Last time on PirateQuest…643 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's frown returns when he sees how ragged the griffon looks, and gently grabs her claws. "The notes helped out a lot, Splendid. Thank you, really. Are you feeling… okay? Hurt, any?">>730474
Alder offers a bit of a wave to the others, and says "Hello. It is a great relief to see that none of what we saw was, ahm… real."
She's still not entirely sure if she can trust what she's seeing, but it becomes more and more evident that this isn't a trick. She breathes a quiet sigh of relief seeing everyone in one piece, at least physically. "They were," she nods to Splendid. "A bit vague, but we pieced it together well enough. …You all look like you've been through the wringer. Good to see everyone made it, at least.">>730474>>730472>>730471>>730470>>730469
After greeting the rest of the crew, she points up toward where she heard the sound just now. "We aren't alone. There's something up there. Auntzi, no doubt."
"They're not civilians if they're attacking you," Cutlass responds calmly. "They're enemies. The lives of your crewmates are more important than a bunch of idiots who won't listen."
Cutlass lets a little "eep" when she is telekinetically lifted.
"The people you are looking for are safe!" Cutlass shouts across the crowd. "Mallea was not responsible for their capture! A demon captured her along with the rest of them! But, they've escaped now. So, everyone please calm down. You're only making the situation worse with panic and aggression."
[1d10+1] Whisper in your EarRoll #1 9 + 1 = 10
"What do we do? Head upstairs, or bring it down here?"
Cloud asks, looking up to the ceiling, wondering if he can hear what Thessaly heard.>Perception [1d10+1]>EcholocationRoll #1 4 + 1 = 5
"Oh great! You're all okay! Well, as okay as we can be in this place.">>730477
"Oh? Well just means we'll have to beat her up again, then."
"Ah. Well, I figured it would not be over yet… I suppose we waste no time, and go?"
"Reckon we won't be close to 'okay' for a good long while," Splendid grimly cackles, blinking away tears.
"I don't even want to know how many times it took," Plague grumbles, leaning over the railing of the second floor balcony."You sure?"
many voices ask from above. "Because guess what? I know exactly how many times."
You look up, and see a mind-bending world above you. Overhead, the ceiling starts to transform. The ceiling's wood planks fold back and above them, instead of the night sky, you see another foyer, as if you were looking at it from a bird's eye view. That foyer's floor falls away, revealing another foyer below it, viewed from below – and the sequence repeats, almost like two mirrors looking at one another.
And in the opened foyers, lining the walls, crawling across floating furniture and wooden beams, you see dozens… or perhaps even a hundred.
Green and yellow scarab shells.
Each one of them, an Auntzi.
Each one of them looks down at you with a glowing grin of split mandibles.>>730478
"These people are far too weak to be worth the force," Colobok says. "Your line of thinking leads to abuse of power by the insincere. But we shall save this discussion for another time."
One of the Krikral shoves his way forward through the crowd, coming toward you. Just as Sparkler raises her hoof to stop him, he tosses up a claw. "Wait, wait! I can translate for you!"
You don't recognize him, but he looks a lot like the nameless mantis you met on the small island northeast of Kaco. He spins about, and starts to, as far as you can tell, repeat what you said, but in the language of the Krikral. Your words seem to reach at least a few of them. A few start to lower their weapons, but many others keep them close. A few bark retorts and replies to you.
The translator looks over his shoulder at you. "They want proof! They won't believe you unless they see it for themselves. They think you're under la brujita's
Alder lets out a nervous giggle, before reaching up to wipe away the tears and saying "A-Ah, right. Bad choice of words, I apologize. I just wanted to make sure you were not injured in, well… a way I could fix.">>730482
"I, uhm… hmm. Do each of these represent a failed attempt? I think I am at more of a loss now than before…"
She looks up, looking thoroughly disgruntled. "Are we supposed to be impressed or afraid? What are you trying to prove to us, little ghost?" She points out the door towards the Heatwave. "Either we destroy you or Obstinance does. There's no scenario where you escape unscathed. Your death will amount to the same as your life. A zero sum. So why don't you come down here and finish it?" she hisses.
Cloud looks up as the voice calls out, peering into the morphing ceiling as it melts away and reveals another foyer, filled with scarabs like a sea of bugs even worse than the kalphite den.
Cloud says, getting a bit worried.
"Ugh…just give it up, already. We played your dumb games, now how about letting us go? Your house is nice and all, but I'd like to get ready for my cooler deep sea dive soon."
