaning the bow against the bed and turning to Zunden. His smile is a tad more pained, but he's no less willing to listen. "What about?"
"Ah, Hermodur. Yes, he has me quite worried, stubborn as he is about this 'cuckoo' situation."
"Waz juzt wondering if I could uze your charm. Ze uh, Raven. He left zo zuddenly and all… Aurora helped me come to termz, but I want to at leazt zend him zome zhingz in parting. I'd write a letter, but I do not know ze wordz for it. Waz juzt going to be zome food and potionz."
"Of course, Zunden." the stallion says, gesturing to his saddlebags "It's in the leftmost pocket, the small one. You're important to me- to everyone here, Zunden. If I could help you get some more closure, I'd love to." he says, before humming a little.
"As far as the letter, goes… maybe remind him that if he, uh… stops with what he's doing, he still has a place here, and to wish him well? Even if he was a little… intense, I wouldn't forbid him from coming back."
"N-no I mean…" She blushes, "I probably literally do not know ze wordz for it. I am not a great writer."
She hesitantly goes for the saddlebag, slightly uncomfortable going through anyone else's stuff. "Zometimez I wizh I let Hermodur keep ze Dreamcatcher. None of zhiz would have happened."
After finishing re-reading the book on the landmarks of the Echoes for the third time that night, Aegis placed it back in its place at the bookshelf before laying on the bed, undressed. She watched the moonlit scenery from the window for a while, completely still, until eventually she unceremoniously laid down to sleep
'1d10'Roll #1 3 = 3
"Ah… well, I'm not the best writer, either. Maybe think it over some… Silver could help, maybe?" he suggests, before shrugging "As long as it's from the heart, I think it'll get across fine."
Thinking about the Dreamcatcher, the stallion frowns a little "I suppose… but, we can't dwell on the past too much. Let's hope he makes the right choice when it matters."
You read through the book on the history of witchcraft. The book is a rather dryly written treatise cataloguing the inception, subsequent persecution, and begrudging reacceptance of the black arts in the Dominion; at least, in certain parts of it. Those who practice forbidden magics such as necromancy, occultism, and blood magic are viewed as untrustworthy at best, and in some religions, including the Alicorn Faith, declared heretical.
The book also makes great mention of a city known as the Necropolis Litharge, a rumor-shadowed metropolis of black stone situated in the Cold Waste of the far north. Nothing seems to be illegal in Litharge, and necromancers, warlocks and shadow-binders all practice their arts freely and openly. Nothing is forbidden behind Litharge's walls, however depraved or terrible it may be to outsiders. You had heard of Litharge before coming here, but only in rumors and stories. The book writes that not even Litharge's inhabitants know of its origins, claiming that the city has stood since the world began, and will be the last standing at the end of all things.
"I'll likely leave it zhort. I'm zure he'z heard enough from me." Zunden says, slightly downtrodden. "Would you allow me to zend ze Catcher to him az well, actually? I-it'z not zhat I don't truzt him, I juzt worry about ze powerz he iz going againzt."
I shift in bed, tossing and turning as thoughts of what's happened race through my head. Hermodur. The Oneiromancer, who still has a very real presence on our ship. The path ahead. It makes it more than a little difficult to get to sleep and stay that way, especially now that I'm almost out of booze.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
"The Dreamcatcher? Sure, go ahead- I think he could use the help." the stallion says, taking it from around his neck and presenting it to the Saurian.Roll #1 1 = 1
"Zhank you, Rabi. I'm sorry for having to azk you for zheze zhingz. I juzt want to make zure Hermodur knowz we are zhinking of him." Zunden offers a wavering smile. >>709890>after time pass
Zunden sits in her room, crosslegged on her bed as she watches over the entire ship.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Violet is already asleep, curled up in a bun and snoring quietly. As you try to get to sleep yourself, you think you hear something moving outside, like something heavy dragging itself along the wooden floor. >>709894
Just as you start to fall asleep, you think you see something poking through the ajar door, almost like a creature's head surveying the dark room. It soundlessly perks up, and a slender tongue flits in and out rapidly. It freezes, and retreats.>>709909
You are in the midst of falling asleep, comfortable with Silver at your side. You don't notice anything out of the ordinary, your vision blurry as you begin to drift off.>>709903
You stare out at the moon for a while. You notice it is much, much larger than the moon back home, taking up a huge portion of the horizon, looming over you rather ominously. It is full tonight, and the light makes it difficult to get to sleep. For a moment, you think you hear something moving outside your room, but it's probably just the ship settling.>>709910
All is peaceful on board the ship. Many are either asleep or trying to sleep, as far as you can see. Violet is curled up like a cat and sleeping soundly, while Aurora is tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. She seems to have discovered the dilemma of whether wings should go over or under the sheets.
Suddenly, your vision is interrupted for a brief moment. It's almost like everything blurs and distorts for a moment, but then it passes. You haven't experienced anything like it before.
The moonlight shone on Aegis eyes and mane, only not reflected by the crystal mare's coat due to her constant state of dullness
Disregarding the strange noise, she tried to get some rest
H'm? I sit up and open and close my mouth a few times, trying to swallow the lingering taste on my tongue. My mind is still kind of fuzzy, caught halfway between full consciousness and the half-asleep state I was in. Swinging my legs over the bed, I pull myself to my paws and stumble toward the door. Probably just Kairon. I swear, she just gets weirder every time I interact with her. Opening the door, I poke my head outside.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Startled by what looks like something aboard the ship, i throw aside the covers and grab a shiv, shoving open the door as i look frantically around the darkened hull.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 1 = 1
Zunden blinks a few time, summoning a servitor to her side. She casts a light over her room, and makes sure her egg is safe.
Rabi blinks a couple times and jolts awake as Silver seems to bolt up and look around. He grabs his magic bow and whips around, looking for the source of her worry.>[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 10 = 10
You catch a glimpse of a dark silhouette moving through the corridors. It looks quite tall. Might be Zunden. They seem to be going room to room, their back to you. What are they doing?>>709915
You run out and look around in a panic, only to get grabbed by someone from behind. A large scaly claw wraps around your nose and mouth, while you feel what seems like an immensely thick rope coiling around your body. You can barely move, and your head starts feeling light.>roll to break free>>709916
Nothing in your room out of the ordinary. The Servitor stands by your side dutifully, arms crossed.>>709917
You grab your bow and look around, following closely behind Silver. As she runs out into the corridor, you see her get grabbed from behind by a scaled arm, and a great snake-like form starts constricting her.>>709912>>709916>>709913
You hear the BANG of a door being shoved open. Seems like it came from Silver and Rabi's room. >>709913
Violet jolts awake, instinctively reaching for her spear, only to grasp thin air. She fumbles in the dark to grab her kukri instead. "Wha?… What's going on, love?"
Losing consciousness, i struggle with what energy i can muster to break free!
[1d10] ResistRoll #1 10 = 10
Zunden's slight unease turns to full alarm, pointing out at the door for the Servitor to follow after the noise. She unblocks the other two bedrooms from her vision, trying to get a good idea of what's going on.
I glance over my shoulder. "Someone or something was moving outside the room." I grab my cage and kneel down, moving to summon two rats. "I thought maybe it was Kairon, but something is going on in Rabi and Silver's room. After summoning or not summoning my rats I try to quietly make my way to the noise.
[1d10]ImproviseRoll #1 8 = 8
Without hesitation, Aegis pratically jumped out of his bed, her long, untied Mane trailing behind her as she picked her shield and dashed towards Silver's room, preparing a magic attack in advance
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 10 = 10
Hissing in anger, the stallion wastes little time in loosing an arrow made of light into the creature's head.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
You manage to regain your grip on the shiv, stabbing repeatedly at the coils choking the life out of you. You hear a low hiss and a rattle, and the coils loosen for a brief moment, allowing you to squirm out of your captor's grasp.>>709920
The Servitor follows your instructions, moving out towards Silver and Rabi. You take a moment to get your bearings and charge the ring; looking out at the two, you can see Silver struggling, but she seems to be being grabbed by thin air. She manages to free herself by stabbing at something that's blocked from your vision.>>709921
Cottage and Mozzy make their grand debut, a small brown rat and a large white one respectively. Violet nods and creeps behind you, holding the kukri in a reverse grip.>>709922
Five needle-sharp icicles appear above your head, appearing almost like an icy wreath as you run to the room.>>709923
You fire a glowing yellow bolt at the figure, bursting in a spectacular display. He backs off and snarls at you, shaking his head as he's momentarily disoriented by the burst of light.>>709919>>709921>>709922>>709923
You all gather in the same place, Aurora and Violet following shortly after. Rabi's shot illuminates the area, giving a clearer view of what you're up against: a huge serpentine saurian in a black coat, with a rattle at the end of his tail. He has a bandolier with several gadgets, including ammunition, knives, and bombs. His bright eyes narrow as he assesses the situation, pulling a sawn off shotgun from the holster on his back, aiming down the narrow corridor at you all. "Y'all know why I'm here," Clawson hisses, rattling his tail ominously. He has a low, raspy voice, with a regional drawl. "Little lady there musta told you by now. Give up the one called Violet, and I'll be on my way. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way."
I swing behind the wall for cover as the shotgun is aimed at us. "Wait," I shout. "You're seriously not here to kill us? Lysander legitimately just wants you to take Violet? Do you have any idea how creepy that is?"
"You're outnumbered" Aegis spoke up with the chilling magic floating above her head menacingly "And Outskilled. Give up"
From afar, Zunden has the Servitor tap Violet on the shoulder, beckoning her to follow it back to her room.
I click my tongue and gesture for Mozzy and Cottage to scamper up the wall and wait in hiding above the door, ready to drop down if they need to.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #3 6 = 6
Rabi pulls Silver behind him instinctively and channels another bright blue bolt of magic into his bow, before blinking a couple of times in surprise.
"You're… here for Violet? Well, it hardly matters- we're not losing one of our own."
Coughing as i try to recover my breath behind Rabi, i Glare at the Saurian as i ready my Shiv.
"I certainly didn't expect a sneak attack, but your advantage is gone, Clawson!"
"It's her she wants. Her and… the big guy. One that ruined his arm. Assumin' he bailed." He gives a wide grin, baring his sharp, venomous fangs. "But I do get a bonus for killin' y'all. Even if it means blowin' this place to kingdom come.">>709926
Clawson does a quick headcount. "Six against one, is it. Huh. I call that a fair fight," he answers cockily. "…Say. I don't think we've been introduced, missy. You ain't on the list, so I guess Lysander ain't got a problem with you. Got no problem lettin' you go free.">>709927
Violet is all too happy to slink away with the Servitor.
You send your rats up. Cottage gets away easily, but Clawson spots Mozzy, tongue flitting curiously. The tiny rat freezes in place with fear as he eyes it wickedly.>>709929
His eyes flash in recognition as he sees you protect Silver. "Sentimentality, huh. That'll only get you so far around these parts. Shame. You woulda made a great partner.">>709930
"Is it now," he rasps. "…Maybe. I like my odds though.">>709925>>709926>>709929>>709930
"Guess that concludes negotiations then," he shrugs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-aexLJKwME
He springs to life all of a sudden, firing his shotgun out at you as a group. Rabi and Silver, being the closest to him, are directly in the line of fire.
[1d10+2] Autocrit vs Rabi and Silver, regular vs everyone else
He then twists around nimbly with another rattle, hurling a small pewter bomb out into the corridor. The area starts rapidly filling with thick, blinding smoke, making it nearly impossible to see.Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
As the staredown continues, Violet, being at the very back of the group, manages to slip away, following the Servitor back to your room. She frets as she gets back, flinching as a deafening shotgun blast rings out. "What are you stopping me for?" she cries anxiously. "I need to help them!"
"Go, both of you!" I shout at my rats, covering my face as I try to avoid the shot behind the wall. I hope I actually manage to get in to help.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Rolls for rats to shake off, avoid shot, and skeedaddle.Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5
Reacting as fast as i could, i try to shove Rabi onto the floor, away from the blast!
[1d10] get down!Roll #1 7 = 7
Aegis maintained her Stoic look on the Saurian before answering
"I owe them my assistance. I understand what you must do but I cannot allow it" with that she got in battle position, backing off at the sudden gunfire
Squinting, she fired off a few blasts of magic in the general direction of where she last saw Clawson within the smoke, one from the collection of orbs she already had cast and two more she whip up on the spot, hoping that at least one would connect
'1d10+1' magic bolt, taking highest of the two
'1d10+' homing magicRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
'1d10+1' fixed homing magic rollRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Yelping a little, he tries to shove the mare out of the way of the blast. When she shoves him instead he lets out a soft swear, and deciding to make the most of it. He tumbles to the side and grabs his rifle, before channeling his magic into it and pulling the trigger>Surge Shot (Fire) [1d10+2]Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
Zunden looks at Violet, pointing at her bed as she gathers up the magical lute and the Moonlight Sonata,
"He iz after you
, Violet Moon. It doezn't matter how hard you fight, zhat zaurian iz trained in capturing poniez. No one zaw him get on board, If he bagz you and getz away, zhat meanz you're heading right back to Lyzander."
She looks over the music in the spell-light, getting ready to step out into the fray.
"I'm putting ze Zervitor at ze door. If it openz, it'z ordered to ztrike what comez in. Truzt in uz Violet."
She stands out into the hallway, lute in one hand and fist raised in the other, letting out a bright flash.
[1d10+2] FlashRoll #1 3 + 2 = 5
Zunden steps out, finger with the Channeler's ring on it strumming a simple three note melody on the lute.
"Here goes nothing.
[1d10+4] Bask-ing in the Full Moon's FlashRoll #1 4 + 4 = 8
Cottage is frozen in place, and gets pelted with the shotgun blast. You can see the tiny rat barely clinging to life as the smoke begins to rise. Mozzy is slightly luckier, but still gets bowled over by the shotgun pellets. As for yourself, a rush of pain wracks your body as you take some pellets to the chest, but seeing as you're at the back, you're relatively unharmed.>Norv takes 4 hits>Cottage takes 6 hits, helpless at 0/1>Mozzy takes 3 hits, helpless>>709935
You're not fast enough to dodge the shotgun blast, falling to the ground, peppered with shotgun pellets. You feel faint.>Silver takes 7 hits, helpless>>709936>>709937
You are injured by the shot, but not downed yet. You hear a grunt as you fire in Clawson's general direction, your icicle shattering against him. You hear a loud thud as your magic bolt connects.>Aegis takes 4 hits>>709938
Protected by Silver, you reach for the Copperhead and channel your magic into it, firing off an overcharged shot towards him. It sparks and rumbles in your hooves, firing off a deafening shot into the smoke. You hear Clawson hiss and start slithering backwards.>>709939
"B-but… No. I can't just sit by and let them get killed!" She charges out of the room with knife in hand, sticking to the shadows as she tries to flank Clawson.>>709940
You are filled with sudden magical insight and inspiration as you play the lute. Your fingers almost move on their own as you pluck two notes, then strum a dramatic third chord. The lute glows, engulfing the hallway in blinding light. You see the silhouette of Clawson flinching at the sudden flare, shielding his eyes.>>709933>>709935>>709936>>709938>>709939
Clawson's voice rings out through the smoke, sounding rather wavery and frail. "Hehehehe… N-not bad. Fella with the rifle. You have… my respects. That was a damn good blind shot. Got me… right in the gut…"
You hear the sound of an uncorking bottle, and something being swigged. "But I've had worse from better," he says, sounding strong again. You hear him start slithering away.
Aurora, injured but not downed by the blast, casts a strengthening spell on Silver.>Silver is Bolstered
I cry out and drop to a knee beside Mozzy and Cottage. Mozzy tries to pull herself up while I try to help cottage. I don't think I'm going to make them fight again until I have some way to protect them. Maybe some kind of magic to strengthen them through the summoing spell.
[1d10+1]MozzyRoll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
You unfurl the scroll. Notes start appearing on the lines, glowing white and blue in the moonlight from outside. Somehow, you can understand the music being played; it is a lengthy lute tune, and looks extremely complicated to play all at once. You sense that some magical effect will occur if the whole thing is played at once.
Aegis stood back, seeing the Saurian slither away. She glanced down at herself and seemed rather bitter as she saw the bullet holes on her dress
She turned back to the party
"Where is Violet. If she is the one he is after then we should rendezvous to her immediately"
Having taken the broad blast of the shotgun, i had assumed it was over, until Aurora's magic strengthened my resolve, Helping me get back onto my hooves.
"Ugh.. we mustn't.. let him reach Violet."
"Noted. I'd say nothing personal, but…" he looks to Silver, and snorts a bit. With the smoke obscuring the area, the stallion tries to light up one of his arrows to pierce through it.>Magic Bow: Light (Not fired, held for light) [1d10+2]Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3
"Violet! Zhere'z duty and zhere'z playing into your enemy'z handz. You're doing exactly what he'd want you to do!"
Zunden casts a healing spell out to Cottage, Aegis, and Norv.
[1d10] Healing BondsRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
Cottage is bleeding heavily, barely clinging to life as it is. She's in no shape to fight, that's for certain. Mozzy is doing much better for himself, but is still wounded, recovering and immediately starting to groom himself almost frenziedly, licking his wounds.>>709944>>709945
"I'm here," you hear her call out from the smoke. "Z wanted to keep me away, but if we're gonna be fighting him, I can't sit by.">>709946
Your arrow doesn't do much to dispel the smoke in the hallway, other than illuminating it for a brief moment.>>709947
Aegis, Norv, and his rat are healed of their wounds, the latter looking much better already and no longer knocking on death's door.>Aegis and Norv are back at full H/W>Cottage is at 3/2
You can't make head or tail of what playing the Sonata might do, but it gives you an uncomfortable feeling just looking at it.>>709942>>709944>>709945>>709946>>709947
You hear him still on board. It sounds like he's taking a brief moment to convalesce, reloading his shotgun before coming around for round 2.
"Yes you can" Aegis says as she approaches the blue mare "As long as you are in the ship, he will have a reason to stay, and he cannot fight us forever,but we do not know what he is capable of. You must stay away from the fight" Aegis explains, glaring at Violet with complete indifference
"Now go hide with someone before he returns"
Shaking off the impact from earlier, i try to blend into the shadowed hull, on the hunt for the Saurian.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 4 = 4
Zunden grits her teeth, returning back to her room as she hears the sounds of reloading. "Violet Moon, I'm not lozing two of you in a week. Lyzander iz trying to pull uz apart!"
>returning to room with actionRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
"Alright, Violet- stay with us. The last thing we want to do is split up…" thinking on things a little, the stallion decides to try out his new weapon- maybe the force behind the arrow would be enough to keep him down long enough for them to actually make something of it. He hefts the Yumi up with a strained grunt, and tries to keep an eye out for where Clawson may be coming from>Perception: [1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
"Go back to the cage," I tell both Mozzy and Cottage. I stand back up and take a deep breath, trying to still my trembling legs enough to run in and help. "I'll take care of this myself." I just wish I had time to go back to my room and grab some things. Maybe while he's collecting himself. Scooping up both my rats, I sprint back to my room to grab my bag, my hat, and my poison sprayer. Taking a second, I load the sleeper poison into one of the canisters and into the sprayer.
She shakes her head stubbornly. "I'm not letting you guys get hurt because of me. I'll kill him if I have to, but I'm not standing by and letting you take it.">>709950
The ship is illuminated by Rabi's arrows and the moonlight, making it difficult to find a hiding spot. You find Clawson taking a breather in the mess hall, swigging what must be some sort of healing potion from his hip flask before bending down to do… something with the floorboards. You can't tell what. As you enter, he flicks his tongue, wheeling around with an ominous rattle. "Back for more, little missy?" he drawls before lashing out with bared fangs.
He then twists around expertly, whipping you with his tail. "Where's Violet?" he demands.
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to cut this guy's throat if it comes to it," she growls. "I'm tired of getting chased like a common crook."
You go back to your room.>>709952
The yumi is exceedingly heavy and clumsy to handle; not very practical for direct combat at all. The sheer size of it and the arrows it launches - more like small javelins - makes it more suited as a siege weapon, if anything. The intimidation factor alone might make him back down.>>709953
The rats are all too happy to comply, running into the cage and staying there snugly.
You load up the poison sprayer. The canister slides into place with a satisfying click. The Oracle watches you from the sidelines. "This part is always fun to watch,"
Purdue comments snidely. "Good luck, worm.">>709949>>709951>>709952>>709953
The smoke starts to dissipate, and you hear fighting resume, this time coming from the mess hall. Violet springs to action, starting to creep up silently.Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
I sling the sprayer over my shoulers and prime the nozzle. Pulling my hat onto my head, I pick up my ashbrandy and slip it into my pocket and slip my tonfa into my waistband before sprinting back to the room.
"This is not a matter I should concern myself with" Aegis says, swiftly moving ahead of Violet to block the mare
"But for your sake and the others, I insist that you stop, Violet. If you let your anger exceed you, you'll just be doing exactly what he wants. What Lysander wants"
The crystal mare's gaze gets a bit more intense
"Let us fight, have faith in your friends and in me that we can protect you, lest you risk your life and putting us all in danger having to rescue you a second time from Lysander"
She firmly stood in front of the mare, but would step aside if she kept going
Rabi, realizing his plan might not necessarily work too well; he's going to need to work at this for a lot longer to get used to it. He'll work it down the hallway, trying to keep his eye out for for signs of the snake; if he can't respond to it with the Yumi, he'll at least respond to it with his regular bow.>Perception [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Zunden mulls over the sheet music again, trying to gain an inkling of as she stays in her room.
Remembering Lysander's control over the surrounding objects of the Sanctuary from before, Zunden tries to reach out and send a chair towards where Silver is looking.
[1d10] DominionRoll #1 1 = 1
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
You suit up for combat, grabbing your equipment and taking the briefest of moments to look at yourself in the mirror. You look cool.>>709956
For a moment she looks like she's about to fight you; but then, she swallows glumly and steps aside. "…Okay," she says with a small nod. "I'll hang back. But… be careful, alright?" She looks at you with concern. "I'd hate for you to get hurt on my behalf…">>709957
You come across Clawson fighting Silver in the mess hall. She nimbly dodges his attacks, deftly slicing at him with her blades. He coils up and hisses at her, turning his attention to you as you enter. "Ah, the boyfriend," he says as he spots you. "That's quite a bow you got there. Mind if I take a look?" >>709958
You get a vague feeling of impending doom looking over it. Perhaps now isn't the time for reading music. Focusing on trying to help Silver, you manage to seize control of one of the chairs, throwing it across the room. It seems to hit something.>>709957
A chair, doubtless controlled by Zunden, flies across the room towards Clawson, hitting him square in the chest. With a snarl, he stumbles backwards, dazed by the attack.
He rushes towards you, ignoring Silver for now, biting at you with venomous fangs.
As he does so, he coils around you and tries to grab the yumi himself.
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
I grip the nozzle tight in my hand as I make my way to the fight, excited to finally make a difference. Seing him distracted with Rabi I level the nozzle with his face and pull the trigger.
[1d10]-2 Crit range for Lucky DogRoll #1 8 = 8
Zunden scowls, setting the music down and looking over the lute. Her face softens, and she takes it back up.
"Well if I cannot understand you with my eyes, then let me understand you with my fingers.
She makes her down the hallway, noodling away at the lute as she prepares to play the song she's learned.
>Bask: Moonlight Sonata
Aegis nods "I feel confident in speaking for everyone when I say losing you would hurt more than any wound. Not for me though, but if we had to rescue you it would be time away from the Swap Meet"
With that Aegis turned back around and dashed to the scene of action, joining the others in battle, wasting no time peltering Lysander with the magic she stored plus a few more
'1d10' Homing magic
'1d10' magic attackRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 1 = 1
/ Roll #4 2 = 2
/ Roll #5 10 = 10
Rabi lets out a startled gasp as Clawson goes for his bow, and decides to give him a point-blank bolt of fire for his troubles. Hopefully, with him right in front of Rabi, he won't miss.>Fire Bolt: [1d10+2] [1d10+2]Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
You read the complicated music. To most musicians, this would be a difficult piece to play, yet somehow, you can both comprehend it and feel like you can pull it off.>>709962
Clawson perks up as you enter. "Shame. Thought you seemed the reasonable type…" He twists his body expertly, dodging every single shot, save for the last, which knocks him backwards, leaving a smoking mark on his chest. He winces and slithers back up, weakened again.>>709963
You quickdraw an arrow and shoot it at him. He powers through it and grabs the greatbow, gritting his teeth in pain as he seizes the weapon for himself, leaping back to take a shot with it.>>709960
A fine silver mist gushes from the sprayer as you maneuver behind him and gas him. At first he doesn't even seem to notice, but then his tongue flits, and he spins around. "…Clever," he slurs. "Verrrry cleeeeverrrr…" He smacks the sides of his head in a vain attempt to clear his mind, focusing on you while he still can.>>709960>>709962>>709963
Clawson, now doing everything he can to keep from falling asleep, takes a swig from his hip flask once more, keeping himself healthy. "One for the money…"
"Two for the show…" He draws the yumi, his head nodding as he struggles to aim, clumsily firing one of the huge arrows at Norv.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"I'm the type to honor my debts, I'm certain you understand"
With that short reply, her shield began glowing as she conjured another powerful blast of ice
'1d10+2' magic boltRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
/ Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7
Zunden crosses her legs and sits down as she strums the lute, invoking the power of the Chariot as she does to bolster Norv's determination to protect Violet.
[1d10+4] Moonlight Sonata>>709960>The Chariot: automatic instant, once per session; When invoked, this card fills you with determination from beyond. Your next roll, or that of one of your allies, counts as a critical success, no matter what the result. Further attempts to invoke the power of the Chariot will result in your next roll counting as a critical fail instead.
Divine determination fills NorvegicusRoll #1 8 + 4 = 12
Rabi almost just sits there, waiting to see if Clawson can manage it. Satisfied that they won't be in danger, he levels his rifle and fires of another Surge Shot into his chest.
"How about another one on the house, yeah?" [1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
I grit my teeth and step in, reeling my bad arm back. "I'm done," I shout. "With all of you trying to take Violet away from me!" Swinging my hips, I try to dip under the bow and clock him in the face with a haymaker containing all of both my and the sprayer's weight behind it."
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
He nods in respect before getting pummeled by another ice blast, his movements slowing to a snail's pace. "Understandable," he wheezes.>>709967
The rifle roars with another powerful shot that sends him flying, crashing into the wall, leaving a Clawson-shaped dent. The ship groans with the impact, and Clawson's head spins.>>709968
The combination of Aegis and Rabi's attacks make the shot go completely wide, the arrow tearing through a table like it's butter. Gritting your teeth, you punch the serpentine hunter right in the face, knocking him out cold with one powerful blow. He goes limp; for a moment, you think he's dead, but then you see his chest softly rising and falling. He'll be out of it for a good while, it seems.
As the Chariot's wheels start turning, you start playing the music. It is like nothing you have ever heard before; the music sounds ethereal, otherworldly, and almost divine. You find yourself getting carried away, despite yourself, going on improvised lute solos before bringing yourself back to the music. You find that as the music goes on, you can't recall what you were just playing; it's like you're living solely in the 'now', with no concept of the past.
As you reach the end of the piece, you close your eyes and pluck the final notes. When you open them, you find yourself somewhere else entirely.
You stand in a pitch black room. Looking up and down, you see streaks of blue, purple, and white dots, as if you were walking in a cosmic void. Far above, the moon looms above you, even larger than usual, and completely full. In the middle of this strange place are coffins, rows upon rows of them. They stretch infinitely out into the horizon, as if splitting the place in two. Three figures stand over them, bipedal and clad in robes. Their heads are bowed solemnly, so you cannot see their faces. This, however, doesn't seem to be the Oneiromancer's doing. This… this feels like something else.
Aegis stayed quiet for a few seconds, watching Lysander before breaking the silence
"This went well for us. What are you going to do with him now?"
"-Oh" Zunden blinks, double taking as she looks around the celestial and morbid sight around her. She trusts her instincts that the situation isn't as dire as having the Oneiromancer's influence, wordlessly walking towards the three figures, looking to inspect them.
[1d10] perception?Roll #1 5 = 5
There is something damnably familiar about them, but at first, you can't tell what. As you approach them, you realize what it is: each of them are you. The leftmost, a younger version of yourself, dressed in white. The centermost, you as you are now, wearing brown. And the rightmost, you as an old woman, all in black. As you draw near, they come to life, starting to speak; though, you can't tell which speaks when. You do a double take as you realize they're speaking your native language.You have come. Which of them is dead?Oh don't be silly. None of them are dead yet. Are they?…You must be so confused, dear. You don't belong here, do you? Would you like to go back?
You are somehow dimly aware of a wooden door opening behind you.
Zunden's mouth hangs open, having not heard her native tongue spoken in many years. She attempts to respond in the same tongue, but struggles speaking the language she hasn't thought to for the longest time.
"I… Is that what this is? Do you.. bring them back?
" She stumbles over her words in her native tongue, only really able to remember some basic words to string together for a coherent sentence.
>>709974Bring them back? Why… well yes, we could. Couldn't we? But…Hmph. Look at our face. She is not ready yet. Begone with you!Don't be so harsh on the poor girl. Look at her. She's clearly lost. Let me help you, dear. Do you know who we are?Pft. Of course she knows. She MUST know by now. She's found them, after all.Oh! But if she's found them, then… Oh no. This can't do, this can't do at all. I'm sorry. This must be all a big inconvenience for you…Get out. You're still raw.
Your head feels light.
Zunden sways a bit as her head starts to feel light, trying to take in as much information as she can, despite her confusion.
" She starts trying to keep the dialect in her native tongue going, but struggles on the next words. She picks up in the common tongue, hoping they understand, "Wait… I'm not supposed to be here, okay. I don't… They are the others? My companions?"
She stumbles back a little, pressing a hand against one of the coffins.
The Three begin to respond seamlessly in the Common Tongue, making no other acknowledgement of your language change.Oh! So you do know a little. That's good! I think…Sweet girl. You don't know where you are yet, do you? Look in your heart. You've known us your whole life.Hrm. The question remains. Why is she here? She isn't due for a long time yet. This isn't meant to be yet. Zunden the Reader. Are you at a crossroads?Oh! Oh! She must be! Or… perhaps not an actual crossroads…Calm now, my dove. Let the girl think. Sweetie, do you feel lost in your life? It really is quite odd that we should meet.
With every moment that passes, you lose a little bit more sensation.
"Not dead.. graves, but this isn't the end.."
Zunden's knees buckle, again trying to keep standing as more sensation leaves her.
"Crossroads. Have been, but… certainly can't be." Her mind struggles to comprehend the three, "The Arcana? My fate? Why do you look like me..?"
She dares a glance back, looking to where she heard the door open. Her natural instincts are to leave while she has feeling, but the situation is far too mystical to leave without getting answers.
>>709978Is that how you perceive us, child? …Interesting.Do we really look like her? Can I see? I want to see…My love, are you quite all right? You look rather frail.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nITjbRUyQLo
There is a wooden door frame behind you, the door wide open. Through it, you can see your room, just as you had it set up; however, there is someone else at the table, a familiar black figure. The Oneiromancer is slumped over it as if dead, but stirs as you focus on him, the faceless hood rising and staring right at you.Oh my. Another visitor? How eventful this day's turned out to be. And a familiar face, too! Come on in, dear.Hmm. You again. What do you want now?Hello! It's good to see you again! You look… different…
You feel like you're about to slip away. Soundlessly, the Oneiromancer rises from the table, standing there without a word, his attention shifting from you, to the Three, then back to you. Inexorably, he reaches for the door, groping blindly for the handle.My. Is he a friend of yours, dear?A fiend, more likely.What happened to you?… Zunden, is it? What have you done?…
Zunden leans heavily on her staff, having to make her way back to the door as she can't stand much longer.
…" she musters with all her strength, staring down the Oneiromancer as she heads towards him, "Won't let.. you prey on my friends."
She nigh collapses at the door frame, falling to a knee and and reaching out with claw to catch the door frame. She turns back to the three, eyes heavy, "I want to know more. How.. How can I?"
>Falling back into the door frame after response
>>709980How can anyone know more? Hehehe.Well… you've known us a little while now, haven't you? Just keep doing what you're doing! If that makes any sense…Look for us. You're already on the right track, aren't you, my child? We'll meet again. Eventually. I can feel it in my heart.Oh look, she's leaving! …Already? That's a shame, I liked her very much…We will see her again soon enough. It is known.Oh, but I do hope she keeps safe. It would be a shame to lose another…
You half drag yourself through the door frame. In the blink of an eye, you find yourself back in your ship. At first, you think everything is normal; then, you realize three things that are different:
Firstly, you can't hear any of your companions close by.
