No.714894[Last 50 Posts]
After having captured the bounty hunter Clawson, the party have continued onwards on their travels, reaching the fabled Swap Meet, a great gathering of drifters from all over the Echoes. They have spent some time there exploring and stocking their new ship for their future travels. However, all is not well. They have heard whispers of Skylord Lysander building a crew for his new ship, as well as premonitions from Zunden of disaster striking should they remain for too long. Thus, they have resolved to return to the Weeping City to explore it at a later date, after the more pressing issue of the Cuckoo's Egg is dealt with.
Zunden has seen fit to hire Black Pudding to cleanse their ship of the Oneiromancer's influence and hide it from prying eyes, which he has agreed to do. However, upon returning to the ship, they found themselves faced with another problem: a strange mare has arrived on their ship,carrying a horrific creature on her back, claiming to be part of their crew. Black Pudding has diagnosed it as a Squatterbloat, a lesser name-stealing demon that drains the memories of its host and those they have met. He will banish the demon, but it is a rite that will require participation from the others…
You are up in your room with Violet, avoiding Black Pudding while he is on the ship. While at first Violet was shaken by his appearance, she seems to have calmed down, and is resolute on confronting him. She feels braver while in your presence.>>714443
He nods. "Mrrrn. The last piece of confirmation. 'Tis a Squatterbloat, and a very starved one. Woe betide thee, drifter.">>714448
He nods. "In the coming days, thou shalt need as many allies as thou can scavenge, Reader. Thy path is a long and arduous one.">>714449
"She should be an empty husk by now, for all intents," says Black Pudding. "Better to die than to be left soulless and blank. She is remarkably strong to resist its influence so."
"Merely do as I say, wayfarer, and trust not any voice but mine when the rite commences.">>714443>>714448>>714449>The Scion
"…I'll also do what I can," Aurora pipes up. "Whoever you are," she says to the mare, "I feel like you were a good person, when we knew each other. Maybe even a friend. If Zunden and Rabi are willing to help you, then I am too." She keeps a stiff upper lip.
Clawson, who's been sitting by quietly this whole time, just shrugs. "Hard pass," he simply says. Aurora rolls her eyes, while Black Pudding raises an eyebrow.
"But what of the others? Violet Moon and the Rat-speaker. Three will hardly be enough to banish the Squatterbloat's grip, but if it is all we have, then we may begin the rite. Though, we fear for the life of this waif if three is all thou canst spare." He looks pointedly at Silver.
"I'll bring ze ozherz here, and I will let zhem know of ze zituation. Zhey will help, I know it." She says, to Black Pudding, letting him react before making her way down the hallway.>>714469>>714470
Zunden makes her way to Norvegicus and Violet's room, knocking on the door. "It iz Zunden, we will… need your help. Ze ztowaway iz likely not to have lied, and to remove ze creature from her, Black Pudding will need az many to help az pozzible." She pauses, still standing outside the door, "I underztand if you do not wizh to come Violet, but I have zpoken to Black Pudding and made zure he will not harm you in any way. Ztill, I know your reazonz for not wizhing to zee him, and I won't forze you to leave. Even juzt Norvegicuz will help."
Having left the equipment and notes in the main hall, I listen intently as Black pudding explains the situation, eying the mysterious stowaway warily.
"So.. you'd want us to potentially risk our lives in a ritual for the sake of this mare? As dire as this Squatterbloat sounds, i have to wonder what would happen to us should this backfire.."
"You'll help as well, dear?"
I sigh. "Why do I get the feeling this ain't gonna be fun?" I look Violet in the eye as I stand up, and hold out my hand. "Well, I guess that's our cue, then. You ready for this?"
''Thank you Aurora. After this is done, I hope we can share haikus with eachother again'' Aegis gave the mare a knowing nod before setting her sights on Black Pudding
''The other two will come, we can wait a moment longer for them''
"Got it. Though… any voice but yours? Should we expect some form of… interference?" he asks, a little concerned.>>715329
"Again, for what it's worth, sorry for the hostility."
"Yeah, I was planning to. I'm sorry to risk myself, and pressure you to risk yourself, Silver. We'll make it through fine, though." Rabi says, pulling the mare in close with ibe of his long, slender forelegs and kissing her forehead.
Black Pudding looks austere as ever. "We will await thy return," he says simply.>>714940>>714941
She stiffens up and hesitates as Zunden calls out, but takes a deep breath and gives a little nod, taking your hand and standing up. She looks determined.>>714896
After a moment of silence, Violet calls back. "We'll be right down," she calls, her voice wavering a little.>>714914
"Mistake not our words. It is not thine own lives that are on the line. Thou shalt not suffer, save perhaps for unpleasant memories. It is her very soul that is at risk. If the rite fails, she shall suffer a fate worse than death.">>715329
She does a double take as you mention her haikus, seemingly more convinced of your legitimacy. She gives you a wide eyed look and nods. "Yes. We will.">>715335
He gives the throbbing shadowy thing a long, pensive stare. "It will do whatever it can to prevent us from severing it from its host. Lies, illusions, fear, memories… Thou shalt see in due time how it deceives.">>715335>>715329>>714940>>714914>>714896
Norv and Violet descend the stairs to the brig. The latter locks eyes with Black Pudding, trembling as the large warlock stares her down. It is as if she is frozen in place.
"Violet Moon," he rasps, eyes narrowed in a bitter glare. "Our paths cross once again. Art thou contrite?"
She doesn't reply at first, clinging to Norv's arm like it's a lifeline, but eventually manages to find her voice. "W… what happened, happened," she answers. "I'm not sorry. And I'm not afraid of you."
"Thou art a frightened rabbit," he replies, looming over her. "A coward and a thief. Lie not to thineself. …Thy past sins will be overlooked, for now. We have more pressing matters to deal with."
He moves into the cell, standing behind the hapless mare, hovering an arm over the demon. "Six of us there art, then. When thou art ready to begin, step inside, and we shall commence the rite."
Glancing back at the mare, i look to you and nod.>>714895
"Ohh very well, i'll help, if only for your peace of mind." i relent, leaning into your embrace.>>715347
Following Rabi, i enter the cell, standing near the mysterious pony.
"Very well, i'm ready to continue."
Zunden gives a chafed look at Black Pudding as he calls out Violet, readying her staff and summoning a Servitor besides her.
"Right. If it iz by Fate zhat zhe haz zurvived zhiz long, zhen we are Fated to zucceed. Let uz get zhiz done wizh."
Aegis acknowledged him with a nod ''I understand. I would be skeptical in your place as well''>>715347
Aegis waited. seemingly not frightened or bothered at all by Black Pudding's words about her possible fate
I give her foreleg a gentle squeeze as she seems to freeze in place, trying to reassure her that it'll be alright. I get the feeling that it's her own strength that causes the outburst, and a small, warm feeling of pride blooms in my chest. I give her a small smirk.
I give the cell an uncomfortsble glare. "This is gonna be just as bad as that deal with the Cuckoo in the ship dream thing, ain't it?" Either way, I walk towards it, take a deep breath, and step inside.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
"Right. Then… I'll do my best." the stallion says, shaking it off and settling into the cell with Silver and the others.>>715354
"Thanks, Silver. I'd like to help where I can. I'll make it up to you, somehow." he says, kissing her snout.
>[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
[1d10] Black Pudding
Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 8 = 8 / Roll #3 6 = 6 / Roll #4 9 = 9
Roll #1 8 = 8
Though she seems too intimidated to keep lashing out at Black Pudding, she forces herself to smile back, stopping herself from trembling so much.>>715354>>715356>>715357>>715358>>715364
As you step inside, Black Pudding closes his eyes, producing a jagged stone knife. Zunden recognizes it as the one he used before. Aurora looks determined, while Violet looks uncharacteristically frightened.
"Seven are we that stand before thee, nameless accursed Squatterbloat," Black Pudding intones, hovering the knife over the creature. "We put our bodies, our minds, and our souls towards unbinding thee from this flesh and blood. Thou art compelled to release her, by way of Severance!"
He plunges the knife down into it. As soon as it makes contact, you all feel an overpowering sense of utter, nameless terror. The room is filled with eerie wordless singing and muttering whispers, seemingly with no source. The world seems to shrink, until the cell is all there is. Several smoking tendrils fly out from the Squatterbloat, writhing and lashing madly before trying to latch on to something. You all manage to avoid them, save for Rabi and Black Pudding. They latch on to their heads, and Black Pudding cries out, writhing and muttering in a tongue you don't recognize. The knife clatters to the ground.>>715364
It is a year ago. You find yourself on a desert road, bow in hand, facing an old wooden carriage. Inside is a mare, dead by an arrow to the heart. The stallion at her side clutches the body in grief, sobbing loudly.
You did this.
Aegis stood in place, looking back with eyes wide as the tendrils that came from her struck at all present. Her eyes focused on Black Pudding as he is struck
''Somepony take the knife!'' She shouted, her tone harsh and clear ''Keep plunging it until the demon bleeds out!''
Dodging the demon's flailing, i see it grip Rabi's head in the struggle.
rushing over to the Stallion, i try to pull him away from the creature's Grip!
"Rabi, no!"Roll #1 1 = 1
Zunden quickly hurries over to Black Pudding, grabbing the knife from the ground where Black Pudding is.
"W-we need to keep it up, I zhink!" Zunden says with a strong tonation despite the quiver in her voice, "I'm going to keep whatever Black Pudding ztarted going!"
She rushes towards the Squatterbloat, holding Black Pudding's dagger.
"Wizh ze power of zhoze ztill here, and by invoking ze powerz zhat be Fate, we Zever your bond wizh zhiz mare and zhoze around uz!"
Zunden clutches her locket as she stabs the demon.
>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.
My stomach sinks and my knees quake as I'm overcome with dread. My eyes flit around from person to person as an intense feeling of anxiety overcomes me. I want to help Rabi, or even Pudding, but as it is my knees threaten to buckle beneath me. This isn't going to be like the fulcrum. This is going to be worse. So much worse.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
[1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Rabi shakes his head, blinking a few times as if waking up from a dream. He looks down at the bow in his hooves for a few moments, before the sobbing snaps him out of his stupor. He shakes his head a little bit and seizes up, softly muttering to himself "No. No, no no no no.">[1d10]
"That couldn't have… I
couldn't have…"Roll #1 8 = 8
Roll #1 10 = 10 / Roll #2 10 = 10
Aurora makes for the knife, but seeing Zunden go for it, opts to hold the mare by the shoulders to keep her steady. Those of you who cling on see that Violet, Aurora, Norv and Zunden are the only ones who haven't been ensnared by it at this point.>>715380
Your head is pounding. You find yourself on the floor of a dojo, your eldest sister standing over you with a wooden practice sword in hand. Your body aches all over. You are only 6 years old.
"Again," a stern faced instructor commands. Before you can protest, Frozen Flow hauls you up on your feet, passing you your practice sword. She is bigger, older and stronger than you. It isn't fair that you should be made to train with the eldest. But it is necessary.
Flow has an odd look in her eye, almost as if confused by your weakness. "Why did you hesitate?" she asks in a biting tone. >>715381
Your brother is staring at you, eyes glazed in disbelief, stepping backwards in shock. He knows what you've done. What you've been doing all this time. "H-how many?" It's all he can think to ask. He has a look on his face like he's facing a complete monster. "Wh… Why?
I… I don't understand…">>715384
You plunge the knife into the demon, but nothing happens. It's like cutting through smoke. Several smaller tendrils spawn, making their way up your arm and trying to latch on to your head, but they seem repelled by your locket, stopping when they reach your shoulder and receding.>>715388>>715386
"Stay with me," Violet pleads, grabbing your good arm. "I'm here. I'm here." You manage to avoid getting grabbed, and so does she, though the sense of abject dread still gnaws at the back of your mind.>>715390
The world seems to distort around you for the briefest moment, like a chalk drawing smudged by a careless hand, but then it returns to normal. Enraged, the husband runs from the carriage with an animalistic wail, clumsily lunging at you with everything he has.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
Complying, Aegis picked up the sword with her mouth
''I didnt… Hesitate, I swear… I swear'' She squinted as she looked up at the mare, shivering and trembling from the pain and fear
"Ztay cloze, Aurora. It will not take uz togezher!"
Zunden says, opening the locket and standing near Aurora, moving as a group over to BP and invoking Severence yet again to try to break the creature's influence over the goo,
"Ztill we ztand in oppozition, Zquatterbloat, we put all our will and ezzenze into breaking ze bond between you and zhoze here. You will releaze zhem az iz ze way of Zeverenze!"
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
The distortion causes him to drop his bow and grip his head, grinding his train of thought to a stop for a moment or two. He shakes his head and rubs the dampness from his eyes, before opening them again to see…
"H-Hey, no! I-It was an accident, I swear!" he shouts, gripping his bow and holding it out to block his swing.>[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"This isn't… n-no, this isn't right!"
I swallow, but force a small, uncomfortable smile. "Yeah, nothing too bad is even happening, right?" I look back at everyone and grit my teeth. Taking another deep breath, I let go of Vi and run up to Silver, trying to pull her from whatever it is the thing is doing.
[1d10]avoidRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
"Why? What a complicated question, dear brother."
i ask, slowly stalking towards the sickly earth pony.
"Quashing the unwanted advances of my suitors, an extended interest in anatomy, a morbid curiosity, who's to say?"
Leaning into his muzzle, i flash a saccharine smile.
"The question we should both be asking, is what happens now? You know the truth. This can end in two ways: We part with not a breath of this leaving the room, or you could test the word of the sickly, forgotten child against the favored Heir."
"I hope you'll see the correct
Good Luck Charm for avoiding roll.
Those unaffected can see the Squatterbloat's tendrils snaking up the others' necks, extending to an impossible length, coiling and wrapping around their heads like some grotesque mummy. Rabi and Black Pudding, being the first to go, have the worst of it, their heads engulfed by a throbbing, pulsing mass of black smoke. Black Pudding's body loses its shape, melting into a shapeless pile of deep purple ichor. You can hear everything they say while under its grip.
"Varus nox," he burbles, like he's speaking underwater. "Ex haagus… ex haagus nox. En concas pravlaan mont… Injuc stelma… Alleras preben…" He lets out a quiet sob.>>715406
Frozen stands over you with practice sword in hoof, looking as stony as the instructor. She doesn't answer, instead looming over you in a combat stance and waiting for you to ready yourself before lashing out with no mercy.
A tendril snakes out, lashing out unexpectedly at your locket. The little piece of paper flutters to the ground.>roll to not get grabbed
Aurora keeps holding on, shaking the mare and trying to break the hold it has on her, while also trying to avoid getting grabbed herself.
Violet thinks fast, seeing Black Pudding as the worst affected. She grabs and pulls at the ensnaring tendrils, not thinking twice about helping her enemy.
You weren't fast enough. He barrels into you and beats you to the ground in a primal rage, punching you in the face until he can't anymore. You're dimly aware of the world around you, and you feel blood running down your face.>Rabi takes 2 wounds, helpless
Exhausted, the stallion rolls off of you and onto his back, his eyes glazed over, staring blankly up at the moon. There's nothing to say.>>715418
You pull Silver towards you with a powerful tug, and the Squatterbloat's grip is released.>>715419
He keeps backing up, almost stumbling over a chair, wheezing a little. "Insane… You're insane…" He looks around desperately for an exit, like a cornered rabbit faced by a starving wolf. He realizes how true your words are, at a loss for words. "I… I'll prove it!… I will!…" He doesn't seem to believe it himself.
He goes on to say something else, but you can't make out what. His voice is distorted, and the world blurred and smudged. Before you know it, you are back in the cell, Norv looming over you anxiously.>+2 to resist rolls from now on
You can see Black Pudding, Rabi, and the nameless mare all ensnared by the demonic thing. Zunden seems to be continuing the ritual as best she can, but is now seemingly vulnerable.Roll #1 7 + 4 = 11
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 1 = 1
/ Roll #4 2 = 2
/ Roll #5 4 = 4
Gripping the sword with her teeth, Aegis did her best to hold on against Flow's assault
Roll #1 1 = 1
I smile, only slightly relieved as I see I've pulled her out. "Pfew. I was afraid that wouldn't work. You alright?" I look around. "Actually, hold that thought." I stumble over to help Rabi.
[1d10]resistRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
Recognizing she's now in danger, Zunden commands the Servitor to strike the tendrils away from herself.
>If the Servitor fails, her roll targets herself, if it succeeds, she tries to guard Aurora.
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
snapping back to the task at hand, i look wide eyed first at the mare, then Rabi and the others.
With Norv rushing to help rabi, i push forward to the source of the havoc, in an attempt to pry the thing off of the mysterious mare!
[1d10+2] ResistRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 4 + 2 = 6
Rabi screams as the stallion slams his hooves into his face, trying to shield himself as best he can manage. By the time the stallion lets off, Rabi's vision is clouded and his ears are ringing dimly. He tries to shake it off and get to all fours, his legs wobbling weakly.
"I-I'm sorry… I-I'd never meant for it to end like this.>[1d10+2] Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
You barely manage to block a strike. She is ten times the swordsman you'll ever be, a painter who only uses red. Before you know it, you are tasting blood again. Flow covers her mouth in slight regret and helps you back up. "I'm sure you can patch that up with your magic," she says, in lieu of an apology. "It's what you're best at, isn't it?"
You suddenly find yourself back in the cell. Silver and Zunden are still in one piece, but everyone else is under attack from the thing on your neck.>>715437
You are overwhelmed by the smell of mold and rotten food as you cower in the pantry. Twelve keeps stalking about your home. "I've been more than generous, mutt. Now pay up. Ya had plenty of time!" You watch through the crack in the door as he pauses in front of the cellar, jiggling the handle with telekinesis.>>715438
Your Servitor protects you, immune as it is to the Squatterbloat's attacks, but you are not fast enough to guard Aurora. The tendrils wrap around her face as she goes limp, sobbing uncontrollably. "M-mum!!">>715439
You avoid the writhing tendrils that have spread to almost every corner of the cell. They have an iron grip on Rabi, and as you watch, Aurora, Norv and Violet are grabbed too. The latter lets out a gasp of terror, starting to shake.>>715444
The world seems to flicker again. You get back up, only to be met by a cluster of roaming horses in guards' uniforms. One of them stops you from leaving the area while the others investigate the scene. The husband raises an accusing hoof, pointing at you wordlessly. You suddenly feel all eyes on you.
Zunden rips away at the tentacles an Aurora, cutting at them as they start to take get a hold on her.
Servitor will help Zunden if she fails her dodge, help Aurora if Zunden succeeded her dodge but failed the help, or help BP if both succeeded.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
/ Roll #3 6 = 6
"Zunden! Are we all that's left?!"
In a panic, i try to Weave through the tendrils, reaching the downed Rabi in an attempt to pull him free.
"I knew this was a mistake!"
[1d10+2] resistRoll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10
My stomach churns both at the smell of mold, and the idea of twelve going down into my cellar. With the rats. I should warn him. Should just face the fact that I didn't pull in as much work as I thought I would, but there's no way he'll actually understand. I hold my breath and dig my claws into the wood of the door. If I don't take responsibility- I try as hard as I can, but my legs won't budge. My vision blurs as tears fill my eyes. I can just let him, can't I? Whatever happens- whatever happens isn't my fault. He's the one invading my home.
Aegis watched the scene unfolding before her, eyes wide in disbelief, losing her composure for a moment as the tears stream down her pale face, and her brows furl into an angry scowl
''You think that memory gives you power over me?'' Her voice cracks as she grits her teeth, and raises a hoof to her neck, pulling at the thing on her neck ''All you did was remind me, fuel the fire. You are not worthy of taking my place''
"Hold fazt! Black Pudding did not warn us of zhiz, but we cannot give up now! Pull ze ozherz free and we muzt help ze warlock free onze done zo he can finizh ze ritual!"
Zunden shouts exasperatedly, swinging the knife at the tentacles around Aurora
[1d10+2]Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
Your lungs are filled with the smell of acrid smoke. Your bow is still glowing like embers from the shot you fired, shrieks of agony and terror echoing across the moonlit desert. The stage coach begins to crumble and collapse on itself, and one by one, the screams begin to stop.
Rabi drops his bow and drops to the floor, his legs failing him as the reality sinks in. He hadn't expected the driver to be armed this time. He hadn't meant to fire off a shot so panickedly. He shakily gets back to all fours, shuffling over to the carriage and beginning to look through the wreckage.
"N-No… come on, I had to have missed someone. E-Even the driver, just… anyone? A-Anything?">[1d10+2]Roll #1 4 + 2 = 6
The Servitor keeps the demon at bay as you pull Aurora away from the tentacles. Her face wet with tears, she looks around in confusion before springing to action, trying to help Norv.
You pull and heave as you try to free Rabi, loosening its grip somewhat, but not enough just yet.>>715457
You stand by and watch as he forces the door open. "I've got ya now, mutt…" He pauses in confusion as he sees one rat, then another, and another. There is a brief, almost comical pause as he takes in the scene, then he set upon by hundreds and hundreds of gnawing teeth, scrabbling claws, and piercing shrieks. He yells inarticulately and falls to the floor, the swarm overwhelming him, ripping and tearing at his flesh and burrowing under his clothes.>>715458
You feel its grip weaken as you set your mind against it, rejecting its hold on you and your companions. It is stubborn, however, and, while weakened, it is still in control.>everyone gets +1 to aid and resist rolls>>715467
You run over to it, picking through whatever's left. The flames ward you off from being able to pick through much, but what you do see makes your stomach roil. The occupants of the carriage are barely recognizable any more, burned almost to cinders by the magical flames. Several of them seem to have been killed by the smoke, rather than the fire, burning after the fact. The stench of burning flesh makes you gag. The only one left is the driver at the front, staring blankly in a state of shock, covered in dust and horrific burns. Shaking, his gaze turns to you, looking through you, eyes glazed over.Roll #1 5 + 2 = 7
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
I feel a lump in my throat as the wave of rats engulfs him, and burst out of the pantry. "No!" I shout, grabbing my suit coat on the way. "No, this wasn't supposed to happen!" I brush at the rats with my coat, but not too hard for fear of hurting them. "This is your fault!" I shout. "A couple more days. You couldn't wait just a couple more days to collect. It isn't my fault!" I keep brushing and swatting at the rats but I can tell its already too late. Just looking at his- good goddesses, his eye. I feel like I'm going to be sick.
Zunden grits her teeth and swaps to her staff, using it to physically pry away at the tentacles holding the goo warlock as her Servitor helps.
[1d10+1] Servitor Help (Priority order: Zunden, then BP, then any other captive party member)Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 6 + 2 = 8
/ Roll #3 2 + 1 = 3
Aegis's expression returns to its usual self as she calms down, seemingly confident this is already won
She raises her eyes to the situation, and her eyes turn to Aurora and Norv
after a moment, her shield glows, and she began casting a spell she still remembered, although in a much weaker form. How could she forget? It was muscle memory at this point
She aimed it at Norv, not trying to hurt him, but hoping the snowball would snap him out
'2d10' magic bolt, iceRoll #1 2, 6 = 8
Regretting my lack of shivs from the bustle of the day, i continue to try and rip Rabi free!
[1d10+1] Assist, Rabi
[1d10+3] resistRoll #1 2 + 1 = 3
/ Roll #2 10 + 3 = 13
Rabi's eyes settle on the driver, his legs shaking a little as he continues to try and come to grips with what happened. After a few moments, he manages to collect himself enough to drop a canteen, and a pack of food at the stallion's feet.
"G-Gotta… I gotta talk to someone. I-I'm sorry, I… I need to go.">[1d10+2]Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
You have to suppress an urge to vomit as you see what they've done to him. He's only barely alive at this point, the rats having torn him to shreds. His eye has been annihilated, and his limbs and body are littered with misshapen holes where the rats bored in, even leaving bits of exposed bone here and there. Strips of flesh hang loosely from his face, his breathing shallow and uneven. There is a knock on the door from what are presumably the local guards. Twelve flails about, his remaining eye glazed and unfocused, trying to form words.
You suddenly find yourself back in the cell. The situation seems pretty grim from what you can see, though Black Pudding is back in action, looking frighteningly angry.>>715471
You pry loose the snaking tendrils, releasing Black Pudding from its grip. At first he does not move; then, his form begins to twitch, and he rears up to his full, formidable height, melding himself into a menacing snakelike form. His face is a mask of determination and rage. He looks to you briefly and nods in thanks before reaching for his own staff.>>715472
It seems to work. The tendrils retreat, and Norv comes to.>>715473
You fail to free Rabi once again.>>715474
He offers you no response save for a blank stare. You can still feel his eyes on you as you leave the area, heading towards the nearest town, about half a mile away.>>715473>>715472>>715471>>715470
Black Pudding, looking outright furious, takes up his staff, moving over to the scrap of paper that fell out of Zunden's locket. With a scowl, he begins to thump the staff over it, the sound echoing much louder than it should, resonating like a war drum. Smoke begins to fill the room as he chants in an ancient tongue, continuing to repeat the same action. The Squatterbloat writhes as if in pain. "Thou art compelled to leave this place! We seven put our hearts and minds and souls towards thy banishment! Return to whence thou cam'st!"
"Take the knife!" he commands whoever's listening. "Stab the thing over the rune on yonder scrap!">>715474
Suddenly, the world seems to warp around you, if only for a moment. Is this real? It feels so odd all of a sudden, like a dream, or a nightmare.>roll to break free of the memories
Seeing Black Pudding finally getting up, along with the rest of the group, Aegis stood still, waiting for it to be over. All she had to do now is close her eyes and maintain her focus
The next hour or two is a blur. Rabi stops in at his makeshift home on the edge of town, and wordlessly wraps his younger siblings up in a hug.
"Be safe. I… I have to go, now. You know where my stash is." he mumbles, before stepping out, and heading for town.
He shakes his head a little bit as he steps back out into the sun, feeling an odd sense of… vertigo? deja vu? Something… something is off.>[1d10+2]Roll #1 6 + 2 = 8
I drop to my knees as the memory fades away. I knew was bad, but I'd forgotten just how bad it was. I weakly look around at everyone else. So many of us were caught. My eyes fall on Violet and I scramble over to her on my hands and knees, trying to help her.
[1d10+3]Roll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 10 + 3 = 13
hearing the mage's urging, i jump for the knife, ready to strike the rune!
[1d10+3] ResistRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 1 + 3 = 4
Zunden and her Servitor protect Silver as she stabs at the demon, making sure she's in interrupted
[1d10+1] Servitor Help (Priority order: Silver, then Zunden)Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 4 + 2 = 6
/ Roll #3 1 + 1 = 2
"Where are you going?" the youngest asks, wide eyed. "Can I come?" says the middle one. Only the eldest seems to understand the implication.
You look at the world with eyes anew. You aren't in the desert at all. You're back in the Echoes, on the ship with everyone else. The Squatterbloat seems to be faltering now.>>715478
Violet snaps out of it, looking terrified for a second and jumping away from you, covering her eye; then she comes to, and pauses before swinging out at the tentacles all around the cell with her kukri.>>715479>>715480>>715478>>715477>>715476
The eye shaped rune on the scrap of paper glows blinding white as Silver stabs at the tentacles over it. A horrific, noxious stench of sulfur and rotting meat fills the air. A strong wind starts howling, and the tentacles spread to every wall and every corner of the cell in a desperate attempt, no longer trying to trap you in your minds but physically assaulting anyone nearby. Black Pudding keeps chanting, holding steady and swiping at the tentacles with his staff. "Tartaric fiend, begone from this vessel! The power of Severance compels you! The power of Severance compels you! The power of Severance compels you!"
[1d10+2] Attacking everyoneRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
dagger gripped in my muzzle, i bring the blade down once again as it lashes aggressively around me!
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Looking down at herself, Aegis mutters ''The power of Severance compels you, the power… Of Severance compels you'' She parrots BP in his attempts, unphazed by the violent lashing tendrils around her
I manage to tear my eyes away from Violet quick enough to see the thing lashing out. I try to scramble to my feet and away from the lashing tendrils.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
Zunden guards Aurora from the flailing tentacles, standing stalwart as BP finishes his exorcism.
Rabi squeezes his eyes shot to shield himself from the sun, and when he opens them…
The Saddle Arabian would almost shout for joy when he found himself back on the boat, his eyes are immediately drawn to the monster. He grips his bow and hisses, before trying to take a shot at it.>Magic Bow: [1d10+2] (Fire)Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
You plunge the dagger deep into the creature, pinning it to the wooden floor through the scrap of paper. It contorts and bulges hideously, the eerie wordless singing reaching a fever pitch, screeching and shrieking like a newborn.>>715486
You fire a shot at the spreading tendrils. The fire douses almost as soon as the shot lands, but the damage is done.>>715482>>715483>>715484>>715485>>715486
There is a sound like sizzling meat, and the tentacles keep spreading. The room goes black, and then darker still. You hear a faint snap
, like a breaking bone.
Your vision returns. Aegis Glaze finds herself slumped on the floor, free at last from the Squatterbloat's grip. You are all thoroughly exhausted; Aurora is curled up in a corner with her head bowed, while Violet is blinking and looking around in confusion. Black Pudding, however, is staring angrily down at a tiny, wriggling black worm on the floor, which is writhing haphazardly trying to get its bearings. "It is done," he states, his voice shaking. "Crush it underhoof if it is thine desire. It will trouble thee no longer."
He looks to Aegis. "We know thy face. …Thine impertinence is not forgotten. …But it is forgiven." Aurora blinks as she too recognizes Aegis, rushing over to her and giving her a rather strong hug, but quickly pulls away. "…Are you alright? It's… It's over now. I think."
Aegis slowly got up to her hooves, her eyes were red and puffy,clear sign that she has been crying. However she maintained her usual demeanor as she looked up to Black Pudding, nodding solemly at his words before turning to Aurora and weakly returning the hug ''I apologize for all the trouble I caused, Aurora… To everyone''
She turns back to BP ''And to you as well, Master Black Pudding. I never once intended to offend you, but I acknowledge that I have spoken things that would be better left unsaid. Please understand, I have just arrived in this realm and was desperate for a way out''
"Please," says Violet warmly, looking relieved it's over. "The important thing is that you're safe now. You're one of us now. We look after our kind. No matter what." She pats you on the shoulder and gives you a reassuring smile. "As far as burdens go," she jokes, "I've seen far worse."
Black Pudding regards you sternly. "It is understandable," he answers, sounding a bit hoarser than usual. "Thou art inquisitive, and headstrong. It is only natural to wish to seize any opportunity to return home. Dwell not on it. Thou art not an enemy to us."
Aurora looks you up and down with genuine concern. "Are you sure you're alright? Anything I can do to help? I could heal you if you need it."
With a final nod to BP, Aegis tries to gently pull away from Aurora's grip before she begins wiping the dried tears on her face ''I will be fine, I only need a glass of water, and to sit down for a moment, thank you, both of you. I will not forget this debt''
"Don't call it a debt," says Violet calmly. "Any of us would have done the same for each other. No one gets left behind. Not if I can help it." She straightens up a little, moving back towards Norv with a happy smile.
"Thou art in no debt to us," says Black Pudding. "This is part of the bargain we struck with the Reader. She will be the one indebted." He gives Zunden a sidelong glance.
''I understand'' Aegis replies weakly, moving towards the kitchen to freshen up
''Am I still looking like a mess?'' She questions Aurora
I return Violet's smile with a less sure smile of my own and wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. "Yep," I say. "Definitely worse than the fulcrum." I close my eyes and take a deep breath. >>715491
"Well, at least that's taken care of now. Ms.Glaze." I rub the back of my head and glance away. "I, uh… don't remember your first name, but that's probably not because of the demon. Sorry."
I give Silver a quick sidelong glance, but try to hide it. I'm sure she just took a vested interest in science that her family disagreed with becsuse she was supposed to do assassin things, right? I mean surely she didn't enjoy
the killing. It was just something impersonal she had do do, like my job. Only- I swallow. Only with ponies. Right?
Zunden nods and holds up her marked claw in recognition, a gesture mostly intended to only have meaning for Black Pudding, given she wears the glove over the mark of Union.
"Nor enemiez wizh Violet Moon, I truzt. Let uz do away wizh zquabblez, it waz not a azpect of our bargin." She looks at the shaken individuals around her, "Zhough neizher waz zhiz demon. I would zhink it'd prove a rare reagent for Carnifex to claim, would it not? Perhapz it could be uzed az payment your aid."
Zunden goes to pick up the paper charm from the floor, placing it between back in the locket, "It zertainly doez zeem Fate waz on our zide, zhough. What an improbable night.">>715489
Zunden gives a faint smile to Aegis, recognizing her again,
"Ah, how ztrange it iz to zee you for who you are again. Memoriez have returned, however zparze zhey are. I am glad you are zafe zhough, Aegiz Glaze. I mozt zertainly prefer you az you are now zhan if you had been taken by ze Zquatterbloat."
panting from exhaustion, i drop the knife before taking a seat on the wooden floor of the brig.
"So.. it's over, then. lovely." i manage to get out between pulls of air.
''Aegis Glaze'' She replies swiftly ''As I am your subordinate, you do not have to worry about formalities, call me simply Aegis, or whatever else you like, Mister Norvegicus'' >>715495
''I appreciate your words, Miss Zunden. You and Aurora have made me feel welcome, and your willingness to go through this ordeal honors me'' She bowed her head
Rabi slumps back on to his haunches with a huff, beforr taking a few moments to catch his breath and rub his eyes. He re-opens them and looks over Aegis, before blinking a couple of times and offering a soft smile. "Glad you're alright, at least. None of that curse stuff stuck, did it?">>715496
Rabi gets to his hooves shakily and trots over to Silver, before pulling her into a soft hug. "That was… a bit more taxing than I thought, but… at least it's over. I-I hope it was more pleasant for you than it was for me."
I let out a soft chuckle. "You're a member of the group now. That's hardly being my subordinate. Alright, though, Aegis. You can just call me Norv if you want. Most folks do."
Seeing you back to normal, i tearily push myself into your hug, nearly bowling us both over.
"Rabi, you're okay!"
"Ohh i don't know whether i should kiss you or slap you! You've gone and placed yourself into danger again, first the beast, now this. What will i ever do with you?"
Aurora follows you upstairs. "A little," she says. "You've still got red on you." She gets you a glass of water, as you requested before. "…If… If you ever want to talk about it, I'm here. About what just happened, I mean. If you don't want to, I won't pry.">>715494
"Hey," she says quietly. "It's alright. It's over now." She leans into you a little for comfort, looking shaken herself despite putting on her happy face.
She notices your glance at Silver, giving you a wordless meaningful look. You feel like the same thing is running through your heads; Silver isn't who you thought she was at all.>>715495
Black Pudding gives Violet a hard glare, and she returns it with wordless defiance, setting her jaw. "Thy transgression shall not be forgotten," he says coldly to her.
"I'm not asking for forgiveness," she answers, her voice shaking a little. "I just… I just want to move on. It's in the past. Isn't it?"
Black Pudding considers this. "…I suppose it is. Let us put this behind us, for now." Violet nods, staring at him with dislike. Both seem willing to get on with their lives, rather than dwell on it.
He considers your suggestion. "We had hoped to be able to trap it in its natural form, not in this weakened state. But it shall have to suffice." He produces a glass jar, scooping up the floundering, snapping thing and sealing it away for later.
"Now. There is a more pressing matter at hand. Show us the stain, Reader, and I will cleanse it.">>715496
Violet nods. "Seems that way. Fingers crossed, if I had any." You notice she gives you an odd look for a moment.>>715498
"The Squatterbloat has been severed from its host," he explains, examining the worm-like creature in the glass jar. "It is utterly powerless now."
"A-Ack!" the stallion shouts as he's bowled over.
"B-Both? I'd be fine getting slapped for that, honestly." he mumbles, resting his head atop hers and closing his eyes. "Did it get to you, too? I didn't grt a chance to see.">>715501
"Good. Maybe just smash the thing and be done with it, then? I don't like the idea of something like that hanging around."
''If that's what you'd like, very well then, Mister Norv… No, I mean Norv''>>715501
''There isnt much to talk about this subject. I would rather we learn from this experience and ultimately leave it behind''
She eagerly empties the glass ''What I would like to know is how are you feeling, Aurora. I saw you sobbing during that ordeal. The demon has gotten to you hasnt it?''
"Goodness yes! It was as if i was in the family manor, speaking with my brother again, quite eerie.."
"It's all past us now, at least. Aegis has her life back and we're none the worse for wear.." i add, resting my head against your neck.
Zunden nods, seemingly satisfied with the result, "Will we need ze ozherz for zhiz az well? I'd prefer if zhey'd be able to recover after zhat, but if not I'll let zhem know."
Zunden says, guiding him to the spot if that isn't the case.
I give her a small, approving nod. "Good. Now if that's it I think I'm going to go relax a bit after- well, after that
"You wanna join me, Vi? Or you still have some stuff to do here?"
He shakes his head. "This is an opportunity we cannot pass up. A Squatterbloat is one of the rarest finds of all. It would be folly not to take the opportunity to acquire newfound knowledge.">>715503
You feel much better after refreshing yourself with a glass of water.