The countless Auntzis hiss and buzz with barely-concealed displeasure and contempt, masked poorly behind sneering overconfidence. "Hide behind your scathing words all you want. If I fall to Obstinance, it will be as you die with me, burned to death in his all-consuming immolation! You have come close to me, been subject to my Magatsuhi, and cavorted with Seravelum and Regalaseab to fight me. You are spattered in demonic influence, and so to him, you are just the same as me: A blight to be burned away, along with half of this town, just to be on the safe side. Look at my power! I far outstrip any of you. You will not survive his torch without me! I'm offering you one final chanc–"
Suddenly, you hear a knock at the entrance hall door. A very high, warbling voices comes through, just barely male, and always on the verge of cracking.
"Uhh… I have a delivery for one Mallea de Valle… I need a signature on this… please…"
>roll perception if you go to the door
Despite all you've been through, the Auntzis and your allies look flabbergasted at this strange interruption.
Welcoming this sudden distraction, Cerulean shrugs and decides to play along.
"Alright, but just a warning: I don't write good," she says and goes to the door to open it.
>I think the music effect still works?
[1d10+1]Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10
Cutlass thinks it over for a moment.
"I can go get them right now. They're right inside. But, the true captors are still at large. So, things are still a little dangerous. Which means I still need you all to please stay calm."
Cutlass motions for Droplet to let her down. She then calls Droplet, Sparkler, and LMS in for a group huddle. "Here's the thing," she says quietly enough that no one else can hear her. "If Obstinence IS involve in their behavior, then they're going to continue to be like this until they come out here. Without proof, they'll just keep being obstinate."
"Why didn't they just come out here…?" she grumbles. "I'll go get them. Watch the crowd. Be careful."
"All I am surrounded by is fear and ghosts. Rain down on me, Auntzi. I dare you." She surreptitiously touches the Karmic Seed to see if it is reacting, before turning to the door, as confused as the rest of them as to who this might be.
[1d10] PerceptionRoll #1 9 = 9
"If you're as powerful as you say, you would've done something by now!"
Cloud says, calling out her bluff. That is, until there's a knock at the door, something Cloud cannot believe he is hearing, given what they hard over the conch.
"That… That can't be right, the townsfolk are mobbing outside the manor."
Cloud steps towards the door cautiously to see who it is, but let's the others go first as they step forward to open it.>Perception [1d10+1]Roll #1 6 + 1 = 7
Perception [1d10] (+1 if Master Thief applies)
Alder starts for the door after Cerulean, and looks around with a bit of a frown. "I suppose I could do the signature."Roll #1 1 = 1
As you approach the door and reach for the handle, your body seizes up with a sudden, instinctual sense of overflowing danger. Though it is faint, and muffled, your ears can pick up on a quiet tune – one played on flutes, a stringed instrument, chimes and a drum.
Cerulean recognizes it immediately.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTgIbYfMzKI
"Th-that's okay… I just need a signature on it…" the warbling voice on the other side says, only cracking twice this time.
>Are you sure you want to do this…?>>730489
The familiar mantis translates your words to the crowd. Though many of them still seem apprehensive, your promise of proof seems to assuage them for now.
Droplet, Sparkler and LMS nod and turn back to the crowd, leaving you as you walk back up to the manor. As you reach the front door, you notice that it is just barely ajar. Peeking inside, you see a partially-translucent Obstinance at the far end of the entrance hall, speaking to the doorway in the voice of an awkward teenager. He sways slightly, and has a half-empty bottle clutched in one fist. Small colorful wisps, shaped like ghostly paper dolls, flow in and out of the wind chimes all over his poncho, playing a soft song. Some of the wisps cling to his gauntlets and to his boots. The places where the wisps cling to his body are those which are most translucent.
I wrote those for one character and hastily adapted it for the plural sense, can you tell?
"How is it out there? It seems awfully quiet…"
Cloud asks the voice, worried this might be another trick of Auntzi's.
"Oh! Hey, its Obstinance," she says excitedly to everyone in the room.
Alder reaches out, before pulling his hand back and cocking his head to the side. "It is? Hmm?"
She freezes in place, her proverbial hackles up, starting to put two and two together. Who else would be knocking, after all. "It's him," she calls out in warning. "Cerulean, get away from the door. Mallea, any idea what we should do? He'll almost certainly try to force his way in. Auntzi… I hope you're happy." She grabs the Liber Animarum, flipping through the pages in agitation, trying to see if she can find something that will help them out of this mess.
[1d10] Insight?Roll #1 7 = 7
The music stops as Cerulean points out the obvious.
"…Really?" Obstinance asks.
"Wait…was I not supposed to say that out loud?" She smacks herself in the face.
"Ahh darnit! I'm sorry! Hey, can we have a do-over? Just forget what I said, alright?">>730498
"You sure? I mean, he was the one who gave me this Yana doohickey thing."
"What in the world is this?" Cutlass asks Obstinence with an amused expression on her face.>>730495>>730496>>730497>>730498
"Guys!" Cutlass calls from the other side of the door. "Just don't open the door. I'm guessing he needs to be let in. That or he just really enjoys irony."
