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File: 1575218806228.png (355.31 KB, 800x450, pjdEsx2.png)

 No.728518[Last 50 Posts]

Last time on PirateQuest…

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.

 No.728519

>Thessaly
By the look in its eye, it seems like it doesn't want to do anything. No, that's not quite it. It doesn't want even to move, to eat, to drink, to do anything that would cause movement in the world. It's not sloth, but something more… something lies underneath it. A feeling that it shouldn't do anything. That, just by being there, it is making things worse. That it is guilty even for being alive.

>Everyone

As Cerulean darts in at toy size to try and make it to the phonograph, Cloud's spell misfires. He hits a rod of steel that was holding up some precariously-stacked toolboxes, which fall to the ground with a crash and bang, showering the dust bear with shards of small tools. It snarls and roars, gradually climbing to its feet after its rest is interrupted. Its eyes open and they are a dull and dead gray. Yet, upon seeing Cerulean charging into its lair, it clambers up, sweeping a massive paw at her with a fierce growl.

[1d10+4: 6+4 = 10] Blast vs Intruders (Autocrit)

>Cub, the Sin of _______

 No.728520

>>728519

Cutlass's eyes widen as the attack flies in her direction. She quickly tries to dive out of the way. [1d10] for dodge

Also, if you'll allow it, she afterwards looks toward the dust bear with glowing eyes.

>Soul Sight


Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728521

>>728519
She frowns and takes a step backwards as she senses the rabbit's unbearable inertia. She turns to the bear, pulling out the Karmic Seed, expecting it to react.

As the bear attacks, her eyes widen, but, remembering the fragmented message, stands her ground. She instead opts to conjure forth a burst of black strands to hinder it.
[1d10+1] Shackles

She commands the rabbit to deliver a powerful leaping kick to the bear's head.
[1d10]

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

 No.728522

>>728519
Alder winces a little as the spell misfires and wakes the bear up from its slumber and goads it into action, and tries to throw a (plastic) vial at Cerulean for a pick me up- she'll definitely need it if that dust-bear hits her! He also lets out a loud screech to try and get her attention, lacing it with a bit of Aura.
>Natural Remedy [1d10+1]
>Rallying Shot [1d10+1] (Instant)

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

 No.728523

>>728522
[1d3] Mistie Flower

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.728524

>>728519
Seeing the bear stir awake, Cerulean decides that now its time o fight instead of flight.
"Becareful," she urges the fox as hurriedly sets him down and takes the bear head on with her tail, looking to flood the place with her aura for some better terrain.

>Slam, Tide Pool, usual buffs to it

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

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9 / Roll #2 7 + 1 = 8

 No.728525

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>728519
Cloud winces as his magic goes off course, the collapsing toolboxes sounding much louder than he expected as it wakes the bear.
"Sorry guys."
Cloud says quickly, as the bear raises a paw at swipe down at Cerulean. He quickly draws out his wind wand, flicking it to send a gust of winds at the bear to blow the dust away.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gust] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3

 No.728526

>>728521
The Karmic Seed shows no reaction so far. You feel like you might know something about this, but like the glimmers of insight you had earlier, it is hidden away in a thick mental fog.

>Roll memory (free action)


>>728520
Despair.

A wave of cold washes over you, immediately soaking you down to your stomach. But it's not the cold of fear or dread, but rather a numbing cold. You nearly stumble as you try to dodge, slumping against the door as all motivation to move seeps out of your body. The idea of moving again, even if you were to be attacked, is unthinkable to you. It's like… if you were killed, that it would be for the best. That it would be what you deserved. The sounds around you fade, and colors and depth slowly dissolve into a meaningless blur.

You feel like dust. Something to be swept away.


>>728522
>>728523
>>728520
>>728521
>>728524
>>728525
>Rallying Shot succeeds

Alder's intense cry signals the start of the battle as Cerulean and the great bear clash head on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pI8NcvYInE

But… something's off.

As the bear's paw comes crashing down upon Cerulean, the dust that constitutes its body simply parts around her. Even at her small size, the bits of debris contained in the bear's body only score small nicks and cuts, nothing deep enough to bleed. A wave of force follows the attack, echoing outward toward the door.

>Cerulean takes 1 Hit

>Alder takes 1 Hit
>Fox takes 1 Hit
>Dust-Bunny takes 1 Hit
>Cloud takes 1 Hit
>Thessaly takes 1 Hit

Thessaly's strands are unable to get ahold of the bear, as they simply fall through its body without being able to grab onto anything tangible. Her Dust-Bunny tries to attack it, but can't jump up high enough and ends up crashing down to the ground.

Cerulean's water floods the room, washing away some of the dust, but the bear slowly regenerates even as its body is cleaned away. It raises its other paw, trying to sweep at Cerulean and the Fox.

>Cleave vs 2


[1d10+4]

>Roll perception, instant


Roll #1 2 + 4 = 6

 No.728527

>>728526
She's confused. If this is a Sin, the Seed should be reacting, like Galutisons said… Something tugs at back of her mind, and she wracks her brains trying to remember.
[1d10]

Her thoughts are interrupted by the wave of dust that rushes over her, doing minimal damage. As both her and her minion's blows do nothing to it, she backs up and reassesses the situation, observing the bear and the surrounding environment for a clue.
[1d10] Perception

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

 No.728528

>>728526
Cloud stumbles back from the force of the bear's swipe, shaken by the magnitude being from what is a glorified dust bunny. As some of the dust washes away, but slowly starts to pull it back, Cloud gives another flic of his wand.
"If we get rid of all the dust, this thing will disappear, right?"
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gust] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3

 No.728529

>>728526
>>728528
>Perception [1d10-1]

Roll #1 5 - 1 = 4

 No.728530

>>728526
"Get back!" She yells to the fox. Cerulean sees the paw and tries to bite at the bear/dust.

>Great weapon attack

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.728531

>>728530
>perception
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.728532

>>728527
You recall nothing relevant at this time, your mind instead lost in the fog.
>You can try again with your normal action if desired

However, as you look at the water flowing forth from Cerulean's aura, you notice something alarming. The bear is laying on its stomach, as it is so large that it can swipe at Cerulean without getting up. As the water flows underneath the bear's body, it starts to turn blood red.

 No.728533

>>728526
"Hmm… that, ah, was not as painful as it looked like it was going to be. Not that that would be a bad thing, of course." the griffon says, coughing a bit and wiping his face to clear the dust.

>>728527
"You do not think we might have missed some sort of vital tool back in town, do you? I have noticed each beast has some sort of weakness, and I worry we may have missed it." the griffon suggests, before frowning a little. "Unless… maybe we 'do not dodge' what it does? Is that the trick?"

 No.728534

>>728526
>>728533
>>728531
>>728529
>>728527

"Huh… the paper told us not to dodge. The dust doesn't seem to be hurting that much. And, he's dispersing himself in the process."

"He's Despair. Does that count as a sin? Either way, killing himself with his own attacks definitely seems like something he'd do."

For now, Cutlass watches from the doorway.

[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728535

>>728523
>>728528
>>728529
>>728531
>>728532
She points out the bloodied water at the bear's underside. "A weakness, perhaps. Though it seems the Captain has the way of it. Its attacks may be its undoing."

She commands her rabbit to attack at its underside with a lunging bite, while she takes a moment to think. She's sure she remembers something…
[1d10] Insight
[1d10] Attack

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

 No.728536

>>728534
"I… hmm. I suppose that does make sense, yes. So long as it does not seriously harm us, then I think… we should be fine. As for if iti s a sin or not, I am not sure- Ribcage culture is strange."

 No.728537

>>728535
You recall a glimpse of a battle with the Immolatioknight – a different fight than the one you remembered earlier. You recall holding up the Karmic Seed before the knight as cracks appeared along her body. You threw the seed, and the Immolatioknight dissolved, her pieces being drawn into the Seed. It seems that this is only possible when the Oddity or Demon you're facing is near defeat. Perhaps if you can whittle down this beast's health enough, the same can be done here.

>>728528
>>728529
>>728530
>>728531
>>728534
>>728533
The bear's sweep passes over Cerulean and the Fox, but this time, it does nothing at all to either of them. The Fox stops, whining with confusion. Cerulean bites into the bear's paw, dissolving it into empty dust. Though dust fills her eyes and nose, she can pick up the scent of blood on the air. She spies the blood pooling underneath the bear's body, centered around its stomach.

Thessaly's Dust-Bunny ignores her order, instead stomping its hind paws on the ground with apparent frustration.

But despite the blood and despite losing one of its paws, the Cub shows no signs of stopping its attack. It rears back, propping itself up on its remaining paw, then lunges forward, trying to chomp down upon Cerulean.

>Roll Dodge, DC 10, Instant


>Roll Perception, Instant

 No.728538

>>728537
She gets an idea of her own, reaching out to the bear with telekinesis, trying to physically remove parts of its body to disperse it more.
[1d10]
[1d10] Perception

She gives the rabbit a dirty look and commands it to attack the belly again.
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2 / Roll #2 8 = 8 / Roll #3 8 = 8

 No.728539

>>728537
Cerulean's senses start to go nuts at the smell of blood enters her mind.
"Blood?! How?! No…blood!" She tries to bite down on the bear again, aiming for where she smells the blood.

>attack

[1d10+1]
>Dodge
[1d10]
>passing on perception cause blood

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #2 7 = 7

 No.728540

>>728537

Cutlass continues to watch the fight, trying to figure out how this could be construed as a threat.

[1d10] perception

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.728541

>>728537
Perception [1d10]
Alder winces a little as he sees the bear rear up for another strike, and decides he might as well test their theory.. he'll step inside, and make no effort to duck.

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.728542

>>728535
>>728534
"Despair? So, what, do we just make him angry to attack more?"
Cloud questions as Cutlass and Thessaly point out aspects of the creature.

>>728537
Cloud looks up at the bear as Cerulean bites away it's paw. He isn't sure about leeching away at a dust creature, but it shouldn't pull any actual dust away to him. He gives another flick of his wand for good measure, then attempts to draw away some of the bear's energy to refresh the soreness it's last swipe left.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gust] [1d10-1]
>Leech [1d10]

Roll #1 10 - 1 = 9 / Roll #2 6 = 6

 No.728543

>>728542

"Or maybe we just let it do what it wants and it'll eventually just die off…"

 No.728544

>>728541
>>728538
Prior to the Cub's attack connecting with Alder, you both notice that behind the Cub, there is a phonograph that is missing its tone arm, and there is a film projector next to it. The projector lacks a reel, and the phonograph's turntable lacks a record. However, Thessaly notes that beside the projector is an empty record sleeve, suggesting one may be nearby.

>>728542
>>728541
>>728540
>>728539
>>728538
The Dust-Bunny obeys Thessaly this time, charging in to clear away the dust covering the bear's stomach. Between the Dust-Bunny's kicks, Thessaly and Cloud's magic, and Cerulean's swipes, more and more of the dust starts to vanish. As more and more of the Cub's body dissipates under your attacks, you start to see a vague silhouette inside its stomach. It is almost impossible to make out clearly, owing to the lack of light in the room, but Cutlass, Cloud and Thessaly can see a pony-shaped shadow within. The only way you can tell is the unicorn horn sticking out of the shadow's head.

As Alder and Cerulean are engulfed under the Cub's attack, its maw seems to swallow them both up. But once they are both inside, they are able to see much more clearly. Inside the bear's stomach, they see Mallea de Valle, curled up within. Facing away from you. Her back and sides are scourged with fresh, deep gouges, in the shape of bear's claws. She isn't moving, but she is bleeding badly.

The Cub retracts from its attack, releasing Cerulean, the Fox and Alder from its mouth. The paw that Cerulean chopped off is still slowly regenerating, so it tries to attack Alder with its other paw this time.

