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/q/ - Quest

ADVENTURE!
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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.

 No.715159

>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.

>Everyone


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.

 No.715160

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>715159
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.

 No.715161

>>715160
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.

 No.715162

>>715159
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!"

 No.715163

>>715159
>>715160
>>715161
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.

https://pastebin.com/HZDtCp5g

 No.715164

>>715159
>>715160

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

 No.715165

>>715159
https://pastebin.com/FG7PKshS

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.

 No.715166

>>715165
>>715164
>>715163
>>715162
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?"

 No.715167

>>715166

"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."

 No.715168

>>715167
"Absolutely not!" Chiu snaps, giving you a poisonous glare. Yet just as quickly, she backs down and shakes her head. "Sorry, I…"

 No.715169

>>715168

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.

 No.715170

>>715161
>>715166
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.

>>715164
"Great…"
Cloud groans. It's hard to tel if he's being sarcastic, or was appreciative.

 No.715171

>>715166
>>715167
"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.

>>715170
"I-I will cover whatever cost there is to restore your eyes. I apologize for failing you, Mister Cloud."

 No.715172

>>715171

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

 No.715173

>>715171
"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."

 No.715174

>>715166
"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.

>>715167
"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.

 No.715175

>>715166
>>715170
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.

 No.715176

>>715175
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."

 No.715177

>>715174

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

 No.715178

>>715173
"I-It is a lot." he says, with a huff. "Your wings are important and you deserve to have them."

 No.715179

>>715177
"Some," she answers vaguely.

 No.715180

>>715169
>>715170
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."

>>715170
>>715169
>>715171
>>715174
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axUhLTD19xo
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?"

>>715175
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.

 No.715181

>>715179

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!"

 No.715182

>>715180
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.

 No.715183

>>715180

"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?"

 No.715184

>>715180
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."

>>715181
"I did not say it was to my liking," she deadpans.

>>715183
"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.

 No.715185

>>715184

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

 No.715186

>>715180
"C-Can you fix eyes? I will pay for it, if you can." the griffon blurts out, wringing his talons together and squirming.

 No.715187

>>715180
"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.

 No.715188

>>715183
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.

>>715184
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.

>>715182
>>715183
>>715184
>>715186
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."

>>715187
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.

 No.715189

>>715188
"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?"

 No.715190

>>715189
"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."

 No.715191

>>715190
Fresh Skin Procedure*

 No.715192

>>715188
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.

 No.715193

>>715188

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.

 No.715194

>>715193
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.

 No.715195

>>715188
>>715192
"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."

 No.715196

>>715188
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.

 No.715197

>>715194

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

 No.715198

>>715190
"I understand. I am sorry you were cheated, then. I suppose we will need to make as much money as I can…"

>>715196
"I think I have seen one, actually. He was a very pleasant person. The 'monster' I fought at the carnival?"

 No.715199

>>715195
"I'm just worried about this getting treated now. We can worry about the rest later when I can think clearly."

 No.715200

>>715192
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."

>>715197
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?"

>>715198
>>715195
>>715192
"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."

>>715196
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.

 No.715201

>>715200

"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!?"

 No.715202

>>715200
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.

 No.715203

>>715200
"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."

>>715200
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?"

 No.715204

Chaos, chaos!
[1d100]

Roll #1 46 = 46

 No.715205

>>715200
>>715203
"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?"

 No.715206

>>715200
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.

 No.715207

>>715201
"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."

>>715203
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.

>>715205
"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."

>>715206
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."

>>715202
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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPArO-OI_3U

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.

>>715203

 No.715208

>>715207

"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?"

 No.715209

>>715203
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.

 No.715210

>>715207
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."

 No.715211

>>715207
"Thanks."
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.

>>715209
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.

 No.715212

>>715207
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.

>>715211
>>715205
>>715207
"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."

 No.715213

>>715207
"Hrm.. definitely a problem. It seems like most of the politics here seem confusing." the griffon remarks, rubbing his head.

>>715212
"Look for jobs? I am sure we could find at least a few well-paying jobs, if we look."

 No.715214

>>715212
"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."

 No.715215

Oh boy, here we fucking go
[1d100]

Roll #1 40 = 40

 No.715216

>>715208
"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?"

>>715210
"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."

>>715211
"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."

>>715215
The cocoon very nearly comes close to hitting the corner pocket, but it fails to, instead bouncing just a hairsbreadth short.

>>715212
>>715213
>>715211
>>715208
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."

 No.715217

>>715211
>Before you leave
Dorado then blinks. "Oh, you meant the ones I have in stock."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt5R8ElvWPI

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.

 No.715218

>>715216
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."

 No.715219

>>715216
The cocoon failing to hit the corner ruins her day immeasurably.

>>715213
>>715216
"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."

>>715214
"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."

>>715216
>>715208
She furrows her brow as she sees the strange pegasus dressed like Godot, giving Cutlass a questioning look.

 No.715220

>>715216
>>715217
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!
>>715218
"Hello, Miss Cerulean! What have you been up to?"

 No.715221

>>715216
Despite Dorado saying he's clean, Cloud is unsettled by that opinion.

>>715217
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.

>>715216
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?"

>>715219
"Thanks Thessaly."
Cloud says, before pausing at her comment.
"…Skintaking?"

>>715220
"A spell really would make this all easy…"

 No.715222

>>715216

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."

>>715219

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

>>715216
>>715221

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.

 No.715223

>>715222
"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.

 No.715224

>>715221
"There has to be some sort of magic to make it happen, I-I just would not know where to look."

 No.715225

>>715223

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

 No.715226

>>715220
>>715222
Aimed towards Cutlass, sorry

 No.715227

>>715224
"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…"

>>715225
"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."

 No.715228

>>715221
"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."

>>715222
"Who is that?" she asks bluntly, eyeing not Godot with great suspicion.

 No.715229

>>715228

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

>>715227

"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.

 No.715230

>>715227
"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?"

 No.715231

>>715218
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?"

>>715222
"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."

>>715221
"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?"

>>715228
>>715229
"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."

>>715223
>>715224
>>715219
>>715225
"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.

 No.715232

>>715228
"Y-Yea, I think by that name along I got the picture."

>>715230
"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?"

>>715229
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."


>>715231
"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…"

>>715231
"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.

 No.715233

>>715232
"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…"

 No.715234

>>715229
>>715231
"I… see." She gives Godot a slightly suspicious look, but doesn't pry.

>>715231
"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."

 No.715235

>>715233
"Oh."
Cloud says flatly.
"Sorry, still trying to get everything pieced together today."

 No.715236

>>715232
"I suppose you are right, then. It may be something rather difficult to achieve."

>>715234
"I got most of what I could, but having a second set of eyes could be rather nice."

 No.715237

>>715231

"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."

>>715232

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.

>>715234

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

 No.715238

>>715231
"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?"

 No.715239

>>715236
"Somepony out there must know something like it though."

>>715237
"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.

 No.715240

>>715237
"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."

 No.715241

>>715236
>>715234
>>715235
>>715237
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."

>>715238
"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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOld-kvQYm0
>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.

 No.715242

>>715238
>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.

 No.715243

>>715240

"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?"

>>715239

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

>>715241

"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.

 No.715244

>>715241
"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."

>>715243
"Well, no. I've freeloaded plenty before, but not off ponies I care about like friends."
Cloud again admits in a low tone.

>>715241
>>715243
With Paraiba bringing up infection and Cutlass pushing, Cloud sighs.
"Ok, fine. I can't fight against infections, so… can you help me Cutlass?"

 No.715245

>>715241
"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.

>>715243
"I-I would hate for you to have to spend your hard-earned money on this, but we may need to."

 No.715246

>>715241
She digs around and pulls out her meager coinpurse. "It is not much, but it will cover some of the cost."

>>715243
>>715241
>>715239
>>715236
…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."

>>715243
"Others do not concern me," she responds with a slightly biting tone. "You are only mortal, after all."

 No.715247

>>715242
>>715241
"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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Huuu27THSW8

 No.715248

>>715246
Cloud glances over as Thessaly suggests her summoning.
"I think I'd rather trust a back-alley doctor over a demon for this."

 No.715249

>>715244

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

>>715244

"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."

>>715245

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

>>715246

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

>>715246

"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."

 No.715250

>>715245
>>715243
>>715244
"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."

>>715246
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?"

>>715247
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!

[1d10+2]

Roll #1 1 + 2 = 3

 No.715251

>>715249
"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.

>>715250
"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.

 No.715252

>>715250
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.

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.715253

>>715249
"D-Do you enjoy sounding ominous, Miss Cutlass? I-I certainly do not." he mumbles, tapping his talons together.

>>715250
"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…"

>>715251
"A-Are you sure? I would hate to see you further in debt."

 No.715254

>>715248
>>715249
She nods. "Lying is as easy as breathing for their kind. I am merely presenting an option, risky as it may be."

>>715249
"I do not like others," she replies, sounding rather icy. "We will have to agree to disagree."

>>715250
"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."

 No.715255

>>715253
"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.

>>715254
"Maybe for something less intense we could try them."

 No.715256

>>715251

"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.

>>715253

"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.

>>715254

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

 No.715257

>>715256
Cloud's face drops as Cutlass speaks with excitement on his debt.
"There'll be a grace period at least while I recover, right?"

 No.715258

>>715252
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]

>>715253
>>715254
>>715256
>>715251
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.

>Paused


Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9

 No.715259

>>715257

"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."

 No.715260

>>715256
>>715253

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.

 No.715261

>>715260
"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.

 No.715262

>>715261

"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…"

 No.715263

>>715262
"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?"

 No.715264

>>715263

"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?"

 No.715265

>>715264
"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.

 No.715266

>>715265

"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.

 No.715267

>>715266
"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."

 No.715268

>>715267

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

 No.715269

>>715268
"I am certain that is not the case. You ponies have all been so interesting." he offers, letting out a nervous little chirp.

 No.715866

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.

 No.715867

>Cerulean
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.

 No.715868

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>715867
"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?"

 No.715869

>>715868
"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.

 No.715870

>>715869
"I'd like to keep my eye, thank you very much."
Cloud looks over as Sickly tossed him some bits.
"Thanks."
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?"

 No.715871

>>715870
"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.

 No.715872

>>715867
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.

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.715873

>>715872
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.

[1d10+2]

Roll #1 8 + 2 = 10

 No.715874

>>715873
Cerulean gets distracted by the aura, her tapping becoming messed up.
"Wait, these little guys can use aura too?!"

[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.715875

>>715871
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.

"Sorry."
He says as Chiu reacts poorly.

 No.715876

>>715874
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."

>>715875
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!"

 No.715877

>>715876
"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.

 No.715878

>>715876
"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."

 No.715880

>>715878
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."

 No.715881

>>715880
"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."

 No.715882

>>715881
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.715934

>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.

>>715877
>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."

 No.715935

>>715934
https://pastebin.com/FG7PKshS

She nods in understanding, turning to Cloud.

>>715877
"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."

 No.715936

>>715934
"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.

>>715935
"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."

 No.715938

>>715935
>>715936
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.

 No.715939

>>715936
>>715938
"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.

 No.715942

>>715939
"Thanks. And have fun out there Thessaly."

>>715938
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.

 No.715944

>>715939
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.

>>715942
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.

 No.715947

>>715944
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.

 No.715948

>>715944
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?"

 No.715951

>>715947
[1d10] 👀

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.715953

>>715947
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)

>>715951
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.

>>715948
"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?"

 No.715956

>>715953
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

 No.715959

>>715956
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."

 No.715960

>>715953
Cloud tenses a bit as the cocoon starts to close, the sound only making it feel like more of a terrible decision.
"K-Kinda…"
Cloud mutters as he's covered up. When Dorado asks if he's ready, Cloud nods.

 No.715962

>>715960
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………………

 No.715965

>>715959
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

 No.715967

>>715962
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.

 No.715971

>>715965
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.

 No.715976

>>715971
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.

 No.715978

>>715976
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."

 No.715980

>>715978
"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

 No.715986

>>715980
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwxatzcYf9Q
"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

 No.715991

>>715986
"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.715994

>>715991
"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."

>Pause

 No.715998

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.

 No.715999

>Cerulean
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?"

>Thessaly

"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.

 No.716000

>>715999

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?"

 No.716001

>>716000
>>715999
>Pyrite
*Alder

 No.716002

>>716000
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.

 No.716003

>>715999
"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."

 No.716004

>>716002

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

 No.716005

>>716003
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.

>>716004
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.

>>715967
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.

 No.716006

>>716005
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.

 No.716007

>>716005

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."

 No.716008

>>716005
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.

 No.716009

>>716007
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?"

>>716008
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.

>>716006
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGAreEOmMN8
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.

 No.716010

>>716000
>>716001
"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."

 No.716011

>>716009

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."

 No.716012

>>716009
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.

 No.716013

>>716000
>>716001
"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."

 No.716014

>>716009
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?"

 No.716015

>>716013

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

 No.716016

>>716015
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."

 No.716017

>>716016

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

 No.716018

>>716011
"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.

>>716013
>>716011
"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.

>>716014
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?"

>>716012
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.

 No.716019

>>716017
"Well, healer. I tend to work with mixtures, though, so… apothecary?"

 No.716020

>>716018

"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.

>>716019

"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."

 No.716021

>>716020
"Correct, I suppose. I do not like doing a bad job on one of the few things I can do."

 No.716022

>>716018
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."

 No.716023

>>716021

"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."

 No.716024

>>716020
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.

>>716022
"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.

 No.716025

>>716018
"That would be very nice, thank you." the griffon says, bowing a little bit.

>>716023
"W-Well, it feels like a problem I should be able to handle. If something like this happens again, I would want to help."

 No.716026

>>716018
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.

 No.716027

>>716025

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

>>716024

"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."

 No.716028

>>716025
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.

>>716026
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.

https://youtu.be/OS4IavesMaU

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.

 No.716029

>>716024
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."

 No.716030

>>715999
https://pastebin.com/FG7PKshS

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."

 No.716031

>>716028
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.

 No.716032

>>716027
"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.

>>716028
"Shaved ice? Oh! Uhm… something fruity."

 No.716033

>>716032

"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.

 No.716034

>>716033
"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."

 No.716035

>>716034

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

 No.716036

>>716032
>>716027
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."

>>716029
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.

>>716031
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.

 No.716037

>>716030
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.

>>716030
"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."

>>716030
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."

 No.716038

>>716036

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.

 No.716039

>>716036
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.

 No.716040

>>716035
"Sort of? I wanted to try something new, and water was definitely new. I barely even really swam at home."

>>716036
>>716038
"I suppose it is just… like that, then? I do not know what to expect of pirates."

 No.716041

>>716040

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

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

>>716040

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

 No.716042

>>716036
"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."

 No.716043

>>716039
>Echolocation Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.716044

>>716041
"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."

 No.716045

>>716038
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."

>>716040
"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."

>>716039
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.

>>716042
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."

 No.716046

>>716037
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."

>>716037
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."

>>716037
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?"

 No.716047

>>716044

"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.

>>716045

"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."

>>716045

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

 No.716048

>>716045
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.

 No.716049

>>716045
"Ah. I suppose I can not blame them, but it's a shame all the same."

>>716047
"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?"

 No.716050

>>716046
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."

>>716046
"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?"

 No.716051

>>716045
"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."

 No.716052

>>716049

"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.

 No.716053

>>716050
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.

>>716050
"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."

 No.716054

>>716048
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc-OkmqIHtc

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.

>>716047
>>716049
"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."

>>716051
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."

>>716053
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?"

 No.716055

>>716052
"Attached to high society? I suppose that was something you were not a part of? A-Apologies if the bluntness is… offensive."

 No.716056

>>716053
>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."

 No.716057

>>716054
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.

 No.716058

>>716054

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

>>716055

"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.

 No.716059

>>716058
"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?"

 No.716060

>>716054
"Rumors? Was is a dolphin in a mobile glass bowl? Also, lunch sounds great. Really, food in general is always great to me."

 No.716061

>>716054
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."

>>716056
She tilts her head a little. "What are kalphite, exactly? They are not a creature I am familiar with. Some sort of insect?"

 No.716062

>>716059

"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'."

 No.716063

>>716062
"Ah. Well, I am glad you found your way back to your true calling- A-And, I will make sure to, captain!"

 No.716064

>>716057
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.

>>716060
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.

>>716061
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."

https://youtu.be/K6jEJYthL4A

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?"

 No.716065

>>716064
"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?"

 No.716066

>>716063

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?"

 No.716067

>>716064
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.

 No.716068

>>716065
"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."

>>716067
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.

 No.716069

>>716064
"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.

 No.716070

>>716068
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.

 No.716071

>>716068
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."

 No.716072

>>716069
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!"

 No.716073

>>716066
"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.

 No.716074

>>716070
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.

 No.716075

>>716071
"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."

 No.716076

>>716072
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.

 No.716077

>>716073

"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."

 No.716078

>>716074
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.

 No.716079

>>716076
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.

 No.716080

>>716078
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.

 No.716081

>>716075
"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."

 No.716082

>>716077
"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.
>>716078
"Cloud! D-Do you feel alright?"

 No.716083

>>716080
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.

 No.716084

>>716082

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

>>716078

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

 No.716085

>>716081
"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."

>>716083
"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."

>>716082
>>716077
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!"

 No.716086

>Paused

 No.716087

>>716084
>>716082
"Alder, Cutlass?"
Cloud asks from his cocoon, not able to see them yet.
"You guys waited for me?"

 No.716088

>>716087
>>716085
"Of course I did, Mister Cloud. You are a good friend, and I wanted to make sure the procedure went well."

>>716084
"I suppose so, yes. I was, hm,m… naive? I fell for scams, and I was not money-smart."

 No.716089

>>716087

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

>>716088

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

 No.716090

>>716088
"Thanks Alder. It feels like it went pretty well."

>>716089
Cloud groans.
"I'm going to hear the number a lot, aren't I?"

 No.716091

>>716090

"Yep," Cutlass says with a satisfied grin.

 No.716092

>>716091
"I'm glad to see you care."
Cloud says unenthusiastically.

 No.716093

>>716090
"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.

>>716089
"Did something similar happen to you? You seem much more aware."

 No.716094

>>716092

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

>>716093

"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."

 No.716095

>>716093
"I hope you took some notes on what the doc here did. Not even feeling sore anymore."

>>716094
"I still have one good eye you know. Plus I'm a bat, as long as I can hear I can always see."

 No.716096

>>716095
"I-I will try my best! Does the knife I use sting? don't really know…"

>>716094
"Ah. Well, I suppose I am not alone, then." he says, with a soft chirp of laughter

 No.716097

>>716096
"…I don't really remember if it did or not."
Cloud answers.

 No.716529

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.

 No.716530

>Thessaly
"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."

>Cloud

"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!"

>Cerulean

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.

 No.716531

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>716530
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?"

 No.716532

>>716531
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.

 No.716533

>>716532
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?"

 No.716534

>>716533
"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."

 No.716535

>>716534
"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.

 No.716536

>>716531
>>716534

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

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

 No.716537


 No.716539

>>716535
"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."

>>716536
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."

 No.716540

>>716530
>>716531
Alder offers a somewhat reassuring smile, and says "You look good, all things considered! Blue is a nice color."

>>716536
"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."

https://pastebin.com/HZDtCp5g

 No.716541

>>716540
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.

>>716540
"Agreed," Chiu says as you bring up work. "I'd hate to keep the Captain waiting on her repayment."

 No.716542

>>716539
"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?"

>>716536
>>716539
"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.

>>716540
"Thanks, and yea. It'll match my mane at least."

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

 No.716543

>>716530
"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.

 No.716544

>>716539

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

>>716540

"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."

>>716542

"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."

 No.716545

>>716544
"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."

 No.716546

>>716542
>>716541
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."

>>716544
"Well, working together could make them a lot easier, yes?"

 No.716547

>>716545

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

>>716546

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

>>716541

Cutlass heads to the job listings they saw earlier.

 No.716548

>>716543
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.

>>716544
Chiu looks subtly worried now, harboring worries about your meaning, but then sharply salutes. "Whatever you say, Captain."

>>716542
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."

>>716542
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.

>>716546
>>716544
>>716542
"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?"

>>716547
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?"

 No.716549

>>716548
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!"

 No.716550

>>716548
"Fresh air, yes. Ocean air has a nice feeling to it." he says, before looking to Cloud to see his response.

 No.716551

>>716548

"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.

 No.716552

>>716546
"Alright, but I want to earn my bits from these jobs… however much as I can."

>>716547
"I thought I'd be able to get them back pretty quick But hey, it'll pay off in the end."

>>716548
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."

 No.716553

>>716549
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?"

>>716551
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.

>>716552
"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.

>>716552
>>716550
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."

 No.716554

>>716553
>>716551
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.

 No.716555

>>716530
https://pastebin.com/FG7PKshS

"…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."

 No.716556

>>716552
"Of Course, I understand."

>>716553
"I-I promise, Miss Sweet! I will be watchful." he chirps, fluttering his wings a little bit.

 No.716557

>>716553

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.

 No.716558

>>716553
"Thanks."
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."


>>716553
>>716557
Cloud looks over to Cutlass as they come outside.
"Find anything good?"

 No.716560

>>716558

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

 No.716561

>>716560
"Have fun then."

 No.716562

>>716555
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.

>>716557
"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.

>>716558
"Fine, fine, we'll negotiate prices at the time," Dorado grumbles. "Thanks for the business, though. And take care of that eye!"

>>716558
>>716556
>>716557
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.

>>716556
Droplet also passes you a bowl of bright orange shaved ice. It looks to be pineapple flavored.

>>716557
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.

 No.716563

>>716553
"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."

 No.716565

>>716563
"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!"

 No.716566

>>716562

"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

 No.716567

>>716562
"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.

 No.716568

>>716562
"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.

 No.716569

>>716562
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."

>>716568
"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?"

 No.716570

>>716565
Cerulean stares in slight awe, then attempts to try and replicate their chopstick technique.
"Like…this?"

>How well she do?

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.716571

>>716569
"Sounds good. We could probably line up a few jobs for the day to get a nice bag of bits pretty quick."

 No.716572

>>716566
"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."

>>716567
"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."

>>716570
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.

>>716568
>>716569
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.

 No.716575

>>716572
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."

 No.716576

>>716572
"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.

 No.716578

>>716572
"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?"

 No.716579

>>716572

"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

 No.716581

>>716572
>>716575
"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."

 No.716582

>>716581
"I can handle it. Finding a pet will be easy, especially with my hearing. You can go do your job."

 No.716584

>>716581
>>716575
"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?"

>>716578
"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."

>>716576
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?"

>>716579
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.

 No.716585

>>716584
Alder looks the pickpocketing deal over and hums, before heading for the Guard's Guild.

 No.716587

>>716584
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.

 No.716588

>>716584

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

>Soul Sight on Waratah

 No.716589

>>716584
"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."

 No.716590

>>716584
"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?"

 No.716591

>>716585
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?"

>>716587
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."

>>716588
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."

>>716589
"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?"

>>716590
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.716593

>>716591

"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.

 No.716595

>>716591
"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?"

 No.716596

>>716591
"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.

 No.716597

>>716591
"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.

 No.716598

>>716591
"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?"

 No.716600

>>716591
>>716597
>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.716601

>>716593
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!"

>>716597
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."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG9usjN5AI8

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?"

>>716595
"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."

>>716596
"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).

>>716598
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."

 No.716602

>>716601
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.

 No.716603

>>716601

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.

 No.716604

>>716601
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?"

 No.716606

>>716601
"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.

 No.716607

>>716601
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

 No.716610

>>716602
"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?"

>>716603
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."

>>716607
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.

>>716606
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.

 No.716611

>>716604
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.

 No.716612

>>716610
"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.

 No.716613

>>716610
"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."

 No.716615

>>716610

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."

 No.716616

>>716611
"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."

 No.716617

>>716610
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.

>>716611
>>716613
"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.

>>716613
"Fancy running into one another like this. How did the procedure go?"

 No.716618

>>716617
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.

 No.716619

>>716618
"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?"

 No.716620

>>716619
"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.716622

>>716612
"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.

>>716617
Chiu spins about as you approach. "Hey, Thessaly! I was just headed for the bar, fancy a drink?"

>>716613
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.

>>716616
"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.

>>716615
"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."

 No.716623

>>716622
"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?"

 No.716624

>>716622
"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

 No.716625

>>716620
"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."

>>716622
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."

 No.716626

>>716622
"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."

 No.716627

>>716625
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?"

 No.716629

>>716622

"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

 No.716630

>>716627
"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.

 No.716633

>>716625
Chiu whistles. "Damn, I was gonna get myself some water, but hey, I like where you're going with this! Coming right up."

>>716624
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?"

>>716626
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."

>>716623
"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.

>>716629
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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsW9Q0BAb_U

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

[1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.716634

>>716630
"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?"

>>716633
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]

>>716630
("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

 No.716635

>>716633

"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

 No.716636

>>716633
"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

 No.716638

>>716634
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.

>>716633
"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

 No.716639

>>716633
"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.

 No.716640

>>716635
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.

[1d10]

>>716636
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.

>>716638
>>716634
"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."

>>716639
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

 No.716641

>>716640

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

 No.716642

>>716640
"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

 No.716644

>>716640
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

 No.716645

>>716640
"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

 No.716646

>>716641
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!

[1d10]

>>716644
>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.

>>716645
>>716642
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.

>Paused


Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.717259

Last time on PirateQuest…

In order to raise funds to cover the nearly prohibitve cost of Cloud's surgery, most members of the party split up, taking odd jobs and exploring the town of Manenhi. After getting some shopping done, Thessaly met up with Cloud and Chiu, who had taken on a job to find Malarkey, a runaway pet tortoise. As it turned out, Malarkey had been sold by members of the Bark Scorpion gang who had been hired to take Malarkey for a walk.

Alder took on a request made by a Grasshoper-tribe Krikral named Schrodinger, an expert thief who wanted an experienced pickpocket to serve as a safe training dummy for his two apprentices, who were beginners and couldn't quite get over the ethics of thievery. The apprentices had to steal a ring off Alder and bring it back to Schrodinger three times. Alder's task was to make it a challenge for them to steal the ring, punishing rookie mistakes and the like.

Cutlass' job was of a similar nature, as she was hired by a Crow-tribe Vola named Waratah, a young martial artist who was torn between two fighting styles taught to him by two different masters. This had caused a sort of crisis for Waratah, and his adherence to the two contradictory styles of fighting had caused his Aura to become stagnant preventing him from moving past his current Breakpoint and developing a new Ability. He needed Cutlass to push him to his limit so that he could find out what road he should go down.

Cerulean hadn't yet taken a job, though she had discovered a handful of them from the town's job board and directory. She just finished up a luncheon with Sir Kukulcan, captain of the Thunder Serpent, and leader of the deep sea dive expedition that the party intended to embark on next week. He'd just finished a discussion with Bee Holder regarding the logistics of the expedition, as well as the possibility of converting the Beesting into a diving vessel with the aid of the Thunder Serpent's magitechnology.

 No.717260

>Cutlass
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!

[1d10: 9]

>Alder

>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.

>Thessaly and Cloud

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.

>Cerulean

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.