Then, Cutlass pauses. "I also realize that that could also sound like a trick. But, at this point, that'd be some really ridiculous double-reverse-psychology nonsense. Would… Could you describe that as obstinate?"
"Just… don't open the door."
"Ah- uhm, okay. I will leave the door shut, then."
"If he comes in, he will raze the manor to cinders. Then he'll come after us for consorting with demons. Do. Not. Open. It." >>730501
"Ah. There you are. Rest assured, we have no intent to open this door."
Not many demons are available to you at the moment. Of the demons listed in the first two chapters of the Animarum,
Fezoar seems most suited to combat.
But… there's something interesting at the end of the second chapter. In keeping with the theme of how the second chapter is only unlocked after a properly botched summoning, you see a note about the unlocking of the third chapter. Unlocking that third chapter requires three uses of the "Heretic's Jewel" – an unpredictable sigil that may summon an unknown demon from a later chapter. Perhaps…>>730500>>730501>>730495>>730496>>730497
Thessaly, Alder, Cerulean and Pyrite can hear footsteps receding from the door. Cutlass sees him turning about, taking one last swig of his alcohol.
"Pardon me, miss," he says to Cutlass, as he walks all the way back to the very front door, where he spins about. "But some people just don't understand the importance of putting on a good entrance."
"This is the worst day ever," the Auntzis sigh. They raise their hands, and the door is suddenly cloaked with a massive layer of thick black mold, sealing it from floor to ceiling. "There. That should hold, just in case he–"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdKGo1XRYE
With a step so quick that it creates a shockwave, Obstinance takes off, leaping for the door to the entrance hall in a single bound, his knee raised to bash it down.
>PausedRoll #1 8 + 4 = 12
"That's Obstinance? How is he here at hte door?"
He looks up at the Auntzi scarabs, then to the door again.
"Is the time loop or whatever done then?">>730501
When Cutlass shouts through the door, Cloud is left further confused.
"Cutlass? How did you
get out there?"
Cerulean nods, then looks back to the door.
"Sorry, but we got this one handled. We're just waiting on this demon ghost thing to stop hiding like a clownfish in the anemone. Mind giving us…I dunno how much time, but some more time to chew her up? I've been craving something crunchy lately, and all this place has is soft, chewy stuff." She then backs away from the door and looks back up to the Auntzis.
"Okay, now I don't have the stomach to chew on each of you, so whoever is the real Auntzi get down here."
"No," Obstinance grunts to Cerulean and Cloud. "You ruined it."
Once he finishes backing up to the front, Cutlass can see him wave his claw. The sprites that are flowing in and out of his wind chimes stop for a moment. "Put on something exciting," he instructs them.
The sprites start to flow again, this time playing something far more suited for battle.
>as in they are literally playing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdKGo1XRYE
Last time, on PirateQuest…
The party narrowly escaped the flood of black tar that Auntzi summoned to destroy the basement. Visions of their past selves, leftover remnants of Auntzi's imperfect time rewinds, flew past them, recording an unknown number of past failures. But this, just maybe, could be the one in which they succeed.
Their exit was another one of Mallea and Palafox's secret passageways, this one connecting the basement to the greenhouse in the backyard. Upon their escape, they found that the entire town of Gecko was surrounded by a Heatwave, much like what the Queens had used in their attempts to exterminate the villages of Kaco Island. The culprit for putting this up was none other than Obstinance, who had told them three days ago that he would set up a "barrier" around the town. Perhaps this suggested that either he, or the Virtues in general, had a hand in the attempted genocide on Kaco, but there was no time for speculation.
Cerulean, Thessaly, Alder, Cloud and Mallea made a beeline for the manor once more so they could stop Auntzi before Obstinance got involved further. Cutlass, meanwhile, went around to the front in order to help the crews of the Beesting and the Hidden Dagger quell the rioting mob of townsfolk outside before things turned violent. Ironically, the mob was there because they wanted to help the party. As far as the townsfolk knew, the very people who saved their ostrich ranches had vanished without a trace after entering Mallea's manor, and so they thought that Mallea had tricked them in order to lure them into a trap. This was far from the truth, but they would need to see concrete evidence before they relented.
Inside the manor's foyer, the party found Splendid, and the rest of their missing allies gathered with them in short order from the various other rooms that they had been in at sundown, three days prior, when Auntzi's time loop began. After countless failures, and an unknown number of deaths and conflicting timelines of events, all were thoroughly exhausted. This, Auntzi counted on. She and hundreds of past iterations of herself appeared above them in a kaleidoscope of past timelines, preparing to unleash a final attack…
But just as she appeared, there came a knock at the door. A voice claiming to be a delivery pony asked to be let in so he could get a signature on a delivery. Such an absurd claim, as they quickly deduced, could only come from the drunkard Obstinance, who had used his magical wisps to slip past Cutlass and enter the manor through the front door.