>Shatter

[1d10+4]

Roll #1 7 + 4 = 11

 No.728545

>>728542
"It seems so. This is a battle of attrition, not might."

>>728539
As she sees Cerulean try to avoid the attack, she calls out the message she believes was intended: "Don't dodge."

 No.728546

>>728544
She does a double take at the sight of the shadow), moving closer to try to get a better look, while still dispersing the bear as best she can.
[1d10] Perception
[1d10] Telekinesis

The Dust-Bunny keeps kicking away, with the occasional headbutt.
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 8 = 8 / Roll #3 2 = 2

 No.728547

>>728544

Cutlass sees the shadow of the pony inside the bear. She tries to pull it out from a distance with telekinesis. [1d10]

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.728548

>>728544
Cloud pauses after his triumph of blowing away a good portion of the dust, seeing the unicorn inside the bear's stomach.
"Did the bear eat some of the toys?"
He wonders in confusion. He walks towards the bear, partially wondering if they should save the toy, As he does, he swings his wand again, blowing away the dust around the bear's stomach to keep the silhouette visible.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gust] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 9 - 1 = 8

 No.728549

>>728544
Alder lets out a panicked squawk as they spot Mallea, of all things, inside the bear. He tries to reach over to her and pull her free, but is pushed from the dust bear's body before he can get a chance to. Letting out an aggravated huff, the griffon tries to plunge back into the bear's body to tend to her injuries with his knife!
>Charge inside [1d10] Instant
>Heal [1d10]

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

 No.728550

>>728544
Cerulean sees the sight, recognizing her even in her crazed state.
"Her! Mallea!" Cerulean then does the only reasonable thing her blood-crazed brain can think of: charge at its mouth to get to Mallea.

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6

 No.728551

>>728546
The Cub's body is immense, making it difficult to see clearly, but you are more than certain that the body within is that of a unicorn. Without a doubt, the blood that is soaking into the floor belongs to whoever it is that's trapped within. You clear away more of the dust, slowly out-pacing the Cub's regenerative powers, but you realize that, since you are still shrunken by Cloud's magic, it is likely that the Cub's power may overtake you. This is underscored when you see the Dust-Bunny's attacks. Though it tries to headbutt the Cub, the Cub's regeneration quickly restores any damage the Bunny does. At a larger size, the tide may turn in your favor.

>>728547
The presence of the Cub's body makes it far more difficult to grab onto the body inside. Each time it feels like you grab onto the unicorn, you only pull away small clumps of dust, which the Cub easily regenerates. Perhaps if you managed to get inside the Cub somehow, it would be easier.

>>728548
>>728547
>>728546
>>728549
>>728550
Cloud's gust and Thessaly's magic open a small gap in the Cub's stomach, revealing, for a brief instant, Mallea laying inside, badly injured but laying inert. The Cub strikes its claw down upon Alder as he rushes forward, giving him only the mildest of cuts. But as the attack connects, you see new, horrific wounds open up across her back, making those borne by Alder look like nothing in comparison.

>Alder loses 1 Hit


Alder, the Fox and Cerulean successfully get into the Cub's stomach, and behind them, the wall of dust closes once more. Alder's knife does nothing to combat Mallea's wounds. At this rate, it is likely that she may bleed out. At your current sizes, it would be difficult to pull her out. Cloud can release his shrinking spell on one person at a time as an instant auto action.

Whining and barking, the Fox tries to paw at the dust to open it up again.

[1d10+1]

With Alder, the Fox and Cerulean no longer before it, the Cub growls. It lumbers forward, seeing the Dust-Bunny and Thessaly, and opens its jaws, preparing to bite down upon them.

>Roll Dodge (DC 10; Optional)


Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3

 No.728552

>>728548
>>728551
She gasps a little as she sees Mallea's mangled form inside the bear. "Resize me," she calls to Cloud.

Assuming he does so, she proceeds to try and drag Mallea out through more conjured tendrils.
[1d10+1] Shackles

The Dust Bunny keeps up the offensive.
[1d10]

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

 No.728553

>>728551

"The damage it should be doing is getting done to whoever is in her stomach!" Cutlass shouts. "Dodge the claws!"

However, when the bear opens its jaw to chomp again, Cutlass runs into the room and jumps right into the bear's jaws.

[1d10] to enter bear mouth

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728554

>>728551
"P-Please, avoid getting hurt!" the griffon tries to call out. "Getting clawed by the bear is hurting Miss Mallea!"

Now 'safely' inside, the griffon tries to patch up Mallea with one of his own remedies. He digs around in his pack to retrieve one of them, and happens upon the peculiar vial he'd found in there when he woke up. Maybe it'd be helpful?

Herbalore check [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728555

>>728551
Cerulean, despite her small size right now, still attempts to drag Mallea out with sheer rage from-.
"Aaaugh! Blood, but can't eat!"

>dragging her out

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 4 + 1 = 5

 No.728556

>>728554
Suddenly, in a flash of memory, you recall making these in the Alchemy Lab, blackened with patches of foul-smelling mold. You recall the sense of satisfaction from making them, and a vague sense of security, the knowledge that you've made a considerably powerful potion, capable of fully restoring any wounds and purging any impurities from a living body.

>Free action used, instant and normal still available

 No.728557

>>728551
>>728552
Cloud gasps as Mallea is revealed inside, shocked that she was eaten by this creature. He looks over to Thessaly as she asks to return to size, nodding as he ends his magic on her.

He looks back to the bear, swinging his wand again to keep the hole to the stomach open.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gust] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 1 - 1 = 0

 No.728558

>>728556
"Ah! Here, let me try…" the griffon attempts to pour the potion down Mallea's throat!
>Cure-All!

 No.728559

>>728558
>>728557
>>728555
>>728552
>>728553
Thessaly's attacks and those of her Dust-Bunny continue to clear away the dust, but it just keeps coming back; for every chunk they strike away, more clumps up next to it. But nonetheless, as the Cub's jaws clamp down, it swallows up Thessaly, Cutlass and the Dust-Bunny. Once inside its featureless body, they are able to see Cerulean and Alder as they tend to the unresponsive Mallea.

Thessaly quickly returns to normal size after Cloud releases the spell. Neither Cerulean nor the Fox are able to break through the wall of dust that keeps them imprisoned.

Alder force-feeds Mallea the cure-all he made earlier, and her body rapidly starts to heal; wounds vanish as flesh and bone are knitted together once more. After it's done, her eyes flutter open vaguely, but they are gray and lifeless, unfocused and unaware. Her mouth moves vaguely, uttering some kind of soundless spell.

[1d10+1]

The Fox keeps trying to help Cerulean pull Mallea out.

[1d10+1]

>>728557
In your shock after seeing Mallea's dreadful wounds, you release the spell in your wand too quickly, causing the gust of air to knock over more debris above you. Boxes and boxes fall down upon you, pinning you under their weight.

>You lose 1 Wound


However, as you hit the ground and drop your wand from the impact, you hear a curious clattering sound somewhere ahead of you. It sounds like a vinyl record hitting the ground without breaking. Most of the debris you knocked down has landed in front of you, so the record must be somewhere among it.

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

 No.728560

>>728559
>>728555
She gets a sudden idea, grabbing Cerulean's flaming fox with telekinesis and pushing it towards the bear, trying to get its flames to burn away the dust. "Allow me…"
[1d10] Telekinesis

The Dust Bunny keeps attacking indiscriminately.
[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9 / Roll #2 5 = 5

 No.728561

>>728559
"U-Uhm, something is not right- Miss Mallea still looks kind of… vacant! Maybe we need to fix up one of the things that the bear is guarding?"

 No.728562

>>728559
Cerulean growls in frustration as her tail drips with aura once again.
"Let us out you over-grown sand cloud!" She then slams her tail against the wall, looking to smack and wash it away.

>Slam with Tidepool

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.728563

>forgot second roll
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.728564

>>728559
>>728560
>>728557

"Wh-what in the-" Cutlass stammers in confusion as the insides of the bear are suddenly occupied mostly by a massive Thessaly.

"CLOUD!" she shouts angrily.

 No.728565

>>728559
Cloud collapses as he's buried in boxes, groaning in pain and lying there for a moment. His ears perk as he hears the vinyl drop, giving him the focus he needs to try and pull himself out of this trash heap.
"That must be the record for the needle…"
Cloud squirms out from under the boxes, grabbing his wand and looking over the trash for the record. But as he looks around he notices a lack of the party, seeing them all gone.
"…Guys?"
He says with some worry, looking up at the bear. The record might be important, but right now he's alone, and Mallea still needs to be saved. He gives his wands a few spins, winding up as if he was going to toss a ball, and sends another gale of wind at the bear's stomach.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Gale] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 4 - 1 = 3

 No.728566

>>728565
>>728564
>>728560
>>728563
>>728561
The Fox yelps as Thessaly picks it up, but there is little time for its concerns right now. Together, Cerulean and Thessaly use fire and water to break through from the Cub's body, allowing the lot of you to escape. Once you're out of the body, bringing Mallea with you, you look back and see that the impact has left the Cub with a gaping hole in its chest. Its body starts to collapse, shrinking and shifting as it reconfigures itself. It soon shrinks down to about half of its original size, becoming about on par with Cerulean's normal height. When it sees you dragging Mallea away from it, it growls, swiping at the lot of you once more.

[1d10+4] Cleave vs 5

Mallea continues to mouth soundless words.

[1d10+1]

The Fox attempts a small plume of fire to intercept the Cub's attack.

[1d10+1]

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

 No.728567

>>728566
Satisfied with the results, she pulls out the Seed again, keeping it aloft as she conjures a mandala and sends it rocketing forward towards the Cub, aiming to brand it with the symbol.
[1d10+1] Exequy

The Dust Bunny kicks at its vulnerable chest.
[1d10]

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

 No.728568

>>728566
"JUST GO AWAY!" Cerulean yells at the dust bear and go to bite and thrash at wherever she can to keep it from reforming.

>Great weapon

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.728569

>>728566
Alder lets out a sigh of relief once they pull Mallea's barely-conscious form free from the cub. He draws his Spellslinger and tries to shoot a bolt of fire at the cub's claw when it swipes at them, while he looks around for something better to try!
Spellslinger [1d10+1] (Fire, down to 4)
Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 5 + 1 = 6 / Roll #2 8 = 8

 No.728570

>>728566
"You all went inside that thing?"
Cloud mutters as the others burst out of the bear, carrying Mallea along with them. But he doesn't hang on this for long. When the bear shrinks down, Cloud looks back at the boxes that fell on him. He takes his wind wand, and uses the winds to carry one of the boxes and fling it at the bear to trap it and keep it away from them.
>Tamer of the Squalls [Box Throw] [1d10-1]

Roll #1 1 - 1 = 0

 No.728571

>>728566

Cutlass escapes the bear, dodges the attack, then stabs at its paw a few times to see what happens.

>Dual Attack

[1d10] [1d10]

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

 No.728572

>>728567
You place the brand upon the Cub, but the Seed is only faintly reverberating. It's almost ready, but not yet. Just a tiny bit more…

The Dust Bunny's kick does nothing against the Cub's slow and steady regeneration.

>>728567
>>728568
>>728569
>>728570
>>728571
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq7HYiijmSA

The Cub roars, clashing with Cerulean time and again. This time, now that Mallea is free of its grasp, its attacks seem more solid, and it is able to actually land physical blows upon you.

It cuts into Cerulean's side, causing her to lose 2 Hits. Then, it slaps back Cloud's launched box, causing it to smash back into him. He goes helpless and loses 1 Wound. Next, it slaps down its paw onto Cutlass' back, crushing her under its weight. She goes helpless and loses 2 Wounds.

Just as the Cub tries to grind Cutlass down into the ground, Alder shoots at its paw, blowing it away. The Cub falls back, but is quickly back on the offense, and roars as it tries to bite onto Alder.