 No.717261

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>717260
>>716645
Cloud pauses as the scorpion's words sink in, eyes widening at hearing 'sushi'.
"SorryThessalyIgottago."
Cloud quickly rattles off, turning to leave the bar.
"CHIUI'MGOINGTOTHESUSHIPLACEBERIGHTBACK!"
He shouts over to Chiu not stopping as he runs out the door of the bar towards the sushi joint, hoping he isn't too late.
And in his rush, he forgets about the pinball, leaving it grown and all stopped up.

 No.717262

>>717260
>>717261
She looks at the scorpions with a look of utter disgust. Words fail her as she imagines the implication of this, and she wastes no time in hurrying behind Cloud. She has tried to distance herself from such mundane affairs, but she cannot hide her compassion this time.

 No.717263

>>717262
>>717261
As you rush out from the bar, you duck and weave through the crowded streets, nearly clipping many merchants and sailors from other ships along the way. Following half-caught glimpses from signposts and logos hanging from rooftops, you make it about halfway up the dock before you see a sushi bar, a small hut styled like a Japonese inn, built out on the pier.

You zip around the corner, round the back, where, couched between several old crates full of trash, you find a squatting merchant, a ratty-looking rabbit, about a head taller than you. His fur is mottled and his clothes are coarse, an old kimono and cogs, with a headband keeping his ears back. Surrounding him is a collection of cages and crates, containing an eclectic collection of animals, hoisted on a rickshaw. The rabbit sits beside the rickshaw, his eyes glazed over as he drags away at a cigarette.

 No.717264

>>717263
Before engaging the rabbit, she looks over the animal cages with slight anxiety, trying to see if she can spot the turtle.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717265

>>717262
"Oh, you're coming along? I thought you needed to deal with those scorpions."
Cloud asks as they run through the town.

>>717263
Cloud stops as they reach the sushi joint, pausing for just a second as he breathes heavily, not looking so good.
"So much… for… taking it easy…"
He gasps. He looks at the cages, animals all over as if they buy up whatever. Cloud runs over to the cages, looking in and checking every one for the tortoise in hopes it's still there.

 No.717266

>>717265
"I do," she answers. "But… this is an important matter, is it not. I feel I will be of use to you here." In truth, she doesn't really know why she's doing this. It just feels right to her.

 No.717267

>>717263
Cerulean finishes up her final dish, giving a satisfied smile to the cooks. She looks out a window and sees Cloud up and about, making her rush out.

>>717264
>>717265
"Cloud! And Thess! How'd the eye thing go?!" She says running up to the two excitedly.

 No.717268

>>717265
>>717264
The cages are packed with critters, and seeing through the bars and various animal parts is somewhat difficult through the claustrophic mass of bodies, but you get a slight glimpse of a shell's side, of a certain shade of orange. The animals within cry out as they see you approach, their cages rattling. From within her bag, Thessaly feels a light stirring, a curl of dull anger, emanating from the pages of the Liber Animarum.

The rabbit looks your way with a snarl, and you get a whiff of rough alcohol on his breath. He draws a tattered cloth blanket from the rickshaw and throws it over the cages, concealing them. He then makes a wide, greasy smile, his eyebrows curling in a parody of a caricature of a used vehicle salesman. "Ah-ha! Welcome, welcome, my ungulate guests. Are you looking for something in particular? A gift, perhaps?"

>>717267
When you wheel around the corner, you see the scene described in >>717263 and above. The rabbit salesman glances your way with vague interest, but his lip curls to a frown when he sees your sharp teeth.

 No.717269

>>717267
She does a double take as Cerulean seems to materialize from seemingly nowhere, her attention entirely on the task at hand. "Oh. Hello again. Cloud has made a full recovery, as is plain to see. We are lucky to have him around. Sinister as the surgeon may have been, his efficacy cannot be denied." She gives Cloud a small nod of approval.

 No.717270

>>717268
She lets Cloud do the talking for now as she hangs back, dipping away for a moment to open up the grimoire curiously.

 No.717271

>>717267
The cooks also bow to you as you finish your meal, putting their paws together with gratitude.

 No.717272

>>717268
Cloud's hope rises as he sees the bit of orange shell in the cage just before they're covered. He quickly gives a look at the rabbit, irritated that he's acting casual over this situation.
"Yea, I'm looking for a tortoise. About this big," Cloud gestures with his hooves, "A yellow shell, orange ring. Kind of like… this one!"
Cloud says, grabbing the cloth over the cage he saw the shell in to see what lies inside.

>>717267
"C-Ceruelan?! What are you doing here?"
Cloud turns slightly as Cerulean pops up, a little startled as somepony else shows up in the back alley behind the restaurant.
"Oh, uh, that went fine. I can talk more in a sec, I'm trying to find a tortoise quick that some thugs sold to this place."

 No.717273

>>717260

Cutlass tries to back away (fruitlessly) as Waratah goes for another grab. "Look," she says practically pleadingly. "If I knew there would be this much touching, I-"

She doesn't finish her sentence due to being out of time by the time she is grabbed. As she is grabbed, she slashes twice again at Waratah.

[1d10] [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 6 = 6

 No.717274

>>717269
>>717268
She blinks a bit from the few fancy words at the end.
"So…the surgeon was a bit of a jerk, but he does a good job. Got it!" She looks over at the frowning rabbit and gives a small wave, then looks back to Thessaly.
"So what are you guys doing here?"

 No.717275

>Will Post sheet at home, don't have access currently

>>717260
Alder frowns a little bit as he pats himself down, and notices the ring's absent from his feathery wings. He ducks a little lower and folks back into the crowd, trying to find any sign of who took it- from how inexperienced they sound, he figures they might not be thinking of what happens if someone notices!
>[1d10] Master Thief

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.717276

>>717274
"We are searching for a lost pet, as Cloud said," she replies as she leafs through the book. "Then, we are going to punish a gang of particularly cruel thugs operating here. And by we I mean I, as Cloud is not in fighting condition. I do not suppose you would be interested in joining me in this? Your talents would be quite useful."

 No.717277

>>717276
A lost pet? Oh yeah, I saw that one posted. Hope they find it."

Cerulean gives a slight hum.
"Well, I was gonna go fight this queropeco thing…although maybe a bunch of thugs would be a good warm up. Not to mention I just ate, too. That sushi joint is REALLY good!"

 No.717278

>>717270
As you open the book to its first section, you find the words and diagrams scattered across the page, as if they were furniture that had been tossed about in a rampage of frustration. The pages flip on their own, until they come to a two page spread, where you saw the illustration of Galutisons. She appears as an ink drawing, a horned owl of bark, with feathers of leaves and moss. Yet her feathers are puffed up in barely-restrained anger, and her talons clutch the borders of the book, and her face is wide, her eyes wide and dark with contempt, as she glares upward out of the page, like a terrible god.

Let me at him, a soft female voice whispers in your mind. You feel a presence in the drawing, like a gathering of shadows.

>>717272
>>717274
>>717276
The rabbit salesman clacks his teeth with annoyance, his ears spreading out to the side as Cloud pulls back the covering and revealing the cruelly-packed cages. Cloud indeed sees a tortoise's head, sticking out from between an iguana and a mouse king. "Oh, something very specific indeed," the rabbit says, regaining his cool. He spreads his arms out. "Well? What's it worth to you? 'Cause it's worth about 1,000 to some buyers 'round here! Tortorise stew's a real delicacy, y'know."

>>717273
In a smooth and showy movement, Waratah comes up under you, enduring one of your slashes to his shoulder as he lifts you up under his shoulder. "Hiiiiiii-YAH!" he cries, flipping you through the air and slamming you down with a thud onto the mat, popping a crick that had been in your back. It'd feel quite good if it weren't so painful.

>Cutlass 0/4, can attempt recovery as an instant action


Waratah pauses once he slams you down, panting. "W-wait, what was that? Did you say something?"

>>717275
As you work your way through the crowd of sailors and sellers, you notice a rotund little figure, low to the ground and with eight legs, about a foot high, scuttling about the streets. They're wearing a cloak, and a mask, resembling a kitsune's face, with eight slit eyes. They are, against all odds, the most conspicuous figure in the street. You notice them heading back in the direction you came, toward the Guard's Guild. You notice that there are no other figures around quite like this one, even though Schrodinger said they'd be working as a pair.

 No.717279

>>717278
Cloud grimaces in disgust as he sees the mouse king in the cage. He glances at the rabbit, reaching his hoof into the cage.
"Yea I know these tricks. I'l let you know that I know this isn't your tortoise, so I'm just gonna bring it back to it's rightful owner."
He says, eyes glowing orange and blue as he attempts to shrink the tortoise down so Cloud can pull him out of the cage.
>Wax/Wane [Shrink Tortoise] [1d10+1]

>>717277
>>717276
("Guys, cover me while I get the tortoise out of here.")
Cloud whispers to Cerulean and Thessaly as Cloud ignores the rabbit.

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.717280

>>717278

Cutlass lets out a little 'eep' as she is lifted by her stomach. Her hooves kick about in an insulted panic, but to no avail. More than the pain, she just feels flustered.

"N-nothing," Cutlass mutters, her face turning red. She tries to get up. [1d10]

>another roll coming up next post


Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.717281

>>717280

Trying to get up again. [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.717282

>>717278
Humming a little bit as he picks the… spider? out of the crowd, the griffon starts working his way closer. He frowns a little as he only comes to spot one- that means the other's probably somewhere else in or above the crowd, and he'll have to be careful. He fishes through his pack for a cloak, and wraps it around himself. Counting on his looks to get him by if the spider catches him, the griffon attempts to check the spider over to see if it's one of the thieves in question, and if they've got the prize. He's not sure where to look for pockets, but he's got plenty of experience to cover for that.
>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.717283

>>717277
"It is your choice," she replies. "I will not beg you to do it, but you may come along if you wish."

>>717278
As she sees the illustration shift and the voice whispers in her head, she looks genuinely fearful for a moment, yet also tempted to do it, to unleash her wrath on all the wicked denizens of this town. She is about to go through with it, but catches herself. Unleashing a demon in public in a foreign land would spell disaster. Reluctantly, she ignores Galutisons' plea, and stores the book away again for now. She resolves to ask Gullveig about it, next time they meet. She seems knowledgeable enough.

She turns her attention to the rabbit. "We were not asking for a price," she says coldly. "It is stolen property. Return it to us, and there will be no further consequences."

[1d10] Intimidate

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.717284

>>717283
Galutisons stares up at you as you close the book, though her anger is still palpable through the pages even once it's closed and out of sight once more. Very well, the voice whispers again, though it is thick with disappointment.

>>717279
>>717283
Cloud shrinks the tortoise down to pocket size, but the rabbit's annoyance only grows, and he reaches for the tortoise to try to snatch it up, his mouth opening to make another snarky remark. Just then, however, Thessaly issues her threat, and he freezes, all his bravado drying up under her withering stare. His eyes dart about, then he retracts his paw, and backs away. "Hey, hey, don't misunderstand me. I'm a legitimate businessman! I'd hate for stolen merchandise to come across my shelves. I had no idea! Go on, take it, take it. I was just going to offer you a special deal! Only available today, in fact. Purchase a tortoise, get three scorpions free… but I can see that won't be necessary. Go on, go on."

>>717282
As you get closer to the spider, you see it carefully protecting a pouch at its side, which it covers with a leg. A few of its eyes dart your way, and you see a glint of a realization, or perhaps just paranoia in its gaze. It picks up the pace and hustles up the road, and you have the bad luck to have a wagon cross your path, cutting off your line of sight from it.

>>717280
You roll back up to your hooves, and as you do, Waratah pauses, considering your words. "Weak to grabs, eh? Heh! You wouldn't last a second in the world of lucha."

He puffs up, his feathers gleaming with pride. As he does, his Aura starts to build, turning into a thin purple fog around him. He gasps, then shuts his eyes, and you see it start to concentrate around his arms. "Come on… come on… if that last grab worked, then…!"

[1d10-1]

Roll #1 6 - 1 = 5

 No.717285

>>717284
She looks at the rabbit dispassionately. "We will have scorpions of our own soon enough," she answers. "Tell me more about them. How did they come to give you this animal? Do you do business with them often?"

 No.717286

>>717285
[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.717287

>>717265
Alder lets out a soft huff as he's cut off by a wagon, and darts around it as quickly as he can. The thief looked rather paranoid, so he's likely picked up his pace thinking someone's spotted him. Counting on the spider's inexperience to keep him from recognizing Alder, the griffon tries to pick his pace up and beat him to the Guard Guild. He'll keep his eyes open along the way, seeing if he can spot him again.
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.717288

>>717284

Cutlass' face goes more red, not distracted from the fight entirely. "I-I am not WEAK to grabs! I just think they're… unseemly!"

Then, when Waratah himself gets distracted from the fight by her own aura, she sneers and launches another dagger at him.

>Single attack [1d10]


Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717289

>>717285
The rabbit takes another long drag on his cigarette, then curls his lip again, all the slick, fake charisma sliding off his face like slime. "Yeah, I get the merch from the gangs. What of it? Buy some fish here, some birds there… bugs, reptiles, rodents, you name it. See, the rich buy pets all the time, sometimes on pure whim, sometimes to shut their bratty kids up. When those animals get loose, they find their way into gutters and alleys, and the population explodes… sometimes, there's even word about mutants coming out from the sewers at night. What am I supposed to do, not have the gangs capture and sell them? That's leavin' money on the table!"

>>717287
As you dart around the wagon, you get a glimpse of the spider heading up the massive stone stairs, approaching the level on which the Guard Guild's tower stands tall. At this rate, you reckon this'll be the last shot you get to pickpocket it back before he can make it over the threshold!

>>717288
As Waratah focuses on his Aura, a shape of a great creature starts to surround him, like a kind of spirit-animal, at first massive and bulky, but then growing thin and sleek. Before it can form, you loose a knife, breaking his concentration, and he staggers to the side before it can make contact. "C'mon, I'm almost there…! I can feel it!"

He gulps and puffs himself up. "What am I payin' ya for, softballs? Gimme a real attack! Throw like ya mean it! Hit me! Hit me!" he shouts, his face turning red with embarrassment.

[1d10] His Aura accumulates again…

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717290

>>717289

"Full power?" Cutlass says with a disbelieving grin. "You might not want that. Let's try this first."

>Spending 1 aura point

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

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7

 No.717291

>>717284
>>717283
Cloud scoops up the tortoise as Thessaly shuts down the rabbit from interfering. Once out of the cage, he ends his magic, letting the pet return to it's normal size in freedom.
"Phew, I'm glad this guy's safe. Thanks Thessaly."
He says as he checks over the tortoise, making sure it's all alright.

 No.717292

>>717289
Deciding to go for broke, the griffon uses his momentum to barrel into him. He heightens his pitch a little bit, and calls out "A-Ah! S-Sorry, mister! I-I need to get to the docks!"
>Innocent
>[1d10] Master Thief:
If he can manage, Alder snakes his tail in and snatches the pack (or at least, the contents of it) when he bumps into him.

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717293

>>717291
>>717286
Once Cloud returns the tortoise to full size, he can see that its shell is a dull orange, with streaks of yellow radiating from the center along the rivulets between each plate of the shell. You see that though the shell is not cracked, it has cuts and light bruises along its legs, which are covered with muck and dried salt water from being packed in with so many other animals. Though the tortoise looks happy to be free, there's still a plain look of misery on its face.

 No.717294

>>717289
"So you are not sn homest businessman after all," she sats snidely. "Anyone could have surmised as such. That is not what I am asking," she pressures. "Tell me about the Bark Scorpions. How deep do your connections go with them?"
[1d10]

>>717291
She gives you a stiff little nod as she continues to interrogate the rabbit.

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717295

>>717293
Cloud looks at the tortoise, glad it's relatively alright, though upset at how it's all scuffed and dirty. He can't bring it back like this, it'd break that filly's heart.
"Don't worry Malarkey, we'll get you right back to Sparkler before you know it. But let's get you cleaned up first."
He says, hoping to cheer the tortoise up by hearing it's owner's name. Though, Cloud isn't quite too how well to patch up an animal like this. He moves Malarkey a bit further from the cages, then pulls out the bell and rings it to call Granny over.
"Granny, I need your help to treat up this tortoise I saved before I bring it back to it's owner."

 No.717296

>>717292
As you bump into him, the spider wheels about, keeping the pouch at his side turned away from you, before you are able to slip out its contents. The spider quickly bends down and helps you up, but then turns and heads for the Guard's Guild once more instead of getting a better look at your face, all while muttering in annoyance under his breath. He makes it into the Guild, scoring a single point.

>>717290
You take another swing, and though the cuts are solid, Waratah manages to stay on his talons. His Aura turns to a clear violet glow, and starts to take the crude shape of a massive horned beetle, wearing the same luchador's mask that he does. With a shout, he lowers himself onto all fours, and the beetle does as well, mimicks his movements. Waratah clenches his jaw, and the beetle clamps onto you with its aura-pincers, then flings you across the ring, easily tossing you into the rope on the other side.

>Cutlass 6/4


Waratah spreads his wings, eyes aglow, his body still surrounded by this Aura-beetle. He leaps forward, and clamps down once more!

[1d10]

>>717294
"Fine, fine. They're the first gang I got on my payroll. They're what got me where I am today! So yeah, we go way back. If they bring me some product, I move the product, they get a cut. No questions, no rigamarole, nothin'. Just good, dirty business. Hell, they'd probably be dead without me. I'm the one who first gave 'em work when they got kicked off their slaver's ship."

>>717295
A light ghostly fog covers the pier as you ring the bell, and in its midst, Granny appears, wearing a cloak that covers her from tip to tail. The mist quickly burns away in the sunlight, leaving little trace of her appearance. Granny looks at the tortoise, and hisses as she examines its state. "Ach… good to see that some things never change. Scum will do anything for a bit of shiny coin. Come on then, let's get you cleaned, boy."

She reaches into her cloak, taking out a large pouch, containing a number of supplies for cleaning and treating wounds, and crouches. Malarkey looks wary at first, but as she starts to treat him, he relents, still looking moderately uncomfortable.

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.717297

>>717296
"Thanks Granny."
Cloud says in gratitude, reaching down to pet Malarkey to help ease him.
"Don't worry, she's the best at this kind of stuff."

Cloud then looks back at the rabbit.
"So do you just buy pets off thugs, or do you send out calls for them?"

 No.717298

>>717296

"If you insist!" Cutlass says as she recovers from the attack, taken off guard by the frightening shift in aura.

>Dance of Blades


[1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9 / Roll #3 10 + 1 = 11 / Roll #4 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #5 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #6 6 + 1 = 7

 No.717299

>>717296
Alder huffs a little bit, annoyed he couldn't nick the ring off of him. He tries to keep his eyes out for the other of the two thieves as he heads back in to grab the ring back from Schrodinger
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717300


 No.717301

>>717298

moar

[1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8 / Roll #2 1 + 1 = 2 / Roll #3 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #4 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #5 1 + 1 = 2 / Roll #6 5 + 1 = 6

 No.717302

>>717296
She doesn't look impressed. "They were slavers, then. I am not surprised. I imagine you know their names too. Give them to me."
[1d10]

As Granny is summoned, she turns and nods to her respectfully. "Scum does not do it justice," she comments. "Somehow, I think I prefer Aristar."

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717303

>>717297
The rabbit shrugs. "Hey, I just listen to the market. If there's demand, I have the gangs dredge up the supply. Usually, I have to stick with whatever I'm lucky enough to find." He bends down and examines the tortoise again. "A sun tortoise, eh? Well, shit. Too bad I didn't take a better look at him before just stuffing him into a cage. That's a top product right there! Something like him would be in demand, but as far as I remember, the Bark Scorpions just came across him while running their usual 'runaway pet' scam."

>>717302
"One-five, Four-two, and Three-nine," the rabbit says. "You're right that they were slavers, but before that, they were slaves. Slaves don't have a name apart from their identification number. They get their old name beaten out of them, until they associate it only with pain. Then, the number's burned into their necks at the nape. Any slave that becomes free ends up taking the first two digits as their new name, since that's all they're referred to by when they're on the slave ships. Those guys just so happened to use their new freedom to become slavers."

He grins, as if proud of this depravity.

>>717299
As you look around outside, you see another small shape, with eight fuzzy legs, holding up a copy of the Ribcage Informant right in front of his face as he stands in the middle of the street. The newspaper obscures his face, and you cannot see him.

After you head back inside, you see the little spider thief sitting at the bar counter a little distance away, having a glass of cider, probably to calm his nerves. He's facing away from you at present. Schrodinger, sitting at a table up at the front, twirls the ring on his claw, then passes it back to you. "How'd they do?" he asks with a little grin.

>>717301
>>717298
Waratah's beetle grabs you and slams you against the ground, but this time, you land carefully, and spring up from the ground before he can react, and swarm him with slashes. The Aura-beetle tries to deflect and parry your strikes, scoring hits in retaliation on you, but your flurry starts to overwhelm him, and the beetle breaks into many shards, leaving him open. In a maelstrom of feathers, blood and cloth, you slice Waratah until the last of the will to fight leaves his body (in addition to the blood), and you pin him to the ground, a final dagger pinned against his throat. You're held up only by the pin, feeling woozy and exhausted yourself.

Waratah pants weakly, and taps the surface of the ring three times, formally surrendering. "…w-wow," is all he's able to utter.

 No.717304

>>717303
Cloud glares at the rabbit.
"Let's hope we don't need to come back here later."
Cloud says simply, taking a step away from teh rabbit and pulling out his conch, calling up Sparkler.
"Hey, Sparkler? I found Malarky, all good. So where would you like me to meet you?"

 No.717305

>>717304
>Cloud says simply, taking a step away from teh rabbit and pulling out his conch, calling up Sparrow.
>"Hey, Sparow? I found Malarky, all good. So where would you like me to meet you?"

 No.717306

>>717303
"Ehm… to be honest, rather poorly. It did not feel like they were working together well, and the one who did the snatching was at once too paranoid and not cautious enough- he seemed worried everyone intended to snatch his prize back, but did not stop to study faces well. Were they not lucky enough to have traffic on their side, I doubt much would have come of it."

 No.717307

>>717303

Cutlass grins with an air of superiority as she pins Waratah and holds the knife to his throat - her own face mere inches from his. Then, she looks down and realizes she's practically laying on him. Her face turns red again, and she rolls off of him. She huffs and heaves as she lays on the ground next to him.

"S-sorry," Cutlass mutters, looking away from him. "You DID ask for it. Literally. You need help?"

 No.717308

>>717303
She looks as if she's been force fed a lemon when she hears they were granted freedom and became the oppressors. "Your cooperation is appreciated," she says stiffly, and moves to head back to the bar where the scorpions were. She is having second thoughts about containing the demon in the book.

>>717304
"I suppose we will be parting ways for now. I have my business to attend to, and you have yours. We will meet up back at the ship." She gives a nod of farewell and heads off back to the bar.

 No.717309

>>717308
"Alright. If I finish up quick, I'll head your way if you still need help with those scorpions."
Cloud says as Thessaly departs, giving a wave.

 No.717310

>>717308
>>717304
>>717305
Sparrow is unable to speak for a moment upon hearing the news, her voice welling up with joy and disbelief.
"M-meet me just outside the north-eastern road leading out of town. I'll be just beyond the signpost that points in the direction of Xallan. Wait there and I'll come to you!"

Her voice becomes distant, and it sounds like she's talking to someone else in the last few moments before the call ends. You manage to catch a cry of, "They found him! They found him!"

>>717308
As you head back for the bar, you see Chiu standing guard at the entrance, hiding under the shade of a nearby palm tree. As she sees you approach, she darts forward, and tugs you into the cover of the shade, partially concealing you. "There you are! A little while after you left, those Bark Scorpion gangsters came out and headed your way, toward the sushi joint. I hung back to keep an eye on 'em."

She gestures around the corner, to an alleyway between the buildings. "They waited out of sight for a little while around the sushi joint, but then they doubled back and went down this alley. I don't think they're going to let this go. One of them kept griping about the pinball machine being ruined."

>>717306
Schrodinger frowns with thought, and then passes the ring back to you. "Not what I was hoping to hear, but sadly, it's what I was expecting. Give it another shot. Try to find someplace a little more exposed, less crowded, this time. I'll have a word with the both of them."

>>717307
"I could use a hand… and a blood transfusion…" Waratah weakly mutters, but despite this, he raises up his hand, and gives a thumbs-up, which then collapses. As he does, you hear several sets of footsteps running up the stairs from below. Mingling, overlapping voices shout upward. "Kid! Kid, what's going on up there? Waratah!" they shout variously.

 No.717311

>>717310
"Xallan signpost, got it. I'll see you soon."
Cloud tucks away the conch, feeling proud at hearing how happy Sparrow was at the news. He looks back at Malarky and Granny, assuming the tortoise is now looking and hopefully feeling better.
"You wanna come along, or will you head back to the ship?"
Cloud asks her, read to start heading out himself to give the tortoise a proper walk.

 No.717312

>>717310
"I am hopeful that the luck will perhaps embolden them to work together more, or act a little less paranoid. Caution is good, overly cautious is not." he says, before nodding a little bit and offering a thumbs-up- albeit, rather awkwardly. He's seen others in the Ribcage do it!

With that, Alder tucks the ring away for safekeeping and heads towards the coast. While there'll be a bit of a crowd anywhere, the harbor ought to be open enough to prevent them from using the cover of the crowd.
>Master Thief [1d10] (Am I being followed?

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.717313

>>717310

"Yeah, could somebody help him?" Cutlass shouts back in response. "I may have gone a little too hard."

Then, she looks back to Waratah. "Sorry about that. Seriously."

 No.717314

>>717309
"I may have help to spare," she answers vaguely before leaving.

>>717310
She looks a bit surprised as Chiu grabs her, listening intently. "I thought they would. Thank you for staying behind for us, Chiu. I have an idea of how to destroy them. You may not like it, however." She moves further into the shadows, pulls out the Liber Animarum and gives Chiu a meaningful look. "I ask only that you stand back. I know not what will happen afterwards."

 No.717315

>>717311
"Not like Ah had a whole lot tae do around the ship," Granny says. "Ah cleaned her well enough, and most of the crew is out selling the spices and tea that we recovered from the Lillahput, so there ain't no crew around to make a new mess, isn't there? Ah'll tag along and make sure little… Malarkey, ye said? that he don't get snatched up again by that rodent."

Pulling up her cloak, Granny accompanies you northeast, heading through town and keeping a sharp eye out for other gang members. Yet, all along the slow walk through town, nobody else accosts you. In time, after a fair bit of walking, you come to the city's northeastern gates. A pair of guards standing at ramparts on either side look down, then operate a pulley, which opens up the great gates.

>>717314
Chiu looks down with apprehension at the book, brimming with potent negative energy, which you feel has brewed into a haze of rage and pity. She backs away, her horn aglow, and the shadows cast by the palm tree start to thicken, concealing you further from the public's eye. A shadowy strand rises up to your hoof, shaped like a rope. "I'll cover you while you do… whatever it is you have to do. If anything goes wrong, tug on that and I'll get you."

She starts to head away, looking relieved as she gets distance from the ancient book.

>>717313
"I got it, I got it!" the bartender's gruff voice replies. "Outta my way you blockheads! Muevete!"

The beetle bartender rushes up the stairs, slipping on an old white mask and slipping into the ring. He kneels by Waratah, carrying a large case of medical supplies. Unpacking the supplies, he starts to clean and dress the wounds. It looks like you haven't caused anything too severe, but certainly enough cuts to put him out of commission for a while. As you apologize, Waratah conjures a little purple Aura around his hand, turning it into a thumbs-up. "Hey… I'm never gonna meet El Ganado if I don't push myself, right?"

