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 No.715158[Last 50 Posts]

Last time on PirateQuest…

After leaving behind the wreckage of the Lilliput, the party continued onward on their journey to Agyl Island, passing a journey of four days in relatively peaceful weather. That is, until they reached the waters just outside the island's perimeter. There, circling the island, they beheld a colossal storm, with dark and tumultuous clouds that surged high into the sky. As the party attempted to reach the island, they were beset by a cohort of Squall-beasts, monsters made of clouds that resembled creatures like seagulls, tigers, elephants and dragons.

The party braved the assault as their two ships flew onward to Agyl, but the beasts proved powerful, causing severe damage to all the crew with even just a scrap of the lightning that sparked and flew off their bodies. All seemed to be going well, until the final push to make it to the eye of the storm, the patch of clear sky above Agyl Island, into which no Squall-beast dared to fly. A tidal wave rose up, spurred on by the Squall-beasts' charge, and propelled the ships forward, nearly knocking them stern over bow. Most held on to the ratlines and railings, but Cloud was launched from the deck, and collided head-on with the foremast. With a sickening crunch, he flew head-first into one of the crossbeams, which drove a loose nail partway into his eye. By a miracle, the wound was not fatal, but despite Alder's best efforts to restore his severely shattered skull, his eye was beyond saving.

Neither Alder, Godot nor Sickly Sweet had the equipment to restore Cloud's vision. So now, as the party docks into Agyl Island, the crews are in a rush to find a doctor who might be able to fix his annihilated eye.


>Cloud, Cutlass
"Giving you a prescription," Godot remarks dryly. "Either for a monocle or an eyepatch."

Cloud feels Godot gingerly set his fingers to the side of his head, and Cloud realizes he cannot see out of that side. What they have said is the truth. Chiu gently presses down on Cloud's chest, holding him steady while Godot works.


With Cerulean's aid, the Beesting quickly takes to the calm waves, making short work of the rest of their trek to Agyl Island.

As the island comes into better view, you are struck by its shape. The massive island's landmass appears to be constructed of immacultate hexagonal cuts of stone and sand. Where it slopes, it does so in layers of hexagons, perfectly cut and proportioned from one another. The island also appears to be triangular in shape, as the ships approach from the southwest, seeing a very large port town on the triangle's corner. The town is densely packed, with several buildings all layered in a low hillside, giving it a good deal of verticality. The structures are carved of a beautiful white adobe, with lots of cuts of blue stones as well for color. Cacti dot its landscape, and a plethora of people of a myriad of races (mostly variants of Krikral) are out and about. The nearest shipyard appears to be on the western side, in the midst of a vast bazaar.

The two ships pull in toward the dock, coming in to moor at a pair of empty spaces between some royal-looking trading vessels. Bee Holder quickly hops off the Beesting, running toward the port's customs office to register her ship.



Cloud tries not to panic further as Godot puts the damage bluntly, even with how the others said it.

His remaining eye can't help but look at Godot as he grasps his head. He grasps Chiu's hoof, holding it as tight as he can, which isn't by much.


Sickly Sweet brings out a stretcher, and nearby crewmates load you onto it. Through the searing pain drumming mindlessly through your skull, you see Godot step back, retreating into the hold of the Hidden Dagger once more while a small group of crew hoist you up and prepare you for transport.


Cerulean steps off the ship and looks around, taking in everything.
"Woah…this place is so different from all the other places! I'm not sure where I should even start looking!"


Alder would marvel more at the surroundings, but is far too worried by the damage to Cloud to notice. He'll make sure to stick right by Cloud Shear's stretcher, to explain to whoever they take him to.




"W-well, it looks good this way," Cutlass says in an awkward attempt to be supportive. "Very piratey…"



She stares out at Agyl Island pensively, noting the odd geometric formations. It reminds her of a region of her homeland she knew once. Surely just coincidence. She gathers her belongings and steps off, wordlessly waiting for the rest of her companions to disembark and lead the way. Her mind is still on Cloud, and the horrific injuries he received.


The bazaar is quite busy, but there seems to be an order to the chaos. You see that it is organized into several layers, like steps on a pyramid, only on a much grander scale, with each "step" being about fifteen feet high, connected by networks of staircases that have rails going down their center, to allow for carts to be transported up each staircase.

As you come up from the dock, you spot a group of well-dressed minotaur, with sleek, tied-back hair and rich robes, wearing jewels and bright clothing, standing before a massive noticeboard and town map, chatting among themselves and debating where to go. Upon a quick scan, you spy a clinic's listing: It's called the "Freshborn Skinshop" and it is located up on the third level, among a cluster of shops relating to health, including an apothecary and a dried goods shop.

"A 'skinshop'?" Chiu asks with distaste.
"Oh, that's where you can buy flesh and bone," Paraiba says casually. "Organs too, at some of the higher-end ones."
Chiu blinks, baffled, then shakes her head. "I don't see any other options, do you?"



"Organs I understand, but who would buy flesh or bones!?" Cutlass says in disgust.

"They better not scrap Cloud for parts," she grumbles. "…On second thought, that sounds kind of funny."


"Absolutely not!" Chiu snaps, giving you a poisonous glare. Yet just as quickly, she backs down and shakes her head. "Sorry, I…"



Cutlass does a "hmph," and puts her nose up when Chiu snaps at her. But, when Chiu lightens up and apologizes, Cutlass' own demeanor melts as well.

"N-no," she says awkwardly. "I understand. My sense of humor is… morbid. It was a bad time for a joke. Obviously, I don't want Cloud to die either."

"N-not that I care about him, either," she adds, blushing.


Cloud winces as he's lifted up onto the stretcher. His lack of vision, and the pounding in his head making it pretty much impossible for him to take in the surroundings as he's carried to help.

Cloud groans. It's hard to tel if he's being sarcastic, or was appreciative.


"N-No, no. Please, do not." the griffon says to Cutlass, before humming a little.

"Skinshops do not sound good,but we have little else to hope for. Let us hope for the best…" the griffon remarks, heading for the shop in question.

"I-I will cover whatever cost there is to restore your eyes. I apologize for failing you, Mister Cloud."



"Well, *I* wouldn't be the one to cut him up!" Cutlass says defensively. "Don't tell ME not to!"


"Don't apologize Alder, this was just an accident."
Cloud responds as Alder offers to cover the cost.
"And save your bits. I'm already in debt, so what's a little more on my head."


"Perfect," she says, as if they had come across an actual doctor. "We should be able to buy a new eye for Cloud here." She heads in interestedly.

"They are a delicacy," she says offhandedly. "And also useful in the creation of certain homunculi. …If they do take apart our friend, I would very much like to keep his other eye as a memento. He was a useful one." She says it all with the utmost earnesty.


Cerulean gives a slight hum, then walks up to Cloud.
"Hey buddy. Listen, I know you're tough, so I'm gonna explore the town and give you some space. Oh, and here you go," she says and gently places The Eye of Wisdom with Cloud on the stretcher.
"If they can't find a meaty eye, then maybe a magic thing with 'eye' in the name might work. Plus, there's nice voices in this one that are super helpful!"

She restrains the urge to give Cloud a pat on the back, so opts for a grin before checking out the big map and notice board.


Cloud looks down with his good eye at the "eye" Cerulean puts on his chest.
"Uh, thanks Cerulean."
He says, unsure of how that process would work. But, he smiles back for a moment in thanks.
"Have fun out there."



"A delicacy?" Cutlass responds with disgust. "To who?"


"I-It is a lot." he says, with a huff. "Your wings are important and you deserve to have them."


"Some," she answers vaguely.


Chiu sighs, helping to heft up part of the stretcher upon her shoulder. She rolls her eyes at Cutlass' tsundere demeanor, but says no more on it. "I'll probably be feeling more in the mood for jokes once we've got the eye fixed."

You head up the stairs, following the directions to the skinshop through the bustling, lively bazaar, picking up bits of raucous, stringy, bouncing street music as you go. Along the way, you and your followers are beset by a kaleidoscope of sights. Krikral, you learn quickly, are a highly diverse and modal race. You nearly step on a few mice-sized aphid-form Krikral, and have to cut across to another stairwell in order to get around a very large pillbug Krikral. Among them are an equally diverse series of mounts. Some tiny ones ride upon small hunting dogs equipped with saddles, while others appear to prefer ponies as their ride of choice. By far, however, you see that ostritches appear to be the ride of choice for the average-sized Krikral.

In time, you navigate around the sea of carts, wagons, mounts and gigantic bugs, and make it up to the skinshop, a three-storied adobe hut. Ironically, the signpost at the top has an eyeball for its decoration.

Within the shop, you find that it is large, densely packed, and quite cold. There are a number of magitech screens and machines, reminiscent of golden age technology and aesthetic. Many pipes fill the room, sprawling about the walls and ceiling, and a great, dull hum radiates through the room. The back wall is entirely covered with thick cloth curtains. At a desk up at the front of the shop, you see a butterfly Krikral, bright and red, poisonous colors to be sure. He sits in a cocoon-like chair, and looks up at you with interest, particularly at Cloud. For a moment, it seems like Cutlass' "joke" might be coming true.

"Hello, hello," he chitters in a buggy, clicking voice, with an affected accent reminsicent of Mexicolt (Spanish). "How may I help you fine folks?"

As you examine the noticeboard, you see that a wide variety of shops are listed as open today. Some, you notice, are marked with a black dot next to their name. At the bottom of the map's legend, you see a note that indicates that the black dot lists those officially licensed with the Maize House merchant guild. The Freshborn Skinshop is one of these shops.

On another noticeboard, conveniently next to the map, you see that a number of fliers have been posted, listing local news and job requests.



Cutlass narrows her eyes. "Are… are you a cannibal…?"

Then, she quickly lightens up her demeanor. "I-I mean, that's completely okay if you are! I don't mean to judge you!"


Cloud tries to keep himself still in the stretcher as the party makes their way through the winding bazaar, feeling a bit like drifting off with all the rocking. He glances up at the eye decoration, the icon a bit coincidental.

The chill of the building gives him some ease with the pain. His eye looks over at the butterfly Krikral, hoping that lingering gaze is a good sign that they can help him quickly. As he asks what they need, Cloud let's the others answers, since they know what the damage is far more than he does.



"Ugh," Cutlass groans as she looks around at her surroundings. Her whole body is visibly tensing as she takes extra care not to touch anything. "Are oversized bugs going to be a common thing in the ribcage? I'm already soooo done with it…"

Upon entering the "shop" and being greeted by the supposed doctor, Cutlass eyes him suspiciously, then leans in toward Godot. "Can we trust this guy?"


She looks around at the monitors with interest, trying to see what's on them.

She nods in greeting to the Krikral. "We require eyes," she explains. "Or an eye, rather. Our friend lost his earlier today, and we were hoping we could find a replacement."

"I did not say it was to my liking," she deadpans.

"They probably say the same of us four legged folk," she muses. "Disgusting squishy hairy things, with their skeletons on the inside. No sheen to their bodies at all." She smirks a little at the thought.



"All the more reason to avoid interaction," Cutlass grumbles.


"C-Can you fix eyes? I will pay for it, if you can." the griffon blurts out, wringing his talons together and squirming.


"Maize…House? A house of some kind of corn," she wonders outloud with a head tilt. Still, seeing as how the fleshshop is with them, then maybe that's a sign of quality. Now less worried for Cloud, she looks at the notice board about the jobs and news once she's done trying to memorize the map as best as her brain can.


As you turn to talk to Godot, it looks like he's not there. You then notice a gray pegasus standing beside you, wearing Godot's clothing, with a set of sunglasses on to boot. He doesn't acknowledge you as you call him Godot.

The monitors are hazy and fuzzy, and a gray bar continually travels down each of them, subtly distorting each image that it passes over. Each of the monitors lists various prices for procedures. There's the "Body Part Enhancement," the "New Limb Installation," the "Fresh Skin Procedure," and the "Replacement Installation." Each of them is prohibitively expensive, being 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 Bits respectively.

An another screen, there is a small logo of a cocoon moving across the screen, bouncing off each side of the screen that it touches.

The giant butterfly, about six feet in height, comes over and examines Cloud, gingerly peeling back the bandages over his eyes. He winces at the sight of it, while his proboscis rolls in and out in a curious expression that strikes you as thoughtful. "Oooooohhh… not looking good there pal, but there's nothing I can't do with a bit of skin and a bit of twine and spit. Let's see here."

He checks a chart on a clipboard at his desk, then taps it. "Ah, here we are. It'll be 12,500 Bits to fix the eye in his head now. It's 5,000 if you just want it excavated, and another 5,000 if you want to install a new one. Ah, but if you purchase one of the eyes we have here, I'll give ya the in-store discount and knock the installation price down to 4,000, for a grand total of 9,000! If you just want a wooden or a glass eye, that'll be 2,000 for the installation instead."

You see that the majority of jobs are for monster hunting and bounty hunting. Three stand out to you as significant.

The first one lists a bounty on a rampant Qurupeco that's been harassing trade caravans out in the forest to the north, and offers 500 Bits to anyone who can take it down. The second one lists a bounty for a school of kalaphite that have cropped up in the desert recently and have been a pest to the local ostritch herders. That one is worth 900 Bits. The third one is a bounty on a wanted criminal by the name of the Good Doctor, an extremely dangerous individual who has been convicted in part of several trafficking and unlicensed organ-trading rings. The description lists him as a griffon of medium height and build, and he was last seen fleeing out to sea. He's wanted alive only, and is worth 8,000 Bits.


"Hrm… goodness, that is quite a bit. Perhaps we ought to look in to getting some money?" he says to himself, before looking ack to the butterfly "Is there a way we could get the eye now, and pay for it soon? I am sure I could find some work to get the money?"


"Nnnnnope, absolutely not, pal," the butterfly says, squatting back down in his cocoon-chair with a sleazy grin. "If you'd have gotten to me ten years ago, I'da considered it, but no more. I used to be a swell, kindhearted guy, a real pillar of the community. I had a heart, you know. I'd let people do that, as long as they left behind some serious collateral as a sign of insurance. But, I got gypped on the last time someone took me up on that detail. Bastard by the name of the Good Doctor. He ripped me off with a New Skin Procedure that way."


Fresh Skin Procedure*


Cloud tenses a bit as the butterfly comes in to look, eyeing the proboscis as it rolls in and out, fearing it darting at his wound or his body in general.
"C-Could uh, that's just an expressions, right?"
Cloud stammers at the 'twine and spit' comment.

If Cloud wasn't still in pain, he would've sprung up at hearing the price. Still, he does move slightly at the bill, remaining eye opening wide.
"N-N-Nine thousand?! Are you selling solid gold eyes?!"
Cloud exclaims, following by a groan of pain.
"Wh-What if we provided our own eye?"
Cloud suggests, holding up the Eye of Wisdom Cerulean gave him.



Cutlass does a double-take upon seeing the pegasus who is definitely NOT Godot. "Wh-what…?" she says, taking a step back.

"Where's Godot?" she asks the pegasus.


The pegasus clears his throat, and you recognize that his voice is indeed that of Godot. He makes a "cut-off" motion by drawing his hoof across his throat, then after examining some of the monitors like a disinterested shopper, he heads outside, casting a glance back at you, evidently wanting you to follow.


"It seems you shall have to get accustomed to wearing a prosthetic for now," she says to Cloud. She turns back to the butterfly. "I do not suppose there is something we could to to lower that price, is there."


Cerulean looks these over, humming in a bit of thought. She doesn't feel like going back out to sea just yet, and the idea of a desert just doesn't exactly appeal to her for obvious reasons.
"No idea what a 'qurupeco' is, but if its only that much, it can't be that bad," she says and takes the bounty paper with her. But before running off to the forest, she remembers about the deep sea expedition soon to take place and looks on the map of where to go to get herself a spot for that before she forgets.



Cutlass follows the pegasus who may or may not be Godot outside.


"I understand. I am sorry you were cheated, then. I suppose we will need to make as much money as I can…"

"I think I have seen one, actually. He was a very pleasant person. The 'monster' I fought at the carnival?"


"I'm just worried about this getting treated now. We can worry about the rest later when I can think clearly."


The butterfly chuckles. "That would be fitting, wouldn't it? Oh, you wouldn't understand. My name's Dorado, by the way."

He looks at the Eye of Wisdom, rolling it around in his hand. "Hmm… Might have to do a little work resizing it to fit in your socket. But like I said, that'll be 2,000 for the installation."

Outside, the pegasus removes his sunglasses, and you see Godot's eyes behind them. "This island is tricky for me. Some bad memories associated with it. That is, other people have bad memories. I hope you'll understand if I don't exactly go around looking like myself, Captain. You heard what our friend the flesh merchant said about the 'Good Doctor.' I hope you haven't forgotten my condition for joining your crew?"

"Sorry, but I don't make the rules. House Maize has been putting some horrendous taxes on all the businesses that they've got under their thumbs, and that includes me. If I don't make a whopping profit on each procedure I do, I'll go bankrupt! Still, you lot look like you're able-bodied, which is a rare thing for seafarers these days. I'm sure you could make a tidy profit picking up some jobs. Why not make yourselves useful and look for some work? They've got listings at the noticeboards around town, and at House Maize's labor office down on First Street."

You find a large poster advertising the expedition, and see that it is set to take place on the 15th of the Month of Chilotop, which is a Moonday. The poster is calling for all able-bodied explorers to join House Maize in seeking out a long-lost island far below the waves, and promises handsome compensation in exchange for any treasure or cultural relics that the explorers find and return to House Maize. Explorers are responsbile for puchasing and maintaining their own diving gear, but House Maize's explorers will, for a small fee, provide training in their use. Interested applicants should go to the labor office on First Street to apply.



"Be able to leave whenever you want?" Cutlass asks slowly, clearly confused. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Wait! Have you been to the Ribcage before!?"


With her question answered, Cerulean begins to head towards First Street. Rather than go directly there, she opts to take the scenic route to look around town some more before ending up and entering the labor office.


"Oh, heh, pretty funny coincidence then."
Cloud says with a forced laugh.

"Still, even if we provided it?"
Cloud groans at hearing no price change.
"Might as well just skim your catalog then."

Cloud sinks into his stretcher as the price remains non-negotiable.
"Yea, I'm sure able-bodied…" He complains, "Do you at least have some painkillers or something?"


Chaos, chaos!

Roll #1 46 = 46


"For what it is worth, I have 600 bits. I could cover part of it." he remarks, before offering a short bow to the butterfly.

"Alder, of tribe Frostclaw. It seems like many of the islands have rather awful rulers. Why did they introduce such harsh taxes?"


She sets her jaw. "I understand. As a matter of fact, it is the upcoming expedition that drove us to seek out this island in the first place, until… well, this happened. A pity that you cannot do anything to help us," she says with a slightly cold tone.


"Bee Holder isn't the only Ribcage native among the crews," Godot says, putting his sunglasses back up. "I told you that my time to leave will come eventually, though it hasn't, not just yet. When it does, though, I want you to understand. Don't want anyone coming after me to drag me back with tears in their eyes, you know. Nor do I want that giraffe you've always got hanging around in your shadow to come after me."

As you gripe about pain, Sickly Sweet clicks his tongue, and fishes around in one of his bags. He pulls out a small pill-box, providing you with a couple of soft-looking orange pills, which look like candy or beads. Chiu gently raises you up, and provides a canteen for you to wash them down with.

"That's kind of you, Alder, but 600 is a far cry from 12,500," Sickly Sweet grumbles. "Absolute robbery, and I'm kicking myself for not sticking with the medical school over here. Perhaps if I got some new tools, though… nah, it'd be too risky."

"If you asked any of their representatives, you'd just get some kind of automated response, as if you were talking to a clockwork or magitech automaton," Dorado says. "Some bullshit about it being for the good of Agyl Island, feeding the poor, keeping the roads maintained, or whatnot. That's all nonsense. House Maize is just trying to fund their little Black Market war with the Oroshi Company and Vishaka Company. They're these two merchant companies that have moved into our waters recently and have been undercutting House Maize's business deals by offering some seriously good prices on their own, competitor wares. Most of it is knockoffs, but who cares? Cheap goods are cheap goods. Word is that House Maize has been hiring pirates to take out Oroshi and Vishaka ships with the tax funds."

Dorado clicks his tongue. "Tough, but that's life, and then you die. Come on back when you've got the money, and I can guarantee you that there will be no complications in the procedure. You could go to any of the back-alley street doctors around here, but then your friend here would wake up with five fewer organs and a hell of a lot of infections."

Following the town's directions, you head for First Street, which is west, inland from the dock. Strutting through the town, you behold a street market, one that is full of the rich, fatty smells of fried fish and breads, and of course many types of candied fruits and sugar breads too. As you head through the market, your ears pick up on an expert guitar strumming.


As you zero in on the source of the sound, you see a Beetleband, a group of four clockwork beetles, strumming away at a classic tune. Nearby, a figure sits in shadow, within an aquarium, which is partially obscured in shadow. Passerby toss coins into the aquarium, and as you do, you see the figure swim about within.




"I, of course, respect your freedom," Cutlass says in a serious tone. "But, I don't see why you'd have to leave. What aren't you telling me?"