"It… it showed me things I try not to dwell on. Bad memories. You know how it goes. I'm guessing it did the same for you.">>715505
"On the contrary. We require privacy. It will take some time. Merely leave us to the task, and we shall see it done."
As he follows you into the cargo hold, he stiffens, looking confused by whatever he's experiencing. "…Interesting. Very interesting." He observes the black, smoking stain on the floor. "Ah, so. This is the center of it all… This will take longer than we had anticipated. Leave us to our work. We shall notify thee when the deed is done."
"…Yeah. I'll come with you." She looks bothered by something, following you out.
''As you wish''>>715507
''Yes it did. Again I apologize you had to go through those memories for my sake. Now lets not dwell on this subject for any longer. I still wanted to do one more thing at the Swap Meet before the Demon had its grasp on me, do you think there is still time?''
Zunden nods. "I will dizconnect myzelf from ze Zanctuary zhen. I would prezume zhere could be zome zort of backlazh if I waz ztill connected to ze zhip during it."
Zunden begins to walk out of the room, turning around, "I will be making a meal for zhoze aboard, zhen. If I am not done by time you are finizhed, zhen I will be down ze hallway and ze zecond door to ze right."
I wait until we're back in our room, plop down on the bed, and sigh. "I could be wrong, but I get the feeling we're thinking about the same thing."
Aurora doesn't seem to hear you at first. "Hm? Oh. Yeah, sure. Seems a bit late to be going to the Meet, but who knows really. Might be a bit different going there after dark. What do you want to do?">>715510
Black Pudding nods sagely. "It will be a matter of hours. Until then, I ask that I am not disturbed. This process is very delicate." You see a rare expression on his face, almost of hesitation, perhaps even fear. He turns away from you hastily to face the stain, clutching his staff tightly.>>715511
She sits on the bed next to you, undoing her braid. "I always thought there was more to her than just some city mare," she says with a concerned frown. "But… Well, she's not what we thought, is she. I… I don't know what to do. I mean, part of me hopes she's changed since, but… I'm worried about her. About Rabi too. He didn't hear what… what we heard. …What are we going to do?"
The Crystal mare turns to Rabi, dirty with some stains of blood''No, it doesnt seem like it. But I cannot tell for sure. If anything the demon could have succesfully taken over and the real Aegis ceased to exist'' She says without a hint of emotion in her voice
''If you want to be sure you should ask Black Pudding''
"Mhmm. I might need to go… think about things, for a bit. But, no worse for it." he says, gently nuzzling against Silver's snout.
"…Say, you had something planned today, didn't you? I hope this all didn't throw it off.">>715507
"Mmm… you're not going to go… throwing that on anyone, are you?">>715509
"Yeah, I'm sure there is. I was going to go grab a bow before we left. Or, the supplies to make one, at least."
''Its something simple this time. I want to buy some products for my mane and coat. I want to clean this blood off of me and I'm afraid just water and soap wont be enough, so I figured it would be best to buy whatever I will need while there is a chance. Would you like to come with me?''>>715514
''I see. Either way I will make haste, and avoid any further encounters with the eldritch''
"Of course not," he answers, sounding slightly irritated. "It is too valuable to waste like thus."
She starts. "Mane products? That's… mundane. I thought you'd be after something else. I'll come with you, sure. Don't really have anything better to do."
I lean back and sigh. "I don't know. I already knew she was a little more-" I pause and clear my throat. "[i]intense[i/] than she was letting on, but that was something else entirely. She's been with us this long and hasn't been anything but a friend, and a pretty damn helpful one at that. Do you think maybe we should just forget about it?"
"Mmh.. as much as i'd like to reveal the surprise, our time table has been pushed forward, i'm afraid. We need to work fast if we're to halt whatever Lysander is planning."
"For now, i'll have to ready my mixing room, Black pudding and his associate were able to part with equipment for a proper lab, it should be ample tools to make some more effective poison down the line."
"Besides, we'll have plenty of time for it once we've begun travel towards the desert.">>715512
Taking a moment more with Rabi, i reluctantly get back up and make my way towards the bundled lab equipment, beginning the process of moving it further into the ship, away from the bunks. "Time to see just what i'm working with.."
"I don't think that's something you can just forget. …I mean, it's in the past, I guess? She's different now, sure. But… we all got faced with some horrific memories, but… she didn't seem affected at all. That… that's terrifying."
Aegis turned back to face Aurora ''It is important to keep a good appearance and health both in the inside and the outside. I disagree that maintainig good looks is mundane. To keep the morale and self-esteem high is a skill as important as many'' She reassured, leaning a bit close to the Bat
"Ztay zafe, warlock." Zunden says, looking worried for Black Pudding.
Zunden heads to the kitchen, seeing the two mares there.
"Ah, Aurora and Aegiz. I didn't get to azk, are you alright Aurora? I tried to keep ze tentaclez off you but ze beat me for a brief moment of time. I'm zorry.">>715515
She turns to the crystal pony, apparently having caught the last bit of the conversation,
"Ah, you know, I did manage to pick up a couple curiouz objectz zhat may help wizh zhat need." She fumbles in her bag of holding, pulling out a tin of green speckled soap.
"Apparently, it can take ze zcent of whatever ze uzer wizhez. You're free to uze it if you'd like, juzt perhapz not ze whole bar."
"Oh, a poison lab? That sounds… kind of interesting, actually. Could I sit in and watch sometime?" he asks, hopping up and following after her "I'd offer now, but I think I'm going to go have a seat and mull some stuff over.">>715516
"Cool. I guess there's no harm in keeping it, then."
Aegis eyed the item, drawn by curiosity ''A neat item, with a deceptively great potential. I appreciate the offer, Miss Zunden, but I would not be able to use this simply to exude a specific smell. I will find a simple common soap to do that''
"Of course, dear! Just be sure to be careful around the equipment, some reactions may have unexpected results, we wouldn't want to make you sick!"
I fall silent for a moment. That's a good point. "I hadn't even thought about that. Just what she said. I guess that is pretty messed up. You don't think the demon just sent us back to the last major memory before we came here, do you? Amd that just happened to be horrific for most of us? I was back there, hiding in my pantry before Twelve-" I shake my head. "Before what happened happened. I don't know. Maybe I'm just making excuses."
You examine the equipment you got from Carnifex. It consists of a variety of tools; a burner, an alembic, a mortar and pestle, bottles and vials, a distillery stand, a crucible, and a firestarter, among others. The notes consist of dense, academic treatises on various flora and fauna in the Echoes, and how their vital components can be used in the crafting of potions. There are also instructions on proper alchemy, detailing how to potentially create a homunculus.
You find that your own poisons now have a much more vibrant hue to them, and different consistencies than before. They seem much more potent than before. Whatever Carnifex did to them, they appear much more effective.>+1 to Rupture, Blind and Sleep Serum - permanently!
She blinks in surprise as you lean in a bit, unsure of what you're doing. "I… I suppose you're right. I've never really been much for fashion or makeup or anything like that, but first impressions are important.">>715522
"Hey, Zunden. I'll… I'll be alright. Thanks for asking." She smiles at you. "It just showed me something I'd rather not think about, is all. How about you? Are you okay? It didn't get you, did it?"
''You are correct'' She pulls away and nods ''It is important that you make yourself seem important, desirable and reliable, not just for your sake, but to inspire others around you as well. This is what I always have been told''
With that Aegis starts making her way out of the ship
''If you'd like, I could help you in this matter as well''
"I hope so. Otherwise… well, either way. I don't know if we should talk to her about it, or what. …Anyway. Are you okay? I think we all went to a pretty dark place, didn't we. Do you need anything?"
"Goodness.." i mutter "These notes are far more thorough than i thought.."
claiming an empty room, i take the time to set up the equipment and sort the notes into my bookcase, for further study.
She looks wide eyed as she follows you out. "Are… are you saying I'm not attractive?…"
The Meet looks rather different at night. The stalls seem to be huddled closer together, and the tunnel is illuminated by a combination of candles, lanterns, flames and mystical floating lights. It is essentially a large, densely packed night market, though the crowd seems a bit thinner during the night. Food stalls are much more common at this hour, selling all sorts of exotic dishes for dinner. You see all manner of clothes, tools, books, souvenirs and artifacts being offered on every corner. >DC to navigate the Meet lowered by 2 during the night market
"Fair enough, ze tinz do zay ze can zmell like anyzhing
zhough. I do not know how effective zhat can be, but enchantmentz can be more uzeful zhan you might zhink. What if you willed it to zmell like ze oppozite of blood, whatever zhat zmell iz?" She chuckles.>>715528
"It didn't, ze charm I put in my locket protected my until ze Zervitor could take over. Ztill, I'm zorry I hadn't zhought to uze ze Zervitor zooner."
I slide over to the edge of the bed and hang my legs over it, folding my hands in my lap. "I'm sure I'll be fine," I say. "It's not like I was the one torn apart by a horde of rats, and it wasn't my fault. It's just-" I trail off, not looking up at her. "I think maybe I forgot just how bad it was. I thought I hadn't. The thought still pops up in my mind, so I'd assumed that I'd always remember, but if that thing triggered an actual memory and didn't warp anything… Well, it was worse than I remembered."
"Alright! I'll come check it out in just a little bit." the stallion says, heading off towards his and Silver's room.
One there, the stallion settles on the bed, eyes closed. He takes a few minutes to think over the whole encounter, before deciding to do a little bit of Astral Projection. It's been long enough anyways, right?>I don't kneed to roll for this, yeah?
You go about your business setting up the room. It looks kind of like a drug lab by the time you're done putting everything up. It's a little messy, but there is method to it. Organized chaos.
"I-it's fine. Really. I'm fine." She forces another smile. "…Thanks. For everything, I mean. We couldn't have done any of this without you, you know."
''The opposite, I'm saying that I could help bring out the beauty that lies within you. You are already a very charming mare, Aurora, but beauty is not all about looks, it is also about attitude''
Enjoying the fact that the meet is much more manageable during the night, Aegis carefully weaved through the people and shops, looking for somewhere selling self-care products>>715533
''I'm sure the smell produced would be based on what you perceive as the opposite of blood. What blood means to you and how you would describe its smell. Then it would revert those to make your desired scent''
Roll #1 10 = 10
She frowns. "It wasn't your fault, you know. From what you've told me, that creep had it coming anyway. And hey, he's still alive, right? And he's back in the Dominion, and you're here. With me! So he can't hurt you. …I'm not helping much, am I. Sorry. You know I'm not good at this." She looks uncomfortable.
Zunden laughs heartily, "I've heard zhat far too much from you Aurora, haven't I told you in ze pazt to ztop zaying zhingz like zhat?"
She looks about the kitchen, now restocked. She crosses her arms, "I don't want anyzhing fanzy, but I zhink a warm meal might help after you all were zubject to zhoze vizionz. Would you want to make zome tomato zoup wizh me?"
You settle in your room and focus, departing your physical form for a time. You are still not fully accustomed to the sight of your own sleeping body.
Something is wrong. You get the feeling you are being watched.
There is someone else here. Downstairs, in the cargo hold. You can see him through the walls. A dark, shadowy figure, cloaked in black, hunched over, browbeaten.
He can see you too, though he doesn't have a face. An orb of pure black rests in his hands. He clutches it it to his chest, as if protecting a child. He doesn't say anything. He just stares at you, in your ghostly form.
It's as if he wants something from you.
I chuckle, smile, and lean my head on her. "No, you're probably right. Chances are I'll never even see him again. How about you? You doing alright?"
"Oh. Well… thanks. I don't really… like my looks very much, but… if you think you can help, then why not." She looks apprehensive, but also a little excited at the idea.>>715539
You manage to find a very odd looking stall with a variety of pleasant fragrances. The shelves are lined with blocks of multicolored materials in vibrant whites, blues, pinks, reds and greens. Closer inspection reveals that they are soaps, but unlike any you've ever seen before. There are creams, shampoos, and even bath bombs available. The mare at the counter looks bored as she weighs a huge block of what looks like honey scented soap, but perks up as you enter, bustling over to you. "Hi there! Looking for something in particular?">assume they have whatever you're after
"Sorry. But it's true though!"
"Oh. I was about to head out with Aegis, sorry. She wants to go pick up some things. Maybe one of the others would want to help though?"
Rabi shakes his head and lets out a soft sigh, trying to push the sight of his own unconscious body out of the way. It doesn't take him long to get the feeling that, for once, he's not alone.
The stallion floats his way down, further into the ship, looking for the source of the 'watching' sensation. Upon finding the bizarre, cloaked figure, the stallion comes to a stop and instinctively reaches for his bow- even if it's not really there.
"Who… who're you?"
"Oh of courze, I won't keep you zhen."
She waves a claw, letting Aurora head out as she starts pulling out ingredients for soup and sandwiches.
"Yeah. I'll be fine. Just… it showed me something from… from one of my travels. It was… it was pretty terrifying. I don't really want to talk about it. Sorry. I'm just glad it's over."
"Yeah. I'll be fine. Just… it showed me something from… from one of my travels. It was… it was pretty terrifying. I don't really want to talk about it. Sorry. I'm just glad it's over."
''What do you not like about your looks?'' Aegis asks, straight to the point as she looks over the stall, turning her eyes to the mare
''Shampoo, soaps, oils for my coat… I also would like something for hooficulture and a mane brush''
Having finished setting up the lab, i make my way to the kitchen, to check on Zunden.
"Thanks. If you're still busy when we get back, I'll lend you a hoof, okay?"
As you start preparing, Silver enters the kitchen.>>715551
You find Zunden hard at work preparing dinner for the evening. Looks like tomato soup.
"Don't worry, I understand completely. Best not to force yourself to relive stuff like that. On that note, I guess we're headed back to the sands after this. That's gonna be weird."
There is a long, deafening silence as the hooded figure stares at you, unmoving. The world seems to dim around it.Curiosity.You See that whichdoes not exist.What do you seek?Knowledge?Power?Freedom?Or somethingtrulyinteresting?
Entering the kitchen, i look over Zunden's shoulder to see what she's cooking.>>715548
"Ooh, looks lovely so far! would i be able to help?"
She seems a bit taken aback by your forwardness, struggling to find an answer. "…..Ears, really. They're too… too big. I don't like them. Not that it matters. I've never really had to rely on my looks."
"We have plenty of all of them! Take your pick!" The mare shows you around the stall, pointing out a variety of different care products that might suit your interests. Most of what they sell here is magical in nature, derived from materials only found in the Echoes. The magical formulae in each product, as the vendor explains, guarantees a completely clean coat and a fresh scent every time. You can pick from the following scents:>Honey>Roses>Berries>Nuts>Mint>Vanilla>Lime
Each kit costs 20 bits, while a hoof care kit and a manebrush would cost 15 and 5 respectively.
Rabi stays locked in place, with a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look at the figure. After a few moments, he finally asks "Something… interesting? What?"
"Yeah. I'm just hoping this goes well, really. Not that anything ever does, haha. But, you know. If we can just get the egg and hide it, that'll be one less thing to worry about. Right? …And uh, I'm not really sure what we're going to do about Discord, either. Part of me thinks he might not even be there when we get back. Which would be a whole other can of worms. I dunno. Maybe I worry too much. Do you think so?"
''They are a bit long. The biggest I've seen in a pony for sure'' She comments, glancing back at Aurora and looking up at her ears ''But that is not necessarily a bad trait. It could even be your most attractive feature… Why dont you like them?''
Aegis asks, balancing her attention between Aurora and the mare as she picked out her products
In the end she took the mint scent kit and the hoof care and brush as well
''Two more things. A toothbrush, and something for saurians, do you have that? I want to gift a friend of mine''
"Oh, if you wanted, zure zhing. Were you going to make your err…" She checks outside the hallways real quick, confirming Rabi isn't out there, "zhing for Rabi? I waz juzt making zoup for everyone elze if you were."
"Yeah, that'd be trouble. A couple months ago I would have said yeah, you probably do, but after everything we've been through? It'd probably be silly not to worry." I pick my sax up from beside the bed and play with the keys without actually blowing in it. "Seems like it's one thing after another. Even when it seems like we'll get a chance to relax, like back in Braildorn, something always pops up. If I were smarter I'd be paranoid too."
"Not quite yet, i'm holding hope for that starlit dinner, once we've cleared the weeping city's gloomy skies."
"Well, that and the ritual business has really put a damper on the mood, less than ideal as you could imagine."
>>715557https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6twHZCfGtQRebirth.It is inevitable.The egg you seek.That you and your companions seek.It will hatch.Open the doorto a new world.The old onethe current onewill face deathbeyond death.Annihilation.
It seems to grow closer to you. You suddenly realize you are standing in pitch blackness. It is only you and what can only be the Oneiromancer.Annihilation.It cannot be stopped.Do not contain it.
"Gee, thanks," she says, blushing a little and looking away. "They… well, they draw attention, don't they. Ah, never mind. Stupid to dwell on it anyway. Forget I said anything."
"Sure, we have things for two-legged folk." She shows you a little tub of scale wax and claw clippers. Both together cost 10 bits, and the toothbrush 2.
She looks at the sax curiously. "Why'd you buy that, anyway? You really going to learn? That'd be… something. Haha."
She dwells on your words. "…It's never going to stop, is it," she says a little glumly. "Not until someone dies. I… I did this, didn't I," she muses. "Lysander. I never should have left him. I… Gods, I created a monster…" She holds her head in her hands hopelessly.
"Az I heard. Ze majority of you all zounded quite diztrezzed while ze demon had you, everyone waz talking outloud az if zhey were really in zheir vizionz. I figured zome warm zoup might help."
She gestures to some bread and cheese out, "And zomezhing I picked up in ze Dominion, apparently many like zhiz 'grilled cheeze' zandwich. If you wanted to help, you could azzemble zome of zhoze."
Rabi attempts to take a few steps back, trying to summon up the magic to blast the oneiromancer (which, I don't think I can do either).
"I'm not going to take it lying down, at the least. I've still got plenty in the old world I care enough about."
"Well, I'm gonna try at least. Not many things I'm good at so I ain't getting my hopes up, but I think it'd be neat."
I quickly set the sax down and put an arm around her. "Hey, hey, none of that now. It ain't your fault. What were you supposed to do? Stick around and freeze to death? The creep is obsessed- and I mean obsessed
with you. You didn't ask for that. You don't control his actions. I feel like with his attitude where he is is where he woulda ended up anyway."
"Really, oh my. I'd imagine it must have been quite traumatic for the others, something warm should be helpful indeed."
stepping up to the counter, i grab a knife and begin slicing for sandwiches, careful not to cut too thick. "I shouldn't pry, but i do wonder what the others were going through.."
"I waz zlightly curiouz about ze zame zhing, but mozt of zhem zeemed like zenzitive zubjectz. You zeemed razher calm zhough." Zunden says, preparing the soup.
Aegis turned to Aurora, staring at her in silence for a second ''I'm sorry''
She picks out the bits needed for payment, looking away to the other mare
''I'll take them both'' She says, looking at her bag and noting it was pratically empty at this point
You try to step away, but the Oneiromancer seems to be all there is. Despite being incorporeal, you feel a deathly chill. Your magic fails you.Family.A fleeting concept.You have a loathsome attachment.Seer.
You are floating further and further from shore.
You are drifting out to sea.
Into the darker.
And beyond are things
blind and writhing and terrible.
You cannot prevent it.
You are meat
You are atoms.
And the atoms are not caring
if you are existing.
"S-So, what. Just destroying everything with that egg's better than at least trying to prevent whatever 'it' is?" he asks, mulling over severing the connection now. It's worth learning a little more, at least.
"And, I mean… maybe family is fleeting, or irrational. I don't really care, though. It's the only thing that's ever really mattered to me."
>>715675Soon family is dying.Soon family is rotting.Seer.Know this second thing.
You hear the crashing of waves. You find yourself standing above a midnight ocean, cold and dark and unforgiving. The Oneiromancer is there, grey feathery wings spread wide. The black form in his hands has taken on the familiar shape of an egg.The Egg is the holeat the center of everything.I have seen it begin to stir.Soon it will hatch.Soon it will grow.Soon it will fly.And you are not escaping.There is no reasonto prolong it.You will accomplish nothing.Because you cannot accomplish anything.Because the universe will forget youjust as the universe has been forgotten.
Rabi tries to push the chilling sensation out of his head, wanting to be ready to sever the projection at a moment's notice. "So… if all of this is pointless, and we don't matter… what are you doing here, anyways? What's the point of this?" he asks.
You are in a tower made of obsidian, torch in hoof. You climb up a winding black stairway to reach the top, where he stands, but no matter how many steps you climb, you cannot reach it.Seconds agoflesh and bone are coming to meand asking if I am a god.And I am telling them I am not.Seconds agoyou are coming to meand asking who I am.
There is a long silence.I am searchingfor a black Rook.Three others have been potential.None were strong enough.Seer.Find me a black Rook.One among you that will understandthe Truth of the world.
"I'm not keen on finding you anything other than the door, honestly. Why would you even bother asking that?" he asks, eventually giving up on the staircase and letting out a soft breath of exhaustion. Continuing to walk wasn't the best idea for that long, really.
>>715692Do thisand I will reveal to youthe secret you yearn.The path to returnto the land you came from.
He extends one hand, pointing a long, glossy black finger due northeast. You follow his gaze, finding yourself flying over land and sea, to a far distant landmass in the Echoes, far beyond anywhere you or the rest of your friends have been before.So you may indulge yoursentimental perversions.Seer.This is a show of faith.Here you may return homewith your belovedin due time.Do you wishto See more?To learn more?
Rabi hesitates for a few moments, taking a chance to consider his offer. His eyes hang on the distant landmass for some time, before he finally lets out a soft sigh.
"I… no. I want to go back- or, at least, talk to my siblings again. But, I won't betray what my friends and I are working towards here for that. They're as much family as the ones back in the Dominion. I'll see them again, or talk to them again… but, I won't take your help, or your deals to get there."
He tears his eyes from the horizon, and the landmass, before looking towards the Oneiromancer and huffing. "Y-You're wasting your time. I'll see and learn everything I need to in my own time."
>>715698Time is not important.
You find yourself back in your dormitory, back in your body; only, the Oneiromancer is there, standing in the doorway.Seer.Know this final thing.You are not chosen.For greatness or for ruin.There is no one to choose you.
Slowly, he turns his great, hooded head, looking away, towards the cargo hold.The pellar is here.We will not meet again.The universe will forget you.And I will remember you.But not because you matter.Because the beginning is moments ago.And the end is moments away.
He slowly raises the dripping black orb. It snakes out as a tendril, twisting itself into a certain shape: a symbol depicting two interlinked eyes. This is the symbol Black Pudding invoked to banish the demon earlier.There is no time to forgetbefore all is forgotten.GoodbyeSeer.
Then, he is gone, leaving only a cold and bitter chill through your body, and an equally cold memory.
Rabi awakens with a start when they return to the dormitory, scrabbling to his hooves and breathing heavily. It takes him a few moments to realize he's back in his own body, which brings him nothing but discomfort. He looks to the Oneiromancer in the doorway, trying to find the right words to respond with.
"I'm not chosen, no. There's no one to choose us but… ourselves. We're all we've got out here." he says, regardless of whether or not the figure remained around to hear his response. He shakily walks out of his room and towards the cargo hold in search of Black Pudding.
Rabi stops long enough to grab his bow and rifle, slinging both of them over his shoulder before continuing.
You find the warlock in the cargo hold commencing preparations for removing the Oneiromancer's influence, tracing a circle of chalk around the smoking, bubbling black stain on the floor. He seems deeply disturbed by something, and doesn't even hear you come in.
"Hey. Black Pudding." the stallion calls out, cautiously stepping into the room. "I know you're busy, and all, but I need some answers."
As you approach, you hear him mumbling something, but he stops once you make your presence known. "Nrrrrgh. Has the Reader not made it clear that we are not to be disturbed?" he growls. "This rite will not be easy to conduct. What seekest thee of us?"
"I guess I was a little too jumbled to remember that, honestly. What's with that symbol you used on the demon? The interlocked eyes, I think it was?" he asks, before shifting his weight a little bit.
"Someone showed it to me just a bit ago, when I took a break to project."
"It was the Dream-walker, was it not." He seems to know what's going on here, giving you a hard glare from under the wide brim of his hat. "Heed not whatever he spoke to thee. Else it drive thee to ruin."
"We explained the rune's meaning to the Reader earlier. The rune's meaning is separation from the whole. A cutting of the strings. It is often known as Division, Finality, or Severance. It may be used for as many purposes as the mind can imagine, but only an extremely powerful or talented runesmith may truly invoke the idea of Severance to whatever they may will." He looks down at the ground. "It so happens we shall have to invoke it here once again, in order to expel the Dreamwalker's presence. The symbol does not belong to him, just as the very concept of Severance does not belong to any one individual."
"Yeah, it was. The Oneiromancer, I think." he says, before making a bit of a face. "No need to worry. He just prematurely ended my projection after I rejected his offer. Seems like he's still looking for his 'rooks', apparently."
He listens to the description of the rune and nods a little bit, chewing on his lip before responding with "Alright, makes enough sense. He didn't seem keen on you being around, for what it's worth."
He loosens his posture and leans a little, before taking a look at the chalk circle. "There's not any way I could… help with this, could I? I didn't like the feeling of him crawling around like that."
"He knows his influence over thee and thine is at an end," he explains. "I have no doubt he will make this difficult for us."
At your offer, he shakes his head. "This is something that must be dealt with alone. Thou art of no use to me in this. Sleep with the doors closed, and fear not thy dreams this evening. They will not be pleasant ones, but they are only dreams."
"Mmm. Will you be heading back t your swamp after this, then?" he asks, giving Black Pudding the space he needs to finish working out the chalk symbols. "And, I'll stay out of your hair for now, then. It'll be nice to keep his presence… away."
He makes for the door, his ears perking up at the mention of dreams. "I'll… I'll remember that, yeah. Just dreams."
He shakes his head. "Carnifex and I will return to Braildorn. I have questions. Questions that need answering. From there, we shall go our separate ways, and I shall return to Durenwol. Now, I must return to my work. For thine sake, remember." He turns away from you and start muttering again, slowly starting to draw the Severance rune in the circle.
She leans into you, but your words don't seem to help much. "…I… I just feel so awful about it… all the time… I know you think it's not my fault, but… I…" She seems to be trying to find the right words.
"E-ever since he started showing up, and… and hunting us… And knowing he could be around any corner in this place… I-I try to hide it… for everyone's sake, but…" She looks up at you with a haunting expression. "I always feel like I have this…. this shadow
hanging over me… I'm always looking over my shoulder, wherever we are, thinking he's going to come after me, or h-hurt you… Everything bad that's ever happened to you… it's been because of me. And I don't know how much longer I can bear that. I… I have to set things right
. And I don't know how…"
"I can't be much clearer, so I'll say this. The reason I'm here ain't you. It's Twelve. And honestly sometimes I think about thanking him, because if I never came here I'd still be a half-starved nobody back in The Domain. Did I tell you how much I couldn't pay back to Twelve after over a week? 200 bits. Hell, I just spent twice that in a day. That's chump change now."
I pause for a second and gently run my fingers along her side. "Most important," I say. "Is that I got to meet you. You're smart. Strong. Resourceful. And not exactly bad to look at either. So no, if I had to trade all the peril I've been dragged through for what ammounts to a chance to never have met you, I'd decline in a heartbeat. I-"
I lean my head on her and close my eyes. "I love you, Violet Moon, and the best thing you can do to make up for anything you've caused -real or imaginary- is to stick with us and help us see this thing to the end. Or at least until we beat Lysander's ass, anyway."
She flinches as you run your fingers on her side. She doesn't seem to be in the mood, looking at you with a harrowed expression. Still, she can't help but smile weakly. "I love you too. More than anything. Gods, I don't know what I'd do without you. I… You're right. I can't keep running forever, can I. I'm going to have to face him eventually. I don't really feel like I… like I deserve to have you, or the others, after all the bad things I've done, but… Well, we'll pull through. Won't we?" She looks uncertain of her future, but in better spirits.
After a minute, she frowns. "What, do you mean, I'm not bad to look at?" she says with concern. "I mean I know I don't dress myself up too much, but I try to look presentable at least." She touches the side of her face self consciously. "It's the scars, isn't it. Maybe Zunden knows a way to get rid of them…"
"I mean to be fair most of us have a history. And after what we overheard Silvy say… well, I don't really wanna think about it too much, but I feel like the others might be hiding somethin' too."
My stomach sinks as she misinterprets what I said. "No, no. I was only teasing, not wanting to focus on physical stuff and all that. You're beautiful. Thought so since the first time I saw you. Sorry, guess it wasn't really the right time."
Sitting hunched over on the edge of the bed is making my back ache, and I have to stretch my arms above my head. My back makes an audible popping sound, and I drop down onto the bed, suddenly feeling much better. "Trust me," I say, looking up at her. "Everything is gonna be fine. I promise. We'll sort all this business out. Together."
She blinks. "It's alright. Sorry, I shouldn't mope. Just had a lot on my mind today." She joins you on the bed, curling up next to you in a catlike fashion, as she often does. "I'll pull through," she says, more to reinforce it to herself. "As long as we're together, nothing can harm us. We'll get to the desert, pick up the Egg, then dump it somewhere no one will ever find it. And that'll be the end of that. We ought to take a nice long holiday, like Z said. Maybe by the lake, where the monastery is. Or even the beach where we met…" She looks over with a small, warm smile, scooting a bit closer and resting her head on you. "Wouldn't that be something."
I slip my arm around her, close my eyes, and laugh. "Yeah," I say. "Man. It'd be weird going back there now. It's probably the tension, but downtime like this doesn't even really feel all that much like relaxing, so a nice, long vacation sounds nice. Kinda wouldn't mind visiting the Monastery again, but I don't know if I'd really think of that place as a resort." I sleepily crack my eyes and look down at her. "But I guess that beach ain't really a normal beach either, huh?"
"Yes, well.. i was spared from any particularly gruesome memories, only one of speaking with my brother, Silver Mark."
Cutting into the bread, i continue. "I believe we've spoken about it before, during our drunken rambling at the inn back at Braildorn, but my banishment was no accident. Unlike the others who, like you, were victims of circumstance, Mine was a story similar to Hermodur, legitimate crimes punished accordingly."
"The memory was of my brother's confronting me over the murders, and my response to his realization. It was shortly after that that one of my victims escaped, leading to my arrest and, well, all of this."
Gesturing with a wing around the room, i lay out the sliced bread before slicing into the cheese block. "I'd like to think i'm a different mare from then, and i dread to imagine what Rabi would think of me if he knew, but the past still remains."
"Well, nothing's really normal here, is it. We're all mad here," she says jokingly. There's w comfortable silence for a but as she just rests her head on your chest for a while. "Thank you," she says quietly. "For everything. Thank you so, so much. You're the best thing to ever happen to me…"
For a while*
I half shrug the shoulder of the arm I don't have tucked around her. "Not much to thank me for. Really it seems like I'm just along for the ride most of the time. I'm trying to take steps to be more useful, but I feel like I just embarass myself more often than not. Still, it's no problem." I smile and chuckle. "Must not have had many good things come by ya then, huh? You're the best thing to ever happen to me, too. By a wide, wide margin."
Zunden nods, "I have azzumed az much. It iz of little worry to be. For one, everyone here, bezidez zhoze born in ze Echoez, iz a criminal in zome regard. To be worried about one'z pazt bezidez az zomezhing to learn from iz quite zilly. Zecondarily, even before ze Echoez, I took care of zhoze who killed and did ozher unzavory actz, I am quite uzed to any zort of hiztory one haz."
She continues to prepare the soup, lighting the range. "Unlezz you are ezpecially adept at hiding zuch, I have not zeen you keep up zaid actionz here in ze Echoez. I would zhink it helpz to prove my idea zhat it iz a rezult of ze Dominion'z reztrictionz to one'z Fate. Here, ze law iz what we make of it, and az a rezult zhoze zhat would've been condemned to never realize zheir deztiny, inztead can flourizh."
She looks up at Silver, "Rabi iz a very underztanding ztallion, I do not zhink hiz love would falter becauze of zuch. Do you have planz to ever tell him of your pazt, zhen?"
"I've been doing a lot of thinking," she muses. "And… well, I don't think I realized it at the time, but before I met you I… I wasn't very happy. After what happened with Lysander I was always on my own, traveling by myself, pairing up with others only for mutual benefit. It was… pretty lonely. And, uh… I didn't really like myself, very much… Even when I did meet you all, I wanted to go my own way for the longest time. Remember? …I still do.. sometimes… but the point is, I didn't know what I was missing by having friends again. And even more…" She looks up at you with shining eyes. "You're everything to me," she says quietly, and kisses you.
"Yeah. I had a friend or two, but this -what the whole group has- it's different, y'know? And with you…" I let the sentence trail off, wrap my other arm around her, and pull her in close, returning the kiss.
"Hmm.. I suppose if the others have heard as well, making an attempt to hide it would be pointless. If the subject is brought up, i won't deny my past, but if the others opt to proceed as normal then i will follow suit, i suppose."
"You wizh for ze zubject to have to be zomezhing he haz to pry you for? I do not zhink zhat az a healzhy action for your relationzhip. I ezpect one of ze ozherz will have looze lipz, you would razher zhey tell Rabi inztead of yourzelf?"
Zunden shrugs, cubing the tomatoes.
"Ah, you do
have a point.. Perhaps it would be better to hear it from me than from one of the others.. Though how could you broach the subject of your murders to your lover? It isn't as simple as a dinner conversation.. Right?"
Zunden shrugs, "Zhat, I do not know. Perhapz it'd be bezt to wait till after ze night you have prepared for him. If anyzhing, it will zoften hiz mood I zuppoze. Zhough, zhat may be manipulative."
She sighs, readying the soup in the pot, "Relationzhipz are complex, it iz why I normally go to ze cardz to zeek guidanze on zhem."
She shrugs. "'S okay," she answers distantly.
The mare at the counter puts everything in a neat little bag for you after counting out your money with a satisfied nod. "Thank you very much!">-52 bits
"And for you, miss?" The mare looks at Aurora.
"Just looking," she replies rather sharply, turning to follow you out. Something seems to have set her off, and she looks at you expectantly without another word, waiting to follow you back.
With the items in hand, Aegis thanked the mare and left with Aurora
''What is bothering you, Aurora?'' She asked as soon as they were out
She gives you an odd look as you head back to the ship. "It's nothing. I'm… fine. Really. Just need some time to think." She starts heading with intent back to her room.
Aegis followed her up until they reached the door of Aurora's room
''Would you want to share it with me?''
"I'm just…" She cuts herself off, sets her jaw, and invites you into her room, closing the door behind her and sitting on her bed. "…I'm just trying to figure you out, really," she says, sounding a bit timid. "We… I… I risked my life for you today. I didn't know what to expect from the demon. None of us did. But I stood up and went for it anyway. And… well, call me spoiled, but… I don't really… feel like it meant much. To you, I mean. I did everything I could to help you, and support you, and… and you just turn around and start making fun of me not an hour later… That hurt, you know."
"And uh… that's it, really. I'm… I know I'm not the easiest person to talk to, but… but I'm trying my hardest to be a good friend to you. I'm not sure why you… are the way you are, but… but I'll stick with you, no matter what. I'd just like to… to see you give back… a little more. To everyone, I mean. Not just to me. …Does that make sense? …I'm not very good at expressing myself. …Sorry." She gives you a somewhat doleful look, unsure if she's getting across what she's trying to say.
Aegis simply stared at Aurora with the same dull look as always while she spoke, staying quiet for a moment before speaking up herself ''It is fine, I understand your intent, and I must admit I have not been behaving in a proper way around you, around everyone'' Aegis sat down and stared at the floor as she continued to talk
''Its all very different from my home and my family. Our communion is considerably more quiet, reserved, disciplined, and honest. But make no mistake we all share a deep love for eachother, and that honesty among us is proof of that… But I should have expected that attitude would not be as welcome with others'' Aegis closed her eyes in thought and bowed her head further
''You saw how well my words were received by Black Pudding and his apprentice, even though I meant no harm, and now I did the same to you as well. Forgive me Aurora, I never once told you a lie since we first spoke but I understand some ponies do not take kindly to being reminded of their flaws''
"Yeah. I can understand that. We're, uh, pretty close knit ourselves. You must… feel a bit like an outsider still, huh." She rubs the back of her head. "I know you don't mean to offend, and I don't hold it against you. Really. It must be hard, being so far from home, having to fit in with a group of strangers just like that." She looks at you earnestly. "You really miss your home, don't you. I… can't imagine what that's like, anymore, but I sympathize. Really, I do." She hesitates a bit before reaching out and touching your shoulder reassuringly. "It'll be okay. We'll find a way to get you home. Together. What do you say?"
Aegis didnt react upon Aurora's touch ''I appreciate your help, and your desire to assist me, I really do. Such kindness for a stranger is rare and I will not forget it. Just like how I wont ever forget what you all did for me. I am sorry that I didnt express that before'' With her own hoof, Aegis carefully took Aurora's hoof from her shoulder, holding it up ''There is nothing I would like more than that. But first we must deal with this situation with Lyzander, I understand that, if what you all say is true, it is something that is more important than even my family, and I will help you put an end to that first, as I have been hired to do''
She frowns slightly. "We haven't hired you for anything, you know. Violet said it before. You're not our lackey, you're our friend. …But you're right. Lysander comes first, and this business with the… the Cuckoo." She looks uncomfortable thinking about all the cosmic happenings the group have gotten entangled with. "A-after that's out of the way, we'll get you home. Cross my heart." She looks at you with determination.