"You won't meet him if you die, dumbass," the beetle scolds.

>>717312
You head down toward the harbor, finding that, once you get enough distance from the hustle and bustle of the port, it's quite a pleasant day. Instead of a sandy shore, the edge of the island is constructed of massive hexagonal blocks of stone, perfectly cut and arrayed in a straight line heading northeast, though at different elevations so as to create a little variety in terrain level.

Down at the water level, you see a crab. It turns your way after a moment, clacking its claws.

 No.717316

>>717315
"You got that whole ship cleaned up? I wasn't out that long I'm pretty sure."

Cloud walks in the direction Sparrow gave, keeping a close eye on Malarky to ensure he's safe. As they reach the gate, Cloud pauses for a moment.
"Let's not mention the whole kidnapping part, I don't want her to worry about what happened or feel like it was her fault for being tricked by those thugs. It was a simple run away and we'll just suggest she keep the tortoise to herself in the future."
Cloud says to Granny to get stories straight before they head out the gate.

 No.717317

>>717315

Cutlass gives an amused smile in response to Waratah's thumbs-up.

"Now… about my pay…" Cutlass intervenes awkwardly as his wounds are dressed.

 No.717318

>>717315
She tries to hide her own nerves. "Thank you. I am in your debt for this."

She opens to the page depicting Galutisons. She's starting to have second thoughts about all this, but goes through with it anyway. She uses magic to scorch a triangle shape into the ground, placing the open book in the center and kneeling. She has never been good at poetry, but she closes her eyes and does her best to dedicate a haiku to the demon, hoping it will be enough to please Her.

"Great Galutisons

Keeper of urchins and waifs

Mother of rebirth"

[1d10] if needed

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.717319

>>717316
"Ah made a good bit of progress on cleanin' her while that battle was goin' on, but ye sure did leave quite the splatter for me tae mop up, didn't ye! That mast is gonna need a good bit of work, too."

Granny pauses at the suggestion of keeping the truth from her. "Ah'm not gonna step on yer moment, but a girl that naive needs to learn one way or the other that evil is real, and it's got a grip on the world like ye wouldn't believe. Maybe hidin' the truth will keep her from gettin' upset now, but she can't afford to be so trusting as to repeat this mistake."

As you head out from beyond the gate, the countryside expands before you, consisting of a well-worn dirt path, and a hilly forest. There's a somewhat offputting order to it all, as the trees are notiably spaced just enough for them all to grow healthy, and the road is even and without blemish. It strikes you as artificial, contrived in some way. Then, some distance from the gate, there's a fork, where the road splits into a perfect Y-shaped junction. There appears to be nobody around, however.

>>717317
Waratah stirs, but the moment he does, the bartender raises his hand with a gruff look, as if to palm-strike him back down into the mat. Waratah lays back down. "…Sorry, pops."

The bartender grunts, then looks over his shoulder, and whistles at one of the many barflies that came upstairs to check on Waratah. "Check under the counter," he grunts, then gets back to his work.

The barfly nods, then rushes downstairs. After a few moments of waiting, he comes back up the stairs, carrying a bag jingling with coin, and passes it to you. Inside is 440 Bits intead of the agreed-upon 400.

>>717318
https://youtu.be/71i0NvUU2PI

From the triangle sigil, magic energy begins to pool, raw and pure Spirit, unfiltered by any restraints or censors, naked rage and sorrow, mingling in a terrible thirst for justice. It becomes a murky fog, which might rise up from a swamp in some dark corner of the earth, until from it emerges the shape of Galutisons, her face bright and serene, yet her eyes betraying unmistakable killing intent. Something within you begins to stir, the same feelings that might well up when one has done something that cannot be taken back.

Say the word, she softly whispers.

 No.717320

>>717315
Alder clacks his beak in response to the crab, before taking a nice, deep breath of sea air. As much as he'd like to sit back and relax, he decides to move a bit more. He'll unfurl hius wings and flap them a couple times, heading to a different pier on the harbor.
>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.717321

>>717320
As you move about from one harbor to another, you sense a pair of presences watching you. At first it seems that the apprentices have learned nothing from their past failure, but you then sense the presences moving rapidly from place to place below you in alternating and unpredictable criss-cross patterns, until you have no idea where they've ended up. You land after traveling a little distance west, coming to an empty dock with only a few layabouts wandering around between the storefronts.

Nearby, you see another pair of crabs, and this pair appears to be arm-wrestling.

 No.717322

>>717319
"I know, but I can't take that away from her. That's more of her parents job. The best I can do is undo any damage those scorpions could've caused."
Cloud responds.

Cloud looks across the landscape outside, all set up like somepony took deliberate care to set everything the way it is.
"Let's see, she said to meet her by the signpost, so probably over there by the junction. Bit nice out here, almost like a studio set."
He says casually, walking with Malarky out to the junction, then sitting down.
"Hope all this running isn't going to upset my eye."

 No.717323

>>717319

"Wonderful, thank you," Cutlass says with a satisfied nod as she counts the money. "Let me know if you want to conduct further business in the future."

Then, Cutlass heads downstairs to spend some of her money on a lunch and a drink. Despite how unsanitary the place is.

 No.717324

>>717319
She swallows, feeling like she's about to regret this decision. She remains on her knees in prostration, looking up at Galutisons. She's not sure how to address a demon, so she reverts to a more formal, archaic form of the common tongue.

"I come before thee, great Galutisons, to ask thee to sate thy lust for vengeance." She points towards the alley. "The three that wait there. Bark Scorpions, they call themselves. They were once slaves, until they were granted their freedom, and took this opportunity to enslave others themselves. They flaunt their connections and run unchecked through this city, sowing misery, taking from those less fortunate than them. I know not their true names, save for those they were given. One-five, Four-two, and Three-nine. They make deals with the worst of them. The animal peddler hath given them this life, and together they rob from mere children. I prithee, strike down these villains, and bring justice to this accursed town." She looks down humbly, waiting for her response.

 No.717325

>>717321
"Hmm… I see they learned something, at least. the griffon remarks, trying to look unaware. He drops down to the beach and strolls for a little, picking up a few seashells and pocketing them- making sure to nestle them in a few different places he might stow the ring, and subtly re-arranging the ring on his person.
>Innocent: trying to do it as nonchalantly as possible. Maybe they haven't caught on he's more aware than he looks?

 No.717326

>>717322
"Assumin' she's got 'em," Granny bitterly notes. "These seas are harsh to everyone who wanders them. Ah've seen more than mah share of broken families out on these waters… a terrible, terrible thing to behold."

https://youtu.be/aXz9PiaopK8

After a little while of waiting, you hear a fluttering of tiny, tiny wings, and hear a choked sob of joy. Out of nowhere, a small Breezie, resembling a bright red ladybug, darts forward, landing upon Malarkey's head. The tortoise rubs his head against the ladybug breezie, and she in kind rubs her head against his. "H-he's really, you're really…" the Breezie mutters between joyous sobs, and you recognize her voice as Sparrow's. A group of other ladybug breezies fly about her, forming a protective boundary, many eyeing you with suspicion. Sparrow shows no such suspicion, and turns your way with a little bow. "Y-you must be Cloud then?" she asks.

>>717324
Though Galutisons' eyes are full of vengeance, a tiny tinge of sorrow colors their very core, as though she regrets that this must be done.

"Death begets death, vengeance, vengeance, suffering, suffering, and evil, evil. Let this be the end of the day's black karma," she intones.

She then slowly turns her head about in an arc, as owls can do. For a few moments, just as her head turns around toward the back, she pauses, as if there is some resistance to it. Then, with a chitinous and wet SNAP, she turns her head all the way around.

You hear three shapes collapse nearby. Galutisons looks at you from her twisted angle.

>>717323
The lunch special's still being served, you find, and you manage to get a margarita and an extra-large enchilada for only ten bits. The backup bartender, a centipede-tribe Krikral that wears a tie, looks at you with suspicion, then pulls back the margarita. "How old are you?" he asks.

>>717325
[2d10]

Roll #1 10, 7 = 17

 No.717327

>>717325
>>717326
For a few moments, all is calm on the rocky beach, and you are free to gather shells and rocks and other baubles that catch your eye, until too late, you sense two shadows come up on you, passing behind you. You wheel around in time to see two foot-tall spiders, twins, one wearing a sneering kitsune mask, the other a laughing tengu mask. You have no idea which of the spiders holds the ring, only that the ring is no longer on your person, and one of the sea-shells isn't either. However, that shell was quite wet when you found it. Perhaps that might serve as a clue?

Both spiders pause as they meet your gaze, holding perfectly still.

 No.717328

>>717326

In response to the question, Cutlass smiles and gives the Centipede 5 more bits.

 No.717329

>>717328
"My mistake, miss," the centipede says, bending down one of his antennae to rub at his eye. "Mistook you for someone else. Please, enjoy."

He slides the margarita back to you.

 No.717331

>>717329

Cutlass gives a satisfied nod as she receives her drink. She immediately takes a sip and savors it.

She then goes on to enjoy the enchilada, eating it with utensils like a dignified pony.

As she eats and drinks, she looks around the room - both to see if there's anything worth noting and if there's anyone suspicious eyeing her.

[1d10] Master Thief if applicable

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.717332

"Oh… I didn't think of that."
Cloud says, silent after that while they wait.

Cloud sits, watching the clouds as they wait. At hearing the fluttering of wings, Cloud brings his head down, surprised that its a breezie and not a kid that flies out and latches onto the tortoise. Cloud stands up, giving a nod of the head.
"Yup, and you must be Sparrow."
He says in greeting, happy to see her happy, though surprised again as more breezies fly out to form a barrier of sorts. Though, given their size, he can't blame them.
"And this here is Granny," Cloud says to introduce her, "Managed to track Malarky here down in a bit of a dirty spot, so she helped me clean him up after his little walk."

 No.717333

>>717327
>>717326
Alder blinks a couple of times, ducking back when the two of them sweep past him. He regards them calmly, and cocks his head to the side. "Working together? You definitely have gotten better." he remarks, offering a friendly smile.
>Master Thief [1d10] The griffon looks the pair over while praising them, trying to spot a clue of who has the shell, and who doesn't- does he see any water?

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.717334

>>717331
The margarita is strong and burns on the way down, and the enchilada is little different, packed with spices and chiles that are hard to get down on account of the pure kick they've got to them, but it's absolutely delicious, the kind of delicious that one can only find in low-down, mean joints like this. Apart from the bar, there appears to be a number of magitech gizmos set up, including a jukebox, pinball machine, and arcade cabinet, as well as a pool table. the other barflies lounge about, chatting and drinking and arguing and joking, but they give you a wide berth, having heard quickly of your might, demonstrated by your fight with Waratah.

>>717332
Some of the older breezies look doubtful at your account, but Sparrow buys it whole, tears in her tiny eyes still.
"Aye, it's thanks to this one here that we found him," Granny says. "Ye shoulda heard 'im, 'e was goin' up and down the shore makin' tortoise calls tae get Malarkey's attention!"

Granny laughs at this obvious lie, but Sparrow's eyes brighten. "Really? You did all that to find him? He must've really gotten lost, then… can I hear one?"

>>717333
You see that the one wearing the kitsune mask has a few droplets of water stained on his pouch and on one of his forelegs, while the one in the tengu mask has none.
The two spiders look at eachother, nervous energy in the air. They silently look back at you, offer you waves, then start to slowly walk back up the shore, again without a word.

>Paused

 No.717335

>>717326
She keeps her eyes down, flinching ever so slightly as she hears the bodies fall. "It is done, then," she says quietly. "What wouldst thou ask of me in return? I am at thy command."

 No.717337

>>717335
Galutisons slowly turns her head back around, her expression pained, mournful but without regret. She shrinks, her leaf feathers flattening against her sides, the fire in her eyes cooling into embers. With a deep inhale, she breathes out a dark smoke, which swirls and twists, revealing murky purple and black hues. The smoke coalesces, becoming solid, and eventually takes the shape of a seed, about the size of your eye.

You asked for Death, and so I give you Death, Galutisons whispers. Death frees one's Karma, their Spirit. With nowhere to go, that Karma would roam the earth, until it could find an innocent soul to terrorize, just as these three did in their lives. You must be its keeper, until it can be cleansed.

 No.717338

>>717337
She hesitantly takes the seed, cradling it in her hooves. She looks up at the demon complacently. "I shall do what must be done," she answers quietly. "How shall it be cleansed?"

 No.717339

>>717338
The mountain-peak where this seed was to be planted is gone; the Island-Turtle on which it rested has been shattered, its corpse cut into pieces and strewn across the seas. But on the course of your journey, you shall find soil from this mountain, far from its home. You shall find water from an exalted spring that will be suitable to succor it. And at the proper time, the winds of the great phoenix's wings shall sweep you to another mountain, one whose peak pierces the veil between this world and the next. There, you will plant the seed, and all the Karma that you have gathered in your journey – not just from these thugs, but from all lives that have brushed against yours – will bloom.

If you have minded my wards, protecting the helpless, feeding the emaciated, freeing the slaves, this good Karma will give birth to a benevolent tree, and all who find its fruit shall be cleansed… and if you have spent your days in evil, selling the weak to slavers, thirsting for blood, finding delight in cruelty and dishonest schemes, this Karma will give birth to a tree whose roots shall choke the lands.


Galutisons turns toward the book, casting one final look over her shoulder at you. I will guide you, and aid you at your request, and I am certain the other denizens of this book shall be more than happy to help you bring this seed to full bloom, though for good or ill, you must judge.

 No.717536

>>717334
Cloud gives the shortest of looks to Granny at having to imitate a turtle now because of her.
"Sure, no problem. Now I'm not quite the best at this, it was more to get a response since I can hear from pretty far away."
Cloud says with a little flick of his bat ears. He tries to think if he's ever heard a tortoise call, or even a tortoise sound in general before. He has difficulties in trying, but he makes his best attempt.
>Tortoise Call [1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.717538

>>717536
Granny simply smiles back, her eyebrows high with smug mirth, a silent, Do somethin' about it, lad.

And indeed you do: On a hunch, you start to make a low, heavy grunting sound, sort of like a cow's moo, only a little more gutteral, rough and lizard-y. Malarkey looks up at you, craning his long dry neck up to your level. He sniffs you with suspicion, but the ladybug breezie tribe appears to be moderately impressed with your impression. Some, who were skeptical of your claim earlier, appear now to be convinced.

"Th-that's… shockingly accurate!" Sparrow says. "No wonder you were able to find him so easily. Oh, here, let me get your payment."

From under her carapace, she draws a tiny pouch, and a cloth parcel tied up in string, and holds them out to you.

 No.717540

>>717538
Cloud gives a light chuckle after his attempt, surprising even himself as the breezies buy it and Malarkey sniffs up at him.
"Heheh, well I am pretty good at tracking."

Cloud looks own at the tiny pouch and parcel, taking them in his hoof, and then untying the parcel that he assumes the cookies are in.
"Thank you. Now how about we share some of it to celebrate?"

 No.717541

>>717540
Within the pouch is a stack of fresh sugar cookies, each about the size of a coin. There's five in total in there; more than enough for a cloud of Breezies, but hardly enough for Cloud.

Sparrow looks at you with surprise that you would offer to share the reward. "Are… you sure? That's not really going to be enough for you alone, you know. I figured a big person would be the one to find Malarkey, so I tried to make as many as I could, but we didn't have enough even for that."

 No.717542

>>717541
"Of course I'm sure. I got a little trick for stuff like this."
Cloud says with a smile. He lowers his hoof, looking down at the tiny coin-sized cookies. His eye glows orange as he focuses his magic, with a lighter blue glow under his eyepatch. as he attempts to grow the cookies up to a good size for him, which would be a feast size compared to the breezies.
>Wax/Wane [Grow Cookies] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.717543

>>717542
You successfully grow the cookies out to the size of small plates. A single one would suffice for the entire cloud of Breezies now. Your spell captures their awe, but while they descend on the top cookie to lift it off for themselves, your head starts to hurt, ears ringing with a shrill tone. The blue glow returns to the darkness of your vision.

"Wow!" Sparrow says, taking off a chunk of the cookie for herself. "That solves that. You're amazing, mister!"
"Would you perhaps mind growing a few more things for us?" asks another breezie, much older, sort of an elder-looking type. "We could use more sap from…" he looks at you more closely. "…Are you feeling alright?"

 No.717544

>>717543
Cloud feels a bit too confident as he grows the cookies, the awe helping feed his ego. But then the glow in his eyes flickers and fades, raising his other forehoof to his head as it throbs.
"Y-Yea, just a little headache."
Cloud says, though he sways slightly as if he's lightheaded, clearly not as fine as he claims.
"Sure, I just need to rest a little. I, eheh, was supposed to take it easy today."

 No.717545

>>717544
The elder ladybug breezie frowns, even as he munches on a bit of cookie. "I think not, good sir. Something ails you, and I'll not impose on an infirm stallion. Take your leave and get rest, then on the morrow we can discuss this again, if you shoud feel keen again."
Granny puts her hoof against your temple, and it starts to feel slightly better, the pain dulling and sound shrinking. You hear her muttering a soft incantation under her breath. "Aye, come now, Cloud. We've done our work here, 'tis better we get you back to the ship. Else Ah suspect Chiu will be more than cross with me fer lettin' ya push yerself too hard."

 No.717546

>>717545
Cloud takes a bite of one of the cookies as both the elder breezie and Granny interject and tell him to take it easy.
"Alright… But I'll head back out here tomorrow and we can talk about that help you needed."

Cloud feels a bit relieved, lowering his hoof as the pain subsides from Granny's incantation. He stands up, wrapping the rest of the cookies up. Though he wobbles a bit after, putting a hoof on Granny's shoulder for a little stability.
"Phew… Keep an eye on Malarky now Sparrow, Gotta make sure those that walk him can really handle it."

 No.717547

>>717546
Sparrow plops herself firmly down on Malarkey's head, which, with a slow blink, he seems to enjoy. "I'll never leave this perch again! I've pledged to every god I know that I'll keep him safe."

With that, the Breezie cloud offer their goodbyes and thank yous between bites of sugar cookie, but don't leave until you do – given their sudden entrance earlier, perhaps they don't want anyone knowing where they live. Granny helps you back down the path, going no faster than you can manage, and you notice that you can't manage much more than a hobble, all the exertion since your surgery catching back up to you. "Ooh dear. Ah'd definitely say that's more than enough work for ye today. Chiu'd exorcise me from mah bell if Ah don't get ya back to yer room."

 No.717744

Last time on PirateQuest…

The party was still split up, finishing up the jobs that they'd taken on earlier in the day.

Cutlass had finished her duel with Waratah, perhaps going a bit too far in her final attack, but she had nonetheless fulfilled her end of the bargain by helping push Waratah past his Breakpoint, so that he could develop a new Aura ability.

Cerulean had split off from Thessaly and Cloud around the time that they intimidated the corrupt pet seller, because she remembered that her Beetlebands were still in need of repair after the duel with Kahuan's Beetlebands. While she looked for a shop that could repair them, she came across a trio of scorpion-tribe Krikral – the Bark Scorpion Gang, who unbeknownst to Cerulean at the time were planning to jump Thessaly and Cloud to steal back Malarkey and teach them a lesson. Cerulean, after overhearing the gang talking about looking for ponies matching Thessaly's and Cloud's descriptions, knew something was up, and confronted them. A tense argument followed, and the result was that Cerulean intimidated the gang into retreating back behind the Coop's Stoop bar, putting off their plans to get revenge.

Cloud and Thessaly intimdated the seedy, pet-selling rabbit into giving up Malarkey without a fight, and while Cloud oversaw Malarkey's safe delivery back to Sparrow, Thessaly summoned Galutisons to discreetly kill all members of the Bark Scorpion gang as justice for their crimes of vandalism, kidnapping of pets, and selling said pets to abusive merchants.

Alder was busy training two spider-tribe Krikral to be better pickpockets; they managed to steal the ring off of him once, but got by mostly due to good luck making up for their amateurish tactics. The second round was the time to put on the pressure.

 No.717745

>Cutlass
The margarita is strong and burns on the way down, and the enchilada is little different, packed with spices and chiles that are hard to get down on account of the pure kick they've got to them, but it's absolutely delicious, the kind of delicious that one can only find in low-down, mean joints like this. Apart from the bar, there appears to be a number of magitech gizmos set up, including a jukebox, pinball machine, and arcade cabinet, as well as a pool table. the other barflies lounge about, chatting and drinking and arguing and joking, but they give you a wide berth, having heard quickly of your might, demonstrated by your fight with Waratah.

>Alder

You see that the one wearing the kitsune mask has a few droplets of water stained on his pouch and on one of his forelegs, while the one in the tengu mask has none.
The two spiders look at eachother, nervous energy in the air. They silently look back at you, offer you waves, then start to slowly walk back up the shore, again without a word.

>Cloud

Sparrow plops herself firmly down on Malarkey's head, which, with a slow blink, he seems to enjoy. "I'll never leave this perch again! I've pledged to every god I know that I'll keep him safe."

With that, the Breezie cloud offer their goodbyes and thank yous between bites of sugar cookie, but don't leave until you do – given their sudden entrance earlier, perhaps they don't want anyone knowing where they live. Granny helps you back down the path, going no faster than you can manage, and you notice that you can't manage much more than a hobble, all the exertion since your surgery catching back up to you. "Ooh dear. Ah'd definitely say that's more than enough work for ye today. Chiu'd exorcise me from mah bell if Ah don't get ya back to yer room."

>Thessaly

The mountain-peak where this seed was to be planted is gone; the Island-Turtle on which it rested has been shattered, its corpse cut into pieces and strewn across the seas. But on the course of your journey, you shall find soil from this mountain, far from its home. You shall find water from an exalted spring that will be suitable to succor it. And at the proper time, the winds of the great phoenix's wings shall sweep you to another mountain, one whose peak pierces the veil between this world and the next. There, you will plant the seed, and all the Karma that you have gathered in your journey – not just from these thugs, but from all lives that have brushed against yours – will bloom.

If you have minded my wards, protecting the helpless, feeding the emaciated, freeing the slaves, this good Karma will give birth to a benevolent tree, and all who find its fruit shall be cleansed… and if you have spent your days in evil, selling the weak to slavers, thirsting for blood, finding delight in cruelty and dishonest schemes, this Karma will give birth to a tree whose roots shall choke the lands.

Galutisons turns toward the book, casting one final look over her shoulder at you. I will guide you, and aid you at your request, and I am certain the other denizens of this book shall be more than happy to help you bring this seed to full bloom, though for good or ill, you must judge.

 No.717746

>Cerulean
After intimidating the Bark Scorpion Gang into dropping their plans of revenge, you took a moment, standing by one of the dock town's major roads, to collect your thoughts and the tasks before you.

You still had the jobs you collected earlier, as well as the matter of finding a repair shop for your Beetlebands. The latter would take less time, as the jobs were out in the countryside. The sky is a light afternoon blue, so it's reasonable to figure that either job would take up the rest of the day, and would best be undertaken with an ally or two for backup. There's also the news that you met with Bee Holder and Sir Kukulcan about the underwater expedition. There's a lot to do, but since the expedition is a week away, there's not an urgent rush to get it all done right away.

 No.717747

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>717745
"Maybe just a little… Let's head over to Coop's Stoop first. Chiu's over there, and Thessaly went back there too. …And I should probably fix the pinball machine I stopped up."
Cloud walks with Granny down the path towards the city, feeling his strength draining from him quickly. Rushing to save Malarky from becoming soup burnt through whatever energy he had faster than he thought. He pops the rest of his cookie in his mouth, then holds up the others to Granny.
"Want one? For helping out and all."

 No.717748

>>717747
Granny looks sidelong at the cookie, trying to avoid direct eye contact with it but tempted all the same. "Ach! Nae, doon't tempt me. Those smell like they came out their wee Breezie oven not two minutes ago. Ah'll start gettin' nostalgic and start prattlin' on about me auld country. 'Sides, ye look like ye need the blood sugar more than me."

The walk continues, as Manenhi is not a small town by any stretch of the imagination, and you're hobbling along at a slow pace. You see the city gates in the distance, and they slide open again for you as you approach, with the guards looking down at you with a little concern in their expressions.

 No.717749

>>717744
>>717745
She bows her head and puts the seed away. "I shall carry out thy wishes, great Galutisons. I am hereby indebted to thee." She tries not to show her hesitation as she ponders the implications of this promise.

 No.717750

>>717748
"I insist. Besides, I can pick up some more food when we get back to the ship. It's the least I can give for leaning on you all this time."
Cloud says, holding up a cookie again.
"Better take it while it's still warm."

Cloud is a little surprised at how long it took them to reach the gate, more beat than he thought he was. He looks up at the guards as they show concern, and waves to them.
"Just a little exhausted, no need to worry!"
As they continue on, Cloud opens up the other little bag that Sparrow handed him.

 No.717751

>>717749
Galutisons sticks out her foot, and steps back into the book, her body becoming a flowing stream of curling ink, as she returns from being a flesh and blood demon to an illustration upon the page, bound to the seal of the book.

By the way… a haiku, I may accept in a pinch, but I am used to being summoned with long verses, a keen meter, clever rhymes. Mix it up a little, the next time you call upon me.

 No.717752

>>717750
Granny rolls her eyes and takes only half the sugar cookie that you offer, but has no snark or jokes this time. She holds up the cookie for a moment and shuts her eyes, silently walking along. With this little prayer done, she bites into it, and hums with approval.

The guards nod gruffly as you assure them nothing's wrong, and leave you to it. Inside the bag are a set of small Bits, shrunken down for Breezie transactions, presumably. It looks like the agreed-upon amount is within, though it's hard to tell with each of them being the size of beads.

 No.717753

>>717751
>flesh and blood
More like wood and leaves but you get the picture

 No.717754

>>717751
She blinks a little at Galutisons' request. She didn't expect a demon to have a more light hearted side. "…It will be done," is all she can bring herself to say to her. Once she returns to the book, she closes it and goes to find Chiu, shaking a little from the encounter. "It is done," she says simply to the mare.

 No.717755


 No.717756

>>717752
Cloud takes the other half, munching away on that as they continue their walk.

He peers into the bag of bits, assuming it's likely what was said. Though he doesn't care too much, saving the pet was the important reason he took it, anything else was just a bonus. He puts the tiny pouch into his bag, leaving checking and the portion for his wishes to be taken later.

 No.717757

>>717754
Galutisons has a hooting little laugh after hearing your reply.

After the darkness surrounding you vanishes, you see Chiu sitting on a dockside bench, nonchalantly tossing breadcrumbs to some nearby birds. The birds, oddly, remain near even as you approach. Chiu gets a little closer, seeing you shivering, but stops herself short. "Are… you alright? You're trembling," she whispers. "…Did – did it ask anything of you? A price for killing them?"

 No.717758

>>717745

Cutlass takes a sip of the margarita and coughs and laughs as soon as she swallows it. She shakes her head and immediately goes for a bite of her enchilada. Then she has the same reaction to that as well.

She doesn't dislike it. On the contrary, she enjoys a good kick to her drinks and food. Pirates always love rum. And, it certainly has a kind of kick. But, it's too… earthy for her. This has a far more acidic kick. Sadly, her body is unused to the processing the beverage. And, her petite size means that after a few sips, she is already lightheaded. As she drinks more of the margarita, the numbness of her mouth causes the enchilada to be disappointingly less and less powerful.