As you skim the catalog, you see a magitech monitor provide descriptions for each procedure. "Body Part Enhancement" is an augmentation of any single body part, enhancing its capabilities far beyond their natural ones, such as providing super strength, or camoflauge capabilities, and so on. "New Limb Installation" consists of grafting fresh limbs onto one's body, such as a set of third and fourth arms, or a third eye, or another tail. The "Fresh Skin Procedure" completely changes your appearance, and can even change your ethnicity or race, such as from pegasus to unicorn or pony to minotaur. Finally, "Replacement Installation" consists of replacing damaged or severed body parts with new ones.


Her tail lightly slaps the ground as she full-stopped and listened to the little band. When they stop, she claps and tosses 10 bits into the tank.
"Aww, they're as cute as the ones I have. Also what song was that? I don't think I've heard that one before."


Cloud says to Sickly Sweet for the pills, and Chiu as she helps him up. Cloud tosses a few pills back, then takes a swig from the canteen to wash them down.

Cloud looks through the catalog with odd curiosity at such procedures being available for just the right amount of bits. The idea of it doesn't sit too right with him. The Fresh Skin Procedure makes him shudder, the idea of changing your entire self giving a very gruesome mental image.
"So… what kind of eyes do you have?"
Cloud asks Dorado, weighing his options.


Not all of us have to die, she thinks to herself. "That sounds less than optimal. We shall return once we have the money. If we survive that long."

She waits for everyone else to finish up, entertaining herself a while by watching the bouncing cocoon on the screen, waiting for it to hit the corner.

"So," she asks, addressing them once their business at the skin shop is conducted. "What is the plan then? We hardly have enough to cover even a quarter portion of the surgery. This is a dire predicament, to say the least."


"Hrm.. definitely a problem. It seems like most of the politics here seem confusing." the griffon remarks, rubbing his head.

"Look for jobs? I am sure we could find at least a few well-paying jobs, if we look."


"I have 1500 bits myself, still not enough even for the basic clean-up, but you guys shouldn't have to toss all your cash down just for me. I can figure something out."


Oh boy, here we fucking go

Roll #1 40 = 40


"There are a good deal many people out there, not just the Gates of Justice, who would like to see my head mounted on a wall. I have many enemies, and sticking around with your crew would make them your enemies too. These aren't the run of the mill pirates or dime-a-dozen thugs. Some of these monsters could pick up the toughest agent the Gates of Justice could offer and snap him in half. That's a fate I'd rather not bring down on the rest of you. Besides, there's an island out there that I must return to. Is that enough information, Captain?"

"Righteous. It's an old classic, from a far-off desert island," a voice growls via electroreception in the tank. As you step forward to toss in your coins, you see tough-looking dolphin in the tank, one that is badly scarred and vicious-looking, but oddly youthful as well. His body also shows sign of modifications, as you see a set of shark's teeth in his jaw, and a shark's keen eyes too.

He grins as you get close, showing off his teeth. "Thaaaaanks, brah. Care to have yours come out? Perhaps they can play as a group."

"Oh, I'm an org. An organic, that is. That means someone who hasn't had any body modifications. It's a luxury service on some islands, so organs, flesh, bones, it's all in high demand out there among the nobility and royals of the Ribage. I could never afford modifying myself, and even if wanted to, I wouldn't trust a skinweaver to operate on me. I know how crooked most of them are. Most of 'em would take a kidney here or there to make some money on the side. Not me, though. I'm clean. Heheheh."

The cocoon very nearly comes close to hitting the corner pocket, but it fails to, instead bouncing just a hairsbreadth short.

After your business is concluded, you head outside, where you see Cutlass talking with a pegasus you've never seen before, who's wearing Godot's clothing.
"I agree with Alder," Sickly Sweet says. "A place this big has to have quite a lot of work we could pick up."
"What about that expedition Thessaly mentioned?" Chiu asks.
"Mmm, that's not for a week, right?" Paraiba asks. "I'm not sure about that, but we should follow up and figure out, 'cause that could be useful."
Chiu sighs. "It's Cloud's eye. Cloud, what do you think? We could at least invest in an eyepatch with the money we have."


>Before you leave
Dorado then blinks. "Oh, you meant the ones I have in stock."


He goes to the back of the shop, pulling up a curtain. Behind a thick plexiglass screen, you see a most horrendous sight. A wall full of jars full of viscous fluid, containing eyeballs of every color imaginable, many with stalks still attached to them. They've been harvested, it seems, from every species imaginable, as there are bug eyes, pony eyes and fish eyes up for sale. There also appear to be a quantity of animal eyes among them. Besides them are a quantity of fresh skins, bones, and even organs, each with a price tag on them.

"I pride myself on being able to cater to a variety of fashions, needs and even custom orders," Dorado says casually. "Whatever you're looking for, I've either got in stock or could get in a week."

Sickly Sweet's face turns white as he beholds this, and he swallows hard, clenching his teeth. "We need to go, Cloud," he whispers.


Cerulean sees that its a dolphin, and while she doesn't get immediately hostile, her smile kind of fades a bit.
"Yeah, sure. Though I only got them recently, so I don't have that many songs for them," she says and takes hers out, setting up up to be ready to play.
"So…I notice you've got some…interesting bits on you."


The cocoon failing to hit the corner ruins her day immeasurably.

"I would imagine the majority of the costs will come from the expedition. Taking odd jobs seems rather… menial, but if there is no other option, I will do what I can. I used to be a courier. Small time work is not beneath me."

"I only have 320. Barely a pittance. I will do what I can to restore your lost eye. You have my word of that. If only I had learned skintaking like others on the Skerry, I would be able to fix you myself."

She furrows her brow as she sees the strange pegasus dressed like Godot, giving Cutlass a questioning look.


After the group heads out of the store, more than a little spooked by the wall of flesh and organs. He takes a few moments to try and relax, before speaking up with "Y-Yes. Perhaps find some sort of temporary replacement. Is there no way we could use some sort of magic to restore it?"

Regardless, he tries to take a look for some sort of posting board… and spots Cerulean!
"Hello, Miss Cerulean! What have you been up to?"


Despite Dorado saying he's clean, Cloud is unsettled by that opinion.

Cloud stares at the wall like a deer in headlights, going pale at seeing the vast amount of floating eyes, organs, and even skin all displayed like a grocery store. His mouth hangs open, unable to respond to Dorado's casual comment.

He nods at Sickly in agreement.

Cloud feels less ill as they all go outside, laying back in his stretcher as this trip resulted in only more bad news.
"At the very least I have to get this cleaned… So that's five-thousand bits."
He sighs.
"I don't know what to do. My eyes are special, they make up all my charm. But we only have so many bits cause we raided a whole island that was torn up, how would we even get that 12 thousand to fix it? And I'm definitely not taking one of those eyes he's got in stock already."
Cloud says with a shudder.
"…What work can I even do? Should I even be moving around with what happened?"

"Thanks Thessaly."
Cloud says, before pausing at her comment.

"A spell really would make this all easy…"



Cutlass scoffs. "Leaving me to protect me? Well, I'm honored. Usually, people leave me for selfish reasons. But, that's really unnecessary. If I want to get my aura stronger, I'll need to face strong enemies. It sounds to me like having you around is a blessing."

"As for this island, that's your business. But, maybe we can go there together."


"Yes?" Cutlass catches a glimpse of Thessaly's look.


Cutlass lets out a long sigh. "I only caught the beginning of that conversation… How much money do you need…?" she asks, sounding as if she has to do some chore.


"He said it's 12500 if I want my eye fixed up good as new. Otherwise it's 5000 to remove it, then 4000 for a new eye, or 2000 for a fake one."
Cloud lists off with despair at further bills.


"There has to be some sort of magic to make it happen, I-I just would not know where to look."



Cutlass sighs. "Well, I can at least cover the removal."


Aimed towards Cutlass, sorry


"I know there's some really good healing magic in places, but I don't know if there'd be any of that here since this place still has business. Or it might be even more costly…"

"Y-You can?"
Cloud says in surprise as it sounds like she has the money, shuffling in his stretcher.
"No, no. I don't want you guys throwing all your cash away."


"A very old branch of magic," she answers. "Macabre even by my standards, but very powerful. I'm sure you do not want to know the details."

"Who is that?" she asks bluntly, eyeing not Godot with great suspicion.



"Godot, apparently. He apparently has… a history here. Honestly, I haven't even asked how he's changed his appearance."


"Don't get me wrong," Cutlass says, getting in Cloud's face and poking him not-so-softly in the chest. "You'd owe me BIG for this. But, that's nothing new for you, right?" she says with a sly grin.


"I-Is it possible to learn? Maybe I could attempt to. My mixtures are not really the same magic, but perhaps I could learn. O-Or, some sort of Aura?"


The dolphin scoffs. "Ch'yeah, the waters are mad harsh. There's lots of dangers out there when you're a pirate hunter. Sometimes you gotta get yourself repaired, just like how a pirate crew would repair their ship. 'Course, it never made any difference to me when I swim up on 'em and knock it all to splinters and rubble! Hawhawhawhaw!"

The dolphin's Beetlebands strut forward, and you notice they're a good bit bigger than your own. They've also been modified to look like dolphins, and have little trunks and surfboards made for them too. The lead one comes forward, holding out a song pack for you. "Here's one I'm keen of," the dolphin continues. "Oh, by the way, what's your name?"

"When we get to my island, then I will take my leave," Godot repeats, with an ambigous expression. He then smirks. "Though, I suppose you are the type to take on the biggest danger in the room, with or without me being there. I appreciate it, Captain."

"I'd really rather not lose your eye," Chiu says to Cloud, then grimaces. "Think he'd put it in a doggy bag for us if we paid for an excavation?"

"The Good Doctor, at your service," Godot says with a hint of sarcasm. "Your friend Paraiba here was kind enough to give me a disguise a few days ago."

"That Dorado did mention there'd be street docs out here, and while I don't want to take that chance, it'd be a lot cheaper…" Sickly Sweet mutters.
"I hate to put it bluntly, but at this price, we might have to give up on fixing his real eye in a timely manner," Paraiba says. "And if the organ's dead or severely damaged, wouldn't it be bad to leave in there?"
"We could scrounge together enough for that replacement, and we even have one here," Chiu adds.


"Y-Yea, I think by that name along I got the picture."

"I don't know. It must be hard since hospitals are still everywhere."
Cloud answers unsuredly.
"Hey, I didn't think of Aura. Somepony has to have some aura healing, right?"

Cloud looks a bit uncomfortable as Cutlass gets in his face, though likely from being cautious with his injury and lack of movement.
"H-Hey, watch it, I'm still a little sore."
He says to the poke.
"Look, really, you don't need to pay. I wouldn't feel right taking that many bits."

"Would… Would that work?"
Cloud says in disbelief to Chiu.
"I mean, that'd be good to make it savable in the future. Be a bit gross though…"

"Yea… This guy looked professional at least, and I still feel a bit sick. I don't want to try going into some alley. I've seen plenty to not trust any sort of service from those."
Cloud comments after Sickly.


"That was a joke," Chiu deadpans. "I was trying to lighten the mood, like Cutlass did earlier? Although… he did have a lot of jars back there. We'd probably have to keep it in cold storage, though…"


"I… see." She gives Godot a slightly suspicious look, but doesn't pry.

"If we have the money, we should at least see about cleaning it. An injury like this can get infected very easily. The last thing we need is an outbreak of some horrible disease."


Cloud says flatly.
"Sorry, still trying to get everything pieced together today."


"I suppose you are right, then. It may be something rather difficult to achieve."

"I got most of what I could, but having a second set of eyes could be rather nice."



"Worse-case scenario, we could always get a glass eye," Cutlass says waving a dismissive hoof. "It'll make him look like a proper pirate anyway."


Cutlass alright laughs at Cloud. "You wouldn't feel right taking money? Are you a pirate or not? Or, is this about owing me?" she asks with a sly grin.


"For someone so old, you aren't very curious," Cutlass observes.


"Yeah, I guess that would make some sense. Lots of nasty things out there that wanna take a bite out of me as much as I'd bite them," she comments, rubbing on of her more fresher scars.

She blinks a bit before taking it, finding herself smiling a bit. Even if they did look like dolphins, they were still small and kinda cute.
"Cerulean. And yours?"


"Somepony out there must know something like it though."

"W-Well, I… I'm, not used to a lot of ponies jumping to help me out like this."
Cloud admits, in a rather low voice.


"My business is my own," she answers curtly. "As is his. It is not proper to stick one's nose in another's private affairs."


Sickly Sweet grimaces, gritting his teeth. "Damn it! I hate being shaken down like this. A crewmate shouldn't have to rely on anyone but their own doctor for things like this. Sorry Cloud, but next time something like this happens, you'll be able to count on me to stitch you back up, I promise."
"Setting that aside, Thessaly's right," Paraiba says. "It'd get infected easily just leaving it in there. Sorry, but… we should get the old one out of there. The sooner that's taken care of, the sooner you'll be back on your hooves. Otherwise, you're just in more danger."

"Kahuan," the dolphin says. As you take the song pack, his beetlebands start to play, tuning their instruments and swapping out a few. As they noddle about on their songs, they play bits and pieces of a very surf rock atmosphere.

>You've gained access to Song Pack 2, containing the above album. If you wish to engage in a battle of the bands with Kahuan here, you can pick a song to be your battle tune. Or, compose your own.


>Adding on more to your reply

"Well without further ado, let's get this fight goin'!" he eagerly barks, swimming about in serpentine patterns in his tank, grinning with eager anticipation. True to his word, it looks like he's looking on with expectations for a real battle than a group performance.



"Doesn't that get boring, though?" Cutlass asks, prying into Thessaly's business. "At some point, you have to have gotten bored of just surface-level interactions, right?"


"Good," Cutlass smiles. "That means you've never needed help before. But, now you do. Soooo…?"


"Oh, and look at that," Cutlass says with a grin. "You NEED to get it taken out. And, I'm the only one who can pay for it. Hmmm," she says coyly, but with victory written all over her face.


"None of us expected this to happen, don't be hard on yourself Sickly."
Cloud says at seeing him grimace.
"Let's aim for something like this not happening again."

"Well, no. I've freeloaded plenty before, but not off ponies I care about like friends."
Cloud again admits in a low tone.

With Paraiba bringing up infection and Cutlass pushing, Cloud sighs.
"Ok, fine. I can't fight against infections, so… can you help me Cutlass?"


"Is there any way that the two of us could work at removing it, Mister Sickly? Or is something like that beyond you?" he asks, frowning a little.

"I-I would hate for you to have to spend your hard-earned money on this, but we may need to."


She digs around and pulls out her meager coinpurse. "It is not much, but it will cover some of the cost."

…That reminds me." She seems hesitant to speak, but voices her idea. "I… I consulted that book I found in the shipwreck. It provides instructions on… summoning certain demons. I believe one of them may be able to restore Cloud's eye, but… I fear it may not come without cost. We are speaking of dealing with demons, after all. If everyone is on board, we may perform an invocation rite."

"Others do not concern me," she responds with a slightly biting tone. "You are only mortal, after all."


"Wait, fight, what?" She slightly wonders what she had just gotten herself into, but decides o go along with it and picking a song that sounds kind of familiar to the song pack she just got.



Cloud glances over as Thessaly suggests her summoning.
"I think I'd rather trust a back-alley doctor over a demon for this."



Cutlass grins. "Aw, does that mean you care about me?" she asks in a half-sarcastic tone.


"Well of course I'll help you, Cloud," she says in the same sort of half-sarcastic tone. "But, don't forget that you owe me."


"Oh, I'm certain you'll all find some way to pay me back," she says with a coy smile.


"I don't like demons," Cutlass says flatly.


"Again, that sounds like it would make life very boring. Even I like interacting with others. It makes life an adventure. And like any adventure, it has ups and downs."


"I could remove it, but with my current set of tools, it'd be risky. As sleazy as Dorado was, and as overpriced as his services are, his setup was much more professional than just what a pirate's surgeon could do," Sickly Sweet confirms. "So unless Cloud says otherwise, I'd frankly feel more comfortable with Dorado in control."

Your companions stiffen up as you talk about summoning a demon to restore Cloud's eye instead. "A demon?" Paraiba asks in a low, skeptical voice. "Since when can you do that?"
"I dunno about that," Chiu says. "Are you sure you can control it? And what would it ask of you, or all of us, in exchange?"

You hastily teach a similar song to your beetlebands, and they take the lead, sight-reading (ear-reading?) with some difficulty as you hum and tap the music. Kahuan and his beetlebands seem a bit thrown off, but they soon pick up, Kahuan humming the song back to his own. As they start to play, you note that the soundwaves that his beetlebands give off have force and weight to them, pushing back your own beetles!


Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3


"About as much as you can care about an uppity captain."
Cloud says, a bit of his classic jesting tone back.

"Totally. …Uh, in money, or help?"
Cloud asks, unsure how Cutlass will take 'owing' her.

"Well Cutlass is covering it, so I'll go with Dorado. Let's get back in there and gets this dealt with."
Cloud says, feeling a bit better that they have a good goal set now.


Cerulean looks legitimately surprised by this turn of events, and as it gets to the trumpet solo, she cheers the trumpet beetle on. Considering all the whacky things in the Ribcage thus far, she figured getting into it and believing in the little clockwork beetles would make them do a similar effect…or some other kind of Ribcage voodoo.


Roll #1 8 = 8


"D-Do you enjoy sounding ominous, Miss Cutlass? I-I certainly do not." he mumbles, tapping his talons together.

"Hrm… I suppose I can not blame you. Most of what I have serves different purposes, and I have no surgeon training aside from that. G-Goodness, who knew this would be so difficult…"

"A-Are you sure? I would hate to see you further in debt."


She nods. "Lying is as easy as breathing for their kind. I am merely presenting an option, risky as it may be."

"I do not like others," she replies, sounding rather icy. "We will have to agree to disagree."

"Since the last dive," she answers Paraiba.

"Luckily, the book says that she is a compassionate demon, and slow to anger. Of the three I can read thus far, she seems like the least dangerous, potentially."


"I'm sure. It's not like I'm in debt to another genie or some other terrible thing, it's just to Cutlass. …R-Right?"
Cloud says,possibly regretting this decision.

"Maybe for something less intense we could try them."



"Let me put it this way," Cutlass says, daintily putting her hoof to her chin in thought. "If you don't repay me in money, you may find the exchange rate between favors and money to be… hard to figure out. But, it's certainly an option," she says with a bit of excitement in her tone.


"Yes," she says bluntly. "What kind of pirate would I be if I weren't at least a little threatening? And, I obviously am not built to be physically imposing," she says, gesturing to her petite build.


"I didn't say I like people. I said I enjoy interacting with them. That's an important distinction."


Cloud's face drops as Cutlass speaks with excitement on his debt.
"There'll be a grace period at least while I recover, right?"


Your beetlebands hold fast under the onslaught of energy, and as their playing intensifies, Kahuan's beetlebands are actually themselves pushed back, getting a few notes wrong here and there. However, they keep up the beat, advancing forward as they try to keep the pressure up against yours! Kahuan snarls at them, glaring at them from behind as the battle of the bands continues.


After hearing Cloud's opposition to summoning the demon for his aid, Chiu sighs, turning to Thessaly. "Thanks, but we'll have to pass this time. Like he said, Cloud's already got himself in debt to a genie, and now to Cutlass. Bringing a demon, even if she is compassionate, is a big risk. But, if and when we need another injury taken care of, we can keep her in mind. I'm sure we'll need it during the expedition."
"Well… if we're all in agreement…" Sickly Sweet says grimly. Hearing Cloud's commitment to removing his destroyed eye, he sighs, hefts the stretcher on his shoulder, and heads back inside.


Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9



"Oh, as long as it takes," Cutlass says, waving a dismissive hoof. "I'll let you know if I start getting impatient. But, you seem like you're good for it."



Cutlass blinks after she answers Alder's question. "Why do you call me 'miss' all the time?" she asks, curiosity suddenly getting the better of her.


"Hmm? O-Oh, do you not like that? I have always tried to be rather polite, and both of my mentors said it was rather important. I-Is it a bad thing to do?" he asks, scratching at his neck nervously.



"I-I mean, it's nice, I guess," she says, now scratching her own neck awkwardly. "But, no one's called me 'miss' before. Captain is usually the go-to thing people use when they want to show me respect. I mean, I'm only 16. No one usually thinks to call me something so… adult…"


"You are only 16? I-I did not know, honestly. You seemed rather experienced, so I assumed you were likely older. Regardless, I would not see a reason to not use it. Sixteen is still adulthood, yes? Or are things… different, here?"



"I come off as older?" Cutlass responds with an awkward grin. "I wonder if the others also think I'm older… I guess fail enough times and you start learning enough to make yourself seem experienced…"

"What about you? How old are you?"


"Yes! Y-You are rather intimidating, b-but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I would be 19, I believe. I set out from home when I was 16, myself." he explains, before cocking his head to the side "Failure is a part of life, I suppose. You seem to be a rather good captain, at the least." he offers, smiling a little bit.



"Well," Cutlass smiles. "Like I said, I have to be since I'm not physically intimidating. I tried being nicer with my first few crews. They just ditched me and took all my stuff… Of course, being a 14 year old girl doesn't exactly inspire anyone, either."

