Last time on PirateQuest…1075 posts and 2 image replies omitted. Click reply to view.
The party met up in the manor's dining hall, trying to make sense of all that had transpired so far. Thessaly, Cloud and Alder could only remember vague snippets of the events of the past few hours, but even then, their memories did not match up with Cerulean's and Cutlasses. Thessaly, Cloud and Alder remembered battles lost, battles ending in death against the Immolatioknight, but Cerulean and Cloud remembered only winning.
Without more clues to go on, their discussion could only go so far. So, following the maps and the instructions of the mysterious notes that Alder had found on his person, they went upstairs, passing through an unused children's room into the master bedroom. In the bedroom's walk-in closet was a door with a most unusual mechanical lock, requiring a special medallion depicting a bear cub and a deer fawn playing together. Thessaly and Cloud dimly recalled picking up such a medallion earlier, and indeed, it was in Thessaly's purse without any explanation as to why.
When they inserted the medallion, the door gave way, revealing a ladder to the attic. The attic was cramped, made worse by the plethora of boxes and barrels stored up there over the years, and choked with interminable dust. Upon heading a little south, they came across a sprawling play-city, made out of toys, scraps of cloth and junked machinery, overturned cabinets and tables and book, and no small shortage of imagination. The "city" was so immense that they could not proceed without either knocking it all over or shrinking themselves down with Cloud's magic, and so they chose the latter.
To their surprise, when they shrunk down, the toys came to life, milling about with city business as if they were all real. Taking a moment to visit the inhabitants, they came across two key objects. The first, which Cloud and Cerulean "bought" from an imaginary shop, was the tone arm of a record player. The second, which Cutlass obtained from a barkeep who thought it was a rag, was another of the notes written in invisible ink. The message was short but partly garbled, due to one of the verses being used for its encryption being marred by water damage. The most likely renderings were either "can't dodge," "shouldn't dodge," or "don't dodge."
With all that gathered, the party left the toy city down the western road, regrouping at a small crawl-space door just outside its borders. There, peering through the ajar door, Alder and Thessaly spied a massive bear, asleep in a small, cramped room. The bear towered over them, and would do so even if Cloud undid his shrinking spell, but it was asleep, giving the party the advantage. Cerulean tried to sneak in with the tone arm while Cloud attempted to shrink the bear, but his spell misfired, waking it up. Seeing Cerulean in its domain, the bear raised its claw, poised to strike her down.
Alder happily squeezes Splendid's talons, leaning up to give her a soft peck on the neck.
When the topic swings back to the grimoire, he lets out a teasing giggle and says "I thought it might be different with the apple on the cover, but I do not know magic well enough to be sure. I suppose its magic has to do with plants, which… could be pretty good! I suppose we will have to see when you use it, yes?"
[1d10]Roll #1 4 = 4
"It's been a while since I've extracted a confession," Bee Holder comments with a laugh. "Maybe we'll get to see why my detractors call me Old Salt."
You then open a door for Gullveig to come through and get to work. After a brief introduction, Gullveig dons a hood, and makes her way into the ship's hull, making first for the cabins.>>732214
Splendid sees this peck coming, and dodges it by leaning as far back as she can. Just when it seems like she doesn't want it, she counterattacks, diving in to peck you instead. It nearly knocks you off your feet, but it's not altogether enjoyable.
"Aw, SHITE!" Splendid caws.
Mallea sits up, startled. "Ai, yi yi. What ails you?"
"Plant magic is Cloud's thing! I'm stepping on his bit!" Splendid frets.
Mallea gives her a deadpan glare of exasperation. "…That's it. I'm making you carry my luggage to the ship."
"Heh gotta keep your business secure, eh?"
He says as the elder keeps it a secret. He follows along as the breezies lead the way to the grove.
"So you guys do a lot of trade with the city back there?"
Cerulean sees this, and seems to think it over slightly. In the end, she looks to the beetleband.
"Hey…uhh," she starts, looking slightly out-of-character with her nervousness, "you guys want…want a singer?" She smiles to them, not wanting them to be disappointed if their music sounded off.