As a result, she finishes her food quickly. Without anything to pair it with, she throws back the remainder of margarita. She then takes in the bar around her. Or, at least, what she can see through her now-wavy vision.

She sees the pool table and wobbles over to it. She's unsure as to why (though it's probably obvious to any observer), but she's feeling far more social. So, she goes over to talk to whoever is currently playing pool.

 No.717759

>>717758
Dodging various uncomfortable looks from the centipede bartender, you make your way to the pool table, which, much like the rest of the room, is having quite a bad bit of spinning and wobbling from side to side. It's a wonder how all those balls are remaining flat and steady on its surface. At the table right now are a pair of tall monkeys, macaques in fact. They're wearing ratty sailor's garb, styled like open-chested robes and held together with cloth strips. They've also got on clogs and headbands, the latter of which are adorned with curving black symbols. A small crowd of barflies gather around them, quietly watching them set up a game.

 No.717760

>>717756
The cookie provides a good bit of energy as you walk, and true to her word, Granny lets out a very nostalgic sigh as she finishes off her half of the cookie. "Aye… sweets always do this to me. Ah'll spare ye the yarn til yer feelin' rested and well again, but yer in for an earful sooner or later!"

Shortly, you see Chiu and Thessaly gathered at a bench on the dockside, sitting with a little crowd of wild seagulls and pigeons beneath the shade of a tall palm tree.

 No.717761

>>717757
She shows Chiu the karmic seed. "I… I do not fully understand what it cost," she admits. "I feel like I will have much work to do, from hereon out. Three evil lives were ended, but the bill will still come due." She looks pensive as she examines the seed further, turning it over in her hooves. She looks back to Chiu. "I think I shall have to make a change," she says simply. She then slinks into the alley to examine the bodies.

 No.717762

>>717759

As Cutlass reaches the pool table and sees all the people around, she suddenly feels a tinge of awkwardness. Only one thing to do about that!

"Bartender!" she shouts in a giddy sing-song tone from across the bar. "Another margarita, pleeeeease!"

Then, she turns back to the pool table. "So, what's going on here?" she asks whoever is nearby. "Everyone's gathered around. Looks serious."

 No.717763

>>717746
Cerulean gives a slight huff after scaring them off, then gives a stretch with a yawn.
"Jeez, talk about annoying." With that done, Cerulean thinks it est to get her little Beetleband fixed up, so goes off in search of such a repair shop.

 No.717764

>>717761
Chiu studies the seed with puzzlement and morbid curiosity, but still looks fearful of it, knowing its origin. "Knowing what they were doing, I can't say I'm gonna lose any sleep over this," Chiu says. "But, Cloud's still paying the cost of a deal he made with a demon weeks and weeks ago. We shouldn't make it a habit to pick up curses and demon deals every time we wash up on another island."

"A change? Alright, just watch your back," she then says, as you head for the alleyway. The row between the bar and the neighboring building is your stock bar alleyway; unclean, scuttling with rats, and populated sparsely by empty, broken crates and various doors and staircases leading up to other doorways; a series of seedy hole-in-the-wall establishments for all your less-than-legal needs.

The three members of the former Bark Scorpion Gang lie dead there, laying strewn across the cobblestone. Their heads, faces frozen with shock, are twisted completely around, facing up at the sky. No blood contaminates the alleyway.

>>717762
The macaques turn your way, surveying you quietly in spite of their rough appearances. "Pool," the shorter monkey says gruffly in an accent you've never heard before. "I've got to polish off my skills. That old chimp's got two games on me. It's an absolute disgrace."
"Sore loser says what?" the taller monkey shoots back.
"Wh–" the shorter monkey screws up his lips with frustration.

The centipede bartender brings you another margarita, but holds it back until you pay again.

>>717763
It's easy to get lost in Manenhi's streets, you soon realize, as while the market district's adobe buildings are lined up by each of the terraced strata, many buildings house two, three, or even four shops, stacked on top of one another like apartments in a major city. With a bit of searching, though, you eventually find a listing for a repair shop at the top of one of the taller buildings. You ascend the staircase up to the top level, finding an old wooden door at the end of the hall.

A bell rings as you open the door to a rustic, but cluttered, office, the air clicking and clacking with the rhythm of clockwork mechanics. Many clockwork machines lay scattered around the many desks and workbenches. An old-looking spider-tribe Krikral, about your size, sits at a bench in the middle of the room, fiddling with the interior of a clock and several tools. He looks your way as you enter, and offers you a grunt. "Picking up or dropping off?"

 No.717765

>>717745
>[1d10]
The griffon waits a moment or two for the two to turn their backs and start returning, before silently following along. He'll wait for them to start talking, and attempt to swap the spider's ring for another sea shell.

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717766

>>717765
You follow along as the two spider siblings head up toward the town's upper level once more, keeping close to one another. You cling to the shadows, always remaining just out of sight.
"Is it really going to be this easy?" the tengu-mask spider asks, in a young male voice.
"I… maybe?" the kitsune-mask spider responds, a female's voice. "Maybe he's going easy on us. He gave us a chase the last time, but…"

As they discuss this, you creep up and deftly switch out the ring from the pouch with a small sea-shell, the spiders none the wiser.

[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.717767

>>717764
Cerulean absent-mindedly looks at the clockwork stuff, not seeing much of these in working condition since clockwork things don't tend to survive being in the water for a long time…assuming they even survive their initial 'trip' in.
"Oh! Dropping off. My little beetle buddies ended up getting into a fight," she says, taking the Beetleband out.

 No.717768

>>717766
Alder pockets the ring- taking time to fasten it to a string, and to tie the string around hos own talons- before slipping it in his pocket and trying to find the closest pub to slip in to for a little bit!

>Do I need to roll? Not sure

 No.717769

>>717764

Cutlass gives the bartender 7 bits and a wink. She telekinetically holds the drink next to her face, taking a sip from it every now and then.

"Hey, I think the old guy just admitted to being a sore loser," Cutlass says with a sly grin.

[1d10] to get him to fall for the trap

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.717770

>>717764
"This was only out of necessity for discretion," she replies. "And, it lusted for vengeance before. I thought it apt to give it what it wished for."

She has little reaction as she examines the bodies. There's very little to mourn here, if at all. She looks around for any doors that might be in the immediate vicinity.
>[1d10] Perception if needed

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.717771

>>717760
"Heh, I'd like that actually. Hearing some stories rather than going out for more jobs sounds good right about now."

>>717760
>>717761
As they see Chiu and Thessaly in the distance ,Cloud raises a hoof again to wave over.
"Hey you two!"
He shouts out as Granny helps him over.

"Malarky is safe and sound back home," Cloud says to update them, followed by holding up the remaining two cookies, "Here's your shares."

 No.717772

>>717771
Thessaly is moving into a nearby alley, but gives Cloud a rather grim nod before disappearing around the corner.

 No.717773

>>717768
After pausing to think about it, the griffon flicks one of them with his tail as he folds into a crowd. He wants them to get the ring, if they can!
>Perception (Do they notice?) [1d10]
>Ducking into the crowd near the docks, heading for a pub. [1d10] (Does innocent apply maybe?)

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 2 = 2

 No.717774

>>717767
The most common items are clocks, followed by wind-up toys, record players, even little silent film machines that play a little film skit for a Bit.

The spider wheels over his rolling chair and examines the Beetlebands with care, feeling them with his many legs for damages. "…Hohoho… Used to roll with a few of these when I was out on the waves," he mumbles, half to himself. "Hmm. This isn't your normal wear and tear… Something really tried to take a bite out of 'em… hmm… nothing serious." He looks up. "I can have 'em fixed right up by the hour for 50 Bits and a promise that you'll take care of 'em."

>>717770
There are many such doors, but a good number of them have hustle and bustle coming from the other end. It is not until you press a little further into the alley that you find a quiet door, one suitable for using the key discreetly.

>>717771
"Later, later, once we're settled down," Granny says.

>>717771
Chiu's expression lightens upon seeing Cloud back, taking the cookie eagerly. "A job well… done…" Chiu says, examining your face with returning worry. "Looking a little pale there, big guy. You didn't push yourself too hard, did you?" she asks with force.

>>717769
The centipede bartender's expression becomes one of deepening regret.
The shorter macaque fumes, but tightens his mouth, and prepares to make the break shot to start the game, but the taller monkey hoots, getting his attention. "What now!?" the shorter monkey barks.
"Girl, do you know how to play?" the taller monkey asks, with a gesture at the table.

>>717773
The kitsune-mask spider leaps with an 'eep' as you flick her with her tail, and darts around just in time to see you slip among a crowd of sailors heaving cargo off their ship into the open markets. Perhaps getting past a bug with eight eyes will be harder than it seemed.
"Why would he…?" Kitsune-mask asks.
"He's just being a sore loser," Tengu-mask says.
"No sore loser looks that confident…" Kitsune-mask counters, and you hear her digging into her pouch.

Now might be the time to split.

 No.717775

>>717774

"I mean, everyone knows HOW to play billiards," Cutlass says drunkenly. "I am not terribly experienced. You want me to play?" she offers, stumbling forward, then taking another sip.

 No.717776

>>717774
Alder zig-zags through the crowd, smiling a little bit when one of them seems aware enough to check. He'll try to stick in the middle of the crowd for a moment or two, before making a break for an alleyway and trying to fly to the roof once he's out of sight.
>[1d10] sneaky bird

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.717777

>>717774
She pulls out the key and opens the door to Gullveig's domain, double checking before she does to make sure no one is watching. She'll have to find a way to move the bodies so they aren't found.

 No.717778

>>717774
Cloud takes a seat on the bench next to Chiu, feeling better quickly as he gets off his hooves. He smiles as she takes the cookie, about to talk about his job well done, but the drilling stare can't keep him from playing up his well being for long.
"I… may have used my magic…. quite a bit."
He says slowly, as a child would when they admit a wrong doing, rather than exhaustion.
"But everything's all good aside from that. I'll just need to lie down, for a while. What have you been up to?"

>>717772
>>717774
Cloud watches as Thessaly walks off, turning to Chiu.
"Is she going to fight those scorpions now?"

 No.717779

>>717774
"Sounds great!" She hands over the 50 bits.
"And yeah, I got tricked. A guy wanted to do a duet, but then it turned into some weird fight thing."

 No.717780

>>717775
The taller macaque points with his stick at the shorter monkey. "This one has not yet earned the right to face my stick again. You shall be his opponent."
The shorter macaque glowers with indignance at this insult. "Bastard… you're not going to humor this fool, are you? Challenge him, instead! He doesn't deserve to face me if he's going to waste time with petty snipes like this!"

>>717776
Both spiders gasp the moment that you slip into the crowd, as to them it looks as if you had vanished among the bodies without a trace. In alarm, they start to rifle through their pouches while you make your getaway. Around the time you dip into the alleyway, your thief-senses pick up a spike of alarm in the air, and you hear a rapid darting of quick, precise movement. As you take to the sky, you hear them zipping after the path you took for your getaway.

https://youtu.be/qsL1ijWybus

[1d10+1] Kitsune
[1d10+1] Tengu

>>717777
The flower-key fits into the door's keyhole as if it were crafted for it and for no other door. You unlock and open the door, seeing Gullveig's dusty, cluttered shop on the other side. You see a ghostly afterimage of the door you opened floating before you, but you can pass right through it without trouble – it must be some kind of illusion.

On the other side, you see Gullveig, in her small horned owl form, sitting on a perch, asleep, while the Knight of Crowsbane sweeps one of the corners, having not noticed you yet.

>>717778
Chiu sternly glares at you for a full minute. It's long and more uncomfortable than any stare you've ever gotten, except perhaps from when you got in real trouble as a colt.

When that's done, Chiu kisses the side of your head. "I was keeping an eye on that Bark Scorpion gang. When you left the bar, I saw them trail you for a few streets. They hid behind some of the delivery carts that had stopped in the bazaar, waiting for you to come back out, but Cerulean ran into them and chased them off. They went back behind the bar…" she gulps. "And Thessaly conjured a demon to kill them."

Granny sharply inhales, but says nothing more.

>>717779
The old spider clicks his tongue with annoyance. "Kids these days… they outlawed street challenges that after all the damage that the Boombox Pirates caused back when I was a hatchling… still didn't stop me from tearing up the waves and other pirate ships with my jams… but those days are behind me… I hung up my axe long ago."

He sighs with nostalgia, sitting there for a long while. Then, he passes you a shred of papyrus, a quill pen and ink. "Leave your name and Conch Code there. I'll call you once it's all done."

Your beetlebands sit before the old spider, fascinated with his story.

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5 / Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4

 No.717781

>>717780
She clears her throat to get the Knight's attention. "Sir Knight. Wake your master, would you kindly. I have completed the task she set for me."

 No.717782

>>717780

Cutlass looks between the two of them with a thoughtful expression on her face. Then, she cracks a smile.

"Well, I think what you two need is to get along. So, how bout a team game? You two against me and… I don't know… Who here wants to play?" Cutlass asks, looking at the others standing around the table.

[1d10] to get the best pool player teammate possible. (Master Thief if it is somehow applicable…?)

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.717783

>>717780
Cloud nearly sweats from the intensity of her glare, guilt from overexerting himself rising only to be quashed by her kiss.
"You're really good at that."

"They followed us? They really take their pinball seriously…"
Cloud then pauses, almost unsure of what he heard.
"She summoned a demon?! I didn't know she could do that. Is… Is she alright?"

 No.717784

>>717780
"Woah…I didn't know there was a whole thing to it all. If you didn't look so busy, I'd ask about more but…yeah." Cerulean writes down her name and conch code, then sets it next to her Beetleband. She looks down and pats each of them on the head.
"I'll be back for ya, so be good while I'm away, okay?" She smiles then walks out.

 No.717785

>>717780
Alder tries to change rooftops- discreet enough to be hard to follow, but easy enough to spot a trace of!
>[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.717786

>>717781
The Knight nods and salutes sharply, clicking his heels as he marches to Gullveig's side. "Rise and shine, my mistress! Our champion awaits her dues."
Gullveig yawns and stretches both her big forearms and her bigger wings, fluffing out all her feathers with a slow blink. "Hoo-hoo-hoo, and much sooner than I thought you'd be back. Good work."

She hops down from her perch and fishes around behind the counter, retrieving a bag of Bits. Inside are 440 Bits – your payment and a little tip to boot. "So, how'd you do it?"

>>717782
Many among the crowd, tough as they look, show no signs of volunteering to be your companion, and you taste a bit of fear in the air, presumably of the monkeys' skills.

https://youtu.be/Vhg7HRm6MuE

"Ch'yeah, I'm game!" a voice says from the back. Out of the crowd wheels a bizarre sight: An aquarium on wheels rolls out from among the crowd. Inside is a scarred, tough-looking dolphin wearing sunglasses, and with a big set of shark teeth in his mouth. On the rim of the aquarium ride a set of Beetlebands, much like Cerulean's, only decked out with magitech instruments. They jam out a theme song as he approaches.

"Kahuan, brah," the dolphin says. "Your name?"

The two monkeys share a look, and whisper among each other, darting glances back at you. They then shake hands. "We accept this challenge," the monkeys then conclude.

>>717783
"With as many siblings as I have, I got to see it in action quite often, growing up," Chiu says.

"I didn't get too much out of her, but she was really shaken after it was over. I wouldn't say she got off easy though. She had this little tree seed with her after it was done. Whatever price she'll have to pay for the demon's service, that will definitely be related to it."

>>717784
The spider sighs. "…Nah, I wouldn't share that story. Couldn't share. Those days are… not ones I'm fond of revisiting. Don't follow the path I did. Whatever your tune is – rockin', shreddin', rappin', jammin', croonin' – use it for righteousness, not for greed or ambition."

The beetlebands wave as you leave. You then return to the busy streets, just in time to see Alder woosh overhead through the open space between buildings, pursued in short order by a pair of spiders who are swinging from building to building with webs that shoot from their legs, mouths, and abdomens in alternating fashion.

>>717785
You zoom in between the tall roofs of the western district, spotting Cerulean below you as you fly out into the street just long enough to give the spiders a trail to follow. You see them try to follow you, but you are far ahead owing to your speed.

[1d10+1] K
[1d10+1] T

As they pursue you, you see the white top of the Guard's Guild building off in the distance, toward the eastern end of town.

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9 / Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5

 No.717787

>>717786
"Heh, fair point."

Cloud looks back towards the alley Thessaly walked down as Chiu explains what happened.
"…Should we go check on her? She can handle her magic I know that, but that sounds like a rough situation to go through."
Cloud says, going to stand back up, but having to put in quite a bit more effort to do so than he'd expect.

 No.717788

>>717786

Cutlass stares at the strange dolphin for a few seconds. Then, she just chalks up the sight to being drunk. She takes another sip of her drink.

"Alright," she says, not even bothering to ask how he's planning on playing. "I'm Captain Cutlass. Never call me 'brah' again," she adds. Though, her tone is less haughty and more playful than usual.

"And, WHO are you?" Cutlass asks the two monkeys.

 No.717789

>>717786
She nods respectfully to Gullveig. "Always a pleasure," she answers.

"They are dead," she answers in a deadpan. "I…" She hesitates to tell the truth, not knowing how Gullveig will react, but says it anyway. "I made a pact with the demon Galutisons. Their lives for my servitude." She shows her the seed. "I consider it a just trade."

 No.717790

>>717786
Cerulean sees Alder go by and waves up at him, then sees him being chased by the spiders. She blinks at the sight.
"Jeez, is everyone getting into trouble today except for me or what?" She shrugs and thinks about that hunt job and looks at the paper, wondering where to go where she might find out more information about what this quropeco thing is.

 No.717791

>>717786
Alder giggles a little bit, flicking his tail and trying to dart back and forth to throw them off- looking for a place that'd be good to try and slip back down and lose them!
>[1d10] For flying!
>[1d10] Perception/Thief's intuition, if I can try and spot a good point to make note of.

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 1 = 1

 No.717792

[1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.717793

>>717787
"Only on the condition that we go right back to ship afterward so you can recover like I wanted earlier," Chiu insists, then helps you up on her shoulder. Granny helps to support you on the other side, which makes it far easier to walk than earlier. Together, the three of you head for the shadowy alley, at the end of which you see three shapes laying in the darkness, about the size of the scorpion gang.

>>717789
Gullveig shows no reaction to your words, but observes the seed patiently for a moment. "Another set of hooves to carry the Burden," she says softly to herself. "Not exactly the methods I'd consider when cleaning up an infestation of pests, but every sorceress has her ways. But, careful who you call forth from that book. Every book is far more than the words inscribed on its pages, and a book of demons is no exception. The spirits whose True Names are contained in that book are not the only ones there."

She waves her hand. "But enough of that. I noticed earlier you were eyeing some of the pets. See one you fancy?"

>>717788
"Got it, got it, got it brah," Kahuan assures you, and his beetlebands play a riff.

"Straw," the short monkey says.
"Raincoat," the tall monkey answers. "Now, pick up your stick, and make the first move."

"Ch'yeah, ladies first," Kahuan says. His stick leans against his aquarium. A bystander sets up the cue ball and racks the others, then clears away, letting the area be clear for the game.

>>717791
As you slow for just a moment to get your bearings, a weight descends upon your back. In a flourish, Kitsune-mask's many legs frisk you all over, then liberate the ring from your possession. "I got it! I got it!" she cries with joy, then yelps as she tumbles through the open air. She and tengu mask continue to web-swing through the city on their way to the Guard's Guild.

[1d10+1] K
[1d10+1] T

>>717790
There's a little illustration of a Qurupeco on the poster, as well as some notes on its height, weight and general appearance and demeanor. You get a feeling that Prisma, with her senses, might be helpful for hunting down the creature, and although Squatz is a thief, you recall overhearing him having discussions with other crew members about monster hunting during some of the calmer days of your trip. Alternatively you could try a local library for a bestiary.

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3

 No.717794

>>717793

"Why thank you," Cutlass says with a clumsy bow a courteous smile. She stumbles over to the other end of the table to take the first shot.

[1d10] to break the balls

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717795

>>717793
Alder squawks like a chicken when Kitsune drops on top of him, trying to stabilize himself with his wings. As a last-ditch attempt when they start to pull away, he yanks at the string around his talon- hopefully it doesn't break, or they have't detached it!
>[1d10] Tug! If you want it to flat-out not work, that's fine by me! They mighta torn the string with such a good roll.

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.717796

>>717794
You (Solids) manage to bounce a ball off the rail, but none get into your corner pocket. Kahuan then leans in to get a try of his own, lifting his stick with a sheath of Aura.

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.717797

>>717793
"I would not call on any but Galutisons unless I saw no other way," she answers. "The others seem much more hostile and likely to cause disaster."

"What do you mean by the Burden?" she asks. "Is this duty of mine something that has been done before, then?"

When asked about the pets, she nods. "I had hoped to purchase one of the badgers. I feel one would make for a suitable familiar. May I come in?"

 No.717798

>>717793
"Alright. Right after I make that pinball small again."
Cloud says in agreement, walking with the two mares help to the alley. He looks down at the shrouded bodies, oddly relieved at how they still look together despite hearing a demon did them in. He looks up and down the alley, confused.
"She did walk this way, right? I didn't see that wrong."

 No.717799

>>717793
Being that she was already in the city, Cerulean decides to hit up the local library. Though she takes her time there and decides to sight-see and detour around the city on the way.

 No.717800

>>717795
You manage to grab onto a last bit of webbing from Kitsune-mask's previous swing, so while she continues to swing onward, pulled by the impressive strength of her web, you are in quick pursuit, and she can hardly shake you. Tengu-mask falls behind, flipping and falling to the ground after missing a shot at a roof's corner.

You're coming up on the Guard Guild fast, and Kitsune-mask, looking back at Tengu-mask with annoyance, presses onward, despite you weighing her down.

[1d10] K

>>717798
As you look at the bodies more closely, you see that each of their heads has been turned completely around to face backwards at the sky, their necks completely twisted around. Chiu grimaces, but tears her eyes away, looking around. "No, she came down this way for sure… perhaps she went into one of these shops?"

Granny raises her head, her ears twitching. "Nae, doon't bother. Magic's in the air. Ah don't think she's around where we can find her."

>>717797
"Never expect anything when dealing with demons," Gullveig warns vaguely. "You may have struck a deal with her and no other demon, but summoning is always prone to unforseen consequences."

Gullveig walks past you, inserting her flower key into the shop's only door, and opens up the secret room. "What do you know of the idea of Karma? Perhaps you may know of another, incomplete term, one common to the Celestian and Lunar cults: 'Sin'."

>>717796
Kahuan gets in a single solid ball into a pocket, chuckling as he does. Straw snorts, and then steps up to the table, carefully angling the cue-ball.
[1d10+1]

Team Cutlass 1
Team Monkey 0

>>717799
You make your way to the library without much distraction, seeing various members of your crew along the way, busy with haggling for prices on the barrels of tea and sugar you recovered at sea a few days ago. The library is a humble place, consisting of two upper stories and a basement. Monsters, the directory at the front tells you, are located on the second floor, which is dedicated solely to them. Each floor also has a librarian's assistant to help you find things.

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 4 + 1 = 5

 No.717801

>>717800
>>717794
Straw hits the cue ball true but fails to land any striped balls into the pockets. As he snorts in annoyance, Raincoat steps forward taking his turn.
[1d10+1]

Team Cutlass 1
Team Monkey 0

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.717802

>>717800
Alder scrabbles up the webbing, and tries to snatch at the Kitsune-Mask's cloak, hoping to retrieve the ring!
>[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.717803

>>717800
Cloud stomach feels a bit lighter, and his legs a bit weaker at seeing the bodies he's turned around.
"S-So she teleported off or something then? Well, then, let's get some distance from these. How bout we head inside so I can fix that ball."
Cloud suggests, not really enjoying the sight in his weakened state.

 No.717804

>>717800
Cerulean came to the library so she can try and feel smart about doing things this way…but now she's finding it overwhelming at the number of books there are. She kind of didn't want to, but she goes up to an assistant.
"Uhh…excuse me? Do you have a book about quropecos? Preferably with simple words, oh, and pop-up pictures?"

 No.717805

>>717800
She wastes no time in entering the secret room, heading interestedly towards the animal cages and surveying the different badgers. "Sin is relative," she answers, "to whatever higher power one may serve or believe in. As far as I am concerned, at least. It is not something I have studied extensively."

 No.717806

>>717800
>>717801

"Well, it looks like I chose my teammate well, unlike SOME people," Cutlass says, mocking the monkeys.

 No.717807

>>717802
As you climb forward onto the trail of web, you realize too late that this puts you into prime kicking range, and at the last moment, Kitsune-mask kicks you off, snapping the web and cutting you loose. You aren't able to fly in time, and come crashing down to the ground, falling with a dull thud in front of a bar, identified on the signpost as "Coop's Stoop."
>Alder loses 1 wound

>>717803
>>717802
In fact, as Cloud and co. round the corner, they see Alder crash in front of them, and a pair of web-swinging spiders zipping through the sky above. Granny is quick to move, and reaches down to check Alder's injuries.
"…What was that all about?" Chiu asks. "Oh, and are you hurt?"

>>717806
Raincoat manages to get a striped ball into his pocket, and while he was cool and collected earlier, he looks up at you with a sneer.

Team Cutlass: 1
Team Monkeys: 1

"You're up brah," Kahuan says, stifling a chuckle.

>>717804
The assistant at the second floor desk, a small pony with a perpetual pout, leafs through a catalogue, flipping back and forth across the pages to cross reference keywords. "I've got some children's books if you're looking for those… but for someone of… what I hope would be a competent reading level, anyway, there's Elaborations on Cypress' Grand Bestiary. Please tell me you were looking for the latter."

>>717805
There are a few badgers in the cages. Some are fat, others are long, or red, or gray; a decent variety is present. You can describe what your chosen badger looks like.

"That is true, albeit superficial," Gullveig says. "Sin focuses on what was done, of one's own free will, that runs contrary to moral code and custom. That is why it is incomplete, when compared to what some call 'Karma'. Call it whatever you will, but Karma is an encapsulation of every action and its consequences, whether good or evil. It takes only a simple glance at the world to see that it is not a balance. Injustice, cruelty, malevolence, lies… no corner of the world is free of it. A place like the Ribcage, run by pirates, mafiosos, gangsters, corrupt bureaucrats and tyrannical kings, is full of evil, malevolent Karma. If too much negative Karma builds up in one place, it can manifest in the form of a terrible malediction upon that place – a curse of unending life, the corruption of all the land's water into a poisonous ichor, a plague of crop-devouring insects… just to name a few possibilities."

 No.717808

>>717807
>>717802
"Whoa!"
Cloud exclaims as Alder crashes down in front of them, stepping forward and offering him a hoof up.
"Having a little flight issue there?"

 No.717809

>>717807

"Well, alright, at least one of you has some skill," Cutlass says with a shrug and a smile. "But, is it enough to win?" she asks as she puts her chin on the pool table to aim better (and make the room stop spinning).

[1d10] for stick and ball handling

No matter how well she does, Cutlass afterwards turns to Kahuan and says, "That's CAPTAIN brah to you, Kahuna!" and pokes the glass of the fish tank with her hoof.