>Blast vs Intruders

[1d10+4]

The Fox tries to help up Cutlass
[1d10+1]

Roll #1 5 + 4 = 9 / Roll #2 3 + 1 = 4

 No.728573

>>728569
Your attention is grasped briefly by the sight of Cloud's attack being reflected back at him. As your eyes drift oward the debris and boxes that lay scattered around the small room, you notice a vinyl record laying among the debris. The record has an illustration of the sun for a decoration. It looks old, and has likely been played many times, but is incredibly well-cared for despite its age.

 No.728574

>>728572
Frustrated, she dismisses the Dust Bunny entirely, hurling a magic orb at the Cub. "Come on… Fall, damn you…"
[1d10+1] [1d10+1]

Roll #1 2 + 1 = 3 / Roll #2 8 + 1 = 9

 No.728575

>>728572
Cloud tumbles back from the box's impact, battered on the ground.
"How is it stronger now when it's smaller?"
He groans, trying to stand back up after that blow.
>Recover [1d10-1]

Roll #1 7 - 1 = 6

 No.728576

>>728572

"Agh!" Cutlass groans from the powerful hit. But, she quickly tries to get back up.

[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.728577

>>728575
>>728572
>>728573
>Natural Remedy for Cloud [1d10+1]

Alder hurriedly moves to help Cloud Shear back up. The vinyl record catches his eye, and he tries pointing it out to the others. "Maybe… there! Perhaps if we play that record, it might change something?"

Roll #1 9 + 1 = 10

 No.728578

>>728572
Cerulean gives a bit of a gasp/growl as the attacks have feeling to them now, but it wasn't about to keep her from fighting as she goes to slam her tail into it again.

[1d10+2]
[1d10+2]

Roll #1 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #2 8 + 2 = 10

 No.728579

>>728575
>>728576
Cloud gets up, but Cutlass does not.

>>728574
>>728575
>>728576
>>728577
>>728578
Alder heals Cloud to full Hits and restores 1 Wound, but a moment afterward, the Cub grabs Alder in its mouth, crushing down on him with grave might. But, unlike before, Mallea is not wounded as a result.

>Alder 0/5


The Cub's attack sends out a resounding shockwave which shakes the room, knocking over crates and barrels. You are all knocked back by the pressure of it, causing you all to lose 1 Wound (except for Alder, who already took his damage).

However, before the Cub can make another attack, Thessaly blasts it with another bolt, causing it to drop Alder and stumble backwards, breaking its fall against the projector and record player. Just as it tries to get back up and attack again, Cerulean slam-dunks her tail right down onto it, causing it to fall to the ground. Unable to move further, it slumps across the floor, defeated.

The Karmic Seed starts to reverberate and pulse, signaling that it is ready. At the same time, Cerulean can feel the Yana of the Moon and Stars doing a very similar thing. Cerulean also remembers how Thessaly captured the Immolatioknight with the Seed earlier, so it's reasonable to guess that her Yana's about ready to do the same.

 No.728580

>>728579
She doesn't hesitate in hurling the Seed at it, curious to see what happens next.
[1d10] if needed

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.728581

>>728579
Cerulean bares her teeth at it, making sure it stays down before finally starting to calm down. The Yana catches her attention as she yanks it out of her mane and holds it up.
"Huh? What the heck is this thing doing?"

 No.728582

>>728579

Cutlass gets up, damnit! [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728583

>>728579
>>728577
"Thanks Alder."
Cloud says as he's given a potion after recovering. Though he isn't standing long as he's knocked back yet again by the bear's attack. He manages to get to his hooves well enough this time, though feeling worn. After Alder is biten and thrashed about, Cloud quickly goes over to help the gryphon up before the bear has a chance to attack again.
>Assist Alder [1d10-1]

Roll #1 2 - 1 = 1

 No.728584

>>728579
>Recovery! [1d10]

"P-Perhaps once we deal with this cub? It does not seem to hurt Mallea any longer!"

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.728585

>>728581
>>728580
As the Karmic Seed makes contact with the Cub, the Cub's body slowly dissolves into a kind of mist, which is then absorbed into the Seed gradually. Slowly but surely, it is all drawn in. Afterwards, both the Karmic Seed and the Yana stop reverberating. Cerulean is able to put two and two together, realizing that the Yana would have been able to do the same had she used it instead. In fact, Cerulean then realizes that it may have done something to the Mischiefs, though she wouldn't have noticed while she was chowing down on them.

>>728580
>>728581
>>728582
>>728583
>>728584
Although the Cub has been absorbed by Thessaly's Karmic Seed, Mallea continues to lay inert in the dust-filled room, her eyes gray, lifeless and unblinking. She is breathing, though just barely. You all eventually get back up, your injuries sore and stinging after that fight. Since you're now out of combat, Cloud can simply restore you all to normal size freely.

Before you stands the record player, missing both a record and the tone arm (which Cloud and Cerulean obtained earlier), and the film projector, which is missing a film reel (which Cerulean picked up earlier). Besides these two things, it's too dark in the room to see much of anything that might be around. The Fox's light might be useful here, but it's currently more concerned with the lifeless Mallea.

 No.728586

>>728585

Cutlass gets up and shakes off the pain in her bones. "Well… that was bracing."

Cutlass looks over at the unmoving Mallea. She walks up and stands over here. She contemplates a moment if there's anything she can do. She can only think of one thing, but it hardly seems as if it will do anything… Still worth a try.

"Get up," she orders Mallea.

[1d10+1] Whisper in your Ear

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.728587

>>728585
As the bear vanishes away into the seed, Cloud relaxes as they're not under threat of being mauled. Though with Mallea still looking worse for wear, he ends his magic on the party, returning everypony to their normal size so they can check on her properly. He walks over to her, looking down at her.
"Mallea, are you alright?"
He asks with concern, not able to offer much help with his lack of medical knowledge.

 No.728588

>>728581
>>728585
"Finders keepers," she says rather smugly to Cerulean.

>>728585
As soon as the Seed is done, she puts it away and goes to check on Mallea, still unsure whether any of this is real. Seeing she probably won't get much from her, she turns her attention to the rest of the room and fires a weak magic bolt blindly into the darkness to act as a pseudo light source.
[1d10+1] [1d10+1]

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

 No.728589

>>728587
>>728586
There is no response, at least at first. You can just barely see it, however – her lips are faintly moving, just as they did before…

[1d10+2]

Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12

 No.728590

>>728589
As she moves her mouth, Cloud leans down to try and her what she's saying with his superior bat ears.

 No.728591

>>728586
>>728589

Cutlass's eyes narrow with a suspicious glare. Then, they glow.

>Soul Sight on what may or may not be Mallea

 No.728592

>>728588
"Okay…but what even was all that? I was told it would attract things, but nothing about capturing them." A blink later and she realizes something.
"Ah jeez! I forgot I can't make a ponytail with this to save my life!"

>>728585
As she tries to think of a convenient way to carry the Yana around, her attention goes to the film projector. She decides to put the film reel she found earlier to it and goes about trying to turn it on.

 No.728593

>>728585
Alder frowns a little bit, and shakes it down once returns to normal height. With that done, he looks to the others and asks "Maybe… we put the stuff back together, and play it?"

 No.728594

>>728588
From the light of the bolt, you get a glimpse of the rest of the room. Unlike the rest of the attic that you've seen thus far, which was used haphazardly to store objects from over the years, this room seems to almost look like a kind of tiny theater. Various chairs, flat trunks and stools have been set up in rows in front of the projector and the record player. Upon the far wall, there is a little metal rack where a projector screen could hang, obviously for the showing of films.

At the very end of the room, on the south side, there is another door, nearly hidden behind columns of stacked-up boxes.

>>728591
Despite your suspicions, what you see mirrors exactly what you saw the first time you used Soul Sight on Mallea: You see her trekking over countless different landscapes, through snow, rain, intense heat and storms, all in search of a place that she can call home.

>>728590
>>728591
Her voice, barely audible, is dry and weary, borne down with the exhaustion of despair.

"Just stop. Let me…"


Before she can finish her words, a dull gray glow ekes out of her horn. Dust from the whole room begins to accumulate around her, burying her completely in what almost looks like a cocoon.

Once she is buried, her breathing stops.

>>728592
>>728591
>>728590
>>728588
>>728593
The projector whirs to life once Cerulean finds the power switch. She carefully feeds it the film reel she discovered in the music room, and a scene starts to project on the room's far wall. Without a proper screen for it to project onto, the film looks out of focus and blurry against the dusty wood. However, from what you can tell, it looks like a silent clip show of Mallea and Palafox.

Palafox, as you can tell, was a tall beetle, his carapace a deep maroon sheen. Though you aren't very well versed in Krikral physiognomy or standards of beauty, something about his demeanor and body language in the film casts him as a dependable, charismatic type. You see him and Mallea visiting various islands, walking along their beaches, dancing in their clubs, and hiking across various landscapes, stopping to catalogue whatever strange and wondrous fauna and flora they run into on their way.

The Mallea you see in the films is the complete opposite of what you've seen of her so far. In the film, she smiles brightly, moving and laughing as if she were a filly in her 20's, giddy with the passions of a first love. She and Palafox often tease each other in the films, laughing about unheard jokes and having what look like silly conversations for the fun of it.

But the Mallea in this room lays under her cocoon of dust, inert and now no longer breathing.

 No.728595

>>728592
A beat. "I have no idea. Where did you get it?"

>>728593
"That would be the most expedient course of action, yes."

>>728594
She watches the footage pensively, waiting to see what it's leading to. "I still don't think this is the real Mallea," she says to no one in particular, gesturing at the cocoon of dust.

 No.728596

>>728595
"Oh, Obstinance gave it to me. He said it would help with this demon inside of me," she says fairly bright eyed and bushy tailed until the film starts rolling.

>>728594
Cerulean has…an odd look on her face. Watching the film, and everything going on, she seem to be in such a whirlwind of emotions that she's not sure what to feel right now. She silently looks to the others in the group for…guidance? Something?

 No.728597

>>728594
Cloud pulls back, looking at her with shock. When the dust starts to pile around to her, Cloud quickly tries to pull it back and away, to keep her from burying herself.
"No! You can't do this!"
He shouts as he tries to free her from the cocoon.
>Tear away dust [1d10]

He glances up through his motions as the projector whirs to life, watching the silent home film of Mallea and Palafox. Seeing the two together, so happy bright for the future, only makes him more determined to free her.

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.728598

>>728596
Looking at the dropped tone arm for the projector, you realize that something may happen if you fix the record player and put on the proper music for the film. You seem to recall seeing a record somewhere in the room during the chaos of the battle against the Cub.

 No.728599

>>728598
Cerulean sets about trying to fiddle the record player back together and looking for the record that fell during the fight. She then replays the film, but this time with the record player going for the full effect. Maybe now it'll help her feel sort of more fulfilled after watching it this time.

 No.728600

>>728595
>>728594
>>728597

"I don't think you're right Thessaly," Cutlass says as she telekinetically assists Cloud in his quest to free Mallea of the cocoon. "I looked into her soul and saw the same thing I saw the first time. If this is some sort of copy, then whatever made the copy is able to copy souls."

[1d10] to remove dust

"Are you sure Despair is defeated?"

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.728601

>>728594
"N-No, this is not good. Maybe we need to let in the light, somehow? Didn't it say something about that?" he asks, stepping in place frantically.

 No.728602

>>728599
"Ah! Good thinking- I believe that the record even had a little sun on it, didn't it?"

 No.728603

>>728601
>>728599
>>728597
>>728595
>>728600
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GplrNq1dfbw

Mallea weakly struggles against Cloud and Cutlass as they try to clear away the dust that she's gathered up around her. But, after recalling the note's words, Alder finds the record that got dropped during the battle. He notices that the record has an illustration of the sun upon it. He hands it to Cerulean, who reattaches the tone arm to the record player and then puts the record in place.