"Still, I learned a lot from all that failure. Now, I guess I'm a good captain," she shrugs. "Hey," she adds with a smile. "If you want to join the superior crew, I'd gladly accept you!"

"Y-you know… not that I like you or anything. Y-you just seem useful…" she trails off awkwardly.


"They took all of your possessions? G-Goodness, I am sorry to hear that. I understand how that sort of thing can be. I-I was rather, ehm… naive, when I first left home. Of the things I brought with me, I have little more aside from my necklace, and my tattoos." the griffon comments, lifting his necklace out of his bundled-up scarf. It's shaped much like a talon, with a rounded tip and carvings similar to the griffon's tattoos.

"Join your crew? G-Goodness, that is a very nice offer. I feel nervous about leaving, though. I wish we were not in two ships, so I could get to know you and some of the others better."



"O-oh, there's really nothing to get to know about me," Cutlass says, blushing as she plays with her mane awkwardly.


"I am certain that is not the case. You ponies have all been so interesting." he offers, letting out a nervous little chirp.


Last time on PirateQuest…

The party was preoccupied with the thought of what to do about Cloud's destroyed eye. They brought him to the Freshborn Skinshop, a grotesque body part modification shop, where they'd hoped to have it restored to full function. When they got there, however, they found that the prices were far and beyond out of their price range, owing both to the expensive nature of surgery and to the exorbitantly high taxes put on the shop by the so-called 'Maize House', a governing body which manages Agyl Island's mercantile affairs. [Note: Maize House and House Maize are interchangable terms, and may be found here or there as a matter of the speaker's preference.]

Eventually, they settled on pooling up funds to have Cloud's eye removed and replaced with Cerulean's necklace, the Eye of Wisdom, as fixing the original eye would be too costly, and leaving it in there would just invite infection and disease to take root.

Meanwhile, Cerulean explored the city for a time on her own, picking up a few leads for jobs that the party can take during their time here as a way of making money. She found two listings for monster-hunter work, consisting of some pest control: the first concerned a rampaging qurupeco in the forest to the north (500 Bits reward), and the second, a bounty on a school of ramphant kalphites harassing the ostritch farmers in the nearby desert (900 Bits). She also found a lead for a conventional bounty hunt against someone named the Good Doctor, a reviled criminal involved in trafficking and organ-trading rings, much wanted with a bounty of 8000 Bits. He was described only as a griffon who had gone out to sea. Unbeknownst to her, Doctor Godot addressed himself by that very title around that same time to Thessaly and Cutlass.


Your beetlebands hold fast under the onslaught of energy, and as their playing intensifies, Kahuan's beetlebands are actually themselves pushed back, getting a few notes wrong here and there. However, they keep up the beat, advancing forward as they try to keep the pressure up against yours! Kahuan snarls at them, glaring at them from behind as the battle of the bands continues.

[1d10+2: 9]

>Thessaly, Cloud, Cutlass

After hearing Cloud's opposition to summoning the demon for his aid, Chiu sighs, turning to Thessaly. "Thanks, but we'll have to pass this time. Like he said, Cloud's already got himself in debt to a genie, and now to Cutlass. Bringing a demon, even if she is compassionate, is a big risk. But, if and when we need another injury taken care of, we can keep her in mind. I'm sure we'll need it during the expedition."
"Well… if we're all in agreement…" Sickly Sweet says grimly. Hearing Cloud's commitment to removing his destroyed eye, he sighs, hefts the stretcher on his shoulder, and heads back inside.

As the party enters once more, Dorado looks back up, setting aside the newspaper's comic section with a grim smile, his proboscis coiling in and out at the sight of Cloud. Sickly Sweet glares him down, but this deters Dorado none. "Well, well! Found some money burning a holy in your pocket, I take it?" Dorado slimily asks.



"Yea, yea, we're back. Chit chat aside, I have a question."
Cloud says as he's carried back in, still a bit unnerved by that proboscis.
"Since you have everything jarred up back there… Could it be possible for you to do that with my eye so I could get it fixed in the future?"


"Sure, but those don't come for free," Dorado explains. He heads back to the side of the shop, unlocks a cabinet, then pulls out a spare, small container, then plops it onto the counter. "They're a new magitech flesh preserving technology, keeping the body part and the fluid inside safe and clean of contaminants. Ordinarily I don't get customers trying to keep their old limbs alive – usually they trade those in to me for a discount on their new body part – so I don't usually sell them. In this case, though, I'd let an eye-sized one go for 200 Bits."
Sickly Sweet mumbles something about fucking robbery under his breath, then reaches into his pocket, tossing a sizeable bag of coins at your side on the stretcher. Inside, you find 100 Bits.


"I'd like to keep my eye, thank you very much."
Cloud looks over as Sickly tossed him some bits.
Cloud takes 100 bits out of his own, putting them in the bag and tossing it to the counter.
"So all those bits you have there are donations then?"


"Most of them," Dorado says, letting a silence hang out for a moment before continuing. "A lot of them end up getting traded in. I buy others off doctors and bounty hunters on the Black Market. It's a fierce industry, lots of competition! You'd be surprised just how many collectors out there want items like these for themselves. Fortunately, most collectors are after specific parts from specific people or races. Ears belonging to serial killers, disfigured organs and appendages, skins with unique scarring or tattoos on them, so on and so forth. I don't deal in that. What ends up here is slop from common stock; people that wash up after a shipwreck or are left behind after a pirate raid or something."

Chiu's ears flatten and her eyes shut, looking quite annoyed that you asked.


Cerulean keeps leading the beat for her band, grinning a bit as she's sort of enjoying this now. She didn't quite know what this was, but it was pretty nice.


Roll #1 8 = 8


As you cheer on your Beetlebands, you observe a great deal of yellow Aura building up around Kahuan's band, seemingly propelled onward by their rapid and intense playing. They get closer, shredding away at their instruments, making a raucous sound that pushes their Aura onto your Beetlebands. Your beetles keep playing skillfully, but you notice that they start to look hurt by the pressure of the Aura. Kahuan grins toothily, taking glee in the sight as the music reaches the climax.


Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10


Cerulean gets distracted by the aura, her tapping becoming messed up.
"Wait, these little guys can use aura too?!"


Roll #1 4 = 4


Cloud sickens a bit as Dorado explains where his stock comes from, feeling a small amount of relief as the doctor says that collected parts are of specific ponies, rather than a general race collection.
("One of you is going to make sure he doesn't try to mess with anything else, right?")
Cloud whispers with caution to the party.

He says as Chiu reacts poorly.


Kahuan simply smirks your way, revealing a glimmering of yellow Aura in his plundered eyes. The Aura surrounding his Beetlebands grows and darkens, becoming dense and strong, and it pushes in a wave at your band, knocking them off their little clockwork feet and throwing them backward in the dirt toward you. Kahuan's Beetlebands stop playing, swaggering about as they look down with plain pantomimed contempt for your own beetles as they lay before you, hurt but not broken.

Kahuan guffaws heartily, swimming about in his aquarium. "Ooooooh! Hope they didn't break a string or lose a pick with all that! You should hit up whoever made those, they're clearly a faulty product."

Chiu and Sweet nod furtively, looking at Dorado with active distrust now in addition to the scorn they had for him before.
Dorado snickers, tapping the counter top. "Ah, forgive me, we've gotten off track. So you're going through with the surgery, I presume? I'd certainly hope you're not going to have someone ELSE take out the eye for cheaper. You could get hurt that way!"


"Yea, we're going through with it."
Cloud says, pulling out the rest of his 1400 bits to put on the counter.
"Take out the eye, put it in that container we just bought to save it, and then put this in for the replacement."
Cloud instructs, putting the Eye of Wisdom on the counter.


"Hey, they're not defective! They obviously weren't ready for a fight!" She goes over and gently picks them up, petting them on the head since they did try their best for being unprepared.
"I thought you said they were gonna play together, not fight."


Kahuan scoffs. "And that they did," he insists, turning up his nose. "Trust me, that wasn't even close to a fight."

As you pick up your Beetlebands, his smug contempt turns to annoyance. Your Beetlebands dust themselves off, showing minor chipping and scrapes here and there from the wear of the Aura and from getting knocked down, but they don't look badly injured. They glare at the opposing Band, who scoff and start climbing up the glass of Kahuan's aquarium tank, in order to hop into the water. Kahuan rolls his tank forward, and you see that it's raised up on a set of wheels. The wheels are surrounded with a bit of Aura, presumably the means by which he moves and steers his aquatic transport. Kahuan then shakes his head. "Anyway, no harm no foul on the Beetlebands, right? They're just toys. I'm more interested in where you're headed today. Got plans? Caught you looking at the job board earlier."


"Yeah, I wa-wait, what do ya mean interested?" She eyes him warily now, her sharky instincts getting some serious creeper vibes now.
"Are you trying to stalk me or something? Cause you're a little too open and out in the open for it to really work."


Kahuan swims around in his aquarium, making a circle around you to inspect you. "Nah, brah. But I am a pirate hunter, and lots of pirates do end up in these waters. Well, not so much anymore, what with all the Beast-Storms lately; those storms usually end up taking out most ships that come through these waters. Still, we've had lots of pirate crews terrorizing the waves lately. After hearing what happened to Kaco Island just recently, I can't be too careful."

He then scoots away, offering you a smile dripping with a tacky layer of friendliness. "I just want good, honest folks like you to stay safe out there! Wouldn't want you getting in trouble with any pirates, would we?"


>Brief side session with Thessaly and Cloud

Cloud, having decided to go through with the surgery, put forward 1,400 Bits, leaving the rest of the party to pick up the tab of 5,600 Bits. If Thessaly wants to contribute some money, that's her decision.

>and Thessaly
Dorado takes up the money from its various sources. Chiu and the various mooks accompanying your group take out some money, scraping together another 600 to help pay the cost, which brings it down to a flat 5,000 – presumably to be taken care of with Cutlass' portion.
After counting the money and finding it satisfactory, Dorado nods. "Step into my office, good sir, or have your friends carry you if you still feel like laying there. This procedure will take about two hours, and for the recovery period, I recommend you don't move or distress yourself for the rest of the day. The rest of youse are welcome to wait in the lobby if you want, or if you don't feel like wasting daylight, you can leave your Conch Code with me and I'll call you when he's ready for pickup."



She nods in understanding, turning to Cloud.

"What would you have me do?" she asks bluntly. "I am content to wait for you here if you would like. Otherwise, I shall see about exploring, and perhaps securing extra payment."


"Thanks guys."
Cloud says as everypony puts in the remaining change, touched as they all come to his aid.
"Don't move? Am I suppose to just lie in here the rest of the day? …What would happen if I do?"
He asks with some worry.

"You don't need to wait here, two hours is a pretty long time, especially in this kind of place."
Cloud says.
"But thanks for asking."


Chiu rubs her forehead. "I'll be staying here, so don't worry about it Thessaly."
Sickly Sweet nods. "I'm going to be here as well to make sure the procedure goes smoothly, so the rest of you are free." He directs his hoof at the mooks who helped carry in Cloud. "Let the Captain know what's happening, then go do as she says. We've got it from here."

Dorado shakes his head at Cloud. "No, no no. Once the actual procedure's done, I'm kicking you out onto the street! Doesn't matter to me where you go, but I can't have a table full all day. Does this look like an inn to you?"
"We'll take you back to your cabin," Chiu says, glaring death at Dorado.

Reluctantly, some of the mooks start to depart, as per Sweet's orders.


"Understood. I wish you the best of luck, Cloud." Trying to hide her disdain for Dorado's attitude, she shares her Conch Code with him and heads out to explore Agyl.


"Thanks. And have fun out there Thessaly."

Cloud sighs in relief as Sickly says he'll stay and watch, feeling better than he's not going to be missing any other parts after waking up.
"You know, for once I'm not looking forward to laying about all day," He grumbles, "Okay, let's get this started."
He says, ready to be carried into the operating room.


You exit the shop again, struck by a sudden cool breeze that helps to chase away the atmosphere of the skinshop, which somehow manages to be cold and hot, all while sticky and greasy and vile. As you behold the area, you note the busy people going about their business, most of them being of the Krikral race, some quite small and others quite big. They hustle and bustle about you, filling the air with chatter and music. Again you see their many mounts and beasts of burden, including dogs and ponies and, most commonly, tall, fluffy-plumed ostritches and emus.

The town is structured almost like an outdoor theater; centered around the dock, built upon a hill, and layered in many colossal steps, upon which the many colorful adobe buildings have been stacked in close proximity to one another. Many colorful kites fill the skies, enjoying a grand flight in the morning breeze. The city is bursting with color, shops and bug-people, in short.

At the docks proper, you see again the massive town billboard, and it looks like it could help you get your bearings in this highly energetic city. You also see various members of the crews among the crowd, having dispersed to get their bearings just as you have.

Sweet and Chiu lift you up onto their shoulders, following Dorado down a hallway on the right side of the lobby. He leads you two past several shut doors, behind which you hear the clicking and clattering of medical procedures, as well as goopy, fleshy sounds. He rounds the corner and eventually finds an open room for use. The room is cramped, the shelves and cabinets stocked with vials of chemicals and various arcane-looking tools. Instead of an operating table, there is a very large and fresh green cocoon laying in the middle of the floor. "You can just go ahead and scrape him into there," Dorado says.

Sweet and Chiu look apalled at the setup, but after some trepidation comply, setting down the stretcher to the right. They pick you up and put you in the middle of the cocoon, which has a soft, warm interior. As they do, Dorado hums to himself, sorting through the myriad jars and vials nearby.


She tries to keep her head down. Despite the lively colorfulness of the town, the skinshop has left her with a bad first impression. Surveying the area, she makes her way over to the billboard, suddenly feeling very out of place among the Krikral.


Cloud does his best to ignore the sounds of other work and fleshy squishes, not very well though with his sensitive ears. He keeps his focus up at the ceiling, dread flowing in the more they walk. He finally looks elsewhere as they enter a room, eyeing the cocoon with wariness and shuddering at Dorado's terminology.

As Cloud's back touches the cocoon, he relaxes a bit at the warmth. It feels oddly comforting.
"So, uh, this is what you guys use instead of an operating table?"


[1d10] 👀

Roll #1 3 = 3


The billboard serves as both a directory and a listing for many jobs that need doing immediately – bounties, priority fetch quests, and the like. You see a note on the job board that those who wish to see more opportunities for work should find the Labor Office of the Maize House.

The directory reveals that there are a number of shops open at this hour, many of which, it indicates, it indicates, are licensed with the Maize House, which Dorado mentioned earlier. The following listings catch your eye:

The Honed Edge (Weapons and armor shop)
Freshborn Skinshop (Organs and body modifications)
Beaker Apothecary (Potions and herbs)
Coop's Stoop (Bar and Inn)
Gullveig's Affordable Sorceries (Magic shop)
The Faire Trade (Pawn shop)
Guard's Guild (Bodyguards and hirelings)

As you peruse the listings, you note a bit of ink smudged next to Gullveig's Affordable Sorceries on the map. You can't tell what it's supposed to be.

"Oh, yes, yes. It's much less likely to expose patients to infections, and makes it easier to hold the various parts I'm not using during modifications."

He begins to mix a concoction of chemicals, then closes the cocoon partway, pushing the two ends toward each other until they begin to fuse together with a skin crawling sound. He sticks in a large tarp, which he uses to cover your body up to the neck. "Alright, you comfortable in there? I've got the anesthesia brewed right here. You're not gonna feel a thiiiiiing while I work. Ready?"


The little smudge catches her eye, and she tries to take a closer look to see if she can discern anything about it.
[1d10] Pereption

Regardless of whether she succeeds, she starts heading towards Gullveig's shop. It piques her interest more than any of the others.
[1d10] Navigation

Roll #1 10 = 10 / Roll #2 7 = 7


It occurs to you, as you inspect the ink smudge, that it appears to be a rune marking. You cannot discern what the mark was, as the ink is too smeared, but it has that unmistakable shape that all those who practice the occultic arts recognize and use to signal one another quietly.

You follow the directions toward Gullveig's shop, finding it up on the third level of shops, and tucked indiscriminately between two much larger and rowdier buildings. The shop is further back from the street than either of the buildings to its side, as if the very shop were reclusive and shy. It would be easy to simply miss the shop altogether if one were not looking for it. Other than that, it appears merely inoffensive, forgettable.

As you enter the shop, you hear the dingling of a bell above. The shop is cramped, to say the least, full of shelves that are packed with kitschy knick-knacks and souveniers, every corny cliche that you would find in some tourist trap gift shop – snowglobes seem to be the favorite. Among them are a few magical oddities that look more like gimmicky toys than anything else.

Behind a desk toward the back of the shop, you behold a tall and brilliantly grey old spotted owl, though she is four feet tall, just a hair bigger than most ponies, and has a pair of forearms. She reads a large book and sips at a cup of tea by her side. She looks over your way and raises her glass in greeting. "Good morning," she hoots. "If there is something you're looking for, please let me know."


Cloud tenses a bit as the cocoon starts to close, the sound only making it feel like more of a terrible decision.
Cloud mutters as he's covered up. When Dorado asks if he's ready, Cloud nods.


Dorado stirs the concoction with a large silver ladle, sniffing it then leaning back with a woozy expression. "Oof! Nope, you're definitely not waking up with this in your system. Alright. Have a sip and then tell me about your day."

He ladles up a large spoonfull of the anesthetic, then lowers it into the cocoon, raising it to your lips to consume. After you do, nothing seems to change for a few minutes, but the cocoon becomes noticably more warm and soft and your thoughts start to pile up onto each other in a dizzying array and then the cocoon becomes quite dark and pleasant and before you know it you're zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………


She looks a little let down by the trinkets and baubles on display; she was expecting a more grandiose shop. Still, she feels there is more to this place than meets the eye. "Merely browsing," she says politely to the owl, and takes a closer look at some of the items for sale.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 6 = 6


Cloud gives Dorado a look.
"I think you can tell how my day was."
He groans.

Cloud drinks down the anesthetic, dwelling on the taste. Though as the cocoon warms, Cloud eases up. His body relaxes, sinking into the pod as he feels comfort, like being wrapped up in his wings. His remaining eye starts to close, his vision drifting off in pleasant thoughts before the world fades to black again.


Among the touristy trinkets you see on the shelves, the following catch your eye
>Snowglobe of Manenhi, Agyl Island (this town), 5 Bits
Description: A snowglobe to remember this town by.
>Inkwell, Ink, and Quill Pens (3), 15 Bits
Description: Tools for writing letters. Papyrus not included.
>Papyrus (100 Sheets), 10 Bits
Description: Cheap paper for writing.
>Beeswax Candle and Floating Sconce, 20 Bits
Description: A brass sconce with a simple floating enchantment. Begins to float whent he candle inside has been lit, and sticks close to the one who lit it. Comes with a candle but can work with any candle put inside.
>Glass jar set, 50 Bits
Description: A set of 10 glass jars, enchanted so that their contents will never spoil. Range from small to large.
>Ghost Hunter's Incense, 30 Bits
Description: A jar of incense that, when exposed to air, will fill the area, looking for invisible beings and objects. If there are any in the vicinity, it will curl about the object, identifying it and making it visible.
>Wind Chimes, 10 Bits
Description: Simple metal wind chimes, a pleasant thing to listen to.

Despite all this, the feeling that there is more to be found here doesn't escape you. Gullveig periodically looks up from her book at you, but says nothing.


She doesn't look too impressed with any of it, save for the items which are enchanted. She notices Gullveig looking over at her, and she resolves to purchase the incense. As she moves over to the counter, she traces a certain rune with her hoof, innocuously enough that it could easily be mistaken for a simple gesture. "I do not suppose you have more items such as this in your stock." She looks at Gullveig knowingly.


Gullveig inspects the rune, then examines you with a piercing look, one that is at once dull, yet highly scrutinizing. In a single movement, she sets the book aside then sweeps the dust away with her hand. "We've got certain specialist items in the back," she says vaguely. She heads to the front door, peeks outside, shuts it, and then locks it with a standard-looking black key.

She waits another moment, then pulls from her pocket a curled, flower-shaped key, and inserts it into the front door once more, unlocking it. When she does, the door does not open back out to the street, but into another, wider room, one where the atmosphere is thrilling and resonant with the hum of magic. Like in the main room, the shelves and drawers are packed, but with plainly powerful magic apparati and gizmos, ranging from the standard spellbooks and staves and wands, to more unconventional things like hookahs and arrays of intricately tied strings. There is also an abundance of life in there, such as jars full of spiders, snakes crawling about the shop, and even some birds flying around in cages. Gullveig noticably brightens as she opens up the door, and then smiles at you, gesturing for you to enter. "How rare that I get to show these wares to another! I simply must know where you are from, young miss."


"Tiernan Skerry," she says simply, looking in slightly better spirits as she enters the room. "I believe we two are in a similar business." She tries to hide her curiosity as she looks about the "true" shop, moving from shelf to shelf idly, occasionally picking up things and looking them over inquisitively.
[1d10] Perception

"I must ask, why all the secrecy, Madame Gullveig?" she prods as she looks over a hookah, turning it over with telekinesis. "Are witch hunters active in these parts?"