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.717810

>>717809
With serious force, you sink not just one but two (count 'em, two!) balls into the pockets, and in the process, leave a serious mess of balls on the pool table for the monkeys to deal with. The eight ball is in a dangerous position where, if it were to be hit by the wrong striped ball, it could easily end up in a pocket.

Kahuan laughs and opens his mouth for more sass, but after you tap on the glass, he pauses and slowly lowers his sunglasses. You see that his eyes have been replaced with shark eyes.

"Please do not touch the glass. Captain," he deadpans, all humor gone from his voice.

After a long pause, Kahuan takes his shot.

[1d10]

Team Cutlass: 3
Team Monkeys: 1

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.717811

>>717807
Cerulean just looks dumbstruck by that long and fancy title, and she just stares at the assistant with a slightly nervous look.
"Uhh…yes," she says, trying to give her best toothy smile and play things off.
"I can totally read good…just nothing too hard."

 No.717812

>>717810
[1d10] saving throw!

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717813

>>717809
>>717812
Kahuan whiffs his shot, and in the process very nearly ends up striking in the eight ball himself! But at the last second, the eight ball bounces off the rail and is safe.

>speeding up for the sake of time


Straw then takes his shot, visibly sweating as he works out the optimal angle.

[1d10] Critfails on 2- due to cutlass' 10

Team Cutlass: 3
Team Monkeys: 1

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.717814

>>717810
>>717813

"Thank you," Cutlass says to Kahuan with a satisfied nod and smile. She fails to pick up on the threat and only hears the word "captain".

"Now, try better next time," she advises him after he misses. Then, she hiccups.

Which reminds her to finish her second margarita.

 No.717815

>>717807
Alder flails a little bit as he's kicked off, and slams into the ground with a less-than-graceful thud. He picks himself up after a few moments, swaying back and forth before letting out an excited chirp of laughter.

>>717808
>>717807
"O-Oh!" he exclaims, tucking his wings in and wincing a little. He lets his bruised wing hang out, and lets out a nervous little warble. "I-I hadn't expected to bump in to anyone. Y-Yes, I am." he says, taking the offered hoof and getting back up to all fours.
"I-I am helping a couple of thieves train, and I suppose I got a little carried away there. Sorry for making the three of you worry. I-I am fine! M-Mostly!"

 No.717816

>>717807
Her attention is drawn to a large, stout badger with a black and white striped head and a grey coat, which is currently fast asleep. "This one will do," she decides with a slight smile of affection for the creature.

She listens intently to Gullveig, her expression darkening a little at the mention of negative Karma forming curses. "Or an all-devouring monster," she says, having a sudden thought. "Have you ever heard of the beast known as the Hunger, Madame Gullveig?"

 No.717817

>>717815
"Interesting thieves there, swinging through the city."
Cloud comments as Alder gets up and dusts off.
"How's it going aside this crash landing. Are they good?"

 No.717818

>>717817
"E-Ehehe… I sort of ran them through town to see if they could catch me, after stealing the ring back. As for how good they are, well…"

He hums a little bit, and shrugs. "They are definitely green- but, they are improving steadily! They managed to spot me slipping away a few times, and caught up to me on the rooftops there. I want them to begin to work together a little more, but it seems like they are getting there!"

 No.717819

>>717811
The assistant rolls her eyes but smiles, though it still feels a little insulting. "Give me one moment."

She jots down the reference number and leaves the desk. After a little while she returns, with a very large bestiary, and slaps it down on the desk with a thud. "Now then. Do you have a card with us? If not, I can sign you up for one right here. All we ask is a one Bit donation."

>>717814
Straw grumbles as he misses his shot, and then Raincoat steps up to make his.

[1d10] Critfails 2-

Team Cutlass: 3
Team Monkeys: 1

The room continues to spin as you knock back what's left of your margatita, and you begin to feel as if you were one of these pool balls.

>>717815
>>717808
Granny and Chiu help to dust Alder off.
"Ah, so that would explain the spiders, then?" Granny asks.
"Good of you to help educate the youth," Chiu says. "Need any help getting back to it?"

>>717816
"Only a little, and even that was far too much. Knowledge can sometimes be a terrible thing," Gullveig says. She gently pulls forward the glass case containing the badger, and lifts the heavy little beast up and sets him down. The badger groggily comes to, stretching out on the wooden floor.

"But all of that is why lingering negative Karma must be dispelled. Dispelling negative Karma that has lingered for a while is an incredibly difficult act, so others take it upon themselves to gather negative Karma before it can stick to a place and fester. These people carry negative Karma with them, purifying it over time by exposure to benevolent Karma. For this, they are broadly called 'Sin Eaters', after a concept that is curiously prominent among many primitive tribes' mythologies. Quite odd that a witch would be chosen to carry the Burden of Sin. It's even more odd that a demon would give you that Burden. More often, we're more interested in causing Sin, or simply apathetic to it."

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.717820

>>717818
>>717819
"If I wasn't beat I could offer to give you a hoof there to help."
Cloud pauses to think.
"Hey Chiu, what if you gave him a little shadow help. Putting an extra Alder out there would make it so the two would have to coordinate a little."

 No.717821

>>717819

Cutlass laughs an unladylike laugh for seemingly no reason. "Wh-who's turn is it again?" she struggles to ask as she leans on her pool stick.

 No.717822

>>717819
"Uhhm…well no. This is my first time being in a dry library…or one in general, really." She looks at the book, mainly at how thicc is is, and seems just a bit intimidated by it.
"And I'll be sailing around, so not sure if you have other places I could use it."

 No.717823

>>717819
>>717820
"Hmm? O-Oh! Some help might be nice, yes- I will need to check with the guildmaster and see if he would be alright with it. It would help them learn to watch their surroundings, too. Though, I need to report to the guildmaster, actually. You could come along, but it might be best to wait outside- unless you would prefer giving them a chance to spot possible concerns."

 No.717824

>>717823
>>717819
"Nah you don't need to do that. If they learning to be thieves they gotta deal with surprises, like their target being on high alert."
Cloud turns to Chiu.
"Chiu, show off your new trick on Alder. That'll definitely give those thieves a hard time."

 No.717825

>>717824
"Hmm? A new trick? What is it?" he asks, leaning in a little to stare at Chiu

 No.717826

>>717822
"Oh no, our library is affiliated with many others across the Ribcage," the assistant says. "We're supported by the Sir Kukulcan's Educational Fund, which in turn is part of the Crimson King's charity system. Any card you get here is good for every other library that's part of this system, and you can return and check out books at all affiliated locations, which is pretty much every library that I've ever been to."

>>717823
>>717824
Chiu shakes her head at Alder. "Nah, I gotta stay here and make sure Cloud here doesn't run off trying to do good deeds until he keels over of exhaustion. He's already in trouble for disobeying my command to take it easy. So, you'll have to settle for this!"

Her horn gows with teal Aura, the first that it ever has shown Aura, after how long she's had trouble with even beginning to see Aura. The Aura zaps Alder's shadow and it rises up, separating from his body. Its eyes are gold, and so is its smile, a light emanating from within its mouth. A gold bit of light outlines the shadow's edges, helping you all to see it.

Shadow-Alder looks at Alder, sizing him up. "Hmph! Have you got enough weapons on you? Here I thought we were a healer, not a killer."

"Oh dear…" Chiu says. "These shadows of mine tend to have a bit more sass than the usual ones. I call this Ability, 'Shadow Puppet Show: Satire.' Don't worry, he'll obey you, he'll just give you a lot of lip while he does."

>>717821
"That'd be yours, 'Captain'," Raincoat says, with a snort of annoyance and impatience.
"Inebriation should be a disqualifier," Straw says.

 No.717827

>>717826

"Not if it makes you better," Cutlass says in response to Straw as she lowers her gaze to the board, struggling to steady her dizzying gaze.

[1d10] to be good at billiards

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.717828

>>717827
Sadly, you miss, and you start to feel the not-so-fun part of drunkenness come upon you: that part when you start to come down, and return just close enough to the realm of lucidity for existential dread and drinker's regret to slip into your consciousness.

The only way to drive it away is with another drink.

[1d10] Kahuan's turn! Critfails 2-

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.717829

>>717828
>>717827
Kahuan gets a point!

Team Cutlass 4
Team Monkey 1

The monkeys start to get nervous seeing this big gap in points, and start to focus intently on the game now, setting aside all petty jabs.

[1d10] Straw, critfails 2-

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.717830

>>717829
[1d10] saving throw since both teams get one

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.717831

>>717826
>>717825
"Excuse me for being a good pony."
Cloud says jokingly at Chiu's comment.

He watches as she shows off her aura and rises Alder's shadow into a glowing clone. He smiles proudly as it comes up, then snickers as it jests about Alder.
"Looks like it'll be perfect. That sass might be good to put those thieves in line."

 No.717832

>>717827
>>717829
>>717830
>Straw critfailed

In a moment that seems to slow down in the strange clarity of drunkenness, Straw's eyes grow to the size of plates as he clips the side of the cue ball. Perhaps he had a bad grip, or his hands were sweaty, but he mis-fires all the same, and the cue ball spirals out of control, clipping the 8 ball while there are still solids and stripes on the table. The 8 ball sails straight into a pocket.

Team Monkey loses, and Straw hoots with frustration, while Raincoat bows his head in shame.

 No.717833

>>717826
"Huh, that's…actually pretty neat. I guess it wouldn't have, just in case." She hands over a bit.
"I'm not sure what having one means, though."

 No.717834

>>717826
"O-Oh, goodness!" he chirps, jumping a little when his shadow splits off and forms into… another him! He stares at in in disbelief, before folding his ears back and huffing a little.
"I-I did not intend to! I just kept finding them. B-Besides, the knife is a medical tool." he says, flicking his tail a little and offering Chiu a short nod.
"I-I will keep it in mind. You two take care, yes?" he says, giving Chiu and Cloud a friendly wave.
>Heading back to the Guild

 No.717835

>>717834
>>717826
"We will. Teach those thieves a good lesson for letting you crash like that."
Cloud says in farewell.

"Wonder how well that shadow will act with him. Now let's head inside."
Cloud says, heading into Cooper's Stoop.

 No.717836

>>717832

Cutlass cheers and jumps up and down in celebration of their victory. "Well, there ya go! A loss for Raincoat as well," Cutlass says drunkenly.

"Great job, Kahuan," Cutlass says, raising her hoof for a hive, but then thinking better of it - not wanting all that touching.

"You deserve a drink. Oooooh, baaaarteeeender!" Cutlass calls out in a sing-song tone again. "What'll you have?" she asks Kahuan as the bartender presumably comes over.

 No.717837

>>717836
>>717835

Cutlass' voice and display are presumably immediately noticeable upon entering the bar.

 No.717838

>>717831
"Yeah, yeah, being altrustic is cool and all, but there's two ponies above all else you gotta be good to, and that's you and me," Chiu says. "Can't be good to anyone else if you don't take of yourself first."

>>717833
The library assistant cracks another smile, and you get the feeling it's to prevent herself from groaning with exasperation. "If you have a library card, you can take as many books as you want from the library for free, as long as you agree to bring them back in good condition and in a timely manner… you got it?"

She takes the Bit and starts to fill out some paperwork.

>>717835
>>717834
"And give them extra homework!" Chiu adds. "Oh, and three midterms… and pop quizzes… and a second final. And then a third final that they have to take after they've already graduated and that without completing, they can't get their degree."
"Speaking from experience, lass?" Granny asks.
"…Yes."

After that, you part ways.

>>717835
Inside, you see a copious amount of barflies gathered around a pool table, where a very drunk Cutlass and a dolphin in a portable aquarium appear to have beaten two humanoid, pirate kimono-wearing macaques (4 and 5 feet tall respectively) at a game of solids and stripes.

>>717834
You return to the Guard's Guild, Shadow Alder close behind you. As you get to the Guild, the front door is propped open to let in the breeze, and you see both Kitsune-mask and Tengu-mask sitting at a table across from Schrodinger, knocking back tall glasses of water as they sit and catch their breaths.

Shadow Alder waits outside the door, out of sight. "What say we don't introduce me just yet? I'd say those two were onto something earlier. Thieves should always be ready to take on unexpected twists."

>>717836
The bartender is plainly unhappy with you… but it seems he already has your drink ready – a clear liquid in a margarita glass. Roll perception.

"Banana daquiri! Winner's treat!" Kahuan declares. "No need for a glass, save on water and dishsoap – just pour it right into my tank."

The centipede bartender rolls his eyes.

Meanwhile, in the background, the two monkeys have gotten into an argument

>Paused

 No.718322

Last time on PirateQuest…

With many of the day's tasks now finished, there was a lull in which many of the party members met up or otherwise crossed paths. Cutlass and Cloud finally met up at Coop's Stoop, where she was drunk off her rocker and had beaten a pair of sapient monkeys at a game of pool with the help of Kahuan, a pirate-hunting dolphin.

Speaking of, Cerulean dropped off her Beetlebands at a repair shop so as to fix the damage they accrued in their battle with Kahuan's Beetles. Then, she stopped by the library, in order to learn a bit about the monsters she planned to hunt as part of the jobs from the town's directory board. In the process, she learned about the Ribcage's inter-island library system, funded in part by Sir Kukulcan's Educational Fund, part of the Crimson King's charity system, which pointed to a connection between the two figures.

Alder continued to train Kitstune-mask and Tengu-mask, the two Spider-tribe Krikral thieves, who had scored another point on him by stealing the ring and returning to the Guard's Guild. To give him an edge on the third round, Chiu demonstrated a newfound ability to use Aura, raising up his shadow as a semi-autonomous being, who she claimed would obey his commands.

Thessaly returned to Gullveig's shop, where she learned about the nature of Karma, and the role of a Sin-Eater, which Galutisons had thrust upon her in exchange for her help in killing the Bark Scorpion Gang. A Sin-Eater's job, known to some as the Burden of Sin, was to collect wayward negative Karma, in order to prevent it from accruing and manifesting as curses or even horrible monsters. While she was there, Thessaly also purchased a badger, fancying it as a good candidate for a familiar.

 No.718324

>Thessaly
"Only a little, and even that was far too much. Knowledge can sometimes be a terrible thing," Gullveig says. She gently pulls forward the glass case containing the badger, and lifts the heavy little beast up and sets him down. The badger groggily comes to, stretching out on the wooden floor.

"But all of that is why lingering negative Karma must be dispelled. Dispelling negative Karma that has lingered for a while is an incredibly difficult act, so others take it upon themselves to gather negative Karma before it can stick to a place and fester. These people carry negative Karma with them, purifying it over time by exposure to benevolent Karma. For this, they are broadly called 'Sin Eaters', after a concept that is curiously prominent among many primitive tribes' mythologies. Quite odd that a witch would be chosen to carry the Burden of Sin. It's even more odd that a demon would give you that Burden. More often, witches are more interested in causing Sin, or simply apathetic to it."

>Cutlass

The bartender is plainly unhappy with you… but it seems he already has your drink ready – a clear liquid in a margarita glass. Roll perception.

"Banana daquiri! Winner's treat!" Kahuan declares. "No need for a glass, save on water and dishsoap – just pour it right into my tank."

The centipede bartender rolls his eyes.

Meanwhile, in the background, the two monkeys have gotten into an argument.

>Cloud, Alder (before he leaves)

"And give them extra homework!" Chiu adds. "Oh, and three midterms… and pop quizzes… and a second final. And then a third final that they have to take after they've already graduated and that without completing, they can't get their degree."
"Speaking from experience, lass?" Granny asks.
"…Yes."

After that, you part ways.

>Alder

You return to the Guard's Guild, Shadow Alder close behind you. As you get to the Guild, the front door is propped open to let in the breeze, and you see both Kitsune-mask and Tengu-mask sitting at a table across from Schrodinger, knocking back tall glasses of water as they sit and catch their breaths.

Shadow Alder waits outside the door, out of sight. "What say we don't introduce me just yet? I'd say those two were onto something earlier. Thieves should always be ready to take on unexpected twists."

>Cloud

"Yeah, yeah, being altrustic is cool and all, but there's two ponies above all else you gotta be good to, and that's you and me," Chiu says. "Can't be good to anyone else if you don't take of yourself first."

Inside the bar, you see a copious amount of barflies gathered around a pool table, where a very drunk Cutlass and a dolphin in a portable aquarium appear to have beaten two humanoid, pirate kimono-wearing macaques (4 and 5 feet tall respectively) at a game of solids and stripes.

>Cerulean

The library assistant cracks another smile, and you get the feeling it's to prevent herself from groaning with exasperation. "If you have a library card, you can take as many books as you want from the library for free, as long as you agree to bring them back in good condition and in a timely manner… you got it?"

She takes the Bit and starts to fill out some paperwork.

 No.718325

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>718324
>>717837
Cloud scoffs.
"Alright, alright. No more good deeds for today, I'll take it easy after I fix this ball."

Cloud enters the bar, starting to walk towards the pinball machine until his ears perk at a very familiar but oddly toned voice. He turns to the source, seeing the heavily inebriated "captain" over at the pool table. A large grin comes onto Cloud's face as he walks over to Cutlass, enjoying the sight.
"Having fun?"

 No.718326

>>718324
Cerulean just takes her smile at face value, not quite catching on to the mental distress she is causing this pony.
"Woah…so I could take home any book for free for only giving a single bit? That's incredible! I would've gone to one of these places sooner if I knew that."

 No.718327

>>718326
The assistant breathes a subtle sigh of relief, then passes the paperwork to you. "And I'm contractually obligated to remind you that it's all because of our generous donor system… but I'm not just saying that because I'm contractually obligated to. Sign at the bottom, please."

She then takes out an old-timey camera out from behind her desk. "Almost done; I'll just need a picture for your card."

 No.718328

>>718327
Cerulean signs her name, though her signature is more like print and if a foal learning how to write wrote it.

"Ooo, snazzy," she says and looks at the camera, giving her best smile that ends up showing off her sharp teeth.

 No.718329

>>718324

"Thank youuuu," Cutlass says to the bartender in a sing-song tone as she takes the drink. However, before drinking it, she looks down at it suspiciously.

[1d10] perception

>>718325

"Cloud!" she says excitedly as he approaches. "You're a batpony," she adds as if that will be relevant. "What's in this drink?"

She telekinetically shoves the drink in Cloud's face.

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718330

>>718324
>>718329
Cloud leans back a little as Cutlass shoves her drink in his face. At her exclamation, he can only laugh.
"So what have you been up to?"
He asks, equally chipper as he gives the drink a sniff, opting to not do a taste test given his condition.
>[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.718331

>>718330

"Oh, I just made some money beating up a kung fu enthusiast and won a game of billiards," she brags. "You know, typical wins for Captain Cutlass."

As she speaks, she puts a hoof on Cloud's shoulder and leans on him - getting perhaps uncomfortably close to his face in the process. "So, how's your eye?" she asks with a grin, point her hoof dangerously close to it.

 No.718332

>>718328
The assistant takes the picture, and after a moment, the photo slides out of a slot on the bottom, showing off your big toothy grin, and Roger perched right there on your shoulder.

"Alright, just a few minutes, please." The assistant takes the photo and the paperwork, heading for a door at the back of the room. After a brief wait, she comes back out with a library card that has your picture at the top corner and signature underneath. She double-checks the titles of the books and notes them in a ledger, and then scans your card on a simple magitech gadget.

"You're all set. They're due back within three weeks from today. That'll be the 21st of Pasathar," she says.

>Obtained:

>The Quest of Qurupeco, by C. S. Whalebones
>101 Monster Tales, by Screwy Tape
>Elaborations on Cypress' Grand Bestiary, by Dr. Lighthouse the Bright

>>718329
>>718330
Cutlass notices nothing amiss with her drink, but Cloud, as he goes in for a sniff, realizes something terrible.
It's water.

Chiu puts her hoof onto Cutlass', pushing it softly away from his eye. "He's doing just fine, but it looks like we'll be heading back to the ship soon to get some rest. He healed remarkably quickly, but we wouldn't want to push his luck on that."

 No.718333

>>718331
"Exactly what I'd expect."
Cloud says with an amused chuckle.

"A little sore from running around the city, but otherwise fine."
Cloud lifts a hoof to lower Cutlass' away from his eye. Though as she leans in close to him, he gets a little uncomfortable, trying to gently step back so she stops leaning on him.

>>718332
>>718329
Cloud considers lying to Cutlass, since he knows what it means when somepony is served water in a bar. But with her personality…
"Nothing's in your drink. Just some good classic water"

 No.718334

>>718324
She crouches and tentatively reaches out to the badger, letting it sniff her out to grow accustomed to her, listening intently to Gullveig as she does so.

"I aver for all my years I have never given much thought to Sin. I have always done as I saw fit, being my own beast. It seems I have taken on a master now." She contemplates this new onus, and what it might mean. "So I suppose it is my duty to punish evil now, until the burden is lifted. It is said among the Faceless Ones that only life can pay for death. And I have taken three this day." Her brow furrows in thought. "How long do you suppose it shall be until the debt is paid? You seem more knowledgeable of this than I."

 No.718335

>>718332
"Okay! I'll mark it down on my calendar…when I eventually get one. Thanks again!" She gives a happy smile and wave before going off somewhere with a table to sit down and read. She decides to start off easy with one of the picture books, letting Roger read with her as well.
"Okay, The Quest of Qurupeco. This sounds easy to start, right?"

 No.718336

>>718332

"Oh, you're here too," Cutlass says with thinly veiled contempt as Chiu lowers her hoof.

"Well, if he needs time to heal, then he certainly shouldn't be in here," she says aloofly.

>>718332
>>718333

"I KNEW it!" she shouts dramatically as she spins around to face the bartender, inadvertently slapping Cloud in the face with her tail.

She thrusts the water back at the bartender with the telekinesis. "Do you take me for some sort of fool, sir!?" she asks dramatically. She then hiccups.

 No.718337

>>718336
>>718332
Cloud reels back as he's slapped by Cutlass's tail, leading to a sneeze.
"Guh, that didn't go as I expected."
He grumbles, watching Cutlass chew into the bartender.

"Oh right, that reminds me."
He says as Cutlass chimes that he shouldn't be there. He walks over to the pinball machine, focusing on the pinball and ending his magic on it to restore it to normal and the machine to be usable again.

 No.718338

>>718337

Cutlass is distracted by Cloud's actions. She eyes him over her shoulder. "What are you doing?" she asks suspiciously.

 No.718340

>>718336
>>718333
Granny, now noticing Cutlass' inebriated state, clicks her tongue with distaste and shakes her head with disapproval. Chiu, on the other hand, looks quite amused now.

In the background, the centipede bartender pours a banana daiquiri into Kahuan's aquarium, much to his delight. Meanwhile, the two monkeys have set aside their pool sticks and gone back to the bar for a drink, but still cast some annoyed glances at Cutlass as they do.

>>718336
>>718333
"Hey!" Chiu whinnies as Cutlass slaps Cloud with her tail. "Only I get to do that!"

The bartender turns and squints at Cutlass. "Yeah, you certainly look the part. The water's free, but you still gotta pay for the daiquiri, according to this guy," he says with a gesture at Kahuan. "Five Bits."

>>718337
You fix the pinball, much to the relief of many bar patrons who had been standing around it with disappointment. They nod their thanks, raising their glasses, and start to play.

>>718335
The Quest of Qurupeco is a simple book, a story about a young qurupeco who wishes to join a guild of his fellow monsters, beasts of all shapes and sizes, who explore the wilderness, charting out the wild and untamed lands beyond their monster village, fighting off evil spirits that haunt the countryside and occasionally pester the town. The first chapter starts off with the qurupeco trying to join his local guild, only to be rejected for being too small and weak to take the entrance exam.

>>718334
The badger looks at you with an aloof, reserved air, not getting very close as he sniffs you. He doesn't seem impressed.
"That seed will draw wayward Karma into itself as long as you carry it, for good or ill," Gullveig responds. "Not only have you taken on the Karma of taking three lives, but also the Karma that those thugs accumulated through their own lives of taking advantage of those weaker than them. That's quite the high balance to start with. But I think you shall know when you have begun to purify that Karma. These things have a way of revealing themselves. Do a few good deeds here and there. Who knows, perhaps you'll find it fun," she says with a dry laugh.

The Knight of Crowsbane hands you a pouch with some strips of fresh meat, probably of some kind of rodent species. "Badgers aren't picky, they'll eat quite a lot, as long as it's meat!" he says.

 No.718341

>>718340

Cutlass glares at the bartender. "Fine!" she says in a huff as she tosses 5 bits at him. "If you don't want my business, then you won't be getting my business!"

She tosses the glass of water over her shoulder and turns to leave the bar. As it shatters, she also throws another 3 bits over her shoulder. "And that's for the glass," she says cavalierly.

She strides ungracefully out of the bar.

 No.718344

>>718338
"I grew the ball in this machine to stop some scorpions from playing cause they wouldn't tell me what they did with a tortoise they stole."
Cloud explains, being as direct and potentially confusing as possible.

>>718340
>>718338
Cloud nods to the patrons as they get to play again, feeling good he fixed that bit up. He turns and rejoins the others, giving a little snicker at Chiu's whinny.
He gives a glance to the monkeys as they eye Cutlass.
"Were they the losers from your pool game, or the one you beat up?"

>>718340
>>718341
At first Cloud is amused at the confrontation, but the his eye widens as she chucks the glass across the room.
"We should probably stick with her."
Cloud says to Chiu and Granny, following Cutlass out of the bar.

 No.718345

>>718340
Cerulean reads the book quietly, giving Roger some extra time to look at it before she turns the page or fiddles with any of the pop-up features in the book. Already she's beginning to wonder why such a noble and colorful monster-bird would cause trouble for people.

 No.718346

>>718340
She gives a small smile. "Hm. Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Then again, I do not have much of a choice in the matter, do I." She is beginning to regret her actions, but no sense dwelling in the past. "I will do what I can to set things right."

"Ah. Thank you, sir knight." She takes the pouch and offers some meat to the badger, unfazed by any perceived grossness of the food.

"By the way, Madame. Do you know of any others of our kind in this place? Or in the rest of the Ribcage? I have been living in Aristar for many years, and haven't managed to reach out to any myself."

 No.718347

>>718324
"Hmm… For the best, most likely. I will go speak with the Guildmaster." the griffon chirps, before stepping in and searching around for the mantis from before. Upon finding him, he'll settle in with a wave and ask "I believe that one was a little more exciting than intended."

 No.718348

>>718344

When Cloud explains the pinball situation, Cutlass slowly blinks in confusion. Then, she just drunkenly giggles.

>>718344

"Can you BELIEVE them?" Cutlass squeaks angrily when she sees that Cloud followed her out. "It's like they don't like to make money!"

 No.718349

>>718348
"Usually in those situations I see ponies slap down more bits to get their drink. I'm surprised a place looking like that was pretty strict."

 No.718350

>>718349

"And, I was even already paying him extra to ignore… my age," she says the last part awkwardly.

 No.718353

>>718350
"Your age? Why would you need to make him ignore that?"

 No.718354

>>718341
"Thank you for your patronage," the bartender spits back, grumbling as he sees the glass shatter. His annoyance is only slightly dulled by the compensation.

>>718344
>>718341
A few of the barflies get up and attempt to follow you, but the bartender waves his arm, shaking his head. Reluctantly, they sit themselves back down and go back to their drinks and games.
Granny catches up with Cutlass, slowing her with a hoof on her shoulder. "A place like that weren't worth yer time anyway. Ya want a mean brew, Ah can whip ya up somethin' far stronger than what ya'd get in a dump like that, anyway."