Not taking her apathetic eyes out of the bat mare, Aegis tilted her head to the side ''Aurora'' She started ''Why are you so determined to help me? I appreciate your kindness, but I'm curious as to why you feel so involved in this''
She hesitates to answer, and looks away. "I… I want to find a way home in general. Not just for you, mind you, and not really for me, but… you know, in general. Lots of people here don't really… don't really deserve to be. Look at Norv. I don't know if you know, but he didn't really do anything to warrant his exile. Neither did Zunden, or Violet, or…" She seems to catch herself.
"…Anyway. I want to help because there's so many like you, that don't belong here, and that want nothing more than to see their families again. …Plus, we have a better shot at it than most. If we don't find a way home for the less fortunate with the resources we have, then what makes us any better than selfish thugs like Lysander?"
"That's all it is. I feel like someone needs to do something. And I want to help in any way I can." She shrugs a little. "And you're the only one here that really wants to go home. So I'll do what I can for you."
The following morning, you awaken to the usual gentle pattering of rain on the ship's deck, and the dawn chorus of birds. Aurora and Violet sleep in, the latter woken up only by Mercutio screeching in her ear like a rooster for his own amusement. She vows to kick him out the window.
Overall, it is a rather sleepy morning, with a hearty but not particularly notable breakfast being served by Violet. With your business at the Swap Meet all but concluded, it is time to decide on your next course of action, and set off for further adventures.
Addendum: you have the vague realization that you remember nothing from your dreams that night. In addition, Black Pudding seems to have stolen away quietly at some point while you slept, leaving a note pinned by a knife to a wooden support pillar in the cargo hold. It is addressed to Zunden.
Zunden adorns the new Fulcrum necklace, connecting to the ship before leaving her bed.
Once she has, she goes to check the note.Roll #1 5 = 5
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
I jump and swipe blindly at the air as a shrill screech pierces my eardrums. Losing my balance, I topple onto the floor, realizing that the screech is just Mercutio. Huh. Must've fallen asleep at some point last night and didn't realize it. A dull ache creeps across the back of my skull where my head smashed against the floor, and I slowly sit up and rub it.
"Ugh. Since we're leaving you'd think I'd have had a chance to sleep in." Slowly, I pull myself back to my feet, rest my hands on my lower back, and stretch. I feel my back pop and I let out a pleased breath as a wave of relief washes over me.
After breakfast I loiter around the dining area. "So I guess we're headed back to the Sands today. Not even sure my desert gear is still in tact, but hopefully we won't be there long enough for that to matter."
Stirring from my bed earlier in the morning, i quietly clean myself with the ship's bath before Joining the others at the table, saving some room for Rabi.>>716345
"Indeed, Hopefully we'll finally put an end to this egg nonsense and direct our efforts more to personally dealing with Lysander."
"While we're in transit, i might have enough time to patch up your outfit, if need be, Norvy." i offer in response "Repairing my own wardrobe has reignited my interest in sewing, in a way."
Rabi settles in a few moments later, letting out a soft sigh before rolling his shoulders out. "Morning, dear. Did you use to sew as a hobby? I've got no clue howto sew."
Aegis continued walking as Aurora spoke, heeding to every word before replying
''It makes me happy knowing you think this way Aurora. I appreciate your resolve'' She briefly turns to the mare before facing foward again
''You are too kind''>>716341>>716345>>716346
Speaking up from her place in the table, Aegis turned to Silver and Rabi ''Could you brief me one more time regarding our objectives in the desert? I want to make sure our wills align properly so there wont be any misunderstanding''
"Why Rabi, It was important for a mare of means to practice all manner of hobby. While it may seem mundane, you never knew when you might have needed to stitch something back together.">>716348
"Ah yes, the Desert." i begin, clearing my throat.
"Within the shifting sands is the particularly dangerous 'egg' artifact that lysander and his cohorts are after. We're to recover the egg and relocate it to someplace where they can never reach it, lest the whole realm collapse in on itself should we fail."
I clear my throat and glance away, nervously drumming my fingers on the table. "Uh, I think it'll be fine, thank you. Thanks, though. Maybe, uh… maybe some other time.">>716348
"Go to this treasure place we found a while back, pick up a magical, dimension-rending egg, and crack the head off a chaos god so Lysander can't get to them."
''Sounds simple enough. Unless we are to face opposition, this should be easy''
You find yourself a bit disoriented by the bonding process, but at this point you're used to it. The note is written in surprisingly neat handwriting, and reads as follows:
>The deed is done. The Oneiromancer will trouble thee no longer. Thou art protected by Severance.
>The ritual was draining on me, and brought me to a revelation.
>There are two Oneiromancers.
>One you are familiar with. The true Oneiromancer. The Dream-Walker that has vexed thee.
>The other is a mummer's farce. A physical being given power by some outside force. A false Dream-Walker.
>This is all I know, and is something I had suspected, hearing the whispers coming from Braildorn.
>Carnifex and I will travel there, for a time. The false Dream-Walker is something that should not be ignored. I do not understand the implications of his existence.
>We may not meet again.
Aurora is also around, sorting through a huge assortment of baked goods she bought at some point. She wordlessly offers you a cinnamon roll as she tucks into one herself. "I'm not sure it'll be that easy," she ponders. "We're a good few days off from the Sands, for one. And there's still the question of what to do with Clawson…">>716346
You sense a general air of discomfort towards you during breakfast. You recall your conversation with Zunden the previous night. Aurora especially seems to be avoiding making eye contact.
"I think we should just get as far away from this region of the Echoes as possible," Violet suggests. "There's plenty of other lands to go to, and we have the ship, so it's easier to travel that way. The further we are from where Lysander holds sway, the better.">>716348
Violet speaks up. "There's an… an egg buried out in the desert. We've seen it before. If it breaks, it will annihilate this dimension, and everything in it will be sent back to where it came, all in the same place at the same time. So we need to grab it, and put it somewhere far away, where no one can find it. Especially not him."
I sigh, take the cinnamon roll, bite into it, and thoughtfully chew. "Right," I say with my mouth still full. "Clawson. I guess that's something we should probably take care of way before we make it to the sands."
''Oh, maybe I should have mentioned this earlier'' Aegis spoke up again
''But I saw Lysander, and he offered me to join his crew''
With that Aegis took a bite out of an apple
"Huh. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, really- you're very talented, dear.">>716353
"We probably can't drop him off, but…"
Zunden passes the note to Aurora, "Could you read zhiz for me pleaze?" She asks, a bit embarrassed, "Pudding left me a note, zhough I am unfamiliar wizh zome of zheze wordz.">>716355>>716353
at the mention of Clawson, she taps a claw on the table, "I waz meaning to put in my opinion on ze matter. Given ze new enchantment to ze zhip, ze zaurian iz of much lezz worry now. Ideally, I'd like to return him half a day'z away from hiz zhip zo zhat he can go about hiz life az he waz earlier. Hopefully zomeone elze haz not laid claim to it in zhat time. If zhey have, I zuggezt a long walk'z away from ze Zwap Meet inztead. He zhould be able to make zome contactz zhere."
Zunden clears her throat, trying to prevent herself from giggling as she realizes what she said, "Err razher, a zlizher away."
Noticing the mixed reactions, i sent my breakfast down and sigh.
"Hmm.. I had hoped to address the events of yesterday at a late time, though i suppose i should clear the air now." i begin, nodding to zunden.
"I believe Aurora left the table early, and Violet was.. indisposed at the time, but i had made it clear to the assembled during our (ahem) drunken revelry in Braildorn that my banishment was no accident."
"I was a petty mare who for the sake of staving off boredom used her knowledge of poisons and surgery to.. perform an extensive and rather gruesome string of murders in the city of Levin." i continue, visibly pained in my admittance, glancing occasionally back at Rabi. Fishing through my bags, i drop my journal onto the table for the others to see.
"What transpired during the exorcism was a conversation between me and my brother, who had realized what i had done and confronted me over the killings. It was after this that i was eventually caught and sent here."
"I believe i've changed since my banishment, certainly after meeting you all, though given the extend of my crimes i won't hold it against any of you if you bear ill will towards me after this. I simply wished to clear the air." i finish, watching the room for a response.
Zunden's reaction is minimal, having already heard most of the things mentioned.
"It iz to be exzpected zhat ze world meant for houzing criminalz haz criminalz in it. Az I have ztated before, we have not died in our zleep or anyzhing of ze like, and you have been a good ally. I hold no ill will."
Aegis was still chewing at her apple, eye Silver with a dull look
''Boredom you say'' She swallows ''You're right, that is very petty. Especially seeing it doesnt sound like you gained nothing from those murders, aside from your exhile''
There is a bit of an awkward silence. Aurora stares at you intently. "I'm… guessing you didn't take him up on it," she says uncomfortably.>>716356
"Sure." She nods understandingly and reads it out loud. Her brow furrows considerably at the mention of a second impostor Oneiromancer. "Well now it's getting out of hand. One was bad enough. Though, that would explain why he was on those wanted posters back in Braildorn…" She looks up at you. "Seems like everything's under control now though. Thanks be to Black Pudding, I guess?">>716358
Violet's expression grows grim, but she nods stiffly in understanding. "I… Well. …That's, uh… about what I thought…" She shifts in her seat awkwardly. "…I think… I think this place changes people. And you're no exception, I'd say. I'd like to think that's not you anymore. …It seems to me like you've changed your ways. And hey, we've all done questionable things in the past, haven't we? …Though not like… that. Still! You've been a great friend to all of us ever since we first met. So I can look past it all. It's like Rabi said back when we met. We're all equal nothings here." She smiles encouragingly.
Aurora, on the other hand, says nothing, giving you an icy, soul-crushing stare.>>716353>>716354>>716355>>716358>>716356
Zunden maneuvers the ship, and even though it's only been two days, you can't help but feel like you've been at the Swap Meet forever. With a steady shake and slight creaking, your ship starts to rise, the flags unfurling as it takes to the skies. Guided by the ever useful compass, you soar through the rain, flying off to new lands.
The rest of your morning goes by fairly uneventfully:
Kairon comes out of the woodwork (literally), but doesn't talk much, instead taking a misty form and clinging to the ship's hull. She seems to enjoy watching the world fly by from there, humming happily.
Mercutio entertains himself by practicing his puns in the mirror. They are almost all skeleton based. He seems to find them infinitely amusing.
Violet and Aurora bond a little, playing a game of chess with the new board Aurora got. The chess pieces prove difficult to control, as, being animated, they have a burning hatred for the opposing side and often get into fistfights.
Clawson gazes out the window idly, singing a sea shanty under his breath. At one point, Zunden sees him find a bug crawling around, and eats it without hesitation. He doesn't seem to mind.
Later that day, your idle journey due south-west is interrupted as you fly over a stretch of woodland. You feel a sudden BANG
against the ship's hull, and the whole thing rocks violently.
"I suppose Idle hooves make for evil tools, as they say." i reply, nodding with a sigh. "I had assumed i was invincible; One escapee was all it took to disprove that."
"Well… I mean, that's not really you anymore, is it?" he asks, after a bit of a pause. "You're a new pony now, and that's the one I know." he offers, giving her a soft smile.>>716361
"Yeah, that too. It's not like any of us didn't do something."
Violet nods in approval of the plan. "No reason we can't show him a little mercy, but we shouldn't give him his ship on a silver platter either. I say we leave him with his kit and some food, but no compass. Let him find his way to us from there."
Zunden smiles, "I do not zee why we cannot include ze compazz too. It will never lead back to uz, now."
"I-" I pause. "Actually I had a lot to drink that night and only remember bits and pieces. I still thought you were just an assassin. Which isn't, you know. The best. But it's still better than-" I clear my throat. "Well. Is serial killer the right word?">>716361
I glance over at Violet as she speaks, toss the last of my cinnamon roll into my mouth, slump down in my chair, and sigh. "Yeah," I say. "Vi is right. It's different now. You're different." I confidently sit back up and look around. "We all are. It might be a little weird, but I don't think this actually changes anything. You're still Silver in my eyes."
I spend most of my time hanging around Mercutio or silently watching the sky with Kairon. I'm doing the latter when the ship lurches and I stumble. Losing my balance, I move to catch myself.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Yeah. Honestly that seems like our only real option outside of- well. You know."
''Of course not, but I felt like it was something worth bringing up, and it does further comfirms what Norvegicus said about Lysander hiring more hands for his personal group. I also saw that not all of them chose to serve him, instead have opted for a money reward, as have I''>>716362
''That is a good saying. I hope you had learned your lesson and began to put your knowledge into something useful while you were here''>>716361
Aegis decided to spend her time in the solitude of her room in the captain's quarters, focusing her attention on the Book of Demons, the Liber animarum. Her focus seemingly broken by the loud bang as she leaves her room to meet up with the others in the main hall of the ship
"Setting him down relatively close to his ship would be a mercy at this point. Having been trapped in the hold for days now, i'd imagine he'll be more than happy to be rid of us, contract or not."
Matching your eyes, i tearily lean in for an embrace, burying my head into your chest.
"Thank you, Rabi.." i reply, biting back a sob "I was so worried you would abandon me, If you knew the truth.."
"I'll trust you on this one, Zunden. Drop him off with his gear, a bit of food, and his compass then?">>716369
Rabi wraps his forelegs around the mare and strokes her mane gently, before sighing. "I mean, I'm not necessarily clean either, and you've accepted me."
"Thank you, both of you.. I had hoped to avoid explaining the breadth of my charges, but now that we've a clean slate between us all, we can proceed as normal.. hopefully."
Rabi jumps a foot or two straight up from the sudden impact, grabbing his bow and hurrying upstairs to see if he can look over the side of the ship and see.
Spending the morning with Rabi, i'm sent falling off the bed with the impact on the hull, rushing out in my underdress, taking the refreshed poisons and the shivs with me
Already in the ship's view, Zunden sees what's the issue from where she's sitting.
"Oh, right. Sorry. I forgot you had us protected." She looks a bit embarrassed. "I guess then there's no harm in giving him it.">>716366
You are thrown off balance by the sudden impact, throwing out your bad arm in order to catch yourself. A sudden shock rushes up your arm and through your body.>>716368>>716366>>716372>>716373>>716374
As you look to see what's going on, you find yourselves flying over a small mountain range. Looking down, you see that not all of them are mountains at all; the rocks themselves are alive, forming colossal mountain sized bipedal figures that dominate the view. There are two of the stone giants that you can see, and they seem to be involved in some sort of turf war, hurling enormous boulders at each other. Unfortunately for you, your ship is caught in the crossfire, pelted with rocks and debris. Aurora looks awestruck by the behemoths, while Violet bites her hoof nervously. "What are we going to do?" she asks, her voice quaking a little.
"Pull off to ze zide and watch?"
Zunden says, watching with interest,>>716368
"Do you ztill have ze book on ze creaturez of ze Dominion I lent you?"
"Goodness.. what can
we do?" i reply, watching the mountains brawl below. "We may have to chart around them at this rate, else we risk a stone punching through our hull!"
I cry out in pain, and my hand shoots to my sholder as a jolt of agony rocks my whole body. I grit my teeth and slowly stand back up, biting back tears.
Stumbling and still holding my arm I rush to join the others. "What's going on?"
"Ah, there you are, Norvy! Are you alright?"
"We've made a course between a.. mountain battle? Stone titans of all things, quite the sight!" i add, gesturing to the combatants with a wing.
''I do'' Aegis replies briefly after entering the scene, eyeing the rare scene below
''It is in the bookshelf in the Captain's quarters. Do you need it?''
"Yeah," I say. "Just fell on my bad arm when the ship rocked. I'll be fine."
I look out over the edge of the ship, looking for what she's talking about. "Great. Can we not go any higher to avoid it?"
"We're, uh… we're intruding on something, I guess. Could we try flying higher, or something? Would that work?"
"I waz interezted in what ze book might zay about zeze creaturez."
Aegis Quickly hurried over to the bookshelf to retrieve it, handing it over to Zunden
''I didnt had time to fully study it, so I am clueless about them. Lets see if we can find anything''
"Giants," Aurora says simply, watching the scene play out with shining eyes.>>716383>>716384
The entry reads as follows:
>STONE COLOSSUS>Threat level: Extreme (if provoked)
>Gigantic stone golems of unknown origin. They are made entirely of natural stone, and as such are nearly indestructible. Solitary beings dwelling in the mountains of the Echoes, while dormant they are indistinguishable from a normal mountain. They are extremely territorial creatures, often fighting to the death in spectacular displays when one intrudes on the other's turf. Colossi are sapient, though rather dim witted, and have been known to be friendly towards drifters passing through their lands.
>Immune: Physical, Ice, Fire, Light, Poison, Sleep
As you watch, the burlier of the two giants takes a huge rock to the chest, scattering rocks across the scenery. Undeterred, he takes his own shapeless rock of a head and hurls it at the taller, thinner giant before taking the boulder he had just been bludgeoned with and taking it as his new head. They seem to be quite literally an amalgamate of rocks. A low foghorn-like bellow echoes through the canyon, shaking the ship.
The burly giant starts slowly, ponderously moving towards the thin giant, the mountains themselves quaking as it does so. Undeterred, the thin giant takes an even larger boulder and hurls it your way, smaller bits of shrapnel threatening to pelt the ship.
"So, if we just stick out of the way, will we be fine? I don't really know how hostile a, uh… pile of rocks would be."
Zunden frowns, "I'd be very interezted in talking to one, juzt out of curiozity. Alaz, it zeemz zhey are a bit preoccupied right now."
''Zunden you should probably move the ship out of the way'' Aegis said as she raised her shield and attempted to shoot down one or two of the bits of rock coming their way
[2d10] Magic Bolt, Ice>>716386
''Their fight seems to be among eachother, we are just caught in the crossfire. We should do what we can to minimize the damage to the ship and ourselvesRoll #1 6, 9 = 15
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
I watch in awe for a little bit, but scramble backward as the shrapnel nearly hits the ship. "Well, whatever we do we'd better do it fast. Going higher and over or turning around and going around is probably our best bet. I'm going back below deck before something takes my head off."
With little to help against the hail of stones, i do my best to take cover as the battle continues.>>716389
"I suppose it's your decision, Zunden. Shall we leave them to their brawl and move on? I very much doubt we could interfere otherwise."
"Perhapz we could check on ze location onze ze znake iz dropped off." Zunden shrugs, "Bezt not to interfere now."
You blast some of the incoming rocks down, preventing much damage to the ship other than a few dings on the hull.>>716389
You maneuver the ship out of the way of the incoming rubble. It takes some minor damage, but nothing to worry about.>>716390
As you speak, a decently sized rock whizzes right over your head, brushing your fur lightly. Violet flinches and grimaces. "Yeah, same. This is getting pretty ugly.">>716391>>716390>>716389>>716388>>716386
As the larger one approaches, the thin one stops hurling rocks, instead gathering them to add to its mass. Now almost as big as its enemy, it raises its leg and stomps like a sumo wrestler, cracking the earth before beginning to charge the other colossus head on. Unfortunately for you, you are stuck right between the two rampaging behemoths. Aurora looks to Zunden in fright.
Zunden starts manuvering the ship out of the way [1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
[1d10] [perception]Roll #1 6 = 6
Without much to do in this situation, Rabi ducks to brace himself.
Aegis couldnt much but watch the event unfold before her, seemingly calm despite what seems like iminnent doom approaching
[1d10] perceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
Hitting the deck, i try to back up towards the stairs, hoping to make it below deck
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 4 = 4
Roll #1 5 = 5
You reach out and focus, surging the ship forward and up, just in time as the two come together in a deafening crack, butting heads and shoving against each other like a pair of wrestlers, to the point where you can no longer tell which is which. Heading up higher, the air becomes a bit thinner, but it is a small price to pay for not getting pulverized by a pair of walking mountains. Aurora breathes a sight of relief; you only now realize that she's clinging to your arm. "Phew. That was so close. Thanks, Zunden! I don't know where we'd be without you!">>716394>>716396>>716397>>716398>>716390
With Zunden's now skillful piloting, you manage to get away from the colossi relatively unscathed.
The rest of the day passes by without further incident. No more giant turf wars halt your progress as you pass over the mountain range, and at around sundown, you touch down not too far off from Clawson's abandoned ship; you fly over it on the way there, and it seems to be nestled at the top of a cliff. You land in a clearing in the middle of the woods, nearly a gently bubbling stream. The sun is giving its last light, and night will soon fall. While it is about two hours by ship from here to where Clawson parked, it would be about half a day on foot - or in Clawson's case, on tail.>>716397
As the ship leaves the feuding giants, you think you see the shadow of some great eagle amidst all the bedlam. As the ship touches down in the clearing, you are almost certain you see the same shadow pass overhead.>>716395Back in your room, you spot the Balaur egg begin to twitch a little.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I feel the ship rise and stop shaking. "Well," I tell Violet. "That could've gone worse."
I meet up with everyone to head to the brig as the ship lands.
"Well, I zhink we zhould let Clawzon know what iz happening to him after dinner tonight, and let him go firzt zhing in ze morning. I wouldn't want to zubjicate him to making the trek back in ze dark."
Zunden suddenly turns her head to one of the walls, "Could zomeone elze make dinner actually? I- need to check on zomezhing."
She rushes over to her room.
Aegis eyes were quick to look up from her book on Earthen Strike and spot the shadow moving from her place in the Captain's Quarters, and once again she hopped up from her bed and made her way to the hall>>716402
''Zu-'' Aegis opened her mouth to speak, but cut herself off as she saw Zunden rushing past her>>716398>>716399
''I think I saw something outside the ship.'' She says, arriving at the brig
"Ehm… any idea what?" he asks, getting back to his hooves and shaking himself off.>>716402
"I could give it a go, sure."
''No, thats why I will go out and check''
With that, Aegis headed up the deck
Breathing a sigh of relief as we pull away, i head back below, nearly jumping out of the way as Zunden moves past, in a hurry.>>716402
"Goodness! Everything alright, Zunden?" i call back to you as you pass by.>>716403
"Again?" i ask, following you back up deck. "Hopefully whatever it is isn't nearly as dangerous, watching mountains fight is action enough.."
Violet doesn't respond at first; you see she's gripping the table for dear life, but relaxes when she sees you do so. "Phew. Feel like I lost a few years of my life after that," she grins. "I need a drink…">>716402
Violet nods. "I'll do what I can." Aurora seems to dread it already.
The egg continues to move for some time, and you hear tapping from the inside. Steadily, the egg begins to break away, and two reptilian heads poke out, jaws opening and shutting like a fish. The creature wiggles and squirms, straining to pull itself out of the egg, and rather unceremoniously splats onto the floor. It is about the size of a kitten, dark in coloration with several yellow stripes running down the length of its body. The claws, while not yet fully formed, are long, like some sort of monitor lizard, while the heads are shovel shaped with an upturned snout almost like a pig. The balaur makes a tiny hissing sound as it gets its bearings, tongues flitting in and out.>>716405
As you exit, a shadow passes over the ship. As you look up, you see what at first looks like a dragon fly overhead. Then, as an enormous pony sized feather floats down and lands in front of you, you realize. This isn't a dragon at all. A gigantic house sized eagle is stalking you.>>716401>>716406>>716404
Violet comes along. You find Clawson playing tic tac toe with himself out of sheer boredom, giving you a sidelong glance as you enter. "My favorite people," he drawls. "What was all that hoopla earlier today? Sounded like the end of the world."
''It seemed like a shadow of a large bird. Normally I would disregard it, but I think I saw the same shadow earlier today right after we left those Giants of stone behind>>716407
Picking up the feather, Aegis looks up at the shadow looming above ''Well this comfirms my suspicions. Silver'' She turns to the blue-haired mare, handing her the feather''Head back to the brig and tell everyone of this''
I cross my arms and quietly wait for someone else to take the lead.
>>716409>earlier that day
You are standing on the deck admiring the view as the world flies past below you. Your trusty ship soars above the mountains, rushing over dense green valleys, sparkling crystal rivers, and, occasionally, small villages. The greenery slowly gives way to drier, rockier lands, leading you into a rather desolate mountain range painted in shades of red, grey and brown. Despite the slight bleakness of the view, it has a certain beauty to it.
Kairon is by your side, a patch of greenish mist clinging effortlessly to the ship's bow, like some strange incorporeal figurehead. "It is quite beautiful, is it not,"
she comments, observing the scenery. "Not a point of view I saw often in my younger years. Whatever higher being crafted this strange prison world, they must have had good taste."
She observes as the ship flies past a crumbling castle built on top of a peak. It looks like it hasn't been inhabited in many years. "Say. Who do you suppose lived in yonder castle? Could have been anyone, really, but it looks like it has seen better days.">roll Perception
I lean on the railing and watch the scenery pass. When Kairon speaks I give her a brief glance before looking back out at the ruined castle. "Not really sure. This place apparently mirrors places from The Dom-" I glance at her again and clear my throat. "Equestria. It's possible nobody ever really lived there."
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You see that the castle is half reclaimed, and is in dire need of renovations, but is otherwise in not too shabby of a condition. There is even a clear spot for landing the ship."Interesting. …If no one has ever lived there,"
Kairon suggests, "then there is no one to object to taking such a castle for yourself. Wouldn't you agree? Instead of subsisting in this miserable old bucket, it would behove you and your little friends to find an actual place to live. One befitting a queen!"
Half reclaimed by vines*
"Huh. Well, I guess you're not wrong. A nice, static spot could be alright. I'll probably mention it to the others some time." I shrug. "The whole adventurer lifestyle is usually sort of nomadic by nature, though. From what I understand at least. Either way I guess an actual defendable base would be better than relying on a magic ship."
>>716573"It would be wise,"
she presses. "From the sounds of it, you have made quite the enemy already. One that would be able to gather large forces. What will you do if battle is on your doorstep? It would be as simple as shooting this ship down and killing everyone inside. This is no true base, if it comes to that. …Plus. I miss living in a castle. Mine had the loveliest view of the gardens…"
She sighs a bit dramatically with nostalgia."Just food for thought, anyway. You will do as you please, of course. You always have. I suppose there is nothing I can do to stop it."
She still sounds a bit resentful, but also a bit smug; the sort of tone one uses when they are keeping a secret. Kairon keeps watching as the ship flies over a bend of the Broad River; it is so wide that even at the speed you are going, it takes a bit to get from one end to the other.
"No, you're right. These things are supposed to be rare, but clawson has one so I doubt there's anything stopping Lysander from getting ahold of another. He probably already has. I'll bring it up after we finish our business at the Sands." A wave of annoyance builds inside me, needling at the back of my mind at her tone. I know she's probably planning on betraying us somehow, but I hope she's smart enough to know that if Lysander gets what he wants there won't be a plane to rule.
"So," I say. "I did some searching arounf while you were-" I clear my throat and look away. "Indisposed." I glance back to Kairon. "Just like I promised. It turns out I might have a lead on how to get you your body back. Nothing concrete so I don't actually want to say anything yet, but I confirmed there is
She flows away from the bow and to your side, appearing in her usual vaguely pony shaped form. "Tell me more,"
she demands excitedly. "What sort of rite do we have to conduct? Will there be a sacrifice involved? I am not beneath grimmer forms of magic in order to achieve my goals, you know. Speak!"
"Like I said. I don't have details yet. Just a lead. But I am
making progress. Just gotta bare with me for a bit." I turn away from the scenery, face her, and lean against the railing. It's still a little surreal talking to a cloud of smoke, but I guess I can sort of look at where her eyes might be.
"So, gardens? I always wanted to try gardening. I imagine a castle garden was incredibly luxirious. Probably had a whole bunch of really rare flowers and stuff."
She deflates a little. "…I see. Well, keep me informed, won't you."
She shifts in an approximation of a nod. "It was beautiful, yes. I had trees and flowers from all over Equestria, and even from other, further lands. Mostly it was the servants who did the gardening, but I partook myself, sometimes. It was relaxing. A "hobby" of mine, I suppose."
She somehow looks wistful. "…If nothing else, I would very much like to see my home again. The hills… trees.. little rivers… it is all so clear in my mind, but words cannot describe Equestria's beauty. I suppose I shall find it very much changed, shan't I."
I hang my head and turn back to the scenery. "Yeah. I'm afraid so. It-" I tap my finger on the railing as I try to think of how to word my next sentence. "I guess you could say its developed a lot since then. I never really saw much of it outside of the city I lived in, but i highly doubt there are nearly as many sparkling rivers and rolling hills as you remember." I smile and chuckle. "But a gardener. Never would have pegged you for someone who found peace in nature. Looks like there is
more to you than just queen." My smile drops a bit and I avert my eyes, quickly adding, "Your grace."
>>716594"There is much we do not yet know about each other,"
she replies vaguely. You sense some small satisfaction at you calling her by her proper title of your own accord, but she does not voice it. "But yes, I imagine you are right. I suppose the expanse of civilization is inevitable. At least here everything is relatively untouched. For now."
She stares idly out at a set of distant snow capped mountains, jutting out like jagged teeth towards the sky. Past them is an even bigger mountain, a colossal landform that dwarfs them all, stretching up even past the cloud line. It is barely visible, a mere silhouette on the horizon. Kairon continues to gaze out at the landscape. Depending on how much longer we are here… it would be nice to even pick up painting again…"
She is talking more to herself than to you, staring dreamily out at the world rushing by. She seems lost in thought for now.
"For how much everything wants to kill you, this place really is beautiul when you're not between something's teeth." I quietly watch the landscape with her for a little bit, somehow not feeling tense at all. "Painting, huh?" I chuckle. "Next you're going to tell me you dabbled in music too." I fall silent for another few moments before continuing. "You'll paint again some day, your grace," I say, this time more casually. If I just replace where I'd say her name it's easy! "And hopefully this lowly mutt
-" I say it with a hint of sarcasm, but no actual animosity. "-is on your side and around to see it. I imagine you were pretty darn good, what with how long you had to practice."
>>716605"I play viol, actually. And I can sing. I am a mare of many talents!"
she says very un-humbly. "If we do make it through this, and return home with my body intact, I shall make a knight out of you. That is a queen's promise."
"Well, I appreciate the offer." I cock an eyebrow. You sing? Always liked listening to singers in the bars I went to. Used to hang around and grab a few drinks after games I used to go to. Think you still got the pipes for it?"
>>716609"Perhaps. But I have not done so in a long time. Not since my younger, lesser years as a princess. Truth be told, when one is a queen, there is precious little time for painting or gardening. It is all politicking, war planning, sometimes fighting… I did not mind the last one, mind you. There is something quite thrilling about leading an army into battle, and crushing your enemies outright…"
She smiles softly.
"I guess if that's your thing. I'm tryin'a pick up an instrunment, myself. I sound like a pissed donkey when I sing, though." I clam up. "Was that speciest? I feel like that might have been a little speciest. Anyway, point is I can't sing to save my life last time I even thought about trying. But yeah. Sounds like it'd be pretty busy ruling an entire kingdom. And stressful."
>>716621"It is a burden,"
she admits. "But the prosperity of the kingdom is its own reward. Even if many do not see it that way. The small minded serfs. Even if many of them do die, the land will be all the stronger for it. There is no success without great struggle. Hardship is the only way to push a kingdom into a new age. My current predicament is a… setback… but I must see my campaign through to the end. Whatever it takes. As far as I know, I am the only alicorn remaining, apart from… well, whatever pretender my wretched nieces have left on the throne. Midnight, was it? I have every confidence that I could destroy her in seconds, had I still my old strength."
"Oh, I believe that if it took both of your neices ganging up on you to do what they did. Gotta admit, I'm not sure how much worse off being reset to some feudal empire would be for that place. 'Least then they'd have someone that cares about the kingdom as a whole instead of just about lining their pockets. Things are way different back there, though. If ruling a kingdom when you know how everything works is a burdan I can only imagine ruling one is when you've never even heard the word 'locomotive'." I shoot her a quick glance. "What about here?"
>>716631"What's a locomotive?"
she asks innocently."What ABOUT here? It is a transient place. Charming in its own way, but only a temporary home for me. I must secure a way out, no matter the cost."
"A big metal thing that doesn't rely on physical power to run it. Sort of like a huge wagon, I guess." My eyes shift back over the edge. "Yeah, I guess that's what I thought you'd say." I take a step back and brush my suit off. "Well, I gotta go do a couple things before we take care of the snake." I smile and give a little bow. "It was nice talking with you for a little bit, your grace. Genuinely."
>>716637"Fascinating. And it is not powered by magic? The wonders of future technology. Was that what the giant metal contraption outside the market was?""I… appreciate your company,"
she replies begrudgingly. "'Tis good to have someone to talk to, other than that chattering ape Mercutio."
She continues to watch the landscape, and as you leave, you hear the erstwhile queen humming a soft, nameless melody.
You leave Kairon to her thoughts and head downstairs into the brig. Clawson seems to have gotten a rubber ball from somewhere, and is bouncing it aimlessly on the wall of his cell, catching it easily every time. He gives you a side glance, not stopping his boredom relief routine. "The cold blooded killer himself," he snarks. "What do I owe the pleasure?"
I grab a nearby footstool, set it on the floor in front of the cage, and sit down. For a long moment I don't say anything at all. Just lace my fingers together, rest my arms on my lap, and stare. Finally I sigh, close my eyes, and shake my head. "I'm probably not going to kill you. Not right now at least. But I guess you know that already. Trust me, though. I want to. More than I've wanted to kill anyone I've ever met, I think. I can't really put my finger on why, though. It couldn't be because you tried to kidnap Violet. There was a changeling- I think I told you about him- that tried that. He's dead now, but I don't think I really wanted
him dead. It can't be that you tried to swindle us. I know you would have doublecrossed us in a heartbeat, but I've been doublecrossed before, and I didn't wish this much ill will toward him."
I rub my eyes with my thumb and forefinger. "I think it's because I'm confused. Part of me is telling me one thing That I want to get to know you. To see the good in you, and accept that you're only doing what you're doing because it's a job. The other half is screaming at me that you're just an evil, manipulative shit sack that, if we don't dump, will keep stinking the place up and probably eventually kill us." I nervously tap my foot. "I'm not used to that, and it makes me angry."
He only half listens to you, the ball bouncing on the wall occasionally interrupting your train of thought. As you quiet down a bit, he stops bouncing for a minute to look over to you. "Okay buddy. Good for you," he says condescendingly. "You done? I've got important business to take care of. As you can see…" He tosses the ball at you, bouncing it off the cell bars with a loud rattle. "…I'm a busy guy. Hehe. So is your little spiel going anywhere, or are you just here to annoy me?"
My tapping foot speeds up and my hands squeeze tighter around one another. I have to actively close my eyes, take a deep breath, and calm myself. I should have just stayed above deck with Kairon. "Like I said. I wanted," I say. "To talk to you a little. To figure out why you're so keen on working with a dragon that won't stop until his actions destroy the whole dimension and The Dominion. To find out what, to you, actually makes it worth it."
"What are you, a psychologist now?" he sneers. "Look, I don't even like Lysander. He's just the guy that hired me. Long as I get my due, we're both happy. I couldn't give less of a shit about his long term plans. World gets destroyed, none of my damn business. Hell, it might even be kinda fun before the end. That enough of an answer for ya, killer?" He eyeballs you from the back of the cell lazily.
I just want a reason to not hate you. Why is that so much to ask? My leg starts bouncing again. "Yeah. I was afraid of that. Money and integrity isn't worth much when there's no world to spend it in, though." I fall silent again and study the floor. After a few long moments I finally say, "What do you know about the army Lysander is building?"
"You don't have to not hate me, killer. That's not how this works. I know how y'all think. You wanna be better than everyone else. You wanna be merciful. To show the pureness in your heart. You wanna prove you're better than scumbags like me."
"Lemme tell you how this is gonna go down:"
"Sooner or later, one of y'all is gonna throw me outta here. I walk free, I come up with a new plan - admittedly a less reckless one - then I see what happens. If you beat me you beat me, if not I get away again and keep hounding y'all to kingdom come." He grins widely, his fangs unfurling and dripping venom. "This ain't gonna end till I'm dead, or all y'all are. I've seen it plenty of times before, and I ain't dead yet. Get my drift, drifter?"
"I know plenty about Lysander and his machinations. Ain't tellin' y'all a goddamn thing, 'less you can offer me somethin' worthwhile in return. So you'd better pull some real good shit out your ass, killer." He waits expectantly to hear your offer.
The longer I stay down here with him the more I want to wipe that smug smile off his face. He's not only right, but that's the exact reason I can't stand him. We let him go and he just comes up with a better plan to come at us. We let him go again, he comes back again. There's no place here with a prison that would have an actual reason to lock him up, and even if there were Lysander would just use his influence to break him out. At the same time every fiber of my being is telling me I can't kill him and we can't just keep him locked up on the ship.
I study his face, growing angrier by the second. As many times as Vi, Silver, and the others have said they admire me, it feels like with every new challenge I wish I was more like them. If I was then I could just run up to my room, grab a balur blood canister, and gas him with it until he spilled whatever little information he had on Lysander.