Roll #1 4 = 4


"Indeed," Gullveig says. "Obnoxious little bastards. They're on the take from Shaka, the mage's guild. Those upstarts have got it into their heads to regulate spellcasting in these waters. Any school of magic they deem outside the proper conventions, they shut down. Which means gals like you and I have to sleep with eyes open and all the wards up that we can manage."

As she prowls into the shop after you, she starts to transform, her feathers turning vast and black, and growing in size, until she threatens to knock over the shelves and drawers. She pecks at the ceiling, and it shudders, then starts to come apart, folding in square pieces until it's all gone back. Now gone, you see an immense skyline above you, deep with knight, yet brilliant with stars that have exploded across the dark. High trees expand over you, ancient and imposing. The now massive Gullveig takes flight, settling on some overhead branches, and has a good long stretch.

As she does this, a humanoid scarecrow wearing knight's armor approaches you, then comes to attention and salutes sharply, clicking his heels together. "Good day, young miss!" he greets, voice echoing through his farmer's hat-shaped metal helmet. "I am the Knight of Crowsbane! Please let me know if there are any matters with which I may assist you!"

All of your senses, especially the magic-sense, are nearly overwhelmed by the dense presence of magic items. The air thrills with magic presence, and sweet herbal scents make the air pleasant, all while the click-click-click and whirring of various magical gizmos play out in the background. You have to slow down to take it all in.

>The Grimoire of Animation, 1000 Bits

Description: A heavy and old spellbook, featuring a moving scarecrow upon its cover. Gives access to the Animation School of magic, a series of spells relating to animating objects.
>Skull Hookah, 350 Bits
Description: A hookah with a basin shaped like a skull. If an item with a sympathetic connection to someone else is put in there, it can be smoked, drawing out information about that person as it relates to the object. Can reveal hidden information, such as the person's abilities, location, memories, plans, and so forth.
>Pocket Spiders, 100 Bits
Description: A jar full of small spiders that can be set to perform any menial task around the house or ship. Mostly for convenience when doing chores. Their specialty is weaving silk rapidly, enabling them to repair clothes, make rope, and generally perform any task requiring some length of silk. Can even fly
>Cloak of Beasts, 150 Bits
Description: A blank cloak. The user can store minions within the cloak, enabling them to be summoned later without having to use a roll. Can store up to three minions. When worn, grants a point of Pet Mastery. Design changes based on the minion stored inside the cloak.
>Bag of Masking, 100 Bits
Description: A cloth bag to be worn over the head, indicated by the eye and mouth holes cut into its surface. Grants access to the Disguise skill, but can only change the head.
>Self-Sacrificing Homunculus, 200 Bits
Description: A homunculus that can absorb curses if it is brought into close proximity with a cursed object or person. Appears to be a blank doll. Its appearance will change based on the curse that it has absorbed. Can transmit accumulated curses into another appropriate vessel. Rumors hold that it might start to get a personality if it holds onto a curse too long…

>More items are available elsewhere in the shop


"I see. I do not suppose it would pay to get rid of them? I, for one, would very much like to see them driven out. Small minded zealots…"

Despite her many, many years, she can't help but marvel at the display, a wide grin appearing on her face. "Ah, I missed this," she breathes as the feeling of magic courses through her. Composing herself, she greets the scarecrow with a formal bow. "I appreciate it. Thank you."

Seeing as she is on a 320 bit budget, she puts aside the incense and eyes the pocket spiders with interest, opting to move on and see what else there is.

"By the by," she comments to Gullveig as she watches the spiders crawl about, "I happen to be searching for work, in addition to shopping. You would not happen to have anything available, would you? Off the books, of course."


"No, without proper provocation, we don't stand to gain much from striking back against them," Gullveig says as she starts to preen her feathers. "People like us are few and far between, and though we utterly eclipse our enemy in sheer strength, they've got the sheer numbers and foolhardy drive to whittle us down into nothing in the event of an all out confrontation. Not to mention, they'd simply level this island if they thought they'd need it to finish us off. No, for now it's simply better to keep rebuilding our shrines and rebinding our wards and icons each time they tear them down."

As you ask for work, Gullveig nods to the scarecrow, who heads back behind a counter, then scrounges up a few notes. "There's always work to be done around here," says the knight. "Do you want something a little more quiet, or more conventional mercenary work? We had an incident with some vandalism the other day, done by some street thugs with a reputation for kicking around the forgotten people – the homeless, the orphans, and so forth. Madame Gullveig would like someone to make an example of them. But, if that's not your style, we're also looking for someone to examine some magical phenomena happening north out of town in the desert. It seems there's some Wild Magic out and about to the north, and we could always use some samples of it for study. Could even drop an Artifact we could sell."



Last time on PirateQuest…

Cloud had decided to go through with the surgery, putting together his money along with donations from Chiu, Sweet, the mooks, and most significantly, Captain Cutlass, in order to pay the 7,000 Bit excavation and replacement installation fee. Dorado informed the party that the procedure would take about two hours to complete, after which Cloud should rest for the remainder of the day aboard his ship. Sweet and Chiu then took Cloud back to the operating room so that they could begin preparing the procedure.

>Note: if you want to say anything to Cloud prior to the surgery, you can say you did so retroactively, replying to >>715934 and >>715942

Thessaly split off from the rest of the group to get some fresh air, then looked around at some of the shops listed on the dockside directory. Having her attention caught by a listing for a sorcery shop, she headed over there. She knew from the presence of a smudged rune on the billboard that the shop, disguised as a kitschy knick-knack shop, secretly dealt in occultic matters. When she indicated her knowledge of such to Gullveig, the shopkeeper and owl-like member of the Vola race, Gullveig opened up a hidden room with a magic key, revealing the shop's true wares, consisting of many odd and magical implements.

Around the same time, Cerulean got into a duel with Kahuan, a pirate-hunting dolphin in a mobile aquarium, powered by Aura. Rather than a conventional battle, however, they engaged in a battle of the beetlebands. Kahuan brazenly supported his with his own Aura, resulting in an outpouring of power that injured Cerulean's. With that concluded, Kahuan then attempted to flirt with Cerulean, fairly unsuccessfully. She still had to go to the Labor Office for her business, following up on the deep sea dive and the bounties she'd seen on the town directory.


Kahuan swims around in his aquarium, making a circle around you to inspect you. "Nah, brah. But I am a pirate hunter, and lots of pirates do end up in these waters. Well, not so much anymore, what with all the Beast-Storms lately; those storms usually end up taking out most ships that come through these waters. Still, we've had lots of pirate crews terrorizing the waves lately. After hearing what happened to Kaco Island just recently, I can't be too careful."

He then scoots away, offering you a smile dripping with a tacky layer of friendliness. "I just want good, honest folks like you to stay safe out there! Wouldn't want you getting in trouble with any pirates, would we?"


"No, without proper provocation, we don't stand to gain much from striking back against them," Gullveig says as she starts to preen her feathers. "People like us are few and far between, and though we utterly eclipse our enemy in sheer strength, they've got the sheer numbers and foolhardy drive to whittle us down into nothing in the event of an all out confrontation. Not to mention, they'd simply level this island if they thought they'd need it to finish us off. No, for now it's simply better to keep rebuilding our shrines and rebinding our wards and icons each time they tear them down."

As you ask for work, Gullveig nods to the scarecrow, who heads back behind a counter, then scrounges up a few notes. "There's always work to be done around here," says the knight. "Do you want something a little more quiet, or more conventional mercenary work? We had an incident with some vandalism the other day, done by some street thugs with a reputation for kicking around the forgotten people – the homeless, the orphans, and so forth. Madame Gullveig would like someone to make an example of them. But, if that's not your style, we're also looking for someone to examine some magical phenomena happening north out of town in the desert. It seems there's some Wild Magic out and about to the north, and we could always use some samples of it for study. Could even drop an Artifact we could sell."

You see more magic items in the back, consisting of various charms and bits of jewelry and clothing and so forth. There also seem to be more critters in the shop than previously seen, mostly birds and rodents and reptiles, each with their own very spacious cage.

>Pyrite, Cutlass

You are now outside the shop, along with the Beesting mooks who helped carry in Cloud, and with Godot. As you look out over the town, you see your party members milling about in the crowds, going through the shops and having a look around while they stretch their legs. Bouncing music from various players echo across the beautiful adobe buildings, and kites drift across the sky to pepper the sky with color. The town is resplendent with color and full of nooks and crannies to explore, and with two hours to spare, you've certainly got the time now to explore it.



Cutlass and Pyrite wait for the surgery to finish. After a while of awkward silence, she looks to Pyrite and asks, "So, why are YOU still waiting. Everyone else seems to have something better to do. Why not you?"




While all this is happening, you see Sparkler and Droplet approaching, both carrying small bowls of shaved ice and wearing sunglasses made of shadow. Droplet, notably, has a second bowl of shaved ice. Seeing you sitting on a bench outside the skinshop, they approach, and Droplet offers you the extra shaved ice. It appears to be orange flavor.
"Captain, how's Cloud holding up?" Sparkler asks.


"Thank you for your concern, but I can handle myself just fine. Besides, I'm here with friends. We just decided to split up for a bit," she says as she finishes giving headpats to her beetleband to make sure they're alright, then gently puts them away.
"But if you really want to know, I'm getting myself signed up for that deep sea expedition thing. A little extra brawn that doesn't need diving gear should be an easy job."



Before taking the shaved ice, Cutlass looks to see what flavor Droplet has kept for himself.


Kahuan's smile and friendly demeanor wane as you turn him down. Your beetlebands put on a tough facade for you, but they'll need some maintenance to fix the damage they've sustained as part of that Aura attack earlier.
"Oh, you're taking that job, huh?" Kahuan asks with suspicion, his expression souring. "Weeellll, you're clearly capable of taking care of yourself, but I'd be a little wary among the Maize House employees. They've led expeditions and cruises like this before. Explorations to old, uninhabited islands, always looking for the same thing: ancient civilizations thought lost to time, preserving cultural relics and history and all that stuff. Sounds simple, right? But, I keep hearing about the high mortality rates from those voyages. You'd think they wouldn't be more dangerous than other work, but the rumors say otherwise."

He shrugs. "Whatever, I'm sure it's nothing you're not used to. But I've got places to be and money to make. Adios!"

With that, yellow aura swarms around the wheels of his aquarium, and he starts to roll away. His beetlebands crawl up to the top of the aquarium and make mocking gestures at you and yours.

It looks like he's kept the bowl of grape flavored shaved ice for himself. Noticing your gaze, he pulls the grape bowl closer to himself protectively.

Heavy darkness swirls about you, pressing upon you like a colossal hand that has you clenched in its palm. Yet it stirs and swirls, tossing you about in a tumultuous spin, tossing you about in a storm of pressure and dim color. You feel your head swimming, your body uncomfortably warm and waterlogged.


Cloud struggles as he starts to be tossed about and squeezed, the relaxing drift to sleep becoming an uncomfortable cradle. It grows as he feels wet, not quite drowning but badly soaked, trying to shake to get rid of the feeling.



Cutlass smiles. "Why Droplet, you're so considerate. And, you know me so well! I just love tangy flavors," she says as she telekinetically takes the orange bowl.

"Though, for future reference, lemon IS better."


Cerulean blinks as he goes away, then gives a ruffle to her mane to let Roger know he can come out.
"Wow, that guy was a real barnacle-head, huh," she says to him, his turn to get some headpats.
"I bet he was just trying to scare us off. Well we're not gonna let some filthy dolphin scare us away."

With her resolve reinforced by mild racism, Cerulean continues on her journey to the employment building.


Droplet bows slightly to you, looking relieved that you didn't try to swipe the grape bowl.
Sparkler clears her throat awkwardly, and takes a large, exaggerated bite of her own shaved ice, (which you notice is indeed lemon) apparently to get attention. "Captain? Cloud is in good hands now, I presume?"

Heading down the street once more, you in time come to a very large adobe building, at the top of which you see a high flagpole, waving a red-and-gold flag, rather majestic looking, with a design of a krikral warrior on the front, a beetle decked out in bright red and green warpaint, with armor adorned with feathers. Presumably, this must be the island's flag.

Inside, there is a large office space, regal and bright, with stone artwork adorning the walls. You find a hive of adventurers and robe-wearing office workers hustling and bustling about, attending to various aspects of business. The air is full of overlapping shouting and talking, yet there is still an atmosphere of controlled chaos, an orderliness to the rapid business pace. Some distance from the entrance, you see a large front desk, ringed with attendants. At the front, there is a beautiful black and gold moth krikral, tapping away at a typewriter. As you enter, her eyes flick up to you inquisitively.

As you struggle about in the darkness, it starts to recede, but you're hardly able to get your bearings because of that. Your hooves touch down onto dark, wet sand, scattered across a stone floor in a vast, dark chamber. The walls are high, and you are in a long and narrow chamber, the air thick and humid, your fur clinging to you tightly with seawater and sand, which drip from the darkness above. Imposing inscriptions dot the walls, dark and scowling faces, wrapped in shadows.


"Hmm? O-Oh, I just wanted to make sure he would be okay. I do want to go see what sort of jobs we can find to help him get the money to pay everyone back, but… I just want to see the procedure through, so to speak. I owe him that much for being unable to fix it, at least."



Cutlass glares at Sparkler in an exaggerated fashion.

"Indeed he is," she says, lightening her expression. "Or, at least as good of care as we will get around here. But, I'm not sure why you should care."


Once he feels his hooves tough ground, Cloud relaxes, knowing he isn't stuck underwater at least. He shakes his body, tossing off some of the water and sand to rid the clingy feeling, but still feeling heavy under the oppressive air.
"Where am I?"
He says aloud, ears shifting back and forth as he looks around the dark hallway, using his echolocation to see his way. He cowers slightly at the wall faces, the dread making him uneasy as he starts to walk down hte hallway to get out of whatever room this is.


"Hmm? O-Oh, I just wanted to make sure he would be okay. I do want to go see what sort of jobs we can find to help him get the money to pay everyone back, but… I just want to see the procedure through, so to speak. I owe him that much for being unable to fix it, at least."


Cerulean looks around the place, remembering some places near reefs and such that were busy like this. She takes notice of the moth looking at her and, after giving a brief left-and-right look to make sure nobody else was around her, goes up to the receptionist.
"Hi there! Are you the one to talk to about taking part in that deep sea expedition thingy?"



Cutlass laughs daintily. "You are too soft for a pirate," she criticizes him.


Alder huffs a little bit, before offering a nervous shrug "I-I suppose I am, yes. I just wish I could do my job better when it is needed."



"What job is that?" Cutlass asks, raising a curious eyebrow.


"A crippling injury like that is a liability for the crew," Sparkler says curtly. "Not only is the crewmate himself going to be in need of assistance while he can't see, others are going to be distracted, thinking about his well being."
"I figured you'd care at the very least," Droplet says, hiding a half-smirk as he stirs his shaved ice.

"We could go look on your behalf while you wait, if you don't want to leave," Droplet offers. "And, if we see anything else of note, we can report that as well."
"Though, we won't do any shopping for you unless you front us the cash," Sparkler adds.

As you get closer, you see that the gold on her wings forms a kind of jaguar print, and that her body is ringed with dusty fluff. As you bring up the expedition, her wings flap with obvious excitement, scattering little bits of scales through the air. "Why yes, I am!" she says. "My name is Two Reeds, and I am Sir Kukulcan's emissary for the expedition. Let me get you started right away."

With happy energy, she starts to root through the desk, pulling out stacks of paperwork and a pen, which she sets upright on the paper stack. It starts to move on its own, filling out some preliminary boxes. "Are you signing up by yourself or on behalf of a larger group?"

As you wander through the halls, the water clining all about you does not seem to dry, instead remaining clinging to your flesh and bones with uncomfortable weight. The temple complex that you find yourself in is vast and endless, composed of several interconnected hallways that all feel as though they lead nowhere as you head through them. Your only source of light is a dim irradience, clinging to the floor without an apparent source, ghostly and pale.

After a seemingly interminable walk through the stone halls, you come to the end of a hall, where it opens into a much larger room, cavernous and stretching deep before you. You stand at the top of a vast set of stairs which lead downward into the massive chamber waiting in the darkness.


"Well, healer. I tend to work with mixtures, though, so… apothecary?"



"A very valid point," Cutlass responds to Sparkler. "Though, tragically irrelevant since he is not YOUR crewmate. I could maybe see a fellow pirate being concerned for him, but you aren't even that."

"And, I only care about his well-being to ensure that my investment doesn't go to waste, DROPLET," Cutlass adds defensively at the end as she awkwardly takes a bit of her shaved ice to hide her reddening face.


"Ah, well NOW it makes sense," Cutlass responds with a nod and another bite of shaved ice. "This is a personal affront to you. THAT'S why you're staying."


"Correct, I suppose. I do not like doing a bad job on one of the few things I can do."


Cerulean looks really worried by the amount of papers put up on the desk. She never really did like all this signing stuff.
"Uhh…what if I don't know exactly? I have some friends, but I don't remember who wanted to go and who didn't."



"Well, that's not really fair," Cutlass says more conversationally than consolingly. "You haven't done a bad job. This is just beyond your repertoire."


Sparkler clicks her tongue with annoyance. She has another large bite of shaved ice, then scoffs. "I would think that maintaining good relations with the pirate crew we're working with would be in our best interests, Captain. If nothing else, I'd think simple humanity would dictate at least a degree of empathy for someone whose eye you just saw get destroyed."
Droplet lightly elbows her, giving her a subtle look as if to say Stay cool.

As Sparkler presses the issue, Godot rolls his eyes, then stands up and heads off, mumbling something about wanting to have a cigarette.

"Um… well, I can get the paperwork started for you, and then set up some for any others you want to bring with you," Two Reeds says, not perturbed by the setback. She directs her attention to the pen, which automatically starts to write. "Okay, I'll just need your name and occupation, and a short description of any relevant experience relating to sailing, diving or deep sea exploration. I take it you won't need a diver's suit, so that makes things simpler."

As Two Reeds lays out the questions, you see Bee Holder and Bent Scales coming out of a nearby hallway further up in the massive Labor Office, chatting and talking as they walk.


"That would be very nice, thank you." the griffon says, bowing a little bit.

"W-Well, it feels like a problem I should be able to handle. If something like this happens again, I would want to help."


As Cloud walks, he gives a shake of a hoof now and then, still trying ot shake off the water. He starts to grow impatient, and a bit more attentive as he passes from hall to hall, trying to map out this labyrinth in his head to no avail. When he comes to the stairs, he stops. He looks down, ears pointing forward as he gives one bat squeak to try and gauge how deep it is from the echo. Though, this is the first difference in his path, so he descends them regardless.



"Well, it sounds like you know what you want to do with your Aura now," Cutlass says with a grin.


"Such long term relations aren't necessary," Cutlass responds, fiddling with her shaved ice. "Someone will betray or abandon someone before that will ever end up mattering."


As you speak, it seems that Sparkler's more focused now on this argument with Cutlass, but Droplet, on the other hand, subtly nods in your direction. "I'll pick you up a shaved ice. Preference on the flavor?"
After you give your answer, he heads back down into town as he said he would.

Your cry doesn't come back until several moments later, indicating to you that the chamber is far more vast and cavernous than any you have ever seen in your life. You begin to feel much like an insect lost in a vast castle's dungeons.


As you wander down the steps which step deeper and deeper into the dark, you become aware of a grim and faint glowing, out in the distance. Upon a hill of stone, way out in the shadows, you see a figure sitting upon a high throne, a skeleton of some primordial, animalian beast, wrapped in robes and jewels and shattered royal regalia. Out of the chest cavity, you see a kind of tree growing, stretching up in to the sky, its branches curved and gripping the open, stale air.

Once you finally reach the bottom of the chamber, you are greeted again with a floor of wet sand. The room is full of piles of stone and metal, broken relics of a kind, monuments to monsters and gods that once darted about in pagan imagination, now lost to time.

Some of them start to look vaguely familiar to you.


Cerulean's focus is mostly on the handy pen that is writing by-itself, but snaps back just in time to catch the last bits of it.
"Oh, experience, ocean, right! Well, I've been sailing just about everywhere in the Ribcage lately. Been sailing for…way more than a week. Oh, and I used to clear out sunken ships out and make them my home. And…oh yeah, I guess I've been diving my whole life then." She gives a big grin.
"And my name is Cerulean Splash. And I guess sailor. I mean, everyone is trying to say we're pirates, buuuut we've been doing a lot more good things than…whatever pirates usually do, so I don't think we really are?"

She scratches her head in mild confusion, then notices Bee and Bent. She waves to them.
"Hey you two! Hey, think you can help me out with some of this paperwork stuff? I'm stuck on a question or something."



She takes note of the items that are on sale, especially the spiders and the homunculus, making a mental note to buy them when she is done.

"A pity that such swine are allowed to have a foothold in these lands," she comments, not without a tinge of bitterness. "If it is not too impertinent to ask, have you not thought about moving out yourself? Sorceresses of such might are rather uncommon. Our kind deserve better."

She considers the scarecrow's offerings. "I am not beneath castigating thugs," she says. "It sounds like they need proper discipline. But, tell me more about this desert job. It sounds like work apt for my companions and I."