Once Cerulean sets the film back up, synchronizing its start with the record, the film seems to take on a new light. Though the film originally seemed to just be a collection of old memories, you realize that the transitions and cuts are themselves aligned with the record's first song.

With the record playing in the background, the film becomes a celebration of their brief, happy time that Mallea and Palafox spent together. It hops across time and space, splicing together honeymoon with wedding day, vacation to daily work together in their various labs, rainy days with sunny days. Clips of quiet studies, dancing in the kitchen, renovating the manor, tending to plants and small birds flitting about in the garden…

As the film goes on, you realize that Mallea has slowly gotten back to her hooves. Light faintly returns to her eyes as she stands transfixed before the film.

 No.728604

>>728603
Sure enough, Cerulean finally shows something as she watches the film: joy. So much from watching that she can't help but hug the fox close as she gets teary eyed.
"I don't know why I'm crying but…but this just makes me feel so happy to see, ya know?" She sees Mallea standing up, and steps aside a bit to let her get a better view.

 No.728605

>>728600
"It should be. From the little I remember, the same thing happened when we bested the Immolatioknight."

>>728603
She doesn't even notice Mallea standing up at first, watching the footage in a reverie. She feels completely numb watching it; none of it resonates with her at all. She's entirely isolated from the idea of a relationship.

Her thoughts are interrupted when she realizes Mallea's standing again. She tilts her head and furrows her brow a little. "Are you there?" she asks.

 No.728606

>>728603
When Mallea starts to come back to this realm as the music plays, Cloud helps her up out of the remnants of the dust cocoon. He watches the renovated video, the celebratory film making him think of his future with Chiu, the memories and times they'll have and make together.
Once it ends, he looks to Mallea.
"Feeling better?"

 No.728607

>>728605

"Oh? I don't remember that. Though, everything WAS blindingly bright."

>>728603

Cutlass watches taps her hoof to the music. When she turns to look at Mallea and sees her standing again, she rolls her eyes. "Oh gag," she says in disapproval. "Did something so sappy really work?"

 No.728608

>>728603
"M-Miss Mallea… y-you are alive!" the griffon chirps, mostly in disbelief. "Are you… are you with us?"

 No.728609

>>728604
The Fox wiggles giddily in your grasp, bending back to lick your chin and cheeks as you hug him.

>>728604
>>728605
>>728606
>>728608
>>728607
As the film and soundtrack finally finish, Mallea stands there for a moment more, eyes glistening with tears. She blinks and bends down to dry them, unresponsive to anything you've said or done. But then, after a few moments, she looks your way and gasps, backing away from you with a mix of horror, revulsion and suspicion. Her horn glows with magic, and she reaches behind her for a pocket in her skirt. She eyes you up as one would some kind of unknown monster.

"Back! Get back, the lot of you! You'll not trick me again!" she declares, following it up with a dab of profanity in the Krikral tongue.

 No.728610

>>728609
Cerulean's happiness suddenly takes a 180 as Mallea suddenly has her outburst.
"What? What do you mean trick you? Did that dust bear do something to you?"

 No.728611

>>728609

Cutlass shrugs. "That seems about the normal reaction. Just get out of the way and we'll leave, then. No use trying to convince the rightfully paranoid. We're already 3/4th of the way done. We'll have your haunting problem solved soon enough."

[1d10+1] Whisper in your Ear to get her to at least put the weapon away

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.728612

>>728609
"N-No! We are not attempting to trick you- we saved you from the dust bear! We are trying to find out way out of this bizarre… side-version of your home. Please, try to remember us."

 No.728613

>>728609
She jumps a little at Mallea's reaction. "What are you on about? It's us. About the only normal thing in this house, from the sound of things. What happened?"

 No.728614

>>728609
Cloud puts up a hoof to try and diffuse Mallea's sudden angry turn.
"Whoa, whoa. We're not trying to trick you, we just saved you. It's us Mallea, not those weird toys or whatever else is in this place."

 No.728615

>>728614
>>728613
>>728612
>>728610
>>728611
Mallea blinks, tilting her head at your reactions. She doesn't let down her guard, backing toward the door all the while. "…What was the first thing each of you said to me when you came to my door this morning?"

>Paused, sort of. RP is still open but we won't be moving from this room w/o Thess

 No.728616

>>728614
>>728609

Cutlass suddenly does a double-take around the room and toward the projector.

"Hey, why is there a toy-sized working projector in the house, anyway?"

 No.728617

>>728615

Cutlass drones. "I can't remember my exact words. I just remember politely greeting you because I was anxious to meet the master of such a large manor."

 No.728618

>>728617

>drones?


I swear to fuck, I typed "shrugs".

 No.728619

>>728615
"The first thing? Pretty sure I just said hi and introduced myself."
Cloud says.

 No.728620

>>728619
>>728617
Mallea blinks slowly, contemplating your words. "…That's right. Those… those things weren't able to answer that question."

 No.728621

>>728620
"What things?"
Cloud questions.
"Is… Are there fake versions of us walking around here?"

 No.728622

>>728615
"I…think I said hello and told you my name?" Her ears go down and has a very worried look.
"Please don't be mad. Today has been a very long day…night…whatever it is, I still haven't found Roger, and this whole thing is really starting to get to me."

 No.728623

>>728615
"I-I, uhmn, I do not know if I remember, apologies. I remember coming back and having you help me find a place for Splendid to practice Magic. Maybe… was the conversation we had in the morning asking if you knew a way we could get a 'magic spark'?"

 No.728624

>>728620
>>728621

"Is there something able to copy us?" Cutlass asks hopefully.

 No.728625

>>728623
>>728622
Mallea at last starts to relax her stance, and the glow of attack magic around her horn slowly vanishes. "You too… you remember. There's no way you're one of them."

>>728621
>>728624
Mallea grimly nods, but looks at you as if you're talking crazy. "Haven't they been attacking you too? Ever since I got separated from the rest of you, I've been lost in the manor's illogical twist and turns, fighting everything that came my way. You're injured. You look like you've been doing a lot of fighting yourself."

 No.728626

>>728624
"I hope not. That's just asking for a headache if we start seeing multiples of us."

 No.728627

>>728626

"Ugh, one Cloud is already too many," Cutlass nods.

>>728625

"We've been fighting sins. We haven't seen any duplicates. At least, not any living ones. Though, if there are duplicates, that may explain a few things. Or, I hope that's the explanation…"

 No.728628

>>728625
"Most of us. We came across some weird black goop thing that…I think killed us, but then we woke back up where we all started, but only Cutlass and myself remembered."

"And yeah. Aside from this latest thing, we also fought a bunch of rats in mold that we set on fire a lot, and also some jerk who forced this cute little guy against us," she says, giving pets to the fox not so much out of affection but in a way one might pet a therapy dog for comfort.

 No.728629

>>728625
Cloud shakes his head.
"Only thing I've fought is that dust bear you were trapped in. And some others demons from what the others have said, but I don't remember that."
Cloud says.
"Were you alone this whole time?"

>>728627
"I could say the same about you."

 No.728630

>>728629

"I'm surprised you wouldn't want more of me around so that you have more of me to mess with, you big bully."

 No.728631

>>728629
>>728628
>>728627
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjMWPTtFf70

Mallea contemplates all of this as if you were talking some other kind of language. "The dead can't come back to life. Whatever it was that you're talking about, Cerulean, it can't have killed you, whatever the case. But this talk of remembering and not remembering is alarming. It's just what I was talking about this morning. Only this time, I've woken up in the attic, not in my room. What happened to Cloud that's keeping him from remembering what you're talking about, Cerulean?"

>>728629
"I'm… not sure," Mallea says. "My head's still feeling bleary and foggy. Give me some time, and I'm sure to remember it myself. I remember glimpses of being with that other group. Plague, Pudding, Schnitzel, that whole lot. At some point, I must have gotten separated from them."

 No.728632

>>728630
"The fun from messing with you would be drowned out by all the shrimps running around."

 No.728633

>>728632

Cutlass huffs. "I can't do anything about genetics!" she objects to the short joke.

 No.728634

>>728633
"I do have a cure for that you know."

 No.728635

>>728634

"As if I would trust you with my body!"

There's a brief pause. "I-if you DID add a few inches, how would that work? Would you have to be around to keep it that way?"

"J-just out of curiosity."

 No.728636

>>728625
"One of them? Are there, uh… some sort of copies of us here? I do not think we have ran into any, but maybe we missed them."

>>728631
"Ah, so everyone is here, then? Have you seen Splendid, by chance? she was not there when I woke up… wherever we are now, and with what I have seen so far any of our companions missing is concerning."

>>728635
>>728633
"Ah, I can relate to that Miss Cutlass- I am on the small side for my tribe."

 No.728637

>>728636

"R-really?" Cutlass asks, looking Alder up and down. "But… you're so much bigger than me…"

 No.728638

>>728637
"Ah- well, I suppose I do not look too small, compared to a pony. Griffons tend to be larger than ponies, and most of my tribe tends to be larger than the 'average' griffon. I did retain the extra thick coating, which has been… a tad trying on some of the islands, to be honest." the griffon says, before giggling a little.

 No.728639

>>728635
"My magic lasts for a good while, for ponies it can usually stay for about a day before wearing off. I don't need to be around for it to stick, but I'll need to recast it each day."
e then smirks.
"But a constant upkeep like that will cost you."

 No.728640

>>728638

"Ugh, tell me about it!" Cutlass agrees enthusiastically with a roll of her eyes. "Half the reason I hide my mane under my hat is because the sea salt in the air just makes it IMPOSSIBLE to do anything with it. I've considered braiding it, but that's so much work…"

>>728639

Cutlass rolls her eyes. "Oh, you'd like to put me on a leash like that, wouldn't you?"

"F-figuratively," she adds quickly.

 No.728641

>>728640
"I have just learned to… what is it ponies say? 'Grit my teeth and bear it'. Also, ehm… I guess you do not like being on the short side, yes? How tall do you want to be?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.

 No.728642

>>728640
"Please, you're the last I'd want on a leash."
Cloud scoffs.
"I'd want to be off yours. Shave some of that debt off in return for giving you a few inches."

 No.728643

>>728641

"When I was young and fantasizing about being a pirate, I always pictured myself as a tall, imposing pirate lord who even looked down on the tallest of stallions. So…"

Cutlass gestures toward her own miniature physique. "A lot taller…"

 No.728644

>>728642

"I would not consider such an inconvenient service to be worthy my money," Cutlass shakes her head.

 No.728645

>>728643
"Ah. I can relate, I suppose. I have quite large wings- they have been rather oversized since I was young. I always hoped that I would grow into them, but… that was not the case, I suppose." the griffon says, flapping his wings a few times in thought.

"Though, to be honest, that does sound kind of cool. I guess that would make you taller than me, too?" he says, giggling a little.

 No.728646

>>728644
"Alright, I'll keep my magic to myself then."
Cloud says with a shrug, followed by a demeaning pat on Cutlass' head after hearing a bit of her conversation with Alder.

 No.728647

>>728646

"I hope Sir Pent bites you…" Cutlass grumbles as he pats her on the head.

>>728645

"W-what's so funny about me being taller than you!?" Cutlass blushes.

 No.728648

>>728647
"Nothing! It is… just a neat idea, honestly. I do not think I would mind too much. Perhaps something from that store we bought Splendid's temporary magic spark from could help with that? Provided it is something you feel is that important, of course."

 No.728649

>>728648

"I feel like I should EARN my height. I can't just buy it form a store. It must come from me. Of course, I doubt that I'll ever get to my ideal height. But, I'm also sure, I'm not done growing."

"…R-right?" Cutlass says, not sounding too sure.