Secondly, you can't tell what time of day it is when you look out the window. It could just as easily be midday as midnight.
Thirdly, he's still sitting at the table, watching you intently.
Zunden clenches her teeth as she still sees the Oneiromancer present,
"I zpurn any dominion you claim to hold, dream weaver. You know zhiz."
She places herself opposite the figure, standing across the table.
>>709982This is nota matterof dominion
His 'voice', if it is possible to call it that, seems stilted, and broken up. It is as if he struggles to communicate.You have somethingveryveryinterestingto meWe arecoterminousin our realitiesButI amtetheredfor nowI have not come to harm youthis timeI wish only fora convergenceBetween usWill you take it?
Zunden remains guarded, her ire towards the entity unchanging. She heavily considers striking out at the Oneiromancer and ending the meeting as soon as it began, but the frustrating feeling of nescience still sways her more.
"I take nozhing but cold comfort in your appearanze here. I only tolerate you now becauze I am accuztomed to ze forzez of ze Echoez, and would razher underztand zhan blindly ztrike out. I repeat myzelf, you will never be welcome here."
Despite this, she sits down at the seat opposite, clutching her orb of sunlight in her claw as she stares furrowed brow at the total darkness of the Oneiromancer's visage.
The light from the orb seems to be absorbed by the entity sitting before you, as if holding a glowing ember in your hand instead of a radiant sphere.I do not seekallianceThe herald rejected meand paid his dueNoYou would neverI will be brieffor both our sakesYou walka fateful pathand have witnessed somethingtrulyspecial
You find yourself sitting in a golden chariot, a spear in your claw, riding at breakneck speed into a horizon. The Oneiromancer stands there, forever unreachable but always present. Looking down, you realize you are on a neverending chess board, and the chariot is pulled by black ropes that stretch impossibly far, into the Oneiromancer's outstretched hand.There are many piecesstill on the boardYou maypromote your pawn yetbutthis will leadto monstrous existenceRecant your crucibleand do not seek othersoryour outcomewill be less than favorableI say thisas I know your pathfrom long agoAbandon your questReject your fateDo not fall
You hadn't noticed before, but you are holding the Chariot card you found in your other hand. As your attention turns to it, the artwork is replaced by a symbol: two eyes overlapping to form a cross shape.The card starts to smolder at the edges, slowly being consumed as if by fire.But of courseyou will not listenwill you?
Zunden scowls, trying her best to stand unwavering as the Oneiromancer plays with her surroundings,
"You contradict yourzelf zhree timez, harbinger. Firzt iz to imply I partizipate ze zame game az you and ozherz attribute yourzelf to. Your game iz of war and carved ztatuez. Ze game I play iz of ze cardz, I will yet play wizh a full deck az time progrezzez."
She lets the orb hover around her head, continuing speak, "Ze zecond iz to imply you know my pazh, az if it iz zomezhing zhat can be known. Ze pazh you imply may be ze eaziezt, but I have not chozen ze favorable pazh zhuz far. You mizztep when you call me to abandon my Fate, for zhat only meanz my Fate iz zomezhing you do not wizh to come into fruition."
She rejects the symbolage on the card, standing up from within the chariot.
"And ze zhird iz to azk a queztion you've anzwered yourzelf. The zhird time I repeat, You will never be welcome here. Az you have zaid, I would never
. You claimed zhiz iz not a matter of dominion, but you ztill muzt bring me into ze realm of illuzion to zpeak your mind."
She steps off the chariot, letting herself fall to the void below, "I rezide in reality."
You step off the chariot, only to find yourself suspended in black nothingness. It is just you and the Oneiromancer, clutching his dark orb, a stark contrast to your own. ThenI take solaceknowingthere will bea newScriniariiand this sessionwas not fruitless It appears we have reachedan endingThis threadis severedbut the result of it will befascinating
Many black hands start crawling out of the Oneiromancer's orb, reaching towards you, fingers extending like snakes and cooking around you. Before you know it, darkness swallows you.
As if waking up from a bad dream, you find yourself back on board the ship; for real, this time. The moon is shining through your bedroom window, and you can hear your companions nearby. It is as if no time at all had passed since you were here last, and the bizarre events you witnessed were a fragment of your imagination.
Zunden clutches the lute in her claws close to her body, her grip tight as she sits inert, hardly moving after the two back-to-back encounters with the foreign entities. Her eyes mist over, dripping tears she can't explain to herself why are falling.
Aegis turned around and left suddenly to go find Violet without waiting for the aswer from the others
You find Violet hanging back in one of the unused cabins, kukri ready. As you approach, she jumps a little as if to attack, but then realizes it's just you. "Is it over?" she asks, her voice wavering a little.
"I told you, there was nothing to worry about. Your friends are competent fighters, and with me assisting them, the Bounty Hunter stood no chance, so be at ease, but do not come out until we are sure it's safe, if he is a reasonable Bounty Hunter, he will have some kind of backup plan in case he failed"
She glanced back to where the battle took place "I will suggest we tie him down to prevent him from escaping and attacking again, for now please stay put a while longer"
Sharp pain spikes through my whole arm and my chest heaves with my heavy breath. I rub my knuckles and work my aching elbow bit. Man. That hurt. I look around. "Everyone alright?" I ask. "Where's Vi?"
She hesitates, but then nods. "I… alright, I'll stay here then. Just be careful with that one. He's slippery. I'm sure he'll try and escape however he can.">>709994
"Just fine here," Aurora answers, rolling her shoulder. "I'm over here!" Violet calls anxiously from one of the spare rooms.
Standing above the unconscious saurian. i lower my shiv and survey the ruined room around us.
"Wonderful.. Attacked in the night by a headhunter and our lovely dining room was thrashed by the fighting!"
"What to do now, i wonder? Finish him off? Bind him and leave him to the guards at the swap meet?"
"I say we throw him in the brig," says Aurora. "We can question him about Lysander when he wakes up, I guess."
"We should put him in the cell Violet was in. Or one of them, anyway. I don't think just tying him up will be enough." I back out of the room and make a beeline to the room Violet is in, rush over to her, and throw my arms around her. "I punched his lights out. The sleeper poison from my sprayer may have helped too." I step back. "You alright?"
"I agree with this" Aegis speaks up, walking past Norv and back to the scene
"If you have a prison cell to keep him do it now and quickly before he wakes"
With those words aegis began casting her favorite spell, summoning more glowy frosty orbs
"I will be ready to take him down again if that happens" >Taking 8 to summon 3 orbs of homing magic
Violet returns the hug, perhaps a little too tightly. "Wow. Did you really? Must've been a hell of a punch," she grins, and gives you a kiss on the head. "I'm fine. Really. Worry about yourself. How's the arm?">>709999
You summon 3 more crystal orbs, ready to launch if the need arises.
Aurora nods, moving over to his head and lifting with some effort. "Could you grab the tail, if you can?" she asks.
She looks behind her, to where Norv went
"I suppose" she said, approaching the Saurian and trying her best to pick him up with Aurora, wary for any sudden movements from his part
I wince. "Kind of really hurts. I'm sure it'll wear off, though. Probably should've used my off hand, but it wouldn't have been as hard." Apparently it'll go away completely eventually, but I guess for now I just gotta tough it out. At least I still have it. "So I guess we're interrogating him when he wakes up. Who gets to do that? Also will it be breaking the treaty thing if we have him locked up over the Swap Meet?"
"Ah, an excellent idea! let me see if i can help with this.."
with Aurora, i try to lift a part of the snake onto my back to haul him into the brig.
Zunden eventually breaks from her shaken state, hearing the conversation around her.
"Nno, I do not zhink we zhould hold him prizoner. What iz zhere to interrogate him over? We know hiz motive, who hired him, and every zhing elze." She says slowly, getting up from her cross-legged position and trying to push back the residual emotions from what she just saw.
"I say we return him to hiz zhip. Take nozhing from him, no znooping when we're zhere. Juzt return him."
"But what's to stop him from coming after us again?"
"Nozhing, in ze end, but we muzt act wizh graze. Let him know zhat we will do ze zhing every time if he attemptz to take Violet. We do not need to imprizon or kill to zend a mezzage."
She takes the staff from her bag, leaning on it as she appears tired,
"We can be better zhan him, Lyzander, even."
Aegis turns to the dazed Lizard
"That's… A possibility, not one I'd recommend but if it is what you decide to do"
"Could you help us carry him then"
"Fair point. So, dump him to his ship, and move on? How exactly do we, uh… keep him from following us further? I'm sure if he's dedicated enough, he might recruit some manner of help."
"Well, if he has a compass like ours, we could take it. Or, if we can figure out how it works,keep it from directing him to us."
Between the two of you and Aurora, you manage to carry the unconscious Clawson into the brig, but only barely. He's exceedingly heavy, and limp as a boned fish. Aurora takes the time to strip him of his gear before locking him away; it takes a while, as he has a plethora of hidden weapons and gear in his jacket and bandolier. Among the knives and bombs is a stone pendant with an odd symbol engraved on it, resembling two overlapping eyes forming a cross. >like pic related but well drawn
Aurora frowns as she sees it, taking it off of him. "That symbol mean anything to you two?" she asks.>>710004>>710006
Violet shakes her head. "Norv's right. If we let him go, he'll just come back, probably with new tricks up his sleeve. Better to keep him here where he can't hurt anyone."
In the brig, you find that you can suddenly see Clawson for yourself, where before he was invisible.>>710008
"Exactly," says Violet, crossing her forelegs. "One bounty hunter's bad enough. If we let him go, he'll probably try and make some friends at the Swap Meet.">>710002
"I don't think so. Pretty sure the truce just entails not starting any unwanted fights or causing a ruckus in the market itself.
"Hrm… I've got no clue. It could be magic, but…" he shrugs a little bit, and continues "Could be anything, really. As for Clawson here, how long are we going to keep him here? Questioning won't do much for us."
"Hmm.. i had assumed hoofing him off to the guards at the swap meet would suffice, though i'm not so sure they'd take him, it is
a neutral group, after all, and this had happened outside of their event."
"Az I have zaid, he'd likely come back, even. But ztill, what gain do we have locking him up? Zhould he be our prizoner forever, zhen? Leaving him on hiz zhip wizh hiz effectz will zpeak louder to him zhan putting him behind iron barz."
"Do you think we can actually take him every time? This time we got lucky, and he didn't really know everything about us. Next time he'll know enough to plan around it."
"Yeah. I doubt they'd care as much what someone did outside their town, anyways- I wouldn't put money on this snake being easy to cage, either.">>710015>>710014
"If we had a way to keep tabs on him, we could at least expect him. Though, this is all pretty difficult- he was a tough enough fight as he was, and I doubt it'll get easier."
"You are putting too much faith in a bounty hunter who you never met, Zunden"
Aegis spoke up, but lowered her head
"Forgive me for speaking out of place, but for your safety, and Violet, who you want to protect, this seems like the worst thing you could do"
"Why not make it harder for him t follow us? If we can get a day or so's head start, and make following after us harder, we could probably keep him away until he found another compass."
"I do not know, but again, what iz ze alternative. We zhould not ztoop az low az to keep zomeone locked away az long az we zee fit. Meazurable retaliation.>>710017
"Have I not zaid multiple timez I fully exzpect him to return? What zhen do you zuggezt we do wizh him? You muzt remember zhat, while you are not, we are ze criminalz here. He iz ze one trying to enact juztice, if only for coin."
I sigh. I'd normally agree, but this is our friend's lives we're staking against a hedged bet. Violet's life. "I don't know. I want to agree with you, but I want to see if maybe we can't get him to stop chasing us first."
Aegis kept her head low and eyes closed "That is what makes him dangerous. If he returns, he will become wary and try different tactics until he gets to Violet or gives up entirely"
She slightly raised her head, staring at Zunden from below with indifference "My suggestion? If you want to hear it, I would say to kill him and no longer need to suffer from the risk of him returning, taking his belongings for wealth and strengthening your own, and building a reputation to scare off any future would-be bounty hunters after Violet"
"Neither." She looks at it curiously before pocketing it for herself.>>710012
"I… I'm not sure. I haven't really thought this through…" Violet rubs the back of her head uncomfortably.>>710013>>710014>>710015>>710016>>710017
"Maybe we should settle this in the morning?" Violet suggests. "Whatever we decide, we should at least keep him here overnight. I… kind of want to talk things through with him. Maybe we could buy him out?…"
"Well, we've got some time to think. If there's anything on him that could help him track us… or, anything on the ship, we should get rid of it. Maybe that talisman he had relates to it?"
"That probably makes the most sense. We're all tired. Probably shouldn't make decisions. Is someone gonna stand guard?"
"I can, if needbe. Zunden's got more important things to work with.">>710022
(Didn't see the bottom bit, sorry!)
"Hrm… buying him out could work. Depends on if he's reputation's on the line, though- he might get a good payout here, but he'd lose jobs if people knew he could be payed off. Talking's worth it regardless, though."
"Hold on to it, perhaps someone at the Swap Meet can tell something about it"
Aegis stayed quiet as Violet made her suggestions
"Yes, i'd much prefer this ordeal be put aside, for now. We've night left to sleep, and i'd rather not continue trotting about without something to wear.." i add, covering myself with my wings.
"I'm zure zheze valuez would zerve you well in ze Echoez. Zhey are valuez I refuze to hold, zhough."
Zunden eyes Aegis wearily, unsure how to process the cold sentence the pony would give the bounty hunter given the chance.>>710023>>710022
Zunden takes notice of the charm, making quickly to stop Aurora, concern quickly filling her face,
"No! I mean, pleaze do not keep zhat on you, Aurora. Zhat iz ze zymbolage of ze Oneiromanzer."
She pants, leaning against one of the walls with exhaustion. She considers mentioning the supernatural encounter she had moments prior, but disregards it. Everyone else is at their wit's ends already. She bites her lip, closing her eyes and in low spirits.
"Fine, but let one of uz at leazt return hiz effectz to hiz zhip, we need not keep hiz trinketz aboard our vezzel when zhey could aid hiz ezcape or befuddle uz. While in my zhip'z vizion, I waz not able to zee him at all. Only now iz my firzt time laying eyez on him."
Rabi gives Silver a short nuzzle, and sighs a tad "I'd offer my cloak, but I'm afraid I didn't pull it on in time- that, and it's getting a little worn out by this point… maybe I should look for a new one.">>710028
"Oh, yikes- smash the talisman, then? Chuck it overboard?" the stallion asks, stepping in place a little.
Aegis maintained her cold, unyielding glare on Zunden, silent for a few seconds more before raising her head "I understand" she says simply, her tone and face impossible to read
"Then I hope you don't mind if I return to sleep soon. You seem to have come to an agreement as to what to do with him, so I will be no longer needed until he is disarmed"
Once he is disarmed*
Violet nods. "Can I see it?" she asks Aurora, who shows it off. Violet purses her lips. "That symbol looks familiar. Think I might've seen it at one point before I met you guys. >>710025
"That's true. Then again, we don't really know what his reputation is like, do we? I'd never heard of him until now, at least.">>710026
Violet nods. "Might be worth something to the right person," she shrugs.>>710027
"Yeah. Let's sort out this mess in the morning." Violet stifles a yawn.>>710028
Aurora's brow furrows. "The Oneiromancer? So, he's in on the Cuckoo conspiracy as well then? That doesn't sound right…"
Violet blinks. "Are you sure about that, Z? I'm certain I've seen that symbol used somewhere else before."
"Well, we don't know where his ship is, and… Well, some of that equipment looks pretty good, actually. …Let's just sort this out in the morning, okay? Not like he can go anywhere yet.">>710024>>710025
"I can guard him," Aurora offers. "I'm used to night life anyway. Anything happens I'll give a shout."
"Sounds good, Aurora. Let's get some rest and figure this out tomorrow, then."
"If you're sure, then thank you. We can figure everything else out then." I rub my eyes with my palms. "I think I'm going to try to actually get some sleep though."
"Zhat iz why I want to get rid of hiz gear, perhapz it iz lezz zo him being part of ze conzpirazy, but inztead a charm meant for communication between Clawzon and hiz employerz."
Zunden sighs, knowing her beliefs are in the minority.
"Zo be it. If you'll allow, Aurora, I may rezt in ze hold wizh you and ze bounty hunter. I've been witnezz to zome vizionz I wizh to mull over, and lately I do not feel zafe zleeping on my own, wizh the Oneiromanzer having manifezt multiple timez between Hermodur and myzelf when I waz wizh Norvegicuz."
"Maybe we ought to look for some more mental protection for you, Zunden- ignoring the fact that you're the only one that can pilot this, I don't want to see someone like that Oneiromancer getting in your head too much."
"Right then, prisoner secured, everything mostly in order, off to bed.">>710033
Stifling a yawn, i brush up against you as i pass by. "Coming back to bed, dear?"
Rabi leans in to nuzzle against the back of her neck, and nods eagerly as he follows behind. "Of course, love."
"I-" Zunden hesitates, "I have rebuffed any attemptz at hiz meddling zhuz far. I zhank you for your worry, zhough."
"Well, better safe than sorry. With everything you've done for us, keeping you safer is the least we could do. Good night, Zunden."
Aurora blinks, looking at you with concern. She looks over her shoulder at the doors to the cargo hold, then nods. "If it'll make you feel safer, then sure. Wouldn't mind the company, really.">>710033>>710034>>710035>>710037
"Well, that's that then. Let's figure out what to do with him in the morning," says Violet. "And, er… thanks, everyone. For protecting me. I really appreciate you guys protecting my neck." She looks like she wants to say more, but can't find the right words, and just stands there rather awkwardly before heading back to her room.
Despite everything, you all manage to fall asleep relatively quickly due to your exhaustion from the event, your sleep deep and dreamless.
The following morning, you are all rudely awakened by the banging and screeching of claws on steel. Zunden sees that Clawson is awake again, lashing against the prison bars in a fruitless attempt to escape. "Throw a tantrum all you want, skink," Aurora says coldly, watching him while perched atop a footstool, sword on her back. "You're not going anywhere. Now quiet down. Good people are trying to sleep." Clawson rattles his tail angrily, staring Aurora down silently. "How much longer can you keep me here?" he taunts. "What's your big plan, hero?"
"Not up to me to decide." The two have a bit of a stareoff, Aurora going silent as she glares at the bounty hunter coldly.
Zunden sits against one of the walls, knees bent up and shoved into a corner.
"Preferably, I don't want you in here at all. Ze ozherz wanted you behind barz, zo I rezpect zheir requeztz for now. Hopefully you will not have to ztay zhere for long."
My eyes snap open and I fall out of bed as the rattling bars jolt me awake. Groaning, I slowly pull myself back to my feet, rubbing my aching head. I was barely able to sleep to begin with and now I can't even sleep in. Can't he take his loss with some grace? Isn't he supposed to be a professional? I sigh and make my way to the brig. Guess it's time to decide what we do with him.
Having gathered some degree of sleep, i take the time to put on the under dress, leaving the armored plates in my room, before heading into the brig.
"If you let me leave," he growls, "I'll just come back. You'd have to be real stupid to pass this opportunity up." He accepts there's no way out for him right now and just leans against the wall, arms folded.>>710043
Violet jolts awake with an unhappy frown. "Ugh. Here we go." Looking even more disheveled than usual, she drags herself out of bed and follows behind you.>>710043>>710044
Clawson is standing in his cell, scowling as you enter. He lights up a little as he sees Violet. "The mare of the hour," he drawls. "Skylord's promisin' a lot of money for you. What are you, his ex?" She glares at him, taking a step towards Norv defensively.
"So what happens now?" he asks, leering at you all. "You got me. Here I am. You gonna kill me? None of y'all look like killers." He picks his teeth with a claw. "Or are you holdin' me for ransom? I'm not worth spit to anyone I know, cause I don't know nothin'. And what I do know I wouldn't tell you anyway. Not for a price, leastways."
"Well… that's about what I expected. Got any thoughts on all this, Zunden? We could still let him go, but we're going to get exactly what you'd expect."
"Looks can be decieving. I don't guess you know about that changeling that tried to take Vi last time since you're freelance. All that's left of him are his teeth in my bag. Honestly we could have killed you. Just-" I swoosh one of my hands through the air. "Toss you overboard and let you tumble to your death." I step forward a little and glare at him. "Or in a dramatic turn of irony, feed you to my rats. But we didn't. We were hoping maybe you'd be willing to work something out with us so we don't have to."
[1d10]Persuasion/intimidationRoll #1 8 = 8
Rabi cocks an eyebrow at Norv, but doesn't say anything otherwise.
"I know, you are motivated by ze coin."
She crosses her arms,
"Ztill, I do not like zhiz. I do not want to keep you here. You are an individual wizh your own fate, after all."
Clawson smirks at you. "Damn right you would. Unless you got a fine deal in mind, 'fraid you're all just wastin' your time.">>710047
Violet looks at you with a disturbed expression, while Aurora's eyes widen a little. Clawson just scoffs. "You'd send me to hell, dog? Where do you think I came from?"
At the mention of renegotiating, he seems more interested, looking up from examining his nails. "Well now you're speaking my language. What you got in mind? Let me pick that brain of yours a little.">>710049
"Ain't we all." He thumps his tail impatiently, more like an annoyed cat than a snake. "Maybe we can work out a deal? Situation's changed, after all. Weren't for your friend here's little trick with the gasser, I'd be comin' about for round two about now."
"Well, first off I don't add your fangs to my collection." I step back and study him for a moment. "And I have plenty more gas where that came from. Next time I might not be feeling so generous." I theatrically run my claw along the scar across my eye in thought. "Still, I'd like to not waste it on you, and figuring something out would be easier. What's Lysander giving you as it is?"
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"I think one guy hounding you's enough. Have fun, Norv."
"I am zure our fundz do not match zhat of Lyzander. Likewize, he would not aczept you giving up on your pursuit eizher. Ze bezt courze of action I believe iz to let you go and perhapz delay our next encounter to an agreed upon date."
He seems more amused than intimidated, but still gives you his attention. "3000 bits just for her," he answers, nodding at Violet. "1500 extra for the big cat fella. 500 for each if I manage to kill or capture the rest of y'all. And, if I manage to return the ship in one piece on top of all that, my very own house on Fiddler's Green." He crosses his arms. "Think you can match that?" he asks smugly.>>710055
He nods. "We could, sure. Honor system and all. I like that. But I was thinkin' something a little more fun." He slithers up to you with a mischievous smile. >>710051>>710053>>710055
"See, I may be a greedy son of a bitch, but even I have standards. And Lysander… he's rich, and powerful and all that good stuff, but I'll be blunt. He's just the worst, ain't he. I mean, I like this deal we struck quite a bit, but I'm not exactly honorbound to serve him. And… well, to be frank, I get a bad feeling about him. Like he's up to somethin' big. And I'd rather stay alive, thank you very much. You lot, on the other hand, last night you showed some real guts. You got a good thing going with this ship and all. Right? Real camaraderie, and a sense of honor. I really respect that. One devil to another.
"So how about this." He clasps his hands together. "I tag along with y'all, for now, in exchange for… let's say 20% of your total winnings. That'll buy you my skills, my ship, my loyalty, and my inside knowledge. Hell, I'll even help y'all take down Lysander, if that's what you're after. So, how about it? Deal or no deal?" He sticks his hand through the bars, offering to shake it.
You stand vigil with Aurora as the rest of the party leave you to it. She stares idly at the knocked out hunter before looking over to you. "You really want to let him go, huh? …Why? He's just going to come back and keep hunting us if you do. He might even get backup if he makes it to the Swap Meet. One of him was more than enough. Why would you want him to stalk us?" She doesn't sound angry or accusatory, more curious.
Zunden sighs, leaning her back against the wall as she looks uncomfortable,
"It'z… I don't know. I hate barz, hate cagez. Zhey're everyzhing wrong wizh civilizazion." She shuffles around, "Like… uh, Hermodur for exzample. I don't want him to go down zhat pazh… by ze Arcana I wizh he'd juzt come back. But ztill, I cannot ztop him. He haz a deztiny, a Fate I can't pretend to hold any more zway over zhan ze rezt of ze world. To put zomeone in a cage deniez zhem ze right to fufill whatever deztiny zhey might have."
She looks over at Clawson,
"I believe everyzhing you zhink about him. I don't believe him to be remorzeful, nor ze type to give up after one go. Ztill, he haz a role to play in everyzhing. Juzt like everyone we meet, zhey have equal importanze. Denying zomeone'z Fate iz zomezhing zhat goez againzt all my moralz."
At the mention of Hermodur, she looks a bit stony, clearly still a bit sour over their parting terms. "I'm sure he'll be back," she says, as reassuringly as she can. "No way to know when or how, but he's determined enough that I don't doubt he'll do just fine. I bet if you stabbed him in the heart he'd just refuse to die." She smirks.
"Well, how do you know this isn't part of this guy's destiny?" she prods, trying to pick your brain a little. "Maybe he was meant to fail and be captured. Right? Isn't that how fate's meant to go? I dunno, it's your area of expertise really. I don't really know how fate works. I don't think I even believe in it."
Zunden shudders at mention of Hermodur being stabbed, taking little comfort in the sentiment,
"Zo it waz, az he iz here right now. Truzt me, I cannot zay to claim how Fate workz eizher." She thinks back to her encounter, pausing for a long time, forgetting she was even holding the conversation for a moment.
A minute goes by before Zunden shakes her head, "Zorry… And yez, again, I do not claim to know one'z Fate, or even zay zhat him being here iz or iz not hiz Fate. My averzion to imprizonment iz zhat it reztrictz ze pazhz one can take. If you are free, zo many pazhz are open to you. It givez choize to zomeone, zomeone can be who zhey want to be."
"Barz? Zhere are only two pazhz. Break free, or ztay imprizoned. It reztrictz, it forzez zomeone to have little to no choize, it…" Zunden sighs, "Zorry, I don't claim to be right or anyzhing. I juzt don't like it."
"I suppose that makes sense," she muses. "Sorry, I didn't mean to insult you or anything, I just have a hard time believing anything could control my destiny. …And if there is, they must be cruel," she adds bitterly, more to herself than to you.
As you go quiet for a while, she notices your pensive demeanor and looks over to you with a concerned frown, scooting a little closer. "Hey Zunden? Are you okay? …Have you been crying again? You look different…"
"Zhat iz ze idea. Deztiny izn't fixed, it iz zomezhing we zhould take hold of and be protective of. Everyone haz ze potential to do great zhingz. Can't reztrict ze pazhz zomeone haz open to zhem. Can't give up…"
She trails off, first becoming defensive when Aurora scooches closer and pries, pulling her body in to take up as little space as possible. "N-no.. Just.." The saurian exhales, her voice quieter. "M-maybe. More zhan juzt Clawzon happened ze lazt couple of dayz."
Aurora pulls away a little when she sees you act defensive. "What's on your mind?" she asks softly. "You want to talk about it? The doctor is in right now." She smiles a little, trying to lighten the mood, but it quickly fades, and she looks at you earnestly.
"That is a lot you are offering for so little" Aegis finally spoke up, having listened in silence this whole time
"I come from a family of hired arms like you, and never have I been told of a contract so selfless…" She looks up at Clawson from the other side of the bars
"… Without some secret interests. So allow me to ask, what is it that you truly want out of all this, Bounty Hunter?"
Zunden's defenses fall somewhat, her tense body relaxing a bit as Aurora genuinely seems to want to listen.
"Yeah… Juzt, lazt zhing I want iz you all worrying about me. I don't like being coddled, I'm an adult and I can cope." She rubs the back of my neck, "Don't deny I'm a hypocrite, zhough."
She goes quiet a bit.
"Ze charm, ze one I waz worried about. I don't know if it iz ze Oneiromanzer'z or not, I've juzt… Zeen him twize now. Onze wizh Norvegicuz while we were in ze kitchen. Ze ozher..? Waz juzt under an hour ago."
She pales a little. "You've seen him? Where? How? What did he want? Did he… mark you, like he did Hermodur?" She seems afraid, moving a little further away from the cargo hold. "Is… is he here right now?" Her voice wavers a little. "Gods… what is he?"
Zunden casts a light over herself to show off her arms and legs, letting Aurora get a look.
"No, all I can guezz iz it can manifezt while you're unconciouz. Again, it'z why I'm zcared to be alone." She shudders, "Arcana knowz I need more zleep, but wizh zhat waiting for me?" She makes a sound that's a mix of a groan and a whimper.
"Ze firzt time waz when I tried connecting back to ze zhip when I waz talking with Norvegicuz in ze kitchen after ze inzident. We we're making zhat zoup we had lazt night. I normally can zee everyzhing going on in ze zhip, all ze roomz, ze deck, you up in ze crow'z nezt. Zhiz time I had my vizion ztuck on zhat ztain in ze cargo. It.. he came out of it. It was terrifying, and I couldn't control my body, and he waz reaching out to me…" Her single shudder turns to a more constant shiver, "He was about to grab me too. Black out my vizion. Only zhing zhat ztopped him waz ze gift Black Pudding gave me. You were zhere for when he gave me zhat."
She opens up her tarot box, hesitating to pull out the card. The imagery of the smoldering card still hangs in her head as she grabs for it, despite trying to shake it from her memory.
She can't help but look haunted as she sees you shaking, reaching out and touching you on the shoulder lightly. "It's okay," she she says quietly. "It's over now. He can't touch us, only try to frighten us. All smoke and mirrors. Right? He's… he's just a shadow. Light banishes them."
Her gaze turns to the Chariot card, looking at it with curiosity, reaching out to examine it further. Her eyes flash with recognition. "Wow. I don't have to be a magician to know a powerful aura. This… you used this, didn't you? When I was trying to mend that poor rat before. I've never felt anything like it before. Must be pretty special to be able to turn back the Oneiromancer like that."
Zunden smiles a little as Aurora makes the connection from earlier, "Yez, I took zome time ztudying it. I know little about ze religion of you poniez, but the zymbolage iz ztill clear. Likewize, yez, it cazt the Onieromanzer back, it zeemed zuprized." She lets Aurora hold the card as she continues.
"It zeemed to know what it waz az well, zhough. When I denied him wizh it'z power, it zpoke. Zaid zomezhing like 'Zo zhere iz a Reader
'." Her shaking slows down, but her discomfort remains mostly the same. "I waz hoping ze zame zhing, zhat I'd banizh him from here and he wouldn't return. But he waz here again tonight, in my room."
She stops herself, pausing "I'm getting ahead of myzelf. It wazn't ze only zhing I zaw tonight. I waz trying to be uzeful during ze fight and wanted to play zhiz zheet of muzic Norv' bought from ze merchantz. It'z definitely magic, I juzt didn't know what it did. Ztill don't really. But it waz night, and ze full moon, and ze lute iz mozt effective when played zhen, zo I figured I'd try it out and maybe it'd help you all deal wizh Clawzon."
She takes the lute off of her back strap, staring down at it. "I don't zhink I've ever played zhat well before. I got lozt in ze muzic, forgot about ze battle entirely. I don't know if anyone took notize zinze I wazn't in ze dining hall when it happened, but I muzt have went unconziouz when I finizhed playing. Had zome really ztrange vizionz I'm not entirely zure how to zhink about ztill. It filled me wizh bozh awe and dread, and I could tell I waz zomewhere I wazn't meant to be. Zhere were zhree great beingz, a great field of coffinz. Zhey were powerful, ze type of powerful where you can juzt feel it come off of zhem. Like you juzt now wizh zhat card, only a hundred timez fold. Zhey reminded me of ze Oneiromanzer zomewhat. Not really… evil, not good eizher zhough. Juzt kinda… zhere."
She listens quietly as you retell your experiences with the Oneiromancer, nodding thoughtfully as you tell of how he was banished, but then returned. "So there must be a way to get him to leave us alone for good." She ponders this as you continue.
Her eyes go wide as you describe your encounter with the Three. She seems lost for words, looking somewhat unnerved. "But… what were they?" she asks fascinatedly. "Or, what do you think they were? What did they want from you?"
"I don't know what zhey were. Zhey looked like me, but maybe zhey don't actually? One commented on how zhey found it interezting I zaw zhem az zaurianz, zo I don't know. I feel zhey muzt be tied to Fate zomehow. I mean zhey azked who I lozt when I arrived, and zhere'z all ze coffinz zhere but… it didn't feel like any zort of afterlife or anyzhing wizh deazh. Zhey kept zaying zomezhing like zhat I didn't know what I waz doing zhere and zhat I muzt be confuzed. Zhey zaid I've known zhem for a little while.. It hurt my head. I zertainly didn't know zheir motivez, but I didn't feel any ill will from zhem."