Cloud descends, walking until the clacks on his hooves on stone silence into a wet step into sand. His head tilts up as he look at the massive skeleton, the inconsequential feeling he's had in this giant maze driven further. He feels afraid to step further even though the creature is dead, fearing that approaching it might upset it still. His eyes continue to rise as he trails the tree, reaching up higher and higher and spreading across the space above.
In this moment of awe, Cloud starts to move forward, his hooves moving on his own separate from his mind. His head turns back down as he passes the relics, broken and scattered, the monument and maze looking more like ruins. His body turns, approaching the familiar relics. With nostalgic curiosity, he picks one up.


"Maybe? I do not know how to, well… make it do what I want. I guess I will hope for it hard enough… maybe?" he says, humming a little in thought.

"Shaved ice? Oh! Uhm… something fruity."



"Well, based on what we did before, it seems to do what we want when we need it to."

Cutlass eyes Alder curiously. "What did you do before you went out to sea?" she asks out of left field.


"Well, a little bit of a few things. I was an apothecary at home, and I ended up falling into thievery after I left. I picked up some other skills, but I would not call them more than hobbies."



"So, you became a pirate out of necessity," Cutlass nods as if this is what she expected to hear.


Sparkler's attitude quickly shifts, her expression turning from one of petty annoyance to grave severity. "I hope you don't suspect anyone on our ship right now, Captain? I could take them aside and have a word with them with my ability."

The automatic pen scribbles away, dutifully recording the information you provide. Two Reeds grins as you bring up that you're a pirate. "Ah! No, I would keep introducing myself as a pirate if I were you," she advises. "A lot of people around here are going to be more receptive to pirates. It's considered very practical to have a pirate that you can call upon. The business-owners especially like them. It's easier to deal with competition when you can call up a pirate crew.

"Ah, but we're getting off track. Since we won't have to deal with the diving suit, you should be all set in terms of paperwork! I'll just need you to sign at the bottom. I'll hand it to Sir Kukulcan right away. You should also speak with him when you get the chance. He's requested that he get to meet all applicants at least once."

Bee Holder and Bent Scales wave back, then quickly come over. "What's all this about paperwork? We just filled out the forms for docking our ship at port," Bent Scales says.

"This is the paperwork for Sir Kukulcan's deep sea expedition," Two Reeds corrects.

"Ah!" Bee Holder says. "I'll handle the paperwork. Vice-Captain Bent Scales?"

"Oh, come on…" Bent Scales mutters.

"Handle the paperwork!" Bee Holder orders with glee.

"Yes, Captain…" Bent Scales says reluctantly.

As you pick up an obsidian piece, you realize that it looks strikingly like the jar that Queen Toko had attempted to use against you in the last moments of her life. The fleur-shaped jar has a face etched into its side, the mouth slightly open in creepy serenity, the eyes slits of hunger. The bottom is broken, and wet, dark sand endlessly pours out in a slow flood, always piling up no matter how much comes out.

You hear another stirring in the darkness, one of a quiet, choked sob, a cry of loneliness and despondence.


Looking through the hidden shop's wares, your eye is caught by the following:

>Wildlife Whistle, 100 Bits

Description: A stone whistle shaped like a hunting hound's head. Capable of making any animal's sound, as long as the user has heard the sound before and can call it back to memory.
>Sky-Catching Parasol, 100 Bits
Description: A parasol that easily catches the wind, and has the curious property of sharply reducing the user's weight. In other words, it allows one to jump, catch the wind, and travel a great distance using the wind once they're airborne.
>Bell of Transformation, 150 Bits
Description: A bell that, once rung, can change the user into what they would look like if they were of another race, or gender, keeping their overall build, proportions and "look." The user determines what they transform into.
>Elemental Pipe, 100 Bits
Description: A pipe that, with a tap on its bell, lights itself, and always has a source of fresh tobacco inside. The pipe also has a property that allows it to store any one elemental minion inside. If the smoke or fire that the Pipe produces is targeted for Unholy Elementalist, it has DC 4.

You also see that a variety of critters are for sale. Mammals seem to be the most popular – rats, monkeys, stoats, and badgers are the more common, but there are a variety available.

Also, your attention is drawn to a series of string-based charms that hang from a hook, just above the familiars for sale. These charms are labeled simply as "Fate," and have a listed price of 0 Bits.

"Oh, when I was younger, I considered it," Gullveig says. "But I'm afraid I'm the last of my study circle – the last occultist who occupies these parts. Everyone else has either moved on or gone missing. I'm the last of the old guard, so to speak, but I don't have anyone to take my place. I'll remain here until I know this place is in good hands. I don't want to be the one who extinguishes this last little bit of magic."

The Knight of Crowsbane draws up some chairs for the two of you. "It seems that there have been unusual and apparently causeless magical phenomena happening out in the desert around evening, just when the sun goes down past the horizon. Farmers out in that community have gone missing for days at a time, only to reappear later as if they had never disappeared. They've also reported transformations of local wildlife and landscape, distortions in space that teleport caravans far off course, and the appearance of creatures from other planes of reality. We really don't know much more than what the locals are sharing in their rumors, so we need someone to go in and get to the bottom of it, and if possible, to contain it."



Cutlass gives Sparkler a sort of genuine but pained smile. "It's a pirate crew, of course I suspect things. Plague is getting half the crew to call HIM captain. Godot is already talking about leaving. This is just the way it is. But, your method may not be what's best for it. I've already tried authoritative and unforgiving. It didn't work. This time I'm trying competent and threatening. If I make it so that the best state of being is being on my good side, no one will want to leave, right?" she asks hopefully.


Cloud looks grimly at the broken jar, a shudder running through his body as the image of Toko preparing to use it against them flashes in his head. He looks around, wondering if it was what caused this destruction. He looks down at the sand pouring out, turning the container upside-down as he puts it back down, his eyes locking onto the the jar's, almost getting lost in their hunger.
He snaps out of it when he hears the sob, ears perking up and turning towards it.
"Who's there?"
Cloud calls out into the darkness, turning to find where it came from and then running towards it.


"Sort of? I wanted to try something new, and water was definitely new. I barely even really swam at home."

"I suppose it is just… like that, then? I do not know what to expect of pirates."



"You'd be surprised how many pirate can't swim," Cutlass laughs.

"So, if water is that new to you, where are you from?"


"It's certainly MY experience with pirates," Cutlass answers with awkward indignation.


"Oh no no, I can fill out the paperwork. I just wasn't sure how to fill the question out since we say we're pirates, but we've been doing some really not-illegal things and all," she explains to Bee and Bent.
"Plus, I ran into this creepy pirate hunter guy, who was a total jerk of a dolphin. I really just wanted to smash open that aquarium of his with my tail…." She gnashes her teeth a bit at remembering.

"Oh! But the pretty gold lady here said its okay, so I guess that problem kinda fixed itself," she says as she goes back to filling out papers pertaining to her.
"You guys wanna join in? She's gonna have a bunch of papers done ahead of time 'cause I didn't know who was gonna go for a swim with me or not."


>Echolocation Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2


"Err- more like, lots of water is new. There was a river, but it is little compared to, well… an ocean. I come from a far northest corner of griffon lands. A little too high to get a body of water like this… a-and, really? Pirates that can not swim? That seems like a poor decision." he says, more confused than anything else

"And, that is your experience? That is a shame, I suppose. The Bee Holder has been surprisingly pleasant, in comparison."


Sparkler munches on her shaved ice, considering your reasoning. "That all makes sense, of course," she eventually says, still looking frustrated at the thought that the crew would turn against you. "But a crew ruled by fear of punishment, fear of their superior, may still fall apart. It would be rational to stay on your good side, but those ruled by fear do not make the most rational decisions all the time."

"Well, the Captain's got the right idea, more or less," Sparkler says with resignation. "Unfortunately, many pirates' loyalty is held only by their paycheck, or by their conditions. If someone offers them a better pay, or a better and easier life somewhere, it's not uncommon for them to bail."

You trek over the hills of dead and broken relics, chasing the echoing sobs, nearly slipping several times on the broken and scattered monuments that are caked with sticky wet sand. As you crest the hill, you hear a dark and low, drawn out sob shudder out from its source, far below, deep in the shadows at their bottom. There appears to be a large figure shuddering in the shadows, and a dim, near imperceptible orange glint wavers in the dark.

Bee Holder clicks her tongue. "I see, I see. As long as you're affiliated with my ship, you're a pirate and I still see ya as one of my own, but if you want to call yourself a sailor instead, that's your decision."
She chuckles at your description of Kahuan.

Bee Holder then turns her attention back to the paperwork, filling some out. "Of course I'm going! Never saw an expedition before me that I didn't want to go on. Hrm, but we'll have to leave behind certain members of the crew to keep an eye on the ships while we're down there, I presu–"

"Not at all!" says a new voice, deep and booming, with a loud thundering boom as a figure sets his hands on the counter. You see a tall and brightly teal Vola, of the cockatiel variety, standing before you, clothed in a high padded jacket. His red and yellow head-feathers flop up and down. "In fact, I was just speaking with my engineers about this – if you are so inclined, you may be able to bring one of your ships with you! If you would be so kind as to volunteer it for the expedition, that is."

"Ah, Sir Kukulcan," Two Reeds says. "Good to see you, sir."


She shows brief interest in the pipe, but her eye is more drawn to the assortment of critters available, especially the badgers. She watches them trundle about for a while with slight but visible amusement, looking for a price on them before noticing the seemingly free charms. "What do these do?" she asks. "Surely they are not simply for the taking."

Her expression darkens a little. "I see," she says quietly. "…I am sorry. I have lost most of my kin also. I sympathize. I hope you can find someone to keep the torch lit."

She listens to the knight politely, taking a seat. "It sounds like an experiment gone awry, in my opinion. I shall have to see about convincing the others to look into it. They are, however… more materialistic, to put it politely. What would the reward be?"



"Well, having grown up in a port city," Cutlass says as if she's an adult now. "Not having easy access to the ocean feels very foreign to me."

"Honestly, I think there are more pirates who can't swim than can," Cutlass laughs.

At the mention of Bee Holder, Cutlass' demeanor grows a bit more severe. "I don't trust her. Not that I think she's actively plotting anything. But, she's the kind of pony who would be insulted if I DID fully trust her, I think," Cutlass laughs.


"I-it's not FEAR, perse," Cutlass says defensively. "Just… reason leading them toward a certain all-consuming conclusion. I don't need to punish them if any actions that are contrary to my desires results in no gain for them."


"That is not a quality exclusive to pirates. Everyone is only loyal to what benefits them most."


Cloud mutters complaints and groans as he nearly slips, trips, or falls over all the ruined relics and wet sand. He stops at the top of the hill, looking around until he spots the orange glint in the darkness.
"Are you alright?"
Cloud calls out to the figure.
"I'm lost too. Maybe we can help each other get out of here!"
He says as he runs down the hill towards them.


"Ah. I suppose I can not blame them, but it's a shame all the same."

"Ah. It can be really, really interesting. The sky is always so beautiful at night, even if it can be deathly cold. What are port cities like?"


Gullveig nods solemnly as you offer your condolences. "I am quite hopeful that one of these days I shall have my heir. The small of mind and heart cannot keep the occult down, so long as the spark of imagination and rebellion remain in the heart of at least one with the will to chase that wonder."

She then spreads her wing to the woven string charms. "The charms are my main item of sale," Gullveig says. "Don't let the rather affordable price distract you. They do not come without a cost. You see, I have spent most of my endless years practicing Seidr, the Magic of Fate. In short, each of these charms can be woven with a particular Fate, a destiny. I can sell you any Fate that you desire, and so long as you hold onto the charm, in time, that Fate shall come to pass before you leave this world. Every one that I have ever weaved has worked."

"We are prepared to offer 250 Bits to each person who assists in the study and containment of this magical anomaly," the Knight of Crowsbane says. "Is that a suitable reward?"


"Ooooh, so this is Kukulcan. Nice to meet you. I'm getting myself signed up for this," she greets happily.
"Well, the ship thing is up to Bee and Bent, here. I'm just kinda along for the ride and some great food."



"Very busy," Cutlass says, thinking about it. "Much like this island, in fact. But, you know, with ponies. Also, generally more reputable. Of course, that may just be Manehatten. It's always been known for being a bit more attached to high society."

"Which is probably best and worst part of the city…" she grumbles.


She thinks. "Perhaps I could find you a candidate? I am in contact with two ship's worth of crew. There may yet be someone there with an interest in your arts."

She looks at the charms thoughtfully. "And what if the charm were to break?" she asks plainly, turning back to the badgers and looking for a price tag on one.

"That is for my companions to decide," she answers. "For my part I have little interest in material wealth, but the others… well, I have faith they will agree to see it done. We are in need of money at any rate, after today…"

"Is there aught else I should know about the task? I imagine preparations for a desert expedition will have to be made."



As you get closer to the figure in the dark, you begin to see the outline of their body, a colossal shape made of Aura. It is unmistakably a colossal Bee Soldier, dozens of long, spindly legs sprouting from its sides, which scrape and clatter all over the piles of relics, scattering them all around and digging up a flurry of sand. About halfway down the abdomen, it ends abruptly, taking on a honeycomb shape, inside which you see countless smaller bees swarming in an angry buzzing. The creature's body is covered with wounds, deep and narrow, gaping holes through which you can see to the other side. Its head is a hulking weight, hanging to one side from a damaged neck, with giant split jaws, rows of thick square teeth, and a vile-smelling dark poison.

As you get closer, the Aura beast swings its head over to you, and an unmistakably familiar sensation, transmitted by the Aura, floods into your mind. A dread chill strikes through your body as you recognize this Aura immediately.

"SIIIIISTEEEEEERRRR?" the broken remains of Queen Hurscurs cry out.

"Now, that's a suggestion I resent," Sparkler says. "Surely that view of loyalty is too narrow, isn't it? There's got to be more to it than just benefit."

Sir Kukulcan makes a showy bow, then offers his hand to you. "Glad to hear it! Unfortunately, one of the crews we hired bailed on the job after they heard some completely unsubstantiated rumors from certain previous disgruntled employees. Can you believe it?"

"Oh, I've had my share of that," Bee Holder says. "But what's all this about the ship?"

"I was actually about to head out to lunch," Kukulcan mentions. "Care to join me, you three? It would make a much better place to discuss these matters."

It seems that each badger is worth 150 Bits.

"Only if you can trust them not to be careless with this information," Gullveig says. "You never know when a witch-hunter has left their familiars around, trying to sniff out places like mine."

Gullveig then turns to the charms. "That… is not a simple matter," she says after some deliberation. "Allow me a question: How much do you know of Fate and destiny? Of the costs of observing the future – and those of changing the future?"


"Attached to high society? I suppose that was something you were not a part of? A-Apologies if the bluntness is… offensive."


>Forgot to add

The Knight of Crwosbane shakes his head. "Aside from the standard tips for staying healthy in the desert, only that you should be on the lookout for rogue kalphite schools. The local ostrictch farms have been under attack by bands of the dastardly little buggers in recent weeks."


Cloud approaches the figure, walking around it as he slowly passes the legs, the abdomen, the honeycomb, the sight of each monstrous part and swarm of insects inside it weighing on his mind more and more. He keeps walking, the grotesque beast chilling him until he stops as he sees the head, the chill freezing him as the Aura encompasses his mind.
Cloud's ears fold down at the broken cry, rattling his eardrums and his soul. He wants to turn, he wants to run, but his body stays in place. He'd like to believe its from terror, and part of it is, but the weigh of the sand and wet fur on his back translates to guilt, chained down before this creature.
"I-I'm sorry…"
Cloud mutters sadly to Hurscurs.



"It would be nice if you were right," Cutlass responds to Sparkler in a sour tone.


"W-well now, excuse me?" Cutlass responds, sounding quite offended. She puts a hoof to her chest. "Do I not give off an air of regal posterity? Does the elegant way I dress not give me away?" she asks, gesturing to her dress. "I like to think I've brought civilized society to the world of pirates. But, it seems I've lost my touch."

"On the contrary, I am from a rather affluent family," she says with a tinge of pride. "And, you can be certain that running off and becoming a pirate has just absolutely ruined my family's reputation," she says with a greater amount of pride. And a wide grin.


"O-Oh! Well, I apologize for mis-assuming, Miss Cutlass." the griffon stammers out, before bowing his head a little in apology. "Running off from your family? Though it may be for different reasons, I can relate- why exactly did you?"


"Rumors? Was is a dolphin in a mobile glass bowl? Also, lunch sounds great. Really, food in general is always great to me."


She purses her lips a little at the price. She's only 30 bits off from being able to buy what she wanted. Oh well. She settles for just the spiders and the homunculus, for now, pointing them out. "I will take these," she says to Gullveig. "They seem most intriguing. Rest assured, however, I will return. There is so much here of value. It is a pity that not everyone can appreciate your work."

"It is only an offer," she answers respectfully. "One occultist to another. Believe me, I have lived long enough to recognize treachery when I see it."

She blinks. "It was studied by my kin, to an extent, but it was never something I pursued. It seems too dangerous to toy with to me."

She tilts her head a little. "What are kalphite, exactly? They are not a creature I am familiar with. Some sort of insect?"



"I have pirate's blood in my veins," Cutlass answers proudly. "My mother had a love affair with a pirate and consequently had me. Of course, when my grandparents found out, they locked her up to contain the embarrassment she caused the family."

"They smothered me," Cutlass sighs. "I had to make up for my mother's 'mistake'. I had to be the perfect child that my mother couldn't be. As you can imagine, it was… less than desirable. Especially for someone like me with pirate's blood. I yearned for freedom. So I snuck away and never looked back."

"Also, I told you already. Stop calling me 'miss'. If you insist on showing me respect, call me 'captain'."


"Ah. Well, I am glad you found your way back to your true calling- A-And, I will make sure to, captain!"


The moment the apology leaves your lips, Hurscurs' arms snap forward with an awful speed and ferocity, ripping you up off the ground and raising you high into the air, dangling above her head with its waiting, dripping maw, black with poison. Hurscurs releases a high, shrill screech, trembling with fury – but just before she can strike, a heavy, oppressive darkness swarms about the both of you, clamping onto both of your bodies. It takes the form of many black hands clamping down onto Hurscurs' body, which start to drag her back down into the sand. With a shriek, she throws you aside, and you skid to the ground after bouncing across the broken stones. The darkness starts to close in on you as well, rapidly sapping your strength and obscuring your vision.

Kukulcan blinks for a few moments as you bring up Kahuan. "Oh, that little tapeworm…" he mutters resentfully under his breath, his frills rising up in fury. He then smooths them down. "No matter! That's what the PR team is for."

He then claps his hands twice, leaving the Labor Office. Scales and Bee Holder follow him to a sushi joint out on the docks. It's a nice cozy affair, one that is run by diamond dogs and ponies wearing kimonos. Kukulcan takes a place at the counter, looking over a menu. "Order whatever you like, ladies, it's on me today."

Eagerly, Bent Scales and Bee Holder start to look over the mnus.

The Knight of Crowsbane takes the money and rings up the items, putting them in a woven cloth bag for ease of carrying. "We also purchase items," he says. "If you come across an item that you don't need, or an old item that you have no more use for, come by and we'll take it off your hooves at a reasonable price."


Gullveig shrinks down yet again, flying down to the ground once more. She folds her wings over herself, so that they resemble a kind of comfy-looking robe. "People speak of the Fates, as if there were multiple beings in charge of it. This was always a misconception. There is only one guardian of Fate – She Who Counts Stars, and she quite obsessively maintains a record of all that is to happen.

"What my magic, Seidr, specializes in, is playing within Her designs, taking advantage of little ambiguities here and there, in order to make new Fates. I use string to 'tie' these Fates secure, ensuring that, so long as the charm holds together, the one who has commissioned me will live to see that Fate play out. But while She is content to let me and other Fate-workers to get away with this, she does not let it happen without a price. You see, every Fate has a specific 'weight' to it, depending on how many people it will affect – like how a rock that falls into a pond makes waves based on its weight.

"When you assign a Fate to someone, the weight needs to be accounted for. Events will arrange themselves so that She feels that this Fate is earned. For example, if you purchase a Fate of fame, fortune and power, events will befall you so that you have to fight for every scrap of it. So long as you remain alive, that Fate will be assured to come to pass, but She will put obstacles in your way that leave her satisfied with the result. Such is the cost of attempting to set the future in stone. That is why I charge nothing for this service. They will have to pay far more than I could charge.

"Now… is there something you'd like to have as your Fate?"


"I shall keep it in mind," she nods, eyeing the doll especially with great interest. "Thank you, sir knight."

She listens politely, though retaining a dose of skepticism. "And if it does not come to pass?" she ponders, not really expecting an answer. "What sort of Fates do you have to offer?"



Cutlass smiles and looks away. "Th-thanks," she says awkwardly.

"What about you?" she asks, making a point to not look at Alder. "You said you can relate to wanting to leave home. What happened?"


Cloud's eyes widen as the broken queen snaps towards him, breath stopping as he's clutched in her hands and held over head. He tries to speak, but can only wheeze through her grasp. Any struggles he could have made are blown away by her screech, disorienting him as leaving him in a daze at her stares down into her maw. This helps the sudden darkness crushing down on him feel a bit softer as it collapses on them both, feeling weak and submitting this this fate he's tied into.
When he's tossed and tumbles across the sand, Cloud lays there for a moment in the wet muck, bruised from the stones he rolled across. He rolls weakly onto his stomach, looking into the darkness as it surrounds and drains him. In this moment, he feels he's at the end.
He pushes at the ground with his hooves, trying to stand while enveloped in this force. He can't go here, alone and beaten.