The moment the thought pops into my head I feel queasy. I couldn't do that. In a fight, probably, but not while he's just sitting there like a caged animal, and not repeatedly.
I stand up, gently pick up the stool, and set it back down next to the doorway. I stop at the door and, without looking back at him, calmly say, "I'll be back later. We've decided what we're going to do with you."
"Course you have," he replies. "You're gonna let me stroll on outta here. Probably even back to my ship, assuming some two bit scrapper hasn't jacked it by now. Cause you're honorable. Cause it's the right thing to do. You're such good people. Maybe you'll get a cookie for it or something."
Before you leave, he calls out. "How many?" he simply asks.
Knowing he's leading me into something, I still can't keep myself from asking, "How many what?"
"How many've you killed?" He folds his arms expectantly.
"I think you already know the answer to that." I turn back to the doorway and leave.
He smirks. "You know, wannabe tough guys like you really piss me off. You go around making yourself out to be a big man, acting like a stone cold killer. You think you're some kind of hero, don't ya. Think you're gonna beat the bad guys, get the girl, save the day. If you're so tough, why don't you just kill me right here and now? I'm here. I'm helpless. And if you don't I'm gonna come back and hound you. And your girl. So why don't you do it? Eh, killer?"
"Gonna save you the trouble of answerin'. You think you can fool people, but I see through you. You're a coward. And a fraud. Hidin' behind a mask so people will think you're so much meaner than you really are." He points an accusing finger at you; you notice he's missing his pinky. "Bigger than you! Bigger than you have tried to kill me! And they were real men at that! But I always win. I always have, and I always will."
"So listen closely, mutt. When I'm outta here, I'm gonna be back. And there won't be a second chance for you then. I see you again, I'm sendin' your pathetic soul straight to hell." He rears up and narrows his slitted yellow eyes, and without warning he gleeks venom at you with a sharp, catlike hiss. It soars over your head and splats against the wall behind you. "Till then. Killer."
My snout curls into a snarl and I walk out without answering. Maybe you'll be my first, Clawson. If it comes down to that.
Having fetched a towel on the way in to the room Zunden, the saurian scoops up the infant baular with her be-toweled arm, cleaning the creature of any leftover fluids from the inside of the egg. Taking her free claw, she lightly scratches the underchin of each head, keeping the creature close to her chest. Despite expecting some nips from at least one of the heads, she gives off a low, saurian chur, temporarily forgetting her other worries for the time being.
"A bird?" i ask, before seeing the feather in question, scanning the skyline for the beast in question.
"Goodness, can our trips ever be simple? I'll let the others know!"
taking the feather, i quickly canter down the stairs on the hunt for the others.
"Nothing we'll need to worry about, probably." he says, looking over the game of tic-tac-toe. Who's winning?
Despite being lightweight, the feather is as big as you are, and cumbersome to handle. If nothing else, it would make for an impressive quill.>>716409
Clawson nods to you in greeting. "Hey, killer. Back so soon?">>716771
You clean the newborn off and hold it for a bit. It presses its heads against your chest gently, curling up its legs to better accommodate itself. It seems to be listening to your heartbeat.>>716783>>716408
You join Norv, Violet and Rabi in the brig. Clawson regards you. "I didn't realize we had the Butcher of Levin herself on board. Shoulda known from the name. Expected someone taller, really. And less pasty lookin'. To what do I owe the pleasure?">>716800
Clawson is, of course.
"Good, good. Had a lovely view of absolutely nothing from down here. Was hoping someone would explain what was going on, but that's alright. Nothing I need to worry about, right?">>716800>>716783>>716408
"So." Clawson sits a bit more upright and slithers up to the cell door, holding the bars idly. "Why are you here? This the regularly scheduled gloating session or something?" He looks from one of you to the other expectantly. A smug, self satisfied smirk denotes he's already guessed why.
"Yeah, probably not. Anywho, you probably already know why we're here. We've talked for more than long enough, and decided to let you loose."
With a twitch of irritation, i brush off the snake's comment.
"Ah, so that's what they called me? An apt name then, though one i may not need to adopt again, provided you cooperate with us."
"We've touched down about half a day from your ship, and are more than willing to let you make your way back to it, if
you leave us be. We've more important things to attend to, and i'd hate to waste our and your time trying to kill each other."
Zunden holds the baular close, moving to lay on her bed so it can rest on her chest. "Zhere we are, welcome to ze world little one.
" She says quietly, running a hand over the creature's back.
I don't respond, instead silently continuing to watch him. My eyes flick to the others and back to him before I take a step backward toward the doorway. "Actually, gimme a sec. I'm going to go grab my sprayer really quick. Just in case."
I don't wait for a reply as I walk out of the brig, head to my room, grab my sprayer, and load one of the sleeper fruit canisters on the way back.
Aegis remained quiet, eyeing Clawson as the others spoke
It is smooth to the touch. You notice that despite having reptilian features, it doesn't actually have scales; it's just thick hide, with very very fine fur, like a Sphynx cat. It presses up against you for a bit, flexing its claws, until it falls asleep after a few moments. You notice that much like a lizard, and unlike a mammal, it already has many of the features of an adult; teeth, claws, and a protective hide. It seems to be largely able to survive on its own right from the get go. Even so, it seems to welcome the embrace of a parent. It clings to your chest idly and pokes its heads away, tongue flitting in and out as it sniffs the air. It seems to still be getting its bearings.>>716811
You gear up before heading back. "Gonna gas me are ya?" Clawson says smugly. "Can't get me with that one twice. I know your tricks now, mutt.">>716815
Clawson eyes you back. "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue? I don't bite too hard, you know. Don't be shy.">>716806>>716809>>716811>>716815
Violet steps in and elaborates some. "You get everything back, but you won't be able to find us this time. Z made sure your compass won't work on us."
Clawson gives a huge, shiteating grin. "I knew it. There's always a way out. Y'all are too soft to let me rot. Hope you realize this is just gonna bite you in the ass." He waits eagerly as Violet rather glumly fetches the keys and his equipment. She unlocks the door and holds it out for him, refusing to make eye contact. He eagerly suits up, stretching. "If I ever see that goddamn wall again, it'll be too soon," he comments. Respecting the momentary truce, he makes no attempt to pull any tricks this time, holstering his trusty sawnoff and fitting his bandolier.
"Now. 'Fore I take my leave. …Y'all mind if I grab something for the road from the kitchen? Been subsisting on table scraps for almost a week. Would like to get somethin' for the road."
Violet looks at him stonily. "Don't push it, snake. Get out before we change our minds."
"Alright, alright, alright. Sheesh. Just askin'." He turns to the rest of the group. "Guess this is it then huh. I'd say it was nice gettin' to know y'all, but it wasn't."
''We have been stalked by some kind of giant bird every since earlier today'' She motions to Silver holding the feather as big as a pony
''You should probably be careful about that''
"Funny thing. Poison doesn't care if you know about it," I say, aiming my nozzle right at him. Just in case he makes any sudden movements.
I feel my finger twitch. "Seems like you'd at least appreciate not being dead."
"Yes, be mindful of the bird out there, Clawson." i nod, waving the saurian off mockingly with a wing.
"It'd be such a waste if you end up dinner for some bird of prey, right?"
"Make sure to write. We'll miss you." the stallion remarks, rolling his eyes a little bit. "If it comes back to bite us, so be it."
"I will have to zee about naming you, little one. But for now, you do not have to worry zhat. You can exzplore if you'd like, or juzt rezt on me.
" She whispers to the baular again, content to let the creature take things slow as she takes a break from the others.
[1d10] bird give me like 20 minutes with the new bab i swear to godRoll #1 4 = 4
"Poison. Thanks for the heads up. I knew I could count on you to do right by me.">>716828
"Oh I'll write. Just for you, sugar." He gives you a wink.>>716825>>716821
His smug smirk vanishes as you mention the giant bird, eyeing the feather. "…Well then. That's gonna be somethin' to look out for I guess. Hm." He pulls at his collar a little, looking genuinely nervous.>>716821>>716823>>716825>>716828
Looking a bit shaken by the news, Clawson pulls himself together. For once, he can't seem to find any zingers to throw at you, giving you a stiff little nod before hightailing it out of the brig as fast as he can. After a minute, you hear a soft thump as he hops off the ship, slithering away into the wilderness.>>716829
It starts plodding around the room, slowly at first, but quickly accustoming itself to walking, quickly scampering around exploring. It seems intrigued by your clothing, one head nipping at the tassels of your new poncho. The other head soon joins in, tugging at it rather forcefully.>>716830
Through the ship's vision, you watch Clawson make a break for it. You see him pause in the kitchen momentarily, but after that he is gone.
''Zunden should be happy now'' Aegis spoke up ''Hopefully he wont try to attack us again''
"Huh… I remember you mentioning a bird, but I hadn't expected something that
big. It's surprising we haven't seen more signs of it than a shadow and a feather."
Distracted with the little balaur, Zunden trusts the others have the situation handled. She humors the balaur as it plays with the poncho, crouching down so she can tug back, playfully. Intrigued, she watches if the heads behave any differently.
''I have a good view of the outside from my room so I could catch a glimpse of it. We should warn Zunden about that so she can be ready to maneuver the ship''
My stomach drops a little. He didn't realize- I rub the bridge of my nose with my thumb and forefinger. I'm an idiot. Oh well. As he slithers off I visibly relax, just glad to be rid of him. >>716840>>716825>>716835
"So. Giant bird. Is that something we should, like, prepare for, or are we just going to cross that bridge if it flies too close?"
"Hmm.. I don't fancy our odds fighting something this big.." i chime in, hefting the feather to emphasis "Though i doubt a ship as large as our will go unnoticed."
"Hrm… well, I don't know how we'd prepare for it, really. Just, try to keep an eye out maybe?"
I sigh. "Yeah. I guess there isn't much else we can do. I'm just getting really sick of being ambushed."
''Who will stay outside and take watch for the bird then?''
"Hmm.. I suppose i could find some part of the deck to hide near, much safer than somepony else standing in the open."
Violet snorts. "He'll be back. I've dealt with bounty hunters before. If he's as stubborn as he seems, he's not going to just give up and go back to Lysander empty handed.">>716840
"Seems like it only just started following us, from what Aegis said," she says, rubbing her chin. >>716842
Both heads clamp down on the tassel determinedly, and as you tug back you lift the tiny thing off the ground a little. It kicks about as its front legs leave the safety of the floor, but is too small to put up much resistance.>>716840>>716844>>716845>>716835
"I think we should wait, and see what it wants. If it's that big, it's obviously not just an ordinary bird. If it's just looking for a meal, then we might have to prepare for a big fight. But there's also the chance it might be intelligent. You know, like a dragon, or something." She shrugs.
"Yeah. I'm not saying we should attack it. Just afraid it'll attack us
while our guard is down. If you think it'll be fine to just wait, though, then I trust your judgement way more than my own for something like this. I guess if it was going to attack it probably would have earlier instead of just stalking us."
"Take turns watching for it, I guess? I it's intelligent, it might be worth trying to talk it out of doing anything harsh."
''The fact that it is intelligent just makes it even more dangerous. It might know to stalk ships that fly by its territory until they land and wait for those within to come out''
"Right.. It would be safest for me to keep watch first, as long as there's space up above to hide in."
taking a few steps up the staircase, i look around the deck for signs of it before heading out.
"Have Zunden take off for the desert, perhaps it might be busy looking for Clawson.Roll #1 8 = 8
Zunden gently lets the balaur down, brushing her claw down the creature's back again. Letting the creature explore a bit more, she collects the shell of the egg, placing it in one of her curios for display. "First of many of memories to add…
" Zunden thinks to herself, remembering Lysander's old ring and adding that as well.
"Oh, I don't think we should let our guard down, at all. But, the sun is starting to go down, and I don't think Z would want to fly this thing in the dark, so we're kind of out of options.">>716858
"That's what I'm banking on," Violet nods.>>716860
"Or… or that," says Violet, swallowing a bit. "I'm really hoping we don't have to fight something on this scale…">>716863
You creep up and examine the area. The sun's starting to set. You see Aurora up in the crow's nest, either not noticing you or not acknowledging your existence. In the treeline, you see a trail left by Clawson from where he slithered away. "He's gone," says Aurora simply. >>716864
You set up your new trinkets, watching as the balaur loses interest in battling the poncho and moves on. Its attention is drawn by the tiny gelatinous cube slime in a jar, heads swaying slightly before it strikes against the glass, perceiving it as a threat. It is too small to damage it in any way, and instead just sort of awkwardly gnaws on the glass, leaving small scratches. The cube, of course, remains inert. wobbling pensively.>>716857>>716858>>716860>>716863>>716864
You hear a distant shout, and the sound of a gun firing. There is also a third sound, an odd rippling sort of sound as of some strange spell being cast. Aurora's ears perk up as both she and Silver see flashes of deep navy blue sparks in the foliage.
''That was fast'' Stated Aegis asshe calmly started making her way up the deck
"Well, the bird is gone, at least, though i dread to know what's going on down there.."
"Aurora! Can you see anything?" i shout up to the crows nest.
"Ah. No chance to rest now, I guess." the stallion says, bolting up to the deck to take a look around.
"No no, little one-" Zunden says, before rubbing her chin, "Perhapz I zhould get you uzed to everybody around here zhat movez."
She scoops up the balaur again, holding it close as she summons a Servitor in front of her.
I jump at the sound of the gunshot, already on edge. "Good goddesses, I just want to get moving and away from here. I thought we were just going to drop him and leave once we saw he was a good distance away."
She just gives you a cold look and shakes her head.>>716880
It struggles futilely as you pick it up, kicking its legs.
A ghostly blue figure appears in front of you, ready to serve.>>716881
"Nothing stopping us from just doing that," Violet shrugs. "Though, this isn't the worst place to stop for the night.">>716874>>716878>>716879>>716880>>716881
As you assemble at the top deck, you don't see anything at first; then, Clawson bursts out from the treeline, flanked by about a dozen skeletons, animated by a malign blue aura. Behind them is a haunting figure; a skeletal stag, draped in tattered grey, a single eye socket glowing with the same blue magic. Its form seems to waver and distort ethereally. Clawson, fangs bared, is backing away from the attackers, kiting them back towards your ship. He fires off a shotgun blast at three of the skeletons.
The skeletons start forming out around him, and two of them attack with rusted blades. You notice that they are draped in the same grey rags as the stag.
The stag turns its attention to you, regarding you silently as the other skeletons focus Clawson. Its eye shifts from one of you to the other before it stares at Norv, who is overcome with a nameless, creeping dread.>roll to resistRoll #1 3 = 3
Forgot skeleton attacks: [2d10]Roll #1 9, 2 = 11
Of course he would lead them back here. Now we're going to have to help him. I feel the color drain from my face and I stumble backwards a little as the thing turns its attention toward me.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Rabi, not liking the look of a glowing blue skeleton at all, lets out a bit of a panicked shout before shouldering his rifle, flushing it with magic, and taking a light-laced shot at it!>Surge Shot [1d10+2] (Radiant, Autocrits)Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
As you summon the Servitor, the balaur tenses up, freezing its place and arching both necks like a snake. It stares at the apparition unmovingly.
affixed by the stag's glare, i try to look away from whatever spell it's casting!
"Clawson, you horrid lizard! What did you plan this time?!" i yell to the saurian belowRoll #1 6 = 6
Seeing Rabi draw his rifle and take the shot, Aegis began summoning a few orbs of magic to her side
''So, this means we are helping him then, very well''
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 6 = 6
"Dear, are you really going to help the same saurian currently after our heads? There's no guarantee he won't just turn around and attack us!" i ask, watching you fire in disbelief.
"I mostly just don't want it going after us! I don't like that look in its, uh… eye socket."
Stroking the balaur, she commands the Servitor to extend it's hand out to the infant creature. "Go ahead and nip it if you wizh, it iz not your enemy. Familiarize yourzelf wizh it." She says says in a low, soothing voice.
My knees shake as I take another step back. "Then provoking it wasn't our best bet."
To your shock, you feel your body moving by some malignant, alien will, as if you are being puppeted by some alien force.>roll to break free>>716891
Your shot illuminates the scene. The wraith-like stag and the skeletons around it seem to flinch a little, but are otherwise unharmed.>>716894
"This ain't my doing!" he yells back. "Out there in the woods… a mass grave…">>716895
"I mean… I guess?" Violet says, unsure of what to do. You summon a orb of magical ice, which floats in circles around your head like some sort of strange halo.>>716902
It doesn't seem to understand what you said, but takes a fleeting nip of its own will at the Servitor's hand before squirming out of your grasp and hiding under the cabinet. >>716891>>716889>>716894>>716895
Clawson doesn't manage to get his shot off before he is overwhelmed by the skeletons, who knife him brutally several times. He collapses from the blow, but twists around and gets back up.>Escape Artist
He takes a swig from his hip flask, and his injuries close.
Three skeletons attack him at once.
Norv, now puppeted by the stag's magic, moves around jerkily like a marionette, his claws outstretched to attack Silver.
The Wraith Puppeteer watches the scene unfold impassively, seemingly focused on maintaining control over Norv.Roll #1 9, 5, 2 = 16
/ Roll #2 10 = 10
Seeing Norv possessed, Violet covers her mouth in horror before hesitantly moving to restrain him as best she can.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
"No. No. No no no, someone pin me." My heart races as I attack Silver against my will. This is bad. At least it wasn't someone stronger, but this is really bad. I close my eyes and struggle to break free.
[1d10] GlC if fail.Roll #1 8 = 8
With Norv lunging at me, i try to dodge his oncoming strike, applying a coating of Midnight oil for a shallow cut!
[1d10+1] Sleep serumRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3
"A-Any clue how to fix something like this?" he asks, nervously lobbing a ball of fire at the skeleton in hopes of distracting it from the possession.>Magic Bolt [1d10+2] [1d10+2]Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
Aegis's attention is taken away from the Wraith and the skeleton situation as she turns to Norv, seeing him about to attack Silver. Taking a step towards the dog, she wills her frozen halo into a beam and shoots it at the Dog's legs
''Brace yourself, Norvegicus'' She says as she closed the distance to touch him…
'1d10' homing magic, Ice
'1d10' FrigorRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
Unsummoning the Servitor, Zunden crouches down on the floor, not going as far as to look under the cabinet, but still sitting close to it. She waits patiently for the balaur to come out. "It iz alright, I am here."
You are forced to watch as you elbow Violet in the face when she goes to distract you. She stumbles backwards and clutches her nose with a soft whimper. You look on, as well, as you wrap your hands around Silver's throat before throwing her to the floor of the deck. Focusing, you reach out to whatever profane force compels you, and with great mental effort, overthrow its grip. Several surreal, horrific images of death and decay fly through your head, but they are gone in a flash, and you find yourself back in control of your body. The Puppeteer stumbles backwards, seemingly faltering from your resistance to its mental attack, clutching its skull for a moment.>>716909
You are not quick enough to dodge, and Norv wraps his hands around your neck, crushing your throat before slamming you to the ground. You can barely breathe from the powerful attack, and your head feels light.>Silver takes 5 hits, helpless>>716910
You fling a fireball at the Puppeteer, but it passes right through its ghostly form. It seems like assaulting it does little.>>716911
Your shot goes wide and hits a tree. Norv feels an unearthly chill pass through his body, but is otherwise untouched.>>716912
It pokes only one head out warily, still suspicious of its surroundings. The other is munching on a cockroach it found.>>716907>>716909>>716910>>716911
Clawson twists his body around one skeleton, constricting it until it shatters in one swift movement, following up by uppercutting a second so hard its head falls off. It is still moving, however. The third manages to get a good slash on him, and he counters by biting at it, followed by a shotgun blast to its ribcage.
[1d10] Skel attack
[1d10] [1d10] Clawsonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdWpL-gCJJQ
As the control over Norv is broken and Rabi continues his efforts to take down the Puppeteer, it turns its eye towards the ship again, this time somehow looking almost annoyed by you. Its antlers glow deep blue, and the skeletons turn their attention from Clawson to you, rushing towards you in a flurry of bones, trying to climb up the ship's hull toward you.
The Puppeteer focuses its eye on Rabi, antlers lighting up again as it fires a bolt of navy blue magic, streaked with black.
[1d10+2] [1d10+2] Magic BoltRoll #1 2 = 2
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
/ Roll #4 8 + 2 = 10
/ Roll #5 2 + 2 = 4
Shocked by the surprising strength of Norvy's grip around my throat, i fail to react as my vision begins to fade, before being slammed violently into the deck.
Coughing violently, i try to get back up onto my hooves.
[1d10] RecoverRoll #1 5 = 5
Rabi blinks as his fireball passes directly though it, and tries to duck out of the way. He's slung enough spells to not want to be on the receiving end of one.>Dodge [1d10]Roll #1 2 = 2
Aegis backed away from Norv, and was about to hit him with another frozen blast, but noted his movements werent as erratic and uncanny as before. She also heard the distinct rattling of bones approaching and immediatelly turned to the direction they were coming from, launching the orb meant for Norv towards the skeletons to stop their advance
'2d10' magic bolt, iceRoll #1 10, 1 = 11
I move to check on Vi, but have to rush to the downed Silver instead. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Both of you. Silvy, are you okay?" I could have killed her. I really could have killed her. I move to help her up, steeling glances over my shoulder at the fight off the ship.
"My poisons are useless against undead, and I don't think I'll be any use up close either," I tell everyone. "Do we have any flammable liquids on board? Oil, high proof alcohol, anything like that?"
[1d10]help SilverRoll #1 8 = 8
''Now is not the time for regrets, Norvegicus. Look in the kitchen there might be some cooking oil there''
Zunden snorts a little in amusement, scratching the head of the one not eating, thinking about heading to the kitchen to grab something for the other head, she does a quick scan of the ship to see where everyone is. Noticing everyone off the ship, she lifts the balaur up into the empty bathtub/barrel, petting it one more time before closing the door behind her and going to see where the others went.>summoning Servitor, again.
"I'm fine, Norvy." i reply after another bout of coughing. "Goodness, could you not have held back? I had no idea you had the strength for something like that!"
You are too winded from the surprise attack to get back up on your own, but Norv gives you an apologetic helping hand.>>716915
The bolt hits you square in the chest, sending you stumbling backwards. You feel a dull, throbbing pain course through your entire body as your strength is sapped by dark magic. You fall over on your side.>Rabi takes 5 hits, helpless>>716916
The orb becomes an icicle and rockets towards the first skeleton to clamber over the gunwales, piercing its chest. It falls apart in a clatter.>9 skeletons remaining>>716917
"Id's nod yo fauld," Violet says, still clutching her nose as she struggles back up. "Bwoody sgeled'ns…" You see Aurora staring coldly from her perch as you help Silver back up.>>716920You find it difficult to speak. The words barely come out, and your voice is raspy and croaky from having your throat crushed.>>716919
It pushes its head against your finger as you do so, rubbing its face on you. It wriggles in protest as you pick it up with a soft hiss, but is content to stay in the container you picked out for it. A Servitor materializes behind you as you head upstairs. You can hear fighting.>>716914>>716915>>716916>>716917
The Puppeteer shifts its gaze, focusing Aegis with its manipulating magic. An all too familiar feeling of unnatural dread courses through her.>roll to resist
The horde of skeletons starts sweeping up onto the deck, clambering up with animosity. One skeleton attacks each of you, including Aurora, who's flown down to join the fight, but excluding Aegis.
[5d10] Norv, Violet, Aurora, Silver, Rabi in that order
Violet wipes the blood from her nose and lashes out at the skeleton with a leaping kick.
Aurora flutters away from the skeleton targeting her and slashes at it rather clumsily with her new sword.
The remaining three skelets start moving to the lower deck.
Clawson holsters his shotgun and starts trying to clamber back up onto the ship. "Throw me a rope, will ya? Can't help much from down here!"Roll #1 8, 3, 6, 8, 1 = 26
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 4 - 1 = 3
I let out an uncomfortable chuckle. "Yeah. I might have known considering some of the stuff I've pulled before, but it always surprises me too. Sorry.">>716918
"That might work. I'll need some matches too. I'll grab Z while I'm down there. She'll probably be back up before me. Try to hold them off.">>716921
I groan. "As much as I'd hate to say it I think we should help him. He was a pain in the ass for us to fight, so it'll probably be the same for the skeletons."
"Anyway, I'll be right back." I head below deck, shouting, "Z, we got a situation on deck! We need you!" On my way to the kitchen. Once there I frantically search around for oil, matches, and hopefully some string or twine or something.
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
coughing out the last of my response, i opt to save my breath and focus on the horde of skeletons around me.
It's too painful.. I'll have to have Zunden look at it later.
making an effort to duck around the charging skeleton's flailing, i pull both of my shivs into a flurry of slashes!
Norvy is right, we're both out of our element, but if i can just strike at the joints..
Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 3 = 3 / Roll #3 7 = 7
Hearing fighting, Zunden prepares a spell, ready for anything.>Bask: Healing Bonds
Rabi wheezes a little bit as he feels the dark magic seep into his muscles, but manages to shrug it off and bounce back to his hooves. Snorting a little bit, he'll take a shot at one of the skeletons, willing thr bolt of magic to split and hit a second.>Magic Bow (Split) [1d10+2]Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10
Violet hesitates, but nods simply as you agree to help Clawson.
You are beset by a skeleton, which gouges into your good shoulder, but you manage to fend it off and escape to the lower deck. After a quick search, you find some spare rope lying around, as well as lamp oil and a flint and tinder.>Norv takes 3 hits>>716926
You manage to flutter out of the way of the incoming skeleton. It grazes your wing with its swipes, and you retaliate with a flurry of strikes that send some of its bones flying every which way. It remains standing, but is falling apart at the joints.>Silver takes 3 hits>>717039
You find the party fending off an attack. A spectral skull headed stag with a single glowing eye seems to command a legion of skeletons, which are boarding the ship with murderous intent. As you survey the scene, you are confronted by three of the skeletons, one of which takes a swing at you with a rudimentary club.
The magic arrow splits in two in midair, shattering two skeletons into smithereens.>6 skeletons remain>>716923>>716926>>717040>>717040
Violet kicks away her attacker and moves to help Clawson up on deck, hauling him up with one swift movement. She looks annoyed at having to team up with him, but he seems to relish the general mayhem. "Groovy," he grins as he pulls out the shotgun. He takes aim and fires at two of the skeletons.
Aurora is shanked in the side by her attack. She cries out and doubles over, gritting her teeth and swiping wildly at it with her sword.
The other skeletons continue to attack.
[5d10] Silver, Aurora, Violet, Rabi, Clawson
The haunting stag focuses on one of the fallen skeletons, its bony antlers beginning to glow. Transparent strings begin to appear above the bones, and they twitch and begin to slowly reform.Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
/ Roll #4 4, 4, 1, 6, 9 = 24
During my search I drop by my room and grab the helmet I'd planned on giving Vi as a gift.
I wince in pain as I pull out one of my canisters, empty out the dyed water, dry it to the best of my abilities and fill it with oil. On the way back above deck, I fit the canister into my sprayer and dip the rope in some of the extra oil. Right before going above deck, I tie the oil soaked rope around the front of my sprayer nozzle with the oil part right in front of it, kneel down, and smack the flint and steel together to try and spark it.
On the way by Zunden's room I shout, "Z! Grab Vi's sword spear thing! She's gonna need it!"
"Any clue on how to stop this stag? Or should we just beat it? I don't know if this's something we can really handle, especially if it can just pick the skeletons back up."
Aegis's movements suddenly stopped, interrupting her next cast as she realized the feeling she was under. Slowly, she turned her head to the Ghoul pupeteer and stared at him with a piercing calm gaze as she shutted the gates of her mind
'1d10+2' resist>Aegis calm state of mind give her a +2 to resist mind-affecting effectsRoll #1 7 + 2 = 9
You shrug off the mental manipulation with ease. The stag takes a step backwards, almost as if surprised by your resilience.
With my wing being cut, i grit my teeth as i trigger the orb above me, the energy sealing the cut and emboldening my blades
Determined, i try and fell the now rattled skeleton while i have the chance!
[1d10+1] melee, Orb-chargedRoll #1 6 + 1 = 7
/ Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8
Aegis kept her eyes locked on the stag for a second more before turning around to face the immediate threat of the skeletons. She began casting another set of orbs to fight with
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 9 = 9
Rabi takes in the frozen light orb to patch up his newly-acquired shakes from the bark magic, and tries to pick a skeleton off with a bolt of fire!>Fire Bolt [1d10+3] [1d10+3] Roll #1 3 + 3 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 + 3 = 8
''One of us needs to attack the master while the others keep the skeletons busy. Rabi, try to hit it with your shots whenever you find a chance to!'' Aegis shouts as she slowly reposition herself better on the battlefield
"…Gah, I'm an idiot. Vi!" he calls out, fishing through his pack and passing her the beetle-shaped whetstone. "Try using this! It should help!"
Zunden nods and runs into the fray, holding up her gloved to block the incoming club, shouting out to Violet "And a gift from me az well! Zorry it iz given with zo little zeremony!"
She quickly gets to work restoring her healing orbs to her allies.
[1d10+3] Healing Bonds, Aurora (not frozen), Rabi & Silver (frozen)
Meanwhile, the Servitor picks out the other incoporeal creature to combat, given their shared ephemeral forms.
[1d10] spirit on wraith actionRoll #1 3 + 3 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
You cause a few sparks, which become a roaring flame as they come into contact with the rope. Your sprayer is an intimidating weapon when it's set alight.>>717047
With a burst of newfound vigor, you lash out with your blades in a scissor slash, relieving the ailing skeleton of its head. The rest crumbles into a pile of useless bones.>>717048
You summon 4 orbs above your head, scintillating with crystal shards.>>717049
The skeleton wallops you upside the head, and in return you shoot its leg off, leaving it hopping about awkwardly. Fire seems to be slightly more effective.>>717051
"Wha?" She wheels about as you call her name, catching the whetstone midair, inspecting it curiously for a brief moment.>>717052
The glove lights up, and you hear an arcane whoosh
as the attack bounces off harmlessly. You don't even feel the impact.
Violet examines the weapon in confusion, then grins. "I lige id."
You heal Aurora's injuries, and send orbs out to Rabi and Silver.
The Servitor surges forth to engage the Puppeteer, who hurls an orb of dark magic at its feet, stopping it dead in its tracks. The stage is set for battle between the two.>>717042>>717047>>717048>>717049>>717052
The stag manages to revive one of the skeletons, which traipses jerkily past its master and up onto your ship.
Before it can land another blow on her, Aurora runs the skeleton through the chest with her sword savagely, kicking it to the ground and stomping it into submission.
Violet sidesteps the incoming skeleton, grabs it and suplexes it into the ground, following up with an elbow drop that sends bits of it flying everywhere.
Clawson's gun jams. He suddenly looks a lot less cocky before he's uppercutted by a particularly large skeleton, sent stumbling into a railing. "Not as planned," he grunts.
>4 skeletons remain
The skeletons continue their assault.
[4d10] Zunden, Violet, Rabi, Silver
Violet rubs the whetstone along the twinblade. With a low chiming sound almost as of some distant church bell, the blades alight in lilac flame. With a grin, she gives the weapon a good twirl before hacking at the skeleton.
Clawson fires at the skeleton attacking Rabi.
Aurora looks about the battlefield before swooping the skeleton attacking Zunden.
The Puppeteer tries to raise another skeleton.Roll #1 4, 4, 6, 5 = 19
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
/ Roll #3 5 = 5
/ Roll #4 3 = 3
/ Roll #5 4 - 1 = 3
I grin and sprint above deck. "Vi!" I shout, pulling out the mask with my free hand. "This was supposed to be a gift, but I thought it'd probably be best to give it to you now. Surprise." I toss the helmet her way. "Everybody stand back! I'm not sure if this'll work!" Trying to suss out the largest group of skeletons I can hit without hitting anyone in the crossfire. Taking a deep breath, and offering a prayer to whoever is listening, I squeeze the trigger.
[1d10]Roll #1 5 = 5
Rabi calls out "Rub it on your weapon! It lets you hit ghosts- u-unless I bought a dud, that is!" before taking another chance to enchant his weapon with golden energy and shoot at the Stag.>Magic Bow [1d10+2] (Light Element)Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
After a brief glance towards Aurora, Aegis moves in towards the Puppeteer. Firing a fierce bolt of ice at the skeleton that socked Clawson without as much as looking at it. Her eyes stayed focused on the Ghoul leader as she advanced
'2d10' Magic Bolt, Ice
'1d10' Spellcatcher, PuppeteerRoll #1 4, 2 = 6
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
Taking the offensive, Zunden grabs her staff with both claws and swings it like a bat at the skeleton who's attacking her, aiming to home run the skull. Filled with determination, she issues a wordless command to the Servitor, causing it to take on a golden shimmer as it grabs at the wraith's throat, empowered by the Chariot.
[1d10+1] Hitting skeleton with staff
 Chariot empowered ServitorRoll #1 5 + 1 = 6
>>717053How could i forgot, Rabi dearest gave me just what i'd need for this!
dodging back and away from the skeleton attacking me, i take a moment to search my things for the exorcist's blade Rabi gave me.
Violet grabs the helmet looking a bit perplexed, but gives you a grateful smile before putting it on. You're not sure whether she looks menacing or ridiculous, but nonetheless she keeps fighting with it on.
You are almost bowled over by the pressure coming from it, but you soon recover and unleash a gout of flame onto the battlefield, incinerating the skeletons as you wave your impromptu flamethrower about, torching them as best you can. One of them falls to the flames.>>717055
You shoot it in the glowing eye, piercing its skull with golden light. It stumbles backwards and lets out a spine chilling hiss, clutching its head. One of the skeletons gets a hit in on you, which smarts but isn't enough to fell you.>Rabi takes 1 hit>>717056
Its profane magic is beyond your area of study. Your ice bolt hits the skeleton, but doesn't seem to do any damage to it.>>717057
You behead the skeleton with a hefty bonk, leaving it disoriented as it searches for its head.
The familiar rumbling resounds throughout the battlefield as the Servitor grabs the stag by the throat before it can revive a skeleton, ramming it against a tree. It makes an unearthly, ear piercing squealing sound as it flails about in the Servitor's grip.>>717058
You pull out the blade. It is a shortsword of an oriental design, made of steel with elaborate swirling patterns and a guard in the shape of a lotus flower.>>717058>>717057>>717056>>717055>>717054>3 skeletons remain
The stag conjures a dark magic orb and tries to hit the Servitor with it.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1] Magic Bolt
The skeletons, now on fire, continue to brainlessly attack.
[3d10] Norv, Violet, Zunden
Violet fights back with her new weapon.
Aurora keeps trying to destroy the one attacking Zunden.
Clawson slams the skeleton attacking Norv with the butt of his shotgun.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9
/ Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4
/ Roll #3 5, 4, 7 = 16
/ Roll #4 7, 6 = 13
/ Roll #5 7 - 1 = 6
/ Roll #6 7 = 7
The Servitor doesn't flinch, emotionlessly continuing to choke out the Wraith. [1d10]
Zunden meanwhile holds up her rings, attempting to stun the Wraith and the other skeletons, given Rabi's attack proved effective.
[1d10+1] FlashRoll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9
With the new blade, i rush back into the fight, slashing at the skeleton attacking Zunden!
[1d10+1] MeleeRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
I'm incapable of keeping myself from letting out a mad cackle. "It worked!" I shout. It actually worked. Maybe I'm not as dumb as I thought. I turn the flamethrower on the skeleton attacking me and backpedal to try to avoid it. I have no idea how long this canister is going to last, but I feel like we'll be overwhelmed if we don't keep trying.
"Z!" I shout. "Do you think should take off? We don't know how strong that thing is!"
[1d10]Flamethrower, improviseRoll #1 8 = 8
Aegis is forced to take a big step back to avoid getting caught in the flames
''Try to not set the ship on fire, Norvegicus'' She quips at the dog before turning back to the battlefield, guiding the floating orbs of magic to strike the 3 remaining skeletons and and the stag, along with an extra bolt for the Fiendish Deer
'1d10' Homing magic, Elementalist Ice, Skeleton A
'1d10' Homing magic, Elementalist Ice, Skeleton B
'1d10' Homing magic, Elementalist Ice, Skeleton C
'1d10' Homing magic, Elementalist Ice, Puppeteer
'1d10' Magic attack, PuppeteerRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
/ Roll #4 7 = 7
/ Roll #5 2 = 2
"Hey, that did it!" he shouts out, wincing a little from the light pain. He rolls back a little bit, and takes a shot at the offending bag 'a bones.>Magic Bow: [1d10+1]Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
Choking it out doesn't seem to do much when it doesn't have any lungs to breathe with. The Wraith Puppeteer is restrained, but unharmed.
The skeleton strikes you roughly, and you counter it by shoving your ring in its face and producing a flash of magical light. The skeletons and their master alike seem to hate it, cowering and hissing at your brilliant display.>>717061
You lash out at the skeleton, but bounce off its exceptionally dense bones.>>717062
You torch the skeleton with what's left of it, reducing it to a pile of ash and charred bones. The flames from your sprayer sputter and die out, leaving a smoking red rim around the barrel that fades to black.>>717063
Your first and last shots go wide, while your others either harm or outright destroy the remaining skeletons, the Puppeteer notwithstanding.>>717064
You back up and wheel around, nocking and firing a magic bolt in one swift motion, destroying the skeleton.>>717064>>717063>>717062>>717061>>717060>1 skeleton remaining
The Servitor is blown away by the dark magic blast, its grip broken. The Puppeteer bears down on it, antlers growing as it stamps its hoof, shadowy tendrils appearing from the ground to attack the Servitor.