She returns to a more normal seating, feeling confident in her speaking again even as she brings up the next part of the encounter. "I waz about to drift back, I felt like I waz fading and zhere waz a door back to my room. But… Ze Oneiromanzer waz zhere, zitting at my zeat in my room. Ze Zhree of zhem zaid he waz a return vizitor, zo he clearly muzt know about zheze Zhree too. He… didn't like me zhere? He tried clozing ze door back, but I followed him back into my room. Zhat waz when I… talked wizh him."
She looks about as lost as you were. "Do… do you think they were gods?" she asks curiously. "Or ghosts of some kind? Or… something else?"
Her expression darkens as you bring him up again. "What did he want this time? More threats and tricks?" she asks dryly.
"I do not know. My belief in ze ideaz of godz are… lezz zhan zome. I zertainly believe zuch entitiez exizt, but zhey are juzt very ztrong creaturez. Alwayz found worzhipping zhingz like zhat iz a bit zilly. Off topic zhough. I don't zhink zhey were ghoztz… I zhink your latter anzwer waz clozer. 'Zomezhing elze'."
She shudders, moving closer to Aurora for confidence as she recounts the meeting with the dark entity.
"I imagine it waz zomezhing along ze line it told Hermodur. It wazn't… ztrong, in a zenze. I mean it waz powerful, it waz zcary and had ze ability to change my zurroundingz - zhat'z how I knew it waz juzt in my mind. But ztill, it felt like it waszn't able to fully interact wizh me. Anywayz… it zaid Hermodur rejected him, and it didn't expect me to align myzelf wizh it. It waz… good hearing but Hermodur didn't ztay pledged to him but.. but.. He zaid zhat for zhat he 'Paid hiz Due
. I'm worried for him…"
She continues on, pressing on with her discomfort to share with her companion,
"Ze whole chezz zhing got brought up again, and he mentioned my Fate numerouz timez. Zaid I could 'promote my pieze
' if I abandoned my friendz and rejected my Fate."
She looks at Aurora, sternly.
"That'z what made me feel like I waz doing the right zhing. It wanted me to ztop doing what I waz doing, to give up now. By ze Arcana he waz zcary, but he made a big error zhere. If ze Oneiromanzer doezn't want my Fate realized, zhen by ze Tarot I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, even if it'z to zpite zhat fiend."
She has a look of defiance in her eyes, the fear not leaving but nonetheless cracking as she finishes her story.
"I told him az zuch, even zhough I waz zcared. He called me zhiz word… I cannot pronounze it right, zhat zound iz hard for me to make. It waz like… Zcriniarii. Zzzcriniarii." She struggles a little, blushing as she can't pronounce the word right. "Well lezz called me it anywayz. Zaid I was a 'new' one, zhen zaid ze converzation had reached it'z end. He reached out, darknezz covered my vizion, and I woke up az if no time had pazzed."
The saurian rubs her shoulder opposite of that to the bat pony, turning her head away.
"I cried. I didn't know why, it wazn't zad. It waz zcary, but he didn't hurt me. It waz juzt… a lot of emotionz."
"But if not gods or spirits, then what?" she muses, letting the question hang as you continue.
"Scriniarii?" she parrots. "That… sounds familiar. I think it was written in Lysander's letters, the ones he was writing to hid associates. Shame we lost those letters. I think Dawn and Carabas took them."
As you conclude, she looks at you worriedly, then reaches out to hug you gently. "The important part is it's over. Right? He won't hurt you or any of us anymore. He's just a ghost, after all." She seems to be reassuring both you and herself; you feel her tremble a little, but she does her best to compose herself.
"Zhat waz it, yeah." Zunden nods, "I might azk Black Pudding about it, he zeemz knowledgeable in zheze zort of zhingz, wizhout being on one zide or ze ozher."
As Aurora hugs her, relief fills Zunden again, hugging her back until the bat pony stops trembling. "You're right. I won't let him hurt any of uz," the saurian says softly, yawning, "I promize."
She pulls away after a while, looking a lot more secure afterwards. She sits on the ground pensively. "How did we ever get ourselves into this?" she muses. "Everything used to be nice and quiet, didn't it. The worst we had to worry about was all the horrific things back in the desert." She looks bitter at the memory of it. "Ah well. Guess we're just going to have to roll with the punches. Right?"
She goes quiet for a moment. "What's Black Pudding's deal, anyway? He's the weird ooze we visited the other day, isn't he? How do you know him? He frightened me a little, to be honest."
Zunden chuckles, "I'm zorry I roped you into zhiz. Ze prozpect of you traveling alone after ze eventz at ze monaztery. Probably would've been zafer for you. Much lezz ztrezz, wouldn't even know ze world waz at rizk of ending."
She sighs wistfully, not upset but still longing with Aurora for better days. She looks off when thinking about Black Pudding, formulating an opinion on him, "He'z unnerving, yez. But I don't like to baze opinionz on appearanze. I've dealt wizh leperz before, and zome of zhem have the purezt of heartz. Err, not to zay i zhink Pudding iz pure in any way. Ztill, I rezpect him a lot. He'z zcary, he'z not a good
perzon, but he doezn't involve ozherz unlezz zhey get in ze way. He haz a lot of power, but he'z very moderate in hiz uze wizh it."
She nods. "I think I see what you mean. The way he looked at me, I felt like… like he could have killed us then and there if he'd wanted to. Him and his assistant. With people like that, I can't help but wonder what they've seen, what they know…"
She thinks for a moment. "He… reminded me of a warlock that passed through the monastery once," she muses. "Malverlain, his name was. He had one of those aurass, you know? Where you can just tell he knew things we couldn't even begin to comprehend. He came in one night all alone, asking to stay for the night. He didn't say much to anyone, and he didn't eat at all. He was just passing through. But the way he moved… and talked… and stared at us, like we were base animals… It was awful. It was like he was completely disconnected from everyone around him. Black Pudding… he gave me the same sort of feeling, but to a lesser extent. I don't know who he really was, where he came from, or where he was going, but it just felt like a shadow passed over the whole monastery while he was there." She shivers a little at the memory.
"Sorry, I'm rambling, aren't I. I really shouldn't." She looks away.
"You're not allowed to apologize about rambling to me Aurora. It iz very calming juzt liztening to you zpeak." Zunden rubs the bat pony's shoulder.
"Zcary. But yez, Black Pudding izn't wholly zhat. He zertainly doezn't like interuptionz and haz a dizdain for ozherz, but he will treat like an individual if you rezpect him and ze boundriez he putz up." She looks at the card again, "Again, I rezpect him for what he iz. Lot of power, little abuze of it."
She nods. "He seems a good enough sort then. He knows not to abuse his power, I suppose. I wonder what he'd make of this whole Lysander/Oneiromancer scenario? If he'd even pick a side? And who else is even involved in it? Maybe Dawn and Carabas were able to learn something from the documents. Wonder if we'll run into them again." She thinks about them for a moment. "…But, to be honest, I don't really think they're trustworthy. I mean, Violet said it well before. The only reason we have to trust them is that they're against Lysander. Right? I mean, I helped Dawn as best I could back at the monastery, but only because we didn't really have a choice other than to just leave her to die." She shrugs. "It's just been on my mind lately. They seemed fishy to me. What do you make of them?"
"Zhey are interezted in uz becauze we're uzeful to zhem, not becauze zhey are good people nezezzarily. I moztly cared for zhem becauze Dawn had her injuriez, and I had ze ability to help. I don't intend to be a pieze in zheir chezz game, eizher zide. Zhere'z more to it zhan ze egg, it'z control of ze Echoez."
She crosses her arms, "No one perzon zhould control ze Echoez. Onze we hide away ze Cuckoo'z egg, I zay we pull ourzelf away from it az much az pozzible. Not our game to play."
"Yeah. We should keep it somewhere secret. Drop it in the deepest trench of the ocean, I say, where nobody will even be able to get to it. Things like that should stay hidden. I don't think we're meant to meddle with them. They're not meant for us. Then we can all live happily ever after." She looks idly at Clawson for a bit. "Of course, that's probably just a pipe dream, huh," she adds, sounding a little bitter. "Gods, I wish we weren't wrapped up in all this. If we hadn't crossed Lysander, none of this would've happened."
"I waz zhinking around ze zame zhink, find zome arctic water where it can be embedded in ize and never germinate. I zuppoze it comez from living zomewhere where
zheze zhingz were meant to be kept from prying handz."
She frowns, 'I'm not one to condone violenze and killing but… I zhink zhingz might've been better if we ended zhat zhread before it began. Ztill, would anyone have taken up ze mantle? Zure we could have lived comfortably for ten, twenty yearz blizzfully unaware of ze hidden war, but if one zide waz to gain control of ze egg, or worze hatch it?" She sighs, "No, it iz better we are taking it into our own handz and remaining unalligned. Let uz remove ze world-ending factorz and let
zhen zhem fight zheir war."
"Yeah. If the others want to find a way out of here, then they should try another path. Messing with the Cuckoo's just going to get everyone hurt. Not that I'd ever want to go back to the Dominion. I don't think I could bring myself to, but… some of the others, like Aegis, or Silver, they have something to go back to. I want to help them get there, just… not like this."
She thinks for a bit. "If you're looking for somewhere cold, I've heard of a land way, way south, where there's nothing but ice and snow. One of the visitors at the monastery told me about it. It's just an endless expanse of cold nothingness. It'd be a perfect hiding place for it, I think. Just… we'd have to prepare for the trip. From what I've heard it's so unlivable that there's no life at all in those parts. Good place to hide something you don't want anyone to find, don't you think?"
Zunden nods with Aurora's sentiments for the others, "We are of ze zame mind."
"I remember my firzt winter after leaving ze dezert. I love how znow lookz, becauze it remindz me of ze dezert zand. However, I cannot ztand it'z chill. I only bought ze winter coat rezently becauze I realized I did not have anyzhing like it if we were to go zomewhere cold. Makez me fear angering Aegiz. Fatez… 'I zay we kill him and garner a reputation to zcare off future bounty hunterz
She looks over at Clawson again,
"Zome azpect of her remindz me of Hermodur. I don't know what. Zhe zhinkz zhingz zhrough, zhe izn't a fanatic in her beliefz. Zhe doezn't butt headz. Maybe… lack of remorze?"
"Yeah. I'm not much of a fan of the cold either. Though, the seasons never really seem to change here, so I'm not sure I even remember what real cold is like. I haven't sat through a real winter since I got here."
She nods as you bring up Aegis. "She's certainly… something. I'd like to get to know her a bit more. She's very odd. Quiet, like me, but in a different way. It's like she barely feels at all. I wonder what she's really like? And why she acts that way? Seems rude to ask though. Maybe that's just how she is." She shrugs a little, idly tossing a pebble at one of the cage bars out of boredom. It pings loudly, and she flinches, refraining from doing it again.
"Odd," Zunden nods in affirmation, "Zhere iz zomezhing elze, below it. I zaw it when giving her a reading, very briefly. It waz so fleeting, like when your gaze catchez on a zingle raindrop az it fallz from ze zky. I zhan't reveal ze full nature of her cardz to you unlezz zhe waz okay wizh zharing, but I believe it iz not her natural ztate. Perhapz it iz now, but it wazn't alwayz."
She flinches at the unexpected noise too, closing her eyes afterwards. "I plan to watch her clozely. Her worldview iz conzerning, but I believe zhere iz good to her."
She pauses for a while. "Zhank you for letting me ztay up wizh you, again. Ze ozherz I don't feel az comfortable wizh. Zilver and Rabi don't conzern zhemzelvez wizh group affairz zhat deeply, Norvegicuz haz a good heart but worriez too much, and Violet doezn't like me worrying about her." She raise a claw to bite it lightly, her voice lower, "I hope zhe iz not angry at me for what I did tonight. I zhink… I zhink lozing Hermodur haz made me more… clingy. It iz not a good trait."
"You think so?" Her eyes shine. "I mean, I'd like to think she's a good person. Just… aloof, maybe. I feel like I'm a bit like that too. I hope she can come out of her shell a bit." She has a faint smile. "She liked my haikus, at least, so she can't be all bad…"
"Oh it's not a problem. You know I like your company," she smiles. "I don't think the others really get me like you do. I'm happy to have you around."
"She didn't seem angry," Aurora muses. "I wouldn't worry about it. We're all a little on edge because of the Hermodur situation, I think. That and, well, him." She glances back to Clawson. "Hopefully things will settle some once we get to the Swap Meet. That should be interesting."
Zunden glances away, seeing Aurora get excited that Aegis does have emotion beneath the shell. "Well… yez. It wazn't exzactly warmzh I zaw, zhough. Zhe looked… zomber, deeply zo. Perhapz it waz ze reading, but it did affect me all ze zame."
She lets out a small hum of contentment, "We'll keep getting by until zhen, I zuppoze. No bounty hunter or encroaching darknezz iz gonna zeperate uz zhat eazily, eh?"
"Somber?" she parrots. "She must still have her past life on the mind, really. I wonder why she was exiled. …Not something you really ask outright, though. I mean, most people here don't really talk about their past much."
"Right." She nods and smiles, her pointy fangs flashing in the gloom. "We've come this this far. This guy's got nothing on us. Eh?" She grabs another pebble and throws it at Clawson, who twitches a little. Aurora immediately goes full defense mode, perching up on a crate and reaching for her sword, but when nothing else happens, she relaxes. "My bad. Sorry."
After a rather awkward silence, she remembers something you said earlier. "Hey. The Oneiromancer, you said he came out of that awful black stain over there, right?" She nods over at the cargo hold. "Shouldn't we… try to get rid of it, or something?"
Zunden snorts as Aurora hits Clawson, her low giggle filling the mostly quiet room. "Cute."
She nods, "Zame zhing I zaid to Norv', juzt waz focuzed on getting az far from Clawzon here az pozzible yezterday to delay ze encounter. Would love to burn zhoze damned plankz in a big bonfire. If zhat doezn't work, I'm zure zhere'z zomeone we can hire at ze Zwap Meet zhat can
deal wizh it. Juzt hope he izn't paying a vizit to Clawzon or zomezhing tonight. Burn the charm wizh ze plankz I zay."
Aurora nods. "Yeah. We should get the rest of the group involved, I think. I was going to suggest trying to get rid of them right now, but really, who knows what'll happen if we try. Better to have everyone around, in case something… something happens." She pulls out the charm, turning it over in her hoof curiously. "I wonder what it means. The rune, I mean. I don't think I've seen it before, but Violet said she might have. …Which would mean this isn't the Oneiromancer's mark, because why would she have seen it before she ever met any of us? Black Pudding would know, probably. Or even Fumblemore. Though he seems more of an academic when it comes to magic. All this mystical ritual… stuff is more Black Pudding's domain. Right?"
Zunden rubs her chin, not having thought about something happening if she pulled up the floorboards. "Didn't crozz my mind, actually… I waz juzt zhinking how dangerouz could zome plankz be, bezidez acting az zome zort of dream portal."
"Until we meet zomeone elze wizh ze zame expertize, yez, I zhink Black Pudding iz ze one to azk about zhiz. Who knowz, perhapz ze zymbol iz tied to Zcrin… Zcriniar… ze zhing ze Oneiromanzer zaid I waz." The saurian shrugs, "I mean, Clawzon waz ze one wearing it, can alwayz azk him. Zinze everyone elze iz zo zet on keeping him here for ze time being, can at leazt azk about zome zhingz."
"I just think we should be careful with them," she says cautiously. "Even if he is just a shadow, he was able to taint Hermodur's hand, and the floor. Who knows what'll happen when we try to get rid of them."
"Scriniarii," she corrects you softly. "Clawson'll know something for sure, though he probably got this thing from Lysander." She looks it over again, then hesitates before putting it on herself. Nothing happens. "You couldn't see him while he had it on, right? Can you see me?"
"Right, no zenze being recklezz. We'll do zhiz cautiouzly, and we'll do zhiz togezher."
Zunden flinches as she sees Aurora put on the necklace. When nothing happens, she hugs her, "Yep, ztill zhere, can zee and feel you."
She takes the necklace off of Aurora's neck for her, examining it for any lingering magic.
"Perhapz it izn't an artifact at all."Roll #1 9 = 9
"Huh." She looks at you wide eyed like a cat as you examine the charm. It's a small trinket consisting of a long twine rope threaded through a smooth grey stone with white veiny streaks. The eye symbol has been carved meticulously into both sides of it. As you turn it over and try to invoke it, you feel a disruption in your enhanced vision, disorienting you momentarily. Aurora reaches out to you instinctively, steadying you. "Are you okay? What is it?" she asks anxiously.
>Periapt of Severance>A smooth stone charm engraved with a mysterious rune. When invoked (an automatic instant action), its wearer is concealed from most forms of magically enhanced vision. They can still be seen with normal eyes, as well as touched, heard, and otherwise detected. The effect lasts until the wearer dismisses the effect, is knocked helpless, or removes the charm.
"Ah, zhat'z it. My experienze wizh charmz provez true yet again. It'z not juzt wearing it, you have to invoke it'z power. Az I zuzpected, it allowz you to be zeen normally, but invizible to mozt magic zight." She sets the artifact down, "Not ze bezt idea to uze it while zimultaneouzly watching over ze entire zhip. Ztrange enough zeeing yourzelf from behind, try alzo not being able to zee yourzelf while doing zo."
"How do you do that?" Aurora asks quizzically. "I mean, I can sense when something has magic, like most people, but I can never tell what it actually does. Is there a trick to knowing how it works? Were you an enchanter at some point back in the Dominion?"
"Well I.." Zunden blushes again, "No, I wazn't really zubject to a lot of magic back in ze Dominion. Zure zome of ze patronz would come azking me what a trinket zhey pilfered zinze zhey knew I practized
magic, but it waz not like I had any affinity for zhem. I'd juzt try zome experimentz wizh it and zee if I could figure out anyzhing for zhem."
She leans back, in thought, "But here… zhere'z been zo many of zhem, all zheze dizcarded itemz zhat weren't wanted in ze Dominion. It'z like… I don't know, it'z eazier to make a connection to zhat aura. It'z like when you try to get a feel for zomeone'z emozionz, it requirez.." she searches for a good word. "Zympazhy? Not feeling bad
for it or anyzhing, but opening your mind to underztanding zhat aura."
She looks away, unsure of how to give a clear answer, "I don't quiet know myzelf, it juzt ztarted coming naturally az I interacted wizh more and more itemz here in ze Echoez. Maybe zhey juzt want to be uzed again."
She nods. "I think the word you're looking for is empathy. Like you can.. understand them. That's interesting." She looks at the charm pensively, eyes glazed over in thought. "I've always felt that between us exiles, the captive spirits, the lost trinkets, the odd mirror places you can find… It's like this place was built as a home for the lost, the unwanted. The dregs of the world," she muses. "A home for everyone who doesn't have one. It may be harsh at times, but it's better than whatever's going on up there in the Dominion. Sure you have some real nasty ones, but a lot of people here are just trying to get by, you know? They look after one another, because no one else will." She looks at you and smiles. "And they carry each other when they fall."
Zunden smiles back, "Zhat'z everyzhing I wanted to have created back in ze Dominion. Here… I zhink it'z better an azpiration here. It iz a world for ze outcaztz, not a world zhat conztantly triez to ztep on uz. It'z a cruel fate, to deny zome of zheir livez in ze Dominion. But to ozherz? Ze onez zhat have had zheir pazhz cut off at every turn back zhere…? Perhapz being banizhed iz merziful. Zhere are zhoze zhat will have greater livez zhan zhey ever would have back zhere."
She nods enthusiastically. "Like, uh, Norv," she says. "From what I heard, he didn't have much of a life back there. Traveling with us seems like a better deal than being in crippling debt." She smiles, sitting comfortably for a moment. "Or, um, like me, I suppose. I… I don't think I ever want to go back there," she says firmly. "This place has everything. The Dominion is where my mother died, and where my father…" She goes quiet again for a moment. "There's nothing for me there," she says resolutely, looking through you. "I never want to see it again."
"Zhat iz what we're fighting to protect. Not to being heroez or for power." Zunden takes one of Aurora's hooves and squeezes it in her claw, "We'll fight for the right to live our livez ze way we want to."
She nods, looking you in the eye, putting her other hoof on your claw. "And we'll do it together," she says firmly. "All of us. Even Hermodur. Won't we?"
He seems more amused than intimidated, but still gives you his attention. "3000 bits just for her," he answers, nodding at Violet. "1500 extra for the big cat fella. 500 for each if I manage to kill or capture the rest of y'all. And, if I manage to return the ship in one piece on top of all that, my very own house on Fiddler's Green." He crosses his arms. "Think you can match that?" he asks smugly.>>710055
He nods. "We could, sure. Honor system and all. I like that. But I was thinkin' something a little more fun." He slithers up to you with a mischievous smile. >>710051>>710053>>710055
"See, I may be a greedy son of a bitch, but even I have standards. And Lysander… he's rich, and powerful and all that good stuff, but I'll be blunt. He's just the worst, ain't he. I mean, I like this deal we struck quite a bit, but I'm not exactly honorbound to serve him. And… well, to be frank, I get a bad feeling about him. Like he's up to somethin' big. And I'd rather stay alive, thank you very much. You lot, on the other hand, last night you showed some real guts. You got a good thing going with this ship and all. Right?" He gives what you assume is meant to be a genuine smile. "Real camaraderie, and a sense of honor. I can respect that. One devil to another.
"So. How about this." He clasps his hands together. "I tag along with y'all, at least till we get to the Meet, in exchange for… let's say 20% of your total winnings. That'll buy you my skills, my ship, my loyalty, and my inside knowledge. Hell, I'll even help y'all take down Lysander, if that's what you're after. So, how about it? Deal or no deal?"
Violet and Aurora look less than impressed with his talking, the former furrowing her brow and taking a defensive step towards Norv, and the latter scoffing a little, giving him a trademark Aurora glare. "Aw, don't give me that look, miss," he says dramatically. "Believe it or not, I'm quite thin skinned. Come on now." He sticks a scaly claw through the bars. "Won't you shake a poor sinner's hand?"
"My, what an interesting offer, Clawson, though didn't you mention your concerns of a loss of clients if you gave up the chase when we last spoke? Opting to help us would be quite the gamble.."
I grit my teeth and take a step forward again, just out of reach of his hand. I glance down, curl my nose, and back up. "You realize," I say. "That you've lost. Period. There is absolutely nothing keeping me from loading the deadly poisons I have -the ones that liquefy your insides and have you literally shitting out your guts- into my 'gasser'
while everyone is gone, coming down here, and spraying the mist into the cell like you're a rabid dog. You're not in a position to bargain." He isn't buying it somehow, but I feel like I'm on a roll. It feels good actually being in a position of power for once.
I look him in the eyes and shake my head. "Nothing," I say, "Besides the fact that I think you could be useful. We're dealing with too much right now to just make that kind of decision. We'll have to talk it over with everyone first and see what they have to say. For now we'll keep you fed and watered, and each of us will probably end up talking to you. I don't trust you, and I have a feeling most of the rest of us don't either." I bare my fangs and growl. "But if you try anything funny," I say. "I won't hesitate to throw you into the bilge with the nest after paralyzing you with a personal favorite poison of mine. You might have almost killed two of them and put me off guard. Do you think you can handle a hundred while you can't move?" I look him up and down and step back. "We'll talk about it," I repeat.
[1d10]Last intimidationRoll #1 6 = 6
Zunden taps the diamond dog on the shoulder, crossing her arms,
"He'z ze one in ze cage, we do not need to zhreaten him furzher." She sighs, looking at Clawson and the party, "I do not like keeping him here whatzoever, but I cannot agree to let him travel along wizh uz while ze danger of betrayal iz zo eazily prezent. If you'd have uz believe you'd turn your back on Lyzander zo eazily, zhen you only prove zhat you could juzt az eazily turn on uz."
She looks upset, not liking any of the current solutions. "None of uz truzt you. For ze time being, I will have to acczept ze idea of keeping you behind barz, az much az I dizlike it. However-
She turns back to Norv, arms still crossed, "You will treat him wizh rezpect, while a znake in bozh mannerz of ze word, we cannot ztoop zo low az to act like our enemiez. No zhreatz, proper mealz, and treat him like a perzon. I zhink zhiz iz fair enough treatment on our end."
"You sounded pretty sure in your place before- why the sudden change? Did Norv here talk you into it, or is this some sort of trick?"
"Really, truly? …I just wanna get out of here. I've got better things to do than sit around all day. View gets boring." He flashes you a grin.>>710513
"Well, it'll get me outta here, won't it? I figure I can improvise from there. Always do.">>710514
Clawson just yawns every once in a while, rudely interrupting your spiel and eyeing you with no small amount of skepticism. "Alright then, buddy. You go do that." He smirks and slithers away from the bars. "Best I'm gonna get for now, right?">>710515
His smile falters a little as you see right through him. "Well," he shrugs. "Was worth a shot. Could go worse for me, really. 'ppreciate the kindness though, ma'am." He glances at the control rings on your hand and has a small moment of realization, but doesn't say anything else.>>710516>>710515>>710514
"Norv, eh? 'Least we're getting names now. That's something." He flits his tongue curiously.>>710516
"I just think it'd be a good mutual arrangement," he answers slyly. "Plus, I don't fancy being locked up any more than you do.">>710065>>710513>>710514>>710515>>710516
"They're right," says Violet apprehensively. "You just tried to kidnap me and kill us, then wanted to turn on Lysander on a dime. Why would we trust you with anything?" Aurora death glares him from the sidelines. "As far as I'm concerned," she says icily, "you can rot in there."
Clawson sighs a little. "Ah well. I'm sure you'll come around. Eventually. That or I'll find a way outta here and kill y'all in your sleep." He backs off into the corner of his cell and coils up, examining his nails boredly.
''I'm certain they will come to an agreement on what to do with you soon enough, so you dont have to bear that view for long''
"Mh, Fair enough, i suppose."
"Once we come to a decision we'll be certain to let you know. In the meantime, we'll continue on to the swap meet, whenever you're ready, Zunden." i add, looking to the saurian.
"I think we should talk this over a little, personally- maybe outside?" he suggests, looking to the others.
I grumble and shake my head, pulling away from her. I grit my teeth, let out a long breath, and wave my hand. "Fine," I say. "Fine.">>710517
"But if he keeps making threats like that," I say without looking over my shoulder. "I'll do what I have to do. I'm not letting him -or anyone- take Violet away from me." That last sentence doesn't have any embellishment or flourish. My voice is just a cold, icy calm, and I realize I'm not lying. No matter what I'll protect her.
Zunden frowns, taking a step back.>>710517>>710520
"That'z that I zuppoze zhen. I'll keep watch over Clawzon, but I'd like zomeone on phyzical guard duty az well."
She nods to Rabi,
"Ze whole of uz zhould talk, yez. About numerouz zhingz."
''I can keep watch over him. I have no place in your discussion either way.''
"Got some other stuff? I guess we ought to step outside pretty quick, then."
"Glad to hear it," he answers sarcastically.>>710521
"The boyfriend, huh." He grins. "Interesting." Violet puts a hoof on your shoulder. "Norv…" She can't seem to find the words, but she looks worried about you, giving you a concerned look.>>710518>>710519>>710520>>710521>>710522
Most of the day passes quietly. Clawson doesn't make any more of a fuss, sleeping most of the day in his cell, occasionally throwing out a disparaging remark at whoever happens to be nearby.
Early in the afternoon, the sky starts to dim, and you feel the first droplets of rain start to patter on the deck. Aurora has to borrow Violet's coat to keep the rain off of her up in the crow's nest, and eventually abandons her post altogether, getting drenched to the bone as the ship draws nearer and the rain becomes heavier and heavier. "We're g-g-getting c-close to the C-City," she manages to chatter, shivering from the cold.
Those of you who go onto the deck would be able to see the Weeping City through the rain, a huge metropolis spanning in both directions on the horizon, the sturdy walls running around it colored gleaming white. Behind them, the skyline consists of elegant spires of black and white streaked stone, illuminated by the backdrop of the morning sun. The city stands overlooking a thick pine forest, which slopes gracefully downwards into a valley. Overall, it looks like a painting brought to life.
As the ship draws nearer, you can see an enormous marble archway marking the main entrance to the city, wider than what seems possible to build with conventional architecture; however, the way seems blocked by a shimmering rainbow veil spanning the entirety of the great archway. You can see many people trying to get in, to varying degrees of success; some pass through, while others seem to be rejected.
Of note is that there are dozens upon dozens of Sanctuaries and caravans making their way towards this archway, presumably to take place in the Swap Meet. Everywhere you look, you can see a wagon or a set of tents, all belonging to drifters looking to make their fortune, many of them holding umbrellas. You can hear idle chattering on the wind coming from below.
Among the various oddities approaching the archway are:
A fully fledged naval galleon, cannons and all, traveling across the land as if it were water; its crew begin to disembark as if nothing were wrong. You notice that they are all completely white with pale pink eyes, no matter their race.
Several small time merchants scatter as a tremendous black steam train rushes into existence before your eyes, popping out of nowhere and screeching to a halt at the archway. Various foppish looking unicorns spew out of one of the carriages, landing in a dogpile outside before phlegmatically picking themselves up and dusting themselves off.
What look like about half a dozen black pewter cauldrons soar through the sky, cutting rudely in front of your ship. In each cauldron is a black felid, using a broomstick as some sort of rudder. They cackle hysterically as they zoom through the rain, reveling in the chaos all around.
A small congregation of saurians in long hooded brown robes trudge solemnly past all the surrounding madness, each one clutching a book which is chained to their hand. The book is almost as big as their whole body. Occasionally, one of the saurians will slam their face with the book, as if in penance.
A swarm of tens of thousands of insectoid Breezies come buzzing out of one of the carriages of the aforementioned steam train, forming a colossal, vaguely bipedal shape and walking among the others in a hive mind.
A tiny young mare, no more than 6 or 7, rides on the shoulder of a large, bipedal suit of armor. The latter is clutching a red balloon grimly.
Aurora seems awestruck and more than a little intimidated at the weirdness around her, while Violet's brow furrows at the sight of the shimmering veil. "That's odd. I don't remember there being anything like that at the last Swap Meet… Maybe we should go ask around? Or try and get past it?"
Opting to stay below deck, sparing my mane, i peek out long enough to spy the procession and the barrier.
"I must say, the barrier looks quite similar to the banishing effect we saw earlier, prior to Aegis joining us. Perhaps it may be connected?"
"I'd imagine somepony
must know what's going on, surely. Asking around may be in our best interest."
"Do you think the truce is in effect right now, even though we haven't technically gotten to the Swap Meet? You don't think just dropping into a huge group right outside could be dangerous, do you? If not then I don't see why we wouldn't try asking around."
"Me and Norvegicuz were talking about having a big round table after ze zwap meet. Let'z focuz on de-ztrezzing zhere, and reconvene after we've made purchazez.">>710526
Zunden grimaces, "If it iz a checkpoint, let uz hope it iz not zet by ze Enemy. If only I could azzezz ze nature of all magic. Zadly, it zeemz not to be any zort of artifact."
"Geez, Aurora. Maybe we should pick some stuff up to help out with a Cold, just in case." the stallion suggests, helping Aurora get somewhere warmer inside. He's more than happy to take a chance to look out a window (or anything he can do to get a quick look), though, trying to get a look at everything he can through the rain.
"G-Geez. Is rain always like this? I've never really, well… seen any before. This is just… incredible.">>710529
"Sure. Anything special we ought to be looking for? Aside from our own purchases, this'd be a great chance to snag something helpful for all of us, or the ship.">>710527
"I think it'd be worth it. This looks like some pretty serious magic… maybe someone that shouldn't be coming through is trying to get in?"
''There was no mention of this rainbow barrier in the entry I read about this place'' Aegis spoke up
''It must have been the doing of some strong individual… Do you think it was made to be some kind of toll to grant access to the city?''
"You zhould ztart to zet up you and Zilver'z room to be more homely. I waz zhinking of getting zome zort of flying carpet zhat could help move furniture back to ze Fortune. Ezpecially wizh Hermodur not being here, we kind of need zomezhing to help carry heavy loadz."
"Oh that would be lovely! Our bedroom is
a rather plain affair, something with a little color would certainly help."
"Could be," Violet muses, touching her chin. "Certainly looks to be some sort of portal magic. Very odd…">>710528
"It should be," says Violet. "Seems like everyone's getting along just fine down there. Though… with that barrier up, I'm not sure if the rules have changed…">>710528>>710527
Aurora nods, still wrapped firmly in a towel. "L-let's g-g-g-go ask around.">>710529
Violet frowns. "You think Lysander's here already? I mean, it'd make sense, but I… I really hope we don't run into him. Or Black Pudding. I'd rather not have anything to do with them."