"Every one I have sold has come to pass," Gullveig answers simply. "And the arts of Seidr allow me to assign anything that can be conceived of as Fate. They can be vague – 'I shall become a king of great renown' – or as specific – 'I shall meet the perfect companion on my next birthday and spend seventy-five years together in a lovely marriage' – as one likes. In general, I recommend being more specific; then you will know when it is before you. But, the more detailed and grandiose this Fate is, the greater its weight, and the greater tangles that shall be woven into the string, as your life becomes tied in with so many others, and so many events. She Who Counts Stars must balance for every Fate's weight."

The awful remains of Queen Hurscurs start to sink into the quicksand, as does your own body. But as you blink in the haze of pain and darkness swelling all over you, you feel something heavy in your skull. On the right side of your face, you see a bright, murky blue light, where your vision from your right eye should be. In the blue, you see a crow pecking about. Even as the darkness closes in and your hooves collapse underneath you, the blue light remains, a clear haven amid the pain and weakness.


"Dunno what a PR team is, but no worries. He was really creepy," she replies bluntly and happily.

"Better be careful about that. I'm really known for eating A LOT," she says with a big grin, looking over the menu as well and giving a lick of her chops.


Cloud's body falls as the darkness crushes him, even his struggles starting to submit to failure. When his skull feels heavy, Cloud grits his teeth, the bright blue light almost painful in the contrast of the surrounding darkness. Seeing the crow appear in his vision, Cloud shakes his head to try and shoo it off, given his body feels immobile under the weight.


She nods understandingly, pondering them. She feels reticent about getting one for herself, but perhaps… "One other question. Could I take a charm as a gift to another? We have made powerful enemies of late. It would help my captain to have one such charm."


A standard sushi restaurant's fare is on the menu: rolls, fried vegetables, meat, even barbecue of various fish types are for sale. Standards like shrimp, crab and tuna can be requested, but more exotic types like Wrestler Fish and Bloodtooth Worm have apparently been freshly caught and can be served as well. The diamond dogs behind the counter patiently await your order.

Sir Kukulcan places his order, as do Scales and Bee Holder. "Now, Captain, onto business: what I mentioned ealier was that we can convert your ship into a deep sea diving vessel by installing certain magitech engines that shall enable your ship to dive and rise with the turn of a gear and the press of a button, while also maintaining its own air supply. We call it the 'Ship in a Bottle' method.

Bee Holder hums as she ponders this. "Any charge for it?"

"Only for any damages caused by negligence or intentional mistreatment!" Kukulcan says cheerfully.

Bee Holder taps her fork on the table. "I'd need to see it myself. Ain't a fan of others modifying my ship without my oversight."

"But of course, captain!"


"Mmm, well… I fit in poorly. Griffons tend to be a touch taller than ponykind, but my tribe tends towards far larger sizes. I am, ehm… not- and, it leads to me doing little in the way of helping the tribe. I wanted to go out and see, well… if I can actually do something, you know? Prove to myself I am not as bad as I think.


Darkness overtakes you, swarming over you like a great weight, leaving only the quiet, steady blue of the vision. The crow turns about, pecking in your direction, but hits an invisible glass surface. As the rest of your senses die off, this knocking is the only constant.

You start to emerge from darkness again, only this time you find yourself in a murky, green narrow space, surrounded on all sides by a soft, plush warmth, like a kind of heated water bed. As your senses gather together once more, you recognize the inside of the cocoon, and hear muffled voices on the outside.


"Yes, you can," Gullveig says. "But you should be cautious about volunteering someone else to a Fate. You do not know if it is what they will want, in the end. If a charm is broken, She Who Counts Stars will still hold the bearer of the charm accountable for its Weight, even though the Fate they sought will be lost, likely to slip away from the bearer at the last possible moment."


Cerulean, not sure of the exotic things, puts her order for a couple of all the exotic ones. Afterall, they're all they way out in the Ribcage, so why get normal sushi she can get from home at any time? She listens to the business talk going on, though her sights are more watching the cooks and her hungry gaze looking at the stuff they're making.



"I'm guessing the healing came after you left, then? Because, being a healer certainly would seem like a valuable skill to contribute to any society."


Cloud stares at the crow as the rest of his vision fades, mind resigning that he's left for a small bird, and not even a vulture, in these last moments.

Cloud looks up through the small space above him that's open, blinking a few times as he feels his body warm and cradled, sitting comfortably soft rather than trudging through cold, damp sand. He yawns as he awakens, feeling almost perfect to fall back to sleep, going to stretch but unable to with his compressed quarters.


The dogs quickly get to work making a platter with all your sushi on it. They make Leaping Squid cutlet, and Wrestler Fish rolls, Bloodtooth Worm soup, topping it off with a side of Quake Snake wraps, fried Ruby Shell, and a large barbecued Blimp Ray. Silently bowing, the cooks serve the dishes your way, while Kukulcan and Bee Holder talk over the logistics of modifying the Beesting for deep diving capabilities.


The voices outside the cocoon start to grow alarmed, becoming louder and more anxious, as you move within the cocoon. You see some shadows moving around outside, as well as some arguing. After a time, you hear a cracking sound above, and see Dorado poking in his head, having opened up the cocoon once more. He looks completely flabbergasted. "What in the… I wasn't expecting the Eye to attach so quickly to the socket."

He reaches in and moves your face around, examining it. "Incredible, it's healed already? Cloud! How does the Eye feel?"

You're certainly conscious of the Eye's weight in your head, unlike when you had a standard eye in that socket, but it's not uncomfortable or painful. It simply is. You see a blue expanse out of the right eye, but no crow.


"Hum. Then I shall recommend you to my captain instead. Let her decide if she would like to seal her fate. For my part, even if my fate is not in my hands… I would prefer to discover it for myself." She eyes the badger pen again thoughtfully.

"But what of you?" she asks Gullveig. "Have you ever considered making a charm for yourself? It must be tempting, being able to bend reality as such."


"Sort of. I tried to learn it before, but it never really clicked. Maybe I just needed time away to get it? It took a little while, with the whole… thievery, thing. I-I was not fit for the world when I got th-" he blinks a couple of times, and gives the batpony a friendly smile.
"Cloud! D-Do you feel alright?"


Cloud's ears perk as the voices grow in alarm. He comes to more clearly, noticing the blue expanse on the right side of his vision, trying to piece together the experience he just had. Though as Dorado starts grabbing his face, that takes more priority.
"It… feels fine. A little heavy, but alright. Can you stop grabbing my face now?"
Cloud complains.
"Also, how much would one of these cost? This is pretty comfy."
He says with another yawn.



"Not fit for the world?" Cutlass laughs. "That sounds dramatic."


"Oh good. My investment didn't go to waste, at least."


"Oh, there are more ways to play with Fate within the ways of Seidr than just through binding it with charms," Gullveig says knowingly. "I always considered changing your Fate with a charm to be a rather simplistic way, sort of like barging across a dance floor while the couples are all swaying and waltzing in harmony. No, I prefer to let my Fates be whatever they will be. It's common wisdom for norns, witches of my stripe, that one's Fate is as simple to see as the clothes they wear. What you do, what you think about, what practices and habits you perform, the actions you take, the company you keep… all these weave together to form your Fate. I prefer to dance with these through my life rather than try to twist and manipulate them into something else. It is far more… what's the word? … It's more fun that way."

"Now these aren't for sale," Dorado says, pulling back.

Chiu then quickly pokes her head in, looking with disbelief at you. "It… it worked! It worked, right?"

"By all examination, yes, and in record time," Dorado says. "Normally that process would've taken another hour and a half to fully integrate into your system and stabilize, but it appears to be working quite nicely."

While the conversation continues outside the skinshop, Sickly Sweet quickly rushes out. "Get in here! Cloud appears to have made a full recovery! The Eye of Wisdom – it's actually moving in his head! It's attached and everything!"




"Alder, Cutlass?"
Cloud asks from his cocoon, not able to see them yet.
"You guys waited for me?"


"Of course I did, Mister Cloud. You are a good friend, and I wanted to make sure the procedure went well."

"I suppose so, yes. I was, hm,m… naive? I fell for scams, and I was not money-smart."



"I spent 5000 bits on you. You bet I'm going to make sure everything goes well."


"Well, that sounds familiar," Cutlass laughs as if she's remembering old times.


"Thanks Alder. It feels like it went pretty well."

Cloud groans.
"I'm going to hear the number a lot, aren't I?"



"Yep," Cutlass says with a satisfied grin.


"I'm glad to see you care."
Cloud says unenthusiastically.


"I-It is okay! We're finding ways to make money, and I will make suyre to keep you from being hurt in such a way again." he says, trying to stay hopeful.

"Did something similar happen to you? You seem much more aware."



"I'm glad you can see anything… Or… will be able to. Whatever."


"When I left, I was 14. I was a naive kid. I get cheated and ditched all over the place. I'm lucky that's all that happened. I'm aware now because I've been a victim of every trick in the book."


"I hope you took some notes on what the doc here did. Not even feeling sore anymore."

"I still have one good eye you know. Plus I'm a bat, as long as I can hear I can always see."


"I-I will try my best! Does the knife I use sting? don't really know…"

"Ah. Well, I suppose I am not alone, then." he says, with a soft chirp of laughter


"…I don't really remember if it did or not."
Cloud answers.


Last time on PirateQuest…

Cutlass and Alder sat and talked with one another, and with their entourage of crew, while they waited for Dorado to finish excavating Cloud's old, destroyed eye and installing the Eye of Wisdom in its place.

During this time, Cloud had a frightful vision of some ancient pagan temple, a labyrinthian structure full of old stone ruins and debris, lost to time. In the vision, he was attacked by a beast of Aura, created from Queen Hurscurs' Aura, still bearing the injuries that ended her life. Before the beast could devour him, they were both attacked by shadowy hands, and the vision ended. He awoke ahead of schedule, with Dorado and Chiu claiming in shock that the Eye of Wisdom had already acclimated itself to his head, and was moving about like a normal eye, as well.

Thessaly went and did some shopping at Gullveig's Affordable Sorceries, which at first appeared to be a kitschy gift shop that instead held a secret back room full of magic curios, including custom charms that could change one's Fate, at the cost of having to account for that Fate's impact to the guardian of Fate herself, a being referred to as "She Who Counts Stars."

After parting ways from the creepy Kahuan, Cerulean went to the Labor Office and signed up for the deep sea dive expedition. In the process, she met Sir Kukulcan, a teal cockatiel Vola, and Two Reeds, a black-and-gold jaguar print moth Krikral. They were two of the expedition's leaders, and quite enthusiastic to meet her and Bee Holder and Bent Scales. Kukulcan then treated them to a spot of sushi at a joint on the docks, while he talked with Bee Holder on the details of the expedition as it potentially related to the Beesting.


"Oh, there are more ways to play with Fate within the ways of Seidr than just through binding it with charms," Gullveig says knowingly. "I always considered changing your Fate with a charm to be a rather simplistic way, sort of like barging across a dance floor while the couples are all swaying and waltzing in harmony. No, I prefer to let my Fates be whatever they will be. It's common wisdom for norns, witches of my stripe, that one's Fate is as simple to see as the clothes they wear. What you do, what you think about, what practices and habits you perform, the actions you take, the company you keep… all these weave together to form your Fate. I prefer to dance with these through my life rather than try to twist and manipulate them into something else. It is far more… what's the word? … It's more fun that way."


"Now these aren't for sale," Dorado says, pulling back.

Chiu then quickly pokes her head in, looking with disbelief at you. "It… it worked! It worked, right?"

"By all examination, yes, and in record time," Dorado says. "Normally that process would've taken another hour and a half to fully integrate into your system and stabilize, but it appears to be working quite nicely."

>Cutlass, Alder

While the conversation continues outside the skinshop, Sickly Sweet quickly rushes out. "Get in here! Cloud appears to have made a full recovery! The Eye of Wisdom – it's actually moving in his head! It's attached and everything!"


The dogs quickly get to work making a platter with all your sushi on it. They make Leaping Squid cutlet, and Wrestler Fish rolls, Bloodtooth Worm soup, topping it off with a side of Quake Snake wraps, fried Ruby Shell, and a large barbecued Blimp Ray. Silently bowing, the cooks serve the dishes your way, while Kukulcan and Bee Holder talk over the logistics of modifying the Beesting for deep diving capabilities.



Cloud looks over as Chiu pokes her head over the cocoon.
"I think so… I'm not hurting really too much, but I'm seeing a ton of blue right now."
Then he turns his head so he can actually see Chiu with his only eye.
"So how do I look?"


Chiu slightly recoils when you look her way, though you can see she's tensing herself to try to hold her impulses back. "It's… well, let's just say that it's settled right into your head, alright. It does sort of look like a regular eyeball now… only, you know, made of sapphire. Doesn't it hurt, or anything?"

The cocoon around you starts to creak and crack as Dorado pulls it open. As you wake up more from your sleep, you become vaguely aware of a soft green gelatin surrounding your body, cushioning it and holding it still. It probably had some role during the surgery.


Cloud frowns at Chiu's reaction, not boding well.
"Not right now, though I'm still feeling a bit tired."
Cloud looks over to Dorado as he starts to open the cocoon, seeing the goop now that the light is on it.
"You sure I'm good doc? You just said I had another few hours to go, right?"


"An hour and a half, to be precise!" Dorado says, looking at you again with incredulity, as if he keeps doubting what he's seen since the last look. "With the spells and potions that I use, the replacement eye and the body have to get used to each other for a time, aided by various chemicals and solutions and whatnot – that's the goop surrounding your head. But yours, oddly, got used to your body in record time! And despite being a sapphire and not an actual eyeball, it's still moving in tandem with your other eye! In fact, I'm considering keeping you here to run a few tests to see if I can't get to the bottom of it."

"We're good," Chiu says curtly, then looks your way. "Though, I guess it's your call, being that it's your body."


"Really? Huh, guess I'm pretty great then. So I'm all good then, don't need to worry about anything?"
Cloud asks, feeling a little relieved he doesn't have to spend long here.

"Yea, I gotta agree with that. I don't really feel like lying in here more than I need to."
Cloud answers.



"Perfectly piratey," Cutlass says with a grin and a satisfied nod.

"You'll scare many more victims this way."



"Not quite," Dorado says to your first question. "There's still the recovery period; a good amount of surgeries end up with complications after the fact, and most of those are caused by people putting too much pressure on their new body parts – even after I tell them OVER AND OVER to take it easy!"

He rustles around in a drawer and fishes out a plain leather eyepatch. "Here, it's complimentary. Wear it for a week while it's bright out, and take it off now and again while it's dark so that you can get used to it. I'd recommend you spend the rest of today indoors, too. No reading small print or watching magitech screens."

When you deny him the chance to reesarch further, he glares at you for an uncomfortable period, saying nothing while gripping some bloody tools presumably used during the surgery. "…Very well. I'll leave you with my Conch Code," he says slowly and evenly. "So if anything goes wrong, you can give me a call and we can sort that out."

Chiu looks your way once you enter the room. "Thanks again, Captain," she says with a little bow. She appears to be struggling with words for a moment, her expression a mix of conflict and gratitude. "…we'll get your money raised as quick as we can."


Alder offers a somewhat reassuring smile, and says "You look good, all things considered! Blue is a nice color."

"Now that Cloud is back up, should we perhaps go find some work?" he asks Cutlass, before blinking and looking back to the batpony. "U-Unless, of course, you need rest, Mister Cloud."



You can see that Cloud's new eye is moving around just like a normal eye, and you can even tell what way it's looking as it has the shape of the iris and pupil carved into it. Sickly Sweet shudders as he sees this, laughing, both curious and vaguely disgusted.

"Agreed," Chiu says as you bring up work. "I'd hate to keep the Captain waiting on her repayment."


"So even after getting in a prosthetic I still have to take it easy? Great, this pretty much means no magic either. Can't do anything."
Cloud grumbles.

Cloud sits up slightly now that the cocoon is opened, reaching up for the eyepatch, but stopping as he looks at the goop on him still.
"Do you have a towel or something I can use?"

Cloud lowers back a bit, cowering ever so slightly under the glare.
"A-Alright, I'll be sure to give you first call. …So you saved my eye right, like I paid for?"

"Don't know how many ponies could be scared by this, but at least the eyepatch fits the look."
Cloud pauses for a moment.
"Does anypony have a mirror?"
He asks, now that everypony else is entering.

"Thanks, and yea. It'll match my mane at least."

Cloud sits back up a little.
"I think I'm fine enough."


"Sweet! Food time!" She gives the dogs a happy wave before eating. She has trouble using the chopsticks, so adopts the Skewer Method as she eats somewhat noisily.



"Oh, I'm sure you'll be able to make it worth my while," Cutlass says with a coy smile.


"We don't have to do the same job as him," Cutlass says with a dismissive hoof wave. "In fact, it would be more worth my while if he did the jobs I didn't want."


"Of course they'll be scared!" Cutlass says as if she's consoling you. "Now you look battle-hardened. A pony who has been through a great deal of damage and still survived. That's someone no one wants to mess with."


"I still have my ears you know."
Cloud chimes in flatly as Cutlass says the garbage jobs will go to him.

"…I can see that idea, though I still don't think I strike too much fear without my wings."


Alder reaches over and pats Cloud's shoulder softly, and offers a somewhat eager chirp. "Well… shall we find work, then? I know you won't take it, but you could take a part of my share. You do a lot for us."

"Well, working together could make them a lot easier, yes?"



"Hmm," Cutlass ponders as she rests her cheek on her hoof lazily. "It's true. A batpony without wings is just… tragic."


"True enough. Let's go see if there's some bounty or something."


Cutlass heads to the job listings they saw earlier.


The kimono-wearing dogs bow in response to your wave, then quickly get back to work, barking at one another in Japonese as they fill various other customer's orders. One of the smaller dogs gives you a judgmental look as he notices your lack of skill with chopsticks.

While you eat, you notice that the joint has an open space in the floor, opening out to the ocean. Various seaponies float in the space, eating their own sushi. One of the dogs tosses a plate of sushi out into the water, and a moment later, you see the school of yellow and black fish rise to the surface, munching eagerly on their order. They wave your way as they eat.

Chiu looks subtly worried now, harboring worries about your meaning, but then sharply salutes. "Whatever you say, Captain."

Dorado nods, passing you a towel. He then retrieves a glass jar from the nearby counter. You see that it is a simple work of magitech, a jar with a metal top and bottom, and a kind of battery attached to the side. Inside, suspended in a viscous fluid, is your eyeball, gray and lifeless. "Don't worry about it running out of power. These new magnetite batteries are gonna last you a good year, so that's plenty of time to raise some sweet, sweet funds."

Sickly Sweet retrieves a nearby mirror. You see that your right eye has light scarring all around it, particularly on the eyelid. The sapphire eye has been fitted into the socket nicely, resembling a real, biological eye, except a rich blue all around. Now and then, you get a glimpse of a small black shape swimming about on its surface.

"Definitely; some fresh air's going to do us some good after all that," Sickly Sweet says.
"Maybe you and I should go back to the ship, like Dorado recommended," Chiu says to Cloud. "Unless you really are feeling up to getting more work in?"

As you head outside and down the massive stone steps, you run into Droplet once more, who has a stack of papers under his arm. You see he has since finished his shaved ice and has procured a churro as well. "Captain! I've found some job listings for your consideration. How's Cloud doing?"


Cerulean, not overly interested in ship talk, sees her fish buddies and smiles wide.
"Friends!" She grabs her plate and heads towards them, joining them to eat.
"I see you found this place, too!"


"Fresh air, yes. Ocean air has a nice feeling to it." he says, before looking to Cloud to see his response.



"They have churros here!?" Cutlass exclaims in a tone that is a combination of tragic and excited before Droplet has a chance to speak. "They are so hard to come by!"

Upon being asked how Cloud is, she says, "Cloud seems to want to get to work. Like any good pirate, he recovers quickly. No time for lollygagging."

"So, what manner of jobs have you found? I hope they are suitably violent and adventurous." As she speaks, Cutlass' telekinesis lightly and quizically tugs on the churro. Not enough to actually take it from his grasp, but enough to get Droplet's attention.


"Alright, but I want to earn my bits from these jobs… however much as I can."

"I thought I'd be able to get them back pretty quick But hey, it'll pay off in the end."

Cloud takes the towel, sitting up as he wipes the slime off his body, face, and mane. He drops it into the cocoon as he stands up for the first time since the accident, wobbling a bit. His legs and body feel still from his lack of mobility and then being under only a few minutes ago, and then a head rush from lying down so long, raising a hoof to his temple.
"Ngh, ok, now I'm feeling a little sore."
He looks over at the jar with his eye floating inside, feeling sick at seeing his organ out of his, looking away, though he looks back as he has to take it.
"…Do you have a cover or something for this?"