The lead guitarist plays a sick riff that, if it could be understood as intelligible speech, would translate roughly to "Hell yeah," or perhaps "HELL YEAH!" The other beetles nod in affirmation and encouragement.>>732323
"Primarily with the Maize House," the Elder says. "Our Vines of Esthis produce a sap that's a potent catalyst for both chemistry and alchemy. A great number of compounds can be brought forth from it, and at a higher quality than with substitute ingredients. Naturally, we were able to negotiate quite the beneficial contract with their leaders."
The Breezies float onward with you for a little while through the artificial forest, leaving behind any semblance of well-worn dirt roads. Grasses grow high and uneven around your hooves as you leave behind the manufactured world.
Eventually they stop, but at nowhere in particular. Chiu looks around for houses, but there are none to be seen. Just as she's about to raise concerns, two of the elders float forward, needles raised. Together, they begin to pick at the air, and a rift starts to form between them, resembling a hole in a piece of fabric, that was once stitched shut, but is now being opened once more.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB23VRK6jFU
After the rift grows large enough, it spreads open on its own, revealing a kind of second world overlain onto this one. A number of small hollow homes have been carved into a great quantity of mushrooms that grow upon willowy, thick trees with great quantities of branches from their trunks to their tips. Larger holes have been bored through the trees, shaped so as to funnel and channel wind and in so doing, intensify it, almost like the equivalent of roads.
Chiu gawks with amazement as the Breezies float onward as if it were all just business as usual to them.
"That sounds like some powerful sap. Back home ponies jsut use the stuff for syrups or drinks."
When they stop in the middle of nowhere, Cloud looks up, expecting their homes to be high up after their experience with monsters on their way to Mallea's. When a rift is torn open to reveal their hideaway, Cloud looks on in awe as it unfolds to a vibrant nature home.
Is all he can say in response. He leads Chiu in behind the breezies, looking at all the little mshroom homes, tree tunnels, and just the entire more comfy natural feel.
"Is this all shrouded from the rest of the island, or what? This place is beautiful."
Cerulean smiles, feeling a little emboldened by the band's encouragement.
"Alright then. So…let's do a practice song first, okay?" He clears her throat a bit as she gets ready to sing.
You can only faintly see your reality underneath theirs; yours is ghostly and translucent, as if it were an illusion. You notice, in fact, that several tiny wood-plank bridges and mushroom-houses appear to pass right through the trees in your reality, as if they weren't there.
"Shrouded isn't the right word," the Head Elder says. "Think of us as those neighbors you never got around to greeting, or the people you pass by on the street without ever even noticing. There are many worlds out there, and not all of them have to be so far away like the planets and stars."
The warriors and other elders seal up the rift behind you. "Reminds me a lot of Granny. This place has got that same good feel as her," Chiu says.
The Head Elder leads you onward until you reach a particularly large tree near the center of the village, with a great quantity of creeping vines scaling its length. You see several small orange buds dotting its surface, but few are blooming, and some have wilted. A number of younger breezies are arguing and shouting over one another in their tongue, gesturing to the many wilted buds. The Head Elder gives a mighty holler, and the young'uns quickly fall in line.
The Head Elder then looks your way. "The forest floor's all yours.">>732330
The bassist leads the rest off in a song that you don't recall them having before, but one that you do recognize – it's quite popular these days. The repair-spider must have installed this into them as a freebie.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wbQY7Hz_Ns
Cerulean does a slight groove, avoiding a full dance to avoid causing the beetleband to end up falling off her. She's got a happy look as she sings the song the best she can, walking with a happy sort of swagger.
"Huh, so this is just right on top of ours then?"
He comments as they pass through.
"She did mention getting nostalgic when I offered her one of the cookies I got from helping find Malarky. Maybe she did live in a place like this."
When they reach the tree, Cloud eyes it up and down, noting the wilted buds.
"Quite a plant here. Don't think I've ever seen this many vines all in one place."