"Anyway, do you think you could take us down to ground level? Should go see what's up.">>710530
Aurora nods and blows on her hooves to warm up, giving you a rare smile of gratitude as you take her into the mess hall below deck. "It is pretty, isn't it," Violet smiles. "I love getting caught in the rain myself, but it's…" She glances at the miserable looking Aurora, suppressing a giggle. "Well, I guess it's not for everyone.">>710531
"Maybe," Violet muses. "Guess there's only one real way to find out. You're a magic scholar, right? Ever seen anything like this before?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid I'm a little too spindly to lift too much. I'll keep my eyes out for something like that.">>710533>>710532
"A-And, I suppose we should! Something like that never really, uhm… came to mind for me. I think it'd be nice, though. Maybe some thicker sheets, too?">>710534
"It is sort of pretty, yeah. It's more stunning than anything else- I guess nothing in the Echoes is going to be mild, though."
''I am'' She stares at the barrier from afar
''But I never seen a barrier of this kind before, or one as large''
"So I don't know if we decided this or not, but is someone going to stay on the ship with the snake? Or are we going to take shifts or something?"
Zunden nods, trying to land the boat without crushing anyone.
"I can't imagine Lyzander wouldn't be at an event az important az zhiz, and likely will trail uz az we leave. We can't exzactly hide zhiz zhip, he knowz it very well.">>710537
"Only two to zhree of uz zhould go zhopping at a time. We want people to be prezent in caze of Lyzander'z goonz planting zomezhing on ze zhip, or releazing ze znake."
"Yes, once we manage to park the ship, i suppose we'll see just what is going on."
"As much as i'd rather prefer a dry mane, it can't be helped with this water, how tragic." i lament, covering my eyes with a hoof.>>710538
take the first watch, sidestepping this business with the rain, though i'd certainly need some assistance should things go wrong."
"It's a good change of pace, I think," says Violet, looking out the window at the rain pattering on the glass. "Though, it's going to get old quick, I feel. Ah well.">>710536
Violet looks a bit worried. "Well, let's go see what's up, I guess. Hooves crossed it's nothing bad…">>710537
"I could stay," she offers. "Not like he's going anywhere. And, er, I wanted to go off on my own for a bit, later on. I'll stay here until one of you comes back. How's that sound?">>710538
You maneuver the ship to land safely in a patch of grass not too far from the archway. Several of the witch felids from before circle the ship like vultures curiously, then zoom away.>>710539
"Oh, the rain isn't that bad, once you get used to it," Violet comments. "Besides, it'll be nice and dry inside the Haventunnel, where the Meet's actually being held. We just need to get past that barrier and we'll be in. Surely it can't be that hard to pass?"
Once out of the ship, the rain didnt seemed to phase Aegis at all as she walked towards the barrier
I nod and lean in, giving her a quick peck on the lips. "Be careful," I say. "I'll see you when we get back." I glance over my shoulder. "I guess once we're getting in I"m going with you, huh, Z?"
"I will wait to enter ze barrier until I know more it from azking around. If it waz to hurt me in any way, I would not want to leave any of you ztranded."
Zunden says, taking her new staff in hand and stepping out.>>710542
"Zhat'z what we planned earlier, if you're ztill up for it."
"Well, we won't be here for too terribly long. I'm sure we'll get enough water for a few weeks, at the least." the stallion says, with a soft chuckle.
Rabi steps out of the ship once it's landed, and offers Silver a hoof to help her off the boat.
"Sounds good to me."
She pulls you in for a big kiss. "YOU be careful," she says teasingly, giving you a big grin. >>710543>>710544>>710541>>710542
You step out and take a good look at all the chaos outside the barrier. You can see the foppish unicorns from before organizing something at the steam train; a group of browbeaten, poorly looking people of all shapes and sizes are being led out of an adjacent carriage, dressed and all chained together by collars and anklets. They look like slaves to you. Over at the land ship, an outrageously dressed albino saurian in a huge feather hat is giving his crew a pep talk. The walking armor seems to be picking a flower for the little filly, and the Breezie swarm seem to be inspecting the barrier. The witches seem to have landed, huddled together in a circle, a plume of smoke rising from within their little clique, snickering evilly. You can see some kind of mermare in a big glass water tank. The tank is in a wagon, which is being pulled by a grim looking one eyed felid. In the distance, you can see a ramshackle wooden hut propped up on chicken legs sprinting towards the barrier at full speed, while in one corner, a tiny little goat is yelling furiously at a tree. The tree, of course, offers no response. Overall, everyone in the area seems to be minding their own business.>>710541
You jump off the deck and calmly head up to the barrier, walking past a trio of sentient fungi that seem to be having an argument over something. You approach the barrier curiously; as you approach, the rainbow shimmer twists and distorts, forming runes in an alphabet you don't recognize. You can feel a slight warmth radiating from the barrier.
The Crystal mare paid no mind to all the shenanigans happening around her, focused on the barrier for a moment
She looked to her side for the nearest being next to her ''You there. Have you any idea what is the meaning of this barrier?''
"This is, uh… hm. I'd ask if this is common, but Vi and Aurora both hung back. I guess we should just… ignore all of this?" he suggests, a little uneasy.>>710547
Rabi listens in, somewhat curious on the barrier himself.
>>710546>still on ship
Before leaving the ship proper, Zunden takes teh cards out from her deck, spreading and shuffling them while still sheltered from the rain.
"I will conzult ze Arcana on ze ztrange barrier. Perhapz it will offer inzight on it'z nature and how to pazz it."
>Draw from the Arcana
I look around. Man. All these folks look like weirdos. What are we supposed to do, just walk up to someone and->>710547
Well, okay. I guess that works. I hop off the ship and wait for Zunden.
"Beats me." The nearest being happens to be a stout little donkey, poking the barrier curiously like a cat asking to be let in. It ripples like water as he touches it. "I just got here. Been trying to get in, but no luck." He looks over to where you are. "Say. How come you get the fancy letters and I don't?">>710548
"I've never been to a Swap Meet till now," Aurora comments, hunching up like a puffed up pigeon to avoid the rain. "But it's about what I expected. And we're not even there yet. I think all these people are just looking for the way in." She examines the barrier herself, getting the same results as Aegis.>>710549
You take a moment to prepare yourself, reading the cards on what to do here. You get the hint that its existence seems to be due to outside forces interfering. It would only affect certain people, however, and the way to be admitted is simply a form of magical attunement. Only those the barrier does not wish, along with any with no form of magic whatsoever, would be unable to cross.
She turns back to the barrier and tentatively raises her hoof to touch it like the donkey did
I watch as Aegis talks to the donkey, waiting to see if she figured out a way in.
"Well, hmm. Alright then. Maybe the barrier keeps the rain out? I can't imagine something like a bunch of trading going well otherwise."
The barrier ripples and your hoof passes through. You feel sudden warmth rush through your body. The donkey scowls and throws his hat on the ground. "No fair!" he gripes. "I came all the way from Irontown and I can't even get in?!">>710554
Aurora nods, prodding the barrier curiously. "That'd make sense. But… I can't help but feel it might be meant to keep something else out?">>710552>>710553>>710554
When she sees that her hoof passes through, she blinks in surprise, tentatively walking through to the other side and vanishing from view. "Oh wow," you hear her breathe. "It's… certainly something. Seems safe to pass through, I guess…?"
Aegis's eyes widened for a moment as she nearly lost her balance from having her hoof pass through the barrier
''Try to ask around, maybe you'll find someone with the aswer, for not even I know what the standard is to enter'' She gives the donkey a cold glance over her shoulder ''If I find the aswer inside and see you again, I'll tell you''
With that she walked through the barrier
Zunden lays out a similar pattern as she had once before, two cards crossed and another below it. She flips them in order to herself
The first is Pentacles, a gold tengu saurian in silk robes holding one close to his body, his feet claiming two more, and a final one balanced on his head. Unlike the first time she revealed this card when doing a reading for Aurora, it's inverted.
"Zituation iz… zelf-protection and greed. Zurely ze barrier. Zo what about ze obztacle…"
The next is also inverted, showing an injured chuckwalla saurian amidst reeds, using one of them as a walking stick.
"Nine of Wandz.. normally rezilanze, boundriez.. a tezt of faizh. But inverted… Defenzivenezz and paranoia. Zhe barrier iz to keep zomezhing or zomeone out zhey don't want in zhere. Zo what iz ze zolution to zhoze who cannot enter?"
She reveals the final card, the veiled chameleon saurian from Rabi's reading showing it's face again.
"Ah, ze Magizian. Power and inzpired action… I don't know how rezourcefulnezz will help zhoze who cannot enter. Perhapz…"
she drums her claws on her staff, holding out her orb and contemplating it.>Bask: Mend
"Perhaps it iz more literal zhan I zhought. I will have to exzperiment."
Zunden leaves the ship again, placing the Fulcrum rings in bag of holding as she steps out. She looks out for someone struggling to get past the magical barrier.
You take a moment to focus, calling on your healing magic. The staff glows a pale yellow for a moment.
As you exit the ship, you make your way through the rain and the general bedlam, spotting a couple of fellow drifters trying to cross the barrier. One is a donkey next to Aegis, looking vexed over her being able to pass through so easily, while you also spot a huge ironclad saurian with a zweihander sitting contemplatively near the archway, staring at the rainbow shimmer as if waiting for it to vanish. There is also a ginger felid about two thirds your size wearing a fancy red vest, irritated at his inability to cross the barrier, occasionally pawing at it as if asking to be let in.
Zunden goes to walk towards barrier nearby the Felid, pressing her staff against it experimentally as she pushes until her claw would go in.
I adjust my bag and follow close behind. "Everything alright, Z?"
Opting to store the metal plates of my dress to prevent rusting, i hurriedly disembark, trotting to catch up with Zunden at the barrier!
"Right then, i suppose a proper brush should be on my shopping list as well, now." i grumble, making an attempt to shield my head with a wing.
"I waz juzt conzulting ze Arcana on ze nature of zhiz barrier. It iz ze rezult of interfering, to be zure. My guezz, from ze reading, it iz keeping ze mundane of nature out. I want to zee if I can remedy that for ze ozherz here if it all pozzible."
She says, before leaning in close, whispering,
"If it iz ze machinationz of Lyzander trying to catch ze aura our diztinctive magic auraz az we enter, I'd like to give az many people here my magic boon az pozzible, if juzt to zhrow him off. I waz alzo zhinking of pozzibly leaving ze Fulcrum ringz behind altogezher, but I don't know if anyone planz to ztay behind to guard zhem."
"Ah. Makes sense. Wouldn't want just anyone getting in, I guess." My eyes widen. I hadn't even thought about that. Could it be his doing? I knew he was influential, but this thing is a pretty big deal, isn't it? "Well, we're going to at least have one or two guards on the ship at a time, right? Still, I don't know if leaving them would be a good idea."
"Paranoia towardz zhat draconian drake iz one of ze zhingz preventing me from getting a good night'z rezt, anyzhing iz a pozziblity. And zure, you may be right. Ztill, I zhink ze firzt zhing I'll do when I get zhere iz buy a change of clozhing zhat no one haz zeen me in before."
"Maybe an umbrella, too? I don't know how common weather like this is elsewhere, but it could be handy."
Several indecipherable markings appear surrounding it, fading away with a ripple as you press into the barrier. Your staff starts feeling warmer in your hand, and you eventually stick your whole claw through. It almost feels like dunking your hand in a bucket of lukewarm water. The Felid perks up as you start entering, frowning in confusion. "Hey, how'd you do that?" he asks curiously.>>710987>>710986>>710991
You join Zunden at the barrier, making your way through the rain and past the miscellaneous travelers from near and far. Looking about, you see others crossing it without a hitch, though some seem to be barred from entering somehow. Aegis, Aurora and Zunden, however, seem to be able to pass through easily.>>710556
You pass through the barrier, finding Aurora on the other side staring wide eyed at the Swap Meet. https://youtu.be/BkLLhq5ApY4?t=30
Before you is a scene of pure chaos; a neverending, stifling throng of drifters of all shapes, sizes and colors, some of races you didn't even know existed. The great stone tunnel echoes with constant shouting and haggling, along with music, all sorts of music being performed on every corner of the small village. You can smell different exotic foods, spices, curries, meats and mushrooms from all the forgotten corners of the Echoes. Everywhere you look is a stall, or a shop, or a tent. Street magicians, both the fake and real kind. Merchants peddling shriveled old body parts. A store called "Birds and Information". An old crone selling lost and found, guaranteeing everything is 'nice and properly lost'. Everyone is everywhere at once, and nowhere is private. You can barely hear yourself think amidst the bedlam of the market.
Aurora's head spins as she takes in the sight. She doesn't seem to have noticed you cross at first, doing a double take as she sees you. "Oh. Hey. It's quite a sight, isn't it. Guess we'll be here a while… Was there anything you wanted to look for in particular? I can come with you if you want…"
Zunden pulls back her claw and staff, turning to the Felid.
"I do have an idea, but I do not for know for zure. Do you have anyzhing of magical nature on your perzon, zir felid, or practize ze art?"
looking up at the size of the barrier for a moment, i eye the oily surface, before pressing a hoof against it, in an attempt to pass through.
Aegis took a moment to take in the scene as well before she decided to make sure the strap on her shield and bags were tied extra tightly
''Keep your belongings close to yourself, the enchantement of the Swap Meet prevents agression, but I dont know if it will hold back pick-pockets'' She turns to Aurora
''If you want to come with me I wont stop you, in fact it might be better to go around this place in pairs…'' She muses, taking another look at the massive street market
''I will start by looking for some information. Tell me if you see anything of your interest''
With that, Aegis walked towards the 'Birds and Information'
Huh. Weird. I look over at Zunden and tilt my head. Probably shouldn't go in on my own. I quietly wait while she talks to the felid.
Rabi hums a little bit as he looks at the other travelers trying to, or succeeding at getting in, and attempts to press his hoof against it.
He blinks. "Never learned, no. I mean I tried, but I was never any good at it. You think only practicioners can cross? Seems unfair…" He swishes his tail impatiently, scowling at the barrier.>>710996>>710999
It seems to resist you at first, but gradually gives way, allowing you to pass through it. The felid nearby talking to Zunden looks jealous.>>710997
"I will," she says, and follows you into the shop, staring perplexedly at a nearby butcher selling all sorts of dead monster meat.
The "Birds and Information" store contains exactly what it says on the label. The interior is a tiny wooden store lit by a single chandelier, containing several bird cages, containing one or more birds of exotic colors. Many of the cages are empty, you notice. Who is buying all these birds is anyone's guess. The other major thing that seems to be sold are maps, compasses, and scrolls.
As you enter, a little bell rings cheerily, and a peculiar looking donkey shuffles out, old and hunched and wearing a coat seemingly made of bird feathers. A pigeon is perched obliviously on his shoulder. "Welcome, welcome. What'll it be today? Birds, or information?" Aurora looks completely nonplussed.>>710998
You wait on your own, trying hard not to stare at any of the oddities surrounding you. You notice the cackling black felids fly through the barrier in their cauldrons like it's not even there.
''Information'' Aegis replies immediately, her utter indeference contrasting Aurora's surprise
''I am new to this realm and I would like to know as much about it as I can. What do you recommend for a new drifter like me?''
She then turns to Aurora ''By the way, do you all have a map within the ship? I only heard you talking about some compass but I dont recall ever seeing a map on board''
"I zhink it could alzo be magical itemz, given zhat it iz a market after all. My queztion iz if a zmall enhancement would be enough to help zomeone in. Zhiz… zhield iz razher unfair after all."
Zunden holds one of her orbs out, showing it to the Felid,
"I'm Zunden, Reader of ze Arcana and zomewhat of a Healer. I can hang zpellz in a form zo zhat it'z bearer can uze zhem at any point later in zheir life. Would you allow me to grant you a boon zhat would mend bone or cure poizon, zhould zuch happen to you in your travelz? I will zertainly not charge you and I promize I have no ill will, I only wizh to zee if an enchantment from my magicz could help ozherz in need."
Moving past the barrier, i try to get my bearings surrounded by the roar of commerce.
Spotting the store, i try to push through to the door, tugging on Rabi as we move.>>710999
"Once Zunden passes through, we'll need to take some bits for shopping!" i shout to you over the crowd. "She still has our money, correct?"
Rabi hums happily as he seems to pass through with little to no resistance, and shrugs a little to the Felid. The sudden noise and commotion catches him off guard a little bit, but he quickly gets his bearings re-adjusted by Silver's eager tugging.
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, she does! What should we look to get first?"
"This store here might have information, there's so much to take in, wouldn't want to get lost in here!" i reply, pointing a wing at the sign, 'Birds and Information'
I cross my arms and watch the felids sail overhead. You'd think at this point I wouldn't be surprised by little things like that, but everything in the echoes seems to be weird in a different kind of way. I look down at Zunden. So that's what's up. "Do you think I actually have enough to cross through? Or do you think there's, like, a certain threshold you have to hit to be considered 'magical'?"
"Oh, that's pretty handy. Maybe they've got a map, or something?"
"R-really?!" It's the donkey's turn to look surprised. "They usually come for the birds 'round these parts. Diversify, I said. Diversify. Can't keep sellin' old rooks and starlings forever, even if they are nice and plump."
"Now then. What'll you give me in exchange for information? That's how things work around here, madame." He eyes you curiously. "You SURE you don't want a bird? You look like the kind of lady who could use one." He grabs a cage nearby containing a little grey bird with a bright red beak and a black and white face. It rflutters its wings in disapproval. "How about a nice finch? Eh?"
Aurora shakes her head. "We've always just used the compass. Guides us wherever we need to go, really." At this, the donkey perks up. "Where'd you get it from then? Musta been one of mine." He gestures at a strand of rope hanging from the ceiling with several dozen compasses dangling off of it like a bunch of grapes. Aurora just shrugs. "Traveling merchants pitched it to us a while back. Saurians." The donkey scowls. "Those yellow bastards!" he cries in outrage. "Reselling my beautiful stock!">>711002
"Dirk," the felid answers. "Just Dirk." He examines the orb wide eyed. "I'd certainly appreciate that. Thank you! Not often you get gifted anything, especially in these parts.">>711003>>711004
Looking about the market, you can see it stretches on for at least a mile onwards, being built inside a giant marble tunnel. Not only are there shops, but whole structures have been put up just for the gathering, such as a noodle factory, a barber shop (complete with a singing quartet), and a great furnace with a set of spiked cylindrical structures that rotate slowly and ominously, as if to grind whatever passes through their teeth. In one corner, a group of weird looking Diamond Dogs are staring rapt at a blank painting canvas, while on one side you can see some sort of auction happening, where the thing up for purchase is a bizarre barrel shaped creature with many wings and tentacles, and a head like a starfish.
From inside the "Birds and Information" shop, you think you can see Aegis and Aurora already gravitating towards it.>>711006
"Well, if your friend here's right," says Dirk, a felid she seems to have made acquaintance of, "you just need a magical artifact of some kind to be allowed to enter. Wonder why?"
"It'z in zheze partz zolidarity iz needed ze mozt."
Zunden nods, letting the stored power of the sun create an orb for Dirk the Felid.
>Mend (Frozen) on Dirk
[1d10+2]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
Aegis stared at the bird cage for a moment, mildly interested
''Very pretty, but I am not interested in pets at the moment, sir, only the maps''
With that she glanced down at her pouch ''I do not have much with me, only a few bits and some things I'd rather not part with if I can''
The Crystal mare raised her head to the bunch of compasses ''How much would it be for a map, and also one of those compasses. If I travel alone, one of those would be quintessential for me''
I shrug. "My guess is to keep out anyone without anything worth selling, but that wouldn't make too
much sense. I mean not everything worth trading is magical. Guess it isn't that big of a deal, though, if this is all we have to do to get in."
Seeing Aurora and Aegis already inside, i trot up to the pair, waving a wing.>>711010
"My word, this market is quite stunning, isn't it?"
"I presume you're here for directions as well?"
"Hrm… well, I guess we're headed the right way, then. Come on, Silver!" he says, hurrying after the other two.>>711010
"Hey, Aegis. They sell maps, by chance?"
''Yes, it seems a much larger scale than anything I ever saw in my home, and any other market beyond it that I've seen. I'm here looking to get a map and maybe a compass of my own, the kind that you have, so I can better traverse the Echoes on my own''
"Ah, so you're set on moving on alone? Our ship has room to spare if you'd prefer to travel with us, you know." i offer
"Given Hermodur's sudden exodus, you joining us wouldn't put any further strain on supplies, if that was the concern."
"Ah. Leaving so soon, then? We wouldn't mind keeping you around, if you'd prefer to stay."
You create a pale yellow orb, slightly different from your normal healing suns. Dirk's eyes light up as he hesitantly reaches out for it, taking it and cradling it in his hands. "It's… beautiful. Thank you."
Holding the orb in his other hand, Dirk reaches out to the barrier, eyes widening as he is allowed to pass through into the Swap Meet. He vanishes through the shimmer and to the other side.>>711010
"What? Pet?" He looks confused, but puts the bird back. It starts preening itself aggressively.
"Alone?" Aurora asks curiously, looking a little surprised.
The donkey reaches up and plucks one of the compasses from the 'grape vine'. "These don't come cheap, you know. You'd have to have something quite rare indeed to get one. They point to whatever you wish, you know."
"As for the maps…" He takes one from about half a dozen or so sitting neatly in a wicker basket, and unfurls it on the table. It shows a large, stretching region of the Echoes, with a variety of landmarks displayed, some of which you recognize from the book you read, such as the Blasted Heath or the Shifting Sands. "They're easier to come by, but nothing's for free around here. You really don't have anything to trade? Anything at all?" He eyes your new cloak.I haven't actually made a proper map yet so hang in there, I'll do one later this week
Aurora nudges you. "I have a few spare bits if you need them," she says. "If you want to, I mean.">>711012>>711013
The little bell jingles again. See >>711000
for a description. "Hello hello!" says the old donkey. "Welcome to Old Bailey's Birds and Information. Which'll it be today?" >>711013
"I do indeed," says the donkey, whose name appears to be Old Bailey. "Maps, history, secrets, rumors, whispers, I've got 'em by the pound. If I don't know it, it's probably better forgot, I say." He seems to be enjoying his sales pitch.
''I will no longer be a burder for you, dont worry, like I said before, I will forever be thankful for your assistance and a temporary stay in your ship, but I am undeserving of a place in your crew. I have nothing to offer you in exchang-''
Suddenly, Aegis goes quiet and pauses for a moment
''Actually, there is one thing I could give in return of a stay in your ship; My services as a hired blade, but… You are already all formidable fighters, and mages as well, I doubt there would be much use for somepony like me''>>711017
Aegis raised her hoof at Aurora ''No. Thank you Aurora but I could never accept your own money for something I will buy to myself'' Leaning over the map on the table, Aegis glances towards the Batpony mare
''Yes, Alone. I was never meant to stay with your group for long, I must find my own way out of the Echoes''
Turning back to face the Donkey, Aegis unstraps her bag of bits and presents it on the table
''Bits. it is the only physical good I can offer. If you want services in exchange for the map and the compass then we can talk about that as well''
"Well zhere we have it, we know all of uz can get in dezpite what artifactz we may have. Now iz ze queztion iz if you're patient enough for me to help zome of ze ozherz here."
She smiles to Norv, eyes glinting,
"We could even make zome coin from it."
I grin and nod. " Go ahead. I'll just hang back for now."
"Ah, Information today. This will be our first time at the swap meet, and i must admit this is quite a lot to take in. I don't suppose there's a map of the meet here?">>711018
"Quite the contrary, Aegis. With the departure of our companion Hermodur, we're admittedly in a weaker state than i'd prefer. Seeing the magic you could bring to bear that would prove more than enough to keep us at full strength."
Zunden snorts, "Would you want to be my barker, pun not intended? Juzt zay we're zelling pazzage for 5 bitz, no need to extort anyone an exorbitant fee. We can even offer refundz."
"Ah. Well, a map of the Swap Meet would do good! We could probably look through the other maps you have later, if you have any of the Echoes.">>711018
"Well, more help is always good- you're plenty capable, it seems."
Aegis seemed pensive for a moment
''I see, indeed from the looks of it, that Felid Hermodur seemed like a fierce warrior, and I imagine, a friend to at least some of you. I dont expect to fill in his stead but if we can all discuss this later, then I'm certain we can come to an agreement. Do not expect me to charge for my services, simply a room of my own and two meals every day will be enough, and in return you have my hooves, my shield and my knowledge on your side, Silver Song''
"…Oh. Okay then." She puts away her bag of bits, occupying herself with looking at all the different birds.
Old Bailey. "I see, I see. Well, I wouldn't be able to part with this compass for less than 100, but the maps I'll let go at, say, 25 each? They'll get you wherever you might need to go, I can promise that at least." Aurora speaks up again. "You know, if you stay with us, you won't have to spend all your money at once on the compass…">>711021
He deflates a little, looking a tad disappointed. "Birds were selling like hotcakes yesterday…">>711021>>711023
"Ah. Well, I don't have a map of the Meet itself yet. I'm working on one though, so I can sell 'em to newcomers like yourselves. I can tell you what's where though. …Actually, there's a good idea.">>711018>>711021>>711023
"How about this: I know the Swap Meet quite well at this point. Been to several in my day. If you're looking for anything specific around the place, I'll tell you what you're looking for for, say, 5 bits? Just pointers, nothing too specific. …Rumors cost double," he adds with a cheeky grin.
With a glance towards Aurora, Aegis nodded in agreement
''Well, it seems that the situation has shifted, and I will burden you for a while longer, so I wont have use of this Compass for now, so…''
Facing the Donkey again, Aegis separated 25 bits into a pile on the table ''Only the map, please. And, another thing, if you allow me to ask. After this Swap meet is over, where can I find you again, if I am in need of these compasses of yours I would like to know where I can get them''
"I can try. Ain't my first time trying to sell a service, at least. First time I ever played to a crowd, though." Clearing my throat I step in front of Zunden. "Barrier got ya down?" I shout. "Come all the way from Braildorn or Ironbrook, braving the wastes, woes, and wraiths of the echoes? And finally, you make it all the way here to the Weeping City, and for what? To be stopped by some magical barrier?" I crouch down a little and point at some random person trying to get in. "How would you, brave adventurer, like to get past that fickle, flim-flamming, and oh so flummoxing force field? You can, courtesy of my friend here for the low, low price of 5 bits! Don't believe me? Observe as I, a simple dog of simple pleasures, pass through the barrier with no difficulties!"
I walk over to the barrier and push my paw through. Pulling it back out, I turn back around and spread my arms. "But don't take my word for it! Try it yourself! If it doesn't work then we'll give you a full, no strings attached refund. But that's not all. Act now and we'll even throw in a free, state of the art mending spell. That's right, a spell that cures what ills you, what ails you, and perhaps even if you've taken a bit too hard to drink the night prior, what ales you. But act now, because this free offer is in limited supply!"
[1d10]Assuming a roll is neededRoll #1 9 = 9
I flash Zunden a small smirk. "Think ya can handle 'em all, Z?"
Zunden's brow raises.
"Well now, zhat waz more zhan I waz exzpecting. I juzt zhought your voize would carry farzher zhan mine, I didn't know you'd create a whole zhpeal and all."
I chuckle and give her a half shrug. "Learned a bit from a friend of mine back home. Sort of a salesman. Seen him work a few times and thought it seemed fun."
"Excellent news indeed! As you say, we'll speak more later, but for now i'm glad you've opted to join us.">>711025
"A reasonable offer."
"I was hoping to find a stall for interior decor, and perhaps a cosmetics stand as well, i've need of a brush for my rather unruly mane." i prompt, hoofing over ten bits as i go.
"Sounds pretty good- I've been meaning to get some information on magic, actually- books, scrolls, that sort of thing. I could probably use some sort of side-sword, too, now that I think about it… and, yeah. Some stuff to spruce up a home or a room?">>711026
"Please, you're no burden."
''Quite. But there is no need to fret over this matter for now, let us leave this for after the Swap Meet is over and everyone has bought what they need. This is a rare event after all''>>711032
''Partaking of your food and drink while having nothing to offer in exchange is being a burden. I appreciate your generosity from the bottom of my heart, and that is why I will not let it go unpaid''
Aurora perks up at your change of heart, but merely gives a stiff little nod.
"Just the one map? They're regional. Don't think anyone's really mapped out the entirety of the Echoes. Too big to do."
He lights up a little, reaching into the pockets of his feathered cloak and pulling out a grubby business card. It has a logo of a feather on a briefcase, and reads "Old Bailey's Birds and Information", followed by an address. "Usually live in Braildorn, but I made my way up here for the Meet. Shop and all. After this is all over, if you ever need me, here's where you can find me." He gives you a friendly smile. "…That'll be 5 bits.">>711027>>711029
Norv's sales pitch grabs the attention of several prospective marketgoers, who start approaching curiously. Slowly but surely, a crowd starts forming, and the natural instinct of citizens to form an orderly queue kicks in. One by one, Zunden sells her Mending orbs, allowing the less magically inclined to access the market. They all seem extremely grateful for the opportunity, occasionally leaving tips. The whole process takes about an hour, and by then, you have increased your already considerable wealth.You are a little tired out from the ordeal.>+400 bits>>711031
He looks a bit surprised at how mundane your request is, but shrugs it off. "Right. You saw the Grinder when you came here, right? Those two big turning spike things, with the furnace. Keep moving past 'em, careful not to slip in, and head across the road. There's a lady there selling all sorts of decor, magical and otherwise. As for cosmetics, well, you could always try the lost and found back there. Though it's more 'lost' than 'found.'" He shrugs. "Seems to find all sorts of weird knick knacks. Seen 'er every Swap Meet for the last 15 years.">>711032
"Arms and armor are common enough, just keep looking and you'll run into someone peddling 'em eventually. If you're looking for something a bit more specific though, the old smith Hadrian's come out of retirement just for the Meet. Only works on commission, and he isn't cheap, but his work is just…" He does a chef kiss. You recall Norv having mentioned getting his new sprayer from Hadrian.
"As for magic, depends on the type you're into. There's scholarly types, dark Litharge types, more practical types, weird forbidden types… In general though, I know there's a sorcerer in town all the way from the southern swamps. Black Pudding. Might've heard of him. Creepy fellow, but he knows his magic. Bit out there for most people though, you're probably not into that sort of thing. You'd be better off trying Stafford's shop. Keep heading down the road, you'll see a wall full of animal cages. About a block down from it is an all purpose magic shop. Probably what you had in mind."
Aegis had a hint of a frown as she squinted at the man, slightly more menacing than her usual pokerface, but handed out the 30 bits regardless
''One more thing'' She hands over an extra 5 bits, making the total into 35
''I need to know where I can find easy employment or some other way to get bits or do services in exchange for goods. I feel like I wont have nearly enough money for what I will want in the Swap Meet. Do you know of anything that can help?''
Guess listening to Freck peddling his counterfeit goods actually paid off. You might have it yet, Norvy boy. I adjust my suit and hat. "Well, that went even better than I'd expected." I turn to Zunden. "You ready to head in?"
"Fair enough. If it makes you feel better, I'm sure you'll show your worth soon enough- we can't seem to avoid trouble.">>711034
"Hrm… that Dark Litharge sounds a tad foreboding. The practical types, and the scholarly types could be good. Are the other mages around the same area?"
Zunden leans on her staff, letting Norvegicus handle the coin as she catches her breath.
"Never had to.. cazt ze zame zpell zo many timez in a row. Zhought ze firework inzident waz ztrezzful.">>711036
"Yeah, zhough now everyone knowz our fazez, for better or for worzh. Again, would zuggezt a new zet of clozhz wizh zhiz extra income az well."
''Then I will be there whenever trouble happens, and hopefully soften the blow of any battle''
I slip the bits into my bag, look down at my suit, and knit my brow. "Man. I like this. You're probably right, though. I'll keep an eye out for something I like. Hey, do you think that cloth BP gave us would protect against my gas? I was thinking, and the last thing I need is to end up downwind of the spray one day and knock myself out."
"Excellent, exactly what i was looking for, and not too far from here as well, Thank you sir.">>711037
"We would do good to avoid Black Pudding, if possible. I doubt he would be happy to see us here, far from the task he had given us."
"Aside from that, it seems my shopping will be done faster than i had thought. Plenty of time to window shop with you as we look for a smith, right?"
He's either oblivious to your displeasure or has just learned to not be intimidated by customers.