Cloud looks over as Sickly hands him a mirror, taking it in his hoof as he looks at his new eye. He grimaces as well, seeing the scarring and the odd sight of a gem in his head. Though, the shine on it does look nice, and not a scare like Cutlass put it. He looks side to side, slowly moving his eye to see it moving around just as if it was his own.
"Wow, it's like I was born with it. …I could get used to this look. Remind me to thank Cerulean again when we meet up with her."
Cloud comments, then pauses as he sees the black shape. He brings the mirror closer, a bit worried something might have gotten in there as he tries to spot whatever it s floating there, though it being rather difficult as he can only see with his other eye.

"Maybe…" Cloud says to Chiu as he stares in the mirror for the speck, "But I at least need a little walk. Or a shower to wash this stuff off. I feel all sticky now."


The fish swarm your way while making short work of their dishes.
"Of course! Course!" the fish say in tandem, speaking over one another as usual. "Could smell it from a mile away. Good stuff! Stuff! Fresh caught! Very skilled cooks! Skilled cooks! Need to get stronger to hunt down the fishing vessel! Vessel! What you up to?"

Droplet, noticing the tug on the churro, pulls it back, fixing you with a look much like a dog would give to another dog that's trying to sneak up on their food bowl while they're eating. "There's quite a few food carts out and about, Captain," he says testily. "They're quite affordable, too, so that people can buy their own."

That settled, he passes over the stacks of papers. "Good, good. Perhaps he can find something suitable out of these."

As you look through the jobs, the following catch your eye:
>"Wanted: One to two experienced pickpockets to help train my new students with live practice. 300 Bits for the day's help. Serious inquiries only. Please apply in person at the Guard's Guild with Schrodinger."
>"Looking for a sparring partner for a new Aura Ability. Not responsible for any injuries or medical expenses! Meet me at the Coop's Stoop. Ask for Waratah at the counter. Pay is 400 Bits for the day."
>"Pleaz helf me finde my lawst pet. Will pay 200 Bits and cookies."

The last one appears to be written in crayon.

"What, you want it frickin' gift wrapped or somethin'?" Dorado asks. "At least let me get another look at that eye so I can run some tests!"
"No, no – I'll hide it in my bag," Chiu offers.

Sickly Sweet and Chiu reach out to help Cloud walk.
"If you're feeling up for it, let's see if we can get some easy jobs, nothing too serious," Chiu says.
Sickly Sweet collects the stretcher. "I'll be heading back to the ship to put this away. Alder, I trust you to keep an eye on Cloud. If you need my supplies, you know where to find me."


At first you don't find any contact information on the last sheet, then as you flip it over you find a Conch Code for someone named Sparrow.



"…I see," she says. "I think I am of a similar mindset. I believe in the power of Fate, but I do not think it is something any of us can control, or manipulate. The way I see it, Fate is Fate. Whatever shall be, shall be. There is no way to twist around it. It is the way of things."

She looks idly at the hanging charms. "You will excuse me if I pass on claiming a charm, then. I would prefer to have my Fate revealed to me, in due time. There are others among my companions that may feel otherwise, however. Would you be opposed to me telling them of you? They are trustworthy in this, at least. They would not dare to call the hunters on you, or me."


"Of Course, I understand."

"I-I promise, Miss Sweet! I will be watchful." he chirps, fluttering his wings a little bit.



Cutlass points at Droplet for a second, but straightens out her demeanor.

"Well now," she says as she looks through the jobs. "Sparring someone with new Aura powers sounds interesting. Could even help me with my own."

"I'll be heading to this Coop's Stoop, then," she says, going there now.


Cloud says to Chiu, handing the jar over. He then picks up the eyepatch, putting it on to cover his eye.

Cloud walks out of the office as Sickly and Chiu help him keep steady as he gets back to being on his hooves, but stops in the doorway a second.
"Hey, like I said. If anything happens I'll give you a call. But, if I change my mind, I'll expect some compensation for it."
Cloud says to get a last word in before they exit.

Once outside, Cloud takes a deep breath of fresh air. A chill runs through him though as the breeze blows over his damp coat from the goop.
"Feels good to be out of there. If that was the best doctor here, I really don't want to see what the bad ones are like."

Cloud nods to Sickly.
"Thanks for the help. I'll be sure to keep it easy."
Then he turns to Chiu.
"Yea, I really don't want to lay back down."

Cloud looks over to Cutlass as they come outside.
"Find anything good?"



"Gonna spar some aura user," Cutlass says, as she waves goodbye.


"Have fun then."


Gullveig smugly snorts. "Well, you haven't seen me demonstrate the contrary on that first part. Of course, magic doesn't work if you don't believe it works; there's no point in trying to force my traditions and practices upon your own, as they would have no benefit to you."

She then considers your proposal. "If you trust them enough, then I see no harm in it."

From a heavy wooden drawer stuffed with knickknacks, Gullveig produces another curling, flower-shaped key, just like the one she used to enter the room. "Use this to unlock any door with a keyhole, and it shall bring you here. It goes without saying, but do try to be subtle about it. Should this key fall into the hands of one with a closed mind, that would be the end of me… though not before it ends up being the end of several witch-hunters," she adds with a smug little hooting laugh.

"The best of luck to you, Captain. I've still got to deliver Alder's shaved ice, so I'll catch up with you later," Droplet says, taking a big bite of his churro.

"Fine, fine, we'll negotiate prices at the time," Dorado grumbles. "Thanks for the business, though. And take care of that eye!"

Alder, Cloud, Chiu and Sparkler end up meeting with Cutlass once more, coming together as a group before the large billboard by the docks. Droplet then waves, coming up with a stack of papers. "Yo. Good to see you're back on your hooves, Cloud. I've heard you want work, so this is what I've rustled up. Apparently, there's other stuff at the Labor Office in the middle of town."

He passes you the stack of papers from earlier.

Droplet also passes you a bowl of bright orange shaved ice. It looks to be pineapple flavored.

After parting ways with Droplet, you head across town, following the billboard's map to the bar known as Coop's Stoop. You quickly reach it, finding it a squat, sun-baked adobe hut with a plethora of mounts (mostly emu and ostritches) parked outside. A magitech signpost hangs over the entrance, flashing a neon illustration of a diamond dog brandishing a broken barstool leg as a weapon.

Inside, the bar is spacious, packed with pirates, and hot with the smoke of cigarettes. As you step into the bar, a distinct feel of Aura comes over you, sending subtle vibrations all along your body. Oddly, it makes you crave a drink. At the counter, you see a tall black beetle rubbing around some dirt on the counter, humming a mariachi tune under his breath.


"Oh, I just signed up for an expedition for sunken stuff. And the guy running it was nice enough to invite me and some friends of mine to lunch." She finishes her sushi around the same time they finish theirs.
"And yeah, these guys do make really good stuff! I don't get how you're supposed to eat with these fancy pieces of driftwood, but oh well."


"Ahhh," the fish say as a whole as you present the chopstick problem. "They are biased in favor of those with digits, like dogs. Here."
One of the fish takes the two chopsticks, holding them with his fin to demonstrate the proper technique. It's not quite clear how he's got the dexterity to hold that, but he does it nonetheless. "You see? You try!"



"I'd appreciate it if you DIDN'T use mental Aura on me," Cutlass comments to the beetle before she gets down to business. "Nice business strategy, though."

"Anyway, I saw a job posting for a sparring partner for someone who wanted to practice their new aura powers? Know anything about that?"

As she talks, her eyes glow slightly silver.

>Soul Vision on Beetle Bartender


"I meant no offense," Thessaly replies calmly. "Of course there is merit to your powers. What I meant was that I do not believe it should be done. Fate, to me, is something beyond us of flesh and blood. Tampering with the natural order of things is… dangerous."

She takes the key with a gracious bow. "Rest assured, I have dealt with a fair share of hunters myself. I have gotten by long enough hiding in plain sight back in Aristar. Your secret is safe with me. One witch to another." She secretly doesn't like the term, but it is what is most commonly used.

"Now. One thing before I take my leave." She turns to the armored scarecrow, who is presumably nearby. "Sir Knight, tell me more about those thugs you mentioned earlier." She is mildly curious, and secretly itching to teach some ruffians a lesson, though she would never admit it.


"Thanks Droplet. Feels good to move again."
Cloud takes the papers as they're passed over, looking over them.
"This one looks easy enough, and it's perfect for me."
Cloud says, pulling out the lost pet offer and handing the papers to Alder.
"And it even comes with a snack. Though, they don't say where to go…"
Cloud looks over the paper, noticing the conch code on the back after a few seconds. He pulls out his conch and call up this Sparrow who put out the job.


Alder leans in and sniffs the shaved ice, before biting out a small chunk. "Oooh, that's rather nice! I rarely have anything like this."

"Hrm… looking for a lost pet? Seems doable." the griffon remarks, before pulling out the pickpocketing offer. "I could… possibly help with this one, yes. Perhaps we should call up the others and see if they have seen any jobs of note?"


Cerulean stares in slight awe, then attempts to try and replicate their chopstick technique.

>How well she do?


Roll #1 8 = 8


"Sounds good. We could probably line up a few jobs for the day to get a nice bag of bits pretty quick."


"Ah, but that's the beauty of it," the beetle says, his voice like the clicking and clacking of claws. "That wasn't my ability. That's the bar itself doing the work for me; that's what we call an Aura Field."

Upon examination of his soul, it looks like this beetle was once a renowned wrestler in the prime of his youth. You see him standing in the middle of a circular ring, triumphant as he stands tall, having just thrown his opponent across the room into the audience seats. The vision shifts, and you see a young Vola, a crow-like person, standing in the ring across from the beetle. They spar, with the beetle trying to grip the crow Vola in his claws, and the Vola doing the same with his hands. Just as the beetle lifts the Vola into the air, the Vola reverses it, knocking the beetle off balance and tossing him out of the ring instead, defeating him.

After the vision ends, the beetle nods. "Ah, I see you found Waratah's listing. He's upstairs in the back. Just don't sneak up on him. Kid's jumpy."

"Oh, relax, I've got a tougher hide than that," Gullveig says with a wink. "I would agree, to an extent. These arts and their charms are suitable only for those who are willing to take the responsibility of their chosen Fate. It is as you say; the costs are a severe danger to all those surrounding them."

The scarecrow nods. "Some scum from the local gangs. Manenhi is where the rest of Agyl Island comes to dump its undesirables. Most of them come together into little gangs that get their pay by taking it from others around them – often the homeless who are tossed here as well. These thugs tend to group up at Coop's Stoop when they're not out kicking others around. There's three, all of them are scorpion-form Krikral – hence their name, the Bark Scorpions. You'll know them by their appearance, and by the stinger tattoos they etch into their carapaces."

You manage to hold onto the chopsticks and even pick up a bit of sushi with it, holding it expertly. The fish all cheer as you get it right, swimming about in a miniature frenzy as they totally forego the use of chopsticks and just eat like maniacs. "Good job! Good job!" they say.

As Cloud calls the Conch Code, it sounds out the ocean's waves for a little while before anyone answers. "H-hello?" a female voice answers, sounding young, with a certain rawness that comes after crying for a while.


Cloud feels some heartache as he hears the young voice answer, all rough from crying.
"Hello. My name is Cloud. I saw you need your pet found, and I want to help."


"Sweet! Thanks for showing me, guys. Enjoy yourselves, and good luck finding your friends. I better go see if they're done talking about…stuff that was kinda boring to listen to." She smiles and gives her school of friends high fives/fins before returning to the table with Bee Holder, Bent Scales, and Kukulcan.


"Just three? Hardly a gang. Pretentious little pucks, are they not." She rubs her chin. "These Bark Scorpions. Are they affiliated with any of the larger gangs? And, why do the authorities not do anything about such louts?"



"Thank you," Cutlass says with a nod.

She steps lightly as she makes her way upstairs. She grimaces at the patrons and general feeling of the bar. With every step, she worries she'd get something unsavory on her hooves.

Upon reaching the top, she looks around for Waratah. [1d10] if necessary

Roll #1 1 = 1


"Do you think you could handle that one on your own, or would you like my help? If not, there's one that catches my eye."


"I can handle it. Finding a pet will be easy, especially with my hearing. You can go do your job."


"Oh, someone found my job!" the voice exclaims. "I'm Sparrow, nice to meet you. It's my pet sunlight tortoise. I let someone from the Bark Scorpion gang earn some spending money by taking him for a walk, but he got loose and ran away, so I need someone to find him."
Sparkler cringes as she hears the voice. "Oh, I can't take this job. This hurts…" she mumbles, looking truly hurt as Sparrow explains the details. "I'll have to go do something with the others. Can you handle this on your own?"

"Well, that's the worst part – it's not that the authorities don't do anything, it's that they employ them," the Knight of Crowsbane says. "It's an open secret that the Maize House, who oversee all of Agyl Island's commerce, has the street gangs on their payroll to control petty crime. The lowest-level gangs like the Bark Scorpions answer to other, more powerful gangs, whose leaders in turn are the Maize House's enforcers. People who talk about it or worse, try to petition the Haku to put a stop to this, have a bad tendency to go missing. They're like a mafia, but far less organized, and far less respectable."

"And the gangs seem to only target independent businesses, the ones that aren't affiliated with the Maize House," Gullveig adds with distaste. "Fancy that."

The fish all return your high fives with good cheer, each of them wishing you good luck as well.

Upon returning to the bar counter where Kukulcan sits with Bent Scales and Bee Holder. There's an atmosphere of good cheer among them, and they're laughing and even sharing sushi and glasses of sake.
"A deal then! The Beesting shall be counted among the fleet for the expedition! You agree?" Kukulcan asks.
Bee Holder grumbles for a moment, mulling this over, then downs a shot of sake, straight from the bottle. "Tempting… tempting… agh! Adventure calls, but I still need to consult my crew on this!"
Kukulcan wobbles for a moment, having evidently hit the sake bottle himself. "Ah… Cerulean! Enjoy your food?"

You head upstairs, hard pressed to avoid the bar's grime while also keeping that craving in the back of your mind. Up on the second floor, you pass by several rooms, until you come to a kind of gymnasium-like area, with a circular ring in the center, some free weights stacked in the corner, a punching bag, and a rack of towels. Nobody's around except for a young crow Vola, whom you see standing in the ring, wearing a white gi and a colorful red mask, stylized like a demon's face. His eyes are shut and hands are pressed together, in a posture of meditation.


Alder looks the pickpocketing deal over and hums, before heading for the Guard's Guild.


At first Cloud questions how a tortoise could run away, but this is a kid, losing pets is semi-expected for them.
"Well you're in luck, cause I won't stop until I find your tortoise and bring 'em back. So what does he look like, and where did he go for this walk so I know where to start?"
Cloud says in a confident tone to help raise their spirits.

He looks over at Sparkler as she mumbles.
"No problem, I got this. And Chiu's got my back anyways, so I'll be fine."
He says, assuming on why Sparkler can't help and not questioning it further.



"I see you're taking this whole training thing very seriously," Cutlass says from the entrance.

>Soul Sight on Waratah


"Lovely. It's almost worse than Aristar. At least if I do something with these Bark Scorpions, I'll be an outsider, so no one should get hurt. …Or, perhaps…" She recalls the bell Gullveig has on sale. "A disguise would not go astray…" She looks back to the Knight. "How much would the reward be? I do not have enough to afford it now, but if it is more than the Bell of Transformation is worth, I would ask to be able to take it, and deduct the cost from the winnings."


"Oh yeah! It was very, VERY good," she replies happily, glad to see everyone getting along. She watches him wobble around, looking confused as she doesn't feel the place rocking nor moving.
"Are…you all okay? *sniff* *sniff* And why does it smell like a tanker of cold medicine spilled here?"


You follow the map's directions across town and up some of the stairs, until you reach a tall and respectable looking white adobe tower, one with six floors in total. A sign hanging over the doorway indicates that it is indeed the Guard's Guild.

Inside, you find a rather clean looking first floor, one that is reminiscent of many guild houses you may have seen before, consisting of a mess hall and common area, with a front counter to greet guests. Many mercenaries and pirate-looking types sit in the common area toward the back, eating and drinking and chatting about recent jobs. At the front counter, a bored looking unicorn secretary sits, and waves you forward. "Welcome to the Guild. Posting a job or taking one?"

Sparkler nods with gratitude, then heads into the crowded streets in search of the others.
"His name is Malarkey, and he's got a yellow shell ringed with orange… about a foot and a half in diameter. Um, as for where he went… uh…" Sparrow pauses. "You know, I don't think the guy ever told me… or maybe I forgot. Sorry, when I heard Malarkey ran away, I couldn't really think about anything else. You could ask the gang themselves. They hang out at the Coop's Stoop, it's a bar on the western side of town. They've got tattoos that look like stingers on their forearms, that's how you'll know 'em."

When you examine his soul, two murky images appear before you, fuzzy and unclear. On the left, you see Waratah wearing the same lucha wrestler's mask and a pair of matching shorts and boots, leaving the rest of his body bare. He participates in a highly performative and dramatic lucha match before a crowd of hundreds, wrestling his opponent to submission to the deafening cheers of the audience.

On the right, you see him wearing no mask, but a white gi, practicing a slow martial art in silence and solitude before an ornate and magnificent looking stone temple. Nobody else is around, and he looks at peace.

As you speak, Waratah startles, and you realize how contradictory his current appearance looks, with both the mask and gi, a clashing of cultures. "Ah! H-hullo, did you want to use the gym? Sorry, I was just finishing up here, but I've already cleaned the equipment."

"It's a right bit more dangerous than the other job, so we'll give 550 Bits to you and whoever else helps put them in their place," the Knight says. "So, if you want the Bell on top of that, it'll be 400 Bits for you. Does that sound fair?"

Kukulcan steadies himself with a claw on the counter-top, then passes you an empty cup, and pours a bit of strong-smelling sake out of a nice white bottle. "Try it for yourself. We're just commemorating the future voyage!"

Bee Holder shakes her head. "Easy on that stuff if you haven't tried it before, Cerulean. I made the mistake of taking it and now Kukulcan's got me contemplating turning the Beesting into a submarine! Can you believe it? You think that's a good idea?"



"No, I'm here because of your job listing," Cutlass says, lifting an inquisitive eyebrow as she looks Waratah up and down, especially observing his clothing choices.

"You're really into martial arts, huh?" she pries, perhaps rudely.


"400 bits will be plenty." She nods deeply and moves to take the Bell. "I believe disguises would be a good option for me and whoever else of my companions wants to come along. That way, we may avoid becoming entangled with any other gangs, by way of concealing our identities. Is there aught else I should know about these Scorpions?"


"You don't need to apologize, I can only imagine what you've been through with this news. I'll go ask them now and find out where Malarkey went."
Cloud says, glancing around for a map.
"So where should him to once I find him?"

Cloud then, once a map is found and asking Chiu for a little help to spot one, heads off to Coop's Stoop to find these tattooed gangsters.


"Yes. I was supposed to look for a Schrodinger, I believe? Some job posting about pickpockets." the griffon says, holding up the paper for reference.


"Cerulean sniffs whats in the cup, making her snout cringe up slightly.
"Well…maybe? If we keep it after the expedition, I mean, then it could. Although," she tries a sip of the sake, coughing slightly as she feels the burn as it goes down, making her give a big exhale.
"Right…uhh…oh yeah, considering our luck lately with ship damage, it might be a bit kinda…extra risky?"


>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4


He relaxes as you bring up the job. "Oh, good! I was hoping someone would take it, I've had it up for a while but haven't gotten any takers."
He then nods, not noticing or perhaps caring about the rudeness. "It's what I love the most, though I've been having quite a bit of trouble with it lately. My Aura hasn't been working right for weeks, and I'm afraid I'm stuck at my current Breakpoint. If I don't overcome it soon, there could be serious backlash… so that's what I want someone to help me with, someone to push me over that point so I can get even stronger!"

The receptionist twirls a pen on his hoof. "I see, I see. He's currently training up on the upper floors. I'll give him a ring and get him right down."


The receptionist reaches for a caller conch, but just as he raises it to his ear, you detect a presence beside you, in the form of a tall, bipedal grasshopper Krikral. You see him twirling the Spellslinger on a foreclaw, and you cannot recall having felt him take it off your person. He twirls the gun, and then hands it back to you.
"You want to help train my students, hmm?" he asks. "Well alright, I think you'll do… they are beginners after all." He offers his claw. "I'm Schrodinger. You are?"

"Don't underestimate them just because they happen to be gutter punks," the Knight cautions. "In fact, lowest level thugs like them tend to be more desperate to keep their positions. They've got nowhere else to go if the Maize House kicks them out. Perhaps that can be something you can exploit. Otherwise, if you get into a fight, be wary of their use of poison."
The Knight then withdraws the Bell of Transformation from its display case, wrapping the ringer in velvet to keep it from ringing during transport, and gives it to you. "I wish you luck, and thank you."

"I'm not allowed to go too far into town, so…" Sparrow's voice grows nervous. "Just go somewhere discreet, by the edge of town, and I'll meet you there."
"And thank you, thank you for taking my job. I'll be praying that you can find him."
You and Chiu head for Coop's Stoop, while Droplet excuses himself, heading off into town in the same direction that Sparkler went. You eventually find the bar, as described in >>716562 (bottom reply).