The remaining skeleton attacks Clawson.
He retaliates by rearing back into a defensive stance, putting up his dukes and hitting it with a one two combo.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
Rabi sets his bow aside and reaches for the Copperhead Rifle, fumbling in his pack to pull out one of its cartridges. He focuses his magic into it, and takes a shot!>Surge Shot (Light) [1d10+2]Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11
Eager to finish this mess, Aegis turns to the last skeleton standing and dismantles it with a magic blast aimed at its skull
'1d10' Magic attack
''Get the Master before it tries anything to get away. I will stay here and try to put out and remnants of fire ''She commanded the others''Roll #1 8 = 8
"Yeah, I'm working on only hitting the skeletons. Besides, we got you if something goes wrong! And I didn't blow up. So that's a win in my book."
I look down at my nozzle as the flames die. Well. That was good while it lasted. Looking around, I spot the last skeleton attacking Clawson. I sigh and drop my sprayer nozzle, grab its head while it's distracted, and try to wrench it off. If I'm strong enough to practically crush Silver's throat, I'm sure I can do this much. Right?
[1d10]Cheap ShotRoll #1 10 = 10
The Servitor strikes one last time, backhanding the Puppeteer. [1d10]
Seeing the great amounts of damage the spirit has taken in her steed, Zunden then desummons the Servitor, not letting the Puppeteer have the satisfaction of dealing a powerful blow to it. She then rests, seeing the others take care of everything else.
>Bask: Healing BondsRoll #1 6 = 6
With the others handling the summoner, i sheath the blade and turn my attention to the deck, fanning my wings in an attempt to put the fire out
[1d10] ExtinguishRoll #1 6 = 6
You line up a shot and shoot the Wraith in the chest. Cracks of light spread over its body as it begins to shriek and convulse like a dying insect, and with a sudden burst, it disintegrates into glowing white chunks, leaving nothing behind save for the skull.>>717068
You fire a magic missile at it, stopping it in its tracks before it can attack Clawson.>>717069
You throw your hands around its head and pull it backwards. The skeleton struggles and swipes at you incessantly, until eventually, with a loud crack
, you wrest its head from its shoulders. Clawson takes the opportunity of it being stunned by the attack to whip out his shotgun and blow the remains away, scattering them across the ship.>>717070
The Servitor punches it in the face, but just before it is annihilated, Rabi's light arrow pierces its twisted heart, and the vile specter is vanquished. Only the skull remains.>>717071
You put out the flames Norv caused, though they were small and in no danger of spreading rapidly. The ship is safe, and evil is vanquished once again.>>717071>>717070>>717069>>717068>>717066
There is a slightly awkward silence after the last skeleton is destroyed, as Aurora's attention diverts to Clawson. "Get out of here," she says simply and coldly.
"What, just like that? Thought we had a good thing going. I-"
She shoves him, almost sending him over the edge. "Alright, I'm movin'. Geez." He looks at her sourly, then to the rest of you. It's like he's lost for words for a while. "You coulda just ttaken off, you know. But… thanks. Probably would be a goner if y'all hadn't lended a hand. And unlike a lot in my business, I value my life." He gathers his effects and does his best to look good. "'Till next time." He starts slithering off."
." Zunden with force behind her voice, calling to him as she stands atop the ship. She climbs down. "You won't be leaving until I at leazt patch you up. I waz ze one who wanted you releazed ze mozt and I waz remizz not to zpeak to you before you left. Additionally, I'd love to give you proper rationz before you left, not whatever you palmed." She says, looking to his bag.
Aegis spares Clawson a glance as he's pushed away before she starts casting soft ice magic pellets and rains them down on any remaining blazes and flames around the deck
''I did not expect to see a necromancer just roaming these areas without a seemingly good reason'' She makes her way towards the Skull of what once was a Stag and examines it
"Yeah. We could have." I say. I sigh and follow Zunden off the ship. "But we didn't. Z is right, though. You're still banged up from the fight. And, uh… Thanks for helping taking out that one that was going after me." I cock my eyebrow. "Actually you probably could have taken off while they were distracted with us. Why didn't you?"
"Actually, on that note do you think you can hit me with a heal too? One of those skeletons got me pretty good. It's not so bad I can't deal with it, but it still kinda smarts."
Rabi lets out a sigh of relief, leaning his gun against the railing and looking the skull over to make sure it's gone. He flicks his ears a little, and looks to Clawson along with the others. "At least stay long enough for Zunden to patch you up. You're lucky we're too nice." he remarks, stretching out a little.>>717075
"Norv's got a point- why did
you stick around?"
"Of courze, Norvegicus, I'll be patching up all of you."
"I didn't take nothin'," he answers defensively. "I can forage my own food.">>717074
You examine the skull. It doesn't take an expert to recognize a cursed object. You feel like nothing good could come of tampering with this skull, but it may be worth quite a bit, to the right person.
"It wasn't wanderin'," Clawson explains. "Just past that treeline there's a mass grave out in the woods. Skull was just lyin' on top of it. Went to get a better look, then that ghost popped out and brought all the undead with it.">>717075>>717077
"They were on my ass too. I take off some woulda followed. Easier to fight a big horde like that when I have some backup. Plus. Was hoping they'd have somethin' on em worth the trouble. Doesn't look like it though. Just long white bones with no skin on. Ain't even good for chewin'."
With the fire handled, I try to flag Zunden down with a wing.
”zunden.. my voice-" I manage to wheeze out, before coughing "can you help?"
I nod. "Right. Makes sense. Well, motivation aside, thanks anyway." I look up at the ship and cup my hands over my mouth. "I don't know who's it was, but I used some of your rope and lamp oil! Sorry! I'll buy my own next time we come to a town!"
"Oh, wow, you're still-" Damn. I hurt her that bad? And she fought
like that? "Sorry."
"Fair enough, I guess. I didn't expect much on a bunch of bones.">>717080
Rabi flicks his ears, letting out a panicked shout and rushing to Silver's side.
"S-Silver! I hadn't noticed how damaged your throat got." he says, pulling her into his chest and stroking her back softly.>>717082
"Don't apologize, Norv. It's not like you were in control."
''I wouldnt call that a wise choice, the dead dont take kindly to being disturbed. I dont blame you, however, I likely would have done the same. Just like I would run back here for help'' Aegis looks up as she replies to Clawson before turning to Zunden>>717078
''Zunden, what do you make of this?'' Aegis held up the Stag's Skull ''I can feel some latent magical energy from this, not the good kind though. Should we keep it, or would it be better to place it back where it was found?''
I nod, offering a smile "not.. your fault">>717083
In An attempt to avoid straining further, I lean into your embrace in silent appreciation
"You know full well how a Zanctuary workz, Clawzon. Invoke zhiz when injured or keep it out when you need a light. Zhiz iz no peaze offering, but I do not wizh to come acrozz your corpze one day. You have your own fate you muzt come to realize.">assume heals and re-orbing, don't want to waste time for that. She resummons the Servitor, fetching the rations she once made for Hermodur, however it does not give them unless Clawson shows whatever he took.>>717079
"Aurora, your azziztanze pleaze? I'm popular right now." She says, taking to mending the pegasus' throat as she turns her head to Aegis.
"Give me a moment, Mizz Glaze. I have a lot on my clawz right now."Roll #1 7 = 7
He grumbles. "Yeah yeah, don't get sappy, mutt."
"I thig thad's bide, o' Silb's," says Violet, looking over the helmet while pinching her nose, still dealing with her nosebleed. She tosses her head back for a moment, then heads over to you with a smile. "Id's gread," she says with a beam. "Thags! I really wadded id before." She gives you a warm hug of appreciation and a big kiss on the head, grateful for the gift.>>717080
Violet frowns. "Silb? Gods, yo throad…" She looks at you anxiously, then at Zunden, helpless to do anything about it.>>717084
"I can't help bein' curious," he shrugs, folding his arms. You hadn't noticed before, but he's missing a pinkie. "Probably gonna be the death of me.">>717086
He pauses before unapologetically pulling out a huge entire raw chicken he'd nicked. He seems to leave it at that, then, whether out of guilt or a sense of obligation, or both, he reluctantly pulls out a second chicken.
He nods as you explain the orbs. "Can't say I ain't grateful for this. You're one of the good ones, ma'am. …Might save your life one day. Maybe." With that, Clawson is gone for real, heading off into the wilderness, pausing ever so briefly to look back at the ship.
You lay your hands on Silver's throat, channeling your healing magics into her. Through no small effort, you think you manage to cure Silver's throat, if only a little. It's not until then that you realize that Aurora ignored your request, and is looking on broodingly from the sidelines.
I chuckle. "Yeah, I know. Was going to be a surprise for when there wasn't too much going on, but-" I shrug. "And, uh… I think you can take my place in the healing queue. Get your nose patched."
I watch as Clawson leaves and, when he's out of sight, sigh again and shake my head. "Really wish we could've met that guy under better circumstances. Guess that's a common theme with us now, though." I grin and look around at everyone else. "How about my flamethrower, though? Hope it didn't damage my sprayer any, but man. That was neat."
"Hold one more moment, Aegiz.">>717087
"Zhat zhould deal wizh ze pain, you can eizher return to my room later tonight for me to finizh healing it, or let it heal naturally. For now, I would zuggezt brewing zome tea, a warm drink will help wizh ze healing."
She then heads to Aurora, taking a knee besides her, "I azzume zhiz iz my treatment of Clawzon?"
''It will if you remain alone. Having allies you can count on when you are cornered is a good way to avoid dying''
With the Clawson gone, Aegis turns back to Aurora ''How does the new Rapier fit you? I saw a bit of how you performed with it…''
"Thank you, Zunden." the stallion murmurs, offering a nervous smile. He looks back to Silver, and nudges her a little bit.>>717085
"Feeling better, dear?"
The pain clear, I breath a sigh of relief. "Well," I begin, rough sounding but clear "hopefully that's the end of that.">>717089
"A cup of tea [I]does[/I] sound lovely about now, I may have to follow through on that, thank you."
"W-Well… you sound a bit better, at least. It doesn't hurt anymore, does it?" he asks, slowly loosening his embrace and giving her a curious look.
"I may sound ragged, but the pain is gone at least, nothing to worry about" I reply "Though zunden did make a good point, would you care to join me for some tea, dear?"
"I'b fide," she says dismissively. "Jusd need to resd id off. 'Eal yoselb, you loog lige raw mead.">>717089
She shakes her head. "I'm not touching her," she says simply, still glaring daggers at Silver.
You see Violet holding her new weapon off to the side. She looks like she wants to say something to you, but seeing the look on Aurora's face, it doesn't seem like a good time.>>717090
"I'm still getting used to it," she answers, pulling it out and looking it over. "It's very lightweight. Tricky to use properly. Easy to learn though. Just stick them with the pointy end. Right?">>717092
Your voice sounds raspy, and beneath that, a little deeper and huskier than it ever did before. With luck, the raspiness should subside by the morning.
You notice Aurora next to Zunden looking at you with a sullen expression.
"Oh, thank goodness. I think you still sound wonderful, if it's any positive." he offers, before nodding a little "Tea? Yeah, I'd love to."
Zunden looks from Aegis, to Violet, to Silver, then to her room, then finally back to Aurora, letting out a small sigh as as she realizes just how burdened she is right now. Closing her eyes, she lets out a small nod "You are well in your right to, Aurora. What Zilver did in Dominion waz dezpicable, and zhere iz all ze reazon for you to be upzet wizh her, epzecially given your pazt. Zhere iz a zaying about ze tarot I found waz almozt identical to one zaid in ze Dominion:Better ze Devil you know, zhan ze Devil you do not
. I rezpect her for telling uz what zhe did, inztead of zhrouding herzelf in zecretz like anyone elze in ze Echoez could."
Your words don't do much to dissuade Aurora's newfound animosity towards Silver. "I'd have preferred not to know I was traveling with a monster," she replied. "It doesn't matter if she's a different person now. She butchered people for nothing
. She doesn't deserve our friendship." Her grip on her rapier tightens a little. "I mean first her, then Clawson… what next? Are we going to let Lysander waltz about the ship? We shouldn't be harboring these people. They're scum. We're better than that."
"Zhe iz a perzon
, Aurora. Doez zhe not zhow care over ze ozherz here? Love for Rabi? Have you zeen her do anyzhing zhe haz claimed to have done zinze arriving in ze Echoez? I zay zhiz, az my own beliefz and not meant to be your own az well:" Zunden says, softly,
"One'z pazt cannot be ignored, but it doez not damn zhem for ze rezt of zheir livez. If zo, would truzt anyone here, at all? Ze nature of a wolf did not dizzuade ze pony from teaching it to be ze dog, for even one'z nature iz not fixed. If all ze label one rezievez iz zcum and criminal, what iz it zhat you ezpect zhat perzon to become? We hold influenze over eachozher, and it iz a tool ze Dominion haz uzed againzt ze populaze to enzure zhoze zhat do not fit zheir will never are able to become zomezhing elze. Ze zenter of my philozophy iz thiz: If you inztead treat zhoze who would ozherwize be hated and zcorned az zomeone capable of changing, zhen do you not believe zhey will begin to believe ze zame zhing?"
"But… it feels like nobody really acknowledged it, or even seems to care
," she retorts forcefully. "It's one thing to want to give someone a second chance, and another to forgive someone for being a mass murderer." She folds her arms. "Even if she does want to move on and be a better person, it doesn't change the fact that she did… that.
And she doesn't even seem to care herself. Barely any remorse. Just shrugged off like it's a tiny mistake. How… how can you do that?" she says, almost pleadingly. "How can you forgive someone for being so heartless?"
"Ah, now zhat is a valid point. I believe zhere waz zuch a muted reaction only for her having revealed it in ze pazt, before we had met you. Zhoze of uz in zhat bar have had a good monzh or zo to rezt on zhat realization and to make our choizez on what to zhink about ze mare. Az for forgivenezz, I cannot forgive her, in truzh. Not in zhat zhe iz unforgiveable, but zhe haz not wronged me or ozherz in my knowing of her. I cannot judge her, for I know not ze conditionz zhat had molded her to act ze way zhe did. You are more aware of ze life zhe likely lived beforehand, zo I azk you to continue to hold ze belief you have."
She looks away, "I know not what goez on in ze mind of ze mare Zilver Zong. To come to a better underztanding, it iz somezhing you would have to azk her yourzelf. What I do know- pain and ire. My plaze in ze world iz to minimize az much az I can of bozh, to whatever degree I can."
"I…" She looks confused, angry and conflicted at the same time. "I suppose you're right. I can't just ignore her forever, can I. But… I can't help but feel that I see through her. I'm not a mind reader, but fro mwhat I've picked up, she was highborn, and just turned to that out of… curiosity? Boredom? And that's more vile than anything else. Imagine murdering dozens, just because you can. She's sick. I… I want to believe that even the worst person can change, you know. Like you do. That anyone can be good, if they just try. But… having seen some of the evil that's in the Echoes… I just can't help but feel that that's wrong."
"…He laughed at me, you know," she says quietly. "When I confronted him. When I told him my name, how he'd taken everything from me… he just didn't care. He didn't even know who I was. And when… when it was over, I didn't feel… like I'd gotten revenge, or peace, or justice. I just felt… empty. Like… like there was a hole
in me, and… and it had just gotten harder to fill. Killing him didn't do anything. It didn't feel like anything. It just… it just was…" She trails off, swallowing and wiping her face as she stares blankly down at Silver and Rabi.
She looks at you with a haunted expression after a while. "…I'd… I'd like another reading. If you have the time. Before we reach the desert, I mean. I can't help but shake the feeling… we might not get many other chances to… to do things like this."
Seeing Aurora upset again, Zunden's expression shifts to sympathy. She hesitates in worry it will just make the bat pony more uncomfortable, but she eventually hugs Aurora, not knowing the correct words to say at the moment. "Pleaze, come to my room tonight. I wizh I had ze zort of time to talk wizh you indefinitely, hear you out until zhere iz nozhing left to zay. However, my attention iz conztantly being pulled by ze ozherz. I promize, I am happy to lizten to you tonight until we bozh cannot ztay awake any longer."
She nods, looking out ahead of them into the wooded area, "I agree zhough, about zuch chanze zoon leaving uz. I…" her voice breaks, the caring soft voice being replaced by one of equal concern, "Zhat feeling you have iz zhared. Between vizionz and foreboding premonition I.. I am afraid of what iz to come. I feel ze reading I did for myzelf when I arrived here the future ze cardz have predicted are zoon to become ze prezent. Ze image of ze Tower has haunted my dreams up until our dreamlezz night beztowed upon by Black Pudding."
She returns the hug with one arm, giving you a sad little smile. "Thanks, Zunden. I don't know what I'd do without you. Really."
She looks apprehensive and even a little frightened as you speak of the Tower. "Well, let's hope that the cards are wrong then. As are we. I don't imagine this is going to be easy on any of us, is it." She joins you in staring out at the forbidding treeline. "I wish it hadn't been us," she says softly. "Why do we have to be the ones saddled with all this? It's so far removed from anything I've done before… and the thoughts of what this Cuckoo thing might mean for the… for existence… It's terrifying, to be honest."
"Why Fate haz chozen uz, I know not eizher. Fate iz fickle, and oft cruel - but we can only do zo much to change it. At ze very leazt, it haz brought uz together, no?" She stays there kneeling in as they both contemplate the future for some time, but eventually she starts to stand. "I apologize again, I'd give you hourz of my time if it wazn't for everyone elze here. Perhapz I zhould ztudy how to zplit myzelf into copiez, if only to eaze my burden a little." She chuckles softly, leaning on her staff to help herself up.
She smiles again, though this time it is more from raised spirits. "Yeah. It hasn't been all bad, has it." She keeps staring out at the treeline for a moment, barely acknowledging you excusing yourself at first, but then doing a bit of a double take. "Oh no, go ahead. I'll stay up in the crow's nest for a bit. I love the view from up here. …Plus, someone's got to keep watch for that strange bird. I wonder what it wants…"
As you move to leave, she hesitates before rushing over and giving you a quick wordless hug of gratitude, followed by her fluttering up to the crow's nest. You pass by an idly roaming Kairon as you enter the lower deck, who greets you with a stiff little nod; however, what gets both of your attention is the faint singing coming from the crow's nest.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBi5Dd1vn4AFrom the plains that sleep below
To the canyons open wide
Hear the song of gentle mourning
For the lost and lonesome bride
On the hill and in the valley
Where the weeping flowers hide
From the song of gentle mourning
For the lost and lonesome bride
Now he roams through hill and valley
And the canyons open wide
Singing songs of gentle mourning
For his lost and lonesome bride
For his lost and lonesome bride
Kairon flows past you and up the crow's nest, and, to your surprise, the spectral monarch joins in as the song concludes. Aurora seems surprised, trailing off and letting Kairon finish. They both have excellent singing voices. They exchange a few words, but you cannot make out what they are saying from this distance.
Zunden stares up at the crow's nest wistfully, glad at least Aurora's mood has momentarily been improved. Turning to Violet, she rubs the back of her neck, approaching her. "Zorry, my rolez on ze zhip are many, I don't mean to give more priority to one zhan anozher." She smiles a little, motioning at the spear, "Zorry we could not give ze giftz at a better time. After I pulled you out of ze zewer water and cleanzed you, I wanted to zalvage what I could of ze zpear. I know you were attached to zhat weapon, zo I wanted to at leazt zave a pieze for you, if not get it reforged."
She chuckles, "Zomehow, ze zmizh I came to happened to be ze original creator - more proof fate tiez uz togezher. I hope you like it, ze two bladez can be zeparated at ze grip, juzt incaze you wizh to uze zhem az zwordz."
Violet looks up from examining her weapon. Her nosebleed seems to have improved some, though she still unflatteringly sniffles a bit. "Aw, you shouldn't have!" She gives you a big bear hug of gratitude, perhaps a little too tightly as she squeezes the air out of your lungs a bit. She's beaming from ear to ear as she breaks away. "So it's made from the spear? That's great! Was a shame that old thing broke, really. I liked that thing." She looks up to you with shining eyes. "It's better than anything I could have imagined! Thanks so much, Z!"
She splits the blade in two with a satisfying chnk
and examines them more closely, still giving you her attention. "So you met Hadrian, huh? He's very… blunt, isn't he. But he's the best smith I know. He works so fast, and everything he does is such high quality… We're lucky to have him around." She smiles again. "But wow! Now I feel bad for not getting you anything, haha. Sorry. I, uh, didn't really do much shopping, come to think of it. Was more preoccupied with info gathering, and such. " She rubs the back of her head. "Oh well."
"You know, if there's ever anything you need from me, you can always let me know. I owe you one for this. Everyone does, really. I don't know where we'd be without you!" She beams again.
Zunden's face flushes, whether it be from being squeezed tightly or not expecting such a positive reaction. "Pleaze, you owe me nozhing, you all have kept me zafe in ze Echoez - I would be nearly defenzlezz ozherwize."
"Me and Norvegicuz zpoke to eachozher when we zaved zhoze clozhing merchantz earlier, he waz not a fan of Mizz Aegiz putting down ze appearanze of ze helmet, and I agreed he zhould get it for you. It did look quite nize after all. I told him about ze zpear zhaft and well.. we were going to give zhem togezher az a gift." She chuckles again, "It iz a zhame we had to give zhem in ze heat of a battle."
"Well," she shrugs, "better late than never, right?" She chuckles a little and gives the twin swords a good twirl before joining them back together into the dual glaive. "Thanks, Z. Really. I'd cook you something in return, but I'm sure you value your insides. Haha."
I knit my brow and give her a concerned look, but she's right. I took a pretty heavy hit on my way below deck, and even though it's just surface stuff everything aches. "I guess if you're sure. I just kinda feel bad.">>717107
I have to actively keep my jaw from dropping as I listen to Kairon and Aurora sing. Damn. She said she could sing, but she can really sing.
"Maybe we'll be on better terms next time we see him, at least? If we see him again, that is."
"Nozhing practize cannot fix - I'd zpend time teaching you, but, well-" She looks up the crow's nest, then to Aegis patiently waiting by the skull, "Az per uzual, zhere iz only one Zunden, and many of you. Az alwayz, perhapz when we are done wizh ze Egg."
get the fuck out of here fat assed zebra
wow you can't just say that!
i'm gonna do it, i'm gonna say the n-word
''Hm. Its not a common weapon where I am from, so I couldnt advise you on it. So long as you feel its working better for you than your previous weapon so far, I'll be happy'' Aegis says, dismissing her orbs and putting away the shield
Zunden heads over to Aegis, looking over the skull,
"Zorry for the wait. Let uz zee what dark magic inhabitz zhiz zkull…"
here's a few rolls of Antiquarian so you can skip ahead and not make multiple addendum posts saying i failedRoll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 4 = 4
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
Violet sniffles a bit, rubbing her snout tenderly, then sniffles again a bit more loudly. "Hey. It's not your fault. That wasn't you. I'm sure Silver will be fine." She turns over the helmet in her hooves. "This thing's really neat. I thought it was a real skull, but it's actually made of wood. Pretty dense wood at that." She knocks on it to show it off. "Pretty impressive. Thanks for getting it for me!" She gives you a long, warm hug and a kiss on the head. "Now we can both look spooky. Heh.">>717360
You sense powerful dark magic coming from the skull. It seems to be a conduit for all sorts of dark sorcery.
>Wrathful Skull>catalyst, passive +1 to spellcasting when used, access to Commune>The skull of a vengeful wraith. When one dies in the throes of powerful emotions, a wraith may be formed, echoing their last thoughts and emotions towards any that may cross their path. Only by carrying out their final wishes may these spirits be laid to rest.
>timeskip>everyone back at full H/W
With Clawson gone and the enemies dealt with, you tend to your wounds and take to the skies once more. The rest of the night is uneventful, though once again, you don't dream of anything at all.
The following morning, you find the ship traveling over arid badlands. A hot wind blows from the southwest, indicating the climate is beginning to change. Far, far off in the distance, you can see the beginning of a ring shaped rock formation, jagged and menacing, the hills so densely clustered together that they would be impossible to pass normally were you on foot. While this range is unfamiliar to Aegis, the rest of you know it all too well; this is the stone barrier sealing away the Shifting Sands. From the distance, it seems like it will be almost a week before you reach it, even by airship.
Silver finds that her throat feels much better now, though it is still a bit sore. Her voice sounds a bit different as well, though not unpleasantly so; it is huskier, perhaps a bit deeper. The rasping, at least, has stopped.
At about midday, Aurora reports something unsettling. From her vantage point, she spotted a great winged shadow following at a distance behind the ship, every so often dipping effortlessly into the landscape below and seemingly vanishing. It seems that this is the great eagle Aegis reported earlier, though it is clear by now that it is no ordinary bird.
"It wasn't so much flying," she says uneasily, "more… hovering. Gliding, even. Then it just nosedived into the treeline, then… then nothing. It was gone. Just like that."
Violet looks disturbed by the news, rubbing her mouth in concern. "Hum. It's following us, but it doesn't seem to want to attack us. Otherwise it would've done so by now, from the looks of it." She looks to you all with a knitted brow. "I think we should keep moving, and try to put distance between us and whatever it is. Though we could try going to it, and seeing what it wants… What do you think Should we leave it or try to engage?"
"Going after it's not the best idea, I think- with how easily it's ducking in and out of sight, I'm not too comfortable with going off-course trying to find it. It'd be nice to try and take a chance to talk to it, though- it's no ordinary bird, so maybe we could communicate."
''We should Engage'' Aegis speaks up ''It could be possible that this bird is related to Lysander, perhaps employed to monitor us and somehow communicate what it sees back to Lysander. Or one of the other bounty hunters that are after you all and the reward being offered for Violet''
She looks at everyone in the room ''And if not, we should certainly take the chance to talk to it if we can, but I agree with Rabi, it is crucial that we dont waste time trying to get to it''
"If it wizhed to attack, would it have not already? Personally, I'm more curiouz to zee what it wantz."
Zunden muses, holding a swaddled and squirming balaur in her arms.>>717371
"Zhiz too perhapz could be true, while our zhip and it'z contentz cannot be tracked by magical meanz, it doez not mean regular tracking has become ineffective."
"I really don't think we should bother it. If it wants to attack I'm sure it will, but I'm also sure it'd try to comminicate if it wanted. That's assuming it can, I mean. I really don't think we should mess with it if we don't have a reason."
"You don't suppose it thinks us prey of some sort, do you?" I ask, pleased to hear the pleasant change in my voice. "If it's inevitable that we'll have to deal with it, i'd much rather take care of it here than in the desert."
"With how long its been following us? It probably would have attacked already if that were the case. I can't imagine it specifically honing in on us and just stalking us for this long if we were prey."
''If it wanted to attack, it would have done it by now right? It had many opportunities to do so before. When we landed, and when we fought the Wrait… I dont think it is hunting us. If that was the case, it would certainly have attacked Clawson once he was separated from the ship''
"Hmm.. perhaps we should
come about then, to see if it can speak, or is carrying somepony who can. Better than having it follow us, at least."
Aegis turned her icy gaze to Silver ''Then how will you approach it? Do you have a way to do so that does not involve approaching with the ship? Do you think you and Aurora could perhaps fly towards it'' She puts a hoof to her chin ''Although, that would be rather dangerous…''
dangerous? That's- that's incredibly dangerous! Even if it's not hostile something that big could easily acidentally hurt someone. I imagine just a wing flap alone would make it hard to fly near."
"I would zhink it be zafezt if we had it approach ze zhip. We have cannonz, zhey zeem like what would be ze mozt effective weapon to deal wizh an enemy of zhat zize."
"Well, if we were to avoid involving the ship, Aurora and i would have to fly there ourselves, While i'm confident in my flying, having a bird of that size after us would make things complicated."
''Yes, I apologize for even bringing up such a dangerous idea'' Aegis hung her head in shame>>717386
''Indeed. But approaching with the ship is easy to see from a good distance, and considering this ship's slow speed, the bird could easily fly away if it wanted to. What will you do if this happens then?''
"If it attackz uz, and zhen fleez, zhen we can move on. I do not intend to let it approach and zhen fire at it wizhout reazon."
"If it refuses to attack us, and refuses to communicate or come closer, then we've little choice other than to ignore it or risk myself and Aurora in confronting it up close."
"If it flies away when we try to approach it then we don't bother it. Cornering something is what you do when you're hunting or trapping. It's the last thing you want to do if you aren't wanting any kind of confrontation."
''I'm not saying that it would attack us, but considering it hasnt yet, it could be that it knows about the ship's cannons, and is being cautious and keeping its distance. If that is true, then it further comfirms that it is related to Lysander somehow, as this ship is his''>>717392>>717393
''I suppose there is nothing we can do about this situation then. Unless any of you has another, safer idea on how we could approach it?''
"Sadly, approaching by ship really is
our best method to confront it, unless we'd prefer to ignore it and continue on.">>717390
"What say you, Zunden? Shall we confront the beast, if only to see what it wants?"
Aegis follows Silver's gaze, eagerly waiting for Zunden's aswer
"…yez, zhat iz what I zaid earlier."
"Truth be told, I'm a little curious too. I'm just worried we'd spend a lot of time doing it and not get much to show for it. If it's what everyone else wants, though…" he shrugs a little.
Clearing my throat, i look away with a blush.
"Ahem, Right. I suppose i was absorbed in my speaking with Aegis. Do what you will, then."
''Then I'll shall get ready and wait in the deck with Aurora. The cannons are controled by you when you man the ship, yes? Because I could try to provide additional firepower to fend of the eagle if needed''
"I have never operated zhem, however I am zure ze Zervitor could teach ozherz how to operate zhem manually if needed."
''Understood. Then have one teach me and anyone else willing to handle them while we make our way to the bird''
Rabi gives the mare a soft pat on the shoulder, and chuckles a little bit.
"It's intelligent enough to be following us for this long," Violet nods. "And maybe even before that…">>717371
"That's what I'm thinking," Aurora chimes in. "Though, if it were trying to spy on us, you think Lysander would have found someone more discreet.">>717372
Aurora observes the strange creature silently as it nips harmlessly at your upper arms. Violet does a bit of a double take. "Oh, it's hatched. Neat. Do you have a name for it yet?">>717374
"It doesn't seem hostile," Violet muses, shaking her head. "I'm sure if it wanted to it would have taken down the ship at some point.>>717384
Aurora merely shakes her head, looking like she'd rather jump in a piranha tank than spend time alone with Silver.
Violet nods, seemingly not agreeing with the idea but going with it. "Alright, let's do it then." She moves above deck as Zunden turns the ship around, and Aurora takes to the crow's nest.
The ship lands just on the treeline of a dense patch of bushland. The trees here are pale, thin and twisted, branches stretching over the thickets and gnarled vines to form a densely woven canopy. The soil is dark red, and behind you, the trees give way to little but dirt, shrubs and saplings. Overall, the bush here seems forbidding. No sign of the strange eagle that's been stalking you just yet. Aurora gets changed into more practical clothing, while Violet gears up, splitting her twinblade into dual swords and donning her new skull shaped helmet. With the visor still up, she turns to look at the rest of the group. "So. What's the plan then? Are we gonna just go in there and take a look around?"
"I have not, no. I waz looking to zee if ze book of beaztz haz any inzight on what it'z zpeciez of balaur it iz before making any decizizionz, but I forgot to azk Aegiz."
She holds up a claw, "In fact, Aegiz, haz ze book written a new page given ze dizcovery of ze giant feazher?"
''I have not checked yet, forgive me. I will go retrieve it immediately''
Aegis heads back in the ship to get the Book of Beasts and hand it to Zunden>>717413
''Assuming the eagle is perched somewhere hiding in this woodland. But some of us should stay behind to try and defend the ship or send a warning to the others in case something happens''
I sigh. Guess it could be for the best. Silver was right not to want to deal with it once we reach the sands. "Alright, I guess we're doing this then."
I stand beside Violet with my gas mask pulled above my face and on top of my head. The last thing I want is getting in there, finding out it is a bounth hunter, and my gas being blown back in my face by the high-altitude wind. I've loaded a sleeper poison canister into the sprayer, but the charred wick-like rope is still tied to the end, pulled back enough to not get in the way.
For easy access I've slipped my haste and bolster wands into the overcoat's pockets, and two more sleeper poison canisters into the others. I really need to invest in a bandolier or something.>>717415
My face pales at the mention of the feather. "Actually I just thought about something. I know this is a bad time, and I could be remembering wrong, but didn't that guy with… uh… Dawn? The blind portal lady. Didn't he say something bad would happen if a piece of the cuckoo came in contact with the egg? I did mention that the feather came back again, didn't I? After he burned it."
Holding the balaur, she looks at Aegis instead of trying to free up her claw any more than holding it up briefly,
"Perhapz you could read it out loud?"
''Of course. I could also hold it for you if you need to free your hands''
With that, Aegis opened the book, flipping the pages for a new entry
"Maybe I could take a look around, if everyone'd prefer? I could pop right back as soon as I spotted it."
"Ah, aztral projection! Zhat iz a great idea Rabi."
''It would be very dangerous to walk around these areas on your own Rabi, are you sure about this?''
Aegis glances to Zunden again ''Oh. I see now''
"Ah. Since you haven't seen it before, I can do Astral Projection. It's a little… weird, on both ends, but it's come in handy a few times. I picked it up after using it from a scroll once or twice."
"I suppose i could stay behind to guard the ship, if need be.">>717423>>717426
"Ah, an excellent idea, dear! That way, none of us would have to split up."
''Yes that is quite the useful spell to master. Coincidentally it was one of the next spells I was working on learning, along with the field of illusion, please do show how you do it''
"Yeah, sure. I wish I still had the scroll lying around, but it's been really handy." the stallion mentions, settling on to the deck and beginning to focus.
"It's mostly an internal thing, really. I can explain it in better detail once I'm back, since I don't want to take up too
much time now. As a note… don't be standing up when you do this. Maybe I'm not quite the best at it, but I tend to just sort of… slump over. It's apparently very unnerving.">>717430
"Exactly! See you in just a bit, love."
Aegis kept a close eye on the stallion as he moved back and explained himself
'1d10' spellcatcherRoll #1 7 = 7
Violet looks at you with fear, shifting in her seat nervously. "It… came back? H… how?" >>717419
The balaur starts trying to climb you like a tree, slowly crawling up your chest and onto your shoulder. It stares at Violet curiously with both of its heads. She forces a smile at the tiny creature.>>717422
While there isn't an entry for giant eagles of any sort, there is a new subspecies of balaur listed.
>Bloodtongue: Small, wiry frame. Dark coloration with yellow stripes. Vivid red spiked tongues. Beware of caustic vomit. >>717437>>717438
You leave your body for a time and depart the ship, moving through the woodland realm unhindered by the foliage. It still feels a bit strange to be in this form, like a vague, faint trickling sensation over your whole body, as if someone were gently pouring lukewarm water over you.
You move through the bushland in complete silence; the only sound you hear are the calling of distant birds, the buzzing of insects, and the rustling of other small creatures beneath your feet. There is no sign of the great eagle thus far; however, you do hear oddly familiar voices in the distance, though you can't place them yet, nor make out what they're saying. You also hear the hammering of tent pegs. Seems like a camp being set up.
"I have no idea. It freaked me out when I first felt it back in my pocket. Whatever reason, it ain't good." I glance up at the baby balur and smile. "Huh. Cute when they're that small and not dismembering you. You name it yet?"
You observe as Rabi suddenly seems to pass out, slumping over where he sits and going limp as a boned fish. You've seen magic like this before; you're fairly confident you can replicate it on some level with your skills.
Rabi frowns a little bit as he searches through the woods for any sign of the eagle. He's got a feeling it's not going to be here- how could something that size fit in brush this dense, anyways? Regardless, he continues onwards.
He flicks his ears a little upon hearing the tent pegs, and the voices. If there's others out here, it couldn't hurt to see who- so, he follows after the sound of the voices.
Aegis read that out for Zunden before closing the book>>717445
And then closing her eyes and focusing her mind, silencing everything outside of herself until only her heartbeat sent ripples through her body, and then she silenced that too, until her feeling on her body faded away and she felt her mind slip away from her body>Astral Projection, ice
With Rabi settling into a trance, and Aegis oddly enough following suit, i Nip back downstairs to properly slip the armor plates onto my dress and gather my weapons, heading back up top.
"Right then, i suppose we'll have to keep an eye out while they search the area."
"Violet azked ze zame zhing, I've yet to dezide zhough, I've been racking my mind for an appropriate name from my native tongue. It iz increazingly difficult to remember zhough.">>717450
"Very interezing, I hope I can teach it to hold it'z bile for enemiez."