"Oh that's easy. You just ask around. Sure there's bound to be someone looking for a hired sword. In fact, I heard the Skylord's gonna be having tryouts looking for mercs to hire. Don't know for what though. If you're interested, you can try asking around about that. Not sure exactly where he's having the tryouts. Sorry. The other thing you could try is pillaging the City itself, but that could be dangerous. Up to you, friend.">>711037
"Sure, they all tend to stick close together, but also keep to their cliques. You've got the Animus Sages, the Witches of Rydell, the Beacons, the… Anyway. Yeah, they're all about in the same district. Head over the way and you can't miss them. I also heard there's a pretty well respected wizard coming to the Meet soonish. Fumblemore. Big deal back home. Not sure if he's affiliated with any of 'em.">>711041
"You're very welcome! Now, could I interest you in a nice birdie? The rooks are especially ripe this year." He gestures at a row of cages containing roosting black birds not unlike crows.
With the map folded and stored away, Aegis turned around to Aurora ''Is there anything you want from here? If not, I'm leaving''
With that, and, assuming Aurora didn't want to linger any longer, Aegis left the shop, heading down the road, towards the so-called Stafford's shop
"I could be a tezt zubject for you, I truzt you well enough. It wouldn't hurt to buy a better mazk anyhow, zhough. I want to buy Aurora a zcarf zinze zhe likez zitting up in zhat crow'z nezt zo much. We can do a fair bit of enchanted clozh zhopping."
"Yeah. It's gotta be cold up there, especially since we're already high up to begin with." I rub my chin in thought. "I'll keep an eye out. Not really sure what I'm looking for, but if the cloth sorta does it and BP gave it to us for free then I'm sure I can find something
that'll do the job."
"Oh, I know him! Well, thanks for the info."
"If anyzhing, you could get one juzt for look'z zake. Already have zhat intimidating zprayer, might az well look ze part."
Zunden taps her head,
"Hey, I didn't zee if you actually did or not- did you buy ze helmet for Violet?"
"Birds, you say? I did
notice quite the selection, though i'm afraid i don't have the space to care for one at the moment."
Having received directions, i take the chance to step out of the store and onto the busy street once again.
I sigh and slump my shoulders. "I think I need to up my intimidation factor a little anyway. You can talk big, but if some little dog is the one yappin' at ya it don't mean much. It worked on that changeling and those muggers, but that guy that attacked us didn't buy it. And I was putting everything I had into it, too." I perk up a little at the mention of the helmet. "Yeah. Totally bought it. It was more expensive than I expected, but she really seemed to like it. Felt bad lying to her like that, and she seemed sorta disappointed that I 'didn't like it', but it'll all be worth it when I give it to her after the meet." My eyes turn to the barrier. "Anyway, not gonna be grabbing anything if we don't go in. Ready?"
Zunden smiles, "Well zinze herz lookz like an animal, you'd better get a zimilar-zhemed one. I zhink it'd be a good look for you two.">>711042
The saurian nods, stepping into the threshold,
"Let'z get zhopping zhen."
[1d10] NavigationRoll #1 10 = 10
'1d10' navigation roll
Roll #1 1 = 1
"Actually yeah, that'd be pretty neat." I chuckle. "You think maybe something rat themed? Or would that be a little too on the nose?" I follow her through the barrier.
"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing- the longer we avoid them, the better." The stallion says, shivering a little. He shrugs it off in short order though, and smiles a little at Silver.
"Yeah! A smith, and find our way to this decor salespony she mentioned."
>Navigation [1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I do not zee not, exzept for ze dynamic zhat iz between a rat and a hawk." Zunden grins, "One doez prey on ze ozher. Ztill, I don't zhink it'd be a bad look for you."
I blush and glance away a little. Well, I don't guess it'd be entirely
inaccurate. "Well, if you don't think it'd be silly I'll have to look out for one. Or find someone to get one made. Too bad I can't hire Hadrian again. He did a damn good job with my sprayer."
On the way there, you find yourself constantly jostled in the dense crowd, becoming thoroughly disoriented in the market. You find yourself somewhere completely different, facing a dark door with a complex gear mechanism set into it. For some reason, you get a foreboding feeling from it. It doesn't help that there are what appear to be bones dangling from the ceiling, tied by strings, rather like the cold room in a butchery. Aurora looks uncomfortable, looking about nervously.
A tiny little Diamond Dog sidles up to you, wearing a long, dark overcoat. he has a distinctly unpleasant look to him. "You look the spellcasting type, eh? Interested in buying some powerful magic artifacts? Exceptionally rare stuff, stranger." He grins.>>711048>>711054
You leave Old Bailey's and step out into the market. It's difficult to navigate the constant hustle and bustle, and on more than one occasion you are interrupted by loud hawkers trying to push their wares on you.
"Rubbish! Junk! Garbage!" screams a fat, elderly griffon with half her feathers fallen out. "Offal! Debris! Come and get it! Nothing whole or undamaged! Crap, tripe, and useless piles of shit! You know you want it!"
"Lost property!" chants a goo pony in armor, beating a small drum. "Step right up, see for yourself. Lost property, none of your found muck here. Everything nice and properly lost. Lost property…"
"Come get your teeth!" a Dog in a white dentist's coat shouts out, standing near a dentist's chair and demonstrating a foot operated drill. A line of miserable looking people is forming. "All sorts of teeth and other extremities as well!"
Eventually, you get away from all the madness and come to an extremely cozy looking shop with an old ewe in a rocking chair out the front. She looks up from reading a book as you approach. "Oh hello, dearies. What can I do fer ye this fine day?" She seems completely unaffected by the general turmoil of the Swap meet.>>711050>>711053
The constant chaos of the market is overwhelming. Your friends could have split up to go anywhere by now, lost amidst a sea of heads of all shapes and sizes. Your head spins at the sheer scope of this place; it's as if someone had gathered an entire country's population and put them all in the same cramped place. See >>710993
for a detailed description.
Aegis seemed rather bothered as well, the crowd leading her to somewhere that seemed much different than what she expected, and as she looked around, trying to find that wall lined with animal cages, her attention is brought to the diamond dog, and she eyes it with indiference
''I wasnt, but if you can impress me, maybe I will change my mind, sir
He quails a little at your icy glare, but he doesn't give up. "Meant no offence, my fair lady," he says with an oily tone. "Just saw you and your lovely friend pondering yonder door. If you're looking to explore the City, you might want to be well prepared. Eh?" He beams at you with foul, crooked teeth.
The seedy Dog doffs his crooked top hat and reaches into his coat; you half expect him to pull it open and show off a bunch of watches, but instead he fumbles around for a bit before taking out a rusted keyring and fumbling with it for a moment, mumbling to himself. Eventually, he grunts happily as he finds the right key, and fits it into an imaginary keyhole and turns. A door opens in thin air, leading to what looks like the interior of a supply closet.
You see a variety of items inside, all of them having a distinct air of unpleasantness to them, as if they had been taken from somewhere you don't want to know about. "Go on then, ma'am! Take a gander!" Aurora looks apprehensive, but humors the Dog, who snickers to himself as he shows the goods.
You see the following items in the Dog's portable closet:
The skull of some unfortunate saurian with a long wax candle on top of the head. It is currently lit, illuminating the room ominously.
A butterfly knife. The blade has black streaks on the metal, which are slowly and constantly shifting around, writhing like worms. Aurora seems oddly drawn to it.
A thick, ancient tome bound in leather, with the corners of its spine bound with cold black iron. It seems to have weathered much abuse over the years, but is still in one piece.
A scroll holder about the length of your arm, made of elaborately patterned metal. You recognize some of the patterns as being connected to certain alchemical practices, though you know little of it yourself. (Note: alchemical in the sense of connected to transmutation, and not so much the brewing of potions).
A large iron structure about the size of a suitcase. Its coffin-like shape, studded exterior and macabre face design are unmistakable; it's an iron maiden, albeit an unusually small one. Its purpose is unclear.
A large ball of red yarn. It looks oddly wet; perhaps it isn't yarn at all. For some reason, it makes your skin crawl.
A huge, oddly beautiful sculpture of an anatomically correct heart, made of some sort of transparent glass or crystal. The shelf surrounding it seems to be covered in some sort of frost or dew.
A small ebony statuette, no larger than your hoof, carved in the semblance of a scrawny cat. It is bristling with its back arched as if in attack mode. Its sculpted eyes seem to follow you wherever you look.
"Offend me? No, but you do not make a good first impression for a supposed merchant" She commented as the dog fumbled with his keys
"This is not my business but if you truly are looking to sell, consider a more friendly approach"
"… Or at least, have a visible store" The crystal mare mutters as she passes through the door "It almost seems like you are intentionally hiding"
She shoots him a completely neutral glare, talking in a completely neutral tone before her attention shifts to the many unique items
"That said, you have an interesting collection" She says eyeing the frozen heart sculpture "I assume they have a purpose and use and are not just here to serve as Decorations" She motions to the glass crystal heart
"As I said," he answers, bowing hunchedly, "these are exceptionally rare items you see before you. Most people would pry a little too hard for my liking. Easier to hide them away unless I have a proper customer. More convenient too. Eh?" He tucks away the keyring in the depths of his coat and rubs his hands eagerly as you enter his portable shop.
"Everything has a purpose, m'lady," he answers. "And everything's for sale! Or for trade, if you have anything worthwhile."
He notices you eyeballing the crystal heart. The more you look at it, the more you start to think it doesn't just look like it's carved; it seems to actually be a lump of ice in the shape of a heart. Faint flecks of gold can be seen within, emitting a faint light. "Interested in the pretty sculpture, are you?" he says, shuffling over to you. He puts on a pair of thick gloves before taking the heart off the shelf, holding it out for you to inspect closer if you wish.
"Careful now, it's quite cold. Very valuable, very rare. Heart of a wicked queen, from what I know. I'm not a history buff, but what I heard is they ripped out her frozen heart, and sealed her soul inside. You can still see it stirring… I'm not much of a spellcaster, but I do know trinkets. And this one would be quite powerful, if you know how to use it. Bending a vengeful spirit to your will sound up your alley, miss? 'Course it does. Just don't drop it now, eh? Wouldn't want her soul set free… Hehehe…"
Aurora looks over at the two of you apprehensively, seeming a bit unnerved by it all.
Addendum: you can feel an unearthly chill coming from the heart as he holds it, and you notice frost starting to form on the Dog's gloves. He shivers a little just from holding it.
"I am used to the cold"
There's a glint of interest in Aegis's eyes as she takes in the sight of the heart, looking almost mesmerized by it
But suddenly, her gaze is drawn from the heart to the dog "Tell me about the tome" she demands coldly as she walks towards the display of the beaten leather book without waiting for the seller
He blinks. "Er… of course!" He grabs the book from the shelf, struggling a little to hold it up. You can see that it seems to have been through a great deal of trauma; there are cracks in the spine, the cover is warped as if by acid, there are scorch marks and odd stains on the pages, and even burns. Despite this, however, the book stubbornly remains intact.
"I must warn you, milady, this book isn't for the faint of heart. This is the Liber Animarum itself." He looks at you as if to judge whether the name means anything to you. It doesn't. "'Tis a grimoire, milady," he explains. "A guide to summoning and binding demons. Many have sought this book. To destroy it or to learn from it." He opens up to a random page to demonstrate; it has a full set of instructions, including a name, depiction of a horrific looking demon, diagrams of certain sigils that should be drawn, what to offer to appease the demon, and what can be gained from it. "If you crave the void, milady, look no further," he grins. "Be very careful with it, though. Many amateurs have misstepped while asking for boons from their esteemed guests, and… well, you can only imagine what happens next!"
"Very interesting indeed. You're not failing to impress me with these items, sir" Aegis says that, but her tone really doesn't say 'impressed'
"I hope you do not mind educating me further on your items, I have a feeling that I won't leave here empty-hoofed"
She turns to the scroll holder
"This one. I see it has markings related to alchemy arts, please tell me more of it"
The Dog takes this as sarcasm, and starts sweating uncomfortably, tugging at his collar.
"Er, of course, of course! Anything you need, milady! I'm sure you'll find aught of use."
He pops open the scroll holder, unfurling a long roll of parchment. It has several diagrams, more of a scientific type, along with very dense and complex instructions written in fine ink. At the bottom are several diagrams of a bizarre ape-like creature with truly gigantic hands and a grotesque, disproportionately large jaw. "Homunculi, milady," he says mysteriously. "Creatures created by a fusion of magic and science. That is the essence of true alchemy. The instructions are tricky, but I guarantee they work. Used to have a homunculus meself. They're… not very talkative. Or very bright. But they're loyal to a fault, and incredibly useful, even in combat. The process is lengthy, mind you, and it requires… certain ingredients. You might want to talk to Carnie here at the markets about that. But results guaranteed, or your money back!"
"I suppose a servant would be nice to have, but I am not interested in having one at the moment. Show me what is next"
She moves towards the butterfly knife with black markings
His face falls a little, and his mask slips a little as he grumbles something about poor taste. Aurora looks suspicious, tearing her eyes away from the ugly little imp on the scroll.
"This beauty… well, I don't know much about it, to be perfectly honest. Pilfered it off of someone what didn't need it anymore. It's a nice knife though." He starts showing off by doing tricks with the knife. "There's something magical about it, though. Hurts people something 'orrible." Aurora looks interested. "What do you mean by that?" she asks, speaking for the first time since you entered the dingy little store.
"Oh, well you hit someone with it, they can't really patch it up with magic. Has to heal on its own. A nasty piece of work. Dunno what'd happen if you were to kill something with it." He shrugs and hands it over for her to take a look. She looks highly intrigued.
Aegis eyes it without much interest(?)
"How much for it?" she asks the clerk
"For you, my good lady, only 50 bits," he answers. Aurora doesn't seem surprised, but also perhaps a little frustrated at you buying it. She doesn't comment, however.
Aegis nods at the dog before turning to Aurora
"Do you want it?" she suddenly asks
"Well, I'd like to, but… it's not really a big deal," she shrugs. "Buy it if you want. I'd like something a bit more elegant anyway." The Dog looks a little offended, but offers her no response.
"I don't, But I thought you interested. If you want to buy it it's all yours"
With that she made her way to the ebony cat statuette
"Now this and that Saurian skull looks like decoration. What is the purpose of this item?"
"Oh. Well… thanks," she says quietly, and proceeds to buy the knife for herself, tucking it neatly in her belt.>>711160
He blinks. "You've never seen a Harbinger before? They're not all that uncommon around 'ere. In fact it's probably the only thing I have what isn't a rarity. To demonstrate, milady, I'll just need your name, if you please."
Aegis nods to the bat mare
"Aegis Glaze" She says fearlessly, watching the clerk and the statuette closely for any effect
The Dog nods and picks up the statuette, moving to the far end of the room and holding it in the palm of his hoof. He clears his throat. "Seek Aegis Glaze. Tell her 'you should consider buying from Gyll'." With a shimmering sound, the tiny cat effigy comes to life, jumping nimbly out of the Dog's paw and running up to you. "You should consider buying from Gyll,"
it says, in a perfect replica of the Dog's voice, before returning to the Dog. As soon as it does so, it stiffens, becoming a statue again. "Useful, eh?" says Gyll. "Don't bother with scrolls anymore. Just send one of these out to whoever! 'Course, they can only travel for about a day or so before the enchantment wears off, so be careful not to overwork it. Might run too far away and not be able to make it back to you in time." He tosses the statuette up in the air and catches it before passing it to you for examination. "Now what do you think of that?" he says proudly.
"It is a cute little device, though it's limitations in distance are not pleasing to hear, plus there is the worry of something catching it on the way and making it break" she examines the little trinket on her hoof "With those flaws in mind I expect a fair price. How much is it"
The black wooden cat stares out at you with lifeless eyes. "Normally Harbingers go for about 75, but for you… how does 60 sound, m'lady?" Aurora frowns in disapproval, but keeps playing with her new knife in the background.
"That does not sound like a reasonable price for something so frail. Are you sure you are giving me a fair wager for something supposedly so common?" She questions, raising her eyes from the cat to give the dog a neutral look
Roll #1 9 = 9
"Well… I…" Gyll fiddles with his busted old top hat. "Oh fie. How about 45 then? And I'm shortchanging myself with how valuable they are." Aurora watches from the sidelines with mild amusement as you make the peddler sweat.
"Of course you are" She hands him the needed bits and moves on the the red clump of yarn
"Now, please tell me of this thing, it bothers me so"
"Thank you kindly!" Gyll eagerly counts out your coin, rubbing his paws together.>-45 bits
"Now, as for this… well, it's a bit more gruesome than it looks. I don't know what it really is, and odds are, no one wants to. But it's not yarn. Fleshier than yarn." Even he shudders at the sight of it. Aurora wrinkles her nose. "The important part is, though, it never runs out. And if you're going in there
-" he gestures at the door - "you'll need a way to not get lost. The City, it… changes shape, you see. Most that go in there get lost and starve. But if you have this… well, it's grisly, but at least you shan't get lost. Right?" He waggles his eyebrows at you.
Aegis glances out the door, and her gaze lingers for a couple of silent seconds before she turns back to the Dog
"How. much." She asks simply
"40 bits," he says confidently, folding his arms. Aurora looks indignant. "That's outrageous!" she comments. "Do you want to survive or not?" he snaps back, his facade slipping a little again. "…Er, it is quite a valuable and useful artifact. 40 bits," he states again.
"It's fine Aurora"
She opens up her bag and hands over the money with no complaints
"Now, for the last item…"
She glances to the eerie tiny Iron Maiden
"Thank you, thank you.">-40 bits
"Ah, this…" He chuckles sinisterly. "This… This… I have no idea, actually." He rubs the back of his head in perplexion. "It has some sort of magic to it, but I haven't been able to make head or tail of it. Maybe it's just a really sadistic mouse trap?" He shrugs. "Tell you what. I'll sell it to ya for cheap. 15 bits. How's about it?"
Aegis hands him the money again
"I will study it when I can"
"Now-oh, right" she turns to the skull with the candle that has been casting light "I forgot about that. Is it really an item for sale or is it simply some grim decoration?"
You take the miniature iron maiden. You feel like you're going to have a bad time.
"Hope it does more for you than it does for me," Gyll shrugs, pocketing your money.>-15 bits
"This is quite something. It's a medium for casting spells, you see, only they're unusually strong when they come out. As long as the candle's lit, it'll work without a hitch. I think. Dunno what happens if it gets snuffed. T'be honest with ya, part of me doesn't want to know. Feels like I'm gambling something terrible." He stares at the skull for a moment, then reaches up and rather daintily shifts it so it's facing away from him, towards the wall. "Keen?"
"No. I already have a medium and it served me well so far, thank you"
She glances about "That said, I apologize for the inconvenience and I'm thankful that you took the time to give me a summary on all of your items… What I assume are all of them at least. But you are an honest merchant. You wouldn't hide any secret goods from me, I know" She glares at him with a crushing lack of emotion
Roll #1 4 = 4
"Aye, fair enough."
As you question him on whether that's all he has to show, he keeps a poker face. "My dear lady, I am but a humble peddler of second hand goods," he answers phlegmatically. "I assure you, I have nothing to hide. What you see is what I've got."
"I never had any doubt"
She nods and turns to the beaten up book
"Then, how much will it be for this one"
His eyes gleam as you pick up the book. "Ehehehe. I knew you were no ordinary mare. Surely you must realize just how valuable the Liber Animarum really is? Many narrow minded zealots have tried to destroy it over the centuries. None have succeeded, of course. It has a mind of its own, determined to impart its knowledge to many a budding occultist. The Liber Animarum has passed from witch to warlock for generations!" he declares dramatically. "And now, here, in a dark and forgotten dimension, it can pass to you.
For the lowly price of 300 bits!" Aurora seems apprehensive at the thought of acquiring the black book, looking at you concernedly.
Aegis mulls over her choice
"That is a bitter price for something that might kill me and despite what you might think, I'm not as wealthy as I look" She sets the book in place
"My offer is 250 bits, and before you try to argue with that price, think about this; Will anyone else truly be interested in this dangerous book? You have as much chance of having some pony be interested in buying it as someone who might find out and try to destroy it, or even worse, apprehend you for trying to sell it. You would be much better without it" She suggests with the same tone as a robot, the light from the candle skull casting a creepy shadow over her
Roll #1 5 = 5
"250?" He looks aghast. "For THE Liber Animarum? You'll run me out of business, good lady. If I were to go and peddle every artifact I own for such a low price, I'd be out on the streets! Would you really seek to ruin me? Who never hurt a fly in his life? You'd really do that to poor old Gyll?…"
He sees his sob story routine isn't changing, and grows a little stony. "275. Take it or leave it. Also, I do have other customers lined up, thank you very much. Black Pudding is sure to barter for it, for one. And Lysander's always open. And there's Klaproth, Lord Breschau, the Witches of Rydell - bet they'd slaver over this find, actually…"
She looks down on him as he goes on
Aegis takes a while to hand over the bits, counting them carefully before paying the dog
"This will be all. But before I leave, tell me, where may I find you again outside of the Swap Meet. I might want more of your occult items for my family's collection"
He beams as he puts away your coin, patting his pocket satisfiedly. "Thank you kindly. That was a fine trade. I have a good feeling we'll meet again soon. And make another fine trade!">-275 bits
"Oh, I wander here and there. I'm a drifter too, you know. Usually though, you can find me out near Withick, southeast of here, past the Valley of the Lost. Great big town in the middle of the woods. Can't miss it. Ask around for old Gyll! I'll be there! Probably!"
"Good to know. Thank you for your business and farewell"
And with her items in her bag, Aegis leaves the store, stopping by the invisible doorway to look at Aurora
"I hope no one there minds having these items on board"
"See you next time! Enjoy your new toys!" he says cheerily. As you step out, he follows after you, locking the door behind him. The whole thing disappears without a trace. He dons his shabby top hat, does a squat little bow and shuffles off, vanishing into the thick of the crowd.
As soon as he's gone, Aurora visibly shudders. "Ugh. That place was horrible. I feel like I need a shower after that. At least we got something out of it though?" She looks at her new dagger curiously, then looks over to the stuff you got. "I don't think that book is a good idea. We shouldn't use it. If it goes wrong, who knows what could happen." Her gaze lingers on the Liber Animarum for a moment before turning to the other things you got. "I think Rabi has one of those Harbinger things. His is a raven though. We haven't really had a chance to use them yet, but they seem quite useful."
"I see, you could have told me about that, regardless it doesn't matter now. And don't worry, I have no plans to use the book yet, only to study it, and in case a need to use it arises, I will try to not involve any of you"
She walks on ahead
"Now come, I want to find the wall with animal cages"
Roll #1 5 = 5
"Let uz go zhopping for clozhez firzt. I'm zure zhere'z zome zort of mage zhat could ztitch zomezhing to your zpezificationz right before your eyez. I've zeen poniez ztitch clozhing wizh zheir magic before, I could only guezz what zkilled crafterz could zell zheir warez here."
My heart thuds against my chest as I look out at the huge gathering. I knew it'd be busy, but didn't realize it'd be this
busy. "Yeah, maybe. If we can even look for someone specific and don't just kind of get lost on the crowd." I glance up at her. "You think they'd actually make their goods to order here? Seems like it'd be a lot of work under such short notice."
"When people have ze money for it, zhey want convenienze. Given ze amount of gold zhat muzt flow in here, I can only azzume zhere muzt be zome zort of zervize like zhat. Zhough, I don't zhink it'd be cheap eizher. Perzonally, I'm looking to reforge Violet'z weapon, zo I'm hoping to find a zmizh zhat could create zomezhing from ze broken blade wizhin ze day."
She looks around, searching for any sort of bright fabrics or bolts of cloth on display.
"I would look for ze telltale zignz of a tailor. Loom, boltz of clozh. If you zee anyzhing of ze zort let'z head zhat way."Roll #1 1 = 1
Approaching the shop, i greet the Ewe with a courteous wave of a wing.
"Greetings, miss. My Companion and i were looking for some new furniture for our room and i had heard you might sell some. Our current decor is functional but quite plain, you see."
"Yeah! Some furniture, maybe some blankets or blinds, that sort of stuff." He says, leaning slightly against Silver.
I look around, hoping to help her find anyone who will do those things. "Yeah, that'd be nice."
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"Er, r-right. Sorry. Let's just keep moving, I guess…"
You head back into the crowd, keeping an eye out for a wall lined with animal cages. It isn't long before you find it; while most of the cages are empty, others contain strange two-headed creatures that look like somewhere between a reptile and a mammal. Moving on from there, you find what you're looking for: a large blue tent not unlike those you'd find at a circus, with a sign in front reading "STAFFORD'S STAFFS" in loud bold text. Underneath in finer print is written "Scrolls - Seances - Sigils".
This store seems to be fairly popular, as you can see quite a few other customers nearby, forming a tiny crowd around the entrance. A serpentine saurian wearing reading glasses, presumably Stafford, is holding a captive audience as he loudly proclaims the utility of a magical symbol he's drawn on a piece of parchment.
"…And with thisssss one, ladiessss and germsssss, you can sssimply make yourssself disssssappear from prying eyesss! For the lowly price of 30 bits, thiss can be yourssss!" A customer eagerly approaches, and he starts dealing with them. He hasn't noticed you yet.
"Well, ye've come tae the right place," she says warmly, standing up with a bit of effort and hobbling towards the door. "Haven't gotten many customers yet. Always happy tae strike a deal!"
You enter her little shop. Much like Black Pudding's hut or Rosen and Gilder's caravan, this place appears to be under some sort of enchantment, making it much larger on the inside. It's an entire store dedicated to home decor, spread out in a neat, practical style. She has everything you could want for what you're looking for, including cushions, curtains, beds, sofas, chairs, and tables. There is a black poodle curled up near the entrance, stirring a little as you enter but not offering you more than a soulful look. "Everythin' ye see is fer sale!" the old ewe says cheerily. "I'm sure ye'll find somethin' worth yer while!"
Aegis watched for a moment as the Saurian showed off his goods
''This is unusual'' She speaks to Aurora without prying her eyes off Stafford ''I never seen a magic goods dealer advertise its products loudly for a crowd''
She looked around, searching for an open display she could browse through
As you speak to the Harbinger, it comes to life, preening itself as you start loading it with items. Once you give it instructions, it flaps its wings and takes off through the nearest window with your care package in tow.>>711200>>711208
Your head spins as you start making your way through the market crowd, and you end up completely lost, standing in front of a strange furnace with spiked rotating cylinders. It looks like some sort of meat grinder. As you take a moment to reorient yourselves, you spot a few oddities in the market:
A line of tough looking individuals is forming to get into an area blocked by grey curtains. From behind, you can hear pained grunts and shouting. It seems like some sort of fight club.
A large felid is loudly trying to sell his goods to anyone who'll hear him, proclaiming their quality and freshness. His 'goods' take the form of a wooden rack with several dead stray cats hanging from it.
A tall, posh looking unicorn is haggling with a tiny little lump of a creature resembling a bipedal salamander. The item being sold appears to be a gigantic set of walking windup teeth.
"Hey! Excuse me! Miss!" The two of you are approached by a nervous looking earth pony wearing a large silver locket. He doesn't spare Norv much more than a glance, fixated on Zunden. "I can see you're into collecting jewelry and the like. How would you like to buy a magic locket?"
Entering the expanded shop, i pick up the pace as i peek through the items here.
"Lovely, this is quite the stock! We'll need some time to look through here but this looks promising."
"It's only 40 bits!" He shuffles from hoof to hoof anxiously.
I cock my eyebrow and step a little closer to Zunden. "Magic locket?"
"Well… I'm not particularly fashion-minded, but I'm sure she can help me pick out something good." Rabi says, with a bit of a chuckle.>>711221
"So! Lead the way? I'm sure you can find some good stuff."
"Guess there's not much need to hide it here," Aurora shrugs. The open display has a variety of items on sale, mostly consisting of magic staves, each one with its own unique design. They each seem dedicated to casting a single spell, and only a limited amount of times before they become useless.
>Each staff can be used a total of 5 times before losing their enchantment, after which they become a regular spellcasting catalyst.
>Choose a spell from the rulebook and assume there is a corresponding staff for it.
>1 point spells: 30 bits
>2 point spells/multiclass spells: 60 bits
>3 point spells: 90 bits
"Oh uh.." Zunden is flustered by the sudden confrontation, looking at the pony, then the locket.
"It'z not a colleczion I mean. What.. zort of magic?"
"Rabi, we really must coordinate on the bedroom, Dear. It's as much a space for me as you, you know!"
"How did you like the seating in Zunden's room? The floor pillows looked quite exotic, though we would need to find some wood stain for the walls, something brighter to let the light in."
He nods, holding up the locket for further inspection. It's kind of like a rectangle, but with tapered corners making it an octagonal shape. It seems to be made of silver. "Very rare. VERY valuable.">>711226
"The wildest magic you can imagine!" He sounds borderline manic. "It'll make your dreams come true! You can do anything with this thing! Just 30 bits and it's yours!" He wipes the sweat off his brow.
"That doesn't really answer what sort of magic it has."
Zunden backs up, shying behind Norvegicus a bit. She looks over the trinket, trying to get a surface level glance of what actual enchantments the thing may hold.
"And zhiz locket iz… yourz?"Roll #1 1 = 1
Aegis spends a minute or two appreciating the craftmanship of the staves on sale
''These are pretty good dont you think?'' She holds one particular staff up to Aurora ''I think I will take this one''>Taking Dream Wine Staff
I turn around, lean in and up a little, and whisper, "We probably shouldn't get distracted. Get too far off what we actually planned and we'll end up spending way more than we actually meant to. We should probably just go."
"I'm not a magician! But I can attest to its powers! It's done wonders for me!">>711230
You sense that it is indeed enchanted, but you can't tell how.
"It is!" he nods vigorously. "But it can pass on to you! Just 15 bits!">>711232>>711230
As he sees Norv whispering, he loses his shit. "ONE! JUST ONE BIT! I NEED THIS RIGHT NOW!!" A few heads start turning nearby at the commotion.
Rabi chuckles a little bit, before offering a smile "A-Alright, alright! I'll offer what I can… I think floor pillows'd be great. Maybe a couple sets of curtains, if you want light? Something sort of thin and light, and a pair of blackout curtains, too."
"If you needed money, you could have azked. Keep your charm, and here."
Zunden says, quickly counting out 10 bits and pushes it in the ponies hooves, pulling Norvegicus along.>>711232
"You're right you're right let'z juzt go. I don't like zhiz."
My ear twitches and I slowly turn my head. Just one bit? That's a little suspicious, but maybe- My train of thought is cut off as Zunden drags me behind her. Well, alright. Probably not a good idea. "Yeah, let's try and get back on track."
The staff reminds you of Zunden's, with intricate carvings that glow with a soft white light. It's not as large as hers, however, only about the length of your arm. More like an oversized conductor's baton than a walking staff. "Looks pretty," she nods, and picks out a similarly sized staff with a light green glow.
The two of you head over to Stafford. "Ah, thossse two, isss it? Excellent choice." Aurora pays her due without another word.
''Do you have anything else in your store besides staves for sale?'' She asks simply, handing over the bits as well
"Exactly! perhaps a table for drinks as well."
looking through the aisle, i start to pick through the sheeting.
"Lysander's thugs had really torn our poor room apart, we could use some more bedding.. What do you think? Finer things like silk? Or perhaps more durable? We'll certainly need a top cover as well, something bright."
"Wh-what? No! No! NOOOOO!…" He sinks to his knees and starts sobbing uncontrollably as you refuse to buy the locket, spilling your coins everywhere. Not letting them go to waste, they are almost immediately scavenged by a group of scrappy young urchins that seem to appear out of thin air.
Zunden looks back, shuddering. "I do not zhink I wanted zhat locket. Norv, could you pleaze take ze lead? Ze noize iz buzzing in my head and ze crowd iz zcaring me."
"Hrm… I'd say something more durable- a thicker one, and one that's a little lighter. But… I-I've never really used silk before, honestly. It might be pretty nice." he suggests, before humming a little in thought.
"Maybe some sort of chest, too? a dress-hanger could be nice, if something like that exists."
He counts out your coin. "A fine deal, I dare ssssay.">-30 bits
"It'sss all on the ssssign, my good lady. I have sssscrolls for sssale too, and a few choice magic itemsss I have sssscrounged - and, if you are more of the occult persssssssuasssssion, I can provide sssscrying, sssseances and even inssstructions on ssssummoning ssssssssssssigilsssssssss…"
Aurora looks like she's getting a bit annoyed by his constant hissing. "Do you do potions?" she pipes up. Stafford shakes his head. "I am no potionssssmith, but I do know of one at the market. A certain Carnifex is in town, apprentice to a powerful ssssage, from what I know. If it's potionsss you want, ssssssseek her."