Bee Holder scratches the side of her head, chuckling as you take down the sake. "Right, right… we'll want to have a carpenter give her a good look-over before we do… alright, I'll have to go pay Etch a visit, and see what he recommends. Kukulcan, you comin'?"
"Sadly, I've got business to attend to, crew to vet, riff-raff to chase off, that sort of thing," Kukulcan says, taking out a checkbook to pay for the meal. He turns your way. "Oh, but feel free to continue eating if you like, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have about the expedition."


Alder blinks once or twice, and snatches it back with a nervous smile "I-I suppose I might have gotten a little rusty- I haven't done as much as I used to, and pirates tend to be, ehm… inebriated, to put it lightly. I am Alder, of Tribe Frostclaw. The name surprised me a little when it came to the offer, though- From the look of it, are you more of a mercenary guild?" he asks, shaking Shrodinger's claw and smiling a bit.



Cutlass smiles. "I'm somewhat of a rookie with Aura myself. I've only had one breakpoint, I think. I don't really use it for combat. Not yet, anyway. I DO have some ideas, though."

"How many breakpoints have you had?" she asks as she telekinetically removes her hat. She shakes her head to let her usually balled up mane free of her hat. She places Sir Pent on the hat and gently places it to one side of the room so he doesn't get hurt.


Cerulean beams at being allowed to eat more, and simply tells the sushi dogs 'surprise me' as she'll likely eat just about anything to come out.
"Oh, I guess my question is: what are we exploring? I heard is was a sunken part of the city or something, but not much else. And what are we looking for?"


"Sure, no problem. And I'll find him before you know it."

Cloud walks through the town, enjoying the half-sights now that he can properly gaze at them as a tourist rather than being carried around in a daze.
"This place looks pretty nice."
Eventually he reaches the Stoop, stepping inside. His walk slows as the wave of Aura hits him, feeling the craving taste in his mouth.
"…Are you feeling that too?"
He asks Chiu, before looking around the bar for anypony with a stinger tattoo he can question.


She blinks, having an idea. "Perhaps an alternative form of employment would be enough to tempt them. I will have to check with the captain, of course… But no matter. One way or another, these lowlifes will be out of your hair." She takes the bell along with her other purchases, then heads for the door. Before leaving, she turns to face Gullveig and the Knight of Crowsbane. "Thank you for everything. It has been a pleasure getting to know you both. Until we meet again. May the wind be always at your back." She bows to them both respectfully and leaves the shop for now. First things first, she resolves to try and track down her companions. It feels like she's been in the shop forever. She makes her way back towards the skinshop, keeping an eye out for familiar faces along the way.
[1d10] Navigation

Roll #1 2 = 2


"Yup, we're usually commissioned for bodyguard jobs, but we've got all kinds of skills to pay the bills, which is good because the rent is killer and Maize House's taxes are even worse!" Schrodinger says. He pulls up a couple of chairs from a nearby table, offering you one.

"Anyway, let's get to business. I've got a couple of students whom I'm trying to pass on my thieving repertoire to, but they're having trouble with the 'real world experience' part. See, they were some oversocialized, shut in kids before they became my students, so they're still hung up on things like 'morality' and 'rule of law'," he says with sarcastic disdain. "What I need is for you to be a dummy for them, of sorts. I'm going to give you a ring, and it'll be their job to take it off you without you noticing, and bring it back to me. It'll be your job to be alert and punish any and all rookie mistakes. If you catch 'em, give 'em a smack and chase 'em a bit until they can shake you off. I want 'em to do three good rounds. Does that sound good to you?"

Waratah's eyes widen with interest and awe as he sees Sir Pent, but quickly gets his focus back on you. "I've only had two, myself, under two different teachers. I've been trying to synthesize what I've learned from them, but ever since I started doing that, my abilities have been harder and harder to use. It's like one of my limbs has gone numb, unresponsive… so I'm hoping that a good, challenging fight can get it going again."

Gullveig smiles. "You were the one to honor me," she says. "It's been an awfully long time since I've seen the old Runes, I almost couldn't believe that there were still others like me, practicing the old ways. May your hooves always find their way back home – until then, you are welcome here."

Gullveig shuts the door behind you once you return to the shop's main room. The front door, which she used to enter the hidden room, then opens again of its own accord, revealing the alleyway once more.

As you look for your companions, you catch sight of Cloud and Chiu heading along the docks, and eventually entering a bar labeled as the Coop's Stoop by the big magitech neon sign out front.

Chiu licks her lips, looking greedily at the bottles on display behind the bar, but as you bring up the Aura, she pauses. "Wait… you're right. That doesn't feel natural. Probably do it to sell more," she comments. "…Maybe I'll just get some water."
As you look around the bar, you see a trio of scorpion Krikral, bipedal and hulking, skulking around in the back, gathered around a kind of clockwork-magitech pinball machine, laughing and taunting one of them as he plays.


The dogs tighten their headbands, silently getting to work on your next course of sushi.

"It's a dead island – an Island Turtle that has died and sunk to the bottom of the ocean, taking with it the civilization that once lived atop its back," Kukulcan says. "I was the one to discover when my crew's Accompass, Two Reeds, found an ancient potsherd that didn't match up with any known sculpting style, but I didn't have the resources or manpower to complete an expedition there before now.

"Let me give you my background. My crew, the Thunder Serpent, are specialists in recovering the treasure of the ancient world! Not for our own personal gain, of course, but for the recovery of culture, of history! So much of the ancient world has tragically been lost to time, wiped out by cruel mother nature or by savage tribes and colonizers, both of whom mercilessly do whatever they can to conquer their foes – which means that so much of the Ribcage's past has been lost. There are many questions surrounding the Ribcage's existence. Where did the Island Turtles come from? Where are they going? What formed the Ribcage to begin with? We have good reason to believe that the ancients, who were far closer to the natural world than we so called 'civilzied people', may have known!

"Each of my crewmates specialize in a particular field of study. I personally take an interest in the forgotten religions of these lost cultures: their religious rites, their ceremonial garbs, but mostly, their gods and demons. I can sense it coming off you… you've encountered demons before, haven't you?"

As he asks this, two pulses echo within you – one within your chest, and another within your head, brinigng to mind the curse that Stone Cold Classic put on you, and the lantern creature you saw in your mind earlier.


"Ahh, I see. It can take a little bit to adjust to, I suppose… so, three rounds for each of them? Do they work together, or separate?" he asks, taking a seat and looking around a little.


"Yea, I wouldn't trust anything here if they need a ploy like that."
Cloud says, spotting the three scorpions.
"Huh, I was thinking this was an odd place for kids to be at. Wonder why some guys like this needed a pet walking job. I'll ask them about the turtle while you get your water."
Cloud says, parting ways as he walks over to the trio. He looks over from behind at their pinball game, then taps one that isn't playing on the back.
"Hey, I heard you guys lost a yellow tortoise a while ago. Where was that so I can go find it."



Cutlass looks at Waratah with an amused expression when he seems surprised by Sir Pent. "What? It's just a snake," she says with a half-laugh.

"Let me guess," she says as she stretches her legs a little bit. "One teacher taught you wrestling, and the other karate or tai chi or something? It sounds to me like you're on the right track. Find a way to make a new fighting style. Make the two fit together, not just in moves, but in mentality. I'm… living through a similar… dilemma. Not really about fighting, but just trying to make two mentalities fit. Unfortunately, it's hard to be a pirate while emulating high society… Both have a certain greed to them, so there's something in common. But, that's the worst aspect of both things…"

Cutlass blushes a little bit. "I-I'm sorry, I'm rambling. Forget it."

"So, how do you want to do this?" she asks, quickly trying to change the subject. "How violent are we getting? Because, full disclosure, I fight with knives. Also, I just spent all my money getting a matey a new eye, so I'd rather not have to spend all of my pay for this job on getting myself fixed up."


"Huh…that's actually neat. To be honest, I've explored sunken ships and stuff, but never cared about them unless I was looking for a new place to crash for a bit."

Cerulean holds her chest and shakes her head with a slight groan.
"A bit, yeah. A genie or something and this possessed lantern thing. I like the lantern: its about as hungry as I am lately."


She clutches her new belongings close, concealing them in her pockets as she strolls the streets. Spotting the two near the Stoop, she recalls the Knight mentioning the Scorpions hanging out here often. She surveys the crowd quickly for any trace of them before heading in eagerly, greeting her friends.

"Cloud," she says in greeting, seemingly materializing out of nowhere as far as the bat pony is concerned. "Miss Chiu," she adds, nodding hello to her.

"Fancy running into one another like this. How did the procedure go?"


Cloud turns in a starting as Thessaly approaches him out of nowhere.
"Whoa! Hey Thessaly, where'd you come from?"
He asks.
"Oh, it went pretty well. Turns out I'm a great healer since the procedure finished in record time."
Cloud flips up his eye-patch, showing his new sapphire eye to her.


"Fascinating," she says, examining the new eye closely. "…I thought we did not have the money for a new eye, only removing the old one. Where did this magical contraption come from?"


"Since it's technically a prosthetic, we had enough money to get this in," Cloud explains, "Cerulean gave it to me before she went off to explore the city. She said it was called the Eye of Wisdom, but that's all I know."


"No, three rounds for the both of them," Schrodinger clarifies. "That's another thing they need to learn: teamwork. It's been a problem for the both of them ever since I took them in. They're orphans, you see, and the loss of their parents has been quite rough on them and their relationship. If they can't get it together to work on a simple pickpocketing job, they've got to start from lesson zero all over again."

The Guard's Guild has a rather rough and tumble atmosphere, made by all the rough looking characters around, but in a way, there's a kind of atmosphere of camraderie and familiarity among them as they eat and talk. It looks like many of them are poor, wearing beaten up armor and torn clothes, but they seem content.

Chiu spins about as you approach. "Hey, Thessaly! I was just headed for the bar, fancy a drink?"

The scorpion looks back your way with a grunt, then shrugs. "Dunno what you're talkin' about, champ. Shove off."
Abruptly, he turns back to the pinball game.

"Perhaps this expedition will give you an opportunity to branch out with those exploration skills!" Kukulcan says. "Dangerous work, but lots of money to be had in it. Though, if I may be so humble, I do it for the love of discovering one more what has been lost and discarded. It makes me feel like I'm discovering more and more of myself."

He laughs. "Oh, I know I've had too much to drink if I'm getting corny like that. I better cut myself off! You enjoy yourself all you like, though, don't mind me."

The dogs pass you a fresh round of sushi.

"He looks cool, though! Never seen one like him," Waratah says regarding Sir Pent.

"No, no, I like to listen to rambling!" he says. "You're right; I was taught in both the Lucha style, and the Rèfēng style. Both are native to Agyl Island, but couldn't be more different. The former is from the southern end of the island, while the latter originated in the mountains to the north. Unfortunately, those differences are making it pretty hard to figure out where they come together. They couldn't be more different in temperament, in discipline, in philosophy… it's not easy to see how they're supposed to come together."

"Knives…?" he asks with a gulp. "I guess if you insist, I can deal with that. I need to be pushed to my limit to overcome a Breakpoint, so yeah… you really will have to fight to hurt me. I'll try not to return the favor, though! Uh… does the gym work for you as an arena? I'd… rather not anyone see us."


"Oh, don't worry, I'm used to dangerous stuff. Work or otherwise." She tosses a piece in the air for Roger to snack on.
"And well, I can't say I got the best exploration skills. Though getting to see new and historical stuff, maybe it could be nice to do. I've been meaning to…oh, what do they call it…expanding the horizon or something?"


"Hey, it's a simple question."
Cloud responds as the scorpion shrugs him off. Luckily he knows the way to deal with these kind of ponies. Cloud steps around the trio, walking to the side of the game and putting his hoof over the window to obstruct their view.
"Look, you want to play your game, I want to get going. Just tell me where you were walking that tortoise, and I'll be out of your… uh, whatever you guys have."
>Persuasion [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4


"I see." She stares into the sapphire eye for a slightly uncomfortable amount of time. "It is good that we have crossed paths. I have…" She looks around to make sure no one is listening in first, lowering her voice a little. "I have found a fellow sorceress, here in the city. An incredibly skilled magician by the name of Gullveig. She has many things for sale that you and the others may find of interest. And, she has appointed me a task too, of dealing with a trio of local ruffians however I see fit. 550 for each one involved. …If you and the others are not busy, I see this as a good opportunity to make some money. As long as we keep our heads down and use disguises, that is."

She gives Chiu a small smile. The cheery young mare has grown on her some since they met. "A margarita, if you would. Thank you."


"I can understand that. I worked with others from time to time, but I found that having a prehensile tail served as a partner enough at times." he comments, flicking his tail and humming. "It does seem like everyone gets along rather well, here- I imagine teamwork would be important for any jobs they find themselves on in the future. Anywho… I will do my best. Hopefully I can shake the rust off and give them a good test."


Cloud starts to get a little uncomfortable as Thessaly stares into his eye, flipping the eye-patch back down after a few seconds.
"Really? Wouldn't hurt to take a look after I get some bits."
Cloud muses at the prospect of a magic shop.
"Dealing, like as in fight them? I don't know, I'm supposed to take it easy… But I could use a little Aura or magic to help you out with that, after I finish this other job. I need to find a kid's lost tortoise."
Cloud pauses.
"Disguises? Why?"



"He's really cute," Cutlass says lovingly as she looks over toward Sir Pent.

"Yeah," Cutlass says, this works fine. She steps up to him in the center of the gym. "Hope they're okay with a little blood. Cause, you know, I may be a beautiful young mare, but I'm also-"

Cutlass interrupts herself as a dagger comes whizzing out of her dress toward the joint of his wing. [1d10] single weapon attack

"You know, a pirate," she says with an innocent grin.

Roll #1 10 = 10


"Understandable. Perhaps it is best if you do not fight them yourself, then. Do you know where the others are? They may be more interested."

"We would need disguises because, even though they are brutes, they are affiliated with some of the gangs on this island. Making ourselves known may cause trouble further down the line. Thus, concealing our identities would help with that."

"A lost tortoise? How quaint. Tell me more," she asks idly, seeming slightly amused.


Chiu whistles. "Damn, I was gonna get myself some water, but hey, I like where you're going with this! Coming right up."

As you cover up the screen, the lead scorpion panics, swinging the flippers wildly. He mistimes the press, and ends up causing the ball to fall down the center hole. He leans back, making a long sigh, then looks down at you and leans in. "We sold it. And we can sell you too if we want… wanna find out?"

Schrodinger laughs. "Sounds like you're no amateur, I like it. Now here, take this."
He reaches into a pocket on his coat and retrieves a ring with a small ruby on the end. "Hide it anywhere you like and head out into town. It'll be their job to get it back three times. Each time it goes missing, head back here for the next round. Like I said, they're beginners, so I won't have them come out and greet you, just to give 'em a little handicap. Ideally, you won't ever find out what they'll look like."

"That's the right attitude!" Kukulcan says, clapping you on the back. "You're either growing or you're dying; a life in which you don't push yourself on to new heights and to new horizons is no life at all! If nothing else, I hope this expedition can do that for you."
He rises to his feet, and leaves the check. "Regrettably, I can't stay longer; I've got to check in with Two Reeds about some applicants who came by yesterday. Let me leave you my Conch Code, however. I'll be in touch with you if any new developments come up, and you can ring me up if you've got questions or want to pass along more of your crew my way."

He writes down his Conch Code and hands it to you, then offers his hand to shake.

Caught off guard, Waratah stumbles backward as the knife hits him square in the joint, falling back before the expression of shock can even manifest. He lays there for a moment, biting his tongue between his beak, then gets up without a word. You can see hesitation on his face as he tries to process this, but he puts himself into a fighter's stance and throws his arms up. "J-just what I wanted!" he manages to stammer out.


He leaps forward and tries to tackle you, arms spread wide.


Roll #1 7 = 7


"Cutlass went off to go fight some guy, Alder took a thief training job, and the others went off to various places."
Cloud explains.
"Really? Are they that bad we'd need disguises given how big our crews are?"

Cloud keeps in his defiant, pin-ball blocking pose as the scorpion leans in. Now he has an answer to why they're walk a kids pet, they're scum.
"Alright, just tell me who you sold it to then."
Cloud says, not backing down.
>Persistence [1d10]

("Droplet got us some job fliers, and one was from a kid.")
Cloud takes out the crayon written flier and shows it to Thessaly.
("She said some guys took her tortoise for a walk and lost it, and I found it was these guys and now I'm getting them to talk.")
Cloud whispers, pointing to the scorpion trio as he faces them down.

Roll #1 8 = 8



"Come on, now!" Cutlass goads him on. "You can't just stop after being hit once! You expect me to stop!?" she says mostly to get him to attack because she feels bad for hitting someone not fighting back.

"That's better!" she exclaims as she realizes not SHE'S taken off guard.

She quickly whips out another knife, and slashes at him with both.

>Dual attack [1d10] [1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 7 = 7


"I imagine you will either describe me to them, or they might already be watching… a handicap seems fair, though." the griffon remarks, taking the ring in his fingers and tucking it into his wing. He hops up on to all fours, and offers a short wave. "Right. I hope they learn to work together, then."

The griffon tries to remain aware as he exits, even before leaving the building itself. It wouldn't do to let them get the drop on him before he even left, would it?

>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2


She follows Cloud's gaze, eyes widening a little as she spots the three scorpions. "The men of the hour," she says quietly, and hesitates before sauntering over herself. No chance of jumping them with disguises at this point, especially when it looks like they're itching to fight Cloud. She joins the bat pony in confronting them.

"Gentlemen. There is no need for violence," she says calmly, trying not to show her latent detest for the thugs. "Simply tell us what we want to hear, and this can all be resolved easily. There is no need for bloodshed." She's hoping they don't listen to her so she can teach them a lesson.
[1d10] Persuasion

Roll #1 8 = 8


"Its all good. Thanks you so much for the food, oh, and letting us take part!" She happily reaches out and shakes his hand once she puts his Conch Code in a secure spot.


Waratah powers through the slashes, before he grabs you by the horn and the forearm, and sweeps out your hind legs with a low kick, before tossing you at the ropes surrounding the ring, which you bounce off with a twang.

>Cutlass 5/5

Waratah awkwardly changes his stance and leaps at you, feet-first, doing a theatric kick. "I-I-I expect you to earn your pay!" he stammers out again. You see his hands trembling as he says this.


Schrodinger smiles. "If they've got any sense, then I've got a feeling they might already know their mark. We'll see how it plays out."

As you exit the building and head back out into the street, your immediate impression is of being watched intently, though you can see nobody in the crowds among you who might be the source of it. Nothing happens to you, though, and you still retain the ring. You can tell you're dealing with amateurs by how clear the presence is.

"Bugger off," the lead scorpion snarks again. "We don't snitch. Just get 'em another one, who cares? You can get any kind of pet on the Black Market, or hell, even just at the Faire Trade."

With that, Kukulcan collects his coat and departs, waving as he goes. The dogs bow to him as he leaves, and a bus-puppy comes and collects his and Bee Holder's and Bent Scales' plates.

Roll #1 6 = 6



Cutlass looks at Waratah with a dropped jaw as if she's just been wrong or violated. "Di-did you just grab me by my HORN?"

She lightly touches her horn and looks around the room like with a half-smirk-half-dropped-jaw like she can't believe what just happened. "Oh, you're gonna get it now!"

>Using two bonus points this turn

>Dual attack [1d10+2] [1d10+2]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11


"Because, I took on the task of getting their pet back, so I'm getting that exact tortoise back. Think about it this way, you're not snitching, you're just giving them another customer."
Cloud says to try and coerce them, but then he looks back at the table. While Dorado said to take it easy, a little bit of magic won't hurt. His eye glows orange, with a soft blue light under his eye-patch glowing as well as he tries to grow the pinball just a little bit so it get's stuck in the machine, making the game essentially unplayable for the time being to make them talk.
>Wax/Wane [Pinball] [1d10+1]
"Now will you talk?"

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6


Alder tries his best to look unaware of the two pairs of eyes watching him- he wants to give them a bit of time to plan things out. Mulling things over in his head, he decides to make for a decent-sized crowd and see how well they can follow him.
>What do I roll for that? Perception? Stealth? Master Thief? [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4


"It would not be the same. You would know this if you had a soul," she says coldly. "We're going to ask politely one last time. Who bought it?"
[1d10] Persuade

Roll #1 7 = 7


You stumble backwards once Waratah comes in for the kick, but manage to remain upright, keeping your sturdy footing.

>Cutlass 4/5

Waratah looks up, and is beset with slashes, causing him to bleed quite a bit. He stumbles backward and falls to a knee, gasping lightly and holding in his breath. "This isn't working… it's still not… coming to me. Why not?" he asks as he looks at his hand. A faint layer of purple Aura comes to the surface, but it's faint and non-functional, causing him much distress.

He rises once more, despite his injuries, and goes in for another grab!


>Master Thief works

You join a crowd that heads downward down the streets toward the docks, and as you get about halfway down the great staircase that connects the various layers of town, you feel someone brush against you, heading in the opposite direction. A moment later, you realize that the ring is gone. You can't see who took it, though.

The scorpions glower with annoyance at the stopped up pinball machine, and at Thessaly for her attempts at intimidating them. After a short staredown, the lead scorpion spits on the ground.

"Check behind the sushi joint, the one outside the docks. You'll know him when you see him," he says with venom.


Roll #1 9 = 9

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