He comments as the Head Elder calls the young caretakers in line. He steps up to the plant, focusing a moment first on his aura. A red hue covers his hooves, and then spreads over to the vines, jump starting and revitalizing the wilted buds.>Master Farmer [1d10+1]Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6
You notice some of the nearby merchants and hawkers tap their feet and bob a little in place as they overhear your singing. Some of the more spirited customers sing in the snippets of the lyrics that they know (mostly the chorus) and gyrate as well. You get a few bits of scattered applause once you're done, mostly from your crewmates, whom you see milling about in the marketplace. You recognize a few from both ships, apparently going out to spend the money bestowed by the Captains.>>732334
"They're supposed to go all the way to the top, if you can believe it," the Head Elder notes. He gestures to the tree, whch looks to be near half a mile tall. These vines cover maybe a tenth of its length. You restore a small amount of the buds, causing a few to bloom, revealing beautiful sun-shaped flowers. Many more await assistance, and the Head Elder directs the younger breezies to take note of your prowess as they start to harvest sap.
"All the way up there?"
Cloud repeats, looking up to the top of the tree. He gives an impressed whistle, bringing his focus back down to the vines themselves.
"Alright, let's get them growing up there. When I'm done you won't even know there's a tree under there."
He boasts, his aura building again as he focuses on the vines as a whole this time, pumping them up to grow and entwine the tree they sit around.>Master Farmer [1d10+1]Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5
Cerulean looks pretty happy that everyone else is enjoying the music, though she doesn't feel right taking her crewmates' money and tosses them back to them without breaking her stride. As she finishes up her song, she sees Make Believe and waves to him.
"Hey! How have you been?" She asks, remembering that he talks with telepathy, so waits for him to do that before continuing on.
The vines begin to crawl up the tree at a very slow pace, roughly parallel to Malarkey's walking speed. He sits and watches nearby. As he does so, the lines on his shell begin to glow with a gold-orange huge, the color of sunlight. He turns sideways, and the lights seem to migrate, leaving one side of the shell dark, while the side that faces the tree grows brighter. The concentrated sunlight helps more of the withered buds bloom.
"Hmm, we're getting closer to where we should be for this time of year," the Head Elder says. "Just about one more good spell ought to do it."
"Maybe this is why those Misties and Gusties called you windborn?" Chiu asks.>>732342
Make Believe beams, waving back as he walks up. You see some light bandaging around his chest. You recall overhearing, during the crews' catch-up last night, that Make Believe had several of his ribs broken during an altercation between Cutlass and another pirate crew several days ago. However, it looks like he's almost healed. Ribs don't just heal that easy, even with magic, but he should be discharged soon. Hey, Cerulean. I've mostly been confined to my bed, even when we heard you guys were in trouble. Good thing I got Sparkler to go and get me some comics. You getting a good haul with your reward money?
"A little bit, yeah. Mostly just been walking around, but good to hear you're up and all. Heard you took a hard hit," she says, looking at his bandages with some concern, despite still having bandages herself still on her.
Cloud glances down at Malarkey as he shifts the sunlight to the tree.
"Hey, pretty neat trick he's got there."
"One More? Alright let's make this a good one."
Cloud says, rubbing his hooves together.
"What can I say, nature sprites must love me."
Cloud says, looking back to Chiu with a cocky grin with the compliments he's gotten on his shamanism. Aura starts to pool immensely around him, truly making this a big last effort to really impress. Once focused, it floods into the vines, ready to send the breezies far ahead of schedule.>Spending 4TBP>Master Farmer [1d10+5]Roll #1 5 + 5 = 10
>>732345Oh yeah, I really wanted to kill those guys afterward, but it'd be pretty bad for my Aura,
he comments casually. Using Aura in a fit of anger, or any surge of strong emotion, changes the effect of your power. Some abilities will result in totally different effects when you do that, ya know. I have a general idea of what mine does when I'm pissed, but it's hard to predict with total accuracy, since it can change depending on the circumstances. Plus, there's always a backlash afterward. It's like a hangover. Only you have a higher chance of dying.>>732347
Red light shines from the blooms as they open in a great multitude. Many more sprout from the tips of the vines as they crawl up the sides of the tree. If it was covering about a tenth of the tree's height before, it looks now like it's covering about a sixth.