I glance over my shoulder at him, feeling kind of bad. "Yeah, I don't think we did either. Do you think there was anything we could have done to help him, though?" I look up at her. "Sure. You alright?"
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
''Can you wait a minute for me to look around some more, Aurora? After this we can go searching for this Carnifex''
With that, Aegis resumed her browsing, looking for the non-staff items and some interesting scrolls
[1d10] passive perception, still letting norv navigate
"I zadly do not know how to break curzez. However, a prudent pony would zhink to find zomeone here zhat could fix zhat, it iz a razher large gazhering after all. I know Black Pudding iz here, he zeemz ze zort to know zhat zort of zhing. By ze way, would you mind me viziting wizh him later if I can find-"
Zunden stops herself as she says find, thumping a claw to her head, "Ze compazz, how could I be zo daft."
She reaches into the bag of holding and pulls out the compass of want.
"Alright, where iz ze clozezt craftzman in ze meet zhat could help wizh Norvegicuz' commizzion."Roll #1 10 = 10
"We really should, though i'm concerned we might be getting more than we could carry.. Perhaps a second trip for furniture."
"For now, could you find some wood stain in bronze? We'll need brushes as well. I'll find the sheeting and curtains and we'll take that for now.">>711215
With the picks planned, i move through the store finalizing my part of the choices:
- Curtains, two, white, one set for light, the other thicker (blackout curtains)
- floor cushions, red (4)
- sheets, two, white, one set light, the other thicker
- Quilt, Red, diamond pattern
"Oh, wow. Yeah. Why does that thing never cross my mind?"
"Oh! Two cans worth, if you can find it, there's quite a lot of room to paint!"
The compass leads you to a somewhat out of the way tent made of red cloth with gold trimming. You can hear a loom spinning within, alerting you to the presence of a tailor. As you enter, you find the interior quite busy; a handful of other customers are waiting about as a spiny, well-proportioned saurian bosses around her workers, which happen to be enormous spiders. Each spider is spinning a loom, or working a sewing machine, or tanning hide. It appears to be an all purpose craftsman's shop. The saurian, who resembles an iguana, looks over as you enter. "Buenas tardes!" she says warmly, greeting you in another language. "What can I do for you today?"
"Right! Better more than less." the stallion says, poking his head into a couple of aisles until he finds what looks
like something with paint and stain. He browses for a little while, before grabbing a couple of cans, and a few different types of brushes.
-Bronze Wood Stain (2x)
-Brushes, assorted (4x)
"Think we should grab some masking tape, too?"
"Yes, something to mark the area to paint would be lovely, though most of the painting should be done before we gather the furniture. Perhaps later today? At least the spots we've planned for the decor, to dry."
"Yeah, good thinking- so, hold off on the tape for now? Oh, speaking of furniture! What about a little Nightstand?"
The scrolls appear to be much like the staffs, but only usable once before crumbling to dust.>15/30/45 bits
He only has a handful of magic items apart from everything else on sale. These are as follows:
A strange item like the shell of a beetle, stark white and emitting some form of smoke. It resembles a whetstone.
An ornate shortsword with a slender blade. You recognize it as a tanto from your homeland. It has a faint blue glow to it.
An elaborately embroidered red carpet, unfurled and hovering idly in midair.
An exquisitely decorated grey and gold urn containing ashes. Of what you'd rather not know. You sense great power coming from the ashes.
"Hmm, better safe than sorry, go ahead and find some tape, dear."
"Now a nightstand, that seems like a lovely pick! Something to store our smaller things, and i believe we should have room for one, But after we've brought these things back and painted, we wouldn't want to make a mess."
With a tilt of her head, Aegis examined the items closely, showing some interest
''Excuse me, could you tell me more about these items, particularly this Tanto and this urn. Also, what is this curious flying carpet?''
Zunden looks interestedly at the spiders, chuckling and looking at Norv, "Well zhat'z ironic, conzidering your profezzion."
Zunden holds up a hand, greeting the saurian,
"Greetingz, we were zeeking a profizient craftzperzon and ze zearch haz led uz here. Tell me about your craft and your practizez, zhey're very.. interzting."
"Yeah, definitely!" the stallion says, picking out a couple of rolls of tape and setting them with the rest of his purchases.
"This is kind of fun, honestly. It's good to just have something be, well… calm. Err, not crazy. You know what I mean."
The ewe hobbles over to you as you pick out your choices. "Excellent taste, dearies. Just 90 bits fer all that."
I chuckle. "Yeah. Wonder what kind they are. I don't think I've ever seen them before." I let out a wistful sigh. "If this was the dominion I'd have a good chance of recognizing any vermin or pest I'd come in contact with, but everything here is different."
I turn to the Saurian. Here because we need some things crafted."
He slithers up to you, reminding you uncomfortably of Clawson for a moment. He takes the tanto delicately and holds it out for you to examine. You notice that the steel is interwoven with delicate swirling patterns. "A beautiful weapon, thissss. I traded it for some ssssstaves I carved. The enchantment allowsss it to harm even incorporeal creaturesssss, like ghossssts. I'll part with it for 60 bitsss."
"Asss for the urn… Well, they could go hand in hand, the urn and the knife. It isss haunted, you see, but a competent mage can evoke the sssspirit within to aid them in a fight. Be careful. The ssspirit is wrathful, and if you cannot control it… well, you may have to banish it yourself, if you can find a way. I would let you have it for 50 bitsss." Closer examination reveals a word written on the urn in your native tongue: Onryō
. You think you can hear baneful mutterings and whispers coming from within the urn. Aurora looks very unsettled.
"Asss for the carpet… well, it is what you ssssee. A flying carpet. It will carry itsss owner wherever they command, and can hold an enormousss amount of weight. Extremely valuable for transportation. No lessss than 100 for it."
"Really? My, that's quite reasonable for the sets here."
hoofing over the bits, i try my best to keep the items folded as i bring them over to Rabi.>>711278
"Goodness! We really should have.. invested in some saddlebags." i mutter, being careful not to fall over.
Rabi chuckles a little, and gives Silver a friendly nudge. "Go ahead and fold it up and stack it on to my back- that should work for now, yeah?"
Aegis squints upon seeing the familiar word carved on the urn
''If you allow me another question. Where, or from who exactly have you gotten these two items from, the urn and the Tanto''
"Well you've come to the right place. My name is Yolanda, and this is my emporium. My workers and I are some of the finest weavers in the Echoes. If it's clothes or light armor you're after, you won't find a better place," she says confidently. One of the spiders seems to catch her eye, and her disposition suddenly sours, bustling over and berating the arachnid, who stands there passively. "Oye weon! Que wea es esa?! Pa que te pago si no vas a hacerlo bien! Imbecil!"
She bustles back to you, clutching her dress. "Er… sorry about that. My workers, they are very lazy sometimes. My instructions go in one ear and out the other! Haha… So. What can we do for you?"
"Well.. alright then, Dear. Do tell me if things get too heavy, i can split the stack, you know."
i reply, giving you a pack on the muzzle as i slip the bundle onto your back.
You hand the coin to the ewe, who tucks it into her shaggy wool coat, vanishing out of existence. "A fine deal. Come again if ye need anything more!"
You struggle to carry all the equipment back to the ship, dropping it on more than one occasion, but you steadily return. You find Violet talking to Clawson down in the brig, but as she hears you arrive she cuts the conversation off, poking her head out with her kukri at the ready. She relaxes as she sees you. "Phew. Thought you were more of Lysander's goons or something. What'd you get?"
"Asssk away, dear customer, asssk away."
"There was a traveler that came through here only yesssterday. He seemed to be an Easssterner, like yourself. He didn't have much money, but he bought a few ssstaffs and scrolls in exchange for thessssse. He sssseemed… happy to be rid of them." He shrugs. "I just ssssell things. I don't asssk questionsss."
''Hm. Very well then, thank you for your insight, and for the staves. Before we go, do you know where we can find Carnifex?''
"Well I know what Norv here wantz, and I waz zhinking of maybe a warm fuzzy hat to match wizh zhiz warm zet of clozhing I bought rezently but…"
Zunden sighs, tapping her chin,
"I've been zhinking of a cazual zet of clozhez I can wear into town zhat doezn't out me az a wanderer. Do you have any zuggeztionz for a zaurian az myzelf?"
"Hey! For now, we just got some wood stain, curtains, and bedspread- not a whole lot for now. We're going to go back and get the furniture later!" he says, gesturing to the stuff on his back.
"Ah, Hello Violet. We managed to bring back quite the selection of bedding for the room. Lysander had our room thrashed soundly and we were in need of a new set."
"How are you holding up with out Guest? We were planning on dropping our bedding off before searching for the armor stall, though if you'd like one of us could stand watch."
"Carnifex? She'ssss not far from here. You won't be able to missss her houssse if you tried. It's the hut on legsss. Just keep heading down thisss way and you'll come acrosss it." He points further down the street.
Aurora speaks up. "Er, this is just something I wanted to catch up on. You don't have to come along if you don't want to. You can go your own way if you like."
Aegis nods and makes her way down the street
''No, I'd be happy to come along. I have some minor interest in potions and alchemy as well, and we are better off together in this chaotic event, plus I am in no rush to go anywhere''
She walks around to take a look at your haul. "Very pretty," she nods with a smile. "You have good taste! I was thinking of doing some decorating myself, but I don't really have much of an eye for it.">>711303
"Oh he's locked away safe and sound. He's not going anywhere. He seems to know something about Lysander, but he's acting coy." She rolls her eyes.
"Oh no, you go on ahead, don't worry about me. I'll stay here. You go enjoy yourselves!"
"Yeah. I was wondering if you did any kind of enchantment stuff or anything too? I'm looking for some kind of mask, preferably something that can protect against gas. Maybe with some kind of filter or something?" I stand up a little straighter as I remember something. "Oh, and maybe some kind of, like, long leather coat of some kind."
"Aw, thank you! I'd be happy to help you pick something out, once everypony is back to change watch."
"As for now, if you're quite sure about staying, i suppose we'll make out way back in.." i reply, setting down my part of the items in our bedroom.
"Well, I'm sure we could help you out a little- at the least, tell you where we got the stuff we had?"
"Well… okay then. If you're happy I'm happy."
You start heading back through the bustling crowd, narrowly avoiding a pompous looking Saddle Arabian riding an elephant. Eventually, you get to the place Stafford mentioned, a ramshackle looking hut propped up on what look like huge hairy spider legs. The other market-goers seem to be giving it a wide berth. You remember having seen an illustration of it in the guidebook.
As you approach the walking hut, it lowers to the ground, and before long, the door opens on its own and a svelte griffon with orange markings and black quill-like feathers emerges. "Good morrow, drifters," she says to you both. "What seekest thee? Potions? Ingredients? Or audience with my master?" Aurora seems too intimidated to say anything all of a sudden.
Aegis waited for Aurora to reply, but seeing as she was not doing that, the crystal mare decided to step up ''Potions, and perhaps some ingredients as well, my friend here was interested and I am too, to some extend. Please show us what you have to offer''
"Well, one lizard to another, it's a bit hard not to stand out sometimes," she shrugs. "That said, we could make you some nice, simple clothes. Something to tuck all those baubles under, yes?" She looks you over, tapping her lip with a long claw as she paces around you. "I'm thinking a tunic, maybe with some padding underneath. Maybe with a nice hood in case of bad weather. Which there's plenty of here! …A nice creamy color would suit you, I feel. Something simple, but that still says you
. What do you think of that?>>711313
"Enchantment isn't normally my area, but I can try something like that. It'd help if you have something similar so I can copy the enchantment over. What sort of design would you like? Er, just a moment, I have a few designs for drifters like yourself…" She bustles to a nearby drawer and pulls out a notebook, flipping through a few designs for you. Many of them are meant to have an intimidation factor, shaped like bird beaks or skulls. "Any of these strike your fancy?"
"As for the coat… Pff. Child's play. Let me just… Oye! Morales!"
She calls one of the spiders over, who scuttles over holding a measuring tape in its mandibles before returning to work. She starts taking your measurements. "Something very esquivo
for you, I feel. Classy, but also practical. Many pockets, maybe with some leather lining for extra protection… Yes, we can do this. In brown, no?"
"Oh, I'd like that," she nods enthusiastically. "I'm not much for shopping, I prefer to leave that to the experts." She gives you a big grin.>>711316
"Sure! I'm all ears! Though, all I really want is to gather info, and a new weapon. This kukri doesn't do much for me. Maybe a change of clothes too. And, hmmm… there was something Norv wanted me to try as well…"
"I was thinking something skull like. Or maybe kind of elongated and rodent-like." I dig around in my bag and pull out the cloth mask BP gave me. "I think something like this should work for filtering the air. And yeah. That sounds perfect "
"I love my zandy colorz, yez…" Zunden nods, agreeing with the saurian. "A long one, yez? Open front, maybe able to tie it… I'm not zure about ze hood zhough. I do like hoodz, but attached to ze tunic? What about a cowl?"
She gasps as she remembers something she was thinking of earlier, "Oh oh, and anozher zhing while I am here. You are familiar wizh ze lightz in ze zky known az ze Aurora?"
Carnifex nods slowly. "Then, enter. My supply of potions is dwindling, so if thou hast any unique ingredients I may use, pray, bring them to us."
You soon see who she means by 'us'; an enormous dark purple goo pony with mismatched eyes and a wide brimmed hat is inside, poring over a long withered scroll that reaches all the way to the ground. You have no doubt this is the notorious Black Pudding you've heard of. He gives you an intense glare as you enter, as if he senses something, but occupies himself with his own work for now.
The interior of the house must have some sort of enchantment, as it is much bigger than it seems; it is as if everywhere you look there is some nasty item or another. Among them are skulls, jars of eyes, vials of unknown fluids, flower pots with swaying tentacles, a bubbling vat containing what is almost certainly a half formed homunculus, a mummified hand grasping a melted candle, and many other things besides. You are reminded of the wretched old Dog you traded with before. It is also extremely cluttered, despite its size; clearly Black Pudding isn't one for order.
Carnifex has no problem with picking her way through the messy shop, and directs your attention towards a shelf full of potions of different shapes and sizes. "As I said, my supplies have been low of late. But I am certain thou shalt find aught of use. Pray, take a look."
>drinking a potion is automatic
>all effects last until the end of combat unless noted otherwise
>all potions cost 75 bits each
>Dreadrum - -2 crit range
>Fetching Fizz - +2 to recovery rolls
>Werewhiskey - guaranteed autocrits on attack rolls when at 2 wounds or lower
>Magus' Gimlet - user gains access to any spell skill they wish
>Ashbrandy - the next two attacks that would send you helpless leave you at 1 hit remaining instead
>Catspaw Mead - User is highly resistant to fall damage for 1 hour
>Leech Stout - Heal for 3 hits whenever you roll an 8 or higher against an enemy
>Whale Ale - Makes you incredibly strong (lasts for 1 hour in-game)
>Doomshine - take 4 hits on use, but gain autocrits on all rolls for 2 rounds
"We were actually headed to grab a couple of things like that ourselves- there's a bird store that sells information, too. I'd say head there first."
"A rodent, eh?" She nods. "I think I can do that, yes." As you show her the cloth mask, she passes it over in her hands. "Hmm… yes, perfect. Just what I needed.">>711333
"I can make it have a cowl, yes. Or, wait! How about one of these?" She shows you a sketch she's made of a sort of poncho with a cowl attached.
"Aurora Borealis, yes? And Aurora Australis? I know them, yes. I don't think they exist here, only back home. Porque?"
Aegis gave Black Pudding only a brief glance before directing her attention back to Carnifex and the potions on display
''Its interesting. Have you found anything for you, Aurora?'' she asks before turning back to the secretary gryphon
''What kind of ingredients do you need? If you are offering some kind of compensation for bringing them I could consider helping. But then, why dont you simply buy them in the many markets here at the Swap Meet?''
"Oh, alright. Neat. Do you know how much it'd be, or want to know what I'd have to trade or something?"
"Yes, the merchant there is quite helpful, though he seems more inclined to sell birds than information.. In any case, he should know more about the meet."
"Once we set our things down, we should have time to search for that armor stall for you, right dear?"
"Thanks! I'll do that as soon as everyone reconvenes, actually. I want to ask around about Lysander. I get the feeling he's been up to no good. For now though, I'll stay here while you look around. Not in a rush after all, we have all week."
She nods. "I think I'll take a Gimlet. And a bottle of rum too." "Of course," Carnifex nods, and produces the potions. Aurora seems a bit overwhelmed by the shop, and by Carnifex's intimidating height, but hands over the coin in exchange.
"I am always on the hunt for new ingredients to alchemize," she answers. "We only arrived earlier today, and thus have not had the opportunity to acquire much of yet. Ingredients can be anything coming from the natural world. Even as simple as a lock of hair."
"We prefer coin, but we're open to trade as well. For the mask and the coat, that'd be… hmmm… 125 bits," she answers. "If you've got anything worth trading though, I'd be happy to see the goods. We could have it done by this time tomorrow."
''I see. Well if I find a natural ingredient with interesting properties, I will know where to bring them
''There is one more thing I would like to talk about, if you have me. That being, he is the so-called Black Pudding, correct? I was told he is savyy in the area of magic, is that true?''
"Thoze little frilly ztring zhingz on ze end are kinda nize, zure." Zunden says excitedly, "Hmm… I fear it iz a little too cloze to an outfit I already own zhough. Maybe more paztel? Or grey?"
Zunden nods, "Yez, I've only heard of zhem, but by ze way zey were dezcribed wizh zheir colorz I wanted to get a gift for a friend. Zhe zharez ze zame name az ze phenomenon, and I wanted to get her a zcarf patterned in ze zame colorz az an Aurora. Pleaze tell me you're familiar wizh what zhey look like, zhe'z zuch a dear friend."
I think for a second. "H'm. 125 bits sounds fine. All I can think of that I have to trade right now is a fighting spider. I guess they're kinda rare but I can't imagine why you'd want one."
"Hmm? Right, yeah! Should we take care of the wood staining later today? I don't really know how much work that takes, is all." he asks, shrugging a little bit.>>711350
"Cool. They're just inside the little… dome-thing. Can't miss it."
"Hmm, Violet did raise a good point, perhaps it would be easier to take care of the staining now and gather furniture tomorrow.. or perhaps we could split up, i could start painting while you search the meet."
"I am," he answers. He has a deep, resonant voice. Carnifex gives him a wide berth as he moves towards you, looming over you ominously. "What dost thou want?" His gaze lingers on your pocket, where you have the grimoire you purchased before.
"I can make it in whatever color you want," she says confidently.
She smiles. "Ay, que dulce.
I think I could make something like that, sure."
"So, the scarf, and the outfit together, that would be about 150 bits. Can be delivered tomorrow. Unless you're looking to trade some of those trinkets of yours?">>711358
She chuckles. "Arañas
… I have plenty of those to spare, love. I suppose money will have to do, then." She touches her chin for a moment. "If you're looking to sell that, I know there's a brewmaster in the Meet somewhere. Carnifex, her name is. She's looking for ingredients. Might be she can make something good with it. Eh?"
"W-well, if you're okay with it, would you be able to go do that while I take a look around the markets? I won't keep you long! I just want to get my bearings is all." She looks at you eagerly.
"Only if you want to, Silver- I wouldn't mind hanging around with you here for a while." he suggests, offering a smile. "But, it might be a tad easier, yeah."
"Oh, hey. I know someone who works with potions named Carnifex. Guess I'm not surprised she's here. I'll have to look for her later. And yeah. Sounds good to me. Tomorrow then?"
"That would work out quite well, in theory. We could take turns watching Clawson while one of us works on the room. Violet could take care of her shopping as well, were we to stay to furnish the room."
Aegis nods, seemingly not intimidated by the large goo pony ''I am a fellow scholar of the arts. I have heard a lot about you, Black Pudding, and I have only been in this realm for two days. No doubt you are among the legends of this place, so I sought you out in search of partaking in what you know. Knowledge, books, scrolls, anyhing'' Aegis performs a respectable bow ''If it is from you then it must be valuable for one such as I, and I can prove my worth and show I am deserving of such gifts''
"I do not care for how my own outfit turnz out az long az ze zcarf iz long and of great quality. Zhe meanz a lot to me, zo any amount of bitz I have to pay iz fine. Do you need zhat money now?">>711369
"Oh, zhen we can bozh head zhere az well. I have a queztion for Pudding, you have zomezhing to do wizh Carnifex. I'm glad you came wizh me Norvegicuz."
"Alright, sure. I'll be back as quick as I can, alright?" he says, leaning down to give Silver a soft kiss. He'll turn back and head on out of the ship afterwards, giving Silver a friendly wave.
"Hah, yeah. Looks like our goals kinda lined up. I wanted to try looking into instrunments too some time, but that can wait."
"Tomorrow," she nods, and starts making plans and bossing about her spiders again.>>711372
"Oh, you can pay tomorrow when you pick it up, but if you want to pay now you can.
He eyeballs you. You notice that he has one deep blue eye and one purple eye; the latter is the same hue as Violet's. "Art thou proposing to become my apprentice?" he asks. "Hraah. I already have one. I do not need another. What couldst thou offer me?" You sense the question is rhetorical, as he seems to sense the power coming from the black book.
''I'm afraid that was the case, still, your teachings could prove to be valuable, and I would be honored to see what you could teach me''
She raises her head and retrieves the huge book from her bag
''That said, I noticed you had interest in this, am I right. You must know what it is then, or at least the power it holds''
"I'll be back as soon as I can then!" says Violet.>>711373
Violet accompanies you happily through the barrier and to the Swap Meet. "Thanks for letting me get out of there!" she says cheerfully. "Was hoping I'd get a chance to explore a bit today!"
As you cross the barrier, she takes a moment to adjust to the general madness of the Meet. "Oh wow. I mean, it was like this last time I was at a Meet, but you never really get used to it, you know?" She ogles a set of zebras on stilts passing by before heading towards Old Bailey's shop to get her information, but then pauses and looks back at you. "Er, you want to stick together on this one?" she asks. "Or should we split up?"
"And I needed new ztringz! Again, I'm glad you're coming along wizh me. Much better traveling ze noizy bazaar wizh a friend, and I couldn't go wizh Aurora due to ze gift and all.">>711375
Zunden takes 25 bits out of a full bit sack and puts them in her bag of holding, handing the remaining 75 to the saurian.
"I'll give half now, and half later. I figure zhat iz fair enough."
"I think we've got a couple things in common we're looking for, so no sense in splitting up straight away, right?" he suggests, checking his saddlebags' straps and smiling.
"I'll just pay for the whole thing when we pick it up. So where to next? Gonna go track down Carnifex?"
"I cannot simply take another pupil," he scoffs. "It would be folly to take just anyone who seeks my knowledge under my protection."
"However… this book. Unless mine eyes deceive me, thou has acquired a most wondrous grimoire. Dost thou realize the value it has?" he asks. Carnifex looks over, her eyes gleaming. Aurora looks like she'd rather be anywhere else. "What dost thou want in exchange for this artifact?" He produces a pseudopod, reaching out for it.
Yolanda nods. "Fair enough," she parrots, and tucks them into her dress.>>711379>>711381
"Remember! This time tomorrow! Eh? In fact, try and come earlier if you can! It might be busy!"
''Then I could prove to be a better pupil, but I wont go out of my way to deny it from someone else, I'm sure Carnifex does what she must to deserve to be under your wing''
Aegis pulled the book back and safely stored it on her bag again
''No I dont, at least not yet, that is why I was planning to bring it back and carefully study it myself, to truly understand its value and power. This was a rare find and I am lucky to have it. You already know what I want, so the question is, what are you willing to offer for it''
"I want to vizit a blackzmith next if we can. If we're going to be here multiple dayz, it'z bezt we vizit everywhere zhat'z going to take multiple dayz to complete zomezhing.">>711383
Zunden holds up her hand as she leaves, waving to the saurian,
"Yez ma'am," She says, before grinning, "May ze ztringz of Fate bring you great fortune."
"Right! What were you interested in getting again? Armor, right? I'm in the market for something new myself. This old thing's losing its pizzazz." She gestures at the hooded leather coat she's been wearing since day 1. "Er, was there anything you wanted to know from here?" She gestures at the bird shop. "If not I'll just be a minute and then we can go see what you wanted. How about it?"
"Yeah, I don't need much information from here- I already found out where a few thins are. And I'm grabbing a few things, actually- I figure some books on magic, and maybe a sword or something on the side, just in case. I won't mind waiting, so take your time with the questions." he says, offering a friendly smile.
"Works for me. I don't think I really need anything from a smith but I'm also not about to split up in this chaos. Who knows. Maybe I'll think of something or see something I like."
"Juzt for Violet'z gift, zhen we can go inztrument zhopping."
Zunden points the compass towards the nearest smith that could reforge Violet's weapon.
Carnifex hisses quietly, looking taken aback. Black Pudding arches an eyebrow. "Thou wouldst attempt to replace Carnifex? How very forward of thee. Of course, this can never happen. I would not replace my assistant for anyone. Forget this, drifter."
"We would grant thee safe passage through my home of Durenwol Fen," he replies, "whenever thou passeth through it. As well as… a boon. Name thy price, newcomer, and I shall meet it. Nothing is beneath me."
"Alright! Be right back then!" She leaves you to wait for a bit and people-watch for a few minutes. You idly observe a band playing nearby on a stage, fronted by a zebra on saxophone. They are playing upbeat funky jazz music.
Eventually, Violet emerges, her mood dampened considerably. "Well… that's about I expected to hear," she says. "I'll… I'll tell you about it later. When we're all together back on the ship. Let's… let's just keep moving."
''I know of that place. Your dominion, yes, this is a good offer''
She shoots Carnifex an uninterested glance
''Nothing? How about escaping the Echoes?''
"Alright, Vi- you look pretty down, though. If you need it, we could head back now and talk about it first." He offers, setting a hoof on her shoulder.
I nod. "Sounds good.">>711394
"Oh. Hey. It's Hadrian. Yeah, I'm glad I didn't die too. The sprayer is even better than I expected, by the way. Worth every bit."
There is a pregnant pause; then, Black Pudding's face contorts into what you assume is a smile. "Hraahahaa. A curious sort, thou'rt." He oozes closer. "We have heard… mutterings. Nothing more. But we may set thee on the right road, perhaps, in exchange for the book. We have no interest in freedom, but if it is freedom thou seekest, we may be able to trade. Whispers for whispers."
"It's… something we should talk about as a group," she answers. She looks a little shaken, but seems to appreciate the gesture. "So, where to first? Weapons or armor?"
"I want aswers, not whispers or mutterings. This book is worth more than a possibility of finding a way out. If you don't have the insight I seek on this matter, Black Pudding, then I think I'll have better chances trying my luck with the demons themselves" Aegis responds without a hint of aggression
He gives the mare a soft, one-armed hug, and nods. "Gotcha. As for the weapons and armor… I think it's this way." he says, gesturing in the place the bird seller's tips had directed him. He
"Oh, zhiz iz ze zmizh zhat made your zprayer? A pleazure to meet you. Zhat would mean you are from Braildorn zhen. I wizh we could've ztayed longer. Perhapz one day we might be able to vizit again."
Zunden rummages in her bag of holding, "However, I come needing help reforging a friend of mine'z weapon az a gift, preferably ztronger zhan it waz before. Zhe'z been a ztalwart friend for me and quite a bit more for my companion here. I waz hoping to give her a weapon az fierze az her rezolve."
She pulls the blade out, showing it to the mycosmith, "Originally it waz zome blend between a zword and a zpear, and I was hoping to keep it az zome zort of polearm. Ztill, it would need to be an improvement from it'z original ztate. Zhe dezervez it."
His slightly amused expression vanishes, replaced with a fierce scowl. "Thou comest into my home, insult my apprentice, then hagglest for a priceless artifact. Vacuous shrew. Thou knowest not what thou hast wrought." His body billows like a cloak, and he draws himself up to his full height, towering over both you and Aurora. The latter cowers. "Were it not for the restrictions of this gathering, Easterner, we would have destroyed thee for less." Carnifex steps to his side, giving you both an ominous glare. "Thou art no longer welcome here," says Black Pudding. "Leave," says Carnifex, "or we shall remove thee." The lights seem to dim, and the two approach threateningly. Your head feels light.
There is a slight shift in Aegis's expression, but she is quick to correct it
Somehow maintaining her composure, Aegis wordlessly turns to leave on a quick pace
She flinches a little as you hug her, but doesn't pull away, giving you a warm smile. "Alright, lead the way!"
As you move through the Swap Meet, you eventually come across a weapons vendor, an old browbeaten donkey with an eyepatch and a full white beard. He folds his arms as you approach. "Gudday," he grunts. "In the market for some weapons, are ya? Got all sorts here. Swords, maces, flails, spears, you name it." Violet lightens up a little, perusing his wares idly. "Anythin' you're after in particular?" he asks you.
"Mhm. Glad to hear it." He doesn't sound too enthused, but that's probably just his way of being. "So, what do you need this time?">>711400
He nods. "Maybe. Heard about the ruckus you all cause. Half the town was abuzz that night. …Good work," he grunts.
He takes the broken blade and examines it. "This is my handiwork," he comments, pointing out a tiny letter H engraved in the side of the blade. "Shame it broke." He listens as you tell him what you want for it. "…I see. …I can do that. But I need more details. What exactly do you want me to make?"
Aurora is all too happy to fall in line, practically scrambling out of the shack. The door closes behind you with a slam, and everyone makes way as the strange spider-hut starts walking off, leaving you alone. As soon as you are outside, you feel much more lucid all of a sudden, as if a great burden had been lifted from your shoulders. "…Well, that went well," says Aurora with a weak smile. You see that she is trembling a little in fear, but she tries to calm her nerves. "Guess we're not going back there. Might be better if you lead the way, huh."
I fold my hands in front of me and take a step back. It always feels weird talking to folks like him. "Right. Well, I'm really just here with her for now, but if I think of anything you can bet I'll be back."
"I'm just looking for something light, and easy to use- maybe some sort of sword, maybe?" he asks, before looking to Violet curiously. "What do you want?"
Zunden's brows raise as Hadrian mentions the weapon being made by him.
"Oh, well I zuppoze it'z fate zhat brought it back to you. It broke zlaying ze Beaztz of Braildorn, you know. I had to fetch it out of ze zewer water becauze I zhought it'd be a zhame to go to wazte."
Zunden rubs her chin, looking over the blade, "I don't really want it altered or melted down. It'z not ze metal it'z made out of zhat'z the important part, it'z ze zhape of ze zhing. I'd be fitted back on a pole, zo… no, I'm not zure zhe'd like it az a halberd. Maybe you could cazt a zizter for ze blade, and put it on ze ozher end? A double bladed glaive would zhe could zpin would be daunting."
''Indeed. I never intended to offend them, but it seems they took my words in a different way than I wanted. I apologize, my actions might have banned you from their store as well, this is not what I desired at all'' Aegis gives a deep bow to the Bat mare
''Perhaps we can come back tomorrow and I will offer my apologies to soften their mood, and at least allow you audience with them again''
"Oh, nothing in particular," she shrugs. "I'd like a spear of some sort, but, well, nothing really gets my attention here. Sorry," she says to the donkey. He just shrugs. "'S okay. Plenty of other customers out there."
The donkey eyes the weapons you're carrying with a bemused expression. "Looks ta me like you've already got quite the arsenal," he says with a chuckle. "But, I might have something you'll like… Just a mo'…" He starts rifling through a rack of shortswords and daggers before finding what he's looking for; a long, straight-bladed dirk with a firm black handle, made more for thrusting than for cutting. "I reckon something like this would fit nicely on the end of that rifle of yours," he muses. "You could get a blacksmith to make it detachable. Like a bayonet! How's about it? Only 25 bits."
"Mhm." He just gives you an emotionless, Aegis-tier stare before turning his attention to Zunden.>>711409
He nods. "Went out with a bang, then. It was the talk of the town when you slew those monsters. Shame things went the way they did afterwards."
He thinks for a moment, then lumbers off, coming back with several heavy iron weapon molds. He starts rifling through them like they're tin cans, testing the size of the broken blade against the mold, until at last he finds one in the right size. "Perfect," he says. "I can make a double glaive. I'll beat this thing back into shape, make a cast… yes, this'll work. It won't be cheap though, and I do have other commissions I need to get through. I can have it done by tomorrow, but it'll cost you. 200 bits."
Rabi shrugs a little bit, and says "It just sort of ended up happening, I guess. Though, I'm not so good up close- something like… hmm…" he thinks it over a little, and smiles as she brings the bayonet out "Yeah! Something like that, actually. I'll take it!"