 No.728650

>>728649
"Well, you are rather young- I know some griffons take until after their twentieth year before they are fully grown. There is no reason to be certain you will not grow naturally… and, I understand- just buying it would feel… cheap."

 No.728651

>>728636
Mallea squints with disbelief. "What do you mean you didn't run into them? I've been all over the first and second floor just trying to get some reprieve from them!"

As you ask about Splendid, her mouth twists. "I… yes, the griffoness. She was one of the ones I was with, to start. I met up with her in the foyer, but we got separated around the time that we went toward the garden shed."

>Roll memory

 No.728652

>>728651
[1d10]

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.728653

>>728651
>>728652
"Getting away from them? Are they… not themselves, somehow? This is all quite confusing…"

 No.728874

Last time on PirateQuest…

Up in the attic's largest room, which appeared to be a kind of makeshift home theater, the party was attacked by the Cub, a massive bear made of dust and debris, representing the Sin of Despair. The Cub's attacks did next to nothing against them, no matter how powerfully it struck them.

It was only when they picked up on the note's advice, and allowed the bear to bite down on them, that they found out its secret. Inside its stomach was a catatonic Mallea de Valle. Her body, scourged with wounds in the shape of bear's claws, was taking the brunt of the damage from the Cub's attacks. By pulling her out, they were able to free her from the Cub's curse, and subdue it. Using the Karmic Seed, Thessaly trapped the remnants of Despair.

However, this did not release Mallea from her stupor, and in a moment of hazy resistance, she drew the dust of the attic onto herself – an attempt at self-suffocation. In order to break her out of her continued despair, the party had to remind her of what she was fighting for. They repaired the record player, put on a nearby record, and fed the film reel Cerulean found into the projector. What followed was a home movie of her brief and joyful marriage with Palafox, who brought her a youthful cheer that was completely absent from her present persona.

By the time that the film ended, Mallea was back to normal. But when she looked over at the party, she dropped into a battle-ready posture, and was on the verge of attacking, demanding that they prove that they were real, or perish. Once they assured her that they were indeed real, and not illusions (or whatever she thought they were), she relaxed.

Now, with three of the Sins defeated, perhaps they could finally start to understand just what was going on around here…

 No.728875

>Everyone
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjMWPTtFf70

Mallea contemplates all of this as if you were talking some other kind of language. "The dead can't come back to life. Whatever it was that you're talking about, Cerulean, it can't have killed you, whatever the case. But this talk of remembering and not remembering is alarming. It's just what I was talking about this morning. Only this time, I've woken up in the attic, not in my room. What happened to Cloud that's keeping him from remembering what you're talking about, Cerulean?"

>Cloud

"I'm… not sure," Mallea says. "My head's still feeling bleary and foggy. Give me some time, and I'm sure to remember it myself. I remember glimpses of being with that other group. Plague, Pudding, Schnitzel, that whole lot. At some point, I must have gotten separated from them."

>Alder

You feel something nagging at the back of your mind, desperate to be noticed. Yet, just as that feeling sparks curiosity, your body starts to feel nausea and dread, the kind evoked by the sudden sight of filth and decay. Your stomach churns, warning you not to press onward…

>Roll memory…?


Mallea inhales deeply, holds it, then lets it out. "I believe we're just going to end up with more miscommunications and misunderstandings if we keep on like this. Let me start from the beginning, and try to be more clear.

"Like I said, my mind is foggy now. I don't remember much of what's happened, ever since we got flooded by darkness in the basement. I remember glimpses of exploring the manor with your allies – I think it was Splendid, Plague, Puddin, Ossie, Zerk, Paraiba and Schnitzel. We fought… this… this thing all made of fire, riding upon a great hound, in the dining hall… we defeated it… and then we fought these zombified laboratory mice, animated by black mold, in my lab… after that, I think I got separated from them."

She pauses to think, and as you process her words, that nagging feeling of remembrance strikes at you once more.

>You can make a memory roll for this one.


"I explored the manor by myself for a time, but it was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Hallways stretched on interminably. Rooms had fused together. The dimensions were impossible, and my modest estate started to feel more like an entire labyrinth. I couldn't find the front door, and all windows were blacked out, and withstood every attack I threw at them."

 No.728876

>>728875
Alder holds his head a little bit as the wave of nausea returns. It takes him a few moments to shake off the cold sweat, and he frowns a little as he thinks all of this over. "I… hmm… that sounds trying, for sure."
>Memory [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.728877

>>728876
Suddenly, as clear as day, a vision breaks down the door in your mind that was holding it back, rushes up, and grabs you by the mind's eyes…

It is the melting remains of Splendid and Mallea de Valle, their corpses entangled and melting. Splendid's body has the most damage. The way her posture is aligned, it looks as though she had thrown herself upon Mallea to protect her from what looks to be some kind of attack. A gaping wound that the two share, near their chests, appears to have been the fatal blow.

"Alder!?"

Mallea's voice brings you back to reality.

At some point you don't recall, your arms and legs seem to have given out, as you are nearly sprawled across the floor, damp with sweat, and cold beyond help. She offers you a hoof to help you back up.

 No.728878

https://pastebin.com/w7vFkeLu

>>728875
"That's been going around a lot. I woke up alone, and then the others said we did all this stuff I don't remember already."
Cloud says.
"But we got a lot of these demons or sins or whatever dealt with, so the problem should be almost dealt with for good soon."

"Yea I noticed the windows were all black too, and there was mold all over the second floor as well. It's like the place became abandoned for years in a few hours."

 No.728879

>>728877
Alder comes out of the flash of memory in a panicked, cold sweat, muttering worriedly in his own language. He look up at Mallea and stammers out something, before finally calming himself enough to say "I remember you… y-you and Splendid were dead! T-The two of you had been…" he trails off as he dry heaves at the thought of it.

 No.728880

>Cloud, Cutlass
Sir Pent flicks Cloud's hoof with his forked tongue, then very slowly slithers close and bumps his nose against Cloud's hoof. It's very unclear what he's getting at. Perhaps that was an attack, as Cutlass commanded. Perhaps he simply wants to get his share of the head-patting. His mind is an enigma.

 No.728881

https://pastebin.com/qQ4NMZCH

>>728880
>>728646

"D-don't fraternize with my rival!" Cutlass admonishes Sir Pent in a fluster.

>>728879
>>728877

"It still seems my theory is spot on," Cutlass nods. "There's some magical time-travel nonsense going on."

 No.728882

>>728875
She raises an eyebrow doubtfully at her claim of resurrection being impossible.

"It seems some of us have suffered a similar altercation," she points out. "Though my memory is gone as well, the Captain has told us of a fight with a flaming creature yonder in the dining room. A Sin, by her account." She looks down at the Seed in her pocket. "Three down. One to go. Apparently the last one is in the basement. …Curious, that we have slain the same creatures in two different realities."

>>728879
"This just lends more credence to the illusion theory. Clearly Mallea is right in front of us now. And we've established that she is quite real."

 No.728883

>>728880
>>728881
"Heh, looks like your snake agrees with me."
Cloud chuckles, giving Sir Pent a pat as well.

 No.728884

>>728881
Sir Pent bends down over the rim of your hat, tickling your ear with his tongue.

>>728883
Sir Pent yawns after his head-pat, and lays back down in the rim.

>>728881
>>728879
The moment that Mallea helps Alder back up, she retracts her hoof and steps back, looking uncomfortable at having been so physically close. Her expression of worry turns into a disapproving scowl. "You must have seen an illusion. No earthly magic can bring back the dead. Time travel is the stuff of hack novels and cheap Flicks. Look at me. I'm alive. Check my pulse if you must."

Her voice trails off.

"…Where did you see this… this illusion?"

>>728882
>>728881
"You fought it too?" Mallea asks. She hesitates, struggling with how to form the next thought. "…What did it look like to you?"

 No.728885

>>728881
>>728882
Alder huffs a little, and tries to shake himself off. "I-I know, but… t-the vision was so sudden. I apologize for my outburst." he says, slowly working his way to all fours with Mallea's help.

>>728884

"It was… in the magical study, I think? T-The both of you had, ehm… I-I am sorry, it is not a comfortable thought. I-Is it truly an illusion?"

 No.728886

>>728878
"I take it that if you've made your way up here, you're searching for a way into the basement?" Mallea asks. "The basement was the first place my group looked when we came to, but the door at the end of the hall was gone. In its place was a strange altar. In our search for whatever key we needed to secure our passage, we got separated… I don't remember what resulted in me being stuck up here, but I presume the last key may be somewhere around here."

 No.728887

>>728882
>>728879
>>728884
>>728881
"Wait, you saw her dead? But she's right here," Cloud questions at Alder's claim, "…Do you think it was one of those copies or whatever that Mallea saw earlier?"

As the others start to comment, Cloud looks worried.
"We're repeating the same things? Are we trapped in this place forever now?"

>>728886
Cloud shrugs.
"I don't know. When I woke up and found the others, we were already on our way up here."
As she mentions a key, Cloud looks around.
>Search [Key] [1d10]
"There was a weird keyhole to the door to get up here. So that wasn't your own design then?"

Roll #1 10 = 10

 No.728888

>>728883

"Sir Pent is what some might call an 'attention whore'. I assure you, his affection is in no way an indicator of approval."

>>728884

Cutlass giggles against her own will as Sir Pent tickles her ear. She light pats the snake on the head.

>>728884

"It was in your magical study," Cutlass comments dryly. "It's also where we encountered the thing that seemed like a smile in the darkness."

>>728887

"No, it seems our progress is… 'saved' if you will. We defeated two sins before we reset. And, those two sins are still gone."

 No.728889

>>728875
"Hmm…I dunno. Last thing I remember, we came face-to-face with some kind of tar thingy. Everyone but me and Cutlass got swept away by it…though it did flood the place eventually so much even I drowned. …I kinda don't wanna feel that again, and I now know why a lot of ponies are so afraid of the water in general."

 No.728890

>>728888
"And now, only one remains, yes? Do we know anything of the last one- what it might be? We may have learned something, but I forgot…"

 No.728891

>>728888
Sir Pent grumbles when you call him an attention whore. His head retracts. Because he is pudgy, this causes his head to sink a little into his fat.

>>728888
>>728887
>>728885
"It– it has to be, of course," Mallea says, though it sounds like she's trying to reassure herself more than you. "I may have gotten separated from Splendid, but I would remember if any of them got killed. I had my hooves full trying to treat their injuries in the battles against the things that we fought. You came and helped a stranger like me when I had nothing to reward you with. I'm going to make damn sure you come back alive. Or at least, preserved in jars."

She exhales a single gust from her nose. You think that may have been the closest she can get to a laugh. Or a joke for that matter.

>>728887
"The mechanism with the medallion, you mean?" Mallea asks. "No, no, Palafox designed that himself. He was quite fond of making such things. Keys and locks bored him. He was a bit of a brigand in his childhood days, and when he mastered lockpicking, he grew tired of it, and preferred to cook up unorthodox mechanisms for his own amusement. I take it you had to deal with the illusory wall separating the first and second floors? That's his doing as well. One of his first major projects with magic."

>>728887
The makeshift theater holds a plethora of antique film equipment; any aspiring filmmaker would be green with envy, seeing the things she has in the various boxes, tins, crates and cloth bundles tucked away around here. Reels, film, parts for projectors, bulbs, and so forth. But none of it is much use to you.

In your search, you eventually clamber to the back of the room, where you see a door half-hidden behind a stack of boxes. It opens toward you, which means that the boxes bar the way and need to be moved first. Mallea turns your way, frowning. "…That room holds things of a personal nature. I suppose if we must… just use your common sense when you invade my privacy, will you?"

>>728889
>>728888
"So, they looked like monsters to you…" Mallea mumbles, more to herself than anyone else. She trails off again, but her forehead is wrinkled with conflicting emotions, primarily fear and concern.