Outside, the mid-afternoon sun warms your bones, and the dockside is strong with the smell of the sea and fish and salt and brine, the air filled with chatter and yelps of bartering.

>>718345
At first, the Qurupeco is devestated, but resolves not to let the setback stop him. He contemplates what strengths he has, and realizes that while he isn't strong himself, he can call on other monsters for help. He persuades the guild's gatekeeper to let him take an alternative to the exam, by taking on a simple quest to retrieve some treasure, a very valuable magic pearl hidden in a cave. The gatekeeper agrees, thinking he'll give up partway, but the qurupeco is clever. At each leg of his quest, the qurupeco calls on another monster to help him. He calls on fish to help him cross the river, then on bats to help him navigate a dark cave, and finally, he calls upon a massive burrowing worm to help him fight the spirits that guard the pearl.

Much to the gatekeeper's shock, he returns with the pearl, and earns his place in the guild, but is sure to thank his friends for their help.

>>718346
The badger looks down his nose at the food, evidently expecting something of higher quality. But hunger wins out, and he takes a bite, and quickly inhales the meat, licking both his own lips and your hoof for more.

"Every island has her witch, as has been the case for as long as the islands have been around. That much I can say," Gullveig says. "…though even that isn't certain anymore. The Virtues have been growing more bold in the past decades."

You've heard of the Virtues, a witch-hunting order born on the island of Skytree, some hundred years back. At first, they were merely a pest for witches, who at most would destroy old shrines that had long been abandoned, or banishing wayward familiars, rather than attack witches directly. But as the years went by, and they grew in power and influence, their indirect attacks on witches and covens became more frequent and more direct, even culminating in the murders of several prominent witches during costly and bloody assaults on influential covens.

>>718347
You find Schrodinger (a grasshopper-tribe krikral) sitting at the same table as before, with his two students, who drink through little slits in their masks. He laughs upon hearing your report. "So I heard. Still willing to see it through to the end, or was this not what you wanted to sign up for? I can give you your payment now, if you want to call it."

"Sorry if I was a little rough," Kitsune-mask says with a bow.

 No.718355

>>718353

Cutlass' eyes shift around suspiciously. "Because I'm not old enough to be in there," she says as if she's admitting something no one knows.

>>718354

"It's not about the strength," Cutlass grumbles drunkenly. "It's about the taste. I hate rum. But, it's all that any pirate ship ever stocks."

Cutlass inhales for a sigh, but starts coughing as she takes in some of that fishy air. It's not a pleasant feeling in her current state.

 No.718356

>>718354
>Aaaaaaaa fuck I knew it wasn't a Mantis

Alder ruffles his wings a little and giggles, before shaking his head. "Please, it is no trouble at all- I made sure that they would follow, so the ball is in mu court for that. It was exciting, and kind of… fun! I would be more than happy to go one last round. Though, I will need to be creative- they have sharpened up rather quickly, I think! Much more aware and responsive, and I /think/ I got across being aware after the act is important. I, hmm… I may have some assistance this time. I think they are plenty wisened up to the tricks one could pull on their own, but problems aside from the quarry can interfere, yes?" he suggests, before looking to the kitsune-masked spider and flashing a soft smile "No need to- you performed quite expertly. It was good that the teo of you could keep up so well."

 No.718358

>>718354
Cloud elects to follow where Cutlass strolls through the city. While Chiu did heavily advise to head back to the ship for rest, he can't in right mind let Cutlass stroll alone like this.

"I didn't take you for a brewer Granny."
Cloud chimes in.

>>718355
Cloud looks down at Cutlass, taking a few seconds for that to sink in.
"Y-You're a kid?!"
He exclaims maybe a bit too loudly. His eye widens in shock, raising a hoof to his head as it hangs low.
"Oh dear Luna, I'm in debt to a child…"
He says in despair.

 No.718359

>>718358

"I'm not a CHILD!" Cutlass objects, blushing a bit. "I'm 16!"

 No.718360

>>718359
"You are a child! Especially for pirate life!"
Cloud counter-objects.

 No.718361

>>718354
She keeps feeding the badger, and as it eats, slowly reaches out to try and pet it.

"The Virtues," she says with spite. "Unruly wretches. I have encountered them before back in Aristar. I hope not to encounter them here as well." She looks up at Gullveig. "Do you have a Caller Conch? I ought to give you my code so we may keep in touch, if we are ever in need of each others' knowledge or skills."

 No.718362

>>718358
>>718355
"There's a whole market just a little west of here, love," Granny offers, gesturing with her head toward the bustling bazaar. "Ah'm sure there's no end of different brews we could pick up there."
"Is that… legal?" Chiu asks.
"Daft girl! What kinda pirate worries about that?" Granny asks.
"…Oh."

>>718358
"Where Ah'm from, ain't a single spirit around who doesn't know how to mix a good drink," Granny says. "Ah can teach ye a thing or two if ye fancy it."
"I don't think it'd be good for him to drink while he's recovering," Chiu chimes in.

>>718356
"I didn't get to do anything," Tengu-mask says with a pout.
"Then try to keep up next time," Kitsune-mask mocks.
"All right, all right," Schrodinger says, eyeing Kitsune-mask reproachfully. "You're not gonna get him next time with an attitude like that." He then looks back to you. "Good, I'm glad you're up for it. I knew you'd be a good tutor. Here." He tosses you the ring again. "Ready for round three? Think I'll give you ten minutes of prep time for this one."

>>718361
Gullveig hoots. "Mmmph. I did let my Knight here talk me into getting one of those silly contraptions. Can hardly remember that darned code. I'm more partial to letters sent via dragonfire, but I suppose I can adapt to modern technology."

She scribbles down her conch code onto a slip of papyrus, and then passes you another slip and a quill pen so you can write down your own.

At first the badger pulls back, but after a few moments, leans forward you pet it. "Ah-ha!" the Knight says. "That's the first time I've seen him be friendly with anyone. I've lost half a dozen arms to that one whenever I tried to pet him."

 No.718363

>>718354
Cerulean finishes the read, making sure Roger has read as well.
"Wow, that was interesting. Such a brave and smart peco." She gives a nervous huff as she looks at the Elaborations on Cypress' Grand Bestiary. Just the long title alone was enough to make Cerulean nervous.
"Alright, time to see how much of this I can understand."

 No.718365

>>718360

"I've been pirating longer than YOU!" she shouts in response, stomping her hoof. "How old are you, anyway!?"

>>718362

"No, really," Cutlass says when Chiu makes an obvious pirate mistake. "How long have you two been pirates? A week?"

 No.718366

>>718363
The Elaborations is a fairly thick book and you get the feeling you could get in a pretty good arm day with just this alone. It's also quite dry and academic in its discussion of monsters, their habitats, their behaviors, anatomy, and various purposes for their body parts once they've been slain. There's a particular fascination with weapons and armors that can be fashioned from their constituent parts. The section on Qurupecos is no exception, but you find it fairly digestible, if boring.

>Qurupeco

>A large majestic bird with an unique beak that can mimic other monsters. Using this, it can call other monsters if it gets in trouble
>75 Health
>Standard Attack: Melee
>Summon: Recharge 3; Mimics a monster to call for help. The higher the success, the bigger and more monsters are called.
>6 - 1 Small or Medium Monster, 7-8 - 1 Medium or Large Monster, 9 - 2 Medium or Large Monsters, 10 - 1 Monstrous Monster

 No.718367

>>718365
Chiu does some mental math for a moment, counting out the days. "…More like a month. Month and a half, give or take."

 No.718368

>>718362
Thessaly commits the code to memory, then writes down her own and gives it back to her, giving her a knowing nod.

She gains confidence and gives it a little scratch behind the ears, smiling a little. "It is often said that the familiar chooses the witch. Perhaps this was meant to be."

She realizes time is getting on, and, assuming the badger is complacent, picks it up with telekinesis and heads for the door, intending to track down the rest of the group. "Thank you, Gullveig. For everything." She gives the owl a deep bow. "It is a pleasure to meet a like minded soul here."

 No.718369

>>718367
>>718360

"I have been pirating for almost 3 years," Cutlass says proudly. "So don't tell ME what I'm too young for when YOU are the ones who are new to it!"

 No.718370

>>718368
The badger wiggles its paws like it's swimming as you pick it up with telekinesis, seeming to prefer to good solid earth rather than the air. Gullveig smiles back, and she and the Knight spread out an arm to their sides a they return your bow. "To you as well, Thessaly. May the winds bring you home, no matter how long you are at sea."

>>718369
Chiu rolls her eyes. "Whateeeeever you say, Captain. I'll stay on my ship and you stay on yours."
"Ahlright, ahlright, that's enough," Granny cautions. "Yer both fackin' pirates, no need to go showin' off or start comparin' ship sizes or nothin'."
"…bet I could be a captain too," Chiu mutters under her breath.

 No.718372

>>718366
Cerulean could be seen nodding off to such a boring book, but thankfully, Roger makes sure to give her little pats to keep her awake like a good study partner. She manages to get through it, feeling like she's got a better understanding of it now.
"Hmm…this thing can call in help. Maybe I should do the same. Don't want my first hunt to be my last, right?"

 No.718373

>>718370
"May the road rise up to meet you," she says reverently to the two. She'd rather not carry the badger like this, but if she doesn't it'll probably wander off. She exits the shop and starts making her way back towards the last place she saw her companions, at the bar.

 No.718374

>>718372
It seems like a solid plan of action if you've ever come up with one. The bestiary makes note to point out the Qurupeco's strength and its potential to call in some very strong monsters to its aid, and advises those who want to hunt one of these creatures to take a party of no fewer than four for the hunt.

 No.718375

>>718362
Alder snatches the ring out of the air with his tail, before slipping it on to one of his talons and nodding. "Right. I will try to use the time wisely." he says, before looking to the two spiders and frowning

"P-Please, work together more. You were performing fantastically together, and will do well if you keep that." he says, before hopping out and heading out. "Get the rest you need! You will need it, I imagine."

 No.718376

>>718375
The two spiders still pout, and you can sense, from Schrodinger's exasperation, that this is probably their default state. "See you in ten," Schrodinger says, as you depart.

Outside, Shadow Alder sits on a wooden bench, kicking back and enjoying the view. Upon seeing you, he hops up, eagerly patting his paws together with a thief's glint in his dark eyes. "Now then, where to? What's the plan?"

 No.718377

>>718362
"I feel age still matters here though, whether we're pirates or not."
Cloud says to Granny and Chiu's discussion.

>>718362
"Yea, I'll take a raincheck on that Granny. Probably shouldn't be around that stuff too much for today."

>>718365
"I'm 26. A good proper age to be making decisions that a pirate would."

>>718369
"You've been pirating since you were 13?!"
Cloud exclaims again in disbelief. Though, a smile does come to his face.
"No wonder you couldn't keep a crew. Who would want to listen to a bratty foal day in and day out."

 No.718378

>>718376
"Well…further into town. We have 10 minutes to prepare, so I want to get somewhere good. I'm thinking… inside, this time?" he suggests, before humming "Since you look like me, it might be good to try and distract them in a crowd, too- see if they can spot a real from a fake… n-no offense."

 No.718379

>>718377

"You're *26*!?" Cutlass exclaims, blushing a little bit.

She shakes her head in a dizzy stupor. "I left home on my 14th birthday. And, I didn't START OUT trying to be a captain. But, I kept on getting kicked off ships and abandoned and marooned. So, I eventually just decided I'd be the captain so they couldn't kick me off."

She looks down sadly. "It didn't work…"

"Anyway!" she says, looking back up and sounding more determined. "I don't see what age has to do with making such decisions! It's about experience! Which I have more of than you!"

>inb4"If you call failure experience."


>>718370

"Anyway, if we don't have anything better to do, let's go buy some alcohol!" she declares as she points in the wrong direction.

 No.718381

>>718373
After a little while, the badger seems to get used to being held in such a grasp, floating and getting his balance within your magic field. Upon leaving the shop, you return to the alleyway whose door you used to enter Gullveig's shop. The three corpses of the Bark Scorpion Gang are gone, without any trace as to where they went or how they were taken. In any case, beyond them, you see Cutlass, Chiu and Cloud having an argument out by the docks, while Granny stands by in exasperation.

>>718377
>>718379
Granny shrugs. "Suit yerself. Ah can make soup just as well as any drink."

Then, Chiu laughs as Cloud mocks Cutlass for her young age, taking vindictive pleasure in it.

 No.718383

>>718381
She approaches the group and puts the badger down, giving it a chance to roam about the docks for a bit.

>>718381
>>718379
>>718377
"Am I interrupting?" Thessaly seems to materialize out of nowhere as she often does, nodding at the group in greeting. "I have concluded my personal business here. What is next on the agenda?" She looks from one to the other, noticing Cutlass' inebriated state, looking a bit disdainful but not commenting.

 No.718384

>>718383
>>718379
>>718377
Also, Thessaly is carrying a very large, fat badger, which is now snuffling around the docks.

 No.718385

>>718381

"Where-" Cutlass is about to ask until Thessaly pops out of nowhere.

>>718383

"Eep!" she squeals in surprise at the sudden intrusion. She falls over onto the ground in a drunken stupor. "Th-thessaly," she stammers as she tries and fails to get up. "What have YOU been up to?" she asks from her pathetic position on the ground.

>>718384

"And, what is THAT?"

 No.718386

>>718379
"Yea, what did you think? Every other pirate you met was a kid like you?"
Cloud says in response to her reaction on his age.

"Oh yea, a whole lotta experience getting kicked off ships cause no one wants a foal around. I'm sure that'll come in handy the next time it happens."
He says insultingly.

>>718381
"Some soup sounds good, now that you mention it."

>>718383
>>718379
"Oh, there you are Thessaly. You finish whatever it was you went off to do?"
Cloud says a bit casually, but more because he doesn't want to consider the idea of what she did with the scorpion bodies.
"Nah, you're not interrupting anything. Only that we learned Cutlass here is just a little kid, and not just a shrimp."
Cloud says, putting his hoof down on Cutlass' head to mess up her mane. He gives a look to her.
"Well, then again, if you're this small now you're probably gonna be stuck like that."

>>718384
Cloud looks at the big fat badger floating by Thessaly.
"Where'd you get the badger?"

 No.718387

>>718374
Thinking it over some, Cerulean grabs her books and decides to head back to the ship. Maybe the others might be up for a little excitement.

 No.718388

>>718378
Shadow Alder gestures to his body, a solid black mass, being made of shadow. "Yes, we have seen that they are quite skilled in the outdoors. I will need a disguise to pass myself off as you, however. Give me something to wear, something with a cowl to hide my head."

"As for location…" he wonders aloud, tapping his foot. "How about somewhere narrow, something to restrict their movements, so they cannot rely on their webs all the time? Something to test their other skills as thieves. An indoor market, or perhaps a library."

>>718383
The badger wanders about, its head high as it takes in the rather overwhelming presence of people within the bazaar's crowd. It never strays too far, however, sticking within a few feet of you for safety as busy passerby go about their business in the bustling streets.
Chiu smiles as you return to the group. "Oh, by the way. You ordered this a while ago so it might be flat, but…"
With a flourish, she presents the martini you ordered earlier, held up by a coil of shadow.

>>718385
The badger sniffs you curiously, but quickly pulls away, its nose turned up. It's plain to see that it thinks you smell quite awful.
Granny laughs and offers a hoof to help you back up.

>>718386
"Right ya are, Ah'll make it special once we're back at the ship," Granny says.

 No.718389

>>718387
The librarian bids you farewell, and you head back outside, eventually returning to the docks, where all kinds of people are at their business, buying, selling, trading, yelling, fighting, and everything else you might expect to find at a bazaar. Remembering that the ships were docked eastward, you head that way, and on your way there, you spot Cutlass, Chiu, Granny, Thessaly and Cloud by a bench under a tree. Thessaly's got a big fat badger beside her, sniffing around.

 No.718390

>>718386

"There is no greater teacher than failure," Cutlass says in attempt at sounding sage. But, drunkenly slurring her words doesn't help with that.

"But, no, I just thought you were… younger. You're certainly immature enough!"

>>718386
>>718384

"I am not a shrimp, nor am I stuck this way," Cutlass drunkenly protests. "I am petite," she concludes proudly.

>>718388

"Well!" Cutlass says to the badger as Granny helps her up. "How dare you!? I am the cleanest pirate on the seas!"

 No.718391

>>718388
Alder hums a little, and nods in agreement. "A quick trip through a market to grab… a cloak and a scarf? It doesn't have to be the exact shade as mine, merely close enough to get their attention. Let's see… this way!" he chirps, leading the shadow onwards "And, I think a library might be better than the market. I want to see what they do in a tight space, with little in the way of a crowd to hide them."

 No.718392

>>718385
She gives Cutlass a judgmental stare. "Delivering justice," she answers vaguely.

"This is Bran. My new familiar. I saw you had a pet, and so did the blue one. So I decided to get one of my own."

>>718386
"Yes. They are dead. I killed them. Or my new patron did."

She looks back to Cutlass with a stony expression. "Unbelievable. But I am not surprised."

"I purchased him from a fellow sorceress residing here. Madame Gullveig. I believe you would benefit from paying her a visit. Her wares are most curious."

>>718388
"Oh. Thank you, Chiu. Sincerely. I must aver, after what has transpired today, a drink is not unwelcome." She nods to her in thanks and sips the martini thoughtfully.

She takes note of Granny's harrowed demeanor. "Is something the matter? I feel as if I have arrived at the wrong moment."

>>718390
"If you are unhappy with it, you should ask Cloud to make you larger," she suggests. Though she doesn't say it, you feel like Thessaly is judging you silently.

 No.718395

>>718388
"Can't wait."

>>718390
"Considering you've continued to be kicked from crews until now, I don't think you've paid much attention."

Cloud smirks.
"I'm street savvy, there's a big difference there. Not like you'd know, being so young."

>>718390
"That's just a fancy word for midget."
Cloud says, continuing to mess her mane up.

>>718392
"Yea, Chiu told me a little of what you were planning for dealing with them…"
Cloud says with his voice a little unsure. Not from judgement, but from concern Thessaly had to go to that length.

"Does she run a pet store or something?"
Cloud says, reaching out a hoof towards the badger as it sniffs around the party.
"We could stop by there later, or another day after I get some more bits."

 No.718396

>>718395
>>718392
>>718391
>>718389
>>718390
Cerulean comes back carrying some books on her back, waving to everyone.
"Hey everyone! I'm back! Hey, did you know libraries give books out for free?!"

>>718395
She looks very relieved and happy to see Cloud up.
"Hey, up and around already, huh? I'm guessing everything went good?"

 No.718398

>>718390
Bran, the badger, appears quite unconvinced, and trots away before he has to get another whiff of your smell.

>>718391
Shadow Alder claps twice with enthusiasm for the shopping trip. "Most agreeable. Let us be on our way, then."
You make your way down the bazaar, down by the docks. By far, it is the most packed area in the city, and there's a variety of smells arising from it, mostly fish and brine and coin that has been exchanged through a lot of dirty hands. Pirates and merchants alike raise their voices, hocking their wares and arguing for better prices. Every now and again you see a member of the Beesting or the Hidden Dagger among the packed crowds, selling some of the tea and spices that you recovered from the Lilliput.

Among the many wares sold in the congested bazaar, clothes are in abundance, with most prices for cheap clothes going for as little as five bits each, or more high end wares being as much as twenty or even thirty per piece. "You know," Shadow Alder says as he's jostled around by passerby. "I wonder if Splendid might fancy some of these duds!"

>>718392
Chiu beams, looking quite happy to see your mood raised, after how shaken you were earlier. The martini is a little flat, from having been ordered so long, but it is still well made and quite tasty.
Granny gives you a look up and down, her gaze lingering for a moment on your bag. She then raises her eyes. "Ach. You know how it goes, being the only adult in the room. Cutlass has gone and got herself drunk and Cloud and Chiu can't resist a good fight."
"It's true," Chiu admits.

>>718396
"Whaaaaat?" Chiu asks with good-natured sarcasm. "I never knew. I guess that's where you've been all this time? Did you check out anything good?"

 No.718399

>>718398
from having been ordered so long ago*

 No.718400

>>718396
Cloud turns, waving back.
"They have a library here? Huh, didn't think these islands would have one."

"Oh, yea. Everything went great. Thanks for the eye Cerulean, I feel a lot better with that than whatever Dorado would've put in."
Cloud lifts up his eyepatch to show the implanted Eye of Wisdom in his head to Cerulean.
"What do you think?"

 No.718402

>>718395
"Not exactly," she replies. "Gullveig and I are kindred spirits, you could say. She sells all sorts of magical trinkets and spells. It is really quite something."

>>718396
She blinks in bewilderment. "Yes. That's… how libraries work." The inner machinations of Cerulean's mind are an enigma to her. "How goes it?"

>>718398
She drinks the rest of the martini and puts it aside delicately. She can't help but smirk a little when Granny explains the situation. "Ah. I thought as much. What sort of fight? Nothing violent, I hope. We will need to be at full strength for some of the work they have on offer."

 No.718404

>>718396
Alder offers a wave as Cerulean passes by him, and cocks his head to the side. "Free books? How nice of them, I suppose… r-rather strange, though. I'm still rather busy though, so I will have to check up later! ave fun reading, Miss Cerulean!"

>>718398
Alder flicks his tail and frowns a little. He's plenty used to the foul smells of a city, but it doesn't make it any more enjoyable. He eventually finds a clothing stall and picks out a cloak and blue-colored scraf, before flicking his ears a little and looking to his doppelganger. "S-She would? Really?" he asks, somewhat excitedly. "Maybe I should bring her by here later."

Alder passes over the cloak and scarf while they talk.

 No.718405

>>718398
>>718402
"Yup! I got these books on this bird monster I was thinking of going after! Its got pretty feathers and makes noises like other monsters to try and help it if its trouble."

>>718400
"Hey, no problem. Just glad to help. And wow, looking good. You already look a lot smarter…or wiser. …aren't they the same?"

>>718404
"Oh, I plan to! …as soon as I figure out all those bigger words. Those ones really don't roll the tongue off too well…."

 No.718406

>>718402
"So like a general magic store then, sounds interesting."

 No.718408

>>718392

"I don't have a problem with it! I am perfectly content with my size!"

"On the subject of size, do make sure that your rodent is careful around Sir Pent. I'd hate for one to eat the other… Really it could end up going either way."

 No.718409

>>718402
"No, no, they're not at that point," Granny says. "Just some hullaballoo about who's a better pirate and whatnot."
"I could very well be a better pirate captain than she could ever be," Chiu says. "I'm just biding my time as a regular pirate for now. I still get a little squeamish about breaking laws."
Granny leans in, pretending like she's examining something in your mane behind your ear. "But if a few more drinks get into either of them, they'd be fighting openly over Cloud, mark my words. They nearly got into it earlier when Cutlass brushed her tail against his face."

>>718404
The cloak and scarf come out to being 20 Bits altogether. They're not high grade material, but they're still comfortable and well-made nonetheless.
Shadow Alder lets out a little squawking laugh. "And then, while she looks around, perhaps we can swap out spots and determine if she can tell the difference between us."
It occurs to you that you've only got a couple more minutes before the two spider thieves are cut loose and sent to find you.

>>718405
"Going on a hunt?" Chiu asks. "Have you got anyone to go with you? I'd like to, but I gotta keep an eye on Cloud, make sure he doesn't strain himself. The surgery went faster than expected 'cause the magic in the eye fused it to his head… or something… but I don't want him to throw off his recovery by doing anything crazy."

>>718408
>>718402
Though Bran may not understand a lick of Equish, he raises his head even higher upon hearing the word 'rodent.' He looks positively insulted, and contemptuous.

 No.718411

>>718405
Cloud smiles in bravado at the compliment.
"Really now? Neat. And yea they're pretty much the same."
He lowers his eye-patch to cover the eye back up to not expose it as much as the doctor said.
"I really owe you one for this Cerulean. So where did you get this thing anyway?"

 No.718412

>>718405
"Fascinating," she answers in a deadpan, but then changes her tone a bit. "Say. Whereabouts is this bird of yours located? If it is in the desert, I have some business to attend to there as well. I would accompany you, if you would have me."

>>718406
She looks a bit annoyed. "It is not just a general magic store. You cannot find magic like this anywhere else. It is of a rare and ancient kind."

>>718408
"Bran is a mustelid, not a rodent," she answers stiffly. And I dare say he could defeat your snake in single combat any day. Nevertheless, I shall keep them apart."

>>718409
She rolls her eyes. "Grow up, you three. Piracy is not exactly something to be proud of."

She makes a face when Granny leans in and whispers to her, like she's been force fed a lemon. "How very charming," she comments. "I daresay you would never find me doing so."

 No.718415

>>718412

"He could NOW. But I'm sure Sir Pent will grow!"

>>718409

"If you ever become a captain, I'll be infinitely impressed."

 No.718416

>>718409
"Huh? W-Well, maybe!" he says, flicking his ears a little bit as he mulls things over… before blinking in surprise and and chirping out "Right! We need to get to the library rather quick- we probably only have a few minutes."
>I don't need to roll to get there, do I?

 No.718417

>>718412
"Oh so like an antique magic store."


>>718415
>>718395

 No.718418

>>718409
"Well, that's what I'm working on now. I'm gonna try and figure something out, cause it says no less than four since, ya know, the whole calling for help thing."

>>718411
"I bought it from a spider merchant guy from the previous island. He gave me a nice deal cause I helped a insect band from those bee warriors." She smiles warmly at remembering the performing bug troupe.

>>718412
"Hmm…," she looks at the posting again, then sighs slightly.
"No, its in the forest to the kinda north. I would've love to have you along, but if you gotta do cool Thessy stuff, then go ahead."

 No.718420

>>718415
"Perhaps," she simply answers.

>>718417
She blusters a little, giving up. "P… To call it that would be to call a great painting a scribble. But yes, an antique magic store. Gullveig and I see eye to eye on much. Once we have more money, I am sure you will find aught of use."

>>718418
She weighs her options. "I… As you wish, then. I shall accompany you on your hunt. A change of scenery would not be remiss."

 No.718421

>>718412
"That snarky remark would come out of your share of the treasure if I were your captain," Chiu says with chutzpah. "Watch yourself, or I'll be forced to drag out the cliches! Walking planks and peg legs and everything!"

Granny rolls her eyes and smiles. "Ooh, Ah'm sure ye've never been as gaga for a stallion as either of these two mares. How many drinks will it take before ye start to spill the beans on all your past loves, eh?"

>>718415
>>718411
Chiu narrows her eyes. "It can't be that hard, considering who's a captain these days," she says. She then looks at Cloud. "Whaddya say to forming our own crew, hmm?"

>>718416
Shadow Alder hoots with amusement at the idea of tormenting Splendid so. The two of you get some directions from passerby to the library, which you make your way to. It's a few levels up on the terraced strata of the city, above the hustle and bustle of the bazaar, and so it's a good distance away from all the smells and sounds. The library itself is a bit small, being only two stories high, and it has the jolly roger of the Crimson King hanging beneath the island's flag.

Inside, the library is dusty and warm, with wooden floors covered with soft rugs, and tall shelves all around, closely built together in hexagonal shapes like a proper bug's hive. It is sparsely populated, with just a few readers, mostly young Krikral, and quite quiet. To your right are stairs heading up and down.