"You haven't even opened it yet and that book's already bringing us misery," she muses with a dry smirk. "Ah well. At least it's over now. You can apologize to them if you want, but I don't think I'll be going back. Those two disturb me.
"So, where to next? Anything else you want to have a look around for? I don't know about you but I'm getting kind of hungry…"
"Wonderful." The old donkey beams as he passes you the dirk in exchange for the bits.>Flatlander's Dirk>single, -1 crit range>A well-balanced blade typical of the Capricon Flatlanders of the north eastern Dominion. Intended as a side arm in combat, this weapon is simple but quite effective.
Now I won't be able to help ya with turning it into a bayonet," he says apologetically. "I'm an armorer, but I'm not a smith at all. I know there are some around here though, but I'm not sure where…"
Zunden looks over to Norv for confirmation, but nodding,
"Your handiwork haz zaved uz multiple timez, even rezently. I'd truzt ze money I made today in remaking zhiz weapon."
Zunden turns back to Norv, "Let me prezent zhiz to Violet when you give her ze helmet pleaze. I zhink it'd be nize."
''That was not the book's fault'' She assures firmly
''Next I wanted to find other books, the usual magic kind. We can pause for food. Would you like to return to the ship or would you rather try to find somewhere here where we can eat?''
"I was… joking," she says, giving you an odd look.
"I'd like some books as well, actually. Do you like to read? I don't get the chance to much, so I'd like to pick up something to read in my spare time…"
"Oh, I'm sure we could find a place to get food here. I saw a lot of street vendors before. Though… it might be better to go back to the ship and check up on everyone. What do you think? I can go either way."
''I love reading'' Aegis says, stone-faced
''I'm certain they are fine, but yes, we could spare some time to return. The Meet isnt going anywhere for now''
Aurora blinks. "H-hey, me too!" There's a bit of an awkward silence afterwards as she doesn't elaborate.
"Well, alright, let's go drop off our gear then."
You pick your way through the dense crowd and return to the ship. It doesn't seem like anyone else is here at the moment, apart from Silver.
I shrug. "Cheaper than mine was. The sprayer was 400 bits. Probably because of how specialized it was."
Zunden takes two bags of the morning's earnings and hands them over the fungi, paying in full.
"Zen it iz zettled. I'll return in by tommorow, but ideally we zhould be here ze whole meet zhould you need longer."
"It was expensive because it was difficult," the mushroom affirms. "It's not my usual commission type. But it was a good challenge.">>711727>>711729
Hadrian counts out the coin and nods satisfiedly. "I'll push it to the top of my commission priorities. Just for you. You did right by my hometown. You all did." You assume that's his way of saying thanks, as he immediately gets to it, pouring out a cast of molten metal with the one he picked out. "Tomorrow," he reaffirms as he starts to work.
Zunden nods to the mushroom in thanks, figuring he's not the type for many words. She turns to Norv, "Zo, zhat'z ze giftz I wanted to buy, everyzhing now iz perzonal for ze group. Zhall we look for inztrumentz now?"
"Sounds good to me." I turn to Hadrian. "I'll see you," I awkwardly give him two fingerguns. "Tomorrow." Before making the atmosphere any more uncomfortable -I'm really starting to think it's just me- I start walking in a random direction.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Zunden follows along, but has the compass ready incase they get desperately lost again.
"Why do you do that?" he asks completely sincerely, but doesn't seem to expect an answer. "What does that mean?">>711739>>711740
Norv leads the way this time, entering the hustle and bustle of the Swap Meet, passing a variety of oddities on your way: a small elevated area where a pompously dressed earth pony seems to be holding a slave market; a shifty Dog selling little clay circles with strange symbols etched on each (Zunden senses no magic to them at all); a hunchbacked felid selling what are either old hats or pieces of modern art; a striking hippogriff in a red wooden mask, offering all sorts of different types of masks herself, which she seems to have carved; a rather unstable looking griffon trying to push rleigious pamphlets on passers-by; and many other things besides.
After a bit of wandering, you hear the sounds of practicing instruments nearby. Following your ears, you push past a curtained off area and come across a variety of musicians tuning their instruments and chatting idly. Among them are a blue earth pony with a mandolin, a little black and white Dog with an accordion, an older, venerable looking brown goat with a wheel fiddle, a green stoutly built pegasus with a tuba, and a bat pony packing up a drum kit. They seem to be part of a traveling troupe, judging from their similar outfits. They look at you oddly as you enter, but many of them don't pay you much attention. The wheel fiddle goat greets you with a nod. "You're not one of us, are you?" she asks curiously. "What brings you here?"
Zunden looks over to Norvegicus, letting him lead this one.
I step forward and clear my throat. "We were just looking for someone maybe selling instrunments and instrunment accessories. My friend is looking for lute strings, but I kind of just want to browse for something. This the right area?"
She glances over her shoulder at the accordion Dog, calling out something in some language you don't know. He looks over to her, then to you, then nods and replies to her with a shrug. "It is, yes." She puts down the fiddle and leads you to a corner, where they have several instruments in varying states of disrepair, coming from all different musical families; string, woodwind, brass, percussion, and other miscellaneous types are all stored neatly here, as well as spare parts for each. In the corner, a felid in goggles is intricately carving what looks like a cello. "We have a lot of stock built up from over the years," she explains as the felid spares you a glance. "We're the Luthiers. Maybe you've heard of us? In any case, take your time. We have plenty of spares to go around."
I browse the various instrunments, idly rubbing my chin in thought. "H'm. I'm not positive exactly what I want, honestly. Something jazzy or swingy. I was thinking maybe a sax or a trumpet." I glance at Zunden without turning away from the instruments. "What do you think?"
Zunden looks for what she thinks might be lute strings, comparing their thickness to that of own lute, looking sheepishly
to the goat as she approaches her with a question. "I am learning to play ze lute myzelf, and I frayed one of ze ztringz wizh my clawz playing it. I am not exzactly zure how to… reztring it. Could I azk for zome azzitanze?">>711762
"I have not heard much of ze metal inztrumentz, mozt of ze inztrumentz I knew grewing up were carved of bone or wood, az it waz what we had around. I guezz it dependz on if you want to take ze inztrument wizh you az we leave ze Fortune, or take zomezhing larger and keep it on zhere."
"I'm sure we can find our way there. Thank you, friend." he says, offering a bow. He looks over to Violet, and asks "So, you were looking for armor? Want to look for some before we head out?"
"Hmmm…" The Luthier rifles through the different instruments until she finds a saxophone. It looks a bit weathered with a few dings here and there, but quite usable. She frowns and looks around for another, but it's the only one about. "This old thing look good to you? I'll sell it for only 50 bits. You know how to play, by the way? I can throw in a manual for about 10 if not.">>711763
She looks at your claws, arching an eyebrow. "More common than you think, especially among your kind. Meaning no offense. She looks through a crate until she finds a set of spare lute strings in a neat little packet. "Here you go. Three sets of each string for a lute your size. 20 bits."
"Oh, restringing is easy. Two steps to it." She picks up a nearby guitar to demonstrate, destringing it with two swift motions. "First, you have to fit the narrow end of the string through the hole in the pegs up top." She points it out and proceeds to do so. "Then, the little round part at the other end of the string, you have to hook it on right above the fine tuners. Getting it in tune is a matter of practice, but if you know the right notes you should eventually get it by ear. Hope that helps!"
"H'm. No, never actually played before. I think I'll take both the sax and the manual. Do I need to buy any extra reeds or lube or anything, or should this be fine on its own?"
"Zo zhat iz what zhoze zhingz do." Zunden says, looking at the tuning pegs in a new light, "I do not jezt when I zay I am only juzt learning, everyzhing I've learned zo far haz been from ear and meditation, ze life of travel iz one zhat doez not afford me time to find a teacher, and I am not ze bezt at reading…" Zunden says, trailing off as she blushes slightly. "Do you recommend one of zhoze little pick zhingz zhen? I have yet to uze one, I figured ze nailz of my clawz were cloze enough, but if it'z going to damage ze inztrument…"
"Oh, I'm just dragging you around doing things for myself, aren't I." She tosses her braid back and smiles sheepishly. "We can if you want, but if there's anything you'd rather do I'm happy to follow!"
Nevertheless, the two of you set off through the crowd, narrowly avoiding a tiny horde of changelings that stampede through the barrier at the entrance, whooping and cheering. In the sudden rush of activity, you get completely turned around, and end up in a part of the market dedicated almost entirely to different foods. You can see vendors selling everything from exotic curries to street noodles to carts full of fruit and veg to baked goods (and baked bads). Behind all this is what looks like some sort of small open pagoda. Violet looks around curiously. "Huh. This isn't what I was looking to find at all. …You hungry, by any chance? I'll pay if you want to grab a bite. It's on me!"
"I think we have some, but honestly the reed should hold as long as you're careful with it. Tell you what though, I'll throw in a pack of spares if they do break. Just 5 bits. How's about it?">>711769
She raises an eyebrow. "I see. So you're self taught then? Nothing wrong with that I guess. Not everyone has to dedicated 100% to the art." She shuffles about and finds a small, thin triangular pick. "Here, take your pick," she smiles. "No charge. Courtesy of the Luthiers."
"Yeah, should probably grab those, especially since I'm just starting out. There's no way I won't accidentally crack it. So that's 65 bits, then?"
Zunden takes twenty of the leftover bits her previously split sacks and gives to the goat, smiling, "Well zhank you, I've had zuch a deep appreziation for muzic ever zinze I waz young, zo I have deep rezpectz for what you do. Will you be preforming at zome point during ze Meet?"
"Hmm? I don't mind at all, Violet- you're just as important as any of us are, so take the time you need." He offers.
After she's done looking through the weapons and armor, he looks around the Swap Meet with a look of slightly overwhelmed confusion. He shakes his head a little and looks down to Violet, before offering a bit of a grin.
"Well, if you're offering… maybe some sort of noodles, or curry? I always wanted to try some, but we didn't have the most variety."
The goat nods. "Remember, an instrument is like a living being. Treat it with kindness, and it will never betray you." She smiles.>>711773
Oh, there's more of us Luthiers than just who you see here," she says. "Odds are you'll run into at least one of us out on the streets. Or maybe even outside of the meet. We're a large collective of like minded artistes.">>711772>>711773
"By the way," the goat says offhandedly. "Before you go. It might be a little forward of me, but… well, I dabble in fortune telling, and you seem to have a touch of destiny about you, drifters. Would… would you mind if I read your fortunes, by chance? Cross my hoof with a silver bit, and I'll read your palms."
"Ah, zo zhat iz why you azked if we were one of you. If it iz zuch a large group, how did it form? Are you all from one location?"
Zunden offers a small smile, patting the deck of cards on her belt,
"I am a Reader of ze Tarot myzelf. I don't know ze nature of palm reading myzelf, it would vary between different razez, right? I do not know ezactly how it workz."
"Well, okay then! Let me know if you want to do anything!"
She starts looking at the different curries available, gravitating towards a street food stand worked by a saurian wrapped in a white hooded veil that covers her entire body, save for the eyes. She lines up here and comes back with two bowls of an exotic looking curry consisting of potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, white broccoli and green beans, all in a fragrant golden sauce. Each is served with a side of a large semicircular flatbread which appears to be made with cheese and spinach in the dough. She finds a nice quiet spot to sit down and eat, seemingly enjoying it at first. "It's… different?"
I nod and fork over the bits. Treat it with respect. That seems like it'd go without saying. I've been spending a lot. I should probably actually count up how much I have left. "I think I'm fine, thank you. Unless she does. Then maybe I guess."
Rabi licks his lips a little bit, the smell drawing him in more than anything else. He takes a seat by the mare and takes a curious bite, before digging in with far more enthusiasm.
"Yeah, it is pretty different! It's as good as it smelled before, that's for sure."
"I am alwayz interezted in learning ze believez of ozherz, even if I may not zubzcribe to zhem myzelf. I've been azked to read palmz before and had to clarify zhat waz not my expertize, zo I might az well learn a little bit."
"Suit yourself," the goat says simply, and turns her attention to Zunden.>>711776
The goat shrugs. "They've been around since before I joined. Don't think anyone alive knows how they started, heh."
"Oh, it's quite simple. Some races are harder than others, but they generally have a similar structire. Tell you what. I'll do yours for free if you'll let me." She looks at you meaningfully.
The vegetable curry has quite a bite to it. It's very filling, the sauce having a distinct nutty taste to it. It's not cuisine like any you've tried before, but it's certainly quite delicious. The flatbread is divine too, the bread, spinach and cheese blending together exquisitely. It's almost a meal in its own right. You feel quite full by the time you finish it. Violet just sits there contently, watching the crowd for a bit.
"Hey," she says after a while, breaking the comfortable silence. "Can I ask you something? …Would you go back to the Dominion? If you got the chance to? I mean, we have so much here already…"
H'm. Zunden still has her reading, and I can always ask The Oracle stuff. Still. Guess it doesn't hurt to have a third opinion. Could be interesting. "Alright, I think I will too after her."
Zunden sits down and holds out her right claw which bears the Ostvengr signet ring, holding her palm open. "Doez one'z palmz change zhroughout zheir life? I have not notized zuch, unlezz a palm reading iz zomezhing zhat holdz meaning to zomeone onze in zheir life.">>711783
Zunden offers Norv an apologetic smile as she sits down,
"You don't need to if you don't want to Norv, I juzt want to afford ze zame patienze when I offer a Reading. A little azzuranze never haz hurt."
"Nah. It's fine. I'm kind of curious too."
Rabi looks up from his meal and over to Violet, and slows to think the question over it. Setting his bowl down for a moment, the stallion eventually finds the words to respond.
"Well… I don't know. I've got family back there, you know? I care about them, even if I think they'll be alright on their own. I think Silver wants to go back, too. But… I think things aren't as bad here as I'd expected. Sure, there's the whole egg bit, and everything surrounding the Oneiromancer, but… I've really taken a liking to this place."
"Great!" She beams at you warmly. "I'm glad you're open minded about this. Most just dismiss it as a cheap trick, you know. But I think it holds wisdom.">>711784
"They do! More lines appear as one gets older, apart from the three primaries. They say that the heavier the lines, the heavier your future. Now, let's see…"
Before she begins, she notices the signet ring, her eyes gleaming. "My. Where did you ever find that ring? Do… do you realize its significance?"
Zunden lets a small snort, chuckling as she mentions heavier lines, "With all ze ztrezz I've been zhrough lately? I'm zure I'll have very heavy linez zoon enough. I don't look forward to being a wrinkled old lady zome day."
She continues to chuckle as she mentions the ring, "I collect all zortz of trinketz and baublez, but I did come here to learn more about zhiz ring az well. Az I have learned, it does hold zignificanze in zhiz Zity of Weeping, zomezhing to do wizh zheir lordz."
The fortune telling goat laughs heartily. "Ahahahaha! I certainly hope not! Why, I get a very good feeling about your future, one Fate-Seer to another."
She nods pensively. "Unless my eyes deceive me, that ring has the symbol of House Ostvengr, yes. Perhaps a sojourn into the City itself would prove fruitful for you? I wouldn't dare do so myself, but with a well armed team of drifters, perhaps…" She trails off and gives you a mysterious smile. "Anyway. Let us begin, shall we? Your dominant hand, if you please."
She takes your hand and examines it. "Oho. A curious start." She points out the topmost line, nearest the knuckles. "Your heart line is quite short, my dear. I take it you value your freedom? Ironic, considering where we've ended up. But perhaps this place is freedom in its own way. No? A question for the philosophers, I suppose. …Ah, but it is also divided here. See?" She points out the end of the line, near the outer side of the palm; it splinters into several crow's feet. "A heart divided takes time to mend," she says sagely. "Perhaps you've been through some great anguish, or shall be through some in your future. A breakup, maybe? Or the parting of ways with a dear friend? I shan't speculate too hard. Make of that what you will."
"Now. The head line." She moves on to the middlemost palm line, which has a sort of criss cross pattern. "Ah. Decisions, decisions. You are burdened with them, aren't you? Perhaps something as minor as what to have for lunch today will vex you to some degree!" She chuckles. "There is quite a good curry place not far from here, by the way. Anyhow… what else can we tell?… Hmm. The heart and the head are very close. Almost intertwined. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell which is in control, is it not."
"And as for your life line…" She examines the final line near the thumb very closely. "Why, look how close to the beginning of the heart line it is. They diverge quite drastically. Interpretations of this vary, I have heard. Some say it represents loneliness. Others, wisdom. I, for one, believe a life line like this represents a certain… Severance. A parting of ways that was, or will be, a turning point. Perhaps your exile was the Severance. Or perhaps it connects to your divided heart. You are free to interpret its meaning for yourself, of course. I only read what I see. I don't claim any of this to be the truth. All I know is I know nothing, as they say. Hm?"
"Anyway. What else is there to say about your life line? It is quite long, that is plain to see. Indicative of a strong body, a powerful soul and a long lifespan. You have much to look forward to! Now, as for the way it splits here at the tip…"
All of a sudden, her gracious demeanor changes as she works her way down the line. She lets go of your hand as it it had burned her, making an odd gesture with her hooves, her face a mask of abject terror. "Wh… what are you?" she says weakly, backing away like a rabbit cornered by a fox. "Get away from me…"
And with that, the goat is gone, backing hurriedly out of the room and vanishing into the crowd outside. A couple of the Luthiers turn their heads in puzzlement. "Wot's got 'er worked up?" the black and white accordion Dog asks in confusion.
Oh, hey. She's actually got some stuff down pat. I cross my arms and give an amused smirk as I listen to her continue. I'm actually geting kind of excited.
My smile falls and I take a step back as she jerks away. 'What are you'? Would she not have noticed any problems before? "Huh. Think we should try to see what that was about?"
Zunden nods along and stays respectfully quiet about it, claw twitching idly every so often as it's brushed against. As the goat reaches the end of the life line, Zunden grimaces, looking hurt as the goat flees in terror.
"But…" The saurian says in stunned shock, looking at the goat as she leaves, "I don't-"
Zunden gets up from sitting, confusion turning to defeat. She leans on her staff, looking to Norvegicus for any sort of support.>>711825
"Why would zhe do zhat… I've given bad fortunez before, but zhat doezn't give me anzwerz. Zhat juzt…" Her lip quivers, flipping up the hood of her outfit and turning to the crowd. "I zhink I want to head back now Norv, I don't feel so great after zhat."
Violet nods. "Yeah. That's how I feel. I mean, I don't have much of anything to go back to back home. I've got everything I could ever want here. My family's… kind of scattered to the four winds, and I never really had many friends or anything. Plus, Norv's here, and I don't think he'd leave either, given the chance. Truth be told, I wouldn't leave any of you guys behind at this point." She gives you another friendly smile.
"I'm just happy I've found someone, even here in the Echoes. And I'm happy for you as well. You and Silver are great together! I wasn't expecting to end up in a real relationship when I met the rest of you guys, but… well, here we are!" She chuckles and finishes the last of her vegetable curry.
"I'd still like a way to check on them… make sure they're alright, you know? But… some of the best things that have happened to me happened to me here. I wouldn't want to leave, or un-do that. I'm still not sure what Silver's take is, though- I think we never discussed it because… I guess we've been a little busy lately, with all that's happened." he says, with a chuckle.
"You didn't think you'd find someone? Come now, friend- you're a wonderful pony. It was just a matter of time, I'd say."
She nods. "The ideal thing to do, I think, would be to have a link between the Echoes and the Dominion. Have people be able to visit, or at least see, what's going on in each place. That way they can have some peace, you know? Might even help change the Dominion for the better. Not exactly a secret how corrupt the system is at this point." She looks a little bitter thinking about it, but shrugs it off.
She smile and looks away as you compliment her. "Thanks. I think you're great as well! I don't know where we'd be without you. I know we don't really get to talk much, but I really do appreciate having you around. You're a great guy. Silver's lucky to have you."
"I've got no clue if that'd even be possible. But… if it is, it might do a lot of good. Hard to tell, but… anything's better than what the Dominion is now." he says, with a shrug.
He responds to her compliments with a short, embarrassed whinny, and flashes a little grin. "I'm sure you'd manage without me, But, I'm glad I've been able to help. It's nice to be able to do some good, finally."
She nods. "I find this place either brings out the best in people, or the worst. I'm glad I'm with a group that's gone with the first one! …Wel… for the most part. Hermodur doesn't seem to have changed much at all. I feel like he just became more and more stubborn the longer he was with us. I hope he's okay, wherever he is…"
As you finish up, she looks around, looking over at a small clock tower nearby. "Hm. Do you want to keep moving? Been on break for a while now, but there's no rush really."
"I hope he can get past that stubbornness. I'd like to believe he'll turn from what he's doing… at the least, I'm sure he's fine. If nothing else, he can ram that stubborn head of his into whatever gets in his way, right?" he suggests, with a soft chuckle.
He looks back to the mare and blinks, before nodding a little "Right! I suppose I wouldn't mind too much either way- there's a couple other things I'd want to do, but I'm fine just sitting and talking for a while longer… speaking of things to do, what about you? Did you ind what you needed at that armorer?"
"Heh. Yeah. …I think his heart is in the right place though. He really does want to help, I think. He just needs some time to think things over."
She shakes her head. "Nah. I'll keep looking I guess. I want a new weapon, but I don't know what kind. Shame my old one broked. I liked that spear… Anyway. What are you looking to get out of the market? Apart from all the interior deco stuff you and Silver got before, that is. That knife you picked up looked pretty nifty."
Something seems to catch her eye; a shifty looking gecko saurian with a heavily lined face is standing slightly apart from the rest of the crowd, eyeing the two of you maliciously. She frowns. "Can I help you?" He just slinks away and blends into the crowd. "Man. Some people here, huh. Wonder if he's one of Lysander's…"
"A new weapon'd be good. I'd lend you one of mine, but… they're all rather specific. I'd be more than willing to teach you how to handle a bow, if you ever wanted a change of pace- even if my main one doesn't have a string… o-or arrows, for that matter, I still learned how to use a normal one. I'll make sure to keep an eye out for something like a spear, though- I'd be more than happy to hoof part of the cost, if it helps."
He stretches out a little and gets to his hooves, before humming "Well… lesse. I wanted to get this fitted as a bayonet, and maybe pick up some stuff on magic. I want to try and learn a little more, you know?" he suggests, before looking to the suspicious Saurian with a frown. "Could be… or, just someone looking for trouble. At the least, they can't move on us here, right?"
"Oh I can handle a bow," she says. "Learned how to use one when I was a park ranger, you know. And a crossbow. Never learned how to use firearms though." She rubs the back of her head. "Where'd you learn to shoot like that? And to use magic, while I'm at it? You're pretty good at it. Don't see non-unicorns using magic like that often."
She nods, watching the shady figure vanish. "Just cause you can't hurt anyone doesn't mean you can't have spies though. I'd wager he's got eyes looking for us. For… for me." She's quiet for a bit. "…We should try and lay low while we're here. Not draw attention to ourselves. Maybe even try and cover up a bit."
"The shooting? Honestly, the first couple shots were panick-fired, and Clawson was lucky enough to get right up in our snouts. I guess I'm a bit of a natural when it comes to ranged weapons, ehehe…"
He nods a bit in agreement with her, tucking his cloak a little closer over himself. The mention of his magic brings him pause, and after a little while… he shrugs, and says "It's a bit of a story. If you're fine hearing it, though, I wouldn't mind sharing."
I nod and set a paw on her shoulder. "Alright. I wouldn't read too deep into it, though. Just another weirdo here at the swap meet." I hold my sax up. "And hey, we got what we came for. Anyway, I think all of us do something wonky with fortune telling for some reason. Nothing good can come from dwelling in it, y'know?"
"I wouldn't worry about it normally, I don't really zubzcribe to hand-reading or zhat zort of fortune telling. It'z juzt… everyzhing going on and all - zertainly doezn't help my zelf-ezteem right now."
She directs the compass towards the ship and starts heading back, head hung low.
"I'm sure it'll all work out. Let's just get back to the ship and relax a little, huh? Got a lot done in a little time today." I walk with her back to the ship.
She kicks her feet idly as she sits. "Sure, why not. I'd love to hear it!"
You return to the ship, passing through the barrier once again. The crowd at the entrance seems to be a little thinner this time of day, though there's still the usual gaggle of weirdos.
Returning to the ship, you find it rather quiet. Violet is nowhere to be seen; the only one who appears to be around right now is Silver.
I give Silver a quick wave before stepping onto the ship. I hold out my sax. "Well, I think I'm going to go try this out," I say. "Doubt I'll manage much more than screeching and squeaking, but you can join me if you want."
Zunden nods, but doesn't say anything else for the rest of the trip back.>>711861
"I'll be in my room. Go play for Clawzon, I'm zure he'll appreziate it." Zunden gives a weak smile.>>711860
Zunden heads back to her room with little fanfare, sitting crosslegged on her bed and pulling out her lute. Given the string has yet to break, she puts off replacing the frayed string yet, instead trying to play some music to calm herself down.
[1d10] performanceRoll #1 4 = 4
"Well, in that case… like I've said before, most of what I learned was self-taught, hence my rather limited scope of magic. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, but I didn't know any of the specifics; it's sort of like looking at a clock. You know what sort of things make it tick, and you know what it should look like when it's done and working, but… figuring out is a little difficult. I had some natural talent, but I learned how to apply it from another Saddle Arabian. I wouldn't call him a father figure, but he was as close to one as I got. We both lived in the same little camp out in some of the more hospitable desert regions. He was a little distant, but… nice enough once you got to know him. He'd teach me little things now and then. Really basic stuff, but it was the foundations I really needed to get started. He's actually who helped me carve my first magic bow. The one I've got now is my third, I think?" he says, with a bit of a pause.
He stretches out a little, before sighing softly and finishing with "Truth be told, I never knew what happened to him. He would pop out for a few days at a time, but one day he didn't come back. Hard to say where, honestly."
I chuckle. "Nah, I think I'll save him that much. Best not to embarrass myself in front of a guy I was just threatening not half a day ago." I rub the back of my neck. "Though I am tempted to check up on him at least. I don't know. Anyway, if you need anything I'll be in my room. Or, I guess you'll know where to find me. Just gotta do a couple things first." I split up from Zunden as she nters her room. Before heading to my own room, though, I make my way to Kairon's door and knock.
You noodle a little, but don't manage to play much more than a few sour out of tune notes.
She listens politely as you speak, nodding every once in a while. "Hey, I know the feeling," she says when you're done. "My dad was never really around either. He was a rolling stone, as they say. Didn't really care about us, just took off after I was born and never really showed up." She doesn't seem resentful about it. "There are times I wanted to go looking for him, you know? But I never got around to it. Wouldn't even know where to begin. Even before I got exiled, allk my brothers and sisters got kind of broken apart after mum died. Don't know who to ask about that." She shrugs. "That's life though, isn't it."
"She changes the topic, sensing the heavy mood. "Anyway. You said that was your third? What happened to the other ones? Did they just break over time or…?"
There's no response. You don't see any green mist coming from underneath either.
Zunden harrumphs. 'Maybe try tuning it? Now that I know what those things do…
She plays with the tuning pegs, trying to play a simple melody again to see if it sounds more in tune.
[1d10]Roll #1 10 = 10
My heart leaps. Hopefully she's just exploring the ship. There's no way she'd just leave, is there? She's going to end up controlled by some evil wizard or something! Feeling bad for already bothering her, I make my way back to Zunden's room and knock.
You fiddle with the tuning pegs until it sounds better to you. Still not entirely sure how to actually go about it, you follow your heart and pluck out a soulful melody, putting your mind at ease for a while.
Your playing is interrupted by a knock on the door. Sounds like Norv's footsteps.
Zunden ignores the knocking at first, finishing the song before calling out to Norvegicus, getting up from her bed.
"Come in, iz it you Norvegicuz?"
I sheepishly open the door and step inside. I fiddle with my fingers a bit while I try to think of how to word it. "Sorry for bothering you," I say. "I was just wondering if maybe you could do a sweep of the ship for me and tell me if you see that green mist you mentioned before anywhere.'
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I wanted to look for mine, but… I never really cared enough to. I didn't have the time, really." he says, before shrugging a little bit.
At the mention of his bow, he blinks a couple of times and straightens up. "My first one broke, yeah. Nothing really big or bad, I just… w-well, I fell on it. I dropped it before I jumped, and I guess I accidentally broke my fall with it." he mentions, with a bit of an embarrassed chuckle. "The second one was just a little shoddy, but not bad. Just needed a bit of an upgrade, but I had a better idea of how the process worked."
Zunden nods, setting her lute down and sitting back on the bed, preparing for the worst incase she experiences spasms again.
"Ze zpirit I've yet to meet, zhen. Hopefully it iz not working out ezcape planz wizh Clawzson?"
She pulls the Fulcrum rings from her bag of holding out and places them back on her hands, frowning as she looks at her palm again.
[1d10] DominionRoll #1 2 = 2
She lets out a little bark of a laugh. "Hah! I thought you'd lost them in a fight or something. Fair enough! I wish I'd learned magic. Seems really useful!"
"Anyway. We should get a move on, eh? Been here long enough, no sense in dallying." She stands up and waits to see if you'll follow.
You can never really get used to the overwhelming feeling of it all. Your head spins as you are battered with visions of every room on the ship once more. It feels like someone bashing on the inside of your skull with a sledgehammer. You see yourself go limp.
Oh, shit. I rush over to Zunden and kneel down. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Are you okay? I shouldn't have asked you to do that. Can I just borrow the compass? Then I'll just stop bothering you."
Zunden groans, glad she had the foresight to be on her bed but deeply ashamed she fell again in front of Norvegicus.
"No I- It'z juzt ze ztrezz and being watched and… she trails off, taking the compass and handing it to Norvegicus, shooing him out of the room with a claw as she rubs her head and takes off her rings. "I'll be fine, go find your zpirit zhing."
I step out of the room and look down at the compass. It wasn't my fault, I repeat. Zunden is just under a lot of stress right now. That's all. I close my eyes and take a deep breath to calm myself. Holding the compass with both hands, I think about Kairon and flick it open.
"Yeahh, not every story can be as flattering." he says, chuckling a little more and getting up to follow after her.
"If you ever felt like trying to learn some magic, I could always try and teach you. I doubt I'd be very good, but… it's something, I suppose? Anywho, let's see. What sort of weapon were you looking for? Or, just looking to get the old one fixed? We can do that, then I can handle my last couple errands."
"Well there's nothing left of it now, is there. Lying at the bottom of a sewer somewhere." She shrugs. "I'd rather try and get some new armor, to be honest. I've been wearing the same old coat since forever. Would be nice to change it up a bit. …Plus, with Lysander on the move, it'd be better to not be as instantly recognizable." She motions for you to follow as she starts moving away from the food stands, stepping out of the way of a huge lumbering ape-like creature passing by.>roll Navigation
The compass spins wildly before pointing in the direction of the Swap Meet. Seems she's taken the opportunity to do a runner.
I pinch the bridge of my nose and groan. Great. I'd hoped that wasn't the case. Well, better get this over with. I head into my room, grab the bottle -she's incorporeal. She couldn't have done anything with it, right?- , and head out to look for her.
With Norvegicus leaving, Zunden looks at her lute again, but shakes her head. Not after the last time she tried playing with this sort of stress. She thinks about starting to cook something for the party, but that too just seems like too much. Bunching up her pillows into a pile, Zunden pulls a sheet over herself and buries her head in her pillows.
"R-Right, right. I sort of forgot, honestly." he says, before humming softly and looking around.>Navigation: [1d10]
"As far as clothing goes, I was going to see what sort of ideas Silver had for me. She's great with clothing, so I figured I'd ask her." he says, stroking his chin a little bit. "Any sort of weapon in mind, by the way? I want to make sure you've got something good."Roll #1 9 = 9
Starting to feel the pressure again, you flop into bed and take some time to mentally convalesce.>>711884
You go back into the Swap Meet, following the compass past all the clangor of the great market. Squeezing past a swarm of Breezies communicating by arranging into comedic shapes, you come to a queue of tough looking drifters waiting in line, leading into an area blocked by grey curtains. From inside, you can hear the sounds of fighting. Every once in a while, a deep voice will call 'Next!', and a bloodied, browbeaten drifter will exit, usually looking sour. You've passed by this area before; seems to be a fight club happening inside. Presumably, this wouldn't violate the truce, as both parties have agreed to fight. Whoever is in charge sounds oddly familiar to you, somehow. You can hear a small crowd of onlookers murmuring inside; seems spectators are welcome.
Well, I'm sure there are worse places she could be, right? And it's not like they can do anything if I don't agree to a fight. Continuing to follow the compass, I make my way to, and through, the curtains.