 No.728892

>>728891
She notes her reaction to hearing what it looked like to them. "And to you?" she asks simply.

 No.728893

>>728891
"You better hope not. Chiu will be really upset if any more of me comes back in jars."
Cloud jests at her attempted joke.

"Don't worry, I'm not one to pry into private affairs."
Cloud assures her as he starts to moves the boxes to access the door.
"Palafox made all those? One way to add extra security I guess, or at least make it more fun. I didn't see a wall, so I guess the others did that."

 No.728894

>>728890

"Well, we know Spite exists, but I don't know if that qualifies as a 'Sin'."

>>728891

"Oh, you know it's a part of why I love you," Cutlass says as she strokes the pouting snake.

>>728891

Cutlass arches one eyebrow. "What do they look like to you?"

 No.728895

>>728891
"A-Ah, thank you. I do not need a reward though, really." he says, flicking his tail around anxiously. "I will believe you, though- If you say they are fine, they are fine."

Alder also lets out a soft, awkward chuckle. He didn't fully get the joke, but it only seems polite.

>>728894
"Hrm… if only they were more straightforward, yes. Hopefully we can learn enough as we encounter it. Maybe Mallea would know?"

 No.728896

>>728891
"Uhh…hey? Mind telling me what you're thinking about? Cause with all this, I'm starting to get kinda sick and tired of ponies not telling me a dang thing and leaving me in the dark…." She says with a minor glance to Thessaly, then looks back to Mallea.

 No.728897

>>728894
Sir Pent pokes his head back out and gnaws affectionately on your hoof. He has fangs, but is extremely careful to keep them free of your skin.

>>728894
>>728892
>>728896
>>728895
"Some of them looked like you," Mallea says. "I thought I noticed something strange about the knight who commanded the fiery hound, but put it out of my mind once the battle was won… then, the mice in the laboratory… after we killed enough of them, they started to come together. Started to mutate. Started to resemble Cerulean, and Cloud, and Alder… then, after I got separated from my group, I ran into you again. Or so I thought. We met in the foyer, Alder had this hymnal of sorts… he was decoding these cryptic messages found all around the manor.

"But as we explored, you started to change. Started saying things that made no sense. Accused me of all kinds of crimes. Of tricking you. Of exploiting you. Of experimenting on you… things turned violent. That's why I got ready for a fight, when you brought me back to my senses just now."

She forces out a laugh. "Obviously, it can't have been real. You don't remember anything like that, do you? Whatever or whoever is causing all of this, they have to be some kind of illusionist. They're going to extreme lengths to torment us… that has to be the case."

The Fox whines with worry.

>>728893
After clearing away the boxes, you enter a smaller room than the home theater. Compared to the other rooms, it's free of clutter. A circular window is to the south, and it would overlook the front yard and garden, if it weren't pitch-black.

Just below the window is an ornate-looking treasure chest with a key in the lock. Next to the chest is a smaller crate, the lid slightly ajar.

 No.728898

>>728897
"I do not remember saying such awful things, no. I do believe we have a couple strange notes we have found throughout the manor, but… I-I would never grow so hostile like that. I wonder why 'I' would have said that, though…"

 No.728899

>>728897
Cloud look around the rather neat and tidy room. He looks at the window, guessing this might have been a watch room to overlook the garden, or probably just a memory room from Mallea's words. He steps over to the two chests, assuming the key must be here and not opting to search the whole room. He looks between the two, wonder which the key might be in. If Palafox liked to tinker around and be creative, the key could be in the closed chest, but that feels a little too excessive for a key. So he picks up the lid off the smaller crate and looks in.

 No.728900

>>728897
She regards Mallea impassively as she retells her experience. "Curious," she states simply. "I would say this is Auntzi's trickery, mixed with the magic remnants from your previous work. For all I know, nothing is real in this place. Except for us."

"We should investigate the basement," she says firmly. "The final Sin is to be confronted there, if Ragalaseab's boon is to be believed. Let's be quick about it." She pulls out His Eye and peers through it, starting to trot off towards the basement to have a look around.
[1d10] Perception if needed

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.728901

>>728897
"How could we remember something we didn't do?" She asks with a head tilt, giving the fox some rubs on his head as she hears him whine.

>>728900
"I'm not sure if it's open now or not. I tried going down there since I couldn't get to the pond, but the basement seemed locked down…and very, very dark."

 No.728902

>>728897

Cutlass lets out a long sigh. "I've been worried about that notion," she says to Mallea. "That these sins are somehow related to us. Or that they're being empowered by us. Which makes me especially concerned over the Spite demon…"

"By my own admission, I AM very spiteful."

 No.728903

>>728901
She frowns. "Then, where to from here?" she ponders out loud. "I, for one, wish to be done with this nonsense as soon as possible."

 No.728904

>>728901
>>728898
>>728900
"M-my thoughts exactly," Mallea says. "If you don't remember it, but I do, then one of those accounts has to be false. If you say that you didn't confront me like I remember, I must be wrong, somehow. It really, really can't be true."

>>728902
Mallea gives it thought. "It may be possible. Demons, Oddities, Ghosts, curses… they're all purported to feed on emotions. Negative emotions beget more. Misery loves company, after all. It's like having your mood brought down by being around negative people, or staying in places where evil has been done. You can't help but be colored by the negative emotions surrounding you."

>>728898
>>728900
>>728901
>>728902
>>728899
Going to ever-so-slightly railroad here because Khazard is away

"Just a moment, Thessaly," Mallea says. "We should see if Cloud's got his hooves on anything that can admit us passage down there. It was locked the last time I went there with the other half of your party."

Mallea leads you into the small, orderly room that Cloud began searching. Inside, you see an ornate chest with a key in the keyhole, next to a small crate with the lid ajar.

Inside the chest is a plethora of items that appear to be from a wedding. A tuxedo, a wedding dress, several pictures, placards, and all other manner of little trinkets and baubles of sentimental value.

When Thessaly looks through My Eye, she sees that two items in the chest are outlined with gold: An ornate goblet, and a long gray dagger with a jewel-embedded handle, wrapped in a white cloth. Mallea draws them out of the chest, holding them up. "The altar in front of the wall where the basement door was resembled the type used in traditional krikral marriages. This goblet and this dagger were the key to finalizing our vows… I believe this is what we seek."

Mallea hands the goblet and dagger over to Thessaly, then turns and notices the crate with the lid askew. Inside, you get a glimpse of what look like presents wrapped up for Hearths' Warming. They are shiny and new, and are labeled with your names. Mallea grumbles and awkwardly positions herself between you and the crate so that you can't see inside. "Best we be off then."

 No.728905

>>728903
"How should I know?! Its not like I want to be here any longer as well! And the longer we're here, the more likely something bad is happening to one of our friends! Or some stupid ghost demon monster thing is abusing Roger!" Cerulean's tone slowly gets more irrate.

>>728904
Cerulean looks on curiously as the items are gathered.
"So…what now? How does this vow stuff work?"

 No.728906

>>728904
She nods simply and looks the artifacts over before tucking them away. "They will help. The Eye says so. …How are we to use them?" she asks, before noticing the crates with presents. She gives Mallea a questioning look.

>>728905
"Hm? Oh, I wasn't really asking you. I didn't expect you to have an answer. …Who's Roger again?"

 No.728907

>>728906
"Wha-who…who's Roger?! The cute, rainbow-glowing remora that floats around with me?! You've met him!"

 No.728908

>>728907
"Oh. It. Of course." She doesn't seem awfully interested, more focused on getting out of this place as soon as possible.

 No.728909

>>728908
"He's not an 'it', he's Roger! Sorry he's not one of your stupid demons you enjoy making come out of your stupid book!"

 No.728910

>>728904

"I am quite familiar with contagious negativity…" Cutlass nods.

"I hope our helping you doesn't end up making this worse…"

She then follows everyone downstairs.

 No.728911

>>728909

"What pronoun would you use, then?"

 No.728912

>>728911
"I JUST said he!" One of her eyes starts to get a bit of a twitch.

 No.728913

>>728912

"Oh… that you did."

"How do you know Roger is a boy?"

 No.728914

>>728904
Alder cocks his head to the side in confusion at the presents, before shrugging it off. It's hard to say what thats about, but they'll find out eventually.

"So, Miss Mallea, do you happen to know what the last 'sin' might be? And, why we need these?"

 No.728915

>>728914
"Cutlass said that the last sin is Spite," Mallea says. "I'm no theologist, but I can tell why anyone would consider it a sin. Spite begets no shortage of unnecessary conflict. All to try and sate one's ego, but an ego can always devour more. It will be waiting for us in the basement… it must embody the darkness that flooded over us earlier."

>>728914
>>728910
>>728905
>>728906
Once she realizes that Thessaly and Alder have spotted the presents, Mallea moves out of her awkward position. "After we finished that business with the Kalphite raiders, I decided to spend my time until sundown making a few things to reward you for your help here. I was a little short on time, so I got in touch with one of my associates, and she brought over a few other trinkets. Where she is from, her people are in the midst of observing a very peculiar holiday, akin to that Hearth's Warming business I've heard about from travelers outside the Ribcage. I would let you have them now, but we are in the middle of something. She did leave a note, if that would keep you sated until we are done."

>>728905
>>728906
>>728910
>>728914
"The dagger is used to cut both bride and groom. Their blood is collected in the chalice and consecrated as a sacrifice to the Architect, the Creator Poet-God of the Krikral, before being poured upon the altar. To put it simply, the mingling of shared blood is a vow of eternal duty, loyalty, co-dependence and determination between bride and groom. I hear that for many ponies, an exchange of precious metals and flowery vows is enough to swear loyalty in the marital covenant. Not so with the Krikral. Blood, sweat and effort are the only things they'll recognize."

She thinks for a moment. "I am not certain how this will translate into opening up the basement. I will try giving it a little of my blood when we arrive. We'll have to try to figure out another option if that doesn't work."

With that, Mallea gestures for you to follow her. Rather than go back out the way past the toy city, she opts for the eastern wall of this room. She pulls back a loose panel in the wall, revealing a handle upon a chain. She gives it a sturdy tug, and you hear heavy clunking and metal grinding in the walls and floorboards. Mechanisms turn and whirr, and then a trap door opens on the western side of the room. You see that it opens onto the second floor balcony, which overlooks the foyer.

Mallea looks down at the balcony and foyer. "I'm… shocked. It looks downright normal. Apart from the mold, of course. It looks nothing like when I explored by myself earlier."

She reaches down, extending a ladder from the trap door, and starts descending.

 No.728916

>>728909
She just rolls her eyes. "I'm going to allow that," she says stiffly. "If only because we're in a tense situation. But I would watch your tongue in the future, shark."

>>728915
She raises an eyebrow. "Curious. I cannot remember the last time I was part of a Hearthswarming celebration."

She looks intrigued by the trapdoor mechanism. "I suppose this is not the only one of its kind in the house," she comments as she follows Mallea down.

 No.728917

>>728915

"What? is the disgusting mold not enough for you?" Cutlass comments as she follows down the ladder.

>>728916
>>728915

"Hearthswarming is overrated anyway," Cutlass comments idly.

 No.728918

>>728904
>>728915
Cloud steps back from the crate to not pry further as he spies the wrapped Hearths' Warming presents, assuming they're old, stowed away gifts for Palafox.

As they pick out the goblet and dagger as the key, Cloud winces a bit at the explanation.
"Seems a bit morbid for a marriage proposal."

Cloud follows down the ladder to the new passage down to the balcony.
"Really? What did it look like for you, cause this mold looks like it's been here for ages."

 No.728919

>>728915
"That could make sense, yes. Perhaps we will need some source of light, maybe?" the griffon suggests, before shrugging a little. He checks on the remaining cure-all to ensure he still has it, and tucks it away for later. At the mention of rewards, he flicks his tail again and huffs. "P-Please, you do not need to do such a thing for us… but, it would be rude of me to not accept it when offered."