>>718418
Chiu grumbles. "That sounds so fun… but I've got to make sure Cloud's alright, so I may have to pass, and Granny promised him some soup. Could call up some of the others, though, if you need other members.

 No.718423

>>718418
"That's convenient, though why'd you pick it up? Did he not have anything else good outside of glass eyes?"

>>718420
"Cool. Can't wait to check it out then if it's that good."

>>718421
>>718415
Cloud thinks on the idea.
"Heh, that sounds like a great idea. We got that tiny ship already, why not claim it for our own?"

>>718421
>>718418
"We could take a stroll out there Chiu."
Cloud says as she sounds disappointed that she can't go out with the others on their hunt.
"I'm fine enough with walking. I'l just sit back and you can help the others fight."

 No.718424

>>718421
"But you are not the captain," she simply says to her in a slightly smug tone.

She looks uncomfortable as Granny teases her. "There… there is not much to tell," she answers in a low voice, looking away. "If… if at all."

>>718423
She looks a bit peeved at Cloud's underestimation of the place, but makes no further comment.

 No.718425

>>718420
"Oh yea. I couldn't give this to you earlier since you walked off."
Cloud takes out the last of the cookies he got from the breezies, holding it out to Thessaly.
"I got some cookies for saving that tortoise, so here's your share. Still a little warm too."

 No.718426

>>718421
Alder turns to his doppelganger, and hums a little bit in thought. "Okay… I want them to split up at first, and see if the one who spots the lookalike will go get the other for help." he explains, humming a little. "So… we should start on the same floor, and one of us head to the other once we've spotted them- just like prior, I say we should ensure they at least glance at the both of us." the griffon explains, pulling his hood up over his head.

 No.718428

>>718423
"Oh no, he had other things, like the cute little beetleband. But it looked so pretty that I just kinda got it on a whim. And turns out there's a helpful spirit in there that helps answers questions from time to time."

>>718420
"Yes! Tha-" Cerulean smiles wide, and goes to hug her, but actually manages to control herself this time and not do so.
"Right right, you're not a big fan of that, too. But still, thank you!"

>>718421
"Soup and time with his girlfriend? It can't be all that bad, right?"

 No.718429

>>718428
"Wait wait, repeat that again. There's a spirit in this eye?"
Cloud asks, pointing up to his eyepatch.

 No.718430

>>718426
[1d10] Master Thief

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718431

>>718423
"That's just a little boat for diving and whatnot," Chiu protests. "I wanna have a huge fleet when I'm Captain. Lots and lots of ships under my command, and a big cloak and hat and everything."

>>718423
Chiu narrows her eyes even further until they're basically just slits. "Whaaaaaat happened to us going back to the ship now that you fixed the pinball machine? Now all of a sudden you can go out on a journey into a forest?"

>>718424
"Not yet," Chiu counters, energy growing in her chest as she puffs herself up with visions of grandeur.

Granny arches an eyebrow. "Want me to fix that?" she asks simply.

>>718426
"Good plan," Shadow Alder says, pulling up the hood of his own cloak and pulling the scarf across his face. "In what section shall we set up? History, the natural sciences, philosophy?"

>>718428
Chiu looks dumbfounded at first, then smiles. "Nope, when you put it that way, that's all I ever really want… but with my special stallion. Not with a girlfriend, mind you."

She then looks back at Cloud. "But now it sounds like he wants to go anyway, so we might end up coming."

 No.718432

>>718429
"Yup! A helpful one, so I wouldn't worry too much."

 No.718433

>>718432
"That might be why the eye bonded so quickly then."
Cloud says in thought, relaxing a bit.
"So how does it help out? Cause I haven't really gotten anything from this eye aside from everything being blue."

>>718431
"We gotta start somewhere. And a diving boat is perfect for sieging other ships, they'll never see it coming."
Cloud steps up to her side, putting a hoof around Chiu's shoulders.
"Let's start with the outfit then. Before we leave this island, you'll be the most intimidating looking captain any pirate has seen! Promise."

>>718431
Though as she narrows her eyes into a piercing gaze, Cloud pauses a moment.
"Well… I mean, I'l probably need some help walking out there," Cloud stammers from the look, clearing his throat, "But hey, I don't want to deny you any fun. Plus I'll get to watch you fight and show off your new aura. That'll definitely help he relax and heal up better."
He says with confident set back, and giving Chiu a little squeeze in his grasp.

 No.718434

>>718431
"Ehm… any, so long as they are close to the stairs. History, maybe?" he suggests, before humming. "We'll want a hurried, but still natural pace… not enough to get them aggressive, but enough to get them a little panicked- so that they need to think fast, and we can test how well they respond to pressure in a public place like this."

 No.718435

>>718434
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718436

>>718431
"I think I get it. Kinda. I mean, I used to swim alone, but ever since joining up with you all, well, this schooling thing isn't half bad."

>>718433
"It always answered questions whenever I wasn't sure of things. Like telling me fishing works better if you put worms on hooks."

 No.718437

>>718436
>>718431
"Really? Huh, wonder if that'll still work."
Cloud tries to think of a good question to ask the eye, but is coming up blank. Perhaps he is a bit too worn out if he can't think of a simple question. He looks up, seeing some birds fly overhead. He lifts up his eye-patch slightly, not letting it get exposed too much to the light but enough that it could catch part of the birds.
"Hey, spirit that's in my eye. What's the best kind of bird?"
He says aloud, assuming that'd be the best way to ask it, and also gauge if he can ask it opinionated questions or not.

 No.718438

>>718433
Chiu doesn't let up her piercing gaze all through your attempt to persuade her to let you go. She looks down at your hooves as you squeeze her. "Every time you swindle me like this, you owe me another ship for my fleet, swab." She squeezes you back. "Fine… but no getting involved. Last thing you need is any more damage to that eye, understand?"

>>718436
Chiu smirks. "We'll have to find you a mister shark of your own by the time we get to the next island so you can see what it's like. But okay! Let's not dally any more. Whenever you're ready, we'll head out and find that bird."

>>718437
"Rawwk!" a voice echoes in your head, seeming to come from your eye. A black silhouette shrouds your vision for a moment, before pulling back. In your right eye socket, you see a field of pure blue, upon which a small, murky figure hops, spreading out two appendages on either side. "It's the crow, obviously!"

The murky figure becomes more clear, and in time you indeed see that it's a crow. The crow hops forward and pecks in your direction, and you hear the sound of crystal being tapped by something hard.

>>718434
You look around, and find that the History section is indeed at the front of the library, comprised of a cluster of hexagonal shelves packed to the gills with old books. They are furher divided by history of war, cultural-tribal history, technological history, and religious history. It's also close to the stairs, and there's a good bit of distance between that section and the front entrance. Shadow Alder nods to your plan, and makes his way to the history section, and starts to flip idly through a cultural-tribal history book to help cover his silhouette face.

Shortly after you make your way over to the History section itself, you hear a light pattering of spider legs upon the rooftop, nearly imperceptible, but no other sounds beyond that. You realize now that you also cannot sense any presence, with your thief's instinct, unlike earlier when the two positively radiated their intent. They've improved… and now you're left in the dark.

>Paused

 No.718732

File: 1559004830780.png (484.9 KB, 2304x1540, Cerulean Library Card.png)

Last time on PirateQuest…

After a well deserved respite from the day's work, the party members regrouped, coming together outside of Coop's Stoop to catch up on what the others got accomplished. Cerulean and Thessaly in particular had interesting things to share, as Cerulean obtained her very own library card, and Thessaly had a new member of the crew to welcome, a badger named Bran, who had a very high opinion of himself for a mustelid. While Cutlass was recovering from her rampant drinking, their little group made plans to go hunt a rampant qurupeco that had been attacking trading caravans to the north-northeast.

Alder, with the help of Shadow Alder, was now on the final test for the two spider thieves, Kitsune-mask and Tengu-mask, and planned to wait in the local library for the two spiders. The tight spaces and quietude of the library would likely provide a severe challenge for the spiders, as they had previously enjoyed success based on their ability to get away from Alder in a hurry with their web swinging, and of course on a little sheer luck.

 No.718733

>Cloud
Chiu doesn't let up her piercing gaze all through your attempt to persuade her to let you go. She looks down at your hooves as you squeeze her. "Every time you swindle me like this, you owe me another ship for my fleet, swab." She squeezes you back. "Fine… but no getting involved. Last thing you need is any more damage to that eye, understand?"

>"Rawwk!" a voice echoes in your head, seeming to come from your eye. A black silhouette shrouds your vision for a moment, before pulling back. In your right eye socket, you see a field of pure blue, upon which a small, murky figure hops, spreading out two appendages on either side. "It's the crow, obviously!"


>The murky figure becomes more clear, and in time you indeed see that it's a crow. The crow hops forward and pecks in your direction, and you hear the sound of crystal being tapped by something hard.


>Alder

You look around, and find that the History section is indeed at the front of the library, comprised of a cluster of hexagonal shelves packed to the gills with old books. They are furher divided by history of war, cultural-tribal history, technological history, and religious history. It's also close to the stairs, and there's a good bit of distance between that section and the front entrance. Shadow Alder nods to your plan, and makes his way to the history section, and starts to flip idly through a cultural-tribal history book to help cover his silhouette face.

Shortly after you make your way over to the History section itself, you hear a light pattering of spider legs upon the rooftop, nearly imperceptible, but no other sounds beyond that. You realize now that you also cannot sense any presence, with your thief's instinct, unlike earlier when the two positively radiated their intent. They've improved… and now you're left in the dark.

>Cerulean

Chiu smirks. "We'll have to find you a mister shark of your own by the time we get to the next island so you can see what it's like. But okay! Let's not dally any more. Whenever you're ready, we'll head out and find that bird."

>Thessaly

>Cutlass
"I'm not Captain yet," Chiu counters, energy growing in her chest as she puffs herself up with visions of grandeur.

Granny arches an eyebrow, hearing that Thessaly has little to brag about in terms of romance. "Want me to fix that?" she asks Thessaly.

 No.718734

>>718732
>>718733
Alder flicks his ears as he hears something on the roofn, and… nothing else. They've definitely improved. He makes a slightly exaggerated effort of checking his cloak, and moves one of the spare seashells from prior over to another pocket- if they can see him, they might not realize it's a decoy. He tries to gesture upwards as subtly as he can using the book he's stuffed his beak into, in hopes of making sure Shadow Alder has an awareness of what to expect.
>Master Thief [1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718735

>>718734
You slightly fumble the seashell as you transfer it to a pocket, and Shadow Alder lowers the book as he squints his shadowy eyes at… whatever it was you just did. He looks like someone hopelessly lost in the middle of a game of Charades.
Whuh? he mouths. Other library-goers glance over at the two of you weirdos wearing hoods in a library.

 No.718736

>>718733
"Aye aye, captain."
Cloud says with an exaggerated salute.


Cloud's ears perk as he hears the sound, looking about in confusion at the echo. When the figure appears in his right eye, Cloud takes a step back in surprise, both from the appearance and from the voice coming from it. As the crow comes forward and pecks, Cloud jumps a bit from the unsettling vision of a crow pecking his eye, his hoof letting go of his eyepatch and letting it np back down.
"WHOA! HEY!"
He yelps. He swings his hoof out at where he perceives the crow to be, his body shuddering at the sound of the tapping inside his head.
"Knock that off! I gotta see through this!"

 No.718737

>>718735
>[1d10] Master Thief (sensory)
hissing to himself in annoyance, he tries to mouth 'rooftop'.
>Charades weren't a good idea, so let's try lipreading! [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 3 = 3

 No.718738

>>718736
Granny and Chiu flinch and step back as you swing out at the open space before you. Your hoof passes harmlessly through the air, making contact with nothing. Your right eye goes dark again as the eyepatch falls down, and the crow vanishes. You still hear the soft rustling of its feathers.
"Ach! Whah's gotten into you?" Granny exclaims, while all of Chiu's worry has welled back up into her gaze.
"Dorado didn't mention anything like this happening," she says. "What's going on?"

 No.718739

>>718738
"…There's something in my eye."
Cloud says, a little confused himself. As he stills hears the rustling, he lifts his eyepatch up again slightly for some light.
"Who are you?"
He asks the crow, not responding to Chiu just yet.

 No.718740

>>718737
Shadow Alder pauses, visibly deciphering your mouthed words, and then he blinks with realization. He looks up at the ceiling with paranoia, then suddenly turns to the right, facing the bookshelves, his head tilted, ears twitching. He crouches and peers through the books. Footsteps, he mouths to you, pointing toward the bookshelf.

 No.718741

>>718739
The clear blue field once more returns to the right half of your vision, causing a weird effect as your left eye sees the world before you and the right eye sees the blue field. You'll have to close one eye or put the eyepatch down to look at either one comfortably.
"All you need to know
is that I'm a Crow;
the rest, I just don't know," the Crow says sing-songly. She pauses and counts on her wings. "…I need to work on my meter."

 No.718742

>>718740
>Master Thief [1d10] PLEASE
'Upstairs!' the griffon tries to mouth, trying to fake messing with his pockets. They definitely seem close now.
>[1d10] Make them think he's swapping stuff around?

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 3 = 3

 No.718743

>>718733
Cerulean hears of a 'mister shark' and blushes a bit, waving a hoof and shaking her head.
"Oh no no no, I couldn't! I'm doing this pirate stuff right now."

"But yes, I'm ready to go bird hunting. I went to the library and learned what I could about so I would be prepared for once," she says, puffing her chest with a sense of pride at doing the smarts.

 No.718744

>>718742
Focusing your mind, you take a moment and open your ears to all the subtle movements and noises happening around you. You pick up on a subtle hint of nervous energy to the north, beyond the bookcases, but it's not moving. What really gets your attention is that there's movement coming from above you, upstairs, moving toward the stairwell. Shadow Alder finally gets the memo, and looks to you for direction.
Split or together? he mouths back, gesturing to the two of you.

 No.718745

>>718741
Cloud huffs as the bird sings back it's answer. It should be expected for a bird to act like that, but Cloud is still annoyed.
"So, you're the spirit in this eye then?"
He asks, piecing together what Cerulean told him.

 No.718746

>>718744
>[1d10] Master Thief
'Split.' he mouths back, tucking his cloak in. 'One up, one here.'

Alder tries to get up and move sections, settling into the… Natural Sciences section, or whatever's close. Just so that they're both moving!
>Stay concealed! [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 5 = 5

 No.718747

>>718733

"Oh,puhlease!" Cutlass says to Chiu with a catty, drunken wave of her hoof. "You can't even control your own boyfriend. How can you expect to be in charge of a whole ship?"

>>718424

"Seriously?" Cutlass responds in drunken, exaggerated surprise. "I'm pretty sure any stallion would kill to be with a mare that looks as good as you at your age!"

 No.718748

>>718745
The Crow clears her throat. "Rawk! Yep. I know everything! Whenever you want wisdom, I'll regurgitate everything I know!"
The little Crow hops about, pecking at the ground.

>>718747
Chiu scoffs. "There's no way I could do any worse than a shorty brat like you. Three ships and counting, huh? What's your next brand after Captain Plague starts a mutiny on the Hidden Dagger?"

>>718743
>>718745
Granny and Chiu gawk at Cloud as he talks to persons unseen and unheard, as only he can hear the Crow in his eye right now. Then, they look back at Cerulean. "Alright," Chiu says. "Want us to rustle anyone else up or just go with us? My hooves are going to be full with Cloud here as he talks to imaginary friends, apparently."

>If you want, you can request any NPC besides Bee Holder and her inner circle (Bent Scales, Cane Shuga, Kling Klang and Sickly Sweet) to join you.


>>718746
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru88jYdl3k4

Keeping your mind clear, you continue to keep tabs on the two presences in the library, finding it a little easy to keep them in mind with the relative peace of the place. Shadow Alder slips toward the stairwell, slinking away with a quiet grin.

You move west through the library, slipping between hexagonal bookshelves toward the natural sciences, while the presence on the first floor slowly follows after you, keeping a good distance. Shortly, you reach that section, finding it sparsely populated, apart from some research students sitting at a cluster of desks with a few biology books before them. Bookshelves and little desks surround you on all sides, but you don't yet see your follower.

 No.718749

>>718748

"Right back at you," Cutlass says with a cocky smirk.

Then, she slowly blinks. "Th-that was a Cloud cheating on you joke," she explains, realizing her joke was incomprehensible.

 No.718750

>>718748
>[1d10] Master Thief
Alder hums softly, trying to remain as unaware-looking as possible. He snags a different boon off the shelf, and quickly opens it to look at the contents, and cover his face
>[1d10] Master Thief

Roll #1 8 = 8 / Roll #2 8 = 8

 No.718751

>>718425
"Hm?" She takes the cookie, eyeing it curiously, almost as if suspicious. She takes a small, dainty bite, then another. "…They are quite good. Thank you, Cloud. I am glad I was able to do my part in this. Even if I do not yet understand this new onus fully." She offers a bit of cookie to Bran, who is presumably still patrolling the area.

>>718428
"You're welcome," she answers stiffly. "I believe this will benefit us both. We are headed in the same direction, more or less. There are odd occurrences taking place in the desert. Disappearances, creatures outside of their natural habitats, general magical anomalies. …I may need someone with great strength."

>>718733
She looks stony. "…No. No, I think not. I have lived this long without need for another. I do not see that changing."

>>718747
"You flatter me, captain," she says with a tinge of sarcasm. "But I am no great beauty. In fact, if you were to see my true face, you would think quite differently of me.

 No.718752

>>718749
Chiu just looks perplexed rather than upset. "How…?" is all she can ask after such a gaffe.
"Ah think ya've both had enough to say," Granny cuts in, standing between you and Chiu. "As much as Ah'd like somethin' else to clean up, no need to be gettin' in fights when we could be gettin' money instead."

>>718750
You come across a fairly hefty ethnography text that catalogues the major racial and ethnic groups of the Ribcage, with more focus on the evolutionary side of their development rather than the cultural side. A perusal of the chapters shows, in addition to the races you're familiar with, sections on the Krikral, the Vola, and the Lagos.

As you sift through the text, you get a brief glimpse of Tengu-mask darting from shelf to shelf, hidden well but revealed by the open spaces in the shelves where books have been taken. He's on the other side of the area, with the research student study group positioned between the both of you.

>>718751
Bran sniffs the cookie curiously, then slurps it out of your hand, messily chewing it down with enthusiasm. Granny looks skeptical of your answer, but shrugs. "The offer remains open if'n ye change yer mind, lass."

 No.718753

>>718748
"You know everything, eh? Alright, how come you bonded to me so quickly."
Cloud asks, then pauses as the Crow hops about in his vision.
"…And you're just always gonna be hopping around in my vision, aren't you?"

 No.718754

>>718748
"Huh? Oh, it's just a friendly spirit is all, don't worry," she says with a smile to ease Chiu slightly.

She hums in thought a bit as she thinks over all the various crewmates and friends she's made along the way.
"Well…now that I think about it…oh, Squatz! If I remember right, he can put things to sleep. That should make things super easy, right?"

 No.718755

>>718751

"The ability to change your appearance?" Cutlass says with a grin. "Just another plus, if you ask me!"

>>718752
>>718751

"What is this about a desert?" Cutlass asks in a more serious tone. "Is it a smart idea to be bringing a shark there?"

 No.718756

>>718752
Humming softly in interest, the griffon buries his beak slightlu further into the book. Having the study group inbetween the two of them doesn't seem too bad, for now. He'll give things a little bit longer, just to see.
>[1d10] Master Thief

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.718757

>>718751
Cerulean seems a bit upset at the sounds of going to a dry, arid place like a desert. But, seeing as how Thessaly was going along with her, Cerulean's expression softened to a smile.
"Alright. I can help out with something like that!"

 No.718758

>>718751
"I'm glad you had my back. I definitely wouldn't have been able to handle those scorpions now if they tried to jump me when I walekd back."

 No.718759

>>718753
"…" is all that the Crow has to say for an answer to the first question, blankly staring your way.

"Rawk! Yep! As long as I'm in your eye socket, I'll be here too."

>>718754
>>718755
"Oh yeah, you had the Eye before this, huh?" Chiu asks. "If you think it's friendly, it should be fine then… as long as it doesn't distract him in a dangerous situation."

"Aye, 'twould be handy to have that with us," Granny adds. "An' if ye feel like sellin' the Qurupeco insteada killin' it, ye could wrangle it that way."

>>718755
"We're going to the forest first, then the desert," Chiu corrects smugly. "Try to keep up."

>>718756
You leaf through the book toward the section on Krikral. According to the text, the Krikral's origins as a distinct racial group are hypothesized to be the result of insects coming into contact with powerful natural magic fields deep within the earth, which amplified their physical and mental characteristics and encouraged development toward larger bodies, moving upright, and using verbal communications over pheromones and simple body language. The Krikral have no small number of ethnicities, which are referred to as "-tribes," such as "Spider-tribe," or "Mantis-tribe." Though they are concentrated mostly on Agyl Island, the purported Island of their origin, they have popultions on many other major islands, preferring to live in segregated regions away from other races, particularly the Vola, with whom they have a natural enmity. They are also often feared by other races, under suspicions that the populace at large practices cannibalism. Cannibalistic practices still exist among the Krikral, but largely only in rural areas, where outsiders generally don't stray.

Tengu-mask's presence softens as he hides himself, but you can keep a faint sense of it in the back of your mind. After a little delay, apparently to see if you'll act first, it starts to move again, coming around on your left side, slipping among the shelves, but always out of your sight.

 No.718760

Populations*

 No.718761

>>718752
She can't help but smile at Bran's simple nature, giving the badger another affectionate scratch behind the ears.

"It is not something I think of often," she says to Granny. "I just have prioritized survival and magic over any sort of relationship. I am not in the market, as it were. But I appreciate the offer."

>>718755
She rolls her eyes. "I am not available," she repeats firmly. "And I shan't be for the foreseeable future."

>>718755
>>718757
As Cutlass brings up a valid point, she touches her chin. "I suppose it would be uncomfortable for you. If you would rather not, I will not force you to accompany me. It may be dangerous for a water based creature like yourself."

>>718758
"And I in turn would not have been able to do many things were it not for your skills," she answers politely. "I doubt the circus operation would have gone as relatively smoothly as it did were it not for your expertise. I am glad we are working together."

 No.718762

>>718761
Though Bran maintains an atmosphere of aloof pride, he accepts your tribute of scratches, and sticks close to you. You feel the beginnings of something beautiful.

Granny nods sagely. "Anytime, lass."

 No.718763

>>718759
"Oh true, there is that. I didn't even think of selling something like that. Well we'll see what happens when we go do the things."

>>718755
>>718761
"Well, it kinda would be a bit rough on me, yeah. But I'll still tag along. I mean, doing stuff for others is what crewmates and friends do, right? And you're kinda going out of your way to help me, so let me do the same."

 No.718764

>>718759
"Heh, guess you don't know everything."
Cloud snickers as the Crow has no answer to his question. As it confirms it'll always be there, Cloud covers the eye back up with his eyepatch.
"Great. Just don't peck at me again, it's uncomfortable."

Cloud comes back to reality, looking to the others.
"So what's going on? Are we heading out or what?"

>>718761
"We make a pretty good team, don't we?"

 No.718765

>>718759
(forgot to add)

After reassuring Thessaly that she'll still accompany her on her task, Cerulean goes off in search of Squatz for recruitment.

 No.718766

>>718759
Alder nods a little bit, and looks around the room a little. Spotting another shelf, he heads over to it and tries to see if he can find a book on Krikral- keeping the group inbetween the spider and him
>Master Thief [1d10]
>Act natural! also, look for a book! [1d10]

Roll #1 7 = 7 / Roll #2 9 = 9

 No.718767

>>718761

"I didn't mean for me!" Cutlass says defensively. "I am perfectly heterosexual," she adds in a proud tone.

 No.718768

>>718764
"I-I know everything, but not every question warrants an answer," the Crow says defensively.

>>718763
>>718765
>>718764
After a little search, Cerulean finds Squatz in the bazaar, the pockets of his coat stuffed suspiciously full. She gives him a quick rundown of the job and the details of who will be accompanying them. Squatz seems pleased. "Hunting? Yeah, sure, whatever, I'd be glad to help, I feel like I don't get to hang out with you nearly enough. And I'm certainly not looking for a place to hide right about now."

Back in the bazaar, you hear an angry shopkeeper yelling bloody murder about a shoplifter.

"Well, I'm ready to go!" Squatz says eagerly, leading the way to the gate leading northeast out of town while holding down his pockets with telekinesis.

>When ready to go, roll for navigation


>>718766
The presence briefly disappears as you move toward another bookshelf, and take a book on Krikral physiognomy off the shelf. Just then, your senses spike, and you instinctively duck. As the book leaves the shelf, a long spider leg shoots out from the other side, darting through the empty space above you. It's Tengu-mask! Once more, Tengu-mask tries to grab at you through the empty spaces on the shelf, acting far more aggressively than before.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7

 No.718769

>>718768

Cutlass follows the others going hunting. Though, in her current state, she's not entirely certain what's going on.

[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.718770

>>718763
"If it is your wish, I cannot stop you from accompanying me," she replies simply. "And I will not be offended should you choose to leave, either."

>>718764
"Aye, we do," she nods. "It is as my people said: Giorraíonn beirt bothar. Two shorten the road."

>>718767
She looks a bit taken aback. "I did not mean… Well. That is good to know, I suppose."

>>718768
She rolls her eyes at Squatz's kleptomania. "The state of you," she mutters under her breath. She double checks to make sure Bran is still following, and, if he seems tired out, picks him up with telekinesis again and follows the rest of the party onwards.
[1d10]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718771

>>718768
"Alright then. Not like I need an answer, you bonded to me cause I'm great."
Cloud boasts.

Cloud looks over to Chiu.
"Got it settled now. I have a spirit in my eye that knows mostly everything."

>>718768
As everypony starts to move, Cloud follows along, though while not entirely sure what the Qurupeco creature they're hunting, he just keeps an eye out for anything odd.
>Navigate [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718772

>>718770
"Awesome! And no worries, I don't plan on leaving you behind."

>>718768
Cerulean is quick to lead the way with her big band of 'monster hunters'.
"Let's see, it said the forests to the north, so…."

>Navigate

[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.718773

>>718768
Alder yelps a little bit, trying to draw a little bit of attention- just enough to try and stress the spider out some! He ducks away from the bookshelf, leaving his two books on one of the tables to be polite. He bolts for the door, making sure to pass by the staircase on his way!
>[1d10] Master Thief (Can I sense the other one?)
>[1d10] Run! Or, walk quickly!

Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 7 = 7

 No.718774

>>718770
[1d10] See that which is unseen

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.718775

>>718770
Bran, it seems, is keeping up just fine, having gotten more energy from having been set free from Gullveig's holding pens to experience the great outdoors once more.

>>718771
"…Huh," Chiu says. "Guess that's a lot handier than having to lug around an encyclopedia. Just make sure you get along with it; I don't wanna imagine what being on bad terms with an entity trapped in your eye would be like."