He was surprised and disappointed that his obvious ploy was found out, and so switched to his backup plan:
Complete annihilation of the manor.
Not many demons are available to you at the moment. Of the demons listed in the first two chapters of the Animarum, Fezoar seems most suited to combat.
But… there's something interesting at the end of the second chapter. In keeping with the theme of how the second chapter is only unlocked after a properly botched summoning, you see a note about the unlocking of the third chapter. Unlocking that third chapter requires three uses of the "Heretic's Jewel" – an unpredictable sigil that may summon an unknown demon from a later chapter. Perhaps…
"No," Obstinance grunts to Cerulean and Cloud. "You ruined it."
Thessaly, Alder, Cerulean and Cloud can hear footsteps receding from the entrance hall's door. Cutlass sees Obstinance stepping back all the way to the very front door. "Pardon me, miss," he says as he passes by. "But some people just don't understand the importance of putting on a good entrance."
He stops and waves a claw at the wisps flowing in and out of the chimes on his poncho. They stop flowing, ending his background music.
"Put on something exciting," he instructs them as he starts to stretch with a few lunges. "Something much more suited for battle, you know?"
The sprites start to flow again, this time producing the slow buildup to the menacing theme of a monster.
"This is the worst day ever," the Auntzis sigh. They raise their hands, and the door is suddenly cloaked with a massive layer of thick black mold, sealing it from floor to ceiling. "There. That should hold, just in case he–"https://youtu.be/MUdKGo1XRYE?t=39
With a step so quick that it creates a shockwave, Obstinance takes off, leaping for the door to the entrance hall in a single bound, his knee raised to bash it down.
She rolls her eyes at Obstinance's theatrics, preparing herself for a fight. "Another talker. You and Auntzi were made for each other," she remarks before turning back to the Animarum, deciding to press on, reading how to use the Heretic's Jewel.
[1d10] if neededRoll #1 8 = 8
Cloud steps back from the door as Obstinance confirms his identity, and a few more once the door is covered with mold.
"Great, now we have to deal with the demon and this guy too?"
"Maybe we just let them wear each other out? I have had quite enough today."
She nods. "Now there are two
stubborn wretches here to make us miserable. Grand, don't you think.">>730840
"As have we all. But that nearsighted barbarian will burn this house to the ground if we don't intervene. I, for one, don't intend on giving someone like him one inch of victory."
"A-Ah, right. Who first, then? Obstinance?"
"Can we do that? I feel like both are going to attack everything that isn't themselves.">>730841
"And we still have that mob outside to calm down too."
She thinks, then nods. "He does not seem as strong as Auntzi. He is only one man, and a drunkard at that. I don't see him being much of a threat.">>730843
"It seems our glorious captain is seeing to that. Doubtless making a dog's breakfast of it," she adds snidely. "…If I may ask. Why do you serve her? She has done little to convince me to follow her since we met. Especially with how you two bicker and bite. If I were you, I would have turned tail and joined Bee Holder's crew a long time ago."
"Man…this is starting to feel like the circus all over again with all this stuff coming together," Cerulean remarks and gets her tail ready for a fight with…whoever at this point.
"Me? Serve her?"
loud questions in astonishment before laughing.
"She's not my captain, I'm with the Bee Holders. The only reason I'd do anything she'd say is part of that debt I owe now since she covered my surgery."
"We should be careful all the same, though- even if he is just a drunkard, he may have something up his sleeve, yes?"
"Ah. Then you are wiser than many," she remarks. "Once this is all over, I fully intend on correcting my errors and abandoning her for Bee Holder.">>730847
"Doubtless he does," she replies. "These Virtues are nothing to take lightly. Even so, there are thirteen of us, plus Auntzi, and only one of him. This will be over quickly."
"Well, you say that, but he's got these paper things with him that can play music. I think they could do more…."
"Heh, she isn't gonna be happy with that."
Cloud says with a chuckle.
"Let me be the first to give early welcome to the better crew of the two."
He says, offering out his hoof for a shake.
"Oh no, whatever shall I do," she says dryly with a thin lipped smile, returning the hoofshake. >>730849
She tilts her head slightly. "Curious. Paper and fire don't normally go hand in hand, but he seems to juggle both. I suppose we'll see how this pans out."
"What sorts of things do you think they do? Do you happen to know any in particular?">>730851
"Well, welcome to the crew then, Miss Thessaly. It will be nice to have such a talented mage with us." the griffon says, offering a bow.
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"Nope, not really. Other than he also wears tough, hug-resistant armor; I don't really know anything else about him."