"I don't know yet," she answers frustratedly. "I've tried all sorts but nothing seems to really click with me. You know? It might sound childish but if I'm going to be getting a new weapon it has to be something I'm comfortable with, that I can really commit to."
The two of you eventually come to a store labeled 'The Best Defence', run by a bland looking Diamond Dog. Looking around, you can see that she has all sorts of armors available, as well as an assortment of clothes. "Hello hello," she says warmly as you enter. "What can I do for you?"
"Hrm. Maybe we could find somewhere where you could just try them out? Take a little time to see how it feels in your hooves, and see if any of them 'click', you know?" he offers, before taking a look inside the shop.
"Ah, hello! I've come to see if I can get some armor, by chance- and, see if you know a smithy. I wanted to get a bayonet affixed."
You enter. A small crowd of disparate drifters are watching and keeping their distance, forming a semicircle around a pair of fighters; in this case, a foppish looking unicorn levitating a rapier, and an enormous minotaur built like a sumo wrestler using nothing but a pair of studded leather gloves. The unicorn artfully dodges the minotaur's swings, occasionally jabbing at the minotaur or firing off a spell, but the minotaur is more nimble than he appears despite the sheer size of him. A green mist hangs near the ceiling of the dimly lit room, presumably Kairon being discreet. What catches your attention, though, are the two figures presiding over the ongoing fight, sitting up on raised platforms on rather elaborate chairs:
The first is a black and white felid in a red gold trimmed cloak, with piercing yellow eyes. Standing stiffly by her side is what appears to be a bodyguard, a whitish grey felid with bright blue eyes wearing a medium blue cloak. A golden dagger is tucked into her belt. The red cloaked felid is known to you, though you haven't seen her in person. This is Cecile Grosvenor, Lady of Braildorn. You don't recognize the blue cloaked bodyguard.
The second of the two is known to you. A white two-legged dragon with bright purple eyes, smoking a pipe. Lysander seems bigger than last time you met, about as tall as Zunden. Certainly taller than you. You notice he is wearing his usual brown coat, but with a darker brown cloak draped around his left arm, covering it up. His eyes pass over you briefly, but he doesn't seem to recognize you.
The two watch as the fight progresses; the fancy unicorn lashes out at the minotaur again and again, eventually tiring him out and piercing his side. The room rumbles as the enormous bovine crashes to the ground, defeated. However, as the unicorn begins to gloat, the minotaur shoots one thick arm out and grabs him by the ankle, thrashing him against the ground several times, leaving him battered and broken. Quietly, the minotaur raises his fist in victory, while the unicorn slinks away, humiliated. Cecile's lip twitches a little at the display, but Lysander ssimply nods in approval. "Well played, Ruislip. Welcome aboard. Report to my ship at first light tomorrow. Next!"
"Hm. Maybe. Let's just focus on one thing at a time, though, yeah?"
The Dog sizes you up. "Armor, hm? I'd imagine you'd prefer something light and maneuverable, judging from the rifle. I might have just the thing." She shows you an armor set not unlike the one Silver picked up earlier, consisting of segmented leather armor with light metal plating on the left arm, with one metal gauntlet and a black hooded cape shrouding the whole thing. It looks quite stylish to you. "What do you think of this, sir? 's very flexible, and has great protection too." She demonstrates by bending the toughened leather. "If you're looking to be a little discreet," she continues, "you can also hide away with the cloak." She points out that it has a face mask built in that you can pull up. >passive; +2 hits and +1 to dodge rolls while wearing this armor
"As for a blacksmith, I know there's one at the market somewhere. Hadrian, his name is. Big mushroom fellow. He doesn't work for cheap though. I think there's another, Baldwin, about two blocks down from here. Think he could do it on the cheap, but I'm not sure if he's any good. I can vouch for Hadrian though. He's a master."
"I can vouch for him too," Violet pipes up. "He made my old spear."
My heart hammers against my ribcage and my head suddenly feels light as my eyes catch Lysander. For the brief moment our eyes nearly meet I can't help but hold my breath. I knew he'd be here. We all did, but there are so many people I didn't actually think we'd run into him.
My eyes tear themselves away from Lysander long enough to look up at Kairon. I already have a feeling I know what she's doing. Looking for someone strong enough to take as a champion. I really should go about this a different way. Actually talk to her. I can't think of anything that wouldn't draw attention to myself. Slowly, I pull the bottle out of my pocket and uncork it.
As the next two contenders step forward (a lance wielding griffon knight in a plumed helmet and an odd being wrapped in so many layers of clothing you can't even tell what sort of creature they are), you uncork the bottle. Kairon's ethereal form begins to convulse, flowing into the bottle despite her very loud and very attention grabbing screeches. "YOU!! HOW DARE YOU! UNCLEAN WRETCH! VILE MONSTROSITY! RELEASE ME FROM THIS BOTTLE THIS INSTANT! I AM A QUEEN! YOU WILL BE EXECUTED FOR TREASON!"
And so on and so forth. Several onlookers jump at the sudden sound. All eyes are suddenly on you as she is drawn back into the bottle, thumping furiously and making the bottle shake violently in your hands, still screaming and carrying on. Lady Grosvenor arches an eyebrow at the display. "What is the meaning of this?" Lysander demands, sounding mildly annoyed at the interruption of his blood sport.
"Ooh, I could definitely get behind that." he says, looking it over approvingly. "How much would it run me, by chance?" he asks, making note of the two smiths. "I'll probably try Hadrian, then. Thanks."
"I'd let it go for about 50 bits," she answers, folding her arms. "But that's negotiable. Make me an offer!"
I push all hatred deep, deep down in an attempt to feign a smile. "Just a, uh… lost pet," I say, holding up the bottle. "Sorry. Go ahead and get back to your thing. I'll just be on my way."
[1d10]DiplomacyRoll #1 9 = 9
The bottle rattles ominously in your hand, and you hear muffled screams coming from within. You think you see a spark of recognition in Lysander's eyes as he looks at you, but if he does know who you are, he doesn't act on it now. "Be gone, then," he says dismissively, waving his good arm. "Kala, Gauthier, step forward. Begin when you are ready." The tense moment passes, and the two contenders from before begin to fight, the strange wrapped up figure casting a variety of spells while the griffon artfully dodges and aims to skewer them with his lance
The Dog frowns unhappily. "That's a bit low. I'd let it go for that price if you threw something else in to sweeten the deal. Otherwise, 45 is good to me."
Not wanting to stick around any longer, I rush out and head back toward the ship, holding the bottle close to my chest.
You return to the as of yet unnamed ship. Zunden seems to be the only one about, save for the usual Clawson and Mercutio. Kairon still rages inside the bottle the whole time you're making your way back, and shows no signs of stopping.
"Hrm… 45 works, then. I'll take it." the stallion says, offering the bits.
I head to my room and sit down on my bed, turning the bottle around in my hand. "I'd really hoped we could get along. You realize you could have just waited for me to help you get your body back and just backstabbed me, right? I was going to help you. Now I'm wondering if I should even do that much."
"Done and done!" She takes the money and passes you the armor. Violet starts looking about at the various suits of armor available in the shop.
>Ranger's Armor>passive; +2 max hits and +1 to dodge rolls while this is equipped
>Attire worn by wayfaring rangers. A black cape covers leather armor, shrouding its wearer in darkness. Offers excellent protection without sacrificing mobility.
"Now then! Is there anything else I can help you with?" She looks eager to make another deal.
>>711905"How much longer do you think you can hold me, you pathetic cur?!"
She is absolutely furious. "All I wished was to see the outside world. To roam the earth instead of being locked away in a room. When I return - and I WILL return - I will drape my throne with your flesh for your insolence. NO ONE crosses Kairon Irse and lives!"
I fall silent for a moment. Finally, I say, "Do you still want to?"
>>711908"Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than tearing you limb from limb,"
Rabi happily pays the money and starts to work the gear on, before looking over to Violet curiously. "I think I'll wait and see what she needs, if anything."
"So no, then. I was offering to go outside with you. I don't like
keeping you in there. That's why I wanted to help you in thr first place. You know that, right?" I set the bottle on the middle of the bed and lie on my side. "If I'm with you then I don't see why there'd be a problem."
You don the armor. It feels very comfortable and lightweight, while still being an effective piece of armor. For 45 bits, it's practically a steal.
Violet seems drawn to something slightly heavier; a metal cuirass interwoven with coarse maroon cloth, with a cloak to match along with small decorative cloth epaulettes. Much like your set, it has one metal gauntlet on the left arm, presumably to help with defence. She resolves to buy it, putting her back only 35 bits. She seems happy with her new armor. It's rather plain, but practical, as is her style. "What do you think?" she asks you, showing it off proudly.
>>711911"Then release me from this glass prison!"
She sounds less angry and more indignant. "My affairs are not your concern. Let us part ways and never speak of this again, and I shall let you live when I reclaim my throne."
"Ooh, I like it! It's a little heavier too, which can come in handy if you're not a spindly guy like me." the stallion says, chuckling happily. "Do you have the money on you? I could cover it."
She smiles and looks away. "Oh it's fine, I can pay for it. Got plenty on me." She hands over the bits and shifts about, getting a bit more comfortable with the new gear. "So, where to next? I have just about everything else covered on my end, except for one thing, but I'm sure you don't want to go clothes shopping. I'll see if Aegis or Silver are into that, actually…"
I roll over onto my back and cross my hands over my stomach. "If I let you go and you're controlled or manipulated by someone making empty promises to restore your throne to you, then that's probably going to end up making problems for me and my friends later down the line. I want to let you out, but I can't risk that." I sit back up and bury my face in my paws. "But here I am holding you prisoner. I want to say 'if you wouldn't run away I'd let you out' but that just feels so… so wrong." I turn to the bottle. "Do you really not understand the position you're putting me in? I want to help you, but you won't let me." My face blanches and my eyes widen. "What- what am I even saying? This is wrong. Holding you here against your will is so wrong, but letting you go and risking you becoming a liability- if anything happened I'd
be responsible for letting you go in the first place. And I'm driving Zunden insane." My vision goes blurry. "It's the same with the Beldam. And Persolus. I want to help you, but what if it comes back to haunt me?" I let out a quiet sob. "What am I supposed to do?"
Aegis pays no mind to Silver aside from a nod of acknowledgement and makes a straight line for her room in the captain's quarters
''I pray the ship remains safe, I would not want to lose this'' She speaks as she carefully places the book on the mostly-empty bookcase, as well as storing away the Ebony cat statuette, the folded map, the staff, the strange red fleshy yarn, and, with some hesitation, the miniature Iron Maiden, placing it besides the Harbinger
She still kept the Cloak with her
After she was done storing away her bought goods, Aegis headed to the kitchen for a quick meal
The tiny iron maiden scowls at you with its cold metallic face, judging you for your sins.
You head to the kitchen, where you find Aurora already eating eagerly devouring her second peach. She freezes mid bite like a deer in headlights as you enter. "Sorry, I was just really hungry," she mumbles after swallowing, pushing the fruit bowl towards you. There's a disparity to choose from, having the usual fare such as apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, etcetera.
''No need to be sorry. I'm the one who apologizes for keeping you in tow for so long. Let us bring something to eat on the way next time'' Aegis said, sitting down to grab a pair of apples and apples only
''Do you know what you will want to do next?''
You grab one large green apple and one not so large red one. They are quite delicious.
"Well, we don't have to do what I want, you know. But I did want to try and get some new clothes. Maybe a new weapon too. I'm not very good with this sword." She gestures at the silver sword she usually carries on her back, currently resting against the table. You recall that the ritual for opening a portal to the Echoes, and therefore banishing people like yourself, consists of plunging a silver sword into a rainbow portal, turning it like a key.
"I'd like something a bit more practical, you know? I never learned to swing a sword. It feels clumsy. I might sell it if I can. It oculd be worth something to someone."
"What about you though? Didn't you say you wanted to go and look for magic tomes? We could do that if you want. I don't mind. Might pick up something worthwhile myself."
''I agree on finding a weapon that better suits you, but I'd say you should keep it, in case it is needed by someone here. It could even be the start of a collection of your own
''As for the magic tomes, I just want something to study in my free time besides the Liber Animarium, as I have said I am still just a scholar''
''Another thing that is important is finding a way to make money. Even with all the bits Zunden gave me, I feel like it wont be enough to sustain my shopping binge''
She nods. "Maybe you're right. It could be valuable. Might even be able to open a way home with it. Not that I want to go back there, though…" She looks pensive for a bit, but brushes it off.
She agrees with the notion of making money. "Yeah. The money we got from our last big job won't last forever. I mean, Zunden's making money selling her orbs, but that can't really provide for everyone. I could try pickpocketing, but I don't think that'd go over well with the rest of the group. Not to mention the whole truce thing going on. Hmmm…" She thinks for a bit. "I guess I am good at healing. Maybe I could offer treatment to any injured that make it to the market.
"What about you though?" she asks. "Do you have any ideas for making money yourself?"
Aegis eyes her half eaten apple for a moment
''All that I know to do right is spellcasting. I doubt anyone would ever need a hired blade in the entirety of the week that the Swap Meet will go through. Unless someone wants to hire me as a teacher or to show off a spell, I can't think of anything I can do that has value. I am worthless in this case''
She thinks. "Well… we are
at the entrance to a lost city. Maybe we could find some artifacts worth selling in there. With that string you bought, we'd be able to mark our way so we don't get lost. We go in for a bit, grab what we can, then get out and try to sell it at the market. What do you think?"
''I had planned on doing this…''
Aegis finishes her first apple
''But with the rest of the group, after the Meet ends and only after some testing. I need to know how well that string works and also know if it will be effective within the city. Many things can go wrong and keep me trapped forever in there if I dont take the proper steps to avoid them, so for now, heading in the city is not a favorable option''
She frowns. "Who are we going to sell the stuff to then? Presumably everyone will be leaving once the Meet finishes, so it'd be for naught. I say we go into the city tonight as a group, grab what we can, then sell it in the morning. …Er, if you want to, that is. It's not up to me."
Aegis simply eyes Aurora for a couple of seconds
''You are right. Very well then, but not tonight. When the group returns, let them know of the plan first, so they can properly prepare and buy anything that they feel they might need for the trip the next morning, then we will move the following evening''
Her eyes move to the juicier green apple
''This way it will give me time to properly test the string, and more importantly, study the Liber Animarium, so that in case of emergency, I can contact a demon to take us away from the city''
She nods. "Good thinking. Best to be well prepared. We don't really know what to expect in there. You could even send that cat of yours to tell the others about the plan, so we're all on the same page by the time we regroup."
As you bring up the Liber Animarum, she thinks. "We have some time now. Why don't we try going through that book and see what we can do with it. Er, you, rather. It's your book. Or did you want to go back to shopping?"
''Yes, I dont doubt the Harbinger can enter through the barrier as well, so warning them to meet back here would be the best instead of waiting for them to return. I just wonder if it can deliver multiple messages at once''
''And I am in no rush to return to the Meet, it will go for a week after all. But I want to buy everything I want as soon as I can. The merchants will run out of stock eventually, and I'm certain that if we took a day or even a couple of hours longer to meet Myrr, he would have gladly sold the Liber Animarum to some other eager client''
"Well, there's only one way to find out," she shrugs in response to the Harbinger.
She nods. "Better to strike while the iron's hot. The Meet's only just begun, and I feel like all the best stuff will be gone in a few days." She grabs another peach and sticks it in her pocket for now. "I'm ready to start heading back when you are."
Finishing the second apple, Aegis stuffed her saddle bag with some bananas, along with the harbinger and left the ship, ready to face the crowded Swap Meet again, but stopping just before the gate as she pulled out the cat statue and placed it down
''Seek the one Called Zunden, tell her that Aegis Glaze wishes to meet back with everyone in the ship tonight to discuss some plans''
The cat Harbinger comes to life, stretching its forelegs and yawning. It looks up at you and gives you a meaningful look, blinking slowly before moving off through the barrier and into the crowd, trotting purposefully with its tail held high. Aurora watches it walk off with slight amusement. "…So. Where to first? Your call."
''Let us find some books, then we can wander through the Meet while heading towards the entry to the city, I want to take a look at it as well''
Aegis took the initiative and moved in, trying to find such a place with books for sale, even asking for directions if needed
Roll #1 3 = 3
Even after getting directions from a weird frog monster, you find yourself hopelessly turned around in the market, ending up in a dark alley full of very unpleasant looking figures. They give you suspicious looks as they go about their business, which happens to be trading what looks like freshly harvested organs. Aurora looks uncomfortable. "Let's… just keep moving…"
Aegis looked up and for signs or any landmark she could use to remember this place before moving on
'1d10'Roll #1 2 = 2
You and Aurora keep going in circles, it seems; you try and get your bearings, but you keep ending up at the same point, an eerie stone statue of a creature resembling a hairy winged toad. A shady figure skulks out from the shadows; you're not quite sure which of the bipedal races this shifty character belongs to, as he is draped in rags and conceals his face with a hood and bandanna. "You look lost, drifters," they rasp; it's difficult to tell their gender as well. "Need a guide? I can take you where you need to go, for only 10 bits." They stick out a bandaged hand, or maybe it's a paw, or a claw. Aurora looks to you. "Maybe we should find our own way around…"
''No, thank you''
Aegis says simply, as she tries again to find her own way
'1d10'Roll #1 9 = 9
The mysterious guide grumbles indistinctly and slinks into the shadows.
After a bit of wandering, you manage to find what you think might be a good place to look for books. It looks like any ordinary house, except it's floating a good few feet in the air. There's a rope ladder haphazardly attached to the front porch for visitors. A shoddily assembled wooden sign reads "FUMBLEMORE THE WIZARD - Enchantments, Scrolls, Identifications, and other Magical Paraphernalia." Aurora perks up. "Oh, it's this guy. We've run into him before. He lives in Braildorn, usually. Kind of an odd one. You'll have to speak up if you want to talk to him, he's stone deaf."
''I see…'' Aegis briefly turns back to heed Aurora before she carefully attempts climbing up the rope ladder
As you sit about in your room trying to relax some, you hear a faint skritching noise at your door, like some tiny animal asking to be let in.
With some effort, you haul yourself up the rope ladder and knock. At first there's no answer, so you knock again. "Yes, yes, I'm coming, I'm coming!" a benign voice calls. You hear the fumbling of latches, locks and levers, and eventually the wooden door creaks open. An older gentlecolt of an earth pony is standing there in a dark green three piece suit, with a matching bowler hat and a pair of large round spectacles. He sports a bushy black mustache. "Oh! I believe we've met. Hello again!" he says to Aurora, who simply nods at him. He turns to you and doffs his hat. He's balding. "Fumblemore, at your service, good lady. Who might you be?"
Zunden rolls over in her bed and sighs, reaching out for her staff to help her out of bed. Just out of reach, she groans pulling herself out of her bed without the help of her staff, heading towards the door after grabbing the now-in-reach staff.
"Who iz it?" Zunden asks, standing near the door.
"Well certainly! I do have some books for sale. Old ones I no longer need, ones I've traded for here and about, and ones I've penned myself to turn a profit! Come in, come, come!"
The inside of his home is remarkably ordinary for the home of a wizard. It looks like a cozy little wooden house, for all intents and purposes. An upstairs area leads to what is presumably his study room, while the main living room before you features a fireplace and a bookshelf full of tomes, as well as other assorted knick knacks. "Everything on this shelf is for sale, Miss Haze! Please, take your time!"
>Fumblemore sells magic tomes allowing permanent access to any 1 point spell skill after several in game days of prolonged study. Each costs 200 bits.
Among the trinkets and baubles he's collected, you find the following:
A small, dirty hand mirror with engravings depicting some mythical hero fighting a variety of beasts. It is covered in dirt and grime, making it near impossible to see your reflection without cleaning it first.
A chess board, with all the pieces carved to be actual ponies; the knights are knights in armor, the bishops are clad in robes, the pawns have rank and file weaponry, etcetera. Upon closer inspection, they appear to be sapient, occasionally fidgeting or looking up at their surroundings as if impatient to get started.
A polished wooden banglet. It has no special markings, but just looking at it makes you feel a sense of dread. This item is absolutely cursed.
A set of brass framed glasses with tinted blue lenses. The frames have some decorative etching. They seem enchanted in some way, as the surface of the glasses ripple and shimmer as if made of water.
A polished diamond shaped wooden medallion made of cedar. Two swimming fish have been carved out of the wood with great care, and the words “Breathe as the fish do” are engraved on the back.
A tiny silver bell with fancy engravings. A loop at the top suggests it is meant to be worn as a decoration. You sense some form of enchantment on this item.
A tiny cloth pouch containing five stones. They are small trapezoids, each one clear with a cloudy center. Some of them have cracks, but all are chilly to the touch. They're ice cubes that don't melt.
A selection of various fiction novels. It is difficult to tell what each one entails without further inspection. There is no magic to these; they are just ordinary books.
There is no response, save for even more scrabbling. You hear a faint "prrmeow?" from the other side.
Aegis bids her time curiously skimming over the collection, mostly interested in the books, but eventually, she turns back to Fumblemore ''Could you-… Could youtell me more about these curious items?'' she stops near the silver bell, eyeing it with interest
Zunden thinks warily gripping her staff and preparing a spell incase something more sinister waits outside.
Nonetheless, she opens the door tentatively, looking down at the floor.
Aegis bids her time curiously skimming over the collection, mostly interested in the books, but eventually, she turns back to Fumblemore ''Could you-… Could youtell me more about these curious items?'' she stops near the silver bell, eyeing it with interest
A tiny black cat trots into the room with its tail straight up. It looks up at you with an oddly familiar expressionless stare. "I wish to meet back with everyone in the ship tonight to discuss some plans," the cat says to you, speaking in Aegis' voice. With that, the cat rubs against your leg, demanding attention.
The other books are works of literature. You recognize some as classics back home. For instance, one slightly unnerving book tells the tale of a group of livestock overthrowing their owners, only for the pigs to begin resembling the very masters who oppressed them.
"Oh, the bell?" He walks up to you eagerly, clutching his hat. "It's a curious little thing. Quite useful, actually. You ring it, and it reveals anything hidden nearby. Like so!" He takes it and rings it. It sounds out shrilly, echoing throughout the comfy house. Nothing else happens, for now. Fumblemore looks vexed. "Oh fie. Where could they have gone now? …No matter, no matter. I'll see to it later."
''A very useful artifact for any drifter'' Aegis comments, eyeing the other items on sale
''How about the rest of your wares? Could you tell me more about them?''
Zunden shudders, uncomfortable at the prospect of a cat with Aegis' voice. She brushes the cat away with her staff with little force, "Alright alright, now go on. Zhoo."
"Certainly!" He trots over to the shelf and starts going through them.
As it turns out, many of the items he has to offer are oddities, not just for practical use. Curios in the truest sense of the word.
"The mirror doesn't show you at all. It has something quite queer in the reflection instead…" He tries to rub off the dirt, but can't find a good cloth. "Ah well. Whoever's in this reflection, I wonder if they're aware they're being watched?"
"Oh, the board? That's just something I made for fun, really. They're quite eager little fellows, really. Look at them go!" He watches in amusement as a black pawn and a white pawn seem to have a dispute, shouting at each other in high pitched nasal gibberish. Whatever they're saying, it seems to escalate as the two begin to fight for real. Fumblemore steps in and pulls them apart. "Play nice, you two. Play nice."
When you inquire about the cursed banglet, he looks vexed. "Try as I might, I cannot glean the nature of its curse, believe it or not. I'm afraid to put it on, to be honest, or to even touch it. But it's there now, and someod to want it eventually. But you wouldn't be interested in that, would you?"
"These glasses are indispensable!" he proclaims. "Made them myself, don't you know. Read anything with them on, and you'll be able to understand the words, no matter the language. …Well, most languages, really. Unless it's something exceptionally rare, you should be able to translate anything."
He rubs the back of his head when asked about the fish medallion. "Why, it has some sort of water breathing enchantment. I've studied it a little, and it appears to have some form of growth spell on it as well. I'm hesitant to put it on, but perhaps it would make one sprout gills?"
"Oh these are my own invention," he says of the ice cubes. "I have a set for my own use. They make any glass of liquid they're immersed in chill instantly. Perfect for a nice refreshing drink! A bit of a luxury item, I'll admit, but they are quite handy."
The cat refuses to leave, trotting away from you and pausing near the door for a while before sitting on its haunches, tail swishing as it stares at you expectantly. It seems to want something from you.
''Lovely collection'' She mutters, forgetting to speak loudly for a moment
''It is a small collection but they all have value. I have one more question, do you know if those glasses work on magical language as well? As in runes and other arcane writting?''
He blinks. "They should, yes. Though, the majority of runes are not an alphabet. They represent concepts or things, rather than letters or words. If that makes sense. So the glasses will not be able to translate very accurately. But they should give some insight!"
"I zaid alright, you couldn't return wizh zhat? Tell your owner zhat I waz already azzuming we'd meet back up tonight for dinner, and zhat I'll be in my room until zhen."
The cat seems placated by your answer, rubbing its face rather aggressively against the doorframe before walking off soundlessly and vanishing around a corner.
Fumblemore thinks. "I would value it at near 60 bits," he simply answers.
''[Size12]A fair price. I will take it and make good use of your invention, Fumblemore''Aegis picks out the necessary bits from her bag and hands them out to the old stallion
''One more thing, how long are you planning to stay in the Swap Meet? I want to return later for some of these books you have''
Zunden closes the door, harrumphing as she returns to her bed. 'Seems Aegis is making use of the bits we gave her, at least. What does she mean by plans though? She been here for a few days at most.
The cat however, reminds of her own 'pet', and she searches for where Aurora last put the egg, observing it and bringing it back to the bed.
"Thank you," he says with a friendly smile. "That was a fine trade!">True Reading Glasses>An invention of the enchanter Fumblemore. When worn, the user can read all manner of languages, and attempt to decipher the meaning of runes without any prior knowledge of such.
"Oh, I'll be around for a few days," he answers. "I'm hoping I can be rid of that accursed bangle. It vexes me so. If you're ever interested in my wares again, you know where to find me!"
Aurora peruses the items before buying the chess set and the dirty mirror, seeming intrigued by the latter. "Do you play?" she asks you, gesturing at the now packed up chess set, which rattles slightly on occasion. "Feel like it might be fun to."
You observe the large, football sized egg, which has been propped gently on the dresser. As you hold it in both hands, you can feel the creature inside stirring idly. It seems it is almost fully grown, though not quite ready to hatch.
''No, never have'' She looks down at the box before facing Aurora ''But I can learn, it will be a nice alternative to re-reading the same few books I own, I suppose''
Being extremely careful with the unstable rope ladder, Aegis descends from Fumblemore's house
''Do you have anywhere you want to head to next? It would be fair if you took the lead this time'' she tells the Bat mare once she gets off the ladder
"Bye now!" says Fumblemore cheerily. "Come again soon!"
"I'll teach you if you want," Aurora offers. "It's quite simple, once you get used to it."
Aurora thinks. "I'd like to find myself a better weapon, if you don't mind sticking around for that. Who knows, maybe you'll find a nice side arm you like. Could we do that?"
''Of course. And I already told you, I am only good for spells. But maybe a side shiv is simple enough that even somepony like me can use it''
She followed Aurora's lead
Zunden smiles, laying back in bed and holding the egg protectively. She blushes to herself as she realizes her own behavior is rather silly, caring about a monstrous creature like it was to be a house pet.
Following Aurora, you find yourselves rather lost again, ending up in what looks like a noodle factory. As Aurora tries to get her bearings, someone sidles out of the market crowd towards you, a rather seedy looking doe in a floppy hat. "Hey! You there! How much for the shield?" she asks with a demanding tone.>>711969
As you lie on your back cradling the egg, you feel the balaur within stir again, as if drawn to your heartbeat."Welly welly well. Isn't that just lovely!"
A familiar obnoxious voice breaks the peace from behind the door. You can hear Mercutio bouncing up and down outside, mocking you out of boredom. "Finally found yourself a real child, have you? How adorable! Is it a boy or a girl?"
Aegis briefly spared the noble doe a glance ''It is not for sale'' before swiftly turning back to where she was looking, the noodle factory actually getting her interest
>>711916"Spare me your self pity, whelp,"
she hisses. "Cry to your slattern of a mate. I have no use for your tears. Leave me to my musings! Your Queen commands you!"
The bottle rattles a little.
I shake my head, pick up the bottle, and drop it in my bag. "Fine," I say. "I tried. I actually thought for some reason that if I put up with you and gave you a chance that maybe we could get along." I wait a moment. "I tried," I repat a little quieter, more to reassure myself. Maybe I didn't try hard enough? Maybe I actually should
have just let her go instead of keeping her prisoner. I shut the bag, walk over to my bed, drop down, pick up my saxophone and the book, and open it up.
>>711985"WE don't need to get along. YOU just need to do your ordained duty as a serf of my kingdom. Protect your queen, peasant."
The book has very simple, straightforward instructions on how to play saxophone, as well as instrument maintenance. It also has a few sample pieces of sheet music for practicing, though you don't know how to read music so they're effectively worthless. This might take a while.
I do what I can to ignore her for now as I look over the book. Neat. I can't read half of it. I put the sax to my lips, purse them around the mouthpiece, and blow to try and get a feel for it.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
A low honk belts from the sax as you give it a try. Through some perseverance, however, you keep playing, experimenting with the different keys to produce different notes. After a bit of noodling, you think you can grasp how it works, and manage to play an eight note scale.
I cringe at the sour honk and breathe a little more gently. Alright. Well, that's not as bad as I expected. Tastes kind of weird, though. Seems like the reed gets softer as I play, too. I play the scale a few more times before experimentally putting a couple of notes together I think might sound good.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You think you're getting the hang of it. After several minutes of practicing and failing, you manage to play a simple little syncopated tune. It isn't much, but it feels satisfying to come up with a bit of music on your own.https://youtu.be/UoGt9dpQbEI?t=26
Zunden turns on her side away from the door and curls slightly around the egg, shouting back to the skull at the door. "I zhought it waz Norvegicuz zhat found you, not myzelf. Bozher me more and I'll zhow you ze inzide of my Bag of Holding."
I pull the saxophone away from my lips and smile. Hey, that's pretty neato, daddy-o. I'll be a smooth talking jazz-cat in no time flat, bet your bottom bit on that. I put it back to my lips and continue switching beteen scales and the little piece I put together, not wanting to embarrass myself trying anything too complicated for now.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
It seems to take him a moment to get it. "Ohohohoho! This one still has her teeth!"
You hear thumping at the door from him trying to let himself in. "And she's fiery to boot! So! What's on your mind, Big Z? You can always talk to your best pal! Even though we've only spoken once before!"
You keep noodling, playing random notes and experimenting with combinations. You find that playing for too long tires you out, and you have to stop to catch your breath every once in a while. With time though, you're pretty confident you'll be able to play like a pro.
Zunden wraps the egg in a blanket for protection before pulling out the Fulcrum rings again, knowing full well Mercutio has likely seen what comes next.
>>712008"Oh boy! Here we go!"
You can hear him rattling his bones in anticipation as you charge your spell.
I slide up on the bed the rest of the way and lean against the wall, holding the sax in my hands. My arm is starting to ache more from holding the position for so long, and I need to catch my breath anyway. Maybe it's because I haven't been using it much, but the pain actually does seem like it's starting to go away some. All things considered Zunden did a damn good job.
I cast a brief glance toward my bag. Should I have just shut her up in there like that? Is this like a punishment or something?
I lean my head back against the wall and close my eyes. What am I even thinking? "I didn't even go to your room to make sure you didn't escape," I say. "I know it's stupid, but I went to your room because I haven't seen you out and about. I thought maybe you might be bored, so I wanted to talk. Honestly I expected to see you aroind the ship more. I did tell you you didn't have to stay cooped up in there, didn't I?"
She doesn't respond for a while. Seems she's giving you the silent treatment. She cracks eventually though. "I heard rumors of a great gathering. And once the ship landed, I felt I had to see it for myself. If you will not bend the knee to me, then someone will. I was on the verge of choosing a new champion, until YOU showed up and ruined everything."
She seems very bitter.
"Yeah. I'm sorry." I really am. It's not like I said I wouldn't help her. It's just that saging a coup in The Dominion to reinstate a disposed -probably slightly tyranical if how she acts is any indication- queen doesn't seem like the best course of action.
"I still want to help you get your body back, at least. Maybe you can smite me then. Until then, though, do you want to go for a walk and talk?"
Zunden thinks about putting on the rings and trusting in her ability to gain control of the ship on her own merit, but the thought of Mercutio commenting on a failed attempt fills her with divine determination to