The Head Elder raises his needle. "There, that should be enough. Go ahead and stop. There's only so much one can do to accelerate its growth before you start to poison what nature herself built. Not that I want to sound ungrateful; this is a serious boon for us."
"Woo-hoo!" Chiu cheers. A good many of the nearby young breezies float over to offer their thanks. Most don't speak Equish, but you get their gratitude in any case.
Cloud takes a deep breath, once he finishes his aura empowerment.
"Phew. Yea, think I'll need a little breather after that anyways."
He says, looking at his work.
"This aura really does get you a step ahead. Before with just my magic we still had to wait even if we set all the perfect conditions."
Cloud smiles as the breezies float over to thank him.
"Hey it was no problem guys. I'm always around to help out fellow farmers."
He looks back to the vine, getting just a little curious.
"So you really let this grow all the way up there? I can't imagine what that must take to take care of."
He asks, starting to give it a look now that he's worked his magic.>Special Talent: Spending time to study a plant, Cloud can determine what it needs to grow (How much light/water/time it needs, dirt quality, etc.,)
"Woah, I…never really thought about that. I can't say I like that sounds of that, what with how often I get so…frenzied. Ya know, trying to keep everyone safe, but then smelling blood in the air." She rubs the back of her head a bit.
"So…is it still possible for me to use aura to not hurt people? I mean, I know I fight a lot, and kinda good at it, but I don't always like fighting, ya know?"
"It takes all year and then some to grow to that height," the Head Elder says. "However, we will sometimes use rituals of our own to compensate in case of a natural disaster, or if Agyl Island swims into wintry conditions. You've put us ahead of schedule, but it's more of a buffer you've given us, so it's unlikely there will be any disruptions in balance and nutrient intake.">The Vine of Esthis requires a year to grow, and the mysterious soil and water of the unknown realm the Breezies of this island inhabit. Attempting to grow this in your realm will result it nothing but the seeds laying inert.>>732355Of course!
Make Believe says. If it can be dreamed, it can be done with Aura. Not even magic is that flexible or egalitarian. It can heal and hurt in equal measure, and it can be cultivated even if the user never raises a weapon in their lives. If you can narrow down what you want to do, maybe I can help you study it. I'm not qualified to be a master, however. I haven't even surpassed my old one.
Cloud takes a step back, admiring the effort that goes into growing this plant.
"That's quite the investment, glad I could help keep you guys ahead on the harvest."
He says, moving back to Chiu's side.
"Hey, since you got that buffer, think we could have a little sample of that sap?"
"Its okay. I don't even have a master for this aura stuff, so any help is great to me," she says with a grateful smile. She hums in a bit of thought.
"Well, if we're talking not hurting people…." She looks back to the beetleband on her, then thinks back to how a lot of people were singing and grooving along.
"…I'm a little embarrassed, but I do like to sing. My mom would sing when I was upset and it would help me calm down, but…ya know, I ain't a kid anymore. So feels weird to sing in public…but everyone seems to like it. I wouldn't mind kinda being like mom and singing to help people. Even if it is kinda…kiddy?"
"But of course," the Head Elder says. "Though, I would advise against flaunting it. We retain our freedom from House Maize, and so we can sell it to others as we please, but they are a clannish and territorial lot. If they catch wind of a new buyer in the market, they'll want to investigate."
"Oh, we're familiar," Chiu says.
The Head Elder hums with thought. "I thought I'd seen your names somewhere before. Azure-Eye, is it? The protection notice on your bounties expires soon. All the more reason to keep this under your hats."