>>728915
"Hmm? Oh, I think I vaguely remember the mold… it is all so foggy, though. I suppose we have done a good enough job so far…" he mentions, carefully following her down.

>>728916
>>728917
"I did a Hearthswarming celebration with my mentor in Equestria! It was actually quite nice." the griffon says, smiling at the thought of it.

 No.728920

>>728913
"I. Just. Know."

>>728915
"That sounds like a bad thing to do if that were me…."

>>728916
"Oh right, like that means anything to you. Ms. Too Good To Answer My Questions But I'll Ask My Own Instead!"

 No.728921

>>728919

"Just the two of you? Sounds rather… sparse."

>>728920

"I… see…"

 No.728922

>>728921
"No, of course not- it was with others in her performance troupe."

 No.728923

>>728922
[1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.728924

>>728918
>Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 6 = 6

 No.728925

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 7 + 1 = 8

 No.728926

>>728922

Cutlass does a double take and raises an eyebrow. "I'm… sorry? Your mentor was a… performer?"

 No.728927

>>728920
This seems to have stricken a nerve. She turns around and faces her icily, lowering her voice. "You're right. I am too good for your tomfoolery. I was here before your parents ever thought of bringing you into this world, and I'll be here after old age returns your bones to the weeds. You are nothing to me. You, or your overgrown leech. You'd best remember that."

With that, she turns tail, moving well ahead of Cerulean in the group.

>>728915
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.728928

>>728926
"Well, the one who helped me out in Equestria, yes. I suppose 'mentor' might be a strong word. I stayed with her for a year or two until I was more adjusted, and… 'back on my feet'."

 No.728929

>>728928

"You know, I just assumed you were some sort of healer or magic researcher. What exactly is it that you do?"

"Or… did before you became a pirate?"

 No.728930

>>728915

[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728931

>>728927
"Don't worry, I will. See if I ever help you out with anything ever again, you cold as a trench eel!" She yells back, letting Thessaly ahead and has to control herself from starting to smack her tail angrily against something.

 No.728932

>>728916
>>728917
>>728918
>>728919
>>728920
Mallea tosses you a small envelope with Hearth's Warming stickers on it. "If you want to read it, here it is. She's an odd sort, my associate. Always changing names, identities, even bodies, with magic. Aloof, to say the least. She seemed to know a bit about you though, even before I spoke about you. Apparently you're quite famous where she's from."

You see that the envelope is marked "For the Beestings and the Secret Assassins."

>>728918
"As I said, every time that I've explored the manor at night by myself, it has been an unsolvable labyrinth, both above and belowground. But, when exploring with a group, it's always been the same manor that I've known, the manor I know so well. I can't understand how that works."

>>728916
"Correct," Mallea says with a hint of pride. "Most, we made for the sake of sheer convenience. It's just like what inspired our experiments in teleportation. 'Wouldn't it be wonderful to not have to walk those few extra steps to the kitchen?' and so on and so forth. If we are near one, I will point it out; they may come more in handy than we know."

(1/2)
>Posting this half first because there's a major tonal shift in the second half. If you want to read the letter, you can do so now

 No.728933

>>728929
"Well, I practiced that while I traveled with her and her friends, and would try to treat what I could when we passed through different towns. It gave me a chance to practice it, and something better to do than thievery. Aside from that… I learned Equestrian, and learned a little bit of dancing."

>>728932
Shrugging a little, Alder decides to read the letter.

 No.728934

>>728932
Cerulean is too upset to want to read the letter as she seems intent on grinding her teeth together slightly.

 No.728935

>>728932
"I guess it's less scary if you're with a group, so whatever the magic going on here is it doesn't bother trying to trick you as much."
Cloud surmises.

When Mallea tosses over the envelope, Cloud looks over it, especially the sticks.
"Is it Hearth's Warming time already? We can't have been out at sea that long."
He says in shock, eyes settling at how it's labelled to their crews. Taken by curiosity, he opens the letter to read it.

 No.728936

>>728933

Cutlass fails to hold back a small chortle at the notion of Alder dancing. "I'm sorry, that's just… not what I expected to hear. You don't exactly strike me as a dancer."

>>728932

Cutlass eyes the letter suspiciously. Then, she opens it up and reads it.

 No.728937

>>728932
She blinks, letting her curiosity get the better of her, and decides to read the letter. She could use a good distraction anyway. "Who is this associate of yours?" she asks.

 No.728938

>>728937
>>728936
>>728935
>>728933
The letter reads,

"Hey!

"Thanks for three years of fun, adventure and challenges. Expect some portraits the next time we cross paths. I hope these presents will help bring you to many more years of piracy, gold and glory. Happy Advent, or as I guess you call it, Hearth's Warming. Hey, did you know that in the Ribcage, there are dozens of holidays around this time of year. You see, over on…"

The letter continues on for some time on a long-winded ramble about what looks like trivia. It doesn't seem like it may help right now.

It's signed, Capt. AutuDMn


>>728937
"She wouldn't appreciate if I gave out that information," Mallea says. "Though she is not a Witch, she is an explorer and adventurer, employing many disguises, personae and shticks to get whatever interests her."

 No.728939

>>728920
>>728919
>>728918
>>728917
>>728916
>>728927
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLW_CLW5a5g

Mallea leads you down through the halls of the second and first floors. Even after your triumphs against the Immolatioknight, the Mischiefs, and the Cub, the damage to the house seems to have gotten worse. The mold sinks deeper into the wood, and is wet and slick underhoof… Dust clogs suits of armor, tables, dressers, lamps… a thick and persistent odor of burnt wood and paint threatens to make you lightheaded.

Though you know the way through the manor by now, thanks to the maps, it feels as if you are walking this way for the first time. There's a feeling of bewilderment, of being overwhelmed, that some feel when they are brought into a new, vast and unfamiliar area.

But for you it is slightly different. It feels almost like wandering through strange wilderness, enchanted by dark and malevolent magic. Something about it draws out a primitive, animal response, deep from the shadowy recesses of your bones. You feel continually that predators might leap out. Every shadow cast feels as though it might hide poisonous fangs, serrated claws, monstrous sinew, starving maws.

Yet, nothing jumps out at you.

Under the increasing pressure of what feel like thousands of stares from the shadows all around, you eventually go west down the first floor west hallway, and then north, up to the door to the corridor that connects to the basement. There is no door there, only a stone altar, covered with a thin, white silk cloth. True to what Mallea said earlier, the altar's ornate stone carvings seem to evoke a serious ceremony, as befitting a wedding. You note that, in the stone of the wall blocking your path, there are similar carvings, in the shape of a gate that a married couple might pass through post-vows.

Silently, Mallea places the chalice on the altar, then makes a small cut in her hoof with the ceremonial dagger, dropping some small red beads of blood into its base. She steps back and cleans the wound, but nothing happens. The solid wall where the door to the basement corridor once was does not change.

Mallea turns your way. "Any guesses?"

 No.728940

>>728939

"Why does the house feel so different now?" Cutlass comments, unsure if it will help. "The only thing different now is you," she says to Mallea.

"Everything here seems to be focused on you."

"I don't know if that helps, that's all I have."

 No.728941

>>728938
"Huh, that's pretty nice of your associate."
Cloud says to Mallea.
"If it is Hearths' Warming time though, we'll need to decorate a little after we get your place all fixed up."

>>728939
Cloud walks through the manor, starting to grow uneasy as they approach the basement. He holds his dagger tightly and at the ready, ears turning this way and that to keep listen for any surprises or magic mishaps that may come their way.

When they reach the wall, Cloud stands by as Mallea draws some blood and drips them into the chalice. When nothing happens, he looks over to it.
"If it's a wedding altar, it'll probably need a second offering…"
He says, standing a little awkwardly.
"I'd offer, but with Chiu… even if this isn't official or anything it just feels wrong to do."

 No.728942

>>728941

"Ugh, doesn't she have servants to do the decorating?" Cutlass grumbles, not seeming pleased about the whole notion of celebrating Hearthswarming in general.

 No.728943

>>728936
Alder flushes, before rubbing at his neck a little "I-I suppose I can understand that, yes. I was very timid about it, but… i-it can be rather fun." he says.

—-
>>728939
"Hrm… the feeling of this is all… awful. Whatever it is, it feels as if it is waiting just where I am not looking…" the griffon says, shivering a little. "As for what to do… maybe, are there vows to be said?"

 No.728944

>>728943

"Ugh, I only have negative memories of dancing. Certainly no fun. But, I suppose we are talking about two very different kinds of dancing."

 No.728945

>>728938
She frowns in confusion as she reads the letter, looking from it to Mallea. "Never heard of her."

>>728939
Not for the first time lately, the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She peers at the shadows, ready to lash out with an incantation at the first hint of things going south. The fact that they don't puts her even more on edge.

As nothing happens when Mallea offers her blood, she shrugs, taking matters into her own hooves. "Perhaps a larger offering is required." Without asking, she takes the knife and spills some of her own blood into the chalice, waiting to see what will happen next.
[1d10] Offering

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.728946

>>728944
"Most likely, yes. I did, well… performance dancing, I suppose. Flashy, showy stuff."

 No.728947

>>728942
"Have you seen any around here?"
Cloud says sarcastically.
"Don't tell me you thing Hearths' Warming decorating is a chore too."

 No.728948

>>728939
"No, none of this really looks familiar to me," she replies with an annoyed, though somewhat curious, head tilt.

 No.728949

>>728946

"I don't understand how that works!" Cutlass suddenly bursts out as if she's had this on her mind for a while. "I've only ever done ballroom dancing, and even that is too much to memorize. I mean, I was perfectly adequate at it, but I still was robotic. I wouldn't call it fun at all."

"Then, I see performers on stage jumping and spinning around in these intricate routines! I can't imagine how they memorize all of that and still make it look so smooth! And they have such smiles on their faces! How are they enjoying themselves while doing all those complicated things in front of people!?"

 No.728950

>>728948
>>728945
>>728940
>>728941
>>728943
Mallea blinks as Cloud makes his suggestion. "Perhaps you are on the right track after all, Cloud. It doesn't matter who does it. Perhaps you may all need to do it."

When Thessaly drops a little of her own blood into the chalice, you notice that the wall in front of you starts to shimmer, almost turning into a vague mist. Mallea withdraws a wand from her bag and experimentally pokes at the shimmering. The wand goes a little past the surface of the shimmering, but still collides with something solid about a centimeter or so in.

Mallea nods. "So that's the trick. The rest of you are going to have to offer yours to the cause."

>roll perception, add any visual bonuses you may have

 No.728951

>>728950
She folds her arms and stands to the side, looking on as the rest of the group offer their blood, peering through His Eye readily.
[1d01]

Roll #1 1 = 1

 No.728952

>>728951
Whoops

[1d10]

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.728953

>>728947

"Of course it is! And what do you even get out of it? It's just a bunch of dead plants and shiny baubles thrown about in celebration of a horrid, cold time of year."

>>728950

"Hold on, I don't want to jump to that conclusion so quickly…" Cutlass says as she observes the wall and altar. [1d10] perception (would Hornlight be a visual bonus!?)

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.728954

>>728950
"I hope not… No offense, it's just a bit strange feeling."
As the wall shimmers and Mallea is able to push her wand slightly through, Cloud takes his Yearning Knife, pushing it through the shimmering mist.
"Let's give this a try."
>Poke [DC5] [1d10]
>Yearning Knife: Attacks from this knife can cut through magic, enabling them to counter magical attacks and damage lingering magical effects, as well as Amnis-type Aura Abilities. Countering a magical attack reduces its damage, or negates it completely if you match or beat the roll on the attack. Damaging and dispelling lingering magical effects may be more complex, and generally requires striking at the source of the effect.