You head towards the voices and come across a camp being set up. You see a ring of stones and a bit of kindling for an unlit campfire, along with several packs full of supplies. Off in the distance is an old shack. It doesn't look like anyone lives there
There are three figures present, two of which you have met before. Dawn, the blind mare, is sitting on a log with her hoof around her partner, the armored hippogriff Carabas. He looks pale and exhausted. The third is an elk. He wears a long, ragged bandanna, a fur cloak, and sports a pockmarked face with dead black eyes, and cold, blackened hooves. Something about him disturbs you. You watch as the elk unfurls a piece of cloth, which magically transforms into a tent.
"…and there is still much to go," says Carabas. "I do not know if I have it in me to fly that far…"
Dawn fumbles before laying a hoof on his shoulder reassuringly. "The spell is taxing, isn't it."
Carabas nods simply, looking blankly at the ground. "Just… give me a moment. Please. I'll recover. We can keep traveling soon." The elk pauses and looks over to the two questioningly. "Don't… don't bother with the tents," says the hippogriff knight. "It's alright. I can keep moving."
You concentrate, then feel a strange sensation, like someone cracked an egg over your head and it's trickling down your back. Looking around, you are treated to the surreal sight of your own comatose body sitting there. Your own form is translucent, pale blue with wisps of icy mist wafting off of it gently. It is one of the oddest sensations you've ever had.
Aegis tried to maintain her composure the best she could, willing herself to move her own ethereal body around, flying towards and through the floor of the ship and the through Norv to test if she truly was a spirit
Rabi blinks in surprise upon spotting the trio- two of which are immediately familiar, and the third one stirring an odd sense of unease. Not ready to head back just yet, the stallion tries to get a better look at the strange elk.
(Once he has, he'll try to re-trace his steps quickly. Navigation roll again?)
You don't really fly, so much as walk a foot or so off the ground. Touching Norv doesn't do anything either; it seems you are intangible, but cannot pass through objects the way you would like.
Aegis looked down at her own hooves after bumping into the Norv, still grasping the situation she is in
after testing out her voice by whispering and then shouting out loud as hard as she could to see if she could get any reaction from anyone in the room, Aegis returned to her own body
You drift closer to the elk, examining him. He looks wan and clammy, almost like a corpse; in fact, unless you're mistaken, he is very much a walking corpse. He seems fully sapient, however, unlike most undead. It does not seem he can speak.
You are dimly aware of Dawn looking in your direction, despite her blindness, as if she were vaguely aware of your presence. Carabas notices her staring. "Is someone there?" he asks, eyeing the huge greatsword he has propped up against the log.
"…I thought I felt… something," she says quietly. "But it's gone now."
Nothing happens. They are completely unaware of your actions.
You return to your body, feeling a sudden rush of warmth. The whole experience felt so strange, that it is as if you had dreamt it.
Aegis stayed quiet as she got up and stretched a bit, as if this was something she's done before
''This was pretty…'' She pauses, searching for a proper word ''Wild'' She says to herself and anyone else in the room hearing
Rabi shivers a little bit as he looks the undead over more, and makes note to ask about that if he gets the chance.
Taking note of the fact that Dawn can sort of… sense him, he offers her a bit of a wave. "Wait here, yeah? We'll swing by in a bit." he says, ending the projection.
Aurora jumps a little as you start moving again. "Wild how?" she asks, sounding intrigued. "What's that like?">>717484
You're not sure if she heard you or not. You rush back into your body, waking up again back at the ship. "What did you see?" Violet asks with curiosity.
''Its like a dream. I could hear and see the world around me, but something always felt wildly different than reality, it was especially clear once I saw my body on the floor, and when I returned, it was like how when you wake up from a dream, and you have the memories of what happened in it, but instead of realizing those memories are fake, and fade quickly from the mind, they still feel real like any other memory'' Aegis shook her head
''Its strange, like dreaming while awake, and then waking up without having slept''
"I saw Carabas and Dawn! I think Carabas has been turning into the giant bird, and flying them along. He looked like he was straining himself, though… we ought to go to them, if we can. They've got a… sentient dead among them, too. He gave off off vibes."
"Ah, Carabas and Dawn? Out here? And in the company of an undead, at that! How strange.."
"While it may be unusual to find them here, They've been our allies since our stay in Braildorn. Perhaps we should speak with them?"
Zunden nods, "I'd at leazt want to hear from zhem what happened while we were imprizzoned."
"I wonder why they didn't just drop in, then. Do you think they don't know we got out and got our ship back?"
"Yeah. Let's hurry, though- Carabas is pushing himself really hard with that transformation." the stallion says, grabbing one of his staves, his bow, and hopping off of the airship.
''I remember those names being mentioned before. THey are your allies against Lysander right?''
"Ah, that would
make the most sense! As far as we know, they've only seen lysander and his crew retaking our ship.">>717498>>717486
stepping off the ship, i follow behind Rabi as well.>>717499
"Indeed they are. The pair are hunted by the dragon, just as we are as well. If they're nearby, having them along for the final trek would be very helpful."
"Yeah. A hippogriff and a blind mare. They're good people."
''Ah, that is a relief then. I would like to meet those two, if you dont mind me coming along''
"Well, of course. I wasn't intending on going it alone."
She listens interestedly. "How strange. I can't remember the last time I dreamt of anything, but I understand what you mean. I think.">>717489
"A sentient dead?" Aurora parrots. "Like, a lich or something? That sounds ominous…">>717497>>717500
"That'd make sense," Violet concurs. "They probably think we're Lysander.">>717507>>717505>>717500>>717497>>717496
"Let's get going then," says Violet with a nod. "Good to know we won't have to be fighting a roc any time soon."
Rabi leads the way into the dense bushland. You push your way through dense, untamed foliage, clambering over logs and hacking through wild vines and bushes. It is not long until you hear familiar voices in the distance, but as you approach, they go utterly silent at the sound of your movement, as if they vanish into thin air.
Zunden remains on the ship, as not to leave it undefended and capable of lifting off at any time.
Aegis matches the silence, waiting to see what the others will do
"So, uh… should we say something before we approach?" I ask, not bothering to whisper. "I feel like if we just kinda drop in they might be a little on edge. Might even get attacked."
"I'm not sure- I definitely didn't like the look of it, but if it's with them it can't be bad." he offers, before leading the group onwards.
Rabi frowns a little bit as the voices go silent, and gives a soft shrug. "I guess they heard us…">>717574
"I'll go ahead and say something- they'll probably recognize us, right?" he offers, before picking the pace up and moving ahead of the rest of the group.>>717571
"Uh… hello? Carabas?" he calls out.
All sounds cutting out from our allies, i hang back from the group, keeping low.
[1d10] StealthRoll #1 10 = 10
You stay behind and wait for them to return. Kairon materializes from the floorboards, watching curiously as everyone leaves. "I must have missed a conversation. Where are they all off to? They are not abandoning the ship, are they?">>717576
You take advantage of the dense foliage to take cover, concealing yourself completely from view.>>717574
Violet nods, looking a little nervous. "Yeah, let's… not antagonize them.">>717575
No response yet.>>717576>>717575>>717574>>717573
Aurora silently gets your attention. A huge, lumbering elk is standing behind you, the one Rabi saw earlier. He is clad in a billowing fur cloak and a patchwork scarf covering most of his face. He bears many scars across his face, while his eyes are black and lifeless, as are his hooves. The elk's antlers swirl with purple smoke, ready to attack any of you at a moment's notice.
Rabi turns around and freezes in place with a quiet whinny, staring up at the elk for a few moments. Eventually, he lets out a soft sigh, and tries to calm himself down enough to speak up.
"H-Hey, uhm… a-are Dawn and Carabas here? I swung by earlier, sorta… they're friends of ours, and we just wanted to offer for them to ride with us."
Watching the elk with cold intent, i hold my tongue, staying in cover for now.
I slowly turn around, yelp, and stumble backwards as I see the elk, and my foot slips. He's scarier than I'd imagined. When did he even get there?
[1d10]Catch myselfRoll #1 1 = 1
Aegis squinted slightly at the sight of the strange elk. She eyed him for a moment before opening her mouth to speak ''We are not here to fight, Stag, please cease your hostility''
"Former acquaintanzez make zheir prezenze known, if you were witnezz to ze great bird ztalking uz, we zhink zhat to be zhem. I exzpect ze ozherz to be returning to here wizh zhem."
Zunden says, turning to the spirit, "I hope you would treat them wizh rezpect, a knight and zheir damzel make up ze firzt two, ze latter we've never met."
[1d10]Roll #1 6 = 6
Roll #1 3 = 3
He continues to stare lifelessly, gaze slowly shifting from one to the other. He doesn't seem entirely convinced.>>717580
You flounder and fall flat on your ass. Violet pulls you back up, too on edge to laugh.>>717581>>717584
He stares for an uncomfortably long amount of time.>>717578>>717579>>717580>>717581
The elk stands down, the dark magic around his antlers subsiding. He bows his head in a slow nod, then a white glowing outline appears next to him, shaped like a door. Those of you who have met these two before recognize it as Dawn's special brand of magic. She and Carabas step out. The latter is a large, ironclad hippogriff with a huge patterned steel greatsword sheathed on his back, while the former is a hooded, blindfolded unicorn mare with a walking staff. Carabas looks wary, but his expression softens when he sees you. "It's them," he says to Dawn, who relaxes upon hearing it.
"So you escaped Braildorn in the end," she says quietly with a soft smile. "We thought you were still imprisoned by the Skylord. Impressive, that you managed to take his ship. We took you for him, so we followed from the Meet at a distance."
Carabas introduces the strange elk. "This is our friend Etrigan. He was enthralled by a necromancer, but managed to escape, and find us once more." The elk merely nods. "He cannot speak anymore," Dawn adds with a solemn expression, "but it is still him."
>>717582"As long as they show me the respect I deserve,"
she responds haughtily, "any newcomers are of no concern to me. Remember, I am your ally until I am returned to whence I came. And
only for that long."
I brush myself off and adjust my gas mask on top of my head to make sure it doesn't fall off. "Oh, he was the one you were looking for? Glad to see he ended up being okay." Ish. Okay ish.
Aegis continued to stare back at him as well, briefly glancing at Dawn and Carabas as they appear before continuing that emotionlessly glare at Etrigan
Relaxing, i quietly shuffle out of the bushes, appearing behind Rabi and the others soon after.
"Ah, so you've made it safely out of Braildorn then. I was concerned you may have shared a similar fate as us, imprisoned under Lysander's command."
"We've managed to sever all ties lysander has with the ship and are charting a course to retrieve the egg, if you're willing to join us." i add, nodding to the three.
"Oh! There the two of you are! Sorry to approach in such a suspicious manner, we didn't have any time to waste. It's good to see the both of you again, though." he says, breathing out a sigh of relief as the Elk backs down.
"Ah. Hello, Etrigan. I'm… glad you managed to escape, at least." the stallion says, offering a quick nod and looking back to Carabas. "Yeah. We took it, and Zunden's been piloting it. We swung by to ask if you'd like a ride- no need to push yourself if we can go together, right?"
Zunden remains quiet, before nodding, "We are all looking ze pazh to return from ze Echoez, whezher or not we plan to walk it."
Etrigan bows his head mournfully, while Carabas nods grimly. "The important part is he's alive," he concurs. "He is still willing to help us in our fight against the Skylord.">>717588
Carabas notices you staring. "Oh, I don't believe we've been introduced," he says amicably. "I am Carabas, and this is my partner Dawn." "Pleased to meet you," says Dawn with a smile, turning in your general direction as Carabas nudges her. "And you are?">>717589
Carabas jumps a little as you pop out of nowhere. "Hello there! That is good to hear. A vessel like this will serve us well. Though, Lysander's funds are near limitless. I'm sure he has found a replacement by now.">>717589>>717590
"If you would have us," says Dawn politely, "we would be happy to travel with you. The spell I learned at the Meet is quite effective, but it does take its toll on the body." Carabas nods. "I have been flying for days…"
"So you actually turned into that giant bird? That's crazy. I guess you can get just about anything there." I look back toward where we came from. "Well, if you're coming back with us we should probably get going. We've already ran into trouble once. We should probably get back into the air."
"Yeah, I heard them talking about it before." he says, before blinking in rememberance and giving Dawn a curious pat on the shoulder "Speaking of… did you feel me, by chance? I said I swung by earlier, but I wasn't really
here. I tried to ask you to stay put for a while, but I don't know if that actually got through…" he says, letting out a soft chuckle.
"We can walk and talk, though. Our ship's this way."
Aegis nods in acknowledgement, finally breaking away from Etrigan ''I am Aegis Glaze, another drifter sentenced to this realm. I crossed paths with this kind group and they have helped me in the past few days, now I return the favor by offering my service in their plan to end Lysander's schemes'' she bowed with her head for Carabas and Dawn ''I have heard about you before, Dawn. Was told you were a skilled mage, and from what I saw of that strange brand of magic, that was not a lie. It is an honor''
>>717591"It seems that way, yes."
She is quiet for a bit. "You do not plan on going back, then?"
she asks inquisitively. "Do you not wish to return to your homeland? The way we are going, everything may return to the way it once was."
"Of course, of course, we've plenty of room aboard for the three of you, right this way." i add, gesturing towards the ship as i take the lead. "Once we've taken off we'll have time to properly catch up, I've no doubt Lysander has plans to make for the egg as well, the more of a head start we secure the better."
"I have no intentionz on bringing back ze dead. Bezidez zhat, my home haz yet to prove itzelf a fixed locazion. I can do ze mozt good here now, anywayz."
She smirks, "Bezidez, you would not like a zubject like myzelf in your kingdom, I prezume. You had a choize dezcription for me when we were firzt introduzed. Ze kingdom of your kin put me here for zympazhizing wizh criminalz and trouble makerz, after all."
Carabas nods. "The spell is extremely fatiguing. Neither of us can hold it for very long before it breaks. We were stopping here to convalesce before continuing to follow your… your ship." He looks a bit awkward admitting to stalking you.>>717594
"I felt something," Dawn answers. "A presence, of a sort. Like we were being watched. That is why we went to such precautions. Apologies if we intimidated you.">>717595
"Oh? A fellow mage?" says Dawn. "It is indeed an honor. I studied the arcane for many years back in the Dominion, and specialized in very unique forms of such. If we travel together, I'm sure we will have plenty of time to discuss such things.">>717597>>717594>>717593
"We are pressed for time," Carabas nods. "We have every reason to believe Lysander will be heading to the Egg as well. We would be honored to travel with you for this." Etrigan gives a silent nod, while Dawn steps forward, bowing a little in gratitude. "Lead on, then. It is fortunate we were able to meet again."
>>717598"I… see. I suppose the old adage rings true in your case, then, that home is where the heart is. If you feel comfortable here, then by all means, remain. I, for one, have every intention of leaving as soon as I can.""This land is rife with criminals and sinners,"
she avers. "But from what I have seen of you so far, you seem… better than the rest. I hope you will be able to find peace in this land."
You see the party returning, along with Dawn, Carabas and a rather unsettling elk following behind. Carabas sees you and gives you a friendly wave as they approach, saying something to Dawn.>>717597>>717594>>717593>>717595
You return to the ship with Dawn, Carabas and Etrigan. Zunden is standing on deck keeping watch as you approach. "Oh! Dawn, it's your friend the saurian!" says Carabas genially. "We are ever in your debt for helping us here," he adds to the rest of you.
"Please. I'm sorry I worried you, Dawn. Anywho… let's hurry back. We've been making our way there as well- hopefully, you have time to rest up before we get there. I doubt it's going to be easy."
''I would enjoy that'' She states plainly before they all start making their way back
''You must be tired from having to follow us nonstop the past few days. I'm sure Zunden will be glad to offer you a meal and a bed for you to rest, and I can guide you through the ship if needed, if Zunden is too busy piloting the ship to do that herself''
"Zunden! We've brought Carabas and company aboard and we're ready to take off!" i call out from the ground before making my way onto the ship. "I must say it's reassuring you weren't simply some predator out to attack us, a giant eagle isn't the most friendly of things to see in the skys you know.."
Zunden smiles, pleasantly surprised, "I appreziate zhat. Zhere are zhoze who'z fate iz to return to ze Dominion, zo I will help zhem realize it."
She looks out the others, holding out her gloved claw and waving.
"Zhey return unharmed. I am glad."
I smile as I see Zunden waiting on deck, but my smile falters a little when I see Kairon. Oh. Good. This'll be fun. I wave as we walk up to the ship, grabbing onto, and climbing, the latter to the deck.
"Oh, we've been on board before," she explains. "We were going to travel with your companions before they were unfortunately captured. But I do appreciate the offer.">>717603
"I know," Carabas nods. "If we had a ship of our own we would be using it instead. Believe you me, it's as uncomfortable as you can imagine it would be.">>717604
She looks skeptical. "Fate. A foolish notion. Nothing controls my destiny except me, thank you very much. There are no strings on me!">>717605>>717604>>717603>>717602>>717601
Your new allies join you aboard the ship, Carabas and Etrigan looking around curiously. The deck suddenly feels a lot more crowded. "Hum. Have you considered changing the name?" Carabas suggests. It seems like it might draw unwanted attention if it still resembles Lysander's ship."
Dawn and Etrigan seem more intrigued by the ghostly presence of Kairon, who is eyeballing them curiously. Violet steps in to make introductions, looking a bit uncomfortable. "Oh. Right. We've picked up a few others. This is Kairon-""I can introduce myself, thank you very much,"
Kairon interrupts curtly. "I am Queen Kairon Irse I, the Exiled, Queen of the Four Kingdoms of Equestria, and of you."
She floats above them imperiously.
"…Greetings, Your Grace," says Dawn awkwardly. "My name is Dawn Chorus, the White Bishop. My companions are the White Knight Carabas, and the White Rook Etrigan." They each nod in turn. Kairon looks unimpressed. "Chess pieces? How quaint. I suppose Lysander gave you those titles."
"In a way, yes. We are no friends of his, that I can promise you.""…Indeed."
"…Anyway." Carabas breaks the ice. "We should move on. Time is of the essence in reaching the Egg before Lysander, after all."
"Yeah, we'll get a room set up for you three," says Violet. "Just, um, be careful of the skull. He's nosy."
"Skull?" Dawn asks confusedly, but doesn't expect an answer. "Er, if any of you have questions for us, please, ask away. We have nothing to hide. We have a mutual enemy, after all."
"I don't suppose you've learned anything new regarding lysander? Beyond our spotting him in the swap meet and word of him hiring new followers we've seen little of just what we're facing."
''Master Dawn, I had something to ask of you. Aegis quickly approaches the trio
''Your titles remind me, there were a handful of black Bishops gathered in Lysander's previous quarters when he owned this ship, do you have any idea what they represent, or if there is a meaning for them to be there'' Aegis produces one of the bishops she kept, holding it in front of Carabas
I blink at the mostly polite introductions. Well. That was better than I expected. She didn't even insult anyone. It still irks me that she cut Vi off like that, but I don't say anything. "Well. I wanna make sure using my sprayer as a flamethrower didn't damage it any, and maybe even set up a couple more oil canisters. Just in case. Anyone need anything from me first for some reason?"
Zunden grins, looking back to Kairon knowingly, "A mizconzeption, we do
control our deztinyz. Az I have zaid before, my plaze iz to help ozherz do zo, and ztop zhoze who'd wizh to apply zuch ztringz
As the rest of the group approaches, Zunden's smile widens, "Dawn, Etrigan." She moves to greet them. As she goes to hug the blind pony, she remembers the wrappings around her eyes. She stops herself and chuckles, "I am glad you are safe, I was worried upon zeeing you gone wizh not but a note when we ezcaped ze prizon."
"Maybe a bit of note-sharing? What have you found out about Lysander and his company?" he asks, before humming a little.
"For one, he has a ship. A steamboat called the Vanquisher
. It's how he travels now. We assumed that he had reclaimed this ship as well. For another, he has formed an even stronger alliance with Lady Grosvenor, of Braildorn. The two are working together on… something. Also, we…" Carabas looks over at Etrigan, who gives a grim nod. "We have news of your friend, the Felid. Etrigan here traveled with him for a time down the river, but they were separated at Fiddler's Green. He was captured by Lysander, but it seems he managed to escape. He was last spotted at the Meet. Who knows where he is now.">>717608
Carabas examines the bishop. "It is part of a code. Something set up by the Oneiromance in his designs. Each of us has a title. Lysander is the Black Bishop, and he the Black Knight. Lady Grosvenor is the Black Queen. The Cuckoo, Black King. You already know ours. White King and Queen, we have no idea about, but King seems to be someone called Scriniarii. Black Rook seems to be dead. They're looking for someone to replace them. We found a slew of notes from Lysander to Grosvenor in his room that backed all this up. We still have them, if you'd like to read them yourself.">>717609
Carabas nods. "One thing, actually. That feather you found on you, after your encounter with the Cuckoo. The one I burned. Has it…?" The implication seems clear. Dawn and Etrigan look over to you expectantly, both looking apprehensive.>>717610"If you say so,"
she replies vaguely.
Etrigan bows silently in greeting. "We would have left a note," says Dawn, "but we were pressed for time. We waited on the ship for some time, but when you did not return, we suspected the worst. Then the guards came on board, so we had to leave quickly. We had no time for farewells. We just started traveling towards the Meet from there, and found Etrigan there. As well as other things."
I study him for a moment before slowly nodding. "Yeah. It's below deck in my suit jacket pocket. I- I can only assume the fact that it's back is bad. I felt this feeling deep in the pit of my stomach when I first felt it, and again when it was back. I'm not really sure what to do with it so I just sorta kept it in my pocket."
''I suppose it would help to give me some more insight in all this. I'm afraid I cannot be of much help while I only know the latter half of this situation. I would be very grateful if you could share those notes with me, as well as any other knowledge you could spare over the next days as we make it for our next stop''
"A… steamboat? I'm not fully sure what that is, but I can guess. Sounds like he's been busy, at least." he remarks.
At the mention of Hermodur, he looks to Etrigan and Carabas with a bit of a start. "Did he say what he was doing, by chance? We didn't necessarily split on good terms."
A small gasp escapes me at the mention of Hermodur. "Goodness, Hermodur was at the meet? My word, we could have passed him without knowing, how unfortunate!"
"I suppose it's too late now, meeting with him will have to wait until after we handle this business with the egg.">>717611
"Now that we're all aboard, I do believe we have an egg to recover.. when your ready of course, zunden."
Zunden's brows raise as they mention Hermodur being at the meet, "Yet ze mezzenger we had zent haz not returned? I hope he at leazt rezeived it…"
Her raised brows cannot rise any higher as the mention of the strange word the Oneiromancer is used to describe the White King, "Zcriniarii..?" She looks over to Aurora in befuddlement, being the only other she has spoke to on the matter.
She clears her throat, unformed questions bouncing around in her head, "I-in any caze, ze Oneiromanzer'z influenze haz been wiped of zhiz vezzel, and we cannot be found by magical meanz. We zhall not be followed to ze Egg unlezz we are tailed like you have been."
"Right, I'll have the zhip continue our journey, prezuming zhat you zhree wizh to accompany uz ze rezt of ze way."
Etrigan takes a step backwards, while Dawn pales a little and Carabas crosses himself. "…Then it is stirring," he says, sounding genuinely frightened. "It is beginning to manifest in our reality. …We cannot waste any more time," he says resolutely.>>717615
Dawn nods and fumbles with her bags. Carabas assists her, producing an ornate copper scroll holder. "See for yourself.">>717616>>717617>>717618
Etrigan holds out his right hoof, then mimes a chopping gesture. Carabas nods grimly. "He agreed to it. He is free of the Oneiromancer's influence, but at the expense of his hand. Etrigan did it himself.">>717618
Aurora looks as thunderstruck as you, giving you an intrigued look. Violet looks a bit lost.
Dawn nods, looking a bit shaken by what Norv found out, but better after hearing your news. "I won't ask who you had to convince to put such a spell on this ship. But it is good that it was done. Hopefully we'll be able to avoid any more attention on our way to the Egg."
"I guess," I say. "Is there something I should do with it? Or just try to keep it safe for now?"
Carabas and Etrigan exchange a concerned look. "I… I do not know," says the armored hippogriff. "I suppose if it is going to return, there is nothing to be done. I imagine trying to throw it away won't do much either…" He rubs his temple, while Dawn speaks up, looking in your general direction. "Perhaps it is not all bad. That feather may be of help, someday." Though her words are optimistic, she too looks fearful of the implications of its existence.
I look over at Dawn and nod. "Maybe. I might have Z look at it later. She'll probably be able to tell." I turn and look at the stairs below deck. "Right now I have some stuff I want to get done before we reach the sands."
Carabas nods. "We will try to be as inobstrusive as possible," says Dawn with a grateful bow. "Thank you again for letting us stay."
You head down to the lower deck. It seems much quieter than usual, what with everyone else on the upper deck.
Before anything else I head to my room, unload my sprayer, and slide the charred rope off the nozzle. I grab a piece of my old dress shirt from my bag, wet it with cold water from the bathroom, sit down, and try to wipe the black away from the sprayer. Hoping I can even figure out if something is wrong, I pull the canister out and look the sprayer over.
[1d10]ImproviseRoll #1 6 = 6
You clean the sprayer. It is still painfully hot from being used as a flamethrower, but you manage to pull away before you hurt yourself. The nozzle is scorched, but the damage is surprisingly superficial; it hasn't deformed at all, and is still perfectly usable. It seems Hadrian built it to withstand a great deal of abuse.
Huh. Alright. Neat. So I guess that means I should be able to do that more if I have to. Definitely have to buy some kind of oil or other flammable liquid.
I slot the sleeper poison canister back in and stand back up. I stack the last seven canisters around it and take inventory. So right now one of them is empty and still oily, two of them have the balur blood, and the last four have sleeper poison.
Giving a satisfied nod, I walk over to my cage, kneel down, and summon Brie and Cammie. Opening the gate, I let them out and quietly click my tongue. "Hey girls. How are you feeling after that fight with the big, scary snake?"
Cammie and Brie, a stout white rat and a slim brown and white respectively, pop out of your cage and chitter happily, Brie scampering up your arm and perching on your shoulder while Cammie starts snffing around and inspecting the area. Their injuries seem to have healed completely; wherever they go when they vanish in the cage, it seems to cure their wounds rapidly.
I smile warmly and scratch brie under the chin. Dang. Must be a lot of benifits to wherever they go. I was kind of scared I'd be summoning a- well, a not as alive as she was before rat. I crouch down and hold my hand out to Cammie. "You girs wanna go for a little walk? I have plenty of pockets, and most of them are empty, big, and cozy." I click my tongue and, after picking cammie up, head out to look around for Mercutio.
You don't have to ask her twice. Cammie hops into one of your coat pockets and makes herself nice and snug, poking her tiny nose out and watching the world go by as you walk.
You find Mercutio with the enchanted deer skull you came across earlier. He does a wild 540 degree spin to face you. Nyeh! What's up, buttercup? Did you miss me? Not very talkative, this one, but at least he listens!"
I chuckle. "Yeah. Been a couple days. Been tied up with other stuff. You been alright?" I notice the skull and glance from it, back to Mercutio. "Convenient. I was actually gonna ask you about that. Both Z and Aegis said it was probably more than a little cursed."
"Well, I don't know about that
, but keeping it around doesn't seem like a good idea. What was up with that, anyway? Some kind of ghost?" I scratch Cammie on top of her head. "Well, it's probably in the bestiary anyway. Is there some chance it'll reform from the skull and attack us in the middle of the night or somethin'? Wouldn't surprise me, especially if it's cursed."
I blink. "So he's, like, still trapped in there? Just really pissed off?" I cock my eyebrow. "Couldn't you or Purdue tell me what his wishes were if-" I innocently twittle my thumbs and look away toward the ceiling. "Oh, I don't know, I, hypothetically, did
want to do that?"
>>717700"Well of course we COULD,"
Mercutio replies coyly. "But you haven't said the magic word!"
"Right. Please? I doubt I could do anything right now, but I'd really appreciate if you could tell me so I know ahead of time."
[1d10]Roll #1 7 = 7
>>717705"Hmmm…….. No. No, I don't think I will! You want to mess with that thing, you reap the consequences. But you'll be fine in the end. Probably. Trust me!"
His emerald eye glints in a facsimile of a wink.
I sigh. "Well. Can't spill everything all at once, I guess. Probably not as fun. I'll ask some other time." I turn toward the stairs above deck. "So. Kairon. Has she seemed… I don't know. Better? More sociable? Think she's warmin' up to us, or just bored?" I scratch the back of my neck. "I know she's hiding something, and still get the feeling she's gonna betray the hell out of us, but I wanna think I'm at least sorta getting through. Can't really expect someone to change so much in less than a month, I guess."
>>717710"She's been in a splendiferous mood lately! Much less murder-y than usual! She's definitely up to something. Of course
we know, but we're going to be a good sport and not spoil the fun of it all."
He looks smug. Somehow. "She likes you well enough, doesn't she? And, no one else really. But still! Keep at it! You might get through to her! Or you might not!
"Well, I hope so. There's more to her than I expected. Guess that' true of anyone, though. Always try to remind myself of that. Probably gonna check with her in a bit. See how she's doing." I let out an uncomfortable chuckle. "She's sorta not wrong about me forcing her to stay here. Kinda feel bad about that, past-" I give him a sideways glance and clear my throat. "Er… past sins aside. I know I've said it before, but sorry if it's weird that I'm going out of my way to help the woman who murdered you both in cold blood. Or had you murdered in cold blood, I guess."
>>717716"The other guy's a bit sour. Then again when is he not. Nyeh! I'm over it though. If it hadn't been for that I wouldn't be here now! And I wouldn't have met my favorite mangy cur!"
He chatters his teeth. "Being able to see all of time and space isn't so bad, all things considered! I never get bored, because I can always sort through and find an entertaining moment to watch somewhere!"
"Hah, yeah. I guess having entertainment on demand would be kinda nice for those long flying ship travels with no stops in between." I snort. "Besides to drop off prisoners in the middle of nowhere and fight off skeletons."
I reach down and scoop Brie into my hand, place her back on my shoulder, and scratch under her chin. "Gotta admit, the closer we get to the sands the more uneasy I feel. I know this was partially my idea -including the helping Persolus thing- but it seems like there are so many things that could go wrong. For obvious reasons." I cock an eyebrow. "Do you think Kairon will end up trying to strike a deal with him? Is that even how he works?"
he says knowingly. "Or maybe he won't need to make deals anymore… Nyehehehe! This is all just speculation of course! Don't worry your little fuzzy head over it! Yet!"
Maybe he won't need to-"Shit." I sigh. "Alright. Well. We'll get to it when we get to it, I guess. We're making a beeline for the sands, and we left before the meet was even over, so there's no way Lysander got there before us… probably." I pick Brie back up, slip her into my pocket again, and wave. "Anyway, I'm gonna go check how Queenie is holdin'up. Thanks for the conversation. Have fun talking to your new buddy." I leave in search of Kairon, assuming she's still on deck.
He sniggers knowingly at your reaction."Oh, I'm going to talk his ear off. Nyehehehe! Not that he has any, but you know what I mean."
You find Kairon up on the top deck. Everyone else seems to have dispersed by now, leaving her on her own. She looks over to you as you approach. "Yes? What is it?"
she says, sounding a bit annoyed by something.
I knit my brow in concern at her reaction. Did she get into an argument with someone or something? Shoot. I hope she didn't hear me call her Queenie. "Just wanted to check in and see how hou were doing. Everything alright?"
she answers simply. "I do not approve of all these riff-raff you have running about the ship. A powerful mage is all well and good, but hedge knights and walking corpses? They simply won't do. Your allies are questionable, Norvegicus. …And, dare I say it, not exactly trustworthy,"
she adds, in a slightly lower tone.
"I-" I glance down. "Actually I agree with you. Everyone else is just sorta okay with taking them at face value, and I trust their judgement, but I haven't been able to completely trust these guys since we got dragged into their little chess game. Not to mention the deer guy makes me uneasy. I don't know. Could just be me, but it feels like they're hiding something, y'know? So yeah. I understand how you feel. Not actually sure how long they'll be with us, but hey. If we get into any more trouble with bounty hunters like Clawson it could help having 'em around."
>>717740"I do not doubt their fighting skills,"
she concurs, "only the legitimacy of their claims. I have been left in the dark somewhat as to your little group's endgame, but it seems awfully convenient of them to show up like this. Especially considering it seems you have made a name for yourselves already. I find it hard to believe they would mistake you for your enemy. You would be wise to have them go their own way."
I study the ground in thought for a bit. There really isn't anything backing up their claim as the 'good guys'
. And what do we even know about Dawn besides what she's told us? And for a feather to have fallen on our ship- did they really not realize it was us? One or more of us had to have been on deck while they were watching at some point. It really doesn't add up.
"Yeah," I say. "Maybe. I don't want to leave them out here in the middle of nowhere, but you're right. I'll talk to the rest of the group and get their opinions. Maybe even with Mercutio." I give her a small smile. "On a lighter note, I heard you singin' up there with Aurora, and I just gotta say; dang. You do still got it after all. Don't think I've ever heard a prettier voice in all my life, Your Grace. What waz it you two was singing?"
Kairon gives a pompous little shake. "Hmph! Flattery will not get you anywhere, Norvegicus,"
she says haughtily. "But I thank you. It is a very old song. It existed when I was in Equestria. I did not think it would have survived until Lady Aurora's times. 'The Lost and Lonesome Bride'. A sordid tale, really…"
She falls off pensively.
I half shrug. "Just sayin' what I thought. You and Aurora both surprised me. I, uh… I'm not sure what a sorted story is, but it sounded pretty sad. Not too surprised it's still around, myself. Seems like a lot of old songs and stories tend to last. No sense throwing it away or forgetting it if it's good, right?"
Aegis examined the closed scroll holder for a moment, before opening the container and giving it a quick read
Kairon concurs. "Is that not what death is, in the end? To forget, and pass from memory? As long as there are those left to recall their memory, no one is ever truly gone. I feel like my wretched nieces knew this too, and thus struck my name from the annals of history."
She sounds rather bitter. "I will have my revenge. They do not know the reckoning that awaits them. When I return to my rightful kingdom, the stars themselves will run red with their blood,"
she vows. "The people will be grateful for the new world I build. A world remade not as it is, but as it always should be. Do you not agree?"
I scratch the back of my head and don't make eye contact. That, uh… that's a whole lot of heresy in just a couple sentences. But she's right about one thing. As it is, both The Dominion and The Echoes aren't exactly ideal. That said, I'm not sure absolute monarchy being brought back is the right answer. "That's really sad, your grace. I'm sorry. And yeah. I'm not sure how I feel about the stars running red with blood or whatever, but I guess I do agree."
>>717954"Oh? Then perhaps we do see eye to eye, in some form. You see, Norvegicus, I do not merely wish to reclaim my rightful throne. What I truly desire is peace through control. The ungrateful masses become so obsessed with what is, and was, that they do not accept what can be. By exerting my rule, and quelling dissidence, I would restore order to the kingdoms. The land - my land by divine right - would be a paradise, an altered future. The masses would not accept this at first, of course, but in time, they will be grateful for what I will bestow."
She swirls around you in her cloud form before reshaping into a great, towering alicorn shape. "So I ask again, Norvegicus Black. Will you not bend the knee, and help me restore order to the Dominion? Surely you have seen it needs correcting."
"I-" I pause and study the floorboards. Peace through power. That's what I've been trying to do, and almost exactly what Hermodur once said. If she's really as strong as she says she was -if she really was an alicorn queen-… "You just gave me a lot to think about, your grace. It's just a lot to take in. It all seems like a little much, y'know?" I twiddle my thumbs. "I'll be honest, though, thinking about how things work here, and how things workrd back on the dominion? I'm leaning more toward agreeing right now." This could be bad. Am I missing something? Lacking perspective, or letting myself get manipulated?
Kairon seems very pleased. "Excellent. Truly excellent. You and I shall be working much more closely from now on. I am glad to have you as an ally, Norvegicus. …Or shall I say, Lord Black?"
The smoky apparition extends her hoof.
Lord Black. As weird as that sounds, I kinda like it. I look back up at her and nod. "Alright. I'll seriously consider it, on one condition. What you described before- that can't be the only way of doing things. I think I understand you better now, but all that apathy for the poor and public execition stuff- we can be better than that. I know we're better. If you agree to at least try and work with me-" I hold my paw out. "Then I'll do what I can."
She hesitates. "Fear is a powerful tool, Lord Black. Fear is what keeps the great unwashed complacent, and meek. There has never been a conquest without bloodshed. I cannot deny I have disdain for the common folk. …But I shall do what I can. The throne will be mine. Whatever it takes."
Kairon's hoof extends out, a smoky tendril shaking and wrapping around your arm. You feel a slight chill. "Lord Norvegicus Black,"[i] she says imperiously, [i]"I name you Hand of the Queen.""Now. You and I will not be able to reclaim the Dominion on our own. Which of the others should we approach about this matter, and confide in? I wish to build myself a council, ere we begin planning in earnest."
I shiver, slowly pull my paw away, and tuck it into my pocket, attempting to hide the fact that that just made me as uncomfortable as it did. "Well, it'll be more me kind of subtly bringing it up in conversation. I'll have to convince them that it's a good idea, first, and in order to do that I have to convince them you're not an evil despot." And to do that I have to convince myself she's not an evil despot. "That isn't something that'll happen immediately, y'know?" I bite my bottom lip and throw the dice. "Buuut, a good place to start would probably be laying out what you talked to Lysander about."