Some of the younger breezies fetch a number of apple-sized glass jars, and start to harvest sap from the vine's blooms.>>732362I'd say that's more motherly than anything else,
Make Believe says. Besides, it's best not to listen to doubts and embarrassments like that. Before I was exiled, I learned this to be true about Aura: Developing an ability can be an embarrassing process. Abilities are born from passion and conviction. When you turn your gaze inward to understand that conviction, you learn so many things about yourself that you'll want to shy away from. But, like them or not, those things are just as much 'you' as the things you like. Believing in something, caring about something, wanting to do something… all of that can be an embarrassment in the face of those who are apathetic, or those who want to tear you down. But if you shy away from that, you'll never know greatness. Why do you think a teenager like me uses stickers for his power, ya know? It's cause I think they look cool!
"No worries there, just figured it'd be a good thing to have if it can work in all that stuff you mentioned. And also maybe give it a little taste."
Cloud comments. When the Head Elder mentions his title, he nods.
"Yea, that's what they're calling me. I'm a bit concerned on this whole deal, but as long as we stick with our crew we should be fine."
When the breezies start to gather up jars, Cloud takes out some from the set he bought at Gullveig's, handing over the ones matching the sizes the breezies are using so their sap won't spoil.
Cerulean stares and listens, having the look of deep thought as he says everything.
"Well yeah, the stickers are cool, and they do neat things too. Though stickers are different from singing in public." She fidgets in place slightly.
"I mean, its not that I don't like it, but I'm just not used to having everyone look at me in that way. All singing and motherly; I'm not even a mom, so how can I be motherly?"
He shrugs. Don't look at me, I'm a guy, and I didn't have one that I can remember. Just kinda act like your own mom and give it a shot. As for the stage fright, why not try to come up with something that eases the anxiety of being looked at? Or an ability that works better the more attention that's drawn to you? From there, you could try and influence people en masse, such as to get them to listen to you more, or obey your orders.
"Act like my mom…." She thinks back to her mother when she was around. All the hugs, all the singing, all the general warmth Cerulean has felt growing up. The same kind she tries to share with everyone around her now.
"Though I would like to not rely on Aura to get over this stage fright thing. Feels more like someone I'd feel better doing on my own in the mundane way, ya know? Though having more attention might be nice…maybe in a friendly way, though. I'm used to things being afraid cause of how I look, not so much this infamy stuff I've been noticing today."
Make Believe silently laughs, though his expression is good-natured, and not derisive. How long have you been in the Ribcage? Trust me, people see some pretty wild things out here. Besides, I don't think you look that scary, except when you're, like, specifically going for that. Infamy's more like a kind of respect than anything else. Like when people get out of the way of a really big, buff guy when he comes walking down the street.
When they see that you have your own jars, they switch out theirs for yours, and fill nine of the jars with the sap.
"Seriously?" Chiu asks. "I mean, is this okay? It's kind of a lot."
"Oh, trust me, this isn't anywhere near what the Vines can produce on a good day," the Head Elder responds. He looks back to you. "Strange that you would have the bounty restriction in the first place. The bounty was issued by the Crimson King's offices, but it was also restricted by him. He's the only one with that authority for his bounties. Some other offices which issue bounties may not even have the option to restrict them. You, however, seem to have been shown some direct attention from him."
"Not as long as you, it would seem. I kinda forget how long ago we got here now……maybe a week or two ago if I were to guess?" She gives a shrug with a head tilt. She nods along to what he says, seeing the similarities.
"Still, I wouldn't mind doing something more to calm people down and be friendlier. I don't mind people getting out of my way if I'm in a mood, but I certainly wouldn't mind them coming up to say 'hi' or something if I'm in a good mood." Her tail gently moves back and forth as she thinks and talks about making more friends than enemies/scared people.
Change that to four jars.
"Well, I dunno how I feel about the whole…command thing," she says with a hoof motion to show she wasn't liking that idea, "but being able to do those other things? Yeah, that sounds like something mom could do if she had these super powers with her singing."
"Wow, so this vine makes a lot then"
He comments at how the Elder says this amount is nothing.
"Wonder what recipes we can make with this."