>>718769
>>718770
>>718771
>>718772
>>718774
You follow signposts through town until you reach the great northeastern gate, which is currently open, allowing a few small groups of rather unremarkable travelers to pass through. Thessaly gets a strange feeling of scrutiny for a moment, but as she glances over at the travelers, the feeling just as quickly vanishes. In any case, after passing through the gate, you reach a road with trees on either side, a thin hilly forest. This area strikes you as rather unnatural, as the trees are evenly spaced out, and the road is rather straight and narrow, evenly heading toward the northeast as if it were custom made instead of naturally worn by travel.

As you progress down the road, you notice a few branching paths heading more north-northeast. You proceed down one of the larger ones, which has caravan trails, given that you have little more to go on other than the fact that the qurupeco has been reported to attack traveling caravans. You pass among the artificial-feeling landscape, seeing manicured trees and sculpted hills as you go, but you see little sign of anything odd, only the activities of birds and forest squirrels as you go.

Squatz clicks his tongue. "So… any of you have experience hunting monsters? Tracking, or whatever?"
"Nae," Granny says.
"…No, I'm more of an city-dweller," Chiu says.

Bran sniffs around. [1d10]

>>718773
The sounds of the commotion alert the research students and other library-goers, who leap up in surprise and alarm at the sight of the fight. Tengu-mask winces now that his cover's blown, but manages to kick you some distance down the aisle, knocking the wind from your lungs.
>Alder loses 2 Hits and begins to feel unsteady, and a little woozy.

On your way to the door, you manage to make it to the staircase, and you hear the sounds of an attempted quiet fight coming from up there. You put some distance between you and Tengu-mask, so you could head up either way, but you better choose fast; Tengu-mask is quick on your trail, readying another strike!

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 6 + 1 = 7

 No.718776

>>718775
"I think I'm on good terms with…huh."
Cloud pauses.
"Hey, spirit crow. What's your name?"
He says aloud, asking the crow.

>>718775
Cloud looks around as they enter the northern territory again, having just been here a few moments ago. The walk back leaves him feeling a bit tired, remembering how far it was.
"If I was feeling better I can track something decently enough. But what exactly is it we're hunting again?"

 No.718777

>>718775

Cutlass' buzz slowly dies off as they travel for an extended period of time. She begins to feel a little parched. Slowly, she realizes she has little idea what's going on.

"Wait, we're monster hunting!?" she says, the first lucid-sounding thing that's come out of her mouth in a while.

"O-Ossie, are you with me?" she asks her own shadow with concern.

 No.718778

>>718775
"I'm more used to the things I hunt being in the water, honestly. Its a bit tougher for me in the air, but I think I'm getting better at all this land stuff lately," she says, going off of the book and trying to remember the various bits of info to help her keep an eye out for certain clues to track it.

[1d10+1]

>>718776
"Its called a qurupeco. Its some kind of big, colorful bird thing that can mimic the sounds of other things if it feels threatened. Which usually sometimes leads to it getting help, sometimes from things even bigger than the qurupeco," she more seemingly recites as she's thinking back to the book.

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3

 No.718779

>>718778
"So it's like a giant parrot pretty much. Doesn't sound too difficult to deal with."

 No.718780

>>718775
She frowns unhappily at the manufactured landscape. "This is… wrong," she comments. "It's as if this place was made, not born of the earth."

She answers Squatz. "Nothing as worldly as this. I have tracked magical beings, but they are completely different to a conventional hunt." She keeps an eye on Bran, recalling that badgers have an excellent sense of smell. He could potentially sniff out anything odd. While her new best friend does so, she keeps peering around the area, the artificiality of it all making her uncomfortable.
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.718781

>>718775
Alder shakes his head a little bit and lets out a soft warble, before turning to head up the stairs! He tries to barrel past the spider upstairs, and head out the closest open window! If there's not an open window, he'll try to get one open!
>[1d10] Now it's time to run!

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.718782

>>718781
He'll also mouth for shadow Alder to 'run' since it's getting volatile!

 No.718783

>>718776
"Hmm," the Crow says.

>>718777
There is a pause, but there is no response to your query. Looks like either she really did follow your orders and stay out of your shadow, or perhaps she recently left.

>>718780
>>718778
>>718776
>>718777
"At least Thessaly's got some experience," Squatz says. "All I can hunt for is a good discount."
As Cerulean shares around the bestiary, Thessaly's experience with hunting starts to come back to her. As she said, it's not quite the same, but there are certain parallels that can be applied. After some searching for tracks, Thessaly and Bran spot something among the artificial grass: Little bits of old green feathers, as well as bits and pieces of wood buried among the foliage. After some inspection, you realize that there are bits and pieces of a wagon, and you find some torn cloth that probably made up the cover too. These appear to be at least a few days old. The trail leads up to a hill, one with a path that zig-zags up its surface and heads upward among the rocks and bushes.

>>718780
"Guess that's why the map called it an artificial island, huh?" Chiu offers. "It kinda feels like a rich pony's garden, you know?"

>>718781
You fail to get up the stairs before Tengu-mask can strike again, this time hitting your lower back. You remain standing, but the feelings of unsteadiness grow, centered around your legs and side where the impacts landed.
>Alder loses another 2 Hits, the feelings worsening

You manage to make it up the stairs, and while Tengu-mask tries to pursue you, you hear the shouts of various guards, and a struggle below you, affording you a chance to get up to the second level.

The second floor is much like the first, but you see several overturned desks. Shadow Alder is sitting atop one of the taller bookshelves on the left side of the room, near the ceiling, while Kitsune-mask waits below him, their battle having come to a brief lull. Both look a little roughed up, but Shadow Alder perches with his back raised, like a cat enjoying its prey. He looks your way as you mouth to 'run', and shakes his head, smiling wide.

 No.718784

Alder tries to down one of his pre-mixed potions, hoping it'll fix whatever he's been poisoned with!
>Natural Remedy [1d10+1]

Shrugging al ittle in response to Shadow Alder, he flicks the Kitsune-masked spider's snout and goes for a window! Hopefully he'll catch Alder's face, and go for him instead!

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.718785

>>718783
"You don't have one?"
Cloud asks as the crow hums.
"Guess I'll have to think of one for you then, something easier to say instead of spirit."

As they spot the wagon bits and feathers, Cloud keeps his ears up and alert to keep out for any sounds of this giant bird as the party follows the trail.
>Eavesdrop [1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718786

>>718783

Cutlass is practically thankful for the lack of Ossie. It's best she not be present for the drunken spectacle she made herself into.

"A monster did this…?" Cutlass ponders dubiously as she looks over the remains of the wagon. "How or why did all the evidence end up hidden like this?"

>Master Thief intuition to determine whether there was any intelligent intervention involved in this attack [1d10]


Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.718787

>>718783
She calls the rest of the group's attention to the tracks. "Over here. It seems our quarry was here some days ago. They lead up yonder hill." She motions with her head for everyone to follow and presses on the trail.

She nods to Chiu. "Indeed. It is very much not to my liking, I will aver. It all feels so superficial." She shudders a little out of disdain for the place.

>>718786
"Never underestimate an animal's intelligence," she comments. "Many beasts are much more sly than they appear."

 No.718788

>>718787

"Intelligent enough to hide evidence?" Cutlass responds dubiously.

 No.718789

>>718788
"Perhaps. It is not unheard of for animals to dispose of their victims' remains. We do not yet know fully what we are up against."

 No.718790

>>718784
You perk up and restore your injuries with your potion, restoring yourself to full Hits and shaking off whatever toxin that was.

Kitsune-mask is about to leap for Shadow Alder, but as you flick her face, she stumbles backward, sputtering with surprise. "Hey! Just how many of you are there?" she exclaims, but you are out the nearby window, leaping out over the town. With shock, she follows after you, leaping out and trying to swing after you.
[1d10+1]

Shadow Alder drops down silently after her, raising one claw…
[1d10+1]

>>718785
"I said, Hmm," the Crow corrects.

>>718787
>>718788
"Wouldn't there be more signs of a battle around here, then?" Squatz hazards. "Blood, scratch marks, that kind of stuff?"

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4 / Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6

 No.718791

>>718790

"Shouldn't there be evidence of that either way?" Cutlass points out.

 No.718792

>>718790
"Your name is Hmm?"
Cloud asks in disbelief.

 No.718793

>>718790
Alder chirps teasingly, tucking the glass bottle back into his cloak as he spreads his wings out! He soars over a few buildings, before folding them in and dropping into an alleyway to dart away in. Hopefully his feline ancestry helps him land on his feet!
>[1d10] Graceful landing?

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718794

>>718790
She frowns as Squatz brings up a good point. "Now you mention it, it is almost as if they fled, instead of being attacked. Hm. I suppose the answers will be revealed once we investigate further." She keeps searching the area for anything out of place, keeping an eye out especially for signs of a struggle.
[1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.718795

>>718790
>>718790
"Well, this trail seems to be a bit old. Things might've had a bit of a chance to clean themselves up. Kinda like how the ocean cleans itself up of dead stuff mostly. Dunno how those scavengers do it, but I think I'll let them keep doing them," she explains as she follows the trail up the hill, looking out for anything else that may continue it.

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718796

>>718792
"Rawk! Fun fact, it's not nice to judge people by their names! Rawk!" Hmm says.
"Its name is Hmm?" Granny echoes.

>>718792
>>718795
>>718794
>>718791
"Right, but there's just the little bits of wood and feathers and all that," Squatz says. "At first I thought they'd been attacked here, but I'm not so sure now…"
You comb about through the grass a bit, but don't find any more substantial evidence of a caravan attack. Perhaps that in itself can be considered as evidence of Thessaly's idea that this most recent victim fled before they could be bested.


>>718786
>>718785
>>718787
It's not a stretch to realize something's not quite right about this situation. It strikes you as odd to see a small amount of debris like this but not more signs of a battle around the area. Perhaps Thessaly's explanation holds up under scrutiny, but still, there is little more than the debris here. Bran sniffs at the feathers a little bit, and starts to follow after the mountain trail, noting little bits of feathers along the way.

As you start to climb the zig-zagging path up the hillside, you realize that this is no small hill; a small mountain looms above you, something that could potentially take all evening to traverse, assuming you know where to go. Eventually, you reach a little moss-covered plateau, and the path straightens out, looking like something a caravan would take to cross through to traverse the area. On either side, you see higher peaks, and see many vines hanging from trees above you upon those peaks, creating a canopy of foliage. If you climbed up either the rocks or vines, you might be able to get a better view of the area.

>>718793
"Oh no you don't!" Kitsune-mask shouts after you, and manages to hook onto your foot with her swung web, causing you to falter mid-flight and veer off course as she tries to yank you back into the library.
But then, Shadow Alder springs into action, dropping onto her from above and cutting into the web. "Hey! Be quiet in the library! People are trying to read here!" he shouts as he wrestles her for your freedom. He manages to cut you loose and distract Kitsune-mask, but you're spiraling out of control, and crash to the ground somewhere near the docks outside the library.

>Alder 0/5


You're dazed for a little while, but as your vision clears and you get your bearings, you become aware of a rather large minotaur in a business suit kneeling before you, talking a mile a minute while tapping a briefcase at his side. He holds a flurry of business cards in his fist. "–AndThatWasQuiteTheFallMyGoodSir! WhatYouNeedMyGoodSirIsSomeGenuineFlightInsurance! I'mOfferingAOneDayDealHereYou'dBeCrazyNotToTakeIt! NoSir! YouCannotAffordToPassThisOfferUp!"

 No.718797

>>718796
"Curiouser and curiouser," she muses. She observes the vines; she'd climb them herself, but is not athletic enough to be able to do so with ease. Nevertheless, she gives it a try.
[1d10] Climbing

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.718798

>>718796

Cutlass grumbles as their hike becomes increasingly daunting.

After a while, she finally huffs and says, "I did NOT sign up for a hike! Where were those caravans supposed to be going? They obviously weren't going up this way. I think we should figure out where they went. If they DID get away, they could tell us more."

 No.718799

>>718796
>>718798
"Hey, that's actually a good idea. Maybe if we split up and one group goes after another lead, we just might end up finding it quicker. Or even meet up together. We seem to have a good habit of doing that," Cerulean says before attempting to climb the vines for that better view.

[1d10]

Roll #1 8 = 8

 No.718800

>>718799

"I volunteer to go find wherever this caravan went," Cutlass raises her hoof quickly.

 No.718801

>>718796
"Hey, I wasn't judging. I was just… surprised. Nice name Hmm."
Cloud says, trying to fix the potential error so he doesn't have an angry bird squawking in his head all the time.

"Yea…. er…"
Cloud pauses again.
"Hey Hmm. Are you a boy or a girl?"

>>718796
Cloud follows the group as the climb the hill, going higher and higher until they reach the plateau to see it only continues on further. He slumps against a nearby tree, groaning.
"Guh, I didn't think finding a bird was going to be this hard."
Cloud complains, the walk taking a toll. He looks over at Cerulean, deciding to go against better judgement in pursuit of making the job go quicker as his eyes glow orange and blue, attempting to grow the shark to have both a higher viewpoint and so she can cover more ground.
>Wax/Wane [Grow Cerulean] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.718802

>>718801
"Rawk! I'm a hen!" Hmm says. "That's not gonna be an issue for your special somepony, is it?"

>>718797
>>718799
>>718801
The vines are a bit tricky to get ahold of, and Thessaly only manages to get up around halfway before the strain starts to wear on her. Cerulean has an easier time ascending the vines, aided a little by Cloud's spell. However, she only grows a smidgen before Cloud's spell breaks off, his head ringing faintly once more. Granny clicks her tongue and taps his arm. "Don't go and do that if you don't need to, lad. Save yer energy."

Once Cerulean gets to the top of the little tree canopy, she sees that the mountainside is more organic-looking in comparison to the more artificial-looking countryside you traversed earlier, with thick trees and clumps of bushes and blooming mosses covering the rocks. As she scans the area, she notes that there's a partly-hidden rocky clearing that you wouldn't be able to see or reach from the path that the party's on right now. In that clearing, there's a few opened crates, that look to have been wrenched open forcefully. Several empty bottles lay scattered carelessly among the crates, and there are other bits of trash and debris tossed around as well.

The clearing has a cave mouth nearby, which seems to be the primary way to get there, but it's not easily accessible from here. You'd either have to climb over the rocks or keep on the current path.

 No.718803

>>718796
Alder lets out a shaky warble as he's caught by the web, and a loud shout as the shadow's quick work frees him from the web… and slams him right into the ground! He shakes his head and squirms around a little on the ground, his vision solid white for a few moments, and too blurry to see much for a few moments after. He looks at the minotaur, flicking his ears to try and focus on what he's saying while trying to pull himself up.
>Recover [1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.718804

>>718801
>>718802
>>718800
>>718797

Once Cerulean is at the top, she does look around a bit and yells back to the others.
"Hey, it looks like there's a clearing not too far from here with a bunch of trash everywhere! And a cave, too! But we're either gonna have to climb over the rocks, or we keep going on this path. I can pull you guys up if you can manage to climb a bit."

 No.718805

>>718803
You manage to get up, but the minotaur really doesn't seem to notice, as he continues to spew his fast-talking sales pitch, going through brochures and pamphlets and all other kinds of evidence for why passing up this insurance he's offering is tantamount to death. What does catch your attention, amid the flurry of information, is the sight of Tengu-mask out among the bazaar's crowds once more, freed from whatever guards the library had, scanning the area carefully for you.
[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.718806

>>718805
"M-Maybe later. Sorry, sir." the griffon says, trying to melt into the crowd.
>[1d10] Stealth

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.718807

>>718802
"I, uhh…. Depends on what you can see and hear."
Is all Cloud can mutter in response to Hmm.

>>718802
Cloud slumps down more, holding a hoof to his head as he groans from the ringing.
"Eheh, old habits die hard…"
He says, a bit slowly as he tries to recollect himself.

>>718804
"I-I could use a little help up, yea…"

 No.718808

>>718806
You slip into the crowd once more, leaving behind the raving salestaur. He doesn't seem particularly upset at being denied, as he continues his sales pitch to some other unfortunate soul nearby. One might wonder if he even noticed that you left. You blend in with the crowd, using the mass of bodies to slip out of the bazaar undetected…

…and moments later, you bump into Tengu-mask. "Ah! Pardon me, sir," he says, and then turns away, scanning the crowd once more.

He pauses and turns back toward you. "Oh." He reaches out, but instead of an attack, he just holds up his leg. "Wait! …May I have the ring, please?"

>>718807
"Rawk! I won't be a bother, honest!"
Granny frowns as she listens in on your half of the conversation. "I don't like where this is headed."

 No.718809

>>718808
"I'm gonna need a better answer than that."
Cloud says flatly.

He looks up at Granny.
"Yea, neither do I."

 No.718810

>>718808
Alder bumps against Tengu-mask with a surprised chirp, a little surprised he's not recognized… at first, at least. The request catches him off-guard, and he cocks his head to the side. "Uhm… rather odd way to go about it. Why ask? The two of you were doing pretty good, tracking both of us like this."

 No.718811

>>718810
Tengu-mask ponders this for a moment, then shrugs. "I haven't tried it yet. A thief's got to know and master every tool in the box, I reckon. Besides, being given something and not giving it back is a sort of thievery. Kind of. So… is that a yes?"

 No.718812

>>718811
>corrected H/W
"Ehehehe… good try, but I do not have the ring on me. I can only hope the other spider caught my doppelganger."

 No.718813

>>718812
>>718811
"The two of you seem to be working together a little better- you two ought to try it more often. Having a friend to help out with stuff like this is something I wish I had back when I was a pickpocket."

 No.718814

>>718812
>>718813
Tengu-mask seems to deflate a little as you admit to not having the ring. "Oh… bugger all. Ah well! Had to give it a try."

He seems to brighten, though, as you compliment their teamwork. "Really? This is honestly the most time we've spent together in a while. We haven't been talking much as of late, nor have we even been training together, except when Master Schrodinger forced us to. It's been kind of lonely, until today. To tell the truth, even if she was berating me earlier, it's… nice being able to work with her again."

You hear a shout from the library as Shadow Alder gets launched through the window and lands on a nearby rooftop. Kitsune-mask leaps out after him with a battle-cry and lands upon him, dropping four elbows onto his chest upon impact. Shadow Alder squawks as the air is knocked out of him, flailing away to signal he needs help.

>Paused

 No.718984

Last time on PirateQuest…

Cerulean gathered up a small crew of her own, consisting of herself, Cloud, Chiu, Granny, Squatz, Cutlass and Thessaly, in order to go hunt a qurupeco that had been reportedly attacking trading caravans along the road in the forest north-northeast of Manenhi, the seaside trading town where the party had landed. They set off through the forest, following the trails and the details given in the job poster in their search for clues as to where the beast had made its nest. Their hunt brought them to a mountainside, at the base of which they found scattered pieces of a caravan, but there were two big issues with this discovery: the first was that there were only a few scraps of wood and cloth laying about, and the second was that there were no signs of blood or environmental damage about, suggesting this was not the site of a fight. They pushed onward into the mountain in order to find out more.

Alder continued to test Kitsune- and Tengu-mask, Schrodinger's apprentices, setting up in a library to force them into a tight space where they couldn't take advantage of their mobility to get the edge on him. Kitsune- and Tengu-mask didn't give up, but split up to target Shadow Alder and Alder and find the ring. The fight eventually made its way outdoors again, into the chaotic and bustling bazaar upon the docks.

 No.718985

>Alder
Tengu-mask seems to deflate a little as you admit to not having the ring. "Oh… bugger all. Ah well! Had to give it a try."

He seems to brighten, though, as you compliment their teamwork. "Really? This is honestly the most time we've spent together in a while. We haven't been talking much as of late, nor have we even been training together, except when Master Schrodinger forced us to. It's been kind of lonely, until today. To tell the truth, even if she was berating me earlier, it's… nice being able to work with her again."

You hear a shout from the library as Shadow Alder gets launched through the window and lands on a nearby rooftop. Kitsune-mask leaps out after him with a battle-cry and lands upon him, dropping four elbows onto his chest upon impact. Shadow Alder squawks as the air is knocked out of him, flailing away to signal he needs help.

>Cloud

Hmm kicks her talon bashfully. "…I can put myself to sleep whenever you cover the Eye with the eyepatch, if you're really worried about me. Rawk."

>Cloud, Cerulean, Thessaly

The vines are a bit tricky to get ahold of, and Thessaly only manages to get up around halfway before the strain starts to wear on her. Cerulean has an easier time ascending the vines, aided a little by Cloud's spell. However, she only grows a smidgen before Cloud's spell breaks off, his head ringing faintly once more. Granny clicks her tongue and taps his arm. "Don't go and do that if you don't need to, lad. Save yer energy."

Once Cerulean gets to the top of the little tree canopy, she sees that the mountainside is more organic-looking in comparison to the more artificial-looking countryside you traversed earlier, with thick trees and clumps of bushes and blooming mosses covering the rocks. As she scans the area, she notes that there's a partly-hidden rocky clearing that you wouldn't be able to see or reach from the path that the party's on right now. In that clearing, there's a few opened crates, that look to have been wrenched open forcefully. Several empty bottles lay scattered carelessly among the crates, and there are other bits of trash and debris tossed around as well.
>
The clearing has a cave mouth nearby, which seems to be the primary way to get there, but it's not easily accessible from here. You'd either have to climb over the rocks or keep on the current path.

 No.718986

>>718985
Alder is about to say something in response when he sees Shadow Alder fly out of the window and land on a nearby rooftop, flaring his wings out and lunging for the Spider atop him to shoulder-check it off. He's not the strongest, but the speed might make up for it!
>[1d10] Oh, shit! A spider!

Roll #1 7 = 7

 No.718987

>>718986
Much to the shock and surprise of the bazaar-goers around you, you leap into the sky, zooming toward Kitsune-mask and knocking her clean off of Shadow-Alder. She tumbles backward along the scalloped rooftop before getting her balance again. Shadow Alder rolls to his paws and rushes toward her, but your attention turns to a feeling of stickiness upon your leg. Tengu-mask has hooked a web upon your paw, and now flies toward you!

"Turning your back on a thief? Bad move!" he declares.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WDFUcjWARU

Tengu-mask tries to pin you down. [1d10+1]
Shadow Alder picks up a loose roof-tile and hucks it at Kitsune-mask. [1d10+1]
Kitsune-mask skitters across the roof, zooming toward Shadow-Alder. [1d10+1]

Roll #1 1 + 1 = 2 / Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #3 4 + 1 = 5

 No.718988

>>718987
Alder blinks a little as he feels his leg get tucked, and responds by flying a little past the altercation on the roof- lightly dragging the spider to bonk against the wall.
>[1d10] Not aiming to hurt him, just stun him a little!

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.718989

>>718988
You dodge Tengu-mask's grab, then yank him along the rooftop, kicking up several tiles. He breaks off the web-snare hooked to your paw, laying there for a moment as he gets his bearings. But he's back on his feet again, and leaps backward. At first you think he's going to escape, but he follows up by firing multiple web clumps at your paws and wings to gum them up!

Meanwhile, Shadow Alder nimbly ducks under Kitsune-mask's swings, and pelts her with roof tiles, which don't seem to hurt so much as annoy her. She growls but doesn't switch tactics, instead trying to grab for his belt again. Shadow Alder starts backing up toward the roof's edge, flinging roof tiles!

Tengu-mask shots web [1d10+2]
Shadow Alder's projectile attacks [1d10+1]
Kitsune-mask's impatient grabs [1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 2 = 9 / Roll #2 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #3 2 + 1 = 3

 No.718990

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>718985
Cloud looks at Hmm as she kicks her talon.
"…Guess that's the best I'll get. We'll talk about this later."

>>718985
>>718799
Cloud stands up a bit back to his hooves as the others continue on, though his hooves cling to the tree for aid, and then still leaning against it and not moving from it.
"So how's it look up there?!"
Cloud shouts up to Cerulean as she climbs up the path.

 No.718991

>>718985
Thessaly grumbles indistinctly as she fails to climb. She doesn't know what else she expected. She leaves the task to the more athletic among them, sulking a little at her failure. "What do you see?" she calls to Cerulean as she climbs the tree with relative ease.

 No.718992

>>718985
>>718990
>>718991

Cerulean gets a good look at every thing, more enjoying the view than piecing together clues at the moment. Cloud's shouting helped remind her of why they were here in the first place.
"There's a great view up here!" She replies back.
"Oh, and trash at this clearing a little ways away. C'mon up and look!" She looks down at the others, prepared to offer assistance to them to climb up.

 No.718993

>>718989
Alder tries to tuck his wings in to prevent them from getting gummed up, and lets out an aura-laced screech to throw the spiders off a little!
>[1d10] Protect Wings!
>[1d10+1] I can't remember the aura name, sorry

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9

 No.718994

>>718992
She looks a bit frustrated at Cerulean's unhelpfulness, but complies, attempting to clamber up again. She feels a bit foolish.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.718995

>>718994
She keeps trying to scrabble up like an incompetent squirrel.
[1d10]

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.718996

>>718992
>>718985
"More trash? Cool, so it's the right way."
Cloud goes to follow up the path and climb the rocks, those his legs are a bit shaky.
>Climb [1d10-1]

Roll #1 8 - 1 = 7

 No.718997

>>718990
You hear Hmm faintly snicker with mischievous intent.

>>718990
>>718991
>>718992
>>718995
>>718996
Chiu and Granny gather near the base of the vines, putting their hooves together to help give you a boost upward. Surprisingly, you find that you don't really need their help, as Thessaly taps into some past reincarnation as a treebound creature, while Cloud, with some difficulty, follows after her clumsily.

Cutlass starts to follow after you, but as she gets a grip on the vines, one of the mooks from the Hidden Dagger runs up, calling her name. Impatiently, she turns toward him, and the mook leans in, whispering something into her ear. Her expression turns to one of curiosity, and she starts to head back the way you came. "The rest of you go on ahead; there's something I need to address as Captain!"

From your vantage point, you note a couple details:

The obscured cave opening, riddled with crates of booze and half-eaten food, looks to be a direct path into the mountain, but it's quite dark within, and you cannot see much beyond the entrance. There's a good distance between where you are on the tree's branches and the clearing just outside the cave's mouth. With a little luck, you could probably swing over there upon the vines, or perhaps find another way of crossing the gap.

Although there's no direct path on the ground level to that partly-hidden opening, the path below you does curl around the mountainside. It's possible that there could be another way into this cavern elsewhere in the mountain, but you'd probably risk encountering some beast or even a trap along the way.

>>718993
You fail to tuck in your wings in time, and Tengu-mask's web blasts seal them up, gumming them on the inside and out, keeping them pinned to your sides. Your paws are gummed as well, but still flexible enough for some restrained movement. Still, you can shout, and do so, causing both Tengu-mask and Kitsune-mask to stagger from the volume.
>You cannot fly and have a -1 penalty to any action that would require moving your paws or hands to accomplish while you are bound by the webbing. You can attempt to remove them as an instant action.

>>718993
Shadow-Alder continues to pelt Kitsune-mask with lighthearted lobs of roof tiles, all while dancing around her swings, much to her frustrated groans. "Let… me… steal… that…!" she complains, her voice turning whiny. A faint silver aura begins to accumulate about her.

Tengu-mask tries to shove you off the roof now that he's tied you up. "Sorry!" [1d10+1]
Kitsune-mask ducks low and tries to grab for Shadow Alder's belt again. [1d10+1]
Shadow-Alder, seeing your plight, tries to grab you and take to the skies before Tengu-mask can get you. [1d10+1]

Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7 / Roll #2 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #3 3 + 1 = 4