>>717962"Lysander is an… interesting fellow. Very ambitious. We spoke for a long time about our desires. While I seek retribution and order, he covets might. I can see his soul. He is desperate to be adored. Worshipped, even, as a true dragon. He seems to have come to the epiphany that crushing his foes is what fuels his dragon nature, not material wealth. It seems his ultimate goal is to become a… a god."
She pauses as she reflects on this. "He is a fool. And that is what makes him dangerous. More dangerous still, as he carries out the will of the Hooded Man. From what he said, this entity seems to be in his head constantly, whispering to him, guiding him towards the Egg.""More importantly, however, he is amassing followers through his acquired wealth. Not just the lowlifes at the market, but others as well. Brigands, for one, from one of the more prominent gangs. Freelancers like the snake hunter too. He has Lady Grosvenor on his side also, though I know not her agendas. And… he made mention of a legion, though I do not know what this entails.""He offered to help me in my conquest. He is very rich and powerful, after all. …Our meeting was cut short, however, before we could agree on anything. But I would like to bargain with him. I will not deny he would be a powerful ally, though given the animosity between you, I cannot see this coming to pass."
I blink. Damn. That was way more thorough than I expected. So Lysander's whole goal is to crush anyone he can. I guess greed for power is still greed. "Hooded figure," I mumble. "And if he's being guided- I knew we should have taken the damn key to the tomb with us. The fact that he's drawing in followers from big gangs is also concerning. Probably from groups like The Mummies." I rub my chin in thought. "He'd just use you and then cast you aside when he got what he wanted, probably. Especially if he grows stronger by crushing people to get what he wants. He's blinded by ambition and is going to end up leading to both The Echoes and The Dominion blowing up. The more I learn about him the more I struggle to see any kind of good." My shoulders sag and I sigh. "Well, thank you. Mercutio said something unsettling. Hoping we actually manage to get there before Lysander does. It could be bad if we don't." I look up at her and smile. "I'm just happy you're willing to try, even if it is just to get me to help you. That's a good first step."
>>717966"You are my Hand now,"
she replies simply. "I am confiding in you. And no other. I trust you will not betray my confidence in you."
"I won't. I promise." I nervously tap my forefinger against my coat. "Well, as long as we're bonding, can I ask why you hate Vi so much? Is it because she's an earth pony and you see that as meaning the same as pesant? She kind of means a lot to me, and without her I probably wouldn't be here, so it kind of makes me uncomfortable when you're really mean to her." I clear my throat. "If, uh- if that's not pushing it."
"Oh." I glance at the foorboards again. "Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. But thank you." I look toward the stairwell and tuck a hand in my pocket. "Well, I think I'm gonna head back to my room. Maybe practice my saxophone some or work on getting my battle gear ready. If you need me that's where I'll be." I look up at her and smile. "Thank you for talking with me, Your Grace. It was nice, even considering some of the contents."
>>717972"It has been a pleasure, Lord Black."
She disperses into green smoke and seeps through the floorboards, soon vanishing from sight.
Well. That was both weird and eventful. I head back to my room, grab my saxophone, and sit down on the bed with one leg hanging off. Adjusting myself to get comfortable, I noodle around before trying to play the basic melody to the song Kairon and Aurora were singing.
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
You find your room oddly quiet; Violet isn't around, and Mercutio seems to be off pestering Aurora. You take the moment of respite to practice your new saxophone, using the book you got with it as a guide. You warm up by playing a rather sloppy scale, then noodle a bit before playing a very rough approximation of the song as you remember it. It's not half bad.
Etrigan takes a step backwards, while Dawn pales a little and Carabas crosses himself. "…Then it is stirring," he says, sounding genuinely frightened. "It is beginning to manifest in our reality. …We cannot waste any more time," he says resolutely.>>717615
Dawn nods and fumbles with her bags. Carabas assists her, producing an ornate copper scroll holder. "See for yourself.">>717616
Etrigan holds out his right hoof, then mimes a chopping gesture. Carabas nods grimly. "He agreed to it. He is free of the Oneiromancer's influence, but at the expense of his hand. Etrigan did it himself.">>717618
Aurora looks as thunderstruck as you, giving you an intrigued look. Violet looks a bit lost.
Dawn nods, looking a bit shaken by what Norv found out, but better after hearing your news. "I won't ask who you had to convince to put such a spell on this ship. But it is good that it was done. Hopefully we'll be able to avoid any more attention on our way to the Egg."
I gulp. "Yeah, that doesn't sound good. Exactly the reason we're making a beeline back to the sands. If we're lucky we can get there in-" I cock an eyebrow and glance over at Vi. "How far was it again? I don't remember."
"My word.. Given his conviction i really shouldn't be surprised, but to remove his paw just to escape the Oneiromancer.. Were it my
hoof or wing at stake, i would have had some hesitation at least."
"I can say that at least it's better than the alternative. I was dreading running into him again, honestly."
Zunden remains quiet, mulling things over and thinking the situation over. Not knowing how to treat the guests at the moment, she just rubs her chin.
"I… hmm.. I have much to zhink about now, wizh your reportz. We have zpare bunkroomz, for now, until I have properly zhought about what to do going forward."
The holder is nothing special, save for having some elaborate decorations on its surface. The scrolls with in are a compilation of letters addressed to Black Bishop, mainly from Black Queen. The letters are short, and written in such a way that anyone who does not know about their significance would not really understand their meaning. A few seem to be written in code, and you cannot decipher them on first glance.>>718040
Violet looks out at the horizon. "About five days," she answers. "Just have to hope nothing gets in our way." "Fingers crossed," Carabas nods. "We don't know where Lysander is now, but it's more than likely he's going the same way as us.">>718041>>718042
Etrigan nods, looking regretful. "He is braver than most," Dawn says distantly. "I only pray that between his deed and Zunden's enchantment on this vessel, the Oneiromancer will not trouble us any longer.">>718044
"We would be grateful if you showed us to the rooms," says Dawn, turning towards you. "We cannot state enough how grateful we are for your hospitality." Carabas nods, while Etrigan bows his great head to you reverently.
"Please, we're just happy to help. No one should have to kill themselves flying around out here like that."
''Hm'' Aegis skimmed through the contents of the letters before putting them neatly back in the holder and handing it over to Carabas
''Thank you. I didnt understand much of it''
Zunden shows the three to the empty rooms, silently mulling over everything that has been said.
Further than I'd hoped but closer than I'd expectrd. I nod. Hopefully he's not there already somehow. I could just be being paranoid, but I have a bad feeling about all
of this. Guess that's normal when dealing with world destroying supermonsters.
"It isn't so grave," Carabas says, trying to downplay it. His haggard appearance says otherwise, however.>>718047
Carabas gives it back to you. "We have no further use for it. You can hold on to it if you wish. Take a closer read, when you have the time. We weren't able to decipher some of their correspondence, but maybe you'll have more insight than us.">>718048
You help them get their bearings. Dawn and Carabas take one at the end of the hall, while Etrigan takes one across from them. They thank you again and retreat to their business.>>718046>>718047>>718048>>718049
With the three new arrivals, the ship feels a lot smaller all of a sudden. Dawn and Carabas seldom leave their room, conversing amongst themselves quietly, while Etrigan can usually be found wandering the ship, staring blankly over the edge.
Later that day, near sunset, you fly over a fort on top of a bare rocky hill which seems to be occupied by some unknown force. You can see figures moving about within, but they're too far off to get a good look at them. Off in the distance is a plume of smoke coming from what seems to be a village.
Before you can assess the situation further, something narrowly whizzes past the ship. The fort below seem to have fired a warning shot at you. Looking down, you can see what look like scorpion turrets trained on you. A second shot flies past, this time splintering part of the railing in the process. Etrigan looks down at the fort coldly, while Aurora looks a bit fearful. "Are they… are they trying to hit us?" "Whoever they are, they aren't friendly, that's for sure," Violet muses, looking uncertain of how to proceed. "Are we under attack?" Dawn asks, left quite literally in the dark. "What is happening?" "Perhaps we should return the favor," says Carabas stoically. "It is not my decision, though."
I peek overboard. "They're probably just scared and think we're trying to attack. We are flying over them in a huge ship. I'd be scared too. I don't think we should do anything to attack them. Can we get any higher and out of their- well, I'm not sure what those are, but do you think we can go around or get out of their range? Like we did with the giants?"
''I'm not so sure. But I am flattered for your faith in me with this. Thank you''
''It is possible that they recognize this ship'' Aegis comes up from behind the group, her shield emitting a soft glow as an old tome floats near her, surrounded by a sky-blue aura
''I do not know for certain how well known Lysander is in the Echoes so I'm assuming his influence has also gotten him fame or infamy among some groups''
The crystal mare leans overboard, indifferent towards the fort below
''That, or they just arent very hospitable. Maybe raise a white flag to show we are not here for harm, that is what sailors do, yes?''
"Well, grave or otherwise- happy to help. We'll all want to be rested up before we get there, right?" he suggests, before giving Carabas a friendly smile.
Rabi frowns a little bit, using whatever means he has to try and get a closer look over the edge at the fort. "Hmm… maybe they think we're Lysander? Carabas and his made the same mistake."
”hmm.. we've no clue just what's going on here, though given the smoke from the village I suspect foul play. Before anything, we should really leave the range of those turrets, I don't fancy our odds of making the trip as a pin cushion."
"Unfortunately, now we look to avoid az much attention az pozzible. Az we cannot be followed in our dreamz, ze way we can be tracked now iz word of mouzh. People talk about airzhipz flying overhead, zo until ze egg iz zecured… I zhink we zhould be avoiding townz and ze like."
"The optimal choice, unfortunately. A potentially Sacked village cannot outweigh the destruction of the dimension, dreadful it may be if that is the case."
"Yeah, we should just fly over," Violet concurs. "We don't want any trouble.">>718052
Dawn nods in agreement. "A sound idea, miss Glaze. We have no ill will towards those below. We should show them such.">>718053
You lean over, being forced to duck away as another scorpion bolt flies past, very nearly taking your head off. The occupants, from the little you saw, are clad in armor of varying quality.>>718052>>718053
"That is also a possibility," says Carabas thoughtfully. "The Skylord is likely to have made other enemies that we are not aware of on his travels.">>718055
"Yes, we should keep this as secret as possible. We do not know who else may be seeking the Egg. Though, it is difficult to be discreet when traveling by airship, unfortunately. If only we could turn invisible.">>718055>>718054>>718053>>718052>>718051
Aurora, inspired by Aegis' idea, runs to grab her new white clothing and flaps it over the edge, trying to signal that they mean no harm. The bolts stop coming for a moment; then, they start firing with even more determination, peppering the ship's hull. Aurora freaks out a little. "They're trying
to hit us!" Violet cries out in alarm. Dawn looks frightened, and Carabas spreads a wing to protect her, gritting his teeth. Etrigan's eyes just narrow as he keeps surveying the attackers.>Ship current HP: 1990/2000
''Hm. Well said, let us move on then'' Aegis says, turning back to return to her room ''I will be in the Captains Quarters if I am needed, as always''
Ducking to avoid the new barrage, I keep low as the shots fire by!
"Wonderful! So it really is some warband of ruffians then. All the more reason to leave them to squabble among themselves."
Zunden nods to the blind mare, distracted, "I could figure out zomezhing of the zort.."
She closes her eyes, starting to make an arch to leave the blasting range of the town entirely.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"Hrm… just give it a miss, maybe? This doesn't look like it's too worth getting banged up for."
Aegis stops halfway through her walk back to her room, casually putting the book down on the dinner table before returning to the others ''In this case we must make haste away from here, I will try my best to lessen the damage of their attacks but I dont think I can do much in this situation. Those bolts are fast''>>718060
Aegis briefly turns to Zunden ''Perhaps the cannons could be used, if not to damage, at least to push them back''
Either way, Aegis began focusing on calling forth a couple of orbs for her own artillery
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 4 = 4
I scramble away from the edge of the ship and cover my head with my hands. "Or," I say. "I could be wrong."
You try to veer the ship away, but it is hit by another volley of bolts, cracking the hull and tearing holes in the sails. The ship loses altitude some. Violet goes from concerned to frightened. "Z?!">>718059>>718061
"This isn't like those giants from before," Aurora comments. "These bandits, or whoever they are, they're trying to shoot us down. Either we face them or hold out long enough for Zunden to be able to get us away.">>718062
You try to summon, but a stray bolt rocks the ship, breaking your concentration. At the mention of cannons, Violet nods and retreats to the lower deck.>>718063>>718062>>718061>>718060>>718059>Ship: 1975/2000
More bolts come flying towards the ship, this time aiming a bit higher, trying to shoot at the upper deck.>roll to dodge, instant action
Carabas suits up in his armor, hunkering down to protect Dawn. You see that even his wings are plated with armor, making them effective shields in their own right. "I think we may have to use the spell," he says to her in a low voice. She nods merely and fires off a volley of silver magic bolts down towards the fort. "In a moment…"
Aurora looks to Rabi. "I think now would be a good time to use that new bow of yours…"
Violet calls out before heading below. "I'm manning the cannons. A little help would be appreciated!"Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
/ Roll #3 5 = 5
''Anyone who does not have a ranged weapon help Violet with the cannons!'' Aegis commanded, getting her balance back as she held her shield high and cooked up a magical blast ''Norvegicus'' She nodded at the dog>>718061
''This will be an excellent opportunity to test your range, wouldnt you say, Rabi''
'2d10' magic bolt, iceRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 4, 9 = 13
I frantically look around at everyone. What can I even do right now? We're too high up, and I don't have any kind of attacks that could hit from this distance. What if I help Vi on the cannons and hit someone, though? Even from this height there's no surviving that. My knees feel weak, my ears fold back, and my stomach turns as I just helplessly stand there while we're under attack.
"We'll take another broadzide, but I need to focuz."
Zunden says with gritted teeth, crossing her legs, "Get below deck."
>Bask: controlling the shipRoll #1 3 = 3
There. There's something. "Z!" I shout, pulling the good luck charm out of my pocket. I walk over to her and hold it out. "Take this. It might help."
Zunden nods, taking it in hand.
Rabi lets out a startled whinny, tumbling out of the way of one of the bolts (or trying to.)>[1d10] Dodge
He hops back to all fours and offers a short nod to Aurora and Aegis, taking a moment to heft the Yumi up from where he'd left it on the deck. He braces it against the ship and takes a moment to collect himself and nock the 'arrow', before wreathing it in light and launching it at the scorpion.>Yumi [1d10+2] (Light Element)Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 5 + 2 = 7
Doing my best to avoid the new barrage, i try to make my way below deck, trying to find Violet.
"All of this ranged fire has me outclassed! I'll follow Violet below, perhaps these cannons can be put to use!"Roll #1 7 = 7
''Master Norvegicus!'' Aegis spoke up again in a louder, but not in any way harsher tone ''The cannons. Or at least go find some cover''
I look from Zunden to Aegis and back. After returning Zunden's nod, I rush below deck.
As Dawn's shot hits the walls of the fort, your shield glows icy blue, crystals forming on its surface, which coalesce into a frosty javelin that soars through the air. Your aim is true, and the javelin shatters one of the manned scorpions, sending the brigand operating it tumbling off of the wall.>>718066
Violet sees you standing there helplessly and rushes back amidst the battle, narrowly avoiding having her head taken off by a stray bolt. She stares wide eyed for a moment as she survives, but snaps back to reality, holding your head in her hooves. "Hey. You in there? Come on, we've gotta get out of this. These guys mean business.">>718067
You are knocked off balance by debris as the scorpions do their work on the ship. To your dismay, you see a hole get torn in the side of the hull, exposing the lower deck.>Zunden takes 2 hits>>718070
You throw yourself to the deck and do a forward roll as the bolts fly past.
You steady yourself and nock the gigantic arrow, lining up your shot and letting loose. The arrow, which is more like a javelin, flies to the air, reducing one of the scorpions below to splinters. The gunman is sent staggering backwards.>>718071
You take to the air and do a graceful midair pirouette to avoid a passing bolt, which tears through the railing below.>>718065>>718066>>718067>>718070>Ship: 1950/2000
The remaining scorpions are reloaded and fire again, aiming for the sails this time. You see a few pegasi and griffons take to the air from the fort, clearly intending to board.
Carabas semi-tackles Dawn to avoid a bolt, but is wounded. He pulls himself back up with a groan. "Do it!" he growls urgently. Dawn closes her eyes and focuses, her horn beginning to glow.
Etrigan waves his antlers about as they are engulfed in purple smoke, a dark orb coalescing between them before hurtling towards a scorpion.
Violet leads Silver (and Norv, if he decides to follow) to the lower deck. The damage dealt by the scorpions is evident; there is a gaping hole in the side of the ship, wind whistling with galelike forces through the open wound. Violet wastes no time in loading heavy leaden balls into one of the dragon-headed cannons. "Help me find something to light the fuse, would you?" she grunts, straining to carry the heavy cannonballs.Roll #1 8 = 8
/ Roll #2 3 = 3
Zunden careens the ship away from the cannon fire with her new focus, looking to leave the area entirely.
[1d10+2] ship controllingRoll #1 1 + 2 = 3
I already have something! I pull out the flint and steel I'd used to light my makeshift wick and stand behind the cannon. Not really sure if she can actually use it with hooves, I swallow and hold them near. "Let me know when and I'll try to spark it." Once she tells me that it's ready, I close my eyes and strike the flint against the steel striker.
Aegis stares down at the result of her shot, completely guilt-free as she begins readying a new set of orbs to rain down at the incoming fliers, all the while taking a short trip back to her room to fetch her staff, using all of her focus to multitask conjuring with summoning the effects of the staff
'1d10' Dream wine Staff
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
"Aha! Excellent, you've means to light it after all.">>718074
With Violet aiming the cannon and Norvy lighting it, i rush off to haul more cannonballs for ammo, alternating between rolling and carrying.
[1d10] LiftingRoll #1 5 = 5
"Got one!" he shouts, trying to find the next applicable target.>[1d10] Perception
He narrows his eyes and nocks another arrow, aiming for the closest-together pair and loosing his shot. >Yumi [1d10+1] Cleave Two targetsRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10
You reach out, but it's no use. The scorpions riddle the sails with holes like they're Swiss cheese. Aurora frightenedly abandons her post in the crow's nest. "Shit!" The ship begins to spiral downwards, and you feel your control over it slipping.>DC+2 to ship control until the sails are repaired>>718076
She nods, loading in five cannonballs and lining up a shot on the fort walls. "Hit it." You strike the flint and tinder a few times before causing a spark, the wick burning down. Violet holds you and braces herself, and you along with her.
With a deafening roar, the cannon wreaks havoc on the fort, the balls shattering the walls. You watch through the porthole as the stone battlement cracks and begins to crumble, taking several brigands with it. Violet flinches as she sees the wanton destruction, but doesn't shed any tears for them.>>718078
You load in a cannonball. They're unbearably heavy. You don't know how Violet manages to do it.>>718079
You count 8 remaining scorpions.
You see two scorpions mounted on wooden battlements. Aiming for the middle, you manage to tear through the middle of the flimsy structure, causing it to collapse.>>718079>>718078>>718077>>718076>>718075
The ship quakes and your stomachs drop as it begins to sink downwards. A deafening boom splits the air as Norv and Violet man the cannons, taking down a section of the brigands' fort, including two of the turrets.
>4 scorpions remaining
Five winged brigands maneuver themselves onto your ship. You see that they all sport a familiar tattoo: a skull over two crossed axes. The Bloody Mummers are back, charging you with malicious intent.
Dawn keeps casting the spell on Carabas.
Two of the Mummers attack Etrigan and Aurora.
[2d10] vs Etrigan and Aurora
[1d10] Etrigan attack
[1d10-1] Aurora rapier attack
One pulls out a crossbow and shoots at Rabi.
Another charges Zunden with a spiked club.
The final one tries to shank Aegis.
[1d10]Roll #1 8, 6 = 14
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 9 - 1 = 8
/ Roll #4 10 = 10
/ Roll #5 5 = 5
/ Roll #6 6 = 6
The scorpions below fire at the hull again.>Norv and Silver roll to dodge
[1d10] Violet dodgeRoll #1 8 = 8
With the balistas firing on the hull, i try to get away from their line of sight, diving away from the breach!
"What is Zunden doing
up there? Our poor ship is in splinters!"Roll #1 7 = 7
Zunden holds up her gloved claw calmly, reflecting the blow as she summons a Servitor.
[1d10] Summon Servitor, activate lucky charm if failsRoll #1 7 = 7
Yeah. That probably hurt someone. I'm going to pretend like it didn't kill anyone. I don't have time to think too hard about it as the big weapons fire on us again. I try to leap out of the way.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
All of this agitation catches Aegis off-guard, making her drop the staff and nearly knock her off her hoof right after she barely got one orb out. As she struggled to maintain her focus, the crystal mare took a deep breath, but her attention is quickly shifted to the strange pirate mercs that boarded the ship
She picks up the dropped staff with her mouth and tries to get some distance while fending it off with an unrefined magic blast
'1d10' basic attack
'1d10' dream wine staffRoll #1 10 = 10
/ Roll #2 2 = 2
"that's… four left!" He calls out, going to pick up another arrow. He freezes in place when one of the brigands pulls a crossbow on him, but manages to snap into action. His hoof crackles with energy, and he slams it into the assailant's chest before blasting him with a point-blank bolt of lightning- making sure to keep it less-than-lethal.>[1d10+2] [1d10+2] Electric 'Bolt'Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
/ Roll #2 3 + 2 = 5
You hit the ground, avoiding the incoming bolts, which riddle the side of the ship with even more holes. Violet grits her teeth and pulls herself back up, wheeling Silver's cannon into position. "Light them up!">>718083
The club bounces off of an invisible shield. The brutish looking griffon stares in confusion, then in slight fear as a ghostly blue figure appears, hands forming into wicked blades.>>718085
You manage to get out of the way, and the knife grazes your cheek, leaving a deep cut.>Aegis takes 1 hit
You respond with a blast of raw magic, knocking the bat pony brigand off balance, teetering and falling off the side of the ship.>>718086
You charge the crossbowman, but are felled by a bolt to the gut, hitting the deck hard. Your ears ring.>Rabi takes 5 hits, helpless>>718082>>718083>>718084>>718085>>718086>Ship: 1900/2000>4 bandits remaining>4 scorpions remaining
Aurora takes a blow to the head, but she wheels around and lashes out with her basket-hilted sword, slashing the pegasus across the belly fiercely. he doubles over and groans as he clutches the wound. Not wasting any time, her new scarf glows and flies about her wildly as she casts a healing spell on Rabi.
The bandit manages to dodge Etrigan's stomp, slashing at him with a broadsword. Though he is wounded, the undead elk shows no reaction, lowering his head and swinging at both the attacking bandit and the one attacking Aurora.
The bandit that attacked him keeps up the attack, unnerved by his lack of reaction. He is joined by the one who attacked Aurora.
Dawn's spell is complete. With a flash of light, Carabas takes to the air, leaving his armor behind. Where he once was is an enormous eagle, the size of the mightiest dragon, flying next to the ship with animosity. Talons bared, he soars through the air to attack the battlements, scorpions redirecting to fire on him.
Seeing his comrade fall, the bandit that crippled Rabi turns to Aegis, prioritizing her. He fires a bolt at her.
The one who attacked Zunden takes a wild swing at the Servitor, who springs to his master's defense.
[2d10] ServitorRoll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 8 = 8
/ Roll #3 8, 6 = 14
/ Roll #4 5 = 5
/ Roll #5 2 = 2
/ Roll #6 10, 2 = 12
I take a deep breath, hold it, and flinch away as I spark the wick of the next cannon.
with the cannon's wick sparking, i rush off to deliver another cannonball!
"Another shot like the last and we'll level the fort! I'll find us another ball."
[1d10] LiftingRoll #1 10 = 10
"A-Ack! Aurora, save it for someone else- I'm fine for now!" he shouts, clutching his stomach as he's stopped in his tracks. He grits his teeth and forces himself to his hooves, hissing a little bit and feeling around for his normal, smaller bow. When the bandit turns his back, he flings an 'arrow' of electricity at his back.
>[1d10+1] Electric ShotRoll #1 5 + 1 = 6
Corrected H/W value
Aegis barely moved as the bolt flew by near her mane with a sharp whistle, her cold stare turned to the one responsible for it as her shield began glowing blue along with her single orbiting ball of ice magic as she prepared another attack, this time with a spice of ice to it
'2d10' magic bolt, ice
All the while giving Etrian some support as she notices him getting ganked. She fired her homing orb at one of the bandits near the Undead elk
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 1, 10 = 11
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
Zunden blocks the attack again, looking to the servitor. After making it's attack, she commands it to head down to her room, grabbing the bolt of beige cloth from it.
In the meantime, she swings her own staff at the attacking mummer.
[1d10+1] costanza baseball bat memeRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
As the wick starts to burn, you manage to hastily load in two more cannonballs with strength you didn't even know you had, fueled by sheer adrenaline.>>718088
The cannon roars and obliterates another wall, sending debris flying in every direction as the dust gathers in a mushroom cloud. There's no avoiding it this time; you see brigands get sent flying to their demise by the blast, crippling the foundations of the fort as the wall crumbles in on itself like paper. Violet looks ill at the devastation, but steels herself, keeping it together for now.>>718090
You grit your teeth and ignore the pain, struggling to your feet. As the brigand is distracted, you charge up a lightning arrow and shoot it into his back. He is frozen in place and convulses as electricity courses through him, stunned for now.>>718092
You go to fire a bolt of magic, but are hit by a bolt to the shoulder, knocking you off balance and to the deck.>Aegis takes 5 hits, helpless>>718093
You lash out at the attacking bandit, bonking him over the head. He is distracted by it long enough for the Servitor to make its move, running him through with one blade arm and tossing the lifeless body over the edge in a single motion. It then does as you command and fetches the cloth.>>718088>>718089>>718090>>718092>>718093
The cannons devastate the fort, taking two scorpions with it. Carabas is hit by a bolt, but powers through the impact and rakes the battlements with his mighty talons, tearing the remaining scorpions apart and wreaking havoc on the attacking bandits.>Ship: 1900/2000>3 bandits remaining>the scorpions are destroyed
The bandit Rabi shot is momentarily paralyzed.
Etrigan fends off the bandits, even as they stab him in the neck and chest. He just keeps moving, rearing up to stomp on one of them.
Aurora hisses in alarm as she sees Aegis fall, her scarf pulsing with a white glow as she casts a strengthening spell.>Aegis is Bolstered
One of the bandits keeps attacking Etrigan.
The other moves to attack Aurora.
>pausingRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 1 = 1
/ Roll #3 3 = 3
Aegis lets out a pained groan and falls to the floor, bleeding. She draws a sharp breath as she squints at her assailant with anger fueled by the agony the bolt inflicts her, but she closes her eyes for a moment and takes in a short, shivery breath, regaining her focus to ignore the pain and stand up, and after a moment, looks down at herself, realizing this resilence is not her own, and her gaze turns to Aurora as she realizes where this spell is coming from
Strenghtened by Aurora's benefaction, Aegis rose to her hooves without a word
Handing it the sewing supplies from her bag, Zunden orders the Servitor to get to work patching the sails, given it's ability to levitate and her lack of wings. In the meantime, she mentally prepares to control the ship again.
[1d10] Servitor patchwork
>Bask: Dominion Roll #1 4 = 4
My stomach lurches as I see the utter devistation in front of me. Did I do that? I didn't load the cannon or aim it. Someone would have sparked it anyway. I just happened to be holding the flint. Maybe- maybe they survived with just a bunch of broken bones or something. I'm sure they have healers or doctors or something too. I look from Vi to Sil, trembling a little as I wait for directions on what to do next.
With the fort collapsing around the remaining bandits below, i pick my way around the rubble and back up to the top deck, Shivs at the ready.>>718507
"Excellent work, you two!" You hear silver call behind her as she rushes to the stairs
"I'm going to check on the others, hopefully they avoided the worst of those horrid bolts!"
"I think I'll come with you. No need to fire the cannons anymore with those things gone."
>>718094>Forgot to state the use of Arabian Endurance on the last post. Sorry!
Humming a little bit as he looks around the ship, he takes a dark-enchanted shot at the bandit moving after Aurora.>[1d10+2] Magic Bow (Dark)Roll #1 3 + 2 = 5
You pull yourself back up, empowered by Aurora's spell. As you look to her, she gives you a small nod of acknowledgment.>>718506
The Servitor tries to do your bidding, but it is difficult to work given the tumultuous situation. You take a moment to focus and charge your magic energies.>>718507
Violet sees the look on your face and puts a reassuring hoof on your shoulder. "They would've done the same to us. Come on, let's get back up there. We've been boarded, from the sounds of it.">>718510>>718511
Violet accompanies you back to the upper deck, where you find a skirmish taking place. Three bandits are fighting the rest of your group.>>718512
The ship lurches unpredictably at the last moment, and you miss your shot.>>718095>>718506>>718507>>718510>>718512
Carabas keeps wreaking havoc on the Mummer fort, sweeping bandits off the battlements with ease. With their main source of artillery taken out, they are helpless against him. Dawn assists him from above, firing bolts of silver-streaked magic towards the bandits.>Ship: 1900/2000>3 bandits remaining
Aurora manages to block the attack from the bandit, slashing him twice across the chest in an X shape. He stumbles backwards, clutching his wound with a snarl. She keeps up the offensive, while the bandit redoubles his efforts.
Etrigan overpowers the bandit, swatting him to the ground with one powerful hoof, rearing up and trampling him into submission. He doesn't waste time in going after the other remaining bandit, who is focused now on attacking Rabi.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 - 1 = 2
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 7 = 7
/ Roll #4 2 = 2
Zunden waits for the Servitor to patch the holes before making her own actions.
>followup post if he succeeds,otherwise zunden passesRoll #1 1 = 1
Rabi lets out a whinny, stumbling a little bit and shaking his head. "B-Boats, dangit!"
Rabi tries focusing lightning into his bow again, and takes a shot at the bandit going after Aurora.>[1d10+1] Magic Bow (Electric)Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Galloping across the deck, i aim both of my shivs into the bandit attacking Rabi!
[1d10] MeleeRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
It looks like they all have everything under control so I'm not totally sure what to do. Just in case, I pull out my bolster wand and watch to see if either of them need help.
The Servitor is not made for menial repairs, it seems. He is shot down by a stray arrow, dispersing into blue mist.>Servitor takes 3 hits, helpless>>718515
You carefully aim a shot at the bandit, knocking him off his feet before he can harm Aurora any further. She looks confused for a moment, then looks to you with a look of relief.>>718516
You rush over and shank the bandit in the side before he can harm Rabi. He groans and teeters on the spot, looking like he's going to fall over. Etrigan comes in with the assist with a powerful body slam, sending him toppling off the edge of the ship.>>718517
You stand and watch. Violet notices you looking out of it again. "Hello? Is there anybody in there?" She moves over to you, looking you over with a worried expression. "You okay? Did they get you?">>718514>>718515>>718516>>718517
The last remaining bandit sees he's outnumbered and starts backing away, taking to the air and attempting to flee.
With the fort ruined, Carabas soars above your ship. With a shimmer, he lands on the deck, back to his normal hippogriff self. He looks pale and exhausted, and has a nasty wound on his side, but manages a triumphant grin. "That'll… keep them at bay for a… spell," he manages to say confidently. Dawn rushes to his side in worry. "You're hurt…"
"It's… it's nothing. Really. I'll walk it off."
Aurora casts a healing spell on him.
Etrigan takes it on himself to toss the other bandits off the edge, dead or otherwise. Violet looks a bit freaked out by his carelessness, but seems too intimidated to say anything, instead looking over the ship. "Gods, they did a number on it, didn't they. We should get away before they bring out reinforcements or something. I don't think they'll be happy about this…"Roll #1 6 = 6
/ Roll #2 9 = 9
Zunden nods, looking as the blue mist descends from the mast. "We leave now."
Refusing to fall hopeless like she has in the past during bouts of failure, Zunden focuses her all into pulling the damaged ship away, channeling raw determination into her efforts.
>The Chariot: Dominion [10+2]Roll #1 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2 = 12
I pale as I watch Etrigan just throw the last guy overboard, and jump when Vi steps up beside me. "Huh? Y-yeah. I'm fine. Sorry. Just- Just feel a little weird. I was gonna-" I look down at the wand. "This wand has that spell Aurora uses when someone gets hurt. The one that makes it easier to pull yourself together. I was just waiting to see if I needed to use it "
Cleaning my shivs off an a bandit's vest, i rush over to Rabi's side to check on him.>>718515
"Rabi! Are you alright? When the bolts started raining onto the deck i lost sight of you! You're not hurt are you?"
Rabi lets out a sigh of relief, and stretches a little bit. He rubs at his side, and gives Silver a reassuring smile.>>718521
I took a bit of a hit, but I'm fine- nothing I can't get over with a bit of a breather. You okay, Silver? I didn't see where you got off to."
"I had ran below deck with Violet and Rabi, to man the cannons. I must say they pack a surprising amount of force, we leveled the fort with only a few shots!"
"The Damage to the ship is.. quite extensive, but at least we're all still mostly intact." i add, offering a sympathetic look towards Carabas.
Aurora manages to heal Carabas' injury. The two look to her. Carabas gives a weak nod of thanks, still convalescing from the exertion, while Dawn gives a bow of gratitude. "Thank you. Sincerely. We are both in your debt."
"No need to thank me," Aurora says humbly. "I do this all the time."
"Even so. Your skills are a credit to this crew."
Dawn turns towards Zunden. "If you would be so kind. Would you take us away from here?">>718519
You invoke the power of the Chariot in order to fuel your magical attunement with the ship, steering it away from the Mummer fort and off towards the distant mountains.>>718520
She reads you with a sympathetic expression, seeing you clearly shaken by the events of the past few minutes. She puts a hoof on your shoulder and looks you in the eye. "Hey. This was… it was rough, yeah. But it comes with the adventuring life, you know? It's never fun. Not for anyone. But you just have to… well, you have to keep moving, really. …I'm not good with words. But you know what I'm trying to say. Right?" She goes in for a reassuring hug.>>718521
Rabi seems okay. For now.>>718524
Carabas sees you looking, and handwaves it. "I've had worse from better," he grunts.
"The ship can be fixed, at least. And, at the cannons? That makes sense! Good shooting down there then, Silver!" he says, before giving the mare a kiss.
Leaning against the mast, Zunden summons another servitor, having it begin work again.
>Call Servitor out-of-combat automatic
[1d10] pick up where the last left off repairingRoll #1 4 = 4
I lightly give her a half hug and nod. "Yeah," I say. "I know. I should be used to it by now. Sorry." I pull away and look out at the ship. "We should probably start cleaning up. I'll go grab some water to swab the blood off the deck."
"Oho, you're too kind!" I reply, returning the kiss and nuzzling your neck. "Really it was Norvy and violet that managed most of the aiming, i simply loaded the rounds.">>718527
Turning to Zunden, i gesture down below deck with a wing. "Zunden, the bolts opened a sizable hole as well down below, do we have the means to repair it on board?"
"Still- fantastic job! I imagine we can take some time to relax, and patch everyone and everything up for a little while- a slightly slower pace, maybe?"
Once the fight was done, Aegis silently slinked away from the others to check on the other rooms of the ship from top to bottom, searching for any stray bandits that decided to hide for whatever reason>>718525
Upon finishing her inspection, she returned to further comfirm that everything was clear, looking at Dawn and Carabas ''That was a powerful transmogrification spell, I did not think you'd use it in a fight like that with all the risks it bring, but I underestimated your bravery'' She nods ''Thank you, that could have gone much worse without your help''
''And Aurora'' Aegis turns to the eponymous mare ''You're improving faster than I thought you would. You held your own pretty well, but'' She raises a hoof ''Watch your posture, you could easily get tripped not only by the enemy but by the shaking of the ship too, as it happened to me, you saw it.''
Zunden speaks from her resting point leaning against the mast, "The cargo haz zpare plankz and nailz."
You call another spectral blue minion, who gets to work repairing the sails with the cloth you bought. It seems it's going to take a while.>>718528
"You never get used to it," she says darkly, and follows you to go help with that.>>718531
You don't see any bandits lurking in the ship. You have fended them off completely.
"We had to," says Dawn simply. "It is a simple spell, but as you can see, quite effective." Carabas nods. "It is harrowing, though. To stay in that form overlong would kill me." "You seem quite a skilled mare yourself, miss Aegis," Dawn comments. "I would be very interested in sharing knowledge between us."
Aurora smiles slightly and looks away. "Thanks. I've been practicing a bit, but I'm still not too good. I'll get there. Eventually.">>718526>>718527>>718528>>718529>>718531
Zunden commandeers the ship onwards, leaving the bandit fort behind you. That night, you camp on top of a bald, featureless hill. Off in the distance, amidst the distant mountaintops, you see several tiny flames light up, as if signalling each other.