"The Crimson King put on that hold himself?"
Cloud repeats, looking to Chiu with some worry that he's showing direct attention to the crew.
"We… did have a brush in. But I would've figure he'd do the opposite of giving us some safety."
>>732394Great! It'd be best to do some meditations while listening to music you really enjoy. I saw this dolphin in a rolling aquarium the other day giving some musical advice to his beetlebands, and it looked like his Aura was poppin' off in response to their music. I haven't seen him in a while, so I don't think he's available for input, but that general idea works.
The beetlebands on your back look annoyed at the mention of Kahuan, but are otherwise enthusiastic about helping you.>>732395
"I did overhear some of the crew talking a little about how this Kukulcan guy has some connection to the Crimson King," Chiu says. "Maybe we can get some information out of him if we're clever in how we go about questioning."
"Maybe if we find some good stuff in that expedition we can use it as leverage to get some info."
Cerulean also has an annoyed look as that name is brought up.
"Yeah, I think I know someone better, and a lot nicer, than him
," she says with an air of annoyance that very, very few earn from her. She looks back to Make Believe with a smile.
"Still, thank you. This was very nice to talk about. I'd hug you but…well…ya know," she says, moving a hoof in the air around where the bandages are on him.
"Yeah, he's pretty different from the King so far," Chiu says. "All this guy cares about is anthropological findings, from what I hear."
She looks back at the Head Elder. "Was there anything else you wanted done?"
The Head Elder shakes his head. "No, this should be enough for now, thank you. The young'uns still need to learn how to do things our good old fashioned way. You're welcome to visit as you like, and we can open the rift back to your realm once you're ready to go.">>732402Yeah, even with Aura's healing effects, I can't afford another big hit here. I wanna participate in the expedition too, even if Sparkler did get all those comics for me. I still have some things to buy, but if you have questions, just holler.
"He was pretty eccentric when he came on board the other day. I'll have to keep my eye open for anything good down there for something he can't resist then."
"If we ever swing by the island I'll definitely stop by."
Cloud says in thanks to the Elder.
"Can't beat the traditional by-the-hoof work," He says, pausing for a moment to think, "Hmm, do you think we have room for that Chiu?"
"A whole tree half a mile high? Yeah I think we can put that right next to the mast," Chiu says.
"Not this, normal plants and stuff."
"This is getting me in the mood to get back to my roots. Plus, having some fresh fruits and vegetables right at our hooves would be good for our kid."
"Oh! Well, Bee Holder told me that she's installing a little digging pit for Bran now that Thessaly's joining our crew. It wouldn't be out of the question to get something like that for us. Maybe a little greenhouse up on the deck?"
"Alright. Get well soon!" She waves goodbye to him and, feeling better, looks back to her beetleband.
"So…wanna do another song," she asks them as she decides to head back to the ship, wanting to do another song with them.
Another freebie; it seems like your beetlebands are full of classics now. You arrive back at the ship feeling the rock in your very bones as Captain Kukulcan's workers continue installing the magitech engine onto the stern.
"Yea that sounds good. Maybe get something to keep the salt from the sea away too. Now we'll just need to get some seeds somewhere."
Cerulean gets into the song more as, for an oldie, its got a fun energy to it. She finds herself singing easily as she takes some of the more secluded streets, but was in the zone with singing that she didn't notice all the workers around as she's moving and grooving her way onto the ship.
[View All] (1075 posts and 2 image replies omitted)
"We'd better hit her up while she's in the mood to spend money constructing Thessaly's accomodations. That's how you can always get someone to spend some more on you.">>732418
You notice a hooded Gullveig furtively exit the captain's quarters and make a beeline for the stairs leading down belowdeck. She doesn't respond to any attempt you might make to get her attention, and if you try to follow her to see where she's off to, you cannot seem to find her again. In any case, you, Roger and Tabasco are looking absolutely fresh, and the recent bout of singing has given your aura a wave of invigorating energy.
>Pause; any further shopping can be added to your sheet and assumed to have been done before the expedition