>Perception [1d10]

>Echolocation

Roll #1 10 = 10 / Roll #2 4 = 4

 No.728955

>>728953
"Wow, you really are cold hearted child."
Cloud says in astonishment.
"I figured you'd take Hearths' Warming for granted, but to not like it at all? I feel sorry for you."

 No.728956

>>728955

"First of all," Cutlass says, sounding annoyed at having to repeat herself. "I am NOT a child."

"Second, what's the like about the holiday? It's a time where you're forced to interact with a bunch of people you barely know so they can judge you and take your things."

 No.728957

>>728956

*What's to like

 No.728958

>>728949
"O-Oh! Well, I suppose I could explain it some later, if you would like. It is definitely nothing like ballroom dancing, for sure." he says, before looking back to Mallea.

>>728950
Perception [1d10] (+1 if Master Thief applies)
Alder pricks his arm, and lets a bit of blood drip into the chalice.

Roll #1 9 = 9

 No.728959

>>728950
Cerulean, being full of suspicion of this place, eyes the shimmery bit cautiously before doing anything rash.

>Doubt electroception applies here

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 8 + 1 = 9

 No.728960

>>728956
Cloud blinks, taking a moment to process what Cutlass said.
"Wow, so you never had a real Hearths' Warming. Now I really feel sorry for you," He says with concern, "Most normal ponies spend the holiday with family and friends and just enjoy spending time together, and also give presents."

 No.728961

>>728956
"You also get things in return," she points out.

 No.728962

>>728960

"Is that not what I just described?" Cutlass asks dryly.

 No.728963

>>728961

"No, my grandparents get things in return," Cutlass responds. "I get books. And fruit…"

 No.728964

>>728962
"No, not at all."

 No.728965

>>728959
>>728958
>>728953
>>728954
>>728952
You all note something peculiar about this whole thing. As Cloud gets ready to push the knife into the slight shimmering that has appeared on the wall, the shimmering actually increases before he puts the knife in. He pokes in the knife, which cuts through a little more of the magical wall, increasing the shimmering, but only by a little bit.

In other words, the knife had almost no effect, and certainly less effect than Thessaly's blood did.

In other words, some other unseen force is also causing the magical wall to disappear at the exact same rate that your blood caused it to disappear.

When Cloud pulls out the knife, preparing to try it again, the shimmer increases again, seemingly for no reason. Cloud inserts the knife, which once again only cuts through a little of the magical wall. He pulls it out, and after a moment's pause, more of the magical wall vanishes, seemingly without cause. Then, when Alder puts in his blood, the shimmering finally vanishes, leaving behind the door that was originally there.

Mallea takes the chalice, pouring out the blood upon the altar, staining the white cloth red. She takes it and wipes out the inside of the chalice before stowing it away in her bag. She didn't seem to notice whatever it was that was going on with the magical wall during all of that.

She opens up the door, revealing the corridor to the basement. The double doors that lead to the basement seem unchanged. Mallea tries the handle, and they turn easily, just as they did before.

Mallea looks to you, her jaw set and eyes focused. Her horn glows faintly.

"Are you all prepared?"

 No.728966

>>728964

"How ironic that the naive one calls ME a child," Cutlass rolls her eyes.

>>728958

"I doubt I'd be good at it, but I'd at least like to know the mental process," Cutlass nods. "Once we get out of here."

>>728965

"Yes, let's see what this Spite has in store for us," Cutlass nods.

 No.728967

>>728965
"This is a trap," she states plainly, staring down the corridor with an inscrutable expression. "But where else can we go." She takes the first step forward. "Let's get this over with."

 No.728968

>>728966
"Yea, sure. I'm naive for celebrating a normal holiday the right way like everypony else."

>>728965
Cloud looks at the wall oddly as it reacts to his knife. Once it finally fades, he nods to Mallea, brushing aside this occurrence.
"Let's settle this magic and get your house back to normal."

 No.728969

>>728965
"As prepared as I can be, I imagine… whenever you all are, we should go."

 No.728970

>>728968

"You're naive for thinking that family is anything other than a bunch of people who judge you. You're naive for thinking your family is visiting you for any reason other than to get things from you."

 No.728971

>>728965
"Yeah, let's go. The sooner the better."

 No.728972

>>728970
Cloud looks down at Cutlass, due to their difference in size, almost with pity.
"My family was close, though that's pretty much the norm with farmers. We shared a lot, and didn't need to judge since most stuff was out in the open."

 No.728973

>>728972

"I…" Cutlass attempts to respond, but has nothing to say. She has a look of genuine confusion on her face. "How many people are we talking about here?" she asks as if she's trying to figure out a riddle.

 No.728974

>>728973
"What, for my family? It was pretty much just me and my parents. Occasionally the grandparents too if they were around and the weather wasn't too bad."

 No.728975

>>728974

"Ah, that's it," Cutlass says with an understanding nod. "Hearthswarming for us was an unpleasant, arduous affair of dozens of ponies with relations so obscure, they needed a literal chart to prove they were related at all. Not to mention all the 'friends' who wished to be related to us. Including the colt who my grandparents intended for me to marry one day," Cutlass rolls her eyes.

"If it was just me and my mother, it would certainly have been a far more manageable and perhaps even enjoyable holiday. If my mother weren't such an insufferable coward."

 No.728976

>>728975
"Wow, yea, that hardly sounds like a family gathering at all," Cloud comments, before pausing at the mention of an arranged marriage, "Or even a normal family."

As she comments on her mother, Cloud looks unsure on speaking, so he holds his tongue to prevent opening that can of worms.

 No.728977

>>728975
"Arraigned Marriage? Ah… my apologies. It sounds like many of your 'friends' and 'family' were not quite so much." he says, kicking the ground a little.

 No.728978

>>728966
>>728971
>>728967
>>728968
>>728969
Mallea pushes open the doors, revealing a long set of stairs leading downward. Unlike how the rest of the manor changed between the state it was in before sundown, and the state it was in after you woke up, the basement almost looks the same as it was the first time you set hoof in it. The stone walls are cool and clean, and the sides are lined with magitech electrical lights, providing light to the darkness.

Mallea gulps, and proceeds downward.

And, with no other choice, you start to walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

And walk.

The stairs just keep going and going and going and going. Down and down and down and down.

>make one mystery roll and one perception roll.

 No.728979

>>728978
Cloud walks down the stairs after Mallea. And walks, and walks, and starts to wonder how long these stairs are. She said the mansion was mostly normal when in a group, and he definitely remembers these being a lot shorter.
"…This is the right way, right?"
He asks, starting to recall the one dream he had of it's near endless staircase. His ears focus forward, keeping at notice for the end, or if anything is up ahead of them.
>Perception/Echolocation [1d10]
>Mystery [1d10]

Roll #1 3 = 3 / Roll #2 3 = 3

 No.728980

>>728978
[1d10] Perception (+1 if Master Thief is applicable)
[1d10] Mystery roll!

>>728979
>>728978
"Perhaps… have we, missed something? I feel like we are missing something vital."

Roll #1 6 = 6 / Roll #2 10 = 10

 No.728981

>>728977
>>728976

"Oh, I'm sure it's not THAT different for most families," Cutlass says dismissively. "The arranged marriage is the most unusual thing, I imagine. I mean, it's not like pirates have been much friendlier. Except my current crew. But, I've thought that before. So, we'll see."

>>728978

Cutlass provides a little extra light with her hornlight, hopefully helping the perception. [1d10]

[1d10] mystery roll

Roll #1 8 = 8 / Roll #2 10 = 10

 No.728982

>>728978
"More trickery." She leans down the stairs and fires off a magic bolt into the gloom, trying to see if there's any end to the stairs. Though she already suspects the answer.
[1d10] Perception
[1d10] ???

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

 No.728983

>>728978
"Jeez, just how far is it? Hey, think you could give us a light?" Cerulean asks the fox.

>Mystery

[1d10]
>Perceppy
[1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4 / Roll #2 4 = 4

 No.728984

>>728983
>>728982
>>728981
>>728980
>>728979
It's a faint feeling.

It's like walking out into the ocean's waters, gradually getting acclimated to the cold, and to the push and pull of the waves, with each gentle step.

But eventually, even a seasoned pirate is blindsided by a wave taller, bigger and stronger than them. Even if they can keep their hoofing, the water that washes over their heads can easily sweep them away to waters unknown.

All of you are met with such a feeling. It's not overwhelming, not subtle, but there's a brief lull in your focus, your alertness. You nearly stumble under its gentle push. As your heads clear, you realize that you are standing in darkness. At some point, the lights lining the walls stopped giving off their light. You look back up searching for the light, and have to crane back almost all the way to see the faint glimmerings of the magitech bulbs all the way up at the start of the tunnel. They glimmer faintly like far-off stars.

By the light of Cutlass' horn, you are able to see that the tunnel is getting far more narrow. The walls funnel more the deeper you go in, until the tunnel is only wide enough for a single person to go in at a time.

You look down, and see many, many hoofprints below you. Dozens. Hundreds, perhaps more. Scuff marks, subtle chips in the stone. They are utterly innumerable.

The only way forward it seems, is down that narrow shaft. Thessaly's bolt fizzles out before it can reach the end of it.

 No.728985

>>728984
Cloud, although able to see in the dark, is still unnerved and stops as he suddenly finds himself in the dark. He looks back, confused if they suddenly skipped ahead, or the lights just went out on them. He looks back down, seeing the tunnel narrow and tighten.
"…Maybe I should go first, or more in the front. I'll be able to tell if anything is there before we'd see it, so I can give a heads up."
Cloud says to the group, starting to head down slowly and careful, head lowered and ears facing front.
>Echolocation Perception [1d10]

Roll #1 4 = 4

 No.728986

>>728984

"Hmm… Odd," Cutlass comments as she realizes she failed to noticed reaching the bottom of the steps.

>>728985

"I'd prefer if you were in the back, watching for anything behind us. I have have the light, I'll go first," Cutlass says with uncharacteristic bravery.

Cutlass goes first, lighting the way.

[1d10] to light the way with competence!

Roll #1 3 = 3

 No.728987

>>728984
She peers down into the shaft. Part of her wants to turn back, but there's no doing that now. She takes a deep breath and steels herself. "Well. In for a penny, in for a pound." She follows the others in warily, peering through the dark, trying to make out anything at all.
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 5 = 5

 No.728988

>>728984
"Ah… this is quite unsettling." the griffon says, peering further down. He takes note of the chips and scuffs in the floor, and tries to look for… well, anything. A sign of the 'right' way?
[1d10] Perception

Roll #1 2 = 2

 No.728989

>>728984
Cerulean tightens her body, getting ready for the next thing to come at her in this trench of a mansion.

>Electroception perception

[1d10+1]

Roll #1 3 + 1 = 4

 No.728990

>>728989
>>728988
>>728987
>>728986
>>728985
With Cutlass in front, you are forced into a single file procession, a claustrophobic arrangement to say the least. Cutlass leads the way down the tunnel, the stairs below her feeling cold and slick, both from being smoothed out by countless hoof prints, and from drops of some unknown viscous substance. All you can see in the dim light is that the liquid is black and almost gel like. The further down you go, the more you are aware of a very faint, but omnipresent pressure, like that of the deep sea, bearing down on you. The more that it increases, the more that you can hear. The more that you feel hyperaware. The movement of your tongue. The shape and weight of your lips. The subtle sounds and feelings of your eyes moving about in their sockets. The rustling of every single hair covering not just your scalp, but on your coat. The click and pop of your bones. The blood running through your veins.

Just when all of this seems to reach a fever pitch, Cutlass at last finds a single narrow door at the end of this interminable hallway. The door is very old, the paint chipped and wood splintering with the wearing of eras and eras.

She tests the handle.

It clicks open.

In the gap of the door awaits the dark.

>Paused


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