The next two days go by without incident. Aurora and Dawn form a slight bond over magic, the latter being a highly skilled magician. Violet and Carabas seem to get along as well, sharing a fondness for alcohol and an ineptitude when it comes to cooking. It soon becomes evident as the days go by that Etrigan doesn't eat, drink or, apparently, sleep. Most seem unnerved by him, including his companions, but despite his eerie demeanor, he is an ally to you.
Mercutio makes his grand introduction to the three, teasing Etrigan to no end over his inability to talk back. Dawn gets irritated after a while of his shenanigans and puts a silencing spell on him for a good few hours. The ship feels a lot more peaceful.
Kairon seems somehow more aloof than usual, making her presence known only rarely. Whenever the ship lands for a spell, the ghostly alicorn takes the opportunity to explore for a bit, seeming to enjoy the solitude of wandering in the wilderness. She has little to say to most of you.
On the third day, you find yourselves in an arid, flat expanse of land, with reddish soil, dull green and brown shrubs, and dead, twisted trees. There's no mistaking that you are getting ever closer to the Shifting Sands. Violet notes that before you enter the Sands, you should stock up on water.
As you fly, you come across a couple of sights:
A tiny little village of less than 100 on the banks of a nearly dried river isolated from any civilization. You can see villagers wading and bathing in the shallow waters, and a few of them wave at you excitedly as you fly over. The population seem to be all Dogs, with a few saurians and zebras thrown in.
Gigantic, house sized rib bones jutting out of the red soil, all that remains of some long dead creature. The twisted, broken remains of a caravan nearby, as well as a dead or dying pony lying in the dirt, suggest these remains are inhabited by something quite unfriendly.
A large, seemingly thriving town rests just off of one of the roads leading through this arid land. It seems to be being visited by a convoy of merchants, though the nature of their goods is unclear from your vantage point.
The other crew members share their thoughts:
"Hm. That tiny village over there seems friendly enough. Though, we are pressed for time, but it wouldn't hurt to stop for a bit and investigate, would it?…"
"Should… should we help that merchant down there? I can't tell if he's alive or not. It could be dangerous though… Hm…"
"From what Carabas has told me of what lies before us, I say we should ignore them, and keep moving. Our task is too important to risk any more delays. But it is not my choice to make. Though, I agree with miss Aurora that we could stop, at least briefly, to investigate those bones. It may be dangerous, but if someone is in trouble, we should do what we can to help them."
"If anyone were to ask me, I'd go for that large town over there. The merchant caravan may have something interesting. We have covered plenty of land these past few days. And if we're heading out into the desert, we should stock up on water, don't you think?"
(he stares out towards the distant ring of mountains)
>Kairon:"Hm. If anyone were to ask me, I would stop at the town. Sir Carabas has the way of it, I feel. If you are making an enemy of someone like Lysander, perhaps there are allies to be made there. The other village does not look like it will be able to help us any. Nor does the dead merchant."
I look down at the merchant body. "But- but what if he isn't
dead? Do we not own a spyglass that we can use to check it out before going down?"
Rabi's still a little unnerved by Etrigan from the initial Astral Viewing, but he makes sure to not avoid him- it wasn't his fault anyways. He'd spend some of the time they have free teaching Aurora a bit more about Archery, if she's still interested.
Rabi looks over the side of the ship and down at the town, humming a little in thought. "Think we should take a look? Might be our last chance to stock up for a while.
''Of course'' She replies to Dawn ''I would enjoy that very much, rarely do I get the chance to learn with another scholar of the magic arts. Please come to my room this evening after dinner, or would you rather I come in yours?''
''It shows'' She replies to Aurora without any real excitement ''But dont forget, the rapier is a weapon optimal for trusting attacks. Your little maneuver there might have been effective that time…'' Aegis produced a magical effect of a small glowing 'X' on the air, mimicking the wound the Bat mare inflicted earlier
''But do not expect it to always work, even as a swift move, your best option will almost always be to plunge it in the flesh'' A glowing illusion of floating rapier spawns in the air and pierces through the center of the X
''Simple, effective, and also less risk of shattering the blade. Do you understand?''
''We are in a rush arent we? Lysander could be somewhere in the Echoes executing the next step of his plan, we should not dally for small things'' Aegis speaks up from her place by the dining table, face buried in the Animarum
''But stopping to fetch water is an essential part of any long trip. Do we have the funds for that?''>>718535
''Do you really want to do that?'' Aegis turns to Norv, putting her book down
''If we complete our goal, we will be saving countless lives not only from the people of the Echoes, but of the Dominion as well, do you really want to risk that to save a single soul that might not even be there anymore?''
"Hmm.. While i'm aware we're to maintain a low profile.. well, low as we can in a flying ship, we'll still need water, and the town below looks like just the place for it."
"Perhaps we could send a few of us in to purchase water while the rest of us attend to the ship?"
I study Aegis for a moment, swallow, and steel myself. "Yes," I say. "We did the same for you."
She stares at him in silence for a moment, but gives in and gets back to her book ''Fair enough''
"I do not wizh to ztop in ze town, but I would like to zave ze perzon at ze bonez if we can. At ze leazt, we can ztop zhere.">>718538
Zunden nods, pointing to Zilver, "exzellent idea, Zilver. We could zend one or two to ze village under ze guize of travelerz having nozhing to do wizh ze zhip to reztock, along wizh ze magic carpet."
"Yeah. We barely had enough water last time. Not sure how much is left on the ship, but I'd still be worried about running out. I definitely think we should check the guy out, though. How should we split this up?"
"Excellent, though there is the matter of who to send still"
"Given the discreet nature of the purchase, i suppose sending myself is inevitable, though i could
use some company."
"What of you, Violet? You and Zilver are ze bezt at keeping unzeen, az I have witnezzed."
''I would happily accept either, though given the potential danger of the fallen stranger, I think I should take that route if we are to face a threat''
"I could fly down," Aurora suggests. "See what's going on, then come back. Shouldn't take too long.>>718536
"I think we might have to," Violet ponders. "We do need to stock up on water, after all, but we should be keeping a low profile.">>718537
"I will come to you," she answers simply. "I have some things to see to before I do."
Aurora nods. "Stick them with the pointy end," she repeats, echoing what she'd said earlier.
You read up on the subject of homunculi: empty bodies made by certain mages, whether of flesh and bone or other materials. Unlike a golem, which is given life by a magical incantation, a homunculus acts as a vessel for an already existing spirit, such as a demon or a ghost. They have no free will of their own, save for that which their possessing spirit commands.
"I mean, how expensive can water be?" Aurora asks. "Last I checked we still had a few hundred. I think it might be worthwhile. Though I do want to help out that pony."
Violet gives you a hard look. "We don't trade lives, Aegis," she says plainly, and leaves it at that.>>718541>>718538>>718543
"I would come along," Carabas offers. "If you would have me do so. Unless someone else wishes to take my place?">>718544
Violet shakes her head. "Remember, I'm the one Lysander's after the most. I shouldn't really be showing myself in public. I should stay here, where it's safest."
Zunden nods to Aurora "We will bring ze zhip down at ze bonez zhen, Zilver you may chooze your partner to go zhopping, you can have ze bag of holding, and ze carpet if Rabi willz it. Ze rezt of uz will wait at ze bone cage, inveztigating and hiding away from zight." Zunden says affirmatively, standing up."
"Let me go get my things. Just in case." I go down below deck and grab my cage, gas mask, and sprayer, along with an oil canister and two sleeper poison canisters before returning above deck.
"Hmm.. what about you, Dear?" i ask, looking to Rabi. "I'm in need of a strong stallion to haul back all the water we'll need.. unless you'd rather investigate the merchant, of course."
''Yes. I will remember that'' Aegis replies, sparing Violet a glance
"The carpet? Sure, I'd be fine with that.">>718549
"I'd love to help!~" he says, nuzzling into the mare's neck.
"Ah, the bag would be lovely! We could save so much space with that, thank you Zunden.">>718551
"Ohh, thank you dear!" i reply, returning the nuzzling affection. "It may be a rather mundane task, but i really do appreciate the company."
You are in your room, spending time with your new pet of indeterminate classification. It is difficult to tell whether it is mammalian or reptilian, having characteristics of both. In only a few days, it has grown rapidly, now being about the size of the average housecat, yet is still mostly harmless. It is currently occupying itself by approaching the wraith skull you took as a trophy, rearing up on two legs and arching its necks like a snake, swaying back and forth unsteadily as it stares down the dark-infused artifact. It does not flinch from its standoff, even as a knock on the door rings out.
>assuming you allow them to enter
Aurora pokes her head through the door, looking at the captivated balaur with trepidation before shaking it off and looking over to you. "Hey, Zunden. I was… er… hoping you could do that reading for me. If you're not too busy, I mean. I've just been thinking a lot about what's coming next for… for all of us, and… well, I was hoping you could shed some light on it all. …It doesn't bite, does it?"
"Ah, Aurora, I am glad you are here. Zhey bite, yez, but zhat iz when zhey are riled up and want to hunt. Zhey will get all low to ze ground and try to bounce on you, I am fortunate to have my zcalez or elze I am zure zhey would have left markz all over my arm by now." Zunden smiles as she speaks, remarkably calm despite the supposed baluar attacks she has described.
"Zit, we can talk a bit before hand if you wizh. Zhould we try our luck on zhoze awful candiez again? I haven't tried one zinze leaving ze ztore."
She nods and listens, still seeming a bit wary of the two headed beast. You watch as it continues to stare down the skull, rearing up onto its back legs almost like a bear, as if to appear more threatening. The skull, of course, remains just a skull.
"Sure, why not." She locates the jar and prompts you to take one before taking a nibble herself.
[1d100]Roll #1 75 = 75
She makes a disgusted face yet again, politely covering her mouth and making the little bite she took disappear into her pocket. "Don't know why I even try," she gripes.
"Do you have a name for him, by the way?" she asks casually, looking back to the balaur, which is swatting the air with its claws.
Zunden takes a single tentative bite herself, quickly placing the stick on the table. "Ahhem, mnn… I will make uz zome tea, zhen."
Zunden quickly goes to fill up some water in her kettle, grabbing two teacups and bringing them to the table and setting the kettle on the floor. "Ignore ze kettle for now, it iz zhy, Ze zhing doezn't boil if we're looking at it."
She rubs her chin, watching the balaur on the curio cabinet, "It haz eluded me ze pazt few dayz… Do I name zhem after a Tarot card, perhapz? I feel it too clizhe. Probably zomezhing more traditional from my tribe. I half zhought to name if after it after my fazher, but I fear zhat might be odd. Black Pudding knew ze name of my mozher, zomehow. Magic I zuppoze."
"Tea sounds nice." She blinks, not sure if you're joking about the kettle, but shrugs it off.
"That'd be nice," she nods, as you suggest giving it a traditional name. "Though, nothing too hard to pronounce, I hope. Hehe."
"Hey, I was wondering-"
The kettle starts squealing at the top of its metal lungs, causing the balaur to jump about a foot in the air like a startled cat. It scurries over to it, scrabbling madly under the table and repeatedly lashing out at it with both heads, recoiling at the heat but not giving up in its repeated attempts to bite the offending kettle. Aurora looks startled herself by the sudden burst of movement, jumping a little in her place and shifting away from the angry little beast. "A bit hard to predict, isn't he. Hum."
Zunden snickers, "I find it endearing. It iz only trying to ward off ze zcary monzter under ze table. Here now-" Zunden reaches a claw down to stroke the balaur's back, bringing the kettle up onto the table in order for it to calm down, "Zhere zhere little one, Aurora and I will dizpoze of zhiz metal fiend."
She snickers again, "Let'z zee… to boil zomezhing, Zieden would be a good name. Little zimliar, but different meaningz regardlezz. Here you are." The saurian makes sure both of them have tea before waving in a circular motion, "You were wondering?"
It twists one neck around to nip at your fingers before scurrying off at supersonic speed and hiding under the drawer. Aurora doesn't seem to find it very endearing at all. "You really think we'll have room for it when it grows? You saw how big its parents were. It's harmless enough now, but what about when it's big enough to start ripping arms off? How do you plan on keeping it in check?" She seems concerned.
"Oh I was going to ask: Have you seen much of our, er, guests? I spoke to Dawn a bit, and I'm not quite sure what to make of her, to be honest. She seems a bit… aloof. Not the talkative type. Guess I can relate to that, but I'd like to get to know her and Carabas better. Not too easy when they just stay locked up in their room all day, though. Since you have that amulet, I thought you might've seen something of them. They're hard to catch." She eyes the Fulcrum with curiosity.
"It will have it'z own room, eventually. Az well az zhiz, I would like to azk Norvegicuz wizh help zedating it az it growz older. In it'z formative time, I'm zure it will go zhrough a few zetz of teezh. However, at a larger age, I would like to knock it out an extract ze teezh of ze dominant head. It'z brozher I will allow to keep full control, az zhey are calmer, but ze ozher will have to do wizh gumming. It zhould keep it in line and let ze lezz dominant head have more zay in everyzhing."
>have I seen much of them?
"I wizh zhey would come out of zheir room more, yez, if only I could azk Dawn if zhe wanted more healing done to her eyez. Zhat remindz me zhough, if you would like… err, I mean- I need to ztart letting ozherz practize wizh ze Fulcrum. I waz zhinking… you firzt?"
Aurora doesn't look convinced. "I'm not sure just giving it its own room will be enough," she says. "Even if the other head is in control, it's still dangerous. Not that any of us would be dumb enough to provoke it, of course. I just don't know about this, to be honest."
She blinks. "You want… me to try taking charge of the ship? …I suppose it'd give you more free time." She weighs her options. "…Well, it's worth a shot. Alright. I'll give it a try. But don't expect anything incredible." She reaches out tentatively towards the necklace, as if gnawed with instant regret already.
Addendum: You have seen them leave their rooms, but only rarely. Most of the time they keep to themselves and interact little with the rest of the group, huddled away and discussing things you are not privy to. It is mostly Dawn and Carabas; Etrigan has his own room, and is more active in wandering the ship, though he does spend time with them as well. Understandably, most of the others are a little wary of him. If you were to tap into the vision granted you by the ship, you would be able to see the three of them in Dawn and Carabas' room right now, deep in intense conversation over some sort of scroll; however, whatever they are talking about, you cannot tell without magically eavesdropping.
"I would zhink it bezt we hold off on trying until after we wrap up our converzation. It waz quiet draining ze firzt time I tried uzing it, alzough perhapz zhat waz becauze we were at rizk of crazhing into ze ground. I'll have it low to ze ground above zome water or zand before we do zo."
She sips her tea nodding, "I underztand ze conzern about balaur, zhough. It iz not a houze cat, it iz a creature zhat iz more zhan capable of killing one of uz if we are not careful. I only entertain ze zhought of raizing ze balaur at all becauze I am zurrounded by zmart and capable friendz zhat could handle ze creature zhould anyzhing go awry. I'm fully prepared to let go of zhe creature zhould zhingz go zouth."
She drums her fingers on the table, "Looking to ze gueztz… more dizcuzzionz, az per uzual. Alwayz planning zomezhing; zcheming if you are not truzting of zhem. I do not know what to zhink of zhem. I don't believe eizher zide zhould know ze location of ze Egg, black or white. I know not zheir motivez, only zhat zhey oppoze Lyzander. Ztill, a monarch holdz ire for ozher monarchz, but zhat comez from dezire for what zhey have."
Aurora pulls away and nods, waiting patiently to try on the amulet, sipping her tea daintily in the meantime.
"But what I don't understand is why raise it at all," she presses. "I get wanting a powerful creature on our side, but like you said, it's not a cat, or even a dog. If this thing gets out of control, people can die. I think it's dangerous, and to be honest, we ought to leave the training to someone who knows what they're doing, or even just, you know, release it into the wild. It's far too risky to have it on board." She folds her hooves defensively. "Sorry. Just saying."
She blows on her tea as she cradles it in her hooves. "Why don't we just ask them?" she says rather bluntly. "If they're on our side, then they won't have anything to hide. If we're really going to travel all the way to the Sands with them, we should get to know them better."
"That reminds me. I had a thought before. Not a pleasant one. Those… things
that live in the Sands. They like to take things, if you recall. Snatch them right out from under the dunes. What's to stop them from engulfing our ship?" She gives you a concerned look as she takes a sip of tea.
Zunden's expression falters a bit, rubbing the back of her neck, "Ze creaturez… zhey do not naturally live in zitiez. If zhoze two balaurz had lived in ze wild, zhey would've likely never had to interact wizh poniez, and az a rezult never had to have died. Zhey had to die, yez, but ze zhing never had a chanze to have a parent az a result. I have flown cloze to ze canopy of ze foreztz a few timez now, if it iz more content to be in ze wild, zhen it will have ze chanze to be zhere. If it iz wild and dangerouz, zhen it will prefer to be in ze wild, not linger here confined."
She blushes as Aurora just mentions talking to them, "I do not know, I feel embarazzed interupting zhem from… whatever zhey are doing. Zhey have zhiz… aura about zhem. I'd have to azk ze ozherz to help."
She frowns, "I do not know, I waz hoping to remain above ze zandz ze whole time. Exztracting ze egg I hoped would just be in part done with ze carpet and zhoze able to fly."
"Hermodur mentioned a balaur trainer he'd met in Braildorn, I remember. I guess we'll just have to be extra careful about how we train it, if we do keep it. It's your choice, in the end." She looks away for a moment and takes another sip.
She nods understandingly. "I know what you mean. They act friendly enough, but there's something… forbidding about those three. I'm sure they mean well, but they put me a bit on edge. Especially the silent one. I don't know if we can really trust them, but I suppose an enemy of Lysander is a friend of ours."
"But what if we do have to land, for whatever reason? What then? I just feel like we should be prepared for the unexpected, you know? This is the Sands we're talking about. Probably one of the worst places in the whole Echoes. And you know what's at stake. We shouldn't leave anything up to chance with this. Which is why I wanted to know what the cards have to say, really. I won't deny it, that place scares me." She wears an earnest, worried expression as she contemplates what's ahead.
"Zhen let uz conzult the cardz on all of zheze conzernz. Bozh you and me wizh to zeek zheze anzwerz, and I zhink zhiz would be ze best time to do your reading." Zunden says, taking her tarot deck out.
Taking a card bearing a female shingleback saurian holding up a pentacle amongst a flourishing garden, Zunden places it in the center of the table. "I have not done zhiz zpread in quiet zome time az it iz much more complex zhan ze ozherz, but it offerz much more inzight on a zituation. One difference to ztart off wizh iz zhat we muzt chooze an avatar to reprezent you, zo zhat we may zee how zhingz around you will react to it. You fit ze Queen of Pentaclez well: you are practical and value zecurity. You care about ozherz."
She hands the deck to Aurora, "Go ahead, zhiz iz your fate we are reading, zo I will let you zhuffle ze deck. In zhiz way, I have no influenze on your own future."
She examines the card. "I… suppose that's right," she says, sounding a little skeptical. You feel like part of her is questioning why she asked for this reading in the first place, but she seems very curious about it all. "What's a pentacle?" she asks plainly as she shuffles the deck, then hands it back to you.
Zunden's eyes light up, "Ah, zhey are one of ze four zuitz zhat make up ze minor arcana. Zhink of zhem like playing cardz, like how heartz and clubz are zuitz in zhoze. Zpecifically, pentaclez make up earthly matterz, zhoze zhat are phyzical and zat you can interact wizh. I could go on about ze ozherz, if you'd like."
She splits the deck into three piles, looking to Aurora, "Chooze one pleaze."
"Oh, I see. That makes sense," she nods. "I think you mentioned they're used for games sometimes as well as divination, right? I wonder if they share a source."
As you prompt her, she reaches out and takes one from the leftmost pile, unsure whether she's doing the right thing. She examines it looking nonplussed, then hands it over to you to elucidate.
"Then we are decided," says Dawn. Carabas stands behind her, opting to accompany you to the bones. Etrigan seems to intend to stay behind and watch over the ship. "If it's all the same to you," says Violet, "I'll stay here as well. Just in case something comes knocking, someone has to protect the ship. Right?">>718547>>718548>>718550>>718551>>718552
Zunden maneuvers the ship down towards the enormous ribcage jutting out of the soil. From there, Rabi and Silver head west towards the town, while Zunden, Norv, Aegis, Dawn, Carabas and Aurora investigate the ruined caravan.>>718547>>718548>>718550
The gigantic bones loom over you ominously, bleached white by the heat, jutting out like spears from the red soil. The sun above is blazing, scorching your faces and bathing the landscape in a sweltering haze. Aurora wipes the sweat from her brow, but it is of little use. Carabas grumbles indistinctly, while Dawn offers to share a water flask she is carrying, first with him then with the rest of the group.
As you approach the ruined caravan, you can see that it must have hit something. It has tipped on its side, spilling miscellaneous goods everywhere, and one of the front wheels has been reduced to splinters. The lone occupant, the pony you saw while flying overhead, is a purple earth pony, lying face down in the dirt. It's unclear at the moment whether he is unconscious or just dead.>>718552>>718551
You head into the town. Most of the buildings here are made of carven, pale sandy stone, along with many tents of multiple colors, giving the impression of some sort of bazaar. The town is surrounded by a stone wall, serving as defenses. The gate is currently open, and most of the merchant caravan you saw earlier are either setting up just outside or selling whatever their goods may be within the town.
"Hoy there, drifters!" You are greeted by one of the merchants, a stout minotaur in a red vest with golden banded horns. You notice a small pin on his vest in the shape of a black rooster's head. He is hobbling over from one of the caravans, which you can see are guarded by miscellaneous tough looking folk, some of which you see are carrying cat o' nine tails. "Care to examine our wares? They're all in peak condition, I assure you."
Zunden approaches the body, preparing a healing spell as she goes to turn the pony on their side with her staff.
"I wonder what haz happened here…"
I knit my brow and adjust my sprayer. I take the chance to swap out my sleeper poison for the lantern oil and keep make sure I have the flint and steel in my pocket. I decide to leave my cage in my room so I donXt endanger my rats any more than I have to. "Well, I still want to help him, but this feels like a pretty blatant trap. Like the moment we touch the sand we're going to be ambushed."
Opting for my underdress rather than the full plated garb, i enter the town with Rabi. Approached by the merchant, i greet him with a wave of my wing.
"Ah, greetings! We were hoping to procure some water for our journey, as we've ground to cover further into the desert and our stores are low. What would your rates be?"
Rabi keeps his normal garb, since it's not particularly bulky. He offers a friendly wave to the merchant, and nods in agreement with Silver.
"Yeah! We probably won't need too much."
You turn him over with a gentle nudge. He seems to have taken a heavy blow to the head, caked in dirt and blood, but seems to still be alive, though only barely conscious. He seems unaware of what's going on around him. Carabas looks him over as well, while Dawn waits to hear what's happening. "He's alive," Carabas tells her, "though only just." "Perhaps some water would help," she suggests, reaching for her canteen. Aurora tries to heal him as best she can, her scarf glowing white, the magical forces moving down her foreleg and into her hoof as she touches him.
Carabas nods. "I have a bad feeling about this also," he comments. "But if there is something we can do, is it not our duty to help those in need?"Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9
I nod. "Definitely." I look around deck. "Maybe we can sorta- I don't know. Hook him? With the anchor or a piece of metal or something?"
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 8 = 8
[1d10]Roll #1 8 = 8
"Well, we don't normally sell water," the merchant says, "least of all ours. We have many mouths to feed, after all. But I'm sure we could make a deal. …How's about 50 bits per barrel? Each one has about enough for a week, depending on how many you have with you.">>719177>>719178
You see several wretched looking folk of various races being led out of one of the caravans. They seem to be being escorted by the merchants, and are chained together by fetters around their feet and necks. The minotaur notices you looking at them. "Ah, interested in our usual stock?" he asks cordially. "We Chanticleers have a guarantee that they'll be in perfect condition, you know. Step on up into town if you're in the market for one!" He gives you a wide, toothy grin.
Seeing Aurora get to healing, Zunden instead goes to wiping the blood and dirt off the head of the pony, using the edges of her clothing. "Are you alright, traveler?"
You don't spot anything you can use to move him. You think you see a ripple in the air, but whatever it is, it soon passes. Surely just the heat.>>719180
Aurora manages to heal his head wound, and he slowly comes to, groaning and staggering to his feet. "Ughhh…" He staggers in place, almost falling over. "Wh… Who are you people?…"
"Travelers," Aurora answers simply. "We saw you were hurt," says Dawn, offering him some water. "We could not sit by and let the worms claim you." "The living are not done with you yet, drifter," says Carabas. The pony nods in gratitude, still too dazed to talk much, clutching his head, still trying to get his bearings.
Rabi grits his teeth slightly at the sight of slaves, and shakes his head. "No… nah. I don't think we wanna get any of that. Though, some water might be good… how many barrels do you have to trade?"
Zunden offers a claw to help the pony to their hooves, looking about the scene ([1d10]) as she does. "Do you know what did zhiz to you? Banditz? A monzter?"Roll #1 7 = 7
"How many do you suppose we'll need?" i ask, pulling you aside. "Between the ship and compass, i doubt we'd need more than two barrels, really."
I shrug and follow Zunden.
"Let me see…" The Chanticleer, as apparently the slavers are called, moves off into the caravan for a minute or two, then returns. "Boss man says we've got a few dozen. We can sell you up to four. He also said he'll charge, uh, 75 each." He clasps his hands. "So. Deal or no deal?"
"Hrm… why not three? It's better safe than sorry, and if we find someone who needs some water, we have a little to spare."
You think you see something moving nearby. It doesn't seem to be a mirage either; a ripple in the air disturbs the dirt ever so slightly. You get the feeling you're being watched by something, or several somethings.>>719183>>719185
"…Bandits, I think… There was… something in the road.. the whole caravan flipped… Joyeuse… Raconteur… They took them… They left me… I don't know why…" He points due westward. "That way… Sorry, my… head is just killing me…"
Zunden blinks twice, charging her light-attuned ring. "Close your eyes and rest, we'll look in the nearby area."
Without any other word, she releases the magic in her ring.
>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]Roll #1 1 = 1
I shield my eyes as Z moves to use flash. "Shoot. Well, I guess we're going after bandits. For some reason I'd hoped it was a monster."
"True, Three would be more than enough for the trip.">>719186
"Oh? seventy five bits each? wasn't the offer fifty
per barrel a moment ago? We'll happily take three at that price."
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 9 + 2 = 11
The pony nods and hobbles over to the side of the caravan, slumping down and taking a breather. Aurora knows what's coming and averts her gaze, while Carabas only just manages to avoid the flash by throwing his hand up. Dawn is unaffected. The sudden burst of light causes several ropy black figures to recoil, losing their camouflage. There is a pack of Prowlers surrounding you, five of them, clearly drawn to the wreckage. They recoil silently at the light, disoriented but aggressive. "Prowlers," Carabas hisses, and draws his greatsword, ready to throw down.
Dawn fires off a blast of magic at one of them.
Aurora lunges at a second with her rapier.
Carabas swings his patterned steel blade at a third.
1/2Roll #1 2, 6 = 8
/ Roll #2 10 - 1 = 9
/ Roll #3 8 + 1 = 9
The Prowlers, disoriented from the flash of light, split up and lash out at each of you in turn.
[1d10] vs Zunden
[1d10] vs Norv
[1d10] vs Carabas
[1d10] vs Dawn
[1d10] vs Aegis
DC+1 to hitRoll #1 7 = 7
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 1 = 1
/ Roll #4 6 = 6
/ Roll #5 8 = 8
"Shoot. Why am I not surprised?" I fumble with the flint and steel, trying to jump back from the prowler's attack while I strike the rope wick.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
"I'll… be right back." He doesn't look comfortable doing so, but nonetheless, he leaves you for a bit and goes to converse with his boss. He returns looking miffed, but complacent, followed by a trio of tough looking Diamond Dogs each carrying a large wooden barrel, sloshing with water. "Boss man says 50's fine," the minotaur grunts. "150 total. 'Less there's anything else we can interest you in?" He gestures again towards the slaves being marched off to market.
"You hoped for monzterz?" Zunden says, swinging her staff haphazardly towards the Prowler charging her.>dropping the Bask:Mend so i can get Bask on recharge
[1d10+1] whackRoll #1 3 + 1 = 4
"Sharp tongue, dear." the stallion says, before taking a look around. When the merchant comes back a few moments later, and nods approvingly. "150 it is. I think we're good on gear, thank you."
"That will be all, though i appreciate the offer." i reply, hoofing over the bits.
"If you could set the barrels onto the carpet here, we'll take care of the rest." i add, gesturing to the flying carpet nearby with a wing.>>719197
"Why of course, we may be in a hurry but that doesn't mean we can't find a good deal now and again."
Vs Aurora not Aegis>>719194
As a fight breaks out, you struggle with the flint and steel, but it is knocked out of your hand and across the dirt by the Prowler, who leaves a deep, stinging cut running up your forearm.>Norv takes 1 hit>>719196
The Prowler's stinging barbs glance off your thick scales, and you retaliate with a swing of your staff. The ropy black monster latches on to it mid swing, ensnaring it and refusing to let go.>>719194>>719196
Carabas defeats the Prowler with a single powerful thrust of his blade, shattering the foul red gem that is their core. The Prowler bursts apart in a visceral display, the inky substance they are made from spattering the hippogriff's helmet and breastplate with black blood.
Aurora is beset by the Prowler, which wraps a smoky tendril around her neck, threatening to crush her. She struggles and kicks at it before stabbing it repeatedly in the eye with her rapier, dealing enough damage to make it let go. She falls to the ground choking and gasping, but still determined to keep fighting.>Aurora takes 3 hits
Dawn is caught slightly off guard, getting the tip of her ear nicked, retaliating with a blast of silvery magic that sends the creature flying. Seeing his partner hurt, Carabas rushes to her side in concern, ready to fight the Prowler alongside her.>Dawn takes 1 hit
>4 prowlers remaining
Dawn reaches out and tries to restrain the Prowler with telekinesis.
Carabas rushes forth and swings his blade downwards at it.
Aurora takes a moment to catch her breath before rushing forward with her rapier.
1/2Roll #1 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #2 10 + 1 = 11
/ Roll #3 2 - 1 = 1
The remaining prowlers keep up their attack.
[1d10] vs Dawn
[1d10] vs Aurora
[1d10] vs Norv
[1d10] vs ZundenRoll #1 5 = 5
/ Roll #2 5 = 5
/ Roll #3 9 = 9
/ Roll #4 7 = 7
"You heard the lady," says the Chanticleer, and the Dogs dutifully set the barrels on top of the flying carpet.>-150 bits
"Say," the Chanticleer asks conversationally, "where did you come from anyway? Didn't see you rock up in a caravan or anything. You have some sort of portal magic?"
I yelp as the prowler slices across my arm. Not having a chance to grab my flint and steel, I try to dive out of the way of the continued assault.
[1d10]Roll #1 3 = 3
Trying to yank her staff free of the prowler's grip, she casts out healing magic towards her allies.
[1d10] Healing Bonds, Aurora, Norv, Dawn
[1d10] instant artifact thingy i forget it's nameRoll #1 3 = 3
/ Roll #2 7 = 7
"We've a caravan some ways away from here." i begin, not skipping a beat. "We were sent back with the carpet to purchase some water before we entered the desert proper. Better we find some ahead of time than hope for a miracle, right?"
[1d10+2] PersuasionRoll #1 5 + 2 = 7
"Yeah. It pays to be prepared, and I'd really rather not run out in the middle of nowhere."
Aegis finally rushes back up to the scene, her investigation of the flipped over carriage interrupted as she hears the ruckus from the fighting
She begins charging her usual spell as she joins the group
'1d10' homing magicRoll #1 3 = 3
You are tripped over by an extended pseudopod which yanks you to the ground, hitting your head hard on a rock. You are momentarily dazed, and you can feel blood trickling down your face from the blow.>Norv takes 4 hits>no damage taken last round because I'm an idiot, so 1/5>>719203
The Prowler remains firmly tangled around the staff, refusing to let go. Its grip stops you from being able to successfully cast out your spell. As you see an incoming club-like limb threatening to knock your block off, you raise your left arm, and a blue circular shape with patterns like a mandala appears from the glove, deflecting the attack.>>719206
You take in the scene, seeing your allies fighting a pack of Prowlers. The nearby pony who seemed dead before is watching helplessly from the sidelines, too weak to be of any use.>>719202>>719203>>719206
As the Prowler lurches towards Dawn, it is stopped mid-charge by Dawn, whose horn glows a brilliant silver. With some effort, she lifts the creature up into the air, flailing, expanding and contracting futilely. Dawn grimaces, and the magic around it seems to tighten, threatening to crush it. Carabas seizes the opportunity and flies up, slicing the Prowler in two with a powerful uppercut. The bisected creature plops to the ground and sizzles out of existence, leaving one of the strange red gems behind.
Aurora tries to jab at it again, but her sword is knocked out of her hand, and she is stabbed in the gut by the Prowler. With a soft exhale, she collapses to the ground, desperately clutching her wound with a mixture of pain and fear.
>3 Prowlers remaining
Aurora tries to get back up.
Dawn and Carabas try the same combo on the Prowler that attacked her.
Seeing Aegis show up to the fight, the Prowler attacking Zunden rushes towards her.
The Prowler that stabbed Aurora turns one of its limbs into a blade of sorts and swipes at Dawn.
The Prowler attacking Norv looms over him, lashing out with about half a dozen whiplike tendrils.
[1d10]Roll #1 9 = 9
/ Roll #2 1, 10 + 1 = 12
/ Roll #3 5 = 5
/ Roll #4 5 = 5
/ Roll #5 10 = 10
He frowns. "Heading to the Sands, are you? Well, I won't pry. But it's not a pleasant place by all accounts. Journey less so. If you like you could tag along. Your caravan with our convoy. We'll be heading more or less that way, back to home base. If you make yourselves useful, might even throw in a bit of a reward as a bonus. How's about it?"
I look up at the prowler in a daze. I've fought stronger than this thing. What am I doing? My mouth pulls back over my teeth in a snarl, I pop my sun, and I leap up at it with my claws outstretched, moving to wrestle it to the ground.
[1d10+1]Cheap shotRoll #1 1 + 1 = 2
Unable to do anything of use, Zunden runs to Norv's side to swing her staff at the Prowler attacking him before it can inflict anymore harm.
[1d10+1]Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8
Repelling the Prowler attacking her with the shield takes away Aegis's focus, but she still manages to produce a small focused blast of magic and shoots it at the menacing flurry of black whips lashing at Norv
'2d10' Magic boltRoll #1 10, 6 = 16
'1d10' potent potionRoll #1 1 = 1
"A tempting offer, but i'm afraid the decision is out of my hooves. The boss is convinced traveling light will lessen the chance of ambush, A good few creatures out there being drawn to the commotion of travel, moreso as more ponies get involved, you understand."
"Yeah, not up to us- we're a little busy ourselves. Thanks for the offer, though."
You are ravaged by the wickedly barbed strands, but throw yourself at the Prowler, sinking your claws into its oily surface. Its amorphous shape shifts around you, engulfing your arms all the way up to the upper arm. The sheer weight of the thing overpowers you, and you topple over.>Norv takes 5 hits, helpless
You can feel a solid rocky shape amidst the cold, slimy mass of the creature.>>719210
As the Prowler overpowers him, you try to distract it with several heavy, punitive blows, stunning the oily beast momentarily.>>719211
You sidestep the Prowler attacking you and see an opening while Norv struggles with the one attacking him. You fire a blast of pale blue magic, frying the lashing tendrils and crippling it severely.>>719209>>719210>>719211
Aurora takes her rapier and uses it to prop herself back up, clutching her stomach wound but refusing to give in yet.
Dawn tries to restrain the Prowler, but it surges towards her like a black tidal wave, pummeling her viciously. She cries out in pain, and in retaliation Carabas rushes towards it, obliterating it in a sequence of savage overhead chops, reducing it to pulp.
>2 Prowlers remain
Carabas doesn't waste time and tries to help up Dawn.
[1d10] Dawn recover
[1d10] Carabas help
Aurora sees Norv downed and casts a strengthening spell on him.>Norv is Bolstered
The one that tried to attack Aegis shifts its mass, forming one tendril into a massive clublike shape, swiping at her clumsily.
The one attacking Norv senses Zunden attacking it and shoots out a spear-like appendage at her.
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
/ Roll #2 6 = 6
/ Roll #3 4 = 4
/ Roll #4 9 = 9
"Oh, so you're not alone?" he asks casually, tilting his head a little. He looks from one to the other, having a strange expression, as if the gears in his head are turning. He gives another fake smile. "Well. As you will, then, drifters. The offer still stands though. If you're ever in need of a few, er, helping hands, look for us. Eh?"
Addendum: The Prowler attacking Norv and Zunden has its movements slowed by Aegis' icy blast, white and blue crystals forming on its body and reducing it to a crawl.
I take a deep breath as my body suddenly feels stronger, and my ragged breathing calms. I pull myself to my feet. "Thanks!" I shout to Aurora. With only two left I decide to stand my ground.
Turning back to the clumsy Prowler, Aegis parries its mass with a bash of her shield and follows up with a point-blank magic blast
'1d10+2' simple magicRoll #1 10 + 2 = 12